Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Earthworm Jim

Go To
"Eat dirt!"

Earthworm Jim

A much-loved 2D action-platformer from Shiny Entertainment, formed when Playmates Toys approached Virgin Software alumnus Dave Perry (who had developed Cool Spot and Aladdin for Virgin) to create a marketable videogame franchise to build a new multimedia sensation upon, in the spirit of their previous success, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. The title character (created by cartoonist Doug TenNapel) is an earthworm mutated by a mechanical super-suit from space into a somewhat awkward super-hero, who takes it upon himself to stop the machinations of the Evil Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-Filled, Malformed Slug-For-A-Butt and rescue the beautiful Princess What's-Her-Name. His adventure takes him from the scrap heaps of New Junk City to the sweltering fire-pits of Planet Heck (home of the aptly-named Evil the Cat) to Level 5, the lair of the evil Mad Scientist who invented Jim's super-suit, Professor Monkey-for-a-Head. All the while, Jim is pursued by Psy-Crow, Queen Slug-for-a-Butt's right-hand man who is intent on getting the suit back.

True to Playmates' intentions of turning the series into a multimedia sensation, the series also spawned a cult-classic animated adaptation, a short-lived (3 issues) comicbook mini-series by Marvel, and a line of action figures to match, all of which fared significantly better than similar attempts such as Battletoads, Bubsy, or Cheetahmen.

In the sequel, Jim must traverse the galaxy again, this time to save Princess What's-Her-Name from a Shotgun Wedding to Psy-Crow. Jim's travels take him through the summer homes of many villains from the previous games, with such exotic locales as collapsing underground tunnels, intestines (while wearing a cave salamander costume), a carnival run by Evil the Cat, and a planet made up entirely of paperwork.

The third game, Earthworm Jim 3D for the Nintendo 64 and PC, had Jim taking a Journey to the Center of the Mind after one too many falling cows to the head. A Game Boy Color title, Menace 2 The Galaxy, was also released. Also, he appeared as Guest Fighter in the PC version of Battle Arena Toshinden (as Secret Character) and the ClayFighter games for Nintendo 64 (63⅓ and Sculptor's Cut).

In 2010, a remake of the original game, Earthworm Jim HD, finally made its way to the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live with enhanced graphics, sound, 4 player co-op, new levels and the option of the original Nintendo Hard difficulty for the purists (but oddly missing the secret "Who Turned Out The Lights?" level). Sadly, this version was delisted from all services in February 2018.

In 2008, a fourth installment was claimed to be in the works by Interplay, though franchise creator Doug TenNapel would later state that this was just talk, and nothing ever entered production due to various financial issues. In 2019, Tommy Tallarico announced that a brand new entry in the series would be developed by ten members of the original EWJ team to be released exclusively for the Intellivision Amico, with TenNapel volunteering as a creative consultant. While the game would quietly be cancelled (with many questioning if it actually entered production) once it became clear that the Amico would be nothing but vapourware, TenNapel himself would release two graphic novels for the series — Earthworm Jim: Launch the Cow (2019) and Earthworm Jim: Fight the Fish (2021) — exclusively through Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns. The campaign for Launch the Cow broke the record for the highest-funded comic book on the site at the time with over $700,000US.

In late 2021, Interplay Entertainment Corp. announced that a second animated series, Earthworm Jim: Beyond the Groovy, was in development.

This game is the Trope Namer for:

  • Planet Heck: The second level. Home of Evil the Cat, lawyers, and elevator music.
  • Level Ate: From Earthworm Jim 2. It's made of burgers, bacon, cheese, fried eggs, and other delightfully fatty foods. Also, it's the 8th level. The "Happiness" world in 3D also qualifies, as it's completely themed around fast food.

This series features examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Collecting all golden udders and 100 marbles in every level counts for this in Earthworm Jim 3D.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Cheap Chaps-Chopping Chips. Say that five times fast.
