Western Animation: Rocko's Modern Life
One of Nickelodeon
's best and most famous Nicktoons
, and the 4th overall. It stars Rocko, a young wallaby from Australia, adjusting to life on his own in America. Most of his days were "very dangerous days" where A Simple Plan
like a trip to the laundromat or just trying to keep his job was met with bad luck and other weirdness. In later episodes Rocko's friends Heffer — a gluttonous, not-too-bright, but amiable bovine who was literally Raised by Wolves
— and Filburt — a timid and geeky turtle — were often dragged along for the ride.
The writers had an amazing talent for getting away with a lot of risqué scenes
(making The Ren & Stimpy Show
's attempts look amateur and obvious), but, as with a lot of cartoon writers of the 1990s, they sometimes went too far and had a lot of scenes edited in reruns, including an entire episode focused on Bev Bighead trying to seduce Rocko and another where Heffer goes on a game show to win back his soul from the Devil (or Peaches the Grim Reaper).
There were no legal DVDs
available from Nickelodeon
, leaving a vacuum that was populated for years by pirate DVDs of low-quality TV recordings
... until Shout! Factory
came to the rescue in 2011, and the complete series was released by 2013. The good news for the DVD release is that two long-banned episodes, "Leap Frogs" and "Heff in a Handbasket", are in the collection (and, of course, all the unbanned episodes are also on there). The bad news: the episodes "Hut Sut Raw," "The Good, The Bad, and the Wallaby," and "Road Rashed" are edited, so you're gonna have to rely on the low-quality pirated recordings if you ever want to see the uncut version of those episodes.
This show has examples of:
- Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: Played for Laughs with Widow Hutchison in "The Big Answer".
- Played straight with Peaches in "To Heck and Back".
- Absentee Actor: Rocko doesn't appear in "Frog's Best Friend" and "Magic Meatball". In addition he only makes non-speaking cameos in "She's the Toad" and "Teed Off" (screams in a random scene near the end, but no real dialogue otherwise). It is worth noting that all four of these episodes revolve around the Bigheads.
- Accidental Pervert: Everyone who has the misfortune to bump into Gladys the Hippo Lady.
- Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: In "Rocko's Happy Sack", Rocko tries to convince a guy who's unknowingly buying Spunky to not buy dog meat, and lists off the various ingredients in such a thing, including PCBs, MSGs, and BVDs.
- Actually That's My Assistant: Peaches (as mentioned below) is not the overlord of Heck. His shadowy, beanie-wearing boss is.
- Adam Westing: Richard Simmons appears in an early episode as a flamboyant aerobics instructor.
- Adult Fear: "From Here to Maternity" has Filburt and Dr. Hutchison go through this when their egg is taken by Easter bunnies.
- Affirmative Action Girl: Due to Executive Meddling opposition to The Smurfette Principle, Dr. Hutchinson was born, with awesome results.
- All There in the Manual: Joe Murray's original description for Rocko, reprinted in the book Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons!, reveals that the character's last name is Rama, and over the course of the series, he happens to be 20 years old. As a matter of fact, several of the businesses in O-Town (such as Bowl-O-Rama) pay homage to this.
- Ambiguously Gay: Peter Wolfe is a cheerleader and wears a skirt in two episodes, to the displeasure of his father. Also Heffer and Filburt, arguably. Although, in the same episode that Peter wears the tutu, Heffer briefly gets a girlfriend.
- Not to mention Rocko being hunted by his neighbors after confessing that he "likes rainbows", though every other episode usually has him trying to win a new girlfriend, and he marries Heffer in a fairy-tale scene.
- Also Chuck and Leon Chameleon, who dance with each other at Dr Hutchison's class reunion, and the lisping genie in "Scrubbing Down Under".
- The Chameleon Brothers (Chuck and Leon) during Seasons 1-2. Although they become totally flaming homosexuals during the Season 3 episode "Camera Shy", when they speak in the gayest Mexican accents imaginable, turn Rocko into a porn star, and call him "baby" and "honey".
- Ambiguously Jewish: Filburt naturally, as he is a Woody Allen caricature.
- And Then I Said: "...Rock 'em sock 'em!"
- And You Were There: In "Short Story," Rocko dreams about what it would be like to be tall - really tall. Upon waking up in his bed, he's greeted by the others seen in his dream - except for that guy that looks like Joe Murray.
- Angry Guard Dog: The Recurring Character, Earl. Usually a psychotic stray.
- Animal Jingoism: Spoofed.
- Animals Not to Scale: Rocko the wallaby seems about 3 feet or so tall, making him the only realistically sized animal on the show (along with Spunky, though as he is not humanoid this doesn't count), compared to him Heffer the steer and Dr. Hutchison the cat (presumably of the house variety) look normal human size, about 5 and a half to six feet, Filburt the turtle is in-between, while the Bigheads who are cane toads are maybe 6 and a half feet tall, with their heads counting for at least half of that; their adult son Ralph who does not have a large head, but has about the same body height, is a little taller than Rocko, not counting his hair.
- Animated Actors: The flies from "Canned".
- Anything But That!: From "Trash-O-Madness":
- Applied Mathematics: Mr. Smitty's "time is money" lecture to Rocko in "Commuted Sentence".
