Western Animation: The Cleveland Show
The Cleveland Show
is a Family Guy Spin-Off
starring former bit character Cleveland Brown. The show follows Cleveland's new life in his hometown in Virginia as he remarries his old flame Donna and settles down to raise his own child, Cleveland Jr., now a morbidly obese, shy boy, and his two stepchildren, teenager Roberta and five-year-old Rallo.
It still takes place in the same universe as Family Guy
and the characters have even crossed paths in his show on occasion. But like American Dad!
, the series gradually stepped out of the shadow of its predecessors to find its own brand of humor, developing the title character as far more sympathetic than the other leads and using a more subtle comic style throughout. It has fewer cutaways, but they are still there, though, like Family Guy
(and the Golden Age Simpsons
), this show still has bizarre asides from the plot
and a lot of humor that breaks the fourth wall
and mocks the FOX Network
and America at large.
The series was launched in September 2009. It's notable for being renewed for a second season before the first episode had even aired, supposedly due to positive reaction to a deliberately leaked pilot. The fourth season began airing in October 2012. In April 2013, it was announced that the show had been cancelled, but Fox denied these rumors. In May 2013, Fox announced that the show would not be returning, and no more episodes would be produced, effectively ending the series. MacFarlane has confirmed◊
that the Browns (and the Tubbs) will move back to Quahog. With this news, The Cleveland Show
is now the first Seth MacFarlane
animated series to be canceled without promises of a revival.
- Acrofatic: Cleveland Junior can move pretty fast for a boy his size when he wants to.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Cleveland's parents Cookie and "Freight Train". Even Donna shows this to some degree; in some episodes she seems to express some amount of dissatisfaction with Cleveland and pines for her neglectful ex-husband Robert.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Arguably the case with Tim the Bear. He's indicated at least a couple of times that he has a crush on Donna.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Cleveland is mocked because his son vowed to keep his virginity.
- An Odd Place to Sleep: Gus sleeps in a crypt. Given that he's voiced by David Lynch, this could be a play on how dark and weird David Lynch is said to be.
- Ascended Extra: Dr. Fist, who went from being a minor character voiced by Seth MacFarlane (and later Tom Kenny, when Seth was busy with the movie Ted) before getting a full episode dedicated to him late in the 4th season, during which he was voiced by Bryan Cranston. After which, he became a main member of Cleveland's drinking buddies, still voiced by Cranston.
- As the Good Book Says: Invoked by Rollo, though it promptly backfires.
Rollo: Doesn't the Bible teach us about forgiveness?
Rollo: And doesn't it say about loving thy neighbour?
- Author Filibuster: Subverted. Cleveland takes time out of the episode to complain about what's wrong with America today, but it turns out that it's just a set up for another gag, and that Cleveland was merely reciting lines from a play.
- Awesome McCoolName: Cleveland's father.
Holt: Cool nickname. Why do they call you Freight Train?
: 'cause I destroyed your mama
on the train tracks.
- Ax-Crazy: Donnie.
- Bare Your Midriff: Roberta's Limited Wardrobe consists of a green tube top.
- The Beard: Lydia Waterman. Lampshaded in the first Christmas episode.
Mr. Waterman: Where's my beard?
- Bears Are Bad News: Averted with Tim the Bear. Yes, he does growl and threaten to claw and maul people, but really, he's more human than bear (not on the same level as Brian acting more human than dog on Family Guy, but pretty close). And the episode "Like A Boss" reveals that he moved into a house because he's afraid of living in the woods.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Cleveland's once fat (now hot) high school classmate was still obsessed with him.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Cleveland Junior is constantly proving that you should heed this
- Big Eater: Tim, being a bear.
"All You Can Eat my furry ass!"
- Also Cleveland Jr. and Kendra, Lester's morbidly obese wife.
- Big Damn Movie: Parodied with a cold-open trailer that seems to be a mix of every action movie from the 1980s to now ever made.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Arianna.
- Black and Nerdy: Cleveland Junior, who is nerdy even by white people standards.
- Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Roberta dates Federline, a white man who acts black. Rollo (during a black supremacist phase) asks his sister why she's going out with a white guy, she answers with "Do I look like a white girl? Or an Asian girl, or a..."
- Blatant Lies: "I fought off six Al Qaedas."
- Brick Joke: The show has pretty good writers, and these do crop up. There's a couple in the pilot, including this gem.
