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. From season two onward, Reality Ensued and things started falling apart for her, but she still holds a great legacy.
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 and perhaps even on DVD.
Almighty Mom: The trope to look under if you want to find the core of this show's insanity.
Always Second Best: Again, according to her mom, Chloe. Justified. Maddie is constantly on the top of the pyramid and gets all of the solos. Its 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.
Badass Pacifist: Holly. Not once has she snapped or even swore, which is why she rarely gets into arguments with Abby.
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.
Butt Monkey: Kendall, especially in season 3. She tends to get picked on by Abby a lot more than others.
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".
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.
Caustic Critic: Abby when reviewing the Candy Apples' performances, if not the lowlights of hers.
Child Popstar: Brooke becomes this during summer 2012 when she releases her hit debut single, "Summer Love Song". A year later, she releases an entire Self-Titled Album. Mixed opinions have been tossed around concerning Brooke's music career, with a large amount of criticism given to Brooke's heavy Autotune use.
Early episodes in season 4 are starting to paint Mackenzie as this.
Deleted Scene: The show is notoriously full of scenes you don't get to see.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Month Inside, Week Outside: Also, all of the episodes were filmed in advance and take place at least a month beforehand. On one occasion, one episode featuring Abby's dog Broadway Baby was released around the time Broadway Baby died. Cue confusion.
Out of Focus: As of season 3, Paige, Nia, and Brooke are all this (though Brooke doesn't seem to mind). Chloe was for a little while, but now she is back in Abby's good graces.
Parody: The show received one from VH-1. Abby became a behemoth who trains Nia, Maddie, and Chloe by crushing their spirits demeaning line after demeaning line. She favors Maddie the most and doesn't care much for her other students. Nia spent most of the parody inside a barrel full of dog poop "and failure", and Chloe was presumably crushed by Abby.
Recurring Element: Arguments. Not one episode is complete without a big argument between the moms. The only exceptions are probably a few of the show's specials.
Many of the girls' solos end with a signature sashay off-stage.
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.
Scare Chord: Whenever a dancer forgets her number or something equally bad occurs.
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.
Not so much anymore, because Asia has joined the team.
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.
The Unfavorite: In comparison to Maddie, Kenzie is. 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.
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.