troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Series: Desperate House Wives
"What the hell kind of street do we live on?"
Edie Britt

Not a porn mag, but a US TV drama.

Bored wives in Suburbia experience unrealistic and endless drama in their lives after the suicide of their friend.

Notable for its combination Narrator/Near Death Clairvoyance trope, in which the entire series is narrated by the dulcet tones of an apparently omnipresent dead woman - the friend who committed suicide.

Basically a comedic soap, which means that unlike a regular soap, this program is funny and has interesting plotlines. However, the situations are often just as ridiculous and the relationships and plots just as hopelessly tangled-up and interwoven as any old-fashioned soap (though unlike daytime soaps, the fast pace tends to leave many confused if they miss a couple of episodes - probably why the clip show specials still proved relatively popular).

Owing to creator Marc Cherry's penchant for comedy, the series pokes fun at itself and its characters about as often as it takes them seriously, probably the number one thing that attracted most of its initial viewership, aside from the fact that it throws vicious, subversive holes in the ideas of suburban paradise and maternal bliss. In fact, ratings dropped after Executive Meddling caused the second season to be more "dramatic" (read: melodramatic) leading to the panicked execs basically saying "OK, OK we'll go back to doing more comedy again, Marc. You win." Ratings apparently improved again after that point.

Think Sex and the City meets daytime soap, meets parody of daytime soaps, set in the suburbs instead of the city with housewives instead of single women. Narrated by a dead woman.

You get all that?

A word of warning to those who aren't up-to-date on the latest episodes, the series is basically one string of continuous spoilers, so it is hard to detail just about anything that happens without revealing one twist or another. So be prepared for unmarked spoilers below.

Has a Character Sheet. Feel free to contribute.
     Character tropes 
  • Accomplice by Inaction: Paul Young sees Wisteria Lane as this for his framing.
  • Affably Evil: Mary Alice, our cheerful sing-song narrator who kidnapped a baby, then later killed said baby's mother and dismembered the corpse.
    • Dave Williams/ Dash is this. Despite what he's trying to do, he does come across as a genuinely nice guy.
  • Alphabetical Theme Naming / Letter Motif: Lynette's kids; Porter, Parker, Preston,Penny, and Paige. Paige's twin, a baby Tom and Lynette lost, was to be named Patrick. Not to mention Lynette and her sisters- Lydia and Lucy.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Gabrielle once tries to convince Carlos that she has "sexsomnia". Probably fewer than ten percent watching the show know it's a real condition.
  • Amicably Divorced: Susan and Karl during the third season. And after the first season their relationship went from toxic to a snarky competitiveness than anything.
  • Artistic Title: Literally. The opening credits (as used from seasons 1-3) depict various situations in which women find themselves 'desperate' throughout time. Eve being the very first 'Desperate Housewife', through various pieces of art until we eventually see the four protagonists holding an apple (alluding to Eve's downfall) of their own, symbolising the very contemporary and yet timeless idea of female desperation.
  • Asshole Victim: Irina, Preston's Russian fiancee.
    • Martha Huber.
    • Nora Huntington.
  • Baby-Doll Baby: When Gaby found out that her daughter had been exchanged when she gave birth, she started searching and found the other (her biological daughter)girl, and coming to realize that she couldn't keep her near her she bought an expensive doll and started to play with her, talk to her as real person, at first this is dismissed by the other characters, but when she and Carlos are about to go out, and arguing about the doll (which was in the back sit) they get robbed and told to step out of the car, Gaby refuses to let the doll even tough the robber had a loaded gun, and tries to retrieve it, yelling "My daughter!"
  • Badass Bystander: No one seemed to expect that the psychopathic gun toting hostage holder in season 3 to be taken down and shot by a nameless extra who commented earlier that the woman with the gun taught her daughter's Sunday school class.
  • Berserk Button: Lynette flips out on anybody who criticizes her parenting skills.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Dave Williams from season 5, Eddie from season 6.
  • Big Bad: One for every season.
    • Season 1: Mary Alice Young, since she was the one who killed Deirdre.
    • Season 2: Matthew Applewhite
    • Season 3: Gloria Hodge, the murderer of Monique.
