The Cleveland Show is a Family GuySpin-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 AgeSimpsons), 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.
In one episode, Rallo mentions that instead of using a rap song Murray wrote for them, they should have used a song written by his friend's uncle, T-Pain (who voices one of Rallo's friends, in one of the few times T-Pain isn't autotuned).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..."
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 BryanCranston rather than Seth MacFarlane — and, on one occasion, Tom Kenny).
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".
Crowd Song: "Small Ass Town (Big Ass Hearts)" from the episode, "The Blue, The Gray, and The Brown".
The Danza: Arianna Huffington as Arianna the Bear.
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.
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.
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 Meg, though unlike Meg, Roberta is considered pretty and popular in school, and she has a boyfriend (and, unlike Hayley on American Dad, 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 Meg'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The third season premiere has a couple examples. When Cleveland visits the Griffin house, Stewie asks if his show had been cancelled. In the end, after stopping the rednecks, Peter pointed out that they would've showed the rape on his show and then did a song about it. Cleveland adds that in that case he would've "just been the black guy."
In one episode Cleveland goes into the basement and finds the writers and animators working on that very show. In a nod to the Daffy Duck cartoon "Duck Amuck", one animator briefly gives Cleveland a tail. Amusingly, an animated Mike Henry can be seen in the background recording the very lines Cleveland's currently speaking.
In one episode Lester asks Cleveland if he ever felt the world would be better off without him. Cut to a parody of the Opening credits with Quagmire singing in Cleveland's place "My name is Quag-Mir-Er/I go gig-it-tee"
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.
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.
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.
Still in full force by the end of season 2. You could make the argument that Meg or Hayley have more screentime in half a season than Roberta has had throughout the entire series so far.
Lampshaded again at the end of "Ain't Nothin' But Mutton Bustin". After the plot, which revolved mainly around Rallo and Junior going missing, is resolved, and Cleveland remarks how glad he is that all of his kids are home, Roberta walks in for her first appearance all episode.
Cleveland: Oh yeah, I have three kids...
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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 Line: from the hurricane ep, "I don't believe in Jesus" from Cleveland Jr.
Though after Cleveland saw Cecilia's father's (who looked very similar to Junior), this seemed to explain a lot.
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.
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.