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Podcast / The Dollop

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No sleep till Hippo.
The Dollop is a weekly American history podcast hosted by comedians Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds. The standard format is: Dave pre-prepares a story on a particular historical event or figure and reads it aloud to Gareth, who has no prior knowledge at all of what the story is going to be about. The two then proceed to riff on the story as it unfolds.

The show tends to focus on weird stories from American history: bizarre events, eccentric inventors, crazy athletes, and general strangeness. Sometimes a central figure or event to the story is well-known or even recent enough to be remembered by the hosts, but further research shows there's a much stranger and funnier side to it than most people know.

While most episodes are recorded in Dave's or Gareth's home, the pair often perform the show live; they've even toured Australia three times, during which Dave tells stories from Australian history (which can often be just as bizarre as American history). Likewise, a live show in Iceland focused on the history of Iceland and a show recorded in Vancouver featured a story from Canadian history.

Live shows often feature guests riffing along with Dave and Gareth, most often the Australian comic Wil Anderson (who is responsible for the show's popularity in his home country), as well as Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, and the hosts of Chapo Trap House. Occasionally, the tables are turned and Gareth reads a story to Dave in what is known as a "Reverse Dollop"; with these, Gareth gives himself the freedom to recount a story from whatever country he wants, including Britain and South Korea.


A book based on the podcast, The United States of Absurdity: Untold Stories from American History, was released on May 9, 2017 with a foreword by Patton Oswalt and illustrations by the show's resident artist James Fosdike. The book is co-written by Dave and Gareth and features condensed versions of stories from previous episodes of the show.

The show has been spun off multiple times in recent years; in 2019, Dave and Gareth recorded The Dollop England & UK, a in-studio limited season devoted entirely to UK history, as a way to promote their live summer tour. On February 29, 2020, a Mexican version — El Dollop — starring Leyendas Legendarias hosts José Antonio Badía and Eduardo Espinosa was announced, thus finally fulfilling the promise of being a "bilingual" podcast.


The Dollop provides examples of:

  • The Ace:
    • Dave and Gareth are delighted by the story of Bill Richmond, an American-born ex-slave turned British boxer, who displayed amazing self-confidence and would openly flaunt his relationships with white women in Yorkshire, then beat a fighter who objected senseless with West African techniques previously unthinkable in English pugilism. Even after hitting a career and financial low when both he and his protégé Molineaux lost badly to Tom Cribb, a champion old-school "bottom" fighter, Bill managed to recoup his fortune, fight a pair of comeback bouts at the age of 50 in which he bested a boxer half his age, and eventually became lifelong friends with his old rival Cribb.
    • Definitely the hosts' opinion of Clifford Clinton, a philanthropist who achieved massive success with a restaurant that gave free food to those unable to pay, made a public moral stand against the city's racial and economic inequality, took on the corruption of the LAPD and won, and created a sex aid business with a mistress that his wife allowed him to have.
    • More of an In-Universe Marty Stu according to the hosts, but "Beautiful Jim Key" was presented as The Ace, at least among horses, at the St. Louis Fair of 1904, as a horse that could read and write, make change, do arithmetic for "numbers below thirty," and cite Bible passages "where a horse is mentioned."
    • Colonel George Waring, who fought the confederates, and then proceeded to clean up New York after a couple of hundreds of years as a literal shithole, in the episode "The History of New York Sanitation".
    • Glenn Burke, a superb baseball player and all around great guy who invented the high five. Unfortunately, he became a Broken Ace later in life after being drummed out of the LA Dodgers for being gay.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity: Michael Malloy shrugged off the attempts to poison him because he was a massive alcoholic and his body had adapted to process humongous amounts of toxins, forcing the Murder Trust to find other ways to kill him. (How he ate metal shrapnel and glass with no discomfort or even surprise, on the other hand, is still a mystery.)note 
  • Action Girl: Stagecoach Mary, Deborah Sampson and Harriet Tubman in their epynomous episodes.
  • Addled Addict:
    • Meth is quite heavily involved in the story of Shawn Nelson, otherwise known as the man who stole a tank.
    • Methamphetamines also play heavily into the ultimate fate of Rod Ansell, aka the real Mick "Crocodile" Dundee.
    • John Pemberton, the inventor of Coca-Cola, whose shockingly bad business decisions were fueled by copious amounts of cocaine and morphine.
    • One of the factors that led to the North Hollywood Shootout was that the bank robbers were too strung out on phenobarbital (which they'd taken, ironically, to calm their nerves) to make a quick getaway like at their previous robberies.
    • English comedian and magician Tommy Cooper, whose alcoholism progressed to the point where a thirty second TV spot took three days to film and Tommy wound up having to be dubbed by an impersonator (that Tommy's manager also repped) because he was slurring too much. He managed to keep it together and appear his energetic, witty old self in a 1979 Christmas appearance on Parkinson, but even this, his final career highlight, almost had him kill Michael Parkinson with a guillotine live on-air.
    • Though definitely a hard drinker from the outset, Billy Carter was, contrary to the "redneck" stereotype he cultivated, a intelligent man and reputedly the most well-read member of the Carter family; when he began playing up that brew-swilling image for the press, however, he quickly backslid into deep quasi-functional alcoholism and national embarrassment: making racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and just plain crude statements, publically urinating in front of reporters, lending his name to a failed, terrible-tasting beer, dressing up in goofy costumes for mall openings and car dealerships, and nearly getting indicted for treason after doing business with the Libyans. Sadder still, as Dave notes, was that the country didn't just enable it, but found him hilarious and charming — Billy, shamefaced and not far from an early grave, called himself the "most famous drunk in the United States" after getting sober.
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: 'African Animal Meat Train' from the "Hippo Bill" episode.
    • Patton Oswalt comes up with several in the Boston Corbett episode: 'The Slows', 'The Illness', 'The Trembles' and 'New Eunuch'.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: The cause of the Ten Cent Beer Night, West Point Eggnog, and Disco Demolition Night riots.
  • All for Nothing: In "The 1908 Race from New York to Paris," the entire reason that the titular race took place during the winter was so that the cars would be able to drive across the Bering Strait when it froze. However,invoked not only does the Bering Strait not freeze in winter, but it was also literally impossible for any car to even come close to the Bering Strait through Alaska's inhospitable terrain, so the racers were forced to take a ship to Japan and Russia, meaning there was no reason that the race could not have been held during a warmer time of year.
  • The Alleged Car: "The Dale", which never really went into production thanks to it being part of a giant fraud, but the prototype was so shoddy it used regular house door hinges for the doors, and a 2cyl motorcycle engine to power it.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Gareth's mother has appeared on several podcasts. Thanks to her, we know that Gareth's childhood nickname in England was 'Little Garfie'.
  • Ambiguous Disorder:
    • Rube Waddell, who seemed to have the attention span of a squirrel while being a baseball savant, and whose irrepressible oddities ranged from juvenile (running after fire engines to help them, sometimes ripping off his uniform to reveal a "costume" of red long underwear) to animalistic (being hypnotized by a shiny spoon like a chicken). Teammates claimed he could read, though they never clarified to what extent, suggesting he was functionally illiterate, and he had no memory at all when it came to learning his lines on the stage, so everyone had to improvise around him saying and doing whatever he wanted.
    • The Leatherman's obsession with routine (showing up at the same house at the same time on the same date) and complete lack of social skills hint at this.
    • Charles Sumner, once described by his sister as very cold, distant and reserved despite the genuine affection he held for friends and family, and who was so uncomprehending of humor that he would express complete bafflement at his friends' jokes and asides, immediately debating them as if they were false allegations. Dave pegs him as likely somewhere on the autistic spectrum.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: The Dollop on Action Park, all about the titular park's complete lack of safety regulations.
  • An Arm and a Leg: John Wayne Thompson losing both arms at the shoulder, in a farm equipment accident. He gets them back following re-attachment surgery, but obviously not as functional as they once were.
  • Anticlimax: Gareth's opinion on Michael Malloy's death by carbon monoxide poisoning, after surviving ingesting industrial alcohol, shards of glass and getting run over, among other things.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The flight log on Fedex Flight 705, which Dave and Gareth read with gusto as Auburn Calloway enters the cockpit and starts trying to kill the crew with hammers.
  • Armed Farces:
    • The misadventures of the USS "Willie Dee", most notably the accidental firing of a live torpedo at the USS Iowa, a ship carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
    • "The Eggnog Riots" at West Point Military Academy.
    • Major G.P.W. Meredith and the Seventh Heavy Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery VS the Emus, in the colloquially known "Emu War".
    • The "Fenian Brotherhood", an American-Irish paramilitary group that, among other plans, wanted to conquer Canada in order to trade it for Ireland.
    • "The Battle of Brisbane", a two-night riot between US servicemen and Australian servicemen, in Brisbane, Queensland, during World War Two.
    • "Operation Red Dog", a plan by American and Canadian mercenaries to take over the island of Dominica, as discussed in the "Bayou of Pigs" episode.
    • "The Pig War", a territorial dispute, between the US and the British Empire, over the contested San Juan Islands, which incidentally started over the shooting of a pig.
  • Armoured Closet Gay:
    • The hosts are of the firm opinion that the crusaders of the "Newport Sex Scandal" were simply closeted and jealous of those who weren't. It doesn't particularly help that their "investigations", more often than not, involved partaking in gay sex themselves.
    • In the episode about the history of public swimming pools, we learn that early pools had a dedicated "hygiene expert" who inspected the genitalia of every man who was about to enter the pool for "cleanliness". Dave and Gareth speculated that this was an ideal job for closeted gay men of the Victorian era.
    • The Man Behind The Curtain (who was masquerading as several people to cover his tracks) in "Competitive Endurance Tickling" went to absurd lengths to convince all the participants, and journalists who tried to cover it, that it was all super, ultra, mega-not-gay. By the end, everyone involved with and listening to the story can see right through it.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy:
    • "Count Dante". Among other boasts, he never acknowledged his past senseis, saying that his greatest and only teacher was himself, and called Bruce Lee a weakling for not fighting every single person he could to prove his superiority (the exact same reason so many other martial artists admired Lee).
    • Steven Seagal, who balanced this by also being an Arrogant Everything-Else Guy. Seagal was notorious in his early years for not only making wild claims about his accomplishments (including that he was a U.S. intelligence asset, which his former friend Robert Strickland alleged was faked and appropriated from his own life) and dismissing Bruce Lee, but badmouthing nearly every American martial artist, seeing their accomplishments as invalid because he'd studied in Japan. His constant bragging that he could not only beat any opponent one-on-one, but kill them in a deathmatch, led to his arch-enemy Bob Wall organizing a "Dirty Dozen" of Hollywood stuntpeople specifically to cause grief for Seagal whenever he stepped out of line; many signed on eagerly, since Seagal had also gained a reputation in Hollywood for treating stunt performers badly. When Steven claimed that he couldn't be choked out on the set of Out for Justice, judo expert Gene LeBell grabbed him in a chokehold and strangled him until, to Dave and Gareth's delight, he supposedly shit his pants.
  • Assassin Outclassin':
    • Abolitionist Cassius Clay was shot in the chest by an assassin during a speech, but the bullet deflected off his favorite bowie knife. Clay grabbed him, drew the knife and proceeded to, as he put it, "Cut away in good earnest."
    Dave: Brown had his skull cut to the brain in several places; one ear nearly cut off, his nose slit, one eye cut out, and many other wounds.
    • A would-be assassin once tried to shoot Andrew Jackson, only for both of his guns to jam and have Jackson then beat the crap out of him with a cane.
    • The crew of Federal Express Flight 705 turning the tables on would-be hijacker Auburn Calloway.
  • Artifact of Attraction: The titular rocket belt of Jet Pack Madness, seemingly sparking a powerful sociopathic streak among its three creators, inspiring acts of violence up to and including brutal murder and kidnapping.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: The Rube's pitching career would probably have been the greatest in baseball's history were it not for his tendency to get distracted by puppies, fire engines and, yes, shiny objects.