"I've never seen a black man cry before."
"I thought they just got more pissed off!"
- Bratty Half-Pint: Rallo
- Bratty Teenage Daughter: Roberta.
- Bus Crash: Loretta, who had not had any speaking lines since Family Guy's fourth season (with the exception of one episode), is killed in a cutaway.
- The Cameo: In "Hot Cocoa Bang Bang" Jeff "Comic Book Guy" Albertson makes a speaking cameo, voiced by Hank Azaria.
Comic Book Guy: Worst. Cameo. Ever.
- Character Development Cleveland gets more depth in this series than he ever did on Family Guy. On Family Guy, he was just the sane, yet boring black best friend of Peter Griffin who owned a deli and was married to a black woman who cheated on him with Quagmire and left him. He still is this way on the occasions that Peter, Quagmire, and Joe appear on the show, but, outside of that, Cleveland is shown to be like Peter Griffin back in the early days of Family Guy: a drunken jerk, who eventually does right and sees the error of his ways.
- Characterization Marches On: Tim the Bear was devoutly religious in the early episodes, and he was a smoker but kept it a secret from his wife. The smoking part was dropped after the pilot episode.
- Chekhov's Skill: Combined with a Brick Joke. At the beginning of one episode, Cleveland Jr. slowly rolls into the scene, explaining that he's practicing what he would do if he were on fire. This looks like usual Cleveland Jr. weirdness until a house he is in catches fire at the end.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Cleveland's best friend Terry had his screen time significantly drop only AFTER he was finally given a trait that sets him apart from the other friends (he's a bisexual). He eventually disappeared altogether only to be replaced by Dr. Fist (who was now voiced by Bryan Cranston rather than Seth MacFarlane — and, on one occasion, Tom Kenny).
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Cleveland Jr.
- Comically Missing the Point: Lester Crinklesac doesn't realize the historical significance of the Confederate Flag, instead thinking it to be a tribute to the Dukes Of Hazzard.
- Continuity Nod: Meg makes a cameo and continues to be the Butt Monkey during the opening credits for the first Christmas Episode.
- Control Freak: Principal Farthquard
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Rallo gets an elaborate one for his pranks.
- Cleveland and Lester's lawsuit was settled this way.
- Cringe Comedy: Despite the humor being a little lighter than what you find on Family Guy and American Dad!, this show is still more messed up and cringe-worthy than Seth McFarlane's other shows.
- Crossover: The first third of the pilot is a crossover with originating show Family Guy (in fact, it's exactly like a regular Family Guy episode), where it's explained why Cleveland's leaving Quahog (his divorce with Loretta was finalized and she got the house, and he was tired of always being the Butt Monkey in Peter's jokes/schemes/insanity).
- Peter makes a guest appearance in season 3's "BFFs".
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Cleveland Jr., the badass part showing more and more often as of late.
- Crowd Song: "Small Ass Town (Big Ass Hearts)" from the episode, "The Blue, The Gray, and The Brown".
- Deadpan Snarker: Cleveland's mother Cookie, to anyone who isn't her son or grandchildren. Especially Donna.
- Deep South: The show takes place in the fictional town of Stoolbend, Virginia, and one of Cleveland's neighbors seems to be an out-and-out racist.
- Demoted to Extra: Roberta was demoted to this a little into the first season, having very little screen time and even less dialog. She is also currently the only member of Cleveland's new family that hasn't met the Griffins. However this was mainly due to her voice actress being put on maternity leave.
- Donna meets the Griffins when she and Cleveland have extended cameos in a Family Guy episode in 2011.
- It would have been commendable of the show to reveal that Cleveland's womanizing best friend Terry is bisexual and in a relationship with a man voiced by Justin Timberlake (the same one who was in **NSYNC and is one of Saturday Night Live's most memorable and frequent hosts)... if it weren't for the fact that Terry was demoted immediately afterwards. To add insult to injury, Terry was eventually replaced by Dr. Fist (who wasn't all that memorable or great) in later episodes.
- Deus ex Machina: Whenever any characters find themselves heading toward an Inevitable Waterfall, the scene will cut off (a la a hastily-edited movie) and then cut back to them thanking the magical talking walrus Mr. Flippers for somehow saving them.
