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He took us to the present. He took us into the future. So what's next? The past, of course!
From left to right: Elfo, Bean, and Luci.

"An epic tale of growing up in the dark ages."
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Disenchantment is an animated fantasy-dramedy created by Matt Groening for Netflix. It is his third series overall, and his first to air exclusively on a streaming service. The premise is simple: The Simpsons was his take on the present day, Futurama was the future, and Disenchantment is the past.

The show follows the magical misadventures of Bean (short for "Tiabeanie") (Abbi Jacobson), a rebellious young princess from the medieval kingdom of Dreamland. Tired of being bossed around by her controlling father King Zog (John DiMaggio), she strives to follow her own path in life... and by that, we mean getting blind drunk and committing acts of devilry. She soon befriends a couple of strange companions: a goofy, naive elf named Elfo (Nat Faxon), and a devious, snarky demon named Luci (Eric Andre). Along the way, the trio encounter ogres, sprites, harpies, imps, trolls, walruses, and lots of human fools.

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The show premiered on Netflix on August 17, 2018, with a 10-episode first half-season, titled "Part One". The second part of the season (or "Part Two") with another 10 episodes premiered on September 20, 2019. Another 20 episodes (comprising the second season, or "Part Three" and "Part Four") have been ordered for release (presumably from 2020 to 2021).

The series is more serialised than Groening's previous shows. Beware of spoilers, which may or may not be hidden.


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Tropes:

  • Aerith and Bob: The characters' names are quite the mix, some being fantasy names that are made up entirely, some being fairly common in the US, and some being names that sound exotic to some ears but are not unheard of in certain European countries.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of the Medieval European Fantasy fiction genre in general. Though it looks more like a teenagers' Black Comedy Dungeons & Dragons campaign than a Tolkien-style High Fantasy epic. Aspects of the show also look like a Shout-Out to comic fantasy settings such as Terry Pratchett's Discworld.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: Sorcerio, who is at best an Inept Mage, is able to produce a number of magical concoctions using Elfo's blood, although he seems to be hit or miss with his experiments. The empire of Maru on the other hand appears to have elevated alchemy to a high science.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Although the show's setting is (very loosely) based on medieval Europe, some of the human characters (such as Odval, the Herald, and multiple background extras) have much darker skin than others, with no explanation given. Also in the episode "Castle Party Massacre", one of the Land Vikings appears to be a literal Black Viking.
  • Anachronism Stew: As part of the fun, there are some intentionally anachronistic gags, including bits of Schizo Tech.
    • The local police ride in donkey-driven carriages that act like modern police cars; they even have flashing blue-and-red lights (lit by a candle flame in a lantern), and siren noises (provided by the donkeys' braying), and are also shown to have put up police tape around a crime scene.
    • The Herald announces news like a modern-day sensationalist newscaster.
      Herald: Hear ye, hear ye, your food may be poisoned! Find out how later!
    • Zog says that "This isn't my first rodeo," before being confused about what "rodeo" means.
    • The magic Crystal Ball has a rewind function, like a VCR, right down to the symbols and the sound playing in reverse.
  • Anti-Climax: Restoring Dreamland doesn't require an epic, harrowing, season-long quest. Oona nabs the Eternity Pendant off Dagmar while trying to rescue Bean in "The Disenchantress", and returns with it to Dreamland by "The Very Thing", where the Elves are convinced to donate their blood to restore the city, which is a painstaking one-at-a-time process for all 6,000 residents.
  • Arc Welding: The final three episodes of Season 1 increase the continuity, and reveals a lot of relations between the characters, as well as Continuity Nods left and right to reveal a bit more of Emperor Cloyd and The Enchantress's plans and the overall plot. It also reveals the real reason for Zog finding the Elixir of Life, and more information about Dagmar's past and motives.
  • Arranged Marriage: In the form of Altar Diplomacy between royal families. It's used as an important plot point a few times.
    • The story arc of the first two episodes deals with Zog forcing a reluctant Bean to marry a prince from Bentwood (first Guysbert, then his younger brother Merkimer) in order to secure a political alliance with the kingdom of Bentwood. Bean tries (though fails) to flee and/or sabotage the wedding. Fortunately for her, some accidental circumstances result in Zog canceling the whole wedding/alliance plans.
    • In the backstory, Zog's marriage to his second wife Oona was also the result of this. After the end of a war between Dreamland and Dankmire, King Zog got married to Princess Oona to forge an alliance between the formerly warring kingdoms, and also to allow the construction of a canal linking them together. Another result is that Oona gave Zog a male heir to Dreamland's throne, Prince Derek.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Mermaid Island and Walrus Island, which should never be confused. One has vicious sirens, who sing compelling music that lures men to their horrible deaths. The other has mermaids.
    • The Cave of the Single Trap. It comes in two parts.
  • Black Comedy: Much like Groening's previous shows, Disenchantment features a fairly dark sense of humor, perhaps to a greater extent than before. In just about every episode, one or more minor character(s) get killed just for cheap laughs.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Early on, there's a scene where Bean leaves a tavern named the Flying Scepter where there's an oddly large number of random scepters laying around, stuck in beams, laying on the porch, sticking out of the thatched roof. A few episodes later, it's shown that these scepters are caused by the king routinely hurling them over the castle walls and into the city in rage over Bean's antics.
