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- Obfuscating Disability: Ray in season three. He was shot in the abdomen in the "Heart of Archness" arc, but wasn't paralysed. Even just assumed he was because the hospital required he leave in a wheelchair so he played it up for sympathy and stopped when Archer and Lana caught him walking in "Bloody Ferlin". He gets paralysed for real in "Space Race" after Archer crashes the shuttle, then has Krieger fix his spine in "Legs" in season four. He does this again in season seven, sitting in a wheelchair in the premiere, then jumping out of it.
- Obfuscating Stupidity:
- Rona Thorne in "Movie Star". While she really is a kind of energetic, easily distracted person, she successfully hides the fact that she is a deadly markswoman and skilled assassin behind the veneer of an air-headed Hollywood actress.
- Minor example in "Lo Scandalo" when Malory is talking to the detective.
- Odd Friendship: Happens in "Honeypot" between Archer and Ramon, the gay Cuban spy he's assigned to entrap in the titular honeypot. The men bond over their mutual hatred for My Beloved Smother.
- Oddly Small Organization: As the series progresses, ISIS seems to have fewer and fewer people, both agents and "drones". Whereas in the first episode, Mallory claims that she has fifty agents that would literally kill for Sterling's position, by the fourth season her pool of field agents is so small that she actually uses Cyril and Pam in that role.
- Of Course I'm Not a Virgin: Anka in "Swiss Miss" claims to have seen dozens of "Wilhelms", scores even.
- Offhand Backhand: Archer does this with a net to catch grenades being thrown at him◊ in "Heart of Archness Part III."
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In "The Handoff", Archer is discovered in the trunk of a limo by bikers when his phone rings. The scene cuts to the office listening to it on speakerphone, thinking his rampage is another elaborate voicemail prank. Said rampage apparently involves a woodchipper, a chainsaw and a shovel. The aftermath shows everything on fire and one biker with several arrows in his back.
- Oh, Crap!: Literally, in "Honeypot" when Archer plants a claymore mine in front of the previously-confident assassins.
- Oh God, with the Verbing!: "Oh God, with the curry again... this shirt smells like Indira Gandhi's thong."
- Omniglot: Seems to be a standard bit of ISIS training, leading to a lot of Bilingual Bonuses.
- Archer is near-fluent in Russian (although his pronunciation is abysmal), and has a beginner's grasp of Portuguese. In earlier seasons, he did not know Spanish (a Running Gag he shares with fellow spy Michael Westen), however by Archer: Vice he has learned it to a decent standard. He has also been seen speaking French and Finnish and knows how to say "What else? Goat-raping pig-devil!" in Urdu. He also appears to understand Japanese and crammed an audio-course of Romansh on a flight from New York to Rome, although it's not clear how much he retained as he has never needed to speak a language spoken by only 70,000 people.
- Lana is conversant in French and Italian.
- Cyril is fluent in Spanish and German.
- Pam is conversant in Japanese. She manages to learn fluent Italian from tapes in the course of an 8-hour flight, but not Romansh."Who am I, Cypher? The gayest X-Man?"
- Ray is conversant in German and French.
- Barry speaks Russian and French fluently.
- Malory speaks fluent Italian.
- Krieger, being the child of Nazis hiding out in Brazil, speaks English, German, and Portuguese.
- One Bullet Left:
- Cyril, in "Tragical History", following his Exactly What I Aimed At moment. It works as a threat, but he's subsequently surprised to find out the gun was actually empty.
- Malory in the season 2 finale. Archer convinces her not to shoot Katya with it. When she does use it, against cyborg-Barry, it has no effect.
- Subverted in "Heart of Archness: Part III":Bucky: But I shoot gun many times and in all excitement I lose track myself, huh? So, now you thinking, did he fire eight shots or only...?Archer: [checks mag] Four, idiot.
- "Coyote Lovely" reveals counting bullets to be a particular talent of Archer's, in which he keeps track of the shots from two guns at once, and apparently identifying make and model from sound alone. After Lana speculates he has atypical autism earlier in the episode (strangely, he does not do this "Tragical History", asking "Who am I, Count Bullets-ula...?" and tries to shoot Cyril's foot with an empty gun).
- One Drink Will Kill the Baby: Averted in a flashback to the late 1930s.Malory: Please! I just killed a man and I think my water just broke, so I could really use a drink!
- Played straight in "Sea Tunt", when Lana adamantly refuses Archer's recommendation that she drink her nausea away, though it isn't apparent she is pregnant until later.
- One-Liner, Name... One-Liner:
- Krieger does the Babe reference, but with a slightly different spin; "That'll do, Pigly. That. will. do."
- Barry gives one to himself; "Hey Barry, is that how you get ants? Yes it is, Other Barry, yes it is."
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Bilbo, Scatterbrain Jane.
- Only Sane Employee:
- Lana, though a couple of episodes in season four gave the trope something of a deconstruction. Various characters wonder aloud why she stays at ISIS if she thinks she's too good for it, and point out that it's quite an irritating attitude for everyone else to deal with (not that that makes it any less accurate...). Archer also snaps that for an agent supposedly so much more competent than him, she certainly needs him to save her life surprisingly often (albeit generally from situations caused by his own stupidity).
- Ray sometimes falls into this, particularly when Lana and Archer are fighting each other.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In "Double Trouble", Lana brings this up as evidence that Archer may have turned on ISIS.Ray: [to Malory] For God's sake, woman, are you hearing yourself? He's your son, not a—Lana: Ray, she got him to quit drinking.Ray: [Guns Akimbo] So, what's the plan?
- O Positive: In "Heart of Archness Part III", Ray is seriously wounded and needs a blood transfusion, but he's O-Positive, Lana, Rip Riley, and Bucky are all A-Negative, and Archer doesn't know his blood type. Fortunately, Noah is also O-Positive.
- ...Or So I HeardArcher: Wow, that was impressive! Not many women can bring me to orgasm with my mother in the room. [beat] I would think.
