Darkwing Duck was a superhero cartoon produced by Disney that ran from 1991 to 1995. It followed the adventures of a masked duck, who was somewhere between Batman, Sandman, The Green Hornet and The Shadow, parodying many superheroic tropes and characters along the way. Nevertheless, it was one of Disney's Darker and Edgier series (not as much as Gargoyles, but it did go places that most of Disney's works wouldn't dream of going), fondly remembered for things like total aversion of Never Say "Die" and an episode featuring Satan (albeit a comical version) as the Monster of the Week.Armed with only a gas gun and a massive ego, Darkwing battled a Rogues Gallery of villains and defended the city of Saint Canard — all while providing his own narration.Darkwing was comedically inept, hampered by his vainglory, short-sightedness, bad temper, and general klutziness. He always came through in the end, usually after being brought to his senses, and uttering the phrase, "Let's get dangerous," after which he'd really show his true skills. His other catch phrase "I am the terror..." changed pretty much every time it was used. DW always tried to make it fit his current situation, but it didn't always work.
DW was assisted by his sidekick Launchpad McQuack (formerly of DuckTales), his adopted daughter Gosalyn, and the youngest son of his next door neighbors, Honker Muddlefoot.Darkwing faced a variety of villains, including: the nefarious NegaDuck, the comical-but-sort-of-deadly electropath Megavolt, the plant/duck hybrid Bushroot, the smarmy salesman turned living liquid Liquidator, the insane clown Quackerjack, the more-than-competent Taurus Bulba, and the ruthless F.O.W.L. agent Steelbeak. Also, some evil mind-controlling aliens that looked like hats. Interestingly enough, though, the most fearsome opponent the series ever had was not faced by Darkwing...but was him: or rather, what he became, in a Bad Future where he had lost the one that had meant the world to him.He also ran into a number of other heroes, usually not starting off on the best foot. These included Gizmoduck from DuckTales (who Darkwing did not work well with), Stegmutt (a large, dim dinosaur), and Morgana MacCawber (a sorceress and former crook who reformed and became Darkwing's girlfriend).This would normally be the end of the article, since the show and the license had sat dormant since the show ended... but then Disney revived the franchise with the announcement of a brand-new ongoing monthly comic series, starting with an arc entitled "The Duck Knight Returns", which began in June 2010. The comic ended in November 2011, with a Bat FamilyCrisis Crossover with the DuckTales comic where Scrooge McDuck and Darkwing join forces against the combined might of their rogues gallery as well as search for the long-missing Gizmoduck.Tropes associated with this comic go here.Has its own Shout Out page.For another Disney duck superhero, check out Paperinik New Adventures.
In the second Taurus Bulba episode, Darkwing had broken both his legs before the episode started and was confined to a wheelchair. Knowing that his daughter is in danger and not being able to properly protect her...
In general, the show milked DW's reactions to Gosalyn being in danger for all they were worth.
Played for Laughs. Darkwing learns lessons about ego and not caring what others think all the time, but always shrugs them off when he comes through in the end.
A more straightforward example, Honker learns the "believe in yourself" message at least twice during the course of the series. Though, granted, with an older brother like his...
In the episode "Water Way to Go", Darkwing learns to treat Launchpad as a hero, only to demote him back to sidekick two seconds later by having him carry the luggage back to the plane. Then ultimately made good; he starts teaching some of his skills to Launchpad, including some of his martial arts. Granted, it's to enable him to be 'Darkwing Decoy', but still ...
In every episode Gimzo Duck appears in, he and Darkwing Duck have to learn to work together despite their differences, sometimes with Darkwing's ego getting in the way, and once with Gizmo Duck's ego getting in the way.
Affectionate Parody: Of superhero cartoons. And of superheroes in general. Emphasis on the "affectionate" part, as it has more fun with playing with the conventions than ridiculing them.
Averted for most of the rest of the cast, which is noteworthy for Disney characters.
All Just a Dream: Subverted in "Dead Duck". After dying and spending the rest of the episode as a ghost, Darkwing wakes up in his bed at the end. Then Lucifer shows up in the real world in a pre-credits gag, and later on even has an entire episode dedicated to him.
All Your Powers Combined: NegaDuck once made a device that allowed him to siphon all of the various superpowers of Darkwing's Rogues Gallery into himself: liquid body, plant control, electrical powers, etc. Unfortunately, he also got Quackerjack's wackiness in the deal too, which was...less useful.
Almighty Janitor: Ammonia Pine, an evil cleaning lady who works for F.O.W.L., and is surprisingly effective.
Darkwing waking up as a brain in a jar after the aliens hijacked his body to kidnap Launchpad who is about to be crowned emperor of the galaxy (It Makes Sense in Context). He still manages to scream anyway despite having no mouth anymore.
Angst Coma: When she runs into the resurrected Taurus Bulba, Gosalyn goes catatonic for a minute, forcing Honker to take control of the vehicle they're both in. Considering what he did to her grandfather, it's perfectly understandable.
Animation Bump: Most noticeably in "Darkly Dawns The Duck". Really, most of the episodes done by Walt Disney Japan, "In Like Blunt" by the France studio, or their Australia studio qualify. Especially "Life, The Negaverse and Everything", "Dead Duck" and "Comic Book Capers". Select sequences from Hanho Heung-Up and Kennedy Cartoons' episodes too.
Arc Words: "Blathering blatherskites!" Overlaps with Catch Phrase, but since it causes whoever says it to transform into Gizmoduck there's a bit more to it.