  • Aliens Steal Cattle: In the level "Udderly abducted" from EWJ2, Jim must carry several cows to a stable, but sometimes a flying saucer with an udder will attempt to abduct the cows from him.
  • Amoral Attorney: One of the more common enemies on Planet Heck are, naturally, evil attorneys that can block your shots with their briefcase. The key to beating them is to whip them, causing them to fling the briefcase up in shock, and then attack them whilst they're vulnerable. Or just use the super-shot to blast clean through briefcase and lawyer in one go.
  • Animal Jingoism: Psy-Crow is the nemesis of Earthworm Jim. Three guesses as to what birds do to worms in real life.
  • Animate Body Parts: The penultimate boss in the original Sega Genesis version of the first game is Doc Duodenum, a sentient digestive organ the size of a man with arms, legs, a mouth and "eyes" who got bored of his original host-body and abandoned them to set up a new home in the level "Intestinal Distress". Unfortunately, he was cut from all Nintendo adaptations of the first game, as their censors thought he was too realistic/disgusting for their audience. It wasn't until the Updated Re Release that he finally returned to the limelight.
  • Anthropomorphic Food: In Level Ate, you get to fight a fire-breathing steak. Named Flamin' Yawn.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If the player ever runs out of ammo for the regular blaster, its shots will slowly increase back up to 100.
    • The Bomb escort mission in the sequel, should the balloon bomb explode before the boss, there are quick travel jets at regular intervals on both sides of the screen, one going forward and one going backwards. note 
  • Anvil on Head: In the second game, Jim throws an anvil onto a rudimentary plank-on-stone seesaw to vault himself onto the next level. Sometimes, his aim is a little off and the anvil lands back on him and sometimes it just breaks the plank without moving him an inch, at which point he chooses to hail a passing taxi instead.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: The final boss of Earthworm Jim 3D, who evidently represents Jim's subconscious desire to be a woman.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Peter Puppy is an adorable little dog who morphs into a grotesque monster whenever he is enraged.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: The "Fear" brain in the third game is, appropriately enough, set up as a haunted house full of ghosts and ghouls.
  • Black Comedy: In the PC version of the third game, the menu option to quit out is "I want to end it all."
  • Bleak Level: "The Villi People." It's set to "Moonlight Sonata," with very few real threats besides running into the walls, and the level feels dramatically empty.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: The reward for 100% Completion in 3D is Earthworm Kim mode. Aside from ramping up the difficulty a bit and pulling a role reversal on the final boss, it's completely identical to the regular game mode and doesn't even provide any reward for 100 percent completing it.
  • Bottle Episode: The first game's secret level, "Who Turned Out the Lights?", is an entire level that the player may never stumble upon. How could the time and effort needed to make such a level be justifiable? Easy. It consists of the player running around in the dark with the only new graphics being spotlights, a silhouetted Jim, menacing orange enemy eyes, superimposed regular and AWOO-GA eyes for Jim, and giant menacing orange eyes. The level's music didn't even need composing, as it's the public domain Maple Leaf Rag. The level is fun and interesting and even has items hidden in hard-to-reach sections.
  • Bottomless Magazines: If the player drops below a certain amount of ammunition (100 bullets) for Jim's default blaster, it will slowly replenish itself until it hits that number again once Jim stops firing. Which is good, since running out would spell disaster when dealing with Peter Puppy (who stops and ducks when he's shot at) or Evil Queen Slug-For-A-Butt (who just takes a lot of hits).
  • Bottomless Pits: Earthworm Jim: Menace 2 the Galaxy has one in the laboratory level. The implementation is egregious because a power-up on that level lets you fly up the same pit, and it doesn't trigger if you're on the other side of a one-way-wall on the side of the pit. Flying down said pit stops you against an invisible floor, has the floors below the pit visible, and is lethal until you exit the pit. To properly go down, find the non-bottomless pit on the same floor.