- Out of Focus: In the first season, ISIS' rivalry with ODIN was a major part of the show. By season 4, ODIN almost never appears.
- Overly Long Gag: Twice in "Live and Let Dine", Archer drops a metal bowl on the floor and Casteau just silently Death Glares at him while it slowly and noisily wobbles to a stop. Each instance lasts about 10 seconds.
- This seems to be popular for Season 4, as Pam spends a full 20 seconds of "The Honeymooners" humping her sandwich to bug Cyril, accompanied by appropriate sound-effects.
- In "Edie's Wedding" has Pam crying while Archer works around her to make a coffee for a solid minute before slapping her.
- Overly Stereotypical Disguise: In "Honeypot", Archer is assigned to seduce a gay man into giving up a sex tape of Malory. He attempts this by dressing up as the most over the top flamboyant Camp Gay stereotype imaginable.
- Overt Operative: Maybe Archer'd have less of a problem with villains revealing that they know that he is "Sterling Archer of ISIS" if he stopped using it as a pickup line at bars and parties. His El Camino's license plate reads "SPY GUY".
- Not to mention his habit of getting other ISIS agents to verify that they are indeed spies (mostly to impress women) in the most inappropriate of situations.Malory: Most secret agents don't go around telling every harlot from here to Hanoi that they are secret agents!Sterling: ...then why be one?
- Not to mention his habit of getting other ISIS agents to verify that they are indeed spies (mostly to impress women) in the most inappropriate of situations.
- Overused Running Gag: In Season 5, characters stopped saying "phrasing" to point out Heh Heh, You Said "X", and Archer asks if everyone just decided to stop saying it. And then they made that into its own running gag.
- Parental Sexuality Squick: Archer gets really grossed out whenever he's forced to think about his mother's sex life.
- Parent with New Paramour: Archer has issues with this a couple of times; first as a Broken Pedestal when his mother dates his hero Burt Reynolds, and later when she marries Cadillac dealer Ron. He eventually bonds with both of them.
- The Password Is Always "Swordfish": The password is always "guest." Both the ISIS security mainframe and Cyril's Swiss bank account both use it. Archer lampshades how stupid this is.
- Later in the series, the password 934TXS turns up frequently.
- People's Republic of Tyranny: Lampshaded by Archer in "The Honeymooners" after North Korean agents address their plans to send the captured Archer and Lana back to "The Glorious Democratic People's Republic of Korea".Archer: It's neither of those things; it isn't democratic, it isn't a republic, and it is definitely not glorious!
- The Perils of Being the Best: Archer is known as the world's most dangerous spy, which means that there is a long list of people who want revenge on him for all sorts of things he's done throughout his career.
- Person as Verb: Lampshaded in "Three to Tango".Archer: I'm Archerizing this plan!Lana: What? No, no, uh-uh, you can not make yourself a verb. I will not allow it!Archer: I'm a verb now, Lana. Deal with it!
- Pet the Dog:
- Archer displays an unprecedented (you know, for him) level of empathy in the flashback scenes of "Placebo Effect." He starts off his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against cancer drug counterfeiters for typically self-centered reasons, not the least of which was recording his own revenge flick. But flashbacks show him developing an Intergenerational Friendship with an old lady/fellow cancer patient named Ruth along the way. He's nicer to her than he usually is to anyone else, even though he claims that every scene they share he's only running into her by coincidence while pursuing his own interests. Until the very end of the episode, when Archer is shown sitting by Ruth's bedside shortly before her death, for no other reason than to talk with her, as she tells him that watching Regis every morning helps get her through the days of cancer. When he finally catches up to Franny Delaney, the head of the Irish Mob and the mastermind of the cancer treatment counterfeiting, what's his response to Delaney's Breaking Speech? "Did you watch Regis this morning?"
- Archer is something of an animal lover. He takes an instant liking to Babou the ocelot and he apparently adopts him. In "Un Chien Tangerine," he befriends Kazak, a giant dog. Lana asks him why he didn't become a vet instead of a spy, and he says it was simply a matter of grades.
- Archer and Cyril despite their constant harassing and bickering share a pet the dog moment at the end of "Space Race - Part 2". Archer tells Cyril that he believes that he can safely pilot the space shuttle back to Earth. Cyril thanks him for the complement and says "just for that..." while turning the shuttle around before launch so the afterburners destroy Barry's ship, trapping him in the space station.
- Archer and Pam in "Edie's Wedding." In spite of the Overly Long Gag at the beginning where Pam is sobbing into a dish towel and Archer is moving her around while trying to make a cup of coffee, he finally stops to ask her what's wrong and agrees to be her date to the rehearsal dinner and wedding. He is horrified to see how much of a spiteful bitch Pam's sister is and promptly sticks up for her when Edie starts in on the bullying, even going so far as to say that he is Pam's boyfriend when Edie initially doubts him and makes numerous homophobic remarks, assuming that Archer is gay. He even forces Edie to come along when he goes to rescue Pam from Barry (though he mostly needed her to give him directions to the grain silo).
- Phone-Trace Race: In the episode where Pam gets kidnapped, ISIS tries to trace the call from the kidnappers. When Archer asks how long it will take, Gillette tells him two minutes. Archer points out that this seems like an unusually long time for a super-spy agency. Gillette chalks it up to budget cuts due to Malory buying an expensive table.
- Phrase Catcher:
Malory: Lana is going.
- "Barry, you ass!"
- "This is classic [Malory]..."
- "God damn it, Archer!"
- An episode specific example in "The Papal Chase":
Lana: [at Archer] Ha!
Malory: And, Pam? If you keep your eyes open and your big mouth shut, you just might learn something from her.
Pam: [at Archer] Ha!
Archer: Why are you going "Ha!"?
Pam: I don't know. What're we doing?
Lana: I'll tell you what we should be doing: who does the Pope remind you of?
Malory: [seeing resemblance] Ha!
Archer: Shut up! And also, you shut up!
