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Series: Taxi
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.
Pilot

This seminal Work Com, which was co-created by James L. Brooks and ran from 1978-83, was set in the grungy headquarters of the New York City-based Sunshine Cab Company.

The show's cast included:
  • Divorced everyman Alex Reiger (Judd Hirsch).
  • Bombshell single-mom/art-gallery receptionist Elaine O'Connor-Nardo (Marilu Henner).
  • Would-be actor Bobby Wheeler (Jeff Conaway).
  • Perennially losing (and possibly brain-damaged) boxer Tony Banta (Tony Danza).
  • Wide-eyed immigrant mechanic Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman).
  • 60's uber-burnout "Reverend" Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd).
  • Their vile toad of a dispatcher Louie De Palma (Danny De Vito).

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.


This Show Provides Examples Of:

    open/close all folders 

    Tropes 0 To C 
  • '80s Hair: Simka in the last season.
  • '70s Hair: Most of the guys in the early seasons.
    • Louie's girlfriend Zena had an afro, specially notorious in her first appeareances.
  • Aborted Declaration of Love: Latka tried to tell his feelings for Simka, but he turned into Vic Ferrari before he could complete his speech.
  • Absentee Actor: Latka doesn't appear in every episode, as per the terms of Andy Kaufman's contract.
    • Judd Hirsch had to miss one episode ("What Price Bobby") due to his role in the film Ordinary People. It's explained that Alex is away on a skiing trip.
    • Marilu Henner's appearances in the episodes "Mama Gravas", "Tony's Sister and Jim" and "Take My Ex-Wife, Please" amounted to little more than brief cameos.
  • Accidental Marriage: John Burns gets into one of these, and it actually sticks.
  • The Ace: Bobby when it came to women, while Tony became this after Jeff Conaway left the show.
    • Broken Ace: In "Blind Date", Bobby sets a date for Alex with Angela, who in spite of her voice, she turned out to be quite a sourpuss.
  • 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.
  • The Alleged Car: The company's taxis never exploded, but they did everything short of that.
    • Truth in Television: Taxis in major cities can cover as much mileage in a few weeks as the average personal car does in a year; naturally, breakdowns are more frequent.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: As the resident Cloudcuckoolander, Jim often confuses reality with fiction (He once referred that his father taught him to be a man along with his brothers Hoss and Little Joe), he once got obsessed with being the one who watched ET The Extra Terrestrial more than anyone else in New York City, forgets important stuff frequently and considers Louie his best friend.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Alex, for the most part. A couple of characters finally mentioned his being Jewish toward the end of the series.
  • Amoral Attorney: Louie tries to be good to an elderly con artist after running her over, but the old lady says her lawyers forced her to sue him for a million dollars.
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: "Alex Jumps Out Of An Aeroplane".
  • 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 and oil in them. Things got even worse in the following episode, "Simka Returns" when Latka finds out that Vic has spent the night with Simka.
  • Are You Sure You Can Drive This Thing?: Louie doubts that Jim can drive a cab.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Jim once mentioned finding stuff that fares often leave behind: Old magazines, gloves and meat (chewy meat).
  • 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).
  • As Himself/As Herself:
    • Herve Villechaize appeared in "Fantasy Borough: Part 1".
    • Wally "Famous" Amos appeared to Latka in a vision at the end of "Latka's Cookies".
    • Dr. Joyce Brothers was the one to cure Latka of his Split Personality in "The Wedding of Latka and Simka".
    • Jim was set up on a date with his celebrity crush Marcia Wallace in "The Schloogel Show".
    • Penny Marshall was rejected as a potential tenant by the exclusive high-rise Louie was trying to get into in "Louie Moves Uptown".
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The fictional language spoken by Latka, and later his fellow immigrant/wife Simka.
  • Aside Glance: Alex did this when Latka impersonated him, and Louie mistakes him for Alex himself.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: When Jim tries to tell Louie that he did injury an scam artist:
    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?
  • Automobile Opening
  • Bad Bad Acting: Bobby's plays were plagued with this.
  • Bad Boss: Louie.
  • 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, gleefully admitting he's no better than 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 giant cockroach 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.
    • Another case overlaps with Damned by Faint Praise after Louie watches a TV commercial in which Bobby appears:
    Louie: You did a very good performance.
    Bobby: Thanks, Louie.
    Louie: I'm not talking about you, ham-hock. I'm talking about the little show your friends have put on.
