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Music / Gorillaz

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"'Always be wary of people who use quotes.' I don't know who said that."
Murdoc Niccals

Gorillaz are a virtual band created in 1998 by Blur frontman Damon Albarn and Tank Girl co-creator Jamie Hewlett. The band consists of four animated fictional characters, Stuart "2-D" Pot (vocals and keyboard), Murdoc Niccals (bass guitar), Russel Hobbs (percussion), and Noodle (lead guitar). These characters are completely fictional and do not represent any real-life musicians involved in this project. Aside from live performances during Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour (and to a lesser extent, Demon Days Live), Gorillaz' 'real-life' musicians change for each album (with the exception of creator Damon Albarn) and usually stay behind the scenes while Gorillaz are credited as the real band.

The virtual band was created as a commentary on MTV often putting more of an emphasis on the musician than the music itself, having a discrepancy between the visuals and the music. To prove that musical groups could be executed in a more interdependent fashion, they created fictional backstories and put much emphasis on the animation and cartoons.


While their musical genre is mainly categorized as a trip-hop group, they also explore a wide variety of other genres, such as Alternative Rock, Hip-Hop, Dub, Electronic Music, Punk Rock, and Pop. Some of their more well-known songs include "Clint Eastwood," "19-2000,", "Feel Good Inc.", "DARE", "Stylo", "On Melancholy Hill", and "Saturnz Barz".

Gorillaz have released six studio albums so far: their 2001 debut album Gorillaz, Demon Days, Plastic Beach, The Fall, Humanz, and The Now Now. They have also released two B-side albums: G-Sides and D-Sides. In January 2020, the band officially launched a new audiovisual web series called Song Machine, releasing new singles and music videos monthly that serve as episodes to the series, which will see a physical release of each season as a compilation album included with the annual Gorillaz Almanac that is set to launch in October of this year. When Gorillaz first started, their backstory was presented through various interviews and promotional material, but it was eventually all pieced together in the project’s second phase through their 2006 autobiography, Rise of the Ogre.


In 2001, they were recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records and were titled the "Most Successful Virtual Band".

They have become probably the most recognizable group in trip-hop, all while being an animated band.

Damon Albarn confirmed, after much speculation and a minor bout of Creative Differences with co-creator Jamie Hewlett, that the band was in the process of re-activating for 2017 (initially the re-activation was planned for 2016). On January 19th, 2017, the band released their first new song in almost six years, "Hallelujah Money". Also, in October of 2016, Jaguar Racing named Noodle as their global ambassador to promote their new Formula E electric racing car line.

Their fifth album, Humanz, was released April 28th, 2017. They announced the album a few weeks beforehand by releasing not one, not two, but four songs on the same day. After some brief teases that another follow-up album would be "coming very soon," their sixth was suddenly announced in May 26th, 2018 and was released on June 29th of the same year, titled The Now Now.

In January 2020, the band announced a new project called Song Machine, revealing that they would be moving away from the traditional album format, instead releasing a series of periodically-released singles involving an ever-revolving roster of collaborators, with the song "Momentary Bliss" serving as its first "episode". In May 2020, it was announced that Gorillaz would release a new graphic novel in October 2020 called Gorillaz ALMANAC featuring comic strips, new and old artwork, games, puzzles, and special guest appearances from various Gorillaz collaborators, with a physical copy of Song Machine: Season One – Strange Timez included with each issue.

Now with a Character Sheet!

Studio Discography

Other Discography

  • G Sides (2001) (B-sides and outtakes for Gorillaz)
  • Laika Come Home (2002) (dub remix album, collaboration with Spacemonkeyz)
  • D-Sides (2007) (B-sides and outtakes for Demon Days)
  • The Singles Collection 2001–2011 (2011) (Greatest Hits Album)
  • Song Machine (2020-present) (Web series)


  • Rise of The Ogre (2006) (Autobiography about the band)
  • G Magazine (2017) (A single issue magazine by Gorillaz)
  • Gorillaz ALMANAC (2020) (Gorillaz graphic novel)

Gorillaz provides examples of the following tropes:

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    Tropes A to M 
  • Abandoned Area: Both Plastic Beach and the original Kong Studios, the latter while it was still standing.
  • Aborted Arc: Phase 3 was originally envisioned as a three-album project about the apocalypse, but it was cut short after Plastic Beach. The plot threads were eventually quietly resolved in the character books released in phase four, and the video for "The Lost Chord" in phase six effectively puts an end to the arc once and for all.
  • Abusive Parents: According to the backstory, Murdoc's father forced him to participate in embarrassing talent contests for money.
  • Adventure Game: The Plastic Beach game is the Gorillaz version of this, but it is worth noting that the DVDs and everything else digitally released by them works with this same notion in mind.
  • Affectionate Parody:
    • The cover art to Demon Days is very similar to the cover of Let It Be by The Beatles. And Humanz references both.
    • The opening to "Rock the House" is clearly a spoof of the famous trike scene in The Shining, complete with Creepy Twins.
    • The music video to "Saturnz Barz" is most likely a direct reference to the 1981 Canadian adult animated sci-fi film Heavy Metal.
    • The visualizer for "Sorcererz" is most likely a reference to Heavy Metal as well.
  • All Part of the Show: Nobody noticed that the helicopters in "El Mañana" were genuinely trying to kill Noodle until after the filming was finished.
  • All There in the Manual: Rise of the Ogre reveals a lot of information on the character's antics and history.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The band came back for Phase 2, only to find Kong overrun with zombies.
  • Always Night: Demon Days as an album conceptually takes place in what Damon Albarn describes as an endless night, in reflection on the state of the world. Celebrity Harvest was also going to take place in this setting as well.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Depending on the picture, Murdoc's skin is either sort-of-normal olive tone or very obviously green. The change is explained in Rise of the Ogre as being the result of tanning.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Preteen Noodle caused a bit of Viewer Gender Confusion on occasion.
  • Amusing Injuries: 2D sustains quite a few, although it can also creep into Fridge Horror when you realize that he doesn't recover like the typical cartoon character, and in fact has developed an addiction to painkillers as a result.
  • Animal Motif: Apes, for obvious reasons. Noodle seems to be developing a cat motif, if the video for "Strobelite" is anything to go by.
  • Animated Music Video: Logical Extreme; every single music video is animated due to the nature of the band. However, this can range anywhere from fully animated, to Roger Rabbit Effect (miniature models are frequently used), to Chroma Key with live actors on a sound stage.
  • Arc Number: 23 — 2D's birthday, his tattoo, Noodle's obsession with it, her number in the Supersoldier project, etc.
  • Arc Words: The word "plastic" shows up repeatedly in almost every song on Plastic Beach.
  • Art Evolution: The artwork for Gorillaz has become more and more detailed and complex overtime. To really drive this home, compare what the band looked like back in Phase One to what they looks like today.
  • Art Shift: This happens in the Song Machine episode Pac-Man, where Noodle switches art styles a few times when watching Schoolboy Q record his verse, with one style being an Animesque style, and another being in the style of Peanuts. Apparently, shifting styles is a new ability she's gained, and nobody in the band knows where it came from.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Murdoc refers to his pet raven with male pronouns but has made mention of it laying eggs — though perhaps it's just Murdoc's biology failure and not the creators; nobody ever said that captain Crazy Awesome there knows that much about birds.
    • That, and apparently brain damage turns your hair blue. Possibly crosses over with It Runs on Nonsensoleum.
    • In real life, eight-ball fractures — or hyphemas — are not permanent. They also don't cover the entire eye; only the iris and pupil.
  • Aside Glance:
    • Bruce Willis in the "Stylo" music video looks right into the camera twice.
    • 2D, Murdoc and Noodle in the "19-2000" video.
    • Murdoc does this after spotting the manatee through the submarine car's periscope in the "On Melancholy Hill" video.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: "The Lost Chord" features Leee John dressed up as a giant shackled sea god rise up out of the water and begin indiscriminately destroying Plastic Beach (along with the graveyard of remnants from the Plastic Beach storyline) while singing about wanting to be free. He sinks back into the water just as he came.
  • Audience Participation Song:
    • At their Glastonbury performance, Albarn repeated the song "Pirate Jet" about five times until the audience started singing along.
  • Author Appeal: In typical Jamie Hewlett fashion (of Tank Girl fame), the characters love to smoke cigarettes, have bad teeth and all of the women love to wear hot pants.
  • Auto-Tune:
    • It seems to have been used for the backing vocals of "Broken". They're heavily layered and pushed back into the mix behind the lead (non-autotuned) vocals, though, so it's hard to tell.
    • Popcaan is an artist whose vocals are always autotuned, and his vocals on "Saturnz Barz" are no exception.
    • "Momentz" also uses autotune for parts of Posdnuos' verses.
    • "Duetz" is a 2D solo song with completely autotuned vocals.
    • It's used throughout "Mutant Genius," Spacemonkeyz' remix of "New Genious (Brother)."
    • "19-2000 (Soulchild Remix)" uses autotune as well for the chorus.
    • "Friday 13th" has the featured artist, Octavian, singing in auto-tune in some parts of the song.
    • Similarly to Popcaan, 6lack is an artist whose vocals are primarily auto-tuned, including his vocals in "The Pink Phantom". 2D uses an autotune effect for some parts of the song as well.
    • The chorus to "The Valley of The Pagans" is sung by 2D in auto-tune.
  • Ax-Crazy: Cyborg Noodle seems to enjoy combat an awful lot for a robot.
  • Bare Your Midriff:
    • Noodle on several occasions, most notably during the "DARE" video.
    • Cyborg Noodle does it, too, in "O2 Priority Walk".
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: 2D, Murdoc, and Russel, respectively. Noodle is all three.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Murdoc's older brother Hannibal's berserk button was apparently Murdoc using his (Hannibal's) record player without permission, as this was what earned Murdoc the second and third fractures of his nose.
    • Don't mention the Paula incident to 2D.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Throughout Phase 3, we've seen the 2D is less cheerful and carefree when he isn't high on pain killers. In the iTunes session interview, he actually physically attacked Murdoc when he brought up the Paula Cracker incident, which he would have never done previously.
  • Big Bad: The Boogieman was this in Phase 3. Whether or not that's changed as of "DoYaThing" is currently unknown.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • When Noodle joined the band, she almost only spoke Japanese. Some of the lyrics of "Left Hand Suzuki Method" are in Japanese (provided by Cibo Matto singer Miho Hatori).
    • "Faust" also has Japanese lyrics which approximately translate the English ones.
    • Lastly, "Latin Simone" has Spanish lyrics, provided by Buena Vista Social Club alumni Ibrahim Ferrer.
    • "Désolé" is a case of trilingual bonus: English, French and Bambara, courtesy of Malian musician Fatoumata Diawara.
    • "With Love to an Ex": Moonchild Sanelly sings part of the lyrics in her native Xhosa.
  • Bilingual Dialogue:
    • One of the web shorts has Russel talking with Noodle, with Russel talking in English and Noodle in Japanese.
    • The web short advertising the band's collaboration with G-Shock has Mr. Ibe talking to Noodle and 2D in Japanese whilst they reply in English.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Elton John is presented with this, or rather, "The Pink Phantom" video shows that his piano and his own stylized glasses are producing a gaussian glare from the lighting, which makes him glow.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Series Fauxnale "DoYaThing" features the band back together in London, sharing a house with each other. The Cyborg is gone, Noodle seems to finally be happy and peaceful again and the Boogieman seems to have turned over a new leaf and is now living with the band. However, Murdoc received no punishment for his deed during Phase 3, his relationship with 2D has remained terrible at best, Russel is still a giant, and they are currently being haunted by the spirit of Andre 3000. Made even more bittersweet by the ending, where 2D receives an eviction notice, meaning the band once again has nowhere to go, but is actually overjoyed by the news as it means he may finally be able to get away from the insanity Murdoc brought to him and live a normal life. That is, until 2017 when Humanz released.
  • Blah Blah Blah: "Rockit" shifts between lyrics and "blah blah blah".
  • Bland-Name Product: The cover art for their first album features the group in a Geep, and we all know what kind of car that is supposed to be based on.
  • Blinding Bangs: Phase 2 Noodle and Cyborg Noodle have hair covering their eyes.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: 2D and Murdoc are one of the most well known western examples, with 2D as the boke and Murdoc as the tsukkomi.
  • Brainless Beauty: Invoked purposefully with 2D, who is meant to be the archetypal stupid, pretty frontman.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    • 2D once introduced himself on a radio interview by saying "Hi, my name's 2D, and I'm the singer, and I play the piano, and I need the toilet..."
    • Murdoc chose the middle of another interview as an appropriate time to claim that he lost his virginity at age nine.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Murdoc shrugged off potential murder charges after using the island crash in "El Mañana" to kill his stalker on the grounds that "I'm a cartoon, mate. You'd have a hard time pinning anything on me. I don't even have fingerprints."
  • Break-Up Song:
    • "The Pink Phantom" details a failed relationship that the narrator(s) did their hardest to make work, alternating between wanting to hold on and just giving up the ghost (so to speak) as their ex has long disappeared.
    • "Dead Butterflies" also details 2D at the end of his rope after a failed relationship, with the titular image representing him in his depression.
  • The Bus Came Back: The band's done this a few times not with characters, but with iconic locations:
    • Kong Studios, located in Essex, was featured during Phase 1 and 2 through the band's website as their home, but it was abandoned following the events of "El Mañana", became infested with zombies, and was burned to the ground by Murdoc in 2008, leading to the new island home/studio of Plastic Beach. However, the name was brought back during the Humanz era as "Kong Solar Studios" (effectively just a trailer home), and with Song Machine, the band founded a new Kong Studios in West London.
    • Plastic Beach itself was abruptly abandoned following Phase 3's tumultuous cancellation, with the band since moving back to the mainland. However, at the end of the "Valley of the Pagans" video, after taking a portal to ride around Los Santos, the band ends up taking another portal that dumps them out in the middle of the ocean with Plastic Beach prominently in the background, almost a decade since its last appearance. It ends up becoming the setting for the following video for "The Lost Chord"... where it ends up climactically destroyed and sunk for good.
  • Call-Back:
    • "Broken" references "Glitter Freeze".
