Tropes A-C | Tropes D-G | Tropes H-N | Tropes O-S | Tropes T-Z
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- Hacked by a Pirate: An episode had the ISIS computer system infected by a virus that displayed a dancing pirate sprite complete with parrot which sang "Hunch, hunch! What, what!".
- Hair-Trigger Sound Effect:
- Half-Human Hybrid:
- Handcuffed Briefcase: In the episode "Diversity Hire", Conway Stern handcuffs himself to a briefcase containing plans for a secret submarine engine before grabbing onto a helicopter rappel line. Unfortunately for him, Lana then fires a harpoon bolt into the briefcase and pulls on it so hard that Stern's hand is yanked off below the wrist.
- Hands Go Down: In "Liquid Lunch", Slater hires The Figgis Agency for a mission and asks them if they have ever heard of The Manchurian Candidate. Archer gets The Manchurian Candidate mixed up with On the Town and goes off a long tangent about actress Bea Benaderet. When Slater finally manages to finish his briefing, he asks "Any questions?'. Archer raises his hand, prompting Slater to add "That aren't about Bea Benaderet?". Archer puts his hand down.
- Handsome Lech: Even if you're a hetero dude, you have to admit that Archer isn't exactly ugly... on the outside, at least.
- Hard Head: Deconstructed. Being knocked unconscious for a whole hour? Super bad for you.
- Hard Light: Relatively subtle, but the holographic avatar for Krieger's fiance is able to hold objects, and one scene indicates that Krieger can have physical sex with her.
- Head-Tiltingly Kinky: In the episode "Heart of Archness", Archer has just woken up from a wild night with two nubile island girls. The room is border-line Destructo-Nookie and there are hand prints everywhere, which leads him to comment:
Archer: And what position was that?!? Did the missionaries never make it down here?
- Heh Heh, You Said "X": A key component of Archer's "phrasing" running gag.
- One character in "Jeu Monégasque" is named Benoit. Which sounds a little too much like "Ben Wa" (balls), a sex toy. Archer points this out at every opportunity.
- In "Double Trouble", after Katya defects, the KGB falsifies her records to show her as being assigned to infiltrate and take down ISIS. The control room can't stop laughing because the files state "Penetrate deep, destroy from within".
- He Knows Too Much: Agent Holly pulls this on Archer, Lana and Cherlene in the Season 5 finale.
Agent Holly: Come on, even if you people hadn't lost fifty million bucks worth of our cocaine, you know way too much!
Cherlene: Uh, I don't know anything!
Agent Holly: I believe that to be literally true.
- Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": In "Movie Star," Malory's given the script to a spy thriller for consultation purposes. She quickly sets about cutting herself in as "Malory Steel," a sexy intelligence head in her 50s, and quickly needs Cyril's help in keeping the script straight.
- Heroic BSoD: At the end of "The Wind Cries Mary," after hearing his old friend Lucas Troy's deathbed confession, Archer is first squicked to primal screaming, then stunned to silence (as are Lana and Cyril). After driving awhile (14 seconds of screen-time) in the car home quietly, Archer asks for the radio to be turned on. Naturally, this is played for laughs for the audience, but all three of the characters are genuinely disturbed and/or grossed out by it.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Katya pushes both herself and an out-for-revenge Barry off of Archer's terrace to prevent Barry from choking Archer to death. Unfortunately, it's in vain as Barry survives without a scratch due to his new cybernetic implants. And Krieger's van is crushed as well.
- Archer makes one of these for Lana in the last episode of season 4.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Archer and his old friend Lucas, an Odin agent he befriended during agent training. Naturally, everyone at ISIS frequently jokes about how they're secretly gay for each other.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Trudy Beekman, downgraded from The Ghost after being partially visible in a season four appearance.
- Hidden Villain: Several times. In "Mole Hunt", Krenshaw turns out to be The Mole. In "The Archer Sanction", Crash McCaron is the target, but only because Archer didn't bother to read the mission dossier.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Archer. Malory didn't even appear in his life from birth through age 5. It went downhill from there. To wit...
Malory: 'cause he'll be back! Crying for his mommy! Just like that Christmas break when I moved and forgot to give my new address to his stupid boarding school. I mean, he rode the train into the city all by himself, he couldn't pick up a phone book? 9-years old and bawling in that police station like a little girl! Huh - what's that tell you?
Cheryl: Kind of a lot, actually...
- It continues with Archer and Lana's daughter, AJ, from trying to have her lose weight (despite being a baby), bribing Lana to change her middle name to Malory to yelling at Ron for smoking while reading a bedtime story... for smoking indoors after the drapes were cleaned and forcing him to sit on the patio. At least Lana and Archer are trying to curtail it.
- Hindenburg Incendiary Principle: Subverted(?) in the episode "Skytanic". A Zeppelin's maiden voyage is threatened by a bomb threat and ISIS is on the case. Archer is paranoid that the zeppelin is going to explode, despite the fact that everyone explains to him that helium, what this zeppelin uses, isn't flammable unlike hydrogen which is what the Hindenburg used. At the very end of course they manage to save the zeppelin from the bomb in a close call that wouldn't even have happened if not for the usual ISIS bumblings.
- Historical In-Joke:
- Homoerotic Subtext: Archer and his old friend Lucas Troy, who even participated in naked locker room wrestling, but they're just friends. Except for Lucas, as he's exclusively gay for Archer.
- Honey Pot: Archer loves the Honey Pot. Except when he has to portray a homosexual man.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: In "El Contador", a drug lord captures Archer and Lana and hunts them, even uttering the phrase word-for-word. Archer initially thinks he's referring to jai alai.
- Hurricane of Puns: During Ray's hand surgery:
Krieger: Alrighty! Can someone give me a hand?
Cheryl: But doctor, I thought the patient was getting the hand.
Krieger: Speaking of hands, nurse, I'm...
Cheryl: ...overplaying yours?
Krieger: I was going to say "putty in yours", my dear, but I'll have to hand it to you.
Cheryl: Hm. Keep your hands to yourself, doctor.
Cyril: Can we have a show of hands? Who thinks this is getting out of hand?
Ray: Goddammit! Can you please, shut up, and sew on my robot hand!
- Hypocritical Humor: From "Skytanic":
Archer: Forget about Kraus, there's your bomber. That guy, Beardsley McTurban-head.
