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Western Animation: Archer

When Adam Reed (the creator of Sealab 2021 and Frisky Dingo) went to [adult swim] with the idea for Archer — a show aptly described as "James Bond meets Arrested Development" — the network passed it over. The FX network saw potential in Archer, however, and greenlit the show, which began to air in September 2009. (To their credit, [adult swim] plugs it every so often during their bumps.)

The show focuses on title protagonist Sterling Archer (an agent for the open-market spy agency ISIS) and his random misadventures both inside and outside of the office walls. Archer makes for a well-trained spy — but his Jerkass behavior and his tendency to remain oblivious to everything except himself often renders his competence in the field next-to-useless.

Archer's humor, much like Arrested Development (and spiritual predecessor Frisky Dingo), relies heavily on Call Backs and Running Gags alongside a large Ensemble Cast (including a cast member or two from Arrested Development) and Two Lines, No Waiting plots. A fan of either Arrested Development or Frisky Dingo will almost certainly enjoy Archer, while someone who found either show repetitive or too low-key probably won't.

Come season five, the show began a new, major Story Arc to prevent Seasonal Rot. Dubbed "Archer Vice", the first episode opens with the FBI closing down ISIS, citing that the agency was never legally sanctioned in the first place. No longer spies but unwilling to be unemployed, the staff remain in Malory's employ to further help her "dispose" of the leftover evidence in her concealed vault: a (literal) metric tonne of ISIS-confiscated cocaine, worth about $50m. That said, however, the end of Season Five, plus the confirmation of Season Six means the plot is getting (yet another) Sequel Reset. As confirmed by the cast and creators at San Diego Comic Con 2014, the next season will see the plot continue in yet another (totally different) direction to Archer: Vice. Season Six is currently set to air sometime in 2015.

This series has a character sheet, a Shout Outs page, a page listing tropes found on the characters' Twitter feeds, a page featuring enlightening interviews with the cast and creators and a page of episode summaries. You can vote for best episodes here.

Don't confuse this show with the BBC radio soap The Archers, or the many other fictional characters who share Sterling's surname. It also has nothing to do with the Archer Archetype (that's about those guys with the bows and arrows).


Archer contains examples of the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

    A-C 
  • Abusive Parents: Malory Archer.
    • She wasn't even in Archer's life except for the occasional telegram until he was 5 years old. While raising him, she got him drunk at age eight, taught him how to gamble, and stole his most prized possessions (which she'd just given him) so she could blame him to teach him a lesson.
    Malory: I don't care if he's happy!
    Trexler: Well that's obvious.
    • As of Season 2, she's become an abusive grandmother.
    Malory: A-wassat? That's a bumblebee! You wanna pretty bumblebee? There you go! *Tosses the plush away so the Wee Baby Seamus starts crying* Aww, what's the matter, what happened? Did somebody trick you, hmm? See? That's how the world works, dear, and I'm the only one you can trust.
    Lana: Wow. A ton of stuff just started making sense.
  • Accidental Innuendo: Generally called out by Archer with "Phrasing!" In-Universe
    Malory: You wanna play me hard?
    Archer: Phrasing.
    Malory: Well, then, you better nut up!
    Archer: Phrasing!
    Malory: Because I've swallowed just about all I'm going to take from you.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Archer called Cheryl "Carol" so many times that she legally changed it just so he would be right. This led to a running gag where she would change her name every episode until the writers presumably got tired of it. For awhile the joke was that she had changed it so many times she forgot what it was, and now it's back to Archer calling her Carol instead of Cheryl.
  • Achievements in Ignorance:
    • Cheryl/Carol, during an exchange in "Once Bitten".
    Malory: Lana, this is a Central Asian, male-dominated, xenophobic puppet state whose dictator changed the words for bread and Friday to his dog's name.
    Cheryl: Gerpgork.
    Malory: Yes, gerpgo- ... how did you know that?
    Cheryl: Oh my god, how did I know that?
  • Action Girl:
    • Lana.
    • Malory, based on various flashbacks and the fact that she was able to shoot her son six times in the torso with what was revealed the next season to be a .44 magnum. She expresses pride that all six shots were grouped "in the '10 ring.'"
    • Pam pulls a little Suddenly Always Knew That on this trope, suddenly revealing that she's an underground bare-knuckle boxer who can snap a man's neck and take a punch like a champ. She's even got the third stanza of "The Destruction of Sennacherib" tattooed on her back under 13 tally marks. Oh, and she drift-races against the Yakuza. She has, on several occasions (Un Chien Tangerine, Sea Tunt, A Kiss While Dying) demonstrated that she can easily best every other ISIS employee—including Archer—in physical combat.
    • Katya Kazanova, a female KGB agent.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • Archer, Pam, and Cheryl are amused by the pirate animation that accompanies the computer worm in "Tragical History".
    • Malory, in "Double Trouble."
    Archer: Katya does not have VD!
    Malory: You haven't had sex with her?
    Archer: [sarcastically] Ha-ha, for your... heh, that was pretty good.
    • Archer again in "The Limited"
    Lana: In what way? In what possible way did that work?
    Archer: Well, uh, A) They're all incapacitated. And B) I got to blow up a train!
    Lana: Well thanks, Gomez.
    Archer: Nice.
    • Pam, in "Space Race"
    Pam: [angrily] And then you dump me for your big-titted Russian sexbot, little miss... uh...
    Archer: ...R2-Double-D2?
    Pam: Hah, yeah!
    • Pam does it to herself, oddly enough, in A Going Concern. Freshly returned from a Noodle Incident that got her deported from Jamaica, she spends the episode immersing herself in Rasta culture. When Archer tries and fails to think of a clever insult, she sportingly supplies one, chuckling at it as Archer walks away.
    Archer: God, would you give it a rest, uh...damn, I had something for this.
    Pam: Blob Marley. (beat) Heh.
    • At the end of "Archer Vice: A Debt of Honor", Malory gets frustrated with Archer and knocks his phone out of his hand, breaking it. When Archer starts laughing his ass off and reveals the phone was actually Woodhouse's, Lana can't help sniggering a bit, too.
  • Adam Westing: Kenny Loggins plays an arrogant Jerkass version of himself, in the middle of re-branding, and refers to himself as "K-Log".
  • A Date with Rosie Palms:
    • Implied in "A Going Concern," when Archer punches his mother's desk and it starts vibrating:
    Archer: What is that?
    Ray: Yeah.
    Archer: No.
    Ray: Oh yeah.
    Archer: No!
    Ray: Not a bumblebee is it?
    • From the first episode:
    Malory: And for God's sake, take a shower. Smells like a whorehouse in here.
    Archer: Okay, your own fingers.
  • Adventures in Comaland: Archer gets a snakebite in "Once Bitten" and his Spirit Advisor James Mason takes him through traumatic memories to a repressed memory of the identity of his father. He can't recall it once he wakes up, though.
  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • Archer sets a speed record with this in "Space Race Part 2." He learns an important lesson about it not always being about him at the end, and refuses to engage in a one-on-one fight with Barry...only to turn right around and demand that he is allowed to land the shuttle. He lampshades this himself by using it as a reason he should be "rewarded" at the end.
    • Archer doesn't change his attitude to Woodhouse because he gets knocked out immediately after learning his lesson.
  • Affably Evil:
    • The pair of Camp Gay assassins from "Honeypot." Outside of when they're trying to kill Archer and Ramon, they're pretty cool dudes. They even let Woodhouse keep the expensive clothes they bought for him.
    Oh, we're a hit squad. Forgot to tell you.
    • Conway Stern, right up until the moment he stabs Archer in the back and steals the plans.
    • Rona Thorne turns out to be a Soviet sleeper agent but never stops being genuinely nice to Lana.
    • Roman Calzado, the Big Bad of "El Contador".
  • Affectionate Parody: "Live and Let Dine" contains Anthony Bourdain As Himself in a TV-cooking-contest called "Bastard Chef."
  • AI Is A Crap Shoot: Subverted:
    Krieger: Because the worm has transformed the mainframe into a sentient being.
    Malory: ...What?
    Krieger: I'm kidding.
  • Ain't No Rule that Archer cannot win Melawan raja (single combat for the position of Pirate King) by pulling out a gun and Knee Capping his opponent.
    Archer: Suck it! Cause I'm still the king!
    Bucky: This no fair! You break the rules!
    Archer: What rules?! We're pirates!
    Bucky: Melawan raja mean hand-hand combat!
    Archer: Boo-hoo, show me! Show me where it says that! Take your time. I'm hourly.
    Bucky: [leafing through Pirate's Code] I know it in here somewhere... Damn! Okay, maybe it don't say this exact words, but everybody know —
    Archer: Nooope! Fair is — well it wasn't exactly fair, but since it wasn't expressly forbidden, tough titties!
  • All Germans Are Nazis:
    • Subverted with Kraus, who is immediately made the Red Herring of a bomb plot. Turns out he isn't responsible for the bomb, and he actually got his scar saving a Jewish girl from a bunch of skinheads.
    • It turns out that Dr. Krieger's parents were Nazis, and he might be one of The Boys from Brazil. He somehow acquired armor from the Kriegsmarine cruiser Admiral Graf Spee, to guard his laboratory at ISIS.
      • In Southbound and Down, Doctor Krieger uses Ray's bionics to force him to goosestep and give the fascist salute for over two hours while Wagner blares in the background. When Ray protests that it's no longer funny, the doctor replies, "It's not supposed to be funny."
  • Alliterative Name: Katya Kazanova
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: Conway Stern sports an Ashkenazi last name, despite the fact that he's black. It's later revealed that his identity is just a cover, so he apparently used an Ashkenazi name to help "prove" his identity to the clueless gentiles at ISIS.
  • All Just a Dream: Teased at the end of season 5 (which was a whole season of Something Completely Different) as a gag, but then swiftly subverted.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Lana is a Dominatrix into porn, Cheryl is a masochist who gets off on asphyxiation and death, Mallory tries to seduce any man that takes her fancy and is not shy about her activities, Pam is right into any action that might be happening, and that's just the main cast.
  • Always Wanted To Say That
    Sterling Archer: I have waited my entire life to say this exact phrase: I am commandeering this airboat!
  • Amazonian Beauty:
    • Pam gets a few comments on her physique after her coke habit burns off the fat.
    • Lana qualifies too, if not to the extent of Cocaïne Pam. She is stated to be beautiful, tall, and is visibly fit and even muscular to some extent.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: 1960s decor, 1970s cars, early 1980s computers, alongside modern cell phones, the internet and a veritable tidal wave of modern pop-culture references. The Soviet Union apparently still exists, which makes this outright Alternate History, although Leningrad is referred to as St. Petersburg, the Lubyanka has its post-1983 symmetrical façade, the world map behind Malory's desk indicates that Russia and the former Republics are all independent (including Turkmenistan, which is apparently led by an alternate version of its current leader), and Germany is apparently reunified. Archer's age during known historical events is inconsistent. All of this makes the time period ambiguous.
    Malory: What year do you think this is?
    Archer: I, uh— yeah, exactly. Good question.
To make it even further baffling, Archer has flashbacks to his teen years, wherein everyone is dressed out of the 1920s, even though a flashback to his birth showed it to be in the middle of World War II era North Africa.
  • Amusing Injuries: Variously deconstructed and reconstructed; while the injuries are almost always initially Played for Laughs, several times characters have had to seek advanced medical attention afterwards;
    • Both Archer and Lana have ruptured eardrums from gunfire. Lana needs to go to a hearing specialist, and Archer's tinnitus is a running gag.
    • Ray needs a CAT scan after a Tap on the Head from Archer leaves him unconscious for over an hour,
    • Barry suffers increasingly severe injuries from the Running Gag of - guess who? - dropping him off tall buildings; eventually culminating in needing to be rebuilt as a cyborg.
    • For Butt Monkey Brett, this is a Running Gag. He becomes increasingly decrepit from the gruesome injuries he receives off-camera until the episode "White Elephant", in which Brett is shot in the head during an FBI raid.
    • During the two part season 3 finale, Archer shoots both Cyril and Pam with the space gun's ion pulse, which can stop someone's heart. He shot Cyril for his own amusement and Pam to keep her quiet.
      Archer: So... "stun" may be a bit of a misnomer.
    • Largely played straight with the series' king of amusing injuries, Archer himself. He says it best in Season 4's "The Honeymooners".
    Archer: Since I started working at ISIS, I've been shot, stabbed, set on fire, poisoned, shot, sexually assaulted, partially chewed, shot, and declared legally dead. Twice on the same day!
    Lana: You said shot, like, three times.
    Archer: That's just by you! Total, it's more like... holy shit, nineteen!
  • An Aesop: Parodied at the end of several episodes, where Archer says "I'm sure there's a lesson somewhere in here" only to get immediately distracted by something else.
  • And Starring: Jessica Walter.
  • And Zoidberg
    Archer: Yeah, listen - doctor - I'm kinda making peace with my loved ones right now... Plus some other people.
  • Anything That Moves: Krieger, who at one point even exclaims he's glad to be aroused without thinking of homeless people. Even noted by other characters when he's chopping up a body:
    Malory: And is Krieger hard at work?
    Archer: He literally might be, yes.
    Lana: Ew.
  • Arc Number: 934TXS, which was frequently used as an access code in Sea Lab 2021.
  • Argentina Is Naziland: Dr. Krieger's parents are from Brazil, and are Nazis. He does not hide this well.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • During the "modified Ludovico" treatment, among the words displayed in quick succession are "war", "famine", "dead puppy", and "old people".
    • In an early episode, Archer is being shot at but isn't sure who it is, because he has a lot of enemies, including the KGB, the Stasi, Shining Path, and "this guy I know named Popeye," who turns out to be a loan sharking pimp and not Popeye Doyle.
  • The Artifact: Archer's code name, "Duchess". Barely mentioned at all past the first episode. Mainly because Archer is just so much of a catchier name and no one else has a code name.
  • Ascended Extra: As of Season 4, Cyril, Ray and Pam have all been promoted to occasional field agents to allow involvement outside the B-Plots.
  • Artificial Gravity: Aboard the space station Horizon.
  • Artistic License - Cars:
    • While the rendering of vehicles is quite accurate, for some reason all the GM G-series and Volkswagen Type 2 vans have Ford Econoline front ends (later version for the G-series, earlier snub-nosed versions for the Volkswagens). There's also the 1970 Dodge Challenger spy car Archer received for his birthday, which had very BMW-style gauges.
    • While there is no problem with their modelling, New York buses are Czechoslovakian 1966 Korosas and the taxis are 1962 Mercedes 300 SE (W112), rather than GM or Flxible New Looks, or the ubiquitous Checker A11. 1970 GAZ 24 sedans also turn up once or twice in New York, all of which count as Improbably Cool Car.
    • The 1973 Chevy Bel Air station wagon in "Coyote Lovely". With the hood open, it appears to have strut towers and something resembling the LT1 350 with home plate delete from the '90s Caprice, and the trim is Impala but the grille is from a Caprice.
  • Artistic License - Chemistry: Dry ice is nowhere near as deadly as "Pipeline Fever" depicts it to be, when Lana reaches into Archer's cooler. Also, keeping in mind that dry ice solidifies at minus 78 degrees Celsius, all the beer (and the one water bottle) in the cooler should have been frozen solid.
  • Art-Style Dissonance
  • As Himself: Burt Reynolds and Kenny Loggins.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Played straight and subverted in "Heart of Archness":
    Rip Riley: Archer! What a coincidence, 'cause I was just talking about you.
    Archer: With who? 'cause that bucktoothed little shit doesn't even speak English.
    Bucky: I do, rittle bit.
    Archer: No you don't!
    Bucky: And correct syntax is 'with whom!'
  • Aside Glance: Archer does this occasionally, but often it's so subtle you don't notice it.
  • Asshole Victim:
  • Ass Shove: In an interrogation in "Placebo Effect," Archer inserts a grenade into the rectum of a mook, and opines "The mark-II [fragmentation grenade] has kind of nubbily ridges, do you feel those? Different circumstances [it] might actually feel good."
  • A-Team Firing:
    • Frequently done and lampshaded as it happens, such as the KGB pelting Archer and Barry with machine gun fire in "White Nights" and missing every single shot. Also in "Double Trouble" where Archer, Katya, Malory, Lana, Cyril and Ray have a full standing blast-out until everyone is out of ammo and nobody gets hit.
    • Lana in training, according to Luke Troy in "The Wind Cries Mary". To make matters worse, she only carries two magazines with her.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other
    • Familial version at the end of season one with Sterling and his mother, though, she had just shot him six times in the torso.
    • Archer admitting that Lana is his only friend may count.
    • Archer risking his life to save Lana at the end of Season 4.
    • Archer genuinely distraught by Pam's apparent death from taking a bullet for him.
  • Back for the Dead: Jakov in "Crossing Over".
  • Back from the Dead: Charles and Rudy in "Archer Vice: A Kiss While Dying" and Yakuza boss Moto in "Archer Vice: A Debt of Honor".
  • Backseat Driver:
    • Cyril in "Training Day":
    Archer: I'm doing all kinds of stuff, Cyril! I'm shooting the gun, see? I'm driving the car...
    Cyril: I could drive better than that!
    Archer: So knock yourself out, I'm ejecting.
    • Pam and Lana as well in "The Papal Chase", though in their defense Archer was talking to the Pope instead of driving.
  • The Backwards R: In scenes that take place in Russia.
  • Bad Boss: Malory. The list of grievances from her employees is pretty long, but the most trope worthy offense has got to be her cold-blooded murder of the entire team of cleaning ladies in an elevator "accident" when they threatened to unionize for better working conditions. This seems to be a family trait, as Archer treats Woodhouse like garbage and thought he was a slave until the season 2 finale.
  • Bad Liar: Dr. Krieger:
    Cheryl: Wait, how do you know Portuguese?
    Krieger: Because I grew up in Braz...istol County, Rhode Island. Lot of Portuguese in Rhode Island.
    Cyril: Where you're from.
    Krieger: Born and raised.
    Cyril: What's the state capital?
    Krieger: ...Dallas?
    ...
    Krieger: Leave me alone! I am not a Nazi!
    Cyril: What about your father?
    Krieger: No! He was a scientist!
    Cyril: Pretty sure the Nazis had scientists.
    Krieger: No! That's why we...hurgh...they lost the war! Lack of science!
  • Bait and Switch:
    • Malory in "Training Day":
    Pam: You are a biiiiiitch!
    Malory: I am not! Why, because I don't want Sterling to end up with a woman like Lana Kane? My God, a black... ops field agent?
    Pam: Thought she was going in a whole other direction with that.
    • Malory gets another one in "The Limited" when she refers to the Pullman train porter as "George", only for it to turn out the porter's name actually is George. Subverted, though, since Malory is as surprised as anyone.
    • Malory again in "The Papal Chase", when she is assigning an undercover job at Vatican City:
    Lana: ...I assume you're not sending Ray.
    Malory: To the Vatican? You think all those catholic priests wouldn't peg him? (coughs) ...as American? With that hillbilly accent?
