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Podcast / The Thrilling Adventure Hour

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From the oral tradition, to the aural tradition.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour (originally "The Thrilling Adventure and Supernatural Suspense Hour") is a live audio theater production in the style of old time radio. The show has run monthly since 2005, when it was performed at M Bar in Hollywood until 2010, after which the production was moved to the Largo, a theater also in Hollywood. Starting in 2011, past segments were distributed as a podcast (except for the M Bar versions, which have not been made available to the public). In 2015, the monthly live shows were closed and the podcasts ended, though the makers of the show have also made a live show DVD and a number of graphic novels based on the podcast, including an anthology published by Archaia and two limited series published by Image Comics. However, in 2016, some podcast episodes of the live shows were released continuing the series after the Series Fauxnale of some of the segments. New studio-recorded content and some previously unreleased material were released starting in October 2018, released under the new title: The Thrilling Adventure Hour Treasury.

Regular segments include:

Limited run segments and specials include:

  • "Tales from the Black Lagoon": Hollywood, 1954. The actor who played the Creature from the Black Lagoon is framed for murder.
  • "A War of Two Worlds": Earth is invaded by aliens. A largely improvised collaboration with the podcast Superego.
  • "The Boat Show": A down-on-its-luck theater company stow away on a boat as part of a desperate plan to get funding for a new musical from a millionaire. A one-shot story unrelated to the other TAH segments originally performed at JoCo Cruise Crazy 4 in 2014, then performed again and recorded at LA PodFest in 2015 and later released as a Thrilling Adventure Hour Treasury episode.

The show also features Product Placement for the fictional Patriot Cigarettes ("they're good for your constitution!") and non-fictional WorkJuice Coffee ("the maximum legal dose of caffeine").

In addition to the regular "WorkJuice Players", guest stars have included Neil Patrick Harris, "Weird Al" Yankovic, J. K. Simmons, Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy, Paul and Storm, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Patrick Warburton, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Tom Lennon, Garfunkel and Oates, Chris Hardwick, Scott Aukerman, Amy Acker, Adam Savage, John Hodgman, Samm Levine, Martin Starr, Linda Cardellini, and countless others.

In autumn 2012, the show raised money on Kickstarter to make a comic book adaptation and a concert movie.

Had a crossover episode with Welcome to Night Vale at SDCC 2014!


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    In General + Commercial Segments 
  • Brand X:
    • Patriot Brand Cigarettes, the primary sponsor for The Thrilling Adventure Hour and primary source of Deliberate Values Dissonance.
    • Later accompanied by WorkJuice Coffee.
  • Celebrity Endorsement / Character Celebrity Endorsement: The Thrilling Adventure Hour is (very often) brought to you by Patriot Brand Cigarettes, usually by one of the characters in the show.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The Thrilling Adventure Hour doesn't only bring back the style of popular radio shows from the 40s and 50s, it also brings back several tropes that would no longer be acceptable to modern audiences. The most egregious example of this is the sponsorship of Patriot Brand Cigarettes, whose constant advertisements would not go over well in a show with large child audiences.
  • Earth Day Episode: The podcast has an annual "I'm from Earth Day" on Earth Day (which plays on the Catchphrase of Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars- "I'm... From Earth").
  • Shared Universe:
    • Even though the segments are set in different times and places, the episode "Time and Time Again" showed that Amelia Earhart and Colonel Tick-Tock take place in different points within the same timeline, while Beyond Belief and Captain Laserbeam take place in different universes.
    • Based on the crossover with Welcome to Night Vale, it might share a universe with Night Vale as well. Or not. It's never made clear if anything that happened was canon.
  • Stepford Smiler: Dan Bucatino gradually becomes this over the course of his ads. When they begin, he's advertising his office supply business and talking about his family before getting interrupted by the King of Coffee. As the ads progress, Dan's life takes several turns for the worse: he has a "health scare", his wife leaves him after cheating on him, his brother/business partner goes on a cruise with his wife. And yet, he and his family continue to put on the display of happiness.
  • Unsound Effect:
  • World of Ham: As an homage and Affectionate Parody to old-timey radio shows, much scenery is chewed.

