- 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.
- 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.
- Hollywood Homely: Alice; a lot of potshots have been taken at her looks.
- Harsher in Hindsight: The strip began on April 16, 1989. Needless to say, its 18th birthday wasn't a good one, and every other birthday since hasn't been all that great. Fortunately, unlike Garfield, this strip doesn't do formal birthday celebration episodes. And life sucks in this strip's universe, anyway.
- A pilot deliberately crashing his plane in the mountain, anyone? Everyone survived, but that's because the pilot plans on eating the passengers.
- 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.
- 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).
- Most Annoying Sound: The company reduces the volume of tech support calls by replacing their hold music with "the sound that balloons make when you rub them."
Alice: Must ... destroy ... all refrigeration facilities ... on Earth.
- Wally chews crushed ice just to irritate his co-workers.
- 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.
- 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.
- Supposedly Rebellious Series: This argument has been made regarding Dilbert, since Scott Adams is less of a radical than he's sometimes thought to be. Adams himself gave it away in a book title—I'm not Anti-Business, I'm Anti-Idiot. A serious essay in the otherwise humorous book 'The Dilbert Principle', about how he'd run a company if he owned a company, makes it perfectly clear that Scott Adams is not against capitalism and business itself, it is the often inhuman practices associated with them that he wants to satirize. (And if he were really anti-capitalist, how could he justify making money from all his merchandise?)
- Unfortunate Implications: A strip that "aired" a few days after Mother Theresa died that made a joke about dead nuns cushioning falls was poorly received for obvious reasons, even though, like all syndicated strips, it was written months in advance. Scott later admitted it was in poor taste regardless of when it came out.
- One Sunday strip featured a security guard who secretly raided the employees' hidden snack stashes during the night. Whoever did the colors made him black, which lead to people accusing Adams of this (in the anniversary book, he explains the whole thing while wryly observing that they chose a poor time to diversify the cast).
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.
- Gross-Out Show: A less extreme example. Any time there's vomiting on-screen, expect there to be a lot of it, and for it to be of the non-discrete type, and no opportunity to show a character drinking filthy water is wasted. Easily the grossest episode is "Tower Of Babble," complete with rampant, squicky Body Horror.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
Dilbert: I'm sorry Alice, but he's the embodiment of all that's horrid and loathsome in this world.
- The aptly named Bob Bastard, the caped and hooded company tester on a quest to crush the hopes and dreams of engineers.
Alice: Just because it's written on a bathroom wall doesn't mean it's true.
Dilbert: He wrote it!
- Nightmare Fuel: When Loud Howard sneezes, hit the floor. Lest ye have your flesh torn and your body stripped right down to the skeleton.
- Nausea Fuel: As mentioned above, this show is very fond of projectile vomiting.
- Baby Wally eating a (literal) mud pie during a flashback in "Elbonian Trip."
- Wally pre-"depruning" in "The Prototype."
- Too Good to Last
- Ugly Cute: The Dupeys, even after they've grown up past their cute point
- The Woobie: Dilbert in many cases given how he's often trying to remain somewhat optimistic despite the world he lives in. Not to mention the crap he takes from virtually everyone, including his own mother.