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  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects:
    • The aerial shots of the Monaco Grand Prix racers in "Jeu Monégasque".
    • The helicopter in "Heart of Archness, Part III".
    • Pretty much every vehicle. That's especially visible in chase sequences, e.g in the drift racing episode.
  • Aborted Arc:
    • When Barry took over the KGB in season 3 he said he has a plan in store. Whatever these plans are they haven't materialized and Barry has since been outed as head.
    • Who Archer's father is was a major plot arc, with four major character possibilities and a fifth myseterious figure who showed up in Archer's memories. Then Jakov was killed and shortly after that the entire arc was aborted. According to crew interviews this is because Adam Reed felt the audience wasn't interested in getting an answer to who Archer's father is.
  • Abusive Parents: Malory Archer.
    • She wasn't even in Archer's life except for the occasional telegram until he was 5 years old. While raising him, she got him drunk at age eight, taught him how to gamble, and stole his most prized possessions (which she'd just given him) so she could blame him to teach him a lesson.
      Malory: I don't care if he's happy!
      Trexler: Well, that's obvious.
    • As of Season 2, she's become an abusive grandmother.
      Malory: A-wassat? That's a bumblebee! You wanna pretty bumblebee? There you go! [tosses the plush away so the Wee Baby Seamus starts crying] Aww, what's the matter, what happened? Did somebody trick you, hmmm? See? That's how the world works, dear, and I'm the only one you can trust.
      Lana: Wow. A ton of stuff just started making sense.
    • And as of Season 6, she's even worse with AJ, to the point that she'll literally withhold bottled breastmilk because she's convinced she's "too fat".
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • Archer called Cheryl "Carol" so many times that she legally changed it just so he would be right. This led to a Running Gag in the first four episodes where she would change her name every episode until the writers presumably got tired of it. For a while, the joke was that she had changed it so many times she forgot what it was, and now it's back to Archer calling her "Carol" instead of "Cheryl".
    • "Stage Two" reveals Archer had a one-night stand with a nurse named Rita, whom he couldn't stop calling Peggy.
    • In "Sitting":
      Cyril: When we got shut down, that guy...
      Ray: Kevin! ...Kyle? Keith- Kenny! Was it Kiran?
      Archer: Rodney?!
      Ray: Rodney! Why was I thinking Kevin?
  • Achievements in Ignorance:
    • Cheryl/Carol, during an exchange in "Once Bitten":
      Malory: Lana, this is a Central Asian, male-dominated, xenophobic puppet state whose dictator changed the words for bread and Friday to his dog's name.
      Cheryl: Gerpgork.
      Malory: Yes, gerpgo— did you know that?
      Cheryl: Oh my god, how did I know that?
    • And again when Cheryl delivers a devastating "Reason You Suck" Speech to Lana in the same episode when Lana complains to Pam and Cheryl that the mission involves blowing up a pipeline:
      Lana: Why not? Why won't you guys stand up to Malory with me about blowing up the pipeline?
      Pam: Mmmmmm.... cos we don't give a shit?
      Lana: About the Earth?
      Cheryl: Please! If you really cared, you'd resign. But there's no way you ever will because you're just counting the days until — her face bloated and yellow from liver failure — she calls you to her deathbed and, in a croaky whisper, explains that Mr. Archer is totally incompetent, and that you, the long-suffering Lana Kane, are the only one qualified to run ISIS, and you weep shameful tears because you know this terrible place is the only true love you will ever know.
      Lana: ...excuse me...
      Pam: DAAAAMN!
      Cheryl: What? [beat] Oh my god, was I talking?!
  • Action Girl:
    • Lana is a female field agent for an espionage organization.
    • Malory, based on various flashbacks and the fact that she was able to shoot her son six times in the torso with what was revealed the next season to be a .44 magnum. She expresses pride that all six shots were grouped "in the '10 ring'."
    • Pam pulls a little Suddenly Always Knew That on this trope, suddenly revealing that she's an underground bare-knuckle boxer who can snap a man's neck and take a punch like a champ. She's even got the third stanza of "The Destruction of Sennacherib" tattooed on her back under 13 tally marks. Oh, and she drift-races against the Yakuza. She has, on several occasions ("Un Chien Tangerine", "Sea Tunt", "A Kiss While Dying") beaten up other ISIS members. She uses her underground fighting experience to prove that she's qualified to be a field agent.
    • Katya Kazanova, a female KGB agent.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Very blatant in "Fugue and Rifts." The episode opens with an amnesiac Archer living the life of Bob Belcher from Bob's Burgers (complete with Archer-ized versions of the entire Belcher family). Both Archer and Bob are voiced by H. Jon Benjamin. John Roberts even has a cameo voicing Linda.
    • In "The Papal Chase", Archer mentions that he prepared for a mission to save the Pope by watching episodes of Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil, which features H. Jon Benjamin as the voice of one member of a group of secret agent-like clergy workers (as well as the Devil himself).
    • Captain Murphy gets crushed to death by a Goz brand soda machine, the last name of his late voice actor from Sealab 2021, Harry Goz, whose character once spent in-episode months trapped by a fallen soda machine.
      • More of a Creator Allusion, but there are a few more allusions to Sealab 2021, including a character opening up his own chest to show that he's a cyborg and space station having problems in Pod 6.
    • A possible one when Archer says to Malory, "Wow you just don't get along with your neighbors anywhere." Jessica Walter, who voices Malory, plays Lucille Bluth on Arrested Development. Lucille is known for never getting along with her neighbor, Lucille Austero.
    • Gary Cole playing someone heavily involved in the law and much of his second appearance involving him spouting off legal regulations.
    • Matthew Rhys's character conceals his identity by wearing a wig and glasses.
    • The whole Archer, P.I. parody can be seen as one for Jessica Walter, given that she appeared in a two-part crossover between Magnum, P.I. and Murder, She Wrote.
    • Jeffrey Tambor as the head of ODIN, who's in a somewhat tumultuous romance with Jessica Walter's Malory. The two voice actors had a similar dynamic in Arrested Development. His character is also the potential father of Jessica Walter's character's son, similar to Tambor's other character on Arrested Development, Oscar Bluth.
    • Malory, voiced by Jessica Walter, is a wealthy, hard-drinking, Jerkass mother with a long sexual past and a codependent son, very similar to her character in Arrested Development.
    • Malory also (incorrectly) claims that a husband and wife can't be made to testify against each other in court, which was part of the plot of the first episode of Arrested Development
    • Although differently crazy between series, Judy Greer is a crazy Plucky Office Girl in Arrested Development and plays a similar role as Cheryl in this series.
    • When Archer is identified as a fake homosexual by Charles, he is dressed very similarly to a gay prostitute who is always getting caught by the police on Reno 911!, in which Thomas Lennon (who voices Charles) stars.
    • Turns out Burt Reynolds is every bit as much a crazy badass in real life as the characters he plays.
    • At the start of Season 4, Malory marries car dealership owner Ron Cadillac. He is voiced by Ron Leibman, Walter's real life husband.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • In "Double Trouble".
      Archer: Katya does not have VD!
      Malory: You haven't had sex with her?
      Archer: [sarcastically] Ha-ha, for your...heh, that was pretty good.
    • Archer again in "The Limited":
      Lana: In what way? In what possible way did that work?
      Archer: Well, uh, A) they're all incapacitated. And B) I got to blow up a train!
      Lana: Well thanks, Gomez.
      Archer: Nice.
    • Pam does it to herself, oddly enough, in "A Going Concern". Freshly returned from a Noodle Incident that got her deported from Jamaica, she spends the episode immersing herself in Rasta culture. When Archer tries and fails to think of a clever insult, she sportingly supplies one, chuckling at it as Archer walks away.
      Archer: God, would you give it a rest, uh...damn, I had something for this.
      Pam: Blob Marley. [beat] Heh.
    • She's on the receiving end of it again in Space Race, when her and Archer are arguing:
      Archer: I'm sorry.
      Pam: For what? Space-blastering me in the frickin tits?! Or tricking me into that fart-locker to get blasted into outer goddamn space on the off chance you might wanna bang me!
      Archer: Both I guess, look —
      Pam: After you blew me off for Katya the big-titted cyborg! Little miss, uh...
      Archer: R2-double-D2?
      Pam: Nice.
  • Adam Westing:
    • Burt Reynolds playing an exaggerated badass version of himself played completely for laughs.
    • Kenny Loggins plays an arrogant Jerkass version of himself, in the middle of re-branding, and refers to himself as "K-Log".
    • Christian Slater plays a creepy mysterious guy, designed to look like him, named Slater. No first name given. Its unclear whether he's supposed to BE Christian Slater in universe, since, despite looking, sounding and sharing a surname with him, he works as an arms dealer/CIA agent and given Sterling's extensive knowledge of 80's pop culture, he would probably recognize him.
    • TV's Michael Gray in season 6.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal:
    • In the pilot, Crenshaw/Kremenski's speech in the training exercise refers to Archer as being "known from Berlin to Bangkok as the world's most dangerous spy."
    • In "Tragical History", Malory has to remind Archer that "most secret agents don't go around telling every harlot from here to Hanoi that they are secret agents!"
  • Adventures in Comaland:
    • Archer gets a snakebite in "Once Bitten" and his Spirit Advisor cut-rate James Mason takes him through traumatic memories to a (possible) repressed memory of the identity of his father. He can't recall it once he wakes up, though.
    • This becomes the show's entire premise from Seasons 8-10, after Archer is shot Season 7's finale. The three seasons, Dreamland, Danger Island, and 1999, all take place in Archer's head, with the cast transplanted into all new roles and adventures.
  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • Archer sets a speed record with this in "Space Race Part 2." He learns an important lesson about it not always being about him at the end, and refuses to engage in a one-on-one fight with Barry...only to turn right around and demand that he is allowed to land the shuttle. He lampshades this himself by using it as a reason he should be "rewarded" at the end.
    • Archer doesn't change his attitude to Woodhouse because he gets knocked out immediately after learning his lesson.
  • Affably Evil:
    • The pair of Camp Gay assassins from "Honeypot". Outside of when they're trying to kill Archer and Ramon, they're pretty cool dudes. They even let Woodhouse keep the expensive clothes they bought for him.
      Oh, we're a hit squad. Forgot to tell you.
    • Conway Stern, right up until the moment he stabs Archer in the back and steals the plans.
    • Rona Thorne turns out to be a Soviet sleeper agent, but never stops being genuinely nice to Lana.
    • Roman Calzado, the Villain of the Week of "El Contador".
  • Affectionate Parody: "Live and Let Dine" contains Anthony Bourdain As Himself in a TV reality show called "Bastard Chef".
  • AI Is A Crap Shoot: Subverted:
    Krieger: Because the worm has transformed the mainframe into a sentient being.
    Malory: ...What?
    Krieger: I'm kidding. It has a backup power source.
