From former Adventure Time storyboard artist and recent CalArts grad Skyler Page comes this Cartoon Network original about the Slice of Life antics of a bunch of elementary school-aged kids from the suburbs of Aberdale, focusing mainly on the chubby, perpetually optimistic and endearingly awkward Clarence, as well as his two best friends, neurotic Jeff and mischief-maker Sumo.The series marks an interesting change of pace for the network. In contrast to the wild, surreal shows Cartoon Network has in its post-CN Real days (Uncle Grandpa, The Amazing World of Gumball, Regular Show, Steven Universe, and of course Adventure Time), Clarence is more down-to-Earth, culling humor from real-world situations, mostly those associated with the little things experienced in childhood (mostly school-related). Think of this series as Ed, Edd n Eddy if it weren't so over-the-top, or a throwback to those mid-to-late 1990s kids' cartoonsnote created in response to the FCC wanting more educational shows for children, though Doug and Hey Arnold were cable shows and cable doesn't get censured by the FCC like free-to-air TV does that showed kids going to school and having more realistic adventures, often learning a life lesson in the process (i.e., Recess, Hey Arnold!, Pepper Ann, Detention, Doug, etc). It is probably the only current kid-oriented cartoon with such a format, since those type of cartoons were phased out in favor of the wilder, more action-packed/funnier cable cartoons and the whole concept of the Saturday Morning Cartoon on free-to-air TV started to wane before officially dying in 2014.
This show provides examples of:
Ad Break Double Take: Parodied in "Rise and Shine" when Clarence sees a mountain lion in his backyard:
Clarence: Oh no, a bear! (fade out) (fade in) Clarence: Oh no, a bear!
Aerith and Bob: Out of the main three, we have Clarence, Sumo and... Jeff. Although Sumo doesn't really count since it's just a nickname. However, we also have Belson, and background characters Kimby, Crendle, Malessica, and Gilben.
Animation Bump: The intro is more fluid and has better detailed shading than the rest of the show.
But Not Too Gay: A gay couple in kiss each other on the cheek in "Neighborhood Grill". Apparently the network was already uncomfortable broadcasting the same-sex affection, but did allow it on two conditions: 1) they would kiss on the cheek and not on the lips, and 2) one of them couldn't bring flowers. Either way, it's still amazing Cartoon Network allowed the scene to appear during non-[adult swim] hours in the United States.
Early Installment Weirdness: In the pilot Belson lived in a normal house right across the street from Clarence, but in the actual show he lives in a mansion. The school was also named Prescott Elementary (and Jeff later calls it Lincoln Elementary), and Clarence's teacher is named Mrs. Bernstein instead of Ms. Baker.
Epic Fail: In "Jeff's New Toy" Clarence only has to play with Jeff's toy for a few seconds before he breaks it, and he tries to repair it using a stapler, masking tape and toothpaste, with disastrous results.
Four-Fingered Hands: Averted, but referenced in "Rise and Shine" when Clarence is shown a man with a missing pinkie and he says "Cool, cartoon hands!"
Future Loser: In Jeff's nightmare in "Average Jeff", he sees himself and Clarence as old men working at a grocery store, and for some reason Clarence now has prosthetic legs.
Gainax Ending: "Average Jeff" has Jeff finding out that though he was put in the crayon kids class he is the top of class and he feels proud of himself, only for the quills and crayons classes to be dissolved anyway, but Jeff is fine with this. Then Jeff goes to his desk to find a girl with a tapir head sitting there and the episode ends on him screaming. Was it another dream? Considering there's a duck girl in the class, a tapir girl isn't out of the question.
In the same episode, Belson, Percy and Nathan mention several times that Clarence and Amy are probably going to make out because they are together, however, they don't seem to know what the term means.
From "Dinner Party":
Jeff: We can go explore Breehn's bedroom.
Sumo: Or Breehn's parents' bedroom.
From "Dollar Hunt":
Clarence: You're a cute little Dickins, aren't you? (referring to a piece of salami he decorated to look like a doll)
Hartman Hips: Almost the entire adult female cast falls under this, but most notably are Mary and Ms. Baker.
Hilarity In Zoos: In the episode "Zoo", Clarence and Belson are made "seat buddies" and have to go through the zoo together and eventually get locked inside after hours, while Clarence inadvertently annoys Belson the whole while.
"Home Alone" Antics: In "Man of the House". When Chad comes home early, the boys have to disarm the traps before he gets hurt.
Hypocritical Humor: In "Clarence Gets a Girlfriend" just as Jeff is saying what a nice guy he is he ignores a girl asking him to hold a door open for her and lets it slam into her.
Idiot Houdini: Clarence and Sumo regularly commit crimes without realizing it and get no punishment. Semi-justified because they're children and they probably don't know any better.
Mind Screw: "The Forgotten" is an entire episode of confusion. From the Charlie Brown references to the Show Within a Show ending, this episode is unlike any other in the show.
Minor Injury Overreaction: In "Man of the House", Jeff dodges a bunch of thrown stuff, but loses it when a baseball gently touches him.
Mistaken Species: When Clarence sees a mountain lion, he shouts "Oh, no! A bear!"
Mundane Made Awesome: The whole premise of the show, while still keeping it in the realm of possibility.
