Series / The Goldbergs

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Like your family was so cool in the 80s.
"When it comes to my childhood, I may not always remember exactly when something happened or exactly who was there. But I do know that it was nineteen eighty-something and it...was...awesome. "
Adam Goldberg

The Goldbergs is an American period sitcom on ABC. The first episode premiered on September 24, 2013 to a viewing audience of 8.94 million viewers. The show revolves around the life of 12-year-old Adam Goldberg and his family during the 1980s. He regularly has to deal with his older sister Erica, older brother and middle child Barry, as well as his parents Beverly and Murray. His maternal grandfather "Pops" is also a member of the main cast. The show features a mix of traditional camerawork as well as "home footage" taken from Adam's camera.

Not to be confused with the old time radio/sitcom The Goldbergs from the early 50s. Or maybe not...


The show provides the following tropes:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Adam's gym teacher, Mr. Mellor, keeps calling him Goldfarb, even when his name's written on the gym shirt. It's only until Adam does one pull-up on the fitness test that the gym teacher calls him Goldberg. This becomes a Running Gag as time goes on. Every so often the main conflict of the show is Adam vs. Mellor. Once Adam masters the particular skill Mr. Mellor wants him to, he calls Adam by his real name.
    • Happens with Pop-Pop calling Adam "Barry".
  • Adorkable: Adam and Barry. Flashbacks show that Erica used to be this.
    Adam Goldberg: "I was so excited for my dad to get home I could barely enjoy my algebra homework."
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents:
    • Beverly, of course. Murray also has his moments.
    • Pops still can embarrass his daughter, Beverly.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: The family is named Goldberg, and a lot of stereotypical Jewish slang is used, but it's never a plot point.
    • The family are not troubled by kosher law—Beverley prides herself on shellfish and they practically lived in their local Chinese restaurant where Barry had a dish, containing an excess of pork, named after him. On the other hand, this isn't particularly indicative—a lot of Jews in the 1980s (as today!) were not only Reform, but more or less completely non-religious, and eat pork regularly.
    • In one episode where Adam and Dana have to take care of a Cabbage Patch Kid for health class, Beverly butts in trying to be the best bubbie, or grandmother.
    • Erica wants her stage name to be "Riki Gold" because "Goldberg is ... you know."
    • "A Christmas Story" confirms that the Goldbergs celebrate Hanukkah.
    • In the episode "Tasty Boys", Barry and Adam mention that the members of the Beastie Boys are fellow "members of the tribe".
    • In "The Dirty Dancing Dance", Murray mentions that he stepped on a glass at his wedding.
  • Anachronism Stew/Comic-Book Time: The show refuses to say specific years, as each episode begins with present-day Adam saying the date followed by "1980-something".
    • The exact year is deliberately left ambiguous. For instance in one episode Adam and Pops are wearing Ghostbusters costumes, which would put the time 1985 or later. But in another episode Murray is watching the Phillies in the World Series which would put it in either 1980 or 1983. Yet everyone is the exact same age.
    • The pop culture (obsession with The Karate Kid, for example) would place it around 1984-1986, yet Barry wanted "pump" running shoes, which weren't introduced until 1989.
    • And then an episode takes place with the theatrical debut of Return of the Jedi as a plot point, which was released in 1983.note 
    • Staying with movies, one episode involves Adam wanting to see Poltergeist while Beverly suggests The Great Mouse Detective; they came out in 1982 and 1986 respectively. To be fair, Adam said Poltergeist was playing in the dollar theater, so it was probably a re-release.
    • Another episode takes place on Adam's birthday, showing Murray Goldberg and Pops watching Geraldo Rivera "Al Capone's Vault" special. The special aired April 21, 1986.
    • The Thanksgiving episode features Uncle Marvin buying a DeLorean. Early on, Adam asks Marvin if it can travel through time, an obvious nod to Back to the Future; but later on Pops hears news reports on the arrest of John DeLorean for drug trafficking. That happened in October 1982, three years before Back to the Future premiered.
