[[caption-width-right:330:[[MindRape "Did I fall asleep?"]]]]

->'''[=DeWitt=]:''' I'm talking about a clean slate.\\
'''Caroline:''' You ever try and clean an actual slate? You always see what was on it before.
-->-- "Ghost"

''Dollhouse'' (2009-2010) is a 26-episode CyberPunk show by Creator/JossWhedon, which began airing in February 2009 on [[FridayNightDeathSlot Fridays at 9 p.m.]] on {{Creator/FOX}}. [[NetworkToTheRescue Against all odds]], it was renewed for a second season, but low UsefulNotes/{{ratings}} led to its {{cancellation}}. Luckily Whedon anticipated the cancellation and was able to score a full 13 episode second season, managing to get a complete plot and some closure out of its final episodes, after the cancellation order was given.

The show is about the titular Dollhouse, an illegal offshoot of a corrupt medical conglomeration known as the Rossum Corporation. Basically, the Dollhouse consists of a group of men and women called "Actives" or "dolls," who have been [[BlankSlate wiped clean of their own personalities]] and have [[FakeMemories new personalities]], tailor-made to suit the customer's needs, "imprinted" onto them for the various clients of the Dollhouse. Besides [[TheOldestProfession the obvious applications]], "dolls" can be rented for use as made-to-order surrogate mothers, bodyguards, best friends, thieves, negotiators, and politicians (and those are just the examples from the show itself). If you have the money, the Dollhouse can create a human being to fulfill your desires, no matter what they are. Each doll gets wiped and imprinted many times for many different purposes over the course of their service contract, which they signed voluntarily before being wiped.

Throw in one [[CowboyCop obsessive FBI agent]], Paul Ballard, looking for the Dollhouse; one [[PhlebotinumRebel escaped Active]] named Alpha who is [[AxCrazy insane]]; and one Active, Echo, who appears to be remembering things from her engagements that should have been wiped; mix for two minutes and bake at 350 degrees. Season with a bunch of guest stars from Joss Whedon's stable, including Creator/SummerGlau, Alexis Denisof, Creator/AmyAcker, Creator/AlanTudyk, Creator/ElizaDushku in the starring role of Echo, and breakout performances by Fran Kranz and Creator/EnverGjokaj, and we have a Dollhouse.

Note: the true finale of Season One, "Epitaph One," is actually a LostEpisode on the DVD and Blu-ray sets. Please view this before watching the series finale, "Epitaph Two: Return."

Creator/DarkHorseComics is now putting out a miniseries ''Dollhouse: Epitaphs'', which takes place after most of the series, but before "Epitaph One" and "Epitaph Two."

There is a [[Characters/{{Dollhouse}} Character Sheet]] for this series, and now a [[Recap/{{Dollhouse}} recap page]].

Not to be confused with the [[Theatre/ADollsHouse play by Henrik Ibsen]], or Alawar Game's hidden object ''VideoGame/StraySoulsDollhouseStory''.
!!This show contains examples of the following tropes:


[[folder:Tropes A-D]]
* AbsenteeActor: Season two had at least one actor MIA in episodes 2 through 6, with the seventh episode ("Meet Jane Doe") being the first since the season opener to feature all seven main characters - and Sierra's appearance is practically a cameo.
* ActionBomb: [[spoiler:Boyd was this]] in "The Hollow Men" and [[spoiler:Topher (by his own choice)]] in "Epitaph Two: Return."
%%* {{Adorkable}}: Topher for sure. Bennett if you can overlook her sociopathic tendencies.
* AffablyEvil: the Dollhouse staff, most notably [=DeWitt=] (constantly nice and polite, even when doing bad things) and Topher, whose God Complex is balanced by his desire to show off how smart he is to those around him. [[spoiler:Boyd too, as he truly cares for Echo and her emotional growth into her own being, as well as considering the people at the LA Dollhouse to be his TrueCompanions. He also wants to harvest Echo's spinal fluid and allowed his private army to raid the Dollhouse too.]]
%%* AfterTheEnd: "Epitaph One" and "Epitaph Two: Return".
* AlasPoorVillain: [[spoiler:Boyd, after getting imprinted.]] "I try to be my best."
* AliceAllusion: The season 1 episode "Echoes" has Echo leave an engagement to follow a news story to a nearby college, where she becomes infected with a hallucinogenic memory drug, meets various characters known to both Echo and Caroline who aren’t quite themselves and uses a manhole to break into a building. The personality imprint she has at the time is named “Alice”, and she is wearing a sort tunic dress, thigh high stockings and Mary Jane style high heeled shoes.
* AlliterativeName: Rayna Russell.
* AllJustADream: "The Attic" (2x10) puts a nightmare spin on this, as [[spoiler: it opens with Echo reliving watching Victor and Sierra get mercilessly gunned down more than once, as far as making her relive her worst fear.]]
* AlternateRealityGame: At "R Prime Lab", a woman called Hazel is trapped in a portable lab apparently used by her mother to record the personalities used for Dolls. Players sign up for an account and communicate with Hazel in real time to help her find her mother and discover the Dollhouse conspiracy.
* AmbitionIsEvil: Adelle`s ambitions surely helps bringing forth the apocalypse. She was degraded, and used Topher`s invention to get her old position back. It helps much that her superior had ambitions and for world domination no less.
* AmnesiacLover: Victor and Sierra through all of their various imprints. Happens specifically to [[spoiler: Paul]] towards the end.
* AnachronicOrder: In Season 2, Fox aired the original second ("Belle Chose") and third ("Instinct") episodes in reverse order. While both were largely standalone stories, the late switch did leave the series not acknowledging Claire/Whiskey's season-opening departure until the "new" third episode.
* AndIMustScream: The Attic. Effectively, you are [[spoiler: sealed into a vat of goo and placed in a coma as the Rossum Corporation hooks up your brain as part of a living supercomputer. Trapped in a virtual-reality world, you are forced to constantly relive your worst fears for the rest of your life, as the adrenaline produced by the fear fuels the computer. Or possibly, in your drugged and adrenaline-soaked state, you perceive the problems your brain (as part of the computer) is solving as your worst fears.]]
* AnimalWrongsGroup: Caroline seems fairly competent, but it's still at least [[InvokedTrope referenced]] by her friend: "Is this the part where you release all the monkeys and they bite you to death?"
* AnnoyingArrows: Averted, as Boyd's arrow wound in "The Target" (1x02) is treated quite seriously; it's all he can do to stay conscious, and Echo tells him that he'll die pretty quickly from blood loss and shock if he keeps walking. Not to mention Echo and the psychopath's relatively minor wounds still coming back to plague them.
* AntiVillain: Adelle started off the series this way, but in the second season evolved into an AntiHero.
* AnyoneCanDie:
** Every character who doesn't need to be alive for "Epitaph One" to make sense ''does'': [[spoiler:Bennett, Ambrose, the original Clyde, Mellie and Boyd. To quote Tim Minear: "I shot Bennett in the head because it's funny."]]
** In the finale, [[spoiler: Paul is shot dead with no warning, and then Topher performs a HeroicSacrifice to truly save the world]].
* ArtisticLicenseMilitary: Anthony is shown in both US Army and Marine Corps uniforms during the series. What branch is he, again?
** No reason he couldn't have been in both at different stages in his career.
%%* TheAssimilator: The "Mind Whisper" technology.
* AsTheGoodBookSays: Possibly unintentional (Joss Whedon is a well-documented atheist with a history of writing [[Film/TheAvengers2012 believable]] [[{{Series/Firefly}} Christians]]) but when Victor says to a waitress to give a group of groupies good wine for the first few bottles, and after that the house stuff, he's referencing a line from the Bible ("Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine." - [[Literature/TheFourGospels John 2:10]]).
%%* AttemptedRape: Poor Sierra.
* AttendingYourOwnFuneral: In "Haunted" (1x10), Echo is imprinted with a recently dead client who ordered it so she can attend her own funeral and [[spoiler:[[WhodunnitToMe find out who murdered her.]]]]
* AuthorAppeal:
** If you're at all familiar with Joss Whedon, you'll be very familiar with his (openly admitted, at least) fanboy love for tchotchkes, [[BrokenBird damaged cute girls kicking ass]], [[CorruptCorporateExecutive corrupt power structures]] [[BreakTheCutie exploiting said cute girls]], and semi-self-insert characters. Among other things.
** Specifically, the self-inserts can be seen with Topher, the character-creator and geek; Adelle, the one in charge, responsible for everyone (discussed by Joss in the audio commentary of 2x01 "Vows"); and [[spoiler:Boyd, the mastermind who forces the characters to confront terrible things in order to overcome them and evolve into better people]].
** Scripted, multi-person, acrobatic melee fights.
** Eventually you will get your heart ripped out of you if you're a fan of a character. Or one of the main characters will. Just like Willow's reaction to the death of [[spoiler:Tara]], Echo's anguished [[BigNo I loved you!]] directed at [[spoiler:Boyd]] was the fans' reaction. It was kind of like finding out your Dad who you loved without reservation was a serial killer. Then again, being Joss, it's one of his signature styles. Don't ask what happened to [[spoiler: Wash and Book]] in {{Series/Firefly}}, just don't.
** For some reason, getting stabbed or shot in the abdomen at roughly the level of the navel.
** Killing a main character with no warning - usually with a head shot.
** And, if you believe the first ten minutes of the second-season premiere, he's got a predilection for bondage too. Not only does domme!Echo get promoted to the new title sequence, but Sierra almost immediately after the credits hints that she wants to be tied up and spanked.
** Strawberries.
** Zombies, of varying kinds.
** At least three references to lesbians, in [[spoiler: "Vows" (2x01, a flashback to an Echo-Whiskey engagement), "A Love Supreme" (2x08, a mention of a lesbian who hired out Echo to marry her) and "Epitaph Two: Return (2x13, when freedom fighter Mag mentions her attraction to Kilo).]]
** Make it four and reserve extra points. [[spoiler: "Meet Jane Doe" (2x07, Echo mentions having at least seven lesbian personas).]]
** Every single active in the Dollhouse is barefoot. This is something that used to be occasional for Whedon; now it's the foot fetish equivalent of a porn set.
* {{Autocannibalism}}: One of the people kept in the Attic [[spoiler: is forced to eat his own legs as sushi.]]
* AwesomeMcCoolName: Arcane. [[spoiler:He thought it sounded badass.]]
* AxCrazy:
%%** Alpha.
** "Epitaph One" (1x13) and "Epitaph Two: Return" (2x13): [[spoiler:the imprinted "butchers," who had been imprinted to kill all those [[BrokenRecord who weren't imprinted to kill all those that weren't imprinted to kill...]]]]
** Ladies and gentlemen, give a big hand to [[spoiler: Summer Glau as Bennett Halverson.]]
** Don't forget creepy-ass Terry (2.3). Or [[spoiler: Richard in 1.2. Which is really striking, given that he's Series/TheMiddleman.]] And the stalker in Rayna's stalker in 1.3. Actually, the show is pretty chock-full of crazy.
* BabiesEverAfter: In a ''Whedon'' series. Granted, it only happens for one couple, and it doesn't magically make everything perfect for them.
* BackFromTheDead: [[spoiler: Part of Echo's plan to escape from the Attic.]]
* BadFuture: Seen in "Epitaph One" (1x13) and again in "The Attic" (2x10), then [[spoiler:at the end of "The Hollow Men" (2x12), and]] finally in "Epitaph Two: Return" (2x13) to close the show with a bang.
* BaitAndSwitchComment: To paraphrase Adelle. ''"Everyone working here has badly compromised principles except for Topher. He never had any to begin with."''
* {{Bathos}}: In true Creator/JossWhedon style, the dialogue veers into this quite often, and quite well.
-->Echo/Esther: The blind girl is looking you in the eye, do you know what that means? It means God brought me here. He has a message for you. That message is...'''move your ass'''!
* BatmanGambit:
** Sending Echo out to contact Paul, saying that there's someone who wants to help him. Meanwhile, Adelle sends Sierra's handler to get rid of Mellie, only to [[spoiler: interrupt the assassination attempt by remotely activating Mellie's Active state.]] However, WordOfGod is that we're supposed to take that statement at face value... for now.
** [=DeWitt=] again:
--->Dominic: I've just been informed we have four Actives planning to escape.
--->[=DeWitt=]: Right on schedule.
** Alpha hired Sierra and gave her a message knowing exactly that when Adelle and Topher found out it was him, they would re-wipe all the Actives. The "message" turned out to be [[spoiler:a computer virus that turns all the Actives crazy and murderous]], allowing Alpha to get control of the chair and [[spoiler:wipe Paul and then ''imprint himself with Paul's mind'']].
** Either this or the roulette below, [[spoiler: the entire episode "The Attic" (2x10), though the viewer doesn't know that until the end.]]
** In "The Hollow Men" (2x12), [[spoiler: Topher realized that Anthony and Priya would return, so he left Topher 2.0's imprint wedge in the chair.]]
* BeautyIsNeverTarnished: Averted. Apparently, Alpha wasn't programmed with ''this'' knowledge. He sliced up the beautiful Whiskey quite badly. Male beauty as well, as he does the same thing to [[spoiler: Victor]] in "Briar Rose" (1x11).
* BerserkButton: Sleepers have this programmed in, as one might expect, but [=DeWitt=], who does not like losing control of anything. When that happens, rather than the [[VillainousBreakdown psycho-fit]] more traditional for this trope, she goes into a [[TranquilFury cold and simmering rage]] that is far more dangerous in the end.
* BigBadFriend: Hey you see [[spoiler: Boyd Langton, PapaWolf to the actives, father figure to Echo, seemingly all-around nice and decent guy? He's the MagnificentBastard head of Rossum [[EvilPLan pulling the strings on everything going that he's been running since before the first episode]] of the series.]]
* BilingualDialogue:
** Tango takes on a personality that only speaks French. Her handler can't understand what she's saying, nor can any viewers that don't speak French, as it is [[BilingualBonus not subtitled]].
** This adds [[GratuitousForeignLanguage unintentional levity]] to an otherwise tense escape scene because the French dialogue is stiltedly written and painfully delivered. In heavily American-accented French, Tango remarks that every word her handler says hurts her ears, that the vehicles are disgusting, and wonders aloud why she even uses this vehicle service in Los Angeles. Maybe [[EverythingSoundsSexierInFrench her client doesn't speak it either]].
** This recurs and is averted in [[spoiler:Epitaph One, when Echo is imprinted with a personality that can only speak Russian. It's averted when it turns out she can speak English, though not as part of the imprint.]] Incidentally, Eliza Dushku's Russian, though written correctly, is ''horrifically'' accented. Any Russian watching that scene can't help but crack up at all the wrong.
** Used in "Meet Jane Doe" (2x07) with conversations between Echo and Galena in subtitled Spanish.
* BioPunk: Brain manipulation, body hopping? In the world of the future [[spoiler: the Tech Heads combine this with Cyberpunk and a hefty dose of ''Film/MadMax''.]]
