Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty): Dorothy's Sicilian mother with little tact, who evidently taught Dorothy all she knows about snarkery.
The show ran on NBC for seven years, with six of those seasons ranking among the Nielsen Top 10. After Bea Arthur (Dorothy) left, the three remaining women bought a hotel and continued on the CBS series Golden Palace, which ran for one unspectacular season. It also spun off the long-running sitcom, Empty Nest.Like many sitcoms from The Eighties and The Nineties, The Golden Girls confronted numerous social issues, but with special attention paid to groups rarely covered by other programs, such as the elderly and LGBT. Throughout the years they covered topics as diverse such as homelessness, AIDS, homosexuality, transvestism, prescription pill addiction, sexual harassment, interracial love, poor elderly care, and assisted suicide. Many episodes concerned the women's love lives, and all four women, whether divorced or widowed, were portrayed as sexually active.Over seven years, The Golden Girls featured four hour-long clip shows and at least ten shows made up of multiple original flashbacks. These flashback episodes always centered on a theme, such as birthdays, moneymaking schemes, or bad dates.
Actor Allusion: In "Brotherly Love", Dorothy recounts how while on a double date with Stan and his Brother at a soda shop Stan "entertained" them by sticking straws up his nose and pretending to be a walrus. In the "Cousin Maude" episode of All in the Family, Arthur's character Maude recalls Archie Bunker doing the same thing on a double date with her Cousin Edith and herself.
One of the songs that Dorothy sings at the Rusty Anchor in the final season episode "Journey to the Center of Attention" is "Hard Hearted Hannah (The Vamp of Savannah)" (from Tin Pan Alley), which Bea Arthur had previously sung in an episode of Maude.
Adaptation Distillation: In-universe example. Rose tells Blanche a long, rather-excruciating story about how she won Frank Sinatra tickets during a radio station contest, and is just about to tell Dorothy the exact same story, when...
Blanche: No! No! No! No! Please, I cannot bear that again! She [Rose] was listening to her car radio. Big Band, not All-Talk. There was a contest. Something about a little voice, a lucky number, a dime and a door handle, then bim-bam-boom, she won the tickets! Dorothy: Take a lesson, Rose. That's how you tell a story.
Sophia: That peasant girl was me. And that painter... was... Pablo Picasso.
Blanche also did this in the episode "The Operation," while telling Rose about a case of stage fright she'd dealt with while performing in a dance recital with a group of twelve other girls: "They opened the curtain and the music started and twelve little girls started to dance. And one little girl wet her pants. That girl in the puddle was me."
Aerith and Bob: Played with in an episode involving minks when Rose named some of them.
Rose: We are not giving away Fluffy, Muffy, Buffy, and Jo-anne!
Dorothy: Rose, they are non-breeding minks who eat their weight in food everyday! Jo-anne!?
Ascended Extra: Sophia was conceived as a recurring character, but positive response to her in the pilot led to her being added to the main cast.
Author Avatar: Blanche's sister Charmaine Hollingsworth visits Blanche and tells her she is writing a novel, titled 'Vixen: Story Of A Woman'. She even gives an autographed copy to Blanche. However, Blanche mistakenly thinks the book is about her. Angry and hurt, she confronts Charmaine, who explains she based the book on her own life, not Blanche's.
Babysitting Episode: The series had one, the baby belonged to a friend of Dorothy's and they sang 'Mr Sandman' to get him to sleep. Then he got a fever and the doctor from Empty Nest did a Cross Over visit to look at him. Blanche used it as a flirting chance,naturally.
An earlier episode also saw three of the four girls babysit the kids, nieces and nephews of participants in a walkathon (the fourth girl, Sophia, was in said walkathon). At the end of the day, all the kids have been picked up by their rightful parents and guardians... except for one, baby Emily, whose parents don't arrive until much later (they'd just given birth to twins).
Back to School: Rose in one episode, in order to get her high school diploma. In this episode Rose admits that she never attended her high school graduation because she developed a case of mono and was too ill to attend.
Bad Job, Worse Uniform: Sophia had two fast food jobs. One had a western theme where she dressed as a cowgirl, and another at "Captain Jack's Seafood Shanty" where she dressed like a pirate, complete with a parrot on the shoulder.
Sophia: You're embarrassed to be seen with your own mother? Dorothy: When she's dressed like Vasco de Gama, yes.