You idiot. That's Sandhu Singh, the billionaire investor. He's a Sikh
Archer: Oh, so if he's not a Muslim he just gets a pass? Well that's called profiling Mother and I don't do it.
- I Call It "Vera": Ray's dual 1911's are named Liza and Barbara. Their names are engraved on the sides.
- Identity Amnesia: Archer at the beginning of season 4, apparently induced by the shock of his mother getting remarried. In a massive dose of Actor Allusion, his new identity and family are lifted entirely from Benjamin's character in Bob's Burgers.
- I Did What I Had to Do: You want to terraform Mars and don't know where to start? First off, hire a private contractor (with no previous loyalties) to ensure the success of a mutiny and then abduct the women to help with speeding up the population of Mars. After, of course, making sure they're of good breeding stock.
- If I Had a Nickel: In "El Contador" after drinking Krieger's tea.
Ray: It tastes worse than it smells!
Pam: If I had a nickel every time I heard a man say that...I'd have eight nickels!
- If It's You, It's OK:
- Ray may be gay, but he's still willing to have sex with Lana. As he puts it, "Nobody's that gay." Although he does not seem very disappointed when it turns out that Lana was just pulling a scam.
- Everyone jokes that Archer and his best friend, Lucas, are totally gay for each other despite being womanizers. It isn't true for Archer, but it is for Lucas.
- I Love the Dead: Krieger is briefly shown groping the breasts of a dead and naked Katya. He lamely insists after the fact that she wasn't completely dead. "Nothing a few hundred thousand volts couldn't cure. The human body is basically a potato clock." That's also not counting what he did when he turned her into a cyborg (e.g. vibrating vagina).
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Happens in "Crossing Over". Cyril accidentally shoots a KGB undercover agent in the head while Lana is interrogating him. Also counts as a Death by Irony, since the agent said "Berry has a plan that will blow your heads" right before that.
- I'm a Humanitarian: When a party conversation casually turns to cannibalism, Woodhouse mentions that African tribes call it "long pig" and that he "never cared for it."
- I Take Offense to That Last One!: Played with in "Double Indecency", after Archer insults Cyril:
Ray: He said like a drunk jealous bitch.
Archer: I'm not drunk! ...Wait, I am drunk.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Archer is reluctantly convinced into this when Bionic Katya takes off with Barry.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Lots, without comment. For example;
- Two actresses from Arrested Development feature in the main cast, joined by Jeffrey Tambor in another.
- Thomas Lennon, who co-starred on Reno 911! with Aisha Tyler (where she played his long-lost sister).
- Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal, Gene and Louise from Bob's Burgers, voice Cheryl's brother and his wife.
- I Would Say If I Could Say: Malory's "I'm not so crass as to say I told you so at a time like this, but tell you I most certainly did!"
- Imagine Spot: Several happen throughout the series. Especially in Dreamland, where Puvey has more and more elaborate fantasies about marrying all the Chinese women he rescued and having a giant family with them.
- Immune to Drugs: Pam. In The Papal Chase, Woodhouse accidentally injects her with two syringes full of heroin, with no noticeable effect. She has recently taken to eating enough cocaine and amphetamines to keep the population of a large city high for several days, and apart from a brief cardiac arrest (which also doesn't faze her) she's been more-or-less normal. She's also the only one not completely incapacitated by 'Krieger Cleanse.'
- Malory has her moments as well. In House Call, she takes a tranquilizer dart to the chest and she doesn't even put down her Bloody Mary (or is it a Bloody Caesar?). Later she takes multiple doses of mind-control LSD to the face without even noticing it.
- Archer himself didn't even know it's possible to drink too much until "Bloody Ferlin". While he does occasionally go down, don't expect him to stay down very long:
Archer: Luke, you're not thinking straight. You wildly underestimated my liver's ability to metabolize toxins.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy:
- Improbably Cool Car: For whatever reason, all taxis in New York seem to be 1962 Mercedes 300SE (W112) instead of the ubiquitous Checker A11 (Mercedes wasn't near as popular then as it is now, and luxury cars are rarely used as taxis, at least in the United States); 1970 GAZ 24 Volgas show up, most prominently in "Drift Problem" (the car Archer throws out of the parking garage with his new spy car), despite Soviet cars (even luxury ones like the Volga) being extremely rare in the US in the '60s and '70s; and, despite it not being a car or necessarily cool, the buses are the unmistakable Czechoslovakian three door 1966 Karos SM 11s, instead of GM/Flxible New Look, or even Old Look buses.
- Incompetence, Inc.: ISIS, which has gained a global reputation for this in fact. To the point where people who want operations to fail hire them specifically for that reason!
- Consider that the head of the agency's personal secretary, who seems to barely understand her own job, was hired under a false identity and the truth didn't come out until Cheryl told them herself! Yet they are surprised whenever they get infiltrated by a mole!
- After ISIS is resurrected as a CIA subcontractor, Agent Slater is surprised at how incompetent they truly are, and by "Drastic Voyage" Agent Holly is done with putting up with their shit and informs them their current mission will be their last chance; if they succeed, they will each receive $1 million, but if they fail, they will be permanently shut down as a spy agency and individually blacklisted from espionage. They fail.
- The KGB, at least until Barry takes over.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: Archer pulls this on himself in the third season premiere, voluntarily denying that he works for ISIS.
- Incessant Music Madness: In "Sea Tunt", Cheryl seems to be able to hear music cues in the episode's score, and it's driving her more insane than usual. She incorrectly credits the music to John Williams, and her deteriorating mental health is a major episode plot point, so it's unclear whether or not she's actually hearing the same soundtrack the audience is.
- Incest Subtext: Sterling obviously has a lot of issues from his childhood, which make him yell out his mother's name during sex, amongst other things.
Malory: An erection!? The thought of me dead gives you an erection!?
- Ink-Suit Actor:
- Insane Troll Logic:
- Malory in the first season episode "Killing Utne":
Malory: I don't want another of your sullen whores using my medicine cabinet as a Pez dispenser!
Archer: That wasn't her fault! Who puts Oxycontin in a Xanax bottle?
Malory: People with servants, idiot!
Archer: But if they're stealing pills, how does it help to switch the labels?
