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The Comically Serious / Western Animation

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  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In the same vein as Batman, Zuko's perpetually frowning, serious demeanor leaves him wide open to many a humorous moment, partially to being paired with his foil of a jolly uncle.note  Subtly acknowledged later in the series when Sokka asks Zuko if he's happy now that he's foiled Sokka's plan, and Zuko replies, deadpan, "I'm never happy." Sokka and Zuko work together in this role almost as well as Zuko and Iroh.
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    • Another female example is the Emotionless Mai, similarly foiled with being accompanied by a cheerful, bubbly Cloudcuckoolander.
    • Sokka started out as a stern, down-to-earth, warrior-in-training, but his Comically Serious moments, as well as improvisations from his comedian voice actor, soon turned him into a goofy Plucky Comic Relief. Also see him trying to work with a bunch of out-there "nomads" in "The Cave of Two Lovers".
    • Katara, after having her heart hardened by the events of the Season 2 finale, apparently trades what wittiness she has for more seriousness.
    • Not even Azula, The Chessmaster and Magnificent Bastard, can work her way out of this one. The episode "The Beach" places her and her team in completely normal social situations and ends up highlighting her complete social ineptitude.
      Azula: That's a sharp outfit, Chan! Careful, you could puncture the hull of an Empire-class Fire Nation Battleship, leaving thousands to drown at sea!
      Chan: ...
      Azula: Because... it's so sharp!
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    • In The Legend of Korra, Korra's airbending teacher Tenzin takes on this role. He doesn't think that the shenanigans going on around him are at all funny, which of course means he becomes the target of endless inconveniences and humiliations. Also becomes a case of Not So Above It All.
    • Amon has shown potential to be this too if the memetic "Comedy Amon" is any indication.
  • Batman. Batman, Batman, Batman.note 
    • Batman with babies.
      • For bonus points, he's corrected on how to hold a baby by a victim he'd just helped, and the gang he'd just intimidated into disarming.
    • Batman often plays the Comically Serious role on Justice League.
    • In the episode "Flash and Substance", Batman passes the Unfunny torch to fellow JLU member Orion.
    • Turns out that watching Batman eat a hot-dog can potentially be the funniest thing ever.
    • Even in the Grand Finale of Justice League Unlimited, where he threw himself hopelessly at a villain who could take punches from Superman, he was laughing at the Bat's sheer tenaciousness. Of course, in lieu of better ideas, which is what Batman normally does, what else was there to do?
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    • Who can forget the ending of This Little Piggy when Batman is forced to sing? And actually has a great voice!
      Zatanna: And you'll keep your part of the bargain?
      Circe: A deal's a deal. He can stop now.
      Zatanna: Not on your life!
    • In "Kid Stuff" when the Justice Leaguers are de-aged into childhood Batman still keeps up his grumpy demeanor. This becomes actual unfunny at the end of the episode, when he reminds the others that he was regressed to the age he was when his childhood came to an abrupt and unhappy end.
    • A rare Batman laugh came when Harley Quinn told him how The Joker will love her for successfully putting Batman in a Death Trap. However, it was more an Evil Laugh meant to freak Harley out.
    • Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a subversion of Batman's usual unfunny role. Heck, in the second episode, Batman plays both straight man and funny man in the same joke. Another good episode is "Gorillas in Our Midst".
    • In one Kids WB commercial, Batman was forced to sing the Jigglypuff song from Pokémon. The look on his face was priceless.
    • In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Terry McGinnis suggests that the difficulty of getting his predecessor to laugh was one reason The Joker was so obsessed with him, and claims that Bruce Wayne has No Sense of Humor.
  • Ben 10 (2016) is a Denser and Wackier reboot of the original, meaning that even the villains that are still dangerous have some kind of funny quirk. So when Vilgax (who is virtually unchanged from his original characterization) has to deal with the likes of Zambozo or Animo, it's usually comedy gold (until it's not anymore).
  • Bob's Burgers: Bob Belcher and his emotionless daughter Tina. A major part of Bob's character is that he reacts to the insanity around him the way a Real Life person would.
  • Daria has just about enough dry humor and witty remarks to qualify as this. Made even more hilarious by the fact that she manages to maintain her dispassionate expression. This is especially evident in the episodes' promos with Jane before the intro of the show.
  • The central premise behind Droopy was the fact that he never raised his voice, or ever sounded interested in anything. One of the character's Catch Phrases was "You know what? I'm happy." He would say this in the most deadpan, uninterested tone possible. Until you ticked him off sufficiently, but even then the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown was prefaced with "You know what? That makes me mad." in the same deadpan tone as the previous line.