  • All Germans Are Nazis:
    • Subverted with Kraus, who is immediately made the Red Herring of a bomb plot. Turns out he isn't responsible for the bomb, and he actually got his scar saving a Jewish girl from a bunch of skinheads.
    • It turns out that Dr. Krieger's parents were Nazis, and he might be one of The Boys from Brazil. He somehow acquired armor from the Kriegsmarine cruiser Admiral Graf Spee, to guard his laboratory at ISIS.
      • In "Southbound and Down," Doctor Krieger uses Ray's bionics to force him to goosestep and give the fascist salute for over two hours while Wagner blares in the background. When Ray protests that it's no longer funny, the doctor replies, "It's not supposed to be funny."
      • In Dreamland, everybody refers to him as an (ex)Nazi scientist, which he protests. Double Subverted when flashbacks show he was a Nazi scientist after all, but then triple subverted when it turns out he's actually a Jewish scientist who faked his own death and was specifically sabotaging his own project to waste money that could have otherwise been spent on bullets, bombs, and worse
  • Alliterative Name: Pam Poovey, Katya Kazanova, Brett Bunson, and Rip Riley.
  • All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles: When the FBI arrests Krieger in "White Elephant", the manga his artificial girlfriend is reading seems to feature these on the cover. And then there's Krieger's movie nights featuring such classics as Fisherman's Wife and Fisherman's Wife II: The Retentacling. It also apparently has a manga series that seems to be popular with other members of the ISIS staff.
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: Conway Stern sports an Ashkenazi last name, despite the fact that he's black. It's later revealed that his identity is just a cover, but his last line in "Three to Tango" reveals that he lied and his name really is Conway Stern.
  • All Just a Dream: Teased at the end of season 5 (which was a whole season of Something Completely Different) as a gag, but then swiftly subverted.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Cyril is a sex addict, Ray is a gay dude into fetish night, Archer is a manwhore, and into something much darker.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Lana is a Dominatrix into porn; Cheryl is a masochist who gets off on pain, asphyxiation, and death; Malory tries to seduce any man that takes her fancy and is not shy about her activities; Pam is right into any action that might be happening, and that's just the main cast.
  • Alternate History: The Soviet Union still exists.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: One two episode story arc involved Archer getting breast cancer. Men getting breast cancer does happen.
  • Always Wanted to Say That
    Archer: I have waited my entire life to say this exact phrase: I am commandeering this airboat!
  • Amazonian Beauty:
    • Pam gets a few comments on her physique after her coke habit burns off the fat.
    • Lana qualifies too, if not to the extent of cocaine Pam. She is stated to be beautiful, tall, and is visibly fit and even muscular to some extent.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Archer's eccentric tendencies, such as memorizing incredibly obscure information about seemingly random subjects, imply high functioning autism. It's never stated for certain, though Lana does discuss it in "Coyote Lovely."
    • The same episode shows obsessively sorting rocks by size and color (though that's Archer's sarcastic dig on Lana), not to mention calling out his ability to keep track of how many rounds have been fired at any given time (including his knowledge of each weapon and how many rounds it holds to begin with).
    • Archer himself admits he's probably autistic after he realizes that some of his abilities (instantly converting measurements, counting bullets, etc) is something most people can't do.
  • Ambiguous Syntax:
    • In "Legs", Archer is terrified of Krieger giving Ray bionic legs calling the operation "building a gay Terminator". Cyril is confused by what Archer meant.
      Cyril: Does he mean a terminator of gays? I mean I know Krieger is weird, but he isn't homophobic. So he must mean...but that can't be right either, aren't Terminators asexual?
    • Lampshaded by Archer in "Live and Let Dine":
      Lance Casteau: Food!? We're not making food, people! We're creating cuisine! "Food" is what a dog eats or a tourist!
      Archer: Wait, a dog ate a tourist? [Lance throws a vegetable at him] WHAT? That was ambiguously worded!
    • In the same episode:
      Archer: "Child-Murderer" shouldn't be hyphenated. That makes it seem like he's a murderer who is also a child.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: 1960s decor, 1970s cars, and early 1980s computers alongside modern cell phones, the Internet, and a veritable tidal wave of modern pop-culture references. The Soviet Union apparently still exists, which makes this outright Alternate History, although Leningrad is referred to as St. Petersburg, the Lubyanka has its post-1983 symmetrical façade, the world map behind Malory's desk indicates that Russia and the former Republics are all independent (including Turkmenistan, which is apparently led by an alternate version of its current leader), and Germany is apparently reunified. Archer's age during known historical events is inconsistent. When Woodhouse's flashbacks show him serving in the war, it's explicitly World War I while Mallory and Ron both served in World War II, yet are nowhere near as old as they would be in the present day. To make it even further baffling, Archer has flashbacks to his teen years, wherein everyone is dressed out of the 1920s, even though a flashback to his birth showed it to be in early-World War II-era Morocco. All of this makes the time period ambiguous.
    Malory: What year do you think this is?
    Archer: I, uh—yeah, exactly. Good question.
    • Season 6 opens with Archer encountering an elderly Japanese soldier who still believes that World War 2 is going on. While Archer explains that the war has been over, for several years, it's never specified just how long it's been over, or how long he has been out here.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Woodhouse and his commanding officer during World War 1, Reggie are hinted to be rather fond of each other. As with all things in the series, it's Played for Laughs.
  • Amnesiac Resonance: In "Fugue and Riffs", Archer has amnesia, and thinks his name is Bob and runs a burger shop. He's able to kill four KGB hitmen while unarmed, then, after being found by ISIS at a spa, he remembers what a Tec-9 is (and wonders how he knew that), and has several flashes of his memories.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Conway Stern loses his left hand in "Diversity Hire" (although it has gotten a robotic replacement as of "Legs") and his right hand in "Three to Tango".
    • Ray's hand is bitten off by a Venus flytrap-like plant in "Pocket Listing".
  • Amusing Injuries: Variously deconstructed and Reconstruction; though the injuries are almost always initially Played for Laughs, several times characters have had to seek advanced medical attention afterwards:
    • Both Archer and Lana have ruptured eardrums from gunfire. Lana needs to go to a hearing specialist, and Archer's tinnitus is a running gag.
    • Ray needs a CAT scan after a Tap on the Head from Archer leaves him unconscious for over an hour.
    • Barry suffers increasingly severe injuries from the Running Gag of Archer dropping him off of tall buildings, intentionally or not, eventually culminating in needing to be rebuilt as a cyborg.
    • For Butt-Monkey Brett, this is a Running Gag. He becomes increasingly decrepit from the gruesome injuries he receives off-camera until the episode "White Elephant", in which Brett is shot in the head during an FBI raid.
    • During the two-part season 3 finale, Archer shoots both Cyril and Pam with the space gun's ion pulse, which can stop someone's heart. He shoots Cyril for his own amusement and Pam to keep her quiet.
      Archer: So..."stun" may be a bit of a misnomer.
    • Largely played straight with the series' king of amusing injuries, Archer himself. He says it best in Season 4's "The Honeymooners":
      Archer: Since I started working at ISIS, I've been shot, stabbed, set on fire, poisoned, shot, sexually assaulted, partially chewed, shot, and declared legally dead. Twice on the same day!
      Lana: You said shot, like, three times.
      Archer: That's just by you! Total, it's more like...holy shit, nineteen!
    • Archer updates the "getting shot" total to twenty-six in Season 5's "A Debt of Honor". And wonders if he might actually be in danger from lead poisoning from having so many bullets spend time in his body.
  • An Aesop: Parodied at the end of several episodes, where Archer says "I'm sure there's a lesson somewhere in here" only to get immediately distracted by something else.
  • And Starring: Jessica Walter.
  • And Zoidberg
    Archer: Yeah, listen—doctor—I'm kinda making peace with my loved ones right some other people.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: Lana was part of one that threw buckets of red paint on anyone wearing fur while screaming "fur is murder". When she threatened to do this to Mallory, she pulled a gun and dare Lana to do it, offering her a job when she didn't back down.
  • Animated Shock Comedy: Zig-zagged. The show is primarily a black and blue comedy, with its dialogue and content sometimes bordering on softcore to medium-core porn, and its dark comedy often being darker than the usual adherents to this trope, though it also averts Stylistic Suck through use of its photorealistic animation, deep characterization, and writing style that rewards consistent listening. Season 8 becomes more of a Dramedy than the previous seasons.
  • Animation Bump: The animation took a noticeable step up. Noticeable in Season 6 where Archer and Lana are shown passionately kissing in a sequence that uses a lot of frames.
  • Answer Cut: Played with on a regular basis: often, a character will ask a question, whereupon there will be a cut to another character in an entirely different situation saying something that appears to answer the first character's question.
  • Anticlimax: Season 7 featured a season long mystery surrounding Veronica Deane. A secret so important that characters are willing to commit murder to keep it from being revealed. It turns out just to be an insurance scam and a sex tape.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Kremenski in the pilot seems to be generally all right when not working for the KGB. He thinks everyone should be nicer to Pam and even he is shocked by how messed up Archer is before being shot dead.
    • Barry Dylan after becoming a cyborg. Considering the way Archer (among others) treated him, it's hard to blame him for going a bit nuts.
    • Cecil Tunt and Captain Murphy in "Sea Tunt". The latter threatens to bomb the East Coast, but it's all a bluff, and he doesn't even pretend to be a bad guy anymore after this is revealed. The former plans to get Cheryl declared insane so he can get at her half of the inheritance, but since Cheryl is pretty clearly insane he comes across more as an Only Sane Man than anything.
      • Cecil also wanted Cheryl's half of the inheritance to fund philanthropic activities (which he's already spent his half on).
    • Lenn Traxler, who is only a villain by virtue of being head of a rival agency. In fact, he could be considered an outright Hero Antagonist, as he's generally nicer and more competent than most ISIS employees.
  • Anything That Moves: Krieger, who at one point even exclaims he's glad to have an erection that doesn't involve homeless people. Even noted by other characters when he's chopping up a body:
    Malory: And is Krieger hard at work?
    Archer: He literally might be, yes.
    Lana: Ew.
  • Arc Number: 934TXS, which is a Mythology Gag to its frequent use as an access code in Sea Lab 2021.
  • Argentina Is Nazi-Land: Dr. Krieger's parents are from Brazil, and are Nazis. He does not hide this well.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • During the "modified Ludovico" treatment, among the words displayed in quick succession are "war", "famine", "dead puppy", and "old people".
    • In an early episode, Archer is being shot at but isn't sure who it is, because he has a lot of enemies, including the KGB, the Stasi, Shining Path, and "this guy I know named Popeye," who turns out to be a loan sharking pimp and not Popeye Doyle.
    • At the end of "The Limited", Archer is arrested for attempted murder and illegally importing an exotic animal into Canada. He calls the arresting RCMP officer "Dudley Douchebag", who replies:
      Plus you already used that one.