- Devoted to You: Cleveland to Donna. Once even lampshaded by Donna. Even Cleveland's comic dream was for her.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Donny in "Nightmare On Grace Street". Because Cleveland mocked his bee costume and his puns, he tries to kill Cleveland and his family!
- Distracted by the Sexy: Lester, Holt and Tim by Roberta in a skimpy bikini in the season two episode 'Fat And Wet.'
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Averted and played straight simultaneously. One episode involves Cleveland trying to find a girlfriend for Holt. He succeeds, but it's not long before he and his friends discover that she's been physically abusive to him. When they go to confront her about this, she responds by beating the crap out of each of them (even Tim the bear). None of them fight back because they Wouldn't Hit a Girl. Predictably, this is to set up a Designated Girl Fight with Donna near the end of the episode.
- Double Entendre Cleveland unintentionally does one when he tries to get someone to play with Cleveland Jr. He ends up getting busted for soliciting sex from a minor.
- For a nonsexual example, in "My Gang" Cleveland gets the task of changing some troublemakers from Stoolbend High to good kids. He wants to do this by making them sell a product, and pitches that they sell cookies - though the way he describes the business strategy sounds suspiciously like selling drugs which the kids notice and do. Hilarity Ensues.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Essence of Cleveland, the formerly fat Patty drugs Cleveland then steals a sample of his 'essence', planning to impregnate herself with it. While Cleveland is understandably squicked by this, Donna blames Cleveland for it because she told him not to see the woman. The whole situation is, as always, played for laughs.
- Enhance Button: Done on Junior's laptop with a YouTube video no less.
- The Every Man: This was pretty much Cleveland's role on Family Guy as well, considering how disturbing Peter, Quagmire and even Joe acted at times.
- Expy: A bit here and there, but actually averted to some degree.
- While (for example) Rallo fills much the same role as Stewie (toddler-aged child prone to un-childlike behavior), but Rallo isn't a matricidal Depraved Bisexual bent on world domination.
- Roberta is a stand-in for Hayley on American Dad!; though, unlike Hayley, Roberta doesn't care about politics (though she did stand up for animal rights and sexual harassment in the workplace on two separate occasions), is still in high school, and isn't Hollywood Homely. However, she followed Hayley's footsteps in terms of getting less screentime as the series went on.
- Brian has some similarities to Tim, both tending to be the voices of reason in their respective shows, both being talking animals (a dog and a bear respectively), and both voiced by MacFarlane. However Tim the Bear has proven he's not like Brian at all in personality. Tim is actually aware that he's a bear and acts like a bear on occasion (compare to the later episodes of Family Guy where Brian's FurryReminders of being a dog are very few and far between), he's a devout Christian (but not to the point where he would be The Fundamentalist), the voice Seth MacFarlane did for Tim is very distinct from Brian, Tim doesn't live with Cleveland, and Tim actually has clothes on (even if it's just a shirt with no pants).
- Cleveland Junior, who was originally a thin, smart, hyperactive kid in Family Guy, has become a physical duplicate of Chris. Their intelligence levels and personalities are pretty different though.
- Side character Kenny West is not the same person as Kanye West (who actually provides the voice). He just sounds like him, looks like him, lives the same lifestyle, is exactly as famous for doing exactly the same thing, and once accidentally called himself Kanye.
- Fan Disservice: Donna without her make-up, padding, wig or false teeth. And no, it's not just a one-time gag. It's canon.
- Fanservice: If you had a liking for Terry, then you'll love the episode "Brotherly Love".
- Roberta's no slouch in this department either, and sometimes she even does it intentionally. Two good example are the episodes Fat And Wet & To Live And Die In VA which have Roberta in a bikini in the former and dressed as Slave Leia in the latter.
- Fiery Redhead: Arianna
- Flirty Stepsiblings: Cleveland Jr. has a crush on "Tyra", who is actually Roberta in a fat-suit.
- Five-Man Band: The Tubbs-Brown family
- Forgot I Could Fly: Averted. Tim remembers he's a bear and nonchalantly threatens to tear Donna to bits if she doesn't stop faking having broken legs and using it to exploit Cleveland around the house.
- Funny Afro: Rallo.
- Furry Confusion: Tim (An anthropomorphic bear) had apparently been donating to money to "Fight bear AIDS", for it to go to a cutaway gag of a badly mauled scientist coming out of his lab and another asking if he got the condom on a (Probably) normal bear.