  • The Beard: Latka once wanted to have a "paper marriage" with Elaine to stay in the US. Subverted as he wanted to sleep with her.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Louie has grown one in a few occasions.
  • 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 Eater: Latka tended to be this.
    • His wife Simka is described as this by Latka.
  • Big Ego, Hidden Depths: Louie is discovered to have this in "Louie Goes Too Far"
  • 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.
  • The Big Rotten Apple/ Wretched Hive: Averted, taking in mind that living in a metropolitan area during The Seventies was compared to living in Hell.
  • Bilingual Bonus/ Yiddish as a Second Language: Latka's name is Yiddish for "potato pancake", while Simka's name means "happiness".
    • A non-Yiddish example: The name of Latka's friend Bachi, is Polish for "grandmother".
  • Billed Above The Title: Judd Hirsch in... "TAXI".
  • 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).
  • Blind Date: The third episode centers on this.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: At the end of "Mr. Personalities", Alex says Latka's "T'ank you veddy much" line, down to imitate his accent.
  • Bottle Episode: Inverted with the plane and the Class Reunion episodes, with no scenes taking place at the garage.
  • 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.
  • The Boxing Episode: Tony was naturally the focus of a number of these.
  • Boyfriend Bluff: Alex having to act as "Bill Board".
  • 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.
  • Breakout Character: Jim, to the point he became a regular during the second season.
  • Breathless Non Sequitur: How Jim's girlfriend at college tried to hide from him the "secret ingredient" for some brownies.
    Jim: Now come on, Heather, what's in the brownies?
    Heather: Sugar, eggs, chocolate, marijuana, flour, and walnuts.
  • 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 Bully: Louie.
  • The Bus Came Back: "Bobby Doesn't Live Here Anymore" was the farewell episode for Jeff Conaway as Bobby, who had left the show a year earlier.
    • "Simka Returns" took place almost two years after "Guess Who's Coming For Brefnish" aired.
  • But Not Too Black: Jeff.
  • Butt Monkey: Bobby.
  • California Doubling: The show was mostly filmed at Hollywood, but a few scenes were shot in NY.
  • Call Back: In "What Price Bobby", Tony answers Bob's new agent Nora with saying "Bobby doesn't live here anymore". A couple of years later, Bobby's farewell episode had the very same title.
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: In the very first episode, Alex is being a wiseguy while "helping" Latka with his English lessons. "Give me a minute while I go to the can," indeed. Hilarity Ensues.
  • The Cameo: Several examples over the course of the show.
  • Can't Act Perverted Toward a Love Interest: Happened to Louie when he started dating Zena.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : A single marijuana-laced brownie sent son-of-wealth-and-privilege Jim spiraling down his life-path.
  • Captive Date: The second part of "Shut It Down" focuses on Elaine reluctantly having to go on a date with Louie. She even called her children for a hilariously tearful "farewell message".
  • The Casanova: Latka's alter ego Vic Ferrari; the former once referred to the latter as "that two-bit bossa nova!"
  • Casanova Wannabe: Louie.
  • 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.
  • Character Development: With lots of de-Flanderizations included.
  • Characterization Marches On: Most of the core characters clearly matured during the series' five-year run.
  • The Chew Toy: Latka.
  • Children Are a Waste: All the male cabbies think that way after having to watch after Elaine's children.
    • Louie declares that after knowing that Alex was not invited to his daughter's wedding.
  • Christmas Episode: Seasons 1 and 5 each had one.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: John Burns (Randall Carver), who was written out after Season 1.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Latka got this in Season 1 ("Paper Marriage", the first episode to focus on him) before finally marrying Simka in Season 4.
  • City Mouse: Elaine sternly opposed to the idea of the guys taking a week-long retreat to the mountains.
    • A literal city mouse appears in the tag of the episode "Jim Joins the Network".
  • Class Reunion: Louie has Bobby attend one in his place. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Clip Show: "A Taxi Celebration", in Season 5.
  • Closer to Earth: Alex, while Elaine and Simka had some traits of this towards the end of the series.
  • Cloudcuckooland: Latka's homeland.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Jim.
  • 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.
  • The Comically Serious: The main trait of Alex throughout the whole series.
  • 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".
  • Courtroom Episode: "Louie Bumps Into an Old Lady".
  • Crazy Cultural Comparison: The traditions from Latka and Simka's unnamed country.
  • 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).
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: When Alex gets attracted to an old acquaintance of Jim, Louie does an over-the-top Parody of a soap opera narration (he even calls it "As The Loser Turns"). Then, Alex interrupts him threatening to put the microphone down his throat.

