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Series: Married... with Children

"I work in a shoe store, and yet I'm not happy to come home."
Al Bundy

Married... with Children is a sitcom about the consummate loser Al Bundy: once a high school football hero dating the hottest girl in school, he is now a balding, starving, destitute shoe salesman. Meanwhile, the same girl that he married is now a useless, bickering TV junkie. He's still driving the same piece of junk car he bought in high school, and is cursed with a moronic daughter who really gets around, a smart, yet perverted son, and a lazy dog that might as well be a throw rug.

The show premiered on April 5, 1987 as the very first program ever shown by the brand new Fox Network. Along with 21 Jump Street and The Tracey Ullman Show, it was one of the network's few hits before the NFL and The Simpsons turned the network into a major player. It was a constant ratings success until it ended in June 1997; it's still Fox's longest running live action sitcom. This is the show in which Christina Applegate and Katey Sagal got their starts.

This series inspired and popularized a character type: the jaded washout, which was actually called "The Al Bundy" at one point.

Now has a Recap page.


Tropes:

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    A-G 
  • A-Cup Angst: Al constantly mocks Marcy for being flat-chested. At some points, her flatness gets her mistaken for a boy, much to her consternation, anger, and disappointment several times. In the pirate episode, she has to show her breasts to the crew to prove she's a lass twice. And they're still not sure of it afterwards. And then there was the episode where she was continually mistaken for Bruce Jenner.
  • Aborted Arc: The first half of Season 6 introduced several continuing plotlines. Most notably, Peg and Marcy both wound up pregnant, and Bud began impersonating a rapper in order to get girls. About halfway through the season, all these storylines were retconned into being a dream. While this may feel like a screw to the audience, it is justified, as Katey Sagal was pregnant in real life at the time, but sadly lost her baby when it came time to give birth. Out of respect, the writers made the entire storyline a dream because, according to one of the creators, "it worked for Dallas".
    • Grandmaster B was referenced in later episodes, including showing his wardrobe.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Bud was unlucky enough to attract a couple of these, both male and female. While certainly not ugly, especially after he made himself look like a total dork in a dating show (where the woman chooses a self-centered hunk as the prize over him), he does the same thing when a nerdy girl ironically echoes what he had said earlier...and ignores her to go out with a self-centered chick. At least he gave her a kiss before he went with the bimbo.
  • Abusive Parents: Marcy has multiple stories about how growing up was less than pleasant. One such tale involving her mother selling her beloved dog, Chester, for fifty cents at a yard sale, and using said money to go on vacation and leave Marcy home alone, crying and begging for Chester to come back home.
    • Al and Peg can be considered outright abusive to Kelly and Bud. Sometimes with physical threats, but mostly it was neglect, emotional anguish, and financial abuse. And if they do bother to feed, clothe, immunize, advise and care for their children, it's usually in a bizarre and ass-backwards way that's considered illegal in the real world.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Kelly on occasion, such as the time she found Waldo. Al, too.
    • A great example of this is when Kelly is asked what color an orange is. She thinks for a moment, and then asks if this is a "regular orange or a navel orange." She wants clarity, you see.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Jefferson will occasionally laugh at Al's cracks at Marcy when she's not looking, though a quick death glare will shut him right up.
  • The Alleged Car: Al's Dodge is quite literally one of a kind. All of the other types of its make and model have either been recalled, exploded, or simply dissolved in the rain. This is possibly due to the fact that Al's car is literally pieced together out of the parts of other broken-down, destroyed Dodges. That should give you an indication as to its actual performance. In one episode, it's revealed that its brown color is actually accumulated dirt. Underneath it's a shiny red Cool Car.
    • One episode had the Dodge break down, and the only place where they could find the part needed to fix it? Cuba.
  • Affably Evil: Gino, the massive mafia enforcer in "The Hood, the Bud & the Kelly". He's a rather jovial guy for someone who's planning to sell Bud's organs to the highest bidder.
  • All Just a Dream:
    • Done on the Season 6 episode where Al is a detective (see Aborted Arc above).
    • Also done on the episode where the Grim Reaper (played by Sagal without her big red wig) comes for Al's soul and the rest of the family poses as The Village People, but subverted when it turns out that both A-story and B-story were real.
    Kelly: You weren't dreaming, Daddy, you were dying! You were breathing in the chemicals from my bug poison note . Here, smell it!
  • All Take and No Give: Bud, Kelly and especially Peggy are all like this towards Al. While the kids eventually get jobs and start paying their own way, it's unclear what (if anything) Peg contributes to the relationship, given that she won't get a job, cook or clean, and constantly spends Al's money with a ridiculous sense of entitlement.
  • All Women Are Prudes: Averted with a vengeance. Peg is always the one trying to get Al to have sex (in the later episodes. The early ones had Al initiate sex or the two agree never to have it again), Kelly is constantly making out with her various sleazy boyfriends, and even Marcy at her Straw Feminist worst displays a healthy libido.
  • Alpha Bitch: Peg and Kelly were both alpha bitches in high school.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Ike of NO MA'AM lapses into this sometimes...at least by the gender stereotypes on this show.
  • American Dream: An extremely cynical Flavor 2 version. Even Marcy, who makes decent money as a banker, often ends up losing big.
  • Animal Motifs: Al has made countless jokes comparing Marcy to a chicken. Marcy, in turn, has compared him to a pig (though she also uses "pig" to mean "a sexist male"), a three-toed sloth, an ox, and a shaved ape.
  • Animal Nemesis:
    • Al's obsession with killing the rabbit that destroyed his vegetable garden.
    • And, earlier in the series, Al and Steve were trying to catch a mouse... which Peg didn't want him to kill after catching it, so the mouse became a pet.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
    Al: Peg! My apple's gone! This neighborhood's going to hell... First a double homicide, and now this!
  • Artifact Title: The show's working title was Not the Cosbys, which was meant to be a take that to The Cosby Show. Calling the show that would have been a pretty bad move, especially since The Cosby Show ended in 1992. The title would have become irrelevant to people who started watching the show in the later years.
  • Artistic License - Geography: One episode had Kelly abandoned by her jerkass date out in the woods. While walking back she noticed a sign that said it was to Chicago (the drop in miles confused her greatly). Of course, 15 miles outside of Chicago is still fairly dense suburbia and nothing like what was shown.
  • Ashes to Crashes: Funeral ashes were accidentally used in a BBQ, played for laughs and drama.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Local news reporter "Miranda Veracruz de la Hoya Cardinal!" Such an awesome name (and smooth delivery) that the audience cheered every time she said it. No exceptions.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Depending on the episode.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: When it comes right down to it, the Bundys are a family and they stick together. Just don't expect any of them to admit it. Also apparent when they get a rare taste of luxury, or at least normal life with food and utilities, as in such circumstances they're much happier and civil towards each other.
    • When the Dodge goes missing at the car wash, Al is worried about losing "stuff" in the trunk. Peg assumes it's just his collection of Big 'Uns magazines, but it's actually a family portrait (a.k.a. first season publicity shot) of the family outside their home.
    • Kelly is cheated on by a guy, a young David Boreanaz, on her birthday, as she discovers him on another date at the same movie theater the Bundys have gone to. At first, Kelly tries to act mature and pretend she is not bothered by this. She delivers a take that speech to the guy, sits down with the rest of the family and says "Daddy, beat him up". Without hesitation, Al drops his popcorn (that he took from a guy he beat up earlier for talking bad about Peggy), says "yes, pumpkin," walks back and beats four different colors of crap out of the guy. Two beatings in a 15 minute period all for his ladies.
    • One beach episode has a old female friend of Al's hitting on him, as Peggy lays asleep next to him on the beach. He declines because he says he loves his wife, despite it all. Later, Peggy admits she heard the whole thing.
    • Another example is the episode featuring the Shoe Groupie. Al comes into the bedroom to find her ready and waiting, and he declines because he actually loves Peggy.
    • An early episode has Al staying at Luke's apartment during a fight with Peggy. Luke brings home two stewardesses, and one offers to sleep with Al. He realizes that cheating on Peggy is wrong, and leaves to go home. Once he gets home, however, he puts a blond wig on Peggy and tells her to get upstairs. So, he didn't cheat on her, but definetely was fantasizing about someone else...
    • Peggy has her moments too. When the Bundys are stuck on the highway, a man in another car makes the mistake of insulting Al. Al gets out of his car, followed by the other guy, and they start fighting. Peg and the other man's wife get out to try to stop the fight and the other man's wife calls Al a moron.
    Peggy: Just who are you calling moron?
    Woman: Your husband, you painted hus--*SMACK*
    • Moral of the story: only Peggy is allowed to insult her husband. Anyone else (save for Marcy, of course) you will get beaten.
    • In "The Egg and I", Peggy and Al even kiss voluntarily, while cheerfully watching the brawl that Al has instigated next door.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Bundys encounter a homicidal ax murderer in "Poppy's by the Tree Part 1" and "2", at the crappy motel of the same name. Said murderer kills obnoxious tourists every five years, to the point that the locals have set up a pool depending on how long before he kills. Peg is taken hostage in the second episode, and we find out the guy has got a, no pun intended, ax to grind because his parents used to own the motel and died having to put up with asshole guests. He's also "The Man Who Met Andy Griffith."
  • Bad Santa: In one Christmas Episode, Al is beaten up by a gang of department store Santas. To be fair, Al had started it the previous day by punching one in the face.
    • In one episode, Al runs a daycare for busy parents trying to holiday shop in the mall. Of course, Al being Al, runs it more like a prison. Watch his version of the "Night Before Xmas" here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPEtziOdpVw).
    • Al himself has qualified in episodes when he had to play Santa.
    • The drunken Santa that fell out of a helicopter and landed on the Bundys' roof.
  • Back to School: In the episode "Peggy Made a Little Lamb", Peg learns that she failed a required class in high school (home economics, appropriately enough) and goes back to re-take it. Kelly's in the same class and has to pass it in order to graduate high school. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Badass Family: The Bundys.
    Al: We may be maladjusted, but we're strong.
    • No, seriously. The Bundys take on and beat the stuffing out of anyone that insults them. Al, Peggy, Bud and Kelly all can kick wholesale ass.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison: In the end of two-part episode "Requiem For a Chevyweight", Al told his Dodge he "never loved that flashy red hussy. Or the new car either".
  • Bare Your Midriff: Kelly often wore midriff-baring outfits, especially in the show's earlier years.
  • Basement-Dweller: Probably because the writers didn't want to change the show's dynamic, Kelly and Bud live at home well into their 20s despite having decent jobs. Bud fits the stereotypes of this more than his sister, as he actually lived in the basement following a frat house accident.
