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- In "The BoJack Horseman show", Todd states he loves shimmying. He later says this again when he has to leave Princess Carolyn's apartment in "After the Party."
- A Funny Background Event has the same person wearing a Rubik's Cube to sell them in the '80s appearing in the same spot advertising home loans (while wearing a house costume) 20 years later during the respective Generic Song from that decade.
- In season one's "Say Anything" Princess Carolyn tells herself "You've got to get your shit together." In season four, this line is repeated by Todd after her grief over her miscarriages, breakup, and business failures leave her an incompetent alcoholic
- Herb's season one nurse, Tina, is Beatrice Horseman's nurse in season four
- In season three, Princess Carolyn goes on a date with an albino rhino gyno wine addict. In season four, she and Ralph are visiting him about her fertility issues
- Season 4 features a Freeze-Frame Bonus of an interview with Paul Giamatti over his Method Acting as BoJack, mentioning that he ate a lot of muffins and apple fritters to prepare, and wondering why BoJack kept eating them if they only made him feel worse, a callback to Season One's "Jerk-Off."
- In "Old Acquaintances," Vanessa writes a "6" on a legal pad to rate Rutabaga's pun. When he tells another pun while pitching Courtney Portnoy's wedding in "Thoughts and Prayers," Princess Carolyn rates it the same way, giving him a "2".
- The Cameo:
- Camp Straight: Rutabaga Rabitowitz.
- Cast Incest: In-Universe, with BoJack sleeping with Sarah Lynn, who played his adopted daughter on Horsin' Around. Everyone else is squicked out by this.
- Casting Gag:
- In Horsin' Around, Sara Lynn had "That's too much, man!" Ethan had "Yowza, Yowza, Bo-Bowza!" which wasn't very well-liked by fans. The cast also says "Go home, Goober!" whenever they see Goober. The Horse has "I've heard of X, but this is ridiculous," which sometimes makes no sense.
- As a drug-addled adult, Sarah Lynn, the actress who played Sabrina in Horsin' Around, comes up with a new one, which caught on with some of the other characters — "suck a dick, dumb shits!"
- Todd has a tendency to say "Hooray!" a lot.
- Princess Carolyn says "Fish!" when something goes wrong.
- BoJack will usually leave a long voicemail for someone he knows, then at the very end announce who he is. "This is BoJack, by the way... Horseman, obviously." Diane borrows the catchphrase when she leaves a voicemail for BoJack: "This is Diane, by the way... Nguyen, obviously."
- Carnivore Confusion: In a world where humans and anthropomorphic animals coexist, viewers would obviously question where exactly meat would come from. This is referenced in an early episode where the diner waitress, a cow, begrudgingly serves a steak to a customer. It's not until the episode "Chickens" that the show addresses the issue: certain animals are set aside at birth to be raised as non-sapient livestock that are butchered and eaten by both humans and other animals (and there are implications that they're pumped full of hormones to degrade their intelligence). This is explained in a commercial for Gentle Farms, which is a non-sentient chicken farm that's run by a family of anthropomorphic chickens.
Farmer: The chickens here lead wonderful lives, where we harvest them so you can eat them!
Farmer's son: But wait, Pa! Aren't we chickens? I don't wanna get eaten!
Farmer: Boy, these animals aren't like us. They're specifically bred to be eaten, and genetically modified for maximum flavor.
- Cats Are Mean: By the end of season 2 there have been four named cat characters. One's a scheming pragmatic but good-natured talent agent, one's an egocentric philanthropist who only helps chaotic nations to make himself look good, another runs an improv cult for all but explicit nefarious purposes, and one's a "Loose Cannon [cop] who follows his own rules". It's exceedingly well Zig-Zagged but going by the numbers there's a 50-75% chance that if a cat shows up they're going to be mean.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: A Central Theme of the show is how self-destructive and ultimately meaningless being successful in Hollywoo(d) is. BoJack, for instance, wanted to be famous. He got it. However, to do it, he has to make all kinds of terrible decisions, most of which involve screwing over his friends, intentionally or subconsciously, to the point that he destroys all of his close relationships.
- Celebrity Paradox: An image on BoJack's Twitter posted some time after the first part of Season 6 shows him hanging out at Wesleyan (where he is now teaching drama) with alum Lin-Manuel Miranda, who had a brief role in Season 4 as BoJack's uncle Crackerjack.
- Central Theme: Family, friendship, love, regret, sadness, depression, escapism and the human experience. Specifics include:
- The endless pursuit of personal happiness, however ephemeral it may be, how it leads people to attach themselves to Hollywoo (it's their bread and butter) and how far they would go to keep it.
- The limits of changing and how it's easier said than done. You are who you are, after all, but evolving is possible. How much depends on oneself. On that matter, can people really change themselves for the better? Or are they always doomed by their self-destructive behaviors?
- Your environment (Hollywoo(d)) as a Morality Kitchen Sink; how to navigate between greedy, yet pragmatic producers; alien, egotistical higher-ups; snobbish, xenophobic high class; artists from reasonable to hard-assed to criminal to sociopathic; necessary, bullish pillars; abiding, yet caring workers; invisible "non-famous" and citizens and to see whether you hold on to who you are or change altogether.
- Fame and fortune cannot buy happiness, because of the destructive nature of Hollywood and celebrity culture.
