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"They're guaranteed to cheer you up. Unless, you know, they can't for some reason."
Official Trailer

Smiling Friends is an animated series for [adult swim], created in collaboration between noted online animators Zach "Psychicpebbles" Hadel (Hellbenders, OneyPlays) and Michael Cusack (YOLO: Crystal Fantasy & the Rick and Morty: Bushworld Adventures special).

The series focuses on the titular Smiling Friends, a charity dedicated to bringing happiness to the world. Cynical Charlie (Hadel) and star employee Pim (Cusack) are tasked with out-calls to help cheer people up, along with the meticulous Alan (Cusack) who keeps things in order, mysterious Glep (Hadel), and the unpredictable billionaire Boss (Marc M.) who founded the charity.

The show's pilot, "Desmond's Big Day Out", debuted on April 1st, 2020. In May 2021, Smiling Friends was picked up as a full series with its first season airing with nine episodes.note  The first season premiered on January 9, 2022, before coming to HBO Max on February 9. That same day, the show was picked up for a second season.

The official trailer can be seen HERE.

Smiling Friends provides iconic examples of:

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  • 555: The number for viewers to vote whether or not Smormu will join the Smiling Friends is listed as 555-0100.
  • Accidental Hero: The Smiling Friends do usually manage to help their clients, just not on purpose.
  • Actor Allusion: The guy ordering at the cafe in the third episode is voiced by Chills, a Youtuber known for doing Top 15 videos in a monotone voice, and was often a target of playful ribbing and impressions on OneyPlays. At the cafe, he is ordering a number fifteen.
  • Advertised Extra: Parodied in "Shrimp's Oddyssey" with Smormu, who was promoted and later added as the fith Smiling Friend, only to mysteriously die during the credits and never appear again.
  • Aerith and Bob: There are two Aeriths (Pim and Glep) and two Bobs (Charlie and Alan) in Smiling Friends' workforce.
  • All There in the Manual: Glep's language is called "Wingon," but you wouldn't know this unless you saw the OneyPlays episode where Zach first speaks in what would eventually become Glep's voice years later.
  • An Aesop:
    • While it's still played for laughs, the pilot has a plain message that that helping someone out of suicidal depression isn't as simple as cheering them up.
    • The show overall has the recurring motif of the Smiling Friends' simplistic and idealistic methods of cheering people up failing due to their clients' issues being far too complex and deep-seated for them to handle with their limited skillsets. They frequently only succeed in their assignments through accident, coincidence, or factors out of their control, and often with at least one person dying horribly in the process. On the other hand, their clients often solve their problems by themselves through taking necessary action against them, which shows how serious life issues need to be faced head-on instead of running away.
    • Frowning Friends has the message that while it's important to be aware of the issues with the world, unrelenting cynicism is just as unhealthy and useless as unrealistic idealism, especially if you lack the fortitude to genuinely stand by said cynicism.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Zig-zagged. Some characters have vibrant colors and cartoony physiology, while the ostensibly human characters possess more realistic skin tones.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: The claim made in "Frowning Friends" that all of Earth's helium will run out within 30 years is only half true; it's not the helium itself which is running out, but its reserves; helium is still being mined and produced at a low rate, but the lions' share of that which is on the market is taken from reserve storage, since the mining process (and yes, it is mined,) is an expensive and arduous endeavour, meaning most just prefer to take it out of storage than try to fund making more of it. As a result, the current production is vastly outnumbered by the demand, and by the 2050's at earliest we will start to proverbially scrape at the bottom of those helium tanks at the current production rate, which will in turn affect helium prices worldwide. So, while, yes, there will be a point in a few decades in which helium may no longer be as easily obtained as it is now, 3d Squelton can rest easy knowing that we are by no means about to see Earth completely depleted of the gas.
  • Artistic License – Economics: Played for laughs. None of the monetary figures thrown at in the series make any sense.
    • The Mr. Frog Show has been running for 47 seasons and has made its star one of the richest men in the world. Its producer expects Glep's first episode on it to get 200 million viewers, giving it twice the viewership of Super Bowl XLIX (the most viewed TV event of all time). Ignoring the nonexistent quality of the show and how such a one-note production could possibly last so many decades, no actor in the real world even makes the world's top one thousand wealthiest people.note 
    • Rex claims that the new Mr. Frog Show premiere starring Glep cost $250 million to produce. It consists, more or less, of Glep in a shoddy costume.
    • In "Frowning Friends", the Boss states that his company of half a dozen people has lost $2.4 billion in the span of a few days—this is also despite the fact that Smiling Friends doesn't even demand payment from its clients—at least not on screen.
  • Artistic License – History: Lampshaded by Pim in-universe as one of his many frustrations with the Renaissance Men in "Frowning Friends" is that they look more like they're from the High Medieval period than the Renaissance.
  • Art Shift: While the series already has an eclectic and varied set of art styles between characters, sometimes they switch art style for the sake of a gag.
    • The pilot ends with Pim stuck in Gross-Up Close-Up style, even in wide shot.
    • When Charlie punches Jeremy in the gut for shrieking in his face a second time, Jeremy goes from jittery two frame animation to a smooth and seemingly rotoscoped collapse as the he wheezes.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Charlie and Pim meet with their boss, he says they caught him in the middle of something while glancing at a baby on his desk, then asks if they have a problem watching someone eat. When they say "no" he picks up the baby... and starts breastfeeding it.
  • Base-Breaking Character: In-Universe, Smormu is considered to be this, with "viewers" in the United States either loving or hating him. This doesn't stop him from becoming the fifth Smiling Friend at the end of his debut episode and dying immediately after the credits though.
  • Badass Longcoat: Parodied in "Shrimp Quest." Charlie tries to make Shrimp looker cooler by getting him one. Instead, it makes him look creepy.
    • Gnarly from the Frowning Friends wears one.
  • Benevolent Boss: The boss of Smiling Friends is a bit odd, but his company's mission to make people smile appears to be sincere and he's shown to be perfectly nice to his employees.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Charlie and Pim. There’s also Alan and Glep, the lanky red thing with a tie and the small green character that speaks gibberish.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Most episodes have the protagonists succeed in making someone happy again, but but at the cost of horrible things happening and usually either Pim or Charlie having something bad happen to them.
    • "Desmond's Big Day Out". Charlie and Pim eventually manage to snap Desmond out of his suicidal funk and give him a new purpose in life and Alan got his cheese back, but Pim has been broken by Desmond's nihilism and is now in a depressive funk himself. Additionally, while Desmond gaining the will to live again is undeniably a good thing, there's still the disturbing matter of how he could only fine happiness by acting out sadistic tendencies.
    • "Mr. Frog" has the titular character come back into the public's good graces and become one of the richest men on the planet. However, he only does so by committing yet another act of violence, with it seeming like his one genuine attempt to mend his ways has become an Ignored Epiphany and he's back to his old ways again, with nobody caring except for maybe Charlie and Pim. Additionally, despite Glep having the makings of a star, Rex's censorship ruins his chance at taking over The Mr. Frog Show, with the original star reclaiming it.
    • "Shrimp's Odyssey" ends with Shrimp finding love again, though at the cost of Pim's chance to be in a relationship with a woman who was genuinely into him.
    • "A Silly Halloween Special" has Pim survives his ordeal, but is traumatized from the events and the demon hunting him is subjected to a brutal death after being accused of dressing up in blackface.
    • The end of "Who Violently Murdered Simon S. Salty?" reveals that the titular victim merely died from a heart attack, but the psychotic mascots escape and wreak havoc on the town, harming and killing a few people.
    • "Enchanted Forest": Charlie and Pim help the princess to smile again and she ends up surviving unharmed despite an attempted bombing, but it's revealed that Mip, the hobbit who was joining the two on their quest, was a psychotic stalker who tried to kill the princess with the aforementioned bomb and ended up getting Charlie sick with a potion he had given him earlier.
    • "Frowning Friends": The Frowning Friends are defeated when the Boss, who was trying to kill them during a psychotic break, exposes them as hypocrites and then redeem themselves when the Boss makes them feel happy again. However, they are still killed by the sudden arrival of the Renaissance Men.
  • Black Comedy: For starters, the A-Plot of the pilot consists of two guys trying to persuade a man not to kill himself. And he keeps the gun to his head the whole time.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Desmond turns his gun on the paperclip-wielding bliblie when it charges towards him, reducing its head into a red streak.
  • Bottle Episode: "The Smiling Friends Go to Brazil", which basically involves the guys being stuck at the airport when Pim fails to book them into a hotel.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Neither Charlie nor Pim is exactly wrong during their argument at the start of "Charlie Dies and Doesn't Come Back". Charlie's general cynicism and laziness does bring down the mood that Pim attempts to establish quite often and can be exhausting to deal with, but Pim's constant attempts to be positive and optimistic can be similarly grating and occasionally self-centered in how they don't always take what everyone is going through into account.
  • Blunt "Yes": Recognizing that Desmond's bleak outlook is way beyond their ability to treat, Charlie settles for pointing out an ant on the sidewalk. When Desmond asks if this is really his attempt to cheer him up, Charlie gives a flat "Yeah".
  • Break the Cutie: Pim's cheerful optimism is slowly broken down over the course of the pilot, culminating in him going catatonic after Desmond's unintentional Breaking Speech when they leave Daveland.
  • Brick Joke: A running theme.
    • In the pilot, Pim and Charlie are watching a video of an alien dancing. Pim loves it, but Charlie is annoyed. At the end of the episode the alien smashes through the television screen, horrifying everyone.
    • At the beginning of "Frowning Friends", Charlie mentions to Pim that a group called the Renaissance Men are supposed to arrive in town soon, but doesn't know anything about them. They abruptly show up at the very end of the episode solely to kill Grim and Gnarly with arrows before just as quickly leaving. Charlie lampshades their arrival afterward.
    • In "Shrimp Quest", a fake poll for a new character named "Smormu" appears at the very beginning. At the end, Smormu appears and it's announced he won the poll. Of course, he immediately dies, so it doesn't matter.
    • In "A Silly Halloween Special!" Charlie says he doesn't wear Halloween costumes because he doesn't want to get in trouble for wearing something offensive. In the last scene, the monster stalking Pim is torn limb from limb, has his entrails ripped out and eaten, and is finally set on fire by an angry mob who assumed he was wearing an offensive costume.
    • Pim and Charlie have a conversation at the start of "Who Violently Murdered Simon S. Salty?" about a Chinese delicacy called a "Century Egg." The egg later turns out to be an actual, living character who helps resolve the plot. In the end, the characters travel all the way to China to bury him, only to dig him up again when Pim wants to try a taste.
  • But Thou Must!: The option to add Smormu as one of the characters was seen as an option at the beginning of the episode only for it to reveal later that the "votes" were really just displayed on the same episode and Smormu would be one of the characters regardless.
  • The Cameo:
    • Chills (best known for the "Number 15: Burger King foot lettuce" meme) voices a café patron in "Shrimp's Odyssey" ordering exactly what you'd expect.
    • During the montage of quick-cuts after Charlie dies in "Charlie Dies and Doesn't Come Back," two live-action people are seen screaming. The first one happens to be Mike Stoklasa (who played Desmond in the pilot), and the second is James Rolfe.
    • Gilbert Gottfried makes an unexpected appearance in "Charlie Dies and Doesn't Come Back" playing the role of Smiling Friends' version of God.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Not only does each character have a unique design, but many are drawn in radically different art styles: Charlie, Alan, Glep, and Pim are all simplistic cartoon creatures, the boss and Desmond are drawn with overly-detailed anatomy, Desmond's mother and the guy living in the wall are sparsely animated doodles and one character is even rotoscoped. The only "normal"-looking character is Dave. Rather humorously, Desmond has 4 fingers on his right hand and 5 fingers on the hand holding the gun. When he ditches the gun, he has 4 fingers on each hand and his art style becomes less detailed in general.
  • Cheated Angle: Alan and Glep always have their noses parallel to the viewer, leaving only one eye visible. Charlie often has both eyes visible, but his nose can block one from the right angle.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Parodied in "Frowning Friends". Charlie reads on his phone that "the renaissance men are coming to town", but can't elaborate or offer any more context than that, leaving Pim confused; at the very end, a group of Crusaders arrive on horseback, shoot Gnarly and Grim full of arrows, and ride away. Pim gets very upset that it wasn't properly telegraphed despite Charlie's insistence otherwise, and also that they clearly weren't from the Renaissance.
  • Closet Sublet: Alan finds a hole behind the fridge that leads to an entire walled-up section of the building. Turns out some guy is living there, and gets hyper-defensive about both his residency and whatever he was looking at on his computer.
  • Cluster Bleep-Bomb: When Mr. Frog goes onto the Jimmy Fallon show to explain his recent misconduct, he says something so offensive (and presumably racist) it's covered by one long bleep that lasts several seconds; we never get any context as to who it was pointed at, but seeing even Charlie was left in gawking, silent shock, it was definitely pretty awful.
  • Continuity Nod: In the Christmas special, Pim brings up their helping Desmond in the pilot as an example of Charlie's negative attitude during their argument. Later in the episode, Dave the creator of Daveland can be seen at Charlie's funeral.
  • Creator Cameo: Michael Cusack appears as his live-action Lucas the Magnificent character on Glep's tablet.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Certain characters will gain red eyes when they scream, either out of fear or anger, such as Rex, the producer of the Mr. Frog show. It should be noted that this is a distinctive and iconic quirk of Zach Hadel's animation style that he's had ever since he started animation.
  • Dark Parody: Of We Help the Helpless cartoons like Care Bears, where instead of cheering up a moody kid or solving a friendship problem, the characters have to deal with serious, real-life issues that a lot of people have, such as trying to prevent a man from committing suicide in the pilot for starters, and the theme continues there. Ironically, the closest client to coming close to the "moody kid" staple is Satan himself, and even then, his issues are still realistic, given that he's lost all motivation in ruling hell and has gotten himself addicted to short lived dopamine hits through eating junk food, vaping, and gaming.
  • Deal with the Devil: Charlie makes a deal with Satan where if he makes Satan smile, Satan will then revive him and put him back on Earth. Charlie succeeds but Satan goes back on his word and tries to keep Charlie to torture for all eternity until God himself comes down to fulfill Satan's half of the deal.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Charlie apparently has an uncle that's been in at least two incidents with mass vehicular manslaughter, one of which took out an entire family while he was drunk.
    Pim: Your uncle seems to get into lots of car accidents...
    Charlie: Yeah he loves his cars! He loves his cars...
  • Dysfunctional Family: Pim's revealed to have one when he takes Desmond to meet them. His mom gets into shouting matches with his dad, who's bitter from working in the mines all day. His sister Amy is obsessed with her boyfriend and quite blunt about not liking Pim, and his littlest siblings mess around the house. The only one who seems relatively normal is his cousin, who at best is good at playing with tabletop skateboards. Pim admits to Charlie that he didn't remember his home life was like this because he hasn't visited since Christmas.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending:
    • Played with. Charlie and Alan are contently sharing a laugh together until the alien bursts from the TV screen to thank the audience for watching, much to their horror.
    • Happens again at the end of "Who Violently Murdered Simon S. Salty?" Where Pim and Charlie are left laughing uncomfortably having let very unstable fast food mascots loose in the streets after they'd been acquitted of murder charges.
  • Expy: The green creature who takes a bite out of Shrimp's head after he gets a tan seems to be a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo of Homer Simpson, right down to mimicking Homer's physical mannerisms and Catchphrase: "Mmmm...cooked shrimp."
    • The Salty's mascots are a parody of the McDonaldland Gang, and the Salty's intro shows them in a similar style to what McDonald's characters have been drawn in.
  • Extremely Short Intro Sequence: A Title-Only Opening that consists only of colored block letters on a black background, accompanied by a hyper carnival jingle that abruptly degrades.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Any fantastical creature or concept can show up for the sake of a joke. One episode reveals that just across the street from the Smiling Friends' mundane office building is a forest full of demons, witches, shapeshifters, medusas, centaurs, giant spiders, dragons, goblins, and apparently an entire civilization of Tolkien-esque elves. Also The Greys.
    Charlie: That one's not even fantasy, that's just an alien, Pim!
  • Fictional Earth: "Charlie Dies and Doesn't Come Back" shows that the planet the series takes place on is Earth (geographically at least; North and South America are clearly visible), and real-world references sometimes come up, but the world is quite divergent from ours in many ways. In addition to being the host of a Fantasy Kitchen Sink which none of the "normal" human characters blink an eye at, several episodes show that a ringed gas giant is visible in the sky (even in daytime), making its solar system completely fictional. Many of its sapient inhabitants are also of a species called "Critters", which by Word of God is the species that the main characters belong to (a few characters also call them such).
  • Fingore: Alan finds his seventy-fourth paperclip when the bliblie stabs his finger with its bent point. And then the Bliblies crucify him.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Inverted in "Charlie Dies and Doesn't Come Back", as Hell has actually frozen over after Satan ends up losing his motivation to torture souls.
  • Four Fingered Hand: The extra detail of a fifth digit is only added for select instances where a human's hand is in focus. One example is Desmond holding his revolver.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Charlie is the Phlegmatic, Pim is the Sanguine, Alan is the Melancholic, and Glep is the Choleric.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: There are many things that are moving so fast or seen so briefly you'd have to pause to see them. Including:
    • A variety of dirty Punny Names in the credits of Mr. Frog in "Mr. Frog".
    • The results of the poll for Smormu to become the fifth Smiling Friend in "Shrimp's Odyssey".
    • Grandfather Glep having a picture of himself in the Oval Office on the wall of his cabin in "Charlie Dies and Doesn't Come Back".
  • Gainax Ending: Almost every episode has one:
    • The first episode ends with the dancing creature from the TV breaking out of the screen, rapidly saying "Hello, thank you for watching!", with Charlie and Alan panicking about it and arguing about who should grab it.
    • The second episode ends with a news reporter announcing Mr. Frog's rise in wealth and popularity, right before Mr. Frog attacks her with a hammer.
    • The third episode ends with Smormu showing up out of nowhere and dancing a funny jig while an announcer reveals the gag poll's results. An unfazed Charlie walks off.
  • Gag Nose: Several characters have a prominent nose, a common trait in the Psychicpebbles character design.
  • Gentle Giant: Amy's boyfriend is a stone-faced muscleman who doesn't react to anything throughout his scene, until he suddenly stress-hurls on the table and starts apologizing profusely for ruining dinner.
  • Grossout Show: Not severely so, especially for an Adult Swim show, but just know that detailed wrinkles and veins are another staple of Hadel's characters.
  • Grossup Closeup:
    • By the end of the pilot, one is given of a slouched, emotionally-drained Pim (drawn by Dan "PencilMoose" Peacock).
    • There is another one of Shrimp wearing a leather jacket.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: When Desmond cheers up, all of his hair grows back, his skin becomes clearer, with no wrinkles or veins, and he puts on a nice suit.
  • Horror Comedy: While the show is primarily trying to make you laugh, it's also not above scaring the absolute shit out of you. This is a Creator Thumbprint of Zach Hadel.
  • Horror Host: The Halloween Episode "A Silly Halloween Special" has a live-action framing device where a nameless gray-haired man in a suit presents the episode. The closing portion has police forcing him to leave for loitering.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Pim gets mocked at a party he and Charlie take Desmond to, for apparently looking "like an old man"... by a man who appears to be much older than him and better fits the description.
  • Immune to Jump Scares: When Charlie ends up in Hell, his only form of entertainment is Jeremy, a noodly demon that jumps in his face and screams. Charlie says if he does that again, he's gonna punch him. When Jeremy pops out of nowhere later on, Charlie's only reaction is punching him in the stomach.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: Pops up so often that it borders on being a Running Gag, such as the dancing alien show from the Desmonds Big Day Out, the Mr. Frog show (which consists of the titular star running onto screen, giving an explanation of the show, and the actions he preforms, which consists of him eating a bug, then telling the viewer he loves them before the show ends) and Glep spitting, from Mr. Frog, and Jeremy, a demon who "entertains" Charlie by rapidly flailing his hands in his face while making rapid, high-pitched babbling sounds.
  • Infomercial: The newly-reinvigorated Desmond stars in one for his new bliblie extermination business.
  • invokedIn Memoriam: Spoofed. All end credits have one of these, the first including a slightly distorted picture of animator Adam Paloian, accompanied by the captions "In Loving Memory, Johnathan Q. Shrimpling (2004 - 2017)". None of the names are of real people, and only a few involve anyone actually involved in the episode, namely those from "Shrimp's Oddysey" (Smormu, not 30 seconds after he was announced as the fifth Smiling Friend) and "Who Violently Murdered Simon S. Salty?" (Simon S. Salty, naturally).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Alan is set up as an obnoxious, Obsessively Organized snob, but is shown to also be genuinely affectionate with Charlie at the end. Before that, he comforts the Bliblie who stole his cheese when he sees how frightened it is... unfortunately leaving him vulnerable to what turns out to be a violent pest.
  • Lactating Male: Mr. Boss lactates and breastfeeds his son in one scene.

  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": All of the Bliblies that overran the Smiling Friends office promptly stop their rioting and gasp in horror as Desmond blows the head off of the first Bliblie with his gun.
  • Medium Blending: The show is primarily in 2D, but frequently throws in live-action, stop-motion, and CGI into the mix.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: Brought up by Charlie when they arrive at Desmond's mother's house.
    Pim: This is gonna be great, Charlie! I love helping kids! I love kids, Charlie! I LOVE KIDS!
    Charlie: (Looks around nervously) Pim, I really would not be, uh, screaming that at the top of your lungs.
  • Mistaken for Racist: The Forest Demon is assumed to be someone wearing blackface for a costume. The partygoers tear him apart, eat him, and burn his remains for this.
  • Mister Seahorse: The boss of the Smiling Friends is definitely male, but has lactating breasts he uses to feed his child.
  • Mood Whiplash: A good chunk of "A Silly Halloween Special" is genuinely scary, with Pim getting lost in the woods and later being hunted by a forest demon. Then at the end, the episode goes right back to the series' usual over-the-top Black Comedy when a group of partygoers gruesomely kill the demon because he looked like he was in blackface.
  • Mundane Solution: Charlie and Pim's first quest in the Enchanted Forest is to help a tree spirit with a thorn in its side, who is complaining of immense pain. Pim tries to think of it like a riddle or metaphor, while Charlie just says that the thorn should be removed. Sure enough, Mip removes the thorn and the tree's pain is cured.
  • Namedworld and Namedland: Daveland, an amusement park themed entirely around its founder: some guy named Dave.
  • Narrator All Along: The ending of "Charlie Dies and Doesn't Come Back" reveals that the narrator from the beginning is a much older Glep, telling the story to his grandchild and revealing that Hell is indeed real, and Christianity was right all along.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The Brazil vacation episode was hyped up to seem like the gang would finally get some relaxation. In the episode, they do nothing but sit inside the airport talking about nothing. They never actually went to the beach. The episode description was deceptive as well; Pim does not, in fact, work on his novel.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Renaissance Men are clearly themed after The High Middle Ages. Pim is confused and frustrated by this.
  • The Oner: "The Smiling Friend Go to Brazil!" is (apart from the intro) shot in one continous take.
  • Peace & Love Incorporated: Smiling Friends itself is a subversion. At first, it sounds like a shallow business destined to capitalize on people's misery or even trick them into thinking they need to pay someone to cheer them up. However, the company seemingly operates entirely on charity donations and its mission to just cheer people up is shown to be completely sincere, especially once you see how much the world around them need it.
  • Police Are Useless: In "Who Violently Murdered Simon S. Salty?", Pim calls 911 upon discovering the titular character's corpse. The guy on the other line just lazily tells him that the police no longer conduct murder investigations due to budget cuts, having outsourced that duty to the Smiling Friends of all people.
  • Political Overcorrectness: The Forest Demon is brutally beaten, dismembered, and partially eaten all because the partygoers thought he was wearing blackface. Oddly enough, the people getting mad about this attacked the forest demon just by the color of his skin.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: The Boss does this in "Frowning Friends" after being driven mad from the titular company stealing his business, even having a conversation with his reflection over what to do about it.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: As is to be expected in anything created by web-based writers, the comic timing is breakneck fast, with some gags lasting mere frames.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Notably averted by Pim and Charlie, who regularly stutter, talk over or interrupt each other, and take time to find their words in a fairly realistic manner.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: This happens In-Universe to Mr. Frog, as he gets fired from his own show after he attempts to eat a TMZ reporter. Pim and Charlie try to fix his reputation so he can get his career back. In the end, Mr. Frog somehow gets back on the show after doing something even worse: eating the director on live TV.
  • Rotoscoping: The partygoer who yells at Pim for touching him is animated this way. He comes back in the Halloween episode to tell off the Forest Demon for (what he assumes) wearing blackface.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Shrimp does this in "Shrimp's Odyssey" when telling the Smiling Friends why he needed them.
    Shrimp: Sigh. My girlfriend just broke up with me. I am 'artbroken.
  • Secret Test: Parodied with God who plays it off as if Charlie's stay at Hell has been that the entire time.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: The entirety of "The Smiling Friends Go To Brazil" revolves around the Friends sitting in the airport and talking about nothing.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: In "The Smiling Friends Go To Brazil" they ultimately don't leave the airport due to the unlikeliness of booking a hotel room that late, and instead take the next flight back home.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Surprisingly lies in the middle, which is fairly idealistic for an [adult swim] cartoon. The Smiling Friends organization is genuinely interested in making people happy despite the Boss’s creepy moments, but run into difficulties due to the bizarre and occasionally horrifying nature of the world they live in. The protagonist Pim and Charlie represent two opposing sides, with Pim often being too idealistic for his own good while Charlie is often cynical in a defeatist fashion. Despite their difficulties, they always do manage to reach their assigned goal, but generally in a strange, darkly humorous or accidental fashion. "Frowning Friends" best displays the show's status in the center by having the Aesop that extreme cynicism is just as silly and useless as extreme idealism.
  • Smiting Evil Feels Good: Having blown the head off of a Bliblie with his revolver, Desmond says killing it felt good and finally cracks a smile, turning his life around right after. What keeps it from veering into the territory of Bad People Abuse Animals is that the Bliblies are massive infestations of dangerous and violent pricks to deal with.
  • Standard Office Setting: Downplayed. Most of the scenes in the Smiling Friends building take place in the staff break room. The only office shown is that of their boss, which is dimly colored and barren aside from the door and the desk.
  • The Stinger:
  • Straw Nihilist: Given that the sun's eventually going to explode and kill everyone left on the planet no matter what, Desmond figures that life's fleeting moments of happiness are more or less pointless timewasters.
    • The Frowning Friends try to force this philosophy on everyone else in town, but they (or at least Grim) quickly fold once they're faced with their own imminent deaths.
  • Strictly Formula: The In-Universe Mr. Frog Show has the same premise for every episode: Mr. Frog appears, introduces himself, eats a bug, explains that he just ate a bug and restates his name, and then the credits roll. Such comforting familiarity has won over audiences the world over, leading to it becoming one of the most popular and critically acclaimed TV shows of all time, with 47 seasons on air as of the present day (though in Charlie's opinion only seasons 4 through 17 are worth watching).
  • Stunned Silence: When Mr. Frog appears on the The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Mr. Frog ends up worsening his situation by saying something extremely racist, which has Jimmy, Charlie, and Pim in silent shock.
    Pim: Um, that was uh... that was really bad.
  • Stylistic Suck: The show often intentionally does away with every last in-between frame to animate ludicrous events at near-epileptic speeds. All in the name of humor, of course (and sometimes horror, when it comes to Mr. Frog and his unnervingly fast shenanigans).
  • Suddenly Shouting: The characters sometimes abruptly shout at the top of their lungs, as typical of Hadel's works. For example, there's this moment leading up to Desmond's introduction.
    Desmond's Mom: I'm so glad you boys came! Now he's just right in here, I hope he's not sleeping. (inhales, then knocks on her son's door at superhuman speed for one second) DESMOND!!!! The Smiling Friends are here! (leads Charlie and Pim in)
    • Pim usually does this whenever he's excited about doing a task, such as going to the enchanted forest and making a client smile. This sometimes startles Charlie.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: A huge component of the shows humor is the contrast between the cutesy, insane and cracked-out world of Smiling Friends and the realistic consequences that befall the main characters for their actions. To wit:
    • Pim's attempt to make Mr. Frog go cold turkey on drugs causes him to suffer from withdrawal symptoms that send his violent tendencies into overdrive.
    • Early in "Shrimp's Odyssey", Charlie comments on Pim's terrible eyesight, which Pim blows off. Much later in the episode, it's revealed that Pim got the address of Shrimpina mixed up with the address of a random café worker named Jennifer. The former works at 153 Meep Boulevard, while the latter works at 158 Meep Boulevard, meaning Pim's poor eyesight caused him to confuse the two. As well, Charlie's attempts to toughen Shrimp up by forcing him to squat "100 pounds" (it looks like much more, as there are three pairs of sizeable weights on the bar) goes horribly wrong when the latter can barely lift the barbell and shatters his shoulder.
    • Charlie kills a dragon by dumping a huge pile of the creature's own treasure hoard onto its head. As it turns out, gold is extremely heavy and a sufficient pile of it can crush anything, even a dragon covered in impenetrable scales.
    • Both times that DJ Spit pulls a gun on the Smiling Friends, Charlie makes a clumsy attempt to disarm him that reflects how difficult and dangerous it can be for an untrained person to try and grab a gun from someone.
    • When Charlie dies in the season finale, he meets a demon called Jeremy who shrieks and violently flails his hands in front of Charlie's face. After pushing him away, Charlie says that if Jeremy does that again, he'll punch him. Sure enough, when Jeremy pops up later in the episode and does that exact thing, Charlie throws a punch to his solar plexus. Instead of merely falling over, Jeremy hunches down to his knees and begins wheezing and drooling, much the same way someone would react to having the wind punched out of them.
  • Surreal Humor: Considering who's writing the show, this shouldn't come as much of a surprise. This all comes to a head at the end of almost every episode.
  • The Swarm: The Bliblies, an infestation of tiny, high-pitched purple beings.
  • Take That!:
    • Jimmy Fallon's infamously fake laughing is parodied when he inappropriately cracks up at Mr. Frog mentioning his life's current difficulty. There's also him constantly shifting his position every so often and slamming his desk as well, exaggerations of his real-life behaviours.
    • Rex, the executive producer of the Mr. Frog show, is an open jab at studio executives who aggressively insert themselves in the creative process of a show, giving unhelpful, contradictory advice and acting shocked when said advice leads to the show's quality declining.
    • Smormu is one to half-assed additions to a show's core cast, especially ones that get shilled to high heavens. He's also wearing a "I'm With Her" shirt.
    • Tom Brady's infamous tendency to kiss his kids on the mouth is also parodied in one episode, with Pim and his dad doing the same when he was young; Pim was reminiscing on longing to visit the Enchanted Forest, but Charlie finds it too creepy to let it pass.
      Charlie: You kiss your dad on the mouth?
    • The scene where Grim declares that "Nothing matters because we're all gonna die someday!" and then immediately after is held at gunpoint and proceeds to not only tearfully beg for his life but piss his pants while he does this may be a jab at the overly cynical and nihilistic attitudes of other adult animated series (Rick and Morty, etc.), as well as that of a lot of media in general.
    • While Charlie criticizes many of Satan's lifestyle choices in the first season finale, what really sets the Devil off is Charlie commenting on his vaping addiction. Him playing Rust may also be a subtler jab at the game's infamously toxic fanbase at the time of the episode's airing.
    • In "The Smiling Friend Go to Brazil!", one of the background characters at the airport is a fat guy playing on a Nintendo Switch, referencing the stereotype surrounding adults who play games in public.
  • Television Portal: Not so much a portal as a shattered barrier, but the alien on TV goes through it nonetheless.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: After Desmond's nihilism finally breaks him, Pim spends the rest of the episode staring blankly at the ground, mouth agape, in horror then despair.
  • Title-Only Opening: Each episode begins with only the logo, flashing in many colors, and a few second long synth loop.
  • Torn Apart by the Mob: In the Halloween Episode, after spending half the episode chasing Pim, a forest demon gets ripped apart and burnt in a pyre by partygoers because they thought he was wearing blackface.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
    • Desmond's wife left him, she took the kids, and his dog died of a broken heart last Fall. Is it any wonder he's considering suicide now?
    • Pim goes through his own throughout the pilot, where his attempt to show the joys of family only reminds him why he hasn't visited, his attempt to make friends only gets him laughed at and introspective about his age, and his attempt to cheer up at Daveland is called out by Desmond as a meaningless distraction. By the end of the pilot, Desmond's turned his life around since he's got a new purpose, while Pim's become as grey and depressed as Desmond once was.
  • The Unintelligible: Several characters. Glep, the alien on TV, and all of the Bliblies.
  • Uncanny Valley: A staple of Michael Cusack's works.
    • The TV Alien looks creepily realistic compared to everyone else. Charlie's panic and freakout at it in the end is understandable.
    • Invoked with Desmond's overly-detailed, exaggerated features, such as his neck folds, flabby gut, baggy eyes, clammy skin and visible chest scar. The creators pull no punches making him look gross.
    • The guy at the party that Pim tries to make friends with is animated in deliberately bad rotoscope. Pair that with his callous nature and the fish eye angle that he's shot from and he does a very good job of making the audience feel as unsettled and nauseated as intended.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Pim and Charlie take no notice of a man getting his head stomped into a pulp in the hallway outside Shrimpy's apartment.
  • Vacation Episode: Subverted with "The Smiling Friends Go To Brazil", where thanks to Pim forgetting to book hotel rooms, he, Charlie, Alan and Glep decide to cut their losses and catch the next flight home, with the implication that the plane crashing at the end is stranding them at the airport even longer.
  • Verbal Tic: Nearly all of Mr. Frog's sentences start or end with "hello," regardless if he's already greeted the person he's talking to.
  • Visual Pun: The TV alien literally breaks the fourth wall between him and the Friends before he directly addresses the audience.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot:
    • Amy's boyfriend abruptly tosses his cookies in the middle of dinner.
    "Babe": Sorry! I- I'm sorry. I ruined it. I'm sorry.
    • Pim does this out of nervousness in front of “Shrimpina” in Shrimp’s Odyssey.
  • Wham Line: The reason the Princess of the Enchanted Forest hired the Smiling Friends is revealed once she realizes the gift's from from Mip.
    Princess: Did you just say Mip?
    Pim: Yep.
    Charlie: Yeah, Mip, yeah.
    Princess: Oh my god!
    Pim: Did you know him?
    Princess: He was the entire reason I wasn't able to smile for my portrait. He's my stalker!
  • Wham Shot: The reveal of Desmond, pistol to his temple.
    • Shortly after the Wham Line above, Mip's package to the princess is revealed to be a pipe bomb.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The Smiling Friends' city is never named. "Charlie Dies" displays a globe which shows that it lies somewhere in the northeastern United States, but the simple art style makes it hard to tell exactly where.
  • A World Half Full: There are lots of unpleasant and hostile people in the world of Smiling Friends, plus maniacs like Mr. Frog are able to roam around freely instead of inside a maximum security prison and even be insanely popular TV stars, but there are just as many nice characters as there are jerks and bullies and the eponymous charity organization itself is more or less competent at doing their own job.
  • World of Jerkass: Every character we see who doesn't work for the titular service is, appropriately enough, either unpleasant, miserable, or a bully. It seems logical that Smiling Faces would be necessary.

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The Mr. Frog Show

He's Mr. Frog. This is his show. He eats the bug. He ate the bug. This is the end. He loves you.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (34 votes)

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Main / ShowWithinAShow

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