- Gag Boobs: Big Boob June, naturally.
- Gasshole: Auntie Momma, who is outrageous. Cleveland also temporarily becomes this after Donna puts him on a high-fiber diet.
- Genius Ditz: In one episode Cleveland Jr. is able to create a suit of power armor complete with a shoulder mounted gatling gun out of nothing but pots and pans.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Cleveland's last wish before leaving is to watch Lois and Bonnie make out.
- Golden Snitch: In Coolympics, the last round determined everything. Subverted because Cleveland (who was losing) lost it too, and lost the whole game.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Cleveland's angel/devil are played by Hall and Oats.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Tim the Bear wears no pants which was lampshaded in the episode "Once Upon a Tyne in NYC"
Cleveland: Cartoon bears NEVER wear pants!
- Also used in two jokes where Tim is sitting a strip club. He mentions that being in one is (pause) awkward since he wears no pants when Cleveland asks him why he's sitting all alone. Of course, this ties into the follow up joke where Tim gets up to give Cleveland a hug.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Hinted at being so for Kendra before whatever happened to make her gain the weight. Other characters refuse to let her reveal much information of this, however.
- Happy Holidays Dress: Kendra wears a Happy Holidays Cape in the first Christmas episode.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: The escort who helped cash Junior and Rallo's Vegas winnings. She could have easily stolen the money, but she didn't.
- Hypocritical Humor: The show is riddled with this style of comedy.
- Idiot Savant: Junior.
- Irrational Hatred: Cleveland and Choni, though it's not because of racism.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Rallo, after an episode of trying to supplant Cleveland out of the matrimonial bed.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Kendra
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Cleveland suggests that he and Donna work through an argument through roll-playing. With dinner rolls.
- Ink-Suit Actor: David Lynch as Gus, the bartender.
- Jerkass: Cleveland's father. He tried to stab his son and frequently verbally abuses his wife.
- Donna has also started playing the role of this trope midway through the first season, from beating Cleveland up to shooting him in the foot.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rallo.
- Despite his more abrasive and egotistical habits than before, Cleveland is still rather well intentioned and benevolent.
- Kid-anova: Rallo.
- Killed Off for Real: Loretta, Lydia Waterman and the REAL Cleveland Jr.
- Lampshade Hanging: Quite common. For example, in the episode where Roberta disguises herself as Tyra in a fat suit to learn a lesson about getting by on other qualities than your looks, Cleveland, upon discovering this, remarks "What the hell kind of comedy high school do you go to anyway?"
- Of course, then a Teen Wolf walks right past the two of them.
- Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: The Man Running the booth in "Ain't Nothin' but Mutton Bustin'" Has lawyer friendly duplicates of characters for doll prizes. "SPIDER BUDDY!" "BRAT SIMPSON!" and "Family Dude's "STEVIE!" Not to mention Gengar (Pokémon) Dolls in the other booth.Click to see a picture◊.
- They didn't even need to evoke this trope in Family Guy's case (same franchise), and arguably, The Simpsons as well, since that show does air on Fox and a Family Guy episode has shown Homer's famous "D'oh!" without consequence.
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to Family Guy, this show isn't as brutal, but it does have all the humor and character hallmarks of a Seth MacFarlane show.
- Live Episode: Obviously not really live, but a parody of one where everything goes spectacularly wrong.
- Low-Speed Chase: In an episode set in New York, Cleveland orders a taxi driver to chase after another taxi driver. However, being New York, there's so much traffic that Cleveland could have caught up to the driver by walking.
- Manatee Gag: Just like Family Guy, the show uses this, though not in excess.
- May-December Romance: Both Robert and Dee Dee, and Roberta and Walt in the season 4 finale.
- Medium Awareness: Right from the pilot, when Stewie complained that Cleveland was getting a spinoff.
"What the hell? He's getting his own show?!"
- Missing Mom: Donna's mother, Dee Dee Tubbs. she was a singer in a 60s girl group who gave birth to Donna at 19. Wanting to maintain her singing career, she gave Donna to her brother Kevin, aka Auntie Momma.
- Mysterious Past: Kendra, apparently. She has started a few flashbacks about her past life, which looks quite glamorous (at one point she was married to a nobleman), but before she can elaborate someone always tells her to shut up.
- Mythology Gag: Jr. Has a Cleveland R2-D2 toy in his room.