    • One episode involves the Mondale-Reagan presidential election of 1984. This same episode also mentions America's Funniest Home Videos, the premiere special of which aired in 1989,note  and American Gladiators, which also premiered in '89.
    • However, the most egregious example would come from "The Adam Bomb", which has the fall of the Berlin Wall (which occurred, albeit in 1989, in November) take place in April.
      • Likewise, the Ferris Bueller's Day Off episode, which has homecoming take place in April. The Homecoming game is the first game a football team plays at their home school, as opposed to away. By April, football season is over.
    • The usual "April Nineteen Eighty-Something" date isn't given in Season 3's "A Kick-Ass Risky Business Party." However, Martika's "Toy Soldiers" plays as a running theme throughout the episode, and it was released in January of 1989. The ending shows Adam and Dana watching Halley's Comet, which last appeared Feb. 9, 1986.
    • Lampshaded in an episode that shows the Times Square New Year's Eve ball dropping on TV. Right as the year is being shown, Barry stands in front of the screen, blocking the final digit.
    • The closest any character comes to explicitly mentioning the year is in the episode "Wingmom". During a conversation with Adam, Erica tells him that Pops is 80 years old, and that he was born in 1903...you do the math.( Word of God is that this exchange was worded very carefully however, so as to leave open the possibility that it was an exaggeration.)
  • Angry Dance: In "The Dirty Dancing Dance", Barry encourages Erica to do one like on Footloose, and demonstrates by doing the warehouse dance in the school gym.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling:
    • Barry and Erica sometimes see Adam as this.
    • And Erica sees Barry as such, too.
    • Murray's younger brother is this.
  • April Fools' Plot: "The Adam Bomb", in which an Escalating War against the Goldberg brothers gets out of hand.
  • As Himself: "Weird Al" Yankovic appears as himself in the episode "Weird Al."
  • Bad Liar: Barry couldn't lie his way out of a wet paper bag to save his life.
  • Band Geek: Johnny Atkins is this.
  • Batman Gambit: Adam gets Murray to buy him a fencing sword by taking up the fencing team. All so he can have a prop for his Princess Bride scenes.
    • One episode has Barry and his friends get Adam to try and hack the school computer to change their grades. Adam doesn't know how, so he tricks them into actually studying for the history test.
    • Happens again on "In Conclusion, Thanksgiving" when Adam finds out that Murray gets teary-eyed listening to "Cat's in the Cradle," using it to get a new lens for his camera. Beverly finds out and uses it to have Murray invite Pop-Pop over for Thanksgiving.
  • Big Brother Bully: Barry has been shown to be this to Adam, but lets him take off his glasses first and never actually hurts him. He goes full throttle in "For Your Own Good" when Adam asks him to be his bodyguard on the school bus and Barry becomes the new bully instead.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Barry's advice to Adam is...usually not very good.
  • Bilingual Backfire: In 'The President's Fitness Test,' Erica has a French exchange student over. Barry has Erica translate pick-up lines for him, only for her to mess around with it. Eventually, Pops can't stand it and tells Barry what he's been saying, much to both his and Erica's surprise.
  • Brick Joke: In the pilot, Beverly tells the cop who arrests Pops and the boys "Memorize this face. it will haunt your dreams!" The same cop later appears several times throughout the series, always frightened and/or annoyed when Beverly arrives.
    • In the episode Cowboy Country, while Bill and Murray argue about which football team is the best, Barry sais "Can't we all agree the Giants suck?" In the later episode Bill/Murray, after Barry and Lainey were kissing in the broom closet, Bill and Murray have to visit principal Ball. Ball reveals he is a fan of the giants, to which Bill and Murray start laughing, saying that they suck. This starts their friendship.
  • Brutal Honesty: Murray is blunt about the truth, especially when it comes to Barry being a moron.
  • Butt Monkey: Barry is shown to be this at times, sometimes at his own doing.
    • Adam is just as likely to get his own moments as well.
