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The series takes place in The Middle Ages and centers on a powerful yet cowardly barbarian named Dave who lives in the fictitious land of Udrogoth along with his older sister Candy and younger sister Fang. His parents, Throktar and Glimia, are the King and Queen, but are away "fighting evil" across the world (though they sometimes communicate via a magic crystal ball), and have left Candy in charge of the kingdom. Together the three siblings, along with their wizard uncle Oswidge, their pet Faffy and Dave's talking sword Lula, are left to run and protect the kingdom.
There is a Narrator, referred to either as "the Narrator" or "the Storyteller," voiced by Jeff Bennett. He plays a big part in the show, as he controls what happens in the story. He is able to talk to the characters of the show, and vice versa. In fact, he was once captured by Arch Enemy THE DARK LORD CHUCKLES, THE SILLY PIGGY!, and was forced to read narration where Dave loses to him.
The show was created and written by Doug Langdale of Earthworm Jim and The Weekenders fame. It premiered on Disney Channel on January 23, 2004; a year later, it began broadcasting on Toon Disney as well. In Latin America, the show is broadcast on Jetix. Sadly however, the show only lasted one season due to Disney punting the show around their schedule. The reruns now mostly show on Early Morning shifts on the weekend.
Much like its predecessors The Flintstones and the short-lived The Roman Holidays, Dave the Barbarian juxtaposes the ancient and the modern. Candy, for example, shops in the local mall (the "Great Indoor Marketplace of Udragoth") and uses the crystal ball for online shopping sprees. Occasionally, the series even breaks the fourth wall with a character directly addressing the audience.
Dave the Barbarian contains examples of:
- Action Girl: Candy; sometimes parodied, sometimes played straight. Fang wants to be one, but can't quite manage.
- All Cavemen Were Neanderthals
- Amazonian Beauty: Bicepia. After seeing Bicepia, Candy uses Magic Broccoli to become buffer...but keeps using it and quickly goes from Amazonian Beauty to a unholy combination of Gonk, Dumb Muscle and Brawn Hilda (don't worry, there is a Reset Button).
- Ambiguously Jewish: Ned Frischman.
- Amusing Injuries: Dave in particular is prone to getting burned into a pile of ash.
- Anachronism Stew
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Parodied.
- Animated Series
- Anti-Hero: Dave is a type I, Fang is a type IV.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Parodied with respect to superhero origin stories.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: A central part of the show's humor.
- Bamboo Technology
- Barbarian Hero: Spoofed
- Battle Couple: King Throktar and Queen Glimia
- Berserk Button: Fang is NOT A MONKEY!
- Big Bad: THE DARK LORD CHUCKLES, THE SILLY PIGGY!
- Big No: Parodied.
- Camp Straight: Dave.
- Casting Gag: The casting of Joan and Melissa Rivers.
- Catch Phrase: "Bajabbers!", "Don't mess with the Princess!", "I am not a monkey!"
- Clothes Make the Maniac: The evil lederhosen
- Cool Horse: Spoofed in Twinkle the Marvel Horse.
- Couch Gag: The collapsing castle wall in the opening credits.
- Cowardly Lion: Dave
- Crazy Prepared: Ned spent hours practicing his evil laugh before he became a villain
- Cute but Cacophonic: Fang's default voice is a yell.
- Dating Catwoman: Dave and Princess Irmaplotz
- Dark Secret: In one episode, when Dave was snooping around to see who stole his Cooking Book, he sees Oswidge watching a soap opera, Candy shaving her pits, Fang secretly playing with dolls, and Faffy playing poker with some other dragons, talking about how the 'Big Palooka' hasn't discovered yet. Dave doesn't even realize he's the Big Palooka being referred to...
- Does Not Like Shoes: Fang
- Deadpan Snarker: Lula
- Did You Get a New Haircut?: Happens when Oswidge accidentally turns himself into a newt.
Candy: Did you change your hair?
- The Eeyore: Twinkle the Marvel Horse
- Empathic Weapon: Subverted, Lula has very little empathy
- Epic Fail: Chuckles' first use of the Pretzel Men. Not even Dave is scared by them.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Candy is a parody of this trope. Strangely this is never brought up with Fang.
- Princess Irmaplotz.
- Evil Knockoff: Mecha-Dave
- Evil Laugh: Several.
- Malsquando once mentions that Chuckles is widely considered to have the best in the business.
- Evil Sorcerer: Malsquando, Princess Irmoplotz and Queen Zonthara
- Expository Theme Tune: Quoted above
- Extreme Omnivore: Faffy
- Fake-Out Opening: In one episode, we see what appears to be the King returning home, but after we see How We Got Here we know it's really Chuckles in disguise, and now "the King" suddenly has green glowing eyes and sounds like Chuckles.
