- Alternative Character Interpretation: Is the Boss a complete moron? A competent bureaucrat with a sociopathic streak? An initially decent guy made callous by a career dealing with idiot bosses and cynical employees?
- Archive Panic: The whole archive is online - 21 years of daily strips - That's more than 7300 comic strips. You can find them at 49 strips per page here.
- Bizarro Episode:
- One series of strips involved Dilbert's co-worker growing a beard out of his forehead, which caused him to get promoted to manager. When Alice tried to kill him by pushing him down a flight of stairs, he died, but demons infested his corpse and he came back to life. Alice then tried to stab him to death with Dilbert's pen... at which point the whole arc just kind of ended. Even within the (already strange) confines of the strip, this arc is a whole new level of strange.
- Alice killed the PHB in a different arc, but to fill the power vacuum she ripped another PHB out of a parallel reality to serve as their PHB. Also classifies as Status Quo Is God.
- Asok once died, only to be reincarnated as a Snickers bar. Then used his psychic powers to change into a human.
- Dilbert himself once died, only to be cloned from his own trash by Dogbert.
- Then there was the time Scott Adams got transported to the strip itself, which lead to a parody of The Wizard of Oz.
- Ensemble Darkhorse:
- Loud Howard.
Dogbert: A disturbing number of [the readers] have requested the return of Loud Howard. Loud Howard is neither funny nor insightful. He is simply loud. It's a wonder why anyone would want more of this guy.
Loud Howard: THEY LOVE ME!
- It should be noted that after his first (and for the longest time, only) appearance in the strip Loud Howard was made a supporting character in the cartoon (shouting the obvious works a lot better as a gag in animation) in order to expand the cast. Had Adams not done this it is doubtful the masses would've demanded his return to the strip.
- Catbert, notable for being the only character the fans named.
- Techno-Bill, who only appeared in two strips from 1992. Also serves as a walking Unintentional Period Piece.
- Loud Howard.
- Genius Bonus: The fable that the Pointy-Haired Boss relates in this strip is traditionally used to explain the Scrum software development methodology. If you're not familiar with Scrum, the strip is still very funny, but if you are, it's clear that the PHB thinks himself clever for using an analogy that he read somewhere else and probably doesn't understand.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- In this strip. The PHB asks for a phone that's larger then an average cell but smaller then a average tablet. Dilbert acts like it's a stupid idea, yet such a phone is being made.
- While Apple's upcoming 2015 watch may not be able to transmit voices and images, it can still be used for email, contacts, web browsing, etc. In other words, Dogbert's idea for a "Dick Tracy watch" seems a bit obsolete.
- A 1992 strip has Dogbert saying he'd rather run as a Communist than as a Democrat because he wants to have a chance. The Democratic Presidential candidate won that year.
Adams: This comic made sense in 1992. Trust me.
- This 1991 strip lists Donald Trump among the "most feared and hated creature[s] on Earth". The comic gained a whole new meaning once Trump became president of the USA (which resulted in a lot of people expressing fear and/or hatred towards him). For an added bonus, Adams is a Trump supporter.
- Hollywood Homely: Alice; a lot of potshots have been taken at her looks.
- Magnificent Bastard:
- Dogbert. All the time.
- Wally has his moments, as well.
- Memetic Mutation:
- According to Adams, the term "Bungee Boss" has entered the business lexicon for the situation WhenTheNewBossWantsToChangeEverythingButOopsTooLateHe'sReassignedGoodbye.
- Happens rather often. Just read any list of New Century Business Jargon; a lot of it will have come out of Dilbert.
- The term "Pointy-Haired Boss," aside from being a Trope Namer, is almost ubiquitous (as is the derivative "pointy-haired" as a synonym for "stupid").
- On the Internet, Dilbert has become more well-known for a trilogy of incomprehensible animations made by one "cboyardee" (who also made Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, and who eventually deleted all of his videos).
- One-Scene Wonder:
- Loud Howard has been in exactly three strips to date, one of which was Adams Breaking the Fourth Wall to complain that he didn't understand why people were so interested in a one-joke character. He was popular enough with readers that the Animated Adaptation made him a recurring character. Loud Howard also had a whole bunch more jokes in the animated series, most of which wouldn't work in the strip format.
- Techno-Bill has been in two. His inordinate popularity with fans was also noted in the 7th anniversary compilation.
- Squick: Alice says she was running late for work this morning and had to apply her makeup in the car. Dilbert says he had to shave in the car. Wally says that's nothing; he was so late for work that he had to give himself a sponge bath in the car. And he was driving a car pool at the time, so all his passengers saw it. Eww.
- Values Resonance: It's the sort of humor that gets funnier and starts making sense (sometimes a bit too close for comfort) when the reader gets older and enters the workforce; even older strips still feel painfully relevant, proving that mundane and often nonsensical office banality is a long-lasting concept.
The TV series:
- Critical Research Failure:
- In "Y2K", Dilbert's "perpetual calendar program" predicts that June 30, 2014 will be a Thursday. It was actually a Monday.
- During the scene where they mock the theory of evolution (which is arguably a critical research failure in and of itself if they were serious), the writers have the incredibly intelligent character Dogbert use the "evolution is just a theory" misconception in total earnestness, and have Dilbert give a waffling non-answer as if it were a legitimate point.
- Crosses the Line Twice: Alice marries a death-row inmate and immediately stuffs the gag into his mouth herself before he's executed. It's much more horrifying than it sounds.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: One episode satirizes pop psychology. It concludes with Dilbert giving a monologue on how the world is such a shitty place that people who DON'T feel depressed are the ones who are actually mentally ill.
- Harsher in Hindsight: These days someone walking into a government building strapped with dynamite (which they then prepare to light) isn't so funny anymore.
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- Comp-U-Comp's boast — "Have you ever wondered what happens when humans die? I know the answer! All I'm saying is... big surprise!" — as he's challenging a human in the central command room of his totally automated production plant.
- The scenario of a crochety old lady who only owns one share of a failing company rambling about irrelevant things at a stockholders' meeting may sound familiar to fans of a certain other show that came much later. The fact that said old lady is voiced by the same person certainly doesn't help.
- A one-off gag in the Comp-u-Comp episode had Dogbert explain why a machine uprising was inevitable, but he had a plan to save humanity "in the sense that I save stamps or save old bottles." The Mass Effect trilogy would later have it's Big Bad use the exact same argument, but played 100% straight.
- Ho Yay:
- The scene from the merger episode where the process of finding a merging partner is played out like someone looking for a sex partner. Including the part where an executive tells the Pointy-Haired Boss that he wants to merge with him right there in the bar.
- The PHB accuses Dilbert of this after the latter saves his life via CPR. In addition to assuming Dilbert tried to Date Rape him.
- Magnificent Bastard:
- Dogbert, whose "religious belief" is "that everyone exists for the sole purpose of entertaining me." On one episode, he sets up a carnival booth where you "knock a street urchin off a beam with a baseball and win a toy." In another, he convinces Congress to abandon all holidays in favor of National Dogbert Day (The traditional Dogbert Day feast: the bald eagle. He wanted something special) for the sole purpose of being annoying. (The same reason he invented Secretary's Day.)
- The aptly named Bob Bastard, the caped and hooded company tester on a quest to crush the hopes and dreams of engineers.
Dilbert: I'm sorry Alice, but he's the embodiment of all that's horrid and loathsome in this world.
Alice: Just because it's written on a bathroom wall doesn't mean it's true.
Dilbert: He wrote it!
- Nausea Fuel:
Lena: 30 HOURS! 30 HOURS IMMERSED IN WATER!Wally: *cheerfully* I cant feel my legs!
- As mentioned above, this show is very fond of projectile vomiting.
- Baby Wally eating a (literal) mud pie during a flashback in "Elbonian Trip." He also eats mud during their second trip to Elbonia in "Famine", but the Elbonian mud is specifically portrayed as nutritious and edible, so it's not as bad.
- Wally pre-"depruning" in "The Prototype."
- Nightmare Fuel:
- When Loud Howard sneezes, hit the floor. Lest ye have your flesh torn and your body stripped right down to the skeleton.
- It's subtle, but the way that the credits "flicker" with the sound of the inmate being electrocuted.
- Lena and her nasty collection of still-living heads from the men she's decapitated in order to steal their ideas. Not to mention the disturbing cult of personality she creates around herself as part of "Team Lena", which includes denouncing a giant image of Dilbert as "The Enemy", and burning him in effigy like Goldstein from 1984. Wally is part of her team and has become completely brainwashed, referring to his previous life and friends as "the before-time".
- The alien merger shown draining human heads
- In "Merger", Loud Howard is locked up in a soundproof glass case, and left to suffocate.
- The various Body Horror mutations the office staff succumbs to when the building develops Sick Building Syndrome. Among other things, Wally becomes a giant fly with a human head, and Alice somehow gets a cold that mutates so horrifically she gets MS from it.
- Tear Jerker: Dilbert's now-grown Dupey leaving to join the others in exile, even though Dilbert wanted to keep him at home to protect him from mankinds rejection.
Dupey: You have raised me, and I am grateful. But I must be with other Dupeys. Goodbye... *flies away, leaving Dilbert sitting sadly alone in his bedroom*
- It's depressing enough that even Dogbert is moved, asking Ratbert to "never leave". Unfortunately, Ratbert ruins the moment by asking of Dogbert meant literally never leaving this room.