A Woman and Her Dog: Abby was very attached to her dog Broadway Baby, so when she died, it was nothing less than a tragedy for her.
The Ace: Maddie. She was unstoppable in season one, winning titles and trophies left and right and staying at the top of the pyramid for almost the entire season. She's gotten insane amounts of opportunities in the industry, she's considered to be Abby's favorite (no matter how many times Abby might object to this), and if anyone could be considered the most recognizable of the ALDC team, it's her.
Asia as well.
Sophia Lucia, in the brief time that she was on the team. And Abby made sure everyone knew it.
Age-Inappropriate Dress: As mentioned in an episode where the girls received NO awards for their 'barely-there' costumes.
Arguably the outfits the girls wear to practice in as well - most of the time, they wear crop-tops and booty shorts. In the spin-off series, the girl who wears the shortest top is the oldest girl, Jessie, even though she's technically the only one of the group (except maybe Sammi) who actually needs to wear a shirt...
And what about the infamous "topless showgirls" dance? The clothing was picked out to give the effect that they were naked. Unsurprisingly, the episode is unavailable online.
Almighty Mom: The trope to look under if you want to find the core of this show's insanity.
Christi has her moments, but it's either because of her snark or something that has triggered her to act this way.
Always Second Best: Chloe. Justified, since Maddie is constantly on the top of the pyramid and gets all of the solos. It's gotten to the point where Christi has accused Abby of giving Maddie unfair advantages to keep her on top.
Ambiguously Brown: Kalani and Kira definitely aren't white, but they're not exactly black ether...
Ambiguously Gay: In the spin-off series "Dance Moms: Miami", the dance instructors, Victor and Angel.
Another example is the Candy Apples placing higher than the ALDC in "Abbygeddon".
Bare Your Midriff: Practicing or at competition all the girls have their midriffs showing.
To be fair, a lot of studios require similar outfits. It's very hard to move when you're in restricting clothing that isn't stretchy enough, plus this way you can get more of an idea of what you're doing wrong, like if your stomach isn't pulled in.
Brick Joke: Christi's famous comment on a particularly provocative outfit ("they look like prostitots") comes back in the next season ("prostitots, the sequel").
Butt Monkey: Kendall, especially in season 3. She tends to get picked on by Abby a lot more than others.
Chloe has always been a notably larger target for Abby. She borders on Iron Butt Monkey.
Call Back: Several contestants from "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition" (something of a Spin-Off) have appeared on the show, and two of them actually joined Abby's team: Kalani Hiliker and Asia Monet Ray. Two others from "Abby's Ultimate" joined Cathy's team, as did one of the kids from Dance Moms: Miami and one of the girls who guested on Abby's team.
Rachelle Rak also showed up in a few episodes, and subsequently replaced Robin Antin for season 2 of "Abby's Ultimate".
A rather epic example; for the 2012 nationals, Mackenzie performs a solo called "Killer Bee" that's a semi-replica of a solo that Vivi-Anne did back in season one called "Honeybee". While Vivi's dance didn't even place, Mackenzie's dance got first and won her the Petite Miss Energy title.
The Cameo: Maddie was the sole winner of a series of auditions to have an appearance (albeit a small one) on Drop Dead Diva. Bonus points for said show airing on the same channel. Her fellow teammates made a cameo in a short video starring "the Pyramid".
Canon Immigrant: Asia and Kalani both joined Abby's team after having been on ALDC.
Mackenzie also attempted this in season 4 when she released an album called ''MackZ''. The critical reception was less harsh than to Brooke's (don't get us wrong, there was still plenty of hate thrown around), but both had notable usage of autotune.
Diabolus ex Machina: If Abby's group dance placing tenth in "Abbygeddon" wasn't bad enough, Cathy's placed ninth.
There's one scenario in which Chloe and Maddie have competing solos, and Chloe wins at the award ceremony. However, it turned out that there was a scoring error from the judges, and Maddie truly won, much to Christi's annoyance and chagrin.
Downer Ending: Many episodes end with the girls failing to win the competition, but "Abbygeddon" cranked things Up to Eleven. Their group lost to Cathy, and Maddie ran off stage mid-solo. They only get one win.
Some of the stories of the performances end on sour notes as well. Examples include "Runaways", "Disappear", and "The Last Text".
Dropped A Bridge On Her: There are tons of dance moms and dancers who leave ALDC and are never seen again. Minister Dawn and Jackie are the two big examples, and Leslie is an on/off member.
Dumb Blonde: Averted with Chloe and Paige. All of the girls get straight A's in school.
Dying Moment of Awesome: More of an Expelling Moment of Awesome; Kelly attacking Abby before she and her kids got expelled from the team.
Establishing Character Moment: Abby got hers when she kicked Minister Dawn and Regan off the team and showed everyone that Abby Lee Miller was no one to mess with. This was in the series premiere, no less.
Even Bad Women Love Their Mamas: Abby had a very deep connection with her mother Maryen Lorrain Miller, who essentially sparked Abby's love for dance. Then she came down with cancer and died in season 4.
Has Two Mommies: Possibly Kimmy. In the episode where she has to be a "bad girl," it sounds like Angel asks her, "Have you ever talked back to your moms?" It's unclear if he actually said "moms" or if the accent just made him sound like he said it, though.
Hypocritical Heartwarming: All of the moms and Abby are known to criticize one another and the girls but when someone outside the group does it they will all rally and defend one another. In one noticeable example a mother at an open call audition criticizes Paige's a la seconde turns. Abby immediately gets angry and Christi hits the point home by telling the mother "Abby can talk about her dancers but no one else can.
I Just Want to Be Normal: The girls' dance schedules have restrained them from doing normal things for girls their age, like hanging out with friends or going to parties.