- April Fools' Day: In 2013, TeenNick said it would air a Lost Episode of the series at midnight on April 1st. It ended up literally being Dead Air with the Wacky Delly mayonnaise episode (followed by an airing of "Wacky Delly" itself)
- Art Evolution: It improves with each passing season, with Season Four being the most noticeable. At first, the characters have round eyes with black dot pupils, and the color palette for the whole show seems really light and bland; later however, characters have different shaped (and sized in some cases) eyes with colored pupils, colors are far more bolder and brighter, and outlines are also much stronger.
- Art Shift: An unintentional one occurs in "Trash-o-Madness", which repeatedly shifts between the original, domestically-animated pilot footage and the Sunwoo-animated footage added to the pilot to fill the eleven minute running time.
- Ascended Extra: Filburt started as a random character doing odd jobs before he got promoted to Rocko's other friend.
Filburt: You turn a page, then wash your hands. And then you turn a page, and then you wash your hands.
- Ass Shove: Implied during Rocko's checkup with "Dr." Bendova.
- Astronomic Zoom: In "Hut Sut Raw", while Rocko, Heffer, and Filburt are trying to make their way out of the forest, Filburt proclaims, "We're lost!" The camera suddenly cuts back farther and farther until it's in space. At which point, Rocko says, "Maybe we are lost."
- Attack of the Political Ad: One cartoon where Mr. Bighead decides to challenge Rocko in a campaign for town dog catcher, he takes out an ad suggesting that Rocko is responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire, the sinking of the Titanic, and the 1958 Edsel. An "artist rendering" of Rocko depicts him with sharp teeth, a menacing demeanor, and a speech bubble reading, "I'm mean."
- Australian Accent: Rocko, considering he is from the aforementioned continent.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Ed and Bev Bighead.
- Badass: Heffer's grandma bullies Peaches and prefers to stay in "Heck" because it's warm. Imagine what she was like when she was alive.
- Baleful Polymorph: Rocko is transformed into a fly for an episode as punishment for injuring a fly.
- Baseball Episode: "Spitballs".
- The Bermuda Triangle: One short sees Rocko board a senior cruise ship with Heffer and his grandfather and passes through the Bermuda Triangle. After some Deranged Animation, it turns every old person on the ship young, and every young person old.
- Berserk Button: Literally, there's one on Mr. Smitty's chair, and it's green. DON'T EVER TOUCH THAT!
- Beware the Nice Ones: Rocko. Typically the sweetest, most humble creature imaginable — until you push him a bit too far. He has cowed antagonists with nothing more than a ranting summation of everything he's been through and a threat to "do something NOT NICE!!"
- Big Eater: Heffer.
- Big "NEVER!": Ralph Bighead in "I Have No Son!"
- Bilingual Bonus: More like "Three Weeks of Spanish 101 Bonus," but "Boob Tubed" has Rocko, Filburt and Heffer watching a Spanish Soap Opera and bursting into tears at the delivery of the line: "Maria, este libro esta tarde! Voy a la biblioteca." ("Maria, the book is late [overdue], I'm going to the library!")
- Also in another episode when Rocko is thrown into the water by Gladys the Hippo - he lands on top of a crab and it yells "me pica culo!" This translates to "my ass itches".
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: The episode Wacky Delly was basically one big Take That to Nickelodeon and their process involving animated shows.
- Bowled Over: In the episode "Schnit-Heads", a religious cult based on sausage wants to go "bowling for sinners" with our heroes.
Rocko: You can't chuck bowling balls at us!
Cult Leader: Yes we can. Says so in the Great Book of Bratwurst. "And if there is one among you who does not follow the ways of the Schnitzel, let that one go, and do not throw bowling balls at them."
Rocko: You see? It says let us go.
Cult Leader: It's a matter of interpretation.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: From "Cabin Fever":
Heffer (trying to guess what Ed Bighead's shadow puppets are): A radiator! Either a hose or a radiator, or a piece of radiator hose. I win!
- Breaking the Fourth Wall/Think of the Censors: When Heffer finds himself in Heck with Peaches.
Heffer: Heck? Don't you mean...
Peaches: Woop! Censors!
- Also, the scene from "Camera Shy" in which Heffer and Filburt speak directly into the screen of their video camera gives a suspiciously strong impression that they are speaking directly to the show's viewers.
Heffer: Yup. You heard right. He's completelyyy...NAAAKEDDD.
- Buffy Speak: Kind-Of-A-Lot O Comics.
- Butt Monkey: As bad as it can get for Rocko, it is always worse for Ed Bighead (who, to be fair, usually deserves it).
- Butt Sticker: Twice
- "Rocko's Happy Sack" while Rocko is shopping he gets crushed by the Hippo Lady's butt and gets stuck there.
- "Bye Bye Birdie" when Heffer sits on the couch, he is unaware that he sat on Filburt's bird. They scream when Rocko and Heffer find it stuck to Heffer's butt.
- Call Back: In "Wacky Delly", Ralph Bighead says, "Yeah, Rocko!" over and over, which is similar to when Rocko said "Yeah, Melba!" over and over in "Love Spanked".
- Camp Gay: The Chameleon Brothers.
- Captain Ersatz: Who else thought the head gardener guy in Teed Off reminded them of Darth Vader?
- Caretaker Reversal: Happens in the episode "Yarn Benders", which begins with Filburt getting sick after being caught in the rain and ends with Rocko and Heffer catching the illness after mangling a few fairy tales that they're reading to Filb.
- Carnivore Confusion: The "Chokey Chicken" fast food franchise apparently hires chickens... who are then processed for meat. Cattle are likewise sentient.