- Fangs Are Evil: Princess Irmoplotz and Queen Zonthara. But not Fang. Except in that one episode where she was posessed by the forces of Pure Evil In The Form Of Leiderhosen.
- Fiery Redhead: Fang and, sometimes, Candy.
- F Minus Minus: Dave seems to think that a "Z" grade is worse than an "F"
- Fluffy the Terrible: The Dark Lord Chuckles the Silly Piggy, sort of. He is a cute little piggy but is also a powerful dark lord of evil.
- There was also one episode in which he turned into a giant kitty cat!
- Gender Blender Name: The Pillage Master has a very intimidating, "dark and shadowed guardian" voice. And yet...
Pillage Master: You may call me...Gloria.
- Gentle Giant: Who do you think?
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: A Roman salute is made by one of the characters while proclaiming himself to be a dictator.
- It's time to cut a muffin!
- "That sounds nasty for some reason."
- "First you shall lay waste here...then you shall lay waste there. Then, when you can lay NO MORE WASTE--"
- It's time to cut a muffin!
- Giving Radio to the Romans: Ned Frischman does this when he brings GameGuys to Udrogoth.
- Golden Snitch: The penmanship portion of the Rite of Pillage counts for 75% of the total mark - a result of a pen company being the major sponsor.
- Green Eyed Red Head: Fang.
- God of Evil: Parodied with Quosmir, the god of freshly laundered trousers and overused punctuation.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Lula.
"You just sitting there is kinda ticking me off."
- Heroic Fantasy: Relentlessly spoofed
- High Collar of Doom: Fang deduces that Malsquando is evil because he has a "pointy collar", among other things.
- Hostile Show Takeover: Chuckles, in "A Pig's Story"
- Hot Mom: Queen Glimia and Queen Zonthara.
- Humor Dissonance: Used in-story by Ned Frischman. The people of the past has never heard his incredibly lame futuristic "why did the chicken cross the road"-class jokes and therefore considers him to be the funniest man in existence.
- I Always Wanted to Say That: Ned Frischman and his Evil Laugh.
- I Am Not Weasel: Fang is continually mistaken for a monkey.
- Idea Candles
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: The title character. This is what makes him an ideal hero, not because he's a hero stereotype but because of how good he is. Fang, not so much...she's actually the real barbarian of the show, not Dave himself.
- Inept Mage: Uncle Oswidge, to the max.
- Insistent Terminology: "Not a monkey!"
- Killer Rabbit: The Dark Lord Chuckles the Silly Piggy.
- Jungle Princess: Fang certainly dresses like one.
- Large Ham: Chuckles (literally, and figuratively; extra humorous because he's tiny), the Narrator, among several others.
- Late to The Punchline: The Pillage Master.
"Laying waste--I get it! Ha ha ha ha!"
- Laughably Evil: All villains, especially Chuckles the Silly Piggy.
- Little Miss Snarker: Fang
- Limited Wardrobe
- Lemony Narrator
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Fang and Dave.
- Medium Awareness
- Metronomic Man-Mashing: Amoeba wrestling.
- Mistaken for Granite: A version that doesn't activate unless you touch it.
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: When Fang attempts to speak monkey while on an island of monkeys who look like her:
:Fang:"Which point me you to water in pants?"
- Night of the Living Mooks: Referenced.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Twinkle the Marvel Horse is a parody of Christopher Walken
- No Fourth Wall: The characters interact with the narrator, occasionally pausing to check their scripts, etc.
- "The inside of this television set is filthy!"
- Chuckles even captured the Narrator at one point and forced him to read his own story, making him the new Narrator, so to speak. Whatever the Narrator said would become real. They held auditions for a new Narrator.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Faffy and Twinkle the Marvel Horse
- Noodle Implements
- Hilariously inverted in Girlfriend.
Narrator: Thinking quickly, Dave constructs a homemade megaphone using only a squirrel, some string and a megaphone.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Parodied in "The Maddening Sprite of the Stump". A giant muffin that had been attacking the castle is defeated offscreen, while the narrator explains that the show's budget is too cheap to actually show the battle, but assures the audience that it was exciting.
- Opening Shout-Out: When Chuckles takes over
- Our Dragons Are Different
- There are plenty of standard issue dragons roaming around as well; Faffy (who is routinely mistaken for a flying potato) seems to have simply lost the genetic lottery, hard.
