Back in the nineties, I was in a very famous TV show (Ooh)BoJack Horseman is an animated Black Comedy-Drama Sitcom series created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg for Netflix as the service's first animated original program. The show premièred on August 22, 2014, and stars an Ensemble Cast which includes Will Arnett (Arrested Development), Amy Sedaris (Strangers with Candy), Alison Brie (Community), Paul F. Tompkins (Mr. Show), and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad).Set in a world where Petting Zoo People coexist with humans, the eponymous BoJack Horseman (Arnett) previously starred in a popular Sitcom, Horsin' Around, in The '90s. Now a washed-up actor, BoJack lives in his luxurious Hollywoo (sic) home with his deadbeat roommate, Todd (Paul), drowning his empty former D-List celebrity life and other problems in a cocktail of drugs and booze. Clashing with his agent and on-again-off-again girlfriend, Princess Carolyn (Sedaris), BoJack is pushed to finish his memoirs to help him find any acting work.Unable to write but desperate to be famous again, BoJack meets with ghost writer Diane (Brie), whom his publishing company has hired out of sheer impatience. As BoJack begins to open up to her, he not only begins facing reality without the help of drugs and drink, but he also gets to know Diane as much as she knows him; this complicates the situation considering Diane is dating BoJack's (self-proclaimed) best friend and happier counterpart Mr. Peanutbutter (Tompkins).BoJack Horseman is one of the early examples of the auteur sitcom, where a situation comedy format is used to tell more dramatic, existentialist stories while still being ostensibly a comedy. The show most notably breaks the mold of its contemporaries, trading an abundance of shock value, celebrity pot-shots and occasional cutaways for character-based humor and recurring arc jokes. Also notable is its gradual Genre Shift towards Dramedy as BoJack is forced to overcome things like crippling loneliness and narcissism while dealing with the emptiness of being a celebrity and unrequited love.Despite an initially mixed critical response, BoJack Horseman was popular enough to warrant a far more well-received second season, which premiered on July 17th, 2015. A third season premiered on July 22nd, 2016, to additional critical acclaim, resulting in a fourth season being immediately greenlit and eventually premiering on September 8th, 2017.The title character also has a Defictionalized website maintained by the show's creators. Note that it contains spoilers for the first season.Now has a Recap page and a Best Episode Crowner..
I'm BoJack the Horse. (BoJack!) BoJack the Horse
Don't act like you don't know...
I'm BoJack the Horse. (BoJack!) BoJack the Horse
Don't act like you don't know...
— Grouplove, "Back In the '90s" (end credits song)
BoJack Horseman provides examples of:
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A — B
- Abandoned Area: BoJack's house devolves into this during the year and a half he's missing from Hollywoo after the season 3 finale. Since he left the window broken and open to the public as revealed in "See Mr. Peanutbutter Run" when Diane walks in without any problemnote , the living room has become full of leaves and trash.
- The Sugarman Summer Cabin in Michigan shown in the next episode "The Old Sugarman Place" when BoJack arrives. The cabin is in decay, the sink collapses, the floor has cracks and the front door's visages break at the first pull.
- Aborted Arc:
- Despite the pictures of BoJack having sex with Sarah Lynn being given some build up during season 1, they were mostly used for a few comedic moments before being resolved very simply without much thought given to them. See Comically Small Demand below.
- Likewise, in "Old Acquaintance", Judah secretly meets with Charley Witherspoon to discuss a potential merger between VIM and Vigor, done behind Princess Carolyn's back. Since VIM is closed down two episodes later, this never comes to fruition and the deal falls through. Of course, Judah remains reticent to talk about it and even encourages Princess Carolyn to look something else in her life instead of work, so it may be left for another time, especially since VIM has reopened in the season finale.
- Subverted in Season 4: In "Ruthie", Princess Carolyn learns of the meeting from Charlie, which results in her firing Judah.
- Absentee Actor: In-Universe examples.
- Every main character other than BoJack and Todd in the Christmas special.
- Princess Carolyn: "Fish Out Of Water", "The Old Sugarman Place" and "Time's Arrow"
- Diane Nguyen: "Let's Find Out"note , "Fish Out Of Water" "Best Thing That Ever Happened" and "Time's Arrow"
- Mr. Peanutbutter: "Say Anything", "The Telescope", "Downer Ending"note , "Escape From L.A.", "Best Thing That Ever Happened", "The Old Sugarman Place" and "Time's Arrow"
- Todd Chávez: "Fish Out Of Water", "That's Too Much, Man!", "The Old Sugarman Place" and "Time's Arrow"
- An in-universe example occurs in "Out to Sea"; BoJack discovers that during his two-month stay in Tesuque, NM, Turteltaub had the Secretariat film finished by replacing BoJack with the 'Computer BoJack' created in the first episode of Season 2.
- In the trailer for season four, BoJack himself is nowhere to be found until the very last shot. He is also missing from the season 4 premiere, "See Mr. Peanutbutter Run".
- Abusive Parents:
- BoJack's parents resented him his whole life and frequently took out their anger about their own miserable lives on him (it's implied at one point that BoJack's mother tried to drown him), resulting in the difficult person he grew up to be. Beatrice was overly judgmental of him and derided him as a failure no matter what he did and Butterscotch would often make him cry alongside him to Cole Porter records and would tear apart anything he has done if not done in the proper "American way".
- Season 4 in particular takes a closer look at what Bojack's parents went through, particularly his mother Beatrice. Not only did her older brother die in World War 2, but her mother's grief became too much for her father to want to deal with, and he eventually had her lobotomized to keep her "womanly emotions" in check, and encouraged young Beatrice to keep her emotions under a tight leash as well. Since then, her father spent much time trying to groom her so he could marry her off to another wealthy family as she got older, and had no qualms with having all of her belongings, including her favorite doll and other comfort objects, burned at the request of doctors when she came down with scarlet fever to contain the disease. When she cried in protest, her father only hung her mother's surgery over her head as a means to convince her to control herself. In other words, while BoJack certainly had a terrible childhood, it seems like it runs in the family.
- Diane's relationship with her family oscillates between neglect and outright bullying. Papa Nguyen delighted in seeing her daughter fail and her mother would treat her with derision and coddled the brothers to near useless levels.
- Princess Carolyn's mother was a happy drunk who'd often fail at her job as a maid for a rich family, forcing Princess to often step up to the role and cover for her if the family wished to not be kicked out on the street. Her father was implied to be too meek to do anything about his wife's problem.
- Sarah Lynn has a Stage Mom and a stepfather who is implied to have sexually abused her.
- Actor Allusion: In-Universe when Beyoncé trips on some $1 bills that BoJack is throwing into the street and the ensuing report plays as such:Tom: Ring the Alarm! Irreplaceable pop icon and Independent Woman Beyoncé has been injured! What more can you give us?
Reporter: Well, details are sketchy at this point, but we do know Beyoncé is a Survivor and, presumably, she will keep on surviving.
Tom: But what happened?
Reporter: Well, Tom, I'm being told that she slipped on All The Single Dollars.
Tom: ALL The Single Dollars?
Reporter: ALL The Single Dollars!
Tom: ALL The Single Dollars?
Reporter: ALL The Single Dollars!
Tom: (despairingly) Bills, Bills, Bills...
- Actor/Role Confusion: Used as a Black Comedy gag in The Horsin' Around Christmas Special:Todd: And I still don't believe Goober ended up molesting all those Laker Girls.BoJack: Goober did not molest those Laker Girls, the actor who played Goober molested those Laker Girls.
- Adaptation Decay:
- In universe, a documentary about Mr. Peanutbutter getting married to Diane with BoJack as a minor character gets derailed as Mr. Peanutbutter is given a single catchphrase of dialogue, Diane spends most of the movie giving long monologues about her own mental issues, and turns into a B-Movie alien flick. Which is then scrapped in favor of an interactive smartphone app, re-imagined as a series of bimonthly-released packages of snacks.
- And again in Season Two, as the biopic about Secretariat shifts from being a Warts and All approach to being just another "feel-good" movie of the summer.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the example mentioned above, the Mr. Peanutbutter movie ends up making BoJack into an alien Evil Overlord in control of the planet.
- Adam Westing: Character actress Margo Martindale appears as a manic version of herself.
- Naomi Watts plays herself as a creepy, obsessive diva.
- In the same episode, Wallace Shawn (better known as Vizzini) is strong-armed into playing BoJack because he needs to fund his Rothko painting habit.
- Most of the self-cameos throughout the series have elements of this, though Jessica Biel might take the top spot for encouraging the writers to be meaner, leading to an expanded role in Season 4 where she goes Ax-Crazy when trapped underground.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Happens quite often, but usually with Tom Jumbo-Grumbo.
- Season 4 takes this Up to Eleven with Courtney Portnoy.Princess Carolyn: This was supposed to be Courtney's crossover coronation, but that's sort of been thwarted, unfortunately, 'cause Courtney's purportedly falling short of shoring up four-quadrant support!
- Season 4 takes this Up to Eleven with Courtney Portnoy.
- Adult Fear: Bojack's feelings about the matter notwithstanding, the idea of losing a parent to dementia is heartbreaking.
- Even though Bojack was genuinely trying to protect her, Hollyhock was repeatedly drugged with amphetamines and ended up in the hospital for an overdose without either of their knowledge. This after being there when Sarah Lynn, another daughter figure who he loved, died of an overdose the previous year.
- Aerith and Bob: The animal characters in the show, some have human names while others have names someone would give to a pet. The reigning champ is "Officer Meow-Meow Fuzzyface." Another example is BoJack's mother and father: Beatrice and Butterscotch respectively.
- Aesop Amnesia: In-universe. Part of what makes BoJack such a tragic character is how, for all of his Character Development, he continues to be selfish and narcissistic.
Todd: You can't keep doing this! You can't keep doing shitty things and then feel bad about yourself like that makes it okay! You need to be better!
- This deconstruction hits its peak in Season 3's "It's you". Todd finally gets to their limit on Bojack's incesant cycle of committing mistakes, apologizing and comitting the same mistake again that they cut connections with him.
- Affably Evil: Hank Hippopopalous
- The Alcoholic: BoJack to the point where him getting drunk happens at least Once per Episode.
- This quality runs in the family, as both his mother, Beatrice and his grandmother turn to alcohol seeking emotional numbness as well
- Princess Carolyn after her miscarriage
- All Just a Dream: In-Universe, the season of Horsin' Around where the Horse became president
- Alliterative Family: The Horseman family: BoJack, Butterscotch and Beatrice.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees:
- Sexist websites like "Titpuncher" really do exist, and their followers are sometimes worse than how they're portrayed here.
- One of the gangs Todd joins in prison, the Latin Kings, is a real gang.
- Always Murder: Two episodes so far see the death of a character trigger the investigation of a presumed murder. Ultimately subverted, as both deaths turn out to be accidental In particular:
- When the inevitable occurs and Herb passes away in a car crash right after his cancer went into remission, a treasure hunt uncovers a mysterious conspiracy concerning one of the funeral guests which happens to be not a murder plot, but a plan to steal the manuscript to Herb's book and destroy, since it would have destroyed his legacy. Despite the suspicious nature of the crash, by all means, it really seems like it was an accident.
- After looking for an old acquaintance of BoJack's, he and Diane find Nadia, a stripper killer whale, dead at the guy's pool, and then BoJack gets the blame pinned on him, so he's forced to investigate in order to clear his name. In the end, it turns out Nadia died from a drug overdose, with the Arc Words "BoJack kills" referring to a particular brand of heroin called BoJack.
- A Man Is Always Eager: BoJack's two sex scenes that ended with Immodest Orgasms in episode 4, despite not penetrating Princess Carolyn either time (the second time, she hadn't even come to bed yet!)
- Ambiguously Jewish:
- Lenny Turtletaub, based on his accent and his Yiddish-esque phrases. BoJack, however, thinks he's faking it.
- Sarah-Lynn as well due to a throwaway line in "That's Too Much, Man!" regarding sobriety; "Why would I want my body to be a temple? I've been to temple, it's so boring!"
- Ambiguous Disorder: It's Dysfunction Junction time, ladies and gentlemen!
- BoJack has textbook compensatory narcissism with a deep rooted entitlement and high need of appreciation coming from an inferiority complex, with his actions being attempts to live up to who he thinks he should be for others and falling short of it. He also has Borderline Personality Disorder due to his disgust and craving of affection from even people he despises like Mr. Peanutbutter or knows are just trying to use him like Angela and Ana. He's been also often interpreted as having clinical depression due to his lack of motivation and positive emotions as well as his self-defeating behavior and occasional suicidal ideation.
- His mother, Beatrice, has a more complex case of narcissism with a pot full of different shades of the spectrum: "amorous" (clingy attitude and territorial attitude even to those she dislikes just because they're hers), "elitist" (haughty, believes appearance and status to be everything, derides everything short of her image of perfection), "compensatory" (behavior largely out of insecurity, compensation) and even "fanatic" (she just can't let go of grudges, keeps any emotional actions as proof of her own beliefs) fit her to some degree.
- While nice about it, Mr. Peanutbutter fits the description of the shy, covert/compensatory narcissist: he wants people to be happy and often goes out of his way to make it so but rather than finding out what would make them so, he forgoes that in favor of his bases of what he assumes would make them happier. He also tries to be the cool guy so that people will feel comfortable around him and don't leave him at all, something which has happened in the past and has created him a complex. Not that he would come out and say it; better try passive-aggressive remarks in the form of concerned thoughts. There's also how much he wants things exactly as he envisions in spite of his carefree attitude, which he masks with niceness hoping that will make things go his way. His grandiose sense of projects without any backbone or purpose and insecurity about Diane also make him rather needy with his expressions of love being Grand Romantic Gestures.
- Secretariat was just as much as a Crowd Pleaser as Mr. Peanutbutter and just as miserable as BoJack. He would often bask on the public's adoration while secretly falling apart because of how little he saw of himself in his audience's expectations. Fame, glory and love meaning everything for him, he was eternally fearful of falling into obscurity to the point of selling out his brother to the army as a replacement during The Vietnam War. Tripping into disgrace once he was found out betting in his own races, he was banned from racing, the only thing that made him feel alive and allowed to forget his problems, and as such he finally committed suicide. Forget BoJack, Secretariat is the embodiment of compensatory narcissism as well as a chilling reminder of what can happen when such disorder is allowed to run rampant.
- Sarah Lynn is an example of the "unprincipled"/"amorous" type: willing to exploit others for her own gratification, feels little to no remorse over it and always uses her sexuality and devil-may-care attitude as an excuse to get away with horrid actions.
- Generalized Anxiety:
- Diane Nguyen has certainly a lot of stress over where is her life headed to, the future and her standing on it, often ignoring the matters in which her present is unfolding; her overanalyzing and exhaustion over the possible routes life can take her makes her pessimistic, emotionally guarded and eternally nomad in spirit; likewise, if her concerns take major precedence in her mind, she'll ensure any step necessary for some insurance of relief, not letting her guard down until the problem has gone away. She also briefly suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after returning from Cordovia in season 2, like the depression-masking indifference, the attempts to numb herself with TV or beer and the Bad Dreams.
- Pinky Penguin is a fidgety mess whose paranoia and bad luck has led him to be a seclude in his office and resort to desperate measures to achieve a hit with BoJack's book. Such is his need that he constantly uses for it, even in times where the most humane thing would be to sit back and reflect on life. He's constantly nervous, fearful of what might happen and often tries to find a safe bet.
- Ambiguous Situation:
- In "Escape from L.A.", when Charlotte's daughter Penny in bed with an undressing BoJack. Were they just talking, did he just no longer care, or was he intentionally trying to burn a bridge with Charlotte so he wouldn't be tempted to woo her again? The fact that Charlotte and BoJack kiss shortly before only serves to muddy things even more. Bojack comments on this in season 3, admitting he's kidding himself and probably would've gone through with it, and even when he briefly meets up with Penny again, we don't get a straight answer.
- For that matter, when he finds Penny, all she can say is "I didn't know what I was doing," which could either mean that she was too naïve to turn down his advances or too young to know any better than to come on to an older man.
- Ambiguous Syntax: Is Neil McBeal a seal who's in the Navy, or a Navy SEAL?
- In Season 4, Governor Woodchuck Coodchuck-Berkowitz receives hands from a convicted pedophile/murderer.Tom Jumbo-Grumbo: Well, if you gotta murder somebody...
Katrina: No, Tom. Not a pedophile-dash-murderer. A pedophile-slash-murderer!
- In Season 4, Governor Woodchuck Coodchuck-Berkowitz receives hands from a convicted pedophile/murderer.
- Animal Stereotypes: In spades. Every other joke or Funny Background Event in the show shows an animal character stereotypically behaving like their real life non-anthropomorphic counterparts.
- Animation Bump: Not a huge difference, but the AfterEffects puppets, most notably Diane's, have a wider range of expressions than they did in season 1.
- Anti-Climax: The photographers' attempts to blackmail BoJack are built up to be a significant plot arc... only for them to be unable to get in touch with BoJack to actually make their demands. When they finally try contacting his agent, he's switched to Vanessa Gekko, who shuts them down in less than five minutes.
- Anti-Hero: Quite a lot, actually. The main point of the series is to tear down any notion of a completely innocent person involved with show business, charities, agencies, etc. so it stands to reason some of the so-called "heroes" would have some less than savory characteristics.
- BoJack is an abrasive, lazy, bitter older man that resists any attempts to change himself for the better when he can help it. But deep down, especially when he's sober, he's a surprisingly intelligent and thoughtful guy that really does care for the few people he can consider friends.
- Princess Carolyn is a self-involved agent who will not hesitate to throw someone under the train if the person can be used as a scapegoat, not above using dirty tactics to get what she wants or attending funerals to fish some possible clients, but deep down, she's not a bad person. She'll handle you and get you jobs any way she can, even if she's keeping most of the fee and kind of mooching off you. You might call her an heroic Svengali.
- Diane is a writer with a strong sense of morality, a no-nonsense attitude willing to fight for the overlooked, and apologize when she has gone too far. Nevertheless, she'll overstep personal relationships and privacy in her search for the truth embodied in her books, she tries to hype up her sense of worth through stories because of the crushing drudgery of everyday life, and she has an underlying fear that she may be part of the problem instead of the solution, or worse, that her work may not be important in the grand scheme of things.
- Sebastian St. Claire is a Gentleman Adventurer who does charity work partially to feed his own narcissism and partially to shut up the "phantom cries" of the sick and dying that haunt him. That said, he is actually doing some good work, but her inability to reconcile his philanthropy with his egotism is what drives Diane to quit her job as his biographer.
- Anti-Nihilist: As happy as he seems to be, Mr. Peanutbutter believes that the universe is a cruel, uncaring void and that searching for meaning is pointless. The best you can do is to distract yourself from that with enjoying every moment until you die.
- Antiquated Linguistics: The blind executor who presents Herb's disk to the Horsin' Around cast. He soon lampshades this.Executor: Still, Herb thought me wise for some reason. Perhaps it is my overly formal manner of speech. I bid you good day.
- Anyone Remember Pogs?: All of the Funny Background Events in the flashbacks to the '80s, '90s, and 2007. All of them.
- Arc Words: Several per season, and some even carry on through the series depending on the context.
- Season 1:
- "Suck a dick, dumb shits!" starting in "Prickly Muffin" and onwards.
- "Say Anything" has BoJack ask Princess Carolyn "What are we doing?" multiple times.
- Season 2:
- Variations of "You wanted this."
- "What are you doing here?" It originates in the first episode as a line BoJack is given in the Secretariat movie that he repeatedly fails due to his newfound optimism and happiness. It takes until his mother's brutal phone call at the end of the episode for him to speak it with the correct infliction. After that, it reappears all throughout the season. The line also comes up in a season four flashback to when a pregnant Beatrice tracked down Butterscotch.
- Season 4: "Time's arrow neither stands still nor reverses, it merely marches forward." starting in "The Old Sugarman Place". Just "time's arrow" and other references to time are used as well, as the season contains many flashbacks, and a big theme of season 4 is leaving the past behind.
- Season 1:
- Armor-Piercing Question: The Closer's M.O. in episode 7 of season 3.
- Artistic License – History:
- It goes without saying that Secretariat was not Driven to Suicide at the age of 27 after getting caught betting on his own races. In fact, the scene with Secretariat specifically take place in 1973, when the real Secretariat was three years old.
