Created By: SomeGuy on September 24, 2010 Last Edited By: SomeGuy on December 22, 2010

Fooling The Landlord

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The often inevitable result of what happens when a Cranky Landlord is also a Nosy Neighbor. This is what happens when a landlord is obsessed with one very specific rule in the rental contract, and relentlessly harasses the tenants based on the premise that they're secretly breaking this rule.

What makes this trope particularly ridiculous is that the tenants usually are breaking the rule. To make this work landlord has to be just dumb enough to not be able to prove it, even though it's painfully obvious to all the viewers.

Because of the obvious silliness inherent in this trope it never really caught on- it remains with us in pop culture today largely as parody. More specifically, that a Lowest Common Denominator exists which would actually be taken it by such a transparent Idiot Plot. Fridge Logic, as a result, tends to run rampant.


  • The Trope Maker is likely Three's Company. It's reputation as being a fountain for Idiot Plots is largely based on the only part of the show anyone remembers- that Jack has to pretend to be gay so the landlord doesn't realize the apartment is a den of sin. That Janet and Chrissy didn't just get a female roommate (like most women would do in their situation) was chalked up to Rule of Funny.
  • Parodied in Sam & Max Season 1, where the heroes are forced to audition for "Midtown Cowboys", a show where the titular cowboys must hide their herd (of one cow) from a landlord who constantly suspects that they're hiding a cow in their apartment. As the Tag Line goes, They're probably hiding a cow!
  • Parodied in a strip of Penny Arcade with That's So Locust, a show about a Gears of War alien that must pretend to be a human woman for the purposes of this trope.
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • September 8, 2010
    Here's the Penny Arcade strip you wanted: That's So Locust! (On a side-note, I found it with the archive-search for the word 'Gears' - remembering that it was a Gears Of War reference.)

    Also, Ai Yori Aoshi is a pretty clever inversion - in this case, the main character has to hide the fact that he's in a relationship with the landlady, from the other tenants.
  • September 9, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    • On one Looney Tunes short, Tweety and Sylvester are being hidden by their respective owners in a hotel that doesn't allow pets. At the end, the manager asks all tenants to get rid of any animals in the premises... and is trampled by a whole zoo's worth.
    • Not a landlord, but in the Curious George movie, the Man in the Yellow Hat has to hide George from his building's doorman.
  • September 9, 2010
    Laurel And Hardy's short Laughing Gravy. Laughing Gravy is a small dog, and once again the landlord doesn't allow pets.
  • September 9, 2010
    In Spaced the two main characters are pretending to be in a relationship in order to rent a flat for a couple.
  • September 9, 2010
    In Bosom Buddies, the main characters had to pretend to be women.
  • September 9, 2010
    I think I remember an old movie named Green Card. Guy and girl have to pretend to be in a relationship so she can get her dream-condo (which is couples-only), and in return he gets the titular Green Card (he was french - and played by Gerard Depardieu). Somebody suspects that they're faking it, and Hilarity Ensues as they have to keep the tangled web of lies from collapsing. Needless to say, they wind up ACTUALLY falling in love.

    Think it qualifies? The main 'adversary' isn't actually the landlord, but rather the immigration-authorities. Still...
  • September 9, 2010
    The announcer from Monday Night Combat will sometimes plug a show called "Meat the Meatsacks", a family of humans who pretend to be cyborgs so they can stay in their apartment.
  • September 17, 2010
    I'm going to go ahead and say it's close enough. The heart of this trope is "making up a web of lies for better living conditions" more than it is about the actual landlord.
  • December 7, 2010
    In Threes Company the reason Janet and Chrissy didn't just find a girl for a roommate was because they liked Jack's cooking.
  • December 7, 2010
    Mr. Shickadance, Ace Ventura's landlord, does not allow animals in his apartment complex. Ace, of course, has a whole lot of animals at his place, though he hides them quite cleverly.
  • December 22, 2010
    YKTTW Bump. Last call for examples before launch.