  • Beach Episode:
    • A tenth season, two-part episode has Kelly and her friends tricking Bud and his friends out of their holiday passes to Spring Break. We're then treated to Kelly, her friends and a large cast of female extras in bikinis on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. Al, Griff and Jefferson get in on it as well when they go to Fort Lauderdale themselves.
    • Bundy Family Fun Day at the beach.
  • Bears Are Bad News: In "Bearly Men", Al and Bud go hunting with Peggy's father to prove their manliness. Al and Bud run into a bear (literally; they hit it with a car). Thinking it dead, they take the bear home... only for it to wake up and escape into Chicago. Al, Bud and Peggy's father then have to go after it.
  • Berserk Button: While the entire family would frequently ridicule each other, if anyone else hurt them or took advantage of them, they'd make them pay.
  • Bested At Bowling: The Season 4 episode "Peggy Turns 300". To add insult to injury, this was right after Al had managed to break the alley record with just short of 300.
  • Big Eater:
    • Peg does nothing all day but sit on the couch stuffing herself full of Bon Bons, and yet she never seems to gain a pound.
    • Peg's mother eats at least nine square meals a day, uses a pitchfork as a utensil, it's implied that she has eaten a dog. Al once stated that he didn't like the way Peg's mom looked at him (like he was between two pieces of bread), can unhinge her jaw like an anaconda if she eats anything that's bigger than her, and can eat an entire pig in under a minute.
  • Big "NO!": Al lets one out when a scoreboard dedicated to him gets blown up.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor:
    • Zings fired at all sorts of networks aplenty:
    Marcy: (roleplaying as Peggy) Al, I want you to come upstairs, and try to last longer than a new FOX sitcom!
    Kelly: Something really stinks in here.
    Bud: Well, we are watching FOX.
    (revealed that the living room is filled with garbage due to a strike)
    • Another episode sees Al and Jefferson watching TV:
    Jefferson: This is the best show on FOX.
    Al: Yeah, like that's saying much.
    • Yet another episode had the family trying to watch the network:
    Al: Family, assume Fox network viewing positions!
    The family promptly is seen holding all sorts of antennas and metal objects, twiddling them around the TV in awkward positions. Ironically, the real Fox station in Chicago is actually channel 32, but was a strong independent station before Fox. Then again, they've been known since the '90s as "Fox Chicago," due to perceived embarrassment about being on such a high channel number. Nowadays, with over-the-air TV practically dead and cable, satellite, etc. much more common, the joke would be lost on a lot of people.
    • The closing credit sequence of "The Movie Show" features the Bundy family riffing on the credits of a movie they're watching in a theater (complete with references to names on the actual show's credits). At the end of the sequence, Al exclaims "Whoa, here comes the Columbia logo!", and the entire family boos. This originally led right into the Columbia Pictures Television logo, though later reruns would replace it with the Sony Pictures Television logo, making the joke less effective.
  • Black Best Friend: Al's buddy and fellow NO MA'AMer Griff became his co-worker at the shoe store in later seasons.
    • Oddly enough, after Luke, the original shoestore sidekick left, almost all of Al's subsequent shoe store employees were black. The sole exception was Mr. Zippy, a chimp who began working at the shoe store in the very last episode aired, and dressed exactly like Al.
  • Black Comedy Rape:
    • Sometimes Peg just wouldn't take no for an answer. At least Al was nailed by a hot redhead.
    • Bud unwillingly did the deed with a couple of very large, very fat, and very creepy looking women. After one such misadventure, Bud noted that now he knew how Tom Arnold must have felt whenever he did the deed with Roseanne.
    • It was generally subverted when it was gender flipped, though. On the rare occasions when Al was the one who either ripped up Peggy's magazine, pointed at her and then their bedroom, or simply flung her over his shoulder and carried her upstairs, she was almost always happy to comply. One time when it was played straight was when Peggy brought up a bunch of benches for the annual Labor Day family barbecue, she was totally exhausted and didn't want to do anything. Cue Al tapping on her shoulder. Later, she is scrubbing the grill as Al watches. Cue Al tapping on her shoulder. Unfortunately, seeing her do housework and manual labor just happened to be Al's major fetish...
    • This is hinted at several times in regards to Kelly as well. One example was at the video shoot for the Guttercats. Kelly, unable to listen to the director, is eventually handcuffed to a fence. As everyone leaves the set, they forget Kelly. Her line? "Great, this is the third time this week someone has chained me up to something and wandered away."
  • Black Dude Dies First: He doesn't actually die, but Griff invokes this when he refuses to take point for Al and Jefferson during a garbage strike:
    Griff: Haven't you ever seen a war movie? The black man always get it first!
    Al: What do you mean?
    Griff: Jim Brown in The Dirty Dozen?note  Laurence Fishburne in Apocalypse Now? Bubba in Forrest Gump? Any black man on Star Trek? We go in, test the waters, get killed, and you white guys go home to your families.
    Al: See? We both lose!
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Peggy, Kelly, and Marcy. Kelly was the dumb blonde, Peggy was the fiery redhead, and Marcy was the more-or-less sane brunette for the first two seasons, until subsequent season showed her hair gettting lighter and lighter (while she became more and more unhinged).
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Bundys can pretty much cheat, lie, steal, mock anyone and everyone, but marriage is forever.
  • The Board Game: yes, really.
  • Bottle Episode: A handful of episodes took place in one scene with limited actors and actresses. Some examples: the last episode of Season 1 (in which Al and Peg try to go to the closing night of their favorite burger joint, but are stuck at home trying to help their kids solve their social problems), the first episode of Season 5 (in which the Bundys get stuck in a traffic jam during their Labor Day vacation), and part one of the series finale.
  • Bottomless Bladder: Al at one point ponders out loud why heroes in Westerns never go to the bathroom. He then contemplates on what kind of toilet paper they might have used back then.
  • Bowling For Ratings: The second season episode "Alley of the Dolls".
  • Boyish Short Hair: Marcy.
  • The Brainless Beauty: Kelly didn't invent the dumb slutty blonde stereotype, but she sure as hell added to its fame. In fact, Christina Applegate has been spending the rest of her career trying to get away from that image.
  • Brain Bleach: What Al needs whenever he sees Marcy in dessous or a fat woman (particularly Peg's mom) naked or in sexy clothes. One episode had Al saying that he went blind after seeing Peg's mother taking a bath, because his eyes were trying to protect his heart from an attack (Peg's cousin said that happened all the time, even to her doctor).
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Kelly.
  • British Royal Guards: Peggy knows the best way to get a guard to smile is to take one of Al's shoes and let the guard get a good whiff of the odor. Of course, he doesn't smile until she takes the shoe away. He then passes out.
  • Bumbling Dad: Al.
  • The Bus Came Back: Whenever Peggy was written out of the show during one of Katey Sagal's pregancies (see Put on a Bus below), she would always return once Sagal was ready to return to work.
  • Butt Monkey: Al and Bud are the most common examples, although all the main characters end up suffering from this to one degree or another.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": An early episode had Peg selling all of the "Bundy family Playboys" much to the anger of the Bundy males, including a visit from Al's father beyond the grave. Later episodes have Al reading Big 'Uns and no further mention of Playboy magazine is made.
  • Can't Stand Them, Can't Live Without Them: As Al puts it: "Women... can't live with them...Can't shoot 'em"
  • Captivity Harmonica: When Buck runs away and ends up in the pound, it's very prison-ish, complete with harmonica-playing pooch.
  • The Cast Showoff: Most of the main actors got to demonstrate this at one point or another. Katey Sagal got a few singing numbers, Ed O'Neill was able to show off his football skills, David Faustino did some rapping, and Christina Applegate and David Garrison both got to use their dance training.
  • Catch Phrase: "Four touchdowns in a single game", "Let's rock", Al's "A fat woman came into the shoe store today" stories, as well as variations on the "Whoa Bundy" rally cry.
    • Peg: "Thank your father kids."
    • Kids: (in sarcastic voice) "Thanks, dad,"
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Poor Bud...
  • Characterization Marches On: Early episodes show Peggy doing housework (even though it was established that she does a lousy job at it, especially the cooking part), Al initiating sex, and Kelly being of average intelligence (yet still getting poor grades in school). When married to Steve, Marcy was a submissive stereotypical wife (a contrast to Peg's anti-housewife) but when she married Jefferson she became a dominant feminist.
  • Cheek Copy: "It's A Bundyful Life, Part 1" (Season 4, episode 12) showed Marcy drunkenly photocopying her butt at an office Christmas party. This becomes even funnier later when she staggers home drunk on "Part 2" still holding the picture.

    MARCY: I was going to! But I got so sleepy. I guess I fell asleep. But you gotta see this [shows Al a picture] Some bimbo got so smashed she xeroxed her behind. [laughs] Ah,everybody got one. Oh, imagine the humilation when she shows up for work Monday morning!
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: How Al views the French.
  • The Chew Toy: Al, of course.
  • Chicago: The setting of the show.
  • Christmas Episode: Several. Season 2's "You Better Watch Out" may be the most memorable, as a Mall Santa jumps out of a plane for a promotional stunt only his parachute doesn't open and he lands in the Bundys' backyard.
    • Another classic is "It's a Bundyful Life." A parody of the Jimmy Stewart movie, except in this case Al's guardian angel is Sam Kinnison. After seeing how wonderful Peggy and the kids' lives would have been without him, he chooses to live. The reason? They have put him through so much misery, he feels it's only fair that they get stuck with him.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In the first season, Al's co-worker at the shoe store was Luke, a smooth-talking womanizer who stole Al's sales. He vanished after the first season, but gets a handwave shout out in Season 9.
  • Children Are a Waste: The show is based entirely on this; as Al's motto says, "a man's home is his coffin."
  • Classically Trained Extra: Ed O'Neill and David Garrison were both trained as dramatic actors.
  • Class Reunion: Al and Peg go to their high school reunion in the finale for the third season. Particularly memorable in that they both get crowning moments of awesome for doing so.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Peg, to ridiculous ends.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Ike of No MA'AM lapsed into this frequently.
  • Combat Pragmatist: While Bud was perfectly capable of handling himself in a straight fight, he continued the proud Bundy tradition of cheating by smashing larger opponents over the head with bottles or chairs, or by hitting them below the belt. Needless to say, this made Al especially proud of his boy.
  • Comic Book Adaptation: Two years of ongoing issues plus a few specials, published by NOW Comics.
  • Continuity Nod: Bud has all his past costumes hanging up in the basement, including his "Grandmaster B" persona.
    • Lake Chickamacomico (the retirement resort that Al bought) was first mentioned on the Season 1 episode where Marcy has erotic dreams about Al after refusing to admit that she was wrong. It didn't get mentioned again until the first episode featuring Marcy's new husband, Jefferson, who was put in prison for selling land there, as Lake Chickamacomico is so toxic, it won't be safe for habitation until the year 5,000,000. It was then mentioned again on the episode "Weenie Tot Lovers and Other Strangers" when the FBI disrupts a live broadcast of Marcy and Jefferson winning the Weenie Tot Scratch-and-Sniff-Stakesnote .
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Marcy frequently suffered these whenever the Bundys got her into trouble with her bank:
    • After she loses $50,000 on a bad loan Al was unable to pay back, she's demoted to drive-up window teller. She later gets her job back by dancing on her boss's desk in a slip for 20 minutes while the other bank employees threw change at her.
    • When she gives Kelly a job as a window model at the bank, Kelly later gets her to sic the security guards on the son of the bank's biggest depositor, who Kelly thinks is a bank robber. Marcy is forced to act as the display model herself while wearing a chicken suit and holding a sign that says Let Us Sit On Your Nest Egg.
    • When Al forces her to dance at the nudie bar as part of a business deal she tries to broker for her boss to buy Al's Dodge, her boss compliments her on her ability to "shake it." A disgusted Marcy punches him out, which causes a bar fight that leads to her boss's arrest. She's later punished by being forced to become the ATM "beeper", in the sense that she has to make the beeping sounds for the bank's ATMs.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Again, Al.
  • Costumer
  • Commuting on a Bus: David Garrison returned to play Steve several times in one-shot episodes. One notable example had the studio audience applauding him for almost a full minute when he appeared onscreen, during which Garrison humorously checked his watch while standing in silence.
  • The Couch: Something Peg and Al can agree on. This is their favorite thing in the world. Well, second favorite.
  • Cousin Oliver: Seven, who became The Scrappy, and was later Brother Chucked out of existence.
  • Crapsack World: The world of Married is one step from Hell, full of manipulative, brainless beauties, snickering smug winners, despondent and pathetic losers, corrupt authority, dirty criminals, money-gouging women, male chauvinists pigs, and many general jerkasses, including as described below, God himself.
  • Crappy Holidays: First the family goes to Dumpwater, Florida, where an axe murderer tries to kill them. A few series later, they visit Lower Uncton, England, where the locals... you guessed it: try to kill them.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Al didn't take kindly to other men hitting on Peg, and he usually "hits on" them in retaliation.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The leader of the Neighborhood Watch in the first season episode where Al accidentally shoots Steve and Marcie's dog.
    NW Leader: Not gonna happen in my house. I'm ready for them. I got 50,000 volts of electricity running through my window bars. I got a bucket of battery acid hanging over the back door and I got a .30-aught-6 rigged to the front doorknob.
    Steve: Then how do you get into your house?
    NW Leader: Wouldn't you like to know!
  • Credit Card Plot: The Season 3 episode "Master the Possibilities", where Bud, Al, and Peg use Buck the dog's name to get a credit card. Coincidentally, another FOX sitcom about a dysfunctional family used this plot for a Season 8 episode.
  • Crosscast Role: Griff once played Dorothy at a school play version of The Wizard of Oz.
  • Crossing the Burnt Bridge: When a rich man proposed to Kelly, Al quickly phoned his boss to do the bridge-crossing, oblivious to Kelly rejecting the rich man in favor of a not-so-wealthy suitor.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Done by Ray-Ray and his boys to Al in an Season 8 episode. This was more due to the fact that they outnumbered Al by six to one or more, and the fact that Ray-Ray was too much of a friggin' dirty coward to face up to Al one-on-one. If he had, he would have been the one on the receiving end of this.
    • When Al disapproves of Kelly's choice of boyfriends, most of them suffer this.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Just another Friday night for Bud. The episode "Bud Hits the Books" centered around him getting caught doing this in the library. Al is initially proud of Bud, thinking he got caught having sex:
    Al: Way to go, Bud! (shakes his hand) Who's the lucky girl?
    Bud: You're shaking her.
    (Al lets go in disgust)
    • And right before Bud finally gets laid, Amber notes his right hand is strong.
    • In one episode, Bud started making sculptures with wooden sticks to spend the extra time granted by his lack of social life. When he got a date (with a girl who caught chicken pox), he said there'd be no more sticky fingers. Realizing how that comment could be interpreted, Bud stated it was from the glue.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Several.
    • The episode "Look Who's Barking" centers around Buck the dog. Some episodes have him at the semi-forefront, too.
    • The three poorly disguised pilots (one centered on Al's high school friend and his dim-witted son, one centered on Bud's life in college [including Steve becoming the dean and Marcy starting a protest group against the college radio station], and one about Kelly and her latest boyfriend's petty, sarcastic friends) also count.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most (if not all) of the people on this show are deadpan snarkers, though Al and Peg are the biggest ones.
    • Buck trumps everybody in this department, even if the humans can't hear him.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Of every single wholesome family sitcom of the time.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Name the Presidents" and the "Daddy" song.
  • Determinator: Despite all the misery he's been through, Al still keeps on going and refuses to take the easy way out by killing himself. Al notes this on the Season 3 premiere "He Thought He Could" (where Al finds an overdue library book and confronts the evil librarian who constantly put him down as a child) and claims that this is what makes him a winner, rather than a loser.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: There are several examples.
    Marcy: Jefferson, go down and talk to the boy.
    Jefferson: But Marcy, he's nuts! You go down, you're the one with the million-dollar life insurance policy.
    Marcy: ...what million-dollar life insurance policy?
    Jefferson: Can't talk now, I've got to go help out the boy.
    • Also played out with Kelly. She can't remember the difference between thinking something and saying it out loud, she later gets reprimanded by her mother for it.
    • In another episode Al dreams that he is a Private Detective, complete with Private Eye Monologue. At one point he says his narration out loud just as he is afflicted with Male Gaze.
  • Dirty Coward: For all his tough-guy posturing, Ray-Ray (see Older Hero vs. Younger Villain and Take a Third Option, below) hides behind the rest of his thugs and has them beat Al up with sheer numbers because he arguably knows he's not man enough to face up to Al in a real fight.
  • Dirty Old Man: Al, Jefferson and the rest of the NO MA'AM guys all enjoy drooling over women young enough to be their daughters (there was even a time when Al and Bud mistook Kelly for a sleazy young woman). When Luke first meets Marcy, he mistakes her for Kelly and comments on how she had "really blossomed".
    • In a fantasy scene of Al's, he is wearing his football uniform with several scantily clad ladies attending to him. Enter scantily clad lady number four, who proceeds to hang up her "jacket" (a see-through negligee robe) on Peggys severed and mounted head. The ladies then begin to ask Al to tell them more stories of his glory. One of them even asks if they should go upstairs and "froog" for him. A later fantasy of Peggy's is the exact same thing, gender flipped, with Al's head serving as a coatrack.
  • Dirty Old Woman: The reason Peggy doesn't seem to mind Al ogling other women, reading nudie magazines or going to strip clubs is probably because she does the same things herself with other men. Marcy also occasionally demonstrates this.
    • A great example is Jim Jupiter, the healthiest man in Chicago (at first). Peggy wins a contest in which the prize is a week with Jim acting as a personal trainer. Peggy sees the prize more as getting to watch Jim "glisten" as he works out. Marcy suddenly finds a reason to show up at the Bundy's house, wearing workout gear. Both women openly drool at Jim.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The revenge on Heather McCoy (Tiffany-Amber Theissen) went perhaps a bit too far. It didn't.
  • Distaff Counterpart: An in-universe example occurred with Kelly when she got a job as an amusement park gate attendant, which turned her into a female version of Al, complete with the bitter outlook on life and horror stories involving fat women (she even took on Al's signature slouching-with-hand-in-pants sitting position, which Peg didn't recognize, despite seeing it a million times before). Another example was the show "Psycho Mom", created by FOX as an alternative to Psycho Dad, Al's favorite TV show.
  • The Ditz: Kelly, though in the earlier episodes, she wasn't that dumb (despite getting bad grades in school), and was only made fun of for having bleached-blond hair, being a slut, dating sleazy guys, and committing petty crimes like speeding, sneaking out of the house, stealing money from Al, and vandalizing public property.
    • Lampshaded in an episode which showed that Kelly used to be very intelligent as a child, until she hit her head during a car accident (though earlier episodes before this implied that Peg didn't take care of Kelly when she was pregnant with her, which may have led to mental deficiencies).
  • Does This Make Me Look Fat?: "Ladies, it's not the dress that makes you look fat, it's the fat that makes you look fat!"
    • Al: "A woman came into the shoe store today, she was so fat, she had 4 smaller fat women orbiting her."
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Quite literally applied in an episode where the Bundys harbor a fugitive Steve, who has a substantial reward on his head. Peg, Bud and Kelly are tempted to turn Steve in, but Al refuses. The police are tipped off anyway, and after arresting Steve they also arrest the Bundys for harboring him. The Bundys wonder which of them ratted Steve out, but they all deny it. The final scene features Buck dressed in a fedora and holding a large bag of reward money in his mouth.
  • Doom It Yourself: Al's adventures fixing a leaky rooftop, him hunting a killer rabbit, etc.
    • By Al's own admission, the driveway in front of his house is nowhere near code because he made it out of ground-up women's shoes.
    • The fence the Bundys share with the D'Arcys is also pretty shoddy, given that Peggy did such a half-assed job putting it together.
    • Then, of course, there's the time they installed a satellite dish. You know it's bad when their wives are all betting on who'll be the next one to fall.
    Peg: *While Al is looking down the business-end of a blowtorch to "see the clog"* Wow... you can almost hear the Looney Tunes theme, can't you?
    • Al and Jefferson putting together a Workmate-type work bench. Eventually Kelly figured it out.
    • Al wasn't completely helpless though. He used "the Bundy hammer" to convert the garage into his own room, complete with a toilet.
  • Downer Ending: Due to the Bundy Curse, most of the characters' schemes end in failure.
  • Double Entendre: "Slippin' her the Bundy."
  • Double In-Law Marriage: In "How to Marry a Moron", Kelly is engaged to a rich guy named Lonnie Tot and Lonnie's ugly sister is interested in Bud. When Lonnie's Dad says he'll make Al his business partner if both marriages take place, Al eagerly announces Bud's engagement.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Played for Laughs in this case: Several ship crew members do this during the Pirate episode for having to hear Ruvio the Cruel sing. Early on the same episode, Bud's Pirate counterpart tells some girls to either kiss him or kiss the sharks. The girls jump out of the ship with no hesitation and Captain Courage not only scolds him for giving them a choice but also implies it wasn't the first time it happened.
    • Also played for laughs on the episode, "The Mystery of Skull Island." After Bud's disastrous sky-diving excursion, Al says that he's not dumb enough to jump out of an airplane. Peg then tells Al that he landed on "Kiss the Neighbor" on the board game that he's been playing for days. The scene then changes to a laughing Al (in his normal clothes with no parachute) jumping out of an airplane after the instructor asks him if he wants his last minute instructions.
  • Driving Test: Bud (who worked for the DMV) was Al's driving inspector for one episode when he lost his license.
  • Drop-In Character: Steve Rhoades for the first four seasons, until David Garrison left the show and his character was replaced by Jefferson D'Arcy (played by Ted McGinley, he of many shark jumps; surprisingly, the show lasted longer after McGinley came on board).
  • Dumb Blonde: Kelly.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: If any character figured out something that eluded the rest of the cast, it was usually Kelly.
  • Dysfunctional Family
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Ted McGinley appeared as Peg's husband on the two-part It's A Wonderful Life parody a season before he played Marcy's free-loading ex-con second husband.
    • Dan Tullis appeared off-and-on as a generic cop character (or any law officer [FBI agent, sheriff, etc]) who always arrested Al, until the later episodes when he was revealed to be named Officer Dan and joined Al's NO MA'AM group.
  • '80s Hair: Peg and Kelly in earlier seasons.
    • Bud had a mullet in the season three episodes.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: More of an embarrassing last name, as Marcy D'Arcy would attest. Bud's not too thrilled about his middle name being "Franklin", either.
  • Entitled Bitch: Good grief, Peg. She constantly whines and moans about how miserable her life is, and has the gall to claim that Al somehow "owes" her, despite the fact that she refuses to get a job, cook or clean the house, or basically do anything at all to contribute to the relationship.
    • As Al put it in Season 2, Peg thinks a 2-income household is a house with 2 husbands (and is teaching Kelly this).
  • Epic Fail: Al's entire life can be summed up by this trope. Particular examples of epic failure occur with his failed businesses, such as when he lost $100,000 on a shoe information hotline in the episode 976-SHOE, and when he bankrupted Marcy with his attempt to market a line of shoes he received the idea for after he suffered a head injury in God's Shoes.
  • Erotic Eating: On a two-part episode where Al and Bud go to Fort Lauderdale for spring break, one of the contestants in the bikini contest uses eating a banana as a talent. There was also a offscreen moment of awesome when Marcy's niece Amber is hanging out with Bud, who notes that Amber has showered, lotioned up, changed and eaten a banana in front of him. Unfortunately, we don't get to see it.
  • Escalating War: The episode "How Green Was My Apple" starts out with Al and Jefferson arguing over an apple that's growing on a tree near their shared fence. It grows into an increasingly crazed dispute over their mutual property line.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: Or just senile.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Mr. Shimokawa (Marcy's boss) collects American classic "junk" and wants to add Al's car into the collection. Marcy will gain her so desired promotion if she persuades Al to sell it (they can't get another car of that kind because half had been recalled and the other dissolved in rain). When Al finally agreed, Mr. Shimokawa commented he knew every man had his price. Al said every woman had it as well. Marcy had to make a sensual dance and Mr. Shimokawa offered the promotion because of how sexy she was. She then subverted this by beating her boss and calling it her resignation.
  • Exact Words: In one episode, Al and some of his friends tried a hair tonic that had the unfortunate (for them) side effect of making them want to have sex with their wives (or ex-wife in Griff's case). Al promised to develop an antidote, stating that a Bundy got them in that trouble and a Bundy will get them out. Cuts to a scene with Bud being forced to serve as a test subject.
    • In one Christmas Episode, Al and Griff were fired and spent the day trying other jobs. They regained their jobs by tricking their replacements into quitting. When Peggy asked Al how his day was, he said it started at the store and ended there.
  • Fag Hag: Gender Flipped by Al and Marcy's cousin Mandy (see Reality Subtext below). Al initially thinks Mandy is hot, but when he learns she's gay that doesn't prevent them from being good friends and going to baseball games or playing foosball.
    • Played straight and subverted in the same episode when Peg has a close friendship with a gay man, to the point where they actually begin dancing together at an upscale nightclub. The subversion comes when the gay man's husband (played by Simpsons voice actor Dan Castellaneta) thinks that his mate and Peg are having an affair, and tries to tell Al about it. When Al learns that the husband has a job, likes to cook and enjoys watching sports on TV (except for soccer, which he doesn't think is really a "man's game"), Al briefly falls head-over-heels in love.
  • Fanservice: Besides the fanservice you get from Kelly, Peg, and, to a lesser extent, Marcy, the show regularly featured Playboy Playmates and Penthouse Pets as guest stars.
  • Fat Bastard: Bob Rooney. Al once used his exposed gut to scare a bunch of little kids out of their Halloween candy.
  • Faux Horrific: Peg redecorating the bathroom with lots of pink. Al looked at the pictures and saw the Grim Reaper in them.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Al and NO MA'AM often speak this way about their wives or women in general; in turn, Marcy sometimes says the same about men. In the end of a given episode, both sides are typically undermined by Hypocritical Humor.
  • Fell Off the Back of a Truck: Bud and Kelly get Al a jukebox as a Christmas present...that really did fall off the back of a truck.
  • 555: Al got a shoddy product he ordered and called to demand to know the number of their business' supervisor. The response? "1-800-BITE-ME". When Bud got assigned to volunteer a virgin hot-line, the number was "1-800-ZIPP UP".
    • Also, 555-SHOE, 555-RIND, 555-PINF, and 555-RGNE, on the episode Al opened a shoe-hotline.
  • Flanderization: Nearly all the characters eventually, though this actually increased the show's quality.
  • Flat Uh Oh: Marcy occasionally gave these to the audience whenever some disaster was about to strike.
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted
  • Forbidden Fruit: In the episode "A Little of the Top", Al is accidentally circumcised and has to abstain from sex for a month. For most of their marriage, Al put great effort into avoiding sex with Peg. But now that it was forbidden, she suddenly became some sort of irresistible sex goddess whose every casual action seemed to turn him on.
    • At one point, he is turned on by her breathing.
  • Foreign Remake:
    • Lots. The Russian remake Happy Together is doing really well and is still in production with brand new episodes.
    • Polish sitcom Swiat wedlug Kiepskich is Gender Flipped - the main character is stay-at-home, lazy, unemployed husband, assisted by dumb muscle of a son, with hard working mother and boy-crazed daughter.
    • "Hilfe meine Familie spinnt" is a German example from The Nineties. It was aired at the same time the American original was aired and, not very surprisingly, didn't go over well.
    • There's also a Brazilian version named "A Guerra dos Pintos" (Pinto being the surname of the Bundys' Brazilian counterparts) but it didn't go very well either. The first episode was an adaptation of the original series' first episode.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": Al calls a junkyard in Rhode Island looking for an alternator for his Dodge. He spends 90% of the episode on their automated response system. Once he finally got to talk with some real person, Kelly ruined it all. Depressed, Al decided to spend the rest of his life in the basement, where he was treated to the same Arc Words Bud was earlier in the episode: "If you build it, he'll come." (Does it sound familiar?) But then the mysterious voice added: "If you want him to build it for you, press one."
    • The real Brick Joke here is that once Al pushes the right options describing his car, the automated voice then says "Hello Mr. Bundy!"
  • Former Child Star: In the episode, "You Better Shop Around" Jerry Mathers (known for Leave it to Beaver) guest stars, playing himself as a washed-up former child star, who has resorted to judging shopping contests in supermarkets. Bud and Kelly mercilessly mock him for this until he brought up the fact their Dad sells shoes for a living.
    • "How Green Was My Apple" also had Danny Bonaduce (from The Partridge Family) and Gary Coleman from Diff'rent Strokes trying to dodge their child star pasts with no success.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's implied in several episodes that Kelly's promiscuity stems from being starved for attention and treated as the Butt Monkey in her own family (the episode where Al invents shoe-lights lampshaded this with Kelly's (who is being used as the guinea pig for shoe-lights) line: "'Kelly, this meat is green. Taste it to see if it's good.' 'Kelly, there's a noise downstairs. Go see if it's a burglar.' No wonder I run into the arms of strange men").
  • "Friends" Rent Control: The place might not look like much, but when you consider that it's a multilevel home and that the sole breadwinner most episodes is a shoe salesman who makes less money than an Eskimo blubber-chewer, a French deodorant salesman, or a Pakistani dirt vendor, and whose failure at almost everything is a Running Gag...
  • Full-Name Basis: Bob Rooney is never called anything but Bob Rooney, even by his wife.
  • Fun with Acronyms: NO MA'AM: The National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood (in one episode, this was changed to "Numb Old Men Anxiously Awaiting Mortician")
    • Also Marcy's counter-organization FANG: Feminists Against Neanderthal Guys.
      • And at another point, Marcy and Peg started WOMB: Women Owe Men Bupkis.
  • Game Between Heirs: There's an episode in which Al's Uncle Stymie, the only male Bundy to be a success in life (Al credits this to the fact Stymie was the only one who never married), left his $500,000 estate to the first male Bundy to have a legitimate son named after him. Considering that the lawyer who read the will would later marry a male Bundy and give birth to Stymie Junior to get the money, Al and the other Bundys who didn't get the money could have challenged the will under claims of undue influence.
  • Gargle Blaster: Peggy tries serving Al a glass of orange...something that spews smoke everywhere.
    Al: ...
    Peggy: Al...we thought you might be thirsty...so I made you some Tang.
    Al: ...Tang don't smoke.
    Kelly: Oh! This is new and improved "Smoking Tang!" Chock full of vitamins and ministers!
  • Gay Moment
  • Get Rich Quick Scheme: Al was continually hatching these. Given that he was, well, Al Bundy, they usually tended to blow up in his face. To be fair, most of these schemes involved shoes.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In one Season 6 episode, either the censors were unfamiliar with slang, or they were dead for this joke.
    Peg: I have to go to the doctor... I'm pregnant, you Zagnut. And I want you to come with me.
    Al: Why? I never came with you before!
  • Gilligan Cut: Many times.
  • Glory Days: Al's many stories about how he "scored four touchdowns in one game".
  • Gold Digger: Peg, despite the fact that her husband has a crappy job. Gender Flipped by Jefferson, whose marriage to banker Marcy is based on this trope. One of the more subtle jokes in the series was that mortal enemies Al and Marcy are essentially in exactly the same situation when it comes to their spouses and that Al's best friend had all the flaws he complains about in his own wife.
    • It was acknowledged as well: one episode opens with Al coming home, and delivering a speech ostensibly to Peg about how he's been working all day while she just sits on the couch watching TV and munching bonbons. The camera then pans out to reveal that he's talking to Jefferson.
    • Also in an episode (one of Steve's last on the show) where Marcy was among those commiserating with Al and his bar buddies over working to pay for unappreciative families.
    • One episode had Marcy wanting to leave her husband because he didn't make as much money as he used to when he wanted to pursue his dream job, making her seem like this as well.
    • One of the episodes where Marcy got him a job, she told him she was tired of having him commenting about Oprah every time she gets home and that it was like being married to Peggy.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: This happened to Al after he made the mistake of looking up when he had a fat woman in the chair at the shoe store and ended up seeing her underwear, which she hadn't changed in five days.
  • Gonk:
    • This was the type of woman Bud usually ended up attracting, much to his chagrin.
    • Peg's mother was implied to be this, although we were spared the horror of actually seeing what she looked like.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: "Torch Song Duet": Al is jealous of all of the praise Griff is getting after he helps him win a quiz show over the radio, which rewards Griff with the opportunity to carry the Olympic Torch in the mall.
  • Gypsy Curse: The Bundy family has multiple ones upon them. The eternal darkness in Lower Uncton is one of them, Al's smelly feet are another one, and the general successlessness of every Bundy in history is said to be yet another one.
    • Al's Uncle Stymie avoided the successlessness, which Al attributes to the fact Stymie never got married.
    • And how about being turned into chimpanzees by a Gypsy's curse.
      • And Buck was turned into a human (played by his usual voice actor).

    H-M 
  • Halloween Episode: "Take My Wife, Please": While the family and Jefferson masquerade as the Village People for Marcy's women's group, Al wishes he was dead and is visited by the Grim Reaper (who assumes the form of Peg). Well, it was All Just a Dream... or was it?
  • Heel-Face Turn: During the seasons where Al started "NO MA'AM", Officer Dan went from being the cop who always arrested Al to being his best friend.
  • Henpecked Husband: Steve is flanderized into this. Jefferson is also this. Al has them both beat, though. Except on a few rare occasions, it's clear that Peggy is the true head of the household. As he himself notes, Al is more like the ox who's destined to plow the fields until he keels over stone dead.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Well, Al is a hero to many people in real life. In one episode, Al ruefully admits that, however, much he might ogle other women, at the end of the day Peg is still the one he wants.
  • Heroic BSOD: Al suffered a couple of these over the course of the series after particularly traumatic or horrifying experiences (being beaten at bowling, accidentally looking up a fat woman's dress and seeing her filthy underwear, being forced to have sex with his wife, etc.).
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath/Villain Protagonist: Al's favorite tv character "Psycho Dad" straddles the line between this.
    • As the theme lyrics say, "He's a darn good pa, but he hates the law."
  • Hidden Depths: Every now and then, Kelly manages to display this.
  • High School: Al frequently reminisces on how he "scored four touchdowns in one game".
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Many jokes about what a lousy mother Peg was to Bud and Kelly.
    • As bad as Bud and Kelly's childhoods were, several episodes imply that Al's was even worse. His mother was an alcoholic, and his father abandoned the family for a hooker.
  • Hired for Their Looks: In "Rain Girl", Kelly Bundy becomes a TV station's "weather bunny" at a higher salary than the station's professional meteorologist, to his outrage.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Terry Rakolta's attempts to have the show cancelled only increased its success.
    • Then there's the cause of Al's Big "NO!" above. A scoreboard that was going to be named after Al due to his memetic mutation "4 touchdowns in a single game" was scheduled to be named after Terry Bradshaw... who hadn't played any football while attending Polk High. Because of this, Al wired the scoreboard to detonate at the unveiling... only to find out that Bradshaw had declined the honor and pushed for it to be named after Al instead.
  • Hollywood Dateless + Casanova Wannabe: Bud. It's possible that his poor performance when he actually manages to have sex is part of the problem-Ariel, Tina Yothers, and Cousin Jimmy's fiance all imply that Bud didn't exactly wow them in bed.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Kelly, the Trope Codifier if not the outright Ur Example. Bud also counts as the male equivalent. See A Date with Rosie Palms.
  • House Amnesia: A three-part episode featured the Bundys (minus Lucky) going to England. There, Al gets in a fight with a man named Igor and Kelly was heard telling Igor to get back to England.
  • Housewife: Definitely not Peg, though Al wants her to be one. Peg was brainwashed to be a competent housewife on a later season episode where Peg bumps her head on the coffee table and immediately loses her memory.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Only a Bundy can fuck with another Bundy and get away with it unscathed.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Al spends many episodes insulting females for being unattractive despite the fact that he's just as unattractive. Meanwhile, Peg and Marcy often insult men in general, and Al specifically, for only ever thinking about sex and attractive women, and then immediately start talking about their sexual fantasies.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender: Al.
  • Idiot Ball: The entire cast (Rhoadeses/D'Arcys inclusive). They're not passing it around. They're not playing a hot potato with a couple of those. They're frantically juggling a dozen or more in the wildest game of dysfunctional family and neighbourhood circus you've ever seen in your current or any of your past or future lives.
  • If I Do Not Return: This had been played with in T*R*A*S*H
    Griff: If I don't make it, would you look up my ex-wife and...
    Al: And tell her that you love her?
    Griff: No, tell her that she's a bitch!
  • I'll Kill You!: In one episode, Bud wanted Kelly to become fat so she'd become the "before" model for a wight-loss ad. Enraged at what one of his attempts did, she threatened to kill him and later bury him alive.
  • Indecisive Parody: The "Ship of Passion" episode.
  • Indian Burial Ground: While it would explain a lot if the Bundys lived on an Indian burial ground, they actually live on an Indian garbage dump. The Bundy property was originally a landfill where the Native Americans threw their rotting moccasins.
  • Innocent Innuendo: In one episode, Jefferson, Marcy, Kelly and Bud hear what sounds like Peg is playing with Al's junk, while in fact she was just fixing Al's neck tie.
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: Marcy and Steve. In one episode Marcy mentions they were busy that day and only had time for "a little three-hour love-fest."
  • Invisible Holes
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: A two-part Christmas Episode, where Al's guardian angel (played by Sam Kinison) shows Al's life if he were never born. Turns out that without Al, Peg is a competent housewife married to a rich man (played by the actor who would later play Marcy's husband, Jefferson), Bud respects women, and Kelly is college-bound, a published poet, and still a virgin. Al then elects to exist out of pure spite.
  • Jaded Washout: Former trope namer.
  • Jerkass Gods: Al believes that God has it in for him, and it's strongly implied that this is true. When God comes up with a particularly cruel twist of fate, or an especially vicious insult apparently directed at Al, Al will occasionally sarcastically compliment God, or simply ask Him if He doesn't have anything else to do.
    Al: Death can't possibly be this busy!
    • A particularly noteworthy episode that could be taken as proof of divine beings toying with him — Kelly has a good-paying new job as the Verminator, Bud has moved into a fraternity, and Al has all attractive customers at the shoe store. To culminate, he has a very lucky night of poker and cleans out Jefferson's friends before they bet all their cars against his winnings, and Al gets four Aces and wins. Then the cops bust in, the cars are stolen, they arrest Al and take his winnings. Al, who has been Genre Savvy enough to recognize his fall was inevitable, asks one of them to turn on the TV. The news report says the Verminator crashed her motorcycle during a stunt when a red-haired woman took her picture, and crashed into and destroyed a fraternity home.
    Reporter: At this time, no one is yet sure which fraternity was destroyed.
    Al: Oh, I'm sure.
    • And then just to Kick the Dog, as the police haul him out Al gets struck by lightning, and the news reporter says that the weather is sunny and clear except over one single house.
      • Jefferson points out dark clouds are ALWAYS over Al's house. Go figure.
  • Jerk Jock: It's implied in several episodes that Al was one of these in high school before he married Peg.
  • Joker Jury: Al's shoe store is taken over by a group of overweight women who put him on 'trial' for all of the fat jokes he has made about them over the years.
  • Just Divorce Peg: Many viewers wondered why Al didn't just kick Peg out, raise the kids without her poisonous influence, and have all the blonde floozies he wants. This is answered in a three-parter where they really do separate, but are shown to be in love with each other in their own twisted way.
  • Kangaroo Court: Naturally, this happened to Al in an episode (on his birthday, no less, where, among other things, Peg promised she would not bother him for sex, and intended to keep that promise), where a group of overweight women took over his shoe store and put him on trial for him insulting them over the years. (In Clip Show format.) It got even more twisted when Peg showed up; at first she reluctantly admitted she sympathized with them (his fat jokes directed towards her mother had been kind of mean) but eventually, she started to find them just as bad as he did. While they found him guilty at first, Al got them to "pardon" him by confessing that he had a Freudian Excuse for insulting them, saying he was overweight as a child and had been teased just as much. After they left, he told Peg that he was lying about that to get rid of them. One good thing did come out of this; while Peg was still intent on keeping her promise, Al told her that after having to look at them all day, she didn't look all too bad right now, leading to a rare moment of intimacy between them. (Well, as best the show could do.)
  • Karma Houdini: Peg. So, so much. Let us count the ways: she steals from Al, shops as if it's compulsive, was complicit in killing a fitness guru, engages in petty rivalries, lets her kids starve, and is just as mean spirited as the rest of the family, and yet she rarely sees any punishment. The only times she ever got punished for doing something bad was: (a) when Al finds out she's been selling make-up to herself and makes her get a job as a Burger Fool to pay off the damages, and (b) when Al psychologically tortures her with thoughts of being pregnant after telling her that she's pregnant, but they won't get any inheritance money as the lawyer who read the will married a Bundy male relative and had a baby. Also (c), when Al makes her do yardwork in exchange for sex, as the sight of her actually working is Fetish Fuel for him.
    • In "Poppy's by the Tree," the ax murderer is let off for one reason: he's "The Man Who Met Andy Griffith" and the town's only other claim to fame. When the townspeople find out he may not be able to speak at the high school after Al clocked him on the head, they were pretty much ready to lynch the Bundies.
  • Kent Brockman News: often used in the early episodes and when Miranda Veracruz de la Hoya Cardinal (the Latina news anchor) was introduced in the later episodes.
  • Kick the Dog: If something bad has happened to Al it 'will' get worse. If he has a pet the dog moment, it will be undone tenfold in the last few seconds of the episode. Everyone from his family, friends, neighbors, city officials, complete strangers and even God delight in not only pushing him to the ground but grinding his face into the dirt to see if he can go further down.
  • The Lad-ette: Marcy's sister Mandy.
  • Lampshade Hanging: A common complaint about the show was how strange it was that Al refuses to ever have sex with Peg when she's portrayed by the very attractive Katey Sagal. A later episode all about Al's aversion to sex with his wife has a scene where Al ogles a young, beautiful blonde woman whose husband is just as disinterested in her and is instead ogling Peg.
  • Lethal Chef: Peg in the early episodes. In the later episodes, she didn't cook at all (except when Al used the money from the "No Chicken, No Check" insurance company to force Peg to buy meat, when Peg's insanely obese mom started making money as a phone sex operator, and when Peg suffered amnesia and Al brainwashed her into being a competent housewife).
    • However, this habit of Peg's also resulted in a bit of good luck for the kids when her leftover Mystery Meal results in the band Anthrax being quarantined to the Bundy house for an entire month.
  • Let's Get Dangerous:
    • And whenever "Bad to the Bone" started playing.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Israeli adaptation. The characters extreme characterisation of later seasons was significantly toned down and Al and Peg (or Shuki and Mali) has a few Aw They Really Do Love Each Other moments.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Rumors abounded that David Faustino and Christina Applegate were an item. Faustino denied this, saying that Applegate was more like a sister to him.
  • Literal Metaphor: Al once made a Deal with the Devil and ended up Dragged Off to Hell. There, he commented it was hot like in hell. He then realized why.
  • Little Girls Kick Shins: In a two-part episode, Al wouldn't allow a woman to breastfeed her baby in the shoe store. In retaliation, Marcy brings several women with babies to protest. He then recognizes one of them as Jefferson holding a doll. Enraged, Al took it from him and asked if he knew what Al intended to do with it. Then a little girl appeared and Jefferson suggested returning it to the little girl he took it from. Al did and got kicked for that.
  • Long Runners: 10 years (11 seasons) on the air made this FOX's longest-running live action scripted program, and their fifth-longest running show overall (behind some other very well-known shows).
  • Lovely Assistant: In an episode, where Al and Peggy compete in a game show:
    Host: Hello there, and welcome to How Do I Love Thee?! The game show that dares to ask; "How do I love thee?". For those of you who're totally ignorant of today's superstars, I'm Bink Winkleman. [one person applauds] Thank you! And here's our own little piece of fluff that the network thrust upon me, The Lovely Zelda. [great applause]
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Al falls in love with Jasmine, Peg's stripper alter-ego, not knowing who she really is.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Inverted with Al and Peg; she's the one who always wants sex, while he's usually sickened by the very thought.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Now you know why Bud goes to such absurd lengths to get some action.
  • Mars and Venus Gender Contrast: A driving force for both plot, dialogue and characterization.
  • The Millstone: Peg.
  • Mistaken for Quake: Peggy's unseen mother is so fat...(how fat is she?)...She's so fat that the earth quakes when she walks, making others think an earthquake is happening.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: One episode has Al the the NO MA'AM crew seeking out advice from a legendary Bad Ass who has become a hermit at the top of "the tallest mountain in Illinois."
  • Ms. Fanservice: If you don't understand why Kelly is this, you've obviously never seen the show.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg
    Al: Ladies and Gentlemen... (nods) Marcy... I got my pie!
    • Would occasionally happen to Peg:
    Al: Hi Bud...hi Kelly...hi Couch Monster...
  • My Skull Runneth Over: The episode "Kelly Knows Something" featured a low-grade version of this, in that Kelly is capable of learning new things, but there is only so much room inside her brain, and for every new piece of info that finally gets pounded in, something else gets pushed out.note  The episode centers around training Kelly for a quiz show... and by the time Bud is done with her, she has forgotten what a doorbell is.
    • And at the climax of the show, a short film overwrites the answer to the last question... which is about Al's Memetic Mutation accomplishment.

    N-S 
  • National Stereotypes: To get a promotion at her banking job, Marcy once tried to suck up to her Japanese boss by playing up all kinds of absurd Japanese stereotypes. We hear the thoughts of the boss (played by Pat Morita, a.k.a. Mr. Myagi), and he's not impressed.
  • Nausea Dissonance: In "Hot off the Grill", everyone at Al's cookout reacts with disgust when they learn that Kelly added the ashes of Marcy's dead aunt to Al's grill. Everyone, that is, except Steve, who hated said aunt...and starts grinning as he eats his "Bundy-burger" with even more enthusiasm.
  • Necktie Leash: Marcy once did this to Jefferson when they were role-playing as Al and Peggy.
  • Negative Continuity: The many stories of how Peg and Al got married. Was it a shotgun wedding orchestrated by Peg's redneck family or did Al get drunk one night and marry Peg at a wedding chapel, only to realize the mistake he made once the hangover hit him?
    • The general consensus is that Al had too much to drink one night and proposed to Peg while under the influence. When he sobered up, he had a My God, What Have I Done? moment and tried to get out of it, but Peg's father forced him at gunpoint to follow through (or, according to one episode, drugged Al [Al tells Peg that if her father didn't lace his lemonade with vermouth, he'd still be single]). This timetable offers a fairly accurate picture of how it turned out.
  • Never Learned to Read: Kelly is barely literate (though one episode showed that Kelly used to be smart until she hit her head in a car accident).
  • Never Trust a Hair Tonic: In an early episode, Al and Steve freak out about their baldness and try an experimental "tonic" to reverse it. Not only does it not work, but Al's dog Buck takes to the stuff better than their hair did (they were actually using some kind of dog food in their hair, and the doctor who sold it to them was a quack).
    • In another episode, Kelly accidentally created a hair tonic named "Bleen", which worked but had the side-effect of having the male users want to have sex with their wives. The divorced Griff complained that the tonic made him pay the overdue alimony.
  • No Accounting for Taste: On both ends of the main couple. Peg's a lazy, sarcastic millstone who always takes from Al and doesn't contribute anything on her end, while Al is a miserable sexist in a dead-end job and clinging to his glory days as a football player.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: About the only thing the Bundys do well is fight. Whenever they get into a scuffle with another family, it's always a crowning moment of awesome.
  • Noir Episode: "Al Bundy, Shoe Dick", where Al pretends to be a noirish private eye after getting a measly job working as the real detective's janitor and cleaning up his office. He is invited to a private party by a sultry dame who mistakes him for the real deal and where he has to solve an unexpected murder, and the Private Eye Monologueing is roundly spoofed. After solving the mystery it turns out it was All Just a Dream.
  • Noodle Incident: On a Season 3 episode where Kelly has a slumber party and the Rhoades lose their house, Al forbids Kelly to have a slumber party because the last time she had it, there were boys in the house, someone shaved Al's head in his sleep, and she was tried as an adult at the age of eight. There was no further information.
    • Al hs been banned from the freeway, and he talks about it in season 3 like it's nothing new.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Cheating to win is a proud Bundy tradition. Al won a senior citizens' athletic contest by lying about his age to compete, Peg fixed the vote to win Reunion Queen at her high school reunion, Bud has won fights against bigger men by smashing them over the head with chairs or bottles, and Kelly won a boxing match for a movie role by stepping on her opponent's foot so she couldn't dodge and then punching her out.
  • Not So Different: In order to escape being held hostage by fat women, Al cooks up a false traumatic childhood memory in which he, too, was overweight and knew the pain of being bullied for it (by his own parents, no less). This realization moves the women to let him go free.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Jefferson is a retired CIA agent. When Al initially finds this out, he's offered a large cash reward for information leading to Jefferson's capture. However, due to their being in the middle of a prank war, Al wasn't sure if was legit or not. At the end of the episode, Jefferson scares Al before playing it off as a large-scale hoax until we hear on the still-playing television that the man who'd offered the reward had just died while watching a baseball game. Never has someone blowing a noise-maker been so creepily funny.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: When the noise Al makes building Lucky's doghouse bothers Marcy, she bribes a city building inspector to harass Al and make him jump through a bunch of hoops to finally get the doghouse approved, including having plumbing and handicap access installed. Hilarity Ensues.
    • On the other hand, Al got the last laugh when he used all the leftover cement he'd had to buy for the doghouse foundation and dumps it all over Marcy's Mercedes. On top of this, Kelly's Latin Lover wanted to spend some time impressing her father, so he was quite willing to pay for everything, plus a bit extra at Al's request.
  • Oh, Crap: Used 3 times in a row in one scene of "The Worst Noel" with Bud as he and Kelly are trying to get a jukebox into their parents' bedroom as a present.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: One Season 8 episode features Al coming to the defense of an old classmate of his against Ray-Ray, a young gang leader who's making her life miserable.
  • Old Maid: Miss Hardaway.
  • Only Sane Man: Compared to the rest of the cast, Griff seems to be the only character who is at least relatively grounded in reality.
    • Steve was this, at least when he was a regular character.
  • Emmy Bait: One episode had Al panicking because he left something important in the trunk of his car, but he won't tell anyone exactly what. Peg laughs it off by saying it's his porn stash. However, at the end of the episode it's revealed it was a porn magazine, but more importantly, a picture of his family looking happy hidden in there. Cue subtitles that read: "For your Emmy considerations."
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: On the episode where Kelly and Jefferson raise money by pool-hustling, Al sells his blood to get in on the action. He later does it again to pay the water bill.
  • Overprotective Dad: Al regularly pummels Kelly's boyfriends (and one time, Bud, since Al is used to seeing Kelly bring home sleazy dates and didn't know Bud brought an actual girl home). Subverted by the fact that most of the guys she dates are scum that no sane father would allow his daughter to date.
    • Another episode had the underage Kelly about to drink a beer, but she immediately put it down at the look of genuine anger and disapproval on Al's face.
    • Al telling off the older woman he thinks the underage Bud is having an affair with. It's the wrong woman, but it's the right reaction.
    • Throughout the show, especially in the early seasons, both parents basically had "Oh, hell no" reactions to the kids doing something wrong.
    • Surprisingly averted with Peg's father. He's actually quite cordial to Al, and seems to approve of him so much that he actually forced Al at gunpoint to follow through on his proposal to Peg, which he made after having too much to drink one night.
  • Out-Gambitted: Walter Trogget, one of Jefferson's old enemies from his days in the CIA, tries to get revenge on him through Al. Jefferson outmaneuvers Trogget by tricking Al into thinking that the whole thing is an April Fool's prank, after which he has Troggett killed.
  • Parallel Porn Titles: A good half-dozen in the subplot to the episode "Dial 'B' for Virgin" where Al and Peg go to a video store. Al's favorite is "Forrest Hump".
  • Parental Neglect: Al and Peg often take this to an extreme.
  • Pass the Popcorn: The reaction for the wives whenever their husbands attempt to Doom It Yourself. The episode "The Egg and I" features the entire Bundy clan gleefully watching Marcy, Steve and Jefferson fight next door, complete with binoculars, video camera and, yes, popcorn.
  • Performance Anxiety: Played with in one episode when Marcy is anxious about having to deliver bad news at a presentation to her bank executives. She sees a psychotherapist who conditions her to associate public speaking with sex. This not only relieves her performance anxiety, but causes her to have an orgasm during the presentation. She's soon in demand throughout Chicago as a speaker delivering bad news.
  • Perpetual Poverty
  • Pet the Dog: Titular character of Show Within a Show Psycho Dad murdered at least three wives, but he's described as a good father to his son.
    • In one of his few moments of being a kind father to his son, Al rescued Bud from an absolutely pathetic party planned by his mother by taking him to the fabled nudie bar on his 18th birthday.
  • Pick on Someone Your Own Size: A young Al becomes the enemy of a middle-aged librarian named Miss DeGroot note . Thirty years later, the now elderly librarian still has a grudge against the now middle-aged Al.
  • Plague of Good Fortune: The dreaded "Bundy Curse" brings bad luck to any Bundys who ever get lucky in anything.
    • Except Bud, who gets laid.
  • Plumber's Crack: In "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"note , Al hires a beautiful woman to fix the the fridge so he can ogle her butt as she bends over. When the fridge breaks down again, he is forced to hire an overweight man with prominent plumber's crack to do the same job.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The episodes "Top of the Heap" (where Al's high school friend and his dimwitted son try to fit in at a high-class party), "Radio Free Trumaine" (where Marcy protests against two obnoxious college radio DJs from Bud's school), and "Enemies" (where Kelly dates a delivery man with a bunch of petty, sarcastic friends).
  • Porn Stash: Al sure loves his Big 'Uns magazines. At one time, he even had a collection of Playboy's dating back before the '70s... which Peg sold.
    • Bud loved Al's nudie magazines, too — and had his own collection.
  • Pose of Silence
  • Pottery Barn Poor: For as often as money troubles popped up for the Bundys, their house was certainly outfitted well.
  • Pretty Freeloaders: The rest of the family sponges off Al; rare male examples occur with Bud and Jefferson, who's married to Marcy.
  • Pretty in Mink: When the Bundy's try to swipe some stuff at a relative's mansion, Kelly grabs a fur coat.
    • A dentist has to deal with his money-grubbing ex-wife and Gold Digger secretary he's dating, who just bought a blue fox coat, which was even more expensive than the fur she bought the day before.
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: "Flight of the Bumblebee".
  • Property Line: "How Green Was My Apple", where The Bundys and the D'Arcys wage war over an apple tree.
  • Put on a Bus: The second and third times Katey Sagal became pregnant, her character was written out of the show until she was ready to return to work (to avoid a repeat of the sad Real Life Writes the Plot incident). This trope also applied to Steve (who was written off as leaving Marcy so he can be a park ranger) when David Garrison left the show to return to theater.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Frank Sinatra's "Love and Marriage".
    • Sadly, on Hulu and on the DVD box sets from Season 3 onwards, the theme song was replaced by generic orchestra music because the rights-holder for the song's (which is not the Sinatra family) royalty demands are too high.
    • On one episode of Jeopardy!, the Final Jeopardy catagory was Sitcom Theme Songs. The answer "Current Sitcom whose theme is sung by Frank Sinatra" stumped all three contestants.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: In Season 6, Katey Sagal got pregnant, resulting in Peggy doing the same. After Katey Sagal's miscarriage, it was made All Just a Dream out of sensitivity to the tragedy. Then when Katey Sagal got pregnant again, the pregnancy was covered up by having Peg either sitting at the kitchen table or off the show on her own storyline where she's living with her redneck parents in Wisconsin and ends up traveling the world to get her father back.
    • Also, Bud's "Grandmaster B" persona was created in response to a rapper phase David Faustino actually went through during the previous season. The writers found it so annoying that they paid him back by having him doing it on the show.
  • Really Gets Around: Kelly. Peggy, to a lesser extent when she was in high school (on the Christmas episode with Sam Kinison as Al's guardian angel, after alternate-universe Peggy tells alternate-universe Kelly that she saved herself for marriage, Al scoffs, "Oh please! The basketball team had to retire her jersey!")
  • Retcon: In an early episode, Al mentions his boss Gary (who he never met before) was in a plane crash and presumed dead, but he survived. In a later season. Gary was a woman.
  • Retired Badass: Jefferson, of all people. One episode involved him rappelling down into Fidel Castro's office and holding him at knifepoint - only it turned out he and Fidel were old friends from Jefferson's CIA days.
  • "Risky Business" Dance: In "Breaking up is Easy to Do, Part 2".
  • Sadist Show: Everyone on the show (women included — except for the fanservice extras) was abused, manipulated, used, and screwed over in some way, shape, or form (all Played for Laughs)
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Al, of course. How the mighty have fallen...
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!:
    Jefferson: We beautiful people should be above the law. We should have special parking spots! With a smiley on them, because we make people happy!
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage: Even though Al is very unhappy in his marriage and leers at every attractive woman, when he gets an actual chance to cheat on his wife, he always stays faithful.
  • Self-Made Man: Stymie Bundy. Al credits Stymie's success to the fact Stymie never got married.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Bud Bundy.
  • Shotgun Wedding: An unusual variation in that Peg wasn't actually pregnant with Kelly at the time, but rather that Al had too much to drink one night and proposed to Peg while he was loaded. After he sobered up he tried to get out of his proposal, but then Peg's father invoked this trope to make him follow through on it. Peggy's father brings the shotgun to the couple's ceremony to renew their wedding vows to make sure Al doesn't back out of that as well—and informs him that "this time, it's loaded". Al's shocked realization that it wasn't loaded the first time and that he could have gotten out of the marriage is priceless.
    • The three-part episode where the Bundys briefly separate was originally pitched with the plot point that Al only married Peggy because she was pregnant with Kelly and the the dramatic reveal during therapy that Peggy tricked Al into marriage by claiming to be pregnant and actually conceiving their daughter on the honeymoon.
  • Shot in the Ass: Al suffered from this when Kelly was practicing archery.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A toilet gag, to All in the Family.
    • Also numerous references to other TV shows that were on at the time. In one episode, Al criticizes Friends, only for Bud to find him watching it later; Al's excuse is that if you turn the sound off and watch with binoculars, you can tell that Rachel isn't wearing a bra.
    • The creators of the show were all fans of Professional Wrestling, and chose the surname "Bundy" as an homage to legendary Heel King Kong Bundy (who appeared on the show as one of Peggy's relatives).
      • He also appeared in the episode where Bud needs a picture of himself w/ King Kong to get into NO MA'AM.
      • The Rhodes were named after "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes.
      • Unfortunately, many people who weren't wrestling fans misinterpreted the Shout-Out and thought the creators named the family after Ted Bundy. Lampshaded when the kids are thinking about changing their last name, and candidates include Manson and Berkowitz. And Berkowitz would be a character portrayed by the actor known as "Psycho Dad".
    • Stymie Bundy was named after a Little Rascal. Matthew "Stymie" Beard, to be exact. Al once called him "Uncle Buckwheat" (Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas) and Kelly once called him "Uncle Spanky" (George "Spanky" Mc Farland). The three of them were from the Roach talkie period.
    • An episode of Futurama has Katey Sagal's character Leela devolve into a one eyed Peggy Expy about to be married to an alien named Alkezar (Who insists she call him "Al").
  • The Show Goes Hollywood: The multi-part episode "Kelly Does Hollywood".
  • Show Within a Show: Al's favorite was "Psycho Dad", a Western series about a father who went insane and visited horrible, violent retribution on everyone around him.
    • For some reason, the lyrics to the Psycho Dad theme song changed every time it was viewed.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Marcy and Al. This seems to have extended to real life as well; Ed O'Neil and Amanda Bearse reportedly did not get along very well, to the point that he wasn't even invited to her wedding. [1]
  • Slapstick Knows no Gender: Occasionally done to all three female main characters. Peg's had both Al and a fat woman fall and land on top of her, Kelly's been bitten by poisonous insects and and hit with a frisbee, and Marcy's been run over with a shopping cart. All three of them have been electrocuted and fallen down the basement stairs.
  • The Smart Guy: Bud... usually.
  • Smelly Feet: A running joke for Al, as well as for several of the fat women he must deal with at his store.
  • Something Completely Different: the three pilot episodes that had The Bundys in supporting roles; the dream episode where the Grim Reaper (who appears as Peg) haunts Al on Halloween after Al wishes he was dead; the fantasy episode where The Devil (played by Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund) buys Al's soul after Al wishes he could play professional football; the 3D episode where Al is locked in a store; the war movie parody episode "T*R*A*S*H" where Al and Griff [Al's coworker in the later seasons] enlist in the National Guard and help quell a garbage strike.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: An entire episode (season 5's "Oldies But Young 'Uns") involves Al's attempt to identify a song for which he only remembers one word of one line: "…mm mm him." It turns out to be Arthur Alexander's "Anna (Go to Him)".
  • So Proud of You: Al and Peg have both expressed this to the kids whenever they do something particularly underhanded. Al has expressed his pride in Bud when Bud beat up bigger guys in a bar fight by hitting them with weapons or trapped and tortured him in the basement because he got mad at Al for refusing to repair Bud's room. When Peg was blackmailed by Bud and Kelly into sharing the money she would have gotten by selling the engine of Al's Dodge, she's shocked that they'd resort to doing something like that...and then gushes at how proud she is of them for doing so.
  • Spanner in the Works: For rather obvious reasons, Kelly had a tendency to screw up whatever scheme she became involved in. It's even lampshaded by Peggy at one point as the Bundys and the D'Arcys are being arrested by the police, when she notes that it probably wasn't a good idea to let Kelly in on the plan.
  • Speed Sex: Al is constantly mocked for his performance in bed. On of Peg's many insults: "I used to call you The Minute Man. Now I long for those days."
    • Played with as part of the gag that he doesn't want to do it with her. On more then one occasion it's shown that when he wants to, he can satisfy her.
  • Spinning Paper
  • Spin-Off: Season 5 had a few episodes created specifically to set up the short-lived spinoff Top of the Heap, whose cast included Matt LeBlanc and Joey Lauren Adams.
    • Top of the Heap curiously received a short-lived continuation of its own: Vinnie & Bobby. LeBlanc and Adams returned, though Vinnie's father was mysteriously gone.
  • Spiritual Successor: In many ways, Married... was one of these to It's Your Move, an NBC sitcom from 1984 which had the same creators (Ron Leavitt and Michael G. Moye) and a similarly cynical brand of humor, and starred future Married... cast member David Garrison along with a then-unknown Jason Bateman.
    • Unhappily Ever After, in turn, can be seen as somewhat of a Spiritual Successor (with a fair amount of Follow the Leader thrown in) to Married... itself. It, too, was co-created by Ron Leavitt.
  • Studio Audience: A particularly raucous example, especially as the show's plots became more and more absurd. Audience members could be heard gasping, guffawing, and muttering among themselves whenever they saw something particularly odd. This was taken to obnoxious levels in later seasons when a character would enter and be followed by several seconds of cheering. Multiply that by six human characters, Buck/Lucky, and an assortment of big name guest stars, and later season episodes had probably over a minute of characters entering, than waiting for the audience adulation to die down.
    • Christina Applegate has said that some male members of the studio audience would wrap themselves around the gallery's railings and refuse to leave until she came out to see them.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: At one point Al is cursing people involved with communism. Castro, Chroesjtsjev... Steve Allen. Why Steve Allen? He just doesn't like him. Later Fidel Castro shows, and he too starts cursing people... And Steve Allen. Why? He just doesn't like him.
  • Straw Feminist: Marcy.
  • Straw Hypocrite: MARCY.
  • Straw Misogynist: Everyone in NO MA'AM, especially when they... kidnap Jerry Springer for calling out abusive men.
  • Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks: In "Luck of the Bundys," Al watches a rap video channel that features songs such as "Pump That Rump," "Rump Shaker" and "Ghetto Booty."
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Jefferson for Steve, and Lucky the dog for Buck.
    • Lucky is actually The Nth Doctor. When Buck died he went to dog heaven but was screwed by the Hanging Judge who happened to be a cat. He was punished by being reincarnated as the Bundy family's next dog.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: A few of Al's foes have expressed this, with varying degrees of sincerity. The most sincere might be when he finally settles things with his old high school rival Spare Tire. After the two recreate the football play that was the high point of their respective careers and Spare Tire is beaten, he admits Al won and shows admiration for the run Al did.

    T-Z 
  • Take Our Word for It: Peg's mother is incredibly fat. Just don't expect to see her.
    • We actually get to see Peg's mother in some of the comics based on the series.
  • Take That: "Oh, they're doing Full House in 3D." "Is the third dimension the funny one?"
    • "...And if the Bears lose to the Rams, they get thrown out of the league."
      • In 1995, the show's taping locale moved from the Fox set to the Sony Pictures set on which Full House taped. Prior to taping the first episode in the new set, the cast and crew held an exorcism to rid it of the spirits of Full House.
    • A lot of the early episodes make a lot of mentions of Joe Piscopo (started out on SNL's 1980-1981 season, but became popular when paired with Eddie Murphy — until Eddie Murphy left after Season 9 {1983-1984})
    • In part 1 of the 3-part "The England Show", Al takes his shoes off on the plane to England, making the passengers and Peg complain about the smell, prompting Al to say, "Hey, they show Dutch, and they think I stink?". Ed O'Neill was in that movie.
    • In the episode where Al and Peg visit a video store the movie "Dutch" shown with "Free" plastered over Ed O'Neill's face on the cover. Nobody takes it.
  • Take a Third Option: When one of Al's classmates from high school asks him to deal with a young street punk named Ray-Ray who's been causing trouble for her restaurant, Al offers to "settle" things with the kid either in the restaurant, or out on the street. Ray-Ray replies by invoking this trope, giving a whistle to summon his gang to back him up. Cue the Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Technology Marches On: "Fox Viewing Positions", poking fun at the various weird things you used to have to do to pick up some broadcast TV stations using rabbit ear antennas.
    • Played with in the episode The Computer Show; the top-of-the-line computer the Bundys get has the following specs: "a 3600 baud modem, a VGA high-resolution color monitor, a 40 megabyte harddisk, and 7 megabytes of RAM". Marcy calls it the Steve Rhodes of computers, a week later Marcy calls it outdated, slow, and laughably obsolete; the Al Bundy of computers... 2014 audiences would especially agree with that one, their phones are superior in every way note !
  • Teens Are Short: Unintentionally played straight with, David Faustino, who plays the youngest member of the Bundy clan starting at 13, yet remained the shortest even after he finished growing.
  • Temporary Blindness: Al, from the shock of seeing Marcy naked.
    • And (possibly worse) in the Season 2 episode "In the family" when he goes to the toilet and unwittingly walks in on Peg's mother in the shower/bath.
  • This Is My Side
  • This Loser Is You: It's "You Stink!" on the show, but the sentiment is still there.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: On a few very rare occasions, things worked out for Al, usually at some other character's expense.
  • Title Drop: Al does this in one episode while reflecting on a string of odd recent success, as well as in a poem in one of the Christmas episodes.
    • Also in the episode "Al Loses His Cherry", where he goes to Luke's apartment, and a beautiful stewardess offers Al sex.
    • In the second season episode "Born to Walk" Al loses his driver's licence and needs one of the family members to drive him to the racetrack. When Steve comes in to find Al listening to the race on the radio he asks "Why aren't you at the racetrack, Al?", to which Al responds "Because I'm married...with children!".
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Kelly had perhaps the most extreme version of this trope ever. It is actually possible to pinpoint the exact moment she went from merely Book Dumb to an outright idiot.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: When the family's new air conditioner shorts out the neighborhood power grid, Al expresses relief that at least no one knows that it's the Bundys' fault. Unfortunately, the neighbors all correctly guess that the Bundys are responsible and form an angry mob that tries to storm the Bundy house. Kelly even lampshades it when she wonders where the neighbors got the torches and pitchforks so quickly, implying that they've been waiting for an excuse to go after the Bundys anyway.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Several, including German (Hilfe, meine Familie spinnt), Russian (Sсhastlivy Vmeste) and British (Married For Life) versions. It was also remade in Israel and Argentina.
  • The Ugly Chicken's Hot Niece: Marcy's niece Amber comes to stay with the D'Arcys for a few weeks, and Bud suffers a Freak Out when he sees a photo of her when she was 13. When Bud meets her in person, it turns out that she's now 19 and puberty has been very kind to her.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Al and Peggy (though he'd disagree). Also Gender Flipped by Jefferson and Marcy.
    • One episode had Peg in disguise as "Jasmine", a belly dancer at a strip club Al was spending time at. Al said she was out of his league, and she probably lived with "some loser who didn't appreciate her". When she came on to him, he rebuffed her, saying he was married, and tried to leave. Then she revealed herself, and he said that she couldn't be Jasmine, because Jasmine was a beautiful, alluring woman, and she was just "a wife!". note 
  • Ultimate Job Security: The way Al insults the fat women who come into the shoe store would have gotten him fired many times over in Real Life, but he manages to keep his job anyway. This troper figures it's because Gary (the store's owner) can't find anyone else desperate enough to work there... besides Griff, anyway.
    • Actually Gary says the reason she won't fire him is because he would "make more money on unemployment".
    • Subverted in another episode when Kelly is unhappy that the company she works for is making her wear a bikini in the next "Verminator" ad campaign. Jefferson advises her to refuse to do it and demand better treatment, since as the "Verminator" she holds all the cards. Kelly follows Jefferson's advice and is immediately fired. It's even Lampshaded by Marcy:
    Marcy: You dispensed job advice to her? You, who thinks a W-2 is a bingo number?
    Jefferson: I know it's not a bingo number! It's... that stuff you spray on squeaky hinges, right?
  • Unfortunate Names: "I'm now Marcy D'ARCY?!"
    • Peg's maiden name: Wanker.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Al's whole family, though Peg is the truly big one.
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: Al might not necessarily mind the fat women that he deals with at the shoe store, if they didn't always insist their feet were six sizes smaller than they really were, treated him like garbage, and were generally rude and obnoxious.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Al. All of the Bundys are rude, unpleasant and oafish but none are as callous or uncaring as Al. Of course, put yourself in his shoes and see just how nice you are to your annoying neighbors, your nagging wife, your floozy daughter, your perverted son, your redneck in-laws and all the fat women who insist they're a size five and won't take 'no' for an answer.
    • At least about the last part, anyone who ever worked on a shoe or clothes shop for any amount of time can say that that situation is not only more common than we think, but it does have similar effects on our moods.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Jefferson and Walter Troggett each try to use Al as a pawn in their attempts to do each other in. Jefferson wins.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Jefferson.
  • Vacation Episode
  • The Voice: Peg's mother.
    • The reason is that Divine, who was meant to play Peg's mother, died before the show began filming. Out of respect, the producers decided not to cast the role. When she is voiced in later seasons, though, it does sound a bit like an imitation of Divine...
  • Wacky Frat Boy Hijinks: Bud gets into the fraternity Gamma Gamma Sigma Pi.
  • Wham Episode: The "Breaking Up Is Easy To Do" 3-parter.
  • Where Da White Women At?: Briefly invoked when Al sits down and opens up a Big 'Uns magazine, and Griff sits down next to him and opens a Black Big 'Uns. After reading for a moment, they trade magazines.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "The Agony and the Extra C".
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Al occasionally laments that Bud never played football like he did. When he becomes a Parental Substitute to Aaron, a high school football player who takes a job at the shoe store, Al claims that he's like the son Al always wanted. Note that Al says this while Bud is sitting next to him on the couch.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Subverted in the story arc where Al left Peggy and she dated a rich man. The reason Bud and Kelly considered him wicked? He wanted them to get jobs and be independent.
  • William Telling: Kelly becomes a skilled archer and accepts her opponent's challenge to shoot an apple on Bud's head. She balks at going through with it, not wanting to hurt Bud, but when her opponent accuses her of cowardice, she shoots the apple without warning, causing Bud to pass out and, upon reviving, regress to toddlerhood.
    Kelly: Not yet.......
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: An in-universe example; Al's "vacation" consisted of him sitting on the gated-off couch and TV, where he spends the week watching world themed movies.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Al gives a glorious one to the librarian when she calls him a loser. Instead, Al bluntly points out that, despite all the misery and hell he's gone through in his life, the mere fact that he keeps on going and hasn't killed himself is what makes him a winner.
    Al: So you think I'm a loser? Just because I have a stinking job that I hate, a family that doesn't respect me? A whole city that curses the day I was born? Well that may mean loser to you, but let me tell you somethin'. Every morning when I wake up, I know it's not going to get any better until I go back to sleep again. So I get up, have my watered-down Tang and still-frozen Pop-Tart, get in my car with no upholstery, no gas, and six more payments to fight traffic just for the privilege of putting cheap shoes on the cloven hooves of people like you. I'll never play football like I thought I would. I'll never know the touch of a beautiful woman. And I'll never again know the joy of driving without a bag on my head! But I'm not a loser. Because despite it all, me and every other guy who will never be what he wanted to be are still out there, being what we don't want to be 40 hours a week for life. And the fact that I haven't put a gun in my mouth, you pudding of a woman, makes me a winner!
  • World of Snark: Al, Peggy, Bud, Marcy, Steve and Buck are all snarkers. Even Kelly has her moments, despite not seeming to be smart enough for making up snappy insults.
  • Written-In Infirmity: Katey Sagal's pregnancies.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Al and Marcy seem to have it going on. Throughout the series there are moments where they seem to genuinely get along despite the number of insults they trade back and forth. They know what it's like to have deadbeat spouses while at the same time working to earn a living for ungrateful money pits of individuals who demand everything and do nothing.
  • You Are Number Six: Seven.
    • He is number six, actually. His parents just couldn't count.
  • You Look Familiar: Ted McGinley was in the episode "It's a Bundyful Life," playing Peg's might-have-been charismatic husband, aired a year before he took the role of Jefferson.
  • You Never Did That for Me: Bud and Kelly resent Seven because Peggy did for him good things she never did for them.
  • Your Television Hates You Used very frequently on the show. Usually at Al's expense. But happens to the other Bundy's plenty, too.



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alternative title(s): Married With Children
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