    • Season 4: Wayne Davis, Katherine's bitter Corrupt Cop ex-husband.
    • Season 5: Dave Williams
    • Season 6: Patrick Logan, Angie's ex-husband.
    • Season 7: Felicia Tillman, as an ironic reversal to the situation in the first season.
    • The Final Season notably averts this, using several different characters during different arcs of the last season.
      • Arguably, Ramon Sanchez/Alejandro Perez, Gaby's step father is the big bad. Sure, he was killed at the end of the previous season, but it's because of him that a lot of the plot points occur.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: As stated above, the show had this during the final season. First, there's Alejandro, as mentioned above. Although he's dead, his death triggered a lot of events, and almost got Bree arrested towards the end. Then there's Donny, a loan shark that Ben borrowed money from. Notably, he's the only "Big Bad" that killed a main character directly. Notable in that, while he did get arrested for the murder, he's still pretty much a Karma Houdini, because we never see him in prison or anything. Next, Chuck Vance, Bree's former boyfriend who investigating her for Alejandro's murder. Orson killed him, and just a few episodes later, Orson ended up being one of the big bads, since he sent evidence that Bree participated in covering up Alejandro's murder after she rejected him. Finally, There's Detective Murphy, a friend of Chuck's. He tries to find evidence against Bree after Chuck is killed, and even tries to frame her. Also, Jane is something of a minor bad, since she's trying to hurry Lynette and Tom's divorce.
    • The show also had this during some moments before Season 8, such as with George in Seasons 1-2, Nora in Season 3, etc.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The finale has Mary Alice funnily explain the peaceful destinies of the housewives, Lynette remarrying Tom and finally landing her dream job as a CEO in New York, Gabrielle moving to California and becoming the host of a home-shopping TV show; Bree marrying Trip and becoming a legislator in Kentucky while Susan's destiny is left a bit on the dark, but with her children and granddaughter by her side. Then we understand that they will never meet again. Plus, Karen succumbs to cancer, but at least she's revealed to be with her son in the afterlife.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Dave Williams again.
  • Blood Spattered Innocents: In season 3 when Nora is shot and killed, Lynette's face and hands are coated in blood.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Gabrielle is accused of being a "Self-hating Mexican" at one point by Carlos, who realises that the reason Juanita was unaware of their ethnicity was because Gabby has gone out of her way to prevent him from teaching their daughters Spanish or anything to do with their heritage.
  • Brainless Beauty: Susan's mother Sophie was seemingly one in her youth (and arguably still is), being a much married serial romantic whom even Mary Alice calls "hoplessly naive" in her narration.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Played straight with Danielle, averted with Julie.
  • Butt Monkey: Everyone gets this treatment at one point or another during the show, but Bree and Tom Scavo appear to be the go-to characters for when the writers need something horrible to happen to a character.
    • Susan gets her fair share of this also, to the point where the other housewives don't bat an eyelid when they find out she's in trouble yet again.
  • The Chew Toy: Lynette. Lynette has, among other things, had a plethora of uncontrollable children who constantly make her life even harder, was shot in a hostage situation after finding out her husband has a love-child, is diagnosed with cancer and once cured from cancer there is a tornado which buries her family in rubble, then framed for abuse by her stepdaughter, then a whole load of personal hell...then she gets into a divorce with her husband of 20 or so years..
    • Lee as well.
    • Susan, too, with everything's that happened to her.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Carlos over Gabrielle in Season 1. She was cheating on him, but he ended up physically assaulting the wrong man twice (both of them turning out to be gay) and getting a prison sentence for it.
  • Creepy Child: Kayla.
  • Cry for the Devil: Deliberately invoked in "Epiphany", where we see how years of emotional abuse and neglect caused Eddie Orlofsky to go from a sweet kid into become the notorious Fairview Strangler.
  • Dawson Casting: John, the gardener in season one who only just turns 18 that season was played by the 28 year old Jesse Metcalfe.
  • The Ditz: Susan.
  • Evil Matriarch: Orson's mother.
  • Fag Hag: When Bob and Lee move in, Susan is excited to become this. Though this only irritates them and cause them to seriously dislike her. By season five though, she and Lee become decent friends.