    Beyond Belief 

  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Pan, who appears in "Second Star to the Wrong" and "Straight on til Mourning", is a parody of Peter Pan with the goat parts of Pan the Greek god with a fondness for eating hands and sucking the youth out of the souls of children to stay young thrown into the mix.
    • The Poppins, who appears in "Straight on til Mourning", is a parody of... well, Mary Poppins, who fills the hearts of children with love so she can rip them out of their ribcages and consume them and hides barbed tentacles and rows of sharp teeth under her rosy cheeks.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Frank and Sadie Doyle occasionally refer to one another as "Frankenstein" and "Sadistic" or "Sadie-Love" and "Frank-Darling"
  • The Alcoholic: Frank and Sadie Doyle, to the point where they immediately get suspicious if one of them doesn't want a drink at all times.
  • Alliterative Name: Bobo Brubaker, Carter Caldwell.
  • Alternate Reality Episode: "Beyond Belief" has had two of these so far.
    • The first is "Art Imitates Life", where Sadie is engaged, not married, to a man named Basil Valentine. They are still well-known socialites, but are also skilled art thieves. Also, Sadie hasn't touched liquor in years. In that case, the change was caused by one of Sadie's old suitors, who found a genie in a bottle and had him erase Frank from history so he could be with Sadie. Unfortunately, he failed to mention that last part as part of his wish, so Sadie met Basil instead.
    • The other is "Werewolf of Wall Street", where Frank and Sadie's apartment is inhabited by Wade Crespo, really the Doyles' usual liquor delivery man, and his wife Audrey. Together, they also drink lots of booze, hunt the paranormal, banter and have catchphrases of their own. Except they have neither the Doyles' knowledge of the paranormal nor their wit. Meanwhile, Frank works as their liquor delivery man and Sadie works as his supervisor. In that case, the change was caused by Crespo, who stole a book containing the story The Monkey's Paw, which he used to wish for the Doyles' life and for Audrey, who is really a waitress at a café he often goes to, to be his wife.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Carter Caldwell, a "confirmed bachelor" and friend of the Doyles.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Par for the course in a comedy dealing with the supernatural. See "Forged in Flame":
    Sadie: Frank, when did you decide there's no possible such thing as a talking dog? Was it when we met a cat-headed goddess? Oh—was it when I turned into a vampire and back in an evening? Or was it when a genie granted us three wishes of our very own?
  • Arch-Enemy: Nightmares the Clown serves as this for the Doyles, having been Frank's childhood boogeyman and encountering both Frank and Sadie five separate times over the course of the series.
  • Badass Boast: One of the Doyles' crowning achievements is "It's a Bad Bad Bad Bad Bad Bad Bad World," where they deliver a boast that succeeds in Horrifying the Horrors, causing monsters Nightmares had been about to sic on them to back down and causing Nightmares to realize that he fears Frank & Sadie.
  • Badass Normal: The opening narration talks about how the couple's ability to "see ghosts" is a big deal, but pretty much everyone else can so Frank and Sadie still qualify for this trope.
  • Briar Patching: In Frank and Sadie's first encounter with Nightmares the Clown, Sadie's inability to take him seriously prompts him to turn into a giant spider form out of frustration. Sadie claims she's only scared of small spiders, so Nightmare does so to frighten her and gets promptly stomped on by Frank.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: The Doyles are very effective occult investigators and monster hunters... if they get interested enough to counter their usual utter lack of concern about anything that is NOT (a) each other or (b) booze. The fact that they are continually drunk helps.
  • Calacas: In "Ladies and Skeleton", a segment of the "A Halloween Beyond Belief" episode, Frank and Sadie confront a Calaca, described here as a monster that kills via Involuntary Dance. In the past, it killed and has since enslaved the spirit of Frank's first love. His victim gets away and, when it appears to take her back, speaks with a stereotypical accent with rattling noises in the background to suggest the bones. The Calaca can only be killed by a silver bullet. Frank utilizes a previous episode's Chekhov's Gun, literally the gun wielded by famed playwright and werewolf hunter Anton Chekhov, to dispatch it.
  • Casual Kink: The Doyles seem to have a pretty steamy sex life together (strictly off-camera).
    • In the episode "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang You're Dead", a pair of mechanics are amazed that Frank and Sadie managed to avoid getting possessed by a demonic car they had borrowed after a party.
    Mechanic: You folks evil, by chance?
    Sadie: Only on date night, darling.
    Frank: Which if this were, you wouldn't be invited ... probably.
    • During a parody of The Exorcist, Frank and Sadie tie the girl to their bed to keep her demon from hurting anyone:
      Basil: Ropes on the bed! Do you do a lot of exorcisms?
      *audience loses it*
      Sadie: *ahem* Uh—
      Frank: Sure.
    • In the episode "Gory Gory Hallelujah", they talk about the first time they went to an auction:
      Frank: We barely knew how to hold our paddles.
      Sadie: (suggestively) I knew how to hold a paddle.
    • In the episode "Stabbin' in the Woods", where the Doyles have been captured by a crazed killer and locked into a meat locker.
      Frank: Not only are the glasses in our hands, there are chains around our wrists! What is this, Thursday?
  • Character Catchphrase:
    • The openings of "Beyond Belief."
      Frank Doyle: Who cares what evil lurks in the hearts of men?
      Sadie Doyle: Unless evil is carrying the martini tray, darling! *clink*
      (*clink* is often an actual catchphrase itself. As in Paget Brewster makes the sound effect herself.)
    • Every time Nightmares the Clown appears, it is accompanied by Sadie snickering to herself and crying "Clown!"
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Parody: Part of the episode "Scream A Little Scream", where an author has written a series of books set in a candy bazaar - featuring death trials for the visiting children. The author also has four childhood friends obviously based on the children visiting the chocolate factory.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Frank Doyle bought the actual gun that belonged to Anton Chekhov, Werewolf Hunter/Playwright. Becomes an Averted Trope when it is packed away in Sigmund Freud's Cigar Box, and a literal razor that belonged to Occam is actually used to defeat the Monster of the Week (which also turn out not to be werewolves.)
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Five episodes later, said same gun was used to defeat the Calaca, a different Monster of the Week (which also turn out not to be werewolves.)
  • Church Militant: Frank Doyle worked with a group of demon hunting nuns in his younger days, and they drag him off to attempt to prevent the apocalypse in one episode.
  • Creepy Circus Music: Serves as Nightmares the Clown's Leitmotif, followed by Sadie gleefully shouting "Clown!"
  • Crimefighting with Cash: The Doyles are not above using their money or personal connections to bribe their way out of a crisis.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Considering they're constantly sloshed, it's easy to forget that Frank and Sadie Doyle have fought off dozens of monsters and have unparalleled expertise on supernatural subjects.
  • Deal with the Devil: Inverted in "The Haunting of Howard Schroeder", when Sadie convinces Nightmares the Clown to make a deal in exchange for leaving them alone.
    Frank: Sadie, are you making a deal with this devil?
    Sadie: No, no, no. Darling, the devil's making a deal with me.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Frank and Sadie Doyle's alcoholism- you can be certain that their constant drinking would not be Played for Laughs in a show with more modern sensibilities.
    • Even in the show itself, their constant inebriation is often mocked by the cast.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Whenever Sadie is around Nightmares the Clown, she can't stop herself from joking about him being a clown. One time she even honks his nose (which really does honk).
    Howie Schroeder: Frank, your wife's mocking the devil!
    Frank Doyle: She loves a clown.
  • Emotion Eater: The Doyles have had a few run-ins with succubi and incubi, and there's Nightmares the Clown, who feeds on fear.
  • Evil Is Hammy:
  • Executive Meddling:invoked Invoked in the episode "All About Evil". Upon learning that Kieran Mazzley, a deceased film director, has been pulling his former Production Posse from their afterlives so he can force them to finish a movie he had planned in life, Frank and Sadie summon the spirit of the studio executive Mazzley used to work for. He immediately starts interfering with Mazzley's production and coming up with ideas for changes, effectively sending Mazzley to the afterlife where he belongs: Development Hell.
  • Expy:
    • Frank and Sadie Doyle are expies of Nick and Nora from The Thin Man. There's a lot of Gomez and Morticia Addams in them as well.
    • Nightmares the Clown is an apparent parody of Pennywise the Clown from It as he often appears in episodes that parody Stephen King stories, including Children of the Corn and The Body and, like Pennywise, transforms into a giant spider at one point.
    • Carnacious Canary in the episode "Scream a Little Scream" is a parody of Freddy Krueger, since both kill people in their dreams (though Canary's victims aren't hurt in real life and probably don't even remember it when they wake up) and have gloves fitted with blades for weapons, though Canary's are made of candy. Also, his role in the In-Universe books in which he appears, the head of a candy bazaar, seems to be a rather morbid parody of Willy Wonka from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
  • Fauns and Satyrs: "Second Star to the Wrong" features a creature called the Pan. While primarily a Peter Pan Parody, he has goat legs reminiscent of Pan the god to add to the pun of his name. His second episode, "Straight on til Mourning", also has him referred to as a Satyr.
  • Fix Fic: "The Skeleton Grief" is an In-Universe attempt at this by a Will-o'-the-Wisp who was dissatisfied with the ending of "The Skeleton Brief." He ends up Hoist by His Own Petard when the Doyles' usual Will o' the Wisp takes the story back and makes him join the fate of the skeletons he had been trying to save.
  • The Fool: Sadie, who lacks Frank's vitriol and cynicism, often comes across as this in her solo adventures.
  • Forgot to Feed the Monster: Frank and Sadie once visited a deathtrap-filled haunted pyramid where most of the deathtraps no longer worked because when you leave it for several thousand years, a hallway full of venomous snakes stops being a hallway full of venomous snakes and starts being a hallway full of snake corpses.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In the Valentine's Day special, Frank and Sadie are visited by a Will-o'-the-Wisp, who explains that he steals people's souls as he lulls them off their guard with stories. The Will O' the Wisp is voiced by the narrator who opens every Beyond Belief segment to us, the audience, with later episodes acknowledging the narrator and Will O' The Wisp are the same character.
  • Fur Against Fang: Werewolves and vampires are said to be in a feud with each other. Mostly inverted in the segment, however, with Dave and Donna Henderson, a werewolf and vampire, respectively, who are married and friends of the Doyles and have a hybrid child together.
  • God Is Flawed: The African gods in "White Hunter, Drunk Heart". While they are capable of controlling their own aspects of nature, their powers are only effective against the really superstitious.
    • Age, God of the Beasts, is the one who can really freak out the natives. Unfortunately, he is the one who comes up with the brilliant idea to spook Frank and Sadie, who are on a hunting trip, by appearing to them in the form of a giant lion.
    • Arebati, God of the Sky, can only summon slightly strong gusts of wind. On top of that, he takes huge offense when someone thinks they can "chump" him.
    • The powers of Tano, God over the River, are limited to just that: the river. When he starts raging it to attack Frank and Sadie, they manage to avoid it entirely by simply staying out of the river.
    • Berra Penu, God over the Jungle, uses his powers to make trees shake. While it apparently has the locals quivering in terror, Frank and Sadie regularly hunt ghosts and demons.
  • God Is Inept: The African gods mentioned above in general. Age, God of the Beasts, in particular. Only Arebati, God of the Sky, seems to realize the idiocy in his plan to scare Frank and Sadie by appearing to them in the form of a giant lion. Specifically, relying on being a gigantic lion and not invoking his godly aura. When they had just killed a lion the day before.
  • Grammar Nazi: Frank frequently corrects people's grammar, even Sadie's at times.
  • Great White Hunter: Parodied in "White Hunter, Drunk Heart", where Frank and Sadie are on a safari in Africa and apparently shooting anything that moves.
  • Happily Married: Frank and Sadie Doyle. According to Ben Acker, their love is so strong that Sadie would still love Frank even if he never existed and would simply remain single her entire life.
  • Hero of Another Story: Pterodactyl Jones. When he is introduced, he is the house detective of the most haunted hotel in New York.
  • Hollywood Jehovah's Witness:"When Cthulhu Cthalls" has Mr. and Mrs. Corker, who fit the trope to a T. They're preaching a much older set of gods, but still...
  • Horrifying the Horror: Following his fifth and final defeat by Frank and Sadie Doyle, Nightmares the Clown realizes what it is he fears: Frank and Sadie Doyle.
  • Hybrid Monster: A couple of Beyond Belief plots are centered on the Hendersons, a vampire/werewolf couple, and their baby girl who people keep prophesying is The Antichrist and will cause the apocalypse.
  • I Do Not Drink Wine: Luckily for the vampires who "do not drink... drinks," Sadie keeps a bottle of blood as a drink mixer.
  • Incapable of Disobeying: "How to Spell Revenge" features Frank and Sadie venturing to the home of a witch who puts the Doyles into her thrall by getting them to eat a cursed apple that makes them obey her every command. When she commands them to stand, they declare they'll do no such thing only to immediately notice that they've done exactly that. The spell does have limits, in that it can't make Frank or Sadie do anything they would not otherwise do. So, for example, they can't be ordered to do something they know will result in their deaths like walk into the witch's oven. They can, however, be ordered to curse an apple with a domination spell that will make them obey even those commands. When the witch does this, however, her instructions are open ended enough that the Doyles are able to Reverse the Polarity on the spell and make the witch and her cohorts obedient to them, at which point Frank orders them to go into the oven and stay there until they stop wanting revenge.
  • Jackass Genie: Subverted- when a djinn tries to pull this on Frank and Sadie by giving them "more liquor than they could ever drink," they simply take it as a challenge. In fact, his inability to properly invoke this trope earns him a genie version of Alec Baldwin's speech from Glengarry Glen Ross.
  • The Last Straw: Used by the Doyles against a soul-eating leprechaun. It was so full from eating a pterodactyl soul that pushing someone they didn't like at it caused it to reflexively eat their soul too and explode.
  • Leitmotif: Nightmares the Clown's appearances are heralded by a creepy circus theme, followed immediately by Sadie killing the mood by laughing and shouting "Clown!"
  • MacGuffin: Lampshaded. A bottle of whiskey that kicks off a Beyond Belief story comes from the MacGuffin distillery. It took forever to get delivered, as it kept getting roped into adventures, including apparently starting a World War.
  • The Missus and the Ex: Refreshingly averted. When Frank and Sadie meet Frank's previously dead ex, Catherine in 'Ladies and Skeleton', rather than being jealous, Sadie is nothing but polite. At the end of the episode, when Catherine worries that being forgotten by Frank will mean she fades from memory (and therefore existence), it's Sadie who reassures her that because she made Frank the man Sadie loves, she will always remember her. It's just more affirmation of the strength of Frank and Sadie's relationship. Not once does she voice any concern about Frank's feelings for Catherine, because she knows he loves her completely.
  • Monster Clown: Nightmares the Clown, a recurring character in the Beyond Belief segments, and a reference to Pennywise the Clown from It. Subverted in Sadie's case; she finds all clowns to be cute and funny, much to Nightmares' frustration.
  • Morality Pet: Without Sadie, it's highly doubtful that Frank would help anyone at all, let alone leave his apartment.
  • Mundane Wish: In "Djinn and Tonic", Frank and Sadie make two random wishes simply to get rid of an annoying genie and his union. What keeps this from being Wasteful Wishing is that they were perfectly satisfied with their first wish (for liquor) and only made the other two because the genies insisted.
  • Nested Story: The episode "The Devil You Know" opens with Sadie telling the story of why she and Frank are traveling though the depths of the New Jersey hell. That turns into of Pterodactyl Jones and his encounter with a woman who claims she can reunite him with his pterodactyl ghost buddy, Harvey. She tells the story of how she fell in love with a ghost only to have her pastor father write to the Vatican about help exorcising ghosts. The Vatican begins telling the story of how they got the tool they're sending the father before Sadie steps in and puts an end to this, declaring the story has become a "narrative nesting doll".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In the 2012 Christmas special, Frank and Sadie are visited by Christmas ghosts who have the wrong address. Through their actions, the Doyles manage to not only ruin the intended Scrooge's chance at redemption but cause his bitterness and hatred for Christmas in the first place.
    • When the Scrooge in question returns, the Doyles make it worse by introducing him to the wonders of alcohol as foreshadowed by Christmas Future's reveal that Scrooge's bartender is the only one who shows up to his funeral. Technically, though, it's the fault of the three ghosts for getting distracted by their romantic relationships instead of helping Scrooge at all.
  • Noir Episode: The three episodes featuring Pterodactyl Jones, an Affectionate Parody of the Hard Boiled Detective: "The Devil and Mr. Jones", "The Devil You Know" and "Jones on Third".
  • No More for Me: In an alternate timeline, this is part of Sadie's backstory: she swore off drinking after she saw a ghost for the first time.
  • Noodle Incident: Frank and Sadie sometimes refer to "that time a bee got in here" as one of their more harrowing adventures.
  • Nun Too Holy: Frank questions how "holy" demon-smiting nuns Sister Mary and Sister Kate are when they, say, torture people. They assure him that, since they confess their sins to each other and smite all those demons, they've racked up plenty of holiness credit to offset that.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Well-known monsters regularly show up on "Beyond Belief." Some of them have a few more unexpected twists than others.
    • Werewolves, for example, still infect others by biting and only change at the full moon, leaving them normal the rest of the time. Unlike normal werewolves, however, it takes more than a silver bullet to kill them. In fact, it takes a silver bullet, a gold bullet, a platinum bullet and a diamond bullet, fired in that order. Since it costs plenty and werewolves are normal most of the time, most people just don't bother.
  • Overly Specific Afterlife: In the Beyond Belief episode "The Haunting of Howard Schroeder", Frank explains that Heaven and Hell are based on the ideas of Heaven and Hell. Heavens exist anywhere ghosts think they have been good and deserve a reward, and Hells exist anyplace ghosts feel they deserve punishment. There are, as a result, several winning Heavens in the Hamptons, and there are more Hells than one can count; all of New Jersey for example.
  • Peter Pan Parody: "Second Star to the Wrong" pits Frank and Sadie against the Pan. He's a little boy with the bottom half of a goat like the Pan from Greek mythology. Further, while he has the whimsical personality of Peter, the Pan has an unusual fixation on eating peoples' hands, bragging he once ate a pirate's hand, who blamed it on a crocodile. He also maintains his eternal youth by leeching it from the children he takes. Possessing the Pan's shadow can give one some of the Pan's powers as well as power over the Pan himself, and the strength his own power to cloud the minds of others can fluctuate depending on if he's being applauded or booed. When the Doyles have the upper hand he tries to get everyone to applaud, prompting Frank to admonish the audience when they momentarily go along with it and then proceed to boo the Pan into submission.
  • Phony Psychic: Bobo Brubaker, an ex-boyfriend of Sadie's who occasionally runs some sort of supernatural con.
  • The Power of Love: The Doyles are so in love that it once caused a succubus to explode.
  • Private Eye Monologue: Pterodactyl Jones, being a private eye, tends to go off on these once in a while, with lots of cynicism and weird similes:
    "She had a body like the Indy 500, all curves and explosions.[...] She had a face like Bing Crosby had a voice."
  • Reverse Polarity: Enchantments placed on green apples cause the spell to affect those who don't eat the apple. In "How to Spell Revenge", the Doyles use some Briar Patching to cast a spell of absolute obedience on a green apple, which they then eat giving them control of the witches trying to kill them.
  • Ripple-Proof Memory: In the Alternate Reality Episode "Werewolf of Wall Street", Wade Crespo and the werewolf, Keller, are apparently the only ones who remember the real universe. In Keller's case, it may be because he wasn't covered by the spell, and in Crespo's, it's probably because he is the one who made the wish creating the alternate universe. As the episode goes on, Frank and Sadie turn out to still remember a lot about the supernatural, even if they have no idea of how they knew it in the first place. By the end of the episode, the change has been undone and Crespo, Frankie and Sadie are the only ones who remember.
  • Ron the Death Eater:invoked In-Universe in the episode "Scream a Little Scream". A writer of a dark and gory series of "children's books" is revealed to have based some of the young characters who suffered horrible deaths on children he grew up with and who he remembers being bullied by. When the Doyles are introduced to them via dreams, they all turn out to be quite nice people who helped the writer in many ways throughout his life. It ultimately turns out that the writer's memories of them were corrupted by memories of his mean-spirited mentor.
  • Running Gag:
    • Sadie calls Frank by his full name (always different).
    • The Doyles have no idea what time of day (or year) it is.
    • Whenever an old acquantaince of the Doyles appear, Frank, having forgotten who they are, asks Sadie "do we know a [insert name here]" and she reminds him who they are and how they know that person.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Freya shows up, where she's described as the Norse goddess of death. While associated with war and death, she is better known as the Norse goddess of love and beauty.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Frank and Sadie (the latter in particular) are particularly prone to this.
    "Door opening noise!"
  • Sommelier Speak: Occurs in "A Beyond Belief Valentines Day" after the Doyles discover wine.
  • Sound Defect: All over the place in the first "Beyond Belief" podcast, leading to such gems as "Dear, did you eventually hear a door opening?" and originating the running gag of Sadie occasionally providing the "clink!" sound effect herself.
  • Stealth Pun: In "Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang You're Dead", the spirit of the mechanic named Herbert possesses a Volkswagen.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: The Doyles' sudden hobby of attending auctions is repeatedly lampshaded as one.
    Sadie: Oh, how we adore auctions!
    Frank: Oh, how frequently we attend them! [...] Well, I was reading the auction magazine or brochure or program or whatever you call them at auctions, which we are constantly attending, it has been established.
  • Take That!: In the Beyond Belief Valentine's Day Special, Sadie (voiced by Paget Brewster) finds police procedures boring and says she wouldn't watch a show about them. This was released a little less than a year after Brewster left Criminal Minds.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: In the Valentine's Day special, a succubus that tries to feed on Frank and Sadie's love for one another ends up exploding.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: The Doyles get noticeably less friendly and accepting the more sober they become.
  • Tricking the Shapeshifter:
    • "Wishing Hell": Nightmares the Clown's attempts to frighten Sadie fall short because she finds him hilarious. He decides to show her his true form, that of a giant spider. Frank exclaims that Sadie is deathly afraid of spiders, only for Sadie to correct him and point out giant spiders don't scare her, only regular teeny tiny spiders due to how they can creep up on one when they're going through their liquor cabinet, innocently trying to collect a bottle. She pleads with Nightmares not to turn into a teeny tiny spider lest she actually become afraid. Nightmares does exactly that, and promptly gets stomped on by Frank.
    • "When Cthulu Cthalls": Frank and Sadie are up against a pair of Hollywood Jehovah's Witness peddling a particularly old god. When said old god makes an appearance, it has a loss of confidence due to its age. Sadie convinces it to possess a nearby lamp, which she then turns off and unplugs.
  • Villain Song: In "Straight on til Mourning", The Poppins sings about her way of filling the hearts of children with love so she can tear them out of their chests and consume them, all set to the tune of "A Spoonful of Sugar".
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: In-Universe in the episode "Scream A Little Scream." Sadie refers to childrens' books written by one of the characters in the episode, which include life or death candy trials and a boy who was "French fried from the inside," prompting Frank to ask if these books were really for children.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: The Doyles have Nerves of Steel in the face of ghosts, demons and other supernatural whatnot (probably in part because they're usually completely sloshed), but they are both rendered completely and utterly terrified if there are bees involved. They often speak in horror of "that time a bee got in".
  • Women Are Wiser: Frank is more conventionally knowledgeable and intelligent than Sadie, but has a much shorter fuse and is so self-absorbed that he barely remembers who their friends are, leaving his wife to pick up the slack.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Mary Poppins expy in "Straight On 'Til Mourning" has an entire song, set to "A Spoonful of Sugar", all about how she devours the hearts of children once they're full of love.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol:
    • The 2012 Christmas episode's "Beyond Belief" segment has a Christmas Carol pastiche in which the ghosts get the address wrong and spend the whole night bothering Frank and Sadie.
    • The ghosts return to try and fix their mistake later... only for Christmas Present to discover it's January and Christmas Past derailing the entire plot to confront Present and Future about their relationship.

    Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars & Spin-Offs 
  • The Ace:
    • Cactoid Jim. He can do the exact same things or propose the exact same plans as Sparks Nevada but encounter more success because it's him doing it.
    • All Troubleshooters. Lampshaded in the Sparks Nevada episode The Night We Never Met
      Ginny West: Active Troubleshooters are ineligible for bounty hunts. We do our jobs right all the time; rubs people the wrong way who want things to go wrong.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • The episode "Carbonite-Mare" stars the Red Plains Rider, without any other main or supporting characters, as she goes to rescue the frozen Cactoid Jim (who doesn't actually appear himself) from Chesh Glutterfein. She also had a leading role in "Crisis on Infinite Marses, Part 1" before joining the other characters.
    • Also, the episode "Personal Business" starred the Barkeep and his Troubleshooter wife, Harriett Alcott-Jiminy.
  • Affably Evil:
    • Despite Jib Janeen's goal of destroying the cultures of the people he infiltrates, he's incredibly friendly and seems to genuinely enjoy the company of Sparks Nevada and company.
      Jib Janeen: Oh my God, you guys. Felton. How much do you love him? He is a superstar. Okay, gotta jet! It has been real neat being part of your lives. Spaceship guys, I don't as well. Croach: you're really nice.
      Croach: (flattered) Thank you.
    • Then there's NiceMan Dan. Even though he is a criminal, he is genuinely polite and pleasant and cares for his son.
    • Chicky Sullivan, after he goes Drunk with Power, is as friendly as ever to Sparks Nevada and his friends and is genuinely fond of all of them.
      Red Plains Rider: I do have to say, evil aside, he is really nice.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Sparks' parents call him Noodle and Red's father calls her Dumpling.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • At one point, Sparks Nevada tried to use a hologram program to act out fantasies where Croach the Tracker and The Red Plains Rider behave how he wanted them to. After a buggy patch update, the simulations decide to kill Nevada and make out.
    • Later there were the Saloon Bar Doors, the AI of which the Barkeep upgraded, giving it the personality of a bratty teenage girl with a big crush on Croach.
    • Later still, the piano in the bar develops AI as well, leading to a Musical Episode as it tries to win the affections of the Saloon Bar Doors.
  • The Alcoholic: Croach hit the sauce pretty hard for a while between "The Piano Has Been Thinking" and his death in "Red Alert".
  • All-Powerful Bystander:
    • Croach becomes this after being empowered by the Force Galactic, insisting that his role is just to observe and never to intervene, even though he often gets other people to do things on his instructions, which most characters argue qualifies as intervention.
    • The Barkeep attempts to be this after getting the Force Galactic, mostly to ensure there's no trouble in his place.
  • Always Someone Better: Cactoid Jim fills this role for Sparks Nevada, to Sparks's annoyance, in his early appearances. He even stole the tune to his theme song...
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Croach the Tracker. No, really. The coming-of-age ceremony for Native Martians is called a B'ar-mit zvah for males and B'at-mit zvah for females and their sacred winter festival is Han-oo'Kah. Actually, "hanukkah" is just their name for the first Sunday of any month- Croach just missed the point of all the Christmas stories that Sparks and Red were telling him.
  • Anti-Hero: The male version of the Red Plains Rider from an alternate dimension who appears in the "Crisis on Infinite Marses" episodes. Unlike his female prime universe counterpart, who was raised in peace by Martians and is dedicated to upholding the law, he lost his family to outlaws and has since been travelling Mars for the sake of revenge and has no interest in the law.
    Sparks: You are... you are dark.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In "Emperor of Mars" the titular Emperor Yessel gets charged with shooting Bill Clover and with declaring themselves emperor. Additionally, Croach writes them a ticket for parking their flying saucer in the marshall station's blue zone.
  • Ax-Crazy: Pemily Stalwark, in her early appearances, is still traumatized by her experiences in the Punishment Soccer and extremely prone to deadly violence. She mellows considerably as the series progresses, even if she never quite gets all her marbles back.
  • Badass Crew: While Sparks Nevada and Croach began as a duo similar to The Lone Ranger and Tonto, they gained several allies as the segment progressed, including Cactoid Jim, the Red Plains Rider, Pemily Stalwark and the Barkeep, eventually forming a formidable force.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Sparks Nevada can be prone to these. Hilariously lampshaded in "The Robot Rogues in 'Distrustified'":
      Alloy Roy: So hang on. Your plan was what, exactly? That I'd share the file with my gang, and they'd post it to a listserv, and there'd be a robot free-for-all, and my gang would be whittled down t' two, due to the infightin' in said free-for-all, and you'd get the drop on what's left? That's tenuous!
      Sparks Nevada: Yes. ... That's it exac—I mean not exactly. A lo--a lot's goin' on--I mean you got some of it, um, broad strokes I guess but—it's actually—it's simultaneously more and less complicated than what you said? So... I mean is this a conventional way to—have—you know what? I don't owe you this! Gimme my guns!
    • In "Space-coach", Cactoid Jim and the Red Plains Rider are hired to escort a coach with three businessmen who are there to ensure that their big project will be profitable. Along the way, they encounter perils and highwaymen fought off by the heroes. In the end, it turns out that while all of the dangers were set up by two of the businessmen to kill off the other two and keep the profits for himself, the third figured that he would eliminate the others and keep the profits for himself by hiring a lawman who could arrest the other two when it came out that they tried to make attempts on his life.
  • Battle Couple: An explicit requirement for starship command in the U.S.S.A. It's stated that only married couples are given commands, with the captain's spouse serving as the executive officer.
  • Beard of Evil:
    • The only physical difference between the normal Cactoid Jim and the evil version from the future is that the evil version has a pencil-thin mustache.
      Evil Jim: Well, what else am I gonna twirl when I'm winning?
      Kaward: Good men don't feature mustaches like he's got.
    • Inverted in the case of Chesh Glutterfein in the "Crisis on Infinite Marses" story. The benevolent version of him from an alternate universe says his goatee shows that he's the good version.
  • Broken Ace: The evil version of Cactoid Jim from the alternate future where Jim became President of Earth and became Drunk with Power.
  • Bounty Hunter: Sparks Nevada's ex-girlfriend Mercy Laredo.
  • Buffy Speak: In "She Blinded Me With Technology", Sparks Nevada is mentioned to have a device for picking up odd frequencies called the "Odd Frequency Picker-Upper".
  • Call-and-Response Song: "I'm Gonna Kill You Some Day", sung by Sparks Nevada and the robot Techs in "The Piano Has Been Thinking". Lampshaded by Sparks and Rebecca Rose Rushmore afterwards:
    Rebecca: Weirder than the singing itself is that you seemed to be singing exactly one half of a song.
  • Cardboard Prison: Outlaws in "Sparks Nevada" rarely stay in prison for long. Sparks even lampshades the fact in the segment finale when just about every robot and alien outlaw he has arrested over the course of the show band together and appear at his wedding:
    "I feel like I have arrested all of you, or Red has. What is wrong with the jails?"
  • The Casanova: In "The Once and Future Thing", Cactoid Jim is revealed to have at least two wives across time and a son with both; Elizabeth and Jimmy Jr. in the 21st century and Cynthia and Owen in the 26th century.
  • Central Theme: Awkwardness. Nevada's speaking, many of the personal interactions, the bad guy monologues...
  • Character Catchphrase:
    • Sparks Nevada, both in his theme song and as a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner:
      Sparks Nevada: I'm ... from Earth.
    • The Barkeep's is usually one of the very first things we hear from him:
      Barkeep: I don't want no trouble in my place!
    • How do we know when a character is being impersonated by Jupiter spy Jib Janeen? Well, his greeting is usually a tipoff. Marc Even Jackson and Paul F. Tomkins also use it when they host the Question and Answer episodes:
      Jib Janeen: Hi, all my buddies!
    • Felton can always be heard coming from miles away:
      Felton: Marshal! Marshal! HELP!
  • Christmas Episode: "Christmas on Mars".
  • The Comically Serious: Pemily Stalwark has a lot of moments like this when she reminisces about her time in the Punishment Soccer.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Sparks Nevada is actually a pretty competent lawman when he puts his mind to it; he's got several Offscreen Moments Of Awesome to his name. He just has a tendency to get wrapped up in personal drama too often.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Not even Croach is immune to it when faced with a human baby in "Custard's Last Stand."
    Croach (happily): The youngling blinks at me!
  • Deadly Game: The Punishment Soccer, in which Pemily Stalwark is the most recent champion, is a deadly contest for teenagers and a parody of The Hunger Games.
  • Death Is Cheap: Between the Martian na'notek and the nigh-omnipotent Force Galactic, people who die in "Sparks Nevada", such as Croach and Felton, don't usually stay dead for long.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Croach is very unemotional and Spock-ish at the start of the series, but as it progresses, he develops genuine feelings and emotional attachments to his friends and even becomes romantically involved with The Red Plains Rider.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Any plot involving the MurderMen Race has this. They can't help but repeatedly talk about murder. They can "MurderMan" people by biting them, turning them into MurderMen. Or they can "ManMurder" people. As in, murder them. They are in a Man-MurderMan war. And finally, their passwords are painfully obvious.
  • Dinner with the Boss: The Jib Janeen episode "Quick! Change!" uses this in a parody of Full House with Jib, his three kiddos, cool Uncle Johnny, and charismatic Jeffy. The twist is that, since Jovians are shapeshifters, the boss is demanding very specific shapeshifts from the Janeens during the dinner.
  • Distant Duet: "I'm Gonna Kill You Someday", from "The Piano Has Been Thinking", is a distanct Hero vs. Villain Duet in which Sparks and Techs sing about how they will kill each other. Afterwards, Rebecca Rose Rushmore notes that Sparks somehow seemed to burst into exactly one half of a song.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Dumpling Red Plains Rider
  • Embarrassing Last Name: Averted with Felton, whose last name is LaGrevenese. He isn't at all embarrassed about it, but Sparks wishes he could un-know it.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Barkeep. Even after his bar becomes robotic and walks away and he becomes an innkeeper instead, everyone continues calling him that by habit. After he reveals his real name, Mordecai Benmont Jiminy, everyone still addresses him as "barkeep" (or "innkeep").
  • Evil Laugh:
    • Chesh Glutterfein has an atonal one: "HAW HAW HAW HAW!"
    • In "Carbonite-Mare": Chesh has an imp-like alien sidekick who giggles hysterically at pretty much everything he says. He eventually gets tired of it:
      You know, it means nothing if you laugh at everything!
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Defied in the "Crisis on Infinite Marses" episodes. Ezra Seldom rationalizes his plan to replace the alternate universes created by the Barkeep with a single better one by arguing that they never really existed and are irrelevant to the prime universe. Sparks Nevada sets him straight on it, though, by reminding him that the male version of the Red Plains Rider, his daughter, is as dear to him as the original one is.
  • Expository Theme Tune:
    When there's varmints need a' catching
    And young 'uns need a' saving
    On my rocket steed I race across the stars
    For I've sworn by the burrs of my astro spurs
    to right the outlaw wrongs on Mars
  • Expy: Pemily Stallwark, Champion of Punishment Soccer, a walking parody of The Hunger Games.
  • Face–Heel Turn: In between his last two appearances, Chicky Sullivan, previously a good guy, goes Drunk with Power and turns the population of Earth's moon into cyborgs, apparently just because he can, and plans an attack on the United Solar System Alliance.
  • Fan Fiction: An in-universe example is the Barkeep, who, after getting reality-warping space powers, reveals in "Cosmic Sans" that, while taking breaks from working on his novel, he likes to create alternate universes based on Sparks Nevada and the others and write what happens in them. While it's never explicitly called fanfiction, the settings he mentions using are fanfic staples, such as ones where they've made different choices, ones where they have different genders or different preferences, and one where they are teenagers in high school together.
  • Fantastic Racism: Sparks Nevada is completely dismissive of Native Martian culture, and must constantly remind everyone that he's... from Earth.
    • Rebecca Rushmore despises Martians and claims that just hearing them talk gives her the shivers. Even when Croach saves her life by jumping in front of a blast that could have killed her, she wants to take a bath because Croach was too close.
    • Croach clearly does not think highly of humans either, taking many opportunities to point out how physically and mentally inferior humans are to Martians, and how shameful it would be for his behavior to be seen as resembling that of humans.
    • Mercy Laredo has a spectacular hatred of robots to the point of not being able to stop herself from shooting them on sight.
    • Even the bounty hunters' guild, for which she works, has an official policy which allows up to three civilian casualties in the field, but are fine with that number being exceeded if they are non-humans. They are even fine with robots being used for target practice.
    • Chicky Sullivan, Cactoid Jim's PR agent, claims to be the subject of prejudice on account of being a cyborg.
    • Everyone except Jupiterans (people from Jupiter) seem to be pretty bigoted against Jupiterans, who are pretty well known for their cunning ability to replace others. The writers and performers also admit that they feel that their writing has a real life anti-Jupiteran feel.
      • Jib shows this goes both ways when he claims that it would be a disgrace for his people if they let "mongrel genes" into the race.
    • One episode revealed that Felton considers clones to be sub-human.
    • The human characters call the Martian natives Marjuns, a portmanteau of Mars and Injun. Also, Jupiterians are sometimes called "Jupes".
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Sparks Nevada and Croach have their minds flipped by a "science gun" in one episode. Sparks has to contend with Croach's gross Martian physiology while Croach uses his new-found human emotions to try and get back with the Red Plains Rider.
  • Future Me Disappoints Me: When Cactoid Jim met his evil alternate future self.
  • Genius Loci: In the episode "Moonfaker", Chicky Sullivan has had his consciousness installed into Earth's moon.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Croach's "na'notek" is able to heal him from some incredibly serious injuries. The first episode alone has him getting turned inside out, and he's been shot numerous times. In "Moonfaker", he's considered the ideal choice for a potential suicide mission because of how hard to kill he is. In "Wild, Wild, Quest" the first indication that the Red Plains Rider has na'notek is due to suffering a gunshot wound to the stomach.
  • Happy Ending Override: In the first episode of the new series of podcasts, "That's No Honeymoon", Sparks and Ginny go on their honeymoon, but because Ginny called him "my buddy" during their wedding ceremony, he fears that she is really Jib Janeen, the Jupiter spy, in disguise since that's his catchphrase. Ultimately, it's double subverted; while the episode and Sparks' declaration of love for her (not to mention the fact that Ginny doesn't speak with Jib Janeen's campy mannerisms) obviously set him up to be wrong, Ginny, or whoever she is, admits to being a Jupiter spy.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: During "Crisis on Infinite Marses", Chesh Glutterfein is about to attack Sparks and the others when a version of him from another universe, a benevolent one he supposedly wants to be deep down, tries to convince him to change his evil ways. Chesh promptly kills him.
  • Hero vs. Villain Duet: In "The Piano Has Been Thinking", the various residents of Mars have begun to spontaneously break out into song. One of the songs that occurs from this is "I'm Gonna Kill You Someday", a duet between Sparks Nevada and Techs, the robot bandit that ururpsed his position as Marshal on Mars. The two sing about how one of them is going to kill the other and when and where it'll happen. Because the two are in two completely different places as this happens, Sparks's girlfriend Rebecca Rose Rushmore can only note that not only did Sparks just randomly burst into song, he also randomly burst into exactly one half of a song.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Sparks Nevada and Croach, though they have been known to split up sometimes.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Pemily Stalwark being a walking parody of Katniss Everdeen, the stories of her childhood frequently cross over into the ridiculous.
    Pemily Stalwark: I never had a Christmas. My people sold all their holidays to Zone 2 for wheat.
  • Hugh Mann: The shape-shifting alien from Jupiter who impersonates both Sparks Nevada and Croach in recurring episodes.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: After his plan to make people realize the love in their hearts fails, the saloon piano AI decides that "love isn't a malfunction - humanity is" and decides to eradicate humanity.
    The Piano: No, you are not safe. You shall also be eradicated. For more personal reasons.
  • Humble Hero: A large part of what makes Cactoid Jim The Ace is that he's very humble about his accomplishments, often crediting everyone else over himself.
  • Immortality Hurts: Despite being practically impossible to kill thanks to his nanotech, Croach is no less inclined to avoid unnecessary harm than anyone else.
    Red Plains Rider: (to Pemily) It takes a lot for him to die, sweetheart.
    Croach: I still feel pain!
  • Incoming Ham: Marshal! Marshal! HELP!
  • Informed Ability: Played for Laughs. Jib Janeen, the Jupiter Spy, is apparently so good at his job that no other character can tell when he's impersonating someone. He's objectively terrible at it: he doesn't display any special knowledge that would help him blend in, he acts completely out of character of the person he's pretending to be, and doesn't even bother to disguise his voice. But everyone is always fooled.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    Croach: I am from G'loot Praktaw.
    Sparks: Which is Mars.
    Croach: I designate it G'loot Praktaw.
    Sparks: Everyone I know calls it— you know what, never mind.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Sparks Nevada, whose sarcasm masks his genuine devotion to truth and justice.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!":
    • Just about everyone, except for Sparks Nevada, are fans of Rebecca Rose Rushmore and get all giddy around her. Some, even the normally stiff Croach, enter full Fan Boy mode about a series she wrote.
    • Sparks himself thinks the Troubleshooters are just awesome and becomes giddy in the presence of one.
  • Sorry, I Left the BGM On: Apparently the trippy Star Trek-esque vocalizing that plays whenever Captain Gene Peeples writes in his log is actually his daughter practicing for her recitals. After she dies, he claims he can still hear her whenever he journals, which is why he still does it.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Sparks Nevada and Croach are in rare agreement that they will never speak of Sparks having to stimulate Croach's egg sacs to show his feet to the Space Crazy Preacher. It ends up being spoken of again when Sparks needs a Trust Password from Croach, then becomes a plot point during the initial Jib Janeen episodes.
  • Little Miss Badass: Pemily Stalwark is only a teenager, but an incredibly skilled fighter, thanks to her past in the Punishment Soccer.
  • Magical Native American: Croach the Tracker is a parody of this trope, being a Native Martian with access to advanced nanotechnology.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: In the Thrilling Adventure Hour / Night Vale crossover, two robots use time travel to make Pemily Stalwark lose the Punishment Soccer, erasing her from existence and allowing Chicky Sullivan to conquer the universe, and make Cecil (of Night Vale) forget how to bowl.
  • Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number: Takes the form of a Reprise Medley in "The Piano Has Been Thinking". The song played as Sparks rides to Red and Cactoid Jim's wedding is a mashup of all the songs that had been performed in the episode up until then, most of them performed by the same singers.
  • Mood Dissonance: In the Musical Episode "The Piano Has Been Thinking" there is the song "I'm Gonna Kill You Someday", sung by Sparks Nevada and the robot outlaw Techs. Despite being sung as a love ballad between two people, the lyrics consists entirely of them vowing to kill the other. All played completely intentionally, of course.
  • Moving Buildings: The Saloon gets up and walks away in "The Piano has Been Thinking" and is trying out being a bounty hunter next time it appears.
  • Mister Seahorse:
    • In the episode "Into Darkness", Croach reveals that he is "fertilized" with Sparks Nevada's offspring.
    • Also Felton, though the mechanics of that one's a bit harder to explain...
  • Mundane Solution: Cactoid Jim is fated to become an evil dictator and destroy the universe if he becomes president. Sparks Nevada finally works up the nerve to assassinate him when:
    Chicky: Hang on, hang on, hang on. I'm just spit-balling, but what if Jim just dropped out of the race?
  • Musical Episode: "The Piano Has Been Thinking" features a player piano with artificial intelligence causing everyone to randomly break into song.
  • The Music Meister: The player piano AI in " The Piano Has Been Thinking," by means of spreading radiation to cause random musicality.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Wild, Wild Quest", the Red Plains Rider does her Hero's Quest through a forest filled with dangers. Unfortunately, Sparks keeps accidentally beating the challenges she is faced with before she gets the chance - starting with him shooting and killing the guardian meant to guide her. It gets harder to be mad at him for the later ones he finishes, like scaring off a small swarm of attack nanites by waving his hat at them (really, that was a challenge) and getting a raptor to fly away by putting his hands in his pockets so he wouldn't shoot it and in doing so performing the gesture that scared it away.
  • No Indoor Voice: Robot sheriff Gork shouts everything he says. He even shouts when he sings a lullaby to a human baby. Despite that, he succeeds in getting the baby to sleep.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: A shapeshifting Jupiter spy does this blatantly, though the other characters take it all at face value while grasping at straws to accuse each other instead.
    "Croach": I'm from Mars!
    Sparks: Which we call— *beat* Yeah, all right.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • Zigzagged with Jib Janeen, the shapeshifting Jupiter spy. Even though his ability to change his physical appearance is apparently impeccable, he always behaves hilariously out of character for those he impersonates (not that anyone ever notices).
    • In the episode "Sheriff on Mars", Croach shows up at a quickdraw contest posing as "Charles the Human" wearing a huge 10-gallon hat with his antenna sticking out of it, a bandana to mask his face and a big burlap poncho to disguise himself. It convinces no-one, but they play along for the hell of it.
  • Paperworkaholic: Nevada will frequently say without irony that the paperwork is his favorite part of the job. He avoids doing it right before a date only because he knows he'll just get sucked into it. During a period towards the end of the series when the Red Plains Rider is marshal, he scoffs when she complains about paperwork.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish":
    • In "Space-iversary", Sparks Nevada is able to successfully guess the security passwords for both his parents' and the Murder Mens' starships ("Noodle" and "Murder" respectively).
    • "Moonfaker" reveals that Technology Beings and Science Aliens aren't any better. Their passwords are "Technology" and "Science."
  • Plague Zombie: MurderMen can MurderMan people. They only have a few seconds to a few minutes before they are MurderManned, and become, well, MurderMen.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Narrowly avoided in "Custard's Last Stand" when vague comments by Ginny West make everyone think she's about to hard reboot Gork for having emotions. A standoff ensues until Ginny reveals she was only updating Troubleshooter records on Gork's model of robot so that another Troubleshooter wouldn't hard reboot him.
  • Power Fist: Sparks Nevada's robot fists.note 
  • Promotion to Opening Titles:
    • In the opening for "Cosmic Sans", the Barkeep, Ginny West and the Saloon Bar Doors are all included in the opening credits. Sparks Nevada is surprised by it:
      Barkeep: I don't want no trouble in my place!
      Sparks: What are you doing here?
    • In general, the characters introduced with Sparks Nevada can fluctuate. Depending on the point in the overall story, Croach may not be present in the titles, and Sparks is introduced along with Mercury, the Barkeep, Rebecca Rose Rushmore, the Red Plains Rider, Pemily Stalwark, or Ginny West.
  • Punch-Clock Hero:
    • The Troubleshooter is always happy to save the day when some technological software goes haywire and threatens Sparks Nevada, but never bothers helping out in other life-threatening situations and even leaves Nevada and his friends stranded on one occasion.
      "Gotta get this saloon back to her default address and go where requisition forms take me. But if you survive, I hope you take a survey of my performance."
    • Croach has some shades of this, since he only aids Sparks Nevada (or whoever else he feels he owes one) in his quests to alleviate his or his tribe's onus to him. Once he considers it paid, he usually wants to leave. In the Thrilling Adventure Hour - Welcome to Night Vale crossover, however, it's suggested that he wants to be under onus to Nevada so they can stay together. This is ultimately confirmed in the segment finale, "Marshal on Mars", where Croach tells Sparks Nevada that his tribe's onus to him ended five "cycles" ago and he has just been helping Sparks since then because he cares for him as a friend.
  • Punny Name: Sparks Nevada.
  • Put on a Bus: In "That Once and Future Thing", Cactoid Jim uses a portal to go back in time to be with his wife and son from that age.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Many segment/character theme songs have tunes either identical to or very similar to the Sparks Nevada theme, most notably the Ballad of Cactoid Jim (appropriate insofar as Jim serves as the Always Someone Better rival to Sparks).
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Sparks Nevada (red) and Croach (blue, just like his skin).
  • Relationship Upgrade: Later in the segment, the Red Plains Rider and Croach officially become a couple.
  • Religious Robot: Techs, as of "Can a Leopard Upgrade Its Spots?", has found religion - not that it makes him less willing to kill Sparks Nevada.
  • Reprise Medley: In "The Piano Has Been Thinking". The song played as Sparks rides to Red and Cactoid Jim's wedding is a mashup of all the songs that had been performed in the episode up until then, most of them performed by the same singers.
  • Romancing the Widow: Felton has a long-standing relationship with the widow Johnson.
  • Rogues Gallery: Sparks Nevada has a modest selection of recurring foes, such as Jib Janeen, the robot outlaw Techs, Los Banditos Mutantes, and Kevin the Spider.
  • Running Gag: After Sparks and Rebecca Rose Rushmore break up, she writes about it in one of her books and blames it on his "emotional unavailability". Throughout the following episodes, people Sparks meets reference the book and apparently believe Rebecca's version.
  • Sapient Steed: In the episode "She Blinded Me With Technology", Sparks' horse, Mercury, like other animals on the planet, gains the ability to talk and turns out to be way more cognitive than you'd expect a horse to be. He spends a few more episodes talking, until Croach returns to Sparks' life and Mercury, jealous, pretends to be unable to talk again.
  • Series Fauxnale: While the segment was meant to end with "Marshal on Mars", which tied up the story pretty neatly, the story is continuing with a new series of podcasts, starting with "That's No Honeymoon", which takes place during Sparks and Ginny's honeymoon.
  • Shipping:invoked In "The Night We Never Met", the Marshal Station Doors, while hacked and essentially stoned, admits to "writing stories of [Sparks and the Red Plains Rider] kissing".
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: The Saloon Bar Doors in the Sparks Nevada universe take on this persona when the Barkeep upgrades their artificial intelligence and they get a huge crush on Croach, though he's completely unaware of this.
  • Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Martian native Croach the Tracker criticizes Sparks Nevada at every turn, even as he works off his onus to Sparks for saving his tribe. This further plays into Sparks' resentment of Cactoid Jim, whom Croach praises up and down:
    Croach: Cactoid Jim pronounced my name correctly on his first attempt!
  • Space Jews: They lampshade this trope with the martians. They celebrate a holiday called Han-oo'Kah and their rite of passage for younglings is named B'at-mit zvah for females and B'ar-mit zvah for men. Interstingly, they also invert this trope. Commander Gene Peeples has none of the stereotypes associated with Jews, but when Pemily Stallwark wants to give him a gift for space-Christmas, he replies that he is space-Jewish. She then offers it as a gift for space-Hanukkah instead and he accepts.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Sparks Nevada is an Expy of the Lone Ranger. His horse's name is Mercury. Mercury is also known as quicksilver.
    • In "Carbonite-mare", in a parody of Return of the Jedi's Jabba's Palace sequence, the Red Plains Rider visits a planet of fly and spider people that has been taken over by scum and villainy. In other words, a Wretched Hive.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Averted with the Force Galactic, which grants its wielder more or less omnipotence. The Barkeep has it much of the series, but since his wife forbids him from using it in his place, Sparks Nevada or the others usually fix the situation without his help. That said, he does sometimes bend the rules a bit, such as by using the powers outside his place and on other, far away planets. On one occasion he breaks the rule altogether by bringing Felton back to life after he had been killed, asking everyone present not to tell his wife.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Technology: Croach the Tracker talks about the "na'notek" of his people in mystical terms, but it's really just advanced nanotechnology that gives him extraordinary regenerative properties.
  • Talking Animal: In "She Blinded Me With Technology", a technology being deploys a device that somehow gives animals the ability to talk. Sparks' horse, Mercury, is one of them. Kevin the Spider is another.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The Barkeep does this in "Good Jim." It helps that he was infused with phenomenal cosmic power.
  • Time Travel: Cactoid Jim (twice). The Red Plains Rider.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: In "Cosmic Sans," Mars is threatened by a nigh-omnipotent world-eating entity, known only as "Keith Gonzalez."
  • Trust Password: The first time Croach sees Sparks after returning from the dead, Sparks needs something more than just Croach's word that it's really him and demands something only the two of them would know about. To Sparks's dismay, Croach chooses to reveal the time Sparks massaged his egg sacs in the second episode.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Ginny West can't quite fathom how Sparks is more interested in continuing their first date when they see three robots caring for a human baby in "Custard's Last Stand."
  • Villain World: In the TAH / Night Vale crossover, we are briefly shown a universe where Chicky Sullivan succeeded in his plan in "Moonfaker", took over the universe and converted just about everyone in it into cyborgs.
  • Wham Line: The FINAL line of the final Sparks Nevada episode.
    Sparks Nevada: I love you, Ginny West.
    Ginny West: And I love you...MY BUDDY.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
    • The episode "Sheriff on Mars" introduced "automatons", basically robots, except without anything that can be considered sentience. Doesn't stop the Barkeep from greeting one like he would a person.
      Colton Wynant: No need to address him, he's got no sentience.
      Barkeep: I know, but there is such a thing as polite.
      Wynant: You "howdy" your toaster oven, Mr. Mayor?
      Barkeep: Every day.
    • Also is brought up in "Mutiny on the Bounty Hunter", where it's explained that licensed bounty hunters get as many as three civilian human kills in collateral damage as part of the job. The number is higher if the kills are Martian or robot.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Sparks Nevada with the Red Plains Rider. They don't. Instead, she ends up with Croach and Sparks marries Ginny West.
  • You Killed My Father: In the episode "Spiders, Man", Sparks Nevada kills the parents of the talking spider Kevin while saving Croach from them. Later, in "Wild, Wild Quest", he also kills Kevin's extended family when they swarm during the Red Plains Rider's Hero's Quest. Both times, he also does something to save Kevin, balancing the scales.

