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Web Animation / Cheat Commandos

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Cheat Commandos... Rock, rock on!

Cheat Commandos, maybe fighting for freedom
And each is sold separately
Cheat Commandos, they're probably battling evil
Buy all our playsets and toys!

What started out as a spin-off of Strong Bad telling The Cheat that "Firebert is not a good Commando name" evolved over time into a sub-series (of sorts) on Homestar Runner.

Cheat Commandos follows the misadventures of a group of mercenaries as they try to protect the world from the evil Blue Laser, though they also sometimes hang out with its leader. The series is a spoof of Merchandise-Driven shows from the 1980s, with G.I. Joe being the most obvious inspiration.

This series contains examples of:

  • Adjacent to This Complete Breakfast: Parodied in the "Cheat Commandos...Os" commercial, where the titular sugar cereal is shown to be "part of this complete delicious breakfast," which consists of a slice of chocolate cake, a mug of marshmallows, a cup of caramel cubes, and a footnote saying "Gallon of Ice Cream not pictured." The narrator suggests you should take some vitamins too. The whole scene is labeled as a "Delicious Nutritious Breakfast" with "nutritious" crossed out.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Dryghost, one of the Toppelgangers, got the Cheat Commandos headquarters playset for his Bar Mitzvah.
  • Angry Fist-Shake: Gunhaver does this during his Skyward Scream.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: The crew play with a new bulletproof vest they got by shooting each other with Gunhaver's gun. Later Admiral Flashfight is apparently killed because everyone thought he was wearing the vest.
  • Atrocious Alias: Firebert.
    Gunhaver: Firebert, you stay here and think of a better commando name!
    • Silent Rip's codename is called out by Flashfight.
  • Bad Boss: Blue Laser Commander. Aside from generally being abrasive and shouty, he once stuck a fork in a minion's eye just so he could tell them apart.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": In "Comamndos In the Classroom", one of the "pro-positive life tools" Gunhaver gives to Reynold is to "envision [his] inapprorpriate-ors as giant slices of pizza". In an Easter egg at the end, Blue Laser Commander says this to some Blue Laser foot soldiers who are dressed up like pizza slices:
    One foot soldier: Um, I'm not entirely sure this is what they were talking about, sir.
    Blue Laser Commander: SHUT IT! Pizza can't talk!
  • Buffy Speak: In "Shopping for Danger", when the Cheat Commandos don't let him come with them on their mission, Reynold gripes, "I never get to go on any missions. I would be a good mission... guy."
  • Butt-Monkey: Reynold, the bespectacled nerdy contractor, gets absolutely no respect from the commandos; this gets deconstructed when Reynold ult ends up siding with Blue Laser. Also Firebert, who is asked to come up with a better commando name before getting involved with any missions.
  • Canon Immigrant: Agent Chimendez claims to be an Expanded Universe character. "Novelizations, read-along story books... Things like that."
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Weirdly inverted with Reynold. The other Commandos will treat him like absolute garbage for pretty much any reason they can think of and typically use him as their scapegoat when things go wrong, but any time he's actually the one responsible for a screw-up, the others will usually let him off or misinterpret it as an act of courage and commend him for it.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Blue Laser.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Agent Chimendez, who overthrew Gunhaver at the end of "The Next Epi-Snowed". Come the Easter Egg in "Pistols for Pandas" and Gunhaver is leader again, with Agent Chimendez never mentioned again after that.
  • Creepy High-Pitched Voice: The leader of Blue Laser speaks in incredibly shrill, high-pitched screeches.
  • Crossover:
    • Firebert teams up with Dangeresque in "Dangeresque: Puppet Squad: The Hot Jones Hijack", being played by the puppet version of The Cheat. The rest appear played by Kick-The-Cheat plushies in costume at the end party.
    • There was also a crossover between this and Teen Girl Squad: Issue 7, which features the girls as babies taken care of by Mrs. Commanderson, has an Easter egg showing Mrs. Commanderson with Gunhaver and Fightgar, both drawn in the TGS style.
