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Series / Wilfred

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"Don't worry, I ain't gonna bite you. I can smell your fear like I can smell the sour milk in your fridge. I'm seven years old, and too wise for lies."

Wilfred is an American fantasy comedy series starring Elijah Wood as Ryan, a troubled young man, and Jason Gann as Wilfred, a dog who appears to Ryan as a man in a dog costume but as a normal dog to everyone else.

Family Guy showrunner David Zuckerman adapted the original Australian show into an American version for FX with a much more mysterious and psychological edge. In this version, the main character is Ryan, a depressed former lawyer who attempts suicide, only to be interrupted by his beautiful new neighbor Jenna and her dog Wilfred. Ryan and Wilfred form a tumultuous friendship as Ryan attempts to work through his problems and find a love life. Wilfred's motives and origin are a recurring mystery, and the show frequently teases various answers as to whether Wilfred is real or Ryan is insane.

This show provides examples of:

  • An Aesop: Each episode is centered around Ryan learning a lesson about something in his life (it's the remaining word after the pre-episode quote fades). For instance, an episode in Season 2 was about Ryan learning to abandon his guilt.
  • All Just a Dream: Wilfred was just a regular dog. The whole thing was in Ryan's head.
  • Alpha Bitch: Jenna definitely does this to Ryan, especially in "Sacrifice".
  • Amoral Attorney: Ryan was known as the Archaeologist at his old firm for his ability to dig up dirt on the opposition.
  • And You Were There: Ryan's interpretations of Mataman and Krungle are implied to be derived from people he vaguely remembered while he was still an infant.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Wilfred loses one of his legs after getting hit by a car. Though it appears to Ryan he lost an arm.
  • Anyone Can Die: Not long after the aforementioned loss of his leg, Wilfred winds up dying of cancer at the end of the series.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Wilfred only sees in black and white, but this is a popularly held myth. In reality, dogs can see blue and yellow. Wilfred is all just Ryan's hallucination, though, so he apparently believes the myth.
  • Attention Whore: Wilfred, being a dog, is obsessed with always being the center of attention, and will go to very dark lengths to make sure it stays that way.
  • Author Appeal: There are a lot of "anal" related things in this show.
  • Basement-Dweller: Ryan spends a lot of time in his own basement getting high, even though he owns the entire house. It's ultimately left ambiguous as to whether the basement exists at all.
  • Berserk Button: Wilfred does not like being hit on the nose by a newspaper.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ryan, in "Identity".
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: "Conscience":
    Ryan: What's the one thing Jenna hates most about Drew?
    Wilfred: Vaginal tearing from his huge cock?
  • Big "NO!": Sneakers after failing to kill Kristen and Dr. Ramos.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: As pitiable as Ryan can be, he can do some rather nasty things when he thinks that he's in the right.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The real Wilfred dies of lung cancer. Then Jenna gets back together with Drew and dumps Ryan because she's afraid of change. If that wasn't bad enough, Ryan finds out that he really was crazy and his misadventures with Wilfred were all in his head. However, he does discover the truth behind the cult (and his origins), finds out that all three of his parents truly cared for him, gains the respect of his sister, and conjures up a phantom of Wilfred who promises to downplay his gross malevolence and help him out whenever he needs it. At the end of it all, Ryan learns that he is worthy of love and that it's okay to love himself, even if part of him is a rude, boorish, if well-meaning man in a dog suit.
  • Black Comedy: Dark jokes and gags pop up throughout the series. Wilfred's mean-spirited antics are often a source of this.
  • Black Comedy Rape:
    • Wilfred claims that Darryl puts peanut butter on his testicles to rape him; granted, it's generally taken very seriously, but Wilfred tells Ryan by seductively licking two ice-cream balls whilst crying.
    • Wilfred also mentions that dogs settle their differences sometimes by rape-fighting. In the season three opener He settles things with his clone this way. He doesn't like talking about its outcome.
    • During an after credits sequence, Wilfred asks Ryan if he would rape somebody if he could get away with it. Repeatedly.
