A streak of gray and a cheerful "Hi!"
A loop, a whirl, a vertical climb
And once again you know it's time
For the adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends!"
This cult cartoon series, produced by Jay Ward and Bill Scott, ran on ABC Thursday evenings as Rocky and His Friends from 1959 to 1961. It featured the serialized adventures of Rocky (voiced by June Foray), a flying squirrel who wore flight goggles, and Bullwinkle (Bill Scott), a dimwitted moose. Their primary foes were Boris Badenov (Paul Frees) and Natasha Fatale (Foray again), a pair of Slavic spies from the imaginary Soviet satellite of Pottsylvania. In 1961, the series moved to NBC and became The Bullwinkle Show; it ran in prime time under that title until 1963 then moved to Saturday morning. It moved to ABC Sunday mornings a year later and ran till 1973. It re-appeared on NBC Saturday afternoons in 1981 and in prime time on CBS in 1990 for a two-week run ("The Last Angry Moose" arc). Both series have since been seen in syndication and on cable TV with the title changed to The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends.
Bullwinkle also appeared in two other segments: Bullwinkle's Corner, in which he gave poetry readings that usually degenerated into chaos, and Mr. Know-It-All, in which his attempts to offer "how-to" advice on a variety of topics often met with similar disaster. Supporting segments were Dudley Do-Right, Peabody's Improbable History, Fractured Fairy Tales and Aesop and Son. William Conrad was the Narrator in the main Rocky and Bullwinkle segments, and Edward Everett Horton performed that function in Fractured Fairy Tales.
It continued with Rocky and Bullwinkle comics through the 1980s. In 2000, Universal released The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, The Film of the Series produced in live action, apart from a CGI moose and squirrel voiced by Keith Scott and June Foray, and hand-drawn opening and ending sequences mimicking the style of the 1950s cartoon. Jason Alexander and Rene Russo played Boris and Natasha. Robert De Niro, a fan of the show from his youth, not only played Fearless Leader, but was also one of the film's producers.
In the summer of 1986, selected cities had An Evening With Rocky and Bullwinkle, a theatrical screening of Jay Ward features which included R&B, George of the Jungle, Hoppity Hooper, and Ward's first creation, Crusader Rabbit. In 1992, there was a made-for-cable movie, Boris and Natasha, about the bad guy couple. Rocky and Bullwinkle were human in this film ("Agents Moose and Squirrel, genetically altered once again"), with a post-Cold War theme. Sally Kellerman, like DeNiro in the later film, was a fan of the show and co-produced it, playing Natasha. A feature film adaptation and Continuity Reboot of Peabody's Improbable History as Mr. Peabody & Sherman, produced by DreamWorks Animation, who acquired Jay Ward's library via its Classics subsidiary, was released on March 7, 2014, which then spunoff into a TV series, The New Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show, on October 9, 2015. Asides that, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, a Continuity Reboot starring the titular squirrel-moose duo would follow in May 2018 as an Amazon Prime original (and was the first time DreamWorks created a streaming series not on Netflix).
A "making of" special, called Of Moose and Men: The Rocky and Bullwinkle Story, was aired in 1991 on PBS.
"Hey Rocky, watch me pull a trope out of my hat!":
- Absentee Actor: The Buried Treasure storyline is the only one in which Boris appears but Natasha doesn't.
- Additionally, neither Boris nor Natasha appear in the storylines "The Three Moosekateers", "Much Mud (Mucho Loma)", and "The Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayam".
- Abusive Parents: In a Fractured Fairy Tales version of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears", Papa Bear constantly punches Baby Bear in the face when Baby Bear says something stupid.
- Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal:
- Accidental Athlete: Bullwinkle in the "Wossamotta U" arc.
- Affectionate Parody: The Fractured Fairy Tales segment parodies a book called "Famous Fairy Tales", which had a collection of fairy tales gathered together. Each segment took at least the title of one of these stories, then twisted it around.
- The Powerpuff Girls episode "I See A Funny Cartoon In Your Future" is patterned like a Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, even employing June Foray as the voice of the story's antagonist. It even breaks with a cliffhanger (complete with Either/Or Title), a faux commercial, then the story's resolution capped off with a salute to Jay Ward.
- The Ralph Bakshi version of Mighty Mouse had "Rocky And Hoodwinkle" in the episode "Don't Touch That Dial." Hoodwinkle was a diminutive super-intelligent moose while Rocky was...fictional fighter Rocky Balboa. Mighty Mouse is good friends with them.
- The All-American Boy: Rocky is an all-American boy in the form of a squirrel.
- Alliterative Name: All over the place, but hits its zenith when Capt. Peachfuzz reveals the "Peter Peachfuzz Pathway Predictor Patent Pending"
- Always Chaotic Evil: Seriously, try to find a non-evil Pottsylvanian. Go on. We'll wait.
- Always Gets His Man: Dudley Do Right is an Affectionate Parody of this.
- As is the Peabody episode where the mountie can't take in his target because she's a woman.
- Ambiguous Ending: The "Guns of Abalone" concludes with our heroes returning home exhausted from the toils of their adventure as they trod into bed. The alarm clock Bullwinkle sets is actually the time bomb Rocky had constructed earlier. While the narrator is about to soil himself, fearing that the next show may have two new heroes, Rocky and Bullwinkle are very passive about it ("It's a slow-running clock.")
- Anachronism Stew: The Peabody and Sherman segments are full of this. Mr. Peabody's modifications to the WABAC contaminate the past with anachronisms and cause the historical figures to become ignorant, now he and Sherman must undo their mistake and save the timeline.
- Most pronounced when they attempt to apprehend Mata Hari in 1916, the spy takes flight in "an old De Haviland", which constitutes a period appropriate biplane. Our heroes pursue in "a new De Haviland", which is a thoroughly modern fighter jet.
- Animated Anthology
- Animation Bump: Certain segments were animated entirely in America, and looked far better than what was sent to Mexico. The majority of these sequences were animated by Gerard Baldwin.
- Anti-Advice: When some island natives lose their weather-predicting Oogle bird egg, they employ Captain Wrongway Peachfuzz in its place—and simply expect the opposite of his predictions.
- Apathetic Citizens: The citizens of Frostbite Falls have a habit of being totally useless or ambivalent to our heroes plights right when they're needed most. For example, when Rocky and Bullwinkle are being marched out of town by an armed convoy of foreign soldiers...
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Boris' alias "Babyface Braunschweiger" is a notorious forger, thief, bank robber, gunman, and litterbug.
Chancellor: Our enrollment has dropped eighty percent, our buildings are crumbling away, and what's even worse...
- In the "Wossamotta U." story, the Chancellor of Wossamotta addresses potential disaster for the campus:
Trustees: Yes? Yes?
Chancellor: (sobbing) They're taking the Coke machine out of the faculty lounge!
- Art Evolution: Several of the characters looked a bit different in the beginning, but the one who has gone through the most recognizable changes is Fearless Leader. In his first appearance, he was thin with a trenchcoat, sunglasses, and a hat like Boris'. His next few appearances depicted him fat, in a uniform, no hat and no sunglasses. When Rocky and Bullwinkle arrived in Pottsylvania, Fearless Leader was slimmed down a little. And finally, when Boris meets up with him in person, Fearless Leader looks as he does today: skinny, given a hat, a differently shaped head, a scar on his face and a monocle.
- Alternatively, Pottsylvania goes through a lot of Fearless Leaders.
- If you were to watch the first story arc, "Jet Fuel Formula," all in chronological order, there is a very heavy art evolution throughout the story. The first several entries were very crudely-drawn and animated, with numerous Off-Model moments and Early Installment Weirdness, note but by the end of the story arc the animation had pretty much settled into its' usual style that remained for the remainder of the series.
- Artistic License History: A lot of people forget that Beethoven was deaf. This is misrepresented in a Peabody and Sherman segment.
- Bullwinkle enthusiastically identifies the old car that constitutes the Treasure of Monte Zoom as a 1903 Apperson Jackrabbit, a car model that wasn't launched until 1906.
- Artistic License Sports: Played for Laughs and Invoked with Wossamotta U vs The Mud City Manglers. The Manglers dig trenches, and use machine guns, bayonets, and land mines, which are obviously not regulation football tactics and they get away with it thanks to threatening the ref's life. Rocky and Bullwinkle eventually fight back with confederate artillery.
- Ascended Extra: Natasha. The first few episodes present Boris as the main villain and only occasionally show Natasha as a flunky. Before the first serial is over, she has become his partner in crime.