- A more subtle theme is how mundane Hollywoo(d) life really is behind all the glamour: you got a job as a gaffer, a leading A-star, a writer, a producer, a staff member, an agent? That's it, you got responsibilities, a pension, an apartment (here or in L.A.), a contract. Learn the in and outs, make allies and connections, all of that. Once the glitter is gone, it's just something to do and somewhere to be, just like everything else in life. Hell, it becomes routine, which is implied to be the reason why a lot of citizens keep making the news: when even the famous have to do and behave like everyone else while pretending otherwise, what's the point of doing it quietly?
- There is a huge difference between reality and fiction, even if life has a tendency to blur them both.
- Life can be special and dull at the same time, but mostly dull, even in Hollywoo(d). Get used to it and don't make a mess out of your life by trying to liven things up.
- Even if everything seems to be the same, life changes constantly: Values of today become obsolete tomorrow, love fades away and is reborn somewhere else, popularity fluctuates between one fad and another, the way of doing business evolves over time and age takes away everything. To hold on to an eternal truth and refute everything else is delusional and foolish.
- Choices and their effects:
- If you treat someone in your life badly, that will have lasting consequences.
- Unless you're dying or on your last limb, there's a day after your best or worst action.
- The lack of immediate response in life and how it can warp people's actions.
- The main theme of the second half of the final season is damage control. While Bojack finally has a grip on life, he has to deal with the death of Sarah Lynn ultimately catching up to him and being exposed by the press. This results in one of the worst downward spirals in the series yet, with Hollyhock cutting all ties with him and the entire society of Hollywoo hating him even more than they originally did. Bojack is eventually completely stripped of all his material possessions (including his iconic cliffside house), and almost drives him to suicide. The ending suggests that while Bojack has in many ways salvaged his tenuous relationships with a good number of his friends like PC and Todd, that's not really enough to fix the ones that he's completely broken. Bojack seems to be at peace with this however, even if Diane eventually cuts ties with him too.
- Cerebus Retcon:
- During his interview at the start of the very first episode, BoJack makes an offhand comment about how Horsin' Around "isn't Ibsen," apparently to express the fact that it was never meant to be highbrow entertainment. In Season 2, we learn that his mother made the exact same comment after watching the taping of an episode, barely even trying to conceal her disappointment with her son's career.
- BoJack and Sarah Lynn's brief sexual relationship in Season 1 is initially portrayed in fairly farcical manner, consistent with the tone of a typical Animated Shock Comedy present in the earlier episodes. The only flack BoJack catches for it is Diane suggesting he may be taking advantage of Sarah Lynn's substance abuse problems and daddy issues. Whenever it's brought up in later seasons, however, the focus is on BoJack's wildly inappropriate behavior towards a troubled young woman who saw him as a surrogate father figure, and his entire relationship with Sarah Lynn is framed as one of his greatest moral failings, particularly after her drug overdose and death.
- Cerebus Rollercoaster:
- While season 2 is no less depressing than the first, there are significantly more gags and episodes with happy endings.
- Season 4 features some incredible silly story arcs such as getting stuck underground, but there's some very dark episodes revolving around Bojack's family history and Princess Carolyn. Then after all that, the ending of the season is surprisingly optimistic. For Bojack at least.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Around the third or fourth episode, the show takes on a darker, more melancholy tone, not that it was all sunshine and smiles to begin with. The rest of the way, almost every episode is sadder and darker than the one before.
- "After the Party" shows an example of this within a single episode. The first segment with Princess Carolyn and Todd is mostly comedic, the second segment with Bojack and Wanda has an even blend of comedy and drama, and the final segment with Diane and Mr. Peanutbutter is almost entirely dramatic.
- The Chain of Harm: A major theme of the show. Many of the characters, especially BoJack himself, are struggling with severe feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing leading to bouts of self-destructive behavior as they take their unhappiness and dysfunctions out on each other. It is later made clear that these problems are results of unhappy childhoods at the hands of abusive parents, but even there, the show takes it a step further in the case of BoJack himself, by showing that his mother's abusive behavior is also a result of an incredibly screwed-up childhood, meaning that many of his problems can, in a way, be traced all the way back to his grandparents, and quite possibly even further back, were we ever to get a glimpse into their backstories.
- Character Development: Quite a lot, over the course of the show.
- BoJack slowly, but steadily opens up about his problems. He even develops a bigger understanding of truly loving someone with his half sister Hollyhock.
- Todd tries to make something of himself and learns to take more risks as opposed to being a shut-in roommate. He also becomes much more comfortable and open to his sexuality, admitting he is actually asexual.
- Princess Carolyn becomes more practical and savvy, while using her sharpened business skills to help others.
- Mr. Peanutbutter's underlying darker outlook becomes more apparent while staying as the decent person he has wanted to be.
- Diane starts to come out of her meeker shell.
- Sarah Lynn realizes how unhappy she is with her current life and seems as though she's going to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an architect right before she dies. Hell, her last words were: "I wanna be an architect." Tear Jerker at its finest.
- Chekhov's Gag: Early in season 3, BoJack mentions that his many one night stands have lead to him footing the bill for multiple abortions, then wonders if some of them were only using that as an excuse for money. Come the end of season 3, we learn of a teenage girl who is trying to get in contact with him, and looks very much like him... The gag is averted when Hollyhock appears to be BoJack's daughter, but turns out to be his younger half-sister. This is because BoJack's father, Butterscotch, eventually impregnated his maid not long after Horsin' Around ended.
- Chekhov's Gun: Quite a lot. This isn't a show that forgets any details.
- Spanning the entire first season is Secretariat's biography, on which Diane was ghost-writer: it first sets up the plot when BoJack agrees to meet (then hire) Diane, and comes back to wrap up the first season when BoJack finds it lying around, pushing him into getting the movie made and finally act in his dream role.
