Archer (TV series)

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Archer 2010 Intertitle.png
Title card for the first four seasons of Archer.
Genre Action
Black comedy
Format Animated series
Created by Adam Reed
Voices of H. Jon Benjamin
Judy Greer
Amber Nash
Chris Parnell
Aisha Tyler
Jessica Walter
George Coe
Adam Reed
Lucky Yates
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 59 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Adam Reed
Matt Thompson
Producer(s) Neal Holman
Eric Sims
Casey Willis
Bryan Fordney
Running time 19–21 minutes
Production company(s) Floyd County Productions
Radical Axis
FX Productions
Original channel FX
Teletoon at Night
Picture format 16:9 HDTV
Original run January 14, 2010 – present
Related shows Arrested Development
Bob's Burgers
Frisky Dingo
Sealab 2021
External links

Archer is an American animated comedy television series created by Adam Reed for the FX network. A preview of the series aired on September 17, 2009.[1] The first season premiered on January 14, 2010.[2] The show carries a TV-MA-LSV rating.

The inspiration for Archer came to Reed while in a cafe in Salamanca, Spain. Finding himself unable to approach a beautiful woman seated nearby, Reed conjured up the idea of a spy who "would have a perfect line".[3] Reed conceived the show's concept while walking along the Vía de la Plata in 2008.[4] He pitched his idea to FX, which accepted it and ordered six episodes, along with an additional four scripts.[5]

The show's fifth season serves as a revamp for the series, known as Archer Vice.[6][7][8] The format moves away from the Cold War-inspired espionage setting and depicts the characters embarking on a life of crime as they attempt to sell a "literal tonne of cocaine" to reach early retirement.[9] Creator Adam Reed has revealed that the show will "unreboot" for the show's sixth season, and return to the original spy format.[10]



Set at ISIS, the International Secret Intelligence Service in New York City, suave and profoundly self-centered master spy Sterling Archer deals with global espionage; his domineering, emotionally distant mother and boss, Malory Archer; his ex-girlfriend (and fellow ISIS agent), Lana Kane; and his other ISIS co-workers (including fellow agent Ray Gillette, accountant Cyril Figgis, Human Resources Director Pam Poovey, dimwitted secretary Cheryl Tunt, and Applied Research head Doctor Krieger); as well as a code name: "Duchess" (after his mother's deceased Afghan Hound).[11]

Archer Vice[edit]

Title card for Archer Vice.

When ISIS is disbanded by the U.S. government, its former employees take note of a hidden stockpile of cocaine that the agency accumulated from previous operations. They establish a new headquarters in Cheryl Tunt's manor and form a drug cartel, before heading south to sell the cocaine to fund their retirements.[12] Cheryl, who is already extremely wealthy, instead decides to launch a new career as a country singer. Along the way, the group attracts the attention of rival gangs and face problems that arise from the characters adapting to their new roles.[8]

Time period[edit]

The show's time setting is comically anachronistic, deliberately mixing technologies, clothing styles and historical backdrops of different decades. The characters wear 1960s clothing and hairstyles, and many episodes feature references to the Soviet Union as a current nation, yet in the fourth season episode "Once Bitten", Turkmenistan is an independent nation rather than a Soviet republic. It also contains references to Fidel Castro as the current leader of Cuba. The show frequently uses pop culture references which are contemporary to the 2010s, yet character backstories place them at older events — such as Woodhouse's service in World War I, or Malory's involvement in various espionage events of the Cold War era — which would require them to be much older than they are if the show were actually set in the 21st century. The technological sophistication within the series also varies, with characters using dated computer technology (e.g. reel-to-reel mainframe systems, desktop computers resembling very closely the Apple Lisa, dot-matrix printers and punchcards) and making surveillance recordings on cassette tape rather than digitally, but also using modern techologies such as cell phones, GPS devices, laser gunsights and cryptocurrencies. This ambiguity is explicitly recognized in at least two episodes, in which characters are unable to answer when asked what year they think it is.[13]