Woodhouse: Yes, sir.
Archer: Why're you still going "Ha!"?!
- Whenever Babou the ocelot appears, someone will probably mention his being crepuscular.
- Ping-Pong Naïveté:
- While Archer is usually a Bunny-Ears Lawyer who's able to deal with spy work competently while being a complete moron in every other area, sometimes the stupidity bleeds into his work for the sake of the Rule of Funny; for example, completely missing a parachute dropzone only to land in the wrong country.
- Cheryl. For example, in the second episode, she has no idea idea what a deductible is, mistaking it for a tax deduction, but in season three, she mentions Archer gave her chlamydia while they were dating, before the series started, and it put her over her insurance deductible and made the rest of her visits to the doctor that year free.
- Pity Sex:
- In the Season 1 finale, Lana sleeps with Pam out of pity.
- In Season 2, Archer uses his cancer to guilt Lana into sleeping with him, though Adam Reed confirms Archer fell asleep before anything could happen.
- Playing the Victim Card: Lana Kane does this throughout the series. She does The Baby Trap in order to force Archer to focus more on her, to the extent that she is enraged that he does not immediately accept responsibility for a child which she conceived using stolen frozen sperm, and which she did not even tell him was his until after the baby was born! And even during the pregnancy, when Archer proposed thinking he wasn't the father, she claimed she would "rather lose the baby than marry [him]" while (unknowingly) pointing a gun at her belly. She has also waterboarded Archer using the excuse that he had skipped out on the training when she really just wanted him to admit he was attracted to Veronica Deane. She also repeatedly tried to manipulate Archer using Operation: Jealousy because her jealousy of Veronica only to get mad when it backfires.
- She did the same thing while dating Cyril, being put off by his trust issues despite admitted early on that she implanted a tracking device in him. She also give him a really hard time for cheating on her, even though she cheated on him a few episodes earlier.
- Cheryl eventually called her out on this admonishing her for constantly complaining about her job despite knowing that she would never leave it.
- Plot-Triggering Death: Hector Ruìz in "Diversity Hire", on two counts. His death forces ISIS to hire a new Token Minority to continue enjoying government subsidies, while had he successfully infiltrated El Frenté Rojo they might not have reappeared in season two's "Swiss Miss".
- Plucky Office Girl: Pam. Taken Up to Eleven with Cheryl.
- Politically Incorrect Hero:
Archer: There's your bomber. [...] Beardsly McTurbanhead.
- Archer, who has a habit of being occasionally bigoted:
Ray: [to Malory] Boom! Guess you had that coming!
- Malory openly hates the Irish, refers to a luggage carrier as "George", and frequently makes jibes at Ray:
Malory: Oh, stick another man's penis in it.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: The Irish mobsters in "Placebo Effect" are openly homophobic and racist.
- Poorly Disguised Pilot: The season five opener is a Completely Undisguised Pilot for the Retool of the show, to the extent that Archer provides the storyline with a trailer (via Imagine Spot) and name (Archer Vice).
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure:
- A source of friction between Archer and Ron, the former being amazed at what Ron hasn't seen and the latter being annoyed at Archer's Reference Overdosed way of speaking.
- Archer loves the song "Danger Zone" so much that it's basically his catchphrase. However, when he actually gets Kenny Loggins himself to play Lana's baby shower, she has no idea who he is, and reveals that she didn't even know "Danger Zone" was a song Archer was referencing.
- This was subverted in "Space Race: Part II". When someone mentioned Animal Farm Archer acted like they must be talking about an actual animal farm as if he'd never heard of the book, before revealing that he knew that Animal Farm was an allegorical novella about Stalinism by George Orwell...and it sucks.
- Pop-Star Composer: Starting with season seven, J.G. Thirlwell of Foetus fame composes the soundtrack.
- Positive Discrimination: In season one, Lana can be just as selfish as Archer, if not more so. The difference between them is, Archer will suffer while Lana will end up being rewarded. Averted in later seasons, however.
- Pre-emptive Declaration: "You hear that?" "Hear what?" "That crunching noise!" (headbutt)
- Product Placement:
- Yes, yes, Archer has a Dodge Challenger. (Not only was it relentlessly lampshaded, but Dodge wasn't even involved; the entire sequence serves as a Call-Back to Frisky Dingo doing the same for the Scion tC).Lana: How much did Dodge kick in?
Malory: (acidly) Not as much as you'd think.
- In "Achub y Morfilud," Archer stops in the middle of two different conversations to promote to the viewers Glengoolie scotch whisky, which isn't even a real brand (though fan-made stickers based on the label are available).
- Yes, yes, Archer has a Dodge Challenger. (Not only was it relentlessly lampshaded, but Dodge wasn't even involved; the entire sequence serves as a Call-Back to Frisky Dingo doing the same for the Scion tC).
- Progressively Prettier: While Pam doesn't get drawn any more physically attractive across the seasons (excluding her cocaine-induced weight-loss throughout season 5), she goes from being treated as homely and pathetic by other characters in the early seasons to being seen as a Big Beautiful Woman and Sex God by the later seasons.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Pam in season 2 and Krieger in season 5.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Cheryl is a cross between types D and E; Archer has shades of C and E.
- Punch-Clock Villain: In "Honeypot" and "Movie Star."
- Punctuated Pounding: When a co-worker, Brett, mocks Sterling's breast cancer: "I'm trying! To stay positive! Both mentally! And spiritually!"
- Also in "Heart of Archness Part III", with Sterling repeatedly punching a pirate in the face while complaining that he just. Wanted. To mourn. His fiancèe. By becoming. A pirate king!
- Punny Name:
- Nikolai "Major" Jakov of the KGB. He wears a lieutenant general's insignia, but everyone calls him "Major."
- Fister Roboto.
