A tastefully vicious collection of British comedies, all centering around various generations of the Blackadder family as embodied in its sole visible member, Edmund — a cynical, snide, and outright caustic British nobleman (he'd be a Deadpan Snarker if he could just stop sneering) who never seems to succeed at most of his schemes, but never quite loses either (except usually at the end, where he dies horribly or wins spectacularly). Each Edmund in each generation is aided by a Bumbling Sidekick in the shape of his corresponding Baldrick, an ignorant and filthy manservant and dogsbody of unhealthy habits and preoccupations. His typical foil is a classic Upper-Class Twit of far higher social station than his own, whom he is forced to serve hand and foot.
Series one, written by Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis, featured Blackadder as a hapless loser, Baldrick as his more cunning servant, and a series of Shakespearean in-jokes. Much of the humour was reliant on the sort of rubber-faced comic buffoonery Atkinson would later use in Mr. Bean. The show had lots of expensive location footage but was not a ratings success. Nonetheless it was recommissioned for a second series (albeit with a drastically reduced budget), which, after a change of direction, and writers, Grew the Beard (literally in the lead character's case) and became extremely well-loved. The show was a smash hit from its second season onwards. Seasons two to four saw Ben Elton replacing Atkinson on the writing team, the Blackadder character repurposed as the Deadpan Snarker, and a greater emphasis on clever dialogue, running gags, and historical subversion. The retooled show became a comedy institution, although it has resisted several attempts at revival.
One of the most impressive aspects of the show was the subtle differences between the various incarnations of Blackadder: The ambitious but spineless Black Adder, the dashing but impulsive Lord Blackadder, the cool and ruthless E. Blackadder Esq and the weary, rather less evil, but more witty and intelligent Captain Blackadder all had much in common character-wise, but were recognisably different people. A similar variation can be seen in the Baldricks (for some reason, each incarnation was lower in social order than the previous).
Besides the great writing, Blackadder's success rests on the shoulders of stars Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson, whose comic instincts combine to produce some of the most delightfully snarky wit that has ever been seen on television. A similarly skilled supporting cast, including BRIAN BLESSED, Peter Cook (in the first series), Miranda Richardson, Hugh Laurie, Tim McInnerny, Rik Mayall, and Stephen Fry just added to the pleasure and the outrage.
The original four series of Blackadder are:
- The Black Adder (1983). An alternate history set during the period of the Wars of the Roses.
- Blackadder II (1986). Elizabethan London.
- Blackadder the Third (1987). During the Regency Period.
- Blackadder Goes Forth (1989). World War I, in the trenches of the Western Front.
There were also several one-shot Blackadder specials:
- Blackadder: The Cavalier Years (1988). A Comic Relief special (aired on the first-ever Red Nose Day, 5 February 1988; Richard Curtis founded the charity with Lenny Henry) set during the English Civil War.
- Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988). An Affectionate Parody of A Christmas Carol, which was (obviously) a Christmas special set (naturally) in Victorian London.
- Blackadder Back & Forth (2000). The 21st Century Blackadder and Baldrick trip through time in a time machine.
In addition, "a Blackadder" is a go-to character for a quick skit in UK variety specials, especially ones for the Royal Family for some reason. Versions of the character have been involved in the Royal Variety Performance, the Golden Jubilee Party at the Palace, and the Gala Events for Prince Charles's 50th and 60th birthdays, amongst other appearances. A comic book version had a significant plot thread in the 1991 Comic Relief Comic.
There exists an unaired pilot episode of the first series, which can with some luck be found floating around on the internet. It featured Prince Black Adder as a sneering snarker and Baldrick as the idiot dogsbody the fans came to know from series two onwards (albeit not played by Tony Robinson); unfortunately this direction was not kept, and instead the characters were rewritten and the humour based on physical Slap Stick. Several jokes and scenes of the unaired pilot were recycled in various first series episodes.
Came second in Britain's Best Sitcom.
Recap still under construction, help will be much appreciated.
- The Ace: Lord Flashheart
- In multiple senses, in that the Lord Flashheart of the Fourth installment of the series, or more properly, Squadron Commander the Lord Flashheart, is also an Ace Pilot.
- Alternate History:
- Most noticeably with The Black Adder, which depicts Henry Tudor as losing in the Battle of Bosworth Field, and Richard IV ruling for the next 13 years, before the eventual Henry VII rewrites the history books to scrub out Richard IV's reign.
- Downplayed with Blackadder II and Blackadder the Third, which does mostly follow the real path of history, albeit with a humorous spin on things. However, two major differences from real history are that Elizabeth I and the soon-to-be-George IV both got killed and replaced by Prince Ludwig and Mr. Blackadder respectively.
- Blackadder: The Cavalier Years for the most part follows the lead of the second and third series in putting a humorous spin on the English Civil War and the execution of Charles I, but ends by implying that the baby that in real-life became Charles II after the Restoration will end up being killed thanks to Blackadder's treachery, presumably meaning that Blackadder must have found a peasant baby to replace him.
- Averted by Blackadder Goes Forth which, with only two exceptions — Manfred von Richtoven and Field Marshall Haig — deals entirely with fictional characters and events within the larger setting of World War I. The sole difference between the events of the show and real-world history would be that von Richtoven got shot and apparently killed by Flashheart in 1917, rather than getting killed when his plane was shot down in 1918.
- Turned Up to Eleven by Blackadder Back & Forth, which gives us two alternate histories; one after Blackadder's first trip through time, in which the French conquered the UK in the 19th century, and one after Blackadder knows that he can change the present, in which the Blackadder dynasty has been in power for centuries.
- All There in the Manual: The dvd "Blackadder Remastered: The Ultimate Edition" comes with Baldrick's family tree. There is an insane amount simply called "Baldrick" that begs the question if the various Baldrick's are all related to each other via father to son.
- Artistic License – History: Many, many examples per episode, to say nothing of the show's overall track record. But hey, Rule of Funny, people! Plus, The Black Adder can explain away its inaccuracies as Henry Tudor doing a lousy job of rewriting history (and, at a stretch, you could say that Prince Ludwig as Elizabeth I and Blackadder as George IV did something similar for the second and third series).
- Eliminating all artifacts from a 13-year reign would be a difficult trick to say the least. One of the reasons we know of the extremely obscure Roman emperor Elagabalus, who was declared damnatio memoriae and whose name was expunged thoroughly from official histories of the Empire, is because coinage with their face and name on it survives to the present day. And Elagabalus reigned for a mere three years.
- In the very last episode of the fourth series, averted. The viewers know that World War I ended in 1918, so, when Capt. Darling thinks the war has finally ended, mentioning the year 1917, it becomes clear that the characters are doomed.
- Ass Shove: Used as a threat a few times:
Blackadder: Radished, sir?
- In Blackadder II, the Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells threatens to put a red-hot poker up Edmund's arse if Edmund doesn't repay the £1,000 debt he owes him.
- In Blackadder the Third, among other threats from literary men, Samuel Taylor Coleridge says that he will see the person who loses the manuscript of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary hanged by his hair and with an Oriental disembowelling cutlass thrust up his behind.
- In the same series, Prince George worries that he'll be "debagged and radished" for non-payment of debts to a social club.
George: Yes, they pull your breeches down and push a large radish right up your...
Blackadder: Yes, yes, yes, alright sir. There's no need to hammer it home.
George: As a matter of fact, they do often have to...
Blackadder: No! No!
- The Bad Guy Wins:
- The first series starts with the bad guy, Henry Tudor having effectively won already. Although he loses the Battle of Bosworth Field in the first episode, he eventually ends up claiming the throne thirteen years later after Percy accidentally poisons the royal family to death, then for the real kicker he rewrites the history books to erase Richard IV's reign altogether.
- Blackadder II ends with Hugh Laurie killing everyone in The Stinger.
- Blackadder the Third ends with the most ruthless and evil of Blackadders usurping the identity of Prince Regent.
- Blackadder Goes Forth ends with all the main cast members falling victim to the madness of modern war, the real villain of this instalment. And to Melchett's questionable strategies. In contrast to the second and the third series, the ending isn't Played for Laughs.
- Blackadder Back and Forth had the modern incarnation of Blackadder manipulate history via time travel to become King of the United Kingdom and making Baldrick his (puppet) Prime Minister.
- Blackadder: The Cavalier Years ends with Blackadder defecting to the Roundheads and ratting out both Baldrick and that baby that in real-life grew up to be Charles II.
- Blackadder's Christmas Carol may very well combine the most extreme example along with a subversion: It ends with the uncharacteristically kind-hearted Ebenezer Blackadder realizing that, if he adopts the evil and selfish ways of his ancestors, his descendants will one day RULE THE UNIVERSE. The subversion comes however when he loses the chance of a lifetime to become rich and powerful precisely because of becoming THAT callous. So its a win for the Blackadder family in one of the ultimate examples of this trope but a loss for Ebenezer himself.
- Bad News in a Good Way
- Bandaged Face
- Bawdy Song: Several examples in certain episodes, from the second season onwards.
- Been There, Shaped History: Captain Blackadder from Blackadder Goes Forth is the only incarnation who isn't a friend/relative of a government figure. However, he did save Field Marshall Haig from a mango-wielding pygmy at Mboto Gorge. The intro to Blackadder: Back & Forth lampshades this with a montage of various incarnations throughout history, including an archer (accidentally) slaying King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, one (Australian) Desert Rat giving the bird to Winston Churchill behind his back and another gagging behind Margaret Thatcher giving a speech.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: A running gag across all four series.
- "Lord Melchett, Lord Melchett, intelligent and deep. / Lord Melchett, Lord Melchett, a shame about the sheep!"
- Becomes "BAAAAA!!!" by Goes Forth.
- "Lord Melchett, Lord Melchett, intelligent and deep. / Lord Melchett, Lord Melchett, a shame about the sheep!"
- British Brevity: Consists of four series of six episodes each, plus the occasional special.
- Black Comedy: Murders, executions, torture and various other nastiness are consistently used as the source of comedy.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Miranda Richardson's characters between season 2 and 4
- Amy Hardwood (season 3, blonde)
- Mary Fletcher (season 4, brunette)
- Queenie (season 2, redhead)
- Buffy Speak: Several times. (Chronologically, shouldn't this be called BlackadderSpeak?)
- Blackadder II — Edmund is trying to avoid drinking because he Can't Hold His Liquor.Melchett: You twist and you turn like a... twisty-turny thing.
- Stephen Fry admitted in the 2008 documentary Blackadder: The Whole Rotten Saga that this line was a Throw It In! on his part.
- Blackadder the Third — Edmund is attempting to bring the dim-witted Prince up to speed on the state of the nation.Edmund: Disease and deprivation stalk our land like... two giant stalking things.
- Blackadder II — Edmund is trying to avoid drinking because he Can't Hold His Liquor.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Baldrick is a well-loved example of the trope (and indeed the former Trope Namer), appearing from the second and subsequent series.
- Butt-Monkey: Baldrick is probably the most obvious, but Percy, George, Darling and Edmund himself all fit the bill in some way as well.Blackadder, Blackadder — nothing goes as planned!
Blackadder, Blackadder — life deals him a bum hand!
- Butlerspace: Baldrick does this occasionally in the first season (in which he's a Hypercompetent Sidekick instead of the bumbling slob of later episodes). At one point he emerges from a decorative suit of armour that Edmund happens to be walking past, just as he's needed.
- The Casanova: Flashheart.
- Baldrick: "I have a cunning plan..."
- Melchett: "BAAAAA!"
- Blackadder: "Oh, God!" and, "...well, quite."
- Queenie: "Who's Queen?" and "Shut up Nursie!"
- George: "Hurrah!"
- Flashheart: "Woof!"
- Lady Whiteadder: "Wicked child!"
- The Chain of Harm: Discussed (and simultaneously played out) in Blackadder III:Blackadder: It is the way of the world, Baldrick: the abused always kick downwards. I am annoyed, and so I kick the cat; the cat [terrified squeaking] pounces on the mouse; and, finally, the mouse...
Baldrick: [jumps in pain] Ahh!!
Blackadder: ... bites you on the behind.
Baldrick: And what do I do?
Blackadder: Nothing. You are last in God's great chain, Baldrick. Unless, of course, there's an earwig around here that you'd like to victimise.
- Charlie Chaplin Shout-Out: In one episode of the fourth season Edmund is the only one who despises Chaplin, who is quite popular with all the other recruits. Near the end of the episode he is forced to project Chaplin movies for the other soldiers.
- This was something of an In-Joke as Rowan Atkinson is a big Charlie Chaplin fan.
- Character Action Title: Goes Forth.
- Characterization Marches On: As already mentioned, Blackadder was far less competent in the first series whereas Baldrick was far more intelligent. To a point, anyway; if you really look at Prince Edmund, you already start to see flashes of personality that would define his descendants (mostly in "Born to Be King", which was adapted from the pilot, in which the characters' personalities were much more in line with that of later series; Edmund's snarkiest lines are direct lifts from the pilot).
- Commedia dell'Arte: Edmund starts out as a Capitano character, but Series 2 Retools him as a Brighella. Baldrick is Arlecchino throughout, and Percy is a Pierrot.
- Contempt Crossfire:
- In the second series, Blackadder has nothing but contempt for Lord Melchett for his constant sucking up to the Queen. Melchett hates him right back, constantly scheming to get Blackadder in trouble with the Queen, but must take great care that the Psychopathic Womanchild not decapitate him on a whim either.
- Blackadder Goes Forth: Captain Blackadder finds himself with an antagonistic relationship with Captain Darling, who abuses his position under General Melchett to make Blackadder's life miserable (and is constantly belittled by Blackadder), but he's ignored and mistreated by the general in turn. It's a sign of just how badly they know they're screwed in the final episode when Darling is volunteered for the big push and neither of them snarks at the other.
- The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much:
- Various examples, especially in the first two series, such as the (latest) Archbishop of Canterbury dying because a soldier bowed to him, "forgetting" that his helmet had a metre-long spike on it, or Edmund's predecessor as Chief Executioner, whose death was apparently a bureaucratic error, though Queenie seems to know more about it than she's letting on. Fantasised, though not acted out, by Edmund Blackadder III, when he asks "Baldrick, does it have to be this way? Our valued friendship ending with me cutting you up into strips and telling the prince that you walked over a very sharp cattle grid in an extremely heavy hat?"
- In the first episode of series three, Blackadder replaces the voter for Dunny-on-the-Wold after he "very sadly, accidentally, brutally cut his head off while combing his hair". Previously, the announcer (Vincent Hanna, great-great-great-grandfather of the 20th century broadcaster) mentioned that Blackadder is also taking over the returning officer's role after he "accidentally, brutally stabbed himself in the stomach while shaving".
- Cunning Like a Fox:
- A line from Goes Fourth provides the current page quote:Blackadder: As cunning as the fox that's just been appointed professor of cunning at Oxford University?
- Which gets a Call-Back in Back & Forth:Baldrick: Is it as cunning as that fox what used to be Professor of Cunning at Oxford University but has since moved on, and is now working for the UN at the High Commission of International Cunning Planning?
- A line from Goes Fourth provides the current page quote:
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Blackadder in the second and subsequent seasons; also, Melchett in the second series and Darling in the fourth.
