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Modeled after James Bond, the FX spy comedy Archer frequently cashes in on dumb humor and its sometimes dumber cast of characters. But who would’ve guessed that a cartoon where its eponymous lead has mommy issues and a severe alcohol problem could be so tuned into pop culture (and occasionally itself)? Wading through every joke and reference would take quite a while, so here are the best eleven Archer Jokes, just to get you started.
1. Chekhov’s Gun (Season 1, Episode 2)
As Archer attempts to train his nerdy co-worker Cyril to be a secret agent and call girl Trinette is accidentally pricked with a hypodermic needle full of poison. A frenzied Archer shouts, “I said, ‘The cap slips off the poison pen for no reason,’ didn’t I?!” And proceeds to cut off Cyril’s excuse by telling him not to bring up Chekhov’s Gun, which states that if a pistol is hanging on the wall in the first act, it should be fired in the next. Though, in Cyril’s defense, Archer did hand him a “Chekhov, 25 caliber” with the safety off earlier in the episode, so he probably didn’t think he’d murder anyone with the poison pen.
2. Johnny Bench (Season 1, Episode 4)
It’s a running joke among ISIS employees that agent Lana Kane has gigantic man-hands and when the team gets together for a fancy dinner so Mallory can schmooze a United Nations chairman out of his money, nothing changes. Mallory demands that Archer distract the chairman from Lana’s “huge, Johnny Benchian fingers,” referring to Johnny Bench and his ability to hold seven baseballs in one hand. Which is kind of creepy when you think about it.
3. Emily Post (Season 2, Episode 3)
When Archer is accused of fathering an illegitimate child, he’s forced to bring his personal life into work. It’s bad enough when you have to work for your mother, but once you’ve added a prostitute with a baby into the mix, things are bound to get downright awkward. Alas, it’s no reason to forget your manners and Archer brings up famed etiquette author Emily Post when he quips, “I’m sorry, I guess I skipped over the Emily Post chapter about ‘How to Introduce Your Mother to a Hooker’.” The truth? Post’s “Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home” probably wouldn’t have helped very much.
4. William S. Burroughs (Season 2, Episode 3)
In the same episode, Archer’s servant Woodhouse is revealed to have a pretty heavy heroin addiction. Mallory flashes back to a particular instance in Mexico where he said, “Let’s liven things up, Burroughs. Five grams of junk says, I can shoot a pina colada off your wife’s head.” This refers to William S. Burroughs, a 20th-century author, who in 1951 accidentally shot his wife in the head during a drunken game of William Tell. Side note: never trust anyone to shoot anything off your head.
5. Charles Benedict Davenport (Season 3, Episode 12)
This episode, the team is on a mission to Mars in an attempt to retake control of a spaceship that’s fallen into the hands of a few mutineers. But things go south when one of the astronauts refers to Lana as “good breeding stock,” which brings Archer directly to Charles Benedict Davenport. One of the leaders of the American eugenics movement, Davenport believed that he could improve the human species by picking and choosing which traits were passed on to the next generation. Unfortunately, Davenport’s findings were completely out of touch (even for the 1900’s) and fell victim to race and class bias. When it comes to heredity, once people start discussing the weeding out of “undesirable genes,” it never ends well.
6. Dr. D.B. Cooper (Season 4, Episode 2)
After learning that his best/only friend Lucas Troy is dead, Archer immediately refuses to believe it. Mallory tells him that Lucas stole some uranium and escaped in a plane only to crash in Vermont. As Archer continues to deny, deny, deny, Lana asks how Troy could’ve faked his own death to which Archer shouts, “Paging Dr. Cooper! Dr. D.B. Cooper!” The infamous “doctor” is known for extorting $200,000 in November of 1971, hijacking a Boeing 727 and parachuting to an uncertain fate. Despite hundreds of leads and an FBI manhunt, the case of D.B. Cooper remains open and unsolved as a body has never been found and positively identified.
7. Of Mice And Men (Season 2, Episode 2)
After Len Trexler, head of a rival spy agency, has a microchip implanted in his brain thanks to an LSD-laced Dr. Krieger, Len comes out of the procedure a bit…different. He actually finds himself a little obsessed with the lab’s test rabbit asking if he can have it and the lettuce it’s attached to. The team literally gives “Lennie” the rabbit, bringing back memories of George and Lennie, two guys who only wanted an easy life and a farm of their own (with a special area for a few rabbits). While things didn’t turn out so well for the not-so-gentle giant Lennie and every rabbit he’s ever had, we have hope for Len and his new lettuce-eating friend!
8. Julius Caesar (Season 2, Episode 9)
When Archer finds out that he’s been treating his breast cancer with sugar pills and Zima, he decides to get back at the perpetrators the only way he knows how. As he prepares for his revenge-filled rampage, he takes a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar when he says, “Cry havoc and let slip the hogs of war!” Or, he at least tries to quote it. The saying, “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!” references the military order “Havoc!” which was used in the Middle Ages to order soldiers to pillage and cause general chaos. And even though he misquotes Shakespeare, Archer manages to recover with a snappy, “Whatever farm animal of war… Shut up!”
9. Lampshade Hanging (Season 1, Episode 6)
When Lana is thought to be trapped on a mega yacht with a dangerous arms dealer, naturally, Archer comes to her rescue. Unfortunately, the mission is pretty much abandoned once they realize how awesome being on a yacht is. But when Archer and Lana are let on to the fact that the arms dealer knows their actual identities, they’re (literally) caught with their pants down. Archer uses a handy grenade to get out of trouble and when Lana asks where he got it, he says, “Hanging from the lampshade.” Lampshade hanging is a literary device that writers use when the story writes itself into a corner. Essentially having everything come together at just the right time. Like our hero randomly pulling a grenade out of a pile of bed sheets.
10. Elisha Otis (Season 2, Episode 6)
When all of the computers at ISIS get a serious virus (thanks to Cyril) and need to be wiped, Secretary Cheryl is not having it. She uses a few of her problem-solving skills and determines that the best way to deal with the buggy computers, is by shoving them down the elevator shaft. Makes sense, right? But when Pam asks how the elevator is supposed to work with all the computers sitting on it, Cheryl replies, “Who am I, Elisha Otis?” The founder of the Otis Elevator Company invented a safety device that keeps elevators from falling if the hoisting cable fails. Cheryl may not be the brightest ISIS employee, but she certainly knows who helped pioneer the modern elevator.
11. Hal Needham (Season 5, Episode 7)
Forever the daredevil, Archer is always doing something dangerous and this time he’s jumping through a window shouting, “Here’s to you Hal Needham!” While most would prefer to yell ‘geronimo,’ Archer chooses to show a bit of love to the writer/director of Smokey And The Bandit. An appropriate choice, considering Smokey And The Bandit stars Burt Reynolds, Archer’s favorite actor and reason for wanting to ride in an airboat so badly. And even though it got weird when Burt started dating Mallory, clearly, Archer’s obsession lives on.