    • "Castle Party Massacre" revolves around Bean throwing a rager of a party while her dad's away at the health spa, which soon turns into an (attempted) overthrow by Land Vikings. In "The Limits of Immortality", Big Jo explains the Lost City of Cremorrah was ruined when its citizens threw a party while their own king was away.
      Big Jo: "Can you imagine such disrespect?"
      Bean: "No, I cannot imagine. Such disrespect."
  • Casting Gag:
  • Central Theme: Growth, understanding, and knowing who you truly are.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The statue of Bean's mother. First it turns out to be covering the entrance to the Royal Crypt, then it turns out it's not actually a statue.
    • When exploring Cremorrah, Big Jo tells Bean the populace was petrified by a single spell from their rivals. Two episodes later, we see that spell in action.
    • The magic Crystal Ball, which reveals a very big secret in "Dreamland Falls".
  • Coming-of-Age Story: The series works as this for Bean, who tries to figure out who she is exactly.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror:
    • The citizens of Dreamland are disturbingly indifferent to the widespread plague in their kingdom. The "Plague Patrol" that picks up corpses to be dumped and cremated in a mass grave is treated as a regular occurrence. Bunty even cheerfully talks about cleaning up one of her dead children before having him thrown into the pit, along with his little friends.
    • Season 2 has Elfo tell Bean that, after going through so many harrowing adventures with her, he's completely blase about death now. The fact that Elfo had also died, visited both Heaven and Hell, and eventually came Back from the Dead earlier in that season may have something to do with it.
  • Constructed World: Much like many other fantasy stories, Disenchantment is set in a fictional world that doesn't quite resemble real-life Earth. Perhaps the most obvious difference about this alternate planet is that it's flat, note  and comes with an edge leading to a seemingly bottomless abyss. Though bizarrely, Odval nonetheless has a round globe in his office. Even more oddly, some throwaway lines mention the terms "French" and "German", even though France and Germany are nowhere to be seen.
  • Couch Gag: Naturally, seeing as the show was created by the same guy as the Trope Namer. The opening credits feature sketches of scenes from each episode.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The village of Elfwood. Although this place does look invokedconstantly happy and cheerful, and bad things very rarely ever happen to its inhabitants, it's strongly implied that the happy atmosphere is forced and artificial. As Elfo finds out the hard way, questioning the saccharine status quo will make you ostracized. Oh, and if you piss off the Elf King hard enough, such as attempting to sleep with his daughter, he will have you sentenced to death by hanging from the Gumdrop Tree, all while your fellow elves sing another cheerful song for your execution.note  It's really no wonder why Elfo gets sick of this place, he wants the right to choose to be openly happy or sad, in a much more realistic way.
  • Crapsack World: Dreamland is quite a medieval shithole, and it's all played for laughs at every opportunity. This kingdom is ruled by King Zog, a brutal tyrant who often sentences people to death and/or torture for a variety of offenses, such as attempting to sleep with his daughter. Most citizens are poor peasants, and even the nobility are going bankrupt. The country is being ravaged by disease outbreaks, with the bodies of plague victims regularly being collected to be cremated in a mass grave/pyre. Dreamland's relations with neighboring nations are tense at best, even with their allies, and the threat of war is always possible. Oh, and deceased children can be damned to hell for simply being annoying.
  • Crystal Ball:
    • A magic crystal ball is kept in the Dreamland castle, and is used by Sorcerio for scrying. It can also be used to (cryptically) answer simple questions (sort of like a Magic 8-Ball); and it can also record videos of the surrounding area like a surveillance camera (in "Dreamland Falls", Zog and Luci rewind it back by 15 years to find out what really happened on the day when Dagmar drank the poisoned wine and turned to stone).
    • A variation: the Enchantress uses a magical flame so that she and Emperor Cloyd can watch and spy on Bean, Luci, and the other protagonists from afar. At one point, Cloyd forgets that it's still a fire, and he accidentally burns his hand on it.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The religion of Dreamland is heavily inspired by Christianity, but seems to be different in some aspects. For example, they use a spiral instead of a cross as its symbol. Also, they can't even seem to make up their minds (within a single line of prayer no less) if there is only one God, or if he has a brother; and even the Arch-Druidess (the leader of the state church) openly doubts if God even exists at all. Although God, Satan, Heaven, and Hell are all eventually confirmed to actually exist in Season 2, they do not seem to exactly match what Dreamland's church believes about them.
  • Cultural Rebel:
    • Elfo is the most cynical elf possible (he is still very cheerful), hates making candy and singing all the time. By the time he reunites with the elves, the others note that in comparison Elfo IS rather hardcore and badass.
    • Luci was assigned to be Bean's personal demon, tempting her into doing wrong things. His nature as a demon means he is not supposed to care what happens to Bean, but ultimately he can't let her come to harm and breaks away from the rules of hell to protect her.
  • Darker and Edgier: Downplayed. With the laxer censorship on Netflix, Disenchantment has a little more adult content (nudity, violence and language) compared to Groening's previous cartoons, though it doesn't take it too far to the point of being gratuitous either. It ends up being more akin to the later episodes of Futurama, the show is still rated TV-14.