- Heffer, a steer, eats burgers, fish, sausage, and steaks. Heffer was raised by wolves quite literally, which might account for some of his carnivorous/cannibalistic eating habits. He wants to kill the turkey for Thanksgiving...and can't.
- Indeed the entire Rocko society is one of carnivore confusion.
- Cast as a Mask: Happens in "Pranksters" with Granny Rocko, voiced by Carlos Alazraqui, whom them rips off her full bodysuit to reveal "she" is actually Filburt, voiced by Doug Lawrence.
- "[X] day... is a very dangerous day", where [X] is something innocuous like "laundry" or "garbage".
- "I hate my life."
- "Turn the page/Dip it in, wash your hands."
- Another Filburt classic: "I'm nauseous. I'm nauseous."
- Chained Heat
- Character Tic:
- Rocko chuckling, and drumming his fingers together nervously, usually adding a shaky, "Oh my..."
- Filburt pulling his head and limbs into his shell (being a turtle, naturally), or becoming nauseous (and repeatedly saying so)
- Dr. Hutchinson finishing a sentence with cocking her head to one side and asking, "'Kay?" She probably gets the head-tilting thing from her mother.
- Mr. Dupett picking his nose. Constantly.
- Cheshire Cat Grin: Heffer's priceless facial expression when he says "NAAAKEEED" in the episode Camera Shy is the definition of this trope.
- Christmas Episode: "Rocko's Modern Christmas".
- Citizenship Marriage: In "Kiss Me, I'm Foreign," Filburt gets unusually into his female persona "Ophelia" as Rocko's wife.
- Comic Book Adaptation: Marvel put out seven issues in 1994.
- The Complainer Is Always Wrong: In "The Emperor's New Joe", the Chameleon Bros. (who opened a new cafe) pressure Rocko into giving a good review to their coffee. Rocko then makes a long speech about how he shouldn't have to go along with the crowd, and that he's acting out of the spirit of the founding fathers by speaking his true opinion. Eventually, the Chameleon Bros. throw him out of their restaurant and wearily say he doesn't have to drink the coffee and to come back for the cheesecake...which results in a Here We Go Again situation when another customer does not like the cheesecake.
- Compressed Vice: Rocko's nail-biting in "Tooth and Nail."
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: When Peaches fails to get Heffer's soul in one episode, his boss punishes him by giving him his own TV show.
- Courtroom Antics: "Day of the Flecko".
- Cranky Neighbor: Ed Bighead.
- Credit Card Plot: "Who Gives a Buck?"
- Creator Cameo: Joe Murray as Ralph Bighead.
- And in the same episode, we get to see the storyboard authors discussing the exact same scene as the one Rocko, Filburt, and the tour-guide walked in on.
- Murray appears as himself at the end of "Short Story" - just to tell Rocko how off-model he was.
- Creator's Pet: In-Universe example with Heffer and Filburt towards Sal Ami and Mr. Cheese in "Wacky Delly".
- Crush Parade: Happens to Rocko's new glasses in "Eyes Capades"
- Also happens to Filburt in "Power Trip"
- Rocko gets run over by the elderly in the cruise ship episode.
- Curse Cut Short: From "Kiss Me, I'm Foreign":
Rocko & Filburt: WHAT IN THE HELLLLLL-O....
- A Day in the Limelight: There were several episodes dedicated to other characters (usually involving Heffer or Mr. Bighead), with little appearance of Rocko, including two where he doesn't appear at all.
- Even the Chameleon Brothers had an episode centered around them: The Emperor's New Joe.
- Dumbells is this for Gladys the Hippo Lady.
- Death by Irony: In "Rocko's Modern Christmas", the most magical elf of all, Mitch, was the only elf who could make it snow. But he died in a blizzard. Though it turns out he didn't die; he just went into seclusion.
- Demon Head: Rocko in "Rocko's Happy Sack", when he threatens to do something "not nice" if he doesn't get the savings deal.
- Department of Redundancy Department / Stupid Sexy Flanders: From "Camera Shy":
Heffer: He's completely... naaaaaakeddddd!
- Depending on the Writer: Is Ed Bighead a relatively high-ranking Conglom-O employee (Canned, I Have No Son), or a relatively low-ranking one (Teed Off, Old Fogey Froggy)? And when did everybody meet?
- Answer to the first question: Ed Bighead was a high-ranking Conglom-O employee, but was most likely demoted when Mr. Dupette (the lizard who used to be the boss of Super-Lot-O-Comics as seen in "Canned") was hired.
- Depraved Ambiguously Gay: Filburt and Heffer, when they eagerly film Rocko "naaaakedddd". This chain of events also leads the Chameleon Brothers, who have suddenly become video editing porn artists, to addressing Rocko by feminine nicknames like "honey" and "baby".
- Deranged Animation: The show delves into this trope from time to time. "The Fatheads" and "Wacky Deli" are in-universe examples.
- Deserted Island: The ending to "Cabin Fever".
- Deus ex Machina: In "Schnit-Heads", Rocko, Heffer, & Filburt are about to be hit with bowling balls by a group of sausage cultists. At the last moment though, they are saved when The Most Supreme And Mighty King Of Wienersnote flies in, puts the cultists onto a deserted island, and takes Rocko & the others home.
- Dinner with the Boss: Done with the parasites living on Spunky, whose lives spoofed old sitcoms.
