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Series: Mad Men

"Advertising is based on one thing: Happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car... It's freedom from fear. It's a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance that whatever you're doing is okay... You are okay."
Don Draper

Mad Men is an American period drama involving an advertising firm on Madison Avenue, New York City, during the 1960s. The show explores the changing American landscape through the eyes of Sterling-Cooper Advertising and the world of advertising at the dawn of the decade that would change America forever.

The series, while an ensemble, focuses mainly on Don Draper (Jon Hamm), a charming rogue of an ad executive with major personal problems: mainly the fact that he can't keep his dick in his pants, as well as his Dark and Troubled Past.

As the show progresses through the 1960s, many seasons are tied to milestone events: Season one culminated in the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy, season two took place during 1962 and ended with the Cuban Missile Crisis, and season three ran through 1963 and featured the JFK assassination in its penultimate episode. Season Four (1964-65) breaks this pattern, though much of it centers around the Vietnam War; Season 5 (1966-67) continues to deal with Vietnam; and Season 6 (1968) is highly chaotic (just like the year). The first half of Season 7 begins with Nixon's inauguration in January 1969 and ends with man's first moonwalk later in July.

The series is the brainchild of showrunner Matthew Weiner, at one point Number Two man on The Sopranos. Weiner originally pitched to HBO—with whom he had a working relationship, after all—but they turned it down. He then turned to AMC, which has run with the ball as far as Mad Men being to AMC as The Shield is to FX Network. The series has received much critical acclaim and positive press, even though most critics tend to downplay the show's deconstruction of the entire idea of the innocent, ideal "good old days" of America's past (and up-play Christina Hendricks' considerable advertising assets...).

The show premiered on July 19, 2007 and has received fifteen Emmys and four Golden Globes. The seventh season is the final one; however, after the success they had with splitting Breaking Bad's last season, AMC has elected to do the same with Mad Men. The first half of Season 7 aired in spring 2014, and the second half will air in 2015.

A character sheet and recap page are currently under construction, show them some love.

This series contains examples of:

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    A - C 
  • Aborted Arc: The first episode where we really get to meet Betty introduces her suffering some kind of affliction which causes her to lose control of her hands, serious enough that she wound up in a driving accident. Though immediately after she starts going to a psychiatrist this is dropped, being shrugged off as psychosomatic and never shown or referenced to again.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Don's father, physically.
    • Betty during her particularly rageful periods in season 4 and 5, emotionally and physically, having hit Sally for cutting her hair and implying she does it often and it "doesn't do any good". She's calmed down quite a bit in season 6.
    • Don's frequent lapses when it comes to taking care of his kids is sometimes interpreted as a mild form of emotional neglect; however, his very real goodwill towards them seems to indicate that he just doesn't know how to be a father properly. He eventually laids bare where his Parental Neglect stems from.
      Don: I don't think I ever wanted to be the man who loves children. But from the moment they're born, that baby comes out and you act proud and excited and hand out cigars but you don't feel anything. Especially if you had a difficult childhood. You want to love them, but you don't. And the fact that you're faking that feeling makes you wonder if your own father had the same problem. Then one day they get older, and you see them do something and you feel that feeling that you were pretending to have. And it feels like your heart is going to explode
    • Lane's father, who strikes Lane—a grown-ass man—with a goddamn cane.
  • Adorkable: Abe Drexler in Season 4. He's so cool when he first meets Peggy... then he's reduced to nervous stammering when he's on her turf.
  • Adult Fear: In season 6, Sally is left alone with her two young brothers all night. An intruder comes into the house trying to manipulate her, and she doesn't know what to do.
  • Age Cut: Done in reverse several times. In "Babylon", Don is flat on his back after tripping and falling on the stairs. We cut to little Dick Whitman in the same position, letting us know we're in a flashback.
  • The Alcoholic:
    • Duck Phillips, who had been sober until "Maidenform" and proceeds to go spectacularly Off The Wagon.
    • Freddy Rumsen, who joined AA and seems to have sobered up.
    • Roger Sterling, who can drink the table under the table. When schmoozing clients, though, he's careful not to be the drunkest guy in the room; he casually reveals to Lane in Season 5 that he only ever drinks about half of any drink he orders when he's out with a client before ordering another.
    • Don teeters on the edge of this in Season 4. And in Season 6, when he's drinking in the morning and vomiting in public, he seems to have completed the transition.
  • The Alleged Car:
    • SCDP got the account for the GM XP-887 prelaunch campaign; in production form this car would be called Chevrolet Vega, one of the all-time infamous American alleged cars.
    • The Jaguar is also one, which becomes a factor in Lane's first bungled suicide attempt.
  • All Asians Look Alike: Or so thinks a drunk GI talking to Don in Season 6 premiere "The Doorway".
  • All Just a Dream: In "Mystery Date" Don has one hell of a fever dream in which he strangles an old flame to death and then kicks her body under his bed. It's meant to be symbolic of how he wants to kill the philandering part of himself, but damn, it's chilling.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Justified for the era, as this was before Freudian psychology became obselete, and it was considered radical to use any other form of therapy.
  • All There in the Manual: Each episode has multiple commentaries on the DVDs, which have writers, directors, actors, and even sound guys talking about the decisions they made and what everything means.
  • Alter Kocker: Michael Ginsberg's father. For bonus points, Michael actually calls him this (actually, he calls two old Jewish men this in one breath—his dad and his dad's chess partner, who collaborate to set their children up).
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Almost every important member of SCDP has a direct CGC counterpart, sometimes with a physical resemblance. This creates some confussion when they merge.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Megan's parents, Dr. and Mrs. Calvet. Dr. Calvet is a leftist—probably Communist—who might have trouble with English (or might just be pretending to as part of his elaborate scheme to prove his utter disdain for American capitalism). Mrs. Calvet is nice, doting on her daughter (to an almost ridiculous degree), but also sucks off Roger Sterling at the American Cancer Society ceremony held for Don. And Sally sees them.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Bert Cooper. It is never made clear whether he is willing to follow up on the threats he makes or if he really had his old doctor killed, a doctor who surgically removed Bert's testicles accidentally.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Harry Crane gives off vibes of this. On at least two separate occasions he's talked about how a different character is "queer". His crass jokes about what he'd do to Megan reek of Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?. And in "Tea Leaves" he talks about how good Charlton Heston looks naked.
    • And then there's Joey's reaction to Harry's attempts to befriend him by telling him he could get him on Peyton Place:
    Joey: "Everyplace I've worked, there's always some old fairy who comes on to me, but that was the weirdest by far."
    • Assuming he is somewhere in that range, he's probably bi; he had a drunken one-night stand with Hildy (Pete Campbell's secretary) in "Nixon v. Kennedy" which clearly wasn't just him trying to find a beard.
    • The writer/artist pair Draper interviews in "For Those Who Think Young" have a very slight gay vibe, seeming like a couple who work together.
  • Ambiguously Jewish:
    Betty: You... people are ugly and crude.
    Jimmy Barrett: What "people?" You mean comedians?!
    • Joan's doctor husband's last name is Harris, which (like Miller and Siegel) is sometimes but not always a Jewish name; Joan says he's not Jewish, but Roger thinks he "used to be."
    • Dr. Faye Miller
  • American Accents: Oddly enough, mostly not really there; most characters seem to have fairly "neutral" accents. That said:
    • Peggy's mother and sister have old-school Brooklyn squawks, with her mother in particular always going on about "Thuh Howly Fauwthuh". Peggy's very neutral accent sticks out in her family and may be the result of her suppressing something more regional.
    • Ginsburg's accent is very much old-school "New York Jewish." He even says to Don, "It's a regional accent. Everyone has one. Even you." (or words to that effect).
    • One of Kinsey's old school friends tells Peggy about how Kinsey—who went to Princeton on scholarship—used to have a ridiculously thick "Joisey" accent. He's suppressing it, of course.
    • Betty's dad Gene Hofstadt has a very recognizable Philly accent.
    • Lee Garner, Jr. of course has an old-style Dixie accent.
    • Of note is Don's own very neutral, all-American accent, which for him is his regional accent: born in rural Illinois and raised there until the age of ten, that really is how people spoke out there back then. (It also matches Jon Hamm's background; he's from St. Louis, which has a similar accent.)
  • Anachronism Stew: Has its own page.
  • And Starring: John Slattery (starting in Season 2).
  • Animated Credits Opening
  • Anvilicious: Paul's Star Trek script, "The Negron Complex," is an in-universe example. According to Harry, it involves aliens called the Negrons oppressed by a race called the Caucasons. The twist is that the Negrons are white.
  • Arc Words: This never happened. In Season 4 Don's secretary challenges him with "this actually happened" when he dismisses the issue of them sleeping together as unimportant. It does not go down well.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "You're fired for costing this company millions of pounds, you're fired for insubordination, you're fired for lack of character!!!"
  • Asbestos-Free Cereal: When marketing tobacco products on health grounds is banned, everyone is flummoxed about how to advertise. Don realizes: they can advertise any way they want as long as whatever they say is technically true and more or less meaningless.
    Lucky Strike: It's toasted! (So is the tobacco in all other cigarettes...but that doesn't matter)
  • Backstory: Don's past is explored via flashbacks regularly.
  • Badass Decay: Don mellows out and loses some of his mojo. Peggy references it in-universe in Season 5 premiere "A Little Kiss".
    Peggy: "I don't recognize that man. He's kind and he's patient...It concerns me."
  • Badass Grandpa: Robert Pryce. It comes as quite a shock when it happens.
  • Badass Israeli: Referenced in an episode where executives of the company try to learn about Israel while considering how to pitch it as a tourist destination. All they can figure out on their own is that the women are attractive and have machine guns. When asked for her opinion on Israelis, a New York Jew can only advise Don Draper not to cross them.
  • Bad Bad Acting:
    • The SC crew act out Paul Kinsey's play in Season 1's penultimate episode, "Nixon vs. Kennedy".
    • Also, Don and Megan impress the representative for Cool Whip by acting out their pitch for him, so much so that he asks them to do it again for the Head of Dessert. Except that by the time they meet with him, Megan has quit, so Peggy subs in for her. The result is this trope.
  • The Barnum: Madison Avenue and the ad industry in general; specific examples would be Roger, Don, and Pete.
  • Batman Gambit: Several. With a master manipulator like Don in the mix, plus a few others, how can it not have these?
    • One particularly crucial one: In "A Night to Remember" (Season 2, Episode 8), Don and Duck have a disagreement about how to market Heineken. Duck—along with the clients themselves—just want to increase the brand's bar exposure. But Don has the idea to do some Up Marketing: play on the "imported from Holland" angle and set it off as "better" than other beer, to be presented to well-off, educated housewives as something to serve at parties (like wine), rather than hide in the garage like the cold ones her husband drinks. To prove his point, Don makes sure the store that Betty (who is definitely part of the target demographic) shops at is part of the test market, and invites Duck along to dinner at his place (along with the Sterlings and some other friends). Sure enough, when Betty is running through her "tour-of-the-world" selection of courses, she presents the Heineken "from Holland" as an alternative to the French wine also on offer. Everyone laughs heartily...except for Betty, who resents being used as a guinea pig. As a result, although the plan works perfectly from a business perspective (they even consider using Betty's menu verbatim), it's a catastrophe for Don personally: it leads to Don being Exiled to the Couch for the first time.
    • Don runs a Kansas City Shuffle against Chaough's firm CGC in "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword." When Honda's visit to SCDP is ruined by Roger's obnoxious, racist, and obnoxiously racist behavior towards their executives, Don realizes he has no chance of winning, and probably no chance to resign. He does not, however, want to give CGC another "win". So he proceeds to give every indication SCDP will make a really high-quality but budget-busting spec ad for Honda (which was against the rules, and which Chaough would recognize as the kind of gambit Don would run) in order to get CGC to actually make a high-quality but budget-busting spec ad, then resigns the account when asked to meet with the Honda execs (who had seen and liked CGC's spec ad), saying that since they had broken their rules, he could not honorably do business with them. Honda decides in the end to remain for the moment at Grey, but allowed SCDP to bid to develop the advertising for their new automotive division.
    • In Season 7A finale "Waterloo", Roger cuts off Jim Cutler's power play by selling SC&P to McCann.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Nobody hired Bob Benson. He kept showing up at the office after having an interview with Ken and acted like he was an employee until everybody assumed that someone else hired him.
  • Be a Whore to Get Your Man:
    • Peggy finally gets Chaough to sleep with her by dressing in revealing clothing and claiming that she has a date with another man.
    • This is Megan's mother's advice to her daughter about how to repair the relationship with an increasingly distant Don.
  • The Beard:
    • Sal's wife. The scene where Sal gets a little too enthusiastic about the choreography in a commercial, and his wife figures this out, is pretty funny.
    • Bob Benson flirts with Joan in hopes of making her one. When he suddenly proposes to her in "The Strategy", she tells him that she is aware of his sexuality and that if she marries again, it will be with someone she loves.
  • The Beatles: Sally is a fan. Don gets her Beatles 45s for Christmas 1964 and later gets her tickets to the Aug. 15, 1965 concert at Shea Stadium. Sally promptly starts screaming hysterically in joy. Later, Megan brings Don a copy of Revolver and gets him to listen to "Tomorrow Never Knows". In that episode people at SCDP talk about how expensive it is to license a Beatles song. (Reportedly AMC spent $250,000 to play "Tomorrow Never Knows".)
  • Beatnik: Midge and her circle of friends. Paul Kinsey is kind of a wannabe.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Don meets the lovely Joy and her friends in season 2's "The Jet Set," and they memorably whisk Don off to their palatial house in Palm Springs. Don's beautiful enough that he's invited to join the club, but he declines.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted in "The Quality of Mercy", when Ken gets shot in the face by the Chevy execs. He survives, but is forced to wear an eyepatch and gets some rather nasty looking scars.
  • Benevolent Boss: Ted Chaough. He treats Peggy with far more respect than Don ever did and is genuinely upset to learn that one of his partners has cancer.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Peggy hates it when people imply that she became a copywriter by sleeping with Don.
    • Don't expect Roger to react rationally around the Japanese
    • Don when Megan locks him out of their apartment after the disastrous trip to Howard Johnson's in "Far Away Places."
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Roger finds out the hard way that making fun of Danny Siegel's height is a bad idea.
  • Big Applesauce: The show makes frequent use of its setting and NYC's history. Pete Campbell's New York blue blood ancestry gets him an apartment. The destruction of the old Penn Station in 1963 to make way for Madison Square Garden (which opened five years later) is a plot point in an episode, and SCDP moves into offices in the then-new Time-Life Building. Lane Pryce has a New York Mets pennant in his office (the baseball team began play in 1962) along with other New York-related tchotchkes (he has the love of being a New Yorker only an immigrant can have). When Peggy is apartment-hunting, the agent notes that the value will increase dramatically when the Second Avenue Subway is finished...something only New Yorkers would realize is a joke (the SAS currently has an estimated opening date of 2016. You heard us.)
  • Big "WHAT?!": Lane Pryce upon hearing of the Kennedy assassination.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Pete Campbell's nickname for Trudy is "Tweety." OK, that's nice and cutesy. Then you realize that Trudy's maiden name, Vogel, is German for "bird"...
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition:
    • Betty's father, Eugene, dies in one episode; the next, she gives birth to a son. She names him Eugene.
    • In 4x11, David Montgomery dies and Pete Campbell's daughter is born.
  • Black Bra And Panties: Megan in "A Little Kiss"—to clean house, oddly enough, although it turns into something different.
  • Black Comedy:
    • On occasion and most definitely in "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency".
    • Anything having to do with Miss Blankenship in "The Beautiful Girls".
    • Lane's attempt to use his new Jaguar as an instrument of suicide in "Commissions and Fees" is possibly one of the most exquisite examples of black comedy ever put on television, incorporating Brick Jokes, riffs on Lane's characteristic stoicism, and just general good acting to produce a scene where you can't help but laugh and then feel very guilty about laughing because what's happening is so horrifying.
  • Blackface / Uncle Tomfoolery: Holy Deliberate Values Dissonance Batman, Roger Sterling's singing while in blackface! Pete is shown to disapprove of this as one of his socially conscious, forward-thinking moments, but Don is the only other person who seems bothered by it, and that's almost certainly just because Roger's acting like a moron.
  • Blackmail: Pete's intent when he learns about Don's past; of course, this backfires as Bert Cooper makes it clear he doesn't give a damn. Cooper later uses this secret to force Don to sign a contract.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Betty (blonde), Peggy (brunette), and Joan (redhead). As illustrated by this Rolling Stone cover with Tall, Dark and Handsome Don Draper. "The Beautiful Girls" ends with a shot of Joan (redhead), Peggy (brunette), and Faye (blonde) in the elevator together. It's very symbolic.