- Prince Edmund did show signs of this in the first series.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance:
- Often the show observes differences in social attitudes during the period, relative to the modern day. For example, in "Bells" Blackadder perceives his suspected homosexuality as a disease and goes to great lengths to cure it.
- Meanwhile in "Dish and Dishonesty", the "Standing at the Back Dressed Stupidly and Looking Stupid Party" candidate (modelled on the real-life Monster Raving Loonies) has the "crazy" idea of abolishing slavery.
- Disproportionate Retribution:
- Often. Nearly all Blackadders have unpleasant reactions to people they find somewhat irritating. Queenie has ordered executions for celebrating Christmas (and then changing her mind and ordering them for those who don't give her impressive enough gifts). The first Edmund's scepticism of witchcraft also got him accused and tried (and almost burned) for it by a corrupt "witchsmeller".
- Captain Blackadder was tried in a kangaroo court and sentenced to face the firing squad. His crime? He shot and ate General Melchett's favourite carrier pigeon.
Melchett: The charge before us is that the Flanders Pigeon Murderer did deliberately, callously, and with beastliness of forethought murder a lovely, innocent pigeon. [dismissively] And disobeyed some orders as well.
- Zig-zagged, as the actual reason he was arrested was because shooting carrier pigeons was declared a court martial offence due to "communications problems" (actually Blackadder simply ignoring orders) — however, it becomes immediately clear at the trial that all Melchett cares about is the pigeon.
- The Ditz: Baldrick
- Downer Ending: Every series, except the third one, and possibly the second if you don't count The Stinger.
- The third series is also up for debate. See The Bad Guy Wins for details.
- Dynamic Akimbo: The title character mocks this trope when some actors teach the Prince Regent to stand thus while giving a Rousing Speech.Keanrick: Why, your very posture tells me, "Here is a man of true greatness."
Blackadder: Either that or "Here are my genitals, please kick them."
- Economy Cast: Verging on Minimalist Cast even; Blackadder and Baldrick are the main characters, the supporting character cast is small, and there is occasionally an addition to the cast for the episode.
- The Evil Prince: Prince Edmund. Mr Blackadder went on to become this also, after his opportunistically usurping Prince George at the end of series three.
- Famous Last Words: A couple.
- The Black Adder: "And now, at last, I shall be King of E—"
- Lord Topper, the Scarlet Pimpernel: "Let me just jump into this corner first."
- The Original Prince George: "I'm not dead! You see, I had a cigarillo box too! ...Oh damn, I must have left it on the dresser."
- The Red Baron: see Evil Gloating
- Captain Blackadder: "Good luck, everyone." (Although it's almost "Baldrick, you're mincemeat!")
- The Fighting Narcissist — Lord Flashheart.
- Flowery Insults: Edmund proves to be creative at this. For instance: "Baldrick, if a hungry cannibal were to crack open your skull, I doubt there'd be enough brains in there to cover a small water biscuit."
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The four Blackadders epitomise these types. The first is Sanguine, the second Phlegmatic, the third Choleric and the fourth Melancholic.
- Generational Saga
- Insane Troll Logic: The thinking behind many of Baldrick's "cunning plans".
- High Turnover Rate:
- Archbishop of Canterbury in the first series, Lord High Executioner in the second. And you can probably guess who gets both those jobs, just after the High Turnover Rate is commented on in detail.Melchett: [unrolls scroll] List of candidates for the position of Lord High Executioner: Lord Blackadder... [rolls up scroll]
- Also, Royal Flying Corps pilots, as discussed in the fourth instalment. They are called "Twenty Minuters" because, on average, they only last twenty minutes, to the horror of Capt. Blackadder who was trying to escape trenches by transferring to the Flying Corps.
- Archbishop of Canterbury in the first series, Lord High Executioner in the second. And you can probably guess who gets both those jobs, just after the High Turnover Rate is commented on in detail.
- Historical Beauty Update: Discussed on the trope page.
- Historical In-Joke: The entire premise of the show (particularly the first series) with many references helpfully explained on the DVD collection for those of us unfamiliar with British history. The best of these is the final episode of the third series, which explains why the moronic Prince George is remembered by history as a man of wit and character.
- Hollywood History: Mostly played for laughs — the first two series had enough history-based humour to prove the producers are well informed, after all. Blackadder the Third had a lot of Anachronism Stew with respect to the order of events in the Napoleonic Wars (and every notable 18th century writer alive and writing at the same time).
- Identical Grandson: Prince Edmund, Lord Blackadder, E. Blackadder Esq, Captain E. Blackadder and King Edmund Blackadder III.
- Also true for the Baldricks.
- Possibly true for Prince George and Lieutenant George.
- Also the Melchetts, Percys, Flashhearts and Kate (aka Bob).
- Many different incarnations of the main characters appear in the specials as well. Over the course of the series there have been eleven versions of Blackadder (including MacAdder), ten Baldricks, five Georges, three Queenies, five Melchetts, two Percys, three Darlings, three Flashhearts, two Bobs, two Nursies, three Mrs. Migginses (mentioned) and numerous possible links between characters (for example Percy and Darling, Melchett and Wellington etc.)
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Titles of series 2 episodes are one word long and pertain to the subject of the episode in question ("Bells" as in wedding bells, "Chains" referring to imprisonment); series 3 uses The Noun and the Noun (to reference Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, which are set in the same era) — for example "Dish and Dishonesty"; series 4 gives all bar one its titles military ranks with double meanings — "Private Plane," "Major Star," "General Hospital," etc- the exception being "Goodbyeee...", the last one, named after a popular World War I song and referencing the episode's famous Downer Ending.
- Just Like Robin Hood: Parodied briefly.
- Kill 'em All: Played for laughs in the finales of series 1 and 2, then played tragically straight in the finale of season 4.
- Large Ham: BRIAN BLESSED in series one, Tom Baker in series 2, Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Connor in series 3 (as a pair of actors, no less), Rik Mayall and Stephen Fry elsewhere. The French Ambassador in series 3 counts as well.
- Manipulative Bastard — Blackadder himself.
- Malaproper: Baldrick and George, on occasion.
- Needle in a Stack of Needles
- Negative Continuity: Humour is much more important than continuity (particularly between episodes), especially when you've already more or less ignored any inconvenient history, but even then there are strange moments.
- Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Amy Hardwood and Nurse Mary Fletcher-Brown, and possibly Queenie (all played by Miranda Richardson).
- Oddly Small Organization: In Blackadder II, the Queen appears to have only three courtiers; in Blackadder the Third, the Prince Regent has an apparent staff of two; and in Blackadder Goes Forth, Captain Blackadder has only two men under his command. In the latter case, the full number of men under Captain Blackadder's command is revealed in the final episode, although even then it is rather small.
- These were mainly caused by the show lacking the budget to do the organisations justice so a suspension of disbelief is required. This is particularly evident in Back & Forth where they finally had the money to show Queenie's throne room and court in its entirety.
- The opening credits of "Goes Forth" at least shows Captain Blackadder at the head of a large platoon of soldiers as they're parading, and other soldiers in the trench are often referred to in conversation. It's almost a dead cert that, by the time they go over the top, the daily attrition of trench warfare had reduced his command to those unlucky few.
- One Dose Fits All: Parodied in the first series, where one of the seven plotters doesn't die of poisoned wine, has another, then dies.
- Only Sane Man: One of the main reasons why Blackadder is so easy to like despite his Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist and Villain Protagonist tendencies is that he's usually one of if not the only person around who is a reasonably sensible and not completely insane human being. Even the original Blackadder, who was noticeably less intelligent than his descendants, was smart enough to notice how utterly stupid and nonsensical the medieval witch-hunts were.
- The effect of Blackadder being the Only Sane Man was done via the dramatic equivalent of an optical illusion on the part of Richard Curtis and Ben Elton. After what everyone felt had been a not entirely successful first season, Elton suggested making Baldrick less intelligent and Blackadder more. But since a highly intelligent protagonist doesn't necessarily make for great comedy (because such a protagonist will be too smart to let him or herself get into potentially comic situations), they decided to make Baldrick epically stupid. This made it possible for Blackadder to do stupid things — like delegate executions to Percy, or carelessly eat a random carrier pigeon — because no matter how stupidly Blackadder behaved, Baldrick was always on hand to make him look intelligent by comparison.
- Overwhelming Exception: The series like to play this trope for laughs in multiple different iterations and specials. For example, in Blackadder Goes Forth, when being advised how details to a secret operation must be kept very close, the question is posed who exactly will know these details, and we get this exchange:Melchett: You and me, Darling, obviously. Field Marshal Haig, Field Marshal Haig's wife, all Field Marshal Haig's wife's friends, their families, their families' servants, their families' servants' tennis partners, and some chap I bumped into the mess the other day called Bernard.
Blackadder: Quite so, sir, only myself and the rest of the English-speaking world is to know.
- The Pig Pen: Baldrick
- Rant-Inducing Slight: Doesn't usually take much of a slight. The most notable example is probably that following Edmund being stripped of his titles in the last episode of series one.
- Rearrange the Song: Each season uses a different arrangement of the same basic theme. The opening credits of the first season and the closing credits of the second season have lyrics, otherwise it's instrumental. (The closing credits of the third season have lyrics of a sort, even if it is just repetition of the word "Blackadder").
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: How each series ends.
- Except Series 3, which ends with only Prince George dead, and King George (who is as mad as a spoon) thinking Blackadder is Prince George (and several other prominent people also thinking this, or at least willing to play along since it means not having an idiot as regent and future king).
- Running Gag: Many.
- "[Person] / [something] is the most [adjective] [thing] since [humorously exaggerated comparison]."
- "I have a cunning plan...."
- Sliding Scale of Continuity: The seasons in relation to each other are Level 0 (Non-Linear Installments), the only similarities being the basic premise of "Blackadder surrounded by idiots" (and not even that considering the first season). However, the episodes within a season can be from Levels 1-2.
- The Stinger: Used in every episode of The Black Adder except for "Born to be King," and then memorably after the last episode of Blackadder 2.
- Surrounded by Idiots: EDMUND.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: George for Percy. YMMV of whether or not he became more of an example as time went by. In Season 3, Prince George being Edmund's boss made the dynamic somewhat different, but season 4's Lt George was closer to Percy. Richard Curtis described Prince George thus:Richard Curtis: We took Percy, who hadn't been clever, and scooped out the final teaspoonful of brains, and presented Hugh Laurie.
- There are subtle differences between Percy and Lt George. Where Percy is arrogant, Lt George is blithe; where Percy is smug, Lt George is blandly complacent; where Percy is insecure and fears Blackadder's wrath, Lt George isn't scared of Blackadder and doesn't really understand him at all.
- Captain Darling in season 4 is what Percy would be like if Percy weren't desperate for Blackadder's approval.
- There are subtle differences between Percy and Lt George. Where Percy is arrogant, Lt George is blithe; where Percy is smug, Lt George is blandly complacent; where Percy is insecure and fears Blackadder's wrath, Lt George isn't scared of Blackadder and doesn't really understand him at all.
- Talks Like a Simile: Edmund often uses elaborate similes.
- Time Travel: Blackadder Back & Forth
- Blackadder's Christmas Carol has no actual travel, but does show peeks into the past and future.
- Token Evil Teammate: The self-serving Blackadders are usually this. However, the one in Goes Fourth is more a Token Jerk Teammate as he's far less evil than his predecessors and the evil flag has been taken over by the sociopathic and incompetent General Melchett.
- Too Dumb to Live: Everyone who isn't Edmund. Edmund himself is more like Too Surrounded by Idiots to live: He is accidentally poisoned by Percy in Series 1; no-one is able to see through Ludvig's Queenie disguise in Series 2, not even the real Queenie; and in Series 4 he has his commanding officers like Field Marshall Haig and Melchett, who believe that the best strategy is to climb over the top and "walk very slowly towards the enemy". A strategy which has already failed at least fourteen times, no less. (Sadly Truth in Television, of course)
- In Series 1, even Blackadder is Too Dumb to Live. He recruits the most evil men in the entire kingdom to help him overthrow his father and seize the throne for himself, and then is entirely surprised when they turn on him to loot everything for themselves and try to brutally kill him. He actually survives that, and is the only one in the room who DOESN'T drink the poisoned wine in the toast to his survival, then when everyone else dies (and leaves him as King of England, which he has been scheming to become for the entire series) he decides to test the wine for poison by drinking it HIMSELF.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: Baldrick between series one and two.
- Took a Level in Kindness:
- In Blackadder the Third, Prince George is an obnoxious, piggish and over-sexed moron. In Blackadder Goes Forth, Lieutenant George is more of a naive and Spoiled Sweet Manchild.
- Blackadder himself get this. Unlike his power-hungry ancestors, Captain Edmund Blackadder just wants to get out of the trenches and not die.
- Universal-Adaptor Cast: Back & Forth makes it explicit that there are analogues of the main cast throughout all of history.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Particularly the series three Blackadder, who is a thief and a murderer several times over by the ending.
- In season two, no one — including the balladeer — cares about him much:Blackadder, Blackadder — his life was almost done!
Blackadder, Blackadder — who gives a toss? No one!
- In season two, no one — including the balladeer — cares about him much:
- Upper-Class Twit: Several, most notably Lord Percy Percy [second season] and Prince Regent George (the future George IV) [third season]. Not that Percy's series 1 ancestor is any better, as he appears to be quite a bonehead.
- Villain Protagonist: Played with in Edmund, although only the third really qualifies as a full-time one.
- With Friends Like These...: Blackadder to Percy in the first two series. Prince Edmund treated Percy-Percy more like his personal suck-up and sycophant rather than friend and went as far as trying to stab him once due to being driven nuts by his (greater) stupidity. Lord Edmund doesn't even require Lord Percy's toadying and would rather avoid him completely, but Percy's insistence to treat him as his best friend and hang out with him makes Edmund try to make the best out of the situation, by taking advantage of Percy in every way possible (primarily financially).
- World of Ham: The franchise is a good who's-who of great British scenery-chewers.
- World of Snark: The shallowness, stupidity and downright arrogance of the world around him make Blackadder's hijinks as a Villain Protagonist particularly satisfying
- Zany Scheme: Blackadder tends to have one for every occasion. Baldrick also cooks all sorts of these up... problem is, with his intelligence, most of them border on the ridiculous (such as in series 3's "Nob and Nobility", where he suggests to Edmund that they wait until their heads have been cut off by French revolutionaries before they make an escape, in the manner of a headless chicken). His series 1 plans were perfectly feasible and at times even brilliant. That said though, Edmund does take him up on one plan in series 4. Percy also had his share of these in the first two series.
- Sometimes the situation is shown as being so desperate that Blackadder is forced to resort to one of Baldrick's plans due to the lack of any other alternative (for example, trying to rewrite in only two nights the dictionary which took Samuel Johnson ten years to write).
- Blackadder's main objective over the course of each series always relates very much to the time in which he lives. In the first series (medieval times) he wants to take over the throne. In the second (Elizabethan) he is trying to at best wed Queen Elizabeth or at least earn her favour. In the third (the Industrial Revolution) he wants to make more money and in the fourth (World War I) he just wants to get out of the trenches.