  • Author Appeal: Dave has a soft spot for baseball-related stories.
  • Auto Cannibalism: Xavier Mertz was so deranged from hypervitaminosis A that he ate several of his own frostbitten fingers.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Some of the names brought up during "The Two Indigenous Actors" are darn cool, like 'Silverheels', 'Iron Eyes', 'Thunderbear'.
  • Bad Luck Charm: The infamously "cursed" Hope Diamond turns out to be a subversion, as Evalyn Walsh and Ned Beale McLean — two Upper Class Twits, both born of massively wealthy nouveau-riche parents who utterly spoiled them — weren't exactly cut out to make good decisions in life anyway, and most of their misfortunes are due to their own foolishness and absurd overspending. The only tragedy that seems even a little supernatural is their young son Vinson (named after Evie's uncle, who was killed as a teenager in a car accident) being struck by an auto and dying.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Andrew Jackson pulled a famous one during his duel with Charles Dickinson by allowing his opponent to shoot first, hoping that he'd rush the shot and miss, so that Jackson could then take his time aiming while he reloaded. It worked, though only barely, as Dickinson managed to shoot Jackson in the chest, just non-fatally, and Jackson was able to get off an accurate shot.
    • Reg Spiers managed to escape the death penalty for smuggling drugs by demanding the evidence be re-examined at his trial, having correctly guessed that the corrupt Srilankan police would have already stolen it.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: In a meta-example, the guys broke their one rule to never redo an episode, after their George HW Bush episode mysteriously failed to be recorded and thought to be lost, arguing that such particular episode is very topical and very important to share, this time around, with Gareth's mom as the special guest.
  • Beastly Bloodsports: "The Two Dog Men", an episode on the conflict between Henry Bergh, the founder of the RSPCA, and Kit Burns, the owner of Sportsman's Hall, where various displays of dogs killing rats or fighting other dogs provided the main source of entertainment.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: The early fire brigades would constantly get into fights over territorial disputes, would often brawl to the point of riots that would leave people wounded or dead, and in one nasty case, actually started a fire over a hotel owner who happened to be bi-racial and was married to a white woman.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Discussed in the episode "Ugly Laws", involving legislature that essentially tried to take the trope to its logical extreme by enforcing deformity as criminal behaviour.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: The Bald Knobbers started as a vigilante group devoted to fighting back against outlaws and cattle rustlers, and wound up becoming another outlaw group.
  • Benevolent Boss: Atari's Nolan Bushnell let his employees come to work whenever they wanted to, wear whatever they wanted, and drink beer and smoke weed at work as long as they got their job done.
  • Berserk Button: Don't insult Andrew Jackson's whore wife, don't question legalised gambling to Marvin Heemeyer, and don't call Gareth "Gary".
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Too many examples to list, though Carrie Moore's still stand out. (A mother who believed she was Queen Victoria, an aunt who thought she was a weather vane, and a cousin who only walked on all fours, to name a few.)
  • Big "WHAT?!": Whilst Gareth utters these regularly, oddly enough it's Dave during the "Pulgasari" reverse dollop who's given off the biggest one so far, after hearing about how a director and actress couple who were kidnapped, imprisoned and forced to make movies in North Korea for years were not only allowed to travel abroad to attend a film festival in Vienna to promote their film, but were able to persuade their guards to take a separate taxi.
    • Potentially rivaled by Dave's enormous "WHAT" when guest Wil Anderson brings up that the Aussie name of the "Telephone" game was "Chineese Whispers" in ep. 204 - The Real Crocodile Dundee.
  • Black Comedy: A staple. The Dollop can be essentially summed up as messed up events that happen in ridiculous ways, told by hosts that are good at making jokes to break the tension.
    • The episode "The Arizona Orphan Battle" literally ends with the death of "Singin' Josephine", a toddler. So yeah, that should give you an idea.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Much merriment is had by the hosts from the story of Popo Bawa, an African ghost that was said to molest people and, if they didn't announce what had happened to the general public, would come back and do it again.
  • Body Horror:
    • Does people having their testicles cut open and goat testicles sewn up inside of them as a "fertility treatment" count?
    • Alexis St. Martin winding up with a fistula in his stomach that leaked his last meal unless it was plugged or covered.
    • Dave expands at length on the deformities of several of the unfortunates who were persecuted under the titular restrictions in the episode "Ugly Laws". One particular account speaks of an arrested beggar whose face resembled a "dried skull"; neither Dave nor Gareth can figure out what this means, exactly.
    • Several birth defects are described in "Lobster Boy" too, most notably the hands of the titular character and his family.
    • Comes up many times in the episode about "The Radium Girls", like poor Amelia Maggia, whose dentist inadvertently pulled out most of her radiation-ravaged jawbone during a tooth extraction.
    • The members of the ill fated far eastern Antarctic expedition losing all of their skin due to hypervitaminosis.
    • Boston Corbett castrating himself with a pair of scissors in a fit of religious mania.
    • The Puritans would run hot pokers through the tongues of, brand with hot irons, or cut off the ears of Quakers arriving to New England, among other things.
    • Gloria Ramirez, whose blood became a deadly toxic sludge after she was accidentally injected with an IV of methylamine, an ingredient of methamphetamine, if the prevailing theory is to be believed.
    • Phineas Gage's unfortunate but non-fatal accident with a gunpowder charge and a tamping iron, which left him with a hole all the way through his skull and brain.
    • John Wayne Thomson who got caught in high speed farming equipment and had both arms ripped off at the shoulders.
    • The ravages of Syphilis on the human body, as described by the hosts in the "Syphilis in America" episode.
    • The injuries suffered by the crew of Federal Express Flight 705, including a gouged out eye, a nearly severed ear, and skull fragments smashed into the brain.
    • Martin Tabert's injuries just from the labor conditions at the convict camp were serious enough, described as weeping sores covering a good portion of his body; add the injuries inflicted by the whippings and you get a dead Martin Tabert.
    • Some of the shark attack injuries discussed in the episode about the 1916 New Jersey shark attacks, including whole legs being Stripped to the Bone.
    • One of the sub-plots of the Jet Pack Madness episode involves a corpse that was literally beaten to a pulp so badly that the medical examiner had to determine its gender through a DNA sample.
    • Marine Corp pilot Lieutenant Colonel William Rankin, who bailed out of his failing F-8 Crusader at 47,000 feet without a pressure suit and suffered many injuries as a result.
    • Dr. Henry Cotton, who attempted to 'cure' insanity in his asylum patients by removing their teeth, 'unnecessary' organs, and genitals. Also, he wasn't a trained surgeon.
    • When the men of the Synanon cult were ordered to have vasectomies, one of the men suffered a horrific medical mishap. Specifically, the surgeon accidentally nicked a vital artery, causing blood to fill up his scrotum which—per Dave—"swelled up like a balloon."
  • Boomerang Bigot: Daniel Burros, a Jewish neo-nazi.
  • Book Dumb:
    • A core tenet of the podcast — Dave has stressed many times over the years that Gareth isn't unintelligent or poorly educated as some have assumed, but a normal guy reacting honestly to facts and events not usually taught in school. Gareth has even mentioned that he deliberately avoids reading about the kinds of subjects the show trafficks in, so he can go in cold and not spoil the "surprise".
    • Possibly played with during the "Ned Kelly" episode, where Dave and Gareth discuss not knowing what either "yoke" or "plucky" mean as they talk about the titular Ned Kelly's life. Definitively straight when a member of the audience tried to explain "yoke" and ended up discussing what "yolk" is instead.
  • Brawn Hilda: "Stagecoach" Mary Fields, a 6', 200-pound woman, renowned for laying out men with one punch, who got her nickname both for her flawless mail delivery runs and for once flipping up a overturned coach all by herself. Gareth even comments that she'd be a fantastic linebacker.
  • Breather Episode: Gareth comments after the story of Owen Kildare could be considered one for its slight tonal shift, at least when compared to most episodes — Owen started off an eye-gouging, bare-knuckle-brawling thug, then suddenly adopted an adorable bulldog puppy, went on an international adventure, and reformed his ways with the love of a good woman, eventually becoming an articulate and respected man of letters. (Of course, it's still the Dollop, so he also got stabbed in the neck, became a widower a week before his marriage, and died in a mental hospital.)
  • Broken Pedestal: Gareth starts the John McCain episode admitting that while he hated the senator's politics, he still has a favorable opinion of the man himself; by the end, he's so broken-down and weary that he can barely speak.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Rube, one of the most infuriating, unprofessional and dim-witted players in the whole history of baseball but really really good at pitching.
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse:
    • The Pendragon conspirators smuggled a dead body wrapped in a set of woven wood blinds onto a boat to dispose of it in San Pablo Bay.
    • Shanghai crimps would occasionally supply a dead body (or in one case, a wooden cigar store Indian) rolled up in a blanket to a ship's captain as a live crewman who had been heavily drugged. The deception usually wasn't noticed until the ship was a few days out from port and the body started to stink.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "No sleep til hippo!" and "We sign cars" (and variations thereof).
    • Also courtesy of Gareth, "What is happening!?" when the insanity of the story ramps up and "I'll see ya" or "I gotta go" whenever the insanity has reached its peak.
    • Dave, an atheist, very belligerently adding "year of OUR LORD... Jesus Christ / Jesu Christo" after the starting date in history, and demanding that Gareth show some respect when he scoffs, sometimes even bemoaning that America is no longer a "Christian nation". It became such a beloved part of the show that a microbrew, Beer of Our Lord, was created for dates on their 2022 tour.
  • Clingy MacGuffin:
    • A Real Life version of sorts with Andrew Jackson's presidential cheese, a giant wheel of cheese weighing 1400 pounds given to him by New York farmers. About three quarters of the episode revolves about the creation of this cheese, Jackson's attempts at getting rid of it and the aftermath once he was successful.
    • A variation: Reuel Colt Gridley's sack of flour kept being auctioned and returned across the West in order to raise money to the Sanitary Fund (a precursor of the American Red Cross), at least until he tried to do the same in the East Coast, whom didn't understand the concept of auctioning the same item again and again, and they made cakes out of it instead.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, the "Torture Psychologists" in the payroll of the government, engaged in these on people suspected of terrorism for Uncle Sam. How bad was it? Even the CIA had problems with them.
    • T.W. Higginbotham, the "Whipping Boss", who dealt a beating so severely to Martin Tabert that he passed away the following day.
    • The suffragists in the Washington DC jail during in the Night of Terror, including being beaten with clubs, slammed back-first into a metal bunk, and force fed until they vomited.
  • Comet of Doom: The episode "Comet Panic" centres on the hysterics of those who thought so.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Mark Richards, the leader of the Pendragon conspiracy, tried to get one of his teenage followers to murder somebody in return for a dune buggy. He refused.
  • Con Man: "Con Man Victor Lustig", who at one point managed to sell the Eiffel Tower, TWICE. He would also sell fake counterfeit money machines that could only be operated once every 18 hours; when some people would disassemble it or use it before that time and run into Lustig again, he would con them into buying another one again. He was also very successful at creating counterfeit money outright, to the point several government agencies were after him, since he was responsible for a sizable portion of all the counterfeit money across the US.
    • "Lord Gordon Gordon", a man of unknown origins who, while posing as a Scottish Lord, managed to swindle Robber Baron Jay Gould out of a million dollars and escaped to Canada, after which an attempt to bring him back to the U.S. to face justice put the two countries on the brink of war.
  • The Conspiracy: "The Toxic Woman Of Riverside" coverup, now speculated to have been over an illegal meth lab at Riverside hospital.
    • Government Conspiracy: Ehrlichman declaring that Nixon's War on Drugs was made to undermine the anti-war left and the black community, two of the biggest opposition movements to Nixon, in "The Killing of Maximum John" episode.
    • In a meta-example, Dave and Gareth have questioned that it's pretty curious that their episode on George HW Bush failed to be recorded, at a Houston venue and just days after his funeral.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Alex Jones, notably for causing the panic over "Jade Helm".