      Singers: (singing to the Cheat Commandos theme) Mrs. Commanderson, she's some kind of bird-reptile, and she teaches Pre-K!
    • In "Cheat Commandos-Os", the narrator suggests eating the cereal with Fluffy Puff Marshmallows. This prompts the arrival of Marshie, the Fluffy Puff mascot, drawn in the Cheat Commandos style.
      Marshie: Sarg-g-eant Marshie reporting for duty, sir! [makes creepy faces at Gunhaver]
      Gunhaver: Would someone get this flying cotton ball out of my face?!
  • Dating Catwoman: In "The Next Epi-Snowed!", Gunhaver is suddenly dating New Bad Guy Girl Character—voiced by Crack Stuntman's actual girlfriend.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Firebert is the main Commando featured in "Dangeresque: Puppet Squad - the Hot Jones Hi-Jack!"
    • The Blue Laser Commander gets his own Interactive Movie in Blue Laserdisc Challenge.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Blue Laser Commander has this reaction in "Blue Laserdisc Challenge" when, on the run from the Cheat Commandos, he finds some huge blades in his path swinging back and forth, pendulum-style.
    "Why did I put so many booby traps in my own summer getaway?!"
  • Ecocidal Antagonist: In the first Cheat Commandos short, the villainous Blue Lasers are plotting to "blow up the ocean!" (But chalk this up as Early-Installment Weirdness. In every subsequent episode, Blue Laser's schemes are either hilariously minor or target the Cheat Commandos specifically.)
  • Extreme Omnivore: Limited-Edition Firebert will eat anything with nutmeg on it, even holiday decoration lights.
  • Face–Heel Turn: In the second part of "2-Part Episode", the Blue Laser Commander takes advantage of Reynold's dissatisfaction with the Cheat Commandos to recruit him as a new Blue Laser agent, named "Scrawnjob". In this role, Reynold is given credit for Blue Laser's diabolical plot to drive up the price of skee-ball prizes as a way to make kids become part of criminal groups.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Played with. The two factions use laser weapons and play this trope straight (Blue Laser's name even deriving from it), but Gunhaver carries a real pistol, apparently his special skill on the team. See Artistic License – Gun Safety above.
  • Fighting Clown: Fudgeclank of the Topplegangers is a literal example.
  • Foreshadowing: The portion of the cartoon shown in "An Important Rap Song" gives us a taste of how Crack Stuntman acts during the show's production, which is further explored in "The Next Epi-Snowed!".
    Gunhaver: Cheat Commandos... riggidy-roll!
    (the other Commandos become confused)
    Silent Rip: Uh... that's not what we usually say-
    Gunhaver: invoked Yeah, whatever, it's riggidy-roll from now on.
  • Franken-vehicle: Parodied in "Two Part Episode!, Part 2", where the mercenary counterpart to the Cheat Commandos, the Topplegangers, have a giant boat-like vehicle known as the "Ramshankle" (the name itself being a take-off on "Ramshackle"), further parodying the commercialistic nature of the show:
    Background Singers: It's the Ramshankle! And you know dang well... It's made out of old vehicles that we couldn't sell!
  • Friendly Enemy: Blue Laser is on pretty good terms with the Cheat Commandos despite being mortal enemies, and had been known to hang out with them for fun.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Blue Laser is more than happy to invite the Commandos over for Thanksgiving.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The Cheat Commandos are the main protagonists, but most of them, most often Gunhaver, mistreat the lesser sidekicks such as Reynold and the Green Helmets
  • Handbag of Hurt: A lineup of accessories shows that Foxface's weapon is a bulletproof handbag.
