The Three Stooges are best known for the dozens of short subjects they turned out through Columbia Pictures starting in the 1930s. In fact, with 190 short films, not including their features and numerous cameo or guest appearances dating back to 1930, this trio had the longest film series in Hollywood history.Though there were several members over the years, people nowadays are most likely to be familiar with the iconic lineup of Moe Howard, the bully-like leader; Larry Fine, the frizzy-haired sort-of straight man, and Jerome "Curly" Howard (Moe's younger brother), the bald, oddball guy with the weird mannerisms and verbalizations.Like many Hollywood successes, the Stooges came about their success largely through serendipity. The Stooges started out as second bananas to former vaudeville comic Ted Healy, and were not originally credited as Stooges. The original line-up consisted of Moe, Larry and Shemp Howard, Moe's elder brother. After making one film with Healy, 1930's Soup to Nuts, Shemp launched a solo career as a comic and character actor. Jerome (who had no prior acting experience) was recruited, dubbed Curly despite (or perhaps because) of his shaved head, and the trio continued to appear in films with Healy.In 1934, Columbia offered them their first picture deal and Moe promptly seized the opportunity to make the big time without their notoriously drunk and abusive employer. Their first film, Women Haters, was moderately successful; their second, Punch Drunks, was moreso; and the third Men in Black, was nominated for an Oscar and the group found its niche appearing in a half dozen or so short films (16-20 minutes) a year.Curly was forced to retire in 1947 after suffering a stroke, and Shemp Howard (who was reluctant to rejoin, as he had a successful solo career, but realized that Moe and Larry would have nothing without the Stooges) rejoined the act, changing the dynamic and triggering an ongoing "Curly vs. Shemp" debate that presaged the similar Joel vs. Mike debates of more recent vintage. After Shemp died in 1955, a bizarre set of Stooges shorts were created in order to complete the trio's current contract, making use of a body double and stock footage to make it appear that the now-deceased Shemp had participated, a technique later dubbed the Fake Shemp in his honor by director Sam Raimi. In 1956, Joe Besser, already a well-established comedy star, joined the group for their last shorts with Columbia (the short-film format was retired in 1959), and "Curly Joe" DeRita would sign on for their "post-shorts" career.The Stooges continued to make popular feature films and TV appearances until 1970 when Larry Fine suffered a stroke during production of a TV pilot called Kook's Tour. In the early 1970s, longtime Stooges supporting actor Emil Sitka (best known to most Stooges fans for the line "Hold hands, you lovebirds!") was promoted to "Third Stooge", but Moe died in 1975 before any more movies were made, ending the era of the original Three Stooges.The Three Stooges are one of the few rare comedy acts of the black-and-white era that continue to attract fans and remain so firmly embedded in the popular culture that a fifteen second silent cameo depicting them as airport firefighters still provides one of the biggest laughs in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World decades after their heyday. Their popularity is such that video games have been made about them all the way up to the Game Boy Advance era. And while their broad slapstick has been often derided by critics, it's also a key reason why they're popular even in nations where English isn't spoken. They also had two animated adaptations: a syndicated series in 1965, with live-action wraparounds between cartoons, and The Robonic Stooges, a segment of Hanna-Barbera's Skatebirds. Unfortunately, neither of these truly took advantage of The Stooges' already cartoon-like nature.That's the short version of it. Wikipedia has practically a small book on the team, their history and their impact. Nyuk nyuk nyuk.Trope-wise, it is hard to do slapstick without referencing the Stooges. They did it all. Wait. Here is the throw-down: If you can come up with a slapstick bit that was not done by the Stooges, the Wiki will award you a delicious, fresh-baked custard pie.note In your face. Let's not forget tradition! Notably, the Groin Attack trope is not on this page. This could be an oversight or deliberate, due to Hays Code enforcement. The movie definitely has a Groin Attack, but it's not the original Stooges...Don't bring any lame one-foot-in-a-wastecan, guy-turns-with-ladder-and-bonks-another-guy-in-the-eye stuff. We have no pies for that.A movie was released on April 13, 2012. It was directed by the Farrelly Brothers, appropriately enough. Described on the DVD as a love letter to the Stooges, the film recreates many of the trio's tropes, and adds a few more.Has a recap page in progress.Trope Namer for Three Stooges Shout Out.
