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It was especially notable among Looney Tunes properties as the main star was not Bugs Bunny, but Daffy Duck, as Captain Duck Dodgers: a Ted Baxter now forced into full-on Genius Ditz mode as the noble defender of the Galactic Protectorate... while still being kind of a Jerkass. All of which led to the unusual situation of the main character filling the role of both The Hero and The Millstone, as nearly half the situations to be resolved were directly Dodgers' fault to begin with.
He is paired with Porky Pig, who reprises his role as the sensible competent and Eager Young Space Cadet. The show also stars returning opponent Marvin the Martian as Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain Commander X-2.
Duck Dodgers also had several cameos by established Looney Tunes stars with appropriate science fiction trappings (Wile E. Coyote played a very obvious Predator Homage in one episode), often using them to lampoon or satirize the very genre they were portraying in classic Looney Tunes style. The episode "The Green Loontern" is notable for featuring the Green Lantern characters from DC Comics after Duck Dodgers accidentally gets Hal Jordan's outfit at the cleaners.
Despite its short shelf life, this show managed to gain a widespread and devoted fanbase, largely for pulling off exactly what more ambitious attempts at modernising the Looney Tunes could not: Convey their distinctive brand of, well, looniness into an entirely different genre.
Provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Implied with X-2 in a couple of episodes, bizarrely. His dad apparently used to dangle him off balconies.
Ozmo: A father is worth one hundred schoolmasters.
- Anti-Hero: Dodgers is a Type I
- Affectionate Parody: Of sci-fi as a whole, and with shout outs to specific franchises.
- The show's name is a parody of the sci-fi character Buck Rogers.
- Attractive Bent Gender: Pork...er, Eager Young Space Cadet, especially in the first episode "Duck Deception".
- Animated Actors: Kind of. The opening credits establish that Daffy, Porky and Marvin are "playing" Dodgers, the Cadet, and the Martian Commander. It gets weirder in the final clip of the show, where Dodgers and Cadet meet their very own real-life voice actors.
- As Himself - Brian Wilson, the members of Megadeth...
- Audience What Audience: In one episode, after X-2 engages in some expositon, the Centurions ask who he's talking to. When X-2 says the audience watching them, the Centurions think he's crazy and mock him.
- Black Skinned Space Babe - Queen Tyr'ahnee.
- The Cadet's disguise in "Duck Deception" (mentioned above) plays this trope straighter by name.
- Axe Crazy: Cadet, under the influence of moognesium in "Pig of Action".
- Baleful Polymorph: "Pig of Action" - The effect of elephantanium.
- Bilingual Bonus: The planet "The Menace Of Maninsuit" takes place on is called "Ipponno", pig latin for "Nippon" (itself Japanese for, well, Japan).
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Lots, including this gem from "Invictus Interruptus":
*Dodgers has just been sat on by EYSC*
- In Marvin's second solo cartoon, Dodgers explained Marvin was entitled to one per season. However, while the series had more than two seasons, Marvin never gained a third solo cartoon. Also, a martian rabbit Marvin was hunting stated he now knew "why Bugs Bunny turned this cameo down".
- Captain Space, Defender of Earth!
- Clip Show: Hilariously averted in 'Deconstructing Dodgers', where incidents from previous episodes are clearly alluded to, but the events shown are actually 'outtakes' from the mentioned episodes... plus a few other scenes with no context whatsoever.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Duck Dodgers. In one episode we get to see inside his mind and he still makes no more sense than before.
- Commedia Dell Arte Troupe
- Courtroom Episode: Duck Dodgers had to stand trial at the very first episode. He surprisingly displayed a considerable knowledge of laws by invoking a treaty to allow him to summon the Queen of Mars to testify and bring video evidence to prove his innocence.
- Crazy Prepared: According to "Talent Show A Go Go", Dodgers carries exploding brownies and cheese danishes in his pockets at all times.
- Crossover: With the Green Lantern.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Dodgers may be the king of this trope, but it only starts there.
- Defictionalization: Duck and Marvin became the mascots of the Mars rovers Opportunity and Spirit, respectively.
- Disguised in Drag: In classic Looney Tunes style, Dodgers does this in an attempt to seduce a few guards. It doesn't work as well as it did in the old shorts, though.
- Enemy Mine: Despite generally hating each other, Dodgers and X-2 sometimes team-up against a common foe.
- Enfant Terrible: Baby-Faced Moonbeam
- Even Evil Has Standards: Drake Duckstar says that Dodgers selling Cadet's sister to the sausage factory is "cold". Even funnier is that, at this point, he and Dodgers are fighting in a Spot the Imposter gag, with Drake acting consistently in-character and mimicking Dodgers' accent and speaking mannerisms (his normal accent is a British one), and when he hears that bit, he breaks character.
- The Faceless: The Martians; much like Marvin himself, the Queen lacks a mouth. Their ranks are composed of robots, however.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Dodgers, to the point that the Martian Queen believes all actions of Dodgers are part of a cunning ploy and has since developed romantic feelings for him based on his reputation.
- To be fair, he does actually have moments of astounding competence at times.
- Fan Service: Queen Tyr'ahnee singing "Blues in the Night" with a nightgown and arm-length gloves, parodying Jessica Rabbit's performance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. The whistling and catcalling from the audience members parody Red Hot Riding Hood.
- In truth, one could apply this trope to the Queen's entire character.
- Femme Fatale: Tyr'ahnee, The Martian Queen.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Even lampshaded in The Mark of Xero.
- Friendly Enemy: Dodgers and Commander X-2 seem to have this relationship at certain times.
- Gender Blender Name: A Drill Sergeant Nasty named Emily Dickinson. In the 24th and 1/2 Century, there's apparently no such thing as gender-specific naming...which doesn't stop Dodgers from laughing hysterically at the guy.
- Genre Savvy: Surprisingly, Dodgers himself has several moments of this. The Space Cadet has this most of the time, though.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "There is nothing I enjoy more than frolicking in an empty room full of plastic balls." Keep in mind the line is spoken by Marvin to an in-drag Porky.
- Grand Finale: The "Of Course You Know This Means War and Peace" two-parter was written to be this. "Bonafide Hero: Duck Dodgers," too, and ultimately was.
- Green Rocks: Seem to be common on the Klunkin homeworld, with the appearance of moognesium (turns the holder into an Axe Crazy musclebound berserker) and elephantanium.
- Hey, It's That Voice! - Michael Dorn is every Centurion. And, in a Casting Gag, all the Klunkins except Sa'am.
- And Q is Sinestro! Sholy hit!
- Not to mention John DiMaggio as Kilowogg, Tara Strong as Katma Tui and Grey DeLisle as Boodika.
- Quentin Tarantino and Bruce Campbell have had guest appearances too (as an old kung-fu master and a super-buff version of E.Y.S. cadet, respectively)
- Mako Iwamatsu is the voice of Dodgers' Happy Cat alarm clock. This was exploited when the clock became the Expy of Aku in "Samurai Quack".
- Dr Maniac is Fonzie!
- And of course, the Expository Theme Tune is sung by Tom Jones.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Cadet.
- If You're So Evil Eat This Kitten: Used literally in "Pig of Action". It was the ceremonial appetizer of the Klunkins.
- Intercontinuity Crossover: One episode involves Dodgers accidentally joining the Green Lantern Corps. It's every bit as awesome as it sounds.
- Jerkass: Dodgers, though he occasionally strays into Jerk with a Heart of Gold territory (not that said heart of gold is particularly large), such as in "The Love of a Father."
- He sometimes even veers into Villain Protagonist. What kind of hero tries to start a war just because "peace is boring"?!
- Legion of Doom: Roboto, angry over Dodger's callous treatment of him, forms "the Legion of Duck Doom" in Til Doom do us Part consisting of several villains from past episodes... and Black Eel, who joined because he thought they were going to help defeat his nemesis Seaman.
- Lord Error-Prone: Dodgers, possibly a trope namer (in the episode MMORPD- Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Duck.)
- Meaningful Name: The Martian Queen Tyr'ahnee. Though, to be fair she's never shown doing anything especially tyrannical, and is actually quite popular with her subjects.
- Mecha-Mooks: Martian Centurions
- Mistaken for Gay: Daffy mishears "loathe" as "love" when Marvin and Commander Z-9 say that about him.
- Mr. Exposition: The Captain in The Mark of Xero.
- Ms. Fanservice: Queen Tyr'ahnee. Ebony skin, silken white hair, a brass bikini top, see-through skirt, and frequent episodes of nightgowns & other fetishistic costumes? Yes, please!
- Only Sane Man: I.Q. High sometimes gives off this vibe. Whereas most of the Protectorate is comically incompetent in some way, he's usually the beacon of reason. The Queen serves this role for the Martians, which is why most decisions and negotiations are made between the two of them, establishing a sort of Friendly Rivalry.
- Post Script Season: The "Of Course You Know This Means War and Peace" was written to wrap up the series if need be (hence, say, Dodgers learning to appreciate the Cadet), but more episodes were ordered.
- The Power of Rock: Dave Mustaine and Megadeth defeat the Martian Force in "In Space No-One Can Hear You Rock" at the rhythm of "Back In The Day", which is every bit as awesome as it sounds.
- Hell,even the Centurions looked ready to throw up some horns if they could actually do so.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: Now I remember...
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: K'Chutha Sa'am (Yosemite Sam as a cameo) and the Klunkins (very transparent homage to the Klingons).
Motto: "No surrender, no prisoners, no kiddin'."
- Public Domain Character: Long John Silver XXIII (a fact actually Lampshaded in the episode).
- Puffer Fish: in the episode "Samurai Quack", Dodgers eats a unprepared blow fish, which results in a Mushroom Samba.
- Raised by Wolves: Averted in the episode "In Space, No One Can Hear You Rock", where Dave Mustaine denies being raised by wolverines.
- Raw Eggs Make You Stronger: In one flashback, Marvin tries to invoke this trope, but finds out that Dodgers loves raw eggs and that the way he drinks it is too disgusting for poor Martian eyes.
- RPG Episode: MMORPD.
- Rubber Forehead Aliens: Used hilariously often given that the animated medium makes this trope completely unnecessary. The best example of which is in the depictions of Martian wildlife, which is basically Earth wildlife with a green tint and some goofy antennae... sometimes an extra arm or two.
- "Goofy" is the word: apart from Agent K-9, who's a holdover from the original Marvin/Bugs cartoons, the most prominent examples are Martian gophers. Who are, of course, just the Goofy Gophers with the above alterations.
- Screwed by the Network: The last episodes of Season 3 didn't even air on Cartoon Network, as the series was abruptly pulled.
- Shout-Out: The second-to-last scene of "The Fowl Friend" is nearly a word-for-word copy of the second-to-last scene of The Iron Giant. It's then repeated in a later episode just to rub it in.
- Porky's nephews and niece in "Pig Planet" are Expys of Yakko, Wakko and Dot. They're also voiced by the same actors!
- In the MMORPG episode, Daffy transforms into Beaky Buzzard, Axle Gator, and Muttley.
- The skins of some classic Hanna-Barbera characters are among Wile E. Coyote's trophies. Also a Take That.
- And we can't forget: "Samurai Quack"
- Including the main villain being a near-perfect expy of Aku, down to the same voice actor, the now-late Iwamatsu Mako.
- Samurai Jack creator, Genndy Tartakovsky, also provided a short cameo for that episode.
- In the episode Green Loontern, itself a shout out, a shot of the captured members of Green Lantern Corps has a brief cameo of what appears to be Mortal Kombat's Raiden (which becomes hilarity in hindsight after Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe).
- There's also The Fudd.
- The only Martian commander shares a voice actor with Zapp Brannigan.
- In Trial of Duck Dodgers, Dodgers attacks a Martian ship and "has only one pass at this." The Cadet tells him "T-t-trust your feelings, Captain." - Dodgers: "Nah, I'm pretty sure I'm gonna use this expensive targeting computer."
- One episode has a space prison called "Wantannaguannamo Bay".
- The end of one episode has a spurned Martian Queen shooting up mechanical dummies that look like Duck Dodgers, and drops the line: "So they're mechanical!" (with a connotation of "So what?") This is a reference to the end of the Bugs Bunny episode "Hair Raising Hare", where Bugs says this about a mechanical female rabbit.
- The episode "The Mark of Xero" is a shout out to both Zorro and Daffy's previous role as The Scarlet Pumpernickel.
- The intro began with the famous Looney Tunes rings.
- In Til Doom do us Part the introduction of the Legion of Duck Doom is an exact copy of the opening credits to Challenge Of The Superfriends.
- Space Sailing
- Spot the Imposter: Parodied when it comes up.
- Space Pirates: Long John Silver XXIII
- Stalker with a Crush: A female cadet who "replaces" the real cadet and has a rather unhealthy obsession with Dodgers himself.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Lampshaded at the end of the episode "Duck Departure":
Cadet: I was hoping to invite you back to the Protectorate. It hasn't been the same without you.
- Talking to Himself: Dodgers and X-2 are voiced by the same person.
- Taught by Television: Perhaps the only reason Dodgers knows anything at all.
- Tear Jerker: The ending to "The Love of a Father."
- Theme Tune: It's hard to argue with the collision of Looney Tunes and Tom Jones.
- Throwing Your Gun Always Works
- Twist Ending: In Where's Baby Smartypants, Dodgers was on a mission to protect and deliver Baby Ozmo because it was believed he would give a powerful peace speech at the council. It turns out he was actually pro-war.
- Villainesses Want Heroes: Tyr'ahnee, the Martian Queen to Duck Dogers
- Visual Pun: In the theme song, the line, "Duck Dodgers, he's fighting tyranny," is timed with an image of the Martian Queen. Her name? Tyr'ahnee.
- We Can Rule Together
Sinestro: There may even be a place for someone like you in my new reality. Join forces with me...or be obliterated.
- White-Haired Pretty Girl: Tyr'ahnee again.
- Whole-Plot Reference: Season 1's K-9 Kaddy, in which Marvin the Martian plays golf while K-9 is terrorized by Gophers is a pretty direct riff on the Mickey Mouse cartoon "Canine Caddy", where Mickey plays golf as Pluto is terrorized by gophers.
- Writing Around Trademarks: Steve Boston