  • Harmless Villain: A close inspection of Blue Laser's actual plans shows that after whatever went down in "Operation Ocean Blow" ("WE'LL BLOW UP THE OCEAN!!", incidentally inspired by the actual G.I. Joe episode "There's No Place Like Springfield"), their plans are 1. mostly aimed at the Cheat Commandos personally, not anybody else, and 2. moreover, mostly are barely even trying.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: The Topplegangers are sometimes good guys, sometimes bad guys.
  • Lost in Character: "The Next Epi-Snowed!" goes Off the Rails as Crack Stuntman loses all sense of separation between his real self and the character Gunhaver. Though instead of invokedMethod Acting, he keeps insisting that details from his life should also apply to his character. To end the madness, the director traps Stuntman in a cardboard box... by writing himself into the show and asking Gunhaver to climb into a cardboard box.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: In "Let Us Give TANKS", Blue Laser Commander jabs a fork in one minion's eye. The minion is remarkably calm about it. When everyone shares what they're thankful for, the minion says, "I'm... thankful for this fork in my eye."
  • Merchandise-Driven: The series is a spoof of merchandise-driven cartoons that were frequently made during the 80s. It doesn't get much more blatant than the series' tagline being "Buy All Our Playsets and Toys!".
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Reynold is typically seen receiving unfavourable treatment from the Cheat Commandos. After listening to Reynold's experiences, Blue Laser invites him to become a Blue Laser agent under the name "Scrawnjob"... and Reynold accepts.
  • No Fourth Wall: Very common, as they continuously reinforce that they are Merchandise-Driven.
    • Common examples include referring to locations as playsets and talking about how certain characters are limited edition.
    • As seen in a commentary on fan costumes, in which one man is dressed as the "voice" of Gunhaver, Crack Stuntman, Strong Bad describes him as "the voice of this cartoon man in this cartoon show" and who does "the voice of this other cartoon man inside the cartoon man show".
  • Nominal Hero: The only heroic thing the Cheat Commandos ever do is try to stop Blue Laser, and conversely, basically the only villainous thing Blue Laser does is try to stop the Cheat Commandos. At one point, Flashfight takes over the team and starts sending them out on actually useful and heroic missions (rescuing hostages, airdropping supplies, building orphanages), to which Gunhaver reacts with confused disgust.
  • Non-Action Guy: Reynold. They never let him forget it either.
  • Not So Above It All: While Flashfight is normally The Comically Serious and Only Sane Man, for some reason he thinks that the name Firebert is "an exquisite Commando name."
  • Now, Buy the Merchandise: Parodied; the Cheat Commandos theme song literally ends with the line "Buy all our playsets and toys!"
  • The Other Darrin: In-Universe Example. Gunhaver's voice actor, Crack Stuntman, is temporarily fired due to "contractual mumbo-jumbo". Crack also tries to take over the role of Crackotage at one point. This results in a scene where Reynold mentions that Gunhaver's voice might change after he returns from his mission on the moon for an indeterminate amount of time.
  • Only Sane Man: Flashfight when he takes over the Commandos (although for some reason, he likes Firebert's commando name). It’s a bit parodied since he immediately fires three of them without explaining why.
  • Parody: Of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
    • Several of Blue Laser's plots were actual G.I. Joe episodes, including blowing up the ocean and making it snow at the beach.
    • Blue Laser Commander has a high, raspy voice like Cobra Commander.
    • Crackotage's Rhymes on a Dime gimmick is borrowed from Roadblock.
    • The Toppelgangers are based on the Dreadnoks.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: As an evil league of violence, Blue Laser naturally has several plans for world domination. However, the toons seen never actually show them carrying out such plans, and the plans that they do carry out are actually laughably minor.
  • Poke the Poodle: The "evil" schemes of Blue Laser are laughably minor. For instance, Blue Laser invites Firebert to smoke some candy. In addition, he and Scrawnjob once flooded all the amusement parks with counterfeit Skee-Ball tickets, making their prizes more expensive.
  • Poor Communication Kills: When the Cheat Commandos get invited to Blue Laser's Thanksgiving meal, they hide it from Gunhaver, reasoning that he'll overreact if he finds out. Gunhaver finds out anyway and overreacts even worse because he thinks the Commandos have been taken captive.