  • The Artifact: Archer's codename, "Duchess." Barely mentioned at all past the first episode. Mainly because Archer is just so much of a catchier name and no one else has a code name.
    • Also because Archer himself hates his code name and being an Overt Operative, everyone including his adversaries already know his real name. It's eventually revealed that the reason why he hates the name so much is because "Duchess" was the name of his mother's dog, whom she seemed to love more than him during his childhood (one season 5 flashback even shows she took the time the celebrate her dog's birthday, despite barely ever being around for Archer's).
  • Art Shift: In "Reignition Sequence", Cheryl outlines her plan to break up Archer and Lana via flipbook, which is shown in a very cartoony style (ie. Archer looks like he stepped out of a Jay Ward cartoon, Ray is missing half an arm and has completely mechanical legs, Pam's shown with the dolphin hand puppet she never uses anymore...)
  • Ascended Extra: As of Season 4, Cyril and Pam have been promoted to occasional field agents to allow involvement outside the B-Plots.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Archer delivers one to Lana Season 11’s finale, after Lana blames him for ruining the discipline and efficiency that the Agency had built up over the three years that he was in a coma.
    Archer: Did you people ever consider you need me around because you want the excuse to be your worst selves?!
    Lana: Holy shit.
  • Art Evolution: The art style becomes sleeker and more detailed as the show goes on. Cheryl's face in particular looks quite different when viewed from the front in later seasons compared to the first couple.
  • Artificial Gravity: Aboard the space station Horizon.
  • Artistic License – Awards: In "The Double Deuce", Woodhouse is revealed to have served in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War as a Lance-Corporal, acting as a batman to his squadron's commanding officer Captain Thistileton (with whom he may or may not have had a Single-Target Sexuality). He is stated to have received the Victoria Cross for rushing into No Man's Land to rescue said CO when he gets shot down in Bloody April, then attacking a German position and killing 50 German soldiers in an Unstoppable Rage when Thistleton is killed by a sniper. His gravestone in a later episode states in addition to the VC, he also received the Distinguished Conduct Cross, the Military Cross and Companion of the Distinguished Service Order. Before the review in 1993, the Military Cross could only be awarded to officers and the Military Medal was awarded to Other Ranks (Warrant Ranks could potentially receive either), while the Distinguished Conduct Cross was likewise only available to officers until 1993 and was only available to Royal Navy officers until 1940, when eligibility was extended to non-naval officers serving aboard Navy vessels. The Distinguished Service Order was and remains available to officers-only and has never been awarded to non-commissioned personnel, and is generally issued to a Major or higher unless a more junior officer just missed out on the Victoria Cross. It is unclear if this is a retcon of his military service, as he would not have been awarded four medals for the same act.
  • Artistic License – Cars:
    • Though the rendering of vehicles is quite accurate, for some reason all the GM G-series and Volkswagen Type 2 vans have Ford Econoline front ends (later version for the G-series, earlier snub-nosed versions for the Volkswagens). There's also the 1970 Dodge Challenger spy car Archer receives for his birthday, which has very BMW-style gauges.
    • Though there is no problem with their modelling, New York buses are Czechoslovakian 1966 Korosas and the taxis are 1962 Mercedes 300 SE (W112), rather than GM or Flxible New Looks, or the ubiquitous Checker A11; 1970 GAZ 24 sedans also turn up once or twice in New York, all of which count as Improbably Cool Cars (sort of).
    • The 1973 Chevy Bel Air station wagon in "Coyote Lovely." With the hood open, it appears to have strut towers and something resembling the LT1 350 with home plate delete from the '90s Caprice, and the trim is Impala but the grille is from a Caprice.
    • In "Jeu Monegasque", a Fiat 500 can be seen with its hood open at the end of a road. An engine is visible, whereas the Fiat 500 was (until its reintroduction in 2007) rear-engined.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry:
    • Dry ice is nowhere near as deadly as "Pipeline Fever" depicts it to be when Lana reaches into Archer's cooler. Also, keeping in mind that dry ice solidifies at minus 78 degrees Celsius, all the beer (and the one water bottle) in the cooler should have been frozen solid.
    • From "The Kanes": Algae can't be turned into a biofuel, at least without expending large amounts of another fuel source in the conversion process. Which means it's probably a good thing the CIA is suppressing Dr. Kane's research and paying him a massive amount to remain quiet. Though he could be oversimplifying for Archer and Lana, as engineering unicellular organism to produce fuel as a metabolic endpoint is something being researched in real life.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: In "Un Chien Tangerine", Archer gives Lana a concussion. In the next scene she complains that she can't go to sleep because of the very common misconception that you will die if you go to sleep with a concussion. Sleep is actually the best possible treatment for a concussion, as sleeping is how the body heals itself.
  • Artistic License – Military: Nikolai Jackov is constantly stated to be a Major-General, yet his uniform has the insignia of a Lieutenant-General in the Soviet Army (two stars, which indicates a Major-General in Western militaries). Lana later refers to him as "the major" in one episode.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: The show juxtaposes its realistic art style against its often ridiculous dialogue.
  • As Himself: Burt Reynolds and Kenny Loggins.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Played straight and subverted in "Heart of Archness":
    Rip Riley: Archer! What a coincidence, 'cause I was just talking about you.
    Archer: With who? 'Cause that bucktoothed little shit doesn't even speak English.
    Bucky: I do, rittle bit.
    Archer: No you don't!
    Bucky: And correct syntax is "with whom"!
  • Aside Glance:
    • Archer does this occasionally, but often it's so subtle you don't notice it.
    • In the 2015 San Diego Comic Con short, Pam shills out all the stuff that will be featured at Comic Con, such as the Ant-Man movie. Archer scoffs at Marvel running out of ideas, but Pam says how it stars Judy Greer. She then turns directly to the camera and calmly mentions how she would be very grateful to star alongside Judy Greer in a movie.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Frequently. Sterling himself can count as a non-lethal version of this as well—the man gets shot and stabbed and beaten and tortured and cancer and generally abused a lot, but he's such a Jerkass you just don't feel bad for it. Usually, he has it coming.
    • Barry Dillon. Now referred to as 'Bionic Barry' after a particularly grievous accident.
    • Franny Delaney and the rest of the Irish Mob members killed by Archer during the episode "Placebo Effect."
  • Ass Shove: In an interrogation in "Placebo Effect," Archer inserts a grenade into the rectum of a mook, and opines "The mark-II [fragmentation grenade] has kind of nubbily ridges, do you feel those? Different circumstances [it] might actually feel good."
  • As You Know: The season three opener starts with a short video of Archer's career, consisting of clips from the series to that point and ends with the reveal that he is missing. The scene pans out to Malory's office, where she adds "For three months!" to Lana, Pam and Cyril, who already knew he had been missing. Naturally, this was done for the audience's benefit.
  • A-Team Firing:
    • Frequently done and lampshaded as it happens, such as the KGB pelting Archer and Barry with machine gun fire in "White Nights" and missing every single shot. Also in "Double Trouble" where Archer, Katya, Malory, Lana, Cyril and Ray have a full standing blast-out until everyone is out of ammo and nobody gets hit.
    • Lana in training, according to Luke Troy in "The Wind Cries Mary." To make matters worse, she only ever carries two magazines with her.
    • Cyril's go-to combat maneuver is to shout "SUPRESSING FIRE!" and empty his gun in the general direction of where he thinks bad guys might possibly be, generally with his eyes closed. This works about as well as you'd expect.
    • Other times it's completely averted, especially with Archer, Lana, and particularly Malory, who will quickly and casually take down multiple targets with precision shots. One episode has Malory bragging about shooting Archer with a very tight grouping of her bullets.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • Familial version at the end of Season One with Sterling and his mother, though she had just shot him six times in the torso.
    • Archer admitting that Lana is his only friend may count.
    • Archer risking his life to save Lana at the end of Season 4.
    • Archer genuinely distraught by Pam's apparent death from taking a bullet for him.
    • Archer shows that he really does love Lana in Season 6.
    • In season 7, The entire ISIS crew (even Malory) start a fight when a client insults Pam.

  • Back for the Dead: Jakov in "Crossing Over".
  • Backseat Driver:
    • Cyril in "Training Day":
      Archer: I'm doing all kinds of stuff, Cyril! I'm shooting the gun, see? I'm driving the car...
      Cyril: I could drive better than that!
      Archer: So knock yourself out, I'm ejecting.
    • Pam and Lana as well in "The Papal Chase," though in their defense Archer was talking to the Pope instead of driving.
  • The Backwards Я: In "Fugue and Riffs", Archer (as Bob) deduces the assassins sent after him are Russian because of "that crazy backwards R" on their clothing tags.
  • Badass on Paper: If you look at ISIS' track record in general - and Archer's accomplishments specifically - on paper, they seem quite competent, despite screwing up almost every mission in some way.
    • "Mole Hunt": Archer uncovers and eliminates a KGB mole. He found the mole by accident, then was taken prisoner. He was only saved by Lana investigating a break-in, then caused his mother to be taken hostage and only saved her and killed the mole by disgusting him by getting an erection at the thought of Malory's death.
    • "Diversity Hire": Archer and Lana recover blueprints to a submarine drive and uncover and cripple a double agent. Archer is almost killed by a Cuban hit squad, rescued and then literally stabbed in the back by the double agent. Lana saves him and the plans at the last minute by firing a spear into the briefcase, ripping off the double agent's hand.
    • "Honeypot": Archer eliminates a threat from an enemy spy. He fails miserably at seducing the target and is made almost immediately, is wounded by the target, is attacked by a hit squad and is only saved after bonding with the target, who destroys the tape and gives up Malory's South Beach condo because he bonded with Archer and must go into hiding.
    • "Skorpio": Archer and Lana kill an arms dealer and destroy his latest shipment. They're both made immediately and forced into a three-way with their target, are almost killed in a firefight and nearly die when Archer blows up the shipment and Skorpio's yacht.
    • "Skytanic": Archer and Lana stop a bomb threat. The bomb threat they responded to was a hoax by Malory. The bomb they find was a coincidence, the bomber gets away due to Archer confusing helium with hydrogen, Archer fumbles the disarming procedure and causes the timer to speed up, and Lana and Cyril wind up pushing the bomb overboard, detonating over Wales.
    • "Job Offer": Embarrassed a rival agency that tried to steal their two best agents. Malory sends out a burn notice on Sterling while drunk on absinthe, causing him to be targeted by ODIN and is only saved when Lana black flags the burn notice as a False Flag Operation against ISIS.
    • "Pipeline Fever": Stops an eco-terrorist from destroying a pipeline. Archer destroys their sole mode of transport and most of their equipment. The bomber reveals he went to university with Lana and decided not to destroy the pipeline.
    • "Jeu Monégasque": Stops a blackmailer and recover stolen bearer bonds. Malory stole the ISIS 401k accounts to use as payment, which Archer loses in baccarat, forcing them to steal it back and cause the thief to crash into the blackmailer's helicopter by accident, killing both. Meanwhile at HQ, Cyril and the rest are forced to fence their equipment, but failed to confirm how they'll get the money.
    • "The Limited": Transports a terrorist into RCMP custody and captures his cohorts. Cyril lets the terrorist escape, Archer sets off a grenade when confronted by real Mounties, just barely recaptures the terrorist and gets banned for life from entering Canada.
    • "The Honeymooners": Stops a North Korean attempt to purchase weapons-grade enriched uranium. Archer and Lana get captured and only escape when Cyril provides a distraction that allows Lana and Archer to kill everyone. Also, it turns out Krieger was the seller, and his "weapons-grade enriched uranium" was implied to be the droppings of his radioactive pet pig.
    • "The Papal Chase": Stops an assassination attempt on the Pope. Pam nearly kills the Pope by dropping a mirror on him, the team is almost killed by Camorra gunmen posing as Swiss Guard, who crash chasing them and are revealed to have been a False Flag Operation by a cardinal, who hired ISIS because they would screw up.
    • "The Archer Sanction": Extra-judicially kills a Professional Killer. They caused three Interpol agents to be killed because Archer barely skimmed the mission dossier, then causes an avalanche after the assassin is revealed. They Never Found the Body and just assume him dead.
    • It's because of this that Agent Slater must be convinced to keep them on as a CIA subcontractor in the season six opener and by "Drastic Voyage", Agent Holly is done with their shit, giving them an ultimatum that their current mission will be their final chance, with success being rewarded by $1 million each and failure or refusal being punished with permanent dismantling and individual blacklisting from espionage for life. They fail the mission.
  • Bad Boss: Malory. The list of grievances from her employees is pretty long, but the most egregious offense has got to be her cold-blooded murder of the entire team of cleaning ladies in an elevator "accident" when they threatened to unionize for better working conditions. This seems to be a family trait, as Archer treats Woodhouse like garbage and thought he was a slave until the season 2 finale. She has also tricked the main cast into cleaning up her murdering somebody.
  • Bad Liar: Basically everyone, which is astonishing considering that they work in espionage. Archer in particular, due to his fondness for improvisation over planning, frequently tries to come up with cover stories on the fly. If more than one person is on the spot at the same time then odds are they will end up telling conflicting lies, and possibly even argue with each other in front of whoever is questioning them!
  • Bad News, Irrelevant News: Done at the start of the episode "Bel Panto, Part 2".
    Sterling: So, good news and bad news. The bad news is the doors and windows are hermetically sealed, there's six gunmen out there whose leader is insane, a jumpy SWAT team dying to go on full Attica, and a room full of hostages - one of whom - which shouldn't surprise me, but yet somehow does, has couraphilia.
    Veronica: Cou-what?
    Sterling: Couraphilia. Apparently it's a sexual attraction to clowns. Good news is I got you the last slice of pepperoni mushroom.
    Veronica: That's... the good news?
    Sterling: I mean... relatively.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Malory in "Training Day":
      Pam: You are a biiiiiitch!
      Malory: I am not! Why, because I don't want Sterling to end up with a woman like Lana Kane? My God, a black... ops field agent?
      Pam: Thought she was going in a whole other direction with that.
    • Pam in "Space Race Part 2":
      Malory: We can't fight them off!
      Pam: That's just what Dad said when the bank man came out to foreclose on the farm, and guess how that turned out.
      Malory: You murdered a banker?!
      Pam: No, we got a loan modification. Think a bank wants to own a failing dairy farm, with obsolete milkers?
    • Malory gets another one in "The Limited" when she refers to the Pullman train porter as "George,"note  only for it to turn out the porter's name actually is George. Subverted, though, as Malory is as surprised as anyone by this.
    • Malory again in "The Papal Chase" when she is assigning an undercover job at Vatican City. Notably, there's a Cardinal on a video call with them, to boot:
      Lana: ...I assume you're not sending Ray.
      Malory: To the Vatican? You think all those Catholic priests wouldn't peg him? [coughs] American? With that hillbilly accent?
    • In "Drastic Voyage: Part II" we find out Cheryl has smuggled a pair of very sharp knitting needles onto the sub for no explicable reason other than to trick the audience into thinking they're going to poke out someone's eyes. After several close calls, she just stabs Ray in the leg with them after he's already been crippled.
    • Again the the "Drastic Voyage" arc, Ray is very unhappy about losing a hand and having it replaced with Conway Stern's robot hand thinking he's a freak, everyone assumed he was unhappy that he has a black hand but he's really unhappy that it's a robotic hand, he later apologizes to Lana for the misunderstanding.
  • Bald of Awesome: Conway Stern seems to be this, until he reveals that he's a Double Agent and therefore actually Bald of Evil.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Lana's plan to get back at Cyril for cheating on her. She offers the men at the office to pay to pretend they had sex with her and tell Cyril the nastiest thing they can think of. When Pam points out that the men may demand refunds if one of the men points out that they didn't have sex with Lana nor did anyone else, Lana replies that it's not a problem because nobody would dare be the first one to admit he didn't have sex.
    • Early in season two Trinette shows up with a baby she claims is Archer's, and Barry forces him to undergo a paternity test, free of charge. Barry tells Archer where and how the blood sample will be stored, knowing Archer will either switch or get caught and possibly killed trying. Archer is caught on camera switching the sample, but Barry deletes the footage, since Archer unknowingly switched his sample with the real father, Cyril. Archer also waives all rights to contest the results, and Barry even tells him he couldn't admit to tampering with the sample.
    • Late into season 3, Malory has spent decades having sex with Italian Prime Minister Mascalzone and wounds herself after murdering Mascalzone mid-freaky-sex. After calling Archer and Lana over, they're too disgusted by the context of the murder to closely examine anything, and help cover it up with Krieger; combined with her wound and the ISIS staff giving her an alibi for the officer she tipped herself anonymously, she then makes her guests leave with a piece of the victim each.
    • Cyril proves to be a Batman Gambit savant, pulling several successful examples in "El Contador."
  • Beef Bandage: Conway provides Cyril with one from Cheryl's endless gifts of unrefrigerated meat and/or seafood.
  • Been There, Shaped History:
  • Beleaguered Assistant:
    • Archer's butler Woodhouse takes all kinds of scorn and verbal abuse from his employer.
      Archer: [about Woodhouse] Look, he's sitting at the table! He thinks he's people!
    • When Archer becomes the Pirate King, Noah the "first mate" becomes this.
    • Carol/Cheryl has shades of this with Malory, before the reveals that Carol/Cheryl is both rich and sexually enjoys emotional abuse.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Archer and Lana. Lampshaded by the rest of the group as they escape Pirate Island.
    Noah: Oh. My. God. Just screw already!
    Bucky: Seriously.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Archer tends to have a minor freakout every time someone so much as hints at his mother having sex.
    • He also tends to have a random one per episode.
      Assassin: "Hand over the girl, cochino!
      Archer: "And that is just it for today, with people calling me a freaking pig! [Lights assassin on fire] ...Holy shit, did you see that?"
    • Whenever Lana is injured, Archer explodes.
    • Trinette takes Archer's wallet, watch and car when he flat out calls her a heroin addict.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved:
    • Malory's relationship with her late dog Duchess is given a creepy vibe with a photo of them both that parodies the famous portrait of a naked John Lennon curled around Yoko Ono.
    • This is also hinted at with Pam, when she attributes some of her sexual skills to having grown up on a farm.
    Archer Oh my God, where did you learn that?
    Pam You know I grew up on a farm, right?
    Archer Really hoping that's not relevant right now.
    • Krieger is implied to have had sex with Piggley 3. When scanning her with a geiger counter, he concludes that the radiation would explain the glowing, and then when he scans his genitals, comments "among other things."
      • Although, if you look at the x-rays on the screen behind him, you see one of the rear half of a pig, and one of a human lower torso with a dark rectangle inside the pelvis.
    • Pam tranquilizes Ray and Cyril and uses the two to film porn in the men's bathroom. When they wake up, Cyril jumps to the conclusion that Ray did this, but then both notice the tranq dart in each other's neck. They then notice the live octopus in the toilet, and are immediately grossed out.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Between Archer and Ramon in "Archer Vice: A Kiss While Dying".
  • Big Eater: Pam always mentions wanting some kind of food.
    Pam: [standing over two burning bodies] Is it weird that I'm kind of hungry now?
    Malory: It would be weirder if you weren't.
    • She even eats herself into anaphylactic shock, claiming she's "a consenting adult" when someone tries to stop her from eating food she's seriously allergic to.
  • Big "NO!":
    • End of Season 2, when Barry and Katya land on Krieger's beloved van.
    • In Season 4's "The Wind Cries Mary," Archer's reaction to Lucas' Death Bed Confession about what he did to Archer while the latter was unconscious after a party.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Cyril has a big dick, which he seems to dislike, and actually tries to get ISIS to pay to have it shortened.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Ramon Limon's end of some phone conversations in "Honeypot." His responses imply that his mother is bugging him about why he doesn't have a girlfriend...
    • Framboise means raspberry in French.
    • "Drift Problem" features some Japanese from the yakuza. Pam thought their nickname for her meant "the White Shadow," but they reveal that it means "the White Pumpkin."
    • Pam typically brings a liquor called Schützenmeister, which is German for Archer, to ISIS funerals.
    • Most of the bits of Italian throughout "Lo Scandalo" are pretty banal ("Are you ready?" "Yes, my dear, I'm so ready!") right up until Malory spits on Mascalzoni and calls him a "fucking fascist".
    • "Mascalzone", by the way, means "scoundrel" or "criminal" in Italian.
    • In "Coyote Lovely", a Mexican criminal mutters something in Spanish under her breath. The translation: "Wait, I had something for this!"
    • Sato's conversation with his estranged wife from "The Holdout" is in perfect Japanese and is completely gut-wrenching:
    Hatsumi: Hello?
    Sato: Hatsumi? Hatsumi Sato?
    Hatsumi: Yes.
    Sato: (choking up) Hatsumi ... it's Kentaro.
    Hatsumi: (sobs) Kentaro...!
    Sato: (begins weeping) Hatsumi...I'm sorry...I'm sorry...
    • "Melawan raja" actually means "challenging the king" in various South-East Asian languages, including Filipino, Indonesian and Malay.
  • Black Comedy:
    • One memorable example:
      Archer: Well it's the Pope's fault she won't let me wear a condom.
      Malory: Why don't you wear a vasectomy?
      Archer: This again? Don't you want a grandkid?
      Malory: Well, if I did, I'd just scrape all your previous mishaps into a big pile and knit a onesie for it.
      Archer: ...Jesus Christ.
    • At Trinette's baby shower, Cheryl's present is a box of plastic laundry bags and a book about SIDS.
    • "I liked him better when he had cancer."
    • When Malory remembers having to pay the funeral expenses for the Pygmies who chopped down the super-rare tree to make their conference table:
      Malory: I bet that sneaky chief just pocketed the money and stuck them all in one medium-sized hole.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: Cheryl keeps a pet ocelot named Babou in very poor, miserable conditions, in an empty room in her family mansion. Archer refers to the ocelot's room as "Meowschwitz".
  • Black Comedy Rape:
    • In "Blood Test" Cyril, hopped up on heroin, brained with an absinthe bottle and passed out from having a liter of his blood drained, is raped first by Pam and then Ray, both of whom are a little bit drunk at the time. Lampshaded by Pam, who mentions that "Things are about to get weird."
    • In "The Wind Cries Mary," Lucas Troy's final breath is confessing that one night when Archer was passed out, he took some suntan oil, turned on some Al Green and... well, you can figure out the rest.
    • In "Viscous Coupling" Pam films an unconscious Ray and Cyril in a bathroom stall, with an octopus. Given that a running gag in the episode is a tentacle rape manga by the name "The Fisherman's Wife", it's obvious what went down.
    • In "Pocket Listing" Cheryl makes an off handed remark that her grandfather frequently used the secret passages in the Tunt Mansion to check her and the other children while they slept, strongly suggesting that he molested her when she was a girl.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama:
    • Lana and Archer's on-again off-again relationship. Even when they're apart, Archer always hits on her.
    • Lana also dated Cyril for a while, was the only female staff member to mistrust Conway Stern while the others were attracted to him, she dated a white environmental extremist when she was in college, and is into interracial porn. She seems to have a thing for white guys.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Katya Kasanova does this to Lana in "Double Trouble."
    • In "Coyote Lovely" Archer uses a powerful sniper rifle to destroy the enemy's truck engine. One by one the enemies brandish weapons; Archer shoots them out of their hands, even the knives, despite the latter not being a serious threat to a heavily armed party.
      Archer: I can do this all day!
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Pam (blonde), Lana (brunette), and Cheryl (auburn/redhead).
  • Bond One-Liner:
    • Generally subverted by Archer, who constantly flubs his one-liners or has to explain them to the others because they don't get his references.
      Archer: Damn, I... had something for this, too... um... damn it. Eat grenade, stupids!
    • Played straight with Conway Stern, who annoys Archer and Lana by always having the right one-liner (except at the end of Operation Frodo, because he doesn't know anything about The Lord of the Rings).
      Lana: Shit, I had something for this!
      Conway: Was it something like..."You won't get off the hook that easy?"
      Lana: Dammit!
      Archer: Yeah, he's good at those.
  • Born Lucky: A huge Berserk Button for Ray is the fact that Archer is very much this.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Referenced by Pam in "El Secuestro," but ultimately averted. After showing the kidnappers where the building was, one asks if he could shoot her. Pam asks him how they expect to get past the biometric security, unless they were to cut out her eyes and chop off her fingers, then tells them not to be dicks and takes them to the ISIS offices.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: In "Three to Tango", both Cyril and Lana borrow Ray's indignant "You know..."
    • Others, including Ray and Lana, have borrowed Archer's "I had something for this."
    • Archer borrows Cyril's mid-coital "Hellooo" when Malory walks in on him with Katya.
  • Bottle Episode: "Lo Scandalo," which takes place entirely in Malory's apartment, and "Vision Quest", which takes place in the office building elevator.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Scrupulously averted, and often lampshaded in the process:
    • Archer himself has a rather special talent for knowing the ammo capacity of most guns being fired, how many shots have been fired from said weapons, and therefore the number of rounds everyone has left. Even in a firefight involving a dozen people.
    • Played for Laughs when Archer and Katya attempt a Blast Out and everyone runs out of bullets within about 10 seconds.
    • The Cuban gay spy calls out Archer on doing this in the final Blast Out, but does the same thing not five seconds later to Archer's amusement.
    • During the "Heart of Archness" special, Archer fires one round from Rip's Colt 1911 (7 round capacity), then empties the rest of the magazine a few minutes later, crowing "All six in the ten ring!"
    • In "Midnight Ron": "You already saw me shoot those mobsters! It has a finite capacity, it's not a phaser!"
    • Lucas Troy in "The Wind Cries Mary" reminds Lana how they called her Spray and Pray in training, but that he always found it odd she only ever carried two magazines.
    • Lana's correct deduction that Malory was lying about her involvement in the shooting death of Savio Mascalzoni was based on the limited magazine capacity of her Walther PPK.
  • Brain Bleach:
    • Archer needs some after he has to reach into his mother's desk and shut off her vibrator.
      Archer: Oh god, there's not enough liquor and therapy in the world to undo that.
    • Archer, Lana, and Cyril all need it after Lucas Troy confesses to having raped Archer while Archer was unconscious after a party.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Archer's three main fears are alligators, crocodiles and brain aneurysms. And his fourth is the Bermuda Triangle.
  • Breaking In Old Habits: When Malory makes a crack about Lana having "robot hands," Krieger just happens to be standing around the corner with a pair of the things perfectly matching Lana's real hands. The first function he chooses to show off is "Jazz hands!".
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • During the car chase in "The Man from Jupiter," the Cuban assassins' vans fly off the road into the water in two identical (save for the vehicles) sequences. Archer notices this, somehow.
      "Wait, was that the same footage?"
    • Cheryl can hear the soundtrack music in "Sea Tunt, Part I." ("Just ignore it, it's non-diegetic!")
    • Archer does it again in Danger Island, Pam correctly identifies Archer Airways' current dilemma (they need money to repair their seaplane, but need the seaplane to make money) as a Catch-22 Dilemma, but Archer tells her "that's not a thing yet"; the novel from which the dilemma gets its name was published in 1961, with the setting of the novel itself being based in the Italian Front during World War II, and Danger Island takes place in the Pacific Ocean just before World War II.
  • Break the Haughty: Happens to Archer quite a bit in Season 7. He gets reduced to a quivering, stuttering mess when he meets his old prep school bully again in "Deadly Prep" and is majorly traumatized after being waterboarded in "Liquid Lunch", an experience he thought would be a piece of cake.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The very first episode opens with a not-so-heinous scene of Archer goofing off in an "Electric Torture by the KGB" training scenario. Late in season two, guess what he's faced with?
      Archer: Kinda wishing I'd paid more attention to my training right now. Which is, uh, pretty rare for me.
    • In "Mole Hunt," Archer sleeps with a flight attendant who later shows up in "Skorpio" giving Lana and Malory a withering look as they are discussing Archer's spanking fetish. Guess what she did with Archer.
    • In "Honeypot", there is a lemur in Archer's apartment, presumably owned by one of the prostitutes in schoolgirl outfits Archer had hired, that later bites one of them on the face. Later in the episode, we discover Woodhouse's "fondness" for a boy who died in the war, Reggie Thistleton. Later, in "Job Offer", we see that Woodhouse has kept the lemur, and named it "Reggie".
    • In "Dial M for Mother," while pushing a stroller through a park, Trinette has a confrontation with the assassin Mannfred at a playground. After Mannfred threatens her with a pistol, Trinette tells him that the baby's father knows Krav Maga, which "Training Day" establishes is used by ISIS agents. In season two's "Blood Test," its revealed that Trinette believes Archer to be the baby's father (it's really Cyril).
    • Calzado in Season Three episode "El Contador" makes mention of "Hunting the Most Dangerous Game". Archer, being Archer, assumes he means jai alai which was last mentioned in the Season One episode "Honeypot" as a most dangerous game.
    • In "A Going Concern," Archer discovers a sex toy in his mother's desk, the color of which he describes as "aubergine." In "Double Trouble", Pam mentions that "nobody cares about your stupid eggplant" when accused of rifling through Malory's desk, and a season later in "Lo Scandalo," before his death in Malory's condo, Savio Mascalozoni apparently inserted a toy into himself in an act that Archer describes as "sodomy by rubber eggplant." The season after that, in "Live and Let Dine," a celebrity chef points out aubergine and eggplant are the same thing.
    • In "Blood Test," Archer, when a litre of blood is taken from him, expresses that he doesn't know how much blood that very common unit of measurement would contain. The brick comes back in Season Four's "Sea Tunt, Part I" when he knows about more obscure units of measurement like the fathom and the league and is able to convert between them mentally on the fly.
    • In "A Debt of Honor," Archer thinks that "Danger Zone" is a country song. In "Baby Shower", Cheryl and Kenny Loggins turn it into one.
    • In "Training Day", Archer gives Cyril his underwear gun with the warning that it could go off "for like, no reason." Four seasons later in the second part of "Palace Intrigue", Archer shoots Cyril to prevent El Presidente's wife from revealing they had slept together.
      Archer: Look at that. The gun went off. For, like, no reason.
    • The ending of "Diversity Hire" had Conway Stern reveal that the name he gave the gang was just an alias. Five seasons later in "Three to Tango" it's revealed that his name actually is Conway Stern.
    • In "Skytanic", Lana angrily remarks that "My vulva is as smooth as a veal cutlet!" when Archer implies otherwise. In Season 5's finale, Cheryl is grossed out at being forced to check Lana's dilation progress, but also comments that she is smooth. Lana happily accepts the compliment.
    • In "Skin Game," the episode where Katya reappears as a cyborg, Archer becomes extremely unnerved by the presence of Katya's new removable vagina in his sink. Then in "Reignition Sequence," Archer and Lana are dating, and the rest of the group call Katya to have sex with Archer so that they will break up. He convinces her to leave, however, just as Lana arrives for their dinner date. For a moment, Archer and Lana have a bit of a fight, and when Archer reassures her that he is a changed man...
      Lana: Then why... is there a vagina... in the SINK?!
    • In the same episode, it's theorised that part of Archer's aversion to cyborgs and robots stems from his experimentation with a vacuum cleaner as a sex toy, with a flashback showing the moment it all went horribly wrong for a young Sterling. In the Season 4 episode Legs, we see the aftermath in a separate flashback, in which Woodhouse nonchalantly shoves the vacuum into a closet while a doctor examines the injured Archer.
    • In "Blood Test," Lana declares the last person on Earth she would have a baby with is Archer. Come "Arrival-Departure" three seasons later, guess who Lana reveals the sperm donor was...
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Everyone except Malory and Lana in "Lo Scandalo" when they're pretending to be New York yuppies having a dinner party.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: One instance is a decoy containing a single muffin. It's a bit of wordplay used to lampshade that the contents of the briefcase are a MacGuffin.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: When recounting her experience with a waterboarding training exercise that Archer completely blew off we get this brief exchange
    Lana: I remember exactly where I was. I was strapped to a board and so convinced that I was drowning that I shit my sweatpants."