The Three Stooges provides examples of the following tropes:
Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: The shorts used this in a couple of varieties, including the door opening outwards and the villains coming in behind them, sometimes handing them things to put on the barricade.
Inverted in the 2012 movie when the Stooges as children dress up to be adopted.
A Handful for an Eye: In "Studio Stoops", done to a henchman by Shemp with ashtray sand after getting grabbed and asked, "Who're you?". His reply? "I'm the sandman."
All Just a Dream: Most of "I Can Hardly Wait", though the audience is shown that it's Curly's dream when it starts in a Thought Bubble. "Heavenly Daze", and its stock footage reworking, "Bedlam in Paradise", are examples featuring Shemp.
In an odd variation of this trope, Moe becomes a balloon in one episode. In Dizzy Pilots, Moe falls into a tub of tar, and to get the tar off of him, Larry and Curly cut a hole in his clothes and begin filling it up with gas. Hilarity Ensues as Moe begins to float away when Larry and Curly aren't looking, and they spend the next sizable chunk of the episode trying to get Moe down. He eventually floats through an opening in the ceiling and into the sky. Hearing Moe cry during the ordeal makes this a candidate for Crowning Moment of Funny.
Played straight in the 2012 movie, when a little girl gets lifted by a bunch of balloons. When a bullet pops them and she falls onto a big cake, she says "That was awesome!!!".
Beam Me Up, Scotty!: While Curly could psych himself up when dealing with the bad guys and occasionally needed to be restrained, he never said, "Lemme at 'em! Lemme at 'em!" (That would be Scrappy Doo.)
Bears Are Bad News: In the short Idiots Deluxe, the stooges have to contend with a bear which wanders into their cabin as they're camping. Hilarity Ensues, as just about everything they try backfires on them.
Hearing the song "Pop Goes the Weasel" in Punch Drunks. When the music stopped, so did he.
Seeing a mouse in Horses' Collars. The only way to stop him was to stuff cheese into his mouth.
Smelling a perfume fragrance called "Wild Hyacinth" in Grips, Grunts and Groans. In this short, the only way to stop him was to tickle his feet.
The sight of tassels in Tassels in the Air.
Mentioning "Niagara Falls" can also push Moe and Larry's button.
The Wolf Man in "Idle Roomers" was fairly peaceful until he heard music, causing him to go berserk.
Black Comedy: Happens occasionally, such as in An Ache in Every Stake when Moe tells Larry to fill a cake with gas to make it look bigger. Larry misinterprets the command, "Take the gas pipe," to mean he himself should suck on the gas pipe. Moe, naturally, gets annoyed and ends his scolding with, "I'll kill you later. Personally!" Larry actually looks scared; he believes Moe might actually do it!
Breakingthe Fourth Wall: In the short "So Long, Mr. Chumps" there's a scene where Larry and Moe are breaking rocks over Curly's head. As a gag, Larry places a real rock on Curly's head, prompting Curly to address the camera, "Hey, that's a real one! I'm no fool!" Such meta moments were actually rare in the Stooges shorts, but it was left in the final film.
A later Shemp-era short has the boys kissing and hugging a trio of women. At one point, Larry pauses, looks directly at the camera and exclaims, "This I like - and I get paid for it, too!"
In "Oil's Well that Ends Well," Joe Besser silently mouthes the words "I hate him" after Moe is mean to him.
Butter Face: Curly or Shemp often ended up with one of these while Moe and Larry got attractive women.
Butt Monkey: The worst things would usually happen to Curly. Then again, contrary to the public perception of the stooges, Moe often seemed to get the worst of the beatings, mostly due to accidents caused by himself or Larry and Curly's stupidity, and he'd then take it out on them whether it was their fault or not.
Moe, Larry and Curly Joe appeared in the 1963 film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. They are on-screen for maybe ten seconds, don't speak or even move, and it's still one of the funniest jokes in the entire movie.
Curly himself also appeared post-retirement in the short "Hold That Lion" as a sleeping train passenger who would make dog noises (as Curly would). This would be the only short to include all three of the Howard brothers, Moe, Curly, and Shemp. The scene was also used in "Booty and the Beast".
Larry, Moe and Curley show up in a last minute cameo in 1942 screw-ball comedy My Sister Eileen. The central joke of that film involved two sisters who's basement Manhattan apartment is routinely invaded by all manner of hilariously outlandish pests. The final moments of the films see the Stooges (apparently employed as subway maintenance workers) literally drilling their way into the apartment from below.
For reasons unknown the 1960s western film 4 for Texas, which followed a semi-dramatic plot about a man running a riverboat casino and avoiding being killed in the process, stops dead near the end so that Larry, Moe and Curley-Joe can put on a brief routine, after which they disappear from the film as abruptly as they arrived.
A variant occurs after Shemp died. Moe and Larry still did four shorts, referring to Shemp - and occasionally "meeting up" with him via archive footage filmed when he was still alive.
They also did some new scenes where a stand-in was used for Shemp, making sure (not always successfully) to keep his back to the camera. They had to do it for contract reasons, which had to be heartbreaking for Shemp's younger brother, Moe.
Celebrity Paradox: In one short, a butler tells Moe, Larry and Curly that they remind him of the Three Stooges. Curly even takes that as an insult!
Close-Call Haircut: In many shorts, gun shots might leave a bald, steaming trail from the front to the back of Moe's or someone else's head, or else blow their hats (or toupees) off.
Cut a Slice, Take the Rest: Moe and Larry would usually give Curly the short end of the stick. In the short I Can Hardly Wait they even make Curly feel guilty for being so ungrateful for his meager piece of the food when he complains.
Moe: We each took half a slice of ham and half an egg apiece, and gave you a whole bone and a whole egg shell, and you're squawkin'!!
Deadpan Snarker: Larry, when he wasn't acting as goofy as Curly in order to annoy Moe.
Dem Bones: Almost every time the Stooges did a "horror" short, they met with either walking and talking skeletons or with cackling, flying skulls (their live parrot or owl inhabitant the cause), or both.
Judge: You face charges of attempt to commit mayhem. Curly: You mean murder! Larry: Yeah! He tried to kill us, too!
Disguised in Drag: Used quite often. Especially blatant in these cases because most of the Stooges not only have very obviously male faces, but are... well, exceptionally ugly, even as men. Also, Curly, the largest Stooge, is the one who most frequently has to do this.
In fact, in one episode, Curly dresses up as a female Native American to fool a French hunter, who actually goes so far as to marry this "fat Indian momma" and take him/her to his bedroom. Hilarity ensued, although since this was before Black Comedy Rape, the disguise was revealed before anything truly unfortunate could happen.
Moe and Curly disguise themselves as female nurses in the movie in order to sneak into the hospital. Curly even flirts with a male employee, who falls for "her" charms!
Whenever the Stooges disguised themselves as children, Larry would dress as a girl.
D.I.Y. Disaster: In A Plumbing We Will Go, the boys pose as plumbers; their attempts at plumbing had water coming out of the stove, the light bulbs, telephones, and a very primitive television set.
In Goof on the Roof, the stooges trying to set up a television somehow results in their completely ruining the house they'd been renting a room in.
Attempting to fix the bell in the 2012 movie.
Dodgy Toupee: Cropped up in a few shorts, such as "Disorder in the Court".
Dope Slap: Essentially Moe's job. Interestingly, when Moe wasn't around, Larry tended to take his place dishing out Dope Slaps, as he was next in the vague pecking order dynamic the stooges had. Occasionally, Curly or Shemp would hit Larry, again, provided Moe wasn't around. Lampshaded in their dope slap lineups, where Moe would turn to slap Larry, Larry would turn to slap Shemp, and Shemp would turn to slap...nobody, emphasizing his place as the low man.
Drop The Cow: The shorts had to be strictly two reels and comedy was valued more than plot. So many shorts end with a big bang rather than a bunch of loose ends tying up. This, far from being dissatisfying, is often as funny as the gags themselves!
Enforced Method Acting: Curly's goofy walk is the result of an accidental self-inflicting gunshot wound to the left ankle when he was 12.
Engineered Heroics: The Stooges flirt with this in Pest Man Wins when they infest a mansion with common household pests in order to exterminate them and get paid.
Epic Fail: Simply put, if they gave out awards for spectacular failures, the Stooges would be the undefeated champions.
Everything's Better with Monkeys: The Stooges occasionally ran into some helpful, if mischievous, varieties of these critters (one short even featured a monkey named Joe as a key part of their act). Other encounters were decidely less pleasant; see Killer Gorilla.
Extreme Doormat: Larry comes across as the most sensible of the three in most of the shorts but apparently only goes along with what the others do — and puts up with Moe's abuse — because he's just very passive. The fact that Curly and Shemp also put up with Moe's abuse makes them examples of this as well.
At a fancy dinner, he was presented with a crab ("Ooh, a tarantula!") and ate it, shell and all.
In A Pain in the Pullman, all three of them eat crab shells, leaving the meat aside. Interestingly, Moe's crab shell is a rock candy fake; he had a dislike of shellfish (either from keeping kosher himself or growing up in a family who did) and didn't even like the smell left on a real crab shell.
Eye Poke: Moe's signature move (actually performed by poking the eyebrows).
Moe:(about a persimmon tree) You ain't gonna get anywhere with a single tree. Why, this poor thing is pining away for a girlfriend! Curly: Or maybe a boyfriend. Moe: Quiet.
The 1936 short Movie Maniacs has Curley utter this pearl of wisdom: "If at first you don't succeed, keep on suckin' til ya do suc-ceed!" It's not even a double-entendre, though in the 1930s the phrase "to suck" didn't have the same meaning that it does now.
In "Three Little Beers", the trio are employed by the Panther Pilsner Company. "Panther piss" was a popular slang term for cheap and horrible beer at the time.
This exchange from "Slippery Silks," when Moe answers at the phone at a fashion boutique the trio have stumbled into owning.
Moe: Hello? Yes, this is Madame de France... (Larry flinches at the name) Larry: Wait a minute! Moe:(into phone) Pardon me a moment. Larry: Put your right hand on your right hip. (Moe does it) Curly: Turn your head this way. (Moe does it) Larry: Throw your head back. (Moe does it; he is now standing in an extremely fay pose) Larry and Curly:(make a limp-wristed gesture) Woooo woo!
For a PG film, the 2012 movie managed to sneak a surprising amount of off-color content, including boob jokes, a scantily-clad nun, and a closeup of a lion's testicles.
Giggling Villain: Played with. "Malice in the Palace" has the stooges sneak into the palace of the main villain. After they dispatch of the guard, he walks into the room laughing evilly as the stooges hide. One would think he still can't get over nabbing the diamond; cut to a close-up to reveal he's reading the Comics section from a newspaper.
Grande Dame: A very common character in the shorts, the stuffy Society lady whose party (for example) is invaded by the Stooges and becomes the venue for a gigantic pie fight. Often played by Symona Boniface, sort of a budget studio Margaret Dumont.
Also referenced in the 2012 film, during the party scene.
The stooges help one reunite with her father in Nutty but Nice.
Another one shows up in the movie.
Impossible Leavening: Done with beer instead of bread. In Beer Barrel Polecats, each of the Stooges add the prescribed amount of yeast to their beer, not knowing that the other two stooges have done (or will do) the same. They end up with enough beer that they have to move it to a bathtub to contain it all.
Iron Buttmonkey: Though this applies to Curly most of all, all three Stooges have their moments.
Isophagus: Played straight in Disorder in the Court, where Moe accidentally swallows a harmonica and Larry and Curly respond by making him play "Ach Du Lieber Augustine" by pumping his arm and squeezing his stomach.
Is There a Doctor in the House?: In the episode From Nurse to Worse, a doctor shouts this frantically while in a hospital surrounded by other doctors, after accidently giving another doctor sleeping gas when he was supposed to give it to Curly, before slowly realizing that he is a doctor.
It Was Here, I Swear: Should a short have some sort of paranormal or mystery theme, Curly and Shemp will usually be the first to come across something frightening, which conveniently disappears when Moe gets involved. Moe will eventually witness it himself, however.
Disorder in the Court introduces a gun as evidence. Curly is told to try to pull the incredibly rusty trigger, after being told "Never fear, it's not loaded." After one harmless click, he then accidentally shoots off the baliff's toupee when his finger gets stuck in the trigger guard.
Any time the Stooges or someone around them insisted a gun wasn't loaded, it was. In "Even as I.O.U." Curly gives a baby a pacifier. When Moe sees that it's a revolver, he reaches in to get it, but is stopped by Larry, who warns that the kid might pull the trigger. Curly insists it isn't loaded, and seeks to prove it...by cocking the hammer and thoughtlessly discharging it in an enclosed space. Pretty much every rule of gun safety is blithely disregarded.
In The Movie, a girl is clinging to balloons and floating to the ceiling, and Larry gets the idea to take a shotgun off a wall rack to pop the balloons. Moe takes it from him, chides him for his 'gun safety' and hits him with a buttstroke - causing the gun to go off. It was already loaded on the wall.
Just for Pun: Often overlooked by their physical slapstick humor is their witty way with words and puns. Examples can be found in any short- and the movie.
Kavorka Man: All three. Curly was this off-screen as well.
Killer Gorilla: Gorillas were always bad news in Three Stooges shorts, though they often took a liking to Curly or Shemp.
Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Moe is arguably best example ever of this trope. As the "boss" stooge he often rudely bullies Larry and Curly(and Shemp) around for goofing up and considers himself smarter than them but is clearly every bit as dim as they are.
Kung-Foley: The Stooges had the most ridiculous and creative foley artists in the history of film. In fact the main reason the television pilot they filmed late in their careers flopped was that it didn't have those ridiculous sound effects. Those noises that went with their unique slapstick were an essential part of their comedy. Without them their classic comedy slapstick is reduced to violence for violence' sake. Remember that "slapstick" doesn't refer to the stick you use to slap someone. It's the stick you use to create the slapping sound.
The 2012 film had Larry and Curly looking for a lawyer; on the floor of the building they were looking in, they see a variety of punny tenants' names such as "Proba, Keister & Wince, Proctologists" and "Ditcher, Quick and Hyde, Divorce Lawyers", before arriving at the law offices of "Kickem, Harter & Indagroyne".
Murphy's Bed: How many times have their bunk beds collapsed? It doesn't help that they always put the heaviest person, Curly, on the top bunk. Curly often steps on Moe's and Larry's heads on the way up to the top. The trio have often had bad luck with beds that fold into the wall as well.
Music Soothes The Savage Beast: Inverted in Idle Roomers, which features a Wolf Man who is relatively tame until he hears music. The stooges, mistakenly believing in this trope, decide to play music when confronted by him, activating the Wolf Man's Berserk Button.
Pie in the Face: If not the Trope Codifiers, they definitely took this trope and ran with it, several times. Although, as some Stooges historians have noted, not nearly as often as the general public might think. Something like 10 or 12 out of almost 200 shorts actually feature pie-throwing. It wasn't always pie either, sometimes it could be mud, cake, sculpting clay (in an episode where the stooges start a fight at an art school), or any other messy substance. Also, these weren't actual pies, more like whipped cream in a tin.
Pungeon Master: Curly, again. He'd usually say this in response to a question Moe asked, and Moe would either just be annoyed and ignore it, or in some cases, slap Curly. Example:
Curly:(after hearing a roar in a pipe they're trying to fix) Sounds like a bear! Moe: How's a bear gonna fit down there? Curly: Well, it's bear-y possible! (Moe nods like Curly made a good point before realizing he just made another stupid pun and gives him an annoyed look)
Many minor characters have ones related to their profession. For example, the dentist in All The World's A Stooge is named I. Yankum.
Pretty much every firm in the 2012 movie as well.
Reaching Between the Lines: Moe somehow did this with an eye poke in "False Alarms", and his shaving brush in "I'll Never Heil Again".
Right Behind Me: Done often, usually with Moe. Though it wasn't usually Moe overhearing Larry and Curly talking about him, rather, it'd be when they're doing something like squirting a hose in his face or mistaking his hand for a slab of meat and putting it in a sandwich. He'd wait until they noticed before administering a Dope Slap.
However, many so-called "running gags" are actually recurring/recycled gags. One example of a bona fide running gag involves a piece of shtick in which Moe holds his clenched fist out to Curly, asks "See that?" and then either Moe or Curly slaps the fist which arcs Moe's arm around in a circle to bonk Curly on the head. This gag is repeated, with slight variations, in many consecutive shorts from 1934 onwards. However, in the 1936 short "False Alarms", the use of "See that?" becomes the subject of a running gag-breaker. When Moe first tries it, Curly says "We don't have time for that now" as the Stooges have to get away from the approaching fire chief. Then, when Moe tries it a second time, Curly grabs the fist and sticks out his tongue, "Nyah!" (but he still gets bonked). The "See that?" gag becomes less frequent after this film.
Self-Deprecation: More than once in their shorts, such as this exchange in Crash Goes the Hash.
A butler: Say, you three remind me of the Three Stooges. Curly: Hey! That's an insult!!
Shoehorned First Letter: In the short Sing a Song of Six Pants, the stooges are trying to guess the name of the owner of a suit when they know his initials are TH. They come up with Thomas Hedison and Teddy Hoosevelt.
Shot in the Ass: This often happened to them. They reacted to it in about the same way a cartoon character would.
The Show Must Go On: That scene with the crab and Curly? It cut up the inside of his mouth terribly. Another time when hit on the head Curly's scalp split open. They glued it together on the set. When they ran out of pies in a throwing sequence, they scooped the remains off of the floors, loose nails and all. One of Moe's falls onto a Saw Horse broke several ribs.
Shemp died? You still have four shorts left to film ...
Sick Episode: "Scrambled Brains", "Pardon My Clutch", and "Wham-Bam-Slam!", all of which featured Shemp.
Slapstick Knows no Gender: Women weren't on the receiving end of the stooges antics too often, at least until food fights broke out, then everybody was fair game.
A notable exception is in I'm a Monkey's Uncle. Moe and Larry have courted (read: bopped) Aggie and Maggie. Shemp is less enthusiastic about Baggie, and she ends up wooing him after a flying tackle. Another tribe comes on them and accuses the boys of stealing the women, and hurls spears; all three land in the rumps. Of Moe, Larry, and Baggie (as she's carrying Shemp).
The 1946 short "Rhythm and Weep" featured three sexy dancers as co-stars for the Stooges. A scene was filmed in which the girls dressed as Moe, Larry and Curly and impersonated the Stooges. Unfortunately, this scene was cut from the film and the footage lost; only publicity images of the girls in costume survives.
The Smart Guy: Though none of them were really that gifted intellectually, Larry was probably the marginally most intelligent and sensible of the three in most of the shorts, even if he came off somewhat eccentric. Though it usually displayed itself with him being more street than book smart.
Moe was at least smart enough to know that one person getting a handle on the situation could make it work... and then push the blame when it didn't.
Smelly Skunk: Quite a few times, like when Curly had a cold while they were fox hunting and captured a skunk by mistake. Also in many shorts Curly wears a skunk-fur cap while Moe and Larry are wearing a racoon-fur cap.
Spanner in the Works: In some shorts the Stooges, through their well-meaning blundering, would disrupt criminal activities. "Three Dumb Clucks" has the Stooges, while working to prevent their father from divorcing their mother and marrying a Gold Digger, halt an attempt on the old man's life from the Gold Digger conspiritors.
Stage Name: All of them. Moses Harry Horwitz became Moe Howard, Jerome Lester Horwitz became Curly Howard, Samuel Horwitz became Shemp Howard, and Louis Feinberg became Larry Fine.
Stand-In Portrait: A rare three-dimensional example, seen in The Hot Scots as well as other shorts.
Any comedic fight scene in which one character attempts to poke another character in both eyes at the same time, only to be foiled by the second character holding up a flattened hand in front of their nose. This gag appears in Evil Dead, during the scene where Ash is being beaten up by skeleton arms rising out of the earth.
Many trios who posess or somehow acquire hairstyles (or the equivalent) reminiscent of the Stooges'.
Short Circuit includes a brief appearance by Numbers One, Two, and Three, sent out to retrieve Number Five. "Johnny" reprograms them after a battle and they re-appear before their controllers engaging in Stooge-like shenanigans.
During the "Beware the Creeper" episode of Batman: The Animated Series, the Joker's henchmen-of-the-episode sported Stooge-like haircuts, and the bald one even engaged in Curly-like self-face-slapping. They were even named "Moe, Lar, and Curl".
Straight Man: Larry, to a certain extent, and various supporting characters.
Moe in the 2012 film.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Three actually — Joe, then Curly-Joe, and finally Emil. Joe and Curly Joe were Curly subs and Emil replaced Larry. Curly-replacing-Shemp-replacing-Curly was an aversion since Shemp and Curly were fundamentally different characters. The two Joes were subversions as well, as they had their own style and never tried to parody Curly, despite looking like him.
Styrofoam Rocks: Used quite often, though it helped sell their slapstick humor by having them survive being hit in the head with rocks or bricks with only minor pain.
This is even Lampshaded in Beer Barrel Polecats, when Moe and Larry are breaking rocks over Curly's head in prison while he nonchalantly sews a uniform. He stops them at one point when Moe is grabbing another rock.
Curly: Hey wait a minute, that's a real one! I'm no fool.
There Is Only One Bed: In episodes where they weren't sleeping in three stacked bunk beds that were almost certain to collapse, the stooges all shared one bed (even if there were 3 beds available), which usually resulted in more hilarity.
True Companions: Moe, Curly, and Shemp considered Larry to be their brother.
A major plot element of the 2012 film.
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Scads of attractive actresses played love interests for the Stooges. Later in an autobiography Moe would say that producers and directors would butter up a woman by telling her she could be in a Stooge short. That many of them had no acting abilities and little stage presence didn't seem to matter.
Yes, but one of them was Lucille Ball! (In her first credited role, no less.)
Not to mention the lovely and talented Christine McIntyre, whom many Stooge fans fondly dub "the female Stooge".
Vitriolic Best Buds: Type 1. Moe Howard sure seemed to hate the first Joe, Joe Besser. While Besser seemed to reflect on his time with the Stooges fondly and thought Howard was a good sport for taking the hits for Joe Besser.
A large portion of Curly's shtick involved his odd vocalizations like "nyuk-nyuk-nyuk," "woo-woo-woo," barking, and so on.
Shemp would often go "heebebebebebebeee", usually while snoring but in certain situations while he was awake too.
Wartime Cartoon: Though not cartoons as such, the Stooges made several shorts supporting the war effort ranging from from the sublime (You Nazty Spy) to the cringeworthy (The Yolk's on Me) which used actual Japanese-American internees as extras.
Weird Trade Union: The Amalgamated Association of Morons local 6 7/8 (Half-Wits Holiday).
Stooges: We are morons tried and true! And we'll do our yell for you! (start making weird faces and noises)
What Happened to the Mouse?: In Even As I.O.U., the plot of the first half of the short, where the stooges are helping a homeless mother and her child, is forgotten after they go to the horse races to raise money for them.
A tragic inversion of the trope occurs midway through Half-Wits Holiday when Curly walks off camera and is never seen nor referenced again, even during the short's climactic pie fight. This is due to Curly suffering his stoke between scenes and the decision being made to complete the short without him.
Yellowface: In No Dough Boys, a wartime short, the stooges are dressed as Japanese soldiers for a photo shoot, and later stumble upon a hideout with Nazi spies and have to take on the identity of the Japanese spies they were expecting to meet with.
Curly: My, ain't she pretty! Moe: Boy, you can say that again! Curly: My, ain't she pretty! Moe: Shut up! (slaps him)
You Have to Believe Me: Curly and Shemp often ended up in these situations in mystery or horror-themed shorts, earning them a Dope Slap from Moe. Then Larry would see the same scary thing, but Moe would think they're both being morons until he sees it for himself.
Young Gun: Billy the Kid in The Outlaws Is Coming.
Butt Monkey: Mac. He gets hit by a bus, sucked into a floor cleaner, stomped by a kid on a pogo stick, hit by Larry's arrow, was stuck in a full body cast, got blasted by dynamite, attacked by a lion in the zoo, and much more.
Continuity Nod: The Stooges' friend from the orphanage Teddy is a reference to Ted Healy whom created the three characters for the vaudeville stage and played the straight man to their antics on stage and in their first short Soup to Nuts.
Fish out of Water: In the 2012 movie, the stooges never left the orphanage until they were adults and had no knowledge of things like iPhones, Facebook and Twitter.
Literally when they farm salmon...on a golf course!
Groin Attack: A lion gets hit in the balls by a flying peanut (as a result of Curly and Larry trying to save a Dolphin when they accidentally clog its blowhole with said peanut.) What follows is it mauls Mac in a blind and hurt rage.