  • Floorboard Failure: Susan managed to suspend herself between two floors when it happened to her in her house.
  • Four Girl Ensemble: The original housewives, Bree, Susan, Lynette and Gabby.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Susan is sanguine, Bree is melancholic, Lynette is phlegmatic and Gabrielle is choleric.
    • The husbands qualifies as well: Orson is melancholic, Carlos is choleric, Tom is sanguine and Mike is phlegmatic.
    • Mary Alice would qualify as leukine, as in flashbacks she is shown to be the force that bonds the four leads together, but has no real defining character quality that sets her apart.
    • In the fourth season of the show, Katherine challenges Bree's melancholic position in the group.
    • Bree would be more sensibly classified as choleric in the eighth season of the show.
  • Gold Digger: Preston Scavo's fiancée, Irina.
  • Housewife: It's in the title.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Carlos is a big hot blooded bruiser, and Gabrielle is so small that anyone can pick her up over their shoulder, and in one episode was able to quickly hide herself inside a small travel bag and carried around discreetly.
    • Makes you wonder how she became a model at all, considering models are usually super-tall; runway models are 5'10" at a minimum. It can be assumed that Gabrielle was some other type of model, perhaps a petite model or catalogue model.
      • Indeed, being tall isn't a prerequisite for many men's magazines/glamour models (and Eva Longoria is no stranger to such spreads in real life).
      • Lampshaded by Marc Cherry in the commentary of the first episode: When you see Gabrielle walking down a runway he admits the irony of his casting decisions.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: A pregnant Bree gets stabbed in the belly. However, no blood appears because it's a fake belly. But it does threaten to uncover the truth.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Carlos and Gabrielle spend the majority of seasons 2, 3, and 4 unemployed, yet they still live in a luxurious house, attending big parties, and collecting clothes with all the right labels.
    • In season 4, Carlos sinks their savings in an embezzlement scam, and then loses the papers for the off-shore account and goes blind for 5 years, in that time having two kids. Then he gets his sight back and almost immediately gets a high-paying job.
  • Ivy League For Everyone: Every one of the families seem to be able to sneak their kids into the same incredibly exclusive and expensive private school. Though Lynette every now and then mentions the financial troubles with it, and Susan manages to get MJ in by getting employed as a teacher's assistant.
    • Danielle, presented as stupid for most of the series, ends up attending Columbia University.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Karl, on occasion.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Most episodes have a title taken from a line of, or the title of, a song from a Stephen Sondheim musical.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Julie in the earlier seasons
  • Madness Mantra: Eddie Orlofsky, before he strangles women who mock him.
    Eddie: Please stop laughing at me...
  • Mama Bear: Susan goes ballistic whenever a member of her family is harmed.
    • Bree turns a gun on anyone who messes with her children.
    • Lynnette reacts this way when she demonstrates she would kill a man to keep her son safe in season five.
  • Mysterious Past: Almost everyone.
  • Near Death Clairvoyance: Mary Alice.
  • Nosy Neighbor: Martha Huber. And to a lesser extent, virtually everyone else on the block. Don't worry, she gets her comeuppance.
  • Pair the Spares: Carlos and Edie, Mike and Katherine and since the season five finale Bree and Karl are taking this direction.
  • Put on a Bus: During season six, one of the twins mentions that he wants to go to Europe. Without any proper goodbyes or explanation he is simply gone for half the season and we can only assume he actually did end up going to Europe.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Edie's sudden death in Season 5 was orchestrated to write the character out of the show due to Nicolette Sheridan being on increasingly bad terms with producer Mark Cherry.
  • Rich Bitch: Gabrielle, who also gets her comeuppance.
    • Also Renee from Sesaon 7 on.
  • Scars Are Forever: Angie has a horrific looking burn scar on her back, which she got from her days as an eco-terroist. She doesn't seem to mind it though, probably because its always covered.
    • Season 8's subplot on Karen's illness, which would later turn on a major plot point in the finale, was heavily inspired by the Kathryn Joosten's previous two experiences with cancer and her third relapse, which coincided with the filming and would cause her death just weeks after the series finale aired in May 2012.