  • Brick Joke: In the first level, Jim catapults a cow into outer space. This becomes relevant in the last level, when the cow lands on Princess What's-Her-Name, crushing her just before Jim can save her.
  • But Thou Must!: You have to launch the cow into orbit on the first level.
  • Call-Back: Like so many things in these games, done in the most Rule of Funny way possible: The manual to the Super Nintendo version of the first game says the X button "Opens and closes the garage door of Mrs. Schultz in Germany, so don't mess with it!" One of the quiz show questions in 2 asks where Mrs. Schultz lives.
  • Canon Immigrant: Snot was created in the animated adaptation, but showed up in 2. However, some sources assert that the cartoon version of Snot was actually adapted from an unseen NPC in the first game who created the platforms on which Jim fights the Queen.
  • Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: Ray Gun, Heroic Build, Large Ham... Jim's one of those, all right.
  • Cats Are Mean:
    • Evil the Cat. He is in the words of the creators "the manifestation of evil in its truest form (the cat)."
    • Number 4, Bob's invincible (unless you have a mega shot) and very mean hench-cat.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: The second part of Evil the Cat's battle in the first game. Every time you shoot Evil, he turns into a numbered angel who flies upwards. You win the battle after shooting him nine times.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: The ultra-high-tech-indestructible-super-space-cyber-suit turns an ordinary earthworm into a Super-Soldier.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: In one of Jim's idle animations, his pants will fall down. It's probably best not to ask why a mech suit has heart-print boxers.
  • Conspicuous Electric Obstacle: In one of the levels, there are giant electrodes with electricity running between them.
  • Denser and Wackier: Somehow. The first game is already out there, but at least it resembles a somewhat consistent Platform Game with weird, innovative twists to your typical videogame settings. The sequel, however, employs so much randomness with its constant Unexpected Gameplay Changes and completely nonsensical level settings that one can be left wondering if they're even playing a platformer (instead of a parody of one) to begin with.
  • Disco Sucks: "Death a Worm" from 3D, has a graveyard stage where the skeleton of a former disco star lays.
  • Down in the Dumps: New Junk City, the first level of the first game, is a giant junk heap complete with guard dogs and a construction worker boss.
  • Down the Drain: The level "Down the Tubes" is set in the subaquatic base of Bob the Killer Goldfish, and consists of Jim wandering through air-filled underwater caves and structures connected by large transparent glass tubing. In fact, there are actually several distinct bases, forcing Jim to use a slow, clumsy, and very fragile bathysphere to cross the distances between them.
  • Downer Ending: Played for laughs in the first game. The cow you launched two minutes into the game ends up landing on Princess Whats-Her-Name during the closing cutscene. It's not a total loss for Jim, though, since he at least pops back into frame to swipe her crown.
  • Drop the Cow: Random outbursts of silliness are a distinct characteristic of the series. A literal example comes at the end of the first game, when the cow you launched off of a seesaw way back in the first level comes randomly crashing down on top of Princess Whats-Her-Name.
  • Easter Egg: In the SNES version of the second game, you can push various buttons to make the cows at the end of the level say "Well done." in different pitches.
  • Easy Level Trick:
    • Downplayed. In the "What the Heck?" level, there's a section where Evil the Cat throws a bomb, causing stalactites from the ceiling to start raining down on Jim for a little while. However, if you intentionally miss the Ultra Atom at the start of this section, the event flag for the bomb won't trigger, and you can continue through the level uninterrupted. Even the official strategy guide recommends you do this. But this only skips obstacles in one section of the level, not the entire thing.
      From the strategy guide: SUPER SECRET TRICK: If Jim jumps over [the Ultra Atom] without collecting it, the stalactite bomb will be defused, and life for this worm will be a lot easier.
    • The final level of 2 is "See Jim Run, Run Jim Run" which is a race against Psycrow. If you've still got the Barn Blaster from the first level, you can use it to take out Psycrow in the opening scene, eliminating him from the race and letting you complete the level at your leisure. The challenge is making it all the way to that level with the Barn Blaster, as dying even once resents your arsenal back to normal.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: In talkie versions, instead of the ending you get a lecture about worms from Jim himself. You get the full ending on normal difficulty and a very uplifting speech if you finish on hard.