* BlackAndGreyMorality: A mix of this and GreyAndGreyMorality make up the moral center of the show. Adelle and Topher are shown to be willing to use the resources of the Dollhouse for good work, in the form of pro-bono work to help people who would normally be unable to afford the services of the Dollhouse (such as the season one episode "Briar Rose", which had Echo imprinted with a successful, all-grown up version of an abused child in order to inspire her to try and make a better life for herself). Also the storyline where Topher comes up with a way to weaponize the mindwipe technology, as far as moral implications of doing so especially when Rossum finds out about it, forcing Topher (who is horrified when his blueprints are taken from him by his mother-figure Adelle and given to Rossum) is forced to use the device on [[spoiler: Boyd, when he reveals himself to be the head of the company and who is aware of the apocalyptic implications of the technology and about to kill Echo, then turning him into a suicide bomber while in his new Doll-state]].
--->'''Echo:''' "I think her bad guys are badder than my bad guys."
* BlankSlate:
** Actives when unimprinted. (Except for Echo, who shows signs of having memories of her engagements early on. She eventually [[spoiler: develops a full personality]])
** Also showing personality to a lesser extent are [[spoiler: Sierra and Victor]].
** [[spoiler: Alpha started developing a personality after seeing Echo for the first time. Unfortunately, it proved to be as much a psychopath as his original persona. This was ''before'' he was imprinted with [[IAmLegion the personalities of 48 other people, turning him into a super-genius killing machine]]]].
%%* BlindSeer: Echo's "Esther" alias in "True Believer" (1x05).
* BodySurf: WordOfGod states this is Alpha's long-term plan. As of "Epitaph One" (1x13), it's revealed to also be [[spoiler:Rossum's marketing plan for their core elite. Later, in the war-torn world of "Epitaph Two (2x13), it's how the remnants of Rossum's leadership hold onto power.]]
* BodySwap: Mind-swaps in general, but one particular moment involved [[spoiler:serial-killer imprinted Victor and fun-loving student Echo having their personalities swapped when Topher tried to remote-wipe the AWOL Victor. So, a fun-loving "female" Victor is in a nightclub...]]
* BoomerangBigot: Sierra gets imprinted with a racist who makes some disparaging remarks about Asians.
%%* BoxedCrook: [[spoiler: Alpha's original personality]]
%%* BrainUploading: The premise of the show.
* BreakTheCutie:
** Sierra's rape, though fortunately it seems to have no lasting damage; Sierra in "Belonging" (2x04). Big time.
** The way Paul treats Mellie in "Briar Rose" (1x11). [[spoiler:Though when November is re-imprinted as Mellie in "Getting Closer" (2x11), she doesn't hold this against him one bit and indeed loves him as much as ever.]]
** Dr. Saunders' confrontation with Alpha and [[spoiler:her realization that she's a doll]] make her noticeably less sweet than before, at least initially.
** It gets worse for Dr. Saunders/Whiskey in Epitaph One. She refuses to leave because she is still waiting for [[spoiler:Boyd.]] Thanks to ‘"Getting Closer" (2x12) and "Hollow Men" (2x11) [[spoiler:we know how that's going to turn out.]]
** The [[spoiler:double-cross of Madeline/November]] in "The Left Hand" (2x06), and [[spoiler:her imprisonment in the Washington D.C. Dollhouse.]]
** Poor Bennett's whole life: [[spoiler:Socially awkward and clearly lonely she finds a girlfriend in Caroline. She then finds out that Caroline has been manipulating her to act against Rossum. Bennett agrees, seemingly because Caroline is her only friend. Only to have things go badly wrong with Bennett winding up maimed and left behind. It's no wonder that Bennett didn't believe Caroline's explanation and harbors a murderous grudge.]]
** [[spoiler:Bennett's murder in "Getting Closer" (2x11). By ''Claire'', of all people. Dear God.]] According to Creator/AmyAcker, it was a sleeper-type assassination, not Clyde. The whole thing is a little wishy-washy, but we're not to believe [[spoiler:Boyd was making out with Clyde earlier that day...]]
** The above, mixed with guilt at his involvement in causing the Apocalypse, has apparently caused Topher to be in a perpetual state of HeroicBSOD by the time "Epitaph One" rolls around. In "Epitaph Two," he's even worse, as Ambrose and Harding apparently killed someone in front of him every day he didn't finish the brain-wiping machine.
* BriefAccentImitation: Victor as Lubov. [[spoiler: and Dominic.]] [[spoiler: and Topher, down to the smallest quirk!]] Enver's got talent. This has led to Enver Gjokaj having a rather large fanbase, at least among Dollhouse fans.
* BrokenBird: [=DeWitt=] reveals a softer side beneath that [[TheStoic stoic]] exterior in "A Spy in the House of Love" (1x09). Dr. Saunders almost certainly qualifies by "Omega" (1x12), if not earlier.
* BuffySpeak: No surprise, given who created the show. Almost mentioned by name in "The Left Hand" (2x06): "Oh God, doll speak."
%%* CallARabbitASmeerp: It's not a ''hard drive'', it's a ''wedge''.
* CallBack:
** Used in the fight between Echo and [[spoiler: Senator Perrin's wife/handler Cindy]] in "The Public Eye" (2x05). Every single move Echo makes is taken from fights she's been in in previous episodes, as proved by the constant flashbacks. Also a FridgeBrilliance demonstration of why composite events are exceedingly dangerous when it happens to someone like Alpha—being able to instantly access what could potentially amount to many lifetimes of information, skills, tactics, abilities and experience and use it precisely and exactly as need and applied.
** Almost all the visions Echo encounters in "The Attic" (2x10) are callbacks to [[spoiler:either memories that she has retained while a composite Active, or to the memories of her imprints and basic personality. The bald man that Boyd transforms into is the Ghost, Eleanor Penn's childhood abuser from "Ghost" (1x01). The slashed-up face of Claire Saunders calls back to Caroline's moment with Claire in "Needs" (1x08). The young girl stroking a dead horse? Adelle's equestrian friend Margaret Bashford as a girl, from "Haunted" (1x10). The "hateful relatives playing croquet" are the real, not-kidnapped-surrogate relatives of Terry Karrens, from "Belle Chose" (2x03).]] Almost every single episode in the second half of season 2 makes some sort of reference to "Epitaph One."
** In "Epitaph Two," while discussing [[spoiler:Anthony/Victor's self-implanted facial upgrades]], Victor and Alpha have a callback moment to the wacky fun in "Briar Rose" (1x11) when Alpha slashed up Active!Victor's face:
--->'''Alpha:''' Who would do something like that to your face?
--->'''Victor/Tony:''' Psycho.
--->'''Alpha:''' Lapsed.
* CallForward: Two key phrases each appear twice, separated in time and even more by context. [[spoiler:Topher's cool, slightly annoyed "I know what I know" ("Vows," (2x01)) becomes his MadnessMantra years later in "Epitaph One" (1x13). And Echo's "We are lost, but we are not gone" -- also in "Vows" -- is repeated by her double, Caroline-in-Iris, a decade later in "Epitaph Two: Return" (2x13).]]
* CassandraTruth:
** No one at the FBI believes Paul Ballard about the Dollhouse. [[spoiler:Even when they're standing on top of it.]] [[TheChessmaster Adelle]] uses this to her advantage beautifully.
** Similarly, [[spoiler:Priya was not crazy when she said she'd been kidnapped from her home, was being drugged, and that there were men forcibly keeping her at the mental institution which her {{Yandere}} StalkerWithACrush ran. That really was what was going on, but her faux diagnosis as a paranoid schizophrenic convinced Topher otherwise.]]
** As of "The Left Hand," [[spoiler: Rossum sets up Madeline for this.]]
** [[spoiler:There's the original Clyde's prediction that the tech will cause the apocalypse, which Rossum ''seems'' to ignore. The bad guys believe Clyde's predictions, but simply concluded that [[YouCantFightFate the apocalypse is inevitable]] and are maneuvering to be in a position of power when the shit hits the fan.]]
* CatchPhrase:
** "Did I fall asleep?" Subverted in "Stop-Loss" when the first thing out of Victor's mouth (after "Roger" is scrubbed from his brain) is "Has anyone seen Sierra?" A combined [[HeartwarmingMoment heartwarmer]] and OhCrap; it's nice to see Victor and Sierra remembering more and more... but it's not good when the [[MagnificentBitch jealous lover]], plagued by a constant [[HeelFaceRevolvingDoor yo-yoing of morality]], is in the room too.
** "For a little while." Often chased with, "Shall I go now?" "If you like." When Topher says "For a little while," Echo (with a mother imprint) knocks him cold with one punch, coolly answers "Shall I go now?" and escapes the Dollhouse.
** "Do you trust me?/With my life" script between handlers and their Actives. Inverted in ''The Target'' when Echo and Boyd swap lines. It was given another creepy twist in "Getting Closer": [[spoiler: Caroline (sarcastic): "And I'm just supposed to trust you?" Boyd: "With your life."]]
** "Everything's going to be all right."/"Now that you're here." Another handler-Active exchange, [[spoiler: Defied in "The Hollow Men" (2x12) after Echo/Caroline learns her former handler Boyd is the leader of Rossum. As Boyd is about to harvest Echo's spinal fluid for a "vaccine" against mindwiping, he tells her, "Everything's going to be all right" -- only to have her snap back, "Go to hell!"]]
** "It's time for your treatment." Expect a lot of those considering the Actives work with memetic activation phrases. Played with in a Deleted Scene for Omega (1x12), when IdiotHero Paul Ballard tries to ask November, who has been imprinted with a badass bounty hunter personality, if she'd like a treatment with the following exchange:
--->'''Paul''': You need therapy.
--->'''November''': ''hits him in the face with the butt of her gun. He falls down.''
--->'''Boyd''': "Treatment." It's "Would you like a treatment?"
--->'''Paul''': ''very woozy'' No, I'm good. ''passes out''
** "I try to be my best." Astute viewers would have [[spoiler: realized that "Stephen Kepler" was an Active when he talked about doing his best]].
** The last few episodes have made a habit out of twisting these exchanges, beginning with Anthony/Victor's "Did I fall asleep?" and ending with this exchange, when [[spoiler: Boyd becomes a doll.]]
--->[[spoiler:'''Boyd:''' Did I fall asleep?]]
--->[[spoiler:'''Echo:''' For a little while. * camera cuts away, then back. Echo hands Boyd a grenade* Once I leave, go in there (the mainframe room) and pull the pin out.]]
--->[[spoiler:'''Boyd:''' I try to be my best.]]
--->[[spoiler:'''Echo:''' (pained tone of voice) Good.]]
** Senator Daniel Perrin [[spoiler:and his "wife" (but really his handler) Cindy repeat a series of lines, disguised as sweet nothings between spouses, to maintain the Active-handler bond.]]
--->[[spoiler:'''Cindy''': Remind me why I love you so much.]]
--->[[spoiler:'''Daniel''': I'm your white knight.]]
--->[[spoiler:'''Cindy''': And I'm your beautiful damsel.]]
--->[[spoiler:'''Daniel''': Ever after.]]
* CharacterDeath: Defied example with Adelle. It appears that this will happen in Epitaph: Part One when [[spoiler: Echo/Caroline returns and she declines to beg for her life. The Defiance comes in once Epitaph: Part Two reveals that Echo/Caroline actually spared her.]]
* ChekhovsBoomerang: Clive Ambrose is a rare human ChekhovsBoomerang. He shows up in ''Echoes''(1x07) to deliver the [[IntoxicationEnsues memory drug]], where he's fanboyed by Topher. He's delivered by hard drive to the Dollhouse in ''Epitaph One'' (1x13), where he starts hanging out in Victor's body.
* ChekhovsGun:
** Everything in "Briar Rose" (1x11), from the introduction of Alan Tudyk on.
** Your first warning that [[spoiler: "Stephen"]] was Alpha? [[spoiler:The Doll outfit that shows off his muscles, which are rather inconsistent with Stephen's apparent lifestyle.]]
** "Epitaph One": [[spoiler:The remote wipe introduced in "Gray Hour" and the Fountain of Youth idea from "Haunted"]].
** A ChekhovsGun that was apparent by its ''absence'' in "Echoes": [[spoiler:Topher is the one administering the drug to November instead of Dr. Saunders, because Saunders is actually Whiskey, and the apparent effects of the drug on her would have given the fact that she was a Doll away.]]
** When Alpha [[spoiler:imprints himself with Paul's personality]] it comes as a huge shock, but ''nobody'' expected it to turn up again in "Epitaph Two", when he [[spoiler:makes a hard copy of Paul's imprint for Echo to use on herself, so that she and the (recently physically deceased) Paul can always be together]].
* ChekhovsGunman: Nolan Kinnard, [[spoiler:the man behind Sierra's [[BreakTheCutie cutie-breaking]] phase]], has a minor part in the first-season episode "Needs," but plays a much larger part a season later in "Belonging".
* TheChessmaster -- [=DeWitt=]. The lady knows what she's doing, she knows what you're doing and she knows how to stop it. Except she's been completely outplayed by [[spoiler:Boyd, who just ''happens'' to have gotten himself in a position where he must flee as the "scapegoat" just before Caroline is reawakened and can identify him as the mastermind behind Rossum.]]
* ClarkKentOutfit: Stephen Kepler [[spoiler:aka Alpha]] has one -- once he changes into Doll attire, it becomes apparent how well built he is.
* ClimbSlipHangClimb: Used in "The Target".
* CloudCuckooLander:
** The chemical in "Echoes" turns people into this.
** In "Briar Rose" (1x11), Stephen borders on this.
** In "Epitaph One" (1x13), [[spoiler: Topher and Whiskey.]]
* CloudCuckooLandersMinder: Adelle becomes this for [[spoiler: Topher.]]
* ClueEvidenceAndASmokingGun: When Caroline first meets Bennett in college, she guessed Bennett is a neuroscience major. Bennett is shocked she guessed that so easily and asks how she figured it out. Caroline says it's because Bennett is eating a tuna sandwich, and fish is brain food.... and also because Bennett is carrying a large stack of neuroscience textbooks.
* ColdBloodedTorture: When Echo is in Bennett's clutches, she seems to take an inordinate amount of pleasure in this. But then, [[spoiler: Bennett felt Caroline left her to die, so....]]
* CombatPragmatist: Neither Ballard nor Echo fight by Marquis of Queensberry rules. And neither does Boyd. Almost [[WorldOfBadass no one does]] in this universe.
%%* CombatStilettos: Which "Taffy" ("Gray Hour" (1x04)) seems to think are comfortable shoes.
* CompositeCharacter: Echo becomes an in-universe example by the end of the series as her personality is a merger of all 40-50 of the personalites she has been imprinted with in her time as an Active. The incident that starts the process of her becoming this is even called a Composite Event where all of her previously imprinted personalities up til that point are reimprinted into her at the same time.
* ContinuityNod:
** In "Vows" (2x01), near the beginning, [[spoiler:[=DeWitt=] absentmindedly touches Victor's face, recalling the fact that she used to sleep with him.]]
** In "Epitaph Two" (2x13), Neuropolis running out of shellfish for Ambrose, a reference to him enjoying it in "Epitaph One" (1x13).