    Archer: Wait, not.
    Lana: Yes! Literally!
    • In Dreamland, Cecil Vander Tunt explains he changed clothes because during the drop off, he "evacuated" in the Latin sense.
  • Buffy Speak: Krieger, when describing how he plans on giving Ray bionic legs.
    Krieger: And so a small power unit goes here on your... spiney... thing, which sends electical impulses to your muscles and ligaments and... stuff, which I will fuse to a vanadium alloy endoskeleton, replacing your current, uh, leg... bones.
    Ray: I have to say, it kind of worries me that you don't know the names of the actual bones.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield:
    • In one episode, Archer is teaching Cyril how to act like an agent and shoots cubes of ice at Cyril with a slingshot. Cyril grabs a nearby call girl and pulls her into the line of fire. Archer is delighted, the call girl less so.
    • In a literal example, Archer uses a bulletproof vest-wearing Cheryl as cover during a gunfight, even though he's supposed to be protecting her.
      Archer: Shut up! That vest is bulletproof!
      Cheryl: [relieved] Oh. [gets shot in the arm] Ow!
      Archer: But it is, you know, a vest.
    • In Season 5, Archer uses Woodhouse as a shield against a stressed out Lana, knowing she would shoot whoever first entered the room without looking to see who it was. Considerably less ruthless than most versions of the trope, since it's only a tranquilizer gun.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • Cyril tries to get back at Sterling by revealing that Archer knocked up a hooker who, ironically, was actually carrying Cyril's child.
    • Franny Delaney, leader of The Irish Mob, believes that Archer won't shoot an unarmed, sick man, because of a sense of fair play. Unfortunately for him, Archer is on a "rampage."
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Pretty much everyone in this series. No matter how dysfunctional they are, they all turn out to be good at their jobs, if only when they are given a reason to be.
    • Krieger, despite being insane and not a medical doctor (nor technically any other kind of doctor) manages to perform brain surgery successfully—while high on acid. With a drill. He also, on a shoestring budget, turns Katya into a cyborg rivaling the best that the KGB could offer.
    • At one point someone outright states that Archer is an excellent field agent in spite of being completely clueless at everything else.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker:
    • Krieger uses untraditional methods:
      Pam: And that's why I don't have sex with my coworkers. That, and no one ever lets me.
      Krieger: I've had good results with ether.
    • Pam's line becomes Hilarious In Hindsight in Season 3.
    Cheryl: You can't control a person's heart.
    Krieger: You can with a little something I like to call a deep cycle marine battery...or LSD.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In "Deadly Prep" Archer is hired to kill a man dying from terminal cancer. When Archer arrives at the appointed time, he finds a house full of empty liquor bottles, which Archer figures is reasonable since the man is dying. When it turns out the victim is not a terminal cancer patient after all, Archer says he's just an alcoholic, name-dropping the trope almost word-for-word.
  • But Not Too Black: Lana.
    Archer: You're black...-ish.
    Lana: -Ish?!
    Archer: Well, what's the word for it, Lana? You freaked out when I said "quadroon!".
  • Butterfly of Doom: Archer comes up with his own version of this in "Midnight Ron".
    Archer: Butterfly effect. You know, a butterfly in Africa lands on a giraffe's nose, the giraffe sneezes, that spooks the gazelle, the gazelle bonks into a rhinoceros, and the rhinoceros blindly stampedes into a phone booth, calls New York somehow, and says, "Hey, go kill this idiot Ron for a suitcase", because the rhinoceros speaks English!
  • Butt-Monkey: Pretty much any interaction with Archer is going to end up with someone being this.
    • Poor Pam is probably the straightest example.
    • Brett is probably the biggest example of this, constantly getting shot by Archer, even before ever appearing onscreen in Season 1. ("God DAMN it, Archer!")
      • In "Stage Two", he is given a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Archer for mocking his breast cancer.
      • In "El Secuestro", he takes a bullet in the stomach early on and spends the rest of the episode bleeding there, even getting yelled at for not picking up the ringing phone fast enough.
      • In "Drift Problem", Lana fires a machine gun at Archer's new car to demonstrate that it's bulletproof. Nobody else is hurt, but a ricocheting bullet hits him in the stomach.
      • In "Skin Game," Barry maims him in the elevator and writes "Barry Was Here" in his blood.
      • "Legs" takes this Up to Eleven: When Archer is trying to break into Krieger's lab by shooting at the bulletproof door, the bullet ricochets off the door, then a wall, then a drinking fountain, then Cyril's pocketwatch held just right, then another wall, off a fire extinguisher, down a stairwell, and finally hits Brett a few floors down. Who gets chewed out by Malory for leaving such a large stain.
        Archer: Brett! This may be some kind of record, so if you can move, don't! I gotta go stop him!
      • In Season 5's "Gun Safety Training" promo, a very drunk Archer tosses his gun to some interns, who drop it. Cue Archer saying they should be thankful it didn't go off, at which point (5 seconds after it has come to a stop), it goes off.
      • In "White Elephant", Brett is Killed Off for Real during the FBI's raid on ISIS when he is shot in the forehead trying to talk to Archer.
      Archer: Well, he died doing what he loved. Getting shot.
    • Ray rapidly becomes one in the course of "Heart of Archness", losing one eye and the use of his legs in separate accidents. Most of his coworkers are not very sympathetic. He was faking it.
    • Woodhouse, due to the fact that Archer is even more of an asshole towards him than he is towards everyone else.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": Happens several times, with a character (usually Krieger) being asked about or accused of something, giving a rambling, implausible denial, and finally admitting "Also, yes...". Or (and this is almost exclusively Krieger) "Not anymore...".

  • Call-Back: One of the show's frequent sources of humor:
    • Episode 1, Malory beats Sterling with her wallet, and Sterling responds "What the hell does she keep in that thing, buckles?" Ray echoes the exact same phrase in "Jeu Monégasque."
    • In "Pipeline Fever," Lana remarks how she became an ISIS agent and ends with "Three weeks later, I was in Tunisia killing a man." Three episodes later in "Movie Star," Malory talks about her becoming an agent and ends with the same line.
    • In "El Contador," Archer quickly but incorrectly guesses that "the most dangerous game" is jai alai, calling back to his injury playing the sport in "Honeypot."
      • From the ending of the same episode, Malory asks whether they'd gotten a receipt for delivering Calzado to the DEA, indirectly referencing Archer's trouble with the bearer-bonds in "Jeu Monégasque."
      • The same episode has a Call-Back to Archer's spiritual predecessor, Frisky Dingo when Calzado's response to being shot is "What the hell, damn guy?"
    • Cyril's enthusiasm with his rifle in "Space Race" is called back in "The Honeymooners". "SUPPRESSING FIRE!!!...extinguisher."
    • "Sea Tunt: Part I" calls back "Skytanic" with "Oh my God, there is no bomb!"
    • When Archer knocks out Rip Riley in "Heart of Archness Part III":
      Lana: Wha? What the hell happened to him?
      Noah: He—
      Archer: Who knows? Maybe he had a brain aneurysm.
      Noah: No! He—
      Archer: It's the silent killer, Noah!
    • In the first episode, Archer is in bed with a paddle and a stewardess with a paddle-shaped welt on her buttock. In Ep 6, Malory on a plane with Lana confides some doubts about Archer's upbringing, Lana replies "That would explain the paddles," and the stewardess serving her champagne pointedly glares in her face. In a Season 3 episode, in a flashback Malory asks Archer what happened to the bike he got for his birthday and walks in with a paddle in hand.
    • Ramon, Charles, and Rudi, who first appeared in "Honeypot," come back four seasons later in "A Kiss While Dying" and make mention of Archer's exploits in the former episode.
    • In the season 3 episode "Lo Scandalo," Archer questions his mother about her irrational hatred of the Irish (because they were not among the Allies during the Second World War) and he momentarily hesitates when he comes to the conclusion that the Irish were Nazis, only to be told that they were neutral. In the season 6 episode "The Archer Sanction," Archer, who only skimmed the mission dossier, could only recall that their target was from a former Axis power. Turns out, he mistook Ireland as that former Axis power because the target's name was McCarran, and to top it off, McCarran is Scottish-Canadian!
    • Getting punched in the gut to induce vomiting (from Season 1) gets a callback in Season 8.
  • The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House: Played for laughs in the episode "El Secuestro," Pam gets kidnapped in place of Cheryl, and the kidnappers, with a voice modulator, contact ISIS to discuss the ransom. Later on, Cyril kidnaps Cheryl in order to get her to repay her debt to him, and stuffs her in a random room at ISIS. He then contacts Mallory from his own office, again with a voice modulator, demanding the rather specific amount of $3,200. Mallory freaks out that the caller is calling from ISIS.
  • The Cameo: The "Sea Tunt" two-parter contains Eugene Mirman as Cecil and Kristen Schaal as Tiffy; Mirman and Schaal also co-star with Benjamin in Bob's Burgers as Gene and Louise. Jon Hamm appears at the end of part one as Captain Murphy.
  • Camp Gay:
    • Played with in the episode where Archer has to pretend to be gay to seduce a gay spy. Being the idiot he is, he dresses up ridiculously campy (bleached hair, lollipop, roller skates, hot pants, and a too-tight t-shirt that reads "GOT DICK?"), and gets mocked by two real gay guys... who are still campy, though not so outrageously. The spy he's trying to seduce, meanwhile, is completely Straight Gay.
    "Oh my God, you, like, sneeze glitter!"
    • Gillette. Which doesn't stop him from being one of the more competent characters. However, he's still willing to sleep with Lana because, as he puts it, "Nobody's that gay." Also increasingly becoming an Informed Attribute, however; though originally introduced as a true Camp Gay in a standalone gag, in later appearances he's referred to as mincing or prancing even though he's not depicted as actually behaving that way to any significant degree. In "Bloody Ferlin," all he really has to do to pass as straight is to don a plaid flannel shirt and a baseball cap—his mannerisms and vocal inflections don't actually change a whit.
  • Canis Major: Kazak, an English Mastiff who hates guns.
  • Can't Bathe Without a Weapon: Lampshaded in "Jeu Monégasque":
    Archer: "...My gun's all soapy. Pretty dumb, taking a bath with it..."
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin':
    • Archer at the very end of "Swiss Miss". He is accused (wrongfully) of molesting and propositioning a 16-year-old Anka throughout the entire episode. Not two seconds after he has to cup Anka's breasts to prevent nerve damage (a legitimate reason)note , Lana shows up. Made even better due to Archer having looked around numerous times immediately before Lana's appearance.
    • In "Reignition Sequence", Archer asks Katya (who only met with him thanks to the gang trying to sabotage Archer and Lana's relationship) to leave him, even though he is still attracted to her, so he can pursue a legitimate relationship with Lana. However, Lana finds signs that Katya was in the apartment and assumes Archer has been cheating on her.