- Our Werebeasts Are Different: Irmaplotz uses a werecow "to make Dave look like a dork." Afterwards, anytime Dave gets bitten by something else, he turns into that. This leads to Dave turning into a cat, Oswidge, a hamster, an egg beater, Lula and a gym teacher.
- Resolved when he is made to bite his own tongue, turning Dave into a Weredave, and everyone he bites into a weredave.
- Overly Long Gag: |NOT. A.MONKEY!!!
- Paper-Thin Disguise: The Dark Lord Chuckles the Silly Music Producer.
Candy: He does look vaguely familiar.
- Paper Tiger: Dave. As the Theme Song states, he's "huge but a wimp."
- Parental Abandonment: King Throktar and Queen Glimia, as noted in the summary
- Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Played straight with Candy, but averted with Dave in Civilization when Dave asks if Fang realises he's not a girl--while wearing blue.
- Poke the Poodle: Dave's attempts to be just a little evil in one episode (an attempt to make his relationship with Princess Irmoplotz work) really, really emphasize little. We're talking taking two free nut log samples instead of just one...then feeling so guilty he bought ten crates.
- "Previously On...": Parodied in one episode that opens with a montage of Dave screaming and enduring misfortune.
- Princesses Rule: Princess Candy is ruling Udrogoth until her parents come back from destroying all the evil in the world.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Evil Princess Irmaplotz to Dave.
- Purely Aesthetic Era
- Pygmalion Plot: Non-romantic version, in the episode where the family tried to make Fang act more ladylike.
Dave: (completely sincere) Because what could be more wholesome than the entire family working together as one ... to crush Fang's spirit and force her to stifle her true self?
- Rage Against the Author: Chuckles capturing the narrator
- Real Life Relative: Princess Irmoplotz and Queen Zonthara are voiced by Melissa Rivers and Joan Rivers, respectively.
- Sapient Steed: Twinkle the Marvel Horse
- Screwed by the Network: The show was one of Disney's most popular cartoons at the time, and had great ratings, and critics loved it. And yet without explanation they ... well, they didn't quite cancel it, but simply not make any new episodes and dropped all mention of the show off of their website. Six years later and apparently they still haven't announced whether they have officially cancelled it or not.
- Shout-Out: Fang seems to be a feral version of Pebbles
- Someday This Will Come in Handy: the Trope Namer
- Space Whale Aesop: Deliberately.
- Space X: Mocked mercilessly for two solid minutes in "A Pig's Story".
The space lord pursues our heroically fleeing space heroes, and thus begins a pitched space battle, in space! Just look at that exciting space action!
- Spikes of Villainy: Subverted and spoofed.
- Spoiled Brat: Princess Candy.
- Super-Hero Origin: Spoofed in the creation of the Time Zipper, with everything from a strike from the Nordic Gods to a radioactive grasshopper bit in about 10 seconds
Ned Frischman: Wow, that hardly ever happens!
- Talking Animal: Twinkle the Marvel Horse; in one throwaway gag, Faffy is seen talking articulately to other dragons when he thinks no human is listening
- Voiced by Frank Welker. Because that really comes as such a surprise.
- Team Pet: spoofed with Faffy
- There Are No Therapists: Inverted in "Shrink Rap." Dave becomes a therapist to help people, but all he does is ask "How does that make you feel?" and generally irritates everyone.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Fang and Candy.
- Top-Heavy Guy: Dave.
- The Unintelligible: Faffy.
- Villain Team-Up: In "Red Sweater Of Courage," Chuckles, Malsquando and Quosmir team-up after Dave harasses each of them without provocation.
- We Could Have Avoided This Whole Plot: Several times.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: Sort of.
Candy: Happy? They're going to destroy half a continent!
- What the Heck Is An Aglet?: Dave and his friends and family are being held against the wall by magic. "Dave, do something!" "I am... I'm trying to remember what the thing on the end of a shoelace is called, an argle?" When they are let go, but still against the wall, he suddenly remembers something. "That the the on the end of a shoelace is called an aglet?" "No, that gravity makes things fall."
- Woman Scorned: Referenced.
- You Are a Tree Charlie Brown: Dave ends up casting almost everyone as a tree in the Udrogoth pageant.
- Because he's futilely trying to cast everyone in the Udrogoth pageant.
- You Didn't Ask: Used to an extent. After a battle with invisible warriors (which to fight the heroes had to become invisible), Uncle Oswidge makes everyone visible, including the enemy, causing Dave to say:
Dave: If you can make them visible, why didn't you do that before?!
- You Mean "Xmas": Harvest Day, complete with its own version of Santa Claus, the Harvest Hog.