    • Noodle's transmission (which appears as an epilogue in Rise of the Ogre), has her saying "Hello", and "Is anybody there?" several times. In their first album, the song "M1A1" featured a sound bite from Day of the Dead (1985) that said the exact same lines, word for word.
    • The Humanz cover is done in the style of the Demon Days cover, except each band member is rendered in a photorealistic style.
    • "Out of Body" references "Busted & Blue". "Busted & Blue" itself has a lyrical/melodical callback to "Saturnz Barz".
  • Calling Your Attacks: The video-game Noodle in the short Gorillabitez cartoon, "The Game of Death".
  • The Cameo:
    • Vince Staples, Posdnous, and Jehnny Beth (all Humanz collaborators) make cameo appearances in the "Strobelite" video. In addition, Murdoc and Russel's voice actors, Phil Cornwell and Remi Kabaka, appear in the video as the man at the bar and he trap artist, respectively.
    • Jack Black appears as the guitarist in the video for "Humility", as does Remi Kabaka.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The events shown in the video for "DoYaThing" were retroactively made invalid by the "Books of..." at the start of Phase 4, which pick directly up from the animatic of "Rhinestone Eyes" and lead into Humanz. This interview with Jamie Hewlett (in character as Murdoc) implies that "DoYaThing" takes place in a parallel universe.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: At the start, Gorillaz was more lighthearted; it had the funny Gorillabitez cartoons, 2D was far happier, Russel still had Del and the band generally seemed to be more at peace with each other. Then came Phase 2, which had Del taken away from Russel and "El Mañana"'s video in which Noodle was apparently KILLED. The following Phase 3 took things down an even darker route, having Murdoc make a pretty sinister robot version of Noodle and push the formerly cheerful 2D to the edge of his sanity by kidnapping him and treating him in the way that only a monster would (including forced drug use.)
    • Cerebus Rollercoaster: Phase 4 onwards however seem to go for a more lighter direction, the band is more at peace with each other, 2D is more confident, Russel seems to be fairly normal or happier at least, and Noodle didn't seem to suffer any drama from the events of Phase 2 and 3 and is shown to be better than she was. Phase 6 even has a revamped version of Kong Studios!
  • Changed for the Video: The video for "Clint Eastwood" has a short musical intro that isn't on other versions.
  • Character Blog:
    • Murdoc Niccals has his own Twitter page.
    • From June 2010 onwards each member of the band — including Cyborg Noodle — has his/her own twitter page.
    • Since 2016, Noodle has her own Instagram page
  • Character Development: Overtime the band change as people, for better or for worse. Murdoc continues to move further and further down the slope of anti-heroism and steadily loses his sanity along with it, 2D begins to realize how terrible his life actually is and becomes the Only Sane Man, Noodle goes from a hyper active kid to a mature, focused Supersoldier badass and Russel becomes progressively more withdrawn from reality.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Starting with the cover art of Humanz, each band member is occasionally associated with a colour: 2D is red, Noodle is blue, Russell is yellow/orange and Murdoc (appropriately enough) is green.
  • Comically Missing the Point: 2D really doesn't get Sudoku.
  • Comically Small Bribe: The prize for the humiliating talent contest Murdoc's father made him perform in as a child was "£2.50 and the chance to humiliate yourself further in the biannual county finals."
  • Compressed Vice: In the Song Machine episode "PAC-MAN", 2-D becomes addicted to a Gorillaz-themed Pac-Man arcade machine and plays the game nonstop for hours until Noodle goes to unplug said machine. The lyrics of the song itself also allude to the unhealthy habits of keeping yourself numbed through methods of escapism.
  • Concept Album: More like a concept band. Gorillaz has a fairly fleshed out lore that has unfolded across their history. That being said, Plastic Beach is probably the most clear-cut example of a concept album in their discography.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: The video to "The Lost Chord" opens up with the band back on Plastic Beach under somewhat familiar circumstances: Murdoc inexplicably wakes up wearing The Boogieman's mask, Russel is giant-sized and Noodle emerges from his mouth (a reference to the ill-fated "Rhinestone Eyes" video), while 2D pukes out a miniature version of the whale that terrorized him during Phase 3.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • On Plastic Beach, 2D makes a reference to the organ-transplant game from Phase 2's site.
    • Cyborg Noodle has the same hand-in-a-fist logo on her shirt in "Stylo" and "On Melancholy Hill" that Noodle had on her shirt back during Phase 1.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Murdoc's sentence for running over 2D and putting him in a coma involved having to look after him.
  • Cool Car:
    • The "Geep" in "19-2000" certainly qualifies.
    • The "Stylo" car may count as well.
    • The Jaguar Formula E. Especially when Noodle's behind the wheel.
      Noodle: Lovely runner. Needs a bit more front wing, understeers a bit in the fast. Wouldn't you agree?
  • Cool Helmet: Noodle wore a few when she was a kid, including but not limited to the kamikaze helmet.
  • Cool Mask:
    • Noodle has one stylized to resemble both a cat's face and a butterfly, complete with cat-like ears.
    • 2D has a clown-like mask in "Stylo", "On Melancholy Hill" and "Rhinestone Eyes".
  • Crapsack World: This is a world in which someone like Murdoc Niccals was trusted with the life of a coma patient. Also a world in which he is allowed to have joint custody over Noodle.
  • Costume Porn: Since the Limited Wardrobe trope universally found in other cartoons is averted and they instead have Unlimited Wardrobe, the borderline obsessive fixation on detail in Jamie Hewlett's art style often results in this.
  • Creepy Child:
    • Young Murdoc was described by an old schoolmate as "a creepy little runt", and he does look pretty darn sinister in the artwork.
    • Cyborg Noodle in Phase 3 can be damn creepy at times.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Murdoc has mentioned disguising himself as a woman a couple of times on his Twitter page, though we have yet to see any pics of the same.
  • Creepy Crows: When they lived in the original Kong Studios, Murdoc had a red-eyed pet raven named Cortez who he often fed eyeballs for food.
  • Crossover: In the album The Now Now, Ace from The Powerpuff Girls served as the bands temporary replacement bassist for Murdoc while he was in prison.
  • Cute Bruiser: Noodle.
  • Cut Short: Phase 3 was supposed to be a trilogy of albums with an epic plot featuring the apocalypse. Only one of these albums was released and the plot never really ended up going anywhere as a result.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: The MTV Cribs episode for the band has Murdoc describing Russel as the best drummer in Gorillaz. He then backtracks, stating he himself might be better.
  • Darker and Edgier: Just compare Phase 1 to Phase 2. Somehow made darker in Phase 3, what with the Cyborg Noodle, Murdoc, a 2D that seems to be on the edge of insanity, and a giant-sized Russel. And ironically, the music and the art style is brighter and slicker.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Murdoc. Dastardly was even shown as Jamie listed the influences for the Gorillaz characters in the 2001 mockumentary Charts of Darkness.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • "DARE" and "El Mañana" feature Noodle, and Noodle only. The other three makes cameos in "DARE"; Murdoc is the only one with lines and speaks only a sentence. Noodle says in an interview that the reason 2D and Russel were WTFing during the video is because she didn't warn any of them that she was going to record the clip.
    • Russel and Noodle both barely make any appearances during phase 3, and the video for Broken features just them and nothing else. The video is made entirely of footage of Noodle playing the melodica to the song while Russel holds her up for the camera.
    • "Rock the House", which includes the band members but is focused on and sung completely by Del.
    • Music-wise, Gorillaz was almost entirely composed by Russel, Demon Days by Noodle, Plastic Beach by Murdoc and The Fall and The Now Now by 2D.
    • Phase 4 began with the release of four multimedia "books", each focusing on what a specific band member had been doing since the end of Phase 3. After each book was released, a promotion such as an interview or commercial featuring the member the book focused on was released not long after.
    • "Sleeping Powder" features 2D only as a response to criticism of his lack of appearances on the "Humanz" album.
    • "Get Lost with Gorillaz" is a series of telegrams that gives updates on what each character is doing at the time they're posted, with each character getting their own chapter.
  • The Dead Can Dance: The "Clint Eastwood" video features the band — or at least Murdoc — being attacked by "Thriller"-dancing zombie apes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Weirdly enough, 2D becomes one in Phase 3.
  • Deal with the Devil: By Murdoc, the cause of the band's success. Recent backstory and the flashback in "Rhinestone Eyes", imply that he made said deal with the Boogieman.
  • Death Glare: In the Plastic Beach online game, seeing Murdoc's "happy face" isn't exactly worth what it took to rescue him...
  • Deface of the Moon: In the music video for "Strange Timez", among the various antics the band has while on the moon is Russel doing donuts across the surface. When they leave, we see that he used them to write out "BE THE CHANGE".
  • Demonic Possession: Russel during Phase 1 and 2 would occasionally be possessed by his former crew, notability in Clint Eastwood.
  • Demoted to Extra: While 2D, Murdoc and Noodle all have fairly balanced screen time. Russel continues to fall into the background with each passing phase to the point where he barely does anything at all across Phase 3.
  • Denser and Wackier: Compared to the previous two Phases, Phase 4 seems to have gone back to Phase 1's wacky and plotless set up. In addition, the band, which had become increasingly more dysfunctional over time, seems to finally be (mostly) getting along again.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Not outright stated, but heavily and repeatedly implied in Murdoc's case. There's this gem from the Gorillaz official forums:
    Fan: Have you picked up a nice boy with a pair of chopsticks yet?
    Noodle: That is very funny. Murdoc says that he can pick up boys with chopsticks but he has used his dictaphone. I do not understand this.
  • Determinator: Russell swimming to Plastic Beach in Phase 3.
  • Deus Angst Machina: The portal that whisks them away from Los Santos takes them back to the Plastic Beach. Nobody has a good time there.
  • Diegetic Switch: In the "19-2000" video, Murdoc switches on the radio and 2D and Noodle sing along to it.
  • Direct Line to the Author: Rise of the Ogre maintains that Damon and Jamie are the band's mentor/producer and video director, respectively.
  • The Ditz:
    • 2D. As of Phase 3 he seems to have gotten a little bit smarter — at least to eloquently express how much he hates Murdoc, anyway. However, it could be that he is actually sober for once, unless Murdoc is giving him pain meds.
    • Pelican from Plastic Beach is like this even more than 2D, much to Seagull's chagrin.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After years of torment and harassment, 2D finally lashes out at Murdoc in the iTunes interview, which he would have never done before.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: At one point in "The Pink Phantom", both 2D's and Elton John's grand pianos start to... extend.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: An incompetent cop shows up in the "Stylo" video, and naturally he has coffee and a box of donuts. Even when he's about to be overtaken by the Boogieman, the last thing he does is try to reach for them.