  • Cool Airship: "The Airships of 1896" deal with some people claiming the creation of steampunk-like airships and... UFOs.
  • Cool Old Guy: Samuel Whittemore, whose story really didn't even begin until he was fifty years old and who, at age 78, took on a squad of Redcoats with a pair of dueling pistols and a cavalry sword, both of which he had taken from French soldiers who had "suddenly" died around him in previous wars. He was shot in the face... and then went on to live another eighteen years.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The subject of the AC vs. DC episode, with Thomas Edison (the proponent of DC; portrayed as a dimwitted but money-obsessed Sociopath) vs. Nikola Tesla (the proponent of AC; portrayed as a neurotic genius who eventually went completely insane).
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Ford calculating that it was cheaper to pay off injuries and deaths caused by the Pinto gas tank defect than recalling every Pinto to install a 11 dollar plastic part between the rear bumper and the gas tank. As Dave explains, court cases quickly disabused them of this notion.
    • This trope and Corrupt Politician form a tag team when it comes to everyone involved in the Coalition Provisional Authority following The War on Terror, and before the war, in the case of Donald Rumsfeld and other people involved in the push for The War on Terror.
    • Corrupt Corporate Executive and Corrupt Politician form a tag team in "Martin Tabert and Convict Leasing" where sheriffs, judges, lumber companies and legislators were all in a scheme to use convicts as cheap labor in lieu of slavery.
  • Coupled Couples: "The Yankee Pitcher Switch", with the twist that the two couples were already married before the switch of lovers.
  • Crazy Is Cool: In-Universe this is Dave's opinion of Teddy Roosevelt. (Most would agree.)
    Dave: Greatest president ever. Greatest president ever. Out of his fucking mind.
    Gareth: (Roosevelt impression) "Bully!"
    Dave: (Roosevelt impression) "If you're not going to war, Teddy's going to war!
  • Create Your Own Villain:
    • Benedict Arnold was originally known as one of the most loyal, upright and fiercely patriotic men in the Continental Army, but a vicious smear campaign conducted by his fellow generals behind his back — including his own friend, the double-dealing careerist Horatio Gates — painted him as a greedy incompetent. He could not be reimbursed for paying his underfunded men out of his own pocket, and many of his victories were discounted or taken credit for by the others, so that all that remained were his defeats (most of which were due to extenuating circumstances); soon, he was unable to defend himself against Congressional and public opinion, even as his own men and Washington himself knew him as a brilliant seaman and tactician. After being robbed of credit by Gates in the Battle of Saratoga (in which he nearly lost his leg) and going deeper into bankruptcy, he was prosecuted by the zealous anti-Loyalist Joseph Reed for minor corruption in Philadelphia to try and recoup his losses, a trial which culminated in Benedict getting a formal reprimand from his hero Washington. With Arnold at an all-time low, his Loyalist friends and relatives convinced him to end the war from the other side, turning him into one of the most infamous traitors in American history.
      Gareth: This is very much — this IS a villain origin story.
  • Crossover: With "My Favorite Murder". The hosts of My Favorite Murder were special guests on the Dollop's 200th episode, and Dave was a special guest on MFM's first live episode.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Cornelisz and other surviving mutineers from the Batavia shipwreck had a hand cut off using only a hammer and a chisel, and in Cornelisz' case, both hands, before being hanged to death. They were also tortured with a primitive form of waterboarding, but that said, it's hard not to think they deserved it for being responsible for so many murders after the shipwreck.
    • If the conspiracy is to be believed, Gloria Ramirez, the "Toxic Lady of Riverside", died when someone accidentally used the wrong IV bag that contained methylamine, which decomposes into hydrogen cyanide, instead of the usual saline solution.
    • Hugh Glass' early companion, who was pin-cushioned with thousands of pine needles then set on fire by a hostile Indian tribe.
    • Martin Tabert's death clearly qualifies. Malnourished, suffering of weeping sores for the labor conditions at the convict camps, and then gets several severe whippings at the hands of the camp's "whipping boss" hours before finally succumbing to the injuries.
  • Cult: Featured in several Dollops: "The Rajneeshees", "John Africa and MOVE", "Alfred Lawson and Lawsonomy", "James Strang: Island Mormon", "More University and One Taste Incorporated", "The Texas Hypnocult" and "Charles Dederich and Synanon".

  • Cut Himself Shaving:
    • Mentioned in the episode "Ugly Laws", where people in Colonial America would take paupers into their house for money but weren't motivated to treat them well.
    Gareth: [Cockney accent] How’s your pauper? Ya feedin' 'im nice? He’s very bruised.
    Dave: [Cockney accent] Yeah 'e keeps runnin' into stairs and whatnot. He’s a right wobbly pauper 'e is.
    • The camp doctor declared that Martin Tabert died of malaria, and not from all the sores and the whippings he had received at the camp.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check:
    • Though Shawn Nelson was not in a good mental state due to constant drug abuse and may have sunk too much into the plan already to back out, his scheme of perpetuating a phony mine in his backyard by buying real scrap gold and secreting it in the tunnels was this — as they point out, if you've got enough money to be buying gold waste, you can just buy a steady supply of meth instead, and not HAVE to fool anyone into digging for fake gold. Conflating matters, he was hiring fellow addicts and paying them in meth that he could've been smoking himself.
    • The story of Fred Demara, a man with an extremely high IQ and eidetic memory, who went AWOL from the Army and began a life of travelling across North America using forged identities to obtain jobs he had no prior skill in — even after he was busted and served his time for desertion. Dave makes clear that not only could a guy as smart as Fred have gained legal employment easily, but he was only a year away from getting ordained in the Cistercian brotherhood when he suddenly quit, so being a monk could've also kept him from serving in WWII and out of the whole mess in the first place.note 
    • Dave remarks that with the intelligence Michael Larson displayed with his scheme to exploit Press Your Luck, he could have had much more success and earn more money in working a regular job.
    • In the episode concerning the Symbionese Liberation Army (who famously kidnapped and brainwashed Patty Hearst, daughter of newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst), Dave points out that if they needed money, they could have simply pretended to have Patty — who, again, was totally brainwashed — escape, try and get a million or so dollars out of her father, and then let her come back to them on her own, solving their funding issues at least for a time. Instead, they tried to rob banks.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: The hosts enjoy portraying David Hahn's parents as begging him to just masturbate instead of spending all his time messing with dangerous chemicals.
  • Deadly Gas:
    • The mysterious attacks of "The Mad Gasser", now thought to be mostly the result of mass hysteria.
    • The gas given off by Gloria Ramirez's body was so potent that it killed the knee bones of a nurse who inhaled it.
  • Deadly Prank: When Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin were visiting a country doctor's homestead and Mickey went to ask permission to hunt on his land, the doctor agreed, but asked if Mantle could do him a favor and shoot his blind, lame mule, because it had to be put down anyway and the man didn't have the heart to do it. Mickey finally agreed, and decided to pull one on his friend by pretending that he was killing the mule as retaliation for not being allowed on the property; Billy, ever the supportive friend, then shot two of the guy's cows.
  • Dead Person Conversation: In-Universe. The case of the "Greenbrier Ghost", the only US case in which the testimony of the ghostly apparition of the murder victim, Zona Haester Shoe, was ruled admissible; this was after the defense brought up the story of the ghost talking to her mother in order to discredit the mother's testimony, but not only the jury bought it, the judge ruled it admissible since it was the defense that brought it up in the first place and not the prosecutors.
  • Deceptive Disciple: Occultist/rocket scientist Jack Parsons found himself swindled out of tens of thousands of dollars, his yacht, and his girlfriend by his disciple L. Ron Hubbard.
  • Depraved Dentist: Discussed in an episode about Colonial American dentistry. Early American dentists were mostly charlatans who liked to maintain a steady stream of repeat customers, so some of their "remedies" were less than healthy or sanitary.
  • Determinator:
    • Hugh Glass. Being mauled by a family of bears and left for dead by his fellow mountain men didn't kill him, it just made him angry.
    • Samuel Whittmore, age 78, fought a British brigade all by himself, was shot in the face, bayoneted several times and left for dead — when the colonial forces found him, he was found trying to reload his musket to resume the fight. He died 18 years later at the age of 96.
    • Even losing most of his skin couldn't stop Douglass Mawson from getting back to base camp across Antarctica.
    • John Wayne Thompson didn't let losing his arms in a combiner accident to send him into panic. He calmly found a way to get into his house, dial for help and then go into the shower so as to not bleed on the carpet.
    • David Sanders, Andrew Peterson and James Tucker, fighting off Auburn Calloway after all three getting seriously injured by hammer blows to the head during Calloway's attempt at hijacking "Fed Ex Flight 705" in order to commit insurance fraud and suicide.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • The podcast has done whole 4 part series on the corruption of the early LAPD.
    • The cops in Sri Lanka in the Reg Spiers episode, which actually turned out to be a good thing since Reg escaped a death penalty because they'd stolen the evidence against him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Played With with regards to James Lewis, who framed a former employer of his wife's by attempting to frame him for a mass poisoning of Tylenol Capsules. He didn't want his former employer to take the fall for it, but hoped that the FBI would open an investigation into his finances which would prove that he had embezzled a bunch of money from the company. He did this because his wife's final check from the company bounced after they had taken it to a check-cashing place, and they were asked to return the money. The amount of money in question? 500 dollars. Of which they only returned 50.
  • The Ditz: George "The Rube" Waddell.
  • Do a Barrel Roll: Captain Sanders did that in "Fed Ex Flight 705" as a way to keep Calloway unbalanced and not fully overpower Tucker and Peterson, who were already seriously injured. Oh yeah, and he did it with just one functioning arm, on a DC-10, a plane not designed for doing barrel rolls.
  • Dolphins, Dolphins Everywhere: And they're being given LSD. And handjobs.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Wil Anderson ends up explaining a few Australia-specific jokes to Dave and Gareth in the Burke and Wills episode.
  • Downer Ending: Given the nature of the episodes, many of the podcast episodes end in this.
  • Dreadlock Rasta: The Dreads in the "Bayou of Pigs" episode.
  • Driven to Suicide: Several unfortunate examples, including Ida Craddock, Stephanie Albright and Percy the dolphin.
  • Drunk with Power: Jeronimus Cornelisz, an unassuming Dutch East India Company merchant, was left in charge of most of the stranded passengers and crew of the Batavia after she ran aground off the coast of Australia and the captain sailed off to Indonesia to get help. He used his position to have most of the castaways murdered for no reason other than he felt like it, decked himself out in the gold the ship was carrying, and tried to set up his own kingdom.
  • Dry Crusader:
    • Carry A. Nation, a crusade that mostly took the form of storming bars and smashing everything in sight with a hatchet.
    • A splinter group of the Bald Knobbers tried to become this. They weren't very successful.
    • Robert Strang imposed this on the Strangites branch of the Mormon church.
  • Duel to the Death: As a history podcast they crop up fairly often in the older set episodes, and a Running Gag in the "Jackson Cheese" episode.
  • The Dung Ages: Any story set in America before the 20th century, but particularly the 1800s.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The first few Dollops have since been removed from circulation due to how awkward they now seem, having just Dave shouting on his own without Gareth to provide reaction and discussion.
    • And the first few Dollops that have Gareth still seem awkward as they hadn't yet working out how to start their episodes and lack the podcast's intro tune.
  • Enemy Mine: During the Ten Cent Beer Night riots, the rival Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians banded together to fight off drunken rioters. With their bats.
  • Energy Weapon: The Pendragon conspirators proposed mounting a laser cannon on the summit of Mt. Tamalpais to melt the Richmond-San Rafael and Golden Gate bridges and turn Marin County into a neo-feudal kingdom.
  • Epic Fail: One particular Fenian raid was so bad that the Irish ended up losing US Territory to the British, when the whole purpose of the raids was to conquer Canada and exchange it for Ireland.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto:
    • You'd think the Pinto's tendency to explode would have disqualified it from the running as the model for a flying car wouldn't you?