- Averted with the receipt that proved that Bojack sabotaged Todd's rock opera. It fell under the couch at Bojack's place, and at one point a few episodes later, Todd almost grabs it while reaching under the couch, but he grabs something else and never finds the receipt. He finds out what Bojack did though another very convoluted process, but the receipt never comes back into play.
- Another one is set up in the first episode of Season 2: Turteltaub has a CGI replica of BoJack created so that in case something happens to BoJack before they wrap up Secretariat, they can finish the film. When BoJack bails on the film during "Escape From L.A.", Turteltaub has the aptly-named 'Computer BoJack' wrap up the scenes Real BoJack had yet to shoot, and ended up liking the new footage so much they even replaced all the scenes already shot with the computer duplicate.
- In the third episode of Season 2, Charlotte gives BoJack her calling card with her address on it at Herb's funeral, telling him he can visit her in New Mexico at some point. He's later seen looking at the card in the next episode, and much later in "Yes And" (the tenth), when things get too hectic in L.A. for him to handle, he leaves to visit her in New Mexico, setting up the events of "Escape from L.A.". By the time that episode ends, Charlotte may come to regret giving him that card.
- Season Two also had Princess Carolyn's sub-plot, where she struck up an affair and business-partnership with Rutabaga after he started going through his divorce. Because of that, though, he'd filed all the paperwork for their business in her name, which bites him hard in the season finale.
- Lampshaded and parodied in season 3. Mr. Peanutbutter purchases an entire stock of strainers for a crazy scheme that never gets off the ground. We see boxes of strainers sit in his home throughout the season, literally doing nothing but take up space. Halfway through the season he even admits he can't remember why he bought them, but just knows there will be a huge payoff for having them for so long. They're finally used in the last episode in a convoluted plan to save Pacific Ocean City from a giant mass of spaghetti.
- More seriously, in season 3: In the third episode, BoJack discovers a mix of heroin is being sold that is called "BoJack" and branded with what is apparently his likeness. In the dealer's hideout, the words "BoJack Kills" are scrawled on the wall. Much later, in episode 11, BoJack encourages Sarah Lynn to break her sobriety and go on an epic bender with him. Toward the end of their months-long drug and alcohol binge, Sarah Lynn discovers a bag of BoJack heroin, which BoJack happily agrees to do with her... and it is the final escalation of drug use that leads her to overdose.
- In season 4, the coffee Beatrice makes for Hollyhock
- After Diane suggests the more practical method of contacting the adoption agency to find Hollyhock's mother, Hollyhock prepares a package to send to her with a letter and a few pictures. After a few weeks with no reply she becomes discouraged. Early on after bringing in Beatrice Horseman to his own home, Bojack makes an offhand remark to her getting some mail, which was never sorted through. Bojack later looked into that mail himself and found Hollyhock's package, with four different forwarding addresses from the adoption agency. This was the vital clue that let Bojack figure out Hollyhock was the illegitimate child of his father and their maid, and Beatrice had arranged for the adoption.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The jogger seen running past BoJack's house every morning. He gives BoJack some words of encouragement at the end of Season 2.
- Children Are Innocent: Every child in this series is portrayed as innocent, if somewhat naive to the celebrity culture around them. There probably isn't a single terrible kid in this series.
- Christmas Special: A Christmas episode was released December of 2014 which involves BoJack and Todd watching a Horsin' Around Christmas special.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Laura, Princess Carolyn's assistant from Season 1 is completely absent from Season 2. She reappears in Season 3's "Old Acquaintance", where it's revealed she took another job working indirectly for David Pincher.
- Church of Happyology: In "Yes And" Todd joins ShenaniGags, an improv group that is a thinly veiled satire on Scientology. In fact, Todd was about to join Scientology before choosing improv. BoJack says that he knows a thing or two about cults from the year that he was a Scientologist... because he happened to read a book about cults that year.
- After BoJack rescues Todd from the improv cult, he gets some unrelated inspiring words from a jogger who happens to be voiced by Jason Beghe, an outspoken former Scientologist and one of the main interviewees of the Going Clear documentary.
- Season Two ends on one for BoJack, as Jill Pill was apparently a writer for another show he'd been on, and still wanted to cast him in a stage production.
- Season Three also ends with the reveal that Bojack has an apparent illegitimate daughter trying to get in contact with him. Diane gets a job at a feminist blog, Mr. Peanutbutter gets the chance to run for governor, Princess Carolyn re-opens VIM as a manager instead of an agent and Todd re encounters his Love Interest and comes out as Asexual. Meanwhile Bojack himself has ran out of the Ethan Around production, drove out of California and apparently attempts to commit suicide by letting go of his steering wheel while driving at high speeds only to be stopped by the sight of a herd of running horses, which seems to oddly comfort himnote .
- Cloudcuckoolander: Both Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter fall into this.
- Clue, Evidence, and a Smoking Gun: Mr. Peanutbutter confronts BoJack about stealing the 'D' from the Hollywood sign, and BoJack asks him how he figured it out. Mr. Peanutbutter sarcastically says that he followed the clues, used deduction, puzzle solving, forensics...oh, and he listened to the voice mail BoJack left him telling him that he did it.
- Gets a Call-Back in "Let's Find Out," when Mr. Peanutbutter says that he knows BoJack kissed Diane after they got engaged. He found this out by watching the footage from roadside cameras, asking friends on highway patrol... and she told him.
