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 Yes, evil comes in many forms, whether it be a man-eating cow or Joseph Stalin, but you can't let the package hide the pudding! Evil is just plain bad! You don't cotton to it. You gotta smack it in the nose with the rolled-up newspaper of goodness! Bad dog! Bad dog!


1994 Animated Series, a casual but incisive send-up of Superhero shows (based on an independent comic by Ben Edlund written in the early 90s), featuring as its title character a super-strong, "Nigh Invulnerable" (or so he says), and probably insane moron with a hypertrophied sense of justice and Melodrama, given to bold, thoughtless action and near-incomprehensible Aesop-like pronouncements. Assisting the Tick in his daily struggle against the forces of Evil is Arthur, a former accountant, now moth-themed sidekick. Frequently joining their adventures are Die Fledermaus and American Maid, two fellow crimefighters who bear a funhouse-mirror resemblance to a pair of well-known characters from The DCU.

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

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

In 2001, Fox attempted to revive the series in a live action format with Patrick "Puddy" Warburton as The Tick. American Maid and Die Fliedermaus were absent due to licensing and rights issues, being replaced by near-lookalikes Captain Liberty and Batmanuel. Although some of the animated show's style and wit was retained, along with different humor, it was too expensive to have the Protagonists actually battle evildoers, so the show was often more Seinfeld-in-tights, although did provide some comedic Deconstructions. It was canceled before it could run a whole season. Where's the siege?! (Probably didn't help anything that the last Episode, The Terror was scheduled to run on 9/11/2001.) Watch it legally here.

Recently, the comic has returned as a bi-monthly, ongoing title, written by Benito Cereno and drawn by Les McClane.

This series is the Trope Namer for:

This series provided examples of:

  • Achilles in His Tent - Handy might well have named this trope.
  • Adaptation Distillation - Most fans agree that the cartoon version was a great step for the franchise.
  • Alien Among Us: Tick and Arthur get new neighbors in one episode: Thrakkorzog, some normal guy, and Thrakkorzog's brain-eating tongue.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian - In one episode, The Tick goes to see a psychiatrist. His "therapy" consists of being forced to wrestle the psychiatrist's assisstant Shaft Taft in various disguises.

 Taft: Come on man, I'm your mother!

Tick: No, you're not! You're Taft!


 Tick: (clears throat) All right…uh…this is quite a pickle. But no reason to panic, Arthur.

Arthur: (long, anguished scream)

Tick: (spots a Phone Booth) Ah…come along, Arthur! We'll call for assistance!

Arthur: (screams again)

  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Authur is pretty competent in a variety of things, once you look past he's in a giant moth suit all the time.
    • Averted in Arthur's backstory in multiple adaptations - he attempted to wear his moth suit all the time at his accounting position, and this bothered the higher-ups enough that he was "encouraged" to take a leave of absence and get psychiatric help.
    • The Tick himself qualifies, as well. When compared to most of the other "heroes" in The City, at least The Tick has the drive and focus to get the job done.
  • Call Back: Batmanuel is referred to as Die Fliedermaus by Destroyo in "The Tick vs The Trial".
  • The Cameo: The 10th anniversary re-release of Tick issue #1 has a bonus segment showing Tick's escape from an insane asylum. It turns out Dr. Bunsen and his assistant Beaker ran the place.
  • Captain Ersatz - All over the place. The live action series had them for the major characters.
    • In Transformers Animated, of all places, The Tick gets one. Sentinel Prime is voiced by Townsend Coleman, resembles the Tick (he's large, blue and has a lantern jaw and antennae) and even speaks like the Tick at times. The biggest difference being that Sentinel is a Jerkass instead of a Cloudcuckoolander.
  • Captain Geographic: American Maid and Captain Liberty.
  • Captain Patriotic: Captain Liberty is a spoof of this.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Many of the antagonists, particularly Chairface Chippendale and The Terror.
  • Catapult to Glory: the Human Cannonball.
  • Chainsaw Good - Wielded by the aptly-named Chainsaw Vigilante.
  • Characterization Marches On - The first episode has Die Fledermaus springing into action, among other superheroes, to stop the Idea Men. He was distracted by American Maid.
  • Chef of Iron / Evil Chef - The Breadmaster
  • The City, called, oddly enough, "The City". It's said to have been poorly Anglicized from the French "Les Citrons" (The Lemons). Apparently early French explorers found a large quantity of some kind of fruit in the area.
  • Clark Kenting - Clark Oppenheimer's glasses and The Tick's hypnotic tie.
  • Cleavage Window - Captain Liberty's outfit in the live action show has a star-shaped window. Destroyo remarks on it in his Hannibal Lecture.
  • Closer to Earth (American Maid, compared to Die Fliedermaus and most of the rest of the cast)
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Tick, turned to 11.
    • 11? The Tick's dial goes all the way to "Justice"!
  • Combat Stilettos: American Maid wears them and actually uses them in combat as throwing weapons.
  • Continuity Nod: Countless examples, in addition to the Deface of the Moon example below. In one case, Handy loses one of his eyes at the end of "The Tick vs. Arthur's Bank Account" and when Handy returns in "Grandpa Wore Tights", he's wearing an eye patch.
  • Conservation of Ninjitsu: In the comics. The third issue is titled appropriately "Night of a Million Zillion Ninjas" and they're every bit as ineffective as you'd expect with such large numbers. Justified in part by the revelation that Ninja has become a cheap franchise.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Tick versus the Infinity Orb.
  • Dating Catwoman: Die Fledermaus meets his own personal Catwoman when he encounters The Ottoman, a stylish woman who knows everything about furniture.
  • Dead Little Sister: Little Wooden Boy
  • Deconstructor Fleet
  • Deface of the Moon: An aborted attempt by Chairface Chippendale to write his name. The letters "CHA" appear on the moon as a Continuity Nod.
  • The Ditz: The Tick.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength
  • Doppleganger Spin: Multiple Santa, who duplicates whenever touched by an electrical spark.
  • Dumb Muscle: The Tick himself.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: In one issue of the comic book, a mysterious female figure wearing a flying suit identical to Arthur's appears in a few panels. The comic ended before her story was revealed, but she later appeared in the animated series as Carmelita Vatos, daughter of the suit's inventor and (eventually) Arthur's love interest.
  • Egopolis: Pineapple Pokopo and Pokoponesia.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: In The Tick vs. Brainchild.
  • Enfante Terrible: Charles/Brainchild, who was also a Mad Scientist.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Thrakkorzog, Tun-La Not Of This Earth.
  • Eureka Moment: Given the less than stellar intellects of many cast members, these tend to be gems such as "...Water. People swim... in water!"
  • Expy - Since the live action version couldn't get all the rights to characters from the animated version, Die Fledermaus became Bat-Manuel and American Maid became Captain Liberty.
    • For added hilarity, Batman Die Fledermaus and Wonder Woman American Maid were already Expys in their own right. Also, Shaft Taft.
  • Everything's Better with Cows: The Man-Eating Cow, possibly-heroic scourge of the criminal underworld and star of her own spin-off comic.
    • Also, the off-screen fifty-foot fire-lactating bovine known as Apocalypse Cow in the live-action version.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Yank.
  • Evil Plan: Parodied in the pilot episode, when the heroes catch one of the Idea Men and demand he tells them his scheme:

 Idea Man: Well, we thought we’d steal a lot of money, and then we’d be rich, and we wouldn’t have to work anymore!

Tick: You cads!

  • Esperanto, the Universal Language: "Actually, Tick, I've taught myself to speak all your Earth languages. Except Esperanto. * chuckles* You could see that one was going nowhere."
  • Evil Old Folks: The Terror, a crazy old has-been supervillain who used to be buddies with Stalin. Back in the day he used to be a credible threat; these days, not so much, but he still gives Arthur and The Tick a good go of it.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight.
  • Expospeak Gag: Google "acetylsalicylic acid".
  • Eye Lights Out
  • Fantastic Voyage Plot: Without as much shrinking though. The just needed to get into Dinosaur Neal's body to remove the dinosaur DNA.
  • Feghoot: the episode The Tick Loves Santa. Dear GOD, the episode The Tick Loves Santa
  • Five-Man Band: Of Sorts.
  • Flowers for Algernon Syndrome: in the episode "The Tick versus Pineapple Pokopo."
  • Foot Focus: Find a fighting scene with American Maid
  • For Science!: The primary motivation of most of the shows various mad scientists, most notably Dr Chrome Dome.
  • Franchise Zombie: Ben Edlund wants to focus on science fiction and horror for his entertainment output. Fans keep asking for more of The Tick. He's apparently grown quite disgusted with the character as a result.
  • Genius Ditz: The Tick may be very, very ditzy in just about everything, but he has shown a certain level of philosophical thought in some cases. Especially so in the second episode of the live action series, where he learns that everyone (even potatoes) can die, and after thinking about it for about a minute, gives Arthur a motivating speech that actually makes sense.
  • God Guise: Of sorts, as other inmates of the Evanston Asylum that escaped when The Tick did start worshipping him, forming the Mystic Order of Arachnid Vigilance. Which then underwent Defictionalization as The Tick's fanclub.
  • Good Guy Bar: The Comet Club
  • Gratuitous Latin: Milo from the supervillain team Venus and Milo spouts Latin phrases constantly.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: In the comics, just to tweak Chairface Chippendale, his attempt to carve his name in the moon is hushed up and subsequently blamed on Charo.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: "Arthur, my body is a weapon. Use it!"
  • Hand Puppet: Handy, the Human Ton's good pal. Read a book!
  • Hannibal Lecture: Parodied with Destroyo in the live action series. Trying it on Captain Liberty just made her not able to shut up about insecure she was.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: Parodied to the point of ludicrousness (just take a look at the picture on the trope page).
    • The Flying Squirrel superhero student in "The Tick vs Education" proved to be pretty effective with her squirrels.
  • Hot-Blooded: The Tick, especially in his more scenery-chewing moments.
  • I Am Not Weasel: Arthur's moth costume is confused for a rabbit rabbit.
  • Ice Cream Koan: Many quotes by The Tick and The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight.

 Gravity is a harsh mistress!

I hate broccoli, and yet, in a certain sense, I am broccoli.

You know, when a tomato grows out of your forehead, it gets you thinking.

I'm about to write you a reality check. Or would you prefer the cold, hard cash of truth?




  Tick: Guns and superheroes don't mix. Seek professional help.


 The Mayor: "You heroes keep sending us these things and they just don't work. Every time we flash the Die Fledermaus signal he unplugs his phone and skips town for a week."


 American Maid: Oh well, I suppose I could do a lot worse.

Tick: Neat!


 Arthur: (sotto voce) "Who knew Sewer Urchin of all people would be this cool?"

Sewer Urchin: (revealing that he heard Arthur just fine) "Down here I'm the apotheosis of cool."