  • Calling Me a Logarithm: Adam is confused when Beverly mashes up Nintendo and Atari to make Nintardo.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Barry does this when performing his version of "kara-te". Lampshaded by Adam:
    Adam: "You know, I was thinking, it might be better if you didn't call out your moves first."
  • Calvinball: Ball-Ball, in "Stop Arguing and Start Thanking" and "A Christmas Story".
  • Celebrity Lie: When Beverly becomes regional manager for Hands Across America, she claims that she got Scott Baio to come to convince Barry and Erica to take part. When she can't, she claims to have gotten a bigger celebrity - a Benjamin Franklin impersonator.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Charlie Sheen shows up in the Ferris Bueller's Day Off parody episode reprising his role from the film. A funny cameo, but logically confusing considering that the movie exists as fiction in the show and the characters have seen it.
    • According to Word of God , the show's creators take this trope into consideration whenever they cast a big-name actor to appear as a character.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Murray takes off his pants as soon as he gets home and lounges around in his shirt and briefs.
  • Continuity Nod:A brief reference to Erica's fake ID from "Love is a mix Tape" occurs in "Lucky"
  • Cool Old Guy: Pops, of course.
  • Coordinated Clothes: In "Couple Costumes", Adam and Dana dress as the alien and Ripley from Alien, respectively, for Halloween. It is also revealed that Beverly always dressed to match Adam's costume against his wishes; this year she went as the Predator, using the Alien vs. Predator comic book as an excuse. (Adam chose Alien thinking it was mom-proof.)
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In-universe and in real life, this was pretty much what the 1984 Presidential Election was for Erica, with Walter Mondale winning only one state.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Or in Adam's case, broke his arm dancing to George Michael on camera.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Pops has his lapses in judgment, but the man is a World War II veteran.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Barry is this to Lainey after her father forbids her from dating him after her father, a Dallas Cowboys fan, is insulted by Barry and Murry, who are diehard Philadelphia Eagles fans.
    • One episode has Erica dating Johnny Atkins who really irks Murray.
  • Dawson Casting: In Season 1, we already have 20-year-old Troy Gentile and 19-year-old Hayley Orrantia as high school-aged Barry and Erica, with Erica ironically being the older sibling in-universe. In Season 2, we now have 21-year-old Gentile and 20-year-old Orrantia. And now it's been renewed for a third season...
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: In the talent show episode Christmas decorations are on display in the school gym, but no mention is ever made of it, and it has no bearing on the plot. Also, there are no decorations at the Goldberg's house. (See Ambiguously Jewish above.)
    • Also occurs in "The Most Handsome Boy on the Planet"
  • The Ditz: Barry.
  • The Dreaded: Beverly's got this reputation at her kids' school.
  • Dreadful Musician : Adam gets the lead in the school play, despite his cracking voice. He does, however, have enthusiastic dance moves.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The show originally featured a lot of "found footage" taken from Adam's compulsive camerawork which is something the real Adam did a lot (this is where the footage at the ends of episodes comes from). However this was abandoned towards the end of the first season and the real aspects are usually before the credits.
    • The first episode had Pops cause a car crash due to the implied start of Alzheimer's disease. This aspect of the character was severely toned down and he became more of a typical Cool Old Guy.
    • In the pilot, Murray has a heart condition that forces him to stop yelling and take deep breaths whenever he gets too mad. After that episode it is never mentioned again.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Pops.
    • Anytime Barry tried to teach Adam about being a man.
  • Egg Sitting: Done with Cabbage Patch Kids dolls in "Happy Mom, Happy Life".
  • The '80s
  • '80s Hair: Beverly.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: In "The Adam Bomb," Barry plasters one of these all over Adam's room. The real one is shown in the credits of the episode.
  • Everyone Is Christian At Christmas: To show up the Kremps, Beverly turns Hanukkah into "Super Hanukkah", which basically turns it into Christmas. Pops is not too happy about it.
  • Exact Words: In one episode, Beverly promises to Principal Ball she won't show up at the school to talk with him about anything. She later shows up outside his kitchen while he's eating dinner with his family.