Arch-Enemy: D.W. has a habit of calling every enemy of his his archenemy for the sake of being dramatic, but it's more or less between Negaduck: his evil counterpart who matches him in every insidious way possible, Megavolt: the villain with whom he shares an origin and with whom he has fought the longest (having had more appearances than any other), and Dr. Slug: ostensibly the most dangerous villain he has ever faced, who has never shown up on camera for more than five seconds.
One hilarious example comes from the episode "Duck Blind", where DW is temporarily blinded, but sure that he can still do his job.
Darkwing: Would you quit fussing, I'm fine. Just...just find me a robbery, a...a jaywalker, *sounds pissed* a stockbroker. Any crook'll do.
Also used in 'Time and Punishment', when Darkwarrior Duck goes from arresting someone for jaywalking to arrest someone for having a really bad haircut, and anything that would qualify as a crime by normal standards, it's implied he executes them.
Artistic License - Economics: Quackerjack's plan in "Toy Czar Us" involves making kids work in his factory, then paying them so they can buy his toys. Even the kids point out how roundabout and pointless the arrangement would be.
As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Parodied with the tribal language in "Dances With Bigfoot," which consists of "Hummina-hummina-hummina <insert random word>"
Asshole Victim: Doctors Gary and Larson in "Beauty and the Beet". Somehow they manage to be schoolyard bullies despite being mega-nerd scientists. The torment Bushroot to the point where seeing him demolish them feel pretty gratifying. This combined with Bushroot's I Just Want to Be Loved feelings and general meekness makes it easy to feel badly for him even though he is a supervillian.
NegaDuck, a chainsaw and shotgun-wielding maniac who really hates cute fluffy little bunnies.
Quackerjack, whose toys are... not at all child-friendly.
Nega-Quackerjack in the Negaverse, though he's one of the good guys, still makes a toy Monster Clown that has several axes pop out of it (albeit a helpful multiple-axe-wielding Monster Clown; sometimes, especially when you need some glass broken and ropes cut, axes can be very useful).
Darkwing was a parody of the concept, but often proved himself able to save the day when heroes with actual powers couldn't.
Negaduck and Quackerjack also count for this considering they had no real superpowers and were able to be just as menacing, if not more so than the villains that had them.
Several other villains qualify such as Amonia Pine who - gadgets aside - can go toe-to-toe with Darkwing. Steelbeak qualifies, even though he technically has a beak that can bite through anything, because in direct combat, he forgoes it to rely on his boxer training and large build.
Tarus Bulba in his first appearance, he had no powers, technically, though he was still a huge guy.
Averted. Death was only interested in Darkwing, and expressed hatred (or at least extreme dislike) for people who attempted to bribe him.
Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Occurs quite often with plans Gone Horribly Right or Gone Horribly Wrong when they find themselves having to clean up their own messes; inverted on at least one occasion in "Stressed To Kill" when Megavolt and Quackerjack managed to set the city on fire and had to bring in Darkwing Duck to fix things.
Banana Peel: Turns up on several occasions in both the cartoon and the video game. In "The Quiverwing Quack", Gosalyn actually trips on one of these while walking on a rope across buildings.
A lot of the villains have short tempers, but most of them have at least one thing that gets under there skin more than anything else:
Calling Megavolt "Sparky" drives him up a wall, although it is usually the blind rage that makes he make mistakes type.
Quackerjack flips out anytime anyone mentions wanting to play video games around him, whether they are allies or not.
Negaduck can hold his Hair-Trigger Temper to threats and calculated violence most of the time, but remind Negaduck that he's only the No. 2 enemy of St. Canard, right under Dr. Slug, is signing your death warrant.
Oh the other hand Herb Muddlefoot appear impervious to insults or threats of any kind, unless you insult Quackerware around him.
Blessed with Suck: Some of the Rubber Chicken's friends in one episode have completely useless abilities.
Book Ends: Tauras Bulba is the first and last villain that Darkwing faces in the TV series. Also the first proper villain he faces once he returns to fighting crime in the new comic series.
Borrowed Catchphrase: Gosalyn borrows her father's catchphrases all the time - pretty much everything except "I am the terror..." (and even that she at least tried to borrow once). She even occasionally inherits the gags around them: for example, when she uses her dad's "yep, yep, yep," catchphrase she tends to get the Tempting Fate gag the comes with it.
Bad stuff tends to happen to Megavolt. It's hilarious.
Bushroot takes it more on the chin than anyone else in the series. Even the other members of the Fearsome Five take cheap shots at him.
This also applies to Darkwing most of the time.
Steelbeak. Guaranteed that whenever Steelbeak is the baddie of the week he's going to take the lion's share of the abuse in that episode.
Camp. Up to Eleven. Which is what makes it so wonderful. In fact, it's so over-the-top that it could even be seen as a camp parody, from the moment that Bushroot claims to have a "telepathic link with plants" onward, or even before then.
Camp Straight: Bushroot, who has all the makings of a Sissy Villain with his florid manner of appearance, is nevertheless very much into women romantically.
Captain Crash: Launchpad, from DuckTales. Darkwing even muses how Launchpad would've been proud of a helicopter wreck he caused. Darkwing himself is NOT this, as he never even claims to be able to operate aircraft. However, Launchpad is a notably better pilot here than he ever was in DuckTales. He only crashes if he's shot down and can otherwise land fine.
Captain Ersatz: Most of DW's Rogues Gallery were obvious villain archetypes, but Dr. Reginald Bushroot's name and powers both evoke Dr. Jason Woodrue, the "Floronic Man" from The DCU. Liquidator's powers are similar to those of the Spider-Man villain Hydro-Man and his origin is suspiciously similar to how Jack Napier became The Joker. Megavolt, meanwhile, has much of the powers and personality of Marvel Comics' Electro with just a dash of Magneto thrown in, and Darkwing himself heavily resembles Batman, up to the point of having a gender-flipped Robin.
