I am the visual, the inspiration, that made Lady sing the blues
I'm the spark that makes your idea bright
The same spark that lights the dark so that you can know your left from your right
I am the ballot in your box, the bullet in the gun
The inner glow that lets you know to call your brother 'son'
The story that's just begun
The promise of what's to come
And I'ma remain a soldier till the war is won
Chop, chop, chop, judo flip! Chop, chop, chop, judo flip!
Chop, chop, chop!
The Boondocks is an animated series that aired intermittently on [adult swim] from 2005 to 2014, running for a total of four seasons with 55 episodes. It was adapted from the comic strip of the same name that was created by Aaron McGruder.
Like the comic strip, this series focused on the lives of the Freemans, a black family from inner city Chicago who move into the mostly white suburb of Woodcrest, Maryland. The main protagonist and narrator is Huey Freeman (Regina King), a preteen radical leftist activist who despite his extreme politics, is usually depicted as the lone voice of reason. His younger brother Riley Freeman (Regina King) is a troublemaking delinquent who idolizes gangsta rappers. Their grandfather Robert Freeman (John Witherspoon) is a Grumpy Old Man who is quite likely too senile for his own good, and can usually be found chasing younger women.
Other important characters include Uncle Ruckus (Gary Anthony Williams), an old black man who has a deep hatred of his own race. Also returning is Tom Dubois (Cedric Yarbrough), a very friendly yet hapless black lawyer with a white wife Sarah (Jill Talley) and a mixed daughter Jazmine (Gabby Soleil). Compared to the comic strip, there's a considerably larger cast of strange and colorful characters, both recurring and one-time.
Like the comic strip, this series satirizes many issues about African Americans and the United States in general, but takes a different approach to it. Rather than just overt social commentary, the series's brand of humor is far more over-the-top, with the Freemans constantly getting into wacky misadventures with weird people, along with some occasional martial arts action scenes.
The first three seasons were made with Aaron McGruder's direct involvement. The fourth season was not, as he was busy working on Black Jesus. Since the end of Season 4, there has been no confirmation of any continuation of this series. There were aborted plans to give Uncle Ruckus a spin-off live-action film via Kickstarter; however, it failed to receive enough funding. Well after Season 4 ended, McGruder expressed an interest in creating a video game adaptation of the show. Later in 2019, Aaron McGruder and Seung Eun Kim created some new comic strips satirizing the current state of American politics and pop culture.
- Abusive Parents:
- Robert uses his belt rather liberally to discipline his grandsons, especially Riley. Granted though, Riley is very poorly behaved most of the time, but you can't help but think that his Granddad still overdoes it.
- Luna grew up with an abusive father. This would later be mirrored by Luna's relationships with abusive boyfriends. This all explains why she's so crazy and distrustful of men.
- This is the reason Lamilton Taeshawn's grandmother gives for her grandson's sociopathic behavior, saying that he comes from a family where everyone is an alcoholic and abuse each other. Unlike Uncle Ruckus' situation, this all bores Huey and Granddad.
- Uncle Ruckus' father and paternal grandmother, who were grade-A assholes who took out life's frustrations on their own children. Uncle was savagely abused by his father Mister, who in turn had learned it from his own mother Nelly. Uncle Ruckus was so emotionally scarred that combined with copying his mother's extreme love of white people, he learned to hate most black people.
- Action Girl:
- Luna, a champion martial artist who once ripped out a man's heart during a fighting tournament. When Robert becomes too scared to continue dating her, she has a mental breakdown and proves him right.
- Thelma. In all three versions of the Catcher Freeman story, she participated in a deadly slave revolt against Colonel Lynchwater; although in Robert and Ruckus' versions of the story, she was mostly a Distressed Damsel and a Femme Fatale, respectively. In the true and final version of the story, she was the rebelling slaves' leader, who actually fought a sword duel with Lynchwater.
- Ming Long-dou is a preteen example, who is surprisingly deadly with her kickball skills. It should be noted that the kickball game is played out like a brutal brawl with lots of beatings and fighting.
- Esmeralda Gripenasty is an elderly example; along with her equally old male accomplices, they are surprisingly fast and strong, and cause a lot of trouble for our protagonists.
- Actor Allusion:
- There are many reference to John Witherspoon and Regina King's roles in Friday here and there. Heck, at on point, Grandad even references the climax of the film where Craig fought Deebo, only with him in Craig's role. Riley quickly calls him out on it that he just got it from the film.
- In "Smokin' with Cigarettes", Tom Kane voices a Dr. Loomis Expy. In Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later, Kane filled in for Donald Pleasance during Dr. Loomis's monologue about Michael during the opening scene.
- Actual Pacifist: The Freedom Riders in "Freedom Ride or Die" are taught and pledged to be this in their efforts to show their moral superiority over the racists in the '60s. Their leader, Sturdy Harris, is more of a Martial Pacifist. Robert himself rejects their pacifism, believing it is better to either flee from or fight back against the angry racist mobs.
- An Aesop: Many episodes have some kind of message:
- Don't perpetuate negative stereotypes about your own people.
- Don't fight with people over stupid and/or trivial reasons.
- Don't trust banks and big business in general.
- After the End: "The Fried Chicken Flu". It appears that most of the world is dead, society is breaking down, and the Freeman house may be the last safe place, all thanks to a mysterious virus caused by fried chicken. It turns out that the media blew things out of proportion. No one's actually dead and the "flu" is just salmonella. It's also shown that Ruckus and his group are the only ones dressed in that Mad Max gear, which Thugnificent points out.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version has a different opening theme, by SOULD'd OUT of Voodoo Kingdom fame.
- Animated Music Video:
- Animation Bump: The overall visual quality of the Season 1 animation is absolutely nothing compared to the Season 2 or 3 animation, which makes it hard to re-watch old episodes at times.
- Animesque: McGruder specifically ordered the TV series to be made with an anime-inspired design, right down to hiring the South Korean animation studios Moi Animation, owned by the Japanese studio Madhouse, who did some uncredited work and Dong Woo Animation, owned by Studio Gallop, to help animate the series. Especially notable is that mouth movement is not smooth in the series, unlike most Western animated shows.
- Applied Mathematics: Nigga Moment (perpetual conflict between niggas over trivial and/or ignorant things) + Nigga Synthesis (perpetual bond between niggas over trivial and/or ignorant things) = complete disaster.
- Armoured Closet Gay:
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- When Uncle Ruckus came to the Freeman household to exorcise Tom, who is possessed by the spirit of Stinkmeaner, he used the following tools: a whip, a noose, a night stick, a branding iron and a job application. According to the self-hating Ruckus, these are the things that the black man fears the most.
- "She called me obsessed... disturbed... icky." Said by the obsessed counselor in "Smokin' with Cigarettes"
- A visual example in "The Color Ruckus", when Uncle Ruckus is telling the story of his childhood. When his father is throwing him out of the house: he steps on a rake, which hits him in the face and gives him his trademark bulging eye and broken teeth; he steps in a bear trap, giving him a limp; and he gets wet paint from the fence on his shirt. His mother cries it'll need a presoak to get out.
- Art Evolution: Much like The Venture Bros., Season 3 improves the animation overall.
- Ascended Meme: In "Mr. Medicinal", Riley states that he's going to challenge Jaden Smith to a fight if he moves to LA. This is a reference to many popular pictures comparing Riley to the new Karate Kid.
- As Himself: Ghostface Killah. As an actual ghost. Other guest stars include Werner Herzog and Bill Maher.
- Ass Kicks You: Tom uses this to escape from the Booty Warrior.
- As You Know: Grandad even says "Look, nobody needs to be reminded of that tragic day you gave that girl a permanent severe limp" right before telling the story.
- Audience Surrogate: Ebony Brown, who deconstructs Uncle Ruckus' appeal, leans on the fourth wall, and expresses a desire to be a part of the main characters' wacky adventures. The fact that she's mind-bogglingly attractive and practically a saint suggests that McGruder is either playing around by making an in-universe Mary Sue fanfic in his own show, or he really, really appreciates his audience. She also might be McGruder's reply to black feminists who criticized him for not having a black woman as a regular on the show. He's basically saying this is the only character black women would be happy with, but there's no way she's going to be in the cast.
- Author Tract:
- Awesome, but Impractical: Your watch may be too bling if...you can't read the time in direct sunlight.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Every once in awhile the Freemans will have a moment that demonstrate that deep down, they care about each other's well being. It's often one-sided and understated, but with the way characters usually act, it still says a lot.
- Bald of Evil:
- Ed Wuncler I.
- Colonel H. Stinkmeaner.
- Esmeralda Gripenasty.
- Berserk Button:
- Huey does not like being laughed at.
- You can't have Tom's wife or his booty.
- Try not to throw any chairs when a large amount of black people are present.
- The "Nigga Moment" as a whole occurs when two or more black people get into an altercation because one party regards a petty slight as this. The two individuals involved don't even need to be actual niggasnote for a Nigga Moment to occur; two otherwise intelligent black people can start a Nigga Moment simply because one of them won't let the issue go.
- Don't try to shorten A Pimp Named Slickback's name when you address him:A Pimp Named Slickback: A Pimp Named Slickback! It's like A Tribe Called Quest, you say the whole thing!