  • Doorstop Baby: Murdoc and Noodle.
  • Dramatic Thunder: This is a common trope in Gorillaz imagery.
    • "Clint Eastwood" constantly features this throughout it, to the point of the video ending in sunrise.
    • "Rock The House" begins and ends with this for its intro and outro, in a similar vein to the "Clint Eastwood" video
    • "Saturnz Barz" features this just before Gorillaz are about to open the door to the Spirit House
    • "Garage Palace" and its visualizer features constant shots of thunder throughout it as well.
  • Dream Within a Dream: The "DARE" video.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The video for "The Valley of the Pagans" features the band going on a manic joyride across Los Santos with Noodle behind the wheel, resulting in high speeds and occasional collisions with the police. She and 2D appear to be enjoying the ride, while Murdoc and Russel are a little less so.
  • Dug Too Deep: The Strangefolk end up causing the Monkey to erupt whilst mining it in "Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head".
  • Dysfunction Junction: Nobody in this band seems to be mentally stable.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The "Superfast Jellyfish" logo appears on a billboard in the video for "Stylo".
  • Eclipsed by the Remix: While the original "19-2000" is still respected in its own right, the Soulchild remix of the song had significantly further reach in its success to the point that some actually think it is the original. Considering it was engineered to have crossover appeal, this is a possible example of an invoking.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Evangelist sure is... tentacle-y. However, the Boogieman is a more clear-cut case as the Evangelist is apparently good.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: 2D's got a mild case of this. It goes away completely when he sings, for obvious reasons.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The last spoken verse of "Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head".
  • Enemy Mine: Implied in the lyrics to "Rhinestone Eyes":
    This storm brings strange loyalties, and skies.
  • Enforced Method Acting:invoked
    • Rise of the Ogre reveals that the band wasn't told about the 300-foot elk at the end of the "19-2000" video so they'd react to it authentically.
    • Noodle did know the island was going to be shot down in "El Mañana", but the stunt helicopters didn't show up; the ones depicted are actually trying to kill her, and everyone thought it was All Part of the Show until too late.
    • 2D's and Russel's reactions during their brief appearances in the "DARE" music video are not acted. Noodle didn't tell anyone that she was going to record the video, so the other members were genuinely wondering what on earth was going on.
    • According to Murdoc, the "Stylo" video was not scripted and the car chase-scene was accidentally filmed by the camera crew that was following Murdoc at the time.
  • Ensemble Cast: Other than Russel, the remaining three members of the band have pretty equal stake for the title of The Protagonist. Murdoc tends to drive the plot, Noodle's past is one of the main story arcs, and 2D is the Face of the Band and the viewpoint character during the majority of events.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "Opium" is a nearly 7 minute track that spends its first two minutes building up an increasingly elaborate drum beat before anyone sings a note.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Murdoc seemed genuinely distressed when finding out the real Noodle was under attack by pirates, and he immediately rushed to help her — it couldn't be simply for the sake of the album because he still had Cyborg Noodle.
  • Everyone's Baby Sister: Noodle, being the youngest of the Gorillaz roster, tends to be treated like a little sister by the others, who are older than her by a few decades. Even Murdoc has a soft spot for her.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Found on every album, to varying extents.
    • Rise of the Ogre mentions things such as "chucking ostrich eggs at sheets of metal and leaping into buckets" as some of the work that went into creating their self-titled debut album.
    • "We Are Happy Landfill" has, among other things, car horns screeching throughout the track.
    • "Seattle Yodel" featured a novelty toy picked up from a shop in Seattle.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Well, the band is called Gorillaz, the members look like Little Bit Beastly ape-men, and gorillas and monkeys often show up in their music videos.
  • Evil Laugh:
    • The repeated laughter in "Feel Good Inc."
    • Murdoc does a pretty effective one at the start of the "Clint Eastwood" video.
    • Murdoc also gives a few evil cackles in the "Hey, our toys have arrived!" G-Bite.
    • "The Apprentice" features this element occurring in the background of the track.
    • "Charger" has evil laughter from the song's collaborator Grace Jones.
  • Eye Beams: Used by the sea god (Leee John) in "The Lost Chord" to destroy Plastic Beach.
  • Eyeless Face: 2-D appears to have this, but it's actually a case of hyphema caused by the injuries Murdoc gave him on D-Day giving him 8-Ball Fracture so severe that the blood leakage causes his eyes to appear completely black.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Noodle in Phase 1.
  • Eye Scream: 2D's backstory, which consisted of Murdoc first ramming a truck into one of his eyes, then ending up hurting the other one during Murdoc's ill-advised car stunt. Ouch.
  • Eyes Never Lie: The Happyfolk and Strangefolk in "Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head".
  • Fading into the Next Song:
    • The album versions of "Dirty Harry" and "Feel Good Inc." run together with some seriously creepy laughter.
    • "Don't Get Lost in Heaven" flows almost perfectly into "Demon Days"; so well you can only tell the song change by looking at the track switch in the device you are using it to play. And for vinyl fans, good luck telling when "DGLH" becomes "Demon Days".
    • The music video for "Stylo" leads directly into "On Melancholy Hill".
    • All over the place on The Fall. One place is in "Shy-Town", which flows into "Little Pink Plastic Bags" which in turn flows into "The Joplin Spider".
    • One of the wailing synths that ends "Superfast Jellyfish" segues into the very start of "Empire Ants".
    • "Andromeda" ends on a beeping noise that becomes the intro to "Busted and Blue".
    • "The Non-Conformist Oath" ends on the first few notes of "Submission", but intentionally stops to wait for the audience to stop laughing before starting over.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Strobelite", in both the album version and the radio edit.
  • Fanservice / Fan Disservice:
    • Murdoc fits one or both in everything he's in. In about half of his appearances he's naked, shirtless, and constantly gyrating in one way or another. Special mention goes to his appearance in "Saturnz Barz", where he spends the majority of the video naked with only pixelation covering his crotch...And for a few hours the 360 version didn't have it.
    • 2D could fall into either category as well, given his looks, though he's meant as the Brainless Beauty of the band.
    • The cut "5/4" music video was to have featured several scantily clad women, full-frontal nudity, and an opening shot of an anonymous girl masturbating. Once again, Jamie Hewlett's art style makes it tow the line between erotic and off-putting.
    • However old you were when the video for "Dare" came out probably determined whether or not you found Noodle's dancing sexy.
    • Then there's 2D wearing ridiculously short jogging shorts (practically underwear) that show off his long, smooth legs in the "Humility" music video, not to mention him spending most of the video riding around on his roller skates and dancing in a way that consists of him frequently shaking his hips around. Even with the usual artstyle, it's hard to see it as anything other than fanservice.
  • Fanservice Pack: Noodle is made a bit more feminine for Demon Days, as she ages in real-time and went from ten to fourteen between albums. By Phase 3, both Noodle and the Cyborg are much more femininely shaped, and Noodle wears a dress and lipstick.
  • Five-Man Band: They fit a solid Five-Man Band in Phase 1, but become a less cohesive group afterward:
    • The Leader: Murdoc is the one that drives the plot forward and the one who got the band together in the first place.
    • The Lancer: 2D, due to his friendship with Murdoc and the fact that the two are polar opposites in personality; 2D is dim and sweet-natured, Murdoc is a scarily cunning psychopath.
    • The Big Guy: Russel looks the part (but he's closer to a Gentle Giant... as Del says in "Clint Eastwood," it's "not muscles but percussion he provides"), but Del fits much better, due to his bombastic Boisterous Bruiser personality. Since Del was reaped, Russel has occasionally filled this spot when his Good Is Not Nice buttons are pushed.
    • The Smart Guy: Russel. He's much more level headed than most of the group, not to mention he does a lot of the composing for the band.
    • The Chick: Noodle is the one who holds the band together and seems to be the only one that the other three really care about. During her absence in Phase 3, Gorillaz remained broken until Phase 4.
  • Flat "What": De La Soul gave this response to a sample of David Attenborough saying "The sea has gone silent" on "Superfast Jellyfish" from Plastic Beach.
  • Flowery Insults: Murdoc comes up with a few doozies.
  • Foreign-Language Tirade: In her introduction video, Noodle initially talks about herself in English, but suddenly starts cursing at her video game in Japanese.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the video for "Stylo", we see signs for "Superfast Jellyfish" and "Sweepstakes" which are both titles of other singles from the Plastic Beach album.
    • "Sleeping Powder" was released after Damon Albarn thought that 2D felt a little unrepresented in the Humanz album, what with singing a little less than usual, and there's a bigger emphasis on collabs. This foreshadowed his major presence in the new album, The Now Now, released next year, where there's just 3 collabs (George Benson in "Humility", and Snoop Dogg and Jamie Principle in "Hollywood") in the whole album, and 2D sings in all the songs.
    • Jamie Hewlett posting a video of Ace bullying a kid with a ball months before the band announced that he was the new bassist that would replace Murdoc.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Sanguine: 2D, a kind-hearted and talented simpleton, who is often a Butt-Monkey and mostly regards his surroundings with an absentminded daze.
    • Choleric: Murdoc, who is unhygenic, irritable, cruel, and generally a big piece of shit to almost everyone who meets him.
    • Melancholic: Noodle, a Cheerful Child who matured enough to take a sort of leadership stance in the band by Phase 2, then became a Broken Bird in Phase 3.
    • Phlegmatic: Russel, a Gentle Giant who doesn't emote much due to the tragedies he suffered in the past, but has a softer side that he reveals to those he considers his friends.
  • Free Wheel: In the Music Video for "19-2000".
  • Freudian Excuse: Murdoc blames his father for the way he turned out.
  • Gainax Ending: The music video for "Hallelujah Money" randomly ends with a sample of SpongeBob SquarePants loudly sobbing. If you look into it, you'd learn that within the context of the episode it comes from, it's as a response to Mr. Krabs telling him "You're fired!", referencing Donald Trump's infamous catchphrase from The Apprentice. This is fitting as the song is criticizing him.