    • Wilfred tells Ryan that his first sexual experience was raping a dog who had just been hit by a car so she was injured and unable to fight him off. He recalls the memory fondly and is oblivious to Ryan's horrified expression.
    • An elderly male doctor at the sanitarium where Ryan's mother is treated was once gangraped in a big, black van.
  • Blatant Lies: Jenna obviously has good intentions. After Wilfred has fooled everyone into thinking Ryan has broken into all their cars, she tells Ryan that everyone is glad he came to the annual block party.
  • Bookends: The first and last episodes of the show are called "Happiness". However, the quotes relating to both are different.
  • A Boy and His X: A young man and his neighbor's (talking) dog.
  • Brick Joke: Several references are made to Kristen exclusively dating black men in the past. When her date with Michael goes badly, she says it wouldn't have worked out anyway, listing one of the reasons why as the fact that "he's so pale".
  • Bungled Suicide: Ryan attempting suicide with (unbeknownst to him) placebos opens the series.
  • Cargo Ship: Wilfred enjoys relations with a large teddy bear and later, a stuffed giraffe. invoked
  • Catchphrase: Sneakers' seemed to have been "Yippity-doo!".
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: In "Pride", Ryan walks in on Wilfred masturbating to giraffe porn.
  • Character Title
  • Chewing the Scenery: Wilfred's entire character IS this.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ryan's mother. Ryan's father actually put her into a mental hospital for it.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Wilfred's main motivation.
  • Companion Cube: Bear and Raffi.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Wilfred is terrified of veterinarians and screams out microchip plots when Ryan takes him to one in "Trust". In "Compassion", he apparently has similar theories about the post office.
  • Continuity Nod: Ryan makes a quick reference to the car accident plot of "Pride" in "Anger".
  • Covert Pervert: Ryan's father had a particular fondness for black women and kept a secret stash of interracial pornography in an out-of-town storage locker.
  • Cringe Comedy: Not much of what Wilfred does is unusual for a dog, but since the character is anthropomorphized to the point of being played by a man in a dog suit, his casual discussions of normal canine behaviors definitely pushes the show into cringe territory on a regular basis.
  • Cuteness Proximity:
    • Wilfred uses it to his advantage.
    Wilfred: I once cracked a Nazi skinhead in the face with a beer bottle, and you know what he did to me? Belly rub.
    • In "Dignity", Ryan's otherwise complete dick of a boss loses all coherency at the sight of Wilfred. Later in the episode, Ryan's coworker explains how this trope is based in neurochemistry. Also subverted; Ryan's coworkers get annoyed after a few days.
  • Dead All Along: Played with in "Identity".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Wilfred obviously, though don't be surprised to catch Ryan in on the action.
    Wilfred: So chemistry, baking, and Ping-Pong. I guess my only question is how were you not blowjobbed to death by the entire cheerleading squad?
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Wilfred frames a dead homeless man for a string of thefts. Ryan wants to clear his name before realizing his alternatives are to confess (and be hated) or tell the truth (which no one will believe).
  • Despair Event Horizon: The end of season 1. Ryan winds up splitting up his sister and her husband, gets Jenna to go back to Drew because the replacement urine he used for her drug test said she was pregnant, and worst of all, Wilfred gets hit by a car and forgets who Ryan is. Ryan is also forced to seriously question his sanity upon finding out the basement he was spending time with Wilfred in is actually a closet.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Jenna plays it safe and gets back together with Drew instead of taking a risk on true happiness with Ryan. She moves away in the final episode.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Ryan uses this to find out what really happened to his old dog.
  • Disney Villain Death: Ryan's dad... except that was in Ryan's head... and then he dies in a car crash.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Wilfred gets revenge on the kid down the street, who always faked him out by pretending to throw balls, etc, by framing him for breaking into all the cars on the block.
    • Wilfred poisoned Ryan with chocolate for hitting him with a newspaper.
