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Eastenders is so unlike the actual East End that it may as well be set in Narnia. The real East End has got Hawksmoor churches and fashionable nightclubs and a thriving Bangladeshi community; Walford's just got Keith Miller swabbing windows with a rag on a stick.
Accidental Pervert: Billy Mitchell was hazed on the day before his wedding and found himself wearing nothing but his boxers. He tries to ask a woman for some spare clothes, but then her dog tears off his boxers and she calls the police (even though she could clearly see the dog did it).
Accidental Murder: Two notable examples being the death of Saskia Duncan by Steve Owen using an ash tray to defend himself and more recently the death of Heather Trott by Ben Mitchell using a photo frame. Both examples also involved a cover up
Ethel actually invoked this in one of the show's biggest Tear Jerker moments. Having spent the last three years in a care home away from Walford, she returned in early 2000 solely to be with her East End family when she died.
Badass Family: What the Mitchells believe themselves to be (with the exception of Billy).
And Danielle and Ben.
Ben might not be quite 'badass'. But he's ruthless and heartless.
Even Billy has his moments, occasionally.
Bash Brothers: Phil and Grant Mitchell. When they aren't, you know, trying to kill each other and stuff.
Crapsack World: Crappier than the crappiest crap that a crap did when it took a crap in a bush, in winter! Every week someone is either murdered, having an affair, in trouble with the law, in trouble with the tax man, hurting their children; you would go mad from depression. You wouldn't go near Walford with a ten foot barge pole, with crap on the end!
Dawson Casting: The E20 Gang. Sam Attwater who plays Leon is 24. Poppy, who at a guess is 21/22 is played by Rachel Bright, who is 29 as of June 2013 and Shivani Ghai, who played the 23-24 year old Ayesha was according to reports born in 1975, making her 37/38. Wikipedia however now has her age as a slightly younger 31/32.
Averted with Michelle Ryan, who was 16 when she was cast as the 16-year-old Zoe Slater.
Death Is Cheap Dirty Den, or Grant Mitchell for who it is not so much cheap, as buy one, get one free...
Depending on the Writer: One of the factors some consider part of the show's more surreal evolution is the occasionally extreme swings in characterization. Perhaps some of the best examples are Phil Mitchell or Janine Butcher, who can switch between rough-edged but somewhat humanized Jerk Ass types or completely ruthless borderline psychopaths who will revert to any monsterous tactics for their own self-gain.
Domestic Abuse: Several storylines have focused on this. The early 2000s saw a notable one between "Little Mo" Mitchell and her husband Trevor, which resulted with Mo being sent to jail when she finally tried to defend herself by hitting Trevor over the head with an iron. She's sent to prison for eight years and Trevor begins a new life with another woman, who he also beats, to the point where she's taken to hospital. Eventually he agrees to take back his statement about Mo attempting to kill him if said woman agrees not to take the abuse to the police. In November 2002, Trevor tried to get Little Mo back after she began dating another man where she stood up to him again, berated him and demanded he hit her because she wasn't going to cower to him anymore. He threatens to burn down the house but Mo lights the match instead because "he doesn't have the guts". They struggle, the match is dropped and Trevor burns to death (Little Mo escapes).
Dramatic Irony: Ronnie unwittingly persuading her secret daughter Danielle to have an abortion when she was haunted by the lost of said daughter.
Ben pretty much killing Heather as he lost his temper with her, because he thought she'd told the police when it was actually his own brother who did.
Ethical Slut: Zainab Masood, who considers herself the most pious Muslim woman despite cheating on her first husband (and getting nearly burnt up for the trouble) and getting divorced twice. And the gay son is the bad one in this family?
Even Evil Has Standards: The morally dubious (at best) inhabitants of Walford consider Janine, and before their deaths, Archie, Donna etc. to be repugnant.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Alfie and Spencer's grandma, her first name was Victoria but the entire square called her 'Nana' and she was even listed in the credits as 'Nana Moon'.
Evil Versus Evil: More like evil marries evil. The most evil pair on the square are Janine and Michael so their kid doesn't stand much chance of being sane. Janine could be considered the lesser of the evils.
Janine is a Smug Snake ex-Daddy's Girl who is responsible for the deaths of two of her husbands: she pushed one of a cliff and another had a heart attack after finding out she wasn't the Jew bride he thought. Ex-cocaine addict and a prostitute, which is indirectly responsible for Laura Beale's death. However, she does have several Morality Pet though longstanding examples are Billy, Tiffany and Ricky.
