Series / Silicon Valley

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"Letís just think different. ...Donít 'think different,' thatís Apple."
Richard Hendricks

An HBO comedy created by Mike Judgenote  about programmers in Silicon Valley, partially based on his own experience.

The show follows Richard Hendricks, a meek computer programmer who inadvertently creates a lossless file compression algorithm. His invention quickly sparks a bidding war between his employer, Gavin Belson, and billionaire tech investor Peter Gregory. Gavin offers him $10 million to sell, but Peter Gregory convinces him to accept an investment and create a start-up around his new product. Richard soon finds himself in over his head as he struggles to build a potential billion-dollar business.

The cast is rounded out by Richard's friends, a bunch of eccentric programmers who all live together in a suburban Hacker Cave. Their day-to-day progress is overseen by Monica, Gregory's level-headed assistant and Richard's potential love-interest.


Tropes included in Silicon Valley:

  • Accidental Kidnapping: During a drug induced vision quest, Erlich accidentally kidnaps a young Latino boy whom Elrich mistook for his own reincarnation.
  • Affably Evil: Satanic priest is an incredibly sweet man out of ceremony.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Peter Gregory and his replacement Laurie Bream both have No Social Skills apparently due to some social disorder, possibly autism. They are both, however, highly successful tech investors.
  • Apologises a Lot: Jared is constantly apologizing and self-deprecating.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Russ Harriman's "radio on the internet". Sure, there are plenty of digital technologies that could be called radio on the internet (radio station streaming on the web, Pandora, etc.) but because of that the audience has no idea precisely what Russ made.
  • Artifact Title: An In-Universe example, Pied Piper was originally a music search engine, but kept its name after it pivoted its focus into cloud-based compression.
  • Artistic License Ė Law: A major plot point at the end of the second season revolves around an Off on a Technicality event where Hooli included an illegal provision in Richard's employment contract and the arbitration judge voided the whole contract. In reality, almost all such contracts include a "Severability" clause which specifically states that even if one part of the contract is found unenforceable, the rest of the contract still applies.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The fact that programmers create such products (to try and be way waaay ahead of the curve) and how developers pay big money to be early adopters (and to shut out the competition) because of their potential, rather than practical, applications is mocked on the show.
    • Gavin Belson uses a holographic conferencing tool (that he paid $20 million to own outright) to talk to Big Head. Big head sees him as a hologram, but the effect isn't two-way. Then the tech craps out and they end up teleconferencing with a Skype expy that quickly crashes. They end up having to talk over a long distance call with bad reception.
    • Peter Gregory has a self driving car that Jared takes to get back to Erlich's house. Unfortunately, a programming error sends the car, with passenger, onto a cargo ship headed for an artificial island in the middle of the Pacific with no way to override it. He can leave the container once it arrives, but it appears as if the island is entirely automated as well.
    • Laurie Bream lists some of the "out there" ideas Peter Gregory was financing through his company, including three companies dedicated to invisibility and "the idea that genetically modified cranberry fungus was going to be the next cotton."
  • Bad Boss: Gavin Belson likes to present himself as a magnanimous entrepreneur who wants nothing more than to make the world a better place. In business, however, he is ruthless at taking down his perceived enemies and tries his utmost to engineer situations so that the blame falls on others.
  • Bait and Switch: The beginning of the first episode opens on Kid Rock at what appears to be a concert. It pulls out to show that he is actually playing at a party for a bunch of bored looking programmers, thus setting the tone of the entire show.
  • Batman Gambit: Gavin Belson sues Pied Piper for copyright infringement, knowing that even though he has no case, the pending lawsuit will scare away other investors and prevent Pied Piper from mounting an adequate legal defense. It appears to work until Russ Hanneman steps up.
  • Batter Up: In one episode, Dinesh clutches a cricket bat for defense when he expects a fight to break out.
  • Beyond the Impossible: After Richard tweaks Pied Piper, it achieves a data compression rate previously thought to be impossible.
  • Big Bad: Gavin Belson is consistently Pied Piper's most direct form of competition. Played With to a degree, as he's not really evil, just the head of a massive conglomerate that threatens to absorb Pied Piper into its faceless mass.
  • The Big Board: Jared uses one, along with some reverse psychology, in an attempt to get Dinesh and Gilfoyle to do some work. Despite its transparency it works, much to Dinesh's disgust.
  • Big in Japan: In-Universe. The wildlife expert's suffering is especially popular in the Philippines after Manny Pacquiao tweets about it to his thousands of followers.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Jared speaks unsubtitled German in his sleep. Various internet commenters have differing interpretations as to what he's saying (his accent is apparently atrocious), but all agree that the gist is disturbing and suggests that mild-mannered Jared has a well-hidden dark side.
  • Black Comedy: Frequently:
    • "Let Blaine Die" SWOT board.
    • Maintenance guy gets stuck in a cave while retrieving camera from birds nest. While he tearfully pleads for rescue, main characters just admire the video quality of the stream.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • The production team said one of the hardest parts of character design was the company names. Nearly everything they came up with was taken. They settled on things like "Hooli" and "Goolibib" which sound like "Google" being twisted around a bit.