    • Wilfred had a neighbor dog killed after Ryan complimented the dog's handkerchief.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Ryan by this show's standards, though he does try to move on and dates other women even being prepared to marry Amanda.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: In "Fear", Ryan dreams of the moment his biker neighbor comes over to kick his ass for breaking into his house and stealing his weed, which occurs a bit later in the episode. Muddling the matter, however, is the fact that the dream is also full of the sort of weird things that happen in dreams, like a clock with spinning hands and Ryan having baby feet and pulling a tooth out of his mouth. The tooth bit actually happens when Spencer punches him in the face in the waking world.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: When Jenna gets fired from her TV station, Wilfred goes on a toilet water binge. This includes him dropping a shotglass of toilet water into a pint of toilet water.
  • Drunk with Power
    Wilfred: I AM GOD! THUNDER!!! (Thunder roars.)
    Ryan: How did you do that?!
  • Everyone Has Standards: Wilfred might be a tremendous deviant in several ways, but the fact that Jellybeans' mother is also his sister really, really grosses him out.
  • Fantastic Racism: Wilfred seems to consider it racist to forbid dogs at a beach or be given a bone as a gift. However, he's apparently bigoted against Dobermans, calling them "Dobies"
  • Flipping the Table: Inverted; Drew flips a lawn chair after winning at ping-pong. He's just insanely competitive. Played straight, by Wilfred, who "wins" board games by flipping the board over and punching Ryan in the face.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In "Anger", Kristen is surprised to hear from Ryan that their family home has a basement.
    • Kevin, one of Ryan's coworkers, says that jalapeños are going to be the death of him. Cut to the season finale, where we discover that Amanda framed Kevin, picking him as the fall guy for the sale of company secrets because he stole the jalapeños off of her bagel five times.
    • At the start of "Resistance", Ryan muses that happiness is a rather flighty state of being. He loses Jenna at its end after just getting together with her in the previous episode.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Sneakers's death badly traumatized Ryan.
    • Ryan and Kristen's manipulative tendencies, displays of passive-aggressive behavior, and tremendous difficulties with emotional control are a result of being chiefly raised by their father, who had similar psychological hang-ups. Their mother's numerous issues didn't help matters either.
    • Throughout "Questions" Ryan can't figure out why Kirsten's baby crying makes him panic. Turns out it was Kirsten telling the baby to stop crying that sent him into a panic, as she did the same thing to Ryan when his parents were fighting.
  • Gag Penis: Wilfred uses his tail as one in "Doubt". It's 23 inches, apparently.
  • Gainax Ending: The finales of seasons One and Two.
  • Ghostly Glide: Parodied in the episode "Respect", wherein Wilfred glides around the room as a dark messianic character, choosing which old people get to die.
  • Gilligan Cut: In "Anger", Ryan is about to go off on Kristen for being a raging bitch. The next cut is Wilfred berating him for not actually going through with yelling at her.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: One episode, Wilfred hears two female dogs "experimenting".
  • A God Am I: Wilfred does one of the greatest of these EVER, in "Respect". On a roof, in the pouring rain:
    Ryan: You've lost your mind. It's like you've got some kind of... God complex.
    Wilfred: I'll let you in on a little secret, Ryan. I don't have a God complex. I AM GOD! THUNDER!!
    Ryan: How did you do that?!
    Wilfred: Lucky coincidence!
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Xanatos Gambit in "Conscience". Ryan feels pretty terrible about it afterward.
  • Great Gazoo: Season 4 hints that Wilfred is this, but it's ultimately subverted as it turns out to be a Red Herring.
  • Grew a Spine: Part of Ryan's character development is him learning how to stand up for himself.
  • Harmless Villain: Wilfred at one point attempts to poison Ryan. With chocolate. To be fair, it would've worked on Wilfred...
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: At the end of "Anger", Kristen reveals that it was her fault that Sneakers died and begs Ryan for forgiveness. She hopes that Wilfred will let her pet him, only for him to slap a glass of red wine at her.
  • Hidden Depths: Wilfred speaks Italian. Then again, he's a dog.
  • Hypocritical Humor: From "Conscience":
    Wilfred: Have you any idea what it feels like to have someone come into your house, treat you with no respect, and act like they own the place?
