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Love is a very beautiful, very intense feeling for a startlingly short period of time. Before long you realize it gets in the way of the real important thing in life like going to sleep or being left alone. That's when love starts to fade and lies kick in.
~ Clay Puppington to his son Orel about love.

Clay Puppington (born January 4, 1965) is the main antagonist in the show Moral Orel.

He is the abusive, alcoholic father of Orel Puppington, stepfather of his wife's second son Shapey Puppington and the unofficial adoptive father of Block Posabule. His wife is Bloberta Puppington. He frequently complains about his 'lousy, stinking dead-end job', which is revealed in the penultimate episode Nesting to be the Mayor of Moraltown.

He was voiced by Scott Adsit, who also voiced the Shamrock Bear in Robot Chicken.

Biography

The Best Christmas Ever

Clay's first noteworthy role is in the Season 1 finale, where Clay, finally tired of faking a love and happy married life with his wife Bloberta (and sparked by the Christmas message of Joseph accepting Jesus as his son) angrily demands to know from her who has "been inside" her, knowing that Shapely is not really his son. Disgusted and as equally hateful of her spouse, Bloberta coldly tells him she wants a divorce. Clay is happy to oblige and storms out, the family ruined on Christmas day.

It is revealed in the next season that ultimately Clay did stay with Bloberta because his (and all of Moraltown's) religious nature frowns upon it, and stays with her to keep up appearances. Rather than smooth things over however it only makes Clay worse.

Nature

The Season 2 finale begins with Clay spanking his son Orel, a common occurrence. Orel inquires about Clay not lecturing him more about whatever he did to earn this spanking, which is not specified in the episode. Orel looks up at a deer head Clay has presumably mantled himself. Clay begins staring at it too, and decides its time for him and Orel to go on "the father son hunting trip", which is a Puppington tradition despite Orel not being happy about the hunting part of the trip. Clay takes Orel down a hallway of all the weaponry Clay owns, showing off some specific guns and explaining why hunting is necessary, explaining it as "mercifully saving animals from nature's cruelties." Orel and Clay get to a gun named "Ol' Gunny", which is part of a Puppington tradition, where the father of a Puppington household would pass down the gun to the first born son. Clay decides to not give Orel "Ol' Gunny", instead giving him a regular pistol.

A week later, Clay and Orel go on their hunting trip. During the drive Orel tries to start conversation but Clay immediately shoots it down by turning the radio on. As soon as they get there Clay starts drinking immediately, and it is revealed he has packed several bottles of alcohol. 

During the hunt Orel has trouble bringing himself to kill animals. This agitates Clay and he begins to drink heavily. Eventually a deer licks Orel, causing Clay to pull Orel away stating "Never fraternize with the enemy". Orel and Clay argue about shooting the deer, with Clay arguing that its miserable because it lives in nature, and Orel believing that it looks perfectly happy. Clay then shoots the deer, which upsets Orel. Clay states that he 'wins' and then decides to shoot someone's hunting dog, trying to claim it is a rabbit.

Clay mid-rant in "Nature: Part 1".

By now heavily drunk, Clay cooks and eats the dog. Orel states that he is hungry, but Clay does not let him eat any of the dog because Orel did not kill it. Orel asks if Clay packed any food, but Clay states that they are surrounded by food, and questions why would he 'pack legless food'. Orel muses he should probably hunt something, but decides against it, stating that his dad is maybe "too drunk to hunt". This leads Clay into a a long, drunken rant about how 'drunk is nature', how he hates himself, and how women pull men in and trap them into a relationships. He screams at his bottle, asking why it doesn't work anymore, while slowly being covered in locusts. This ends with Orel firing the revolver he was holding, ending Part 1 of the episode.