- Pyro Maniac: Cheryl mentioned watching a building burn down in "Stage Two", was seen lighting a dumpster on fire in "El Secuestro", and took delight in burning the corpses of Torvald Utne and Elke Hubsch in "Killing Utne". In "Sea Tunt, Part I", Cecil revealed that Cheryl's fascination with fire stemmed all the way back to childhood.Young Cheryl: Take that, gazebo!
- Queer People Are Funny: While definitely used with Ray, the funniest example would have to be Archer's incredibly over the top attempt to pass himself off as a gay man, which resulted in an actual gay man remarking: "Oh please, you like, sneeze glitter!"
- Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted. Characters routinely talk over one another, leave gaps, talk with, like, filler words, and stumble over forgotten one liners.
- Reality Ensues:
Archer: Oh my God. This is going to be aaAH SHIT! *Gun gets ripped out of his hands by the wind* Aah! The dust! It's like being shot in the eyes by a... glitter gun!
- Happens when it coincides with Rule of Funny - for example, Archer's realized dream of fighting on the roof of a speeding train.
- Many characters mention that, if you got hit in the head and stayed passed out for more than a few minutes, you might have brain damage and you better see a doctor.
- When the ISIS staff tries to picket the building in "The Rock", no one outside knows what they're protesting for. It's not like they can say there's a spy agency upstairs.
- In "Sea Tunt Part 1", Cheryl's brother believes that Cheryl's usually played for laughs deranged behavior means she is increasingly becoming a danger to herself and others and should be committed.
- Archer develops cancer from all the radiation he's been exposed to on missions and his recovery is quite painful, shown to be weakened by chemotherapy and needing an IV to handle himself.
- Just when it looks like someone has a gun with endless ammo, someone else's gun will go empty or jam.
- After getting hit on the head, Ray has to see a neurologist for the brain damage.
- Quite often, characters will complain about the loss of hearing due to gunshots being fired in close range. One episode has Archer firing his gun while in an elevator and everyone is deaf for nearly five minutes.
- Ray figures his cybernetic legs will allow him to lift a jeep. Sadly, his legs may be bionic but his spine isn't.
- In "White Elephant" ISIS is shut down by the FBI and all its employees are charged with treason for operating a freelance privately owned intelligence agency with no oversight or authorization of the U.S. Government. As if to punctuate this, bullet-magnet Brett gets shot... and dies instantly.
- When forced to choose between getting blasted by the mutineers or escaping into a very unclean part of the space station in "Space Race", the guys all choose to simply run back down the hall instead.
- In Season 6, the ISIS gang constantly ruin and fail every assignment the CIA gives them. And, as such, in the season finale, the CIA threatens to disavow them if they fail just one more mission.
- In Season 7, Lana, trying to get her daughter admitted to a preparatory school, goes to the home of someone on the admissions board — unannounced and uninvited — to get a second chance at being admitted... and gets arrested for stalking, then charged with possessing and carrying a gun illegally when the police search her and find a pistol. Later in the season, she becomes the prime suspect in a homicide investigation because she can't account for her whereabouts because her alibi is she was committing felony assault at the time, while on probation.
- Numerous times throughout the series, multiple characters get sick of Archers antics and understandably try to attack him, at which point they hopefully get one hit in before Archer pulverises them. Jerkass though he is, Archer is also a highly trained and capable special agent, and being rightfully sick of him does not give you the power to beat that. Except for other highly trained operatives, opponents are lucky to still be conscious after a fight with him.
- Reality Has No Subtitles: See Bilingual Bonus above.
- Really Gets Around: The entire cast. Archer has a lot of sex throughout the show. He likely picked up his promiscuity from Malory, given how many candidates for his father there are. Cheryl, Pam, and Cyril are not far behind. Basically Everybody Has Lots of Sex. Even Krieger has opportunities to indulge his many unspeakable fetishes.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Cheryl unknowingly gives Lana one in "Once Bitten".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 death bed 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: (Beat) Excuse me.Pam: Daaaaaamn!Cheryl: What? ... Oh my god, was I talking?
Edie: Oh, wow, where to start? Even in a new dress, you look like ten pounds of shit in a five pound bag. The whole town thinks you're a giant asshole for moving to New York City. Oh, and dad was right, you'll never find a husband unless you convince a blind man you're a seeing eye pig!
- After Barry ties Pam up in "Edie's Wedding" and she asks her sister to "cut her down", she responds with this:
- Relationship Upgrade: Cyclical between Archer and Lana, who break up and get back together repeatedly.
- Remember the New Guy?: Lucas Troy, Archer's best friend from his ISIS training days who first appears in season four's "The Wind Cries Mary".
- The Remnant: Archer encounters Kintaru Sato, a Japanese officer holding out on an island in South East Asia since 1942 in the season six opener. He's able to convince Sato that the war is over using his phone, which he borrows when Archer falls asleep and goes on a Wiki Walk of the war from Guadalcanal to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan's surrender.
- Rental Car Abuse: In the episode "Edie's Wedding", Archer rents a Lincoln Continental and drives through a wooden gate screaming "RENTAL CAR"... then complains when it becomes damaged and drives poorly.
- Required Secondary Powers: Averted; Ray tries to lift a Jeep using his new bionic legs... and does his back in.Archer: Are you kidding me? Bionic legs and you lift with your back?
- Reset Button: Pounded on at the end of season five. With the cocaine gone, ISIS is up and running again with help from the CIA.
- Season 5 saw ISIS being shut down by the government, with the cast attempting and failing to sell a (literal) ton of cocaine to pay for their retirements, essentially becoming a cartel in a Breaking Bad-inspired redesign of the show — lampshaded in-universe when Sterling refers to their new career direction as "Archer Vice". In the creator's own words, he "got bored." This was undone by the start of the next season, give or take the disappearance of the name "ISIS". According to the creator, season five was meant to be a "vacation", which is now over.
- Season 7 saw the crew relocate to Los Angeles, and drop spying to become Private Eyes as the Figgis Agency.
- Retired Badass:
- Woodhouse won the Victoria Cross and apparently scalped enough Germans to make a blanket.