- Big Damn Heroes: Thugnificent and his crew rescuing the Freemans and DuBoises in "The Fried Chicken Flu".
- Bilingual Backfire: Huey. High-stakes kickball. "I don't like being laughed at."
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: "You better not be watching any of that [adult swim]!"
- Bittersweet Ending: "Bitches to Rags" leaves Thugnificent bankrupt and forced to sell his home. However, he sort of manages to make a comeback as a UPS delivery man, realizing the "rapper lifestyle" wasn't going to last forever and that he had to move on. He does decide to makes a reality TV show based on his post rap career, though.
- Black Comedy: This series has a very cynical sense of humor. Corrupt authorities, racial stereotypes, and violent crime are all Played for Laughs.
- Black Comedy Rape:
- This series managed to take a horrible crime and make fear of said crime hilarious in "A Date with the Health Inspector".
- "A Date with the Booty Warrior" contains this, especially the opening with Chris Hansen.
- Black Sitcom: Obviously.
- Bland-Name Product: The store where Lamilton beats up his grandma is called Walli-Mart. What makes this strange is that Walmart was actually mentioned by name in another episode.
- Blind Black Guy: Col. H. Stinkmeaner.
- Blunt "Yes":
- After Stinkmeaner collides his car into Robert's:
- Another time, Robert's fed up with the fact that all of his internet dates are ugly women who used fake pictures on their profile. He complains to one of them about it:Date: Is that all you care about is looks?
- Boomerang Bigot:
- Uncle Ruckus, who'd join the Klan if he wasn't black. The irony is that he has the darkest skin out of all the cast. He claims to have "re-vitiligo", the opposite of what Michael Jackson's got.
- Colonel Stinkmeaner says that he hates everyone, but black people especially.
- The BET TV network executives despise their own audience, so they make sure that their programming keeps black people dumbed down.
- We learn that Uncle Ruckus partly learned his behavior from his mother, who wasn't exactly hateful of black people like he would be, but still thought that white people are better.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In "The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show", when Ruckus learns that he is 102% African, and subsequently quits all his jobs:Ruckus: Don't know how I'm gonna pay the bills. Probably have to start selling crack. Or rapping. Or rapping about selling crack.
- Brick Joke:
NIGGA MOMENT + NIGGA SYNTHESIS = COMPLETE DISASTERStinkmeaner: Remember this equation. You will need it later, nigga!
- From "Stinkmeaner 3: The Hateocracy":
NIGGA MOMENT + NIGGA SYNTHESIS = COMPLETE DISASTERStinkmeaner: It's a beautiful day to fuck shit up! (Evil Laugh)
- What happens later? The "complete disaster" is the Hateocracy killing Bushido Brown.
Tom: Don't you see honey? If I'm afraid to live my life, then the anal rapists win. My anus is going to be fine, and I'm going to make sure those young boy's anuses are just fine too!
- "Pause" had a scene where Riley explains to Granddad about saying "No homo" after saying something that could be taken into gay subtext. Cut to the next episode "A Date with the Booty Warrior".
- Bring My Brown Pants:Uncle Ruckus "Say that again? I couldn't hear you over the sound of me sh***in' myself."
- Broke Episode: "Bitches to Rags". A rare permanent example for poor
- But Not Too Black: Huey points out that the typical virtuous, love interest in a Winston Jermone movie will always be lighter then the ungrateful, Jesus-hating husband.
- Card-Carrying Villain:
- Stinkmeaner and the Hateocracy bully other people for no reason other than having some evil fun.
- Lamilton Taeshawn has the same motives for his crimes as well.
- Deborah Leevil is a cackling and scheming supervillainess who plans to destroy black people. She insists that BET doesn't stand for Black Entertainment Television, but Black Evil Television.
- Cassandra Truth: Played depressingly straight with Huey as far as everyone hitting him, cursing him out, or fiendishly mocking him whenever he speaks the truth about the world around him:
- In the "The Fundraiser", Riley actually recognizes that everything Huey says comes true. However, he just decides not to listen, because he
doesn't like spoilersthinks things go wrong because Huey talks about them.
- However, Riley makes an exception when Huey gives him a bulletproof vest, and makes the smart move of constantly wearing it. It ends up saving his life.
- In "The Fried Chicken Flu" this becomes a major plot point, since Huey has been preparing for the end. Hell, his survival plan is even titled, "I Told You So." They have enough food, supplies, and backup power for four people. Unfortunately, no one but Jazmine read Huey's plan, and because Riley and Granddad refused to listen to him for their own selfish ends, nine people occupy the house, the power goes out, and food becomes scarce. It all goes to waste however; everyone in Woodcrest mistakenly thought the world was ending, when in fact the "killer fried chicken flu" was just an outbreak of salmonella.
- In the Season 3 finale, Granddad lampshades this at the very end:Granddad: Wow, Huey. You were totally right this time. Just imagine all the problems we could avoid if we just listened to you. Oh well.
- In the "The Fundraiser", Riley actually recognizes that everything Huey says comes true. However, he just decides not to listen, because he
- The Cartel: In "The Lovely Ebony Brown", we see that one of Robert's ex-girlfriends was a female Dominican drug boss, who brought an armed henchman to their date.
- Catch-Phrase: Several characters have at least one. Also most black characters say "nigga" to the point of it being a Verbal Tic:
- "Nigga, you gay!"
- "Boy, where's my belt?!"
- Not really a phrase, but Granddad has that little tune he sings constantly with the words being just about anything on his mind at the time."New shoes, New shoo-oo-oo-oo-ooo-oes!"
"Good food, Good foo-oo-oo-oo-ooo-ood!"
"Soul Plane, Soul Pla-aa-aa-aa-aaa-ane!"
- Uncle Ruckus:
- "Uncle Ruckus, no relation."
- "I've got re-vitiligo (it's the opposite of what Michael Jackson's got)."
- Colonel H. Stinkmeaner: "BITCH-ASS NYUKKA!"
- Ed Wuncler III: "(What the) fuck y'all looking at?"
- A Pimp Named Slickback: "I'm A Pimp Named Slickback."
- Thugnificent: "No homo."
- Celebrity Paradox:
"Grandad, you didn't live that, that's from that movie Friday."
- Robert is voiced by John Witherspoon, yet both Friday and Soul Plane exist in the show:
- Character Development:
- Tom. He starts out as a hypocrite and, for lack of a more poignant term, a pussy. His main fear was being anally raped in prison, and yet, as a prosecutor, he sent many young men to that same fate. He realizes his hypocrisy, and decides to become a defense attorney, and goes to therapy to get over his phobia. He does well, and decides to test himself by chaperoning a "scared stiff" program, where boys are shown around a prison to scare them straight. He freaks out and leaves them at the mercy of the rioting prisoners, then realizes what a horrible thing he did. While on the rescue mission, he is confronted by a naked prisoner in the shower, who attempts to rape him. Tom actually stands and fights against him, and comes out victorious.
- Uncle Ruckus. He starts as just a self-hating, bitter, black man who works 47 jobs and claims to have "re-vitiligo," a made up disease that makes him black. It is revealed in the episode "The Color Ruckus" that he hates black people because he was actually brought up in a black family in which his father and grandmother were terrible to him, and his mother, who was very nice to him, would teach him all about how great she thought white people were. He probably was not adopted and does not have re-vitiligo, even if he still thinks so. At the end of the episode, he decides that he shouldn't hate black people, but rather, feel sorry for them. This isn't much of an improvement, but it's probably better than hating them. However, this character development is thrown out the window by Season 4, as Ruckus is just as hateful as before.
- Riley. Even being a established main character, Season 1 only has three episodes focused on him. And only "Rilery Wuz Here" has a real conflict and development. Season 2, on the other hand, has half of the first ten episodes about him and his development as a person.
- Characterization Marches On: It happens in general in the series compared to the comic strip. The series is more social commentary than political, and thus focuses on the ways people can be ignorant. As a result, the characters are changed to reflect this:
- Granddad, who is in the comic strip a wise but weary man who just wants to enjoy his golden years, becomes self-centered, greedy, and obsessed with appearances.
- Riley is more of an exaggeration of himself; he is even more "thug life" than he was in the comic strip, but in addition becomes a Small Name, Big Ego and loses much of his "clever but willfully Book Dumb" traits.
- Huey becomes less extreme, less aggressively opinionated and becomes wiser; basically, his Jerk with a Heart of Gold activist traits are traded for amplifying his Only Sane Man traits. This, in turn, leads him to not quite need a foil to mellow him out and point out when he's being hypocritical, which resulted in Michael Caesar not needing to make an appearance.
- Nearly every character from the comic strip gets some kind of alteration: Tom's foppish traits become the entire basis for his character, as well as his marriage problems. Jazmine's problems with racial identity are downplayed in favor of her extreme naivete. But nobody gets this greater than Cindy McPhearson, who is a completely different character: she goes from being a racially ignorant ditz in the comic strip to being an even crazier version of Riley in the series.
- Cluster F-Bomb:
- The whole series is a giant Cluster N-Bomb. According to this video, there are approximately (give or take) 1,298 uses of "nigga", "nigger", etc.
- There's lots of other profanity in this show, such as "fuck" and "shit", which are usually bleeped out on TV (but uncensored on DVD).