  • Exact Words: Dave firmly reassures Gareth that Boston Corbett didn't cut off his penis with a pair of scissors, and it's true, he didn't. He cut off his testicles instead.
    Gareth: Nonono nono! Nono! Cuz I don't want you to say that this guy might cut his penis off!
    Dave: I can tell you right now that he won't cut his penis off.
    Gareth: Okay... alright.
    Dave: I'd not do a story about a guy that cuts off his dick. He went home, and grabbed a pair of scissors, and cut off his-
    Dave: -he cut off his testicles!
    Gareth: SON OF A...!
  • Extremely Short Timespan:
    • The main events of "The Third Wave", from the rising action to the climax and falling action, take place over April 3-7, 1967; during a single school week, Ron Jones's class not only latched onto their teacher's vague principles and promises to create a full-blown fascist youth movement, but developed coded salutes, hung posters, started ostracizing and snitching on non-believers, and began recruiting members from off campus. (One student, Sherry Tousley, even took it solely upon herself to act as a resistance movement called "The Breakers".) At certain points, Gareth interrupts the narrative just so Dave can confirm that, yes, it's still only Wednesday or Thursday.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Phineas Gage's left eyelid had to be sewn shut following him having a thirteen pound iron bar blown through his skull.
    • Auburn Calloway gouged out the First Officer's eye during "Fed Ex Flight 705".
    • Deputy Evans gets a fatal version as he's shot through the eye in an ambush in the "Norco Shootout" episode.
  • False Reassurance: Dave frequently reassures Gareth that nothing bad is about to happen in the story, which Gareth rightly never believes.
  • Fatal Family Photo: A variation in "The Norco Shootout", with Dave mentioning that one of the pursuing officers, Deputy James Evans, had a young son at home; as Evans, who Dave stresses was a former Lt. Green Beret in Vietnam, was trying to rout the robbers from behind and fending off multiple shots, a high-powered bullet went right through his eye to his brain, killing him instantly. Gareth admits he kind of saw this coming, but had hoped Dave included it to subvert his expectations.
  • Feel No Pain: Oofty Goofty acquired this ability after being hurled onto a hard cobblestone street, and used to walk the streets of San Francisco charging people a nickel to kick him, fifteen cents to hit him with a cane, and a quarter to hit him with a baseball bat. This lasted until he ran into legendary bareknuckle boxer John L. Sullivan, who broke his back in three places with a pool cue.
  • Feudal Future: What the Pendragon attempted to turn Marin County into.
  • Fighting Irish: "The Fenian Raids", an episode on an organisation of Irish Americans who tried to invade Canada. They failed spectacularly.
  • Finger Poke of Doom: Count Dante claimed to have this technique, in the self-titled episode.
  • Football Hooligans: Philadelphia sports fans. Baseball hooligans are also discussed in "Ten Cent Beer Night" and "Disco Demolition Night".
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: Several episodes feature Gareth reading stories to an unsuspecting Dave instead of the other way around: "Pulgasari", "Nim The Chimp", "The Rise and Fall of Atari", "The Domino's Pizza Story", "Animal Behavior Enterprises" and "The Phantom Of The Open".
  • For Science!: Shenanigans ensue in several episodes where some people did things for science, regardless of consequences. These include:
    • David Hahn and his love of everything radioactive.
    • William Beaumont and his fascination with St. Martin's stomach hole.
    • John Lilly and his interest in combining dolphins and drugs.
    • Milton Rokeach and his idea of having three delusional men, each believing to be Jesus, put together in the same room.
    • Walter Jackson Freeman and his lobotomies.
    • Herbert Terrace and Thomas Bever raising Nim the chimp as a human.
    • Francis LeMoyne and his obsession with cremation.
    • Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, and their torture techniques, both on dogs and on humans.
  • Frame-Up: A particularly bad example when several members of the "Marblehead Smallpox Riots", believing that the region's new inoculation hospital would instead spread smallpox, tried to get it shut down by repeatedly attempting to frame it... by spreading smallpox!
  • From Nobody to Nightmare:
    • Cornelisz, who rose from being a merchant to a tyrannical leader following the shipwreck of the Batavia.
    • To a lesser degree, Don Black, who was a failed mercenary in the "Bayou of Pigs" to being the founder of Stormfront.
  • Functional Addict: Dolphin expert John Lilly was his own first test subject for his experiments with LSD. He later took massive amounts of ketamine and PCP and wound up believing he was in contact with a computer god named 'ECCO'. Sound familiar?
  • Gag Penis: The tale of Edmund Creffield and his Holy Rollers is consistently undercut by Edmund's impressively large penis.
  • Genre Savvy: Gareth and Patton Oswalt have both noted several "buzz words" that usually indicate the story is going in a particularly bad direction — the term "self-educated", the creation of new religions, loss of family at a young age, and anything set in the 1800's. After the first few dozen Dollops, Gareth also begins to get a much keener sense of just when a story will take a turn for the worse (usually, it's when the situation seems to be getting better).
    Gareth: I kinda miss when I knew nothing. It was a simpler time.note 
  • George Jetson Job Security: Over the course of the two-parter on Billy Martin, George Steinbrenner, for reasons ranging from disciplinary to inexplicable, fires and then rehires Billy as Yankees manager no less than five times — usually canning him after he'd rallied the team to a successful season, then taking him back after public outcry or the subsequent season going badly, then firing him again, and so on. Plans were already in place for Billy to begin a sixth stint in 1989, and would've gone through if he hadn't died soon after in a Christmas drunk-driving accident. At a certain point, Gareth stops trying to see any logic in it.
    Dave: "Billy VI" is here.
    Gareth: If it outdoes Rockys, it's a problem.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Michael Larson's modus operandi.
  • Girl Watching: The apropos The Girl Watchers episode, on the rise and fall of 'The Girl Watchers Society'.
  • Glory Hound: The reason that the famous Heimlich manoeuvre is named after its creator, his lust for recognition. And it still wasn't enough...
  • Going Postal: Auburn Calloway on "Fed Ex Flight 705", in a very Taking You with Me way.
  • Gold Fever:
    • Though fuelled as much by meth as by greed, Shawn Nelson had definitely caught it when he decided to mine for gold in his back yard.
    • An Oil version in the "Oil Boomtowns of Texas" episode.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • The Third Wave experiment, which began as left-liberal history teacher Ron Jones' attempt to explain to his students how social and physical regimentation creating a feeling of "belonging" led Germans to accept the rising Nazi Party. It was only intended to last a day and be explained afterward, but the exercise's lasting success led Ron to improvise further steps... until he realized he'd created a genuine fascist movement that was starting to stretch beyond campus, in less than a week, and killed it on the fifth day just as dramatically as he started it.
      Gareth: "I'm Hitler now, baby! I don't know HOW it happened, but it's Thursday at 1:45 and I'm Adolf Hitler!"
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery:
    • Discussed in "The Yankee Pitcher Swap", regarding how public opinion at the time was sympathetic towards Mike Kekich and Marilyn Peterson — who couldn't emotionally handle a relationship that wasn't purely sexual and drifted apart — but scorned Fritz Peterson and Mike's wife Suzanne for doing the same thing and finding happiness together.
    • Daniel Sickles, an infamous frequenter of prostitutes who continued his philandering ways long after his wedding — even bringing infamous madam Fanny White abroad and introducing her to the Queen — couldn't handle the revelation that his wife was cheating on him and shot her lover Philip B. Key point-blank while he was begging for his life. Not only did Dan manage to arouse total public sympathy for the act, but he was heralded for a time as a defender of virtue.note 
      Gareth: I love that she's living this torrid life, the whole story is about avoiding him finding out — meanwhile, he's just banging everything! "He'd be livid if he found out I replicated his behavior!"
  • Good Is Not Nice: Discussed at the end of "The Two Dog Men". Both hosts agree that although Henry Bergh was definitely the hero of the story, his arrogant attitude and sometimes hypocritical actions made him come across as a snobbish prick compared to the working class Kit Burn.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Occasionally happens when famous people or things are revealed to have strange backgrounds.
    • In the Cereal Men episode, Gareth repeatedly ran into this trope as he found out about the origins of Graham Crackers and the major breakfast cereal manufacturers.
    • In the "Modern Bushman", it's David's turn when he's told that the game known in America as "Telephone" is called "Chinese Whispers" in Australia by Wil Anderson and the rest of the audience; this after Gareth correctly guessed beforehand that (in true Australian fashion) their version of it was called something racist.
    • Happens again in "The Two Indigenous Actors" when it dawns on Gareth that Iron Eyes Cody, one of the people Dave has been talking about, is the famous Crying Indian from the "Keep America Beautiful" commercial. He's further broken with the revelation that Iron Eyes Cody was actually not Native American, but the son of Sicilian immigrants all along.
  • Grave Robbing: The topic comes up with disturbing frequency.
    Gareth: Can't we have one episode recently that doesn't involve violating a body?
  • Groin Attack:
    • Frank Fosset's kick on Doc Carver. (With a high ground advantage for extra leverage!)
    • "Monkey steals the peach" in the martial arts themed "Count Dante" episode.
    • Dr. Kellogg's preferred treatment for curbing masturbation in children was to staple their foreskin shut with no anesthesia for boys and outright genital mutilation for girls.
    • During a sudden heated confrontation with Billy Martin, Yankees pitcher Ed Whitson — who was drunk, holding a grudge, almost 20 years younger, and had a significant height/weight advantage on the scrappy older man — kicked him in the groin so hard that it actually raised Billy off the ground. After a moment spent doubled in agony, Billy straightened up, took a breath, looked Whitson in the eyes, and said firmly, "Now I'm going to have to kill you." Gareth, for all the times he's been horrified at Billy's violent streak, admits Ed went too far that time.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy:
    • The North Korean soldiers assigned to guard a pair of kidnapping victims, who were persuaded by their charges to take a separate taxi and follow them. And when the victims' taxi deviated from their route, the soldiers called the driver to ask where they were going. Or for that matter Kim Jong-il who allowed his kidnapped prisoners to go to Vienna in the first place to attend a film festival. When he learned what had happened, instead of realizing they escaped, he assumed they were kidnapped by the United States and sent out a message offering to help them return to Pyongyang.
    • The bailiffs who accidentally left murderer Frank Fossett unguarded for half an hour, allowing him to simply walk out of the courtroom and disappear from history.
    • President Abraham Lincoln's Secret Service Body Guard left him totally unguarded in the middle of a play to go and drink at a tavern across the street, allowing John Wilkes Booth to sneak into the Presidential Box and shoot him.
  • Foreshadowing: Dave starts the "Norco Shootout" podcast by talking about Deputy Evans' life, so he gets killed in an ambush.
  • Haunted House: The duo discuss several supposedly haunted locals as well as various other ghost stories in an episode simply titled "Ghosts".
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Anthony Comstock as a straight example, and the leaders of the Newport sex scandal as an Armoured Closet Gay group.
  • Hiding Behind Religion: Thomas Kinkade, a drunken reprobate with numerous kinky fetishes who posed as a God-fearing Christian moralist to get people to buy his cheesy paintings.
  • History Repeats: The Episode on the "Know-Nothing Party" has both Dave and Gareth point out how it's almost the same, beat by beat, to the current political climate in the US. It's only some of the targets that have changed.
  • Hollow World: An episode on those who first tried to propose the idea of a hollow Earth as a genuine "scientific" theory.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Gareth keeps saying he likes someone or something during the "Bayou of Pigs" episode, only for Dave to reveal something terrible they did, causing Gareth to backtrack his support.
  • Human Mail:
    • Oofty Goofty once agreed to be mailed to a young lady as a prank, unfortunately ending up spending the weekend upside down in a warehouse.
    • Reg Spiers was even more ambitious and suffered correspondingly worse for it, mailing himself across several continents in a 5 day ordeal, 63 hours of which were spent confined in a small crate, all to avoid having to pay for a plane ticket. (Mailing cash-on-delivery to a fake address, then running away without paying when he arrived.)
