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Western Animation / Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law

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A typical Harvey Birdman day.

Who is the man in the suit?
Who is the cat with the beak?
Do you really want to feel him?
Harvey Attorney!
Habeas Corpus!
Marvey Attorney!
Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law!

Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law (2000-2007) is a comedic American animated television series created by Williams Street for Cartoon Network's [adult swim] block starring Gary Cole and Stephen Colbert.

The series follows the adventures of Harvey Birdman (Cole), now an attorney at a law firm run by his former boss, Phil Ken Sebben (Colbert) and other Hanna-Barbera characters (most notably Peter Potamus) as well as Birdman's sidekick Birdboy, now called "Peanut", who was now an ultra-competent sociopath). Their clients, in their cases, are mainly their fellow Hanna-Barbera characters, in cases that tend to address longstanding fanon theories about them (like Race Bannon and Doctor Quest being lovers, or Scooby-Doo and Shaggy being stoners). Most of Birdman's enemies from his '60s-era show turn up as opposing lawyers or even judges, most notably Large Ham Mentok the Mind Taker (John Michael Higgins) as judge and Myron Reducto (Colbert again), who turns into a frenemy of Birdman before his untimely death.

The show was arguably the break-out hit of the original batch of Adult Swim shows that debuted in 2001, but suffered mightily after the initial six episode run. The series fell victim to a massive case of Schedule Slip with huge gap between airings and only 2-3 episodes airing within a single year. The series retooled itself after the first season as well, becoming a workplace comedy instead of a law show, with the cases taking the backseat to the antics of the law firm itself. Particularly those of Phil Ken Sebben and his wacky schemes, which almost all involved humiliating and tormenting Harvey. Birdgirl (Paget Brewster) was also introduced (as Phil's daughter Judy) as Birdman's unwanted female sidekick, who while competent in the courtroom, almost married her father due to her slavish devotion to the old school rules about never revealing one's secret identity.

The reformat ultimately backfired on the show, when Colbert, whose characters were now front and center and drove most of the show's plots, suddenly dropped the show to focus full-time on The Colbert Report. This meant getting rid of Reducto and Phil Ken Sebben, who, despite being fan favorites, were ultimately killed. In the end, the show was finally cancelled. Though at the least given enough lead time so the writers could close it out properly (even getting Stephen Colbert to reprise his roles ironically).

The series received little merchandise from Adult Swim, which included figures of Sebben and the giant bear. On January 8, 2008, a game for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and Wii was also created by Capcom, which used the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game engine and had five new cases. While it got mixed reviews, its biggest criticism was being the absence of Colbert and his voice double, which forced Capcom to cast a replacement voice.

No relation to the 2014 Michael Keaton film Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), although the joke's been made. Or another bird-themed attorney with his own accomplishments.

In 2018 it was announced that the series would be having a half-hour special titled Harvey Birdman: Attorney General, which premiered at midnight on October 15, 2018. A Preview and an Ad Impeaching Phil Ken Sebben was uploaded to Youtube.

In 2019, it was announced that a spin-off (and Stealth Sequel) show is being produced and centers on Birdgirl in Birdgirl. The show aired its first episode on April 2021.

HA HA! Tropes.