  • Fan Dumb: In-Universe, Murray is the Chicken Little version of this trope when it comes to his favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles. He considers the season over on the first play of the first game.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling:
    • Erica is the most responsible of the Goldberg children, usually having to help Barry or Adam out of trouble.
    • Adam can be either foolish or responsible. When dealing with Erica, he's usually the fool; when dealing with Barry he's usually responsible.
    • Barry is the least responsible of the children. He's the most likely to get into trouble and need help from the others.
    • Also shown in the Thanksgiving episodes is Murray being the responsible to his younger brother Marvin's foolish.
  • Frozen in Time: "It was mid-April, 19-eighty-something...'' The show purposely plays loose with the timeline in order to cram in as many '80s references as possible and to keep the family in a specific era as long as possible.
  • Gender Flip: Erica. The real Adam Goldberg has two older brothers, Eric and Barry.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Barry claims to have one of these that he met in summer camp. The rest of the family mocks him mercilessly, and Erica notes that she was at camp with him but never saw his supposed girlfriend.
  • Girly Run: Barry. One has to see it; a description does not do it justice.
  • Go to Your Room: Adam apes Andrew Dice Clay and his telling of Old Mother Hubbard to Pops. Pops doesn't like the punchline and tells Adam to go to his room!
  • Grumpy Old Man: Pop-Pop (Murray's father) is this.
  • Guilty Pleasures : Probably lots, but The New Kids On The Block are referred to as this.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Played with. Barry and his friends want Adam to hack the school to get them good grades. Adam has no idea how to do any computer hacking, so he does the next best thing: hack their brains by tricking them into actually studying for their history test!
  • Humiliation Conga: In "The Kremps," Barry finds a recording of a phone conversation between Erica and a friend, in which she talks about wanting to get together with the new neighbors' eldest sonnote . When Erica tries to grab the answering machine, both siblings fight for it and accidentally send it flying onto the floor, resulting in another part of the call playing in front of Erica's crush. Barry and Erica start fighting, while Beverly tries to break them up, she sees that Murray has fallen asleep, leading to a bleeped Precision F-Strike that results in an Oh Crap! expression from Beverly as everyone looks in shock.
    Beverly: Murray, wake the f**k up.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: The second season finale, "Goldbergs Feel Hard" is all about this. Barry warns Adam about saying it to Dana, but then says it to Lainey and gets upset when she doesn't say it back. Adam, meanwhile, tries to retrieve a love letter she left Dana. All the while, Beverly pressures Murray into telling Erica he loves her, then gets upset when Erica doesn't say it back.
  • In Another Man's Shoes: In "Dance Party USA", Erica returns to her former nerdy look after getting Barry's pink eye and accidentally breaking her teeth. This leads her to be treated as a loser, making her realize that is how her brother is treated every day.
  • It's Always Spring/California Doubling: Some episodes are explicitly dated to wintertime, but except for the third-season episode "A Christmas Story" there is never any snow on the ground, the leaves are always out on the trees, and the characters never wear heavy coats. This is in suburban Philadelphia.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: A lot of Pops' humor in "The Darryl Dawkins Dance" comes from the fact that he's irritated that his grandson won't hit him with a car. What happened was that in this episode, Adam saw Transformers: The Movie, in which Optimus dies, prompting him to make a fan movie to right that wrong, in which Pops played Optimus Prime. Before he got to that, Murray gave Adam a brief death talk, saying that Adam shouldn't worry about dying until he's an old man, which caused Adam to begin worrying about Pops dying. So when Adam and Pops got to filming later, Adam changed the script so that Pops wouldn't have to get hit by a car, a script change that made Pops mad. The rest of the episode has jokes based around the absurdity of a man mad that his grandson won't run him over with a car.
  • Jewish American Princess: Erica. She can get very demanding and imperious.
  • Jewish Mother: Beverly. Definitely Beverly.
  • Kavorka Man: Albert.
  • Kicking My Own Butt: Barry when he confronts the Meadowbrook Mafia in "Just Say No".
  • Line-of-Sight Name : Shrimpson.
  • Love Letter Lunacy: Adam in "Goldbergs Feel Hard" tries to retrieve the letter he left Dana in her locker.
  • Mama Bear: In Couples Costume, Beverly, in a Predator costume, helps Adam look for his Green Lantern ring in a haunted house while not only fending off the monsters (Frat boys in costume), pulling Erica off a makeout session, and carrying Barry in her arms after he sprained his ankle.
  • Meddling Parents: Beverly, naturally.
  • The Movie Buff: Adam.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Erica, full stop, in "Who Are You Going to Telephone?" The odd part is that she was dressed as Jane Goodall for her Halloween costume, though Goodall never bared any midriff. In fact, if her shirt was plaid and the shorts were denim, she would have been more believable as Daisy Duke.
  • My Beloved Smother:
    • Beverly again. Hell, Narrator!Adam even calls her that.
    • Betsy Rubenstone
  • My Friends And David Kim
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Adam wins his fencing match in the episode, "As You Wish" by quoting that line repeatedly.
  • Mythology Gag: In "Baio and Switch" the Ben Franklin impersonator references something happening in the year "seventeen eighty-something"
    • In "Double Dare", Dave Kim remarks that Adam's voice is unfit to ever be on television. This joke contains multiple levels of Fridge Brilliance.
  • Nerd: Adam, full stop.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The early advertisements made it out to be a wacky 80's period piece full of pop culture a la "That 70's Show." The 80's are really just background. It's really a character driven comedy about the family. In fact it could easily be updated to modern times and you could have the exact same show.
    • Averted after the second season when the show became much more pop-culture oriented with almost every episode being built around a show, movie or celebrity from the '80s.
  • No Indoor Voice:, as opposed to the Kremps.
  • Not So Above It All: Barry makes fun of Adam and his nerd friends for playing Dungeons & Dragons, but he has his own character sheet made up and has memorized the rules...just in case they ever ask him to play.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: Adam narrates every episode, and the entire premise of the show—and much of its humor—depends on nostalgia and the awkward naïveté of Adam's adolescence.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Adam's best friend Emmy. Her introduction episode had a classic She's Not My Girlfriend setup but it ends with the two reaffirming that they just want to be friends. The stinger during the credits confirmed that they did indeed only remain friends.
  • The Obi-Wan: Pops dispenses wisdom to everyone from time-to-time, but mostly Adam.
  • Oh Crap!: Whenever something's that kind of moment, Adam screams out "Oh balls!"
  • Once a Season: So far, every season has featured one episode that parodies a classic 1980's movie...Goonies, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Risky Business, respectively.
    • Also once a season is an appearance by Uncle Marvin during Thanksgiving.
  • Once per Episode: This is about how often characters swearing gets bleeped out.
  • One of Us: Adam and Dave Kim. Also Erica, though she desperately hopes nobody finds out.
  • Piss-Take Rap: Barry "Big Tasty" Goldberg's specialty.
  • Planning with Props: Adam uses his action figures to plan for his Two-Timer Date in "Baio and Switch". He's Leonardo, Dana is Princess Leia, Emmy is The Incredible Hulk and David Kim is a Transformer.
  • Precious Puppy: Season 3 introduces Lucky, a dog that the actual Goldbergs had in the 80s.
  • Precision F-Strike: Delivered, and bleeped, nearly Once an Episode. Usually it's from Beverly, but nearly everyone has gotten into the act.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: AJ Michalka (Lainey Lewis) is promoted to series regular in Season 3, after having more or less acting as a Fake Guest Star for most of Season 2.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: In 'A Wrestler Named Goldberg,' Murray has to break it to Barry that it's not real, even when he's coming up with a finisher and backstory.
  • Real Person Cameo: Creator Adam Goldberg based the bus bully in "For Your Own Good" on We're the Millers producer JC Spink who used to bully Goldberg when they were kids. Spink cameos in the episode as the school bus driver.
  • Retcon: The first Halloween episode plot deals with Adam breaking his childhood tradition of trick-or-treating with Pops. In season 3's Halloween show, this is ignored and it is instead shown via flashbacks that Adam had always (reluctantly) trick-or-treated with Beverly.
    • A line in "I Rode a Hoverboard" reveals that Lainey's father is a crooked lawyer. In later episodes he is shown to be a tile salesman.
  • "Risky Business" Dance: Barry tries to do it in "A Kick-ass Risky Business Party", but he keeps slipping and running into things, while Beverly warns him against "Tom Cruising" all over the house. Later Beverly herself does the dance (fully-clothed) to embarrass the other kids and break up the Wild Teen Party.
  • Rousing Speech: Barry gives one (with a tip of the cap to Election) in "The Other Smother" to get elected class treasurer. It's basically a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about moms who interfere in their children's lives, and even his opponent gives him a standing ovation.
  • Running Gag: Whenever Beverly goes to complain to someone, she starts out by saying "thank you for agreeing to meet with me on such short notice," which is followed by the other person pointing out that she just barged in at an inopportune moment against their will.
    • The Goldbergs blowing through the stop sign at the end of their street.
    • Pops gives advice, which is then either ignored, misinterpreted, or taken way too literally.
  • Safety Worst: Bev is like this towards Adam, her youngest.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Until the ninth grade, Erica had to wear Nerd Glasses and braces, and had stringy hair. Now she's among the hottest girls in school.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: When Beverly loses the Cabbage Patch Kids doll for Adam's Egg Sitting assignment, she buys one from a man selling toys off the back of his car. It ends up being a "Lettuce Crop Kid" with an ugly, badly designed face.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Beverly to Betsy Rubenstone.
    • And now we can add Mrs. Kim to that list.
  • Skewed Priorities: In "Couples Costume", Adam runs to Beverly and tells her that Barry broke one of his bones in a haunted house and that he can't move, which worries her a bit. But when he says that Erica hooked back up with a frat boy that she dated, she borrows the Huang family's catchphrase: "Oh, HELL no!"
  • The Smurfette Principle: Adam F. Goldberg's real-life brother Eric was changed into a sister named Erica. Word of God says this was to show some of the trends and fads that were issues for teenaged girls in the '80s, since they already had one teenage boy and one junior high boy in the cast.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Adam's bully JC Spink was originally played by child actor Cooper Roth in the first season and then replaced by teen actor Zayne Emory for the second season when the writers needed to show that JC had physically matured faster than late-bloomer Adam.
  • Spiritual Successor : Arguably, with The Wonder Years.
  • Stage Mom: In "The Adam Bomb", Beverly wants to be Erica's "momager".
  • Stunned Silence: Adam goes into this when watching The Transformers: The Movie as many of his childhood icons die.
  • Sound Effect Bleep: Usually, at least once an episode, a character will be muted by the classic "bleep" when they swear.
  • Technology Marches On: invoked A source of some of the show's humour. "I Drank the Mold" features Erica and Barry trying to get their dad to buy them a CD player ($900 plus tax, if anyone remembers the early-runner prices for gadgets), with Barry even claiming that there will never be anything more advanced. At the end, they also have a run-in with a Discman, which was famous for skips. Adam's boxy video camcorder counts as well.
  • That Nostalgia Show
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Barry in "The Adam Bomb".
    Barry: I feel anger!
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: In "12 Tapes For A Penny", after Adam scams Columbia House to get loads of music tapes on the cheap, Beverly blames Erica, even after Adam confesses to it. Erica then decides that if her mom is going to blame her for everything, she's going to do show how bad she can be.
  • The Unsmile: In "Weird Al," Barry and Erica try to help Murry with depression, even asking him to smile. When he does so, they're horrified by it!