  • Bloody Hilarious: The lawnmower incident.
  • Book Ends: "The Quality of Mercy" opens with Don sleeping in a fetal position on Sally's bed after having ruined his relationship with her in the previous episode. It ends with Don curled up in a fetal position on his office's couch after ruining his relationship with Peggy.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Don doesn't really get the concept of "Safe, Sane and Consensual" with Bobbi Barrett. In contrast, most of the sex he's shown having that doesn't involve kink is seen as "good".
    • Further supported by Don having Candace, the hooker he begins seeing regularly after the divorce, slap him repeatedly in bed. It's depicted as one of Don's darkest and least glamorous sexual encounters.
    • In "Mad With a Plan" Don makes Sylvia follow his rules after isolating her in a hotel room. It gets off to a good start, but ends with him getting dumped.
  • Bottle Episode: "The Suitcase," which mostly focuses on Don and Peggy becoming more intimate while pulling an all-nighter to come up with a commercial for Samsonite.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Paul Kinsey. He even dates a black woman in part for the shock value, and lives in Montclair before it became suburban and long before Hoboken became Hipsterville.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Roger's daughter Margaret in earlier seasons and played with Sally in Season 5. By Season 6 Sally, who is about 13 and smarting off to Betty, has fully become this trope.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Betty and, initially, Peggy.
    • If Sally catching her father banging his mistress hasn't broken her yet, nothing will.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Joan. See Character Development for the full version, but believe us, she's the preeminent example.
    • Pete pretty much gets this when he's fired and rehired in the first season, and spends the rest of the show trying to catch up to where he thought he was.
    • Roger in season one, and then periodically throughout the series. In Season 5, he seems to make peace with being the "professor emeritus" of Accounts, and acts as a mentor to junior account exec Cosgrove.
    • Season Four did quite a number on Don Draper.
    • Season Five does one on Lane Pryce, though it starts with his father's treatment in S4's "Hands and Knees".
    • Season Seven starts this way for Don as his actions at the end of Season Six torpedoed his career at SCDP and trying to get things back on track ends up being a long Humiliation Conga for him. Previously, no matter how bad his personal life got he could always just focus on his work but now even that has been taken from him.
  • Brick Joke: In "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword", Roger makes an obscure reference to a Dr. Lyle Evans, and Bert promptly tells him to shut up. Two episodes later, we find out that Bert, in the middle of his sexual prime, got his testicles removed in an 'unnecessary' procedure performed by one Dr. Lyle Evans years back.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Courtesy of Don and Roger, toying with All Germans Are Nazis:"Did you enjoy the Führer's birthday? May he live for thousand years"
  • British Brevity: Seasons usually have about 13 episodes.
  • Bungled Suicide: In "Commissions and Fees", this is subverted. Although Lane's attempt to use his Jaguar to asphyxiate himself fails, it is revealed at the end of the episode that he successfully hanged himself.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Bert Cooper.
  • The Bus Came Back / Long Bus Trip: Many characters pop up again after long absences.
    • Smitty Smith resurfaces at a rival ad agency in "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword".
    • Rachel Menken popped up in one episode after her affair with Don ended to let the viewers know she got married.
    • A drunk-off-his-ass Duck Phillips heckles the Cleo host in "Waldorf Stories" and makes an ass out of himself to Peggy in "The Suitcase". He shows up again sober and working as a headhunter is Season 6.
    • Freddy Rumsen (rehabbed and sober) returned to join SCDP two seasons after he was loaded into a taxi and shoved off for being a hopeless drunk. Then in Season 7A he pops up again as Don's unofficial AA sponsor.
    • Midge, Don's Bohemian lover in the beginning of the first season, shows up in Season Four's "Blowing Smoke" after encountering him outside his office. She's fallen on hard times.
    • Nearly two seasons after the SCDP mutineers did not take him along at the end of Season 3, Paul Kinsey pops up in "Christmas Waltz". He's a Hare Krishna and a wannabe writer for Star Trek.
    • Burt Peterson, Sterling Cooper's former head of accounts, whom Roger Sterling fired in Season 3, reappears working for Cutler Gleason and Chaough in Season 6. When SCDP and CGC merge, Roger took great pleasure in firing him again posthaste.
    • Danny Siegel, the nerdy copywriter and in-law of Roger Sterling, pops up at a Hollywood party in Season 6's "A Tale of Two Cities" looking very California and apparently now in the movie business.
    • Jim Hobart from McCann, who tries to lure Don away from Sterling Cooper in Season 1 episode "Shoot", appears again six seasons later, and proves crucial to the resolution of Season 7A.
  • But Not Too Gay: Sal, the only major gay character (on a show where the straight characters are seen banging each other all the time and in various combinations), is deeply closeted due to the time and place the show is set, so his gay love life mostly consists of resisting the advances of other gay/bi men or unrequited crushes on straight men.
    • Bob Benson in Season 6.
  • Butt Monkey:
    • Pete in season 1. Harry Crane most of the time, and Paul Kinsey in Season Three.
    • Lane Pryce's bosses at PPL treat him this way in Season 3. He takes his revenge in the season finale.
  • Buxom Is Better: "Can I see them?", says a loathesome pig Jaguar dealer to busty Joan in "The Other Woman".
  • Call Back / Continuity Nod : There are numerous subtle touches that make reference to previous events and imagery from previous episodes:
    • Pete's gun from "Red in the Face" reappears occasionally throughout the series, as if solely to remind the viewer that he still has it.
    • In "A Night to Remember," while searching for evidence of Don's philandering, Betty rummages through his desk and stumbles upon several miscellaneous items - most prominently shown of these are a scrap of paper with his tag line for Right Guard from "Ladies Room" and the Valentine's Day card he got from Sally in "For Those Who Think Young." Additionally, Matt Weiner states in his audio commentary that the camera framing of when Don returns home for the last time is meant to be evocative of the ending of "The Wheel" (the season 1 finale), which is in and of itself a Call Back to the ending of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (the pilot episode).
    • At one point in "Six Month Leave," Jane presents Don with a bag containing new dress shirts that she bought for him. Attentive viewers will note from the bag that she went shopping at Menken's, alluding to the events of Season 1. Also, Don identifies himself to the bouncer at the casino with the name Tilden Katz - Rachel Menken's husband, who was briefly seen in "The New Girl."
    • Word of God states that the scene of Don and the Betty look-alike in "The Jet Set" is meant to be reminiscent of Don seeing Betty coming down the stairs at the hotel in "For Those Who Think Young."
    • After getting fired in "Wee Small Hours," Sal is seen leafing through a stack of artwork he's done for Sterling Cooper, all of which comes from previous episodes in the series.
    • In "The Suitcase" when Don places his hand on Peggy's. In the pilot she placed her hand on his and he responded angrily "I'm not your boyfriend; I'm your boss."
    • In "The Rejected", Allison pointedly says to Don "this actually happened", as a reference to the Arc Words "this never happened".
    • In season one's "New Amsterdam," Roger mentions that "more guys have gotten jobs" because of alcoholism than anything else. Don quips "that's how I got in". In season four's "Waldorf Stories", we get to see how Don got his job at Sterling-Cooper - he got Roger drunk enough to forget whether or not he'd really offered Don a job.
    • Three seasons after Dr. Greg raped her in "The Mountain King", Joan finally acknowledges what happened in "Mystery Date" (see "The Reason You Suck" Speech below).
    • In season 1's "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", Don takes a nap on a couch, time passes by, and he's woken later by secretary Peggy. In season 5's "Far Away Places", Peggy takes a nap on a couch, time passes by, and she's woken later by secretary Dawn.
    • "Christmas Waltz" is rife with these, both explicit and implied:
      • The woman Don quotes as saying "I like being bad and going home and being good" is season 2's Bobbie Barrett.
      • While talking to Joan in the bar, Don makes a reference to Burt Peterson, The Ghost from seasons 1 and 2.
      • This episode answers Joan's speculation from season 1's "5G" as to why Don always ignored her - "You scared the shit out of me."
      • Megan waiting at home for Don is reminiscent of scenes of Betty in earlier seasons brooding at home alone with a glass of wine while waiting for Don.
    • In "The Phantom" Lane's widow finds the picture of the girl he flirted on the phone with that he kept in his wallet from "A Little Kiss", in the beginning of the season.
    • Season 6 premiere "The Doorway" has the Drapers showing off their Hawaiian vacation pictures with a Kodak Carousel, a callback to Season 1 finale "The Wheel". And The Reveal of Don's new girlfriend at the end of that episode is highly reminiscent of the reveal at the end of the pilot that he's married with a family.
    • When Don is in the doldrums and drinking in a seedy bar after a failed attempt to reconcile with Sally in "In Care Of," Don Cherry's "Band Of Gold," the first song that played in the series premiere, is heard in the background to remind how far down America and Don's life has taken a tumble since the start of the decade.
  • Call Forward: A staple of the show. References are frequently made toward future real-life events.
    • In one of the first, there's a discussion of the virtues of one of the 1960 presidential candidates, describing him as a "young, handsome, Navy hero." Most of the audience think they're talking about John F. Kennedy — then it's revealed they're actually discussing Richard Nixon. This being Corporate America, they're all Republicans.
    • Roger's daughter has her wedding scheduled for November 23, 1963.
    • In "Six Month Leave," Don, Roger and Freddy Rumsen go to a casino, whereupon Freddy notices "the champ" being in attendance. Roger replies, "For another couple of months." The three are forced to leave after Don sucker-punches Jimmy Barrett, knocking him to the floor with a single blow. Upon getting up, Jimmy asks the champ, "Hey Floyd. How'd I do?" The Floyd in question is Floyd Patterson. The irony of this is that the episode takes place in August 1962: Patterson's next two fights, in September 1962 and July 1963, were both brutal first-round knockout losses to Sonny Liston.
    • The clueless call forwards to Vietnam are possibly the saddest, for instance with Joan's husband Greg deciding to become an Army surgeon and citing that he'll have job security in years to come, especially if this Vietnam thing is "still going on." Don, writing in his journal, hopes that Vietnam won't become another Korea.
    • Joan's speech in "The Summer Man" to Rizzo, Bill, and Joey telling them that when they're over in Vietnam next year, and they're being shot at and dying, they'll beg for someone (i.e. her) to make their lives easier.
    • In Season 4 SCDP added Honda cars to their portfolio, a "motorcycle with doors" in 1965 which is now a full-line marque with a high reputation and little dependence on low-profit fleet sales. Contrast that to the agency's "jewel in the crown" Lucky Strike: in 1960 a market leader and one of the best-known brands in the country, in 2010 a ghost brand in a product segment over 80% of the population wants nothing to do with.
    • There is a Call Forward Running Gag in Season 2 about Martinson Coffee and their concern that young people aren't going to drink coffee in the future.
    • In "The Flood" this is mixed with Historical In-Joke when Peggy's realtor promises her that the Second Avenue Subway would increase the value of the apartment she was trying to buy. At the date the episode is set in (April 1968), the Second Avenue Subway had already been in the planning stage for nearly 40 years, and when "The Flood" aired 45 years later (April 2013), the SAS still was not finished, 84 years after it was first approved. (Construction started in 2007 and the first phase of the line, 96th Street to 63rd Street, is expected to open in 2016.)
    • In "The Quality of Mercy", Pete once again finds himself in possession of information that proves that someone who has been giving in trouble in the agency is not who he claims to be.
    • In "The Strategy", a McCann exec says of Burger Chef that "It's not McDonald's. They're run by idiots." Burger Chef went downhill starting in The Seventies and was merged into Hardee's in The Eighties.
    • At his low ebb in Season 7A, Don finds Lane Pryce's old Mets pennant and pins it to the ceiling of his office. The "Miracle Mets", formerly perennial losers, shocked the world by winning the World Series that year (1969).
  • Camp Gay:
    • The party planner at Don's 40th birthday party in Season 5's "A Little Kiss".
    • The Chevalier Blanc men's cologne guy in Season 5.
    • According to Bob Benson, Pete Campbell's mom's nurse Manolo.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: In "Dark Shadows" Roger asks Ginsberg if he can keep a secret and Ginsberg says "Nope." Sure enough, later in the episode he tells Peggy the secret.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin'
    • At the end of the pilot, Peggy has a one night with Pete- on the eve of Pete's wedding. She delivers a surprise baby in the Season Finale.
    • Separated Don and Betty have sad, confusing sex in her childhood bedroom after her father Gene has had a stroke, thus producing Baby Gene 9 months later.
    • Joan and Roger, both married, re-consummate their relationship against a wall after being mugged. Joan gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby and pass it off as her absent husband's.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Don drinks Ted Chaough under the table in "Man with a Plan". Chaough gets his revenge by scaring the wits out of Don in Chaough's private plane.
  • Captain Ersatz: In-universe, the title song and scene from the 1963 film version of Bye Bye Birdie is duplicated, frame for frame, and re-purposed as an ad for diet cola.
    Harry: It doesn't make any sense. It looks right, it sounds right, smells right. Something's not right. What is it?
    Roger: It's not Ann-Margaret.
  • The Casanova: Don Draper, 'nuff said. His middle name should be this trope. He's so good actually, that he has to make excuses to the point of being apologetic when NOT hitting on a woman (with Peggy for example)
  • The Cast Showoff: A few points, but one of the more obvious is "My Old Kentucky Home," which seems built around this:
    • Vincent Kartheiser shows off his dancing skills in the scene where Pete and his wife Trudy stop Roger's party dead by doing the Charleston. Alison Brie acquits herself quite well as Trudy.
    • Michael Gladis duets with Miles Fisher (formerly of an a cappella group at Harvard) on "Hello, My Baby" in the scene where Kinsey and his old college buddy from Princeton's Tigertones show off their a cappella skills.
    • John Slattery singing the title song (in blackface, for extra Values Dissonance) at Roger and Jane's engagement party
    • Christina Hendricks appears to sing a rendition of "C'est Magnifique" while accompanying herself on the accordion, at Joan and Greg's dinner party. The singing voice was dubbed but the accordion-playing was all her.
    • Robert Morse sings "The Best Things In Life Are Free" in Waterloo, likely his last appearance as Bert Cooper accompanied by five secretaries doing broadway-style dancing. This could be a nod to his past role in another piece about 1960s business
  • Catch Phrase: Don's "This never happened."
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Don's ten year old daughter Sally is watching The Man from U.N.C.L.E. when she starts masturbating, without really knowing what it is she's doing, to Ilya Kuryakin at a friend's house while her friend is sleeping on the couch. She gets in trouble when the friend's mother walks in, and when she takes Sally back home her mother yells at her and threatens to cut her fingers off if she does it again - in public or in private. All the while Sally doesn't even know why the adults are mad at her.
  • Chained to a Bed: Don does this to Bobbie when she tells him that he has a reputation. No Guy Wants to Be Chased.
  • Character Development, some more than others.
    • Peggy might be the new poster child. She's gone from a secretary to copywriter with an office when the head of television doesn't even have an office. She went from being cowed by the men in her life to one who can call them out when they're not showing her enough respect (Don) or even shake them down when necessary (Roger). She goes from being nearly pushed to tears over being treated as dessert in 1x02 "Ladies Room" to winning a battle of wills of chauvinist pig Rizzo by stripping down naked in 4x06 "Waldorf Stories" to the aforementioned shakedown in 5x04 "Mystery Date."
    • Pete, the Butt Monkey and Jerk Ass in seasons 1 and 2 to most viewers, has gone on a long journey. He cuts the ties he's gotten with nepotism and actually attempting to earn his job. He's questioning the institutional racism with companies he is dealing with and actually made the new owners pay attention to it. He sees opportunities in "the Negro market" (as Don calls it) that no one else at the firm does. Socially, he turns from a naive, ignorant WASP kid in a suit who cheats on his wife into a savvy businessman, a genuine liberal, and a devoted husband. But just when it looks like Pete has really evolved as a person, in season 5 he takes a giant step backward, becoming profoundly unhappy with life with his gorgeous wife and new baby, patronizing hookers, screwing neighborhood housewives, getting his ass beat by Lane Pryce, etc.
    • Joan starts off as a Libby-like figure, and becomes much more sympathetic later on when we find out that she's wasted the prime of her life as a mistress for her boss and ended up being raped by her fiance right before their wedding. She later finds out that her "big catch" is an incompetent surgeon who ends up getting unofficially blacklisted from working as a surgeon in New York. He then joins the Army right as the Vietnam War is about to heat up in order to continue pursuing his career dream, even though Joan would be content if he would just become a regular doctor. Finally, in "Mystery Date" Joan dumps her husband and makes it clear to him that she remembers the rape and that it was a mistake to marry him. It's a huge growth moment for the character.
