In the '90s, The WB aired this drama about a pastor, his wife, their seven kids, and their dog. The pastor, a good-natured fella, dealt with the problems of both his family and his flock, which were often related, with various degrees of success.This show had an interesting mix of old-fashioned TV family entertainment and Soap Operatics. It stretched the limits of preacher's kids' misbehavior in later seasons.The show lasted from August 1996 to May 2007. It was the longest-running and highest-rated show on The WB by far (as well as Aaron Spelling's longest-running show), loved by many viewers and providing Snark Bait for many others (it was likely one of the few shows on the network to attract audiences outside the valued 18-49 demographic). It got renewed for an eleventh season off the ratings of its intended series finale (to the distress of fans of Everwood); it ended shortly after The WB did.Not to be confused with an Oscar-winning silent film.
Tropes used and applied by the fans:
Absentee Actor: Most of them - Stephen Collins and Beverley Mitchell are the only cast members to appear in every single episode, while Catherine Hicks and Mackenzie Rosman are both only absent for a handful of episodes, and these were only in the final season. Jessica Biel appears very rarely after season 6, David Gallagher started making only occasional appearances in seasons 8, and 9, returning full time for season 10, and not appearing at all in season 11, and Barry Watson only appeared in a handful of episodes from seasons 7-10, while joining Jessica and David in not appearing at all in the final season.
Academic Athlete: Basketball star Mary Camden will occasionally tutor other characters.
All Crimes Are Equal: As noted on the main page, any time one of the Camden kids gets into trouble, he or she will suffer the worst possible consequences of it. This runs the gamut from Ruthie being made to wash an entire wall because she was trying to make a mural in her room, to Mary being shipped to Buffalo because she couldn't keep a job, had about two beers, and ran a stop sign.
Axes at School: "See You In September" has Simon getting suspended because Annie accidentally packed a knife with his lunch.
Babies Ever After: Taken to ridiculous extremes in the 10th season finale, in which Lucy, Mary, and Matt's wife were all pregnant... with twins.
Inverted come the start of season 11, with Lucy having miscarried her twins. Then played straight again when she found out she was pregnant near the end of the season.
Bifauxnen: In Don't Take My Love Away, the youngest daughter Ruthie wants to wear a tux to her parents' vow renewal ceremony. In the same storyline she doesn't want her brother Simon to move out of their bedroom.
Broken Aesop: Quite a few of the show's lessons don't hold up to scrutiny. See the episode where the parents tell their 7-year-old daughter she's not allowed to play pretend anymore...because it might lead to her confusing fantasy with reality, and then killing someone. Really.
Butt Monkey: Mary. Dear Lord, MARY. Apparently, it was not enough that she gets hit by a car in the first season's two-part finale, injuring her knee, but every time her basketball ambitions seem to be taking off, something happens to throw a wrench in the works. She's also portrayed as though basketball is the only thing holding her together, to the point that when the girls' team vandalizes the gym, Mary is apparently so unable to cope with the aftermath that she ends up hanging out with a wild crowd, bouncing from one dead-end job to the next, and eventually being sent to Buffalo. Her relationships have a habit of going down the tubes, too, right up to her husband Carlos, whom she almost immediately separates from. She gets back with him and they have twin girls, but her family is next to ignored for the rest of the Post Script Season. In general, Mary Camden seemed never to be allowed to be happy or successful at anything, possibly because of Jessica Biel rebelling against the show's clean image.
Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Anytime a character even so much as tiptoes near the "dark side", they will see the worst possible consequences of it.
Catch Phrase: Ruthie had "What are we doing?" in the very early seasons, which was her way to signal she wanted to participate in whatever anybody else was doing.
Character as Himself: In this case, the ever suffering Happy the Dog...plays Happy the Dog. She got starring billing for his stirring role playing a common housedog, though her Emmy submissions always seemed to be rejected.
Character Filibuster: There is something in the air of the Glen Oak Parsonage that prevents people who live there too long from Ever. Shutting. Up.
Double Standard: In the Season 9 opener, Ruthie pulls down the pants of a male friend in school when he won't give her a ride to school and also pay attention to her. She refuses to apologize, and Annie won't hear of her being punished for it, instead speaking of the kind of loose pants he was wearing and the favor he wouldn't do.
Everybody Hates Mathematics: There was an episode which involved Annie and Mary breaking down and crying about how much they hated math.
Family Theme Naming: Reverend Camden and his wife Annie give all their children Biblical names: Matthew, Mary, Lucy note The name "Lucy" is the feminine form of Luke, Simon, Ruth(ie), Samuel and David.
Felony Misdemeanor: Mary drinks a beer and TPs the school gym = Mary is a fallen woman on an uncontrollable downward spiral whose recklessness and lack of reverence for the conventions of civilized society will surely spell her doom. Also, you can pass out from one beer — so completely that the continuous screaming of the baby you're supposed to be watching won't wake you up until its parents come home. The penalty? Put on a Bus to Buffalo (the Television Without Pity recappers had a lot of fun with the idea of Buffalo as the nightmarish place you go to pay for your sins). And that's just the most significant example (as mentioned above, this was punishment for Jessica Biel's posing topless for Gear).
There was also that time Simon was in deep anguish over the fact that he *gasp* had sex with someone. He was majorly concerned that he might have contracted an STD, and it was played for much drama, even though he had used a condom. Do also keep in mind that he appeared to be more shaken up by having premarital sex than the time he had committed vehicular manslaughter.
And of course there was that whole episode where listening to rap music = being a woman-hater (even if, you know, you ARE a woman!).
Firemen Are Hot: Mary's love interest Ben. Even Ruthie basically wolf-whistles at him. Then comes his cop brother Kevin for Lucy...
Flanderization: Annie's overprotective/controlling attitude and nosiness, Lucy's clinginess and sensitivity, Ruthie's sneakiness, Simon's Wangst, Mary's flakiness…pretty much everyone over time, actually. But being a Long Runner will do that to you.
Mary's was essentially done deliberately to demonize her and to shame and insult Jessica Biel, not only having her become a sheltered fundamentalist's view of "lacking in moral fiber" but also draining her intelligence away.
French Jerk: Guy, a French exchange student, drives Eric and all the kids crazy.
"Gift of the Magi" Plot: In one Christmas episode, where Annie trades her mother's cross for a jukebox for Eric's prized record collection and Eric trades the records for an expensive chain for Annie's cross. Fortunately, the antiques dealer catches on and shows up at the end to set everything right.
Good Parents: The father leaned towards being the Overprotective Dad, and the mom leaned towards being My Beloved Smother, but they are both loving and supportive Christian parents. They always stuck together as a family no matter how many things their children do wrong.
Mary and Carlos, though they did break up at one point
The Hecate Sisters: The first three episodes are about the life cycle. In the pilot, daughter Lucy is sensitive about starting her period and thus becoming a woman. She says that her type is Prince Charles because she bets that he is sensitive and shy. The second episode has mother Annie using her intuition and welcoming nature to learn that Matt's friend is a pregnant teenager. In the third episode grandmother Jenny is visited by Annie who is concerned because Jenny has Leukemia. Annie finds that Jenny is spending her final days living life to its fullest. When Annie expresses her concerns about Jenny resting and watching her cholesterol, Jenny says that she'll be resting soon enough and she's not supposed to be watching it anymore.
Holiday Volunteering: Episode "Here Comes Santa Claus" each one of the kids had to do a good deed over the holiday season; Matt became a mall Santa, Mary volunteered at the soup-kitchen (and was happy that a hot boy was recruited alongside her) while Simon was determined to help Ruthie keep her faith in Santa.
Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Several episodes have Eric, Annie, or one of the kids helping or being helped by an individual with a disability. In "The Kid Can't Stay in the Picture," when Simon talks about all the people his family has helped, the Inspirationally Disadvantaged individuals are designated as "Angel."
It's All My Fault: Lucy believes this when her friend is killed in a car accident.note This was based on something that really happened to Beverley Mitchell.
Jesus Taboo: How a show about Christians, with the lead character a minister, avoids mentioning Christ more than about three times in eleven years is baffling. You probably have Executive Meddling to blame for that.
Like Goes with Like: An episode has Matt's best friend and roommate, who is black, try to pair up him and Matt with a couple of women in the building and it's obvious that he'll be with the black one and Matt will be with the white one.
Another episode has Simon's friend Nigel says that there's a desirable girl in his class who could have picked anyone to be her boyfriend and she picked him. Come to find out that she's black like him.
Low-Speed Chase: Simon, when a new driver, gets into a low speed car chase aided by his grandfather who has dementia but who is supposed to be helping him learn to drive.
Mood Whiplash: A somewhat outside-the-fourth-wall case: For a time, 7th Heaven was aired right before Angel, which one reviewer described as being akin to "Following up your glass of orange juice with a vodka chaser."
Passionate Sports Girl: Mary Camden plays on the girls' basketball team and is seen as a girl who would give the guys a hard time because of her self-confident nature.
Pick Up Babes With Babes: Matt and Simon take the twins to the promenade, thinking they'll attract family-oriented girls with good values. Unfortunately, the only girl who talks to them chastises them for having the babies out so late in the cold.
Redheads Are Uncool: There is an episode where Mary's high school friends tease a girl with frizzy red hair for wearing flannel and being fat.
Self Harm: In one episode, Mary catches Nicole (a new friend of her sister's) self harming in her bathroom. Mary tells Eric (her father), who then tells Nicole's father. Eric gives him a card and a number to call so they can get help for Nicole. Nicole is then Put on a Bus.
Sickeningly Sweethearts: Eric and Annie. When Annie is pregnant with the twins, the younger kids don't want her to drive them to school because, as Lucy puts it, "The fact that there are five of us is already proof that Mom and Dad can't keep their hands off each other."
A late-season episode had them get so worked up by the sight of another couple kissing that they sneak off to their basement during a dinner party to have sex.
Teen Drama: 7th Heaven pretty much defines this trope.
Teen Mom: Subverted when Lucy is out babysitting the twins — passersby assume she's their 16-year-old mother and are disgusted/shocked.
Three Successful Generations: Mary has the confidence and ability to want to play in the Women's National Basketball Association someday, Annie is the vastly knowledgeable mother, and Ruth wants to visit the children more then once a year to influence them.
The Colonel: Well, we're lucky to have Annie and Mary. You know, our Mary has enough salt to make jerky.
Grandma Ruth: That Annie, she's always been a doer. She's not afraid to get her hands dirty.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Annie, who ended up at her worst in Season 6 when she would lash out at Eric constantly for no reason, as well as banishing Matt, Lucy, Simon, and Ruthie from the house for protesting the undeserved preferential treatment that Mary was getting. Subverted with Mary, who was already a jerk to begin with but was essentially vilified in the later seasons.
Town Girls: The oldest daughter Mary (butch) is an aspiring basketball star while the middle daughter Lucy (femme) is an insecure mall rat. Their younger sister Ruthie (neither) jumps between dolling herself up like Lucy and dressing like Simon and the guys.
Very Special Episode: Pretty much every episode. Not particularly surprising considering series creator Brenda Hampton had previously written for Blossom (itself notable for its frequent very special episodes).
Wild Teen Party: There have been a few of these over the show's run. The most notable party was thrown by Matt and Mary in season one when Eric and Annie went out on Valentine’s Day. It starts out like any average party but gets out of hand when more guests show up, someone sneaks beer into the Camden house, and the dog Happy gets out and hit by a car. She gets better though. Another one appears in the sixth season episode "Drunk", which was about Simon going to a party and having too much to drink.