Malory: Because they can't read English!
Archer: (laughing) OK, I'm gonna leave you to think about that whole line of reasoning.
- Archer in "Skytanic":
Captain Lammers: Mr. Singh is Excelsior's majority shareholder.
Captain Lammers: If anything went wrong with this flight he'd lose millions.
Archer: It's the perfect cover.
- Insecurity System: ISIS headquarters has roof access with an unlocked door.
Archer: Wow...our security actually kind of sucks.
- Not to mention the password for all computer systems being "Guest".
- Insistent Terminology: Frequently:
- It's a rigid airship powered by helium.
- It's not "Seamus". It's The Wee Baby Seamus.
- Ray's brother isn't a drug dealer, he's a drug farmer.
- Nikolai Jakov, head of the KGB.
- It's YY ZED.
- Archer and Trinette insist that she's a "call girl" or "escort", not a "hooker". Later, Archer is equally insistent that "when they're dead, they're just hookers".
- It's a zentai, not a catsuit.
- They're involuntary laborers, not slaves.
- It's M as in Mancy.
- The Dreaded Lubyanka.
- Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: Subverted in "Tragical History":
Malory: Just turn off the mainframe.
Lana: [holds up an unplugged power cord] Yeah, we tried that.
Malory: Then how is it still on?
Krieger: Because the worm has turned the mainframe...into a sentient being.
[dramatic musical sting]
Krieger: I'm kidding. There's a battery backup.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Archer and Ruth, who bond while undergoing cancer treatments.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: Leads to Barry and Katya hooking up.
- Cheryl/Carol is also extremely turned-on by Archer slapping her, which he finds "super creepy". But to be fair, emotional abuse turns her on as well. Which he finds somehow creepier.
- Interrupted Intimacy:
- Lana walks in on Cyril and Framboise.
- There's a Running Gag of showing flashbacks in which Archer and Lana are interrupted by a phone call from Malory.
Lana: Wanna do it again and put on some interracial porn?
Lana: No, baby, don't answer it.
I have to, sorry, it's Mother...turn it on, I can do both. [beat] What
- In the Local Tongue: The yakuza drift racers call Pam "Shiro Kabocha" and tell her it means "white shadow", when it really translates to "white pumpkin".
- In-Universe Factoid Failure: I "The Archer Sanction," Archer barely skims the dossier given to him and doesn't get any useful information on the target, like a name, description or sex, only that he's "from an Axis nation." This is complicated by the other members of their climbing party being a German man, an Italian man and a Japanese woman. Turns out they're INTERPOL agents and the target is the party leader, a Canadian of Scots-Irish descent (which Archer confused with Romania).
- Invention Pretension: Archer claims to have invented turtlenecks. When pressed he claims to have simply popularized them as tactical dress for covert missions, but when distracted, drunk, or being drained of a liter of blood, he more passionately claims to have invented them.
- Inventor of the Mundane: Archer claims his mother is a millionaire for inventing splashless urinal cakes to entice some pirates.
- The Irish Mob: The villains in "Placebo Effect"
- Ironic Echo:
- "Just the tip!"
- The ending of "Movie Star" has: "...and?"
- The ending of "Space Race" has: "Welcome to the... danger zone." It's not a real echo, but Archer was trying to goad Commander Drake into saying it earlier in the episode.
- It Amused Me: In "The Holdout," after Cheryl and Pam reveal that the old ISIS office was renovated to almost its exact original state - including stains...and to the extent of matching blood types (and considering that to be a failure, as it wasn't from the same person) - just after being shut down in the first place:
Ray: Why would you do this?
(Cheryl bites back her laughter)
- It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: The Monaco episode just happens to take place while the Grand Prix is going on.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": "Bloody Ferlin" reveals that Ray Gillette's name is pronounced "gillet" with a hard "g" by everyone else in his family.
- It's a Long Story: Invoked and subverted with Archer's switchblade. He says it's a long story, then flashes back to him seeing it in a hardware store and deciding to buy it, then cuts back to him admitting it isn't a long story.
- It's Snowing Cocaine: At the end of the fifth season premiere, after it's announced ISIS will shut down, Archer reveals they've been sitting on "Literally — not figuratively — a ton of cocaine."
- Karma Houdini: Several villains over the course of the show get away scot-free thanks to the incompetence of the ISIS agents. Most of the ISIS agents themselves qualify as well, as does Malory until "White Elephant", when ISIS is shut down.
- Kavorka Man: Cyril is revealed to be a sex addict and can't stop sleeping with a series of different women. Supposedly because Bigger Is Better in Bed. Even Krieger's virtual fiance seems to come onto him.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Jakov and Brett.
- Kinda Busy Here: All the time, to the point of being a Running Gag. Especially given the agents' choice in ringtones.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Archer appears to have shades of this, judging by his concern for Babou the ocelot, as well as his surprising empathy for a Bengal Tiger. He later gets Babou as a pet, but is unprepared for its high maintenance.
- Kiss Me, I'm Virtual: Krieger's virtual girlfriend, who is "so real the state of New York is allowing him to legally marry her."
- Klingon Promotion: Archer becomes the new captain of a group of Pirates after killing their current captain.
- Knight of Cerebus: Barry over time. At first he was simply another, more competent secret agent Archer didn't get along with, but after he became a cyborg and became (even more) mentally unstable, he killed Archer's fiancée, Katya. When Katya herself was resurrected as a cyborg, he attempts to kill her again, but then just steals her from Archer. He also murdered his boss Nikolai Jakov, simply to spite Archer, and became the head of KGB in Jakov's place. He was eventually stranded on the space station Horizon by Cyril, but later murders the entire crew. He eventually returns to Earth, but in the interim, Katya herself has taken over the KGB and started keeping Barry on a proverbial leash. By season six, it's revealed Katya left him, destroying what little sanity he may have had left. After kidnapping Pam and attempting to kill Archer because he happened to see them at the airport, the ensuing fight leaves him a bare endoskeleton by the episode's end. What's worse is he appears to power down for good... only to turn back on and cackle maniacally.
- Knight Templar: The Big Bad of the "Space Race" 2-parter, who wants to force Lana to be a birthmother for a new Martian colony.