- Rallo takes his girlfriend to a Cheesy Charlie's. Their Quahog location was supposed to host Stewie's first birthday party, but Peter cancelled.
- Negative Continuity: In "Brown History Month" it was implied Lester and Kendra are related, but in "To Live and Die in VA" the very next season, it was revealed Kendra was a guidance counselor in Lester's school and she made him drop out so they could be together.
- Nerds Are Virgins: When Jr. swore to remain a virgin until marriage, Cleveland tried to scare him straight by taking him to a sci-fi convention. It backfired when Cleveland bough a ton of Worf merchandise.
- According to a DVD Commentary, that episode was actually shown at a comic-con, and when Cleveland talked about where virginity would lead, and it cut to the convention hall, the audience was laughing so hard, they couldn't hear the rest of the scene.
- Principal Farthquar was described to be a "virgin principal."
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Federline Jones, Roberta's boyfriend, is quite similar to Kevin Federline. Le Var "Freight Train" Brown is clearly based on NFL Hall of famer Jim Brown. There is also Uncle Kevin/Auntie Momma, who is quite obviously an expy for Tyler Perry's alternate persona Madea.
- No Communities Were Harmed: Stoolbend is based heavily on Richmond, Virginia, where Mike Henry (the voice actor for Cleveland and co-creator of the show) grew up. During the opening theme, especially, many of the scenes are literally cartoon versions of parts of Richmond.
- This parallels the way Family Guy's Quahog, Rhode Island, is based on Providence, where Seth MacFarlane went to college.
- American Dad! also takes place in Virginia, but in the eastern part of the state which is much more affluent and "northern" due to its proximity to Washington, DC. So we get two related shows portraying the same state in very different ways.
- Noodle Incident: "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Roberta?" ends with Cleveland asking how Cleveland, Jr. (who is naked) got a Caesarian section scar. We never find out why, not even in later episodes.
- In "Birth of a Salesman," one of Cleveland's stories to Mr. Waterman was about why Terry was called "The Wet Banana." We never find out why, but it might have to do with his days on the high school swim club.
- No Periods, Period: Averted with Roberta which Rallo finds this out the hard way. It then leads to a Mistaken for Dying plot until Donna explains to Rollo that women are supposed to do that.
- N-Word Privileges: When rescuing Lester from an angry mob of black people in Harlem, who were using him as a pinata because he referred to one of them as "that word you [Cleveland] call Rallo all the time", Cleveland says that white guys with at least one black friend get one free use of the N-word (which was a bluff, but it did save Lester's neck).
- When Rallo fell down the stairs, he accuses Cleveland of calling him "the N-word," with Cleveland saying, "What? I'm allowed to say it. Right?"
- Obfuscating Disability: In "Beer Walk", after Donna broke her leg, Cleveland had to do all of her chores. However, since Donna finally has her husband do some work, she fakes her injury after she's healed. It took a Batman Gambit to snap her out of it.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: One of the show's recurring gags is Cleveland trying to figure out if Junior is doing this.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Cookie to Donna.
- Older Than They Look: Kendra. During one of her flashbacks she talks about being a twenty-something in 1962. When Cleveland questions how old she is, she smugly says "Fat don't crack!"
- Old Shame: In universe example; "Hot Cocoa Bang-Bang" (a 1970s blaxploitation film that Donna starred in) is apparently this to Donna.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Cleveland attempts to pay a young boy to play with Cleveland Jr. in the car. He gets arrested for attempting to solicit sex from a minor.
- Out of Character: When Terry is revealed to be gay. He's not sure himself, but Paul claims he is. Terry is the polar opposite of his former self — caring, not a sexual deviant... You can see his relations with those women as him showing off, but the sudden change is jarring as hell.
- Out of Focus: Roberta, who seems to be following in the footsteps of Meg and Hayley in terms of screen time. Lampshaded on the "Cleveland Show Live" episode in which a drunken Roberta crashes the performance several times after her debate team B-story was cut.
- Painting the Medium: The first act of the pilot takes place in Quahog, where everything is fullscreen. The rest of the Cleveland show takes place in Stoolbend, where everything is widescreen.
- In Our Gang, Cleveland is told by the leader of the Stoolbloods that if he doesn't get the cocaine, he'll kill Cleveland Jr. in ten minutes. Guess how much running time is left.