- Tom says "shit" repeatedly after his basketball team loses at the end of "Ballin'".
- Riley has a rather impressive Cluster F-Bomb to the British chocolate importer in "The Fundraiser".
- The Chew Toy:
- Tom, frequently, generally when he is a pivotal character in the episode.
- His daughter sometimes as well.
- Colliding Criminal Conspiracies: The end of "The Fundraiser".
- Comedic Sociopathy:
- Ruckus and how he treats other black people.
- Mr. Wuncler in how he uses illegal immigrant and/or child labor is also often played for laughs.
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Played with. The Hateocracy consists of Lord Rufus Crabmiser, Lady Esmerelda Gripenasty and Mister George Pistofferson. Their designs are based on Redd Foxx, Lawanda Page and Jimmy Walker, respectively.
- Comic-Book Time: The characters don't age despite the fact the series takes place in the "present day". Huey should now have been far older than ten when Obama was elected, for example.
- Common Nonsense Jury:
- In "The Trial of R. Kelly", a jury full of R. Kelly fans are easily convinced that the trial was all about racism against the defendant. Never mind that there's a lot of damning evidence against R. Kelly. In the same episode, Uncle Ruckus claims to have served on a (mostly) white jury in the 1950s, where he convicted a blind black man of shooting white women.
- In "The Passion of Reverend Ruckus", Shabazz K. Milton Berle was sentenced to death for the murder of a cop, even though the real killer, Eli Gorbinsky, shouted to everyone that he did it, and left all the evidence at the scene.
- Comically Missing the Point: Ruckus has a seething hatred of black people and everything about them despite not only being black, but being one of the darkest skinned characters in the series. He insists he has "that thing Michael Jackson had, but in reverse."
- Conflict Ball: The "Nigga Moment" is essentially this In-Universe. It describes a moment when ignorance overwhelms the mind of an otherwise logical black man, causing him to act in an illogical, self-destructive manner, such as getting into a shootout over a guy brushing against their shoulder on the street. Its inverse is "Nigga Synthesis"; when willfully ignorant black men join together and bond over something trivial and/or stupid. The two are not mutually exclusive, as Applied Mathematics teaches us that a "Nigga Moment" + "Nigga Synthesis" = "Complete &$%^ing Disaster".
- Continuity Nod: It's safe to say that the series is rife with these. Including several episodes that were (very loosely) adapted from the comic strip:
- The Season 1 opening prominently features a profile of Huey seen from the side, reminiscent of how he appears in the comic strip.
- In a few episodes, Huey can be seen near a tree on a hill, an iconic stock setting from the comic strip.
- "Granddad's Fight" gets three sequel episodes, forming a tetralogy (one episode per season), all of them about Robert's Nigga Moment with Stinkmeaner, and how it keeps coming back to haunt him.
- "A Huey Freeman Christmas" features Riley having a vendetta against Santa Claus, and assaulting two Mall Santas (one of whom is Uncle Ruckus), which was originally in the comic strip.
- In "Let's Nab Oprah", Huey emphasizes his reasons against Riley hanging out with Ed and Rummy to Granddad, by reminding him of the mini-mart robbery from "A Date with the Health Inspector".
- "Riley Wuz Here" combines two plots that were originally from the comic strip; the main plot is about Riley committing a graffiti spree throughout the neighborhood (though his modus operandi is different), while the side plot is about Huey experimenting with only watching TV shows about black people for two weeks straight.
- "The Block Is Hot" adapts and expands one comic strip about Jazmine running a lemonade stand, complete with a scene where Riley and Robert ask her stupid questions about the lemonade.
- "Tom, Sarah and Usher" alludes to a story arc from the comic strip about Tom staying with the Freemans after Sarah kicks him out, although the reasons for their split are completely different.
- "Pretty Boy Flizzy" shows Sarah kicking out Tom yet again, but an annoyed Robert decides to keep Tom out of the Freeman house this time.
- In "Shinin'", Thugnificent makes it clear that if his rap career fails, he and the rest of the Lethal Interjection Crew will turn to crime - with Flonominal specifically mentioning crack dealing. The exception is Leonard, who thinks he'd be fine working at Wendy's.
- In "Bitches to Rags", the jig is up, and Thugnificent is being supported by Leonard, who really did get a job at Wendy's, until Thugnificent decides to just sell crack.
- "Invasion of the Katrinians" also adapts a comic arc about Robert's relatives from New Orleans seeking refuge at his house after Hurricane Katrina, although it plays out very differently.
- "It's a Black President, Huey Freeman" contains the very first line Huey said in the intro for "The Garden Party", and later his plan is foiled because he can't get a ride (which is what happened before in "The Passion of Reverend Ruckus").
- "The Story of Lando Freeman" starts and ends with the lawn needing to be mowed, with a mention that whenever Ruckus doesn't do the lawn, it's always Huey who has to do it. A running gag from the comic strip involved Granddad forcing Huey to mow the lawn.
- In "The Lovely Ebony Brown", when Huey and Riley hear that Granddad has a new date, the boys remember Granddad's past dating experiences and they freak out.
- Oddly in "Breaking Granddad", there's a passing joke about Jazmine's insecurity with her curly afro hair, which was a running gag in the comic strip.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Evil businesspeople seem to be frequent antagonists on this show:
- Ed Wuncler I and his son Ed Wuncler II use their money and power to accumulate even more wealth through unethical and unlawful means. They get away with all of this because they've been outright deemed to be above the law.
- Deborah Leevil and Wedgie Rudlin run BET with the intention of keeping African American viewers in a perpetual state of stupidity. Deborah outright calls herself evil and even murders two members of her of board of directors.
- Ed Wuncler I's business rival, Mr. Long-dou of Wushung, China, is a gambler who decides to bet Wuncler's debt to him over a kickball game, and even bribes the referee to allow the Chinese team to cheat (Wuncler bribed him too, Long-dou's bribe was just bigger).
- The UK-based World's Ultimate Chocolate company is run by Alistair Ripley, who treats chocolate fundraisers like drug trafficking. He even hires thugs to harass children for competing against him.
- Boss Willona knowingly sells poisonous and explosive hair products to desperate black women with nappy hair. Like Ripley, she treats an outwardly legitimate business like it's organized crime.
- Crapsaccharine World: Woodcrest may be a mostly affluent suburban city, but it's anything except quiet and peaceful, as the Freemans will learn. In "Good Times", Granddad considers moving out because their lives haven't been any easier in this town.
- Crapsack World: African American stereotypes are rampant, corrupt rich white people get away with everything, and any world where Uncle Ruckus isn't locked inside an insane asylum is a bad one.
- Crazy-PreparedGranddad: Ooooh, noooo! Huey, grab my shotgun!
Huey comes back with the shotgun.
Huey: Granddad, what's going on?
Granddad: Lamilton Taeshawn escaped. Go grab my pistol with the silver bullets.
Huey: He's not a werewolf, Granddad.
Granddad: Huey, grab the wooden stake. And my holy water!
- The Danza: In-universe example, as 50 Cent stars in Soul Plane 2 as "Air Marshal 50 Cent!"
- Darker and Edgier: The series isn't as restricted by censorship as the comic strip was, and thus gets away with a lot of violence, profanity, and sexual humor.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Huey:Ed Wuncler: (after showing off his impressive team of mercenaries and Dominican children) Tell me that you don't want to be part of kickball history.
Huey: (without so much as changing the expression on his face) I don't want to be part of kickball history.
- A Pimp Named Slickback concerning Tom's Wouldn't Hit a Girl attitude:A Pimp Named Slickback: Has not hitting the bitch been working? I mean scientifically speaking, has not hitting the bitch achieved the desired result?
- And later, as one of his bitches beats on Tom:A Pimp Named Slickback: See that? Bitch has no problem hitting you. You're definitely allowed by law to hit her now, Thomas. Self Defense. Sweetest Taboo, you are in rare form.
- Death Glare:
- Huey may glare 90% of the time anyways, but those select glares he saves for those who have really pissed him off or who have done something he considers reprehensible are very, very vicious.
- The look Granddad gives A Pimp Named Slickback when he tries to hit Cristal in his presence.
- Riley's first clue that Lamilton is crazy.
- Death Seeker: According to Robert, Sturdy Harris was this, claiming he cared more about dying for the cause than for the cause itself.
- Demoted to Extra:
so that we can get more of Granddad's wacky adventures in dating and Riley's thuggery!because Huey was basically the tool McGruder used to comment on current events. Current events are much more suited to daily strips because they're daily. If he tried to use current events in an episode that takes months to make, it wouldn't be current anymore.
- Neither Jazmine nor Gin Rummy had any lines for the first half of Season 3.
- Denser and Wackier: The tone of the comic strip was overall mundane and down-to-earth, mostly focused on everyday life and social commentary. The TV series is far more outlandish and over-the-top, with crazier situations and the addition of action scenes. And somehow, it keeps getting weirder with every season.
- Department of Redundancy Department:
- "They call me the fundraiser 'cuz that's what I do: I raise funds."
- Riley once said to Gin Rummy "It's a bad plan! You plan things badly!" To be fair, you can understand his frustration.
- Werner Herzog asks Huey how he, as a "black African-American negro" feels about Obama's election.
- Depraved Homosexual: The Booty Warrior.
