Western Animation: Archer

Do you want ants? Because that's how you get ants.

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.) Comedy Central also airs it on Monday nights.

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, whereas someone who found either show repetitive or too low-key probably won't.

Come Season 5, the show took a radical departure from its usual approach to prevent Seasonal Rot.Explanation (spoilers!)  From that point on, the season was dubbed Archer Vice. The Vice story finished in the season finale, with ISIS (no longer using that name because of the real-life terrorist group) heading into Season 6 with a new direction: being subcontracted by the CIA. The show has also been renewed for a following, seventh season.

This series has a character sheet, a Shout-Out page, a page listing tropes found on the characters' Twitter feeds, a page of episode summaries, and even a page examining the show's time period. 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).


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  • Abusive Parents: Malory Archer.
  • Accidental Innuendo: invoked Generally called out by Archer with "Phrasing!"
    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.
    Archer: Hey! Phrasing!
  • 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 in the first four episodes where she would change her name every episode until the writers presumably got tired of it. For a while, 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".
    • "Stage Two" reveals Archer had a one-night stand with a nurse name Rita, whom he couldn't stop calling Peggy.
    • In "Sitting":
    Cyril: When we got shut down, that guy...
    Ray: Kevin! ...Kyle? Keith- Kenny! Was it Kiran?
    Archer: Rodney?!
    Ray: Rodney! Why was I thinking Kevin?
  • 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?
    • And again when Cheryl delivers a devastating "Reason You Suck" Speech to Lana in the same episode.
  • Action Girl:
    • Lana is a female field agent for an espionage organization.
    • 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.
      • It DOES help that the one time she actually beat up Archer, she was sky high on cocaine.
    • 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:
    • Burt Reynolds playing an exaggerated Badass version of himself played completely for laughs.
    • Kenny Loggins plays an arrogant Jerkass version of himself, in the middle of re-branding, and refers to himself as "K-Log".
    • TV's Michael Gray in season 6.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal:
    • In the pilot, Crenshaw/Kremenski's speech in the training exercise refers to Archer as being "known from Berlin to Bangkok as the world's most dangerous spy."
    • In "Tragical History", Malory has to remind Archer that "most secret agents don't go around telling every harlot from here to Hanoi that they are secret agents!"
  • Adventures in Comaland: Archer gets a snakebite in "Once Bitten" and his Spirit Advisor James Mason takes him through traumatic memories to a (possibe) 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 Villain of the Week of "El Contador".
  • Affectionate Parody: "Live and Let Dine" contains Anthony Bourdain As Himself in a TV reality show called "Bastard Chef".
    • More as Gordon Ramsay than as himself, really. Though he plans to use his payoff from the KGB to fund a new show that's a lot more Himself.
  • AI Is A Crap Shoot: Subverted:
    Krieger: Because the worm has transformed the mainframe into a sentient being.
    Malory: ...What?
    Krieger: I'm kidding.
  • 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: Pam Poovey, Katya Kazanova, Brett Bunson, and Rip Riley.
  • All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles: When the FBI arrests Krieger in "White Elephant", the manga his artificial girlfriend is reading seems to feature these on the cover. And then there's Krieger's movie nights featuring such classics as Fisherman's Wife and Fisherman's Wife II: The Retentacling. It also apparently has a manga series that seems to be popular with other members of the ISIS staff.
  • 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.
    • His last line in "Three to Tango" reveals that he lied and his name really is Conway Stern.
  • 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 Men Are Perverts: Cyril is a sex addict, Ray is a gay dude into fetish night, Archer is a manwhore, and Krieger...is into something much darker.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Lana is a Dominatrix into porn; Cheryl is a masochist who gets off on pain, asphyxiation, and death; Malory 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.
  • Alternate History: The Soviet Union still exists.
  • Always Wanted To Say That
    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 cocaine Pam. She is stated to be beautiful, tall, and is visibly fit and even muscular to some extent.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Archer's eccentric tendencies, such as memorizing incredibly obscure information about seemingly random subjects, imply high functioning autism. It's never stated for certain, though Lana does discuss it in "Coyote Lovely."
  • Ambiguous Syntax:
    • In "Legs", Archer is terrified of Krieger giving Ray bionic legs calling the operation "building a gay Terminator". Cyril is confused by what Archer meant.
    Cyril: Does he mean a terminator of gays? I mean I know Krieger is weird, but he isn't homophobic. So he must mean...but that can't be right either, aren't Terminators asexual?
    • Lampshaded by Archer in "Live and Let Dine":
      Lance Casteau: Food!? We're not making food, people! We're creating cuisine! "Food" is what a dog eats or a tourist!
      Archer: Wait, a dog ate a tourist? [Lance throws a vegetable at him] WHAT? That was ambiguously worded!
    • In the same episode:
      Archer: "Child-Murderer" shouldn't be hyphenated. That makes it seem like he's a murderer who is also a child.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: 1960s decor, 1970s cars, and 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. When Woodhouse's flashbacks show him serving in the war, it's explicitly World War I while Mallory and Ron both served in World War II, yet are nowhere near as old as they would be in the present day. 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 early-World War II-era Morocco. All of this makes the time period ambiguous.
    Malory: What year do you think this is?
    Archer: I, uh—yeah, exactly. Good question.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Woodhouse and his commanding officer during World War 1, Reggie are hinted to be rather fond of each other. As with all things in the series, it's Played for Laughs.
  • Amnesiac Resonance: In "Fugue and Riffs", Archer has amnesia, and thinks his name is Bob and runs a burger shop. He's able to kill four KGB hitmen while unarmed, then, after being found by ISIS at a spa, he remembers what a Tec-9 is (and wonders how he knew that), and has several flashes of his memories.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Conway Stern loses his left hand in "Diversity Hire" (although it has gotten a robotic replacement as of "Legs") and his right hand in "Three to Tango".
    • Ray's hand is bitten off by a venus flytrap-like plant in "Pocket Listing".
  • Amusing Injuries: Variously deconstructed and reconstructed; though 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 Archer dropping him off of tall buildings, intentionally or not, 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 shoots 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!
    • Archer updates the "getting shot" total to twenty-six in Season 5's "A Debt of Honor".
  • 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.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: Lana was part of one that threw buckets of red paint on anyone wearing fur while screaming "fur is murder". When she threatened to do this to Mallory, she pulled a gun and dare Lana to do it, offering her a job when she didn't back down.
  • Answer Cut: Played with on a regular basis: often, a character will ask a question, whereupon there will be a cut to another character in an entirely different situation saying something that appears to answer the first character's question.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Kremenski in the pilot seems to be generally alright when not working for the KGB. He thinks everyone should be nicer to Pam and even he is shocked by how messed up Archer is.
    • Barry Dylan after becoming a cyborg. Considering the way Archer (among others) treated him, it's hard to blame him for going a bit nuts.
    • Cecil Tunt and Captain Murphy in "Sea Tunt". The latter threatens to bomb the East Coast, but it's all a bluff, and he doesn't even pretend to be a bad guy anymore after this is revealed. The former plans to get Cheryl declared insane so he can get at her half of the inheritance, but since Cheryl is pretty clearly insane he comes across more as an Only Sane Man than anything.
    • Lenn Traxler, who is only a villain by virtue of being head of a rival agency. In fact, he could be considered an outright Hero Antagonist, as he's generally nicer and more competent than most ISIS employees.
  • Anything That Moves: Krieger, who at one point even exclaims he's glad to have an erection that doesn't involve 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 and Pam have been promoted to occasional field agents to allow involvement outside the B-Plots.
  • Artificial Gravity: Aboard the space station Horizon.
  • Artistic License – Cars:
    • Though 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 receives for his birthday, which has very BMW-style gauges.
    • Though 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 Cars (sort of).
    • 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.
    • From "The Kanes": Algae can't be turned into a biofuel, at least without expending large amounts of another fuel source in the conversion process. Which means it's probably a good thing the CIA is suppressing Dr. Kane's research and paying him a massive amount to remain quiet.
    • Though he could be oversimplifying for Archer and Lana, as engineering unicellular organism to produce fuel as a metabolic endpoint is something being researched in real life.
  • 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:
    • Frequently. Sterling himself can count as a non-lethal version of this as well—the man gets shot and stabbed and beaten and tortured and cancer and generally abused a lot, but he's such a Jerkass you just don't feel bad for it. Usually, he has it coming.