  • Dijon from the 2017 Ducktales 2017 reboot is a perfect example of this. Pretty much every single one of his lines is delivered with a stern expression and dramatic flair, inspiring Dewey to also start making overdramatic speeches through the episode. He is also fairly gullible in taking everything 100% seriously, to the point where when someone does the "Got your nose!"-trick on him, he actually believes they stole his nose and draws his sword to demand it back.
  • Edd from Ed, Edd n Eddy. Even his sarcasm can be funny at times.
  • Bill the Caveman, from the Terrible Thunder-Lizards sections of Eek! The Cat. (The fact that he was also The Chew Toy made it even funnier — "When will the hurting stop?")
  • Cosgrove from Freakazoid!, taking everything seriously to the point of ridiculous.
  • Al Gore on Futurama.
    "I have ridden the mighty moon worm!"
  • The episode "Brother From Another Series" revealed that this trope is why Sideshow Bob became Krusty the Clown's sidekick instead of his brother Cecil. As Krusty explains after a poor pie-in-the-face gag from Cecil's straightforward goofy clown audition:
    Krusty: Free comedy tip, slick: the pie gag's only funny when the sap's got dignity. (sees Bob) Like that guy. Hey, Hal, pie-job for Lord Autumnbottom there!
    • Bob then gets hit in the side of the head with a pie, causing his huge, bushy, palm-tree-like hair to spring out of his hat and everyone else to die with laughter.
  • Principal Skinner as well.
    Reporter: Principal Skinner, you've been referred to as "the funny one." Is that reputation justified?
    Skinner: [seriously] Yes. Yes, it is.
  • One episode had the family visiting a comedy club. One of the comics, with a dreary expression on his face that never changes, walks up to the mike and simply says: "I finally got around to reading the dictionary. Turns out the zebra did it." (Homer is the only person who doesn't laugh.)
  • Rex Banner who's brought in to enforce Prohibition. He's physically unable to laugh, even at his own jokes.
  • Shadow again takes this role in the last first-season episode of Sonic Boom, where he takes the goal of killing Sonic way more seriously than the overly giddy to work with him Dr. Eggman. He also sounds completely serious when he claims Sonic's poor attempt at building a bookcase earlier in the episode is reason enough to justify murdering him.
    Shadow: Your shoddy craftsmanship brings shame on all hedgehog-kind. And for that, you shall perish!
  • The Mask: Dr Neuman is given the mask by Stanley who wanted to get rid of it but he starts to get curious so he gives in and it takes him over which it turns him into a looney and polite supervillain who still keeps up his deadpan professional demeanor which he mixes it up with the Mask's cartoony antics such as when he sees anyone that he thinks has Ipkissa Maskosis, he puts them in wedgie straitjackets and he shows that he has several cartoonish traits like The Mask such as thinking a gorilla has got Ipkissa Maskosis which he takes diapers out to turn into a wedgie straitjacket showing he also thinks animals got it too, he pops his eyes out when he sees Stanley again and gets head bonked on by Pretorius which after popping his head back out sees planets and stars all around him.
  • South Park:
    • Craig Tucker, as of Season 12's Pandemic 2-Parter, which solidified his character after several seasons of Characterization Marches On:
    Craig: Sir, I promise you, I'm not going to ruin your plans. I'll just walk away. See? [walks onto a square with a pattern on it. The circle in the center of the pattern lights up and begins to rotate up and out. Two stone slabs jut out from the pillar. The golden idol's eyes light up. A beam of light goes from the idol's staff to one of the slabs, and two beams of lightning come out of Craig's eyes] Okay, now there's sparks shooting out of my eyes.
    • Also the German people, they may have terrible jokes but their completely serious blunt delivery actually make it a bit funny.
  • Squidward in SpongeBob SquarePants. He does sort of have a sense of humor, although it careers between practical joker and Deadpan Snarker, depending on the situation.
  • Rock Debris from Spy Groove is hilarious for how somber he is in a world of flamboyant cartoonish Super Villains, and for being a fairly normal person amid a cast of characters with ludicrous Freudian Excuses who rely on Zany Schemes.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Garnet. Silly things sometimes happen to/around her and she never stops being serious. Case in point, in "Together Breakfast" when fighting a monster made from a demonically-possessed plate of waffles she says, completely seriously, "Now it has all the powers of a breakfast. We have to destroy it!" In "Pool Hopping", she wants to be able to look into unlikely futures, and reasons that to do this, she has to be random and unpredictable. A lot of humor is drawn from Garnet acting ridiculous and being deadly serious about it.
