Elaine Nardo: I'm only going to be working here part-time. I'm not really a taxi driver. Alex Rieger: Oh yeah, I know. We're all part-time here. You see that guy over there? He's an actor. The guy on the phone, he's a prize fighter. This lady over here, she's a beautician. The man behind her, he's a writer. Me? I'm a cab driver. I'm the only cab driver in this place.
Their vile toad of a dispatcher Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito).
Extremely well-acted and written, the show remains a high point in American sitcom history. As listed below, if you want to see just about any standard sitcom Trope done right, this is the place to come.The series has now a character and a recap sheet under construction.For other works named Taxi, click here.
Advice Backfire: Once, Alex encouraged Tony to be a referee, but Tony said it was a bad idea. It gets corroborated by Latka (acting as Alex himself).
During the time Sunshine Cabs was broke, Elaine worked as a secretary. There she encouraged her boss so he could take a few decisions he had thought of for some time. Those sunk the company as soon as Elaine lost her job after her boss was fired.
And This Is for...: Simka slaps Latka for each family member of hers he unknowingly mocked with his jokes in "Guess Who's Coming for Brefnish" ("I hope you have a small family...").
Annoying Laugh: James L. Brooks' famous cackle shows up in the background of most episodes.
Arc Welding: The war between Latka and his alter-ego Vic Ferrari escalated in "Tony's Lady" because Vic considers that the engines are dirty because there's grease andoil in them. Things got even worse in the following episode, "Simka Returns" when Latka finds out that Vic has spent the night with Simka.
Ascended Extra: Louie's Beleaguered Assistant, Jeff. Although he never quite made "regular" status, he did get to be the focus of one episode where he's accused of selling auto parts on the black market. Behind the scenes, his actor was Andy Kaufman's stand-in for rehearsals, which Kaufman himself didn't attend (he got away with this due to having a photographic memory; he had lines, etc. down cold when it was time to film).
Louie: Ignatowski, get the hell outta here. Jim: Boss, I think there's something you ought to know. Louie: The only thing I wanna know is how fast you can get out of my sight. Jim: Boss, this is really, really important, and you know how short my memory is, so let me tell you before I forget. Louie: Okay, what is it? Jim: What's what?
Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: When the gang goes to pay a visit to a hairstylist to unsuccessfully demand an apology for the hideous hairdo he did to Elaine, she considers dumping a bowlful of hair dye on him but decides that it wasn't necessary. But before they leave, Louie dumps the bowl over the stylist.
Bait and Switch: Once, Jim walked into the phone and Bobby told him that he was expecting an important call, but it turned out that Jim was actually going to the bathroom.
In a later episode, it looks that the giantcockroach who invaded Louie's cage has been exterminated. But it turns out (via a moving sandwich) that either the roach survived or another one took its' place.
Berserk Button: Never say to Louie the word "accident" or make an analogy to Alex that involves pelicans.
But most of all: Never, ever mention "Vic" or anything related to him, to Latka.
The Bet: When Louie made a bargain with God before an operation, Alex and Bobby made a bet regarding if Louie would genuinely change his ways. Alex is strangely optimistic, while Bob thinks that Louie will quickly revert to his old ways. Bobby finally wins, but after Louie overhears them about the bet and has a massive Freak Out.
Beware the Nice Ones: When Louie's Jerkass antics finally cause Alex to snap, he rips the front off of Louie's wire-mesh dispatcher cage with his bare hands.
In "Fantasy Borough", Latka's attempt to share his fantasy with the others is cut short by Louie forcing him to go back to work. In Latka's subsequent daydream he and Louie have switched roles, costumes, and personalities, and it climaxes with Latka about to execute Louie by firing squad.
Big Little Man: In the first episode, Louie spends most of his time in the dispacher's cage. When he exits it for the first time to yell at someone and we see how short he really is, it gets a big laugh from the audience.
Biting-the-Hand Humor: Subverted in an episode of SNL hosted by Danny DeVito, when he reads a letter supposedly from his mother asking God to forgive ABC for cancelling the show, adding that "but I'll understand if you don't." In a later bit, while driving through NY, Danny decides to blow up the ABC building.
Bittersweet Ending: Subverted. Almost every week the cabbies lose in their attempts to fulfil their dreams and get out of the garage, but there's usually a moment of hope at the very end.
Blind and the Beast: Louie and his girlfriend Judy during the last season. In a late episode, she undergoes an operation to restore her sight, horrifying Louie who thinks she will reject him. Fortunately for him, he's exactly what Judy expected, except that she thought Louie had more hair between his eyebrows (Louie plucked a few hairs of them in the meantime).