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  • Achilles' Heel: Mentok's mind-taking can be blocked both by aluminum foil and by metal skull plates.
  • Actor Allusion: When the office workers mistake Phil's brother for Phil himself.
    Everyone: He's back! Phil's back! Phil's back!
    Random Employee: Stephen's back!
    • A well timed pause will reveal a bus with an ad for The Colbert Report running over Phil.
      • Before that, when Phil says he's leaving:
        Phil Ken Sebben: So, I got this tremendous opportunity! My own law firm! Might put my name in the title! Get a big S-shaped desk! Great for interviews! A spin-off, if you will!
        Harvey: So... you're leaving us?
        Phil Ken Sebben: I wouldn't say that. I'll just be extremely busy on the new show, err, firm.
        [Stephen Colbert himself can be seen in the elevator on the ride down, amongst Phil's luggage]
    • Alluded to on Colbert's show as well, after pointing out that presidential candidate Mitt Romney had a nervous "ha ha" laugh that sounded similar to Sebben's. He even held up a copy of the DVD, and did the laugh live.
  • Affectionate Parody: Of Hanna-Barbera crossover specials.
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: In-universe, Phil Ken Sebben seems to think that the moral of It's a Wonderful Life is that S&L's are sound investments, and that George Bailey was the villain.
    Phil: Didn't you see "It's a Wonderful Life?" Even that Bailey bastard couldn't screw it up!
  • Ambulance Chaser: Dr. Freezoid, one of the many supervillains-turned-lawyer Birdman faces in court is this. Since the guy freezes everything he touches, he's so shameless he'll hand out business cards to people who slip on the ice he makes.
  • Amoral Attorney: Every lawyer featured in the show is an unscrupulous shyster who will do everything in their power to win their respective cases. Outside of an acceptance for same-sex marriage, Harvey himself has almost no principles of his own and will work for anyone desperate enough to hire him.
  • Anal Probing: Phil Ken Sebben mistakenly believes The Jetsons are Greys—not time travelers—and that they're out to give him an anal probe.
    Phil: Ha! Ha! Third kind.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: The animal rights protesters that "liberate" Magilla Gorilla from Mr Peebles pet shop. Not only are they stuck up and sanctimonious, they eventually abandon Magilla when his annoying puns wear out their patience.
  • Anything That Moves: Gigi.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: The female member of Shoyu Weenie does a Serge Gainsbourg-esque number when she takes the stand.
    Mentok: Forget mind-taking, I'm taking up lip-reading.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: One scene in "Blackwatch Plaid" has Reducto try to prove to Harvey that his phone is bugged by saying terrorist buzzwords into it, before devolving into less serious things (the last one is actually accompanied by a Sting).
    Reducto: Hello. Mail bomb. Assassination. Fertilizer. Same-sex marriages. Patagonia. Nader for President.
    Phil: I always took Reducto for a Libertarian.
  • Art Evolution: Potamus went from having ordinary humanoid hands to flat hippo limbs in season 3.
    • The show went through three different art/animation styles: The pilot, which was animated by J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, Inc. in New York; then eight episodes which were outsourced to Rough Draft Korea; and finally, domestic again using Flash animators.
  • Artistic License Law: It's common to see lawsuits on the show treated like criminal cases, and the judge dismissing a suit with "Not guilty!"
  • Ascended Extra: Various characters from the original Birdman cartoon, especially Mentok, Reducto and X the Eliminator.
    • Within the show itself, Peter Potamus and to a lesser extent the bear.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Judy, aka Birdgirl, tricks Harvey's car out to be the "Birdmobile", basically Adam West's TV Batmobile except that it's bright yellow. Unfortunately, firing the rocket thruster moves the car about a foot before draining the gas tank, and the open cockpit means the occupants get soaked when it immediately starts raining.
  • Back from the Dead: Phil Ken Sebben. "Ha HA! Final episode stunt casting!"
  • Battle Discretion Shot: In "Very Personal Injury", Harvey Birdman shows various clips of Apache Chief thwarting evil, except the video footage only shows various spectators commenting on the heroic feats; Apache isn't on-camera. In one instance, the camera focuses on a dog licking himself instead of Apache Chief.
    Birdman: ...It's on here, right?
  • Beam-O-War: "Get ready to feel the power... OF ATTORNEY!"
  • Berserk Button: Don't let Peter Potamus find out you got that thing he sent you without telling him. Later in the series, he even goes so far as to turn into the "Incredible Hippo" due to his frustration over opening a little mustard pack.
    • Mentok isn't too fond of other people using mental powers in his court.
    • Don't let Reducto see "the perfectly miniature" Inch High Private Eye.
  • BFG: Parodied with X's death ray, which is far too big and unwieldy to be used practically. (There's also the fact that it's a giant console that he drags around with him.)
  • Big Brother Is Watching: "Blackwatch Plaid" has Phil install cameras and blatantly spy on everyone in the office after someone apparently steals all of the (non-existent) things from his office.
  • Big Eater: Peter Potamus.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Birdteam save the town, and possibly the world, but Harvey is killed in a literal bus crash.
  • Boring, but Practical: Potamus is considered to be one of the firm's best lawyers due to his high influx of clients. From what is seen of his style of delegation in "Harvey's Civvy", this is made possible by his preference to settle matters outside of court for quick, if sketchy, resolutions.
  • Bottle Episode: "Blackwatch Plaid"
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Among Sebben & Sebben's products are flavored breast milk, LSD, breast milk flavored LSD, textiles, tiles, and text.
  • Break the Cutie: Harvey Birdman is the poster child for this trope, especially after the retool.
  • Brick Joke: Reducto running and screaming like a mad man to something that freaked him out earlier in the episode.