    Ryan: Did you eat my sandwich?
    • And this line.
    "Community service is for drunk drivers and wife beaters, not upstanding citizens like us. Now let's go to the playground and blaze a fatty."
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The series uses one word taken from a quote; for example, Episode 1 is "Happiness", from the Mark Twain quote "Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination."
  • Informed Judaism: Played for comedy by suddenly revealing that minor characters are practicing Jews.
    • Spencer (Ryan's biker neighbor), who complains about his old friend Jesse banging his girlfriend on the Shabbos.
    • In season 5, Wilfred references Bear's observance of the Jewish High Holy Days.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Spencer's ex-girlfriend is a prostitute. Having sex with clients is considered work and not cheating. However she does not work on the Shabbos, so when his friend banged her on the Shabbos that counted as cheating.
  • Insult Backfire: In "Compassion", Wilfred fails to see why "son of a bitch" and "eat shit" is insulting.
  • Invisible to Normals: With few exceptions, no one else notices Wilfred's undoglike behavior except Ryan. This is because Wilfred is just a regular dog, and Ryan is hallucinating his behavior. The people who also see Wilfred as human are also either hallucinations or are themselves hallucinating.
  • It Runs in the Family:
    • Ryan has pretty big concerns about ending up crazy like his mother, who had a mental breakdown around his age. The Stinger of her debut episode reveals that she sees her cat Mittens as a woman in a cat suit. The series finale lends more weight to this, as Ryan discovers that his birth father Charles also suffered from hallucinations and is now medicated. When Ryan asks if his dog talks to him, Charles says, "Not for a long time."
    • Kristen is revealed to have inherited her father's fetish for black people.
    • Also, Kristen and her mother both committed adultery and conceived sons out of wedlock.
    • Both Ryan and his father Henry had gotten into romantic relationships with mentally unstable women that ended badly for them.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Ryan went to Stanford Law.
  • Jerkass:
    • Wilfred, although he is ambiguously a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Very ambiguously.
    • Ryan's sister Kristen.
    • Ryan's boss at his job in the second season. He interrupts Ryan and a female coworker discussing a future date with this:
      Boss: The CNVN 311 patent. I need you to review and summarize by Friday. Possible?
      Ryan: This Friday? ...Sure.
      Boss: Ooh, you sound confident. Thursday. Possible?
      Ryan: ...Sure, Thursday. Whenever you need.
      Boss: I like your attitude. Let's make it Wednesday. (clicks tongue, leaves)
    • Drew borders on this. He's never seen doing anything overly dickish and is mostly just an obnoxious overgrown child who takes competition way too seriously, but he's bragged about doing things that would absolutely qualify him for this. Of course, it's never confirmed if he actually did them or if he's just a blowhard.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Wilfred is a selfish bastard, but he's often pretty accurate with his assessment of Ryan's shortcomings. Sometimes his schemes and advice really do seem like good ideas.
  • Just Friends: Jenna and her "old college chum, Bobby 'Blueballs' Davis". Wilfred warns Ryan that he is nearing the friendzone in "Conscience".
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Drew's Kick Them While They Are Down moment against a former rival as well as other expressions of his competition-related rage issues.
    • Also, this is the only show on television where it's dog who kicks the dog.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Jenna's boyfriend Drew is a beer salesmen for Sheboygan Lager. He tells Ryan this anecdote in "Conscience": when Drew discovered another brewery talking to his clients, he turned around and carried the same plan to completion. A month later he encountered a salesman for the rival brewery at a bar, who had been fired thanks to Drew. Drew decides to buy him a bottle of Sheboygan Lager. He later reveals he didn't even buy the guy a beer; he bought himself one and told the guy to lick his nuts
  • The Lad-ette: The beer-chugging, cheesesteak-gobbling Jenna, Ryan's object of affection in the series. The problem is that Ryan spends all of "Trust" thinking that she has a dick, and all this manliness does not help matters.