Bowdlerise: Syndicated prints of "Men Are Such Beasts" omit a brief exchange between Alex and Bobby, when the latter jokes that with the accident he had, Alex "lost his virginity", and his (cab) bumper.
Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In "A Full House For Christmas", Louie lists his reasons for collecting his life savings over the years:
Louie: A nice house in Florida, a new car, for revenge...
Break the Cutie: Bobby. He always comes closer than anyone to getting out of the garage, and always has his dreams crushed in the most humiliating way possible. Louie delights in reminding Bobby what a failure he is.
Word of God is that Louie relishes humiliating Bobby because he's jealous of Bobby's good looks and likability.
Brick Joke: At the beginning of "Thy Boss' Wife", Bobby shows his fellow cabbies what he learned in a pantomime class, including a glass wall which Jim thinks its real. At the very end of said episode, Jim asks Bobby to take the glass wall out. Made even funnier taking that three days had passed since Louie was last seen after going with Mrs. McKenzie to her home.
The Cast Showoff: Andy Kaufman, with a Season 4 subplot involving Latka's multiple personalities.
Catch Phrase: "Tank you veddy much" for Latka, though it predated the show via Andy Kaufman's stage act (Latka was a redressed version of his Foreign Man persona).
Celebrity Is Overrated: Subverted. "I'd like to tell you there are more important things than being rich and famous... I'd like to tell you, but it's a crock. Being famous is great." This coming from Famous Amos, no less.
Celebrity Star: Subverted by the fact most of them had very little screentime and weren't vital to the plot.
Channel Hop: From ABC to NBC in its last season. Ironically, the show which beat it in the ratings during the third season on NBC, Diff'rent Strokes, moved to ABC during its eighth and final season.
Comically Missing the Point: When the boys go to the mountains, they find themselves without refrigeration for their food, with Bobby mentioning they'd probably be dead in a couple days in those circumstances. Cue Jim's uncontrollable laughing.
Completely Missing the Point: Jim once wrote a script for Mash, but his idea involved science fiction (a genre which Jim is particularly interested in), which is a far cry from the style of the medical war comedy-drama.
Continuity Nod: In "Reverend Jim: A Space Odyssey", Jim only remembers the time he first met the cabbies when he hears Latka speaking his own idiom.
In an early episode, Alex gets shot and quits to become a waiter in a French restaurant, which was often seen on later episodes.
Gary, the horse Jim once owned was mentioned in "Alex Gets Burned By An Old Flame".
Crazy-Prepared: When Latka needs a styptic pencil, Jim reveals that he's wearing one behind his ear.
Alex: Jim, why do you carry a styptic pencil behind your ear?
Jim: In light of what just happened, the question is: why don't you?
Creepy Cockroach: Apparently, the garage doubles as a boarding house for roaches.
Cultural Stereotypes: Latka and his nameless fictional crapsack homeland, where postage stamps are issued commemorating barbed wire. The homeland makes its "mountain people" the butt of jokes; Latka and Simka's initial relationship in the Season 2 episode "Guess Who's Coming for Brefnish" was brought to an end by this (she's from the mountains).
Denser And Wackier/ Lighter and Softer: Seasons Two through Four stand out over the more down-to-earth seasons One and Five for this, apart from being considered the best of the series. A good example of the Denser And Wackier stuff is the story arc of Latka's multiple personality disorder in Season Four.
Disappeared Dad: Subverted. Elaine's ex-husband Doug (Nardo?) is actually mentioned, and in quite a few occasions.
Disney Dog Fight: Between an amoral (and abusive) showman and cabbie Alex for the showman's Great Dane that Alex took to the garage after throwing out his owner from the cab. The dog finally goes over to the man... to maul him.
The Ditz: Tony, John, Jim (Justified since he used to be a drug addict), Latka at times (although that was arguably more a case of Obfuscating Stupidity), and Bobby has these moments on occasion.
Early-Installment Weirdness: The first season. Not only because of the absence of Reverend Jim, but also Alex was more of a sarcastic wisecracker and Louie had practically no redeeming qualities.
Earn Your Happy Ending: The main point of Alex's farewell speech for Bobby. Though he couldn't make it at the first try, Bob has already set foot in Hollywood and he'll just relinquish his dreams and his efforts by returning to drive cabs for Louie in NY.
End of Episode Silliness: The last scene of "What Price Bobby" featured Alex in a log cabin calling the rest of the gang.
"Elaine's Strange Triangle" culminates with Alex getting dragged into dancing with several men at a gay bar. At first he resists, but then gives in and starts having fun. The next day we learn he actually won a prize for dancing.