  • They Really Do Love Each Other: Murray and Bev have a heartwarming moment at the end of "The Ring" when they finally kiss on camera, much to the squick of the kids.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: Adam dares Barry to stick his tongue on a pole in "A Christmas Story" as a Whole Plot Reference to A Christmas Story. Barry gets even by pushing Adam's lips to the pole.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Barry veers into this territory at times: in the pilot episode, when he drives his grandfather's car for the first time (with the rest of the family in it), he accidentally drives into the garage door when he is supposed to back out of the driveway (to which Murray intones "I raised a moron"). In "The Kremps," Adam "challenges" (tricks) Barry into climbing up the tree in front of the house... twice.
  • Two-Timer Date: Adam in "Baio and Switch", when he invites both Emmy and Dana to the dance. He watches a bunch of TV episodes with the same premise for ideas, but finds that they all end in failure. He plans the whole night out with Pops, who claims to have actually achieved it for real. Unfortunately, both girls find out and cancel it before Adam gets a chance to carry it out. They do eventually both go with Adam after he gives them a heartfelt apology.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: In what other universe but the magic world of television would these parents ever happen? (Interestingly, Jeff Garlin isn't exactly as attractive as the real Murray, but the real Beverly was about that hot.)
  • Unreliable Narrator: Narrator!Adam can never seem to remember the exact year whatever story he's telling happened (see the page quote). This is probably why he gets certain cultural phenomena crossed up, like thinking the Phillies were playing in the World Series the same year Ghostbusters was out.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Murray tries to have "the talk" with Barry using the names of baseball players instead of the actual body parts involved.
    Barry: "Oh yeah, you're a Mike Schmidt!"
    Murray: "Get your head out of your Orel Hershiser and get back down here!"
  • Vanity License Plate: Uncle Marvin's DeLorean has one reading "CHX DIGIT."
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Premise of the show.
    • To preface this fact, most episodes end with real-life home movies filmed during the decade from which the series is set by creator Adam F. Goldberg featuring his family.
    • In-Universe, this happens with Adam and Uncle Marvin going to see The Wizard and Marvin saying it's based on a true story.
  • Vocal Evolution: Sean Giambrone, Adam's actor, both in character and real life, has gone through puberty between seasons 2 and 3, making his voice deeper and more nasal.
  • Waxing Lyrical: In one episode, after watching the Royal Wedding, Beverly wants to renew her vows. Murray doesn't want to come up with new ones, so he steals the lyrics to the Family Ties theme song and passes them off as his own. Bev eventually finds out and gets back at him by using the lyrics to The Facts of Life
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Albert to Murray, his son-in-law, in "You're Underfoot."
    • "Well Done, Daughter!" Guy: In "La Biblioteca Es Libros?" Erica is aghast that not only has Murray failed to acknowledge the good job she does at work & not shared a celebratory beer, he shrugs off Barry's incompetent, moronic, & Noid-esque job as a Domino's delivery boy. Murray makes up for this by coming to her room, congratulating her for her hard work, & shares two beers w/ her, although Beverly catches them & Murray sprung into Dad mode by punishing her for the beers in her room (& silently mouthing "I'm sorry.").
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: Barry's attempts at karate in "Kara-Te". He eventually manages to break a board, but Adam secretly used balsa wood.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: In The Stinger for "Weird Al," Adam sends a demo of a Barry themed cover of the song "Wang Chung (Everybody Have Fun Tonight)" to Weird Al. It doesn't work for him since there's really no context to who's being talked about.
  • Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Every time Uncle Marvin shows up, he's already got a new job.
  • Wild Teen Party: Barry and Lainey try to have one inspired by Risky Business in the episode "A Kick-ass Risky Business Party".
    • Barry throws one in the first season finale "Livin' On a Prayer".
  • Xanatos Roulette: Erica in "The Other Smother".
  • Young Future Famous People: Junior high aged versions of political commentator David Sirota and film producer J.C. Spink are recurring minor characters on the show. Former MLB player and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is also a character in one episode. Justified in that all of them attended school with Goldberg in real life.
    • This trope applies to Adam as well.

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