- The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Archer meeting his hero Burt Reynolds, and going on to list almost every film he's ever been in. Only to be horribly shocked to find out he's dating Malory.
- Invoked: Ramon claims to have bought Claymore mines, not to frag Archer, but for redecorating. Though he may have been lying...
- The inevitable showdown of Bionic Katya and Bionic Barry. Unfortunately leads to Slap-Slap-Kiss.
- Lady Drunk: Malory. In the Season 3 finale, she's shown drinking Isopropyl Alcohol. Straight. With a Tang chaser.
- Ladykiller in Love: Sterling, with Katya.
- Then later with Lana, which he declares when turning down none other than the aforementioned Katya for her.
- Lame Comeback: Used a lot. For example, in "Tragical History":
- Lampshaded Double Entendre: As mentioned in "accidental innuendo", they were usually called out with "Phrasing!". In Archer: Vice, Sterling decides "phrasing" has become boring and tries to substitute "Said the actress to the bishop." Unfortunately, he can't remember it clearly, so he ends up saying "said Ripley to the Android Bishop."
- Lampshade Hanging: Oh so very much.
- In "Honeypot", after Ramon blows up the condo with a Claymore:
Ramon: It looks like they escaped...as implausible as that may seem.
Archer: That does seem implausible.
- In an episode centered on their troubled relationship, Cyril and Lana stop bickering and work together to push a bomb off their rigid airship, then embrace and exclaim, "We made it! We made it, baby!" as the airship soars. In the background, Archer proclaims, "Hooray for metaphors!"
- "Skorpio": surrounded by Mooks, Archer pulls out a grenade seemingly from nowhere:
Lana: Where'd you get a grenade?
Archer: Hanging from the lampshade!
- Taken Up to Eleven in "The Papal Chase", when ISIS has a plan to swap Woodhouse with the Pope:
- In "Archer Vice: Southbound and Down" we have this beauty:
- Laser-Guided Karma: All over the place.
- Although he sometimes seems like a Karma Houdini, most of the bad things that happen to Archer, especially injuries, are the direct result of his own actions and/or negligence.
- Malory constantly laments about all the frustration that Sterling causes her, completely unwilling to accept that her parenting is the reason he is the way that he is. She also utterly refuses to let him leave ISIS (i.e. her) to go do something else with his life (i.e. outside of her control).
- Lana stays at ISIS, despite her almost constant outrage at Archer and Malory.
- Last-Name Basis:
- Everyone except Malory (who uses either his first name, or Full-Name Ultimatum) refers to Archer by his last name.
- Almost everyone refers to Krieger by his last name. His first name is only revealed in Archer's book How to Archer as Algernop, complete with footnote that it is "not misspelled."
- Woodhouse — naturally, being The Jeeves. At least, until his headstone is seen in "No Good Deed" in season eight.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Movie Star", Cyril and Malory are discussing her screenplay:
Cyril: What is this, a spy comedy?
Cyril: Because that has been done.
- That or he could have been thinking of Get Smart or Austin Powers.
- The first episode of season six had Cheryl, Archer and Pam redo the office exactly the way it was, down to emulating Brett's blood when he was killed. This was in response to fans who didn't like the changes for season five.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Cyril in "Space Race pt. 1" and "Crossing Over". "SUPPRESSING FIIIIIRRRRRE!"
- Left It In: In "Live and Let Dine", During filming of a Hell's Kitchen-esque cooking show, Cyril slips on spilled yogurt.
Camera Woman: Yes. But we won't.
- Lemming Cops: "The Man From Jupiter".
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: In "Drift Problem", on his birthday, Archer walks into the office and says "Paging Dr. Boy! Dr. Birthday Boy!" When he realises no one is there and a security camera filmed it, he reaches behind the receptionist's desk, takes out the tape and smashes it on the desk.
- Like an Old Married Couple: Archer and Lana, especially in season two.
- Limb-Sensation Fascination: After Krieger gives Ray a pair of bionic legs, he shows off by dancing a jig.
- Limited Wardrobe: Played with, the characters wear the exact same outfit every episode, just different colors, unless they're going on missions.
- Little Stowaway: Adult version (well... Manchild version); Pam and Cheryl stow away on a space flight, largely as an excuse to put the comic relief characters in the episode even though it's implausible enough that the main cast are there...
- Little Useless Gun: Archer is occasionally mocked for his choice of a Walther PPK in .32 ACP.
Conway: [laughs] Oh, I'm queer? From the guy whose tiny gun came with a matching purse.
Archer: Hey, it's got plenty of stopping power.
Brett: Hah! That little...
[Archer shoots Brett]
Conway: Oh shit!
Brett: God damn it, Archer!
Archer: See that?
- The Load: Uniquely, the entire group is this! Between massively unprofessional behavior, an inability to set aside personal issues even while in life-threatening situations, the tendency to be easily distracted and just plain general incompetence, it is more luck than craft whenever ISIS/The Figgis Agency successfully complete a job.
- Lock-and-Load Montage: Invoked for intimidation purposes, lampshaded and parodied all at once;
Archer: Do you get it? Because I swear to god, I will strip back down and show you all over again-
Pharmacist: Yeah I get it, I get it! You have a lot of guns!
Archer: And a knife!
- Loophole Abuse: There's nothing in the Pirate's Code that says Archer cannot win Melawan raja (single combat for the position of Pirate King) by pulling out a gun and Knee Capping his opponent.
Suck it! Cause I'm still the king! Bucky:
This no fair! You break the rules! Archer: What rules?! We're pirates! Bucky: Melawan raja
mean hand-hand combat! Archer:
Boo-hoo, show me! Show me where it says that! Take your time. I'm hourly. Bucky: [leafing through Pirate's Code]
I know it in here somewhere...damn! Okay, maybe it don't say this exact words
, but everybody know— Archer:
Nooope! Fair is—well, it wasn't exactly fair, but since it wasn't expressly forbidden, tough titties!
- Love Before First Sight: Katya (a KGB agent) falls in love with Archer during training, after seeing his photo during a briefing on enemy agents.
- Love Dodecahedron: Not just one, but two; one with the ISIS staff and most minor characters, and another with Malory, all of Archer's possible fathers and pretty much any man.
- The Ludovico Technique: Lampshaded when they use it to put Trexler off marrying Malory - it's referred to as a "modified Ludovico".