  • Escort Mission:
    • "For Pete's Sake," although the puppy you're escorting ALSO happens to be the biggest threat of the level. Several levels in the sequel task Jim to use a giant marshmallow to save Petey's children from being thrown out the window. It's roughly 357% less aggravating than the first game's Petey level.
    • Earthworm Jim 2 also contains "The Flyin' King," a level in Isometric Projection where Jim flies his handy Pocket Rocket through the hazardous skies to the boss. In order to beat the level, you have to gently bump a fragile and highly explosive balloon to the very end. If it ruptures before meeting the boss, you have to go back to the beginning to try again.
    • 3D has one in "Are You Hungry Tonite?" with an Elvis Presley Expy. This one is most akin to "For Pete's Sake", albeit much simpler and easier.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: Granny Bag from Earthworm Jim 2 is always accompanied by the sound of bagpipe music.
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: You can find nigh-invincible lawyers as enemies in the first game's "What the Heck," which is the Fire and Brimstone Hell.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
    • In the PAL versions, "The Villi People" level was called, "Jim's now a Blind Cave Salamander!"
    • In the first game, the fifth level is called... Level 5. Also, in the second game, the eight level, Level Ate, doubles as both this and a Stealth Pun.
  • Expy: In the HD remake, one of the new bosses is an obvious expy of Keyboard Cat.
  • Fartillery: Albeit used for mobility rather than weaponry, but a power-up in 3D sends Jim rocketing in the air by farting a few seconds after picking it up.
  • Foreshadowing: One of the questions Jim receives in "The Villi People" is "If Jim wasn't an earthworm, what would he be?" The correct answer is "a cow." The ending reveals that the Jim being controlled by the player was a cow in disguise the whole time.
  • Flame Spewer Obstacle: In What The Heck? there are locations where flames are regularly shot out. Shape of the flames can vary though.
  • Free-Fall Fight: Happens in Level 5 during the second half of the boss fight against Professor-Monkey-For-A-Head's robotic chicken.
  • Funny Background Event: In the higher-end versions of the first game, the cow can be seen periodically going by in the background in later levels.
  • Gainax Ending:
    • In the first game, Jim finds Princess What's-Her-Name, and it's Love at First Sight. And then the cow Jim sent flying in the first level falls on her. And Jim steals her crown.
    • In the second game, Jim, Psy-Crow and Princess What's-Her-Name turn out to be cows in disguise.
      And so, having defeated the nefarious COW, our hero, THE COW, wins back the heart of the lovely COW
  • Gasshole: The boss of New Junk City arguably; it's not easy to be sure whether he's belching out or throwing up when he hocks dead fish at you. Given the artwork from the manual depicts him with a beard-like smear of vomit down his chest, he's probably vomiting the fish at you.
  • Gender Flip: The final boss, Earthworm Kim, from Earthworm Jim 3D. You can even unlock her if you reach 100% Completion.
  • Good Princess, Evil Queen: Both the game and the cartoon contrast the heroic Princess Whats-Her-Name (the beautiful-by-human-standards love interest) with her malevolent and tyrannical older sister Queen Slug-for-a-Butt.
  • Gratuitous Disco Sequence: "Boogie Nights of the Living Dead" from Earthworm Jim 3D. Also, Billy the Bin's theme from the HD remake of the first game.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Jim uses his own head as a whip.
  • Grossout Show: The Title Scream is belched, rather than actually screamed. Let this set the tone for the rest of the game.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Jim after being bitten in half by the snot monster from "Snot a Problem" or the giant pincer worms from "Buttville." He also screams in pain as his body halves fall off the bottom of the screen.
  • Heart Beats out of Chest: This happens to the titular character as he is about to kiss Princess What's-Her-Name.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Combined with "Psycho" Strings to make the music for "Intestinal Distress."