Bad Omen Anecdote: Inverted when Rose tells a story about some people from her home town in an effort to dissuade a friend from doing something. Though her friends expect a bad ending to the story to further the moral she's apparently getting at, Rose says that the people involved became quite rich and lived happily ever after.
Sophia: You've hired the angel of death from Shady Pines!
That is, until Sophia learns Nurse DeFarge is willing to do absolutely anything to make Sophia comfortable, for the sake of her recovery. Of course, making Sophia comfy meant making life hell for the other women.
Bechdel Test: Passes with flying colours, for all the talk about men, the sexy talk of guys they've romanced, still romance, and deal with on a daily basis, they still have at least one conversation per episode that is not about men.
Beware the Nice Ones: In the episode "It's a Miserable Life," Rose lashes out at one of her neighbors, Mrs. Claxton, when she finally gets fed up with her poor treatment of everyone. Rose's outburst was so shocking that it gave Mrs. Claxton a fatal heart attack!
Rose yet again, whenever there was any type of game or competition that she'd really get into. She admitted to being very competitive, and would sometimes get bitchy and downright mean.
Blind Without 'Em and Blind Mistake: Sophia. She tended to make some rather hilarious goofs without them, such as mistaking Blanche for a black man (she was wearing very dark sunglasses at the time), and once, when attempting to phone for help from a mall claimed that, "Every time I put in a dime and dialed, a condom popped out."
Big Little Man: Rose dates a little person, who is also a colleague from her work. The entire episode is Rose overcoming how she feels about being seen with him, but in the end, he reveals that he can't see her anymore anyway because his very religious family doesn't want him dating anyone who isn't Jewish.
Biggus Dickus: Rose compares her late husband Charlie's endowment to a bull's she saw as a child:
Rose: "Boy, that bull would've been jealous."
Black Is Bigger in Bed: It addresses this in an episode where Dorothy's youngest son gets engaged an older black woman. Dorothy and co. meet up with her future in-laws and Sophia asks if it's true what they say about black men in bed. Before Dorothy can admonish her for it...
Blanche: Oh yes, definitely. [beat, everyone looks at her] ...oh yes, definitely, that is something I would like to know about too. Dorothy: Come on, Blanche, that's a stereotype. Trudy (an in-law): Call it whatever you want, I'm just grateful it's true.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Rose. Bona fide Cuckoolander, and also gainfully employed at a grief counseling centre, and later, as a consumer reporter. She is also extremely knowledgeable about plumbing in "Second Motherhood", where she and Dorothy install a new toilet by themselves.
The Butler Did It: Parodied when the girls participate in a murder mystery weekend. Rose immediately stands up and points to the waiter.
Blanche could actually hold her own against Sophia occasionally. Once, when she asked for advice and Sophia turned it back into an insult, Blanche said very simply, "I'm sorry, I thought that since you looked like Yoda you were also wise."
Outside the main cast, Dorothy in particular is treated this way. In one episode it was revealed that she wasn't even invited to her own Sweet Sixteen party.
California Doubling: The show is set in Miami, FL. but was shot in Los Angeles. Stock Footage of the city was used in opening credits and other scenes. The exterior of the girl's house was of an actual studio backlot house at Disney/MGM Studios in Orlando, FL. until the backlot ride was demolished in 2004 to make room for a new attraction.
The Cameo: Several celebrities played themselves over the years; these included Alex Trebek, Burt Reynolds, Bob Hope, and Sonny Bono.
Canon Discontinuity: A few instances. Most prominent was Dorothy's son Michael and daughter Kate. Even though one of the two was born when Dorothy was still in high school, and thus should have been in at least their mid-forties, both were consistently played by actors in their twenties and early thirties. As another example, there's an episode in which Rose stubbornly adopts a puppy despite a prior agreement between the housemates that they can't get a dog; yet in another episode, Blanche and Dorothy get Rose a dog from a shelter.
An episode states that Rose, before moving in with Blanche and Dorothy, was thrown out of her apartment because she secretly had a cat and was caught, however later, Rose is shown to be very allergic to cats.
Another instance is in one episode Dorothy states her grandmother died at 94 when she was 6. Yet, in a flashback episode Dorothy is shown with her grandmother (Played by Bea Arthur) as a young woman (played by Lyn Greene), already married to Stan.
The Cast Showoff: Bea Arthur got to sing in a few episodes. Not to mention Betty and Rue get to show off their dancing skills.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The pilot gave the housemates a gay male live-in cook named Coco. When Sophia turned out to be unexpectedly popular and was made a permanent part of the cast, Coco vanished without further mention.
Note that we never actually see St. Olaf in all its glory. The closest we come is seeing the inside of Rose's old house in one flashback sequence. The girls manage to make it to the outskirts of town in another episode; it's apparently only accessible by horse-and-buggy and by toboggan.
Every year in St. Olaf they assemble all the children in the town square who have lied and the mayor points at them.
Rose appears to be one of the smartest people to come out of that town (most of the time she's merely The Ditz); her interactions with other St. Olafians bear this out.
This was mentioned as such with Rose's cousin Sven. When he mentions not knowing much about women, Blanche says, "A big strong man like you, get out of here!" He simply picks up his suitcase and leaves. When Rose chases after him saying that was just an expression, Blanche turns and says to Dorothy, "I never thought I'd say this, but I think Rose got the brains in that family."
Oddly though, the times we've seen Rose's sisters, her children, and her grandchildren, all of them are quite intelligent (well, they're smarter than Rose), even her mother Alma is smart. Though this was before St. Olaf gradually became weirder and more bizarre as Rose's stories did to Flanderization.
in-universe Sicily is also portrayed as this, as well as a land of nothing but goats, animal dung, and vendettas. Sophia mentions the number two export out of her village was piano wire, but can't remember the first. As it turns out, it was ransom notes (she had a flashback in the can.)
Sophia: "Come on, let's go, we're late for temple!"
Dorothy: "Ma, it's Tuesday. And we're Catholic."
A funny thing about that quote is in Real Life Bea Arthur (neé Bernice Frankel) and Estelle Getty (neé Estelle Scher) were in fact Jewish.
Cool Old Ladies: More like cool middle-aged women for Dorothy, Blanche, and Rose, but Sophia played the trope very straight; despite being in her eighties, she kept up with pop culture, even owning a Game Boy in one episode.
Compressed Vice: Rose's addiction to prescription-strength painkillers and Dorothy's gambling addiction. Neither was ever hinted at before the Very Special Episode dealing with it and neither were ever alluded to afterward.
While we're at it, Dorothy's smoking could qualify as this, too. It was referred to in one episode (but not a Very Special Episode), wasn't hinted at before then, and wasn't mentioned afterward, either.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: Mentioned as threats. Blanche once tells Sophia that either she goes along with Blanche's young-age pretense or she gets slapped with a big rent raise. And Sophia once makes Dorothy talk about her gambling addiction relapse with her on the threat that, if they don't right away, they'll talk in her bedroom after Sophia eats a bowl of chili.
Dorothy threatens to cut off Sophia's Metamucil supply if she comments on the conversation between her and a failing student.
Everybody (Rose included) used her famous St. Olaf stories as a punishment. Once, when Dorothy and Blanche try to use lame excuses to duck out on one, she threatens to follow them to their room and act out the story with shadow puppets. In another, when Sophia is considering helping a friend commit suicide, Dorothy encourages Rose to tell a story, and then after the story is over, she turns to Sophia and says, "You see what happens. You kill someone, and you end up a Rose story."
The Cuckoolander Was Right: There are moments when Rose ends up having a deep level of insight on situations that nobody else can solve. She even relates them to St. Olaf stories that actually do make sense in context.
Cure Your Gays: Played with in both episodes in which Blanche's brother, Clayton, appears (though only Blanche tries it) as well as "Goodbye Mr. Gordon" where Blanche and Dorothy are mistakenly thought of as lesbian on a daytime TV talk show. A man interested in Blanche claims she's only "like this" because she's never been with a "real man". If Blanche actually were lesbian, this trope would be played straight; as she isn't, it's simply Played for Laughs.
Blanche, being Blanche, even takes it on as a new way to meet men, and gets Dorothy to play along. "Come on, Dorothy, I have to try this."
Depraved Dentist: A perverted dentist sexually harasses Rose Nylund. Don't worry though, he gets it in the end.
Dirty Old Woman: All four of them; if you really analyze it, The Golden Girls was possibly one of the most upfront and sexual shows on TV at the time. But Blanche most of all, to the point that even Maxim felt obliged to acknowledge her as #1 of "TV's Best Nymphos."
One example, when Rose claimed that Bob Hope was her father with no other proof than she used to dream it, Blanche says it's strange, and wonders why Rose doesn't have a normal, healthy dream, "like sweaty Argentinean men whipping things while they ride naked on the backs of Brahma bulls." Dorothy just shoots her an odd look and reminds herself never to use Blanche's towels again.
In one episode, Dorothy objects to her son marrying a black woman - but only because she's twice his age. The bride expects her own mother to be upset over the age difference - but she objects because the groom is white.
In another episode, Blanche dared to attend her prom with Benjamin, despite the scorn of others. Dorothy assumes Benjamin was black. Nope. He was a Yankee from New Jersey. The same episode involves Rose dating a dwarf, and she spends the bulk of the episode learning to accept him as he is, only to be dropped because she isn't Jewish.
Dorothy befriends vain authoress Barbara Thorndyke, whom the others dislike intensely. To bury the hatchet, she invites the four girls and their dates to a high class establishment named The Mortimer Club; however, when Sophia's date arrives, Barbara takes Dorothy aside and explains that they'll have to go somewhere else because the Mortimer Club doesn't allow Jewish people. The fact that Barbara would support an establishment that has such a policy enrages Dorothy to the point where she snaps at Thorndyke, terminating their friendship.
Distracted by the Sexy: Blanche occasionally distracts herself by describing an erotic scene... or a scene that wouldn't be erotic at all, if it weren't Blanche describing it.
Although not nearly as bad as Rose, both Blanche and Sophia have their moments as well, the former due to occassionally misunderstanding anything not traditionally Southern, and the latter due to occassional bouts of senility (Played for Laughs of course).
D.I.Y. Disaster: In one episode, Dorothy and Rose try to install a new toilet themselves after dealing with a sexist plumber. Their first attempt leads to them redoing the plumbing such that flushing the toilet makes the sink run, the spigots on the sink control the shower, etc.
Rose eventually fixes the entire bathroom and installs the toilet with no male assistance.
Driven to Suicide: Sophia's friend Martha Lamont decides to kill herself after attending the funeral of her friend Lydia, and asks Sophia to be with her when she does. She doesn't, in the end, thanks to Sophia's friendship.
Drop-In Character: Sophia was originally conceived as one of these, but the audience loved her so much that she was brought in as a fourth housemate. Stan, on the other hand, fits the trope to a T.
Early-Installment Weirdness: Blanche didn't have a Southern accent in the first episode. There was also Coco the cook, Blanche's last name being Hollingsworth (later turned into her maiden name,) and the fact that Dorothy said she was from Queens, not Brooklyn.
The Faceless: We never get to see Charlie, Rose's husband. Dorothy's ex-husband, Stan, is a recurring character, we see Blanche's late husband, George, in a dream as well as in his brother, Jamie, who looks just like him (played by the same actor), and Sal/Salvadore, Sophia's late husband, is a regular in flashbacks, dreams, and hallucinations. Charlie, however, remains unseen for the entire series. We're never even given a description of him beyond "six-foot-two and broad-shouldered".
Rose: But I'm not a stick in the mud. I can let my hair down and get crazy with the best of 'em. I eat raw cookie dough. And sometimes I run through the sprinkler and don't wear a shower cap. And at Christmas I've been known to put away more than one eggnog.
Also, Rose's story about the bar in Tyler's Landing in the episode "Nice & Easy" - Rose, to illustrate "teenage rebellion," told a story about the time she snuck out to a gin mill to meet a boy and ran into her church's (married) pastor having an affair. "A week later we became Lutherans," she concludes, leading Blanche to react this way:
Blanche: Rose, that is not a teenage rebellion story. That is a changing religion story. That is a big who cares story! That is a why the hell tell it in the first place story!
Finger in the Mail: In one episode, Blanche accidentally gives Rose's childhood teddy bear to their young neighbor, Daisy, who holds it for ransom. When Blanche refuses to pay, Daisy sends one of the bear's ears in the mail.
555: "555-GIVE" and "555-EASY." One of them is the number of a fundraiser telethon, whereas the other is to reach Blanche during the campaign. Guess which number is for which purpose?