  • Genre Roulette: Numerous albums don't seem to stick to any one or two particular styles of music. Plastic Beach changes among numerous musical genres over the course of the album, and "Song Machine" doesn't have a single song that remotely sounds similar to any of the others.
  • Gentle Giant: Russel. That moniker became more appropriate than ever when he became gigantic from ingesting loads of polluted material on his way to Plastic Beach.
  • The Ghost: Pretty much every character outside of the band and a select few others is only referred to in passing and never actually appears in person.
  • Giftedly Bad: Originally, Murdoc's singing voice was described as sounding like a strangled crow. He insisted in RoTO that "Technically, my voice is a lot better than 2D's." This, however, suffers from Flip-Flop of God. In RoTO they also say that he sung the song "White Light", while closer to rapping than really singing, which wasn't an awful singing voice, and in his "Session Obsession" interview he sang along with a song and was pretty damn good. That said, Phil Cornwell (the voice of Murdoc) may have forgotten he wasn't supposed to sing well. Or, if you prefer an in-character explanation, maybe he just sounds worse if he's trying too hard. According to a recent Pirate Radio interview, he did the (heavily distorted) vocals on "Detroit".
  • Girl in a Box:
    • Noodle, who was shipped to the other band members in a FedEx crate not long after they placed an ad for a new band member in the NME magazine.
    • Gender-switched in 2D's ident at the beginning of Phase 3.
    • "The Book of Noodle" reveals the former mailed herself back to Britain before Phase 4.
  • Girl with Psycho Weapon: Both Noodles have some pretty cool guns.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: "On Melancholy Hill" has two. First when Real Noodle kills one of the pirates pilots we see some blood on the canopy of his plane but nothing else. Secondly, we see the jellyfish blood but we don't see them actually see them going through the propeller of one of the submersibles. Also averted when Cyborg Noodle pukes up a live octopus in the same video in close up.
  • Gratuitous French:
    • "We Got the Power" contains a repeated clip of Jehnny Beth saying "On a le pouvoir de s'aimer, okay?", which translates to "We have the power to love another, okay?"
    • A vast part of "Désolé" is in French (the title meaning "Sorry"), featuring Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara in her native languages (the chorus is in fact in Bambara, another national language of Mali). The "Gratuitous" part comes from 2D, who's shown in the video reading from an English-to-French phrasebook while singing at one point.
  • Gratuitous Japanese:
    • Noodle speaks Japanese in "Left Hand Suzuki Method" before providing rough English translations.
    • "MLS" has a featured contribution by Japanese band CHAI, who mix their verses with Japanese and non-native English.
  • Gratuitous Spanish:
    • Exhibited by "El Mañana" and "Latin Simone (¿Qué Pasa Contigo?)", although to more extents with the latter. For "Latin Simone", it's not just in the title—the whole song is in Spanish (although an English version was released several years later on G Sides).
    • In "Dead Butterflies", Roxani Arias raps half of her verse in English, other half in Spanish.
  • The Grim Reaper: Appears to have it in for Russel, what with directly being involved in the gang shooting which killed Russel's friends and later removing Del's soul from him, for as-yet-unrevealed reasons. Also, judging from Murdoc's tweets regarding the "On Melancholy Hill" events, maybe the Boogieman.
  • Groin Attack:
    • In the "Clint Eastwood" video, a zombie ape reaches up from the ground, grabs Murdoc's crotch, and yanks him down. According to him in Rise of the Ogre, it hurts rather a lot.
    • The "Rock the House" video — at least Murdoc got to wear a protective cup for that one, but 2D didn't.
    • Murdoc ends up getting hit in the crotch by an asteroid whilst flying around in the "Saturnz Barz" video.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: The first 38 seconds of this clip is just Murdoc staring at the camera — cold sore, oily skin, nose hairs and all.
  • Halloween Town:
    • Kong Studios and its surrounding environments are basically this, with Kong Studios serving as Haunted Headquarters for Gorillaz that is defined by its supernatural elements
    • The Spirit House, which was basically a successor to the original Kong Studios, is an example of this as well.
  • Hand Cannon: Bruce Willis' revolver in the "Stylo" music video.
  • Hartman Hips: Noodle from Phase 2 onwards.
  • Haunted Headquarters:
    • Kong Studios, the studio where Gorillaz live in and produce all of their material. It was originally built on a hilltop above an abandoned graveyard in West Essex, England and was haunted by various zombies, demons, ghosts and other supernatural beings who reside in and around it. Today, a revamped Kong Studios is located in West London, being less haunted but still maintaining a haunting aesthetic.
    • The Spirit House being a haunted house also makes it this, as it's the primary environment Gorillaz lived in during phase 4.
    • Downplayed with the new Kong Studios debuting in Song Machine. While it looks quite ominous on the outside, it's a pretty normal place with a cozy and brightly-lit recording area. It is still haunted, by the Pink Phantom of the titular song who has the power to create the portals seen in the videos.
  • Haunted House: The setting of "Saturnz Barz" as the band goes house hunting. While seemingly smaller than all their previous homes, they discover that it's much, much bigger on the inner inside. Also, it's not as unoccupied as it looks.
  • The Heart: Noodle. The other three don't care much for each other — though, Russell and 2D get along a bit better with each other than Murdoc — but are willing to put up with each other for her sake. The band splits up after her apparent death in "El Mañana" during Phase 2, and while it did somewhat get together in Phase 3, it was only because Murdoc had to use force. With Noodle back as of Phase 4, Gorillaz is back as well.
  • Hell Is That Noise: At the 1:50 mark in The Speak It Mountains, Damon has inserted what sounds like digitally-altered screams of pain. It's actually a picture of a mountain that you can find by putting the song through a stereograph.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Russel and Del, the spirit who lived inside him. Described by Russ as his "life-long soul-brother".
    • In a much, much more twisted way, 2D and Murdoc could count as well.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Murdoc and the talent contests.
  • Hi, Mom!: 2D says this while introducing himself in a radio interview.
  • Homage: Does Damon Albarn have a copy of Krazy Kong by Wild Willy Barrett? "Don't Get Lost In Heaven" sounds a lot like "Return of Kong", what with the angelic backing harmony and the reggae-like rhythm. Put on top of this that Krazy Kong is about a monkey-like character who is a bit volatile.
  • Homoerotic Dream: Murdoc's dream in the "DARE" video, in which he wakes up next to Shaun Ryder.
  • Horrible Hollywood:
    • "Hollywood" zig-zags this idea. The song repeatedly juxtaposes the bright promises and temptations from the titular city with a more skeptical outlook, finding it far more dark, materialistic, and manipulative in reality, but with Jamie Principle's verses in particular, it seems to find it an in-between: it has everything you could ever want, but also everything you don't.
    • "The Valley of the Pagans" also has a mixed opinion. On one hand, the song celebrates Hollywood as a place of exciting debauchery and thrills equated closely to spiritual transcendence, but it also calls attention to the darker artificiality behind it; an escapist fantasy for people with a lot to escape from.
  • Human Mail: Noodle arrived at Kong Studios in a crate once, and traveled back from Japan by mail another time.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Boogieman in Phase 3. He looks like a man wearing a sinister gas mask, but there's something... off about him. He seems to be border on "eldritch".
  • I Call It "Vera": Murdoc's bass, "El Diablo".
  • Immune to Drugs: Murdoc has been perpetually drunk for several months and is still alive.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Ten years on and still no one can figure out just what 2D is singing in "Punk".
  • Instant Home Delivery: Noodle's crate arrived seconds after Murdoc put the phone down after placing an ad for a guitarist.
  • The Invisible Band: Prior to 2006 — the actual humans behind the music never presented themselves as Gorillaz, and live shows concealed the performers by putting them in silhouette or behind a movie screen. Since the Demon Days Live performance, however, they've essentially dropped The Masquerade.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Preteen Murdoc intentionally provoked a bully into breaking his nose.
  • Is That What They're Calling It Now?: Murdoc claimed he thought Russel was using an Unusual Euphemism when he mentioned he'd been "living in Ike Turner's basement." Russel actually meant it literally.
  • It's All About Me: Many of Murdoc's actions qualify him for this. He constantly refers to Gorillaz as "my band", he claims to own 2D and uses this as his excuse when he kidnaps him and keeps him against his will on Plastic Beach, and he actually wrote and released a song entitled "Murdoc Is God".
  • It Tastes Like Feet: Non-eating example; Noodle once claimed in an interview that Murdoc smells "like halitosis on toast".
  • Jerkass: Murdoc. Despite 2D treating him as a friend, he continues to treat the poor guy like shit, which gets worse with each Phase.
  • Kansai Regional Accent: Being from Osaka, Noodle always speaks with very thick, fast Osaka-ben when speaking in Japanese. Osaka-ben is a Japanese dialect that is typically harsher, but more relaxed and melodic than standard Japanese, with stronger emphasis on vowels and slang and a wider variation in pitch patterns and different consonants than usual Japanese. It's also typically associated with comedians and considered more humorous, being a very popular accent in Japanese entertainment. Think along the lines of an American New York or country accent or a British cockney accent.
  • Karma Houdini: Murdoc, again, especially with his abuse of 2D. Then his protection wears off in Phase 4, resulting in a Humiliation Conga off-screen. By Phase 5, he's in jail for unknown crimes, with his bandmates shedding no tears over it and even replacing him with Ace.
  • Kavorka Man: Murdoc, if the huge list of women who complained he slept with them and then stole their purses is anything to go by.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Among plenty of other things, Murdoc slaps one of the kids in the "Dirty Harry" video.
    • In the animatics for the "On Melancholy Hill" video, it seemed like taking the manatee was the Boogieman's intention all along. However, in the official video, he goes to leave without the manatee, then seems to reconsider and take the manatee with him just to be cruel!
    • In the "Humility" video, we have two instances: Ace taking a basketball from two players and popping it with a switchblade, to their unamusement; and Russel tripping 2D in the middle of rollerskating, then watches as 2D starts slipping and fumbling around like an idiot.
  • Kids Rock: A school choir sings the refrain of "Dirty Harry": "I need a gun / to keep myself from harm." The kids seen in the "Dirty Harry" video are apparently based on the children from that choir.
  • Killed Offscreen: Apparently, this was the fate of Daley. A skeleton in "The Lost Chord" lies on the beach next to the same patch and a similar pair of glasses to those he wore in "Doncamatic".
  • Killer Gorilla: A group of zombie gorillas show up in the music video for "Clint Eastwood".
  • Knockout Gas: In the short animated idents for Plastic Beach, 2D is kidnapped by Murdoc gassing him in his Beirut apartment.