- A commercial break later, everyone took two off-screen minutes to go to the bathroom.
- Parody Episode: The episode "Die Semi-Hard" is a parody of the first Die Hard movie with Cleveland in the John McClane role and the regular and supporting cast of the show filling out the rest.
- Ping Pong Naďveté: Similar to Stewie, Rallo frequently switches back and forth between kindergarten-level intelligence and adult intelligence depending on the joke.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: In the season three opener before Peter and the Evil Monkey rescue Cleveland and friends from the rednecks: "Leggo my negro."
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Gabriel Friedman, AKA Federline Jones.
- Pretty in Mink: A few furs, including Donna having worn one for a Blaxploitation film she did years before, and then we Rallo sees her getup, complains that he got in trouble for wearing a mink coat and underwear for a school photo.
- Prom Is for Straight Kids: the lesbian girl Junior was accidentally dating.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: From "Our Gang"
Cleveland: Why! Is! This! Hap! Pen! Ing! To! MEEEEE!!!!
- Quietly Performing Sister Show: While it doesn't draw in the ratings of its siblings Family Guy or American Dad! (and was written off as a watered-down Family Guy by a lot of critics), it did very well for itself, despite many people considering this one of Seth MacFarlane's lesser works.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Cleveland wore an all pink outfit during his stint as host of a daytime women's talk show.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: The promo for the show features Cleveland saying his show is "Family Guy with an afro".
- Reference Overdosed: Justified as it wouldn't be a Seth MacFarlane cartoon without it.
- Religious Stereotype: Surprisingly averted in a MacFarlane work. Tim is a devout Christian, but there have been no jokes or burns against Christianity nor is Tim the Bear portrayed as a Bible thumper.
- Also, Cleveland Junior is an atheist, but, unlike Brian, he's not pushy about it. In fact, he's more like Hayley Smith from American Dad! (read: doesn't believe in God, but pays lip service to the church because the rest of his family believes in God).
- Played somewhat straighter with Tim's wife, Arianna, who makes a comment that Rallo cursing Santa and Christmas at a pageant is what happens "when you put a Jew in charge of a Christmas pageant."
- Arianna criticizes Donna for being a single mother (something that she despises), even though her husband walked out on HER. Ironically and hypocritically, she cheated on Tim on "Cleveland Show Lived" and Donna criticizes her.
- Running Gag: Usually whenever Quagmire makes a brief appearance, he's always complaining about how he never got a spin off.
Quagmire: Wow. They really made it through the whole season. Hey Peter, can I have my own series, now?
Peter: Quagmire, you're a rapist.
- Sassy Black Woman: Roberta, though thankfully without the stereotypical "Mmmm-hmmm!" MOST of the time anyway. She *has* dropped one or two in the course of the show.
- Donna may not SAY "Mmm-hmm!" but she reads a magazine with that title!
- Satellite Love Interest: Donna has received some criticism for being nothing more than a stereotypical sassy black woman. Possibly lampshaded in "Your Show of Shows". At the end of the episode Donna asks for her own show, when asked what she can do, she pulls out a recorder and plays a very basic tune.
- Self-Proclaimed Love Interest: Roberta for Edwin and Caleb. Who turn out to be gay.
- Serial Escalation: The show was renewed for a second season before the first episode even aired, as mentioned above. Also mentioned above, the show was renewed for a third season... less than three weeks after the first season ended.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Donna everyday, given how she looks without her makeover.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Larry Box, Stoolbend's Casually Profane Mayor.
- Slasher Movie: Rallo and his friends watch one in "Beer Walk!", and it inspires Rallo to start scaring people while dressed as Jason, Chucky, Leatherface and Freddy.
- Slapstick Knows No Gender: Usually played straight, while not as frequent as with male characters, the female cast are often slapstick prone. Inverted and Played for Drama in "Gone With The Wind" when Loretta falls victim to the same falling bathtub Running Gag from Family Guy as Cleveland and dies instantly.
- Soul Brotha: Rallo's purpose in life.
- Spicy Latina: Junior's wife's Cecilia's aunt, played by Real Life Spicy Latina, Rosie Perez.
- Spoof Aesop: Cleveland uses Holt to cheat his way to a baseball championship, but upon seeing that he's teaching Cleveland Jr. that it's okay to cheat, he calls it off and the team loses. Cleveland congratulates himself for doing the right thing, but Donna points out that he still cheated in several games, prevented more deserving teams from a chance at the championship and only backed off at the very last moment.