     Moonshine Holler 
  • Character Catchphrase:
    Gummy: Apple pie!
  • Expository Theme Tune
    Gather 'round all ye hobos and hear my tale
    Of riches to rags, towncars to rails
    Fell for a woman, didn't know what to call her
    She was the princess of Moonshine Holler
  • Gift of the Magi Plot: The episode of Down on Moonshine Holler titled "The Hobo Princess" reveals that while Banjo was riding the rails looking for his princess, the Princess had infiltrated high society looking for Banjo.
  • Meaningful Name: Banjo Bindlestuff is most certainly not Jasper Manorlodge.
  • Riches to Rags: Jasper Moneylodge renounces his wealth and becomes Banjo Bindlestuff to seek the hand of his Hobo Princess.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Defied. Banjo Bindlestuff (aka the incredibly wealthy Jasper Moneylodge) has more than enough money and influence to solve every problem that comes his way, but actually using his money and connections would sabotage his chances at locating his love, the Hobo Princess. Thus, each episode revolves around him trying to solve problems "the hobo way," using ingenuity to avoid this trope as much as possible.
  • Secret Identity: Banjo Bindlestuff, the suspiciously erudite hobo, is secretly a (thinly) disguised Jasper Moneylodge, a multimillionaire seeking the Hobo Princess.
  • Strictly Formula: Banjo and Gummy decide where next to seek the Hobo Princess, ride the rails there, meet a Damsel in Distress whose problem could be easily solved by Jasper Manorlodge's fortune, but instead is resolved by the ingenuity of Banjo Bindlestuff, the damsel gratefully kisses Banjo's sooty cheek, and the hobos resume their quest.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: In the final episode, Banjo immediately greets the Hobo Princess by her full name. Gummy is discombobulated:
    You knowed her name the whole time?
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Banjo Bindlestuff is certainly not a millionaire! Banjo and his mentor Gummy will be quick to point this out! Even before anyone asks!

     Jefferson Reid, Ace American/Amelia Earhart: Fearless Flyer 
  • Artistic License – History: Very intentionally so.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: "Amelia Earhart: Fearless Flyer" has Amelia Earhart teaming up with numerous historical figures to fight Nazi time-travelers.
  • Crossover: The episode "Time and Time Again" was a crossover of both Amelia Earhart and Colonel Tick-Tock, who face a mutual threat and are shown to exist in different times in the same universe. Later, Phillip Fathom and Adventurekateer Patrick are included as well - and the villain, K, hints that he will visit Frank and Sadie.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:the constant use of the word "kraut" in "Jefferson Reid, Ace American" and "Amelia Earhart, Fearless Flyer"- though relatively tame, it's still an anti-German ethnic slur.
  • Expository Theme Tune:
    Amelia Earhart, Fearless Flyer!
    Flies where other flyers daren't dare!
    Amelia Earhart, Fearless Flyer!
    Up where there's adventure in the air!
    In the wild blue yonder or the clouds of history,
    She fights the righteous fight and flies us straight to victory!
    Freedom's flag will fly forever higher!
    Amelia Earhart, Fearless Flyer's on her way!
  • Expy:
    • Jefferson Reid, together with his Kid Sidekick Brownie Finn, bear a remarkable similarity to Golden Age Captain America and Bucky Barnes, not just as patriotic figures, but also with regard to their plot. Just like Barnes fought with the Captain until his supposed death during a mission, Finn is killed saving Jefferson fighting Nazis and buried. But later (spoilers for parts of the comic lore and MCU follow), he is resurrected by the Nazis and brainwashed into working for them, similar to how Bucky became the Winter Soldier in both the comics and the second Captain America movie.
    • The Algonquin Four (Dorothy Parker, Harry Houdini, Woodrow Wilson and Robert Benchley) are an obvious parody of The Fantastic Four, having similar superpowers. Dorothy Parker doubles as a parody of both The Thing and The Incredible Hulk.
    • K of the Cosmos seems to be based on Mr. Mxyzplk of the DC Comics universe with a bit of Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation and onwards, in the sense that he, like both of them, is a Trickster God with reality warping powers who messes with the heroes. More specifically, he is like Q in the sense that both have a single letter for a name, and like Mr. Mxyzptlk in the sense that they both can be defeated by making them say something specific. Mr. Mxyzptlk is defeated by making him say his name backwards and K can be de-powered by getting him to reveal something embarrassing about himself.
  • Evil Counterpart: "Nazis Fall on Yancy Street" introduces the Red Baroness, who Amelia describes to Dorothy Parker as the closest thing the Nazis have to her. In "This Cockamamie Future" it's claimed that she is supposedly the daughter of the Red Baron.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Amelia Earhart uses a time travel device she calls a "thingamajig". In "From Time to Time", it turns out that's actually an acronym for "Temporal Handheld Ideal Navigator / Global Anywhen Mechanism Allowing Journeys Inter-Globally".
  • Godwin's Law of Time Travel: Amelia Earhart's enemies are almost always Nazis trying to find the right combination of historical changes to make so that Germany wins World War II, or takes over before the war even starts.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: In "From Time to Time", Amelia Earhart and Colonel Tick-Tock, both wielding Excalibur, square off for a moment before realizing they're on the same side.
  • Propaganda Piece: invoked Amelia and Jefferson Reid's segments are presented as such. They both feature valiant American heroes fighting the "dirty krauts" wherever they cause trouble. Their episodes open with newsreel style announcements common for the era.
  • Running Gag: Just about every time Amelia Earhart travels to the past and introduces herself as a woman pilot, she tells them not to make a big deal of the fact that she's a woman pilot - never remembering that in the time she has gone to, nobody has ever even conceived of airplanes, much less a woman piloting one.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Colonel Tick-Tock and Amelia Earhart do this on a regular basis, though Earhart usually goes after Nazis who have messed with the past while Colonel Tick-Tock usually deals with "temporal anomalies".
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Robert Benchley of the Algonquin Four never has anything good to say about Darby Donovan.
  • Time Police: Where Colonel Tick-Tock focuses on more general time-space anomalies and dangers, Amelia Earhart focuses on preventing attempts by the Nazis to Make Wrong What Once Went Right.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The Nazis in the universe of Jefferson Reid and Amelia Earhart are capable of brainwashing Americans, turning humans into giant half-gorilla super-soldiers, travelling in time to further their goals and bringing the dead back to life.
  • Time Travel