      • Then there was Brian Robson, who was inspired by Reg Spiers and tried to duplicate his flight but the opposite way. He fared even worse because unlike Reg, who had at least planned somewhat beforehand, Brian didn't do any research at all and would have died had he not been caught halfway through the voyage.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Dave and Gareth come to this conclusion on several podcasts, but most notable the ones with racism, in which case it's a case of White People Are Bastards.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After a whole episode about multiple attempts by various terrorists to steal the body of Abraham Lincoln, Gareth concludes that the Aesop is to just have yourself cremated:
    Dave: Okay, let's do it.
    Gareth: Huh?
    Dave: You and me, we'll do it. Let's go to Lincoln's tomb, steal his body, and burn it to put an end to this shit once and for all.
  • I Die Free: Ida Craddock, who slit her wrists rather than spend the rest of her life in prison on obscenity charges.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: "The story of David Hann, a boy who loved science and did a bad thing."
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Several episodes delve into people eating other people, and sometimes people eating themselves.
  • Implacable Man: Hugh Glass, driven by his desire to get back at the cunts that left him to die.
  • Implausible Deniability:
    • Dave was unable to find out what Mark Richards' alibi was other than that it was implausible, but the hosts have some fun speculating.
    Dave: I was flying a boat!
    Gareth: I invented a new blimp!
    Dave: I was inside a frog friend!
    • Every excuse the 23-year-old French imposter Frédéric Bourdin used to claim he was the sixteen year old American Nicholas Barclay.
  • Impostor Forgot One Detail: "The Chameleon", with the twist that said "detail" was that the copied person had almost certainly being Dead All Along, his murder covered up by some of the same people that the impostor was trying to fool.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: The Coalition Provisional Authority following The War on Terror. Dave explains how surprised he was to learn that the majority of the damage wrought upon the area by the U.S had nothing to do with warfare but instead the sheer incompetence in dealing with the local economy afterwards.note 
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Dave gets a groan out the audience for explaining that Dan Morgan's brief gold prospecting venture didn't pan out.
  • Inherently Funny Words:
    • Or name in the case of George Meany, leader of the AFL-CIO, during the "Hard Hat Riot" and overall bad guy for the episode — so when they would have to mention him by name, it would send Dave and Gareth into giggling fits.
    • Same happens with Walter Balls-Headley, a Cambridge professor with some rather antiquated, but normal for the time, views on sex and women, who served as a foil to William James Chidley AKA 'The Australian Sex Philosopher'. Every time Dave brings up Balls-Headley, Dave, Gareth, and guest star Nick Cody get into a giggling fit.
    • "The Tichborne Situation" features a secretary called Truth Butts, which causes Wil, Gareth and Dave to make tons of jokes whenever his name pops out, and at times of the story when he wouldn't.
    • John Batman, a real person that lived in Australia. You can't help but to picture the superhero in the situations Dave describes.
  • Inkblot Test: A variant of the inkblot test was Jack Parsons' favourite way of divining the future. It involved him masturbating onto a piece of paper.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Oh Lord, where do we begin?
  • Iron Butt Monkey: Leonard "Oofty Goofty" Borchardt practically made this his career, going from one painful occupation to the next. For context, the first of these jobs involved getting covered in irremovable tar and hair for a freak show and they just got even whackier from there, in both senses of the word.
  • It Will Never Catch On: In the Jack Parsons episode, Gareth mocks Parsons and his partner selling their shares of what would become the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and thinking they got the better end of the deal since they didn't believe rocketry would have any applications in peacetime:
    Gareth: "Apple"? A Computer named "Apple"?
    • Speaking of which, in The Story of Atari episode, Gareth mentions how Nolan Bushnell was approached by two of his employees who asked him for some money in exchange for 30% stake in their company. Bushnell turned them down. Said employees? Steve Jobs and Steve Wosniak.
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: Jackie Mitchell, a young girl, struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gherig during an exhibition game.
  • Joke and Receive:
    • In "The Lobotomy Doctor", Gareth makes a joke about Walter Freeman creating a "Mobile Lobotomy Unit" out of a van. Dave then relates how the cruelty of Freeman's new technique caused his partner to cut ties with him...:
    Dave: So Freeman was like "Well, I'm not stopping this shit" and he took it on the road. So he bought a van...
    Gareth: ...weren't we just doing a hypothetical joke about him being in a van doing this shit? He's got a van? "Lobotomobile!"
    Dave: ...I wish I was kidding, he called it "Lobotomobile"!
    • In the "Animal Behavior Enterprises" Reverse Dollop, after Gareth's painstaking description of the expense, planning and Body Horror involved in "Operation Acoustic Kitty" and how the eponymous cat was dropped off across the street from the Soviet Embassy in Washington D.C. for his first mission, Dave deadpans that the cat was immediately hit by a car. Sure enough, that's exactly what happened.
    Dave: Goddamn it! How did I know what was going to happen? Because... it's obvious.
    Gareth: Because it's a cat.
    • In the "Jim Traficant and Crimetown USA" episode, after establishing the Wretched Hive nature of Youngstown, Dave suddenly mentions the name "Ed O'Neill". Gareth immediately cuts him off jokingly claiming it's actor Ed O'Neill of Married... with Children and Modern Family fame. Turns out that was the Ed O'Neill Dave meant, who grew up in Youngstown and witnessed some of the violence first hand.
    Gareth: "When Jokes Become Facts!"
    • Because the "Mad Dan Morgan" live dollop took place the day before Dave's birthday, the podcast ends with Gareth presenting him with a gift from his Australian friends. Having ended the story with the reveal that Morgan wound up having his scrotum turned into a tobacco pouch, Dave jokingly asks if that's what his present is...
    Dave: I hope it's a scrotum!
    Dave: (Quietly) ...What?
    Gareth: It's a scrotum!
    Dave: It's a scrotum bag!
    Gareth: For your tobacco!
    Dave: It's a fucking kangaroo scrotum tobacco pouch! ...What the fuck is happening!?
  • Karma Houdini: The bad guys get away with their crimes unfortunately often.
  • Kavorka Woman: In the "Otto in the Attic" episode, Dave and the My Favorite Murder hosts are utterly baffled at how Walburga "Dolly" Oestreich managed to convince several men to either be their personal sex slave and live in an attic for a decade, dispose of potential murder weapons, or stay with her despite learning of the aforementioned sex slave despite looking like this.
  • Lack of Empathy: A long, long list indeed. As a podcast with subject matter often from significantly less civilised times, racism, sexism, classism and just general sociopathy abounds.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: "Cereal Men" and "John Pemberton's Drug Tonics" lose some of their shine if you tell someone what they're actually about ie: the beginnings of Kellogg's and Post cereals and Coca Cola respectively. They're still funny if people know what they're actually about, but part of the fun is the reaction from the people that are not familiar with that part of history.
  • Late to the Punchline: Episodes about more famous figures are often constructed to have an obvious payoff when the subject becomes clear, which can be well into the introduction or sometimes even later than that. Infamously, in one episode, even though he's already been learning about a Kentucky entrepreneur named Harland Sanders that opened his own fried-chicken restaurant, Gareth doesn't realize who Dave's been talking about until 40 minutes in... when Sanders receives his Kentucky Colonelcy.
  • Law of Disproportionate Response: An early expedition to New Zealand ended with a whole crew dead, and eaten, after failing to salute a Maori king properly, cutting timber, and going fishing without permission.
  • Lightmare Fuel: Several episodes are this, but "The Animal Horror of Macquarie Island" takes the cake, to the point that Dave had to explain on the following show that it was not gonna be as depressing as the previous one as it bordered on straight (In-Universe) Nightmare Fuel, if not at least Nausea Fuel.
    Dave: Last night we learned we can make any animal into oil.
  • Long List:
    • When Dave reads a list of types of people who could be taken into custody and sent to the poorhouse.
    Dave: All rogues, vagabonds, and idle persons going about town or country begging, or common pipers, fiddlers, runaways, drunkards, nightwalkers, pilferers, wanton persons, railers and brawlers, also persons under distraction, and...
    Gareth: I'm gonna go get a water.
    • Gareth has to have Dave repeat the list of Fritz Duquesne's aliases because he missed several due to laughing so hard the first time around.
    Dave: These included Frederick Barron, Colonel Bezin, F. Crabbs, Colonel Marquis Duquesne, Fred Buquesne, J.Q. Farn, Berthold Szabo, Von Goutard, Vam Dam, Fritters, Worthy, and Jim.
    • The name of the first volunteer firemen brigades, starting with the Union Fire Company, with others following soon after like the Heart in Hand, Hand in Hand, The Britannia, The King George III, and The Crown and the Beaver, among many others
    • While discussing an incident where British suffragists had undertaken a hunger strike, Dave mentions that it was easy for them to do because British food is awful, prompting Gareth to rattle off a bunch of made-up British dishes in a Monty Python pepperpot voice.
  • Look Both Ways: "When The Cars Came", a look a the early history of the car in the US and how no one had any concept of traffic safety, having grown up in a world of slow-moving horse-drawn wagons. Fatal accidents were commonplace, and it wasn't until In-Universe Propaganda Pieces that educated schoolchildren on the rules of the road and attacked city jaywalkers as country bumpkins that pedestrians started to not randomly walk into the middle of traffic — and even then, people still fought bitterly for decades to keep kids playing in the street, despite the majority of deaths being children and the elderly. (On the flip side, Dave also makes clear that the accidents and collisions weren't helped by early motorists driving however the hell they wanted, as fast as they pleased, with total indifference to new traffic signals, stop signs and right-of-way laws; plowing into groups of people waiting for trolleys was apparently a common problem.)
  • Loophole Abuse: Michael Larson's epic manipulation of the 'Press Your Luck' gameshow system.
    • Dave mentions a very amateurish negotiating move in the episode "The Molly Maguires", where railroad rep Franklin B. Gowen proposes to Philadelphia's first miners' union that their wages be tied to the average cost of coal, so that workers would be valued as much as product and both they and the companies would benefit. The union agreed, but — as was Gowen's plan all along — it also enabled the companies to greatly increase production to lower coal prices, making them even richer while miners did more work than they ever had before for less pay. (Similarly, the bill for the Reading Railroad's control of coal subsidiaries kept getting blocked by anti-trust senators in the Pennsylvania state legislature, so Franklin's associates just had it re-introduced and passed while those senators were out to lunch.)
  • Mad Doctor: Walter Freeman, John Brinkley and Harry Heimlich, all with horrifying results.
    • Dr. Henry Cotton — trained in psychiatry by some of the era's leading minds, but not at all an expert in biology or surgery — suspected that bodily infection was the cause of mental illness, and so began to conduct "research" by removing teeth from the patients at his mental hospital, leaving only bare gums without crowns or bridges; when most of his test subjects "relapsed", he moved on to digestive and reproductive organs. Cotton even removed all of his sons' teeth when one of them began acting out, then part of the younger's colon. Worst of all, not only did the medical world hail him as a genius, but brought his procedures into standard practice for years.
  • Made of Iron: Several "Dollopees" all survived things that would kill any normal human. Respectively:
    • Hugh Glass: Being mauled by a bear and left for dead in the frontier wilderness.
    • Samuel Whittemore: Shot in the face and bayonetted 13 times after fighting the British 47th regiment at the age of 80.
    • Carl Akeley: Survived being mauled by a leopard only to kill it by smashing its ribcage with his knees, and later gored in the face and smashed into the ground by an elephant.
    • Alexis St. Martin: Getting shot in the belly with a shotgun at point blank range and suffering powder burns to his exposed lung and stomach.
    • Michael "Iron Mike" Malloy: Being poisoned with wood alcohol and turpentine/fed broken glass and shrapnel/left unconscious and soaking wet out in the snow/run over repeatedly by a car.