    • Barry Dillon. Now referred to as 'Bionic Barry' after a particularly grievous accident.
    • Franny Delaney and the rest of the Irish Mob members killed by Archer during the episode "Placebo Effect."
  • 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 ever 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.
    • Archer shows that he really does love Lana in Season 6.
  • Back for the Dead: Jakov in "Crossing Over".
  • 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.
  • Badass on Paper: If you look at ISIS' track record in general - and Archer's accomplishments specifically - on paper, they seem quite competent, despite screwing up almost every mission in some way.
    • "Mole Hunt": Archer uncovers and eliminates a KGB mole. He found the mole by accident, then was taken prisoner. He was only saved by Lana investigating a break-in, then caused his mother to be taken hostage and only saved her and killed the mole by disgusting him by getting an erection at the thought of Malory's death.
    • "Diversity Hire": Archer and Lana recover blueprints to a submarine drive and uncover and cripple a double agent. Archer is almost killed by a Cuban hit squad, rescued and then literally stabbed in the back by the double agent. Lana saves him and the plans at the last minute by firing a spear into the briefcase, ripping off the double agent's hand.
    • "Honeypot": Archer eliminates a threat from an enemy spy. He fails miserably at seducing the target and is made almost immediately, is wounded by the target, is attacked by a hit squad and is only saved after bonding with the target, who destroys the tape and gives up Malory's South Beach condo because he bonded with Archer and must go into hiding.
    • "Skorpio": Archer and Lana kill an arms dealer and destroy his latest shipment. They're both made immediately and forced into a three-way with their target, are almost killed in a firefight and nearly die when Archer blows up the shipment and Skorpio's yacht.
    • "Skytanic": Archer and Lana stop a bomb threat. The bomb threat they responded to was a hoax by Malory. The bomb they find was a coincidence, the bomber gets away due to Archer confusing helium with hydrogen, Archer fumbles the disarming procedure and causes the timer to speed up, and Lana and Cyril wind up pushing the bomb overboard, detonating over Wales.
    • "Job Offer": Embarrassed a rival agency that tried to steal their two best agents. Malory sends out a burn notice on Sterling while drunk on absinthe, causing him to be targeted by ODIN and is only saved when Lana black flags the burn notice as a False Flag Operation against ISIS.
    • "Pipeline Fever": Stops an eco-terrorist from destroying a pipeline. Archer destroys their sole mode of transport and most of their equipment. The bomber reveals he went to university with Lana and decided not to destroy the pipeline.
    • "Jeu Monégasque": Stops a blackmailer and recover stolen bearer bonds. Malory stole the ISIS 401k accounts to use as payment, which Archer loses in baccarat, forcing them to steal it back and cause the thief to crash into the blackmailer's helicopter by accident, killing both.
    • "The Limited": Transports a terrorist into RCMP custody and captures his cohorts. Cyril lets the terrorist escape, Archer sets off a grenade when confronted by real Mounties, just barely recaptures the terrorist and gets banned for life from entering Canada.
    • "The Honeymooners": Stops a North Korean uranium deal. Archer and Lana get captured and only escape when Cyril provides a distraction that allows Lana and Archer to kill everyone.
    • "The Papal Chase": Stops an assassination attempt on the Pope. Pam nearly kills the Pope by dropping a mirror on him, the team is almost killed by Camorra gunmen posing as Swiss Guard, who crash chasing them and are revealed to have been a False Flag Operation by a cardinal, who hired ISIS because they would screw up.
    • "The Archer Sanction": Extra-judicially kills a Professional Killer. They caused three Interpol agents to be killed because Archer barely skimmed the mission dossier, then causes an avalanche after the assassin is revealed. They Never Found the Body and just assume him dead.
    • It's because of this that Agent Slater must be convinced to keep them on as a CIA subcontractor in the season six opener and by "Drastic Voyage", Agent Holly is done with their shit, giving them an ultimatum that their current mission will be their final chance, with success being rewarded by $1 million each and failure or refusal being punished with permanent dismantling and individual blacklisting from espionage for life. They fail the mission.
  • Bad Boss: Malory. The list of grievances from her employees is pretty long, but the most egregious 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,"note  only for it to turn out the porter's name actually is George. Subverted, though, as Malory is as surprised as anyone by this.
    • 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?
    • In "Drastic Voyage: Part II" we find out Cheryl has smuggled a pair of very sharp knitting needles onto the sub for no explicable reason other than to trick the audience into thinking they're going to poke out someone's eyes. After several close calls, she just stabs Ray in the leg with them after he's already been crippled.
    • Again the the "Drastic Voyage" arc, Ray is very unhappy about losing a hand and having it replaced with Conway Stern's robot hand thinking he's a freak, everyone assumed he was unhappy that he has a black hand but he's really unhappy that it's a robotic hand, he later apologizes to Lana for the misunderstanding.
  • 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 a 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 Cyril, 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 (because 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 has spent decades having sex with Italian Prime Minister Mascalzone and wounds herself before 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.
      Archer: [about Woodhouse] 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 Malory, before the reveals that Carol/Cheryl is both 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.
    • Trinette takes Archer's wallet, watch and car when he flat out calls her a heroin addict.
  • 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, when 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 Damn Kiss: Between Archer and Ramon in "Archer Vice: A Kiss While Dying".
  • 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.
    • In Season 4's "The Wind Cries Mary," Archer's reaction to Lucas' Death Bed Confession about what he did to Archer while the latter was unconscious 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 their nickname for her meant "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.
    • 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 Malory spits on Mascalzoni and calls him a "fucking fascist".
    • "Mascalzone", by the way, means "scoundrel" or "criminal" in Italian.
    • In "Coyote Lovely", a Mexican criminal mutters something in Spanish under her breath. The translation: "Wait, I had something for this!"
  • 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 Ray, 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.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama:
    • Lana and Archer's on-again off-again relationship. Even when they're apart, Archer always hits on her.
    • Lana also dated Cyril for a while, was the only female staff member to mistrust Conway Stern while the others were attracted to him, she dated a white environmental extremist when she was in college, and is into interracial porn. She seems to have a thing for white guys.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: In "Three to Tango", both Cyril and Lana borrow Ray's indignant "You know..."
  • Bottle Episode: "Lo Scandolo," which takes place entirely in Malory's apartment, and "Vision Quest", which takes place in the office building elevator.
  • 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.
    • Archer, Lana, and Cyril all need it after Lucas Troy confesses to having raped Archer while Archer was unconscious after a party.
  • 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 "Honeypot", there is a lemur in Archer's apartment, presumably owned by one of the prostitutes in schoolgirl outfits Archer had hired, that later bites one of them on the face. Later in the episode, we discover Woodhouse's "fondness" for a boy who died in the war, Reggie Thistleton. Later, in "Job Offer", we see that Woodhouse has kept the lemur, and named it "Reggie".
    • 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 (it's really Cyril).
    • Calzado in Season Three episode "El Contador" makes mention of "hunting the most dangerous game". Archer, being Archer, 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 litre 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 measurement 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.
    • In "Training Day", Archer gives Cyril his underwear gun with the warning that it could go off "for like, no reason." Four seasons later in the second part of "Palace Intrigue", Archer shoots Cyril to prevent El Presidente's wife from revealing they had slept together.
      Archer: Look at that. The gun went off. For, like, no reason.
    • The ending of "Diversity Hire" had Conway Stern reveal that the name he gave the gang was just an alias. Five seasons later in "Three to Tango" it's revealed that his name actually is Conway Stern.
    • In "Skytanic", Lana angrily remarks that "My vulva is as smooth as a veal cutlet!" when Archer implies otherwise. In Season 5's finale, Cheryl is grossed out at being forced to check Lana's dilation progress, but also comments that she is smooth. Lana happily accepts the compliment.
    • In "Skin Game," the episode where Katya reappears as a cyborg, Archer becomes extremely unnerved by the presence of Katya's new removable vagina in his sink. Then in "Reignition Sequence," Archer and Lana are dating, and the rest of the group call Katya to have sex with Archer so that they will break up. He convinces her to leave, however, just as Lana arrives for their dinner date. For a moment, Archer and Lana have a bit of a fight, and when Archer reassures her that he is a changed man...