- Disney Acid Sequence: The entry into the Bermuda Triangle.
- Distant Finale: The final episode took place 17 years in the future, complete with all of the generic Sci-Fi cliches about the future. It stars Filburt's kids, who ask Filburt, who suddenly is a VERY old man (this is lampshaded) about a banana they found in an abandoned house, which happened to be Rocko's. He tells them that a mix-up with a monkey that was intended to be launched into space eventually ended with Rocko, Heffer, Spunky, and the monkey travelling aimlessly through the stars.
- Drives Like Crazy: Mrs. Wolfe.
- Drop-In Character: Mr. No Way in the last season... however, it's not too noticeable, considering in most episodes, just about every Conglom-O employee (save for Ed) are pretty much clones of Mr. No Way anyway.
- Drunk on Milk: During Filburt's bachelor party, he, Rocko, and Heffer consume a considerable amount of ice cream, that makes them, especially Heffer, rather loopy... then, the next morning, when Heffer asks for more "hair of the dog", Rocko and Filburt display the sypmtops of a hangover (though, to be fair, they COULD just be having really bad sugar-induced headaches, considering how much ice cream they ate).
- Dude, Where's Our Car?: The overgrown child and his mom on "Who Gives a Buck?"
- E = MC Hammer: On a flipchart in the episode "Commuted Sentence".
- Egg MacGuffin: Rocko, Heffer, and Filburt have to care for Filburt and Dr. Hutchison's egg while Dr. Hutchison goes off to work.
- Enemy Eats Your Lunch: In High School, Rocko, Filburt and Heffer took a break from schoolwork to snack on potato chips. Heffer systematically begs for Rocko's chips and takes them all. When it doesn't work, Heffer attacks Filburt and eats them all. Filburt beats the tar out of him off camera.
- Epic Fail: Ed's performance in his last bowling tournament, which results in a Trauma Conga Line that completely destroys the Bowl-O-Rama building except for the pins he was supposed to hit. All he had to hit to win was one.
- Episode on a Plane: "Jet Scream".
- Extreme Omnivore: Spunky.
- Evil Debt Collector: The second half of "Who Gives a Buck?" is a big Take That against debt collectors and their thuggish ways. Not like they don't deserve it.
- Evil Old Folks: Ed Bighead, no other & he hates his next door neighbor Rocko.
- Eye Scream: This show has an eye fetish to rival CLAMP's, we swear.
- Taken quite literally with the optometrist in the DMV episode - using Rocko's eyes for a hernia test had no subtext at all, surely.
- Fantastic Racism: In "Rocko's Happy Sack", a customer mentions to Rocko how he believes the world would be a better place without sea mammals, and that they should round them all up, put them on a boat in the middle of the ocean and sink it halfway. Then the guy next to him, an ape, angrily states, "Hey, buddy, my WIFE'S a sea mammal!" His wife, a manatee, is crying her eyes out before the ape drags the guy off-screen. Cue Curb-Stomp Battle.
- Grandpa Wolfe HATES beavers.
- Fat Bastard: Heffer, much of the time.
- Fat Best Friend: Heffer again, some of the time.
- Flashback Effects: Lampshaded in "Future Schlock".
- Fluffy the Terrible: The bovine Satanic overlord of Heck, who has a bizarrely terrifyingly grotesque set of udders for a skull, is named... Peaches.
- Actually, he wasn't the overlord of "Heck". There was a shadowy figure with a beanie who was Peaches' master. He even punished Peaches with starring in his own sitcom/animated series "Peaches' Modern Life".
- Four-Fingered Hands
- Funny Animal
- Funny Foreigner: The cab driver in "Commuted Sentence".
- Fun with Flushing: Rocko's pet goldfish is accidentally flushed down the toilet, and gets stuck in the drain pipe for a few years, clogging it up.
- Furry Confusion: Dogs (like Spunky and Earl) are non-sentient pets of sentient animals.
- To make matters worse, there ARE sentient dogs. Even Spunky's cavedog ancestor walked upright, on two legs, and had a language.
- This comes to a head in "Frog's Best Friend", where Spunky appears in a cameo alongside an anthropomorphic dog mailman.
- G-Rated Sex: Ed and Bev and their plates. That is all.
- Gag Censor: Rocko's self-worn censor bar when he strips naked at the nude beach in "Sand In Your Navel". Also, Rocko's weirdly crotch-restricted censor bar when he walks down the staircase nude in "Camera Shy"
- Gay Aesop: Rocko suffers this badly in the end of the episode "Closet Clown".
- Gender Equals Breed: Filburt and Hutchinson's kids... except for one who looks like Heffer. Well, he did warm their eggs. Yes, a turtle and a cat laid hard-shelled eggs that needed to be kept warm; don't delve any further.
- Giant Hands of Doom: God, in the show's intro.
- Godwin's Law: In "Rocko's Happy Sack," Rocko claims to have dealt with a "Gestapo security guard." Since this scene is not actually shown, it is unknown whether or not said security guard is actually a Nazi.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Parodied, natch, in "Spitballs".
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!
- Grand Finale: See Distant Finale above.
- Great Big Book of Everything / Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Book Of KNOWLEDGE, which is literally shoved directly into Rocko's brain despite being larger than his body, causing his head to inflate. Not to mention his facial expression in the process...