Chained to a Railway: Lampshaded. The villainess does just this to Darkwing and Launchpad. DW lectures her for resorting to such and old cliche, but is forced to admit that while not terribly original, tying someone to a railroad track is indeed effective.
Characterization Marches On: In some early episodes, Gosalyn was part of a group of four friends with Honker, Tank, and a tall skinny chick (young chicken, not girl) with a black flat top. Tank was redone into Honker's bullying older brother and the tall chick came down with a case of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.
Chick Magnet: Darkwing managed to get kisses from Morgana, Neptunia, and the Princess of Oilrabia, along with charming other female characters so he definitely qualifies for this trope.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Pretty much the reason why most of the Liquidator's episodes had him relegated to the Fearsome Five. By himself, he's just too powerful and there are precious few ways to defeat him. Putting him in a group of other villains made him more manageable for the writers.
Continuity Nod: Launchpad mentions he and Fenton used to to "work for the same guy", and in a flashback one episode his father is shown who also appeared in one episode of DuckTales. However it's never explained why Launchpad stopped working for Scrooge and ended up in St Canard.
Cool Bike: The Ratcatcher, complete with sidecar for sidekicks.
Cool Garage: Darkwing's base was on one tower of a suspension bridge.
Darkwing: Good thing I was wearing my buzzsaw cufflinks.
The comics take it a tad further; he can be crazy prepared by accident. Once, the only reason he was able to fight through a flock of angry guard flamingos was because he had previously bought anti-flamingo gas simply "to qualify for the bulk rate".
The episode "In Like Blunt" featured cameos from several Duck Tales villains, including Magica DeSpell.
Crossover Ship: In-universe. In the comic series of a few years back, when the DuckTales characters met with DW, Huey, Dewey and Louie all fell for Gosalyn.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: You could probably say this about most of Darkwing's enemies. They all act extremely ridiculous, but the abilities they each possess, when they become focused on something, makes them all extremely dangerous to boot.
Heck, Darkwing himself qualifies. Despite his ego and eccentricities he was such an effective superhero he had all but eliminated the need for a secret identity, only taking it up again to help give Gosalyn a normal life.
Taurus Bulba demonstrates this trope a bit, knowing that the title character and Gosalyn aren't dead, knowing exactly how egotistical Darkwing is and how to use that against him, and when he knows that Darkwing has the code despite having no real proof, he essentially takes advantage of the attachment that Darkwing has of Gosalyn, threatening to drop her off a building if he doesn't spill anything about the code.
Negaduck also frequently demonstrated this trope (which was part of what made him one of Darkwing's most dangerous villains). Most notably in the Just Us Justice Ducks two-parter. He even intentionally leaves behind an impossibly obscure piece of evidence to lead Darkwing to his hideout, because he knew Darkwing "wouldn't notice the enormous flag." Considering this came right after Darkwing missing the flag seemed like a throwaway joke, this makes the savviness all the more impactful (and hilarious).
Also, NegaDuck (of course) and, surprisingly, Quackerjack at times.
Taurus Bulba also qualifies at certain moments.
Death gets a good one in "Dead Duck".
Darkwing: See ya around, sucker!
Death: Yes, you will.
Death Course: Two, both ostensibly for training purposes. Darkwing had one of these as how he cooks breakfast in 'Darkly Dawns the Duck', though it's not really supposed to be dangerous (he does keep forgetting to adjust the spring that launches the fridge, though) and it's implied he dismantles it after moving into a home with Gosalyn instead of living in his lair 24/7. SHUSH seems to have one of these as well for its agents; the final exam seems to be designed to make sure agent recruiting stays low. The test? 'Survive'. As you're shot with increasingly inordinate ordnance.
Quackerjack and Darkwing: "Eh... nah!" (tasers the bad guy)
Description Cut: In "Dead Duck", Launchpad's comment about Darkwing being "so brave" as he marches away with Death is immediately followed by Darkwing breaking down and begging Death to give him another chance.
Didn't Think This Through: Setting a building on fire for fun in "Stressed To Kill" seems like a good idea to Quackerjack... until his partner Megavolt notices that the fire is spreading from building to building awfully quickly, and they remember that the fire department won't be coming to put out the fire because the two brainwashed them into being utterly apathetic along with most of the rest of the city.
His ideas for a new law system, by traveling back in time and rewriting it are even worse.
Dark Warrior Duck: I'll go back to ancient Babylon where laws were first written down, then I can make sure to get off to a good start. For stealing an Ox, the penalty is death! Coveting Wives, death! Stealing Grain, death! Tracking mud through the kitchen, death! Being cranky in the morning, mmmm....death!
Double Subversion: Happens occasionally. One example came when DW was cornered by Quakerjack's chattering teeth. "This calls for the latest in state-of-the-art crime fighting devices" Cue Darkwing pulling a bone out of hammerspace and throwing it. The teeth go after it, but it explodes when they bite it. DW looks towards the viewer and says "That was no ordinary doggy-bone"
Early Installment Weirdness: In "That Sinking Feeling" (the original, Disney Channel-aired pilot, as opposed to the syndicated produced "Darkly Dawns the Duck" 1-hour special) Darkwing's Mad Libs Catch Phrase simply... wasn't. It was always stated as "I am the terror that flaps in the night, I am the winged scourge the pecks at your nightmares, I am Darkwing Duck!" The Running Gag of always changing up the second saying in his Badass Boast into something silly wasn't used until later episodes.