- Luke, I Might Be Your Father: For most of his life, Sterling was led to believe his father was John Fitzgerald "Black Jack" Archer, an ace fighter pilot who died in combat when Sterling was little. Malory reveals in "Dial M for Mother" that she invented him to protect Sterling from the truth and paid a Junior ROTC team $600 to perform a 21 gun salute at his staged funeral. There are currently at least four candidates for Sterling's father.
- Major General Nikolai Jackov: head of the KGB. He and Malory had a secret relationship, which ended briefly when she disappeared for nine months, hinted to be when she was pregnant with Sterling. Nikolai was unaware of the possibility until Malory let slip the possibility in "Skorpio". He abducts Sterling to have a paternity test done in "White Nights", but the sample is sabotaged by Boris. Despite this, he assumes he is the father and bonds with Sterling in "Crossing Over". His death leaves his candidacy permanently in limbo.
- Len Trexler: ODIN spymaster. He and Malory had an affair some time before Sterling's birth. His disappearance following "A Going Concern" puts his candidacy in doubt.
- Buddy Rich: jazz drummer and bandleader. He and Malory apparently had an affair at some point, though she admits he is unlikely at best.
- Rip Riley: former ISIS agent and freelance manhunter. He and Malory had a sexual history, leading to Sterling to ask if he is his father. Rip refutes this, explaining that Sterling would have to be 15 for him to be the father. Rip also appears to be only ten to fifteen years older than Sterling, meaning his candidacy was unlikely to begin with.
- Unnamed (presumably) Italian man. Malory reveals she and him were lovers and that he shared Sterling's hair and eye colours. He was gunned down by Italian neo-fascists for speaking out against them, meaning it might never be known if he truly is Sterling's father.
- Woodhouse. The possibility was raised in a DVD extra, though Malory's treatment of him as nothing more than a servant and the various pieces of backstory we've learned make him almost certainly not the father.
- Unnamed man. A repressed memory/hallucination by Sterling in "Once Bitten" added another possibility of a man claiming to be Sterling's father and gave him a plush alligator toy on his sixth birthday. He appears to be rather short, as he is shown next to a light switch; his shoulders are level with the switch, measuring a standard 48", meaning he would be approximately five feet tall, well below Archer's height of 6'2" according to his bio in "Mole Hunt". However, it is questionable if this was an actual memory or if Archer hallucinated the entire event.
- Unidentified Cuban official seen in "Diversity Hire" who inexplicably looks identical to Archer, enough to allow Archer to impersonate him with only a fake moustache and dyeing his temples grey. This only speculation by fans.
- One clue that eliminates some candidates is Archer's chin dimple. Chin dimples are a dominant trait, and since Malory doesn't have one, that means Archer's father must have. This eliminates Trexler, Riley, Buddy Rich, and Woodhouse, since none of them have chin dimples. It strengthens the candidacy of Nikolai Jakov, head of the KGB, since he has a rather pronounced one.
- Mad Scientist: Krieger, the head of ISIS' research department who was engaged to a hologram and has a penchant for creating sex robots and genetic mutants.
- Mamet Speak: A great example of the trope, with every character getting in on the fun.
- Macho Disaster Expedition: The mission in Turkmenistan in "Once Bitten;" since Lana can't go undercover in No Woman's Land, Cyril, Ray and Archer are sent, and manage to screw up in pretty much every way imaginable.
- Made Myself Sad: A twisted version in the Faux-To Guide "Conflict Resolution", where Pam has a hand-puppet of herself make fun of her weight, eventually leading Pam to breaking down.
Puppet!Pam: Meep, meep, fatty.
- Made of Iron:
- Archer has taken everything from shots to the foot, leg, and chest, drilled through his brain, and even suffered through limb-shattering car accidents. Not only is the recovery near-instant (i.e. by the next episode), but he seems to have insanely high thresholds of pain, speaking with nonchalance despite growing blood loss and trauma. Taken to the extreme in "Dial M for Mother" where he takes 6 .44 rounds to the chest, and only minutes later (with no medical treatment) is casually complementing the shooter on their tight grouping. He also willfully drinks scotch with shards of glass in it with complete disregard.
- Surprisingly averted with his tinnitus. Archer even admits that years of having guns fired in close proximity to his ears have wrecked his ears, saying he needs to sleep with a noisy fan on now.
- Averted with Brett, who has been shot four times. He is seen walking with a cane, and Malory derisively calls him a 'Mr. Blood Mobile.' Since "Drift Problem", he now seems to recognize his role.
- Barry, being a cyborg, a fact that Archer continuously forgets.
- Despite showing some bruising, Pam takes multiple punches to the face like a champ, thank to the Fight Clubbing she did in college.
- This trope with some heavy Rule of Funny sprinkling is what kept Cheryl alive through repeated beatings, choking and stranglings, all of which she wanted to happen to satisfy her masochist sexual fetish.
- Malaproper: Archer, occasionally. For example, mixing up his Shakespeare quote with a video game; "Cry havoc, and let slip the Hogs of War!"
- Manchild: Sterling is a beacon of immaturity. Summed up pretty well by Lana.
picture him as a baby, y'know? I just see an adult him but tiny - like a little Archer G.I. Joe
- Manipulative Editing: Archer pulls this trick on Barry to convince Katya that he's cheating on her. It doesn't work since Katya was deceiving Archer all along.
- Manly Gay: Gillette's high school bully in West Virginia turns out to be gay, while also being a hard-nosed sheriff.
- Ray himself could count, despite his Camp Gay personality, as he's arguably ISIS' best field agent, being the Only Sane Man compared to Archer being, well, Archer, and Lana having her own laundry list of flaws, usually involving Archer.
- The Magazine Rule: Barry reads Desert Eagle magazine. Talk about Weapon of Choice...
- The Main Characters Do Everything: Even though there are a lot of background characters around the ISIS offices, with the support staff's strike in "The Rock" virtually shutting down operations plus Mallory's mention of fifty field agents vying for Archer's top spot, it quickly becomes clear that only eight or nine actually have clearly defined job roles and, possibly, anything at all to do. In Season 3 it becomes obvious that despite being a dedicated spy agency there may well only be three actual field operatives - Archer, Lana, and Ray - since Ray being medically incapacitated forces Malory to promote Cyril - read: the untrained, untested, and highly unsuited head of accounting - to field agent in his place.