    Tropes D To H 
  • Dead Artists Are Better: The cabbies try to no avail to buy a painting of a dying artist (whom Elaine knows) who kicks the bucket inmediately after the painting is sold to someone else.
  • Dead Pet Sketch: With a pair of goldfish. The owner, Tony, can actually tell the difference between his fish and a replacement.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Louie, and frequently Alex (especially in earlier episodes) and Elaine.
  • Defenestrate and Berate: Elaine had the strange habit of having the boys painting her apartment every time she broke up with some guy. It was even lampshaded in a couple of occasions.
  • Delivery Guy: Alex had to assist a childbirth in his cab. The child's parents wanted to call him after Alex... until he tells them his name.
  • Demoted to Extra: John had a few episodes focused on him early in the series but he became less and less important by the end of the first season.
  • 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.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Most of the cabbies actually work part-time, Waiting for a Break in their ambitions.
  • Determinator: After Zena broke up with him in "Louie's Rival", Louie expected her to "crawl back" to him. Unfortunately, this never happened.
  • Did You Just Have Sex?: A split second after walking in the door Simka immediately yells at Latka, "You did it with another woman!"
  • Dinner Order Flub: "He insisted on ordering the meal in French. My main course was ten pats of butter."
  • Dirty Old Man: Alex's father Joe has some traits of a Casanova Wannabe.
  • Disguised in Drag: Alex, Tony and Latka went to a costume party dressed as The Andrews Sisters.
  • Disabled Love Interest: Judy, a blind woman, for Louie in Season 5.
  • 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), and Latka at times (although that was arguably more a case of Obfuscating Stupidity and often naivety rather than stupidity).
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Once Louie said he regularly inspected Elaine's locker, though he also mentioned he had the keys for all the lockers.
  • Door Closes Ending: The first act of "Louie's Rival" ended this way.
  • Downer Ending: The final scene of "Alex's Old Buddy".
  • Dream Sequence: The "Fantasy Borough" episode.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Jim is pretty much a walking cautionary tale.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Jim's family. His brother Tom is an stuffy Jerk with a Heart of Jerk while his sister is quite a sex addict.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Erudite Stoner: Jim. ("I must have taken.. music lessons...")
  • 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.
  • Extreme Doormat: Jim, of all people was this in college.
  • 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.
  • Fate Drives Us Together.
  • Feng Schwing: Latka briefly rented an apartment full of hidden appliances and furniture.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: When it comes to coca leaves, Jim is a true expert, able to pinpoint their exact origin (Southern Peru, 1974, before the rains.)
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flopsy: "Louie Bumps Into An Old Lady" dealt with one.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Alex Reiger: Melancholic/ Phlegmatic
    • Bobby Wheeler: Phlegmatic
    • Louie DePalma: Choleric
    • Elaine Nardo: Sanguine/ Choleric
    • Tony Banta: Sanguine/ Phlegmatic
    • John Burns: Phlegmatic/ Melancholic
    • Jim Ignatowski: Melancholic/ Phlegmatic
    • Latka Gravas: Leukine
    • Jeff Bennett: Phlegmatic
    • Simka Dahblitz: Choleric
    • Zena Sherman: Melancholic
    • Tom Caldwell (Jim's brother): Melancholic/ Choleric
    • Tommy (the waiter): Leukine
  • Fore Shadowing / Future Shadowing: When Jim is offered the "funny brownie" he objects that it would lead him to harder drugs, and guess what happened...
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Jim had almost completely forgotten when he was brought for Latka's wedding.
  • 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.
  • Friendless Background: Louie was picked on by everyone at high school.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Although the "friend" part is questionable, whenever Louie hung out with the cabbies, he was this.
    • Andy Kaufman on the set of the show, due to his Cloud Cuckoo Lander nature. Over the years, the cast each came to understand him in their own way, but the general consensus at the time was that he wasn't very well liked, especially since everyone else on the set treated one another like extended family.
  • "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.
  • Funny Foreigner: Latka, Simka.
  • The Gambling Addict: Alex.
  • Gay Bar Reveal
  • The Generic Guy: According to Randall Carver himself, his character (John Burns) was practically identical to Tony, explaining why he was written out after the series' inaugural season.
  • Get Out: Louie does this when he finds out that Jim burnt his apartment.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Shots of Jim sniffing the paint as the gang get together to paint Elaine's apartment. Director Jim Burrows said he was surprised ABC let him keep it in.
  • Ghost Extras.
  • 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.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Happened constantly.
  • Happily Married: Latka and Simka.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Pretty much anyone above Louie in the Sunshine Cab business-hierarchy.
    • 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.
  • Heel Face Door Slam: Louie tried to turn over a new leaf after suffering a heart attack and praying that he'd pull through, promising to be "the best man he could be if his surgery went okay. He did, and amazingly, he did start acting nicer. Unfortunately, Bobby made a bet with Alex, thinking Louie couldn't keep it up. Even after Bobby played hardball by telling Louie the one word that's usually guaranteed to make him blow his top ("accident") Louie didn't get mad. But then Louie found out about the bet, and then he blew his top, worse than he ever did before. He did get a bit of comfort from Alex later, when he was worried about going back on what he had promised to do in a prayer; Alex said that he had claimed to be "the best man he could be", so "maybe the best man you can be is... a rat?"
  • Henpecked Husband: Averted with Latka, even if Simka is much more sensible than him.
  • Hit Me, Dammit!: When Tony breaks Jim's relationship with his sister Monica, he asks Jim to punch him, however in spite of Tony's insistence, Jim kisses him.
  • Hollywood Dateless: Alex was Flanderized into this during the final season.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: Zig-zagged. As seen in the fantasy episode, everybody but Alex wants to get out from the garage, which is (for them) a literal Crapsack World.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: "The Call of the Mild".
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Jim in regards to Louie, to the point of considering him as one of his heroes.

    Tropes I To M 
  • I Do Not Like Green Eggs and Ham: Alex watches ET The Extra Terrestrial to get Jim to quit pestering him for not seeing it. In spite of not liking sci-fi movies, he admits to have liked the movie.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: In "Reverend Jim, A Space Odyssey", Iggy is clearly desperate to find a friend.
    • It's implied that Louie has been this since he was in high school, though he usually acts as if he was better off as a loner.
  • I Resemble That Remark: One of the Trope Codifiers. Actually series co-creator/co-executive producer/writer/director Stan Daniels gave his name to an alternative denomination for this, the "Daniels' Turn".
    • 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.
  • I Work Alone: In an early episode, Louie says he doesn't like to fraternize with his employees. Alex responds by saying that the cabbies themselves decided that.
  • Idiot Ball: Jim is prone to be this from time to time.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Subverted (without actual killing) by Louie in an episode involving an arrogant hairdresser.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Latka.
  • Immune to Drugs: Jim.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Bob James' "Angela", originally written for a character of that name in the Season 1 episode "Blind Date" before being bootstrapped for the series itself.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Louie: Ignatowski, why don't you try renting out that vacant lot between your ears
    Jim: Okey-doke.
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: While he doesn't understand what Latka says, Tony knows about what Latka's talking about.
  • Intoxication Ensues:
    • 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.
  • Is That a Threat?: After Alex rips the front of Louie's cage.
    Louie: Are you threatening me with physical violence?
    Alex: [growls]
    Louie: I'm not sayin' it won't work! I'm just askin'!
  • Ivy League For Everyone: Jim once attended Harvard.
  • Jerk Ass: Louie is among the archetypal examples, although we're occasionally given hints that it's at least somewhat of a facade.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Very rarely, Louie would show traits of this. As an example, he once helped Elaine after she got an ugly makeover, so she could confront the hairdresser.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Louie in regards to Bobby.
    • Jim's brother Tom, although he gets sort of a redeeming moment at the end of "Jim's Mario's" when he finally believes his brother has accomplished something.
  • Kaleidoscope Eyes: The boys take a while to know what color are Jim's eyes. They settle for brown.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Alex.
  • Large Ham: Jim.
  • Last Name Basis: Louie only calls the cabbies by their last name.
    • Inverted with Jeff. Actually, Louie doesn't remember his last name.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Louie: (to Latka) "You dumb fffff... foreigner!"
  • Late to the Punchline: Sort of. Once, Louie made some flattering jokes about Bobby, with Jim being the only one laughing besides Louie himself. The problem, Jim was laughing at his previous joke.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Louie and Jim are rarely seen without their usual outfits. Louie's case is lampshaded in a late episode.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Alex ends up having to pretend to be named "Bill Board" when Elaine desperately makes up a name for an imaginary boyfriend.
    • Better that than Carman Gea.
    • Alex later jokes: "Well, I'm better off than my brothers: Switch and Clip."
  • Living Prop: Jeff was this at the beginning.
  • Local Hangout: Mario's.
  • Logo Joke: For the fifth season Christmas Episode the Vanity Plate was changed to the young lady saying "Merry Christmas, Mr Walters!", but she still got the grumble in response.
  • 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.
  • MAD: Taxing
  • Malaproper: Latka.
    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...
  • Messy Hair: Jim's hair is hardly combed.
  • 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.
  • Morality Pet: Latka is often this for Louie.
  • 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.
    • And Danny De Vito is forced to be He Who Must Not Be Seen as he played another role in the film.
    • Tony Danza doesn't appear in the film either due to not getting along with Kaufman.
    • Some time ago, DeVito said his intentions to make a movie adaptation.
  • Mr. Imagination: Latka and Jim (though he sees himself as a "down-to-earth" man).
  • Mushroom Samba: Latka sees Famous Amos when trying to recover from cookies his grandmother sent him that turned out to have coca leaves (the basis for cocaine).