- Comic-Book Time: Subverted. Each season of the show takes place (for the most part) in the year it airs in and the series, unlike most Western cartoons, has been incredibly consistent about its timeline. For example:
- BoJack was born in 1964, it's mentioned that he's nine in a flashback set in 1973, and he also mentions that he's 50 during the first season, which is set in 2014. When BoJack goes AWOL at the end of season 3, set in 2016, and returns in late 2017 3 episodes in season 4, several people mention he was gone for the better part of a year, a year and a half. Princess Carolyn turns 40 in season 1 ("Say Anything", 2014), a source of angst for her. Diane celebrates her 35th birthday as well in season 2 ("After The Party", 2015). Todd Chavez has mentioned being in his late twenties and Mr. Peanutbutter has stated being 47 in season 1 (in real time, he turned 50 in 2017).
- In ""That's Too Much, Man!", BJ and Sarah Lynn's bender lasts from late January (when nominees are announced) to February 2017 (when the awards are presented). Also, Penny Carson, Charlotte's daughter, appears in Oberlin College after graduating high school a year before in season 2's "Escape From L.A.".
- A montage in "The Old Sugarman Place" shows summer-autumn-winter passing through in Harper's Landing, where BoJack stays when he leaves L.A. This episode, alongside "Thoughts And Prayers" and "Time's Arrow" show Beatrice and Butterscotch's lives from The '40s to the late oughties, with the Sugarman family's summer home time during WWII when Harper's Landing was blooming still, when her older brother died in 1944, to Beatrice's insufferable teenage years in the late 1960s where heirs and heiresses of Old Money like Creamerman, Bloodsworth and Sugarman still held debutante parties. Butterscotch is shown to be an old-school beatnik whose political leanings soured in the 70s when rejected by the Beats and often talked about the Panama Canal and the Horn as teaching methods for little BoJack.
- Every single montage set in a different era features references concerning pop-culture and every transition manages to pinpoint exactly which year or month is exactly by hiding clues in the background.
- Comically Missing the Point: After delivering a "Reason You Suck" Speech to a blonde in a bar (lambasting her for thinking she can behave poorly just because she's pretty), she fixates on "You think I'm pretty?" BoJack defeats his own point by taking her home.
- Comically Small Demand: How much do the paparazzos' demand in order to prevent the photos from leaking? $150. Each.
- Composite Character: In-Universe, Butterscotch is conflated with Secretariat in BoJack's Dying Dream.
- Condemned by History: In-Universe. While never popular with critics, "Horsin' Around" was loved by audiences enough that it lasted for nine years. 20 years after it ended, as stated by BoJack in the very first episode, it seems to have become increasingly more popular for people to openly deride the show as having been terrible. BoJack will still never hesitate to defend it.
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Vincent Adultman who works at the business factory and is definitely not three kids stacked under a trenchcoat. Note that the show never actually shows him as three kids in a trench coat, so it could be possible that he really is a very baby faced, childish grown man with an identical son. Given the nature of the show, its equally likely.
- Continuity Creep: While the series in itself has always proved to rely on Call Backs, Continuity Nods and an extremely playful slam toward stasis within animated series, at the beginning it wasn't such clear cut with several episodes, especially the first 3 of season 1 having standalone plots and isolated punchlines without carryover or consequence in the next one, other than being used as Worldbuilding and showcasing supporting characters and one-shots. However, once everyone's Story Arc, as well as the main Myth Arc was kickstarted, every episode slowly added elements that boiled over each other, with each succeeding episode being a continuation: irrelevant cameos become major plot points, characters return within seasons, Running Gags abound and each innocuous action that would normally be brushed over has consequences. Long term consequences.
- Continuity Nod: All over the place.
- After "Our A Story is a D Story", everyone refers to the area as Hollywoo.
- The first part of the opening credits change constantly as characters arrive and leave from BoJack's life. In the last two episodes of the third season, he's all alone.
- Furniture damage stays from episode to episode, such as Sarah Lynn burning the ottoman.
- In "Hank After Dark" Todd is shown still having his "Latin Kings" and "Skin Heads" tattoos from when he was in prison in "Our A Story is a D Story".
- Continuity Cavalcade: The titular showstopper, in reality a dream had by BoJack, features scenes from nearly every major screw-up or event in his life that we've witnessed, with people from his life appearing as characters played by actors. In addition, he sees some images in the previously seen style of his internal monologue.
- Cosmic Deadline: The last half of season six covers a few specific days over a span of about two years, rushing through significant character development mostly offscreen. Major events that probably would have been an episode to themselves if the show hadn't been cancelled (like a trial) are skipped over almost entirely.
- Cosmic Motifs: A galaxy visual recurs in the later seasons, which serves a twofold motif: a reminder of Sarah Lynn's death at the planetarium due to the bender she and BoJack took, as he blames herself for her downward spiral and a general symbol for loneliness and oblivion.
- Country Matters: Joelle calls Sarah-Lynn one, but then excuses it by pointing out that it's acceptable slang in Britain (even though she's not actually British).
- Critical Dissonance: In-universe. Horsin' Around was panned by critics, but popular enough to last nine seasons. It doesn't seem to have stood the test of time, though, because almost everyone who remembers it thinks it sucks. Bojack always feels compelled to defend it.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right:
- Instead of the much easier solution of Todd finding the receipt under the couch that would directly tip him off about BoJack causing his rock opera to fail, he sees a newscast that Character Actress Margo Martindale was arrested on TV. Then this happens:
Character actress Margo Martindale? I know her. But how? Wait... she was at the convenience store on the night I bought that video game and ruined my rock opera! She's the one who asked me to hand her that tape from the ten cent bin. (Gasp!)
