Morel orel

Orel is the protagonist of the stop-motion animated series, Moral Orel. He is an 11 (later 12)-year-old devout Christian who goes through life trying to discover how to be moral and good. He explores various concepts surrounding Christianity. He lives in the religious Protestant Christian town of Moralton with his abusive alcoholic father, Clay, his clean-obsessed and emotionally-detached mother, Bloberta, and his spoiled 7-year-old half-brother, Shapey.


Orel is an extremely innocent, kind, friendly, cheerful, affable, curious, helpful, enthusiastic, good-hearted, and good-natured young boy who is a devout Christian. His goal is to be a good Christian through the Bible, and follow Christian moral codes and values. Because of his warm and friendly personality, he easily gets along with everyone in the town. He often says "Golly!" when expressing joy or surprise. He is helpful and encouraging towards his friends and other people in town, which sometimes gets him into trouble. He is loyal to the people he cares about, and he tries not to break promises. He is generous towards less fortunate and homeless people. By nature, Orel has always been a good person, even before his parents taught him to be a Christian. He is kind and caring to his little brother(s), Shapey (and later Block), whom his parents often neglect.

Due to his gullible and naive nature, Orel often unknowingly takes bad advice from other people in town, including his own parents, which eventually gets him into trouble. In his attempts to remain a good Christian, he listens to every detail of Reverend Putty's sermons, but he misinterprets the teachings, which leads to widespread chaos all over the town. Orel always wants to do the right thing and always tries to help others, even if the action is wrong. Although he often makes mistakes that causes havoc all over town, he is one of the few people in Moralton who are truly good at heart.

Despite witnessing hypocrisy and misery everywhere he goes, Orel remains cheerful, and wants everyone in town to be happy and get along. He is shown to be fair and peaceful, and he harmoniously tries to bring people together whenever there is conflict. By the end of Season 2, Orel becomes more mature and aware of his father’s misery and alcohol addiction, his mother’s depression and loneliness, and the religious hypocrisy of the town he lives in. He still remains optimistic, but he begins to show resentment towards his father.

After going through misery in his life, he matures and becomes a much better parent (emotionally, mentally, and morally), than his parents ever were.


In addition to having an uncanny talent for interpreting religious doctrine literally and drastically changing his belief systems on a weekly basis, Orel possesses many other skills. He is a practised necromancer, has considerable prowess in physical combat (he is able to defeat his own father in a fight) and his sexual stamina is seemingly without limit as he was able to forcibly impregnate a large portion of the town on very short order, with help from a pastry bag. Orel is also a natural businessman, having made large amounts of money selling his urine as an energy drink and (unknowingly) pimping out women from Sinville to the sexually repressed men of Moralton.

One of the show's aspects was Orel's slow awakening to the flaws of the people around him, as well as expanding his personal belief system beyond the rigid fundamentalist Christian doctrine of the town. In the episode Praying, Orel defies his father's orders and uses Buddhist meditation to deal with his stress. He even ruined Principle Fakey's marriage because of his father's idiotic lecture. In "Orel's Movie Premiere", Orel uses rather harsh portrayals of the people around him in his home movies, most notably portraying his father as a sadistic, drunken snarling wolf (leading Dr. Potterswheel to ask Clay if he was molesting his son to have Orel see him as such a monster).

After a disastrous sequence of events in the two-part, season two finale "Nature", wherein his father, Clay, shoots Orel in the leg and denies fault for it (Clay had been drunk at the time and so did not remember it), Orel loses all respect for his father. This culminated in Orel not only telling his father for the first time that he hates him, but also him lying to Clay when Clay shows more concern over the pride he feels over Orel killing a bear, an act for which Orel denies responsibility. Later on, after "Nature", Orel is still cheerful towards the townspeople, but incredibly emotionally distant towards his father. As a result of the shooting (and likely Dr. Potterswheel's incompetent job in healing the leg), Orel gets a permanent limp, which Dino Stamotopolus said would have been kept throughout the series had it continued (and is indeed shown in the show's final scene of an adult Orel).

In the series finale Honor, Orel realizes the true nature of his father's relationship with Coach Stopframe, though it doesn't bother him much. A scene from Orel's adult life, seen at the end of the series finale, shows that he ultimately becomes a much better man than his father ever was. It is shown that he will be happily married his childhood sweetheart Christina, and will be a kind and loving father to their children (a 12-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter) and a puppy.

Family and Relationships[]

  • Arthur Puppington
    • Arthur is Orel's grandfather. According to Scott Adsit, had the series continued beyond the third season, Arthur Puppington would have become a regular member of the show's cast, returning to live with Clay after learning that he was dying from a terminal illness. Arthur would be the only parent figure to Orel. He and Orel would have bonded, becoming his real father figure. Until his dying day, Arthur would be Orel's most positive role model, thus making Orel a better man than Clay could have ever been.
  • Bloberta Puppington
    • She is Orel's mother, they don't interact much but it is clear that she loves him (at least more than Clay). Once Orel asked her why she married Clay, but Bloberta didn't give him a straight answer, instead she told him that there was nothing wrong with Clay. After her "lie", Bloberta broke down knowing what she told Orel. One episode "the Best Christmas Ever" she became harsh on Orel telling him to spend time with Clay. Orel didn't understand why Bloberta's actions; ex. her almost divorcing Clay. Orel knows Bloberta is unhappy, fed up, and ignoring with her family including him.
  • Block Posabule
    • When the Posabules moved away, and the Puppingtons switched sons, and when the mistake was realized the Puppingtons ended up with both Block and Shapey. Orel seems to treat Block the same way he treats Shapey and is the only person who can tell them apart other than his father, however his father simply doesn't care. He watched after both when Bloberta brings Shapey back home.
  • Christina Posabule
    • Orel and Christina are in love with each other, but aren't supposed to see each other because their parents think their two families are "too different" because of their different prayers. In the episode Closeface, they go to the Arm's Length Dance together. In the end of the last episode Honor, it is shown Orel and Christina will live happily married together with 2 children (a 12-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter) and a puppy.
  • Coach Stopframe
    • Stopframe considers Orel one of his best athletic students. Sometimes, he uses Orel as a way to check up on Clay. In the episode Satan, he asks Orel to obtain some of Clay's hair for use in a love ritual, and ends up bringing Orel to said ritual as a "virgin sacrifice". In Honor, the two bond through a day together having winter fun, and through conversations about Clay's actions against Orel (such as being shot by him in Nature Part 2.). He became touched how Orel wanted to honor his father (even though Clay was a pathetic person), and gives him an answer to his question. Clay had made Orel; whom he saw as a good kid. And to him that was worth honoring.
  • Clay Puppington
    • Clay is Orel's father. At the beginning of the series, Orel looked up to him, but after the events of Nature, where Clay (drunk) shoots Orel in the leg, he loses a lot of love and respect for his father. During Honor, Orel feels guilty when a drunken Clay reminds him that he must honor his father. After spending some time with Coach Stopframe, he still isn't given an answer what's honorable about him. Stopframe finds him an answer. Although Clay was a terrible father, he made Orel and that was worth honoring.
  • Doughy Latchkey
    • Doughy is Orel's best friend. He usually helps Orel out in whatever he's doing. Orel is the only person who notices that Doughy's parents don't treat him very well.
  • Shapey Puppington
    • He is Orel's half-brother. Even though Shapey can get on his nerves he still loves him a lot, he even gave him and Block his Bible Figures. In the Best Christmas Ever he believed that Shapey was the second coming of Jesus. Until Bloberta corrected him, in a sense.


Season One[]

  • The Lord's Greatest Gift: Brings the dead back to life after learning in church that people who take life for granted are "spitting into God's face"
  • God's Chef: Impregnates all the women in Moralton in order to masturbate and get into Heaven
  • Charity: Gets addicted to crack cocaine after encountering a drug dealer whom he thinks is poor
  • Waste: Sells his urine as a health drink at school after it helps him at track
  • Omnipresence: Kills an old woman on life support thinking that he is God, after learning that God is in him
  • God-Fearing: Tries to break the Ten Commandments and then repent in order to be scared on Halloween
  • Loyalty: He is tricked by Joe to beat up two homosexual boys with baseball bats while trying to be loyal to Joe
  • Maturity: Becomes an alcoholic in order to be more mature, then turns 12.
  • The Best Christmas Ever: Thinks that Shapey is the Second Coming after mishearing an argument between Clay and Bloberta

Season Two[]

  • God's Image: Finds out that Billy Figurelli does not have the same colour of skin and starts the segregation of the Figurelli's in Moralton
  • Love: Finds his pet dog Bartholomew and is allowed to keep him
  • Satan: Is used by Coach Stopframe to retrieve strands of hair of Clay and also a ritual virgin for a Satanic spell
  • Elemental Orel: Uses logic to solve detective cases and tries to solve the mystery of the missing donation tray money
  • Offensiveness: Miss Censordoll takes him under her wing and he illegalizes eggs after learning about where they come from
  • God's Blunders: Defends Tommy and his "retarded" friends and gives a demented speech about how we should treat special people
  • Pleasure: Takes Rev. Putty's puritanical sermon to heart and inflicts on himself after having wet dreams about God and briefly learns about BDSM
  • The Lord's Prayer: He meets Christina Posabule and falls in love with her.
  • Holy Visage: He gets a Jesus wiggleneck figure and it accidently wounds Dr. Chosenberg's stomach.
  • Be Fruitful and Multiply: Convinces Stephanie to go to church.
  • Praying: He finds a way to relax while training to win the National Praying Bee through meditation
  • Repression: He helps Principal Fakey overcome his problem by using repression
  • Turn The Other Cheek: After getting bullied by Walt Gluegun, Clay teaches him self-defense but he takes it too literally and starts beating up everyone that makes a fist
  • Geniusis: He and Doughy find the missing link frozen in ice on a Scout trip
  • Courtship: Helps Doughy to get gifts for Miss Sculptham: by getting Cecil Creepler to buy presents for Doughy
  • School Pageant: Auditions for the role of Jesus, but he gets the role of Judas instead and the song he sings becomes a hit around Moralton
  • Presents for God: He and Doughy find three prostitutes for Rev. Putty to "save" in Sinville and they start a prostitution service, unknowingly
  • Orel's Movie Premiere: Holds a movie for the main authority figures in Moralton
  • Nature Part One: He and Clay go on a father-and-son hunting trip even though he doesn't want to kill animals
  • Nature Part Two: Gets shot in the leg by Clay and sees what his father really is

Season Three[]

  • Grounded: His father forbids him from going to church. He repeatedly kills himself to get closer to God and truly sees Heaven.
  • Innocence: After learning that the song in the pageant is making everyone mock Jesus, he tries to ask advice from the adults as to how he can make amends with God, even though the adults are trying to avoid him because they have learned of their faulty advice
  • Alone: Is heard at the beginning in an interview on the radio and is the only time he is absent
  • Trigger: Learns how to shoot a gun by being severely neglected, like Doughy
  • Dumb: Tells Joe about the hunting trip, while Joe tells Orel about his mother and father
  • Closeface: Tries to find someone to take to the Arms Length Dance
  • Sundays: He is talking quickly to Rev. Putty in the "Last Sunday" segment and on the Sunday after the hunting trip, he is dejected and lost, like the rest of the congregation
  • Nesting: Learns that his father is the mayor of Moralton and helps Miss Censordoll campaign against him
  • Honor: Tries to learn about the Fifth Commandment from Coach Stopframe, and they develop a meaningful father-and-son relationship

Orel likes[]

Orel dislikes[]

  • His father’s alcohol addiction
  • His father's depression
  • His father being selfish
  • His father being drunk
  • His father spanking him(except for season 2 episode 7)
  • Seeing his parents upset
  • His mother’s depression
  • Being forbidden from going to church
  • Being forbidden from seeing Christina
  • Being grounded
  • Hunting animals
  • Cruelty of any kind
  • Child abuse
  • Sadness
  • Bullying
  • Hypocrisy
  • Lying
  • Hell
  • Sinning
  • Shapey and Block misbehaving
  • Shapey and Block playing with dangerous objects
  • Bartholomew‘s death
  • Doughy being mistreated by his parents


  • Orel's name means "light of God" in Hebrew. It is also the name of a city in Russia.
  • In the Russian dubbed version of the series, Orel’s name is “Eagle”.
  • Orel makes an appearance in the Mary Shelley's Frakenhole Halloween marathon, as he had been wearing a Dr. Frankenstein costume and claims it feels like home, e.g. Victor acts like Clay and the Creation walks past yelling "cake!". Orel also announces that there will be a Moral Orel special in the near-future.
  • The Blue Crane that visits Arthur, can be seen in episode Nature ll as if it's been sent by him to keep an eye on Orel.
  • Reverend Putty says that Orel is the purest of the pure.
  • Orel's children have the same hairstyle as their grandparents: Clay and Bloberta.
  • Orel’s future job is a teacher.