    Tropes N To S 
  • Naïve Newcomer: John Burns in Season 1.
    • Elaine, sort of, in the pilot episode.
  • The Napoleon: Louie.
  • 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.
  • Nice Guy: Jim, Latka, and John.
  • No Bisexuals: Averted: Elaine dates a man who is more interested in Tony then her, unfortunately, but the episode makes very clear he's Bi, not gay.
  • No Indoor Voice: Louie enjoys to use the microphone he has on his cage.
  • 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.
  • Noodle Incident: Tony's years at Vietnam.
    • Once Simka told Louie that he wouldn't be welcome anymore in the Gravas residence, but she doesn't give a clear explanation.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Becomes a Running Gag in "Alex Tastes Death and Finds A Nice Restaurant" after Alex gets shot in one of his ears
  • 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".
  • One-Word Title
  • Only Sane Man: Alex.
  • 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.
  • Overly Long Gag: Jim's famous "What does a yellow light mean".
  • 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. Actually an aversion, as Pac-Man had debuted only 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.
  • The Pollyanna: Played for Laughs with Latka, who maintains this attitude despite growing up in his miserable homeland.
  • Precious Puppies: The focus of two Very Special Episodes: The subplot of "Bobby's Acting Career" involved Alex stealing a dog from his abusive owner, while "Alex's Old Buddy" centered on Alex and his old dying dog.
  • Pretty in Mink: The characters would pick up a few rich ladies as customers.
  • Private Detective: Mr. Caldwell hired one to find Jim.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Christopher Lloyd (Season 2), Carol Kane (Season 5).
  • 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.
  • The Quiet One:
    • Jeff (not counting when he was a Living Prop)
    • Latka was often this early on.
  • 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".
    • Then there's Latka; see Split Personality below.
  • Sarcastic Confession: In "Crime and Punishment", after the boss not only doesn't believe Louie's confession, but laughs hysterically at it, he decides to invite Louie to play golf with him, at which Louie sarcastically confesses that he cheats at the score.
  • 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 provisional series finales just in case the show wasn't picked up for renewal. (The season 2 two-parter "Fantasy Borough" could probably be considered one of these, as well.) Ironically, the show actually ended with a relatively normal episode.
  • The Seventies
  • Shaggy Dog Story: "Crime And Punishment", centering on Jeff being arrested after Louie accuses him of stealing car parts which Louie had stolen himself.
  • Shout-Out: Louie references Phil Donahue in a few episodes.
    • The Bee Gees were mentioned in a couple of occasions.
    • I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners were the most popular shows in Latka's homeland when he left for America. Also doubles as Parental Bonus.
    • The 1981 noir movie Body Heat gets mentioned by Louie in "Simka Returns".
    • "A Yoda puppet .... For a beautiful lady."
    • In one episode Jim insists The Science Fiction Movie hating Alex to see ET The Extra Terrestrial which came out that year. Christopher Lloyd wore an E.T. Button on Jim's Jacket as well.
    • Alex once said that his dog complained that there were too many commercials during Late Night with David Letterman.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: Alex's general pessimism abouth things is often frowned upon, being also a plot point in "Nina Loves Alex".
  • Silly Rabbit, Romance Is for Kids!: Louie considers himself the only person alive that knows the true meaning of love: "Love is the end of happiness!".
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: In her re-encounter with Latka, Simka tells she was "used and thrown away like and old shoe" when referring to the relationships she had after the events of "Guess Who's Coming For Brefnish".
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Louie and Stanley, his high school's Jerk Jock and his main abuser. However Bobby (disguised as Louie) gets a hold of him by dancing with the class' Alpha Bitch (and implied ex-wife of Stanley, as he promptly ran off sobbing after seeing them).
  • Sitcom Character Archetypes
    • Alex: Square and Sage
    • Louie: Bully
    • Latka, Jim, and Tony: Goofball
    • Bobby: Charmer
  • 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.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Elaine, at least until Simka became a semi-regular.
  • Speaking Simlish: Latka.
  • 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").
  • Stock Footage: Most of the interstitials were filmed in 1978, however between then and when the show ended in 1983, New York changed very little.
  • Straight Man: Alex fits this trope to a T.
  • Straw Critic: Bobby tangles with one in "Bobby and the Critic".
  • Straw Loser: Tony. In fact, Louie has built his whole living room by betting against him, to the extreme of pointing out what he bought with the money he won from which fight he bet on.
    • Inverted in the same episode ("The Reluctant Fighter"), when Tony actually wins, shattering Louie's wishes of having a 23-inch color TV.
  • Studio Audience
  • 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.

    Tropes T To Z 
  • Take Our Word for It: Louie's cage was a frequent source of lampshading.
  • The Taxi
  • That's All, Folks!/ Vanity Plate: "Good night, Mr. Walters!" [grumbles]
  • Throw It In: While going through his dead father's possessions, Jim places his Dad's coat over the back of a recliner chair. After a few seconds this caused the chair to open up into the reclining position almost as if his Dad was sitting in it. According to Christopher Lloyd this was completely an accident and his shocked reaction is genuine.
  • Token Minority: Jeff.
  • 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).
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Alex and Louie. Subverted with Louie and Jim in the final season.
  • Wacky Guy: Jim and Latka.
  • Waiting for a Break: Bobby, the aspiring actor who spends the series driving a cab while waiting to get a Star-Making Role.
    • Most of the cabbies except Alex claim that they're only driving to support themselves until they get a break in their dream jobs (boxing, art).
  • Welcome Episode: Although Alex is the closest thing the show has to a central character, the first episode is Elaine's first day at the company.
  • Wham Episode: "Coming Home" revealed that Jim comes from a wealthy family from Boston.
  • Wham Line: "Could I please just say one word in my defense? SELTZER!" ("Jim's Mario's")
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Tony gets to adopt Brian after he initially chose a wealthy couple, but it's never seen thereafter.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Memories of Cab 804", "On the Job", "The Road Not Taken"
  • Who's on First?: "What does a yellow light mean?"
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Latka.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Latka's dialect.
  • White and Grey Morality: Sort of, while Jim, Latka and John are some of the most naive guys in the taxi business, most of the antagonists (specially Louie) are just amoral and not genuinely evil.
  • Women Are Wiser: Simka often stood up to Louie for Latka
    • Elaine to Alex in regards to his gambling addiction.
  • Work Com
  • Younger than They Look: Louie looked like he was in his early forties (he graduated from high school around 1959) though Danny DeVito was some ten years younger, even if he inverts this nowadays.
  • You're Not My Father: Subverted with Cathy telling it to Alex, her natural father.


"Goodnight, Mr. Walters!"
-(grumbles)


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