      Lana: Then why... is there a vagina... in the SINK?!
  • 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 (nor technically any other kind of doctor) manages to perform brain surgery successfully—while high on acid. With a drill. He also, on a shoestring budget, turns 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 is probably the biggest example of this, constantly getting shot by Archer, even before ever appearing onscreen in Season 1. ("God DAMN it, Archer!")
      • In "Stage Two", he is given a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Archer for mocking his breast cancer.
      • 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.
      • "Legs" takes this Up to Eleven: When Archer is trying to break into Krieger's lab by shooting at the bulletproof door, the bullet ricochets 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 hits 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!
      • In Season 5's "Gun Safety Training" promo, a very drunk Archer tosses his gun to some interns, who drop it. Cue Archer saying they should be thankful it didn't go off, at which point (5 seconds after it has come to a stop), it goes off.
      • In "White Elephant", Brett is Killed Off for Real during the FBI's raid on ISIS when he is shot in the forehead trying to talk to Archer.
      Archer: Well, he died doing what he loved. Getting shot.
    • Ray 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.
    • Archer himself is often one-see Amusing Injuries above.
    • Woodhouse also qualifies, due to the fact that Archer is even more of an asshole towards him than he is towards everyone else.
  • 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 "Honeypot."
      • 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, Malory 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. In a Season 3 episode, in a flashback Malory asks Archer what happened to the bike he got for his birthday and walks in with a paddle in hand.
    • Ramon, Charles, and Rudi, 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.
    • In the season 3 episode "Lo Scandolo," Archer questions his mother about her irrational hatred of the Irish (because they were not among the Allies during the Second World War) and he momentarily hesitates when he comes to the conclusion that the Irish were Nazis, only to be told that they were neutral. In the season 6 episode "The Archer Sanction," Archer, who only skimmed the mission dossier, could only recall that their target was from a former Axis power. Turns out, he mistook Ireland as that former Axis power because the target's name was McCarran, and to top it off, McCarran is Scottish-Canadian!
  • The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House: Played for laughs in the episode "El Secuestro," Pam gets kidnapped in place of Cheryl, and the kidnappers, with a voice modulator, contact ISIS to discuss the ransom. Later on, Cyril kidnaps Cheryl in order to get her to repay her debt to him, and stuffs her in a random room at ISIS. He then contacts Mallory from his own office, again with a voice modulator, demanding the rather specific amount of $3,200. Mallory freaks out that the caller is calling from ISIS.
  • 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. Jon Hamm appears at the end of part one as Captain Murphy.
  • 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 because, as he puts it, "Nobody's that gay." Also increasingly becoming an Informed Attribute, however; though 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 to Archer having looked around numerous times immediately before Lana's appearance.
    • In "Reignition Sequence", Archer asks Katya (who only met with him thanks to the gang trying to sabotage Archer and Lana's relationship) to leave him, even though he is still attracted to her, so he can pursue a legitimate relationship with Lana. However, Lana finds signs that Katya was in the apartment and assumes Archer has been cheating on her.
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: Played straight to dispose of a dead hooker, and referenced a lot also. Defied by Malory when she doesn't want to use one of her expensive rugs to remove a body from her apartment.
    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. His character is also the potential father of Jessica Walter's character's son, similar to Tambor's other character on Arrested Development, Oscar Bluth.
    • Malory, voiced by Jessica Walter, is a wealthy, hard-drinking, Jerkass mother with a long sexual past and a codependent son, very similar to her character in Arrested Development.
    • Although differently crazy between series, Judy Greer is 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 similarly to a gay prostitute who is always getting 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 Badass 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 "Yyyyyup!" or "Nooooope!"
      • Also, "Really?" whenever something vaguely racist is said.
      • "ARCHER!'
    • Archer's "Danger zone!" said to Lana.
      • "Lana? Lana?! LANAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA?!"
      • "Phrasing!" to point out In-Universe Accidental Innuendo
      • "Do you not?"
      • "What the shit, [whoever's just pissed him off]?!"
    • Ray has "Dukes!" and "Double dukes!" and "Triple dukes!"
      • "You know..."
    • Pam: "Holy shitsnacks!"
      • "Inapprops." whenever someone 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!"
      • "Jesus!"
    • Malory: "If X does/doesn't happen, I will literally die."
    • Krieger: "Also, yes."
      • "YOU MANIACS!"
    • Brett: "God-DAMNIT Archer!"
  • 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 feed, and Pam's Twitter feed.
  • Character Focus: The first half of Season 5 has a huge focus on Pam, to the point where Cyril, Malory, and Cheryl don't even show up for a few episodes.
  • Characterization Marches On: The characters in the first season, and the pilot episode especially, act pretty differently. Archer is much more pointlessly rude and hyper-sexual to everyone around him, Lana has practically no indoor voice and is constantly pointing guns at people, and Cheryl and Pam act 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 every time they meet 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 pride's sake.
    • In "Pocket Listing", the gang use Krieger's Brown Note gun from "Edie's Wedding" to incapacitate the prince's guards.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Archer is seen in a 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 make Archer himself the constant Chew Toy. Every episode ends 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 goes 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!
    Cheryl: 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.
  • Clip Show: Played with in the first episode of season 5. The last few minutes of it are a series of clips from subsequent episodes, effectively being a cross between this trope and a sneak preview.
  • 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"... It happens again when Archer takes her shirt and tears it up to make fuses for Molotov cocktails and takes her bikini top to use as a slingshot (which instead immediately catches fire) and Archer once again covers her up with stickers.
  • 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, however briefly.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Cheryl is right that William Howard Taft wasn't President and Chief Justice at the same time (there was nearly a decade between the two) and that George Washington was not President for Life, though Calderon is technically correct that the 22nd Amendment was not tabled until 1947 (Washington was elected by the people, rather than appointing himself as president or inheriting the position, and voluntarily stepped down after serving two terms).
  • 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 Inept Healing: Occasional.
    • "Once Bitten" has Archer countering a snake bite by drinking heavily, which Cyril strongly warns against. Archer also demands someone suck out the venom, which, location aside, Cyril points out will do nothing at best because the venom has already left the bite area.
    • 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.
  • 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 Cameo: Mr. Ford from Frisky Dingo shows up in "Drift Problem", "Legs" and "Reignition Sequence", Simone, also from Frisky Dingo, shows up in "Nellis", and Captain Murphy from Sealab2021 shows up in "Sea Tunt".
  • 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.
    Ray: Ms. Archer had an affair with the head of the KGB for, like, 30 years.
    Cheryl: Yeah, until he got blown up! ...Which was actually my fault.
    Cyril: Because she was busy having choke-sex with a murderous cyborg, who then became the new head of the KGB.
    Krieger: Until I built a sexier one out of illegal Soviet parts... and a corpse.
    Pam: There was no shortage of dead bodies around ISIS.
    Ray: One of which belonged to the prime minister of goddamn Italy.
    Cyril: Oh, Jesus, I forgot about the-
    Cheryl: -giant pot farm in West Virginia.
    Pam: ...and this whole other thing with the Yakuza.
    Ray: Irish Mob.
    Cheryl: Piracy.
    Cyril: White slavery.
    Pam: No, actual piracy. With, like, boats.
    Cheryl: I want to say... Burt Reynolds?
    Cyril: -poaching alligators-
    Ray: -smuggling Mexicans-
    Krieger: -defiling a corpse-
    Cyril: -defiling a different corpse-
    Pam: -kidnapping the Pope-
    Cheryl: (laughing) faking my own kidnapping! ...Arson.
    Pam: Bumfights! You know, like when you pay bums to-
    Cyril: -destroy an oil pipeline in...
    Cheryl: I wanna say Burt Reynolds!
    Cyril: ...Turkmenistan?
    Krieger: Odessa. You know, the ratlines?
    Cheryl: Where you make it look like a murder-suicide, but-
    Krieger: Is it murder if they were my own clones? I'm seriously asking.
  • Continuity Nod: Tons.
    • 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 additional appearances in "Jeu Monegasque", the "Heart of Archness" arc, "Fugue and Riffs" and "The Papal Chase".
    • The clothes Charles and Rudi bought Woodhouse in "Honeypot" 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 "Skytanic", Archer lampshades the fact that Lana shoots him in the exact same spot as she did in "Skytanic". These scars are then later seen in "Dial M for Mother" when he is strapped to an operating table.