    • At first, Ken Cosgrove is basically a fratboy, consistently crude and immature, constantly hitting on women in the most brazen way possible. Oh, and he has tremendous false modesty about his literary achievements when The Atlantic publishes his short story. When he shows up again at SCDP, he is far more mature—probably the most mature of the junior people who aren't Peggy—keeping a strict wall between personal and professional and actually being embarrassed by his fiction (which, admittedly, are science fiction and therefore "supposed" to be embarrassing to an Ivy League "sophisticate" like Ken).
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • In Season 1, Paul Kinsey, Harry Crane, and Ken Cosgrove had little personality beyond being sexist friends of Pete.
    • Ted Chaough's reinvention as Peggy's Benevolent Boss doesn't match all that well with the douchey Chaough as he was initially presented. That said, this is definitely a show in which people can change in three years; see, for instance, Ken (who matured a lot between Season 3 and Season 5), and Peggy herself.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Don's desertion/identity switch in Korea.
  • Chekhov's Gift: Don receives Anna Draper's engagement ring in "Tomorrowland."
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • You introduce a lawn mower in Act I, be prepared for someone's foot to be mowed over in Act III. Right when he got it in the door.
    • Roger Sterling's daughter spent some time planning a date for her wedding. She settled for November 23, 1963.
    • Roger's memoirs, dictated to his secretary and spoken into a tape recorder. Sure enough, Don finds the tapes, and boy, are they hilarious.
    • Spectacularly in season two, Don's lack of a contract.
    • Bert Cooper's offhand comment about Jaguar in "Christmas Waltz"—"They're lemons; they never start!"—takes on new meaning when Lane Pryce tries to kill himself in "Commissions and Fees" via tailpipe exhaust and can't start his new Jaguar.
    • Related to this, there's the time early in Season 5 that Pete and his commuter-train companion Howard discuss life insurance (which Howard sells), and Pete finds out that the company has a policy on each partner that pays out even in the event of suicide. In "The Phantom," SCDP gets a staggering death benefit from its policy on Lane.
    • Pete's gun from "Red in the Face" is a literal one still yet to be used.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Megan seemed to be getting a lot of moments onscreen without any actual story for a secretary through most of Season 4 before she became Don's secretary and fiancee.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Pete's lack of skill at the wheel. He only learns to drive in Season 5 and he rarely does it anyway. Come Season 6, he has to drive stick in Detroit at the request of some General Motors rowdy executives, disaster ensues.
  • Chiaroscuro: The light is always amazingly specific; illumination defines the location (from time of day to which side of a building an office is on), and also artistically defines a character (Don's always hiding in the shadows).
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: When Betty finally tells Don that she knows about his secret identity, not only do Don's hands shake when he lights the cigarette, he actually drops the cigarette, and Betty has to do it for him. Given how cool, calm, and confident Don had been portrayed for three years, it came off as a very dramatic moment.
  • Cold War:
    • Don goes with some of the others to a defense convention and is horror-struck at just what the then-new MIRV missile design can do.
    • The season two finale, "Meditations in an Emergency", takes place during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. Joan wonders about their Civil Defense precautions to have Don tell her there wouldn't be much point. Peggy's priest is seen preparing the church's bomb shelter.
    • The FBI men who visit Betty for Don's security clearance interview seem very interested in any potential ties to the Communist party.
  • Come Back to Bed, Honey: Don says this to Betty at one point.
  • Compliment Backfire: After Megan helps to land the Heinz account, Peggy congratulates her and tells her to soak in all the adulation she is receiving because this will be as good as it gets. Megan previously was already having reservations about continuing to work for the Ad Agency because of all the cynicism, and Peggy's statement only drove her dislike of the job further.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Megan admits to this after the fact in "The Collaborators," confessing she is relieved that she didn't have to decide about whether she should have an abortion.
  • Cool Car: Don's Cadillac Coupe DeVille, Gene's (later Betty's) 1961 Lincoln Continental, Betty's '57 Ford wagon from the first season... practically every outdoor shot is chock-full of Gorgeous Period Cars.
    • Don even goes as far as replacing his first Coupe DeVille with a newer one in season 5.
    • All of the Jaguars in season five, especially the cherry red one Joan and Don test drive in "Christmas Waltz", and the Chekhov's Gun green one Lane's wife buys for him in "Commissions and Fees". Subverted in that the XKE is rather unreliable.
  • Crapsaccharine World: 1960s New York, devolving into a Crapsack World in the late '60s, as it did in real life.
  • Creepy Child: Glen Bishop, who's escalated from crushing on Betty Draper to crushing on Sally Draper to breaking and entering (while sparing Sally's room alone in the Draper home).
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Bert Cooper, especially in his verbal smackdown of Pete Campbell in the season one finale.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Robert Pryce takes down Lane with one quick smack across the head with his cane and then steps on his hand to force him to go back to England and deal with his family.

    D - I 
  • Da Chief: Bert Cooper, full stop. The door might say Sterling Cooper, and Roger and Bert nominally have equal power, it's just generally understood that Cooper has the final say on everything. The "Sterling" in Sterling Cooper is actually Roger's father.
  • Daddy's Girl: Played mostly straight with Sally Draper, who comes to loathe her mother. Her relationship with Don gets rocky as Don's life gets rockier in later seasons, but in Season 7A they have a rapprochement.
  • Darker and Edgier: The series shows the darker side of The Sixties, averting the Nostalgia Filter.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Don's seemed like the darkest (son of a prostitute, abusive parents, desertion in Korea) - until we met Ginsberg, who was born in a concentration camp.
    • Don attempts to take the title back when it's revealed that his first sexual experience was with a motherly whore who took care of him when he was sick. The experience wasn't consensual. The show goes to some lengths to juxtapose his backstory and Don's less than examplary behavior in the present.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms:
    • It's heavily implied in "The Color Blue" that Paul does this with the Jackie & Marilyn artwork while alone late at night in his office.
    • Sally gets caught masturbating to Ilya Kuryakin while at a friend's house. Neither the friend's mother nor Betty is pleased.
    • This happens twice in "Indian Summer". Betty gets off with a washing machine. Peggy for her part is asked to test a vibrating weight-loss apparatus, which turns out to have other benefits. She discreetly mentions this to her bosses, who realize the hidden potential in marketing it to women.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Eugene Scott Draper, named after his maternal grandfather. Don doesn't much care for the name (having hated the original) and Sally is freaked out (having loved her Grampa Gene and now having to deal with a "replacement" with the same name living in the same room).
  • Dead Person Conversation: Don has one with Adam in "The Phantom."
    • Don has another one with PFC Dinkins in "A Tale of Two Cities."
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Dick Whitman assumes the identity of Lt. Don Draper after Draper is killed in Korea.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Roger.
    Harry: Are you kidding me?
    Roger: Yes, yes we are. Happy birthday.
    • Don, Peggy, Kinsey, Joan . . . nearly everyone has their moments.
  • Death as Comedy: Miss Blankenship croaks in the office and has to be removed while important clients are there for a meeting.
  • Death by Childbirth: Don's real mother.
  • Deconstruction: Of the "good old days" Nostalgia Filter view of the Fifties. Needless to say, America was not a perfect and happy place back then like such views claim. See the entry below for Deliberate Values Dissonance for some good examples.
  • Defcon Five: Discussed Trope in "The Doorway", when Peggy has to explain to her boss what the DEFCON levels really mean.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Dr. Faye Miller in Season 4.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The whole damn point of the show.
    • Sterling Cooper finds some random Jewish guy from the mailroom to attend a meeting with a department store owned by a Jewish family, pretending he's a "rising star" in the art department. Then they serve their prospective clients cocktail shrimp (extremely non-kosher).
    • At one point, a character loses a foot due to a tragic accident. Aside from the fact that OSHA would've had a field day with the circumstances involved, nearly everybody seems to think it's obvious this means his career, in a desk job, is over because of the new disability.
    • Everything involving children:
      • Sally running around with a plastic bag over her head. Betty calls her over... and tells her the clothes that were in that bag better not be on the floor, or else.
      • Sally is expected to make her father drinks, clean up and make dinner when her brother misbehaves and her parents are having shouting matches, and sneaks drinks at Don's office. She's between six and ten during these scenes.
      • Little Dick Whitman gets a sip of moonshine, right before his father dies.
      • Trick-or-treating in pitch darkness with mostly black costumes and no flashlights. (Though the show flubbed something that time — the kids almost certainly would not have had their parents with them back then.)
      • Kids are running around the house at Sally's birthday party. One of them breaks a glass after jostling a table. A man grabs him, slaps his face, and reprimands him. Then the boy's father shows up and makes the child apologize to the man who slapped him.
      • No seatbelts. Bobby and Sally are climbing all over the back seat when Betty crashes the car into a neighbor's yard.
      • Sally isn't allowed to go to her grandfather's funeral, because "a graveyard is no place for children." Neither of her parents even really realizes how close she became to Gene when he was living with them.
    • Environmental awareness. Or more specifically, the lack thereof: When they have a picnic, it's almost laughable the mess they left behind when they leave. When discussing Pampers brand diapers. "What's best about these? They're disposable!"
    • Drunk driving with a crash resulting is penalized only with a fine payable all at once, because the driver was under the then-legal limit of 0.15. Repeating this for emphasis - the legal limit was 0.15. A BAC of 0.08 is the highest you will find in any developed country these days.
    • Pete Campbell buys a .22 and proceeds to point it at random people in the office while he and his friends have a good laugh about it. Not to mention the conversation he has with Peggy afterwards.
    • All over the place with smoking - in "The Gypsy and The Hobo," a possible client notes that her husband just died at 51 from lung cancer, and the focus immediately shifts to Don, casually lighting a cigarette.
    • Peggy's mom all but disowns her after she decides to move in with her boyfriend Abe without marrying him.
    • There will often be comments, jokes, and actions that would be deemed very sexist today - many times openly in front of the women.
    • Peggy's gynecologist openly berates her, all but calling her a slut for being an unmarried woman asking for birth control.
    • Bert vetoes Joan's attempt to transfer Dawn to reception on the grounds that having a "Negro" at the front desk will hurt the agency.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Lee Garner Jr., unfortunately for Sal. And, as stated in "The Quality of Mercy," for Roger as well.
  • Development Gag: In the fourth season opener Harry says he wished the new offices had a second floor so he could jump off of it; Harry was slated to commit suicide at the end of the first season.
  • Diegetic Switch: At the end of "Lady Lazarus" Don plays "Tomorrow Never Knows" by The Beatles on his record player. The song switches to background music as a montage of Megan taking doing exercises in her acting class and Peggy and Stan sharing a joint at work plays. Then it switches back to diegetic when the show cuts back to Don listening to the record. Then it switches yet again to background music in the closing credits.
  • Dirty Old Man:
    • Roger Sterling is at least as promiscuous as Don.
    • Bert Cooper too. The man keeps a print of "Dream of the Fisherman's Wife" on his office wall.
    • Jim Cutler in Season 6, especially when he enjoys watching the teenage daughter of recently deceased Frank Gleason have sex with Stan in the office after Gleason's funeral.
  • The Ditz:
    • Meredith the receptionist seems to have the IQ of a fly.
    • Herb's wife is obsessed with puppies and is completely oblivious to how much of a Jerkass her husband is.
    • Don't forget Lois trying to drive the lawn mower in "Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency."
  • The Dog Bites Back: Lane Pryce. After being condescended to by his PPL bosses for most of Season 3 and then cast overboard when PPL decides to sell Sterling Cooper, he participates in the season-ending mutiny and helps found Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
  • Door Closes Ending: Numerous times, finally deliberately averting it in "The Suitcase."
  • Doorstop Baby: Don.
  • Double Standard: The series!
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: How Dick Whitman lost his virginity. A prostitute who had been caring for him in a motherly fashion suddenly tries to seduce the underage boy. Though reluctant, he submits due to this trope.
  • Downer Ending: While plenty of episodes are downers, Matthew Weiner seems to have an allergy to leaving the agency hanging at the end of the season; the prospects for Sterling Cooper and then SCDP are always looking up with the season finale. This might be his attempt to avert Offscreen Inertia.
    • Season 5 finale "The Phantom" is a Downer Ending for most of the characters, although once again, SCDP's prospects are looking up.
    • Season 6 finale "In Care Of" ends a thoroughly depressing season with a mega-Downer Ending in which Ted dumps Peggy, Pete's mother is apparently murdered, Pete heads off to California with his marriage over, Don's marriage is apparently also over, and Don loses his job. This pile of bummers is lightened with a little bit of hope in the last scene, when Don takes his children to see the home he grew up in.
  • Dr. Feelgood: Jim Cutler brings in a dubious doctor who gives everyone speed injections, leaving the agency tripping balls all weekend, in "The Crash".
  • Dream Sequence:
    • Betty has a pretty funky one in "The Fog" when she gets drugged up while giving birth.
    • And another in "Tea Leaves" during her cancer scare.
    • Those are topped by "Mystery Date", wherein Don Draper dreams of murdering an old flame.
    • Don smokes hasish at an L.A. party in "A Tale of Two Cities," resulting in visions of pregnant hippie Megan and the dead PFC Dinkins. It ends with him face down in the pool, unsure of how he got there.
  • Dress Hits Floor: Happens to Betty a few times in seasons 1 and 2, and in "Waldorf Stories", Joan's mink hits the floor.
  • Drink Order:
    • Don will have an Old Fashioned, made with Canadian rye (he keeps a bottle of Canadian Club in his office).
    • Betty seems to like gimlets, but will often drink wine (white on social occasions, but red when day-drinking at home).
    • Roger seems to drink whatever's handy, but has a particular liking for vodka and especially vodka martinis; ever since he got his super-modern office in Season 4, it seems that there's always a bottle of Smirnoff around. Although to be frank, he's always gone in for Smirnoff; in Season 1, he was seen pouring Smirnoff into milk (apparently because his doctor recommended milk to calm his gastric ulcer).
    • Megan is fairly eclectic, but seems to like wine—as do her Amazingly Embarrassing Parents, who (surprise, surprise) are French-Canadian intellectuals.
    • In Season 5 Sally orders coffee in a restaurant, prompting Megan's friend to say they won't bring it to her. When they do, Megan suggests she try to order a drink while Sally starts pouring sugar into it.
    • Henry Francis will have a brandy.
    • Joan's choices are also eclectic, but she does seem to like gin drinks. If she's feeling stressed, she'll even drink straight gin.
  • Driven to Suicide: Don's brother Adam, who hangs himself after Don sends him away.
    • Lane Pryce.
  • Driving a Desk: Don and Megan not really driving through upstate New York in "Far Away Places".
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In "Waterloo", Bert Cooper passes away off screen.
  • Drugs Are Bad:
    • Played entirely straight with Midge, a heroin addict by the time she reappears in Season 4.
    • In "The Crash" the whole office gets amphetamine injections in preparation for a brainstorming session, producing only unpleasantly bizarre behavior and no substantial progress.
    • In "A Tale of Two Cities", where Don nearly drowns after he walks into a swimming pool during a drug induced stupor.
  • Drugs Are Good: Zigzagged:
    • Kinsey claims to get Artistic Stimulation from "Mary Jane." He never shows it, however; the one time we see him smoking anything (besides cigarettes or his pipe), it's Peggy who gets the idea. She also has a wonderful time.
    "My name is Peggy Olson, and I'd like to smoke some marijuana."
    • Peggy smokes up again in "The Rejected", and isn't caught by the police when they raid the party.
    • And it seems from the montage at the end of "Lady Lazarus" that Peggy and Stan seem to do this on a regular basis while working.
    • Roger drops acid in "Far Away Places", has an important realization about his life, and is telling Mona in the next episode that LSD is awesome and she has to try it. He remains an LSD enthusiast and drops acid again in "The Phantom".
    • In "The Doorway"; Don and Megan are smoking weed to make sex better while Creative is smoking so much in the office that both Don and Joan joke about it.
    Don: *strolling into the Creative lounge* I smell creativity!
  • Drunk Driver:
    • Don rolls his car while tooling around with Bobbi Barrett.
    • Lois the secretary gets hammered and takes the the John Deere tractor in the office for a spin. It ends with an amputated foot.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: The story of Lane Pryce's life, the Hyper Competent Side Kick. Almost every competent worker who is not a senior partner feels underappreciated at some point. Peggy Olson, Pete Campbell, Harry Crane and Joan are the ones who complain more often about it.
  • Dumb Blonde:
    • Meredith, the new receptionist who started appearing in Season 5.
    • Herb Rennet's wife Peaches in the dinner scene from "For Immediate Release."
  • Dysfunction Junction: Where do we start? Every single character on this show is screwed-up.
  • Eccentric Millionaire:
    • Bertram Cooper, with his Japanese-themed office and general mild craziness.
    • Conrad Hilton, who demands advertising for a hotel on the moon.