- Malory, who was once a decorated international spy and assassin. In present day, she still retains her skill at marksmanship.
- In "Midnight Ron", Ron Cadillac is revealed to have a past as the leader of an illegal chop shop, who's been secretly skimming off the profits of his Cadillac dealership to pay his imprisoned former comrades' hush money. Also, he once stole a Sherman tank, a feat that even impresses Archer.
- Retro Universe: The show is set in an indeterminate time period that has aspects of the 60's through the present day. Characters often make references to modern and historic events as if they are current, making it impossible to determine when the show takes place.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Malory's weapon of choice is a Smith & Wesson 629 .44 Magnum revolver modded with a laser sight and a scope from season two-on. In "Dial M For Mother" only she uses a Dan Wesson 744 in .357 Magnum.
- Rhetorical Question Blunder:Archer: Do you honestly want to live through the rise of the machines? Which you won't, because no one will?Rodney: I...Archer: It's rhetorical!
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Calderon tries to compare himself with "Jorgé" Washington. Cheryl points out Washington wasn't President for Life, to which Calderon responds that he could have been President for Life, as the 22nd Amendment did not exist during Washington's presidency, even though Washington stepped down after two terms for that exact reason and was elected by the people, rather than inheriting the presidency like Calderon. Calderon also points out he is both President and Chief Justice, like William Howard Taft, whereas Taft was appointed Chief Justice a decade after his defeat by Woodrow Wilson in 1912.
- Rising Water, Rising Tension: The season 4 finale revolves around a scientist onboard a deep-sea laboratory threatening to launch two nerve gas missiles at New York unless the world agrees to several serious changes in eco-politics, and ISIS is sent in to take him down. However, it turns out there are no missiles and the scientist has simply gone insane from isolation. However, a brief scuffle leads to the walls of the lab being breached and flooding the whole complex. Since there are only three scuba tanks for four people, Archer agrees to go without, leading to him drowning and being legally dead for a few minutes once they reach safety.
- Road Trip Plot: "Midnight Ron" and "Coyote Lovely" in season four, and "Southbound and Down" in season five.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
- Woodhouse had one one for Reggie, his wartime buddy.
- Archer himself goes on one to take down the makers of counterfeit cancer medication in "Placebo Effect". He even makes sure to say "rampaaage!" a lot.Lana: Wait, you're just gonna leave him with a grenade stuck up his ass?
Archer: Yes Lana, I'm on a rampage!
- Barry goes on one after Archer sodomizes his girlfriendnote , and drops him off of a balcony three times. Archer's true love sacrifices herself to save Archer, but Barry survives, since he's a Cyborg. He goes on another one in season 3 which ends with him killing Jakov and running off with Katya. He goes to the international space station to kill Archer but gets trapped there.
- Robosexual: Dr. Krieger built a sexbot named "Fister Roboto", a "choke-bot", and a virtual girlfriend so realistic that the state of New York is allowing him to legally marry her.
- Romantic Wingman: Sterling's buddy Lucas Troy used to serve as his wingman back when he still worked for ISIS.
- Running Gag: At least One Per Episode, with lots of nods back to previous ones and several constantly recurring ones. These do not include Catch Phrases
- "Phrasing!", especially in Season 4.
- "Said Ripley to the Android Bishop", a temporary replacement when Archer realises that nobody is using "Phrasing!" any more.
- In the first few episodes, Cheryl constantly changes her name. Closed captioning even shows her name as Cheryl/Carol. However, she stays Cheryl by the second season.
- Malory saying, "Two weeks later, I was in Tunisia, killing a man." Lana later riffs on it by saying, "Two weeks later, I was in Tunisia, killing a different man."
- Characters describing things Malory or Sterling do as "classic her/him".
- Cheryl's death fantasies and erotic asphyxiation fetish as well as her tendency to strip.
- Characters getting caught having sex, with a background character offering a polite, "Hello!"
- Lana's large stature and giant hands.
- The office-wide usage of, "This is why we can't have nice things!"
- "I can't." "Can't, or won't?" "...Either?"
- Someone is asked something and takes two or three seconds in silence only to answer a short "No."
- The ISIS carpets being filthy, prompting, "And that's how you get ants!"
- "Hostile work environment!"
- Archer being Sarcasm-Blind, agreeing with a sarcastic statement by saying, "Right?" He'll also respond to "And I suppose that makes it better!" with "...doesn't it?"
- Blaming Scatterbrain Jane for everything.
- Archer calling Lana's name 3 times, louder each time, while she deliberately ignores him until the third time when she responds with an exasperated "WHAT?"
- Archer being shot. He states that he's been shot 19 times by Season 4, and 26 in Season 5.
- Archer flubbing his Bond One-Liner. "...dammit, I had something for this!" Sometimes another character will supply the quip, to his consternation.
- And on the rare occasion he does make a successful zinger he elatedly announces, "Nailed it!"
- Mocking Barry for his bad leg, pre-transformation.
- Cell phones ringing during sensitive top secret missions, complete with loud obnoxious ring tones (a callback to Frisky Dingo).
- "... or whom?"
- Brett getting hit with every stray or ricocheting gunshot.
- "Also, yes."
- Barry having a conversation with himself, whom he calls Other Barry.
- The password for any computer security system being 'Guest'.
- Certain agents temporarily going deaf from guns being fired off near them or being close to an an explosion. Lana mentions going to an ear specialist in one episode and Archer develops tinnitus. Also, Archer repeatedly saying 'mahp' whenever he is rendered temporarily deaf.
- Archer's overly-elaborate voicemail pranks in Season Three. In one episode he has to state the time and date before anyone will believe that it's not a recording. By season four, he's switched to blasting an air horn into the phone, then finally turning off his voicemail and not answering.