That means... Margo Martindale likes tapes! And a tape is something you listen to, but tape is also a sticky thing you can use to seal boxes! Boxes is what cereal comes in! (Gilligan Cut to Todd standing in front of a wall with jumbled papers strung up on the walls and connected by string) Todd
: What does it all mean? Am I just grasping at straws?— wait. Straws. That's it! Straws are used to drink soda, or water, and plants need
water. And BoJack used Margo Martindale as a plant at the bank — and the convenience store! Which means BoJack hired Margo Martindale to make me find that video game so he could kill my rock opera! Aw dude...
- Which borders on Bat Deduction (similar to the South Park example involving Jeff Goldblum).
- Another example in "Yesterdayland". After a cease-and-desist is brought against him due to naming his theme park "Todd's Disneyland" Todd states that maybe Walt Disney trademarked the wrong name. He's right. Due to a typo, Walt Disney trademarked "Diisneyland" instead, and Todd wins his case.
- Curse Cut Short: BoJack Horseman as a show isn't afraid to let curses fly, but the creators have a self-imposed 1 Precision F-Strike per season rule for the sake of impact. This was invoked in season 3 to preserve that, but ultimately zigzagged.
Doctor: Oh, you didn't know? You're pregnant.
Diane: MOTHERF— [cue credits]
[start next episode]
- Cutaway Gag: Indulges in these in several episodes, though unlike most examples, they serve a purpose most of the time, rather than being for a quick one-off gag. Specifically, to explain how certain episodes start in the middle of a bad situation, or to provide bleak flashbacks of BoJack's history. Those in the early episodes are often done to provide an element of characterisation.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Mr Peanutbutter's ex-wife Katrina goes to some pretty extreme lengths in the season 4 arc, trying to recall California's governor, amending the constitution of California, building a bridge to Hawaii, making it legal to sell vaping devices to babies, pandering to the fracking lobby, etc. So when it's revealed that she's doing all this because some lobbyists want to build correctional facilities on wetlands, it all just seems weirdly out of proportion.
- Daddy DNA Test: Hollyhock gets one of these done to determine whether or not Bojack is her biological father. Eventually subverted - the test shows they're related, but after doing some digging, Bojack finds that Hollyhock is the result of his father having an affair with his maid.
- Dark Reprise:
- A very subtle example in "Escape from LA". As BoJack leaves New Mexico, a variation of the main theme plays which is a bit slower, and has the instruments slightly clearer in the mix to make them louder.
- The end credits for Whole Episode Flashback "The BoJack Horseman Show" features rewritten lyrics.
"Back in '07, I was in an unsuccessful TV show..."
- The song that Honey and Crackerjack Sugarman sing together is later sung again when Honey is emotionally broken after her son's death.
- Sarah-Lynn sings one of "Don't Stop Dancing Until The Curtains Fall" in "The View From Halfway Up." It doesn't sound dark, appearing as a techno remix at first, but the lyrics are changed to be about how even when you die, people will never forget you, even profiting off of your death, so why not die?
- Darker and Edgier: The penultimate episode of each season deals with some pretty dark stuff within its humor.
- Season 5 omits the wackier subplots and hi-jinks that could be found even in season 3, and with a lot of the more bizarre justified by being on a Show Within a Show. And it all comes crashing down with Bojack nearly strangling his costar to death in a paranoid, drug-fueled haze.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Princess Carolyn said she walked in on BoJack masturbating to a picture of himself. BoJack reminds her that he wasn't masturbating to the picture, but to what the picture represented.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Beatrice and Butterscotch's courtship. She briefly seemed to hit it off with the man her father intended for her to marry, but was impregnated by Butterscotch and instead chose to run away with him to California
- A Day in the Limelight: While the series' main focus is Bojack, starting midway through the first season and continuing into the rest of the series, the scope has expanded towards the rest of the main cast.
- Princess Carolyn's focus episode is "Say Anything"note in season 1, part of "The Shot" in season 2 and she even gets a major subplot in the 2nd season ("Still Broken", "After The Party", "Higher Love", "Yes And...", "Out To Sea"), continuing through the 3rd season with specific episodes being "The BoJack Horseman Show", "Love And/Or Marriage", "Brrap Brrap Pew Pew", "Old Acquaintance", "Best Thing That Ever Happened", "It's You" and "That Went Well". Season 4 adds "Ruthie" and "Thoughts and Prayers" to this list, Season 5 adds "The Amelia Earhart Story," and Season 6 adds "The New Client."
- Diane's are "Live Fast, Diane Nguyen" in season 1, "After The Party", "Chickens", "Hank After Dark", "The Shot", "Yes And..." and "Out To Sea" in season 2; "The BoJack Horseman Show", "BoJack Kills", "Love And/Or Marriage", "Brrap Brrap Pew Pew", "Old Acquaintance", "It's You" and "That Went Well" in season 3; "See Mr. Peanutbutter Run" in season 4; "The Dog Days Are Over" in season 5; "Feel-Good Story" in season 6.
- Mr. Peanutbutter has "Higher Love" and "Let's Find Out" in season 2; "Start Spreading The News", "The BoJack Horseman Show", "BoJack Kills", "Love And/Or Marriage", "Brrap Brrap Pew Pew", "Old Acquaintance" and "That Went Well" in season 3; "See Mr. Peanutbutter Run" and "Underground" in season 4; "Mr. Peanutbutter's Boos" in season 5; "Surprise!" in season 6.