    • The Deadomutt two-parter has a particularly cruel one: Harvey mentions off-handedly that he's thirty-six when Phil asks him how old he is and what he's achieved in his life. Cut to the end of the two-parter, where Birdman has spent five years in jail for apparently murdering Dynomutt, and it's revealed that it was a big prank for Birdman's fortieth birthday.
    • During his job interview, Peanut claims to have worked in a "baltimization" plant. Much later, the Sebben & Sebben Employee Orientation Video lists baltimization as one of the company's products.
    • In "Very Personal Injury", after Apache Chief destroys another planet (by batting a meteor back out into space), a flaming hockey stick falls from the sky. Three seasons later, in "Mindless", another one falls. It must have been floating through space all that time...
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Peter Potamus. He's perverted and lazy to operatic heights, but the few times we actually see him lawyering, he's amazing. (Consider the following: when Phil claims that 'chairs are for earners', it cuts to Potamus surrounded by chairs.)
    • Judy works very hard to become one on purpose.
    • One could argue this is Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Series. Which cannot be underlined enough. Many of the characters perform their jobs in a professional manner in spite of their eccentricities. They consult experts if needed, and often try to settle things outside of court which is how real life lawyers operates.
  • But I Digress: In "Bannon Custody Case":
    Dr. Quest: I treasure them [my sons]. I love them dearly. And when I'm not working on my projects... like a way of accelerating particles to sub-atomic speed, using just magnets for instance-
    Harvey: Thank you, Dr. Quest-
    Dr. Quest: ...To create aberrant wave forms, constant rate-
    Harvey: Nothing further!
    Dr. Quest: ...Resulting in a sum which surprisingly equals the mass of the atom! And separating them by weight, we should see... [transforms into Doug Henning] magic!
    Mightor: Shut up, you weirdo.
  • Butt-Monkey: Harvey, in some episodes.
    • Hell, in the Sopranos opening parody in "The Dabba Don", he had fifth billing. Peanut got higher billing than him.
  • Camera Abuse: In "X Gets The Crest", Reducto, while firing wildly trying to shrink Ricochet Rabbit (It Makes Sense in Context), manages to hit and apparently destroy the camera.
    • At the end of one episode, Harvey's dramatic running ends with him crashing face first into the camera.
    • In-universe, there's the moment Harvey finally spots the humongous camera on the wall through which X has been watching him (apparently for several years). It switches to the camera POV as Harvey blasts it with his energy beam.
  • Camp Straight: Peanut, through all his effeminate mannerisms and pink sweater vests, is not only straight, but quite the player.
  • Catchphrase: Many. The Season 3 DVD has a feature that lists all the common gags and plays all occurrence when selected. Also an excellent example of playing with a trope, as there is a lot of humor derived from altering or recontextualizing the catch phrases. As an example, Peter Potamus' catch phrase is, "Did you get that thing I sent ya'?", one episode has him worshipped as a god named "Sentcha", and another has a scene where Harvey makes him cry by saying he's never received any of the things Potamus sent him.
    • Also,
      Phil: Ha ha! Double entendre!
    • Not there, there!
    • "In my/your/his pants..."
    • I'LL take the case!
    • Back off!
    • Mind Taker. Beeoooo-wwweeeeeeoooo~
    • Crest on Birdman's helmet!
    • Deedle-eedle-ee.
    • *zips-up pants*
    • That's Mind Taking, baby!
    • In the first season, "That's a man-kiss."
  • Cliffhanger: First part of two-parter "Deadomutt" was originally supposed to be last episode of first season, hoping it would influence [adult swim] to pick them up for second season. However they weren't thrilled at all and demanded a conclusive ending for the last episode, forcing Michael Ouweleen and Erik Richter to write a new script in panic. The resulting episode, "The Dabba Don", ended up being one of the best episodes of the whole series, and they got their pickup anyway, with Deadomutt pushed into the new season.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: A good portion of the characters, but especially Phil Ken Sebben.
    • Oh, and Peanut.
      • Who's feeling Peanutty?"
        Peanut: Who's getting made?
        Birdman: What?
        Peanut: So, what, you don't think they're going to open the books for me?
        Birdman: Why does it always feel like we're having two different conversations?
        Peanut: Let me tell you one thing, Petroni. When Peanut comes heavy, he comes HARD.
        Birdman: Ah, much better.
    • And of course, Judy Ken Sebben, aka Birdgirl. It runs in the family.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Phil Ken Sebben and Peanut.
    Peanut: In America, it is customary to celebrate business deals by blowing things up.
  • Company Cameo: A minor Running Gag is that whenever conglomerates are mentioned, a small business sign is displayed with the line "An AOL Time Warner Co".
  • Continuity Nod: In "Gone Effiecien...t", Phil threatens to take Harvey's furniture away if his performance doesn't improve, using the line, "Chairs are for earners." In "Sebben and Sebben Employee Orientation", when the perks of working for Sebben and Sebben are listed, one of them is "Chairs (for earners)".
  • Dark Parody: It shows Hanna-Barbera characters in dark situations.
  • Demoted to Extra: Mighty Mightor was originally the judge presiding over most of Harvey's cases until Mentok is introduced, at which point his role in the series quickly diminished.
  • Dented Iron: The worn-out, painkiller-addicted stuntman Ernie Devlin. He's a tough bastard, but his decades of daredevil stunts has taken a serious toll on him.
  • Department of Redundancy Department, Meaningless Meaningful Words: The Sebben & Sebben mission statement:
    "Putting clients first by putting employees first, immediately after prioritizing fiscal responsibilities and leveraging profitability towards exceeding by empowering our employees to put clients (and themselves) first, in a diverse and respectful environment of only those that come first, first."
  • Disability Immunity: Ernie Devlin is immune to Mentok's telepathy on account of a metal plate in his skull, which he got after a failed stunt jump.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • Judy/Birdgirl has a tendency to distract most male characters this way without meaning to.