  • Sensual Slavs: Again, Irina.
  • Shirtless Scene: John Rowland
  • Shock Value Relationship: Andrew and Justin.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: The coverof Season Seven's DVD blatantly has Renee standing center stage while all of the main characters are off in the background. Despite the fact that she was only introduced that very season, and was in no way had an important role or was even involved in that season's story arc.
    • Susan was this for the first season, to the point where she could have been the main character.
  • Straight Gay : Bob, in contrast to his Camp Gay boyfriend Lee. In fact, Gabrielle was surprised to find that Bob enjoyed watching football while drinking some beer, and had no idea about fashion.
  • Stepford Smiler: Bree, an apparently OCD woman who probably carries at least half of the "domestic bliss" satire.
    • Lampshaded heavily. Andrew once even referred to her as "running for the Mayor of Stepford".
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Renee, who has an identical personality to Edie, wears similar clothes to her, and lives in the same house.
  • Token Minority: The Applewhite family, eliminated after the audience failed to take to them. To a lesser extent, Gabby and Carlos, though they were there from the start.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Carlos seems to go back and forth on this. For the most part he's an easy going nice guy, but sometimes he will suddenly become a intimidating vindictive ass doing needlessly villainous things, such as firing Lynette when she's the sole supporter of a family of six and pregnant with twins solely because he didn't want to give her maternity leave.
    • Actually, the reason that Carlos put Lynette through hell was because Gabrielle had asked him too(which is shown in a quick scene where Gabrielle admits a bit of guilt for it). The reason why he fires her, is because Lynnette sends her Lawyer to his house
    • His justification is that firing a pregnant woman would be bad PR, so he does increasingly cruel things to force her to leave, finally firing her because she could not complete the impossible task of auditing an entire years finances in less than a day. Overall, this doesn't make that much sense, since this would be pretty solid grounds for suing him for unfair dismissal and harassment, potentially giving the company even worse PR! It's even worse than no-one even points this out!
  • Woman Scorned: Many, many examples, but the prize goes to Carolyn Bigsby, who reacted to her husband's infidelity by taking his supermarket hostage in order to kill him.

     Episode Specific Tropes  
  • Aesop Amnesia: In season five, Tom and Lynette kept going through the same loop—Tom wants to do something wild, Lynette disapproves, Tom whines about how he never gets a chance to do anything, Lynette tries to put a stop to what he is doing, the two reach a compromise, and resolve to be more understanding of each other's wishes...only to go through the exact same situation yet again a few episodes later.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian
  • Alone with the Psycho: Just about every season, such as Lynette with Eddie.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: At Mike's funeral.
  • Amoral Attorney: What Karl is revealed to be.
    • Subverted with Bob who legitimately cares about his clients.
  • And I Must Scream: Orson's mother, who suffered a stroke and no longer is able to move or speak, but still has a fully functioning mind.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: The series finale spliced scenes of Julie's baby being born with Mrs. McKlusky succumbing to cancer.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: "Oh, we had a very busy day. We dropped off the dry cleaning, we deposited money into our Christmas account and then we got circumcised."
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Gabrielle's hilarious imitation of Angie in the hospital to get past the nurse.
    • Also in Season Seven after Gabby calls the imigration cops then changes her mind and pretends to be Carmen and Carman pretends to be Gabby
  • Catfight: Gabrielle vs. a nun, Susan vs. Edie, Gabrielle vs. Edie etc.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Gabrielle tries to bribe a nurse into letting her into a patient's room... with twelve dollars. But then remembers she needs to pay for parking and brings the bribe down to two dollars.
  • Courtroom Antic: Carlos' trial.
  • Dead Man's Chest
  • Death by Irony: Felicia Tillman at the end of season 7, after having used her daughter both alive and dead to get revenge towards Paul Young, is seen driving away towards what appears to be a Karma Houdini conclusion, when her daughter's vase with her ashes is suddenly knocked over in the car, scattering and blinding Felicia's sight. Losing control of the car as a result, Felicia ends up colliding with a truck.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Nora from the end of the second season and throughout the third, a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing whom Tom had a one-night stand with many years ago, resulting in her getting pregnant, and subsequently attempting to ruin his and Lynette's marriage upon her arrival in the show. At the end of the third season she is shot in the chest by Carolyn Bigsby during a hostage situation, and, upon dying from the wound, confess to Lynette that her daughter Kayla was "the only good thing I ever did in my life." She then asks Lynette to take care of Kayla for her before she dies.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse / Murder the Hypotenuse: Often.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Karl.