- Nor did Richard Nixon ever made a deal behind curtains with Secretariat to send his brother to 'Nam in his place or had a (possible) illegitimate son who works at the museum. Nor was Checkers his bodyguard.
- And of course, J. D. Salinger really is dead.
- Artistic License – Awards: BoJack wins a Golden Globe for his memoirs. Lampshaded by BoJack himself in that it is neither a comedy or a musical... or even a movie. Bonus points in that BoJack didn't even write his memoirs, they were ghostwritten by Diane.
- Artistic License – Gun Safety: Diane's handling of a pistol in season four is atrocious. It's hard to know how much of this was intentional, given the role firearms play in that episode's plot. She literally doesn't realize she's holding the gun half the time!
- Art Shift: A few.
- The Shout-Out to Peanuts during BoJack's Mushroom Samba.
- During Princess Carolyn's Imagine Spot in "The Shot" It shifts to a Thomas Kinkade-esque style.
- Wanda's jokes are illustrated with still storybook-esque paintings.
- Bojack's internal self-talk in Season 4 is illustrated with simplistic high-speed sketches
- Season 4 features a scene showing Princess Carolyn's ancestors done with cut outs of real cats for the faces
- Asexuality: Todd discovers that he's asexual over the course of the third season. It's hinted at when he repeatedly turns down Emily for sex, clearly terrified at the thought of it, and he all but states it by the season finale.Todd: I'm not gay. I mean, I don't think I am, but... I don't think I am straight, either. I don't know what I am. I think I might be nothing.
- His initial discomfort with the label and eventual embrace of it are dealt with in season four, at the end of which, he enters a romantic relationship with an asexual woman.
- Author Appeal: In-Universe, Sarah Lynn's music video for "Prickly Muffin" (from the episode of the same name) takes place in a planetarium, it makes more sense in "That's Too Much, Man" when it's revealed that she really likes planetariums.
- Bat Deduction: When Todd is helping BoJack sabotage Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter's wedding.Todd: Let's see: Mr. Peanutbutter likes having his tummy scratched, and Diane's family is from Vietnam, which is where Vietnamese food come from, and since that goes in your tummy...
- Bait-and-Switch: In "Still Broken", the once-stars of Horsin' Around are trying to remember the password to Herb's computer, when Joelle has a flashback to her days on the show after Herb was fired, where Herb tells her very clearly that "family is the most important thing". Back in the present, she excitedly remembers the password: password.
- Batman Gambit: Princess Carolyn pulls one off against Vanessa Gekko in "Prickly-Muffin".
- Be Careful What You Wish For: More than once, this is one of BoJack's foibles. For all of his talk about his rotten luck and what could make his life worthwhile, when he does get what he thinks he needs, it's in a way to show why that's not the answer he's looking for. One might argue his life is a constant "expectative-disillutionment" rinse and repeat.
- In his younger days, BoJack would admire Secretariat as a grand figure and wished to be just like him. In present day, BoJack is right on that track...a track of disappointment, depression, false starts and celebrity hollowness just like his hero, who's path lead him to commit suicide. His attitude has changed a lot: now instead of trying to get in, BoJack's desperately trying to get out.
- He wished to be in a normal family, surrounded by loved ones. He got his wish by starring in Horsin' Around, only for his flaws and mistakes turning everyone into individuals as screwed and unhappy as he is and personally partaking in one of them's self destruction and death.
- BoJack's biggest wish was to become famous at any cost, thinking this would earn him appreciation and acceptance from the general public and forgiveness from his parents' part.
- He eventually does after abandoning his best friend Herb Kazzaz after a controversy (who was the one who gave him the job in H. A.) and rejecting a possible happier future with an old flame Charlotte Moore (which leads him to another more horrifying example below), rising and becoming a well known star with tons of money and recognition only to then realize the hollowness of such ideal and how much he has lost with the pursuit of his dream, including his friends, who's appreciation was small but genuine.
- From his parents, he eventually got an apology from his mother, who being a narcissist, uses a Backhanded Apology to assuage her guilt while turning the guilt from her to BoJack for "being broken", which discourages him and returns him to a depressive state after a brief run as an optimist, ironically making him perfect for the role of Secretariat, which clashed with his previous newfound joy.
- He wanted to separate from Princess Carolyn constantly by being a huge jerkass toward her. Once she finally starts dating casually, he realizes how jealous he feels about it. And parting professionally as well, she is unable to tell him about his (possible) illegitimate daughter.
- His dream project was to star in a biopic about Secretariat. He eventually does, only to observe how similar their lives are and how failing to change himself might lead him down the same route.
- His autobiography, which he thought would return him to the spotlight* , includes everything from his deepest fears to his personal secrets with no filter to go around it, presenting him as he is: flawed. Being the self-delusional narcissist he is, BoJack suffers a breakdown.
- After Secretariat faces Executive Meddling after a focus group session gone wrong, BoJack persuades Kelsey, the director, to play a risky gambit involving a crucial (and according to Turtletaub, controversial) scene with Secretariat and Richard Nixon to convince the producers not to change the tone of the movie, instead keeping it gritty. It costs Kelsey her job and ensures the Tone Shift both were trying to avoid in the first place.
- Having separated entirely from Herb, BoJack often wished to reconnect with them as closure. Making his first attempt at redemption with Herb, his actions and selfish desire to be forgiven caused what's left of their friendship to collapse.
- BoJack calls out Abe, Kelsey’s replacement for directing the Secretariat biopic, for his nonchalance about lousy takes and suggests that they do more. Then, under the assumption that Abe is as self-aware of what kind of movie he's making as he is, casually refers to the movie as shit, Abe makes him do as many takes as possible just to spite him.
- And of course, there's Charlotte, the apple of his eye and whose presence has always given BoJack a lifeline to cling to, even after departing from his life with BoJack often wondering what could have been had he decided to follow her to Maine, even daydreaming about it. Once things go sideways with the Secretariat shooting and everything seems to be headed straight to hell, BoJack decides to give it a go and find Charlotte to see if they can mend and start over...together. Once he arrives in New Mexico, BoJack discovers that Charlotte has moved on and is now married, with children and happy. This of course triggers an attempt to replicate his idealized home fantasies by ingratiating himself into her family as a sort of Cool "Honorary" Uncle to the children, which of course leads her to Penny, Charlotte's daughter and splitting image....
- Once she gets to know him, Penny and BoJack become inseparable during the next two months, with BoJack seeing her Like a Daughter to Me while Penny sees him as a Parental Substitute to her more strict and dull parents, since the horse is of the teenager mentality that Cool People Rebel Against Authority. Of course, due to BoJack having an actual immature mind, he can't measure the appropriate consequences of such reckless behavior, fueled by his Hollywoo mentality, which makes him less of a an actual parental figure (the way he wants to think himself of) and more of a budding friend (the way he wants to think himself as, but responsible which he is not), which is a bad combination when a) deep down Penny realizes that he's more of a toxic friend, but because he treats her with the respect normally associated with paternal figures, as an equal contrary to her parents, he can't help but see BoJack as admirable even when he makes the most horrible choices and b) because of such respect as well as her naivety in love, she develops a crush on him that just reeks of Incest Subtext, much to his horror.
- Berserk Button: BoJack really hates honeydew.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: Averted. See Interspecies Romance.
- Big Eater: BoJack. One might say he eats like a horse.
- Big Storm Episode: Season 3's "Old Acquaintance", where most of the episode involves the final day of 2015 and the rainiest. Given that it's a by-design tipping point in the season when things turn to shit, it has shades of A Storm Is Coming.
- Bittersweet Ending: The show is, by design, very anti-catharsis, so every season ends less on a high note as much as a Hope Spot.
- Season 1: BoJack gets a Golden Globe for his memoir and even lands the leading role in his dream movie, though it's clear he's going to have to work even harder to get the fame and happiness he's not even sure he deserves anymore. Everyone on the show still has their problems with no end in sight, but they've all managed to get just a little happier with themselves after everything they've gone through in the first season.
- Season 2 even moreso: BoJack is just barely closer to making the big improvement in his life that he hoped for, his attempted comeback in the Secretariat movie didn't pan out like he'd hoped, he's had a falling out with Wanda and completely burned a bridge with Charlotte, but he's at least made peace with Todd, and he's still willing to work hard to get back in shape and turn his life around. And his look in the final shot shows that he's more determined than ever.
- Season 3 ends with Mr. Peanutbutter on the path to becoming Governor of California after he saves a drowning crew with his strainers, Diane getting a job for a feminist blogging site with a strong implication that she'll end up writing stories about her husband, Todd and Emily settling into becoming Just Friends, and Princess Carolyn in a happy relationship while also considering getting into a career identical to her old one in all but name. BoJack himself just barely gets one: he's driven away practically all of his friends, indirectly kills another, has a panic attack on the first day of his next project and comes dangerously close to committing suicide. But a herd of wild horses running catches his eye at the last minute that inspires him again.
- The ending of season 4 leaves it ambiguous as to whether Bojack has come any closer to forgiving his mother for a lifetime of mistreatment, but at the very least he seems to understand that he missed his chance for a Calling the Old Man Out moment with her forever because she now has dementia, and he chooses instead to take the high road and remind her of happier times. He is not Hollyhock's father, but she has recovered from her overdose, he has done a very selfless thing tracking down her mother for her, and she decides to accept him as her brother. Meanwhile, Mr. Peanutbutter still does not understand Diane's love language and while they still love each other, Diane breaks down in tears, exhausted by the constant exertion required to keep their marriage from falling apart. Princess Carolyn has miscarried again and separated from the first man who has ever treated her with respect, but is encouraged by her friends who tell her she would make a good mother and that she should consider adoption. Todd has decided to embrace the label of asexual and begins a relationship with Yolanda, who is also asexual.
- Black Comedy: The show's is damn near vantablack when it comes to its comedy. Some examples include:
- The series finale of Horsin' Around apparently has BoJack's character dying of a broken heart due to his three adopted orphans not appreciating him enough, who are in turn handed over to the child protective services.BoJack: We might've gone too dark on that series finale.
- Most, if not all, of BoJack's flashbacks to his Abusive Parents:Beatrice Horseman: (dryly) Here's your omelet. (throws it on the table) I'm sorry it's not as good as the omelets your secretary makes, but then you're not married to your secretary, are you?
Butterscotch Horseman: (bitterly) Well, maybe if my secretary also refused to get an abortion, I would be!
(camera pans to reveal a young BoJack sitting at the table)
Young BoJack: Mommy, can I have an omelet?
Beatrice Horseman: You're the birthday boy.
- The series finale of Horsin' Around apparently has BoJack's character dying of a broken heart due to his three adopted orphans not appreciating him enough, who are in turn handed over to the child protective services.
- Black Sheep: Literal example. Diane has a brother who is (literally, taxonomically) a black sheep. Diane herself fits the actual definition of the term.BoJack: So you were the black sheep?
Diane: No, Gary's the black sheep. He's adopted. I'm just the member of the family nobody likes.
- The Blank: Most of the attendees at Beatrice's debutante ball
- Bland-Name Product: Girl Croosh seems to be a hybrid of Buzzfeed and Cosmo.
- Bloody Hilarious: For a satirical Black Comedy about life in Hollywoo(d), blood does surely tends to pop up a lot. When it happens, expect people to either react nonchalant about it or appearing in such a ludicrous and over the top way that it ends coming across as funny.
- Sarah Lynn does it in "Prickly Muffin" when she finds out her boyfriend Andrew Garfield is leaving her. What does she do? Stab herself with some rusty bayonets with some High-Pressure Blood...in order to draw attention from the public to their breakup, precisely what Andrew wanted to avoid.
- During Todd's lockup in prison in "Our A-Story Is A D-Story", one fella tries to calm him down, telling him to stay with him and everything will be fine just in time to be brutally stabbed to death. Multiple times. With quite amazing skills. Todd is left a bit traumatized by the whole thing.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three orphans in Horsin Around.
- Book Ends: Adult Sarah Lynn's first appearance is in a planetarium doing a music video. Her last appearance, also her last moments alive are in a planetarium.
- Additionally, she foretold her death quite accurately and succinctly in her first appearance, predicting that she would surround herself with sycophants and enablers until she died tragically young.
- Mr Peanutbutter & Diane's marriage starts & appears to end with Mr Peanutbutter making a grand showy gesture, the type that Diane hates. When Diane accepts his proposal it turns into a huge surprise party that Diane immediately bails. When Diane breaks down and accepts her marriage is failing, it was because Mr Peanutbutter turned part of their new house into her fantasy "Belle" library, having failed to understand that it was a symbolic fantasy and not literal.
- Boredom Montage: In "Live Fast, Diane Nguyen" when Todd's left home alone in BoJack's house while he goes with Diane to New York and later, to Boston. Also used in "Downer Ending" when BoJack is trying to write a book after firing Diane as his biographer and finds himself with writer's block, using excuses like inexistent noises from Todd and crumbles on the floor.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: With J. D. Salinger.
- Breather Episode:
- After the intense, trippy and heartrending "Downer Ending", "Later" is a lighthearted (for the most part) episode with things going right in BoJack's life and career for once, Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter's wacky shenanigans, and, while ending the season on a melancholy note for our hero, everyone is better off than they were at the start of the season in some way.
- Following suit, Season 2's "Out to Sea" isn't the cheeriest episode ever, but it's far less emotionally devastating than "Escape From LA".
- Season 3's finale "That Went Well" starts out as this, with Bojack agreeing to do the "Horsin' Around" reboot and effectively Passing the Torch to Bradley, but then dives right back into tearjerker territory by the end of the episode.
- Season 4 has "Hooray! A Todd Episode!", which is very needed after the heavy events of "The Old Sugarman Place". To a minor degree, "What Time Is It Right Now" is a darker example than the rest in this list, but it's a light breeze after the dizzy, heartbreaking events of "Time's Arrow".
- Brick Joke: There are very, very few throw-away gags. Nearly everything that happens in the show either comes into play or is somehow relevant in future episodes, most notable being the "Hollywoo" scandal eventually being made into a movie which ends up somehow being turned into a bi-monthly snack basket, which also comes up again later.
BoJack: What? ...Oh! Wow, that is... actually a really good joke.
- In the second episode there's a joke about getting drugs at a Halloween party from some guy named "Doctor Who". In the second to last episode, when BoJack needs drugs, he gets to meet Dr. Hu in person.
- "After the Party" actually references the Trope Namer with a two-part joke told by Wanda. The first part involves a farmer who always knows the exact amount of mulch for a job, but ends up with a left-over bag of mulch once, and throws it off a highway. The joke seemingly ends there, leaving BoJack underwhelmed by the payoff. Later, she tells an apparently unrelated joke about a woman sending an old love letter to an ex-boyfriend of hers, which worries her current boyfriend. Her boyfriend drops her home but then realises that there's a presence from the backseat of the car. He checks, and finds... the bag of mulch from the first story. The punchline connecting the two jokes encourages BoJack to have patience in their relationship, because some things are only understood with time.
Wanda: I told you! Some things take time.
- The spaghetti-strainer subplot that spans the entirety of Season 3. Lampshaded in episode 7.Mr. Peanutbutter: I figure the longer they're there, the bigger the payoff. And they've been sitting there for months now. So you can bet the payoff's gonna be pretty huge.
- Also in Season 3, "Halloween in January" is apparently still unlocked and allows people to enter.
- Season 2 has "QueefBurglar69" act as "leader" on a web forum discussing how much they hate Bojack on "Let's Find Out" — and he's one of the cited reviews for "Cabracadabra" in Season 3.
- British Brevity: A Transatlantic Equivalent version. A normal season of BoJack Horseman (excluding the Christmas Episode) lasts around 12 30-minutes episodes, normal for a regular season of a TV drama, unusual for an animated series whose seasons last around 22 episodes. On top of that, its number of episodes is short even for an adult cartoon* , yet probably too long for British Television. However, since it evokes this trope in spirit, it counts as an example.
- Butt-Monkey: Oh, boy. And keeping with the tone, it's less the ones at the top of the system who'd often deserve but rather the people lower at the totem pole who suffer the misfortune of getting the short end of the stick.
- Todd seems to get this the worst, often being involved in side plots that have little to do with the main episode's conflict, which never get noticed by the main cast as he's usually managed to dig himself out by episode's end.
- BoJack, as well. Part of his character is to feel miserable and find that every way out of it (or at least, those known as cliches to escape the sinking feeling: y'know, temporary solutions) are just ways of avoiding it instead of confronting it directly. He's been humiliated, corrected, called out on everything he's ever done, used by people, etc. Practically, he hardly ever wins and when he does, he often wonders if it was worth it.
- Butch Lesbian:
- Kelsey Jannings. Of course, it only comes out of her mouth when she asks Diane if she's "[her] ex-wife's lawyer" but otherwise, she fits the look, if not attitude.
- Karen, one half of the lesbian soon-to-be-wed couple in "Love And/Or Marriage".
C — D
- In "The BoJack Horseman show", Todd states he loves shimmying. He later says this again when he has to leave Princess Carolyn's apartment in "After the Party."
- A Funny Background Event has the same person wearing a Rubik's Cube to sell them in the '80s appearing in the same spot advertising home loans (while wearing a house costume) 20 years later during the respective Generic Song from that decade.
- In season one's "Say Anything" Princess Carolyn tells herself "You've got to get your shit together." In season four, this line is repeated by Todd after her grief over her miscarriages, breakup, and business failures leave her an incompetent alcoholic
- Herb's season one nurse, Tina, is Beatrice Horseman's nurse in season four
- In season theee, Princess Carolyn goes on a date with an albino rhino gyno wine addict. In season four, she and Ralph are visiting him about her fertility issues
- The Cameo:
- Camp Straight: Rutabaga Rabitowitz.
- Cast Incest: In-Universe, with BoJack sleeping with Sarah Lynn, who played his adopted daughter on Horsin' Around. Everyone else is squicked out by this.
- In Horsin' Around, Sara Lynn had "That's too much, man!" Ethan had "Yowza, Yowza, Bo-Bowza!" which wasn't very well-liked by fans. The cast also says "Goober go home" whenever they see Goober. The Horse has "I've heard of X, but this is ridiculous," which sometimes makes no sense.
- As a drug-addled adult, Sarah Lynn, the actress who played Sabrina in Horsin' Around, comes up with a new one, which caught on with some of the other characters — "suck a dick, dumb shits!"
- Todd has a tendency to say "Hooray!" a lot.
- Princess Carolyn says "Fish!" when something goes wrong.
- Cats Are Mean: By the end of season 2 there have been four named cat characters. One's a scheming pragmatic but good-natured talent agent, one's an egocentric philanthropist who only helps chaotic nations to make himself look good, another runs an improv cult for all but explicit nefarious purposes, and one's a "Loose Cannon [cop] who follows his own rules". It's exceedingly well Zig-Zagged but going by the numbers there's a 50-75% chance that if a cat shows up they're going to be mean.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: A Central Theme of the show is how self-destructive and ultimately meaningless being successful in Hollywoo(d) is. BoJack, for instance, wanted to be famous. He got it. However, to do it, he has to make all kinds of terrible decisions, most of which involve screwing over his friends, intentionally or subconsciously, to the point that he destroys all of his close relationships.
- Cerebus Retcon: During his interview at the start of the very first episode, BoJack makes an offhand comment about how Horsin' Around "isn't Ibsen", apparently to express the fact that it was never meant to be highbrow entertainment. In Season 2, we learn that his mother made the exact same comment after watching the taping of an episode, barely even trying to conceal her disappointment with her son's career.
- Cerebus Rollercoaster:
- While season 2 is no less depressing than the first, there are significantly more gags and episodes with happy endings.
- Season 4 features some incredible silly story arcs such as getting stuck underground, but there's some very dark episodes revolving around Bojack's family history and Princess Carolyn. Then after all that, the ending of the season is surprisingly optimistic. For Bojack at least.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Around the third or fourth episode, the show takes on a darker, more melancholy tone, not that it was all sunshine and smiles to begin with. The rest of the way, almost every episode is sadder and darker than the one before.