    • 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").
    • In "The Holdout", when Cheryl and Pam re-do the office exactly how it was before, they even recreate Brett's bloodstain from "White Elephant".
    • In Vision Quest," Archer tells everyone that he should be the one handling the rations because he has had experience with rationing in shipwrecked (or plane-wrecked) conditions, even if he did eat all the rations at the time while the other guy was sleeping. This is a reference to the season 3 episode "Heart of Archness, Part 1" in which he and Rip Riley crash-land into the ocean and are stranded on a lifeboat and in which he indeed ate almost all the rations while Rip was asleep. In the same episode, it's mentioned the non-field agent ISIS workers left when it was shut down by the FBI in "White Elephant".
    • In "Sitting", not only do the gang reference Brett's death, but also explain what happened to Rodney after the offices shut down.
    • In the background of a shot in "Nellis", a pinball machine advertising Rona Thorne's movie, Disavowed, can be seen.
    • Bryan, the most frequently appearing ISIS drone with the handlebar moustache appears after the drones leave the company in the background of a shot in "Reignition Sequence", walking past the ISIS headquarters.
  • Continuity Snarl: In Nellis, Archer reveals he was put on the No Fly List for trying to break into the cockpit and assaulting one of the flight crew trying to restrain him at some point in the past (and is also on a "no train list" for doing the same thing on a train), but is on a commercial flight in the following episode, "The Kanes".
  • Contrived Coincidence: Lampshaded in "Dial M For Mother" when Manfred and Uta capture Archer.
    Manfred: "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 that 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 local drug cultivation and shipment. After trying several times to convince him to stop growing pot.
  • Corrupt Quartermaster: Rodney inverts this. In contrast to the highly unprofessional staff at ISIS he is very by the book, and doesn't allow the team to take out weapons all willy-nilly as it was before he showed up. He does accept a handjob from Cheryl in exchange for a secret phone number however. At his worst, he is more of an Obstructive Bureaucrat than anything else. "Sitting" reveals he stole everything and set himself up as an Arms Dealer when ISIS was shut down.
  • Country Matters: Cheryl's real last name is "Tunt". This is the subject of a few puns.
    Archer: Tum again?
    • In season five Mallory calls Cheryl "My little count..ry singer!"
  • 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. Ironically, it's one of the most violent moments of the show despite Bob's Burgers only having occasional violence. "Sea Tunt, Part I," the 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: Despite being a complete moron in many things, 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: Pam and Cheryl get one while staying at the spa in "Fugue and Riffs."
  • Cultured Badass: Burt Reynolds, who in addition to being able to 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—
  • Cutaway Gag: Quite a few here and there, mostly as flashbacks to Archer's Hilariously Abusive Childhood.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Kreiger has invented bionic augmentations, resurrection procedures, AI holograms that can perform sex, and all manner of Nobel-Prize winners. In the 1970s. Seeing as how ISIS zig-zags between mercenaries and all-out drug dealers with more red tape than Nixon (and the unfortunate fact that his father was a Nazi), he can't sell any of this stuff.
  • 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, but 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".
      • "If you wake this child, I will climb inside you with my shoes on."
    • 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.
  • Cutting the Knot: When they find they are unable to stop the launch of a missile in San Marcos, Ray and Krieger simply remove the warhead and let the missile take off and fly harmlessly...well, until the body of the missle crashes into whatever city was the intended target.

  • Danger Room Cold Open: The pilot.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "Dear John" Letter: In "The Man From Jupiter", Archer forges one to Malory from Burt Reynolds after she starts dating him.
  • Death as Comedy: Numerous extras and one-shot characters over the course of the series, Brett getting shot in the face in "White Elephant", and Bilbo's fatal heart attack in "Coyote Lovely".
  • 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 Malory.
    • 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.
  • 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?
    • Also Malory, from "White Elephant"
      Cheryl has provoked FBI Agent Holly into tasing her for her pleasure.
      Malory: Ugh, our tax dollars hard at work. Well, not mine obviously, but—
      Agent Holly: What was that?
      Malory: Wha— Damn it!
  • 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.
  • Discredited Meme: In-Universe example: in Season 5, Archer realizes that nobody is calling out "Phrasing!" anymore, and decides that they're communally decided to stop using it. He tries to replace it with "Said Ripley to the Android Bishop", but it doesn't work out.
  • 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, (possible) father murder, being marooned on a space station and finally being shot with explosive ammunition, crushed by grain, set on fire and hit by a car.
  • Dissimile: In "Honeypot".
    Charles: Save your breath for cooling your sveche.
    Ramon: Sveche is already cool.
  • 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!"
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Cheryl is often seen barefoot or swinging her shoes on her foot, such as in "Skorpio".
  • Don't Ask: Said verbatim in "Lo Scandalo":
    Ray: Speaking of, why the hell is the Italian Prime Minister here?
    Archer and Lana: Don't ask.
    Malory: Oh God, that reminds me—Krieger!
    Krieger: Yeah, I found it.
    Cyril: What?
    Archer and Lana: Don't ask!
    Krieger: Can I keep it?
    Cheryl: Keep what?
    Archer and 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.
  • Dope Slap: A running gag in season five. The dope in question would receive several light rapid-fire slaps before getting one final harder slap.
  • 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.
  • Down L.A. Drain: Archer and Conan O'Brien in a segment that originally aired on Conan.
  • 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 ''Schindlers 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, She'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, after which both Pam and Gillette 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*
    • Archer's fear that stopping drinking all at once will cause the cumulative hangover to kill him is actually pretty well-founded - alcohol withdrawal can lead to seizures, permanent brain damage, hallucinations, shaking, and ultimately horrible death.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The first instance of Archer's "holding-up-a-finger-while-drinking" pose was by Pam in "Pipeline Fever", while dumping batteries down a garbage disposal.
  • 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 the following season 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.
    • Archer's answering machine pranks. In the pilot, his home phone has a mundane message on a tape deck (which sounds like he doesn't fully understand how to operate it). By the season one finale his cell phone's voice mail has increasingly elaborate messages that sound like he's answering the phone before revealing it to be a recording, to everyone's annoyance, and by season five, when his voice mail is full, calls set off lights and speakers playing techno music in Cheryl's mansion. Krieger is quite intrigued by the last one.
    • The Pilot introduces a female receptionist working at ISIS who is multilingual and threatens to call Human Resources on Archer; aside from a few cameos throughout season one, she isn't seen in future episodes. Also there were two Bilbos seen in the control room.
    • Archer has some very prominent scars on his chest and abdomen seen throughout the pilot that were removed by later seasons.
    • One first season episode features the only instance of a pixelated object (a purple dildo). There has never been a pixelated object since.
    • In "Skorpio", Archer has a Mexican live-in cook (who he keeps impregnating). She is not seen after this (or before, really), with Woodhouse doing all of Archer's cooking.
  • 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.
  • Elevator Escape: Parodied in "Edie's Wedding":
    Lana: Wait, wait, wait, wait, Ray!
    Ray: (holding the elevator door open) Yeah, come on. You coming?
    Lana: No, but hey, I know it's late notice, and I really hate to ask, but would you mind keeping A.J. for the we—
    Ray: (repeatedly pushing a button as the elevator doors begin to close) Wh-? I'm hitting door open! You can't see it but I really am! Oh my God, it's just like Maximum Overdrive!
    Lana: Ray!
    Ray: Lana! On Monday let's talk about how scary this was for me!
  • Elevator Failure / Locked in a Room: Happens in "Vision Quest". Malory calls everyone in for a 7 am meeting, but the elevator goes past the top floor and gets stuck. Ray and Pam try to open the trap door, only to find out, as Cyril had just explained, that the door on the roof is locked from the outside so rescue crews can get in, but people can't get out and walk around on a damaged elevator. They then spend the entire episode stuck in the elevator until Malory resets the system and reveals she had called them in for a team building exercise. Lana accuses her of sabotaging the elevator as the exercise, but Malory denies this and explains the exercise was watching Vision Quest.
  • Embarrassing Cover-Up: "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.
    Stripe: ...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!
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Referred to by name when Jakov discovers that Boris is helping Barry by necessity now.
    Jakov: Et tu, brute?!
    Boris: Et me, buddy.
