sitcom cliche thread

Hello, all. I was a frequenter of this message board years ago, but haven’t been here in a while. The reason I’m back is that my friend and I have been talking about how lame most sitcoms are, and how either one of us can see every gag coming a mile away. I remembered a thread here–it had to be years ago–that consisted of nothing but sitcom cliches. So I did the old “trial membership” so I could search for it. But, I don’t seem to be able to.

Am I doing something wrong, or am I missing something?

Anyway, some of the cliches I do remember from the thread are these:

Character badmouths another character, who is not present. In the middle of the insults, the one being insulted walks in and stands behind the insulter. Soon, the insulter is required to say, “He’s standing right behind me, isn’t he?” and hilarity ensues.

Character storms out of apartment in a tizzy, then has to come back in to retrieve his/her umbrella or coat or something. Hilarity ensues.

There were dozens of others. If anyone can help me out as to how to find the original, I’d be grateful. Or, we could start a new one.


Character A is trying to convince character B to go somewhere (doesn’t matter where…it could be a ballgame, a dance, Tahiti, a fishing trip, whatever). Character B refuses to going, emphatically and repeatedly saying. “No, absolutley not, I’m not going and that’s final.”

The scene then cuts to character B at the fishing trip/Tahiti/ballgame/dance. Cue canned laughter.
Another one. Two or more characters will be discussing a plan or a scheme which requires somebody to do something wild and wacky. One character will wonder aloud where they could ever find somebody that stupid/crazy/wacky. The show’s resident stupid/crazy/wacky character the enters stage right spouting his/her catch phrase. Cue canned applause which seques into canned applause.

Common sit com plot clich’es…

Surprise party
Boss/mother in law/ other coming to dinner/social event
Wacky Money making schemes
Misheard/misinterpreted over heard convo… Character A is talking about getting rid of a pet… character B overhears and thinks he is the “… smelly, tired, and just too much trouble, and has to go…”
it is a long list…

I was going mention a few more but I decided it would just be easier to link to this list instead.

That’s My Bush put that to great use involving Laura thinking George wasn’t
attracted to her, George deciding to have the pet cat put to sleep and releasing
Dr. Kevorkian to do it.

If someone is pregnant they will give birth anywhere except the hospital, another character, specifically not a doctor, will deliver the baby, usually in about 3 minutes.

Two characters who don’t normally get along are handcuffed together or trapped together in a closet or meat locker. They come to some understanding about each other, which of course vanishes as soon as the handcuffs come off or the door opens.

Lately I’ve noticed every sitcom that features/is aimed at tweens or teens has the obligatory “egg baby/flour baby” episode. One or more of the characters receives a school assignment to take care of an egg, a bag of flour, or an animatronic baby doll as though it was an actual infant for one week, and fails to do so in some hilariously implausible way.

During the 70’s especially, one of the main characters had a signature line that was suitable for marketing on tee-shirts, lunch boxes and such. (Dyn-o-mite! / Aaaaaaayyy! / What you talkin’ bout Willis?)

Once the youngest members of the cast have traded their original cuteness for the awkwardness of puberty, a newer, younger and cuter child joins the group. If the new member is the offspring of the show’s parents, s/he will undergo a remarkable (and often preposterous) growth spurt during the off-season.

During the 70’s and 80’s each series had to have at least one “Very Special Episode” during which the laffs were put aside for a sobering examination of one of society’s ills du jour. (drugs / alcohol / pedophilia) Diff’rent Strokes remains the all-time champ in this category.

You’re not doing anything wrong. Guests can’t search, it is one of the things that make signing up worth it.

The Wacky Neighbor. I hate the Wacky Neighbor.

As examples: Kramer (Seinfeld), Urkel (Family Matters), Larry/Mr. Hurley/The Ropers (Three’s Company), Joe Isuzu (Empty Nest).

Wacky Neighbor can always be counted on to walk through the door when things are slow or… relatively normal.

*Wacky Neighbor * is almost always someone I find incredibly annoying, cliched, and one-dimensional. Did I mention annoying? Seriously, Urkel? This guy is supposed to be funny?

That is not to say, however, that any of those shows would have been great masterpieces without the Wacky Neighbor.

If the main characters are wacky, they can instead have a normal neighbour to counter-part them (Married With Children).

Don’t forget the inevitable “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Carol” Very Special Episode.

This didn’t just involve sitcoms, but about 25 or 30 years ago, it seemed every series, including The Incredible Hulk and The Hardy Boys had an episode involving an airplane where the pilot became incapacitated and the hero of the series had to land the jumbo jet. I only remember this because the little boy I used to babysit back then *loved * these shows, so I got to see them all…

Not just signing up—paying up.

The other alternative, if you’re a guest, is too see if you can get one of the paid-up Dopers to search for you.

I couldn’t find anything specific to sitcoms, but it’s possible you’re remembering Those annoying cliches in movies and TV shows or TV show cliches, or that the thread you’re thinking of is so old that it’s no longer available.

Sit coms have one over riding thread. The woman is mature and quietly holds the house together. The man is an immature idiot and would self destruct if he was not quietly controlled by a woman . Sienfeld was an exception.

As was Arrested Development.

And The Brady Bunch, Leave it to Beaver, The Cosby Show, Full House, Family Ties, Growing Pains, Roseanne, Reba, and Family Matters.

And Will and Grace, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Too Close for Comfort, Three’s Company, I Dream of Jeannie, The Golden Girls, Cheers, Newsradio, Friends, Father Ted, Becker, Get Smart, That '70s Show, WKRP in Cincinnati, Coach, The Office, Sports Night, 30 Rock, I Married Joan, I Love Lucy, Dharma and Greg and The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.

Not to mention Gilligan’s Island, Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, Mork and Mindy, My Three Sons, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Get Smart and Hogan’s Heroes.

Your “over-riding thread” is nowhere near a universal rule, just an unfortunate blip in the current writing rooms.

And the man is always a schlub, and the wife almost always hot!

Friendlyguy: Welcome back, but I’m afraid that things have changed since you were last here. For one thing, we do not allow multiple user names (actually, we never did.) If you will email me with your old username, we’ll get things fixed up for you. You can choose whichever you want, the old one or the current one, but only one.

And the main thing that’s different is that we now charge a small amount for posting, after the first month (where we allow posting as a “guest.”) Please see the Registration Agreement and the thread Why we require subscriptions and how to subscribe. You’ve been around before, you had your free month whenever it was, so you’ll need to pony up the $14.95 to stay with us. Sorry about that, but times change and nothing stays still, certainly not on the internet.

Welcome back!

Cosby and Rosanne fit. I also go to Tooltime, Jim Baluchi sit com, All in the Family, Munsters, Ozzie and Harriet, Honeymooners, Jeffersons The list goes on. No blip.

But where do you draw the line between cliche and reality? High school health classes do give kids egg babies and flour babies and the results are frequently hilarious.

I killed mine that night. It wouldn’t stop crying, it pissed me off.