- Abhorrent Admirer: The Spanish Infanta in "The Queen of Spain's Beard".
- Accidental Misnaming: The King has a habit of calling Edmund by different names (Occasionally (read: deliberately and Once an Episode) forgetting Edmund's his son at all). The King finally calls him Edmund in the last episode after he wakes from his torture-induced coma, leading to this exchange:King Richard: Edmund!
Edmund: Father, you called me Edmund!
King Richard: Sorry, Edgar.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Edmund, finding himself on the losing end of a duel, tries to bribe his aggressor with all his possessions into sparing his life ("you can have my wigs! My wigs for formal occasions, my wigs for private occasions...").
- Alas, Poor Villain: Prince Edmund.
- Altar Diplomacy: In "The Queen of Spain's Beard" Edmund is first betrothed to the Spanish Infanta and later is married off to a princess of Hungarynote because of his father King Richard's political machinations.
- Ask a Stupid Question...: An early hint of the future Blackadder wit is seen when Prince Edmund trots out the castle gate on his horse.Old Man/Retired Morris Dancer: Going on a journey, my lord?
Prince Edmund: No, I thought I'd stand around here all day and talk to you.
- Atrocious Alias: Edmund's original choice of "The Black Vegetable".
- Bait-and-Switch Comparison: A variant in "The Queen of Spain's Beard."King Richard: [pointing at Harry's genitals to teach him about diplomacy] What's that for?
Harry: Well, a couple of things.
King Richard: Correct, and one of those things is?
Harry: Best not mentioned, really.
King Richard: Right, and the other is fornication!
- Bastard Bastard: It's heavily implied that Edmund is the illegitimate offspring of the Queen and a Scottish duke.
- Bragging Theme Tune: The theme is a parody of this trope. Although it does say how wonderful Blackadder is, it does seem like the truth slips out.Black Adder, Black Adder, with many a cunning plan!
Black Adder, Black Adder, you horrid little man!
- Brick Joke: When trying to get out of his arranged marriage to the Infanta, Blackadder takes Baldrick's suggestion that he pretend to "prefer the company of men", as does the Earl of Doncaster. He does this by dressing up and acting Camp Gay. Later, his father sees him like this and greets him with "Morning, Doncaster!". Even the peasant whose wife he tries to marry tells his wife that Edmund isn't the Prince, he's the Earl of Doncaster.
- A bit of a meta-joke, as Brian Blessed is from Doncaster.
- At the start of the first episode, St. Ralph the Liar is mentioned as one of the greatest liars in history who are still outdone by Henry VII. Later in the same episode, it turns out that the battle takes place on Ralph the Liar's Day.
- Burn the Witch!: "Witchsmeller Pursuivant"
- Catch-Phrase: King Richard IV's "CHISWICK!! FRESH HORSES!!"
- Character Development: While still not quite the quick-witted Deadpan Snarker of series 2 onward, Prince Edmund appears a bit more savvy and sarcastic in the latter episodes of the series.
- Comically Missing the Point: On the eve of the Battle of Bosworth Hill.(the future) Richard IV: EDNA! FIGHT YOU WITH US ON THE MORROW?
Edmund: Oh, goodness me, no. No, I'll be fighting with the enemy!
Richard III: You're not putting him anywhere near me, are you?
- Carnival of Killers: The "six most evil men in England" in "The Black Seal".
- Dead Star Walking: Peter Cook as Richard III in the first episode.
- Downer Ending: It's not as crippling a Tear Jerker as the end of the fourth series, but the ending of the first series is still sad. Funny, but sad at the same time.
- Dramatic Unmask: Subverted in "The Black Seal", where an old and unkempt man Edmund has been travelling with transforms, apparently by magic, into a tall, striking nobleman with fine clothes and powerful-looking facial hair, asking if Edmund recognises him. Edmund does not. The man then reaches up and removes two fake-looking bushy eyebrows, revealing... two completely identical bushy eyebrows. Edmund immediately recognises him as Philip of Burgundy... The HAWK!
- The Dung Ages
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- To those familiar with the later series The Black Adder may seem a little odd. This include the different characterisation, the larger ensemble of characters, differences in the writing (Ben Elton replaced Rowan Atkinson as writer from Blackadder II onwards), as well as the significantly larger budget which allowed large sets, crowd scenes and location shooting. The later seasons would focus more on dialogue and characterisation. Other, minor differences include each episode having a Cold Open, usage of supernatural elements, and the characters frequently speaking in a pseudo-Shakespearian manner instead of the modern English used elsewhere. Also, this one had more of an ensemble cast. It's a bit of a shock to fans of later series to see that Tony Robinson is not actually mentioned in the opening credits but Baldrick was more of a supporting character here and it was only really from Blackadder II onwards that he was promoted to second lead.
- Subverted when the original pilot resurfaced. The original Edmund was the Deadpan Snarker we all know and love, and the original Baldrick (not portrayed by Tony Robinson) was a Bumbling Sidekick. Percy... is Percy.
- Evil Costume Switch: Edmund adopts his trademark black outfit once he decides to become the Black Adder.
- Evil vs. Evil: Edmund v The Witchsmeller Pursuivant and Edmund v Philip "The Hawk" of Burgundy.
- Eviler Than Thou: Edmund accidentally points out that "The Hawk" is more evil than him, prompting his cohorts to switch sides due to his impressive resume.
- Faux Yay: Blackadder attempts this in "The Queen of Spain's Beard".
- Felony Misdemeanor: In "The Archbishop", Baldrick shows off a range of priced curses signed by ecclesiastical figures, the cheapest of which reads "Dear Enemy, I curse you, and I hope something slightly unpleasant happens to you, like an onion falling on your head".
- Gag Penis: Edmund's comically-oversized "Black Russian" codpiece.
- Glad I Thought of It: Done by Edmund a couple of times in "The Foretelling".
- Groin Attack: Lord Yeovil in "The Foretelling": "Ah, yes, groin job!" (even though this obviously didn't actually happen).
- Historical In-Joke / Up to Eleven: In "The Archbishop", at one point Baldrick mentions a high-level exemption of sin paper is signed by "both Popes" — which at first seems like an Up to Eleven joke, but around this point in history there really were two Popes (in Rome and in Avignon) due to the Great Schism. Then a true example of Up to Eleven appears in the epilogue, in which the abbess mentions that another document is signed by "all three Popes!" (There was a brief period in history where there were three Popes, but not at the point the series was set).
- In "The Black Seal" Philip of Burgundy locks Prince Edmund in a jail cell with a bunch of snails, and Edmund is absolutely terrified for some reason. There are actually a number of medieval manuscripts that have knights battling snails illustrated in them. It's something of a mystery because no scholar is sure about what it means, whether symbolic, or a joke ("look at the silly knight battling something as harmless as a snail"), or perhaps just a medieval meme with no central origin.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Baldrick
- Immune to Drugs: Sean the Irish Bastard in "The Black Seal", it takes two shots of deadly poison to put him down."It's got a bit of a sting in its tail!"
- Kangaroo Court: Edmund's trial by the Witchsmeller Pursuivant is this Up to Eleven. Where to begin: Edmund's entire case is thrown out when the Witchsmeller convinces Prince Harry that they should ignore the testimony of a witch pleading for his life, Percy — who is defending Edmund — is accused of being a witch and is also ignored, and when Baldrick counters the Witchsmeller's assertion that carrots grow on trees, the Witchsmeller uses his knowledge of carrots to 'prove' Baldrick is a witch as well. He then produces a signed confession by a horse, an old woman Edmund has never met and an obvious poodle that he claims is Edmund's son. It is almost fitting to the ridiculousness of the situation that our heroes apparently escape with hitherto unused and never mentioned again magical powers of teleportation.
- The ending reveals that this was the work of the Queen, actually being a real witch.
- It is implied that the Witchsmeller Pursuivant was really a witch himself, as when he is killed the king recovers from his illness and everything goes back to normal (for them) — or possibly Edmund's mother, who likely ended the spell to keep Edmund from being thought guilty still.
- Large Ham: Frank Finlay as the Witchsmeller Pursuivant.
- Plus BRIAN BLESSED, as usual.
- Rik Mayall as Mad Gerald.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The Witchsmeller Pursuivant falsely accuses countless innocents of witchcraft and burns them alive. He ends up burned alive himself, thanks to actual witchcraft that he completely missed.
- Legion of Doom: For the end of the first series, Blackadder gathers "the six most evil men in all England!" And then they promptly betray him when they learn from Edmund just how much of a big villain The Hawk / Philip of Burgundy is.
- Literary Allusion Title: To The Black Arrow, an adventure novel by Robert Louis Stevenson also set in the Wars of the Roses.
- Magnificent Seven: Inverted in "The Black Seal" as Edmund gathers the six most evil men in England (plus himself) to take over the kingdom. And then they end up siding with Edmund's enemy, The Hawk / Philip of Burgundy.
- Major Injury Underreaction: The most expensive curse Baldrick has for sale ends with "may your head fall off at an inopportune moment".
- The Middle Ages: The setting of the first series. (See also The Late Middle Ages)
- Naughty Nuns: When he becomes Archbishop of Canterbury, Edmund is surprised to learn from Baldrick that part of his duties include selling the sexual favours of nuns. When he questions who would pay for such a thing, Baldrick casually explains "Well, foreign businessmen, other nuns..."
- Off with His Head!: In the first episode Edmund beheads Richard III, mistaking him for a horse thief.
- Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: A couple of drunken templars overhear the king talking to his wife saying how satisfied he is with the current Archbishop, and won't ever again have to say "will no one rid me of this Turbulent Priest?" Unfortunately they only hear that last part where he's quoting himself, so they go off to slay the Archbishop to get in the king's good graces.
- Out-of-Character Moment: In "The Archbishop", Edmund tries to avoid taking his latest job. Richard IV, whose usual target volume is "drown out nearby jet engines", very calmly and quietly tells Edmund that if he tries to weasel out of this, "I will do to you what God did to the sodomites". It's much more effective.
- Parental Favoritism: Richard IV is so comically biased in favor of his oldest son Harry that he usually doesnt remember that Edmund exists. When he DOES remember, he treats him like something he scraped off his boot, and makes no secret about what he thinks of his sniveling toad of a son.
- Pet the Dog: Edmund reading a bedtime story to his child wife at the end of "The Queen of Spain's Beard".
- Playing Gertrude: BRIAN BLESSED, of all people. Although 19 years older than Rowan Atkinson, Blessed was only 7 years older than Robert East who played his elder son Prince Harry. Elspet Gray playing the queen was a mere 14 years older than East.
- Poke the Poodle: The cheapest example of a curse sold by the Church in "The Archbishop" is "Dear enemy, I curse you, and I hope that something slightly unpleasant happens to you, like an onion falling on your head".
- Precision F-Strike: Edmund gives one to Baldrick when they're about to be burned at the stake in "The Witchsmeller Pursuivant". Though in some versions the swear is apparently censored by a cough.Baldrick: My Lord, I have a cunning plan.
Edmund: Oh, fuck off, Baldrick!
- Princeling Rivalry: A central theme in this series is Edmund constantly scheming to get out of the shadow of his more popular older brother, Harry, Prince of Wales, the heir to the throne of England, which is ridiculously one-sided since Harry doesn't get a single clue.
- Rearing Horse: During the credits of the first series, Edmund tries to pull off the pose, but falls off his saddle and the horse continues running forward without him.
- Retcon: What Henry VII did once he took power: erased all record of Richard IV's reign.
- Rhetorical Request Blunder: Richard IV was telling the story of Henry II accidentally ordering the murder of Thomas Becket to his wife to contrast the situation there with how happy he is with the current Archbishop, and a couple of Mooks overheard and decided to "help". The two of them sitting at opposite ends of a very long table contributed to the misunderstanding. He initially said "Never again will I have to say 'Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?'" (he had in fact had several of the previous archbishops murdered), but had to repeat the last bit.
- Robotic Torture Device: In the final episode, the Hawk straps Edmund into one of these, which ends up cutting off his ears, his hands, grinding into his crotch, trepanning his skull and tickling his armpits.
- Running Gag: The messenger boy mimicking Edmund's gestures.
- Shout-Out: Edmund's child bride in "The Queen of Spain's Beard" is called Princess Leia, and has a rather familiar hairstyle.
- Sinister Minister: Edmund himself in "The Archbishop", and Friar Bellows in "The Black Seal".
- Smug Snake: Prince Edmund, although his smugness tends to evaporate quickly when his schemes (inevitably) go wrong.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Toward the end of "The Queen of Spain's Beard".
- Stylistic Suck: The Death of the Scotsman, a play that Edmund has hurriedly edited to provide a role for MacAngus, leading to a Scottish protagonist in an Egyptian setting. It becomes extra terrible when Edmund himself crashes the proceedings to clumsily stab MacAngus with a fake dagger.Tutankhamen McPherson, you come not a whit too soon,
For is this not the weather fair, or this the Ides of June?
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Edmund, when asked by his father about Richard III's death.Edmund: Well...I wouldn't know, really...I was nowhere near him at the time...I just heard from someone that he'd, uh...uh...I mean, I don't even know where he was killed...I was completely on the opposite side of the field...I was nowhere near the cottage...not that there was a cottage...it was the river...but then I wouldn't know, of course, because I wasn't there...but, apparently, some fool cut his head off!...or, at least, killed him in some way...perhaps...took an ear off, or something...yes, in fact, I think he was only wounded...uh...or was that somebody else?...yes, I think it was...why, he wasn't even wounded!...why, did someone say he was dead?
- Time Skip: In "The Black Seal", Edmund is trapped in a dungeon with an insane old man who laughs maniacally after Edmund asks if there's a way out. We are shown a cue card reading "Twelve Months Later". And the man is still laughing.
- Title Drop: Parodied in the first episode when Edmund decides to take the name of The Black... Vegetable! Fortunately Baldrick suggests a better title for the series / his Lord.
- Translator Buddy: The Spanish Infanta's translator (Jim Broadbent), who provides a few cheap gags.
- First among them, his name, Don Speekingleesh.
- The Unfavorite: Edmund in comparison to his (far more virtuous) brother Harry.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Prince Harry somehow completely fails to notice that the Witchsmeller Pursuivant is on fire, until the flames cover about 100% of his body and his screaming has risen to a fairly loud volume.
- Video Inside, Film Outside
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: You horrid little man!
- Weird Currency: One opening scene in the first series claimed that "the egg replaced the worm as the lowest form of currency".
- While making plans to sell absolvments and curses, Baldrick mentions that the cheapest of each is "half an egg" and "a pebble" respectively.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Edmund is convinced he's a Magnificent Bastard pulling off brilliant plots, unaware he's an idiot who everyone treats as a joke.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Averted for the most part; while this occasionally tends to be seen on signs and other bits of writing, most dialogue is in modern-day English. However, the characters do often speak in a cod-Shakespearian manner, especially Richard III in the first episode.
- Absurdly Dedicated Worker: Parodied in the first episode when Blackadder fires Baldrick in favor of Bob.Edmund: Well, Bob, welcome on board. Sorry Baldrick, any reason why you are still here?
Baldrick: Euh .. I've got nowhere to go, my lord.