  • Hellevator: There may not be an elevator seen in Heck, but its infernal music is heard all too well, accompanied with the never-ending stock screams of despair, making the whole planet an unspeakable horror to descent to.
  • Hitbox Dissonance:
    • Throughout many levels, many walls and ledges... aren't. Leading sometimes to some frustratingly cheap deaths, but also used to hide secret paths. Especially obvious in the final level.
    • 3D is especially bad about this, with the game not exactly doing well on registering if you've touched a ledge to grab onto or not. Especially infuriating considering some of the gaps you need to cross are very unforgiving.
  • Idle Animation: The first two games are standout examples of this trope, but in terms of quantity as well as quality, these were done comically. In the first game alone, Jim will do things like jump rope with his head, flex his muscles, or fail to practice trigger discipline.
  • In Case of Boss Fight, Break Glass: Inverted. At one part of "Down the Tubes" you have to carefully guide an underwater vehicle around. More cracks appear in the glass every time you hit a wall. Oh, and there's a time limit.
  • Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat: In Earthworm Jim 2, there's a sandwich pickup called a Chip Butty that restores 200% health... even if it's been buried underground.
  • Insect Queen: From the game and its respective cartoon, there is Queen Pulsating Bloated Festering Sweaty Pus-Filled Malformed Slug-for-a-Butt, who's a queen termite with a very squicky self-explanatory name (and whose aforementioned butt makes up about 90% of her body).
  • Interesting Situation Duel: The boss fight against Major Mucus involves him and Jim bungee-jumping and trying to ram each other into the wall.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: Two of his idle animations are to twirl his blaster on his finger, throw it in the air, catch it and holster it. The aversion is done successfully, with no harm done. In the second (straight) version, he catches it wrong, and it blasts him in the face. (Unfortunately, his head does not asplode.) A third idle animation splits the difference — after Jim tosses the gun in the air, it lands on his head, but doesn't go off.
  • The Klutz: Earthworm Jim has these in some of his Idle Animations whenever he is literally standing still.
  • Landfill Beyond the Stars: Subverted with New Junk City, which appears to fit the trope, but research on the game reveals that the level is a city-sized landfill in Texas, of all places.
  • Lethal L Ava Land: What The Heck? level is lava-themed.
  • Logo Joke: Earthworm Jim 2 and 3D are notable for having their logo jokes actually be part of the plot:
    • 2 has Earthworm Jim playing the accordion to one side of the logo while Princess What's-Her-Name sits on the other side, before Psy-Crow pops out from behind, pokes Jim's shoulder, then kidnaps the princess while he's distracted. This interestingly makes it one of the few games on the Super Nintendo, GBA, and even DOS to have such a joke.
    • 3D, at least on the N64, has Jim's Journey to the Center of the Mind kicked off when he's playing an accordion before being squashed by the N64 logo and then a cow, which sends him to the hospital.
  • Mad Scientist: The inventor of Jim's suit, Professor Monkey-For-A-Head.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: A tiny cat mook will do this to Jim if he approaches it. Then again, it's a really fast way to skip parts of the level if you have enough energy to endure it.
  • More Dakka: Jim's gun, despite being a tiny little retro-futuristic pistol, is capable of pouring out energy blasts with incredible speed. In the second game, one of the optional guns is a three-fingered hand-gun, which blasts machine-gun like fire in three directions simultaneously.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The super suit is indestructible. The worm inside it? Not so much. Running out of health results in Jim getting vaporized by a power surge from inside the suit (or ejected out at terminal velocity in the second game), leaving the indestructible suit behind.