Except from Ben. He seems to blame his Dad for everything. Not to mention Steven Beale, who blamed his Dad for his problems too.
Mind you, considering who Ben's father is (and his abuse at the hands of Stella) he may have a point.
Unless you're Janine, but even she doesn't believe that excuse anymore.
Michael, as described above, seems to use this trope too.
Stella was implied to have an abusive childhood (supposedly stemming from the ambiguous death of her sister), and was enough of a Psychopathic Manchild from the process to believe Ben and Phil were bullying her. Naturally, screaming this excuse at the pitch of her lungs didn't stop Phil from wanting to rip her to shreds.
Invented for Peggy Mitchell, along with "GET OUTTA MOY PAB!" (above)
Pat: You bitch! *slap*
Peggy: You cow! *slap*
Incest Subtext: It's implied that Den has a little too much affection for his "Princess" Sharon. As one of the writers put it, "The love of his life was Sharon. You just had this feeling that he thought he was the only person good enough for her, but she was his daughter. It was a weird relationship."
In Medias Res: The first episode started with Den Watts, Arthur Fowler and Ali Osman breaking into Reg Cox's flat and finding him almost dead.
Interfaith Smoothie: The Ferrera family. Dan is a Christian, Pushpa a Hindu, others in the family have names commonly found in Muslim cultures, and all seem to dip in and out of each other's religious traditions.
Internal Reveal: The show uses this technique for almost all of its major episodes.
Jerkass Has a Point: Derek on Christmas 2012 saying that no one in Walford has any idea about marriage. Said this before dying after a heart attack
While it hardly justifies her psychotic abuse towards Ben as a child, Stella's ramblings to a livid Phil that he himself was a horrible father and that Benwas a monster to her first have some weight considering how things turned out for them long after her suicide.
Karma Houdini: Janine Butcher avoiding punishment for Barry's death. She did almost get sent down for Laura Beale's death wrongly though before Pat changed her mind about testifying in court.
Janine's ability to dodge trouble (legal trouble at least) has been frequently lampshaded, and ensured that (minus about 4 people), everyone despises her openly, leading her to at least suffer several unpleasant (but comparatively insignificant) moments in life to balance things a little.
After Christmas 2010, the fact that she's now a permanent pariah, despised by her family and her husband (who even she acknowledged as her last chance at redemption), who tried to kill her, might be regarded as the Karmic Down-payment.
It has gotten better since Pat's death with Janine being back on somewhat good terms with the rest of her family and can be considered the lesser of two evils in comparison to her newest husband Michael Moon.
London Gangster: "The Firm". Truth in Television in that Barbara Windsor was, at one time, married to Ronnie Knight, an associate of the Kray Twins. Jaime Foreman (Derek Branning) is the son of another Kray associate.
A variation in 2009 when they had an episode with an all-black cast.
Moral Myopia: In spades. Even the most scrupulous members of the Square are usually self-righteous borderline criminals at best. Naturally Lampshading is common in feuds.
Mutually Fictional: In Eastenders, Doctor Who is fictional (Bradley goes to a Doctor Who convention). In the Doctor Who episode "The Impossible Planet", it's vice versa (the Doctor refers to "This is gonna be the best Christmas Walford's ever had!" as an example of Tempting Fate; the Show Within a Show piece with Peggy telling Dirty Den's ghost to get out).
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Phil Mitchell's abusive treatment of his son Ben, who was quiet, intellectual and introverted, thus not a "real man". Eventually this caused Ben to snap under the pressure, attempt to toughen himself up, causing him to get into fights and get sent to juvenile detention facility. He then recieved more flak for coming out as gay. Eventually Ben grew so tired of the abuse he conspired to frame Phil for murder, which was overturned, leading him to accidentally kill Heather in anger.
Not Afraid of You Anymore: A few domestic abuse storylines end in a rather dramatic showdown, perhaps most epically with Little Mo (against Trevor) and Zainab (against Yusef) who both mentally tear apart their monstrous boyfriends to breaking point after being pushed too far. Not to mention said boyfriends both get burned to death shortly afterwards.
Obi-Wan Moment: Yusef, after being tricked by his abused lover Zainab into searching for his daughter in a house he set alight, looks out to see her safe outside, he merely stands still in the burning room, with a small, almost impressed looking smirk before the house collapses around him).
Oh, Crap: Done at least once per episode, usually followed by those closing drums.
Orient Express: Den and Angie Watts spent their honeymoon on the train.
The Other Darrin: Mark, Martin, Sam, Peggy, Steven, Peter, Lucy, Janine, Lauren, Ben, Lucy again)
Todd Carty took over the role of Mark Fowler after the original actor, David Scarboro, committed suicide.