    • It's revealed in "Keystone Motel" that Garnet got this from Sapphire.
      Steven: Uhh, Sapphire? The toilet's frozen.
      Sapphire: Such is fate.
      Steven: Am I fated to pee outside in the grass too?
      Sapphire: Yes.
    • Peridot, at first. She first assumes that "Steven" is the name of a species that replaced humans, and still thinks the sticker she saw at the Galaxy Warp is an official symbol of some kind. As she starts to lose it from isolation, this trait diminishes, such that by "Friend Ship" she spends the entire episode laughing like a maniac and gleefully tormenting the Crystal Gems. This trait swings around to full prominence in "When It Rains", where she delivers a serious, calculating monologue about trusting Steven after he... explains the water cycle to her.
    • Lapis has her moments thanks to a lack of social skills. When she first leaves Earth to go back to Homeworld, a dramatic exit is ruined by some awkward pauses:
      Lapis Lazuli: Thank you, Steven!
      Steven: No prob, Bob.
      Lapis Lazuli: [beat] It's Lapis...
      Steven: [beat] ...Yeah.
      Lapis Lazuli: [beat] Okay, bye.
    • Yellow Diamond as well, as being called a "clod" by Peridot provokes a hilarious reaction.
  • As opposed to his original source, Shere Khan in TaleSpin is a master of this trope. No matter what insanity is occurring around him, Khan responds to it in the exact same deadpan growl as he uses during a regular business meeting. In fact, if Khan ever smiles at you it's probably a good idea to run like hell.
  • Raven, the Deadpan Snarker Emotionless Girl of Teen Titans, who the writers torture with such plots as: a "Freaky Friday" Flip with her Cloudcuckoolander team-mate Starfire, being turned into a bunny rabbit, and baby-sitting.
  • Optimus Prime has shades of this in Transformers: Prime. Bulkhead explicitly mentions never seeing Optimus laugh, cry or lose his cool, but funny stuff is made funnier by his completely deadpan reaction to it. After showing a LOLCats-esque internet meme that actually got Ratchet to chuckle, Jack asked Optimus if he wanted to see something funny, Optimus replied rather bluntly "No."
    • In another incident, Optimus is called upon by Agent Fowler to talk to his superior General Bryce in order to alleviate some tension regarding recent events. Given that Bryce and the camera-man were not expecting Optimus to literally be outside their window, it results in them acting befuddled talking to a 30 foot robot. Optimus meanwhile remains courteous and polite the entire time.
    • Another giant robot with no sense of humor is the Decepticon Lugnut from Transformers Animated. Luggy is a gigantic and merciless war machine with a completely serious and fanatical devotion to his lord Megatron. As opposed to his more eccentric partner Blitzwing, he never, ever jokes. He's also often hilarious.
    • As Transformers: Rescue Bots is in the same continuity as Transformers: Prime, it should be no surprise that this carries over to Optimus Prime's portrayal in that series as well.
      Blades: Helping you is... Well, you're bigger than Elvis!
      Optimus: I have not met this Elvis and am unaware of his size.
  • VeggieTales: A lot of the humor surrounding the character of Archibald Asparagus centers on his being either the Straight Man to Larry's Wise Guy (mainly in the Silly Songs with Larry segments, which is in fact how the character was introduced — as a parody of the Colonel from Monty Python's Flying Circus, which creator Phil Vischer would pay homage to multiple times more throughout the franchise) or a beleaguered Reasonable Authority Figure (in his second appearance, during the second story on the first video) or Upper-Class Twit (in the Gilligan's Island parody on the second video).
  • Evil Overlord Lord Hater from Wander over Yonder talks a tough game, but he tends to be constantly (and easily) frustrated by Wander's cheeriness and attempts to be friendly with him.
  • We Bare Bears:
    • Ice Bear. His expression remains completely flat even when he's blow-torching a lobster or wearing a stack of stolen hard hats, and his flat, monotone voice makes him extremely quotable.
      Ice Bear: Ice Bear heard wrappers. Not hip-hop.
    • Dr. Clark is a reoccurring doctor character who seems to react to the hijinks of the Bears and others with the same monotone snark.
  • Jacob Scribble from Wunschpunsch has to deal with the silliest of spells on a daily basis, and reacts to each and every one of them with deadly seriousness.
  • Chase Young may be dangerous, smart and one evil villain, but he's still a serious character trapped in a rather goofy show like Xiaolin Showdown.


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