- The Chain of Harm: One of themes of the show. Many of the characters, especially BoJack himself, are struggling with severe feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing leading to bouts of self-destructive behavior as they take their unhappiness and dysfunctions out on each other. It is later made clear that these problems are results of unhappy childhoods at the hands of abusive parents, but even there, the show takes it a step further in the case of BoJack himself, by showing that his mother's abusive behavior is also a result of an incredibly screwed-up childhood, meaning that many of his problems can, in a way, be traced all the way back to his grandparents, and quite possibly even further back, were we ever to get a glimpse into their backstories.
- Character Development: Quite a lot, over the course of the show. BoJack slowly, but steadily opens up about his problems, Todd tries to make something of himself and learns to take more risks as opposed to being a shut-in roommate, Princess Carolyn becomes more practical and savvy, while using her sharpened business skills to help BoJack get his career going, Mr. Peanutbutter's underlying darker outlook becomes more apparent, and Diane starts to come out of her meeker shell.
- Chekhov's Gag: Early in season 3, BoJack mentions that his many one night stands have lead to him footing the bill for multiple abortions, then wonders if some of them were only using that as an excuse for money. Come the end of season 3, we learn of a teenage girl who is trying to get in contact with him, and looks very much like him...
- Chekhov's Gun: Quite a lot. This isn't a show that forgets any details.
- Spanning the entire first season is Secretariat's biography, on which Diane was ghost-writer: it first sets up the plot when BoJack agrees to meet (then hire) Diane, and comes back to wrap up the first season when BoJack finds it lying around, pushing him into getting the movie made and finally act in his dream role.
- Another one is set up in the first episode of Season 2: Turteltaub has a CGI replica of BoJack created so that in case something happens to BoJack before they wrap up Secretariat, they can finish the film. When BoJack bails on the film during "Escape From L.A.", Turteltaub has the aptly-named 'Computer BoJack' wrap up the scenes Real BoJack had yet to shoot, and ended up liking the new footage so much they even replaced all the scenes already shot with the computer duplicate.
- In the third episode of Season 2, Charlotte gives BoJack her calling card with her address on it at Herb's funeral, telling him he can visit her in New Mexico at some point. He's later seen looking at the card in the next episode, and much later in "Yes And" (the tenth), when things get too hectic in L.A. for him to handle, he leaves to visit her in New Mexico, setting up the events of "Escape from L.A.". By the time that episode ends, Charlotte may come to regret giving him that card.
- Season Two also had Princess Carolyn's sub-plot, where she struck up an affair and business-partnership with Rutabaga after he started going through his divorce. Because of that, though, he'd filed all the paperwork for their business in her name, which bites him hard in the season finale.
- Lampshaded and parodied in season 3. Mr. Peanutbutter purchases an entire stock of strainers for a crazy scheme that never gets off the ground. We see boxes of strainers sit in his home throughout the season, literally doing nothing but take up space. Halfway through the season he even admits he can't remember why he bought them, but just knows there will be a huge payoff for having them for so long. They're finally used in the last episode in a convoluted plan to save Pacific Ocean City from a giant mass of spaghetti.
- More seriously, in season 3: In the third episode, BoJack discovers a mix of heroin is being sold that is called "BoJack" and branded with what is apparently his likeness. In the dealer's hideout, the words "BoJack Kills" are scrawled on the wall. Much later, in episode 11, BoJack encourages Sarah Lynn to break her sobriety and go on an epic bender with him. Toward the end of their months-long drug and alcohol binge, Sarah Lynn discovers a bag of BoJack heroin, which BoJack happily agrees to do with her... and it is the final escalation of drug use that leads her to overdose.
- In season 4, the coffee Beatrice makes for Hollyhock
- Chekhov's Gunman: The jogger seen running past BoJack's house every morning. He gives BoJack some words of encouragement at the end of Season 2.
- Christmas Special: A Christmas episode was released December of 2014 which involves BoJack and Todd watching a Horsin' Around Christmas special.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Laura, Princess Carolyn's assistant from Season 1 is completely absent from Season 2. She reappears in Season 3's "Old Acquaintance", where it's revealed she took another job working indirectly for David Pincher.
- Church of Happyology: In "Yes And," Todd joins an improv cult that is a thinly veiled satire on Scientology. Todd is about to join Scientology before choosing Improv. BoJack says that he knows a thing or two about cults from the year that he was a Scientologist... because he happened to read a book about cults that year, saying"Scientology is not a cult, improv is a cult. I want to be very clear... this is about improv. And after BoJack rescues Todd from the improv cult, he gets some unrelated inspiring words from a jogger who happens to be voiced by Jason Beghe, an outspoken former Scientologist and one of the main interviewees of the Going Clear documentary.
- Season Two ends on one for BoJack, as Jill Pill was apparently a writer for another show he'd been on, and still wanted to cast him in a stage production.
- Season Three also ends with the reveal that Bojack has an apparent illegitimate daughter trying to get in contact with him. Diane gets a job at a feminist blog, Mr. Peanutbutter gets the chance to run for governor, Princess Carolyn re-opens VIM as a manager instead of an agent and Todd re encounters his Love Interest and comes out as Asexual. Meanwhile Bojack himself has ran out of the Ethan Around production, drove out of California and apparently attempts to commit suicide by letting go of his steering wheel while driving at high speeds only to be stopped by the sight of a herd of running horses, which seems to oddly comfort him.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Both Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter fall into this.
- Clue, Evidence, and a Smoking Gun: Mr. Peanutbutter confronts BoJack about stealing the 'D' from the Hollywood sign, and BoJack asks him how he figured it out. Mr. Peanutbutter sarcastically says that he followed the clues, used deduction, puzzle solving, forensics...oh, and he listened to the voice mail BoJack left him telling him that he did it.
- Gets a Call-Back in "Let's Find Out," when Mr. Peanutbutter says that he knows BoJack kissed Diane after they got engaged. He found this out by watching the footage from roadside cameras, asking friends on highway patrol... and she told him.
- Comically Missing the Point: After delivering a "Reason You Suck" Speech to a blonde in a bar (lambasting her for thinking she can behave poorly just because she's pretty), she fixates on "You think I'm pretty?" BoJack defeats his own point by taking her home.
- Comically Small Demand: How much do the paparazzos' demand in order to prevent the photos from leaking? $150. Each.
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Vincent Adultman who works at the business factory and is definitely not three kids stacked under a trenchcoat. Note that the show never actually shows him as three kids in a trench coat, so it could be possible that he really is a very baby faced, childish grown man with an identical son. Given the nature of the show, its equally likely.
- Continuity Creep: While the series in itself has always proved to rely on Call Backs, Continuity Nods and an extremely playful slam toward stasis within animated series, at the beginning it wasn't such clear cut with several episodes, especially the first 3 of season 1 having standalone plots and isolated punchlines without carryover or consequence in the next one, other than being used as World Building and showcasing supporting characters and one-shots. However, once everyone's Story Arc, as well as the main Myth Arc was kickstarted, every episode slowly added elements that boiled over each other, with each succeeding episode being a continuation: irrelevant cameos become major plot points, characters return within seasons, Running Gags abound and each innocuous action that would normally be brushed over has consequences. Long term consequences.
- Continuity Nod: All over the place.
- After "Our A Story is a D Story", everyone refers to the area as Hollywoo.
- The first part of the opening credits change constantly as characters arrive and leave from BoJack's life. In the last two episodes of the third season, he's all alone.
- Furniture damage stays from episode to episode, such as Sarah Lynn burning the ottoman.
- In "Hank After Dark" Todd is shown still having his "Latin Kings" and "Skin Heads" tattoos from when he was in prison in "Our A Story is a D Story".
- Country Matters: Joelle calls Sarah-Lynn one, but then excuses it by pointing out that it's acceptable slang in Britain (even though she's not actually British).
- In "Hank After Dark" Diane misreads an angry letter to her.Diane: (reading letter) "You can't, you stupid ugly can't."
Mr. Peanutbutter: That doesn't say "can't".
Diane: Oh, my god.
- In "Hank After Dark" Diane misreads an angry letter to her.
- Critical Dissonance: In-universe. Horsin' Around was panned by critics, but popular enough to last nine seasons. It doesn't seem to have stood the test of time, though, because almost everyone who remembers it thinks it sucks. Bojack always feels compelled to defend it.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right:
Todd: Character actress Margo Martindale? I know her. But how? Wait... she was at the convenience store on the night I bought that video game and ruined my rock opera! She's the one who asked me to hand her that tape from the ten cent bin. (Gasp!) That means... Margo Martindale likes tapes! And a tape is something you listen to, but tape is also a sticky thing you can use to seal boxes! Boxes is what cereal comes in!
- Instead of the much easier solution of Todd finding the receipt under the couch that would directly tip him off about BoJack causing his rock opera to fail, he sees a newscast that Character Actress Margo Martindale was arrested on TV. Then this happens:
(Gilligan Cut to Todd standing in front of a wall with jumbled papers strung up on the walls and connected by string)
Todd: What does it all mean? Am I just grasping at straws?— wait. Straws. That's it! Straws are used to drink soda, or water, and plants need water. And BoJack used Margo Martindale as a plant at the bank — and the convenience store! Which means BoJack hired Margo Martindale to make me find that video game so he could kill my rock opera! Aw dude...
- Which borders on Bat Deduction (similar to the South Park example involving Jeff Goldblum).
- Another example in "Yesterdayland". After a cease-and-desist is brought against him due to naming his theme park "Todd's Disneyland" Todd states that maybe Walt Disney trademarked the wrong name. He's right. Due to a typo, Walt Disney trademarked "Diisneyland" instead, and Todd wins his case.
- Curse Cut Short: BoJack Horseman as a show isn't afraid to let curses fly, but the creators have a self-imposed 1 Precision F-Strike per season rule for the sake of impact. This was invoked in season 3 to preserve that, but ultimately zigzagged.Doctor: Oh, you didn't know? You're pregnant.Diane: MOTHERF— [cue credits][start next episode]Diane: —UCKER!
- Cutaway Gag: Indulges in these in several episodes, though unlike most examples, they serve a purpose most of the time, rather than being for a quick one-off gag. Specifically, to explain how certain episodes start in the middle of a bad situation, or to provide bleak flashbacks of BoJack's history.
- Daddy DNA Test: Hollyhock gets one of these done to determine whether or not Bojack is her biological father. Eventually subverted - the test shows they're related, but after doing some digging, Bojack finds that Hollyhock is the result of his father having an affair with his maid.
- Dark Reprise:
"Back in '07, I was in an unsuccessful TV show..."
- A very subtle example in "Escape from LA". As BoJack leaves New Mexico, a variation of the main theme plays which is a bit slower, and has the instruments slightly clearer in the mix to make them louder.
- The end credits for Whole Episode Flashback "The BoJack Horseman Show" features rewritten lyrics.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Princess Carolyn said she walked in on BoJack masturbating to a picture of himself. BoJack reminds her that he wasn't masturbating to the picture, but to what the picture represented.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Beatrice and Butterscotch's courtship. She briefly seemed to hit it off with the man her father intended for her to marry, but was impregnated by Butterscotch and instead chose to run away with him to California
- A Day in the Limelight: While the series' main focus is Bojack, starting midway through the first season and continuing into the rest of the series, the scope has expanded towards the rest of the main cast.
- Princess Carolyn's focus episode is "Say Anything"note in season 1, part of "The Shot" in season 2 and she even gets a major subplot in the 2nd season ("Still Broken", "After The Party", "Higher Love", "Yes And...", "Out To Sea"), continuing through the 3rd season with specific episodes being "The BoJack Horseman Show", "Love And/Or Marriage", "Brrap Brrap Pew Pew", "Old Acquaintance", "Best Thing That Ever Happened", "It's You" and "That Went Well". Season 4 adds "Ruthie" and "Thoughts and Prayers" to this list.
- Diane's are "Live Fast, Diane Nguyen" in season 1, "After The Party", "Chickens", "Hank After Dark", "The Shot", "Yes And..." and "Out To Sea" in season 2; "The BoJack Horseman Show", "BoJack Kills", "Love And/Or Marriage", "Brrap Brrap Pew Pew", "Old Acquaintance", "It's You" and "That Went Well" in season 3; "See Mr. Peanutbutter Run" in season 4.
- Mr. Peanutbutter has "Higher Love" and "Let's Find Out" in season 2; "Start Spreading The News", "The BoJack Horseman Show", "BoJack Kills", "Love And/Or Marriage", "Brrap Brrap Pew Pew", "Old Acquaintance" and "That Went Well" in season 3; "See Mr. Peanutbutter Run" in season 4.
- And last, (and least,) the Todd centric-episodes are "Zoes And Zeldas" in season 1 and "Chickens", "Yes And" and "Out to Sea" in season 2, "The BoJack Horseman Show", "BoJack Kills", "Love And/Or Marriage", "Stop The Presses", "Old Acquaintance", "It's You" and "That Went Well" in season 3, and the appropriately named "Hooray! Todd Episode!" in season 4.
- Bojack's mother Beatrice has "The Old Sugarman Place" and "Time's Arrow" in season 4. Although she shares the spotlight with Bojack in the former, the latter is a Whole Episode Flashback to her childhood.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- BoJack displays this, especially when dealing with the likes of Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter. Princess Carolyn has this by default.
- Beatrice Horseman (BoJack's mom) was almost nothing but this. You wonder where he gets it from.
- Kelsey Jannings seems to be in a class all her own.
- Deconstructed Character Archetype: On par with the deconstruction turn, characters are given a more revisionist, cynical flip. These are so numerous that needed their own page.
- Deconstructed Trope: From simple premises to complex takes on situations, this series doesn't leave anything unscathed. Over here, please.
- Deconstruction: Arguably of the stereotypes of western adult animation, especially Family Guy. BoJack is clearly made out to be a jerk, to both the audience and the other characters, who not only gets exactly what he deserves as a result but is fully aware and wants to make something better of himself, rarely ever doing so. And if he unlearns something important, something terrible happens as a result. It also takes a huge sledgehammer to the status quo and doesn't waste a single plot point.
- Deconstructor Fleet:
- BoJack Horseman doesn't just take all of the Sitcom tropes, including the ones involving Status Quo Is God almost all of recent animated series love to run with, it goes completely overboard and crushes every single conception popularized by the media, essentially pointing out how Real Life is not like fiction makes it out to be. Often overlapping with Deconstructive Parody, one of its main propositions is what every single staple of a TV show would be if they were willing to dig a little deeper:
- The main character, BoJack Horseman, isn't an easily likable person. He's narcissistic, self-loathing, a perpetual alcoholic, treats his supposed friends like shit (yet still keeps them out of a sense of loneliness), and is quite a depressive influence around everybody. Normally, the series would give us a sense of how in spite of that, he can a be good person underneath; while it does show that, it becomes clearer that the good and bad parts of BoJack are not different, but may actually come from the same attributes; there's no easy goodness, just a screwed-up complex character who increasingly starts to reveal some dark explanations about why he has become this way and how that still won't excuse him from screwing his, and others', lives up.
- The other main characters are not functional either: Princess Carolyn is a successful agent who dedicates her life to her work and is The Chessmaster and The Face of the group, this because she has no life or relationship outside work and is constantly shown to be deeply resentful of that fact; Diane is BoJack's ghostwriter who often imposes writing a great non-fiction novel above everything, despite that she often uses her novels as form of Surrogate Soliloquy to give her statements a gravitas and importance she feels she doesn't have otherwise; Mr. Peanutbutter is a cheerful Labrador who headlocks into every project headed his way and is enough of a Nice Guy to try to cheer up everybody he encounters, only later is revealed that this is because of a deep rooted fear of death and wasting life as he starts to grasp his own mortality; Todd is basically a slacker living with BoJack who's revealed to be actually intelligent and resourceful, his fame as a slacker being a result from having wasted opportunities given to him, horrible bad luck and a constant dose of hits towards his self-esteem making him convinced that he can't do anything right no matter how hard he tries.
- These aforementioned True Companions are placed in an alternate version of Hollywoo where animals and humans coexist. Normally, such worlds try to overstep the Carnivore Confusion resulting from this. Not this one, no sir. In order, we're told that specifically selected animals are bred to be dumbed down to minimal intelligence, fattened and eaten, while the others are raised normally with every single opportunity. To say that people don't see this as a problem and are quite accommodated to such information is an Understatement, the tropes What Measure Is a Non-Human? and Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better are taken to its logical conclusion by making both humans and animals willing to be personal butchers or distance themselves from the massacre by killing by mass production and through legal means. Without doubt, one of the most realistic and nightmarish explanations of why and how their world (and by extension, ours) can conform to this dissonance in Real Life.
- While some things are left intact for the sake of maintaining continuity, the majority of cliches, common television tropes, sitcom and gender archetypes and anything that may cause a Snap Back is subverted, deconstructed, averted or/and played so straight it falls apart. Someone has a crush on a woman in a committed relationship? It's a one sided thing that's not even based on real love, just a shadow of itself. There's a secret that must be kept under wraps? It will pop up eventually and it most likely will hurt someone. A person commits a horrible action and is Easily Forgiven? No, there will be consequences, really bad consequences awaiting for him/her and if for some reason he/she is still Easily Forgiven, chances are his/her situation will collapse at the worst possible moment.
- Defcon Five: Tom Jumbo-Grumbo gets this wrong while reporting on the stolen 'D' in "Our A Story is a D Story" saying that "all of Tinseltown is in defcon five" when he should have said "defcon one."
- Defrosting Ice Queen:
- BoJack is a male example of this in season 1, especially towards Diane, whose job consists of uncovering his past and real self by writing a biography about him.
- Kelsey Jannings, the director of the Secretariat film, towards BoJack in the 2nd season, but her getting fired makes this a moot point.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Herb getting blacklisted from his own series after being exposed as homosexual. Unfortunately Truth in Television even in the 1990s.
- Beatrice's father's attitudes on women are fitting of the 1940s
- Beatrice's obsession with thiness isn't too farr of, as it the 40's-60's had an obsession with women and girls being thin as can be seen by some rather sexist ads from the time. This ends up badly in the present as Beatrice in her dementia-induced state puts diet pills in Hollyhock's coffe
- Determined Defeatist: BoJack's a particularly standout example, but nearly all of the cast believe their lives are never going to change, despite their efforts to do better. A major theme is that no matter how hard life is, and how fleeting moments of genuine happiness are, friends can share their burdens, and that trying in of itself day-by-day will ultimately make life better.
- Development Hell:
- In universe, the Secretariat biopic has been in talks for decades. Big name Hollywoo producers and directors want to make it happen, but the project is practically cursed.
- Princess Carolyn was in the process of making a movie based on the life of Eva Braun but it never got off the ground. She later sabotages the production when Vanessa Gekko takes over.
- Dirty Old Man: BoJack, as he's 50 years old but still sleeping with women half his age. Even his standards are put to the test when Charlotte's 17 year-old daughter Penny makes advances on him.
- Despair Event Horizon: After failing at both feminist activism in America and helping refugees in Cordova, Diane winds up crashing at BoJack's place for months, constantly drunk and filthy and thoroughly angry at the world.
- In season 4, Princess Carolyn becomes an alcoholic after having a fifth miscarriage and breaking up with Ralph.
- Disappointed in You: Not in those exact words, but it comes across the same.BoJack: You know what your problem is? You think you're so much smarter than everybody. Well, guess what? I spent as much time with you as you did with me. Why don't I write a book about how you married Mr. Peanutbutter because he's too dumb to see how much better you think you are?Diane: Okay, I know you're upset—BoJack: I'm not upset, I'm just sick of nerd-girls like you beating up on stars like me. It's pathetic! I'm sorry no one wanted to date you in high school, Diane. But I don't see why I have to suffer just because you were never especially pretty or interesting.Diane:...You really let me down, BoJack.
- Disaster Dominoes: Several of BoJack's actions in season 3 contribute to a major disaster near the end. To wit, he gives his boat away to Character Actress Margo Martindale as a getaway vehicle, accidentally insults an Italian waiter (who quits and vows to create his own restaurant), and succesfully pushes for an ad campaign that uses reflective surfaces on everything, including billboards and blimps. All of this culminates in Martindale playing chicken with a cargo ship filled with spagehtti for the Italian waiter's new restaurant. The ships crash, which leads to all the spaghetti getting dumped into the ocean, which is then heated up thanks to the sun being reflected off a blimp still using the reflective ad. This spaghetti then sinks into the ocean, threatening to crush Pacific Ocean City. If only there were someone with a huge quantity of strainers...
- Dogs Are Dumb: Mr. Peanutbutter.