    • In "Harvey's Civvie", Potamus fails to put forth much of a defense because he's too busy ogling the curvaceous court recorder.
      Potamus: Check out the ha-has on Miss Steno-pad...
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Frequently, particularly any episode involving Apache Chief.
  • Domestic-Only Cartoon: The pilot by J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, Inc., and episodes 10 to the end (done in Flash).
  • Double Entendre: Phil Ken Sebben just loves these, preceding each one with a hearty "Ha! HA!"
    Phil: Ha ha! Multiple entendre!
    Phil: Roll of quarters... Wait, that's not a roll of...
    • "Deedle-deedle-ee."
    • "Blackwatch Plaid" is jam packed with these whenever Secret Squirrel and his accusations of flashing are involved. A few are even lampshaded during Harvey's defense speech, when Mentok starts yelling "I'll say!" whenever he says one.
    • The case in "SPF" is about Hanna Barbera characters' names being used for porn sites.
      Harvey: And, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, there are more. Many more. I give you: Big Duke... Bigger Duke... Kwicky... Schnooker... The Magic Rabbit... Fluid Man...
      Peanut: That would be eww.
      Harvey: Dirty Dog... Mother Load... and Galtar.
      Courtroom: Huh?
      Harvey: ... and his Golden Lance. [Galtar's lance rises]
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Reducto is absent in the last few episodes. As far as anyone can tell, he died when he was hit by that clown car.
    • They compacted him. Inch High was at the funeral.
    • Harvey also died in this manner in the series finale.
  • The Eeyore: Droopy Dog.
  • Enhance Button: Parodied in "Blackwatch Plaid":
    Phil Ken Sebben: Enhance! Contrast! Tint! Bright! Sleep mode! Vertical hold!
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even the Deadly Duplicator can't stand $28 chimichangas!
    • Phil has no intention of shooting a baby dinosaur and looks appalled when Cheney raises his gun at it.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Parodied. People will laugh at the end of an episode for absolutely no/very little reason... except at the one when Scrappy was taken away to be eaten by Avenger.
  • Expy: Mentok's father is an expy of both Marlon Brando and Jor-el.
  • Extra-Long Episode: The last episode is 22 minutes as opposed to the usual 11.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Maybe. It does not help that Phil's uncovered eye isn't particularly good either.
  • Flanderization: Peter Potamus' first lines were "You get that thing I sent you?" As he turned into a major cast member, this phrase became a significant part of his characterization.
  • Flying Firepower: Birdman can fly and shoot some kind of energy beam. Also, he's solar powered.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Done by Phil about his death, complete with lampshade. "Ha ha ha! Foreshadowing."
    • Also done more subtly by the doctor in SPF, telling Harvey that some day he will die. Maybe from the sun, maybe not tomorrow, but some day! Probably painfully, too. Doubles as a Visual Pun, as you can see the doctor take out his golf clubs and go for a walk outside after telling Harvey to shade himself. (Get it? Fore-Shadowing? Come on, now.)
  • Forgot I Could Fly: Harvey, while contemplating a way to break out of prison and watching birds. He remembers in the finale.
    • The trust fall was also high enough off the ground that Harvey's ability to fly should have made the window a non-issue.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Often. It was even lampshaded in the episode "Free Magilla", with a parodic list of side-effects for a medication, which scroll by very fast and end with, "You are very fast with the pause button. Congratulations."
    • Doubles as a Visual Pun. In the opening sequence, if you pause right after "Who is the man in the suit?," RAY RANDALL in huge letters can be seen for a split second behind Birdman's silhouette. Ray Randall is Birdman's secret alter-ego in the original series, and is thus, the man in the suit.
      • Doubles as a Mythology Gag. In one episode, Birdman's mugshot reveals his full name, "Harvey R.R. Birdman," implying that this is the same Birdman from the original series.
    • "X the Eliminator's" death ray console, along with the Vice Ray, has a Freeze Ray, a Just Okay Ray, a Hip Hop Hoo Ray, and a Randall, Ray.
    • Doubles as a Gag Censor. In an episode where Harvey goes to prison, he is forced to be hosed off naked. In a freeze frame shot, what seems to be pubic hair covering his crotch is actually Phil's head.
    • In one episode, Phil loses his eyepatch in a game of gin, and a few jokes are made about the now-visible eye being disgusting (even though the viewer can't see it). Freeze frame in one quick shot of him walking towards the camera reveals Inch-High PI, in an otherwise empty eye-socket.
    • Birdgirl's Birdray console in "Grodin" flashes various messages throughout its startup sequence, including "Welcome Judy Ken Sebben, uh, I mean Birdgirl" and "If you are reading this, you have way too much free time". A true freeze-frame bonus, since they're not just displayed for fractions of a second but also mirrored.
  • Friendly Scheming: Exaggerated in "Deadomutt": Harvey is falsely accused of murder, sentenced to death and spends 5 years in jail... and all of this is just pretext to a surprise birthday party.
  • Fruit Cart: After Harvey is distracted by Birdgirl's short skirt, he accelerates away while still looking at her. There is an offscreen crash and bananas fly into the frame.
  • Funny Background Event: Avenger flying/dragging off various things in Harvey's office behind everyone's backs, including a copier, in "Free Magilla".
  • Fun Size: Reducto's constant threats to shrink his enemies ("I'll make you fun-sized!") named this trope.
  • Furry Confusion: Having characters from old Hanna-Barbera cartoons means there's plenty of talking animals around, however also plenty of non-talking ones. They're all still considered as just animals under the law however, which is played for black humour, with one fully sapient dog being forced to go through "obedience training" (aka, being tortured and brainwashed by Sebben until he behaves like an actual dog), and the similarly sapient Top Cat being neutered at an animal shelter.

  • Gag Penis: Inch High, Private Eye.
    Phil: Ha ha! [shakes head sadly] Not to scale...
    • Apache Chief apparently qualifies as well.
  • Gender Bender: Phil of all people, though it was only a Spoof Aesop about plastic surgery.
  • George Jetson Job Security: "And you're fired!"
  • Global Warming: The Jetsons-centric episode dealt with the results of Earth's temperature increase and pollution that resulted in the majority of humans living in the sky by the future year of 2002, which by the episode's airing was two years in the past. Sadly, the Jetsons not only lost their lawsuit against the present, but the episode also ended with an entire city flooded from the rising sea levels that accelerated as a result.
  • G-Rated Drug: The tanning crème in "SPF". With Peanut playing the part of drug dealer:
    Peanut: First taste is always free, with P to the N-U-T.
  • Green Aesop: "Back To The Present" is about the entire present time's lack of concern towards rising sea levels from pollution and the Jetson family's lawsuit against them for letting it get so bad that even their cities in the sky get flooded.
  • Greeting Gesture Confusion: When Harvey meets with Apache Chief, Chief moves to shake Harvey's hand... which Harvey turns into an overly elaborate awkward... thing... in an attempt to seem spiritual to Chief.
  • Groin Attack:
    • One of the few times Harvey uses his beam attack, it's straight into Reducto's crotch for shrinking him in the middle of an oral argument — and doesn't skip a beat. Reducto gives up and returns Harvey to normal size.
    • In "Harvey's Civvy", Harvey is so excited at winning that he accidentally blasts Peter Potamus in the crotch.
      Potamus: My leg! My third leg!
    • Inverted when X captures Harvey using his console and tries to drain his solar energy, only for Avenger to reverse the ray... right into Birdman's crotch. It glows for the rest of the episode.
    • Also, any episode involving Apache Chief.
      Apache Chief: (when he wasn't the victim for once) Doesn't feel so great, does it?
  • Hanging Judge: "Let's convict ourselves a bear!"
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Minor example. Peter Potamus (a hippo) once mentions there being 'changes astump' at the firm.
  • Hollywood Law: Obviously this is fairly common, but surprisingly averted more often than you'd expect. The Youtube channel LegalEagle reviewed the first episode, and found that some of the goofy moments could reasonably happen in a custody case.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Azul Falcone, a spanish version of Blue Falcon, is introduced as partner at the law firm. After his first appearance he slides down the firm's pecking order until he is a mere bathroom attendant.
  • Ho Yay: In-Universe, in the episode "Juror In Court", Peter Potamus' copy of Kama Sutra for Dum-Dums shows Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Louie in the "cowgirl" position.
  • Identity Amnesia: Spoofed with Fred Flinstone, who becomes a mob boss after a bowling ball to the head and has to be defended by Harvey. Harvey, by pointing that Fred has a rather long history of assuming different personalities after getting hit in the head with bowling balls, manages to get him off on an insanity plea.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: Scene changes are marked by a quick shot of a gavel banging, or briefcase opening, etc on a brightly-colored background.
    • Woo-Ka!
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: One episode revolves around Harvey's decision to quit superheroics and go into law, which was made up entirely of animation from the original Birdman. It's revealed that he got sick of the constant stress of being a superhero and decided he wanted a normal life.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: The Jetsons arrive in Birdman's office, but have to walk to his desk, as there is no conveyor belt. Eventually, Astro collapses during the trek, saying "Ro rold, ro rold..."
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: Parodied when X reveals he knows too much:
    Harvey: How did you find out about that?
    X: Oh, I have my ways.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: X The Eliminator is so pathetic and inept its hard not to feel sorry for him.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: In "The Incredible Hippo", Judy really doesn't seem to realize that doing yoga in front of Potamus isn't exactly lowering his blood pressure.
    Judy: Legs off the wall pose! Intense spread leg stretch! Beaver pose!!
  • Insanity Defense:
    • Harvey tried to use this to get Devlin off (the first time). He forgot this was a lawsuit trial.
    • Arguably used earlier when he argued that Fred Flintstone was not guilty of violating the RICO Act because he had Identity Amnesia. This one, he was more successful. Then it turns out Fred never was the mob boss, Barney was.
  • Instrument of Murder: Quick Draw McGraw's "El Kabong" guitar.
  • Insufferable Genius: Spyro, Mentok. Lampshaded when Harvey tries to make small talk with Spyro, and quickly understands why none of Spyro's school buddies kept in touch.
  • Is That a Threat?: In "The Dabba Don", after Thundarr unsuccessfully tries to bribe Mightor into dismissing the case against Fred Flintstone, he warns bad things might happen. They're on a golf course at the time:
    Thundarr: Club like this could do some damage, huh, judge?
    Mightor: Is that a threat?!
    Thundarr: Just making sure you know the rules of the game, is all.
  • Kangaroo Court: "Deadomutt Part 2" has the title character as the defendant in said trial. When the man whose dog he's accused of killing is his defense attorney, it was never going to be a fair trial. It didn't help that the judge overruled the jury's 'not guilty' verdict simply because he had predicted a guilty verdict and he can't be wrong because he's Mentok the Mindtaker (ooo-eee-ooo). An appeal might have given Harvey a fairer trial, but it was denied. Then he found out everything — the 'murder', the trial, the five years he spent in prison- was all a practical joke everyone played for his fortieth birthday. The only thing that actually happened? Harvey's prison marriage to Magilla Gorilla.
  • Kavorka Man: Potamus.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: Peanut is trapped in a genie's lamp with a woman. He says they're going to go on a "magic carpet ride" and asks her to hand over a roll of nearby rope. Later on, when said genie releases his captives, Peanut appears with the woman tied to a giant target, having apparently been doing such an act the whole time.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In the last episode, the judge FINALLY figures out that every trial since the start of the series has had the same jurors. Since this is illegal in the real world, the judge has to throw out all of the cases Harvey did (except the first?)
  • Large Ham: Mentok the Mind Taker, when he's not being a Deadpan Snarker.
    • Not to mention X! the Eliminatorrrrrrr! When he's not being a clingy Harvey-stalker.
    • And Spyro, who is apparently an actual actor, is overly theatrical in and out of court, at one point staging a scene from Pagliacci while prosecuting a mob boss.
    • Lest we forget Birdgirl, who is usually the most vocal and eager member of what she, and she alone, calls the "Birdteam". Also... her inner monologues about her secret identity are not so inner, and tend to actually end up being broadcasted to everyone. Over a loudspeaker. Or on the Jumbotron at a sports game.
    • "I am SHADOOOOOOO The Brain Thief!"
    • Also, Vulturo, another bird-themed lawyer, who always initially comes across as a Wicked Cultured aristocrat, but eventually degenerates into mwoh hohn hon hnyaaaaaooonn...
  • Late to the Realization: Phil is the very last person to realize that Birdgirl, who he had been hitting on since her introduction to the show, was actually his daughter.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • One scene in "Blackwatch Plaid" has Phil announce to the company that one of his new security measures is to install a news ticker in the lunchroom. Cut to the next scene in the lunchroom, where there's now a news ticker on the bottom of the screen, which even sticks around to the courtroom scene afterwards, with Mentok trying to read off of it for a few seconds before finally turning it off.
    • During Mentok's first appearance he makes hypnotizing gestures and vocalizations (ooo-weee-ooo) seemingly directly into the camera for a few seconds before giving it up.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: The Series Finale where Birdman actually gets to have heroic moments.
  • Lost in Transmission: The "Sebben & Sebben New Employee Orientation / Juicer Instruction" video.

