Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / The Tick

Go To
"You know, evil comes in many forms, be it a man-eating cow or Josef Stalin, but you can't let the package hide the pudding! Evil is just plain bad! You don't cotton to it. You gotta smack it in the nose with the rolled-up newspaper of goodness! Bad dog! Bad dog!"
The Tick, "The Tick vs. Arthur's Bank Account"

1994 Animated Series, a casual but incisive send-up of Super Hero shows (based on an independent comic by Ben Edlund written in the late '80s), featuring as its title character a super-strong, "Nigh Invulnerable" (or so he says), and (probably) insane Cloudcuckoolander with hypertrophied senses of justice and melodrama, given to bold, thoughtless action and near-incomprehensible aesop-like pronouncements. Assisting the Tick in his daily struggle against the Forces of Evil is Arthur, a former accountant, now moth-themed hero/sidekick. Frequently joining their adventures are Die Fledermaus and American Maid, two fellow crimefighters who bear a funhouse-mirror resemblance to Batman and Wonder Woman (or perhaps Captain America) respectively.

The Tick's adventures are evenly split between well-intentioned cluelessness and actual battles against supervillains. These villains — such as Chairface Chippendale, El Seed, Brainchild, and the Terror — are frequently just as bizarre as the Tick and his allies. Some, like the Evil Midnight Bomber (What Bombs At Midnight) ("One of these days, baby! Milkshake! Boom!"), have even developed their own fan followings.

In every episode, this program gleefully skewers the tropes and cliches of the Super Hero genre, distorting and twisting them like Silly Putty until they can stretch no more and snap back to hit you in the face. The resulting lunacy has spawned a cult following that continues to this day.

A Recap page is in progress here.

In 2001, Fox (who had aired the 1994 series through their Fox Kids block) attempted to revive the series in a live-action format with Patrick Warburton as The Tick, details are here.

August 19 2016 saw Edlund return to the character for a brand new live action series exclusive to Amazon Prime, starring Peter Serafinowicz in the title role. The series takes a gritter approach to the setting - but not to the character.

This series provided examples of:

  • '90s Anti-Hero: Parodied with Big Shot.
    Tick: Guns and superheroes don't mix. Seek professional help.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The Sewer Urchin's domain.
  • Achilles in His Tent: Handy isn't the Trope Namer — that was Homer — but he certainly re-popularized it.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Most fans agree that the cartoon version was a great step for the franchise.
  • Affably Evil: Thrakkorzog, an interdimensional alien who wants to take over the world and eat everyone's brains... And is delighted to meet his new neighbors in the process.
  • Affectionate Parody: To the whole superhero genre. Both the heroes are villains a-like are incredibly quirky and zany and often times incompetent, and the common tropes and clichés, are often mocked and deconstructed, such as Big Shot, a Punisher parody who realistically wound up with a lot of trauma and emotional baggage from his traumatic past, causing him to seek professional help after the Tick urges him to do so. Yet at the same time, a lot of genuine love exists alongside the parodical nature of the show, as all the heroes are genuinely good and altruistic people that just range from being incredibly quirky, yet effective, like the Loon with a Heart of Gold Tick, or the vaguely autistic Sewer Urchin, to more serious and down to earth, yet still comical heroes such as the American Maid and Eclair.
  • Alien Among Us: Tick and Arthur get new neighbors in one episode: Thrakkorzog, some normal guy, and Thrakkorzog's brain-eating tongue.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: In one episode, The Tick goes to see a psychiatrist. His "therapy" consists of being forced to wrestle the psychiatrist's assistant Shaft, er, Taft in various disguises.
    Taft (in wig and apron): Come on man, I'm your mother!
    Tick: No, you're not! You're Taft!
  • Animation Bump: The first four episodes are the best animated in the series. This is especially noticeable later on when they start using clips from other episodes in the intro. The difference is enormous.
  • Amazon Chaser: In "The Tick vs El Seed" the Tick is shown to be one towards Jungle Janet. Also, Die Fledermaus hits on some super heroines that look stronger than him.
  • Amazonian Beauty:
    • Jungle Janet of the Civic-Minded Five. On one occasion, a smitten Tick tries to woo Janet with a rose and... a potato that grew on his armpit. She's also a bit of a deconstruction as she sometimes worries she isn't feminine enough.
    • There's also Belgian superheroine Eclair, a one-shot character from "Tick vs. Europe." She is more androgynous-looking than Jungle Janet, though (for instance, compare her to her more traditionally feminine sidekick Blitzen), but this is never commented on by anyone and Die Fledermaus even hits on her (to no avail).
  • Anal Probing: Subverted. When The Tick is abducted by aliens, he is enthusiastic about being probed to expand interstellar knowledge, but it turns out the aliens actually want him to help defeat their enemies. The thought of probing him never crossed their minds. When The Tick finally goads them into "probing" him they do so by tapping an electrical device against his elbow. He is sorely disappointed.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: The leader of the Aztecs initially wanted to force Arthur to be his "bride" after they mistakenly kidnapped him instead of Carmelita.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing:
    • The Tick... even if he doesn't actually suck blood.