- Dog Stereotype: Mr. Peanutbutter is a Labrador Retriever, and is thus incredibly nice (if a bit dim and has his moments of being Innocently Insensitive), light hearted and he has a very short attention span.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The discussion between Sabrina and BoJack about Santa at the end of the Horsin' Around Christmas Special is clearly analogous to one about the existence of God, complete with BoJack claiming at first that "Santa works In Mysterious Ways" before finally admitting that Santa isn't real and that people should be good to be good and not because someone will reward them for it.
- Don't Explain the Joke: BoJack's main reason for failing as a stand-up comic in the eighties was him always ending his jokes with "get it?" and then explaining the joke. He also has a tendency of doing this in everyday conversations. He's apparently done this since he was at least nine years old, since his fan letter to Secretariat had a whole page explaining a lame horse pun he wrote in it.
- Interviewer: Do you get it? Do you get my joke about the track? Okay, there's a whole page of this.
- Lenny Turtletaub has a tendency to do this when elaborating on "By X, I mean Y" ("by 'kid', I mean 'middle-aged adult'").
- Don't Look at Me!: BoJack yells this and insists that he's well adjusted when everyone is laughing at him after Diane leaks part of his biography behind his back.
- Downer Beginning: The opening scene of season 2 is a flashback with BoJack's Abusive Parents, him tuning them out with the Secretariat interview from the season 1 finale.
- Downer Ending:
- In-universe: the series finale of Horsin' Around ended with BoJack's character dying of a broken heart, and the children getting taken in by the child services. BoJack remarks that they might have gone a little too dark with it.
- Discussed in Episode 11, which is fittingly titled "Downer Ending". While devising a new ending for his memoirs, BoJack suggests one where he commits suicide as an elderly horse by going for one last swim and letting the water take him under, to which Todd remarks "downer ending!" The episode itself also has a tragically sad ending: BoJack attends a live ghostwriter conference to see Diane, telling her he regrets everything and is sorry for initially rejecting her copy of the memoirs, before breaking down and pleading for her to tell him that he’s a good person. Which she is unable to do.
- "Hank After Dark" — Hank, who has sexually abused eight of his assistants, gets away with it and the news is more outraged by Kanye West hating thin mints, and the misogyny that Diane is faced with throughout the episode gets capped off with a guy telling her to smile.
- "Let's Find Out" — Although it's a darkly hilarious example, the ending still counts. Despite having the chance to raise up the money earned to a million that would be donated for charity, BoJack, after having been humiliated in television, loses on purpose as a final middle finger to everyone in the show (guest star Daniel Radcliffe especially), causing a major Downer Ending In-Universe, exactly the thing everyone in production was trying to avoid.
- As per tradition, the eleventh episode of the second season continues this trend with "Escape From L.A." when BoJack destroys any relationship he had left with Charlotte by inappropriately kissing her, then attempting to have sex with her teenage daughter Penny.
- Season 3 continues the eleventh-episode theme with "That's Too Much, Man!" After breaking a nine-month streak of sobriety to go on a months-long bender with BoJack, Sarah Lynn discovers that she won an Oscar for one of her songs that was featured in a movie that year. BoJack decides to take her to a planetarium, which she'd mentioned she enjoys previously in the episode, where she quietly murmurs "I wanna be an architect" before drifting off and dying in her sleep, cozied up to Bojack.
- Dramedy: The show is a rare slow build-up, zigzagging case. It starts out as a simple Slice of Life Cliché Storm with dark elements around the edges. Around the end of the 3rd episode, the show, BoJack and everything around it slowly start being deconstructed, to the point that eventually everything from that point onwards becomes a dark look into existential despair.
- Dr. Feelgood: Dr. Hu provides Sarah Lynn with drugs. Not to be confused with Doctor Who... or Dr. Quinn, for that matter.
- Dueling Shows: In universe, Mr. Peanutbutter's Mr. Peanutbutter's House vs. BoJack's Horsin' Around. BoJack never misses an opportunity to tell anyone he's with that Mr. Peanutbutter's show is a rip off of his.
- Dude, Not Funny!: An In-Universe case. After his disastrous visit to Herb's, Diane tries to lighten the mood of the very awkward drive back by saying that at least he'll have a fun story to tell at Herb's funeral. It's enough to make BoJack pull over to cry.
- Dumb Blonde: Mr. Peanutbutter has moments like this. Also a one-off girl BoJack picks up at a bar in episode 2.
E — K
- Early-Bird Cameo: One of Ayako's coworkers is apparently targeting a blue-jay, who shows up later as one of the two guys trying to blackmail BoJack. Considering how much he and his partner were asking for, perhaps it's not surprising that he fell for the scam.
- In "Zoes and Zeldas", when Todd mentions how his video game addiction led to his girlfriend leaving him, we get a brief shot of her◊. His girlfriend, Emily, becomes an important character in Season 3.
- Hollyhock makes brief appearance in the third season finale and plays a much bigger role in the fourth season.
- The "Albino-Rhino-Gyno" first appears as a failed date with Princess Carolyn in season three's "Love And/Or Marriage", in season four he returns as her gynecologist when she and Ralph attempt to conceive a child.
- Early Installment Weirdness: In general, the first episodes are a lot more lighthearted than the pitch-black comedy the show would eventually become. This is partially why the initially critical response initially wrote it off as just another Family Guy wannabe.
- For one thing, there's an abundance of cutaway gags, something that would quickly be phased out in the middle of the first season.
- Bojack and Princess Carolyn are still dating. They break up halfway through the season and it's only occasionally alluded to in future episodes to emphasize their growing isolation from one another.
- Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane are not part of the main group yet, with the former making a brief appearance during Bojack and Princess Carolyn's first of many break-ups and at the end when he attends the party at Bojack's and reveals himself to be Diane's boyfriend; and the latter appearing near the end of the episode.
- The pilot episode has Mr. Peanutbutter passive-aggressively tease and torment Bojack, which is at odds with his innocently clueless personality in subsequent episodes.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Both how season one ends and a major theme of the show. The last words said in the season two finale put it best.Jogger: It gets easier.BoJack: Huh?Jogger: Every day, it gets a little easier.BoJack: Yeah?Jogger: But you gotta do it every day. That's the hard part. But it does get easier.BoJack: Okay.
- Easy Come, Easy Go: Todd helps create a successful startup and eventually sells it off for eight million dollars. In the very next scene, he celebrates by having lunch at a diner and accidentally tips the waitress eight million dollars. Even when he's made aware of this, he just laughs it off.
- Establishing Character Moment: Everyone of the main cast (and even some of the recurring characters) get this:
- Bojack's first actions on screen after being announced on The Charlie Rose Show, as established above, pretty much tell you all you need to know about him. To elaborate, he enters the studio drunk and not giving a shit, reflecting his failure stance; then, begins talking about the show only to come around back to him, showing his narcissism and finally procedes to try to pretend he's doing a good job at the interview, showing his insecurities and need for acceptance. Finally, when Charlie asks him what has he been doing since the show ended, Bojack fails to come up with an answer, proving that he's stuck in his past and hasn't moved forward, and as the series progresses, how much is he at a loss of how to do it.
- Princess Carolyn's first onscreen appearance is on a Flashback, wanting to break with Bojack while he's completely not paying attention, portraying them as incompatible, with Princess Carolyn putting in most of the work, showing her as a pretty devoted, but uncorresponded romantic partner. Later, when they do break up, Princess Carolyn call him in a friendly tone as his agent, despite the rude treatment Bojack shove her way, showing her as professional and pragmatic. Then, it turns out Bojack's one of her less remunerative clients, again confusing love with work.
- Diane's first onscreen apparance is almost unstated, with her coming out behind Bojack during the party, showing her as ''different'' to the rest of Hollywood. The distance and brief talk between her and Bojack show them becoming pretty intimate with each other, with Bojack being able to open up a little. Then we discover that she's Mr. Peanutbutter's girlfriend, highlighting her odd choice of men and becoming the unobtainable for Bojack. Yet, despite hearing Bojack insult Mr. Peanutbutter, she never once calls him out, proving her to be very patient. Plus, she Wrote the Book about Secretariat, Bojack's childhood hero.
- Mr. Peanutbutter doesn't have many appearances in this episode, but enough to to get shades of his character: He interrupts Bojack and Princess Carolyn's breakup by saluting them and then, trying to bond with Bojack and failing because of the latter's despise of the former, while remaining a friendly figure. Then, we find out that he starred in a similar Sitcom at the same time and with the same premise as Bojack, despite looking younger. And he's Diane's boyfriend. Talk about Opposites Attract.
- Todd doesn't do much besides hanging around Bojack's house and mooching off, yet has a high opinion of Bojack and clearly loves him, despite Bojack's dismissal of him. He seems perfectly content with who he is, while being the butt of the joke at every turn.
- Lenny Turtletaub first appears in the restaurant where Princess Carolyn and Bojack are dining with two women, as his status as a top producer becomes evident and his attitude of showing off his wealth. Princess Carolyn mentions him, as they know each other.
- Et Tu, Brute?: When Herb was outed as gay, he fully expected the friends he made in Tinseltown to turn on him. What he didn't expect was for his best friend BoJack to not only fail to stand up for him, but also fall out of contact with him for 20 years. Needless to say, when they finally meet up again, Herb lets him have it.
- Everyone Owns A Mac: Every time a character is seen using a mobile phone, it's an iPhone. Except for Wanda.
- Everything Is an Instrument: Patrick Carney of The Black Keys, the composer of the opening theme, explained to Song Exploder that the sweeping chords that open the theme song is Pro Tools' built-in metronome being thrown through a Roland Jupiter-4 keyboard.
- Executive Meddling: In-universe with the Secretariat biopic in season 2. It starts out with the studio vetoing a scene involving Secretariat and Richard Nixon, but then just turns the movie into Secretariat being more of a hero to the lower class and ignoring his suicide by having him go "swimming with Susie Side."
- Expository Theme Song:
- The closing theme. "Back in the '90s, I was in a very famous TV show..." The theme even changes on key episodes, to describe Princess Carolyn or to describe a failed series BoJack starred in during the early 2000s.
- An In-Universe example with Horsin' Around's theme tune: "Three little orphans, one, two, three/Without a home or a family tree/Until this horse said "Come live with me!"
- "Horsin' Around" is clearly modeled after Full House. The retrospective that opens the first episode is taken almost word-for-word from a documentary about Bob Saget. Sarah Lynn is a stand-in for the Olsen twins (with a bit of Britney Spears when she grows up). Mr. Peanutbutter's tacky colored Hawaiian shirt and hair style in his show almost makes him look like Uncle Joey.
- BoJack's career as a sitcom actor parallels Robert Reed's (the dad from The Brady Bunch), as acknowledged by Diane. Reed, like BoJack, felt that his talents as an actor were being wasted on a cheesy sitcom and often demanded that the writers make changes. The major difference is that BoJack is quite proud of his work on Horsin' Around.
- Fantastic Racism:
- As mentioned below in Furry Confusion, anthropomorphic livestock animals that are bred for food are treated with contempt by their caretakers.
- There's also one joke where an elephant takes offense at the popular idiom "Elephant in the Room".
- "Fish Out of Water" suggests that some non-aquatic animals dislike fish people because their language and culture are hard for surface species to understand.
- In Season 4, Princess Carolyn's relationship with Ralph Stilton brings out the worst in his mouse family, who celebrate a holiday that mocks cats, and they don't understand Carolyn's discomfort with their traditions.
- Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Mr. Peanutbutter tries, and fails, to make this happen with BoJack.
- Foil: Mr. Peanutbutter's line about "keeping yourself distracted until you die" to avoid confrontation with life's harsh realities, at first, paints him as a Stepford Smiler, but the more we see of him, it's shown that he uses this mentality to approach every single project he does with unbridled enthusiasm, and almost all of it is to please other people, such as his elaborate party for Diane and especially his showmanship as a shoe store salesman. Occupying himself keeps him from dwelling on the things that make him unhappy, while BoJack, who is selfish and near-constantly unemployed, has nothing better to do except dwell on the things that make him unhappy.
- Follow the Leader: In-Universe with "Mr. Peanutbutter's House", which was a flagrant rip-off of "Horsin' Around" in terms of setup. Season 4 even reveals its working production title was originally "Untitled Horsin' Around Knockoff".
- When Sarah Lynn and BoJack hook up for the first time, she tells him that the only drug she needs is "horse." In season three, Goober explains to BoJack that "horse" is a street name for heroin, which Sarah Lynn eventually overdoses and dies from. Specifically, a variety called BoJack, known for its slogan: BoJack kills.
- In Prickly Muffin, she predicts that she will die tragically young, surrounded by sycophants and enablers, which is exactly what happens. Also in that episode, we find out that she's wanted to be an architect from a very young age, and the "Prickly Muffin" music video takes place in a planetarium. She dies in a planetarium, and uses her Famous Last Words to say that she still does want to be an architect.
- BoJack's drug-hallucinated dream in season 1 was of him and Charlotte married and having a daughter. In season 3, BoJack develops paternal instincts toward an accidentally abandoned seahorse and briefly ponders if some of the women he impregnated he paid to get an abortion if they just kept the money and not get an abortion. These three hints make more sense in the three season finale when it's revealed he may have a daughter.
- Hollyhock's mother isn't in the list of Bojack's paramours because he isn't her father - he's her half-brother. The aforementioned line about Bojack wondering about former lovers choosing not to have abortions combines with an early line from Butterscotch, who mentions that his secretary aborted their child. In season 4, it's revealed that he wanted Henrietta, their maid, to have an abortion as well, but she decided not to and was convinced to put the baby up for adoption by Beatrice.
- Todd states in "After the party" that many people say he looks like the prince of Cordovia, which later leads to a sub-plot involving him and the prince.
- Hollyhock mentions feeling like she has bugs crawling under her skin a couple of episodes before it's revealed that Beatrice has been lacing her coffee with amphetamines
- After Beatrice moves in with them she loses her pre-established laziness, starts doing strange tasks to burn off energy like finding and alphabetizing all the loose change in the house, mentions a lack of appetite a few times, is never seen with food despite being regularly seen snacking in earlier episodes, and her After Effects puppet gets visibly thinner several times. The foreshadowing is extra blatant for this one probably to show how inattentive Bojack is as a father figure.
- When Sarah Lynn and BoJack hook up for the first time, she tells him that the only drug she needs is "horse." In season three, Goober explains to BoJack that "horse" is a street name for heroin, which Sarah Lynn eventually overdoses and dies from. Specifically, a variety called BoJack, known for its slogan: BoJack kills.
- Former Child Star: Sarah Lynn, capped off with a pushy Stage Mom and having several terrible role models (including BoJack himself).Sarah Lynn: Oh, you 'know what I'm going through'? Why? Because you were on some dumb kids' show a million years ago? I had my own fashion line when I was ten. By twenty, I was packing stadiums. I get letters every day from boys telling me that I was the first girl they masturbated to. Literally, someone tells me that every day!BoJack: That is gross.Sarah Lynn: Oh-ho, I know!
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: The reviewers of Sarah's book on Secretariat (as shown on the back cover) are "The New Yorkie Times", "USA Toady", and "Newsbeak".
- Freudian Excuse: Beatrice's father instilled her with his sexist beliefs about women's place in the world from a very young age, while her mother became an alcoholic after the death of her son, Beatrice's brother, in World War II. Her father was emotionally distant, and her mother was an emotional wreck who was inappropriately dependent on her, and was eventually forced to have a lobotomy. Both of her parents were cruel to her about her weight, warping her body image and driving her to "pretty pills" - amphetamines. As a young adult, Beatrice was strong-willed enough to stand up to her father on social issues, but in her rebellion, she had a one-night stand with bad boy Butterscotch Horseman and ended up getting pregnant. The jarring shift from riches to rags made her bitter and resentful of both Butterscotch, for not being able to provide, and Bojack, for symbolizing her attachment to his father and for indirectly ruining her body with the pregnancy.
- Full-Name Basis: Princess Carolyn is always referred to as such, except by Rutabaga, which becomes a plot point late in Season 2.
- Character Actress Margo Martindale is almost always referred to as such.
- In Season 3, it's revealed that Mr. Peanutbutter's full name is actually "Mister Peanutbutter".
- Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: By human standards, most of the animal characters apply this trope. BoJack's usual wardrobe includes a sports coat, blue sweater, jeans and hi-tops.
- Funny Background Event:
I had a ball at Diane's 35thBirthday and underlineball I don't know whythis is so hard
- As Todd talks with a gang leader during the cavity search "Our 'A' Story Is A D Story," two similarly-positioned prisoners in the background are joyfully thumb wrestling.
- When BoJack starts shouting at the blonde girl in the bar in "BoJack Hates The Troops," one of her girlfriends, a chicken, lays an egg in shock.
- While more likely just a poor drawing, one of the people in Princess Carolyn's office while BoJack is drunk, naked and crying over the death of "John Stamos" is seen covering his crotch, either intimidated compared to the horse or hiding the erection he is giving him.
- Not exactly an "event" per se, but Mr. Peanutbutter has very poor luck◊ with getting personalised signage◊ made. It's taken Up to Eleven when he has T-shirts made for Diane's 35th birthday.
- When BoJack has his meeting with Jill Pill, a Roach is seen crawling through along the wall to the kitchen area — only to put on his uniform and start cooking.
- The Season 3 finale has a stagehand walk behind Bojack with a Fun T-Shirt reading "Vintage Rock Band T-Shirt".
- Season 4 is rife with them, but in particular is the Running Gag of Todd's outfit being worn by others and the futuristic Framing Device of "Ruthie" showing how bad climate change has gotten.Explanation
- Fun with Acronyms: BoJack overloads on this in the first episode of Season Two, although that's largely due to the self help book he's consulting.
- Furry Confusion: Episode 4 has a one-off gag where a man orders a steak... delivered by a cow. Awk-ward. Made all the more awkward in Season 2, where it's revealed Chicken meat is actual chicken-people, given mind-altering hormones and sequestered from society from birth. They act like real chickens... except that's solely due to their isolated upbringing. The creator revealed that all animals are animal-people. So that steak in Season One? That came from a similar situation as "Chickens".
- Furry Reminder: Season 3 is filled to the brim with these, including pigeons (and a roach and rat) growling at each other over a piece of discarded food, a gecko having an arm torn off in a purse-snatching only to grow back a new one, to Princess Carolyn thanking BoJack for giving her a box filled with crinkly paper.
- Gainax Ending: "Downer Ending" ends really darkly with BoJack, near-crying, asking Diane if she thinks he's a good person, followed by a long, painful silence as bird calls and his (hallucinated) daughter is heard giggling. This is followed by:Random Fan: Hey, aren't you the horse from Horsin' Around? (cut to credits)
- Gender-Blender Name: Kelsey Jannings' daughter Irving.
- The Ghost: Erica, a friend of Mr. Peanutbutter's that has yet to be seen but has apparently suffered several terrible maladies.Mr. Peanutbutter: Erica! When did they let you out of the burn ward?
- Conversely, whenever anything goes wrong on-air, Tom Jumbo-Grumbo immediately blames Randy for it.
- Subverted in Season 4, when Randy does pass out at his teleprompter keyboard and Tom expresses overt concern and dismay when he finds out that nobody had contacted Caroline (Randy's next-of-kin) yet.
- Conversely, whenever anything goes wrong on-air, Tom Jumbo-Grumbo immediately blames Randy for it.
- Gilligan Cut: Invoked on Horsin' Around more than once. At one point in the '90s BoJack is utterly oblivious of the trope's purpose.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted. Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter mutually decide that they do not want to have children and opt for an abortion. The conflict in this plot line stems not from any uncertainty or moral qualms with the decision, but from Diane's work as the writer of pop star Sextina Aquafina's Twitter page, where she accidentally tweets about her planned abortion and it appears that Sextina is the one who plans to have an abortion. Sextina comes to embrace her role as the face of the pro-choice movement, if a little overzealous, but the trope is then played with again when Sextina actually does become pregnant and decides to keep the baby. However, both decisions are treated as valid and neither woman has any regrets.
- Played straight with Beatrice's shotgun wedding with Butterscotch after an affair resulted in BoJack's conception as well as Henrietta who also had a baby with Butterscotch and put her up for adoption.
