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Series / Chuck

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Saving the world at $11 an hour.
(Uh... hello? It's $12.50!)note 

"Don't freak out."

Chuck is an action comedy spy drama series created by Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak. It ran for five seasons on NBC from 2007 to 2012.

The show tells the story of Charles Irving "Chuck" Bartowski (Zachary Levi), an all-around nice guy nerd who is stuck in a low-end retail job as a member of the Nerd Herd at the local Buy More. Chuck had his formerly bright future as a Stanford student derailed by his best friend and roommate, Bryce Larkin (Matt Bomer), who framed Chuck as a cheat and got him expelled — apparently to steal his girlfriend Jill (Jordana Brewster). One day, Chuck receives a strange email from Bryce. When he opens it, a vast array of nebulous government secrets, called The Intersect, gets downloaded into his unsuspecting brain, turning him into a walking Omniscient Database.

The various government agencies who contributed to this cache of government secrets are none too happy to have them stuck in Chuck's head, particularly since Bryce destroyed the original database, and at the same time sent the whole thing to Chuck. The agencies dispatch two agents to deal with the hapless Mr. Bartowski: Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski), a super-sexy CIA agent (as well as Bryce's former partner and erstwhile lover), and John Casey (Adam Baldwin), a borderline psycho NSA man. Fortunately for Chuck, the agencies decide that Chuck may be more useful to them alive than dead, and they allow him to keep his normal life (more or less) — with the addition of Sarah and Casey as guards/handlers/minders.

Chuck suffers from frequent flashes where he spots something or someone that seems innocuous at first, but the Intersect stuffed into his head identifies the object or person as very important. Chuck and his minders must find a way to act on Chuck's information, all the while keeping Chuck's family and friends in the dark about his special abilities and new status as a government agent/prisoner. Among these friends and family members are Chuck's loving and protective big sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster), Ellie's significant other Devon (Ryan McPartlin) who's nicknamed "Captain Awesome", Chuck's best friend Morgan (Joshua Gomez), and Chuck's underlings in the Nerd Herd at the Buy More.

Primarily a spoof of Spy Fiction tropes, Chuck's appeal comes from a mix of sharp writing, well-realized characters with surprisingly genuine emotional lives, and a strong cast. Much of the comedy comes from Chuck's Fish out of Water nature in the spy world (even the cartoon version of it presented in the show) combined with the contrast between his life as a Part-Time Hero and the normal one he tries to maintain with his sister and in his job at the Buy More.

Six tie-in comics in print were also made for the show.

Note that the tropes in this page are divided into an overall series section (at the top) and a specific-to-an-episode section (below). Please try to avoid duplications. Thanks.