Enforced Method Acting: One episode called for Louie DePalma to whisper something to Elaine Nardo, and for her to respond by slapping him and saying "That's disgusting!". Danny DeVito whispered such sweet things to Marilu Henner during rehearsals that she was genuinely shocked when he started whispering not-so-nice things, and she blew several takes because of it (to DeVito's delight).
When Carol Kane joined the cast as Latka's girlfriend Simka, Andy Kaufman taught her their country's "language" by inviting her to dinner and refusing to speak English or let her do so.
In one episode, guest star and real-life boxer Carlos Palomino accidentally delivered a real left hook to Tony's face. You can see Palomino pull his hand towards his mouth in horror for a second on realizing what he did before getting back in character and turning around to exit.
Epic Fail: When Bobby returned for a visit, Latka at first bought a beach ball for him, but he returns it when he's told that the pilot Bobby starred in hasn't been picked up yet. Then he gives Bobby a pair of earmuffs, but he tells Latka his pilot became a series. Finally, Latka returned with the beach ball, only to learn that Bobby plans to return to NY after his part had been recast.
Everybody Must Get Stoned: The effects of Latka's cookies, which the entire main cast (except for Louie, who feeds them to Elaine to keep her interested in him) ingests before Alex learns from Jim what's in them.
And this was how James Caldwell turned into Reverend Jim Ignatowski.
Everybody Owns A Ford: Subverted; the Checker A11 taxis were not supplied by the manufacturer (who, as makers of the then-memetic NYC taxi and with very low sales to the general public, had no need for the Product Placement publicity).
Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: Bob's dismayed after the theatre critic of the fictional Long Island Bulletin declares that Bobby should have had a bad stomachache from "all his scenery chewing". He then says that nobody reads that paper, only to find Louie giving away a whole bundle of the Bulletin.
Failure Is the Only Option: Of a sort; most of the characters have dreams of stardom or glory outside of the cab garage, and view driving cabs as something temporary, but it's pretty clear that ultimately they aren't going anywhere. Part of Alex being the Only Sane Man is that he's really the only one who accepts that he's a cabbie, and not a boxer / actor / artist (and so on)-in-waiting.
Louie: Only one guy ever escaped this garage.....and that's James Caan! And he'll be back!
Fantasy Island: The two-parter "Fantasy Borough", in which Hervé Villechaize leaves negatives of his headshots in Tony's cab gets everyone talking about their fantasies.
Freak Out: After knowing that Alex and Bobby gambled about if he would really change after an operation, Louie has a fit of rage and hooks Bobby (who doubted that he would really change) to a tow truck.
Friends Rent Control: Subverted in an episode where Louie considers moving into a huge, very expensive, apartment.
Less dramatically, the apartments that Alex, Bobby, etc. live in seem awfully nice for somebody drawing a cabbie's pay, even given an admittedly cheaper '70s NYC.
Subverted/Lampshaded by an episode in which Latka accidentally puts an unrefundable deposit on a luxury apartment (he thought it was a year's rent when it was only a month's) and the cabbies chip in to help him pay for the place in exchange for using it as a hangout.
Also subverted in Jim's residence: a condemned building which eventually gets torn down.
Gilligan Cut: Subverted in the form of not having a cut at all. At first, Alex refused to play the piano at "Jim's Mario's", but changes his mind after a beautiful woman sidles up.
Good Feels Good: In one later episode, after coming into his inheritance, Jim would sometimes give money to needy people, simply because it made him feel good to help others. To prove his point, he gave each of his fellow cabbies a thousand dollars, with the stipulation that they give the money to someone they felt deserved it. By the end of the episode, the other cabbies found that they enjoyed giving the money away as well.
Half-Arc Season: Season four centered on Latka's multiple personalities, while the final season featured Jim figuring out what to do with the money he inherited from his father.
Specifically, the garage's owner, Mr. McKenzie, is treated like this, but actually appears (and is played by Stephen Elliott) in "Thy Boss's Wife". Oddly enough, he continues to be given the faceless treatment from that episode on.
McKenzie also appears in the episode in which Louie blames Jeff for the missing parts.
A famous example/subversion happened when Alex called his ex-wife after she didn't invite him to their daughter's wedding. Then the unheard voice of hers (of at least her secretary) tells Alex he's yelling even if he just raised his voice, he then repeatedly rebuffed that he wasn't yelling, even if he was yelling at the end.
Latka's cookies turn out to have a very special extra ingredient.
Another time Alex is given uppers as a headache remedy before being summoned to see the boss.
Yet another time Jim innocently puts something in Louie's coffee.