Edmund: O surely you will be allowed to starve to death in one of the royal parks.
Baldrick: I've been in your service since I was two and a half, my lord.
Edmund: Well that is the why I am so utterly sick of the sight of you.
Baldrick: Couldn't I just stay here and do the same job but for no wages?
Edmund: Well, you know where you will have to live.
Baldrick: In the gutter.
Edmund: Yes. And you'll have to work a bit harder too.
Baldrick: Of course, my lord.
Edmund: All right. Go and get Bob's stuff in and chuck your filthy muck out into the street.
Baldrick: God bless you, sweet master!
- Admiring the Abomination: The Bishop of Bath and Wells, after learning the sordid details of Edmund's frame-up job."Never have I encountered such corrupt and foul-minded perversity! Have you ever considered a career in the church?"
- Alcohol Hic: Pretty much everyone ends up drunk in "Beer" — including the Balladeer, who hiccups during his song at the end.
- All Devouring Black Hole Loan Sharks: The bank of the Black Monks of Saint Herod: "Banking with a smile and a stab".
- Anything That Moves: The baby-eating bishop of Bath and Wells will "do anything to anything": animal, vegetable, even mineral.
- Lord Flashheart isn't exactly selective.Flashheart: [to Baldrick] Thanks, bridesmaid, like the beard! Gives me something to hang on to!Flashheart: Nursie! I like it! Firm and fruity! Am I pleased to see you, or did I just put a canoe in my pocket! Down, boy, down!
- Lord Flashheart isn't exactly selective.
- Artistic License – History: In "Head", Nursie mentions how she put ointment on Queenie's sister after her head was cut off. Except that would have been Mary I of England, who was not beheaded, but died of natural causes. The one who was beheaded was her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots. However, it's very possible that Nursie just got the two mixed up, especially since Ludwig correctly says in "Chains" that it was Mary, Queen of Scots who lost her head.
- Audience Murmurs: Parodied in "Potato". Everyone on the ship is panicking / arguing except Tom Baker, who is clearly saying "Rhubarb!" over and over again.
- Ax-Crazy: Queenie enjoys beheading everyone and anyone for the slimmest of reasons. She just has other people do the beheading for her.
- Bait-and-Switch: Repeatedly throughout "Bells," with Edmund implying he'd love for Percy to be his best man only to supply another name at the last minute; Queenie isn't having any of that, with her screeching at Edmund until he actually puts the offer on the table for Percy.
- Raleigh does one in "Potato":Sir Walter: To my mind, there is only one seafarer with few enough marbles to attempt that journey.Edmund: Ah yes, and who is that?Sir Walter: Why, Rum, of course. Captain Redbeard Rum.Edmund: Well done. Just testing. And where would I find him on a Tuesday?Sir Walter: Well, if I remember his habits, he's usually up the Old Sea Dog.Edmund: Ah yes, and where is the Old Sea Dog?Sir Walter: Well, on Tuesdays he's normally in bed with the Captain.
- Raleigh does one in "Potato":
- Bawdy Song: Several examples in "Beer", all of which are also Drunken Songs.See the little goblin
See his little feet
And his little nosey-wose
Isn't the goblin sweet?
- Bestiality Is Depraved / Noodle IncidentLord Melchett, Lord Melchett — intelligent and deep.
Lord Melchett, Lord Melchett — a shame about the sheep!
- Bold Explorer: In "Potato", the bold explorer Sir Walter Raleigh returns in triumph to England, which makes Blackadder jealous, so when Sir Walter says that even he wouldn't attempt to sail around the Cape of Good Hope, Blackadder tells the court that he's going to do just that. Of course, Blackadder isn't actually bold; his plan is to sail to France and hide out, then return and claim to have sailed around the Cape. Unfortunately, the ship captain he picked for his expedition isn't capable of making it even as far as France — they wind up in Australia, returning with a boomerang for the Queen.
- Buffy Speak
- Notably in "Beer":Lord Melchett: [in regards to Edmund's constant leaving-and-entering] You twist and turn like a... twisty-turny thing!
- In "Money", Edmund (usually a master of similes) says: "The grave opens up before me like a... big hole in the ground." He is very depressed at the time.
- Notably in "Beer":
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Edmund, in "Beer"Blackadder couldn't hold his beer;
The art of boozing he has not mastered.
- Chased Off into the Sunset: A Couch Gag during the Closing Credits shows the minstrel singing the theme song irritating Blackadder, Blackadder chasing him, and finally catching and drowning him.
- Chew Toy: Baldrick obviously, but also Percy, which is a bit of a Woobie since he is sincerely a good friend of exceptional loyalty. Everyone (especially Edmund) is this to Queenie, too.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Nursie. Queenie, too, and also Percy to a certain extent.
- Comically Missing the Point: In Bells, Blackadder decides he doesn't want his father-in-law-to-be at his wedding and pays him a bribe to leave the venue. When his fiance Kate gets upset at this, he reassures her that he'll get Baldrick to beat him up after the wedding and they'll get the money back.
- Couch Gag: Three per episode: In the opening credits, the episode title is accompanied by the object to which it refers. In the closing credits, the theme song has different lyrics and the minstrel accosts Edmund in different ways, although the last one ("Chains") has Edmund finally catch the bugger and drown him.
- Curse Cut Short: In "Beer":Lady Whiteadder: Luck! Sounds almost exactly like f— [episode ends]
- Despair Speech: A very short one, which is also a Shout-Out to Richard II:Percy: Then you are doomed. Alas. For God's sake, let us sit upon the carpet and tell sad stories.
- Dry Crusader: The Whiteadders are strictly opposed to alcohol — at least until the end of the episode.
- Eats Babies: The Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Nursie. Since her real name is Bernard, it's understandable.
- Everyone Is Satan in Hell: The Whiteadders are this trope, in its in-universe form. They may be getting better, now that Lord Whiteadder has broken his vow of silence and they've both discovered the joys of being drunk.
- Evil vs. Evil: Edmund v Prince Ludwig the Indestructible.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: a classic example.Percy: Wait a minute. That's not Farrow, that's Ponsonby.
Blackadder: By Jove, we're saved. Baldrick cut off the wrong head and Lord Farrow is alive and we're saved. And when the queen comes back from her meeting with Ponsonby... OH GOD!
- Expy: The greatest painter in London, bearded, self-described genius, Leonardo Acropolis. Blackadder hires him to paint some porn.
- Felony Misdemeanor: In "Head", Blackadder has accidentally had Lord Farrow executed (or so he thinks) before his wife is supposed to meet him one last time, so is forced to impersonate him by putting a bag over his head. In a meeting with Lady Farrow beforehand, he tries to prepare her for this by saying her husband has 'changed', which she takes to mean he's been tortured:Lady Farrow: What have you done to him?!
Blackadder: We have put... [Dramatic Pause] ...a bag over his head!
- Fiery Redhead: Queenie.
- Framing the Guilty Party: The Bishop of Bath and Wells already has an appointment with Molly the Inexpensive Prostitute and freely admits that he is a colossal pervert who will do anything to anything, "animal, vegetable, or mineral," but his flock is none the wiser. So Blackadder drugs him and has him painted in a rather lewd position with poor, poor Percy, then uses it as blackmail to get out of his loan."And it's so beautifully framed... which is funny, because that's what you've just been."
- Freudian Excuse: Prince Ludwig wants to Take Over the World because he was bullied at school.
- Freudian Slippery Slope: Blackadder greeting his wealthy aunt and uncle in "Beer" (though it's likely he was doing it on purpose to less-than-subtly drop hints that he wanted to discuss his inheritance):"Well, I hope you had a pleasant inheritance...Did I say 'inheritance'? I meant journey... If you'd just like to help yourself to a legacy... a chair."
- Friendship Moment: Hilariously subverted in "Money": Percy loyally offers his life savings to get Blackadder out of debt, only to have Blackadder casually reveal that he has long since stolen and spent the savings in question. And even BALDRICK was in on it.
- The Fundamentalist: Lord and Lady Whiteadder, Edmund's Puritan relatives.
- Gender-Blender Name: Besides Kate, whose name is short for Bob, there's also Nursie and her sisters, with names like Bernard and Basil.
- Gilligan Cut: Well, Gilligan's Doorway, at least. In "Chains" Edmund remarks to the Queen how only an idiot would allow himself to get distracted by a foreigner asking a question, be knocked on the head, and abducted for ransom. Naturally, this exact sequence of events occurs when Edmund leaves her throne room.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Blackadder II features Queen Elizabeth I as a petulant schoolgirl — a petulant schoolgirl with power of life and death over the whole of the Kingdom of England. Oddly enough, this portrayal actually seems much more in line with her half-sister Mary I, who was rather free with ordering executions. Not for nothing was she nicknamed Bloody Mary. Then again, fobbing off her worst flaws on a hated relative sounds entirely in-character for Queenie...
- Groin Attack:
- Twice in "Bells": Blackadder kicks Percy down there, and shortly afterwards, Percy shoots Baldrick with an arrow.
- Also part of the plan Blackadder and Melchett use to escape their German captors in "Chains."Blackadder: Trust me to get the hard one!
- Have You Come to Gloat?: In "Head", the gang finds out that Lord Farrow (whom Edmund is trying to impersonate) was missing an arm. He sends Percy to speak with Lady Farrow and find out which arm, but the only idea Percy can come up with is a Something Only They Would Say test to prove that she's not just a "gloater" pretending to be a relative so she can mock the condemned man.Blackadder: "Gloaters"...you really are a prat, aren't you Percy?
- Hello, Sailor!: The episode "Potato" is full of jokes about gay sailors, because it revolves around explorers and sea voyages. In "Money," Baldrick winds up being pimped out to sailors down at the docks.
- Henpecked Husband: Lord Whiteadder appears to be this, considering that he has to sit on a spike instead of a chair — and Lady Whiteadder in turn sits on him — and seems to approve of things that his wife considers the work of Satan. One can imagine that he took his vow of silence just to give his wife fewer excuses to slap him around.
- Implausible Deniability: While attempting to hold a drinking party and a dinner for his extremely Puritan relatives on the same night in the same house, one of Edmund's drunken revelers bursts into the same room as Lord and Lady Whiteadder and declares "Great booze-up, Edmund!" Edmund attempts to paper over this by claiming that the drunk was actually a missionary sent to deal with a narcoleptic tribesman named "the Great Boo"...
- Incoming Ham:
- The opening of "Money":Edmund: [to Baldrick, who has just been kicked through a door] Yes, Baldrick, what is it now?
Baldrick: It's that priest, he says he still wants to see you.
Blackadder: And did you mention the baby-eating Bishop of Bath and Wells?
Baldrick: Yes, my Lord.
Blackadder: And what did he say?
Bishop: [from offscreen] He said "I AM the baby-eating Bishop of Bath and Wells!"
- Lord Flashheart's entrance to Blackadder's wedding, where he sets off a bomb, swings in, takes the bride, chucks another bomb and promptly leaves.
- The opening of "Money":
- In My Language, That Sounds Like...: Edmund falls prey to the English-Spanish "embarrassed is tener vergüenza but embarazada means pregnant" while under interrogation by the Spanish Inquisition torturer in "Chains".
- Insult Backfire: In "Beer", two incidents involving Lady Whiteadder:Lady Whiteadder: Has anyone ever told you you're a giggling imbecile?
Lord Percy Percy: [completely nonchalant] Oh yes.
Lady Whiteadder: ... good.
- Insult MisfireEdmund: Oh, shove off you old trout.
Lady Whiteadder: How dare you speak to my husband like that!
- Jumping the Gender Barrier: Edmund with Bob.
- Karma Houdini: Prince Ludwig gets away with at least two counts of Rape By Deception, kidnapping Edumnd and Melchett for ransom, killing the entire main cast and overthrowing the British throne.
- Lame Comeback: "Better a 'lapdog to a slip of a girl' than a... git!" Ironically, the sailor is actually impressed by this.
- Large Ham: The bishop of Bath and Wells.
- Laughing at Your Own Jokes: in the episode "Beer", one of Edmund's drinking buddies constantly cracks himself up by repeating things that "sound a bit rude." Sample:Edmund: Well, well, get stuck in, boys.
Partridge: 'Stuck in'! Way-hey! Get it?
Partridge: Well, it sounds a bit rude, doesn't it! 'Stuck in!'
- Love at First Sight: Blackadder and Bob are smitten with each other the instant she walks in the door.
- Mathematician's Answer: From the opening of "Head," when Edmund is trying to teach Baldrick how to count:Edmund: Now, let's say I have two beans. If I add two more beans to those, what do I have?
Baldrick: Some beans.
Edmund: ... yes... and no.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: In "Bells", the Wise Woman's three solutions to Blackadder's problem are 1) Kill Bob, 2) Kill yourself, or 3) KILL EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WHOLE WORLD!
- Name's the Same: Referenced in-universe. Mr Ploppy and Mistress Ploppy are not married or related in any way, but have the same name by pure coincidence. Baldrick then offers to change his name to Ploppy "if it'll make things easier" on Edmund. For the rest of the episode, Mr. Ploppy refers to Baldrick as "Young Ploppy". And of course, Ploppy's father Daddy Ploppy, AKA "Ploppy the Slopper".
- Never Live It Down: In-universe, when Blackadder discovers Melchett slept with Prince Ludwig, who was disguised as a Sheep.Blackadder: Baa!
- No Indoor Voice: Flashheart, Captain Rum and the Bishop of Bath and Wells.
- Noodle Implements: Averted with Blackadder's plan to get out of debt in "Money":Blackadder: All I need is some feathers, a dress, some oil, an easel, some sleeping draught, lots of paper, a prostitute and the best portrait painter in England!
- Turns out he drugged the Bishop, put him in a compromising position, painted the scene, and used it to blackmail the Bishop.
- Noodle Incident: In Potato it is revealed a horse was elected Pope. The details of this vibrant, dynamic and exciting Papacy has sadly been lost to history. (Of course, this is coming from Baldrick, who may not be a reliable source.)
- Not An Act: Blackadder has had a man executed prematurely without anyone knowing, but the man's wife begs the queen for one last meeting. Blackadder is forced to impersonate him lest he get the chop, and does so with a bag over his head, insisting on Baldrick only allowing them two minutes. Blackadder manages to impersonate the husband to the point where she starts to go down on him, which of course is the moment an unusually-competent Baldrick comes in to declare that their time's up. Blackadder's "No it isn't" is entirely heartfelt.
- Off with His Head!: Standard procedure for traitors, heretics, and anyone who mildly annoys the Queen—she frequently threatens to behead her courtiers. The episode "Head" has Blackadder serving as Lord High Executioner, and he jams as many beheadings as he can at the start and the end of the week to have Wednesday off.
- Oh, Crap!: Twice from Edmund in "Head," first when Queenie decides to visit a man Blackadder had executed ("if she sees his head on a pike, she'll realize... he's deeeeaaaaad!") and shortly after when we learn that Baldrick actually had another man killed, whom Queenie then wants to see ("when she comes back from seeing him... oh, God!").
- One-Note Cook: Mrs Ploppy, in "Head".Mrs Ploppy: I'm the last meal cook, sir. The prisoners may ask me for what they fancy for their last meal.