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    Overall series 
  • The Ace:
    • Bryce Larkin is a suave ultra-spy who is an impossible standard for Chuck to meet in his relationship with Sarah.
    • Cole Barker fits pretty much the exact same archetype. It helped Cole Barker and Roan Montgomery in their roles as The Ace that they were James Bond Expys.
    • Captain Awesome provides a nice parallel version of this in Chuck's non-spy life. Ironically, when he was introduced into Chuck's spy life, he turned out to be terrible at it.
    • In some ways, Chuck himself is The Ace among the Buy-More crew: the clever, respected, and responsible ostensible-peon who in fact runs the place.
    • After Bryce dies in the season 2 finale, we have Daniel Shaw. Not quite a Suspiciously Similar Substitute, but definitely replacing Bryce. Especially once he appears to be paired with Sarah.
    • By season 4, this trope has pretty much been subverted as Chuck has become a much more capable spy. He's even done well for himself in periods where the Intersect can't be relied on. Even then, though, this is played with with the introduction of the Intersected Gretas—technically more competent but unable to think outside the box the way Chuck can.
      • In "Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips" Intersect-less Chuck is shown to be an even match for Morgan using an Intersect in hand to hand combat. Similarly, in "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit", Chuck was able to hold his own against Daniel Shaw.
    • Anna initially felt like this toward Ellie.
    • Sarah spends most of "Chuck Versus the Fat Lady" getting overshadowed by Jill.
    • Gertrude Verbanski and her company seem to be this for Carmichael Industries, the freelance spy service that Chuck and Sarah founded in season 5.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • When Ellie, shocked at seeing their long-lost father standing in front of her, mutters about wanting pancakesnote , Stephen lets out a strained, "Oh boy." This was the Catchphrase of one of Scott Bakula's most famous roles: Sam Beckett. He also referenced the role in the bumper leading into the episode, introducing it by remarking it feels like he'd been here before, but it feels like "quite a leap."note 
    • Right after Mary Bartowski gets a Big Damn Heroes moment, she tells Chuck and Sarah, "Come with me if you want to live." Mary Bartowski is played by Linda Hamilton aka Sarah Conner.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Carina never refers to Morgan by his name and always calls him "Martin".
  • Action Survivor: Chuck, until he learned kung fu at the end of season 2.
    Stephen: (to Ellie) Your brother... does have a knack for getting into trouble.
  • Affably Evil:
    • A number of episodes have Chuck and Sarah attending parties thrown by the villain of the episode, generally a financier of terrorism or other crime. They are almost always charming, perfect hosts.
    • Ted Roark is an extreme example.
      Roark: (with shotgun aimed at Chuck) A real shotgun wedding. Just think, that terrible pun is the last thing you'll ever hear.
      • FULCRUM agents seem to have this as a hat. Case in point: In "Chuck Versus The Suburbs," every agent living in the neighborhood behaves like this, even once their cover is dropped.
    • Alexei Volkoff, one particularly notable example being at Chuck's Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Agents Dating: In the beginning, CIA agent Sarah Walker goes on a date with typical everyman Chuck, trying to get close to him and find out where the Intersect is. Over the course of the series they go on a number of dates, both as part of their cover and some real ones as well.
  • Almighty Janitor: Chuck is ostensibly just another member of the Nerd Herd and not any kind of manager at the Buy More. However, due to the manager's laziness and the fact that everyone looks up to Chuck as the leader, he pretty much runs the place. Especially now that Morgan is the assistant manager. Even more so at the end of season 4 when Chuck has bought the store with Volkoff's money.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Turns out FULCRUM is just one part of The Ring's larger operations. Can you say "Nebulous Evil"? Tuned up to eleven at the season 4 finale when it is hinted that everything they've done for the past four years has been manipulated by some bigger organization. That however was a subversion.
  • Amazon Brigade:
    • Sarah's old CIA team, the CAT Squad is all-female spy steam consisting of Sarah, Carina, Amy and Zondra.
    • Goya's personal bodyguards were also an all-female team, based on Muammar Gaddafi's so called "Amazonian Guard".
  • Amoral Attorney: Mr. Riley, the Volkoff family lawyer who serves as Vivian's Evil Mentor.
  • Amusing Injuries: John Casey tends to suffer some injury nearly every mission that gets played for laughs. Special mention goes to the episodes "Chuck Versus Santa Claus", where he loses a toe, "Chuck Versus the Fake Name", where he loses a tooth, and "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock", where he has to play dead while his former unit test to see if he is Faking the Dead by harming him.
    Sarah: I mean, you get shot a lot.
    Casey: Not considering how much I get shot at.
  • The Artifact: Despite his appearance changing over the show's run, the title card kept the same photo in Chuck's Nerd Herd ID Badge for the entirety of the show's run. Especially egregious since Chuck quit the Buy More at least twice, and would have had a new photo taken and issued a new badge upon being rehired.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: One of the most often violated cardinal rules in all media is "Keep your finger away from the trigger until you have assumed firing position." It happens often enough that it can usually be overlooked. However, Casey does it and that actor definitely knows better.
  • Artistic License – Law Enforcement: Pretty much everything the series shows about the various intelligence agencies it features is wrong. Neither the CIA nor the NSA has any law enforcement authority; in fact, the NSA doesn't even have field operatives and would not recruit them from paramilitary black ops teams if it did. Instead, they share their data with actual law enforcement, which then goes in to make the arrest. The idea of a rivalry between the CIA and NSA, featured in the first few episodes and presented as the reason the Intersect computer was repurposed in the first place (the CIA and NSA were ordered to "play nice"), makes very little sense, as the two agencies handle very different fields: the CIA gathers HUMINT (intelligence from living sources), and the NSA gathers SIGINT (intelligence from signals, including but not limited to emails, digital surveillance, and wiretapping). For comparison, the two agencies competing would be like an electronics store and a diner trying to drive each other out of business. The CIA is forbidden to operate within US borders, but nearly all the missions Chuck and co. undertake are local. CIA operatives are actually called officers, CIA agents being native civilians who are cooperating with an officer, but Sarah is always referred to as Agent Walker instead of Officer Walker. Still, the show would not be nearly as entertaining if these agencies were handled realistically.
  • A-Team Firing: Sarah and Casey, for all their advanced combat skill, are pretty crap when they really should be mowing enemies down. Much of the time, a firefight ends with no-one killed, when a group of friendly people show up with more guns, for instance the first season episodes "Chuck Versus the Nemesis" and "Chuck Versus the Alma Mater". Later seasons attempt to fix this, but it's still hit or miss. Sometimes Casey (and it's always Casey) will gun down a team of enemy soldiers before the real action starts.
  • Bad Boss: Alexei Volkoff kills one of his own henchman almost every episode he appears in.
  • Badass Family:
    • The Bartowskis. Chuck's spy work outshines trained professionals, Ellie is rapidly becoming a Badass Normal, and Stephen was on the run from the government for ten years, while Mary has been in deep cover for twenty. Devon may not be cut out for the spy work, but he's still a good fighter and in peak physical shape.
    • Stephen's name is so feared by his former co-worker, that Chuck is able to pull off the mother of all Batman Gambits just with the rumor that he might still be alive.
    • Sarah eventually marries into the Bartowskis, and she's no slouch.
    • Also, the Volkoff family, including his daughter and mother.
  • The Beard: For the first two seasons Chuck and Sarah's spy cover involved a fake relationship that had them pretending to be boyfriend and girlfriend, which was complicated by the very real feelings they hid from each other (one of them more convincingly than the other). Lampshaded in "Chuck Versus the Beard," by Morgan, which makes it particularly funny. During the third season the pretend relationship became real, and in the fourth season Chuck proposed and they became engaged and then married.
  • Becoming the Mask:
  • For Sarah, the line between "Chuck's cover girlfriend" and "Chuck's real girlfriend" starts to blur real fast.
  • Chuck also counts, having become more and more like his super-spy alter ego Charles Carmichael as the series has progressed.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension:
    • Chuck and Sarah tend to avoid this trope, but there's a textbook example with their sparring before their first kiss in "Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami".
    • Casey and Gertrude.
  • Berserk Button:
    • After the new Intersect is installed in his head, Sarah is clearly Chuck's. It is important to note that Chuck has a bit of Power Incontinence, though: he has trouble flashing if he is under emotional duress. So, Sarah can be a bit of a Power Limiter at times as well. Of course, there are exceptions: as Shaw's fate proves, if you're about to kill Sarah, Chuck won't bother trying to flash if he's got a gun. He'll just kill you. Note that this is pretty much the only situation in which he would kill.
    • The same goes for Sarah when Chuck is in mortal danger as well:
      • In "Chuck Versus the First Date," when it looks as though Chuck has been dropped off a high building by Michael Clarke Duncan, Sarah goes into rage mode in an attempt to avenge her lost love and manages to hold her own for a bit.
      • As well, in "Chuck Versus Santa Claus", when a FULCRUM agent tells her that her reluctance to kill him (the agent) in cold blood (we've only seen her shoot people in combat up to this point) will ensure that all of FULCRUM knows Chuck's secret, Sarah pulls the trigger with little hesitation not knowing that Chuck saw her. Chuck freaked out watching Sarah actually kill someone.
      • Sarah went totally off the reservation while trying to find a kidnapped Chuck in "Chuck Versus Phase Three," even going so far as to threaten a diplomat with death by lethal injection if he didn't tell her where his employer was keeping Chuck.
    • Casey has several, notably insinuating that he likes Chuck (at least at the start of season 2).
    • By the start of season 4, Casey has grown fond enough of Chuck that when it appears that he's just been killed, he tells the man who made the order that he's "going to rip [him] limb from limb... from limb".
      • Casey also gets pissed when his friends and family, especially his daughter Alex, are threatened. Look no further than in "Chuck Versus the Business Trip" for proof.
    • Do not mess with the Buy More around Big Mike.
  • Beta Couple: Ellie and Awesome. Morgan and Anna in Season 2, Morgan and Alex in Season 4, Casey and Verbanski in Season 5.
    • Although it also seems that Ellie and Awesome see Chuck and Sarah as a beta couple to them
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Played with regarding Hannah and Sarah. Sarah is ostensibly the Veronica of the pair, but she's really about as sweet and loving as Hannah... it's just that she buries it beneath a thin veneer of professionalism. She really isn't a Tsundere or Jerkass by any measure and in fact is deeply troubled by Chuck's growing (if still very minor) ruthlessness.
      • Anyone shipped with Chuck (Lou, Jill, Hannah) is the Betty. Also, Anna was the Betty to Ellie's Veronica when it came to Morgan.
    • Chuck and Bryce/Cole/Shaw are male examples.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn:
    • Chuck frequently carries the Idiot Ball, but he also has a government intelligence database in his head; Sarah is frickin' Yvonne Strahotski, and Casey is, well, Adam Baldwin. Of course, being TV spies, the relative Beauty/Brains/Brawn quotients of Sarah and Casey are all well above average. To be fair, Casey and Sarah also happen to be well trained spies who know a lot about technology, politics, and espionage. And since Chuck Took a Level in Badass at the end of season two, the whole dynamic is completely screwed to hell. Beauty, Brains, and Brawn may be the specialty of Sarah, Chuck and Casey, but they're not overspecialized to the detriment of everything else.
  • Big Bad: None present in Season One, but subsequent seasons have had them:
    • Season Two: Ted Roark.
    • Season Three: Daniel Shaw
    • The Ring Director ultimately controlled the villains of the first three seasons, even being responsible for Daniel Shaw becoming evil, until he was captured during season three. After that the organization was run by its senior members.
    • Season Four: Alexei Volkoff although he is almost an AntiHero due to only being evil thanks to the computer in his head
      • And later, Vivian Volkoff.
    • Season Five: Clyde Decker, his boss Daniel Shaw, and finally Nicholas Quinn.
  • The Big Board:
    • It's revealed in "Chuck Versus the Lethal Weapon" that Chuck has one hidden on the back of his TRON poster.
    • There's also the tactical plan he and Morgan made in "Chuck Versus the Push Mix".
    • Also Jeff's big board in "Chuck Versus the Kept Man".
  • Big Damn Heroes: Really, just about every time Casey saves Chuck and Sarah. Which is roughly Once an Episode. More listed in the individual episodes section below.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In "Chuck Versus the Last Details," Morgan pretends to attend a meeting as Ettore La Barba. "La Barba" means "The Beard".
  • Bittersweet Ending: Quinn has been killed, but Chuck needs to re-upload the Intersect to disarm a bomb at the cost of potentially being able to use it to restore Sarah's memories; Team Bartowski/Carmichael Industries disbands, but Beckman leaves the door open for them to return to the CIA; Subway purchases the Buy More; Alex and Morgan move in together; Devon and Ellie take new jobs in Chicago; Jeffster! is signed by a German Record Executive, and Casey leaves to take up Verbanski's offer; Sarah still has no memories of the last 5 years, but Chuck promises to stay with her and they intend to rebuild their relationship by making new memories instead.
  • Blade Enthusiast: Sarah's preferred weapons are throwing daggers, and will have a number of them hidden away in various places. She'll also use them to cut cheeseburgers and mute her alarm clock. This was mostly dropped by the third season, where she defaults to guns instead of knives. Perhaps to align her more with classic spies to play up what she fears Chuck will become.
  • Bland-Name Product: The Buy More is an obvious stand in for Best Buy, including a price tag shaped logo and the Nerd Herd replacing the Geek Squad, complete with shirt/tie/pocket protector uniform replacing the single color polo of a normal employee.
    • Orange Orange's logo's font is nearly identical to Orange Julius.
    • Large Mart is a stand in for either Wal mart or Costco, it's never specified. In one episode, Harry Tang mentions Large Mart and Costco in the same breath.
  • Blessed with Suck: The Intersect really messes with Chuck's life, with little personal benefit. He and everyone around him is in constant danger (even his handlers might "disappear" him), leaving him in fear and anxiety. He's seen others get tortured, shot and/or killed by people hunting for him. He's forced to lie to and disappoint his friends and family, he has no privacy at all, and he has no shot at a real romantic relationship while he remains cursed. Spy business and Chuck's potential to carry the Curse led to betrayal or abandonment by at least his father (after his mother had already left), his girlfriend and his friend, who got him kicked out of Stanford, which is what put his life on hold in the first place. He does get a few fringe benefits from his undercover work, though, such as finally getting his degree, and getting to hang out with Sarah Walker. At the end of season 2 the curse gets a little more awesome when the Intersect 2.0 gives him enough kung fu skills to disarm four armed combatants, some of them across the room, and who knows what other powers. but also needs to be constantly controlled or he'll lose his mind.
    • In the fifth season, the Intersect really wreaks havoc on Chuck's life, but this time with his closest friend Morgan and loving wife Sarah in the crosshairs. With both Morgan and Sarah, the Intersectnote  nearly destroyed their mindsnote .
  • Blipvert: How the audience sees Chuck using the Intersect to flash on something or someone significant.
  • Bodyguard Crush:
    • Chuck has a crush on Sarah, who might be is also interested in him.
    • Lou Ferrigno played a mook in love with his fashion model / Volkoff agent boss in "Chuck Versus The Suitcase".
  • Book Ends:
    • The Season 1 finale ends with a confrontation on a rooftop helipad, the same helipad where Sarah and Casey revealed the truth of the Intersect to Chuck in the pilot.
    • The first and last times we see Bryce, he's in an Intersect room. The similar composition of the shots makes it very clear that this was intentional.
    • Sarah replicates the combat moves Bryce Larkin used to escape the hallway outside the intersect room in the pilot while breaking into an identical hallway outside another intersect room in the penultimate episode of the series, "Chuck Versus Sarah".
    • The Grand Finale provides three: one for Chuck's spy life, one for his relationship with Sarah, and one for the show in general.
      • Episode one has Chuck disarming a bomb with the "Irene Demova" computer virus, hidden on the website of a porn star of the same name; the same situation occurs in the final episode.
      • The pilot ends with Sarah finding Chuck sat on a beach uncertain of his future, and asking him to trust her; the final episode has the exact same spot on the beach, but with Chuck and Sarah's roles reversed.
      • Finally, instead of using "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" in the final episode, the title sequence is replaced with the original Chuck title card (his name sliding in from the left and out the right). The same title card gets used after the fade to black.
  • Break Them by Talking: The Director does this to Daniel Shaw and it is later done to Vivian Volkoff in season four.
  • Brought Down to Normal: After Chuck gets hit with the suppression flash in "Chuck Versus the First Fight," he spends at least a month trying to reactivate the Intersect, including getting a trainer that forces him in extremely dangerous situations. This does not end well for him.
    • Not to worry, Orion left a with a reactivation flash. Chuck knows kung fu... again.
    • Done again in the season four finale. During his attempt to save Sarah he makes enemies with the CIA and they remove it. This time he isn't as lucky and Morgan got it instead. Fortunately, at this point, Chuck's regular spy training means he was brought down to Badass Normal instead of his old level of normal.
    • This trope is subverted in the Series Finale when Chuck receives the final pure intersect.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • Chuck is turning into a spy version of this. He is geeky, overly talkative, naïve, and even a Technical Pacifist, all of which are very bad traits for a spy, or at least are very bizarre. Good thing he also has encyclopedic knowledge of the spy business and access to almost every trainable skill that he could ever need.
    • By the end, he is this even without the intersect, thanks to his advanced computer knowledge, out of the box thinking, and even his ability to use his nebbishness to bluff his opponents.
    • The rest of the Nerd Herd are this outside of the spy world. They're all kinds of awkward, dorkish, and socially inept, but can fix just about anything.
  • Butt-Monkey: Morgan. Before he found out Chuck was a spy he had to be kept away from all the spy stuff, and every time the easiest way to do that just happened to result in humiliating him. His ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend is involved with the Triad? To keep the Triad from killing him, Chuck tells them he's a stalker. Chuck drugs him to keep him out of a fight? Morgan assumes he fainted in fear and Chuck lets him think that. During and after he found out Chuck was a spy, he's trying to get involved and help out, which he is totally unqualified for, so if he merely gets yelled at and treated like a buffoon he's lucky. "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners" had Morgan get shot down when trying to hit on someone who turned out to be an assassin, need to be pushed into a train because he's carrying too much junk, gets used for Grievous Harm with a Body by Casey, and yelled at by the general.
    • Fulcrum agent Vincent has a lot of this, too. He's been blown up, shot, poisoned, beaten, and blown up again... in his first episode. His two subsequent appearances kept it up, including a beating at the hands of Chuck's dad, getting run over by Chuck, and getting smashed with a radiator by Casey. In the end, he is blown up again, but... Come on.
  • Captain Obvious:
    Chuck: Casey, he's got Sarah. We've got to save her.
    Casey: Brilliant deduction, Nancy Drew.
    • "Chuck Versus the Predator":
    Chuck: Oh, oh, oh, you're — you're not dead.
    • "Chuck Versus the Three Words":
    Chuck: Well, we've got to get it before it falls into enemy hands.
    Carina: Thanks for being on the case, Nancy Drew.
  • Casting Gag: All over the place. Especially from season 2 onward you'll be hard-pressed to find a major or minor character who is not a geek culture icon. Actor Allusions are pretty much a guarantee.
  • Catch Phrases:
    • "Don't freak out," and more frequently, some variant of "Chuck, stay in the car." The latter is also a Running Gag because he never does.
      • On one occasion he did stay in the car, and the car turned out to be the worst place he could have been.
      • He lampshades this at the beginning of "Chuck Versus the First Date", when, upon being asked why he didn't stay in the car, he shouts "You know what? It's never safe in the car!"
      • Hasn't been used since Season 3, now that the Intersect 2.0 has made Chuck a competent spy, but invoked when Ellie orders Chuck out of the car in "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II."
    • The phrase "It's complicated" is also used frequently, especially when talking about Sarah and Chuck's relationship. Used less frequently now that their relationship is now less complicated.
    • Sarah telling Chuck that "You can have everything you've always wanted." By which she means herself.
    • When Sarah says "I'll be right out", chances are you don't want to miss what happens next.
    • Also, Devon's "Awesome!" (Hence the nickname.)
    • Casey: his grunts, "moron!" and "Bartowski" — sometimes in the same sentence
    • "I know kung fu," referring to the Intersect 2.0.
    • "Come on, flash!" Chuck, attempting to focus his flashing capabilities. Mostly used in season 3, and a little in season 4.
    • "Aces, Charles," a "dad quote" usually made by Ellie, but occasionally by Stephen himself.
    • "Oh boy," comes up at times during moments of particular surprise after the first appearance by Stephen, also doubling as a Shout-Out and Actor Allusion.
  • Cat Fight: Sarah always engages in catfights during missions, such as with her childhood rival Heather Chandler (who has turned rogue as a Fulcrum agent) in "Chuck Versuss The Cougars" or with Ring agent Sophia Stepanova on the runway catwalk in "Chuck Versus The Suitcase".
  • Celebrity Paradox: The James Bond franchise as well as shows like The O.C. and Smallville all exist in the Chuck yet they never notice the likes of Rachel Bilson, Kristin Kreuk and Timothy Dalton walking amongst them.
    • Chuck & Morgan are huge Star Wars fans & Casey's familiar enough with the series to torture Morgan by having him watch The Phantom Menace first & then spoiling that Vader's the father of Luke & Leia, but none of them notice that they're stealing a vase from Luke Skywalker at the start of season 5.
    • Chuck scoffs when a bad guy chooses "Ivan Drago" as his fake name, but pays no mind when Dolph Lundgren appears in the next season.
    • A season 4 episode involves some tension with Alex wearing Morgan's unworn Back to the Future shirt, even though Christopher Lloyd was Chuck's therapist in the previous season.
    • You can't learn anything about being a spy from Chevy Chase, even if he was Roark
    • When Chuck sees some other agents in action he compares them to Terminators, but somehow doesn't realize his mom is Sarah Connor.
    • Perhaps the biggest: Die Hard gets name-dropped in the series, and yet Sgt. Al Powell himself (who is even played by Reginald Vel Johnson) is Big Mike's cousin!
    • Morgan channel surfs past Night Court while trying to name as many shows as possible during the first season, though nobody notices that Roan Montgomery really looks a lot like Dan Fielding.
    • How did Chuck miss that his therapist was Doc Brown? Especially after all that business with the DeMorgan?
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Despite retaining the charm that makes Chuck... well, Chuck, the third season has managed to hit some very dark territory concerning the lengths Chuck has to go through in order to become a spy, and the toll that keeping the secret from his closest friends and family takes on him.
  • Character Development:
    • Chuck definitely becomes more competent over time and is much less cowed by Sarah and Casey than he was originally.
    • Morgan is also being dragged kicking and screaming down this path, mostly at the urging of Awesome. Arguably, he's the one with the most character development. He is also slowly becoming a competent member of Team Bartowski, starting from "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners".
    • Sarah becoming less emotionally repressed and being more receptive and open about her feelings regarding Chuck.
    • There's Casey being less antagonistic towards Chuck and even sticking up for him and Sarah, as well as his hard-ass facade being gradually giving way at times.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: This show averages at least one Chekhov's Gun per episode, sometimes more. Many of them first appear in the Buy More-related subplot. It also relies on season-spanning Chekhov's Guns. If one were so inclined, the list could be longer than the Shout-Out entry.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Pretty much requisite of the one-shot characters. Most notably, though:
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: See section Put on a Bus below, especially concerning Anna Wu.
  • City of Adventure: A staggering number of terrorist plots focus on or are based in the greater Los Angeles area, or just have leaders who have vacation homes or functions to attend there. And by the end of the second season it becomes apparent that at least some spy activity is taking place there because that's where the Intersect is.
  • Cliffhanger Copout: At the end of the Season 4 finale, CIA Big Bad Decker implies that all of the events of the series have been connected as some sort of grand conspiracy, and nothing was a coincidence. In the following season, it turns out that Decker is just being blackmailed into working for Shaw, and Decker implying he had anything to do with the events of the first three seasons was just to get in Chuck's head.
    Decker: You think it was all a coincidence? The Intersect? FULCRUM, The Ring, Shaw, Agent X? That was all just part of the plan Bartowski. Pieces on the puzzle board.
  • Cloak and Dagger: The Good Guy agencies are nominally the CIA and the NSA, though they bear little resemblance to their real-world counterparts. The Bad Guy organizations, FULCRUM, The Ring, and Volkoff Industries seem largely made up of rogue espionage agents.
  • Colonel Badass: Casey as of the episode "Chuck Versus the Colonel".
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Agents of FULCRUM and The Ring predominantly wear black and other dark shades. In Burbank, California. No one finds this conspicuous, despite most of the enforcers being over six feet tall and weighing in excess of 240 pounds. Subverted in that Sarah and Casey often wear black also, when doing combat/reconnaissance ops, but hardly ever when in public and needing to be undercover.
    • Played straight in the "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II," as Chuck is wearing a white shirt, and Shaw is wearing a black shirt.
    • Similarly any electronics used by the bad guys will be in their standard colors (FULCRUM Red and Ring Green). Even Chuck's FULCRUM intersect shows up in red.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Though she has a preference for throwing knives, Sarah will kick your ass with anything that's handy.
    • Casey gets in on this as well, especially when there are enemy agents inside the Buy More.
    Casey (after having knocked a guy out with a thrown microwave): "Now that's what I call moving some merchandise."
  • Combo Platter Powers: The Intersect 2.0. Abilities Chuck has used so far include: kung fu; judo; parkour; gymnastics; zip-lining with a belt; boxing; bomb defusion; flamenco guitar; dancing through laser tripwires; ballroom dancing; speaking Thai, French, and Japanese; Improbable Aiming Skills with pen, tranquilizer gun, and nacho platter; bullet-dodging; field medicine; fencing; staff-fighting; and using nunchucks (though he never used them in combat, the Intersect did teach him how!).
  • Comically Missing the Point: Many characters have a tendency to do this, but a special mention has to go out to Chuck.
    Fulcrum Agent: The microchip, now.
    Bryce: Release the kid first.
    Chuck: Kid, honestly, we're born in the same year!
  • The Comically Serious: Casey. General Beckman can also be amusing on account of her humorlessness.
  • Comic Trio: Lester, Jeff, and Big Mike, in the roles of The Leader, The Fool, and the Only Sane Man, respectively.
  • Consummate Liar:
    • In "Chuck Versus the Truth", under the influence of poisonous Truth Serum, Sarah claims that there is no chance she and Chuck could ever have a real relationship. He doesn't know she can resist truth serum, so he believes her.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler", Captain Awesome is stunned with how easily Chuck can lie to Ellie.
  • Continuity Snarl: As well as it tries to avoid them, the show can't help but leave a couple tangled messes.
    • The history of the Intersect alone is a rather confusing mess of retcons. For starters, Stephen was completely unaware of what changes were made by the government to Fulcrum's Intersect to create the Intersect 2.0 that Chuck downloaded at the end of season 2, suggesting that the implanted abilities are completely new and not part of Stephen's original design. In fact when he challenged Bryce about the changed code, Bryce specifically told him he doesn't want to know. By the end of the third season he was expecting them. It goes even further in season 4 and 5, when not only was the Intersect used to completely change Hartley's personality to create Volkoff, but the revelation that the Intersect was designed to implant abilities as a teaching tool.
  • Not to mention that the original Intersect was supposed to be a sharing of information between the 2 agencies and was NOT intended to be implanted in someone’s mind. Then later retconned that that was what it was supposed to do, between the agent it was really supposed to be put in, and the fact that Stephan designed it as such.
    • Go ahead, try and make sense of Casey's and Sarah's backgrounds. I dare ya.
      • Casey is probably the worst offender, due to a Multiple-Choice Past that directly conflicts different facts about his history. The name "John Casey" is unknown prior to 1989 when he faked his death to join a Marine Corps special forces unit. Despite the fact he claims to have been assigned by Beckman—who is not aware of his birth name of Alex Coburn prior to opening Casey's file when he made an apparent Face–Heel Turn—to assassinate Alejadro Goya on three separate occasions since the early 1980s. Oh, and his "fruit salad" of decorations includes medals awarded for service during the Vietnam War, which Casey would have been too young to receive even if you assume he's in his mid-20s by the time he joined Keller's unit in 1989!
      • Sarah is not quite as bad an offender, but it's still difficult to fit together all of the pieces of her history. She was apparently recruited by Director Graham in 1998, after he arrested her father to protect him from a con gone wrong. Sarah's history between 1998 and the early 2000s is largely unknown, but somehow she managed to fit: graduating high school, (her father was arrested before graduation, as classmates teased her as "jailbird's daughter") attending Harvard, (according to the official site) serving on the CAT Squad beginning at an unknown date to 2003, her "Red Test" in 2005, partnering with Bryce from 2005 to when he apparently turned rogue, and being assigned a handler as her last mission before being sent after Chuck in 2007 (when the series premiered). She also spent a year with the Secret Service. That's quite a bit to fit into the amount of time allowed.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Vivian Volkoff in season four.
  • Cool Big Sis: Ellie
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Chuck and the team have saved the day in ways so outrageous, they'd almost be more at home in the Stargate-verse.
  • Crazy Workplace: The Buy More is a big-box electronics store where Chuck is the Only Sane Employee on account of all his coworkers being nuts, especially the duo of Jeff and Lester. One episode turns the delivery cage into a full cage fight arena where Anna uses a camera tripod as a Telescoping Staff to beat up a Jerk Jock from a neighboring store.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Sarah is the reason why Daniel Shaw betrayed the CIA because she was assigned to kill Shaw's wife as her final exam. Also the CIA itself for suspecting Shaw's wife of being involved with The Ring and having them watched over.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: References to the Bartowski parents early in the series. Until the end of the first season, all we know about them is that the mom had left while the dad was perhaps mentally ill ( actually Properly Paranoid) before he too left.
  • Cut Short: Averted, and this will take a while. Season 1 was initially ordered for 13 episodes, and 9 more episodes were ordered but unmade due to the Writers Strike; NBC ordered a second season (With 22 episodes off the bat), which ended on a major cliffhanger that appeared to be going unresolved until a last minute renewal spurred by the campaigns of the passionate fanbase. Seasons 3 & 4 were initially ordered as 13 episodes, but after seeing the quality of what was being filmed, NBC ordered more episodes (6 in Season 3, 11 in Season 4) after the intended finale (Which had been written as a potential Grand Finale) begun production. Towards the end of each season, fan campaigns started up again & NBC announced the renewal before the season finale had aired, which ended on a cliff hanger. After the announcement of the fifth season, again lasting 13 episodes, it was quickly revealed that it was also going to be the final season, finally averting this trope.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Both of Chuck's parents walked out on him and Ellie because they were secretly working for the government and wanted to avoid getting their children tangled up in their dangerous lives.
  • Deadly Delivery: Shows up at least once, when a courier picking up a package decides to also kill the guy he's getting it from.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Daniel Shaw, in the third season. Though it is later revealed he was Not Quite Dead.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "We will not stop, and we cannot stop, and we will not... stop."
  • Depraved Bisexual: Jeff has some serious leanings towards this. He's ultra-lecherous, a "world class stalker" and the stuff he says while he and Lester are following Shaw is especially creepy.
  • Designated Girl Fight: A general, handy guide to how the final fight will play out in each episode:
    Does the terrorist of the week have a penis? He will be defeated through some combination of Sarah, Chuck, and/or Casey.
    Does the terrorist have a vagina? She will engage in, and ultimately lose, a physical fight to Sarah. Both will be in skimpy, possibly wet clothing. And do lots of flips.
    • Not that this is a hard-and-fast rule; "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome" features a female agent who is simply shot dead by Daniel Shaw. Earlier, she also handed Sarah a rare defeat in fisticuffs