  • Product-Promotion Parade: Cranked up to 11, as any new character or vehicle will prompt the episode to pause and remind viewers that you can buy it from Cheap As Free Toys. Even when appearing on "Dangeresque Puppet Squad", Dangeresque makes sure to promote Firebert's playsets and toys as Decemberween presents.
  • Put on a Bus: In "The Next Epi-Snowed!", Crack Stuntman starts making bizarre, disruptive demands of the show. The director A. Chimendez retaliates by writing his character, Gunhaver, out of the show temporarily, and even passive-aggressively threatens to hire a new VA.
    Reynold: It's too bad Gunhaver's on a secret mission to the moon for an undisclosed period of time, and that when he gets back his voice might have changed.
  • Red Shirt: The Green Helmets. When they radio HQ to beg for help in the middle of a battle, Gunhaver cuts the call short and does nothing, reasoning that they don't need to save the Green Helmets because "we got, like, fifty of them."
  • Remember the New Guy?: Subtlefuge:
    Silent Rip: Break into the Headquarters Playset? Impossible!
    Crackotage: Maybe for us, but not for... my evil twin brother, Subtlefuge!
    [music sting]
    Silent Rip: Huh?
    Gunhaver: Eh?
    Crackotage: The leader of the Topplegangers!
    [music sting repeats; Chirping Crickets]
    Silent Rip: Uh...
    Gunhaver: Still nothin'.
    Crackotage: (impatiently) The sometimes-good-guys sometimes-bad-guys whose only loyalty is to the highest bidder?
    [music sting repeats very slowly]
    Silent Rip: (as if now remembering) Ohh!
    Gunhaver: Yeah! And they can help us open a new restaurant!
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Crackotage's main shtick. Granted, he's a parody of this kind of character and as such, he's not very good at it, if "Commandos in the Classroom" is any indication.
    Crackotage: Movie night is my favorite night. I think it is my favorite night. Hee-hee-hoo-hoo!
    Silent Rip: Are you even trying anymore?
  • Share Phrase: By default, their catchphrase is "Cheat Commandos, rock, rock on!"
  • Show Within a Show: To Homestar Runner. The Cheat plays the role of Firebert, and Gunhaver's voice actor, Crack Stuntman became a reoccurring character.
  • Signature Team Transport: The Action Figure Storage Vehicle, further parodying the show's Merchandise-Driven nature.
  • Sissy Villain: The Blue Laser Commander, and hammy to boot.
  • Skyward Scream: Gunhaver does this a couple of times, accompanied by an Angry Fist-Shake:
    • At the end of "Shopping For Danger".
  • The Smurfette Principle: Parodied with Foxface, whose packaging notes being female as her unique feature. Oddly she's never had a speaking role.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Normally an aversion of this trope wouldn't be the slightest bit noteworthy, but considering the fact that the characters elsewhere unfailingly refer to The Cheat as "The Cheat" no matter how odd it sounds, it can actually be a bit weird to hear these characters just call their group "Cheat Commandos."
  • Squick: In-Universe in "Let us give TANKS!", the very same episode where Blue Laser Commander solved the problem of telling apart two indistinguishable mooks by stabbing one with a fork, an Easter Egg reveals that his standards stretch so far:
    Blue Laser Commander: I need you... to take this plate of food... make a milkshake out of it... and spread it on Nana's gums for her!
    Blue Laser Minion: (usual monotone) I'm going to go ahead and disobey a direct order, sir.
    Blue Laser Commander: UNDERSTANDABLE!
  • Sue Donym: In "The Next Epi-Snowed!", director A. Chimendez writes himself into the episode and makes up his commando name on the spot: "Uh, my name is Chimendez."
  • The Team Wannabe: Reynold wants to be on the field with the other Commandos, insisting he would be a "good mission guy". The others frequently dismiss him.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: In "Shopping For Danger", Reynold tries on Reinforcements' Justice Rocket Backpack Rocket Rocket, only to fall over and accidentally set it to fire. Pinned by the pack's weight, Reynold mutters "My land, I can't see this ending well..."
  • Tie-In Cereal: Invoked. ''Cheat Commandoes "Cheat Commandos...O's".
  • Toilet Humour: "How should I know? You're the one called Silent Rip."
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: In-universe, A. Chimendez seems to take his role as writer of the cartoon quite seriously, and regards Gunhaver as "a great military leader."
  • Toyetic: The show's tagline is literally "Buy all our playsets and toys."
  • Toyless Toyline Character: Ironically despite being a series spoofing on toys, only about 6 characters were made through Big Bang Toys in the early 2000s. These include; Gunhaver, Fightgar, Silent Rip, Crackotage, Firebert, Reynold, and Blue Laser Commander.
  • [Trope Name]:
    • In "The Next Epi-Snowed!", Crack Stuntman degenerates into this when he forgets his line.
    Gunhaver: Um... words... say. Talk?
    • "2-Part Episode" is named in this manner.
    • New Bad Guy Girl Character, who is named that way because she was hastily introduced to allow Crack Stuntman's girlfriend to be able to play a character.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: When Agent Chimendez takes over the Cheat Commandos, he says: "Cheat Commandos, let's rrrrrrock, rrrrock on!" The Commandos do not try to trill the R's, but rather they pronounce them, making them sound like they have a bad stutter.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: When Flashfight shows up in "2-Part Episode", he is treated this way despite actually making the Cheat Commandos perform meaningful missions after arresting Blue Laser Commander... though he does fire Silent Rip just for correcting him.
  • The Unintelligible: Firebert is the only one who actually speaks like a regular The Cheat.
  • Uniqueness Value: Parodied with the Green Helmets, who are based on the "army-builder" Mooks and Red Shirts that populate toy franchises, being a bunch of identical non-characters designed to be bought in bulk. Consequently, other characters don't tend to even see them as people, particularly Gunhaver, who claims "we got like, fifty of 'em" and is horrified at being "escorted out by someone... available in a discount three pack!" Said three-pack even gives the blurb of "Extra Melty! Nah, It's Cool!"
  • Verbal Ticked:
    • Crackotage speaks in rhyme, parodying Roadblock, though his subsequent appearances tend to show him getting lazier with his rhyming. This habit notably gets called out by Silent Rip in Commandos in the Classroom.
      Crackotage: Movie night is my favourite night. I think it is my favourite night! Hee hee hoo hoo!
      Silent Rip: Are you even trying anymore?
      Silent Rip: Ah, you can do it. Try another one.
      Crackotage: I think my rhymes are truly broke! Broke, broke, broke, broke, broke, broke, broke! Hoo-hoo, hweh-hweh!
    • He stops rhyming entirely after being fired from the Cheat Commandos, and starts again after he gets his job back, implying that he thinks of it as part of his job (ignoring the fact that rhyming is what got him fired in the first place).
  • Villains Out Shopping: Literally in "Shopping for Danger." Blue Laser is out grocery shopping on Double Coupon Day, and it's up to the Commandos to stop them from saving money that could go into buying new superweapons.
    Gunhaver: They could use all their savings to make a button that will make it snow at the beach!
    Silent Rip: But sir, what about beach volleyball?
    Gunhaver: There won't be any more beach volleyball!
  • Wag the Director: Happens in-universe in "The Next Epi-Snowed!" Crack Stuntman lets his star power go to his head and makes ridiculous demands, such as writing his girlfriend into the show as a new character, and having Gunhaver fight from a massage chair (so Stuntman himself can record all his lines in one). When he gets too disruptive, A. Chimendez writes himself into the show, traps Stuntman in a cardboard box, and puts Gunhaver on the fastest bus he can find.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Reynold in the second half of "2-Part Episode".