- Deus ex Machina:
- At the end of "The Passion of Reverend Ruckus", we have the lightning, that solved the two hopeless plots at once. Shabazz's execution has been thwarted, and Ruckus' sermon was disrupted.
- At the end of "The Fundraiser", The Mafia come out of nowhere and shoot the British candy cartel boss trying to take over Riley's business. And then the FBI show up and gun them down as well.
- Dissimile: This gem:Riley: (talking to Thugnificent) You're like Ray Charles or something, only without the piano skills or ability to sing or compose music.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Hilariously used in "A Date with the Booty Warrior", when Tom draws the attention of a prison inmate.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Two of Jericho Freeman's kids in "Invasion of the Katrinians", apparently.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Many episodes are this:
- "A Date with the Health Inspector" is a satirical allegory for the Invasion of Iraq. It even has Gin Rummy, a Donald Rumsfeld parody, restate the infamous "known unknowns" speech.
- "The Itis" shows the effects junk food, which is also a metaphor for drugs, has in poor neighborhoods.
- "The Block Is Hot" is about corporations using child labor and when they get caught, they suffer little to no repercussions.
- Huey is a parody of William Ayers in "It's a Black President, Huey Freeman", as both of them were used by Republicans to try to discredit Barack Obama.
- The intro to "The Red Ball" satirizes American debt to the Chinese.
- "The Fundraiser" is actually about drug dealing, although this one is much less subtle than the others, and references Scarface heavily.
- "Good Times" and "Freedomland" overtly compares the recession to slavery.
- Downer Ending:
- "...Or Die Trying": revealed that the trod-upon movie theater employee Huey had talked into unionizing got the whole place shut down by the management and lost their jobs.
- "Attack of the Killer Kung-Fu Wolf Bitch": Poor Luna got a new lease on life after a tension-filled standoff with the Freemans, only to kill herself just a few minutes later after being egged on by her friend, who ironically is heard saying words of encouragement afterwards.
- "It's Goin' Down": Wuncler turns his usual Karma Houdini routine Up to Eleven and Huey, when encouraged by Agent Flowers that "They don't win until you give up", walks off as disillusioned as ever, echoing The White Shadow's line "You can't fight the future. Don't waste your life trying."
- "Good Times": Granddad's excessive debt forces him to sell the family to what is essentially slavery to Ed Wuncler II and Uncle Ruckus. Though, whether this sticks or not is debatable.
- Dream Intro: Several episodes begin with a dream sequence:
- In "The Garden Party", Huey dreams that he gives a provocative speech to a crowd of rich white people at a garden party.
- In "A Date with the Health Inspector", Tom has a nightmare about getting anally raped by a Scary Black Man in prison.
- In "A Huey Freeman Christmas", Jazmine has a dream about giving a sermon at a church, telling worshipers to praise Santa Claus, whom she confuses for Jesus.
- In "The Passion of Reverend Ruckus", Ruckus has a dream in which he visits "White Heaven" and meets his hero Ronald Reagan.
- In "Ballin'", Riley dreams that he's a super-talented NBA basketball star, but somehow Granddad manages to ruin it for him.
- In "Stinkmeaner 3: The Hateocracy", Robert has a nightmare in which an army of Stinkmeaner clones attack his house, and they chase him across town.
- End-of-Series Awareness: Later episodes such as "Mr. Medicinal" have Granddad make thinly veiled references to the end of the series, using wordplay that could be used to describe his old age.
- Enemies Equals Greatness: Huey and Riley took a minute to discuss thisnin "Shinin'" where the latter is excited about receiving a chain from Thugnificent:Riley: "I can't wait for niggas to start hatin! I can't wait!"
Huey: "So you judge your success by the amount of ill-will you generate from those around you?"
Riley: "Hey, if niggas ain't mad at you, then you doin' something wrong."
Huey: "By that definition then, you have a very bright future."
- Riley to the point where Butch Magnus took his chain from him. Of course, Huey did warn him that invoking envy from others can cause trouble.
- Enemy Mine:
- Huey and Uncle Ruckus plan to run away to Canada together when Barack Obama becomes president, Uncle Ruckus for obvious reasons and Huey because it's proof we've moved beyond racism.
- Huey and Agent Jack Flowers team up to stop a homegrown terrorist attack. Especially so, since Agent Flowers is a federal agent who previously held Huey under suspicion of planning to commit the very attack.
- Enfante Terrible: Lamilton and pretty much every named child in the series, save for Jazmine.
- Equal-Opportunity Offender: Racism towards African Americans is clearly the series' biggest target, but African Americans who don't really make it easy for themselves are a close second.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Riley may have a eye for causing trouble, but even he is disturbed by Lamilton's flat out sociopathy.
- When taken hostage in a prison, Uncle Ruckus asks the sexually deprived inmates if they're going to rape the children. They respond "Hell no! Do we look like priests?!"
- Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: In this series, random fistfights and shootouts can break out at the slightest provocation.
- Everything's Better with Samurai:
- The Blind Nigga Samurai, from Huey's dream in "Granddad's Fight".
- In Huey's play The Adventures of Black Jesus, while we don't know anything about the plot, samurai were apparently involved as they are present at rehearsal, and one takes a bow at the end of opening night.
- Evil Old Folks:
- Ed Wuncler I, as the oldest patriarch of the Wuncler family.
- Uncle Ruckus, who is old enough to proudly remember racial segregation.
- Ruckus' father and grandmother are even older and worse than him.
- Colonel H. Stinkmeaner is an unrepentant bully who owed his long life to his "love of hatred".
- Stinkmeaner's associates, the Hateocracy. They terrorized a retirement home before getting kicked out, so they traveled around the world in search of more mayhem.
- While Betty von Heusen isn't exactly evil, she's always depicted as a nasty jerkass.
- Evolving Credits: The opening changes both in its general presentation, and the clips it uses. The song remains the same, but it's remixed each time.
- Fanservice: In "Pause," Winston Jerome's secretary is Ms. Fanservice. There's also Winston's parade of Walking Shirtless Scenes with well oiled bodies.
- Fate Worse than Death: Stinkmeaner considers jail to be worse than Hell.
- "Fawlty Towers" Plot: In "The Story of Jimmy Rebel", Uncle Ruckus records some racist songs for his equally racist country singing idol Jimmy Rebel, but pretends to be his black slave instead after meeting him face-to-face.
- Felony Misdemeanor: THEY RAN OUT OF FRIED CHICKEN?!
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Five in this case: Robert (choleric), Huey (melancholic), Tom (leuquine), Riley (sanguine), and Jazmine (phlegmatic).
- Flanderization: While not fully given that much characterization when introduced, when Tom makes his debut in "The Trial of R. Kelly" he comes off as a regular, somewhat goody two-shoes of a lawyer, who was, among other things, left speechless in a debate with an eight year old. After that it just went downhill. He finally got some of his dignity back in "A Date with the Booty Warrior".
- Huey and Riley as the representations of the series' point of contrast between wisdom (Huey) and ignorance (Riley).
- Grandpa to Ruckus as old-fashioned men with very different beliefs as to what old-fashioned wisdom and right is, a major reason why they are often played off each other as "friends," and the very point of one episode's subplot.
- For the Evulz:
- Free-Range Children: This is lessened somewhat in the series, as Granddad often attempts to restrain them from doing anything crazy, but as the series goes on they're able to get away with more and more anyway (at one point, for example, they're able to effortlessly sneak into a movie studio).
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: See Five-Temperament above.
- Freeze-Frame Ending: The last episode, "The New Black", ends with a photo of Riley Freeman running away from an angry mob of retarded children.
- Freudian Threat: Jack Flowers' usual method of interrogation leads to a great exchange when he has to interrogate Huey:Jack: Do you know what kind of damage a steel boot can do to pre-pubescent testicles?
Huey:...How would I know that?
Jack: Tell me where the target is before I kick you in the nuts!
- Gang Bangers:
- Huey first illustrates the "Nigga Moment" by showing two gangsters shooting at each other, over the two bumping into each other in the street.
- In "The Story of Gangstalicious", Gangstalicious is being chased by a few gangsters who want him dead. The reason for their vendetta? Their leader was Gangstalicious' ex-boyfriend.
- Stinkmeaner illustrates "Nigga Moment + Nigga Synthesis = Complete Disaster" by showing the bloody aftermath of gang violence between Bloods and Crips.
- Gangstalicious' ex-boyfriend was a violent drug dealer named Lincoln, who was determined to murder his former lover.
- The Booty Warrior is a prisoner who really enjoys sodomizing his fellow inmates.
- Boss Willona's henchman is implied to be gay, as he dresses in pink clothes and uses women's hair care products.
- Girls with Moustaches: Maybelline, one of Robert's old flames.
- Gratuitous English: A necessary instance of this happens in the Japanese dub: Since the use of the Japanese equivalent word for nigger and similar slurs is not allowed in both Japanese media and translations, the translators solves this problem by using the same words untranslated from English and sometimes from other languages like Spanish, like the Señor Piñata insult, who was also untranslated in that dub.note This is not exclusive for insults and slurs: Some names and sometimes even honorifics remains untranslated: Both A Pimp Named Slickbacknote and Uncle Ruckus'snote are the same in English in the Japanese version, albeit in his case, Uncle is his name, not a honorific.
- Groin Attack: Seems to be a sort of Running Gag:
- The recurring Thugnificent song "Stomp 'Em in the Nuts" sometimes plays in the background.
- "Attack of the Killer Kung-Fu Wolf Bitch": While Lionel Richie was sleeping with a mistress, his angry wife punishes him by stomping him in the nuts.
- "Ballin'": The fat white kid on the basketball team accidentally gets hit with one.
- "Home Alone": While Uncle Ruckus babysits Huey and Riley, they shoot him in the groin with airsoft pellets.
- "The Fundraiser": Cindy knees a chocolate industry goon in his nuts.
- "A Date with the Booty Warrior": Tom hits the Booty Warrior in the groin, while the former almost gets raped by the latter.
- "It's Goin' Down":
- "The New Black": Riley gets stomped in the nuts by a mob of angry retarded children, while the same song plays.
- Happy Dance: Riley's "Celebratory Booty Dance" in "The S-Word".
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: A perennial part of Riley's character.
- He Who Fights Monsters: "Stinkmeaner: Begun the Clone War Has" is based around this. It even opens with the quote from Friedrich Nietzsche.
- Here We Go Again!: "Smokin' with Cigarettes" and "The Fundraiser" end with these. While the former is possibly subverted, the latter heavily implies it being played straight.
- Heroic BSoD: Riley has one of these in "The Fundraiser" near the end during the shootout between the candy bar cartel, the mafia, and the FBI.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Uncle Ruckus. Granted it's sad, but this gem says it all:Mister Ruckus: (to young Uncle) Nigga, did I just catch you wanting to be shit? *smacks him in the face*
- Hypocritical Humor:
Riley: BOOOO! Hey Tom, shut the fuck up!
- Uncle Ruckus is the main source of this because of his self-racism.
- In "The Garden Party", Robert tells Huey and Riley that they shouldn't use the N word, even though Huey points out that Robert says it all the time.
- This moment from "Tom, Sarah and Usher":
Granddad: Boy, watch your mouth! Tom, shut the fuck up!
- In "The Color Ruckus", Riley admits that Uncle Ruckus' story was sad, but said that he was not going to cry because that would be "gay". Later in the episode, after Ruckus continues to tell the story, Riley is seen sobbing like a baby.
- I'm Taking Her Home with Me!: One of the batshit crazy women Granddad dated tried to run off with Riley.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: It seems that most people are very bad at shooting even at close range, and almost no one gets harmed. There's quite a few examples from Season 1 alone:
- "Granddad's Fight": Two gangsters are standing two feet away from each other, each shooting an entire clip at each other from point blank range, and neither one gets wounded until the cops show up and waste them both with single shots.
- "A Date with the Health Inspector": Ed Wuncler III and Gin Rummy shoot exactly one guy during the shootout at the convenience store, a bystander cop, who somehow lives.
- "The Story of Gangstalicious": Three gangsters, one of whom had two guns, run out of bullets without hitting one naked, blindfolded, and slowly-walking man.
- "The Block Is Hot": The police attempt to shoot Uncle Ruckus with over a hundred bullets without success, and in the end resort to beating him with nightsticks.
- Ink-Suit Actor: A good portion of the characters look exactly like their actors, in costume. Granddad even wears John Witherspoon's trademark white shoes.
- Innocent Bigot: This is more of less the default portrayal of minor white characters, at least those that aren't more apathetic than anything else.
- Inter Generational Friendship:
- Riley and his "niggas", Ed Wuncler III and Gin Rummy.
- Riley and the members of the Lethal Interjection Crew.
- Ironic Echo Cut: Riley describes his plan in "The Fundraiser":Riley: [voiceover] And that's when it hit me. The best idea I've ever had in my entire life.
Huey: [to Riley] That's the worst idea you've ever had in your entire life.
- Ironic Name: Thugnificent's hometown of Terra Belle, Georgia:Thugnificent: You know, in Latin they say "Terra Belle" means "beautiful earth". But in Georgia, "Terra Belle" means "f**ked up place to live". Terrible Terra Belle.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Subverted - when Robert gets pulled over, he assumes the cop's name is pronounced "Do-shay." It's really pronounced "Douche." Robert thinks it's hilarious. It should be noted that he's completely high when this occurs.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- Huey, Riley, and Robert. Their family relationship is dysfunctional, but they do care about each other deep down.
- Uncle Ruckus is this occasionally, such as in "A Huey Freeman Christmas" and "The Color Ruckus".
- Pretty Boy Flizzy, although he hides it for his image.
- Uncle Ruckus definitely counts here. Most of the time, he's cruel and antipathetic to other black people, and it's sometimes implied that his hatred can get violent.
- Colonel H. Stinkmeaner could be considered a personification for hatred. He proudly despises everyone, and enjoys annoying the hell out of everyone.
- Ed Wuncler I is the embodiment of the Corrupt Corporate Executive. He sees nothing wrong with doing downright illegal things in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
- Moe Jackson is this in spades. Even from beyond the grave, he wants to have a laugh at the expense of Robert. This guy was a cruel practical joker of the worst kind.
- Karma Houdini: There's several outrageous examples:
- R. Kelly gets away with urinating on an underage girl, despite overwhelming evidence in the form of a self-incriminating video, because he was acquitted by a jury of his absurdly loyal fans.
- The Ed Wuncler family line (I, II, & III) and their friend Gin Rummy. Despite all of their blatantly criminal activity, they have enough money and connections to be ignored by the authorities, from the local police to the federal government. However, it might possibly be subverted with Ed III and Rummy, as they are both detained by a rogue federal agent for an indefinite time. But definitely still played straight with Ed I and Ed II.
- Eli Gorbinsky, the man who shot a cop named Gary Faulkner, manages to get away scot-free from the crime, because another guy named Shabazz K. Milton-Berle was wrongly convicted of the murder instead.
- Jericho Freeman and his large family, who fled New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, decide to stay at Robert's house. However, they quickly take advantage of his hospitality by eating all the food, creating a huge mess in the house, refusing to work, and waiting on a welfare check to solve all of their problems. Jericho even lies about not receiving the check, and returns to New Orleans without repaying the debt.
- BET CEO Deborah Leevil is able to get away with murdering two of her own employees; and along with the BET President Wedgie Rudlin, they continue to corrupt their African American audience.
- Kung Fu-Proof Mook: Winston Jerome's "glistening" stripper bodyguards.
- Lampshade Hanging: "Good Times" opens with Robert lampshading the screwed up premise of the show to hell and back:
- Large Ham:
- Stinkmeaner, NYUKKA!
- A Pimp Named Slickback. Y'all better make that G4 work and stop playin'.
- Laughably Evil: As this is a Black Comedy series, there's more than a fair share of funny villains here:
- Uncle Ruckus is a hardcore white supremacist who happens to be black. He usually appears Once an Episode to make outrageous comments.
- Colonel H. Stinkmeaner, an evil old man who likes to mess with other people for his own amusement. His personality and actions are so over-the-top that it's hard not to laugh along with him.
- Ed Wuncler III and Gin Rummy are a duo of Stupid Crooks who go around town robbing people, but most of the time they're too dim-witted to succeed with any of their crimes.
- Deborah Leevil is a hammy and card carrying supervillainess who who wants to destroy black people through the mind-rotting power of a certain TV channel.
- Leitmotif: Very common in this series:
- You'll hear a very ugly tuba, Jabba the Hutt's theme from Star Wars, play every time Uncle Ruckus makes an appearance in an episode.
- The "Terrible Terre Belle" track from Thugnificent's "Mo Bitches, Mo Problems" CD becomes his leitmotif from Season 3 onward.
- The appearance of Ed "Eddie Jr." Wuncler II often is accompanied by sleazy lounge music.
- The Jericho family has a jazzy rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In."
- Lighter and Softer: Subsequent seasons are even more quirky and humorous the first one.
- London Gangster: In "The Fundraiser", it turns out that World's Ultimate Chocolate, a company that manufactures candy bars for school fundraisers, is run by an English mob boss named Alistair Ripley, who sends in his thugs to harass Riley's employees.
- The Mafia: In "The Fundraiser", a crew of Italian-American mobsters, who are also interested in chocolate trafficking, engage in a deadly shootout with the WUC gangsters and an FBI HRT squad.
- Man Hug: Several of the males aren't afraid to hug each other. More often than not, Riley will be on hand to tell them it's gay.
- Marijuana Is LSD: When Robert starts smoking weed in "Mr. Medicinal", the world begins to look a lot more bright and colorful for him.
- Meaningful Name:
- The Wunclers. As in, the Once-ler, the expansionist bigwig antagonist of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax.
- Uncle Ruckus. A reference to Uncle Tom, Amos Rucker, a slave who purportedly wanted to stay a slave after the Civil War, and Uncle Remus.
- Tom DuBois. Uncle Tom (again) and W.E.B. DuBois, founder of NAACP.
- Luna is quite lunatic. It also invokes the moon, and her fondness of wolves.
- Medium Awareness:
Bushido Brown: (to Huey) Man... you come straight out of a comic strip!
- This quote from "Let's Nab Oprah":
Riley: Thank god for uncensored DVDs.