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: Played straight to dispose of a dead hooker, and referenced a lot also. Defied by Malory when she doesn't want to use one of her expensive rugs to remove a body from her apartment.
    Woodhouse: I shall fetch a rug!
  • Cast Full of Crazy: Just about the entire top tier of ISIS personnel is borderline insane, and in Kreiger's case, almost certainly well past it. Him aside, almost all of them are sociopathic hedonists who seem incapable of thinking of anything other than drink or sex long enough to actually accomplish their missions.
  • Casting Gag: Lana is voiced by comedian Aisha Taylor. In season eight, the Dreamland version of Lana attempts standup comedy and is simply dreadful (highlights include a half-hour set on syphilis).
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Adam Reed shows always use this trope. Of specific highlight is Lana's (knockoff) Fiacci underwear, discussed during gunfights and bomb defusals.
  • Catchphrase: There's a lot of overlap with Running Gag, but phrases that are specific to individual characters that crop up in at least a few different episodes include:
    • Lana's "Yyyyyup!" or "Nooooope!"
      • Also, "Really?" whenever something vaguely racist is said.
      • "ARCHER!'
    • Archer's "Danger zone!" said to Lana.
      • "Lana? Lana?! LANAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA?!"
      • "Phrasing!" to point out In-Universe Accidental Innuendo. Adding "boom" is optional.
      • "Do you not?"
      • "What the shit, [whoever's just pissed him off]?!"
      • "Wait, I had something for this..."
    • Ray has "Dukes!" and "Double dukes!" and "Triple dukes!"
      • "You know..."
    • Pam: "Holy shitsnacks!"
      • "Hostile work enviroment!"
      • "Inappropriate" or "Inappropes" whenever someone tells an inappropriate joke and no one laughs or they react negatively.
    • Barry: "Later, Tater."
    • Cyril: "SUPPRESSING FIRE!!!"
      • "Jeezy Petes!"
      • "Just jackin' it..."
      • "Hellooo," after being disturbed during sex.
    • Cheryl/Carol: "You're not my supervisor!"
      • "Jesus!"
    • Malory: "If X does/doesn't happen, I will literally die."
      • "Zip it!"
    • Krieger: "Also, yes."
    • "Yep, yep, yep!"
      • "YOU MANIACS!"
    • Brett: "God-DAMNIT Archer!"
  • Caught with Your Pants Down:
    • Archer walks in on his mother during a very important call in the first episode.
    • Barry catches Archer doing Framboise, his fiancée, in his new office at ODIN.
    • Archer catches Barry doing Katya, his fiancée, during their fight at ISIS.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Archer is a huge fan of Lucy, the Daughter of the Devil. He probably didn't notice how he sounded just like Satan.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Much of Archer's dick like behavior stems from him being bullied mercilessly in prep school by two seniors. Cyril comes to this conclusion as the reason why he acts the way he does towards him in "Deadly Prep."
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Dreamland, to an extent. Although still largely comedic, it's closer to a Dramedy than the pure comedy of the previous seasons, with lengthy scenes that are entirely serious. The humor itself also amps up the Black Comedy.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: In the big fight at the end of "Double Indecency" Pam picks up a chair with the intent of being this, only to be tackled, losing her grip. The chair hits Archer, then two mooks break two more chairs over his back.
    Archer: What is this, a chair factory?
  • Character Blog: Sterling Archer's Twitter feed, Dr. Algernop Krieger's Twitter feed, and Pam's Twitter feed.
  • Character Development: Ironically, post-coma Archer has become even more adjusted, responsible and focused than his teammates, who eventually regress to the worst of each other and have the audacity to blame him for it throughout season 8. And he’s still being Archer.
  • Character Focus: The first half of Season 5 has a huge focus on Pam, to the point where Cyril, Malory, and Cheryl don't even show up for a few episodes.
  • Characterization Marches On: The characters in the first season, and the pilot episode especially, act pretty differently. Archer is much more pointlessly rude and hyper-sexual to everyone around him, Lana has practically no indoor voice and is constantly pointing guns at people, and Cheryl and Pam act like normal people.
    • The fact that Pam is Human Resources manager is completely abandoned after season 1. In fact the entire cast basically becomes trained agents offscreen to handwave excuses to keep them included in episodes.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Archer gives a gun, branded "Chekhov", to Cyril, along with a poison pen, and adds that the gun occasionally goes off unexpectedly and the pen's cap tends to slip off for no reason. Later on...nothing happens with the Chekhov gun, but the pen is responsible for poisoning a hooker (which was deliberately set up by Archer to get Cyril into trouble). So let's see, that's lampshading, parody, subversion, discussion, playing it straight, and invoked?
    Archer: God, I SAID the cap slips off the poison pen for no reason, didn't I?!
    Cyril: I know, I know, but I just assumed that if anything bad happened it—it would've been—
    Archer: No, do NOT say "the Chekhov gun", Cyril! THAT, sir, is a facile argument!
    Woodhouse: Also woefully esoteric.
    • Played with in the third season finale. A power loader that looks like it just got off the set of Aliens appears in the background and takes up a shot as if to say "this will be used for a badass fight". To put icing on the cake, Barry (who has gotten the better of Archer every time they meet after being cybernetically enhanced) makes the scene just as Archer is using the lifter for menial work. Then Archer is out of the suit before Barry can fight him and Archer is talked out of having it out with him for pride's sake.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Archer is seen in a flashback playing lacrosse at his boarding school, then uses the same skills to catch and throw back grenades using a fishing net in "Heart of Archness, Part II".
  • Chew Toy: Season Two seems to make Archer himself the constant Chew Toy. Every episode ends with him getting the raw end of the stick. In order: Caught in a compromising position with a topless teenage heiress,(It wasn't what it looked like) being left caring for Cyril's bastard son, being left stranded in a swamp with an injured, pissed off gator while Lana goes to get wined and dined by an eco-terrorist, and getting pistol whipped by Woodhouse, being poisoned by a Russian sleeper agent, being diagnosed, then undiagnosed, then diagnosed, then undiagnosed, then finally diagnosed with cancer, bonding with a fellow elderly cancer patient who ends up dying due to a fake cancer medicine scam by the Irish mob, and then his fiancée (whom he actually seems to genuinely care for, for once) dies protecting him.
  • Child Hater: Cheryl, particularly in "Blood Test".
    Cheryl: Because babies are soft-skulled, fat little germ-sacks and now we've all been exposed to that one's bacteria!
    Cheryl: Sometimes I think, y'know, I'd like to adopt a little baby? So I could abandon it at a mall.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Archer is NOT one of these, except when it comes to Anka. Despite her being from a place where the age of consent is 14, he steadfastly refuses to touch her since she's only 17. Not that it helps.
  • Chubby Chaser: Pam is targeted by a Chubby Chaser in one episode, much to Malory's disgust, as Malory was trying to seduce the man for her own agenda. Somehow, by the end of the episode, all three end up in bed together.
  • Clip Show: Played with in the first episode of season 5. The last few minutes of it are a series of clips from subsequent episodes, effectively being a cross between this trope and a sneak preview.
  • Clothing Damage: Goes way over the top in "Space Race"; after Lana strips off for a Show Some Leg guard-distraction, Archer rips up her clothes, and subsequent events force her to stay in nothing but panties and nipple stickers for most of the episode. To add to the insult, people keep commenting about her boobs' "journey south"... It happens again when Archer takes her shirt and tears it up to make fuses for Molotov cocktails and takes her bikini top to use as a slingshot (which instead immediately catches fire) and Archer once again covers her up with stickers.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Cheryl, who keeps changing her name, stands out even amongst this group. Dr. Krieger also surges into this trope as the series progresses. Not surprisingly, they start dating, however briefly.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Cheryl often has moments of disturbing insight, correctly guessing at important information that she couldn't have known otherwise, such as realizing that the Krieger that followed them out of San Marcos was likely a clone, and not the original Krieger. She also points out that Lana has a lot of similarities to Malory, and due to her competence and lack of other viable career options, Lana is the most likely to succeed Malory as the head of ISIS, whether Lana wants to or not.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: No one is averse to cursing, but when Lana accidentally grabs some dry ice, she responds with a full 8 seconds of cursing. Malory does this to Ray, Cyril, and Lana at the beginning of Season 3 when they fail to locate Sterling. And it happens again in Season 4 when Cheryl tells Archer that "they changed" the "magic word," causing him to cuss her out for 4 seconds.
    Archer: Cheryl you stupid *Sound-Effect Bleep*
    Cheryl: Hmph... lucky guess.
  • Comically Inept Healing: Occasional.
    • "Once Bitten" has Archer countering a snake bite by drinking heavily, which Cyril strongly warns against. Archer also demands someone suck out the venom, which, location aside, Cyril points out will do nothing at best because the venom has already left the bite area.
    • In "Sea Tunt, Part I", Pam suffers an allergic reaction and goes into anaphylactic shock; Archer tries to give an emergency tracheotomy with a switchblade "sterilized" in a partially drank glass of whiskey and a used silly straw. He's quickly shot down.
  • Comically Missing the Point: So often and by so many characters that it may as well count as a Running Gag.
  • Complexity Addiction: The CIA in general and Slater in particular seem to suffer from this, making plans that are way more complicated than they need to be.
  • Composite Character: The president of Turkmenistan is explicitly identified as the current leader Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, but with several of the Bunny-Ears Lawyer traits of his predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov, who was head of state from 1985 to 2006.
  • Compromising Call: A ridiculous number of ISIS' undercover agents have had their covers blown because Sterling Archer got drunk and happened to call them while they were on a mission.
  • Connect the Deaths: Krieger's plan for Disposing of a Body is for the ISIS agents to drop the dissected body parts in various trashcans around the city "which should form the shape of a smiley face." One-off gag, his own Ax-Crazy sense of humour, or brilliant ruse to convince the cops it's the work of a playful serial killer?
  • Continuity Cameo: Mr. Ford from Frisky Dingo shows up in "Drift Problem", "Legs" and "Reignition Sequence", Simone, also from Frisky Dingo, shows up in "Nellis", and Captain Murphy from Sealab2021 shows up in "Sea Tunt".
  • Continuity Cavalcade: "White Elephant" sees ISIS busted by the FBI, and everyone except Archer & Lana spilling the beans about every single mission thus far, acknowledging that when you put it all together, it doesn't sound great.
    Ray: Ms. Archer had an affair with the head of the KGB for, like, 30 years.
    Cheryl: Yeah, until he got blown up! ...Which was actually my fault.
    Cyril: Because she was busy having choke-sex with a murderous cyborg, who then became the new head of the KGB.
    Krieger: Until I built a sexier one out of illegal Soviet parts... and a corpse.
    Pam: There was no shortage of dead bodies around ISIS.
    Ray: One of which belonged to the prime minister of goddamn Italy.