     The Adventures of Captain Laserbeam 
  • A Day in the Limelight: The episodes "Love on the Rocks" and "Right the One Inlet" starred Phillip Fathom in a story separate from Captain Laserbeam's.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Captain Laserbeam attends a Passover Seder in one episode. Whether he's actually Jewish or was just invited is not revealed.
  • Badass Boast: Phillip Fathom's standard introduction, a parody of Batman's "I am vengeance, I am the night" speech:
    "I am the subaquatic darkness! I am the abyssopelagic layer! I exert the pressure of justice on the metazoan creatures who lurk in the deep! I am the hero the ocean deserves! I am your semiamphibious knight! I am... Phillip Fathom, the Deep Sea Detective!"
  • Badass Longcoat: Fathom is mentioned to be wearing a trenchcoat and is depicted with one in the Thrilling Adventure Hour graphic novel.
  • Blessed with Suck: The Fishwife gives off a powerful kind of pheromones that makes her irresistable to men. She isn't at all happy about it and was driven to a life of crime by it.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Diebrarian in "Book, Line, and Sinker." His henchman Papercut and Captain Laserbeam do everything they can to keep the Diebrarian from realizing that his evil plan to force books upon school libraries is a good thing because he's convinced it's a great diabolical scheme and will stop if he figures that out.
  • Character Catchphrase: Every episode of Captain Laserbeam has far too much repeated dialogue to list here (see Once an Episode, below).
  • The Comically Serious: Phillip Fathom, Deep Sea Detective. He's a parody of the Nolanverse Batman, but since the world is otherwise decidedly Silver Age, his intensity is Played for Laughs.
  • Dating Catwoman: In an episode of "Captain Laserbeam", he mentions that Phillip Fathom has been "teaming up" with a female villain named the Fishwife. Pretty clever, when you consider the fact that Fathom is based on Batman.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    Captain Laserbeam: You're teaming up with her now?
  • Expository Theme Tune:
    Who's that? Flying at the speed of light?
    Who's that? Full of might and out of sight?
    When Apex City's cursed by crime,
    He's on the scene in laser time!
  • Expy: Phillip Fathom is largely an underwater version of Batman, with a voice straight out of The Dark Knight Trilogy and all the hamminess of the Silver Age Adam West Batman (1966).
  • Fallen Hero: Tinker Taylor, in the Captain Laserbeam episode "Tinker Taylor and Tyler Too". He is a former Adventurekateer (the first one, in fact) but left them and became a villain when his ego got the better of him.
    • A more downplayed example is Tyler, a recurring henchman to several villains who was also an Adventurekateer, though he is a pure Punchclock Villain and not the revenge-craving, egotistical Manchild Tinker Taylor is.
  • Freak Lab Accident: In "Love on the Rocks", the Fishwife claims to have suffered an explosion in her lab, causing her to release an intense kind of pheromones.
  • Harmless Villain: Captain Laserbeam has a lot of enemies whose quirks get in the way of their own plans, but of all of the ones who have been revealed, Shape Ape stands out as particularly incompetent. Apart from his using death traps on Captain Laserbeam, the only crimes he ever commits on his own initiative seem to be geometry-themed acts of vandalism, such as changing the shape of a town square. In "Three Sides to Every Story", he steals Phillip Fathom's hideout, but only because he wanted the triangular body of water under it. As a result, his usual rent-a-henchman Tyler is usually the driving force of his operations.
  • Hollywood Jehovah's Witness: The Righteous Brothers from the "Captain Laserbeam" episode "Circle Gets The Square". After assisting Captain Laserbeam in a fight, they even try to convert him. He quickly pretends the distress call only he can hear is going off and leaves.
  • Legacy Character: In "Try, Triangle Again", Keegan-Michael Key voices Captain Laserbeam instead of John Dimaggio. Everyone recognizes him as a different person, due to his being black and is later recognized by Tyler as a previous Adventurekateer. He hastily tells Tyler he's just filling in.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Phillip Fathom always wears the same trenchcoat and claims to never take it off.
  • Long List: Used twice in the "Captain Laserbeam" series:
    • First time is in "Tinker Taylor and Tyler Too", when Tinker Taylor brings up an incident where Captain Laserbeam sat out of a field trip with the Adventurekateers to a museum to fight a miniature supervillain and lists a whole bunch of other, equally miniature superheroes who could have done it:
      "So many people could have done that: Mighty Mite, Guy Small the Small Guy, Little Hercules, Tiny Timothy, Short Attack, Willy Wee Warrior, the Homunculus, Space Midget, Scale Model, Robo-Small, the Itty-Bitty Hitting Committee, shall I go on?!"
    • Later, in "Three Sides to Every Story", Phillip Fathom lists a number of aquatic villains who could have stolen his headquarters:
      "Tom Foolery, the Sea Devil, Neptune's Angels, Hans Blowfish, Mr. Octopus, Fishwife, the Wet Bandits, the Old Man, Thug Boat, Angler Management, the Octopus' Gardener, the Clownfish, Hurricane Larry, the Urchin, Oysters Rockefeller, want more?!
  • Meaningful Name: Captain Laserbeam's Secret Identity is Joshua Valor.
    • Never mind what happens when one of the Adventurekateers' Aunt Flo comes to town.
  • No Indoor Voice: Phillip Fathom always talks very loudly:
    "You don't have to yell."
  • Once an Episode: Captain Laserbeam has a bunch:
    • "The Adventurekateers are sounding an alarm on a frequency only I can hear! Thanks, laser hearing!"note 
    • Guessing which villain is causing trouble this time:
      Captain Laserbeam: Is King Mammal playing monkeyshines at the Apex City Zoo?
      Adventurekateers: Worse!
    • Reassuring them of his safety:
      Adventurekateers: What would we do without you?
      Captain Laserbeam: That's something you'll never have to worry about, as long as I'm around!
    • And when he leaves them back at the base for their own protection:
      Captain Laserbeam: But you'll be with me in spirit, and spirit is more powerful than one hundred lasers! Also, I'll have my one hundred lasers.
    • Calling on said spirit to escape a Death Trap:
      Captain Laserbeam: Can't... escape... but I must!
      (Flashback... Back... Back... to some Adventurekateer non sequiturs)
      Captain Laserbeam: Laser willpower!
    • The episode "Circle Gets the Square" invoked and then subverted almost all of the above. When Captain Laserbeam guesses what villain is at large, he gets it right on the third guess. When one of the Adventurekateers worries for him, the other says Apex City and the Adventurekateers would "get by". So when Captain Laserbeam gets trapped and has flashbacks, they do nothing to give him strength.
  • Poke the Poodle: Captain Laserbeam rushes to confront the Diebrarian to find that his sinister plot was to... purchase remaindered books and donate them to libraries so that children could read them! Rather than tell Diebrarian that his "evil" plan was actually noble, Captain Laserbeam just let himself be defeated and left.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Tyler, a recurring henchman to villains in the Captain Laserbeam universe. It's made clear that he only works for criminals to make a living and not because he shares their visions and he is civil, almost friendly, even, to Captain Laserbeam when they talk.
  • Punny Name: Some of Captain Laserbeam's villains have names that refer to history or literature, like Anne Frankenstein, Scarlet O'Horror, Helen of Destroy, and The Lying Dutchman.
  • Rogues Gallery:
    • Captain Laserbeam's enemies. This poster features nearly three dozen of 'em. Shape Ape, the Numbler, and Die-brarian are among the most frequently seen or mentioned.
    • Phillip Fathom has largely aquatic themed villains such as Fishwife, Thug Boat, or Angler Management. He also has a Joker to his Batman in the form of Tom Foolery.
  • Rule of Three: Captain Laserbeam always names three different villains when asking the Adventurekateers what the trouble is this time.
  • Secret Identity: Captain Laserbeam has offered more than one Suspiciously Specific Denial when asked about his.
    • One of his Adventurekateers admits that she's up-and-coming superhero Attagirl, but Captain Laserbeam wasn't paying attention. Even though that confession was one of his non-sequitur flashbacks later in the episode.
    • Dana's father is secretly Mr. Marvelous, The Top Notch Man.
  • Strictly Formula:
    • The majority of episodes follow a pattern of various Once an Episode of moments. Starting with Captain Laserbeam at a charity function, he's called by the Adventurekateers, where he makes three unsuccessful guesses as to which villain is causing trouble in Apex City, discussing possible superhero teamups and declaring it's to dangerous for the Adventurekateers to be with him other than in spirit. A scene showing off the villain of the episode with his or her henchmen, followed by Captain Laserbeam's arrival, subsequent placement into a deathtrap, freeing himself with the memory of the Adventurekateers, and apprehending his foes.
    • The episode "Circle Gets the Square" subverted just about every step of the formula. Captain Laserbeam fakes the Adventurekateer distress call to get away from the Righteous Brothers, Captain Laserbeam successfully guesses the villain of the week on the third try, the Adventurekateers are blase about something happening to Captain Laserbeam, which makes their memory less than helpful when Captain Laserbeam is caught in the deathtrap, which he escapes only with the intervention of the Righteous Brothers.
    • The introduction of Phillip Fathom added some variety in the formula, most often in the form of Phillip being the one to rescue Captain Laserbeam from the death trap or having him involved in the opening scenes or the Adventurekateer dialogue.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Averted and played straight. While most episodes with Phillip Fathom are about him teaming up with Captain Laserbeam in Apex City, Captain Laserbeam never joins Fathom in his own segment's stories in Aquapolis. Also played straight in the sense that there are other superheroes in the "Captain Laserbeam" universe, such as the Halluci-Nation and the Italian Batallion, whose work never intersects with that of Captain Laserbeam or Phillip Fathom.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Teaming up" for Captain Laserbeam seems to involve a lot more than just working together with other superheroes, particularly when it comes to Wonder Girl.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tinker Taylor calls Captain Laserbeam out for the neglectful way superheroes of that universe tend to treat their young assistants.