Blackadder: And you cook for them what they desire.
Mrs. Ploppy: Oh, yes, sir. Provided they ask for sausages. Otherwise, they tend to get a tiny bit disappointed. Sausage is all I got.
- Only Sane Man: Along with Blackadder, Melchett also tends to steer towards this, obviously humouring Queenie throughout the series. He's still considerably more loopy, however, especially once we learn about a past affair involving a sheep... that wasn't quite as it seemed.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Queenie's.
- Plot Hole: In "Head", after Farrow's execution, Percy describes him as a tall man with a loud, clear voice, which we later learn is a more-or-less accurate description of Lord Farrow. However, it's later revealed that the man who was executed wasn't Farrow, but Ponsonby, who is a small man with one leg and a speech impediment. Percy couldn't possibly have seen the man he described at the execution.
- Psychopathic Womanchild: Queenie
- Retool: The first series with the clever Blackadder and the stupid Baldrick. Percy remains just the same.
- The Rival: Lord Melchet is Blackadder's r
- Royal Brat: Queenie.
- Running Gag: Nursie going on about anecdotes in Queenie's childhood (usually embarrassing ones about being toilet trained) before being told to shut up.
- Sadistic Choice: Prince Ludwig in "Chains" offers Queenie one of these, forcing her to pay a vast sum on the last ransom she'll ever make to free either Edmund or Melchett. She chooses a costume party.
- Shaped Like Itself:
- When Blackadder asks the Young Crone how to find the Wise Woman in "Bells":
- Again in "Money," when Percy attempts to use alchemy to create gold but ends up with a lump of green something. Quote the Blackadder: "I don't to be pedantic or anything, but the colour of gold... is gold. That's why it's called gold."
- Another in "Potato" is when Percy announces that Mrs. Miggins is going to bake a commemorative pie in the shape of an enormous pie.
- In "Bells", Blackadder says "Come, Kiss Me Kate!"
- Also, in "Bells", it seems like giving Nursie the real name "Bernard" is to set up the joke "Oh, shut up, Bernard," which everyone at the time of airing (1986) would have recognized as a reference to Yes, Minister.
- The snake crawling across the table in the opening credits, apart from being a Visual Pun on "Blackadder", may also be a parody of I, Claudius's opening titles.
- Sinister Minister: The Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells.
- Smoking Hot Sex: In "Bells", after "Bob" reveals her actual gender by flashing her boobs at Edmund, we jump ahead to two minutes later...and they're sitting together smoking old-time churchwarden pipes.
- Speech Impediment: Partial meta example — Rowan Atkinson has a stutter, especially having trouble with words that begin with hard consonants such as "Bob". This gives us his wonderful plosive pronunciation of "Bobb".
- Spoof Aesop: The closing ballads occasionally fall into this category with such valuable pieces of advice as 'Don't borrow money from a homicidal omnisexual bishop' and 'Don't try and take over the throne of England'.
- Spotting the Thread: When Prince Ludwig, something of a master of disguise, tries to infiltrate Queen Elizabeth's dress party disguised as Nursie dressed as a cow. He is found out because his costume is too good; Nursie has some... interesting interpretations of how a cow should look.
- To quote: "Prince Ludwig is a master of disguise, while Nursie is an insane old woman with an udder fixation."
- The Stinger: The final episode of the season reveals that Prince Ludwig had disguised himself as the Queen to Kill 'em All and usurp her place.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: "Bob"
- Sweet on Polly Oliver: Edmund towards "Bob".
- Take That!: Blackadder discovers Australia; no one cares. Even the minstrel singing during the end credits says he discovered "bugger all". (And after the first series was partly funded by Australians...)
- "Chains" features a lot of broad stereotyping of Edmund's German and Spanish captors and how they "inconweenience" him.
- Tap on the Head: "Chains" begins with a rash of kidnappings that all have some German fellow saying "excuse me, meister" so that his partner can hit the victim over the head.
- Two-Timer Date: Blackadder's attempt to hold simultaneous parties in "Beer".
- What Happened to the Mouse?: It is later revealed that Baldrick has executed Ponsonby in place of Farrow, so Edmund must then impersonate Ponsonby with.... a bag on his head. And a lisp. Hopping. So, when Edmund was impersonating the actually-alive Farrow, where was he if not in his cell?
- If they thought Farrow was Ponsonby and vice versa, presumably at the time, Farrow was in Ponsonby's cell.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Flashheart, depending on your definition of 'wholesome'.
- Worldof Pun: This season forward, really.Baldrick: Will you be wanting me to cut anything off? An arm or a leg?
Blackadder: Oh, good lord no — a little prick should do.
Baldrick: Oh well my lord, I am your bondsman and must obey. [stabs at crotch]
Blackadder: Oh for god's sake, Baldric, I meant a little prick on your finger.
Baldrick: I haven't got one there.
- All Just a Dream: Blackadder wakes up to find that Dr. Johnson is about to arrive and find out his dictionary has been burned. Then Dr. Johnson comes in an announces that he didn't like the dictionary after all and that he is glad to find out it has been destroyed. Things start getting surreal when Blackadder's aunt appears out of nowhere and Baldrick starts wearing a dog mask, until Blackadder realises that "It's all a bloody dream!" Cut to Blackadder waking up and finding out that Dr. Johnson is still arriving and the dictionary has still been burned.
- All Part of the Show: Prince George believes that an anarchist throwing a bomb at him is part of a play. Then again, he usually thinks the events on stage are real and regularly orders actors arrested for murder.
- Anachronism Stew: The series is set in the Regency era (1811–1820) yet features William Pitt The Younger who died in 1806 (and was actually 24 when he was elected); Samuel Johnson finishing his dictionary, which happened in 1755; the French Revolution (1790s); planning the Battle of Trafalgar, which was in 1805; and ending slavery as a radical idea even though it was done in England itself (but not the rest of the empire) in 1772.
- Also the pervasiveness of powdered wigs; Pitt had actually instituted a tax on them in the 1780s that combined with a few other factors to kill the fashion. Portraits of George IV actually stand out for his clearly displayed short, brown curly hair (which was a main dandy fashion of the Era).
- And a more obvious example: Dr. Samuel Johnson refers to Edmund's Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue" book Edmund: A Butler's Tale as a "huge rollercoaster of a novel".
- Antidisestablishmentarianism: Blackadder tells the Prince Regent he'll be back before the Prince can say it. Naturally he's right.
- As Himself: Vincent Hanna, who was at the time a political correspondent at the BBC, appears as a fictionalised version of himself, presenting the coverage of the Dunny-on-the-Wold by-election. He is credited "as his own great-great grandfather".
- Atomic D-Bomb: When Edmund finds out that Baldrick was made a Lord at the Prince Regent's request, after Edmund strongly suggested himself for that honour.Mr. Blackadder: Sir, might I let loose a short, violent exclamation?
The Prince Regent: Certainly.
Mr. Blackadder: DAAAAAAAMN! Thank you, sir.
- Bawdy Song:Harold the horny hunter
Had an enormous horn...
- Beleaguered Assistant: Blackadder, as the Prince Regent's butler.
- Big "NO!": In "Ink And Incapability", they didn't burn the dictionary as they thought. They burnt Blackadder's book, a novel that would have made him a millionaire. When Baldrick reveals this, Blackadder excuses himself and lets out one of these.Blackadder: [from outside] OH, GOD, NO!
- Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: In "Sense and Senility".
- Book Safe: The title sequence has Blackadder pursuing books in a library, finally retrieving a legal volume that turns out to contain a paperback Romance Novel within. (In each episode it's a different book bearing the title of that particular episode.)
- Bottomless Magazines: Amy's flintlock pistol never seems to need reloading in "Amy and Amiability".
- Buffy Speak:
- Blackadder: "Disease and depravation stalk our land like... two giant... stalking things." Also: "We're about as similar as two completely dis-similar things in a pod."
- In "Ink And Incapability", Baldrick describes the dictionary as "the big papery thing tied up with string" and Dr. Johnson as "the batey fellow in the black coat who just left". Blackadder follows up with saying that "the booted bony thing with five toes on the end of my leg will soon connect sharply with the soft dangly collection of objects in your trousers!"
- The Cameo: Vincent Hanna, a reporter known for his coverage of by-elections, appears as his own ancestor, covering a by-election.
- Captain Morgan Pose: The actors teach The Prince Regent to do a pose while they are training him in public speaking, though he fails utterly.
- The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: The returning officer and lone voter in Dunny-on-the-Wold apparently died, respectively, from accidentally brutally cutting his head off while combing his hair, and accidentally brutally stabbing himself in the stomach while shaving.
- Couch Gag: The book Edmund finds in the opening sequence differs each episode, with the cover having the episode's title and an illustration pertaining to it as well.
- Creator Cameo: The anarchist who attempts to assassinate Prince George in "Sense and Senility" is played by series co-writer Ben Elton.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "Baldrick, believe me. Eternity in the company of Beelzebub, and all his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me... and this pencil... if we cannot replace this dictionary."
- Death by Sex: Prince George in "Duel and Duality", despite Blackadder's best efforts to prevent it.
- Disguised in Drag: In "Nob and Nobility", the Scarlet Pimpernel disguises himself as Madame Guillotine to rescue Edmund and Baldrick from the French embassy. It ends badly for him, as Edmund poisons him before he can reveal his identity.
- Dope Slap: The Duke of Wellington (Stephen Fry) does this incessantly to George (having switched roles with Blackadder to escape the Duke's wrath).
- Dramatic Drop: Blackadder thinks he's been found out and drops a tray he's carrying. When it turns out he hasn't been discovered, the tray zips back up.
- Dream Sequence: In "Ink and Incapability"Blackadder: Baldrick, who gave you permission to turn into an Alsatian?!
- Dude, Not Ironic:Blackadder: Baldrick, have you no idea what irony is?
Baldrick: Yes, it's like goldy and bronzy only it's made out of iron.
- Duel to the Death: "Duel and Duality" is a convoluted attempt to prevent the Prince from having to fight one with Wellington after he slept with Wellington's nieces.
- Election Day Episode: "Dish and Dishonesty" is about a by-election in an obscure rotten borough that Blackadder and the Prince Regent have managed to gain control of, putting forward Baldrick as their candidate as someone who can be relied on to vote as the Prince desires. The sole voter in the borough is one E. Blackadder, following the unfortunate accidental beheading of the previous voter.
- Election Night: "Dish and Dishonesty" features one of the definitive parodies of TV election coverage.
- Mr. Fanservice: Hugh Laurie in make-up and tights has been known to make a lot of straight women (and a few lesbians) perk up.
- Face Palm: Blackadder, when Lord Topper reveals his disguise.
- Fictional Political Party: Going hand-in-hand with the Election Night trope (above), the episode "Dish and Dishonesty" uses these, too, in its parody of British election conventions. After the constituent of rotten borough Dunny-on-the-Wold (consisting of nothing more than a tiny plot of land, many farm animals and only one voter) suddenly died, Prince Regent and Blackadder decide to run Baldrick as their own candidate and tip Parliament in their favor. Baldrick runs on behalf of the "Adder Party", a name which becomes much more appropriate when it turns out that Blackadder was both the borough's Returning Officer and lone voter after both died in freak "accidents". Other fictitious parties on the ballot included "Keep Royalty White, Rat Catching and Safe Sewage Residents' Party" and the "Standing at the Back Dressed Stupidly and Looking Stupid Party" (whose party line stands for "the compulsory serving of asparagus at breakfast, free corsets for the under-fives and the abolition of slavery" — though the last one was just put in as a joke).
- The last two are a Shout-Out to two real minor perennial candidates at British elections at the time the show was broadcast — Bill Boaks, who usually stood as something like "Democratic Monarchist Road Safety White Resident", and Screaming Lord Sutch of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party (which, in their heyday of the 70s and 80s, proposed ludicrous policies. By the 2010s, a couple of them had actually been proposed and enacted by the government — much like the reference to the abolition of slavery was implied to be).
- Foreshadowing: Amy Hardwood comes to Blackadder's attention by spending lots of money, but then it turns out her family's stone broke. Where did all that cash come from?
- Gender-Blender Name: Blackadder's cousin MacAdder named his daughter Angus.
- Groin Attack: Blackadder tells Baldrick that if he doesn't tell him where the dictionary is, he will give him one of these, using Buffy Speak.
- Have a Gay Old Time: When Blackadder suggests the Prince marry to get more money, he objects, starting by saying he's "a gay bachelor".
- A slightly more subtle one: Prince George wishes to "patronize" Samuel Johnson's dictionary. Indeed, when he realises it's not a work of fiction, he isn't very impressed.
- Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue":
- Blackadder's novel Edmund: A Butler's Tale sounds like this, based on what he tells Baldrick about it.
- Baldrick's novel (or "Magnificent Octopus") also has elements of this: "Once upon a time there was a lovely little sausage called Baldrick, who lived happily ever after."
- Hope Spot: In "Ink and Incapability", when Samuel Johnson tells Edmund that he wasn't happy with the dictionary and is glad that it was destroyed. Shame it's All Just a Dream.
- Human-Interest Story: Made fun of in "Dish and Dishonesty" as Blackadder reveals to Prince George of bad news he saw in the morning papers.Blackadder: Sir, if I may return to this urgent matter, I read fearful news in this morning's paper.
Prince George: Oh no. Not another little cat caught up in a tree!
- Identical Grandson: In addition to the previously mentioned usage, this series features Blackadder's Scottish cousin MacAdder, played by Atkinson in a curly red wig, a kilt and a deliberately bad accent and Vincent Hanna playing "his own great great great grandfather".
- I'm a Humanitarian: Seems implied by the French revolutionary in "Nob and Nobility", who mentions that he murdered the previous ambassador and turned him into pâté.
- Informed Attribute: Done deliberately — Blackadder and Baldrick both reference Prince George's disgusting obesity — as the historical figure indeed was — even though he's played by the lanky Hugh Laurie.
- Inter-Class Romance: From the episode "Amy and Amiability":Hardwood: Can it be possibly true? Surely love has never crossed such boundaries of class? [clutches Amy's hand]
Amy: But what about you and Mum?
Hardwood: Well, yes I grant thee when I first met her I was the farmer's son and she was just the lass who ate the dung, but that was an exception.
Amy: And Aunty Dot and Uncle Ted.
Hardwood: Yes, yes; all right, he was a pig poker and she was the Duchess of Argyle, but—
Amy: And Aunty Ruth and Uncle Isiah; she was a milkmaid and he was—
Hardwood: The Pope! Yes, yes, all right.
- It Will Never Catch On: The abolition of slavery.
- It's Not Porn, It's Art: Keanrick and Mossop's play—The Bloody Murder of the Foul Prince Romero and His Enormously-Bosomed Wife.Blackadder: A philosophical work, then.
Mossop: Indeed yes, sir. The violence of the murder and the vastness of the bosom are entirely justified, artistically.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
- During the episode 'Duel and Duality'.Blackadder: I want to be remembered when I'm dead. I want books written about me. I want songs sung about me. And then, hundreds of years from now, I want episodes of my life to be played out weekly at half past nine by some great heroic actor of the age.
Baldrick: Yeah, and I could be played by some tiny tit in a beard.
