Western Animation: Clarence

The kings of the world.
"It's worth it."

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  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!
  • Adorkable: Jeff and Breehn.
  • Adults Are Useless: Invoked in "Man of the House". Sumo stops Jeff from calling an adult because he doesn't trust adults.
  • 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, Melessica, and Gilben.
  • Ambiguously Gay: In "Jeff Wins" the two women raising Jeff are never explicitly stated to be his parents (one could be an aunt), but there have been fan theories that Jeff's mom is a lesbian and the mannish-looking woman in the suit is her partner.
    • Although considering that the mannish woman also has a perfectly squared head like Jeff, it's possible that she's the birth mother.
    • In "Neightborhood Grill", Ms. Baker is waiting for a blind date when a handsome man enters, but he meets up with another man and they exchange European style cheek kisses before leaving hand in hand.
  • Animation Bump: The intro is more fluid and has better detailed shading than the rest of the show.
  • Anything Can Be Music: In "Honk", the children compose a symphony out of squeeze horns.
  • Artificial Limbs: In "Average Jeff", Clarence has wooden legs in Jeff's nightmare about his future. Likewise, in the future scenes in "Pilot Expansion" Clarence, Jeff and Sumo all have cybernetic legs.
  • Art Shift: Happens briefly during Clarence's nightmare sequence in "Clarence's Millions", as a homage to Little Nemo in Slumberland.
    • It happens again in "Jeff's New Toy" when Clarence is trying to explain to Jeff how he broke his action figure.
    • And on "The Forgotten" when Clarence explains his plan to get home.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Sumo apparently finds Clarence this in "Clarence Gets a Girlfriend", when Clarence tries on a bikini. Specifically, he stares at him intently and asks him to do a pose.
  • Bad Date:
    • In "Clarence's Gets a Girlfriend", hilariously so, but it gets resolved at the end when they decide to just be friends and hang out.
    • Ms. Baker's blind date in "Neighborhood Grill".
  • Badass Bookworm: Jeff, in "Fun Dungeon Face Off". He may be a scrawny nerd, but he has mad skills when he's angry.
  • Bait and Switch: In A Pretty Great Day With a Girl, Clarence leads Amy into thinking he's going to pee on Belson and his comrades but it turns out he was spraying them with a water bottle.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Jeff uses one in "Jeff Wins" to escape his room. Thing is, his room is on the first floor.
  • Bee Afraid: In the pilot, Clarence somehow fills a piņata with bees then breaks it open near the end.
  • Better as Friends: Clarence and Ashley.
  • Banana Peel: Clarence purposely slips on one in "Lost in the Supermarket".
  • Berserk Button: Jeff really doesn't like it when someone eats his fries. And don't break his toys.
  • Big Fancy House: Breehn's house, at least from the inside.
  • Bigger Is Better: The erratic.
    Clarence: It's a monster rock that eats other rocks.
  • Bland-Name Product: Quaker Oats oatmeal is replaced with "Puritan".
  • Blatant Lies: Clarence's story about what happened to Jeff's toy.
  • Blind Mistake: In "Puddle Eyes", Clarence gets dried mud over his eyes, and his attempts to feel his way around leads to many of these.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: A mild example, as the opening theme brags more about being a kid in general than about Clarence himself.
    I don't care what you say!
    Gonna do what I want all day!
    'Cause I'm the king of the world!
  • Break the Cutie: Happens to Clarence very briefly in "Dinner Party" when he touches fiberglass, stinging his hand. He quickly gets over it after Jeff washes it off.
  • Broken Treasure: Jeff's toy in Jeff's New Toy.
  • But Not Too Gay: A gay couple 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.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Everyone, even the background characters, look distinct from each other.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Averted at the end of "Jeff Wins", though Clarence didn't mean to cheat and switched the names by accident.
  • Clip Show: In "Pilot Expansion" Clarence, Sumo and Jeff as old men reminisce about the day they first met, with clips from the pilot being used for the flashbacks.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Clarence of course. Sumo comes a close second. And heck, even Jeff shows shades of this sometimes.
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: Spoofed in "Rise and Shine" when Clarence comes face to face with a mountain lion.
  • Competition Coupon Madness: As soon as Mary drops her coupons, a bunch of frenzied shoppers swarm over them.
  • Comic Trio: Clarence, Jeff and Sumo.
  • Costume Test Montage: Clarence has one in order to get ready for his date in 'Clarence Gets a Girlfriend'.
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot: As Chad notes, "The Forgotten" could have been avoided if Clarence simply called instead of trying to walk home.
  • Credits Gag: "Pilot Expansion" ends with a parody of The Jetsons' end credits featuring fake credits.
  • Cringe Comedy: Clarence often says or does embarrassing things in public, but like any young kid is far too immature to even notice.
  • Day in the Limelight: "Slumber Party" is one for Kimby, Courtlin and Malessica.
    • "Dream Boat" is one for Sumo.
    • "Average Jeff" is one for Jeff.
    • "Too Gross for Comfort" is one for Chelsea.
    • "Neighborhood Grill" is one for Ms. Baker
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • "The most peculiar peculiarities," in "Clarence's Millions".
    • "Breakfast is part of a nutritious breakfast" from the opening title card of "Rise and Shine"
    • "Nature Kate says Milk is Nature's Milk" from "Nature Clarence".
  • The Determinator: Sumo in "Dream Boat" working tirelessly to build a boat.
  • Disappeared Dad: Clarence's dad.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Clarence's nightmare in "Clarence's Millions".
  • 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 goes to a different school, Lincoln Elementary), and Clarence's teacher is named Mrs. Bernstein instead of Ms. Baker.
    • In some of the earlier episodes Ms. Baker has a longer face.
  • 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.
  • Even the Rats Won't Touch It: In "Jeff Wins" a flashback to one of Jeff's cooking contest freak-outs shows him tossing his entry to the pigs, who then throw it back.
  • 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!"
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: The laser tag battle in "Money Broom Wizard".
  • Funny Background Event: In "Fun Dungeon Face Off", when Mary (Clarence's mom) is talking to Sammy (Shawn's mom), you can see Jeff and Clarence in the background begin to have their sword fight over a french fry box.
  • 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.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Very blatantly too.
    • In the second episode. Clarence and Amy are looking up pictures of an erratic, and Clarence being the Cloudcuckoolander, is fascinated by it. His reaction is much further than a TV-PG rating should allow. Not to mention that he soon says he has to pee from it. Along with what erratic is one tongue slip away from.
    • 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)
    • In "Dream Boat", one of Sumo's older brothers excitedly takes the magazine Sumo was reading, only to be disappointed that it was about boats.
    • "Jeff Wins" has two: a subtle one and a major one:
      • The subtle one:
    Clarence: ... leave no ding-dongs un-dong-dinged!
  • Going to See the Elephant: In "Pretty Great Day With A Girl", Amy and Clarence go in search of an erratic.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Clarence's shoulder angels are a horse and a fish, as seen in "Jeff Wins".
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: Clarence's dirty hands in "Fun Dungeon Face Off", as seen from Jeff's point of view.
  • Happily Married: Breehn's parents, it seems.
  • 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.
  • Honor Before Reason: In "Jeff Wins" after finding out he helped Jeff cheat by accident, resulting in Jeff winning and boosting his confidence, Clarence attempts to tell everyone what happened and Jeff's moms have to get him to shut up.
  • 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.
  • I'll Kill You!: Jeff to Clarence in "Fun Dungeon Face Off".
    Jeff: I'm gonna kill you, Clarence!
  • Immortality: At the end of "Pilot Expansion", Old Clarence is seen, still taking notes and looking exactly as he did 78 years ago.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: In "Fun Dungeon Face Off".
    Mary: All the kids love Clarence.
    Jeff: I'm gonna kill you, Clarence!
  • I've Got an X and I'm Not Afraid to Use It: In "Honk," "I've got a horn and I'm not afraid to use it!"
  • I Remember It Like It Was Yesterday: In "Pilot Expansion", an elderly Jeff and Sumo argue about when they first met, and Clarence says he remembers it like it was 78 1/2 years ago. (Which might count as an in-universe explanation for the Early Installment Weirdness aspects.)
  • Jeopardy! Intelligence Test: Jeff is seen doing this in the pilot (and by extension, "Pilot Expansion").
  • Laugh Track: In "Man Of The House", canned laughter follows Clarence's punny comments on the booby traps being set. Progressively, the laughter gets less and less jolly as his jokes get lamer, until the last one ("Pasta la vista, baby") is met with groans instead.
  • Locked in a Room: In the episode "Zoo", Clarence and Belson get locked inside the zoo that their class went to for a field trip after-hours.
  • Medium Blending: The title cards are photographs of real props.
    • Clarence's explanation of how Jeff's toy got broken in "Jeff's New Toy" is done in cut-out puppets.
    • In "Nothing Ventured", Clarence and Sumo collect what they think are crickets but are actually cockroaches, and there's a brief shot of live-action roaches when they first see them.
  • Merchandise-Driven: The Show Within a Show Supreme Court Squad Extreme.
  • 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.
    • "Rough Riders Elementary" has even more confusion. Rough Riders Chicken comes to sponsor Aberdale Elementary and slowly takes over the school. Soon, the school is turned into a fast food restaurant with the kids as mindless employees. And then things just stop making sense. Fortunately, the end reveals that it was all a story by Clarence.
  • 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!"
  • Monochrome Past: Some episode flashbacks are all in one color like in Pilot, Pilot Expansion, Neighborhood Grill and the best example, Too Gross for Comfort.
  • 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.
  • Nightmare Sequence: "Clarence's Millions" has this in the middle of the episode.
    • Also in "Honk", when Clarence realizes he has a problem with honking his horn all the time.
  • 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.
  • Noodle Incident: What happened between Josh and Sumo that gave Josh his scar.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: In the pilot, a cop attempts to shoot a swarm of bees.
  • 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.
  • Running Gag: People calling Josh, Joshua instead, with Josh correcting whoever does it last at the end of the episode.
  • Show Within a Show: Cartoon sci-fi legal procedural Supreme Court Squad Extreme, supporting a toyline.
  • 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".
  • Spiritual Successor: Many people see this show as one for Rugrats, or as a Lighter and Softer Ed, Edd n Eddy.
  • 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."
  • Strong Family Resemblance: It's obvious which one of Jeff's moms gave birth to him.
  • 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.
  • Synchro-Vox: The principal of Clarence's school.
  • 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.
  • The Unintelligible: Sumo seems to be this to everyone except Clarence and possibly Jeff briefly, but the series soon makes it clear that everyone else can understand him .
  • Well Intentioned Replacement: The fake toy box Clarence makes in "Jeff's New Toy".
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Pilot Expansion".
  • You No Take Candle: Blaide in "Dollar Hunt" speaks like this. He seems to be a lost foreigner trying to find a bus stop to get home.
    • However, Blaide is shown to be in Clarence's class, as seen in "Zoo".
  • Your Head Asplode: Jeff's head explodes at the end of his nightmare in "Average Jeff".::