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 a Theme Park Version of 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 as Hilarity Ensues.
Despite mixed reviews, the show was renewed for a second season a week after release.
Crossing Swords provides examples of the following tropes:
- 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 Patricks problems
- Actually Pretty Funny: King Merriman's reaction to his wife getting dunked with chum at a festival (and again got chummed as part of being Kraken bait).
- 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.
- 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.
- Anachronism Stew: Taken to the Logical Extreme and Played for Laughs. The show is quite obviously meant to take place in medieval times with the lack of technology and cars (whereas horse carriages are used instead) and the use of a monarchy, yet still throws in entirely modern things like New Age Retro Hippies, Wild Teen Parties, rock festivals, and water parks. There's also 16th-17th century pirates and even a cowboy shown in one episode, and apparently Egypt Is Still Ancient in the universe if the pharaoh in "Let Them Eat Clown" is anything to go by.
- 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."
- 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 episodes ending involves Patrick accidentally killing someone.
- 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.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: In addition to the typical 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.
- Moral Myopia: Despite admitting that she's into underaged boys, Queen Tulip still wants the sex to be completely "consensual" because in her words, "I'm not a monster".
- Pirates: Yes, theres also pirates, and Patricks sister Coral is a very successful and ruthless Pirate Girl.
- Purely Aesthetic Era: The setting is a Medieval England theme, yet the only thing that really sets it apart from a modern-day American setting is the architecture, lack of machines, and portrayal of a monarchy. As a result, it's basically just a mix-match of time periods coated in a stereotypical medieval flair. Of course, this is all for Rule of Funny and Rule of Cool.
- 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...
- Shout-Out: Rubens subplot in The A-mooo-zing Race is a parody of Call Me by Your Name.
- 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.
- 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 hes heavily implied to be 18 or 19.
- Virgin-Shaming: Patricks virginity is often brought up to emphasize how much of a loser he is.