- And last, (and least,) the Todd centric-episodes are "Zoes And Zeldas" in season 1 and "Chickens", "Yes And" and "Out to Sea" in season 2, "The BoJack Horseman Show", "BoJack Kills", "Love And/Or Marriage", "Stop The Presses", "Old Acquaintance", "It's You" and "That Went Well" in season 3, and the appropriately named "Hooray! Todd Episode!" in season 4.
- Rutabaga and Vanessa Gekko share the limelight with PC in ""Old Acquaintance".
- Bojack's mother Beatrice has "The Old Sugarman Place" and "Time's Arrow" in season 4. Although she shares the spotlight with Bojack in the former, the latter is a Whole Episode Flashback to her childhood.
- Kelsey, Gina, and Hollyhock share the spotlight in "A Quick One, While He's Away," sharing their stories with that of a new character, reporter Paige Sinclair.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- BoJack displays this, especially when dealing with the likes of Todd and Mr. Peanutbutter. Princess Carolyn has this by default.
- Beatrice Horseman (BoJack's mom) was almost nothing but this. You wonder where he gets it from.
- Kelsey Jannings seems to be in a class all her own.
- Deconstructed Character Archetype: On par with the deconstruction turn, characters are given a more revisionist, cynical flip. These are so numerous that needed their own page.
- Deconstructed Trope: From simple premises to complex takes on situations, this series doesn't leave anything unscathed. Over here, please.
- Deconstruction: Of Animated Shock Comedy, especially Family Guy. BoJack is clearly made out to be a jerk, to both the audience and the other characters, who not only gets exactly what he deserves as a result but is fully aware and wants to make something better of himself, rarely ever doing so. And if he unlearns something important, something terrible happens as a result. It also takes a huge sledgehammer to the status quo and doesn't waste a single plot point.
- Deconstructive Parody: A complete demolition of overused schmaltzy plots and characters in recent years? Yep. A dark character study? Of course!. But, boy, when the series takes a break from depressing reality, it sure loves to play with the most basic Sitcom tropes, archetypes and cliches, often by making them as ridiculous as possible while still ensuring reality will screw everyone's delusions.
- Deconstructor Fleet:
- BoJack Horseman doesn't just take all of the Sitcom tropes, including the ones involving Status Quo Is God almost all of recent animated series love to run with, it goes completely overboard and crushes every single conception popularized by the media, essentially pointing out how Real Life is not like fiction makes it out to be. Often overlapping with Deconstructive Parody, one of its main propositions is what every single staple of a TV show would be if they were willing to dig a little deeper:
- The main character, BoJack Horseman, isn't an easily likable person. He's narcissistic, self-loathing, a perpetual alcoholic, treats his supposed friends like shit (yet still keeps them out of a sense of loneliness), and is quite a depressive influence around everybody. Normally, the series would give us a sense of how in spite of that, he can a be good person underneath; while it does show that, it becomes clearer that the good and bad parts of BoJack are not different, but may actually come from the same attributes; there's no easy goodness, just a screwed-up complex character who increasingly starts to reveal some dark explanations about why he has become this way and how that still won't excuse him from screwing his, and others', lives up.
- The other main characters are not functional either: Princess Carolyn is a successful agent who dedicates her life to her work and is The Chessmaster and The Face of the group, this because she has no life or relationship outside work and is constantly shown to be deeply resentful of that fact; Diane is BoJack's ghostwriter who often imposes writing a great non-fiction novel above everything, despite that she often uses her novels as form of Surrogate Soliloquy to give her statements a gravitas and importance she feels she doesn't have otherwise; Mr. Peanutbutter is a cheerful Labrador who headlocks into every project headed his way and is enough of a Nice Guy to try to cheer up everybody he encounters, only later is revealed that this is because of a deep rooted fear of death and wasting life as he starts to grasp his own mortality; Todd is basically a slacker living with BoJack who's revealed to be actually intelligent and resourceful, his fame as a slacker being a result from having wasted opportunities given to him, horrible bad luck and a constant dose of hits towards his self-esteem making him convinced that he can't do anything right no matter how hard he tries.
- These aforementioned True Companions are placed in an alternate version of Hollywoo where animals and humans coexist. Normally, such worlds try to overstep the Carnivore Confusion resulting from this. Not this one, no sir. In order, we're told that specifically selected animals are bred to be dumbed down to minimal intelligence, fattened and eaten, while the others are raised normally with every single opportunity. To say that people don't see this as a problem and are quite accommodated to such information is an Understatement, the tropes What Measure Is a Non-Human? and Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better are taken to its logical conclusion by making both humans and animals willing to be personal butchers or distance themselves from the massacre by killing by mass production and through legal means. Without doubt, one of the most realistic and nightmarish explanations of why and how their world (and by extension, ours) can conform to this dissonance in Real Life.
- While some things are left intact for the sake of maintaining continuity, the majority of cliches, common television tropes, sitcom and gender archetypes and anything that may cause a Snap Back is subverted, deconstructed, averted or/and played so straight it falls apart. Someone has a crush on a woman in a committed relationship? It's a one sided thing that's not even based on real love, just a shadow of itself. There's a secret that must be kept under wraps? It will pop up eventually and it most likely will hurt someone. A person commits a horrible action and is Easily Forgiven? No, there will be consequences, really bad consequences awaiting for him/her and if for some reason he/she is still Easily Forgiven, chances are his/her situation will collapse at the worst possible moment.
- Defcon Five: Tom Jumbo-Grumbo gets this wrong while reporting on the stolen 'D' in "Our A Story is a D Story" saying that "all of Tinseltown is in defcon five" when he should have said "defcon one."