    • In Season 2, Richard stops by a porn conference and viewers are treated to fake names like "Non Consensual Santa" and "Poop on My Wife", reflecting Rule 34 and just how hard it must have been to find unclaimed names/fetishes.
  • Brick Joke: In Seson 3, Gavin Belson speaks to five Hooli executives about the fallout from the revelation that Hooli's employment agreements contain an illegal non-compete call. Gavin is informed that the agreements affect half of Hooli's employees but that an unexpected benefit is that since 20% of Hooli employees are underperforming, the company can simply let those employees gonote . At a later meeting, Gavin speaks to four executives, with one chair being conspicuously empty.
  • Bros Before Hoes: In the season 2 trailer, Jared tries to say this in his own way. "I have never felt like was anyone's 'bro' before. Now I'll go find some hoes to prioritize behind you."
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • A big part of the show's style is exploiting the social foibles of otherwise extremely talented people. Of particular note is Peter Gregory, who has no social skills at all but is a brilliant investor.
    • Pied Piper acquires the services of Pete Monahan, a litigator who'll work on contingency. We're led to believe he'll be comically incompetent, but he's actually quite skilled and professional. The reason they got him for so cheap is that he was disbarred after a downward spiral of drugs, criminal activity and eventually prison. As stated, he's a perfectly capable litigator, except that he seemingly can't stop bringing up his Dark and Troubled Past at every opportunity.
  • Butt Monkey:
    • Most jokes involving Jared are about how incredibly pathetic his life is, staring with the fact that his name isn't even Jared, but he's too meek to insist that people use his real name.
    • Dinesh almost always gets the worst of his exchanges with Guilfoyle. Occasionally, this can lead to others piling onto him as well, as seen when even Jared starts piling on Dinesh during the episode in which he bought a gold chain necklace.
      Dinesh: Great. Now even fucking Jared is busting my balls.
      Jared: I am! I'm—I—I'm—I'm busting your balls!
  • Call Back: Big Head's Nip Alert app from the first episode is mentioned in court during "Binding Arbitration."
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: After Monica reveals she went to catholic school, Erlich immediately starts asking about whether the uniforms really look as he has seen them.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Erlich's seemingly innocuous knowledge of California law regarding the ownership of ferrets turns out to be quite handy.
    • The team having to resort to putting a livecam on a condor egg, which comes back in a quite unexpected way at the end of Season 2.
    • The show actually makes impressive heavy use of this. On numerous occasions throwaway gags and mentions come back episodes later as major plot points. One obvious example is the "brain rape" meeting that set in motion the creation of EndFrame.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: When the wildlife expert's suffering is being broadcast live during the Season 2 finale, all the Pied Piper crew do is marvel at how clear the video stream is and work to ensure that the system can handle the sudden spike in viewers.
  • Comically Serious: Pete Monahan, Richard's lawyer, speaks in a matter-of-fact tone no matter the subject. He can rattle of a ridiculous list of criminal charges without ever changing his tone of voice.
    Pete Monahan: It began as a innocent celebration of our arbitration victory. I ordered a kombucha that, I did not realize, contained alcohol. It was described to me as a healthy organic tea. Next thing I knew, I was 70 miles away, wrapped in a blanket, shaking of a meth high, and facing charges for attacking a police horse with a shovel.
    Richard: Oh! Holy shit!
    Pete Monahan: From a legal standpoint: it was a clear violation of my parole and I now must serve my entire sentence and any additional time stemming from the new charges which continue to accrue. But! I'm owning my mistakes. I am staying positive. Enough about me. Let's take a look at that contract. [Richard hands over contract] I would red line it but...I'm not allowed to have a pencil.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Hooli is a big perpetrator of this.
    • After Jared defects to Pied Piper, Gavin offers Big Head a promotion pretty much in retaliation for this (and Richard turning down a $10 million buyout in favor of Peter Gregory's offer) and given an annual salary of $600,000. One character refers to him as the VP of spite.
      • In season 2 Gavin discovers that the only way he could win the bogus lawsuit he brought against Richard for stealing Pied Piper from Hooli, is to convince a judge that Big Head was involved in the creation of Pied Piper. This involved promoting him to the head of a division created for the sole purpose of making it seem he's important. Big Head doesn't do much of anything constructive while here other than build a potato cannon.
      • After Pied Piper wins the suit, Big Head, no longer useful, is given a $20 million severance package, for doing pretty much nothing.
    • Hooli employs a large number of "unassigned" employees with no tasks. They hang out on the roof, collecting large paychecks for doing nothing while waiting for their stock options to vest. Gavin seems to think that they'll be shamed into quitting, but they laugh off that idea.
    • Discussed by Monica who tells Richard that the standard MO for billionaires is to throw a bunch of money sometimes millions into no other purpose other than humiliating their rivals.
    • When Russ asks if he knows what "synergy" is, Gilfoyle describes it as putting a bunch of money in a pile and setting it on fire.
  • Courtroom Antics: Played with in "Binding Arbitration." When Big Head is dramatically introduced, the back doors opening, Big Head is shoved in a side door. Also, Big Head doesn't understand "Is it not true..." when trying to answer a question.
  • Courtroom Episode: "Binding Arbitration," although it is more of an Arbitration Episode.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Jared has various corporate management tools secreted throughout the house for whenever the growing Pied Piper needs to make a big decision.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Many characters at Pied Piper are rather clumsy, socially awkward goofballs, but they're all pretty smart in certain areas. Even Erlich has his moments, such as when he's the first member to realize the ramifications of Hooli putting a price point on middle-out compression.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Big Head is set up as The Lancer in the first episode but ends up ditching Richard for Hooli toward the end of the first act. Since then, he is only an occasional character and rarely interacts with Richard.
  • Deserted Island: Jared spends four days on one full of robot forklifts.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Big Head is confused when an attorney asks him questions beginning with "Is it not true..." He's actually correct that in purely grammatical terms, he should be responding "no" to mean "yes, it's true." He's analyzing the questions like lines of code rather than conversation.
  • Eureka Moment:
    • The infamous mean jerk discussion gives Richard an idea to improve his algorithm.
    • Subverted when Dinesh and Gilfoyle are trying to make sense of Richard's compression library. When it seems Gilfoyle has finally figured it out, he merely says he figured the way to clean their hands and make things up with Richard.
    • Jason, one of the "brogrammers", cracked how Middle-Out works after seeing his friend write a digest script for changing hooli search results before taking a pause to work out a bit, moving his hands exactly like Richard did in his own eureka moment.
  • Extreme Doormat: Richard due to his social awkwardness making him uncomfortable and passive when dealing with other people. Jared even more so, who manages to make Richard look downright assertive in comparison.
  • Face Palm: Gavin Belson is reduced to burying his face in his hands upon realizing just how big of an idiot Big Head really is.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Exploited by Gavin Belson in season 2 by building up Big Head as the co-founder of Pied Piper despite Big Head's lack of involvement, drive or talent as a way to drum up publicity and drive potential financiers away from Richard.
  • Foreshadowing: In the pilot, Gavin notes that programmers all form into groups of five that fall into very specific physical types. The only member of Erlich's incubator that doesn't match his type is Big Head as the "tall, skinny one." This foreshadows Big Head dropping out of the group and getting replaced by Jared, who does fit the type.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes:
    • While the entire Pied Piper team runs on Vitriolic Best Buds, the group as a whole are shown to have each others' backs in the end... except for Jared, who they frequently ignore and openly hate, to the point where the normally mild mannered Richard treats him with thinly veiled contempt. Jared has, however, managed to keep the team focused and afloat.
    • Erlich. Between his overblown ego and generally abrasive personality, nobody likes being around him. People usually only hang around him because he offers resources that they need but can't afford (like housing, beer, or weed).
  • Funny Foreigner: Jin Yang, Pied Piper's intern. He comes from rural China and annoys Erlich by leaving fish carcasses in the sink and burning trash. He's usually paired with Erlich, who constantly struggles to get concepts through to Jin Yang.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit:
    • Erlich gets attacked by one of the Techcrunch judges during their first presentation, for sleeping with his wife in part one of the season 1 finale. The second part opens with Pied Piper being allowed to continue because Erlich threatened to sue Techcrunch for allowing the judge to attack him.
    • Hooli sues Pied Piper for copyright infringement even though they know that they have no case, knowing that Pied Piper doesn't have the funds to defend against even a frivolous copyright lawsuit.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Gilfoyle. He builds the server, that manages to run a livestream despite unexpectedly large traffic, in a garage.
  • The Ghost: Due to the actor's passing, Peter Gregory is only ever referred to via his assistant for the last three episodes of season 1 before being killed off in the break between seasons 1 and two.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Discussed by Elrich when Monica says he "outed" her... as a smoker.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Dinesh's attempts at torpedoing his cousin's Kickstarter campaign (because he doesn't want to pay a $5000 pledge) backfires at the last minute.
  • Godwin's Law: Gavin Belson finds himself in a PR nightmare when he defends billionaires as having it worse than Jews in Nazi Germany.
  • Gone Mad From The Isolation: Jared is off-kilter after spending four days on Peter Gregory's fully-automated man-made island. He's back to normal after a good night's sleep during Tech Crunch Disrupt.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: When Dinesh is trying to talk his cousin into ending his Kickstarter campaign, they briefly speak in Urdu so that they can talk freely in a crowded cafe.
  • Hacker Cave: The Incubator is a house populated by programmers and their computers.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Gavin Belson's various attempts at burying Pied Piper all blow up in his face.
    • By trying to roll out Nucleus first, he forces the team to use a hastily put together algorithm that doesn't work and he's left scrambling to find a scapegoat while the Hooli board threatens to replace him.
    • His strategy of promoting Big Head to a position of influence as a legal tactic backfires because Big Head doesn't have the knowledge or the inspiration to come up with a viable product that could be rolled out to cover up the failure of Nucleus.
    • He included a non-compete clause in Hooli employment agreements and used it to support his argument that Richard and Jared knowingly broke a contract agreement. But because non-compete clauses are illegal in California, the judge in the binding arbitration declares that this null and voids thousands of employees' contracts, including Richard's. Because this means that Richard wasn't working for Hooli with a valid contract, the company has no legal right to claim ownership of any intellectual property that may have been created on Hooli property. The Hooli board, needless to say, is not pleased.
    • Erlich isn't immune to this, either. In Season 3, while trying to kick Jian Yang out of the Incubator, Erlich runs his mouth off and accidentally tells Jian Yang of California's occupants' rights protections and how difficult it is for property owners to evict tenants.
    • After some former Hooli employees crack Richard's algorithm and take it to another company, Gavin buys the company to get his own platform on the market while Pied Piper is stuck on another project thanks to their tyrannical boss Jack Barker. But his buying the company also serves to put a concrete price point on a platform based on the algorithm, the lack of which was Barker's entire leverage against doing it.
  • Hollywood Satanism: Averted. Gilfoyle is LaVeyan and while he attends a "baptism" ceremony no one there is portrayed as explicitly evil. In fact the priest especially is a very nice man.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Erlich bashes Monica for smoking cigarettes while he's coughing on a massive bong hit.
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    Dinesh: No offense, Richard, but you're not a strong negotiator.
    Richard: I'm a great negotiator, Dinesh.
    Dinesh: You're a terrible negotiator.
    Richard: (weakly) I'm a... decent negotiator, ju—so...
    • Richard finds out that a girl he went on a couple dates with has been telling people that he was "obsessed" with her. This accusation bothers Richard so much that he rants about how untrue it is for days, researches her online so he can find out who she's been talking to, stops being able to focus on coding his program, etc.
    Richard: It's just so insulting to have someone walking around spreading lies about you. Right? I wonder who she's working with. Like, I wonder who she's here with because if she's telling her coworkers, then that's a whole 'nother group of people I gotta worry about.
    Dinesh: Richard, I don't care.
    Richard: Me neither! That's my point!
    • Laurie Bream on why Richard needs to meet with a PR person before an interview:
    Laurie: You are in an emotional state, and when you are emotional, you become highly inarticulate.
    Richard: Well, I don't say that's true!
    • Later:
    Erlich: You do tend to babble on when you're under pressure.
    Richard: (scoffs) Why does this thing people say?
    Erlich: ...why indeed.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One:
    VC Rep: You were obscene, insulting and ignorant."
    Erlich: "Ignorant!?"
  • The Illegal: Gilfoyle is Canadian and was briefly in the US illegally. This pisses Dinesh off because he thought the guys immediately assumed it would be him. Once Gilfoyle quickly sorts things out, Dinesh is pissed off even further because of the implied racism and how long into him and his family to legally earn their citizenship.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: When Gilfoyle reveals he hacked into End Frame's files, Monica says she "wasn't in the room" to hear that. As Gilfoyle reveals the $15 million deal, she leaves the room and stands on the porch, listening and commenting through an open door.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Gavin Belson is reduced to one in the second half of Season 2 when he finally realizes how screwed Nucleus is and makes increasingly desperate attempts to distance himself from the fallout.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: A speech by Molly, the CEO of Intersite, shows the pornography industry is working hard to keep the Internet for porn.
  • It's All About Me: This seems to be Gavin Belson's motto regarding his company.
    Gavin Belson: I donít want to live in a world where someone else makes the world a better place better than we do.
  • Jerkass:
    • Erlich to a degree. He makes a point that Richard, in order to be CEO, needs to be more of an asshole.
    • Gavin is one big time.
    • Russ Hanneman, a billionaire who's been living it up thanks to one successful idea (like Erlich, but a lot richer), is an egotistical jerk. He ostensibly invests five million dollars into Pied Piper but finds ways to use that money to pay himself.
    • Dinesh is quickly becoming one. With him applying for jobs under Richard's news during hard times, allowing a guy to die in order to have sex with his wife, and stealing art from 5th graders, its not hard to see why he's looked down upon.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Erlich is an egomaniac looking to profit off of others' work and has no moral qualms about sleeping with other men's wives. But he is also protective of Richard and when he finds out that Richard is being bullied by neighborhood children, promptly goes out and beats up a boy who couldn't have been more than thirteen years old.
  • Kavorka Man: Erlich is a fat, arrogant slob, but he's pretty successful with the ladies due to his fearlessness and game. Gilfoyle's girlfriend still wants nothing to do with him, however.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Big Head is promoted by Gavin Belson in order to mess with Pied Piper.
  • Large Ham: A good portion of the cast that isn't socially awkward is this, though Erlich is the stand out example (followed by Gavin Belson).
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Two Days of the Condor, Gilfoyle mentions how two weeks ago they accidentally deleted a third of Intersite's porn catalog. The event in question took place two episodes earlier, in an episode that first aired exactly two weeks earlier.
  • Leonine Contract: Pied Piper makes one with Russ Hanneman, who knows that the company will go under unless they take his investment. As such, he gives himself disproportionate power in the company.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: At the end of "Adult Content," Molly, the CEO of Intersite, announces a "bake off" between Pied Piper and End Frame to see who will get her business.
  • Literal Metaphor: At a baseball park party, Javeed tells Richard to be careful about who he takes money from and "Everyone is looking at you." Javeed repeats himself and shows that Richard is being projected on the jumbotron.
  • The Load: Big Head's contributions to Hooli are entirely based on his allegedly high profile reputation as co-creator of Pied Piper, while his actual work is an outright hindrance to the company.
  • MacGuffin: The entire plot is propelled by Richard's algorithm for lossless compression. Everyone on the show is scrambling to make money off of that process.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Peter Gregory, of course.
    Waiter: Still enjoying your asparagus, sir?
    Peter: I was never enjoying it. I only eat it for the nutrients.
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words: The various tech companies seen on the show love to spout out buzzword filled videos and literature to try and seem as if they're doing something to help the world when it's really just an ego trip for everyone involved or desperate attempts at gaining funding. By contrast, it's the socially awkward Richard's plain and somewhat stilted presentation that makes the most impact (helped greatly by the fact that Pied Piper is a revolutionary compression algorithm).
  • Mistaken for Gay: Richard is mistaken for gay by his ex-girlfriend who overhears Jared telling Monica that he's Richard's partner (as in business partner).
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: A running gag in "Black Hat/White Hat" has Richard unknowingly making obscene statements within earshot of children, then trying to smooth things over by giving creepy compliments to the children.
  • Mistaken Nationality: Dinesh is mistaken for Mexican by Chuy, the Mexican-American artist who Erlich wants to hire to design Pied Piper's logo. He initially only agrees to design their logo because he thinks Dinesh is Mexican.
  • Mundane Utility: Kiko the monkey receives an advanced prosthetic arm and promptly uses it to masturbate and throw feces, to Gavin Belson's disgust.
    Dr. Banachek: What Kiko chooses to do with the technology is not important. What's important here is that...um...in spite of what it may seem like on the surface building a device that is capable of...[Kiko starts jerking faster and grunting louder]...this...is a remarkable scientific achievement. And what you're looking at [the sound of jerking gets even faster] is really a testament to my team and my leadership and I feel...[Kiko loudly climaxes]
    Belson: [Disappointedly sighs].
  • Mushroom Samba: Erlich takes a fistful of psychotropic mushrooms and trips balls while trying to think up a good company name.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Richard does this sometimes as the stress of running Pied Piper piles up. Javeed (whose party opened the series) does this in the second season premiere. Richard asks him if he could have asked for less money from his investors. Javeed realizes all the problems he could have avoided if he had asked for less money, and freaks out in the middle of the bar.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Laurie Bream expresses displeasure at having to deal with jerkass investor Russ Hanneman becoming involved in Pied Piper, completely discounting the fact that Richard took Russ's investment out of desperation after she and Raviga decided to not participate in a second round of funding.
    • Dinesh sneaks into the garage to have a go at setting up one of Gilfoyle's homemade servers and succeeds in bricking 50 thousand dollars worth of equipment (and blacking out the neighborhood) with the single flip of a switch.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed — Peter Gregory's plan to pay smart kids to drop out of college is a riff on Peter Thiel.
    • Russ Hanneman is an amalgamation of various real-life billionares, most notably Mark Cuban who, like Russ, made his fortune in Internet radio and has not really meaningfully grown his fortune since.
    • Gavin Belson's ill-considered comparison between being a rich billionaire and being a Jew in Nazi Germany is based off of the real-life billionaire Thomas Perkins, who voiced that exact opinion in a Wall Street Journal editorial.
  • No Social Skills:
    • Peter Gregory, who thinks on a completely different level from other people and doesn't seem to care about how they react to him. He loudly hacks if anything goes even the slightest bit out of whack.
    • To a lesser degree, all Silicon Valley programmers are characterized as either abrasive or timid. In the pilot episode, the main characters note how the men and women at the programmer party are not mingling at all.
  • Off on a Technicality: At the end of Season 2, the judge rules that Hooli is legally owed ownership of Richard's algorithm since he briefly used one of their computers to work on it...or they would, if the trial hadn't also uncovered an illegal non-compete clause in their hiring contracts that predates anything with Pied Piper, rendering the case null and void.
  • Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: The UFC fight that is being streamed during the bungled Nucleus preview is supposedly the greatest fight ever seen in the history of MMA. Unfortunately those watching through Nucleus can't see it due to extremely poor resolution and atrocious lag.
  • Oh Crap!: This is Gavin Belson's reaction when he walks into a very angry Hooli boardroom after the true extent of his screw up over Pied Piper finally comes to light.
    Belson: Motherfuck...
  • OOC Is Serious Business: When Peter Gregory finds out Gavin Belson is going unveil Nucleus at Tech Crunch Disrupt, he turns to Monica.
    Peter Gregory: This is displeasing.
    Gilligan Cut to Monica talking to Richard and Elrich.
    Monica: I have never seen him that incensed!
  • One Steve Limit: In Season 2, Richard considers hiring a programmer named Jared, to the concern of Jared because of the potential confusion of having two Jareds. Ironically, the original "Jared" is actually named Donald, but everyone dismisses the obvious solution of using his real name. The trope is played straight when the second Jared is not hired.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • One of Richard's roommates is only referred to as "Big Head." In the second episode he reveals that his real name is Nelson Bighetti.
    • Jared's real name is Donald. Everyone calls him Jared because Gavin Belson mistakenly called him by that name one day and Donald/Jared was too scared to correct him.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Monica acts as a calming influence amongst the highly neurotic people of Raviga and Pied Piper.
    • Richard often fulfills this function in the day-to-day operations of Pied Piper. He's one of the few characters who isn't some combination of a Cloudcuckoolander and a Jerkass.
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • The story of Peter Gregory's death grows longer and more convoluted as Monica goes on.
    • Richard and Erlich go back to the venture capital firms they rejected (and Erlich insulted), kicking off a very long sequence of them getting their asses chewed off.
    • At the end of "Runaway Devaluation," Gavin Belson invites Richard to a Mexican restaurant and once again offers to buy Pied Piper. Just as Richard opens his mouth to respond, a mariachi band begins loudly performing a song for them, forcing Gavin and Richard to sit in awkward silence all through the credits.
    • When Erlich makes the triumphant discovery of how Gavin Belson has inadvertedly saved Pied Piper, his joy is undercut by a bad case of weed coughing, which continues loudly in the background for the entire scene.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech:
    • Monica launches into an eloquent speech about the entrepreneurial spirit but she's speaking to Laurie Breem, who doesn't understand Monica's attempt at appealing to emotion.
    • Jared gives one to Erlich in the Season 2 finale, speaking about how money is ultimately meaningless and that the true value of Pied Piper comes from the team's shared experiences in creating something new and wonderful. Although he resists for most of the episode, Erlich finally has to concede that Jared has a point.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Apparently still holding a grudge against Richard, Big Head shows up to casually note how he gets lots of money to do no work at all, while Richard and his crew have no money and have to work really hard.
  • The Peter Principle: Big Head is an average, at best, technician with no real specialty, which leads to him leaving Erlich's incubator because he can't contribute to Pied Piper. Gavin Belson decides that Big Head could be a source in inside information and promotes him to a senior position within the Nucleus team with an enormous raise, only to discover that Big Head doesn't know anything useful about Richard's algorithm, leading to Big Head becoming an "unassigned" employee, given no responsibility in the hopes that he'll quit out of shame. Big Head's promoted once again in Season 2 as part of a legal strategy and becomes even more of a load in the process.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure:
    • When Flo Rida appears at Peter Gregory's toga party, Peter calls him "Florida."
    Dinesh: Is that Flo Rida?
    Gilfoyle: No idea.
    • When their condor feed gets tweeted by Manny Pacquiao, Jared only eventually recognizes the name as a "Filipino legislator," not for his far more notable profession as a world-famous boxer.
  • Product Placement:
    • In "Articles of Incorporation," Peter Gregory develops a fascination with Burger King that ultimately saves the day.
    • In "Proof of Concept," a can of Red Bull is placed prominently on a table between Dinesh and Richard as they were talking.
    • One episode has Hooli partner with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. One scene involves Gavin sitting down to watch a UFC fight. Pied Piper watch an ad in which UFC President Dana White pimps their streaming Fight Pass service.
  • Retraux: The opening is in the style of on old version of SimCity
  • The Reason You Suck: There's a very long list of venture capitalists who were more than eager to tell Erlich just how much of an asshole he is. One even slaps his own balls on a conference table to get back at Erlich doing the same thing earlier.
    Erlich: At least I had the decency to shave mine!
    • Richard gives one to the CEO of End Frame, although it gets thrown back in his face as End Frame had a complete platform and a much larger sales team.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: A Hooli phone getting left in a bar is a plot point in "Binding Arbitration," similar to how an Apple iPhone 4 prototype was left in a bar in 2010.
  • The Rule of First Adopters: Tech adoption by pornography is discussed by the characters in "Adult Content." Jared explains the first fictional story ever published on a printing press was erotica, and much of the Internet was popularized by pornography companies.
    Jared: Pornography accounts for 37 percent of all Internet traffic.
    Erlich: 38 when I'm on it.
  • Rules Lawyer: The judge in the binding arbitration uses a string of legal justifications to rule in Pied Piper's favor. Yes, Richard admitted to testing his algorithm on a Hooli computer while still employed at the company and that apparently means that Hooli has the legal right to appropriate Richard's intellectual property. However, Hooli requires its employees to sign a non-compete clause, which is illegal in the state of California which voids the contracts of thousands of Hooli employees, including Richard. This means that Richard was working for Hooli without a valid employment agreement, meaning that Richard couldn't be considered an employee of Hooli when he ran the test, meaning that Hooli has no legal justification to lay claim to Pied Piper.
  • Running Gag:
    • Everyone in Silicon Valley claims that their app is going to "make the world a better place." Often it's left unclear how, for example, "constructing elegant hierarchies for massive code reuse and extendability" will make the world a better place. At TechCrunch Disrupt, the show features a montage of app makers making this dubious claim.
    • Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, particularly the main characters, are constantly comparing themselves to Jobs and Wozniak.
    • Erlich is constantly reminding everyone that he owns ten percent of Pied Piper.
    • Gavin Belson can't get people's names right. in addition to calling Donald "Jared" he can't get Big Head's nickname right, referring to him, publicly, as "Bag Head."
    • Russ treats Erlich like a complete nonentity. When Russ first arrives, Erlich makes several attempts to impress him, only for Russ to ignore him. When Russ goes around the room and states his impressions of each member of Pied Piper, he skips over Erlich.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In "Black Hat/White Hat," Dr. Banachek is put in charge of Nucleus by Gavin, so that when it fails, Gavin will have a scapegoat. Dr. Banachek realizes this in 11 minutes and flees Hooli. Very quickly.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation:
    • Or rather, Seinfeldian Calculation. The guys spend their entire night filling up two whiteboards coming up with an algorithm to calculate the minimum amount of time it would take Erlich to jerk off 800 guys, factoring in such variables as girth, stamina, length and dick-to-floor height. This is subverted, however, when the concept leads to a Eureka Moment for Richard, causing him to invent a completely new type of data compression.
    • The gang sans Richard engage in a mostly off-screen one in "Two Days of the Condor" as they are enjoying a final toast before nuking Pied Piper.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: "Meinerhatzen's Haversack" has the team plotting an elaborate scheme to build their platform under the noses of their CEO Jack Barker. The planning takes an entire half of the episode, where they recruit help, find resources, develop a psychological strategy to fool Jack, etc. The plot is discovered within a minute of walking through the door.
  • Shoddy Knock Off Product:
    • Nucleus, despite being developed with the unlimited resources of Hooli, can't perform to standards of Pied Piper, as demonstrated by the UFC streaming debacle.
    • Richard also accuses the End Frame CEO of this, although his assertion goes on deaf ears as they completed their platform first.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • While there are a few slips here and there (and even some of those are justified, such as Elrich, who knows much less than he thinks he does, saying that 9 times F in hexadecimal is 'fleventy five') the show mostly gets the programming, software engineering and technology jargon and facts right.
    • Since Mike Judge used to live in the area the Geography is fairly accurate. The Incubators address 5230 Newell Rd is mostly correct, while the street number is fictional (for obvious reasons) Newell Rd odes exist in Palo Alto. Furthermore A GPS readout on Peter Gregory's car is based on actual maps of Palo Alto and confirms the Incubators location of being on Newell Road. Also the reaction to Big Head riding his bike all the way to San Jose isn't unrealistic, It's roughly 20 miles give or take 5 depending on where in San Jose he road to, While not a huge amount, 20 miles would be a lot for someone like him, who is implied to not be really athletic.
      • The one slip up is mention of characters eating at Arby's on El Camino. currently the closest Arby's is in South San Francisco which seems unlikely. it's more likley likely they were referring to the one in nearby Menlo Park, which closed down several years prior to the show airing.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Gavin Belson and Peter Gregory, who used to be friends and colleagues before business split them apart. It's brought to a touching conclusion in the wake of Gregory's death.
  • Small Name, Big Ego:
    • Erlich sold his company for enough money to live on, so he thinks of himself as a Silicon Valley big-shot and mentor, but the real big-shots don't know who he is and his proteges don't look up to him.
    • Russ Hanneman is a billionaire, but he's only ever had one idea: Internet radio. He constantly brings up his one good idea as proof that he's a brilliant tech investor, but Richard points out that none of his investments have made any money since then, so he's actually lost money due to inflation.
  • Smurfette Principle: Carla is the only female employee at Pied Piper and she actively dreads having other women around because people automatically assume that she'll be friends with them because they're female.
  • Snub by Omission: Russ Hanneman treats the Pied Piper team like they're old buddies, except for Erlich, whom he completely ignores. Ironically, Erlich is the one person who actually seeks Russ's approval.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: When Raviga drops Pied Piper, Laurie suggests that Monica should "dress down" when explaining it to Pied Piper. She does so, but Elrich recognizes it right away.
    Elrich: It's a classic chick breakup move, and you aren't very good at it, either. You look great.
    Jared: It's true. Beige is a good color for you. You are a true autumn.
  • Socially-Awkward Hero: Richard's people skills are very bad, to the point where he can't even look most people in the eye when talking to them. He's gotten progressively better at it as the show continues, though he's still has a bad stutter and a tendency of putting his foot in his mouth.
  • Sophisticated as Hell:
    • In the season 1 finale, Erlich remarks that even if he personally jerks off every guy in the audience they still won't be able to beat Nucleus. Dinesh then questions how long that would take, since they only have 10 minutes for the presentation. This spirals into them trying to make equations to figure out how Erlich could successfully jerk off every guy in the audience in that time span, using mathematical terms and logistical jargon while talking about dicks.
    • Erlich sees himself as a sophisticated man with a taste for the finer things, which comes across as humorous given his general crassness. He'll wear kimonos and buy expensive artisan cheeses while swearing and ripping huge bong hits.
  • The Stoner:
    • Erlich can be seen smoking a bong and in the third episode raids Gilfoyle's stash of magic mushrooms. Erlich wants to think that he's an Erudite Stoner, but his marijuana usage is depicted as making his already pretentious personality even more annoying. His attempt at going on a drug fueled spirit quest is also shown to be driven by his own ego and desire to leech off of Richard's potential success rather than a sincere attempt at seeking spiritual awakening. He also has a grow op in his garage.
    • Gilfoyle stores mushrooms in a Ben and Jerry's carton in the Incubator's fridge and judging from his comments, and his general demeanor, is almost perpetually high.
  • Straight Man:
    • Richard usually takes this role when dealing with the other members of Pied Piper, though he is not without his own foibles.
    • The normal world of the tech investment industry is represented by Monica, who always remains level-headed and rational, in contrast with the antics of the zanier characters.
  • Stupid Statement Dance Mix: "Two Days of the Condor" has a no-budget version: rather than altering the audio, someone simply plays guitar along with it.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After the actor and character's death, Peter Gregory's post is taken by Laurie, another talented tech investor with No Social Skills.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Jared talks in his sleep... in German. Oddly, he denies knowing any German.
  • Take That:
    • The show implies that developers work on apps for increasingly niche markets in an attempt to get just enough notice to be bought out by one of the giant tech companies at the expense of true innovation. Richard doesn't even consider the greater implications of his compression algorithm because he was so preoccupied with Pied Piper's original incarnation as a music app.
    • The pilot episode takes a jab at how tech companies cause property prices to spike beyond affordable levels because of the sheer amount of money being thrown around.
    • "You know who else comes from Canada? Justin Bieber, the Hitler of music!"
    • Gavin Belson's use of unreliable holoconferencing technology is in reference to CNN's much-derided tendency to trot out such tech during US elections.
    • Richard states that no one could watch more than one minute of Cloud Atlas
    • Gilfoyle on Big Head: "He's as pointless as Mass Effect 3's multiple endings."
    • Erlich announces that all musicians are either thieves or assholes, especially Radiohead. Richard is about to object, but Erlich insists, "No... they're assholes!
    • Whenever Russ Hanneman gets into a car, he's exclusively listening to Nu Metal bands such as Crazy Town and Limp Bizkit to further establish him as a douchebag with no taste.
    • Gavin Belson tells Richard that tech journalists aren't as willing to go to jail to protect a source as "real" journalists.
    • Gavin's realization of Nucleus's failure is a string of Take Thats: ďIs this Windows Vista bad?... Itís not iPhone 4 bad, is it?... Fuck. Donít tell me... tell me this isnít Zune bad.Ē ď...Iím sorry, Gavin. Itís Apple Maps bad.Ē
  • Teen Genius: Kevin "The Carver" is a teenager who hacked into the Bank of America and took down the system. Subverted. Turns out he was actually just a consultant there who accidentally crashed the entire system.
  • Third Line, Some Waiting: Big Head's exploits at Hooli, while certainly inter-weaved with the show's main arc, are largely divorced from the day-to-day events at Pied Piper.
  • Those Two Guys: The "brogrammers," Aly and Jason. They realize Pied Piper is more valuable than it first appears, discover Big Head had nothing to do with Pied Piper's creation, and accidentally leave a phone with Nucleus on it in a bar. Later, Jason, seeing Aly's work, figures out how Middle-Out works after they, along with the rest of the Nucleus team, are fired from Hooli.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Big Head is usually holding an oversized soft drink cup.
  • Troll: Carla, a newly-hired engineer at Pied Piper, spends most of her introductory episode pretending to make more than Dinesh and Gilfoyle simply to piss them off and makes up a friend named "Cunty" to mess with Jared's head over the company's harassment policies.
  • Unfortunate Names: Everyone who works for Pied Piper, sans Richard and Jared, believes that "Pied Piper" is a stupid name for their company.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: A sizable chunk of humor is much better understood if you have experience working in the programming industry.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Dinesh and Gilfoyle never seem to be separated, yet argue constantly.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Happens every time Richard becomes over stressed, and once because Richard was looking at a laptop screen inside a moving vehicle.
  • We Care: Hooli's company image is all about making the world a better place.
    Gavin: If we can make your video and audio files smaller, we can make cancer smaller, and hunger, and AIDS.
  • Women Are Wiser: Monica was originally the only female cast member and is also the Straight Man.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Season 2 did this constantly. Any given episode would either end on a high or a low note for Pied Piper only to go the exact opposite direction at the beginning of the next, often going the opposite direction again in the same episode. This would go back and forth the entire season,
  • Yes-Man: Gavin Belson is surrounded by them, to his detriment, because everyone's terrified about upsetting someone who wields incredible wealth and power. He has enough self-awareness to ask himself if he's surrounded by yes men, but his spiritual advisor is equally terrified and claims that he isn't.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Erlich slept with one of the Techcrunch judge's wives before the show started. He ends up sleeping with the new one as well.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/SiliconValley