  • Empty Promise: Don's decision to offer these to Betty after Kennedy was assassinated rather than genuine comfort and emotion catalyzed the dissolution of their marriage.
  • Enemy Mine: In "For Immediate Release", Don and Chaough merge their agencies to get the GM account.
  • Enter Stage Window: Creepy Glen Bishop does this to see Sally at a girls' boarding school in "The Quality of Mercy".
  • Entitled to Have You: Pete Campbell does Type B with a German au pair that his neighbors hired. He goes through some trouble to fix a dress with red wine or some such spilled on it, but it's only after he returns it that she tells him she already has a boyfriend. Her reactions indicate that it was naivety about his intentions rather than an attempt to use him, but he still forces himself on her a bit later. This comes back to bite him when the neighbor finds out.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In addition to the examples on the page itself, Dr. Greg Harris's rape of his then-fiancee Joan has colored every scene the character appeared in afterwards.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: SO MUCH, especially Don. Some fans have even nicknamed the show "The Don Draper Sex Hour."
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned: In "The Crash", Cutler brings a "doctor" to the office to give most of the cast speed to help them get through a very sad and busy day.
  • Everybody Smokes: to the point of Lampshade Hanging when the first season's DVD packaging looked like a giant Zippo lighter and the first episode is titled "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes."
    • Gynecologists drinking and smoking while working.
    • The producers said that their general rule was if the actor either smokes or used to smoke and since quit, the character smokes, too. If the actor has never smoked, neither does the character. Which makes you really wonder about Hollywood....
    • Pete Campbell doesn't, which makes for a gag in one episode where he tries cigarettes and can't stop coughing.
    • A new generation gets addicted to nicotine when teenaged Sally Draper starts lighting up in Season 7A.
  • Even the Girls Want Her:
    • Joan's roommate Carol makes a pretty overt proposal. Joan pretends that she doesn't understand.
    • In season four, Peggy gets hit on by Joyce, a female Life editor at a Warhol-esque art show. Though Peggy blocks the flirtation, she not only handles it very casually, but the two of them go on to be such close friends that Joyce regularly comes to visit the SCDP offices; by season five, they even kiss each other on the cheek as a greeting.
    • Megan's sexy swinger boss Arlene makes advances to her in Season 6 in both "To Have and To Hold" and "The Better Half." Megan laughs it off both times.
  • Exact Words: In "Collaborators" Don is charged by a Jaguar dealer that he hates with selling a new, locally-targeted Jaguar campaign to the Jaguar brass. Don gives the pitch—but deliberately makes the campaign sound cheap, so the Jaguar bosses will turn down the deal.
  • Exiled to the Couch:
    • Betty does this to Don for much of Season 2.
    • Harry Crane is exiled in season one after a drunken one-night stand with Hildy (a secretary) after the Election Day office party. His wife forgives him, though.
    • Trudy exiles Pete Campbell to his apartment in the city in Season 6.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Done in Season 6 to let people know we're now heading into the late Sixties. Most of the men at SCDP have grown sideburns (see, e.g., Harry, and to a limited extent, Pete and Roger), mustaches (see, e.g., Ginsburg), or beards (see, e.g., Stan).note  Don's hair still remains the same. Betty dyes her hair brunette after an encounter with Hippies at an East Village flophouse who deride her for being the establishment.
  • Expy: This show is basically if someone took the characters of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and gave them some real dramatic development rather then sticking them in a musical comedy. Say if the boss's affairs were taken seriously, what if the Hello, Nurse! Sexy Secretary had actual Hidden Depths, etc. This is especially highlighted in the casting of Robert Morse, who is best known for playing the lead in How to Succeed....
  • Eye Take
  • Eyepatch of Power: Zig-zagged. When Ken gets shot in the face while out hunting with GM executives, he dons an eyepatch which everyone seems to regard as alternately amusing and kind of cool. He himself hates it, since he's about to become a father and does not relish the prospect of only having the use of one eye then.
  • Fag Hag: Peggy asks out one of her coworkers only to find out he's gay. He still hangs out with her for the night, and ends up giving her a new haircut to give her a more assertive attitude at work. And later in season 4, she becomes good friends with a lesbian who tried to ask her out.
    • Joan and Bob Benson in Season 6 appear to have this dynamic.
  • Fake Guest Star: John Slattery in the first season, in spite of his major role in the first season and seasons that would follow. He appears in 10 of the 13 episodes of season 1. Notably, Maggie Siff (Rachel Menken) is a main cast member in season 1 but only appears in 7 episodes.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Late in Season 3, Pete encounters Joan working at a department store after she left Sterling Cooper to be a housewife to her surgeon husband, who it turns out is an incompetent oaf and unable to support her.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: Don's voiceover of his memoirs in "The Summer Man".
  • Fauxreigner/Obfuscating Stupidity: Kurt, probably. He seems to play up his foreignness in order to get away with saying subversive things.
  • Fingore: In Season 4 Joan gives her own finger a nasty slice while cutting oranges.
  • Flashback: This is how we learn Don's whole backstory.
  • Flipping the Bird: Stan does this to Peggy in "To Have and to Hold" after finding out that she used information he told her in confidence to get an advantage at work.
  • Foil: Ted Chaough is built as the anti-Draper in Season 6; an unbroken creative ace (he even flies planes) who Can't Hold His Liquor if he tries to keep up with Don and an overall Nice Guy friend of his friends who is set to correct his mistakes before they spiral out of control.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In season three, Sterling Cooper successfully woos the city of New York for the Madison Square Garden project, only to be shot down by Putnam, Powell, & Lowe. Because of "a conflict", followed up with a monetary explanation. It turns out that PPL only wanted SC to strip and sell to an American company, and long term plans with MSG would have conflicted. Pryce is also a sacrificial lamb.
      Don: Why did you even buy us?
      Pryce: ... I don't know.
    • When the British overseers from Putnam, Powell, & Lowe visit Sterling Cooper in "Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency," Joan suggests to them that they see Oliver! on Broadway while they're in New York. One of the British men replies by calling it "a tragedy with a happy ending," which is certainly an apropos summary of the episode's events.
    • Season 5 is replete with dialogue and imagery alluding to death, which foreshadows Lane Pryce's suicide.
  • Forgotten Trope: Betty flying to Reno to get a divorce. The state of Nevada was then considered the easiest option in the U.S. for un-hitching, allowing marriages to dissolve if one spouse became a state "resident" for six weeks.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: the four partners in SCDP: Don (Phlegmatic), Roger (Choleric), Cooper (Sanguine) and Lane (Melancholic). Although, of course, Don is Choleric as well and Roger can be very Sanguine.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Deconstructed with both Don's and Betty's second marriages. Though they all seem to have settled into relatively stable partnerships by the end of the fifth season, both couples went through some serious rough patches to get there that they might have avoided if they'd known their spouses better.
  • Freudian Couch:
    • Played completely straight in Season 1. Don sends Betty for psychoanalysis, and the setup is correct for free association: the couch is set away from the chair the therapist is sitting in, and he freaks out slightly when she sits up and makes eye contact.
    • A laid-back guy like Roger enjoys it in a slouchy way during his Season 6 sessions.
  • Freudian Excuse: The backstory flashbacks of Don often account for his twisted personality in the present day. Hell, even his very name, Dick Whitman, has a Freudian origin; his mother's fondest wish was to cut off his father's dick and boil it in hog fat for getting her pregnant.
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • Don was in a downward spiral at the start of season four, breaking his own rules about sleeping with employees and hiring a prostitute to slap him in the face as they have sex. So he goes to California to spend some time with Anna Draper, his safety net and the only person who he feels he can truly be himself around. And then he learns she has terminal cancer.
    • In Season 6 this happens to Don again, but even worse, as his alcoholism worsens and his job performance suffers, leading to him getting fired.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • Bert Cooper lurking in his own reception area in "The Rejected". In the same episode, Peggy standing on her desk and peering into Don's office above his head as Allison quits.
    • Also, in "Beautiful Girls" when Don, Faye and Ken are deciding on an ad campaign with a client as the secretaries try to cart away Ms. Blankenship's dead body.
    • An earlier example in "Ladies Room" - Don is discussing the possibility of working on the Nixon campaign with Sterling and Cooper, and through the window to his office you can see a fireball as Cosgrove and some of the other guys in the office set a spray of the deodorant they're playing with aflame.
    • Roger casually offering Don a ride home while junior executives brawl in the background in "Shoot".
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!:
    • When Roger almost goes Out with a Bang, he's mumbling the name of the one-night-stand he was with, and an overwrought Don slaps him and growls, "Mona! Your wife's name is Mona!"
    • Don to Peggy in flashback in "The New Girl." Delivered to snap her out of Heroic BSOD.
    • Freddy Rumsen's speech to a hung-over Don at the end of "The Monolith."
  • The Ghost: Harry Crane's much-hated rival Mitch. Mrs. Blankenship is one for the first three seasons as Cooper's secretary. She then becomes Don's secretary and plays a much-loved recurring role in Season 4. Then she dies, and becomes a literal ghost.
  • Girl Watching: When the men of SC watch the secretaries through a one-way mirror in "Babylon" as the secretaries sample lipstick.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex / Wall Bang Her: Roger and Joan in "The Beautiful Girls", after they're mugged by a black man with a gun.
  • Godwin's Law: Don compares giving up to increasingly bad demands from clients to Munich appeasement. The reference falls flat on Campbell, who states that the Germans lost the war anyway. Roger then tops it by attributing a famous Winston Churchill's quote about dishonour and war to his own mother.
  • Going Cold Turkey: Don tries this in "In Care Of" after the night in the drunk tank. Ted Chaough convinces him to have a drink before a big meeting, saying "My father... you can't just stop like that."
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: The assembling of the new Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce team.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Throughout the series the characters will work really hard to get a new client but once the client signs up with the agency it creates a a ton of conflict and makes everyone miserable.
    • The Jaguar deal is a great way for SCDP to show that it is a serious contender in the ad world but it means having to work with slimy Entitled Bastard Herb.
    • The Chevy deal really puts the agency in the spot light but the auto executives end up almost killing Ken. The merger allows the agency to win the Chevy contract but it creates massive stresses among the partners with Cutler being on the verge of taking control of the agency.
    • Opening a California office brings in a lot of new business and Pete and Ted get away from the problems they have in New York. However, the separation only increases the tension in the agency and both Pete and Ted end up miserable.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Adultery is all over this show, with different characters treated differently.
    • Don's cheating is seen as bad pretty much across the board. His relationships with his mistresses are unsympathetic and Betty is devastated when she finds out.
    • Roger's cheating on Mona is pretty terrible - even though very few people disapprove of his relationship with Joan, his affair with Jane is cringeworthy. After marrying Jane he impregnates Joan but fails to rekindle their old relationship.
    • Pete only cheats on Trudy three times in the first four seasons, which is such a low tally by the standards of this show that if not for one of them being all-important to the plot we might never have noticed. He's almost doubled that tally in season 5, though.
    • Harry cheating on his wife once, under the influence of alcohol and an office party, results in him getting kicked out of the house. They're back together by early the following season, but considering that a year and a half lapsed between "Nixon v. Kennedy" and "The Benefactor," we don't know how long it took for Jennifer to forgive Harry. He cheats again in season five, and this time seems a lot less hesitant to do so and a lot less guilty about it afterwards.
    • As mentioned above, Joan is married to Greg when she cheats on him with Roger. This is somewhat sympathetic because of Greg's previous rape of Joan and while Roger may be a jerk, he's been shown to care for her greatly. Then, in Season Five, she divorces Greg, but is still technically married to him when she sleeps with the head of Jaguar to land SCDP the account..
    • Betty's one night stand in "Meditations in an Emergency" and flirtation with Henry Francis throughout season 3 are treated sympathetically. Of course, Betty has it coming from another direction entirely...
    • Don's affair with Sylvia comes across very negatively. But when Peggy seduces a married man (Ted Chaough), it's treated much more sympathetically, to the point where Peggy is outraged when Chaough goes back to his wife.
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: A rather fitting one for Lane Pryce:
    Roger: A resignation letter. It's boilerplate.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion:
    • Treated probably realistically. Betty is all for having one, if unwilling to say so in so many words, when she realizes she's pregnant in the middle of her estrangement from Don, but is discouraged from it by her doctor, who claims that "that option is for young girls," and as a "married woman of means" she should just roll with the punches.
    • Joan, who goes so far as to convince Roger that she went through with one (probably because she actually has in the past).
    • Megan was indoctrinated about the evils of abortion by the nuns of her Catholic school and is relieved when a miscarriage terminates her pregnancy before she takes a decision about it.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Too bad they must all reek of cigarette smoke.
  • Grande Dame:
    • Mona.
    • Henry's mother, Mrs. Francis.
    • Alice, Bert Cooper's sister and part owner of Sterling Cooper.
    • Pete's mother Dorothy Dyckman
  • Green-Eyed Monster: In "The Quality of Mercy", Don does just about everything in his power to sabotage Peggy and Chaough's burgeoning relationship.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Apparently, Bert Cooper was on the wrong end of an "unnecessary orchiectomy" (look it up) "at the height of his sexual prime." Well, that certainly explains why he isn't married...
    • In "A Tale of Two Cities", Roger makes one too many short jokes at Danny Siegel's expense. Roger quickly learns why you shouldn't insult someone whose arms are already at your groin level.
  • Happily Married: No one. Except maybe Betty and Henry Francis—although they start sniping at each other in Season 7A—and Ken and Cynthia Cosgrove, whom we hardly ever see together. The writers like to tease us sometimes, like Harry and Jennifer Crane before Season 5, Don and Megan Draper during Season 5, and even Pete and Trudy Campbell in Seasons 4 and 5, but inevitably, it ends in shit.
  • Has a Type: Don begins the show married to a blonde Stepford Smiler, but all of his mistresses/lovers have been rather independent-minded and outspoken, and all have been brunette except for redhead Bobbie Barrett (who pursued him, rather than the other way around), and blonde Faye Miller (whom he dated after his divorce),
  • Have a Gay Old Time: "I like the show. Very gay songs."—Betty in "Shoot"
  • Held Gaze: This is combined with the Longing Look at the end of "The Rejected." Peggy and Pete lock eyes wistfully as they each follow their separate paths (her with new counterculture friends, him with businessmen in suits). However, you can tell there's always going to be a bit of longing and a "what could have been" vibe between them, even though neither one wants to travel down that path again.
  • Hello, Nurse!: Hello, Joan and her two best friends! Though a lot of it has to do with the armor-plated bras, most of the women lead from the front, except Peggy.
  • Heroic BSOD: Don's little California adventure, until he's snapped out of it by a visit to Anna.
    • Later he has a very realistic and scary panic attack when an ill-advised government contract puts his past in more danger than ever of being discovered.
    • Don in the elevator and lobby of his apartment building in "Favors" after Sally catches Don and Sylvia having sex in Sylvia's apartment.
  • Hidden Depths: Lots, to the point that it's nearly as prominent a part of the show's approach as Deliberate Values Dissonance. After two or three seasons with a major character, we generally have a pretty good idea of what they're like inside, but even then some unexplored facet of their personality or history will pop up to surprise us.
    • Crotchety old Miss Blankenship, according to Roger's memoirs, was quite the "Queen of Perversions" in the late 1940s. Naturally, both Don and Peggy find this hilarious.
    • Played straight with Joan; while early episodes basically portray her as a woman who is more adept to general office politics of lying for your boss when he cheats on his wife and whoring and boozing with your coworkers, later episodes have shown that Joan was one damn effective secretary/office manager and that without her, the agency routinely falls into utter chaos.
    • It was already known that Ken Cosgrove had written and published one story, but Season 5 reveals he's published over 20 science fiction and fantasy stories under a pseudonym, something he's mildly embarrassed about but that both his wife and Peggy seem genuinely impressed by. When Roger finds out, he's less impressed, giving Ken a tongue lashing for dividing his focus.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: January Jones was pregnant, but in Season 5 Betty's just gaining weight.
  • High Turnover Rate: The job of Don's secretary. Lampshaded in Season 4 when folks at the office guess what will happen to Megan. (They all guess wrong.)
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: Peggy in "My Old Kentucky Home." Roger and Jane in "Far Away Places".
  • Historical-Domain Character: The real-life hotelier Conrad Hilton is a major supporting character in season 3.
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: "All I can get from this story is that Hitler didn't smoke, and I do."—Roger in "Red in the Face"
  • Hobos: Little Dick Whitman meets one in "The Hobo Code"
  • Hoist by His Own Petard / Batman Gambit: Roger sneaks a peak at Pete's calendar so he can go to meetings between Pete and his clients and steal Pete's thunder. When Pete figures it out, he makes a fake appointment on his calendar for very early in the morning in a remote part of New York City.
  • Hookers and Blow: When Midge makes her depressing return in Season 4 we learn that she's prostituting herself to feed a heroin habit.
  • Hospital Hottie: Don's new neighbor in season four.
  • Housewife: Betty Draper. The show spends three seasons deconstructing this trope, as we see seemingly stereotypical 50s housewife Betty dealing with sexual frustration, her husband's infidelity, and boredom.
  • Hula and Luaus: The beginning of "The Doorway."
  • Humiliation Conga: Don's return to SC&P in "Field Trip." Roger forgot to tell the other partners that Don was coming, so Don returns to a bunch of awkward looks. While Dawn and the creative team are glad to see him, everyone else treats him like a fossil. Lou schedules a meeting with the creative team just to strip Don of the few people who are happy to see him, Peggy stops by just to tell him that she's still upset with him over his role in breaking up her and Ted, and the partners only allow Don back in exchange for agreeing to several burdensome restrictions — in particular, having his responsibilities massively reduced, and a warning that even the slightest act of misconduct will result in him not only being fired, but forfeiting all his shares in the agency. This continues in the next episode where Don is not given any real work for the first few weeks and when he is finally assigned to a project, he is subordinate to Peggy and is given a task more appropriate to a new copy writer than someone of Don's experience. It becomes quite clear that the other partners are just waiting for an excuse to fire him for good.
  • Hypercompetent Side Kick: Lane Pryce while at PPL. He is an absolute financial wizard, seemingly able to make financial miracles happen over and over. This is one reason PPL kept him on. The other was that Lane was seemingly always willing to do as told. He eventually got fed up with that. Afterwards, although he occasionally gets treated as chopped liver at SCDP, he is usually treated with respect.
  • Hypocrite: Pete's father-in-law is furious when he learns that Pete is cheating on Trudy, which doesn't stop him from sleeping with prostitutes.
  • I Am Not Pretty: Peggy, especially in "The Suitcase"
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Poor Ken Cosgrove gets a faceful of birdshot while out hunting with some Chevrolet executives. He survives but resigns the account. The same bunch of executives also almost got him killed in a car accident and he wants out before their recklessness kills him.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Lane loves living in America and embraces all things New York (putting a Mets pennant and a little copy of the Statue of Liberty in his office). This doesn't keep him from being proudly British (including cheering on England in the '66 World Cup), but on multiple occasions he's made it clear he wants to stay in America.
  • Impairment Shot: The first shot of Season 6 is from the POV of a man having a heart attack.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: So often. And a smoke, too.
    • A particularly direct one in "Flight 1": After being informed his father was on the infamous crashed flight, Pete's first reaction is to pour a glass of whisky and step, speechless, out of his office, where he downs the whole drink in a single gulp and makes his way to Don's office to ask for advice...and Don promptly pours him another.
  • Informed Judaism: For some time the only hint that Jane Siegel Sterling might be Jewish was her maiden name. Then in Season 5 she makes a reference to her father speaking Yiddish, and a couple of episodes later this is made explicit when Roger takes her along for dinner with a Jewish client.
    • Word of God indicated that Dr. Faye is supposed to be an assimilated Jew.
  • Ignored Epiphany: For Christ's sake, Don, how many times do you have to realize you love and value your wife before it's enough to make you not go right out and sleep with another woman? It's enough to make her want to divorce you.
    • Don, how many times does your Martin Guerre past have to be dragged out of you and how many anxiety attacks do you have to have because of it before you take Faye's advice and do something about it legally?
  • Ignored Vital News Reports:
    • Pete and Harry miss JFK assassination bulletins because the sound is down on the TV. Duck turns one off to have sex with Peggy. It kills the afterglow a little.
    • Pete assumes that RFK's assassination was just his senile mother confusing him with JFK and sleeps through it.
  • I'll Take Two Beers Too: When Jimmy and Bobbi Barrett come to dinner with the Drapers and the Schellings (the owners of Utz) at Lutèce, Jimmy orders two Johnnie Walkers on the rocks and then asks Bobbi what she would like.
  • Imagine Spot:
    • Don imagining catching his family at home before they leave for Thanksgiving weekend, at the end of Season 1.
    • Peggy pretending that she's making out with Chaough while actually making out with Abe in "For Immediate Release".
  • Important Haircut: Peggy
  • Impoverished Patrician: Pete. His mother's family is old New York Dutch Blue Blood stock, and had owned half of Upper Manhattan before 1929. Pete's dad squandered what was left of the family fortune, and thus Pete is resentful, working as a mid-level ad executive, and has to marry Trudy, whose family isn't as old as his but has more money (as her father is a bigshot at Richardson-Vicks). Of course, he eventually comes out better for it (and eventually settles down about Trudy for good...so far, anyway).
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Harry Crane outlines in lurid detail what he'd do to Megan, oblivious to the fact that she's right behind him.
  • Indy Ploy: Typically, Don is very careful and deliberate, but he's proved several times that he can tap dance on quicksand. In the pilot, he comes up with a new (well, in reality extant and successful) campaign for Lucky Strike. At the end of the second season, he takes advantage of the fact that he doesn't have a contract. At the end of the third, he takes advantage of the fact that he does. And in Season 6, when it becomes clear that neither SCDP or CGC is big enough to land the Chevy account, Don and Ted Chaough merge their agencies.
  • Ironic Echo: When Pete gets his father-in-law to sign with the agency, Ken is excited and comments that he needs to get married to someone like Pete's wife, who has a powerful executive for a father to get him to do business with the agency. Several years and seasons later, Ken marries the daughter of an important businessman and promptly freaks out when the agency asks if he can get his father-in-law to hire the agency, commenting that he doesn't intend on bringing his family into his work and wanting to keep them separate.
    • Probably because he's seen what a disaster Pete's marriage and the Vicks account became.
  • Irony: All over the place, but the Situational kind was on prominent display in Season 2's "The Jet Set": when Kurt comes out as gay to some other employees in the break room, most of the others express disgust; Smitty says that Kurt can't have been "the first homo [they've] met in advertising" as the shot turns to Sal standing awkwardly.
  • Is This Thing Still On?: In "A Day's Work", the New York and California offices are engaging in a conference call, when the call gets messed up so the New York office can't hear what the California office is saying. The New York office falsely assumes that the call was dropped altogether and start badmouthing the California office. Pete is not amused.
  • It's All About Me: Most of the characters, especially in Season 5. Notable exceptions: Anna Draper, Carla, Henry Francis, Suzanne Farrell.
  • It Will Never Catch On:
    • Don says this about Jai Alai. He is right.
    • Admiral Television has something of a similar response to the idea of integrated advertising.
    • In the second episode, Roger dismisses psychiatry as "just this year's candy pink stove". By Season 6, he's seeing a shrink.
    • In 1965, Don is skeptical about a green Joe Namath and about the whole concept of celebrity endorsement. Both things become a hot trend in the following years.
    • In the third episode, Don and a few others in Creative dismiss the Volkswagen "Think Small" and "Lemon" campaigns; they don't see it as "the future," although Don admits it must be working for Volkswagen (with the implication it's probably a fluke). By Season 4, this kind of "Creative Revolution" advertising is what SCDP lives and breathes.
    • The creative team is contemptuous of the arrival of the room-sized IBM computer in "The Monolith."

    J - R 
  • Jerkass:
    • All the men are either this or the Butt Monkey (or both), but particularly Lee Garner Jr. and Joan's husband.
    • Howard Dawes. Not only is he an adulterer, it is eventually revealed that he has subjected his wife to electroshock therapy on multiple occasions. The most recent issue that prompted this: she became depressed after discovering that her husband was cheating on her.
  • Joisey: Of the "Shore-As-Place-Where-Rich-White-New-Yorkers-Go-In-The-Summer" flavor: Betty's family has a house on Cape May, and her father seems to live there much if not most of the time. Of course, the Hofstadts are rich white Philadelphians, but same difference.
    • Also, in Season 2, Paul Kinsey lives in Montclair.
    • In "Waterloo", little Julio cries "I don't want to go to Newark!" and Peggy shoots back with "No one does!".
  • Kansas City Shuffle: See Batman Gambit, above.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: What Don decides after having a panic attack over the possibility that his might be discovered.
    • In Season 5 we find out that Don learned a lesson from his problems with Betty and told his new wife about Dick Whitman.
    • And at the end of Season 6 a humbled and jobless Don is telling his children about his past.
  • Kick the Dog: No puppy is safe! Duck almost makes this trope literal.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Most of the male leads, but especially Pete. It's hard to feel bad for Pete Campbell a lot of the time, considering his treatment of his wife, his smug egocentric personality, and his patronization of anyone who isn't Don.
  • Lack of Empathy: When Roger's mother dies, he's not only callously unaffected, he's also annoyed by his secretary genuinely mourning over his loss.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Serial adulterer Don Draper falls hard for Megan at the end of Season 4 and in Season 5 is still devoted to her. By season 6, he's cheating on her too.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: It would be very hard to start watching the show now and completely avoid the knowledge that Don will eventually marry Megan.
  • Latin Lover: The caretaker Pete hires for his mother. It turns out that he's gay—which does not stop him from marrying her, and apparently chucking her off a cruise ship.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility:
    • Pete gets Peggy pregnant on the first time, but his wife who wants a baby has trouble conceiving.
    • Betty gets pregnant by Don precisely when she doesn't want to.
    • Joan gets pregnant by Roger a few weeks too late to be able to pass it off as her husband's, though she's sure going to try.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "The Better Half" Bobby exclaims "I'm Bobby #5!", referring to all the Bobbys at his summer camp. He then explains that Bobby #1 went home. As noted in The Other Darrin below, the actor playing Bobby is the fourth to play that role.
  • Leaning on the Furniture: Roger Sterling. Scenes with Roger, Cooper and Don have a tendency to look like rounds of "Sitting, Standing, Leaning".
  • Left the Background Music On: See Diegetic Switch above.
  • Literary Allusion Title:
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Nobody tells Anna that she's dying.
  • The Mafia/Kosher Nostra: Faye Miller's father is apparently a "handsome, two-bit gangster" who knows every restaurant owner in Manhattan. (Faye is apparently supposed to be an assimilated Jew—see Informed Judaism, above—but since the Jewish and Italian Mobs often worked together, both tropes apply.)
  • Magical Negro: Betty has a slight tendency to see black housemaids as this, seeking their sage advice; particularly true respecting her father's housemaid Viola (who had apparently taken care of the Hofstadt household for a long time. Viola's advice, it must be admitted, is pretty good.
  • Male Gaze: Witnessed many times, and depicted especially nicely (if depressingly) with the storyline about the Patio ad. Peggy, the lone female copywriter, objects to sexualizing women in an ad aimed at women, but gets overruled.
    • One of the best examples of deconstructing the Male Gaze is the scene in "Babylon" where Joan bends over very slowly and knowingly in front of mirrored glass, displaying her, ah, assets for all the male execs to see.
    • In "The Better Half" a gas station attendant delays servicing Don's car because he's too busy staring at Betty's ass.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Ted Chaough, the Don Draper of rival ad agency CGC. Claims Don's "got him in his rear-view mirror", engineers a meeting with Don at Benihana and sends Don a bottle of sake claiming victory after Roger sinks SCDP's chances of landing the Honda account. Then in Season 5 he steals Peggy Olson away from SCDP (see Benevolent Boss above).
  • Manly Tears: Don's breakdown in "The Suitcase."
    • Roger at the end of "The Doorway" when he receives the shoeshine kit from the shoeshine guy who has died, but is obviously also crying about his mother's death earlier in the episode.
  • The Man: In "Tea Leaves" Megan notices the squareness of Don's suit and Don says he has to look like this.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: It seems like the men of Sterling Cooper spend more time on hanky-panky than on advertising.
  • Married to the Job: Peggy starts to show hints of this in "The Suitcase," although it really is Mark's fault for bringing along Peggy's hated family.
    Joan: I've learned a long time a go not to get all my satisfaction from this job.
    Peggy: That's bullshit!
    [Both laugh]
    • After Peggy has broken up with both Abe and Chaough in Season 6, and taken over Don's office and assumed the pose that ends the opening credits, she seems more and more to be Married To The Job.
    • Joan herself is showing signs of this—she freaks out about getting replaced in the Season 5 premiere and is aching to get back to work.
  • Match Cut: John Slattery, the director of Season 5 episode "Signal 30", seems to like these. This episode featured a Match Cut with Ken opening a door, cutting to Pete in the same position opening a different door, and an audio Match Cut from a woman tapping her shoes to Pete Campbell's dripping faucet.
  • Meaningful Echo/Strange Minds Think Alike: It's constantly happening to Don that someone unwittingly says something that gets right at the heart of whatever's torturing him at the moment.
  • Meaningful Name: Don Draper, first and last.
  • Mile-High Club: Pete and his new girlfriend Bonnie do it in an airliner bathroom in Season 7's "The Strategy."
  • The Mistress:
    • All of Don's girlfriends before his divorce could be said to be this, except for the also-married Bobbi and Sylvia. Suzanne, the schoolteacher that he forms a genuine emotional bond with, might be the most typical example of this trope.
    • Jane is also this before she becomes Roger's trophy wife.
  • The Missus and the Ex: Betty can't stand the idea of Don rebuilding his life with another woman and she is particularly mean and malignant whenever Megan is involved or crosses her path in season 5. By season six, her feelings have softened considerably, even referring to Megan as "that poor girl."
  • Model United Nations: Sally and Julie's reason for being in Manhattan in "Favors" is—at least theoretically—a Model UN conference. Betty and Henry disapprove, albeit for differing reasons; Henry thinks the UN is a joke and says Sally should've joined Model Congress, while Betty thinks Sally only joined so she could hang out with boys away from adult eyes. (This is more or less true—although it's truer of Julie, as Sally's rattling off of facts about the Philippines shows she actually seems to have taken it somewhat seriously—and it's quite frankly true to life.)
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • "Guy Walks into an Advertising Agency": Starts out as a farewell party to Joan, who tries her best to disguise her dissatisfaction with leaving Sterling Cooper (people think she's overwhelmed with the goodbyes) when HOLY CRAP WHAT JUST HAPPENED
    • In "The Arrangements", after Don takes away the World War I German helmet Gene gave to Bobby, Gene pulls a fan out of his box of memorabilia, opens it, and says, "There was this girl...", followed by a cut to the next scene.
    • In Season 5's "Christmas Waltz", the plotline with Harry reuniting with Paul starts out being humorous, what with Paul becoming a member of the Krishnas, only to become more bleak once it becomes clear just how broken Paul has become.
    • "The Crash" is twenty minutes of speed-induced hilarity, forty minutes of demonstrating why getting high isn't that great. Nobody gets any work done, Stan has sex with a minor, Don leaves his kids unattended, and everybody makes a fool of themselves.
    • At the end of "The Other Woman," Peggy quits SCDP and bids a very sad goodbye to Don...and then The Kinks start singing "You Really Got Me" as she gets into the elevator.
  • Morality Pet: Anna Draper to Don.
  • Mushroom Samba:
    • Roger and Jane try LSD in "Far Away Places." Roger likes it more than Jane.
    • "The Crash" in Season 6 is an even more blatant one, where the entire office does speed to allow them to stay up for one weekend straight, and it's made very unclear what is actually happening and what is just a drug/sleep-deprivation-induced hallucination.
    • And in "A Tale of Two Cities" in Season 6, Don's hash-smoking experience, which ends with a near-death experience.
  • Must Have Caffeine: When the characters don't have a drink in their hand, they have a cup of coffee in their hand.
  • The Mutiny: The formation of SCDP at the end of Season 3.
  • My Beloved Smother:
    • Peggy's mother.
    • Also Betty's, who seems to be mostly responsible for Betty's huge complex about physical appearances.
    • Joan's mom, though she's more along the lines of simply meddling, since she really seems to want to be there for Joan and has her best interests at heart.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Don, after learning that his brother committed suicide shortly after Don bribed him into leaving him alone. He has another moment at the end of "Commissions and Fees", when he learns that he drove Lane to suicide.
  • My Nayme Is: Ted Chaough, pronounced "Shaw".
    Roger: Hey, writers, how many extra vowels is that?
  • Mysterious Past: Don, at first.
    • Bob Benson in Season 6.
  • Naked in Mink: In "Dark Shadows" Pete dreams of seeing his one-night-stand Beth (played by Alexis Bledel) like this.
  • Never Live It Down: In-Universe:
    • SCDP is the ad agency that ran over a guy's foot with a lawn mower.
    • Don's anti-tobacco ad. Two and a half seasons later, it's still costing the agency business.
  • Never Gets Drunk: Don, prior to Season 4.
  • New Year Has Come: Season 6 premiere "The Doorway" ends with Dec. 31-Jan. 1, 1967-68. Don and Megan have some neighbors over for a New Year's party.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In "For Immediate Release", Don insults Jaguar representative Herb one too many times, costing SCDP the account that was keeping them afloat. Even Joan gets upset with Don over this, as it means that her sleeping with Herb had no purpose.
    • In "In Care Of", Don realizes how much of an ass he's been and decides to quit drinking and become a better husband and father. He winds up ruining his relationship with Megan and costs the agency a chance at getting the Hershey account. The latter is the last straw for the other partners, who force him to go on indefinite leave.
  • No Hero to His Valet: The secretaries are privy to information about their bosses that could easily ruin them in some cases.
  • No Periods, Period: Messily averted when Sally has her first period while at the museum in "Commissions and Fees".
  • No Pregger Sex: Averted during one of Don's flashback scenes in Season 6 when his heavily pregnant aunt has sex with the owner of a brothel.
  • Not So Different: Peggy tries to tell Abe in "The Beautiful Girls" that what blacks go through isn't that different to what she goes through. The comparison falls a little flat, though:
    Peggy: Most of the things Negroes can't do, I can't do either...the Union Club? They said I couldn't eat dinner there, and that the only way I could even come in was if I was inside a cake.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: In "At the Codfish Ball," Bobby asks Emil Calvet if he gives a lot of shots. Dr. Calvet replies that he isn't a medical doctor, but a professor, and Don explains this trope to Bobby:
    Don: When you have a high degree in any field, they call you a doctor. It's from the Middle Ages.
    Emil: That's right.
  • No Yay: In-universe, Don and Peggy attempt to play a playful bickering couple in order to sell a Cool Whip ad. It bombs spectacularly.
  • Odd Friendship: Joan and Lane Pryce, who run into rough patches initially (in "The Good News"), but who are acknowledged by the junior employees as "basically running" SCDP.
    • Further solidified in "A Little Kiss" when Joan breaks down to Lane about missing her job and people thinking that they didn't need her.
    • Lane makes a pass at Joan before killing himself. Later, a remorseful Joan wonders why she didn't go along with it.
  • Oh Crap:
    • You have to feel for Don when Betty confronts him about the contents of his desk drawer. When someone on this show is shaking badly enough to drop a cigarette, you know they're suffering.
    • Season 4's "Hands and Knees" is full of this, from Don's utter panic when he finds out about the background check to Roger's similar panic when he finds out that Lucky Strike, still a huge part of SCDP's business, is moving to another agency.
    • Peggy's expression in the Life cereal meeting when she hears Don accidentally steal Danny's tagline while spitballing.
    • This is Pete's expression when he sees Peggy and Trudy talking to each other.
    • Season 5's "Far Away Places"; when Don is unable to find Megan back at the Howard Johnson, he expects the worst.
    • Lane Pryce when Don hands him the check with his forged signature.
    • In Season 6's "Favors" when Sally walks in on Don and Sylvia having sex, their reactions afterward give us one of the biggest "Oh Crap" moments of the series.
  • Off The Wagon: Duck, with dire consequences.
  • Old, New, Borrowed and Blue: Jane's gift to Margaret for her wedding. Very much not appreciated.
  • On the Next: With a supernatural ability to air random bits while not actually giving the viewer an idea of what's going to happen.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: In "A Little Kiss" Harry thinks that Roger called him into his office to fire him. Roger is actually trying to convince Harry to swap offices with Pete and assumes that Harry already knows about his intent.
  • One Drink Will Kill the Baby: Averted by Betty and other pregnant women. Accurate for the time period.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, with Burt Peterson and Bertram "Bert" Cooper, despite the spelling difference.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: It happens a fair number of times, but the first half of Season 4—Don's downward spiral—includes more than its fair share, culminating in two events in "Waldorf Stories": (1) he actually gets drunk—apparently blackout drunk—and makes a pitch to Quaker Oats that he had previously derided as stupid (it works, forcing him to take on some idiot who shouldn't be at SCDP)note  and (2) he seduces his secretary Allison, something which he would have frowned upon in earlier seasons from more or less anyone, let alone himself. These together convince him to get his act together, which he starts doing in "The Summer Man"
  • Orphaned Punchline: Lampshaded by Roger in "The Wee Hours."
    Pete: (walking in) So the hillbilly says, "That's not my finger!"
    Roger: I'll have to hear the beginning of that sometime.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: In "Waterloo", Bert's performance of "The Best Things in Life are Free" is implied to take place in Don's head, but Bert's office door is open before the vision starts and remains closed after Bert shuts it at the end of the performance, the implication being that Don really was visited by Bert's ghost.
  • Over Crank: When Don arrives in Los Angeles in the season 7 premiere, Megan meets him at the airport and she gets out of her cool new sports car convertible, wearing a sexy baby doll minidress and kisses him in slow motion, as the Spencer Davis Group's "I'm a Man" plays.
  • Overly Long Name: The name for the new firm becomes a problem, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Cutler Gleason and Chaough it's a mouthful, and so is SCDPCGC, so the owners settle for Sterling Cooper and Partners or SC&P.
  • Parent with New Paramour: After Betty's mother dies, her father takes up with a new woman, whom Betty determinedly hates.
    • Sally Draper initially does not like Betty's new husband, Henry Francis, or his family. In fairness to Henry, he tries to be kind to Sally and encourages Betty to do the same; it's just that Sally still sees him as a manifestation of Betty's hatred for Don. Curiously, her brother Bobby doesn't seem to have this problem.
    • Bobby has fully taken to Henry as a father figure as evidenced when he expresses worry to Don about Henry's safety during the MLK riots.
    • Margaret Sterling hates Jane, who is only two years older than her. Although, considering Jane's onslaught of unwanted showy gifts and borderline-creepy marriage advice, delivered to Margaret right before her own wedding, you can kind of see her point.
  • Parental Issues: Hoo boy.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: In "Six Months Leave", Don, Roger and Freddy Rumsen go to an underground casino. Roger gives the password "Swordfish" to the bouncer at the elevator. Roger has to bribe the bouncer to prove they aren't cops; it turns out the password is actually "Milwaukee".
  • Pet the Dog: Several. Pete, however, gets a lot in Season 3 (his startlingly progressive—if business-oriented—positions on race and his enthusiastic Charleston with Trudy, for starters) as a result of Character Development.
  • Playboy Bunny: Lane Pryce dates one.
  • Plucky Office Girl: Peggy began as one of these.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Lou Avery, Don's replacement at SC&P, is an incompetent asshole who blames others for his own mistakes.
  • Polyamory:
    • Season 7A premiere "Time Zones" reveals that Roger has some sort of polyamorous group relationship going on at home. In his first scene there are about a half-dozen naked people lying around. Later in the episode he gets in bed with a woman and another man.
    • When Roger finds out a few episodes later ("The Monolith") that his daughter has abandoned her family to live in a hippie sex commune, he doesn't take it well.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Peggy finds flowers on her secretary Shirley's desk on Valentine's Day. Peggy assumes that the flowers were sent to her by a secret admirer. When she asks Shirley who the flowers are from, Shirley tries to explain that they are from her own fiance, but she doesn't have the heart to tell Peggy this. Peggy assumes that Ted sent the flowers and sends him an angry call telling him that "that account" is lost forever. Ted assumes that Peggy is actually talking about a real account and is somewhat worried for the agency.
  • Precision F-Strike: Roger delivers one in response to Pete Campbell telling him they've lost a $4 million account.
  • Precocious Crush: Glen for Betty. Later Mitchell, the son of Don's season 6 mistress.
  • Pretty in Mink: Quite a few furs show up.
  • Previously On
  • Pride: This turns out to be Lane Pryce's undoing. The man started the series as a bit of a Chew Toy who is used as a hatchet man by his bosses and never given the recognition he deserves. In America he finds the freedom to pursue his own goals and becomes a founding partner of Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce. He is justifiably proud of his achievements but his pride soon leads him to make questionable decisions. When a business downturn forces the partners to put more money into the company, he commits all his assets to the venture and does not tell anyone about his difficult financial position. More importantly he fails to pay his taxes and a year later has to make a very large lump payment that would bankrupt him. Don would have been more than happy to lend Lane the money but Lane's pride prevents him from asking for a loan. Instead he forges a check to get an advance on a bonus. When bonuses are canceled he cannot return the money and Don fires him when he finds out about the embezzlement. Lane hangs himself in his office rather than face the disgrace. Lane was no longer willing to "suffer the little humiliations" that his life was filled with before he became successful and thus was not able to ask for help when he most needed it.
  • Primal Scene:
    • In season 5's "At the Codfish Ball," at the hotel where the award banquet is being held, Sally walks into a room and sees Megan's mom Marie giving Roger a blowjob (remember, Roger is probably her favorite—if honorary—uncle). They don't see her and she is still stunned when she returns to their table. When she calls Glen up later and he asks how was the city, she answers, "Dirty."
    • In "Favors" Sally walks in on Don and Sylvia. This ruins what little faith Sally had in her father.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Bob Benson in Season 6. In a broader sense, as Roger puts it, the job description of an account executive consists of roping in a client, being overly obsequious, and sucking it up to him no matter how outrageous the client may be.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Kiernan Shipka, who plays Sally Draper, in Season 4. Jessica Pare, who plays Megan, in Season 5.
  • Pun-Based Title: And in-universe, too!
    Mad Men
    A term coined in the late 1950's to describe the advertising executives of Madison Avenue.
    They coined it.
    —Opening of the pilot, "Smoke Gets Into Your Eyes"
  • Punny Name: Dick Whitman gets his name (unbeknownst to his family) from his mother's fondest wish - cutting off his father's dick and boiling it in hog fat for getting her pregnant.
  • Put on a Bus: Sal Romano's fate remains unknown after SC fired him in Season 3.
  • Racist Grandma:
    • Pete's mother. He tells Bob Benson when he recommends Manolo as a caretaker when her dementia takes its toll that she'll only accept if he's "Spanish from Spain."
    • Joan's mother, now a grandma since Joan has a baby, pipes up in "The Strategy" that "the Jews close everything on Sunday".
  • Rage Quit: In "Blowing Smoke", Bert Cooper of all people. He gets over it.
    Stan: I didn't think they'd start with him.
  • Raging Stiffie: Unapologetic sexist Stan suggests that he and Peggy "get liberated" and take their clothes off during a brainstorming session. Peggy surprises him by taking him up on it, and Stan gets an erection, much to his embarassment.
  • Raised Catholic:
    • Peggy's family is strictly Catholic, and her attempts at living a more modern life create friction with her sister and mother.
    • Megan finds hard to reconcile her upbringing with her desire for emancipation, especially when she gets pregnant. The stern nuns at her Catholic school indoctrinated her against the evils of abortion.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: Joan's Bad Date isn't shown. The camera pulls away and we see what she's seeing: the floor under the sofa.
  • Rape as Drama: Joan gets raped by her fiance in Don's office.
  • Rated M for Manly: Don Draper is the epitome of suave masculinity; men want to be him and women with him. He's a Memetic Sex God both in-universe and out-universe, where incidentally he is often referred to as the man and articles or list providing tips about how to be like him are common. Seasons 1-3 build this image up. Seasons 4-6 are dedicated to tearing that image down. A global deconstruction, given that below the smooth surface lies a pretty damaged individual.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • Some viewers found Peggy being pregnant without realizing it at the end of Season 1 to be asinine and completely unrealistic; but 'surprise pregnancies' actually do happen.
    • Season 5 opens with African-American protestors getting doused with paper bag water bombs by employees of Young & Rubicam, one of SCDP's (non-fictional) competitors, who then march upstairs to complain and catch the pranksters red handed. The scene ends with a protestor remarking "And they call us savages!" Several critics chided the scene, claiming it was ham-handed, especially the final line... only for it to be revealed that that event actually happened exactly how it was depicted, including the infamous line. Most of the critics who initially criticized the scene stuck to their guns, however, saying that the scene was still ham-handed even if it was true.
  • Really Gets Around: Virtually everybody's favorite pastime. You need a scorecard to keep up with the body count. As of Season 6, Don leads the tally with 17 partners, Roger gets the silver at 9 and Pete the third-spot with 7.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: "I killed seventeen men in Okinawa!", says Duck, the drunken loser.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Roger, to Pete Campbell. Also, Don to Pete in the very first episode. Come to think of it, Pete gets this a lot. Pete finally nails Roger with one in "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword".
    • Don's tend to be short and sweet, as in "My Old Kentucky Home":
      Roger: You know, my mother was right. It's a mistake to be conspicuously happy. Some people don't like it.
      Don: No one thinks you're happy. They think you're foolish.
    • Three seasons after her husband raped her, Joan finally lets him have it in "Mystery Date".
      Joan: You’re not a good man, you never were, even before we were married—and you know what I’m talking about.
    • Joan: unloads one on Don after he scuttles the Jaguar account in "For Immediate Release."
    • Peggy to Ted in "In Care Of:" "Well aren't you lucky - to have *decisions*!"
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: In the season 6 finale, the position in California with Sunkist is seen as such from a career perspective (Peggy even compares it to Siberia). It's subverted however, when a number of SC&P employees vie for the position for personal reasons, including Don and Ted, who both see it as a chance to start their lives over away from the things that are tearing their personal lives apart, with Ted ultimately taking the position as a way to repair his marriage while getting away from Peggy.
  • Refuge in Audacity: the woman who breaks into Don and Megan's apartment in "The Crash" claims to be Sally's grandmother. Sally disbelieves her, partially because she's never heard of her before, and partially because she's black (although the woman claims she wasn't literally Don's mother, but that she raised him all the same).
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Lee Garner Jr., who owns Lucky Strike and seems to show up to make everyone at Sterling-Coop's lives miserable. Crosses the Moral Event Horizon in "Wee Small Hours" when he basically ruins Sal's life out of pettiness. His father scolds him for being clueless about how his own product is made.
    Roger: If Lee Garner wants three wise men flown in from Jerusalem, he gets it.
    • At SCDP's Christmas party, he humiliates Roger and gets friendly with his wife, knowing full well how reliant the agency is on Lucky Strike's account. The next day, Don and Roger refer to him as Hitler.
    Don: [in German accent] Did you enjoy the Fuhrer's birthday?
    Roger: [in German accent] May he live for a thousand years.
  • Right Behind Me: Harry makes sexist comments about Megan to Stan. Megan eventually walks in on them, and Harry ignores Stan's "Hi, Megan!" warning, proceeding to Dig Himself Deeper.
  • Right-Hand Hottie: Lane Pryce's Season 3 "right hand" (NOT "secretary"), John Hooker, is one of these even within the universe: as office manager at Sterling Cooper upon its takeover by Putnam, Powell, and Lowe, he replaces Joan...and is thus in charge of the secretarial pool. The secretaries all swoon over his good looks and sexy British accent. Peggy, on the other hand, calls him "Moneypenny."
  • The Rolling Stones: In "Tea Leaves" Harry and Don make an ill-advised attempt to get them to record a jingle. Don notes they recorded a Rice Krispie cereal ad three years prior.
  • The Rival: Several firms hold this position with varying degrees of amicability. Peggy and "Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough" is probably the most prominent example.
  • Rousing Speech: Don, numerous times. Particularly notable in "Chinese Wall" and "Christmas Waltz." Played for laughs in "The Crash" when the speech is nonsensical due to an injection of amphetamines Don received.
  • Running Gag:
    • Almost everything about Miss Blankenship, particularly her tendency to buzz "[So-and-so] here to see you" right after that person has entered the room and started talking to Don.
    • Harry constantly spoiling people for plot twists in "Peyton Place" .
    • Roger has resorted to bribery to solve his problems in the office three times so far in season 5. After the first time, he laments that he should carry less money on his person - the two subsequent bribes see incrementally less cash change hands.
    • Jaguars are unreliable and don't start when you need them. That led to Lane Pryce using his second choice of suicide methods.
    • Fictional client Secor Laxative brought up each season for comic relief.
    • The pillar in Pete's/Harry's/Peggy's office regularly gets smashed into.

    S - Z 
  • Sanity Slippage: Peggy toward the end of Season 1.
    • Ginsberg full blown in Season 7.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Shirley, contrasted with the more demure Dawn.
  • Satellite Character/The Generic Guy: Ken Cosgrove seems to exist primarily to act as a foil for other characters. Paul Kinsey and Pete Campbell are jealous of Ken's literary ability, Sal Romano is attracted to Ken, and Ken's refusal to mix SCDP business with his personal life in Season 4 serves to contrast with most of the other account men at SCDP. In seven seasons, Ken has had only one storyline: his secret career as a sci-fi writer as revealed in Season 5.
  • Scenery Censor: Roger is nude in "Time Zones", but a very, very carefully placed telephone covers his naughty bits.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Miss Blankenship.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Don tries to help Dr. Rosen's son get a deferment from the draft but quickly realizes that he does not have the connections to accomplish this. It turns out that Ted Chaough does have the right connections and he arranges for the kid to join the Air National Guard instead.
  • Secret Keeper: Numerous people for Don, including Pete, Cooper, Betty, Faye, and Megan.
    • In "Chinese Wall" - and for other secrets a long time beforehand - Joan for Roger.
  • Sex God: Bobbi Barrett confirms that the good things she heard about Don are true. Faye calls Don "Mr. Bond" in bed. Betty tells Don in the first season how much she's physically attracted to him.
  • Sex Sells: Don describes this expression as over-simplifying things ("people who say that think that monkeys can do this"). Basically, he argues, people want to be the product.
  • Sex With The Ex: When Betty and Don go to drop Bobby off at camp (Season 6 Episode 9, "The Better Half"), they have a "camping trip" of their own in Betty's motel room.
  • Sexy Priest: Father Gill. There's even a subtext of an attraction to Peggy, featuring some noticeably frustrated guitar playing on his part after a conversation. Peggy cuts off contact with Father Gill in the last episode of the second season.
  • Sexy Secretary: JOAN. Also, Jane, Megan, Peggy...all of them, really, probably even Miss "queen of perversions" Blankenship back in the day.
  • Sexy Spectacles: Previously Joan has been occasionally seen wearing glasses with thick black frames only when she's home. In "The Phantom," she openly wears a pair of cat eye glasses with a chain around her neck at the partners meeting.
  • Sexy Stewardess:
    • One is almost a conquest of Don's in "Out of Town", until a fire alarm interrupts.
    • Roger is sleeping with one in season 6. She tips him off that there is a GM executive waiting in the airport lounge due to a flight delay and helps Roger get a meeting with Chevy about a new ad campaign.
  • Sexy Walk: Nearly all of the women, even the housewives, but especially Joan. Peggy is a notable semi-exception.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Being the 1960s, a smart three-piece suit is practically a must for men in business. Don epitomizes this trope, but pretty much all male staff in the corporate world, outside most of creative, are always seen in suits of different cuts. The optional fedoras and trilbies, waistcoats, and overcoats during the colder months, may add to the look.
  • She's Got Legs: Megan does a sexy song and dance for Don while wearing a very short miniskirt and fishnet stockings at his surprise party.
  • Ship Sinking:
    • For Pete and Peggy in the season two finale.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Don kisses Joan square on the mouth when he wins the Clio in "Waldorf Stories."
    • After Joan gets served with divorce papers in "Christmas Waltz", Don takes her out on the town. They pretend to be married and buy a Jaguar, then go to a bar and talk about their terrible relationships and why they never got together. There is a moment when Don propositions her, and Joan almost accepts, but Don leaves her to return home to Megan.
    • Don and Peggy spend one half of "The Suitcase" acting like an old married couple. Actually, there's really no living female body on this show that Don hasn't seemed on a course to bed down with at least once (with the possible exception of Ms. Blankenship).
    • Lane kisses Joan after he punches out Pete in "Signal 30".
    • Chaough kisses Peggy in "For Immediate Release". In that same episode, Peggy has an Imagine Spot where she makes out with Chaough instead of Abe. They eventually have sex in the season 6 finale.
    • Peggy and Stan make out in "The Crash". Subverted when Peggy realizes that Stan is willing to sleep with just about anyone if it helps get his mind off of his cousin's death in Vietnam.
    • Joan Harris and Bob Benson. Bob is at Joan's apartment as the both of them are about to go on a picnic together. This after Bob takes Joan to the hospital when she accidentally drinks furniture polish.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "The Mountain King", a brief scene from the 1951 version of The Day The Earth Stood Still aired on Joan's television. The episode itself was first broadcast around the time the 2008 version of the film (which co-starred Jon Hamm) played in theaters.
    • In "Out of Town", while looking at an advertisement for whiskey (showing a man walking down the street with a bottle of whiskey almost as big as himself, Don makes an excellent subtle one to The Lost Weekend:
    Don: [looking at a whiskey ad] Can you believe this? What is the world coming to?
    Sal: That is a big bottle.
    Don: That's not a bottle, that's a date.
    Sal: 'My oh my, what a big bottle you have.'
    Don: 'Sorry honey, but I'm taken. I just pawned my typewriter so we can be together all weekend.'
    • In "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword", Sally Draper is watching "The Man from U.N.C.L.E" at a friend's house, and masturbating to Ilya Kuryakin.
    • Don describes himself as "a Felix who wants to be an Oscar".
    • There are several references to James Bond, a classy, suave and lecherous gentleman with a rough side, much like Don:
    • Hm, a sexy secretary named Holloway? I wonder where they got that name from...
    • In one episode (mid-Season 2, at the country club), someone in a side-conversation sighs and complains about "upper-class problems" (or similar, shoutout to the "First World Problems" meme).
    • In "A Little Kiss," Don sends his kids off to their mom's house with, "Say hi to Morticia and Lurch for me."
    • In "Mystery Date," Peggy says she was discovered in the secretarial pool "like Esther Blodgett".
    • After coming back from a vacation in Hawaii, Don is asked by Roger if he was "chased down an alleyway with a switchblade by Ernest Borgnine."
    • A very subtle one to 30 Rock in "To Have and to Hold." Ted Chaough sits down at a bar and orders an "Old Spanish," a fictional cocktail that originated on 30 Rock.
    • David Ogilvy, the original real-life Mad-man and his influential 1963 work Confessions of an Advertising Man are mentioned a few times. Roger compares himself favorably to Ogilvy when pitching his own book.
    • Don takes his son to see Planet of the Apes and they watch it twice. Roger tries to emulate the experience with his grandchild, but the 4-year-old boy gets a bit traumatized by the movie.
    • In "The Runaways," Michael Ginsberg spies Lou and Cutler talking in the computer room, unable to hear what they're saying and seeing their lips, the camera panning back and forth to each other, just like in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Shown Their Work: Along with the general period research, the show employs two former real-life ad men to help them create the business deals and ad campaigns.
    • The incident where Y&R ad men pelt civil rights protestors with water balloons is based on a real incident. In a case of Reality Is Unrealistic, several critics lambasted the scene for being ham-handed, even after they learned it actually happened.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang:
    • Open-minded free spirit Anna Draper's sister is uptight and conservative.
    • Peggy is a modern, liberated career girl, while her sister is a traditional Catholic housewife who resents Peggy for this.
  • Sideboob: Megan nestling up to Don in "A Little Kiss" is as close to nudity as Mad Men will get.
    • Until Betty gets out of the tub in "Tea Leaves", the very next episode.
    • Then Pete's lover Beth does this in "The Phantom". Season 5 was heavy on sideboob.
    • Roger's young girlfriend Daisy in "For Immediate Release."
  • Simultaneous Arcs: "Far Away Places" uses this to show a single day from Peggy, Roger and Don's perspectives.
  • The Sixties: Get their start in Season 4. If you don't believe us, look at the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce logo. Just look at it! Look at Peggy's little trip to what appears to be an outpost of the Factory or (for that matter) what she wore to it. There's also Roger Sterling's new office, seemingly straight from the mind of Eero Saarinen himself, decked out in black, white, clear glass, and chrome, with circles everywhere and hardly a straight line to be found. Also underscored by Don's new mod apartment and the new Mrs. Draper in a miniskirt. Hippies show up for the first time in Season 6.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Don and Megan's fights tend to turn into very angry foreplay.
  • Sleep Cute: In "The Suitcase", Don and Peggy falling asleep on each other in Don's office.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: This is a frequent occurrence. Roger and Don have a habit of sleeping with their secretaries and both married one of them after divorcing their first wives. Peggy had a one night stand with Pete when she was still a secretary, and people falsely assume that she was promoted to copywriter because she slept with Don. Megan is propositioned by her female boss when she gets an acting job on a soap opera.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: Level 5 (Full Lockout). The ongoing story of Don Draper and the firm of Sterling Cooper.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Rather firmly in the middle, with the slightest lean towards cynicism: despite the downer endings and shadiness, the characters are too complex for the series to fall anywhere else.
  • Sliding Scale of Shiny Versus Gritty: Quite shiny, most of the time. Most of the main characters are either corporate executives or corporate executives' wives, for God's sake! More specifically, Matthew Weiner is interested in using the "visual vocabulary" of the early Sixties, which had the slightest tendency to over-shiny things, but on account of the realistic depiction, it provides a bit of dissonance.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Don falls victim to an Outlaw Couple of thieves in a hotel room ("Seven Twenty-Three").
  • Slouch of Villainy: Though Roger Sterling is not much of a villain, his remarkable assholism is often underscored by his postures when he's using a chair or a couch. The credits, art box DVDs and promotional materials feature images and scenes of Don reclined on a couch in a decidedly antiheroic, jaded way.
  • Slut Shaming: The men are free to romp, so long as they're discreet, and other men don't particularly care, but if a woman steps one toe over the line, she's torn apart. Peggy Olson gets it particularly bad from her family and her priest, for having a baby out of wedlock.
    • Somewhat Inverted, in that men's 'romps' tend to be much more destructive to others around them, which often comes back to bite them in the ass, like when Don finds out that he has a reputation as a good, easy lay.
    • And surprisingly subverted in "The Other Woman": Joan sleeps with the Jaguar exec to get the account, and neither Lane nor Don approve, but none of the men is shown treating her with any less respect than they had before. Pete actually seems to respect her more.
      • They had to, since the partners – with the exception of Don - were the ones who coerced her into doing it. Joan's visibly uncomfortable with the whole thing before and during the act, but only accepted it because of the financial security for her and her son (she got a raise and a voting equity stake in the partnership out of it).
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Fairly frequently; in fact, barely five minutes into the first episode. Duck in particular seems to be fond of the practice.
  • Smoking Is Cool: SO damn cool. The dashingly beautiful cast doing it helps a lot on emphasizing this. However, there are also a lot of shots of the characters coughing in the morning, or while smoking, effectively deconstructing the trope while still looking cool on a superficial level.
  • Smug Snake: Duck Phillips and Pete Campbell. St. John Powell in Season 3 is another example.
  • Son of a Whore: Dick Whitman.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Roger Sterling might be the patron saint of this trope.
    "I wanna tell you something because you're very dear to me. And I hope you understand it comes from the bottom of my damaged, damaged heart. You are the finest piece of ass I ever had, and I don't care who knows it."
  • Spiritual Successor: Many of Don Draper's traits have been traced back to Tony Soprano (to name a few; duality, chronic and casual infidelity, a broken ace with a blonde Stepford Smiler wife, parental issues, childhood traumas). Creator Matthew Weiner was The Sopranos producer and main co-writer for years. Both shows share a fair number of narrative and artistic elements and Matthew Weiner has compared Peggy's standing at Sterling Cooper as Don's protegee to his own standing while working under David Chase on The Sopranos. Notably, the series was first pitched to Chase for HBO, but Weiner, as Peggy, had to move on without his mentor.
  • Spontaneous Choreography: See Sudden Musical Ending below.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Glen Bishop. First to Betty in seasons one and two, and as of season four to Sally. The stalker gets overcome, as Glen's relationship with Sally ends up being a fairly innocent friendship.
  • Standard '50s Father: Subverted by Don. Recall the first episode: Look at this high-flying, brilliant, hard-drinking, hard-smoking, philandering, single ad—wait a minute, he's married? And has kids? What is this, some kind of twisted Leave It to Beaver? Unlike Mister Cleaver, he is most definitely not a paragon of American virtue, what with the affairs, stolen identity, etc., etc., etc. Oh, and the divorce. Let's not forget he drove his wife to divorce. (Or perhaps she drove herself to it. Whatever). In Season 4 Don makes the rather poignant admission that he's uncomfortable around his kids but still misses them when they're not visiting.
  • Start My Own: Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
  • Stealing from the Till: Lane Pryce owes the British government a large amount of money in back taxes and he is so scared of Inland Revenue that he embezzles from the company to pay them back. The British tax authorities are very harsh on Pryce because he paid his US taxes before he paid his UK taxes.
  • Stealth Insult: Sally's new therapist tells Betty to call her Dr. Edna, just like the kids do; suggesting she recognizes Betty as immature and childlike.
  • Stealth Pun: "Every job has its ups and downs." Said by Hollis, the elevator attendant.
    • Herb Rennet's wife's nickname is Peaches... as in the musical duo Peaches and Herb.
  • Stepford Smiler: In one way or another, just about all the women:
    • Betty Draper is the name that most immediately springs to mind.
    • Joan in all of season 3, especially on her last day at Sterling-Cooper.
    • Trudy Campbell. Despite some Character Development, she still relentlessly pursues the suburban dream, glossing over her husband's weaknesses and infidelities and ignoring his wishes to remain in Manhattan.
    • A recurring exception seems to be the women Don tends to cheat on his wife with, perhaps precisely because they aren't an example of this.
  • Stepford Suburbia: Played to the hilt, whether it's narrow-minded suburbanites like Betty's friend Francine, Betty and Don's horrible marriage inside their seemingly perfect Ossining home, or the rapid deterioration in Pete and Trudy's marriage after they leave the city for the burbs.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Lane Pryce. He is so imperturbable that he practically deserves a medal for his sheer equanimity.
  • The Stoic: Don, to the point that it's startling whenever he does show any emotion.
  • Straight Gay: The Belle Jolie man in Season 1, although he gets slightly Camper in his "date" with Sal.
  • Subtext: Deserves special mention because the show doesn't just rely on this, but requires it. The setting actively forbids anyone from saying what they mean. More often than not, conversations and fights are about something else entirely. This is why the show is hailed as genius. This and the humor. And the drama. And the pretty people.
  • Sudden Musical Ending: Easily one of the weirdest ever, as "Waterloo", and Season 7A of the show, end with Bert Cooper singing "The Best Things in Life Are Free", complete with secretarial backup dancers, completely out of nowhere. To make things even weirder, Bert passed away earlier in the episode.
  • Suicide Is Painless: Subverted in "Commissions and Fees". The scene where Lane tries to kill himself by stuffing the tailpipe of his Jaguar with a rag and asphyxiating himself is played like this, but then the attempt fails. Lane's actual suicide - by hanging - is played with no music whatsoever, just dialogue and horrified reactions when first Joan, then Pete, and finally Don and Roger, discover his body.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: Frequently.
  • Sweet and Sour Grapes: Season 3 ends with Pete finally agreeing to adopt. He finally gets Trudy pregnant in Season 4.
  • Take That:
    • "I wouldn't have told Roger if I intended it to remain a secret."
    • It's George Romney that Henry Francis was talking about, of course, but it can't be a coincidence that in episode "Tea Leaves", airing in the spring of 2012, Henry says "Romney's a clown".
    • Megan lambasts Dark Shadows in the episode of that name, which just happened to air the same weekend that the Dark Shadows movie was released.
  • Tantrum Throwing:
    • Long-suffering secretary Allison throws a vase at Don in "The Rejected" when he engages in a Rant Inducing Slight and suggests she write her own reference letter.
    • After being dumped by Glo-Coat, Don throws his CLIO award across the office in "Chinese Wall." Megan later fishes it out of the trash and repairs it.
    • Megan throws a plate of pasta against the wall when Don comes home late in "Christmas Waltz."
    • "Surprise, there's an airplane here to see you!" in "Christmas Waltz"
    • Don throws money in Peggy's face in "The Other Woman."
    • An angry Don throws his office phone into the bar cart in "The Crash."
    • After a particularly frustrating meeting in "The Monolith," Don throws his typewriter into the wall of his office.
  • Tarot Troubles: Anna gives Don a reading in "The Mountain King".
  • Teeth Clinched Teamwork: Petty and professional rivalries run wild all over the office, where moments of abrasiveness can be followed by a mutual understanding. In season 6, the SCDP and CGC partners retain a mindset that makes them work like two different entities for a while.
    Ted: Imagine if every time Ginger Rogers jumped in the air, Fred Astaire punched her in the face.
  • Three-Way Sex: Don has this nearly forced on him by Megan (and Megan's attractive friend Amy) in "The Runaways".
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Used many times, particularly with Don. Notable examples:
    • The ensemble at the end of "At the Codfish Ball."
    • Don in "Commissions and Fees."
    • Pete in "Meditations in an Emergency."
    • Don in "The Good News."
    • Lane in "Commissions and Fees."
  • Titled After the Song: The first episode is titled after one of The Platter's signature songs: "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes."
  • Title Drop:
    • Roughly one-third of all episodes have their titles dropped in one way or another. The most prominent example is probably "Shut the Door, Have a Seat."
    • "The Phantom" is used by Megan's mother as a metaphor for how Megan keeps trying to do things that she is unable to do.
  • The Three Faces of Adam: Pete is the Hunter: hungry, ambitious, seeking more wealth and more power, advocating risky business moves. Don is the Lord: he makes partner in Season 1, and is officially at the top of his field; he wants to be great, but he now has so much to lose (and he loses a lot). Cooper is the Prophet, satisfied with his life (except for that operation), wanting only to secure his legacy in the form of leaving a healthy firm. Roger is in the middle of transitioning from Lord to Prophet: at first uncomfortable with his increasing irrelevance, he gradually settles in to a role as "Professor Emeritus of Accounts" and leaves the heavy lifting to Pete and Ken.
  • Three-Way Sex: Don, Megan, and Megan's friend Amy in Season 7's "The Runaways—at Megan's insistence.
  • Token Minority: In-universe with two different minorities. The sarcastic "equal opportunity employer" ad in Season 5 premiere "A Little Kiss" basically forces lily-white SCDP to integrate, and in "Tea Leaves" Dawn the secretary has been hired as their first black employee. In the same episode, SCDP hires a Jewish copywriter, which Roger thinks makes the business seem more "modern". (In the first season Sterling Cooper had to pluck some random Jewish employee out of the mailroom when meeting with the Jewish owners of Menken's department store.)
    • Dawn is basically the Token Minority in a meta-sense as well, given her lack of storyline (apart from that one scene with Peggy) and the continuing whiteness of the rest of the cast. She does get some background characterization, which is more than we can say about the other secretaries (except, of course, for the ones who are no longer secretaries). Also, by Season 7, she is also joined by another black secretary.
  • Tomato Surprise: The ending of the very first episode. We've been introduced to Don as The Casanova and office hero, and only when we follow him home do we discover the existence of his wife and two young children.
  • Too Soon: Several in-universe examples:
    • The third-season Aqua Net campaign, whose TV spots would've featured two couples in an open convertible, has to be retooled. It had reached the storyboard stage by the JFK assassination.
    • Peggy also notes after Marilyn Monroe's death that it's a good thing their idea of a "Jackie and Marilyn"-themed ad campaign for Playtex bras was turned down, because they'd have had to pull it all immediately.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Peggy in Season 2, she gets Freddy Rumsen's office (much to Harry's chagrin, "I'm head of television!") then in season 3 she bitches about her "girl" to Joan, much like Don does about his "girl" in season 2. Standing up to Roger's imperiousness at the end of Season 3 continues her arc.
    "Peggy, can you get me some coffee?"
    "No."
    • Season 5, Roger tries to get Peggy to come up with an ad campaign on the fly because he forgot to get the dedicated copywriter for his account to do it. Peggy agrees, but only after shaking him down for $400+ (in 1966 money). "The lie costs extra," indeed. She doesn't even take him seriously when he threatens to fire her for not doing it.
    • Joan clocking Greg with that vase just made her even more badass.
    • Pete Campbell, in "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword", verbally eviscerating Roger for his anti-Japanese prejudice.
    • Each season, Betty takes another level.
    • Lane Pryce, at the end of season 3. Goes from being PPL's overly dutiful employee to standing up and basically hijacking SCDP from under their noses.
      "Happy Christmas!"
    • Lane again in "Signal 30" when he beats down Pete for insulting him.
    • In "The Other Woman," Peggy finally gets fed up with Don's mistreatment and leaves the agency for a rival firm. At the episode's end she's seen confidently marching onto the elevator with her box of stuff.
  • Tragic Bigot: Roger Sterling has a deep-seated hatred of the Japanese because he served in the US Navy in World War II's Pacific Theater and is implied to have seen Japanese soldiers commit many horrible brutalities. He purposely sabotages a deal with Honda when his colleagues go behind him for the good of their company and has an emotional talk about it with Joan later on who tells him to leave it behind.
  • Trophy Wife:
    • Jane Siegel Sterling is a perfect example. Roger throws away a decades-long marriage to Mona in order to take up with a sexy young secretary. He soon tires of her, treating her more like a bratty daughter, and in Season 5 they decide to end the marriage.
    • Megan Calvet, the new Mrs. Draper as of Season 5, is a borderline example. The age difference between her and Don, while referenced in the show, is only 14 years, and Megan wants to work with Don in advertising rather than merely look pretty on his arm. When she decides she wants to go back to acting rather than continue as a copywriter, Don is upset—not just because he likes having his wife at work with him (though he does), but because he thinks she has a better future in advertising than acting (her mother agrees), and also he's afraid of losing the progress he's made (he feels if he she isn't with him all the time, he'll be tempted to start cheating again; he's right).
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: An in-universe example. When Cooper hangs a Rothko in his office, the guys worry about what they're supposed to say if he asks them about it. The real reason Bert Cooper bought it was because he expected the price to double in a year and sell it to make a profit.
  • Truth in Television: The show seems to be slapping you in the face with Deliberate Values Dissonance, but things really were like that in the 1960s in a lot of places.
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: Roger tries to pull this off with the models for a Doublemint campaign in Season 1. It's creepy and sad, even before it leads to his heart attack.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm:
    • Duck. It usually doesn't work out for him.
    • Lane Pryce from Putnam, Powell, and Lowe. Though it works for him in the short term, considering he was almost sent to ''Bombay'' by his superiors for doing such a good job. Eventually he turns out to be more of a Bait-and-Switch Tyrant, considering he joins Don, Roger, and Bert to start the new company
  • Unconfessed Unemployment:
    • In Season 4, Roger's entire job boils down to the Lucky Strike account. When Lucky Strike drops SCDP (which may as well mean the death of the company) he keeps it a secret trying to somehow control the disaster. When the truth gets out, Roger puts up a shameful charade trying to keep face.
    • In Season 5: Lane doesn't tell his wife that he's been forced to resign from SCDP after Don catches him embezzling.
    • In Season 6: Don gets a turn.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Don and Sylvia share a few in Season 6 after she breaks up with him.
  • Undignified Death:
    • Miss Blankenship dies in the office.
    • Don's father was kicked in the head by a horse.
  • The Un Favourite:
    • Pete is this to his WASP family.
    • Don to his adoptive mother (even before she had a son of her own).
    • Peggy and her sister Anita both feel this way — Peggy because of the baby and because she's putting her career ahead of finding a husband, and Anita, interestingly, because she feels like Peggy gets away with those things when she couldn't. Mrs. Olson provides enough guilt for everyone to partake.
    • In an office version, Peggy thinks of herself this way to Don - everyone else thinks of her as the favorite, because unlike everyone else she actually seems to have Don's respect. This eventually prompts Peggy to leave SCDP for the sake of her career.
  • Unfortunate Implications: In-Universe: Don's Hawaii ad is suggestive of suicide, which his colleagues and the client point out.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Inverted in "Lady Lazarus"; Don and Megan run through a proposed bit for a Cool Whip commercial, and their easy chemistry as husband and wife makes it all the more cringe-inducing later on when Peggy tries to take Megan's place during the actual pitch and spectacularly fails.
  • Viewers Are Morons: Very much, in-universe; perfectly straightforward advertizing pitches are often rejected on the assumption that potential consumers would be either confused or bored. The series itself is a noteworthy aversion, as one of the most understated and subtle works of fiction currently being produced.
  • The Vietnam War: Joan's husband, Dr. Harris, joins the Army Medical Corps and is sent to Vietnam at the end of the fourth season. The anti-war protests and various drafts are background moments in season five.
    • Stan Rizzo's cousin is a sailor in the navy and is killed over in Vietnam.
  • Visual Pun: After Pete Campbell's father dies, the family's in the parlor, discussing everything but the death. Then his mother finally points out the elephant in the room. An actual pink ceramic elephant on the mantel, that she hates and immediately gives away.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Peggy and Joan have this dynamic, sniping at each other on occasion but holding a deep respect for each other.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Don, after a long night of drinking, manages to make it to the SCDP bathroom (with Peggy's help) in "The Suitcase". While the noise is pretty nasty, we don't see anything (thank you stall walls!).
    • There's more offscreen upchucking by Don a couple episodes later in "Hands and Knees", though this time it's the result of a pretty intense panic attack when the FBI starts investigating him.
    • Lane in "Commissions and Fees," behind a parking garage pillar when his wife surprises him with a new Jaguar they can't afford.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot:
    • Roger, after having a huge lunch and climbing 23 flights of stairs. Even better when you realize that this was planned by Don as revenge for hitting on Betty.
    • At the end of "A Night to Remember", after Jimmy Barret confronts Don and Betty about Don's affair with his wife, Don and Betty are driving home, both obviously very upset, and Betty nervously upchucks all over the dash of Don's new Coupe DeVille.
    • Don at Roger's mother's funeral in "The Doorway", apparently after getting an early start on his drinking.
  • Wacky Cravings: The Drapers' neighbor Francine Hanson, pregnant near the beginning of Season 1, says while preparing snacks with Betty for Sally's birthday party in Episode 3, "All this one wants is raw hamburger. What does that say?"
  • Wall Bang Her: Don does this to Megan in "For Immediate Release".
  • Welcome Episode: In the pilot, Peggy starts her new job at Sterling Cooper.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Don to Peggy. Don himself suddenly decides that he's not up for one of these relationships with Connie Hilton after having been made to feel like he did something wrong by not living up to Hilton's weird standards.
    • Pete never got this with his own father and desperately seeks it from Don and Duck.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Nixon v. Kennedy," which is when the audience learns the truth about Don's past.
    • "The Gypsy and The Hobo" Betty confronts Don about the contents of his drawer, forcing him to confess about his past.
    • The season 3 finale when Don, Roger, Bert, and Lane conspire to leave and start their own agency after hearing that Sterling Cooper and Putnam, Powell, & Lowe was bought out by McCann Erickson (a real company, in case you're wondering). They take along Pete, Peggy, and Harry: three of the strongest employees at Sterling Cooper. They also recruit Joan, who directed the entire disemboweling of the offices. The home front also features a helping of wham as the Draper marriage ends.
    • "Hands and Knees": Where does one start? Joan finds out she's pregnant with Roger's child. Lucky Strike fires SCDP, costing them over half their business, and Roger has to beg for thirty days to try and salvage what he can. Lane is dating a black girl who works at the Playboy Club and his father beats him with his cane when he finds out. Don is investigated by the FBI due to a potential account with the DOD, Betty lies to the government for him, and he convinces Pete to stop the account before his Martin Guerre past is revealed. Pete takes the fall with the partners, getting royally chewed out for "losing" a 4 million dollar account. And Don has an anxiety attack and tells Faye the truth about himself.
    • "The Other Woman", where Joan becomes a partner after engaging in prostitution for the agency, SCDP lands their first car account in Jaguar, and Peggy quits SCDP for Chaough's agency.
    • "Commissions and Fees" Lane Pryce kills himself, becoming the first major character to be killed off. Also, Sally gets her period while on a "date" of sorts with Glenn.
    • "For Immediate Release" SCDP loses Jaguar after Don pisses off Herb one too many times. Pete's father-in-law fires SCDP after he and Pete bump into each other at a whorehouse. SCDP and Cutler, Gleason and Chaough merge so they can get an account with GM that will save both firms.
    • "Favors" Sally walks in on Don and Sylvia having sex. Don's image as a Standard '50s Father is now completely shattered.
    • "In Care Of" Don's attempts to become a better person ruin his relationship with Megan and (combined with all of his other unprofessional behavior during Season 6) gets him placed on indefinite leave by the other partners. Don takes his kids to see the remains of the whorehouse where he grew up.
    • "Field Trip" Roger manages to convince the other partners to allow Don to return to work, albeit with a host of conditions that will result in Don's termination if they are violated.
    • "The Runaways" Don finds out that the partners are meeting with a tobacco company, and Michael Ginsberg shows signs of mental illness, culminating in cutting off his nipple and giving it to Peggy.
    • "Waterloo" Bert passes away while watching the moon landing and Roger sells the agency to McCann to save Don's career.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?:
    • After several rejections, Roger ends up hiring Don after the two share plenty of drinks one night. When Don shows up the next day, Roger doesn't remember anything of it.
    • Don in "Waldorf Stories," after having far too much to drink at the Clios (a Friday afternoon). He idiotically does a pitch to Quaker Oats for Life cereal—that works, but in the worst possible way—heads to the bar with Roger, where he gets drunker, and ends up taking home a woman (actively looking for him) who had apparently written the jingle for the award-winning cake batter/topping commercial...and wakes up Sunday afternoon with an entirely different woman next to him (a waitress from a nearby diner, apparently—who calls him Dick as she leaves). As things turn out, Peggy has to remind him about what he did at the Life pitch.
    • In "In Care Of," Don wakes up in the drunk tank. He apparently punched an obnoxious evangelist.
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: "What do I do here?" says a demoralized Lane to Joan in "Signal 30".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Many characters return after long absences (see The Bus Came Back above), but there has been no hint as to the fate of Sal Romano after he was fired in Season 3 episode "Wee Small Hours".
  • What Is Going On?:
    • Don in "The Grown-Ups" when he wanders into the bullpen to find every single telephone ringing and all the secretaries huddled in a corner around a radio. What Is Going On is news of the Kennedy assassination.
    • Betty has an epic "What is going on?!?!?" in the same episode after watching Lee Harvey Oswald get murdered on live TV.
    • Also, Don and Roger walk in on the entire office huddled around a different radio in season two, to learn that a jet liner just crashed off the coast of Queens (Roger initially assumes they're excited about John Glenn).
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Allison finally snaps at Don - "I don't say this easily, but you are not a good person!"
    • Faye, after she finds out that Don is engaged to Megan: " I hope she knows that you only like beginnings."
    • All of the other partners at SCDP at Don after he wrote a letter in the New York Times announcing that SCDP will no longer be working with any tobacco accounts, to the point where Bert quits the company. The letter further comes back to haunt Don in Season 5's "At the Codfish Ball" when he receives an award for it, but simultaneously learns that none of the corporate world's big fish want anything to do with SCDP because of that letter, as it showed Don is willing to publicly backstab even a longtime loyal client if they drop them.
    • Bert gives one to Don at the end of "Far Away Places" for constantly ditching work with Megan.
    • The rest of the SCDP partners give one to Pete when they learn that he tried to get Joan to engage in prostitution on behalf of the agency.
    • Joan is the target of this from Peggy, Pete, and Chaough in "A Tale of Two Cities" when they learn that she ignored Chaough's instructions to invite Pete to the meeting with Avon.
    • Freddie Rumsen chews Don out for drinking so hard that he passed out and expecting that he'd get back all of his responsibilities without having to prove to the other partners that he has turned over a new leaf.
    • Roger's daughter chews her father out for neglecting her as a child.
  • When You Coming Home, Dad?: Don's habits often lead him to forget about his kids, but truth be told he's a mild case in comparison to some of his coworkers:
    • Roger was too busy with his work and completely ignored his daughter when she was growing up. This eventually drives her to follow his example and abandon her husband and son to join a bunch of luddite hippies.
    • Pete's involvement in his daughter's life is so minuscule that she doesn't even recognize him. Granted, he moves to California, but even before then he wasn't particularly engaged.
  • When Elders Attack: Lane's dad whacking him across the face with his cane and stepping on his hand.
  • Where Were You Last Night?: Lots of this when Betty gets suspicious of Don.
  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: Much of the cast, but especially Pete Campbell and Betty Draper.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: In-universe, this is Megan's reaction to the Dark Shadows script one of her acting friends brings her.
  • Wrong Name Outburst: See Get Ahold Of Yourself Man, above.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In "Waterloo", it looks as if Harry Crane will finally get the recognition and respect he deserves, as he is about to become a partner in SC&P and his media department is about to become the centerpiece of the firm's vision for the future. However, he haggles over a few minor details and when he is ready to sign the final legal papers, the firm is sold to McCann and the partnership offer is withdrawn. Harry not only loses out on the partnership but also on a million dollar payout. Ouch.
  • Yellow Peril: Roger Sterling is really anti-Japanese, having failed to grow past his days in the Navy in World War II, and deeply insults the Honda representatives.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Almost all of the secretaries play it straight, but in the season 3 finale, Peggy subverts it with a "No".
  • You Need to Get Laid: Ginsberg's father tries setting him up with a nice Jewish girl because he believes that his son's eccentricity will be cured once he loses his virginity.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Virtually everyone:
    • Don, Pete, Roger, Lane, Ted, and Harry all cheat on their wives on multiple occasions.
    • And as far as the women, Betty cheats on Don once, and Joan cheats on Dr. Greg once, although Greg had it coming.


LovejoyDramedyM*A*S*H
Mildred PierceThe Great DepressionDoctor Who
Maddigan's QuestTurnOfTheMillennium/Live-Action TVMan vs. Wild
Inspector George GentlyThe SixtiesPan Am
Mad About YouAmerican SeriesMADtv

alternative title(s): Mad Men
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