Part 2 opens with Orel asking his father if he's okay. Clay however laughs, enraged that Orel has accidentally shot his last two bottles of liquor, remarking that its the only thing he has shot since they started the trip. For the first time, Orel confronts him, telling him he becomes a bad person when he drinks. Clay then tries to spank Orel, but has trouble taking off his belt and falls onto the tent, sobbing and flailing his legs. He grabs his rifle stating it's time Orel 'become a man', and while holding the rifle in random places accidently shoots Orel in the leg. He denies his responsibility, putting the blame on Orel himself, saying he should be more careful next time. Orel states that it hurts, and Clay replies that its supposed to, calling pain 'Nature's spankings.' He then says he needs to make a tourniquet, ripping Orel's lucky shirt, upsetting him further. Clay then states that his lucky gun trumped Orel's lucky shirt. Orel states that he has some disinfectant in his bag, which angers Clay because he had told Orel not to bring first aid. Clay than takes out some rubbing alcohol, and drinks it all, as Orel watches in disbelief. Orel, completely disillusioned with his father, calmly and flatly tells him he hates him. Clay retorts with 'Hate away, sister. Hate away' before passing out.

A bear then shows up to the campsite, attracted to Clay mumbling in his sleep. Orel apologizes to the bear before shooting and killing it.

Orel and Clay post hunting accident in "Nature part 2."

In the morning Clay wakes up and sees his son disheveled. Rather than try help him he simply demands his sleeping bag so he can block out the light. During the afternoon when Clay has woken up fully Orel reminds his father he shot him (Clay protests his innocence on the grounds he doesn't remember it). Clay then spots the bear Orel shot lying in the campsite and, daring to believe his son made him proud and killed an animal, asks Orel if he shot it. Rather than please his father however Orel coldly lies and tells Clay that he shot it, leaving Clay visibly disappointed. Clay ends the hunting trip by taking Orel to Dr. Potterswheel, the town doctor, because he is good at "keeping his mouth shut and doing his job".

The episode ends with Orel bedridden and asking his mother, Bloberta, why she married Clay. Bloberta can only reply with "Why not?" Orel tells her that 'when he drinks, he changes'. Bloberta however shrugs it off, simply stating "He doesn't change, Orel. That's just his true nature coming out", and she hastily walks out of Orel's room.

Numb

Clay, laying in his separate bed next to Bloberta, at the end of "Numb."

Clay is not seen until the end of the episode, and it is revealed while drunkenly stumbling through the house he overhears Orel asking Bloberta why she married him, and his statement that he changes when he drinks. The conversation ends again with Bloberta dismissing it as Clay's nature, and then we see what happens when she leaves Orel's bedroom - she breaks down crying in the hallway. Upon noticing Clay, she stops crying and coldly returns to their bedroom. Clay follows her and lies down in the same position as her in their separate beds, contemplating their shattered marriage divided by a tall black board.

Help

Detailing how he ended up married, the episode is told from Bloberta's perspective. It's revealed Clay and Bloberta met at a relative of Bloberta's wedding. Feeling cut off and distant from her family and desperate to fulfill what she sees as her duty to become a wife and have a family, she introduces Clay to alcohol, manipulates him into feeling dependent on her, and eventually marrying her (right before the ceremony has even finished however it is shown that Clay's newfound alcoholism and womanizing have ruined the marriage before it even begun).

Passing

A twelve year-old Clay as he appears in "Passing."

The second episode detailing Clay's past, it is revealed Clay had a a non-religious father, Arthur, and a religious fanatic mother, Angela who deemed Clay 'her one and only ever.' Clay is spoiled rotten by Angela on account of her having suffered ten previous miscarriages, due to smoking, alcohol and other lifestyle choices. When he finds out there was originally ten children before him, he is devestated as he feels he is not Angela's "one and only ever" anymore.

In revenge Clay fakes his own suicide as a prank, causing Angela to have a heart attack and die. When he finds out, Clay's father Arthur gets ready to strike Clay with the back of his hand, before eventually deciding against it, coldly telling Clay "You're not even worth it." This led to Clay learning to assossiate physical abuse with affection, and only furthered his path as the dependent, attention-craving abusive narcissist his mother's coddling and suicide helped create. A montage is shown of Clay doing actions and saying things that would anger his father enough to strike him, sometimes stating "Am I worth it now?" 