  • Enfant Terrible: Kayla, Nora's daughter.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: Bree sent her pregnant daughter to a convent and pretended to be pregnant herself. She actually managed to get away with it... for a while. Eventually everyone who mattered found out by the end of the season and Danielle took the baby back between seasons. Note that the use of this trope was a deliberate anachronism; the show is a comedy, after all.
  • Finger Twitching Revival: Subverted. Edie is accidentally electrocuted, falls down, then we get a close up of the Twitching Hand right before the credits. The following episode starts with the character already cremated.
    • Of course, "already cremated" means that there was no body. But it never went anywhere.
  • The Fun in Funeral: Rex's funeral, indescribably wrong and weirdly funny.
  • Gosh Hornet: In Season 2 when Edie winds up disturbing a yellow jackets' nest and is stung pretty badly. Its left up to the audience whether this is dramatic or hilarious.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In-universe, Eddie claims his (awful) stand up comedy routine is "going to kill".
  • Here We Go Again: The ending of the very last episode features a woman moving into Susan's house after she leaves, taking out a box that she looks at with worry before hiding it, clearly implying it containing a secret. And that's where it ends.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Paul Young lampshades this during the Riot, that his entire goal was to prove this point;
    Paul Young: Look at those people over there, those are your friends! What makes you think you're better than a bunch of ex-cons?!
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Victor Lang, Gabby's evil mayor husband, ended up impaled by a white picket fence.
  • Incest Is Relative: In season 5, Lynette pretends to be a teenage girl online to get her son to open up and find out what's going on in his life. ... then she sort of accidentally became his online girlfriend. Much to her shock.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: From "Now I Know, Don't Be Scared" (Season 4, Episode 6): Edie goes to the local IRS office to rat out Carlos for having millions in an offshore account in the Caribbean...until the agent tells her that the account numbers she gave him don't exist.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Mrs. Huber's sister spent season two trying to turn the neighbors against Paul and have him arrested for murder, and repeatedly attempted to kill him. We seem to be intended to feel sorry for him, but it's sort of hard considering he actually is a murderer who had been getting away with everything he did in the past.
    • Technically, Paul was an accomplice to Mary Young's murder of Deirdre. The only person he actually killed was Martha Huber in a fit of passion, after discovering she blackmailed his wife and drove her to commit suicide. While Paul is a murderer, he is far more sympathetic than his victim and spends several years in prison after Felicia Tilman fakes her own murder. When she finally reappears in Series 6, it's clear that she's far more of a monster than he is!
  • Life Imitates Art: In the Series Finale cancer claimed Mrs. McCluskey - as it would Kathryn Joosten (who played her), a few weeks after it aired.
  • Naked in Mink Bree to Orson.
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit and Sexual Roleplay in general.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Lynette organizes a demonstration against the supposedly pedophile swimming coach. It manages to kill his sister thus terminate his only reason to restrain himself.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Nora, when trying to seduce Tom by supporting his idea of enterprise, from Lynette, who was critical about it.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Some of the Stephen Sondheim-inspired idiosyncratic episode titles have only a very weak connection to the episode's plot; others have none at all. Season 4's "Welcome to Kanagawa" was all about the aftermath of a tornado that struck Wisteria Lane, and nothing about characters arriving in Japanese prefectures.
  • Parking Payback: Susan trips the guy who takes her spot, grabs his keys to move his car, then closes the window on his neck when he attempts to stop her. However, it wasn't really just about the parking space; she was pissed off that her fiance and ex-boyfriend made her the prize in a poker game, and thus was not feeling kindly to any men at the time.