- Recent episodes have taken to explaining how Archer pulls off his elaborate voicemail pranks:Krieger: OK, so, he forwards his phone here, that's easy; then he taps his phone line into the intercom—they're both low voltage, no big deal. But that's patched into the actual house wiring, obviously 110 AC, which means he must have wired a transformer in the circuit somewhere. But he's got all these fake wires in here that don't connect to any— [cut off by Malory bursting into tears]
- Recent episodes have taken to explaining how Archer pulls off his elaborate voicemail pranks:
- Whenever Lana winds up in her lingerie, someone points out that they are Fiacci knockoffs.
- A dramatic reveal occurs, causing everyone to wonder how the hell a character learned that information, at which point we get a cut to Dr. Krieger.
- Someone comments on something disgusting, with Krieger commenting, "Me too!" in the background.
- Archer wearing his night-vision goggles, when the lights suddenly turn on. Lampshaded in one episode when he exclaims, "Why do I keep DOING THAT?!"
- Archer blowing the cover of other ISIS agents in "Diversity Hire" through a few drunken phone calls... and one just asking if he was "going to that lame ISIS picnic".
- Phones (cell and landlines) are destroyed with alarming frequency.
- Archer trying to shoot something secure and/or bulletproof, only for a stray bullet to maim someone.
- "Yeah, so it's gonna sound like I'm hanging up, buuut..." [hangs up]
- In Season 4's "Viscous Coupling" the "Fisherman's Wife" along with its various spin-offs seem inordinately popular among ISIS staff.
- "I can't hear you over the sound of me [doing something]!"
- Characters narrating their statements. "_______, he said ______ingly."
- Cheryl, and later other characters, gasping and realizing something is "just like the gypsy woman said!" in season four.
- "Promise you won't get mad?"
- Pam and Cheryl's "Sploosh" to indicate arousal.
- Someone, usually Malory, interrupting herself to snap, "Shut up!" as a delayed reaction to something someone said before she started talking, then resuming her original topic.
- Many characters chugging back alcohol while someone tries to talk to them, with that person being met with the "give me a minute" index finger from the character as they continue chugging.
- Lana's apparent predilection for interracial porn.
- Archer concocting outlandish punishments for Woodhouse's perceived insubordination.
- Archer dropping people's clothes off his balcony in retaliation for... just about anything, really.
- Ray Gillette becoming paraplegic for the first third of a season and recovering.
- Archer saying "Jesus, read a book!"
- Malory saying something immensely homophobic about Ray, followed by Ray irately saying, "Y'know..."
- In Season 5, repeatedly slapping someone lightly to shut them up, then slapping them one more time when they yell "Stop".
- Pam saying "Inappropriate" after she tells a joke and people react negatively to it.
- "Eat a dick, jungle!"note
- Serial Escalation in "The Holdout". "Thanks, jungle. Eat a buffet of dicks!"
- A variation with "Eat a dick, blizzard." in "The Archer Sanction."
- Cheryl consuming glue to get high.
- Cheryl consuming glue in such a manner that she couldn't get high from it.
- In the sixth season, someone thinking they're having a stroke and another one responds by saying that it's just the smell of toast.
- "Well, people in Hell want ice water." A go-to sarcastic response to someone asking for something.
- Lana irately saying "Couple things," usually being interrupted before actually being able to say anything else.
- Archer's "do you not?"
- One character asking another "What part of X do you not understand?" with the other replying, "well, obviously, the core concept!"
- Krieger's vans and their demonstrations of his obsession with Rush.
- Krieger's vans getting destroyed.
- Krieger doing a Shout-Out to Charlton Heston's Planet of the Apes "You maniacs! You blew it up! God damn you all to hell!" speech.
- During season 8, the Dreamland drummer, Cliff, likes to do a rimshot to punctuate innuendo or puns he hears in his vicinity. This becomes a running bit, because he keeps doing it (much to Ray's chagrin) even in the middle of practice sessions. Immediately after a rimshot, you can hear Ray faintly shouting, "stop it!" in the background.
- "Phrasing!", especially in Season 4.
- Ruthless Modern Pirates: Rip Riley and Archer are kidnapped by a group of pirates in the season three premiere.
- Sadist Show: Just about everyone in this show is a sociopath. Even poor buttmonkey Woodhouse once dabbled in cannibalism and was the one who actually shot William S. Burroughs's wife in the head as part of a bet for drugs Gone Horribly Wrong.
- Sanity Ball: Passed around liberally, sometimes within a single scene. No-nonsense Lana and stick-in-the-mud Cyril hold it most often, but just about every major character gets a chance at some point.
- Sarcasm Failure: Most attempts at smooth one-liners are either aborted or result in spluttering something lamer than desired. Even when Sterling does manage a witty quip on time, he undermines the coolness by congratulating himself for it.
- Sarcasm Mode: In "Bloody Ferlin", Archer repeatedly announces when he's being sarcastic.
- Sassy Black Woman: Lana is an angry sassy black woman.
- Savage Setpiece: When Pam gets kidnapped in Cheryl's place, we find out she paid for college as an underground bareknuckle boxer. By the end of the episode, even Lana doesn't want to fight her.
- Say My Name: Archer to Barry after the latter kills Katya
- The Scapegoat: Archer has become this since the start of Season 5 where everything seems to be blamed on him from his mother committing treason to Pam buying amphetamines with counterfeit money from the Yakuza.
- Averted as of Smugglers Blues" where it really is his fault.
- Then played straight again in The Rules of Extraction as the only reason they lost the coke they found in Columbia was because Ray didnt realize that it wasnt a good idea to follow the drug dealers flight plan.
- Averted as of Smugglers Blues" where it really is his fault.
- Scared of What's Behind You: In "Smugglers' Blues" while Archer is in a standoff with the Columbian paramilitary, the paramilitary drop their guns and surrender. Archer thinks he intimidated them but later notices the feared Cali Cartel that pulled up behind him armed with a tank.
- Schadenfreude: Archer gets a lot of joy out of tormenting Woodhouse. Even when he's not around he'll crack up if he thinks he's in trouble. An example being at the end of "Honeypot" he begins laughing hysterically because he remembered Woodhouse is tied up someplace "scared and alone and probably dehydrated."