    • Casey does also take out his share of female baddies.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Characters seem to have a giant blind spot for the fact that the watch keeping tabs on Chuck's location can be removed. In multiple episodes, Sarah and Casey will blindly trust the GPS location of Chuck's watch while Chuck himself is actively sneaking somewhere else or being kidnapped.
  • Different in Every Episode: The wall of TVs at the Buy More tend to display images relevant to the episode. For example in "Chuck Versus The Fat Lady", the TVs show What's Opera, Doc?.
  • Dirty Communists:
    • Premier Goya was this before he turned Costa Gravas into a democracy; Casey still refers to him as one.
    • Volkoff Industries' logo is red with a fist holding a hammer. Also, the passphrase to Volkoff's Hydra computer network is a (fictional) quote from Joseph Stalin.
  • Disappeared Dad: Stephen Bartowski, played by the awesome Scott Bakula, tried to take care of his son and daughter after his wife disappeared but ended up vanishing himself for years on end. This might also be a Shout-Out to Quantum Leap, the show for which Scott is most widely known, as the father of his character in that show was this trope, too.
    • Casey himself had unknowingly been a disappeared dad to his daughter Alex.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The Ring Director, although his appearances were few, had in fact been controlling almost all of the villains in the first three seasons, including Ted Roark, who seemed to be the boss beforehand.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Casey is pretty much the mascot of this trope as he was (initially) willing to comply with Beckman's orders to kill Chuck for possessing the Intersect even though he never wanted it in the first place, tortured and brainwashed Lester into respecting Morgan, threatened Morgan that if he breaks his daughter's heart Casey will break Morgan's ''everything'', and it is also applied that he wanted to kill Harry Tang when Chuck asked him about it.
    • Emmett takes a bullet in the eye for calling a Ring assassin a pussy because he is Too Dumb to Live. Earlier in the same episode, Chuck nearly strangled him and had trouble maintaining control.
    • Daniel Shaw's Face–Heel Turn is implied to be this. After he found out that Sarah killed his wife even though she was assigned to do and had no idea who she really is, he immediately turned rogue to the Ring, tried to drown Sarah, planned on taking over the CIA, killed Chuck's father and also tried to kill Chuck Sarah and Casey and pretty much anyone else who sides with them.
  • Distressed Dude: Chuck, gets kidnapped very often, due to him being in the possession of the Intersect, who's the series MacGuffin. Even when he Took a Level in Badass he still kept getting kidnapped.
  • Doesn't Like Guns:
    • Chuck hates guns, but mostly since he hates killing, which is the reason why he brought nunchucks on his first solo mission. He also had no problem using tranq guns.
    • Shaw hates guns (or so he claims), but he uses them all the time.
  • Dramatic Drop: All the time. Chuck drops the phone when he notices Sarah for the first time, drops Morgan's grape soda when Carina shows up in a ski mask to take a diamond, drops the FedEx package with the same diamond in it when Casey suddenly slams a goon, drops his wallet when Harry Tang startles him, drops his phone again when scary Mr. Bennett surprises him, drops a bottle of champagne when he sees Sarah dancing very affectionately with Bryce, drops a bottle of beer when Jenny McCarthy's character tries to seduce him, and drops his keys when Sarah walks into the living room in lingerie. In the Pineapple Incident, shortly after Morgan drops a box on Jeff's head, Big Mike drops his Danish to make a dash to keep people from leaving the store, and in a later episode he drops his tackle box when he receives word of a security breach at the Buy More.
  • Dramedy: The premise of the show being a nerd getting involved in the spy world, so the story has a humorous tone, even in the times when it gets serious and the characters are in real danger.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: By the end of season 4, Chuck's Charles Carmichael alias has achieved a Memetic Badass reputation in the Chuckverse, to the point that many highly experienced and very dangerous spies have acknowledged him as a Worthy Opponent, the CIA calls on him for their toughest assignments, and he was responsible for directly taking down two major rogue espionage cabals (one of which very nearly took total control of the CIA) and the world's most dangerous arms dealer, and thwarted scores of mercenaries, terrorists and other major threats to national security. One would think that when the word got out Charles Carmichael was going freelance Carmichael Industries would have had potential clients lined up out the door.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Sarah and Casey often quibble with each other in the first few episodes. In fact the second episode spends most of it's plot with Casey and Chuck thinking Sarah's the Big Bad. She's not.
    • In the first episode, Casey orders his men to kill Sarah, a CIA agent. Later characterization makes it hard to believe that Casey would knowingly kill an American agent.
    • There was no Castle in Season 1, so Team Bartowski would converse with Generals Beckman & Graham in the Buy More's home theatre.
      • On that note, General Beckman being joined by Director Graham.
    • Sarah's cover job at the Wienerlicious was only in Season 1.
    • Sarah's genuine romantic affection for Chuck was only hinted at -usually by other characters- for the first eight episodes, and most of the ninth. Only after the Big Damn Kiss, is their mutual tension treated as a fact.
    • Jeff & Lester take most of the first season to grow into the characterization that would see them through to the end of the series.
    • The Intersect itself. In the pilot episode, it takes all night for it to be uploaded into Chuck's brain (which, given the massive volume of information, is at least halfway reasonable). In later seasons it only takes a few minutes.
    • Initially the intersect triggered when Chuck saw something connected to the image file that the intersect hid it's information in. This soon became too coincidental and after that, his flashes are more likely to trigger off of facial recognition or key words or items.
    • Also the first season treats the Intersect as a massive combined database, but that Chuck accidentally uploading it to his brain was never it's intended function. Later seasons Retcon this into being it's designed function.
  • Egocentric Team Naming: Operation Bartowski, later Team Bartowski. Notably, the namesake didn't actually name the team in this case.
  • Embarrassing Cover Up
    • Chuck occasionally blames Sarah's absence on a supposed spastic colon. "A girl that beautiful with a colon that spastic."
    • Chuck covering for Awesome by telling Ellie that Casey had been arrested for getting drunk and publicly urinating and exposing himself.
      • This manages to be a Brick Joke in later episodes.'
  • Enter Stage Window: Affectionately referred to as the "Morgan Door."
  • Everyone Can See It: Chuck and Sarah are an interesting example. Everyone in Chuck's private life is supposed to be able to see it - since they are a devoted couple, as far as any of them know - but the people who know that it's supposed to be an act (Casey, Bryce, Beckman, Roan, etc.) also see it. Then played completely straight in early Season 3, when the two are going through a rough patch - and everyone still sees it.
    • In Season 2's "Chuck Versus the Break-Up," Chuck (annoyed at having Bryce back in town and at having to pose as a waiter while Bryce poses as Sarah's husband) blows off Sarah's "How do I look?" instead of complimenting her when she comes out in her evening gown before the elegant-party-infiltration-of-the-week mission. Sarah looks hurt and disappointed... and the confused, concerned look on Bryce's face shows he's immediately noticed it and begun to suspect the feelings between Chuck and Sarah aren't one-sided.
    • Ellie is convinced that Chuck's mysterious new girlfriend is really into him in "Chuck Versus the Tango". (Granted, it could be Ellie just falling for the ruse.)
    • Ellie sees it again in Season 3's "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte", when she questions Sarah about the topic.
    • Carina - who knows of the ruse and sees right through it - realizes that Sarah wants Chuck for herself in "Chuck Versus The Wookiee".
    • Carina again in Season 3, "Chuck Versus the Three Words".
    • Casey can tell that Sarah's unhappy with - and jealous of - Chuck's relationship with Lou in "Chuck Versus The Imported Hard Salami".
    • Casey still sees it in Season 3's "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip".
    • In "Chuck Versus The DeLorean" Sarah's father correctly diagnoses Chuck (whom he's known for all of two days) to be seriously in love with Sarah. By this point in the series, their mutual affection is not news to her.
    • After Morgan learns Chuck's secret in "Chuck Versus the Beard", he more or less cites the trope name to point out that there's no way Chuck's relationship with Sarah was all for show.
    • Even the two stooges of the Buy More see it.
    Jeff: Don't you get it? None of them matter. Chuck may try to replace her, but when he's with Sarah, the light in his eyes shines brightly.
    • Sarah childhood bully Heather can also see it, and loves teasing her about it when they meet. In "Chuck Versus The Cubic Z", she able to tell from their body language that they're had a Relationship Upgrade, and immediately makes them uncomfortable by asking Chuck if Sarah is really a Sex Goddess.
  • Everyone's in the Loop: Usually. Anytime there's a big secret between two characters, it's only an episode or two before it's resolved. The one big exception is the Status Quo of Chuck, Sarah and Casey's spy status.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Chuck has Daniel Shaw as of the end of season 3.
    • Shaw is also Sarah's Evil Counterpart in that they both hid their intense romantic passions behind a facade of professionalism.
    • You could also argue that, while not explicitly evil, Lester is definitely a bitter, sleazy mirror to Chuck in his civilian life.
    • Emmett Milbarge is a dark reflection of Chuck if he never leaves the Buy More.
    • Stephen Bartowski and Ted Roark.
    • Jill is the Evil Counterpart for both Chuck and Bryce. Like Chuck she was initially scared of being a spy. Like Bryce, she betrayed Chuck; unlike Bryce, she did it for heinous reasons.
  • Expy:
    • Casey is one of Jayne Cobb - down to the same initials.
    • Most of the more competent non-main character spies have at least some measure of James Bond in them (the rest by and large trend toward MiB Shout-outs):
      • Cole Barker is Daniel Craig's Bond;
      • Roan Montgomery is Sean Connery's Bond; post-retirement.
      • Bryce is Pierce Brosnan's bond;
      • Even Charles Carmichael seems to be based on Roger Moore's Bond (though when he does his Bond impression, it's using Connery's accent).
      • Sarah could be described as a gender-flipped Bond, minus the sex drive.
    • Timothy Dalton plays a Bond Villain.
    • Casey's old team is an evil version of The A-Team.
    • In "Chuck Versus the CAT Squad", the all-female CAT Squad, Sarah's old team, is obviously based on Charlie's Angels.
    • Alejandro Goya is basically Fidel Castro up until his debut where he decides to resign his office and hold free elections. But his backstory and his past deeds are very heavily based on Castro.
  • Evil Mentor: Mr. Riley to Vivian Volkoff.
  • Fake Defector: In Season 4, Sarah fakes defection into Volkoff Industies in order to rescue Chuck's mother, Mary.
  • Fake Guest Star: Bonita Friedricy appears as General Beckman in 78 out of 91 episodes, but only receives opening credits billing in Season 4.
  • Fictional Counterpart:
    • Buy More is a stand-in for Best Buy, and instead of a Geek Squad, they have a Nerd Herd.
    • Interestingly enough, they use Large Mart as a Costco stand in, but it's mentioned in the same breath as the real Costco.
    • The Wienerlicious was a stand-in for Wienerschnitzel, and its replacement (the Orange Orange) for Orange Julius. Even the logos are similar.
  • First-Episode Twist: It's fairly difficult to describe the series without divulging the contents of that e-mail that Bryce sends to Chuck.
  • Five-Token Band: The Buy More lot. Anna Wu is an Asian, Lester is a twofer (Jewish-Indian), Big Mike, Morgan, and... Jeff, who claims to be one quarter Native American. Lampshaded by Big Mike when he said he couldn't fire Morgan because he was the Buy More's token Hispanic.
  • Flanderization: Lester and Jeff suffer from this. In the season 5 though Jeff is 'cured' and returns to much more like his original self from season one
  • Four-Man Band: The Buy More sales crew fall pretty neatly into these roles, especially in the occasions they team up outside the store - with Chuck as the Only Sane Man, Morgan as The Smart Guy (at least by Buy More standards), Lester as the Casanova Wannabe and Jeff as the Butt-Monkey.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sarah's old team, "The CAT Squad": Sarah (Melancholic), Carina (Phlegmatic), Amy (Sanguine) and Zondra (Choleric). Remember, Zondra is the "bitch" and Carina is the "mellow" one.
  • Freeze-Frame Introduction: One episode featured the members of Casey's former unit, introducing them with a caption with their name and skills. Near the end, Morgan gets a similar listing. His skills are listed as "None".
  • Freudian Excuse: One is used to motivate Shaw's Face–Heel Turn. It turns out that Sarah is the one who killed his wife while Just Following Orders.
  • Freudian Trio:
    • Chuck = Id, Sarah = Ego, Casey = Superego.
    • Casey as the Id, Sarah as the Ego, and Chuck as the Super Ego. Casey is more prone to violent, straightforward solutions and is eager for action; Sarah has a much healthier balance of killer instinct and spy stealth; and Chuck is the planner, who always prefers the least violent and most elaborate spy-type approach.
  • Friend to All Children:
    • Chuck is shown to be really good with kid customers at the Buy More, and the pilot has him help tape a young girl dancing ballet in front of the video wall for her mother, after her father failed to tape the actual recital.
    • Volkoff claims to be one.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Subverted, Ellie and Awesome are two doctors living in what looks to be a rather average apartment with Chuck. Granted, it is a fairly nice apartment and they might be non-specialist residents, but even still in their financial situation their excess cash has to be ridiculous.
    • Played straight in Season 3, when Ellie and Awesome move out, and the apartment becomes a bachelor pad for Chuck and Morgan. While the apartment was not opulent for two doctors, it is a little for two retail workers who make $11 (whoops, sorry... $12.50) an hour. The obvious explanation is that the government picks up Chuck's tab - but only a small circle of people is supposed to know that, yet no one ever wonders where the money comes from.
  • Funeral Cut: The fourth season ends with Sarah getting poisoned just after getting engaged to Chuck. The finale has Chuck negotiate the antidote and administer it to Sarah, but it apparently has no effect. Cut to commercial and cut back to a church with a sign reading "Funeral and viewing". Pan down to reveal the sign also says "Walker-Bartowski wedding".
  • Girlish Pigtails: Sarah for her undercover job in season 1.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Duh. A smoulderin' hot superspy sets her sights on a nerdy computer repairman. All three of Chuck's Romantic False Leads also count. Then there's Morgan with Anna and later Alex.
  • Glassy Prison: The holding cells in Castle.
  • Go-to Alias:
    • Chuck introduced the idea of Charles Carmichael, —invokedthe successful version of himself, in the third episode, "Chuck Versus the Tango". Over the course of season 2 it becomes so associated with him that it ends up as one of his operating aliases. In one episode people are congratulating him as both "Bartowski" and "Carmichael" as he walks through a crowd.
    • Further down the line, Morgan decides to take up the alias "Michael Carmichael," Charles's brother.
  • Good Girl Gone Bad: Vivian in season four.
  • The Good Captain: The Awesome Captain is awesome, and a doctor as well.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The CIA. They are clearly unable to control the Intersect project, yet keep rebuilding it only for it to fall into enemy hands. They are susceptible to being taken over by enemy agents, as seen in the Season 3 finale, and they pulled a Create Your Own Villain with both Daniel Shaw (by assassinating his wife on suspicion she was a traitor) and Alexei Volkoff (by brainwashing Hartley Winterbottom into assuming his personality). They're also not above killing civilians and their own loyal agents to protect their secrets. Personified by Clyde Decker, the Arc Villain of the Season 4 finale and the first half of Season 5.
  • Guile Hero: Chuck, both before and after he Took a Level in Badass at the end of Season 2:
    • "I'm a CIA agent, and this is my trap. I don't think you gentlemen recognize the gravity of the predicament you're in."
    • "Did you know your Buy More associate can also help you with video conferencing?"
    • "I can't believe you haven't figured out the solution yet."
  • Gun Nut: Casey is one as you'd expect one of the world's greatest gunmen and snipers to be. He has gun hidden everywhere, including his locker in the Buy More. He also has a picture of Ronald Reagan in his house.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door:
    • Casey for most of the first season, and probably the first half of the second when he was under orders to kill Chuck once the government got its new intersect working. He evolved into more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold once he stopped having to worry about having to kill him and Sarah, if she intervened.
    • Mary, though it's more that our perception keeps changing.
  • Hero Antagonist / Villain Protagonist: John Casey really blurs the lines on these two. He's always on America's side, but it takes a while before he's on Chuck's side. He protects Chuck while threatening him with injury. He's a patriot who will serve his country... even if that means killing Chuck.
  • Heroic BSoD: Chuck suffers this after Shaw murders his father. This is somewhat of a literal Blue Screen of Death as it stops the Intersect from working.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Chuck and Morgan with the latter often interfering in Chuck's other relationships. (Morgan actually uses the phrase "life partners" in "Chuck Versus the Marlin.")
  • Hidden Depths: Jeff, surprisingly enough. While discussing Chuck's love life with Lester and Big Mike, Jeff points out that "Chuck may try to replace her, but when he's with Sarah, the light in his eyes shines brightly", and there's also his video/photo montage of Chuck and Sarah, made for their rehearsal dinner. Played with hilariously in the final season when it's revealed that Jeff is actually highly intelligent. He acted the way that he did in earlier seasons because he's been sleeping in his van with the engine on for years.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Casey isn't nearly as condescending and loathsome as he seems. But he works hard to maintain the pretense.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Chuck is frequently a victim of this.
  • Honor Before Reason: Subverted. John Casey has a strong sense of honor but is also willing to do less honorable things for his country including killing Chuck, an innocent civilian, early on in the show.
  • Honey Trap: Although Sarah is well-known for her feminine beauty and seductive skills, Carina is mostly the one who lives and breathes this trope. Not only does she seduce on missions, she even flirts around for the sake of fun leading to outright harassment and even more.
  • I Banged Your Mom: Big Mike hooks up with Morgan's mom in Season 2. Morgan does not take it well. At first. By the end of the season, Morgan's accepted their relationship. By the start of season 4, the two have formed a father-son relationship, with Big Mike expressing pride in Morgan being made the manager of the new Buy More and Morgan giving Big Mike his blessing to propose to his mother.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Episodes are titled "Chuck Versus [X]". "X" is often a geeky Shout-Out ("Chuck Versus the Wookiee", "Chuck Versus the Sandworm"). It's always something that's in the episode, even if it occasionally has little to do with the main plot (such as in "Chuck Versus the DeLorean") but sometimes is (such as "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer", where listening to Rush saves the world.)
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Chuck spends most of the first two seasons doing this and then, after finally becoming normal again, drastically abandons it.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: He occasionally considers that the next best thing to being given back his old life would be to become a Real Spy™ rather than a perpetual "asset".
  • Ill-Timed Sneeze: Lampshaded by Sarah.
    Sarah: "If you get us caught because you sneeze, we are officially the worst spies in the world!"
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Most of the mooks are terrible shots, even at very close range with multiple pistols or submachine guns:
    • In "Chuck Versus the Marlin," The Mole manages to shoot a Red Shirt, then not hit Sarah and Chuck despite them having no cover for the best part of 10 meters, while only being about 10 meters away from them. On a helipad.
    • Another example in "Chuck Versus the Masquerade": the mooks are all over the woods with their guns, and Casey is stuck behind a log protecting Sarah. Casey easily picks off the mooks one by one while he never gets hit by the mooks.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Casey is the king of this trope, having weaponized: appliances as both melee and projectile weapons, part of a bed frame he was handcuffed to, a hotel room's heater/radiator unit, Chuck, Morgan, his Crown Vic, chairs and other furniture, and pretty much anything else he can get his hands on.
    • Chuck is no slouch at this himself, having used a broken CD and a scalpel as shuriken, a nacho platter as a discus, chair legs, a Dodge Challenger, Sarah, a clothing rack, "tranq gloves," a cane, the cast for his own injured ankle, another scalpel in a tiny weapons standoff, has disarmed bombs with internet porn and fruit juice, and is a crack shot with tranquilizer guns. This becomes especially prominent in seasons 3 and 4, when the Intersect can allow him to use pretty much anything as an improvised weapon.
    • Sarah gets in on the act as well, using hairpins as throwing projectiles, a broken CD as a knife, a car's air bag, handcuffs as brass knuckles, the carved head of a cougar, a tiki torch, and Chuck, among other items.
  • Indy Ploy: Every episode can be described as "Mission to do X gets screwed. Plans reworked. Hilarity Ensues." In "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II", Morgan alludes to this while about to take on a group of Ring agents with only Awesome for backup....
    Morgan: "No plan?" Never stopped me before.
  • The Infiltration: Sarah in season 4 pretends to turn traitor from the CIA to undertake one of these.
  • Ingesting Knowledge: The premise of the series has Chuck accidentally absorbing all the Intersect knowledge into his brain, forcing him to work for the government and getting involved with the spy world.
  • Inherently Attractive Profession: Spies are treated as much In-Universe, with most of them being incredibly attractive, suave seducers, skilled lovers and dangerously alluring. Lampshaded by Heather in "Chuck Versus The Cubic Z":
    Heather: [to Chuck after discovering he and Sarah are an item] Isn't spy sex great?
    [Chuck nods his agreement]
  • Insecure Love Interest: Chuck after he and Sarah become a couple in Season 4. He's constantly worried she will leave him if he ever loses The Intersect, and awkwardly broaches the subject of marriage early in their relationship while trying to confirm her commitment to him.
  • Instant Sedation: Tranquilizer guns in the Chuck universe incapacitate their targets instantly with a single shot, with the only exceptions being 1) exceptionally muscular targets or 2) Jeff. They effectively function as "bullets that don't kill people" so Chuck can get involved in firefights without racking up a body count.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Sarah (CIA) AND Casey (NSA), mainly in the early part of the series. Both of them don't think too highly of the FBI.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "Chuck Versus the First Fight":
      Volkoff: My name is Alexei Volkoff. I believe you were looking for me.
    • "Chuck Versus the Push Mix":
      Chuck: Hello Alexei. I believe you were looking for me.
  • It Gets Easier:
    • Pretty much the rationale behind the "red test", which forces wannabe agents to commit cold-blooded murder under orders and, in theory, make it easier for them to kill again when needs be. As demonstrated by the many kills by Sarah and Casey during the course of the series, including one additional cold-blooded kill by Sarah in "Chuck Versus Santa Claus", in which she shoots an unarmed FULCRUM agent to protect Chuck.
    • In the third season, a major plot point is Sarah's ongoing fear that, for Chuck, killing will get easier.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Happens frequently since Sarah works for the CIA and Casey for the NSA and at the start of the series they often get conflicting orders.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Fat Lady", they have to break into an FBI-controlled crime scene to gain information.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The main cast have all committed multiple acts of treason, yet have never suffered any long-term negative consequences for it.
    • There was a fairly important Ring agent who was never killed or apprehended.
    • Beckman and Casey. General Beckmen orders Casey to kill Chuck at the beginning of Season 2. Casey's about to do it too, and only holds fire when he overhears Sarah tells Chuck about the destruction of the new Intersect. Neither Chuck or Sarah ever learn that Casey was about to kill Chuck, or Beckman's kill order. Casey is sent to bring in Sarah and Chuck dead or alive in the penultimate episode of Season 2, and seems ready to kill Awesome in pursuit of them, but since he has a Changed My Mind, Kid moment at the end, Sarah, Chuck and Casey let bygones be bygones.
    • Vivian Volkoff is responsible for the deaths of many people (most notably in the episodes "Chuck Versus the Muuurder" where an assassin she hired kills two agents, and "Chuck Versus the Last Details" where her lawyer kills a room full of other villains, along with an undercover agent) and attempts to kill Chuck and his entire team on multiple occasions, but because she never killed anyone with her own hands, and because Chuck is able to cure Sarah from the thorium poisoning Vivian inflicted, Chuck believes she's still redeemable. She gets a new, untraceable identity along with her father and never faces justice, though unlike her father, her actions were her own and not the result of brainwashing.
  • Limited Wardrobe: The main cast's day jobs pretty much guarantee that the characters will spend a good amount of the episode in their work uniforms (Green Shirts, Nerd Herder shirt and slacks, Ellie and Awesome's scrubs, and Sarah's Hausfrau dress/orange-and-grey tank top from the second season onwards). Chuck's Nerd Herd outfit even gets used on missions, as well as occasionally on his free time.
  • Living Legend: By the third season, the Charles Carmichael persona has taken on a life of its own and gained quite a bit of notoriety in the intelligence community and criminal underworld. See Dude, Where's My Respect? above.
  • Legacy Character: Played around with through the "Greta" character, who is played by a different guest star each time "Greta" shows up.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!:
    • The purpose of Intersect 2.0, but also in "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners", Morgan turns out to have possibly the best unhoned espionage skills of the bunch.
    • Ellie, Morgan, and Devon at the beginning of the season 3 finale.
  • Lipstick-and-Load Montage: Sarah often does this and a Lock-and-Load Montage simultaneously.
  • Limit Break: Laudanol allows the Intersect to work full blast for Chuck.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Awesome stumbled on the spy stuff near the end of season 2 and Morgan was told about it all in season 3 but Ellie, the person closest of all to Chuck, was kept in the dark about it all at long as they could. Even after she knew there was a Secret Legacy of spy work in the family she was led to believe that Chuck used to work for the CIA but quit because she was concerned for his safety.
  • Love Dodecahedron: During the first half of season 3, Morgan wanted Hannah wanted Chuck wanted Sarah wanted Shaw at one time or another. Yeesh. Ellie and Devon are worth fitting somewhere in there too. They might be happily married, but what Devon knew about Chuck was driving Devon insane and causing friction in the marriage, and concern about Chuck led Ellie and Morgan to work together amicably for the first time ever.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Shaw's betrayal of the CIA and defection to the Ring was out of vengeance for his wife's death.
  • Lovable Jock: Captain Awesome. Despite being a musclebound extreme sports enthusiast who spends a lot of screen time shirtless and working out, he's a skilled doctor, fluent in Spanish, and a pretty nice guy, even to Chuck and his nerdy friends.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Played thoroughly straight with Casey and the fiancée he left behind.
  • MacGyvering: Casey handcuffs Chuck to a counter in a frozen yogurt shop (long story). After failing to get the Action Girl to come free him, he freezes the chain with some kind of nefarious yogurt device and breaks it in two. His quip afterwards was something along the lines of "all those years of watching MacGyver finally paid off."
    • In "Chuck Vs. the A Team", Chuck manages to deactivate a nuclear device with a juice box. note 
  • Made of Iron: Fulcrum agent Vincent. As noted under Butt-Monkey above, the sheer amount of abuse he was subjected to over the course of his appearances is staggering, before he was finally Killed Off for Real in "Chuck Versus the Colonel." Or was he? Many fans refuse to believe that after everything else he survived, that a simple air strike would really be enough to finish him off.
  • Marrying the Mark: In the last few episodes, Quinn convinces an amnesiac Sarah that she's married Chuck as part of a CIA sting against him, and sends her "back" undercover with the eventual intention of killing him. She almost gives herself away several times, nearly kills Ellie and finally leaves after realising Quinn has lied to her. She seems to fall in love with Chuck again over the final episode, but the series ending leaves it ambiguous whether she recovers her memories or not.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Chuck and Sarah, at least for the first two seasons.
  • Meaningful Echo: In "Chuck Versus the Dream Job":
    Chuck: All I can tell you is that... I'm not who you think I am.
    Stephen: Don't worry, Charles. I'm not who you think I am either. *uses Orion's wrist device to disable a guard*
  • Meaningful Name:
    • John Casey: "Casey" means "brave" or "watchful".
    • Sarah Walker's last name could be interpreted that she's never settled down anywhere and is always on the move.
    • Ring agent Hugo Panzer. The last name is the German word for tank, and considering that he's played by Steve Austin.
    • Two members of Fulcrum are named Colt and Mauser, which are both manufacturers of firearms.
    • Faran Tahir portrays a villain named "Farrokh Bulsara" in "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer". That's also the name on Freddie Mercury's birth certificate.
  • Mistaken for Badass:
    • A running gag is how the incompetent Chuck is mistaken by both good guys and bad guys for a badass super-spy. This includes Colt in "Chuck Versus the First Date" and Mark and Heather in "Chuck Versus the Cougars".
    • A variant occurs in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary", when it turns out that Chuck and Morgan's search for Chuck's mom has led them extremely close to Volkoff Industries, the arms dealers that Sarah and Casey have been tracking on their own. The Volkoff agent played by Dolph Lundgren assumes that their use of public transportation and tourist disguises were effective ploys to avoid being tracked, and believes them to be super-spies even better than Sarah and Casey, who he had just kidnapped with plans to torture them for information on the former two. In truth...their cheap car got repossessed hence the public transit, and that's actually how they dress when going to different countries.
  • Mistaken for Cheating:
    • Chuck thinks Jill cheated on him by sleeping with Bryce Larkin after he was expelled from Standford University for "cheating" on his exam. He was really expelled to be saved from being recruited into the CIA. Jill claims she went along with the lie in order to get Chuck out of her life, because she herself had been recruited by FULCRUM.
    • In "Chuck Versus The Fat Lady", Jill sees Chuck and Sarah coming out of the shower after washing off what they thought was poison ( it was really grape powder) and leaves heartbroken.
    • In "Chuck Versus The Subway", Devon thinks Ellie is cheating on him while she is being manipulated by an undercover Fulcrum agent the couple had met during an Africa trip from an earlier episode.
    • In "Chuck Versus The C.A.T Squad", Alex probably thought this about Morgan blowing her off because of Carina.
  • Mistaken for Spies: For the first two seasons Chuck was not a "real" spy but was constantly getting mistaken for one anyway. It's not as if Chuck went out of his way to destroy that illusion. In fact, he often pretends to be the (made-up) Bond-like Agent Charles Carmichael.
  • The Mole:
    • Mary Bartowski, Chuck and Ellie's mother, spent years spying within Volkoff Industries to protect her family.
    • Sarah does the same in the fourth season to rescue Mary.
  • Mood Whiplash: a few episodes take time to move away from the light-hearted spy-fi focus on serious issues, such as the morality of what the agents are sometimes called upon to do in the line of duty (for example, when Chuck witnesses Sarah cold-bloodedly execute an enemy agent in order to protect Chuck, which leads to a rift between the two for a time; later, when Chuck finds he is required to kill someone in order to become a full agent, this leads to further introspection).
  • Mook Chivalry: There's definitely a code. First rule: Whenever Chuck and/or Sarah are fighting a group of mooks unarmed, the mooks will also resort to martial arts only - even when they're armed with guns. Second rule: If they have been disarmed by some kind of mass-disarming-move at the beginning of the fight, it's disallowed to just pick the gun back up from the floor. Third rule: If someone breaks the second rule, they must next get at hand-to-hand range with the trained agent opposing them, instead of backing up a little and pulling the trigger. As a subversion to the regular code, they are often not restrained to fighting just one-on-one.
  • Morality Pet: Morgan may be well on his way to becoming Casey's new Morality Pet, now that he's gained his respect by nearly sacrificing himself when he leads a Bengal tiger into an apartment. Casey's right; the furry little elf has balls. Solid diamond balls. Check out "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II", where he breaks his thumbs to get to a fire alarm to evacuate the Buy More, and "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock", where he risks electrocuting himself to save Chuck, Sarah, and Casey.
  • Most Definitely Not Accompanying Us: It's a Running Gag in the first two seasons that Chuck will be told to stay in the car while Sarah and Casey face the Villain of the Week, instructions which he never follows.
  • Mr. Exposition: Beckman and Graham, though Beckman's character was eventually fleshed out more.
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Captain Awesome. Ryan McPartlin even joked in an interview that he has a clause in his contract that requires him to be shirtless in a minimum of 9 episodes a season.
      Morgan: Look at you, you live in a freakish bubble of handsomeness.
    • Shaw.
      Chuck: Yeah, if you're into the, *ahem* strong, kinda Superman-y type of a guy.
    • Cole Barker.
      Chuck: I get what she sees in you, you know. The fearlessness in the face of danger, the imperviousness to pain, super-cool tank-tops...stop me whenever this is getting uncomfortable.
    • Roan Montgomery, literally, in "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible".
    • Even Morgan, the little dude is stacked.
    • Chuck himself. Started out barely edging into a nerd, and that was before he became really badass. And then there's Charles Carmichael.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • God bless you, Yvonne Strahovski. Finally lampshaded in "Chuck Versus the Kept Man."
      Sarah: Do you know how many skimpy outfits I have had to put on for this team? Did you hear me complain when I had to put on a catsuit or seven-inch platform high heels or a belly-dancing outfit?