  • Bald of Awesome: Conway Stern seems to be this, until he reveals that he's a Double Agent and therefore actually Bald of Evil.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Lana's plan to get back at Cyril for cheating on her. She offers the men at the office to pay to pretend they had sex with her and tell Cyril the nastiest thing they can think of. When Pam points out that the men may demand refunds if one of the men points out that they didn't have sex with Lana nor did anyone else, Lana replies that it's not a problem because nobody would dare be the first one to admit he didn't have sex.
    • Early in season two Trinette shows up with baby she claims is Archer's, and Barry forces him to undergo a paternity test, free of charge. Cyril is actually the father, and Barry, knowing how Archer treats him, tells Archer where and how the blood sample will be stored, knowing Archer will either switch the sample with Cyril's blood and get stuck with child support (since he wouldn't think to use someone else's blood), or get caught and possibly killed trying. Archer also waives all rights to contest the results, and Barry even tells him he couldn't admit to tampering with the sample.
    • Late into season 3, Malory spends decades having sex with Italian Prime Minister Mascalzone, before then wounding herself and murdering Mascalzone mid-freaky-sex. After calling Archer and Lana over, they're too disgusted by the context of the murder to closely examine anything, and help cover it up with Krieger; combined with her wound and the ISIS staff giving her an alibi for the officer she tipped herself anonymously, she then makes her guests leave with a piece of the victim each.
    • Cyril proves to be a Batman Gambit savant, pulling several successful examples in El Contador.
  • Beef Bandage: Conway provides Cyril with one from Cheryl's endless gifts of unrefrigerated meat and/or seafood.
  • Beleaguered Assistant:
    • Archer's butler Woodhouse takes all kinds of scorn and verbal abuse from his employer.
    "Look, he's sitting at the table! He thinks he's people!"
    • When Archer becomes the Pirate King, Noah the "first mate" becomes this.
    • Carol/Cheryl has shades of this with Mallory, before the reveals that Caro;l/Cheryl is rich and sexually enjoys emotional abuse.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Archer and Lana. Lampshaded by the rest of the group as they escape Pirate Island.
    Noah: Oh. My. God. Just screw already!
    Bucky: Seriously.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Archer tends to have a minor freakout every time someone so much as hints at his mother having sex.
    • He also tends to have a random one per episode.
      Assassin: "Hand over the girl, cochino!
      Archer: "And that is just it for today, with people calling me a freaking pig! (lights assassin on fire) ...Holy shit, did you see that?"
    • Whenever Lana is injured, Archer explodes.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved:
    • Malory's relationship with her late dog Duchess is given a creepy vibe with a photo of them both that parodies the famous portrait of a naked John Lennon curled around Yoko Ono.
    • This is also implied with Pam, seeing as she attributes some of her sexual skills to having grown up on a farm.
    • Krieger is implied to have had sex with Piggley 3.
  • Big Eater: Pam always mentions wanting some kind of food.
    Pam: (standing over two burning bodies) Is it weird that I'm kind of hungry now?
    Malory: It would be weirder if you weren't.
    • She even eats herself into anaphylactic shock, claiming she's "a consenting adult" when someone tries to stop her from eating food she's seriously allergic to.
  • Big "NO!":
    • End of season 2, when Barry and Katya land on Krieger's beloved van.
    • Also in season 4 "The Wind Cries Mary", Archer's reaction to Lucas' Death Bed Confession about what he did to him after they got drunk after a party
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Cyril has a big dick, which he seems to dislike, and actually tries to get ISIS to pay to have it shortened.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Ramon Limon's end of some phone conversations in "Honeypot". His responses imply that his mother is bugging him about why he doesn't have a girlfriend...
    • Framboise means raspberry in French.
    • "Drift Problem" features some Japanese from the yakuza. Pam thought they were calling her "the White Shadow", but they reveal that it means "the White Pumpkin".
    • Pam typically brings a liquor called Schützenmeister, which is German for Archer, to ISIS funerals.
    • Although most of the bits of Italian throughout "Lo Scandalo" are pretty banal ("Are you ready?" "Yes, my dear, I'm so ready!") right up until Mallory spits on Mascalzoni and calls him a "fucking fascist."
    • "Mascalzone", by the way, means "Scoundrel" or "Criminal" in Italian.
  • Black Comedy:
    • One memorable example:
    Archer: Well it's the Pope's fault she won't let me wear a condom.
    Malory: Why don't you wear a vasectomy?
    Archer: "This again? Don't you want a grandkid?"
    Malory: "Well, if I did, I'd just scrape all your previous mishaps into a big pile and knit a onesie for it."
    Archer: "...Jesus Christ."
    • At Trinette's baby shower Cheryl's present is a box of plastic laundry bags and a book about SIDS.
    • "I liked him better when he had cancer."
    • When Malory remembers having to pay the funeral expenses for the Pygmies who chopped down the super-rare tree to make their conference table.
      Malory: I bet that sneaky chief just pocketed the money and stuck them all in one medium-sized hole.
    • It's safe to say this shows up in every episode, at least once..
  • Black Comedy Rape:
    • In "Blood Test", Cyril, hopped up on heroin, brained with an absinthe bottle and passed out from having a liter of his blood drained, is raped first by Pam and then Gillette, both of whom are a little bit drunk at the time. Lampshaded by Pam, who mentions that "Things are about to get weird."
    • In "The Wind Cries Mary", Lucas Troy's final breath is confessing that one night when Archer was passed out, he took some suntan oil, turned on some Al Green and... well you can figure out the rest.
    • In "Viscous Coupling" Pam films an unconscious Ray and Cyril in a bathroom stall, with an Octopus. Given that a running gag in the episode is a tentacle rape manga by the name "The Fisherman's Wife", it's obvious what went down.
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: Katya Kasanova does this to Lana in "Double Trouble".
  • Blond Guys Are Evil:
    • In "Double Deuce," the sniveling former second-in-command who is likely behind the murder plot is also the only blond guy in the Double Deuce. And then it's subverted when it turns out there is no murder plot to begin with.
    • Barry by the end of season 2.
  • Bond One-Liner:
    • Generally subverted by Archer, who constantly flubs his one-liners or has to explain them to the others because they don't get his references.
      Archer: Damn, I... had something for this, too... um... damn it. Eat grenade, stupids!
    • Played straight with Conway Stern, who annoys Archer and Lana by always having the right one-liner (except at the end of Operation Frodo, because he doesn't know anything about Lord of the Rings).
      Lana: Shit, I had something for this!
      Conway: Was it something like..."You won't get off the hook that easy?"
      Lana: Dammit!
      Archer: Yeah, he's good at those.
  • Book Smart: Archer is a strange example of this. He has read a ton of books and has a ton of trivia from them, but never gets anything relevant from them. The best example is that he doesn't know his own blood type, but knows the discoverer of blood types.
  • Born Lucky: A huge Berserk Button for Ray is the fact that Archer is very much this.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Referenced by Pam in "El Secustro", but ultimately averted. After showing the kidnappers where the building was, one asks if he could shoot her. Pam asks him how they expect to get past the biometric security, unless they were to cut out her eyes and chop off her fingers, then tells them not to be dicks and takes them to the ISIS offices.
  • Bottle Episode: "Lo Scandolo", which takes place entirely in Malory's apartment.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Scrupulously averted, and often lampshaded in the process:
    • Played for laughs when Archer and Katya attempt a Blast Out and everyone runs out of bullets within about 10 seconds.
    • The Cuban gay spy calls out Archer on doing this in the final Blast Out, but does the same thing not five seconds later to Archer's amusement.
    • During the "Heart of Archness" special, Archer fires one round from Rip's Colt 1911 (7 round capacity), then empties the rest of the magazine a few minutes later, crowing "All six in the ten ring!"
    • In "Midnight Ron", "you already saw me shoot those mobsters! It has a finite capacity, it's not a phaser!"
    • Lucas Troy in "The Wind Cries Mary" reminds Lana how they called her Spray and Pray in training, but that he always found it odd she only ever carried two magazines.
  • Brain Bleach: Archer needs some after he has to reach into his mother's desk and shut off her vibrator.
    Archer: Oh god, there's not enough liquor and therapy in the world to undo that.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Archer's three main fears are alligators, crocodiles and brain aneurysms. And his fourth is the Bermuda Triangle.
  • Breaking In Old Habits: When Malory makes a crack about Lana having "robot hands", Krieger just happens to be standing around the corner with a pair of the things perfectly matching Lana's real hands. The first function he chooses to show off is "Jazz hands!".
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • During the car chase in "The Man from Jupiter," the Cuban assassins' vans fly off the road into the water in two identical (save for the vehicles) sequences. Archer notices this, somehow.
    "Wait, was that the same footage?"
    • Cheryl can hear the soundtrack music in "Sea Tunt, Part I". ("Just ignore it, it's non-diegetic!")
  • Brick Joke:
    • The very first episode opens with a not so heinous scene of Archer goofing off in an "Electric Torture by the KGB" training scenario. Late in season two, guess what he's faced with?
    Archer: Kinda wishing I'd paid more attention to my training right now. Which is, uh, pretty rare for me.
    • In "Mole Hunt," Archer sleeps with a flight attendent who later shows up in "Skorpio" giving Lana and Malory a withering look as they are discussing Archer's spanking fetish. Guess what she did with Archer.
    • In "Dial M for Mother," while pushing a stroller through a park, Trinette has a confrontation with the assassin Mannfred at a playground. After Mannfred threatens her with a pistol, Trinette tells him that the baby's father knows Krav Maga, which "Training Day" establishes is used by ISIS agents. In season two's "Blood Test," its revealed that Trinette believes Archer to be the baby's father.
    • In "Drift Problem," a fake fire drill is used to lead Archer to his birthday car surprise. Archer grabbed Ray out of his wheelchair and carried him outside. At the time, it was assumed that Ray was paralyzed due to an injury from a mission. Archer drops Ray at the sight of the car, leading Ray to say, "Ow!...I think." This seemingly throwaway joke led to The Reveal in "Bloody Ferlin". Ray is found on a ladder, giving away that he was never paralyzed. He was wheeled out of the hospital in a wheelchair as standard procedure, and the others mistook this for paralysis. However, he used the mix-up for every opportunity he could get.
    • Trinette is introduced in "Training Day", when Archer introduces her to Cyril. She later appears, toting a baby she claims is Archer's but is actually Cyril's.
    • Calzado in season three episode "El Contador" makes mention of "hunting the most dangerous game". Archer being Archer though assumes he means jai alai which was last mentioned in the season one episode "Honeypot" as a most dangerous game.
    • In "A Going Concern," Archer discovers a sex toy in his mother's desk, the color of which he describes as 'aubergine.' In "Double Trouble", Pam mentions that "nobody cares about your stupid eggplant" when accused of rifling through Malory's desk, and a season later in "Lo Scandalo," before his death in Malory's condo, Savio Mascalozoni apparently inserted a toy into himself in an act that Archer describes as 'sodomy by rubber eggplant'. The season after that, in "Live and Let Dine," a celebrity chef points out aubergine and eggplant are the same thing.
    • In "Blood Test", Archer, when a liter of blood is taken from him, expresses that he doesn't know how much blood that very common unit of measurement would contain. The brick comes back in Season Four's "Sea Tunt, Part I" when he knows about more obscure units of measurements like the fathom and the league and is able to convert between them mentally on the fly.
    • In A Debt of Honor, Archer thinks that Danger Zone is a country song. In Baby Shower, Cheryl and Kenny Loggins turn it into one.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Everyone except Malory and Lana in "Lo Scandalo" when they're pretending to be New York yuppies having a dinner party.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: One instance is a decoy containing a single muffin. It's a bit of wordplay used to lampshade that the contents of the briefcase are a MacGuffin.
  • Buffy Speak: Krieger, when describing how he plans on giving Ray bionic legs.
    Krieger: And so a small power unit goes here on your... spiney... thing, which sends electical impulses to your muscles and ligaments and... stuff, which I will fuse to a vanadium alloy endoskeleton, replacing your current, uh, leg... bones.
    Ray: I have to say, it kind of worries me that you don't know the names of the actual bones.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield:
    • In one episode, Archer is teaching Cyril how to act like an agent and shoots cubes of ice at Cyril with a slingshot. Cyril grabs a nearby call girl and pulls her into the line of fire. Archer is delighted, the call girl less so.
    • In a literal example, Archer uses a bulletproof vest-wearing Cheryl as cover during a gunfight, even though he's supposed to be protecting her.
      Archer: Shut up! That vest is bulletproof!
      Cheryl: (relieved) Oh. (Gets shot in the arm) Ow!
      Archer: But it is, you know, a vest.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • Cyril tries to get back at Sterling by revealing that Archer knocked up a hooker who, ironically, was actually carrying Cyril's child.
    • Franny Delaney, leader of The Irish Mob, believes that Archer won't shoot an unarmed, sick man, because of a sense of fair play. Unfortunately for him, Archer is on a "rampage."
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Pretty much everyone in this series. No matter how dysfunctional they are, they all turn out to be good at their jobs, if only when they are given a reason to be.
    • Krieger, despite being insane and not a medical doctor (or technically the other kind of doctor) manages to perform brain surgery successfully—while high on acid. With a drill. He also, on a shoestring budget, turned Katya into a cyborg rivaling the best that the KGB could offer.
    • At one point someone outright states that Archer is an excellent field agent in spite of being completely clueless at everything else.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker:
    • Krieger uses untraditional methods:
    Pam: And that's why I don't have sex with my coworkers. That, and no one ever lets me.
    Krieger: I've had good results with ether.
    • Pam's line becomes Hilarious In Hindsight in Season 3.
    Cheryl: You can't control a person's heart.
    Krieger: You can with a little something I like to call a deep cycle marine battery...or LSD.
  • But Not Too Black: Lana.
    Archer: You're black...ish.
    Lana: Ish?!
    Archer: Well what's the word for it, Lana? You freaked out when I said "quadroon!"
  • Butt Monkey: Pretty much any interaction with Archer is going to end up with someone being this.
    • Cyril as of Season Two
    • Poor Pam is probably the straightest example.
    • ISIS (as of late), which seems to have gained itself an unflattering reputation across the globe.
    • Brett, who's been beaten up by Lana and shot by both Rona and Cyril. And got his ass beat by Archer after mocking him for having breast cancer. And was shot twice by Archer in season one before ever appearing onscreen. ("God DAMN it, Archer!") In "El Secuestro", he takes a bullet in the stomach early on and spends the rest of the episode bleeding there, even getting yelled at for not picking up the ringing phone fast enough. In "Drift Problem", Lana fires a machine gun at Archer's new car to demonstrate that it's bulletproof. Nobody else is hurt, but a ricocheting bullet hits him in the stomach. In "Skin Game", Barry maims him in the elevator and writes "Barry Was Here" in his blood. The topper (thus far) came in "Legs", when Archer was trying to break into Krieger's lab by shooting at the bulletproof door. The bullet ricocheted off the door, then a wall, then a drinking fountain, then Cyril's pocketwatch held just right, then another wall, off a fire extinguisher, down a stairwell, and finally hit Brett a few floors down. Who gets chewed out by Malory for leaving such a large stain.
    Archer: Brett! This may be some kind of record, so if you can move, don't! I gotta go stop him!
    Brett: God... DAMN it, Archer!
    • Gillette rapidly becomes one in the course of "Heart of Archness," losing one eye and the use of his legs in separate accidents. Most of his coworkers are not very sympathetic. He was faking it.
  • Call Back: One of the show's frequent sources of humor:
    • Episode 1, Malory beats Sterling with her wallet, and Sterling responds "What the hell does she keep in that thing, buckles?" Ray echoes the exact same phrase in "Jeu Monegasque".
    • In "Pipeline Fever", Lana remarks how she became an ISIS agent and ends with "Three weeks later, I was in Tunisia killing a man." Three episodes later in "Movie Star", Malory talks about her becoming an agent and ends with the same line.
    • In "El Contador", Archer quickly but incorrectly guesses that "the most dangerous game" is jai alai, calling back to his injury playing the sport in "Honey Pot."
      • From the ending of the same episode, Malory asks whether they'd gotten a receipt for delivering Calzado to the DEA, indirectly referencing Archer's trouble with the bearer-bonds in "Jeu Monegasque".
    • Cyril's enthusiasm with his rifle in "Space Race" is called back in "The Honeymooners". "SUPPRESSING FIRE!!!... extinguisher."
    • "Sea Tunt: Part I" calls back "Skytanic" with: "Oh my God, there is no bomb!"
    • When Archer knocks out Rip Riley in "Heart of Archness Part III"
    Lana: Wha? What the hell happened to him?
    Noah: He…"
    Archer: "Who knows? Maybe he had a brain aneurysm."
    Noah: "No! He…"
    Archer: "It's the silent killer, Noah!
    • In the first episode, Archer is in bed with a paddle and a stewardess with a paddle-shaped welt on her buttock. In Ep 6, Mallory on a plane with Lana confides some doubts about Archer's upbringing, Lana replies "That would explain the paddles", and the stewardess serving her champagne pointedly glares in her face.
    • Ramon, Charles and Rudy, who first appeared in "Honeypot", come back four seasons later in "A Kiss While Dying" and make mention of Archer's exploits in the former episode.
  • The Cameo: The "Sea Tunt" two-parter contains Eugene Mirman as Cecil and Kristen Schaal as Tiffy; Mirman and Schaal also co-star with Benjamin in Bob's Burgers as Gene and Louise.
    • Apparently, Cecil will be a recurring character come Season 5.
  • Camp Gay:
    • Played with in the episode where Archer has to pretend to be gay to seduce a gay spy. Being the idiot he is, he dresses up ridiculously campy (bleached hair, lollipop, roller skates, hot pants, and a too-tight t-shirt that reads "GOT DICK?"), and gets mocked by two real gay guys... who are still campy, though not so outrageously. The spy he's trying to seduce, meanwhile, is completely Straight Gay.
    "Oh my God, you, like, sneeze glitter!"
    • Gillette. Which doesn't stop him from being one of the more competent characters. However, he's still willing to sleep with Lana since, as he puts it, "Nobody's that gay." Also increasingly becoming an Informed Attribute, however; while originally introduced as a true Camp Gay in a standalone gag, in later appearances he's referred to as mincing or prancing even though he's not depicted as actually behaving that way to any significant degree. In "Bloody Ferlin", all he really has to do to pass as straight is to don a plaid flannel shirt and a baseball cap — his mannerisms and vocal inflections don't actually change a whit.
  • Canis Major: Kazak, an English Mastiff who hates guns.
  • Can't Bathe Without a Weapon: lampshaded in 'Jeu Monegasque';
    Archer: "...my gun's all soapy. Pretty dumb, taking a bath with it..."
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Archer at the very end of 'Swiss Miss'. He is accused (wrongfully) of molesting and propositioning a 16-year-old Anka throughout the entire episode. Not two seconds after he has to cup Anka's breasts to prevent nerve damage (a legitimate reason)note , Lana shows up. Made even better due Archer having looked around numerous times immediately before Lana's appearance.
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: Played straight to dispose of a dead hooker, and referenced a lot also.
    Woodhouse: I shall fetch a rug!
  • Casting Gag:
    • Jeffrey Tambor as the head of ODIN, who's in a somewhat tumultuous romance with Jessica Walter's Malory. The two voice actors had a similar dynamic in Arrested Development
    • Malory, voiced by Jessica Walter, is a wealthy, hard-drinking, Jerkass mother with a long sexual past and a co-dependent son, very similar to her character in Arrested Development.
