Based on a popular W. Bruce Cameron column, 8 Simple Rules is your basic Dom Com where Paul and Cate Hennessy (played by John Ritter and KateySagal) attempt to ride herd on the burgeoning love life of their teenage daughters, bookish Kerry (Amy Davidson) and promiscuous Bridget (Kaley Cuoco). Rounding out the family is son Rory (Martin Spanjers), who is Paul's only other source of testosterone, and thus they bond often.The premise was good and it worked well... until the show was derailed by the death of John Ritter. The resultant Re Tool brought in Cate's cantankerous father Jim (James Garner) and slacker nephew C.J. (David Spade). Because of Ritter's death, the show's name was changed from the quirky Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter to simply Eight Simple Rules. The rating also took a plunge shortly after episodes dealing with Paul's death and it was cancelled within two years.The series lasted from September, 2002 to April, 2005. A total of 76 episodes in 3 seasons.
8 Simple Rules provides examples of the following tropes:
Aesop Amnesia: During the first season, Cate tells Paul not to get his hopes up about the idea of being seen as popular in their daughters' eyes. However, sometime after Ritter's passing, she tries to appear to be "with it" in front of them herself.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Damian. He even has a guitar leitmotif when he appears in a scene. Bridget assumes that everyone can hear it, but it's just in her head.
Kerry losing her virginity to a guy who says he'll call her but doesn't get her number.
A 30-something guy who hits on Bridget at the gym.
A guy who asks Bridget and Kerry out on separate dates.
Rory kissing a random girl to practice for his girlfriend.
C.J. going gaga over a woman with large breasts while dating another woman.
Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Paul is one of the walking definitions of this trope. A lot of episodes shown he's fully aware of this trope and invokes it to have fun with the girls. Cate herself is not immune from this trope either - especially when she teaches Sex Ed in Bridget's class.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Bridget uses this trope as her social image. When a boy calls for her and Rory tells him she can't come to the phone because she's in the bathroom, she flips out.
Bridget: Oh my God! No one can know I use the bathroom! My life is ruined! Damage control, I have to do damage control! (picks up the phone and starts dialing) Paul: No calls, Bridget! Put the phone down! I've got a very important announcement for the whole family. Bridget: Dad, priorities here, okay? If I don't get on this phone in the next ten minutes, people are going to think I actually use the bathroom!
Closet Key: Rory is this for his date. He goes to great lengths to make her fall for him, but fails. However, even she thinks it should have worked, and thus concludes that she must not be into guys at all.
Comically Missing the Point: Rory's class make fun of him for Paul coming into the school wearing slippers. At the end of the episode Rory dumps a box of slippers on Paul's bed - saying kids have been stuffing them in his locker. Paul gets interested in one sheepskin pair.
Couch Gag: Rory's way to taunt the supposed girls' date changed between title sequences in season 1 and during the episodes of season 2 before Paul passed away.
Everyone Loves Blondes: Bridget of course. She gets voted Class President, is able to make men do anything she wants and even is still loved when she has to walk around with a facial mask on. Everyone loves her so much that when she announces herself on the intercom, a faint standing ovation is heard.
Get Out: Paul to Rory after he finds him hiding in Kerry's closet in the pilot. And later, as Kerry needles Bridget after she lied about going to the library. "Kerry! Out!" And a third time after Rory comes up Paul mocking his sisters - "Dad? Do you think I'm pretty?" "Get out!"
In fact, this is something of a running gag with Rory throughout the series.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Bridget writes her feelings towards Mr. Hennessey on a piece of paper as "I hate you." She then says that the original draft was two words.
Gilligan Cut: An episode contains Kerry thinking of working at some food joint at the mall irksome... followed by her doing what she hated thinking about in the next scene.
When Cate is teaching Sex Ed in Bridget's class, she assures her daughter she won't be embarrassed. Cut to the class where Cate finishes off saying "and that is how Bridget was born".
Jerkass: The guy Kerry lost her virginity to. She's been trying to call him back, but he doesn't answer. She asked C.J. to drive her to him. But when C.J. parked just outside the house, Kerry cries and wants to go home.
Laugh Track: Used in every episode, except for the one where Paul dies.
Although a laugh track WAS later added to that episode in syndicated airings. It was kept out of the DVD release, though.
Lawful Stupid: Kerry in "Ditch Day" where she is adamant to going to school and study during ditch day, even when the TEACHERS don't want to be teaching that day.
Madonna-Whore Complex: Initially in season 1. Bookish conservative Kerry is contrasted with outgoing flirty Bridget. It keeps subverting the trope however as Kerry is the first to lose her virginity, by cheating on her boyfriend too. One episode actually has Kerry remark that Paul expects her to be "some old spinster like Miss Havisham" - and she acts like a Whore to annoy him.
The reason C.J. goes by C.J. is implied to be the result of some illegal activity.
Not so Above It All: Kerry speaks about how shallow modelling is when an agent comes around to see Bridget. However the agent says her red hair is fabulous and suggests she try it too - reducing Kerry to a bashful pile of giggles. The Stinger has her acting out the commercial Bridget auditioned for in her room.
Pass the Popcorn: Rory comes in during a middle of a dispute between Bridget and Kerry over Kyle, munching from a bowl of popcorn.
The Punishment Is the Crime: In "Bridget's New Job," Bridget tried to get her parents to agree with this when, after getting a job at a clothing store, she racked up a huge bill for clothes, then paid it off with the emergency credit card given to her by her parents. It didn't work - she was still made to do work around the house to pay off the debt.
Put on a Bus: The majority of the supporting characters were written out after John Ritter's death, since they were largely characters that only shared scenes with Ritter's character.
Also Kaley Cuoco injured her leg during filming of the 3rd season and her injury was subsequently written into several episodes.
Retcon: Cate's parents were still married in season 1 with them both visiting for Thanksgiving and the family staying at their condo in Florida. When Paul died they were suddenly retconned into being divorced for years so Jim could move in with Cate.
Single Woman Seeks Good Man: "Dorky" Donny Doyle, a clean-cut Naval Academy student that Bridget dates shortly. They didn't last long together.
Swear Jar: Parodied - Rory has to put a dollar in a jar each time he mentions his desire to have a pet monkey.
The Tag: While most (though not all) of the episodes with John Ritter had tags, the post-Ritter ones did not. In post-Ritter episodes, the Closing Credits would start in the middle of the final scene.
Take Our Word for It: Kerry's painting is so brave and controversial, that even Paul can't look at it. We don't get to see it. There's also the video where Paul breaks Bridget's nose while playing tennis - we don't get to see that moment either, but it makes the entire family turn away in disgust.
Tempting Fate: When Jim manages to get his driver's license despite not studying the materials properly and acts smug in front of Cate, the following exchange takes place:
Jim: Try to wipe it off.
Cate: (beat) C.J.'s moving back in the basement with you.
The Unfair Sex: Averted: Kerry cheats on Kyle while in France mostly out of lust, and is clearly portrayed as being the faulty party of the two.
Although after its broadcast over the school intercom that she's had sex, he (Kyle) remarks he can't be too mad at her for cheating on him, since everyone thinks he was the one she lost her virginity to.
"Well Done, Dad" Guy: Paul genuinely valued the opinions of his children and wanted to make them proud.