- Defrosting Ice Queen:
- BoJack is a male example of this in season 1, especially towards Diane, whose job consists of uncovering his past and real self by writing a biography about him.
- Kelsey Jannings, the director of the Secretariat film, towards BoJack in the 2nd season, but her getting fired makes this a moot point.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance:
- Herb getting blacklisted from his own series after being exposed as homosexual. Unfortunately Truth in Television even in the 1990s. Worse yet, the ice-cold executive who explains the firing emphasizes that it's 100% about perception and profitability - questions of right and wrong don't enter into it.
- Beatrice's father's attitudes on women are fitting of the 1940s
- Beatrice's obsession with thinness isn't too far off, as the 40's-60's had an obsession with women and girls being thin as can be seen by some rather sexist ads from the time. This ends up badly in the present as Beatrice in her dementia-induced state puts diet pills in Hollyhock's coffee
- Determined Defeatist: BoJack's a particularly standout example, but nearly all of the cast believe their lives are never going to change, despite their efforts to do better. A major theme is that no matter how hard life is, and how fleeting moments of genuine happiness are, friends can share their burdens, and that trying in and of itself day-by-day will ultimately make life better.
- Development Hell:
- In universe, the Secretariat biopic has been in talks for decades. Big name Hollywoo producers and directors want to make it happen, but the project is practically cursed.
- Princess Carolyn was in the process of making a movie based on the life of Eva Braun but it never got off the ground. She later sabotages the production when Vanessa Gekko takes over.
- Dirty Old Man: BoJack, as he's 50 years old but still sleeping with women half his age. Even his standards are put to the test when Charlotte's 17 year-old daughter Penny makes advances on him.
- Despair Event Horizon:
- Functionally Once a Season for Bojack
- Season One has him go on a writing spree to try and fix Diane's more honest expose of his life, which being drug-fueled is unreadable. He is forced to accept that everyone knows everything about him now.
- Season Two his effort to improve "Secretariat" with the approval of the director ends up getting the director fired. Her replacement despises him, and has him do hundreds of takes just to prove who was in charge. This makes Bojack bail out of LA for months.
- Season Three after Sarah Lynn dies while they were doing a drug bender together, Bojack tries to recover with a revival of "Horsin' Around" but talking with a young actress has him second guess himself and he disappeared mid shoot for the better part of a year.
- Season Four after Hollyhock has a drug overdose, Bojack blames himself and has a panic attack on the bathroom floor. Unlike the other seasons, he manages to make things right by the end.
- Season Five he throttled Gina on set because he was high on painkillers he didn't even realize what he did until seeing a video of it. Despite everyone running damage control, even Gina, this was a sign to him that his bad behavior can't be ignored anymore. He asks Diane to break the whole story, she convinces him to go to rehab.
- Season 6 sees him falling even further than ever, after all of his misdeeds are revealed to the public, including his hand in Sarah Lynn's death he becomes a social pariah who once again partakes in his old habits, and spirals further since all of his friends, and his sister Hollyhock, have essentially cut ties with him. All this culminates when he nearly kills himself by drowning himself in his swimming pool while high.
- After failing at both feminist activism in America and helping refugees in Cordova, Diane winds up crashing at BoJack's place for months, constantly drunk and filthy and thoroughly angry at the world.
- In season 4, Princess Carolyn becomes an full-time alcoholic after having a fifth miscarriage and breaking up with Ralph.
- Disappointed in You: Not in those exact words, but it comes across the same.
BoJack: You know what your problem is? You think you're so much smarter than everybody. Well, guess what? I spent as much time with you as you did with me. Why don't I write a book about how you married Mr. Peanutbutter because he's too dumb to see how much better you think you are?
Diane: Okay, I know you're upset—
BoJack: I'm not upset, I'm just sick of nerd-girls like you beating up on stars like me. It's pathetic! I'm sorry no one wanted to date you in high school, Diane. But I don't see why I have to suffer just because you were never especially pretty or interesting.
Diane:...You really let me down, BoJack.
- Disaster Dominoes: Several of BoJack's actions in season 3 contribute to a major disaster near the end. To wit, he gives his boat away to Character Actress Margo Martindale as a getaway vehiclenote , accidentally insults an Italian waiter (who quits and vows to create his own restaurant), and succesfully pushes for an ad campaign that uses reflective surfaces on everything, including billboards and blimps. All of this culminates in Martindale playing chicken with a cargo ship filled with spaghetti for the Italian waiter's new restaurant. The ships crash, which leads to all the spaghetti getting dumped into the ocean, which is then heated up thanks to the sun being reflected off a blimp still using the reflective ad. This spaghetti then sinks into the ocean, threatening to crush Pacific Ocean City. If only there were someone with a huge quantity of strainers...
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The discussion between Sabrina and BoJack about Santa at the end of the Horsin' Around Christmas Special is clearly analogous to one about the existence of God, complete with BoJack claiming at first that "Santa works In Mysterious Ways" before finally admitting that Santa isn't real and that people should be good to be good and not because someone will reward them for it.
- The way BoJack tells Wanda about his autoerotic asphyxiation techniques in "Higher Love" and the imagery of the asphyxiaton (which involves BoJack choking himself with a noose) is reminiscent of someone threatening suicide so their partner won't leave them.
- Dogs Are Dumb: Mr. Peanutbutter.
- Dog Stereotype: Mr. Peanutbutter is a Labrador Retriever, and is thus incredibly nice (if a bit dim and has his moments of being Innocently Insensitive), light hearted and he has a very short attention span.