- The eponymous character from "The Lovely Ebony Brown" spent the entire episode Leaning on the Fourth Wall, and got Granddad into it as well.
- From "The New Black":
- Middle Eastern Terrorists:
- In "A Date with the Health Inspector", Ed III and Rummy rob a mini-mart owned by an Arab man, claiming that he's a terrorist as an excuse. The owner denies being a terrorist, but soon he and two fellow clerks retaliate by shooting assault rifles at Ed and Rummy. It's not exactly clear if they really were terrorists after all.
- "It's Goin' Down" begins with Jack Flowers torturing a captured jihadist fighter named Omar Muhammad inside a US military base. Jack kicks Omar's testicles repeatedly, which somehow made him reveal that there was going to be a bombing attack in Woodcrest, though it had nothing to do with Islamic extremism.
- There's a documentary about Thugnificent's life and career titled Rags to Bitches in "The Story of Thugnificent".
- "It's a Black President, Huey Freeman" is presented as a Werner Herzog documentary about local Woodcrest reactions to the 2008 election of Barack Obama. With special parody emphasis on Herzog's ridiculous monologues and narration.
- The frame story of "Freedom Ride or Die" is a documentary which interviews Robert Freeman and some old acquaintances regarding their involvement in the Freedom Rides of 1961.
- Mondegreen: Lampshaded in-universe in "Bitches to Rags", when Thugnificent talks about how some people mishear the lyrics to "Booty Butt Cheeks":Thugnificent: Y'all send me stupid fuckin' messages online, but won't pay for my damn song? I hate y'all niggas, man. "Hey, hey, Thugnificent, is it booty butt cheeks or move them butt cheeks?" Nigga, who gives a fuck, it's a song about butt cheeks!
- Multitasked Conversation: This is nearly the entirety of Rummy's interactions with Ed III in "Thank You For Not Snitching," due to Ed III's affinity for his new Bluetooth earpiece.
- Mundane Made Awesome:
- A chocolate fundraiser.
- Murder Is the Best Solution:
- Robert in regards to the Hateocracy:
- While Robert asks Rummy what to do about Lando, Rummy keeps suggesting to kill him, claiming that some problems can only be solved with murder.
- In Season 4, Ed Wuncler II convinced Robert to sign himself into slavery in exchange for canceling the mortgage. Huey's solution? Kill Ed II with a homemade bomb. The plan never gets off the ground though, as Robert decides to sell the explosive chemicals that Huey made for the job as hair tonic.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
- Naughty Nuns: Invoked and parodied in "Granddad Dates a Kardashian". An old nun named Mother Maria, who is dying of an illness and offered a chance to be on reality TV if she spices up her tragic stories, lies that she "fucked Eisenhower" and almost died of syphilis.
- Never Live It Down: In-universe, Granddad will never be allowed to forget about killing Stinkmeaner, neither by his crew nor the man himself. This is averted with the law.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: A lot of characters are parodies of other people from other media or even real life:
- Ed Wuncler I and his grandson Ed Wuncler III are parodies of Prescott Bush and his grandson George W. Bush.
- Ed III's best friend Gin Rummy is a parody of Donald Rumsfeld.
- Bushido Brown is based on Jim Kelly.
- Riley's art teacher is based on Bob Ross, the famously laid-back white artist with an afro, who loved to paint landscapes.
- Thugnificent is obviously based on Ludacris, with elements of Ice-T down to being from Georgia.
- Rollo Goodlove is a parody of Al Sharpton.
- BET CEO Deborah Leevil is a parody of the real CEO Debra L. Lee and Dr. Evil.
- BET President Wedgie Rudlin is an extremely unflattering parody of the real President Reginald Hudlin, who happens to have originally been an executive producer of The Boondocks.
- Dick O'Rushballs is a parody of Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh.
- Sgt. Gutter is Soulja Boy.
- George Pistofferson, Rufus Crabmiser, and Esmeralda Gripenasty are based on JJ Evans, Fred Sanford, and Aunt Esther, respectively.
- Lamilton Taeshawn is based on a then 7-year-old Latarian Milton, who appeared in the news twice for taking a joyride in his grandma's car and beating on her. He's also based on another fictional evil child named Henry Evans.
- Lamilton's psychiatrist Dr. Doomis is based on Dr. Loomis.
- Winston Jerome is Tyler Perry with elements of David Koresh and Jim Jones.
- The Booty Warrior is a carbon copy of Fleece Johnson, a prisoner interviewed on an MSNBC documentary about prison life.
- Jack Flowers is based on Jack Bauer.
- Pretty Boy Flizzy is Chris Brown.
- Kardashia Kardashian.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Robert shows no mercy to the clone of Stinkmeaner when Ed Wuncler I arranges another fight between them to help pay off Robert's debts. It was a complete Curb-Stomp Battle, but Huey talked Granddad out to making the killing blow.
- No Kill Like Overkill: In "The Red Ball", Ed Wuncler I hired Gin Rummy to kill the kickball referee by strangling him, throwing him off a bridge, and overdosing him with amphetamines, which Wuncler claims was self-inflicted.
- Noodle Incident: Huey tried to refuse going to the movies with Riley and Robert, noting that the last time they did, they got arrested and shot at. Whatever lead to that is never shown.
- Not What It Looks Like: Double Subverted. In "Stinkmeaner Strikes Back", Robert's date walks in on him, Huey, Riley and Uncle Ruckus, who's brandishing a whip, standing around a bed with Tom tied to it, and immediately guesses that they're performing an exorcism. And then dumps Robert over it anyway.
- N-Word Privileges: Most of the black characters, and a few white characters, say "nigga" frequently. The DuBois family are an exception though, never saying the word once.
- Odd Name Out: The Lethal Interjection crew has Flonominal, Macktastic, Thugnificent, and Leonard. Oddly enough, he's the only one of the crew who wouldn't mind having a normal day job like flipping burgers at Wendy's.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
- The implied fight between Huey and Uncle Ruckus at the end of "... Or Die Trying".
- There's an unseen fight between Huey, Riley, Butch Magnus, and four other boys at the beginning of "A Date with the Booty Warrior".
- Oh, Crap!:
- One scene in "The Red Ball" features a team of Chinese kickballers insulting Huey, only for him to reply in Chinese, "I don't like being laughed at." One of the players can barely get out, "Did... he just..." before he's knocked out cold by Huey's pitch.
- The collective reaction when Busido Brown gets his head sliced off.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Used in "Smoking with Cigarettes", even if it's not actually Latin:LA-MIL-TON! TAE-SHAWWWWWWN!!
- Only in It for the Money: Parodied in "The S-Word" when it's revealed that Ann Coulter's entire conservative agenda is a ruse to make a lot of money, and she is actually a closet liberal:Huey: Are you even a Republican?Ann: Hell no! You think I like going out there, and saying this ridiculous shit?Huey: Then why do it?Ann: Cause a bitch got books to sell.
- Orgy of Evidence:
- In "The Trial of R. Kelly", there's mountains of evidence that points to R. Kelly urinating on a 14-year-old girl. He gets away with it, mainly because his lawyer uses some outrageous defense strategy, and the jury is incredibly stupid.
- A strange case in "The Passion of Reverend Ruckus". A black man, Shabazz K Milton Berle, who was interning for the Black Panthers, was arrested for the murder of a cop, which occurred just outside. Ridiculous amounts of the evidence, including a court stenographer present at the scene taking down the murderer's explicit confession and identification of himself (which he signed and dated) points to Shabazz not being guilty, but he's arrested anyway and sentenced to death after a few minutes of deliberation by the jury.
- Oscar Bait: Ruckus' origin story as hilariously lampshaded by Huey:Huey: That's like Academy Award-winning sad.
- Panty Shot: Winston Jerome's secretary has one from Grandad's POV as he's lying on the ground after being tackled by an obese female fan in "Pause".
- Piss-Take Rap: Granddad's rebuttal to "Eff Granddad". Has to be seen to be believed.
- Police are Useless: The Woodcrest Police Department, or at least most of the cops anyway. They're usually brutal, corrupt, racist, or just plain stupid.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: The series as a whole is very politically incorrect. So it's no surprise that the subject of political (in)correctness was parodied and satirized in "The S-Word" and "The New Black".
- Poor Communication Kills: In "It's Going Down":Uncle Ruckus: What's the password?
Dan the Security Man: Eat my ass! [gets kicked in the nuts about twenty times]
- Pragmatic Adaptation: McGruder has defended the series by stating the process makes it impossible for it to be topical as far as current events and cutting edge political satire.
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy:
- Promotion to Parent: In "Home Alone", Huey promotes himself to parent in Granddad's absence. This greatly exacerbates tensions between him and Riley.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
- Reality Ensues:
- Huey is established in the series as being well-trained in martial arts. However, the fact remains that he's still a 10-year-old boy, and he usually ends up losing to opponents that have more experience and training than him or in the case of Stinkmeaner, supernatural abilities.
- In "The Garden Party", while the Freemans attend a party full of rich white people, Huey attempts to tell "the truth" (Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about 9/11). However, no one believes him because he's just a kid, he has no solid evidence, and everything he says is just his own opinions; also, Huey and Robert believe that if he told people the "the truth", chaos would ensue among white people. That doesn't happen either; just because one person says something, especially when it's a conspiracy theorist's opinion, it doesn't mean that everyone is going to instantly believe said person.
- In "Ballin'", it not only references but also deconstructs the whole concept of The Mighty Ducks. What happens when you have a team that has little to no athletic talent? They ended up losing every game they've played in an embarrassing yet hilarious fashion, and the "miracle moment" is given to a team that is more polished athletically.
- Played straight in "Stinkmeaner 3: The Hateocracy". The titular group fought and killed Bushido Brown, an already established badass, and after a failed attempt to make peace with them, the Freemans are about to be killed. How are these monsters stopped? The police are called, and the Hateocracy surrender without a fight.
- In "The Fried Chicken Flu", Kernel's Fried Chicken, a KFC parody, does a food promotion to introduce a new fried chicken recipe. However, so many people come to try it, there are numerous long lines, people begin getting pissed about waiting so long, and worse several KFC restaurants run out of chicken. Then, Hilarity Ensues when people start rioting.
- Recycled Premise: Season 4 rehashed some plots:
- "Pretty Boy Flizzy" copies "Tom, Sarah and Usher", as Tom is trying to keep another R&B singer away from his wife's attention.
- "Stinkmeaner: Begun the Clone War Has" is yet another Stinkmeaner episode, which involves a sort of rematch of the first fight from "Granddad's Fight":Stinkmeaner's clone: Hey kids, welcome to the Nigga Moment Reboot! This is where we're gonna do some shit we already did, and just pretend you didn't see that shit the first time! Hahahaha! That's right, nigga! We don't respect your intelligence!
- "The New Black" is awfully similar to "The S-Word", as Riley and Rollo Goodlove get involved in yet another controversy about political correctness.
- Refuge in Audacity: Everywhere, but Uncle Ruckus is the standout example. He's an extremely over-the-top white supremacist who happens to be black. He never misses an opportunity to extol the wonders of the white man or complain about everything that's wrong with black people.
- Remember the New Guy?: Rollo Goodlove is an interesting example of this due to the episodes being aired Out of Order. He first shows up in "The S-Word" where he's treated as an established character the Freemans have already met, while his debut was in the Banned Episode "The Hunger Strike", which meant American audiences never got a proper introduction to the character.
- Ripped from the Headlines:
- The plot of "The S-Word" is based on an actual news piece about a black student and his white teacher exchanging the N-word.
- The antagonist of "Smokin' with Cigarettes", Lamilton Taeshawn, is a parody of Latarian Milton, a little boy who drove his grandma's car and shortly afterward, attacked her for not buying him chicken wings.
- The title character from "A Date with the Booty Warrior" is based on Fleece Johnson, a prisoner who also engaged in rape and sodomy.
- Running Gag:
- Whitney Houston in court with her husband... Again.
- References to the film Friday. Doubles as an Actor Allusion for John Witherspoon.
- A few of Huey's schemes would have gone perfectly if he only had a ride. Though this joke stopped happening when Huey stopped being the one going on zany schemes.
- Gin Rummy hates meaningless gadgets, while Ed Wuncler III loves flashy things, and both are very vocal about it even if they're supposed to be focusing on other things. Nearly every episode where they appear has them having a conversation about whatever new phone, app or pager that Ed has bought this time.
- The various stereotypical hip-hop songs, particularly "Booty Butt Cheeks," which consists of nothing but the title phrase being repeated over and over.
- Stinkmeaner's frequent run-ins with Robert get worse each time. Pretty amazing considering the first conflict ended in Stinkmeaner's death. Even death and damnation can't end a Nigga Moment, it seems.
- Sand In My Eyes: In "The Color Ruckus", Riley cries after hearing Uncle Ruckus' story. He claims that he has allergies.
- Sequential Symptom Syndrome: In "The Fried Chicken Flu", Huey explains to Jazmine the symptoms of the eponymous disease, while Tom suffers the symptoms of the illness right behind them, having eaten tainted buffalo wings.
- Serious Business:
- In "The Red Ball", Ed Wuncler I and a Chinese businessman bet the entire town over a game of kickball. Wuncler hires Blackwater mercenaries and Dominican children for his team, only for the former to bail out and the latter to be deported. The Chinese team includes a prodigy who was trained since birth just to play kickball.
- The school chocolate fundraisers. When Riley tries to sell chocolate bars for his own profit, he draws the attention of real gangsters who treat chocolate fundraising like drug trafficking. Up to and including using intimidation and violence against their competitors.
- Fried chicken. In Woodcrest and many other American cities, countless people wait through long lines and heavy traffic just to try out some new KFC. When the restaurants have shortages of chicken, people go nuts and start riots. And even after a mysterious food-borne disease causes millions to become ill, a lot of people still want to eat the fried chicken.
- Shout-Out: It's probably safe to say that McGruder, or at least some creators and producers on the show are big fans of Star Wars.
- Shown Their Work: In "Bitches to Rags", Thugnificent tries to make crack. He ends up burning it because he's cooking the mixture far too hot too quickly, a mistake commonly made by inexperienced crack cooks.
- Side Bet: Eddie Wuncler bets his assistant Vanderbilt that he can get Robert to sign himself into slavery. He wins.
- Side-Effects Include...: "Mr. Medicinal" brings us Zortafrinex:Commercial announcer: Women, pregnant women, and most men should not take Zortafrinex. Known side-effects include dry mouth, upset stomach, mild death, blindness, massive heart attack, difficulty breathing, and rectal fungus. Almost all men who took Zortafrinex experienced a severe loss in sexual performance. This is normal. Please stop taking Zortafrinex immediately if you feel mild discomfort on or in testicles as this can be a sign of a rare and extremely unpleasant side-effect known as Total Scrotal Implosion. If Total Scrotal Implosion should occur, call your doctor right away. If you cannot move or talk due to the debilitating pain of Total Scrotal Implosion, please have a loved one call your doctor. There is no cure for Total Scrotal Implosion. Zortafrinex: Always the right choice.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Many characters are very foul-mouthed, some more so than others. The only person who doesn't ever use profanity is Jazmine.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Like the comic strip, this series is very much on the cynical side of the scale, perhaps even more so. Occasionally, it has an optimistic undertone (i.e., things are bad, but they can get better). "Return of the King" is an illustration of this, where Martin Luther King Jr.'s peaceful protesting, which proved to be hugely effective in the 1960s, is seen as weak-willed and un-American in the 21st century post-9/11.
- Sorry Ociffer: In "Mr. Medicinal", Granddad is high on marijuana when he is pulled over by an officer, Officer Douche.
- So What Do We Do Now?: Huey's reaction to Obama's election in "It's a Black President, Huey Freeman" has shades of this. It's unclear if he's just ambivalent about Obama or if he simply feels useless now. His juxtaposition with Uncle Ruckus suggests it's the latter.
- Special Guest: Many episodes have at least one guest voice actor.
- Spell My Name with a "The": A Pimp Named Slickback. Like "A Tribe Called Quest", you say the whole thing.
- Spoof Aesop:
- Flonominal and the rest of the Lethal Interjection Crew teach Riley that, contrary to what he thought, the entire point of being in a crew is so you never have to handle your own problems like a man.
- Nearly everything A Pimp Named Slickback says is a ridiculously sexist version of this:A Pimp Named Slickback: Scientifically speaking Tom, has not hittin' a bitch achieved the desired results?
- "The Hateocracy" ends with one (two depending on how you look at it).
- Status Quo Is God: Often played straight, but sometimes defied.
- Stealth Parody: While obviously a satire of modern black culture, this series also takes pride in mocking things that makes America in general look stupid, such as the overreaction of the bird flu and the Obama hype.
- Story Arc: A couple of subtle ones:
- One revolving around Granddad and Stinkmeaner.
- Another revolving around Riley and Gangstalicious.
- The most overt one is Huey becoming increasingly disillusioned that he can make a difference. By the end of Season 3, he seems to have given up hope on changing anything.
- Stop Being Stereotypical: Both this series and the comic strip make regular use of this.
- Straw Character: The series is loaded with these on both sides of the aisle:
- Huey is used to represent far-left radicals; he's been described variously as a socialist or black nationalist. Though it varies whether he's a strawman, or is actually making a good point.
- Tom and Sarah, though portrayed as decent people, are milquetoast establishment Strawman Democrats. Tom once tried to kidnap Ralph Nader for taking votes away from Al Gore, thus earning the title of "the first moderate liberal extremist".
- Uncle Ruckus is used to parody white nationalists, despite being black, and Tea Party Republicans.
- "Wingmen" featured Dewey Jenkins, a fake Muslim who writes bad poetry because he's "down with the struggle". Huey, an actual leftist radical, finds him disgraceful.
- Betty von Heusen is portrayed as an obsessed gun nut.
- Rollo Goodlove, an Expy of Al Sharpton, is a self-serving black liberal hypocrite who intentionally attaches himself to bogus "struggles" for publicity.
- Ann Coulter appears on TV as a massively hateful ranter, but it's just an act for publicity. She's not even a real conservative.
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix: "The Kumite".
- Stylistic Suck: Granddad's "diss rap" in "The Story of Thugnificent". We may only hear about 20 seconds of it, but that's still enough to know epically bad it is. Watch it here (at the 1:00 mark).
- Tall Poppy Syndrome:
- In "The Trial of R. Kelly", when a female R. Kelly supporter derided the anti-Kelly protesters, who were prominent black intellectuals, as "uppity niggas" for having the temerity for not supporting a singer accused of urinating on 14-year-old girl, and stressing the importance of reading.
- Huey got this from his old friends when traveling back to Chicago to attend a funeral, with Dewey mocking him for not being "down with the struggle" and moving to "Whitecrest". His other friend Cairo further insults him and Granddad, causing him to fight back.
- Take That!: Many shots will be fired, including at:
- Soul Plane will be fired on with impunity whenever it comes up. Hell, even Martin Luther King Jr. took shots at it.
- The most severe were probably "The Hunger Strike" and "The Uncle Ruckus Reality Show" which attacked BET, which actually got banned from U.S. broadcast.
- "Pause" is a sucker punch to Tyler Perry's plays and films. It was also banned for similar reasons.
- "It's a Black President, Huey Freeman" was a Take That! at the "Obama Hype Machine" going into the election, especially at will.i.am.
- To Barack Obama's speech patterns throughout Season 3.
- The Talk: Defied by Robert:Robert: Wait a minute, if someone talks to [Riley] about sex, maybe it'll straighten this whole thing out!
Uncle Ruckus: So you're gonna talk to 'im?
Robert: OH, NO, MM-MM, MM-MM. MM-MM!
- Teach Him Anger: A Pimp Named Slickback tried to do so to Tom once. He partly succeeded, though not in the way he intended.
- That Came Out Wrong: The best illustration is this dialogue is in "Pause":Granddad: I'm gonna really let him have it. Show him my stuff. Give that man everything I've got.
Granddad: Pause? Pause what?
Riley: You said somethin' gay, so you gotta say "no homo," or else you's a homo.
Granddad: What did I say gay?
Riley: You said you was gonna give this dude everything you got, no homo.
Granddad: That's not gay! I said I was gonna give the man everything I got!
Riley: Pause, Granddad! If it sound gay it's gay, and you gotta say "no homo!" How I know you not a homo, Granddad, if you don't say "no homo?"
Granddad: I'm not saying "no homo!"
Riley: Ok, you wanna be a homo...
Granddad: Stop calling your granddaddy a homo!
Riley: Then say "no homo!"
Granddad: I don't wanna say "no homo!" I'ma homo your ass if you don't stop saying "pause!"
- The Thing That Would Not Leave:
- Grandma Ruckus from "The Color Ruckus".
- Featured in "Invasion of the Katrinians".
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
Ruckus: No, no, keep talking, keep talking dad. Let it all out of your system, that's the proper eulogy this woman deserves. Oh, she did this to you, and now you're doing it to us, and it's getting old, it's getting real old, old man! So finish what you were saying, sit down AND SHUT THE FUCK UP!
- Ruckus loves directing these to black people.
- In "The Trial of R. Kelly", Huey gives a scathing speech to the jury who acquitted R. Kelly.
- In "Return of the King", Martin Luther King Jr. gives an epic one to the African Americans who have embraced BET and nigga culture.
- In "The Color Ruckus", Ruckus' dad gives a scathing one to him. But Ruckus returns the favor later in the episode:
- Tonight, Someone Dies: What COMPLETE DISASTER seems to imply.
- Took a Level in Badass: Tom in "A Date with the Booty Warrior", but only in terms of balls.
- True Art Is Angsty: Lampshaded in-universe in "The Color Ruckus". While Ruckus recalls his horrible childhood to the Freemans, at one point, Huey remarks that Ruckus' life story is so heart-wrenchingly tragic, that it's reached "Academy Award winning" levels of sadness.
- True Companions: The Lethal Interjection Crew are still cool with each other even after they are disbanded.
- Troperrific: It's safe to say this series is awesome.
- Tyke Bomb: Ming, who has been raised from birth to only play kickball for her team so that she wouldn't have go to the Glorious Force Rehabilitation Center.
- Uncle Tomfoolery: This series often plays offensive black stereotypes for humor, usually satirically. Despite this though, it often lambastes low-brow black shows and movies for heavily indulging in this.
- Villain Episode:
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Granddad and Uncle Ruckus are type 2.
- Vocal Evolution: Huey and Riley's voices are slightly higher pitched in Season 1. This is most noticeable when they're yelling.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Tobias probably didn't know that his owner Colonel Lynchwater was his real father, but their relationship echoes the more typical version of this. When the Colonel calls Tobias "son", his eyes light up noticeably.
- Western Terrorists: Huey, who is known to be a far-left radical, is actually on the federal government's watchlist of suspected "domestic terrorists". While Huey is sometimes shown to be engaging in illegal activities, he never actually has the chance to do anything terroristic.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Riley gives this treatment to Tom for abandoning them in "A Date with the Booty Warrior", even when Tom came back for them twice.
- Where Da White Women At?: There seems to be a running gag that a lot of black men, especially (but not limited to) those with money or power, really want to score with white women:
- Most notably, there's Tom and Sarah' marriage.
- Robert has been seen dating both black and white women.
- Uncle Ruckus enjoys white women. It's the main reason why he tolerates the DuBoises.
- Rollo Goodlove is seen flirting with Ann Coulter, who are pretending to be enemies.
- In "A Date with the Booty Warrior", a prison gang of Scary Black Men are a little tired of anally raping the other inmates, so they demand that women, white ones especially, should be imported into the jail.
- White Gang-Bangers:
- Ed III and Rummy, despite being affluent white men, think that they're black street gangsters. They commit petty crimes despite already having plenty of money.
- The antagonists of "The Fundraiser" are English (and later Italian-American) mobsters who want to control the chocolate industry (a not-so-subtle allegory for the illegal drug trade).
- Ed II combines the business tactics of his father Ed I with a penchant for street crimes like his son Ed III. He acts more like a mafioso than a wigger though.
- The Whitest Black Guy:
- Tom "acts" very "white" for a black man; he is an upper-middle-class suburbanite, and thus he doesn't speak with a ghetto accent. And of course, he's married to a white woman.
- Tom's daughter Jazmine is biracial with a mostly white appearance. As she's also part of the same "white" culture as Tom, she's confused by Huey's insistence that she's black.
- Like other BET executives, Wedgie Rudlin feels a lot of contempt for other black people. He also boasts about having a business degree from the WASP Harvard University, instead of "one of those historically black colleges".
- Uncle Ruckus, despite fitting into quite a lot of black stereotypes himself, also has some stereotypical redneck-like traits, from being a white supremacist, to being a big fan of country music.
- Whole Plot Reference: "The Red Ball" is almost note for note a homage of the Samurai Champloo episode "Baseball Blues".
- The Worf Effect:
- Huey is supposed to be a master of kung fu, but he never won a fight, not counting Martial Arts Kickball. The only people he seems to be able to beat are his younger brother Riley and those few Mook guards in "... Or Die Tryin'". This is justified, as the only people who have beaten him are much older masters of kung fu, who take him seriously.
- Bushido Brown is killed thanks to this.
- World of Badass: Senior citizens, psychotic women, and even Uncle Ruckus can match Huey, martial arts expert though he may be.
- Worthy Opponent:
- Mr. Long-dou and Ed Wuncler, Sr.
- Ming's motivation for wanting Huey in the tournament, although her fake sob story might say otherwise.
- Wrestler in All of Us:
- Riley. The kid dropkicks someone, gets on the couch and hits a moonsault. Then he transitions into a Boston Crab. Chris Jericho would have been proud.
- Ruckus did a back suplex to Dan the Security Man in "It's Going Down".
- Luna. She tries to kill Granddad because she thinks he's cheating on her, locks up Huey and Riley so they can't help him and kidnaps Tom when he comes to help the family.
- Siri. After Robert buys an iPhone, Siri helps him out greatly, but after he declares his love for her, she goes completely yandere on him because nobody ever said that to her before. She does everything beyond her programming to ensure that Robert cannot leave her. She calls 911 on him when he threatens to smash the phone with a hammer, hacks his Facebook page and posts explicit content that Jazmine might have seen, controls his bank account, and just all around grabs his life by the balls. She even Photoshops his image into an Al Qaeda terrorist, copies his voice and threatens to nuke the U.S., and orders a drone strike on his position.
- Yellow Peril: The Chinese kickball team in "The Red Ball" are a pack of cheating, lying, manipulative brutes. Though they are funded by Mr. Long-dou, the Chinese rival of Ed Wuncler I.
- You Are Grounded: In "Home Alone", Huey punishes Riley by grounding him and forbidding him from leaving the house. Huey enforces this with kicks to the face.
- You Didn't Ask: When Robert finally asks Stinkmeaner's clone to leave him alone:Stinkmeaner II: Well sure, all you had to do was ask. I'm just a clone of Stinkmeaner, I don't even know you.
- Your Mom:
- Among the many insults Stinkmeaner spews during his "exorcism" is, "Y'all ain't shit!! Your MOMMAS ain't shit!"
- This is how Riley gets under Cindy's skin during their Trash Talk duel in the middle of a basketball game.
- Sgt. Gutter actually rings Thugnificent's mom live on air so she can tell him off for his bad language during their rap feud.
Eh Eh. What'd you say, nigga?