- Green Aesop: "Zanzibar". Unlike numerous other examples of this trope, the polluting company (Conglomo-O) is more negligent than malicious or evil, and voluntarily cleans up their act when Rocko and friends bring the pollution issue to their attention.
Captain Compost Heap: So remember, kids - be nice to Mother Nature... or she'll kick our butts!
- The Grim Reaper: Make that the Grim Recycler, if you will. And he makes a short appearance in "Zanzibar" too.
- Grossout Show
- Gross-Up Close-Up
- Groupie Brigade: "We love WEDGIE BOY!"
- Growing Up Sucks: The show's intro, not to mention the main plot point of the episode "Old Fogey Froggy".
- Grumpy Old Man: Who else? Grandpa Wolfe.
- Hair-Trigger Avalanche: Demonstrated in "Cabin Fever" when Ed Bighead causes an avalanche by shouting "PINHEADS!" at the top of his lungs.
- Halloween Episode: "Sugar Frosted Frights"/"Ed is Dead: A Thriller".
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Rocko usually wears a blue shirt and nothing else; lampooned when he becomes a model for jockey shorts.
- Happily Married: Ed and Bev Bighead quarrel, but they do genuinely love each other. When Bev got her nose in "Nothing to Sneeze At", Ed was devastated because he stank; losing the nose brought them closer. In "Wacky Delly", Ed chases Bev round while he is inside a hamster ball. Her giggles are hysterical.
- Filburt and Dr. Hutchison also seem to be happy together.
- Headless Horseman: parodied with the one-legged "Hopping Hessian".
- Heh Heh, You Said X: From "She's the Toad":
Filburt: Ed Bighead, I am your conscience!
Heffer: I'm his conscience too.
Heffer: Don't say "I," say "we."
Heffer: We! WE!
Filburt: Oh, okay. We we!
Heffer (laughing): You said wee-wee! Say it again!
Filburt: Wee-wee! (Heffer laughs again)
- Hellevator: In "Carnival Knowledge"—its sign actually labels it an "Elevator to Hell."
- Hell Is That Noise: Played for laughs where the gang is shown walking in a forest and they suddenly heard a noise, freak out, and shout "What was that?!" Filburt calmly walks past them saying, "Oh, just a twig snapping", which turns out to be true.
- Her Code Name Was Mary Sue: Filburt gets very defensive of his character The Cheese, who is the best character on the shownote and a possible reference to Filburt's voice actor Mr. Lawrence who is the head writer and got all the funniest jokes.
- Heroic BSOD: Heffer has one in the April Fools episode.
- I Am Not Weasel: In a Running Gag Rocko has trouble convincing people he's a wallaby. He's usually called a beaver.
- To be fair, 90% of the time it's Heffer's grandfather, who is practically blind.
- I Ate WHAT?: Rocko, after Heffer describes what's in the dinner he made for him. And for the record, the ingredients are: Pickled banana shavings, gym socks, canned haggis, beetle bladders, real processed head cheese, saltpetre, reconstituted corn sweat, the finest barley and hops, potash sulfur, monosodium glutamate, and vegetable cartilage as a binding agent.
- Basically, Heffer fed Rocko animal innards, potassium-based chemical compounds mostly used in fertilzers, and two of the main ingredients of beer.
- I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin
- I Have No Son: A season two episode where Rocko and Filburt search for The Bigheads' estranged son, who now works in Holl-O-Wood as an animation director.
- I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: Said by Heffer in "Who's For Dinner?"
- Impossible Shadow Puppets: In "Cabin Fever", Mr. Bighead does shadow puppets of a running deer and the Eiffel Tower. Much to his frustration, nobody can guess what they are.
- Inherently Funny Words: "Naked" in Camera Shy. NAAAKEEED!
- Insistent Terminology: Heffer frequently corrected people who called him a cow ("Steer").
- Interspecies Adoption: Heffer was originally going to be fattened up and eaten by the Wolfe family, but they grew to love him instead.
- Interspecies Romance: Filburt and Dr. Hutchinson, along some minor characters.
Gorilla: [angrily interjecting, with a crying manatee right next to him] Hey, buddy! My wife's a sea mammal!
[offscreen sound of guy getting his ass kicked]
- Iris Out
- It Came from the Fridge: "Trash-O-Madness".
- Jerkass: Heffer, by far, and Ed Bighead. Filburt can occasionally lapse into this, too — usually if he's forced to be around Heffer.
- Not that Filburt needed Heffer's help. In one episode, he seems willing to let Rocko get eaten by a bald eagle in order to steal said eagle's wigs.
- Sluggo from Carnival Knowledge, who willingly puts his customers through dangerous rides and rigged carnival games just to make a buck.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Grandpa Wolfe in "Crusin" Part 2, when he saves Rocko from drowning in the ocean. Also Heffer; while he's lazy and selfish, he's shown to really come through for Rocko in times of duress.
- Joker Jury: A fly fakes physical injuries to file a lawsuit against Rocko. The entire jury is made up of insects.
- Kafka Komedy: Rocko just can't seem to catch a break. Partially subverted in that his niceness is not infinite.
- Kangaroo Court: See above.
- Karma Houdini: In "Camera Shy" Heffer and Filburt film Rocko sleepwalking naked. This ends up causing a big ordeal for Rocko, but never once do they so much as suffer a lick of guilt for their little prank.