Mundane Solution: When Sumo suggests simply taking away Clarence's horn in "Honk", while Jeff acts like he's holding a loaded gun.
Mistaken For Romance: In "Pretty Great Day With A Girl" Belson and his friends think Clarence and Amy are hanging out because they're a couple when really they're just hanging out as friends. It is also hinted that the reason for Belson and his friends starting a pinecone war to take the rock that Clarence and Amy found is because Belson has a crush on Amy and was jealous that Clarence was with her, which of course Belson tries to deny.
In "Clarence Gets a Girlfriend" Ashley's friends assume Clarence likes her just because he talked to her.
Never Say "Die": Averted as a general rule. Jeff makes it no secret that he wants to kill Clarence for taking his fries.
No Antagonist: The series' setting is way too goofy and mundane to have any villains or antagonistic characters. Belson sometimes acts in a slightly antagonistic manner towards Clarence, however, Clarence doesn't seem to notice and it is shown Belson has a friendly and soft side too, similar to Harold Berman.
No OSHA Compliance: The "Fun Dungeon" has obviously not been inspected lately. How else could Clarence and Jeff get on top of it so easily? It can be said that the whole "Fun Dungeon" is a parody of such play areas such as at McDonald's and Chuck E. Cheese's.
Also in "Honk", when Clarence realizes he has a problem with honking his horn all the time.
Out of Order: "Belson's Sleepover" was meant to be the debut of the titular character to the cast, but instead aired after "Neighborhood Grill"
Parental Obliviousness: In "Patients" Tinia's mom is busy reading a magazine through most of the episode and just lets Tinia have all the candy she wants. But she turns Mama Bear when she thinks Clarence is bothering her daughter.
Pooled Funds: Clarence dreams of swimming in Clarence Bucks in "Clarence's Millions".
Puddle-Covering Chivalry: Discussed in "Clarence Gets a Girlfriend". Clarence practices chivalry with Sumo to impress his new girlfriend; they go to a puddle and Sumo instructs him to throw his coat over it. "What's maybe something you could do? Maybe something you've seen on TV?"
Punny Name: The judges of Supreme Court Squad Extreme have names that pun on current members of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Radish Cure: In "Honk", Jeff tries to cure Clarence of his obsession with horns by having the other kids honk horns at him. It backfires, as not only does it encourage Clarence more, the other kids start enjoying it too, until the teachers confiscate them all.
Real Song Theme Tune: The end credits song is "Good Habits (and Bad)" by Saba Lou, a song recorded a few years prior to the start of the series.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Sumo gives one to both Jeff and Clarence in "Jeff's New Toy", telling Jeff not to be so uptight, and Clarence not to mess with other people's stuff.
Rich Bitch: Both of Breehn's parents, who spend the entire episode of 'The Dinner Party' showing off their house, condenscendingly shut down Mary when she tries to start a conversation, and are more worried about the damage done to their house than the fact that several children could've been hurt, one of them being their own son.
During the same episode, Clarence's Nightmare Sequence begins with him imagining himself to be Scrooge McDuck swimming in his money pit, only filled with Clarence Dollars instead of gold coins. A remixed version of the DuckTales theme song even plays in the background!
In "Money Broom Wizard," the trio embark on a LOTR-style quest with clear character roles: Clarence as Gandalf, Jeff as Legolas, and Sumo as "Sumo-wise" (although his resemblance to Gollum is exploited at the beginning when he crawls on all fours).
When Clarence and Jeff start dueling with foam guards on top of the Fun Dungeon in "Fun Dungeon Face Off," the music imitates Duel of the Fates.
"Average Jeff" is bookended by scenes that parody the opening and closing of American Psycho.
"Pilot Expansion" ends with a parody of The Jetsons end credits.
Something Completely Different: "Pilot Expansion," which is just the original pitch pilot of Clarence sandwiched between framing devices of Jeff, Clarence, and Sumo as old men in the future trying to tell the story of how they met. And, for reasons known only to the writers, it ends with a shout-out to The Jetsons.
Spaghetti Kiss: In "The Forgotten", Clarence finds spaghetti in the dumpster and asks Brady to eat it with him "like dogs do".
Spit Take: Jeff has one when Clarence reveals he has a new girlfriend in "Clarence Gets a Girlfriend".
Stacy's Mom: Mrs. Belson. Who one of the kids describes as "foxy."
Suck E. Cheese's: The Pizza Swamp fits this trope to a tee. It's complete with "Big Betty" (That creepy basketball game where you throw the ball into a "breathing" puppet-like target), "The Money Broom" (The old "Shoot-a-coin-into-the-pile-and-see-what-falls-out" game) and a game where you swat seals with a giant mallet. It's basically a carbon copy of the real place.... But it's not!.
Surprise Creepy: "Rise and Shine" has Clarence encounter a mountain lion in his backyard.
Sweetheart Sipping: In "Clarence Gets a Girlfriend", a nervous Clarence sees a picture of a couple sipping from the same milkshake and tries the same with Ashley, but just ends up making a mess.
Teachers Out Of School: In "Neighborhood Grill", Clarence is shocked to see Ms. Baker at the restaurant. An Imagine Spot shows that he thought she was a robot that spent the nights at school being charged.