Moral Orel Paved the Way for the Depressing Cartoons of Today

From Adult Swim’s Moral Orel.Photo: Comedy Central

Breakout animated sitcom hits like The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and Family Guy helped ’90s TV audiences relearn what their Flintstones-watching forebears already knew: Cartoons aren’t just for kids. With the stigma of watching animated shows as a grown-up gradually fading into nonexistence, animated television spent the ensuing decades experimenting with increasingly convoluted, hyperviolent, and melancholy comedic projects.

Today, viewers and networks seem to be in agreement that, when it comes to animated programming, the more adult the themes explored, the better. This trend is best exemplified by BoJack Horseman and Rick & Morty, two critically acclaimed shows that use the absurdity of their fantastical universes as Trojan horses to sneak in examinations of the myriad tragedies that come with being a human. These ultra-bleak toons of today stand on the shoulders of many comedic giants, but one show in particular seems to have laid an inordinate deal of the groundwork for our current era of depressing comedy animation.

At first blush, Moral Orel, the mid-aughts Claymation show about a good Christian boy named Orel Puppington misinterpreting sermons to comedic effect, appears to be a cut-and-dry send-up of Davey and Goliath. But its creator, Dino Stamatopoulos, will be the first to tell you that he’d always had larger satirical ambitions for Orel than simply parodying some Lutheran Church–produced kids show. In fact, his conception of the series was almost nothing like the final product.

“When I wrote the pilot to Moral Orel it wasn’t going to be stop-motion,” Stamatopoulos told me at Starburns Industries, his animation studio. “I thought because of the Bush administration and everything happening at the time, I could take this script I’d already wrote about a sort of Leave It to Beaver kid and just add Christianity to it and maybe we could do it with marionette puppets.”

Ultimately, Stamatopoulos’s lifelong love for stop-motion animation — he also produced Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole and Anomalisa — won out and he sold the show to Mike Lazzo and the suits at Adult Swim as an episodic TV-MA subversion of the wholesome ’60s clay show.

“I knew they were all very formulaic, but I grew up on cartoons that were formulaic,” says Stamatopoulos of the first season that he churned out in a month. “It wasn’t like now where characters have to change.”

Moral Orel’s first-season episode arcs did indeed follow a template wherein the pure-hearted titular character takes a lesson on virtue to extreme (e.g., avoiding wasting to the point of selling his own urine as a sports drink) before ultimately facing corporal punishment for his goof at the hands of his alcoholic father. “They were letting us have a 10-year-old masturbate over sleeping women,” recalls Scott Adsit, the voice of Orel’s father as well as a writer on the show.

It may come as a surprise that, despite the adult nature of the show and though the role was originally written with Iggy Pop in mind, Orel was voiced by Carolyn Lawrence, an actress best known for her voice work on children’s cartoons, chief among them her role as Sandy the squirrel on SpongeBob SquarePants.

“Dino and I go way back. I knew him in Chicago when we were all youngsters,” recalls Lawrence when asked how she got involved in a project so disparate from her usual work. “He was writing for a live-action sketch comedy show out here and they had used a little boy for a skit, and his speech was unintelligible, so he called me in to ADR for that boy. I guess years later, when he was writing the show, he remembered that I did that character. It meant so much to me that he cared and called me.”

Stamatopoulos, already growing bored with the production template he’d created for season one, decided to take Moral Orel’s Christmas-themed finale in a dark direction. In “The Best Christmas Ever,” our pious protagonist is painted as a pitiful rube, fruitlessly waiting for divine intervention while surrounded by an awful family and community too mired in their own moral failings to care for our sweet boy. But in a bizarre move that left most viewers confused if not tuned out, Adult Swim chose to premiere the show with this episode, pegging its holiday themes to the December 13 air date. Stamatopoulos, recognizing the leeway this afforded him, found a way to spin the blunder into a permission slip when the show was picked up for another season.

“Lazzo loved the Christmas ep, so I figured I could do more of that,” says Stamatopoulos of his approach to writing the second season. “He came back to me after [I wrote it] and said, ‘I wish it was more like season one. We need more sperm and piss.’ I was like, ‘Well, we kind of did that already and now I’m just exploring the characters.’ To be perfectly honest, I sold him this show and then I changed it on him. But I felt like it was the honest place to go. I get bored too easily.”

Stamatopoulos’s impulse to ditch the lowbrow humor of the first season would ultimately be what carried Orel to greatness and critical acclaim, but following that path took the show to heartbreaking places that made “The Best Christmas Ever” look like a Hallmark channel movie. Season two’s pitch-black two-part finale, “Nature,” takes Orel on a hunting trip that results in him getting shot by the drunken father he gradually realizes he hates.

“We were initially hoping it would be edgy and forward-thinking and a critique of hypocrisy,” says Adsit. “It didn’t become depressing until we really started writing the characters as human beings and exploring the human condition when it comes to devoting yourself to something that might be a lie.”

Again, Lazzo gushed over the “Nature” finale, even going so far as to call it “the best show [he’d] ever seen on TV,” according to Stamatopoulos.

“He’s feeding me the wrong information again, so season three became more of that,” chuckles Stamatopoulos. “You can’t really go back to status quo after that hunting trip.”

Season three somehow managed to up the depression ante, with each episode exploring the wretched existence of a differentresident of Moralton, Orel’s hometown. The topics of rape, abortion, repressed homosexuality, and suicide were broached, but at this point in the series, they weren’t really played for laughs. The writers now treated their once purely spoof characters with dignity and empathy.

“There are moments where my heart broke for Orel while I was playing him,” recalls Lawrence. “He touched me emotionally more than any character I’ve ever played.”

Over the course of its three-season run, the show made no effort to hide its contempt for the hypocrisy of traditional religious institutions and the hateful, hypocritical creatures that glom onto them. Moralton’s reverend beds prostitutes, its puritanical librarian seduces Orel’s father, and all the other adults in town are gradually revealed to have a skeleton or two in their closet that flies in the face of scripture. Nonetheless, whether due to the writers’ compassionate, fair-minded approach to telling Orel & Co.’s stories or perhaps because Adult Swim didn’t promote the show much, Moral Orel was never really branded as an outright attack on Christianity. In fact, some Christians even came to appreciate the show’s nuanced take on religion. Adsit recalls that his own sister, who’d initially been offended at what she’d perceived as an attack on her faith, eventually came around.

“After the second season, she actually sat down and watched all of it,” Adsit says. “She said she spoke too soon and was too dismissive and she now got it and understood it wasn’t just an attack on Christianity, but on human behavior in general and the power of influence. And she told me, ‘I really liked it and thought it was really good and was surprised at how funny it was and I’m proud of you.’”

While the normie public may not have taken umbrage with Orel’s Christianity-skewering themes, Stamatopoulos recalls its Atlanta-based network blanching at some of those jokes more than others. “Because Adult Swim is [based] in the South, they didn’t mind racial humor as much,” says Stamatopoulos. “Religious humor, oddly enough, because it was a religious show, was different. I think we had an abortion joke that I had to take out and I replaced it with a race joke and it went. It was making fun of racists more than anything. And the abortion joke was making fun of Christians.”

Though Stamatopoulos had a five-season redemptive arc planned for Orel, season three proved too bleak for Adult Swim and the show was canceled mid-season, its episode order cut to 13. The execs apparently thought the content was just too dark for the late-night stoner audience that would soon come to worship the nihilistic worldview of Rick Sanchez.

“No criticism to the network, but I feel like when you have a creator like [Dino], you either trust him to finish his journey or you don’t, and I feel like they didn’t let him find a redemption,” says Lawrence. “He had a very clear path he was going on, and it was going to free up. It’s like in a feature film. You get to the crisis point and then you recover. But they didn’t let him recover.”

Four years after the 2008 series finale, Stamatopoulos claims he got a text from Lazzo stating that the network exec “may have been a bit premature in canceling [Moral Orel]” and was given the opportunity to return to Moralton. He pitched Before Orel, a prequel of sorts, to the network. Though it didn’t go, Adult Swim did agree to air the pilot as a half-hour special, and a backhanded compliment from Lazzo — “smart, amusing, but not really funny” — was even used in a mock-up promotional poster for the episode.

Though the network is now ostensibly done with the show, Lawrence hopes that we haven’t seen the last of Orel. “I miss playing him and would like to revisit it,” she says. “I’ve tried to convince [Dino] to take that journey to a feature film, because I feel it would be a great format for the bigger picture. Can we make this happen?”

But would Moral Orel even fit into the dark comedic landscape of today? Stamatopoulos thinks his creation might still be too grounded to connect with audiences were it airing today.

“People want happier things,” he suggests. “Monster movies started in the ’30s during the Depression and they were very dark. But once the real monsters came out, the ’40s monster movies were cleaned up. People don’t like dark things in dark times. Dark humor has to be couched in something silly and fanciful like BoJack Horseman or Rick & Morty. Anomalisa did not do well because that was dark on top of dark. It’s gotta have some kind of fun to it, too.”


Moral Orel Paved the Way for Today’s Depressing CartoonsSours:
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Moral Orel

2005 adult animated comedy television series

Moral Orel is an American adultstop-motion animatedcomedy-drama television series which originally aired on Adult Swim from December 13, 2005 to December 18, 2008. The series has been described as "Davey and Goliath meets South Park".[2] However, Dino Stamatopoulos, the show's creator, is wary of the comparison with Davey and Goliath, telling the New York Times that Moral Orel grew out of a concept for a send-up of a Leave It to Beaver-style 1950s sitcom that would star Iggy Pop.[3] The series is a satire of the archetypes of Middle American suburban life, modern-day WASP culture, alcoholism, and religious fundamentalism with weighty emotional undertones that increase dramatically as the series progresses.

At the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con, Stamatopoulos announced that the show would not be renewed for a fourth season. The final season was aired interspersed with repeats from the first two seasons, as many of the episodes took place in parallel with events of past episodes. The event, which was called "44 Nights of Orel", was hosted by Stamatopoulos and others and started on October 6, 2008, running through December 18, when the series finale premiered. A special entitled "Beforel Orel" later aired on November 19, 2012.


Moral Orel takes place in the fictional capital city of Moralton in the fictional Bible Beltstate of Statesota. According to the globe shown in the opening credits, Moralton is in the exact center of the United States, with the town's church at the exact center of the town. The protagonist is 12-year-old Orel Puppington, a student at Alfred G. Diorama Elementary School, who tries to live by the fundamentalist ProtestantChristianmoral code as articulated in church or by his father, Clay Puppington. Orel naïvely follows this code to disastrous extremes.