      Casey: Belly-dancing?
      Sarah: Okay, that was private.
    • Anna in a hulu skirt in "Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer."
    • Some of the female guest stars are quite the lookers.
      • Carina (Mini Anden), who strips down to her underwear pretty much in every episode she appears in.
      • Jill (Jordana Brewster), who also gets down to her underwear.
      • Alex Forrest (Tricia Helfer) in a stripper outfit.
      • Hannah (Kristin Kreuk) wrapped in a towel and nothing else.
      • Sofia Stepanova (Karolina Kurkova) in nothing and nothing else, using Chuck as a human shield.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: The Intersect puts a huge long term toll on the bearer's brain unless you use a device to keep it in check, and can possibly fry your brain outright if it can't absorb the information properly. (Note that the only time this has happened in the show was with a beta Intersect developed by FULCRUM. Becomes a plot point in season 3 when Chuck is seemingly in danger of this happening to him. Happens again in the final season when Morgan and Sarah receive the Intersect. Morgan becomes a douche who can't remember Star Wars or Indiana Jones, while Sarah loses all of her memories of the past 5 years and reverts to her old CIA personality.)
  • Mythology Gag: One early episode has the Buy More staffers competing in a competition to name all the shows seen on the demo TV sets; all of them (Animaniacs, The Dukes of Hazzard, The O.C.) were previous Warner Bros. Television productions.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: FULCRUM, the shadowy organization determined to find the intersect. To one-up FULCRUM, the end of Season 2 revealed an even shadowier organization, The Ring, with dark intentions for the Intersect. Word of God promised at the time that they'd have actual goals instead of just nebulous evil.
  • Neural Implanting: How the Intersect is put into Chuck's brain in the first place.
  • Never Mess with Granny:
    • As of "Chuck Versus the Push Mix," Chuck and Ellie's mother, Mary Elizabeth "Frost" Bartowski, thanks to the birth of her first grandchild.
    • Hartley Winterbottom's mother.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: The function of Intersect 2.0 in Chuck's head.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Chuck Bartowski.
    • Despite being very muscular, Devon is a very gentle person.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Ted Roark is essentially Steve Jobs if Steve Jobs decided to moonlight as a murderous supervillain.
    • Premier Alejandro Fulgencio Goya seems to be based on Fidel Castro (though in "Chuck Versus the Coup d'Etat", there is a mention of him hanging out with the real Castro). In "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte" the Ring assassin tries to kill him by poisoning one of his cigars, a shout out to one of the CIA's real life plans to kill Castro with an exploding cigar.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: The tranq gun is Chuck's preferred weapon.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Alexei Volkoff, though apparently a Russian, retains Timothy Dalton's English accent. Justified in "Chuck Versus Agent X"; Volkoff has a British accent because he's actually Agent X, who was born in Somerset.
  • No, You Go First: Happens a lot between Chuck and Sarah.
  • Not Himself:
    • Morgan with the Intersect. Chuck recognizes it when Morgan doesn't get an Indiana Jones reference. Even more heavily underlined for the audience in the final shot of the episode when Morgan asks who Luke Skywalker is.
    • Sarah gets the Intersect and her memory wiped in the series finale. Small things like how she won't let him warm her feet with his in bed are what tip Chuck off that something's not right.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Pretty much par for the course when you have to lie to friends and family about what you're really doing.
  • Odd Couple: The moment Morgan Grimes hired John Casey as Lieutenant Assistant Manager at the Buy More is the moment a new, hilarious Odd Couple was born. This continues to be hilarious the moment John Casey inducts Morgan Grimes to the CIA and is assigned to train him.
    Beckman: It was your idea to make him part of the team, it's your job to make him field-ready. He's a diamond in the rough... very, very rough... but I'm sure you'll make him... sparkle!
  • Ominous Cube: The Intersect is a cube-shaped device capable of Neural Implanting. At first, it can only upload massive amounts of information into somebody's brain, but at the end of Season 2, it gets upgraded to upload abilities like martial arts and surgery.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness:
    • FULCRUM.
    • The Ring.
    • Decker's CIA division, in Season 5.
  • Once a Season:
    • Someone will download a (usually altered or new) version of the Intersect.
      • Season 1: Chuck
      • Season 2: Chuck, again
      • Season 3: Daniel Shaw
      • Season 4: Morgan
      • Season 5: Sarah and Chuck, one last time
    • Someone in Chuck's personal life will uncover his spy life.
      • Season 1: Harry Tang
      • Season 2: Captain Awesome
      • Season 3: Morgan, and Ellie learns some of the details
      • Season 4: Ellie finally learns the full truth
      • Season 5: Jeff and Lester
    • Casey will briefly work against the rest of the team.
      • Season 1: In the pilot.
      • Season 2: When he is tasked with bringing in Chuck and Sarah after they go A.W.O.L. in "Chuck Versus the Colonel".
      • Season 3: When he commits treason to save the mother of his child in "Chuck Versus the Tik Tac".
      • Season 4: When he joins a unit that is going to replace Chuck's role as the Intersect in "Chuck Versus the A-Team".
      • Season 5: When he arrests Chuck, Sarah and Morgan for their failed attempt to bring down Quinn in "Chuck Versus the Goodbye".
  • One-Man Army:
    • Casey. Several episodes feature him taking out small squads of men, and nobody seems surprised when he does so.
      Shaw: (hears gunfire and screaming) I see you brought Casey.
    • As of Season 4, Chuck.
      Chuck: Clearly you have no idea who I am, since you only sent ten of your men to deal with me.
    • Sarah, especially if Chuck is in danger. Exaggerated in "Chuck Versus the Phase Three". Even more so at the end of "Chuck Versus Bo", after she uploads the Intersect into herself.
  • Only Sane Employee(s): Chuck, though Morgan seems to be evolving into this as well.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: For the most part, Yvonne Strahovski does an very well affecting an American accent, but there are a couple of occasions early on in the show when her natural Aussie peeks through here and there. After the first season, she's pretty much flawless.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Devon is an adventure sports-loving cardiologist, an excellent dancer, a superb and sensitive husband, profoundly philosophical on life and love, and an all-around great guy. Bonus points because his nickname is actually Captain Awesome. Subverted when he gets drawn into the spy game, though. He was initially eager but even Morgan has proven to be a better all-around spy.
  • Parental Abandonment: A recurring theme.
    • Chuck and Ellie's mother "left them" and their father "wasn't around much." As it turns out, their father literally abandoned them when Ellie was old enough to be Chuck's guardian, but did so for their own safety while their mother walked out on the family earlier. At least, Chuck and Ellie have believed that since they were kids. It turns out that their mother got stuck for twenty years in a mission trying to take down Alexei Volkoff's network.
    • Morgan's father is never seen or mentioned.
    • Sarah travelled the country with her father, aiding him in his cons until he was arrested when she was a teenager; at which point she was taken in by the CIA. Her mother wasn't involved, but Sarah and her father changed identities enough that they couldn't trace Sarah back to her; Sarah placed Molly into her mother's custody shortly before the start of the series because of this, but it meant she couldn't see her mother again or both she and Molly would be compromised.
    • Vivian Volkoff being abandoned by her father.
    • Casey was this to Alex, who grew up thinking he'd died before she was born, although he wasn't aware her mother was pregnant at the time he disappeared.
  • Poor Communication Kills: This has often been played straight as part of the show's UST. The UST seems to be over as of "Chuck Versus the Other Guy". The episode after that, "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners", frequently seems to threaten Poor Communication Kills but ultimately, thankfully averts it. Played terrifyingly straight in terms of Ellie being kept out of the loop in terms of everyone's involvement in spy work. As Morgan puts it in "Chuck Versus the Coup d'Etat":
    Morgan: You are both, without a doubt, crap communicators. No, no, no — precious looks and whimsical little make-ups after big misunderstandings... you guys are fantastic, sure. But actual, real-life day-to-day communication?
    Chuck: Fine, I get it.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name:
    • Jeffster! (as a platonic version for Those Two Guys). Invoked in-universe.
    • At one point Casey refers to "Charah."
  • Power Incontinence: A problem with Chuck's Combo Platter Powers. If Chuck could do summon those on command, he would be an Invincible Hero. Fortunately — fortunately for the plot, unfortunately for the characters — his ability to flash on a skill depends on his emotional state in some not-yet-clear way. When he's nervous in a taking-a-test or stage-fright way he can't flash, and when he's afraid for his own well-being he can't flash (unless the person he feels threatened by is a pro wrestler), but when he's afraid for the sake of someone he cares about then he flashes all the time, whether it's a good idea or not.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Boy howdy, "Chuck Versus the Fake Name". A sniper rifle with a large enough caliber to make the shot half a mile away, leaves a small head wound on a guy's head. This would be possible if the back of his head was blown out, but not a speck of blood is visible around the body.
    • Also, the agent shot by Sofia in "Chuck Versus the Suitcase".
  • Previously on…: "Hi, I'm Chuck. Here's a few things you might need to know or maybe just forgot..."
  • Product Placement:
    • Toyota. Taken a bit far at one point when Chuck extols the virtues of the Venza as a getaway car.
      • When called out by Ellie for buying a minivan, Awesome actually responds with "Toyota Sienna, safest family auto in its class." Even though Awesome keeps on trying to sell Ellie on the Sienna (dropping all sorts of statistics on its safety), she prefers to ride her dad's "unsafe" Mustang '68 convertible. This sets everything up for yet another Intersect upload. Provided by Orion, whose own device had earlier blocked it to begin with.
    • Subway, especially in season 3, as a result of the Sending Stuff to Save the Show campaign for season 3. Lampshaded incredibly hard, as virtually any time a cut opens up on either a Subway or a Subway sandwich, a Cherubic Choir can be heard in the background actually singing the word "Subway." invoked In the series finale, Subway ends up purchasing the Buy More.
    • Looking for a new drinking game? Take a shot every time you see an iPhone.
    • Sleep Sheep! Though, real ones don't play Jeffster! songs.
    • OpenTable. In 5.6, "Chuck Versus the Curse," Ellie books a dinner out using Chuck's OpenTable account, telling Devon, "He loves the points." Later in the episode, Chuck tells Sarah that he just got a reminder from OpenTable to review his dining experience, and Sarah concludes that Ellie must have used his account, to which Chuck replies with, "She always does. I love the points!"
    • The Crock-Pot. Due to a massive overstock of the things, an episode features Big Mike trying to offload them for next to nothing by cooking up some gumbo in the store (with Jeff and obviously mixed results). Later Sarah buys Shaw a Crock-Pot.
  • Progressively Prettier: Chuck's unflattering haircut and ill-fitting clothes disappear over the course of season three, his look getting sleeker and cooler as he lost his everyman quality.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles:
    • Season 2 promoted Ryan McPartlin (Captain Awesome), Mark Christopher Lawrence (Big Mike), and the other major Nerd Herders to the opening titles.
    • Season 4 promoted Bonita Friedericy (Beckman).
  • Promotion to Parent: Ellie mothers Chuck.
  • Public Secret Message: Stephen Bartowski provides Ellie with a method for contacting him through coded messages in the personal ads.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Anna Wu at the start of season three. She did turn up once more, but only for Morgan to get over her.
    • Hannah later in the same season.
    • Harry Tang is sent to Hawaii in season one.
    • Jill is allowed to escape by Chuck, and her fate is never resolved by the end of the series.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Adam Baldwin could almost be the Trope Codifier for this. John Casey is a Comically Serious, Necessarily Evil Colonel Badass who carefully upholds a Jerkass facade and is a veteran of basically everything since the 1980s. Very much a real man, right? He also meticulously takes care of a bonsai tree, has perfect pitch due to a childhood as a choirboy, and is apparently quite skilled at wedding planning and decorating:
    Miles: * showing Casey a ream of pink fabric* How about this?
    Casey: No, no, no. That clashes with the bunting.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Carina and Sarah.
  • Refusal of the Call / The Call Knows Where You Live: Chuck, for pretty much the first two seasons.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Season 5's final Big Bad Nicholas Quinn. He apparently was supposed to be the original candidate for the Intersect project, but got rejected. He's also apparently helped organizations like FULCRUM and The Ring behind the scenes during the past few seasons.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: It went through several incarnations before settling on "Short Skirt Long Jacket".
  • Repurposed Pop Song: The Theme Tune for Chuck is an instrumental thirty-second cut of "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" by Cake.
  • Reset Button: The writers seem to love hitting this in the cruelest ways possible.
    • Between the end of season 1 and the beginning of season 2, Big Mike's marlin goes from smashed, to reassembled with duct tape, to good as new.
    • In the season 2 premiere, "Chuck Versus the First Date", it appears to Chuck, for a while, that he'll be able to go back to being "just a normal guy" and dating Sarah once they retrieve the Cipher and put the Intersect in someone else's head. Too bad the Cipher contained a Trojan Horse that killed all the CIA's Intersect agents.
    • In the season 3 premiere, "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip", Chuck flunks out of spy school, loses Sarah again and goes back to work at the Buy More, while Morgan failed Benihana school after Anna ran off with a classmate, also, surprise, surprise, coming back to work at the Buy More. Of course, the writers had to accommodate for the possibility of the show being canceled, which is likely why they hit the reset button when they did manage to get a third season commissioned.
  • Rich Sibling, Poor Sibling: Ellie is a doctor. Chuck is a college dropout who makes $12.50 an hour at the Buy More. You do the math.
  • Romantic Fake–Real Turn: Part of the core premise of the show.
  • Romantic False Lead: Bryce, Jill, Lou, Shaw, Hannah... seemingly correct choices for Sarah and Chuck who ended up disappointing them. Or, you know, doing a Face–Heel Turn. Let's make it simple: Anyone Chuck takes an interest in not named "Sarah" OR anyone Sarah takes an interest in not named "Chuck".
  • Running Gag:
    • "Chuck, stay in the car." (The joke being that he never does.) Lampshaded in "Chuck Versus the First Date":
      Chuck: It's never safe in the car!
    • In Season 1, Chuck needs to come up with an excuse to explain Sarah's absence, and he blurts out the first thing which comes to mind, which to his surprise is that "she has a spastic colon". From this point onwards, he uses this excuse whenever he needs to cover for Sarah in civilian life. In season 3, he replaces a guitarist and when a member of the band asks what happened to the other guy, he immediately goes straight to "spastic colon" again.
    • Every time a hot girl walks through the Buy More, the Buy More Wind Machine appears to be running and pointing directly at the girl in question, whose hair billows gently in its artificial breeze as she strides through the store in slow motion.
      • Lampshaded in "Chuck Versus the Three Words", where Carina gets the treatment walking into a housewarming party. Apparently the Buy More staffers bring it with them wherever they go.
      • Given an entire chucking wall of lampshades in "Chuck Versus the Tooth", in which Morgan gets it walking through the Buy More in a tux. Since his hair is short and gelled into place, the only reason you know it's on is because it's violently blowing through Skip's hair (you know, the white guy with the huge blond afro) as well as a few pages off his clipboard in the background.
      • The lampshade itself is given a wind machine in "Chuck Versus the Suitcase", in which you actually see Morgan holding up an industrial fan as the Buy More crew Team Power Walk through the store.
    • Captain Awesome has a tendency to accidentally tackle the good guy (see "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte" or "Chuck Versus the American Hero").
    • Jeff's tolerance for drugs of all kinds has definitely become a Running Gag. He uses chloroform recreationally and shrugs off three times as many tranq darts as it takes to put Casey down.
    • Also, various people alluding to the Tron poster Chuck has. It's a Chekhov's Gun.
    Heather Chandler: Thanks for that, movie dork. I bet you have, like, a Tron poster in your room.
    • MI6 agents are always undercover. (See "Chuck Versus the Tango", "Chuck Versus the Beefcake," and "Chuck Versus the Last Details".)
    • If your hands are bound behind your back and you don't have any accessible tools to unbound yourself, you'll probably have to break your thumbs. This has been referenced at least once a season since season 2 Lampshaded by Tuttle in "Chuck Versus the First Fight" when he discovers a method that doesn't involve breaking his thumbs. Since he's actually Alexei Volkoff and they were on his plane, he probably wasn't actually bound. Volkoff actually uses this (non-thumb-breaking) technique in "Chuck Versus the Push Mix".
    • Casey's "public indecency problem" in Season 3. Chuck makes up a ridiculous cover story to Ellie about Casey ending up in the drunk tank in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome". It is then referenced throughout the season whenever Ellie and Casey share a scene together, with the latter having no idea what she's talking about.
    • Sweeping the leg comes up quite often, doubling as a Shout-Out.
    • Employing a strategy called "The Magnet", with the title deliberately concealing that one person (usually a person out of the loop on what "The Magnet" means) is going to be used as bait.
    • "Chuck Versus the DeLorean" has "It's personal" (not to be confused with It's Personal) as the dismissive response whenever someone asks what they're doing.
    • The Giant Blonde She-male running around in "Chuck Versus Phase Three".
    • "Chuck Versus the Muuurder" gets into tons of fun with the fact that the Buy More's initials are BM, as Big Mike wears a giant sign with "BM" emblazoned on it for a promotion.
      Big Mike: Other men wear college shirts all day, while I get to wear a great big BM on my chest! That's job satisfaction!
      • They continue to talk about the BM (and the fact that Big Mike is the Number Two) in manners befitting the Double Entendre.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Chuck often flat out tells people the truth about what he's done or where he's been after coming back from a spy mission, fully expecting the other person to presume he's being facetious.
  • Scary Black Man:
    • Big Mike (partially subverted)
    • Mr. Colt (played by Michael Clarke Duncan, so of course he is) in "Chuck Versus the First Date".
    • Mitt (played by Michael Strahan) in "Chuck Versus the Breakup".
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Numerous times throughout the series, but a notable example pops up in the season 4 finale. Wherein Chuck actually goes against (and subsequently quits) the CIA in order to save Sarah, who had been poisoned by the Big Bad.
  • Sealed with a Kiss: Every episode 13 from Season 3 on. (Since each of those was a Series Fauxnale—until the actual Grand Finale, anyway—we can assume they always intended the series to end on one.)
  • Secret Identity:
    • No cowl and no cape, but Chuck's status as both an agent and the human Intersect is kept secret from his family and friends. At least, until mid-third season. Even Ellie and Devon don't know about the human Intersect, and in season 4 believe he's retired.
    • Just about every spy in this show seems to have one. Both Sarah Walker and John Casey don't operate under their birth names.
      • Sarah's original name was partly revealed, assuming she wasn't lying when she told Shaw her real first name Sam in "Chuck Versus the Fake Name," and her middle name Lisa in "Chuck Versus the Wookiee".
      • Casey's given name was Alexander Coburn.
      • In the end, both Sarah and Casey are subversions, since their names are revealed to be their legal identities. So if you take "real name" to mean the name one identifies with rather than "birth name", then both were never really trying to hide who they are.
      • Heck, even Chuck is known in the CIA and NSA as "Charles Carmichael" rather than "Chuck Bartowski".
  • Secret-Keeper:
    • As of the end of Season 2 Captain Awesome.
    • As of the end of Season 3, Morgan Grimes and Ellie Bartowski.
      Morgan: My best friend is a spy? This is the best news I've ever heard!
      Ellie: Morgan Grimes—the boy that took my pillow as his date to Junior Prom—knows more about my family being spies than I do?
    • By the end of the show, the only member of the main cast who isn't one is Big Mike.
      Big Mike: So what you're saying is, Chuck Bartowski is a spy who runs a spy company beneath the store?
      Lester: The exciting part of the story is that we saved the day. You didn't get that? We'll go again
      Big Mike: I got it. But do I believe it? Not a word, boys. Not a word. But given that the German record executive made his offer to Jeffster in front of Big Mike, and referenced the parts of their story that he was aware of....
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Casey often mocks Chuck and his "lady feelings".
  • Sentimental Music Cue: A subtle non-sitcom example in the light piano cue that played whenever Chuck and Sarah had a heart-to-heart moment.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: The leaders of The Ring were shown as this during a You Have Failed Me moment.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis:
    • The first season had Harry Tang and similarly there is Emmett in the second season — both characters are Tyrants Taking The Helm at Buy More and are an ironic contrast to the very dangerous villains Chuck faces in his spy life.
    • Then there's the Beverly Hills Buy More versus the Burbank Buy More.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Surprisingly balanced. The opening credits seem to promise absolute silliness. It's premise is outlandish, and everything spy related is ruled by the Rule of Cool and Rule of Funny, all the while being firmly tongue-in-cheek in its references to the Spy and Sci-Fi genres. It also deals with unrequited love, loss of loved ones,tragic childhoods, absent/runaway parents, threats to family members, government & institutional corruption, deception of family members and friends, betrayal, and the moral dilemmas inherent in almost every aspect of the world of espionage, doing so in a surprisingly honest fashion.
  • Slut-Shaming: As part of her role as Ms Fan Service and to build up more UST with Chuck, Sarah often has to seduce men. Every once in a while, Chuck's jealousy builds to the point where he attacks her for it. He usually apologizes, but there it is. Once they became a real couple, this died down.
  • Spanner in the Works: Jeff and Lester can be this on occasion. For example, them trailing Shaw to prove how excellent stalkers they are is what ultimately allows Chuck to find and locate him from making a Senseless Sacrifice. Their biggest moment comes from late in the series where they manage to save Alex, Morgan, and Awesome from Quinn's goons.
  • Statuesque Stunner:
    • Two, no less: Ellie and Sarah. Somewhat played down in Ellie's case since she generally doesn't fit the Ms. Fanservice type.
    • The rest of the CAT Squad fully qualify, as well.
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • Chuck, Casey and Morgan will always end up back at the Buy More, Lester & Jeff will never get fired. In Chuck & Casey's case, this is in part because the CIA are pulling the strings to make sure their cover is intact; as of season 4, it's actually invoked as the CIA are actively running the Buy More as a cover, and Morgan pointed out they needed the Jeff & Lester's to hide the insanely competent CIA agents on staff.
    • Chuck, Casey & Sarah will always remain a covert ops team, no matter how many times Chuck quits or the CIA questions if Sarah & Casey are becoming too attached to Chuck.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • While she is a genuinely nice person, Sarah has a disturbing ability to turn on a perky, bubbly personality at will even if it is completely at odds with her actual feelings. Chuck eventually lampshades this aspect of her personality in the second season and "Chuck Versus Santa Claus" uses this to have a Downer Ending as Chuck witnesses Sarah kill the villain, and not knowing what he saw, Sarah puts on her cheerful personality and tells him that the villain was taken into custody.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Breakup", after a particularly heart-breaking speech from Chuck, they both do this at exactly the same time. Quite moving, considering both of them had been on the verge of crying only moments before. In detail: Chuck has been convinced that Sarah's feelings for him will get one or both of them killed, and so lies through his teeth, telling Sarah that he wants someone normal and that she can "never be normal". Chuck is not liking to have to be saying this, and Sarah is... well, she's just been told that Chuck, the first person she has ever loved, doesn't want to be with her because she is a spy. She's crushed. And then the two of them look at each other sadly, and then put on really sincere-looking grins as they prepare to spend the night pretending to be a couple and discussing Ellie and Devon's upcoming wedding.
  • Stock Superhero Day Jobs:
    • Actually quite an original one — as a computer techie, Chuck's got a 9—5 job that he can easily drop at a moment’s notice just by claiming he's "on an install".
    • How Casey the floor-sales guy gets away with the same thing is... less clear. However, it's somewhat explained that everyone is too afraid of Casey to ask. Also considering how insane the other employees can be, someone no-nonsense like Casey would be a valuable employee no matter how absent he seems to be. The Buy-More can't be too picky considering the employee pool available to them. Furthermore, Chuck's the Nerd Herd supervisor, not to mention the store's Only Sane Man, meaning people tend to notice when he goes missing. Casey's a rank-and-file greenshirt, meaning no one probably cares what he does during the day, as long as he clocks in and out. After all, no one appears to care what Morgan (at least when he was just a greenshirt), Jeff and Lester do either, since they actually take pride in being present while doing as little work as possible and still manage to keep their jobs.
  • Supermodel Strut: It's basically a Running Gag that almost all sexy women who walk into the Buy More (and Sarah when she's wearing a Stripperific outfit) do so in a confident hip-swaying gait with slow-mo, bombastic music and Dramatic Wind blowing their hair. It happened often enough for the series to even spoof it. In one season three episode, Anna Wu gets one the first time she walks into the store, complete with the Buy More Wind Machine. This is followed immediately by Morgan getting one while dressed to the nines in a full tuxedo (minus cummerbund, he was being daring), with Skip in the background having his afro and a pad of paper in his hands disturbed by the Wind Machine because Morgan's hairstyle otherwise wouldn't be stirred by it.
  • Take That!: The show doesn't seem to hold the FBI in high regard. Chuck bluffs about having an enemy surrounded by a task force. When the villain points out that he can't see anyone, Chuck responds with "Of course you can't. Who do you think we are, the FBI?" In another episode, they have to sneak past two FBI agents and when Chuck makes a noise, Casey cautions him "It's the FBI, they're dumb not deaf."
  • Talking Heads: Beckman and Graham start out as this. But in later seasons, Beckman's character becomes more fleshed out. She makes a few in-person appearances (and even going on the field with them in one episode) and her communications with Team Bartowski show her in settings other than her office, such as her home. She also becomes more a part of the show's humor rather than just a Ms. Exposition.
  • Theme Mobile: Each main member of Team Bartowski has one.
    • Chuck's is the Nerd Herder, a compact, unassuming Toyota brandishing the Nerd Herd logo. As an analogue to his secret double life as a spy, it's also been outfitted with all kinds of spy gadgets, like ejection seats, remote control drive, and self-destruct device.
    • Sarah owns a black Porsche 911 Carrera (later replaced with a black Lotus Evora), a sleek and sexy sports car fitting for a sleek and sexy spy. Though how it fits her cover as a low-wage food services worker is never explained.
    • Casey drives a 1985 Ford Crown Victoria - a bulky relic from the Cold War era.
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: Sarah and Casey kill henchmen by the dozens, but Chuck has an aversion to guns and refuses to kill people even when it's an objective of the mission. Chuck and Morgan both end the series with a body count of zero, because Chuck's only kill winds up Not Quite Dead, and because Morgan uses lethal weapons on multiple occasions but always manages to only incapacitate his targets with them.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Over the course of season 3, Chuck takes several levels in badass. In season 2 and earlier he was an Action Survivor or maybe Guile Hero at best. At the end of season 2 he gains the Intersect 2.0, which gives him access to a vast library of useful skills in addition to the knowledge that came standard with the Intersect. It took him most of season three to learn to use that reliably and safely. Along the way he was given lots of field assignments that put him in harm's way and forced him to make tough choices. By the start of season four he's beating up a dozen guards at a time. After losing the Intersect yet again in season 5 it is revealed that Chuck has learned enough to defeat Daniel Shaw, also without an Intersect in single combat. Since Shaw was a highly-trained government agent even without the Intersect, the fact that Chuck can beat him without the Intersect shows how much he's learned.
    • Morgan is still not a fighter or even particularly clever, but Casey has complimented him on his bravery more than once. Morgan has lured a tiger into an apartment to trap it and, as of the end of season 3, is the only person other than Casey to break their own thumbs to get out of a pair of handcuffs.
    • Morgan gets the Intersect at the end of season 4.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Bryce Larkin may have done many questionable things before the series began, like getting Chuck kicked out of Stanford, but he was trying to do the right thing for Chuck, and the two were genuinely friends. However, when Bryce came back early in season two, he was a lot more sarcastic and mocking toward Chuck.
    • Chuck when it came to Bryce. When he found out that Bryce got him kicked out of Stanford to protect him, he said that he wished he could talk to him, and the whole episode ended on a nostalgic note. But after Bryce returned, Chuck was constantly jealous of him, even though they used to be best friends, and once said something about Bryce ruining his life, seemingly forgetting about everything Bryce had done for him. Though to be fair, whatever Bryce's best intentions, being kicked out of Stanford did seriously derail Chuck's future prospects. An expulsion for cheating from a prestigious university on one's permanent academic record will make it much more difficult for Chuck to get admitted anywhere else, and will not be viewed favorably by a prospective employer.
  • Tranquilizer Dart: Chuck's signature weapon starting with "Chuck Versus the Dream Job".
  • True Companions:
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Although Chuck's interest in Sarah is pretty much clear from the beginning, Sarah initially insists that their relationship is only part of their cover. However, when Chuck moves on and begins to date a girl named Lou, Sarah realizes her feelings for him are more than just a cover. Chuck eventually dumps Lou to be with Sarah, only to discover that her former lover Bryce is still alive. Later on Chuck gets back together with his old girlfriend Jill and Sarah gets jealous. Then after that, Sarah becomes attracted to MI6 Agent Cole and Chuck gets jealous and so on...
  • Unusual Euphemism: Non-sexual example. Casey's codename for briefings is "yogurt time".
  • UST: Frequently. Chuck is a nerd with a really hot Action Girlfriend. However, to her it's just a job, or at least she is trying to maintain her professionalism and her calm reserve, especially after how her last workplace relationship ended. Everyone has remarked on her feelings for him, and he wears his heart on his sleeve. After a brief period of trying to be a couple, mostly off-screen between seasons two and three, they decided to be just friends. This won't last forever. Finally resolved in "Chuck Versus the Other Guy".
  • Video Phone: General Beckman's interchanges with the team mostly happen through one of these, as do liaisons between Castle and various field operatives.
  • Visual Pun: Chuck frequently wears Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers, often referred to simply as "Chucks".
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Casey and Chuck are Type I for most of the first three seasons, with Casey softening on Chuck as time has gone on to the point where Chuck gets the new intersect and has some spy skills of his own, he and Casey evolve to Type II with the caveat that Casey still terrifies Chuck and can silence him with one of his trademark grunts.
    • Once Morgan is in on the spy stuff, he and Casey become Type I.
  • Wait Here: Chuck is always told to stay in the car during missions. He never does, until "Chuck Versus the Colonel", and EVEN THEN.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Threats to national security show up within thirty feet of Chuck all the time.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: FULCRUM is an entire organization of ultra-patriots whose research into the Intersect is meant for creating better soldiers, moral qualms be damned.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Chuck and Sarah:
    • Brutally lampshaded by the bad guys of all people in "Chuck Versus the Fake Name."
    • Drawn out for more than twenty episodes after they demonstrated their feelings for each other, complete with numerous ResetButtons. This may be a new record.
    • "Chuck Versus the Other Guy" has finally shifted the paradigm. And there was much rejoicing.
      General Beckman: And off the record? It's about damn time.
    • A somewhat ambiguous example in the finale where the viewer is left to wonder whether Chuck and Sarah actually do end up together when Sarah has no memory of their relationship. It's implied that she's getting her memories back and that the final kiss means they're headed back to normalcy, but not everyone saw it that way.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Season 2 ends with Stephen handing Chuck his wrist computer so that he can help Casey and Sarah stop The Ring from taking the new Intersect. In season 3, Chuck no longer has it, yet we never see it with his dad either. It would later be seen in Orion's vault underneath the old Bartowski family home in "Chuck Versus The Ring: Part II", and was likely destroyed along with the vault during Season 4.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Although neither seem to have any problems when it comes to killing in the heat of battle or in self-defense, both Chuck and Sarah enter this mode with regards to each other at various points: Chuck, after seeing Sarah murder the FULCRUM agent to protect him in "Chuck Versus Santa Claus" and Sarah enters this mode regarding Chuck when she thinks he actually went through the red test and killed a mole in "Chuck Versus the Final Exam".