    • William "Bricklayer Bill" Kennedy: Falling off a skyscraper and placing first in the Boston marathon despite suffering a bout of typhoid fever the year before.
    • Ralph Neves: Getting trampled to death by a horse and then revived with a shot of adrenaline to the heart.
    • Douglass Mawson: Trekking across the Antarctic tundra on foot for weeks as his malnourished body rotted alive and his skin fell off.
    • Marine Corp Lieutenant Colonel William Rankin, who survived a 47,000 foot plummet from a disabled F-8 Crusader jet through a massive thunderstorm, and who managed to parachute to safety and call an ambulance for help despite suffering from frostbite, damaged eyes, a nearly-severed finger, and a broken nose.
  • Madness Mantra: Gareth spends a great deal of "The Pedestrians" episode muttering "It's/For walking." in utter disbelief at the Serious Business aspect of the "sport" of pedestrianism.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Or rather 'Sex Roomba in the Attic', as was the case for Otto Sanhuber, Walburga Oesterreich's lover who would also do chore duties around the house whenever Walburga's husband was not at home, in the properly named episode 'Otto in the Attic'.
  • Major Injury Underreaction:
    • Phineas Gage, who had a volcano of bone and brain matter on his head, following an iron spike shooting through his head, simply had someone give him a ride on a stagecoach to the nearest town and when calmly sat at a hotel while waiting for the doctor to see him.
    • John Wayne Thompson, who lost both his arms, at the shoulder, in a farm accident. He manages to somewhat calmly get into his house, make TWO phone calls to request help, then he goes into the restroom and hides behind the curtain, so as to avoid bleeding on the carpet and from scaring his relatives with his gruesome injuries, and once help arrives he jokes nonchalantly. Some of this can be attributed to his body going in shock from such injuries.
  • Malicious Misnaming: The series most prominent Running Gag is Dave calling Gareth "Gary".
    Dave's son: Hi Gawy!
    Gareth: No!
    Dave: Nicely done my friend!
    Gareth: NO! (Dave starts laughing) NOOO!
    • And now every time the show records an episode live, sure enough:
    The Audience: ...Gary, Gary! GARY! GARY! GARY!
    • The most recent one came from Gareth's own mother, after blurting out that his nickname as a kid was "Garfie" and even "Lil' Garfie".
  • Maniac Monkeys: An ape actually, but the experiments on animal communication in "Nim The Chimp" went about as poorly as you'd expect from trying to raise a chimp as a human, especially for Nim himself.
  • Memetic Molester: (In-Universe) Popo Bawa, an evil spirit said to sexually assault men and women, with the added bonus that they needed to confess to being molested by Popo Bawa or continue to get sexually assaulted.
  • Mind-Control Conspiracy: In the episode "Tank Man" we're treated to the recording of a man by the name of "Chuck" expounding on a device he'd read about, shaped like a sphere with points that could control people through subliminal suggestion. Why yes, Chuck had been know to enjoy recreational drugs, however did you guess?
  • Misblamed: (In-Universe) In "The Two Indigenous Actors", Dave relates the story of Jay Silverheels and Iron Eyes Cody. Jay Silverheels worked tirelessly to advance Native Americans within the film industry and to reduce racism towards Native Americans among other teams, but was later seen as an Uncle Tom for his role of Tonto, leading to decreased roles later in his life when the views on Native Americans started to change due to his typecast. Meanwhile, Iron Eyes Cody got super famous, including getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, due to infamous Crying Indian commercial for the "Keep America Beautiful" campaign with the bonus ignominy of Iron Eyes Cody NOT being a Native American but rather Sicilian American, of all things. Bada Bing!
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Invoked but thankfully averted in "The Hippo Bill", in which it was proposed that America introduce hippos to its waterways as a food source.
  • Mood Whiplash: Many episodes switch between comedy and tragedy repeatedly due to the nature of the stories covered. Expect a lot of hilarious shenanigans, followed by sudden consequences, followed by even crazier stuff.
  • Moral Guardians: Anthony Comstock among others.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell, in the "Torture Psychologists", definitively qualify.
  • Mountain Man: Hugh Glass knew how to survive in the wilderness.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The extremely short-lived sport of Pedestranism, where people watched competitors walk in circles for days at a time.
  • Mundane Utility: Nábrók, aka Necropants are a pair of pants made from the skin of a dead man, which are believed in Icelandic witchcraft to be capable of producing an endless supply of money.
  • My Daughter Is Not A Slut: The episode on "Purity Balls".
  • My New Gift Is Lame: In "John Wayne Thompson's Armageddon", Dave utterly tears into Barbara Bush for having presented John with a post-accident gift of... an autographed photo of herself.
    Dave: What a fucking twat!
  • Mythology Gag: In "Captain Thunderbolt", Dave mentions two petty criminals named Head and Tickle, prompting guest host Wil Anderson to exclaim "Finally! This has become a tickling podcast!" in reference to the "...and this is not becoming a tickling podcast" used in the opening credits of most episodes.
  • Name's the Same: (In-Universe):
    • Towns in Indiana with names identical to famous foreign cities (and a man called Eddie Murphy) appear with strange frequency in the episode "Bank Robber Harry Pierpont".
    • Notoriously corrupt Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo, who shares a name with a Jerky Boys character.
  • Napoleon Delusion: Milton Rokeach's psychological experiments can be summed up as, "Let's get three mental patients who all think that they're Jesus, put them in a room together and see what happens!"
  • Nature Versus Nurture: Another recurring subject, the hosts occasionally confess to wondering what they themselves would have been like if raised in the societies being discussed.
  • Nausea Fuel (In-Universe):
    • The pair get into this when discussing the Phineas Gage case and his extensive head injury.
    • They also bring this up again when describing John Wayne Thompson's injuries and the following surgery to reattach his arms.
    • It's the reason why Dave decides to withhold the information on how Brooke Hart's body was found after the crabs feasted on it, so as to spare us from the details.
    • The details regarding New York city's woes with trash since its foundation. Of special note was swimming on the beach of Coney Island and then bumping into the carcasses of dead horses and other animals floating about, and just life in general on Barren Island.
    • The description of the first corpse to be cremated in America, which had inadvertently been left to decay for six months.
    • The episode on Carl Tanzler.
  • The Neidermeyer: A variation in Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler. He may have been a complete incompetent when it came to military strategy, but he proved surprisingly capable in his command of occupied New Orleans... and also a ruthless one, treating the embittered civilian population like a hostile enemy force to be punished for the slightest infraction. Some of his harsh edicts were, as Dave explains, necessary to stamp out potential Confederate uprising, while others (like declaring that any woman who insulted a Union soldier was not a lady, but a "woman of the night") were needlessly petty and served to make him one of the foremost villains of Southern propaganda. Lincoln, meanwhile, was forced into a dilemma of keeping the incompetent general, who had caused international incident and was profiteering off looting and trade monopolies, or risk backlash at firing a man still popular and connected in the North.
  • Noodle Incident: Kit Burns would always refuse to disclose the method by which his rat supplier caught his rats, supposedly in the name of professional courtesy.
    Dave: Would you ask a chef how he bakes his pies? That's insulting! I'm not telling you how he catches the rats.
    Gareth: (Conspiratorial whisper) ...But it involves chocolate!
  • No Pronunciation Guide: The difficulty of correctly pronouncing unfamiliar names is an endless source of frustration for Dave. It almost becomes a drinking game when he does episodes in Australia.
    • Inverted in the "Steven Seagal" episodes, where Gareth is initially convinced that Dave is mispronouncing Seagal's name, only to learn that Seagal changed it himself.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Frequently, due to the nature of the show. Dave will often preface particularly insane facts with one of these.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: Played with in "The Jumper", where the common folk belief was that it could, since the air around you would be moving to fast to breathe. Part of the reason for Robert Emmet Odlum's stunt jumps was to debunk this myth.
  • Nun Too Holy: Mother Amadeus, Stagecoach Mary's lesbian lover.
  • Oh, Crap!: Providing this reaction as the host reads is the co-host's purpose in the podcast.
  • Offered the Crown: The orchestrators of "The Business Plot" approached retired Marine Corp General Smedley Butler and offered to make him the dictator of a new American fascist regime not knowing that he was an outspoken socialist. He refused and turned them in.
  • Oireland: The hosts always make a point to portray the shenanigans of the Irish as particularly hilarious. Expect accents.
    • Given the results of the Fenian raids in the episode of the same name, it's hard not to see their point.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: One of these was proposed to lead Marin County after the Pendragon takeover. If they had succeeded, two of the members would be Marin residents George Lucas and William Shatner.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten:
    • Fritz Peterson's wife-swapping with Mike Kekich. While Fritz, to this day, lives a happy marriage with Susanne, Kekich's original wife, his reputation suffered with the public and was constantly booed, to the point that the public sent more letters to the baseball commissioner regarding this than the much-reviled implementation of the DH rule in the American League.
    • Kekich's life was also greatly affected, but the public seemed to take pity of him as his part of the wife-swap didn't work and he ended up splitting from Fritz' wife, Marilyn.
  • Only Mostly Dead:
    • Hugh Glass, after being horrifically wounded in a bear attack — to the point that his ribs were exposed in places from how deep the flesh was gouged — was holding up the Ashley trapping party with his injuries; wanting to scout on ahead, they assigned two other men to wait for him to die and bury him, then regroup later. Eventually, the two abandoned him (while defending themselves, they claimed, from an Arikara attack) and rejoined the Ashley party. Hugh, basically a walking corpse but still not dead, and now very pissed off, crawled hundreds of miles to find them and take revenge. He wound up forgiving both men, or, in Fitzgerald's case, at least sparing his life.
    • Ralph Neves, as it turns out, was not dead despite being thrown from his horse, and managed to make it back to the track the same day.
  • Ouija Board: One episode examines its origins.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The people involved in the "Fine Cotton Scandal" painted a horse with very limited success when they tried to pass it off as a different horse known for having poor performance in an attempt to scam the betting odds.
  • Paparazzi: The media hounded John Wayne Thomson after his accident so much that Dave feels the need to specifically dissuade the listeners from bothering him further after hearing about him from the podcast.
  • Person of Mass Destruction:
    • A very tragic example with the unwitting Gloria Ramirez, The "Toxic Lady of Riverside", whose body, while still alive, started to expel toxic fumes that caused several people to get sick, faint, et al... to the point the hospital had to be evacuated due to the health risks it posed.
    • David Hahn managed to contaminate several houses with radiation due to his experiments. The property where he performed those experiments had to become a superfund cleanup site.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Boxer Doc Anderson was scouted to deliberately throw his match against Mark Gastineau, but after having been repeatedly cheated by his ex-manager who was now representing Gastineau...
    Anderson: Mark? I'm gonna hurt you.
  • Lizard Folk: People seeking buried treasure under Fort Moore Hill at one point thought 4,000 years ago, an ancient advanced civilization built an underground city right under Los Angeles... made of "Lizard People".
  • Press-Ganged: The subject of the episode "The Shanghai Kellys".
  • Produce Pelting: Philadelphia sports fans started one memorable riot by hurling rotten tomatoes and oranges before upgrading to iceballs, beer bottles, and D-cell batteries. Their favorite target was, and is, black athletes, even if they're playing for Philly.
  • Profane Last Words: When recounting a brief history of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, Dave reveals that he allegedly screamed, "cunt, I've been hit!" after being assassinated with a submachine gun. It takes a moment for the sheer ridiculousness of it to hit Gareth.
  • Punny Name:
    • Prohibitionist Carry A. Nation, who kept the name even after divorce for this very reason.
    • Nim Chimpsky, a chimp used in language evolution studies, was a deliberate jab at linguistic scientist Noam Chomsky.
    • Reg Spiers, a competitive level javalin thrower.
    • John Duncan "Jock" Semple, a former champion marathon runner who became an athletic physiotherapist and referee / organizer of the Boston Marathon.
  • Punny Title: John Wayne Thompson's Armageddon, an episode about John Wayne Thompson's horrific farm accident where he lost both arms.
