Western Animation: Rocko's Modern Life aka: Rockos Modernlife
One of Nickelodeon's most famous Nicktoons. 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, 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). To this day, it remains a prominent cult phenomenon, due to the adult humor and number of quotables.There were no legal DVDs available from Nickelodeon owner Viacom, 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.
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.
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 PCPs, MSGs, and BVDs.
Guy: ...I like PCPs.
Actor Allusion: In "An Elk for Heffer," after first meeting Elkie, Heffer is so flustered that he forgets his name. While trying to think of it, he lists several others - Tom, Jeff ("Swampy" Marsh), Dan (Povenmire), and Joe (Murray).
Widow Hutchison is voiced by Kevin Meaney. And one point she says "Turtles and cats together. That's not right."
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".
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.
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.
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."
"Leap Frogs," on the grounds of very risque content. The episode centered on Bev Bighead trying to seduce Rocko while her husband is at work, as she feels that she's not being loved by Ed.
"Heff in a Handbasket": This episode was banned following complaints of the premise, which saw Heffer selling his soul to Peaches (the show's take on The Devil) and trying to win it back on a game show.
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!!"
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Deranged Animation: The show delves into this trope from time to time. "The Fatheads" and "Wacky Deli" are in-universe examples.
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 Actually Really Really Big Man in a wiener suit. flies in, puts the cultists onto a deserted island, and takes Rocko & the others home.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.invoked
Her Code Name Was Mary Sue: Filburt gets very defensive of his character The Cheese, who is the best character on the shownote Better than both the salami and the bologna combined and a possible reference to Filburt's voice actor Mr. Lawrence who is the head writer and got all the funniest jokes.
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.
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.
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.
May Contain Evil: Numerous CONGLOM-O products in "Canned", including a childrens' water slide with electrified rails and a combination jock strap/jumper cable.
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: Heffer during "Who's for Dinner" and "To Heck and Back".
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.
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!"
Oblivious Adoption: Heffer was quite literally raised by wolves, and didn't realize this until Rocko pointed it out.
Rocko seems to have problems dealing with frustration and anger, especially in later episodes.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In "Skid Marks", the clown from the driver's ed film sounds like Roger Rabbit.
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".
Take That: Heffer, to Filburt in "Wacky Delly": "Your cartoons aren't even good enough to get on The Family Channel!"
Talking to Himself: With only five main cast members (including Carlos Alazraqui, Tom Kenny, Mr Lawrence, Charlie Adler and Linda Wallem), this does happen fairly frequently, such as in "To Heck and Back", much of it features Heffer and Peaches (both Tom Kenny characters) talking to each other, and Charlie Adler voices both of the Bigheads, among other examples...
Way Past The Expiration Date: The tub Rocko finds in his fridge in "Trash-O-Madness" that's so old it's covered in dust and reads "Buy War Bonds". All it contains is a green moldy blob that Spunky finds a good chew toy.
Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: The Chameleon Brothers, Chuck and Leon. Hutchinson as well which is lampshaded with each job ("Didn't you used to be a dentist? And a surgeon? And a cashier?")
Mr. Dupette started out as the owner of Super-Lot-O-Comics, the comic book store Rocko worked at, before getting hired at Kind-of-a-Lot-of-Comics, and then got retconned into being the CEO of Conglom-O.
Bizarrely, considering he's The Slacker, Heffer. He's been a mailman, a security guard (though that was only to pay for destroying the family car), a paperboy, a coffee server, a golf gardener and even had his own Christmas tree business with Filbert.
With Friends Like These...: Filburt and Heffer can be like this to Rocko in their less sympathetic moments. In fact this was actually the title of one episode.
Filburt served as this before he got turned/retconned into one of Rocko's friends.
The Worst Seat in the House: One cartoon saw Rocko and Heffer go to a baseball game in an effort to replace a prized foul ball that he once caught as a kid. It turns out that their seats are beach chairs on top of an extremely tall lighting rig that's even above space satellites and where Rocko would have no chance of catching a foul ball. And wouldn't you just know it, a foul ball does end up flying there long after Rocko and Heffer have abandoned the seats.
The episode where Rocko and Heffer go to the movies revolves around them trying to find seats that AREN'T this.
Yank the Dog's Chain: From "Commuted Sentence", after Rocko scrambles to get to work (after being warned that one more tardy arrival would mean being fired):
Rocko: Am I on time?
Mr. Smitty: Actually, you are on time. (Beat) On time... to be... FIRED!!!
Younger Than They Look: Filburt doesn't age well, though that was mostly because Rocko and Heffer were out of town for a while.