  • Room Full of Crazy: The episode "If..." features Gabby having a nightmare where she becomes My Beloved Smother to Celia, causing Carlos to leave her, slowly loose her grip on reality and living off food-stamps in her house with the walls covered in newspaper clippings.
  • Season Finale / Wham Episode: Usually involving a death and/or disaster.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Danielle in Season 3/4.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: Dave, Katherine and Mike go camping in "The Story of Lucy and Jesse".
  • Treehouse of Fun: Lynette's kids briefly have a tree house in their yard for them to hang out in, though its destroyed in a tornado a few episodes later.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: the way we find out Andrew is gay is that he's doing this with his friend Justin.
  • Verbal Tic: Mary Alice has a fondness of constantly beginning a narration with "Yes...".
  • Loving Force/Black Comedy Rape: If you want to have a baby with your ex-husband (and thereby force him back into marriage with you), just drug him and rape him! And make sure you do the reveal with the wife realizing what was done to her husband by his ex by having her use the "R" word in an over the top fashion.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The very last episode ends like this.
  • Whole Costume Reference: One episode opens with Gabrielle wearing Bella Goth's dress.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?
  • Worthless Foreign Degree: A house cleaner teaches Juanita while she's being home schooled. She had a doctorate in engineering from the University of Bucharest.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Kayla attempted this in the last few episodes of season four... and ultimately backfired on her.
  • Yandere: Orson's ex-wife, who was believed to be dead in season three. And of course, George Williams from the first two seasons.
    • Katherine seems to be treading a fine line between this and being a stalker with a crush. As of the ninth episode of the sixth season, she has officially gone over into this.

     Show Wide Tropes 
  • Aborted Arc: Holy hell, a domestic terrorist was killed in a carbomb in Wisteria Lane, the Solis' have suddenly gone on the run and... oh wait, forget all of that, that was yesterday! Lets focus on Susan's problems, which are far more important!
  • Anyone Can Die: Reserved for plot twist moments. While most of the time they only kill off villains and B-characters no one really cares about, every once in a while they'll surprise you by killing off someone important.
  • Arc Words: As of season 8, the note saying I know what you did, it makes me sick, I'm going to tell.
  • Artifact Title: All four leads have been non-housewives at some point on the show (Lynette by virtue of having a paying job, the other three by virtue of not being married).
  • Between My Legs: Seen in the season 7 promo.
  • Book Ends: Mary Alice always voices a remark after the title and before the episode ends, though with the events that occur during the episode, the meaning changes drastically, inadvertently becoming Darker and Edgier.
  • Brother Chuck: Mike's dog Bongo was an important character in the early episodes but has not been seen or mentioned since mid-season 2.
  • Closet Shuffle: Several times every season. But special points go to Gabby from escaping her lover's room by hiding in a very small suitcase.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season 2, which gradually became more melodramatic.
  • Dawson Casting: Inverted, thanks to the Time Skip. Danielle and Julie are now several years older than their still-teenage actresses.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Orson in season 5, though he got back on the rails in season 6.
  • Double Standard: The very different treatment of Paul Young and Mary Alice who are eventually revealed to have committed the exact same crimes. Murderer and kidnapper Mary Alice is remembered with nothing but fondness by the four main female cast while Paul was shunned from very early on.
    • Paul had difficulty with acting as if he didn't have something to hide - he tore out his pool to remove the body of the woman his wife killed in the middle of the night and was dubbed CreePaul by Television Without Pity. Compare that to Mary Alice, who was extremely adept at playing like nothing was wrong.
  • Ephebophile: Gabrielle had an on-again-off-again tryst with her gardener since he was about 17 years old. Thanks to being played by a visibly grown man, it's easy to forget he's supposed to be a teenager.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Most of the guys, but Karl, Carlos, Mike and Danny (for the younger girls) stand out the most.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  • Family Business: The Scavo pizzeria which may finally be dead.
  • Fanservice: There is a very large amount of male-oriented fanservice for a show aimed at women. Eva Longoria Parker, anyone?
  • Follow the Leader: The idea for the series is said to have been inspired by American Beauty. (What's funny is in that movie, the story is told from the husband's POV.)