  • Large Ham: Wilfred at times. Commonly accompanies an affected accent.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Wilfred usually escapes an episode without getting his comeuppance, but "Responsibility" has karma catch up to him when a car runs him over and he loses a leg. After spending an entire episode mocking a three-legged dog. Subverted as he wanted to lose a leg to gain more attention.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Ryan and Kristen, more so than with either of their various lovers. Lampshaded during "Stagnation".
  • Loners Are Freaks: Ryan has to deal with the rest of the neighborhood believing this in "Isolation".
  • Loving a Shadow: Ryan ultimately comes to the conclusion that he only loved the fantasy of Jenna as the sweet, bubbly Girl Next Door.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Ryan sees Wilfred as a regular dog after he dies in "Resistance".
  • Magical Native American: Parodied in the form of Ryan's "Spirit Guide" from "Questions". He notes that he's so stereotypical, cause he's in Ryan's head.
  • Manchild: Ryan, sort of. His personality itself isn't very childish; however, a lot of his actions stem from him taking out grudges on things he's held against since he was a child. Drew might be this moreso than Ryan, though...
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Cinzia.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • Wilfred. You never know whether he's really trying to help Ryan become a better man or if he's working some other angle. Ryan gets wise to it, but he's still drawn into Wilfred's schemes, often because Jerkass Has a Point.
    • As revealed during the Season 1 finale, Ryan was one too. When he returns to his old ways he screws pretty much everyone's life up.
    • Ryan's father, if you believe in Ryan's interpretation of his character.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Wilfred. Is he some sort of magical creature, or is Ryan either dead or completely insane? It turns out that Ryan really was crazy the whole time.
  • Meaningful Name: Ryan's full name is Ryan Newman, as in Newman.
  • Memetic Mutation: This happens in-universe when Jenna's infamous marijuana-fueled incident on the TV news ("Squishy Tits") becomes a viral video on the Internet, and even gets remixed into a music video.
  • Metaphorgotten:
    • When Wilfred wants to rescue a stuffed teddy bear from Darryl, an animal raping daycare owner:
      Wilfred: What Darryl does to Bear is even worse!
      Ryan: It's a stuffed animal.
      Wilfred: Yeah, Ryan. Stuffed with pain! ...and humiliation! ...and Darryl's cum! ...and bits of foam I think.
    • In "Dignity":
      Wilfred: (as he chips away at some wall molding presumably painted in Arctic Glow Semi-Gloss) Well, that's because you let your boss walk all over you. You can't let him keep chipping away your dignity like a cheap coat of Arctic Glow Semi-Gloss.
  • Mind Screw: The picture we see in the second season finale, drawn by Ryan as a child. "Who's the dog?"
  • Moral Myopia: Ryan has a hard time accepting the idea that dogs have the same feelings and rights as people. Wilfred on the other hand, can't seem to understand that the feelings and rights of others aren't his to violate as he pleases.
  • Motif: The Truth. There are a lot of secrets, lies and uncertainty in the show, especially concerning Wilfred. Sometimes learning the truth helps, but other times the lie seems to be better.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Wilfred. Ultimately deconstructed in the final season where it's revealed that all his substance abuse (all of the times Ryan held a smoking bong underneath an ordinary dog's nose) has given him lung cancer.
  • Münchausen Syndrome: Wilfred shows frequent obsession over having the monopoly on providing emotional support to the cast.
  • Mushroom Samba: "Questions" and "Answers".
  • My Greatest Failure: In "Anger", Ryan reveals that his childhood dog Sneakers drowned because Ryan left the gate to the pool open.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Usually averted at the end of each episode. Notably played straight, however, when Season 1 ends; Wilfred sacrifices himself for the greater good and forgets Ryan, Ryan may or may not be insane, Jenna thinks she's pregnant after Kristen's urine is unknowingly tested instead (causing her to settle down with a man she doesn't really like) and Kristen, who doesn't realize she's pregnant, tells her husband about her affair so Ryan can't blackmail her anymore, ending her relationship and causing her to disown Ryan and run off to India.
  • N-Word Privileges: "Scooby-Doo" is apparently the N-Word to dogs.