    Cyril: Oh, Jesus, I forgot about the-
    Cheryl: -giant pot farm in West Virginia.
    Pam: ...and this whole other thing with the Yakuza.
    Ray: Irish Mob.
    Cheryl: Piracy.
    Cyril: White slavery.
    Pam: No, actual piracy. With, like, boats.
    Cheryl: I want to say... Burt Reynolds?
    Cyril: -poaching alligators-
    Ray: -smuggling Mexicans-
    Krieger: -defiling a corpse-
    Cyril: -defiling a different corpse-
    Pam: -kidnapping the Pope-
    Cheryl: (laughing) faking my own kidnapping! ...Arson.
    Pam: Bumfights! You know, like when you pay bums to-
    Cyril: -destroy an oil pipeline in...
    Cheryl: I wanna say Burt Reynolds!
    Cyril: ...Turkmenistan?
    Krieger: Odessa. You know, the ratlines?
    Cheryl: Where you make it look like a murder-suicide, but-
    Krieger: Is it murder if they were my own clones? I'm seriously asking.
  • Continuity Nod: Tons.
    • Uta wearing a t-shirt with the Excelsior's insignia
    • Scatterbrain Jane having breast cancer
    • Archer's "Seamus" and "Dicky" tattoos on his back make additional appearances in "Jeu Monégasque", the "Heart of Archness" arc, "Fugue and Riffs" and "The Papal Chase".
    • The clothes Charles and Rudi bought Woodhouse in "Honeypot" show up in "Stage Two."
    • The very first episode begins with Archer cracking jokes during a torture session, which is quickly revealed to be a training simulation. In "White Nights," Archer finds himself in almost the exact same situation, and admits that he probably should've taken training more seriously.
    • In "Skytanic", Archer lampshades the fact that Lana shoots him in the exact same spot as she did in "Skytanic". These scars are then later seen in "Dial M for Mother" when he is strapped to an operating table.
    • When Ray is shown shirtless in "El Contador," he has a scar on his stomach from when he got shot in "Heart of Archness Pt. III."
    • Malory finds the whole office talking in the bathroom and tells Pam that she's not even supposed to be in there. In an earlier episode it's revealed that the office staff hid the existence of the women's bathroom from Pam. Once Pam found out, Malory still forbade her from using it.
    • In "Legs," we see a flashback of Krieger giving Conway Stern a new hand, to replace the one Lana yanked off in "Diversity Hire."
    • In "Legs," we get a flashback of a young Archer being looked over by a doctor after damaging his testicles. When the doctor asks what happened, we see Woodhouse calmly pushing the vacuum cleaner from "Skin Game" out of the way.
    • In "Lo Scandalo" Cyril complains that they have to get rid of a body every single time they go to Malory's house, Malory retorts that it's only been twice ("Killing Utne").
    • In "The Holdout", when Cheryl and Pam re-do the office exactly how it was before, they even recreate Brett's bloodstain from "White Elephant".
    • In Vision Quest," Archer tells everyone that he should be the one handling the rations because he has had experience with rationing in shipwrecked (or plane-wrecked) conditions, even if he did eat all the rations at the time while the other guy was sleeping. This is a reference to the season 3 episode "Heart of Archness Part I" in which he and Rip Riley crash-land into the ocean and are stranded on a lifeboat and in which he indeed ate almost all the rations while Rip was asleep. In the same episode, it's mentioned the non-field agent ISIS workers left when it was shut down by the FBI in "White Elephant".
    • In "Sitting", not only do the gang reference Brett's death, but also explain what happened to Rodney after the offices shut down.
    • In the background of a shot in "Nellis", a pinball machine advertising Rona Thorne's movie, Disavowed, can be seen.
    • Bryan, the most frequently appearing ISIS drone with the handlebar moustache appears after the drones leave the company in the background of a shot in "Reignition Sequence", walking past the ISIS headquarters.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Lampshaded in "Dial M for Mother" when Manfred and Uta capture Archer.
    Manfred: "What's remarkable is that we just ran into him. This city is huge.
  • Cool Airship: Despite Archer's constant, irritating, and fundamentally mistaken screeching that the Excelsior will blow up like the Hindenburg, the sumptuously luxurious rigid airship is enviably cool to just about everyone else—to the point that several ISIS employees stow away on board.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Lana's method of punishing Cyril for lying to her in the second episode.
    Lana: So, what you're gonna do is go to our video store [with the sweet old Korean lady], and rent the nastiest, barebackinest, hard-dickenist, ball-slappiest interracial porno in there!
  • Cool Car:
    • Archer gets a heavily-modified, high-performance 1970 Dodge Challenger, which is a direct nod to Bond's various vehicles. Of course, he doesn't get to keep it.
    • His previous car, also a (mostly) stock 1970 Dodge Challenger, is shown to have an Ejection Seat in its first appearance in the second episode.
    • In one episode he borrows Lana's father's car, a 1968 Ford Mustang GT similar to the one used in Bullitt. He then takes it on a car chase after CIA agents, nearly identical to the car chase in Bullitt, and continuously chides the agents for shooting up such an iconic car.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: Invoked at the end of the third season, when Barry offers Archer the chance to pilot an Aliens-style Mini-Mecha against him to even the playing field, as Barry is a superhuman cyborg. It takes every ounce of Archer's self-control to resist.
  • Corrupt Hick: In "Bloody Ferlin", Ray has to go back to his hometown to help his marijuana d...FARMER brother when the local sheriff threatens to kill him and steal his crop. Turns out to be an inversion, the sheriff is shocked when he hears this accusation. He's just trying to do his job and stop local drug cultivation and shipment. After trying several times to convince him to stop growing pot.
  • Corrupt Quartermaster: Rodney inverts this. In contrast to the highly unprofessional staff at ISIS he is very by the book, and doesn't allow the team to take out weapons all willy-nilly as it was before he showed up. He does accept a handjob from Cheryl in exchange for a secret phone number however. At his worst, he is more of an Obstructive Bureaucrat than anything else. "Sitting" reveals he stole everything and set himself up as an Arms Dealer when ISIS was shut down.
  • Country Matters: Cheryl's real last name is "Tunt". This is the subject of a few puns.
    Archer: Tum again?
    • In season five Mallory calls Cheryl "My little count..ry singer!"
    • In season six:
    Krieger: Archer won't risk his relationship with Lana for a previous conquest, especially a prostitute. For a man like him, it's all about the hunt.
    Pam: Well they're all gonna have—
    Krieger: I said hunt!
  • Cowboy Cop: Downplayed. FBI Special Agent Holly is certainly eager and enthusiastic in the course of his duties, but is well-versed in the applicable laws and knows full well the limits and boundries to his powers.
  • Creepy Stalker Van: Dr. Krieger has owned a number of old-fashioned vans, which he has used for probably-illegal activities.
  • Crossover: Season four opens with a crossover with H. John Benjamin's other show, Bob's Burgers. Ironically, it's one of the most violent moments of the show despite Bob's Burgers only having occasional violence. "Sea Tunt, Part I," the first half of the two-part season finale, is revealed to be a crossover with Adam Reed's previous show, Sealab2021.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Despite being a complete moron in many things, Archer is more than competent at violence when the situation arises.
    Archer: Well, you never know what's gonna be on the board...
  • Crying Wolf: Given Archer's tendency to lie through his teeth and seduce anything within a 500-yard radius, his ISIS coworkers are a bit skeptical that it's actually Anka who's trying to bed him.
    • In "El Secuestro," most of the office assumes Cheryl chained herself to a radiator as part of her murder fetish behavior (it was an attempted kidnapping). Lampshaded when Gilette calls her "Little Miss Cry-Wolf."
    • Archer's increasingly-elaborate voicemail prank messages lead to people (usually Mallory) calling him when he actually needs help, only to assume his pleas are part of another elaborate voicemail hoax.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Cheryl correctly figures out that Cecil wants to have her declared insane so he can seize her inheritance before anyone else.
  • Cucumber Facial: Pam and Cheryl get one while staying at the spa in "Fugue and Riffs."
  • Cultured Badass: Burt Reynolds, who in addition to being able to out-fight and out-drive Sterling is able to Epiphany Therapy him through his Parent with New Paramour issues.
  • Curse Cut Short: In the pilot:
    Lana: After the lying, and the cheating, and that thing with the mayonnaise...
    Cyril: It's fine.
    Lana: ...not to mention how messed up he is about his mother...
    Cyril: It's fine.
    Lana: You know, he once called out her name while we were f—
  • Cutaway Gag: Quite a few here and there, mostly as flashbacks to Archer's Hilariously Abusive Childhood.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Kreiger has invented bionic augmentations, resurrection procedures, AI holograms that can perform sex, and all manner of Nobel-Prize winners. In the 1970s^w1980s^w1990s^wYou know what, forget it. Seeing as how ISIS zig-zags between mercenaries and all-out drug dealers with more red tape than Nixon (and the unfortunate fact that his father was a Nazi), he can't sell any of this stuff.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon:
    • Archer makes strange threats when he's angry with Woodhouse:
      • "If I find a single dog hair, I'll rub sand in your dead little eyes. Also, I need you to go buy sand. I don't know if they grade it, but... coarse."
      • "I'm going to pain you dearly, when I peel off all your skin with a flensing knife, then sew it into Woodhouse pajamas, and then set those pajamas on fire!"
      • "And now I have to spend the first Friday I've had off in forever coming up with some bizarre punishment for you! So, don't be surprised if you end up eating a bunch of spider webs." He makes good on this threat later on.
      • This also has a tendency to crop up during his rampages—in particular, threatening to shove a knife into a man's urethra, and shoving an M2 Fragmentation grenade up an Irish mobster's ass. Granted, he THOUGHT it was just a smoke grenade, but it still counts as this trope.
    • Lana gets in on it too.
      Lana: I will break both of your collarbones, and then pull them out of your body, and then use them to play, in its entirety and on your head, "Moby Dick".
      • "If you wake this child, I will climb inside you with my shoes on."
    • When Malory is furious enough to (literally) emasculate Krieger for destroying their dwindling reserves of cocaine by detonating his mini-sub:
      Malory: [I need] a small bowl, a mirror, a needle and thread, and a straight razor.
      Krieger: (Actually frightened) What the hell was the mirror for?
      Malory: So you could WATCH.
      Krieger: ...Eep.
    • After retrieving AJ from Krieger's lab (where he was using her for market research for his cybernetic teddy bear):
      Malory:And Krieger I swear to God, if I catch you near this child again...and the implied threat here is that I will shoot you in the genitals, and then sit here sipping amontillado sherry while you bleed to death.
  • Cutting the Knot: When they find they are unable to stop the launch of a missile in San Marcos, Ray and Krieger simply remove the warhead and let the missile take off and fly harmlessly...well, until the body of the missle crashes into whatever city was the intended target.


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