    Specific episodes 
  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: In "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible", Kathleen McHugh, thinking her fiancé Alexander Coburn now John Casey is dead, has found herself a new boyfriend/husband. Her daughter Alex keeps her mother and father from meeting in order to preserve her mother's happiness.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade:
    • Chuck uses broken CDs as shuriken in "Chuck Versus the CAT Squad", they actually stick into the Nerd Herd desk.
    • Sarah throws a chopstick that is sharp enough to pierce through a target's body in "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train".
  • Accidental Misnaming: Carina refers to Morgan as "Martin" in "Chuck Versus the Wookiee" and "Chuck Versus the Three Words".
  • Action Dress Rip: Sarah cleanly tears off the bottom of her bridesmaid dress to prepare for battle with Fulcrum agents in "Chuck Versus the Ring".
  • Adrenaline Make Over: Done by Ellie and Devon when they accidentally become spies in "Chuck Versus the Curse", as Ellie gets rid of the pin in her hair and Devon loses his shirt to cut the power.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Chuck worries Sarah will no longer want to be with him after he loses the Intersect in "Chuck Versus The Fear Of Death", despite learning Sarah loved him as he was and didn't want to see him lose himself to the spy life the previous season.
  • A God Am I: It at least appears Morgan is suffering from this with the Intersect in his head early in season five. It turns out it came from the bad guys instead of Beckman, and it's melting Morgan's brain. Luckily, it's extracted from Morgan before further damage can be done to the guy's brain.
  • Air-Vent Passageway:
    • The trio sneaks in via air vent in "Chuck Versus the Fat Lady".
    • In "Chuck Versus the Ring", he sneaks into the room with the Intersect via the air vent.
    • Played straight in "Chuck Versus the Cubic Z".
    • Casey uses the vents to gain access to Castle when Shaw captures Sarah in "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit".
  • The Alleged Car: Morgan's titular car in "Chuck Versus the DeLorean."
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit" features Shaw taking over Castle and holding Casey and Sarah hostage.
  • Amazon Brigade:
    • Fatima Tazi and her entire organization consisting entirely of fairly attractive women in tank tops and high-heeled boots with machine guns in "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible".
    • "Chuck Versus the Cat Squad" reveals that Sarah was once part of an all-female spy team called the CAT (Clandestine Attack Team) Squad.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: "Chuck Versus Santa Claus" and "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit".
    • "Chuck Versus the Crown Vic" takes place during the Christmas season.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The emotion-suppressing Laudanol in "Chuck Versus the Tic Tac".
  • Arc Words: "Chuck Versus The Beefcake" had Everyone talks.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Sarah to Chuck in front of the entire team in "Chuck Versus the Fear Of Death", after he has lost his ability to use the Intersect 2.0.
    Sarah: Why does it make sense to risk your life?
    Chuck: Because it's what I do. I'm a spy!
    Sarah: No Chuck, you're not!
  • As Himself:
    • "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit" has Stan Lee make a cameo appearance.
    • "Chuck Versus Bo" has, well, Bo Derek.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Casey takes out The Viper and her men in "Chuck Versus the Business Trip".
  • Asshole Victim: Emmett Milbarge in "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip".
  • Back for the Dead: Bryce is Put on a Bus early in Season 2, but returns in the season finale to be killed by Ring agents.
  • Back for the Finale: Two people: Linda Hamilton as Mary Elizabeth "Frost" Bartowski, and—oddly enough—Mark Pellegrino as a previously-unnamed FULCRUM agent whose only appearance was in "Chuck Versus the Fat Lady."
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Chuck and Sarah, and Morgan and Casey in "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners".
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Invoked by Morgan when he's going undercover as a supervillain, to give the other villains in the room an Establishing Character Moment.
    Morgan: Shoot the puppy! I'm so sick of feeding him.
  • Badass Bystander:
    • Big Mike tackling Leader in "Chuck Versus the Gravitron".
    • Morgan, Awesome, and Big Mike taking down a Fulcrum operative in "Chuck Versus Santa Claus".
    • Jeff chloroforming a Ring agent in "Chuck Versus the Beard".
  • Badass Longcoat: Volkoff in "Chuck Versus the Leftovers".
  • Bait-and-Switch: Played for all it's worth in "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger" — Chuck rushes into Sarah's hospital room with the cure for the Norseman, but it's unclear if it was too late as the scene fades to white. Cue jump cut to the exterior of a church, and a sign reading "Funeral and Viewing, 3PM" only for the camera to quickly pan downwards to reveal "Bartowski Wedding, 4PM".
  • Balcony Escape: Seen in "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover", "Chuck Versus the Seduction" and, unsurprisingly, "Chuck Versus the Balcony".
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Chuck pulls one off in "Chuck Versus Agent X" when demonstrating that he's the Intersect to Ellie.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: Played with in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary": Sarah and Casey discover (through the villain's walkie-talkie) that Chuck and Morgan are surrounded by ten enemy guards, armed with weapons. Gunfire and screaming commences, but we only hear it through the walkie-talkie as we focus on Sarah and Casey's expressions. While they believe that Chuck is dead, we then hear Chuck talking through the Walkie-Talkie, and see all ten guards strewn about all over the place.
    Morgan: You were limber!
  • Beach Episode:
    • "Chuck Versus the Beard" finds time to put Ellie in a swimsuit at the pool. To balance this out, Awesome is shirtless.
    • "Chuck Versus the Coup d'Etat". While they never go to the beach, Costa Gravas is home to some beaches and Sarah tries on some bikinis.
    • "Chuck Versus the Kept Man" also puts the crew in Miami (and) South Beach for a good part of it, even if Sarah is, again, the only one wearing a swimsuit (despite Gertrude in a very nice dress insisting that Casey wear a banana hammock).
  • Beef Bandage: Chuck provides one for Sarah's black eye in "Chuck Versus the Cougars" - in the form of a hamburger patty, because he couldn't afford a real steak with his Buy More salary.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Chuck in "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip".
  • Belly Dancer: The compound in Morocco in "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible" had these. Sometime later, Sarah wears a belly dancing outfit to try to seduce Chuck into eloping with her.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • This happens a lot with Casey, most notably:
      • In "Chuck Versus the Ring" (with his commando unit)
      • In "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip", coming in on a helicopter with a big-ass gun, definitely reminiscent of the original Big Damn Heroes scene (which Adam Baldwin was actually part of).
    • In "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II," Ellie Bartowski's promotion to Badass Normal comes when she mounts a rescue effort with Morgan and Awesome to save the other three members of Team Bartowski.
    • The way Chuck brought the cavalry to save Casey and Sarah in "Chuck Versus the First Date" comes to mind, too.
    • "Chuck Versus the Ring" has two in quick succession — Bryce walking into the reception hall just as Roark is ordering his men to shoot Chuck; and shortly after that, once Fulcrum has secured Bryce, Sarah & Chuck and Roark is about to shoot Chuck (again), Casey and his special forces unit burst into the room through a skylight.
    • In the season 4 finale, "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger", Chuck pulls one off.
    Casey: Russians. So many Russians.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train", Jeff and Lester (yes, Those Two Guys...) manage to pull one off to save Morgan, Alex, and Awesome.
  • Big Heroic Run: Chuck rescuing the team for the first time without the aid of The Intersect at the climax of "Chuck Versus the Zoom".
  • Big "NO!":
    • Morgan when he discovers a ring with which he thinks Chuck will propose to Sarah in "Chuck Versus the Marlin".
    • Sarah has one in "Chuck Versus the First Date" when it appears Mr. Colt has dropped Chuck off a roof to his death.
    • Shaw in "Chuck Versus the American Hero", after seeing the video where Sarah shot his wife.
    • Chuck says this in "Chuck Versus Sarah" when diving to take a bullet meant for Sarah. And it's in slow-motion, too.
  • Birthday Episode: The pilot.
  • Black-Tie Infiltration: Occurs quite a few times, given this is a spy series. "Chuck Versus the Tango", "Chuck Versus the Crown Vic", "Chuck Versus the Break-Up", "Chuck Versus the Lethal Weapon", "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte", "Chuck Versus the Role Models", "Chuck Versus the Suitcase", "Chuck Versus the Coup d'Etat", "Chuck Versus the Fear of Death", "Chuck Versus the Balcony" and "Chuck Versus the Masquerade".
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands:
    • "Lizzie" accidentally does this to Sarah in "Chuck versus the Marlin".
    • Verbanski does this to villain of the week Karl Sneijder in "Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit".
  • Blatant Lies:
    • The team usually only lies to friends and family out of necessity, but in "Chuck Versus Santa Claus", Sarah's hamming it up to Ellie during a (civilian, fairly peaceful) hostage situation is particularly ironic.
    Sarah: I'm just scared, I've never been this close to a gun before.
    • Imposing supervillain Alexei Volkoff insists that kids love him in "Chuck Versus The Leftovers".
  • Blood from the Mouth: Ring operative Sydney Prince, when she is killed, in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome".
  • Bond One-Liner: Casey loves these.
    • (After knocking out a bad guy with a microwave) "How's that for moving some merchandise?"
    • (After driving his car right into restaurant full of Fulcrum agents) "Somebody order drive-through?"
    • (After using the Intersect to take out a team of Fulcrum scientists while disguised as a TV repairman) "Somebody call the cable guy?"
  • Boom, Headshot!: Alexei Volkoff shoots his underling Yuri The Gobbler right in the head after a You Have Failed Me moment in "Chuck Versus the Gobbler".
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass:
    • Chuck and Awesome drag an unconscious guard to a retinal scanner in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome", instead of just cutting out his eye as instructed.
    • Chuck and Sarah use the fake handprint alternative to enter Castle's restricted area in "Chuck Versus the A-Team".
  • Bottle Episode:
    • Season 2: "Chuck Versus Santa Claus"
    • Season 3: "Chuck Versus the Beard"
    • Season 4: "Chuck Versus the Cubic Z" and "Chuck Versus the Muuurder"
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Chuck pretends to be in Tyler Martin (Dominic Monaghan)'s band in "Chuck Versus the Third Dimension".
    Chuck: Yeeeeeaeah ah'm in 'is band alright, drummah, jus' layin' the beats down, like a li'l drummah boy, come they told me, pa rum pa pum pum.
    Tyler Martin: [slightly disgusted look]
  • Bring the Anchor Along: Casey gets handcuffed to a radiator in "Chuck Versus the Colonel". Not a problem if you just take the radiator with you.
  • Bouquet Toss: In a deleted scene in season 2, Sarah punches away the bouquet as it is being tossed in mid-air in Ellie and Devon's wedding.
  • Break the Haughty: Casey after returning to civilian life and being forced to make peace with Jeff and Lester in "Chuck Versus the Final Exam".
  • Broken Pedestal: Ty Bennett, for John Casey in "Chuck Versus the Sensei".
  • Bulletproof Vest:
    • Twice in "Chuck Versus the Nemesis".
    • Once in "Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror".
    • It's fortunate that Chuck was wearing one in "Chuck Versus Sarah". He dives in front of a bullet meant for Sarah, and ends up getting shot in the back.
  • Bullet Time: Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips," an episode in which guest star Carrie-Anne Moss features heavily.
    • Done in 'Chuck Versus the Business Trip', for about two minutes with shurikens... thrown by Chuck and Sarah, just for the heck of it.
  • Cable-Car Action Sequence: At the end of "Chuck Versus the Fear of Death".
  • Call-Back:
    • In "Chuck Versus the Colonel", newly promoted Colonel Casey is ordered to bring in Chuck dead or alive. Just as in the season 2 premiere, a photo of him rotates into Casey's fireplace for target practice. Unlike in the premiere, he doesn't miss.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Nemesis", it is established that "pineapple" is the one word that can initiate an evacuation of the Buy More. In "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II" when Buy More management arrives in the midst of a closing down sale, Jeff suggests they instigate an evacuation of the store by uttering the word; and in "Chuck Versus the Business Trip" Big Mike is heard wailing the word whilst Jeff pushes him out of the store in a wheelbarrow, after Lester tries to poison Jeff with carbon monoxide & Big Mike gets caught in the middle.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", Sarah tells Chuck that she fell for him "a long time ago, after you fixed my phone and before you started defusing bombs with computer viruses," both of which, incidentally, happened in the pilot.
    • In the next episode, "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners," Chuck is marveling at the fact that Sarah really doesn't have a favorite band... a conversation continued from their first date, also in the pilot.
    • Chuck & Shaw fight in an empty Buy More in "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II" with the fight coming to an end with Chuck holding Shaw at gun point but opting not to kill him & Sarah knocking Shaw out by hitting him in the back of the head with a pipe; in "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit," they fight in an empty Buy More again, but Shaw is the one with the gun and Ellie knocks him by hitting him in the back of the head with a pan.
    • Fittingly, "Chuck Versus the Goodbye" features several to the pilot & the previous five seasons of the show.
      • The Book Ends mentioned above (The "Irene Demova" virus; Chuck & Sarah on the beach).
      • Team Bartowski breaking into the CIA's Intersect room features several nods to Bryce doing the same thing in the pilot.
      • Jeffster! performs with orchestral accompaniment in order to buy Chuck and Sarah time to deal with Quinn, and delay the detonation of a bomb; they unknowingly did the same thing for Ted Roark, and to stall Ellie and Devon's aborted wedding in "Chuck Versus the Ring".
      • Morgan tells Chuck "you once told me to listen to our hearts, because our brains only screw us up"; this is what Chuck told Morgan when he was worried about leaving to become a Benihana Chef in the season 2 finale "Chuck Versus the Ring".
      • During the mission to apprehend Quinn, Sarah and Chuck end up going to a Wienerlicious branch in Berlin, with Sarah even wearing her old staff outfit, Girlish Pigtails and all.
  • Camera Sniper
    • In "Chuck Versus the Balcony", as Sarah makes a drop giving a bogus chip to a minor villain, we have a POV shot of someone taking pictures. Turns out it's an operative for the CIA, who believe that Sarah has had a Face–Heel Turn and is selling the real chip. Except it's really an operation to justify her going double in the Big Bad's employ in order to take him down and rescue Chuck's mother.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Zoom", someone from Decker's team is taking pictures of Chuck and Sarah as they are looking at their dream home.
  • Carrying the Antidote: "Chuck Versus the Truth"
  • Celebrity Paradox: "Chuck Versus the Tooth" starts with Chuck and Sarah talking about "spies like these" and even mention Chevy Chase. So when they watched the movie, didn't they recognize the guy who was his dad's enemy from the events leading up to his newest Intersect upgrade?
  • Chair Reveal:
    • Done in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary" to reveal General Beckman, or "Diane," as her Buy More name tag would suggest, in the manager's chair.
  • Chaotic Stupid: A lot of the protagonists' Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moments boil down to them acting recklessly. Some examples include:
    • Casey gets taken off the mission in "Chuck Versus the Sensei" because he challenged his former sensei to a game of car chicken. What makes it worse is that he and Sarah tracked the GPS on Chuck's watch to inside the trunk of his sensei's car. Despite knowing Chuck was in the trunk, and despite his job being to protect Chuck, Casey still challenged his sensei and risked Chuck's life in the process.
    • Chuck and Sarah screw up in "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners" when they decide to take out a terrorist on the same train as them. The two decide to handle this themselves and ignore their standard protocol. They drug the man and his two guards, only to learn that the two men aren't his guards, but Interpol agents. They were bringing the man into custody, as he was willing to trade information on his group in exchange for witness protection. When Beckman learns about this, she gets mad and tells them that they should've followed protocol and contacted her first thing when they learned about the terrorist, since if they did, she could've told them he was already in custody and the whole mess could've been avoided.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Bryce and Chuck speaking Klingon in "Chuck Versus the Nemesis".
  • Class Reunion: Jenny's, including the now-gorgeous-and-successful ex-loser, and the successful ex-nerd married to the bitter ex-Alpha Bitch. But all with a Spy Fiction twist.
  • Code Silver: "Chuck Versus Santa Claus"
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Cole is unfortunately subjected to it in back-to-back episodes "Chuck Versus the Beefcake" and "Chuck Versus the Lethal Weapon".
  • Combat Stilettos
    • Casey mentions he once stabbed a guy with a stiletto in "Chuck Versus the Suitcase".
    • A surprised Sarah very nearly skewers Morgan in the neck with her stiletto in "Chuck Versus the First Fight".
    • Also a Stealth Pun — stiletto heels get their name from a very thin knife that was often used in assassinations.
    • Numerous other female operatives wear high heels as well.
  • Con Man: Jack Burton in "Chuck Versus the DeLorean".
  • Conspicuous Consumption: After Volkoff gifts Chuck and Sarah $800 million dollars in seed money to start their private espionage firm, Carmichael Industries is quick to burn through the money on extravagant gadgets and vehicles.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Achmed Gambir in "Chuck Versus the Third Dimension" evades notice despite wearing a heavy trenchcoat in Burbank.
  • Continuity Nod: Several
    • Notably when Chuck relates the pilot story of defusing a bomb using internet porn to the rest of the CAT Squad when they visit him and Sarah.
    • Several of the attendees of the "Buy More house party" in "Chuck Versus the Cougars" are wearing Mighty Jocks jerseys (from the previous episode).
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • In "Chuck vs. The Nacho Sampler", Sarah's first entrance to the Buy More (from Chuck vs. The Intersect) is revisited twice. The first time, the original footage is used, i.e. Sarah's introductory shot -her looking away from the camera, then about-facing towards it (and Chuck and Morgan at the Nerd Herd Desk). The second time at the end of the episode features her walking in the main entrance while on the phone, locating the Nerd Herd desk, saying "Piece of Cake", and striding over. At no time does she turn 180 degrees.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Baby", the final flashback shows Director Graham assigning Sarah to be Chuck's handler immediately after her old handler is revealed to be corrupt. Previously, the series had presented that she was partners with Bryce prior to Bryce sending Chuck the Intersect, and her initial objective was to retrieve Chuck's computer which contained Bryce's email. She was not directed to become Chuck's handler until after the hard drive was destroyed and she learned Chuck had uploaded the Intersect himself.
  • Cool Boat: The Contessa from "Chuck Versus the Push Mix" has Anti-Aircraft Missiles, Sonar Stealth Technology, and an Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor! It's a Floating Fortress of Fun (purchased from Craigslist Dubai)!
  • Cool Car: Casey's Crown Vic, which is destroyed in "Chuck Versus the Crown Vic". He gets a new one as a reward for catching the Ring Director in "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", complete with a missile launcher as seen in "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II".
  • Crazy Enough to Work: While this trope is used by the heroes on a near-weekly basis (see "series as a whole" above), it gets one noticeable invocation from the Buy More staff in "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II":
    Big Mike: That's crazy!
    Lester: * grins deviously* ...crazyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy... good?
    Big Mike: There may be a brain under that mop after all.
  • Criminal Amnesiac: Sarah in "Chuck Versus Sarah".
  • Crowd Hockey: "Chuck Versus the Cubic Z" has Morgan chasing after the eponymous Cubic Zirconium ring during a Buy More riot. He doesn't find it. Chuck does. On bended knee. In front of Sarah.
  • Curtain Camouflage: "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible", with Chuck and Sarah trying to avoid being caught as Roan Montgomery goes... uh... deep undercover.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Gregory Tuttle threatens to rip out Chuck's throat with a plastic fork at their first meeting in "Chuck Versus the First Fight".
  • Dance Battler: While handcuffed together in "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners," Chuck and Sarah fight a group of Basque terrorists. They work together using swing dancing to take down the bad guys. Sadly, Chuck's flash for this was for regular martial arts, rather than actually flashing on swing dancing.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • As Zachary Levi was busy preparing "Chuck Versus the Leftovers", most of "Chuck Versus Phase Three" focused on Sarah.
    • Jeff is the only character not connected to Chuck's spy life that got his own episode in "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer".
  • Deadly Game: Two in "Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff": a game of Uno played by Chuck against a cheating Somali pirate, and a game of chess played by Alexei Volkoff against a virtual opponent.
  • Deadly Nosebleed: Sarah when she is poisoned by The Norseman in "Chuck Versus the Last Details".
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: In "Chuck Verses the Subway", Daniel Shaw attempts to discredit Chuck by showing that the Intersect is causing him to go insane. However, Chuck notices that Shaw has an Intersect as well and tries to retaliate by discrediting Shaw. Knowing that the Intersect gives Shaw Super-Reflexes, he tries to prove this by throwing a knife at Shaw expecting Shaw to catch it. Instead Shaw allows the knife to impale him and this "proves" that Chuck is insane.
  • Destroy the Security Camera: Mary shoots out the security camera after shooting Chuck in the chest, so that Volkoff will assume Chuck is dead and not realize he was wearing a Bulletproof Vest.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Done in almost blink-and-you-miss-it manner "Chuck vs the Fake Name". The dramatic name reveal scene ends in a Sarah-Shaw makeout. Later, when Chuck barges into the room, Sarah's voice initially comes from offscreen, and when she appears in the frame, she's no longer wearing the vest she had over her shirt in the previous scene, and she's standing in front of an open bedroom door. How far they got before Chuck interrupted them is left to the viewer's imagination.
  • Didn't See That Coming: "Chuck vs the Subway", Shaw assumes that he's won once he's killed Orion and locked up Beckman, Casey, Sarah and Chuck — essentially all of regular Team Bartowski. A rescue by Morgan, Ellie, and Awesome takes him completely by surprise.
  • Diegetic Switch:
    • Happens with the Jeffster! season 2 performances:
      • Morgan tries to tell Anna he loves her at the end of "Chuck Versus the Best Friend" to Jeffster!'s cover of Toto's "Africa," which transitions to the real cover when she kisses him.
      • The wedding sequence in "Chuck Versus the Ring" starts with Jeffster! (and string quartet) performing "Mr. Roboto," which subsequently transitions to an in-house cover scored orchestrally, which finally transitions to the real song.
    • "Chuck Versus the Alma Mater" does this with "Don't Look Back in Anger" playing on the radio while Chuck looks at photos, and switching to background music during a flashback.
    • "Chuck Versus the Last Details" also features this with Chuck and Morgan humming "The Imperial March" in order to get him psyched up for a meeting. Cut to him walking to the meeting with The Imperial March blaring in the background.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: "Chuck Versus the Leftovers" features terrorists taking over the Buy More. Morgan plays John McClane.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Zachary Levi (Chuck) directed "Chuck Versus the Beard" in season three, "Chuck Versus the Leftovers" in season four, and "Chuck Versus the Hack-off" in season five.
  • Dirty Old Man: Stan Lee in "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit".
  • Disaster Dominoes: Emmett triggers one in "Chuck Versus the Predator".
  • Disney Villain Death:
    • Daniel Shaw; in "Chuck Versus the Tooth" it is revealed that he survived being shot and falling into a river.
    • Lampshaded by Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Living Dead".
  • Distinction Without a Difference: In "Chuck Versus the Best Friend", Morgan wants to figure out if Anna has a new boyfriend.
    Morgan: Dude, it's not stalking, okay? It's caring enough about someone to learn things about them they won't tell you themselves.
    Chuck: Which is stalking.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • "Chuck Versus Phase Three". His inability to flash (in his first dream) is a metaphor for sexual inadequacy.
    • Morgan being advised to 'think about baseball' in order to prevent premature zooming in "Chuck Versus the Zoom."
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Sarah once revealed her (presumed) birth name to Shaw in a moment of weakness. When Shaw uses the name after his Face–Heel Turn in "Chuck Versus the Subway", Sarah punches him in the face.
  • Double-Meaning Title:
    • Season 2 Finale "Chuck Versus the Ring" seems to relate to the fact Chuck's cover for stalling Ellie's wedding being the excuse that he forgot the wedding ring. However, this works to hide the Twist Ending and the introduction of the new Big Bad group for the next season: The Ring.
    • "Chuck Versus The Beard" refers to both Morgan, fan-nicknamed "The Beard", "firing" Chuck as his best friend, and Morgan refering to Sarah as Chuck's "beard" when he learns the two were faking their relationship.
  • Downer Beginning: "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip" to Season 3 as a whole. It's a major Happy Ending Override after the Season 2 Series Fauxnale that shows Chuck and Morgan at their lowest points.
  • Downer Ending:
    • "Chuck Versus Santa Claus"
      Morgan: What do you do when you see your girlfriend do something so horrific, it gets permanently burned into your brain?
      Chuck: I don't know, buddy. But I know exactly what you mean.
    • "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler" Chuck has his "friend" Manoosh put into a "secure underground location". The last thing Chuck says to him? "I'm not your friend. I'm a spy." Then he goes back to his apartment alone to drown his sorrows in a bottle of whiskey.
    • "Chuck Versus the Fake Name" Chuck breaks up with his then-girlfriend Hannah after he realizes that he can never tell her the truth about his work as a spy and that he still has feelings for Sarah. It's the right thing to do, but he still gets an earful from Hannah, who thinks he only faked affection to get into her pants. And at the same time, Sarah is getting intimate with Shaw. Cue very lonely Chuck walking down the street, looking as desolate as he's ever been.
    • "Chuck Versus the Gobbler" Casey is comatose after being pushed by Sarah from a high-rise, Sarah is feeling terribly guilty about it, and Chuck has no idea what's going on.
    • "Chuck Versus Sarah" The bad guy's got the Intersect glasses, and Sarah decides to leave Chuck in order to go after the bad guy, after admitting that she's not quite feeling the love that they once shared.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock:
    Volkoff: I didn't really need to do that. I just love the sound.
    • Gets a Call-Back in "Chuck Versus the Push Mix" when Volkoff is headed to a showdown with Chuck again.
  • Dropping the Bombshell: Morgan to Chuck in "Chuck Versus the Beard".
    Morgan: Dude, there's a secret underground CIA base under our Buy More!
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Chuck turns to the bottle after he has to burn an asset in "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler", and again, much more heavily, after he thinks he's lost Sarah to Shaw in "Chuck Versus the Other Guy".
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Emmett is concerned at how the Buy More staff would handle potential emergencies in "Chuck Versus The Ex". While listing potential emergencies that might occur, Lester jokingly suggests "an all-out race war", which none of his coworkers find funny.
  • Duel of Seduction: Played for Laughs in "Chuck Versus Seduction Impossible". Chuck and Sarah both use Roan's advice to try to seduce each other into complying with their respective wedding ideas; Chuck by organizing a fancy dinner, and Sarah by belly dancing.
  • Dumped via Text Message: Morgan does this to Alex in "Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips".
  • Easy Amnesia: Played with in Season 4 and averted in Season 5, courtesy of the Intersect.
    • Season 4: Stephen Bartowski's best friend, Hartley Winterbottom, uploaded the Intersect to create himself as Alexei Volkoff, however the Intersect malfunctioned and the Volkoff personality overwrote his own for almost the next 30 years. When the Intersect was removed Hartley could remember nothing from his time as Volkoff, but his memory prior to uploading the Intersect was restored intact. Thus, Volkoff could remember nothing of his real identity while Hartley lost all memory of his life as Volkoff.
    • Season 5: Morgan and Sarah's memories are both badly damaged by malfunctioning Intersects, both unintentionally (Morgan) and induced by the villain (Sarah). Morgan was forced to relearn many things, including his love of pop culture. Sarah's memory was even more severely impaired: she forgot everything that happened to her dating back five years and was subsequently brainwashed and manipulated by Quinn. Sarah slowly began remembering small details from before her mind was damaged, however while implied Sarah would eventually recover her memory, it appears this process may take time, and it is unclear just how much she will regain.
  • Electric Torture: CIA traitor Robin Cunnings' "Toy" in "Chuck Versus the Curse". She winds up the only character actually subjected to it by the end of the episode.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: "Chuck Versus the Other Guy"
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Chuck learning Kung Fu from The Intersect 2.0 in the Season Two finale "Chuck Versus the Ring".
  • Engineered Public Confession: In "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II", Chuck gets one out of Shaw, in front of the entire brass of every major spy organization.
    Chuck: You know, your Nerd Herd associate can also help you with videoconferencing. Smile, Daniel... you're on TV.
  • Episode on a Plane: "Chuck Versus First Class"
  • Establishing Character Moment: The pilot is obviously loaded with them.
    • Chuck: In his first scene, it's clear he's still socially hobbled by the events that happened in Stanford with Bryce & Jill. In his second scene it's clear that he's a gifted computer repairman, the respected and competent supervisor of the Nerd Herd, and all-around Nice Guy towards customers.
    • Sarah: Her first scene, that of charming Chuck and gaining his confidence, is quickly shown to be an act, as she's also the "ninja" who destroys his computer, her second scene. Together, the two scenes tell an awful lot about her - pretty, charming, even seductive, but a highly competent agent, and a lethal fighter.
    • Bryce Larkin: (not an accountant) No kidding!
    • Casey: Guns down Bryce with hardly word. John Casey, ladies and gents- big on shooting, not big on talking.
