The Alcoholic: While played for laughs in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the tone becomes serious here, as Lou's drinking problem at times is referenced. At one time, it becomes deadly serious when he is arrested for drunk driving and has to attend a drinking driver's school to get his license back.
Author Filibuster: Many Lou Grant episodes dealt with social issues, but it did not come off nearly as preachy as Quincy.
Badass Grandpa: Lou Grant has four grandchildren, one of whom is deaf.
Downer Ending: Lou and the others did everything they could to help an elderly man preserve the apartment building murals he lovingly dedicated to his deceased wife, but despite getting a court order against demolition, they could not stop the wrecking ball.
From the Ashes: After Lou Grant and all his co-workers are fired from the station in the finale of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou survives and thrives as the city editor of a busy Los Angeles newspaper — and maintains his humanity and integrity throughout the series.
Hanging Judge: Lou Grant is held in contempt of court and thrown in jail when investigating reports of a ruthless judge.
Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Joe and Billie are undercover in a motel room. Joe starts watching porn on the TV. Billie starts making comments about how silly it is, and how none of it is remotely erotic. Then she stops, tilts her head, and says "Now that's erotic."
Hostage Situation: The Trib newsroom was held hostage in the appropriately named episode "Hostages".
Intrepid Reporter: The hallmark of the show. Lou Grant and his reporters braved everything from organized crime to corrupt politicians to natural disasters to bring the news to the people of Los Angeles.
Mythology Gag: The character of Flo Meridith, Mary Richard's Aunt and a very respected newspaper reporter, was the only MTM Show character to appear on Lou Grant. A running gag during the sitcom episodes had Flo making snide remarks to Lou about being in "trivial" television journalism instead of "real" newspaper journalism. On her first of two appearances on the drama, she congratulates Lou on finally returning to his newspaper roots... although she implies the Trib isn't exactly the most respected newspaper around, thereby keeping their friendly feud alive.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Dennis "Animal" Price looks like an unfocused slob, but is an award-winning photographer.
One Name Only: "Animal" Price is virtually always referred to by his nickname.
Police Are Useless: Many of the problems faced in Lou Grant were too complex to be handled by the police, who were often hamstrung by some flaw of the system.
The Seventies: From building interiors, to Animal's attire, to episodes like "Sect", Lou Grant is clearly a creation of the seventies.
Technology Marches On: Averted in one episode in which the computer-using City Room reporters make snide remarks about the one old timer who insists on using a typewriter... just before a city-wide power outage.