  • No Fair Cheating: While using the debug code in the first to skip to a further level WOULD take you there, once you completed the level, nine times out of ten you were sent back to "What the Heck?" and made to finish the game properly. This even included the final level, Buttville. Since it's a debug mode, you're essentially choosing a replacement for Level 1, rather than being intentionally punished for cheating. It still feels like a punishment, though, since you are literally sent to Hell for playing dirty. The second game's debug mode had a more typical level select feature.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Professor Monkey-For-A-Head originally invented Jim's suit, so why doesn't he just make another one? Whether this trope is played straight or not depends on the continuity:
    • In the games, the monkey ate the plans after the prototype suit (what Jim wears) was made; the Professor is after Jim to get the prototype so he can make a new one via reverse engineering. This also applies in the 1995 comic mini-series.
    • In the cartoon, he can make a new one just fine. The problem is the suit's incredible power comes from being fueled by a Battery of the Gods, and the Professor was only ever able to get his hands on one of them. Since the gods violently turned him away when he went to ask for a replacement, he's settled on just trying to get the original back.
  • Papa Wolf: The "Puppy Love" levels in the second game involve trying to save Peter Puppy's kids, using a giant marshmallow, when Psy-Crow tries to throw them out a window. If enough get killed depending on the difficulty, Peter rips Jim apart. Why he doesn't rip Psy-Crow apart is left nebulous.
  • Poison Mushroom: The Bubble Gun in the second game, which only shot soap bubbles. Although not directly harmful, it was intentionally useless and meant to inconvenience the player. Worse in the Genesis version, which didn't allow for weapon swapping, especially in the final level where you needed a useful weapon to clear obstacles before time ran out, and using up the ammo took valuable time you didn't have. (That said, it has one purpose: It actually distracts the alien things. If there are a few of them attacking you and you shoot, they just fly around the bubbles until you run out.
  • Pop Quiz: Spoofed in 2, where the quiz halfway through "Villi People" features ridiculous joke questions like "If cigarettes cause cancer, what causes Capricorn? A) Poor-fitting shoes in southern France B) Dental Floss C) One and one half pounds of butter."
  • Portal Endpoint Resemblance: While the Hub Level of Earthworm Jim 3D takes place inside Jim's damaged worm brain(s), the level entrance gates all feature environmental elements of the level in question. They're also accompanied by a giant meditating cow wearing appropriate headgear to the level's theme.
  • Powered Armor: Jim's Ultra-High-Tech-Indestructible-Super-Space-Cyber-Suit. Unfortunately, while it is technically "indestructible," its occupant is not, and running out of atomic energy will cause it to forcibly eject and/or explode whoever is inside it.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack:
    • What the Heck starts with music based off Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain", but stops abruptly with a Record Needle Scratch and switches to a different melody soon afterward.
    • The secret level "Who Turned Out the Lights?" uses Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag."
    • Part II uses this a lot, really. Both the melancholy first movement and the frenetic third movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" appear, and both are strangely appropriate for the stages they play in.
    • The "Puppy Love" stages in 2 use the traditional Italian folk music "Tarantella Napolitana" and then swings directly into "Funiculi, Funicula," just for the hell of it.
    • "Udderly Abducted" uses "El Tango del Choclo."
    • "Inflated Head" uses a Medley of "Lichtensteiner Polka" and "Clarinet Polka.".
  • Pun: Just one example: the boss of Level Ate is a fire-breathing steak named Flamin' Yawn.
  • Punny Name:
    • The levels "New Junk City" and "Lorenzen's Soil" from the first and second game are named after two films, New Jack City and Lorenzo's Oil.note 
    • Psy-Crow, Flamin' Yawn, and Level Ate.
  • Puzzle Boss: "Door Chase" in the second game, which features a door with legs that runs away from Jim endlessly until you figure out how to stop it. The solution? Pick up the armoire at the left, put it in the door's way; the door will trip over it, and you can then enter.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: Queen Slug-For-A-Butt is not the hardest Final Boss there is, but she can still be a threat by attacking you with her mystical scepter or her, well, slug-for-a-butt. Her bug minions. on the other hand, are weak and rely on swarms.
  • Reduced to Dust: In the games, when you lose a life, the Powered Armor implodes and usually Jim is turned to dust.
  • Sampling: The "Hey!" at the end of the "Andy Asteroids Win" music comes from The Terminator. It was replaced in re-releases probably due to copyright.
  • Satiating Sandwich: The coveted Chip Butty in EWJ 2 can increase Jim's health up to 200%. The sandwich is presumably a chip buttynote  because the names of other sandwiches aren't as much fun to say.
  • Save the Princess: Parodied with Princess What's-Her-Name. You don't succeed at saving her in either game, and in the cartoons, she's a badass Action Girl.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • Parodied in the manual for the SNES version - it claimed that the X button "turns on the porch light of Mrs. Schultz in Germany. So quit pressing it!" So naturally, what did everyone who read the manual do? Press the button. And of course, it does nothing at all.
    • Done again in the manual for 2, where the D-Pad "withdraws all moneys from your bank account and transfers them to Shiny Entertainment. It also makes Jim move."
    • The manual of the Genesis version of 2 says that the B-button "orders a large pepperoni pizza" in "The Flyin' King". Again, it does nothing.
  • Screen Crunch: The GBA port suffers from the same "sprites are too large" issue as Sonic Genesis and Rayman's port, which resulted in several unintended traps when trying to jump over pits. The sequel's port was no better.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Both the first and the second game tell the story of Jim undertaking a heroic adventure... only to make it all pointless right at the finale. Both times, however, it's played for comedy.
  • Shark Tunnel: Large portions of the original game level "Down the Tubes" are transparent glass tunnels that pass for substantial distances completely underwater, interlinking air-filled natural caves and artificial rooms.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the trailer for the HD remake, one of the new levels shows features a Cool Shades-wearing Musical Assassin cat playing a keyboard. This is a reference to the Keyboard Cat.
    • One of Jim's voice samples in the Special Edition is "I'm a rocket maaan!", referencing Elton John's song.
    • Jim's reaction to Princess What's-Her-Name in the first game's ending is a big one to Red Hot Riding Hood, more so in the Special Edition which adds and extended animation.
    • The "cow launch" gag at the start of the first game is nicked straight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which also features a cow being launched into the air.
    • The Windows version has referential cheat codes, including the level unlock code GetTheCheeseToSickBay
  • Skippable Boss:
    • In the earlier versions of the game, one could skip Billy the Bin in New Junk City by finding a teleporter in the form of a toilet.
    • Rusty the Snowman can be skipped by finding the appropriate hook to swing under one of the platforms to skip an entire level in What the Heck? if you can spot it.
    • You'll only ever fight Psycrow in the first game if you lose one of the Andy Asteroids races at the end of each level. He gets progressively harder as the game goes on with faster attack speeds and more health, but he'll eventually get discouraged and pack it in each time.
  • Smooch of Victory: Princess What's-Her-Name offers Jim one of these at the end of the first game... Unfortunately the cow you launched at the very beginning of the game picks that exact moment to land on her.
  • Snake Whip: Jim creates a worm version of this when he uses himself as a whip to attack or grab the ceiling to move by having his supersuit grabs his body and fling it like a whip.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • "What The Heck?" starts with a snippet from Mussorgsky's "Night on the Bald Mountain", then, following a Record Needle Scratch, switches to elevator music backed by screams of pain.
    • Andy Asteroids is a fast-paced race through an asteroid field set to banjo music.
    • Thanks to the differences between the sound chips, the SNES version invokes this if you're more familiar with the Genesis version, and vice versa. For example, on the Genesis, New Junk City has a very dirty, gritty feel, while on the SNES, it's more mysterious-sounding.
    • In the PS1 version of Earthworm Jim 2, ISO 9000 (the dull, dreary level made entirely out of paperwork and office supplies) inexplicably uses the bagpipe-heavy, stereotypically Scottish "Granny Chair" theme. In other versions of the game the level's theme is the more fitting "Subterranean".
