Series / Just Shoot Me!

Just Shoot Me! (1997-2003) was an NBC Work Com about Maya Gallo (Laura San Giacomo), a highly qualified but difficult-to-work-with journalist, who, after alienating one news anchor too many, is forced to take a job with the trashy Cosmopolitan-esque fashion magazine run by her estranged father Jack Gallo (George Segal). Originally focusing on the father-daughter bond, it quickly became a workplace ensemble piece with supporting characters Dennis Finch (the dad's personal assistant, played by David Spade) and Nina Van Horn (an ex-model turned writer for the magazine, played by Wendy Malick) taking over as the main characters of the series.

Notably predated Ugly Betty (as well as Yo soy Betty, la fea) and The Devil Wears Prada with the premise of a non-materialistic woman working for a shallow magazine. It was ultimately canceled due to Executive Meddling and being bounced around the schedule, though it managed to serve up a Grand Finale.

This show provides examples of:

  • Adam Westing/As Himself: Ray Liotta as Kevin's cousin.
    • Mark Hamill shows up as...Mark Hamill. Fanboy Finch drives him nuts with endless questions about the Star Wars movies.
    • Speaking of which, George Lucas is an old friend of Jack's. He ends up punching Finch in the face.
    • "My Dinner with Woody" has Maya date a man who thinks he's Woody Allen. At the end, the real Woody appears by phone call.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Maya repeatedly learned that she was subject to the same foibles as everyone else. Then completely forgot this lesson by the next episode.
  • The Alleged Boss: Jack.
  • All Part of the Show: Maya's murder mystery party. Her neighbor, Professor Gladstone, dies suddenly, and everyone assumes he's an actor playing a character.
  • Benevolent Boss / Pointy-Haired Boss: Jack vacillates between the two. Despite his sometimes being in conflict with his employees, a flashback episode reveals that each of the main characters were hitting Rock Bottom before Jack discovered their talents and hired them and he does care for each of them.
  • Berserk Button: Elliot doesn't react well when you criticize his work.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Subverted with Finch, who happens to be unusually well-endowed, but is such a sicko that no woman will give him the time of day (to the immense relief of his male co-workers).
    Jack: It's a story as old as time. Great product, bad sales department.
  • Bob from Accounting: Early episodes has characters mention Baxter from accounting.
  • Book Dumb: Nina.
  • Breakout Character: Dennis Finch.
    • To a far lesser extent, Nina.
  • British Rockstar:
    • Simon, Nina's boyfriend in the final season.
    • Nigel, who appeared in the season one episode "Nina in the Cantina".
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Everybody in the main cast. Despite all of their quirks, they're very good at their jobs.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Originally defined by his womanizing, Elliot gradually morphs into the show's punching bag.
    • Nina is often the victim of a conspiracy by Elliot and Finch to make a fool of her. Often these attempts backfire and Nina (usually unwittingly) comes out on top.
  • The Casanova: Elliot, but Finch later becomes one too, often at inopportune times.
  • Chekhov's Ashes: In "Bye Bye, Binnie". Nina carries around the urn of her best friend's ashes, acting as if she were still alive. One morning she finds the urn empty and realizes that putting it in the mechanical bull at a bar was maybe not the best idea.
  • Christmas Carolers: In one Christmas episode Nina gets caught in the elevator with some carolers, so she threatens them with a fake gun to get them to shut up. Later in the episode, Jack and Maya decide to take the stairs just to avoid said carolers.
  • Chubby Chaser: One of Maya's dates is stealthily trying to make her gain weight. Once the jig is up, the boyfriend tries to entice Maya with promises of never having to diet again (which humorously causes Maya to rethink it for a second). "OK, fifty pounds and I'll buy the stretch pants!"
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Maya's roommate, Wally, who disappeared after the first seven episodes.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Jack and Simon order a pizza from a place that has to deliver within 4 minutes otherwise they get it for free. Jack bribes the doorman with $100 to stall the delivery guy. So basically he paid $100 for a pizza.