- ISIS has other field agents in earlier episodes, but it's strongly hinted that Archer has gotten most of them killed by drunk-dialing them in the middle of dangerous undercover missions asking them to tell some hot chicks he's trying to pick up that Archer (and thus, the agent he's calling) are really secret agents, because "(the chicks) don't believe me."
- Masochist's Meal: "The secret ingredient... is phone."
- Mass "Oh, Crap!":
- Everyone in ISIS has one in the final seconds of the penultimate episode of Season 4, wherein Captain Murphy reveals that he's planning to fire chemical weapons at major cities on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. It's a rare moment that certainly isn't played for laughs.
- The entire crew gets another one at the start of season 5. Defending their offices from intense attack by Gas Mask Mooks, having no idea who's attacking them with flashbangs and submachine guns, until Archer shoots one, the mook spins around, and they all see "FBI" on the back of his bulletproof vest. Everyone stops shooting and comes out with their hands up.
- Maternally Challenged: Played with in Malory's case. She's proven that she's actually very good with children when she wants to be. It's just her approach to parenting that leaves something to be desired.
- MayDecember Romance: Uta and Manni, German assassins. Uta is 19, while Manni looks like Revolver Ocelot from Metal Gear.
- Meaningful Name: Bionic Barry gets into the US under the alias "Sy Berg".
- Medium Awareness:
Bishop: [noticing resemblance]
Dios Mio! Archer:
I know, right? Trope alert!
- In "Sea Tunt, Part I", Cheryl occasionally hears the soundtrack:
[dramatic orchestral sting] Cheryl: [looking up]
GOD DAMN IT, JOHN WILLIAMS
- Mind Screw: The ending of "Vision Quest". When Ray finally gets a signal on his phone and tries to call Malory, it somehow ends up calling the elevator, which causes a pre-recorded message from Archer to play. The most agreed-on theory, supported (but not confirmed) by somebody who worked on the show, is that Archer set up all calls to Malory's phone to redirect to the elevator, planning for it to get stuck and for the group to call Malory and hear his pre-recorded message. What he didn't account for was Kreiger installing the signal-jammer, thus making it impossible for the group to quickly reach the punchline of his prank.
- Military Alphabet: Archer doesn't get it.
Archer: The first letter is "B".
Archer: Thank you.
- Million-to-One Chance: Played for Laughs in "A Going Concern" when Archer tries to disarm the C4 on Malory's desk:
Archer: [takes picture of wires with phone] Hey, which one of these—
Ray: Blue and yellow.
Archer: You wanna look at it for more than half a second?
Ray: I wired the damn thing, ass!
Ray: [Archer cuts the wires] Oh my God.
Ray: I lied. I didn't wire it.
- Mic Drop: Done twice.
- In the episode "The Wind Cries Mary". First when Archer is boasting about Lucas Troy and drops the control room mic.
- And again by Pam when she finds out no one (except Cyril) has filled out the Peer Review forms, despite the low employee numbers (even though there were 50 agents and a full office plus a receptionist in the pilot).
- Mini-Mecha: The spaceship has a yellow Power Loader exactly like the one from Aliens on board.
- Missing Backblast: Archer tries to get out of a small, sealed, blastproof room by firing an RPG at the door. It doesn't go well, but he (and Cheryl) still manages to escape with only some Clothing Damage, minor burns and very nearly waving goodbye to "the last remaining shred of [his] eardrums".
- Mistaken for Afterlife: Archer's Fluffy Cloud coma fantasy.
- Mistaken for Gay: Archer and Woodhouse:
And this is Sterling Archer, my... Stinky:
None of my business. Consenting adults and all that. Archer:
Wha...hey! No one's consenting to anything
None of my business.
- Momma's Boy: Archer's relationship with his mother is...dysfunctional to say the least. Ramon Limon and the prince in "Pocket Listing" seem to be this as well.
- Mood Whiplash:
- In "Crossing Over", Jakov is killed by Barry and it's completely Archer's fault for ditching his bodyguard duties to have great sex. Well, not that great, as Pam takes the time to point out.
- "White Elephant" opens with a somewhat surreal sequence of Archer carrying flowers through the office to Malory for her birthday. There's a light sepia tone, blissful orchestral music is playing, everyone is dancing ballet and being nice to each other, and then the ISIS headquarters explodes. Bonus point since the sequence itself is Mood Whiplash for what Archer usually is. When the office explodes, it's almost a relief, "Yes, I am still watching the same show."
- The season 6 finale, "Drastic Voyage." When it seems like Nerius is just about to make it, Nerius reverts to its original size in the medical room, killing the patient they were trying to save and everyone else in the room at the time. The bloodbath leaves Agent Hawley and Malory speechless.
- Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: Level 8. Interestingly enough, the action scenes are frequently the least bloody part of the show. Dreamland is a hard 9, though.
- Mooks: ODIN seems to employ a small army of non-agent thugs armed with automatic rifles and all wearing black turtlenecks — to Archer's tremendous annoyance.
- Mr. Fanservice: Archer, who is shown in tight-fitting clothing, his underwear, or completely naked practically Once an Episode and has an incredibly chiseled physique.
- Ms. Fanservice: Lana, who spends almost every mission wearing some sort of "sexy" spy outfit, if not walking around in flat-out lacy lingerie, which other characters call her out on. Cheryl also often plays this role, though not as frequently as Lana does due to her normal outfit being pretty conservative.
- Mugged for Disguise: Archer does this to a member of Skorpio's yacht crew in one episode. A crew of South American terrorists do this to some hotel staffers in another.
- Multiple-Choice Past:
- Archer's origins are left deliberately vague, and various episodes give contradictory details about his origins, which isn't helped by the show's ambiguous date. "Double Deuce" states that he was born in Morocco while Malory was running from Nazi spies (around 1940), "Lo Scandalo" suggests that one of his possible fathers was an Italian executed by Fascist Italy for speaking out against the government, and other episodes show him to be five years old at the end of World War II. He's also shown listening to Woodhouse read a telegram from Malory about Operation Ajax in 1953 (which would make him as old as thirteen, but he looks much younger than that) and "Once Bitten" states that he was six when Malory was involved in the CIA-backed Guatamalan coup d'état, which took place in 1954 (and would place his birthdate in 1948).
