"I got screwed by the system. I'm always gettin' screwed by the system. That's my role in life: I'm the system's bitch"!
A Dilbert-esque look at office life, about a nice but overweight, unattractive man with a low-paying dead-end job as the Assistant Director of Personnel of the Winfred Louder department store (there is no Director of Personnel).He is the perpetual everyman who can never seem to get ahead in life. Bad things never stop happening to him. He still hangs out with his friends from high school, Lewis, Oswald and Kate (who started as purely platonic friends with Drew only to become his later love interest). Also, his dog is crippled.As part of his job he has to deal with his Bad Boss, Mr. Wick, and his own perpetually conniving secretary, Mimi, both of whom hate Drew's guts just because he's there. And that is all on top of general office bureaucracy.The series would go on to become sillier and cartoonish as it went on, due to having more creative freedom due to being uncancellable for a time. Later seasons would have Mimi and Drew engaged in prank wars that escalated to the point where Mimi drugged Drew and dropped him off at the Great Wall of China. Several episodes were made littered with intentional mistakes pointed out to the audience, which they could tally for a contest (which were often random, over-the-top sight gags, ranging from hairstyle changes, actor changes, characters being replaced by sock puppets, and an entire scene being done in Machinima using The Sims). Other notable silliness includes an episode done mostly in improv (to spoof Drew Carey's role as host of Whose Line Is It Anyway?), and an episode where Oswald and Lewis are treated by a dentist who is a very over-the-top Dr. Frankenstein parody.Drew and Ryan Stiles (Lewis) became fixtures for Whose Line Is It Anyway? that also featured several other cast members briefly.Sort of a Work Com, but one which focuses on a single character rather than an ensemble.
Berserk Button - Drew Carey stated that the Friends theme song became this for him in real life. He had nothing against the show itself, or any of the actors, but hated his show being called a "Friends clone" just because it was a sitcom about someone who had friends. (And then ABC went and put his other show right up against Friends.)
In 1997, ABC forced a crossover stunt on Drew and the other Wednesday night sitcoms - Coach, Ellen and Grace Under Fire. Titled "Viva Las Vegas," the idea was that characters from the four shows would be in Las Vegas for different reasons and encounter each other. Only a couple characters from each series did this, however, and they amounted to cameos at best. This series' contribution was "Drew Gets Married." Notably, Drew himself was the only one to appear in every show that night.
Disproportionate Retribution: Mimi constantly, starting all way back to the pilot episode where she lashes out at Drew for assuming he wasn't going to hire her based on her looks when all he did was tell her they would get back with her.
Mr. Wick: Mimi, I may be power-mad, I may be a corporate weasel, I may even be a sleaze-bag, but I am first and foremost a mama's boy, and you NEVER EVER insult the mama of a mama's boy! I'll see you in Hell Mimi Bobeck! YOU'LL KNOW ME! I'LL BE THE ONE STANDING THERE! WITH! MY!! MOMMY!!!
Flanderization: Drew remained the everyman, but Oswald's stupidity, Lewis' oddness and Kate's promiscuity were ramped up. Mimi's make-up was just overdone and her clothing just poor fashion, later she practically wears clown make-up and aims to wear the most gawdy outfits imaginable.
While always a Bad Boss, Wick became more exaggerated and wacky as the seasons went by. During the Emmy Bait episode, Mimi points out that Wick is essentially a cartoon character.
In one of the April Fool's episodes, during a Hee Haw reference, he uses his real accent to do a "SAAAALUTE!" to his home town.
Formerly Fat: Drew's girlfriend Nikki Fifer. One of the reasons that she broke up with Drew was that being with him was causing her to start putting on weight again.
Fur and Loathing - An activist vandalized the store after pretending to be a buyer in order to get Drew to bring the fur coats within arm's reach. The manager of the fashion department was on a First Name Basis with her.
Furry Fandom - A girl Drew dates in one episode turns out to be a furry.
Gag Penis - During "Dog and Pony Show", one of Drew's coworkers turned out to have one, as displayed behind the counter.
Drew:(drains his beer) You think you'd be more popular...
Going to See the Elephant: In one episode, Drew and his friends visit Hershey, Pennsylvania just because they can smell the chocolate from the highway.
Groin Attack: Mr. Wick is shot in the crotch with a crossbow at one point, and has to have one of his testicles removed.
Hello, Nurse!: Oswald's mom was explicitly this for his friends when they were younger, and when she makes an appearance she is played by Adrienne Barbeau.
Diedrich Bader and Adrienne Barbeau also did the voices of Batman and Catwoman, though it was in two different series.
I Am One of Those Too: During the improv episode, Oswald is pretending to be German while talking to a bartender to see if she cheats him. She immediately says she was born in Germany and starts talking to him in German. He then says he is actually from a small town France called Germany. She then says she went to school in France for several years and starts speaking French.
Irony: Drew finally managed to get Mimi fired by convincing Mr. Wick to put her into a cubicle, which she refused to do. Later her and Drew's brother put their camper in his backyard and Drew discovered she was claustrophobic, which is a medical condition that would release her from the circumstances of why she was fired. When he learned that he went crazy over the moral obligation and getting her out of his backyard vs. not having to deal with her at work.