Main article: List of Moral Orel episodes

International broadcast[edit]

In Canada, Moral Orel previously aired on Teletoon's Teletoon at Night block[4] and currently airs on the Canadian version of Adult Swim.[5]


Main article: List of Moral Orel characters

  • Orel Puppington (voiced by Carolyn Lawrence) is a devout 12-year-old Christian boy who cheerfully and naïvely deals with an abusive father, an emotionally-distant mother, and the hypocrisy of the religious adults he encounters. Over the course of the series, he learns the true nature of his parents and the town, but learns to expand his optimistic worldview.
  • Clay Puppington (voiced by Scott Adsit) is Orel's repressed and hateful father. He is a deconstruction of the typical 50s nuclear fatherly role and holds strongly to a traditional style of parenting. He is a cynical alcoholic and a closet bisexual (although can be interpreted as being fully homosexual) who hates his dead-end job and his wife, Bloberta. He is widely regarded as the series main antagonist, and expresses abusive behaviour to his entire family. In his childhood, he had a borderline emotionally incestuous relationship with his mother up until her death. He was led to feel worthless by his emotionally frigid father out of guilt from his mothers death, which affects his emotions and relationship with Orel greatly.
  • Bloberta Puppington (voiced by Britta Phillips) is Orel's obsessive-compulsive, soft spoken, yet emotionally distant mother. She tends to ignore all conflict or problems and shares contempt for her husband, Clay. She is shown to clean things and (in season 3) perform self mutilation obsessively to distract herself from underlying feelings of inferiority in her household. While she holds a cheerful persona, and always acts bubbly around her children, she is secretly depressive and wishes for a better life.
  • Shapey Puppington (voiced by Tigger Stamatopoulos), Orel's half-brother, is a misbehaving, spoiled, emotionally-stunted toddler who does nothing but yell and scream, usually incoherently, and act out. Until the episode Sacrifices, his dialogue only consists of a few different words.
  • Rev. Rod Putty (voiced by William Salyers), the town's resident pastor of the church, is a laid-back, lonely, and sexually frustrated man to whom Orel looks for advice. In the beginning of the series, he’s shown to be a bigot, self-absorbed, and depressed. However, beginning in season 2, he shares a healthy relationship with his estranged daughter Stephanie, a punk-rocker and a lesbian who runs a sex shop. This allows him to become more open minded, kind, and positive.
  • Coach Daniel Stopframe (voiced initially by Jay Johnston, later by Scott Adsit) is Orel's nihilistic and sarcastic school gym teacher, and later revealed to be Shapey’s biological father. He engages in Satanic practices and is in love with Orel's father, Clay. While they begin a subtle affair at the end of season one, Clay admits he’s in love with him in front of his family in the series finale.
  • Doughy Latchkey (voiced by Scott Adsit) is Orel's sensitive, unintelligent, occasionally neurotic, and easily frightened best friend, who often worries about Orel as he follows him on adventures. His last name comes from the term Latchkey Kid, which refers to a neglected child who is ignored by his parents at home. Because of this, he often appears insecure and gloomy when it comes to his home-life.
  • Stephanie Putty (voiced by Britta Phillips) is a punk, atheist, and lesbian town outsider who is later revealed to be Reverend Putty's daughter. Despite her jaded persona, she’s often a voice of reason for Orel and is described as incredibly warm-hearted and empathetic. She serves as a parental figure for him as she develops her relationship with her father.


The first season of the show follows a standard formula, in which Orel hears a sermon given by Rev. Rod Putty in church on Sunday, and then proceeds to have a misadventure based on his attempts to live by his (usually warped) interpretation of the sermon and its lesson. At the end of each episode, his father would sternly put a halt to the situation and "correct" Orel, by means of corporal punishment, only to offer an even more warped interpretation (in the first season, typically one of Clay's "Lost Commandments") of the church sermon. A running gag of the show was that before the ending credits ran, Clay's pants would fall down when he stood from his chair, as he had earlier removed his belt to punish Orel. Throughout the season, the series' primary characters are introduced and various subplots are established, such as Orel's father being a closeted bisexual in love with Orel's gym teacher, and Orel's mother being an unhappily married housewife feeling trapped in her marriage.

The format of the second season of the show breaks that of the first season and begins to build upon subplots introduced in the first season, making them the primary focus of the show. While still the protagonist and primary character, Orel becomes less a catalyst for each episode's events than an unwitting bystander often left confused and dejected at the end, finding himself unable to reconcile his optimistic nature and faith with the corruption and cynicism of the adults around him, particularly his father. The season culminates in a two-part episode dealing with a camping trip during which Orel lost all faith and trust in his father. The season finale—"Nature (Part 1)" and "Nature (Part 2)"—marks a far darker turn in the series' tone, de-emphasizing the cynical parody of the previous episodes in favor of exploring more disturbing themes.

The third and final season of the show is structured as a interconnecting 13-part story dealing with the events leading up to and during the camping trip, and their far-reaching implications. It is revealed that during the trip, Clay gets drunk and shoots Orel in the leg, afterward showing a complete lack of remorse or sense of responsibility. The series culminates in the ultimate dissolution of Clay's relationship with Orel's coach, and the revelation that Orel will one day be able to put his traumatic childhood behind him to raise a better family than the one in which he grew up.

Originally, before being cut down to a 13-episode third season and later cancelled, the show was intended to have two more seasons and evolve into a show titled Moralton that would revolve around the life of the residents of Moralton as a whole.[1]

The series was troubled throughout its run. Against the wishes of creator Stamatopoulos, the Christmas-themed first-season finale, "The Best Christmas Ever", was aired as the series premiere. Adult Swim wanted to debut the show in December as part of a holiday-themed programming block. The episode, which featured the culmination of numerous story arcs developed throughout the first season, and ended with a cliffhanger, confusing viewers and prompting questions on Adult Swim's message boards as to whether or not the episode was a one-off practical joke. When the series eventually premiered, three episodes of the first season were held back from airing because the network's Standards & Practices Department found them to be too dark and sexually explicit.[6] All were eventually approved; two aired in May 2006 and the third aired on July 31, 2006. The series was ultimately canceled with seven scripts left unproduced, cutting the third season down from the intended twenty episodes to thirteen.

2012 special[edit]

After the 2011 Halloween mini-marathon for Mary Shelley's Frankenhole, Orel himself announced the upcoming Moral Orel special and its release "sometime in the near future".[7] "Beforel Orel" was officially announced on Dino's official Twitter page.[8] The special was described in a press release by Adult Swim as "[a] Moral Orel special that sheds light on the origin of Orel's religious nature and the birth of his brother, Shapey".[9] It premiered on Monday, November 19, 2012.

Home releases[edit]

On April 24, 2007, Volume One: The Unholy Edition was released, which included the first 15 episodes[10] and which covered all of the first season and the first five episodes of the second season. This has been the only release in the US, which was later included as part of the Adult Swim in a Box set in 2009. In October 2007, Madman Entertainment released a similar volume one set in Australia. Starting in 2010, Madman continued releasing the series, starting with a second volume which included the rest of the second season, and then a third volume which included all of the third season. Then, they released the Complete Lessons Collection, which compiled the discs from the previously released volumes.

DVD nameRelease dateEp #Additional information
Volume OneApril 24, 200715This 2-disc boxed set contains the first 15 episodes of the series, uncensored, and in production order ("The Lord's Greatest Gift" through Season 2's "Offensiveness", and includes the entirety of Season 1 along with additional Season 2 episodes "God's Image", "Satan", "Elemental Orel", and "Love"). Special features include a director's cut version of "God's Chef", deleted scenes, audio commentary, and a "behind the scenes" featurette

NOTE: This is the only release of the series in North America

Volume Two201015This one-disc set contains the next 15 episodes of the series, which are the latter half of season two, uncensored, and in production order ("God's Blunders" through "Nature, Part Two"). Special features include character profiles, easter eggs, and trailers

NOTE: Only Released in Australia

Volume Three201113This one-disc set contains the final 13 episodes of the series, which are the entire third season, uncensored, and in production order ("Numb" through "Honor"). Special features include video commentary with series creator Dino Stamatopolous, easter eggs, and trailers

NOTE: Only released in Australia

Complete Lessons Collection201243This 4-disc compilation set contains the entire series, uncensored and in production order ("The Lord's Greatest Gift" through "Honor"). Special features include audio commentary, video commentary, The Awkward 2007 Comic-Con panel, deleted scenes, easter eggs, directors cut episodes, and behind-the-scenes featurettes

NOTE: Only released in Australia

The entire show has been available to buy at various digital video on demand stores.

The series has also been made available to watch on HBO Max since September 1, 2020.[11]


  1. ^ abWolinsky, David (28 October 2008). "Scott Adsit". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  2. ^Bozell, L. Brent (2007). "Shower after 'Adult Swim'". Archived from the original on 2009-04-14. Retrieved 2016-01-15.
  3. ^Crane, Dan (2007-05-20). "Holy Satire! Faith-Based Mockery". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-01-15.
  4. ^"Teletoon skeds 13 new shows for fall". August 1, 2007. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  5. ^"Adult Swim Canada schedule (Update: No 5AM for you.)". June 21, 2012. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  6. ^Finley, Adam (Oct 27, 2006). "Dino Stamatopoulos: The TV Squad Interview". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 2016-01-15.
  7. ^"Frankenhole Halloween 2011, 8". Adult Swim. October 31, 2011. Retrieved 2016-01-15.
  8. ^Dino Stamatopoulos [@@DinosThirdTwitt] (20 May 2012). "BEFOREL OREL – A Moral Orel special that sheds light on the origin of Orel's religious nature and the birth of Shapey. Coming to [as] soon" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  9. ^"Adult Swim Announces Largest Programming Schedule Ever for 2012-13". The Futon Critic. May 16, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
  10. ^"Moral Orel, Vol. 1, The Unholy Edition". DVDTalk. April 28, 2007. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  11. ^Siegal, Jacob (Aug 21, 2020). "HBO Max in September: Everything coming and going". Retrieved Apr 15, 2021.

External links[edit]


Western Animation / Moral Orel
"Dear Orel:
Always remember, son, even though you are the perfect candidate for brainwashing in this town, you're also too pure and good-hearted to be corrupted.
Love, Grandpa"

— Arthur Puppington, "Beforel Orel"

In the town of Moralton, Statesota lives the Puppington Family. Twelve-year-old Orel Puppington, a devout Protestant Christian, thinks of Jesus as his biggest role model. He always pays rapt attention in church, taking the advice of the local preacher's sermons to heart, but due to his age, he doesn't always understand some of the topics, which leads to Orel acting on them in his own special way. Needless to say, Hilarity Ensues!

Until it doesn't.

Moral Orel is a Stop Motion animated show that first aired on Adult Swim from 2006–08 created by Dino Stamatopoulos (writer for Mr. Show, Community, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien). Originally conceived as a satire of sitcoms from The '50s and The '60s, and designed to resemble an Affectionate Parody of Leave It to Beaver (not Davey and Goliath, despite the art style), the show, despite copious amounts of Executive Meddling, ultimately evolved into one of the darkest pieces of Western animation of the 2000s. It is notable for being one of the first animated dramedies on television, having come out a near-decade before the critically acclaimed Bojack Horseman hit Netflix.

Every member of Orel's family shows some form of dysfunction: father Clay abuses alcohol, abuses Orel (emotionally and physically), and fails to hide his closetbisexuality; mother Bloberta cheats on Clay, often finds herself depressed, and suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder; and both parents spoil Orel's rambunctious and disabled little brother Shapey rotten. The population of Moralton (a town placed precisely in the middle of the United States) fare little better; most of Moralton's adults lead lives as dysfunctional as Orel's family — if not more so — while putting on a show of being Good Christians and Good Neighbors.

Moral Orel is less a critique of Christianity itself than a deconstruction of religious fundamentalism. The show aims its real critique towards authority figures who pay lipservice to their inferiors' religious beliefs as a way of preserving their authority — especially when such people make horrible authority figures and role models. In short, it's not a criticism of religion specifically, but of hypocrisy itself.

The show served as an affectionate (and adult-oriented) quasi-parody of the aforementioned Beaver until Dino Stamatopoulos began to move the focus away from Orel midway through the first season, caused by a rough divorce he was going through at the time. He then began to explore the dark underbelly of the seemingly happy-go-lucky townspeople of Moralton, which culminated in the two-part season 2 finale "Nature".

The network higher-ups loved the two-parter, with Adult Swim head Mike Lazzo asking Dino to make the show's third season as dark as humanly possible. Dino complied, but Lazzo and Adult Swim instantly regretted getting exactly what they asked for: after a screening of the darkest episode of the show's run — "Alone" — Adult Swim cancelled the series and cut season 3 down to thirteen episodes, which forced several key arcs to be abandoned. (Dino did provide a sliver of hope amidst the despair, however, with a happy ending for Orel.)

While the show was cut short, fans kept hope alive for a revival. After 2007, Adult Swim only played reruns of the show sporadically, but in late 2011, the network began rerunning the show in chronological order on weeknights. When Dino learned of this, he said "[if] enough people watch, there may be hope for a special or two" on a Facebook post. A month into the reruns, Dino made another comment: "Got a great call from the Head of Adult Swim yesterday raving about the ratings that the Moral Orel reruns have been getting. Great job, everyone! Keep watching and the Moral Orel special will be imminent."

Dino followed up on this on Halloween with a surprise appearance from Orel in the last bump of a Mary Shelley's Frankenhole mini-marathon, where Orel said a new Moral Orel special would come "sometime in the near future". At its May 2012 upfront, Adult Swim confirmed Orel's return with the announcement of Beforel Orel, a half-hour special that [as] promised will explain "the origin of Orel's religious nature and the birth of his brother, Shapey". Beforel Orel aired on November 19th, 2012.

    open/close all folders 

Moral Orel provides examples of these tropes:


  • Aborted Arc:
    • Clay's father, introduced in a flashback episode in Season Three, was supposed to join the cast in the second half of the season; when the show was cancelled, the arc was deepsixed. Also deepsixed was the Miss Censordoll's scheming to take control over the town via seducing Clay (revealed to be the Mayor of the town in the second-to-last episode of the series) as well as the implications that Censordoll may or may not have manipulated Clay's shooting of Orel. Clay's father does play a role in "Beforel Orel".
    • There were hints in the third season that something would happen involving Miss Sculptham and Mr. Creepler but once this was revealed in "Alone" the show was cancelled and some episodes were deepsixed. If one saw the scene in "Innocence" where Sculptham was clipping out a newspaper article, that article was about a serial rapist that turned out to be Mr. Creepler. A episode that was scrapped called "Raped" would've brought this to light and another scrapped episode "Abstinence" did show Doughy witnessing Creepler and Scultpham together but Doughy just brushed it off. To make things even more darker and disturbing, if the series continued, Miss Sculptham would have discovered herself pregnant with his twins and that she had aborted only one of them. With Dr. Potterswheel finding out about her pregnancy, it is possible she would have given birth to the child.
  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Implied with Doughy's parents. Not only do they act young, they're supposed to be the same age as Stephanie, who, as Reverend Putty's daughter would be significantly younger than most of children's parents.
  • Abusive Parents: All over Moralton. Orel's father is drunk and emotionally and physically abusive, and his mother is neglectful, while Doughy's parents are Highschool Sweethearts that never actually moved past High School.note It may be a deliberate Shout-Out that they strongly resemble Archie and Betty.
  • Accidental Truth: Nurse Bendy, while praising Principal Fakey's maturity to her teddy-bear family, says that "he must be more adulterer than anyone I know!"
  • Activist Fundamentalist Antics: Any group led by Ms. Censordoll falls under this, with her Establishing Character Moment in the first episode.

    Group Member: Are you really going to burn The Bible?

    Ms. Censordoll: Only the Jewish parts. (Tears the Bible in half and tosses one half into the fire)

  • Adult Fear: While a somewhat comedic line, this exchange between Bloberta and Orel provides a sobering look at the effects of alcohol and alcoholism.

    Orel: Well, it's just that, when he drinks, he changes.
    Bloberta: Oh, he doesn't change, Orel! That's just his true nature coming out.

  • Adults Are Useless: Every adult except Stephanie and maybe Nurse Bendy at least as far as Joe is concerned, also Reverend Putty later on in the series. And even Stephanie has some unhealthy qualities like getting a piercing every time she has a thought she doesn't like. Grandpa Puppington tried to avert this, at least with Orel, but Clay forced them to never see each other again after the events of Beforel Orel.
  • Advice Backfire: Constantly.
    • The third-season episode "Innocence" plays into this, as the town agrees to stop giving Orel advice in an attempt to avoid the trope's occurrence.
    • Ironically Putty's advice backfired spectacularly because all of the people tried to pass off Orel to the next unfortunate shmuck, as well as trying to plea with God on a technicality that Orel was just "eavesdropping on them talking to themselves" so they don't end up in hell.
  • The All-American Boy: Orel is a Deconstruction. He's raised to be something akin to the titular character of Leave It to Beaver; a hard-working, patriotic, God-fearing, authority-respecting American boy. But everyone in his hometown is so completely and utterly screwed up, sometimes irredeemably so, that all of Orel's hopes are dashed very quickly. What little he holds on to can be said to be a mask.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: In the Nature two-parter, a deer licked Orel's face like a dog would.
  • Anachronic Order: Most of Season Three takes place before or during the events of the Season Two finale, "Nature"; episodes take place as either flashbacks or as events during / before the fateful hunting trip.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • The blue bird in "Nature"—likely meant to symbolize Orel's innocence, the bird appears in key scenes throughout the first part before flying off at the end of the episode when Orel finally fires off his dad's pistol. It stays missing until the end credits of the second part.
    • Likewise with the flies that appeared in the same episode, symbolizing Clay's desolation. They appear in the end credits with Orel's bird, symbolizing that his innocence has been stained.
    • Florence (a name associated with cows in reference to the character's weight) has a fixation with zebras. Cows resemble zebras in that they both have black and white coats, but the latter is generally thought to be prettier; Florence yearns to be a zebra rather than a cow.
  • Anti-Love Song: Used to great effect to highlight the hate-filled and miserable relationship between Stepford Smiler Bloberta and Clay Puppington with the Mountain GoatsNo Children bookending the episode.
  • Apathetic Teacher: Miss Sculptham's shown to only do the bare minimum of her job, often refusing to "teach" her students about anything after class hours. Like most of the characters in the show, she has deeply-rooted problems of her own.
  • Arc Symbol: Coach Stopframe has rotating crosses to symbolize his constant vacillation between Christianity and Satanism.
  • Arc Words:
    • "There are no accidents."
    • Each episode's title usually ends up littered throughout the episode as Arc Words, though "Nature" is one that has shown up throughout most of the series outside of its origin episode. Most poignantly in "Beforel Orel" as Orel's grandfather's explanation for things (as opposed to God).
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: At the end of his big tirade in the episode "Sacrifice", Clay remarks (well, rather scowls) that it's people like Putty, Dr. Potterswheel and Papermouth that are the reason his son is sensitive.
  • Art Evolution: Season 3's art is a drastic improvement from the art of seasons 1 and 2. For one, the character movement is much more fluid and sometimes quite realistic looking compared to the slightly more stilted movement that the first season had.
    • ”Beforel Orel” is an even bigger improvement, with even more fluid movement, as well as better effects, whereas the effects in the original show looking quite obviously superimposed and cost-effective.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: Rubbing alcohol is vastly different from alcohol made for human consumption. Drinking even a little bit would make you vomit blood, and downing an entire bottle like Clay does in "Nature" would assuredly kill you.
  • Asshole Victim: The No-Holds-Barred Beatdown Joe delivers to his elderly, Alzheimer's-stricken father in "Dumb" should be horrific...except for the implications that Dr. Secondopinionson impregnated Joe's mother (Nurse Bendy) when she was just thirteen, and that his claims that she died in childbirth kept her and Joe apart for years.
  • Auto Erotica: There's a couple of shaking cars parked out at Inspiration Point when Orel goes to visit Christina.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Clay and Bloberta are an unfunny example. Clay's alcoholism, in particular, has ruined both of their lives.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: The infamous hunting trip in both parts of "Nature" although "awkward" is a bit of an understatement.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Averted. After all the crap they've put each other through, Clay and Bloberta genuinely hate one another, and their own children. The only Aw Look moment even vaguely suggested in the show is the fact that Clay tears up for a split-second when talking about the mistakes he's made during a drunken rant. The other residents of Moralton fare little better, though there are enough Pet the Dog moments to keep it from being an irredeemable Crapsack World.
  • Babies Ever After: The Distant Finale shows Orel and Christina happily married with a boy and a baby girl. Also a dog that looks similar to Orel's deceased dog Bartholomew.
  • Bad Future: At some point in the future, Moralton will encompass all of the United States and will be the only landmass on the planet. Damn. Which is exactly how the fundies want it.
    • Coincidentally, despite it being several years into the future, technology has not changed in the slightest. Perhaps a deeper statement of how conservatism can lead to stagnation?
  • Bad Humor Truck: Mr. Creepler, the local ice cream man, is a serial rapist and a pederast. By the third season however, he's revealed to have died in prison.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Happens quite a bit, including in "Satan", "Repression", "Grounded", "Nesting" and "Beforal Orel" where the characters lack genitalia.
  • Bears Are Bad News: In the second season finale, Clay gets drunk, accidentally shoots Orel, and promptly passes out after Orel calls him out. It is only then that a grizzly appears and begins sniffing around the camp. When Clay's drunken sleep-muttering attracts the bear's attention to them, Orel reluctantly empties the revolver into the bear, save himself and his father, but killing the bear.
  • Behind the Black: "Nature" revealed that the opposite side of Clay's study (the one the 'camera' would be in) contains a vast, obvious hallway covered in weaponry. Orel says he never noticed it before, and is given the response "It sort of blends into the woodwork."
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Cleverly subverted. The people of Moralton are all either naive, clueless idiots, vain hedonistic hypocrites, or barely-hidden sociopaths (often more than one), and they're all very deeply religious. But as the series goes on, it becomes abundantly clear that religion has nothing to do with it; the majority of the townsfolk are just self-absorbed scum whose piety is skin-deep and mostly for the sake of appearances. The Reverend is actually one of the nicest and most intelligent people in the town, even though being the shepherd to this particular flock has given him a pretty heavy dose of cynicism.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Coach Stopframe seems to also enjoy getting “intimate” with animals on occasion, such as bringing a dog with him to the bed in addition to three prostitutes in “Presents for God”, and is implied he was gonna do something to the stuffed bear that Orel shot in “Honor”.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: A textbook example, really. Clay is alcoholic who neglects his family, Bloberta spoils the youngest kid, Shapey, rotten (and also cheats on Clay); Shapey is a 7 year old who acts like he's 3 at best, and Orel, despite good intentions and the most 'normal', ends up doing very messed up things just to show his love for god.
  • Black Comedy: Really, really black comedy—with the comedy aspect eventually being ditched in Season Three. The light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. On fire.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Orel raping women with a pastry bag, in order to be able to masturbate in season one.
  • Blipvert: The last episode, "Honor" opens with the very end of the first episode "The Best Christmas Ever" with Orel believing deeply that God will fix everything, and he still has hope, followed by a rapid fire montage of scenes from the series during the one year between both episodes. The montage ends with Orel getting his cast off his leg after being shot in "Nature." showing the extreme contrast of the once innocently faithful Orel one year prior, to the more depressed Orel who's endured innocence shattering events by the end of the series.
  • Blood Bath: The episode "Innocence" sees Orel learn about blood's powers to show one's innocence to Godnote  Lamb's blood on the door for Passover and remain young forever (based on Elizabeth Bathory) in separate conversations with the Christians and Coach Stopframe, as well as seeing him recruit Doughy, Billy, Tommy, and Maryenetta to provide blood for Orel to bathe in. The episode "Grounded" begins with Clay finding Orel in the tub and covered in blood with the other kids around him, bleeding from their wrists. The show itself, however, presents all this in Anachronic Order with the conclusion to these events in "Grounded" being aired first and the set-up in "Innocence" being shown later.
  • Bookends:
    • The Christmas special was aired as the pilot due to a scheduling mix-up; the series' finale is also a Christmas episode (and has a few callbacks to the former, such as the carol "If the Lord Were Alive Today"). Also, the show's opening credits all end with Orel waving up at God/the viewer. The final shot of the series includes Orel's baby daughter waving up as the camera pans out. D'awwwwwwwww.
    • "Numb" begins and ends with the song "No Children" by the Mountain Goats playing. It also begins and ends with a top-down shot of Clay and Bloberta in their beds.
    • "Help" starts with a slideshow of seemingly happy pictures from Clay and Bloberta's wedding. At the end, the camera zooms out on the pictures to show that they're all moments that were ruined by Clay's newfound alcoholism.
  • Bottle Episode: The vast majority of the entire episode "Sacrifice" is set in the bar. Only the very beginning and end take place outside of it.
  • Brainless Beauty: Nurse Bendy. Hidden Depths reveal that being this has also crippled her psychologically. Sadly, she's (dimly) aware of this.
  • Break the Cutie: Orel constantly gets told, directly or indirectly, never to be optimistic about anything. Could be Clay's intent, as a means of justifying his own shittiness by trying to show that Orel's own purity is built on a foundation of sand. Turns out, Orel's faith and purity are both a little stronger than that.
  • Brick Joke: There's a few. Orel bathing in blood and, earlier, declaring he'll "never do THAT with THOSE, in THERE, for that LONG ever again!", and the Lost Commandments.
    • Clay's lousy dead-end job is ultimately revealed to be mayor.
    • In a Freeze-Frame Bonus in "Alone", one of the headlines involving a serial rapist is "This time, it's not Orel!" Though, oddly, the cause for it is a Tear Jerker, we later see the "Papa Bear" from "Alone" tied into his seat.
    • "Nature" and the first few episodes of season three are where it evolves into straight-up Continuity Porn. "Nature" starts with Orel delivering the "never do that with those" line, which is then explained a few episodes later. Said episode ("Grounded") also starts with Orel inexplicably bathing in his friends' blood, which is then explained in the next episode ("Innocence"), which was also the direct aftermath of the ending of "School Pageant", when Orel realized he accidentally got the entire town to sing about how much they hate Jesus, and now thinks he started The End of the World as We Know It, interpreting events from past episodes as signs of the apocalypse. During Orel's Near-Death Experience in "Grounded" there's also a line from "Innocence" of the Reverend saying "You think God can't see into the future?" which plays over events from "Nature", which chronologically takes placeaftereither episode.
  • Brought Home the Wrong Kid: The Posabules actually moved with Shapey. The Puppingtons got their kid back (but didn't switch) about half a season or a whole season away, depending on how you look at it.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Orel to Clay in "Nature." Joe and his father (much more violently) in "Dumb", though this is more due to Joe being furious that his elderly alzheimer-stricken father wants nothing to do with him. Or rather is unable to be the kind of father Joe wants because of his age and his illness with the added revelation that he lied to Joe about his mother and kept the two apart.
  • Catchphrase: Before every Spoof Aesop spouted by Clay, he would find Orel and say a sentence that ends with "In my study." Cue gulping.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down:
    • Subverted. What appears to be a reaction to this is later revealed to be to something much more dangerous.note Not a Cerebus Retcon. Given this series, it was indeed a plot hook, not a case of going back to make what was funny darker.
    • In "God's Chef", Clicky the janitor catches Orel in a bathroom stall—with his pants down.
  • Cerebus Retcon: The Lost Commandments are originally just a recurring gag throughout the first season, but by the third season, it's explained that Clay made them all up, and got the idea from his mother.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Everything from the second half of the second season on. The show dropped any pretense of being a comedy in the third season, after which it's just religious hypocrites torturing each other socially, physically, and mentally.
  • The Chain of Harm: As a child, Clay was abused by his father. As an adult, he abuses Orel both physically and emotionally. Orel ultimately breaks the chain, being a loving father to his own children.
  • Cheerful Child: Orel almost always remains happy and hopeful in spite of everything around him. Downplayed with Block and Shapey, who are only really cheerful when they're spoiled.
  • Chess Motifs: Miss Censordoll has a miniature model of Moralton and its inhabitants so she can evoke this trope. Also to play God.
  • Chocolate Baby: Clay and Bloberta are brunettes. So is Orel. That Shapey's blond is a hint that he might not be Clay's son. He is in fact Coach Stopframe's. Based on that same sort of clue, it's possible Block and Bloberta's brother Lunchbox were also Chocolate Babies.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Averted, and possibly inverted with all the Moralton townsfolk mocking and occasionally reviling Catholicism. As far as the people of Moralton are concerned, only Protestant Fundamentalists are true Christians, while Catholics might as well be godless pagans. And sadly, this isTruth in Television for certain fundamentalists. Notably to the point where speaking the profane tongues of the Necronomicon is still better than speaking in Latin like a Catholic.
  • Christian Rock: A pious heavy metal band named Multiple Godgasm.

    "BUUURN in Heaven!"

  • Christmas Special: Two episodes take place around Christmas, one serving as the Grand Finale.
  • Claymation: The show itself, and Orel's hobby. During the ending credits of one episode, we see Orel, a claymation figure, making a claymation video of himself making a claymation video. A show inside a show inside a show. Becomes a Brick Joke when Orel shows off his show to friends and family, summarizing previous episodes and inadvertently showing their hypocrisies.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: On an episode, Orel was grounded from church for a month. He started seeing churches everywhere, thought everyone was saying the word "church", had very weird dreams and even dressed like a church.
  • Companion Cube: Nurse Bendy has a teddy bear family at home she treats as actual family figures, up to making meals and talking broken child-talk with them. This is due to her loneliness and her feeling that men only want her for sex. Which is why she doesn't take it well when the Hubby teddy accidentally falls on her behind. Later on she is reunited with her real son and chooses to abandon the fake teddy-son for the real thing.
  • Continuity Porn: It's got a surprising amount, considering it's an 11-minutes-per-episode Refuge in Audacity comedy show.
    • The season two finale and all of season three downright revel in it.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: Parodied. Orel starts a detective agency. There are two suspects when the contents of Reverend Putty's collection basket is stolen: Joe the Devil in Plain Sight, and a clearly-innocent Susie. Orel ignores the expensive ice cream Joe has bought, and the fact Susie wasn't even in church at the time, and bases his conclusions on which Commandments they broke (or didn't break): Joe honored the Commandment about keeping the Sabbath Holy by refusing to cut his grandfather's lawn, while Susie broke the Commandment of honoring her parents by volunteering at a retirement center instead of going to church like she was told. If she broke one Commandment, then surely she would be the sort of person to break "Thou shalt not steal".
  • Couch Gag: During most episodes, the opening sequence ends with God tearing the roof off the church and Orel waving to him in various ways.
  • Crapsaccharine World: How things start out, before the facades start to fall.
  • Crapsack World: Especially by the final season. Though it was always crapsack, really. Orel (and the viewer) has just become more aware of it as its mask slipped.
  • Credits Gag: During most episodes, the closing credits run as Orel works on making a stop-motion movie with his toys and a clip of the finished product is shown. In the final episode, once he finishes working, he packs up all his equipment in a box and puts it under the Christmas tree as a present for Shapey and Block.
  • Crying Indian: Parodied with the mascot of Diorama Elementary. The mascot is called "The Vanishing American" and is a stereotypical Indian chief with a teardrop painted on his cheek.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: This was the obvious purpose of Orel's short lived dog Bartholomew, who was killed because he spread too much joy to the townsfolk.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season 3 turned it Up to Eleven by turning the show (which was already dark in its own right) into quite possibly the darkest piece of western animation ever made, prompting the show's cancellation out of Mike Lazzo's buyer's remorse.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Stephanie. Despite her "punk chick" look, she's generally one of the warmest (and easily one of the most sane) citizens of Moralton.
    • Invoked in the episode "Holy Visage", in which the sheltering nature of darkness is mentioned. Unfortunately, the person stating this is a stupid, ignorant teacher referring to the Dark Ages in Europe.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Reverend Putty. To his eternal, bitter ire, it's the only sex he gets.
    • Well, except for that time Orel sent him some "sinners".
    • And he almost got there when Orel's mom came to him, but her request ended up being all he needed.
    • Believe it or not, this was how Stephanie got conceived.
    • The main focus of "God's Chef" when Orel is caught doing it and Putty tells him it's a sin despite the fact he does it all the time.
    • And let's not forget about Reverend Putty having sex with Florence in the episode "Sundays".
  • A Day in the Limelight: Done for most episodes in the second season, and a little bit in the third. Notable examples are "Satan" for Coach Stopframe, "Courtship" for Doughy, "Offensiveness" for Ms. Censordoll, "Be Fruitful and Multiply" for Reverend Putty, etc. A notable third season would be the episode "Alone", one of the darkest which focuses a bit more on Ms Sculptham, Nurse Bendy and Censordoll; the former two were considered more one-dimensional before this episode. Creator Dino Stamatopoulos at one point wanted the show to be called "Moralton."
  • Deconstruction: When you can rival and "beat" the majority of other attempts at a deconstruction and how dark an animated television show can become, and how much you can rip apart every little thing about the "perfection" of the comedic aspects of the show you're watching, you're falling into this category. And indeed, not only is the series as whole a Deconstruction of the Moral Substitute, but most every episode also deconstructs a dubious or tautological Christian Fundamentalist tenet by way of having Orel follow scripture to horrifying - completely logical, but horrifying - conclusions. You might say Moral Orelis a deconstruction ofbiblicalproportions.
    • By the third season the show deconstructs itself, taking many of it's previously two-dimensional Straw Characters and examining just what made them such deeply dysfunctional individuals, while allowing some of them to finally find redemption and personal betterment.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Eventually the show becomes one of these for the very concept of faith and religion, while many of the authority figures and religious leaders in Orel's life are horrendous role models, religion itself was not solely to blame for their issues. The first two and a half seasons are largely dedicated to showing how destructive religious ideology can be when taken to extremes, its dangerous effects are a result of cruel and damaged people misinterpreting it to justify their own actions- but crucially, for characters like Orel and Reverend Putty, they refuse to allow the cruelty of the world destroy their faith in God, (and in Orel's case, his Incorruptible Pure Pureness ultimately motivates Reverend Putty to change for the better) and that faith is ultimately what grants them some measure of personal happiness and salvation instead of giving in to despair and wallowing in misery and self-pity for the rest of their lives.
  • Defenestrate and Berate: Principal Fakey finds out that he has an STD while having sex with Nurse Bendy. He immediately comes to the conclusion that his wife is cheating on him (even though it's obvious he got it from Nurse Bendy). He angrily marches down to his house and throws out his wife and then her possessions while calling her a whore. He has his pants down the whole time.
  • Delivery Stork: There's an entire book out there with stories of this nature to tell children instead of telling them the truth about where babies come from. Clay telling Orel about 'God's chef injecting women with his glaze' to make babies is what sets the main plot of the second episode in motion.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Clay is an interesting case. While he's shown to have relationships with both men and women, he's really only interested in people who give him the time of day, such as Coach Daniel (pronounced "Danielle") Stopframe.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Joe. Though, since he's still a child, it's more of a Jerkass In Plain Sight. He lacks the power to do real damage... for now.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Orel was pretty chipper considering a plot point in season 3 had him standing in a bathtub full of blood let from a bunch of his friends.
  • Distant Finale: The last scene of the final episode skips to Orel as an adult, who was able to raise a fully functional family with Christina. Especially noteworthy is the picture on the wall of Orel's parents. As horrific as Clay was to Orel, Orel's above exiling the old man from his life. There are two other pictures of a fireman and policeman, presumably the adult versions of Shapey and Block.
  • Divine Race Lift: Parodied somewhat where Buddha has the voice and mannerisms of an effeminate southern man.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Christina has invited Orel to Make-Out Point after their parents have forbidden them from seeing each other. They meet up, are ecstatic to see each other, then slowly lower out of camera view while lovingly saying each other's names... then the camera pans down and you see they're praying.
    • On "Alone", Nurse Bendy has one of her bears fall on her upraised rump while she's cleaning a spill, having some milk spilled on her face in the process, which triggers a panic attack.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: Played for LaughsOnce an Episode (the actual threat is never made—we just see Orel pulling up his pants back up). In "Nature", it's Played for Drama. This "humor" becomes less and less funny as the series progresses, even though the "joke" remains the same.
  • Downer Ending: There are so many, but the ends of "Nature", "Sundays", "Alone", and the Christmas Special are especially bleak.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Many of Clay's "aesops" amount to this when correcting Orel.
  • Driven to Suicide: Orel kills himself multiple times in "Grounded" in an effort to meet God.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Clay, "burdened" with a loveless marriage and a "stinking dead-end job", does this constantly.

    (drink) Still hate her. (drink) Still hate her. (drink) Toler-hate her. (drink) ...tolerate her!

  • Dysfunctional Family: An excellent example! Clay is emotionally distant and abusive, his wife is a cleanliness-obsessed basket case who married him for all the wrong reasons, Shapey is seven but developmentally is three, and Orel is the Only Sane Man. For a given value of "sane", anyway.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Up to Eleven. Everyone in Moralton is deeply and profoundly flawed.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: A poster for "The Crucibles" shows up well before the episode featuring them does.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Some season one happenings don't really jive with the rest of the series. The pilot had the use of magic to bring back the dead, and cause a zombie apocalypse. Magic is never used again in the series, aside from some moments regarding faith which fall into Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.
    • Orel impregnating all the women in town was a more out-there moment. Both did get mentions in season 3, with a flashback to the apocalypse, and a newspaper saying that the rapist (Mr. Creepler) wasn't Orel this time. Unreleased plans for the next series may have had Ms. Censordoll using voodoo to control Clay.
    • In the second episode, Clay admits that Orel's latest mishap is really his own fault for not being honest enough, something he'd never even contemplate doing in later episodes. In general, Clay comes off a lot more sincere and well-intentioned in the early episodes, though he's not really any better a person in practice. Orel also behaves strangely in that episode: when Clay tells Orel that God's chef is "a mystical fellow like Santa or Charles Darwin", Orel bluntly tells him, "I'm too old to believe in that stuff, dad"; the Orel of later episodes would never challenge an authority figure so brazenly (his Character Development post-"Nature" notwithstanding), though the Clay of later episodes would also punish him severely if he did.
    • The animation in season one is a bit rougher than the later two, with character movement being somewhat stilted, character’s eyes sometimes not being positioned correctly and makes them look as though they’re staring out into space, and the use of clay around their eyes in certain scenes where they seem to completely wrap around their sockets looks quite off. This was fixed by the next season where it was dialed back to where it was only used for the eyelids, which looked more natural.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The finale. And boy, is it a case of "earning" it. Orel finally escapes the clutches of his parents and grows up to be happily married with a family of his own, while his mother and father continue to be stuck in a loveless marriage.
  • Escapism: Nurse Bendy's room looks like that of a little girl, full of bright colors and toys. She acts out the role of a mother to a loving family with a teddy bear husband and teddy bear son. She does it to escape from being constantly used, being utterly alone, and having no one who really thinks about her thoughts and feelings and treats her like a real person. However, once she is reunited with her actual son Joe, she throws away her "son" doll, because she finally has a real son who cares about her a lot. Very arguably one of the most positive portrayals of anti-escapism in television.
  • Everybody Knew Already: It's revealed some time in the second season that Orel's father Clay is actually the mayor of Moralton... and everyone but Orel and the audience knew it already.
  • Everytown, America: Played straight and lampshaded; notice the obvious generic-ness of "Moralton, Statesota?"
  • Evil Twin: Moralton itself has an "evil" twin in the form of Sinville, which is only a bus ride away and is filled with prostitutes and—to a visiting Orel's horror—Catholics.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In one episode Orel popularizes a song from the point of Judas called "I Hate You Jesus". It becomes a hit in town, and soon everybody starts singing it in church. Orel is at first pleased with its success, but then this trope comes into play as he says, "Wow, everybody sure hates Jesus! Whoops."
    • Reverend Putty echoes this when he tries dismissing Orel's concerns about the song.

      Rev. Putty: What are you talking about? It's hilarious! "I hate you Jesus, you rotten little fink. Your serm"-uh-oh.

  • Fake Crossover: With ''Frankenhole' as seen here.
  • False Camera Effects: The pilot used fake Jitter Cam for dramatic moments, mainly when Bloberta was alone.
  • Faux Yay: Stephanie's best friend from school was this - Stephanie thought it was sincere.
  • Feel No Pain: In "Numb", sexually frustrated Bloberta Puppington starts using power tools as sex toys. Rather than addressing the actual problem, Dr. Potterswheel prescribes painkillers. After he increases the dosage a few times, she's seen humming to herself as her hand catches fire in the course of cooking without utensils.
  • Feuding Families: The Puppingtons and the Posabules hate each others' guts because they use slightly different versions of the Lord's Prayer. Slightly as in "Forgive us our debtors" and "Forgive us our tresspassers." One word. This sticking point also doubles as a "Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate.
  • Fictional Province: The show takes place in the city of Moralton, the capitol of Statesota, the geographic center of the US. (In real life, if you're just counting the 48 contiguous states, it's just south of the Kansas-Nebraska border. Include Alaska and Hawaii, and the geographic center shifts to the western edge of South Dakota.)
  • Flashback: Most of the episodes in season three are flashbacks, or parts of earlier episodes told from the point of view of people that aren't a Puppington.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Parodied with Link McMissuns, the evolutionary "missing link" between apes and humans who Orel thaws out, and is eventually converted to Christianity and becomes a radio talk show host where he argues against his own existence.
  • For the Evulz: Orel in the Halloween episode. He decided that the only thing that can scare him is God—so he methodically breaks all of the Ten Commandments in one day.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Clay and Bloberta marry after one date (and it's kinda hard to call it a date since they just decided to attend a reception together after attending the wedding separately). Subverted in that both of them know they're making a mistake, but they go through with it anyway since Clay wants someone to help him and Bloberta wants to be the one getting married. Poignantly, when asked by Orel why they married, all Bloberta could answer is "Why not?".
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Clay's an asshole because his insanely religious mother raised him like a spoiled prince (because all of her ten previous pregnancies never made it to term because of her constant drinking and smoking which she stopped when pregnant with Clay because she was too preoccupied with praying to God that he would make it) and his father (who was never able to create a good bond between his son due to his wife's constant spoiling and protective nature and never forgave Clay for the prank that led to his wife's fatal heart attack) emotionally shunned his child, to the point of telling him that he wasn't even worth the effort of punishing him physically, which led to Clay becoming a hellion if only to get slapped by his father, which for Clay was the only emotional response he could ever get out of his father. Bloberta, meanwhile, is the unwanted middle child of an emotionally abusive mother who treated her second daughter like an unwanted pet; she became an obsessive-compulsive neat freak to replace her addiction to booze, after introducing Clay to alcohol and watching him become a massive jerk with his first drink.
    • While it does explain much, it's not much of an excuse. Orel's childhood isn't far off from this. Which was likely the point: despite all the bad things that happened to Orel, he still got his life back together. Clay's abuse of Orel is to try to bring his son down to his level, so that Clay can convince himself that he's not responsible for what he's become. This is why Orel's continuing intent to goodness makes Clay even more miserable and hateful; despite all of Clay's cynicism and hate, it's not working.
    • Ms. Censordoll is the way she is because her mother removed her reproductive organs as a infant which might explain why she looks old despite her age.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Orel in the first part of "Nature". Not so much in part two.
  • Frozen in Time:
    • Subverted. The show is (possibly) set in the modern day, yet virtually everything in Moralton looks like it's either the 1950s or very early 1960s. Especially since we don't see any modern tech, not even television.
    • Possibly the only indication that we get of the show being set in modern time is that there is a "metal" band occasionally referenced in the show.
    • Clay DOES mention Lee Harvey Oswald in "Trigger" so the series most likely takes place somewhere during or after 1963.
    • Played straight at the end of "Geniusis"; even after a million years, Moralton hasn't changed a bit.
  • A God Am I:
    • Orel, upon hearing that God is in him (as well as everyone and everything else), starts acting this way, going so far as to pull the plug on a dying woman; granted the woman asked him to do so, but's one of the few times Orel actually outright acts like a jerk.
    • This is how Censordoll acts naturally.

      Censordoll: No mother, I am not holier than thou—but I am holier than you.

  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Orel getting grounded from Church does not go well, resulting in a Room Full of Crazy.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Adult Swim wanted Season 3 to go down the same dark road as the Season 2 finale, "Nature". The episode "Alone" went down that dark road—then it got on the highway, swerved into oncoming traffic, and caused a multi-car pileup. After that episode was screened for Adult Swim executives, said executives cancelled the show and cut its final season down to 13 episodes despite getting exactly what they asked for in the first place. It apparently was that depressing.
  • Growing Up Sucks:
    • In "Maturity", Clay tells Orel that adulthood means doing things that one hates doing. These things would be "dealing with people who make you unhappy, being stressed about things you have no control over and working soul numbing jobs".
    • Joe develops a fear of growing up due to his very old father.
  • Hate Sink: The town of Moralton is set in a Crapsaccharine World where many of the denizens mask their true intentions behind a veil of religious convictions. Of those individuals, these two are the absolute worst:
    • Clay is the abusive patriarch of the Puppington family who insults and mistreats those around him as a means of boosting his self-worth regardless of it being good or bad. He reveals his true colors when he shot his son in the legs and then drinking the rubbing alcohol in the first aid kit. While claiming to have no recollection of the incident, Clay later takes pride in what he did when his son was assisting Miss Censordoll when she was running for mayor. Despite having a sympathetic upbringing in the form of his mother dying when he was a child and his father resenting him for it — and getting goaded into a marriage he did not want — Clay nevertheless refuses to acknowledge his own faults, instead pushing the blame onto others, especially in his attempts of molding Orel into becoming like him.
    • Cecil Creepler is an ice cream man who sells biblical-themed ice cream to Moralton's youth. In Alone, Creepler is exposed as a Serial Rapist who sexually assaulted 7 dark-haired women and later rapes and impregnates schoolteacher Agnes Sculptham when she used herself as bait.
  • "The Hero Sucks" Song: Part of the school play, in which Orel is cast as Judas, is a song-and-dance number about how Jesus is a rotten little fink.
  • High-School Sweethearts: Mr. and Mrs. Latchkey, Doughey's parents. Not only are they high school sweethearts, they still act like they're in high school, wearing the same jock jacket and cheerleader clothes they did twelve years ago.
  • Hilarity Ensues: The usual result of Orel misinterpreting the sermons. (This is nonexistent after the middle of Season Two, though.)
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Played Straight at first, as Orel would get beaten with Clay's belt as punishment for the dumbest of things, but subverted from the Season 2 finale onward.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: Clay ends up going into a massive "The Reason You Suck" Speech directed at both the people around him and at the world at large in order to get a negative reaction. However, they just ignore him. Clay wanted them to hit him; his father only ever showed him attention when he was hitting him.
  • Holier Than Thou

    Miss Censordoll: "No, mother, I am not 'holier-than-thou'. But I AM holier than YOU."

  • Hollywood Atheist: Clay's father.
  • Hollywood Satanism: Subverted, this is what Coach Stopframe had attempted to get Clay to love him, when he took Orel to an actual Satanist gathering, it turns out they were all just a bunch of sloppy hedonists.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In many places; it forms most of the "lessons" Orel learns. A particularly good example:

    Mark Posubule: Forgive your debtors!

    Clay Puppington: Forgive your trespassers!

    Mark Posubule: You owe me a bottle of wine!

    Clay Puppington: Get off my property!

    • In "God's Chef" Reverend Putty tells Orel it's a sin to masturbate and yet he constantly does it himself and it was how Stephanie came to be.
  • Identical Stranger: The Posabule family, Art, Poppit, and Christina, are this to Clay, Bloberta and Orel. The youngest child of each family, Block and Shapey, only act the same.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Often a downright lie. It's usually "I Did What Was More Convenient" or "I Did What Would Get Me What I Wanted", but using this trope as a thin veneer.
  • I Drank WHAT?!: Orel sells his urine as an energy drink to the school's sports teams.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Orel once had an epiphany—but was spanked into forgetting it—when he disagreed with church doctrine about Fluffy Cloud Heaven; perhaps more importantly, Clay has one about his behavior and apologizes for shooting Orel, only to take it back shortly afterward.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Bloberta masturbates with a jackhammer in "Numb". It ends up doing as much damage to her body as you'd expect. At first. Then, she manages to leave it in all night and is still alive when the power runs out hours later.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Provides the page quote with:

    Rev. Putty: You are pure pureness in its purest form!

  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Clay's about to go cheat on Bloberta, so he says he has to "paint the lawn"!
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    • Any advice given to Orel will inevitably be twisted by his bizarre thought process and end up either as Gone Horribly Right or Gone Horribly Wrong. But horribly is the one component you can bet on, to the point where Reverend Putty warns the entire town to stop giving Orel advice under penalty of being sent to Hell. It goes about as wellas you imagine it would.
    • And the setup for this executed a nifty bit of logic twisting too, as the writer of the musical explains to Orel that Judas could be considered a hero of Christianity due to how pivotal he was in the formation of the religion.

      Mr. Armature: If you look at it in the grand scheme of things, it would never be Christianity if it wasn't for grumpy old Judas.

  • Insult Backfire: "Nature Part 2", maybe.

    Orel: I hate you.

    Clay: Hate away, sister. Hate away...

  • In Vino Veritas: Clay. Lampshaded and a source of discussion in the "Nature" and subsequent episodes.
  • Irony: The pilot has Ms. Censordoll forming a "To Burn" pile of books - among which was Fahrenheit 451.
    • Unlike the rest of the Puppingtons and Posabules, who are either an Identical Stranger (Clay, Bloberta, Art, and Poppet) or a Distaff Counterpart (Orel and Christina), Shapey and Block only act alike. This didn't stop the parents from taking each other's youngest child for a good few months and not noticing any difference.
  • Ironic Echo: The episode "Dumb" has Joe responding to any of his half-sister's attempts to discipline him with the declaration of "You're not my mom!" Near the end of the episode, after Joe finds out that his mother (Nurse Bendy) is alive, and that his dad forgot about her due to his Alzheimer's, he asks his half-sister why she didn't tell him. She responds "Why should I tell you anything? I'm not your mom," giving Joe permission to be with his real mom.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: Variant; when Reverend Putty says that the beer goggles Clay has on makes Jesus's crucifixion look like Marilyn Monroe, he glares at Putty and declares that he never drinks beer.
  • Jerkass:
    • Actually, this probably describes everyone in Moralton except for Orel, Stephanie, and Christina.
    • Some characters like Reverend Putty start out this way, but develop into fairly benevolent characters by the end of the series.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In "Loyalty", Clay actually gives Orel reasonable advice for once, telling him not to be loyal to Joe to the exclusion of all his other friends. However, being Clay, he misses the bigger picture and says nothing about Orel beating up other children for being homosexual.
  • Jerk Jock: Doughy's dad. He has the mind of an immature highschooler despite the fact he's an adult.
  • Jesus Was Way Cool: Orel certainly thinks so.
  • Kick the Dog: The townsfolk of Moralton do this quite a lot. Of particular note is putting Orel's dog down because it was causing him to sin—because he loved the dog more than Jesus. They also left a man's wound untreated and infected because it resembled Jesus, and destroying holy symbols is a sin.
  • Killed Off for Real: Mr. Creepler. According to "Alone" he was found dead in his Prison cell, hinting he committed suicide.
  • Lampshade Hanging: At least once for all the running jokes. The most blatant was probably having a throwaway character called Ludwig von Stopmotionanimationname.
  • Larynx Dissonance: Miss Censordoll and Joe's half-sister are both voiced by men. In the case of Joe's half-sister, it's very obvious... when she stops holding her nose.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: One of Orel's hobbies is Stop Motion animation, eventually leading to a Recap Episode done in in-universe Stop a Stop Motion show.
  • A Lesson Learned Too Well: Several episodes have Orel taking what an authority figure says to its "logical conclusion" and doing something bizarre.
  • Literal-Minded: Four year old Orel takes everything at face value in Beforel Orel.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: One of the many, many strains in Clay and Bloberta's Awful Wedded Life is that their youngest son, Shapey, looks nothing like Clay. "The Best Christmas Ever" has the two argue about it directly, revealing that Clay didn't want Shapey because he was convinced Bloberta had an affair, something the entire town knows about. When Clay points out that he doesn't remember conceiving Shapey, Bloberta blames his lack of memory on his constant drinking. It's repeatedly hinted, and later outright confirmed, that Shapey is the result of an affair between Bloberta and Coach Stopframe, who ironically only impregnated Bloberta to get closer to his actual crush, Clay.
  • Manchild: Doughy's parents, who still act like horny teenagers despite having a grade school-age kid (who they regularly neglect so they can make out.) Doughy's father is even constantly wearing his old varsity jacket.
    • Nurse Bendy is probably a better example of this trope in Moral Orel than Doughy's parents, given her living conditions as revealed in "Alone."
  • Marriage of Convenience: "Help" shows that, at the end of the day, Clay and Bloberta's marriage is this. Bloberta's primary motivation for getting married in the first place was because all the other ladies her age were getting married, and she needed to save face (and as an added bonus, getting married could help her get away from her own dysfunctional family). She and Clay met at a wedding reception, and despite numerous warning signs (especially after Bloberta introduced Clay to alcohol), she took the opportunity presented to her. They've both been miserable ever since, but living in ultra-religious Moralton means that there's no way they can get a divorce without taking a severe hit to their reputations.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child!: Played with; Clay's mother, Angela, didn't die in childbirth, but rather died from a heart attack after Clay faked his suicide when he found out he had ten miscarried brothers and sisters, and therefore wasn't really Angela's "precious only living ever." Afterwards, Arthur openly blamed his son for killing his wife, but initially refused to physically punish him because "[he wasn't] even worth hitting." In response, Clay began to goad his dad by claiming Angela dying was Arthur's fault, causing Arthur to hit him in retaliation; this, in turn, led to Clay associating physical abuse with affectionas an adult.
  • Mirror Character: Season 3 makes it increasingly clear that Clay was a lot like Orel when he was a kid and young man, and both were victims of abuse. In the end, Orel manages to become a much better father and husband than Clay.


  • No Name Given: the redheaded boy that hangs out with Orel and his friends. He's always lumped in as 'the rest' or 'the gang'. Even in the commercial promoting Beforel Orel, he's cut off by Orel before he could say his name. But his name was revealed through a cast sheet in "Orel's Movie Premiere". It's Billy. Which may actually explain why his name was never given: the Name's the Same as Billy Figurelli's.
  • Noodle Incident: "I'm never gonna do that in there with those things for that long ever again." Averted after it's explained in a later episode.
  • Not So Above It All: Ms. Censordoll, after Orel gets her favorite food (eggs) banned from the town, goes to the Moralton black market to get her eggs like the rest of the townspeople.
    • Reverend Putty in "Closeface," who bonds with his daughter after finding out that they both have a snarky sense of humor.
  • Not So Harmless Punishment: In "Grounded", when Orel's father Clay walks in on Orel bathing in blood, he grounds him. To Orel's surprise, Clay specifies that Orel is not grounded from playing with his friends; Orel can play outside to his heart's content. Understandably confused, Orel asks, "then what am I grounded from?" It turns out Orel's grounded from church! To a lot of children Orel's age that wouldn't be so bad. But Orel loves church with all his heart and soul, so to Orel, this is actually worse than not being allowed to play!
  • Oedipus Complex: It turns out that Clay has one, something Ms. Censordoll picks up on quickly to manipulate him.
  • Official Couple: Orel and Christina are the most heartwarming couple you'll ever see on television.
  • Older Than They Look: Shapey, Orel's little brother, is seven but he looks and acts three.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The opening of the 7th season 3 episode, "Help", shows the typical images of a wedding. The ending zooms out on them to show how screwed up and unhappy Bloberta and Clay's marriage has been from the beginning.
  • One-Word Title: About half of the first and second season episodes have these, but all of the third season episodes have them.
  • Only Sane Man: Reverend Rod Putty, who is ironically less blinded by so-called faith compared to everyone else as time goes on. His daughter also counts.
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • The last minute of "Turn The Other Cheek", hilariously justified.
    • Orel's father taking a long time and multiple sips before confirming that Orel's special energy drink is urine.
  • Passion Play: Orel's school puts on one of these written by the oft-forgotten member of a band in an attempt to resurrect his career. One of its prominent features is the Villain Song by Orel (playing Judas) about his animosity towards Christ.
  • Parental Neglect:
    • How the Puppingtons and Posabules (minus Orel and Christina) miss for months that Shapey and Block switched places.
    • Doughey Latchkey exemplifies this trope, though, as his parents are stuck in a teenage mentality.
    • Parental Abandonment: Then Poppet does this to Block when she sees he prefers Bloberta.
  • Quarter Hour Short: Each episode is around 11 to 12 minutes a piece, with Nature being a two part episode and Beforel Orel being a full 22 minute special.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Clay explains to Orel the "Lost" Eleventh Commandment which states, Thou shalt be ashamed of thy natural anatomy and that nudity is a horrible thing that should only be committed as a last resort in "The Lord's Greatest Gift".
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Clay tries to act like a well-adjusted adult, but his selfishness, need for attention, and chronic inability to admit when he's done wrong show him to be deeply immature.
  • Rape Leads to Insanity: As shown in "Alone," being raped and impregnated by Cecil Creepler, and then aborting the fetus, has clearly taken a toll on Agnes Sculptham's psyche. Even worse, she seems well aware of how messed up it is that she feels both horror and longing for her rapist.
    • From the same episode, Nurse Bendy is also shown to be suffering mentally due to constantly being taken advantage of sexually by the much older men in town with one encounter when she was only thirteen resulting in her getting pregnant. Her apartment is decorated like a little girl's, and once she steps into it, she literally plays house with a "hubby" and "sonny" bear in order for her to feel some semblance of a normal life. Thankfully, reuniting with her son, Joe, helps her get better.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Clay took Orel hunting when he thought "it was time." After Orel couldn't shoot a helpless (andadorable) deer, Clay started drinking and ended up killing and eating a hunting dog before accidentally shooting Orel and leaving him to deal with the wound as he went to sleep. Orel was forced to kill a bear to save his horrible father, but when Clay woke up, he lied and told him Clay had killed the bear.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Well over half of the episode "Sacrifice" is just Clay giving these to Potterswheel, Papermouth, Putty, religion, love, and the world in general. He was trying to provoke a violent reaction, because the only way he could make his father acknowledge him as a child was by insulting him until he beat him.
    • Joe's narration of the latter half of Orel's movie.
  • Recap Episode: When Orel shows his movies to his friends and family, they are the first three episodes. Subverted in no old footage being reused.
  • Religion Rant Song: "I Hate You, Jesus!" In-universe as Orel performed it at a pageant that required him to play up hostility against the Jesus character. Kinda subverted when Moralton start singing the song, because they just find it catchy.
  • The Reveal: When Oral goes to visit the mayor, he discovers that it's Clay's "lousy, dead-end job."
  • Room Full of Crazy: When Orel is grounded from church in "Grounded", he makes up for it by drawing a crayon church on his wall decorated with various Bible verses, then builds a cardboard church and wears it like a Halloween costume.
  • Running Gag:
    • Ms. Censordoll's protesting and censorship, the "Lost Commandments", the fact Shapey is not weaned off breast milk yet, Clay standing up after beating Orel, which causes his pants to fall because he forgot to put his belt back on.
    • The second and third seasons have Shapey switched with the son of their short term neighbors. Bloberta (who eventually figures it out) and Clay never seem to realize that Block is not Shapey even as Orel tries pointing it out time and time again.

      Orel: Dad, that's not...

    • Clay endlessly complaining about his lousy, dead-end job as mayor of Moralton.
  • Sanity Slippage: Orel in "Grounded" as a result of being forbidden to go to church for a whole month. It gets progressively worse over the course of the episode.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Christina. Her relationship with Orel is rather sweet, but it's tough to define her character without him. Since she's just a female version of Orel, looking and sounding exactly the same, defining her character without him is not really possible.
  • Scary Librarian: Ms. Censordoll. Especially how she looks old, but she's only 40.
  • Self-Abuse: According to "God's Chef", masturbation is a sin worse than murder and a one-way ticket to hell.
  • Sexless Marriage: Clay and Bloberta, despite having children. It stems from the fact that they absolutely hate each other.
  • Shock Value Relationship: "Closeface". In a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, Reverend Putty reveals he was upset because the other girl Stephanie was kissing didn't care for her the way Stephanie wanted.
  • Shoot the Dog:
    • In "Nature," Clay shoots some other hunter's hunting dog, then proceeds to mount its head and eat it like a deer. Granted, he was drunk at the time, but still...
    • Having Orel's dog Bartholomew put down, because the dog was making Orel love him more than Jesus. And annoying the adults.
  • Shout-Out: Among the weapons in Clay's weapon room are two golden guns.
  • Single Malt Vision: Clay assumes this is the case, when we see from his point of view the events from the end of "Nature": he sees Shapey on the stairs, remembers he already passed Block in the living room, then just takes a look at his shot glass before continuing.
  • Single Tear: Orel cries one at the end of Rev. Putty's sermons for most of Season 1.
  • Sleeping Single:
    • Deconstructed; not only do Clay and Bloberta sleep in separate beds, there's a privacy screen between them.
    • Based on appearances, Doughy's parents have separate rooms, though this is more because they're still at the mentality of high schoolers—Kim's bedroom is decorated like a high school girl's. And it has no effect on their sex lives whatsoever.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: At the beginning, Orel is practically in the wrong show, given how naive he is about the world. The world is deeply cynical, and Orel gradually shifts to a more cynical viewpoint as well, especially after "Nature". However, "cynical" for Orel is... admitting to himself that he doesn't respect and revere his father as he feels he ought, and thinking that perhaps, everything isn't as perfect as it ought to be. It's still a deep contrast, though not as extreme.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: You'd expect Orel and Shapey to be sent to a foster home due to the immense abuse and neglect both of their parents give them. Then again, considering this is Moralton, this may be justified.
  • The Sociopath:
    • Clay Puppington is revealed to be a self-loathing alcoholic who shoots his son Orel in the leg during a hunting trip and later proclaims that he was glad that he shot him. He tries to invoke reactions from other people regardless if it ends with him being despised out of a desperate need for stimulation; he lacks empathy and remorse for any of his actions; and before his true nature was revealed, he acted like the stereotypical 1950's father as seen in television.
    • Cecil Creepler, Moralton's ice cream man who tries to get Orel's friend Doughy into the back of his van. He later becomes a prolific Serial Rapist who assaulted eight women one in particular being Ms. Stopham.
    • Miss Censordoll a Knight Templar who has the penchant of burning books and later takes advantage of Clay's Oedipus Complex to get what she wants.
  • Spoiled Brat:
    • Shapey. His parents always order Orel to let him do what he wants, in case he screams and the neighbors hear. He's constantly screaming anyway, so we can see how well that is working out.
    • And Clay, as a child, prior to one of his tantrums leading to his mother's death and the subsequent abuse at the hands of his father.
    • And Block, who's an exact clone of Shapey.
  • Spoof Aesop: The usual result of Clay's talks with Orel in his study take the form of a ridiculous and/or entirely irrelevant lesson. For example, in the first episode, Orel is chastised not for digging up dead people and zombifying them, but for stripping them naked. (He thought they smelled like death because their clothes were dirty.) Similarly, his crack habit earned him a scolding because of all the slang it caused him to learn.
    • There's also the lessons Orel learns at the start of most episodes which fuel his antics, which come to a head in "Innocence" when, after Orel's antics in "School Pageant" result in the entire town singing about how much Jesus sucks, everyone realizes how much of a bad idea it is to give Orel any advice, and actively try to avoid him, resulting in Orel gleaning extremely reluctant bits and pieces of advice from random townsfolk that eventually result in him getting his friends to bleed themselves out into a bathtub so he can bath in their blood and gain eternal youth, making him eternally innocent in the eyes of God and allowing him to go to war and kill without divine consequence. This turns out to be the breaking point for Clay, who doesn't even bother delivering his usual end-of-episode lesson.
  • Stalker with a Test Tube: Stephanie's mother, leading directly to Stephanie's conception.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Orel and his Distaff Counterpart. It works out in the end.
  • Stealth Pun: The plot of the episode "Grounded" revolves around Orel electrocuting himself.
  • Stepford Smiler: Much of Moralton qualifies, but Bloberta stands out in particular. She cleans the underside of floor tiles.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Everyone in Moralton works hard to convince everyone else that things are perfect.
  • Subverted Kids’ Show: Understatement.
  • Suspiciously Specific Sermon: Reverend Putty likes to keep things topical.
  • Take That!:
    • After his movies aren't very well appreciated, Orel concludes that sometimes things are misinterpreted. When asked for an example, he scratches his head with The Bible trying to come up with an answer. Really, the whole series.
    • Ms. Censordoll's full name is Francine Clara Censordoll (FCC).
    • "Orel's Movie Premiere" seems to be one towards us viewers, Doughy calls Orel "Moral" at one point and Dr. Potterswheel asks if Clay molests Orel during the time in the Study... these are Word of God's pet peeves that we the viewers bring up.
  • Theme Naming:
    • Many of the characters have names related to the process of stop-motion animation. Eventually parodied with "Ludwig von Stopmotionanimationname".
    • "Passing" reveals that Clay would have been one of eleven siblings with names starting with the letter C. All of them but Clay were miscarriages.
  • Verbal Tic: The head Satanist tends to say "and what not" in almost every end of his sentences and what not.
  • Villain Song: "I Hate You Jesus" was by far the most memorable song of the school pageant.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Season 3 is one long breakdown for Clay ending with him being rejected by Coach Stopframe.
  • Villain Protagonist: Clay is arguably the main character of Season 3.
  • Visual Pun: "God's Blunders" ends with Orel literally standing on top of a soapbox to deliver the episodes' Spoof Aesop.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Principal Fakey's receptionist (and Jon Secondopinionson's half-sister,) who sounds like a 30 year-old man unless she pinches her nose to sound like a female receptionist talking through a loudspeaker.
  • Wake Up Make Up: Deconstructed. Bloberta wakes up earlier than her husband, grooms herself impeccably, then pretends to go back to sleep. In this show, chances are better than even it's to make him feel inferior to her in one of the few ways she can.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The aforementioned Bad Future and the story about Censordoll wasn't really explained.
    • Executive Meddling. Season 3 was originally going to be 20 episodes, and scripts and animatics had been prepared for all of the episodes—then Adult Swim slashed the order to 13 episodes. This was done after the higher-ups saw rough cuts of the the first couple of episodes, most notably "Alone"—which featured the reveal that not only had one of the female characters purposely allow herself to get sexually assaulted by a rapist in order to have sex, but then be seen performing a coat-hanger abortion upon herself to kill the child conceived by the rape, AND obtain an orgasm as she mentally relives being raped. According to Dino Stamatopoulos, "Alone" got the series cancelled even though its tone was Dino simply following orders to create darker episodes following the success of "Nature". The episode count getting reduced meant that the entire second half of the season had to be aborted (no pun intended), leaving the show with two episodes to deal with the fallout of "Nature", which resulted in a slapdash finale and most of the Censordoll/Clay storyline getting cut.
      • Word of God in online commentary expands on Censordoll's story. In "Alone", it was hinted that Censordoll's mother had her reproductive organs removed as an infant, in a form of female castration. This is what causes her obsession with eggs—and is probably why she aged so badly. As Reverend Putty's sermon in that episode says, we need other people in our lives to remind us we're not the center of the universe (which is what Censordoll believes). In "Nesting", Censordoll withdraws from the election when she realizes she can manipulate Clay's Oedipus Complex for his mother to get the town's egg ban lifted.
      • Dino posted one of the lost episode's scripts online. It can be found here.
    • The series never got around to featuring Arthur, Orel's grandfather and Clay's father, who was only seen in a flashback in Passing. Beforel Orel does redeem this to an extent, but what became of Arthur post-third-season remains unanswered.
    • Orel's illegitimate children in "God's Chef." Dino shrugged it off, "written before continuity was an issue. Also, this show takes place during a very short period of time. I suppose most of them are toddlers by the end of HONOR."
  • Wham Episode: "Nature" stops beating around the bush about Clay, showing just how terrible of a human being he really is, and how abusive of a father he is towards Orel.
  • Wham Line: In "Nature Part 2", Orel to Clay: "I hate you."
  • White-and-Grey Morality: Orel is a genuinely good kid with Incorruptible Pure Pureness. While Moralton has many horrible people (including his own parents), lots of them are sympathetic, most of whom have their own Freudian Excuse. His parents both had issues with their own parents. While Miss Censordoll is pretty awful, she has one of her own (it's hard not to feel bad for her when you learn her mother removed her reproductive system). Reverend Putty is a bit cynical and jaded, but he has his own Pet the Dog moments in regards to Orel and his daughter Stephanie. Joe's a brat who bullies Orel and beats up kissing boys but he's afraid of growing old and didn't know his own mother.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: In a cartoon where everyone has normal hair colors, it's a bit odd that Florence has pink hair.
  • Younger Than They Look: Ms. Censordoll, who's only forty, but easily looks like she's in her seventies or eighties.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Orel lies to Clay when asked if he shot a bear, since he doesn't want to give Clay the satisfaction of making him proud.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Parodied in the first episode - the people are afraid of the zombies because they're nude, not because they're eating brains.


Real Maturity

Clay teaches Orel how to behave like a grown-up.

Example of:
Growing Up Sucks


Orel morel

Well, have you read. A lot. - he suddenly smiled and sat up in bed.

You are such a sweet girl. - Falsely sucked his wife. - Only, you know what. Are there not many, lately, who want to shove this girl. Sasha and Sergei fuck you in all the holes.

Now discussing:

But on the other hand, completely ignoring my mother's hint would also be completely wrong. I also tried to work with the notes, but quickly put them aside and went to my parents. We decided to wait for you, Rita, Dad explained. Of course, we are.

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