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Larry 3000: Hello, we're the Time Squad. Our mission is simple:
to enforce the past to protect our future.
Buck: And making history fun!
Otto: You mean making fun of history! (Larry smacks him) OOW!
Larry 3000: Quiet, Otto!
— A Cartoon Network promo for the show

Imagine that as time continues into the future, the past starts to unravel, with various points in history coming out all wrong: Abraham Lincoln leaves his presidency to pull pranks, Eli Whitney invents flesh-eating robots instead of the cotton gin, Winston Churchill becomes a nudist, Ludwig van Beethoven becomes a professional wrestler, Edgar Allan Poe writes cheerful children's stories, Amelia Earhart is too afraid of germs to become the first female pilot, Al Capone uses circus clowns to run his crime syndicate, and so on.

Enter the Time Squad, who travel through time making sure that the past stays right on track. The show follows one section of Time Squad: Buck Tuddrussel (Rob Paulsen), who likes to shoot first and forget the questions, Larry 3000 (Mark Hamill), an uppity, effeminate, snarky robot who originally worked with kings, senators, and diplomats, and Otto (Pamela Adlon), an orphaned history buff from the 21st century picked up along the way who assists with his knowledge of the past. "Enforcing the past to protect our future."

Unless you count Otto's exposition, this show doesn't even try to be historically accurate, In fact, the basic premise revolves around the inaccuracies. And yet, most of their "successes" often leave behind many more inaccuracies...

A sort-of modernised take on the Peabody's Improbable History segments from Rocky and Bullwinkle, the show was created by Dave Wasson and premiered on Cartoon Network in June 2001 and was canceled in November 2003, being the first show produced by Cartoon Network Studios after its former parent Hanna-Barbera was dissolved. It reran for a time between November 2003 and August 2005 in the US, but since then, the show has all but disappeared from the airwaves. Cartoon Network did air clips of select episodes on their website as part of the channel's 20th birthday in October 2012, but that was a "limited time only" deal. Cartoon Network had added the first episode to their app and website in April 2020 to promote the HBO Max service but it was never confirmed to be included on the service and Cartoon Network removed the episode only a couple weeks later. Fans are waiting to see if WarnerMedia will add the entire show to the service.

In March 2022, a new trademark for Time Squad was registered on Trademarkia. Whether this means a reboot is in development or it is for something else is currently unknown.

Contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Amelia Earhart toward Tuddrussel in "Love at First Flight." This is a somewhat unusual example—Tuddrussel and Amelia Earhart get along well until she declares her desire to marry him.
  • The Ace: Implied to be the case with J.T. Lazer and Lance 9 Trillion. Tuddrussell and Larry fanboy over each of them hysterically when they show up, and they are used in Time Squad's advertising spots. Lazer is said to have graduated at the top of Tuddrussell's class at the academy, and Lance supposedly has a more powerful computing system than the one that runs our heroes' entire satellite.
  • Actor Allusion: Yes, that's Luke Skywalker/The Joker voicing an effeminate robot not unlike an exaggerated take on C-3PO.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Man with No Name in "Billy the Baby", who after the Time Squad and Billy turn themselves in states they're going to hang for their crimes. Implied in the Dollars movies but in the tie-in novel "A Coffin Full of Dollars" he states that he doesn't kill children or idiots, and the Time Squad are a mixture of both.
  • Adventures in the Bible: Mentioned in passing in an early episode is that Tuddrussel had stolen King David's sling-shot in a previous mission, and Otto wonders how David could've ended up defeating Goliath as described in the bible if he didn't have it after all.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Ax-Crazy Virtual George Washington from the "Houdini Whodunit?" cold opening.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Literally. Sigmund Freud is the only psychologist who appears in canon. Freud himself psychoanalyzes the trio near the end of his episode.
  • Ambiguous Clone Ending: The end of "Day of the Larrys." The last remaining Larry subtly implies that he's not the original, but this is completely ignored by both the plot and the main cast, and nothing changes.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • Larry has shown off tons of effeminate mannerisms that make him look a lot like a Camp Gay as well as show a a lot of questionable subtext towards Tuddrussel and several other men. At the same time he doesn't seem to show attraction to any women as he only admired Cleopatra for her fashion sense. Despite all of this, Larry has never been outright stated to be gay.
    • Also Lewis and Clark in the shows interpretation of them as their friendship was played off a lot like a romantic relationship.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Attila the Hun. Obviously he isn't, given his actual historical background, but Jess Harnell plays him with a Woody Allen-inspired voice and stereotypical Jewish hypochondria.
  • Anachronism Stew: Tons and tons of it, operating solely on the basis of Rule of Cool and Rule of Funny.
    • "Betsy Ross Flies Her Freak Flag" has Betsy Ross leading a New-Age Retro Hippie commune, a good 200 years before there was any such thing as a hippie.
    • In one episode ("Kubla Khan't") Otto lampshades this. "I didn't know comic books even existed back then." Not to mention how Khan managed to find the materials to construct the laser rifle from the schematics in the magazine that Tuddrussel had on him.
    • Cleopatra attempts to convert the pyramids into a modern shopping mall, complete with escalators, movie theaters, and fashions that are centuries too early. Then, of course, is the fact that she has any concept of what a shopping mall is.
    • In "Nobel Peace Surprise", Alfred Nobel forms a Legion of Doom consisting of Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper, Black Bart the pirate, Rasputin, and Mrs. O'Leary's cow. While most of them did actually live in the same time, Black Bart lived in the 17th century, well before any of the others were born. And no, Alfred Nobel did not travel through time or anything of the sort in the episode, nor did any of the other members.
  • Anachronistic Orphanage: Otto lived in an Orphanage of Fear until he was adopted. It looks more like something out of a Dickens novel than anything you might see today.
  • Artistic License – History: Self-described as a "C- Student's guide to history" — which is frankly being generous — the show often doesn't even try for historical accuracy, opting for Rule of Funny instead. It also treats "Common Knowledge" myths about history as accurate. The actual list of historical inaccuracies would be way too long to list, even on its own page.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: A slight variation seeing that it's paired with Hilariously Abusive Childhood, and that Tuddrussel acts more like an uncle or a brother and rarely shows any sort of "paternal" emotions for Otto (outside of saying "That's my boy!" during the birthday party sequence in "Love at First Flight"). At the beginning of the episode "Father Figure of Our Country", Tuddrussel tries to bond with Otto by teaching him how to play baseball, ride a bike, and fish. This goes about as well as you'd expect: disastrous. At the end of the scene Otto is completely battered and bandaged up because of Tuddrussel's blind negligence.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Buck and Larry's hug after their fight in "Hate and Let Hate" which can be inferred as Vitriolic Best Buds or a romantic relationship.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Edward Teach may have become a nature loving activist, but he's still Blackbeard, the most brutal pirate to ever grace the seven seas. Do NOT push him over the edge — especially when it comes to animals and/or the environment. Also, Tuddrussel ripping up meek comic book collector Kublai Khan's mint condition first issue of the Feng Shui Twins results in him launching his conquest across Eurasia, just to find a replacement, as well as putting Tuddrussel on death row.
  • Big Damn Heroes: John Hancock and Samuel Adams in the episode "Betsy Ross Flies Her Freak Flag", when they arrive just in time to pump George Washington s hippie-fied army full of coffee and ready to take on the British just when Time Squad themselves had given up on the mission.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Tuddrussel, Larry, and Otto, respectively. In "The Clownfather," they are mistaken for a trio of gangsters who have similar builds.
  • Black Comedy:
    • On "The Clownfather," Larry and Tuddrussell fight each other over who gets to entertain kids at a party. Tuddrussell wows the kids by balancing a piano on his nose. Larry throws down a banana peel and Tuddrussell slips on it. The two almost get into a pie fight until a panicked mom finds her son crushed by a piano and the mobsters (including the Time Squad, who joined Al Capone's gang because Capone mistook them for three gangsters who look like them) bail before the cops can come.
    • The many times Otto has been beaten up or abandoned — both when he lived in the orphanage and when Larry and Tuddrussell "adopt" him.
    • From Napoleon The Conquered its implied that Josephines general incompetence is what led to Napoleons crushing defeat at Waterloo, despite showing prowess at fighting minutes before.
  • Book Ends: The series premiere "Eli Whitney's Flesh-Eating Mistake" began with Tuddrussell and Larry appearing in Otto's bedroom and taking him away from the orphanage. The series finale "Orphan Substitute" ended with Otto reuniting with Tuddrussell and Larry after Otto gets taken back to the orphanage.
  • Brain Bleach: Referenced in this line from "The Prime Minister Has No Clothes":
    Tuddrussel: A 300-pound man skinny-dipping with a robot. That is just not right.
    Otto: I gotta wash my eyes!
  • Bratty Food Demand: Buck Tuddrussel often refuses to eat food Larry makes for him that he deems too "fu-fu", demanding nachos or burgers instead.
  • Brick Joke: "Killing Time," where after the Time Squad guide Nicolaus Copernicus to be an astronomer instead of a farmer, the trio spends the rest of the episode waiting around for Larry to restart his time travel software so they can go home. Just as the Time Squad zap back to the satellite, Copernicus runs back and yells, "Wait! I forgot to ask! What is the sun?".
  • Broken Pedestal: Tuddrussel is devastated to find out that his hero, his ancestor Jeremiah who fought at the Alamo, is a wimpy party planner who wants to roll over for the Mexican army because he's afraid of fighting the massive odds. He doesn't get redeemed either: Larry just inadvertently ruins the party with his crappy ideas and gets the Texans killed.
  • Buffy Speak: Eli Whitney's first name for his famous invention that separates the cotton seeds from the fibers? The "COTTON-SEED-SEPARATOR THINGY!"
  • Butterfly of Doom: "Planet of the Flies" was about this trope.
  • The Cameo: While Tuddrussel and Larry are trying to find another Child Prodigy orphan on the series finale "Orphan Substitute," one of them is...Dexter (voiced by Candi Milo, not Christine Cavanaugh), who points out he's not an orphan.
  • Can't Stand Them, Can't Live Without Them/Like an Old Married Couple: Tuddrussell and Larry
  • Can't Take Anything with You: Larry often lectures Tuddrussel in the dangers of taking artifacts from the past, but this doesn't stop him from stealing things such as the U.S. Constitution.
    • And once he left the schematics to a military grade laser cannon for Kubla Khan to read and have made for his own campaign for a new comic book.
  • The Cape: George Washington is the only historical figure whose depiction hasn't been warped (though he came close on "Father Figure of Our Country, when he wanted to quit being the first U.S. President and be an actual father).
    • He did appear as a crazed lunatic in "Houdini Whodunit?," but he was part of a training simulation.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Abraham Lincoln grows tired of living the Honest Abe life and job as president, and becomes "Dishonest Abe" in order to have fun. The Time Squad eventually give him a taste of his own medicine in mischief as a lesson in sticking to his responsibilities.
  • Changed My Jumper: Ordinary people throughout history almost never question the guys bizarre fashion or take notice that Larry is a robot. But Sheila and Lance however, being fellow Time Squad officers are quick to point out that Otto sticks out like a sore thumb because of his clothes.
  • Children Raise You: Otto often resorts to being the parent to Tuddrussel and Larry, who can act like bickering siblings (or, in a lot of cases, husband and wife). Even Dr. Freud makes a comment on the dysfunctional relationship, saying that the poor kid is slowly being robbed of his childhood and will be traumatized by this in his adult life (this, by the way, is all Played for Laughs).
    • But while Larry and Tuddrussell have a lot of problems, they still manage to give Otto a better life than he would have had in the twenty-first century (when he was in the orphanage and kept getting harassed by the other kids and forced to do chores by Sister Thornly).
  • The Chosen Many: For many of the early episodes, it seems that Buck, Larry and Otto are the only Time Squad unit, until we are introduced to at least two featuring the same "Officer-Robot" dynamic (one with Tuddrussell's ex-wife and Larry's rival, the XJ-5 and another with J.T. Laser and The Lance 9 Trillion, whom Buck and Larry idolize). Lampshaded when Otto asks in "Kubla Khan't"-
    Otto:"You mean we're not the only Time Squad?"
    Larry "You don't think one Time Squad could handle all of history, do you?"
  • City with No Name: Despite the fact that five minutes of the first episode is set Otto's time period, the show never specifies what city Otto came from before joining Time Squad.
  • Close-Enough Timeline: This happens frequently in the show.
    • Like in the episode featuring the Trojan horse, the Greek army had tried sending a wooden horse filled with candy, a wooden giraffe filled with chocolate soldiers, and finally in an effort to please the Time Squad's wishes for real soldiers to be sent to the King of Troy, the Greek army sends in a wooden solder filled with wild horses. The wild horses end up murdering people and effectively destroy the city of Troy. Otto comments that this outcome isn't exactly what's supposed to happen in the history books, with Tuddrussel to retort with, "ah, close enough."
    • And once in an effort to get Paul Revere to make his historic ride to warn the colonists that the British were coming, they had Sigmund Freud hypnotize him into thinking he was a horse and forced the Austrian shrink to ride Paul like a horse and warn the Americans himself.
  • Commercials Always Lie: Some commercials portray Otto as a hyperactive curious kid who'll more likely screw the missions of Tuddrussel and Larry. In the actual show, Otto is the Only Sane Man who had to deal with the wacky antics of his two friends-cum-"foster parents".
  • Comedic Sociopathy: With Amusing Injuries, Tuddrussel and Otto enjoy playing games like "Super Extreme Spy Tag" where the object of the game seems to be to try to murder the opponent player. Tuddrussel has attempted to club Otto to death and smash him with a washing machine, only to be disappointed that he crushed Larry with said object. He did succeed in getting Otto with hit with a bookcase though. And Otto in turn enjoys spraying shaving cream into Tuddrussel's eyes and laughs at his misery.
    • This type of violent pranking is also done while working on missions, and unsurprisingly some historical figures get into it. Such as the time when Tuddrussel teaches Abraham Lincoln about atomic wedgies and the President proceeds to give one to an old lady who then blindly goes onto a busy street and gets trampled by a horse. Abe and Tuddrussel look on, proceed to laugh, and then high five each other.
  • Company Cross References: In one episode, Buck and Larry try to find an orphan to replace Otto after a fight. One of them is Dexter, who complains that he's not an orphan.
  • Compressed Vice: Larry being a Moral Guardian in "Child's Play", which seems particularly bizarre given how much violence and sexuality the show had put in, far beyond the things Larry objects to.
    • Larry's obsession with "minimal interference" in "Planet of the Flies", even though the whole plot of the show is about a kid who he and Tuddrussel took out of his time period to help them on their missions.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Buffalo Bill of all people, who is too busy writing his own conspiracy newsletter to found the Pony Express. He's eventually talked into it by Otto who points out that he can circulate the newsletter along with everyone elses mail if he starts the postal system.
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: In "Nutorious", when Tuddrussel tries to stop George Washington Carver's evil younger brother, Todd, with his new laser gun that has a lot of buttons on it with different features, he accidentally activates the smoke screen which blinds him, allowing Todd to try to grab Tuddrussel's laser.
  • Criminal Doppelgänger: Three of Al Capone's henchmen- Tuddrussio, Lenny, and Blotto- bear a striking resemblance to Tuddrussel, Larry, and Otto. Both Tuddrussel and Larry share voice actors with their respective doppelgangers, albeit with diferent regional accents. Even Capone cannot tell the duos apart, resulting in the Time Squad reluctantly joining his birthday clown gang. And as for the real mobsters... Guess who gets the blame when Tuddrussel and Larry's clown antics get out of hand at a birthday party?
  • Didn't Think This Through: Many of the historical figures that Time Squad comes into contact with are often like this; Eli Whitney builds robots with the specific purpose to eat flesh because according to him it will "Help man-kind", but when confronted about how exactly is that helpful, Whitney admits that he didn't think about it much.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: There's all sorts of Ho Yay and Ambiguously Gay behavior. Examples:
    • In "Larry Upgrade," Tuddrussell and Larry argue like a married couple (but not before sending Otto out to play).
    • Then, there's the "break-up" between Lewis and Clark on "Lewis and Clark and Larry," along with Clark getting jealous that Lewis "went exploring" with Larry.
    • "Ex Marks the Spot," from Larry's unusual behavior that's reminiscent to a stereotypically devoted housewife who has an amazing sex life with Tuddrussel to Larry declaring that Tuddrussel is sleeping on the sofa (even though Tuddrussel did nothing to deserve it).
    • A rare example that has nothing to do with the homosexual undertone of the show occurs in "Child's Play," where Shakespeare gets into creative differences between his agent (who wants him to do kids' plays for merchandise) and Larry (who acts as a Moral Guardian and keeps objecting to the plays' content).
    • Another non-homosexual example: the two times Larry has acted drunk (in "Eli Whitney's Flesh-Eating Mistake," where his Non Sequitur, *Thud* after being beaten by angry townspeople is "I'm okay to drive. Just help me to the car." and in "Pasteur Packs O'Punch where Larry experiences wild mood swings after being electrocuted, where he drunkenly tells Tuddrussell that he loves him, offers to drive despite being in no condition to operate anything, telling off Otto with a slurred, "Hey, don't tell me what to do!", and embarrassing himself at a party by standing on a table and declaring himself, "The Queen of France").
    • In a similar vein, on the first episode "Eli Whitney's Flesh-Eating Mistake," there was Fantastic Racism in the form of the townspeople who were attacked by Eli Whitney's flesh-eating robots attacking Larry because he may be a flesh-eating robot and Tuddrussell taking offense to being called a "robot lover" (though the rampant, mostly one-sided Ho Yay begs to differ). However, the whole scenario could be taken another way, because Tuddrussel only takes offense ("Hey! You watch who you're calling 'robot lover'!") when a townsperson labels Otto as a 'robot lover' ("This must be some kind of flesh eating robot lover trick!") right after Otto explains that Larry doesn't have any teeth. Tuddrussel having taken offence to someone other than himself being labeled as such can vaguely be interpreted as pure jealousy.
    • "Daddio DaVinci" (season one, episode three) had Otto opening Larry's gear box on his chest and Larry covering himself in the same way a woman would if her breasts were exposed.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Tuddrussell has an arsenal of powerful laser guns that he often brandishes but rarely uses. It's heavily implied that Time Squad officers are not actually supposed to use them except as an absolute last resort, and Tuddrussell simply keeps them for show because he has a borderline erotic fixation on guns. The few times he does use them, he's either about to die or gets told off by Larry. When he gifts one to Otto, he predictably fails to impart this restriction, and havoc ensues.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Despite that none of them are related to each other, the writers have made them out like a family (albeit one with a lot of problems). Freud even said that the trio were like this in "The Island of Dr. Freud."
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Unsurprisingly, George Patton, who in this timeline is running a small flower shop that he's running like a boot camp and treats his employees like new recruits.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: Tuddrussel and Otto both have albums (an academy year book and orphanage scrapbook) that contain embarrassing photos that tell us a little about their pasts.
  • Erotic Eating: In the opening of "Ex Marks the Spot," Larry gives a gravy-drowned turkey to Tuddrussel, who eats it on the couch. The camera cuts away from Tuddrussel, but we hear him devour the turkey voraciously, suggestively splattering gravy on the wall and on Larry, who giggles and has the biggest smile he's ever had on the show when the gravy lands on him.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Tuddrussel's reaction to J.T. Laser is groupie-like and borderline orgasmic (as is Larry's to the Lance Nine Trillion, but that goes without saying).
  • Evolving Credits: The first season's main title sequence had clips from some episodes, while the second season's main title sequence had entirely original animation, starting with the History Instability Alarm going off.
  • Exiled to the Couch: Larry told Tuddrussel that "Tonight, [he was] sleeping on the sofa!" when he thought that Tuddrussel and his ex-Sheila were getting back together even though Tuddrussel did nothing wrong to deserve being sent to the couch. It Makes Sense in Context. No prior episode — unless you count the part on "Old Timers' Squad" where Larry's, Tuddrussel's, and Otto's older selves are shown in the same bed — ever established that Buck and Larry shared a bed. In fact, previous episodes showed that Tuddrussel and Larry had their own separate rooms and beds on the ship, so the line indicated that their relationship had become, er, closer (see the Fridge Brilliance tab on this page for an alternate interpretation of this scene).
  • Face–Heel Turn: Alfred Nobel decided to give out a price for biggest evil instead of a Peace Price, and formed a Legion of Doom consisting of Black Bart, Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden, RasputinTheMadMonk and Mrs O'Leary's Cow.
  • Fag Hag: Cleopatra VII is implied to be one, considering that the Larry 3000 only likes her for her fashion sense and her plans to turn the pyramids into a mall.
  • Family of Choice: The three main characters all come from different backgrounds, are forced to stay together in a satellite in space and have to work together as a team; which provides situations to give way for them to act as a real family.
  • Feud Episode: "Hate And Let Hate" featured Tuddrussel and Larry getting into a fight after Larry cleans Tuddrussel's phaser guns in the dishwasher, which results in an ungrateful and infuriated Tuddrussel shoving Larry into the dishwasher and setting the water temperature to high heat. Larry and Tuddrussel then go on to pull numerous pranks at each other such as replacing deodorant with spray paint and tying shoelaces together and during their feud, they accidentally maroon Otto in the 16th century after a mission involving Hernando De Soto but they are both too blinded by their feuding to realize their mistake and it goes to the point where Tuddrussel uses white paint to divide up the ship and he and Larry end up on the wrong sides. After getting comfortable with doing each others hobbies, Tuddrussel and Larry make up and realize their mistake in abandoning Otto.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: All the characters on the show have three fingers instead of four.
  • Funny Background Event: In "Larry Upgrade," when Buck and Larry are about to start an argument, they tell Otto to go play outside, too angry to remember they live in a space station. While the two are arguing, you can see Otto drifting in space outside a window and having the time of his life.
  • Foot Popping: Larry (who else?) does this when hugging Tuddrussel in "Hate and Let Hate."
  • For Want of a Nail: In "Planet of the Flies", the human-sized flies ruling the world in the year 3000 was due to a butterfly effect caused by Tuddrussel squashing an actual-sized fly in the Stone Age.
  • Forgot I Had A Phaser: Tuddrussell's exact words in the pilot episode, after recovering from a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to blow all the enemy robots away.
  • The Ghost: Senator Fiskmeyer, the last government official the Larry 3000 worked with before being assigned to the Time Squad. Outside of being mentioned by Larry in "Dishonest Abe," "Robin and Stealing With Mr. Hood," and "Feud For Thought," Fiskmeyer hasn't actually been seen.
  • Going Native: Both Tuddrussel and Larry are EXTREMELY prone to this, as soon as they identify with a historical inaccuracy in the slightest, they'll happily abandon their mission and join up with the madness, and leave Otto to straighten things out. Sheila refers to this trope as “Committing a code 646” in the Nobel episode.
  • Godiva Hair: Subverted with the legend herself on "If It's Wright, It's Wrong." Larry shows Otto some past videos of Buck trying to arrest historical figures, one of which is Lady Godiva riding naked on her horse. Rather than use her impossibly long hair to cover her nudity (as it was depicted as being a realistic shoulder-length), Godiva's nudity was covered with black censor bars.
  • Gone Horribly Right: When the Time Squad successfully (and inadvertently) return Edgar Allan Poe to his original manic-depressive (emphasis on "depressive") self, they feel bad about it and leave without saying a word.
    • This actually happens quite a few times, while most of the people Time Squad helps have simply gotten sidetracked or are missing some inspiration of idea that will put them on the right path, several historical characters don't WANT to take on the tasks that history dictates for them and are actively trying to avoid it, and its up to the Time Squad to force them to do it to prevent history from getting screwed up. Most noteable with Poe, but also with Plato, who has become a health nut and has to be physically threatened to become a philosopher instead, Blackbeard, who prefers saving the environment over piracy, and Montezuma, who wants to be a stand up comedian. Some are visibly disheartened by being forced into a role they don't want.
  • Gun Porn: Parodied. Tuddrussel's magazine in "Kubla Khan't" appears to be literal pornography with guns instead of nude pictures.
  • Hartman Hips: Due to Dave Wasson's art stylenote , most of the women including Officer Sheila Sternwell and Betsy Ross have this.
  • Hate Sink: There are 2 examples.
    • Sister Thornly, for running an abusive orphange and treating all the orphans there like slaves, including Otto.
    • The show’s version of Louis Pasteur. He is portrayed as a full blown arrogant jerk who rubs his success of powdered drinks in Otto’s face and constantly insulted the time squad.
  • Henpecked Husband: Napoléon Bonaparte in "Napoleon the Conquered." Lampshaded by Tuddrussell, who, after hearing Napoleon get yelled at by his wife, snickers, "Man, that guy is whipped!" (just before Josephine pokes her head out the door and Tuddrussell Screams Like a Little Girl)
  • Here We Go Again!: In the episode "Planet of the Flies", the squad prevent a future ruled by flies when Tuddrussel stops his past self from smashing a fly in the Stone Age. But, while Tuddrussel is celebrating, a bee flies up to him, and he squashes it in shock. This causes both Larrys to receive an alarm from the future, starting the whole thing again. Both squads, including the other Tuddrussel, are annoyed by Tuddrussel's actions.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Lewis and Clark. Probably
    • Same thing with Larry and Tuddrussell (right down to the dubious-sounding "probably").
  • Historical Domain Character: There's one in every episode.
  • Historical In-Joke: The basic premise of the series. The fact that the history is so remarkably off-base is part of the joke.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Many examples, but perhaps the most obvious would be Rasputin, Lizzie Borden, and Mrs. O'Leary's cow in the episode "Nobel Peace Surprise". Grigori Rasputin never actually did anything evil historically, which is simply a common misconception. Lizzie Borden was declared innocent, and even if one were to assume she actually was guilty like many people did, she would have only murdered her abusive father and stepmother as opposed to killing innocent people or being a Card-Carrying Villain like she is erroneously depicted here and in many other media. Mrs. O'Leary's cow, assuming she did start the fire which is highly debated, was just an animal that could have had no comprehension of what it had done, whereas this episode depicts the cow as being outright evil and having intentionally caused the Chicago fire.
  • Hollywood Board Games: Sometimes, there's not much to do on the satellite base in-between emergencies. As shown in "Keepin' it Real with Sitting Bull", Tuddrussel and Otto engage in countless games of Tic-Tac-Toe to stave off boredom.
  • Hollywood History: When they say it's "The C-Student's guide to history", they mean it. You're about likely to get about as much historical facts as a typical Hollywood biopic.
  • Hypno Fool: Alternate-history Sigmund Freud enjoys making his patients act like barnyard animals.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Tuddrussell to his ex-wife and her robot in "Nobel Peace Surprise".
    "Aw, come on. Does the solution to every problem have to involve violence with you two?" (everyone stares at him) "What?"
    • Another one from Tuddrussel in "Planet of the Flies" after Larry scolds him for smearing barbecue sauce all over the Declaration of Independence.
      "(Obnoxious Burp) Well pardon me for having good hygiene!"
    • In "Blackbeard, Warm Heart," Otto, Tuddrussell, and Blackbeard's crew lament over being called "lily-livers," "buttercups," and the dreaded S-word ("sissies"). The Larry 3000 comments that he's been called a "sissy" his whole life and the slights against the crew's masculinity shouldn't get to them. There are three things that don't exactly inspire confidence in that little pep talk: 1) Larry slightly lisps when he says, "sissy," 2) Larry is saying this while sleeping in an all-pink and lace bottom bunk, and 3) It's Larry saying this. The same Larry who wore a pink bandanna as a scarf earlier in the episode that featured this part.
    • Speaking of Larry and Hypocritical Humor, there's most of the episode, "Child's Play," in which Larry acts like a Moral Guardian (and shatters the fourth wall by pointing out that Tuddrussell's catchphrases "Go time!" and "Get some!" are inappropriate for children and making two speeches about how people have lost their sense of morality) and even gets involved in censoring Shakespeare's plays — and also reveals that he reads novels by Jackie Collins, which aren't exactly what you would call "child-friendly."
  • Idiot Ball: Samuel Morse, despite having already created the telegraph, is using it to send "funny sounds" to his girlfriend across town, and instead introduces yelling at the top of his lungs out the window as his "revolutionary new communcations system". Time Squad is visibly frustrated at the sheer idiocy of the man.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: In "Orphan Substitute", the first substitute says he can't help the squad because he's "a math genius, not a history whiz".
  • Insufferable Imbecile: Tuddrussel at his worst, though most of the time, he's just a Leeroy Jenkins.
  • Inventor of the Mundane: Time Squad had plenty of these. Whether the inventors actually got around to inventing their mundane inventions was completely subject to plot convenience.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: When it doesn't run on Ho Yay, Does This Remind You of Anything? and Hypocritical Humor.
  • Jerkass: Louis Pasteur is portrayed as this, showing no redeemable features whatsoever and generally acts like a stuck up asshole. Even Otto, historical fanboy extraordinaire, can't stand the guy.
  • Job Title: The show's called Time Squad and that's what our heroes do. Technically, only Tuddrussell and Larry are official Time Squad officers; Otto is just the Tagalong Kid.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Sister Thornly, the vividly abusive owner of the Orphanage of Fear where Otto used to live, is never punished for her crimes.
    • In the most literal sense, Harry Houdini himself. Everyone's so amazed at his tricks they don't care he's robbing them, and even after going straight, he still gets to keep all the stuff he stole.
  • Sorry, I Left the BGM On: Larry in "Floundering Fathers". When Otto voices the first verses of the Declaration of Independence, patriotic music plays in the background, which is later revealed to be Larry using his chest as a radio.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Granted, Larry doesn't wear clothes (but if he does they're always different and it's usually a costume — and even then, it's often Stripperiffic drag) and Otto will sometimes be seen in PJs or occasionally in period costume, but Buck is never seen without his uniform. Ever. He'll wear things over it but the uniform can always be distinctly seen — even in the shower, as seen in "Larry Upgrade."
  • Little Brother Is Watching: Larry sometimes points out to Tuddrussel that his ill-behavior has consequences in the form of Otto growing up to be just like him. Tuddrussel does take these warnings to heart and will try to adjust for the kid.
  • Manchild: Tuddrussel as he often slept with a night light and a teddy bear and even cried like a baby over getting a small cut. Larry even lampshades on this in a couple of episodes and has even directly called Tuddrussel a man child more than once.
  • Man Hug: Averted in "Hate and Let Hate"—Tuddrussel and Larry reunite with a perfectly ordinary, tender hug.
  • Missing Steps Plan: When pressed by Otto for an explanation on how exactly flesh-eating robots were supposed to help mankind, Eli Whitney admits he didn't think that through too well.
  • Mona Lisa Smile: On the show, the coy, mysterious smile was because Mona Lisa had bad teeth when she gave a big smile.
  • Mobster Clown: In "The Clownfather," Al Capone forces a group of clowns to take over his criminal empire while he and his gang take over the clown entertainment business.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Larry speaking French while trying to reason with Napoleon in "Napoleon the Conquered" apparently didn't work, as the three are then sentenced to die by guillotine. In "Out with the In Crowd," Henry Morton Stanley (the explorer known for the memetic quote, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?") tries to get the jungle natives to stop attacking him, but whatever he said translates to "My name is Silly Suzy and I am wearing rubber underpants."
  • Mundane Object Amazement: Otto is forever excited by things ether Larry and Tuddrussel find mundane (like seeing Earth from space for the first time) or by things that people in his own contemporary time period would find meh (like the U.S. Mint building). Granted, he is an eight-year-old with no previous experience of the outside world before joining Time Squad.
  • My Little Phony: An episode has a cute looking pony with hearts for a Cutie Mark attacking Buck.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Despite Tuddrussel's size and strength, he's gotten his ass kicked several times, ranging from experienced Soldiers like General Patton and Joan of Arc, to Florence Nightingale!
  • Naked People Are Funny: The entire plot for "The Prime Minister Has No Clothes". Although Otto and Tudrussell certainly don't think so.
  • Negative Continuity: Averted in the case of some episodes as some of the episodes do make references to past ones as well as reintroduce past characters which were the case of episodes featuring Julius Caesar, Sigmund Freud, George Washington, Blackbeard, and the Boston Tea Party.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: Otto is smart and cheerful, Larry is snarky and narcissistic, and Tuddrussel is a massive Leeroy Jenkins, but his heart can be in the right place. Sometimes, Tuddrussel and Larry interchange, as Tuddrussel frequently acts like a Lazy Husband, and, while Larry is selfish, he is emotionally closer to Otto and more sensitive than Tuddrussel.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Napoleon's wife Josephine beats the crap out of him, Tuddrussel, Otto, Larry and the entire French army.
  • Noodle Incident: There are often moments where the show's humor relies on the characters bringing up past events for one reason or another:
    • Sheila and Buck have an entire conversation in "Ex Marks the Spot" about their past missions and the fights that Buck got involved with various historical figures. It's never established WHY Buck threw Pablo Picasso down a flight of stairs or HOW he got into a brawl with Florence Nightingale, they just happily remember that it happened.
    • Before "Cabin Fever" occurs, the guys are looking like they were savagely beaten up while watching Jazz musician Louis Armstrong and his band play. They proceed to discuss how Armstrong "sure gave them a run for their money" and were relieved that Armstrong gave up what was apparently a plot to "drill into the center of the Earth".
    • While trying to get Montezuma to abandon stand up comedy, Tuddrussel and Larry finally snap and throw insults at each other, with Larry to snidely ask Tuddrussel, "What about that time you went to get a drink and got your head stuck in the toilet?"
  • One World Order: By the year 100 million AD, all of Earth's countries have combined into one big "super nation."
  • Only One Finds It Fun: At one point, Edgar Allan Poe makes the squad listen to his stories, which aren't the horror stories he's famous for writing, but rather romances and kids' books. Tuddrussel and Larry find them extremely boring and saccharine, but Otto takes a strong liking to them and claps excitedly when Poe finishes his story.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Where Otto lived before Larry and Tuddrussell "adopted" him.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different: Unusual version of time travel. Alternate timelines don't exist, and time actively decays as it moves along through space and has to be maintained.
  • Parental Bonus: Everything mentioned in Ho Yay, Does This Remind You of Anything?, and Genius Bonus, along with a significant number of Shout Outs.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Even if they aren't really Otto's parents, they certainly act like it as the series goes on. This leads to situations where Tuddrussel and Larry forget they have Otto to take care of because they were often too busy fighting to notice that Otto could be in danger.
  • Parody Episode: The season one episode "Larry Upgrade" seems to be a parody of The Stepford Wives, but with a happier resolution than in the book or movie.
    • "White House Weirdness" is a full-episode parody of Scooby-Doo.
    • "Houdini Whodunnit?!" is an affectionate parody of the 1960's Batman television series.
  • Pec Flex: Tuddrussell. With those muscles, who wouldn't?
  • Personality Swap: Buck and Larry enter one by accidentally switching their usual areas of habitation and going native in "Hate and Let Hate." Worth noting because this wasn't done as the usual Freaky Friday switch in which some magical or scientific third party switches Larry's and Tuddrussell's personalities into each other's bodies, they just happen to be stuck on each others side of the sattelite and try the other's hobbies out of boredom.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Played straight with Sheila and her robot the [XJ5], even if fans tend to think that's more than platonic from [XJ5]'s side. Also played with Larry and Tuddrussel, it's also played straight, though with the heavy aura of Ho Yay around the friendship, this is debatable.
  • Politically Correct History: All over the place, fitting with the Anachronism Stew of the setting.
    • In the pilot (which deals with Eli Whitney), "Dishonest Abe" (which shows Abraham Lincoln giving the Emancipation Proclamation), and "Father Figure of our Country" (which has Otto spending a great deal of time on George Washington's estate), there's not a slave in sight, and slavery isn't given even a passing mention. The century's worth of segregation is never mentioned either.
    • Episodes that take place during any modern war won't even reference the war in question. Even World War II is only barely mentioned in an episode centered around Winston Churchill, and another centered around Patton. note 
    • Black and female American historical figures are noticeably rare, likely to gloss over America's difficult history with race and gender. One exception is The Theme Park Version of George Washington Carver, who was regarded as a super-popular celebrity In-Universe. In the early 1900s. Yeah...
    • "Keeping it Real With Sitting Bull" makes reference to the Battle of Little Bighorn (which, as it tends to be, is Played for Laughs), but the actual context of Indian Removal is not present.
  • Post-Treatment Lollipop: Larry often acts as the team doctor for the unit, at one point giving Tuddrussel a big pink lollypop as a reward after taking a thorn out of his foot.
  • Pursue the Dream Job: Many episodes involve a historical figure changing to another field of work - such as Beethoven becoming a pro-wrestler or Albert Einstein a used car salesman - and it's up to the Squad to get them back in track and keep the timeline stable.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: "Day of the Larry's" has all the the Larry clones thrown out the airlock and likely the real Larry as well, as the last remaining Larry a clone. He laughs maniacally for taking the real Larry's position... and burdens, as Tuddrussel forces him to clean up the mess whilst he and Otto resume their destructive games. The clone Larry mops the floor as he cries pathetically.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: Apparently, in the alternate 18th century, Beethoven briefly becomes a pro wrestler and popularizes the sport a century early.
  • Quirky Household: Especially in season two episodes, we see that the unit is a makeshift family where not single day is dull while on the satellite.
  • The Rashomon: Otto, Buck and Larry all have very different ideas when it comes to what happened with the Mongol army. Over a series of flashbacks we see were their stories converge and diverge only to find that Otto was the only correct and non-biased one... but wasn't used for the mission report because Otto technically isn't an official Time Squad member.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: If the show wasn't doing jokes about how Ambiguously Gay the Larry 3000 is, then it's doing jokes about how seemingly macho men have unmanly hobbies and interests. To wit:
    • "Tea Time for Time Squad" had the Sons of Liberty having an actual tea party instead of throwing the taxed tea into the harbor (which they ended up doing after Otto offers coffee to everyone).
    • "Every Poe Has A Silver Lining" had Edgar Allan Poe as a cheerful children's writer who decorated everything in pastels (and even wore a pastel purple suit that looked more like something teenaged boys from the '70s and '80s would wear to senior prom).
    • "Floral Patton": General Patton running a florist shop, though his Drill Sergeant Nasty personality didn't change.
    • "Forget The Alamo": Tuddrussel is shocked to find that his ancestor, Jeremiah Tuddrussel, is a party planner instead of one of the fighters of the Alamo.
    • "Hate and Let Hate": Tuddrussel teaches himself how to cook with Larry's books after accidentally sequestering himself on Larry's side of the satellite.
    • "Blackbeard Warm Heart" and "Repeat Offender": Bloodthirsty pirate Blackbeard (real name: Edward Teach) is an environmentalist and animal lover.
    • Beethoven is shown to be a muscular and macho guy with an Austrian accent who loves wrestling but also loves and excels at doing classical musing
  • Refuge in Audacity: As mentioned in the Karma Houdini entry, Sister Thornly regularly abuses and uses her orphans as cheap labor (doing everything from harvesting sugar canes to mining coal to cleaning the windows of the Empire State Building) and even had them pack government cheese on a bus during a trip to Washington, D.C. (which is densely packed with all manner of security officers) without getting caught. In fact, she's never punished for what she's done. Whether it's because Police Are Useless or her status as a nun lets her get away with such atrocities is up for debate.
  • Regular Caller: The History Instability Alarm. "Cabin Fever" explored what would happen if their Regular Caller was decommissioned.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Loads and loads of this, mainly coming from Tuddrussel. A notable example is when Otto, dressed in a time squad uniform and following Tuddrussel's terrible example for the day, gets handed a phaser by Tuddrussel and shoots up Amelia Earhart's apartment.
  • Rich Bitch: Cleopatra.
  • Richard Nixon, the Used Car Salesman: Historical figures are often shown with different jobs. Fittingly, one of them happens to be a used car salesman - Albert Einstein.
  • Running Gag: If it's a story taking place in the American Revolution, expect people doped-up on coffee to make an appearance, after the Boston Tea Party was resolved by feeding it to the partiers.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Tuddrussel denying that he brought home Ivan the Terrible to keep as a pet in "Ivan the Untrainable."
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Larry and Tuddrussel. In season one, it was played straight; in season two, it was exaggerated.
  • Small Reference Pools: The bulk of episodes take place either in what will become the US or dealing with historical figures that the average American will be familiar with. Also, despite taking place in the year 1,000,000, no historical figure after the 20th Century is shown. The latter is justified in universe as this being about the time at which history starts to unravel.
  • Spiritual Successor: The whole show is a 21st century spin on Peabody's Improbable History, which featured a similar plot, with things in the past being twisted, and the characters going back in time to set things right, or close to it. Also Otto looks and acts a bit like Sherman, and interestingly enough have a similar backstory- both were orphans living in abusive homes before being "adopted."
    • Also, the idea of an orphan boy and a member (in this case members) of a group dedicated to traveling through history and keeping it on track, with the boy’s knowledge of history proving invaluable, makes this out to be a comedy-flavored spin on the early 80’s sci-fi series Voyagers!.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In "Orphan Substitute", Otto and Tuddrussell have an argument and Tuddrussell decides to get another orphan under the expressed belief that "one orphan genius is as good as another". At the end of the episode, Larry and Tuddrussell take Otto back and leave the last applicant in his place. Upon seeing the new orphan, Sister Thornly just shrugs and says "one orphan genius is as good as another".
  • Squee: Tuddrussell and Larry fawning over JT Laser and the Lance 9 Trillion on "Out With the In Crowd" — and adding more points to Time Squad's Ho Yay Count.
  • Tea Is Classy: In "Tea Time for Time Squad", the team go to 1776 for the Boston Tea Party, where the Colonists are supposed to toss shipments of tea into the harbor to protest unfair taxes. Only they find them having a literal tea party while wearing powdered wigs and acting all sophisticated, not willing to resort to violence. It's only when they switch to drinking coffee that the Colonists turn into Fratbros and begin the American Revolution as intended.
  • That's What She Said: The phrase itself wasn't said on the show, but one line from "Nobel Peace Surprise" might as well as have that phrase tagged at the end of it. When the XJ5 shows off his footprint detector, Larry scoffs, "It's not the size of the equipment. It's how you use it."
    • Tuddrussel makes it into this trope too with his line in "Horse of Horrors". While reading a magazine "Burgers and You", he exclaims; "Man! Will you look at the size of those buns! Mm-mm!"
  • The Theme Park Version: Backfires spectacularly in Forget the Alamo, when the Alamo's defenders enlist Larry to help plan their surrender to the Mexicans by throwing a "Mexican heritage fiesta". Larry, true to form, overindulges on party cliches with a thinly Tex-Mex veneer, and the arriving Mexican Army is so offended by the perceived mockery of their culture that they end up massacring everyone at the Alamo anyway, putting history back on the right track.
  • This Is My Side: Used on the episode "Hate and Let Hate," only Tuddrussell and Larry end up on each other's sides (Tuddrussell is on the side with the kitchen and Larry is on the side where Tuddrussell's gun room/gym is), leading to a Personality Swap.
  • Three Plus Two: When Sheila Sternwell and XJ5 join the party as the Action Girl and the Fifth Ranger in "Nobel Peace Surprise."
  • Three Shorts: Played straight with the seventh episode of season one, which included "If It's Wright, It's Wrong," a fake recruitment ad for the Time Squad, and another short called "Killing Time"; averted with the rest of the series, which only have two shorts.
  • Through His Stomach The beginning of "Ex Marks the Spot," when Larry joyfully makes Tuddrussel's favorite meals with the express purpose of pleasing him.
  • Time Police: The time squad itself. Though they're a bit more like a paramilitary force in practice.
  • Time-Space Continuum Of Ham
  • Time Travel: Practically Once per Episode.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Tuddrussel is almost always asking for one thing of Larry, and that is for him to make just a simple cheeseburger. And Larry himself is fond of making souffles.
  • Trojan Horse: Full of candy, no less.
    • And then a giraffe full of chocolate, and then a soldier full of horses ...
  • True Companions: The Time Squad are a sort of dysfunctional family, with Buck and Larry's spats coming off as being akin to marital bickering. They pretty much adopted Otto from the moment they met him.
  • Unwinnable Training Simulation: The beginning of "Houdini Whodunit" where The Time Squad are tied up and stuck in their flaming satellite with an evil George Washington.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Most of the historical figures they visit take the idea of a Time Police visiting them to make sure they behave according to history with surprising indifference. The main issue tends to lie in getting them to do what they' re supposed to be doing. The only ones who tend to be really shocked or scared of the trios appearance are civilian bystanders.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Despite their complete incompetence at their job before they enlisted the help of a 21st century 8-year old, Tuddrussel and Larry are never fired or even reprimanded. Presumably they make themselves look better in their reports, but you'd think theyd have a supervisor or something who'd notice the wildly inaccurate timeline errors they tend to leave behind, even with Otto to help them.
  • Utopia: While the future Earth that Time Squad comes from is never visited, Tuddrussel describes it in the first episode as being a time where "there's no war, no pollution, and bacon is good for the heart."
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: This is one way to interpret Tuddrussel and Larry's friendship. Any fans who believe that there is actually nothing funny about Tuddrussel and Larry's relationship think of them as another pair of friends with gallons of vitriol filled up in both of them. They both banter like an old-married couple, and Tuddrussel would often berate Larry for his effeminate behavior and would sometimes do cruel things to him and Larry in turn shows disdain towards Tuddrussel for his selfish, childish, and condescending behavior but they both are committed to working together in attempting to fix the timeline and give Otto a better life.
  • Wayback Trip: Lampshaded in a commercial for the show where the characters watch Peabody's Improbable History on a computer screen. The resemblance between Otto and Sherman is pointed out, to which Larry responds, "Ugh, we did not copy their show!"
  • We Will All Be History Buffs in the Future: In-Universe, time itself has become so unstable, that the people of the far future have to worry about being suddenly without important technology to survive life on Earth. So modern society has come to depend on the Time Squad, a time-traveling government agency and police force that recruits primarily history buffs and educates them on how to enforce the past to protect the future.
  • Weirdness Magnet: The guys often have to deal with some pretty bizarre people and situations, from giant fly people to evil My Little Ponies, and having their satellite turned into a resort for robots, it's never a dull day while on the job apparently.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: "Day of the Larrys" had a robot disco — which included a Larry clone suggestively dressed as a cowboy.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Otto, but at the same time he's just a normal kid in abnormal circumstances.
  • Working with the Ex: Occasionally other Time Squad units join in to help the trio. One of these squads consists of Buck Tuddrussel's ex-wife Sheila Sternwell. While Buck is good-natured towards his ex, Sheila seems to hold nothing but enmity for him (then again, he is an idiot).
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The writers had the habit of constantly misplacing years with people from history.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: William Shakespeare speaks in this dialect. His agent, by contrast, sounds like Phil Silvers.


Mona Lisa

We learn why Mona Lisa does not show her teeth.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheUnSmile

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