- And in 'Amy and Amiability':
- During the episode 'Duel and Duality'.
- Legacy of Service: The Baldricks to the Blackadders.
- Life's Work Ruined: Double Subverted in "Ink and Incapability" in a very odd way. It turns out that Dr Johnson's dictionary was never burned at all, despite what Blackadder and Baldrick spent most of the episode believing; the book that was burned was in fact Blackadder's novel, which both he and Johnson thought was a masterpiece. The dictionary then gets burned by Baldrick while he's making a fire.
- Luvvies: Actors Keanrick and Mossop act this way. Apart from calling each other 'dear' and 'love' they're also incredibly pompous and are more interested in patronage, self-promotion, and the rather hideous play they wrote.
- Majored in Western Hypocrisy: The Great Khan of Mongolia and the Duke of Wellington were at Eton together (much to the chagrin of the Prince Regent, who had intended to attempt to escape the Duke's wrath there. Mongolia, not Eton.)
- Magnum Opus: In "Ink and Incapability," Blackadder spends seven years writing Edmund: A Butler's Tale, "a giant rollercoaster of a novel in four hundred sizzling chapters, a searing indictment of domestic servitude in the eighteenth century, with some hot gypsies thrown in," and describes it as his magnum opus. (Followed immediately by a parody in which Baldrick produces his "magnificent octopus": "Once upon a time, there was a lovely little sausage called Baldrick, and he lived happily ever after." Baldrick doesn't like long books, y'see.) And Samuel Johnson agrees that Blackadder's book is a masterpiece, pronouncing it the only book superior to his dictionary. A pity he's the only person besides Blackadder who ever gets to read it before a misunderstanding leads Baldrick to throw it on the fire...
- Mugging the Monster: For the actors in "Sense and Senility", it turns out that bullying and patronising the butler of the Prince Regent's household — who, as it turns out, is more than capable of convincing the incredibly credulous Prince Regent that they're anarchists and traitors seeking to murder him — was a spectacularly bad idea.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: France's most vicious woman, Madame Guillotine.
- Neologizer: Blackadder becomes one for a short while in order to confuse Doctor Johnson, who is boasting about having written the first English dictionary and that he has taken care to include every English word.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: A fatal example of this occurs in the last episode, when Prince George screws up Blackadder's plan to save his life by blabbing about the whole thing in front of the Duke of Wellington, who intended to kill him. Wellington doesn't actually believe him, but gets so pissed off at the fact that the Prince, who is disguised as Blackadder and vice-versa is acting disrespectfully to his "master" that he whips out his pistol and shoots him dead.
- Also in "Nob and Nobility", where Edmund accidentally fatally poisons the disguised Scarlet Pimpernel, who has come to rescue him and Baldrick.
- Nobility Marries Money: The episode "Amy and Amiability" was headed in this direction. Prince George, who has been accumulating huge gambling debts, attempted to marry the daughter of a wealthy industrialist for her money.
- No Indoor Voice: The Duke of Wellington. Because THERE'S ONLY ONE WAY TO WIN A CAMPAIGN—SHOUT, SHOUT, AND SHOUT AGAIN!
- "No. Just... No" Reaction: Not exactly, but it's the sentiment when George worries about being "radished" at the Naughty Hellfire Club for non-payment of debts. They take a large radish and shove it up—Blackadder interrupts at this point and mutters "there's no need to hammer it home."George: As a matter of fact, they do often—
Blackadder: [angrily] No, NO!
- Not Quite Dead: Turns out George has a cigarillo case just where he was shot. Unfortunately, he left it at the dresser.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Amy Hardwood, who pretends to be an airheaded and child-like woman, but is actually a ruthless highwayman.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Blackadder when Baldrick appears to have burnt the dictionary.
- Blackadder at the end of "Nob and Nobility" when Frou Frou is revealed as Topper in disguise.
- Omnicidal Maniac: MacAdder.
- Out-of-Character Moment: Baldrick's poem about Prince George is unusually witty for the Baldrick of the third season.
Baldrick: Yes, but my cousin also says that portraits nowadays are painted to a romanticised ideal rather than the idiosyncratic features of the subject in question.
- Also this snippet:
Blackadder: Then your cousin clearly has a much larger vocabulary than you.
Blackadder: Go out into the street and hire me a horse.
- One more:
Baldrick: Hire you a horse? For ninepence? On Jewish New Year in the rain? A bare fortnight after the dreaded horse plague of Old London Town? With the blacksmiths' strike in its fifteenth week and the Dorset horse fetishists' fair tomorrow?
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: Contrafribularites, anispeptic, frasmotic, compunctuous and pericombobulation.
- Plus interphrastically, pendigestatery, interludicule, velocitous, and extramuralization.
- Sausage? SAUSAGE!.
- Oh, and aardvark.
- Phony Newscast: Vincent Hanna (a BBC election correspondent at the time of filming) appears as "his own great-great-grandfather", reporting on the Dunny-on-the-Wold by-election for The Country Gentleman's Pig Fertilizer Gazette. This is treated exactly as a TV broadcast (although he is broadcasting out of the window to the crowd), even though it's set in the 18th century.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: One plot in 'Dish and Dishonesty' revolves around Edmund getting the Member of Parliament with the worst attendance record — Sir Talbot Buxomley, MP for Dunny-on-the-Wold — to turn up to work and vote in the Prince Regent's (read: Edmund's) favour. Edmund recalls that the one time Sir Talbot did manage to attend the House of Commons "He passed water in The Great Hall and passed out in the Speaker's chair." note
- Playing Cyrano: Blackadder acts as this to Prince George in "Amy and Amiability", although he thinks she's disgustingly twee until he finds out she's the Shadow.
- Pocket Protector: Parodied in "Duel and Duality," in which a cigarillo case stops a cannonball.
- And parodied again when shortly afterwards Prince George also gets shot, seems to die, wakes up shouting he also has one... then realizes he left his on the dresser. THEN he dies.
- Record Needle Scratch: The end of "Duel and Duality".
- Regency England: With some Artistic License taken (inaccuracies are detailed in the DVD extras).
- Revenge of the Sequel: Anachronistically suggested to tease Dr Johnson: Dictionary 2: The Return of the Killer Dictionaries.
- Rewind Gag: Blackadder thinks he's been found out and drops a tray he's carrying. When it turns out he hasn't been discovered, the tray zips back up.
- Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Lord Topper and Lord Smedley — The Scarlet Pimpernel.
- Right Behind Me: In "Sense and Senility", Blackadder has finally had enough of the Prince's stupidity and leaves (with, of course, a parting insult for Baldrick). After he walks out Baldrick mutters "Goodbye, you lazy, big-nosed, rubber-faced bastard." He slowly looks up just as Blackadder re-enters the room, having been in earshot the whole time.
- Royal Brat: Prince George
- Samus Is a Girl: And the Shadow is Amy Hardwood. Combined with Vocal Dissonance, as she does a very convincing deep masculine voice.
- The Scottish Trope: "Sense and Senility": the two actors have to perform a silly, overly-long superstitious ritual to exorcise evil spirits whenever Blackadder says "Macbeth". Exactly how the ritual goes is a subject of hot debate in the fandom as Angrish makes the words unclear: one suggestion is "Aargh! Hot potato, orchestra scores, Puck will make amends (HONK!)"
- This is accompanied by a brief game of patty-cake, spinning their arms like wheels, and then honking each others' noses; as the episode progresses, Mossop starts whining and gingerly petting his nose.
- Sequential Symptom Syndrome: In "Nob and Nobility", someone (The Scarlet Pimpernel) takes a suicide pill and recites his own symptoms as he experiences them. Hilariously, he didn't realise that he had taken it, and was completely unaware of the symptoms, himself.
- It was probably the forgetfulness.
- Servile Snarker: Blackadder the Third embodies this.
- To Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal in the segment where Prince George and Blackadder are discussing poverty in "Sense and Senility".
- Keenick and Mossop's extremely violent play full of gore and cheesecake titillation involves a character named "Prince Romero".
- Blackadder's false account of his adventures in France includes breaking into Robespierre's bedroom to leave a box of chocolates and an insulting note. At the time of the original broadcast, a series of well-known TV advertisements for chocolate featured a James Bond Captain Ersatz going to enormous lengths to leave the product in his lady love's bedroom.
- Stars Are Souls: Baldrick seems to believe this when George dies. Of course, he also believes in a giant pink pixie in the sky.Baldrick: There's a new star in the heavens tonight. Another freckle on the nose of the giant pixie.
- Stupid Boss / Too Dumb to Live: Prince George actually seems dumber than Baldrick, who considers him "a clot". Also too dumb to live are Topper and Smedley; Blackadder even lampshades the stupidity of accepting wine from someone who thinks you are about to torture or disgrace him.
- Stylistic Suck: All the lines we hear from The Bloody Murder of the Foul Prince Romero and His Enormously-Bosomed Wife (and, presumably, the rest of the play as well) are implausible gorn dressed up in awful iambic pentameter.
- Swapped Roles: "Duel and Duality"George: It's just like that story, ah, "The Prince and the Porpoise".
Blackadder: "...and the Pauper", sir.
George: Oh, yes, yes. "The Prince and the Porpoise and the Pauper".
- Tastes Like Diabetes: Everything Amy Harwood says when doing her fluffy bunny act comes out like this. In-Universe, both Edmund and the Prince are suitably nauseated.
- Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket: Prince George, when trying to clothe himself.
- Too Much Information: Blackadder has this reaction when Prince George tries to explain what "radishing" entails in "Amy and Amiability".
- Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...: Parodied by George.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: Edmund's Scottish cousin MacAdder, in "Duel and Duality".
- Upper-Class Twit: Prince George, who has more than a few similarities to Bertie Wooster. The fact that they're both played by Hugh Laurie helps. However, George is far less intelligent than Wooster, and far, far less likeable.
- Lord Topper and Lord Smedley in the episode "Nob and Nobility" subvert this by being the civilian identities of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
- Villain Protagonist: Mr E. Blackadder, who murders several people to fix an election, has two innocent actors executed for treason over petty insults, kills the Scarlet Pimpernel, who saved several lives, just to keep his own name clean, and violently abuses his good-natured dogsbody. Sure, one can perhaps manage some sympathy for him given that he's tied to a position as lowly butler to an idiot prince, but he's still willing to go out of his way to ensure that the prince (who he clearly knows is unfit to rule the country) keeps his position simply to ensure he doesn't lose his own job. In the Christmas special he robs an innocent old woman of the gifts that the Prince gave her.
- Actually Pretty Funny:
- In "Corporal Punishment":Blackadder: So, Counsel, with that summing up in mind, what are my chances, do you think?
George: Well, not good I'm afraid. As far as I can see from the evidence, you're as guilty as a puppy sitting beside a pile of poo.
Blackadder: [bitterly] ...Charming.
- While it's not intentional, Blackadder is mighty amused when Melchett says his new girlfriend (actually George in drag) has "more spunk than most girls".
- In "Corporal Punishment":
- Amoral Attorney: Blackadder wants to hire a very good one for his court-martial.Edmund: I remember Massingbird's most famous case — the Case of the Bloody Knife. A man was found next to a murdered body. He had the knife in his hand, thirteen witnesses had seen him stab the victim and when the police picked him up he said to them, 'I'm glad I killed the bastard'. Massingbird not only got him acquitted, he got him knighted in the New Year's Honour's list and the relatives of the victim had to pay to have the blood washed out of his jacket.
- Anachronism Stew : In "General Hospital" Blackadder refers to the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Hull. University College, Hull was not founded until 1927 and did not become the University of Hull until 1954. Then again, it was a trick statement of sorts...Melchett: That's right, Oxford's a complete dump!
- The name 'Kevin' would have been very unusual for an Englishman born presumably in the 1880s like Captain Darling. At the time, and until quite deep into the 20th century it was mostly confined to Ireland or Irish emigre communities.
- Analogy Backfire: For Darling, when trying to convince Blackadder that he is not a spy in General Hospital:Darling: ...I'm as British as Queen Victoria!
Blackadder: So, your father's German, you're half-German and you married a German?note
- Armchair Military: Melchett, and also Darling — until the last episode.
- It's notable that Darling enjoys his easy assignment and is trying to get an even easier one in the Royal Women's Auxiliary Balloon Corps.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "The blood, the noise, the endless poetry!"
- "Went to one of the great universities, I suppose. Oxford...Cambridge...Hull." This turned out to be a test. I mean, Oxford's a complete dump!
- Blackadder's description of Charlie Chaplin's films: "About as funny as getting an arrow through the neck and discovering there's a gas bill tied to it."
- Inverted in "Corporal Punishment" where Melchett opens the court-martial of Blackadder by ranting at length about how he shot Melchett's prized pigeon, Speckled Jim, and then lists the most serious charge (disobeying orders) as an afterthought.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: Any time a plan for the war is discussed, it's invariably this.Blackadder: It's the same plan we used last time. And the seventeen times before that.
Melchett: E-e-exactly! And that is what is so brilliant about it! It'll catch the watchful Hun totally off-guard. Doing precisely what we've done eighteen times before is exactly the last thing they'll expect us to do this time.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: When George disguises himself as Georgina, not only does Melchett fall in love with him, but he becomes quite a successful primadonna.
- Also, Ho Yay: George doesn't seem to mind much that Melchett fell in love with him.George: I know it's a mess, sir, but you see, he got me squippy! Then when he looked into my eyes and said, "Chipmunk, I love you-"
- Also, Ho Yay: George doesn't seem to mind much that Melchett fell in love with him.
- Badass Mustache: General Melchett is hardly a badass, but damn if his lip-cover isn't an impressive specimen!
- Bait the Dog: Melchett has a habit of doing this. While he seems amusing and likable at first, he turns out to really be The Sociopath who is too wrapped up in his fantasy world that War Is Glorious to see that he is sending countless men to their deaths, including those of the main characters themselves, showing how little he really cares about any of them.
- Bawdy Song: Melchett and George's version of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat".Row, row, row your punt,
Gently down the stream!
Belts off, trousers down!
Isn't life a scream?!
- Big Bad: General Melchett is the personal antagonist for the story, throughout he continues coming up with appalling plans and insane troll logic that costs countless lives of the soldiers and which seems to kill all the protagonists. Also in episode 2 he tries to get Blackadder killed in a kangaroo court over him shooting his dead pigeon.
- Black Comedy / Gallows Humor: The firing squad could be said to be overly jovial about their job. The whole series is full of this... which is apropos, given the situation.
- Blood Knight: Flashheart
- Bolivian Army Ending
- Breather Episode: "Major Star", with Edmund staging a relief show. The previous episode, "Corporal Punishment" had him facing a court-martial for shooting a pigeon (almost being executed) and the following, "Private Plane" revolved around Blackadder and Baldrick being captured by the Red Baron.
- Butt-Monkey: Three butt monkeys, actually. Capt. Darling is butt monkey to Capt. Blackadder and Gen. Melchett, Blackadder is butt monkey to Melchett, and Baldrick is butt monkey to Blackadder.
- Callback In 'Private Plane' Flashheart says that the only qualification for being a navigator is 'knowing your arse from your elbow' to which Blackadder replies 'That rules Baldrick out'. Later on Baldrick says they should join the airforce as its better than 'just sitting around here on our elbows'.