- Scenery Porn: The drawn backgrounds for the series become breathtakingly gorgeous as the show continues. In the recent Season 6 easter egg hunt, Kreiger's flickr account includes an album of backgrounds from Seasons 5 and 6 in HD, including the ISIS bullpen, the exterior of Tunt Manor, Charles and Rudi's house and Ramon's Cuban cafe (from "A Kiss While Dying"), Madison Square Garden (from "Baby Shower"), the shanty town (from "Smuggler's Blues"), the palace foyer (from the San Marcos arc), the jungle crash site (from "Rules of Extraction"), Sato's camp and Archer's hotel room (from "The Holdout"), the chalet in the Swiss Alps and the Japanese sento (from "The Archer Sanction"), and the grain elevator (from "Edie's Wedding").
- Schizo Tech: Goes along with What Year Is This?? The computers that ISIS uses have a distinctly 1970's feel, complete with monochromatic CRT screens, but everybody carries smartphones with satellite voice, video and internet capabilities! Likewise, the cars tend towards 1970's or early-80's, and yet there is a mammoth space station in Earth orbit and better spacecraft than anything in real world use circa 2015.
- Secretly Wealthy: Turns out that Cheryl is worth almost $500 million now that her parents are dead. She still won't pay back Cyril the $3,200 she owes him because she physically burned the money, so she "doesn't have it anymore."
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Cyril and Archer, respectively. Interestingly, both embody the worst characteristics of each personality type, with Archer being an obnoxious, hyper-aggressive douche bag with mommy issues and Cyril a whiny nerd who frequently comes off as incredibly smug.
- Sensual Slavs: Archer's ex-KGB girlfriend. She survives for all of two episodes, but is later brought back as a cyborg.
- Series Continuity Error: In Nellis, Archer reveals he was put on the No Fly List for trying to break into the cockpit and assaulting one of the flight crew trying to restrain him at some point in the past, but is on a commercial flight in the following episode, "The Kanes".
- The entire main cast gets permanently banned from Canada at the end of "The Limited" in season 3, but season 4's "Midnight Ron" opens with Archer stranded at the Montreal Casino after he drunkenly burns his passport.
- Shaped Like Itself:
- Malory: "Well then you're as dumb as you are stupid!"
- Archer: "Does this look as bad as it looks?"
- Shared Family Quirks: In the season five finale, Archer tries to get Lana's baby's attention while it's breastfeeding. The baby holds up its finger in a "wait a moment" gesture—exactly the same way Archer does.
- Share Phrase: "What the shit?" usually said by Archer and Lana. However, many catch phrases are shared amongst characters, with one just saying it far more than others (e.g. Ray and Pam say the aforementioned "what the shit?", Lana will sometimes use Ray's "you know...", Malory has used Lana's "nooooope", etc.
- Ship Sinking:
- Lana/Cyril in Season 1. Their relationship decays over the course of the season until she finally dumps him when she catches him sleeping with Framboise. They briefly date again in season 4, then break up again by the Season Finale due to Lana's pregnancy by someone other than Cyril. He hasn't learned yet that she went to a clinic and used a sperm donor for it, rather than actually cheating on him, but in Season 6, when Cyril reveals to Lana that he still isn't over her, she laughs in his face.
- Archer/Katya in Season 6. Despite finally leaving Barry and becoming Archer's "perfect woman," Archer decides that he really wants to make his relationship with Lana work.
- Shoot the Fuel Tank: Subverted. In "The Rules of Extraction", Archer tries to shoot a gasoline tank with a M-16 in order to set a fire to scare some alligators. It doesn't work, the tank just end up with some holes in it.
- Shout-Out: So many, they have their own page.
- Shown Their Work: Among other things, the show's animated depictions of various firearms are quite accurate, as well as the various cars depicted.
- When Archer's new car starts up in "Drift Problem", it briefly shows a funny-looking symbol◊ in the dashboard screen. This was the Dodge "Fratzog", a symbol utilized on various classic Dodge cars until the Pentastar was adopted.... including the Dodge Challenger that Archer was given.
- Cyril's explanation of search and seizure laws during Season 5's House Call is actually pretty accurate when dealing with Agent Holly. Law enforcement and federal agents can't enter a private residence without a warrant unless they're invited in but once they are in they can conduct a protective sweep of the premise if they suspect foul play and make an arrest if they come across illegal goods. Like, say, several kilos of cocaine.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: In Season 6, Archer and Lana becoming this is what prompts the others at ISIS to try sabotaging their relationship... until they hear Archer lay out precisely how good he feels about it while rejecting Katya.
- Single-Target Sexuality:
"It's more like, a singular same-sex attraction."
- Woodhouse seems to have this for Reggie Thistleton. In "Honeypot," Charles and Rudi make a remark about Woodhouse not being gay, and he corrects them not by saying he is gay but by mentioning Reggie Thistleton. He elaborates on his relationship with Reggie in "Double Deuce," including his death on the battlefield. The only other indication of any kind of love/sex life at all is in that same episode when he's in bed with two women on a drug running ship...and he's openly pining for Reggie. He then delivers Archer and becomes his butler-for-life.
- Another example comes up in Season 4, with Lucas Troy, who has sex with women constantly but falls in love with Archer, to the point that he kills fellow agents to sell uranium on the black market so they can establish a non-spy life together.
- Skewed Priorities: Much of the comedy on the show runs on this.
- Archer himself, virtually all of the time. For example, in "Heart of Archness Part III", Archer is more interested in pirate lacrosse than in saving a critically wounded Ray and escaping the fortress in which he's being held prisoner.
- Lana often seems like the Only Sane Employee — until somebody questions her physical attractiveness, which is enough to cause her to become as irrational as anyone else at ISIS. In "Space Race, Part II" she stands nearly-naked in the middle of a corridor during a firefight demanding that Archer recant his claim that her breasts are starting to sag due to the ravages of time and gravity.