  • Lamarck Was Right: 2D wasn't born with his trademark blue hair, but his multiple illegitimate children have somehow inherited it.
  • Last Note Nightmare:
    • "On Melancholy Hill" ends with an eerie bell chime that doesn't even remotely fit with the rest of the song.
    • There's also "M1A1", which has this trope in reverse — up until about 1:40, it's a clip from Day of the Dead (1985) that features a man shouting "Hello?! Is anyone there?!" and getting more and more desperate as time goes on... but then the song turns much more upbeat. You could turn M1A1 into a stereotypical Last Note Nightmare by putting it in reverse, but then you have Whole Song Nightmare...
    • "The Speak It Mountains" ends with what sounds like digitally-altered screams of pain. It's actually just a picture of a mountain that you can find by putting the song through a stereograph.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the video for "Friday 13th", Russell lip-syncs to the lyrics "I don't talk too much, man" (a notably deliberate choice as 2D is the only band member that says anything), which may be a comment on his relative silence compared to his bandmates.
  • Let's Meet the Meat: The jellyfishes' gormlessly happy expressions in the "Superfast Jellyfish" video give a distinct impression of this. Even more disturbingly, they still appear to be alive and sentient even after being microwaved and therefore appear to have been eaten alive.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: In the "Saturnz Barz (Spirit House)" video. Murdoc gleefully lampshades it.
  • Licensed Game: Parodied in "PAC-MAN" which features 2D playing a Gorillaz-themed version of Pac-Man which is just the same game but with tweaked character sprites featuring caricatures of the band.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Noodle and everyone in the band. Her relationship with 2D especially, is described by her as a "zen bond".
  • Literal Metaphor: In We are the Dury:
    Murdoc: I'm speaking metaphorically, D. I'm using the analogy of the chimney flue to describe the, um, passageways of our flowing creativity. The zombies, in this case, are used as a metaphor for blockages to the airways, figuratively speaking.
    2D: Really?
    Murdoc: No. There really are about six undead carcasses stuck up the studio chimney.
  • Little Bit Beastly: All members of the band look like humans with ape-like features, hence the name "Gorillaz".
  • Lord of the Ocean: In "The Lost Chord", Leee John portrays a gigantic, shackled, barnacle-covered and coral-crowned sea god who emerges from the ocean to destroy Plastic Beach.
  • Lyrical Cold Open:
    • The filtered 2D at the start of the Soulchild remix of "19-2000".
    • The immediately recognizable laughter that opens "Feel Good Inc.".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: More than a few.
    • An example would be "Superfast Jellyfish"; it's a happy, bouncy tune while its lyrics are about how we're overfishing till the point there is nothing living left in the sea. It could also be seen as a metaphor for the modern music industry, with people demanding entertainment "just in time for breakfast" and disregarding quality. Depending on how you interpret it, "Superfast Jellyfish" is either an environmentalist ballad or a scathing criticism of pop culture. Either way, it's pretty eerie.
    • "To Binge" seems like a happy, beachy song, but is actually a pretty heartbreaking song about being in love with a drug addict.
    • "Chalk Tablet Towers" has an upbeat, new wave-inspired pop instrumental, but the lyrics are about feelings of entrapment and harmful codependence, either on drugs or a former lover.
  • Machinima: The video for "The Valley of the Pagans" features the band taking a joyride throughout Grand Theft Auto V's Los Santos, merging animated footage of driving with in-game footage, even placing Beck's appearance through the in-game phone.
  • Madness Mantra: 2D's lyrics in "Stylo" qualify as this, considering he had been kidnapped by Murdoc and had his life uprooted by "this guy who just won't leave him alone", the whole Noodle situation, and singing it all while he was in the middle of a car chase that could have killed him. "Overload, overload, overload, comin' up to the..." And repeat.
  • Mad Scientist: Murdoc has shown himself to be one, putting Cyborg Noodle together with some of Noodle's DNA bits that he kept in a jar, robotic parts that he had shipped out to the island and a Noodle wig from Ebay.
    • In Song Machine, Murdoc builds an Orgone Accumulator to use as his own personal portal for the new Kong Studios after discovering that it had multiple portals that the other band members used that he was unaware of.
  • The Man in the Moon: In the "Strange Timez" video, Robert Smith's face is imposed over the moon (and later over a satellite). With the added context of the song itself (which is about how the world of 2020 is experiencing strange times), this establishes him as singing from the perspective of an outside observer, one coldly interpreting the Earth and humanity as merely going through the motions.
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words: All over the place in "Rhinestone Eyes":
    I'm a scary gargoyle on a tower
    That you made with plastic power
    Your Rhinestone Eyes are like, factories far away
    With the paralytic dreams that we all seem to keep
    Drive on engines till they weep with
    Future pixels in factories far away.
  • Medium Awareness: It seems to vary as to whether the characters are aware that they're cartoons. The puppet version of Murdoc is very much aware of the fact that he's a puppet, and that his voice was recorded by an actor weeks in advance. Resident Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant Murdoc also uses his status as a cartoon at one point to defend his lack of consequences for a murder he commits during the creation of the Demon Days album. In his words: "I'm a cartoon, mate. You'd have a hard time pinning anything on me. I don't even have fingerprints."
  • Medium Blending: The videos, the website and other related artwork fuse together cartoon drawings, CGI and real footage.
    • The first one, "Tomorrow Comes Today", uses real backgrounds behind the 2D characters.
    • Later clips, starting with "Clint Eastwood", mix traditional animation with many CG elements. In "19-2000", the Gorillaz themselves are in 3D for wide shots, though still 2D for close-ups.
    • Likewise, "Rock the House" has several CG-animated characters, including Del the Ghost Rapper and the inflatable gorilla cheerleaders.
    • "Feel Good Inc.", "Dare" and "Dirty Harry" add live-action to the mix (with guest stars De La Soul, Shaun Ryder and Bootie Brown, respectively).
    • Later clips have the characters more and more often in 3D, including for "live" performances. The MTV European Music Awards 2005 in Lisbon had the three-dimensional Gorillaz on stage, thanks to an updated version of the old Victorian parlour trick named "Pepper's Ghost". Repeated for the Grammy Awards 2006 in Los Angeles, this time alongside Madonna as guest-star.
    • In Phase 3, the music video for "Stylo" is almost entirely live-action with just three of the Gorillaz in quasi-realistic 3D (and Bruce Willis as the antagonist).
    • "On Melacholly Hill" returns the characters to 2D (save for Cyborg-Noodle who stay CG-rendered, to keep her appart from the real Noodle) amongst plenty 3D vehicles, creatures and backgrounds.
    • The clip for "Saturnz Barz" also has the group in 2D, CG demons interacting with them and very realistic backgrounds.
    • The "Sleeping Powder" video has a seemingly motion captured 2D dancing on top of Stock Footage background.
    • "The Pink Phantom" animates Elton John into the Gorillaz art style, but retains [6LACK] in live-action with a digitized filter applied.
    • "The Valley of the Pagans" has the exterior car shots recreated in Grand Theft Auto V, the interiors with the band traditionally animated and a live-action Beck appearing on the on-screen phone.
  • Mickey Mousing: In "PAC-MAN", Russel is hitting his punching bag in sync with the beat. He's literally beat boxing.
  • Missing Mom: Murdoc's mother.
  • Mondegreen:
    • How "DARE" came about, in a rare case of this trope being used to an advantage. The lyric was originally supposed to be "It's there", but Shaun Ryder kept pronouncing it like "It's dare", so they decided to make that the name of the song instead.
    • Initially people had difficulty deciphering the Bambara lyrics of "Désolé", thinking Fatoumata Diawara was singing in English along the lines of "But dear, I don't wanna die / I'm gonna have my lamé" (it's actually "ko teriya mana diya / a kana ma lamè").
    • Bizarrely (and possibly as a kind of joke on the audience), the official lyric videos for many songs on Song Machine are incorrect, often attributing lyrics based on this — what are the odds of listening to "PAC-MAN" and hearing "you can call me glad and cyborg" over "you can call me mad and stifled"? At one point in the video for "Simplicity", 2D's lyrics near the end of the song are simply "transcribed" as "cant make out what 2D is saying", suggesting that the videomaker is merely deciphering lyrics by ear rather than getting actual official word from the band itself.
  • Modesty Shorts: The storyboard for the cancelled "Rhinestone Eyes" shows Noodle wearing these under her shirt/dress.
  • Monochromatic Eyes:
    • 2D's are black, which were caused by his eight-ball fractured eyes. On occasion, he's depicted with white eyes.
    • Russel and Del have white eyes.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • When 2D starts singing in "Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head", it transitions from a nice fairy tale to a song where people are dying due to greed, though said message ultimately parallels what happens in the fairy tale.
    • On the Self-Titled Album, the clanging, ominous "Man Research (Clapper)" is followed by the frenzied and upbeat "Punk", which in turn leads into the slow-building, dub "Sound Check (Gravity)".
    • On Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez, the peppy "Chalk Tablet Towers" is followed by the wistful "The Pink Phantom". The respective lyrics are however much more in line.
  • Morality Chain / Morality Pet: Noodle to Murdoc, arguably the only thing keeping Murdoc from lapsing into a monster. Confirmed by his rapid moral decline after the events of "El Mañana", and the panicked tone of his Twitter posts upon discovering she's alive and in trouble.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Murdoc received a baccalaureate in Anti-Social Anthropology from Sodsworth Comprehensive school in his youth and took an open university course during his stay in Mexico, earning him a degree in "Amateur Administration of Pharmaceutical Medicine" and the title Doctor Niccals — "legally entitled to experiment on monkeys", apparently. See Mad Scientist above.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Deliberately invoked with 2D. His original bio included the words "Voice like an angel, arse like a satsuma." Murdoc even admits this is why he picked 2D to join the band in Rise of the Ogre. "Girls would go crazy for his looks!" From the iTunes Sessions:
    Murdoc: What an image. Tall, pretty, blue, spiky hair...
    2D: No eyeballs...
    Murdoc: No eyeballs... I knew that he had to be the frontman.
  • Multinational Team: 2D and Murdoc are English (2D comes from Sussex, Murdoc from Stoke-on-Trent), Russel is American and Noodle is Japanese. During Phase 5 Murdoc is replaced with Ace, another American.
  • Musical Squares:
    • Famously, Demon Days, as homage to The Beatles' Let It Be.
    • The digital releases of their fifth album Humanz features art of the band members in similar fashion to Demon Days before it.
  • Mythology Gag: The music video for "The Lost Chord" is essentially an extended homage to Plastic Beach and its storyline, and features appearances by Cyborg Noodle, the Boogieman's mask, Noodle's cat mask, a gigantic Russel, the whale that tortured 2D, and the island itself.