  • Everybody Did It: "Chuck Versus the Suburbs" sees the team attempting to track down a sleeper agent in the Meadow's Branch suburban cul-de-sac. It turns out every person living on the cul-de-sac is a sleeper agent.
  • Everyone Knows Morse: "Chuck Versus the American Hero". Good thing for Sarah that Casey just so happens to use Morse Code to chat with his old buddies.
  • Evil Counterpart: In addition to the recurring ECs above...
    • In "Chuck Versus the Suburbs", it is revealed that FULCRUM is trying to make an evil counterpart to Chuck with their own Intersect. Inadvertently, they use Chuck as a test subject, so now he's two Intersects.
    • Sarah and the Alpha Bitch from her high school Heather Chandler. Sarah's in love with a nerd while Heather married a nerd for the money and even that wasn't enough.
    • It can be argued that Daniel Shaw is more appropriately seen as an Evil Counterpart to Sarah rather than Chuck. They're both extremely competent spies, and Shaw is best understood as the person Sarah might have become if she'd lost Chuck. This is actually somewhat lampshaded in "Chuck Versus The Santa Suit" when Shaw tells Sarah that he's going to do to her what she did to him — namely, kill the most important person in her life.
  • Evil Makeover: Sarah, when she goes undercover at Volkoff Industries in "Chuck Versus The Gobbler".
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Devon. When Morgan asks him to describe a typical day, Morgan practically falls in love with him after hearing how much he does for Ellie, just because he loves her.
  • Evil Laugh: Mocked by Shaw in "Chuck Versus the Subway" and by Chuck (even if you can't really call Chuck evil) in "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II". "Muhaha."
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
  • Explosive Leash: Awesome is fitted with one courtesy of The Ring in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome".
  • Eye Scream:
    • Subverted in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome", where Chuck and Awesome are instructed to cut out a man's eye to pass a retinal scanner but simply drag the man's unconscious body to the scanner instead.
    • "Chuck Versus the Gobbler". No blood and no direct shot (it IS a broadcast TV show!), but the squishy noises and the implication can still serve as effective Nausea Fuel.
  • Fake Identity Baggage: In "Chuck Versus The Fake Name", Team Bartowski captures an assassin named Rafe Gruber so that Chuck can impersonate him and acquire information about his target. The first complication occurs when one of the mobsters Chuck is working with learns that Casey is an agent and Chuck is forced to torture him in order to maintain his cover. The second comes when Chuck discovers that Rafe's target is his teammate Daniel Shaw. A combination of the real Rafe escaping and killing the mobsters, and then Casey killing Rafe spares Shaw.
  • Fake Kill Scare: A variant appears in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary": Sarah and Casey have been captured, and Chuck and Morgan are surrounded as they attempt to save them. Sarah begs for them to be let go over the radio, and Marko orders his men to kill them. Gunshots and a scream are heard.... and then Chuck's voice is heard.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out:
    • "Wow. Girl on top. Miss Walker, when Herr Wienerlicious signs your paycheck, I doubt he's factoring in make-out sessions with your boy-toy."
    • "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit" brings us the greatest comic example of all time, when General Beckman plants a big wet one on Chuck to prevent CIA security from discovering that they're searching for a device in Decker's office.
      (long, awkward silence)
      Chuck: You know, I typically brush my teeth before I—
      Beckman: We never speak of this again.
      Chuck: Ever. Ever.
  • Faking the Dead:
    • Shaw fakes his own murder immediately after he and Chuck meet in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome", which fools The Ring... for the moment.
    • Chuck comes up with a plan to fake Casey's death to lure his old rogue teammates out of hiding in "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock".
    • Morgan pretends to be dead at a meeting in "Chuck Versus the Last Details". As does one other person at that meeting.
  • False Reassurance: In "Chuck Versus the First Date", he asks what happens to him as the old Intersect once the new Intersect comes online:
    Graham: Tomorrow the new computer will be online. Operation Bartowski officially comes to an end. You'll be done with us. No more briefings, no more missions, no more spies. Enjoy the rest of your life, Chuck.
    • ...because it'll end as soon as the new computer comes online.
  • Fan Disservice: THREE WORDS: Open shirt Jeff.
  • Faux Horrific: Jeff and Lester's Aisle of Terror. Images said to induce horror in even the most fearless. Images like old people, public showers, babies in snail costumes, and otters.
    • Hilariously subverted at the climax, when Chuck uses the Aisle Of Terror to terrorize the villain, who has been affected by his own Fear Toxin and finds the Aisle truly horrific.
  • Fictional Counterpart: In "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler", Weap-Con stands in for IDEX.
  • Fight Scene Failure: In-Universe example. When Chuck and Morgan watch a security video of Daniel Shaw fighting the Ring agents, Morgan notices that they aren't actually hitting each other exposing Shaw as a traitor.
  • Find the Cure!:
    • Chuck, Sarah and Casey race to find a cure when all three, along with Ellie, are poisoned in "Chuck Versus the Truth".
    • Chuck and Casey team up to do this for Shaw and Sarah in "Chuck Versus the Mask", using a fake version of the chemical weapon on the buyer so he will lead them to the cure.
    • Chuck has to do this in "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger" when Vivian Volkoff poisons Sarah on the eve of their wedding.
  • Five-Man Band: Team Bartowski when Ellie gets in on the action in "Chuck Versus Agent X", with Chuck as The Hero, Sarah as The Lancer, Casey as The Big Guy, Ellie as The Smart Guy and Morgan as The Heart.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Chuck's drunken spiel to Sarah midway through "Chuck Versus the Other Guy".
    Chuck: I thought Shaw was bad and I was gonna save you, and we were gonna be together.
    • "Chuck Versus the Subway"
    Stephen: This is the last time I'm gonna walk away from you.
  • Forgot the Disability: Jeff, when he is running an insurance scam in "Chuck Versus the Zoom".
  • Friendlessness Insult: In "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock", Morgan and Casey's already difficult relationship worsens when Casey learns that Morgan is dating his daughter Alex. When Casey tries to bully Morgan into dumping Alex, Morgan refuses and goes as far as telling Casey that he's really upset because the only people who showed up at Casey's (fake) funeral where the ones who actually wanted him dead.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Ellie, in "Chuck Versus the Living Dead" and "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit".
  • Full-Name Basis: Bo Derek in "Chuck Versus Bo" (except, oddly enough, in the title). It's hilarious.
  • Gatling Good:
    • Casey's Big Damn Heroes moment in "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip".
    • Subverted in "Chuck Versus the Leftovers" when Volkoff's hacker disables the Buy More's gatling gun defenses.
    • The Nighthawk motorcycle is equipped with two in "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger".
  • Get into Jail Free: Casey and Morgan pose as guards so they can sneak Chuck into a prison as a prisoner in "Chuck Versus the Gobbler".
  • Girl with Psycho Weapon: The new 'Greta' CIA agent played by Summer Glau in "Chuck Versus the Fear of Death". She carries a small serrated knife she refers to as her "favorite friend".
  • Give Away the Bride: Chuck and his father Stephan both give away Ellie on her wedding.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In "Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner", Chuck and Sarah get conned and don't have enough authority to find the conwoman. Chuck fakes a flash to get the general to put more people on it; fishing for a connection to make the target important enough to for the general to put more resources on her, he accidentally links her to a notorious terrorist... and the general puts ALL resources on her. Which leads directly to...
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The general no longer trusts them, and Chuck's next flash isn't believed.
  • Grand Finale: "Chuck Versus the Goodbye".
  • Great Escape:
    • Chuck gets thrown into prison so he can break out with Yuri The Gobbler in "Chuck Versus the Gobbler".
    • Casey breaks out of prison with the help of Morgan and Verbanski in "Chuck Versus the Hack Off".
    • Shaw spends the first half of Season 5 executing an elaborate plan to break out of prison, which comes to fruition in "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit".
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Whether he's tied to someone or the other person just happens to be nearby, John Casey can and will kick ass. With the other person's ass.
    • Casey uses Chuck, tied back-to-back in chairs in "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover".
    • Called back to in "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners". This time, it's Morgan tied to Casey.
  • Gunman with Three Names: The Buy More hostage-taker of "Chuck Versus Santa Claus" introduces himself this way.
  • Guns Akimbo:
    • Cole Barker. "Wow — two guns. You really are a badass."
      • Averted as he then gives one gun to Chuck, and keeps the other himself.
      • ... though he had previously used two guns against a helicopter.
    • Also when Chuck goes to save his dad in "Chuck Versus the Dream Job". Dual tranq guns.
    • Chuck again in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome." Again, tranq guns.
    • Also Shaw with real guns.
    • Sarah in "Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil".
    • Sarah, in flashback, in "Chuck Versus the Baby".
  • Halloween Episode: "Chuck Versus The Sandworm" and "Chuck Versus The Aisle Of Terror" both have Halloween-related plots. "Chuck Versus The Bearded Bandit" also takes place during the Halloween season, but only in the form of set decorations.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Chuck narrating the fears in the "Aisle of Terror" to Dr. Wheelwright, whose responses are just as hilarious.
    • OTTERS!
  • Handicapped Badass:
    • Chuck sprains his ankle in "Chuck Versus the Lethal Weapon" but still has to fend off Fulcrum, on one good leg. The real badass part is that he uses his casted leg as a weapon to knock out the guy.
    • Casey is probably the epitome of this.
      • "Chuck Versus the Coup d'Etat"
      Torrini: Don't make me shoot a man in a wheelchair.
      Casey: (stands) Better?
      • In "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock", he manages to escape an alpha team while under heavy sedation.
      • In "Chuck Versus the Push Mix", he takes down an assassin who attempted to smother him. With a bonsai tree. After tricking him into thinking he was dead by slipping his heart monitor off his finger. All while bedridden!
  • Happier Home Movie: Used by The Ring to torment Shaw in "Chuck Versus the American Hero" with footage of his murdered wife.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Invoked in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary", when Mary asks Marco whether or not he told Volkoff about Chuck searching for her.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: Chuck and Casey in "Chuck Versus The Frosted Tips". They run into a helicopter and its surroundings on fire to rescue Morgan and Gertrude Verbanski respectively.
  • High-Dive Escape: Daniel Shaw has a particularly stylish one in "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II", grabbing onto a large American flag as he jumps out the window and using it to spin around and re-enter the building on a lower floor, from which he escapes before anyone can arrive.
  • Hijacked by Ganon:
    • "Chuck Versus Santa Claus" starts out as a somewhat refreshing change from the secret agent stuff, but then, about 15 minutes from the end, suddenly FULCRUM ends up behind it all, including both the guy holding up the store and the agent handling the case.
    • The central villains of Season 5 are a secret cabal within the CIA hell-bent on ruining Chuck's life. They're all working for the imprisoned Daniel Shaw.
  • Historical In-Joke / Noodle Incident: Gen. Beckman and Roan Montgomery's romance have changed history.
  • How's Your British Accent?: Australian-born Yvonne Strahovski pretends to be Australian for a few moments in "Chuck versus the Ex", using her natural Australian accent.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: Casey unleashes one on Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners".
    Morgan: Chuck's probably doing something important. Let's cut the man some slack. He's got the world's fate resting in his hands.
    Casey: Oh, I'd say he's got something else resting in his hands... Chuck's off the grid with Walker... Do the math, Grimes... He's going to need a walker when Walker's through with him... They're having intercourse, you idiot!
    Morgan: Oh. Oh. Got you. Say no more.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In a meta-example note , during the cold open of "Chuck Versus the Tooth:"
    Sarah: It's official. There is absolutely nothing on TV.
    Chuck: Yeah, Monday night's going to be a bit of a wasteland.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...:
    • Sarah gives Lou this line regarding Chuck. And then again to Jill.
    • Chuck does this in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary"
    • One issued to Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock":
      Casey: You break her heart, I break your everything.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: Chuck with the phrase "fasten your seatbelt" in "Chuck Versus the Last Details".
  • I Can't Dance:
    • "Chuck Versus the Tango" has Chuck learning the girl's part of the Tango.
    • Subverted in "Chuck Versus The Good-bye" despite Chuck's not having the Intersect, because his wife's apparently given him a few lessons since then.
      Sarah: I need to find somebody to dance with. I'm going to get close to Remy —
      Chuck: Sarah! Please, you taught me how to dance.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Chuck grasps this firmly in "Chuck Versus the Beefcake" when he tries to hack a FULCRUM data chip at the Buy More front desk when Sarah and Casey are half the city away trying to nab a FULCRUM agent. Needless to say, it goes poorly.
    • General Beckman clings to a massive one in "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", when she keeps Shaw and Sarah on the same team after she finds out that Sarah killed Shaw's wife for her red test. To paraphrase: Beckman: "I'm disbanding the team because Sarah assassinated your wife" Shaw: "Oh, no need for that. I'm totally cool with it. No need for a full psychological evaluation or anything. You can totally just take my word for it and have me go on a mission with Sarah by ourselves where she'll be totally at my mercy." Beckman: "Well gee, if you say so Shaw. You're such a professional, and not a psycho timebomb waiting to go off or anything. Chuck, you should be more like Shaw. Well, have fun!"
      • Beckman even keeps grasping it after the situation has been resolved. Thanks to her actions, one of her agents almost gets killed, with said agent only being alive because another agent essentially goes rogue to save her after the General refuses to listen to his warnings. Then she just calls them at the end of the episode, and instead of issuing an apology simply commends them for the job well done and expects them to show up at work as if nothing happened. Small wonder they hang up on her.
  • I Have a Family: "Chuck Versus the Anniversary" has a rare villain example of this. When Chuck's mom, Mary, is motivated into killing the men with her and escaping, Marco tries this exact line on her. She simply replies, "So do I" and shoots him.
  • If I Can't Have You…: In "Chuck Versus The Leftovers", Volkoff does this to Frost. A quite twisted example since he's not really losing her to anyone, just that he is worried that he'll be captured and would rather she die then live without him.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat:
    • In ""Chuck Versus the Helicopter", Chuck flying the helicopter is half-knowledge of an Apache chopper game and half Sarah convincing him that that's the best way to think about it.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", Morgan's extensive knowledge of Sonny Chiba films helps Chuck figure out that Shaw is working for The Ring.
    • Chuck is a crack shot with his tranq gun without needing to flash, thanks to Duck Hunt.
    • Inverted as well, as he's now also outrageously good at Duck Hunt due to his flashing and spy training.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: In "Chuck Versus Santa Claus", a desperate man imprisons everyone inside the Buy More and holds Chuck Sarah and Casey at gunpoint. Chuck manages to talk him down and asks him to put the safety on, but he doesn't know how to do it. Chuck and the agent both toy with the gun struggling to put the safety on and accidentally shoot Casey in the foot. Subverted when it's revealed the man is actually a Fulcrum agent, and he likely shot Casey deliberately to incapacitate him without it being too obvious.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: In "Chuck Versus Sarah", as Chuck has to convince a Brainwashed and Crazy Sarah to not kill him. However, Chuck himself doesn't actually physically fight Sarah, opting instead to verbally tell her about his love for her while getting beaten down.
  • Impairment Shot: Happens to multiple people on multiple occasions.
    • Inverted in the pilot the morning after Chuck is implanted with the Intersect; Morgan comes in and out of focus before becoming clear.
    • After Chuck gets knocked out by Bryce in an elevator in "Chuck Versus the Nemesis", Chuck sees Sarah and then Casey from an impaired POV.
    Chuck: Pretty... not pretty! Ugly!
    • In "Chuck Versus the Ex", Casey's vision gets distorted right before he passes out.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Sensei," he sees the world tilting and out of focus during the fight with Ty Bennett.
    • It happens to Captain Awesome in "Chuck Versus the Broken Heart", after Agent Forrest shoots him with a tranquilizer dart.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Tooth", when Chuck is drugged in the psychiatric ward.
    • And Morgan, in "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock", after he had just electrocuted himself along with the bad guys.
    • Inverted in "Chuck Versus The Bullet Train" when Sarah wakes up in a warehouse tied to a chair in front of the waiting Quinn.
    • Inverted in "Chuck Versus Sarah" when Sarah regains consciousness in the "dream house" after Ellie intentionally crashed their car.
  • Improvised Zipline: In "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip", when Chuck was training to be a "real" spy in Prague, he had to do a zip line using a power line and his belt as the pulley, but failed. In Mexico, he was forced to use a power line as a zip line with his belt as the pulley. This time he succeeded.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: In "Chuck Versus the Ex", Chuck is assigned to plant a bug that's about half an inch wide, has a blinking red light on the top and beeps when you turn it on. All the weirder because other bugs in the show are tiny, non-obvious black disks.
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: "Chuck vs. The Honeymooners" — Once Chuck and Sarah become an official couple, they stay in their train's private compartment for days. We know this from a montage of full — and then empty —- room service plates making their way to the door and being cleared.
  • Inside a Wall:
    • Casey reveals he spent two weeks hiding in the walls of Alejandro Goya's palace while attempting to assassinate him in "Chuck Versus the Coup d'Etat".
    • Casey hides inside a wall in a Moroccan palace, and gets trapped inside it after a collapse, in "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible".
  • Interrupted Intimacy: "Chuck Versus the Colonel". Chuck and Sarah are on the run. There is only one bed in their motel room. Cue Casey interrupting them to arrest them.
  • Irrevocable Order: In "Chuck Versus the Business Trip", an assassin known as "The Viper" is known for going dark after receiving instructions and making it impossible to retract an assassination order, meaning that Decker cannot call off the hit on Morgan.
  • Jailed One After Another: Casey and Lester are both arrested at the end of "Chuck Versus the Business Trip" for completely unrelated crimes.
  • Just Between You and Me: In "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II", Chuck does it (and lampshades it) to Shaw:
    Chuck: Come on, do you honestly expect me to make the classic villain mistake of explaining my evil plan? Well I'd love to!
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Specifically invoked by Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Last Details" to maintain his cover as a crime lord.
    Morgan: Shoot the puppy! I'm so sick of feeding him!
    • Morgan dumping Alex via text and claiming he can do better in "Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips".
  • Kill Sat: The villains attempt to commandeer one in "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer".
  • Kill the Lights: A favorite of Season 5; used by the heroes at the climax of "Chuck Versus the Zoom", "Chuck Versus the Hack Off" and "Chuck Versus the Curse".
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: In "Chuck Versus the Business Trip", Casey kills the assassin and four associates, while the assassin is Evil Gloating, in about three seconds.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Director Graham in "Chuck Versus The First Date".
    • Bryce Larkin in "Chuck Versus The Ring".
    • Emmett Milbarge in "Chuck Versus The Pink Slip".
    • Stephen Bartowski in "Chuck Versus The Subway".
  • Kinky Roleplaying: As hinted at in "Chuck Versus the Curse", "Chuck Versus the Baby" reveals Awesome and Ellie like to put on Carmichael Industries tactical gear and roleplay that Awesome is a captured enemy spy and Ellie is interrogating him.
  • Kiss-Kiss-Slap: Played with in the season 3 premiere where Chuck jeopardizes a mission by showing up to help. In order to preserve her cover, Sarah orders Chuck to kiss her. He does, then she slaps him so hard it knocks him out. She then tells the mark she is on a date with that Chuck is her ex who wouldn't let go, thus invoking this trope.
  • Laser Hallway:
    • An inventively choreographed one appears in "Chuck Versus the Three Words": Chuck doesn't have cat-burglar dexterity and weight, after all.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Push Mix," however, it turns out Morgan's yoga and girlish frame DOES give him some of this. Yoga seal!
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • In the Season Four premiere, Morgan begins the episode with some As You Know exposition.
    Chuck: Buddy. This is not the opening of a T.V. show. This is real life.
    • "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible", when Team Bartowski has to infiltrate a crime boss's lair... which is disguised as a Moroccan nightclub.
    Chuck: Well, looks like we need a costume change.
    Sarah: By the way, for the record, I will not at any point during this mission be dressing as a belly dancer.
    Chuck: What if you need to do it for our country?
    Sarah: I'm sure America can handle it.
  • Let the Past Burn: Chuck's mother and Alexei Volkoff burn down Chuck's childhood home (and the Orion base underneath it) in "Chuck Versus The First Fight".
  • Lie Detector:
    • Used on Jill. Too bad Chuck ignored the last answer...
    • Chuck and Sarah are equipped with discreet ones they can attach to other people in "Chuck Versus the Business Trip" so they can try and deduce who among their colleagues is an assassin.
  • Lipstick Mark: Alex sees Carina's lipstick on Morgan's collar.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage:
    • Sarah does a fanservice-y version in the pilot.
    • "Chuck Versus the Broken Heart" had an interesting variant: Casey and Forrest had such a montage....with an extremely erotic charge.
    • "Chuck Versus the Three Words" includes another, extremely fanservice-y one with both Carina and Sarah.
  • Madness Mantra: The agent driven mad by FULCRUM's Intersect kept saying "Salamander" in "Chuck Versus the Suburbs".
  • Make Way for the New Villains:
    • An agent of The Ring shows up to kill Ted Roark in the Season 2 finale, ushering in The Ring as the Big Bad of Season 3.
    • Decker deprograms Alexei Volkoff, the Big Bad of Season 4, from Hartley Winterbottom's mind in "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger", before going on to become the Big Bad of the first half of Season 5.
  • Meaningful Background Event: The ending shot of "Chuck Versus the Push Mix" is framed so that Chuck's proposal to Sarah and her acceptance are in the background, as the camera is focused on the janitor's waxing machine in the foreground.
  • Metaphorgotten: Big Mike's fatherly love with meatballs and marinara sauce in "Chuck Versus the Leftovers".
  • Mid-Season Twist:
    • Season 1: We discover that Bryce betrayed Chuck because he was trying to keep him out of the CIA life.
    • Season 2: Jill is FULCRUM.
    • Season 3: Morgan learns Chuck's secret. Casey loses his rank and becomes a civilian.
    • Season 4: Volkoff reveals himself. Chuck loses the Intersect.
    • Season 5: The head of Decker's CIA subcommittee is revealed to be Daniel Shaw, who decides to personally visit the Buy More to make the Bartowskis' lives a living hell.
  • Mind Rape: Quinn, Magnificent Bastard that he is, does this to an Intersected Sarah at the end of "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train" by forcing Sarah to flash repeatedly with a set of flash cards, no doubt causing her tremendous agony. By the time Quinn's done, Sarah has lost all her memories of the past five years or so, and allowing for Quinn to manipulate Sarah into killing Chuck.
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment:
    • In "Chuck Versus the Tooth", there's a scene involving former CIA agents in an insane asylum showing that they still got the stuff. Subverted as the enemy agent simply tranqs them all.
    • "Chuck Versus the Subway/Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II" has Ellie, shaken from witnessing her father's murder and Chuck's abduction, getting Awesome and Morgan to help her run a Pincer movement on the van holding Team Bartowski captive and succeeding.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train", Casey phones up Awesome and Morgan to rescue Alex from enemy agents. They wind up getting captured, so Casey recruits Jeff and Lester to save the day instead.
    • "Chuck Versus the Goodbye" gives us Jeff and Lester using a group of people including Fernando and Skip to track down Sarah. Incidentally, this marks the only time Fernando has spoken on-screen, and Skip's second-ever line of dialogue.
      Lester: Unleash the perverts.
  • "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop: In "Chuck Versus the Mask".
  • Mistaken for Gay:
    • Chuck, by Emmett in "Chuck Versus the Ring".
    • Awesome, by the security guard at the office building in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome".
    Julius: Look pal, if you really love this "Chuck", you have to tell your wife; you can't live a lie. Trust me, I've been there.
    Devon: That's... not really what I mean.
  • Mistaken for Insane: In "Chuck Versus the Tooth", Chuck is convinced that Dr. Martin Kowambe is a Ring agent who has intel on the hostile organization hidden in his tooth. Chuck knocks his tooth out and it is shown to be completely normal. As a result, Beckman has Chuck committed to a psychiatric facility, believing that the Intersect is damaging Chuck's mind. As it turns out, Kowambe is a Ring agent. Chuck just knocked out the wrong tooth.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: Emmett's read of Anna after her initial interview in "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer".
  • Mood Whiplash
    • The end of "Chuck Versus Santa Claus", when Sarah shoots an unarmed man in cold blood to protect Chuck's cover to the strains of Christmas Soundtrack Dissonance. Also pretty much the entirety of the season two finale.
    • The pilot episode — the character establishing moment for Chuck cuts to Bryce Larkin stealing the Intersect and getting shot by Casey.
    • Done hilariously in "Chuck versus the First Bank of Evil" when Sarah and Chuck rob a bank as part of a mission and talk about their upcoming wedding.
    Sarah: (to Chuck) "I took you up on your advice and I found a dress. Ellie was right; when I put it on, it felt like magic. (to the people in the bank) "Get down on the ground before I blow your freaking head off!"
    Chuck: (to Sarah) "I'm so glad you found a dress, that's awesome, and I bet you look gorgeous in it." (to the people in the bank) "Don't be a hero my friend! I will break your face!"
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Sarah and Casey are both Chuck's bodyguards. Upon being captured, Fulcrum agent Mauser decided to mouth off about how he'd surely escape, and that it would be the end of Chuck when he did. Chuck would have ignored him. Casey might have slapped him around a bit. Sarah cold bloodedly shoots him.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Subverted, in "Chuck Versus the Other Guy": Chuck does everything he can to avoid killing Shaw, but shoots him to save Sarah. Not that he kills Shaw anyway.
  • Naked People Are Funny:
    • Morgan sleeping in the nude in "Chuck Versus the Beefcake".
    • Chuck scaling a building in a towel (which inevitably blows away) in "Chuck Versus the Final Exam".
  • Neck Lift:
    • Colt, in "Chuck Versus the First Date".
    • Also, Casey does it to Chuck in response to the name "Sugar Bear" in "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover".
    • Casey again and then mirrored by Chuck in "Chuck Versus the Tic Tac."
    • Casey again (noticing a pattern here?) does it to Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II" upon discovering a certain someone's phone number in the possession of The Bearded One.
    • Guess what happens when Morgan has to provoke Casey into a state of fury in "Chuck Versus the Couch Lock"...
  • Nerds Speak Klingon: In "Chuck vs. the Nemesis", Bryce gets Chuck to speak some Klingon to verify that it is actually him.
  • Net Gun: Casey's team uses one on Chuck and Sarah's wedding planner when they're duped into going on a manhunt for her in "Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner".
  • Never Mess with Granny: In "Chuck versus Agent X" we meet Agent X's mother, a sweet old English lady who serves tea, but is also ready with a shotgun and happens to have a machine gun hidden. She has Casey feed her the bullet belt while she fires at mercenaries shooting at her house. Then she rigs her own house to blow up when they break in!
    Casey: You're like the mother I never had!
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The whole situation with Vivian, although it was the CIA that landed the critical blow when they denied her permission to see her father.
    • In "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer", Chuck saving Jeff caused the bad guys to go after Mr. Morimoto and get him killed.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Jeff becomes one in "Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror," putting on the video screens in said aisle images of such things as interspecies relations, babies in costume, note  public showers, and old people!
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Inverted as Big Bad Alexei Volkoff dines at Ellie's house with Chuck and Sarah. Ellie and Awesome are completely unaware that he's the villain.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Casey has many: the incident in Prague with Carina in "Chuck Versus the Wookiee", the "Buy More company picnic volleyball incident" mentioned in "Chuck Versus First Class", and the "Yves Saint-Laurent incident" mentioned in "Chuck Versus the Suitcase."
    Casey: Stab one guy with a stiletto...
    • "Chuck Versus The Predator" began with them coming back from a mission where they dressed up as plumbers to recover a piece of intel whose significance is never revealed.
    • Chuck and Morgan also keep alluding to a certain incident they had in Tangiers in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary".
  • Not a Game: When Morgan wants to stop some bad guys by himself instead of involving the authorities in "Chuck Versus the Beard", Chuck tells him this is real life, and there are no checkpoints if you mess up.
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • Bryce, Orion, Shaw
    • As of the end of Season 3, Orion probably is actually dead.
  • Not With the Safety On, You Won't: Played with in the "Chuck Versus the Dream Job" where Chuck points a gun at Casey. Casey point out that it's a tranq gun. He also takes two to the chest before disarming Chuck, and one to the neck before he actually falls asleep.
  • Not What It Looks Like: "Chuck Versus the Fat Lady":
    Chuck: How did Jill know what time to walk in on us? What are the chances?
  • Now or Never Kiss: In "Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami", Chuck and Sarah think a bomb is about to go off, so they start kissing... making things very awkward when the explosion fails to occur.
    Sarah: Well, the good news is we're alive. And the bad news is that this is kind of an uncomfortable moment right now.
    Chuck: This is completely comfortable on my end. (pause) Just sayin'.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • Ned, the hostage-taker in "Chuck Versus Santa Claus", is actually a Fulcrum agent. Most notably, accidentally discharging his gun while attempting to turn on the safety was actually a ploy to take Casey out of the equation.
    • Stephen J. Bartowski spends most of "Chuck Versus the Dream Job" as a cranky, paranoid old man, and ends the episode as a cranky, paranoid old man. It's just that he's also Orion, and he's being whisked away by his old partner.
    • "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners" has Morgan addressing two foreign agents about banal touristy crap regarding the town they're in that he read in the guide book on the over, generally being completely annoying and showing just how ill-suited for the spy-life that he really is... until he reveals that it was actually a test to see how genuine the agents were, convincing Casey to draw his gun on them.
    • Volkoff pretends to be an incompetent and nerdy British agent as a plan to find Orion's file storeroom.
    • Amy, Sarah's old teammate in "Chuck Versus the CAT Squad". She appeared to always be The Ditz of the group but turns out to be The Mole that betrayed the CAT Squad to their Arch-Enemy Augusto Gaez.
  • Obviously Evil: Riley, Volkoff's lawyer.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: The first episode has Chuck being burglarized by a "mysterious" masked ninja, later revealed to be Sarah. The masked figure, however is clearly a powerfully built male.
  • Outrun the Fireball:
    • Bryce Larkin in the series premiere.
    • Chuck and Sarah in "Chuck Versus The First Fight".
    • Done by a pig, of all things, in "Chuck Versus the Muuurder".
  • Pac Man Fever: The depiction of Duck Hunt in "Chuck Versus the Beard" is a little off; the infamous sniggering dog appears despite Chuck getting a perfect score. Also, the Zapper wouldn't work with a modern TV like the one used.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Called an "Ellie Speech" here.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: Charah for Chuck and Sarah. Invoked by Casey in "Chuck Versus the Masquerade".
  • Practice Kiss: Chuck and Sarah share one of these as a demonstration of his seduction skills in the aptly-named "Chuck Versus the Seduction".
  • Prison Changes People: Alexei Volkoff wants to make amends to the people he has wronged throughout his criminal career during his furlough in "Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff", after working with a prison counselor. He also is no longer Not Afraid to Die as demonstrated during the Deadly Game to get the final piece of the Norseman. He still goes for the double cross in the third act, but even after that his apology to Mary seems genuine.
  • The Power of Friendship: In "Chuck Versus the Beard", when Ring agents capture a flash-less Chuck, it seems that all is lost. But... all it takes is a heart-to-heart with his buddy Morgan to literally reboot his powers.
  • Psychic Powers: Surprisingly, Jeff correctly guesses where the missing laptop is in "Chuck VS the A Team" using automatic writing, complete with Dramatic Wind, but Lester dismisses it.
  • Punny Name: Roni Eimacher, whose last name is a pun on "eye-maker", given he made the Hydra Network stored in Yuri The Gobbler's false eye.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: After stepping out on General Beckman, Beckman punishes Roan by reassigning him to the CIA-controlled Buy More in "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible".
  • Record Needle Scratch: When Ellie reaches her breaking point with Captain Awesome's attempts to seduce her using "tips" from Morgan in "Chuck Versus the Seduction".
  • Reluctant Fanservice Girl:
    • In "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible", Sarah makes it clear that at no point will she be dressing up as a belly dancer.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Kept Man", when she has to convince Casey to put on a swimsuit she references all the times she's had to wear something skimpy for the team, implying that she hasn't exactly enjoyed the experiences.
    • Also, Sarah's old C.A.T squad friend Amy turns out to be one.
  • Retirony: Played with in "Chuck Versus Bo," in which they discover something that requires their immediate attention, just after coming to a major decision about their future:
    Casey: Guess we're not retired after all, hmm?
    Sarah: Well, it doesn't change the plan; it just means we have one last mission.
    (Team Bartowski gasps and groans at Sarah in utter disbelief)
    Sarah: What?
    Chuck: Things never turn out well when you say "one last mission!"
    Sarah: Is this just because of some stupid movie?
    (Team Bartowski groans "yes")
    Casey: You never say "one last mission."
  • Retroactive Wish: The "Thanksgiving Miracle" in "Chuck Versus the Gravitron".
    Morgan: Chuck and Sarah are gonna walk through that door, they're gonna be as happy as could be and everything's gonna be fine.
    (they do)
    Morgan: I could have asked for anything! Swedish bikini team. Uh, DeLorean, flying DeLorean!
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat: Harry Tang, extremely upset over an apparent dalliance by his wife, insists that the video footage of her apparently setting up the tryst be played over and over and over.
  • Ring-Ring-CRUNCH!: In "Chuck Versus the Crown Vic", Sarah kills her alarm clock with a thrown knife, which she keeps under a pillow.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue:
    • Pretty much the entirety of "Chuck Versus Phase Three". Doubles as Roaring Rampage of Revenge as the episode even invokes that Trope Namer early on.
    • "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger" also counts, although the "Rampage" part gets toned down halfway through the episode.
    • We see the start of one at the end of "Chuck Versus Bo," and then it's already mostly over by the time "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train" begins.
  • Rock Beats Laser: After Chuck beats a high-tech, dart-shooting CIA security system in "Chuck Versus the Tic Tac", a new system is installed and stops Chuck cold when he tries to break into the same hallway later. The new security system? A transparent plate of simple bulletproof glass.
  • Royal Bastard: In "Chuck vs. The Tic Tac", Chuck and Sarah meet a starstruck CIA tech who introduces himself as Stanley Fitzroy and babbles on about "Fitzroy" meaning "son of the king." He doesn't seem to be aware that this name identifies his ancestor as an illegitimate son.
  • Rule of Cool: Pretty much everything that happens in "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer". Including the big fat Shout-Out to Futurama.
  • Running Gagged: The "Morgan Door" that Morgan uses to sneak into Ellie and Awesome's apartment. In "Chuck Versus The Colonel" when Casey uses it, Awesome says they have to put a lock on that window, and two episodes later, they move out.
  • Samus Is a Girl: La Ciudad in "Chuck Versus the Tango" and Viper in "Chuck Versus the Business Trip".
  • Satchel Switcheroo: In "Chuck Versus Agent X," apparently Ellie and Awesome have the same kind of luggage, and both of them use it to pack for bachelor/ette parties.
  • Save the Villain/Take My Hand!: [1] Subverted in "Chuck Versus The First Kill". Chuck tries to save a Fulcrum agent who tripped on broken glass and is dangling over the side of the building as he finds it a terrible way to die and also because the agent might be the only informant on his captured father's whereabouts. However, the agent's sleeve rips off sending him falling to his death.
  • "Say My Name" Trailer: The TV ads for the show run on this.
    Morgan: Chuck.
    Ellie: Chuck?
    Jeff: Chuck.
    Anna: Chuck!
    Lester: Lester!, Chuck.
  • Secret Test: Chuck mistakenly believes Shaw is subjecting him to one to see if he will choose his friends over his country in "Chuck Versus the Tic Tac", and turns in Casey for treason in an attempt to pass.
  • Series Fauxnale: Since the show's future was to be in a state of perpetual doubt, seasons two, three, and four all have them. In fact, seasons three and four each have two.
  • Sexiness Score: Lester is annoyed his family got him into an Arranged Marriage and his "bride" is showing up to visit, and he tells Big Mike he needs no bride as been online dating, and scored three "4's" in a single day, which means he scored a "12". This turns into a Brick Joke when his bride, Jinsana, comes to the Buy More and turns out to be a Head-Turning Beauty that has him admitting she's an actual "12".
  • Sexy Santa Dress: Anna wears one for a Christmas episode.
  • Shipped in Shackles: Alexei Volkoff in "Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff" and "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger".
  • Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet!: In "Chuck Versus the Final Exam", Sarah recalls a flashback back in Paris where she was walking past the mysterious woman she was assigned to kill for her Red Test.note  Sarah briefly considered sparing her target, but eventually shoots her anyway when the woman was reaching into her purse for what Sarah thought was a gun.note 
  • Shoot the Hostage:
    • In "Chuck Versus the Nemesis," Bryce does this to Chuck. Bryce is nice enough to first ask Chuck (in Klingon!) if he's wearing a Bulletproof Vest before he shoots Chuck in the chest. Chuck is, but he still whines about how much getting shot while wearing one hurts.
    • Played with in "Chuck Versus the Gravitron".
    • In "Chuck Versus the DeLorean", Sarah shoots her father, who is being held hostage.
  • Shoot Your Mate: Volkoff orders Sarah to kill Casey to prove she really is a traitor. They work together to fake his death in "Chuck Versus the Gobbler".
  • Shown Their Work: Zig-zagged when the Buy More employees are taking a CPR course. When Jeff starts choking, Emmett slowly and clearly asks him "Are you choking?", which is exactly what a real CPR class would tell you is the first thing you should do: as long as the victim is conscious, you must always verbally make sure that they actually need your help and that you have their consent to help them. It's subverted in that Emmett doing so is depicted as an act of panic and buffoonery rather than proper procedure, while Devon does what most heroic characters would do and simply seizes Jeff and starts giving him the Heimlich maneuver. Double subverted in that Devon is rather un-heroically giving Jeff a detailed explanation of what he's doing.
  • Shower of Awkward: "Chuck Versus the First Date" begins with Chuck accidentally walking in on Ellie and Awesome in the shower. Squick.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss:
    • Chuck and Lou. "He had me at pastrami."
    • And as of "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", Sarah to Chuck: "Shut up and kiss me." Cue the Squee from shippers everywhere.
    • Twice in "Chuck Versus the Coup d'Etat". Both of them to Morgan. One of those by Morgan himself.
    • Another in "Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips" Casey saves Gertrude's life. "I knew you were into me, John." "Shut up, Gertrude". And a kiss.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: The Burbank Buy More feuding with the Beverly Hills Buy More in "Chuck Versus the Predator".
  • Slow Clap: Big Mike starts one for Morgan, who had been tricked into deposing him by Emmett, when he decides to fall on his sword by walking out of his job and moving to Hawaii with Anna to become a Benihana chef. With his shirt off, for some reason.
  • Smart Gun: The Aegis, the MacGuffin of "Chuck Versus the Kept Man".
  • Soft Glass: In "Chuck Versus the First Date"... when Michael Clarke Duncan throws Chuck through a window, "Chuck Versus the Ring, Part II" when Shaw shoves Chuck through a window, and in "Chuck Versus the Zoom", when Chuck deliberately jumps through a window to flee his pursuers.
  • Soft Water: Casey and Chuck fall about 15 stories into the hotel pool in "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover".
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Emmett's murder set to "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips in "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip".
  • Sparing Them the Dirty Work: Casey kills Chuck's target for him during his Red Test, sparing Chuck from crossing his Thou Shalt Not Kill moral boundary.
  • Special Edition Title:
    • For the season 4 finale, "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger", the usual upbeat, fun titles would have caused some serious Mood Whiplash and so were replaced by a quick title screen.
    • Season 5's "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train" features a very 80s-esque title sequence for the episode.
    • "Chuck Versus the Goodbye" used the titles from the pilot instead of the usual one.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Jake 2.0.
  • Spy Catsuit: Sarah wears one, Carina wears one; heck, all the CAT Squad members wear catsuits!
  • Start of Darkness: If "Chuck Versus the Masquerade" wasn't this for Vivian Volkoff, "Chuck Versus the First Bank Of Evil" definitely is.
  • Staying Alive: Happens at the end of "Chuck Versus the Colonel", with Roark.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Lampshaded by Lester in "Chuck Versus the Fear of Death", where the current Greta repeatedly disappears into thin air. May also be an Actor Allusion, as this Greta is played by Summer Glau, whose characters are known for this trick.
  • Stealth Pun: In "Chuck Versus the Beard", while trying to get himself to flash, Chuck uses a bunch of memory-training cards with images of spies on them. To the savvy viewer, these are better known as flash cards.
  • Stepford Suburbia: The suburbs in "Chuck Versus the Suburbs" are a comic version and then fit the dramatic version since all of its Stepford Smiler inhabitants are Fulcrum agents.
  • Stereotype Flip: In "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover," Ellie and Awesome want to buy an anniversary gift, but spend time arguing over what it should be—either a large-scale TV or a washer/dryer combo. Guess who wants what.
    Ellie: Think of all the great things we can watch!
    Devon: Think of all the great things we can wash!
  • Stock Scream:
    • In "Chuck Versus the Truth", Reardon Payne does a triple backwards handspring (he was once a gymnast, after all) to escape from Team Bartowski, and when Sarah shoots him in the knee the Wilhelm Scream can be heard.
    • Also in "Chuck Versus the Baby" when one mook falls down some stairs.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Jeff and Dr. Wheelwright (played by Robert Englund) are frightened by things that scare only the most insane people: Old people, public showers, babies in snail suits, etc.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That:
    • Used in "Chuck Versus the Fat Lady" when a box needs a high C note to unlock it. Casey provides it, being a former choirboy. What? He wasn't hatched.
    • "Chuck Versus First Class" reveals that Sarah is a licensed pilot.
      • Although she did walk Chuck through landing a helicopter.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: A variation when Chuck is trying to get a message to Casey in front of his family at Thanksgiving dinner. His sister asks him to say what he's thankful for.
    Chuck: I'm thankful that Bryce Larkin is dead and is not in my room making out with my girlfriend.
    (Casey excuses himself from the table)
    Morgan: Wow, that was really... dark.
    Devon: And specific.
  • Sword over Head:
    • In "Chuck Versus Santa Claus", Sarah holds Mauser at gunpoint and tells him he will be sent to a topsecret prison of the CIA. However, after finding out that Fulcrum will do anything to break him out, she subverts this trope and kills him.
    • Chuck, while under the influence of an Emotion Suppression drug, is strangling an agent to death, but eventually lets him go when Sarah arrives and snaps him out of it, and he realizes to his horror what he was about to do.
    • In the finale of season 3, Chuck invoke this by holding Shaw by the throat before sparing his life.
  • Take a Number: In "Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami", Chuck goes to Lou's deli to try and make up with her. When his number comes up, she tells him that if he's not ordering food he'll have to take another number and wait. Finally, his number comes up at closing time... but he manages to make up with her anyway.
  • Take That!
    • In "Chuck Versus the A Team", Chuck and Sarah conduct a search of Casey's apartment to find a hand print. Before they start, Sarah and Chuck put on glasses that act like a black light; after Sarah explains what they do, Chuck derisively comments that it "Sounds like a CBS show".
    • In "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover", when Jeff brags that he found Tara Reid's phone number while he was supposed to be working, Chuck asks "who doesn't have her phone number?" before chastising him.
  • Taught by Television:
    Chuck: I knew those seven years of MacGyver would pay off!
  • Teeth Flying: Chuck learns that a suspect has data stored in a false tooth in the appropriately named "Chuck Versus the Tooth", and manages to knock the wrong tooth out with a single punch.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Morgan immediately before accidentally downloading the Intersect 2.0 in "Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger"
    Morgan: Slick new gig, slick new shades. What could go wrong?
    • Sarah announcing the team has one last mission in "Chuck Versus Bo". The rest of the gang Lampshade it.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage:
    • Chuck is required to interview the Buy More employees to see which one would become assistant manager in "Chuck Versus the First Date". Jeff and Lester are two of the interviewees.
    • Emmett Millbarge also has one in "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer." Again, any montage where the interviewees include Jeff and Lester are going to be this.
    • Chuck's search for a job in "Chuck Versus the Anniversary". Inverted in that it is the interviewers who are bad, but only because of CIA sabotage.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Frequently.
    • "Chuck Versus the Marlin":
    Captain Awesome: [after Chuck returns his great-grandmother's engagement ring] Way to go Chuck. I always knew you could handle my family jewels. So to speak.
    • "Chuck Versus the Suburbs":
    Chuck: Charles Carmichael always comes quickly.
    • "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners", the episode in which Chuck and Sarah have finally consummated their relationship:
    Sarah: [about to confess she's been running a spy op behind Chuck's back] You know, Chuck, I can't fake this. Not with you.
    Chuck: What? You've been faking it the whole time?
    Sarah: No, no, not that!
  • There Is Only One Bed: When Chuck and Sarah go on the run in "Chuck Versus the Colonel", and Chuck offers to sleep on the motel floor. Invoked by Sarah when they get arrested and Chuck mentions he'd like to share a two-bedroom cell with her, and she points they'd only need one.
  • This Is Reality: In "Chuck Versus the Anniversary", Chuck tells Morgan that this is not the opening to a TV show.
  • Three-Dimensional Episode: "Chuck Versus the Third Dimension".
  • Thriller on the Express:
    • "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners", Chuck and Sarah are on a train and see an ETA member and try for an impromptu mission using the other passengers' items as gadgets.
    • A large part of "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train", for obvious reasons.
  • Time Bomb: Several times. But in "Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami," it's not a bomb. It's Bryce.
  • Time-Compression Montage:
    • Subverted in "Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips". Devon was surprised to find out that only an hour had passed.
    • Played Straight in "Chuck Versus The Honeymooners" as we learn that after having finally consummated, Chuck & Sarah are holing up in their train cabin, and aren't coming out for any reason. An endless parade of meal-service trays shows that they're there for several days, at least.
      • Or maybe it is a subversion - since the train they're taking is from Paris, France to Zurich, Switzerland. In real life, it's a three hour ride.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Jeff, when he is tied up by Volkoff operative Jasmine and assumes she's entertainment hired for the bachelor party in "Chuck Versus Agent X".
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Chuck took uploaded a level in badass at the end of "Chuck Versus the Ring" via the new Intersect.
    • Unbelievably, Morgan. It takes a lot of badass to break your own thumbs to save yourself, especially on nothing but Casey's orders.
  • Torture Always Works:
    • In "Chuck Versus the Beefcake" the mantra is "Everyone talks." Subverted in that Cole actually doesn't talk.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Curse", Casey and Beckman torture CIA traitor Robin Cunnings with her own device to extract a confession.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Fulcrum agent in "Chuck vs. Santa Claus". Seriously, what did he think Sarah was going to do when he taunted her—at length—about how there was no way to stop him from revealing Chuck's identity to Fulcrum?
    • Unless he wanted Sarah to kill him. If he had been brought in, he would probably have been interrogated and started talking. And if he was as important to Fulcrum as he claimed, he could be sitting on crucial intelligence. By goading Sarah into killing him, he evaded the difficulty of committing suicide in CIA custody.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Shaw looks longingly at a wedding ring in "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome", and the audience later learns it was his late wife's.
  • Tranquillizer Dart:
    • Every time tranquillizers are used, unless the victim is Casey. When they have to tranquilize Jeff and Lester, Lester goes down instantly but Jeff takes multiple darts and a few minutes to lose consciousness. Jeff is a bigger guy and his past drug use made him more resistant.
      • When they use tranquillizer darts on hard-partying rock star Tyler Martin in "Chuck Versus the Third Dimension," he wakes up almost immediately even though the darts should have knocked him out for several hours.
  • Trash Landing: Sarah and The Mole she is having a Cat Fight with both fall off of a skyscraper in "Chuck Versus the Marlin", but survive by landing in a dumpster.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "Love On The Rocks" when Casey crashes Ilsa's wedding to rescue her in "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover".
  • True Love's Kiss: In "Chuck Versus the Goodbye", Morgan is convinced that this is an effective way for Chuck to get Sarah to remember the past five years after having memories of said years being wiped out. Chuck brings up Morgan's theory to Sarah and she invites it. While we're not given a definitive answer, given what comes before it, the kiss restoring Sarah's memories to normal is a distinct possibility. You can argue that the fact that Sarah invited the kiss in the first place is the important part, regardless of whether or not it worked.
  • Truth in Television: As in the plot of "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer", many old arcade games do indeed have a "kill screen" where achieving a high enough level or score can generate bugged levels or cause other unusual effects. However Missile Command is actually not one of them, and merely loops back to the beginning when a certain point is reached. This can be excused, however, if one takes the designer at his word when he says that only he can access the Missile Command kill screen, and that Rush's Tom Sawyer is the "pattern of the universe." The game possibly requires following a particular pattern to access it, which only he knows (and is synced to Tom Sawyer...somehow).
  • Tuxedo and Martini: Seduction expert Roan Montgomery in the episodes "Chuck Versus the Seduction" and "Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible" and living legend Craig Turner in "Chuck Versus the Role Models".
  • Two-Way Tapping: * One episode had Chuck accidentally reveal the bug he'd planted when he got tired of a love interest's friend bashing him and snarkily said that he makes twelve dollars an hour, okay?
  • Two Words: I Can't Count: "Chuck Versus the Dream Job":
    Lester: NextExpo.
    Jeff: That's one word.
    Lester: Stop counting.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Emmett Milbarge at the Buy More in "Chuck Versus the First Kill".
  • The Unreveal:
    • In "Chuck Versus the Cougars," we unfortunately do not get to find out Sarah's real name.
    • In "Chuck Versus the Fake Name," Sarah's real name is revealed to be Sam.
  • Under the Mistletoe:
    • In "Chuck Versus The Crown Vic", Jeff stands in between Chuck and Sarah with mistletoe, claiming they'll thank him later. However, having already established the Lets Be Friends rule, they don't go through with it.
    • In "Chuck Versus Santa Claus", Awesome holds a mistletoe on top of Ellie and they kiss.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: The opening of "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip".
  • Vanity License Plate: DEMORGAN in "Chuck Versus the DeLorean"
  • Vehicle-Based Characterization: Casey's precious car that he spends an episode meticulously taking care of until Chuck blows it up is a 1985 Ford Crown Victoria, specifically the police car model. It's a fitting dream car for a Marine-turned-NSA Colonel Badass who proudly serves his government.
  • Vehicle Vanish: Sarah in "Chuck Versus the Baby" in a flashback.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: In "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", Sarah reaches into her neckline and pulls out a switchblade knife.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Morgan's license plate of DeMorgan is more than just a clever portmanteau of "Morgan" and "DeLorean" - for those who've taken computer science or logic courses, De Morgan's Laws are a set of logical rules that work on statements.
  • Villainous Breakdown: In "Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff", Alexei Volkoff fakes one while playing a deadly chess game, then does it for real (and much more calmly) when Vivian betrays him.
  • Waif-Fu: Normally, this is not how Sarah fights. However, when she's going toe to toe with Michael Clarke Duncan?
  • Waking Up Elsewhere:
    • In "Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler," Manoosh repeatedly wakes up in what he believes is Sarah's bedroom, when in fact it's actually a disguised holding cell in Castle.
    • In "Chuck Versus Bo," Jeff and Lester find themselves crashed in a stolen car in the middle of nowhere, trying to figure out how they got there. Repeatedly, because they keep discovering Carmichael Industries.
    • At the end of "Chuck Versus the Bullet Train," having her memories wiped out due to Quinn forcing her to flash repeatedly, Sarah wakes up sometime later in her old apartment—which is now unfamiliar to her—and is then commanded by Quinn to kill Chuck.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Very minor one in "Chuck Versus the Leftovers," in which the villain of the episode is playing a game of Charades. Although the correct answer is never disclosed on screen, Word of God states that the answer is Lawrence of Arabia - which is a Call-Back to "Chuck Versus the First Fight", where Volkoff (in disguise as Gregory Tuttle) confessed that he had his first sexual experience watching the film.
  • Where's the Fun in That?: Delivered by Casey to Chuck, naturally, given that Casey's never one to calm Chuck's anxieties.
    Chuck: The review's about me? Shouldn't Shaw be asking me about me?
    Casey: Where's the fun in that?
  • Whole-Plot Reference:
    • Word of God states that "Chuck Versus the Seduction" is the Chuck take on My Favorite Year. Both plots feature rookies meeting highly-respected members of their fields who are now drunk wash-outs, the senior teaching the junior on how to seduce the girl of their dreams, a scene where the junior chews the senior on how great he once was, and a swinging-in-from-above rescue scene.
    • "Chuck Versus the Ring" is pretty much ripped off, soup to nuts, from the 2003 remake of The In-Laws.
    • "Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover" is a tribute to Casablanca.
    • In what is either intentional or a very very big co-incidence, the episode Chuck Versus the Baby has a startling similarity to the Miranda Lawson loyalty mission from the game Mass Effect 2. Miranda is modeled after and voiced by Yvonne Strahovski. They both involve a child taken by Sarah/Miranda at a young age, it being put into a safe place that isn't with Sarah/Miranda, operatives of the person who wants the child back attempt to take it back, and this is foiled by the character and their main partner (in Miranda's case the partner is Shepard, in Sarah's the partner is Chuck), and the child is safe. At the end, the child is introduced to Miranda/Sarah as their 'sister'. Finally, the little girl from Chuck has a pet dog named Rex, while one of the main character in Mass Effect is a huge Proud Warrior Race alien named Wrex.
    • "Chuck Versus the Cougars" and Grosse Pointe Blank are both about professional assassins reluctantly attending their high school reunions after a long time out of touch, including dealing with the goons who show up without blowing their cover.
    • "Chuck Versus Bo" is this to The Hangover, in which the group must retrace their steps in a popular tourist destination while searching for something that was lost due to amnesia after a night of partying, uncovering a litany of illicit and embarrassing events that occurred the night in question in the process.
  • Wire Dilemma
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: "Chuck Versus The Honeymooners." It does NOT take a train two or three days to go from Paris to the Swiss border (the journey is closer to two or three hours), nor can you do it through the Gare Montparnasse (Paris-Switzerland is Gare de Lyon), nor can you go through France and Switzerland on the same train (you need to change at Geneva). Does Charah or anyone watching at home care? No. No they do not.
  • White Shirt of Death: Worn by Bryce Larkin when he is gunned down by Casey in the pilot. Although it's revealed in "Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami" he's Not Quite Dead.
  • Working the Same Case: "Chuck Versus the Anniversary" features two plotlines: Chuck searching for his mother, and Casey and Sarah investigating an arms dealer. They cross paths.
    • Frequently happens with Team Bartowski butting heads with MI6, to the point of a Running Gag.
  • Working with the Ex: In a second season arc, Chuck is forced to work with his ex-girlfriend Jill.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: "Chuck Versus The Wedding Planner". He fake-flashes on the name Artur Novokov who turned out to be a world-class terrorist. He tells Sarah that the story was bumped to page 13 because one of the Kardashians got her GED. Allegedly.
  • Wrestler in All of Us:
    • Subverted in "Chuck Versus First Class": "Stone Cold" Steve Austin plays a Ring agent, who is mentioned to be a specialist in "close quarters combat". Later in the episode, it turns out that he's an expert swordsman.
    • Also lampshaded in that, when Chuck and Hannah are speculating as to what he does, "professional wrestler" is brought up.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Chuck is forced to play against someone who's stolen the Cipher in "Chuck Versus the First Date." After walking into a trap with both Casey and Sarah across town, Chuck bluffs the bad guys and takes it away by using nothing more than his Charles Carmichael alias, Morgan on the phone confirming their Call of Duty strategy, and finally... running like a little girl.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Almost any time Chuck or Morgan call Captain Awesome by his given name, Devon, it's usually serious. In "Chuck Versus the Subway", Morgan can't get through to Awesome that Ellie may be having an affair until he invokes his real name.
  • You Have Failed Me: At the end of "Chuck Versus The Mask", Nicholas Vasili is killed by the Ring elders for failing to steal the mask from the museum. Before his assassination, he asks the Ring Elders how they will deal with Chuck and they claim they'll "take care of it".
  • You Killed My Father: In the finale of season 3, Shaw kills Chuck's father, Stephan a.k.a Orion, in order to break Chuck's mental state and prevent him from flashing.
  • You Said You Couldn't Dance: Many times in the third season, thanks to Intersect 2.0 ("I didn't know I could!").
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: In "Chuck Versus the Leftovers", Chuck Sarah and Mary are trapped in Castle with Alexei Volkoff having locked up the Buy More. Volkoff promises Chuck and Sarah he'll let them live if they hand Frost over to him. They do so, but Volkoff reneges and still tries to kill them. Mary is then forced to reveal she is Chuck's mother and even threatens him at gunpoint.

    'Chuck' Comics 
  • The Cameo: Dr. Zarnow, La Ciudad, "The Gymnast" and the Pita Girl all make appearances in the Threatmax prison, while all of the Buy More staff appear in the main story & several back-ups, Emmett only appears in Buy More Odyssey briefly.
  • Captain Ersatz: The presidential candidate Brandon Obannon.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Morgan, when Chuck describes his dream at the start of the series. Morgan's upset that he's the only one of the main cast not to appear in the dream, ignoring the fact that all of them (Except Jeff and Lester) are killed by a bomb planted by Jeff and Lester.
  • Demoted to Extra: Ellie, Devon & the Buy More staff all suffer this in the main story, although the Buy More staff are the most prominent non-Team Bartowski characters. Devon & Ellie appear in two panels in the main story, only speaking in one of them. Perhaps justified in that the Buy More staff get two back-up stories with Chuck, Sarah & Casey being Demoted to Extra in those. However, three of the remaining four back-ups are Captain Awesome-centric, and Ellie appears in one panel across all three back-ups.
  • Forklift Fu: Casey pulls this on Tommy
  • Film Noir: The back-up story, Buy Noir
  • Goofy Print Underwear : Casey [AGAIN!], after parachuting out of a plane
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Blaine's only revealed when fighting the real Obannon when he cuts Chuck off when he tries to tell Casey which one's the real Obannon with the remark "With the badass old school roundhouse kick to the face! That's what!"
  • Mirror Match: Presidential Candidate Brandon Obannon versus FULCRUM agent Blaine who has been turned into Obannon's physical copy.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Morgan's narration in Buy More Odyssey. The story essentially amounts to Morgan's epic quest... to get a Grape Soda.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The series starts with Chuck having a dream reminiscent of Gilligan's Island, complete with Chuck referring to Big Mike as "Skipper" & the two of them wearing the appropriate headgear to take the roles of Gilligan & Skipper respectively.
    • Jeff's worries over the planet being taken over by clones, with Chuck remarking it'd only happen in a "Buy More far, far away...." and Lester asking if Jeff realizes Star Wars wasn't a documentary.
    • Chuck quotes the "Suntory Time" line from Lost in Translation, before flat out explaining it's a line from the film when Sarah doesn't get it.
    • Casey knocks a guy out with a fish. Chuck immediately remarks that it's used in the Jackie Chan film Project A II.
    • Casey bursting through a door with an ax and saying "Heeeeeeerrre's Johnny!" Immediately lampshaded by Sarah, as she remarks about how long Casey must have been waiting to say that.
    • Brandon Obannon quotes Muhammad Ali's "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" after knocking out his FULCRUM agent double.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Tommy from FULCRUM escapes from the Threatmax, and Team Bartowski chase him to Japan & Rio De Janeiro. However, after he eludes them in Japan, he doesn't appear again in the series & no mention is made of his recapture, with Team Bartowski being sidetracked into stopping a plot to replace the likely winner of the 2008 Presidential Election with a FULCRUM agent.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Many, many times.


Put Some Clothes On

Both Chuck and Sarah ask Sofia to cover herself when the villainess confronts them in the nude.

How well does it match the trope?

4.98 (56 votes)

Example of:

Main / PleasePutSomeClothesOn

Media sources: