[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/slings_and_arrows_1836.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Please shut up, SpiritAdvisor.]]
-> "''[[RefusalOfTheCall I am not]]'' ''[[SpiritAdvisor collaborating with the spirit world]]'' ''[[TemptingFate on a production of]]'' {{Theatre/Macbeth}}."
-->-- '''Geoffrey Tenant''', to his deceased mentor[[note]]shortly before they begin collaborating[[/note]].

''Slings and Arrows'' is a Canadian dark comedy about the New Burbage Festival, a thinly-veiled FictionalCounterpart of the Stratford Festival of Canada. It focuses on Geoffrey Tennant's return to the festival as artistic director upon the death of his estranged mentor, Oliver Welles (who immediately returns as a ghost visible only to Geoffrey). Each season is a StoryArc, focusing on Geoffrey's production of a great [[Creator/WilliamShakespeare Shakespearean]] tragedy: the first season does ''{{Hamlet}}'', the second ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'' with a subplot about ''RomeoAndJuliet'', and the third ''Theatre/KingLear''.

'''Characters''':
* '''Geoffrey Tennant''', the artistic director of the festival and archetypical BunnyEarsLawyer. Played by Paul Gross, of ''Series/DueSouth'' fame.
* '''Ellen Fanshaw''', the aging leading woman and Geoffrey's on-again-off-again love interest. If you take a shot every time she insincerely says "sorry," you'll be dead before the end of the episode. Played by Martha Burns.
* '''Richard Smith-Jones''', executive (business) director who nurtures a secret love of musicals. Played by ''TheKidsInTheHall'''s Mark [=McKinney=].
* '''Oliver Welles''', ghost, SpiritAdvisor, and {{Foil}} to Geoffrey. Played by Steven Ouimette.
* '''Anna Conroy''', [[strike:secretary]] associate administrative director and frequent doormat. Played by Susan Coyne.
* '''Darren Nichols''', temperamental director and stereotypical [[PostModernism postmodernist]]. Played by Don [=McKellar=].
* '''Maria''', a typical stage manager. She doesn't like actors. Especially Ellen. Played by Catherine Fitch.

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!!This show provides examples of:

* AffablyEvil: Sanjay isn't evil, per se, but he is a con man, and incredibly charming.
* AmbiguouslyGay: Darren Nichols is as camp as camp can be, but his sexuality just never comes up. Notable in that it's not played for laughs beyond his character being generally ridiculous, and there's no speculation as to which way he swings by any of the other characters.
* ArbitrarySkepticism: Geoffrey vehemently denies the ''Macbeth'' [[TheScottishTrope curse]] while talking to a ghost.
* AsYouKnow: Geoffrey is rather fond of this, often unnecessarily explaining plot details of the plays to the actors. This is [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] at one point by Ellen, who snaps that she ''knows'' the play, thank you very much.
* BadBadActing: [[AvertedTrope Averted]]: All acting of bad acting contained within the show resembles genuine wince-worthy bad acting. Especially Claire's. That is some very good bad acting.
* BathroomStallOfOverheardInsults: Oliver finds himself in one of these in the pilot.
* BelievingTheirOwnLies: Richard is swayed very easily.
* BetaCouple: One per season.
* BilingualBonus: In Season 3, Nahum acts as translator when Anna needs to speak with the Bolivians, but he doesn't always translate faithfully.
* BiTheWay: [[spoiler: Oliver; while openly gay, has sex with Ellen.]]
** After cavorting with the musical theater company in Season 3, Richard wakes up next to one of the actresses... and the male writer.
* BitterSweetEnding: In the Season 3 finale, [[spoiler:Charles finally gets to be a stellar King Lear, Sophie and Paul get together, and Geoffrey and Ellen get married, but Charles dies, Geoffrey resigns from the festival, Richard relapses into a soulless corporate executive, Darren gets appointed artistic director, Anna is fired, and Geoffrey tells Oliver he loves him only after Oliver has disappeared for good]]. It ''redefines'' this trope.
* BookEnds: The first season gradually reveals the events that led Geoffrey to a nervous breakdown onstage 7 years earlier, ending his acting career. In the final episode of the series, [[spoiler:circumstances force him to take part in the rump production of King Lear. Oliver coaches him through his initial floundering and he is able to play his part]].
* BrickJoke: In Season 1, [[spoiler: Oliver's skull. It's a topic in episode 2 and the beginning of episode 3, and then is forgotten by viewers and by Geoffrey himself until Oliver reminds him at the last possible moment on opening night.]]
* BritishBrevity: Actually ''Canadian Conciseness'', but the effect is the same: Each season is only 6 episodes long.
* UsefulNotes/BritishEnglish: Frank and Cyril. "Fancy a pint, duckie?" (Remember that besides being ThoseTwoGuys, they have [[EarWorm the opening]] to themselves.)