  • Dark Fantasy: Disenchantment has probably the most darkly humorous take on the dark fantasy genre in cartoon history, playing its medieval dystopian setting for laughs. Despite this, it still meets many of the traits of other Dark Fantasy stories. The royal palace is large and comfortable, and the royalty/nobility live in luxury; but the commoners live in severe poverty, filthy homes, and barely have enough to eat, and often have to make a living doing unpleasant work such as executioners. And despite the fact that the royalty and nobility have much more comfortable lives, they're also going bankrupt. Children may even start work as soon as they are born, taking jobs such as midwife, miner, or candle maker. The relations between the various nations are tense at best, and the threat of war is very real. Magical beings don't have it any better; fairies often work as prostitutes, while elves are hunted for their magical blood which can create the Elixir of Life. The elves by the way, live in a society where you are expected to act happy all the time... or else. And that's just the first season.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Zigzagged. Given that the setting is based on medieval Europe (albeit rather loosely), there's quite a bit of period-appropriate cultural differences.
    • Played straight (sorta) regarding the gender roles of men and women. King Zog is constantly frustrated that his daughter Princess Bean is a rebellious tomboy who refuses to act like a proper lady, and is especially irritated by her sexual promiscuity. Bean herself is constantly frustrated that she's expected to place limits on her lifestyle just because she's a woman, and hates being reminded of this by men around her.
    • On the other hand, this is seemingly averted in regards to the relationship between Odval and Sorcerio, who are apparently gay lovers. Nobody seems to care about this one way or another, neither making homophobic remarks nor expressing sympathy for what would likely be a taboo romance. So far it hasn't really been treated as a big deal even worth mentioning.
    • Given that this takes place in the age before modern science, religion and superstition shape everyone's worldview. A quasi-Christian church is apparently in charge of Dreamland's state religion, and they're depicted as an organization of strawmen who aren't even consistent in their own beliefs (a priestess expresses doubts over whether a God even exists or not). Though considering that magic is real, and Luci is a demon who claims to be from Hell, and Elfo dies, goes to Heaven and meets God this kinda comes across as Arbitrary Skepticism.
  • Downer Ending: Both of the first two season finales end on downer cliffhangers:
    • Season 1: Elfo is still dead. Dagmar turns out to be evil, and has turned most of Dreamland's population into stone statues. Meanwhile Oona has gone missing, Luci is captured in the middle of the chaos, and Zog is left completely alone in his castle with nothing left to rule. Bean is tricked by Dagmar into leaving Dreamland with her, in order to fulfill her mother's mysterious evil plans.
    • Season 2: Bean accidentally shoots Zog, leaving him critically injured and on the verge of dying. Odval and his secret society exploit the crisis by crowning Derek as the new king, and they pressure him into having Bean convicted of witchcraft and attempted regicide. Bean, Elfo, and Luci are all sentenced to death by burning at the stake, only surviving their execution when they suddenly fall into an underground tunnel, where they are met by Dagmar once again...
  • Dramedy: In contrast to its predecessors, which had their dramatic moments in later episodes, this show leans a little more of the dramatic side right from the start while also skewering fantasy tropes. Bean's efforts to avoid an arranged marriage are played relatively straight, while also exploring Bean's moral consequences of the Bloody Hilarious violence.
  • The Dung Ages: Dreamland is an exaggerated example of this trope, entirely Played for Laughs. Special mention goes to the early morning plague victim collection wagon, which is played much like a garbage truck service.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Elfo is a rebellious elf who is far more assertive in the first episode. By the second or third episode, he's far more passive and too timid to ask Bean out.
    • Similarly, there's a throwaway line in the first episode, where Bean says she's having to pretend she's a virgin for her wedding, but the fourth episode establishes that the men of the kingdom are terrified of going near her for fear of her father's wrath (although that could be why they fear his wrath).
  • Eternal Sexual Freedom: Despite this being a Medieval European Fantasy, Odval is pretty open about his homosexuality, and nobody seems to care. Likewise, Bean's sexual promiscuity is seemingly only restricted by men fearing her father's wrath, rather than by any kind of religious or social conventions. Granted, the religion practiced in Dreamland is apparently new and hasn't worked out its doctrine yet, unlike real-life Medieval Christianity.
  • Fantastic Comedy: Being an animated sitcom set in an epic fantasy world, this is one of the sub-genres that this show fits into.
  • Fantastic Drug:
    • Queen Oona consumes a drug called "snakeroot", which causes her to, well, act crazy and scream like a maniac for several minutes. Bean, Elfo, and Luci steal some of the snakeroot for their own use; while they're high, Bean describes a long daydream where the three of them form a music band.
    • In another episode, Bean, Elfo, and Luci walk into a private club that looks like an opium den. They inhale a hallucinogenic gas called "bliss", which distorts their eyesight and causes them to experience a convoluted hallucination where Elfo describes his imaginary girlfriend to Bean.
  • Fantastic Ghetto: The elves eventually leave Elfwood and move into the new Elf Alley neighborhood in Dreamland. Thus far, the elves are the only significant non-human community living in the city-state of Dreamland.