    • Wilfred also stops Ryan when he says the word "Dobies" to describe Doberman, claiming that it's "their word"... then proceeds to use Dobies as a slur for the rest of the episode without hesitation.
  • Parental Incest:
    • Spencer has a transsexual for a father, finds his father's porn hot, and considers her to have perfect breasts.
    • Turns out Wilfred managed to trick his friend Bruce into making out with his own father. Assuming it wasn't just one of the many lies they told as part of the plan.
    • Jellybeans, one of the neighborhood dogs, was a product of this.
  • Ping Pong Naďveté: Wilfred can be tremendously insightful at one moment and incredibly dense the next.
  • Played for Laughs: Ryan's complete failure at suicide is initially treated lightly: Wilfred even remarks that the fourth revision of his suicide note wasn't very good. Later, the topic is revisited with a much darker tone.
  • The Pollyanna: Ryan's childhood dog Sneakers. Golly!
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: "Claire de Lune" is used in "Sacrifice".
  • Rage Quit: After getting a Clue accusation wrong in the tag for "Sacrifice", Wilfred flips the game board and sucker punches Ryan.
  • Red Herring: Everything to do with Dog Gods. Wilfred is just Ryan's hallucination.
  • The Reveal: In the series finale, Ryan finally learns the truth about himself and Wilfred:
    • Ryan is not actually the son of Henry Newman; his biological father was Charles Smith, who founded a cult called the Flock of the Grey Shepherd. Catherine Newman ran away to join the cult, where she and Charles conceived Ryan. Before Charles was tried and convicted of tax fraud, Henry agreed to defend him on the condition that Charles gives up custody of Ryan to Henry. Ryan was raised to be totally oblivious of his true parentage.
    • Wilfred is a normal dog. The man wearing a dog suit is merely an imaginary friend/split personality who has been hallucinated by Ryan for the entire series. His appearance is based on Ryan's memories of a man named Richard (a cult member who dressed up in a dog suit as the cult's dog god Mataman), while his personality is actually based on Ryan's id.
  • Romantic False Lead:
    • Drew, Jenna's husband. He's not a bad guy, but he's got enough flaws to make the viewer want Ryan to succeed. At the end however, Jenna decides to stick it out with Drew after patching things up with him.
    • Averted with Amanda, who is treated as a legitimate love interest, and Ryan might have been happier when he was with her than at any other point in the series.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Ryan's boss Jeremy walks in late and rants about how there needs to be a special speed lane on highways for "the people who contribute the most to society".
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Sort of, with Ryan's hallucinatory spirit guide "Red Wolf" Wolf Red
  • Second Episode Morning: Technically occurs in the first episode, but after Ryan meets Wilfred and wakes up after a minor NyQuil coma, he sees a normal dog in his yard, causing him to write off the man in a dog suit weirdness as a dream... Until he looks in another direction and sees that there's a man in a dog suit in his house.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Ryan is the Sensitive Guy and Wilfred is the Manly Man-Dog.
  • Shadow Archetype: Trash Face the homeless guy is this to Ryan.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "Fear", when Wilfred is taken away by animal control for attacking a neighbor, he is wearing Hannibal Lecter's mask.
    • "Identity" casts doubt on whether Ryan actually bungled his suicide. Cue Lost references from Wilfred.
    • In "Dignity", Wilfred pulls a stupid stunt, holds his arms wide, and exclaims: "Are you not entertained?!"
    • In "Sincerity", Wilfred shows Ryan a picture of himself on a mountaintop with his "arms raised in a V" in front of a "lemon-yellow sun." These are from the lyrics to Pearl Jam's song "Jeremy."
    • In one episode, Wilfred says, "I don't have a God complex. I am God!" This is a paraphrased quote from Alec Baldwin's character in Malice.
  • Snap Back: Most of the Mind Screw revelations in the first season finale are snapped back in the beginning of the second to the point that the basic structure of the show continues.
  • Sore Loser: Jenna's boyfriend Drew, to the point of throwing the Wiimote through the window after losing to Jenna's dad at Wii Golf.