    • Also, Arthur is not a bunny, he's a moth. (Or at least he could fly like one with his folding wings).
    • Not to mention Sewer Urchin, Die Fledermaus, The Ant, Man-Eating Cow, Bumbling Bee, Caped Cod, Portuguese Man-of-War, Cockroach, The Praying Mantis, Blowfish Avenger, Caped Chameleon, Captain Lemming, Fishboy, The Angry Red Herring, The Fin, Octo-Raymond, Shiela Eel, and more.
  • Animated Shows
  • And That's Terrible: "Eating kittens is just plain wrong, and no-one should do it! Ever!"
  • Anti-Hero: Parodied with Big Shot, a satire on the type of gun-toting psychotic vigilantes popular in the 90s, who's revealed to be deeply psychologically unstable and unsuited for crimefighting. Luckily, the show also averts There Are No Therapists, and Big Shot switches from a skull motif to a turtleneck.
  • Anti-Villain: One episode had the mascot for an ice cream company, Uncle Creamy, mutated by its toxic product and literally turning into his costume. He's seen as the villain for most of the episode except by the Flying Squirrel, and eventually he reveals that he was attacking the company because he was trying to reveal that their ice cream is made from artificial sweetener and toxic waste.
    Uncle Creamy: Listen, lady, I'm not a villain... I'm vanilla!
  • Ascended Extra: Several very minor characters from the comic took on bigger roles in the show. For example, Pineapple Pokopo and Multiple Santa were just henchmen of Chairface Chippendale and The Terror, respectively, but ended up becoming primary villains in their own episodes.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The plot behind "The Tick Vs. Dinosaur Neil."
  • Auction of Evil: Takes place in the episode "Coach Fussell's Lament."
  • Ax-Crazy: The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight.
  • Backseat Driver: Tick and Die Fledermaus in "The Tick Vs. The Tick".
  • Badass Normal: Most of the heroes aside from the Tick himself are this or at least trying to be this. Some have a gadget-based gimmick like Arthur. Sewer Urchin is probably the closest when acting in his element, since he has faced off against those weird filth monsters and won.
  • Bad Guy Bar: The Evil Eye Cafe.
  • Bad Santa: Multiple Santa.
  • Bat Signal:
    • The Tick Signal first seen in "The Tick vs. Arthur's Bank Account."
    • Die Fledermaus has one, as pointed out by the mayor, but he disconnects his phone and leaves town whenever it is lit.
  • Battle Cry:
    • The Tick has many, but among the ones we hear more than once:
      • "Knock Off All That Evil!"
    • Arthur: "Not in the face!"
    • The Human Bullet: "FIRE ME, BOY!"
    • The Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight: "Boom baby, Boom!"
    • Suffragette: "I vote for JUSTICE!"
    • The Living Doll: "I'm filled with tinier men!"
    • The Civic-Minded Five: "Let's make a difference!"
    • The Tick attempts to teach a class of would-be heroes how to use battle cries, with mixed results.
      • Mr. Exciting: “It’s great to be alive!”
      • Baby-Boomerangutang: "It's okay to play with dolls!
      • The Flying Squirrel: "I like Squirrels!"
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Venus is a villainess who is very rotund and has the ability to entrance men. The only man she tries this on who is immune is Arthur. This is further invoked by her stealing clothes and such for her outfit to attend the Enemies Awards.
  • Big Dumb Body: In Tick vs. For and Neil's Wedding Chairface's evil plan is to mutate Dinosaur Neil worse than before and have the Indigestible Man infiltrate his body and hijack his brain so they have control over the biggest mook in history.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Die Fledermaus is German for "The Bat." This is averted in the Colombian Spanish dub, since they translated his name literally from German to Spanish and it's translated as La Rata Voladora (The Flying Rat).
    • Also, the Fortissimo Brothers from "The Tick vs. Europe" are the superstrong henchmen of a musical-themed villain. Fortissimo is a musical term meaning "very loud" in Italian, but it has a second meaning: "very strong".
  • Blob Monster: Thrakkorzog.
  • Body Horror:
    • "ARTHUR! My mustache is touching my brain!"
    • Also, The Tick's transformation in "Coach Fussel's Lament."
    • In the episode "Armless But Not Harmless," the Tick and Arthur are struck by a ray that causes their arms to fall off. The Tick takes his sudden debrachiation in stride. Arthur... not so much.
      Tick: [clears throat] All right... uh... this is quite a pickle. But no reason to panic, Arthur.
      Arthur: [long, anguished scream]
      Tick: [spots a phone booth] Ah... come along, Arthur! We'll call for assistance!
      Arthur: [screams again]
    • Not to mention the various, Dick Tracy esque villains, such as Zipperneck, who has a zipper on his neck that he can pull down to expose the inside of his throat to horrify his opponents, Chairface Chippendale, Bolthead and countless others. Also worthy of mention is The Deadly Bulb/Pig-Leg, who for some unknown reason has a live pig in place of his right leg. The pig is perfectly healthy and acts like a normal pig, but being attached to each other leads to some strife.
  • Boring, but Practical: The superhero community, apart from the Tick and Arthur, responds to Dinosaur Neil's rampage by deciding to "sit it out and wait for the National Guard."
  • Breakout Character: The Evil Midnight Bomber What bombs at Midnight! ("Yeah, baby!") has a rather strong cult following.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Arthur is pretty competent in a variety of things, once you look past the fact that he's in a giant moth suit all the time.
    • Averted in Arthur's backstory in multiple adaptations: he attempted to wear his moth suit all the time at his accounting position, and this bothered the higher-ups enough that he was "encouraged" to take a leave of absence and get psychiatric help.
    • The Tick himself qualifies, as well. When compared to most of the other "heroes" in The City, at least The Tick has the drive and focus to get the job done, with most of the city's other heroes, excepting American Maid and Sewer Urchin in sewer-related crimes, are either too weak or too cowardly to be particularly effective.
  • Butt-Monkey: It seems that the Moon itself is this in the animated series. It's one thing having Chairface Chippendale using a laser to partially carve his name on it but a Galactus expy took a bite of it. So everytime something bad happens to the moon it stays this way thoughout the entire series. Lampshaded in the series' guidebook when the Tick responds "Hasn't the Moon suffered enough already?"
  • Captain Ersatz: All over the place. Die Fledermaus for Batman and American Maid for Wonder Woman and Captain America were already Expies in their own right. Also, Taft for Shaft. The live action series had them for the major characters because of licensing issues preventing their use.
    • In Transformers: Animated, of all places, The Tick gets one. Sentinel Prime is voiced by Townsend Coleman, resembles the Tick (he's large, blue and has a lantern jaw and antennae) and even speaks like the Tick at times. The biggest difference being that Sentinel is a Jerkass instead of a Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Captain Geographic: American Maid, also a Captain Patriotic. She wears a red-white-and-blue maid's outfit and is one of the City's premier heroes.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Many of the antagonists, particularly Chairface Chippendale and The Terror.
  • Catapult to Glory: The Human Bullet.
  • Character Catchphrase:
  • Characterization Marches On: The first episode has Die Fledermaus springing into action, among other superheroes, to stop the Idea Men. Though he got distracted by American Maid.
  • Christmas Episode: “The Tick Loves Santa!” is, naturally, set at Christmastime. It features the debut of Multiple Santa, a bank robber who stole a bell-ringer's costume, who gains electricity-based Self-Duplication powers after running into a neon sign and being electrocuted. The Tick wrestles with his love of Santa and the need to stop him from flooding the streets with his clones after he hijacks the local hydroelectric dam — until the real Santa shows up and snaps him out of it.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The Crusading Chameleon was a recurring ally of the Tick and Arthur alongside American Maid, Sewer Urchin, Die Fledermaus and the Civic-Minded Five. However, he stopped appearing after Season 1.
    • The first episode showed that the City was crawling with superheroes. By Season Three, the only ones left were the Tick, Arthur, American Maid, Die Fledermaus, Sewer Urchin and the Civic-Minded Five.
  • The City: Called, oddly enough, "The City." It's said to have been poorly Anglicized from the French "Les Citrons" (The Lemons). Apparently early French explorers found a large quantity of some kind of fruit in the area.
  • Closer to Earth:
    • American Maid, compared to Die Fledermaus and most of the rest of the cast.
    • Arthur, compared to the Tick.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: The Carpeted Man. With his suit on, he possesses the awesome powers of static electricity and overheating. Without it... he is nothing.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Tick, turned to 11.
  • Combat Stilettos: American Maid wears them and actually uses them in combat as throwing weapons.
  • Commitment Issues: Die Fledermaus plays this card after the Ottoman suggests marriage. To be fair, even a normal person would probably freak at a proposal minutes into the first date.
  • Continuity Nod: Countless examples, in addition to the Deface of the Moon example below. In one case, Handy loses one of his eyes at the end of "The Tick vs. Arthur's Bank Account" and when Handy returns in "Grandpa Wore Tights," he's wearing an eyepatch.
    • A goon calls Arthur fat and in the next episode he's dieting.
  • Cool Chair: The World's Most Comfortable Chair, no less. So comfortable that no-one would ever want to get out of it.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Tick versus the Infinity Orb.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: In "The Tick Vs Reno, Nevada" the henchmen is surprised when The Fin creates a fish magnet, when he thought that the dolphin was going to do something to get their gang a lot of money. Something that a device that allows you to bring hundreds of tonnes of live fish in moments to your location without need of boats, fishermen or fishing equipment clearly can't do.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Sarcastro, whose based off of the late controversial dictator of Cuba, Fidel Castro. He's a genuine superhero, albeit a highly sarcastic one to the point where he labels it as being his power, albeit one that's just as quirky and sometimes ineffective as the rest of the misfit superheroes.