     The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock 
  • Artistic License – History: Very intentionally so.
  • Camp Gay: Colonel Tick-Tock minces through time and space and calls a lot of men "darling". The authors have confirmed that he is a closeted Victorian gay man.
  • Character Catchphrase:
    • Whenever the Algonquin Four appear, we get this line from Dorothy Parker:
      Dorothy Parker: I'm a rock man!
    • Also, as befitting her role as an Expy of the Hulk as well as the Thing:
      Dorothy Parker: Dorothy Parker SMASH!!
  • Crossover: The episode "Time and Time Again" was a crossover of both Amelia Earhart and Colonel Tick-Tock, who face a mutual threat and are shown to exist in different times in the same universe. Later, Phillip Fathom and Adventurekateer Patrick are included as well, with Patrick going with Colonel Tick-Tock as his sidekick - and the villain, K, hints that he will visit Frank and Sadie.
  • Expository Theme Tune:
    Sit back, don't touch that radio dial
    Bags packed, and take along a big smile
    Bring snacks, we may be gone for a while
    It's Colonel Tick-Tock time
    Get set, to travel through yesterday
    You bet, adventure's right round the way
    Forget, your cares 'cause fun's here to stay
    It's Colonel Tick-Tock time
  • Expy:
    • The Algonquin Four (Dorothy Parker, Harry Houdini, Woodrow Wilson and Robert Benchley) are an obvious parody of The Fantastic Four, having similar superpowers. Dorothy Parker doubles as a parody of both The Thing and The Incredible Hulk.
    • K of the Cosmos seems to be based on Mr. Mxyzplk of the DC Comics universe with a bit of Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation and onwards, in the sense that he, like both of them, is a Trickster God with reality warping powers who messes with the heroes. More specifically, he is like Q in the sense that both have a single letter for a name, and like Mr. Mxyzptlk in the sense that they both can be defeated by making them say something specific. Mr. Mxyzptlk is defeated by making him say his name backwards and K can be de-powered by getting him to reveal something embarrassing about himself.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: In "From Time to Time", Amelia Earhart and Colonel Tick-Tock, both wielding Excalibur, square off for a moment before realizing they're on the same side.
  • Overly Long Gag: The original opening and closing songs of Colonel Tick-Tock had multiple false endings and reprises, making them longer than the actual story.
  • Reality Warper: The main power of the Force Galactic, which grants its user nigh-omnipotence.
    • K, a time-travelling trickster who appears in Amelia Earhart and Colonel Tick-Tock, possesses similar powers.
  • San Dimas Time: In "The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock", when Queen Victoria repeatedly requires Colonel Tick-Tock to immediately leave to travel back in time to fix a problem. Lamp-shaded in one appearance where his wife Constance replies "Couldn't he leave at any time?" The Colonel explains "Quite the opposite. Were I to finish this biscuit, I would be far too late!"
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Colonel Tick-Tock and Amelia Earhart do this on a regular basis, though Earhart usually goes after Nazis who have messed with the past while Colonel Tick-Tock usually deals with "temporal anomalies".
  • Signature Laugh: Woodrow "Woodpecker" Wilson of the Algonquin Four laughs with Woody Woodpecker's signature laugh.
  • Solar System Neighbors: A featured segment is "Sparks Nevada: Marshal on Mars", which is a Space Cowboy adventure featuring the eponymous marshal and his Tonto-esque native Martian (or "Marjun") companion Croach the Tracker, who proudly declares himself to be from G'loot Praktaw, "Which you designate Mars". Also in this series, Jupiter is home to a race of Voluntary Shapeshifting aliens who ostensibly act as spies, but mostly just act as a nuisance.
  • Time Police: In the name of the Queen, Colonel Tick-Tock faces any foe or anomaly that threatens Earth's timeline.
  • Time Travel