- Ascended Fanboy: DeNiro, who not only played Fearless Leader but produced the 2000 film.
- Keith Scott as well, having gotten to hang out with the cast and crew of the original series before sadly replacing most of their voices once they'd died.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: This was exactly Jay Ward's attitude towards Boris and Natasha. When June Foray first asked Ward what accent he wanted her to do for Natasha, he suggested anything but Russian (as this was during the Cold War, and he didn't want to risk offending Russia).
- Bad Boss: Fearless Leader always threatens to shoot his men. Only rarely that he actually does it. In Missouri Mish Mash, he even sent one of his men to be executed after he tells Fearless Leader that Boris is the only available Pottsylvanian spy in Minnesota.
Boris: He's doing a guest shot in this sequence. (off-screen gunfire) There goes a guest now!
- Boris lampshades this gleefully in the Wossamotta U. story. Natasha is petrified when she sees Fearless Leader and asks what he's doing there.
- The Bad Guy Wins:
- Boris and Natasha in "The Last Angry Moose" story get away with stealing Bullwinkle's savings without getting caught. It's not a total loss for Bullwinkle, though, since he gains a lot of money from the success of his movie.
- Boris frequently bests Bullwinkle in the Mr. Know-It-All segments.
- Snidely Whiplash in the first Dudley Do-Right segment. After Dudley arrests Snidley and his gang, he sees that Snidley is out of jail. Asking how he escaped, it turns out the one he captured was disguised as Snidely.
- Played with in the Fractured Fairy Tales episode "Riding Hoods Anonymous", once the wolf decides to quit Riding Hoods Anonymous and eat both Red and Granny, they run in fear, no longer able to trick him like before. The narrator remarks that it looks like nobody lived happily ever after, but the wolf says he did, before getting blown up by 200 baskets full of goodies, to which the narrator says he was right about nobody living happily ever after.
- Bad is Good and Good is Bad: Boris takes any insult as a compliment and can't stand anything nice. One time when he was out cold, Natasha did CPR while saying "Out goes the good air; In comes the bad".
Boris: What Luck! Someone down there likes me!
- In one "Bullwinkle's Corner" Boris subverted Teresa Piercey-Gates by changing "Do something for somebody quick" to "Do something TO somebody quick."
- After Moose and Squirrel foil his plans by complete accident during Box Top Robbery, Boris starts spitting the names of the classical virtues in the form of a Cluster F-Bomb. Natasha, naturally, is horrified at his foul language.
- "Bang!" Flag Gun: The one time Boris actually tries to just shoot Moose and Squirrel.
- Bankruptcy Barrel: Boris offers one to "Lucky" Louie Leadbetter after the latter gets cleaned out by his casino hustle.
- Bat Deduction: In a "Mr. Peabody's Improbable History":Mr. Peabody: Sherman, how thick is this fog?
Sherman: It's as thick as pea soup.
Mr. Peabody (Narrating): And that's where we found him: in a shady diner behind a bowl of pea soup.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: From the debut when we first see our heroes, they're standing on the moon sans any survival apparatus.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted and played with in "Snow White, Inc."Magic Mirror: Snow White is still the fairest.Queen: Curses!Magic Mirror: But you're still the prettiest.Queen: But you just said...Magic Mirror: I said Snow White is the fairest. She doesn't lie, cheat or steal, what could be fairer than that?
- Bewitched Amphibians: Twice in Fractured Fairy Tales.
- Big Bad: Though Mr. Big is the ruler of Pottsylvania, Fearless Leader is shown to be more in charge.
- Big Guy, Little Guy: Bullwinkle and Rocky respectively.
- Big Shadow, Little Creature: Mr. Big was revealed to be this towards the end of Upsidaisium.
- Big "SHUT UP!": Boris to Natasha whenever his latest fiendish plan fails.
- Played with in one episode, when Natasha tells Boris to shut up his mouth as they fall off a cliff.
- And in another episode, Boris tells Natasha that the next time he has such a plan she should "shut up my mouth!"
- Done as wordplay in an episode of the "Metal Eating Mice" story arc. The Either/Or Title is "The Rat Pack Attacks" or "Sharrap You Mouse!"
- Bigger on the Inside: The interior of Rocky and Bullwinkle's home appears fairly roomy, yet the exterior dimensions barely exceed those of an outhouse.
- Birthmark of Destiny: Bullwinkle has one of these on on the bottom of his foot/hoof. It's subverted at the end when it turns out that it's actually the design on his bathroom floor mat, imprinted when he stepped out of the tub.
- Then Double Subverted, as, well after the birthmark's significance has waned, Bullwinkle notes that same design on his other foot never comes off.
- Bold Explorer: The Peabody's Improbable History segments featured visits to see many bold explorers, including Sir Walter Raleigh, Marco Polo, Juan Ponce de Leon, Balboa, Columbus and Magellan. Many of them turned out to be not-so-bold in person, and needed a kick in the pants from Peabody and Sherman.
- Book-Ends: When we first see Rocky in the first "Jet Fuel Formula" episode, he and Bullwinkle are in outer space standing on the moon. At the end of the arc's final episode, we see Rocky in space again, soaring through it.
- The Bore: One of the Fractured Fairy Tales was about Leaping Beauty, a beautiful girl who leaps about spreading joy and cheer, until she runs afoul of a witch, who curses her to become a bore, after which she literally puts the entire kingdom to sleep with her incessant prattling.
- Brains and Brawn: Rocky and Bullwinkle, respectively.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Breaking? This show pulverized it!
- Can it even be considered breaking the fourth wall if they never had one to begin with?
- Breakout Character:
- Bullwinkle became so popular on Rocky and His Friends that the show was renamed The Bullwinkle Show on its third season.
- Dudley Do-Right was the only one of the show's supporting segments to get its own show. However, no new stories were made for it.
- By "No", I Mean "Yes": From the "Mr. Know-it-all" segment "How to Catch a Bee":Bullwinkle: But if you're in Death Valley, the task becomes a little tougher, but not surmountable.
- Call-Back: In the Bumbling Brothers Circus story, Boris wears one of his disguises from the Upsidaisium story. Rocky mentions that they've met in one of their previous adventures.
- In a Mr. Know-It-All segment about magic, Bullwinkle is about to demonstrate pulling a rabbit out of his hat. Rocky remarks that this looks familiar. Bullwinkle proceeds to do his act and pulls himself out this time.
- The Cameo: Dudley Do-Right appears in the "She Can't Pay The Rent" sketch while Rocky and Bullwinkle are briefly seen in a Dudley episode in a crowded jail cell.
- Mr. Peabody and Sherman appear in the "Rocky and Bullwinkle Savings Stamps" special. Mr. Peabody explains why buying the stamps are important.
- Cannot Tell a Lie: Say what you will about Bullwinkle's intelligence; his moral compass is incorruptible. In the "Box Top Robbery" story, authorities are grilling him about his box top collection and if he's the box top counterfeiter. Bullwinkle's alibi is that his mother taught him to never tell a lie.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Everyone from Pottsylvania is depicted as this. They even have a national anthem that boasts how evil they are.
- Hail, Pottsylvania! Hail to the Black and the Blue! Hail, Pottsylvania, sneaky and crooked through and through...DOWN with the Good Guys, UP with the Boss: Under the sign of the Triple Cross (HAIL!)...Hail, Pottsylvania...Hail, Hail, HAIL!!!
- Rocky's "Again?" (which is a lot funnier if you say it in a Rocket J. Squirrel voice), usually his response to the Narrator, or to Bullwinkle's "Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!" Also, "Hokey Smokes," (Rocky) and "Dahlink". (Natasha)
- "Sharrup you mouth!", "Allow me to introduce myself", "Hoo-boy!", "Raskolnikov!", and "Kill moose and squirrel" and variants thereof from Boris.
- "Allow me to introduce myself..." from Boris in one of his Paper-Thin Disguises.
- "Now, there's something you don't see every day, Chauncey." "What's that, Edgar?" Any random pair of bystanders are named Chauncey and Edgar.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After his brief appearance in the Banana Formula arc at the end of the fourth season, Captain Peachfuzz is never seen again.
- Circus Episode: The "Bumbling Bros. Circus" arc involves Bullwinkle becoming the Bumbling Brothers' new lion tamer after his is able to soothe a savage lion with his hum-a-comb (blowing through his comb through a handkerchief), but is also able to entertain the other animals with it as well. At the same time, Boris was fired from being the circus' lion tamer, so he makes continuous efforts to sabotage the circus as revenge.