  • Male Gaze: When Harvey is trying to get Birdgirl off his back, he drops her off at her house. She gets out of the car in a manner which Birdman can't help but notice.
    Birdman: Now you stay out of my office until you're all grown u- [sees her skintight costume as she's exiting] uh, uh, gone to LAW SCHOOL, you!
    • When Judy demonstrates yoga poses for Potamus, it's just a series of Male Gaze moments.
  • Match Cut: In the new employee training episode, a shot of a helicopter fading into a shot of Phil Ken Sebben with a similarly shaped pipe in his mouth.
  • Me's a Crowd: Done in one episode by the Deadly Duplicator.
  • Meta Twist: Prior to the final episode airing, it was announced that said episode would be a single half-hour episode instead of two fifteen-minute episodes. They advertised an ending in which the viewer wouldn't believe that it's the ending. It was a regular fifteen-minute episode.
  • Maurice LaMarche: Various guest characters.
  • Medium Blending: The show will occasionally throw in a short live-action scene. DVD commentary on "Blackwatch Plaid" (which combines this with Stock Footage ) reveals this was actually a convenient way to save money, as Turner has access to mascot costumes of practically every Hanna-Barbera character. Even forgotten characters like Birdman himself.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The episode "Turner Classic Birdman", which is in the style of a classic Birdman episode. Introduced by Turner Classic Movies' Robert Osbourne.
    • In "X the Exterminator" Harvey recalls the exultant "Birrrrrrrrrdman!" shout of the old Birdman show... after taking a dump.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Apache Chief batting away an approaching meteor in "Very Personal Injury":
    Apache Chief: that fireball won't be hurting anyone now.
    [cut to a scene of an alien celebration of "One Million Years of Civilization" being interrupted by an incoming meteor]
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Caricatures of George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Antonin Scalia appear as extras in a few blink-and-you'll-miss-it scenes and (then-future) President Barack Obama is often a juror.
  • No Indoor Voice: Mentok and Phil Ken Sebben.
    • Shado, the Brain Thief has no indoor monologue. Everything he thinks is broadcast like a reverberating PA system cranked up to eleven. This results in everyone covering their ears in an attempt to quiet the noise (even though it's being spoken directly to their heads), and at one point, a custodian even takes a broom and starts poking an actual PA system, thinking that's where it's coming from.
  • Noodle Incident : In "Shaggy Busted", Harvey walks by George Jetson in jail, who tells the rest of the family, "Daddy's gonna home real soon." What did Jetson do to land in jail?
  • Oh, Cisco!: Every episode ends like this.
  • Omnidisciplinary Lawyer: Harvey will take the case. Any case. From criminal defense to setting up a business to civil defense to being the plaintiff. There seems to be a slight bit of specification with the other lawyers (Freezoid is explicitly an excellent criminal defense attorney, but even he is shown representing people in civil suits).
  • Only Sane Man: Poor Harvey.
  • Parental Incest: Phil is overwhelmingly attracted to Birdgirl. He is apparently the only person in the world that doesn't know she's his daughter. Birdgirl, always a slave to the Superhero Sidekick Code of Conduct, is willing to marry him in order to maintain her secret identity. Thankfully, Phil finds someone else he's more attracted to before the marriage can go through: Aunt Phillis. He figures it out in the final episode and promptly accuses Judy of deliberately hitting on him.
  • Pet the Dog: For all the abuse he heaps on Harvey, Phil still calls upon him to defend against a lawsuit.
    Phil: And if we lose, it'll be you and me, Birdman, against the world.
    Harvey: Yes!!
    Phil: Two heavily armed men in a bunker, fighting extradition.
    Harvey: Oh.
  • Phony Degree: Birdman's law degree came from a diploma mill. He lambasts Birdgirl for getting one this way.
  • The Plan: Mentok. Especially with Shado in the episode Harvey's Civvy, but really pretty much anything he does.
    • "That's mind-taking, baby!"
      • "Accept no substitutes!"
  • Politicians Kiss Babies: In the episode "Guitar Control", Phil tries this during one of his Presidential Election contest rallies, but mixes things up a bit.
    Shake hand, kiss baby, shake hand, kiss baby, shake hand, shake baby, kiss hand, shake baby, kiss hand...
  • Potty Emergency: One of the plot lines in "X, The Exterminator" is Harvey desperately trying to get some alone time in the "little Harv's room" after overeating.
    Harvey: (moaning) Now I know why they call them sloppy joes...
  • Power High: Harvey, who gets his power from sunlight, discovers that suntan lotion can provide the same effect. He quickly becomes addicted to the rush, and starts spending all his money on lotion, until his friends are forced to stage an intervention.
    • Peanut shooting off his beams in the bathroom.
  • Power Perversion Potential:
  • Psychic Powers:
    • Mind Taking, baby! Booo-WEE-oooh!
    • Also "Shadoooooo! The Brain Th..."
      "Oh no you don't. No "brain thieving" in my courtroom, you understand? This is mind taking country, partner. You got it? Good."
  • Pun: In "Shaggy Busted":
    Shaggy: Hey Scooby, I just realized: Scooby, Dooby, Doo!
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Many of the villains in this series live their lives as if their villainy is part of their daily jobs. Most of the time it actually is.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: In one episode, Potamus has to represent Harvey in court. He starts giving a speech to the jury and focus on one them in particular. It heavily suggests blackmail.
    "Let me ask you one thing: Did you. Get that. Thing I. Sent'ya!?"
  • Really Gets Around: Gigi, AKA Gravity Girl from the original series. With everyone but Harvey.
  • Reference Overdosed: Too many Shout Outs to count, and more than just the obvious ones covered by Crossover. Just about every scene contains a reference to something else, be it other shows (an Actor Allusion ad for The Colbert Report), movies (Harvey reenacting the dance scene from Beauty and the Beast), politics ("Guitar Control") or recent (Boo-Boo Bear as Elián González) or historical (Magilla Gorilla as Patty Hearst) events.
  • Running Gag: "Cookies/noses on dowels", "In your pants", "Snackerdoodle?", "Did you get that thing I sent ya?", Phil's poor vision, etc. There is also surprisingly a lot of visual running gags too.
    • ...I think.
    • Huh. I wonder what that means?
    • Did... did a lobster just fly past?
    • Ha ha! Double entendre!
    • I couldn't hear that, with the one eye!
    • Every time a wall is knocked down, or a door unexpectedly opened, or anything like that, Peter Potamus is there with a woman. "What the — ?"
    • Scrappy's corpse pops up every so often in scenes after the episode he briefly appeared before being killed by Avenger.