The show's first season ran from January 14 to March 18, 2010, and the second season premiered on January 27, 2011.[14] The season 1 DVD was released in Region 1 on December 28, 2010. On December 17, 2010 the first season of Archer also aired in Germany on Comedy Central Germany.[citation needed] On March 29, 2011 it was announced that FX Network had ordered a 16-episode third season of Archer.[15] A three episode special dubbed "The Heart of Archness" was aired in September 2011. Ten new episodes from season 3 began airing on January 19, 2012.[16] On February 23, 2012, FX ordered a 13-episode fourth season of Archer[17] which premiered on January 17, 2013.[18] On February 27, 2013, FX renewed the show for a fifth season consisting of 13 episodes.[19] On March 6, 2014, FX renewed the show for a sixth and seventh season, each consisting of 13 episodes.[20]


  • Sterling Malory Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), codename: Duchess, is 184 lb, 6'2", 36 years old, and is considered the world's most dangerous secret agent comparable to James Bond. He is extremely egotistical and self-involved. Though he shows proficiency in stereotypical spy skills—weapons, driving, martial arts—his only real interest in the job is the opportunity to enjoy a jet-setting lifestyle full of sex, alcohol, thrills, lacrosse, fast cars, spy gadgets and turtleneck sweaters.
  • Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler) is the top female agent at ISIS and Archer's ex-girlfriend. A tall, beautiful black woman, she is a competent and deadly agent but is constantly frustrated that she is treated as the number two ISIS field agent because Archer's mother runs the agency. The fact that she is tall and has abnormally large hands are often a source of fodder for jokes at her expense. She is revealed to be pregnant at the end of the fourth season, though the identity of the father is currently unknown, aside from it not being Cyril Figgis.
  • Malory Duchess Archer (Jessica Walter), Sterling Archer's mother and the head of ISIS, is a self-centered alcoholic who regularly hatches half-baked, invariably disastrous schemes to use the agency's resources to her own personal advantage. She has staged a false assassination attempt on a U.N. official to secure a lucrative government contract, called in fake threats to restaurants and air ships in order to get reservations and cabin berths, sent ISIS agents to blow up an oil pipeline in Turkmenistan, murdered the Prime Minister of Italy and tricked the ISIS staff into disposing of the body, assisted a coyote syndicate so she could use the reward money to redecorate her office, and attempted to salvage a hydrogen bomb from the ocean so she could ransom it back to the U.S. government.
  • Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell) is the comptroller of ISIS. Cyril is portrayed as quite competent at his job, but is plagued by a number of personal issues. He is eventually promoted to secret agent, but is incredibly incompetent at that. He was Lana Kane's love interest at the beginning of Season 1, but due to residual trust issues from her relationship with Archer (and her finding out Cyril was cheating on her repeatedly), she refused to call Cyril her boyfriend or say she loved him.
  • Cheryl Tunt (Judy Greer, speaking; Jessy Lynn Martens, singing, Archer Vice[21]) also known as Carol, is Malory's secretary. In the pilot episode, she was portrayed as a lovesick, ditzy secretary frequently taken advantage of by Archer, but that side of her character was gradually phased out as her behavior became more and more unhinged: she has pyromaniac and sadomasochistic tendencies and is often sniffing or swallowing rubber cement. She is also revealed to be an heiress with a fortune of half a billion dollars (it was one billion, but she had to split it with her "stupid gross brother Cecil").[22]
  • Pamela "Pam" Poovey (Amber Nash) is ISIS's human resources director. A gossipy pot smoker who is the brunt of many jokes regarding her weight, she serves as a foil for most of the members of the cast, often calling them out on their zany schemes. Though not a field agent (until season four, episode ten), she is a trained drift car racer and bare knuckle fighter, with over a dozen kills under her belt (represented on her back, along with the third verse of Lord Byron's poem "The Destruction of Sennacherib" in tattoo form). Among her other interests are graffiti, directing amateur tentacle porn, and cock-fighting with Siamese fighting fish.
  • Dr. Algernop[23] Krieger (Lucky Yates) is the head of the ISIS applied research department. He spends most of his time working on projects to facilitate his kinky sexual fantasies. He has had several holographic anime-style girlfriends, and has developed the technology to turn human beings into cyborgs. It is discovered he is possibly a clone of Adolf Hitler, being one of the "Boys from Brazil". He has an affinity for Rush and in one episode is shown to own a drum kit identical to that of Rush drummer Neil Peart.
  • Ray Gillette (Adam Reed) is an openly gay intelligence analyst and one of the few competent members of ISIS. Along with Lana, he serves as the voice of reason on the show. Raised in an impoverished part of West Virginia, he was once an ordained minister, as well as an Olympic bronze medalist in giant slalom. He spent most of season three pretending to be paralyzed after being injured on a rescue mission, but was actually paralyzed following a space shuttle crash at the end of the season. In season four, he receives bionic legs, allowing him to walk again, however in the season four finale, the CPU controlling his bionic legs is damaged, rendering him once again paralyzed in a wheelchair. Gillette appeared only three times in the first season, becoming a regular character from the second onward.
  • Woodhouse (George Coe; Roy McCrery, flashbacks; Tom Kane, Archer Vice) is Sterling's long-suffering, heroin-addicted, English valet, who patiently accepts the unending stream of abuse hurled at him by Archer, in part due to Archer's resemblance to a pilot friend of his from World War I whom Woodhouse had an unrequited crush on.
  • Katya Kasanova (Ona Grauer), fiance of Sterling Archer until her death. Then she is brought back to life by the ISIS head of research Dr. Krieger and made into a cyborg.


Screenshot from the first scene in the "Archer" pilot episode.

Each episode of Archer takes a couple of months to produce following the completion of the script. The show is mostly animated by Reed's Floyd County Productions in Atlanta, Georgia,[24] while 3D background models are made by Trinity Animation in Kansas City, Missouri.[25] Originally, Radical Axis housed the show's animation staff for Season 1, but the crew has since moved to their own facilities close to Emory University.

From left to right: Aisha Tyler, Adam Reed, H. Jon Benjamin, Chris Parnell, Judy Greer and Amber Nash at Comic-Con International in 2010

The artistic style of the series was designed to be as realistic as possible, so the character designers used as much reference material as they could.[26] The character drawings are based on Atlanta-area models; they coincidentally resemble some of the voice actors in the series.[27] As Chad Hurd, the lead character designer for the series, noted, the end result resembles "a 1960s comic book come to life."[28] Television critics have also compared the show's overall visual style to that of the drama series Mad Men,[29] as well as noting that lead character Sterling Archer, in particular, bears a substantial resemblance to Mad Men's protagonist Don Draper.[30] The artwork is also similar to the original Jonny Quest cartoon series penned by artist Doug Wildey in the 1960s.

Stylistically, the show is a mix of several different time periods; show creator Adam Reed described it as "intentionally ill-defined", noting that the show "cherry-pick[ed] the best and easiest from several decades".[27] Numerous plot details arise from contemporary culture, such as affirmative action and sexual harassment complaints.

Archer is influenced by the early James Bond films, as well as OSS 117, The Man from U.N.C.L.E and The Pink Panther,[27] and can be compared to Reed's former shows for Adult Swim, Frisky Dingo and Sealab 2021.[26] Driven by rapid-fire dialogue[31] and interaction-based drama, the series is "stuff[ed]...with pop-culture references"[32] and features an anachronistic style, using fashion from the early 1960s, a mix of 1980s-era and modern technology and a political status quo in which "the Cold War never ended".[27]

Relation to other media[edit]

Arrested Development[edit]

Jessica Walter, Jeffrey Tambor, David Cross, and Judy Greer previously starred in the Fox critically acclaimed comedy series Arrested Development. Since both shows largely revolve around feuds and rivalry disputes between family members, Archer has been described by its creator, Adam Reed, as "James Bond meets Arrested Development".[33] There are also notable similarities between the characters played by Greer, Walter and Tambor. Of particular note is Archer's relationship with his mother, which parallels somewhat Buster Bluth's relationship with Lucille Bluth, including the fact that both sons refer to her as 'Mother' and are still under great parental influence as adults. Judy Greer's character is a "lovelorn secretary",[34] Walter is the wealth-wielding matriarch and Tambor, while not the husband, is her long-lost passion interest and possibly Sterling's biological father as well (which is similar to Tambor's secondary role on Arrested Development, Oscar).[35] Both shows also frequently use callbacks and catchphrases. Walter stated in an interview that she became interested in Archer after her manager sent her the pilot script describing Malory as "Think Jessica Walter in Arrested Development".[36]

Sealab 2021 and Frisky Dingo[edit]

Just as some series voice-actors have worked together previously, notable people on the Archer animation and production teams (such as Adam Reed and Matt Thompson) were also cooperatively involved in several shows for Adult Swim, most notably Frisky Dingo and Sealab 2021. All three shows share similar animation styles; a trademark which initially began with Sealab's cut-and-paste juxtaposition of vintage cartoon clips and modern dialogue, was modernized with computer animation for Frisky Dingo, and continues with essentially unchanged appearances for some characters in Archer. The show also shares numerous stylistic and character development similarities with its two predecessors.[26] One of the supporting characters from Frisky Dingo, Mr. Ford, makes a cameo appearance in "Drift Problem", the seventh episode of Season 3 of Archer, repeating one of his Frisky Dingo catchphrases ("My ass is everywhere.").

Additionally, the season 4 finale (Sea Tunt: Part II) included a nod to Sealab 2021 (a show that series creator Adam Reed previously worked on[37]), featuring an underwater research laboratory with an insane commander named Captain Murphy (Sealab 2021 revolved around an underwater research laboratory with an insane commander named Captain Murphy). The character bore a heavy resemblance to the aforementioned Sealab 2021 character both in appearance and mannerisms. He is later killed by an off brand soda machine, which is the central plot of an episode of Sealab 2021. As a tribute to Harry Goz, the actor who played Captain Murphy in Sealab 2021, the soda machine dispenses Goz soda in the Archer episode.[38][39]

Bob's Burgers[edit]

The fourth season opening scene had Archer working in Bob's Burgers, under an assumed identity, as well as featuring a cameo by John Roberts as Linda Belcher. The opening action sequence also paid homage to the Viggo Mortensen movie A History of Violence. Both shows share H. Jon Benjamin as their lead voice actor (Sterling Archer and Bob Belcher).[40] The two-part season finale of season four also stars Bob's Burgers actors Eugene Mirman as Cheryl's brother Cecil Tunt and Kristen Schaal as his girlfriend.[41]


The FX series Chozen is a collaboration between the producers of Eastbound & Down and the producers of Archer.[42]


The show has seen positive reviews, scoring a 78/100 on Metacritic for its first season, 88/100 for its second, indicating "universal acclaim", 75/100 for its third, and 80/100 for its fourth.[43] Entertainment Weekly called it a wittily raunchy spy spoof,[44] and the Miami Herald referred to it as "a millennial (and very much R-rated) Get Smart that acerbically and hilariously plays on our post-9/11 fears that 'U.S. government intelligence' might be a grim oxymoron."[45] The show has been nominated for a 2010 Emmy and a 2012 Annie Award.[46][47]

DVD release[edit]

DVD name Region 1 release date Region 2 release date Region 4 release date Blu-ray release date Episode count Discs Additional content
Season 1 December 28, 2010[48] May 2, 2011[49] March 2, 2011[50] December 27, 2011[51] 10 2 An allegedly unaired Archer pilot titled Archersaurus (essentially the first episode with Archer replaced by a human sized velociraptor), an unaired network promo, deleted scenes, a six-part "The Making of Archer" featurette, bonus episodes from The League and Louie.
Season 2 December 27, 2011[52] May 7, 2012[53] February 29, 2012[54] December 27, 2011[55] 13 2 Archersaurus - Self Extinction; Ask Archer; Semper Fi; L'espion Mal Fait; ISIS infiltrates Comic-con.
Season 3 January 8, 2013[56] March 13, 2013[57] January 8, 2013 13 2 Commentaries on "El Contador", "Drift Problem", and "Lo Scandalo "; extended version of "Heart of Archness"; Audio Book Fail; Cooking with Archer; and trailer for Gator 2
Season 4 January 7, 2014[58] February 5, 2014[59] January 7, 2014 13 2 Fisherman's Daughter; and Archer Live!


How to Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style and Women and Also Cocktails Ever Written (ISBN 9780062066312) a how-to book "written" by Sterling Archer was released January 17, 2012.[60]


In 2010, H. Jon Benjamin was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voiceover Performance.[61] On July 17, 2010, Archer won the NewNowNext Award for "Best Show You're Not Watching".[62] Archer was nominated for and won Best Animated Comedy Series at the 2012 Comedy Awards.

Archer was also nominated for Best Comedy Series at the 2011 Critics' Choice Television Awards. It won the 2012 Critics' Choice Television Award and 2013 Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Animated Series.[63] It was nominated for Best General Audience Animated TV/Broadcast Production in the 41st Annie Awards.


  1. ^ Toomey, Johnathon (2009-11-16). "FX quietly plans sneak-peek of animated Archer". TV Squad. Archived from the original on 2010-02-13. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  2. ^ Joyce Eng. "FX Sets Midseason Schedule". 
  3. ^ Brophy-Warren, Jamin (2010-01-11). "New FX Series "Archer" Puts an Animated Twist on the Spy Genre". Wall Street Journal. 
  4. ^ "Jan. 14 Thurs. 10 PM". FX Network. p. 4. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  5. ^ Zahed, Ramin (2009-08-18). "FX Orders 6 Episodes of Archer Toon". Animation Magazine. Archived from the original on 16 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  6. ^ David Sims (12 January 2014). "Archer shakes everything up (for the better)". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 14 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Archer Season 5 episode list". Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Salisbury, Brian (12 January 2014). "'Archer' Season 5: A Few Secrets Declassified!". One of Us. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Frederick, Brittany (13 January 2014). "'Archer' Season 5 Preview: Big Changes For The Hit FX Comedy". StarPulse. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Collis, Clark. "'Archer: Vice' R.I.P.? Creator reveals plans to 'unreboot, or whatever' next season". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "FX Official Site: About the Show". FX. Retrieved December 8, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Archer season 5 to take inspiration from Breaking Bad as ISIS disband to sell drugs". Metro. 8 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2014. 
  13. ^ Season 3, Episode 8 Lo Scandolo, 2:03
  14. ^
  15. ^ Ward, Kate. "It's official: 'Justified,' 'Archer' renewed at FX". Inside TV. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 29, 2011. 
  16. ^ Nehra, Pete. "Aiesha Tayler on Sklarboro Country". Interview Podcast. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  17. ^ Surette, Time. "FX Renews Archer for Season 4". CBS Entertainment. Retrieved February 23, 2012. 
  18. ^ Nova, Sasha. "Archer season 4 Premier Announced". Retrieved November 29, 2012. 
  19. ^ Nicholson, Max (February 27, 2013). "FX Renews Archer for Season 5". Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  20. ^ Kenneally, Tim (March 6, 2014). "FX's ‘Archer’ Renewed for 2 More Seasons". The Wrap. Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  21. ^ Abbott, Jim (March 6, 2014). "Jessy Lynn Martens of Orlando is musical voice for 'Archer'". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 9, 2014. 
  22. ^ Archer, Season 2, Episode 10.
  23. ^ tie-in book How To Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style and Women and Also Cocktails Ever Written by Sterling Archer, p. 27
  24. ^ "Archer Crew". FX Network. Archived from the original on 31 December 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  25. ^ "Local Animators Ready for Cable Debut with 'Archer'". FOX4 News. January 5, 2010. 
  26. ^ a b c Exclusive: Adam Reed On The Origins Of FX's 'Archer'
  27. ^ a b c d Reed, Adam (2011-02-24). Interview with Vlada Gelman. The A.V. Club,52336/. Retrieved 2011-02-24.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. ^ Hurd, Chad (2009-11-21). "Hey Everyone!". FX Network. Archived from the original on 1 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  29. ^ "Spy Spoofing in Archer". Animation World Network, January 14, 2010.
  30. ^ "FX spy satire 'Archer' a bull's-eye". New York Daily News, January 14, 2010.
  31. ^ Miller, Michael (2011-01-25). "Spy guy Archer returns in TV’s saltiest show". Toledo Free Press Star. Retrieved 2011-03-04. 
  32. ^ Tucker, Ken (2011-01-27). "'Archer' season premiere review: Is this the best (adult) cartoon on TV?". Ken Tucker's TV. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2011-03-04. "Creator Adam Reed and his collaborators stuff every half-hour with pop-culture references that zip by as quickly as Archer’s snow-mobile did this evening." 
  33. ^ Levin, Gary (July 16, 2009). "FX's 'Archer': Bond meets 'Arrested Development'". USA Today. Retrieved Sep 15, 2010. 
  34. ^ Lee, Allyssa (Jan 6, 2010). "Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter to Reunite on 'Archer'". TV Squad. Retrieved Sep 15, 2010. 
  35. ^ Ausiello, Michael (Jan 5, 2010). "Exclusive: 'Arrested Development' reunion coming to FX (but there's a catch)!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved Sep 15, 2010. 
  36. ^ "Jessica Walter PCM interview". Pop Culture Madness. Retrieved December 18, 2011. 
  37. ^ Archer's Adam Reed
  38. ^ Archer, Season 4: Jon Hamm’s deadpan brilliance and an intense underwater escape make for the perfect season finale.
  39. ^ Archer Season Finale Review: TEOTWAWKI in Sealab 2021
  40. ^ Next 'Archer' season will include a 'Bob's Burgers' crossover episode -- EXCLUSIVE
  41. ^ The Futon Critic - Listings: Archer, S4E12
  42. ^ "'Chozen' Is FX's New Animated Gay White Rapper - Premiere". Rolling Stone, December 16, 2013.
  43. ^ "Metacritic reviews". 
  44. ^ Collis, Clark. "EW Archer review". Entertainment Weekly. 
  45. ^ "Miami Herald Archer review". 
  46. ^ "IMDB: Primetime Emmy Awards". 
  47. ^ "IMDB: Annie Awards". 
  48. ^ Archer - Season 1 DVD Information |
  49. ^
  50. ^ Archer - The Complete Season 1 (2 Disc Set)
  51. ^ Archer - Season 1 DVD Information |
  52. ^ Archer - Season 2 DVD Information |
  53. ^ Archer - Season 2 [DVD] [NTSC]: H. Jon Benjamin, Judy Greer, Amber Nash, Chris Parnell, Aisha Tyler: Film & TV
  54. ^ Archer - The Complete Season 2
  55. ^ Archer - Season 2 DVD Information |
  56. ^ Archer DVD news: Announcement for Archer - Season 3 |
  57. ^ Archer - Season 3 JBHIFI
  58. ^
  59. ^ "Archer Season 4 on DVD". EzyDVD. Retrieved December 28, 2013. 
  60. ^ "How to Archer: The Ultimate Guide to Espionage and Style and Women and Also Cocktails Ever Written By Sterling Archer". HarperCollins. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  61. ^ 2010 Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Voice-Over Performance
  62. ^ 2012 NewNowNext Awards | Vote for Everything New, Now and Next in Pop Culture | Logo TV Awards
  63. ^ "NBC, 'Community' top Critics Choice Awards - Entertainment News, TV News, Media - Variety". Variety. 

External links[edit]