  • Starts with a Suicide: Ryan attempts suicide in the opening scene.
  • The Stoner: Wilfred gets high pretty often, but he doesn't fit the rest of the stereotype very well; he's too much of an asshole. Ryan is also an example, especially once he gets a medical marijuana recommendation in "Trust".
  • Suddenly Shouting: Wildred does this during his "A God Am I" speech.
  • The Tag: Most episodes of the series end with Ryan and Wilfred chatting and getting high in his basement, though sometimes this is left off when it wouldn't make sense with the episode's ending.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Kristen has a habit of trying to cut people down so they can be as miserable as she is when she's in a bad mood, which is incredibly often. This is taken to the extreme in the final season when she tries to break up her mother's romance and have her re-committed because her own life is in shambles. She cops to it and makes amends.
  • Technicolor Science: Appears near the end of "Conscience".
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Just how straight this trope is being played is debatable. Wilfred does tell Adam/Ryan things that the latter couldn't have known on occasion.
  • Toilet Humor: In The Tag for the episode "Fear", Wilfred plays with a Play-doh press that excretes a little turd of dough, groaning and making fart noises all the while.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Kristen after both she and Ryan get "FUNemployed."
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Wilfred has a torch in "Isolation": "I say string up the weirdo!" (Oh, and that's Ryan. Of course.) He doesn't understand why he's the only one with a torch.
  • To Serve Man: Being scavengers after all, dogs such as Wilfred are not averse to the taste of human flesh. In the course of one episode, he eats the splattered brains of Ryan's dead boss and Kristen's placenta.
  • Trickster Mentor: Wilfred definitely qualifies as this.
  • The Unfavorite: In the present, Ryan. During their childhood, it was actually Kristen because her parents considered her to be the reason that their relationship went south.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In "Fear", Ryan buys Wilfred a Kobe beef chewing bone. Wilfred simply complains that it's not a bong or vaporizer.
  • Unreliable Expositor: Wilfred makes a habit of bending the truth on several occasions, but it's usually to make a point or get his way (such as telling Ryan that Jenna has a penis, only to reveal he was actually just fucking with Ryan to get revenge).
    • "Conscience" has Wilfred giving Ryan a lethal dose of Theobromine, only for the pair to discover it's the chemical in chocolate that makes it lethal to dogs, making it one of the few examples of Wilfred getting his facts wrong.
    • See Drew's anecdote in "Kick Them While They Are Down" up there? What actually happened was that Drew bought himself the Sheboygan Lager, spit it in the other guy's face, and yelled at him to "lick my balls".
  • The Unreveal:
    • Many episodes leave the plot ambiguous at the end: We never find out if the dog daycare owner in "Acceptance" actually molested Wilfred or not, or whether Wilfred actually killed anyone at the hospital or not in "Respect". We also never find out if Wilfred was genuinely possessed by Ryan's old dog Sneakers, or how Bruce and Wilfred met, and how he sees him like Ryan does. However, all of these are explained in the final season when we get confirmation that Wilfred's humanlike interactions are all just hallucinations.
    • Whether or not Ryan's basement exists. In the final episode, Ryan opens the door and looks inside, reacts, and shuts the door before we see inside.
  • Unseen No More: In the penultimate episode, Wilfred the actual dog is shown for the first time as he dies with Ryan by his side, no longer seeing the man in the dog suit.
  • Verbal Tic: Drew and "bro".
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Ryan only became a lawyer to please his father and to keep him from throwing him into the loony bin like his mother.
  • Wham Line: From "Confrontation" regarding Ryan's childhood painting featuring Wilfred.
    Ryan: Then, who drew it?
    Catherine: Kirsten.
  • Wipe That Smile Off Your Face: Done with Ryan's tongue, in "Isolation".
  • Xanatos Gambit: In "Conscience". It was meant to be a Batman Gambit, but it worked out after the "lose condition" happened anyway. The plan was for Ryan to challenge Drew to a ping-pong game and win, hoping that Jenna would be in the vicinity to see him lose his shit. He still went pretty crazy after winning.