Arthur describes how passing down a gun called 'Ol Gunny' is a family tradition, which he can be seen trying to pass down to Clay near the beginning of the episode. But after Clay's prank leads to Angela's death, he refuses to pass down the gun to Clay. Clay however, promises Ol Gunny he'll "keep the tradition alive".

Sacrifice

In the present day, Clay decides to forgo church with his family on Easter, instead going to the local bar. Bitter, angry and resentful at the world, he rants to the bartender and other people showing up at the bar that he has sacrificed so much for his family. It eventually dissolves into a drunken rant against the world, woman in particular, diminishing them as just a trophy for a man to grab, show off, and defend from other man. It becomes evident that underneath the abusive father and worthless husband Clay is just a lonely, insecure, pathetic man desperate for any kind of attention, no matter who he has to hurt in the process or how negative attention it is. He attempts to start a bar-brawl, but cooler heads prevail and everyone at the bar abandons Clay to wallow in his self-pity alone.

Honor

In the series finale, Clay is shown to be at the local pub Forgetty's talking to Coach Stopframe about how Orel got in the way of things in the hunting trip, and Clay finally starts to realize that Coach Stopframe has had feelings for him for years (ironically, this also happens to be the moment where Stopframe finally begins to become disillusioned as see Clay as the abusive, drunk narcissist he is). Just as they're about to kiss, Ms. Censordoll shows up and controls Clay into kissing her.

Later in the episode Clay, by this point desperate to mold Orel into something similar to himself (perhaps to justify to himself and others around him that any child with as bad a childhood as Clay would end up exactly like him) uses one of the commandment "Thou Shalt Honor Thy Father" to try and keep Orel under his foot. Orel, no matter how hard he tries however, can't find anything honorable about Clay.

Stopframe starts hanging out with Orel, who suspects and finally confirms that Stopframe has (or rather, had) feelings for Clay. Orel asks Stopframe what there is honorable about Clay, and all Stopframe can respond with is that since Orel exists because of Clay, that's at least one honorable thing that came from him. Clay however begins to suspect that Stopframe and Orel are spending time together and begins spying on them.

His suspicions confirmed, Clay's jealousy comes to a head on Christmas Eve. He demands that he and his family go Christmas Carolling at Stopframe's house (where Orel is staying). Spotting Orel, Clay becomes enraged and accuses Stopframe of raping his son to get to him. At the same time, he admits that it worked, because now Stopframe has "got to him". In full villainous breakdown mode, Clay sobbingly tells Stopframe that he loves him. Stopframe however finally sees Clay for what he is, and rejects him. Clay, heartbroken and fully defeated, silently returns home with the rest of his family.

By the time Orel becomes an adult and has a happy life, Clay is shown getting old, still in a miserable marriage with Bloberta, and the consequences of his drunken, abusive, narcissistic nature finally caught up to him. He is seen completely miserable, alone and unloved by anyone except by cold, distant obligation.

Trivia

  • In general, Clay serves as a reflection of what Orel could have become if he allowed his bitterness and hatred to consume him and didn't acknowledge his mistakes nor try to learn from them. From Clay's perspective, he tries doing exactly that, showing that any child that has an abusive and unhappy childhood is destined to end up as bad as him. But as Orel begins to recover and constantly prove himself the bigger person, the entire third season ends up serving as one big villainous breakdown for Clay.
  • Clay's abuse of Orel and the rest of his family also serves to show how on account of Arthur refusing to beat him in "Passing"' and telling him "You're not even worth it.", Clay came to associate physical abuse with love.
  • Between his drunken rant in "Sacrifice", his associating physical abuse with love and his hurt that Bloberta cheated on him and Shapey isn't his, it is possible that somewhere Clay did at some point have a genuine love for Orel, Bloberta, the rest of his family and even Stopframe right at the end of the last episode, but his own nature prevented him from ever showing or acting on it. Whether or not Clay is capable of love and genuine human feeling or any of it he shows is a ploy for attention however is ambiguous.
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