  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: BEUOOOOWEEEEUOOOOOOOOOO!
    • In the pilot, when Dr. Quest says he says baseball isn't as important as doing hard work to make things more decent, Vulturo replies: "More decent than baseball?! Dun dun dunnnnnn! Nothing further!
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Spoofed. The Jetsons claim to be from the "far off year of 2002", while Harvey just nonchalantly looks to a calendar marked "2004".
  • Self-Serving Memory: At the end of one episode, Harvey has a flashback of a scene at the beginning of the episode, except the scene looks incredibly different, with characters present that weren't there the first time and elements that don't even seem possible such as a scuba diver floating in the middle of the room.
  • Serial Escalation: The terror threat level chart in "Blackwatch Plaid". At first, it's just a five-level Green/Yellow/Red/Polka Dot/Plaid chart. Later in the episode, the threat level gets so high that it has to be raised even BLACKWATCH PLAID! Eventually, the threat level gets raised even the cover of Rush's seminal album Moving Pictures.
  • Serial Numbers Filed Off:invoked Parodied in "Identity Theft", when Harvey points out how many cartoons followed the mold of Scooby-Doo, complete with barely altered characters.
  • Series Continuity Error: While the show does generally run on Rule of Funny, one scene in the first episode contained two of them. When Harvey visits the jail numerous convicts shout angrily at him for incompetently representing them, and we see George Jetson as an inmate. In the final episode Harvey is forced to retry every case of his career, and no cases prior to the series are shown. Furthermore, the Jetsons come back from the "future" in a different episode.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "The Dabba Don" is basically one episode long shout out to The Sopranos, with Fred Flintstone as the stand-in for Tony Soprano, though there are also a couple of refences to The Godfather mixed in there as well.
    • One episode has Reducto playing a Moby-Dick fighting game.
    • The scene in "Unabooboo", where Harvey uses his typewriter and discovers that it matches the writing of the Unabomber-esque notes, is adapted almost scene for scene from 80's Jagged Edge.
  • Signature Laugh: Phil's "Ha ha! Double entendre!"
  • Skewed Priorities: In Birdgirl's introduction, her bumbling nearly kills Ernie Devlin, who had called Harvey to dictate a will. Birdman criticizes her for nearly killing Devlin... before any billable services could be rendered.
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You: Harvey is the only person Gigi isn't eager to make out with/screw.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Apache Chief
    • Harvey, too, in "Shoyu Weenie."
  • Spell My Name with an S: Elliott Taggart, the Deadly Duplicator. That's two L's and two T's!
  • Staging an Intervention: Harvey gets one when he gets addicted to tanning creme. Among the people staging this include Phil (who has a bunch of cigarettes in his mouth) and X (who has a gambling addiction).
  • Stating the Simple Solution: When the Deadly Duplicator, now working in a printing office, complains about his nametag:
    Elliott: They made a mistake on the tag, and I had to send out for a new one!
    Harvey: Wait, isn't that the sort of thing you do—
    Elliott: [dramatic chord] SILENCE.
  • Stealth Pun: At the end of SPF:
    Peanut: Wait a minute... that's not a mole! It's gravy! [tastes it] No, it's chocolate. No, it's gravy.note 
  • Stock Footage: The vast majority of "Blackwatch Plaid" is made up of recycled footage from earlier episodes, most notably "Deadomutt".
    • "Turner Classic Birdman" contains many old Birdman and the Galaxy Trio clips with new dialog.
  • Stylistic Suck: The theme song suffers from Incredibly Long Notes and non-descript or not easily understood lyrics and it just sounds plain cheesy.
    Whoooooooo is the man in the suuuuuuuuuui... t?
    Whooooooooo is the cat with the beaaaaaaak?
    Do you really want to feel him?
    Harvey attorney,
    Habeas corpus,
    Marveynote  attorney!
    Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Laaaaaaaawwww...
  • Subverted Kids' Show: Along with Space Ghost Coast to Coast this was one of the first shows based on Hanna-Barbera characters being aimed at adults, showing characters like the Jetsons and Scooby Doo being involved in adult situations.
  • Take That!:
    • Blackwatch Plaid is pretty much a satire of the US' draconian post-9/11 national security practices (especially the color-coded chart that the episode is named after.)