  • 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: Every single main character is shown to have an incredibly rampant sex life to the point where almost all have them have slept with each other.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: Parodied in "Killing Utne."
    Cheryl: 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.
    • Lana might not particularly like Pam, but she still called Malory out for making Pam cry by simultaneously destroying the diorama of her old farm that she spent a lot of time working on and reminding her of the flood that destroyed it by pouring her coffee over it.
  • Everyone Is Bi: The cast seem to be quite open to sleeping with both sexes, with even the openly gay Ray expressing interest in sleeping with Lana because "Nobody's that gay.".
  • 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.
    • When Conway and Brett laugh at Archer's Walther PPK (chambered in .32 ACP) in "Diversity Hire", Archer claims it has plenty of stopping power, then shoots Brett to demonstrate. "See? He was putting on his pants and I stopped him."
  • 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.
  • Faking Engine Trouble: Done by Ray, when he sees Le Chuffre chasing them in a helicopter.
    "Oh, rocket launchers. Y'all, my car is slowing down for some unknown reason! Just must be out of... carburetor."
  • 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.
    • In "Movie Star", the KGB attempt to assassinate the new Soviet Premier while attending a peace conference in New York, possibly with the intent to start World War III.
    • 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 for Archer, whose mother is also his boss.
  • Famous Last Words: When he was cornered in an elevator in Moscow, Archer was happy for his last words on planet Earth to be "Fuck you, you douchebags". Apart from that, the show provides many examples of this:
    Kremenski: The hell is wrong with you people?!
    Reggie Thistleton: Fish... [bleep] ...in it...
    Katya Kazanova: Yes! I will save you, darling! I love you!
    Savio Mascalzone, Prime Minister of Italy: May have been?! You don't know? Madon'! Che tipo di puttana sei?!Translation 
    Nikolai Jakov: And so, Sterling...remember, things are not always what they appear.
    Commander Drake: Mars forever!
    Bilbo: No, I think I'm really dying...!
    Captain Murphy: Oh my God, just like that old gypsy woman said!
    Sterling Archer: Lana! I...love...you...!
    Brett Bunson: God dammit, I can't hear y—
    Barry Dylan (maybe): So... forgot what I was gonna say.
  • Fan Disservice: Pam, Malory, and a German chubby-chaser in a threesome.
  • Fanservice: Lana's revealing outfit while trying to seduce a prince, and the sex scene between Archer and Lana in "Pocket Listing".
    • It's generally a pretty regular occurrence to see the main cast in various states of undress, and all of them are quite good looking.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: The two-part episode "Drastic Voyage" had the group use the shrinking technology to remove a blood clot from the man who invented the shrinkray. (See also That's What She Said below.)
  • 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.
  • Five-Man Band: The ISIS field agents form one quite nicely now that there's five of them.
    • The Leader: Archer, "The World's Most Dangerous Spy".
    • The Lancer: Lana, who works closest with Archer and is his direct foil.
    • The Big Guy: Pam, who has superhuman strength, practices bare knuckle boxing and is generally batshit crazy.
    • The Smart Guy: Ray, who is the only one who consistently knows what he's doing.
    • The Chick: Cyril, who is the most sensitive and least skilled of the five.
  • 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:
    • In "Stage Two", Malory is seen reading a magazine about counterfeit chemotherapy drugs while Archer undergoes a lumpectomy, foreshadowing the following episode's plot of his chemo drugs turning out to be fake.
    • 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." hinting that Ray really can feel his legs. This was later The Reveal in "Bloody Ferlin". This seemingly throwaway joke leads up 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.
    • 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".
    • In "White Elephant", Krieger asks if it's murder to kill a clone of oneself. By the season finale, he's apparently killed his three fellow clones (or been killed by one).
    • During the B Plot of season 6, episode 3 "The Archer Sanction" the Office Gang looks for Malory and AJ, as neither had shown up at all, and Lana could not reach Malory. The next morning they wake up in Malory's Apartment with REALLY bad hangovers (both Cyril and Cheryl are begging for someone to kill them while projectile vomiting. Turns out that Malory had gotten her apartment bug bombed without telling anyone first, and so she was staying at the Plaza Hotel. Sharp-Eyed veiwers would have noticed the Bug Bomb Canisters in the Background of several shots in the Apartment, and if you listen closely, Pam says "Everything else [in the kitchen] was in plastic bags." through a mouthful of radish.
  • 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.
    • In "Skorpio" Nikolai Jakov, Head of the KGB is seen reading a magazine that has an add for the Excelsior, the rigid airship that's the subject of the very next episode, "Skytanic".
    • In "Stage Two", when Archer is undergoing surgery, Malory is reading a magazine with an article on counterfeit chemotherapy drugs, which impact Archer in the following episode, "Placebo Effect".
    • Special mention goes to "The Papal Chase". The newspaper Ron Cadillac is reading has an article on the back that simply says "Sealab Offline" with a picture of the titular Sealab.
  • 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.
  • Friendship Moment: In the episode Pocket Listing, Archer and Pam have a quickie, which is followed by a surprisingly honest heart-to-heart. Archer remarks without sarcasm that Pam might actually be his best friend and she not only doesn't disagree but actually gives him a hug.
  • 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: Malory 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.
    • In Season 5, he has an elaborate message hinting he, Ray and Cyril are under fire, and when his inbox is full, it sets off lights and techno music in Cheryl's mansion.
    • Season six has Malory has her own prank to give Sterling a taste of his own medicine.
  • 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.
    • If you look carefully at one shot from "Sitting", you can see AJ with a small plush ocelot.
  • 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.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The FBI in "White Elephant". While they do use flash grenade, they do not use tear gas, so it would appear they wore them just for the psychological effect, though masks used in concert with flash grenades are often equipped with lens that counter the flash effects.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The main cast consists of four men (Archer, Cyril, Ray and Krieger) and four women (Lana, Malory, Cheryl and Pam).
  • 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:
    Pharmacist: I get it! You have a lot of guns!
    Archer: And a knife. Which I will insert into your urethra if you don't answer my questions. Number one...
    [cut to Archer staking out a warehouse]
    Archer: God what a pussy. I could barely keep up, he was spilling so fast.
    Lana: Well, you did threaten to shove a knife up his dick-hole. Which, again, ick!
    • Later in the same episode, after crashing an all-night poker game:
    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 ankles, having a 'smoke grenade' shoved up his ass]
    • In "Palace Intrigue: Part I", Lana expresses concern that landing a plane loaded with weapons in San Marcos after openly stating that a known weapons dealer sent them may not be the wisest choice.
    Archer: Jesus, will you relax? What's the worst that could happen?
    [cut to the gang kneeling on the ground on the airstrip, surrounded by heavily armed San Marcos soldiers]
  • A Glass in the Hand: Malory breaks the last of her Steuben glass set in frustration when Nikolai 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. Though he wouldn't have been alone if he hadn't murdered everyone.
    • 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. Undone by the finale, where the agency is resurrected as a CIA contractor, minus the ISIS name.
  • 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.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: When Pam finally manages to pierce Barry's cyborg armor with explosive shotgun rounds in "Edie's Wedding", the damage to his internal mechanisms and remaining organs is seen in gruesome detail.
    Barry: Huh. I mean, I'm not a doctor... or a roboticist, but - that can't be good.
  • Guns in Church: Lana, a "covert operative", frequently wears two guns openly in side holsters atop her otherwise skintight clothing.

  • 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.
  • He Knows Too Much: Agent Holly pulls this on Archer, Lana and Cherlene in the Season 5 finale.
    Agent Holly: Come on, even if you people hadn't lost fifty million bucks worth of our cocaine, you know way too much!
    Cherlene: Uh, I don't know anything!
    Agent Holly: I believe that to be literally true.
  • 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.
  • Hidden Villain: Several times. In "Mole Hunt", Krenshaw turns out to be The Mole. In "The Archer Sanction", Crash McCaron is the target, but only because Archer didn't bother to read the mission dossier.
  • 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?
    • It continues with Archer and Lana's daughter, AJ, from trying to have her lose weight (despite being a baby), bribing Lana to change her middle name to Malory to yelling at Ron for smoking while reading a bedtime story... for smoking indoors after the drapes were cleaned and forcing him to sit on the patio.