- Spinoff Sendoff: The pilot episode starts in Quahog as Cleveland tells his friends about his troubles and he decides to move away.
- Skunk Stripe: Roberta's unusual hairstyle.
- Staggered Zoom: At the start of the opening credits.
- Straight Gay: Terry. Bi the Way, if you take his womanizing history into consideration.
- Stylistic Suck: the "Live" episode.
- Talking Animal: Cleveland's neighbor, Tim the Bear.
- Tangled Family Tree: Brought up by Rallo (whose class assignment is making a family tree) in "Wheel! Of! Family!" His maternal grandmother is dating his biological father, who was legally adopted by his stepfather's father. They also adopted a Chinese toddler.
- Thanksgiving Episode: The focus of a first-season episode. Most of the "special guest stars" mentioned at the beginning do not in fact appear, but "Auntie Momma" more than makes up for that.
- A second season episode has Donna's sister and her two kids with the same name visit. She dumps them to run off to Las Vegas with Holt.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Cleveland himself, since he got his own show.
- Too Much Information: Cleveland's parents have no problems with describing their sex lives in Cleveland's company..... graphically much to his disgust.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Cleveland Jr. and Cecilia
- Unexplained Recovery: Ernie's pet possum, Princess.
- Also done with Kenny West, who was used sunglasses to cover his free-roaming eye in his first appearance, but miraculously cured in his next.
- Unfortunate Implications: Likely the reason that between this promo and the actual show the last line of the theme song went from "My happy black guy face" to "My happy mustached face"
- Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Cleveland's father being told that Auntie Momma is a man. He didn't take it so well.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Hoo boy, the writers really seem to dig this one.
- Possibly even lampshaded in one episode, with a TV promo for a new FOX sitcom called "The Barf Family".
- Walking Tubetop Scene: Roberta
- Walk Into Camera Obstruction:
- "Buried Pleasure": Kendra body-slams Jane. She falls onto the screen and it cuts to black.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Cleveland has shades of this, but equal emphasis is placed on Cleveland having to let go of the old-fashioned "manly" rules he most likely grew up with. Also with Cleveland with his at-best strained relationship with his father LeVar "Freight Train" Brown.
- Wham Episode: It's revealed that Fat Cleveland Junior is actually a spy who killed the original hyperactive Slim Cleveland Junior, as part of a gambit to assassinate Tim, who's the head of a terrorist sleeper-cell.
- Wham Line: from the hurricane ep, "I don't believe in Jesus" from Cleveland Jr.
- What Does She See in Him?: Cleveland doesn't understand how Junior can get a hot girl like Cecilia as his girlfriend. Many characters call him out on it, especially Cecilia's aunt, and pointed out Roberta is married to him.
- Though after Cleveland saw Cecilia's father's (who looked very similar to Junior), this seemed to explain a lot.
- The Whitest Black Guy: Cleveland is declared "The Whitest Black Man in America" and discovers that he was largely raised by a white woman and undergoes a crisis of racial identity. At one point he tries and fails to act as a parody of black masculinity and Hilarity Ensues; at another he decides to lean in to his new, whiter identity and bursts through the door with two big bags of stuff from Trader Joe's.
- Wholesome Cross Dresser: All over the place. The most notable example being Auntie Mamma, but there's also Freight Train in "Who Done It?" as his alter-ego Jocelyn Elderwood. In addition to that, Freight Train also cross dressed along with Cleveland, Holt, Lester, and Tim as part of a scheme to get back the money Cookie lost to a con-man. It doesn't work, which Cleveland is convinced is due to the fact that they didn't get the operation.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Cleveland. But Donna would smack the white out of a bitch.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Rallo pulls one in "From Bed to Worse", breaking his leg on purpose to keep his mother and Cleveland apart. Leads to a My God, What Have I Done? moment when he realizes his behavior's hurting his mother, too.
- You Must Be This Tall To Ride: Rollo is excited to go to an amusement park because he's finally tall enough to ride on the roller coaster. But when he gets there they measure him not counting his Giant Afro and he's still too short.
- YouTube Poop: The "Frapp Attack" viral video.
- Your Favorite: For Cleveland Slop Poppers (a Hot Pockets Bland-Name Product)