    • Although differently crazy between series, Judy Greer was a crazy Plucky Office Girl in Arrested Development and plays a similar role as Cheryl in this series.
    • When Archer is identified as a fake homosexual by Charles, he is dressed very similar to a gay prostitute who was always being caught by the police on Reno 911!, in which Thomas Lennon (who voices Charles) stars.
    • Turns out Burt Reynolds is every bit as much a crazy Bad Ass in real life as the characters he plays.
    • At the start of Season 4 Malory marries car dealership owner Ron Cadillac. He is voiced by Ron Leibman, Walter's real life husband.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Adam Reed shows always use this trope. Of specific highlight is Lana's (knockoff) Fiacci underwear, discussed during gunfights and bomb defusals.
  • Catch Phrase: There's a lot of overlap with Running Gag, but phrases that are specific to individual characters that crop up in at least a few different episodes include:
    • Lana's "Yyyyyyyyyyup!" or "Noooooooooope!"
      • Also, "Really?" whenever something vaguely racist is said.
    • Archer's "Danger zone!" said to Lana.
    • Ray has "Dukes!" and "Double dukes!" and "Triple dukes!"
    • Pam: "Holy shitsnacks!"
      • "Inappropriate." whenever she tells an inappropriate joke and no one laughs or they react negatively.
    • Barry: "Later, Tater."
    • Cyril: "SUPPRESSING FIRE!!!!!!!"
      • "Cheesey Petes!"
    • Cheryl/Carol: "You're not my supervisor!"
    • Malory: "If X does/doesn't happen, I will literally die."
  • Caught with Your Pants Down:
    • Archer walks in on his mother during a very important call in the first episode.
    • Barry catches Archer doing Framboise, his fiancé, in his new office at ODIN.
    • Archer catches Barry doing Katya, his fiancé, during their fight at ISIS.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Archer is a huge fan of Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil. He probably didn't notice how he sounded just like Satan.
  • Character Blog: Sterling Archer's Twitter feed, Dr. Algernop Krieger's Twitter and Pam's Twitter feed.
  • Character Focus: The first half of Season 5 had a huge focus on Pam, to the point where Cyril, Malory, and Cheryl didn't even show up for a few episodes.
  • Characterization Marches On: The characters in the first season, and the pilot episode especially, act pretty different. Archer was much more pontlessly rude and hyper-sexual to everyone around him, Lana had practically no indoor voice and was constantly pointing guns at people, and Cheryl and Pam acted like normal people.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Archer gives a gun, branded "Chekhov", to Cyril along with a poison pen and adds that the gun occasionally goes off unexpectedly and the pen's cap tends to slip off for no reason. Later on... nothing happens with the Chekhov gun, but the pen is responsible for poisoning a hooker (which was deliberately set up by Archer to get Cyril into trouble). So let's see, that's lampshading, parody, subversion, discussion, playing it straight and invoked?
    Archer: "God, I SAID the cap slips off the poison pen for no reason, didn't I?!"
    Cyril: "I know, I know, but I just assumed that if anything bad happened it-it would've been-"
    Archer: "No, do NOT say the Chekhov gun Cyril! THAT, sir, is a facile argument!"
    Woodhouse: "Also woefully esoteric."
    • Played with in the third season finale. A power loader that looks like it just got off the set of Aliens appears in the background and takes up a shot as if to say "this will be used for a badass fight". To put icing on the cake Barry (who has gotten the better of Archer everytime after being cybernetically enhanced) makes the scene just as Archer is using the lifter for menial work. Then Archer is out of the suit before Barry can fight him and Archer is talked out of having it out with him for prides sake.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Archer is seen in flashback playing lacrosse at his boarding school, then uses the same skills to catch and throw back grenades using a fishing net in "Heart of Archness, Part II".
  • Chew Toy: Season two seems to have made Archer himself the constant Chew Toy. Every episode has ended with him getting the raw end of the stick. In order: Caught in a compromising position with a topless teenage heiress,(It wasn't what it looked like) being left caring for Cyril's bastard son, being left stranded in a swamp with an injured, pissed off gator while Lana went to get wined and dined by an eco terrorist, and getting pistol whipped by Woodhouse, being poisoned by a Russian sleeper agent, being diagnosed, then undiagnosed, then diagnosed, then undiagnosed, then finally diagnosed with cancer, bonding with a fellow elderly cancer patient who ends up dying due to a fake cancer medicine scam by the Irish mob and then his fiance (whom he actually seems to genuinely care for, for once) dies protecting him.
  • Child Hater: Cheryl, particularly in "Blood Test".
    Cheryl: Because babies are soft-skulled, fat little germ-sacks and now we've all been exposed to that one's bacteria!
    Later: Sometimes I think, y'know, I'd like to adopt a little baby? So I could abandon it at a mall.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Archer is NOT one of these, except when it comes to Anka. Despite her being from a place where the age of consent is 14, he steadfastly refuses to touch her since she's only 17. Not that it helps.
  • Chubby Chaser: Pam is targeted by a Chubby Chaser in one episode, much to Malory's disgust, as Malory was trying to seduce the man for her own agenda. Somehow by the end of the episode, all three end up in bed together.
  • Clothing Damage: Goes way over the top in "Space Race"; after Lana strips off for a Show Some Leg guard-distraction, Archer rips up her clothes, and subsequent events force her to stay in nothing but panties and nipple stickers for most of the episode. To add to the insult, people keep commenting about her boobs' 'journey south'...
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Cheryl, who keeps changing her name, stands out even amongst this group. Dr. Krieger also surges into this trope as the series progresses. Not surprisingly, they start dating.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: No one is averse to cursing, but when Lana accidentally grabs some dry ice, she responds with a full 8 seconds of cursing. Malory does this to Ray, Cyril and Lana at the beginning of Season 3 when they fail to locate Sterling. And it happens again in Season 4 when Cheryl tells Archer that "they changed" the "magic word", causing him to cuss her out for 4 seconds.
    Archer: Cheryl you stupid *Sound Effect Bleep*
    —>Cheryl: Hmph... lucky guess.
  • Cold War: Still going on...sort of.
  • Comically Missing the Point: So often, and by so many characters that it may as well count as a Running Gag.
  • Composite Character: The president of Turkmenistan is explicitly identified as the current leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, but with several of the Bunny-Ears Lawyer traits of his predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov, who was head of state from 1985 to 2006.
  • Connect the Deaths: Krieger's plan for Disposing of a Body is for the ISIS agents to drop the dissected body parts in various trashcans around the city "which should form the shape of a smiley face". One-off gag, his own Ax-Crazy sense of humour, or brilliant ruse to convince the cops it's the work of a playful serial killer?
  • Conspicuous CG:
    • The aerial shots of the Monaco Grand Prix racers in "Jeu Monegasque".
    • The helicopter in "Heart of Archness, Part III".
    • Pretty much every vehicle in Season 3, especially the ones in the drift racing episode.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: "White Elephant" sees ISIS busted by the FBI, and everyone except Archer & Lana spilling the beans about every single mission thus far, acknowledging that when you put it all together, it doesn't sound great.
    "There was the arms dealer's yacht we blew up, the KGB defector Krieger made into a cyborg, the Yakuza drag racing, the space pirates, the dead Italian prime minister with the dildo in his ass, the kidnappings and... I wanna say Burt Reynolds?"
  • Continuity Nod: Tons.
    • Several of Archer's one night stands have reappeared (one with a baby too...)
    • Uta wearing a t-shirt with the Excelsior's insignia
    • Scatterbrain Jane having breast cancer
    • Archer's 'Seamus' and 'Dicky' tattoos on his back make another appearance in "Jeu Monegasque" and are slightly visible in the "Heart of Archness" arc. "Seamus" shows up in "Papal Chase" as well.
    • The clothes Charles and Rudy bought Woodhouse in "Honey Pot" show up in "Stage Two"
    • The very first episode begins with Archer cracking jokes during a torture session, which is quickly revealed to be a training simulation. In "White Nights," Archer finds himself in almost the exact same situation, and admits that he probably should've taken training more seriously.
    • In "Dial M For Mother," Archer is kidnapped and strapped to an operating table. On his feet are scars from when Lana shot him through the foot in "Skorpio" and "Skytanic."
    • When Ray is shown shirtless in "El Contador", he has a scar on his stomach from when he got shot in "Heart of Archness Pt. III".
    • Malory finds the whole office talking in the bathroom and tells Pam that she's not even supposed to be in there. In an earlier episode it's revealed that the office staff hid the existence of the women's bathroom from Pam. Once Pam found out, Malory still forbade her from using it.
    • In "Legs", we see a flashback of Krieger giving Conway Stern a new hand, to replace the one Lana yanked off in "Diversity Hire".
    • In "Legs," we get a flashback of a young Archer being looked over by a doctor after damaging his testicles. When the doctor asks what happened, we see Woodhouse calmly pushing the vacuum cleaner from "Skin Game" out of the way.
    • In "Lo Scandalo" Cyril complains that they have to get rid of a body every single time they go to Malory's house, Malory retorts that it's only been twice ("Killing Utne").
  • Contrived Coincidence: Lampshaded in "Dial M For Mother" when Manfred and Uta capture Archer.
    "What's remarkable is that we just ran into him. This city is huge.
  • Cool Airship: Despite Archer's constant, irritating, and fundamentally mistaken screeching that the Excelsior will blow up like the Hindenburg, the sumptuously luxurious rigid airship is enviably cool to just about everyone else- to the point where several ISIS employees stow away on board.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Lana's method of punishing Cyril for lying to her in the second episode.
    Lana: So what you're gonna do is go to our video store [with the sweet old Korean lady], and rent the nastiest, barebackinest, hard dickenist, ball-slappiest interracial porno in there!
  • Cool Car:
    • Archer gets a heavily modified, high performance 1970 Dodge Challenger which is a direct nod to Bond's various vehicles. Of course he doesn't get to keep it.
    • His previous car, also a (mostly) stock 1970 Dodge Challenger, is shown to have an Ejection Seat in its first appearance in the second episode.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Invoked at the end of the third season, when Barry offers Archer the chance to pilot an Aliens-style Mini-Mecha against him to even the playing field, as Barry is a superhuman cyborg. It takes every ounce of Archer's self-control to resist.
  • Corrupt Hick: In 'Bloody Ferlin', Ray has to go back to his hometown to help his marijuana d...FARMER brother when the local sheriff threatens to kill him and steal his crop. Turns out to be an inversion, the sheriff is shocked when he hears this accusation. He's just trying to do his job and stop a drug shipment. After trying several times to convince him to stop growing pot.
  • Country Matters: Cheryl's real last name is "Tunt." This is the subject of a few puns.
    Archer: Tum again?
  • Cowboy Cop: Downplayed. FBI Special Agent Holly is certainly eager and enthusiastic in the course of his duties, but is well versed in the applicable laws and knows full well the limits and boundries to his powers.
  • Cross Over: Season four opens with a crossover with H. John Benjamin's other show, Bob's Burgers. "Sea Tunt, Part I", first half of the two part season finale, is revealed to be a crossover with Adam Reed's previous show, Sealab2021.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: While being a complete moron, Archer is more than competent at violence when the situation arises.
    Archer: Well, you never know what's gonna be on the board...
  • Crying Wolf: Given Archer's tendency to lie through his teeth and seduce anything within a 500-yard radius, his ISIS coworkers are a bit skeptical that it's actually Anka who's trying to bed him.
    • In "El Secuestro," most of the office assumes Cheryl chained herself to a radiator as part of her murder fetish behavior (it was an attempted kidnapping). Lampshaded when Gilette calls her "Little Miss Cry-Wolf"
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Cheryl correctly figures out that Cecil wants to have her declared insane so he can seize her inheritance before anyone else.
  • Cucumber Facial
  • Cultured Badass: Burt Reynolds, who in addition to being able out-fight and out-drive Sterling, is able to Epiphany Therapy him through his Parent with New Paramour issues.
  • Curse Cut Short: In the pilot:
    Lana: After the lying, and the cheating, and that thing with the mayonnaise...
    Cyril: It's fine.
    Lana: ...not to mention how messed up he is about his mother...
    Cyril: It's fine.
    Lana: You know, he once called out her name while we were f-
    Cyril: FIIIIIIIINE!
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Archer makes strange threats when he's angry with Woodhouse:
    • "If I find a single dog hair, I'll rub sand in your dead little eyes. Also, I need you to go buy sand. I don't know if they grade it, but... coarse."
    • "I'm going to pain you dearly, when I peel off all your skin with a flensing knife, then sew it into Woodhouse pajamas, and then set those pajamas on fire!"
    • "And now I have to spend the first Friday I've had off in forever coming up with some bizarre punishment for you! So, don't be surprised if you end up eating a bunch of spider webs."
    • This also has a tendency to crop up during his rampages - in particular, threatening to shove a knife into a man's urethra, and shoving an M2 Fragmentation grenade up an Irish mobster's ass. Granted, he THOUGHT it was just a smoke grenade, so it still counts as this trope.
    • Lana gets in on it too.
    Lana: I will break both of your collarbones, and then pull them out of your body, and then use them to play, in its entirety and on your head, "Moby Dick".
    • When Malory is furious enough to (literally) emasculate Krieger for destroying their dwindling reserves of cocaine by detonating his mini-sub:
    Malory: [I need] a small bowl, a mirror, a needle and thread, and a straight razor.
    Krieger: (Actually frightened) What the hell was the mirror for?
    Malory: So you could WATCH.
    Krieger: ...Eep.

    D-G 
  • Danger Room Cold Open: The pilot.
  • Dating Catwoman: Malory is having a secret relationship with Mayor General Jakov, head of the KGB and routinely gives up intel to him, even though he never asks it from her. He's also one possibility for Archer's dad.
  • Deadly Dodging: Burt Reynolds gets the Cuban gangsters to shoot each other in "The Man From Jupiter".
  • Deadly Hug: Conway Stern betrays Archer with one of these.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All of the main characters.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Cheryl, who not only gets turned on by physical violence on her person (particularly, being choked) but has been shown to be aroused equally by Cyril and Mallory.
    • Pam also probably counts. Maybe not "depraved", so much as "desperate", but definitely an "any time, any place, any how, any one" kinda gal.
  • Description Cut: When Pam is kidnapped in "El Secuestro";
    Malory I'm sure Pam is fine.
    Pam [tied to a chair, being repeatedly punched in the face by her kidnapper] Who taught you how to punch? Your husband?
  • Description Porn: The introductory video for Archer's Cool Car. And when we say "porn", that's certainly the effect it as on him.
  • Development Gag: According to Word of God, a discarded plot thread from the first season would have had Cheryl get pregnant via Archer, only to have Malory give her Laser-Guided Amnesia and dump her in a local hospital, with the implication that this was a regular occurrence. Season 3 had this conversation:
    Malory: So help me God if you throw that computer on the floor again you are going to El Contadorwake up in a hospital with total amnesia under someone else's name! (leaves)
    Pam: That's actually kind of scary.
    Cheryl: Eh. Wouldn't be the first time.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Cheryl.
    Cheryl: Please, if you really cared, you'd resign, but there's no way you ever will, because you're just counting the days until, her face bloated and yellow from liver failure, she calls you to her death bed and, in a croaky whisper, explains that Mr. Archer is totally incompetent and that you, the long-suffering Lana Kane, are the only one qualified to run ISIS and you weep shameful tears because you know this terrible place is the only true love you will ever know.
    Lana: Excuse me.
    Pam: Daaaaaamn!
    Cheryl: What? ... Oh my god, was I talking?
  • Discriminate and Switch:
    Malory: I am not. Why, because I don’t want Archer to end up with a woman like Lana Kane? My God, a black... ops field agent?
    Pam: I thought she was going in a whole other direction with that.
  • Disney Death: Archer and Lana get one in "Skorpio", complete with an onlooker saying No One Could Survive That.
    • As does Trinette in "Training Day".
  • Disposable Intern: ISIS interns in Krieger's lab are typically used as test subjects and die horribly as a result.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Referenced by Archer (though the trope itself is ultimately subverted)
    Archer: Oh my god, you killed a hooker!
    Cyril: Callgirl! She was a callgirl!
    Archer: No, Cyril! When they're dead, they're just hookers!
  • Disposing of a Body:
    • Both Torvald Utne and Archer's date are staged to look like a "standard hooker Murder-Suicide" and then torched.
    • The plot of "Lo Scandalo." This turns out to be one of those rare things Krieger is disturbingly competent at; he hacks up the body in a bathtub, calls up the other agents and gives them brown paper packages to drop in separate locations around the city.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Archer and Barry Dillon operate on this. What started as an accidental suit-tearing ended with girlfriend murder and being marooned on a space station
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Both Archer and Lana get this in "Skorpio" when fighting alongside each other half-naked.
  • The Ditz: Rona Thorne in "Movie Star." It's a front.
    • And definitely Cheryl.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • Woodhouse has had several with Archer: locking him out of his apartment when ISIS briefly fired Archer, allowing Archer's co-workers to throw a babyshower for the hooker Archer knocked up in his apartment without his permission, as well as the revelation that several times a year, Woodhouse knocks Archer unconscious and then convinces him he blacked out after a wild bender.
    • Pam in "El Secuestro":
      Pam: "Let's see how much you wiggle when I whoop five thousand dollars worth of your ass!"
  • Don't Ask: Said verbatim in "Lo Scandalo":
    Ray: Speaking of, why the hell is the Italian Prime Minister here?
    Archer & Lana: Don't ask.
    [...]
    Malory: Oh God, that reminds me— Krieger!
    Krieger: Yeah, I found it.
    Cyril: What?
    Archer & Lana: Don't ask!
    Krieger: Can I keep it?
    Cheryl: Keep what?
    Archer & Lana: DON'T ASK!
  • Don't Explain the Joke: In "Live and Let Dine":
    [The Ambassador chokes and dies]
    Cheryl: I'll have what he's having!
    Man: He's dead!
    [Everyone gasps and murmurs]
    Cheryl: Then I don't want what he's having.
  • Double Agent: Katya Kasanova is believed to be this by both Malory and Lana, even more so when she was seen in Doctor Krieger's research lab with his "secret project", and the KGB listed her file as double agent. As it turns out, she's not, she's merely in love with Archer, and Krieger was helping her throw a dream wedding since his would never be. Nicolai Jakov merely altered her file to read double agent as counterintelligence, and to cover his own ass with his superiors.
  • Double Entendre/Have a Gay Old Time: In "The Double Deuce" when Woodhouse saves his friend Reggie in World War One:
    Reggie: Woodhouse! You came for me!
    Woodhouse: Course I did, sir! I'm a—
    Reggie: Fag?
    Woodhouse: [long pause] Sir?
    Reggie: Have you got one? Dying for a smoke.
  • Dramatic Drop: Archer drops a tumbler glass of Scotch when Woodhouse calls him to inform him his car's been stolen. By the time he gets down there to see for himself, he has a new glass of Scotch... which he promptly drops when he sees the car's been stolen.
    • Pretty much a Running Gag with Archer. In "Lo Scandalo" it appears that he fixes himself a Scotch specifically so he'll have something to drop. Malory also bitches about this habit in the first season, noting that Archer's nearly Dramatic Dropped his way through the whole set of Steuben glassware in her office.