     Tales from the Black Lagoon 
  • The Atoner: Jay Silverheels is this regarding how his actions hurt Ben Chapman in the Tales of the Black Lagoon.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Among the various tweaks to celebrities' personalities and lives, Harpo Marx was a kung-fu master and The Heavy for an ancient cannibal cult.
  • Clear My Name: The main character, Ben Chapman, is accused of killing a woman and tries to find the real killer.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: If this story is to be believed, then Jimmy Stewart was a fast-talking junkie, Angela Lansbury was a murderous femme fatale, and Harpo Marx was a kung-fu master and The Heavy for an ancient cannibal cult.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: In the first episode of "The Search for Marnie Bennett" Marine discovers, to her horror, that the Brotherhood of the Papyrus fed her one of the very cast members who died on the movie set.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: During "The Search for Marnie Bennett", we learn this is the case with The Brotherhood of the Papyrus. This may explain why Hitchcock was ready to immediately drop the investigation into them.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Ben Chapman doesn't bother to try and solve the mystery of the Brotherhood of the Papryus. Once he rescues Marnie she and he just leave Hollywood to live a quiet life.

     Desdemona Hughes, Diva Detective 
  • Bifauxnen: Betty, possibly; in "Lights, Camera, Murder!", a Jerkass actress mistakes her for a man. Desdemona says she "merely chooses to dress like one".
  • Character Catchphrase: "Betty, dear, hold my purse!" Betty equates it to Sherlock Holmes's "The game is afoot."
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: In the episode "Lights, Camera, Murder!", when an actor is revealed to have been effectively outed after being seen at a social club for "bachelors" by a gossip wrangler, the other characters seem not only completely fine with it ("You'd think something like that wouldn't matter; after all, it's the 40's!"), but the reveal actually pushed his career towards more roles as Roman emperors and doting fathers, with which he is more comfortable. Needless to say, being outed as gay would probably have been a career killer during the real-life 1940s.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Desdemona has apparently picked up quite a few skills and tidbits over the course of her acting career. In her first episode, she is able to recognize arthritis in a man's hands because she played an arthritic once.
  • Large Ham: Desdemona. Justified in that she is a former silent movie star, which would require her to be very physically expressive.
  • Master of Disguise: Using her acting skills and elaborate disguises, Desdemona is able to change her appearance into someone else entirely.
  • Short-Runners: Because the segment started just before the creators' decision to stop making live shows, "Desdemona Hughes" only got two episodes, "Baron Lightworker's Party" and "Lights, Camera, Murder!"
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Averted. Despite being a former star and having enjoyed her acting career tremendously before the talkies took over, Desdemona is quite comfortable not being in the spotlight anymore and enjoys being a detective just as much.

     A War of Two Worlds 
  • As Himself: President Joshua Malina, who is said to have been elected because of his experience with fictional politics.
  • Black Comedy Rape: In one of he interviews in the episode "Close Encounters", an Englishman says he was raped by one of the Martians.
  • The Cameo: Apparently Batman is real. And can be reached at the White House.
  • Destined Bystander: Jim Lyons, the baseball player who helps discover that the aliens are have a severe nut allergy, is revealed in "Sparks Nevada" to be Cactoid Jim before he was transported into the future.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": In the first episode, "Fear at First Sight", a guy from NASA goes through a hellish voice-controlled automated phone service to call the White House.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: Unlike the other Thrilling Adventure Hour segments, "A War of Two Worlds" is built largely on improv humor and celebrity impersonations rather than scripted stories.
  • Rule of Funny: Justifies pretty much everything that happens during the segment, from the White House's insane phone system to humanity's response to an alien invasion.
  • Sleazy Politician: The Vice President is introduced when a guy from NASA calling the White House gets patched through to a stripper who has just slept with him. In a later episode, he suggests getting sworn in before talks with the aliens have even begun.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The thing that finally repels the aliens off of earth: a severe nut allergy.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The segment, as suggested by its title, is a parody of War of the Worlds, in that both involve alien invasions of Earth that almost end with the aliens' victory and is stopped by something really small and simple that existed on Earth the whole time. In War of the Worlds, it was germs. In "A War of Two Worlds", it's nuts.

    The Boat Show 
  • Absurd Phobia: Hutch is said to have a Long List of fears related to the boat plan, including of bodies of water, air with salt in it, and, of course, boats.
  • All Gays Love Theater: Hutch and some other members of the theater company:
    Hutch: Pals, I could kiss you!
    Company member: Go ahead; we're theater folk.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Harold Rittenhouse "H.R." Greevey; he's lecherous, conniving and even twirls his mustache.
  • Hey, Let's Put on a Show: The theater troupe plans to perform a song from their upcoming musical to a millionaire in order to get the play funded and save their theater from ruin.
  • Product Placement: Jack Bleecker gives some as he is held in the brig:
    Jack Bleecker: I was caught. Now, I'm stuck in this SquareSpace... [pause as the audience laughs] ...where my cries for help are barely Audible. [more laughter; applause] See? They can be organically worked in.

Alternative Title(s): Thrilling Adventure Hour