  • Fantastic Medicinal Bodily Product: Elf blood, an ingredient for the Elixir of Life which, when inserted into the Eternity Pendant, can grant the wearer immortality or heal them from any injury or other affliction. However, it has to be blood from a full-blooded elf, or it will not work.
  • Fantastic Racism: In a fantasy world where different sapient races live, there's bound to be some speciesism, not unlike in Futurama.
    • It's implied that part of the reason why Oona isn't very well-liked in the royal court is because she's a Dankmirian. Though of course, it has more to do with her cold and aloof personality not doing her any favors for her image either.
      • Even her own husband Zog mutteringly calls her "Reptilicus", while he was unfavorably comparing her to his previous wife Dagmar, whom he actually loved and cared about. Oona overhears him and needless to say, she's offended by being called a "reptile".
      • After Dagmar's return, she asks Zog (with disgust) if Bean was raised by "that amphibian". Though of course, this is more out of Dagmar's jealousy towards the fact that Zog had even been remarried to a new wife in the first place.
    • Parodied when Bean, Elfo, and Luci sleep in a forest where a "racist antelope" lives. The antelope passes by, sees a human lying next to an elf, and expresses his disgust at what he mistakenly assumes to be an Interspecies Romance.
      Racist antelope: "An elf with a human girl? That ain't right." (spits)
    • The exorcist Big Jo really hates demons, and destroys every one of them that he captures. Though it's very understandable, considering that they're an entire race of Always Chaotic Evil bastards after all.
    • Tess the giantess suffers a lot of prejudice in "Love's Tender Rampage". She's dismayed that most humans treat her like a dangerous and mindless monster, when in fact she's really a decent and intelligent person. But her protests are to no avail and fall on deaf ears, as she (accidentally) breaks a few things, resulting in an angry mob chasing her out of town.
      Man: "This validates my bigotry!"
    • As Elfwood is a literal Hidden Elf Village, they're naturally a bit xenophobic and suspicious of outsiders. When Elfo brings Bean there, the Elf King complains about how humans are all evil and "bring nothing but pain and treachery"; however he (and the other elves) quickly warm up to Bean after she offers to share some booze with them. However, the place soon gets attacked by human knights from Dreamland, which does make Elfwood's isolationism and misanthropy seem more justified.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture:
    • Dreamland has a distinct Scottish flair. Several characters are shown to wear kilts, and in King Zog's flashback in "Dreamland Falls", he participates in a caber toss. Not to mention Zog's accent, which sounds quite a bit like The Scotsman (who's also voiced by John DiMaggio).
    • Dankmire seems to be a weird mishmash of cultures. Oona and other upper-class people seem to be pseudo-Slavic, the architecture in the capital city looks (vaguely) East Asian, and the rural swamps are inhabited by stereotypical rednecks.
    • Maru also seems to be based on a mix of cultures. The Maruvian people speak with British (English) accents, but the architecture and overall aesthetic in their country (a desert kingdom) seems to be heavily influenced by Ancient Egypt and other ancient civilizations of the Middle East; this is also true of nearby Cremorrah.
    • Steamland, with its entire Steampunk/Dieselpunk aesthetic, looks a lot like Victorian London (but with flying airships and other crazy advanced technology).
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Zig-zagged. Bozak warships and pirates have cannons, although Dreamland does not appear to have any kind of gunpowder weapons or explosives (except for use in fireworks displays). Steamland has revolver pistols and other handheld firearms, and Bean accidentally shoots Zog with one while grappling with Pendergast over it.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Much like Futurama's Sci-Fi Kitchen Sink, the world of Disenchantment will have just about any kind of magical/mythical creatures and entities show up. The second season even introduces some steampunk despite the otherwise medieval-esque setting.
  • Feminist Fantasy: Given that the show revolves around an Action Girl / Rebellious Princess protagonist who wants to challenge the limited roles that medieval society expects from an upper-class woman.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Hell exists as a literal underworld. Suitably volcanic and ruled by Satan, with a strict hierarchy of demons who can be promoted or demoted at his whim. Damned souls are each subjected to their own Ironic Hells in cells where they are forced to endlessly watch projected scenes from the worst moments of their lives — with the popcorn forever out of reach.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: The citizens of Steamland think magic is nonsense, despite living in a world where it quite empirically exists.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: If there's a Hell, then naturally there's also Heaven. Obviously, this is where the souls of good people apparently spend eternity, just drifting around on clouds and hanging out with angels. This place is overseen by a benevolent God, who does not seem to care whether or not they worshiped Him while alive, just that they were good people.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During "The Princess of Darkness", when Big Jo is arriving in his chariot, a hexagonal symbol shows up and receives the focus for one shot. In "The Limits of Immortality", that symbol is explained and becomes a relevant part of the plot.
    • Also in "The Princess of Darkness", Bean raids the royal crypt and briefly mourns at the tomb of her grandmother... but never even comes across the tomb of her own mother, hinting that there was no body to bury and there was more to Dagmar's death.
    • In "Faster, Princess! Kill! Kill!", a Running Gag is that no matter what Bean does, the only thing she seems to be good at is killing and torturing even when she doesn't mean to do it. At the end of the first season, Dagmar reveals that Bean was prophesied to be a villain, which would explain it.
    • The Lost City of Cremorrah was destroyed when an enemy cast a curse that turned everyone in the kingdom to stone, with the King of Cremorrah being the sole survivor. By the end of the first season, what is implied to be the same curse is cast against Dreamland and everyone is turned to stone, with King Zog being the apparent sole survivor.
    • Regarding The Reveal about Elfo in "To Thine Own Elf Be True":
      • Elfo's design is notably unique among the other elves. In fact, he is the only one with olive green skin and has a creased, floppy hat while all other elves have straight conical ones. This foreshadows that he is not like the other elves, specifically, not a pure-blooded elf.
      • When Tess is able to see the truth about everything, she says she is going to reveal a truth about Elfo before he cuts her off and confesses to Bean. Tess however says that Elfo's feelings for Bean was not what she was going to say, because she was to stick to their deal, foreshadowing that there is a hidden truth about Elfo.
    • In the flashback of the incident where Dagmar was turned into stone due to poisoned wine, Odval says that the bottle he is giving the king has never been opened. This means that it could only have been poisoned by one of the people that were in the room, ergo, Dagmar herself.
    • The Season 2 finale "Tiabeanie Falls" ends with Bean, along with Luci and Elfo, literally falling in an underground cave and being confronted by dozens of strange little pale humanoids, apparently led by Queen Dagmar. One of those beings appeared very briefly in "Castle Party Massacre" (see Freeze-Frame Bonus below).
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: The Elixir of Life is a major MacGuffin in the first season, and returns in the second season where it is last seen reviving the petrified residents of Dreamland. However, when King Zog is shot toward the end of Season 2, the Elixir is never mentioned or considered as a solution.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Played with.
    • Averted with Bean and all other human characters, who have five-fingered hands, unlike Futurama and The Simpsons where everyone had four fingers on each hand.
    • Meanwhile, non-human characters have varying amounts of fingers, depending on race/species. For example, Elfo (an elf) has four fingers on each hand; while Luci (a demon) and Oona (a Dankmirian) have three fingers on each hand. Amusingly, God appears to have four-fingered hands, an inversion of what happened on The Simpsons.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • In the first episode "A Princess, an Elf, and a Demon Walk Into a Bar", there is a ventriloquists' dummy shop across from the apothecary ("Now with 3 types of medicine!"). The signs in the dummy shop proclaim their wares as "haunted", "creepy", and "unnerving".
    • When Elfo is going downstairs to meet Sorcerio in "Castle Party Massacre", it's possible to see another creature walking in the castle dungeon. While it seems elf-like, it's not an elf. It's apparently one of those strange, pale creatures that live underground below the castle and are revealed at the end of the season 2 finale "Tiabeanie Falls".
    • When Luci is rewinding with the Crystal Ball, it's possible to see Fry, Bender, and Farnsworth in the Time Machine from the Futurama episode "The Late Phillip J. Fry" for a few frames.
  • Functional Magic: Not that it should be any surprise given the setting. That said, actual competent magic users are rare. The Enchantress of Maru and possibly Big Jo are the only ones so far that seem to have reliable magical powers. Sorcerio was limited to card tricks until he got a hold of Elfo.
  • Have You Seen My God?: The Arch-Druidess of Dreamland's state church goes on a rambling monologue about whether or not their God even exists - during a royal wedding! Odval remarks to the person next to him that this religion is "in its early stages". Zog later calls off a quest to find the One True God, because he considers finding the Eternity Pendant to be a higher priority. It turns out that God does exist. But His Heaven lacks the symbology of Dreamland's state church, implying that He has not interacted with them directly.
  • Hidden Elf Village: Elves live in the secret town of Elfwood, which is cloaked by magic, and can only be accessed if the entrance gate is lowered down.
  • Immortality Inducer: The Eternity Pendant, when filled with a drop of pure elf blood, can be used to bring people Back from the Dead or make them The Ageless. It does not appear to be a Fountain of Youth however.
  • Interspecies Romance:
  • Ironic Name:
  • Land of One City: Most of the sovereign countries featured in this show's setting, such as Dreamland and Elfwood, seem to be city-states, consisting of just one city or town with some surrounding countryside.
  • Lizard Folk: Queen Oona and other Dankmirians. They are a race of humanoids with various traits of reptiles, amphibians, and fish. They have blue skin, three-fingered hands, can crawl on walls, have long sticky tongues that can catch flies, and they have both gills and lungs so they can breathe in water or air. Female Dankmirians reproduce by laying eggs (though human men can somehow breed with them).
  • MacGuffin: The Elixir of Life, made from elf blood, and which various characters want for their own reasons. There's also the Eternity Pendant, which is one of the items needed to create the Elixir.
  • Meaningful Name: All elves have names that describe who they are and what they do. Except for Elfo.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: The show's setting, which it spoofs in the same manner that Futurama did for the Futuristic Science Fiction genre.
  • Medieval Stasis: Subverted. It initially appears that the setting is all at relatively the same medieval technology level. But Dreamland ends up seeming about average, with a distinction made between tribal "rock and bone" cultures like the Ogres, versus societies that use magic and later even steampunk technology. Cremorrah and Maru are more advanced culturally and architecturally when compared to Dreamland, while Steamland almost reaches dieselpunk with the extensive use of electricity and knowledge of radio.
  • Mood Whiplash: The last two episodes of Season 1 get hit with this hard:
    • "To Thine Own Elf Be True" climaxes with Elfo's sudden death, which is played completely seriously after all the other character deaths were played for laughs. It gets worse when you learn the truth of what happened to Queen Dagmar, and that Bean was (accidentally) responsible. It then continues with Bean discovering she has the means to revive one, but not both, of them, leading to a tearful, but still grief-ridden, reunion with her mother.
    • "Dreamland Falls", though not without its jokes, is played much more seriously than any other episode of the series, as Dagmar is revealed to be evil and that she poisoned the goblet that turned her to stone. She then sets it up to look like Queen Oona is poisoning everyone in the castle with the same substance, before unleashing it upon the entire city of Dreamland.
  • Mundane Fantastic: Being a Matt Groening series, it's not a surprise that this is the way that magic and fantasy are depicted here.
  • Naked People Are Funny: It's rare for an episode to go by where nudity isn't played for humor or awkwardness.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The trailers made it seem like the wedding guests were fleeing because of Guysbert impaling himself, when in the actual show they're chasing after Elfo.
    • The trailer also implies that Bean sets out on her own adventure after refusing to marry. In the actual show, Bean remains in Dreamland (most of the time), and most of the plots that follow are episodic events. The only episode where she leaves the castle on her own is in "Faster, Princess! Kill! Kill!".
  • Only Six Faces: Groening's distinctive art style strikes again. Elfo in particular is basically a green Bart.
  • One-Word Title: The title references its nature as a parody of fantasy stories, with their magic.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Angels are seen living in Heaven as the servants of God. They are shown as being small cherubs who resemble human infants with pairs of birdlike wings, though they have adult voices.
  • Our Demons Are Different: In this world, most demons are small, black, one-eyed creatures from Hell that are made of darkness. By their nature, demons desire to spread evil and chaos wherever they go. The demons of Hell also have a social hierarchy; they are led by Asmodeus (who looks more like a classic Big Red Devil), who has the power to promote demons to higher ranks, granting them new abilities such as wings (or growing their size and power).
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons are mentioned, but remain completely unseen so far. Prince Merkimer claims to have fought a dragon once, and apparently they (or at least some of them) have the ability to shoot out fire "from both ends". Later on in the series, a dragon is believed to be attacking Dreamland, though the "dragon" is actually an airship from Steamland (it was generating sparks that caused a great fire in Dreamland, which was mistaken for dragon's breath). If the pilot of said airship is to be believednote ; then dragons may not even exist in the show's world, with the other mentioned dragon sightings presumably being misidentifications of similar airships.
  • Our Dwarves Are Different: Dwarves have yet to be seen, however since Luci mistook the trolls in "The Dreamland Job" for dwarves, it can be inferred that dwarves are physically and culturally similar to trolls.
  • Our Elves Are Better:
    • Elves in this setting are a combination of Keebler Elves and The Smurfs, being diminutive creatures with names that sum up their entire character, who spend their lives singing and making candy. They also have magical blood, can't grow chest hair, and haven't been seen by humans for centuries as of the start of the series.
    • A second race of elves (or elf-like creatures) were revealed to be living beneath Dreamland in "Teabeanie Falls". Unlike the elves of Elfwood, these guys have pale white skin and black eyes, and are of completely uniform appearance. The only other thing known about them yet is that the elves of Elfwood have apparently been searching for them, and they seemingly serve Queen Dagmar.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: So far only a few fairies have been seen, and only one of them has a speaking role; this unnamed Fairy is an elderly prostitute who lives in the Enchanted Forest. She's a small, winged pixie that looks like a (much older) expy of Tinkerbell.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: While ghosts haven't been seen yet, they are implied to exist due to this dialogue exchange; when Bean and Luci meet for the first time, she mistakes the demon for a "weird ghost guy", to which he retorts that "ghosts are losers that got murdered".
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: So far only one giant has been seen, a huge woman named Tess. Despite her large size and great strength, she's quick to point out that she's (psychologically) not too different from other people. Unfortunately, they are unfairly stereotyped as being dangerous, stupid brutes by humans.
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Gnomes only appear in the first episode, being at war with the ogres. They look like garden gnomes.
  • Our Gods Are Different: God himself appears in Heaven, and is the supreme divine being who created the universe. However, some dialogue implies that He may (or may not) have a brother, which could imply that there may be more deities that haven't been seen yet.
  • Our Gryphons Are Different: A single griffon has been seen. In addition to being a hybrid of lion and eagle, they're also part human — they have the hindquarters of lions; with the chests, heads, and arms of humans (they walk on their knuckles); and the wings of eagles, in addition to very beak-like noses. Furthermore, griffons have no sexual dimorphism; even the females look and sound masculine, despite laying eggs.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Mermaids apparently live on Mermaid Island off the coast of Dreamland, and are believed to be deadly sirens who sing hypnotic songs that lure men to their doom; however, it soon turns out that the enchanting siren song is actually produced by a pack of walruses from nearby Walrus Island. At the very end of Season 1 though, Elfo's lifeless body washes up on a beach, and gets taken away by two obscured women, who are later revealed to be actual mermaids in Season 2. The mermaids are quite friendly and hospitable to visitors on their island, however they like to eat corpses (they were marinating Elfo's dead body until he came back to life).
  • Our Ogres Are Hungrier: The ogres are first seen at war with the gnomes, where it looked like both sides exterminated each other. The ogres are tall, beastly humanoids wearing loincloths. A surviving ogre who later reappears even uses Hulk Speak, before correcting his own grammar. Later episodes reveal they do have a complex society; including royalty, professional soldiers, castles and towns (and most ogres can speak proper English, that other aforementioned ogre was an exception).
  • Our Orcs Are Different: While no race named "orcs" have appeared, their closest counterparts in this setting are the Bozaks (and their unseen relatives, the Borcs). They are a brutish warrior race with horns and sharp teeth. Rather atypically for this trope, they're also seafaring pirates.
  • Our Trolls Are Different: In this setting, trolls aren't physically all that dissimilar from elves. They're about the same height and overall appearance, with the only notable physical difference being that trolls can grow chest hair while elves can't. The other differences are mainly cultural: trolls will drink hard liquor, and don't like music.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Zog briefly dated Urusula, who is a "Forest Selkie". Her people are a race of shapeshifters that can change between animal and human forms at will. Ursula is normally a bear (which is her true form), but by removing her bear skin she can become a human woman.
  • Overprotective Dad:
    • The downside to being a rebellious princess is that daddy Zog tends to kill any man that Bean might want to sleep with, much to her dismay.
    • The Elf King sentences Elfo to death for having sex with his daughter, with Kissy's reaction showing this isn't remotely the first time this has happened.
  • The Plague: Dreamland is being ravaged by a deadly infectious disease epidemic, and it's treated as a very common occurrence that's just mentioned in passing. The bodies of plague victims (mostly dead, some not quite dead yet) are regularly collected by the Plague Patrol to be thrown into a mass grave and then cremated in a huge fire. Bean, Elfo, and Luci were once mistakenly thrown into the Plague Pit after they passed out drunk on the street.
  • Redshirt Army: The Knights of the Zog Table. Aside from Pendergast, Turbish, and Mertz (these three seem to be wearing protective Plot Armor at all times), the other knights are not so lucky. Every time that Pendergast and his men go on a quest, at least one of them dies in a humiliating manner. It's probably best summed up by this line from "The Limits of Immortality":
  • The Reveal:
    • Elfo is not a full-blooded elf. His father eventually reveals that Elfo is a hybrid that he had conceived with a non-elf mother, however Elfo runs out of time before he can learn exactly who (or what) his mom was. And according to some additional information provided by Elfo's father, his mother may (possibly) be deceased, though there are hints that she might be alive (and may even be an ogress).
    • Queen Dagmar is the center of multiple reveals in the last two episodes of Season 1, along with the first episode of Season 2.
      • The memorial statue of her likeness that Zog and Bean use to mourn her? It's actually the real Dagmar herself after being turned into stone. Zog reveals to Bean that Dagmar had drank some enchanted wine that was meant for him, because a younger Bean had unwittingly switched their drinks around.
      • After Bean resurrects Dagmar with the Elixir of Life, it soon turns out that there were a few more secrets that even Zog was totally unaware of (until now). Dagmar was really Evil All Along and secretly plotted to betray her husband; she was the one who spiked the wine with a potion, only failing because Bean accidentally swapped their drinks. Now that she's back, Dagmar is free to backstab Zog again (in a much grander way), and continue her mysterious schemes to manipulate Bean.
      • It eventually turns out that Dagmar is a native of the distant kingdom of Maru. Her siblings are Emperor Cloyd, Becky the Enchantress, and Jerry, all part of the local royal family. And it turns out that she conceived Bean with Zog just for the sake of forcing her daughter to fulfill some crazy "prophecy" that involves screwing a metal crown with sharp bolts into Bean's head. Oh, and Dagmar also murdered her own parents, presumably as the result of a family history of mental illness.
    • That weird secret society / crazy sex cult that Odval, Sorcerio, and the Arch-Druidess are members of? Their ultimate goal was to remove King Zog from power and replace him with Derek, whom they wish to manipulate as a Puppet King. It's also heavily implied that Odval was aware of, if not complicit in, a failed assassination plot against Zog by Sky Gunderson (a spy from Steamland). Whatever the hell is going on, Odval and Dagmar have both been running their own (most likely separate) anti-Zog conspiracies in total secrecy.
  • Running Gag:
    • Jokes about Bean's buck teeth.
    • People mistaking Luci for a weird cat.
    • Elves being named after a defining personality trait, ending with "-o."
  • Skyscraper City: Steamland is a somewhat downplayed example by science fiction standards. But given the Medieval European Fantasy nature of Dreamland and most of the other cities/countries shown, Steamland really stands out as a city of very tall buildings with multi-level streets; creating a Layered Metropolis where many people use assorted motorized vehicles, flying machines, and public transportation to get around in.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: Slides between Level 2 & 3 in the first season.
    • Level 1:
      • There is a touch of Negative Continuity regarding Elfo and his personality. The first episode establishes him as a 'horny rebel' who doesn't care about his duties on the production line and just wants to bang the daughter of the town leader. He fits in so badly that he is sentenced to death by hanging and then after that fails he leaves even after they offer to wipe his slate clean if he remains. By the middle of the season he's turned into a highly awkward virgin nerd type who is painfully infatuated with Bean to the point where he invents a Girlfriend in Canada to distract Bean from asking questions about his feelings.
      • "Faster Princess! Kill! Kill!" ends with Zog telling Bean that he's proud of her, with the two of them sarcastically quipping about how she's obviously too rebellious and independent to care about his approval though. The very next episode, "Swamp and Circumstance", ends with him saying it again, and her response is an choked up declaration that he's never said that to her before in her entire life.
      • In "Our Bodies, Our Elves", it is revealed that the elves are very wealthy from selling candy, and that Pops used to be a traveling salesman. But previous episodes made a big deal of the plot point that, other than Leavo and Elfo, the elves never left Elfwood and kept outsiders from even knowing where Elfwood was.
    • Level 2: Respecting the Status Quo:
      • With Bean in general as she never truly 'breaks the shackles' of her upbringing as you might have been lead to believe by the trailers, she usually ends up right back at the Castle with Zog.
      • Zig-Zagged with the events "Swamp and Circumstances." Bean's "Ass" in Ambassador moment after Luci spikes her drink is pretty much forgotten for the rest of the season. Even in "Dreamland Falls," no mention is made of this when Odval helps Oona escape to avoid a possible war. And then in "Teabeanie Falls" the incident is used against Bean during her trial for witchcraft.
    • Level 3: Serialisation applies in particular to the later episodes of the first series. There are occasional appearances by characters who you might otherwise expect to have vanished after the episode that introducing them or killed them. Tying into the Level 1 characterization of him as an awkward virgin, Elfo's relationship with Kissy isn't revisited until the penultimate episode, where he thinks her new boyfriend is their child.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Much like Matt Groening's other works, it seems to be somewhere in the middle, featuring a very cynical sense of humor, but with an underlying idealistic message.
  • Soft Water: King Zog likes dropping people (especially the Jester) through a trapdoor out of his castle into the ocean below, which they (usually) survive hitting. Except when Bean does it to defeat the Land Vikings, but due to the low tide, they are killed in the process.
  • Steampunk: Season 2 introduces Steamland, a mysterious country on a distant continent with (seemingly futuristic) steampunk technology that looks like it's centuries ahead of Dreamland. Steamland is also on the cusp of Diesel Punk, as there seems to be widespread use of electricity for lighting and electrical signage. They also possess two-way voice communications over radio, which is very late steampunk or early dieselpunk.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Elfo is evidently attracted to women who are taller than he is, in particular Bean, though his one-sided crush on her has yet to develop into an actual romance.
    • This trope is also invoked in "Love's Tender Rampage" when Elfo, trying to hide his feelings for Bean, lies that he has a gigantic girlfriend, which eventually results in a random giantess named Tess being forced to date him.
    • When Elfo returns to Elfwood in "To Thine Own Elf Be True", he finds that his ex-girlfriend Kissy is now dating Shrimpo, who is noticeably shorter than both of them. When Elfo talks with his father Pops, he reveals that the fetish for "bigger women" seems to run in the family... because Elfo's mother is taller than any elf.
    • King Lorenzo and Queen Bunny of Bentwood are another example; Lorenzo is noticeably shorter than Bunny, and that is after we see him wearing some invokedimpressive platform boots.
  • Theme Naming: Major human characters, Bean herself excluded, seem to be named after various real historical figures, such as King Zog, Queen Dagmar, and Prince Merkimer (slightly altered).
  • Those Two Bad Guys:
    • Emperor Cloyd and the Enchantress, who are a Big Bad Duumvirate that are never seen apart.
    • Big Jo and Porky have shades of this too, with Elfo describing them as having a "very toxic relationship".
  • The Un-Reveal:
    • Malthus the Philosopher is about to tell Bean how he knows who she is, but Luci interrupts and makes them leave before he can.
    • We don't find out exactly what species Elfo's mother was.
  • Villain Has a Point: While Odval, Sorcerio, and the Arch-Druidess conspiring to seize control of Dreamland is a Heel move, there is no question that the royal family as a whole is incompetent at ruling. Zog has been a horrible king who is totally unable to deal with the kingdom's broken economy and widespread plague. Bean shows aptitude for diplomacy, but her alcoholism and behavior while drunk (which is frequent) makes her unreliable as a diplomat. Derek is childlike and cannot even handle public speaking.
  • Wham Episode: The last two episodes of Season 1, "To Thine Own Elf Be True" and "Dreamland Falls".
    • "To Thine Own Elf Be True": Elfo turns out to not be a true elf. He then gets shot in the back with an arrow and dies in Bean's arms. Bean passes up a chance to resurrect him in favor of her mom.
    • "Dreamland Falls": Bean's mother Dagmar turns out to be evil, turns nearly everyone in the kingdom into stone statues, and runs off with Bean to a distant land.

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