- Woodhouse has one as well, at one point mentioning he served in Africa with the King's Rifles in season one, then revealing he was a Lance-Corporal in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, yet his headstone in "No Good Deed" shows several decorations only available to Royal Navy officers.
- Mundane Made Awesome: All of the superspies are very impressed by Ron's successful line of Cadillac dealerships. Archer notes Ron's newly-opened location in White Plains, New York, is actually quite impressive.
- Mushroom Samba: Pam, Cheryl and Ray take some of Krieger's special "herbal cleanse" to pass a drug test. They start hallucinating, with Pam seeing Ray as a Decepticon, Ray seeing Pam melt, and Cheryl seeing the bathroom floor turn to lava.
- My Beloved Smother: Archer's mother Malory. When a bad guy takes Malory hostage in the pilot and taunts him about how he's going to murder her, Archer immediately gets an erection ("Just half of one! The other half would have... really missed you.") and the taunt backfires. He later bonds with a Cuban target over their shared hatred of their Smothers.
- The queen in "Pocket Listing" is this to the young prince. She's even more of a bad-tempered, overbearing bitch than Malory.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: "I'm making peace with my loved ones...and some other people."
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: The only Udru Archer knows turns out to mean "No shit, you goat raping pig-devil", which he claims explains why his visit to a whorehouse went from "pretty bad" to even worse.
- Mythology Gag:
- From Frisky Dingo:
- The car alarm gag in the second season.
- Jakov's Assistant often uses the phrase "Come on, buddy" in the very same way as Ronnie, with the same Russian accent.
- "Heart of Archness" and "El Contador" give us an Asian character saying "What the hell, damn guy?", the catch-phrase of the supposedly-Asian dry-cleaner.
- Woodhouse uses the ethnic slur "gyppos" (a slang form of "Gypsies", used in the UK for Romani and Irish Travellers alike).
- Mr. Ford, a recurring character from Frisky Dingo, makes an appearance in "Drift Problem", "Legs" and "Reignition Sequence."
- The Running Gag of Archer's tinnitus, and him having to sleep with the fan on was first used in Frisky Dingo episode "The Grate Escape", when rapper Taqu'il interrogates the dry-cleaner and punches him in the face one too many times.
- The "hostile work environment" Running Gag was first used by Phil, who says the phrase to his employer, Killface, when suggested too by his lawyer.
- In the Frisky Dingo episode, "Meet Awesome X," the Xtacles are running through a list of casualties from a workplace incident. One of such casualties is "both Mikes", to which Xander asks, "aww, Fat Mike, too?". Archer gets the same line in the Season 4 episode "Midnight Ron".
- In Frisky Dingo, an albino prostitute robbing Wendell of his money and fried chicken yells "bawk bawk!" The same is said by Archer to Cheryl in "Mole Hunt" and by Cheryl to an actual chicken in "Bloody Ferlin."
- The iTunes description of The Papal Chase dubs the episode's mission to save the Pope from assassination "Operation Bad Habit."
- The rampaging biker gang from "Southbound and Down" is named the "Tex'-Tacles", a reference to Xander Crews' fighting force, the Xtacles.
- "Nellis" features the triumphant return of Simone. She has relocated to Las Vegas, but seems to have lost her "kickin' pants" along the way.
- "Reignition Sequence" features Cheryl misquote Wendell Stamps (a major character from Frisky Dingo) as having said "that's going in the slideshow!" (He didn't, but the slideshow is a Running Gag in Frisky Dingo).
- Two references are made to Xander stuffing Wendell's broken nose with tampons: In "Sea Tunt", Archer recommends the same thing for Ray, claiming "that's what they're for!", and in "Achub Y Morfilod", Archer uses this treatment himself.
- From Sealab 2021:
- The exclamation "Cheesey Petes!" is used by various characters, but usually Cyril.
- Also the appearance of an underwater lab captain named Murphy in "Sea Tunt, Part I."
- The access code '934 Texas' (often abbreviated 934TXS) makes several background appearances, such as in Archer's burn notice in "Job Offer", the Border Patrol license plate in Coyote Lovely, and the number of the train in "The Limited."
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Archer's name is evoked in this fashion by a lot of the bad guys on the show. Admittedly, this is not helped by the fact that Archer doesn't get the idea of anonymity as a spy.
- Never a Self-Made Woman: Inverted. It's said Sterling relies on his mother for employment. Played straight in "Blood Test," when the revelation that Archer might have a kid leads Pam and Cheryl to start needling Lana.
- Never Found the Body: Charles and Rudi, the Camp Gay interor decorator and hairdresser/assassins for hire of "Honeypot", disappear after Archer detonates a Claymore feet from them. Naturally, discussed and lampshaded.
Archer: "Wait, where'd they go?"
Ramon: "It seems they escaped, however implausible that may be."
Archer: "That is implausible."
- The Professional Killer Archer, Lana and Ray are sent to kill is lost in an avalanche. The three acknowledge they don't have proof they completed their mission and just assume he died.
- Never My Fault: In the early seasons, Archer was rather quick to say "Lana did that!" Invariably she really did do what she was blamed for (throwing donuts on the floor or poisoning guards).
- Lana repeatedly gets on Archers case for cheating on her with Veronica Deane despite the fact that while attracted to her he only pursued her in response to Lana attempting an Operation: Jealousy after seeing the two having a legitimate conversation
- Never Smile at a Crocodile: Alligators and crocodiles are two of Archer's three biggest fears.
- Never Trust a Trailer: At the end of "White Elephant," Archer fantasizes about things to come in a two and half minutes montage of clips allegedly from future episodes. In reality, less than half of them are from actual episodes and the rest are scenes that didn't make it past the first draft.
- N.G.O.: Deconstructed with I.S.I.S.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Cheryl has a death fetish and fantasizes about men strangling her to death. She insists that her lovers choke her during sex. She apparently got off on being Tazered, and seems to enjoy physical abuse of any kind i.e. giggling when Lana punches her in the arm. She's also a pyromaniac to boot.
Archer: I'm just going to say it, I think it's super creepy you get sexually aroused by physical violence.
Cheryl: Ehhhh, well, but also emotional violence.
Archer: That's... even creepier.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Chef Lance Casteau is so much like Anthony Bourdain (albeit with a pinch of Gordon Ramsay), Bourdain himself actually lent his voice.
- No Hero to His Valet: Archer is a pretty big asshole to just about everyone, but he gets absolutely sadistic to Woodhouse, whom he treats like an abused pet. In his Character Blog, he explains the difference between a butler and a valet: "A valet will shave you anywhere.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
- Brett decided it would be funny to mock Archer for possibly having breast cancer. Archer promptly beats him 6 shades of senseless.
- Implied with Pam and Malory in "El Secuestro".
- Cyril actually hauls off and punches Archer in "Coyote Lovely"... this does not end well for him.
- No Indoor Voice: Just about every character will scream in any given scene. Lana and Archer are particular examples, especially Archer's "Lana... Lana... LANA!" gag.
- Non-Action Guy: Krieger and Cheryl have very few instances of showing action. Cyril can be dangerous, but usually he'll hit an ally more than an enemy.
- No Name Given: At the end of Season 6, the CIA blackslist the agency formerly known as ISIS after a series of failiure, leading to become Private Investigators in Season 7. As of Season 11, it is revealed that the agency is reinstated sometime during Archer's three-year coma, allowing everyone to perform espionage once again. However, it currently does not not have a new name.
- Non-Idle Rich: Surprisingly, Cheryl, who works a day job despite being worth at least $500,000,000 (Cyril, an acountant, refers to her as a billionaire!)note . In some episodes after the reveal, she seems to be a bit fuzzy on the whole concept of money. At one point when being kept waiting she sarcastically asks if she's paid by the hour, then when Cyril points out that given her job she actually might be, it seems she doesn't really know. But then, she mostly works at ISIS because she likes the abuse, and probably doesn't even notice her pay.
- Noodle Incident: Several:
- Lana describing "that thing with the mayonnaise" as one of the reasons she dumped Archer.
- Archer's conception is tied to four noodle incidents Scenario A: potential dad Len Drexler, a hotel in Berlin, and Malory Archer doing something so shocking that she got thrown out of the hotel. Scenario B: potential dad Nikolai Jakov, the legendary "Bridge of Spies" in Berlin, and something that caused Malory to flee Berlin and unable to contact Nikolai for the entire nine months she was pregnant. Scenario C: possible dad Buddy Rich having sex with Malory, though she has since stated that this is unlikely. Scenario D: Malory mentions that an unnamed man who may have been Archer's father was killed by Fascist Italy either shortly before or during World War II, with no details given as to his death or connection to Malory.
- In "Job Offer," we see Barry and Lana in a situation involving the two being put on top of each other buck naked (with Barry sexually penetrating Lana in the process) while being threatened with a laser beam.
- Pam's vacation to Jamaica in season two; she comes back with a tan and rasta gear/pot which she openly smokes and comments about being deported back to the US for some unstated reason.
- An undisclosed series of incidents involving the abuse of an undisclosed office perk that Malory threatens to lock up so no one can partake of it, in episode 103. This might be a Running Gag based on Krieger having sex with the food in the fridge, as revealed in the first episode and obliquely referenced throughout the first season.
- Both Malory and Lana, in separate incidents, had to kill a man in Tunisia for some reason, apparently as part of their first assignment with ISIS.
- The "Popeye incident," mentioned in "Job Offer" resulted in Archer having to install a bulletproof door.
- Gillette has revealed to have had a rather rough patch in his life, where among other things, he tried to renounce his homosexuality via joining a religious group designed to deprogram homosexuals and was paired up with a fellow reformed lesbian, with whom he had a 2-year marriage. He's also a disgraced former minister, but still licensed by the state of New York to perform marriages
- Deconstructed with Malory wearing an eye patch the first time she met her son after shipping him off to the US with Woodhouse (who raised Archer); Malory comments that she doesn't remember why she had the eye patch on. Becomes sort of a Running Gag in flashbacks.
- Cheryl successfully pled insanity and was committed to a mental asylum. She has also been in an asylum with total amnesia under somebody else's name; it's not clear whether these were the same incident.
- Fourth of Ju-Luau—we know it involved a pig and a drunk, scratched-up Archer naked on top of it.
- In "Sea Tunt, Part I":
And since when do you carry a switchblade?! Archer:
It's a long story, mother! [cut to Archer seeing it in a store window; he says "Neat!" and presumably just buys it] Archer:
Well, not so much long as just not very interesting.
- Also from "Sea Tunt": Cheryl thought she was a werewolf for 6 months, and she also did something to make Malory ban scissors from ISIS.
- How did ISIS get a literal metric ton of cocaine?
- It's all explained in the final episode of Season 5. Malory was in on it the entire time, having formed a plan with Agent Holley to distribute the cocaine that the CIA had purchased, in return for a cut of the proceeds. That's why she didn't seem the least bit perturbed when the FBI raided their building and hauled them off to jail.
- Not So Different: When protecting an underage German heiress, she and Archer have a conversation about how her father never really cared about her, sending her to boarding schools, different camps, and so on. And that she acts out to get attention, and how she's insecure and doesn't have any friends, so she overcompensates and comes off as arrogant.
Yeah, I get
it, Anka! Anka:
You know, I think you and I are a lot alike, Archer. Archer: I don't do that!
- Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Archer plays off the prostitute he hires as his date at the dinner party for Utne to be this.
Lana: What does she drive, a Snuffleupagus?
- Not That Kind of Doctor: When they need someone who can do brain surgery, Cyril points out Krieger isn't a medical doctor.
Cyril: But we'd need a doctor!
Cheryl: So? Krieger's a doctor.
Cyril: Not the medical kind!
Krieger: Not even the other kind, technically.
- Not What It Looks Like: Pretty much the whole plot of "Swiss Miss". And it actually wasn't what it looked like—even Archer has some standards.
- Number Two: Each of the leaders of the three big spy organizations (KGB, ISIS, ODIN) have one of these. Len Trexler of ODIN has Barry Dylan, Major Jakov of the KGB has Boris (who ends up working for Barry when he usurps Jakov's position, and then for Katya when she does the same to Barry) and who plays off his Straight Man, and Malory has Archer, her best agent.