- City of Spies: In the Jet Fuel Formula story arc, Pottslyvania is depicted as a country of spies where everything is secret: All phone numbers are unlisted resulting in blank phone books, and newspapers have nothing but advertisements since all news is too secret to print. The ice cream man also hawks classified documents.
- Cliffhanger Copout: Happened all the time, but let's face it, any continuity in these cartoons was purely by accident.
- Collective Groan: The Lame Pun Reaction listed below is a sizable one.
- Comic-Book Adaptation:
- Gold Key put out Bullwinkle comic books from 1962 to 1980, long after the show was cancelled. It was briefly revived in 1987-89 under Marvel Comics.
- There was a newspaper comic strip drawn by Al Kilgore from 1962 to 1965.
- In 2013, IDW picked up the rights to Rocky and Bullwinkle (along with Peabody and Sherman due to the film by Dreamworks.) The first issues were written by Mark Evanier and Rodger Langridge, along with reprints of the Gold Key series.
- Comically Missing the Point: A couple of choice examples:
Bank President: Yes sir. What kind? Just checking?
- From "Box Top Robbery" when Bullwinkle carts his box top collection to the bank so he can open an account:
Bullwinkle: No, I really mean it!
Bullwinkle: Well, let's see 'em rub two sticks together!
- From "Wossamotta U.," when Boris, who had recruited a band of thugs dressed as girls (The Mud City Manglers) to play against Wossamotta, visits a bookie to ask what the line on "the big conflict" (his words) is:Bookie: World War III, 6-5 and pick 'em.
- Earlier in in "Wossamotta U.," Rocky points out that the two guys that want to sign Bullwinkle to a scholarship are scouts.
Rocky: Football scouts.
Bullwinkle: Then let's see 'em rub two footballs together!
Printer: How about a shot of adrenalin?
- "Buried Treasure" has the Picayune-Intelligence owner Col. Cornpone saying he needs something to improve circulation.
- Competition Coupon Madness: Boris and Natasha produce counterfeit box tops to get all the prizes and undermine the world's economy.
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Even more amusing in retrospect...
- Contrived Coincidence: Like everything else, used liberally and mocked ruthlessly. When something ludicrously coincidental saves or helps our heroes the show (and later the movie) they always make sure to point out how ridiculous this is, either by having the narrator or characters lampshade it or by having the coincidence itself be so absurd that there's no question it's being played with.
- Counterfeit Cash: Or rather Counterfeit Boxtops.
- Crazy-Prepared: Boris Badenov. He has been known to carry around a cardboard cutout with him in case moon men attack with freeze ray guns and a carrier pigeon attached to miniature rockets in case he cannot get to his radio and needs to send a message overseas.
- Creepy Changing Painting: One issue of the Comic-Book Adaptation had a pawn shop in whose window was displayed a bust that seemed to grin one moment and scowl the next. It turned out to be connected to the auction in that story.
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Invoked in-universe in an episode that ends with Boris getting into a physical fight with Fearless Leader over the Kirwood Derby. The Lemony Narrator asks, "Oh, who win this epic fight?" Boris and Fearless Leader both respond in unison: "What difference will that make? We're both bad guys."
- Dastardly Whiplash:
- Digital Destruction: For some reason, the episodes encompassing the Mucho Loma arc on the Season Five DVD set are slightly, but noticeably, sped up.
- Dinner Order Flub: Bullwinkle goes into a coffee shop and looks over the menu. Seeing that refills are free, he tells the waiter "think I'll have some of that there refill."
- Dirty Coward: Pottsylvania has being one as a national trait, probably why they specialize in covert ops and spying rather than direct conflict.
- Disability Immunity: You'd be surprised how many times Bullwinkle's lack of intelligence has protected him.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Fearless Leader is very, very fond of dispensing executions for even the most minor of offenses. Discussed while he's training the Mud City Manglers to take on Wossamotta U.Thug 1: Uh oh, Strangler fumbled the ball again.
Thug 2: Yeah, I bet the coach gives him a light reprimand.
Thug 1: Nah, I bet he gives him a severe reprimand.
(Gunshot, Strangler falls dead on the pitch)
Thug 1: You were right, it was just a light reprimand.
- The Ditz: Just about everyone, but especially Bullwinkle.
- Does Not Know His Own Strength: One of the variants of the "rabbit out of the hat" sketches has Bullwinkle saying, "Don't know my own strength."
- Bullwinkle also makes this comment after knocking over a cardboard cut-out of a car (which he and Rocky previously thought was real) in "The Treasure of Monte Zoom".
- Downer Ending: Played with in the "Treasure of Monte Zoom" story. Bullwinkle falls off a cliff, only to have his antlers catch onto a branch not too far down:Rocky: Gee...an unhappy ending.
Bullwinkle: Yeah. Must be one of those adult cartoons!
- Dumbass Has a Point: Zig-zagged. When Bullwinkle points out that Captain Peachfuzz's now pilotless plane is nosediving right towards them ("Goof Gas" story, episode "Three To Go, or: Crash On Delivery"), Rocky and Peachfuzz are so busy agreeing with each other that Bullwinkle's right that he has to clear them away before the plane crash lands on them. Even after the close call, Rocky and Peachfuzz are still rather calmly agreeing.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- In the first few episodes, Boris had red eyes.
- Some of the early episodes ended with only one title for the next episode, rather than two.
- The first two episodes of Peabody's Improbable History had no bad Pun at the end. Additionally, Peabody and Sherman's coke-bottle glasses had brown-colored frames instead of black ones.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Boris and Natasha.
- Either/Or Title: Each cliffhanger ended with a pair of joke titles for the upcoming episode. One example was episode 2 of the Ruby Yacht arc: "Let's Drink To The Ruby," or "Stoned Again."
- Escalating Punchline: A Mr. Know-It-All installment is "How To Be a Lion Tamer and Pick Up a Little Scratch. On The Side. Of Your Face." (Bullwinkle turns to show a scratch on the side of his face.)
- Every Episode Ending: All the Peabody and Sherman shorts end with Mr. Peabody making a terrible pun.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Fearless Leader. His real name is unknown.
- Evil vs. Evil: Boris and Fearless Leader briefly fought over the Kirward Derby in Missouri Mish Mash.
- Exact Words: In the Mr. Know-It-All segment "How to Get Your Money Back if Not Completely Satisfied", Bullwinkle tries to return an item he's not satisfied with and get his money back, but in the end the store owner, Boris, won't give him a refund. When Bullwinkle points out the store's promise, Boris says, "And I'm completely satisfied!"
- In the Fractured Fairy Tale "Snow White Inc.", the Magic Mirror informs the Queen that Snow White is still the fairest in the land, but then adds that the Queen is still the prettiest. When the Queen asks the mirror to explain himself he answers, "She never lies, cheats or steals. What could be fairer than that?"
- In the comics, Louis F. Lucre says a fortune teller told him an astrologer would try to swindle him out of eight hundred dollars. His astrologer says she's wrong and charges nine hundred dollars.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: From "Wossamotta U.," where Bullwinkle reads the newspaper:Bullwinkle: Goodness! This is fraught with portent!
Bullwinkle: (points to two pictures) Right here. Eddie Fraught and George Portent. Nice guys.
- Expospeak Gag: Often overlapping with Genius Bonus - the show would often use gags that centered around complicated word puns and speech, most notably with Mr. Peabody and the narrator in the main shorts, but would barely ever actually draw attention to these jokes and thus it tended to fall to the audience to understand them. A good example being a scene where the narrator casually calls our heroes' Seinfeldian Conversation "airy persiflage," which is in context is a good way of putting "witty banter" but can also mean "meaningless/redundant mockery."
- Explosive Cigar: In the story Mucho Loma, Bullwinkle is put in jail after being mistaken for the villain Zero. Rocky gives Bullwinkle a explosive cigar to help him break out. Bullwinkle mistakes it for a real cigar and throws it out the window causing a Rube Goldberg Device that breaks the prison wall.
- Extra Digits: Several characters have them at various times, but the most prominent example is the seven-fingered Snow White in "Snow White, Inc."
- Extra Long Episode: The first story arc, "Jet Fuel Formula," lasted for a whoppin' 40 chapters, book-ending 20 half-hour episodes; Bullwinkle even remarks in the last chapter that the story's been so long, he forgotten why his and Rocky's original motives were. Rocky and Bullwinkle also engaged in another particularly lengthy arc in Season Two, "Upsidasium," which was 36 chapters, book-ending 18 half-hour episodes.