- Large Ham: Ed Bighead, without a doubt. "PINHEADDDDDDDS!" The Hippo Lady as well. "HOWW DARRE YOUUU!?" The hot-tempered instructor from "Skid Marks" is also one of these. "As far as I'm concerned, you're all WILD PIIIGS!!!" And who could forget the Chameleon Brothers in "Camera Shy"? "OH, LOOK, it's our little FILLLM-MAAAKERS HEERE!!!" "Goofy sound effects? WITH WHIPPED CREEAM ON TOPP!!!" "THAT'S OURR MASSTERPIECE!!" "Everyone who is wishing to look artistic will want one...OF OUR ELEVEN THOUSAND COPIES!!" "EVERYONE is FRAPPING IT to our bought-out FILM! Have an espresso, baaaaaby!"
- Left the Background Music On
- Lemony Narrator: In "Popcorn Pandemonium", the trailer voice for "Dracula: Done to Death" states:
Announcer: It's not new, it's not original... it isn't even very interesting... but it is coming this summer.
- Let's Meet the Meat: One episode begins with a chicken applying for a job- at a chicken restaurant. You can see her nametag on a package of chicken about five seconds after she gets hired.
- Limited Wardrobe: Lampshaded, too.
- Long List: In "Bedfellows", Heffer rattles off every ingredient in the meal he cooked for Rocko.
Heffer: There's pickled banana shavings, gym socks, canned haggis, beetle bladder, real processed head cheese, salt peter, reconstituted corn sweat, the finest barley and hops. (the meal comes alive and tries to get away; Heffer stabs it) Hmmm, now where was I. Pot ash, sulfur, mono sodium glutamate, and vegetable cartilage as a binding agent.
- Lounge Lizard: Filburt aspires to be one in the style of his idols Jack Walla, Frank Salamander, Johnny Charisma, Bobby Gila, and Buddy Gecko.
- May Contain Evil: Numerous CONGLOM-O products in "Canned", including a childrens' water slide with electrified rails and a combination jock strap/jumper cable.
- Magnifico Mexicans: The ambiguously gay Chameleon Brothers, who are stereotypically Mexican and speak with a noticeable Mexican accent; in fact, the episode "Camera Shy" pushes this stereotype all the way up to eleven, to the point where they might as well be wearing sombreros. "HOLY ENCHILADA!"
- Magnum Opus Dissonance: In-universe example. Ralph Bighead felt that the world's largest still life sculpture would be his masterpiece, but it turns out that it's not as popular as Wacky Delly was before he got involved in the show.
- Mandatory Line: In "Teed Off", during the climax when Heffer's plane is hit by a piano and descends, everyone starts to scream, including Rocko, sitting in a chair with Spunky at home. He wasn't featured in the episode before that point.
- Rocko only shows up in the beginning of "An Elk for Heffer" and "Nothing to Sneeze At" with only one or two lines of dialogue.
- Manly Tears: Anytime Heffer cries, especially during "Who's for Dinner" and "To Heck and Back".
- Man of a Thousand Voices:
- In addition to voicing Heffer, Tom Kenny provided the voices for the majority of minor and one-shot characters in the show.
- And those characters that WEREN'T voiced by him were almost always voiced by Charlie Adler.
- Linda Wallem voiced practically every female character on this show.
- This can also be a case of talking to himself, when one considers, with a few exceptions here and there, the series really only utilized five voice actors:
- Carlos Alazraqui: Rocko, Spunky, Leon, Mr. No Way
- Tom Kenny: Heffer, Chuck, Mr. Smitty, Really Really Big Man, Peaches
- Doug "Mr." Lawrence: Filburt, Peter Wolfe
- Charlie Adler: Ed Bighead, Bev Bighead, Mr. Dupett, George Wolfe, Grandpa Wolfe, Hippo Lady
- Linda Wallem: Dr. Hutchinson, Virgina Wolfe, Cindy Wolfe, Tammy Pig
- Meaningful Name: "Dr." Bendova.
- Mega Corp.: Conglom-O. Hell, their slogan is "We Own You". It's right on the front of their building. And their logo is the Earth in a martini glass like an olive.
- Mime and Music-Only Cartoon: "Fatal Contraption".
- Misfortune Cookie: Could be considered the Trope Maker. The episode "Fortune Cookie" has Filbert receiving a fortune cookie telling him "Bad luck and extreme misfortune will infest your pathetic soul for all eternity" and him receiving a streak of bad luck shortly after.
- Mood Whiplash: In "Rocko's Happy Sack," the grocery store butcher wallows in a pool of self-loathing as he evaluates how sucky his life is: he's fat, he's ugly, he's a pig, he's never been married, etc. Then a liver somehow comes to life, crawls out of its packaging, and finds its way to him, which actually breaks him out of his misery, and then believes he's actually got a pretty good life as it is.
- My Beloved Smother: A more mild version, Virginia Wolfe treats her adopted son Heffer like he's still a little kid, but he's is such a Man Child, he doesn't seem to mind... that is until Rocko and Filburt start teasing him about it and calling him a "mama's boy".
- Naughty Birdwatching: Believe it or not, Heffer and Filburt very eagerly do this to Rocko in the episode "Camera Shy". USING A FREAKING STATE-OF THE ART DIGITAL VIDEO CAMERA, NO LESS. starting an undesirable video trend involving him nude descending a staircase.
- Nervous Wreck: Rocko nearly becomes one of these while trying to prevent the "La Vida Moderne de Rocko no Pinto" clips (featuring the scene above) from being sold.