Alex: Hey, hey, hey, I saw that! What did you put in his coffee? Jim: Well... it's either a tranquilizer or a Chiclet. (In the middle of giving out cab assignments, Louie falls asleep, snoring loudly.) Alex: I think we can rule out a Chiclet.
Long List: In one episode Latka starts to tell the other characters how there's only one thing you need in life to make you happy, and that's friends...but then he remembers that you also need food and clothes...and a nice car...and a home...with a pool...and a beautiful woman "to make you foam at the mouth"...and finally concludes that if you have all that other stuff, "the friends would only get in the way."
Loves My Alter Ego: Happens to Latka in "Simka Returns" where Simka sleeps not with him but with his suave alter ego Vic Ferrari.
Alex: Latka, what your mother and I did was indiscreet. Latka: You mean not even indoors?
Mate or Die: Almost leads to the end of Latka and Simka's marriage: Latka sleeps with a female cabbie to stay warm in a snowstorm; according to their reverend, to right this infidelity Simka has to have sex with one of the male cabbies. When Alex refuses, they divorce - but then Jim asks why they can't just remarry...
Mexican Standoff: Bobby faced a burglar trying to rob him with a gun. Bobby then pulls a larger gun he had in the cab, after some eight hours both exchange guns. Then, the thief reveals his gun was unloaded. Bobby then proceeds to stick them by their cannons and charges $48 to the robber (Bobby had left the taximeter running), who gets out after paying them.
Mood Whiplash: For such an humorous show, Jim's horse eulogy is quite touching. Specially lampshaded by Louie, who asks Jim to do that same speech once his mother dies.
Motor Mouth: The most visible effect of the "uppers" on Alex.
The Movie: The Andy Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon featured scenes recreating memorable Taxi segments with most of the original surviving cast; who unfortunately looked 20 years older, especialy when contrasted with Jim Carrey as Kaufman.
New Old Flame: Latka and Simka initially dated in the latter's first appearance (with Latka blowing it with a few inadvertently-offensive jokes). Some time later, both begun a serious relationship that led to marriage.
Nice Girl: Zena, specially taking Louie's notorious flaws. Even if he (involuntarily) cheated on her, she ended up inviting him at her wedding.
No Periods, Period: "Simka's Monthlies" reveals her PMS is so crippling that it's enough to cause her to miss an appointment with the immigration board that she must appear at in order to become an American citizen. Edges into Very Special Episode territory; Simka even asks Alex why, if it's such a common problem, there hasn't been a movie of the week about it.
Non-Specifically Foreign: It's implied that Latka and Simka come from Eastern Europe, but "the old country" is never mentioned by name.
Obfuscating Disability: Subverted when Louie thinks a woman in a wheelchair is scamming him and pushes her down a flight of stairs. It turns out she wasn't faking this time.
Once an Episode: During the first three seasons, whenever Latka appeared, there would be always a joke about his culture/language or naivete, even both. Lampshaded by Latka himself, as he said everybody thought that he was just "that cute little foreigner".
Out of Order: A mostly unintentional example (because of the SAG strike in the summer of 1980). Two episodes ("Jim the Psychic" and "Fledging", the last featuring Jeff Conaway as a regular) were filmed in late '80 for the third season, but they aired in September and December 1981 (during the fourth season), respectively.
Pac-Man Fever: The subplot of "The Unkindest Cut" involved Iggy becoming addicted to the Trope Namer after Louie installs the console in the garage. Averted as Pac-Man had debuted a couple of years before.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Jim goes to a costume party without a disguise other than a pair of novelty glasses. Nobody at the party noticed, however.
Parental Abandonment: According to Alex, his ex-wife Phyllis told him that if he really loved his daughter Cathy, he should lose all contact with her.
Parental Neglect: Alex's father Joe was more busy chasing girls than caring for his own family.
Prophetic Fallacy: One memorable episode featured Jim predicting Alex's death. Namely, that right before it happened, he would do the cancan while wearing a green shirt and a baseball catcher's mask. Alex actually does it to show he's not afraid of Jim's 'prediction,' and then the doorbell rings...
Did you see it, Reiger!? It was hideous!!
Put on a Bus: Jeff Conaway left the show after the third season, so for most of Season 4 Bobby's only appearances were in leftover episodes produced for Season 3. Eventually he returned for a departure episode where he moved away to try his luck in Hollywood.
Real-Life Relative: Louie's girlfriend Zena was potrayed by Danny DeVito's real-life wife Rhea Perlman.
Also, DeVito's own mother Julia appeared as Louie's mom in a few episodes.
Tony Danza's son Marc Anthony appeared in two episodes of the second season, appearing in one as the kid Tony wanted to adopt.