Another example is Mr. Banana Brain's design. In "Whiffle While You Work", the episode that introduces Quackerjack, he looked more like a full-on parody of Mr. Potato Head and was merely an explosive used by Quackerjack to cover his escape. All his other appearances made him look less like Mr. Potato Head and had him become a ventriloquist dummy used by Quackerjack.
Emotion Eater: Paddywhack from "The Haunting of Mr. Banana Brain", who feeds on humiliation and misery. Darkwing and Quackerjack beat him by laughing at the demon.
The End... Or Is It?: At the end of "The Haunting of Mr. Banana Brain", Launchpad expresses relief that the case is over...and then they heard Paddywhack's laugh and see a laughing, talking fish in the harbor.
Enemy Mine: DW has been forced to team up with one of his foes several times, including Bushroot ("Twin Beaks" and "Slime OK, You're OK"), Megavolt ("NegaDuck", "The Frequency Fiends", and "Twitching Channels"), Quackerjack ("The Haunting of Mr. Banana Brain"), and the non-NegaDuck members of the Fearsome Five ("Jail Bird" and Comic #4). These very often come about because the bad guys' schemes have a way of getting out of their control, particularly when their creations and/or partners in crime start wondering why they have to take orders.
Enemy Without: The original NegaDuck, who was literally DW's evil side given form. Also, the episode "The Frequency Fiends" centered around Gosalyn's worst personality traits (her temper, her ego, and her irresponsibility) being given form as energy beings.
Epic Fail: DW once tried to get rid of a fly by using explosives. His house became a mess and the fly survived.
Even Evil Has Standards: Humorously subverted in "Trading Faces". Long story short, Darkwing and Gosalyn and Lunchpad and Honker switched bodies and have to get past some FOWL agents guarding a gate. Darkwing (who is still inside Gosalyn's body) decide to use Gosalyn's and Honker's bodies to appeal to the guards' better nature. After running around, crying that Honker stole "her" ball, the two guards seem to be disgusted by "Honker's" actions...only to congratulate him for his nastiness, suggesting that he takes after themselves, and offer to beat up "Gosalyn" for him.
Darkwing himself briefly became an Expy for Spider-Man when a mutated spider-bite resulted in his growing four extra arms and gaining the ability to climb walls and spit webbing from his beak. Once he learned to control his extra limbs, he temporarily changed his name to Arachno-Duck, resuming the name Darkwing when his spider-powers wore off.
Faux Affably Evil: Okay, most of the villains are pretty funny, but special mention goes to NegaDuck, who unlike the others is legitimately nastily evil. Fortunately he's so over-the-top in his Ax-Crazy that he's still hysterical. A good example would be in "Just Us Justice Ducks" when he's impersonating Darkwing. How does our hero expose him? He points in a corner of the room and shouts "Look! A fuzzy-wuzzy bunny." NegaDuck promptly runs over, pulls out a shotgun and starts blasting away at the non-existent rabbit. Incredibly wrong? Check. Incredibly funny? Also check.
For the Evulz: Most villains don't have any real motives, but Bushroot is a strange example. The only reason he became a villain was to get revenge on those that mocked him, which he did. Most of the time he's doing solo missions it's an attempt to gain friendship/romance/comraderie through mad science. When he's with the Fearsome Five (and sometimes when he's on his own) he's just plain evil.
One episode had Gosalyn somehow create evil clones of herself with Personality Powers, who are eventually captured and trapped somewhere. The villain, who had helped with the capture, warns the protagonists that the evil clones could come back if they wanted—all they'd need was a particular device. The screen fades to black, and then the clones appear onscreen, the leader saying "Hey, kid...we need you to get something for us." All three of them suddenly lean forward, giggling "Pretty pleeeaaase?" The device in question is a Particle Accelerator, which becomes doubly funny when you get older and realize that CR Ts, found in every television set in the world back then, are particle accelerators.
NegaDuck once threatens a news reporter by crawling through the TV he's displayed on into the studio.
Garage Band: Gosalyn, Honker and Tank start one in "A Revolution in Home Appliances".
Genius Bruiser: Agent Grizzlikoff is big, strong, and can come with good ideas if he needs to.
Genre Savvy: The surprisingly aware Darkwing. At one point, he even takes advantage of Cartoon Physics. He increases the air pressure in a locked room, causing him to go flat as a pancake and allowing him to slide under a door.
Also in the episode "Ghoul Of My Dreams", when Darkwing is investigating Morgana and enamored by her beauty, he says "But you're the prime seduction....I mean suspect!"
And in the episode "U.F.Foe", Launchpad puts his hands on Gosalyn's ears when he hears Launchpad is going to oompa with Tia, and warns them to watch their language. Launchpad quickly explains that the word means "marry".
Also in the episode "Duck Blind", Megavolt tells Darkwing that he's tired of him busting his bulbs.
"Clash Reunion" has Drakey "The Dweeb" Mallard in high school accusing the Jerk Jock Ham String of stealing a pencil to "keep score" of... he doesn't say what, exactly. It might be Ham's football games, but he does also have his girlfriend Prina Lott with whom he was about to do some kissing when Drake cut in between them to make his accusation.
In "Paint Misbehavin'", when Splatter Pheonix suffers Clothing Damage after her minions mistakenly attack her, one of the tears on her shirt is in the breast area.
Gilligan Cut: One episode had DW working for S.H.U.S.H. looking for an ape man. Gosalyn wanted to go but Drake wouldn't let her. So she holds her breath until she goes red in the face, with Drake saying that he is unmoved, unshaken, un-. We don't find out what the last one is because they cut to Gosalyn, DW, and Launchpad in the Quackjet flying over an island.