    • In one of the more bizarre choices, the "Memory" world in 3D, mostly themed like a war zone, makes use of heavy rock and roll. This one can't even be justified by Rule of Funny because it doesn't have much comedic justification to be there.
  • Spikes of Doom: There are plenty of dangerous spike-filled pits everywhere in the game, but Buttville: The Descent consists entirely of Jim descending in freefall down a long, spike-lined branching pit, trying to reach the end without being skewered on the walls.
  • Stat Overflow: 2 has the Chip Butty sandwich, which raises your health all the way to 200%.
  • Stealth Pun: One miniboss in "What the Heck?" is a fire-breathing demonic snowman, a reference to the phrase "a snowball's chance in hell".
  • Stock Scream: Many stock screams are heard in "What the Heck?" Over elevator music, no less.
  • Take That!:
    • One of the quiz questions in the second game is "These walk down stairs, alone or in pairs". The answer is "Toys that were metal but are now plastic and not nearly as cool as they used to be".
    • Doug Tennapel, a self-professed Creationist (believer in Intelligent Design), has said that the Professor Monkey-For-A-Head character was created as a dig at some of his Darwinist teachers.
    • In Special Edition, one of the unlockable masks is "Worm Kong", which resembles Donkey Kong with an arrow through his head, a deliberate jab at Donkey Kong Country for outselling the original game in retail sales.note 
  • Title Scream: The first game has its own unique spin on the iconic "a voice actor shouts the name of the game when the title flashes on screen" gimmick: when the words "Earthworm Jim" arrive on screen, a voice actor belches them aloud.
  • Tube Travel: The second game had this in the ISO 9000 level, though it looked painful (the entrance was a grinder).
  • Tuckerization: The "Andy Asteroids?" segments from the first game are named after the game's programmer, Andy Astor, and the Big Bruty in the Special Edition is named after the art director, Nick Bruty.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: 2 has so much of it that... Let's say, after swimming in a salamander suit, taking part in a quiz show, bouncing puppies, bouncing explosive balloons, flying on a bloated head and carrying hamster cages around such unexpected gameplay changes are generally to be expected, at least since level four. That's while also making much of your collectible ammunition useless most of the time. Then the game throws you a curveball by making Level Ate play like a more-or-less linear level with all your guns intact, and with the hot kitchen stoves being its only gimmick. To top it, even the steak boss fight is a traditional "shoot him till he drops" affair. Now, after all the adventures you've had before, this is quite unexpected.
  • Visual Pun:
    • The first game's loading screen in between levels shows Jim loading boxes into a truck.
    • The homing missiles in the second game are shaped like houses.
    • In 3D, the marble Collection Sidequest is a visual pun on the phrase "lost your marbles".
  • Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: Happens each time you shoot Evil the Cat in his battle from the first game.
  • Womb Level: "Intestinal Distress" in the first game, and "The Villi People" in the second, are both themed as voyages through the internal organs/digestive tract of some impossibly massive organism. For added connection, lore in the second game's manual states that the level "The Villi People" is actually take place in the summer home of Doc Duodenum, the Animate Body Parts boss of "Intestinal Distress" from the first game. Ironically, the Nintendo versions of the games cut "Intestinal Distress", but not "The Villi People".
  • Writing Around Trademarks:
    • The "Puppy Love" levels in 2 are a carbon copy of the Game & Watch game Fire.
    • In the Evercade release of the second game’s Super Nintendo version, due to Nintendo not being involved, the opening logo scene where Earthworm Jim and other characters are leaning on or hiding behind the sparkling Nintendo logo now has them still leaning on and hiding behind a shadowy, sparkling space with the same general shape.
  • Zero-Effort Boss: Bob the Killer Goldfish in the first two games. The first game's "fight" with Bob ends when Jim does anything at all against Bob, even bump into him. The second game appears to be a much more dramatic affair, revealing Bob behind a few barriers, with the word "FIGHT" appearing on the screen... at which point Jim just reaches into Bob's bowl and eats him.