* CoolCodeOfSource:
** The episode "Briar Rose" uses the HTML source (which isn't code--it's markup) from the Web site for Wolfram Research in a cracking scene. [[http://www.wolfram.com/company/background.html Wolfram Research]] is a real company that makes Mathematica software, but it shares a name with an evil corporation on Whedon's series ''Angel'', making it a particularly nerdy hidden reference.
** Their environmental control system also seems to make heavy use of some XML dialect, as seen when [[spoiler:Alpha uses it]].
* CopsNeedTheVigilante: The Dollhouse is once hired to assist a DEA operation. As the Dollhouse is already an illegal entity, everyone involved is up front about the iffy nature of this operation.
* CorruptPolitician: Is it any surprise that the Dollhouse has powerful allies? And [[spoiler:a senator who is also a doll?]]
* CowboyBeBopAtHisComputer: A TV Guide blurb inviting people to check out the AlternateRealityGame ''Dollplay'' referred to its protagonist Hazel as "Echo's pal" despite them never having anything to do with each other besides existing in the same universe.
* CrapsackWorld: "Epitaph One," and "Epitaph Two"; revisited in the nightmare world of "The Attic" (2x10).
* CreatingLife: At least, creating human minds is what Topher thinks he can do.
* {{Cult}}: In "True Believer."
* CurbStompBattle: [[spoiler: Mellie/November versus Hearn, after her trigger.]]
* CyberPunk: fits almost all the genre's conventions, even if not identified as such. Unusual in that the CyberPunk world comes about as a result of characters' actions.
* DatelessGrave: [[spoiler: November, "freed" (as part of an experiment), visits the undated grave of her real-life daughter.]]
%%* DatingCatwoman: Topher and Bennett.
* ADayInTheLimelight: "Belonging" (2x04), for Sierra/Priya, we see the origin story for Sierra, and how her situation affects the Dollhouse.
* DeadlyHug: Victor does this to Sierra in "The Attic", as the only way to get out of the Attic is to die in it.
%%* DeadpanSnarker: Topher and Adelle.
%%* DeadPersonConversation: [[spoiler: Echo and Paul at the end of "Epitaph Two: Return."]]
* DeadPersonImpersonation:
** [[spoiler: Alpha posing as Stephen Kepler after killing him]].
%%** Played with in "Haunted."
* DeathIsCheap: High-ranking Rossum executives inevitably have multiple bodies. [[spoiler:Averted with Bennett's death.]]
* DescriptionCut: After the motorcycle race at the beginning of the first episode Echo challenges the hunk she's with to a rematch. Instead he says, "No, lets just dance." Cut to them rocking out to Music/LadyGaga singing a club version of Just...well...Dance.
* {{Determinator}}: Ballard, to [[spoiler:his eventual death in battle.]]
* DevilInPlainSight:
** Dominic. Tried to kill Echo in "True Believer," among other things.
%%** And then there's [[Series/{{Reaper}} Ray Wise]]...
%%** As of 2x11: [[spoiler:Hi there, Boyd.]]
* DistantFinale:
** "Epitaph One" ends the first season with a fragmented look at how bad things might get.
** Season two has "Epitaph Two: Return," which fills out the picture "Epitaph One" sketched.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything:
** [[spoiler:Perrin]] removing Echo's GPS chip is shot [[{{Squick}} uncomfortably]] like a sex scene.
** To a lesser extent, [[spoiler:Anthony "killing" Priya in the Attic]] is shot much like a lovers' embrace, so much so that it sends Anthony into a HeroicBSOD.
** Echo asks about Sierra as she's crying out and struggling in the chair. Topher admits she feels some pain. Echo asks why, and Topher says in a gentle, condescending voice, "Well, it's her first time." Topher doesn't seem aware of the double entendre, but given Sierra's past and future as a victim of sexual assault, it's [[DramaticIrony cringe-inducing for the audience]].
** Echo and Paul [[spoiler:training]] in "Meet Jane Doe," which was even shot to mislead the audience into thinking that [[spoiler:Paul accepted Echo's advances earlier in the episode]].
* DoubleEntendre:
-->'''Caroline:''' We're gonna make you ''pop''!
-->'''Bennett:''' Oh, I'm not sure I wish to... pop.
-->'''Caroline:''' Oh, you'll pop. And you'll ''like'' it.
* DoubleStandardRapeSciFi: The series deals heavily with this trope, as the show’s premise deals with brainwashed women and men, called “dolls”, who can be implanted with customized personalities and skill-sets and are often used as sex companions for clients.
** Episode 6 [[LampshadeHanging hangs a lampshade]] on the issue with two storylines: one about a handler/bodyguard revealed to be raping his doll in her "blank slate” mode and [[NotSoDifferent asking if it's any different from]] when a doll is on assignment and their personality thinks they're in love with the client. The other storyline depicts a sympathetic client, a grieving widower who uses the doll to recreate a touching romantic moment with his late wife but who is still considered evil for sleeping with the doll. The dolls are all volunteers who knew what they were signing up for, but it's still rape in the sense that a programmed personality doesn't realize their feelings and desires for their partner are all manufactured.
** A regular client who sleeps with a male doll is revealed to be one of the female higher-ups running the Dollhouse, but “breaks up” with the doll because she feels so guilty about it.
** Then there’s the subplot with Topher and [[spoiler:Dr. Claire Saunders]]—when she discovers she’s really a doll implanted with her predecessor’s memories, [[spoiler:Claire]] confronts Topher with the accusation that he designed her to want to sleep with him even though she hates him.
* DoUntoOthersBeforeTheyDoUntoUs: Used when Rossum's founder makes a last ditch effort to convince his [[strike:pawns]] ''family'' that he needs to [[MassHypnosis mind control the world]].
* DoWrongRight: In (2X04) Belonging [[spoiler:when Topher sends out Priya to her rapist and she kills him, Topher sees the mess that happened, prompting a BSOD and then Boyd shows up, and tells them he brought a kit to dispose of the body, and coaches them on how to make it look as if he disappeared.]]
* TheDragon: Clyde, Rossum's second-in-command. [[spoiler:The modified-to-be-obedient imprint version of him, anyways.]]
* DressHitsFloor:
** Subverted in "Meet Jane Doe" (2x07) when Echo turns out to have a workout outfit on underneath.
** Played straight in "Stop-Loss" (2x09) as prelude to Adelle's ShowerOfAngst.
%%* DrivenToSuicide:
%%** [[spoiler:Mellie/November]] in "The Hollow Man."
%%** On a technicality, [[spoiler:Boyd]].
* DrowningMySorrows: [=DeWitt=] from "Belonging" to "Stop-Loss", arguably an instance of TheAlcoholic as the roots are deep and stretch as early as "Stage Fright". [[spoiler:Not to mention Boyd calling her a "drunk", to which she had no comeback.]]
* TheDulcineaEffect:
** Ballard insists on saving Caroline, NOT [[spoiler:Mellie/November]], even. He seems to be bucking for TragicHero status here, especially as Echo ''doesn't like'' Ballard. When [[spoiler:Ballard gets November, not Echo, out of the Dollhouse when given a choice. The only reason he didn't try to rescue her before was her [[ManchurianAgent Sleeper Personality]].]] Then you realize that freeing [[spoiler:November/Mellie]] and not [[spoiler:Echo/Caroline]] means he gets to spend more time with his Dulcinea...
** Alpha is a demonstration of the [[LoveMakesYouCrazy dark]] [[LoveMakesYouEvil side]] of this trope.
** Invoked when Echo is hired to protect a famous pop singer. Topher imprints her with the identity of a backup singer, but throws in some fighting skills and a strong desire to protect the pop singer at all costs, despite barely knowing her. As he points out, the best bodyguard isn't someone who's ''paid'' to protect you, it's someone who ''wants'' to protect you.
* DynamicEntry:
** Boyd comes out of nowhere to hit the Handler raping Sierra ''through a glass pane''.
** Echo gets one in "The Hollow Men" (2x12) [[spoiler:when she comes flying through the frame to kick Boyd away from Topher.]]
* DysfunctionJunction: So much. There's an entire episode devoted to showing that healthy, not damaged people don't belong in the house at all.

[[folder:Tropes E-H]]
* EarnYourHappyEnding: [[spoiler:By the series finale, everyone has an opportunity to put it all on the line. Mag is in a wheelchair, Paul is shot dead, Alpha must leave his new family, Echo goes through Hell (aka The Attic) and grieves Paul's death, Adelle is on the verge of a breakdown, Topher has gone through a HeroicSacrifice, etc. It's interesting to note that finally, after all these other shows, Priya and Anthony stay together, when most of the fandom was just waiting for Joss to tear them apart in angsty fashion. Ballard's consciousness is uploaded into Echo]].
* EleventhHourSuperPower: [[spoiler:Echo's "Omega" imprint. But Alpha ''was'' the one who gave it to her. NiceJobFixingItVillain.]]
%%* EmotionalTorque: "Haunted".
%%* EmotionlessGirl: bordering on UncannyValleyGirl in their BlankSlate state.
* EuphemismBuster:
--> '''Topher''': He seemed to be having a kind of...man-reaction.
--> '''Dr. Saunders''': A what?
--> '''Topher''': A, you know, reaction that a man -- person might have in the...you know, the...naked part. Shower. Victor.
--> '''Dr. Saunders''': Victor had an erection?
--> '''Topher''': I prefer man-reaction.
* EvenEvilHasStandards:
** It takes the mooks in "Ghost" (1x01) about five seconds to turn on their boss once they realize what he is planning to do with the kidnapped girl.
** [=DeWitt=] and Dominic's punishment of doll-rapist [[spoiler:Hearn]] probably counts too.
** In "Epitaph One": [[spoiler:[=DeWitt=]'s reaction to the Rossum bigwig Clive Ambrose in Victor's body who tells her they are now selling Actives as body upgrades for people. She is not happy. Topher also looks extremely upset. And Alpha came up with whatever technique they have for resisting imprinting. ]]
** Topher could have [[spoiler:made Sierra into a sex toy for his birthday but didn't. Likewise he makes it quite clear in "Vows" (2x01) that he would never do that to any of the Dolls.]]
** In "Belle Chose" (2x03), when the Dollhouse managers discover the VIP they're trying to wake up from a coma is a potential serial killer, and a very disturbing one at that, they become much less inclined to wake him up. Lampshaded:
---> '''Topher''': Basically, this is what some of your more famous serial killers' brains look like.
---> '''Adelle''': You're quite certain of this?
---> '''Topher''': Certain enough that I have serious ethical problems trying to wake him up.
---> '''Boyd''': ''Topher'' has ethical problems. ({{beat}}) ''Topher.''
** Adelle and Topher's extreme reluctance [[spoiler:(and the latter's refusal and following moral crisis) to send Sierra off to live forever with her kidnapper and rapist in "Belonging".]]
** Topher knows that when Rossum asks him to build them a device, they intend to combine it with other tech to create a more nefarious device, so he tries to build a "dumber" device that performs its ostensible function while being useless for anything else. [[spoiler:It leads to this great line from Harding when he finds out: "Topher Brink is a genius, but I had no idea he was actually smart".]]
* EverybodyMustGetStoned: A mind-altering substance that can be transmitted by touch is released on a college campus, and the Actives and Dollhouse security staff are sent in to clean up. HilarityEnsues.
* EvilAllAlong: [[spoiler:One could argue that, due to BlackAndGreyMorality, everyone on the show is evil in one way or another, but no one compares to Boyd Langton, Echo's father figure, the head of security, Dr. Saunder's love interest, the PapaWolf to the Actives, and also the BigBad.]]
* EvilFeelsGood: In "Briar Rose", when Paul stuns Topher:
--->'''Kepler:''' I mean, officially I deplore violence, but that was totally worth the loss of karma points.
* EvilLaugh: When Echo is in the Attic, she comes across a projection of Boyd Langton. When she asks where her friends are, he lets out a reverbating evil laugh before telling her she ''has'' no friends (he's lying).
%%* EvilutionaryBiologist: [[spoiler:Alpha.]]
* EyeScream: "I understand hell now." Whedon seems to be a fan of this -- [[spoiler:it's almost exactly how Caleb took out Xander's eye in Buffy's final episodes.]]
* FairytaleMotifs: The entirety of "Briar Rose" (1x11) uses the eponymous fairy tale (better known as "Literature/SleepingBeauty") as a metaphor for the Dollhouse and the episode's plot. In addition to the episode's 'carrots' RunningGag (itself a [[ShoutOut reference]] to Disney's version of the story), UnfortunateImplications can be drawn from the fact that the original version of the story featured the prince [[DudeShesLikeInAComa raping the unconscious princess]] ([[{{Squick}} she only woke up when she had given birth to his child]]). This, rather than [[TrueLovesKiss the comparatively chaste kiss]] later versions [[{{Disneyfication}} changed it to.]] We can be certain Creator/JossWhedon was well aware of all these things.
* FakeGuestStar: Creator/AmyAcker and Creator/ReedDiamond in Season 1. (In Season 2, they become real guest stars.)
* FakeMemories: Integral to the premise. Echo and the other Actives are programmed with them on a constant basis.
* {{Fanservice}} -- The series has some for everyone. See especially the Season 2 opening credits, which is nothing but lingering shots of Echo from all over the first two seasons.
* FanDisservice: To most people the idea of a brainwashing technology used by a shadowy organization to run a sex-slave operation in every major city in the world is too horrific for anything else to really apply.
* FateWorseThanDeath: The Attic combines this with AndIMustScream. The description "Like having a word at the tip of your tongue, only all the time" is from a real world interview with a lobotomized person. However, it's described as "Like having a word at the tip of your tongue, but for every thought you never have", which is somewhat [[UpToEleven worse]].
* FauxAffablyEvil:
** Alpha is one of the few unambiguously evil characters on what is otherwise a very morally ambiguous show. He's also by far one of the most entertaining. [[spoiler: What's more, Epitaphs One and Two show that even to Alpha there's more than just evil...]]
** Also applies to Rossum bigwig Matthew Harding. Everything he says sounds like a bit of fatherly advice from the nice old man in your office. But if you're listening, yeah, totally evil.
* FeedTheMole: An interesting take on this: "And you'll tell them everything's ''fine.'' And then [[AndIMustScream we'll put you back in your box]]."
* {{Filler}} Episode: "Haunted" (1x10) [[spoiler:Averted. This episode is foreshadowing the events of "Epitaph One" and, according to Whedon, most of season two.]]
* FirstNameBasis: "You know, you can call me Boyd." LampshadeHanging provided by Topher. "''Boyd''? What, are you guys ''buddies'' now?"
* {{Flynning}}: Roger!Victor and Adelle's recreational fencing match in "A Spy in the House of Love" (1x09) used foils in saber-fencing style. Badly. It [[RuleofCool looks cool]], sure, but in reality is eye-gougingly awful technique.
* FiveYearPlan: the Actives are meant to be released with their original personalities after five years.
* ForegoneConclusion: "Epitaph One" and "Epitaph Two" show where the world will be in a few years (and dear God is it not pretty).
** In "Getting Closer" (2x11), a whole scene from "Epitaph One" is reused within the series' "present day," which almost guarantees that the other things we saw in that episode will come to pass as well.