Give Me a Sword: In the episode "Quack of Ages" Darkwing calls out, "Men, a sword!" — and is promptly buried under a mound of blades, from under which comes a feeble, "Men, a tourniquet."
Glad I Thought of It: DW does this a lot. Usually it will be Launchpad's idea originally, but LP is too much of a fanboy to realize that it was the exact same plan he just suggested five seconds earlier.
Launchpad: We could follow this trail of latex that leaked out of the tank, DW.
Darkwing: Unless of course, we follow this trail of latex that leaked out of the tank!
Launchpad: Whoa! That guy's amazing!
Glory Seeker: Darkwing of course! It usually takes a direct threat to Gosalyn to snap him out of it.
Which may have had something to do with the fact she was already orphaned at the start of the series and living with her grandfather. Also, she was effectively a young female version of Darkwing/Drake, and he knows it.
Heart Is an Awesome Power: In Episode 85, it is revealed that Lauchpad's favourite superhero is a very cute furball called Franky Ferret, known for his Friend Power. Gosalyn and Darkwing scoff at the concept, but later learn that turning an enemy into a friend is in fact quite effective.
Heroic Sacrifice: At the end of the episode "Aduckyphobia", Webby the spider attempts this by shutting down the malfunctioning reactor that would have destroyed the city. Thankfully, he doesn't die and is reverted to his regular size as a side effect.
Hero with Bad Publicity: Darkwing counts for this so much it's not even funny, though the reason varies depending on the episode, even when the villains aren't trying to smear him.
Human Knot: While appearing in a charity wrestling event, Darkwing Duck faced a huge wrestler specializing in molding opponents' bodies like balloon sculptures. Darkwing falls to his grip, and gets reshaped into a show poodle. Launchpad and Goslyn call Darkwing away on a case just in time: The wrestler's next intended sculpture was octopus.
I Love Nuclear Power: A bunch of people got mutant superpowers thanks to their parents being exposed to various radioactive items. Darkwing was envious of all their powers, and supposed he'd just get a rash if he was exposed to something radioactive.
Illogical Safe: Darkwing's breakfast Death Course causes his fridge to launch into the air and land on top of him if he forgets the milk. He ends up inside the fridge; amusingly injured, dazed, and holding a jug of milk.
Implausible Deniability: Tuskernini claiming his innocence of a bank robbery in court. Darkwing presents security footage, a signed confession and dozens of eye witnesses. Tuskernini claims this is flimsy evidence, then upon the whispered advice of his penguin lawyers, he accuses Darkwing of framing him.
Herb Muddlefoot is a duck and his wife Binkie Muddlefoot is a canary.
Launchpad nearly married an alien queen called Tia.
Attempted by Bushroot when he wanted to marry Posey the vampire potato.
Iris Out: Lampshaded at the end of "Hush Hush, Sweet Charlatan"; the group debates how to end the cartoon. Launchpad throws out an idea: He likes the cartoons that end with a circle getting smaller until everything is black.
I Work Alone: Darkwing. Mostly in "Darkly Dawns the Duck" and "Just Us Justice Ducks", where he actively refuses help so he can defeat Taurus Bulba and the Fearsome Five, respectively, alone. He eventually overcomes this attitude.
Jail Bake: Spoofed when a criminal on a literal Planet of Hats is given a file that has a cake inside, which he uses to incapacitate the guard.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: DW is a mild example — he may be vain, bad-tempered, and a gloryhog, but he's a hero to the core and deeply cares about his friends and family.
Agent Grizzlikoff is another example. He hates Darkwing's showboating antics, sometimes with good reason, and tries to sabotage him whenever possible, but when the chips are down "Grizz" is an intensely loyal SHUSH agent.
Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Tank shows a very rare Pet the Dog moment with Honker when his younger brother gets grounded after being falsely accused of a crime and he helps him out to try to expose the real thief. As it turns out, he was just trying to get Honker out of the house so he could tattle on him to their parents and get him punished even further.
Although it's not a particularly extreme case, Taurus Bulba was not funny. At all. Although his episodes still had plenty of funny stuff in them, his involvement pretty much guaranteed that it would be darker in tone. Unlike NegaDuck he wasn't over the top, and to a kid could actually be a bit scary. You KNOW Bulba was a frightening villain when Gosalyn went catatonic upon seeing him again, until Honker snapped her out of it. Especially in Boom! comic #4, where he comes back in his cyborg body, AND TO BOOT, he's now a "consciousness that could travel through and possess electronics!"
Taurus Bulba: "Tell me quickly, or she'll make quite an ugly stain on the street..." "Taurus Bulba works for NO ONE!"
Dark Warrior Duck, while having a fairly humorous Knight Templar ideal, had a somber backstory and the episode he was in, for the most part, took itself seriously.
Laughably Evil: Pretty much all of the villains. NegaDuck because he's so over-the-top evil, Megavolt because he's such a Cloudcuckoolander (and because everyone tends to screw with him), Quackerjack because he's so wacky, etc. Notably, the exceptions tend to be very, very serious, even if it is in a somehow lighthearted way.
Bulba flat-out tells the Fearsome Five Four in the comic how absolutely pathetic they are at being villains.
Leitmotif: Very rare: Steelbeak has one, and Negaduck as a tune on the tuba that is usually used with him but also occasionally shows up elsewhere. Also, there is a theme that occasionally plays when D.W. says "Let's Get Dangerous."
Darkwing is actually staggeringly competent as a superhero, it's just that his ego and inability to play well with others hold him back. Once he conquers those (however temporary), he almost always resolves whatever issue is facing him. Usually within mere moments.
Let's You and Him Fight: Most notably in "Tiff of the Titans", where Steelbeak sets DW and GizmoDuck against each other so he can continue his plans unhindered.
Literal Ass Kicking: Gosalyn attacks the Bugmaster and her minions by shooting them in the butts with the Bugmaster's gun in "Fraudcast News".
Literal Split Personality: The episode "Negaduck", which features Darkwing being split into Posiduck (all the good attributes) and Negaduck (all the bad attributes). Not to be confused with recurring villain Negaduck.
A curious variant because it's not specifically keeping Gosalyn safe that was his motivation for turning into Darkwarrior Duck; when he thought he'd lost her, he snapped and decided the reason he'd lost his beloved daughter was that he'd been too soft on crime with all that "mercy" and "proper channels of the justice system" nonsense.
Also, "Let's Get Dangerous" is often changed to fit the situation, usually Played for Laughs. Over the course of the series, we got versions like:
"Let's get amorous" (with Morgana, complete with eyebrow waggle)
"Let's get respectable!"
Posi-Duck: "Let's get considerate!"
"Let's get ridiculous!" (teaming up with Quackerjack against Paddywhack)
Gosalyn: "Let's get mischievous!"
Made of Evil: Darkwing Duck's evil side in "Negaduck" is both this and an Enemy Without, and presumably has both a sort of normal physical structure as well as being made of evil, because it's created when Darkwing is split into his "good and evil elemental particles" that they made up for that episode. Galvanized Negaduck in that episode is even more so, as becoming supercharged immediately turns him into a destructive Omnicidal Maniac and frankly admits how evil he is.
Made of Iron: Darkwing. He even says so in the episode "Dirty Money".
Metaphorgotten: Most of the variable phrases in his "I am the terror that flaps in the night" go more than a bit more into detail of the metaphor than is necessary.
Mind-Control Eyes: All the Alternate-Dimension Darkwings have this under Magica and Negaduck's influence. Darkwarrior Duck has what look like these, except that he isn't under anyone's control, he's just a futureKnight Templar.
Mirror Universe: Negaduck's playground the Negaverse, where everyone's personality is inverted, though not quite everyone's morality. (Apparently, Gosalyn can be a good girl whether she's well-behaved or not.) Interestingly, Negaduck, Nega-Honker, and Nega-Gosalyn are all modeled on versions of the regular characters from episodes in which they were a bit out of character ("Negaduck" in which Darkwing's evil half also committed crime and hated cute fluffy little bunnies, "Calm a Chameleon" in which Honker tried to be more assertive as a motorcycle-jacket-wearing biker rebel without a cause, and "Slaves to Fashion" in which Gosalyn had to train to be a properly feminine little lady).
Morphic Resonance: In the episode "Disguise the Limit," Darkwing and NegaDuck keep their beaks whenever they transform.
Multiple Choice Past: Darkwing was either from another planet, raised in a martial arts temple in China, bullied into a life of crime as a kid, or picked on in high school until he donned the mask.
Pretty sure his life in high school is essentially seen as true, however.
The "born on another planet" story was quite obviously Darkwing make stuff up, and the other three aren't exactly exclusive. He was bullied as a kid, until his future self showed him how to stand up for himself. He then took up the Darkwing persona when Megavolt attacked his senior prom, and then he spent several years learning Quack Fu in China.
Also Darkwing to a certain degree, considering that next to Neptunia, he's the shortest member of the Justice Ducks.
Narrator: Darkwing, a couple times. He's usually an Interactive Narrator, as well - most prominently "Inside Binkie's Brain" and "The Haunting Of Mr. Banana Brain," which are both centered around narration having just as much going on (to the point of cutting away from the action at several points) as the plot.
Negative Continuity: Word of God says that continuity deliberately came second to Rule of Funny, which probably explains why a great many episodes are out of order, why so few reference each other, and why many seemingly contradict each other. Darkwing Duck has two pilot episodes (one of which has everyone together with no explanation, and the other of which explains how Darkwing Duck came to adopt Gosalyn and move into a house next to the Muddlefoots) and the origin stories of some of the heroes and villains aired only after they appeared in the "Just Us Justice Ducks" team-up episodes.
Darkwing Duck also has a sort of Multiple Choice Past for origin stories, though the only two that flatly contradict the others are clearly a bit of his BSing his futuristic listeners.
NegaDuck, for his part, has been presented in two different forms (one as a Bizarro version of Darkwing Duck created when Megavolt zapped him with a machine of his, and the other as an immigrant from the Negaverse in which nearly everyone's morality is reversed). They both share a love for committing crimes and an obsessive hatred for cute little fluffy bunnies, and might as well be the same person, but no story indicating them to be the exact same character has ever been written.
In "Life, The Negaverse, and Everything", we see Negaduck "sucked into oblivion" and yet he returns safe and sound without explanation later. Of course, he did make the customary threat that he'd return for revenge even as he was being sucked into what he claimed was "oblivion" (and later make good on it, so maybe he was lying or "oblivion" is not so bad after all) and if you look carefully at the Darkwing Duck's return to his own universe near the end, you'll notice the close-up shot is of NegaDuck returning to his universe from the birthday cake portal in his universe while the more distant shot is of Darkwing Duck emerging from the other birthday cake portal into his universe shortly before the portal closes. No explanation is ever given of how NegaDuck managed to find his way back to Darkwing Duck's universe, however.
Also, several episodes act as though Gosalyn has been with Drake for years (such as "Bearskin Thug"), once or twice even implying that he had raised her since she was a little girl as opposed to having semi-recently adopted her (like "Quiverwing Quack"). (This possibly makes sense, however, if these episodes are chronologically out of order and actually take place a couple years after he adopted her, when she would be a bit more familiar with her adoptive father's ways.)
Nerds Are Sexy: Dr. Sara Bellum, Dr. Rhoda Dendron, and a few signs show that Gosalyn feels this way about Honker.
In the first episode, seven times. In two seconds.
Two episodes ("Stressed to Kill" and "Dead Duck") used death words in the episode title. Not to mention that the topic of murder was brought up in "In Like Blunt" and several characters getting Killed Off for Real.
Nigh-Invulnerability: There are two of these characters. The Liquidator is a villain made out of water. And Dr. Bushroot, a mutant plant/duck, can regenerate after being run over by a running lawn mower.
Also many of the female bird characters in general.
Noodle Implements: Spoken among the ruins of a bowling alley: "And they didn't rob us, they just wanted to try this new kind of bowling with—" "A jackhammer, some marmalade, and a pack of wild panthers."
Noodle Incident: "Need I remind you of the time with the floor waxer, the jar of peanut butter, and my VCR?"
Or My Name Isn't...: In "Darkly Dawns the Duck", Launchpad beats up Darkwing (who he thinks is an intruder), yelling, "Nobody messes with the airplanes in my hangar, or my name isn't Launchpad McQuack!"
Out of Order: Like most of the Disney cartoons of the time, the episodes weren't shown in the order they were written. But because of the superhero format of the series, villain origin stories were shown after episodes they appeared.
Overly Narrow Superlative: In "Dead Duck", Darkwing tells Launchpad that he was the best sidekick he ever had. He then comments that Launchpad was the only sidekick he ever had.
Papa Wolf: Darkwing for Gosalyn. Generally, putting her in danger is an easy way to prompt him to show just how competent he really is.
Power Creep, Power Seep: Liquidator lost his powers to change water temperature and create "hard water" after his only solo episode. His regular water powers seemed to get downgraded too, and in one Fearsome Five episode, he was shown being restrained by being tied to the other bad guys with a rope. A few years and a medium shift later (in the Boom! comics), apparently, he's picked up some new tricks while he was Quackwerks' water supply...
The Power of Friendship: Playing straight quite often, but highlighted in "Paint Misbehavin'", in the moment with Frankie Ferret, the superhero with Friend Power.
Darkwing: Wow! Friend Power really worked!
Gosalyn: Yeah, but it was so gross.
Launchpad: So, you two, have you learned the lesson from this?
Darkwing: Oh, I sure have. We got to join together, in friendship, and mercilessly crush our enemies into pieces!
Punny Name: Drake Mallard, Dr Sarah Bellum (no relation), Bud Flood (water salesman), Elmo Sputterspark (better known as the villain Megavolt), Morgana's family name as MacCawber (macabre and macaw), and Gosalyn (as in gosling).
Real Men Wear Pink: Literally. Drake Mallard's typical outfit is a green sweater vest and pink collared shirt. Also, the inner lining of Darkwing's cape is magenta-pink-ish.
Remember the New Guy: How Negaduck is introduced in "Just Us Justice Ducks". Everyone already knows who he is, and unlike the Liquidator, who also debuted in the episode, he's never given an episode explaining his origin.
Rescue Reversal: Played with in "Water Way to Go". Darkwing runs after Launchpad when his carrier blows away in a sandstorm, only to be blown away himself and have Launchpad chase after him. Neither saved the other; they were just fortunate enough to turn up near the villain's compound.
The Reveal: Issue #3 of the Boom series is four reveals: why Darkwing and Launchpad "broke up," why Darkwing quit being a superhero, why Quackerjack hates NegaDuck, and who the founder of Quackwerks is. The answer to the last: why, it's Taurus Bulba, of course. Then Issue #4 finally shows us where NegaDuck's been hiding the whole time...
The Rival: Duckburg's own hometown superhero, Gizmoduck. The irony being that his alter ego, Fenton Crackshell, more than likely wouldn't stand a chance against Drake one on one sans his robotic armor.
Unless their confrontation somehow involved counting piles of stuff.
Rogues Gallery: NegaDuck, Bushroot, Megavolt, the Liquidator, Taurus Bulba, Steel Beak, etc.
Role Reprisal: As Launch Pad went from Duck Tales to Darkwing Duck, so did his voice actor Terence McGovern.
And when Fenton Crackshell AKA Gizmoduck became a recurring character, Hamilton Camp returned to reprise his role of the character as well.
The episode "Comic Book Capers" went so far as to feature a caricatured Native American named Little Running Gag.
In an argument between Darkwing/Drake and Gosalyn, they'll usually mention Gosalyn's dirty room, but retort that Gosayln never cleans her room.
The gas gun almost never working when DW tries to use it on someone, usually backfiring in a hilarious way. "Suck gas, evil doer" is pretty much a cue that the gun will backfire and fail to harm anyone.
The Scottish Trope: An eerie music piece starts playing every time somebody says 'The Library of Forbidden Spells'. It’s discussed by Darkwing and Morgana's father.
Secret Identity Identity: There's no evidence that Darkwing had a secret identity before his decision to adopt Gosalyn. It's entirely possible he made up Drake Mallard just to facilitate the adoption; he certainly seems unfamiliar with normal, day-to-day life.
Except that the episode "Clash Reunion" specifically shows that his name was in fact Drake Mallard in high school. Which means he likely simply gave up the identity to be a hero, then took it back up to be Gosalyn's father.