  • 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 Guatemalan coup, though this contradicts other bits of backstory we've learned. For instance, a flashback in "Training Day" shows him as a bit older hearing Woodhouse read a telegram from Malory and "Uncle Kermit" (Kermit Roosevelt, Jr.) regarding the 1953 Iranian coup.
    • 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. His "father" is even named John Fitzgerald Archer, after John F. Kennedy.
    • In Honeypot, Charles and Rudi discuss Nazi uniforms, which they apparently find sexy. Rudi 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."
    • When planning to render Cyril unconscious in Blood Test, Malory asks Woodhouse to supply heroin, revealing that he shot William S. Burroughs' wife in Mexico, trying to shoot a piña coloda off her head while high on heroin.
  • 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.
  • Hurricane of Puns: During Ray's hand surgery:
    Krieger: Alrighty! Can someone give me a hand?
    Cheryl: But doctor, I thought the patient was getting the hand.
    Krieger: Speaking of hands, nurse, I'm...
    Cheryl: ...overplaying yours?
    Krieger: I was going to say "putty in yours", my dear, but I'll have to hand it to you.
    Cheryl: Hm. Keep your hands to yourself, doctor.
    Cyril: Can we have a show of hands? Who thinks this is getting out of hand?
    Ray: Goddammit! Can you please, shut up, and sew on my robot hand!
    Pam: Handjob.
  • 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!
    Pam: 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 "White Nights" 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, at least in the United States); 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 unmistakable 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.
    • After ISIS is resurrected as a CIA subcontractor, Agent Slater is surprised at how incompetent they truly are, and by "Drastic Voyage" Agent Holly is done with putting up with their shit and informs them their current mission will be their last chance; if they succeed, they will each receive $1 million, but if they fail, they will be permanently shut down as a spy agency and individually blacklisted from espionage. They fail.
  • 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 whether 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.
    • Played Straight with drug runner/ Undercover CIA Operative Slater is named and modeled after his voice actor: Christian Slater.
    • Brett is modeled after voice actor and producer Neil Holman. His constant injuries at the hands of his coworkers may hint something.
    • Welsh independentist L Loyd L Lewelyn is based on Matthew Rhys, who voiced the character and inspired the episode's story.
  • 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.
    • The Dreaded Lubyanka.
  • 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.
  • 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 Amused Me: In "The Holdout," after Cheryl and Pam reveal that the old ISIS office was renovated to almost its exact original state just after being shut down in the first place:
    Ray: Why would you do this?
    (Cheryl bites back her laughter)
  • 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. Pam's sister Edie in "Edie's Wedding" is arguably even worse.
  • 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.
    • Malory's comment in "Training Day" about Lana, a black ops field agent, being unable to care for a child due to her occupation are looking to be true as of "Edie's Wedding".
  • 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.
  • Just Plane Wrong: In "Edie's Wedding", Barry mentions hiding in the landing gear compartment of a Boeing 747 on a Chicago-Green Bay flight. A short haul flight such as that would more likely be serviced by a narrow-body commuter aircraft such as a DC-9 or a 737. Then again, we only have Barry's word for it, so this questionable at best.
  • 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 until "White Elephant", when ISIS is shut down.
  • 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.
    • Malory 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 Malory.
  • 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.
    • The first episode of season six had Cheryl, Archer and Pam redo the office exactly the way it was, down to emulating Brett's blood when he was killed. This was in response to fans who didn't like the changes for season five.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Cyril in "Space Race pt. 1" and "Crossing Over". "SUPPRESSING FIIIIIRRRRRE!"
  • Lemming Cops: "The Man From Jupiter".
  • Lethally Stupid:
    • 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. After she is resuscitated, despite she almost died, she is shown eating more later on.
    • 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!?"
  • 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!
  • Loophole Abuse: There's nothing in the Pirate's Code that says 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!
  • Love Before First Sight: Katya (a KGB agent) falls in love with Archer during training, after seeing his photo during a briefing on enemy agents.
  • 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".
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: For most of his life, Sterling was led to believe his father was John Fitzgerald "Black Jack" Archer, an ace fighter pilot who died in combat when Sterling was little. Malory reveals in "Dial M For Mother" that she invented him to protect Sterling from the truth and paid a Junior ROTC team $600 to perform a 21 gun salute at his staged funeral. There are currently at least four candidates for Sterling's father.
    • Major General Nikolai Jackov: head of the KGB. He and Malory had a secret relationship, which ended briefly when she disappeared for nine months, hinted to be when she was pregnant with Sterling. Nikolai was unaware of the possibility until Malory let slip the possibility in "Skorpio". He abducts Sterling to have a paternity test done in "White Nights", but the sample is sabotaged by Boris. Despite this, he assumes he is the father and bonds with Sterling in "Crossing Over". His death leaves his candidacy permanently in limbo.
    • Len Trexxler: ODIN spymaster. He and Malory had an affair some time before Sterling's birth. His disappearance following "A Going Concern" puts his candidacy in doubt.
    • Buddy Rich: jazz drummer and bandleader. He and Malory apparently had an affair at some point, though she admits he is unlikely at best.
    • Rip Riley: former ISIS agent and freelance manhunter. He and Malory had a sexual history, leading to Sterling to ask if he is his father. Rip refutes this, explaining that Sterling would have to be 15 for him to be the father. Rip also appears to be only ten to fifteen years older than Sterling, meaning his candidacy was unlikely to begin with.
    • Unnamed (presumably) Italian man. Malory reveals she and him were lovers and that he shared Sterling's hair and eye colours. He was gunned down by fascist Italy for speaking out against them, meaning it might never be known if he truly is Sterling's father.
    • Woodhouse. The possibility was raised in a DVD extra, though Malory's treatment of him as nothing more than a servant and the various pieces of backstory we've learned make him almost certainly not the father.
    • Unnamed man. A repressed memory/hallucination by Sterling in "Once Bitten" added another possibility of a man claiming to be Sterling's father and gave him a plush alligator toy on his sixth birthday. He appears to be rather short, as he is shown next to a light switch; his shoulders are level with the switch, measuring a standard 48", meaning he would be approximately five feet tall, well below Archer's height of 6'2" according to his bio in "Mole Hunt". However, it is questionable if this was an actual memory or if Archer hallucinated the entire event.
  • 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.
  • Mamet Speak: A great example of the trope, with every character getting in on the fun.
  • 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: Played with in Mallory's case. She's proven that she's actually very good with children when she wants to be. It's just her approach to parenting that leaves something to be desired.
  • 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!
    Archer: 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!
  • Mind Screw: The ending of "Vision Quest". When Ray finally gets a signal on his phone and tries to call Malory, it somehow ends up calling the elevator, which causes a pre-recorded message from Archer to play. The most agreed-on theory, supported (but not confirmed) by somebody who worked on the show, is that Archer set up all calls to Malory's phone to redirect to the elevator, planning for it to get stuck and for the group to call Malory and hear his pre-recorded message. What he didn't account for was Kreiger installing the signal-jammer, thus making it impossible for the group to quickly reach the punchline of his prank.
  • 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.
  • Momma's Boy: Archer's relationship with his mother is...dysfunctional to say the least. Ramon Limon and the prince in "Pocket Listing" seem to be this as well.
  • 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.
    • "White Elephant" opens with a somewhat surreal sequence of Archer carrying flowers through the office to Malory for her birthday. There's a light sepia tone, blissful orchestral music is playing, everyone is dancing ballet and being nice to each other, and then the ISIS headquarters explodes.
    • The season 6 finale, "Drastic Voyage." When it seems like Nerius is just about to make it, Nerius reverts to its original size in the medical room, killing the patient they were trying to save and everyone else in the room at the time. The bloodbath leaves Agent Hawley and Malory speechless.
  • 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 1940), "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 five 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 thirteen, 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 (and 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."
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: The only Udru Archer knows turns out to mean "No shit, you goat raping pig-devil", which he claims explains why his visit to a whorehouse went from "pretty bad" to even worse.
  • 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" and "El Contador" give us an Asian character saying "What the hell, damn guy?", the catch-phrase of the supposedly-Asian dry-cleaner.
      • Woodhouse uses the ethnic slur "gyppos" (a slang form of "Gypsies", used in the UK for Romani and Irish Travellers alike).
      • Mr. Ford, a recurring character from Frisky Dingo, makes an appearance in "Drift Problem", "Legs" and "Reignition Sequence".
      • The Running Gag of Archer's tinnitus, and him having to sleep with the fan on was first used in Frisky Dingo episode "The Grate Escape", when rapper Taqu'il interrogates the dry-cleaner and punches him in the face one too many times.
      • The "hostile work environment" Running Gag was first used by Phil, who says the phrase to his employer, Killface, when suggested too by his lawyer.
      • In the Frisky Dingo episode, "Meet Awesome X", the Xtacles are running through a list of casualties from a workplace incident. One of such casualties is "both Mikes", to which Xander asks, "aww, Fat Mike, too?". Archer gets the same line in the Season 4 episode "Midnight Ron".
      • In Frisky Dingo, an albino prostitute robbing Wendell of his money and fried chicken yells "bawk bawk!" The same is said by Archer to Cheryl in "Mole Hunt" and by Cheryl to an actual chicken in "Bloody Ferlin".
      • 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", a reference to Xander Crews' fighting force, the Xtacles.
      • "Nellis" features the triumphant return of Simone. She has relocated to Las Vegas, but seems to have lost her "kickin' pants" along the way.
      • "Reignition Sequence" features Cheryl misquote Wendell Stamps (a major character from Frisky Dingo) as having said "that's going in the slideshow!" (He didn't, but the slideshow is a Running Gag in Frisky Dingo).
      • Two references are made to Xander stuffing Wendell's broken nose with tampons: In "Sea Tunt", Archer recommends the same thing for Ray, claiming "that's what they're for!", and in "Achub Y Morfilod", Archer uses this treatment himself.
    • 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 Rudi, the Camp Gay interor decorator and hairdresser/assassins for hire of "Honeypot", 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."
    • The Professional Killer Archer, Lana and Ray are sent to kill is lost in an avalanche. The three acknowledge they don't have proof they completed their mission and just assume he died.
  • Never My Fault: In the early seasons, Archer was rather quick to say "Lana did that!" Invariably she really did do what she was blamed for (throwing donuts on the floor or poisoning guards).
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Alligators and crocodiles are two of Archer's three biggest fears.
  • 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. She apparently got off on being Tazered, and seems to enjoy physical abuse of any kind i.e. giggling when Lana punches her in the arm. She's also a pyromaniac to boot.
    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: Krieger and Cheryl have very few instances of showing action. Cyril can be dangerous, but usually he'll hit an ally more than an enemy.
  • 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; she also claims she was only worth $50,000 before their parents' deaths, most of which was likely tied up in stocks and bonds). 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 Fascist Italy either shortly before or during World War II, 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?
      • It's all explained in the final episode of Season 5. Mallory was in on it the entire time, having formed a plan with Agent Holley to distribute the cocaine that the CIA had purchased, in return for a cut of the proceeds. That's why she didn't seem the least bit perturbed when the FBI raided their building and hauled them off to jail.
  • 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 misspells his name as "Kreiger".
  • Not What It Looks Like: Pretty much the whole plot of "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 Malory has Archer, her best agent.

  • 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:
  • 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.
  • Overly Stereotypical Disguise: In "Honeypot", Archer is assigned to seduce a gay man into giving up a sex tape of Malory. He attempts this by dressing up as the most over the top flamboyant Camp Gay stereotype imaginable.
  • 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.
  • Person as Verb:
    • Lampshaded in "Three to Tango".
    Archer: I'm Archerizing this plan!
    Lana: What? No, no, uh-uh, you can not make yourself a verb. I will not allow it!
    Archer: I'm a verb now, Lana. Deal with it!
  • 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 Season 1 finale, Lana sleeps with Pam out of pity.
    • In Season 2, Archer uses his cancer to guilt Lana into sleeping with him, though Adam Reed confirms Archer fell asleep before anything could happen.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Hector Ruìz in "Diversity Hire", on two counts. His death forces ISIS to hire a new Token Minority to continue enjoying government subsidies, while had he successfully infiltrated El Frenté Rojo they might not have reappeared in season two's "Swiss Miss".
  • 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:
  • 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 "Honeypot" and "Movie Star"
  • Punctuated Pounding: When a co-worker, Brett, 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:
    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 "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.
    • 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.
    • In Season 6, the ISIS gang constantly ruin and fail every assignment the CIA gives them. And, as such, in the season finale, the CIA threaten to disavow them if they fail just one more mission.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: See Bilingual Bonus above.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The Archer staff collectively decided to remove the organization name ISIS from the show for season 6 onwards due to it being used by a real terrorist organization.
  • 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?
  • Relationship Upgrade: Archer and Lana midway through Season 6.
  • 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".
  • The Remnant: Archer encounters Kintaru Sato, a Japanese officer holding out on an island in South East Asia since 1942 in the season six opener. He's able to convince Sato that the war is over using his phone, which he borrows when Archer falls asleep and goes on a Wiki Walk of the war from Guadalcanal to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan's surrender.
  • 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 in "Placebo Effect". 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.
  • Romantic Wingman: Sterling's buddy Lucas Troy used to serve as his wingman back when he still worked for ISIS.
  • 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
    • "Phrasing!", especially in Season 4.
      • "Said Ripley to the Android Bishop", a temporary replacement when Archer realises that nobody is using "Phrasing!" any more.
    • 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 4, and 26 in Season 5.
    • 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— [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.
    • Someone, usually Malory, 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.
    • "Eat a dick, jungle!"note 
      • A variation with "Eat a dick, blizzard." in "The Archer Sanction."
    • Cheryl consuming glue.
    • In the sixth season, someone thinking they're having a stroke and another one responds by saying that it's just the smell of toast
  • 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.
  • Scared of What's Behind You: In "Smugglers' Blues" while Archer is in a standoff with the Columbian paramilitary, the paramilitary drop their guns and surrender. Archer thinks he intimidated them but later notices the feared Cali Cartel that pulled up behind him armed with a tank.
  • 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."
  • Scenery Porn: The drawn backgrounds for the series become breathtakingly gorgeous as the show continues. In the recent Season 6 easter egg hunt, Kreiger's flickr account includes an album of backgrounds from Seasons 5 and 6 in HD, including the ISIS bullpen, the exterior of Tunt Manor, Charles and Rudi's house and Ramon's Cuban cafe (from "A Kiss While Dying"), Madison Square Garden (from "Baby Shower"), the shanty town (from "Smuggler's Blues"), the palace foyer (from the San Marcos arc), the jungle crash site (from "Rules of Extraction"), Sato's camp and Archer's hotel room (from "The Holdout"), the chalet in the Swiss Alps and the Japanese sento (from "The Archer Sanction"), and the grain elevator (from "Edie's Wedding").
  • 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."
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Cyril and Archer, respectively. Interestingly, both embody the worst characteristics of each personality type, with Archer being an obnoxious, hyper-aggressive douche bag with mommy issues and Cyril a whiny nerd who frequently comes off as incredibly smug.
  • 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. However, many catch phrases are shared amongst characters, with one just saying it far more than others (e.g. Ray and Pam say the aforementioned "what the shit?", Lana will sometimes use Ray's "you know...", Malory has used Lana's "nooooope", etc.
  • 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 "Honeypot," Charles and Rudi 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?"
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • Averted in many aspects, most notably Ray's temporary paralysis, Lana's pregnancy and the Archer Vice story arc.
    • In "The Holdout", Cheryl and Pam give the entire office a ten-million dollar renovation to make it look exactly the same as it did before, even down to Brett's blood stain. Except for Milton, the toast-making robot (and an actual Japanese bath).
  • 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."

  • 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."
    • The Snacklesnap app in "Smugglers' Blues" is a parody of Instagram and one of its more popular uses: people taking pictures of what they're eating.
    Malory: Why would anyone want a picture of someone else's food?
    Krieger: Well...no, they don't.
    Pam: Yeah, everybody hates it.
  • 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. Malory just passes it off as Archer reaching a new high in his voicemail pranks.
    • This nearly bites him in Season 3, until he points out that his voicemail couldn't call her.
  • Television Geography:
    • In "Nellis", the eponymous Air Force base is stated as the location of Area 51. Nellis AFB is just north of Las Vegas while Edwards AFB ("Area 51") is much farther away.
    • Graduate style; in "The Kanes" Archer and Lana visit her parents in Berkeley via a legal hassle free SFO equivalent. Why they go the long way over the Golden Gate Bridge in and out of SF is anyone's idea.