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The series is downright infamous for the amount of innuendo it has managed to slip right past the ABC censors, to the point where it could very well have its own page.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: To list all examples of both the good and bad adultery on this show would be madness, but Bree enters grey territory.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: A rarity, in that it is both an in universe example, and a real life example. When Carlos and Gabrielle think they'll be found out for Alejandro's murder, they discuss who Juanita and Celia go to if they're arrested. They can't go to Lynette, Susan, or Bree since they were involved in the murder too. Carlos suggests Mrs. Mc Clusky, but Gabrielle responds with "I've got meat in the freezer that will be around longer than her!" Come series finale later that season, Karen Mc Clusky dies from cancer. Then, 20 days after the finale and the death of her character on the show, Katheryn Joosten dies of the exact same thing. Again, Karen died the same season Gaby says she has meat in the freezer that will be around longer than her, and then the actress who played her died 20 days later, less than a year after that episode aired. Yikes. Can you get any harsher?
  • Housewife
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Most of the episode titles are taken from Stephen Sondheim lyrics.
  • Idiot Ball: Susan in "Suspicion Song". After they are finally in the clear for Alejandro's murder, she decides to paint a series of portraits of the event in her art class, which her teacher ends up putting into an art gallery, in plain view of the public. Not your finest moment there...
    • In "Who Can Say What's True", Susan then proceeds to continue this long streak of bad decisions by investigating Alejandro's life by travelling to his home, where she meets his family. Because after covering up a man's murder, it's only natural to want to become acquainted with their kin, right? There is absolutely nothing suspicious or potentially implicating about that?!
  • Karma Houdini: Art Shepard. Lynette suspects he's a pedophile after finding some risque photos of young boys in his basement. This quickly spreads throughout the neighborhood, and they show up to protest at Art's house. The stress induced by the rumors and protests causes Art's sister Rebecca to go into cardiac arrest and ultimately pass away. Lynette feels guilty for jumping to conclusions, and when she apologizes to Art, he pretty much admits to being a pedophile. After that, we never hear from him again, having apparently moved off of Wisteria Lane.
  • Latino Is Brown: Subverted for the sake of a joke. Gabrielle is stopped speeding by a cop and tries to play the race card with the (fair complexioned) officer... but realizes that the name on his uniform reads 'Martinez'. Otherwise the show played this trope totally straight.
  • Lighter and Softer: Season 5 was much lighter in tone than the other seasons.
  • Literary Allusion Title / Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Most episodes are named after titles of or lyrics from Stephen Sondheim songs.
    • "Epiphany", takes the Sondheim allusions even further, as much like in Sweeney Todd, we learn the precise Rage Breaking Point that drove kindhearted Eddie Orlofsky to become a deranged serial killer.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Oh, where do we start? Bree had an affair with Karl, who's divorced from Susan, who's married to Mike, who once dated Edie, who almost got pregnant by Carlos, who's been twice married to Gaby, who had a blind date with Zach, who had a crush on Julie, who got pregnant by Porter...
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Edie attempting suicide over a man.
  • Mistaken Nationality: When interviewing for a fancy prep school, Juanita is revealed to be completely unaware that her family are of Mexican descent.
  • Modern Stasis:Post Time Skip the show is set roughly five years in the future (confirmed in Season 7 dialogue with Bree referencing the events of a 2006 episode as taking place "9 years ago.")
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • With almost every episode ending on a dramatic note, the ending music never fails to be perky. Also see Book Ends.
    • The show often juxtaposes scenes of differing moods (serious, comical, dramatic, emotional, contemplative, surreal, etc.). Many storylines in a single episode start off as one mood and end up in another. It is not uncommon to see one of the housewives get into some sort of extremely humorous antic (sometimes while playing detective), only to reveal deep trauma or a disturbing fact with another character. It is also not uncommon for a sequence of dramatic scenes serving as a set-up for a disastrous...
  • Narrator: Mary Alice.
    • Edie narrates the episode following her own death.
    • Rex Van de Kamp did it first after his own death.
  • Necro Non Sequitur: Many characters' deaths or injuries are like this, where previous scenes set-up the death of the characters. These tend to occur in the middle and the end of a season, and oftentimes storylines intersect with each other to provide the proper circumstances.