    Tropes N to Z 
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond:
    2D: I know there's a rumour going round that my real name is Stuart Tusspot, but that's not true. It's Pot. Stuart Pot.
Apparently only half-true; it was "Tusspot" when he was very young, but his father decided he didn't want Stuart to suffer the same teasing he did, so he changed the family name to "Pot" to head it off at the pass somewhat.
David Pot: But deep down both myself and Stu are still Tusspots.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Nothing sounds quite like them; a good approximation of their sound is "alternative hip-hop electronica". There's also a bit of Genre Roulette from song to song.
  • New Sound Album: Pretty much all of them following their self-titled debut. It's fair to say that Gorillaz doesn't bother putting out a new album unless they're doing something new.
    • Demon Days built off the foundation of their debut self-titled album and introduced a darker, more theatrical take of its sound with heavier and more political lyrics, as well as introducing more features to diversify things further.
    • Plastic Beach featured an even more eclectic variety of genres and sounds, as well as one of the most clear-cut album concepts surrounding the titular tropical trash heap. It also featured an even wider array of featured artists, firmly cementing Gorillaz' status as a massive collaborative project among its fans.
    • The Fall is a quieter immediate follow-up, but still manages to be a unique departure in of itself, featuring far less features, and containing more stripped-down, minimalist production inspired by ambient, blues, and chillwave. Also notable is that it was mainly composed through Damon's iPad using a number of different composition apps, and was based on his observations and feelings from traveling across the US while on tour.
    • Humanz once again returns to a fuller form, featuring much sleeker, modernized production with emphasis on electronic and R&B elements, as well as jam-packing the amount of collaborative crossovers Up to Eleven. Funnily enough, it also somewhat counts as Revisiting the Roots, as rather than trying to go for a cohesive thematic, it features a looser "assorted mixtape" vibe, hearkening back to their first album.
    • The Now Now is another Breather Episode album, once again cutting down on epic collaborations for a quainter aesthetic à la The Fall, but taking a much softer, retro-inspired sound based on genres such as soul, synthpop, and new wave.
    • Song Machine is an unusual case somewhat influenced by its format, being a series of assorted singles rather than songs designed to fit a cohesive album (although it has been compiled as such). Nevertheless, it continues the trend of Humanz by including lots of collaborations, but featuring more relaxing, upbeat, yet still eclectic tunes that primarily feature 2D. It's considered both a return to form in line with "classic" Gorillaz as well as a solid way of incorporating other artists without overshadowing the Gorillaz side of the music.
  • New Technology is Evil: The basis of "Busted and Blue", a lament on technology's dominating effect on humanity. Touched on in the preceding track, "Broken", which includes a verse about using television to fill in the gaps of a shaky relationship rather than working things out.
  • Nice Guy: 2D is one of the sweetest guys imaginable, too bad he spends all of his time with Murdoc.
  • Nice Hat: Murdoc and 2D both have a collection, Russel has his fez, and Cyborg Noodle has her hat.
  • Nice Shoes: Murdoc's famous Cuban-heeled boots.
  • No Fourth Wall: A strangely inconsistent case. Sometimes the band will directly address their status as fictional cartoon characters, other times they'll maintain the illusion of being real people.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: 2D's fights with Murdoc usually end up like this, with 2D getting beaten to a pulp. Particularly ugly in the iTunes interviews once chloroform is brought into the picture.
  • No Name Given: Noodle, who was named as such because it was the first thing she said to the other characters when she met them; it was the only English word she knew or could remember at the time.
  • Non-Appearing Title: There are many, though they usually make some sense.
    • Gorillaz
      • "Re-Hash", arguably a statement about repetitious pop music.
      • "5/4", the time signature of the song.
      • "New Genious [sic] (Brother)", though the word "brother" does appear.
      • "Clint Eastwood" includes a recurring sample from the theme of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
      • "Man Research (Clapper)"
      • "Punk"
      • "Sound Check (Gravity)", though, again, "gravity" does appear.
      • "Double Bass" is mostly instrumental, and does feature a lot of bass.
      • "19/2000" shares its name with the Cool Car the band drives in the music video, but also refers to the turn of the century, which is the main theme of the song.
      • "Latin Simone (Que Pasa Contigo)", again, includes the parenthetical but not the main title.
      • "Slow Country" involves the narrator moving away from the city.
    • Demon Days
      • "Dirty Harry" discusses gun violence— and the character was played by Clint Eastwood in the film.
      • "Feel Good Inc.", though the phrase "feel good" does appear.
      • "El Mañana" translates to "The Future", which is what the narrator is hoping for.
      • "Every Planet We Reach Is Dead", though an extended live version includes the phrase.
      • "Fire Coming Out of a Monkey's Head" does not appear in the song, but does appear on the very next song on the album.
    • Plastic Beach
      • "Empire Ants" describes mankind as ant-like in our organization.
      • "To Binge" has the narrator in love with a drug addict and unsure how to help her.
    • The Fall
      • "The Snake in Dallas", "Aspen Forest" and "Seattle Yodel" are instrumentals.note 
      • "Shy-Town" is a nickname for Chicago.
      • "The Joplin Spider" contains samples of Damon talking about a spider in Joplin, Missouri.
      • "Amarillo" was titled after the place where it was recorded.
      • "The Speak It Mountains"
      • "Bobby in Phoenix" features Bobby Womack and was recorded in Phoenix.
    • Humanz
      • "Ascension" does have a choir singing "higher!" repeatedly.
      • "Saturnz Barz" is never spoken as such, but does mention Saturn and its rings, and the protagonist repeatedly mentions going about bar-hopping in order to pick up girls to sleep with.
      • "Submission"
    • The Now Now
    • Song Machine
      • "Aries" barely subverts this by how its title is announced at the very beginning of the track, but otherwise, it doesn't appear in any of the proper lyrics.
      • "Friday 13th" is a rumination on misfortunes throughout life, especially one with drug-fueled excess.
      • "The Pink Phantom", though the single word "phantom" is mentioned several times.
  • Non Standard Game Over: In the interactive DVD Celebrity Take Down, an investigator is given the option of going into different rooms in Kong Studios, once there, he has a limited time to examine, if he stays for to long, an automatic cutscene is activated offhandedly disposing the intruder. It isn't pretty.
  • Noodle Incident: Punny Name aside...
    • Appropriately, Noodle's abduction into Hell, with Murdoc going to rescue her. For now, he's purposefully keeping most of what happened a secret in hopes of a movie deal. We're not even sure now that he actually even went to hell in the first place, he may have been drunk out of his skull. As mentioned rather explicitly below, Murdoc is an Unreliable Narrator at best.
    • Essentially the entirety of Phase 3 past the initial part is one of these due to it getting cut short. What was clearly an elaborate plot was half-explained by Murdoc, but then immediately proven false when the video for "DoYaThing" contradicts several of the explanations he gives.
  • Noodle People: To at least some extent, 2D, Murdoc and, appropriately, Noodle. Averted with Russel, who is comparatively short and fat.
  • No One Could Survive That!: The ending to the "El Mañana" video.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up:
    • Averted; the characters age in real time. Noodle is visibly older, Russel has grown and then shaved off a beard, and Murdoc's hair has started to turn grey and he's gained a noticeable beer gut. 2D has also gained a more lined texture to his face, though these may be stress lines considering Phase 3.
    • Ace appears at least 20 years older as the band's replacement bassists compared to his original appearance, with a thinning hairline to match.
  • Oh, Crap!: The reaction of Murdoc, 2D and Cyborg Noodle in the "Stylo" video upon the realization that they are being chased by Bruce Willis. And gets worse when they see the Hand Cannon Bruce has in hand.
  • Old Shame: In-universe; in Rise of the Ogre the characters reveal that they're very unhappy that they included "Rock the House" on their debut album, feeling that it doesn't fit their style at all, and are even more unhappy that they chose it for one of Phase 1's singles/videos at the urging of their label.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens:
    • Murdoc's lair. On the screens you can see video feed from rooms you've already been in, as well as a broken Vista screen, Murdoc's Website/Facebook page, the Matrix, a view of Kong Studios, and a corpse from the bunker.
    • The music video for "Feel Good Inc." has these.
  • One-Man Song: The band has song titles "Clint Eastwood" and "Dirty Harry", not that their names actually matter to the songs themselves.
  • Only Sane Man: Who holds the role switches with each Phase, mostly because the band falls more and more apart after each one. In Phase 1, Russel was the most calm and reasonable bandmate, but the loss of his literal soul brother between Phases causes him to breakdown, forcing the now matured Noodle to take on the role. By Phase 3, both Russel and Noodle are absent, forcing 2D to take up the role by simply being less insane than Murdoc.
  • On the Next: Each episode of Song Machine ends with a brief snippet of the next song and their accompanying video.
  • Organ Theft: Murdoc had most of his internal organs surgically swapped for 2D's.
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • Your travel down the stairs to Murdoc's secret lair in the Plastic Beach online adventure game. It takes a good four to five minutes of unskippable spiral staircase animation to get there the first time through. At least you opt to have an entertaining conversation with Murdoc while you gallivant your way to him.
      Murdoc: You can't have a secret lair and pop it right next to the door, can you? People would hear your secret chair scraping around on your secret floor, now wouldn't they?
    Strangely enough, it doesn't take any time at all to make the trip back up... But M. C. Escher apparently designed the stairs, so who knows.
    • There's also the bathroom gag in their MTV cribs, which is almost a minute of watching Murdoc pee.
  • Overly Long Tongue:
    • Murdoc's.
    • 2-D's can lick up the inside of his nose, although having no front teeth definitely helps.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: "Broken" was the best received of the Plastic Beach demos, but when the album was released the fans gravitated to "Rhinestone Eyes" and "Empire Ants" and the singles chosen were "Stylo", "Superfast Jellyfish", and "On Melancholy Hill". "Broken" doesn't really get a look-in anymore, despite being an improvement on the demo.
  • Papa Wolf: It's easy to imagine Russel being this as far as Noodle is concerned, especially since he's already said that he'd do anything to protect her.
  • Peace & Love, Incorporated: "Feel Good Inc."
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Noodle has her hair covering her left eye in the "Tranz" video.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Dave, the repairman Murdoc has on Plastic Beach, insists on "repairing" the wires in the basement with a frying pan. Justified, as he's not actually trying to fix anything; he just wants to extend the job for as long as possible so he'll keep getting paid.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: On the Demon Days song "Fire Coming Out of a Monkey's Head", Dennis Hopper describes the eruption of The Mountain Called Monkey as "a castrophany". Presumably, this is a portmanteau of "Cacophony" and "Catastrophe".
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Both Noodle and Cyborg Noodle.
  • Pet the Dog: Murdoc has his moments. Attempting to save the manatee in the "On Melancholy Hill" video comes to mind, as does the way he apparently panicked and rushed to save the real Noodle, according to his Twitter page. But then he segues into Kick the 2D immediately...
  • The Philosopher: Seagull from Plastic Beach.
  • Police Are Useless: Murdoc isn't exactly subtle about his illegal activities, but he's only suffered legal consequences on two occasions (the ram-raid, and the brothel incident in Mexico), and nobody's managed to rescue 2D yet.
  • Portal Door: The Song Machine-era Kong Studios apparently has various doors that allow teleportation to any given location in the world.
  • The Power of Love: The main moral of "We Got the Power" is how amazing the human race can be once they harness this.
    We got the power to love each other no matter what happens
  • Production Throwback: "The Lost Chord" off of Song Machine is widely seen as Gorillaz hearkening back to Plastic Beach, featuring the same low-key, introspective, and psychedelic-inspired sounds off the album, as well as having its video be a Continuity Cavalcade to Phase 3 that takes place on Plastic Beach itself.
  • Prophet Eyes: In recent phases of Gorillaz, 2-D's eyes are now almost always completely white, as opposed to the black eyes he previously had in the first few phases.
  • "Psycho" Strings: Used in "O Green World".
  • Punny Name: 2D is so named because of the two dents in his head, but being a cartoon character he is in fact 2D. His real name is Stuart Pot, which he shortened to Stu-Pot, as in "Stew Pot".
  • Put on a Bus: Noodle and Russel were absent for the majority of Plastic Beach, on account of the phase being Cut Short before their real contributions were really delved-into. Murdoc is temporarily replaced during The Now Now as he is in prison.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Whether they like it or not. Although the band effectively broke up after "El Mañana", Murdoc is so determined to produce the Plastic Beach album that he kidnapped 2D and built a cyborg replacement for Noodle, made partially from the real Noodle's DNA, for that purpose. Russell was left to his own devices and replaced by a drum machine, although once hearing about the band he decided to swim to Plastic Beach.
  • Reality Subtext: The video for "The Lost Chord" conveys the song's message of moving beyond the trauma of the past for the sake of progress through the metaphor of Plastic Beach getting destroyed. While this has in-universe significance to the band (the island brings back memories of severe emotional trauma for all four of them), it also serves as a rumination on the phase associated with the island, which was by far the most ambitious storyline the band ever attempted to tell but was unceremoniously Cut Short and Left Hanging as a result of various real world complications. By showing Plastic Beach getting destroyed, the song acknowledges the tragedy of its story never being given a proper conclusion while also asserting that, for the band to continue evolving, we must all accept that it never will.
  • Really Gets Around:
    • Murdoc, despite his ugliness, still manages to attract the ladies (both in-universe and out).
    • 2D at least went through a phase of this as well in Phase 2, going by the fact that he now has ten illegitimate children.
  • Rearrange the Song: "People" is essentially a reskin of "DARE", as it heavily relies on a modification of its beat.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Noodle goes on quite the vitriolic rant in Rise of the Ogre against modern celebrity culture and the mainstream music industry in general.
    Noodle: Artistic skill and the ability to enlighten, educate and entertain through displays of ingenuity, insight and discipline should not be treated as a useless exercise in moronic entertainment. As Murdoc always says, "True talent should be food for the soul, not turds for the mind". Your "Pop Idols" are buffoons, nothing more than landfill, and you are shovelling this garbage into the heads of your own children.
    You are asking your children to aspire to idiots and are sowing the seeds of your own downfall, growing vacuous, sickly weeds. These weeds will grow up to strangle you of any oxygen. You may laugh while your empire crumbles, but you are putting chemicals in the foodchain.
    Murdoc: It's just a bit of fun, love. Calm down.
  • Recursive Reality: Though it's not explained further, "DARE" has the entirety of the video taking place as a nightmare of Shaun Ryder in a nightmare of Murdoc.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Murdoc has one red eye in Phases 1 and 2.
  • Reset Button: Phase 3's exceedingly convoluted and Cut Short storyline was by and large completely abandoned at the beginning of Phase 4. A few of the individual "Book of..."s made an effort to quickly wrap up some of the plotlines (Russel's transformation into a giant, 2D's Disney Death), while others were more or less ignored entirely (Murdoc's apparent immortality, the role of the Boogieman). Otherwise, the band has mostly returned to their usual characterizations and the events of Plastic Beach seem to have had no lasting impact on any of them.
  • Revisiting the Roots: Starting Phase 4, following the tumultuous events around Phase 3, the band returned to a mostly peaceful and upbeat status quo reminiscent of their earlier days, with only loose plot and mixtape-style releases of music rather than full-blown Concept Albums. They even started working in a brand new Kong Studios.