- Grey and Grey Morality: Every single character is written with abundant pros and cons, some with more of one than the other, but nobody falls into the categories of simply "good" and "bad." A cynical narcissist like BoJack has enough personal baggage to be empathetic, while the much friendlier and caring Mr. Peanutbutter can have his own selfish tendencies to prove that his actions aren't always for the benefit of others. The only exception is the completely unsympathetic TV executive who talks BoJack out of quitting Horsin' Around when Herb is outed.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Mr. Peanutbutter is a moron, but all things considered, he's a pretty Nice Guy.
- Hand Wave: Todd questions the confusing Santa's Existence Clause in the Horsin' Around Christmas Special. BoJack simply replies that everyone was on cocaine at the time and really didn't care.
- Happier Home Movie: Done via an old Horsin' Around episode in "That Went Well".
- Happy Ending Override: Season 1 ends on an optimistic, open-ended Bittersweet Ending, which Season 2 tears apart for every main character, being even more depressing than the first season.
- Happily Married: Despite their treacherous ups and downs, Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter prove by season 2's end that they are deeply in love.
- Zig-Zagged the longer the series goes on. All through season 3 they continue to fail at communicating, but are seeing a marriage counselor because they ARE in love and intent on fixing it. In season 4 Mr Peanutbutter's run for governor seems to bring their differences out to a new extreme, Dianne screaming "I REGRET EVERYTHING" during a near-death experience amid her newfound marriage problems gives the first clear sign she might view her marriage as an outright mistake instead of simply challenging, and in their final scene of the season Dianne outright states that while their marriage might be wonderful if they put in the work, she's at the end of her rope and continuing to put in that work has exhausted her.
- Hate Sink: There's no shortage of depravity, excess and assholish behavior in Hollywoo all around, much less unscrupulous opportunists, self-serving characters and the demeaning of any sense of genuine feeling for any grand figure that aims to make a buck. Then again, there are some who unlike most lack any charm, depth or whose horrid cruelty overwhelms any other aspect of them as nothing but figures of pure hatred.
- Beatrice Horseman, BoJack's mother and one of two main culprits for his screwed-up personality, was as far as her maternal side was concerned an abysmal pit. Spiteful, defensive of herself and collecting any kind of resentment and grudge possible to blame for the way her life had turned out, Beatrice would dismiss any accomplishment her son had (football, drama theater, comedy standup, fame and sitcom cred) as well as anything regarding his personal feelings (a possible bad experience with a teacher, feelings of inferiority) to remind him what a disappointment he was to everyone and would often force him to perform for her rich friends's amusement regardless of how he felt, often using her love as bait. Her personality was also unpleasant in contrast to her earlier rebellious, caring attitude due to the loss of her wealthy lifestyle and misery in being a housewife without any stimulating company which would make her furious. Downplayed after her backstory is revealed in season 4: while it's difficult to embrace Beatrice as someone other than the abusive mother she was, she's not a monster; matter of fact, she may not gain sympathy now, but one can't help but weep for the kind, little filly who saw her promising future die a slow death after her brother's death, her mother's lobotomy and her father's misogynistic parenting, dismissal of her feelings and critical of her figure for the final nail being having to put aside marrying a Nice Guy and using her degree in favor of a Wide-Eyed Idealist with no talent and being a bitter housewife.
- Butterscotch Horseman, while lees featured than his wife, has just as much blame in traumatizing BoJack as a form of education with his stern, humorless personality a major contention with his son's chipper personality who he resented. Excessively patriotic, his high standards ensured her would destroy anything BoJack made if it didn't reach such (his treehouse, his schoolwork, any sign of affection or detail for Father's Day) and would often force him to listen to Cole Porter records and cry with him. Any responsibility with his son would often devolve into him insulting his intelligence whatever anything he said. The less said about his chaotic marriage with Beatrice the better: insults, physical violence and deflecting blame. His Pride, parting from his failed career as a novelist made him very touchy regarding any decision he made and unwilling to compromise in anything even if others were suffering because of his actions. And after fooling around with the maid Henrietta, trying to coerce Beatrice to talking her into an abortion. Low. Just low. Season 4 makes this more murky: while still an asshole in youth, he was far more willing to believe in the revolution of the Beat generation and hoped to be part of them with his pseudo-revolutionary ideas. Not to say willing to own to his mistakes by marrying Beatrice after impregnating her. Years of failure, rejection from his heroes and forced to carve into a comfy job he despised made him into this. Which still doesn't excuse him at all from his responsibility in carving that future for him and Beatrice or the sheer over-the-top abuse he sent BoJack's way.
- Vanessa Gekko, Princess Carolyn's rival and Arch-Enemy, is basically a more self-serving counterpart for her: while on the surface, she's caring, sharp and rough around the edges while still being loyal to her clients; she shows no empathy or limits when she wants to get something for her clients. Hell, if a client is troublesome, she'll shred their contracts, no problem! As cold-blooded as an actual reptile, Vanessa's strict professionalism, smug attitude, annoying sing-song goodbyes and extreme savviness earn her the disgust served for people who have stand in her way. While she has some depth as a loving mother and wife, her redeeming aspects are far and far between in the job.
- Rutabaga Rabbitowitz, while better in a sense than Vanessa and a bit more apologetic than usual, is a Handsome Lech previous co-worker of PC at Vigor whose charm and excitable nature mask deep resentment toward his wife and his job. Having nothing to offer beyond promises and flirt, Rutabaga's confidence can create enough smoke screen to give the illusion he's trustworthy. After an increasingly crumbling marriage, Rutabaga seduces Princess Carolyn and lulls her into an extramarital relationship without any future in addiction to signing her name to the new property of their company. After their breakup, he joins forces with Vanessa Gekko to create a new agency rivaling PC's. While a family man and a better person now, he's still a self-serving coward who'll hide behind a friendly façade if it helps him avoid any fight.
- He Really Can Act: In-universe during BoJack's read for the Secretariat movie.
- High Concept: The credits theme is plot in a nutshell:Back in the nineties, I was in a very famous TV show.
I'm BoJack the Horse. (BoJack!) BoJack the Horse, but don't act like you don't know...
And I'm tryin' to hold onto my past.
It's been so long I don't think I'm gonna last.
I guess I'll just try and make you understand:
That I'm more a horse than a man…
or I'm more man than a horse...
- Hoist by Their Own Petard: Name-dropped by Todd in Season 4's premiere.Todd: Aw, man! I was hoisted by my own petard, the one petard I thought would never hoist me!
- Hollywood New England: Diane's family consists of thoroughly obnoxious lower-class Boston stereotypes.
- Hollywood Psych: Averted: BoJack is a textbook case of clinical depression, which is portrayed very realistically.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Todd and the representatives of the two prison gangs he tries to join, in a spoof of the Two-Timer Date.
- Hope Spot: At the end of "Escape From LA," BoJack looks as though he's going to quit before he gets too far with Charlotte, and at worst he'll go home feeling awkward about their kiss. Then she catches him with her daughter.
- Horrible Hollywood: The whole show is basically one long depiction of how terrible working in "Hollywoo" can be.
- BoJack was pushed to perform since childhood and is left completely unsatisfied in life after briefly tasting stardom.
- Herb ends up alone and exiled despite having done everything he can to make Horsin' Around a success.
- Sarah Lynn turned to extreme drug abuse after falling out of popularity in her thirties.
- Child actors in general are shown as leading terrible lives or at least being damaged by their time in the spotlight. Sara Lynn's life in particular seems to have been tragic — she had an abusive stage mother and was constantly surrounded by fake friends, was exhausted and overwhelmed by her celebrity, and being given everything she wanted meant she never had he feedback she needed to learn basic life skills.Her overdose seems directly related to her lack of genuine support networks and her emotionally neglectful childhood. In addition to her drug habit, she's shown to have extremely low self-esteem and self-harms either as a coping method or a ploy for attention. Joelle also developed an eating disorder after being forced to dress as a pumpkin and repeatedly mocked for her weight and Brad is still so addicted to the spotlight and his childhood memories as the least favourite child actor on "Horsing Around" that will probably never be content with his ordinary life and ordinary achievements.
- Hank Hippoppolous gets away with terrible crimes simply because of his popular TV show.
- Corporate demands slowly tear at the best parts of The Secretariat, much to Bojack's discomfort.
- Improv groups are depicted directly as a cult.
- Played with regarding the lives of well-known character actors. Characters are constantly shilling Margot Martindale (for the sake of comedy) and talking about how horrible it is that they don't get the recognition their talent deserves, but they are also described as being "condemned to lives of lucrative obscurity" and their work is treated with a lot of respect. Even after Margot Martindale commits a series of serious crimes (including murderous rampages), she's still able to easily land theatre positions and people still take her seriously as an actress. Hollywoo doesn't seem like a bad place for established character actors.
- Humanlike Hand Anatomy: All the anthropomorphic characters.
- Hypocritical Humor:
Charlotte: We're going to watch Back to the Future again.BoJack: I love that movie, except for all the lame period jokes. We get it, the fifties were different! turns to bartender I'll have a New Coke please.
- A metaexample during an '80s flashback after a barrage of period jokes:
- BoJack might as well be talking to a mirror when he calls out an annoying blonde girl in a bar for being selfish, irresponsible and inconsiderate of others.
- Vincent, the "real man" comprised of three kids in a Totem Pole Trench, tells Princess Carolyn that her desire for a more fun, free-spirited relationship is "for babies."
- A Freeze-Frame Bonus in Season 2 has Herb clipping out a TV Guide review chastising "Horsin' Around" for the Hurricane of Puns used in each episode, while using horse-related puns of its own throughout the review.
- I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Come Season 4, it seems like this is what Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane's relationship has evolved into, coupled with Slap-Slap-Kiss.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Though how much he actually loves her is questionable, BoJack manages to do this with Diane for her wedding, even if it took Todd calling him out on it to happen.
- Iconic Sequel Character: While beloved characters had been already established in season 1 like Beloved Character Actress Margo Martindale, Charlotte Moore and Pinky Penguin, some of the most recognizable characters in the series are introduced from season 2 onwards.
- Season 2 has Wanda Pierce, Rutabaga Rabbinowitz, Hank Hippopopalous, Kelsey Jannings, J.D. Salinger, Mia McKibben, The Gentle Farms family, Sebastian St. Clair (who had a small part in the season 1 finale "Later"), Secretariat (whose role and backstory was expanded after being a One-Scene Wonder in season 1), Copernicus and The Moore-Carson Family.
- Season 3: Ana Spanakopita, Judah, Cuddlywhiskers, Ralph Stilton, Stefani Stilton, Jill "Jill Pill" Filipowicz, Captain Peanutbutter, Emily, Jessica Biel, Skinny Gina, Richie Osborne, The Closer and Sextina Aquafina (despite being a Recurring Extra for the first two seasons, she takes a major role in the season 3 episode "Brrap Brrap Pew Pew").
- Season 4: Hollyhock, Woodchuck Coodchuck Berkowitz, Katrina Peanutbutter (after being introduced in season 2 and reintroduced at the end of season 3), Joseph, Honey and Crackerjack Sugarman, Eddie the Firefly, the rest of the Stilton Family, Courtney Portnoy, The Ant Colony, Ruthie, Yolanda.
- Imagine Spot: Used to devastating effect at the end of "Ruthie." Princess Carolyn reveals that when she is sad, she imagines a distant ancestor giving a presentation about her life in school, which had been the framing device for the episode. Since Ruthie does not necessarily exist in the future, the events of the episode no longer indicate Princess Carolyn's eventual success in getting pregnant.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It:
- "BoJack Horseman: The BoJack Horseman Story, written by BoJack Horseman."
- In episode 4 — "Virgil Van Cleef Presents BoJack Horseman Presents Newtopia Rising, Book 1: The Search for a New Utopia, A Todd Joint"
- Come Season 4, we get a fashion show called "Sharc Jacobs - By Sharc Jacobs - For Sharc By Sharc Jacobs - In Collaboration with Sharc Jacobs For Sharc By Sharc Jacobs"
- Ink-Suit Actor: Todd looks like an animated version of his voice actor Aaron Paul.
- In Memoriam: In-universe, the Secretariat biopic ends with a dedication screen to "Corduroy Jackson-Jackson and Debra's old face". The former being killed in an Erotic Asphyxiation accident and the latter still being alive but having her face disfigured after hot coffee was accidentally splashed on her and never fully recovered.
- Innocently Insensitive:
- The guy at the airport who sees Diane, miserable after her feminist crusade fails, who says "Hey... smile!" Truth in Television, in that telling a woman to smile has recently become seen as very rude.
- BoJack, who is under the assumption that they're as self-aware as he is, casually refers to Abe and Wanda's productions as shit. Needless to say, they'd don't agree.
- Insane Troll Logic:
- Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things?? Let's Find Out! pretty much runs on this.
- Todd when he figures out that BoJack sabotaged his rock opera. He runs through a free association jumping from tapes (audio and sticky), breakfast cereal, straws, Character Actress Margo Martindale before finally arriving at the (correct) conclusion.
- Interspecies Adoption:
- Most of the Nguyen family is human, but one of Diane's brothers is an adopted black sheep.
- The premise of Horsin' Around is based on this trope. Three human orphans are adopted by a single horse. The rival show Mr. Peanubutter's House follows suit with the titular dog raising three human children as well. The planned spiritual successor to Horsin' Around was going to have the roles reversed with a grown-up Ethan adopting three horse children.
- Up to Eleven with Hollyhock who is revealed to be BoJack's half-sister as a result of his father having an affair with the family's maid, who was adopted and raised by a group of eight gay polygamist men who are a diverse group of humans and animals (five human men, a bear, a lizard and a duck).
- Interspecies Romance: Seems to be socially acceptable in this world where humans and anthropomorphic animals coexist. BoJack has yet to sleep with another horse.
- Ironic Echo: In "Say Anything," BoJack pulls one on himself. He spends the episode asking Princess Carolyn "what are we DOING?" in a jovial tone, meaning that he believes they are obviously in love with each other and asking what are they doing trying to deny it. At the end of the episode after going through a bad experience that shatters his (always tenuous) self-esteem, he cancels a date with her by dejectedly asking, "what are we doing?" This time, he's asking what they're doing pretending that they're really in love when they're obviously just trying to temporarily deny their own crushing loneliness.
- It Makes Sense in Context: Everything that happens in "Our A Story is a 'D' Story." Every. Single. Thing.
- It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars: In-Universe, Played with/subverted. After the studio changes Secretariat from a gritty drama into a saccharine, family-friendly schlockfest, Abe the director seemingly tries to shrug this off to console BoJack by saying they're "not making Casablanca". This ends up bizarrely blowing up in BoJack's face when he refers the film as "piece of shit" at a dinner party when it's made clear that Abe literally meant they weren't making the 1942 Bogart drama and he becomes furious at BoJack for insulting his work.
- It's All About Me:
- Sara Lynn, probably more so than BoJack.
- It Will Never Catch On: In 2007, Princess Carolyn's boss Marv dismisses the scripts for No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood simply because their titles are over two words long.
- Japandering: In 2007, Mr. Peanutbutter did an ad campaign for seahorse milk in Pacific Ocean City, even though he had no idea what it was used for. When BoJack attended the Pacific Ocean Film Festival for the premiere of Secretariat years later, the ads were still being used on local television and in stores.
- Jerkass: Diane's family has no redeeming qualities.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Diane lampshades this trope and says that the difference between being one of these and an outright Jerkass isn't something innate, but the things you do. BoJack is set up as an example of this, being portrayed as genuinely sympathetic despite his actions and general demeanour. The show's own Netflix description references this trope, saying BoJack has "a heart of... not quite gold... but something like gold. Copper?" This trope is later brutally deconstructed, when BoJack begins to rely on this self-perception to justify his actions, and ends up outright begging to tell him that he's a good person at heart.BoJack: I know that I can be selfish and narcissistic and self-destructive but underneath all that, deep down, I'm a good person and I need you to tell me that I'm good... Diane... tell me, please, Diane, tell me that I'm good...
- Just Eat Gilligan: As Princess Carolyn points out in one episode, most of BoJack's problems could be easily solved if he didn't insist on making them worse with convoluted sitcom antics and stopped obsessing over whether or not people like him.
- Kick the Dog:
- Charlotte seeing her daughter in bed with BoJack and furiously telling him she never wants to see him again is one to Charlotte, who thinks BoJack is sleeping with Penny as revenge for not running away with him.
- In "Let's Find Out" BoJack deliberately throws the final question, thus causing a million dollar payout to charity to be set on fire, solely to spite Daniel Radcliffe for not having remembered his name.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Bojack's treatment of senile Beatrice examines both how two wrongs don't make a right and how having a past marred by tragedy does not excuse Beatrice for the years of abuse she inflicted on her husband and son.
- Kissing Discretion Shot: When BoJack and Mr. Peanutbutter kiss in "Let's Find Out," the camera slowly pans to J.D. Salinger, who blocks the shot for most of it.
L — O
- Laser-Guided Karma: Diane's abusive, neglectful father's last wishes were for his body to be chummed and poured over Derek Jeter. At the end of the episode, as the barrel is rolling through the streets of Boston, Derek Jeter is helping an old woman across the street. The barrel runs over her and barely misses him. And then he steals her purse.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: During Mushroom Samba BoJack notices that all of his "outlines have vanished" when the black line art disappears from his animation.
- Let No Crisis Go to Waste: Diane accidentally tweets out "I'm having an abortion" on the Sextina Aquafina Twitter account that she runs. While she and Carolyn anticipate a massive blowback only for Sextina to be praised for her bravery by others and become the public face of the Pro-Choice movement, which Carolyn is all-too eager to exploit while Diane, who's the one actually having the abortion isn't.
- Let's Meet the Meat: The Gentle Farms ad in "Chickens".
- Line-of-Sight Name: In "Yes And" when Diane is pretending to still be in Cordovia while on the phone with Mr. Peanutbutter. While pretending to be a child refugee, she glances at the coffee maker in BoJack's kitchen and uses "Coffee Maker" as the name. Mr. Peanutbutter falls for it and assumes it's a foreign name pronounced "Kofie Mercure."
Bojack: Tes...ley?Diane: You're just looking at the Tesla!
- In "It's You", Diane challenges Bojack to name a single one of his "friends" at his Oscar nomination party.
- Season 4 has BoJack make up a name so that Hollyhock won't leave yet, eventually coming up with "Carla Mercedes Benzbrown".
- Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: In the world the series is set in, Petting Zoo People coexist with humans and and can even be in relationships and have children together. Some real life celebrities also have Fictional Counterparts who are animals, such as Quentin Tarantulino and Ethan Hawke (who's literally a hawk). (On the other hand, Cameron Crow is a raven, Matthew Fox is a wolf, and Scott Wolf is a fox, so non indicative and ironic names also apply in the logic of this verse.)
- Living Emotional Crutch:
- BoJack has a tendency to latch on to anyone who's even remotely nice to him this way. At first it's Princess Carolyn, but after they break up it's Diane, whom he thinks he's in love with only because she's hired to listen to him talk about himself. Charlotte's family briefly become this to him in "Escape From LA," but after that gets Ruined Forever, he realizes that Todd is very much this, seeing as he's always stuck by him in spite of how toxic he is.
- Diane later becomes this to Mr. Peanutbutter when he reveals how terrified he is of death and losing her.
- Literal Metaphor: In "Yes And", Abe, the director hired after Kelsey Jannings is fired for objecting to Executive Meddling remarks that one take's enough because "hey, we're not making Casablanca". Later in the episode, BoJack calls the film a piece of shit and Abe takes offence.BoJack: I mean, you're the one who said we're not making Casablanca.
Abe: Right, because Casablanca is a movie about a club owner named Rick. This movie's about Secretariat, a racehorse.
BoJack: Wait, you literally meant we're not making the actual movie Casablanca?
Abe: That movie already exists. Why would we make Casablanca? This is a different movie.
BoJack: I think there was a misunderstanding.
- Long Title: A Running Gag is characters saying long names for things with no abbreviations, such as J.D. Salinger's new game show: J.D. Salinger Presents: Hollywoo Stars & Celebrities: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things? Let's Find Out!.Wanda: I can see it on the marquee already!
Princess Carolyn: Boy, that must be a long marquee.
Wanda: It's long.
- Taken Up to Eleven in "After The Party", where both Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter constantly give the full title to a feminist symposium they'd attended to celebrate Diane's birthday.