* BroomstickQuarterstaff: When he overhears Geoffrey yelling in the supply closet at odd hours, Nahum runs in brandishing a mop with a war cry.
* BunnyEarsLawyer:
** Geoffrey.
** The advertising firm Froghammer appears to be this way, using nigh-incomprehensible postmodern tactics to build up interest in the festival. It's later subverted when [[spoiler:it's revealed that they were scam artists from the beginning, but [[DoubleSubversion luckily their phoney tactics actually]] ''[[DoubleSubversion work]]''.]]
* BuryMeNotOnTheLonePrairie: Oliver wanted his skull to be used for productions of ''{{Hamlet}}.'' Almost no one wanted to fulfill that request for some reason.
* ButNowIMustGo: Oliver in the final episode.
* ButtMonkey:
** Jerry, the understudy. Though he gets a CrowningMomentOfAwesome / CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming in the second to last episode of Season 2, where he gives a kick-ass performance as Theatre/{{Macbeth}}.
** Richard is used by everybody and is barely effectual at best.
* CampGay:
** Patrick, especially around his male friends, to the point where Geoffrey is rather bewildered when he notices the [[UnresolvedSexualTension UST]] with Sarah.
** Oliver.
* CallBack: In the final episode, [[spoiler: Ellen tells Geoffrey her answer is yes. He seems to have no idea what she's talking about, but presumably she is replying to his marriage proposal from 10 years earlier, which we saw in Oliver's flashback in the very first episode.]]
* CatchPhrase: Changing every season.
* ChessMotifs: Darren Nichols' [[InvokedTrope invokes]] this in his production of ''Romeo and Juliet''.
* CentralTheme: Each season has a theme that relates the backstage plot to the Shakespeare play being performed.
** Season 1: ''{{Hamlet}}'' - madness, betrayal.
** Season 2: ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'' - power, ambition.
** Season 3: ''Theatre/KingLear'' - rivalry, [[spoiler:death]].
* ComedicSociopathy
* CorruptCorporateExecutive
** Richard is not so much corrupt as commodity-minded rather than art-minded, but that kinda comes with the territory. First, he rises above this corruption, only to eventually fall from grace into a deeper level of corruption.
** Even more so, Holly Day.
* ClassicallyTrainedExtra: Comes up a few times
* CreatorCameo: The show was co-written by Mark [=McKinney=], Susan Coyne and Bob Martin. The first two play regular characters (as Richard and Anna), but Martin also makes a cameo in a first-season episode as a plastics executive who takes a class in Shakespeare.
* DamningWithFaintPraise: Oliver's AMidsummerNightsDream. "The production values are very high." We won't talk about the performances, the direction, or the design...
* DecoyProtagonist: For most of the first episode, it looks like Oliver will be the protagonist of the series... until in the closing minutes of the episode he's run over by a pig truck.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: Ellen's meetings with her tax auditor eventually morph into therapy sessions.
* DiabolusExMachina: Arguably [[spoiler:Richard's descent from flawed-but-essentially-decent-person back into [[CorruptCorporateExecutive soulless corporate executive]] in the final episode]].
* DeadPersonConversation: Geoffrey and Oliver on a regular basis.
** In Season 3, [[spoiler:Charles and Oliver]].
* DoubleEntendre: Most occur in the text (it is Creator/WilliamShakespeare, after all), but the actors are also proficient.
** "He was my Bottom for seven years."
** "I've never played Romeo before."
** "I want a thrust in the Rose."
* DreamSequence
* EnforcedMethodActing: An in-universe example. After rehiring Henry Breedlove for the role of Macbeth, Geoffrey feels the need to use this when Henry defies his direction.
* FaceHeelTurn: [[spoiler:Richard in the last episode]].
* FakeAmerican: All of the American characters are played by Canadians.
* FeudingFamilies: Not literal families, but the classical and musical troupes in Season 3 do not get along, to say the least.
* FirstEpisodeSpoiler: Oliver is very much alive in the first episode, making spoilers tricky to avoid when describing the series.
* FisherKing: [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]], as it appears in Creator/{{Shakespeare}}'s plays.
-->'''Oliver''': "[[{{Theatre/Macbeth}} A king is murdered]], children are slaughtered, horses go mad--that's a sure sign of evil--horses going mad."
* FlashBack
* TheFunInFuneral: The funeral of Oliver Wells is comical, cliche, and ludicrous all at once.
* GilliganCut: "Of course, it all falls apart if one of the actors is no good at pretending."
* GodwinsLaw: A string of angry phone messages for the festival starts with composed complaints and devolves into "Even the ''Nazis''--"
* HeelFaceTurn: [[spoiler:Richard at the end of the first season]].
* HowManyAllOfThem
* HoYay: They are [[AlwaysCamp actors]].[[note]]Note that the portrayal of a theater company the show offers is very much TruthInTelevision, with a wide range of behavior patterns, sexualities (all of which are matter-of-factly accepted InUniverse), and a good sprinkling of overt homoeroticism.[[/note]]
** It is strongly implied that Oliver was in love with Geoffrey.
** Patrick and his friends.
* ISeeThemToo: [[spoiler:Charles]] noticing Oliver in the third season. Notably, this weirds out both Oliver and Geoffrey.
* IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming
* InsistentTerminology: ''Macbeth'' isn't cursed, it's extraordinarily difficult to stage effectively.
** Darren Nichols will not let you forget that he was ''stabbed!''
* IntangibleMan: Oliver starts phasing against his will in the third season.
* IntimidatingRevenueService
* InvisibleToNormals: Only Geoffrey can see Oliver. [[spoiler:(And, briefly, Charles.)]]
* InvokedTrope: If it can be used in theater...
* ItsNotYouItsMe
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Geoffrey is an interesting deconstruction; he ''is'' a jerk, and he ''does'' have a heart of gold, but he isn't a jerk to ''hide'' his heart of gold, he's a jerk because his mental illness, depression and anxiety make it extremely difficult to tolerate other people.
* JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope
* {{Leitmotif}}: Several, particularly ones for Geoffrey's madness/creativity and final performances.
* LiteraryAllusionTitle
* LookingForLoveInAllTheWrongPlaces: Ellen.
* LoveTriangle: Several examples.
* MagicalRealism: Everyone leads perfectly ordinary, realistic lives, but for the fact that Geoffrey [[spoiler:and later Charles]] regularly has conversations with Oliver's ghost. No explanation is given, no mythos is revealed. It just happens.
* MathematiciansAnswer:
-->'''Geoffrey''': Okay look, I'm not saying that evil isn't present in the play. What I'm asking is, are the events of the play driven by evil, '''or''' is it that the characters themselves are just, simply evil from the get-go?
-->'''Oliver''': Yes.
-->'''Geoffrey''': Which!?
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: Quite a bit of the first season revolves around Geoffrey being unsure whether Oliver is really haunting him, or he's having another breakdown.
* MayDecemberRomance: Ellen and Sloan.
* MeaningfulName:
** Charles Kingman as King Lear.
** [[OrsonWelles Oliver Welles]].
* MotorMouth: The original director of Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet appears for less than one minute, which she fills entirely with conversation at an impressive density. Both present [[DeadpanSnarker Deadpan Snarkers]] Geoffrey and Oliver utterly fail to get a word in.
-->'''Geoffrey''': ''(after Naveen falls off the stage)'' She was in a neck brace when they wheeled her away. She was still talking, though.
* MultitaskedConversation: Geoffrey, Oliver, and whoever else is around. Constantly.
* {{Nepotism}}: Claire is the relation of "some chairman," and so her atrocious acting runs unchecked.
* NobodyOver50IsGay: Strongly averted, by Frank and Cyril as well as Oliver (who is in his [[LiteralMinded late forties]]).
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed:
** In Season 1, Jack Crew's storyline is loosely based on Creator/KeanuReeves' infamous {{Hamlet}}.
** In Season 2, Henry Breedlove is clearly meant to resemble [[Creator/KennethBranagh another hugely successful, talented, and rather egotistical Shakespearean actor]].
* OdeToIntoxication: "Call The Understudy," the ending credits tune.
* OrphanedPunchline / NoodleIncident: Scenes are often opened at the end of what have clearly been long true-from-life accounts, just in time for the punchline. Breedlove is a [[RunningGag walking example]]; he is introduced finishing a story he's telling to a crowd, at the conclusion of which a fellow actor returns "with a fish," which he throws at a woman in the audience. Later a scene cuts to him saying, "I thought ThePope was a pretty good sport about it."
* OurProductSucks: The Froghammer ad campaign in Season 2.
* PhraseCatcher: The circumstances of Oliver's death and the phrase "pig truck."
* PlotParallel: As with CentralTheme above, there's always many, many connections between each season's play and backstage plots.
* PunnyName: Holly Day, Lionel Train.
* PutOnABus: Kate, at the beginning of the second season.
* QuickNip: Oliver, before his death.
* RealLifeRelative: Geoffrey and Ellen are married in real life; Season 3's Sophie is the real life daughter of Frank.
* ReferenceOverdosed: Given that the majority of the cast are in-universe Shakespearean actors putting on Shakespeare's plays ''and'' the show itself reflects those plays in its characters, arcs, and themes, this is inevitable.
* TheReveal: The cause of Geoffrey's nervous breakdown and his falling out with Oliver and Ellen. ([[spoiler: Oliver had sex with Ellen.]])
* RhetoricalQuestionBlunder:
-->'''Geoffrey''': Which would you prefer: an empty house with a great play, or a full house with a piece of garbage?\\
'''Richard''': GARBAGE! GARBAGE! I want GARBAGE!
:: and
-->'''Ellen''': What do you want me to do, ask her to leave?\\
'''Geoffrey''': Yes! Now! Please!
* RunningGag: Sanjay quoting something inspirational, and finishing "RichardNixon said that."
* TheScottishTrope: Season 2.
* ShoutOut: To Creator/WilliamShakespeare, constantly.
* ShownTheirWork: Those lengthy discussions of possible decisions for the staging, direction, and acting of the plays reference loads of critical theory and scholarship, though they're so conversationally written that you don't need to know that to be interested.
* ShowWithinAShow: Much of the action revolves around the production of plays in the New Burbage Theater.
* SickeninglySweethearts: Two of the interns in Season Two.
* SillyWill: Oliver, who asked to have his head severed upon his death so it can be stripped of flesh and used in a production of ''{{Hamlet}}''.
* SitchSexuality: Patrick. For Joanne Kelly, anyone'd switch their sexuality. The actors would be loath to admit it, but this subplot is a PlotParallel for Darren's [[TrueArtIsIncomprehensible incomprehensible]] gender-exploration production!
* SlapSlapKiss
* SmugSnake: Henry Breedlove, a complete and utter asshole of a pretentious actor who absolutely refuses to take direction.
* SpiritAdvisor: Oliver.
* SpoilerOpening: An actor who was a regular in season 1 is credited as a guest star in the opening credits of the first episode of season 2. This kind of gives away the result of her character's plotline that episode, which is her deciding whether or not to stay in New Burbage.
* TalkingInYourDreams: [[MaybeMagicMaybeMundane Probably]] averted: When they're out of contact Geoffrey sees Oliver in dreams which are probably normal [[RealDreamsAreWeirder (for a given value)]] ones and not [[DeadPersonConversation actual communication]]; the rest of the time Oliver wakes Geoffrey up to talk to him.
* TalkingToTheDead: [[ZigZaggingTrope Zig-zagged]] like crazy in a CrowningMomentOfFunny. Geoffrey's therapist prompts him to engage in this as role play during a session, guessing (correctly) that he still has a serious beef with Oliver. He then perceives a fantastic one-sided argument, admittedly carried out by a former actor of notable talent. Of course, it is actually Geoffrey holding a DeadPersonConversation with Oliver as per usual.
* TechnicianVersusPerformer: A recurring motif.
* ThematicThemeTune: The openings are drinking songs about whatever play is being performed that season.
* ThoseTwoGuys: Frank and Cyril. Also, the undertakers at Oliver's funeral in episode 2.
* TroubledProduction: Rife with InUniverse examples -- probably the most troubled is the Season 3 and its production of ''Theatre/KingLear''.
* TrueArtIsIncomprehensible: InUniverse, Darren firmly believes this. No one else does.
* UndeathAlwaysEnds
* UnfinishedBusiness: Oliver and Geoffrey both believe Oliver is present for a reason, but to their mutual despair, they can't figure out what it is so that he can take care of it and move on.
* UnsympatheticComedyProtagonist: Almost everyone in the main cast, particularly Richard.
* ViewersAreGeniuses: You ''can'' watch this show knowing nothing about Shakespeare or theater, but you'll miss a hell of a lot.
* VomitDiscretionShot
* WhamEpisode: The Season 3 opener, with [[spoiler:Charles shooting up heroin alone in his room]].
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse
** Or the Theatre sans Argent? [[spoiler: After resigning from the company, Geoffrey mentions in his final "talk with Oliver" that he planned on starting it up again.]]
** Equally, what happens to May? [[spoiler: Is she dead or still in a coma or what?]]
* WhiteDwarfStarlet: Ellen.
** Arguable to an extent. Although Ellen's golden age has clearly ended, she is still talented actress who performs well, and this is still admitted openly by everyone.
* WhoopiEpiphanySpeech: Sloan delivers a very odd example of this speech to Geoffrey and Ellen in the Season 2 finale:
-->'''Sloan:''' [[spoiler: You guys are so obviously meant to be together. So obvious it pisses me off, all right? What the fuck, just deal with it. You fucking broke my heart, Ellen, all right? But I knew you were right.]] I mean, come on. ''(walks off)''\\
'''Geoffrey:''' Wow. [[FromTheMouthsOfBabes Out of the mouths of babes.]]
* WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief: Discussed in the first season. Geoffrey quotes the [[Creator/SamuelTaylorColeridge Coleridge]] line about this, and then goes on to comment, "Of course, it all falls apart if one of the actors isn't very good at pretending."
* TheWorstSeatInTheHouse: The Minister of Culture sits in it for the opening night of ''Macbeth''.
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