    • In "Birdgirl of Guantanamole", Reducto, voiced by Stephen Colbert, includes friend and fellow comedian Jon Stewart in a conspiracy diagram. "He's a tiny little man..."
    • The "Attorney General" special takes shots at the 2016 presidential election and Donald Trump. Specifically, it depicts Jill Stein and the Green Party as just being a bunch of stuck-up socialites that don't actually seem interested in taking office and are just doing it to look good, Phil's administration trying to keep him from tweeting (a common criticism of Trump), and Phil being a Manchild who is completely inept at being president.
  • Technology Marches On:
    • Invoked and spoofed with X's death ray, which is a button-covered, desk-sized console that uses vacuum tubes and takes half a minute to charge up (once X can find an electric outlet) before firing (or a vacuum tube blows out) that he nonetheless treats as a portable weapon. Understandable as it was created for the original series back in the '70s.
    • Spoofed when The Jetsons (from the far off year of 2002) try to sue the present (which by the time of the episode was 2004). George convinces the court room that a punch card reading "Jury-Vac" computer is more efficient and reliable than an actual jury. There's also a scene where he shows off one of the technological marvels allowed by their society's reliance on sprockets - a cell phone bigger than he is. On cue, Peanut takes a call on his own pocket-sized phone.
    • Presumably deliberately with the DVDs that Mr Peebles (...ssssssssssssssssssss) receives in "Free Magilla". They're inserted into and played on a VCR. Complete with segments that have been recorded over.
  • Tinfoil Hat: A variation - the police officers sent to apprehend Mentok are wearing helmets lined with aluminium, which Mentok's telepathic powers can't penetrate. He also can't affect Ernie Devlin, who has a metal plate in his skull from one of his many stunt accidents.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: The last episode is titled "The Death of Harvey Birdman".
  • Trust-Building Blunder: Phil tries to do a trust fall with Birdman, but his impaired vision (or deliberate screwing with his employee) has him position Birdman by an open window while Phil is standing several feet to the side. Phil gets increasingly insistent as Birdman fails to comply with the exercise.
    Phil: Fall, you bastard!
  • The Unintelligible: Vulturo's line of questioning towards Doctor Quest quickly devolves into gibberish mumbling. His dialogue always turns out like this when he has to speak for any length of time.
  • The Unreveal: How Phil Ken Sebben lost his eye, in "Sebben & Sebben Employee Orientation". The closest explanation we get apparently turns out to be for a scar that he grew his mustache to cover up.
  • Unsound Effect: Birdgirl has done this, Batman-style, on at least one occasion.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • In "Evolutionary War", Birdman calls Magilla Gorilla to the stand to prove the "missing link" between simian and human (and thus, evolution). Birdman wants the jury to be amazed at a talking gorilla, but the most reaction he gets is a disinterested shoulder shrug and "Eh." from a juror.
    • In "X The Eliminator", Peanut sits reading a magazine and looking on passively while Harvey is trapped by a "vice ray".
    • Earlier in the episode, Harvey, running for the bathroom, tells Peanut "Cover me," not seeming to notice Peanut holding a cheerleader over his head.
  • Waxing Lyrical:
    Quick Draw McGraw: I'm a sheriff. A cowboy sheriff.
    Harvey: On a steel horse you ride.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: X the Eliminator's introductory episode starts with a flashback where he's first hired to steal the crest on Birdman's helmet. X wonders why they didn't just hire him to, you know, KIIIIIIIIIILL HIM?, to which they react with shock and horror.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Birdgirl.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: The same people are in the jury in every case; this leads to Judge Mentok overturning all of his previous rulings at the end of the second to last episode and letting all of the convicted run amok.

"Did ya get the thing I sent ya?"


Video Example(s):


Black Vulcan

While on the stand, a superhero named Black Vulcan expresses his frustrations over racial profiling in the superhero community.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ElectricBlackGuy

Media sources: