Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Tuca & Bertie

Go To
A relatable show for modern women, even if they aren't bird-people.

Tuca & Bertie is an American adult animated comedy series created by Lisa Hanawalt, the production designer and supervising producer for BoJack Horseman, and executive produced by Noel Bright, Steven A. Cohen, Tiffany Haddish and BoJack creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg. The Tornante Company and ShadowMachine, who also worked on BoJack, produced the animation.

The show follows the friendship between Tuca (Haddish), a cocky, care-free toucan, and Bertie (Ali Wong), an anxious, daydreaming songbird, two thirtysomething bird women who live in the same apartment building. As their lives begin to grow in different directions, they learn about the struggles and sacrifices that come with becoming an adult while holding onto old relationships.

Often described as BoJack's more upbeat, peppy, colorful, and less dysfunctional sibling, tackling some of the same topics like mental health and sexism but with a lighter touch thanks to its zanier humor, off-the-wall cartoon animation and preference for happy endings. It's also been called the Spiritual Successor to Rocko's Modern Life.


The show's first season premiered on Netflix on May 3rd, 2019, with ten episodes. Two months later, Netflix announced its cancellation. A year later, [adult swim] announced on its Twitter that it would be producing a second season, scheduled to arrive in 2021. It is the second series to make the jump from a streaming network to linear television, following One Day at a Time (cancelled by Netflix earlier the same year), and the first animated series to do so.

Watch the trailer here.


Tropes Associated With Tuca & Bertie:

  • Actor IS the Title Character: The poster for the series, as seen on this page, states that Tiffany Haddish is Tuca and that Ali Wong is Bertie.
  • Actor Allusion: SungWon Cho voicing a computer in love with a lamp would sound familiar to viewers who also watch his one-man harem spoof Chairem Anime, in which at least one of his characters has a mutual crush on a talking lamp (also voiced by SungWon). Both series even have SungWon make a pun about light.
  • Advertising by Association: The trailer states that this show is "from the team that brought you BoJack Horseman".
  • Adult Fear: A Central Theme of the show is the ups and downs of "adulting" as a thirty-something, especially for women. Not only does it touch on uglier problems like sexual harassment and financial stability, but also more banal ones like long-term commitment, abandonment issues and putting your life back together after making a lot of mistakes in your youth.
  • Aerith and Bob: While not quite to the extent of BoJack, normal names like Dirk coexist with more pet-like names like Speckle.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Bertie's phone has her own personality, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Art Shift: Usually used for flashbacks and similar imagine spots.
    • A flashback in "The Sex Bugs" is done using sock puppets.
    • "Plumage" uses yarn-like animation to illustrate Tuca's family history.
    • "Yeast Week" changes the style to similarly scratchy black-and-white charcoal slideshows during two brief flashbacks: young Tuca and her aunt waiting in the emergency room after her mother's fatal accident, and Bertie watching Tuca be taken away in an ambulance after drinking too much.
    • In "The New Bird," Tuca has a vision conveyed in claymation.
    • Bertie's younger self in "The Jelly Lakes" is represented in a paper cut-out style, based off Coach Maple's wife's cracked egg art.
  • Author Appeal: In her New York Times article, "Pride and Pestilence," Lisa Hanawalt revealed that she, like Bertie, is obsessively aroused by chaste romantic movies.
  • Author Avatar: Lisa Hanwalt, like Bertie, deals with anxiety, has experienced sexual misconduct, and gets turned on by chaste romantic movies.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The world of the show has some... strangely built buildings, in comparison to the real world.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: While the show maintains its wacky animation style and still has a sense of humor, after "Plumage" reveals Tuca's Dark and Troubled Past, the show takes a deeper look at the characters' struggle with independence, anxiety, and adult responsibility, and how it affects their relationships.
  • Christmas Episode: The final episode is a Molting Day episode that takes place in the winter (which is interesting for a show released in May).
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Both the main characters are thirty-something adults still trying to navigate the ins and outs of the responsibilities that come with adulthood.
  • Costume-Test Montage: Played with in one episode. Tuca is trying to figure out what to wear for her date, but she becomes self-conscious when her mirror starts insulting her body.
  • Couch Gag: The first dance that Tuca and Bertie does in the opening title sequence changes from episode to episode. This is particularly noticeable in the gag for "The New Bird", where Tuca and Bertie's dancing is much more subdued, with the two glaring at each other angrily, reflecting the fight they had in the previous episode.
  • Country Matters: Per the unfortunate names of Pastry Pete's two signature creations, the crunt (a cruller crossed with a bundt cake) and the wildly different crünt (a bundt cake and a croissant).
  • Denser and Wackier: When compared to BoJack, this series is far more animated and contains zanier scenarios. It also features a greater variety of anthropomorphic creatures, including plants and inanimate objects, with humans being much rarer. There is also much more casual use of nudity and swearing, especially the word 'fuck', whereas the latter only uses it once per season.
  • Deranged Animation: While largely following the same animation style as BoJack, the show also includes a greater amount of custom poses, smears and wild expressions, as well as generally more fluid character animation, making BoJack look like nothing but still drawings by comparison. Even the dramatic moments are heavily exaggerated for effect.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Speckle is ashamed of the incredibly unkinky porn video he shows Bertie because it stars a bluebird.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Tuca is sneaky enough to take a video of Pastry Pete threatening Bertie when she confronts him about stonewalling her in "SweetBeak." After she puts it up on social media, Pete's business is destroyed.
  • Food Porn: The baking scenes are usually detailed and delectable looking.
  • Foreshadowing: Both Tuca and Bertie's dark and troubled pasts are hinted at throughout the series before they're revealed.
    • When her boss asks if she went to the beach over the weekend, Bertie says she didn't because she's afraid that a giant crab might have tried grab her butt. As it turns out, she has a history of being afraid of swimming due to having her butt grabbed and giant crabs.
    • At one point, Bertie gets Speckle to spank her and call her a bad girl to spice up their sex life, but she ends up crying in the middle of that play. At another point, when Pastry Pete is inappropriate to her, she jerks off to it. These are hints to some psycho-sexual trouble and her Rape As A Backstory plot revealed near the end of season one.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Onscreen publications, posters, etc. often have amusing text. For example, when Tuca is watching car crash videos in episode 2, one of the suggested videos is titled "I want to kiss a car."
  • Furry Confusion: There are feral animals (i.e. actual lions and jaguars) included in this anthro animal world.
    • Tuca's Aunt Tallulah has non-anthropomorphic birds in her enclosed garden. Additionally, her butler is an anthropomorphic borzoi (who barks excitedly when her guests arrive) while she has numerous pet Maltese dogs.
  • Furry Reminder:
    • Characters, more often the bombastic ones, make animal noises when upset or excited.
    • Tuca's ovaries makes shelled eggs. She becomes egg bound, which is a real condition, and after it's surgically removed she's capable of frying it up.
  • Gainaxing: Done with bare breasts on a building in the first shot of the opening sequence, which really sets the tone for the series.
  • Grocery Store Episode: "The Sex Bugs".
  • Growing Up Sucks: Explored in the sense that Tuca and Bertie are navigating the hurdles that come with being in their 30's, but we see that they had plenty in childhood and college. A subtle theme of the show is that "growing up" never really ends.
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: Bertie asks to see Speckle's favorite porno movie in the hopes of finding out his deepest, darkest desires so she can spice up their sex life. Turns out it's about a loving couple who move in together and have extremely unkinky and respectful sex with each other. The only reason he feels guilty about being turned on by it is because the woman in it is a bluebird. The two of them end up watching the rest of the video like a regular movie, even commenting that the woman is a good actress.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Pat, Coach Maple's wife, looks like her actress, Isabella Rossellini.
  • Ikea Erotica: How Bertie describes her formulaic sex life with Speckle, complete with an Art Shift illustrating her descriptions like an IKEA instruction manual.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Pastry Pete's immoral behavior eventually catches up with him when Tuca posts a video of him abusing Bertie, resulting in his bakery getting boycotted. And then he gets shit on by a giant hawk.
    • All the drinking Tuca's emotionally abusive aunt does finally catches up to her in the Season 1 finale, where it's revealed that she's now in the hospital for cirrhosis.
  • Lighter and Softer: While still not afraid to delve into serious topics, Tuca & Bertie is considerably far more idealistic and cartoony when compared to BoJack.
  • Literal-Minded: While trying to spice up their sex life, Speckle starts spanking Bertie and calling her "a bad bird who needs to be punished." Bertie takes it too literally and starts crying.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: The series is mostly populated by Funny Animals (and Funny Plants, and Funny Inanimate Objects. . .), but humans occasionally pop up (Lisa Hanawalt has admitted that Furries Are Easier to Draw for her).
  • A Lizard Named "Liz":
    • Tuca is a toucan.
    • Could also double as Punny Name, Bertie is a birdie.
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: A Running Gag of "Mean Mirrors," an actual brand of mirrors that throw a person's deepest insecurities back at them.
  • Mooning:
    • In the episode "The Sugar Bowl", Speckle moons Bertie while talking about how great it is to be able to walk around with his butt out. Bertie wonders aloud why everyone she lives with likes going pantsless.
    • An example done by proxy happens in "The Deli Guy", where Speckle and Bertie are making love and Speckle decides to press Bertie's bare ass against the window so that everyone in the city can see it.
  • Name and Name: Tuca & Bertie.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Dakota is a tongue-in-cheek version of this kind of character, a young woman in her early twenties from the midwest going to the big city for the first time and eager to start a glamorous career in baking. She drops the naïveté and becomes completely assertive the second Pastry Pete tries to make a move on her.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Not only do the birds and Plant People have human-like breasts, but are shown to have nipples when topless too.
  • Non-Mammalian Hair: Averted. Owing to Hanawalt's drawing style and the characters' real-world counterparts, neither Tuca nor Bertie have hair. On the other hand, "Sex Bugs" pretty much confirms that Tuca has pubic hair. It goes with the sexual freedom tone of the show.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Played with. A big reason Bertie can't get Dirk in trouble for sexual misconduct is that the HR woman at her office finds him attractive, making it harder for Bertie or any of the other women she works with to convince her to do something about it. However, when she's manhandled by Pastry Pete, the guy she actually has a crush on, she has to excuse herself to masturbate, and it doesn't hit her just how wrong it is until she sees it happening to Dakota, who absolutely sees it as sexual harassment when it happens to her and is furious that Bertie didn't warn her. Bertie later admits to Tuca that a camp lifeguard took advantage of her when she was twelve, which led to psychosexual habits and made it harder for her to recognize red flags. Even when confronting Pastry Pete about his misconduct and stonewalling, Tuca needs to push Bertie to see him as the bad guy.
  • Not So Different: Both Pastry Pete and Dirk are arrogant jerkasses who get into Bertie's personal space and talk over her. The difference is that Pete is a suave, accomplished chef whom Bertie admires while Dirk is a loudmouthed loser peer whom she finds irritating. However, while both men sexually harass her, it's ironically the one whom Bertie likes who actually puts his hands on her without asking while Dirk's offensive comment was actually a failed compliment and while a couple of her co-workers claim that he groped them, there's no indication that he would ever genuinely flirt with Bertie, let alone put his hands on her.
  • Ocular Gushers: Used frequently, varying between waterfalls from the eyes to giant, golfball-sized gobs of tears. "The Jelly Lakes" includes a gag where Tuca and Bertie have a post-make-up cry, which floods their entire car with tears.
  • Organ Autonomy: After Dirk hits on her in "The Promotion," Bertie's breast literally leaps off her body and spends the next 24 hours getting drunk.
  • Partially Civilized Animal: Tuca's pet jaguar is as wild as can be expected of such an animal but, after being taken in by Draca, is seen reading with glasses. She never speaks, though.
  • Plant Person: There is an anthropomorphic Dracaena named Draca. Other anthropomorphic plants appear as background characters.
  • Precision F-Strike: Though not to the extent of BoJack, which famously uses exactly one f-bomb per season for 110% drama, the show tends to reserve its use of "fuck" for when it can have the most comedic effect.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: While the show certainly knows when to slow down for drama, it's generally gag after gag after gag. And even the dramatic scenes have some business that, while played for drama, are still meant to be jokes.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • One episode has Bertie pining to get a higher position in her office, but she has to overcome workplace sexism and her own shyness. She finally prevails in the end... only to find out that the higher position leaves her very busy and keeps her in her office, away from everyone else.
    • In that same episode, Bertie hosts a mandatory presentation on sexual harassment at her job under the assumption that all of the women Dirk has hit on will come forward about his inappropriate behavior and he'll be guilt-stricken enough to confess all of his crimes then and there. Not only does Dirk have no remorse for anything he's done, but none of her female co-workers feel any obligation to speak up until Bertie tells them they can.
    • Another episode has Tuca using the boba from a bubble tea as bullet seeds which, from her perspective, shoot out like regular bullets. Cut to reality, where they all land less than a foot away from her.
    • Bertie goes on an impromptu, days-long road trip in the middle of the night to deal with some complicated emotions, ends up facing a childhood fear and rekindling her friendship with both Tuca and a former camp councilor, then returns home feeling invigorated and confident... to her boyfriend, who's sick of having to shoulder the burden of every emotional hangup his girlfriend has and doesn't automatically stop being mad when he sees her again. It's what makes Bertie realize that she has to deal with her emotional problems in a way that doesn't hurt her loved ones in the process.
    • Acknowledged when Speckle and Bertie have make-up sex in "SweetBeak." Speckle tells Bertie that their relationship isn't automatically "fixed" with make-up sex and that he needs some time, letting her know that she's still going to have to work on her personal issues from here on out.
    • Earlier, Bertie has to choose between attending an extremely exclusive dinner with Pastry Pete and the rest of the baking world elite or rushing home to Tuca, who's in the hospital having emergency surgery. She chooses the latter, but she's not happy about it in the slightest, and the realization that Tuca lives in a chaotic, disgusting mess of an apartment is the last straw that tips them over into a vicious argument.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: The animal cast is made up largely of birds and consist of everything from common chickens and penguins to cassowaries and red crested turacos. Bertie is a song thrush and Speckle is a European robin.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The porno that Bertie and Speckle watch in "The Deli Guy" is titled Two Birds, One Nest, a reference to the notorious porn video Two Girls, One Cup.
    • The Donut Dive in "Yeast Week" ends in hot oil being splashed over some of the audience members, scalding their heads into fried foods just like Patrick did from SpongeBob SquarePants does in "The Fry Cook Games".
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Far on the idealistic side. While not without its more cynical or dramatically-grounded moment, this is a show where The Power of Friendship and The Power of Love prevail more often than not and hope exists to amend personal shortcomings.
  • Species Surname: Bertie's full name is Roberta Songthrush.
  • Surreal Humor: For starters, even inanimate objects are anthropomorphized and/or have distinct personalities.
  • The Stinger: Each episode features one, usually a Brick Joke related to a minor character from earlier.
  • Straw Feminist: Downplayed with Women Taking Up Space, the feminist group Bertie joins, who are disjointed and unfocused, but not irrational. Their leader is well-intentioned, but doesn't teach other women about standing up to misogyny so much as drill them on unwritten laws of feminism which she expects them to already know (not giving into peer pressure, not saying sorry, etc.). The other members, who are either too assertive or not assertive enough, don't make much progress this way. They end up forming an angry mob outside of Pastry Pete's bakery after the discover that he harassed Bertie, showing that they can be effective when dealing on a specific, immediate issue.
  • Stupid Statement Dance Mix:
    • The theme song, which is Tuca and Bertie saying each other's names over and over to a beat.
    • The musical score in the first episode while Tuca and Bertie are chasing after a turtle uses samples of Tuca saying "Dirty turtle" and Bertie saying "Go!"
    • In-Universe, when Pastry Pete's Engineered Public Confession goes viral, one person turns it into a remix.
  • Trash of the Titans: Tuca's apartment is a filthy mess of discarded food containers, furniture and decorations she's dug out of the garbage and various other bits of junk she refuses to throw out. The season 1 finale sees her taking the first step to maturity by cleaning her place up.
  • Unusual Pets for Unusual People:
    • In one episode, Tuca gets a pet jaguar.
    • Draca is shown to have many, many pet turtles. Then she takes in Tuca's jaguar.
  • Visual Pun: When Bertie goes to confront the biker, Tuca tells her to watch out in case they have a Butterfly Knife ("The most dangerous, yet adorable type of knife!"). In a later scene, the same biker is seen carrying a shopping bag with a picture of an actual butterfly knife... With butterfly wings.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: After taking a look at the bulge in Tuca's side in "Yeast Week," Speckle gleefully excuses himself and goes into the hallway to retch.
  • Widget Series: Significantly Denser and Wackier than BoJack, as mentioned above, and evidently so.
  • Women Are Wiser: Averted. While plenty of male characters are depicted as being chauvinistic and none-too-bright, female characters are just as accident-prone and arrogant, including the two main characters. One of the running themes of the show is how toxic masculinity often go unpunished not only because of patriarchal societal values or other men who don't want to take responsibility for it but also women who don't recognize it for harassment when it happens or, when they do, aren't sure exactly how to defend themselves from it, if they don't enjoy it enough to permit it. Even active feminists, while fundamentally well-intentioned, are shown to be somewhat unfocused.
  • Written Sound Effect: Pops up all over the place.
  • Wunza Plot: One is a quiet songbird who may be too passive for her own good (and her ambitions). The other is a lively toucan whose histrionic public displays should have gotten her in trouble many years ago. Probably one of the first examples to be animated and to deal with this in a mundane fashion and a surreal setting.
  • You Mean "Xmas": Christmas is replaced with Molting Day, about a bird named St. Oriole who refused to migrate with his family, died, and became a ghost who distributes sweets to remind people to love each other. Other than that, it functions almost identically to Christmas: children sing songs like "Silent Night" with slightly tweaked lyrics, Santa Claus can be seen on a poster, and one woman is implied to not celebrate it because she is Jewish.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Tuca believes this of Bertie in "The Deli Guy." Bertie assures her that she's getting laid, just that her sex life is too formulaic.
    Tuca: Girl, you horny as shit! Speckle not puttin' out?
    Bertie: No, Speckle's puttin' in! Every Tuesday and Thursday, at 7:45 PM.
  • Zany Cartoon: Oh yes! While BoJack Horseman is a dramedy that happens to be animated, this show is a cartoon! Characters bounce around and move quite fluidly, inanimate objects come to life, and the world generally has many colorful quirky details, like the train being a giant snake.


Tuca & Bertie

"I'm Losing My Shit".

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / DisneyAcidSequence

Media sources:

Main / DisneyAcidSequence