  • Dashing Hispanic: El Seed, to a certain degree.
  • Dating Catwoman: Die Fledermaus meets his own personal Catwoman when he encounters The Ottoman, a stylish woman who knows everything about furniture.
  • Death Course: Inside the Aztec pyramid. Spoofed once they get to the Lava Pit - the Tick just busts down a wall to go around it.
  • Deconstructor Fleet
  • Deface of the Moon: An aborted attempt by Chairface Chippendale to write his name. The letters "CHA" appear on the moon as a Continuity Nod.
    • Later the Tick successfully blows up the C, but is blown off the moon before he can complete his job, leaving a "HA" on the moon. Later that episode, a Captain Ersatz of Galactus takes a bite out of the moon, which also remains.
    • In the video game adaptation, the laser will manage to spell out "Chairface" on the moon if the Tick doesn't destroy it in time. If "Chairface" is spelled out, the time will be up and you will lose a life and start over where you left off when you fought the laser.
  • Dirty Coward: Die Fleidermaus. Despite being a superhero we almost never see him fight crime, and for one very good reason: as soon as he sees a weapon he runs and hides. The mayor informs Tick that whenever The City turns on his Fliedermaus signal (like the Bat Signal), he disconnects his phone and leaves town.
  • Disney Death: In "The Tick vs. Dinosaur Neil", Arthur and the army think that the Tick is Swallowed Whole by a mutated Dinosaur Neil, though the "gulp" Neil makes indicates that it is not the Tick that he has swallowed, but rather the special aspirin pill that our blue hero tries getting him to swallow while struggling inside Neil's mouth, until he manages to get the aspirin down Neil's throat successfully. It's just that the army doesn't see the action inside Neil's mouth as much as we, the viewers, do; and just when they think they lost the Tick and are about to shoot Neil, our hero manages to open the dinosaur's mouth and escape unharmed (though covered in saliva) in front of everyone.
  • The Ditz: The Tick.
    • Genius Ditz: The Tick may be very, very ditzy in just about everything, but he has shown a certain level of philosophical thought in some cases. Especially so in the second episode of the live-action series, where he learns that everyone (even potatoes) can die, and after thinking about it for about a minute, gives Arthur a motivating speech that actually makes sense.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Arthur's sister disapproves of his superhero "lifestyle", making it seem more like he came out as gay. Arthur and the Tick are also Mistaken for Gay (mostly implied, since it was a Saturday morning kid's cartoon).
    Dot: Dad really messed you up, didn't he?
  • Doppleganger Spin: Multiple Santa, who duplicates whenever touched by an electrical spark.
  • Dumb Dinos: Dinosaur Neil's transformation causes his body to grow but his mind to shrink, leaving him nothing more than a rampaging monster.
  • Dumb Muscle: The Tick himself.
  • Egopolis: Pineapple Pokopo and Pokoponesia.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: In "The Tick vs. Brainchild."
  • Endangered Soufflé: Inverted. The souffle is the danger (because it's large enough to crush the City once fully risen), and Tick saves the day by collapsing it by launching himself out of Human Bullet's cannon to create a sonic boom.
  • Enfante Terrible: Charles/Brainchild, who was also a Mad Scientist.
  • Evil Chef: The Breadmaster, expelled from baking college after using his culinary genius for evil, swears revenge and attacks the city with giant, destructive baked goods in revenge.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Given the less than stellar intellects of many cast members, these tend to be gems such as "... Water. People swim... in water!"
  • Everyone Has Standards: As insane and weird as the Tick is, even he finds a Mad Scientist inventing 'room temperature fire' too pointless and stupid.
    • He also explicitly states Brainchild isn't his arch-nemesis, but just a bratty kid. That said, he's more than willing to fight Brainchild.
  • Evil Old Folks: The Terror, a crazy old has-been supervillain who used to be buddies with Stalin. Back in the day he used to be a credible threat; these days, not so much, but he still gives Arthur and The Tick a good go of it.
  • Evil Plan: Parodied in the pilot episode, when the heroes catch one of the Idea Men and demand he tells them his scheme:
    Idea Man: Well, we thought we'd steal a lot of money, and then we'd be rich, and we wouldn't have to work anymore!
    Tick: You cads!
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight.
    • Minor villain the Whirling Scottish Devil-he can spin at superspeed, he's Scottish and he wears a devil hood.
  • Expospeak Gag: Google "acetylsalicylic acid."
  • Eye Lights Out
  • Eye Scream: One of the retired old heroes from "Grandpa Wore Tights", The Visual Eye, had the power to eject his eyeballs from their sockets with the phrase "Rocket From The Socket", and fly them around for scouting purposes. In his old age, he can no longer control them as well, and when he sends them out, they simply flop to the floor, where the Human Ton ends up slipping on them like a pair of marbles.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: "The Tick vs. Dinosaur Neil" - without as much shrinking, though - as the Tick needs to get into Dinosaur Neil's mouth and get him to swallow the giant aspirin in order to neutralize the dinosaur DNA in his body.
    • "Tick vs. Dot and Neil's Wedding" plays this more-or-less straight, complete with submarine (but again, no shrinking).
  • Felony Misdemeanor: The Dreaded Infinity Ball, the most powerful weapon of the Hey Empire. Lampshaded by The Tick: "We have things like those on earth. We knock them into little pockets with sticks."
  • Flanderization: Just compare The Tick from his earliest appearances (among other things, he actively hopes to avoid Ho Yay) to some of his later adaptations.
  • Flight, Strength, Heart: In the comics, The Tick is incredibly strong, Nigh Invulnerable... and apparently has an inexhaustible supply of two-dollar bills in his pockets (also, he has pockets). The latter avoids the usual use of money for superheroes; The Tick just uses it for day-to-day expenses.
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: In the episode "The Tick versus Pineapple Pokopo."
  • For Science!: The primary motivation of most of the shows various mad scientists, most notably Professor Chromedome.
  • Forced Transformation: In the episode “Coach Fussell’s Lament”, Brainchild uses one of his inventions to turn the Tick into a two-headed bird that only speaks high school French and lays chocolate eggs. Later, as Arthur tries to reverse the transformation, he is briefly turned into a flatworm, a chimp, an ant, a sock, and a cow before his sidekick finally finds the button marked “NORMAL”.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: "The Tick Vs. Science." Also includes Voices Are Mental.
  • Getting Eaten Is Harmless: Indigestible Man, who is sent to enter inside Dinosaur Neil and stop him from transforming back to normal.
  • Good-Guy Bar: The Comet Club.
  • Graceful in Their Element: Sewer Urchin in the, well, sewer.
  • Gratuitous Latin: Milo from the supervillain team Venus and Milo spouts Latin phrases constantly.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: "Arthur, my body is a weapon. Use it!"
  • Hand Puppet: Handy, the Human Ton's good pal. "Read a book!"
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: The Tick and Arthur.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Most of the dumb characters get at least one such moment. The Human Ton's hidden depths actually have their own personality, the hand-puppet supervillain known as "Handy".
    • The Flying Squirrel superhero student in "The Tick vs. Education" proved to be pretty effective with her squirrels.
    • The Sewer Urchin gets a whole episode showing off his hidden depths.
  • Hollywood Chameleons: The Caped Chameleon has the power to mimic the pattern of any surface. Except plaid. He doesn't do plaid.
  • Hollywood Magnetism: "A fish magnet?!"
  • Hot-Blooded: The Tick, especially in his more scenery-chewing moments.
  • Hulk Speak: The Protoclown is practically an Expy of Ol' Greenskin.
  • I Am Not Weasel: Arthur's moth costume is confused for a rabbit rabbit.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: Many quotes by The Tick and The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight.
    "Gravity is a harsh mistress!"
    "I hate broccoli, and yet, in a certain sense, I am broccoli."
    "You know, when a tomato grows out of your forehead, it gets you thinking."
    "I'm about to write you a reality check. Or would you prefer the cold, hard cash of truth?"
  • Idea Bulb: The terrorist group Idea Men have a light bulb logo.
  • Idiot Hero
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: Named the trope in an episode where the duo was trying to join an obviously evil organization to spy on them.
  • In the Name of the Moon: "Sun-worshipping dog-launchers, you face... The Tick!"
  • In with the In Crowd
  • Indy Escape: The boulder in "Sidekicks Don't Kiss" is no match for the Tick.
  • Informed Judaism: Arthur and Dot.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune
  • It Has Been an Honor: In "Tick vs. The Big Nothing", before going off to stop the Heys, Tick and Arthur have this little exchange while shaking hands:
    Tick: Arthur, if we don't make it, it's been really nice knowing you.
    Arthur: You too, Tick.
  • Jewish Smartass: Arthur's sister Dot.
  • Jungle Princess/Nubile Savage: Jungle Janet.
  • Kaiju: Dinosaur Neil.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: The Tick doesn't "know what they mean."
  • Lampshaded the Obscure Reference: A hand puppet compared The Tick to Achilles in his tent. When no one, even his ventriloquist, got it he said "It's from The Iliad. Read a book!"
    • Done again in a follow up episode where The Human Ton slips on The Visual Eyes ejected eyeballs, upon which Handy remarks that it was an "Oedipal moment." Once again, no one gets it.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Really, just look at the Tick's profile (preferably against the Tick-signal).
  • Large Ham: Pretty much anytime that Tick opens his mouth. The scary part? His villains are often even bigger hams than he is! Done, as just about everything else in the franchise, as an Affectionate Parody of super hero comics.)
  • Lensman Arms Race: The CIA made a sentient mustache, because "The Russians were working on a beard!".
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: "That'll be QUITE ENOUGH OF THAT!"
  • Limited Wardrobe: Tick and Arthur, and most of the other superheroes for that matter, are NEVER seen without their costumes, to the point where they usually sleep in them. In Tick's case, its debatable if it comes off at all. Arthur was seen without the bottom half of his suit in "Little Wooden Boy", after Swiss mercenaries stole his pants.
    • Though given that Tick is shown doing laundry in one episode, they presumably have more clothes than just the costumes (unless it's all sheets and towels).
  • Line-of-Sight Alias: Tick has to think of an alias when checking into a hotel and comes up with Nick Soapdish after seeing a soap dish.
    Hotel clerk: Are you sure that's your real name? It sounds more ... made up.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Tick is thinking of a good Battle Cry and realizes he's got a spoon in his hand, so...
  • Live-Action Adaptation: See the pages.
  • The Load: Die Fledermaus isn't very helpful in the best of circumstances in the cartoon, but he's awful in the video game. You can pick up an item that occasionally gives you a helper, with whom you fight back-to-back. Most of them attack when you attack, but Die Fledermaus never attacks and flies offscreen if he's hit by a single bullet. (Also, because you're back-to-back, he restricts you to only facing left while he's around.)
  • Love Freak: The Tick. He avoids being a Wide-Eyed Idealist simply by the world being only slightly less loony than himself.
  • Mad Bomber: The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight (yes, that is his full title). "Yeah, baby!"
  • Mad Scientist: The comic and cartoon being what it is, it has these guys coming out of its ears, but the most notable ones are the evil Dr. Chrome Dome, Brainchild and the mostly good but somewhat quirky Professor Vatos, the creator of Arthur's flying suit, as well as Dr Mung Mung, a less villainous take on the Yellow Peril, and the trouser-obsessed Dr Strangepants.
  • Magic Pants: Averted in "The Tick vs. Dinosaur Neil," where Dinosaur Neil's monstrous transformation renders him completely nude, causing a group of top scientists outside of The City to attempt to clothe him with the largest pair of pants, then they decide it's his problem and leave him to find his own pants.
  • Malicious Misnaming: In "The Tick vs the Uncommon Cold", the Tick gets Thrakkorzog's goat by purposefully mis-pronouncing his name ("Whatchamabog ... Laxativelog ...") A pretty intelligent burn on Tick's part, then he finally rubs it in that he's doing it by calling him "Susan."
Thrakkorzog: Now you're doing it on purpose. How juvenile.
  • Matryoshka Object: The Living Doll.
  • Mayincatec: The Deertown Aztecs are classic examples of this, right down to the trap filled temple pyramid. They were originally a baseball theam that got stranded in the jungle and copied Aztec culture through a book they picked up at the airport.
  • Metaphorgotten: The Tick's aesops almost inevitably turns into this, if they are not coming off as straight up Non Sequiturs.
  • Metaphysical Fuel: The Whats's starships run on fear — their own.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Die Fledermaus.
  • Mini Dress Of Power: American Maid.
  • Monster Clown: The Proto-clown.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: To escape the Infinity Ball (see Felony Misdemeanor), they're forced to use a new drive to get to the Speed of Lint!
    What Interpreter: Right after you do your laundry, what's the first thing you find in your pockets?
    The Tick: Uh... Crayons? Change? Lip Balm?
    What Interpreter: Lint! And how does it get there?
    The Tick: Uh... I don't know!
    What Interpreter: IT'S THAT FAST!
  • My Brain Is Big: Brain Child and Professor Chromedome.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya
  • Nested Mouths: Thrakkorzog has a little face on his tongue that talks about eating brains.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Nothing, not even a black hole, can kill The Tick.
  • "Nighthawks" Shot: Ben's Diner, where there heroes often hang out.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Sewer Urchin has Dustin Hoffman's "Rainman" voice. Definitely, Rainman.
  • No Name Given: The Tick.
  • Old Superhero: The retired superheroes from "Grandpa Wore Tights," who despite their advanced age and failing powers, put up quite a fight against The Human Ton and Handy, and actually manage to defeat him.
  • One-Steve Limit: The premise driving "The Tick vs. The Tick". Tick encounters a superhero at the Comet Club named Barry, who also goes by "The Tick", and has to fight him for the privilege of keeping his name.
  • Only Sane Man: American Maid. She's likely the closest thing to a competent hero here.
    • Arthur counts as well to an extent. Okay, the guy did want to become a hero on the first place, and was fired ("psychiatric leave") from his old desk job by showing up to the office in-costume, but next to the Tick, well...
  • Paper Master: Papercut.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Often used by Tick and Arthur, who will usually just wear obvious disguises over their costumes, and in one episode, Die Fledermaus "disguises" himself and the Sewer Urchin with the contents of a potting shed (in order to get into a villainous auction).
    Die Fledermaus: Greetings. I am The Rake. And my companion here is Buckethead.
    Sewer Urchin: Can't see! What's goin' on? Definitely got a bucket on my head. Yeah.
  • Parodied Trope: About half the Superhero Tropes were spoofed, as well as various other tropes.
  • Perfect Disguise, Terrible Acting: In the episode "The Tick vs. the Uncommon Cold'', the alien Thrakkorzog creates a clone of Arthur, perfect in every respect except the only words it can say are "I Arthur". Luckily for him, the Tick is an Idiot Hero, so it nearly works.
  • Perma-Shave: Arthur comments that the Tick has never shaved since they met. Tick has never grown facial hair and thinks that all guys with mustaches must get beaten up by them.
    • Arthur stays clean-shaven throughout the 6 months he and Tick were trapped in prehistory, despite being seen shaving in other episodes.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight does this with a smoke grenade when caught by Arthur.
  • Planet Eater: Omnipotus, an obvious parody of Galactus.
  • Plant Person: El Seed.
  • Pokémon Speak: The language of the Whats and the Heys.
  • Pretentious Pronunciation: Brian Pinhead (pih-NAYD) of Channel 17 News.
  • Pretty in Mink: Supermodel Mindy Moleford has a fur-trimmed coat.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: The Living Doll is, as his catchphrase goes, "full of tinier men." Of course, that means that once the fighting's over he has to round himself up and make sure he's got all of them in the right order.
  • Punny Name: Scarf Ace, a knitting supervillain.
    • For that matter, the "Rive Droite" bank whose fitting slogan is "The Right Bank for You."
    • Stalingrad, a graduate in Russian studies turned villain who looks and acts like Joseph Stalin.
    • Sarcastro, a failed hero (literally, as he fails a course that The Tick offered) who dresses like Fidel Castro and uses sarcasm as a weapon.
  • Reinventing the Telephone: Parodying the Bat Signal.
    The Mayor: You heroes keep sending us these things and they just don't work. Every time we flash the Die Fledermaus signal he unplugs his phone and skips town for a week.
  • Retro Rocket: A miniature one was used as a Jet Pack by The Suffragette during her hero career.
  • Robot Dog: Brainchild has one.
  • Roofhopping: But tends to smash the parts he lands on, and they don't take too kindly to that in Europe.
  • Running Gag: People thinking Arthur's costume is of a rabbit rather than a moth.
  • Santa Claus
  • Santa Clausmas: The Christmas Episode.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: "Tick vs Reno, Nevada" featured a dolphin who, like Blowhole, wanted to conquer mankind rather than amuse it.
  • Sarcasm-Blind:
    American Maid: Oh well, I suppose I could do a lot worse.
    Tick: Neat!
  • Saw It in a Movie Once: In "The Tick vs. Dinosaur Neil", Neil explains to the Tick and Arthur that he got the idea of regrowing dinosaur issue from a movie. It's likely Jurassic Park, which came a year before.
  • Scatting: Music director Doug Katsaros was imitating a bass trombone, and it came out like this.
    Dot dweeeeeee dot dot dot dwee-dow! Dot DWEEEEEEE dot dot dot dwee-dow!
  • Science Is Bad:
    Tick: But beware the other head of science; it BITES!
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Arthur in the live action series, making The Tick think it's a Damsel in Distress.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Arthur and the titular character provide the page image.
  • Sewer Gator: In the "The Tick vs. Filth" episode, Tick and Arthur are attacked by giant lobsters in the sewers and Sewer Urchin chases them off with melted butter and lemon.
    Tick: (Distressed) What happened? What was that? What is it with the lobsters?
    Sewer Urchin: Sewer lobsters, Tick.
    Tick: I thought there were alligators in the sewer! I mean, I was ready for alligators!
    Sewer Urchin: Ah, no. That's definitely a myth. We got lobsters.
  • Shout-Out: To many sources, including Dick Tracy and The DCU.
  • Single Substance Manipulation: The Ottoman Emperor has the ability to control furniture, a talent she plans to use to take over first The City and then the World.
  • Smurfing: The Whats mistake Arthur for a Hey and he still manages to get through an interrogation.
  • Snake Pit: Tick just lies over it and lets the others cross on top of him.
  • Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: Evil giant ants plan to deliver Karmic Deaths to all of humanity via one gigantic magnifying glass.
  • Soul-Crushing Desk Job: Mister Mental takes over Tick's mind to make him commit crimes, and when he resists, Mental summons his worst nightmare to keep him in line. This turns out to be Tick at an office desk, having paperwork handed to him as other workers say he's nothing special.
    Tick: A day job? In an office? My worst nightmare come true!
  • Something Person: There is even a superhero named "Door Man", although he's more of a Bouncer.
  • Spikes of Villainy: Baron Violence's costume.
  • Spoof Aesop: An Once an Episode fixture of the show. You'd even suspect that some episodes was written with the objective of delivering as far-out an Aesop as possible.
    "You know, though today was the worst day of my life, I learned many things. First, the world looks a lot different when you're six inches tall and covered with feathers. Second, two heads are definitely not better than one. And finally, you can lay an egg and still feel like a man."
  • Straw Nihilist: The Heys, an alien race that coincidentally happen to look exactly like Arthur, who have a species-wide obsession with non-existence and the lack of purpose of life.
  • Super Breeding Program: El Seed had an ultimate goal of creating an army of super-strong animated plants.
  • Superhero Capital of the World: The City is so full of superheroes, the Mayor has a Bat Signal for each and every one of them and has since run out of room on his window sill to house them all. Since all sorts of shenanigans of epic proportions — from aliens to terrorists, Kaiju and too many supervillains to count — happen in The City and only a handful of them are any good at being superheroes (either due to Crippling Overspecialization or just plain cowardice), The City needs all the help it can get.
  • Superhero Packing Heat: Parodied with Big Shot.
  • Swiss-Army Weapon: Literally—the Swiss Army mercenaries use gigantic Swiss Army knives with attachments like telescopes and helicopter blades.
  • Take That!: Tick is abducted by aliens who can only speak one word. "What?" except for their official translator who has "taught myself to speak all your Earth languages. Except Esperanto. (chuckles) You could see that one was going nowhere."
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Sewer Urchin, normally somewhat useless and meek, becomes a badass in the episode where they have to battle his sewer-based archnemesis. Here, he is largely unflappable with just the right tools for the job and a pretty cool base of operations.
    Sewer Urchin: [revealing that he heard Arthur just fine] Down here I'm the apotheosis of cool.
  • Title Montage: With most of the clips coming from "The Tick vs. Chairface Chippendale", "The Tick vs. Dinosaur Neil", "The Tick vs. The Idea Men", and "The Tick vs. Mr. Mental".
  • The Unintelligible: The Idea Men, while their helmets are closed anyway.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Die Fledermaus and American Maid. It's implied they previously had quite the intimate relationship, but broke up before the beginning of the series and are still bitter about it. Every once in and a while, though, they have their moments.
  • Verbal Tic: The Midnight Bomber's "... And so he says to me, he says to me, he says..."
  • Versus Title: Every episode in season 1 has these for episode titles. Season 2 drops this gimmick, but then it returns for the last six episodes of the show.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses:
    • You don't have to know the then-obscurenote  historical footnote concerning the Donner Party and their descent into cannibalism, when they were trapped in the Rocky Mountains in the winter of 1846 on the way to California. But it helps your appreciation of Keith Donner, cannibal villain. note 
    • It's likewise not necessary to know the Iliad, or the fight between Patroclus and Achilles, to get Handy's comment that The Tick is sulking in his tent like Achilles, but it helps.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Which can turn even that into doing unspeakable evil.
  • Watch Where You're Going!: Arthur manages to crash into ... Leonardo da Vinci while flying. Twice.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: American Maid.
  • Webcomic Time: "I dreamed I stopped existing for eight months!"
  • We Need a Distraction: "Hi, I'm Arthur, and this is my diversion!"
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is xxx, Anyway? Many heroes and villains have weird/marginal abilities: The Indigestible Man, Pig Leg/The Deadly Bulb, Bi-Polar Bear, the Caped Chameleon, the Carpeted Man, Four-Legged Man, Baby Boomerangutan, loads more...
    Tick: Oh, Arthur! A little spit never hurt anyone. (Beat) Except for Edible Lad. Poor guy.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The Tick fights crime in a city named The City.
  • World of Pun: "It's a YULE TIDE!!"
    • Another episode had a gun that turned half The City into "some guy named Ray."
    • Apparently there was also a "Tommy Gun" that did something similar.
    • "Tick vs. Europe" was this mixed in with Visual Pun and Bilingual Bonus. The Belgian superhero-sidekick duo of Eclair and Blitzen both have names referring to lightning (éclair is French for "(flash of) lightning", blitzen is derived from the Germanic word blitznote ), with Eclair actually being a lightning user. On top of this, an éclair is a French pastry (which is the first thing Tick thinks when he hears her name). Naturally, Eclair and Arthur have to take down a villain known as The Breadmaster.
    • As well as the Donner Party association, Keith Donner, cannibal, also has a name evoking the "doner kebab", a Turkish/Greek fast food item made from reconstituted meat of unknown provenance served in a pitta bread.
  • The Worm That Walks: "ANTS IN PANTS!"


Thorax-in-a-bog? Laxative-log?


How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / MaliciousMisnaming

Media sources: