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Western Animation / Crossing Swords

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Crossing Swords is an adult animated comedy premiering on June 12, 2020 on Hulu, created by John Harvatine IV and Tom Root, who were previously best known for their writing and directing duties on Robot Chicken. Just like Robot Chicken, it is in Stop Motion Animation, but instead of Barbie doll-like figurines, small wooden peg-like dolls not unlike the ones you see from vintage Fisher Price toys are used. Despite what this would have you believe, the show is far from being for kids, as you would expect from a Spiritual Successor to Robot Chicken.

The series takes place in the The Middle Ages and follows young Patrick who achieves his life-long dream of becoming a squire for the tyrannical and inept King Merriman and Queen Tulip, and instantly regrets it after finding out the truth about them. Even worse, his criminal siblings have also returned to make his life hell. Throughout the series he is forced into all sorts of misadventures that go completely against his morals.

The show was cancelled after two seasons.

Crossing Swords provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Patrick is heavily The Unfavorite in the family and even his father seems to regret having children in general. His mother is at least more sensible, if apathetic to Patrick’s problems
  • Advertising by Association: “From the minds behind Robot Chicken”. Complete with a cluck!
  • Aerith and Bob: Along with normal names like Patrick, Barry, and Glenn, there are also weird names like Broth, Blarney, Keefer, and Blinkerquartz.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: In the Season 2 Halloween Episode, Patrick going into full heavy-drinking "Party Patrick" mode is the reason why he doesn't pay attention to Blossom being stuck in the mirror dimension, and has sex with her undead aunt.
  • Aloof Big Brother / Sister: Ruben and Coral are this to Patrick, though Blarney gets some level of respect from them.
  • Amusing Injuries: In "Let Them Eat Clown", the rival kings get mauled by a bear, shot by arrows, and their heads smashed by swinging logs, and in the next scene are shown completely fine with only a few bandages on their heads.
  • Aww Look They Really Do Love Each Other: In the season one finale Patrick's siblings come to the castle to loot after the royals have been kidnapped, while at first dismissing him they eventually unite to help him fight of Sloane's army. Again in season two when Patrick was sentenced to gladiatorial combat by the new king and about to be eaten by a dragon, all his siblings along with his mother jump into the arena to act as human shields.
  • Badass Family: Patrick is a squire, his siblings are a pirate queen, a Forrest bandit and an alcoholic birthday clown. Though none of them besides Coral are taken very seriously, the season one finale shows each of them to be a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass.
  • Bait-and-Switch Performance: In "In The Line of Squire", when Princess Blossom takes the stage with her new boyfriend Keefer to sing at Beast Feast, she sings a very high energy duet with him, one that gets the crowd very excited. Cut to her actual performance, it's just her singing, she's incredibly off key and screechy, and the crowd is silent and uncomfortable.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Entirely averted; the dolls have carved out private parts, which tend to be shown at least once every episode.
  • Black Comedy: Just like its predecessor, the show revels in this.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "An execution is a sometimes treat, like ice cream, dancing, and butt stuff."
  • Broken Pedestal: In the Season 2 finale, Patrick is finally in position to work with the knights he's idolized for so long. Unfortunately, they completely refuse to help Patrick save their people, plan to just flood the mole people civilization to kill both the moles and the human hostages (including the king and queen), break their promise of delaying the flood for an hour to give Patrick a chance to enact his plan, and celebrate by stabbing the corpses of the drowned mole people as Patrick tries to explain that he had nearly been able to resolve things peacefully. It's enough to make Patrick finally demand to quit, but King Merriman forcibly knights him (and a pizza delivery girl that forgot the garlic knots) to deal with an incoming invasion of multiple kingdoms.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Everyone on this show is this to a degree, the queen actually bought Patrick being a pregnant young girl virgin in the first ep, The king agrees that torture shouldn't be mandatory, seeing it as a 'sometime treat'. Special mention goes to Broth, who chases butterfly for their butter, calls the other recruit a 'white asshole' due to being a diversity hire due to mother being a Viking (not realizing viking are Caucasian).
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Averted; cheating is what everyone does in the squire competition and nobody bats an eye at it.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: In the second episode, the king orders the creation of an execution device that causes this in addition to No Kill like Overkill, as a twisted attempt to increase his public approval by getting them excited for a public execution. The audience turns out to be so horrified at the device that they start to respect him out of fear.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Pretty much every episode’s ending involves Patrick accidentally killing someone.
  • Disappointing Promotion: Throughout the series, Patrick dreamed about becoming a knight, complete with fantasies of splendor. At the conclusion of the second season, because the kingdom had fallen to the mole people, Patrick is hastily promoted to knight. Instead of the pageantry he thought he get, the knighting consisted of Princess Blossom tapping Patrick with a sword and saying "Boop, boop, you're a knight", which she repeats on Broth and herself, to his disappointment. When the kingdom is faced with the prospect of war, King Merriman has to repeat the motions as Blossom never had the authority to knight anyone, even as Patrick angrily attempts to resign due to his frustration over the kingdom's greed and incompetence.
  • Eternal Sexual Freedom: One episode had Holden engaged to the prince of another kingdom and his father the king hosted the wedding with Queen Tulip and King Merriman in attendance.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • King Merriman and Queen Tulip are both very protective and caring of their daughter, Princess Blossom, even despite how much of a disrespectful brat she is.
    • Due to character development when Patrick pleaded for his sibling to help him, they decided to fight the bad guy's grunt for Patrick's sake.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Despite admitting that she's okay with underage sex, Queen Tulip still wants the sex to be completely "consensual" because in her words, "I'm not a monster".
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: In addition to the usual wizards, fairies, and dragons that are present in the medieval fantasy genre, the show's universe also has a minotaur and gorgon (which are from Greek mythology) and krakens (which are Scandinavian).
  • Girl Posse: Princess Blossom has one of her own, though she isn't very kind to them and treats them merely as servants rather than friends.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Zigzagged in the sense that it more gray then either good or bad. Queen Tulip and King Merriman are obviously unhappily married and are constantly cheating on each other. They never find out though, even despite it being extremely obvious, as Patrick lampshades.
  • Groin Attack: Patrick has suffered this a lot as a kid from his sister and his method around it proves useful when everyone starts doing it to each other in the squire competition.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Coral, Ruben, and Blarney spend a day taking care of a rapidly aging creature they call Beanie. After Beanie is killed in a Suicide by Cop, the three siblings wonder if their experience has taught them to be better people, as well as better children to their parents. This is quickly thrown out the window when Doreen comes home and the trio promptly start acting like dicks to her.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: As it's revealed in "Let Them Eat Clown", the cult that King Merriman is part of hunts and eats clowns as part of a ritual.
  • Pirates: Yes, there’s also pirates, and Patrick's sister Coral is a very successful and ruthless Pirate Girl.
  • Purely Aesthetic Era: The show is meant to take place in medieval times, yet still throws in entirely modern things like New Age Retro Hippies, Wild Teen Parties, rock festivals, and water parks. It also has things from other time periods, such as 16th-17th century pirates, a pharaoh, and even a cowboy.
  • Ruling Family Massacre: Sloane plans to do this with the current ruling family so she and her mother can be in charge (And even then is planning to throw her mother under the bus to sway Patrick to become an ally).
  • Sequel Hook:
    • The first season ends with Sloane meeting the Old King, presumably with a new plan to usurp the throne. To Be Continued...
    • The second season ends with the kingdom under attack by rival kingdoms.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Speak of the Devil: The Season 2 Halloween Episode, "Knight of the Fucking Dead", has Princess Blossom dared into reciting the in-universe version of the Bloody Mary legend and end up trapped in a mirror dimension while her deceased Aunt Donna is let loose in her world.
  • Taken for Granite: Happens to one of the knights-in-training during a trip to a gorgon-inhabited island and he stays like that throughout the series. The others continue to treat him like he's still part of the program. It turns out that he's still alive and aware in the penultimate season 2 episode.
  • Translator Microbes: Lampshaded in the Season 2 finale, when Patrick is instructed to stand underneath a giant crystal while trying to understand the mole people. He thinks it will grant him knowledge in a semi-scientific, semi-magical fashion... but it just falls and knocks him on the head, giving him temporary inner ear issues that lets him understand the mole people's incredibly high-pitched voices (though from other people's perspectives, he's now capable of talking in an equally unintelligible pitch).
  • Unexplained Accent: A lot of the characters speak in English accents, yet some characters like Patrick and Broth speak in American accents. Princess Blossom oddly has a Valley Girl accent despite her mother sounding British and her father speaking in a normal American accent.
  • Vague Age: Patrick's age is never explicitly stated, though he's heavily implied to be 18 or 19.
  • Virgin-Shaming: Patrick's virginity is often brought up to emphasize how much of a "loser" he is. He finally loses it in the Season 2 Halloween Episode... but unfortunately, it's to the revived corpse of Aunt Donna, instantly tanking any newfound respect that "Party Patrick" had earned from his peers.