  • Never Wake Up A Sleepwalker: Averted. Susan finds Orson standing on her front lawn naked and muttering to himself. Once she figures out he's sleepwalking, she slaps him awake.
  • No Bisexuals: According to the characters on the show, if Katherine admits she's attracted to women, it means she must forsake her attraction to men entirely. It's impossible to like both, apparently.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Every single mother-in-law on the show, without exception.
  • Out of Focus: Bree spends virtually half of season3 on a freakishly long honeymoon.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: The disaster episodes are often quite of a different tone from the rest of the show.
    • In the episode Bang! in Season 3, Carolyn Bigsby snaps and takes the people in a local supermarket hostage. The episode is also peppered with Lynette having recurring dreams of Mary Alice.
    • Season 4 has the episode Something's Coming has a storm coming to Wisteria Lane. This episode provides an example of Necro Non Sequitur
    • Season 5 has City of Fire, where a tragic fire occurs in a club.
    • Season 6 has Boom Crunch, which details how a series of events lead up to a plane crash in Wisteria Lane.
    • Season 7 has Down the Block There's a Riot, where a protest in Wisteria Lane erupts into a riot.
  • Pretty in Mink: A few furs show up, notably the sable coat Bree wore to try to get Rex back. Hilarity Ensues
  • Prison: Three of the four main husbands have done time there.
  • Star-Making Role: For Eva Longoria Parker.
  • Stepford Suburbia
  • Story Arc: Investigation of Mary Alice's past... among other things. The number of subplot arcs in this show can make your head spin.
  • The Adventure Continues: The last scene and ending narration indicate that although the main characters will all eventually leave Wisteria Lane and never really meet again, life there will go on its merry way without them.
  • Time Skip: The fourth season finale.
  • True Love Is Boring: Mike and Susan run afoul of this trope multiple times. Tom and Lynette as well.
  • Twist Ending: The show tries, but over time the twists have became easier and easier to spot, the worst being season 5, when everyone had the whole mystery figured after the first episode. Season 6 finally was able to pull off a surprise when it came to Patrick's demise thanks to red herrings and misleading spoilers.
    • In Season 5, it is explicitly stated from the start that Dave is planning to kill Mike, so the tension of this Season comes from Dramatic Irony, we watch as he gets close to the main characters, always knowing his motive.
  • The Unfair Sex: The females get away with crap that would get them put to death if they were males. Like throwing your spouse out a upstairs window because they caught you trying to con them out of all their money. And no, it never gets mentioned again.
    • When Tom finally stands up to Lynette, he calls her out on her controlling attitude and having the nerve to shoot him down everytime he actually makes a genuine decision for himself, despite her claims that she wants him to become more independent.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What the heck happened to Karl's son?
    • In the finale, when Susan drives out of the neighbourhood while being watched by the ghosts of all the people who died throughout the serie, Edie is missing. This was due to Nicollette Sheridan still refusing to appear on the show because of her previous fall out with the director.
  • Where the Hell Is Fairview? Why, in the "Eagle State", of course. (Common consent seems to be that it is located somewhere around Indiana).
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Trust us, it does not always take very long for the Fridge Logic to set in when you realize how much time has supposedly passed in between episodes, especially with the children's birthdays and ages. For example, Juanita is a year older than MJ, even though the episode where he was born happened before Gabby knew she was pregnant. Then there's Eddie, who seems to be the same age as the Scavo twins yet went to high school with Danielle, who was a teenager when the twins were little kids.
    • The Scavo twins were explicitly stated as being 8 in the season 3 finale. This would mean that they would be 9 at the end of season 4, then 14 at the beginning of season 5, due to the five-year jump. However, Lynette says in the season 5 premiere that they're 16.
  • Zany Scheme: All the housewives like to cook up one quite often - with varying degrees of success...

Dawson's CreekPrime Time SoapDirty Sexy Money
DelocatedTurnOfTheMillennium/Live-Action TVDexter
Dead Like MeDramedyDoc Martin
Designing WomenAmerican SeriesDestination Truth
Dancing with the StarsCreator/ABCDetroit 187

alternative title(s): Desperate Housewives
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
86656
36