Jerkass: On Lewis, Ryan Stiles has said that he's "less of a character and more a jerk".
Mimi as well. This trope describes practically her entire character, although she certainly has her share of Pet the Dog moments.
Karma Houdini: Mimi has got away with a number of things including sending Drew to China. When he returned, he burned her desk down to its frame. She was very scared by his subsequent threats of retribution.
The one time he acted officially to get her fired for a prank that embarrassed him and the company, it turned out Kate was responsible.
Never My Fault: Nikki breaks up with Drew because she blames him for her weight gain, saying she went from Formerly Fat to just plain fat by being around someone "who loves to eat." It didn't occur to her that Drew didn't exactly force her to eat any food, nor did his weight balloon out of control during this period.
Nothing but Skin and Bones: Subverted in an episode. Drew is on a hunger strike and when Mr. Wick comes to see him at home, Wick finds Drew lying on the couch due to lack of energy and is now extremely skinny. But it turns out that Drew knew Wick was coming over and he got an assist from a pizza delivery man who is naturally extremely skinny. The pizza guy is willing to help because Drew on a hunger strike is costing him business. They lay on the couch together, covered by a blanket, arranged in a way that it looks like Drew's head is on the other guy's body.
Out-of-Character Alert: Mimi was nice around Drew when her baby was born, but since she treated Drew normally while pregnant, the baby thought she was someone else when acting nice.
Out of Order: ABC aired most of the episodes in the final season badly out of production order, causing confusion with the story lines, though TBS aired the episodes in the correct order.
Parachute in a Tree: Tim Allen (As Himself) gets stuck in the tree in Drew's back yard after a failed parachute publicity stunt. Drew doesn't cut him down since the idea of having a celebrity stuck in your tree is funnier than letting him leave.
Parody Assistance: When the producers were going to do an episode making fun of sci-fi conventions and the fans who go to them in costume, they wanted to have a couple of characters dress up as aliens from Babylon 5. The creators of B5 agreed... and sent their own makeup people to do the alien makeup effects.
Really Gets Around: In high school Kate was so promiscuous that she was nicknamed "Give It Away Kate."
Recursive Crossdressing: Parodied in "Drew's Inheritance," which centered on the wacky hijinx resulting from the will of the Careys' late eccentric television-and-movies-obsessed Uncle Cecil. Each potential recipient had to fulfill a condition somehow relating to a favored movie. His condition for Steve Carey was to dress like a woman pretending to be a man. Generally a , Steve wore a suit for the will reading and remarks that he's already fulfilled the condition. The executor comments that Uncle Cecil didn't think that one through very far.
Re Tool: When Drew finally leaves abusive corporation Winfred Lauder for an incompetent Internet startup.
The show also had a number of "theme episodes", or just simple seemingly out-of-place moments (such as a sudden musical number to resolve the serious A-plot), that would have some off-kilter take on things; this was due to Drew Carey having cannily signed a contract to produce the show for a set number of seasons and that protected it from a large amount of Executive Meddling, allowing him to do whatever the hell he wanted to a certain extent. It became infamous enough for these episodes that Weird Al even mentioned it in his song about TV:
"-and a special all-Pig Latin episode of Drew Carey!"
For a time during the middle seasons this was considered to be the charm of the show, as there literally was nothing else like it on American television.
Speaking Simlish: Seen Here Upon the show opening the characters speak in "blah, blah" form with a talk bubble showing the meaning. (Drew Carey has a cameo appearance in the original Sims game)
Too Dumb to Live - Oswald. A total exaggeration of the typical sitcom dumb friend.
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife - Used straight and subverted countless times—Drew's hooked up with Wanda Sykes and an aged Mrs Partridge, but has also slept with characters played by Jenny McCarthy, Christa Miller, and more. Unusual for the trope, it's made clear that Drew dates mostly on the basis of an actual relationship and not simply looks. In a High School Reunion episode, the (still attractive) cheerleader who used to mock him was suddenly attracted to him because he was a respectable guy with a steady job. And some would say Sykes and Mrs Partridge are still hot. In the literal sense, he ends the series married to CynthiaWatros.
Vitriolic Best Buds - Later seasons showed that Drew and Mimi really know each other better than any of their friends and by the last season they basically admitted it to each other. Mimi even became family by marrying his brother and in the last season when his brother was caught having an affair, Drew took Mimi's side.
There's even an episode where they randomly meet on an anonymized Internet chat site and start to develop an online romance (neither is involved with anyone at the time). When Drew figures it out, he is somewhat traumatized.
The Voice - Drew's first boss, until he was fired and finally appeared after cleaning out his desk.
The Worst Seat in the House: Drew, Oswald and Lewis were all going after the same girl. Drew and Oswald each got tickets for a concert. Drew's were "obstructed view" but he managed to convince Oswald that that was better and traded tickets with him.
You Can Leave Your Hat On - On one episode, parodying The Full Monty, Drew and the boys form a strip act in order to earn enough money to replace a prize-winning breeding dog they accidentally had neutered.