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Series: Smart Guy
Smart Guy is a sitcom that aired on The WB for three seasons (technically, two-and-a-third since the first season was seven episodes) from April 1997 to May 1999 and is the sister series to Sister Sister (pun intended), by way of both being produced by Suzanne dePasse's production company dePasse Entertainment.note  It stars Tia and Tamera Mowry's real-life brother Tahj, playing the lead character of T.J. Henderson, a kid genius who gets promoted up from the 4th grade to the 10th grade, to the dismay of T.J.'s older brother, Marcus, as T.J. now goes to Marcus' school (Piedmont High). The show primarily focuses on T.J. trying to adjust to high school, though secondary storylines (and in episode, both storylines) usually focus on Marcus and his sister Yvette.

Even though the series didn't last long enough to reach the 100 episodes necessary to make it to broadcast syndication (it produced and aired 51 episodes), the series has had some staying power – adding to the fanbase that already watched the show on The WB – during its syndication run on Disney Channel (in certain countries such as the U.S. and U.K., and Family Channel – no, not that one – in Canada) during the 2000s, and has since aired in the States on BET, Up (the former Gospel Music Channel) and MTV 2.

Not to be confused with The Smart Guy.

This series provides examples of:

  • A-Cup Angst: The season three episode "From A to Double D" features Yvette auditioning for a role in a play, but being passed over for a more developed actress. She then proceeds to stuff her bra to see if she would have gotten the part if she was bustier. Yvette does get the part, but (after some inner conflict) decides that getting breast enhancement surgery isn't for her.
  • Absentee Actor / Not Important to This Episode Camp: The only time one of the main cast members did not appear was in season three's "Get a Job," in which Tahj Mowry's character T.J. (a rare instance in which where the series lead was completely absent from an episode while they were still on the show) is given a Written-In Absence as having gone to a week-long geology camp, a process that also severely drained Floyd's account and thus forced Yvette and Marcus to get jobs . The episode instead focused on Yvette dealing with her boss at a clothing store who advocated following black people to make sure they don't steal items, and Marcus and Mo secretly taking a late night job at a radio station (after Floyd told Marcus he couldn't).
  • Actor Allusion: During the episode "Soda Wars", the scene before the end credits features Mo Tibbs (played by Omar Gooding) trying to pitch a new soda to Colonel Bubble executives. His pitch goes well until he jumps off the table and injures himself. The CEO of the company promptly asks "does he have a brother?"
  • All There in the Manual / Lost in Translation: Subverted with the former and played straight(-ish) with the latter in "Diary of a Mad Schoolgirl," when Marcus and Mo catch Floyd fumbling with building a barbecue grill he purchased on the cheap (he got it at a bargain price due to it being winter), due to a translation error:
    Marcus: Why don't you use the instructions? I mean, there's no women around.
    Floyd: I can't understand the instructions, the computer translated 'em into English from Japanese.
    Mo: From uptighten of hard-working king bolt, say "oh, yes, please." For fullness of grill, see diagram #3. In slot-making handle time, a happy sound occurs leaving nothing to hope at. Have joy with your hot saucy food. Makes sense to me.
  • Adults Are Useless: Inverted with Floyd, averted/subverted with Vice Principal Militich and played somewhat straight with Coach Gerber.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Usually averted with Floyd, however he inadvertently plays it straight near the end of "Bad Boy":
    Floyd (to Brandi, T.J.'s friend): In fact, if you can follow my rules, you can come kick it in my crib 24/7. (T.J. and Brandi turn away from Floyd in embarrassment) I said it right. Didn't I say it right? I've been watching Yo MTV Raps, didn't I say it right?
  • Aside Glance: T.J. gives one in a minor recurring gag (in which he tilts his head toward the camera with a look that exclaims "how pathetic"), seen mainly during season two.
    • It first appears in the second season premiere "Primary Brothers," when Marcus suddenly goes along with T.J.'s idea to have him join the race for student council president (after his own campaign spectacularly flops due to lack of student interest), after a girl assumes that Marcus is running when she sees T.J.'s "Henderson for President" poster.
    • In "Big Picture," T.J. gives one when Yvette meets a hunky but not-too-smart swimmer and accidentally fails to "remember how to point" (the exact words she said earlier about guys being shallow), after Yvette talks to one of her friends about how guys prefer looks over substance when it comes to women.
    • T.J. gives the look again in "Achy Breaky Heart" (likely an episode carried over from season two that aired early in the third season) after Marcus and Mo give their approval for T.J.'s choice for a new drummer... who happens to be a girl in their age group, so yeah...
  • Bacon Addiction: "The Dating Game," "Bad Boy" and "Get a Job" infer that Mo has one. In the second of the three episodes, it's the only thing that gets the Heavy Sleeper to wake up from T.J.'s bed, after he subs in for him while T.J. sneaks out of the house, just to get some shuteye.
  • Black and Nerdy: T.J. Subverted, in that he leads somewhat of a normal life (he has some friends his age, even after skipping six grades from 4th to 10th, and likes to play sports), but does exhibit exceptional knowledge that may go over some of his high school classmates' heads; it's even revealed that he's read The Washington Post since he was 4 at the latest and reads The Journal of Quantum Mechanics. The series has occasionally gone back and forth to illustrate that he has some semblance of normalcy but does not understand things that a person of average intelligence would such as why The Three Stooges are funny or even contemporary slang such as "'bout it, 'bout it."
  • Book Dumb: Marcus, however a couple of episodes imply that he's likely more Brilliant but Lazy. Inverted in "Dumbstruck," when he actually takes it upon himself to study when T.J.'s intelligence nosedives due to a hit to the head from 2x4s. He blanks during a class presentation of his, T.J. and Mo's World War II oral report, until T.J. reveals he's smart again to Marcus when faced with the possibility of flunking. Marcus admits (and T.J. agrees) that its not the same being the smarter older brother, and T.J. promises not to get more than 100% on tests to keep Marcus from being saddled with extra homework.
  • Bowdlerise: Even a show produced by Disney (again, Smart Guy originated as a WB series and did not air on Disney Channel, in reruns, until after it was cancelled) is not immune to content edits. A few episodes had edits for content deemed inappropriate when it aired on Disney Channel, though compared to edits the channel made to other network series it acquired, the edits in Smart Guy were few and very far between (though the episodes were run in their entierety on the Disney Channel-esque Family Channel in Canada):
    • In "Men Working Badly," a scene in which T.J. and Marcus are shown working in the bathroom has T.J. asking how Marcus would kill Yvettenote , Marcus says he would drive an 18-wheeler through her room and T.J. asks if he could ride shotgun (on the passenger's side). The Disney edit of the episode removes this and jumps to what follows, in which Mo enters the bathroom, confronting T.J. about having to be the only one doing work on their parenting assignment while T.J. is helping work on building Yvette's bathroom.
    • Mo's "maybe she can give me some [acting] tips" line (listed under Freudian Slip) and part of the scene where Yvette has T.J. enlarge her breasts to the point where T.J. "can't see [her] head anymore" in a computer rendering of what she'd look like with larger breasts were cut from the Disney version of "From A to Double D" (part of the latter scene in which T.J. enlarges Yvette's breasts in the rendering to a reasonable size is left in, though).
    • A 40-second-long scene where T.J. catches Deion and two other male classmates from Piedmont with beer was cut from "Henderson House Party"; despite being a Disney-acceptable minced oath, T.J.'s utterance of "crud" when faced with having to admit the party was his idea was also (unnecessarily) cut from the episode. Curiously, the later scene where Floyd discovers Marcus disposing of the beer cans was allowed to stay.
    • "Crushed" has a scene in which T.J., Marcus and Mo fantasize about their attractive teacher, Marcus and Mo's fantasies have Miss Caldwell clad in red lingerie and saying "come on in, we've got all night" (..."and a pizza," in Marcus's fantasy); T.J.'s far tamer fantasy in which Miss Caldwell wears a sundress and says to "come on in, they're discussing structual isomers on the Discovery Channel" is the only one of three's fantasies seen in the Disney Channel airings. The Disney edit of the episode also removes T.J.'s mention that he and Miss Caldwell will both enter their sexual peaks when he turns 18 and she's 34 during a talk-turned-argument with Floyd about his crush on her teacher, whom Floyd starts dating.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Nina. Her actress, Tinsley Grimes, surprisingly manages to pull the look off, though.
  • Brainy Brunette: Yvette Henderson; at times, this is more an Informed Ability, others it's incorporated into the storyline.
  • Brand X: Colonel Bubble is the In-Universe equivalent to Dr. Pepper. It is mentioned in a couple of episodes, and serves as a major plotline in "The Soda Wars"note .
    • A blink-and-you'll-miss-it instance in "Achy Breaky Heart," when T.J. prepares some Chocolatine (the In-Universe Suspiciously Similar Substitute to Ovaltine). Weirdly, the real world product is mentioned by T.J. three episodes later in "Beating is Fundamental."
  • Brother Chuck: Most of Yvette's friends disappear after one or two appearances without explanation. The only one to stick around longer is Nina, her main best friend in season three.
  • Bumbling Dad: Generally averted with Floyd, he is often on top of everything that goes on with his kids.
  • Butt Monkey: Marcus. Mo, to a lesser extent.
  • Cast Show Off: Certain episodes incorporate Jason Weaver (Marcus)'s singing ability, primarily in storylines focusing on his, T.J. and Mo's band Mackadocious. Tahj Mowry's tap dancing talent is also shown in the episode "A Date with Destiny" (namely in the Destiny's Child music video T.J. appears in; in the cold open, T.J.'s tap dancing is a bit rougher – though a whole lot better than Marcus and Mo's moves – during his, Marcus and Mo's dance audition for the video).
  • Celebrity Star: Destiny's Child guest stars in the aptly-titled season three episode "A Date with Destiny," offering T.J. the opportunity to be in their music video and later the chance to go on a world tour with them.
  • The Cheerleader: Yvette is shown to be a cheerleader in the Pilot Episode, a Call Back is given in the second season premiere "Below the Rim," in which it is revealed Yvette quit the team.
  • Child Prodigy: T.J., obviously. He is proficient in most school subjects (except wood shop), he is a Polyglot (though this is somewhat of an Informed Ability, it's only shown twice such as in "The Dating Game," where he recites to Yvette the ways "no" can be said in different languages), and he was even regularly reading The Washington Post by the time he was 4.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Mo, on occasion. Occasionally fluctuating between this and simply being Book Dumb, he has been shown having the ability to sleep standing up (in "Get a Job") and once (in "Dumbstruck") thought a haberdasher – a person who sells clothing and accessories – was a measurement of bacon – which, as Floyd interestingly points out, Mo confused with a rasher (the latter case was during a conversation in which Marcus told Floyd about what he learned while studying, and brought up that Harry S. Truman once worked as haberdasher before becoming President of the United States).
  • Cool Old Guy: Floyd.
  • Crossover: In a season five episode of Sister Sister, T.J. is hired as an S.A.T. tutor to the girls (apparently being flown in to do it, as Sister, Sister is set in Detroit, while Smart Guy is set in Washington, D.C.). Ray, Tamera's father, even title drops the series.
  • Cut a Slice, Take the Rest: In "Something Wicked This Way Comes", while staying at the Henderson's house, Mo walks into the kitchen as Floyd gets a slice of chocolate cake. Floyd offers Mo a slice, asking for "the least little sliver". As Floyd prepares to cut, Mo twice asks for a bigger slice, Floyd then gives him half the cake when the size of the slice is just right.
  • Dawson Casting: Word up. Marcus (not an egregious example, considering Jason Weaver was a couple of years older than Marcus), Mo (who fits as Omar Gooding was playing 15-year-old, in the first season, Mo while in his early 20s) and Yvette (her portrayer, Essence Atkins, is actually too close in age to John Marshall Jones – who plays Floyd – for them to be father and daughter [1]; there is only a ten-year age difference between the two). It's a bit odd that Gooding and Atkins play high schoolers in the show when you consider that Gooding's character in Hangin' with Mr. Cooper (which ended a few months after Smart Guy debuted) was revealed to have graduated high school in the show's final season and Atkins played a college freshman almost four years earlier in the pilot episode of Saved By The Bell The College Years, before her character was written out.
    • This also applies to many recurring cast members, such as J.D. Walsh (Mackey), Tinsley Grimes (Nina) and Arvie Lowe, Jr. (Deion), who were also in their early 20s during their runs on the show. It's pretty peculiar when you consider that the Disney-produced series that came after the show ended had most of the teenage characters played by young actors exactly or very close to the same age of their characters.
    • Handily averted with T.J., as Tahj Mowry was the same age as the character.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mostly T.J. and Yvette, though they definitely both get it from Floyd.
    • Even Mo gets in on the act sometimes, though usually with him it's less deadpan and more "cheerfully snide" one-liners.
  • Death Glare: Pretty much everyone in the family is good at giving these, especially T.J. Often accompanies a Beat joke.
  • Double Standard: Comes up in the end credit scene of season two's "Something Wicked This Way Comes." Earlier in the episode, Floyd spied Yvette when she arrives outside the house with her college-age boyfriend. Later, Marcus comes back with his date, Yvette asks if he's going to spy and says that it isn't necessary since if Marcus makes a move, it won't go anywhere, leading Yvette to call him out on this; surely enough, Marcus (off-screen) makes a move on his date and gets smacked in the face. Yvette gets Floyd's point then.
  • Dream Sequence: "Perchance to Dream" has this (feeding in with Ship Tease, below), with Yvette having a recurring dream that she's marrying Mo. Her friend Alicia, who got a "B" in a psychology course in which she learned about how dreams work, tries to help her decipher what it means. After the dreams continue, Alicia then convinces Yvette to ask Mo out, after Yvette believes that she may have underlying feelings for him. In actuality, her marriage to Mo in the dreams represented commitment and Mo represented the safer universities that she applied to out of concern that her application Princeton would be rejected.
  • Drop-In Character: Mo. Made into a Running Gag at how often he hangs out at the Henderson house. He even falls asleep there in season two's "Bad Boy" and Floyd is unable to wake him until he calls his mother, arising him when she tells Floyd that cooking bacon is the way to get him up.
    • Floyd sometimes treats him as a third son especially if it involves doing something T.J. and Marcus have no interest in, such as breaking in Floyd's new BBQ, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Drop the Hammer: In "Boomerang," Mo is assigned as T.J.'s shop class tutor (the only class that T.J. isn't good at). Hilarity Ensues. A literal example of the trope happens when Mo teaches T.J. to hammer a nail and Mo holds it, with T.J. driving the nail in on the last hit, breaking Mo's thumb; Mo then teaches T.J. to use an electric screwdriver, T.J. flips it the same way that Mo did but drops it on Mo's foot by accident; Mo then teaches T.J. how to work an electric sander, T.J. loses control of it and sands Mo on the side of his right eye. Mo then quits, and hops off without his crutch when T.J. tries to show him that he can work a nail gun.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The Pilot Episode has Mo and Marcus not quite so friendly towards each other as they were from the second episode on (he also doesn't seem to recognize T.J. when he sees him the first time in the episode and is even surprised of how smart T.J. is, implying that he doesn't know T.J. very well), both being rivals for the affections of Marcus's first in-series interest, Mariah (even literally fighting over her, leading T.J. to defend Marcus). It's jarring when you consider that "It Takes Two" in season three establishes that Mo and Marcus have been friends since the fourth grade.
  • Easy Amnesia: Subverted. The season two episode "Dumbstruck" has T.J. getting hit in the head by 2x4s while helping Marcus and Mo take lumber left over from one of Floyd's roofing jobs to the garage and becoming stupid as a result. Mo suggests they hit him in the head again, but they don't because This Is Reality). T.J.'s intelligence resufaces in class halfway through the episode, but he fakes it due to his troubles fitting in. Floyd is tipped off after he finds that a copy of The Journal of Quantum Mechanics hidden in an Archie comic book, and convinces T.J. that being smart should not be something that he should hide; he finally does when presenting a World War II report with Marcus and Mo after Marcus blanks on key parts of the presentation.
  • Expy: Joshua Gibran Mayweather plays Cordell Ross in the episode "Can't Buy Me Love," a preppy and obnoxious student who buys Marcus in a school servant auction (hiring a girl as a front to place the bid for him). Marcus gets fed up with his bossiness and takes him to task, only to find out from him later that he bought him because he just wanted a friend. Cordell's mannerisms and wardrobe are quite similar to that of Carlton Banks.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Marcus is the foolish sibling (though foolish may be pushing it just a teeny bit) to Yvette and T.J.'s responsible.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: TJ (melancholic), Floyd and Yvette (choleric), Mo (phlegmatic), and Marcus (sanguine).
  • Game Show Appearance: In "A Little Knowledge", T.J. goes on Series/{{Jeopardy!}}-clone Knowledge College, only to crash and burn due to a sugar high caused by coffee and candy while studying all night for the show (doing it to support his family, who is going through money problems). Marcus subs in after T.J. comes off the sugar high and gets tired, however he does no better:
    Hugh Sterling (the game show's host, played by John O Hurley): How much did President [Thomas] Jefferson pay for the Louisiana Purchase? (Marcus buzzes in) T.J.?
    Marcus: Well, uh, let's see. In-In-In D.C., the most that you can take out of the ATM is $300, and you would want to hold back a $20 in case something come up. So, I'm gonna say $280, Hugh. (Hugh and Yvette, who is watching off-stage, look at Marcus strangely; Marcus gives an "OK" hand gesture, with Yvette giving him a half-hearted thumbs up)
  • Garage Band: Marcus' band Mackadocious is a subversion, in that they only practice in the garage and actually get gigs.
  • Generation Xerox: In "The Graduate," Yvette plans to protest a controversial congressman who has a speaking engagement at her graduation, Floyd mentions that his late wife/Yvette's mother had been active in protests during their senior year of high school. Floyd only went along with them, because she would get wound up that she would want to "go for ice cream" (a case of Getting Crap Past the Radar, Floyd changed it to "ice cream" before going into TMI territory in front of his daughter).
  • Genki Guy: One-time character Lester, in "The Code," so much so that Marcus suggests he switch to decaf coffee.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: For a Disney-produced series, Smart Guy has a few not-so-G-rated moments (more in line with the content standards of some PG-rated live-action Disney feature films of the period, than that associated with Disney Channel Original Series in later years):
    • In "Love Bug," Marcus tries to get a date with Erica Drew, who has a reputation for sleeping with guys (in reality, she slept with a now ex-boyfriend when she was a freshman and went along with the rep placed on her after other guys claimed she slept with them, and girls started ignoring her). One of Marcus's friends told of a story about going to "Mount Freaky-Deaky" at the end of the date.
    • In "Break Up Not to Make Up," T.J. is uncomfortable with taking showers in gym class with the older students. During the end credits, after he confronts his fear head on, Floyd discovers T.J. cooking in the nude (for more than one obvious reason, we only see him from the shoulders up). Floyd stops T.J. when before he exits the kitchen to answer the door, after someone rings the doorbell, asking him to at least put a dish towel over his "business".
    • In "Get a Job," Marcus and Mo sneak off to take a late night job as D Js on a local radio station. Floyd catches on to this after he sees Mo drifting to sleeping with his eyes open, and both Marcus and Mo wearing the same clothes they did the day before. After he takes them to task during a call-in on the show, Floyd reacts to Marcus asking for him to come pick them up with an "aw, hell." Mo, who mistakenly believed that the word "butt" wasn't allowed to be said on the radio, reacted to this: "I know you can't say the 'H' word".
    • In "Diary of a Mad Schoolgirl," Marcus makes himself seem more worldly than he is as a result of looking at what kind of guy his love interest Janice wants. After Janice invites him to her house that Friday, she says goodbye through sign language. Marcus makes a faux sign gesture, really dancing with both thumbs up, leading to this:
      Janice: Whoo, you're naughty. We'll see about that Friday night.
      Marcus: Whoo! Cool! Man, what did I say? What did I say?
    • In "The Soda Wars," T.J. has a meeting with Marcus, Mo and Yvette on how to have Admiral T.J. soda counter a giveaway by Colonel Bubble that was done to steal customers from T.J.'s popular homemade soda before it started encroaching on their territory. T.J. asks about what would be a good giveaway for their drink:
      T.J.: The typical Admiral T.J. soda drinker is a teenager. So, as teenagers, what do you guys like to do?
      Marcus and Mo (in unison) Well... (Marcus chuckles slyly)
      T.J.:' Besides that.
    • In "The Graduate," T.J., Marcus, Mo and the other Piedmont High juniors are pranked by the juniors when a "pancake breakfast" ends with the fire sprinklers being turned on them. T.J. points out that a female student who was drenched in the prank is wearing a T-shirt and nothing underneath it, Marcus and Mo insist she "should be comforted" and run after her. Later in the episode, Mackey insists on pranking the seniors by streaking at the graduation ceremony. At the ceremony, Marcus informs him that his idea is a no-go with this exchange:
      Marcus: Mackey, I wanna share something with you because you're my boy. Look, no one at any time will ever wanna see you naked.
      Mackey: What about when I'm married?
      Marcus: Never!
    • Mackey's idea comes in handy when T.J.'s pancake batter cannon that he rigged inside the podium fails to activate when the time comes to spray it on the graduating senior class. Coach Gerber pulls two of these with mild profanity drops in the episode: "I miss the '80s, when kids just didn't give a damn" and "my brother, full head of hair, looks like freakin' Fabio".
      • Freudian Slip: Inverted in "From A to Double D," as Mo didn't actually say a breast-related word but asked if he did since he said words that were awfully close to creating one:
      Mo (wondering whether he should ask Lisa, a co-star in Yvette's play who recently got breast implants, about getting acting tips): I was thinking of getting into the acting game, maybe she can give me some tips. (beat) I did say "tips", didn't I?
    • Later, when Mo talks to Yvette that as long as she remains the grounded person she is, it doesn't matter whether she has breast implants or not.
      Mo: So, I think you should do whatever makes you feel best. (beat) I did say "best", didn't I?
  • Good Parents: Floyd is this in the end, despite making mistakes on occasion.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!!: Even though it's a Disney-produced series, since Smart Guy aired on a broadcast network, it's averted and played straight depending on the episode. A few episodes, generally during season three, feature utterances of "hell" and "damn".
  • Grade Skipper: The whole premise of the series. T.J. was a 10-year-old fourth grader who jumped six grades to the tenth. In "Goodbye, Mr. Chimps," he explains that this happened because his teachers, who originally thought he was a discipline problem due to his acting out in class, discovered that he was bored with the subjects he was being taught in the fourth grade.
  • Happily Adopted / Oblivious Adoption: Mo. He had a happy relationship with his adopted parents, then in the episode "That's My Momma," he discovered he was adopted after walking in on a discussion between his mom and dad about whether the night of his 17th birthday party was the right time to tell him. Miffed that his parents' kept this secret from him his whole life,note  Mo went searching for his biological mother, dismissing his adoptive parents. After getting a false lead, Mo meets his birth mother, a Delaware fortune teller who after a strange conversation about why she gave him up for adoption, dismisses his offer to get to know him better. At the end of the episode, Mo realizes that his adoptive parents truly care about him.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Mo and Marcus.
  • Hidden Depths: As much of an oddball as Mo is, he is shown to be proficient with tools, can be a decent hair-cutter (as long as his attention isn't diverted), and becomes a pretty decent cook (with training from Yvette).
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Only shown once during the series, in the closing credits of "The Soda Wars".
  • Insufferable Genius: T.J.
    • Blake Jordan in the episode "Beating is Fundamental," T.J. finds him pretentious from their first meeting and grows to outright dislike him. Blake knocks Marcus and Mo for their idea for a barber business (which they created for a school project), shamelessly hits on the much older Yvette and rigs a camera to peep at her in her bathroom, and slams T.J.'s Berserk Button by disrespecting his family to his face for being working class. T.J. calls him out for his jackassery ("Smart kids like us get a rap for being really snotty, condesending little jerks. And I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but it's completely because of you!") and gets so fed up that he punches Blake.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: T.J. again. This fluctuates though depending on the episode, as T.J. has been shown having friends his own age and knows quite a few people closer to the ages of both his siblings.
  • Instant Cultured: Averted in this case. T.J. having the interests of both a kid and a genius is a running theme, though the season two episode "Dumbstruck" has him sad that he can't get into The Three Stooges like his dad and brother.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Tia and Tamera Mowry, Tahj's sisters, guest star in a season one episode.... tounge-in-cheekly titled "Brother, Brother". The episode even has an inverted Twin Switch, where Marcus pretends to be his own (non-existent) twin in order to date both Tia and Tamera's characters, a plan that backfires when they both fall for his worldly alter ego Marquisnote  (also counts as Real-Life Relative).
  • Jerkass: Marcus has a few moments of this in regards to T.J. (particularly in the Pilot Episode), but they are caused by his insensitivity, frustration with his brother or lack of good judgement, he is not actually a mean person and usually recognizes what he did wrong by the end of the episode.
  • Little Boy Seeks Big Girl: T.J. towards Nina (a girl whom he was tutoring whom Marcus dates, not Yvette's friend from season three), in "Working Girl".
  • Male Gaze: "T.A. or Not T.A." features a female student named Rosalinda (who Marcus dated earlier in the episode, in an ill-conceived method of learning Spanish by having her speak the language to him the entire night). Rosalinda is then named the new teacher's assistant for the Spanish class Marcus and Mo are in, she is introduced to the class to begin her instruction, wearing an outfit that really accentuates her curves. Needless to say, Marcus and Mo find incentive to stick with the class; Mo even comments that "[he and Marcus] might have to stay after class".
    • During a volleyball game in gym class in "Break Up Not to Make Up," T.J. guide a pretty blonde student named Jennifer (whose gym uniform includes a cropped shirt) to pretend to bend down to tie her shoe in order to allow a member of his team to make a serve. Yvette considers it morally reprehensible, until T.J. points out that whoever wins the game does not have to run laps, asking Jennifer to "do what the kid says." Mackey and another male student on the other team look in awe when Jennifer bends down, allowing the ball to bounce off Mackey's head, giving T.J.'s team the extra point.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Less on the "bastard" part, but T.J. is very good at manipulating people to get what he wants (such as in "Boomerang," when he tricks Floyd into doing his woodshop class project) or for what he thinks is someone's own good (like in "Achy Breaky Heart," when he tries to cheer up Marcus by having his ex-girlfriend and new drummer in Mackadocious pretend that she's taking Marcus back in order to get him to perform at a nightclub gig), and every once in a while an episode or subplot revolves around him doing so. To his credit, though, he is always very apologetic about it if he ever ends up hurting someone, and tends to go out his way to make amends.
  • May-December Romance: Not May-December in the typical sense, but in "T.A. or Not T.A.", Yvette begins dating Calvin, a handsome and muscular fellow Piedmont High student who one could swear was a 20-year-old but Yvette is surprised to discover is a 15-year-old sophomore (she assumed he was a senior). Since Yvette is a 17/18-year-old high school senior, she reacts with shock to the discovery and becomes self-conscious that people might not bo so understanding about it (as Mo did later in the episode, making a couple of jokes about her and Calvin's relationship). Her friend Nina, however, helps her see that age shouldn't matter if you've found someone who could be your soulmate. When Yvette heeds the advice and publicly announces that she's dating someone two years younger than her, Calvin informs her that because he knew that she felt uncomfortable, he started seeing another girl, who is a sophomore... at Howard University.
  • Men Are Uncultured: Seemingly, Floyd, Marcus and Mo are this.
    • Averted with T.J., who is pretty worldly.
  • Metaphor Is My Middle Name: In "T.J. Versus the Machine," Marcus' pep talk to T.J. to get him to agree to a chess rematch against a supercomputer he lost to earlier that episode creates a combination of this and Overly Long Name (on account of him barely able to come up with a metaphor using just T.J.'s first and middle initials):
    Marcus: You're a winner, man. You can win on anything, you're tenacious. Hey, that's what T.J. stands for, Tenacious... Just Won't Give Up Guy.
  • Misblamed: Marcus is mistakenly blamed by Floyd for throwing the Wild Teen Party that T.J. threw in "Henderson House Party," then Yvette tells her father that someone else was responsible; T.J. walks in, surprised Floyd came home early, and confesses everything. Marcus takes the blame anyway, since he was the one in charge of the house.
  • Missing Mom: T.J., Yvette and Marcus' mother already passed away prior to the start of the series. This is first mentioned in the third season episode "Beating is Fundamental," when he mentions that he's a widow to a single mother of an Insufferable Genius. This also serves as a major plot point later that season in the episode "The Graduate," in which Yvette decides to boycott her graduation due to a controversial politician's appearance as the graduation speaker, only to hold firm on her decision when she finds out the congressman cancelled due to his arrest; it's revealed that Yvette doesn't want to go because her mother won't be there to support her, a talk with Marcus reminiscing about their mom helps change her mind about not attending.
  • Moebius Neighborhood: Mo is the only regularly featured neighbor. The only other neighbors mentioned are his parents, which we only see in season three's "That's My Momma".
  • Mr. Fanservice: In "Big Picture," Yvette dates a muscular but shallow swimmer named Xavier; she begins overanalyzing her relationship with him when Floyd and Marcus assume that she's only dating him because he's good-looking. When she tries to break up with him, he arrives from swimming practice shirtless, befuddling Yvette, who asks him to meet her later when he's fully dressed.
    • In "That's My Momma," Floyd is seen wearing only two towels (one over his neck and another over his waist), he had been taking a shower and got interrupted when Mo's mom Verla Mae knocked on the front door to find out where Mo was, after he went in search of his birth mom.
  • Ms. Fanservice: In the cold open of the season three episode "Crushed," Marcus, Mo and T.J. each fantasize about their attractive teacher, Ms. Caldwell. Mo and Marcus daydream about her wearing a red leather bustier, tempting them with an inferred invite for a night of, well... (Marcus' fantasy adds a pizza to the night of fun). T.J. fantasizes about Caldwell asking her to come to her house to watch a Discovery Channel special on structural isomers, clad more conservatively in a sundress. Marcus and Mo give looks of confusion, implying they might have found T.J's fantasy a bit odd.
  • Name's the Same: Reagan Gomez (then Gomez-Preston) and Tinsley Grimes play characters named Nina in different seasons (the African-American Gomez plays Nina Duperly, Marcus and T.J.'s love interest in "Love Letters;" Caucasian Grimes plays Nina [No Last Name Given], Yvette's best friend in several season three episodes).
  • New Job Episode: Season three's "Get a Job".
  • Not So Above It All: A major joke in the show is the contrast between T.J. being a Wise Beyond His Years genius and being a naive immature kid at the same time.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Whenever the group has to trick somebody for whatever Zany Scheme is going on, it's a fair bet T.J. will have to do this and pretend to be a regular (even overly irritating) kid.
    • "Dumbstruck" also has him do this after a hit to the head makes him actually stupid; after his intelligence returns, he decides he likes how people treat him better when he's not smarter than them.
  • Odd Friendship: Mo and T.J. have something of a friendship (though "Henderson House Party" has Mo state he thinks of T.J. as a brother) even with the six-year age difference; however, Mo is usually a Nice Guy and is Marcus' best friend, so he's known T.J. for as long as he's known Marcus.
  • Oh, Crap: Describes the reaction on T.J. and Coach Gerber's faces when a cannon rigged to spray pancake batter at the graduating seniors in "The Graduate," accidenally sets off on Floyd and Yvette after the ceremony when everyone else leaves, after T.J. slams the remote to activate the cannon on a chair in disappointment over the plan's failure. T.J. then asks Coach Gerber (who's living in the school due to tax issues with the IRSnote ) if he could hide out with him.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: What T.J.'s full name stands for is never revealed during the course of the series.
  • Plank Gag: The reason why T.J. briefly lost his intelligence in "Dumbstruck". He was helping Marcus and Mo load lumber for a roofing job Floyd was booked to do, when Mo and Marcus failed to pay attention as T.J. laced up his shoes, and well... wham!
  • Profiling: In the episode "Get a Job," Yvette and her friend Nina interview a job at a store at the mall. Yay! It turns out, for Nina, that the job involves following black people to make sure they don't steal. Awkward. It's even more awkward since Yvette was also hired at the same store, which the manager uses to claim her profiling isn't racist. Right... This also bites the manager, Ms. Hendra, in the butt later on when she ends up doing this to the founder/president of the store (in other words, her boss). Things clearly don't well for Ms. Hendra's employment at the store.
  • Promoted to Opening Titles: Omar Gooding, who plays Mo, starting with the second season. Also a mild case of Fake Guest Star, as Gooding appears in six of the seven episodes in season one (his only absence is in "A Little Knowledge").
  • Running Gag: An occasional running gag has Marcus and Mo doing a "happy dance," which varies depending on the episode which it is featured. Marcus does it for the first time in "Brother, Brother," Mo joins him in doing the dance for the first time in "T.J. Versus the Machine".
  • Scenery Censor: The end credit scene in "Break Up Not to Make Up" has Floyd discovering T.J. cooking in the nude, most of his body blocked by the wall island separating the living room and the kitchen, we see his head and shoulders though (considering his height, it would have blocked most of T.J. even if he was clothed).
  • Series Fauxnale: "The Graduate" focuses on Yvette deciding not to go to her high school graduation as her late mother won't be there. This clearly was intended as a series finale (or just a season finale, if The WB had renewed it for a fourth season), however one more episode ("Never Too Young") aired afterward.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: T.J., being a genius, delves into this on occasion. He gets called out on it in the season three episode "Diary of a Mad Schoolgirl," when he stumbles upon a computer diary entry from Janice, a girl whom he is working on a Lizzie Borden report withnote .
    Mo (reading from diary entry): He's [T.J.] really smart, but I think people would like him better if he didn't use such big words all the time.
    T.J.: Oh, that's proposterous! (Mo and Marcus look at him, knowing T.J. just proved Janice's point) Shut up.
    • Noting this, T.J. later has to break down his previous statement in Laymen's terms, during a meeting with Janice about their report:
      Janice: Hey, T.J., I found Lizzie Borden's laywer's closing arguments!
      T.J.: Great! That will butress our postulation that Massachussetts v. Borden was a seminal instance of jury nullification. (Janice looks at him in a manner exclaiming "what?") We'll say she done it, but the jury didn't give a hoot.
      Janice: Oh, OK. I'll see you online this afternoon.
      T.J.: Oh, good! T.J. go class now.
  • Ship Tease: Between Mo and Yvette, more and more as the show went on.
  • Shout-Out: In "Don't Do That Thing You Do"note , Ernie (a DJ-turned-music producer who emceed the Battle of the Bands contest earlier in the episode and T.J. hires to give Mackadocious an offer for a phony gig as revenge for being kicked out the band after he shows up Marcus with his keyboard playing ability during the contest), talks to Floyd about managing T.J.'s music career. Ernie mentions that T.J. needs to present an image that people will remember (like, as he says, Mickey Mouse's ears, Michael Jackson's gloves and Prince's infamous pants with a cut-out of the butt), T.J. then comes out wearing the signature early '90s vertical afro worn by Kid 'N Play's Christopher Reid (who guests as Ernie and sports cornrows in the episode), only to topple on the floor while dancing due to the weight of the hairstyle.
    • In "Dawgburger Rebellion," Deion turns on the radio while he, T.J. and several other students (including Marcus and Mo) are holed up in Vice Principal Militich's office to protest the school's ban on off-campus lunches. T.J. asks Deion to turn off the radio by saying "Would you turn that off? This is a sit-in, not Soul Train!''
    • The opening Dream Sequence in "Perchance to Dream" has Marcus asking why T.J. is playing "ice skating music". T.J. points out that the songnote  is a "timeless musical expression of the union of two individuals". Marcus has a radically different suggestion:
      Marcus: Well, Kurupt does the same thing with "We Can Freak It".
      T.J.: I'm saving "We Can Freak It" for the first dance.
    • "It Takes Two" references two films already in theatrical release around the time of the episode's airdate: Patch Adams and Beloved. When Mo goes into the theater playing the latter as Marcus tries to have him catch Mo's girlfriend cheating on him (only to miss the other guy several times), Mo reacts to this and to a nude scene in the film:
      Mo (to a theater patron): This is stupid, I am not going to spy on my girlfriend. And I sure don't want to see Danny Glover's naked butt!... Oprah look pretty good, though.
  • A Simple Plan: Several.
  • Smart People Play Chess: T.J., as revealed in the episode "T.J. Versus the Machine". He loses to a supercomputer named Socrates in a match, and has to be convinced by Marcus (who makes matters worse when T.J. finds out that he and Mo were going to bet against him) to do a rematch. Weirdly, it's Marcus who gives T.J. the idea to make ridiculous moves on the board to stump Socrates, confusing the computer to the point of overheating, allowing T.J. to make a move to beat him.
  • Smug Snake: Recurring general louse Deion, who has several jobs over the course of the series, all of which seem to involve smoothly using someone else so he can make a buck. Amped Up to Eleven in the episode "The Dating Game," where he wanted to date Yvette, only for T.J. to have her pretend to date Mo to fend off Deion's advances.
  • Spiritual Successor: A.N.T. Farm (an actual Disney Channel Original Series, whereas Smart Guy only aired on DC in reruns after its network run ended); both shows have a Child Prodigy who is a Grade Skipper that attends their brother's high school.
  • Sports Widow: Inverted in "T.J. Versus the Machine," due to it being father and daughter, rather than husband and wife. When Floyd watches a football game with a friend of his (whom later spies T.J. in the stands when the camera turns to him, off-screen), Yvette tries to talk about the colleges she's considering applying to. Yvette holds a grudge over his ignoring her, and even flips the script while she's watching Caroline In The City, and Floyd tries to talk with her about college.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Played with in "Diary of a Mad Schoolgirl," Janice starts acting like this when she, Yvette and her friend Alicia conspire to teach Marcus a lesson when they find out that Marcus made himself into Janice's perfect guy after reading her computer diary (which Janice mistakenly sent while file sharing her and T.J.'s report on the Lizzie Borden trial). It leads to a horror film parody when the three each dress up as a killer trying to off Marcus and T.J. Janice reveals herself, and as she makes them think she's going to chop them up with meat cleavers (which are actually rubber), she brings in the other two girls to lower the boom on them. Marcus apologizes to Janice, and then promptly asks her out on a date, to her dismay.
  • Standardized Sitcom Housing: The Henderson household, although the layout is inconsistent throughout the series, Marcus and T.J.'s shared bedroom is the only room regularly seen in the show that appear the same throughout (though it is not seen for the first time until two episodes into the series in "Brother, Brother"). In the pilot, the kitchen looks like a revised version of the kitchen in the Matthews home on Boy Meets World (Piedmont High's hallway and classroom is the exact same as that used on that show; but also changes appearances in the following episode and again in season three). For the remainder of season one, the kitchen is slightly larger than in the later seasons and contains a flight of stairs; the stairs are moved to the living room when it is added in season two. The third season has the living room slightly rearranged with the front door moved from the back of stage center to far stage left, though the window appearing next to it remains in the same position. Yvette's room is not seen until "Perchance to Dream" in season three, and is only seen once more in "The Graduate" later that season. The house has a storage room, which is converted into Yvette's personal bathroom in season two's "Men Working Badly" (it is not seen or mentioned again after that episode).
  • Start My Own: Each time this happens, the success doesn't last:
    • T.J. starts his own newspaper in "Stop the Presses," after he objects to Yvette relegating him to write puff pieces. The Weekly Veritas doesn't get any readers until he tabloidizes the paper at the suggestion of Marcus and Mo. Needless to say, the inclusion of sensationalized stories and a "Girl of the Week" feature increases readership. Yvette bribes Mo with movie passes in exchange for a story that was going to be in T.J.'s paper. As retaliation, T.J.'s doctors a family beach photo to remove himself and Marcus, leaving a swimsuit-clad Yvette in the photo and makes her the "Girl of the Week". Yvette is furious, and Floyd shuts down the Veritas. T.J. offers Yvette to post a baby picture of himself in The Piedmont Penguin, but has him do it in a final edition of the Veritas instead to preserve her journalistic integrity; Floyd, who is fond of "the tush picture", approves of the posting.
    • In "Perchance to Dream," T.J., Marcus and Mo start a homework helpline to help students, which isn't toll-free (T.J.'s the only one providing answers for obvious reasons). It becomes so successful that they add additional phone lines to handle all the calls, as Marcus and Mo become money-hungry. After ** Mackey gets a "D-" on a math midterm (due to Marcus and Mo limiting the length of the calls T.J. takes, preventing T.J. from giving more thorough help), Floyd puts the hotline back on track, paring them back down to one line. He then [[Lampshading lampshades]] how unnecessary Mo and Marcus are to the project when Mo asks what they are going to do when T.J. is taking calls.
    • In "The Soda Wars," when the cost of a can of Colonel Bubble soda went up to over a dollar, T.J. began to create his own (Admiral T.J.). However, Colonel Bubble catches on to the early success of Admiral T.J. Soda at Piedmont High, and the company's president wields his power to stop them in their tracks before Admiral T.J. encroaches on their territory. T.J. tries his best to keep the company going even after Colonel Bubble buys the caramel syrup supply T.J. relied on to make his soda, and begins raising his soda's prices. After T.J. is forced to shut down his business after Colonel Bubble calls the health department on him, he storms the company's offices and reams them for their behavior (T.J. is also offered a job with Colonel Bubble – complete with exceptional pay and benefits – after he graduates school, to which he rejects in speech, though he later reveals to Floyd that he did take the business card in case he changes his mind).
  • Straw Feminist: Played with and inverted in "Can't Buy Me Love," Yvette buys Mo at a servant auction in order to teach him about feminism (this after he knocks the WNBA). Mo is exasperated with being subjected to relentless feminist teachings, so Mo takes T.J.'s advice by agreeing with her positions non-stop. Mo constantly comes to Yvette either talking about feminism or asking about his positions on feminist subjects. Mo lowers the boom on her, when Yvette tells him that he should form his own opinions. Oddly, some of the stuff Yvette taught Mo stuck, when he turns down Marcus's offer to watch a tape of The Players Club (a film released in 1998 that is set in a strip club). The final scene has Marcus and Mo watching a WNBA game, but only because they find the female players attractive.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: In "Bad Boy", T.J. starts dressing more "hood," in an attempt to impress a girl who dresses the same way. His attitude changes, even causing him to sneak out the house.
  • Supreme Chef: Mo is revealed to be one in "Love Letters". Yvette teaches him how to cook for his Osso Bucco assignment, and ends up sparking Yvette's jealousy when the family raves about his cooking. It leads to a Food Fight, when the two both work in the kitchen on making dinner.
  • Technology Marches On: Inverted as the technology featured in the show may be a bit ahead of its time (though not a lot of people may be aware that some of it had existed at the time of the show's run). In "Diary of a Mad Schoolgirl," T.J. works with another student on a project about Lizzie Borden through file sharing. In "Stop the Presses," T.J. deletes Marcus and himself from a family photograph (keeping a swimsuit-clad Yvette to print in T.J.'s newspaper as retaliation for stealing a story scoop) using a Photoshop-style (not long before Photoshop existed) program. In "That's My Momma," T.J. mentions to Floyd that one can watch SportsCenter online and make phone calls over the computer (since this was the late 1990s, streaming SportsCenter – which didn't become possible until the very late 2000s through the Watch ESPN streaming service – or any video online would only be possible with minimal issue with broadband/high speed internet, which was only starting to be widely rolled out and was relatively expensive at the episode aired; making phone calls over the computer is a bit antiquated these days since one can talk to someone via a webcam videophone-style service such as Skype). Played straight though in "Beating is Fundamental," which has T.J.'s nemesis Blake Jordan complain that T.J.'s computer (presumably his internet connection) was slow, implying he had dial-up service.
  • Tempting Fate[/]Horrible Camping Trip: In the season two finale "My Two Dads," after Floyd returns from his camping trip with T.J., he complains to Yvette about all the things that went wrong during the trip and vows never to return to the camping site again. Then this happens:
    Yvette: Where's T.J.?
    Floyd: Oh, crud. (walks back out the door)
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: In "Don't Do That Thing You Do," the members of Marcus' band Mackadocious audition for a replacement for their keyboardist, who broke his finger. One guy plays well but is on the run from the police, the second auditionee is an attractive girl who is mediocre at the keyboard (though Mo likes her) and the third is an accordion player who treats the instrument as Serious Business.
  • Theme Tune: For the first two seasons, it was a light, poppy Expository Theme Tune: "Another slice in the life of Master T.J. Henderson". In the second, it was changed to a more soulful, R&B theme about living life and loving and learning lessons. Both versions contain the refrain: "He's a smaaaaart guyyy..."
  • ‘Three Amigos!!: T.J., Marcus and Mo, though T.J. is sometimes considered to be the Tagalong Kid in the trio, depending on the episode.
  • Token White: Nina and Mackey. There are a few other characters that serve as this, in fact, all but two of Yvette's friends are this throughout the series.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Virtually every episode, except for the Pilot and most notably "That's My Momma", had a main plot and "B" story, with one revolving around T.J. and the other involving Marcus with/without Mo or Yvette. The show often alternated which character received the B plot, and sometimes which one received the A plot; Marcus and Mo were often part of the A plot in a given episode.
  • Two-Timer Date: In "Baby, It's You, and You, and You," Yvette, Floyd and Marcus get T.J. dates for the upcoming dance, but because they didn't tell the other (and because T.J. fears saying "no" to their choices would hurt his family), he wound up having three dates, and Mo's plan to hide it makes it hilariously worse. Marcus and T.J. try (and fail) to keep the three girls from seeing each other (Mo comes over just to hang out with Marcus and T.J., forgetting he was supposed to be at the dance... with his date! ...and apparently forgetting the whole plan). After everyone finds out about the mess, T.J. ends up taking all three dates to the dance!
    • Also invoked on Marcus, who unwittingly ends up asking twins out in the episode "Brother, Brother". See I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine above.
    • Mo's girlfriend Tracy, in "It Takes Two," is this. Marcus catches her with her other boyfriend while Marcus and Floyd are at the mall. After initially deciding not to tell Mo due to a bad experience Floyd had with a friend who girlfriend cheated on and didn't believe Floyd when he told him, Marcus decides to tell Mo – only for him to think Marcus doesn't like Tracy. After Mo issues an ultimatum that he and Tracy need to get along or Marcus will lose him as a friend, Marcus tells Tracy what he knows. He catches Tracy in a movie theater, and manages to get Tracy's other man to run into Mo and reveal that she's been seeing him.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Aside from the fashion sense of some characters (Yvette's tam hats in some earlier episodes, especially), the series made quite a few pop culture references that date the show to the late Nineties.
  • Very Special Episode: Three in all:
    • In season two's "Strangers on the Net", T.J. and one of the friends whose his own age, Karen, meet a guy named Marky412 in an internet chat room for kids. When they meet him at a burger restaurant to purchase some bootlegged games that he's selling, they find out he's a 30-something man. Mark invites them to his house to test a surfing game he's "developing," only to give away the fact that he's had other kids play it at his house... having taken photos of kids who he convinced to take off their clothes to play the game. A shocked T.J., who got Karen out before anything bad happened, later tells Floyd about it. While not explicitly mentioned, when it cuts to after the police interview T.J. about Mark, it is later revealed that Mark had a prior arrest for child molestation, and violated the terms of his parole in talking to T.J. and Karen.
    • In season three's "Get a Job," Yvette and her friend Nina get jobs at a clothing store. Their new boss, Ms. Hendra, asks Nina (who is white) to follow black people around the store to make sure they don't steal items. After Yvette catches Nina doing the task, Nina tells Yvette with clear disgust about being asked to [[Profiling racially profile]] black people. To convince Ms. Hendra that shoplifters can be of any race, Yvette sets up hidden cameras around the store, and hires Mackey (also white) and Mo to walk around the store (with Mackey playing the shoplifter, he puts the stuff back later in the tape); the tape of it doesn't convince Ms. Hendra and she effectively fires Yvette for disagreeing with her stance. Yvette has the founder and president of the store chain, who is black, come in and pretend to browse in the store, only to notice Ms. Hendra following him and informing her what Yvette told him about Ms. Hendra (though not mentioned, it's clear Ms. Hendra was fired afterward). Yvette mentions a Truth in Television that the average shoplifter is a middle-aged Caucasian females (particularly those who carry large bags, this fact is often taught in the merchandise industry).
    • "Never Too Young"note , has T.J. being pressured into drinking alcohol by Rich and Kevin, two former classmates from when he was in the fourth grade at a birthday party of another classmate. He wakes up the next morning with a hangover, which Floyd doesn't realize – and even after Yvette tells him that a parent of one of the partygoers heard that some kids drank, he dismisses it, believing T.J. would drink while underage. Floyd stumbles upon T.J. holding a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps in the garage, which Rich and Kevin pressured him to drink. Floyd grounds T.J. "forever," but Yvette's conversation with him makes him realize he overreacted. Later, Floyd sits down with T.J. to talk about why he drank at the party, and that T.J. should think "is this something I'm gonna have to lie to my father about?," if he ends up in a situation like that again and there should be honesty between T.J. and Floyd about issues like this.
  • Walk On The Wild Side Episode: "Bad Boy," normally good kid T.J. starts dressing more street in order to impress Brandi, a girl he meets at an arcade. When Floyd objects to his new clothes and T.J. disagrees with his opinion, T.J. is sent to his room. He sneaks out, with Marcus using a remote to control a tape of things he knows Floyd will say when he comes to talk about it, under the guise he's taking a bath. The plan goes awry when Floyd asks what topping he wants on a pizza he's about to order, and finds T.J. wrapped up in an altercation (which he didn't start). Floyd gets T.J. that his attitude changed with his attire, and that he shouldn't have to change himself just to make friends.
  • Waxing Lyrical: In "Baby, It's You, and You, and You," Shirley (a girl Mo asked to be his date to the school dance) accepts Mo's invitation to the dance after he recited a poem. When Shirley brings it up when Mo introduces her to Marcus, it turns out that the "poem" is actually the lyrics to The Temptations{{'}} "My Girl" (Mo claims his alteration, changing the "girl"s to "Shirl"s, as his version when Marcus calls him out on it).
  • Wild Teen Party: In "Henderson House Party," T.J. throws a party while Floyd is at a home convention in order to increase his popularity (Mo places a $5 cover charge for people attending the party; surprisingly, it doesn't hamper the turnout). Marcus catches wind of this after seeing Mo arrive, before everyone else does. Unfortunately for T.J., everyone thinks the party was thrown by Marcus. It's not all too bad for T.J., as he meets the sister of one of Marcus and Mo's classmates (even getting kissed by her when he walks her home after the party). The party gets out of control, when a guy who Nina tries to fend off thinks Mo's making a move on her, and accidentally punches another partygoer through the window. Floyd arrives early (though Marcus gets everyone, except a guy who snuck beer into the party and got drunk and throws up on the pathway, out before he arrives). Floyd blames Marcus, but after being informed that T.J. threw the party, T.J. confesses; Marcus admits blame since he volunteered to be in charge while Floyd was gone, and both brothers are grounded (though they are forced to attend Yvette's all-female adaptation of The Brothers Karamazov).
  • You Know I'm Black, Right?: An inversion in that Mackey, who is white, often tries to "act black" in an attempt to be cool. Played with further in the episode "Sit In (a.k.a. Dawgburger Rebellion)," when he decides to do an oral report on Jackie Robinson like Marcus, Mo and Deion plan to do, only for them to object to it, and then when he gives the report at the end of the episode and receives complete silence unlike the applause that the others get. Both times, he exclaims, "it's because I'm white, isn't it?"
  • You Look Familiar: Naya Rivera and Kyla Pratt both appear in "Baby, It's You, and You, and You" as two of the dates T.J. is set up with for a school dance. Rivera appears again in "Never Too Young," as Kelly (a girl T.J. accidentally tells a story told about one of the partygoers that involved her), while Pratt plays Brandi (T.J.'s streetwise friend) in "Bad Boy" and "She Got Game".
    • Taraji P. Henson plays Monique (one of the dancers in T.J.'s music video project) in "Big Picture," and Leslie (one of Yvette's friends) in "Break Up Not to Make Up" and "Boomerang".
    • Coby Bell guest stars as Garret (a guy who was interested in Yvette) in "The Dating Game" and Anthony "The Hammer" Williams (a basketball player whom T.J. tutored) that same season in "Most Hated Man on Campus".
    • Bianca Lawson guest stars as Shirley in "Baby, It's You, and You, and You" and Tracy in "It Takes Two" (both times, she was a romantic interest of Mo).
    • Jennifer Lyons plays Celia (a member on Yvette's cheerleading squad who is the first person T.J. meets on his first day of high school, whose character name is not said outright) in the Pilot Episode, and Lisa (who beat Yvette for the lead in a play, likely because of her new breast implants) in "From A to Double D".
  • Your Mom: The dirty dozens are Serious Business for Mo and Marcus, who treat it like a martial art, even bowing before and after a match. Hilarity Ensues in "From A to Double D," when they attempt to instruct T.J.

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