Averted with Christopher and writer David Lloyd, with both being unrelated. Ironically, David is the father of another (also unrelated) Christopher [Series/[Modern Family Lloyd]].
Real Life Writes the Plot: Many episodes had Tony being annoyed by Latka. These developed from a real life dislike Tony Danza had for Andy Kaulfman that ultimately lead to Danza refusing to cameo as himself in the 2000 biopic Man on the Moon.
Reunion Revenge: Actor-cabbie Bobby attends Louie's class reunion as Louie.
Running Gag: Louie's eternal war against the cockroaches who often invade his "cage".
Ruritania: Latka and Simka's homeland resembles the mostly rural Central and Eastern Europe.
Sanity Slippage: Jim was quite straight-laced before tasting that fateful weed-laced brownie. Subverted if taking in mind he's fairly informed about many things (He even rounded out how many Brazilians are served by said South American nation's postal service)
In addition, Alex sure acted strange when he was given the "uppers".
Sdrawkcab Name: The main reason Jim took Ignatowski as a second name was because he thought that was "Star Child" spelled bacwards.
Secret Test of Character: Latka and Simka's wedding ceremony climaxes with a set of questions they have to answer correctly. When Latka gets the last one wrong, Simka declares she will marry him anyway even if she has to defy their religion. Thus, they pass the true test of the strength of their love.
Series Fauxnale: The hour-long episodes "On the Job" (season 3, when the Sunshine Cabs Co. goes bankrupt and the cabbies look for other jobs) and "The Road Never Taken" (season 4, when Elaine gets a job offer in Seattle) were filmed as series finales (Even season 2's two-parter "Fantasy Borough" could be considered one). Ironically, the show actually ended with a relatively normal episode.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Generally, the series is quite optimistic (specially by late-70's standards) even though the first season was more close to the middle with a few dramatic themes as well as the show's final year on the air.
Split Personality: In the last episode of Season 3, Latka reinvented himself as suave-but-smug Vic Ferrari to be more attractive to women. Eventually, Vic found it hard to remember who he once was; while Alex helped Latka out of this, early in Season 4 it was revealed that Latka now had multiple personalities. This became an ongoing subplot that tied in to the return of Simka later that season (Latka had to fight Vic for her affections); ultimately Latka was cured and free to propose to her.
One notable personality Latka developed was that of Alex himself — not only was it a dead-on imitation (props to Andy Kaufman), but Alex found out Latka lived his life better than he did himself (making better choices, giving better advice, etc.)!
Stalker with a Crush: Tony is dismayed when he finds out that Denise (the girlfriend he wants to get rid of) got a job as a cabbie, just to be close to him. Tony is so desperate that he puts Louie, of all people, as the hypotenuse in a bogus love triangle.
Stalker Shrine: Somehow the cabbies think that Louie's pasting of a photo of Zena's face over a bikini-clad calendar girl seems to be quite weird (That's how Jim knew of Zena in "Louie Meets The Folks").
Stylistic Suck: The soap opera Bobby was hired for starred an actress known for crying at every possible occasion.
Superstition Episode: This happened on an episode. Reverend Jim had a strange dream involving Alex doing some odd things which culminate in him dying, Alex laughs off his concerns, and Louie spends the rest of the episode pointing out how all of the events happening to him match what Jim dreamed of. The climax of the episode involved Alex Tempting Fate by donning a weird costume (including a catcher's mask) and dancing around his apartment, when the doorbell rings. They open the door, revealing the dread spectre of a....Girl Scout selling cookies.
Trademark Favorite Food: Louie always wants to be the first to taste Baby Ruth chocolate bars every time the vending machine is refilled.
True Companions: Especially in later seasons. The Official Fan's Guide even says that the cast was like this off the set, too (with the exception of Andy Kaufman, who was quite disliked owing to his Cloudcuckoolander nature).
Unable to Cry: When his father died, Jim was quite upset for not crying yet. Then he realised he was crying all along.
The Unfavorite: Alex considered himself to be this, explaining why he didn't want to see his father after he had a heart attack.
Unresolved Sexual Tension: A couple of episodes suggest that Alex and Elaine might have a thing for each other, but the series was unfortunately cancelled before anything came out of it.
Very Special Episode: "Like Father, Like Daughter" (pilot episode), "Blind Date", the subplot of "Bobby's Acting Career", "Men Are Such Beasts", "Tony and Brian", "Elaine's Strange Triangle", "Louie Goes Too Far", "Jim and the Kid", "Jim's Inheritance", "Alex Goes Off The Wagon", "Alex's Old Buddy", "Louie and the Blind Girl", "A Grand Gesture" and problably as mentioned above "Simka's Monthlies" (the last aired episode).