Kim Medcalf replaced Danniella Westbrook as Sam Mitchell, after the latter was involved in a number of drug incidents. When Westbrook got better, she returned and Medcalf was promptly dropped.
In one of the most bizarre examples of this trope, the producers wanted more ethnic characters in the soap... and so replaced Janine Butcher's original actress, Rebecca Michaels (who was White British) with Alexa Demetriou (who was Southern European). She was restored to her former ethnicity when Demetriou was in turn replaced by Charlie Brooks.
Papa Wolf: Dirty Den may be a scumbag, but do NOT fuck with Sharon.
Phil is so angry when he finds out Ben has been abusing Louise, he punches him out.
And goes apeshit when he finds out Ben himself was being abused by his fiancee Stella, pretty much driving her to suicide when he is robbed of the opportunity to just strangle the life out of her.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Roxy and Ronnie Mitchell, respectively. Ronnie has been described as the 'ice to Roxy's fire'.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Yusef Khan's entire tenure on the show can be considered this as almost all of his actions (especially those that directly and indirectly effected Zainab, Masood and their family) are to get back together with Zainab and (if December 2011 is any evidence) attempt to remain with her utilising fear and violence. Ultimately his intimidation tactics proved to be his undoing but briefly it looked as if his money left to Zainab would tear apart the family yet again. However despite all this not only have the Masood family reunited but appear to be stronger then ever.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Spencer Moon was hastily written out after actor Chris Parker attempted suicide. Similarly, the actor playing Gavin Sharp was abruptly axed so Gavin's storyline was wrapped up with a throwaway line of dialogue.
An exit storyline every time an actress falls pregnant.
Jim Branning's stroke was written in due to John Bardon unfortunately having one in real life.
The Ferreira family's exits began when the actor playing Dan, who is an Indian citizen, ran into problems with his permit to work in the UK.
Really Gets Around: Pretty much every female Slater (even Lynne for some reason), Roxy Mitchell, Bianca (but not anymore), Kim Fox (she'd like you to think so anyway), Lauren Branning.
Red Herring: All the major suspects in Lucy Beale's murder started acting suspiciously even before they were told about it.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: played straight with Jack and Michael, the owners of the boxing club and childhood friends - Jack is aggressive and passionate, wears his heart on his sleeve and exudes a serious and intimidating demeanour. On the other hand we have Michael, who is almost constantly calm and collected (even when being beaten to a pulp) and seems to enjoy a good laugh yet remains dead inside, hoarding secrets and lying compulsively as he happily sets he sets his gambits in motion. Accordingly, whilst they both wear black suits, Jack wears orange shirts with the top button undone whilst Michael wears lavender shirts with a tie.
Role Ending Misdemeanor: Notably Leslie Grantham (Den Watts) because of his cybersex scandal, but other actors have been suspended after arrests or drunken misbehaviour.
Daniella Westbrook was axed as Sam Mitchell and replaced after being outed as a cocaine addict. It was eventually subverted; having gotten her act together years later, she was given the role back.
Staircase Tumble: Laura Beale met her demise that way. One second her bosom is heaving and she's yelling "IAN, WAIT!" and the next, Pat is framing Janine because she was bored or something, I don't know.
Tangled Family Tree: The huge Branning-Jackson clan and the Mitchells as well. The fact that Jack Branning has managed to impregnate sisters Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell AND their cousin Sam Mitchell, must make things even worse! Through blood, marriage and adoption, Big Mo and Little Tiffany are related to about 70% of the other characters.
Teen Pregnancy: Loads. Sonia Jackson, Kat Slater, Lucy Beale, Lisa O'Brien and Demi Miller to name but a few.
Michelle Fowler was the Ur Example. The resultant child, Vicki, ended up in the same situation herself, but opted for an abortion.
Television Geography: the London Underground station, Walford Mosque (which has only appeared once) and the speedway track where Rickaaaaaaaay raced in one arc, have all come and gone as locations.
Played with at some length by Alistair McGowan's Big Impression.
there are only three place names in England; Walford, Up West and Manchester (from where no-one ever returns)
no-one ever talks about sport, least of all football; Big Impression had a long sketch in which someone actually tried this in the Queen Vic and was met with blank incomprehension
Dot Cotton announces that she is selling her house for a considerable price and moving to Southend, at which point she discovers that several other characters are, as well
The London Underground: How the Slaters escape Walford. Kat, Zoe, Little Mo and Charlie have all exited Walford (and the show) in this manner.