- Don't Explain the Joke: BoJack's main reason for failing as a stand-up comic in the eighties was him always ending his jokes with "get it?" and then explaining the joke. He also has a tendency of doing this in everyday conversations. He's apparently done this since he was at least nine years old, since his fan letter to Secretariat had a whole page explaining a lame horse pun he wrote in it.
Interviewer: Do you get it? Do you get my joke about the track? Okay, there's a whole page of this.
- Lenny Turtletaub has a tendency to do this when elaborating on "By X, I mean Y" ("by 'kid', I mean 'middle-aged adult'").
- Don't Look at Me!: BoJack yells this and insists that he's well adjusted when everyone is laughing at him after Diane leaks part of his biography behind his back.
- Double Standard: Bojack isn't held to an unreasonable standard, but that standard doesn't always apply to others around him. Examples include:
- He is frequently told that Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse, however Diane went long and far to try to put as little blame on Sarah Lynn for her own self destructive tendencies as possible and is portrayed as in the right, which reached its peak in Season 5 when she accused Bojack of abusing his friendship with her.
- His friends (mostly Todd) can sink lower than Bojack has done to receive the Once a Season Precision F-Strike and their actions are Played for Laughs more often than not.
- Downer Beginning: Whatever actions occur during an episode, remain true on others and with the fondness of this series for lack of catharsis and Downer Endings, these tend to happen frequently.
- The very first episode begins with one to make it clear which kind of series this one is: After making a fool of himself in "The Charlie Rose Show" and trying to defend his show Horsin' Around to no avail, BoJack is asked if he's done anything after the show ended. Silence.
- The opening of "Later" opens with Secretariat, BoJack's hero, in a Q&A at The Dick Cavett Show in 1973. He's at his prime and he's charming everyone in the audience; however, when one letter arrives from a certain colt regarding happiness, Secretariat turns somber and desperately talks through the camera to him about "looking ahead, never back". 6 months later, Secretariat is ruined and jumps from the John F. Kennedy bridge. Cue intro.
- The opening scene of "Brand New Couch" is a flashback with BoJack's Abusive Parents, him trying and failing to tune them out with the Secretariat interview from the season 1 finale.
- Downer Ending:
- In-universe: the series finale of Horsin' Around ended with BoJack's character dying of a broken heart, and the children getting taken in by the child services. BoJack remarks that they might have gone a little too dark with it.
- Discussed in Episode 11, which is fittingly titled "Downer Ending". While devising a new ending for his memoirs, BoJack suggests one where he commits suicide as an elderly horse by going for one last swim and letting the water take him under, to which Todd remarks "downer ending!" The episode itself also has a tragically sad ending: BoJack attends a live ghostwriter conference to see Diane, telling her he regrets everything and is sorry for initially rejecting her copy of the memoirs, before breaking down and pleading for her to tell him that hes a good person. Which she is unable to do.
- "Hank After Dark" — Hank, who has sexually abused eight of his assistants, gets away with it and the news is more outraged by Kanye West hating thin mints, and the misogyny that Diane is faced with throughout the episode gets capped off with a guy telling her to smile.
- "Let's Find Out" — Although it's a darkly hilarious example, the ending still counts. Despite having the chance to raise up the money earned to a million that would be donated for charity, BoJack, after having been humiliated in television, loses on purpose as a final middle finger to everyone in the show (guest star Daniel Radcliffe especially), causing a major Downer Ending In-Universe, exactly the thing everyone in production was trying to avoid.
- As per tradition, the eleventh episode of the second season continues this trend with "Escape From L.A." when BoJack destroys any relationship he had left with Charlotte by inappropriately kissing her, then attempting to have sex with her teenage daughter Penny.
- Season 3 continues the eleventh-episode theme with "That's Too Much, Man!" After breaking a nine-month streak of sobriety to go on a months-long bender with BoJack, Sarah Lynn discovers that she won an Oscar for one of her songs that was featured in a movie that year. BoJack decides to take her to a planetarium, which she'd mentioned she enjoys previously in the episode, where she quietly murmurs "I wanna be an architect" before drifting off and dying in her sleep, cozied up to Bojack.
- The revelations of Season 6 make this example retroactively worse. Sarah Lynn didn't actually die in the planetarium, she died on the way to the hospital. BoJack deliberately waited 17 minutes to call for an ambulance in order to provide himself with a cover story. So he could have saved Sarah Lynn but he didn't.
- Dramedy: The show is a rare slow build-up, zigzagging case. It starts out as a simple Slice of Life Cliché Storm with dark elements around the edges. Around the end of the 3rd episode, the show, BoJack and everything around it slowly start being deconstructed, to the point that eventually everything from that point onwards becomes a dark look into existential despair.
- Dr. Feelgood: Dr. Hu provides Sarah Lynn with drugs. Not to be confused with Doctor Who... or Dr. Quinn, for that matter.
- Driven to Suicide: BoJack himself at the end of the last season, though he survives.
- Dueling Shows: In universe, Mr. Peanutbutter's Mr. Peanutbutter's House vs. BoJack's Horsin' Around. BoJack never misses an opportunity to tell anyone he's with that Mr. Peanutbutter's show is a rip off of his.
- Dude, Not Funny!: An In-Universe case. After his disastrous visit to Herb's, Diane tries to lighten the mood of the very awkward drive back by saying that at least he'll have a fun story to tell at Herb's funeral. It's enough to make BoJack pull over to cry.
- Dumb Blonde: Mr. Peanutbutter has moments like this. Also a one-off girl BoJack picks up at a bar in episode 2.
- Dying Dream: The second-to-last episode is BoJack's. Eventually Subverted since he survives.