Ill Girl: Vivi, apparently. In a season 3 episode, Christi says that Vivi is "always sick".
Nia might also be an example, as she has a medical condition (something affecting the bones in her feet). In the Mother's Day special, it was revealed that she was actually in the hospital for some time over the summer, and was in a wheelchair for a while afterward.
Mackenzie apparently has extra bones in one of her feet, making it painful for her to dance, though how painful it is seems to be up for debate. (See Playing Sick below.)
I Need a Freaking Drink: The moms have a penchant for meeting up at bars or restaurants to down a glass of alcohol to vent themselves out.
Male Gaze: One of the cameramen does it. It's a Freeze-Frame Bonus, but not as hard to find. In one episode, the cameraman actually focuses the camera on Kelly's breasts for less than a second. The best part? No one seemed to notice.
Mama Bear: Any of the moms, whenever they feel like their child is insulted.
Manipulative Editing: According to the Star Quest dance competition, the show edited the competition to give the impression that certain acts were competing against each other when they weren't, and also edited the award announcements to make certain acts place higher or lower than they actually did.
Ally Serigne (who got on the team via open auditions), who was on the show during season 3 for 37 episodes before leaving.
Sophia Lucia left after 19 episodes.
Mood Whiplash: In the "topless showgirls" episode, the girls show excitement when Abby tells them that they are going to be showgirls in the group dance...but then Abby tells them that they are going to be "naked" in the dance. Every bit of that excitement is killed immediately and replaced with shock.
Sadist Teacher: Abby is strict, but mostly reserves her screaming for the mothers, and isn't in fact especially harsh as dance (gymnastics, skating, etc) coaches go. The mothers, on the other hand, tend to overreact just a bit to any implication their daughter is not a star....
Of course, some of her Villain Protagonist actions (as written below) definitely show this. She yells at Chloe and Nia for choking on their routines, but as soon as Maddie forgets her routine, Abby runs out of the room crying.
The Smurfette Principle: Inverted. Justice (in the original series) and Lucas (in the spin-off series) are both treated as "special" because they are both male competitive dancers.
In season 3, Cathy replaces her team with a new team, made entirely of males. (Though in episode 18, she does use a girl, however briefly). So far, they have gone against Abby's girls four times, and won against them three of those times.
Soap Box Sadie: Abby has expressed her political views in the choreography a few times.
Sole Survivor: During a group dance, a fake car crash occurs and after a matter of time kills everyone but—you guessed it—Maddie.
Stage Mom: All the moms! Especially Cathy, who seems to have no realistic take on her daughter's ability (or lack thereof.)
Straw Hypocrite: Prior to season four, Abby regularly bashed Cathy for not training her own dancers, but bringing in outside dancers from other studios and "slapping her logo on them." Cut to Abby recruiting Asia and Kalani from AUDC and bragging about their talents. She also recruited Sophia Lucia, who was already relatively well known in the dance world before Dance Moms even began airing.
Technician Versus Performer: Possibly between Maddie and Chloe. Chloe is often seen as superior technically, but Maddie tends to get more solos because she is able to use her face (a.k.a, perform) better onstage. Also can be seen in the case of Nia and Mackenzie - neither one is the best in the group, but it's obvious that they both love dancing. Averted with Brooke - she's one of the strongest technically, but her lack of expression is what keeps her from getting solos often.
Tempting Fate: When Paige keeps insisting that she shows everyone her back aerial, Abby finally obliges...only for Paige to break her foot on the landing.
Not so much anymore, because Asia has joined the team.
Toplessness from the Back: There's a particular shot in the infamous "topless showgirls" episode that displays Brooke and Paige shirtless from the back.
Trailers Always Spoil: At the end of the season three recap, a "trailer" showing what's to come in the season is shown, revealing tons of seemingly important parts of the plot, including Kelly leaving the team. Again.
Tropes Are Not Bad: A handful of tropes have actually been referenced by some of the moms.
And by team dynamics, this position is shared by everyone who isn't Maddie and now Mackenzie and Kalani.
Villain Protagonist: Abby, at times. For instance, when she pulls out all of Maddie's recent crowns (there are a lot of them), and shows them to the other girls. Of course, seeing as Maddie gets a solo virtually Once an Episode, and the other girls are lucky to get one a month, it becomes insulting. Melissa then comes down, and Abby brutally insults her and the moms for not wanting the girls to get big-headed.
Weirdness Magnet: "What is it about me? Why do I attract all the crazy ones?" - Abby
Wham Episode: "Big Trouble in the Big Apple", where the Abby-Kelly rivalry reaches a violent apex that results in her, Brooke, and Paige being kicked off the ALDC roster permanently.
Up to Eleven: You thought that was bad? In January 2014 (a while after the episode's events, which were in November 2013), Abby filed a restraining order against Kelly. The next month, Kelly sued Abby's company for $5 million for reasons including emotional distress, defamation, assault, and breach of contract. Damn.
What the Hell, Hero?: "You've Been Unfriended" sees a level of jerkassery never before seen in Abby. To one of the dancers, no less. (Chloe, to be exact.)
What Were You Thinking?: When Jill takes the stage in a tango, Christi and Melissa show up to present her with a crown and a bouquet. Abby doesn't take the situation very lightly, as she describes her feelings for the situation in one word: "Idiots."
Another example, to a lesser extent, is in season one when ALL of the dance moms (including Cathy) take the stage with a dance number, and Cathy decides to give herself an on-the-spot solo part. Abby also doesn't take it too lightly from backstage.
Youngest Child Wins: The Ziegler girls: Mackenzie and Maddie While the older sister, Maddie is one of the youngest girls on the team and tends to take home 1st while Mackenzie is the youngest and wins quite often as well. Also, Asia was younger than Mc Kenzie, and she left the ALDC undefeated in her solos.