- Character Tics: BEEEEEHHHHHHHHH!
- Captain Kevin Darling's eye-twitch was such a part of his character that Tim McInnerny had trouble getting rid of it when shooting was finished.
- Charge-into-Combat Cut: One of the most famous examples of this trope, in which the scene fades from Blackadder and co. charging over the trench to a field full of poppies.
- Chekhov's Gun: Baldrick's Lethal Chef tendecies are mentioned early on in "Captain Cook", and when Baldrick mentions them again near the end, it gives Blackadder a Eureka Moment and he uses them to get himself, George and Baldrick out of the big push.
- Comically Missing the Point: In the final episode, Darling begs Melchett not to send him to the front lines because he doesn't want to die; Melchett just thinks Darling is getting sentimental and saying "I'll miss you too much". Of course, considering what happens next, "comical" might not be the right word...
- On a brighter note, when Blackadder is looking for a female act for he show, he suddenly remembers and summons Bob (who had disguised herself, very poorly as a man). George chimes in "Of course, Bob! Can you think of anyone to be in Blackadder's show?"
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Blackadder is captured by the Germans, where they plan to take him away from the battlefield and force him to teach home economics to German schoolgirls. Needless to say he's not best pleased about Flashheart turning up and hauling him back to the trenches.
- Creator In-Joke: In "General Hospital", Blackadder says that he tricked Nurse Mary by naming three great universities (Oxford, Cambridge and Hull), when in fact only two of them are great. Melchett responds "Quite — Oxford's a complete dump!" Rowan Atkinson attended Oxfordnote , while Stephen Fry attended Cambridge note , the two universities having a centuries-long rivalry.
- Credits Gag: Every member of the production crew is given made up ranks and serial numbers.
- Cue Card Pause: In "Corporal Punishment", George runs afoul of this with his summation.
- Disguised in Drag: George, in "Major Star", leading to Attractive Bent-Gender when Melchett falls for "Georgina".
- Disproportionate Retribution: While shooting pigeons is a court-martial offence, Melchett takes the issue Up to Eleven, labeling Edmund as "The Flanders Pigeon Murderer".
- Distinction Without a Difference: "No, George, it's not a good old service revolver, it's a brand-new service revolver, which I did not order."
- Drama Bomb Finale: In a rare highly successful example at the very end of season four.
- Downer Ending: Series four finale; even more remarkable is that the same basic ending was played for laughs in series one and two. Reality Subtext is to blame for the Mood Whiplash. To put it into perspective, it aired 10 days before Remembrance Sunday with no complaints whatsoever. (Well, almost none — one woman wrote to the Radio Times to ask why a comedy would want to show people the terrible things that happened, reminding her of her own husband. Another woman wrote in to Points of View thanking them for such a beautiful tribute. Ben Elton's uncle, who was a refugee from Nazi Germany and deeply supportive of the British Armed Forces, also gave his nephew an earful, but changed his mind and apologized after he saw the second half of the episode, something he hadn't done when it first aired). Though the original ending planned, as seen here, wasn't nearly as dramatic or moving — general consensus is that it was a good thing they changed it.
- Dumbass Has a Point: Baldrick asks why the war started in the first place, and then asks why everybody doesn't just pack up and go home, as they clearly aren't accomplishing anything in the trenches, other than a lot of people getting killed. Even Blackadder's wit fails him, and he is unable to give an answer.
- Entertainingly Wrong: Blackadder deducing Nurse Mary is a German spy. His reasoning is perfectly sound and the suspect had already admitted to using Obfuscating Stupidity in front of others. Unfortunately for them both the true 'spy' was someone else altogether: Mary was completely innocent; it was George sending apparently not-properly-censored letters to his German uncle all along.
- Everyone Has Standards:
- Even Flashheart is disgusted by Darling's refusal to rescue Blackadder in "Private Plane", so he headbutts him and knocks him out.
- Melchett may be the Big Bad and The Neidermeyer, but he won't tolerate Blackadder being rude to a lady, as he puts it, when Blackadder accuses Nurse Mary of being a German spy. She isn't.
- Evil Gloating: But terminated gloriously.Baron von Richthoven: Ah, and Lord Flashheart! This is indeed an honour! Finally the two greatest gentlemen flyers in the world meet! Two men of honour, who have jousted together in the cloud-strewn glory of the skies... face to face at last! How often have I rehearsed this moment of destiny in my dreams! The valour we two encapsulate, the unspoken nobility of our comradeship, the— (BOOM HEADSHOT)
Flashheart: WHAT A POOF!
- Exact Words: In "Captain Cook", Blackadder and his men are sent into No Man's Land to draw enemy troop dispositions. When George remarks that it's too dark to see, Blackadder realizes that they can just make anything up and get themselves out of danger. He encourages George to "use [his] imagination"...which results in a picture that's light on arms factories but has plenty of elephants.
- Failed a Spot Check: In "General Hospital", Edmund deduces that Nurse Fletcher is a German spy through clever deception and tests, such as asking a trick question about well known english universitiesnote , and that George made him aware of the suspect's knowledge of the german language with how they help him translate his letters for his german uncle. Unfortunately, his deduction was incorrect, partially because he failed to question why a British soldier would need his letters containing important details on military operations translated into german in the first place.
- Genius Ditz: Exploited in "Captain Cook". George himself even says that painting was the only thing he was ever really good at, and he wasn't lying. When you can get Blackadder of all people to appreciate and even compliment your efforts, you're doing something right. Blackadder uses George's artistic talents to try and get out of the trenches by attempting to pass off George's painting as his own. Thanks to Melchett, it works, but only briefly.
- Given Name Reveal: In their last scene together, Melchett addresses Darling as Kevin.
- Greater-Scope Villain : The Germany Military Alliance
- Grey and Gray Morality: Based on what we see from the germans, they're not any worse than the allies.
- Hanging Judge: General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett becomes one in a military court. He's completely ready to have Blackadder shot for shooting his prize pigeon.
- Head Desk: Blackadder's reaction to Baldrick's, quite literally, denying everything — including that his name was Baldrick.
- Heh Heh, You Said "X": When sussing out a spy, General Melchett is dismayed to hear that Captain Darling had pooh-poohed Blackadder's abilities.Melchett: I knew a Major, got pooh-poohed. Made the mistake of ignoring the pooh-pooh. He pooh-poohed it! Fatal error. 'Cause it turned out all along that the soldier who pooh-poohed him had been pooh-poohing a lot of other officers. Who pooh-poohed their pooh-poohs! In the end we had to disband the regiment! Morale totally destroyed! By pooh-pooh.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: George, after he bungles Blackadder's court martial and gets him sentenced to firing squad.
- Hope Spot: The final episode is one series of these after another. First, there's Blackadder's decision to feign madness by putting underpants on his head and sticking pencils up his nose: he's absolutely convinced that this will work. Then, when this is foiled by Melchett's overheard remark that he hopes Blackadder hasn't just decided to feign madness by putting underpants on his head and stuck pencils up his nose, Blackadder realises that he can call in a favour from Haig, whose life he saved during the Boer War. This Hope Spot lasts until he actually calls Haig, and Haig agrees to save his life; he duly advises Blackadder to put underpants on his head and stick pencils up his nose. "They'll think you're mad. There, favour returned."
Darling: Thank God! We lived through it! The Great War, 1914 to 1917!
- In the last moments, just before being sent over the top, all the guns go quiet, and George, Baldrick and Darling all assume that the war must have ended:
- Hope Sprouts Eternal: The ending.
- I Ate WHAT?!: In the last episode, Blackadder learns that the "coffee" he's been drinking for years was just hot mud sweetened with Baldrick's dandruff. His reaction is one of mild annoyance, at most.
- Implausible Deniability: Spoofed in "Corporal Punishment". As his Bumbling Sidekick Baldrick is being called to the stand to testify in Captain Blackadder's trial, Blackadder tells him to "deny everything." First question:George: [as Blackadder's attorney] You are Private Baldrick?
George: ...Oh. Um... But you are Captain Blackadder's batman?
George: Come on, Baldrick, can't you be a bit more helpful? It's me!
Baldrick: No, it isn't!
- Insane Troll Logic: Anything Melchett says to justify his tactics.Blackadder: It's the same plan that we used last time, and the seventeen times before that.
Melchett: E-E-Exactly! And that is what so brilliant about it! We will catch the watchful Hun totally off guard! Doing precisely what we have done eighteen times before is exactly the last thing they'll expect us to do this time! There is however one small problem.
- Blackadder does this when interrogating potential spy suspects.Edmund: I asked if he'd been to one of the great universities: Oxford, Cambridge, or Hull... you failed to spot that only two of those are great universities.Edmund: The first rule ... is to suspect everyone... I shall be asking myself pretty searching questions later on... What is the colour of the Queen of England's favourite hat?
- Blackadder does this when interrogating potential spy suspects.
- I Owe You My Life: Apparently Blackadder had saved Field Marshal Haig's life at Mboto Gorge and was told to call if he ever needed a favour. Unfortunately, when he does so to try and get out of the Big Push in "Goodbyeee", the best Haig can do is to suggest he feign insanity... which Blackadder had already tried to no avail. It should also be pointed out that Blackadder "saved" him from a "pygmy woman with a sharp mango".
- I Will Fight Some More Forever
- I Want My Mommy!: When Captain Blackadder and Baldrick are in the hands of the Germans:Baldrick: I want my mum.
Blackadder: Yes, a maternally outraged gorilla would be a useful ally.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Blackadder, to a very slight extent. He's still not remotely a nice person, but he can bring himself to feel sympathy for Darling and wish the others good luck in the final episode.
- Despite being a soldier, he is the only Blackadder in the four seasons not to commit murder — unless you count Speckled Jim. Though it is mentioned that he has done in the past, at Mboto Gorge. According to Darling, they "massacred the peace-loving pygmies of the Upper Volta and stole all their fruit."
- He also seems genuinely horrified when he learns he's sent an innocent woman to the firing squad in "General Hospital"; hard to imagine his heartless Regency ancestor being so shaken.
- He is genuinely complimentary regarding George's painting ability too (though planning to use it for his own ends). Sincere compliments from a Blackadder are as rare as something very rare indeed.Blackadder: George! These are brilliant! Why didn't you tell us about these before?
George: Well, you know, one doesn't want to blow one's own trumpet.
Blackadder: [impressed] You might at least have told us you had a trumpet.
- It's worth noting that this Blackadder, in contrast with his forebears, is uninterested in scheming his way to power or wealth. He's merely trying to save himself. Too bad Failure Is the Only Option.
- Kangaroo Court: Blackadder's court martial in "Corporal Punishment" was this. The judge and prosecutor both have clear conflicts of interest in the trial, to the point where the judge is actually called to testify for the prosecution, while Blackadder's defence attorney (George) gets fined £50 for turning up. Surprisingly, though, the Minister of War realizes that the whole trial was a farce, and reverses the decision.
- Kick the Dog: A three-layered version of it that happened in the past. When George was six, he got a rabbit called Flossie. Melchett first set his dog on Flossie, then ran him over with his car, and finally shot him.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Flashheart is hardly the nicest of men, but even he is disgusted by Darling's refusal to rescue Blackadder after he crashes his plane, so he headbutts Darling and knocks him out.
- Lame Pun Reaction: Blackadder manages a look of unparalleled contempt while his own firing squad are providing such gems as assuring him that they aim to please.
- Lethal Chef: Baldrick. Most of his recipes that don't involve rat, involve the bodily outputs of various animals. In his defence on one point, Blackadder's unit hasn't had coffee since 1915, forcing Baldrick to improvise with mud.
- Mad Brass / General Failure: General "Insanity" Melchett.
- Also Field Marshall Haig, seen knocking toy soldiers into a trench, then sweeping them up into a dustpan and dumping them on the floor.
- Miles Gloriosus: George is very gung-ho about the war and can't wait for the "big push" and the chance to give the Huns what for... until the end of the final episode, when he realizes he doesn't want to die.
- The Mole: "General Hospital" involves the search for a German spy who's apparently leaking battle plans from a field hospital. It actually turns out that patient George is inadvertently doing this in letters to his Uncle Hermann in Munich.
- Mood Whiplash: The finale.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Blackadder is horrified when he realizes he has just sent an innocent woman to be killed by a firing squad under the mistaken assumption she was a German spy. Cue him and Darling rushing out to stop the execution. We never find out whether it was stopped in time.
- No Indoor Voice: Flashheart.
- Noodle Incident: Blackadder presents one at the end of "Captain Cook": namely, how did Baldrick get so much "custard" (vomit) out of such a small cat? We'll never know.
- No-Sell: When Melchett doesn't fall for Blackadder's "insanity" ploy , it becomes clear that things are not going to end well.
- Obfuscating Insanity: Briefly attempted by Blackadder in "Goodbyeee", until he overhears Melchett tell the others that he had to shoot an entire platoon for pulling the same stunt. Of course, as he trenchantly observes at the end, it probably wouldn't have worked anyway. "I mean, who would have noticed another madman around here?"
- Obfuscating Stupidity: George might be an example of this, as in "Private Plane" he demonstrates a distressing combination of wooden-headed stupidity and remarkably keen insight.Melchett: Do you remember what happened to Flossie?
George: You shot him.
Melchett: That's right. It was the kindest thing to do after he'd been run over by that car.
George: By your car, sir.
Melchett: Yes, by my car, but that too was an act of mercy when you remember that that dog had been set on him.
George: Your dog, sir.
George: I'm...scared, sir.
- An example that further drives the point home is in the final episode, where George's bubbly nature shows the biggest cracks seen in the entire series when he realizes that he's the only one of his friends still alive after joining the army, and that he's genuinely terrified of going over the top.
- Nurse Mary, in "General Hospital", uses a mild version of this. ("My fluffy-bunny act", as she calls it.)
- Oh, Crap!:
- Captain Darling's face when he realises Melchett is sending him to the Front, just in time for a major offensive. Melchett, of course, only thinks that Darling is reluctant to leave him, even when Darling gets down on his knees and just about begs.
- And then there's the scene where Blackadder is in court and he realises who the judge is...
- Only Sane Men: Captain Blackadder and Captain Darling. Also Nurse Mary.
- Operation: [Blank]: Operation Certain Death.
- Overranked Soldier: General Melchett, as an exaggeration of the "lions led by donkeys" stereotype of the British Army during the war. He's incompetent and frankly quite mad.
- Pervy Patdown: Blackadder accuses Captain Darling of this when Darling frisks him during the Mole Hunt episode.Blackadder: So in the name of security, sir, everyone who enters the room has to have his bottom fondled by this drooling pervert?Darling: I'm only doing my job, Blackadder.
Blackadder: How convenient that your job is also your hobby.
- Precision F-Strike:
- In the final episode.Darling: Made a note in my diary on the way here. Simply says: "Bugger".
- Averted in the same episode with a Narrative Profanity Filter:Edmund: [after learning that Haig was completely useless in getting him out of the trenches] ...I think the phrase rhymes with "clucking bell".
- In the final episode.
- Pun-Based Title: It is, after all, the fourth series.
- As well as the episode titles, which play on various military ranks (except "Goodbyeee").
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Hugh Laurie seems to have a particular talent for looking like a beaten-down puppy. "Permission for lip to wobble, sir."
- Recursive Crossdressing: Bob, in "Major Star".
- Reduced to Ratburgers: Part of the reason that Baldrick is a Lethal Chef is down to the fact supplies of actual food are becoming more and more scarce. For example, they haven't had coffee for 18 months or sugar since 1915, so Baldrick makes do with mud and dandruff. Most of his actual dishes really are rat with sauteéd (The rat is shaved and drowned in a puddle, before being cooked under a lightbulb and strategically eaten near a latrine) or fricasseed rat (Same as sauteéing, only with a bigger rat) being two of his signature dishes along with rat-au-van (A rat that's been run over by a van).
- Retraux: The closing credits, presented as an old newsreel film.
- Running Gag: The use of "Darling" in lines addressed to Darling never seems to get old.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Blackadder tries and fails to do this several times. He tries to desert in "Major Star" after learning the Russians have pulled out of the war due to the Revolution, only to run straight into Melchett, who ironically asks for his help in shooting some deserters later.
- Second Face Smoke: Nurse Mary does this to Blackadder.
- Shout-Out: The Noodle Incident where Blackadder saved Field Marshal Haig's life from a native armed with a sharp slice of mango. This may refer to the Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch "Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit".
- Something That Begins with "Boring": Which ends rather unusually.George: I hear with my little ear something beginning with 'B'.
Blackadder: I can't hear a bomb.
George: Listen very carefully.
[the faint whistling of a bomb can be heard]
Blackadder: Ah, yes...
- Smoking Hot Sex: Blackadder and Nurse Mary, in "General Hospital".Blackadder: I only smoke cigarettes after making love. So, back in England I'm a twenty-a-day man.
- Smug Snake: Captain Darling.
- Soldiers at the Rear: Darling is happy to be General Melchett's aide-de-camp because that way he doesn't have to be in the trenches. In the last episode he gets sent there anyway.
- Sudden Downer Ending: Blackadder Goes Forth is set in the trenches of WWI, and the writers didn't want to be accused of making light of one of the most tragic moments in British history, so the last episode becomes steadily more serious and sombre as all of the characters but General Melchett (and he's quite oblivious to sending Darling to his doom) are ordered over the top in what is assumed to be a suicide charge. While the cast are all shown to have died in The Black Adder and Blackadder II, this time it's not played for comedy at all.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: "We haven't received any messages and Captain Blackadder definitely did not eat this delicious plump breasted pigeon."
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Bob, in "Major Star". Subverted in that absolutely no-one but the General is remotely fooled, and in a later episode she is wearing a female uniform and openly sleeping with Flashheart despite still using the identity.
- Take That!: Blackadder tells George that he finds Charlie Chaplin's films "about as funny as getting an arrow through the neck and discovering there's a gas bill tied to it". Which is even more Hilarious in Hindsight, given the obvious debt that Rowan Atkinson's subsequent series owed to Chaplin's brand of humour.
- Given that Chaplin gets his own back at the end of the episode (by agreeing to free distribution of his films among the British Army on the proviso that Blackadder is the projectionist), this may be more an affectionate homage than anything else — every other character loves Charlie Chaplin.
- It's also a running joke throughout all the series that Blackadder hates any character considered by modern day to be a genius; Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh, Samuel Johnson, etc.
- Time for Plan B: Every episode.
- Telegraph Gag STOP: In "Major Star", used as a joke by Blackadder to insult Charlie Chaplin, and in the same episode Chaplin takes revenge in the same format.Captain Blackadder: Yes... take down a telegram, Bob. To Mr. Charlie Chaplin, Sennett Studios, Hollywood, California. Congrats STOP Have found only person in world less funny than you STOP Name Baldrick STOP Signed E. Blackadder STOP Oh, and put a P.S.: please, please, please STOP
Captain Darling: We received a telegram from Mr Chaplin himself at Sennett Studios: Twice nightly filming of my films in trenches: excellent idea STOP But must insist that E. Blackadder be projectionist STOP P.S. Don't let him ever... STOP.
- Uncertain Doom: We never see the main cast die onscreen at the end, and all of them have descendants in Back and Forth. Did they survive? Who knows.
- Unfortunate Item Swap:
- In "Corporal Punishment", Blackadder writes two letters — one asking George for a sponge bag, another asking the brilliant lawyer Hugh Massingbird for legal aid. Of course, Baldrick gets the letters mixed up.
- A more fortunate version occurs later that episode, when Baldrick delivers George's letter to his mum to Blackadder instead; reading the letter tells Edmund that George's uncle has just been appointed Minister of War, which they try to use to get Edmund pardoned.
- Unfortunate Names: Captain Darling. The creators said that as soon as they came up with the name for him, he went from a totally empty character to one who'd been steeped in a lifetime's worth of bitterness and resentment from being called "darling" by everyone. Blackadder takes great pleasure in doing this himself, except in the final episode when Darling has been sent to join them in the trenches and Edmund actually calls him "Captain" respectfully.
- Unishment: Baron von Richtoven's threat to force Blackadder out of the trenches and into a German girls' school for the rest of the war is designed to be unbearable for an honourable Brit. Of course, Blackadder isn't one of those.
- Unwanted Rescue: Unfortunately for Blackadder and Baldrick, George and Flashheart soon turn up to "save" them. Flashheart actually works out that they were trying to get away from the front and forces them both to come with him.
- Verbal Tic: General Melchett's trademark "Baa!" has been variously attributed to madness, asthma and an ancestor's illicit relationship with Flossie the sheep. Stephen Fry has said it really originated from his imagining that Melchett had haemorrhoids and would yell out every time he sat down or got up.
- War Is Hell: Blackadder's main goal in this series, as opposed to the power grabbing his ancestors have attempted, is simply to survive the war by getting out of the trenches. The final episode really hammers the point home, especially with the Tear Jerker Downer Ending.
- Wham Line:
- At the very end:Darling: I say, listen — our guns have stopped.
George: You don't think...
Baldrick: Maybe the war's over? Maybe it's peace.
Darling: Thank God. We lived through it. The Great War, 1914 to 1917.
- In the scene just prior:George: Well, really, this is brave, splendid and noble... Sir?
Blackadder: Yes, Lieutenant?
George: I'm... scared, sir.
- Indeed, the Mood Whiplash of the final episode can be pinpointed to Blackadder's exchange with Darling.
- At the very end:
- Who's on First?: Captain Darling gets this a lot. In particular, "Major Star" has a scene where General Melchett is rehearsing what he's going to say to his current crush (who's actually George in a dress) in front of Captain Darling, repeatedly referring to "Georgina" as "darling".
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Lampshaded after a wise decision by Lord Flashheart in response to Baron von Richtofen's near ruining of his Big Damn Heroes moment before he recognizes Flashheart:Baron von Richtofen: Ah, and the Lord Flashheart! This is indeed an honour . . . . Finally the two greatest gentleman flyers in the world meet! Two men of honour, who have jousted together in the cloud-strewn glory of the skies! Face-to-face at last. How often I have rehearsed this moment of destiny in my dreams ...the vanities we encapsulate, the unspoken nobility of our comradeship—
Flashheart: What a poof!
- Worthy Opponent: The Red Baron thinks Flashheart is one. Flashheart does not agree.
- Unexpectedly Dark Episode: The final episode ends with Edmund, Baldrick, George, and Darling being sent over the trench, which was made clear over the series to be a death sentence that Edmund desperately wants to avoid. They are strongly implied to have been killed.
- Your Brain Won't Be Much of a Meal: Referenced in the Blackadder Goes Forth episode "Captain Cook", with cannibals this time.Edmund: Your brain's so minute, Baldrick, that if a hungry cannibal cracked your head open, there wouldn't be enough to cover a small water biscuit.
- Achievements in Ignorance: Baldrick, who is unable to read, managed to build a working time machine according to Leonardo da Vinci's exact specifications.
- Almost Dead Guy: Played deliberately as part of Edmund's plan to travel back to the present in Blackadder: Back & Forth, almost drowning Baldrick just long enough for his life to flash before his eyes (along with the memories of the original configurations of the time machine).
- And This Is for...: In Back and Forth, one of Blackadder's kicks to Shakespeare is for the Kenneth Branagh version of Hamlet.
- Annoying Laugh: Ebenezer Blackadder's niece Millicent.
- Being Good Sucks: Oh boy! Everyone and their mother is exploiting Ebenezer in Christmas Carol.
- Book Ends: Blackadder becomes king at the end of Blackadder: Back and Forth. The entire series began with this being his primary objective.
- Butterfly of Doom: Blackadder: Back & Forth is all about this.
- In a way, downplayed due to the directness and magnitude of the various "butterflies" — usually Blackadder accidentally killing a famous historical figure, leading to no one knowing who that person was in the present, and undoing any of their accomplishments (albeit it absurdly over-the-top fashion).
- In Blackadder Back & Forth Baldrick references Blackadder's "Cunning Like a Fox" line from Goes Fourth, revealing that said fox has apparently since moved even further up in the world.
- In the same film, Blackadder's appearance, personality and social standing are all consciously modelled after the Blackadder II incarnation of the character, who is generally considered the most iconic of the four television Blackadders.
- In The Cavalier Years, Baldrick gets a job as an executioner, just like his Elizabethan ancestor in "Head".
- Canis Latinicus: Melchett's Roman incarnation renders his usual "Beeeeh!" catchphrase as "Beeeeeh-us."
- The Cavalier Years
- Credits Gag: In Back in Forth, the dinosaur is played by "Tyrannosaurus Rex" and the Scottish Hordes are played by "Hordes of Scots."
- Decapitation Presentation: Cavalier Years: Baldrick's cunning plan to substitute a pumpkin instead of a head sort of fell apart when this moment came.
- Evil Laugh: Nursie delivers one after Melchett gets his death warrant.
- Evil Overlord: Queen Asphyxia in the future of Christmas Carol is a female example.
- Extreme Doormat: Actually Blackadder himself in Christmas Carol, starting off as kindly generous soul (who is naturally endlessly exploited for charity). A visit from a Christmas Spirit inadvertently reveals his legacy will be destroyed due to his meekness, leading him to become an even crueller schemer than his ancestors.
- Eyepatch of Power: The ruthless Admiral Blackadder wears one in Back and Forth.
- Fan Disservice: Both Blackadder and Baldrick in Space Opera Go-Go Enslavement gear in the two alternate futures of Christmas Carol. And the modern day Baldrick in Back and Forth wearing his novelty plastic apron.
- Foreshadowing: In Blackadder Back And Forth, Lady Elizabeth and George remarking that "You can't see something that's already happened!" "Unless you're on the lavatory." foreshadows Baldrick's cunning plan to get himself and Blackadder back to 1999, where Blackadder almost drowns Baldrick in the toilet so his life will flash before his eyes, causing him to remember the position of the knobs and levers when they first set off, and enable him to get them home.
- Four-Star Badass: One future Blackadder is the ruthless and brilliant Admiral of a thinly-disguised version of the Empire. He seizes power.
- Genius Ditz: Back & Forth's Baldrick embodies this trope far more than any previous Baldrick. He's dumb as a post, but somehow manages to build a working time machine. It's worth mentioning that he was tasked with building a fake time machine.
- Go-Go Enslavement: In the far-future segment of Christmas Carol, Blackadder and Baldrick wear nothing but a leather speedo and a leash when they're slaves.
- Grand Finale: Blackadder Back & Forth is written as being this to the whole series, with the idea of any further entries being humorously Jossed in the end credits with the line "Blackadder Back & Forth 2... coming Summer 3000!"
- Hot Consort: Marian in Blackadder Back & Forth, to King Edmund III. To be expected, given she's Kate Moss.
- I Hate Past Me: Averted in Blackadder's Christmas Carol; Ebenezer Blackadder is absolutely delighted to see the sort of underhanded behaviour in which his Elizabethan and Regency ancestors engaged to get ahead.
- Large Ham: Robbie Coltrane as the Ghost in Christmas Carol, Stephen Fry, as usual, in The Cavalier Years. Rik Mayall as Lord Flashheart- er, Robin Hood in Back and Forth.
- Naked Apron: Baldrick serves dinner in Blackadder Back & Forth while wearing an apron patterned like a maid uniform. And nothing under it.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In The Cavalier Years, Stephen Fry's portrayal of Charles I is a thinly-veiled-if-at-all-veiled impression of Prince Charles.
- Not Hyperbole: The Call-Back in Back & Forth to Edmund's "Cunning Like a Fox" line from Goes Fourth implies that the original was not in fact a metaphor.
- Product Placement: Subverted in Blackadder Back & Forth. Time-traveller Edmund tries to present Elizabeth I with a Tesco Clubcard, which, to no-one's surprise, turns out to be a ludicrously pointless gift in the Renaissance. Double Subverted when he then wins her and her court's favour with another brand name product (namely Polo mints).
- Shakespeare in Fiction: Edmund meets him in the Elizabethan era in Blackadder: Back & Forth and proceeds to kick the crap out of him for all the boring literature classes in school.
- One of Queen Asphyxia's court in Christmas Carol looks like Nursie's head grafted onto a knock-off Dalek.
- In Blackadder Back & Forth the brief space battle is between two Earth Defence Directorate starfighters and a Draconian fighter.
- The time machine in the movie is also roughly the size and shape of the TARDIS on the outside, anyway, if it were made in the Renaissance period.
- The Present Day version of George has the surname "Tufton-Bufton", which is a reference to Private Eye's generic upper-class reactionary, Sir Bufton Tufton MP.
- Smarter Than You Look: Subverted with Baldrick in Christmas Carol. He can't write, read or count, but he's smart enough to question Ebenezer's Stupid Good behavor and points out that the freeloaders (especially the obese orphans) don't need what Ebenezer gives them.
- Springtime for Hitler: Baldrick, tasked with building a fake time machine, somehow ends up building a real one.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Even if they weren't played by the same actor, Robin Hood would still be noticeably Flashheart-esque.
- Switch to English: Inverted in Back and Forth. The Roman-era characters all speak in English...until Melchett compliments them for practising the language, and switches to Latin.
- Tele-Frag: The time-machine arrives at the Battle of Waterloo, right above the Duke of Wellington, squashing him flat.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Things finally end happily for (one descendant of) Edmund and Baldrick in Blackadder: Back & Forth as they alter time and history for fame and fortune. In Christmas Carol, a more distant descendent conquers the universe.
- Unusual Euphemism: Queen Asphyxia flirting with Admiral Blackadder in Christmas Carol: "You have most pleasantly wibbled my frusset-pouch."
- Verbal Backspace: In The Cavalier Years:Blackadder: Have you ever known me to lie to the king?
(Blackadder is suddenly pointing a sharp-looking knife at his throat)
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: An inversion and parody. Indeed, when Ebenezer Blackadder, the only good and friendly member of the Blackadder bloodline (and also an Extreme Doormat), sees that his descendant would rule all of the universe if he became a spiteful miser like his ancestors (instead of being a slave to future Baldrick, which would happen if he were to remain kind and generous), he lampshades it gleefully:Ebenezer: Bad guys have all the fun.