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Happy! is a violent dark Black Comedy/Drama series on the Syfy network, adapted from a Grant Morrison comic miniseries - Happy!. The show is headlined by Brian Taylor, one of the directors of the Crank series. The show combines that franchise’s over-the-top violence with the Buddy Cop Show formula, creating a darkly surreal world where criminals battle it out on the streets of New York and a flying horse is the guardian angel of a child.

The show follows Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni), an alcoholic former cop turned hitman who must team up with his daughter's imaginary friend, a tiny winged unicorn named Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) to take down nefarious holiday-themed conspiracies and perversion of the most deranged variety. Season 1 has him tracking down a Bad Santa who has kidnapped his daughter during the Christmas season. Season 2 fast-forwards to Easter, where Nick must contend with a plot to wake The Antichrist on Easter Sunday.

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The show ran a total of two seasons.


This show provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Mr. Blue is definitely one, given how he threatens to kill his son’s dog if the dog keeps scratching itself.
  • Actor Allusion: Ann Margaret's guest appearance has her singing "Put On a Happy Face". One of Ann-Margaret's breakthrough roles was in Bye Bye Birdie.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: In the original Grant Morrison comic, Happy clearly had an adult-level intelligence, being able to read signs and help Nick in the card game without needing the game explained to him. In the show, Happy is much more childish and needs certain adult things like poker explained to him.
  • Adaptation Expansion: While the TV adaptation follows the original comic plot fairly closely, it adds quite a bit.
    • Amanda and Hailey were given very little characterization in the comic, while the TV adaptation dedicates a good deal of time to both of them. Amanda even interacts with Merry, whereas the two women never met in the comic.
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    • Mr. Blue's wife and son were not present in the comic as was his sister.
    • Smoothie was more of a standard Torture Technician in the comic. The TV adaptation bumped him up to Blue's second-in command.
    • Mr. Bug AKA Sonny Shine was absent in the comic.
    • Nick and Happy's excursions into Chinatown and The North Pole strip club are only present in the TV adaptation.
    • The entire plot of the comic is covered in the first season, leaving season 2 to be entirely new content.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Very Bad Santa in the original comic is a sadistic pedophile who is hired to rape the kids for a child porn ring. The show’s version is a Psychopathic Manchild but is no longer a sexual predator and even cares about Hailey (even if his endgame is to lobotomize her to keep her ‘innocent’).
  • Adult Fear:
    • Your child being kidnapped from right under your nose during a public event.
    • A criminal threatening to have your mentally ill mother killed if you don't do what he says.
  • The Alcoholic: Nick is this big time, with his drinking taking up all the time when he’s not killing people.
    • As of Season 2, he has stopped drinking alcohol but chugs cough syrup on occasion.
  • Alien Blood: Raspberry bleeds a pinkish-purple blood when stabbed by Happy's horn. The Wishee "suits" Merry encounters in the Sonny Shine tower bleed similar blood. She collects a sample as evidence and finds it still moves unless refrigerated.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Sonny Shine's real surname is Scheinberg, a Yiddish name. He's also in the entertainment industry and devoted to secular celebrations of Christian holidays for profit. His actual background is never explored.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The series involves a hitman (and a small flying horse) fighting mobsters and killers over the Christmas season.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Season 1 ends with Happy leaving Hailey, as he knows she doesn't need him anymore. But he still hangs around Nick, pointing out how he needs Happy now to help get his life back on track.
  • Anti-Hero: Nick Sax is a hitman who’ll kill his targets without a second glance. He’s also the only chance Hailey has at survival.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: In season two Amanda uses an oxygen tank - labelled flammable - as a makeshift flamethrower. Pure oxygen helps things burn very well but it is not flammable like, for instance, ethylene.
  • Attention Whore: Much of Sunny Shine's behavior is driven by an obsessive need to remain famous.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: While it doesn't go quite as planned, Orcus succeeds in having Sonny Shine killed on live television, managing to feed on the global despair.
  • Bad Santa: Hailey is kidnapped by a nutjob in a Santa costume, which is what causes Happy to go to Nick in the first place. This character is even officially billed as Very Bad Santa.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: When Smoothie drops his pants, Nick finds out why he's called Smoothie - he has no genitalia.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Throughout history, Orcus and the Wishees have arranged for the rise to great fame of numerous figures (Lincoln, JFK, John Lennon, Martin Luther King Jr., Amelia Earhart, Gandhi, and Princess Diana among them) and then arranged for them to die suddenly, in order to feed off the world's resulting despair.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Blue laments that becoming a mob boss has only made him an errand boy for psychopaths.
  • Big Bad:
    • There are actually two, as two separate incidents cause Nick and Happy to come together. Mr. Blue is this for Nick, as he's the one who wants to know what the Dark Secret his nephew was carrying was. On Happy's side is the Bad Santa that kidnapped Hailey, as Happy was powerless to stop him and wants to get his friend back. Episode 4 reveals the Bad Santa is working for Mr. Blue, who in turn has his own boss, Sonny Shine/Mr. Bug. The implication is that the children are victims of a human trafficking group.
    • Season 2 has its own Big-Bad Ensemble: On one hand there's Sonny, trying to stoke up fear about Easter via terrorist attacks so that he can "save" it and become even richer and more famous, and on the other there's the demonic god Orcus, who has possessed Blue and is gathering power. Then, near the end of the season, we find out that Orcus has been manipulating Sonny all along via his minions (the Wishees), intending to have Sonny killed so that he can feed on the public despair.
  • Big Rotten Apple: New York in this series is depicted as being full to the brim with dirty cops, drunks, killers, and just all-around psychos.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Wishees. Whatever's in those suits look like big lumps of sticky pink flesh with no visible orifices that bleed pink goop. Their bodies and fluids are capable of moving on their own even when dead, unless refrigerated.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Nick is hardly a saint, being a drunk hitman who has no qualms killing people for a price. But given that his enemies are ruthless mobster Mr. Blue and a psychotic child killer, he’s pretty easy to root for. Happy averts this trope, however, as he legitimately wants to help his friend Hailey and doesn’t seem to enjoy all of the bodies that start piling up.
  • Black Comedy: A lot of the laughs in this show come from the excessively gory deaths and the bizarre premise of a goofy imaginary friend existing in a world filled with mobsters and sociopaths.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Following straight on from the Rape as Drama entry, the strap-on breaking off inside Nick when Merry rescues him is treated comedically, creating some heavy Mood Whiplash.
  • Book-Ends: Nick's first scene has him make an Imagine Spot of shooting himself in the head, which is presented in a surreal sequence where a geyser of blood is suspended above his head while upbeat music plays. In the end, Nick shoots the Very Bad Santa in the head, causing a surreal sequence where a geyser of colorful Christmas ornaments become suspended above his head as upbeat music plays.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Nick takes out Very Bad Santa. Though it takes then falling through a skylight and accidentally hanging himself in the process to finish the job.
  • Brain Bleach: In the season 2 premiere, Nick and Happy are using the bath at a house that Merry is showing when she walks in on them. Forgetting that Merry can't see him, Happy dives into the bathtub to hide, and gets a eyeful of Nick's genitals. He subsequently pours bleach on his eyes.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • The adorable but naive Happy witnesses one horror after another during his dark journey through New York City with Nick.
    • Very Bad Santa used to have a cute, living sock puppet who served as his own Not-So-Imaginary Friend as a child. Said friend abandoned him after witnessing the disturbed, traumatized child commit one atrocity too many, and is still visibly shaken by what he's seen decades later.
  • Buddy Cop Show: An extremely odd variation, with former cop Nick teaming up with Happy, an imaginary friend only he can see.
  • Cain and Abel: In season 2, two brothers each try to recruit Sax to kill the other one.
  • The Cameo: Jeff Goldblum appears in the Season 2 finale, providing the voice of God.
  • Came Back Wrong: Disco Mikey comes back from the dead with his brains scrambled and possessed by something demonic, later revealed to be a demon named Orcus.
  • The Cavalry: Happy leads his fellow imaginary friend support group members in attacking Very Bad Santa to save Nick during their showdown.
  • Character Title: Happy, Hailey’s imaginary friend, is who the series is named after.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Among the attendants of Happy's support group is the former imaginary friend of Very Bad Santa, who leads Happy and Nick to him in the season finale. And the other imaginary friends play a part in taking him down.
    • Sonny Shine is only a background character for most of the first season, until it's revealed that he's the Big Bad.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Imaginary friends are sustained by the belief of the children who imagine them.
  • Clark Kent Outfit: You might expect Nick to be a physical wreck under all of those layers of moldy clothes, given his self-destructive lifestyle, but he's still quite muscular from his brighter days as a hero cop.
  • Cliffhanger: The first episode ends with Nick and Happy getting into a car crash, right after Happy told Nick that he is Hailey’s father.
  • Content Warnings: A spoof version runs prior to the show, with the content rolling through the description window like a slot machine.
    The following presentation is rated: TV WTF
    Killer Santas, Drunk A-holes, Sick Jokes, Depraved Lobsters, Flying Horses, Weirdos, Strung-Out Unicorns, Cheap Booze, Questionable Hygiene
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: After the reality TV producer insults Mr. Blue's gangster profession, Blue breaks a Christmas tree ornament across the producer's face, complete with broken shards lodging themselves into the skin.
  • Country Matters: Near the end of the second season Orcus is upset enough to call Amanda a cunt. She coolly replies 'See you next Tuesday' which is spelled out onscreen as CUNT in huge, colourful letters. Given the high swearing quotient of the show this is the second season's Precision F-Strike.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: In season 2, Smoothie intends to turn Hailey against her parents in revenge for Nick destroying his business. Specifically, he and Orcus are molding her to publicly kill Sonny Shine as part of Orcus' larger plan, with Smoothie making sure that Nick and Amanda are Forced to Watch.
  • Crappy Holidays: Between Nick nearly drinking himself to death and getting shot, Hailey being kidnapped and the Mob practically owning the police, it’s clear this isn’t a very merry Christmas season.
  • Crapsack World: This New York is apparently the breeding ground for killers and criminals, and children disappearing is not considered an unusual thing.
  • Creepy Child: Blue's son Gerry. In Episode 4, he gets a little too interested in hearing about hit men and in Episode 6 it is revealed that he tortures imaginary friends and nails them to his wall as trophies.
  • Dark Secret: The recently deceased Don had a password to an apparent dark secret (involving several people screaming in pain and being covered in blood), which he gave to his nephew who was supposed to give it to Mr. Blue. However, the nephew’s death leads to him trying to give it to Nick with his dying breaths, leading to the mob to start gunning for Nick, with various parties interested in bringing him to Mr. Blue or killing him to prevent exactly that. The truth is that Nick was too Genre Savvy (about how exactly that would happen) to let the nephew bribe him with a valuable secret, and then the nephew died too fast to get it out as Last Words. Too bad for Nick that the witness at the scene didn't know that and nobody will believe him after word gets out anyway. It's later revealed that it wasn't a password at all, but a demon named Orcus that has used the Scaramucci bloodline as hosts for generations.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Disco Mikey constantly masturbates after his near-death and Demonic Possession.
  • Deal with the Devil: In the Season 2 finale, Nick dies and goes to Heaven, only for Orcus to intercept him and offer him another chance at life (and revenge on Smoothie) in exchange for now serving Orcus forever. After a moment's hesitation, Nick accepts.
  • Death of a Child: Played straight in flashbacks, where a mob lawyer puts a baby in a microwave.
  • Declaration of Protection: Smoothie uses this as part of a ploy to turn Hailey against her parents, even murdering a bully on her behalf.
  • Defective Detective: Flashbacks reveal that Nick was a hero cop as well as a defective detective, and now he's even worse as a drug-addicted contract killer trying to solve a mystery.
  • Depraved Kids' Show Host:
    • Sonny Shine, for all of his Sugar Bowl fashion and behavior, is actually a depraved kingpin of evil.
    • Dayglo Doug seems like the good version of Sonny Shine, but he's actually a Nazi, though he insists that he's just a fan of history.
  • Determinator: Nick. Oh, so very much. Being shot, stabbed, beaten, caught in multiple car crashes, even suffering a heart attack; practically nothing will stop him from finding Hailey. Hell, hardly any of it even fazes him.
  • Dirty Cop: The New York City Police are filled to the brim with this, being under the thumb of the powerful Mafia lord Mr. Blue.
  • Disappeared Dad: Hailey only has her mother at the beginning of the series, with her father never being mentioned. Turns out said father is Nick Sax, who was unaware of her existence.
  • Disposable Vagrant: A fantastical version. Episode 6 reveals that Happy is only one of a legion of Not So Imaginary Friends in New York City, many of whom are abandoned and depressed now that their human friends have grown too old to believe in magic. Raspberry and Mr. Blue's son turn out to be kidnapping, torturing, and basically genociding the abandoned, vulnerable ones.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Mr. Blue threatens to kill his son’s dog (who is the fourth dog the son has had that year) because the dog kept scratching the reindeer antlers on him.
  • The Don: The former Don recently passed away in Italy, passing a dark secret onto one of his relatives. His nephew, Mr. Blue, is now officially in charge.
  • Engineered Heroics: Sonny's big Evil Plan in Season 2 is to stage a live Easter special broadcast worldwide, and have it attacked by an anti-Easter "terrorist" (actually one of his employees), who he then kills in order to save the day and become even more famous and beloved.
  • Eunuchs Are Evil: Smoothie.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Blue notes that while he's a mob boss who's done horrible things, even he thinks that his sister letting herself be taped 24/7 for her reality show and using her grief for her dead children to further the show is pretty tasteless (though he's also furious at the fact that this means that he's constantly in the spotlight, which is the last thing a mob boss would want).
  • Evil Counterpart: That creepy sock puppet Very Bad Santa carries around and speaks through? When he was still a child, Very Bad Santa used to have a sweet, lovable, living sock puppet as his Not-So-Imaginary Friend, much like how Hailey has Happy as her quasi-imaginary friend. Bad Santa's current sock puppet is a dark mockery of the childhood friend he once had.
  • Excited Show Title!: Happy!, which is fitting given how Happy himself is the most bizarre element of the show.
  • Expy: Sonny Shine's world includes humanoid creatures that are obviously Teletubbies with the serial numbers filed off.
  • Extremely Short Time Span: The whole series takes place over the course of about a week.
  • Eye Scream: Merry shoots out one of Smoothie's eyes when rescuing Nick in Episode 7.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When Nick finally kills Smoothie in the Season 2 finale, Smoothie accepts it with a smile, pleased to be killed by his Worthy Opponent.
  • Fallen Hero: Nick Sax used to be one of the NYPD’s best officers, before he got in trouble and fell into addiction. Now he’s a hitman splitting time between shots of booze and actual gunshots.
  • Familial Body Snatcher: The password Blue has been after that transfers some kind of supernatural force turns out to be a being that has been passing through successive hosts in the Scaramucci bloodline for generations. It's been named Orcus and a mishap in the process has left Blue sharing a body with it instead of being completely controlled. It outright states that, as it regains its strength, it will gradually take over Blue completely. Which it does after Blue kills himself in a failed attempt at Taking You with Me.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Very Bad Santa doesn't kill his victims, he lobotomizes them, turning them into living toys so that they "never grow up".
    • Orcus outright states that, as it regains its strength, it will gradually take over Blue completely, leaving what remains of him in a continuous blackout state.
  • First-Episode Spoiler: A close example, as it happens literally at the very end of the first episode, but there's Happy revealing to Nick that Hailey's his daughter.
  • Fish out of Water: Happy was just the imaginary friend of a little girl, but he’s forced to find help in the outside world after she’s kidnapped. Suffice to say, the mean streets of New York City don’t exactly fit his usual tastes.
  • Flipping the Bird: Hailey does this to Smoothie in Episode 7.
  • Foreshadowing: The title of Episode 6 is "The Scrapyard of Childish Things." It's a partial quote from a line spoken by Smoothie in the same episode, but it's also stealth foreshadowing for The Reveal when Happy finds the makeshift mausoleum of all the Not So Imaginary Friends that Raspberry and Mr. Blue's son have kidnapped, tortured, and killed.
  • Freudian Excuse: The Bad Santa, AKA Junior, was the son of a pedophile Mall Santa who was institutionalized as a child after his father was lynched by the staff. The horrific treatment he suffered in the asylum stunted his emotional growth, causing him to never want to give up his imaginary friend, which got worse as he got older and hooked on meth.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Sonny Shine used to be just an overgrown fanboy of Dayglo Doug's Power Hour. But then he met the Wishees, who helped him blackmail Dayglo Doug into retiring, and then helped him blackmail the network execs into letting him take over the Power Hour. Since then he has used the Wishees to blackmail anyone with power, enabling him to create his own little criminal empire.
  • Fun with Acronyms: In season two, Sonny Shine's pitch to the Vatican is Make Easter Great Again or MEGA. A play on Donald Trump's slogan Make America Great Again (MAGA).
  • Genre-Busting: A Buddy Cop Show with the partners fighting dirty cops, the Mob, and psychotic serial killers. And one of them is colorful flying horse that only the other partner can see.
  • Genre Refugee: Happy is very much this. He’d be well at home in the cheesy cartoon show Hailey loves, given his colorful body and cheerful personality. Too bad he’s in the real world, where psychotic killers rule the streets and his only hope at finding his friend is a drunken hitman.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Nick decides to hide Mikey in a church, where he ends up giving a confessional. Whatever he says, it causes the priest to denounce his faith and flee the building.
  • Gorn: Many scenes feature an abundance of gore that shouldn’t be possible. Examples include Nick’s Mushroom Samba where he shoots the top of his head off and the hospital fight with Mr. Blue’s goons that ends with several severed veins.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Orcus
  • Groin Attack: Smoothie threatens to cut Nick’s penis off into a bunch of thin slices. Like salami. He doesn't get the chance, however.
  • Handicapped Badass: Nick has a bad heart, leading to heart attacks that hinder him during key moments.
  • Healthcare Motivation: Merry is under Blue's thumb, because he pays for her mother's medication.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Merry's mom overdoses on her medication to sever Blue's control over Merry.
  • He's Back: Nick spends most of Season 2 trying to let go of his alcoholism (successfully) and his violent tendencies (less so) for the sake of having a relatively normal family life. However, at the end of "Arlo and Marie", after Amanda and Hailey are taken by Sonny Shine and Smoothie, he turns back to the alcohol to fuel his intended Roaring Rampage of Rescue. He even dons the same coat he wore throughout Season 1.
    Happy: I guess we're off the wagon.
    Nick: You're goddamn right.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Very Bad Santa's lair turns out to be in secret tunnels beneath an abandoned mall.
  • Home Porn Movie: The tapes Nick steals from Sonny Shine in "Some Girls Need A Lot of Repenting" are mostly these. Some of them are Sonny with his wife Bebe, some are him with other men.
  • Hope Spot:
    • In episode 4 where, after running around Chinatown and about to lose hope of finding Hailey, Nick and Happy are shown the Gimbel's sign, only to find that Very Bad Santa has taken the kids and ran.
    • In episode 6, where Hailey points out what appears to be an unlocked exit into the city. After escaping the classroom, Hailey and the kids run out the door and into a set with a photo-realistic backdrop.
    • Also in episode 6, after abandoning Nick after Nick goes too far, Happy attends a support group for depressed, abandoned Not So Imaginary Friends, and one of them offers to introduce Happy to a new human friend...who turns out to be the preteen son of the deeply evil Mr. Blue, and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree....
    • In episode 7, Nick catches up with the truck carrying the kidnapped children, only to find that Very Bad Santa has already attacked it and taken back Hailey.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Whatever's in those Wishees suits, it isn't human. They're ultimately revealed to be minions of Orcus, who is basically Satan.
  • Human Shield:
    • In order to escape Blue's house, Nick ties Blue's wife and son to him, using them as a human bulletproof vest.
    • Blue uses one of his bodyguards as a shield in the season one finale.
  • Improvised Weapon User: Nick brutally and efficiently kills the mooks that come after him with whatever is at hand. It's probably easier to list what random items he hasn't used yet.
  • In the Blood: The initially innocent-seeming preteen son of the deeply evil and sadistic Mr. Blue turns out to be slowly committing genocide upon the city's abandoned Not So Imaginary Friends.
  • I See Them, Too: Happy is not psyched to find out Very Bad Santa can see him. And touch him. He's a little more thrilled that Bebe Debarge can as well.
  • Junkie Parent: As of season 2, poor Hailey has to contend with two addicts for parents, with Nick barely trying to get sober and Amanda rapidly falling into addiction to cope with her trauma from season 1.
  • Kosher Nostra: Season 2 includes a subplot where rival Jewish mobster brothers each try to recruit Sax to kill the other one.
  • Lighter and Softer: The show is considerably more sillier and even heartwarming at times compared to the comic.
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • Nick dons a ratty winter outfit complete with Feliz Navidad scarf in the second episode and is not seen in anything else (barring flashbacks) until the final scene.
    • Very Bad Santa seems to wear his Santa outfit all day, every day. In a flashback, he's wearing a less elaborate version of it.
    • In season 2, Nick mostly wears an ugly Hawaiian shirt (given that it's now Spring), but returns to his classic winter outfit and scarf (now Easter-themed) in the final episodes. An epilogue has him wearing a Halloween scarf.
  • Long-Lost Relative:
    • Hailey is actually Nick’s daughter.
    • In "Pervapalooza", Nick takes Hailey to meet his estranged mother.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: The first episode ends with this twist, as Happy tells Nick that he is Hailey’s father, and that this is why Happy came to get him in the first place.
  • Made of Iron: In the course of just the first two episodes Nick is: shot, has a heart attack, is stabbed, jumps down three stories, and is in a car accident, and his week gets worse from there during the rest of season 1. He basically shrugs all of it off.
  • The Mafia: New York is under the thumb of such an organization, being run by the sadistic Mr. Blue.
  • The Man Behind the Man:
    • Very Bad Santa works for Mr. Blue, who it turns out works for Mr. Bug.
    • According to Dayglo Doug, the Wishees are this for Sonny Shine, as his career didn't take off until they showed up.
  • Mood Whiplash: All in the span of a few seconds, the sequence of events preceding the death of Very Bad Santa. He's attacked by Happy's army of imaginary friends, played for comedy, then he's triumphantly shot in the head, triggering a bizarre and darkly humorous imagine spot, then he's gruesomely hanged, and then his corpse is visited by his old imaginary friend, played for tragedy.
  • Mushroom Samba: Nick has one at the beginning of the first episode, being drunk as a skunk and high on numerous drugs. Said vision involves him shooting himself in the head, then dancing under a disco ball with roller-skating Santa helpers as his head gushes blood everywhere.
  • Mythology Gag: The Secret Society that Assunta and later Merry is a part of is called the Blue Feather. The original comic ends with Merry finding a blue feather that belonged to Happy.
  • Naturalized Name:
    • Sonny Shine was born Louis J. Sheinberg, but he changed it because it wasn't "a name for fans of all ages around the world".
    • Happy's full name is Happilocus Imaginus. Presumably, Hailey found this to be hard to remember.
    • In season 2, Merry has adopted the name "Mary" in order to obscure her past as a discredited cop so that it doesn't affect her efforts to become a real-estate agent.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: Nick initially thinks Happy is just a hallucination caused by the various cocktails of alcohol and drugs he’s taken, given how nobody else sees Happy. However, when he realizes Happy correctly counted the number of killers coming for him (something Nick couldn’t have known by himself as they were out of his line of sight), he starts to believe that Happy is indeed real and that his story about Hailey might be true. A running theme throughout Season 2 is that Happy is somehow different from other imaginary friends, as his transition from being Hailey's friend to Nick's friend is unprecedented. He's also able to hijack Orcus's Hate Plague and invert its affects to make people feel love, and he doesn't fade from existence during Nick's Disney Death.
  • Obviously Evil: Nick recalls taking one look at Very Bad Santa and refusing to work with him even on a contract killing because he's obviously a psychopath.
  • Odd Couple: Nick Sax is a hard-drinking, cynical hitman with a penchant for violence. Happy is a flying horse of numerous colors who only Nick can see and poops literal apples. Together, They Fight Crime!.
  • Off with His Head!: How Nick finally disposes of Smoothie in the second season finale. A newly-resurrected Nick forcibly turns Smoothie's head around four times before ripping it off with his bare hands.
  • Outside-Genre Foe: The Bad Santa probably could’ve gotten away with his kidnapping of Hailey had the world been as normally grounded and crappy as it is usually. Too bad the girl he kidnapped happened to have a Not-So-Imaginary Friend that gets help from another person.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: When escaping from the hospital, Nick steals a medical jacket off of a passing doctor. It might’ve been convincing, had he not been covered in blood and still wearing his hospital gown.
  • Percussive Maintenance: In season 2, Nick performs the Combat Pragmatist version. He shoots a mook with a pistol that jams after one round. He beats the hell out of another bad guy with that pistol. This seems to clear the jam, because Nick finds he is able to fire again, finishing off the first guy.
  • Plot Parallel: Mr. Blue presides over a sprawling New York criminal empire that is responsible for countless deaths, and Raspberry and Blue's son turns out to similarly be slowly killing off the city's many abandoned, vulnerable Not So Imaginary Friends.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Happy is always upbeat and serves as the comic relief sidekick.
  • Police are Useless: The few cops that aren’t dirty are apathetic at best to Hailey’s disappearance. When Merry, an experienced homicide detective, starts her own investigation, she is able to track down the kidnapper within a day and comes very close to rescuing Hailey and the other kidnapped kids. When she is subsequently told to back off, it is confirmed that the police could find the missing children but have been ordered not to look.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: From Happy, of all people, when leading The Cavalry against Very Bad Santa in the season finale:
    "Let's regift this fruitcake!"
  • Professional Killer: Nick has become one after dropping out of the police force.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The Very Bad Santa is incapable of emotionally maturing to the point that he's still capable of seeing imaginary friends. This actually caused his own imaginary friend to abandon him due to his growing insanity.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Nick in the season finale, before killing Very Bad Santa:
    "There ain't no fucking Santa Claus."
  • Professional Killer: Nick’s current occupation, having lost his job as a cop a long time ago.
  • Punny Name: The spelling of Merry's name is quite appropriate for the Christmas setting.
  • Race Lift: In the original comic, Amanda and Hailey Hansen are Caucasian, while in the TV adaptation Amanda is played by African-American actress Medina Senghore and Hailey by mixed-race actress Bryce Lorenzo.
  • Rape as Drama: Smoothie decides that as Nick will shrug off pain and cares little for his own life, the only way to properly torture him is to wear a huge strap-on and rape him.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • We find out that Blue's sister is on a reality show, and he occasionally appears on her show when he speaks to her, making only the barest of attempts to conceal his mob business and identity. This seems like it's all done under Rule of Funny, but then Blue's criminal overlord criticizes him for appearing on the show.
    • In "Some Girls Need a Lot of Repenting", Sonny Shine demands that Smoothie put the Skinless Dude inside a giant milk-chocolate bunny. Smoothie puts the guy inside a dark chocolate bunny instead, as a milk chocolate bunny that size would have melted too quickly.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: In the season finale, Nick's near-fatal heart attack leads to rumors on the street that he actually died.
  • The Reveal:
    • In the very last scene of Episode 3, we learn that Very Bad Santa is able to see Happy.
    • Episode 6 is a Wham Episode that reveals that Happy is just one of many fantastical Not So Imaginary Friends living in New York City, and one of them looks suspiciously like Very Bad Santa's bizarre sock puppet....
    • And in the Season 1 finale, both the above twists turn out to be related: Very Bad Santa used to have a Not-So-Imaginary Friend of his own before scaring him off.
    • In the Season 2 episode "Arlo and Marie", we learn that the Wishees serves Orcus, and have been manipulating Sonny all along on his behalf. Furthermore, Smoothie was recruited by them in-between seasons to help arrange Sonny's eventual assassination.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Happy is designed with a large nose, goofy looking buck teeth and large expressive cartoon eyes to evoke a cute child-like innocence to contrast with the bitter reality he's a part of.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Happy is an animated CG horse, and he’s shown interacting with numerous live-action objects.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: Nick's showdown with Very Bad Santa in the season finale.
  • Russian Roulette: Happy is forced to play by Raspberry. It doesn't end well for poor Captain Pancake, the other imaginary friend forced to play.
  • Sarcastic Confession: When asked how he's suddenly doing so well at poker, Nick Sax tells the truth: There's a little blue horse sitting on his opponents' head and telling him what cards he's holding.
  • Seen It All: With the exception of seeing Happy, Nick is pretty nonchalant towards a number of horrific things he sees everyday, and even laughs when people try to torture him.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: In the season 2 premiere, Nick has promised not to kill anyone, so when he is attacked by thugs with axes, he just dodges their attacks and pushes them away. The attackers end up impaling themselves, falling under forklifts and accidentally starting dangerous machinery until most of them are dead and Nick is surrounded by a bloodbath.
  • Serial Killer:
    • Very Bad Santa collects children, though he only lobotomizes them, and he hands over almost all of the children he takes in the series.
    • It's never revealed exactly what Sonny Shine is going to do with the kids, but it's almost certain that he won't let them live.
  • Sequel Hook: The Stinger of Season 1 shows Mikey visiting Blue in prison and passing along the "password" — actually a demonic force of some kind.
  • Sissy Villain: Sonny Shine.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Happy reenacts the ear-cutting scene from Reservoir Dogs, complete with the camera pan away from the actual deed, but he's actually tickling his captive.
    • Several characters quote lyrics rather than come up with their own words. For example, when being interrogated by Internal Affairs, Merry quotes "Words" by Missing Persons.
    • Very Bad Santa's credited name seems to be a riff on Bad Santa.
    • Happy comes from the city of Zork.
    • Nick is threatened by a gangster in Chinatown who sticks a knife up Nick's nose, just like Jack Nicholson in, well...Chinatown.
  • Show Within a Show: Mr. Blue's sister is starring in "Secrets of my Sussex," a reality show that's a blatant parody of The Real Housewives, meaning she's got a camera crew following her around constantly, even when mourning over her children at the morgue or discussing things with Blue (whose face is censored out and his voice distorted).
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Nick survives the heart attack in the season finale, while he died from his wounds in the finale of the comic series.
    • Blue died in the comic series' climax, while The Stinger of season 1 shows him incarcerated and demonically possessed.
  • Stealth Pun: Whenever Happy poops, an actual apple comes out. A common term for horse excrement is "horse apples".
  • Stout Strength: Very Bad Santa apparently has a Santa physique underneath the outfit, and Nick sports the paunch of a middle-aged alcoholic, but both have almost superhuman strength.
  • String Theory: In season 2, Merry has filled her living room with red strings tying together all of the information she has on Sonny Shine. Nick and Dayglo Doug dub the the "best crazy person room" either of them has ever seen.
  • Sugar Bowl: Everything kid-related is cutesy and colorful. Happy is a Ridiculously Cute Critter, and Sonny Shine's persona is sickeningly sweet. These provide a contrast to the dark, gory and perverse ambiance of the rest of the show.
  • Telepathy: Dayglo Doug theorizes that the Wishees use this to communicate with each other and Sonny Shine, as they have no mouths. It is strongly implied that he is correct.
  • They Fight Crime!: Nick and Happy work together to not just survive the Mob, but rescue Hailey before the evil Santa kills her.
  • Those Two Guys: Ace and Hubble, the cynical detectives from Internal Affairs. They are not nice women but they work very well as a team.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: A whole nursing home full of them, at that! After successfully blackmailing him to steal his show, Sonny Shine had Dayglo Doug placed there to further discredit him.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Happy breaks away from being nailed to a bulletin board and kills Raspberry, impaling him with his horn and covering Happy in purple blood. In the season finale, he twice manages to fight Very Bad Santa, actually doing pretty well for himself.
  • Torture Technician: Smoothie, who’s hired by Mr. Blue to extract the password out of Nick, is definitely one. He’s introduced torturing somebody with a smile on his face, and he repeatedly voices pleasure at causing Nick pain.
  • Trauma Button: In season 2, Amanda suffers flashbacks to her ordeal in season 1 whenever she sees Sonny Shine on TV, which is a problem, because she works as a pediatric dental assistant, so there's often a TV with Sonny Shine on it somewhere in the vicinity.
    • Episode 3 reveals that Hailey also has one as a result of her kidnapping. Receiving an ash mark on her forehead during Catholic Mass triggers a flashback to Very Bad Santa marking her forehead so he could lobotomize her. As a result she attacks the priest who marked her and breaks his thumb. She also has a bad reaction to fruitcake.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: Nick runs afoul of triad gangsters in Chinatown.
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: In Episode 7, a depressed Happy attends a group meeting for discarded imaginary friends.
  • Twisted Christmas: The first season takes place over the holiday season, and said holidays are punctuated with torture, kidnapping, murder, and a colorful flying horse.
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: Smoothie describes himself and Nick as this in episode 7.
    Nick: Which one am I?
    Smoothie: The dumb one.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Smoothie draws whiskers on Merry's face while she's unconscious. They're still visible in several later scenes, and not a single person comments or even reacts to them.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Late in Season 2, it's revealed that the Wishees have been manipulating Sonny Shine all along on Orcus's behalf, setting him up as a worldwide idol so that he can then be assassinated, allowing Orcus to feed on the resulting despair.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Around episode 4, Mr. Blue's sanity begins to slowly unravel. Three episodes later he finally breaks, with a tantrum worthy of the brattiest of six-year-olds.
  • Villainous Rescue: Very Bad Santa stops the shipment of children to Sonny Shine, though only so he can abduct Hailey for himself.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Sonny Shine is children's show host beloved around the world. He's also an amoral sociopath who operates his own little criminal empire based on depravity, blackmail, and child abduction.
  • Voice Changeling: The voice of Very Bad Santa's sock puppet is female, making the already bizarre sock puppet ventriloquism scenes that much more surreal.
  • Wham Line: Happy gets a dose of this in episode 3 when Very Bad Santa comes back over to Nick after beating him.
    "I can see you."
  • Wicked Cultured: Orcus (in Blue's body) and Shine wear black tie and tails to enjoy a private performance of Faust by an opera singer. Orcus orders the singer to stop when he is annoyed by Shine playing a game on his phone but is otherwise very polite and asks the singer to continue.
  • Worthy Opponent: In season 2, Smoothie and Sax consider consider each other to be one. In the last episode, Sax makes a deal with the devil to return to life so he can kill Smoothie. For his part, Smoothie is overjoyed to die at Sax's hands, having become depressed that their rivalry ended with Sax dying at someone else's hand.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Or headbutt a girl, for that matter. Nick has no qualms knocking Merry out without warning.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Bad Santa who kidnapped Hailey appears to have no qualm about hurting her, given the numerous other wooden boxes in his lair.
    • And yet Very Bad Santa pales in comparison to the children's next captor - Smoothie.
    • However, the season one finale reveals how Very Bad Santa lobotomizes his "nice kids" and tries to do the same to Hailey.
    • The wife-beating scumbag mob lawyer from Nick's flashback in episode 3. Who microwaves a baby.
    • In third episode of the second season, Smoothie nearly kills Hailey's bully by crushing her with the school's bleachers.
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