- Love Cannot Overcome: As much as they've tried over the first 3 seasons and even with a few Hope Spots in season 4, Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter have in his words "become roommates" rather than wife and husband. Despite their attempts in the season 4 finale and love for each other, they finally explode toward each other and their situation at the end indicates they know what about to come.
- Love Martyr: Though she has a comprehensive understanding of his multitude of flaws, Princess Carolyn can't stop herself from looking out for BoJack, even when she's no longer his girlfriend or agent.
- Love Triangle: Between BoJack, Diane, and Mr. Peanutbutter, especially in Season 1. Downplayed in Season 2, at least until "Let's Find Out." To get into specifics, see below.
- Lyrical Dissonance: After BoJack learns that Charlotte has a family in "Escape from L.A.", an '80s-style opening plays with tauntingly cheerful music.Kyle and the kids! Kyle's a dad, and Charlotte's married to him!
And they've got some kids! There's Penny, she's going to high school.
She's got a brother. Her brother's name is Trip! They're the perfect family!
Kyle and the kids! He loves his wife and there's nothing you can do.
Kyle and the kids! Nothing's gonna be alright, be alright, oh no.
- Mad Libs Catch Phrase: The eponymous Horse's catchphrase was "I've heard of (X), but this is ridiculous!"
- Mailman vs. Dog: Mr. Peanutbutter has a problem with chasing the mail truck with his car. In "Horse Majeure" he gets pulled over for doing this and later loses his license. Even just mentioning the post office makes him growl.Diane: Were you chasing the mailman again?
- Malaproper: A shared one between three different characters regarding the "Fool me once..." line.
- Mature Animal Story: Don't let the Funny Animal cast fool you; it is NOT a kids' show.
- Meaningful Background Event: The jogger seen throughout the second season approaches BoJack after making it up the hill to give him some advice laden with metaphor.
- Meaningful Echo: In "Prickly Muffin," Todd attempts to organize a house meeting, to which BoJack, in an effort to shut him up, replies that his "proposal has been submitted and is currently pending approval. Proposal denied." Cut to BoJack's fever dream in "Downer Ending" where, after his daughter asks if they'd have been friends if they were the same age, he makes the same remark, with her "proposal approved," in an effort to make her laugh.
- Mind Screw: "Downer Ending", due to the Mushroom Samba noted below taking up about half of the episode.
- The penultimate episode of season 4 is a downplayed example, but subtly creepy, as most of the episode is told in flashback, but filtered through Beatrice Horseman's dementia.
- Mr. Seahorse: The literal version pops up in Season 3, when BoJack has to act as the Delivery Guy to a pregnant seahorse who handed him a book called "What To Expect When You're A Male Seahorse Expecting... which is a thing".
- Money to Throw Away: BoJack throws cash off a rooftop to distract people from Mr. Peanutbutter disposing of the D from the Hollywood sign. Everyone loses interest when they see it's only $1 bills, but Beyonce slips on them, making for a perfect distraction.
- Mood Whiplash: While energetically doing regional promos for HSACWDTKDTKTLFO Mr. Peanutbutter reaches Waco, Texas: "Hey, Waco, Texas! [Somber] Terrible tragedy. [Energetic] What does Ethan Hawke know? We'll find out tonight. [Somber again] So sorry."note
- MST3K Mantra: In-Universe. At the abortion clinic, Diane chats with a young woman about to terminate her pregnancy about Sextina Aquafina's highly-commercialized and low-brow pro-choice campaign when she "hijacks" Diane's announcement about her own abortion. Diane asks the young woman if she finds it tasteless that Sextina isn't treating the subject delicately and that it might give women the wrong impression about how serious it it. The woman reassures Diane that Sextina helped her have a sense of humor about an otherwise terrifying procedure and is genuinely confused as to why Diane is taking it so seriously.
- Mushroom Samba: BoJack, Todd and Sarah Lynn all take an excessive amount of drugs to help them focus on writing BoJack's autobiography in "Downer Ending." The results range from absurd to nightmarish to heart-wrenchingly somber.
- Mythology Gag: In universe, Sara Lynn's character was nicknamed "Prickly-Muffin" by BoJack's character in Horsin' Around. Years later when she becomes a pop singer, she has a hit single titled "Prickly-Muffin". This phrase was used as a cutesy nickname on Horsin' Around, while Sara Lynn's song uses it to refer to her private parts.
- Nepotism: Charlie the intern, then agent, got his job because his father's the President of Vigor. By season 3 his father has passed away, making him the new President of Vigor... and for some reason he wears a Napoleon outfit because of this
- Nervous Wreck: Charlie the intern. Usually because everything he touches sticks to his hands. After season 2, he's now an agent.
- Nice Character, Mean Actor: Invoked with BoJack during the Horsin' Around days. He's a lot more sympathetic in the present day but while the show was being filmed he acted only out of self-interest and was a horrible role model for the three child actors in the show.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted. It's tricky to do a show set in Hollywoo without mentioning any real-life celebrities. In a meta-example, any celebrity not voiced by themselves will meet a bad end in some way. Season 3 starts up a tradition of giving goofy pronunciations to regular celebrity names, such as "Jurj Clooners".
- Non-Indicative Name:
- Princess Carolyn's archnemesis Vanessa Gekko is not an actual gecko, despite the existence of all the anthropomorphic animals seeming to make this a given. Bonus points for Princess Carolyn's bait-and-switch description right before we actually get to see Vanessa in person.
- The same episode features Cameron Crow... who's actually a Raven.
- "Hank After Dark" features Scott Wolf (a fox) and Matthew Fox (a wolf).
- Noodle Incident: BoJack answering a call from Princess Carolyn:BoJack: I told you I don't know where it is, don't put things in my butt if you want them back!
- "And.... hold for Princess Carolyn."
- BoJack's sneeze on Marisa Tomei is this for most of Season 1 until we finally see it during a drug-induced flashback in "Downer Ending".
- While it's implied that he sexually harassed them, we never find out exactly what Hank Hippopopalous actually did to those eight secretaries.
- Not So Different: BoJack and Sarah Lynn. Both are washed-up, self-absorbed D-list celebrities who bury their deep-seeded parental issues and resentment towards Hollywoo under heaping mounds of substance abuse as a way to run from their problems. Lampshaded by BoJack:Diane: [Sarah Lynn] is the one with substance abuse problems and daddy issues.BoJack: Hey, we BOTH have substance abuse problems and daddy issues!
- BoJack and Mr. Peanutbutter, with the main example being 'Our A-Story Is A 'D' Story'. While most of the time, Mr. Peanuttbutter is perfectly pleasant, he competes in all sorts of petty challenges with BoJack to impress Diane and even passes off BoJack's stunt to impress her (Stealing the D from the Hollywood sign) as his own.
- BoJack and Princess Carolyn are both lonely and desperate for a significant other, the major difference being that, while Carolyn is too busy with her career to let it drag her down, BoJack spends most of his time out of work and wallowing in self pity.
- Now Which One Was That Voice?: The cast is listed by name, but not associated with the character(s) they play. Some of the cast are celebrities (e.g. Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins) with distinct enough voices.
- Odd Friendship: BoJack and Mr. Peanutbutter since the former hates the oblivious latter, but he lets him hang around because he is just that desperate for love and companionship.
- Oh Wait!: "My life is full of exciting adventures. I should write a book. Oh, wait. I did."
- Older Than They Look: Lenny Turtletaub, being a turtle, is old enough to remember the première of "The Great Train Robbery", which was released in 1903, making him well over 100 years old.
- On-Again, Off-Again Girlfriend: BoJack and Princess Carolyn are portrayed as this before focus shifts more to BoJack and Diane's relationship.
- Once a Season: Used to tragic effect; see Precision F-Strike.
- Only a Lighter: BoJack's gun-shaped lighter, shown in one episode. Another episode reveals he has a lighter-shaped gun, as well.
- Only Sane Man: BoJack's the only one that recognizes that Vincent Adultman is actually a Totempole Trench.
- Overly Long Gag: BoJack after discovering that Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter are dating.BoJack: You two are dating?Mr. Peanutbutter: Yeah!BoJack: (to Diane) You're dating him?Diane: Yes.BoJack: This is your boyfriend.Mr. Peanutbutter: That is correct.Diane: Uh huh.BoJack: You (Diane) are going out with you (Mr. Peanutbutter).Diane: Uh huh.BoJack: But in a sexual way, not just as friends.Mr. Peanutbutter: That's right.BoJack: You have seen her naked.Mr. Peanutbutter: Many times, yes.BoJack: You are attracted to this (Mr. Peanutbutter).Diane: Yes.BoJack: This penis has been inside this vagina.Mr. Peanutbutter: Yep!BoJack: But in a sexual way?Mr. Peanutbutter: Oh yes!BoJack: Huh.
Ethan: Cue the water works in thirty, twenty-nine, twenty-eight, twenty-seven, twenty-six...BoJack: *groans and hits fast-forward*Ethan: ...four, three, two, aaaaaand...
- Followed immediately by another of BoJack puking cotton candy over his balcony for a good minute.
- In "Downer Ending," there's a lengthy gag about how Dr. Hu (Ken Jeong) sounds like Doctor Who.
- There's also a minor one in the first episode, where Princess Carolyn berates BoJack for not respecting her enough to have a baby with her. Cut to a scene where BoJack attempts to flee for thirty solid seconds after Carolyn mentions a cute baby.
- In the Horsin' Around Christmas Special:
- Overshadowed by Controversy: In-universe when Herb is publicly outed in an incredibly embarrassing way, upsetting many Moral Guardians, but averted in that BoJack doesn't come to defend him for the sake of keeping the show going.
- While on the book tour for the paperback edition of "One Trick Pony," Diane's passing comment about Uncle Hanky's deviant sexual past with his female assistants draws all attention to her and her feminist activism.
P — S
- Pac-Man Fever: Played for laughs with Decapathon VII which looks like it should be a violent and exciting gore-fest but is actually just a Tetris-esque puzzle game.
- Person as Verb: When BoJack tells one of the women he's slept with to leave his house the next morning.BoJack: My memoirist is going to show up soon and I don't need you... what's your name?Pam: Pam.BoJack: I don't need you Pamming up the place when she gets here!
- More seriously, he worries he's going to "BoJack things up" with Hollyhock in the context of "screw everything up until she hates me".
- Pet the Dog:
- Kelsey Jannings adores Todd for no reason.
- Beatrice was critical of Bojack for starring in Horsin' Around in Season 2. When she starts suffering from dementia in Season 4, she can only recognize Bojack on the show, and actually enjoys watching it.
- Petting Zoo People: The world of BoJack Horseman is populated by people as much as it is humanoid animals, some being relatively regular like BoJack and Mr. Peanutbutter (a horse and a dog respectively), while more extreme examples would be a whale newscaster and a maggot undertaker.
- Phrase Catcher: "Aren't you the horse from Horsin' Around?"
- Polyamory: Hollyhock Manheim-Mannheim-Guerrero-Robinson-Zilberschlag-Hsung-Fonzerelli-McQuack was adopted by 8 men in a gay polyamorous relationship.
- Posthumous Character:
- As of Season two, Herb Kazzaz, who continues to appear in several flashbacks.
- BoJack's father Butterscotch, who has only been seen in flashbacks. According to a flashback in Season 4, he died sometime between 2007 (the year The BoJack Horseman Show went on-air) and 2014 (the year the first season started).
- Everyone in the Sugarman family except Beatrice.
- Platonic Declaration of Love: Played With in that they never outright say love, but they come pretty close...
"Dear Judah, you are a wonderful employee. I am very proud of you. Sincerely, _________________."
- Invoked in "Love And/Or Marriage" after Princess Carolyn returns from three blind dates to sign congratulations cards to everyone in VIM Agency with the stock words made by her assistant, Judah. She signs them mechanically until she sees the one meant for Judah. She's genuinely touched he so desperately wants her approval.
Princess Carolyn: It's been a pleasure working with you, Judah.
- And then in "It's You":
Judah: I've found it to be an above-average experience. Please forgive me for getting emotional.
BoJack: And I wish you didn't get so distant after you moved out.
- In "That Went Well", Diane visits BoJack after Sarah Lynn's death, finding him in a really low point and after talking about it, Diane raises his spirits by telling him that contrary to what he now believes, Horsin' Around was an important show in people's life, especially for troubled people growing up....like her. After processing what she has just said, BoJack retorts that she's wasting her time writing tweets for celebrities when she could do much better and then:
Diane: I'm sorry.
BoJack: You know me better than anybody, and you can't not be a part of my life.
- Precision F-Strike: Invoked. The show has a rule of using the word "fuck" exactly once per season for extra magnitude, typically in response to BoJack doing irreversible damage to a relationship.note :
- In Season 1's "The Telescope", Herb tells BoJack to "get the fuck out of [his] house" after BoJack's Rejected Apology.
- In Season 2's "Escape from L.A.", Charlotte tells BoJack, "if you ever try to contact me or my family again, I will fucking kill you" after she finds BoJack in bed with her teenage daughter.
- In Season 3's "It's You, Todd unloads an angry monologue on BoJack on how selfish he is for using his Dark and Troubled Past as an excuse to be reckless with people's emotions, concluding with an exasperated "Fuck, man. What else is there to say?"
- Played with when Diane discovers that she's pregnant: "Love And/Or Marriage" ends with her screaming "MOTHERFU-!" and "Brrap Brrap Pew Pew" begins with her screaming "-UCKER!".
- Season 4's subverts it by having the word be spoken, but not necessarily "used." Bojack tells Hollyhock that he wants to look his senile, dying mother in the face and say "Fuck you, mom!", but ultimately decides it isn't worth it and spend their last visit together giving her a happy memory.
- Pun-Based Title: Episodes 9 and 11 of season 1, "Horse Majeur" and "Downer Ending" and episodes 4 and 6 of season 2, "After Party" and "Higher Love".
- Punny Name:
- Race Lift:
- In-universe example when Naomi Watts (a white blonde) is cast to play Diane (who is Vietnamese-American).
- A "Species Lift" is done in the same movie with BoJack playing Mr. Peanutbutter and Wallace Shawn playing BoJack.
- Season 4 has Paul Giamatti playing BoJack in the mini-series biopic about Sarah Lynn's life.
- Rage Breaking Point: Season Three has Princess Carolyn hit hers when BoJack, after firing her, mentions in passing that he'd talked the decision over with Ana because he respects her opinion — a courtesy that he'd never given to Princess Carolyn in the course of their twenty-three-year relationship, professional or personal.
- Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: BoJack has a prepared set of cards he wrote for firing Princess Carolyn as his agent. Not only does he read all of the stage directions out loud, but he also gets the pages out of order and mixed up with jokes from a Roast.
- Reality Ensues:
- The paparazzi, despite asking for a Comically Small Demand, are instead threatened with being thrown in jail for taking unauthorized pictures in private property if they don't hand them over and walk away with nothing.
- Turtletaub fires Kelsey for the insubordination alone and replaces her with a director who proceeds to turn the movie into an even bigger piece of Tastes Like Diabetes. In "The Shot", BoJack and Kelsey go behind Turtletaub's back to film a scene involving a powerfully emotional event in Secretariat's life despite the latter having vetoed it in favor of safer schmaltzy antics.
- BoJack's insensitive attitude and actions caused outright fallout with people he used to be friends with, and they won't go back to normal in the next episode. Just like Herb will never forgive BoJack, which shows that some people will just never forgive you, no matter how genuinely apologetic you are, and how painful a rejection of your sincere apology can be.
- Todd being asexual causes a strain on his relationship with Emily, who is sexually active and has romantic feelings for Todd. Much like in real life, being asexual can be extremely difficult for similar reasons.
- Reality Subtext: An odd In-Universe one, as this is a big contributor for why BoJack's script reading for the "Secretariat" movie was as good as it was.Script-Reader: When you're out there on that there race-track, what are you running from?Secretariat!BoJack: You wanna know the truth? Nothing.Script-Reader: Everyone's running from something, sugar.Secretariat!BoJack: No, I'm... I'm running from nothing. I'm terrified of nothing. People come up to me, they want my autograph, they want my picture. They think they recognize something in me, and I want to be that person that they think I am, but I'm not. They see a greatness in me, and they mistake it for goodness, but I... I know there's nothing there. As fast as I run, I can't get away from that.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
BoJack: Maybe because you're skinny and maybe 'cause you're pretty you're used to getting away with things, but I want you to know that your actions have an effect on others, and I hate you, and you are a HORRIBLE person! And you not understanding that you're not a horrible person doesn't make you any less of a horrible person!
- BoJack tries to give one to a dumb blonde girl who picks on him at a bar one night.
Sara Lynn: You sit up here in your little house and feel sorry for yourself? Ugh, guess what BoJay: in order to be a has-been, you actually have to have, y'know, been!
- Though not quite as intense (or justified) as later moments, Sara Lynn's towards BoJack in "Prickly Muffin" is pretty nasty:
Herb: I'm not gonna give you closure. You don't get that. You have to live with the shitty thing you did for the rest of your life. You have to know that it's never, ever going to be okay! I'm dying! I'm not gonna feel better! And I'm not gonna be your prop so you can feel better! Do you know what it was like for me? I had nobody. Everybody left! I knew all those showbiz phonies would turn on me, sure. But you? I don't care about the job! I did fine! I had a good life, but what I needed then was... a friend. And you abandoned me. And I will never forgive you for that. Now get the fuck out of my house!
- In "The Telescope", Herb gives one to BoJack in the form of a Rejected Apology.
Herb: You know what your problem is? You want to think of yourself as the good guy. Well, I know you better than anyone, and I can tell you that you're not. In fact, you'd probably sleep a lot better at night if you just admitted to yourself that you're a selfish goddamn coward who just takes whatever he wants and doesn't give a shit about who he hurts. That's you. That's BoJack Horseman.
- In "The Telescope", Herb gives another, bitterer one before BoJack leaves.
Beatrice: I just wanted to tell you that I know. I know you want to be happy, but you won't be... and I'm sorry.
- BoJack's mother Beatrice gives her son one in "Brand New Couch":
Beatrice: It's not just you, you know. Your father and I, we, well... you come by it honestly, the ugliness inside you. You were born broken, that's your birthright. And now you can fill your life with projects: your books and your movies and your little girlfriends but... that won't make you whole. You're BoJack Horseman. There's no cure for that.
Mental voice: Talk to your daughter. You're ruining her. You know that, right? No matter what, your poison is already in her. There's nothing you can do.
- The entire Season 4 episode "Stupid Piece of Sh*t" is a voice in BoJack's head giving these to him. The big one comes at the end:
—>BoJack: That's not true!
—>Mental voice: Yeah, it is! You stupid piece of shit. You're a real stupid piece of shit, and everywhere you go you destroy people. 'Course your mother never loved you. What'd you expect? That's why Sarah Lynn died! That's why Charlotte will never forgive you! What're you going to do to Hollyhock? What're you going to do, asshole?!
—>BoJack: SHUT UP!
- Record Needle Scratch: Played straight in "Later" when Vincent arrives at the party to confess his love for Princess Carolyn and played with in "Yesterdayland" when Wanda learns that Alex has also just woken from a thirty-year coma.Radio presenter: Whoa! Sorry about that needle skip, folks. Let's start that song again from the beginning.
- Recurring Element: Many.
- Each season, BoJack loses someone he truly cared about from his past:
- In Season 1, Herb. BoJack and him were already on bad terms, due to BoJack's betrayal and the fact he never apologized or called during the twenty years that passed in the meantime and goes back to apologize when Herb is in his deathbed. After a nice visit, Herb refuses to forgive BoJack just so when he feels better about himself. After a physical fight between them, what little friendship they had left is destroyed. By season 2, Herb finally dies.
- In Season 2, Charlotte. He runs away from L.A. to talk with her after almost twenty years, only to then learn that she now has a family and is Happily Married. Even then, he still tries to get closer to her by getting closer to her daughter, this then backfires when she falls in love with him and Charlotte outright rejects him when he finally confesses. This was already bad enough, but then Charlotte caught BoJack and Penny almost having sex, resulting in her threatening to kill him if he ever got near them again.
- In Season 3, Sarah Lynn. After pushing away all friends he had left, they go together on a huge bender that takes weeks of them getting drunk and using hardcore drugs. This leads them to to an AA meeting where BoJack decides to try and make amends to everybody he hurt during the last year. It ends badly as nobody accepts the apology of a drunken BoJack who keeps getting drunken blackouts. When they finally have a heart to heart with in which they admit they truly love each other due to meeting before fame and before anyone wanting anything from them, Sarah Lynn decides to go back to college and tries again to follow a childhood dream of being an architect, and BoJack takes them to the observatory so they can see the starts, but by then Sarah Lynn dies sleeping in his arms.
- Season 3 subtly played the theme of family: Diane meets Mr. Peanutbutter's brother and his kids, she gets pregnant, though she decides to have an abortion. In the same episode, Sextina reveals she's pregnant and wants to keep the baby, in a flashback, Princess Carolyn's boss lamented he never got to have a wife or a family, BoJack has to take care of a baby seahorse and turn him back to his father, Rutabaga and his wife have kids and Gecko holds one of the babies, Princess Carolyn talks about her mother and her childhood to BoJack and so on. Doubles as foreshadowing, as the last episode implies BoJack has a daughter he did not know about.
- Each season's eleventh episode is the darkest one. The twelfth episodes are lighter but leave a Cliffhanger except season 3 which doubles down on the sadness of the previous episode and leaves a Cliffhanger.
- Each season, BoJack loses someone he truly cared about from his past:
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: BoJack acts as blue, with both Todd and Mr. Penutbutter alternating as his red counterpart.
- Red Shirt: Parodied in "The Shot" when Alan, the cable repairman, is roped into taking part of a break-in by the rest of the cast, and everyone keeps saying that "one of them might not come out of this alive". Every time they do, they all stare at him. He is also wearing a red shirt. Bonus points for being a panda. Subverted. He lives.Alan: "I can't die, I'm endangered!"
- Refuge in Audacity: Averted in the show at large, but played straight in-universe when BoJack gives some choice words on Todd's rock opera:BoJack: That was, and I don't say this lightly, worse than a hundred September 11ths.
- Regretful Traitor: Arguably deconstructed. BoJack was this to Herb, as he was reluctant to betray his friend and felt terrible about it... but not so reluctant that he wouldn't do it, and not so terrible that he wouldn't continue to ignore Herb for twenty years afterward, until Herb was on his deathbed.
- Rejected Apology: After visiting his old friend Herb, who he had stabbed in the back when he promised to support him when he came out of the closet, BoJack apologizes to him. Herb says he doesn't accept it. BoJack's confused, so Herb clarifies: He's not going to forgive him, he's not going to give him peace of mind, and BoJack is going to have to live with the horrible thing he did for the rest of his life.
- Repeat After Me: In a Running Gag, when custom printing appears, it usually has some instructions that the printer has idiotically left in.CONGRATS DIANE AND MR. PEANUT BUTTERPEANUT BUTTER IS ONE WORD DON’T WRITE ONE WORD
- The Reveal: Henrietta, the name Beatrice calls Bojack throughout season 4, was the name of Beatrice's maid, who was impregnated by Butterscotch in an extramarital affair. Butterscotch was able to talk Beatrice into asking Henrietta to get an abortion, but she ended up conceding to pay Henrietta's tuition and convincing her to give the baby up for adoption, believing this to be a compromise between Henrietta's desire to have the baby and Beatrice's wish to not let another woman be poisoned by her attachment to Butterscotch. The baby she had grew up to be Hollyhock.
- Rewatch Bonus: Once we learn who Henrietta is (Beatrice and Butterscotch's maid who Butterscotch got pregnant with Hollyhock), the way Beatrice treats Bojack all season (who she refers to as Henrietta) makes more sense and gains context and even subtext (such as "You're unfit to be a parent, Henrietta).
- Ridiculous Procrastinator: BoJack with his memoir. The first episode mentions that he hasn't written a word, even after being given a year and a half to, and will look for an excuse not to work any time he's shown attempting to. Granted, it's mostly because he's too ashamed to admit how bad his life has been and is only writing it so people will like him again.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Hank Hippopopalous' scandal involving his former assistants is very similar to Bill Cosby's own rape allegations, the media and much of the public's (initial) "would not, could not" response to the allegations and the media's Unfortunate Implications-laden response to Diane and its attempts to brush it off. The major difference was that, while never incarcerated (thus far), it's permanently ruined his public image.
- The Rival: Vanessa Gekko is Princess Carolyn's. Mr. Peanutbutter is BoJack's but it's mostly one-sided since the former considers the latter his friend, however they did engage in many petty competitions in order to impress Diane in "Our A Story is a D Story."
- Rock Bottom: By the end of Season 3, Bojack has alienated nearly everyone who cares about him.
- Rousing Speech: At the end of "Out to Sea", the jogger stands over a wheezing, out-of-breath BoJack to deliver the season's inspirational final lines:Jogger: It gets easier.
Jogger: Every day, it gets a little easier.
Jogger: But you gotta do it every day. That's the hard part. But it does get easier.
(The jogger runs off)
BoJack: (thinks) ...Okay.
- Rule of Symbolism: There's a lot of drowning symbolism in this series: notable examples include BoJack's painting in his office, his falling into the pool in his intro, and Sarah Lynn's painting of Hamlet's Ophelia.
- Running Gag:
""I would love to take down Hippopopalous and finally topple the acropolis of monstrous hypocrisy that ensconces us."
- Honeydew melon being positioned as "a garbage fruit".
- Several episodes per season feature a character relaying information as an elaborate tongue twister. One example:
Radio Host: Good morning, Hollywood! It's a beautiful sunny morning in 2007!
- Season Two introduces a poor bird whose only role is to get slammed by doors opening, causing a flurry of feathers to appear.
- Whenever there's a flashback to an earlier decade, there will always be blatant reminders of the era: a pan across the city, with store names being topical remarks about the time period; a stereotypical-sounding pop/rock song of the era, with lyrics reminding the viewer of the era; and the characters repeatedly declaring what year it is and making references to things that were popular in that particular year or decade.
Princess Carolyn: Oh my God, 2007? Is that what time it is? I gotta get my Uggs on and get to work!
- Printers using Repeat After Me for every T-shirt, banner and announcement.
- Each season, Diane's ringtone is played by a different personality from NPR: Ira Glass in season one, Sarah Koening in season two, Terry Gross (with Jonathan Lethem) in season three, and Robert Siegel (with Audie Cornish) in season four.
- Ruritania: The war-torn totalitarian nation of Cordovia.
- Santa's Existence Clause: In the "Horsin' Around" Christmas special, BoJack tries to get Sabrina to believe in Santa Claus, telling her that he'll bring her anything she wants. Unfortunately, what Sabrina wants is her dead parents back. BoJack struggles to let her down easily without destroying her belief in Christmas. On Christmas morning, Sabrina finds a letter under the tree supposedly written by her parents, but this isn't enough for her. After she storms off, BoJack is forced to tell her that Santa isn't real, but what Santa represents is still something worth believing in. At the end of the episode, BoJack reveals that he didn't write the letter and neither did the other kids. The special ends with a familiar jolly laugh. (Todd needs to have this plot point explained to him.)
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: One of the Netflix extras has BoJack trying out for other Netflix roles. One of them has him auditioning for Orange Is the New Black, only to leave when he finds that the role he's auditioning for is for the Larry story.
- Self-Deprecation: Terminally ill Herb invites BoJack and Diane inside:"Please, come in. You're letting out the cancer."
- On a meta note, Garry Marshall, a director known for hacky, clichéd, overly sentimental movies plays Abe, a director who turns Secretariat into a hacky, clichéd, overly sentimental movie.
- Sarah Lynn believing that Diane's character is just "asian Daria, with the glasses and the jacket, and her whole 'blah' thing."
- Cuddlywhiskers showing up in the middle of "That's Too Much, Man!" and explaining that it was a poor choice to use "a disjointed blackout structure with the one flashback in the middle" as a structure for the episode.
- "Commence Fracking" attempts to set up another long flashback sequence to 1999 akin to those in "The Telescope" and "The Bojack Horseman Show" only for Hollyhock to stop it by saying "I don't need a long story, just get to the point". If you look at the buildings in the background, the traditional Reference Overdosed humor is replaced◊ with generic messages like "It's another flashback!" and "Relevant billboard".
- Severely Specialized Store: "Halloween in January".
- Ship Tease: Bojack and Diane have this early in the show.
JD Salinger: "Get me a red bull and a bananafish sandwich!"Todd: "On it! It's a perfect day for a red bull!"
- In the Season 1 finale, it is revealed that character actress Margo Martindale is serving her time in the same prison as the cast of fellow Netflix show, Orange Is the New Black.
- "Still Broken" has a subtle nod to Arrested Development, which Will Arnett also starred in, with Herb telling Joelle in a flashback that "family is the most important thing".
- BoJack's dressing room mirror in "The Telescope" has several sticky notes with quotes from Rick and Morty on them.
- Actor Andrew Garfield has a number of similarities to Garfield, such has loving lasagnas and hating Mondays. Only Todd seems to notice.
- In "BoJack Hates The Troops," during Tom Jumbo-Grumbo's newscast, one of the headlines on the ticker at the bottom of the screen reads "Government declares war is good for absolutely nothing, says it again."
- In "Downer Ending" we get an Akira-style body horror meltdown of Diane during BoJack's Mushroom Samba.
- Before that, BoJack visits a very Lucy van Pelt-looking version of Diane for psychological advice.
- Herb Kazaaz's production company Vanity Plate at the end of Horsin' Around is done in the style of Al Hirschfeld celebrity caricatures.
- From what we see of Decapathon VII, it's a puzzle game apparently identical to Columns.
- The Teaser to "Let's Find Out" is a clear homage to Birdman, with the same "one-shot" style and jazzy drum score.
- The rest of the episode takes the common elements and gently transfers from there to an episode long homage to the media focused works of Aaron Sorkin.
- There are many shout-outs to famous artworks and artists in the background. BoJack apparently owns a version of David Hockney's "Pool with two Figures◊" except featuring a horse◊ (possibly himself). He also owns a version of Henri Mattise's "Danse◊" but with animals instead of humans◊. Herb owned several paintings, presumably by Jean-Michel Basquiat, of BoJack◊. In the past BoJack apparently owned a few paintings◊ by Keith Haring. There are also references to Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus◊" featuring, what else, an elephant as Aphrodite◊, an "OBAAA" poster◊ by Shepard Fairey, and Manet's "Olympia◊" as a shark◊. "That's Too Much, Man!" starts with a closeup of Sarah Lynn's copy of Millais' "Ophelia" featuring herself, thus foreshadowing her eventual death.
- Season 3's "Fish Out Of Water" has an homage to Modern Times when BoJack and the baby seahorse get to the factory the baby's father works at.
- Ralph Stilton's name is a reference to the children's book series Geronimo Stilton. A at the end of his "non-date" with Princess Carolyn, he references another with this line when she realizes she won't have time for another date with him.Ralph: What? Did I say something? Is it because I asked for the glass of milk? Because if you give me a cookie-
- There are a few references to JD Salinger's lesser known works
- Come Season 4, we find out that mice have a holiday dubbed "The Feast of St. Squeaky", about a heroic mouse that killed an evil cat-king.
- When Mr. Peanutbutter is chasing down his phone in the sewers, the maintenance workers he passes by are four turtles wearing blue, orange, red, and purple shirts and bandanas.
- In the planetarium theater where Sarah Lynn dies, she and BoJack appear as black silhouettes against the screen.
- The scene in "That Went Well" where Mr. Peanutbutter and the Cabracadabra girls drive to the beach to deal with the giant wad of spaghetti about to destroy Pacific Ocean City, the shot of the cars driving full speed down the beach is a direct riff of one of the most famous shots from Mad Max: Fury Road.
- A recurring background character wears a shirt referencing The Misfits, except it reads "The Misprints."
- There's a poster for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof featuring a feline Elizabeth Taylor.
- Princess Carolyn's office includes a copy of "Purrsepolis."
- Show Within a Show: Horsin' Around, Mr. Peanutbutter's House, Excess Hollywoo, and MSNBSea.
- Sibling Yin-Yang/Polar Opposite Twins: Mr. Peanutbutter's House featured two twin sisters: Zelda and Zoe who were adopted by the titular dog. Zelda was a happy-go-lucky extrovert while Zoe was a cynical introvert. Their character traits spawn an in-universe meme: "Are you a Zelda or a Zoe?"
- Signs of Disrepair: After the "D" from the iconic Hollywood sign is stolen (and later destroyed), the region is renamed "Hollywoo".
- Between BoJack and his publicist, Ana, in Season 3, as it started out by having him fire her — which only served to turn her on because nobody asserts themselves with her.
- In Season 4, this is how Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane resolve their increasingly loud arguments – by having hot, passionate sex right after screaming at each other.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The show's ultimate message is that love and happiness are obtainable, but not easily so, putting it near the middle but closer to cynical. The first three seasons sees it sliding further and further towards cynical, teetering on nihilistic. However, the fourth season gets more optimistic.
- Slow Clap: Quentin Tarantulino, being a tarantula, is able to start and escalate one on his own.
- Small Name, Big Ego: BoJack shifts between thinking he's a great actor who's just misunderstood to outright loathing himself.
- Snap Back: Averted, as the overall show is about BoJack learning to keep responsibilities and live with the consequences of his actions.
- So Bad, It's Good: In-universe, Emily tells BoJack how she loves "The BoJack Horseman Show" because of how bad it is and repeatedly affirms that she enjoys it ironically and not sincerely, to BoJack's frustration.
- Somewhere, an Equestrian Is Crying: Horses can't vomit. Then again they also can't talk.
- Species Surname:
- BoJack Horseman and Pinky Penguin.
- Subverted with Vanessa Gekko who is a human and Cameron Crow who is a raven, plus Matthew Fox (a wolf) and Scott Wolf (a fox).
- Stage Mom:
Sarah's Mother: Sweetheart, Mommy didn't do what Mommy did to that "Star Search" producer so that you could be an architect.
- Sarah Lynn had one.
Beatrice Horseman: You want your mommy to love you? Then you go out there, and you do the only thing you're good for, which is singing the god-damned lollipop song!
- And BoJack wasn't fit to help Sara-Lynn due to his having experienced this trope with his own mother.
- Standard Snippet: "Pictures At An Exhibition — Promenade" plays during Princess Carolyn's Imagine Spot when she imagines living in one of the paintings at the discount art store.
- Start My Own: During Season 2, Princess Carolyn and Rutabaga plan on leaving Vigor and starting their own agency. Then when their affair collapses, Rutabaga signing everything to Princess is used against him as she shuts him out of the company.
- Start of Darkness: Diane implies that BoJack's troubles come at least partially from his own parents, that play a sort of Greater-Scope Villain through the first seasons. Beatrice mentions in season 2 that the bad things BoJack goes through aren't exclusive of him, and that the Horseman family is virtually cursed. This is expanded in "The Old Sugarman Place" and "Time's Arrow" in season 4, which shows the story that led to Beatrice and Butterscotch's bitterness and resentment towards BoJack, particularly Beatrice's past and her own Abusive Parents, with her brother's death causing her mother to go insane and get lobotomized by her father and a series of events that left her traumatized including getting scarlet fever. An accidental pregnancy causes them to run away together and marry but they grow resentful of each other and dump their bitterness on BoJack.
- Status Quo Is God: While the show has a lot of continuity, some changes are reversed to keep the general structure of the show. It also deconstructs the way this trope normally works in sitcoms, by showing how miserable and frustrating it can actually be to live a life where major changes never stick and you have to keep relearning the same lessons.
- Todd becomes a millionaire, but accidentally tips his entire fortune at a restaurant just a short while later.
- Bojack's depression: happiness is fleeting for him, and so despite his many successes, he will always return to being miserable.
- Stealth Pun: After she quits Vigor with Rutabaga, Princess Carolyn starts VIM, making the two talent agencies VIM and Vigor.
- This comes back in Season 4, when Charlie Witherspoon tells PC about how he wanted to merge the two agencies into one agency called… Vimgor.
- Stock Scream: A Wilhelm Scream is heard in the first episode when a Penguin Publishing employee jumps out of a window.
- A rare non-human example happens in "Time's Arrow" when Beatrice vomits on Corbyn Creamerman (who is a goat) he lets out an infamous goat scream.
- Straight Gay: Herb. The discovery of his sexuality led to him being blacklisted.
- Strictly Formula: Not the episodes themselves, but each season follows a strict pattern of events: a season-long arc is established, things go mostly okay for several episodes, then the tenth episode sets up something monumental. In the eleventh episode, Bojack will do something utterly horrid, ending with him at his emotional lowest, only to get a little bit of hope back by the end of the twelfth episode as all of the smaller plot threads wrap up, with new ones being set up for the next season. Somewhere in the middle of it all is a single f-bomb for when BoJack ruins a relationship beyond repair.
- Season 4 surprisingly bucks the trend. Episode 11 is largely a dementia-triggered flashback to various parts of Beatrice's life, showing the events that turned her into the bitter woman that contributed so heavily to BoJack's trauma; at the very end, she becomes lucid enough to recognize her son again, but instead of chewing her out like he'd wanted to, BoJack chooses to comfort her instead. Throughout the season, BoJack shows signs of character development, slowly patching up his relationships with the rest of the main cast and even performing some genuinely selfless actions. He doesn't even wreck any new ones this time around. The big incident is really only his fault through negligence, with someone else actively behind it; the victim also doesn't blame him for what happened and is willing to remain friends afterwards. Finally, the Precision F-Strike is used offhandedly when BoJack is planning something that doesn't end up happening.
- Stylistic Suck:
- The Horsin' Around Christmas Special throws in every lame pun, gimmick and sitcom plot device imaginable. And it is hilarious!
- There's also the BoJack Horseman website. It is, put lightly, a horribly outdated eyesore filled with self-complimentary lies. Since it is supposed to have been made by BoJack in-character, however, it fits.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: When Princess Carolyn is on a (bad) date with an albino rhinoceros who is also a gynecologist.Princess Carolyn: Not if you were the last albino rhino gyno on Earth!Date: Well, I'm the only albino rhino gyno I know. Should we get some wine?Princess Carolyn: Oh great, you're also a wine addict.
- Sunglasses at Night: Officer Meow-Meow Fuzzyface in "Chickens" in order to pull a Horatio-esque one-liner. Lampshaded by Todd.Todd: Why was he wearing sunglasses at night?
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: "Keep Drivin'" from Season 3 currently provides the page quote.
- Sweater Girl: Joseph Sugarman's secretary is said to be this in the 1940s flashbacks
T — Y
- Take That!:
Chicken4Dayz Executive: Relax, Tommy. Everything we do is completely legal and FDA-approved, so therefore it is fine.
- Season 2's "Chickens" has a two-fer.
Tom Jumbo-Grumbo: I have no follow-up questions.
Officer Meow-Meow Fuzzyface: Don't worry ma'am. We'll bring your daughter home, dead or alive.
- And later...
Kelsey Jannings: Alive. Alive!
Fuzzyface: We're the LAPD, ma'am. We'll probably make the right call.
- Season 1's "Downer Ending" had BoJack and Todd, strung out on drugs, come up with the obvious solution to the US's gun crisis — everyone gets a gun so they don't have to fear guns.
- The "Titpuncher" webside in "Hank After Dark", spoofing similar outwardly misogynistic websites, complete with an advert on the side about "Sandwiches: how they should be made for you".
- Season 3 has Ethan pitch "Ethan Around", an obvious jab at Fuller House, right down to the copycat premise of the original series.
- The list of Oscar nominees Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter come up with in "It's You" is meant as a jab at the Academy and its nomination practices. There are shots at the frequent lack of diversity among the nominees ("Black people?" and "Freida Pinto" are seen crossed out on the whiteboard), as well as the Academy's habit of picking the same actors over and over again ("Cate Blanchett" and "Jennifer Lawrence" are seen written multiple times, with a total of seven nominations for the latter).
- Season 4 has a multitude of Funny Background Events aimed at the President, including a news-ticker thread where he complains about the "fake news" not covering his achievements in the ball & cup game.
- Tempting Fate: A dark historical joke in "Time's Arrow" where a young Beatrice laments on the then-recent assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers and later remarks "At least Evers' death means no one else will be assassinated this year, 1963. The FBI is on too high alert to let anything like that happen again."
- There Are No Therapists: And how! Pretty much the only thing BoJack doesn't do to help himself is seek therapy.
- Averted in season 3 regarding Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane. After she stayed away from the house pretending to be in Cordovia in season 2, the two of them actually start to go to couples counseling sessions during season 3, though Diane struggles with expressing herself and communicating effectively.
- In "Stop The Presses", BoJack briefly interacts with The Closer, a customer service employee whose keen observations and sense of tact are used specifically when people want to cancel their subscription to ''The L.A. Gazette". Such virtues are used during her interactions with him all the while getting to the root of his problems the same way a normal therapist would do. It's implied that rather than being against the idea of therapy altogether, BoJack is against what it would mean going there: that he has no control over his life.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave:
- Todd, pre-character development.
- His friend, Keith, lives with Jurj Clooners and if his half-joking comment about asking Todd to tell him to "pick up his shit" is true, then he's implied to be just as a moocher. Hell, going by the comments made during the AA meeting in "That's Too Much, Man!", several people are living in celebrities's houses with the disgruntled hosts reacting the same way as BoJack has: sabotage and annoyance.
- This Is Going to Be Huge: A series of them in the 2007 Whole Episode Flashback "The Bojack Horseman Show":
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Season 4 serves as one for BoJack himself, as well as Todd. By really, truly changing for the better, BoJack earns the right to a happy ending. He creates a good, lasting relationship with Hollyhock, begins the steps to repairing his friendship with Todd, and begins working with P.C. for her sake rather than his own. By being selfless in multiple instances (such as him finding Hollyhock's mother all on his own, talking about his mental issues to Hollyhock in a way that she can understand, taking the high road with his ailing mother and showing genuine appreciation for the people around him, BoJack finally succeeds in turning his life around, even just a little. Todd, on the other hand, becomes self-reliant during this season, and learns to value himself more. By doing this, he becomes much happier in life, and begins to live on his own terms rather than mooching off of PB, PC or BoJack.
- This Is Reality: In "Prickly-Muffin," BoJack cites Horsin' Around as an example of good parenting; Todd responds that this is real life, not a TV show. He is immediately interrupted by a flaming lemur running into the room and smashing through the wall on the other side, leaving an Impact Silhouette in his wake.
- Time Skip: Season Two takes place a month after Season One's finale.
- Title Drop: For the episode "Downer Ending", this is Todd's verbatim reaction to the original idea for the end of BoJack's book.
- Season 4's "Stupid Piece of Sh*t" starts off with BoJack's Inner Monologue calling him this as his first thought upon waking.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Beloved Character actress Margo Martindale namechecks the trope almost verbatim when she mourns for Skippy, the paper mache Todd head that has become her imaginary friend.
- Too Soon: "Thoughts and Prayers" discusses in-universe cases of it a lot, as the Ms. Taken movie, filled to the brim with gun violence, gets edited down more and more as mass shootings become more frequent and make the movie untimely. A movie about a klutzy babysitter was also shelved for being unfortunately titled Hurricane Sandy.
- Totem Pole Trench: Vincent Adultman, he even fills out the sleeves with a mannequin arm and a broom. Nobody questions him at all except for BoJack, leading the viewer to almost expect the trope to have been subverted all along given the nature of the show.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Toaster Strudels, cotton candy, and apple fritters for BoJack.
- Triang Relations: A major plot line is the evolution of BoJack's relationship with Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter, including how they perceive it to be and how it really is.
- BoJack falls in love with Diane, who's in a committed relationship with his rival, Mr. Peanutbutter—who, for his part, genuinely likes BoJack and is always trying to become his friend, despite the constant rejection.
- Then, when they start working together: Diane's focused on BoJack, whose interest for her is growing, yet only for his biography and is truly in love with Mr. Peanutbutter, who yearns to be BoJack's friend much to the latter's displeasure and annoyance. At the same time, as feelings start coming to the upfront, both the horse and the labrador end up in the same running path to win Diane's heart, putting them in conflict as rivals, all while Diane remains oblivious for the most part, especially regarding BoJack's real feelings.
- And then it gets really weird thanks to BoJack starting to make actual efforts to win Diane over, while Diane remains devoted to Mr. Peanutbutter while at the same time seeing her relationship with BoJack grow as a strong bond of friendship. Followed very swiftly by Type 8 when both of her suitors's relationship evolves from a one-sided friendship to a two-sided rivalry to a reluctant partnership, complete with uneasy civil treatment.
- Meanwhile, from Diane's point of view, it's more of a Type 10 with a more platonic edge: she's in a committed relationship but has feelings for BoJack in a way (sort of). As if it wasn't complicated enough, PB and BoJack's evolving interactions result in a slow slide into Type 11, with Mr. Peanutbutter's desire of BoJack's friendship turning out to have some possible romantic undertones as well.
- True Art Is Angsty: In-Universe, Season Three reveals that this was the downfall of BoJack's other show, as he and Mr. Cuddlywhiskers were thrown off by the Network Executives having zero complaints about the original script — so they reworked it to the point that the opening scene is BoJack taking a dump on a "Horsin' Around" VHS.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Meta-example — Wanda is seen carrying a script for a show entitled "Fat Guy Hot Wife".
- Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000: Todd is addicted to a game series called Decapathon, which appears to be this trope at first glance, starting with the title. The cover art and menu screen feature a sword-wielding Barbarian Hero posing with a severed head to a Heavy Metal soundtrack. Ultimately subverted when the actual gameplay turns out to be an abstract Puzzle Game in the same vein as Columns or Bejeweled.
- Unfortunate Names: The kid who played Ethan on Horsin' Around is named Bradley Hitler-Smith.
- The Unreveal: hen we finally see the real Henrietta, her face is scribbled out
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Played with several ways as far as the main characters are concerned.
- BoJack is presented at first as the archetypical jackass whose problems and foibles are usually the cause of his insufferable personality, especially with how needy and pathetic he has become after years of being a star and falling out of the public grace. Once Diane, his personal ghostwriter, starts digging a bit deeper, he's revealed to be far more complex than initially thought: he has a helluva Freudian Excuse, he can be more intelligent than he lets on and in spite of his cynicism and impulse to Kick the Dog, he's quite aware of how little does this do to help him out of his increasing depression and feels guilty about it. Once that's out of the bag, though, BoJack's double whammy comes out front: he knows how to change, but is unwilling and incapable of changing. Hollywoo(d) has accustomed him to a certain livelihood and he doesn't intend in leaving it, even if that addiction keeps killing him. In short: complex motivations, overcomplicating an otherwise easily solvable problem.
- Princess Carolyn, while miles more understanding and better than BoJack, is probably far more pettier: as a Hollywood(d) agent, she has little in the way of scruples that stop her from exploiting anything valuable or sentimental, especially if doing so results in a jackpot of money down her way. She's also calculating and brutally honest, with a side dish of jerk behavior if things are to be kept in order and as much as she bemoans having to clean BoJack's screw-ups and not having time for herself, she often implies she craves it to be this way and feeds off their co-dependence just as he does to heighten her self-esteem. Furthermore, her backstory portrays her as the daughter of an alcoholic maid who pulled herself from the depths of poverty to the place she occupies today and as such, this has created the need to solve other people's problems and to aspire to higher places, which renders her unable to form any life outside of work.
- Diane is a downplayed example: she's nice, hardworking and never completely means ill-will toward anybody, at least as long as nobody is attacking causes or people she cares about. But a lot of her actions are motivated by less-than-noble purposes and have bigger repercussions, often leading to instances where she ends up in a bad place because of her decisions. Not to say her vindictive streak and sense of self-importance that can lead to glory stomping out emotions, friendships and even logic. That being said, she's shown to have suffered a similar background like BoJack and has come to empathize with him in ways much more deeper than either realize, even if she can still exploit him and lash out to him. Her abusive childhood has shaped her sense of inferiority which she counters with new purposes and desire for love.
- Equally downplayed with Mr. Peanutbutter, who's a Nice Guy for the most part except when unpleasant topics arise at which point his passive-aggressiveness and oblivious nature get turned Up to Eleven as auto-protection. This leads him to show little empathy toward others and fail to understand how to handle it in a healthy way, resorting to suppressing it outright and exploding when it becomes too much for him to handle. His perspective is also pure Straw Nihilist with his antics and foolishness often ways he distracts himself from the horridness of living and makes him do a lot of really stupid things, which contributes to people seeing him as common Hollywoo(d) shallowness. He can admit he's wrong when he feels he's gone too far and can occasionally confront an obstacle when there's no other way around it.
- Averted with Todd. While he has selfish moments, he's by far the most innocent and perhaps the only constantly decent person in the cast.
- Unusual Euphemism:
- Princess Carolyn's "Oh, fish!"
- Sarah Lynn's hit single refers to her private parts as her "prickly muffin", which was the pet name BoJack's character had for her on TV.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In "Our A Story Is A 'D' Story," in an effort to distract citizens from the helicopter bringing the 'D' back to the Hollywood sign, BoJack begins throwing a wad of dollar bills into the street. Of course, because they're only $1 bills, nobody cares. Beyoncé tripping on the bills, however...
- Vanity License Plate: BoJack has two: "HORSINA" on his black SUV and "WOAHBOY" on his red convertible. Mr. Peanutbutter has "GOODBOY" on his car. Diane has "D1AN3" on hers.
- Season 3 has BoJack receiving a new Tesla, with the plate reading "GOHORSE".
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Secretariat becomes a Cliché Storm with Secretariat in love with a French debutanté and teaching Latino gangbangers after Kelsey is fired.
- Very Special Episode: In-Universe in a flashback in "Still Broken", Joelle complains to the recently-fired Herb that all of the show's writing has focused on Sarah Lynn and her character has gotten little attention.Joelle: I haven't gotten a single "very special episode", when am I going to learn about drunk driving?
BoJack: Oh, God, this is just like the episode of Horsin' Around when Olivia went to the frat party, but Penny doesn't have a kind angel played by Jose Canseco to help her get out of this jam!
- It later gets a Call-Back in "That's Too Much, Man!" when BoJack believes (mistakenly) Penny might've started drinking after their near romp in "Escape From L.A." just because she's drinking Red Bull.
- Villain with Good Publicity: "Hank After Dark" hinges on this, and nobody will believe that someone as iconic and sweet as Hank Hippopopalous could do anything as bad as what Diane accuses him of.
- Visual Pun: A huge amount involving the Petting Zoo People, including a bunch of foxes sitting in a trench in Cordovia.
- Warts and All: BoJack drops this quote multiple times in reference to Diane's book, after the events of "BoJack Hates the Troops". When he actually sees the book towards the end of the series, the confrontingly negative portrayal of him causes him to mentally break down.
- We Used to Be Friends: Friendships, relationships and familiar bonds are often portrayed as tenuous at best, with work having to be done on both sides to hold everything together. In spite of its constant messages of "friendship and love is the only way to be fulfilled" and "relationships can help you be stronger", it doesn't shy away from telling you how easily such bonds can be broken.
- Herb Kazaaz was once BoJack's mentor, going as far as to create his first TV show specifically for his friend. The two would eventually grow distant due to their bloating egos, but the final straw came when the network fired Herb after it was revealed that he was gay and BoJack didn't come to his aide. BoJack's efforts to make amends twenty years later only made it worse.
- Then in season 2, Charlotte Moore. A mutual friend of BoJack and Herb during the golden days, she has since moved to Tesuque. One chance reencounter and suddenly BoJack visits her once Secretariat 's filming goes through a drastic shift in tone and his relationship with Wanda goes sideways, believing her to be the one....only for Charlotte to tell her she's now married with kids. While the details should be left elsewhere, the deal breaker involves Charlotte's daughter, BoJack and a furious Charlotte with a sword hanging upon the horse's head should he decide to contact them ever again. How will she react when she finds out about his visit to Oberlin College?
- Season 3 ends with BoJack still estranged from Todd and possibly from Princess Carolyn. As of Season 4, he's on civil, speaking terms with both, but Todd mentions in one episode that he's still not ready to be friends with BoJack again.
- Princess Carolyn and Rutabaga Rabbinowitz from Vigor had a long standing relationship that barring certain workplace backstabbing was a supporting one based on mutual recognition of their talents and sense of being under-appreciated (Princess by Vigor and Mr. Witherspoon, Rutabaga by his wife Katie); once reaching a boiling point, Rutabaga, in a whim, decides to divorce Katie and secede from Vigor, with Princess Carolyn starting to notice he's seeing her differently. Yep, he wants her to be his partner. And sleep with her. As their relationship continues, PC starts to notice he's not really listening to any of her suggestions for the company despite supposedly being partners, he's talking more to Katie again and the property supposedly bought by the two has being signed to "her name". And once the bridges with Vigor have been burned, Carolyn discovers Rutabaga didn't quite divorce his wife or intends to in any sort of way. Maybe continuing their fling while still being married? After all, she's 40: She should feel glad someone like him actually wants to be with her in spite of her age. Three guesses how did she react at the revelation. When he reappears in season 3, he and Princess Carolyn barely speak to one another with all ties severed, with Rabbinowitz having paired with The Rival Vanessa Gekko to oppose her in the agency business, although with a more Just Business approach.
- Wham Episode: Many episodes in the latter halves of both Season 1 and Season 2, especially "The Telescope", "Downer Ending" and "Escape to L.A." There are so many there's even a page dedicated to them.
- Wham Line:
- Throughout the first season, BoJack tries to get in contact with a friend of his from back in his Horsin' Around days — Herb Kazazz, who he discovers through Sarah Lynn is dying of rectal cancer. Finally, in "Say Anything", he finally receives a phone call from Herb.BoJack: Holy shit. Herb! How the hell are you, buddy?
Herb: Ruin any lives lately? I got your message, asshole. You got something to say to me, you come out to Malibu and say it to my face. I'll be alive tomorrow. After that, who knows?
- In "The Telescope", BoJack finally works up the courage to apologise to Herb, at which point Herb outright rejects BoJack's apology, leading into his crushing "The Reason You Suck" Speech, and one of the first genuinely serious and heartbreaking moments on the show.BoJack: I'm sorry.
Herb: Okay. I don't forgive you.
- When BoJack finally receives a copy of his memoirs, penned by Diane: "One Trick Pony"
- At the end of the same episode:BoJack: ...Maybe you're right.
BoJack: No. You're fired.
- At the end of the same episode:
- In "Downer Ending," BoJack wakes up in his bedroom after passing out for two days from a drug bender to find Diane sitting next to him. The two make amends and BoJack agrees to let Diane publish her book about him, and she kisses him passionately. Then Diane's eye explodes before she transforms into an Eldritch Abomination.BoJack: Oh shit, I'm still tripping.
- In the same episode, BoJack settles down with Charlotte in Maine and spends the rest of his life happily married and raising a daughter. Then it turns out it was all just an indulgent dream. Even if you see the reveal coming, the delivery of the line is heartbreaking as BoJack is once again forced to confront reality.BoJack: What are you thinking about?Charlotte: Oh, just how nice things could have been if you had chosen this life.(Cue BoJack waking up in a parking lot to the sound of his cell phone ringing.)
- At the end of "The Shot":Turtletaub: Turns out you two knuckleheads snuck out last night and got that shot I told you not to get for the scene that's not in the movie any more. Silly me, I didn't like that. So I fired her ass.
- Near the end of "Out to Sea", Princess Carolyn again mentions Jill Pill's desire to speak to BoJack about the play she's putting together.BoJack: Jill Pill?Carolyn: Ring any bells? Apparently she worked on your TV show.BoJack: Horsin' Around?Carolyn: No actually. The other TV show.BoJack: Other TV show...? Oh, shit! Jill...
- The ending of "That's Too Much, Man!":BoJack: Right, Sarah Lynn? Sarah Lynn? ...Sarah Lynn?
- And just to drive it in even further, at the beginning of the season three finale, "That Went Well," via a newscast:Tom Jumbo-Grumbo: Again, for those just joining us, actress and pop star Sarah Lynn is dead at 31.
- In season 4, given her condition throughout the season, Beatrice's line at the end of "lovin' that cali lifestyle!":Beatrice: Bojack?
- Beatrice's mother in The Old Sugarman Place, providing an explanation for why Beatrice is the way she is today.Honey: Love does things to a person. Terrible things. Beatrice, promise me you'll never love anyone as much as I loved Crackerjack.
- Preceding this was Joseph's setup.Joseph: What's broken in the heart can never be repaired, but the brain, well, we have all sorts of science for the brain. She's a brand-new woman now, and she'd like to meet you very much.
- Preceding this was Joseph's setup.
- And the Season 4 finale provides a positive one.Hollyhock: I told you from the beginning that I have eight dads... but I've never had a brother.
- Throughout the first season, BoJack tries to get in contact with a friend of his from back in his Horsin' Around days — Herb Kazazz, who he discovers through Sarah Lynn is dying of rectal cancer. Finally, in "Say Anything", he finally receives a phone call from Herb.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- After BoJack lets slip to a reporter that his potentially Oscar-winning performance in Secretariat was entirely computer-generated, his publicist Ana ominously says that she's "taken care of it.". Careful viewers will notice that Ana speaks to the reporter on the phone in a later episode, so she didn't have her killed or anything, but what she did do is anyone's guess.
- Near the end of "Escape From L.A." Bojack abandons Penny's two friends at a hospital entrance when one has possible alcohol poisoning from drinking watered-down vodka all night and the other is a jittery panicked mess. Bojack leaves to go back to L.A. before the audience knows if she makes a full recovery or not.
- What the Hell, Hero?: BoJack sells out his best friend for the sake of his own television career. Even Todd casually mentions that this was a pretty cold thing to do.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The episode "Later" serves as this for the first season.
- Who's on First?:
Sarah-Lynn: Hu's not Dr. Quinn, Hu's Dr. Hu.Todd: I don't know.Sarah-Lynn & Dr. Hu: Third base!
- Played straight and Lampshaded with Doctor Hu.
- Season 3 has everyone mistake "Ojai" as being "Oh, hi" whenever it's used on conversation.
- A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Done as a Visual Pun at Diane's wedding, where a wolf talking to an ewe is wearing a Fun T-Shirt that reads, "Sheep".
- Who Writes This Crap?!: Tom Jumbo Grumbo's response to the the MSNBSea news story being called "The Great BoJack Jerk-Off"Tom: Really? That's the best name we came up with? (yelling to someone off camera) Who came up with that? Was it Randy? Did Randy come up with that?
- Whole Episode Flashback: Done a couple times in Season Three — first to 2007 in The BoJack Horseman Show, then Stop The Presses which has BoJack relating current events to "The Closer" for the LA Gazette, which even does a Flashback Within a Flashback a few times.Diane: So that's why I'm late.
BoJack: Why did you tell us that whole story?
Diane: I don't know.
The Closer: Why did you tell me that whole story?
BoJack: I don't know.
- "Time's Arrow" in Season Four mixes this with A Day in the Limelight for Beatrice. Plenty of flashbacks to her childhood also crop up in "The Old Sugarman Place", intertwined with Bojack's struggles in the present.
- Worst News Judgment Ever: An important education bill before Congress gets interrupted by the "Jerk-off".
- Season 4 takes this Up to Eleven in the premiere, where Mr. Peanutbutter challenges the current Governor to a race-off down Devil's Mountain in order to take control of California. This goes on for a month with everyone commenting on it. When the Governor finally explains how it'd be blatantly unconstitutional to decide the Governor in this fashion before saying that if an amendment was passed to allow it, he'd accept, the public is quickly ready to adopt such a plan.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: Lenny Turtletaub speaks this way. BoJack lampshades this in Season 2:Turtletaub: Explain that the widow Day-Lewis. She'll be devastated. Kaput. Kapleshky.
BoJack: Are you Jewish? Because I feel some of these you're just making up.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Princess Carolyn has pink fur.
- You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me: BoJack at the very end of "Fish Out of Water" when he realizes that he was able to speak the whole time, using the microphone on his helmet.
- Your Other Left: BoJack on moving a sofa: "A little to the right... No, house right. That's an acting term. It means left. I'm an actor."
And I'm trying to hold on to my past
It's been so long I don't think I'm gonna last
I guess I'll just try and make you understand
That I'm more horse than a man
Or I'm more man than a horse... (BoJack!)
It's been so long I don't think I'm gonna last
I guess I'll just try and make you understand
That I'm more horse than a man
Or I'm more man than a horse... (BoJack!)