Self-Deprecation: Two episodes exploring the notion that Darkwing Duck was a cartoon show, the former being a Real World Episode and the latter being a case of Animated Actors, had the show being created by a greedy and egotistical man named Thaddeus Rockwell, whose name was obviously a play on Darkwing Duck creator Tad Stones.
Small Name, Big Ego: Darkwing's massive ego ("the size of a small planet") is usually what he needs to overcome in most episodes in order to save the day. Despite being an actually competent hero (once that particular obstacle is handled), he is largely ignored by the general public, and what notice he DOES garner is typically negative or disapproving (usually for comic effect). Funnily enough, only his Rogues Gallery seems to give him any credit at all.
Smooch of Victory: Morgana gives Darkwing one every so often, and Gosalyn kisses Honker on the cheek when they are at the museum tracking down Stegmutt in "Jurassic Jumble".
Smug Super: GizmoDuck, although Darkwing imagines this to be worse than it is.
More like dueling Smug Supers. Darkwing's got a better record, GizmoDuck has better powers, and neither wants the other to forget it.
Species Surname: Nearly every character; a rather creative example is the civilian name of the main character: Drake Mallard. Obviously, it's the term for a male duck and a common breed, yet they're also real names. Still, most species surnames are variants: McQuack, Mallard, Macawbre, Waddlemeyer, Hooter, Bulba, Moliarty, Tuskernini, Grizzlikov).
One of DuckTales' secondary characters (Launchpad) is promoted to Main Character, and another (Fenton "Gizmoduck" Crackshell) becomes a recurring character.
Stable Time Loop: Apparently, young Drakey Mallard was bullied as a boy, until a time-travelling hero came back and showed him how to stand up for himself. He eventually grew up to be Darkwing Duck, and one day, he got his hands on SHUSH's time machine golf cart and ended up back in the days of his childhood. He then saw a robbery taking place and arrested the thugs, inspiring a nearby boy to stand up for himself. Three guesses who the boy was?
Stating the Simple Solution: In "Jurassic Jumble", Dr. Fossil bemoans all the stares and fear he gets from the public as a dinosaur person. Honker asks "Why don't you just change back?" Fossil brushes him off, calling him a "wisenheimer."
The Television Talks Back: When NegaDuck I marches into a theater to watch an action movie, he gets annoyed when he realizes it's a Tastes Like Diabetes animated film about talking rabbits (one wonders how he missed the giant sign outside stating just that). He gets into an argument with the rabbits on the screen before dispersing them and the audience with a rifle. Then he proceeds to jump into the screen and roll out in a tank.
Tempting Fate: A constant source of humor. Taken to a hilarious extreme in "Bad Luck Duck," where a disbelieving Darkwing is struck with a bad luck curse, and constantly practically dares the universe to prove it. It does.
Darkwing (almost falling off the hideout): "You see? My luck isn't bad! I could have fallen a thousand feet to my demise!" (falls)
Darkwing: "You see? My luck isn't bad! I could have been hit by a car!" (gets hit by a car).
Took a Level in Badass: Binkie Muddlefoot when she hits her head and temporarily becomes "The Canardian Guardian, Champion Of Safety".
Toon Physics: Hoo, boy. At least ten times an episode, Darkwing survives injuries and falls that would easily kill a real person.
YMMV if this tends to work against the show's aversion to Never Say "Die", though they do play with it, like in the episode "Film Flam", when DW is trying to be a good father and get Gosalyn to watch more appropriate movies:
Drake: (watching a cartoon where a character gets squashed by an anvil) Now, Gosalyn... in real life, if you get hit with an anvil, you don't just pop back up like that.
Drake: Here, Gosalyn, the perfect example of what we were talking about. If this happened to a cartoon character, he'd just say "iii-eee" or "yeah" and then resume his shape. I, on the other hand, am experiencing pain like you wouldn't believe.
Toothy Bird: Quackerjack is the most prominent example, even to the point that his teeth jump out of his bill (leaving it limp) at the threat of a dentist drill. However, other characters have been seen with teeth now and then. Steelbeak has teeth under his metal bill, and one of the shadowy FOWL leaders is sometimes drawn with vampire-like fangs.
Troperiffic: The show intentionally crams as many superhero tropes as possible into a single episode.
Tsundere: Morgana. Normally the calm, mysterious person you'd expect, but she's got a temper that can literally rain down lighting. Then Comic #5 shows what happened to her during Darkwing's absence...
Unreliable Narrator: Darkwing's self-provided narration is often at least slightly at odds with what he's actually doing as he says it. Then, of course, there's that one origin story of his...
The Unreveal: Speaking of his origin, for the first two seasons of the show, it was a complete mystery. The pilot begins with Darkwing already active as a superhero, instead telling the story of how he adopted Gosalyn. The show parodied this with an entire episode devoted to telling conflicting origin stories for DW, none of which made any sense. Other episodes would occasionally hint at telling his origin, only to change the subject.
The trope was averted in season 3, which finally revealed Darkwing's origin.
Dark Warrior Duck has no problem throwing Gosalyn in jail and threatening her with a missile loaded gun, although this is actually subverted as he couldn't bring himself to fire the gun, which led to his defeat during this distraction.
Taurus Bulba was perfectly fine with having Gosalyn fall to her death in episode 2.
Megavolt tries to kill Gosalyn in "Dead Duck" as part of a TV program.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Splatter Phoenix correctly points out that DW could never bring himself to hit a woman—so Darkwing has Quiverwing (aka Gosalyn) do it.
X-Ray Sparks: A regularly used gag, especially in Megavolt episodes.