  • 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.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: In "Archub Y Morfilod", Archer accidentally dismantles two Welsh "freedom fighters'" cause by asking completely innocent questions. They claim they are rebelling because the British government flooded an ancient town that stood for a thousand years. Archer is horrified, until it's explained that it was done to create a reservoir to increase drinking water in the region. He's still a bit appalled that thousands of people lost their homes, only to find that exactly 48 people were effected. He's still upset to hear people were now homeless, only for it be explained that everyone was compensated and in many cases were now living in much, much nicer homes.
  • That's What She Said: Am episode does a parody of the movie Fantastic Voyage (see "Fantastic Voyage" Plot above) in which Archer and his team have been put into a small submarine that has been minaturized and injected into a patient so it can attack a blood clot in his brain. The ship uses a laser to cut into an artery to proceed through to the clot, the navigator tells the pilot "Okay, now just slide it in very easy," and the pilot lampshades it by says, "Is it all right if I say, 'That's what she said'?"
    • Archer's usual version of this is "Phrasing!" After realizing in Season 5 that the team is no longer using this, he briefly switches to "Said Ripley to the Android Bishop!" The instance in "Drastic Voyage, Part II" seems to be Archer finally giving up on this recurring gag, as he defeatedly asks the rest of the team if he can at least use "That's what she said".
  • Theme Pairing: In-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 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: 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: Subverted. 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. Played straight for him and the entirety of the cast though. Despite drug use on the job, sexual harassment, misappropriation of funds, gross incompetence and such, no one has been fired.
  • 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.
  • 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. Subverted years later in "Three to Tango", when its finally revealed that his real name actually is Conway Stern.
  • Unlucky Extra: Brett, the unfortunate Isis employee that has been shot eight times over the course of the series, mostly by ricocheting friendly fire (the first three occurred before his first on-screen appearance). 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.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: Subverted in "The Holdout". Lana, over the phone, suggests Archer has spent the past six weeks in Thailand with ladyboys. Archer denies this, then promises the two Thai hookers in his shower - who claim he owes them ฿100,000 (Thai baht, approximately $3,000 US) - an extra ฿20,000 (approximately $600 US) if they can prove they're biologically female. They pull aside the shower curtain, which, based on Archer's reaction, seems to indicate they are indeed female.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    God, what a pussy. I could barely keep up, he was spilling so fast.
  • We Named the Monkey Jack: 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:
  • 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:
    • "Double Trouble": Barry gets turned into a cyborg and becomes Dragon-in-Chief to Jakov. Even more, he crashes Katya and Archer's wedding, and gets Katya killed in the process in one of the first real Tearjerkers of the series.
    • "Crossing Over": Barry usurps Jakov as head of the KGB, and subsequently murders him.
    • "Skin Game": Katya is revived as a cyborg, but runs away with Barry.
    • "Viscous Coupling": Barry is rescued from the space station, thanks to Katya manipulating Archer, while Katya has become the head of the KGB.
    • "Sea Tunt, Part II": Lana is pregnant from a sperm donor and Archer drowns in the sinking sealab to save her and her baby, confessing his love for her in his final moments. Luckily, he is resuscitated afterwards.
    • "White Elephant": The Season 5 premiere literally changes the premise of the entire show. ISIS is not, and never was, an actual government-owned spy agency, and as such the headquarters are raided by the FBI. Brett is Killed Off for Real in the fight, and Malory is faced with having to disband ISIS to prevent her employees from being sent to jail. Abandoning their espionage work, the main characters form a cartel to sell a literal ton of cocaine Malory was storing in her office.
    • "Arrival/Departure": The entire Vice arc is concluded. Slater and Hawley were CIA agents who hired Mallory to monazite their cocaine supply. Mallory regains ISIS as a CIA organisation. Lana gives birth to her child, whose father is revealed to be Archer.
    • "Edie's Wedding": Katya has dumped Barry for Boris. Barry is finally significantly injured, and his body is burnt, possibly to death, in a grain elevator.
    • "Pocket Listing": After six seasons, Archer and Lana finally get together.
    • "Reignition Sequence": Archer finally chooses Lana over Katya, and he makes amends to Katya before she leaves. His relationship with Lana is still significantly damaged. It's also revealed that Woodhouse has gone missing.
    • "Drastic Voyage": The CIA threaten to disband ISIS once again if they fail one more mission - being shrunk down to the size of a blood clot and inserted into the brain of a brilliant scientist. They actually end up failing the mission, killing the scientist and all other people in the room, leaving the gang without work once more.
  • Wham Line:
    • Two in "Sea Tunt, Part II":
      Lana: Yeah, a pregnant woman.
      Cyril: When were you going to tell me?
      Lana: When I finally figured out how to tell you it's not yours.
    • In "White Elephant":
      Archer: What are we going to do with, literally, not figuratively, a ton of cocaine?
    • Two in "Arrival/Departure":
      Archer: We've been selling cocaine for the CIA, so they can buy arms from Iran?!
      Lana: Sterling Archer, I'd like you to meet your daughter, Abbiejean.
    • At the end of "Reignition Sequence":
      Lana: Then why... is there a vagina... in the SINK?!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The last we see of the German assassins hired by Jakov, Manfred and Uta, is them driving away after implanting a chip into Sterling's brain in the Season 1 finale, "Dial M for Mother".
    • Trinette and the wee baby Seamus haven't been seen since "Stage Two." Probably because of Archer's horrific babysitting in "Stage Two".
    • Many shots and episodes in early seasons (most notably the workers' union in "The Rock") showed ISIS having many, many employees. These "drones," as Mallory calls them, were gradually dropped from the series, and while Brett and Bilbo were killed off, the rest just appeared less and less as the show went on. Finally addressed in Season 6 by Lana, who confirmed that the main gang are the only current ISIS employees and the others never returned after the agency was shut down, and the very next episode we discovered what happened to Rodney - he stole all of the ISIS weaponry and became a wealthy Arms Dealer.
    • Pam's dolphin puppet appears in the opening of every episode of the show (since Season 2) and prominently in marketing but hasn't really been seen in-show since the first season. Could be justified due to it being a tool she used for HR mediation, and with her becoming a field agent, and the gradual disappearances of all of the ISIS drones (see above), she would rarely have a use for it these days.
    • ODIN. It's unknown who, if anyone is still working there (Framboise was fired by Barry in "Job Offer", Barry himself defected to the KGB, Lucas Troy faked his death after killing several of their agents and was then crushed by a falling tree, and Head of ODIN Len Trexler had a microchip implanted in his brain and was in no mental state to run a company), and they haven't directly appeared in the plot in a long while. They have to still be a functioning company despite what happened to Trexler, as ODIN agents played a part in "Blood Test"note , and again in "The Wind Cries Mary", where the aforementioned death of ODIN agents is brought up as a recent occurance.
    • The aftermath of "Movie Star". The KGB attempts to assassinate the new Soviet Premier to start World War III. Rona Thorne turns out to be the sleeper agent and assassinates the Premier, then escapes after drugging Archer and Lana, but it's unknown what happened afterwards.
  • 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 armorer) 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."
  • What the 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 of the few non-evil Russians on the show.
  • Where Da 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: The entire main cast are Large Ham, and quite a few Villains Of The Week give the main characters a run for their money, particularly in the season finales.
  • World of Snark: Sterling and Malory are the largest snarkers, but everyone else isn't far behind them.
  • 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 airplane back?" "Call you back, 1930's! And hey, watch out for that Adolf Hitler. He's a bad egg!"
  • X Meets Y: Invoked. In addition to the example noted in the show's description at the top of the page, there's also Archer remarking in "White Elephant" that their new venture would be like Scarface meets The A-Team. Lana then calls him "Hannibal Montana".
  • 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. Apparently it's by choice, though, as Bucky is familiar with the rules of English syntax.
  • 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.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: In "Skytanic", a startup company is trying to resurrect air travel by zeppelin. Archer, despite repeatedly confusing inert helium with hydrogen, points out how inefficient a slow-moving airship with one fixed destination is when compared to jet airliners, and what a niche market luxury airships travel would be, as it only slightly out-competes cruise ships.
  • Zero-G Spot: Archer and Pam in "Space Race Part 1".