  • Cool Big Sis: Nina would sometimes play this role to Maya and/or Finch.
  • Creator Breakdown: In-universe. In one episode, Maya dates the puppeteer behind a popular children's show. A panda Expy of Maya soon appears and each real-life date is somehow reflected on the show (such as the panda hogging all of the pizza). It gets so out of hand that Maya assaults him on live television.
  • Crossdresser: Nina spends en entire episode fretting about the auction of her famous bikini, which a Japanese businessman wants to turn into a museum piece. At the end, we see the businessman dressed in her bikini while dancing to disco music.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All of the main cast, but Dennis Finch is the primary example.
  • Did You See That Too?? "Dog Day Afternooon":
    Dennis: Is that a dog?
    Nina: Oh, thank God! You see it, too.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Various men around Nina. She does it on purpose.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • All the articles in Blush, which is to be expected of an Expy of Cosmopolitan. This influences to the staff's dialog around the office as well.
    • In "Nina's Birthday", Maya's roommate Wally says he used to stare at Nina's poster every night. "Sometimes twice a night."
  • Don't Look at Me!: Finch says this twice, when he cries over King Lear.
  • Dude, Not Ironic: In "When Nina Met Elliot", after Nina realizes that she was the one who ran Elliot over that day he was going to propose to her girlfriend, the following exchange occurs:
    Nina: You know what's ironic? The same day I ran Elliot down, is the same day I ruined his life forever.
    Maya: That's not ironic, that's what happened!
    Nina: So true.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Dennis Quimby Finch. He lied that it was Eastwood to his wife, and after she knew the truth he still lies about it being "Irish for brave warrior."
  • Erotic Dream: In the first season, Maya has a sex dream about Elliot and he ends up having one about her as well.
  • Expansion Pack Past: Nina. A separate page would be required to list all the examples.
  • Fanservice: The Blush covers that are shown between scenes.
    • Also, the setting is a fashion magazine and often features real-life supermodels as guest stars.
  • Fashion Designer: Dana Carvey played a designer who thought Nina dissed him, but it was Maya who felt his designs were just empty flash. At the end of the episode he tricked her into publicly wearing a design that was Vapor Wear.
  • Fashion Model: Being set in the offices of a fashion magazine, naturally it has fashion models as extras and supporting characters. Most of them serve as Girl of the Week for Elliot or Dennis, although one minor arc had Dennis marry a model (played by real model Rebecca Romijn). One of the main characters, Nina Van Horn, is a former model now working as the magazine's head of fashion.
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot: A lot of episodes were like this. Finch fixes everything, since he's the world's greatest assistant.
  • Friendly Scheming: A prank Maya pulls on Elliot seems to go horribly awry, which turns out to be one massive prank on her orchestrated by Dennis.
  • Formerly Fat: Elliot used to be picked on in high school due to his weight. When he went back for his class reunion, he intended to gloat over how he lost the weight and became a successful photographer for a fashion magazine. They instead picked on him for becoming bald.
  • Fur and Loathing: Parodied a few times.
  • Fur Bikini: Nina wore a leopard skin bikini years before, and is still proud of the accidents the billboards caused.
  • George Washington Slept Here: Jack's country house is next to a cabin where Washington planned the Battle of Yorktown. He tore it down years ago to build a tennis court. Which he doesn't use anymore.
  • The Ghost: Nina's friend Binnie.
  • Glory Days: Nina and Jack sometimes lament their best times.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Subverted. Finch wouldn't get a good angel.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Elliot, in a flashback to his fateful meeting with Jack.
  • Hired for Their Looks: Maya does an experiment for an article in which she sends two people to interview for the same job, one extremely qualified but homely-looking, the other a handsome but dim-witted model. The model gets the job, as Maya predicted, but she also ends up falling in love with him.
  • Hollywood Homely: In-universe, Maya in the first season. Afterwards, the writers realized how foolish an idea this was.
    • Even so, they were still able to get mileage out of the general idea, since Maya is the Wrong Kind Of Pretty in the world of fashion.