  • Purity Sue: Discussed and Averted In-Universe with Clifford Clinton. Dave and Gareth both agree that his indiscretions made him all the more likeable to them because they served to humanise him.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Bert Kreischer takes a sidebar during "The Two Indigenous Actors" to enthusiastically discuss the quicksand fetish he got watching Lone Ranger reruns as a kid, to the stunned bemusement of Dave and Gareth (who assume at first there has to be more to it than just girls in mud, but no).
  • Rain Dance: The profession of self proclaimed "moisture accelerator" Charley Hatfield, which backfired spectacularly when he was sued for storm damages.
  • Ramp Jump: "The Two Daredevils", all about the car and motorcycle stunts of Evel Knievel and Ken Carter.
  • Religious Bruiser: Deconstructed with the story of "Destroying Angel" Porter Rockwell, who was really just a murderous drunken psychopath Joseph Smith and Brigham Young kept around to kill their enemies.
  • Riches to Rags: Lenny Dykstra, who went from a multimillionaire baseball player and real estate tycoon to a penniless criminal.
    • John DeLorean, who went from the multi-millionaire rebel wunderkind of General Motors and later CEO of his own car company to spending the last ten years of his life living on Social Security.
  • The Rival:
    • Actors Edwin Forrest and William Macready, with disastrous results when people started taking sides.
    • Palaeontologists Edward Cope and Othniel Marsh who used to be friends, but wound up in a bitter feud over fossil rights and scientific recognition.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Hugh Glass' years long quest to find the men who left him to die.
    • Marvin Heemeyer and his homemade killdozer.
  • Robinsonade: The story of the Batavia. Which quickly devolved into Humans Are the Real Monsters for most of the survivors.
  • Rules Lawyer: Jock Semple, a man obsessed with the sanctity of the Boston Marathon and its code of conduct, who had a long history of attacking and physically removing any runner that didn't follow the rules — which, at a time when women weren't allowed in, included illegal entrant Kathrine Switzer in 1967. Once women were allowed by the Amateur Athletic Union to run the Boston Marathon, he became one of the biggest supporters of women in athletics.
  • Running Gag
    • Dave calling Gareth "Gary".
    • Referring to particularly badass survivors as "-the Hugh Glass of (X)!"
    • Dave's False Reassurance to a thoroughly disbelieving Gareth about how the stories play out.
    • Making fun of the Irish, especially while using the accent.
    • Dave loudly shouting the date and setting of the story to signal the start of the dollop.
    • Dave having trouble pronouncing the various exotic names that crop up and getting upset when people keep correcting him.
    • Jokes about the incredibly short life spans in the 1700s and 1800s (like the thirteen-year-old prisoner in the New South Wales story who was described as halfway through his life).
    • Whenever the two act out a hypothetical situation, one of the other characters is typically named Larry.
    • "Mmmm, Girl!"
    • Dave and Gareth messing the intro, every single episode.
    • Dave catching Pokemons at the start of every show during the recent Australian tour.
    • Gareth asking "Why?" whenever Dave mentions someone's completely natural reaction to a horrific event.
    • Dave doing an In-Universe advertisement for Talkspace at the start of the episode by mocking Donald Trump and whatever he did recently before the podcast was recorded, whether it be having issues with your spokesperson, threatening to launch nukes at Korea, throwing paper towels in Puerto Rico, et al — but never mentioning him by name.
    Dave:So say you're a guy...
    • The absolute obsession with fashion and looking proper in the 1800's; whenever Dave reads a period account or news story involving scenes of violence, tragedy or disaster, there's a very good chance it'll describe the state of everyone's clothing and if men still had their hats on, sometimes before even getting into the victims' injuries.
    • Single episode gags include:
      • Dads having incestuous thoughts about their daughters in the "Purity Balls" episode.
      • Hugh Glass constantly referring to the two guys that left him to die as cunts.
      • After mentioning that Pendragon Productions, a SF-based shirt manufacturer, got hate mail and death threats by confused people mistaking it for the Pendragon cult, Dave and Gareth portray nearly everyone involved in the case as big fans of their shirt detailing.
      • Andrew Jackson challenging everyone to a duel for the smallest of things, people calling Andrew Jackson's wife a whore, or a combination of both during the "Jackson Cheese" Episode.
      • The "Business Plot" and "Colonial Dentistry" episodes have a meatball-obsessed Mussolini and teeth worms respectively.
      • Charles Guiteau starting newspapers about things he liked.
      • David Hann's parents pleading with him to just masturbate.
      • John Cleves Symmes Jr. and later everyone else involved in the Hollow Earth theory insisting "I'm not crazy".
      • From the Jade Helm episode, conspiracy theorists claiming Michelle Obama is actually a man.
      • The referee from the Anderson vs Gastineau boxing match continually popping up wherever Gastineau went, just to insult his lack of fighting skills.
      • The early European-Australian colonists' inexplicable fixation with handkerchiefs.
      • The episode on the Burke and Wills expedition has two: "jerking the horse meat" and casual day laborers.
      • "Boy, she pops!" in the "The Bald Knobbers" episode.
      • Mad Dan Morgan's Odd Friendship with an Ox.
      • Swiss Antarctic adventurer Xavier Mertz yodeling. Even after he dies.
      • Jackie Coogan's missing pillowcase from "The Brooke Hart Kidnapping".
      • Jock Semple trying to have sex with the Boston Marathon in the "Jock and the Boston Marathon Women" episode.
      • George Wayne Smith and Christopher Gregory Harven being Barb Wire Bros in the "Norco shootout".
      • The New York Times reporting how the clothing and hats of the people who survived the Brooklyn Bridge Crush were damaged or injured - completely ignoring the people who wore them.
      • With the reveal that Rod Ansell was the inspiration for Crocodile Dundee, David, Gareth and Wil would every now and then go "That's no (insert object here)!" for the rest of the "Modern Bushman" episode.
      • "Rumducks" also known as Platypus.
      • "The Tichborne Situation" features two: Truth Butts and this case somehow being the Ur-Example (In-Universe) of things like podcasts, catphishing, nigerian prince scams and crowdfunding.
      • "Marion Zioncheck" features two as well: One is Wilford Brimley as a walrus and the other is Marion Zioncheck saying "Congregassional Immunity" after he does some shit, as away to get out of trouble. It gets bonus points when Wil and Gareth make an apropos callback when Zioncheck's Immunity gets revoked.
      • All Dolphins sound like Andrew "Dice" Clay in the "Animal Behavior Enterprises" Reverse Dollop... OH!
      • The "Icelandic History" episode has four!: Iceland's hatred for Denmark, Necropants, how literal Icelanders are when they come to name things and how Icelanders write everything that happens down.
      • Many, many fat jokes at the expense of T. Walter Williams, the Times reporter covering the 1908 New York to Paris Race; James Adomian in particular portrays him as a character akin to Fatty Arbuckle or Oliver Hardy.
  • Schedule Slip: Out of necessity, the podcast will shift to a weekly release instead of being bi-weekly, as it has been for the last couple of years.
  • Schmuck Bait: At one point in "The Yorkshire Witch", Dave describes how the Gosling family of Leeds came home one day to a small cake sitting on their kitchen table, and proceeded to eat it despite its "very keen and pungent taste"; they fell ill, but a local doctor managed to save their lives and discovered the cake was loaded with arsenic (which was attributed to Mary Bateman, a known poisoner). Gareth gets very hung up on how, even if you're hungry, eating mysterious baked goods an intruder left in your home is not a great idea.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Gareth has occasionally contemplated walking out after hearing about something particularly crazy.
    Dave: Soon patients were lining up to have goat balls put in their balls.
    Gareth: All right Dave! Um... it's been a lot of fun!
    Dave: Is this the end?
    Gareth: I think we might be there!
  • The Scrooge: Hetty Green, "The Witch of Wall Street", was a brilliant stock investor in the 19th century who amassed an enormous fortune through her business savvy, but was so cheap that she never rented her own office or furniture, refused to use hot water, ate mostly meat pies, and wore the same unclean dress every day until it began to rot and fall apart. When her young son Edward broke his leg, Hetty wasted valuable time looking for a free clinic rather than a hospital she could've afforded, and finally tried administering to him personally when she was recognized and turned away; predictably, the infection got worse and Ned lost the leg to gangrene.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: "The Pendragon".
  • Sentenced to Down Under: The main theme of the first Australian special, examining the country's early colonisation.
  • Serious Business:
    • Society had such strict views on the rules of hat wearing in 1920's America, that they eventually led to "The Straw Hat Riot". Dave even drops the trope name.
    • The rivalry between mid 19th Century actors Edwin Forrest and William Charles Macready, which led to a full blown riot. Also counts as a bit of a Deconstruction, since the rivalry of the actor's fans was essentially a proxy for the conflict between Americans and the British as well as the upper class vs. the working class.
    • Pemmican, a concentrated mixture of fat and dried ground meat used as a nutritious food. The Northwest Company and the Hudson Bay Company fought over a stolen shipment of it, with 21 fatalities, at what is historically known as The Battle of Seven Oaks. note 
    • The three-way battle between Brad Barker, Joe Wright, and Larry Stanley for the ownership rights to the RB2000 Rocket Belt, that eventually escalated into kidnapping and murder.
    • Mince pies, which for most of America's history were variously attacked by Puritans as Catholic idolatry, held up by New Englanders as a Christmas tradition and symbol of Yankee hospitality, scorned by foreigners as endemic of America's terrible diet, and vilified as indecent by the temperance movement. Even more interesting, the pies themselves — made in unsanitary conditions and consumed well after they'd gone stale — were widely acknowledged as unpleasant to eat; the thick crust and alcohol-fermented meat gave the eater diarrhea, indigestion and nightmare-hallucinations so vivid they were used as defenses in murder trials, and had even been proven to kill people that overindulged on them... but nobody dared refuse one when offered, because it was "bad luck".
  • Sex Is Evil: Moral crusaders against lasciviousness pop up a few times, unsurprisingly often intersecting with Sex Is Evil, and I Am Horny.
    • Certainly the opinion of Dr. John Kellogg, who made it his personal mission to curb both sex and masturbation in the general populace. Yes, that Kellogg.
    • When the devoutly religious Boston Corbett was walking down the street after a prayer meeting, a couple of prostitutes noticed him and offered to give him a good time, to which Boston felt an unusual sensation in his pants. Boston immediately recognized that this wasn't proper behavior for a man of God and went home; taking inspiration from the Gospel of Matthewnote , he cut open his scrotum with a pair of scissors and removed his testicles, removing all chance of temptation.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    • Dave describes Doc Carver, after having been kicked in the balls, as falling over '-like a guy who'd just been kicked in the balls!'
    • The "Icelandic History" dollop, with Icelandic comedia Hugeikur Dagsson, is full of this, given the nature of Icelandic language, with Hugeikur usually interjecting the translation of things and names from Icelandic to English, names like "Björnson" or "Landnámabók".note 
    • "Irish" Patrick Kelly, in the "Captain Thunderbolt" episode.
    Gareth: Why did they call him that?
  • Share the Male Pain: During the John Brinkley episode, both Dave and Gareth interrupt the podcast to break down while imagining the pain of having goat testicles implanted into human testicles, often with dirty instruments.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: The neglect of soldiers' wellbeing is a subject that the duo have discussed more than once. In particular is the nonsensical argument from overly patriotic types that anyone who is anti-war is "not supporting the troops", even if the reason for this is that they don't want to endanger those very troops.
  • Shiny New Australia: A possibly unique inversion in "The New Australia", in which a faction of Australians tried to set up a "Utopian" colony in Paraguay.
  • Skewed Priorities: As was commonplace in the era, newspaper coverage of the 1883 Brooklyn Bridge stampede pays a comically inordinate amount of attention to damaged clothing and, of all things, lost hats, often in the same breath as gruesome injury and death.
    Gareth: ...Was this written by a hat?