  • Revolving Door Band: This example isn't referring to the animated band; it is referring to the fact that Damon Albarn is the only man to consistently provide the music for Gorillaz. But when the band is fictional and is run behind-the-scenes by real people, this kinda thing is to be expected.
  • Rhythm Typewriter: "We Are Happy Landfill".
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Cyborg Noodle. Despite being technically a robot, it looks eerily like Phase 2 Noodle. Then again, that was Murdoc's intention when he made her.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect:
    • This has been one of the bands primary aesthetics since the beginning, from depicting the band in live action city streets of London in their first music video, "Tomorrow Comes Today", to the Nambian Swakopmund Desert in "Dirty Harry" and the ghost town of Calico California in "Stylo", the Roger Rabbit Effect has always been a key element to the Gorillaz aesthetic, and has become an even bigger part of their aesthetic since their return in 2017, with every music video since Humanz & The Now Now using this effect to an extent. This aesthetic continues to be used in Song Machine.
    • This trope is taken to an even further extreme in 2005 when they attempted an actual holographic performance at the Grammy Awards. There were talks of plans for a holographic world tour in 2008, but the idea was eventually scrapped as it was very expensive and there was a high risk of significant technical difficulties that could suddenly shut off the projections if the bass was loud enough. On broadcast, the performance looked and sounded relatively great, but in-person, the sound had to be as quiet as possible so the holograms wouldn't glitch or shut off, which made it nearly inaudible to the audience that was actually there.
    • The band not only uses this for animation, but many illustrations for Gorillaz as well depict the band members placed in the real world and interacting with actual humans.
  • Sampling:
    • An interesting example as the sample in question doesn't come from a song. The clip heard at the beginning of "Superfast Jellyfish" (along with the sound bite of a man going "Are you kidding?") comes from an old 1980s commercial for "Swanson Great Start Frozen Breakfast Sandwiches", which can be seen right here.
    • "Dracula" contains snippets from, of all things, a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
    • The opening of "M1A1" samples Day of the Dead.
    • The source of the loud, distorted scream in the middle of "Ascension" has been speculated to be a meme. No, really.
  • Sanity Slippage: Quite evident with Murdoc in Phase 3. Just listen to him in the radio hijacks. Though for now, it's hard to tell if he's really cracked or if the rum's just gotten to his head. 2D has also undergone something of a slippage.
  • Scatting:
    • A verse in "Slow Country". Murdoc complains about this in Rise of the Ogre:
      Murdoc: It was a pretty good song till you started with all that muppets "manamana" crap.
      2D: I was just singing along. I didn't know the mic was still on.
    • It's not really audible in the full song, but if you listen to the vocal multitrack for "Dirty Harry", you can hear to 2D singing "BOW-ba BOW ba-da-da-da-da-da" to the melody of the instrumental part after the first verse.
    • Half the lyrics of Rockit are just "Blah blah blah blah".
    • 19-2000 features a lot of this.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: The room on Plastic Beach where 2D was held captive.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Most noticeable in slower songs like "O Green World", "Empire Ants" and "Revolving Doors".
  • Series Fauxnale: "DoYaThing" was released as the final song of Phase 3, after a large portion of its plot and music was Cut Short due to Executive Meddling, unsatisfactory sales and a small falling out between Damon and Jamie. Compared to the previous music videos of the Phase, it is a Continuity Cavalcade that features the band living (relatively) peacefully together and ends with them getting evicted from their building, implying that they will have to separate in order to find new places to live. Due to its distinct "series finale" vibes and the uncertain future of the band, many took it to be a final send off to the fans. However, this was later disproven several years later with the announcement of Phase 4 revealing the band to still be going strong, along with the distinct implication that the content of "DoYaThing"'s music video was Retconned out of the band's history entirely.
  • Shared Universe: As of The Now Now, Ace of The Powerpuff Girls has slotted in as bass player while Murdoc is in jail. This isn't completely out of left-field, as both Gorillaz and Powerpuff Girls have referenced each other from as early as Phase 1; the back cover of G-Sides features 2D wearing a Mojo Jojo shirt, and The Powerpuff Girls Movie features a cameo advertisement for Gorillaz Live in a newspaper.
    • In "The Valley of the Pagans" the band goes for a ride in Los Santos. However, it's unclear whether this means that Gorillaz and Grand Theft Auto share a universe or if it's just a stand-in for L.A.
  • She Is All Grown Up: Noodle went from an Ambiguous Gender-ed kid to a very obviously female young adult over the band's run.
  • Shirtless Scene: 2D in the "Dirty Harry" video. Murdoc is seen without a shirt more often than with one.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: 2D speaks with a high-pitched cockney accent, but when he sings, sounds like... well, Damon Albarn.
  • Single Stanza Song: "Dirty Harry", with the exception of Bootie Brown's rap at the end.
  • Smart Jerk and Nice Moron: 2D and Murdoc, at least in Phases 1 & 2. Murdoc beat him up, stole his girlfriends, regularly insulted and humiliated him, yet 2D still referred to Murdoc as his 'best mate' and often either aided in his antics or looked the other way from the more... dubious behavior. He finally seems to have sharpened up in the Plastic Beach arc, openly resenting Murdoc and his growing insanity.
  • Smoking Is Cool: It's a Jamie Hewlett story, what did you expect? Noodle was the only one shown not to smoke in Phase 1 and 2, due to her age. However, it's played straight in Phase 3 and 4, where there are pictures of her with a cigarette in her mouth.
  • Sneeze Interruption: "Reject False Icons" is about Damon Albarn singing and interrupting himself with a sneeze. The crowd applauds while he sheepishly apologises.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: More like "Social Services is incompetent." Why else would they be allowed to keep Noodle when they found her? Or "punishing" Murdoc by making him 2D's primary caretaker while 2D was in a coma?
  • Something Completely Different: "Sound Check", "Punk", "Fire Coming Out of a Monkey's Head", and "Glitter Freeze" are all very different from the sort of music that Gorillaz usually make (though even their more "normal" songs have a good degree of Genre-Busting and experimentation, so it's not that jarring).
  • Soprano and Gravel:
    • "DARE" has Noodle's smooth vocals mixed with Shaun Ryder's warblings.
    • "Man Research" is an interesting variation, with both high and low pitched parts being provided by 2D.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Both "El Mañana" and "On Melancholy Hill" have an at least peaceful, if not upbeat melody, both of them have videos where Noodle is attacked with bombs and rockets.
  • Special Guest:
    • Del Tha Funkee Homosapien appears on guest vocals in multiple songs on Gorillaz, including "Clint Eastwood" and "Rock The House".
    • In the "Stylo" video, it's Bruce Willis! As a hitman!
    • Plastic Beach has guests through the majority of the album, including various rappers and indie artists.
    • The video for "Humility" has Jack Black playing guitar on Venice Beach.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Phase 3 could be called "The Murdoc show featuring 2D" considering how basically all material from it is simply the two bickering while Murdoc battles demons. Russel and Noodle don't get a single line of dialogue throughout the entire phase.
  • Stealth Pun: 2D was previously known as Stuart Pot, Stu Pot for short. He also spent some time in a coma — thus, we have a vegetable Stu Pot.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: 2D and Murdoc's dynamic in Phase 3 can be summed up as this. Murdoc goes off on long-winded ramblings only for 2D to snark on him. In a bit of a twist though, Murdoc tends to respond with physical violence.
  • Stylistic Suck: The music video to "Sleeping Powder" features some very stiff and shoddy motion-capture, most notably with how 2D's fingers don't even come close to pressing the piano keys he's apparently playing. However, given the surreal nature of the rest of the video and the song itself, this is very likely intentional.
  • Supersoldier: Noodle, along with 22 other children, was created by the Japanese government for a secret super-soldier project. Noodle in particular was supposed to be a Musical Assassin. The project was scrapped and the children killed when it was decided the children were too unstable to be used, but Noodle ended up the Sole Survivor via her mentor, Mr. Kyuzo, shipping her overseas to Britain in a FedEx crate.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: While Murdoc is in prison, he's replaced by Ace from The Powerpuff Girls, who is also a dark-haired, green-skinned scoundrel (and based on his hairline, about the same age as well).
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Murdoc's maintenance man most certainly did NOT murder his ex-wife. Don't call the police.
  • Take That!:
    • "Rockit", as well as the music video, is quite clearly a big one at modern music and celebrity in general.
    • "Humility" can be interpreted as one from 2D's, and by extension the entire band's point of view; they had enough of Murdoc's abusive behavior, and shed no tears over the news of the bassist's arrest. The song title, the recruitment of Ace as Murdoc's replacement, and the lines "And if you're coming back to find me / You'd better have good aim" further implies the point.
  • Tastes Like Chicken: Superfast Jellyfish, allegedly.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: Russel has taxidermy as a a hobby. Specifically, sewing different animal parts together. Even Murdoc finds the results unsettling.
    Russel: Since I got into taxidermy I find it's a great way to pass the time and also gives the animals a real dignified ending.
    Murdoc: Are you in some sort of K-hole? There's nothing really dignified about the poses you set them in, Russel. They look really... startled.
    Russel: I just wanted to break new grounds in that area, advance the tradition and bring a whole hip hop attitude to the taxidermy world. I've been cutting and pasting different animal styles together. Yaks with lizards, hogs and zebras... it keeps the whole thing fresh, y'know? Once they're done you can customize the animals with bass-bins, under-lighting, alloy wheels... a kinda "Pimp-My-Rhino" thing.
  • Thick-Line Animation: A defining trait of phase 1's artwork.
  • Token Trio: 2D is Caucasian, Russel is black and Noodle is Asian. And then there's Murdoc, who's green.
  • Torture Always Works:
  • Transforming Vehicle: The title car in "Stylo" turns into a shark-ish submersible when Bruce Willis chases them off a cliff and into the ocean.
  • Trash of the Titans: The whole group is infamous for their ability to completely destroy a room within minutes.
  • Trash the Set: "The Lost Chord" sees Plastic Beach destroyed, albeit by Poseidon instead of the band.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: Murdoc sometimes does this in interviews.
  • Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: Murdoc.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Despite being in a band with psychotic and super powered bandmates and living in a generally awful world filled with demons, zombies and other horrors, 2D reacts to most situations by... doing absolutely nothing, really. Justified in that he's really that stupid, or at the very least heavily drugged at all times. Best shown in the Clint Eastwood video where, after Russel channels a ghost who then raises an army of undead gorillas to attack his bandmates, 2D barely reacts to them at all. Slowly removed from his character over time, to the point where he's all too aware of how terrible his world is by Phase 3. This is around the time he starts weening off his his painkillers, so the "too drugged to be bothered" explaination is probably closer to the truth.
  • Unfortunate Names: 2D's real name is Stuart Pot — hence his nickname "Stu-Pot". Apparently the family name was originally Tusspot, but a lifetime of mockery prompted his father to have it legally changed shortly after Stuart's birth.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: In contrast to most cartoons, Gorillaz have been shown to change wardrobe frequently and are rarely depicted wearing the same set of clothing twice, much like the way people change clothes every day in real life.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Murdoc continuously changes his story involving his role in the "El Mañana" conspiracy and the fates of Noodle and himself post-Demon Days, which is just further fuel for the Wild Mass Guessing that he's full of fecal matter on the topic.
  • Up to Eleven: Murdoc once bragged that he took the speakers up to thirteen for a concert.
  • Verbal Tic Name: Noodle was named after the only English word she knew when the guys first met her.
  • Villain Protagonist: Murdoc, to an extent. His actions are most certainly not moral and completed exclusively for his profit.
  • Villain Song:
    • "Sweepstakes", if the Boogieman is as bad as Mos Def's interviews make him out to be.
    • "Murdoc is God" can also count when you take into account Murdoc as a Villain Protagonist. The circumstances behind the song's creation certainly don't hurt either: Murdoc locked 2-D in a cage until he wrote a song praising him, and his participation in the death of the Gorillaz's stalker Jimmy Manson.
  • Virtual Celebrity: A Real Life example.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • 2D and Murdoc. Though at least during Plastic Beach, the "best buds" part is probably gone, what with the kidnapping and everything.
      2D: [Murdoc] sings like someone treading on a duck. Me vocals is way better, blud! So he just makes me sing. I hate that sod.
      • Although since Humanz, that element of their friendship has come back, with Murdoc even completely ending the physical abuse towards 2-D that he was known for perpetuating. As of the music video for "The Lost Chord" this trope has now been fully solidified, as 2-D extends a friendly helping hand to save Murdoc - much to his joy - from being left permanently stranded at sea. Of particular note is how this happens during the band's revisit of the trauma-laden ruins of Plastic Beach, which is where 2-D endured the most abuse.
    • Seagull and Pelican from the Plastic Beach game also fall into this trope.
  • Vocal Evolution: 2D's voice has gotten deeper as the phases went by.
  • Voodoo Doll: Murdoc used to have a voodoo doll of 2D in the first two phases.
  • Waif-Fu: Noodle.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Murdoc only wears a shirt on rare occasions. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is up to viewer interpretation.
  • Wham Shot: In "The Valley of the Pagans" the band takes a portal to Los Santos and goes for a ride. At the end they get into another portal, spitting them in the ocean in front of Plastic Beach.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Invoked, at the end of Valley of the Pagans, the band crashes into the ocean just off Plastic Beach. During the next video, "The Lost Chord", Murdoc and Noodle have just enough time to find, and be disturbed by the remains of Cyborg Noodle before Poseidon arrives and sends her to the depths of the sea.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: 2D has a morbid fear of whales. Murdoc found this out and used it against him. In the animatics of the video for "Rhinestone Eyes", the whale finally does try to kill 2D. Russel takes care of it for him.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Duh. It's an animated band — to begin with, there is No Fourth Wall. Well, sometimes there is.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Gorillaz's very title, of course. Phase 4 re-embraced this trope, using "Z" in place of an "S", with Humanz and some of its tracklist, including "Saturnz Barz", "Tranzformer", "Circle of Friendz", etc.
  • Yellow Eyesof Sneakiness: Murdoc's are sometimes depicted with a distinct yellow cast (especially in the first three phases), much like his skin being a sickly green.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair:
    • 2D has blue (purple in Phase 1 and teal in Phase 2) hair apparently caused by him sustaining a massive blow to the head falling out of a tree as a child, causing his hair to fall out and grow back in blue.
    • Noodle's hair faded from black in Phase 1 to purple in Phase 2 and then indigo in Phase 3, similar to 2D's blue.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Murdoc named his pet raven Cortez and referred to it with male pronouns before claiming it also laid eggs.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The video for "Clint Eastwood" starts with a line taken (albeit shortened) from Dawn of the Dead (1978): "Every dead body that is not exterminated, gets up and kills, the people it kills get up and kill." The video itself has the band facing off against gorilla zombies. The full version is included in the beginnng of "Hip Albatross" from the same album.


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