- Cyril has this in "The Wind Cries Mary", where he insists on completing his peer review of Lana even as they're being hunted down in the woods by Lucas Troy, although this is at least partly out of spite. He's also wearing a bright orange parka because he's afraid of being accidentally shot by some random hunter (as opposed to being deliberately shot by a super-spy).
- Mallory values money over just about anyone's life, sometimes even Sterling's. For example,in "The Rock" when the ISIS staff goes on strike for a long-overdue cost-of-living adjustment to their wages while Archer and Lana are in imminent danger of being killed by ODIN agents guarding a huge diamond (which Mallory sent them to steal for her), Mallory stalls even as it is clear that Archer and Lana are taking heavy fire and have both already been hit at least once.
- The only thing Lana and Archer still have in common is sexual tension. Otherwise, they are constantly at each others' throats.
- Barry and Katya
- Slapstick Knows No Gender: This show is not afraid to use its female characters for physical comedy, particularly Cheryl who is constantly getting choked, beaten up, tasered, or physically assaulted in some form (granted, she tends to goad people into it because she's an extreme masochist). Pam also receives a good amount of physical abuse and is the biggest Butt-Monkey on the show, next to Cyril.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: One of the main reasons for why the show uses Cold War-centric villains (the Cubans, Russia, the Red Army Faction, and the IRA) is due to Adam Reed's notion that Islamic Terrorism would be too dark a subject to deal with in a comedy, while the KGB and their ilk would hearken the audience back to a simpler time where you had two sides engaging in battle with full knowledge that neither side would go all out, out of fear of wiping out the entire world.
- Smash Cut: A common trope is for one character to say something, only for the scene to change and the next line to provide an answer, finish the sentence (either normally or surreally), provide ironic contrast or use similar words in a drastically different context.
- Smoke Out: Parodied in "Space Race" — Krieger escapes from an awkward situation by suddenly yelling "SMOKEBOMB!" and running away while everyone's stunned into silence.
- He does it again in "Un Chien Tangerine".
- Smurfing: In a parody of the former Turkmen president's real life renaming of various things after members of his own family, the Turkmen words for 'bread', 'Friday', 'snake' and various other things are all "gerpgork", after the leader's dog.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Everyone, pretty much all the time.
- Speech-Centric Work: Due to art-style limitations, (Highly detailed, low framerate) earlier seasons relied on dialogue for the humor and plot, even during the action scenes. "Killing Utne" notably had a minute-long scene where the entire cast was off-screen staging two corpses to look like a Murder-Suicide. (It's worth noting that Adam Reed created both Archer and Sealab 2021, which was even more speech-centric.) Art Evolution eventually allowed for better action scenes and more visual comedy.
- Spiritual Successor: To Frisky Dingo. And Spy Groove
- Spit Take: Invoked by Lana in "Drift Problem".
- Spy Fiction: Apple-Tini flavored.
- Stating the Simple Solution: Ray in "Skytanic," when Archer manages to speed up the timer on the bomb. When asked what to do, he replies "I don't know, throw it off the blimp?"
- Status Quo Is God:
- Averted in many aspects, most notably Ray's temporary paralysis, Lana's pregnancy and the Archer Vice story arc.
- In "The Holdout", Cheryl and Pam give the entire office a ten-million dollar renovation to make it look exactly the same as it did before, even down to Brett's blood stain. Except for Milton, the toast-making robot (and an actual Japanese bath).
- Stealing the Handicapped Spot: In "Legs", Ray, now handicapped for real after the "Space Race" arc, arrives at work to find Archer's new El Camino taking up both of the building's handicap spots. Archer uses misdirection to deflect Ray's complaints by taking "offense" to Ray referring to the El Camino as a car and a truck.
- Stealth Insult: Woodhouse to Archer, possibly:Archer: How could she pick Lana over me?
Woodhouse: The mind fairly boggles.
Archer: Was that sarcasm?
Woodhouse: No, sir.
Archer: Good, because your opinion matters. And in case you aren't clear on the concept, that was sarcasm.
Woodhouse: Well played!
Archer: Thank you. (long pause) Thank you.
- Steel Ear Drums: Averting this trope is a Running Gag.
- Sting: Running Gag in "Skorpio" (wah wah!)
- Stop Being Stereotypical: Ramon, Charles, and Rudy were not amused by Archer's Camp Gay disguise in "Honeypot".Charles: Oh my God, you, like, sneeze glitter.
- Stress Vomit: Sterling Archer will throw up if he pictures someone sleeping with his mother.
- Stuck on a Ski Lift: In the episode "Swiss Miss" Ray gets stuck on a ski lift when he's supposed to be protecting the daughter of a wealthy German dignitary.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: Nikolai Jackov's death in "Crossing Over". Barry murders him to spite Archer and chooses a method that would leave as little DNA as possible to prevent a paternity test so Archer would never know for sure if Nikolai was his father. And true to the trope, he seems to forget Jackov ever existed as he is never mentioned once in subsequent seasons.
- Super Speed: As revealed in "The Figgis Agency", Ray Gilette has this ability, owing to his bionic legs.
- Suspect Is Hatless: In "Coyote Lovely" while looking for the station wagon (a 1973 Chevy Bel Air) via satellite, the only information Malory can seemingly give to Bilbo is that it's a station wagon and is in Texas. Bilbo then pulls up images of random wagons in Texas, and snarkily asks if each is the right car. Hilariously subverted, as his search found 9500 possible matches, but in flipping through them randomly one by one to prove a point, he still managed to find the right station wagon in about 30 seconds.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:
Boris: Did you just now have telephone call?Katya: [Giggling] No! Don't be an idiot. Also, I must go to America. Unrelated to the telephone call that I just did not receive.
- "I don't have [a hybrid pig-boy] ...anymore."
- "With the old toilets, you could flush a Dachshund puppy. I mean, not that you would, but..."
- "I'm not a... serial killer."