Rocko: You did WHAT?!?!?!?
(jumps into his own mailbox)
- No Dialogue Episode: The episode "Fatal Contraption", in which Rocko buys a living food processor, features no dialogue except for an announcer saying "Buy this! Food-O-Matic 2000!"
- Noodle Incident: Heffer asks Rocko if he's still "peeved about the Poodle Incident" at the beginning of the episode "Manic Mechanic."
- Oblivious Adoption: Heffer was quite literally raised by wolves, and didn't realize this until Rocko pointed it out.
- Once an Episode: A fart noise can be heard. Sometimes more than once per episode, but every episode had at least one.
- Only Sane Man: Rocko, although even he has his moments.
- Rocko seems to have problems dealing with frustration and anger, especially in later episodes.
- Organ Autonomy: The pink appendix in "Tickled Pinky" who goes to Organ-School
- Out of Order: In "Who's For Dinner?", the fact that Heffer's family are wolves is supposed to be a big revelation. But that episode originally aired after "Bedfellows", where they play a semi-major role.
- On Netflix, the episode containing "Carnival Knowledge" and "Sand in Your Navel" is the first episode when really it's the episode containing "A Sucker for the Suck-O-Matic" and "Canned."
- All but Season Two were broadcasted out of order during the shows initial run on Nickelodeon; although in most cases the show was aired in the correct order during reruns, the DVD releases of Seasons One, Three, and Four place the episodes out of order again (since they are presented in original broadcast order, instead of chronological order).
- Overly Long Gag: The wheel in "Fortune Cookie" comes off, as a result of Filburt's bad luck, and starts wrecking everyone and everything in the whole world.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Ed dressed as Earl in "Frog's Best Friend". Also Heffer and Filburt dressed as Ed in "She's the Toad".
- Parallel Parking: Rocko's boss, Mr. Smitty, does a really poor job of it in "Commuted Sentence", smashing both the front and rear car while pulling in.
- Pilot: "Trash-O-Madness", which was later expanded to 11 minutes and worked into a proper episode opposite "The Good, the Bad, and the Wallaby." It's incredibly Off Model as a result of all the conflicting art styles.
- A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: Mr. Bighead sleepwalks and acts out dreams of being a pirate, brought on by going to see a play about pirates with Bev, and thinking back to his first instance of stage fright while performing in the very same play back in grade school.
- Promoted Fanboy: In-universe example. Rocko, Filber, and (not revealed until later) Heffer were big fans of Ralph Bighead's Meet The Fatheads, and gladly accepted Ralph's offer to help him create his new show.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: From "Skid Marks":
- Raised by Wolves: Heffer is literally raised by a wolf family. Originally, he was going to be fattened and eaten (which explains the "birthmark" of the different cuts of beef on him and why his dad called him "Steak" as a child), but they grew to love him as one of their own.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: "Bye, Bye Birdie" was based on an article Joe Murray had read about some one being asked to petsit a beloved dog for a friend, and that dog ended up dying while being pet-sat, and petsitter not being able to bring himself to tell his friend the dog died.
- Rearrange the Song: The theme for seasons 2-4 was rearranged and sung by The B-52s.
- On the first two produced episodes of season 1, the theme song had distorted, high-pitched voices. All the other season 1 episodes had normal voices in the song.
- Remember When We Turned Off The Sun?: "Put out to Pasture".
- Sanity Slippage: Also in that episode, when Rocko, Heffer, and Filburt are trying to substitute a "potato, water, and lightbulb" experiment, there is a section featuring potato chips. Rocko slowly deals out the chips like poker chips, and while Heffer eats all of his instantly, Filburt plans to eat one potato chip per day. Heffer begs for Rocko's chips, scarfs them down, licks his fingers and his fingers, and starts begging for Filburt's chips. Filbert goes so insane that he starts talking to his own chips.
Heffer: (fights with Filburt)
- Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Turned out he forswore violence and became a monk for a Unicorn-worshiping cult.
- And Filburt and Heffer still beat him up anyways to "avenge" Rocko.
- Scout Out: "Belch of Destiny" features the Weasel Scouts.
- Screw Politeness Im A Senior: Grandpa Wolfe. Though "Cruisin'" implies there's a Freudian Excuse.
- Grandma Wolfe is even worse, to the point of even ordering around Peaches.
- Crazy Aunt Gretchen in Filburt and Dr. Hutchinson's wedding.
- Seldom Seen Species: Rocko the wallaby.
- Series Continuity Error: Happens on occasion. Some specific examples are as follows:
- The period of time where Rocko moves from Australia to America isn't always consistent; most of the time, he apparently moved right after graduating high school, however, there's been times where he's had flashbacks that would suggest otherwise, such as going to the same high school as Heffer and Filburt, and even knowing Filburt since they were toddlers.
- Similarly, continuity is broken in "Put out to Pasture", in which Filburt recalls the first time he met Heffer was when he gave out free samples in a grocery store, however, Rocko recalls meeting him for the first time in high school, with Filburt, who apparently never met Heffer before, but had heard of him.
- While this can most likely be explained by Early Installment Weirdness, Mr. Dupette was originally the president of a major comic book store, while Ed was the C.E.O. of Conglom-O, however, afterwards, it's Dupette whose the C.E.O. of Conglom-O, and Ed is just an executive (and Ed's position seems to vary from episode to episode).
- Although "From Here to Maternity" was produced and originally aired towards the beginning of the fourth season, Nickelodeon reordered the episodes for reruns, making "From Here to Maternity" part of the final episode, which means when watching the show in reruns, Filburt and Dr. Hutchinson's children have already been born before their actual birth.
- Filburt's appearance outside his shell varies, either his body is as thin as a twig, or is shaped like his shell.
- Serious Business: Golf in "Teed Off".
- Shaped Like Itself: From "Dear John:"
: My living room, it's a bathroom. My closet is a bathroom. My basement is a bathroom! My ballroom is a bathroom! EVEN MY BATHROOM IS A BATHROOM! Well, I guess that's okay.
- Shout-Out: So many...
- The opening sequence to the Show Within a Show The Fatheads - where the main characters are assembled in a factory - is copied from the opening sequence to the famous sketch comedy You Can't Do That on Television.
- Heffer takes a job as a nighttime security guard at Conglom-O. As he slowly descends into madness, he has a conversation with a ghostly bartender named Lloyd.
- Also, in the same episode, he encounters a pair of twins in the hallway. He asks for their identity, but they simply tell him they work here. ("We've always worked here.") Then they disappear.
- In Popcorn Pandemonium, Heffer and Rocker watch a movie with a gorilla in a space helmet.
- The early supermarket episode featured a butcher lamenting that he'll never be married and will never know true love, a reference to the Ernest Borgnine movie Marty.
- In the episode "Teed Off", Mr. Noway confers with an ominous respirator-equipped villain who wears all black. Noway even seems to get Force-choked at one point while the man addresses him angrily... but it turns out he just had a hairball lodged in his throat.
- Several to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the episode "Manic Mechanic", Filburt proclaims he can take Rocko's broken car and return to it "that spark that is the breath of life itself!" In the episode "Wacky Delly", after viewing an episode of his cartoon The Fatheads, Ralph Bighead is told by his toadies "It's a credit to your genius!" "A triumph of your will!" "It's okay!"
- A pink Enterprise makes an appearance in the episode "A Sucker for the Suck-O-Matic".
- "Garbage Strike: The Musical" in that same episode is a parody of Newsies.
- Bloaty and Squirmy are a clearly meant to be Ralph Cramden and Ed Norton, while the amoebas are Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.
- In one episode, Filburt goes on a big speil about how he always wanted to be a chimney sweep which is a clear nod to the Lumberjack Sketch. Rocko cuts him off before he starts singing, however.
- In "Fatal Contraption", when the food processor is walking alone in the desert, a bird runs past him three times, and just later he's getting roasted by a wolf.
- In "Sugar Frosted Frights", after Filburt goes insane from eating all the candy, he has a hallucination sequence similar to the "Night on Bald Mountain" sequence from Fantasia.
- In it's companion episode "Ed Is Dead: A Thriller!", the beginning is a shout-out to the Alfred Hitchcock Presents opening, complete with music. The episode's main plot is a parody of Rear Window and contains numerous shout-outs to that film.
- A couple of references to Psycho:
- In the aforementioned "Ed is Dead: A Thriller!", Rocko sneaks into the the Bigheads' basement and sees what appears to be Mr. Bighead seated in a chair with his back to Rocko, similar to Lila finding Bates' mother. Subverted when it actually turns out to be the Bigheads' Angry Guard Dog.
- In "Road Rash", Rocko and Heffer attempt to spend a night at Bait's Motel:
Motel Owner: Oh yesss. We have a vacancy. And we have showers in all the rooms. What's that?
[sees the light on in a nearby house on the hill]
Motel Owner: Excuse me. [changes into a wig and dress] Coming, Mother! [runs off]
- In "Skid Marks", the clown from the driver's ed film sounds like Roger Rabbit.
- In "A Sucker for the Suck-o-Matic", Rocko's old dying vacuum cleaner's last saying is "Rosebud", though Rocko misinterprets it as "house crud."
- The Slacker: Heffer is so lazy that for him, dropping the remote farther than arm's length from his chair in front of the TV is a major crisis.
"MOM! I CAN'T REEEEEEEEAAACH!!"
- Stealth Pun: Rocko going down the stairs naked is a pun on Nude Descending A Staircase. It further works because of Duchamp's love for puns, e.g. L.H.O.O.Q.
- Stock Footage: "The Fatlands" reused the "Bloaty and Squirmy" intro from "Dirty Dog".
- Subverted Kids Show: To a degree. While part of the adult humor comes from innuendos and parodies, another extremely large part of it comes from its disturbingly extreme levels of satire. This show's world displays a twisted and corrupt mockery of society (hell, it's even owned by an evil mega corporation), and it would be impossible to list everything wrong with Rocko's world in general. However, the show still manages to be hilarious thanks to all of this,
- Surreal Music Video: The show's intro, arguably.
- Take That: Heffer, to Filburt in "Wacky Delly": "Your cartoons aren't even funny enough to be on The Family Channel!"
- Tastes Like Chicken: In "Canned", after a giant rhinoceros accidentally swallows Rocko.
- Teleporters and Transporters: Parodied when Filburt and his kids use a Star Trek-like teleporter platform in "Future Schlock"... and arrive ten feet to the left, where they rush down the stairs.
- Thing-O-Matic: Several times, most obviously in "A Sucker for the Suck-O-Matic".
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: Bedfellows.
- Title Drop: From "Wallaby on Wheels":