  • Skinny Dipping: "The Dark Secret Of Swimming Pools", an episode about how swimming naked used to be mandatory for males in public pools.
  • Slipping a Mickey:
    • Shanghai artists utilized these to knock out unsuspecting sailors and dump them onto ships. One enterprising crimp even had custom made opium laced cigars in case the victim refused a drink.
    • Doc Anderson really should have known better than to accept the water he was given before his rematch with Mark Gastineau.
    • The Rajneeshee cultists brought in dozens of homeless transients from all over the west coast to vote for their chosen candidate in a local election. To get rid of them afterwards, they gave them beer spiked with painkillers and dumped them on Greyhound buses.
    • Ridiculously Cute Critter: If you've seen photos of Jose on Gareth's Instagram.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Charles Guiteau, the subject of the first live dollop. A mooching nobody who nonetheless became convinced that he was one of America's foremost political figures. He apparently believed that his speech to a dozen or so black people (who couldn't vote at the time) was the reason Garfield won the presidency and would later assassinate Garfield for ignoring his letters demanding to be made an ambassador, thinking he would be hailed as a hero for it. He was summerly executed.
  • Soft Water: Tragically subverted in Robert Emmet Odlum's botched stunt jump off of the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Space Whale Aesop: According to Dave and Gareth, the lesson in "Catastrophe Jim"'s episode is Don't get your ass on TV!; It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Gareth and Wil Anderson have demonstrated several times that they can come up with the same jokes at the exact same time. This has even happened across different continents.
  • String Theory: The hosts joke about a not so sane David Dematto working on a conspiracy board dedicated to tracing his own myriad aliases, all with the word "Tickling" connecting everything at the centre.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: This seemed to be Charles Guiteau's default solution to any problem (up to and including his own imprisonment for shooting the president) to the extent that it quickly becomes a Running Gag in his episode.
  • Stupid Crooks: Many, though the Murder Trust, the Rajneeshee cultists, the Pendragon conspirators, and the Symbionese Liberation Army were all particularly inept.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Dave likes to surprise Gareth by beginning the story via unexpectedly shouting out the date and setting.
  • Super-Stoic Shopkeeper: Sure, David Hahn was pretending to be a teacher at times, but no one ever questioned why he wanted to buy hundreds of smoke detectors, thousands of gas lamps, securing uranium samples from Czechoslovakia or constantly asking questions related to acquiring nuclear materials or improving his designs, even when he was directly asking people in the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: "Jock and the Boston Marathon Women" ends with Kathrine and Jock burying the hatchet and becoming good friends, Bobbi Gibb's runs being officially recognized, and Jock himself (now fiercely supportive of women runners after the rules changed) getting inducted into the RRCA Hall of Fame and having a Boston Athletics award named after him for his decades of service to the Marathon.
  • Suspicious Spending: During the Newsie Strike of 1899, union leader Kid Blink was alleged to have taken a bribe from newspaper publishers in order to dissolve the strike, something he strongly denied... while carrying a huge billfold and wearing a brand-new tailored suit (many of the boys had never owned a suit, let alone one that wasn't a hand-me-down).note 
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Deborah Sampson who, while still discharged from the army upon the discovery of her real gender, became the first woman to be officially recognised as a US veteran. Probably something to do with what a badass she was.
  • Take That!: Dave has taken a lot of swipes at Donald Trump, either by doing episodes that parallel Trump's own history note  or by doing a parody of the latest gaffe during his Talkspace commercial.
  • Taking You with Me: Auburn Calloway attempted hijack of "Fedex Flight 705" while also trying to make it look like an accident.
  • Talkative Loon: How Gareth portrays Phineas Gage and Officer Andy Delgado, because of a metal rod through the brain and blood loss from a gunshot wound respectively.
    Phineas Gage: This is my hand! No, wait, this is! No wait, they both is!
    Andy Delgado: I'm made out of wire! Call me Dr. Billiards!
  • Tar and Feathers:
    • "Oofty Goofty" was covered in tar and horse hair for his role as 'the wild man of Borneo'. Which he couldn't get off again when the show's producers fled after being caught.
    • The perpetrators of the frame-up against the Marblehead hospital were tarred and feathered for their crime.
  • Technician Versus Performer: The main source of Ken Carter's rivalry with, and desire to top, Evel Knievel in "The Two Daredevils"; while Ken drove muscle cars (which limited the nature of the tricks he could perform), had already peaked in his fame, and didn't even like being called a "daredevil", Evel was gaining worldwide fame for being wild and flashy with his star-spangled jumpsuits and motorcycle ramps over rattlesnakes, fire, and big cats. This also became cruelly inverted at the end — in a doomed effort to gain international publicity and perform an untoppable feat of his own, Ken planned to jump the St. Lawrence River in a rocket-boosted car, over Knievel's own assessment that the stunt was too risky. The jump ended in failure, with last-minute substitute Kenny Powers being badly injured but surviving, and a scaled-back attempt years later would backfire and kill Carter instantly on impact.
  • That Man Is Dead: Discussed as part of Marvin Heemeyer's bulldozer rampage.
    Dave: Docheff backed of when he was shot at by Killdozer- er, Marvin-
    Gareth: No no no, I think that's fair now- Marvin's dead. He's now Killdozer.
  • The Scapegoat: Dave and Gareth's opinion, regarding James Scott's conviction in the "Catastrophe Jim" episode.
  • Think of the Children!: People opposed New York's first post office because women could send and receive letters all on their own without the supervision of men.
  • Throwing the Fight:
    • Every opponent Mark Gastineau fought was just hired to throw the fight to bring his record up in the hopes of getting him a more profitable match with George Foreman. Everyone until Doc Anderson decided to fight for real that is.
    • Played straight and then inverted in the "Fine Cotton Scandal". Gillespie and other co-conspirators raced a poor horse known for having poor performance at the track with the intent of substituting him later on with a much better horse with a real chance to win. Their substitute did win but the plan was so shoddy they were caught right away.
  • Tickle Torture: The extremely creepy analysis of "Competitive Endurance Tickling".
  • The Tooth Hurts: "Colonial Dentistry".
  • Trademark Favorite Food: "Zioncheck Zippers" (equal parts rye and honey, a dash of mint, and triple the amount of Whiskey of what's present in the glass), for Marion Zioncheck, in the self-titled episode.
  • Trans Tribulations: After the feds started to hone in on 20th Century Motors, they ended up discovering that its founder, Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, had actually once been fugitive Jean Dean Michael (who'd initially taken up crossdressing to hide from the authorities but eventually fully transitioned) after finding a specialized codpiece lying on the dinner table.
  • Tropes Are Tools: An In-Universe discussion happens during the "Marion Zioncheck" episode, including callbacks, rules of three, et al.
  • Two Aliases, One Character:
    • Practically everyone in the "Competitive Endurance Tickling" network were just aliases for a single person, David D'Amato. Including, some suspect, David Star, the guy who ratted him out!
    • Dave rattles of a hilarious list of aliases used by Fritz Duquesne, one of the proponents of "The Hippo Bill", that he used during his wartime activities.
  • Unequal Rites: Ching Ling Foo and Chung Ling Soo of "The Magicians", who had a bitter public feud over who was the greater "Oriental conjurer" — Foo the original, with his traditional Chinese magic act, or Soo the imitator, with his exotic-seeming (but in reality very Western) illusions. Particularly galling to Foo was that he knew the man stealing his act and drawing bigger crowds was an obvious white guy named Bill from Westchester County, and that audiences both didn't notice and didn't care.
  • Unfortunate Implications (In-Universe): The end of the Noid as Domino's Pizza mascot came as a result of an attack by Kenneth Lamar Noid, a mentally disturbed man who thought the Noid advertising campaign was a personal attack against him, to a Domino's Pizza franchise in the late 80s, and his suicide some short time after, as explained in the The Domino's Pizza Story episode.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • 'Wheat!' from the episode "Porter Rockwell"
    • 'Boy she pops!' from "The Bald Knobbers".
    • 'Getting the Beaumonts', which stood for getting diarrhea, in the "Old Boomtowns of Texas" episode.
  • Vampiric Draining: Discussed in "American Vampire Panic" examining the original depiction of vampires as a superstitious explanation for diseases like tuberculosis; a cursed late relative draining the life from their living family that would have to be dealt with accordingly.
  • Values Resonance: How the hosts felt about John Brown, an abolitionist from the 1800s who was remarkably progressive for the time. Not only was he an outspoken abolitionist, he wholeheartedly believed blacks and whites to be equals in every regard. In spite of being extremely religious, he outright stopped attending the local church when the preacher made a black family sit in the back and later reacted very poorly when John Brown invited that family to sit in the front of the church with him. He also held a great deal of respect for Native Americans, to the extent of giving a very politely-worded "go fuck yourself" when someone asked him to "deal with" Native Americans hunting in the wilds near his land. John Brown was so remarkably open-minded, tolerant, and progressive that Gareth at one point asks if they're going to learn that John Brown was a time-traveler who went back to the 1800s.
  • Vigilante Man: Deconstructed with the story of Bernie Goetz.
  • Wacky Racing: The 1908 New York To Paris Car Race, featuring everything from nearly every environmental hazard imaginable (snow, bogs, rivers, people actively hindering or aiding drivers based on their nationality) to drivers alternating between being "gentlemanly" to the point of Honor Before Reason (waiting for other people to catch up, helping with breakdowns) and rampant cheating (having their cars pulled by horses or even shipped on a train). No wonder that this event would go on to inspire the movie that in turn inspired the trope namer.
  • Walking Armory: The suspects in both "Norco Shootout" and "LAPD SWAT" (North Hollywood Shootout).
  • Waving Signs Around: Rainbow Man's primary method of attempting to convert others, holding up signs containing references to bible passages during his usual schtick of trying to get caught on camera at sporting events.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: Elmer McCurdy, inadvertently.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out!:
    • Deborah Samson, who was serving incognito as a male soldier, refused medical attention after being shot in the leg to avoid being exposed as a woman and dug the musket ball out herself with a knife.
    • President James Garfield was ultimately killed due to his doctors' belief in this trope, causing his 3-inch gunshot wound to be widened to 20 inches by dirty hands and instruments (since the importance of hygiene in medicine was still not very well understood at the time). They even managed to get Alexander Graham Bell involved, using a metal detector of the inventor's own design, to locate it, but all it ended up detecting was the metal springs of the mattress Garfield was lying on. Dave expresses the opinion that Garfield could've easily lived had the doctors simply treated him for the shot and left the bullet be.
  • We Have Ways of Making You Talk: Discussed at length in the "Torture Psychologists" episode.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Edward Cope and Othniel Marsh were originally old chums who even named species after one another, but all that came to an end when Marsh usurped a valuable fossil site from Cope through bribery.
  • Wham Line: Dave mentioning that Daniel Burros joined the American Nazi Party and pledged loyalty to its leader George Lincoln Rockwell at age twenty-three, ten years after his Bar Mitzvah.
    • For Gareth and his mother when Dave revealed what Alois named his son. William Patrick Hitler. Not so much for the listener, as the episode title gives it away.
  • Worst Aid:
    • Everything that happened to George Washington after he took ill in the winter of 1799. In less than eight hours, his "doctors" turned him from a robust 68-year-old with a bad cold to an exsanguinated corpse.
    • Ditto President Garfield who probably would have survived his gunshot wound had the doctors not widened it tenfold with unsterilized hands and instruments through repeated failed attempts at trying to locate the bullet.
  • Young Future Famous People: Future Confederate President Jefferson Davis was one of the central figures of the West Point Eggnog Riot, until he drank enough whiskey-spiked eggnog to pass out drunk, and later flunked out upon receiving the lowest grades possible.note 
    • One of the participants of the Disco Demolition Night riot was a 21 year old Michael Clarke Duncan.
    • The investigation that led to the Newport Sex Scandal was ordered by then 37-year old Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
  • Your Head Asplode: The surprisingly non-lethal version of Phineas Gage, whose exit wound was described as a volcano of brain and bone.

We're signing cars.