- Eye Glasses: Sherman.
- The Faceless: Mr. Big, whose shadow was the only thing we saw of him until the second-to-last part of the Upsidaisium story.
- Fastball Special: Bullwinkle tosses Rocky in the air for a boost of speed. This has often been called the "Alley-Oop".
- It becomes a plot point in the Wossamotta U story replacing Rocky with a football.
- Fate Worse than Death: According to Natasha, being frozen in front of the America flag in a position that makes it look like he's perpetually saluting it is this for Boris.
- Mr. Peabody's segments, always.
- A few Fractured Fairy Tales.
- Fictional Province: There's the fictional state/province of Moosylvania, a swampy little island on the US/Canada border. (The US insisted it was a Canadian province, Canada insisted it was a US state.) Jay Ward tried once to defictionalize it as a publicity stunt; he leased a small island in Minnesota's Lake of the Woods and campaigned to make it the state of Moosyvania. The attempt fizzled after the Cuban Missile Crisis broke out.
- First-Name Basis: Regularly averted with Mr. Peabody, although the Rocky and Bullwinkle Savings Stamps episode reveals that his first name is Hector.
- The Fool: Bullwinkle, full stop. It's telling that when Boris used a gas to turn the whole world into morons, Bullwinkle is the only one unaffected because he already is a moron.Bullwinkle: A lot of good that does me. I don't have anybody to feed me a straight line anymore.Rocky: (under the influence of the gas) Tell me about the rabbits, George.Bullwinkle: You see what I mean?
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Of the four principals— Rocky (choleric), Bullwinkle (phlegmatic), Boris (sanguine), Natasha (melancholic).
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The Goof Gas story arc had Boris give the Narrator a whiff of the IQ dropping fumes in order to not let him tell where they were going.Boris: You were saying?Narrator: Duh, gee whiz, I don't remember. Dehh, be with us next time for—well, just be with us next time anyway...gee...
- Foreshadowing: In episode 1 of "Jet Formula," William Conrad voices an Air Force general. His voice inflection for the character would be the type he'd use as the narrator halfway into the "Upsidasium" story.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: Trope Namer, being a title for a supporting segment. Said segment changed a major aspect of the fairy tale.
- Furry Confusion: Rocky is about two or three feet tall, compared to other people, however, he wasn't the only squirrel seen on the show: in the Upsidasium story arc, we learn that before the discover of the gem, Pottsylvanian cars were powered by squirrels running inside hamster wheels. These squirrels look just look Rocky, except they're the size of actual squirrels and run on all fours.
- Gallows Humor: In the "Maybe Dick" arc:Exec 1: Then it's settled, gentlemen: Next week, we all become television producers.Exec 2: I thought we were all going to commit suicide together!Exec 1: It's the same thing.
- The Mr. Know-It-All segment "How To Water Ski" has Bullwinkle asking for a length of rope. Boris Badenov lowers a hangman's noose to him.
- Genius Ditz: Turns out Bullwinkle is really good at fencing (although he uses it to shish kebab). Good enough to not only be mistaken for one of The Three Musketeers (by one of the actual Musketeers), but even to take on a small mob of swordsmen by himself.
- Genre Savvy: "I hate episodes like this, even though I get the money later. Which I probably won't."
- Gesundheit: Bullwinkle says this in "Lazy Jay Ranch" when Rocky invokes the French proverb "Noblesse Oblige." note
- Giftedly Bad: Captain Peter "Wrong-Way" Peachfuzz, the worst sailor in the world.
- Glorious Mother Pottsylvania, dahlink.
- Goggles Do Nothing: Often when Rocky is in flight, his goggles are never covering his eyes. In the first season opening when we see Rocky in flight, he is using his goggles.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: In the Rocky and Bullwinkle Fan Club segments, Boris and Natasha are members of said fan club.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: When he is shocked, Boris exclaims "Raskolnikov!" (presumably a Shout-Out to Crime and Punishment).... because, as Natasha reminds him, he can't "swear" on a family show.
- Got Volunteered: In The Guns of Abalone, Bullwinkle is sent to silence the Guns of Abalone after a eavesdropping newspaper reporter hears him say "I'll go", which really was a response to Rocky saying that one of them had to go to the store to get more milk.
- Grail in the Garbage: The Kirward Derby, a hat that makes you absurdly smart, is found in a store.
- Grandma's Recipe: In the first story arc of "The Jet Fuel Formula", said formula was actually Grandma Bullwinkle's fudge cake recipe.
- Greek Chorus: The narrator in spades. His voice notations make Boris and Natasha hissable while making Rocky and Bullwinkle cheerable.
- Hartman Hips: Natasha, dahlink.
- Hat of Power: The Kirward Derby, which vastly increases its wearer's intelligence. The last known wearer was Albert Einstein. Until it was later revealed that it was made by a moon wizard to make the moon prince intelligent and that Gidney and Cloyd lost it after they borrowed it for their trip to Earth.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Rocky and Bullwinkle, so much so that when he thinks Bullwinkle's dead or otherwise gone forever, Rocky blue-screens.
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- Almost every time Boris, Natasha, and Fearless Leader were defeated were by their own weapons. Most notably was in the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie where they attempted to use a digital Disintegrator Ray to eliminate Rocky and Bullwinkle but ended up getting digitized themselves when Bullwinkle unknowingly messed with the controls.
- Said word-for-word by the narrator when Boris falls into one of his own traps in The Treasure of Monte Zoom storyline. In this instance, Boris brings the story to a screeching halt, demanding an explanation for the turn of phrase.
- Boris takes the cake when his football team is obliterating Wossamotta U, until the heroes decide to use the confederate combat plans that he left in place of their real football plays. Doubly so as Boris only did this because Fearless Leader bet the entire Pottsylvania treasury on the game and made clear to Boris the price for failure.
- Hollywood Natives: Stereotypical Indians appear in the story arc, "Bumbling Bros. Circus"; the rain dancers capture Rocky and Bullwinkle and attempt to burn them at the stake to please Great Spirit. However, Bullwinkle's humming comb gives them dance fever, and they literally dance up a storm, putting out the flames. The circus comes to their rescue, Boris and Natasha escape, and the tribe realize who the real good and bad guys are, naming Rocky and Bullwinkle honorary chiefs of their tribe, and making peace with the circus (complete with a peace pipe).
- Hurricane of Puns: Even the episode titles are puns and each episode gets two titles. Which, in and of itself, has been invoked by Bullwinkle to get more puns into the episode (and serve as a distraction).
- The show was so loaded with puns, both obscure and obvious, that the one time a slightly goofy sounding name was a real place and not actually just a pun, the Narrator stopped to make a note of it. note
- I Have a Family: The referee's justification for making so many calls blatantly in favor of the Mud City Manglers and ignoring their extremely obvious cheating.Rocky: Don't you have any courage?Ref: Yes, but I've also got a wife and three kiddies!
- I Take Offense to That Last One!: This exchange between Boris and Fearless Leader.Fearless Leader: Badenov, you are an incompetent, stupid, disgusting little nincompoop!Boris: Who's little?
- Impossible Pickle Jar: A "Mr. Know-It-All" segment has Bullwinkle trying and failing to open a jar of pickles in various increasingly over-the-top ways. At the end, Rocky notices the jar is actually a jar of jelly, and Bullwinkle says he couldn't open it because it was jammed.
- Insufferable Genius: Mr. Peabody.
- Insult Backfire: Boris takes every insult as a compliment.
- Interactive Narrator: Most infamously when Conrad starts breaking up in laughter over a stupid pun, and our heroes have to announce what the next episode titles are.
- Invisible Writing: In an early episode Natasha reveals a message that was in invisible ink by holding the paper in front of a candle: "Keel Moose." Boris drops a safe to land on Bullwinkle's head. After the Commercial Break Cliffhanger Natasha says that two more words have appeared: "Do Not." Boris races the safe to save Bullwinkle.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mr. Peabody has a huge ego concerning his smarts and shows no emotion aside from chilly brusque civility. But he does care for Sherman, as seen in the very first segment where he saves him from bullying and instantly decides to adopt him when he sees the state of his orphanage.
- Joker Immunity: Boris Badenov is presumably executed at the end of the "Painting Theft" story, yet there he is in the next five serials.
- The conclusion of "Pottsylvania Creeper" posits that Boris, Natasha and Fearless Leader were eaten by a Creeper plant. They all return in ensuing story lines.
- Kitchen Sink Included: In "Wossamatta U":Narrator: Boy, we've had everything in this episode but the kitchen sink!Bullwinkle: (pulls a kitchen sink out from behind his back) What do you suppose this is?
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: The "Mr. Know-It-All" spot where Bullwinkle would demonstrate some skill for the audience, only to foul it up completely.
- Lame Pun Reaction:
- Just about every Peabody's Improbable Histories segment ends with one.
- Bullwinkle found a model boat covered in red precious gems and a nameplate that read "Omar Khayyam". Which makes it... drumroll please... The Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam. Ugh. This one is so bad that everyone present when Rocky points it out is physically repulsed.
- Sometimes the character didn't even want to do them:Bullwinkle: Uh-oh! What are those things, Rock? (points to a pair of tanks)Bullwinkle: Oh, do I have to say it?
- Mr Peabody would conclude all of his stories with a ludicrously bad pun based on the historical figure featured.
- Lampshaded the Obscure Reference: Bullwinkle makes a joke that Rocky gets, but Bullwinkle admits most of the viewers won't.
- The Last Straw: Happens to Boris and a massive barge-load of supplies he's swiped from Moosylvania. Twice. The second time he's a bit irate with the Narrator.Narrator: Yes, incredibly, that tiny ounce of metal was enough to begin sinking the entire barge!
Boris: Oh come on! Not twice in one episode!
- Late to the Punchline:
- "Aesop And Son". In one episode, Aesop laughs at a joke he heard days ago and tells his son a fable with the moral "He who laughs last laughs best". Come to think of it, a lot of things in that show were jokes young viewers wouldn't get until later.
- Lampshaded from time to time:Bullwinkle: Twenty dollars?!? That's antihistamine money!
Rocky: Antihistamine money?
Bullwinkle: Yes. It's not to be sneezed at. Get it? Not to be sneezed at?
Rocky: (exasperated) I get it.
Bullwinkle: Thousands won't!
- Lemony Narrator: Who routinely gets caught up with (and threatened by) the antics of the rest of the cast.
- Licensed Pinball Table:
- Data East released an arcade pinball game, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends, in 1993.
- One of the Digital Pinball Tables available for Zen Pinball is Rocky and Bullwinkle.
- Limited Animation: This is perhaps one of the most famous examples of a cartoon being very popular regardless of having very crappy animation.
- Boris Badenov even lampshades this in the "Buried Treasure" story. When his gang member comments on he's using the TNT to blow up the bank vault and get rid of Rocky, Boris comments "Well, it's low budget show!"
- Bullwinkle ends a rather painful Mr. Know-It-All segment appropriately with "And so, in contusion..."
- In "Wossamotta U.," he gets angry and exclaims "My dandruff is up!"
- Meaningful Name:
- Mr. Big, though only his shadow is big. What he really looks like is a subversion.
- Comic book character Louis F. Lucre, the world's seventeenth richest man, says it's "F" for "Filthy" as in he's filthy rich.
- Mega-Maw Maneuver / Moby Schtick / Not the Nessie: Maybe Dick, the Wailing Whale, turns out to be a pirate ship Boris uses to swallow ships so he can plunder them.
- "Look, Bullwinkle...a Message in a Bottle!" "Fan mail from some flounder?"
- Mondegreen: The two most noted mondegreens on this show are Whynchataka Peak (from the "Jet Formula" arc) and Wossamotta U.
- Mood Whiplash: In the "Maybe Dick" arc, the TV news announces that Rocky and Bullwinkle are lost at sea, fearing the worst for them. A TV viewer calmly shows passive concern. When the reporter announces that the Giants lost, the viewer suddenly has a hissy fit, destroying his TV.
- Moon-Landing Hoax: In a comic book story, Boris and Natasha fake a moon landing to claim ownership on Pottsylvania's name. Averted with the moon landing previously done by the Americans. Because the Americans never claimed ownership of the moon, it doesn't matter if Americans really landed on the moon or not.
- Moose Are Idiots: Bullwinkle is practically the Trope Codifier.
- Mundane Utility: In Rue Britannia Boris uses a guillotine to slice bread.
- My God, What Have I Done?: In the "Treasure of Monte Zoom" story (episode "One, Two Three, Gone, or: I've Got Plenty Of Nothing"), the narrator inadvertently lets a clue about the car Rocky and Bullwinkle have driven off in slip out. Boris hears it:Narrator: Oh, dear... what have I done?
Natasha: (to Narrator) You have just signed death warrant for moose, dahlink!
Boris: And you've extended the story for another two episodes!
Boris: Oh, Boris, you impetuous boy! What have you done?!
- "Jet Fuel Formula" has Boris receiving orders to "keel moose," so he cuts a giant safe loose to fall on our heroes. When the orders wind up saying "do not keel moose":
Natasha: Better yet...what will you do?
- Bullwinkle wails "What have I done?" after he guns a hole in his TV set ("Lazy Jay Ranch" story).
- Ninja Log: Boris Badenov regularly carries around a cardboard cutout of himself, just in case the moon men come back and want to scrooch him. The heroes don't attack it, though, when he uses it, and actually stand guard the 12 hours it takes to unfreeze somebody once scrooched, not wanting him to get away.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- Boris Badanov's voice and appearance are based on character actor Akim Tamiroff (The Great McGinty), while Mr. Big's voice is Bill Scott doing a Peter Lorre impersonation.
- In the Fractured Fairy Tales segments, witches and queens are often voiced to sound like Marjorie Main, and elves and princes often sound like Phil Silvers.
- In one version of "Sleeping Beauty", Prince Charming was modeled loosely after Walt Disney. In the story, rather than awaken Sleeping Beauty, he built a theme park around her.
- No Fourth Wall: Characters frequently exhibit Medium Awareness and other forms of being Genre Savvy.
Fearless Leader: There has never been a way to actually kill a cartoon character until now.Pottsylvanian scientist: What about that movie Roger Rabbit?Fearless Leader: SHUT UP! This is totally different!Natasha: We have been blown back clear to beginning of movie! (Boris and Natasha)
- This applies to both the live action films as well:
- No Peripheral Vision: In "Rue Britania", an arrow shoots through what appears to be Bullwinkle's head and Rocky reacts with horror. He then hears Bullwinkle from behind saying "it does look like me, doesn't it?", revealing that it's just a moose head on a wall. Rocky having not noticed it was attached to a wall or not attached to Bullwinkle's body.
- No Sense of Direction: The aptly named Capt. Peter "Wrong Way" Peachfuzz.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: The wolf in the Fractured Fairy Tales story "Riding Hoods Anonymous". While it can be debatable whether he's a Designated Villain or Red Riding Hood and her grandma are, in this story both are constantly able to easily trick and outsmart the wolf, who has given up on eating Riding Hoods but can still eat their grandma's. But just as Red and her Grandma think the wolf won't bother them anymore, the wolf has decided to quit Riding Hoods Anonymous and to eat both of them, making them run in fear. And it's implied that the wolf ended up eating them.
- Officer O'Hara: If a policeman didn't talk like a Dragnet character, odds are he would have an Irish accent.
- Off-Model: This was one of the first animated shows to have its production outsourced to another country (in Mexico). There were some...bugs in the animation, let's just say. Among the more common problems were Boris losing his mustache, Bullwinkle losing an antler, or incidental characters up and changing color for no reason.
- Inverted in the Rocky & Bullwinkle Savings Stamps special which was animated in-house by Gerard Baldwin. Sherman, normally a redhead, is turned into a blond.
- Once per Episode:Rocky: That voice. Where have I heard that voice?
- And the one time Rocky actually knew where he heard that voice, the effects of the goof gas gets to him right before he could say Boris's name.
- Opening Shout-Out: In The Weather Lady, Rocky gets a job at the circus as a high platform diver. Bullwinkle lampshades it with this:Bullwinkle: Remember when we used to do this at the title, Rock?
- Orphanage of Fear: it is strongly suggested in their first episode that Sherman came from one of these.
- Out of Focus: Rocky could be considered this. Back when the show was still called Rocky and His Friends, the plots were more centered around Bullwinkle. When the show was renamed The Bullwinkle Show, it became apparent that Rocky was demoted to sidekick status.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: "That voice. Where have I heard that voice?"
- While Boris's disguises have a bit more effort (including fake mustaches), Natasha's disguises are not as elaborate. In fact her disguises are rarely more than just a simple change in clothing, and yet Rocky never mentions her face looking familiar. In fact there are even instances where she is not disguised at all alongside Boris wearing a disguise, and never gets recognized by Rocky.
- At one point, Boris goes through a catalog, revealing that his "normal" appearance is just another disguise. "You didn't think I really looked like this?"
- In the Mr. Know-It-All segment "How to Get Into the Movies Without Buying a Ticket", one step is to try a disguise. However, Bullwinkle's disguise still gets him kicked out.
- One "Aesop and Son" segment begins with Aesop wearing a disguise to see if he can fool his son. His son isn't fooled.
- In the "Jet Formula" serial, Boris and Natasha (in disguise as a wealthy yachtsman and his wife) disguise Rocky and Bullwinkle as them before sending them out from the ocean liner and into the vigilante hands of the Pottsylvania folk, who wants Boris' head on a silver platter. The Pottsylvanians actually believe our heroes are Boris and Natasha.
- While Boris's disguises have a bit more effort (including fake mustaches), Natasha's disguises are not as elaborate. In fact her disguises are rarely more than just a simple change in clothing, and yet Rocky never mentions her face looking familiar. In fact there are even instances where she is not disguised at all alongside Boris wearing a disguise, and never gets recognized by Rocky.
- Parental Bonus:Rocky: What game can you play with girls?Bullwinkle: Boy, this really is a children's show. Parcheesi, of course!
- In the "Bullwinkle's Testimonial Dinner" story when the narrator says the Chinese junk our heroes are in is "listing to port," Boris quips "That's better than Muscatel!"
- Parody Magic Spell: "Eenie-meanie, chilly beanie! The spirits are about to speak!"
- Parody Names:
- The Kirward Derby from the story Missouri Mish Mash is a parody name of Durward Kirby, cohost of the show Candid Camera. Durward tried to sue Jay Ward Productions because of it, but they didn't care. The legality of the case was not strong enough and Durward dropped it.
- In the first episode, news of an "alien landing" is broadcast by "Dorson Belles".
- The "Maybe Dick" arc featured a shipping magnate named Pericles Parnassus, a thinly-veiled parody of Aristotle Onassis.
- "Boris Badenov" is a play on the name of Russian tsar Boris Gudenov.
- In "The Last Angry Moose" Boris's aliases included Hollywood mogul D. W. Grifter and director Alfred Hitchhike.
- Pretty much all of Boris and Natasha's disguises featured these.
- Planet of Hats: Pottsylvanians are all villainous.
- Planet of Steves: Throughout the series, there are always two different guys (and two fish in one episode) named Chauncey and Edgar pointing out something that's out of the ordinary.
- Plant Mooks: Boris and Natasha attempt to subjugate the United States by introducing the Pottsylvania Creeper to American soil. The creeper can withstand any abuse meant to kill or disable it, and it soon launches a missile made of its own tendrils that spreads thousands of its seeds across the nation. Oh, and the creeper also eats people.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: Surprisingly otherwise clean as a whistle Rocky and Bullwinkle against the Mud City Manglers, when they chose to use the Confederate battle plans substituted to them by Boris, and dress up the part and adopt the dialect. This is played completely for aesthetics only however.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Parodied like everything else, in this case a southern colonel insisting on using "war between the states" instead of "civil" even when it's not being used for the words 'civil war'.
- Pony Express Rider: In the Peabody's Improbable History episode "The Pony Express", Mr. Peabody and Sherman have to help the Pony Express deliver a message which has been written on a large boulder.
- The Power of Love: The Pottsylvania Creeper's weakness.
- Protagonist and Friends
- Puddle-Covering Chivalry: Subverted in a Peabody's Improbable History segment about Sir Walter Raleigh. Mr. Peabody and Sherman see a still shot of Sir Walter laying down a coat for Queen Elizabeth, presumably to cover a puddle for her to cross over, however, after doing so, we see Sir Walter removing the coat to reveal street graffiti, reading, "LIZ IS A SHNOOK!", that he wrote.
- Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: One of the show's most famous recurring segments involved Bullwinkle trying to do this.Bullwinkle: Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!
Rocky: But that trick never works!
- Punny Name:
Bullwinkle: What's he wanted for?Sheriff: Don't you think a name like this is criminal?
- Boris's name is both a pun on "bad enough" and a play on "Boris Godunov". His disguises inevitably invoked this as well (a list can be found here).
- Occasionally Natasha would get one. Her full name (Natasha Fatale) is one in and of itself.
- Lampshaded in "Mucho Loma", where Rocky, Bullwinkle, and the local sheriff look over some wanted posters, including one for Juaquin Behindu.
- In the "Three Mooseketeers" story, Rocky has a manual on identifying plants. The title: "Weeder's Digest."
- Puppet Shows: In one of the network runs the segments were introduced by a Bullwinkle puppet. The puppet suddenly disappeared shortly after Bullwinkle said "Say kids, you know that knob that changes the channel on your tv comes off? Why don't you pull it off right now! Then you'll be sure to be here next week! And the week after that! And the week after that! And the week....."
- Put on a Bus:
- After their appearance in the "Missouri Mish Mash" story, moon men Gidney and Cloyd are not seen on the show again.
- The fourth season story "Banana Formula" is the final appearance of Captain Peachfuzz.
- Race Lift: Aesop and Son, possibly. Some sources claim he was either black or middle eastern (if he existed at all). In any case he probably wasn't a redhead.
- In the 2018 reboot, Peachfuzz is changed into a black woman and slightly more competent.
- Reassignment Backfire: In the Upsidasium arc, the Maritime Commission tried to have Captain Peachfuzz be literally Reassigned to Antarctica by putting him in charge of counting penguin eggs at the South Pole. But thanks to a typo in his orders, he was made head of America's spy network.
- Recognizable by Sound: A running gag is that Rocky would always recognize Boris' voice but still couldn't see through his disguises.Rocky: That voice. Where have I heard that voice?Bullwinkle: In about a hundred other episodes, but I don't know who it is either.
- Recruiting the Criminal: Rather than sending him to jail, Zero is sent to do a job where his skill at making zero marks is useful. What is this job? Scorekeeper for the New York Mets.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning:
- Boris initially had magenta-colored eyes. They turned white in the fifth chapter of Jet Fuel Formula and stayed that way for the rest of the series.
- The 2000 CVS figure of Boris has deeply red eyes, ether the actual eye color or meant to be sunglasses.
- Illustrations of Boris throughout The Rocky and Bullwinkle Book gives Boris pink eyes.
- Red Scare: Boris is specifically called a "spy and no-goodnik".
- Relax-o-Vision: During the Wossamotta U.-Mud City Manglers football game, which has taken the form of re-enacting the Civil (er...War Between The States), the hell that had broken loose is suddenly interrupted by a title card that reads "Relax!" for about three seconds.
- Replaced the Theme Tune: After the first season, the Frank Comstock theme was replaced with one by Fred Steiner. The Steiner version is the one present on the DVD sets.
- Retcon: In Missouri Mish Mash, it was said that the Kirward Derby has been around since the Stone Age. It was even in a hat shop for some time when Bullwinkle bought it. But towards the end of the story, it was revealed by Gidney and Cloyd that the Kirward Derby was created by a moon wizard to make their moon prince intelligent and that Gidney and Cloyd lost it after they borrowed it for their trip to Earth.
- Road Sign Reversal: Seen in one of the intros when Boris reverses a road sign to send Rocky and Bullwinkle's car into a tunnel with a brick wall. Also, this example:Boris: "Have you heard of Russian Roulette?"Natasha: "Yes..."Boris: "Well, this is Russian Scrabble!"
- Early in the Upsidasium arc, Natasha uses this trick in order to trick Rocky and Bullwinkle into driving off a cliff. Then Boris comes up with the exact same idea. Hilarity Ensues.
- Ruritania: Pottsylvania.
- Save Our Team: Bullwinkle's throwing arm (and the fact that nobody argues with a moose who wants to make a running play) takes the Wossamotta U football team from dead last to undefeated.
- Screw the Rules, They Broke Them First!: When the Mud City Manglers blatantly cheat to the point of doing trench warfare with guns, Rocky decides there's nothing holding back their own team from using civil war artillery in return.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After the titular characters of the Boris and Natasha movie literally blow themselves back the beginning of the movie, they decide that they really don't want to go through all the grief that they had to deal with over the course of the film again, so they quit their jobs and retire to Tahiti.
- Self-Deprecation: Characters in the show constantly made jokes and comments about how much the show stinks. The irony is that the series was very popular.(Boris and Natasha are off to get an "A-bomb")
Rocky: Bullwinkle, they said "A-bomb." Do you know what that means?
Bullwinkle: Certainly! "A-Bomb" is what some people call our program!
Rocky: I don't think that's so funny.
Bullwinkle: (Looking at us) Neither do they apparently.
Karen Sympathy: Your jokes have gotten really corny.
- This even continued into the movies.
Bullwinkle: No they haven't, they were always this bad. When you were a kid you didn't notice.
- Shameless Self-Promoter: Jay Ward himself, to the point of responding to threat of a lawsuit with "go ahead, we could use the publicity". Then there's the whole real life incident of Ward renting a small island on the shores of Minnesota, naming it Moosylvania, and mounting a campaign straight to Washington to grant it statehood, arriving the exact same day as the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Bullwinkle: It looks like Warner Baxter.
- The scene introducing the toon-killing computer weapon to be used against the moose and squirrel claims it's the first and only way to actually kill cartoon characters. Then one of Fearless Leader's men asked, "What about that movie with Roger Rabbit?" to which Fearless Leader responded, "Shut up! This is completely different!"
- Another shout out to the Roger Rabbit movie could be said of when the Terrible Trio were blasted by their own weapon into the Internet, much like how the Roger Rabbit Big Bad perished due to his own weapon used against him.
- In one movie scene Rocky and Bullwinkle are directed to a hospital's J Ward.
- When Rocky asks Bullwinkle what "an ethical dilemma which is fraught with portent" meant, he merely quips, "I dunno, I heard it on Meet the Press."
- Fearless Leader's appearance is based heavily on this World War II-era poster◊.
- Here's this dialogue from Metal-Munching Moon Mice, where Rocky and Bullwinkle see a portrait of Boris dressed as a mechanical moon mouse.Rocky: Now where have I seen that face before?Bullwinkle: Didn't there used to be a club on the TV thatRocky: No, that was somebody else...Bullwinkle: The ears look familiar is all.
- Police would frequently talk in the style of Dragnet characters. In the Banana Formula storyline, two such persons were called Ben (Romero) and Joe (Friday).
- Natasha mentions American Bandstand in the Wossamotta U. story arc.
- From "Mucho Loma" when Zero makes his appearance:
Rocky: It couldn't be Warner Baxter.
Bullwinkle: How about Warner Brothers?
- Boris uses "the thinking man's filter," a slogan for Viceroy cigarettes back then, in the "Painting Theft" story to describe Pottsylvania's version of a telephone party line.
- Slapstick Knows No Gender: Played with in the case of Natasha. It was not uncommon for both Boris and Natasha to be injured in some way, but Natasha never got injured on her own, while Boris often did.
- Sliding Scale of Animation Elaborateness: One of the leading examples how good animated creations do not necessarily always involve technical visual skill. Namely, this series has terrible animation done by a Mexican studio, but is still a classic with its brilliant writing and voice acting such as with Bill Scott, June Foray, and Paul Frees.
- Smart Animal, Average Human: Mr. Peabody, the Trope Codifier, is a brilliant time-travelling dog who travels with his loyal pet boy Sherman from the Peabody's Improbable History segments.
- Something Completely Different:
- Lampshaded in one episode, when Rocky and Bullwinkle come across a poster of Boris in his Paper-Thin Disguise:Rocky: Don't we know him from somewhere?Bullwinkle: You mean his voice is familiar?Rocky: No, his face.Bullwinkle: There's a switch!
- On some rare occasions, such as, "Mucho Loma," or, "Ruby Yacht," Boris and Natasha are actually not the villains of the storyline, let alone even in the story at all.
- Lampshaded in one episode, when Rocky and Bullwinkle come across a poster of Boris in his Paper-Thin Disguise:
- Southern Gentleman: Col. Jefferson Beauregard Lee of the Confederate Correctors, whose sole purpose in life appears to be interrupting people who are about to say "the Civil War" and insist they say "War Between the States." Though he does admit he just dislikes the word "civil", pulling this routine when people mention "a civil tongue" or mishearing the name "Sybil".
- Spanner in the Works: Bullwinkle's main function, to the eternal dismay of Boris and Natasha:
- When Bullwinkle was kidnapped to replace the Greenpert Oogle bird, his kidnappers took an overly complicated course to throw off all pursuit... except Captain "Wrongway" Peachfuzz.
- In the movie, the villains have almost won, the President has been brainwashed, and Bullwinkle is sitting in front of the Mind Control device... and then it turns out that Bullwinkle is so stupid, the brainwashing device has no effect on him. Promptly lampshaded by the narrator.
- Bullwinkle was the only one immune from goof gas in "Goof Gas Attack". As Boris says, "Goof gas effects the brain. No brain, no effect!"
- Species Surname: Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose.
- Spiritual Successor: To Vaudeville, the golden age of radio and Crusader Rabbit (a show also made by Jay Ward).
- Spoonerism: An episode from the "Missouri Mish Mash" story arc is "A Snitch In Time, or: The Finking Man's Thilter."
- Spotlight-Stealing Title: The show was originally called Rocky and his Friends. It was changed to The Bullwinkle Show two seasons later due to Bullwinkle becoming more popular than Rocky.
- Springtime for Hitler: In the first Dudley Do-Right cartoon, Inspector Fenwick wants to plant Dudley as a spy in Snidely Whiplash's crew, but the only way that can happen is for Dudley to get himself dishonorably discharged from the Mounties. Dudley then goes on a spree of criminal activity, such as blowing up a dam and burning down a hotel, only for it to turn out they were things other city officials were planning on doing anyway and he only saved them the time and effort. Dudley is even rewarded for these acts, much to the frustrations of Inspector Fenwick, who then tells Dudley to stop trying - later that evening, the act of Dudley eating his peas with a knife instead of a fork at chow is what finally gets him drummed out of the Mounties.
- The Starscream: Boris has attempted a few times to stab Fearless Leader in the back. Considering they're spies, what else would you expect?
- Stern Chase
- Still Fighting the Civil War: As the Wossamotta U football team takes to the field wearing Confederate Grey uniforms, two bemused men in the stands express this exact sentiment.Spectator: Lookit them fellers, Ruf! They gon' fight the war all over again.
Ruf: Shucks, we Southerners been doin' that for years.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: When Rocky and Bullwinkle find a row boat to follow the bad guys with, Bullwinkle says they are even luckier because the prop men aren't on strike this week. Upon noticing the heroes, Baron Von Shtünk says he thought the prop men were on strike.
- Stupidity-Inducing Attack: Boris and Natasha once had a gun that can make anyone stupid.
- Syndication Title: Bullwinkle's Moose-a-rama on Nickelodeon.
- Also The Rocky Show, a 15-minute edited series of episodes that aired in syndication starting in the 1960s.
- Heck, Rocky and Bullwinkle itself, which it was never called during the original run but is so branded on all the home video releases.
- The official DVD sets use The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends.
- Take Over the World: Many of Fearless Leader and Boris' plans.
- Take That!: Way too many to list. Basically if it was popular in the early 1960s, the moose and squirrel took a jab at it. The IDW comics revived that tradition with things like describing eBay as "the way everyone gets rid of junk that doesn't work".
- Taken for Granite: Gidney the moon man fits this trope as he has a Freeze Ray which can turn a person into a solid statue for unknown amounts of time. (Also, one of the 36 parts of "Upsidaisium" is "The Cliff Hangar, or Taken for Granite".)
- Theme Tune Cameo: The fanfare from the very beginning of the opening is featured at the start of a Fractured Fairy Tales segment that parodied The Princess and the Pea.
- Those Two Guys: "Now there's something you don't see every day, Chauncey."/"What's that, Edgar?"
- Those Wacky Nazis: Fearless Leader taps into some of the imagery, particularly his monocle, prominent facial scar and uniform decorations. That, and he's also fond of the phrase "Schweinhund".
- Time Passes Montage: Bullwinkle invokes one to shorten a long airplane flight (he forgot the sandwiches), but overshoots and grows a long white beard. His response was to reverse part of the Exploding Calendar and turn himself back to normal.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Boris and Natasha.
- Title Drop: One Fractured Fairy Tales segment has Goldilocks find out that her winter lodge has been invaded by bears, remarking, "look at me, Goldilocks and the three bears...", to which Baby Bear remarks, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears? That sounds like a good title for a story!"
- Took a Level in Badass: Surprisingly, Bullwinkle fulfilled this trope in The Movie when he fought off a whole gang of Pottsylvania spies and even sent Fearless Leader flying. Justified in that, by that point, Bullwinkle was really annoyed.
- Bullwinkle goes into action for the common good in "Buried Treasure" and "Wossamotta U." once he gets riled.
- Tricked Into Signing: In the story line "Painting Theft", Boris uses the autograph trick to get Bullwinkle to sign a will making Boris the moose's sole heir.
- Tropaholics Anonymous: In one Fractured Fairy Tales segment, the big bad wolf joins Ridinghoods Anonymous.
- Bullwinkle was named after a car salesman that both Jay Ward and Bill Scott knew, whose last name was Bullwinkel (not a typo); the salesman, reportedly, had a big nose, a deep voice, and often wore brown suits.
- Both Rocky and Bullwinkle's middle initials being 'J' comes from Jay Ward and Bill J. Scott.
- Boris Badenov is named after a titular opera character, Boris Godunov.
- Uncle Sam Wants You: A Comic Book cover has Rocky and Bullwinkle in a poster saying "We Want You to Defend the Moon".
- Unknown Rival: Rocky and Bullwinkle typically see Boris and Natasha only when they're disguised, but even if they weren't, our heroes might not recognize them if they wore giant neon signs saying, "We're the villains from the last 50 episodes, you stupid Moose and Squirrel!!!"
Rocky: Hokey smoke! It's our old nemesis!
- During the story arc Bullwinkle's Testimonial Dinner, Rocky and Bullwinkle do recognize the spies. And later are confronted by them.
- Also in The Weather Lady, Rocky immediately recognizes Boris when he and Bullwinkle sneak onboard Boris' steamboat.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle confront Boris and Natasha in "Guns of Abalone" and eventually take them to justice. They see Boris and Natasha in no disguise in the "Treasure of Monte Zoom" story (Rocky even draws them in an attempt to refresh Bullwinkle's memory about the events leading up to the current situation). Rocky later pursues them.
- Rocky is about to identify Boris as the culprit of the "Goof Gas" story when he suddenly becomes a moron, having been blasted with the gas.
- Unobtainium: Upsidaisium is a fictional, valuable, lighter-than-air metal that drives the central conflict of one arc.
- Unstoppable Mailman: In one "Peabody's Improbable Histories", Mr. Peabody and Sherman travel back in time to see the founding of the Pony Express. However, rivals attempt to put the Express out of business by arranging for the first message they have to deliver being inscribed on a huge boulder. Mr. Peabody blows the boulder apart, and each piece is given to separate rider so it can be reassembled at the destination. However, one piece is left, containing the final period. Without this, the message will be incomplete. Mr. Peabody and Sherman set off to deliver it personally, and have to become Unstoppable Mailmen as the rivals use every dirty trick in the book in an attempt to stop them getting through.
- Use Your Head: Subverted during the second half of season 2, episode 10.
- Vague Age:
- We don't know how old any of the characters are, but it's a curious case, especially regarding Rocky. Jay Ward's initial idea for Rocky was for him to represent the squeaky-clean, all-American Boy Scout type, which is the kind of demeanor that June Foray gave him in her voice acting. At one point during the "Jet Fuel Formula" story arc, Boris glues his and Natasha's disguises onto Rocky and Bullwinkle as they enter Pottsylvania; Rocky eventually has to shave the fake mustache off, to which he remarks, "Gee, I thought it'd be years yet before I started shaving!" Yet, at the beginning of "Lazy Jay Ranch," Rocky actually grounds Bullwinkle for watching too many TV Westerns, which leads us to...
- Bullwinkle has a number of Manchild characteristics: among his favorite pastimes include watching cartoons on TV, and reading comic books, the latter of which is a little further emphasized towards the beginning of "Wailing Whale," where he asks Rocky, "If you can't believe what you read in a comic book, what can you believe? It's enough to destroy a young moose's faith!" Returning to the subject of "Lazy Jay Ranch," Bullwinkle develops an obsession with TV Westerns, so much so in fact that he spends a ridiculous amount of time playing cowboy throughout the day.
- The 2018 series clears it up, at least in the case of Rocky: he had a deep voice as a kid before going through reverse puberty.
- Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Boris Badinov and Natasha Fatale often fail against Rocky and Bullwinkle, but their Potsylvanian superiors stay more believable as a threat.
- Villain Episode: More like villain movie. Boris and Natasha starred in their own movie eight years before Rocky and Bullwinkle did.
- Vocal Evolution: In the beginning of the show, everyone (including the narrator) spoke in a very low tone. Also, Captain Peachfuzz had a high-pitch squwak-like voice that sounded like a typical cartoon parrot in Jet Fuel Formula. After that story, his voice was then based on Ed Wynn.
- Wayback Trip: The Peabody segments are the Trope Namer and possibly the Trope Maker.
- Weather Saves the Day: In the "Bumbling Bros. Circus," arc, Rocky and Bullwinkle are captured by a tribe of Indians who have them tied to burning stakes; Bullwinkle whips out his hum-a-comb, prompting the Indians to break out into dancing, which conjures up a rain storm, putting out the flames and sparing their lives.
- Who's on First?: In a Bullwinkle's Corner segment where Bullwinkle and Boris perform Simple Simon, they transition into this over the word "ware".
- Another variation the show often used was to have Bullwinkle use a wrong word, then be corrected with the right word, which in true Who's on First? fashion would have a double meaning that Bullwinkle would misunderstand. Lampshaded in the movie.
Rocky: I must say I'm disappointed.
- The "Treasure Of Monte Zoom" has this when the chest contains nothing but a 1903 jalopy (there was more to it than that, eventually):
Bullwinkle: Okay. Go ahead and say it.
Rocky: (a bit ticked) Okay! I'm disappointed.
Both: And I'm Bullwinkle!
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: For someone called Fearless Leader, it is shown that Pottsylvanian TV is too much for him.
- Will Work For Food: In a comic book story, Boris and Natasha have signs reading "Will Spy For Food".
- William Telling: The story of William Tell is retold in Sherman and Peabody's segment. In this version, Tell is nearsighted and has broken his glasses, leaving his son fearing for his life as the date approaches. After failed attempts to replace the glasses, Mr. Peabody solves the problem by replacing the apple with another one with a powerful magnet inside, which Tell is able to hit easily.
- Windbag Politician: In "Goof Gas Attack," Boris and Natasha plot to release the titular gas (which makes all who inhale it idiots) into the US Congress. However, upon arriving there, they conclude that everyone there is an example of this and that there would be no point.
- Wolverine Publicity: It was called Rocky and His Friends at the onset, but many of the story arcs, including the first, centered around Bullwinkle. If Rocky wasn't merely Bullwinkle's sidekick, he was a congenial host in the "coming next" bumpers.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks
- In the Jet Fuel Formula arc, while stuck on Bloney Island, Rocky and Bullwinkle are digging for clams (which are the local currency). During their excavations, they uncover some pirate treasure. But it's not clams, so it's tossed aside.
- In the Upsidasium arc, Bullwinkle digs up some gold. But since it's not upsidasium (which admittedly is more valuable), Rocky tells him to get rid of it.
- In the Lazy Jay Ranch arc, the fishing resort of Angel's Cramp is experiencing a bait shortage. The fishers are frustrated while digging for worms because all they uncover are these silly gold nuggets.
- Would Hurt a Child: Boris and Natasha, towards Rocky.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: A bit of a gray area. In "Wossamotta U.," The Mud City Manglers were up 7-0 when Wossamotta scored a touchdown. The referee took three points away from Wossamotta after being intimidated by the Manglers, whom the referee gave the three points (two for a safety and one for being girls) thus making it 10-3 Manglers. Unless the additional three points were restored to Wossamotta, Bullwinkle's game-ending touchdown would have still given Mud City a 10-9 victory, although Rocky announced that Wossamotta won. Even with no time on the clock, there should have been an extra-point kick but none was forthcoming. The scoreboard during the climactic play read 7-0 Manglers, probably due to reusing a previous background.
- You Have Failed Me: Boris gets threatened with this at least once an episode, and the last few minutes of the series finale imply that his boss finally did it after Boris got caught in a rather nasty Morton's Fork.
- Zorro Mark: The Mark of Zero!
- The trope page is getting longer and longer!
Bullwinkle: It's longer than my auntie's socks!
But how much longer can it get?
Rocky: Longer than the average person spends on here, I bet.
Be with us next time for "On The Tropes" or "This Is Your Ruined Life"!