  • Hot Librarian: Maya; while she does dress fashionably, she's far more sartorially conservative than the rest of the female cast.
  • How Did That Get in There?: Finch invites a woman over for sex and proceeds to "set the mood with some tunes". Cue "Tomorrow" from Annie, followed by Finch abruptly changing the music to a motivational tape, before finally finding "a stanky groove".
  • How the Character Stole Christmas: Finch, of course.
  • Hypocrite: Maya shills her feminist ideals repeatedly, yet she dates hunks and womanisers, respectively rewarding them for getting by on their looks and objectifying women.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Jack waxes poetic about how people are like snow cones - we're all made of the same stuff, but underneath the syrup, "we're all equally delicious!"
    Elliot: —But blue's the best.
    Jack: [shrug] Well, blue is the best.
    • "I think it's pathetic. Guys bragging about sleeping with models. I mean, you don't hear me bragging and I've slept with hundreds."
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Nina's legendary bikini billboard is reported to have caused many a car pileup.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: The headlines on the cover of Blush are used as transitions.
  • Immune to Drugs: Nina, seemingly.
  • Impossibly Awesome Magic Trick: Nina dated a stage magician who managed to hide tickets inside an unpeeled banana... that Finch brought from home... from across the room. Finch was more squicked out than anything else.
  • Inflation Negation: An episode had a landlady who was apparently so far behind the times that she charged ridiculously low prices for her apartments, resulting in her tenants doing all her shopping for her to prevent her from catching on. At the end, it turned out that she was secretly in on it.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Elliot drives away an advertiser by mistaking him for a Chinese food delivery guy.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Lemon Wacky Hello was the former Trope Namer.
  • I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Finch.
    Jack: So, you've never compared yourself to other guys?
    Finch: Only guys in pornos. I just figured I was... a little bigger than average.
    Elliot: ...You son of a bitch.
  • It's a Costume Party, I Swear!: Maya is tricked into dressing up for Halloween, when no one else was. Nina is wearing a leopard print coat, but forgot it was Halloween.
  • Irony: Mya goes through various clever plans to get Elliot's brother, Donnie, to admit to faking being "slow," all to no avail. But one thirty-second talk with the thick-headed Jack is enough for Donnie to blow his stack and expose the ruse to everyone.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: All of the main cast. They all have some jerkish qualities and snark at each other, but they always look out for one another and come through for each other when push comes to shove.
  • Jerkass: Elliot's brother Donnie who faked having an accident and pretended to be slow when he was 18 so everyone would do everything for him and when he's caught in the act, he ends up scamming Elliot out of $50,000.
  • Kavorka Man: Finch. Elliot, depending on how attractive you consider him to be.
  • Lady Drunk: Nina
  • Leno Device: Finch appears on Jay Leno after falling into a gorilla pen on Secretary's Day. Another time, Ray Liotta, who used to date Maya, appears on Jay Leno several times throughout the episode talking directly to Maya.
  • Let the Past Burn: In-universe example: this is how Dennis' student film The Burning House ends.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Elliot gets this once, when he tries to deny the fact that he and Maya accidentally got married.
  • The Masochism Tango: "You're calling from the cage, aren't you?"
  • Manly Tears: Finch in reaction to King Lear. "Don't look at me!"
  • Massive Multiplayer Scam: When Finch wanted to show Maya how to pull off real pranks.
  • May–December Romance: Jack has a habit of this. Fortunately, he goes after legal aged girls.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Finch's old-fashioned firefighting father concludes that Dennis is gay and makes an embarassing show of acceptance. It's with some discomfort that he realizes that while Dennis is straight, one of his more traditionally masculine brothers isn't.
    • He was even mistaken for lesbian by a gay woman.
    • In one episode, Nina dates a stage magician that everyone (including her) assumes is gay due to his mannerisms. When he finds out, he replies with, "I'm not gay, I'm British!"
  • Mistaken for Racist: Elliot mistakes an Asian-American client for the Chinese food delivery guy. Jack's attempt to set things right backfires when the person he thinks is the returning client actually works for him. To cap it off, Elliot is drinking a Slushie and gets brain freeze. Holding his temples so tightly his eyes slant, he bows back and forth saying "Ah, so cold!" - just as the client returns to be insulted a second time.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Kevin, he has some creepy qualities when it comes to women, but for the most part he's a nice guy with really low self esteem.
  • Mondegreen: Nina and Elliot get into an argument about whether the lyrics of their favourite blues song are "Stone for my pillow" (because the singer is sleeping in the street) or "Slow, foamy killer" (referring to malt liquor). Finch later tries to convince them that it's "Cold armadillo", but he's just messing with them.
  • Mrs. Robinson: Nina often sleeps with men half her age. She is a former supermodel, after all.
  • New Technology Is Evil: In one episode, Elliot buys a digital camera, and mentions its features to anyone within earshot.
    Jack: Is that a new camera?
    Elliot: It sure is. Completely digital. Has an 8000-pixel viewfinder and an 18-bit filter.
    Jack: What does that mean?
    Elliot: I'm not sure, but it sure is shiny.
    • And later:
    Elliot: Check this out. 1,200 by 900 dpi.
    Maya: What does that mean?
    Elliot: You know, it's digital, it's a very complicated process. I don't have time to explain it.
    Maya: You don't know, do you?
    Elliot: You open it up and there's no film, Maya!
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The original pitch for the series was Janeane Garofalo getting stuck in a waiting room with a model with whom she has nothing in common. Garofalo later became the template for Maya's character.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: In one episode, Nina keeps reminiscing about the "magical weekend" she once spent with the lead singer of a famous rock band. When she discovers that she actually slept with the bassist, she is horrified.
  • Noodle Incident:
    Nina Van Horn: Dennis, I need Baxter the intern to run an errand for me.
    Dennis Finch: The last time he did that he ended up in a Mexican prison.
  • Not Even Bothering with an Excuse: Dennis excuses himself from listening to one of Nina's stories with:
    "Oh, I just remembered: You're boring, and my legs work."
  • Not So Above It All: Maya, from falling for a guy based on appearance, to wearing a "Fairy Princess" dress for Halloween.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Elliot's brother Donnie pretended to be mentally disabled since he graduated from high school to avoid responsibility.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: What "Slow" Donnie does.
  • Odd Friendship: Nina and Elliot. Although they snark at each other endlessly, they are fairly similar and tend to enjoy themselves a great deal.
  • Only a Lighter: In a Christmas Episode, Nina scares some carolers by pulling out her pistol lighter. She later gives it to Jack as a present, and it gets him in trouble when he gets caught in an illegal immigration sting.
  • Out with a Bang:
    • Of a sort-Nina sent a man into cardiac arrest by flashing him.
    • Dennis hopes to invoke this when dating a rich octogenarian, but the old lady has so much more stamina than him that he ends up in an ambulance.
  • Paintball Episode: "War and Sleaze".
  • Parental Abandonment: One of Maya's major problems throughout the series is that Jack was a really horrible father when she was growing up and was never ever around. There's quite a few moments throughout the series where Jack lets her down.
  • Parental Substitute: Jack is this for Dennis. There's many moments where Dennis gets upset because Maya or someone else gets attention that he wants.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: An episode has Finch and Elliot giving Nina, who's trying to build up her vocabulary prior to an NPR appearance, a "word-a-day" calendar consisting entirely of these as a prank.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Maya wears one, wearing a pink fairy princess dress, when she thinks everyone else is dressing up for Halloween.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Maya attempts to do this to Finch, but it doesn't work.
    [Maya makes the Puss-In-Boots eyes]
    Finch: [disturbed] Are you gonna throw up?
    Maya: No... this is my "cute" face!
    Finch: If you promise not to do that anymore, I'll help you.
  • Re Tool: A minor tweaking in the final season, including the addition of a new female character, Vicki.
  • Really Gets Around: Nina.
  • Refuge in Audacity: A speech Jack stumbles upon while looking for Maya's boyfriend's puppet show.
    I'm Charlton Heston. Ted Kennedy's car has killed more people than my gun.
  • Repeated Cue, Tardy Response: Dennis forgot to buy Jack's lottery ticket on the one occasion when he actually wins. To cover it up, he doctors a ticket and leaves Jack's office window open, so that the ticket will fly away when Nina opens the door. The cue is Dennis saying "Lucky day", but Nina mistakenly thinks it's Marvin Gaye. Dennis continues on saying "Lucky day" in vain before Nina opens the door because she got tired of waiting.
  • Running Gag: Jack playing around with a new gadget every episode or two and it somehow ending badly.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Jack uses his vast influence to blacklist Elliot, rendering him unable to order a drink at the bar or even hail a cab - all because Elliot wouldn't give up his last cannoli. Elliot at last agrees to fork over the dessert, but not before scrubbing it with his tongue.
  • Sexy Coat Flashing: A model does this to Finch when they are dating.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Jack has a friendly rivalry with Donald Trump.
    • Elliot shares a mutual animosity with Annie Leibowitz.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Maya. Often leading to Hypocritical Humor on her part.
  • Staging an Intervention: For Dennis, who has been dating a woman who keeps humiliating him but he can't get himself to leave her. Nina, who apparently has been in the receiving end of some interventions, is glad to be on the other side of one.
  • Stalker With a Crush: Kevin for Nina
  • Super Senses: Finch has "an ear for certain words"; like "nude", or "g-string". He's capable of hearing them from literally miles away.
  • To Shakespeare: "King Lear Jet" includes parodies of lines from Hamlet and Richard III as well as a Whole Plot Reference to King Lear.
  • Theme Tune
  • The Reliable One: Dennis Finch. No matter what happens during the episode, he can fix it. There's a reason he's been Jack's right hand man for as long as he has.
  • Threeway Sex: In one episode Maya and a lesbian model get revenge on Finch, who tried to hook them up, by pretending they're willing to have a threesome with him but only if he completes an insane list of impossible tasks before sundown. Throughout the day, Finch is able to get anything he wants from fellow men simply by mentioning that it will help him in this goal (a mounted policeman even gives him a ride on his horse). After he fails miserably, the crowd of men waiting to know if he had succeeded (where they all failed apparently) is disappointed when he shrugs and says no… cue a Slow Clap moment for his effort.
  • Transsexual: Dennis' childhood friend Bert who moved to Colorado when they were 12 came back into Dennis' life as an adult in Season 5 named Brandi and was played by Jenny McCarthy. Dennis found it difficult at first to accept them but after talking to Maya, it was like old times. Until Dennis tried to make a move and Brandi makes it clear that they're Like Brother and Sister. Dennis wasn't sure at first how to handle the attraction, but he accepted how he felt.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Finch, who was married to Adrienne Barker (played by Rebecca Romijn) at the end of Season 3, and they divorced early Season 4 when it turned out they had nothing in common.
  • Unwanted Gift Plot: In one episode, Finch has to try to get rid of a handmade vase Jack gave him. Knocking it over by "accident" fails to work, it's just that strong.
  • Vitriolic Co-Workers: All of the main cast is this. Despite their tendency to snark at one another endlessly, they often help one another out.
  • Welcome Episode: The pilot, in which Maya joins Blush.
  • While You Were in Diapers: Nina tries this on a younger model, but the model wasn't even born then, and Nina freaks out.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
    • A Christmas episode had Dennis fulfilling the role of The Grinch.
    • Another episode had Jack as King Lear, with Maya as Cordelia, and Elliot and Nina as Goneril and Regan.
  • Will They or Won't They?:
    • Elliot and Maya for a few seasons. Before the writers realized no one cared, and a romance didn't gel with the Comedic Sociopathy of the show. As such, Elliot promptly has a panic attack as soon as he proposes to Maya, and that's the end of that.
    • Finch and Nina for one episode.