  • Dude, Not Funny!:
    • In-Universe: Brett makes fun of Archer for having breast cancer in "Stage Two", earning himself a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
    • Another In-Universe example is Pam comparing Lana's small fortune made on pretending to have sex with the men in the office to Schindler's List, prompting an outraged response from Lana.
    • Another In-Universe example: Cecil is livid when Archer begins to laugh about Cheryl's obvious mental illness and how the ISIS staff all treat it as a joke.
    • Pam saying "Inappropriate" after people react this way to a joke she tells.
  • Dude, He's Like, In A Coma- Cyril is smashed over the head with a bottle and knocked unconscious. Then he is given a shot of heroin and drained of a dangerous amount of blood leading both Pam and Gillette to have their way with him.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Cheryl is the only person to spot the connection between $4 million dollars vanishing from the staff 401(k)s and Archer taking the same amount to Monte Carlo.
    • Later in the same episode, Archer points out that, while he was the one who'd lost the money, he wasn't the reason it was embezzled to begin with.
    • And the repairman in "Legs"
    Ray: It's broken?
    Repairman: Huh?
    Ray: The elevator's broken?
    Repairman: Huh?
    Ray: The elevator.
    Repairman: *Beat* Huh?
    Ray: The elevator!
    Repairman: Outta order.
    Ray: I can see that!
    Repairman: Then why the hell did you ask? *Ray gives him a Death Glare before moving on*
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: There are a lot more low-angle shots in the first season, which cause characters' faces to be drawn extremely differently and are very jarring.
    • A flashback in the pilot episode shows Archer having pinned Pam to the floor and beating her with her own puppet while she shrieks in terror. Contrast with a later episode in which Pam, being beaten by kidnappers, simply taunts them for their sissy punches while her captors wonder aloud how she's even still conscious.
  • Easy Amnesia: A Double Subversion. Krieger explains that Archer's fugue state is a difficult situation and must be handled with finesse (even citing The Flintstones as why a simple Tap on the Head with a frying pan isn't an effective cure), yet his memory finally comes back when Lana loses patience and does just that.
  • Embarrassing Coverup: "Lo Scandalo": Malory kills the Italian PM in the middle of a bondage session, knowing that Archer's disgust and Lana's disapproval will distract them from suspecting her as the culprit.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Sterling Malory Archer, code name "Duchess," after his mother's deceased dog. Malory considered "Reginald," but decided that it was "too gay."
  • Enemy Mine: When Archer is captured by the KGB, Malory recruits Barry to rescue him as Lana can't go undercover adequately there.
  • Erotic Asphyxiation: Cheryl's fetish. Also that of one of Woodhouse's old war buddies.
    Stripes:...Plus what he named his plane.
    Woodhouse: I always thought that had something to do with the engine. Well, here's to you, Choke and Stroke!
  • Europeans Are Kinky
    • Framboise
    • Konrad Schlotz, a German Chubby Chaser hot for Pam
    • His 16-year-old daughter, Anka, appears to be a nymphomaniac. It's a front.
    • The Prime Minister of Italy ends up dead in Malory's apartment, strapped into a seatless chair, wearing a zentai suit, and with something shoved up his ass. According to Malory, though, the development of this kinkiness was a drawn-out process in the relationship.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Mikey seems genuinely disturbed at the notion that he's been helping replace chemotherapy meds with placebos.
    • In the pilot, Kremensky thinks everyone should be nicer to Pam and is disgusted as everyone else when Archer gets an erection at the thought of his mother dying.
    • Ray's brother may be a drug d-FARMER but damned if he's going to contribute to the obesity epidemic.
    • Ramon Calzado, a poacher and wanted drug trafficker, does not rape his captives and is disgusted that Archer thought he would.
    • In "Crossing Over", a KGB agent begs Lana to let him defect, since he's terrified of Barry, the new KGB head.
    • In Season 3, loan-sharking pimp Popeye is adamant on making the cleaners eco-friendly.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Lana, for Pam and Cheryl at the very least.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Or only the guys. In any case, a whole lot of people seem to have been in love with Reggie Thistleton. Or maybe not.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: Parodied in "Killing Utne."
    Pam: Oh, I thought we were laughing at the dead people we set on fire.
    Lana starts laughing again, then stops
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Doctor Krieger; his 401k actually has "Doctor" instead of a first name. Then we learn that he's not a real doctor, so that must really be his first name.
    • His Twitter account and How to Acher, however, say his first name is Algernop.
    • He finally says his first name aloud in "White Elephant."
  • Everyone Has Standards: Archer may be an utter whoremonger and slut, but he won't take advantage of Anka. And he's never sexist, nor does he hit women who aren't combat-capable. He may be hideously culturally insensitive, and assume that the bomber is "Beardsley McTurbanHead" (actually a Sikh), but if someone starts flat-out using racist slurs or starting a racist diatribe, he'll stop them with a little lecture on why racism is bad. Archer has also shown an affinity for large animals: Babou, Cheryl's ocelot, the tiger Calzado murders, and Kazak.
    • Not just large animals: in "Honeypot," after ending up in a bar that hosts rooster fights, he later mentions that he spent the entire night out in the Everglades helping a large, crying Dominican man bury his dead bird. This despite alligators and crocodiles, both present in the Everglades, being Archer's two biggest fears.
    • He's also shocked to find out that, as liberal as Lana is, she's vehemently against illegal immigration (to the point that she wants to keep the people being smuggled in locked in the van while they wait for authorities).
    • He also goes on a Character Filibuster about the U.S.'s habit of overthrowing democratically elected governments and then being surprised at the blowback in the Archer Vice arc. These Hidden Depths are lampshaded by the other characters.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The unaired first episode on the DVD is just the first episode with Archer replaced by a velociraptor.
  • Evil Cripple: Franny Delaney, The Irish Mob boss who bilks cancer patients out of their medicine and pockets the profits.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: Cyril in "Tragical History"
  • Exact Words: Archer, Pirate King, defeats a challenger using a gun. The other pirates say the challenge is meant to be hand-to-hand combat, but there is nothing in the "Pirate Orientation Guide" that explicitly forbids armed combat.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: At the end of "Lo Scandalo", Archer is laughing as he explains why Malory couldn't possibly have killed the Italian Prime Minister, until he realizes mid-sentence that the completely insane and implausible scheme he's describing is, in fact, exactly what she did.
  • Expy:
    • Sterling Archer shares the same sense of style and love of prostitutes as Xander Crews in Thompson and Reed's previous show Frisky Dingo. There's also the ISIS employee who's a chubby hobbit cosplayer
    • Jessica Walter plays an old, wealthy, overbearing mother with a drinking problem, and Judy Greer plays a Plucky Office Girl who happens to harbor a dark side, the same roles as their characters in Arrested Development. Creator Adam Reed has described the show as James Bond meets Arrested Development.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Becomes increasingly the case as the show goes on, especially when the Archer Vice arc comes along.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Lana to Archer when he's forgotten his identity and a KGB hitsquad is after him. The kiss starts to bring his memories back.
  • Fake Pregnancy: Uta the assassin desperately wants to be pregnant, to the point where she begins to believe she actually is pregnant and even wears a prosthetic pregnancy belly to assist in her delusion.
  • False Flag Operation: In "Job Offer," Malory, in a drunken fit of jealousy, issues a burn notice on Archer after he quits ISIS to work for ODIN. To save Archer from being killed by his new coworkers, Lana sends a retraction of the burn notice from a Telex in the ODIN office building. Lana's false flag is compounded, as it implies that the burn notice itself was an ODIN false flag operation designed to discredit ISIS and its best field agent.
    • A cardinal tries one using Camorra gunmen in "The Papal Chase", who impersonate the Swiss Guard and attempt to assassinate the Pope and frame the Swiss Guard. The cardinal, who would be almost guarenteed to be elected Pope, calls in ISIS to stop the attempt to deflect suspicion. Lana figures it out halfway through the chase, and Archer kills the gunmen.
  • Family Versus Career: Averted.
  • Fan Disservice: Pam, Malory and a German chubby-chaser in a threesome.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Barry affects a breezy, affable personality, constantly spouting innocent cliches like, "Later, tater!" He's actually a cold-blooded and murderous psychopath bent on revenge.
  • Fed to Pigs: At the end of "The Honeymooners", Krieger turns out to be the one who was planning to sell uranium to the Koreans. With them all dead, he has his radioactive pig eat their bodies.
  • Fight Clubbing: The reason Pam is able to take such a brutal beating at the hands of her kidnappers? She paid for college with her (lethal) underground fighting bouts. She also uses that experience to lay a brutal smackdown upon Malory for lowballing her ransom.
  • Flanderization:
    • Cheryl, goes from being an insecure and slightly unhinged secretary to a full-blown maniac. Eventually a plot point in series 4.
    • Pam is reverse-flanderized, going from the tubby, unloved and rather pathetic HR lady to a fight-clubbing sexual goddess.
    • ISIS itself went from a low tier but still somewhat functional agency to an full blown Incompetence, Inc. that screws up every single assignment, to the point that they were once hired with the expectation that they would fail.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: Katya is fond of "bozhe moi!" ("my God!").
  • Foreshadowing: The Reveal of Lana's decision in the Season 4 finale makes a lot more sense when you take her reaction to Cheryl's Breaking Speech into consideration.
    • The driving force of the show's Retool into Archer Vice was hinted at in Sea Tunt with all the mentions of "treason".
  • Forgot I Could Fly
    Archer: Seriously, how do you forget that you have bionic legs?
    Ray: I don't know, do you go around thinking about how you have real legbones?
  • Forgotten Birthday: Played unusually straight as the setup for "Drift Problem".
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Almost every episode has at least one visual gag or joke somewhere in the background. Blink and you'll miss it.
  • Freudian Excuse: Archer's dysfunction is a result of growing up with a negligent and outright abusive mother, as revealed in a number of flashbacks to his traumatic childhood. She abandoned him until the age of five, then sent him off to 12note  straight years of boarding school. Other examples include abandoning him on Christmas Eve with no way to get home, taking all of his Halloween candy from him in a blackjack game, and giving him liquor at a young age. After several flashbacks, various characters admit that it "explains a lot" about Archer's personality.
  • Freudian Threat: While on a rampage, Archer threatens to shove a knife straight up his captive's urethra if he doesn't tell him what he wants to know. It works quite well.
  • From Bad to Worse: The start of the Archer Vice arc, which saw ISIS being raided and disbanded, the gang being out of a job and unsuccessfully trying to sell constantly dwindling supplies of cocaine, Lana being sidelined due to pregnancy, and, when last we left Archer, Cyril and Ray, they were captured in "Smuggler's Blues" and being led to their deaths. Fortunately, by the end of the next episode, the guys escape and happen upon a plane with even more cocaine.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Woodhouse uses one when Pam threatens to go to the cops if she's sent to rehab. He then apologises for the delay to Archer's breakfast, since he'd been frying eggs at the time.
  • Full Name Ultimatum: "Sterling Malory Archer, you will eat every crumb of that sandwich..."
  • Funny Answering Machine: Recurring.
    • The first episode features the dry-cleaning business reaching Archer's machine. "Leave a message at the tone. Uh... tone."
    • In Season 3, almost every episode (as of "Crossing Over") has at least one joke involving Archer's less than helpful answering machine.
    • The second episode of Season 4 had him using a airhorn, twice.
    • A few episodes later, he simply turns off his answering machine and doesn't answer his phone because it "drives people crazy."
    • Inversion: Mallory got Genre Savvy and assumed Archer, in a call, was another of his messages leading her on before faking her out, only to be told the recordings don't call her.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • Pause on pretty much any shot in the ISIS offices. especially in Krieger's lab; pay attention to the bin labels.
    • In "The Rock", when the Drones are discussing a strike, Cheryl says "So I say: No union!" and Krieger shouts "Yes! Confederacy forever!"
      • Also "Tampons! Well! I... don't know what that is."
    • The Cuban hit squad smiles and waves at Burt Reynolds right before opening fire in "The Man From Jupiter".
    • There's a few instances of Pam graffiti in various episodes, including an ASCII version on the computer behind Krieger in "The Honeypot".
    • In "The Honeymooners", Archer and Lana have an argument while suction-cupped to the side of a skyscraper... right in front of a pajama-clad boy watching in shock before taking a picture with a cell-phone.
  • Fun with Acronyms: A little Religious and Mythological Theme Naming.
    • ISIS stands for International Secret Intelligence Service. Isis is the Egyptian goddess of fertility, and everyone in the office Really Gets Around.
    • ODIN stands for Organization of Democratic Intelligence Networks. The Norse god Odin was The Spymaster. He also gave up one eye in return for incredible knowledge; Barry, one of the few ODIN agents ever seen becomes crippled and loses an eye, then gets turned into a superhuman cyborg.
  • Gainaxing: Lana.
  • Gargle Blaster: Green Russians - absinthe and milk.
  • Genius Ditz: Sterling is pretty incompetent in most things, but he's the best field agent there is. He's also incredibly slow on the uptake on a number of occasions, but he also displays a surprisingly hefty education, apparently coming from his years at a boarding school. In one exchange that exemplifies the dichotomy, he overhears two mooks on a space station make an Animal Farm reference. Archer knows that Animal Farm is "an allegorical novella about Stalinism by George Orwell," but thinks they were talking about an actual animal farm. On another occasion he references Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" and is surprised that no one gets it. According to Adam Reed, he's often being willfully obtuse just to see what will happen.
    • He also shows a pretty deep knowledge of history, turning some throwaway lines into a Genius Bonus.
  • The Ghost: Brett and Popeye started out this way but eventually started making appearances. Trudy Beekman is referred to throughout the series, but appears mostly out of frame in season four, becoming He Who Must Not Be Seen. Cecil, Cheryl's brother, appears in "Sea Tunt".
  • Giant Mook: Bucky's "girlfriend" in "Heart of Archness", a ten-foot-odd muscleman whose only speech consists of incoherent roars, and who is pitted against Archer in single combat. Archer shoots him in the knee.
  • Gilligan Cut: In Placebo Effect:
    Irish mobster: Go ahead and shoot me! Cuz ain't nuthin in the world can make me talk!
    Archer: You say that...
    (cut to Irish Mobster handcuffed to poker table, pants around his ankles, having a 'smoke grenade' shoved up his ass)
  • A Glass in the Hand: Malory breaks the last of her Steuben glass set in frustration when Nicholai hangs up on her in "Dial M For Mother".
  • Go Mad from the Isolation:
    • Barry goes from "unstable" to "completely insane" while stuck on the international space station.
    • In the "Sea Tunt" two-parter, This is what happened to Murphy
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: In-Universe: In Archer's mind, his cheating on Lana is justified because he only cheated with sexy and powerful women, whereas Cyril is just a prick for cheating since he only did it with other ISIS personnel.
  • Good News, Bad News: In "The Papal Chase", after being told the "Good News" aspect:
    Pam: Hey hey! That is good news!
    Lana: You do know how the whole "The Good News Is..." thing works, right?
    Guard: The bad news is—
    Pam: Oh, right.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The Disposing of a Body scene in "Killing Utne," where the team pose two bodies to look like a Murder-Suicide in Trudy Beakman's apartment and then torch the room. The camera spends the whole time focusing on the apartment door as we listen to the events within.
  • Gossipy Hens: Pam is a notorious gossip.
    • A few examples - she's got a blog filled with videos of various bits of gossip, actively films Cyril's father-issue rant, and when informed Malory might have breast cancer, we get the following exchange.
    Malory: The last thing I need is this spreading like...Pam, what the hell!
    Pam: *Texting the news around the office* What? I can't help it! It's like a disease! *Beat, resumes texting*
    Malory: Pam!
    Pam: Do you not know what disease means?! Oh... right.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: ISIS.
    • ISIS (as well as ODIN, and possibly even the KGB) actually appears to operate in the free-market, without any link to the government. Since the series is vaguely in an alternate universe, it's hard to be sure— but if they were receiving any taxpayer dollars, you'd think it would have come up by now.
      Pam: Can [Malory] really sell ISIS? Aren't we owned by, like, the government, or something?
      Cheryl: Yeah, I've never been totally clear on that.
      • It finally bites them in the ass in "White Elephant", when it's confirmed that ISIS has been operating without any government approval whatsoever, which the FBI is rather unhappy about.
  • Gratuitous French: "Jeu Monegasque". Many of the agents use it, and while Sterling knows the least, several people make fun of Lana's issues with pronunciation.
  • Gratuitous German: A pair of assassins is German and one episode centers around a German millionaire and his daughter, both of whom use a lot of random German words. Doesn't mean their pronunciation is spot-on, though.
  • Gratuitous Italian: Thrown around a lot in "Lo Scandalo", in which Malory orders the ISIS crew to help her dispose the body of the Italian prime minister (and her lover of 35 years).
    • Also in "The Papal Chase", when they're undercover in the Vatican to protect the Pope from an assassin.
  • Guns in Church: Lana, a "covert operative", frequently wears two guns openly in side holsters atop her otherwise skintight clothing.

    H-N 
  • Hacked by a Pirate: An episode had the ISIS computer system infected by a virus that displayed a dancing pirate sprite complete with parrot which sang "Hunch, hunch! What, what!".
  • Hair Trigger Sound Effect: Lampshaded and discussed when combined with Insistent Terminology during the "Jeu Montesque". Just try mentioning Benoit.
    • BALLS!
  • Half-Human Hybrid:
  • Handsome Lech: Even if you're a hetero dude, you have to admit that Archer isn't exactly ugly... on the outside, at least.
  • Hard Head: Deconstructed. Being knocked unconscious for a whole hour? Super bad for you.
  • Hard Light: Relatively subtle, but the holographic avatar for Krieger's fiance is able to hold objects, and one scene indicates that Krieger can have physical sex with her.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: In the episode "Heart of Archness", Archer has just woken up from a wild night with two nubile island girls. The room is border-line Destructo-Nookie and there are hand prints everywhere, which leads him to comment:
    Archer: And what position was that?!? Did the missionaries never make it down here?
  • Heh Heh, You Said X: One character in "Jeu Monegasque" is named Benoit. Which sounds a little too much like "Ben Wa" (balls), a sex toy. Archer points this out at every opportunity.
  • Her Code Name Was Mary Sue: In "Movie Star," Malory's given the script to a spy thriller for consultation purposes. She quickly sets about cutting herself in as "Malory Steel," a sexy intelligence head in her 50s, and quickly needs Cyril's help in keeping the script straight.
  • Heroic BSOD: At the end of "The Wind Cries Mary," after hearing his old friend Lucas Troy's deathbed confession, Archer is first squicked to primal screaming, then stunned to silence (as are Lana and Cyril). After driving awhile (14 seconds of screen-time) in the car home quietly, Archer asks for the radio to be turned on. Naturally, this is played for laughs for the audience, but all three of the characters are genuinely disturbed and/or Squicked out by it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Katya pushes both herself and an out-for-revenge Barry off of Archer's terrace to prevent Barry from choking Archer to death. Unfortunately, it's in vain as Barry survives without a scratch due to his new cybernetic implants. And Krieger's van is crushed as well.
    • Archer makes one of these for Lana in the last episode of season 4.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Archer and his old friend Lucas, an Odin agent he befriended during agent training. Naturally, everyone at ISIS frequently jokes about how they're secretly gay for each other.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Trudy Beekman, downgraded from The Ghost after being partially visible in a season four appearance.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Archer. Malory didn't even appear in his life from birth through age 5. It went downhill from there. To wit...
    Malory: 'cause he'll be back! Crying for his mommy! Just like that Christmas break when I moved and forgot to give my new address to his stupid boarding school. I mean, he rode the train into the city all by himself, he couldn't pick up a phone book? 9-years old and bawling in that police station like a little girl! Huh - what's that tell you?
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • In a flashback Woodhouse reads a telegram to a young Sterling, saying: "Ajax a Success! Tehran is ours! Merry X-mas from Mommy and Uncle Kermit." Operation Ajax was the 1953 CIA backed coup to restore the Shah to power in Iran, headed by CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt.
    • Likewise, Malory was involved in Operation Gladio, which allegedly did turn into a crypto-fascist shitshow. "Thanks, Holly Hindsight."
    • Malory makes a passing reference to Operation Paperclip when Cyril is confronting her about Krieger being a Nazi.
    • Archer mentions he was six when Malory was involved in the 1954 Guatamalan coup, though this contradicts other bits of backstory we've learned.
    • Jakov's office is heavily modeled on Hitler's study, while the funeral for Archer's "father" is based on President Kennedy's funeral, with Malory as Jackie Kennedy and Archer as JFK Jr.
    • In Honeypot, Charles and Rudy discuss Nazi uniforms, which they apparently find sexy. Rudy enthusiastically points out that they were made by Hugo Boss. Hugo Boss was a supplier of uniforms for several Nazi organizations. Some of their advertisements even boasted that the company was a "supplier for National Socialist uniforms since 1924."
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Archer and his old friend Lucas Troy, who even participated in naked locker room wrestling, but they're just friends. Except for Lucas, as he's exclusively gay for Archer.
  • Honey Pot: Archer loves the Honey Pot. Except when he has to portray a homosexual man.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: "El Contador", including using the phrase word-for-word.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Lots of it, often from Archer.
  • I Call It Vera: Ray's dual 1911's are named Liza and Barbara. Their names are engraved on the sides.
  • Identity Amnesia: Archer at the beginning of season 4, apparently induced by the shock of his mother getting remarried. In a massive dose of Actor Allusion, his new identity and family are lifted entirely from Benjamin's character in Bob's Burgers.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: You want to terraform Mars and don't know where to start? First off, hire a private contractor (with no previous loyalties) to ensure the success of a mutiny and then abduct the women to help with speeding up the population of Mars. After, of course, making sure they're of good breeding stock
  • If I Had a Nickel: In "El Contador" after drinking Krieger's tea.
    Ray: It tastes worse than it smells!
    Ram: If I had a nickel every time I heard a man say that... I'd have eight nickels!
  • If Its You Its OK:
    • Ray may be gay, but he's still willing to have sex with Lana. As he puts it, "Nobody's that gay."
    • Everyone jokes that Archer and his best friend, Lucas, are totally gay for each other despite being womanizers. It isn't true for Archer, but it is for Lucas.
  • I Love the Dead: Krieger is briefly shown groping the breasts of a dead and naked Katya. He lamely insists after the fact that she wasn't completely dead. "Nothing a few hundred thousand volts couldn't cure. The human body is basically a potato clock."
  • I'm a Humanitarian: When a party conversation casually turns to cannibalism, Woodhouse mentions that African tribes call it "long pig" and that he "never cared for it."
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Archer is reluctantly convinced into this when Bionic Katya takes off with Barry.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Lots, without comment. For example;
    • Two actresses from Arrested Development feature in the main cast, joined by Jeffery Tambor in another.
    • Thomas Lennon, who co-starred on Reno 911! with Aisha Tyler (where she played his long-lost sister).
    • Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal, Gene and Louise from Bob's Burgers, voice Cheryl's brother and his wife.
  • I Would Say If I Could Say: Malory's "I'm not so crass as to say I told you so at a time like this, but tell you I most certainly did!"
  • Imagine Spot
  • Immune to Drugs: Pam. In The Papal Chase, Woodhouse accidentally injects her with two syringes full of heroin, with no noticeable effect. She has recently taken to eating enough cocaine and amphetamines to keep the population of a large city high for several days, and apart from a brief cardiac arrest (which also doesn't faze her) she's been more-or-less normal. She's also the only one not completely incapacitated by 'Krieger Cleanse.'
    • Malory has her moments as well. In House Call, she takes a tranquilizer dart to the chest and she doesn't even put down her Bloody Mary (or is it a Bloody Caesar?).
    • Archer, himself, didn't even know it's possible to drink too much until Bloody Ferlin. While he does occasionally go down, don't expect him to stay down very long:
    Archer: Luke, you're not thinking straight. You wildly underestimated my liver's ability to metabolize toxins.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy:
    • The Soviet soldiers in "Whiteout" can't hit anything, to the frustration of their commanding officer. Archer Lampshades this.
    Jeez, these guys cannot hit anything.
    • In "The Wind Cries Mary," Lana is ridiculed by Lucas for her "spray and pray" shooting technique (plus only carrying two magazines), where both he and Archer comment she must be fighting an Ent the way she was attacking a tree Lucas was using for cover.
  • Improbably Cool Car: For whatever reason, all taxis in New York seem to be 1962 Mercedes 300SE (W112) instead of the ubiquitous Checker A11 (Mercedes wasn't near as popular then as it is now, and luxury cars are rarely used as taxis); 1970 GAZ 24 Volgas show up, most prominintly in "Drift Problem" (the car Archer throws out of the parking garage with his new spy car), despite Soviet cars (even luxury ones like the Volga) being extremely rare in the US in the '60s and '70s; and, despite it not being a car or necessarily cool, the buses are the unmistakeable Czechoslovakian three door 1966 Karos SM 11s, instead of GM/Flxible New Look, or even Old Look buses.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: ISIS.
    • The KGB, at least until Barry takes over.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Archer pulls this on himself in the third season premiere, voluntarily denying that he works for ISIS.
  • Incessant Music Madness: In "Sea Tunt," Cheryl seems to be able to hear music cues in the episode's score, and it's driving her more insane than usual. She incorrectly credits the music to John Williams, and her deteriorating mental health is a major episode plot point, so it's unclear wether or not she's actually hearing the same soundtrack the audience is.
  • Incest Subtext: Sterling obviously has a lot of issues from his childhood which make him yell out his mother's name during sex, amongst other things.
    Malory: An erection!? The thought of me dead gives you an erection!?
    Archer: Only like, half of one. The other half would've really missed you.
  • Ink-Suit Actor:
    • Averted for most of the main characters, who are based on Atlanta-area models. Len Trexler resembles Jeffory Tambor, however. Lana Kane was drawn before the casting of voice actress Aisha Tyler, and their resemblance is a coincidence. The Season 2 DVD extra "L'Espion Mal Fait" ("The Badly Made Spy") shows what would happen if Archer had a horrible accident and the doctors clumsily rebuilt him... looking like H. Jon Benjamin.
    Malory: I can not believe I'm saying this, but... it would have been better if he'd died.
    Archer: Oh come on! Seriously!
    • Tiffy and Cecil in "Sea Tunt" are both dead ringers for their voices, Kristen Schaal and Eugene Mirman, respectively.
    • An interesting cast variant: Lucky Yates, the voice actor for Krieger, is also the character model for Ray.
  • Instant A.I., Just Add Water: Subverted in "Tragical History":
    Malory: Just turn off the mainframe.
    Lana: (holds up an unplugged power cord) Yeah, we tried that.
    Malory: Then how is it still on?
    Krieger: Because the worm has turned the mainframe...into a sentient being.
    (dramatic musical sting)
    Malory: What?
    Krieger: I'm kidding. There's a battery backup.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Malory in the first season episode "Killing Utne":
    Archer: Who puts Oxycontin in a Xanax bottle?
    Malory: People with servants, idiot!
    Archer: But if they're stealing pills, how does it help to switch the labels?
    Malory: Because they can't read English!
    Archer: (laughing) OK, I'm gonna leave you to think about that whole line of reasoning.
  • Insecurity System: ISIS headquarters has roof access with an unlocked door.
    Archer: Wow...our security actually kind of sucks.
    • Not to mention the password for all computer systems being "Guest".
  • Insistent Terminology: Frequently;
    • It's a rigid airship powered by helium.
    • It's not Seamus. It's The Wee Baby Seamus.
    • Ray's brother isn't a drug dealer, he's a drug farmer.
    • Nikolai Jakov, head of the KGB.
    • It's YY ZED
    • Archer and Trinette insist that she's a "call girl" or "escort", not a hooker. Later, Archer is equally insistent that "when they're dead, they're just hookers".
    • It's a zentai, not a catsuit.
    • They're involuntary laborers, not slaves.
    • It's M as in Mancy.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Archer and Ruth, who bond while undergoing cancer treatments.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Leads to Barry and Katya hooking up.
    • Cheryl/Carol is also extremely turned-on by Archer slapping her, which he finds "super creepy". But to be fair, emotional abuse turns her on as well. Which he finds somehow creepier.
  • Interrupted Intimacy:
    • Lana walks in on Cyril and Framboise.
    • There's a Running Gag of showing flashbacks in which Archer and Lana are interrupted by a phone call from Malory.
    Lana:Wanna do it again and put on some interracial porn?
    (...phone rings)
    Lana: No, baby don't answer it.
    Archer: I have to, sorry, it's Mother...Turn it on, I can do both. (beat) What?
  • In The Local Tongue: The yakuza drift racers call Pam 'Shiro Kabocha' and tell her it means 'white shadow,' when it really translates to 'white pumpkin'
  • Invention Pretension: Archer claims to have invented turtlenecks. When pressed he claims to have simply popularized them as tactical dress for covert missions, but when distracted, drunk, or being drained of a liter of blood, he more passionately claims to have invented them.
  • Inventor of the Mundane: Archer claims his mother is a millionaire for inventing splashless urinal cakes to entice some pirates.
  • The Irish Mob: The villains in "Placebo Effect"
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "Just the tip!"
    • The ending of "Movie Star" has: "...and?"
    • The ending of "Space Race" has: "Welcome to the... danger zone." It's not a real echo, but Archer was trying to goad Commander Drake into saying it earlier in the episode.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: The Monaco episode just happens to take place while the Grand Prix is going on.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: "Bloody Ferlin" reveals that Ray Gillette's name is pronounced "gillet" with a hard "g" by everyone else in his family.
  • It's a Long Story: Invoked and subverted with Archer's switchblade. He says it's a long story, then flashes back to him seeing it in a hardware store and deciding to buy it, then cuts back to him admitting it isn't a long story.
  • Jail Bait: Even Archer has his limits.
    Malory "For god's sake, Sterling, she's turning seventeen!
    Archer "Oh, ew, sorry."
    Lana "Even for you, Archer."
    Archer "Come on, she doesn't look like she's turning seventeen."
    Lana "No, she looks like she's turning eighteen."
    Archer "Exactly! Plus, the Europeans use the metric system, so..."
  • Jail Bait Wait: Hinted at by Archer at the end of "Swiss Miss".
  • The Jeeves: Woodhouse. The name may be a reference to author P. G. Wodehouse, the creator of the original Jeeves character.
  • Jerkass: Archer's unrepentant asshole behavior is mostly what sells the show. It's been heavily implied that his jerkass personality is the result of growing up with a neglectful, jet-setting whore for a mother.
    • Cyril has his moments.
    • Lance Casteau in "Live and Let Dine". BIG TIME.
  • Jerkass Ball: It's not a question of if, but when a character will play with it. Of the five seasons you could count the number of cameos and one shot characters who don't on one hand, with fingers to spare.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • In "Double Deuce", it turns out that the murderer hunting Woodhouse was completely innocent and everyone was dying due to accidents and simply had misleading obituaries. When Archer kills the murderer, Woodhouse flips out at him, but from Archer's perspective (he had no idea that the murderer was innocent and it was all a coincidence) and that when he returned the murderer was right there pointing a Webley revolver in Woodhouse's face (to show him the bore was unpitted), Archer reacted exactly like a trained spy and assassin would. While wrong in hindsight, Archer's actions were perfectly justified considering what he knew at the time...well, all except for the baby-throwing.
    • In "Sea Tunt," while it is eventually revealed that Cecil wants to have Cheryl committed to get his hands on her half of the family inheritance for entirely selfish reasons, Cheryl has demonstrated on multiple occasions, including in that episode, that she is violently unstable and probably should have been permanently committed a long time ago.
      • Even then, he appears genuinely distressed that nobody in ISIS thinks twice about his sister's rapidly diminishing mental state, and worries after her wellbeing. While his primary motive was to take her money, he's clearly disturbed at his sister's descent into madness.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: Constantly. Special credit, though, has to go to Lana angrily reminding Archer that she's pregnant by pointing at her swollen belly... with the pistol she's holding. Cue [Beat], and Oh Crap reaction.
  • Karma Houdini: Several villains over the course of the show get away scot-free thanks to the incompetence of the ISIS agents. Most of the ISIS agents themselves qualify as well, as does Malory.
  • Kavorka Man: Cyril is revealed to be a sex addict and can't stop sleeping with a series of different women. Supposedly because Bigger Is Better in Bed. Even Krieger's virtual fiance seems to come onto him.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Jakov and Brett.
  • Killed Off for Real: Bilbo, Jakov, Brett.
  • Kinda Busy Here: All the time, to the point of being a Running Gag. Especially given the agents' choice in ringtones.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Archer appears to have shades of this, judging by his concern for Babou the ocelot, as well as his surprising empathy for a Bengal Tiger. He later gets Babou as a pet, but is unprepared for its high maintenance.
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: Krieger's virtual girlfriend, who is "so real the state of New York is allowing him to legally marry her."
  • Klingon Promotion: Archer becomes the new captain of a group of Pirates after killing their current captain.
  • Knight Templar: The Big Bad of the "Space Race" 2-parter, who wants to force Lana to be a birthmother for a new Martian colony.
  • The Knights Who Say Squee: Archer meeting his hero Burt Reynolds, and going on to list almost every film he's ever been in. Only to be horribly shocked to find out he's dating Malory.
  • Kung-Shui:
    • Invoked: Ramon claims to have bought Claymore mines, not to frag Archer, but for redecorating. Though he may have been lying...
    • The inevitable showdown of Bionic Katya and Bionic Barry. Unfortunately leads to Slap-Slap-Kiss.
  • Lady Drunk: Malory. In the Season 3 finale, she's shown drinking Isopropyl Alcohol. Straight.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Sterling, with Katya.
  • Lame Comeback: Used a lot. For example, in "Tragical History":
    Cyril: I've still got one bullet left.
    Spelvin: Does he?
    Archer: I don't know. Who do I look like, Count...Bullets...ula? Like Dracul-that was bad.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: As mentioned in "accidental innuendo", they were usually called out with "Phrasing!". In Archer: Vice, Sterling decides "phrasing" has become boring and tries to substitute "Said the actress to the bishop." Unfortunately, he can't remember it clearly, so he ends up saying "said Ripley to the Android Bishop."
  • Lampshade Hanging: Oh so very much.
    • In "Honeypot", after Ramon blows up the condo with a Claymore:
    Ramon: It looks like they escaped... as implausible as that may seem.
    Archer: That does seem implausible.
    • In an episode centered on their troubled relationship. Cyril and Lana stop bickering and work together to push a bomb off their rigid airship, then embrace and exclaim, "We made it! We made it, baby!" as the airship soars. In the background, Archer proclaims, "Hooray for metaphors!"
    • "Skorpio": surrounded by Mooks, Archer pulls out a grenade seemingly from nowhere:
    Lana: Where'd you get a grenade?
    Archer: Hanging from the lampshade!
    Pam: We call it "The Ol' Switcheroo."
    Archer: We absolutely do not call it "The Ol' Switcheroo".
    Bishop: [Noticing resemblance] Dios Mio!
    Archer: I know, right? Trope alert!
  • In "Archer Vice: Southbound and Down" we have this beauty:
    Malory (to Cherlene): How *ahem* would you, my little country songbird, like to be on "Travis County Limits"?
    Cyril: Ooh, is that like "Austin City Limits"?
    Malory: It's comparable. Hush.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: All over the place.
    • Although he sometimes seems like a Karma Houdini, most of the bad things that happen to Archer, especially injuries, are the direct result of his own actions and/or negligence.
    • Mallory constantly laments about all the frustration that Sterling causes her, completely unwilling to accept that her parenting is the reason he is the way that he is. She also utterly refuses to let him leave ISIS (i.e. her) to go do something else with his life (i.e. outside of her control).
    • Lana stays at ISIS, despite her almost constant outrage at Archer and Mallory.
  • Last Name Basis:
    • Everyone except Malory (who uses either his first name, or Full Name Ultimatum) refers to Archer by his last name.
    • Almost everyone refers to Krieger by his last name. His first name is only revealed in Archer's book How to Archer as Algernop, complete with footnote that it is "not misspelled."
    • Woodhouse — naturally, being The Jeeves.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Movie Star", Cyril and Malory are discussing her screenplay:
    Cyril: What is this, a spy comedy?
    Malory: No!
    Cyril: Because that has been done.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Cyril in "Space Race pt. 1" and "Crossing Over". "SUPPRESSING FIIIIIRRRRRE!"
  • Lemming Cops: "The Man From Jupiter".
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Archer and Lana, especially in season two.
  • Limb-Sensation Fascination: After Krieger gives Ray a pair of bionic legs, he shows off by dancing a jig.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Played with, the characters wear the exact same outfit every episode, just different colors, unless they're going on missions.
  • Little Stowaway: Adult version (well... Man Child version); Pam and Cheryl stow away on a space flight, largely as an excuse to put the comic relief characters in the episode even though it's implausible enough that the main cast are there...
  • Lock and Load Montage: Invoked for intimidation purposes, lampshaded and parodied all at once;
    Archer: Do you get it? Because I swear to god, I will strip back down and show you all over again-
    Pharmacist: Yeah I get it, I get it! You have a lot of guns!
    Archer: And a knife!
  • Love Dodecahedron: Not just one, but two; one with the ISIS staff and most minor characters, and another with Malory, all of Archer's possible fathers and pretty much any man.
  • The Ludovico Technique: Lampshaded when they use it to put Trexler off marrying Malory - it's referred to as a "modified Ludovico".
  • Mad Scientist: Krieger, the head of ISIS' research department who was engaged to a hologram and has a penchant for creating sex robots and genetic mutants.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Everyone in ISIS has one in the final seconds of the penultimate episode of Season 4, wherein Captain Murphy reveals that he's planning to fire chemical weapons at major cities on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. It's a rare moment that certainly isn't played for laughs.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Lana, who spends almost every mission wearing some sort of "sexy" spy outfit, if not walking around in flat-out lacy lingerie, which other characters call her out on.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Archer, who spends just about an equal amount of time wearing fan servicey mission outfits as Lana, which show off his muscles, and has about an even amount of time shooting people in his underwear as her.
  • Macho Disaster Expedition: The mission in Turkmenistan in "Once Bitten;" since Lana can't go undercover in No Woman's Land, Cyril, Ray and Archer are sent, and manage to screw up in pretty much every way imaginable.
  • Made Myself Sad: A twisted version in the Faux To Guide "Conflict Resolution", where Pam has a hand-puppet of herself make fun of her weight, eventually leading Pam to breaking down.
    Puppet! Pam: Meep, meep, fatty.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Archer has taken everything from shots to the foot, leg, and chest, drilled through his brain, and even suffered through limb-shattering car accidents. Not only is the recovery near-instant (i.e. by the next episode), but he seems to have insanely high thresholds of pain, speaking with nonchalance despite growing blood loss and trauma. Taken to the extreme in "Dial M for Mother" where he takes 6 .44 rounds to the chest, and only minutes later (with no medical treatment) is casually complimenting the shooter on their tight grouping. He also willfully drinks scotch with shards of glass in it with complete disregard.
    • Averted with Brett, who has been shot four times. He is seen walking with a cane, and Malory derisively calls him a 'Mr. Blood Mobile.' Since "Drift Problem", he now seems to recognize his role in the show.
    • Barry, being a cyborg, a fact that Archer continuously forgets.
    • Despite showing some bruising, Pam takes multiple punches to the face like a champ, thank to the Fight Clubbing she did in college.
    • This trope with some heavy Rule of Funny sprinkling is what kept Cheryl alive through repeated beatings, choking and stranglings, all of which she wanted to happen to satisfy her masochist sexual fetish.
  • Malaproper: Archer, occasionally. For example, mixing up his Shakespeare quote with a video game; "Cry havoc, and let slip the Hogs Of War!"
  • Man Child: Sterling is a beacon of immaturity. Summed up pretty well by Lana.
    Lana: Can not picture him as a baby, y'know? I just see an adult him but tiny - like a little Archer G.I. Joe.
  • Manipulative Editing: Archer pulls this trick on Barry to convince Katya that he's cheating on her. It doesn't work since Katya was deceiving Archer all along.
  • Manly Gay: Gillette's high school bully in West Virginia turns out to be gay, while also being a hard-nosed sheriff.
  • The Magazine Rule: Barry reads Desert Eagle magazine. Talk about Weapon of Choice...
  • Masochist's Meal: "The secret ingredient... is phone."
  • Maternally Challenged: Have you been paying attention?
  • May-December Romance: Uta and Manni, German assassins. Uta is 19, while Manni looks like Revolver Ocelot from Metal Gear.
  • Meaningful Name: Bionic Barry gets into the US under the alias "Sy Berg".
  • Medium Awareness:
    Bishop: [Noticing resemblance] Dios Mio!
    Acher: I know, right? Trope alert!
    • In "Sea Tunt, Part I," Cheryl occasionally hears the soundtrack:
    [Dramatic orchestral sting]
    Cheryl: [looking up] GOD DAMN IT, JOHN WILLIAMS!
  • Military Alphabet: Archer doesn't get it.
    Archer: The first letter is "B".
    Gilette: "Bravo"!
    Archer: Thank you.
  • Million to One Chance: Played for Laughs in "A Going Concern" when Archer tries to disarm the C4 on Malory's desk:
    Archer: (takes picture of wires with phone) Hey, which one of these—
    Ray: Blue and yellow.
    Archer: You wanna look at it for more than half a second?
    Ray: I wired the damn thing, ass!
    [...]
    Ray: [Archer cuts the wires] Oh my God.
    Archer: What?
    Ray: I lied. I didn't wire it.
  • Mic Drop: Done twice.
    • In the episode "The Wind Cries Mary". First when Archer is boasting about Lucas Troy and drops the control room mic.
    • And again by Pam when she finds out no one (except Cyril) has filled out the Peer Review forms, despite the low employee numbers (even though there were 50 agents and a full office plus a receptionist in the pilot).
  • Mini-Mecha: The spaceship has a yellow Power Loader exactly like the one from Aliens on board.
  • Missing Backblast: Archer tries to get out of a small, sealed, blastproof room by firing an RPG at the door. It doesn't go well, but he (and Cheryl) still manages to escape with only some Clothing Damage, minor burns and very nearly waving goodbye to "the last remaining shred of [his] eardrums".
  • Mistaken For Afterlife: Archer's Fluffy Cloud coma fantasy.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Archer and Woodhouse:
    Woodhouse: And this is Sterling Archer, my...
    Stinky: None of my business. Consenting adults and all that.
    Archer: Wha...hey! No one's consenting to anything!
    Stinky: None of my business.
  • Mood Whiplash: In "Crossing Over", Jakov is killed by Barry and it's completely Archer's fault for ditching his bodyguard duties to have great sex. Well, not that great, as Pam takes the time to point out.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Archer does this to a member of Skorpio's yacht crew in one episode. A crew of South American terrorists do this to some hotel staffers in another.
  • Multiple Choice Past:
    • Archer's origins are left deliberately vague, and various episodes give contradictory details about his origins, which isn't helped by the show's ambiguous date. "The Double Deuce" states that he was born in Morocco while Malory was running from Nazi spies (around 1938-41), "Lo Scandalo" suggests that one of his possible fathers was an Italian executed by Fascist Italy for speaking out against the government, and other episodes show him to be about six or seven years old at the end of World War II. He's also shown listening to Woodhouse read a telegram from Malory about Operation Ajax in 1953 (which would make him as old as fifteen, but he looks much younger than that) and "Once Bitten" states that he was six when Malory was involved in the CIA-backed Guatamalan coup d'état, which took place in 1954 (which would place his birthdate in 1948).
    • Woodhouse has one as well, at one point mentioning he served in Africa with the King's Rifles in season one, then revealing he was a Lance-Corporal in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: All of the superspies are very impressed by Ron's successful line of Cadillac dealerships.
  • Mushroom Samba: Pam, Cheryl and Ray take some of Krieger's special "herbal cleanse" to pass a drug test. They start hallucinating, with Pam seeing Ray as a Decepticon, Ray seeing Pam melt, and Cheryl seeing the bathroom floor turn to lava.
  • My Beloved Smother: Archer's mother Malory. When a bad guy takes Malory hostage in the pilot and taunts him about how he's going to murder her, Archer immediately gets an erection ("Just half of one! The other half would have... really missed you.") and the taunt backfires. He later bonds with a Cuban target over their shared hatred of their Smothers.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: "I'm making peace with my loved ones...and some other people."
  • Mythology Gag:
    • From Frisky Dingo:
      • The car alarm gag in the second season.
      • Jakov's Assistant often uses the phrase "Come on, buddy" in the very same way as Ronnie, with the same Russian accent.
      • "Heart of Archness" even gives us an Asian character saying "What the hell, damn guy?"
      • "What the hell, damn guy?" also makes an appearance in "El Contador".
      • Woodhouse uses the ethnic slur "gyppos" (a slang form of "Gypsies", used in the UK for Romani and Irish Travellers alike).
      • Mr. Ford's ass is everywhere.
      • "Aww... Fat Mike, too?"
      • "BAWK BAWK" shows up a bunch.
      • The iTunes description of The Papal Chase dubs the episode's mission to save the Pope from assassination "Operation Bad Habit."
      • The rampaging biker gang from "Southbound and Down" is named the "Tex'-Tacles".
    • From Sealab 2021:
      • The exclamation "Cheesey Petes!" is used by various characters, but usually Cyril.
      • Also the appearance of an underwater lab captain named Murphy in "Sea Tunt, Part I."
      • The access code '934 Texas' (often abbreviated 934TXS) makes several background appearances, such as in Archer's burn notice in Job Offer, the Border Patrol license plate in Coyote Lovely, and the number of the train in The Limited.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Archer's name is evoked in this fashion by a lot of the bad guys on the show. Admittedly, this is not helped by the fact that Archer doesn't get the idea of anonymity as a spy.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Inverted. It's said Sterling relies on his mother for employment. Played straight in "Blood Test," when the revelation that Archer might have a kid leads Pam and Cheryl to start needling Lana.
  • Never Found the Body: Charles and Rudy, the Camp Gay interor decorator and hairdresser/assassins for hire of "Honey Pot", disappear after Archer detonates a Claymore feet from them. Naturally, discussed and lampshaded.
    Archer: "Wait, where'd they go?"
    Ramon: "It seems they escaped, however implausible that may be."
    Archer: "That is implausible."
  • Never Trust a Trailer: At the end of "White Elephant," Archer fantasizes about things to come in a two and half minutes montage of clips allegedly from future episodes. In reality, less than half of them are from actual episodes and the rest are scenes that didn't make it past the first draft.
  • N.G.O.: Deconstructed with I.S.I.S.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Cheryl has a death fetish and fantasizes about men strangling her to death. She insists that her lovers choke her during sex.
    Archer: I'm just going to say it, I think it's super creepy you get sexually aroused by physical violence.
    Cheryl: Ehhhh, well, but also emotional violence.
    Archer: Wow.
    Cheryl: Yeah.
    Archer: That's... even creepier.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Chef Lance Casteau is so much like Anthony Bourdain (albeit with a pinch of Gordon Ramsay), Bourdain himself actually lent his voice.
  • No, Except Yes: Happens several times, with a character (usually Krieger) being asked about or accused of something, giving a rambling, implausible denial, and finally admitting "Also, yes..."
  • No Hero to His Valet: Archer is a pretty big asshole to just about everyone, but he gets absolutely sadistic to Woodhouse, whom he treats like an abused pet. In his Character Blog, he explains the difference between a butler and a valet: "A valet will shave you anywhere.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Brett decided it would be funny to mock Archer for possibly having breast cancer. Archer promptly beats him 6 shades of senseless.
    • Implied with Pam and Malory in "El Secuestro".
    • Cyril actually hauls off and punches Archer in "Coyote Lovely"... this does not end well for him.
  • No Indoor Voice: Just about every character will scream in any given scene. Lana and Archer are particular examples, especially Archer's "Lana... Lana... LANA!" gag.
  • Non-Action Guy: Cyril, Krieger, Cheryl and Pam don't really have any combat skills, though they can go crazy occasionally. Pam is ultimately revealed to be a Hidden Badass and occasionally demonstrates feats of impressive strength as well.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Surprisingly, Cheryl, who works a day job despite being richer than Croesus (though it is in a trust fund controlled by her brother). In some episodes after the reveal, she seems to be a bit fuzzy on the whole concept of money. At one point when being kept waiting she sarcastically asks if she's paid by the hour, then when Cyril points out that given her job she actually might be, it seems she doesn't really know.
  • Noodle Incident: Several:
    • Lana describing "that thing with the mayonnaise" as one of the reasons she dumped Archer.
    • Archer's conception is tied to four noodle incidents Scenario A: potential dad Len Drexler, a hotel in Berlin, and Malory Archer doing something so shocking that she got thrown out of the hotel. Scenario B: potential dad Nikolai Jakov, the legendary "Bridge of Spies" in Berlin, and something that caused Malory to flee Berlin and unable to contact Nikolai for the entire nine months she was pregnant. Scenario C: possible dad Buddy Rich having sex with Malory, though she has since stated that this is unlikely. Scenario D: Malory mentions that an unnamed man who may have been Archer's father was killed by Italian fascists shortly post-World War II as part of Operation Gladio, with no details given as to his death or connection to Malory.
    • In "Job Offer," we see Barry and Lana in a situation involving the two being put on top of each other buck naked (with Barry sexually penetrating Lana in the process) while being threatened with a laser beam.
    • Pam's vacation to Jamaica in season two; she comes back with a tan and rasta gear/pot which she openly smokes and comments about being deported back to the US for some unstated reason.
    • An undisclosed series of incidents involving the abuse of an undisclosed office perk that Malory threatens to lock up so no one can partake of it, in episode 103. This might be a Running Gag based on Krieger having sex with the food in the fridge, as revealed in the first episode and obliquely referenced throughout the first season.
    • Both Malory and Lana, in separate incidents, had to kill a man in Tunisia for some reason, apparently as part of their first assignment with ISIS.
    • The "Popeye incident," mentioned in "Job Offer" resulted in Archer having to install a bulletproof door.
    • Gillette has revealed to have had a rather rough patch in his life, where among other things, he tried to renounce his homosexuality via joining a religious group designed to deprogram homosexuals and was paired up with a fellow reformed lesbian, with whom he had a 2-year marriage. He's also a disgraced former minister, but still licensed by the state of New York to perform marriages
    • Deconstructed with Malory wearing an eye patch the first time she met her son after shipping him off to the US with Woodhouse (who raised Archer); Malory comments that she doesn't remember why she had the eye patch on. Becomes sort of a Running Gag in flashbacks.
    • Cheryl successfully pled insanity and was committed to a mental asylum. She has also been in an asylum with total amnesia under somebody else's name; it's not clear whether these were the same incident.
    • Fourth of Ju-Luau - we know it involved a pig, and a drunk, scratched-up Archer naked on top of it.
    • In "Sea Tunt, Part I":
    Malory: And since when do you carry a switchblade?!
    Archer: It's a long story, mother!
    [Cut to Archer seeing it in a store window; he says "Neat!" and presumably just buys it]
    Archer: Well, not so much long as just not very interesting.
    • Also from "Sea Tunt": Cheryl thought she was a werewolf for 6 months, and she also did something to make Malory ban scissors from ISIS.
    • How did ISIS get a literal metric ton of cocaine?
  • Not So Different: When protecting an underage German heiress, she and Archer have a conversation about how her father never really cared about her, sending her to boarding schools, different camps and so on. And that she acts out to get attention, and how she's insecure and doesn't have any friends, so she overcompensates and comes off as arrogant.
    Archer "Yeah, I get it, Anka!
    Anka "You know, I think you and I are a lot alike, Archer."
    Archer "I don't do that!"
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Archer plays off the prostitute he hires as his date at the dinner party for Utne to be this.
    Lana: What does she drive, a Snuffleupagus?
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: When they need someone who can do brain surgery, Cyril points out Krieger isn't a medical doctor.
    Cyril: "But we'd need a doctor!"
    Cheryl: "So? Krieger's a doctor."
    Cyril: "Not the medical kind!"
    Krieger: "Not even the other kind, technically."
    • The ISIS 401k accounts seen in "Jeu Monégasque" hinted that Doctor was his first name, however his Twitter account says it's Algernop, which is confirmed when he signs his confession in Season Five, Episode 1.
      • It also mispells his name into "Kreiger".
  • Not What It Looks Like: Pretty much the whole plot of the season 2 premiere "Swiss Miss." And it actually wasn't what it looked like - even Archer has some standards.
  • Number Two: Each of the leaders of the three big spy organizations (KGB, ISIS, ODIN) have one of these. Len Trexler of ODIN has Barry Dylan, Major Jakov of the KGB has Boris (who ends up working for Barry when he usurps Jakov's position, and then for Katya when she does the same to Barry) and who plays off his Straight Man, and Mallory has Archer, her best agent.

    O-S 
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Rona Thorne. While she really is a kind of energetic, easily distracted person, she successfully hides the fact that she is a deadly markswoman and skilled assassin behind the veneer of an air-headed Hollywood actress.
    • Minor example in 'Lo Scandalo' when Malory is talking to the detective.
  • Odd Friendship: Happens in "Honeypot" between Archer and Ramon, the gay Cuban spy he's assigned to entrap in the titular honeypot. The men bond over their mutual hatred for My Beloved Smother.
  • O Positive: In "Heart of Archness" pt.3, Ray is seriously wounded and needs a blood transfusion, but he's O Positive, Lana, Rip Riley, and Bucky are all A Negative, and Archer doesn't know his blood type. Fortunately, Noah is also O Positive.
  • Of Course I'm Not A Virgin: Anka in "Swiss Miss" claims to have seen dozens of "Wilhelms", scores even.
  • Oh Crap: Literally, in "Honeypot" when Archer plants a claymore mine in front of the previously-confident assassins.
  • Offhand Backhand: Archer does this with a net to catch grenades being thrown at him in 'Heart of Archness, Part II.'
  • Office: Actually makes up a large part of the humor at ISIS.
  • Oh God, with the Verbing!: "Oh God, with the curry again... this shirt smells like Indira Gandhi's thong."
  • Omniglot: Seems to be a standard bit of ISIS training, leading to a lot of Bilingual Bonuses.
    • Archer knows Portuguese and some Russian, but not Spanish (a Running Gag he shares with fellow spy Michael Westen).
    • Lana is conversant in French and Italian.
    • Cyril is fluent in Spanish and German.
    • Pam is conversant in Japanese. She manages to learn fluent Italian from tapes in the course of an 8-hour flight, but not Romansh.note 
    • Ray is conversant in German and French.
    • Barry speaks Russian and French fluently.
    • Malory speaks fluent Italian.
    • Krieger, being the child of Nazis hiding out in Brazil, speaks English, German, and Portuguese.
  • One Bullet Left:
    • Cyril, in 'Tragical History', following his Exactly What I Aimed At moment. It works as a threat, but he's subsequently surprised to find out the gun was actually empty.
    • Malory in the season 2 finale. Archer convinces her not to shoot Katya with it. When she does use it against cyborg-Barry it has no effect.
    • Subverted in 'Heart of Archness: Part III'
    Bucky: But I shoot gun many times and in all excitement I lose track myself huh? So now you thinking did he fire eight shots or only...?
    Archer: (checks mag) Four, idiot
    • 'Coyote Lovely' reveals counting bullets to be a particular talent of Archer's, in which he keeps track of the shots from two guns at once. Immediately after he is accused of being a high-functioning autistic.
  • One Drink Will Kill the Baby: Averted in a flashback to the late 1930s.
    Malory: "Please! I just killed a man and I think my water just broke, so I could really use a drink!"
    • Played straight in "Sea Tunt" when Lana adamantly refuses Archer's recommendation that she drink her nausea away, though it isn't apparent she is pregnant until later.
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner:
    • Krieger does the Babe reference, but with a slightly different spin; "That'll do, Pigly. That. will. do."
    • Barry gives one to himself; "Hey Barry, is that how you get ants? Yes it is, other Barry, yes it is."
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Bilbo, Scatterbrain Jane.
  • Only Sane Employee: Lana, though a couple of episodes in season four gave the trope something of a deconstruction. Various characters wonder aloud why she stays at ISIS if she thinks she's too good for it, and point out that it's quite an irritating attitude for everyone else to deal with (not that that makes it any less accurate...) Archer also snaps that for an agent so much more competent than him, she certainly needs him to save her life surprisingly often (albeit generally from situations caused by his own stupidity).
  • OOC Is Serious Business: In "Double Trouble", Lana brings this up as evidence that Archer may have turned on ISIS.
    Ray: (to Malory) For God's sake, woman, are you hearing yourself? He's your son, not a-
    Lana: Ray, she got him to quit drinking.
    Ray: (Guns Akimbo) So what's the plan?
  • Or So I Heard
    Archer: "Wow, that was impressive! Not many women can bring me to orgasm with my mother in the room. (beat) I would think."
  • Out of Focus: In the first season, ISIS' rivalry with ODIN was a major part of the show. By season 4, ODIN almost never appears.
  • Out of Order: "Coyote Lovely" was supposed to air second in production order, but it instead aired half way through the season. Fortunately, the only notable reference to this episode before it aired was in "Once Bitten", where Krieger made a passing reference to Bilbo's death. Well, that and the nerve gas in the ventilation system.
    "Shut up! It's not diegetic!"
  • Overly Long Gag: Twice in "Live and Let Dine," Archer drops a metal bowl on the floor and Casteau just silently Death Glares at him while it slowly and noisily wobbles to a stop. Each instance lasts about 10 seconds.
    • This seems to be popular for Season 4, as Pam spends a full 20 seconds of "The Honeymooners" humping her sandwich to bug Cyril, accompanied by appropriate sound-effects.
  • Overt Operative: Maybe Archer'd have less of a problem with villains revealing that they know that he is "Sterling Archer of ISIS" if he stopped using it as a pickup line at bars and parties. His El Camino's license plate reads "SPY GUY."
    Malory: Most secret agents don't go around telling every harlot from here to Hanoi that they are secret agents!
    Sterling: ...then why be one?
  • Overused Running Gag: The "Pam is addicted to cocaine" gag was run into the ground within 2 episodes. And just kept coming back again and again and again and again and AGAIN...
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Archer gets really grossed out whenever he's forced to think about his mother's sex life.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Archer has issues with this a couple of times; first as a Broken Pedestal when his mother dates his hero Burt Reynolds, and later when she marries Cadillac dealer Ron. He eventually bonds with both of them.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: The password is always "guest." Both the ISIS security mainframe and Cyril's Swiss bank account both use it. Archer lampshades how stupid this is.
    • Later in the series, the password 934TXS turns up frequently.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Archer displays an unprecedented (you know, for him) level of empathy in the flashback scenes of "Placebo Effect." He starts off his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against cancer drug counterfeiters for typically self-centered reasons, not the least of which was recording his own revenge flick. But flashbacks show him developing an Intergenerational Friendship with an old lady/fellow cancer patient named Ruth along the way. He's nicer to her than he usually is to anyone else, even though he claims that every scene they share he's only running into her by coincidence while pursuing his own interests. Until the very end of the episode, when Archer is shown sitting by Ruth's bedside shortly before her death, for no other reason than to talk with her, as she tells him that watching Regis every morning helps get her through the days of cancer. When he finally catches up to Franny Delaney, the head of the Irish Mob and the mastermind of the cancer treatment counterfeiting, what's his response to Delaney's Breaking Speech? "Did you watch Regis this morning?"
    • Archer is something of an animal lover. He takes an instant liking to Babou the ocelot and he apparently adopts him. In "Un Chien Tangerine," he befriends Kazak, a giant dog. Lana asks him why he didn't become a vet instead of a spy, and he says it was simply a matter of grades.
  • Phone-Trace Race: In the episode where Pam gets kidnapped, ISIS tries to trace the call from the kidnappers. When Archer asks how long it will take, Gillette tells him two minutes. Archer points out that this seems like an unusually long time for a super-spy agency. Gillette chalks it up to budget cuts due to Malory buying an expensive table.
  • Phrase Catcher:
    • "Barry, you ass!"
    • "This is classic [Malory]..."
    • "God damn it, Archer!"
    • An episode specific example in "The Papal Chase":
    Malory: Lana is going.
    Lana: [at Archer] Ha!
    Malory: And Pam? If you keep your eyes open and your big mouth shut, you just might learn something from her.
    Pam: [at Archer] Ha!
    Archer: Why are you going "Ha!"?
    Pam: I don't know. What're we doing?
    Lana: I'll tell you what we should be doing: who does the Pope remind you of?
    Malory: [seeing resemblance] Ha!
    Archer: What?
    Lana: Ha!
    Archer: Shut up! And also, you shut up!
    Woodhouse: Yes sir.
    Pam: HAAAAAAA!
    Archer: Why're you still going "Ha!"?!
    • Whenever Babou the ocelot appears, someone will probably mention his being crepuscular.
  • Ping Pong Naïveté: While Archer is usually a Bunny-Ears Lawyer who's able to deal with spy work competently while being a complete moron in every other area, sometimes the stupidity bleeds into his work for the sake of the Rule of Funny; for example, completely missing a parachute dropzone only to land in the wrong country.
    • Cheryl as well. For example, in the second episode, she has no idea idea what a deductible is, mistaking it for a tax deduction, but in season three, she mentions Archer gave her chlamydia while they were dating, before the series started, and it put her over her insurance deductible and made the rest of her visits to the doctor that year free.
  • Pity Sex:
    • In the first season finale, when Lana takes pity on Pam and sleeps with her.
    • In season two, Archer uses his cancer to guilt Lana into sleeping with him.
  • Plucky Office Girl: Pam. Taken Up to Eleven with Cheryl.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero:
    • Archer, who has a habit of being occasionally bigoted:
    Archer: There's your bomber. [...] Beardsly McTurbanhead.
    • Malory openly hates the Irish, refers to a luggage carrier as George, and frequently makes jibes at Ray:
    Ray: [to Malory] Boom! Guess you had that coming!
    Malory: Oh stick another man's penis in it.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The Irish mobsters in "Placebo Effect" are openly homophobic and racist.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The season five opener is a Completely Undisguised Pilot for the Retool of the show, to the extent that Archer provides the storyline with a trailer (via Imagine Spot) and name (Archer Vice).
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: A source of friction between Archer and Ron, the former being amazed at what Ron hasn't seen and the latter being annoyed at Archer's Reference Overdosed way of speaking.
  • Positive Discrimination: In season one, Lana can be just as selfish as Archer, if not more so. The difference between them is, Archer will suffer while Lana will end up being rewarded. Averted in later seasons, however.
  • Pre-emptive Declaration: "You hear that?" "Hear what?" "That crunching noise!" (headbutt)
  • Product Placement: Yes, yes, Archer has a Dodge Challenger. (Not only was it relentlessly lampshaded, but Dodge wasn't even involved; the entire sequence serves as a Call Back to Frisky Dingo plugging the Scion TC and how little Reed and company got for their efforts.)
    Lana: How much did Dodge kick in?
    Malory: (acidly) Not as much as you'd think.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Pam in season 2 and Krieger in season 5.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Cheryl is a cross between types D and E; Archer has shades of C and E.
  • Punch Clock Villain: In "Honey Pot" and "Movie Star"
  • Punctuated Pounding: When a co-worker mocks Sterling's breast cancer. "I'm trying! To stay positive! Both mentally! And spiritually!"
    • Also in "Heart of Archness part III", with Sterling repeatedly punching a pirate in the face while complaining that he just. Wanted. To mourn. His fiancèe. By becoming. A pirate king!
  • Punny Name:
    • Nikolai "Major" Jakov of the KGB. He wears a lieutenant general's insignia, but everyone calls him "Major."
    • Fister Roboto.
  • Pyro Maniac: Cheryl mentioned watching a building burn down in "Stage Two", was seen lighting a dumpster on fire in "El Secuestro", and took delight in burning the corpses of Torvald Utne and Elke Hubsch in "Killing Utne". In "Sea Tunt, Part I", Cecil revealed that Cheryl's fascination with fire stemmed all the way back to childhood.
    Young Cheryl: Take that, gazebo!
  • Queer People Are Funny
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted. Characters routinely talk over one another, leave gaps, talk with, like, filler words, and stumble over forgotten one liners.
  • Reality Ensues: Happens when it coincides with Rule of Funny - for example, Archer's realized dream of fighting on the roof of a speeding train.
    • In "Sea Tunt Part 1", Cheryl's brother believes that Cheryl's usually played for laughs deranged behavior means she is increasingly becoming a danger to herself and others and should be committed.
    Archer: Oh my God. This is going to be aaAH SHIT! *Gun gets ripped out of his hands by the wind* Aah! The dust! It's like being shot in the eyes by a... glitter gun!
    • In "White Elephant" ISIS is shut down by the FBI and all its employees are charged with treason for operating a freelance privately owned intelligence agency with no oversight or authorization of the U.S. Government. As if to punctuate this, bullet-magnet Brett gets shot... and dies instantly.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: See Bilingual Bonus above.
  • Really Gets Around: The entire cast. Archer has a lot of sex throughout the show. He likely picked up his promiscuity from Malory, given how many candidates for his father there are. Cheryl, Pam, and Cyril are not far behind. Basically Everybody Has Lots of Sex. Even Krieger has opportunities to indulge his many unspeakable fetishes.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Cheryl unknowingly gives Lana one in "Once Bitten".
    Cheryl: Please, if you really cared, you'd resign, but there's no way you ever will, because you're just counting the days until, her face bloated and yellow from liver failure, she calls you to her death bed and, in a croaky whisper, explains that Mr. Archer is totally incompetent and that you, the long-suffering Lana Kane, are the only one qualified to run ISIS and you weep shameful tears because you know this terrible place is the only true love you will ever know.
    Lana: (Beat) Excuse me.
    Pam: Daaaaaamn!
    Cheryl: What? ... Oh my god, was I talking?
  • Refuge in Audacity: How else do you explain the show opening with the implication of Malory and Duchess and going from there?
  • Remember the New Guy: Lucas Troy, Archer's best friend from his ISIS training days who first appears in season four's "The Wind Cries Mary".
  • Required Secondary Powers: Averted; Ray tries to lift a Jeep using his new bionic legs... and does his back in.
    Archer: Are you kidding me? Bionic legs and you lift with your back?
  • Reset Button: Pounded on at the end of season five. With the cocaine gone, ISIS is up and running again with help from the CIA.
  • Retool: Season 5 will see ISIS shut down by the government and the cast selling a (literal) ton of cocaine to pay for their retirements, essentially becoming a cartel in a Breaking Bad-inspired redesign of the show — lampshaded in-universe when Sterling refers to their new career direction as "Archer Vice". In the creator's own words, he "got bored."
    • Completely undone by the end of the season. According to the creator, season five was meant to be a "vacation", which is now over.
  • Retired Badass:
    • Woodhouse won the Victoria Cross and apparently scalped enough Germans to make a blanket.
    • Malory, who was once a decorated international spy and assassin. In present day, she still retains her skill at marksmanship.
    • In "Midnight Ron", Ron Cadillac is revealed to have a past as the leader of an illegal chop shop, who's been secretly skimming off the profits of his Cadillac dealership to pay his imprisoned former comrades' hush money. Also, he once stole a Sherman tank, a feat that even impresses Archer.
  • Retro Universe: The show is set in an indeterminate time period that has aspects of the 60's through the present day. Characters often make references to modern and historic events as if they are current, making it impossible to determine when the show takes place.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder:
    Archer: Do you honestly want to live through the rise of the machines? Which you won't, because no one will?
    Rodney: I...
    Archer: It's rhetorical!
  • Road Trip Episode: Two so far in season four. "Midnight Ron" and "Coyote Lovely".
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Woodhouse had one one for Reggie, his wartime buddy.
    • Archer himself goes on one to take down the makers of counterfeit cancer medication. He even makes sure to say "rampaaage!" a lot.
      Lana: Wait, you're just gonna leave him with a grenade stuck up his ass?
      Archer: Yes Lana, I'm on a rampage!
    • Barry goes on one after Archer sodomizes his girlfriend, and drops him off of a balcony three times. Archer's true love sacrifices herself to save Archer, but Barry survives, since he's a Cyborg. He goes on another one in season 3 which ends with him killing Jakov and running off with Katya. He goes to the international space station to kill Archer but gets trapped there.
  • Robosexual: Dr. Krieger built a sexbot named "Fister Roboto", a "choke-bot", and a virtual girlfriend so realistic that the state of New York is allowing him to legally marry her.
  • Running Gag: At least One Per Episode, with lots of nods back to previous ones and several constantly recurring ones. These do not include Catch Phrases
    • In the first few episodes, Cheryl constantly changes her name. Closed captioning even shows her name as Cheryl/Carol. However, she stays Cheryl by the second season.
    • Malory saying, "Two weeks later, I was in Tunisia, killing a man." Lana later riffs on it by saying, "Two weeks later, I was in Tunisia, killing a different man."
    • Characters describing things Malory or Sterling do as "classic her/him".
    • Cheryl's death fantasies and erotic asphyxiation fetish as well as her tendency to strip.
    • Characters getting caught having sex, with a background character offering a polite, "Hello!"
    • Lana's large stature and giant hands.
    • The office-wide usage of, "This is why we can't have nice things!"
    • "I can't." "Can't, or won't?" "...Either?"
    • Someone is asked something and takes two or three seconds in silence only to answer a short "No."
    • The ISIS carpets being filthy, prompting, "And that's how you get ants!"
    • "Hostile work environment!"
    • Archer being Sarcasm-Blind, agreeing with a sarcastic statement by saying, "Right?" He'll also respond to "And I suppose that makes it better!" with "...doesn't it?"
    • Blaming Scatterbrain Jane for everything.
    • Archer being shot. He states that he's been shot 19 times by season four.
    • Archer flubbing his Bond One-Liner. "...dammit, I had something for this!" Sometimes another character will supply the quip, to his consternation.
      • And on the rare occasion he does make a successful zinger he elatedly announces, "Nailed it!"
    • Mocking Barry for his bad leg, pre-transformation.
    • Cell phones ringing during sensitive top secret missions, complete with loud obnoxious ring tones (a callback to Frisky Dingo).
    • "... or whom?"
    • Brett getting hit with every stray or ricocheting gunshot.
    • "Also, yes."
    • Barry having a conversation with himself, whom he calls Other Barry.
    • The password for any computer security system being 'Guest'.
    • Certain agents temporarily going deaf from guns being fired off near them or being close to an an explosion. Lana mentions going to an ear specialist in one episode and Archer develops tinnitus. Also, Archer repeatedly saying 'mahp' whenever he is rendered temporarily deaf.
    • Archer's overly-elaborate voicemail pranks in Season Three. In one episode he has to state the time and date before anyone will believe that it's not a recording. By season four, he's switched to blasting an air horn into the phone, then finally turning off his voicemail and not answering.
      • Recent episodes have taken to explaining how Archer pulls off his elaborate voicemail pranks:
      Krieger: OK, so, he forwards his phone here, that's easy; then he taps his phone line into the intercom—they're both low voltage, no big deal. But that's patched into the actual house wiring, obviously 110 AC, which means he must have wired a transformer in the circuit somewhere. But he's got all these fake wires in here that don't connect to any— (He's cut off by Malory bursting into tears)
    • Whenever Lana winds up in her lingerie, someone points out that they are Fiacci knockoffs.
    • A dramatic reveal occurs, causing everyone to wonder how the hell a character learned that information, at which point we get a cut to Dr. Krieger.
    • Someone comments on something disgusting, with Krieger commenting, "Me too!" in the background.
    • Archer wearing his night-vision goggles, when the lights suddenly turn on. Lampshaded in one episode when he exclaims, "Why do I keep DOING THAT?!"
    • Archer blowing the cover of other ISIS agents in "Diversity Hire" through a few drunken phone calls... and one just asking if he was "going to that lame ISIS picnic".
    • Phones (cell and landlines) are destroyed with alarming frequency.
    • Archer trying to shoot something secure and/or bulletproof, only for a stray bullet to maim someone.
    • "Yeah, so it's gonna sound like I'm hanging up, buuut..." [hangs up]
    • In Season 4's "Viscous Coupling", the "Fisherman's Wife" and its various spin-offs seem inordinately popular among Isis staff.
    • "I can't hear you over the sound of me [doing something]!"
    • Characters narrating their statements. "_______, he said ______ingly."
    • Cheryl, and later other characters, gasping and realizing something is "just like the gypsy woman said!" in season four.
    • "Promise you won't get mad?"
    • Pam and Cheryl's "Sploosh" to indicate arousal.
    • "HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
    • Someone, usually Mallory, interrupting herself to snap, "Shut up!" as a delayed reaction to something someone said before she started talking, then resuming her original topic.
    • Many characters chugging back alcohol while someone tries to talk to them, and continuing to do so while giving the "give me a minute" index finger.
    • Lana's apparent predilection for interracial porn.
    • Archer concocting outlandish punishments for Woodhouse's perceived insubordination.
    • Archer dropping people's clothes off his balcony in retaliation for... just about anything, really.
    • Ray Gillette becoming paraplegic for the first third of a season and recovering.
    • Archer saying "Jesus, read a book!"
    • Malory saying something immensely homophobic about Ray, followed by Ray irately saying, "Y'know..."
    • In Season 5, repeatedly slapping someone lightly to shut them up, then slapping them one more time when they yell "Stop".
    • Pam saying "Inappropriate" after she tells a joke and people react negatively to it.
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: Rip Riley and Archer are kidnapped by a group of pirates in the season three premiere.
  • Sadist Show: Just about everyone in this show is a sociopath. Even poor buttmonkey Woodhouse once dabbled in cannibalism and was the one who actually shot William S. Burroughs's wife in the head as part of a bet for drugs Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • Sarcasm Failure: Most attempts at smooth one-liners are either aborted or result in spluttering something lamer than desired. Even when Sterling does manage a witty quip on time, he undermines the coolness by congratulating himself for it.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Lana is an angry sassy black woman.
  • Savage Setpiece: When Pam gets kidnapped in Cheryl's place, we find out she paid for college as an underground bareknuckle boxer. By the end of the episode, even Lana doesn't want to fight her.
  • Say My Name: Archer to Barry after the latter kills Katya
  • The Scapegoat: Archer has become this since the start of Season 5 where everything seems to be blamed on him from his mother committing treason to Pam buying amphetamines with counterfeit money from the Yakuza.
    • Averted as of “Smugglers’ Blues" where it really is his fault.
      • Then played straight again in “The Rules of Extraction” as the only reason they lost the coke they found in Columbia was because Ray didn’t realize that it wasn’t a good idea to follow the drug dealer’s flight plan.
  • Schadenfreude: Archer gets a lot of joy out of tormenting Woodhouse. Even when he's not around he'll crack up if he thinks he's in trouble. An example being at the end of "Honeypot" he begins laughing hysterically because he remembered Woodhouse is tied up someplace "scared and alone and probably dehydrated."
  • Secretly Wealthy: Turns out that Cheryl is worth almost $500 million now that her parents are dead. She still won't pay back Cyril the $3,200 she owes him because she physically burned the money, so she "doesn't have it anymore."
  • Sensual Slavs: Archer's ex-KGB girlfriend. She survives for all of two episodes, but is later brought back as a cyborg.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    • Malory: "Well then you're as dumb as you are stupid!"
    • Archer: "Does this look as bad as it looks?"
  • Shared Family Quirks: In the season five finale, Archer tries to get Lana's baby's attention while it's breastfeeding. The baby holds up it's finger in a "wait a moment" gesture—exactly the same way Archer does.
  • Share Phrase: "What the shit?" usually said by Archer and Lana.
  • Shout-Out: So many, they have their own page.
  • Shown Their Work: Among other things, the show's animated depictions of various firearms are quite accurate, as well as the various cars depicted.
  • Ship Sinking: Lana/Cyril are deepsixed in the last two episodes of season one, then get back together in season four... only to have things strained again by the Season Finale due to Lana's pregnancy by someone other than Cyril. However, he hasn't learned yet that she went to a clinic and used a sperm donor for it, rather than actually cheating on him.
  • Single-Target Sexuality:
    • Woodhouse seems to have this for Reggie Thistleton. In "Honey Pot," Charles and Rudy make a remark about Woodhouse not being gay, and he corrects them not by saying he is gay but by mentioning Reggie Thistleton. He elaborates on his relationship with Reggie in "Double Deuce," including his death on the battlefield. The only other indication of any kind of love/sex life at all is in that same episode when he's in bed with two women on a drug running ship...and he's openly pining for Reggie. He then delivers Archer and becomes his butler-for-life.
    • Another example comes up in Season 4, with Lucas Troy, who has sex with women constantly but falls in love with Archer, to the point that he kills fellow agents to sell uranium on the black market so they can establish a non-spy life together.
    "It's more like, a singular same-sex attraction."
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss:
    • The only thing Lana and Archer still have in common is sexual tension. Otherwise, they are constantly at each others' throats.
    • Barry and Katya
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: One of the main reasons for why the show uses Cold War-centric villains (the Cubans, Russia, the Red Army Faction, and the IRA) is due to Adam Reed's notion that Islamic Terrorism would be too dark a subject to deal with in a comedy, while the KGB and their ilk would hearken the audience back to a simpler time where you had two sides engaging in battle with full knowledge that neither side would go all out, out of fear of wiping out the entire world.
  • Smash Cut: A common trope is for one character to say something, only for the scene to change and the next line to provide an answer, finish the sentence (either normally or surreally), provide ironic contrast or use similar words in a drastically different context.
  • Smoke Out: Parodied in "Space Race" — Krieger escapes from an awkward situation by suddenly yelling "SMOKEBOMB!" and running away while everyone's stunned into silence.
    • He does it again in "Un Chien Tangerine".
  • Smurfing: In a parody of the former Turkmen president's real life renaming of various things after members of his own family, the Turkmen words for 'bread', 'Friday', 'snake' and various other things are all "gerpgork", after the leader's dog.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Everyone, pretty much all the time.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Frisky Dingo.
  • Spit Take: Gleefully invoked by Lana in "Drift Problem".
  • Spy Fiction: Apple-Tini flavored.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Ray in "Skytanic," when Archer manages to speed up the timer on the bomb. When asked what to do, he replies "I don't know, throw it off the blimp?"
  • Stealth Insult: Woodhouse to Archer, possibly:
    Archer: How could she pick Lana over me?
    Woodhouse: The mind fairly boggles.
    Archer: Was that sarcasm?
    Woodhouse: No, sir.
    Archer: Good, because your opinion matters. And in case you aren't clear on the concept, that was sarcasm.
    Woodhouse: Well played!
    Archer: Thank you. (long pause) Thank you.
  • Steel Ear Drums: Averting this trope is a Running Gag.
  • Sting: Running Gag in "Skorpio" (wah wah!)
  • Stress Vomit: Sterling Archer will throw up if he pictures someone sleeping with his mother.
  • Stuck on a Ski Lift: In the episode "Swiss Miss" Ray gets stuck on a ski lift when he's supposed to be protecting the daughter of a wealthy German dignitary.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: In "Coyote Lovely" while looking for the station wagon (a 1973 Chevy Bel Air) via satalite, the only information Malory can seemingly give to Bilbo is that it's a station wagon and is in Texas. Bilbo then pulls up images of random wagons in Texas, and snarkily asks if each is the right car.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • "I don't have [a hybrid pig-boy] ...anymore."
    • "With the old toilets, you could flush a Dachshund puppy. I mean, not that you would, but..."
    • "I'm not a... serial killer."

    T-Z 
  • Tag-Along Actor: One shadows Lana who turns out to be a Russian sleeper agent.
  • Tap on the Head: Averted in "White Nights". Archer knocks Ray out with a punch, and then comments that he should see a neurologist, because getting knocked unconscious is really unhealthly. The next scene, Ray tells ISIS that he got knocked out, and Lana tells him he should see a neurologist. He already has an appointment.
  • Take That: "Karate? The Dane Cook of martial arts? No."
  • Techno Babble: Lampshaded:
    Krieger: His mind-brain is permanently rejecting his real identity!
    Cyril: Mind-brain?
    Krieger: That's a thing, shut up.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Archer starts leaving prank messages on his phone using his voicemail, making people think he's actually talking to them with elaborate messages before revealing its just a recording. This eventually backfires on him in Season Four, when he actually does answer his phone while bleeding to death and being patched up by a drunk doctor without anesthesia. Mallory just passes it off as Archer reaching a new high in his voicemail pranks.
    • This nearly bit him in Season 3, until he pointed out that his voicemail couldn't call her.
  • Tempting Fate: Both invoked and predicted in "Pipeline Fever":
    Archer: How could this get any— [alligator growls] LEMMIE FINISH! ...worse. There, see? You ruined it.
  • Theme Pairing: invokedin-universe; Bionic Barry and Bionic Katya
  • They Called Me Mad!: Captain Murphy in "Sea Tunt, Part II".
  • The Voiceless: For a few episodes. Krieger, though he appears starting in the pilot episode, has no lines until episode 4, 'Killing Utne'.
  • A Threesome Is Hot:
    • No, not really considering it involved Pam, Malory, and a German Chubby Chaser.
    • Same with the two-man three-way in "Skorpio". At one point, Archer apparently burst into tears.
    Archer: Wooden spoons are a huge emotional trigger for me, Lana!
  • Throwing Off the Disability: A couple of times;
    • Amputee Barry is rebuilt as a KGB cyborg.
    • Wheelchair-bound Gillette was faking the whole thing. The first time around. He second time sticks for a while longer, but Krieger eventually gives him bionic legs.
  • Tonight Someone Dies: Heavily used in the promotion of the fifth season premiere. It's Brett.
  • Tontine: The plot of "Double Deuce" revolves around this, as Woodhouse is one of the last three surviving members of one and other members die mysteriously As it turns out, the whole thing was a Red Herring, as the supposed bad guy didn't care about it and the "suspicious" deaths were mundane, and the papers were using If It Bleeds, It Leads. Pam starts a tontine at the office as well, since active agents can get killed in the line of duty and the control room "Is one big asbestos lawsuit waiting to happen".
  • Too Dumb to Live: Pam in "Sea Tunt, Part I"; despite being told the vegan seafood buffet contains soy, Pam simply mentions she's highly allergic to soy products and continues gorging on it until she slips into anaphylactic shock and nearly chokes to death.
    • Also, on a covert mission, Cyril wears a neon-orange parka because he's worried about being accidentally shot. As Lana puts it - "What about intentionally being shot at!?"
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Cheryl, who is turned on by the thought of being murdered and becomes a hardcore masochist in later seasons. When people slap or emotionally abuse her, she keeps asking for more.
    Archer: Thanks a lot, blabber-mouth!
    Cheryl: She beat it out of me! *Sexy growl*
    • This showed up earliest in Season 2, particularly this exchange after Lana's just finished beating her up for mentioning Cyril's "character flaw".
    Pam: Archer's got that bangin' pad.
    Lana: Oooh, he'll hate that! I wanna come!
    Cheryl: Ohhh, I think I just did.
  • Too Much Information:
    Lana: Just what do we know about this Conway?
    Archer: Only that he's not circumcised.
    Lana: OK...glossing over how exactly you know that...
    Archer: We touched penises.
    Lana: No! Glossing!
  • Traintop Battle: Thoroughly deconstructed in "The Limited"; Archer's always wanted to do it but never realised the many, many impracticalities.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: It's subtle, but Pam loves her some bear claws.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Seriously, what did the KGB expect when they turned Barry into a cyborg?
  • Trouser Space: Archer keeps an extra gun there.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: An in-universe example. A painting the presidential palace of San Marcos costs forty million dollars. It's just a solid white canvas. Evidently there actually is an incredibly elaborate painting underneath the layers and layers of white. When asked what the point of a solid white painting the president goes off on a tangent that doesn't seem to really explain the point, though he's interrupted before he can finish.
  • Truth in Television:
    • In the WW1 flashback in "Double Deuce", Reggie got shot by a German sniper after Woodhouse wasted three matches lighting his cigarette in night time No Man's Land. Exactly such a thing (lighting three matches or cigarettes in a row) was forbidden in the trenches, because it gave enemy snipers enough time to notice, aim and fire at the light.
    • The FBI agents raiding ISIS in "White Elephant" forget to identify themselves before opening fire and wear vests with FBI written on the back, and are immediately chewed out by their superiors. FBI and police failing to identify themselves, as well as wearing vests and jackets that do not have their department name on the front, are real problems with no-knock raids.
  • Tuckerization: Krieger is named after his body model, Dr. Ben Brieger.
  • Tuxedo and Martini: Routinely parodied.
  • Twisted Echo Cut: Used frequently. You might even call Archer "Twisted Echo Cut: The TV Series."
  • Twofer Token Minority: Conway Stern is hired because, as a black Jew, "He's a diversity double whammy!" He's not really Jewish, and Archer even questions whether he's black.
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue: If a scene that ends with people talking is followed by a scene that opens with people talking, this is going to be used.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Averted. Despite Archer's mother being the head of ISIS, she still treats him like her spoiled asshat of a son and a sometimes-incompetent field agent.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Burt Reynolds and Archer have just teamed up to take down a Cuban hit-squad, and we cut to... them riding the elevator from Archer's penthouse to the garage.
    Burt: *Beat*...you're kidding me.
    Archer: I know. Drives me nuts. It's like, the world's slowest elevator.
  • Unlucky Extra: Brett, the unfortunate Isis employee that has been shot eight times over the course of the series, mostly by ricocheting friendly fire. He's also been beaten half to death three or four times. This is frequently lampshaded and all of the characters (except for Brett himself) either don't care or find it hilarious.
  • The Unreveal: Any attempt to get conclusive evidence of the identity of Archer's father.
    • Whatever was inside Kenny Loggins' suitcase, quite possibly a human soul.
    • What Luke Troy did to Archer sexually when the latter was passed out, although the looks on Lana's, Cyril's and Archer's faces pretty much imply it was profoundly disturbing.
  • Unstoppable Rage: "REGGIEEEEEEEEEEE!!!"
    • "Raaampaaaaaage!"
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Archer, full-stop. Nearly all of the main cast also fits to some extent. There are very few genuinely likable characters in the show, and even the relatively nice characters do some pretty despicable things.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Pam tells Cheryl (in "The Wind Cries Mary") to "Shut your dick-holster".
  • Upper-Class Twit: Both Archers take this trope into Crosses the Line Twice territory. For example, Sterling considers it offensive when people don't treat Woodhouse with seething contempt, and Malory dropped the ISIS cleaning ladies down an elevator shaft when they tried to unionize.
    • The whole cast (except for Lana and Krieger) pretend to be this to fool the police when covering up the Prime Minister's murder in "Lo Scandalo".
  • Vandalism Backfire: Archer finds it hilarious when Malory knocks a phone out of his hands to shatter on the concrete... because it was Woodhouse's phone.
  • Vanity License Plate: Archer gets a set for his El Camino that say SPY GUY.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses:
    • The tattoo on Pam's back is an excerpt from Lord Byron's "The Destruction of Sennacherib".
    • There's also Archer's reference to Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" and his utter shock that no one gets it.
    • It's a minor running gag that Archer will reference obscure history or books and be surprised that nobody gets what he's refferencing.
  • Villains Never Lie: Yakuza boss Moto didn't steal Archer's car in "Drift Problem" because they only drive Japanese imports, but Archer calls him on it. Moto smirks and points out that he has no reason to lie.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: While the entire cast may count, Pam and Cheryl are shown together near constantly at work and willingly spend more time together outside of the office than any other characters, but their dialog typically involves flat out insults and they don't seem to actually like each other. Pam once thought she killed Cheryl and was entirely apathetic about it.
  • Undercover When Alone: In "Diversity Hire", ISIS has been infiltrated by an enemy agent. At one point when he believes himself to be alone, he refers to himself by the name he gave ISIS. His last line in the episode was, in fact, him saying that Conway Stern was not his real name.
  • We Have Ways of Making You Talk: During Archer's Roaring Rampage of Revenge in "Placebo Effect", he threatens to slide a knife up a pharmacist's urethra unless he gives him answers. Needless to say, it works.
  • We Named the Monkey Jack: Type 2 - Sterling's codename, "Duchess", comes from Malory's beloved dog of the same name. Malory loved the dog so much she has a naked picture of herself in bed with the dog in the style of the famous John Lennon/Yoko Ono photograph.
  • We Can Rebuild Him:
    • Barry.
    • Katya.
    • Ray.
    • Conway Stern (at least his hand).
  • Weaponized Car:
    • Archer gets one for his birthday that Q-branch would be proud of.
    • His previous car, also a 1970 Challenger, was revealed to have an Ejection Seat in its first appearance.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: In the season 3 finale Cyril uses the engines on the groups' getaway rocket to destroy Barry's ship, leaving him trapped on the station.
  • Weapon of Choice: Many of the ISIS team have a fitting one.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out: Subverted in 'Coyote Lovely' when Archer gets shot by border patrol. He is taken to an unlicensed veterinarian who removes the bullets from his back - only to admit he did more harm than good and they need to get Archer to a real doctor ASAP.
  • Wham Episode: When Barry returns in "Crossing Over" to kill Sterling's (potential) father, Major Jakov. And succeeds, leaving Sterling devastated.
    • "Double Trouble": Barry gets turned into a cyborg and becomes Dragon-in-Chief to Jakov.
    • "Viscous Coupling": Barry returns from outer space, and Katya installs herself as KGB chairwoman.
    • "Sea Tunt, Part II", the Season 4 finale: Lana is pregnant.
    • "White Elephant": Brett (the bullet sponge guy) is dead, ISIS's assets are seized by the FBI, and the main characters abandon their spy work to form a cartel and sell a ton of cocaine.
  • Wham Line:
    Lana: Sterling Archer, I'd like you to meet your daughter, Abbiejean.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We last see of German assassin Manfred and Uta in "Dial M for Mother" driving away after implanting a chip into Archer's brain.
    • Trinette and the wee baby Seamus haven't been seen since "Stage Two".
    • Pam's dolphin puppet appears in the opening of every episode of the show but hasn't been seen in forever.
  • What the Hell, Dad?: Archer to his infant son!
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Pam delivers one to the entire cast at the end of "El Secuestro" for showing a sociopathic lack of concern for her well-being when she gets kidnapped.
    • "Drift Problem" is a definite one for Malory. Sterling leaves his beloved Spy Car birthday present unlocked, so she steals it to teach him a lesson in responsibility. Said lesson doesn't involve giving it back. She sold it to Mr Ford.
    • Often during a high-stress mission, other members of the team will frequently give one to Archer. Barry does in "White Nights", Lana in "El Contador", and Cyril in "Drift Problem", all because of Archer's ridiculously selfish behavior.
    • Done by Rodney (the new ISIS armourer) in "Legs" when Archer slaps Cheryl to stop her rambling about Skynet and the plot of The Terminator after he fired an RPG in the Armoury waiting room.
    Whoa whoa whoa. Not cool man, that is not at all cool.
  • Whatthe Hell Is That Accent: Lampshaded in Mole Hunt:
    Archer: Would you pick an accent and stick with it?
  • When Harry Met Svetlana: Archer's fiancee, one* W of the few non-evil Russians on the show.
  • Where The Black Men At: Malory writing her screenplay about a middle-aged spy mistress who seduces a black man, and her advances on Conway in "Diversity Hire."
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Archer's greatest fear is being killed and eaten by an alligator. To that effect, he has looked up and memorized every recorded fatal gator attack in the US. Guess what he meets on a mission in the Louisiana swamps?
    • He also goes on to say that the only reason he hasn't memorized every recorded fatal gator attack in China (the only other place that has them) is he can't get the records concerning that. Not that it's stopped him from still memorizing the physiology of both types (commenting that the Chinese varients' armored underside compensates for their smaller size). One can imagine he's done similar research regarding crocodiles (his second greatest fear).
Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Said word-for-word at both ISIS and ODIN on a regular basis.
  • Woman in White: Katya Kasanova.
  • Women Are Wiser: Mostly averted. Of the few relatively sane characters (Cyril, Gilette and Lana) Lana is the most Hot-Blooded. Played straight when it's just her and Archer, though.
  • World of Ham
  • World of Snark
  • Worst Aid: Occasional.
    • "Once Bitten" has Archer countering a snake bite by drinking heavily, which Cyril strongly warns against.
    • In "Sea Tunt, Part I", Pam suffers an allergic reaction and goes into anaphylactic shock; Archer tries to give an emergency tracheotomy with a switchblade "sterilized" in a partially drank glass of whiskey and a used silly straw. He's quickly shot down.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Malory is so insistent in pairing her Mary Sue self-insertion with a black male interest in the reworked script for Disavowed that it draws the inevitable comparison to the 1975 movie Mandingo. Her Hollywood contact finally accepts it under the change of making it a romantic comedy named Mandingo 2: The Enslavening.
  • X Called; They Want Their Y Back: Archer is incredulous at Rip's old-fashioned lifestyle.
    Rip: This had better not be a ruse.
    Archer: A ruse? Brrrring, brrrring! "Hello?" "Hi, it's the 1930's. Can we have our words and clothes and shitty airplanes back? Call you back, 1930's! And hey, watch out for that Adolf Hitler. He's a bad egg!
  • X Meets Y: James Bond meets Arrested Development
  • Yakuza: "Drift Problem" and "Archer Vice: A Debt of Honor".
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Happens to Archer at the end of "Stage Two" when he's told that his breast cancer is cured, only for his idiot doctor to call back to tell him that it has actually spread to his lymph nodes. This happens back and forth four times.
  • You Do NOT Want To Know: In "Lo Scandalo", when an officer arrives, only for Krieger to chop up and hide the corpse and evidence quickly:
    Malory: Krieger, wait. About the bathroom, the body, how did you—?
    [He puts his fingers on her lips]
    Krieger: [shushes her] Don't wanna know. But you do probably wanna go wash your lips now.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: In "Heart of Archness" Archer is captured by pirates and kills their captain. By their laws, this makes him the new captain.
  • You Look Familiar: Guest star Jeffrey Tambor voiced Torvald Utne and then went on to have a recurring role as Len Trexler.
  • You No Take Candle: Bucky the pirate talks like this.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me:
    • Spelvin taunts Cyril that he doesn't have it in him to shoot someone.
    • Franny Delaney tells Archer he wouldn't kill an unarmed, crippled man. He's wrong.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: When Archer "trains" Cyril to be an agent and surprises him with the unexpected ice cube attack, his reflex is to use the call girl as a human shield to block it. Cyril is mortified when Archer proudly cheers on this untrained reaction.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Lana gets this a lot; she dumped Archer for serial adultery in order to hook up with Cyril, whom she deemed to be a safe, loyal boyfriend who would not stray. Which he does, after she catches him with ODIN's hot, French HR manager Framboise, and finds out that he also had sex with Cheryl. And Scatterbrain Jane. And possibly Malory. And Trinette, whose son Seamus is actually his.
      • Lana also cheated on Cyril at least once, at about the same time Cyril cheated on her, though technically it was more of a "do or die" situation.
    • Katya cheats on Archer with Barry on their wedding day right in front of him.
  • Zero-G Spot: Archer and Pam in "Space Race Part 1".

...dangerzone.
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