** And [[spoiler:the conclusion of "The Hollow Men" (2x12) takes viewers directly into the "Epitaph One" hell-on-earth of 2020, which is also the setting of the series finale "Epitaph Two: Return" (2x13).]]
* {{Foreshadowing}}: A minor example, but in 1x07, "Echoes", Victor is imprinted as a high-ranking NSA consultant to help with the campus clean-up. [[spoiler: He pulls rank on Dominic, who is, ironically, revealed as a mole for the NSA two episodes later.]]
** In 1x08, "Needs", [[spoiler:Dr. Saunders]] is among the Actives being blindly released to the world, [[spoiler:foreshading the reveal that she's an Active.]]
** In 1x11, "Briar Rose," a restrained character asks for a drink before being sedated. [[spoiler: Dominic in Victor's body is sedated while resisting helping Adelle and Topher access the information from Alpha. He is restrained by Dr. Saunders, and says 'whiskey' imploringly. Dr. Saunders is revealed to be a doll the next episode, with a call-sign of Whiskey.]]
* FreakyFridayFlip: In "Belle Chose" (2x03), Echo and Victor's imprints are swapped by accident.
* FreezeFrameBonus: in 1x12, "Stephen Kepler" hacks the Dollhouse's computer using... HTML tags.
* FullFrontalAssault: [[spoiler: Paul]] in "Epitaph Two: Return" (2x13) after [[spoiler:infiltrating Neuropolis as one of Harding's potential new hosts]].
* FunWithAcronyms: A flashback in "Getting Closer" (2x11) shows the first encounter of Caroline and Bennett... at the '''T'''ucson '''I'''nstitute of '''T'''echnology. Hmmm...
* FutureSlang: "Dumbshows," "Butchers" and so on in both "Epitaphs."
* GainaxEnding: "Epitaph One" as a MindScrew Ending subtype. "Epitaph Two" also counts -- think of all the viewers who watched it without having seen (or heard of) the first half.
* GambitRoulette:
** [[spoiler: Alpha's]] machinations and improbable foresight drove the plot from the second episode.
** [[spoiler: How the hell did he know they wouldn't shoot Echo in "Grey Hour" after he wiped her?]]
** [[spoiler: Dollhouse would find her too valuable, he was probably ready to rescue her in a pinch, and he's stark-raving mad.]]
*** [[spoiler: Above troper is likely talking about the thieves Echo was trapped with; the Dollhouse had no reason to shoot her.]]
** [[spoiler: Boyd]] getting himself installed as [[spoiler:Echo's handler]] so he could keep tabs on her. Not to mention giving permission for Sierra to be permanently imprinted and sent to Nolan and later having Adelle demoted, all to test Topher and Adelle to see if they were worthy to be among the chosen few who survive the thoughtpocalypse.
* GeekyTurnOn: Topher and Bennett, mutually. Eventually leads to a PairTheSmartOnes situation. [[spoiler: It doesn't last long.]]
* GenderBender:
** "Belle Chose" (2x03).
** In "The Hollow Men" (2x12) [[spoiler:Whiskey/Claire Saunders is imprinted with the evil copy of Rossum co-founder, Clyde Randolph.]]
* TheGhost: Judith, Adelle's secretary. Referred to several times, never seen.
* GirlishPigtails:
** Ivy sports them from time to time, in keeping with her role as the second most immature employee at the Dollhouse (the first being Topher). But in the second season Ivy's hairstyles mature along with her personality.
** Also, Echo's persona "Kiki" in "Belle Chose" (2x03), sports pigtails to add to the sexy student look.
** And Sierra, as Audra the super fan in "Stage Fright" (1x03).
* GoMadFromTheRevelation: [[spoiler:Topher]] appears to have done this in a ''big'' way, in the future shown in "Epitaph One" (1x13).
* GoneHorriblyRight: A lot of the problems in the show result from them successfully improving their technology. There's also [[spoiler:Alpha's attempt to create Omega by combining all of Echo's former imprints into one. However, since most of them weren't completely psycho, Omega doesn't take well to Alpha's idea of killing Caroline over and over again, and hits Alpha with a pipe.]]
* GoodFeelsGood: The reason for Echo assignment in "Briar Rose":
-->Topher: Everybody wants to be righteous when they can afford it. Even Topher Brink. This feeling, it is not unlike pride.
* GoodPowersBadPeople: In "Briar Rose", when Paul and Stephen are breaking into the Dollhouse:
--> Paul:This is a bad place.
--> Stephen: Bad people, maybe. Good place.
* GoodScarsEvilScars: Dr. Saunders seems to be one of the nicest members of the Dollhouse, but her face looks like the Hunter from WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}.
* TheGoodTheBadAndTheEvil: To say the show uses this trope a lot would be to understate dreadfully. While actives themselves are good, Paul Ballard is good-ish, and the entire LA Dollhouse staff is [[BlackAndGreyMorality deeply grey]]. We all just agree Alpha is evil as are the people in charge of Rossum as a whole. And by the end this has fragmented even further. [[spoiler: The surviving staff of the LA Dollhouse are firmly on the good side, and so is, surprisingly enough, Alpha. Victor and a few others have gone grayer, but by now the only true evil people are the remnants of Rossum.]]
* GrandTheftMe: suggested in "Haunted," though Adelle doesn't approve. Later, in "Epitaph One," we find out that [[spoiler:this is or will become Rossum's long term business plan -- selling off the dolls as replacement bodies for tidy nine-figure sums. Adelle still doesn't approve, and presumably makes her "defining choice" by reclaiming Victor's body.]]
* GranolaGirl: Caroline, although other flashbacks in season two reveal a grittier, tougher side to her.
* GraveRobbing: OK, so it's more "brain" robbing, but still counts in "Haunted".
* GreenLanternRing: The whole premise of the dolls sets up this effect, allowing the writers to give Echo skill X in one episode, and then skill Y (but not X) in the next episode. As well as seemingly giving Alpha skills A through Z, as well as skills 1-100, when he glitched.
** And then Echo gets the ability to switch and merge her skills at will in season 2.
* GunmanWithThreeNames:
** In "Omega" (1x12) it is revealed [[spoiler:Alpha's original name was Carl William Kraft]]. Lampshaded when Ballard says "Three names, always ominous."
** Likewise the sociopathic "Terry Marion Karrens" from "Belle Chose" (2x03), with more Ballard snark: "[[GenderBlenderName Any part of that a boy's name]]?"
* TheHandler: All dolls have caretakers referred to as "handlers". Ex-cop Boyd was specifically requested to be Echo's handler, because her last one was [[spoiler:carved up by Alpha]]. Boyd was later [[spoiler:promoted to head of security]] when [[spoiler:Dominic turned out to be the mole. A new handler, Travis, has been introduced.]] As of the end of the second-season premiere, [[spoiler:Ballard has been selected to become Echo's new handler.]]
* HaveYouToldAnyoneElse?:
** In "Getting Closer" (2x11) [[spoiler:when Bennett Halverson tells Dr. Saunders she can fully restore Caroline, who knows who the head of Rossum is, Saunders shoots her in the head.]]
** In "Hollow Men" (2X12) [[spoiler:when Topher lets Boyd know that he had worked out they had a mole... because Boyd was the one he trusted the most... and Boyd thanked him earnestly for trusting him. Then he made an excuse to split up... and sent operatives to kill Victor/Tony and Priya/Sierra.]]
* HeelFaceDoorSlam: [[spoiler:Bennett Halverson]]. She's being helpful, albeit mainly just so she can get her revenge, and she's even [[spoiler:hitting it off with Topher]], and [[spoiler:Saunders/Whiskey]] walks in and ''shoots her''. [[{{HSQ}} Holy Shit!]]
%%* HeelFaceReturn: Alpha in the series finale.
* HeelFaceRevolvingDoor:
** Adelle, through much of the series. Observe: She starts off as AntiVillain - [[MagnificentBastard HBIC]] of the shady dollhouse, though somehow keeping the well-being of the actives a priority. She then caves when Harding's orders her to [[spoiler: permanently imprint Sierra as the wife of her massively crazy StalkerWithACrush]], but feels really guilty about it and [[LadyDrunk drinks a lot]]. She becomes Topher's confidante after having been demoted, until she [[spoiler: betrays him and hands over the keys to the [[EndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt Thoughtpocalypse-mobile]] to get her swank office back]]. But she still feels really guilty and drinks a lot. Sensing a pattern?
** The final FaceHeelTurn of sending Echo [[spoiler: to [[AndIMustScream The Attic]]]] was in fact[[spoiler: only because she's a MagnificentBastard working all sides -- she only appears to be evil to her staff and the viewers until the last moments of "The Attic" (2x10).]]
** Bennett appears to have been through it a few times as well, serving as Caroline's ReverseMole until Caroline's martyr complex left Bennett without the use of her left arm, then turning face again in "Getting Closer" (2x11) [[spoiler:only to get [[RedemptionEqualsDeath murdered.]]]]
* HeelFaceTurn:
** Dominic ''saves'' Echo in "The Attic" (2x10). Yes, the same guy that spent half of season 1 trying to kill her. Dominic lampshades it too with the quip "I'm glad I didn't kill you."
** Alpha is an ally in the future.
* HeelRealization: Topher, beginning in "Vows" and continuing in "Belonging".
** Although there were signs beforehand.
* HellBentForLeather:
** Both Echo and Sierra when they take on the persona of "Taffy".
** And Echo again at the start of "A Spy in the House of Love" (1x09), albeit [[{{Stripperiffic}} considerably less of it.]]
* HeroAntagonist: Agent Paul Ballard in the first season is pretty firmly in this territory. Senator Daniel Perrin appears to be [[spoiler:until it's revealed he is actually a doll himself and his investigation is actually a EvilPlan by Rossum.]]
* HeroicBSOD:
** Echo goes into this during "Ghost" (1x01) when one of the kidnappers with whom she's negotiating [[spoiler:turns out to have kidnapped and raped the girl who originally had that template personality]]. [[spoiler:Who eventually committed suicide.]] Nice going, Dollhouse.
** Technically goes into a variant in "Gray Hour" (1x04) as well, after she becomes remotely mind-wiped on a mission, which turns out to provide instant sensory overload.
** In "Epitaph One" (1x13), [[spoiler:Topher]] seems to have gone into a permanent one of these. The prelude to which comes in "Belonging." [[spoiler:"I was just trying to help her...."]]
** As of "Vows" (2x01), Dr. Saunders has been hit pretty hard by this trope.
** In "Getting Closer" (2x11), Topher goes into one when [[spoiler:sleeper!Whiskey kills Bennett.]]
%%* HeroicSacrifice:
* HesDeadJim: When [[spoiler: Paul is forcibly mindwiped]] by Alpha and becomes unresponsive, Alpha quips, "When did you die?". Echo enters the room, and says he's "dead", presumably using her spider sense, and Alpha retorts "brain dead". [[spoiler: In fact, he's in a vegetative state, as revealed at the episode's end, but Echo would have known that if she checked for a pulse.]] RuleOfDrama is certainly at play, considering at least one of Echo's personae is a nurse.
* HiddenDepths:
** Under the effects of a MushroomSamba, Boyd plays an excerpt from [[Music/FryderykChopin Chopin's]] ''Fantasie-Impromptu'' in C-sharp minor, demonstrating that while he's not at the pro level, he's definitely had years of piano experience. (TruthInTelevision: Creator/HarryLennix played that scene himself. Also true: the rest of the ''Fantasie-Impromptu'' is a great deal harder!)
** In "Haunted" (1x10), he briefly muses about the nature of immortality.
** In "Getting Closer" (2x11), well... oh dear God ... [[spoiler:Boyd Langton is the founder and director of the Rossum Corporation]].
* HiveMind: "Operation Mindwhisper" in "Stop-Loss" (2x09) is a Rossum attempt to weaponize it.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: [[spoiler:Boyd in "The Hollow Men" (2x12). He even goes boom!]]
* HorribleJudgeOfCharacter: In Haunted, it turns out that Margaret didn't know her immediate family well at all before her death, thus alienating them. [[spoiler:She and her brother made up only days before her death after years of being too stubborn to talk to each other, her daughter hates her for being a control freak and her son murdered her to get at the inheritance, causing her husband to be bequeathed with her horses (which she deemed her most valuable property, but he can't stand).]]
* HostageForMacGuffin: [[spoiler:Adelle trades Topher's remote imprinting device blueprints for control of her Dollhouse. The ramifications of this lead to "Epitaph One".]]
* HotForTeacher: Kiki, Echo's imprint in "Belle Chose" (2x03)
* HotLibrarian: {{Lampshaded}} by Echo's handler in "Echo" (1x01) when he's questioning why her current identity has to wear glasses when nothing is wrong with her vision. Topher has made her temporarily nearsighted.
** Topher also describes Bennett Halverson this way in "The Left Hand" (2x06).
* HotScientist: Amy Acker's character.
* HumansAreBastards: Lubov seems to think so. So does Ballard--witness his exposition in the pilot as to why a multibillionaire would bother hiring a Doll or his speech to Lubov that leads to the "People are mostly crap" line.
* HuntingTheMostDangerousGame: "The Target" (1x02). [[ShoutOut Subtly]] {{Lampshaded}}, since the baddie's fake name is "Richard Connell," the author of "Literature/TheMostDangerousGame".
* HurricaneOfExcuses: The "medicinal carrots" line from "Briar Rose" (1x11) -- see the CrowningMomentOfFunny page for the whole thing.

[[folder:Tropes I-L]]
%%* IAmVeryBritish: TropeNamer
* ICanSeeMyHouseFromHere: Lubov says this from the penthouse balcony in "Stage Fright" (1x03). It's in an ironic fashion, along with "look at the pretty lights" and "the people look like ants".
* IdiotBall: Paul demanding that [[spoiler: they let Mellie out of her contract]] as a condition for [[spoiler: his working for the Dollhouse]] was noble and loving. However, [[spoiler: Mellie didn't actually remember anything, and thus was of no assistance to him in his quest. If he had asked for Caroline's freedom instead, it would have been a huge step forward for him.]]
* IJustShotMarvinInTheFace: Averted in Stop Loss by Victor/Anthony; he handles the various guns he carries like a soldier (because he is one). More than that, he uses a real-world weapon ready position (SUL) when handling his pistol during his rescue. This continues in the next episode where he steps in and out of cover like a trained soldier.
* IKEAWeaponry: The LoonyFan's sniper rifle, which is assembled from parts hidden in his crutches, just like in ''[[ShoutOut The Day of the Jackal]]''.
* IKnowYoureInThereSomewhereFight -- [[spoiler:Twice in "The Hollow Men" (2x12), first played straight with Mellie's sleeper personality, then averted with Clyde in Whiskey's body.]]
* InAWorld: Topher tries to narrate his game of laser tag like this in "Haunted" (1x10), but can't manage to make it sound that epic.
* IndenturedServitude: It's never called out by name, but this is what the Dolls amount to. They have all signed contracts with the Dollhouse to give away their bodies for a certain in number of years, during which they are [[BrainUploading fitted with new personality downloads]] and hired out to rich clients on 'engagements', often sexual in nature. Of course, these contracts are illegal by modern standards. One ex-doll even tries to go public after her years of indentured servitude are up to expose the Dollhouse.
* InnocentFanserviceGirl: All of the Actives, in their resting state. November doesn't seem to have any problem with the co-ed shower when she regains her memories, either.
%%* InstantExpert: Literally. Invoked. With. Actives.
* InstantSedation: In "Instinct" (2x02), the injected sedatives work unrealistically fast.
* InsufferableGenius:
** Topher. "You're in ''my'' house, Laurence! Of the two people here, one of us is a genius and the other is a security guard in a very lovely suit!"
** Stephen Kepler, in "Briar Rose" (1x11). Though in more the CloudCuckoolander sense than the "dick" sense.
** And Bennett Halverson, in ''both'' senses.
%%* IntelligenceEqualsIsolation: Topher, Bennett. Probably Adelle to some extent.
* TheInternetIsForPorn: In "Man on the Street" (1x06), Echo is cast as the wife of an Internet entrepreneur. When Ballard bursts in on them with a gun, she immediately assumes that her husband has gotten involved in Internet porn.
%%* IntoxicationEnsues: "Echoes" (1x07).
* IronicEcho: What Echo, no pun intended, does to the founder of Rossum. See the CatchPhrase examples above.
* IronicEchoCut: [[spoiler:After "defeating" Rossum:]]
--->[[spoiler:'''Ballard''': So, did we save the world?]]
--->[[spoiler:'''Echo''': I guess we did.]]
--->[[spoiler:Cut to "Ten Years Later", where the apocalypse is still happening.]]
* IronicNurseryTune: The theme song manages to sound completely innocent and completely creepy at the same time.
* ISayWhatISay: Topher and Victor-as-Topher get some of this in "The Left Hand".
* ItCanThink: Topher's shocked stare at Echo when she recognises his role in the house, and then orders him to [[NeuralImplanting imprint her]] so she can help [[spoiler:catch the spy]]. This is ''before'' [[spoiler:the composite event, too]].
* IWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: In "Epitaph Two", from [[spoiler: Alpha]], of all people, albeit with a creepy twist. [[spoiler:In "A Love Supreme" (2x08), Alpha had imprinted himself with Ballard's personality, leaving Ballard brain-dead for two episodes. Upon witnessing Echo's grief at losing Ballard, he downloaded Ballard onto a wedge and left it behind, so that Echo could add Paul's personality to her own composite. Which would make things ''very'' awkward should they decide to break up.]]
* JitterCam: Progressively more noticeable throughout the second season, and finally hits the wall in "The Attic" (2x10).
* JustAFleshWound:
** Averted. Ballard's gunshot wound bothers him for most of the season.
** Adelle in "A Spy in the House of Love" waits quite a while without much reaction to have her gunshot wound treated. Though she does consider it a "graze".
* KansasCityShuffle: [[spoiler:''Everything'' in "Briar Rose" (1x11). Joss even pulled one on the ''audience'' with the "Briar [=Rose/=]Literature/SleepingBeauty" misdirect.]]
* KarmicDeath:
** [[spoiler:Sierra's rapist handler, whom [=DeWitt=] could have had shot by Mister Dominic, was instead slaughtered by an apparently helpless female Active. It did not lack for poetry.]]
** [[spoiler:Boyd]] at the end of "The Hollow Men", [[spoiler:wiped and turned into a Doll who is used to destroy the Rossum HQ]].
** And, in a sadder version of this, [[spoiler:Topher dies detonating the device that will restore everyone in the world's mind to its original state, after spending the entire series screwing with people's heads.]]
* KickTheDog:
** Cindy Perrin gets one of these in "The Left Hand" (2x06).
** Claire gets a brief one in "Omega" (1x12). She makes it up later, though.
--->'''Victor:''' How can I be my best now? Dr. Saunders, how can I be my best, please?
--->'''Claire:''' You can't, Victor! You can't be your best. Your best is past. Your past you can't even remember. You're ugly now. You're disgusting. The best you can hope for now is pity. And for that, you're going to have to look somewhere else.
** [[spoiler:She gets another]] in "Getting Closer" (2x11) when [[spoiler:she kills Bennett]], with Topher as the dog.
%%* KillTheCutie: [[spoiler:Bennett Halverson.]] That is all.
%%* KnifeNut: Alpha.
* KnightInShiningArmor: The show seems to be viciously attacking this trope. This forms part of Senator Perrin and his wife's [[spoiler:handler imprint]].
* KnightInSourArmor: Boyd. [[spoiler:Ballard is headed this way by the end of the first season.]]
* LadyDrunk: Adelle, though less about age, more being provoked by the pressures of a wavering moral compass.
%%* LaughablyEvil: Alpha can be this at times.
* LaymansTerms: "Oh, [[MrExposition I]] do the English part? [[AlwaysSomeoneBetter That's new.]]"
* LeaveTheTwoLovebirdsAlone: Echo had been helping Bennett with the wedge reconstruction until Topher showed up, at which point she quickly made an excuse to leave the room. [[spoiler:Which was ''unfortunate''...]]
* LeftHanging: The [[spoiler:HiveMind]] technology introduced in Stop-Loss [[spoiler:foreshadows the secret of the Attic and Rossum's mainframe]], but after that, it never comes up again.
* {{Leitmotif}}: Despite being a minor character, Bennett has one--or better, Bennett and Topher's ship has one.
* LetsGetDangerous: November is a special type of doll known as a "sleeper". As is [[spoiler:Whiskey, on her return.]]
* LittleMissBadass: [[spoiler: Iris definitely counts for one, when she gets Echo's backup copy downloaded into her. She leaves the category at the end of "Epitaph Two: Return" when she and all the other Actives get their original selves returned.]]
%%* LittleMissSnarker: See above.
* LittlestCancerPatient: Already dead before the show begins. [[spoiler:This was what led to Madeline becoming November.]]
%%* LivingDollCollector: Terry Karrens in "Belle Chose" (2x03).
%%* LockAndLoad: In the second episode.
%%* LonelyAtTheTop: Rayna Russell.
%%* LoonyFan: The villain in "Stage Fright" (1x03).
%%* LossOfIdentity: One of the show's main themes.
* LostInCharacter: Echo's "power", retaining imprints.
* LotusEaterMachine: The feared "Attic" is revealed to be an inversion of this. It's a giant neural network where people that the [[MegaCorp Rossum Corporation]] deemed to be a threat are hooked up to [[WetwareCPU use their brains for their computational power]]. The person who's plugged in experiences their worst nightmares playing out in front of them, such as their friends dying and being unable to help, fighting an endless, hopeless battle against an enemy that never gives up, or ''being fed your own legs for dinner''. [[spoiler:The oldest person who was trapped inside, Rossum's former co-founder, had been travelling from one personal nightmare to the other to MercyKill as many people as he could and hopefully stop Rossum.]]
* LoveAtFirstSight: [[spoiler: Sierra/Priya actually fell in love with Victor the first time she met him, which was while he had the imprint of an Italian art dealer. Those feelings persisted in both of them well afterward.]]
* LoveMakesYouEvil:
** Alpha. Hoo boy, Alpha. Although [[spoiler:Alpha's original personality was evil to start with. Significantly, when Alpha emerges as a sane man in "Epitaph Two," his last gift to Echo is Paul's mind on a hard drive -- by which he steps aside and allows Echo and Paul to be together (in a way).]]
** Nolan. Hoo boy, Nolan. [[spoiler:For the girl he loves, he gets her unjustly forced into a mental institution, faking a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia so no one believes her. He forces her into the Dollhouse, pretending it's for her own good, then regularly hires her to have his way with her however he wants.]]

[[folder:Tropes M-P]]
%%* MadnessMantra: "I know what I know."
%%* MadScientist:
%%** Topher
%%** Bennett
%%* MadScientistLaboratory: The chair room. Also, Alpha's copy of it in "Omega" (1x12).
* TheMainCharactersDoEverything: There are more than 20 Actives in the L.A. Dollhouse. Guaranteed, if a particular engagement involves the MythArc, it will go to Echo, Sierra, Victor, or November. This makes sense for Echo, because [[spoiler:both Alpha and Boyd are obsessed with her]], but there is nothing special about the other three.
* MamaBear:
** Echo becomes one in "Instinct," thanks to Topher's fiddling, even after she gets wiped.
** Adelle toward her Actives. In "The Left Hand" (2x06) she even goes as far as [[GroinAttack brutally squeezing the genitals]] of the head of the DC Dollhouse and threatening to his face to have him horrifically murdered - without any trace of a bluff - if he doesn't return Echo to her. Later, in "Epitaph One" and "Epitaph Two: Return" she is like this with [[spoiler:Topher.]]
%%* TheManBehindTheMan: [[spoiler:Boyd.]]
* ManchurianAgent: [[spoiler:Mellie fits this like a tailored suit.]] Turns out [[spoiler:Senator Perrin]] is one as well.
* ManySpiritsInsideOfOne: [[spoiler:Alpha and Echo, since they don't forget their imprints.]]
* MeaningfulBackgroundEvent: Easy to miss, but in episode 1x05, as the cultists are buying supplies, you can see a man in a low-pulled cap walking past in the foreground, then slipping out of the store in the background.
* MeaningfulName:
** "Echo" and "Alpha" (also see ThemeNaming below).
** Richard Connell is the name of the guy who wrote "Literature/TheMostDangerousGame".
** Rossum built "robots" in the play ''RUR''... who were actually not mechanical but rather biological, i.e. basically human (...and who [[spoiler:overthrew their masters by the end of the play, no less.]] Foreshadowing, perhaps?). "Rossum" actually [[spoiler:isn't the name of the founder, but rather was ''taken'' from the play]]. LampshadeHanging?
** In a bit of a punny variant: [[spoiler:Arcane = Our Cain]].
** We briefly see a doll named Kilo. Topher points out: "She weighs one kilo!"
** "Addle the Wit" anyone?
** Topher ''Brink''. [[spoiler: He goes over it.]]
* MegaCorp: Rossum Corporation, which is in everything from [=MRIs=] (they've cornered the market) to mercenaries (they're developing [[spoiler:a HiveMind]] for just this purpose).
* MenAreUncultured: Averted during "Gray Hour" (1x04). One of the thieves is an art geek brought along for his expertise, but when he says they're there to steal "the Parthenon" one of the other thieves goes, "Isn't that kinda big?" Putting him ahead of the (large) number of people who don't even know what it is.
* MentalFusion: "Stop-Loss" (2x09) reveals that Rossum is creating an army of soldiers who are mind-linked, sharing everything that each one of them thinks, sees, and hears. This comes back to bite them when the army's newest recruit, [[spoiler:Victor's original personality, Anthony]], turns against them and is not only able to predict their every move, but can even turn other soldiers against the hive mind.
* MergerOfSouls: Echo and Alpha both have 40+ personalities inhabiting a single body. It is clearly shown in Echo's case that her "main" personality is an amalgamation of all the personalities she has been imprinted with, though she can seamlessly slip into one specific personality when needed. With Alpha, it's not as clearly defined and there are even a couple scenes where two or more of his personalities are openly arguing with each other. He does seem to have one "main" personality that is in overall control, though it is never clearly shown if this "main" personality is an amalgamation of all his personalities like Echo's is.
* MilitaryAlphabet: The Los Angeles Dollhouse names its Actives from it. Washington DC uses Greek gods instead, suggesting that each branch uses a different scheme.
** This could theoretically lead to multiple-doll pairings such as "Hotel Uniform" or "Golf Uniform," if they follow the entire alphabet.
** "Romeo Juliet."
* MindHive: Both Echo and her EvilCounterpart Alpha eventually transform into a new type of being with multiple personalities simultaneously inhabiting the same person. When Echo is asked if she would want to go back to her original personality Caroline, she states that she is no longer that person and is now her own entity.
* MindProbe
* MindRape: ''The entire premise of the show!''
* MirrorMatch: [[spoiler:Victor's Attic nightmare, in which he's forced to fight Taliban insurgents who look like him (and are played by Gjokaj's twin brother, as previously mentioned).]]
* MisappliedPhlebotinum: The show is unapologetic about this. The Dollhouse technology could clearly be used for many, many things other than what it is used for in the show. For example, education: you could imprint someone with their own personality, plus whatever skills they wanted to learn. Many people wouldn't need to go to school, ever again, or the reverse, a cure for post-traumatic stress syndrome by editing out that reflex levels of traumatic experiences. Similarly, in one episode, characters describe how someone could become effectively immortal at the expense of others, by making backups of their mind and imprinting themselves into a new body whenever they die. The ability to turn ''human minds'' into data and implement them on any human brain would change society radically. However, the characters are well aware of the implications, and came to the conclusion that TheWorldIsNotReady. And boy were they right.
** Ballard talks about this in the first episode: because the Dollhouse technology is so new and expensive, only the very rich have access to it, and all the rich care about doing with it is getting a shag or a giggle.
** This is likely a very good thing. Anybody want to lay bets that, should somebody attempt in-series to implant skills within their personality or attempt to cure post-traumatic stress syndrome, would turn out to be a rather bad idea?
** The "uploading different skills" use seemed to work very well, with the example of [[spoiler: Senator Perrin]] in "The Public Eye." [[spoiler:His original personality was a drunken partyboy voted "Most likely to die in his own vomit", his imprint is an ambitious, charismatic senator version of himself intent on taking down Rossum.]]
** Curing PTSD worked rather well as well, as we find out Victor's original personality Anthony had PTSD from being stationed in Afghanistan, which was edited out of his personality by Topher during Victor's contract. It worked rather well, except for the Mind Whisper incident.
* TheMole: [[spoiler:Dominic.]] There has been much fan speculation that he's not the only one. And he isn't. [[spoiler:Boyd has been pulling the strings all along.]]
* MomentKiller: Moments after Topher and Bennett kiss, Saunders totally kills the moment [[spoiler:by shooting Bennett in the head]].
%%* MoodWhiplash: In spades.
* [[EvilBrit Morally Rather Gray Brit]]: Adelle [=DeWitt=]
%%* MushroomSamba: "Echoes" (1x07).
* Musical {{Homage}}: "Omega" (1x12) ends with Beck's "Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime," which is included in ''Film/EternalSunshineOfTheSpotlessMind'''s soundtrack.
** The discordant keyboard tune that plays over some Topher scenes in the second season (notably, during the 'Bride of Frankenstein' sequence in the first episode) is highly reminiscent of the music from the Queen song ''Machines (Back To Humans)''.
* MythologyGag: Echo calls Topher "Shaggy" in one of the flashbacks in "Belonging," a seeming callback to the "Scooby gangs" on previous Whedon shows.
* {{Namedar}}
--> '''Topher''': How did you know it was called a disruptor?
--> '''Bennett''': What else would you call it?
* NerdGlasses:
** Sierra wears these as part of her identity as Audra, the "number one fan" of the pop star Rayna Russell.
** Topher enthuses over Bennett wearing these on a chain around her neck:
--->'''Topher-in-Victor''': Glasses?
--->'''Topher''': Glasses on a chain!
--->'''Topher-in-Victor''': For the ''win!''
* NerdInEvilsHelmet: Arcane, [[spoiler:revealed to be Clyde Randolph,]] in "The Attic".
* NerdsAreSexy: The entire attraction between Topher and Bennett is founded on this, they get turned on by each other's technobabble. Topher even admits he had a crush on her before he even met her simply due to reading her research. "You know I always had a crush on you, even when I thought you were a dude."
-->''This is better.''
* NeverSpeakIllOfTheDead: Averted in Haunted. Most of the dead person's relatives aren't all that unhappy about her being gone, mostly due to a combination of well-meant actions that weren't well-received (And then there's the one person who murdered her to get at the inheritance...)
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: All Ballard's attempted infiltration of the Dollhouse in "Briar Rose" accomplished was to distract the staff while [[spoiler:Alpha]] made his move.
* NiceJobFixingItVillain: Oh, so much. [[spoiler:Alpha's]] machinations give Echo the ability to [[spoiler:switch seamlessly between imprints without a machine]], and everything that [=DeWitt=] and the Dollhouse do during the course of the entire series to try to fix, contain, or destroy her simply makes her stronger.
* NoPlansNoPrototypeNoBackup: Averted in "The Hollow Men" (2x12). Topher specifically lists the prototypes, the plans for the prototypes, and all the equipment used to make the prototypes as things needing to be destroyed. [[spoiler:It doesn't help.]]
* NoSuchThingAsHR: Paul Ballard eventually [[spoiler:gets fired from the FBI]], but not until well after he's shouted down superiors and gotten into blows with another agent over personal insults. Perhaps justified in that he'd already been dead-ended from the rest of the agency for such behavior.
* NotHelpingYourCase: When being interviewed to try and expose the spy in the House (who had installed a chip into the chair to corrupt Imprints), Ivy claims she could tear apart and reassemble Topher's equipment without him ever knowing. Only after she says this does she realise how bad that sounds. [[spoiler:Subverted; she isn't the spy anyway; it was Dominic]].
* NothingPersonal: Said by the hired goon to Boyd in "The Target" (1x02).
* NotSoDifferent: In the commentary track for "Man on the Street" (1x06), Joss Whedon points out that everything Hearn says during his [[PerpSweating interrogation]] by [[ALighterShadeOfGray Adelle and Dominic]] is a completely valid observation about the troubling nature of how the Dollhouse works.
-->'''Hearn''': "How is this any different from sending her out to put her under some fat old emir? Does that make it better, because she believes she's in love for all of a day?"
* ObfuscatingStupidity:
** [[spoiler:"Stephen Kepler" aka Alpha]] uses this trick in [[spoiler:"Briar Rose" (1x11)]].
** Echo also used this increasingly in season two, as she pushed the staff into difficult situations and challenged the dolls to expand their thinking. One example is found in "Belonging" (2x04) when Boyd notices her secretly reading a real book, something a wiped Active shouldn't be able to do. He calls Echo on it:
--->'''Echo''': I can make out some of the words. It's fun. Exercising our brains makes us our best.
--->'''Boyd''': Echo, when did you learn how to lie?
* OneSteveLimit: Averted, as [[spoiler:Clyde Randolph and Clive Ambrose]] don't turn out to be the same person, although this may have been an intentional RedHerring.
* OntologicalMystery: (''Needs'') Possibly the first time this has been used well into the narrative, rather than the beginning. Echo, Sierra and Victor (or rather, Caroline, Priya and Anthony) wake up as themselves, but have no memory of the Dollhouse. Bewildered but aware they are captives, they immediately set out to escape, while trying to figure out how they ended up there in the first place.
* OperationJealousy: The unaired pilot's opening montage of Echo's engagements includes one where a middle-aged man brings Echo as his date to the wedding of a much younger ex-girlfriend with this intention. Judging by the bride's reaction, it got under her skin at the very least.
* OutlawCouple: Alpha as "Bobby" and [[spoiler:Whiskey, and later Echo]] as "Crystal."
* OutrunTheFireball: [[spoiler:Echo]], at the conclusion of "The Hollow Men" (2x12).
* PainfulTransformation: The tissue mapping involved in the installation of Active Architecture [[spoiler:or getting sent to the Attic]] is a very painful process.
* TheParagon:
** Caroline's drive to "save the world" constantly shines through in Echo, helping her to protect and inspire the people around her. [[spoiler:By the time Epitaph One takes place, she's become something of a cynical, badass Messiah to those left in the Dollhouse]].
** Notable line from "True Believer" (1x05), while trying to get a cultist out of a burning building:
--> '''Echo/Esther''': The blind girl is looking you in the eye, do you know what that means? It means God brought me here, He has a message for you. That message... is ''move your ass!!''
* PeopleJars: Anyone sent to [[AFateWorseThanDeath The Attic]] is [[spoiler:put on life-support and ''vacuum-sealed''.]]
* PercussiveMaintenance:
** "Vows" (2x01) features a flesh-and-blood version of this, in which Paul Ballard's repeated punching of a captured Echo causes her to cycle through her personalities until she locks onto the fighter imprint that battled Ballard himself several months earlier (in "Man on the Street"). Echo turns the tables on her captor, arms dealer Martin Klar, subduing him and saving the day. This is the first time this will happen to Echo, but hardly the last.
** In "True Believer" (1x05), Echo (as the blind Esther) is struck by Jonas Sparrow, [[spoiler:short-circuiting the camera implanted in her head and]] restoring her sight.
* PetTheDog:
** [=DeWitt=]'s willingness to take a shitstorm from her superiors to ensure that [[spoiler:no other Active gets abused the way Sierra did]] as well as her consenting to [[spoiler:Echo finishing the engagement with Internet Guy.]]
** Topher gets one in "Briar Rose" (1x11), designing the engagement to help the traumatized little girl, which apparently no-one actually paid for.
** As part of his agreement with the Dollhouse, [[spoiler:Ballard has them let November go free.]]
** Topher in "Getting Closer"[[spoiler:to Ivy: "You have a remarkable brain. I think it should stay in your head. Ivy, don't become me. Go. Go!"]]
* PhlebotinumBreakdown: Echo seems to glitch an awful lot. First when she's drugged up in "The Target" (1x02), then she gets remote wiped in "Gray Hour" (1x04), then the return of Caroline's memories in "Echoes" (1x07), and then she wonders out loud what she's been imprinted as this time in "Vows" (2x01). In fairness, at least three of these glitches could have happened to any doll in the same circumstances, as all were caused by physical trauma of some sort (including Echo having her head slammed into a desk in "Vows"). Only the incident in "Echoes" can be considered something with mostly internal causes; though a drug caused that glitch, it manifested itself through Echo/Caroline's ingrained memories.
** This is a plot point really. [[spoiler: The reason Boyd chose Caroline to become Echo was because of her unique physiology that helped her resist imprinting at a neural level. All this glitching is just that ability come to the fore.]]
* PhlebotinumRebel: Echo and probably Alpha, depending on who you consider the bad guys to be.
* PinkMist: A stunned Topher is misted by blood from [[spoiler:Bennett Halverson]] when she gets shot by whoever [[spoiler:Whiskey]] was being at that time.
* ThePlan: With a dash of BatmanGambit. [[spoiler:Alpha killed the environmental specialist and posed as him. Ballard "forces" him into the Dollhouse, and basically distracts Boyd and [=DeWitt=] while Alpha waltzes in and gets Echo. If Ballard had succeeded in getting Echo out, Alpha would only have had to take her away from him.]]
* PoweredByAForsakenChild: The Attic. At first glance, it's a collective nightmare where Rossum sequesters its worst enemies. However, it's later revealed to be [[spoiler:a system for turning people into processors for a massive neural-net supercomputer.]] While also being the first thing.
* ThePowerOfLove: Sierra and Victor recognize each other no matter what imprint they are given.
** Seeing Sierra in "Stop-Loss" (2x09) helps Victor [[spoiler:disengage from the MentalFusion of the Rossum super soldiers.]]
* PowerPerversionPotential: The poster child for the trope as, unlike most other works, it engages with and explores those dark little mind-control/brainwashing fantasies as part of the premise. [[FanDisservice Then throws them in your face]].
** Seen on multiple levels. First, there's the sheer number of engagements that involve dangerous, illegal, or... well, [[ShapedLikeItself perverted]] activities. Beyond that is the very existence of the Dollhouses - a technology with the potential to completely revolutionize fields from education to psychiatry is used almost exclusively for the creation of stables of brainwashed slaves.
* PowerTrio: Ostensibly, Topher Brink (Id), Adelle [=DeWitt=](Ego), and Boyd Langton(Superego). May also be a FiveManBand when one includes Claire Saunders and Paul Ballard.[[spoiler:This is later Jossed when it is revealed that Boyd is the BigBad and that Claire Saunders has been evicted from Whiskey's head.]]
* PrecisionFStrike: Topher is kinda out there and has shaky morals [[spoiler:(at least, at the beginning)]], but he remains rather polite throughout the show, so when he [[spoiler:calls Adelle "the coldest bitch on this planet" after she betrayed him and potentially doomed the entire world]], you know things are ''seriously'' screwed up.
* PrimalFear: Plenty of existential dread in brainwash.
%%* PrivateMilitaryContractors: Scytheon
%%* ProperlyParanoid: Agent Ballard.
* PsychicNosebleed: Happens when an Active is on the receiving end of a Disruptor. Used to very cool effect in "The Public Eye" (2x05) [[spoiler:to reveal that Senator Perrin has Active Architecture.]]
* PsychopathicManchild: Victor gets imprinted with one in "Belle Chose" (2x03). [[spoiler:Later, so does Echo.]]
%%* PsychoticSmirk: [[spoiler:Alpha, right after his big reveal.]]
* PunchClockVillain: Dominic lampshades that he is this (though he was drugged at the time).
%%* PunctuatedForEmphasis: From "A Spy in the House of Love" (1x09): "I'm. Not. Broken."
* PutOnABus: Dr. Saunders [[spoiler:leaves after learning her personality is imprinted. Naturally, the Dollhouse wants to find her. November as well.]]

[[folder:Tropes Q-T]]
* RapeAsDrama: Sierra, who was not only raped by her handler but also [[MindRape mind raped]] and forced into the Dollhouse where she is imprinted into being the girlfriend of the guy who forced her in.
* RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil: [=DeWitt=] goes full-on MamaBear when she finds out one of her employees has been raping Sierra. Later, the first overt sign of Topher's morality comes when he resists turning Sierra over to the man who forced her into the Dollhouse (for rejecting his advances before she became an Active.)
%%* RealityEnsues: "And then you sleep with her." "Well, it 'is' a fantasy."
* RealityIsUnrealistic: During the filming of "True Believer," a blind woman was brought on set so Eliza Dushku could portray one realistically. However, when Eliza followed the blind woman's advice, everyone thought that her character didn't look blind because she wasn't acting like blind people usually do on TV. Tim Minear discusses this at about 38:00 of [[http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/2/5/4/25442b9c03c4be6f/sofadogs_dollhouse_1x05.mp3?c_id=2468103&expiration=1386874355&hwt=220fbf492561290e210c874f73dd58b8 this podcast.]]
* RecycledPremise: The setup of Epitaph One is ''extremely'' similar to Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/{{Cell}}''
* RedemptionEqualsDeath: [[spoiler:Bennett agrees to bring back Caroline, makes out with Topher, and then gets shot in the head by Sleeper!Whiskey]]
* RedemptionInTheRain: Adelle has a redemption in the shower [[spoiler:in "Stop-Loss" (2x09) although it's not clear until the end of the next episode, "The Attic".]]
* RedRightHand: [[MadScientist Bennett]] has a dead left arm. She doesn't seem to like talking about it, either.
* ReedRichardsIsUseless: Averted. The whole arc is about the consequences of the technology becoming global, and the profit motive is constantly being discussed.
* ReincarnationRomance: A sci-fi variant with Victor and Sierra. No matter who they're programmed to be -- no matter who they're programmed to be in love with -- they keep finding each other. It's one of the more subtle and powerful arguments against the Dollhouse's claim to be able to create real emotions.
* ReplacementGoldfish: Played with in "Instincts" (2x02) when Echo finds a photograph of her "husband" with his ''actual'' (dead) wife, whose memories she has apparently been implanted with (seeing a honeymoon picture, she remarks that that was where ''they'' went on their honeymoon.)
* RescueRomance: This seems to be Ballard's overriding goal in regards to Echo, trumping even his desire to expose the Dollhouse. [[spoiler:He doesn't get the girl.]] To an extent, Boyd seems to be doing this with Saunders as of season two.
* TheReveal:
** [[spoiler:Lubov]] is an active.
** As is [[spoiler:Mellie.]]
** [[spoiler:Alan Tudyk]] is Alpha.
** [[spoiler:Claire is revealed to be Whiskey by Dominic!Victor in "Briar Rose" (1x11). In "Omega" (1x12), she checked Topher's computers and learned that it's true.]]
** As is [[spoiler:Senator Perrin. (Kind of.)]]
** [[spoiler: [=DeWitt=] ]] was [[spoiler: in cahoots with Echo all along.]]
** Then [[spoiler:Claire has been made a sleeper doll -- and blows Bennett's brains out before Topher's eyes.]]
** And let's not forget [[spoiler:Boyd is the head of Rossum]]
* ReverseFunnyAneurysm: In-universe example: Dominic's infuriated reaction at Victor pulling rank on him because Topher programmed him as an agent working ''for the NSA'' suddenly becomes a lot funnier a few episodes later.
* RevivalLoophole: Apparently this is the only way to escape from the Attic.
* RevolversAreJustBetter: It's never brought up in the dialogue, but Boyd, one of the Dollhouse's resident badasses, seems to be a believer in this.
* {{Room 101}}: The Attic. We don't even find out what ''happens'' there until "A Spy in the House of Love" (1x09). [[spoiler:It isn't pretty.]]
* RoomFullOfCrazy:
%%** Ballard's apartment.
** [[spoiler:"Belonging" (2x04) reveals that Echo has been scribbling simple phrases concerning events in previous episodes on the inside of her sleeping pod, such as "Victor loves Sierra", "Sierra loves Victor", "Dominic was bad", "I love my baby", "I was trained to kill", etc.]]
** [[spoiler:Topher's redecorating of the pod room, shown in Epitaph 1 and 2]]
* RuleOfCool: in "A Spy in the House of Love" (1x09) [[strike:when D'Anna is boxed]] there's all these flashing lights and electric-spark noises. Why? Well, because...
* SanityHasAdvantages: [[spoiler:Omega!Echo is able to beat up and escape from Alpha initially because he never considered that she might not be as crazy as he is.]]
* SarcasticConfession: In "Omega" (1x12) Ballard explains to the FBI that he's found the Dollhouse, and they're standing right on top of it. Naturally, they walk away. It may also be an invoked case of CassandraTruth.
* SassyBlackWoman: Kilo, a thin Asian Active, is imprinted with one of these in "Meet Jane Doe" (2x07). Kilo's "ghetto accent" is likely a callback to actress (and Dollhouse writer, and Joss Whedon's sister-in-law) Maurissa Tancharoen's nearly forgotten past as a Motown recording artist with the early-1990s girl band [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH05eas7NHw Pretty in Pink]], which had three black members out of five - plus Tancharoen and one white member. By Tancharoen's own account, she [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9J3G94Ym84 had some interesting identity issues]] in those days, so her character's ghetto-girl accent seems to be a bit of self-deprecating humor.
* ScienceIsBad: Ballard sure seems to think so. And science (or "tech") led to the WorldHalfEmpty of "Epitaph One" (1x13) and "Epitaph Two: Return" (2x13).
* ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney: Seems to be most of the reason why Rossum is able to keep the house hush hush. If there are 20 houses, each with 20 actives, and each active participates in 200 engagements a year, and each engagement has an average price tag of $1 million, then gross revenue is ''$80 billion'' per year. Assuming 10% of costs go towards paying actives at the end of their contracts and 30% goes towards house operations, total profit is ''$48 billion''. This leaves actives with $100 million in earnings at the end of their contracts.
* SelfInflictedHell: [[spoiler:People in the Attic are forced to experience their worst nightmares.]]
* SexSells: Echo frequently appears in sexy outfits and situations in the first few scenes of the show. Even though she's often a glorified prostitute and the show tries hard to drive this home, the timing seems like it's also a deliberate attempt to snag viewers. The most obvious offender is "A Spy in the House of Love" (1x09), which features Echo in a dominatrix outfit.
* ShipTease: Many throughout the season, in just about any combination you can conceive of, but rarely the ones you expect. Except for Ballard/Echo, which was strongly hinted from the start. Not that we've actually seen any consummation or anything, but it's so strongly foreshadowed it'll be a shock if it ''doesn't'' happen. Not to mention the fact that Whedon, in pre-release interviews, actually described Ballard as Echo's romantic foil.
* ShirtlessScene:
%%** Ballard
** Victor gets many, ''many'' shirtless moments, including an entire fight scene, in "Stop Loss" (2x09).
* ShootOutTheLock: Boyd employs this tactic.
* ShootTheHostage: In "The Hollow Men"(2x12), when [[spoiler:Ballard]] is being used to shield [[spoiler:Boyd]], [[spoiler:Echo]] shoots [[spoiler: him]] in the leg.
* ShootTheShaggyDog: Many of the happier or heartwarming scenes in the initial episodes seem kind of pointless when you realize [[spoiler:that most of the people involved are probably dead after civilization is destroyed]].
* ShouldHaveThoughtOfThatBeforeX: In episode "Omega":
-->'''Caroline''': Hey! That *is* my brain! I want my brain back! I want back in my brain!
-->'''Alpha''': You should have thought of that before you vacated the premises.
* ShoutOut:
** Basically, everything Topher Brink says that isn't TechnoBabble has good chances of being a pop culture reference.
** In "Haunted" (1x10), Topher is shown wearing a [[Film/TheEmpireStrikesBack Boba Fett]] hoodie.
** "Ghost" (1x01) features an explicit reference to Edward James Olmos, who plays Commander Adama on the 2000s-era ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'' reboot series. It's worth noting that ''Dollhouse's'' own Paul Ballard is played by the same actor as Helo, a character from that series.
** In "Briar Rose" (1x11), Topher uses the word "frak" as another Galactica ShoutOut.
** In "Meet Jane Doe" (2x07), he says that Bennett "went all Cylon on me".
** And there's also this line in "The Attic" (2x10):
-->'''Clyde''': This is the shape of things to come.
** In "Ghost" (1x01), Topher says of Echo after the wipe, "The new moon's made her virgin again", which is a reference to the Creator/TennesseeWilliams play ''Camino Real''.
** "The Hollow Men" is almost certainly a reference to the T. S. Eliot poem by the same name. ''This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.''
** Adelle [=DeWitt=], resident [[TheStoic stoic]] and [[TheChessmaster chessmaster]] is possibly a shout out to ''Film/AllAboutEve'' and the character Addison [=DeWitt=].
** Adelle's comment about pain revealing true character in "Stop-Loss" is a shout out to Niska, the torture happy baddy from ''{{Series/Firefly}}''
** The "Rossum Corporation" is a literary shoutout to Karel Capek's play ''RUR: Rossum's Universal Robots.'' Capek popularized the word "robot." [[spoiler: Clyde 5.0 hangs a lampshade on it in "Getting Closer."]]
** From that same episode, the recurring 'carrots' gag, referencing Disney's ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'' movie.
** "Omega" (1x12)
-->'''Topher''': Yes, we take their [[Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer souls]], and then we put them in our [[Series/{{Angel}} glass jars]] with our [[Series/{{Firefly}} fireflies!]]
-->'''Alpha''': Oh, gods!
** Ballard's "I surely do" line in "Man on the Street" might be a reference to Mal from {{Series/Firefly}}. It's certainly said with the exact same inflection. Or to Riley's defiant line to Angel in [[Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer Buffy]] before they fought.
** Season 2 features Echo warning that the Dollhouse faces [[Series/DoctorWho "The Oncoming Storm".]]
** Also, we have a genius scientist [[spoiler:with a dead arm, who happens to be a bit psychotic, as well]].
** The character name Bennett Halverson is quite likely a reference to ''The Manchurian Candidate'' (Frank Sinatra's character Bennett Marco), since plot elements of Halverson's two main episodes ("The Public Eye" and "The Left Hand") allude to plot elements in that film.
** The title of episode 7, "Meet Jane Doe", is a reference to the somewhat obscure Frank Capra film ''Meet John Doe''.
*** Unless there's Word Of God on this, it's far, ''far'' more likely that it's a reference to the not-at-all-obscure term "Jane Doe" used to refer to a fictitious or anonymous woman in legal proceedings.
** Topher in "Meet Jane Doe":
--> '''Topher''': Are you out of your [[strike:[[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries Vulcan]]]] British mind?
** More Star Trek:
--> '''Topher''': How did you know it was called a disruptor?
--> '''Bennett''': What else would you call it?
** [=DeWitt=] in "Stop Loss" (2x09):
--> '''[=DeWitt=]''': They say (the Attic is) [[Film/AClockworkOrange whatever hell you imagine.]]
** Upon the conclusion of his contract, former Actives are set up with temporary lodging in a suite at the [[Series/{{Angel}} Hyperion Hotel]].
** In one of her first appearances in The Public Eye, [[Creator/SummerGlau Bennett Halverson]] notes something about a doll's [[Series/{{Firefly}} amygdala]].
** Caroline (in flashback), in "Getting Closer" (2x11) referring to Summer Glau's character:
-->'''Caroline''': [[Series/{{Firefly}} Bet she could kill me with her brain.]]
** Also in "Getting Closer", at one point Bennett asks Topher if he routed through an [[http://www.io9.com IO-9]] to remotely control the imprint chair. Word Of God [[http://twitter.com/Annaleen/status/7617466701 confirms]] that it was a ShoutOut to the sci-fi review site.
** When [[spoiler:Boyd]] is gushing about how proud of his "family" he is, Topher is compared to the Tin Man for discovering his dormant morality and Adelle to the Cowardly Lion for mustering up the courage to [[spoiler:take back her house and defy Rossum]]. [[StealthPun Which makes Echo]], who assembled her very own composite brain, the Scarecrow.
** In "Stage Fright" (1x03), the deranged fan uses the same method to smuggle his rifle past security as the assassin did in ''Literature/TheDayOfTheJackal''.
** Ep 5 season 1, "true believer". How could the term "faith" not show up when addressing Echo`s imprint?
--> Ester, Where is your [[Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer faith?]]
** In a deleted scene during mid-late season 2, Topher is testing a goggles-and-gloves set to manually work his screens, and in the middle of it he tears off the headset and says [[GogglesDoNothing "The goggles do nothing."]]
** Stage Fright shouts out to Music/BritneySpears, basically, her entire life, singing for the (Mickey) Mouse, having a ''Show your junk'' breakdown, and ContractualPurity via MadonnaWhoreComplex , being sweet and down to earth but having street cred, and even, to a degree, the feel trapped/seek for freedom issue pop stars like her have had, the pop star herself is a mesh of Britney, dance moves/outfits, and another generic pop star, and Beyonce.
%%* ShowerOfAngst: Ballard in "Haunted." Also Adelle in "Stop-Loss".
%%* ShowerScene: Lots! And coed to boot! Even Adelle gets one.
* ShowingOffTheNewBody: Non-villainous example when Margaret is first uploaded into Echo's body.
--->'''Margaret-in-Echo''': ''(almost feeling herself up)'' Nice work, Addie! I'm pointing to the sky!
---> ''(she and Adelle both giggle)''
* ShutUpHannibal: [[spoiler:Boyd gloating that Echo ''can't'' try to shoot him while he has Ballard hostage is interrupted by Echo shooting Ballard in the leg, causing Boyd to drop him.]]
* SignificantAnagram: In "A Love Supreme" (2x08), a client named Mr. E. Hap Lasher retains Echo for an engagement. After the alleged client is found brutally murdered, Adelle deduces that E. Hap Lasher spells out [[spoiler: Alpha's here]], which is significant in that [[spoiler:he's hiding in her bathroom at the time]].
* SimultaneousArcs: In "A Spy in the House of Love" (1x09), the plot is shown from the perspective of November, Sierra, Echo, and Victor.
* SingleTargetSexuality: Victor and Sierra are attracted to each other no matter what, even when they are programmed to love other people, much to the dismay of [[spoiler: Adelle]] when she tries to sleep with Victor one last time.
%%* SissyVillain: Terry Karens.
* SkipTheAnesthetic: Adelle [=DeWitt=] at the end of "A Spy in the House of Love" when she's getting a gunshot wound stitched up by Dr Saunders. It's implied [[spoiler:she's punishing herself for trusting Laurence Dominic, who turned out to be an NSA mole]].
* SkunkStripe: Echo has a compact one in the [[spoiler:apocalyptic future of 2020]]. Supposedly this is a gray streak caused by all the hardships she's gone through.
* SlutShaming:
** Miss Lonelyheart gets the double whammy of being an old woman, she's absolutely not allowed to have sexual desires.
** One presumes that, in addition to the roses, she's being paid very well for letting that nice young man borrow her car.
* SmartPeoplePlayChess: Topher has a chessboard set up in his office. It's the wrong way round, though.
* SomethingElseAlsoRises: Victor has a [[UnusualEuphemism man-reaction]] to Sierra's presence in the co-ed shower, to the alarm of Topher as the mind-wipe should make that impossible.
* SoBeautifulItsACurse: Sierra is a rare sympathetic example. She is drop-dead gorgeous; however, this makes her a target to all sorts of unsavory people, like [[spoiler:her handler and ex-boyfriend.]] See the entry for [[spoiler:RapeAsDrama.]]
* SomeoneHasToDie: The [[spoiler:remote-personality-restoring bomb that has to be manually activated]] in "Epitaph Two: Return" (2x13).
* {{Southies}}: Echo's imprinted personality in "Stage Fright" (1x03), Jordan, claims to be a Southie. Eliza Dushku is actually from a more fashionable part of Boston.
* SpaceDoesNotWorkThatWay: [[ConversationalTroping Discussed]] by Topher and his birthday-friend imprint on Sierra, playing a game listing weak sci-fi science such as "fiery, noisy ExplosionsInSpace".
-->'''Sierra''': Oh, but there's so much more. Light-speed travel, space storms, and sexy, sexy aliens...?
-->'''Topher''': Ah-ah, I said "classic sci-fi errors"; now you're just attacking good storytelling.
* SpannerInTheWorks: Topher becomes this in "The Hollow Men". He's generally a cowardly, hysterical figure who lapses into {{Heroic BSOD}} when he's forced to confront the consequences of his actions... but a security precaution he takes before the start of this episode saves the day in a way the Big Bad couldn't possibly have predicted. (Too bad he mentions it to the wrong person.)
* SpiritualSuccessor: Could pretty easily be seen as a western take on Franchise/GhostInTheShell. If Whedon didn't at least know about GITS beforehand, then it's a massive coincidence.
* StarCrossedLovers: Paul and [[spoiler:Mellie/November. And the "The Hollow Men" (2x12) put a capper on the heartbreak after Mellie struggled to fight off the "three flowers in a vase" phrase that would have caused her to kill Paul; unable to cope with being a doll, she shot herself.]]
* StepfordSmiler: [[spoiler:Madeline]], both when Adelle was talking to [[spoiler:her]], and especially when Ballard was talking to [[spoiler:her about her dead child with a curious lack of affect]].
* AStormIsComing: Echo in "Belonging": "Something bad is coming. Like a storm. And I want everyone to survive it." At episode's end, she gets a note from Boyd with an all-access key card attached, which repeats the storm metaphor.
* {{Stripperiffic}}: Any subtlety that might have existed in this show's {{Fanservice}} was thrown out at the start of "A Spy in the House of Love" (1x09), when Echo is imprinted as a dominatrix. It might be quicker to list everyone who '''didn't''' show skin in that episode.
* StuffedIntoTheFridge:
** '''Defied'''. [[spoiler:Mellie, being attacked by Sierra's rapist ex-handler, decides that dying is for minor characters and instead kicks ass. Or, as the case may be, kicks cervical vertebrae. This was largely the effect of creepy flowers in a mysterious vase ("vah-ze"), but that's entirely secondary. ]]
** Played with in the first episode, too. The kid is hidden in a turned over, roped-up fridge. [[spoiler: And alive and fine!]]
** Played straight, however, with [[spoiler:November and Bennett]] toward the end of Season Two.
* SuicideByCop: [[spoiler:Rayna in "Stage Fright" (1x03) was trying a variant of this.]]
* SurpriseIncest: Margaret-in-Echo gets chatted up by her son, who has no idea who she is.
* TakeThat:
** Apparently the Jonas Brothers are ''very'' popular clients in the Dollhouse. Sly commentary on their love lives, perhaps?
** In "Instinct" (2x02), Topher gets a good zinger in:
---> '''Topher''': The human brain is like Van Halen. If you take one piece out and keep replacing it, it just degenerates.
** In "A Love Supreme" (2x08), after [[spoiler:Echo switches to one of her previous imprints without assistance from Topher or his machines]]:
---> '''Topher''': I am obsolete. This must be what old people feel like. And Blockbuster.
** In "The Attic", someone asks about what year it is.
---> '''Echo''': 2010, I think. [[BreakingTheFourthWall I don't know how long we've been off the air.]]
** [[spoiler:Adelle, after Caroline's capture at the Rossum laboratory in Tucson ("Getting Closer" (2x11):]]
---> [[spoiler:'''Adelle''': You made me come to Arizona. I ''loathe'' Arizona.]]
* TalkativeLoon:
** During "Ghost" (1x01), Echo lapses into what sounds a lot like [[{{Series/Firefly}} River-speak]]. [[WordofGod From Joss' mouth]] during the commentary of "Ghost" (1x01) "Fuel the [[{{Series/Firefly}} River]]" Moment.
** In "Epitaph One" [[spoiler:Topher]] becomes one.
* TalkingToThemself: [[spoiler:Alpha.]] In a hilarious take on the idea, [[spoiler:Topher and Victor imprinted with Topher's brain have several phone conversations in "The Left Hand". They get along perfectly until they're in the same room as each other, then Topher's all too happy to get "Topher" out of his hair.]]
* TapOnTheHead: This is how Topher incapacitates Bennet when [[spoiler:she tries to kill Echo/Caroline]]. Amusingly, he does it in a way that would actually break her jaw rather than render her unconscious.
* TheTeaser: They were especially long in Season One, when a Fox programming stunt allowed episodes to be up to 50 minutes instead of 44.
* ThatMakesMeFeelAngry: The actives have a habit of stating their emotions like this when they are in their wiped state.
* ThatManIsDead: [[spoiler:Victor/Anthony]] in "Stop Loss" (2x09): "[[spoiler:Anthony]] is gone."
* ThemeNaming: The Actives' "names" (Echo, Sierra, Whiskey, etc.) all come from the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO_phonetic_alphabet radio alphabet military alphabet]].
** Other Dollhouses also seem to use different theme naming; the DC branch uses Greek deities, for example. [[spoiler:Do note that "Echo" works in both themes.]]
* ThinkUnsexyThoughts: In ''Needs'', when Victor (no longer in his blank Doll state) has to use the co-ed showers so as not to attract suspicion, he starts listing the lineup for the Mets while trying not to look at the female Dolls, especially Sierra.
* ThirteenIsUnlucky: The show originally premiered on Friday 13th February 2009.
* ThreeAmigos: Victor, Sierra, and Echo have always been the primary focus of the show. Depending on how you count the number of personalities in Echo's head, this may tally up to something more on the order of forty-three amigos.
* TimeSkip: Played with in the FlashForward episode "Epitaph One" (1x13), but played dead straight in "Meet Jane Doe" (2x07).
** And again at the end of "The Hollow Men" (2x12) [[spoiler:ten years later to Epitaph One]]
* TomatoInTheMirror:
%%** [[spoiler:Dr. Saunders and Senator Perrin]]
** Downplayed on one occasion when Echo - whose imprint at the time was intentionally designed to be aware of the Dollhouse and what it did - was actually told she was a Doll. She wasn't supposed to know that part, but because of the advanced deductive reasoning skills she was imprinted with, she conceded it made sense and probably would have eventually put it together on her own.
** PlayedForLaughs when an implanted Sierra tells Ivy to her bemusement, "I'm not comfortable with, uh, orientals."
* TooDumbToLive: Echo [[spoiler:Or more accurately Caroline without her memories. "Let's all act emotionless and content so they don't find u- OH GOD YOUR FACE!"]]
%%* TookALevelInBadass: [[spoiler:Dominic]] in "The Attic" (2x10).
* TooMuchInformation:
** Did we ''really'' need to hear about how [[spoiler:Nolan's]] rigor mortis [[{{Squick}} is like Viagra for him?]]
*** [[CompletelyMissingThePoint Well]]...yeah.
** A less ghoulish version is seen in "Haunted" when Nicholas Bashford discovers his deceased mother Margaret (uploaded into Echo) and reveals that he, like she, is a Dollhouse customer (the mother in Los Angeles, the son in New York). "Nicholas!" "What? So are you! We're all adults here."
%%* TortureTechnician: Bennett. Dear God, Bennett.
%%* TrashTheSet: What happened to [[spoiler: Adelle's office]] in "Epitaph One."
* TrickedIntoEscaping: A variation is pulled on Echo and the other major Actives in "Needs." Unlike most incarnations of this trope, it is at least partly for their benefit; the Actives are imprinted with [[spoiler:amnesiac versions of their original personalities]] in a sort of wish fulfillment exercise, allowing them to gain some measure of closure for [[spoiler:issues which led to their entering the Dollhouse to begin with]]. Of course, the Dollhouse also expects to benefit by letting some of the more... free thinking Actives "get it out of their systems."
* TriggerPhrase: Activates: [[spoiler:"There are three flowers in a vase. The third flower is green."]] Deactivates: [[spoiler:"There are three flowers in a vase. The third flower is yellow." In "The Hollow Men," the attempted reuse of the trigger on Mellie -- though she fights it off and spares Paul - causes her to break, and she kills herself before Paul's eyes.]]
* TrueCompanions: [[spoiler:Turns out the reason the BigBad was keeping the heroes alive wasn't because he needed them for his evil plan (though that was part of it), but rather because "you're my family. I love you guys."]] The heroes are ''not'' touched. [[spoiler:Except for Paul. There's always one relative you can live without.]]
* TruthInTelevision: The dolls' predicament of having their memories and personalities wiped mirrors the very real phenomenon of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociative_disorder dissociative disorders]], [[spoiler: Alpha and Echo's later condition of having and conversing with several imprints inside their own heads]] even more so. Tropers should note also that there is a great deal of debate about whether this disorder even exists, at least in the forms that TV (especially the SoapOperaDisease) and film generally portray it; and in the past it was vastly overdiagnosed and overpublicized.
%%* TurnedAgainstTheirMasters: Alpha.
* TwinThreesomeFantasy: In "Stage Fright" (1x03), [=DeWitt=] mentions freeing up the unseen "twins" for Biz Zarella to "unwind" with. Draw your own conclusions.
%%* TwoScenesOneDialogue: "A Spy In A House of Love" (1x09), "Belle Chose" (2x03).
%%* TyrantTakesTheHelm: Harding's rule in the episode "Meet Jane Doe" (2x07).

[[folder:Tropes U-Z]]
* {{Ubermensch}}: Alpha refers to himself [[spoiler:and Echo after he forces her to have a composite event]] as this. Heavily mocked via LampshadeHanging by [[spoiler:Echo post-"Omega"]]: "Right. [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything New, superior people.]] [[ThoseWackyNazis With a little German thrown in.]] WhatCouldPossiblyGoWrong?"
* UndercoverWhenAlone: TheReveal that [[spoiler: Boyd was the head of the Rossum Corporation]] creates several examples of this. In an interesting variation, one example had him stay in character for a Doll in a Flash Forward... whose mind he would soon wipe anyway. This is an example of the writers not having decided that he was The Mole yet, which led to internal inconsistencies with the flash forwards.
* {{Understatement}}: Adelle's reaction to [[spoiler:Topher's realization that Rossum is trying to build a remote imprint device that will basically lead to "Epitaph One"]] is "That's unnerving."
%%* TheUnfettered: Alpha.
* UnreliableNarrator: In "Getting Closer" (2x11), we discover that the memory of Caroline that Bennett showed to Echo in "The Left Hand" (2x06) took significant latitude in its interpretation: [[spoiler:Caroline did, indeed, say, "Sorry, sister, if I stay we both get nabbed." However, she followed it up with, "This way, it'll only be me."]]
* UnusualEuphemism: "Man-reaction." Even more so once we recall that Topher actually studied in the medical school.
* UnwittingPawn: [[spoiler:In "Briar Rose" (1x11), Paul does a beautiful job of distracting all the Dollhouse employees from Alpha for long enough for him to imprint Echo and escape. And now this applies to everyone except for Boyd, it seems, who was the mastermind behind everything.]]
* VictoriasSecretCompartment: "Taffy" keeps a bottle of resin in her bra.
* VillainHasAPoint: [[spoiler: His]] own role in developing the mind-controlling technology notwithstanding, [[spoiler: Boyd Langton]] was actually absolutely correct in predicting that once the technology is developed, it '''will''' spread and '''will''' be abused (regardless of the original intentions of the people involved), as shown in two Epitaphs. In fact, even [[spoiler: Topher's HeroicSacrifice]] doesn't at all guarantee that there won't be any more attempts to restore the technology.
* VillainousCrush: Alpha seems to be channeling [[Series/BattlestarGalactica2003 Leoben Conoy]], at times.
* VoicesAreMental: Topher retains his own voice when imprinted into Victor, as does [[spoiler:Ballard when downloaded into Alpha]].
** With the case of Topher, that was just Enver Gjokaj being an awesome actor and managing to imitate Topher's voice to that degree. He's ''that'' good.
** [[spoiler: And Ballard's voice from Alpha was probably just Echo's perception of it.]]
* WaifFu: Echo and Sierra, as well as [[spoiler: Whiskey/Clyde 2.0 after absorbing fighting-skill imprints and getting into a vicious brawl with Echo in "The Hollow Men."]]
%%* WaistcoatOfStyle: Alpha in the second season.
* WhamEpisode:
** "Man On The Street" (1x06)
*** Significant in that this was the first episode not to be subject to ExecutiveMeddling which had pushed for the show to be episodic rather than serial. Unfortunately, [[YouAreTooLate the damage had been done]].
** "Briar Rose" (1x11)
** "Epitaph One" (1x13)
** "The Public Eye" and "The Left Hand" (2x05 and 2x06) function as a two-part WhamEpisode.
** "A Love Supreme" (2x08)
** "The Attic" (2x10)
** "Getting Closer" (2x11), more than any other episode in the series. '''Seriously'''.
%%* WhamLine: "[[WhyDidntIThinkOfThat Why didn't]] ''[[WhyDidntIThinkOfThat I]]'' [[WhyDidntIThinkOfThat think of that?]] [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone ...Did I think of that?"]]
* WhamShot: AlanTudyk's light-hearted stoner suddenly and wordlessly [[spoiler: carving up someone's face in Alpha's signature style]].
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Chronologically, the last time we saw Dominic was [[spoiler:in Adelle's office in ''Epitaph One''--he's never mentioned again.]]
** We never do find out what became of [[spoiler:Clyde Randolph 2.0, or Ivy, or learn the exact story of Alpha turning good]]. The early cancellation made some WhatHappenedToTheMouse inevitable, but the fact that there was advance warning means there's a lot less than there could have been.
** [[spoiler:Ivy shows up at the end of the Dollhouse: Epitaphs bonus comic but is not explained further (yet).]] A continuation comic has been announced so it will probably fill in those details.
* WhatTheHellHero:
** [[spoiler:Alpha gives a WhatTheHellHero speech to Caroline!Wendy about abandoning her body to the Dollhouse in Omega]] Reprised in the same episode [[spoiler:by Omega!Echo to Caroline!Wendy]].
** When Echo [[spoiler:turns a newly wiped Boyd. A person who is literally at their most innocent. Into an unknowing Suicide Bomber. Thumbs up hero.]] Worse part it didn't even change a thing.
** Bennett calls Caroline out for leaving her behind during the raid on Rossum, resulting in Bennett's arm being paralyzed. Caroline had Bennett's best interests in mind and [[spoiler:Bennett was a Rossum employee, so by leaving her there, she would be found and given medical treatment, and viewed as a victim rather than as a co-conspirator and a traitor.]]
** Ballard using Echo to take out criminals he couldn't catch when he was with the FBI. He comes to regret doing that after Echo barely survived the mission.
* WhipItGood: Echo as a dominatrix at the start of "A Spy in the House of Love" (1x09). She uses it on Victor's handler just for the hell of it.
%%* WhodunnitToMe: The plot of "Haunted" (1x10).
* WigDressAccent: To infiltrate an NSA facility in "A Spy in the House of Love" (1x09), Sierra disguises herself very stylishly as a woman who works there. This verges on a PaperThinDisguise however, because despite duplicating her hair-style, clothes etc. Sierra ''really'' doesn't look much like her victim at all. When she passes an ID check against a photo of the real NSA staffer, the audience seems to be asked to maintain WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief on the dubious idea that enough people there are sufficiently unobservant for an "[[UnfortunateImplications all 'Asians' look alike]]" ploy to work.
** [[spoiler:Since Sierra was sent in by Dominic (the real mole) specifically to retrieve a fake file that implicates someone else, her disguise didn't really have to fool anyone as it's stated later in the episode that the people at the NSA were expecting her and knew exactly what was going on the whole time.]]
%%* WomanInWhite: [[spoiler:Whiskey, "Epitaph One" (1x13).]]
* WorldHalfEmpty: The nightmare future scenario of "Epitaph One" (1x13) and "Epitaph Two: Return" (2x13), set ten years into the future, which showcases what happens when use of the Dollhouse tech [[GoneHorriblyWrong goes horribly wrong]].
* TheWorldIsNotReady: The justification for keeping the Dollhouse technology secret. In "Epitaph One:" [[spoiler:Played straight: The world really ' wasn't'' ready.]]
* WouldntHitAGirl: In "The Hollow Men" (2x12), [[spoiler:Clyde Randolph (in Whiskey's body) to Echo: "Y'know, this is the first time I can hit a girl without feeling bad about it."]]
* XanatosSpeedChess: In "The Hollow Men" (2x12), you can see [[spoiler:Boyd desperately trying to keep his plan intact as it starts to fall apart. He comes very close, his only miscalculation is that he believes Echo will be unable to fight him. And he almost survives that, too, except he's distracted enough for Topher [[HoistByHisOwnPetard to get in a shot with the mind-wipe gun]].]]
* {{Yandere}}:
%%** Alpha.
** [[StalkerWithACrush Nolan]], who [[spoiler:tried to come on to Priya the old-fashioned sleazy way, and when that failed, drugged her up, threw her in the mental hospital he ran as a schizo, and then called in the Dollhouse to "help" her. After she'd been wiped into becoming Sierra, he started renting her out on a regular basis. He's dead now, though, down to the point of being cut up into pieces and dissolved in acid.]]
* YouCantFightFate: The events of ''Epitaph One'' are ''not'' prevented, despite the best efforts of the protagonists in season two.
* YoureInsane: Said by Echo in "Echoes" (1x07). And echoed by [[spoiler:Adelle in "The Hollow Men" (2x12) when Boyd lays out his plan to save the favored few from having their minds wiped in the hell-on-Earth to come, saying they must choose to be the destroyed or the destroyers. Adelle's retort: "You are ''spectacularly'' insane."]]
* YourMindMakesItReal: Dying in the Attic dreamscape means dying for real. [[spoiler:Sorta. The perpetual terror-induced adrenaline spikes eventually take their toll on the body, but until then the system can do with you as it wishes. However, if someone deliberately sets out to kill you, then you die right then. Also you can choose to die.]]
* ZettaiRyouiki:
** When Echo goes undercover as a hooker as part of her "Taffy" persona in "Gray Hour" (1x04), she has thigh-high leather boots, with a leather skirt. Once the disguise is no longer needed, she changes into something more sensible (and better suited for robbery), but still keeps the high-heeled boots.
** Used again as "Alice" in "Echoes" (1x07). Who says this trope gets neglected by the Western world?
** The opener of "A Spy in the House of Love" (1x09) makes [[RuleOfThree three]] for Echo. Later in the episode, Ivy gets a lower-grade Zettai Ryouiki.
** A fourth instance slightly low on the leg occurs in "Belle Chose" (2x03).
** Caroline and Ivy both get a C-grade in "Getting Closer" (2x11), but neither matters because Bennett one-upped them at the start of the episode.
** Mellie in "The Hollow Men," but only a D.
* ZombieApocalypse: While not a literal example, the post-apocalyptic scenario depicted in the Epitaph episodes invokes tropes commonly associated with this: [[spoiler:you have people who have lost their minds and identities running around and attacking everything on sight, with a handful of unaffected individuals trying to survive in the violent new world order and find a cure, etc.]]
** Don't forget that the [[spoiler:ones attacking everything on sight are also eating dead people, including each other after they've been killed.]]