There were several flashbacks to Dorothy and Sophia's past in Brooklyn. In a case of role reversal, Estelle Getty played Sophia's younger self and Bea Arthur played Sophia's mother.
One episode flashes back to Rose's last birthday in Minnesota; she has a conversation with her late husband, Charlie, explaining her decision to sell the house and move to Miami.
Flanderization: Pretty much all four main characters tended to become increasingly exaggerated in later seasons, though the extent to which they were caricatured would vary from one episode to another. It usually depended on the seriousness of the episode's tone, the importance of each character's role within it, and who wrote the episode.
This is most notable with Blanche after season four; earlier in the series, the writers make a point of establishing that Blanche's promiscuity is something she does for her own enjoyment, and at one point lectures her niece about using sex and relationships as a crutch for low self esteem. Later seasons highlight Blanche's insecurity being at the root of her sexy behavior. The major change is when she starts self-identifying as a slut.
Gag Boobs: At least once with Blanche (air filled, they deflate).
Dorothy: My rear tires have less pressure in them!
Blanche gives Sophia a makeover for a date in one episode which includes this trope
Gag Penis: Rose's husband Charlie is implied to have had one. Her parents taught her about the birds and the bees by showing her a bull's penis and testicles when she was young. The first time she saw Charlie naked on their wedding night, she thought "boy that bull would've been jealous."
The Gambling Addict: Dorothy's Compressed Vice in one episode, though Sophia remarks that Dorothy had been this once before as well, leading her to deep financial trouble. Sophia claims that she gets this from her father, Salvatore (as she claims: "In fact, his last words were, 'ten bucks says I don't need this oxygen tank.'"), which is a rare example of good continuity for the series. Sophia herself is no stranger to gambling, being an avid fan of the dog track. (Unsurprisingly, this was never mentioned during said Compressed Vice episode).
Game Show Appearance: Dorothy tries out for Jeopardy! in one episode. Though she aces the questions, she's passed over for the show on the grounds that she's too much of a know-it-all for viewers to "root for." However, there is a Dream Sequence in which she imagines herself on the show with Rose and Empty Nest's Charlie Dietz as the other contestants.
There's also an episode in which all four women appear as contestants on a fictional game show called Grab That Dough!, and pretty much everything that possibly could go wrong for them in the course of the appearance does.
Gaydar: Averted, intentionally or otherwise, in the case of Blanche. Entire episodes hinge on her total lack of it, to the point where she honestly seems to think her gay brother Clayton should continue dating women, despite his having come out of the closet.
Rose describing the best sex she ever had with her late husband Charlie, during which he suffered a fatal heart attack and her confusion when he cried out "Rose! I'm going! I'm going!" This was apparently the opposite of what he'd usually say, and the opposite of "going" is. . .
The one time Rose walked in on her parents, they were "just playing leap frog".
The Ghost: Charlie, both literally (the character is long dead) and figuratively. He's the only one of the husbands whom we never see - Stan, the only living husband, is a Drop-In Character; Salvatore appears frequently in flashbacks and the occasional out-of-body experience; George is seen in one All Just a Dream episode, and his eerily similar younger brother visits in another episode.
Phil, Dorothy's transvestite brother, is also this. The closest we get to seeing him is the (visibly empty) coffin at his funeral.
The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Shown repeatedly in a variety of situations, as all four women have at least one sister, and also have sisterly relationships between themselves. The best example of the trope being played fully straight is the relationship Dorothy had with her younger sister Gloria.
Good Parents: Dorothy, Sophia, Rose, Miles, and even Stan, who, for all of the bad that could be said about him, would do anything for Kate and Michael.
Averted, however, with Blanche, who was very hands-off with her kids. But it's abundantly clear that she regrets this, given that she spends most of the series making up for it.
Good People Have Good Sex: Rose explains that she and her husband Charlie, when he was alive, always had sex every night and the following morning during their entire marriage (save for one night). Seven to midnight, five to seven AM, and until noon on Sundays.
Blanche: [stunned] ...good lord, no wonder you still mourn that man.
Charlie was also implied to have physical endowment that would've made a bull jealous. Blanche has trouble believing this since Rose is so embarrassed to talk about sex. Rose explains that, to her understanding, people who talk about sex don't really do it as much as they claim. All eyes are suddenly on Blanche.
Happily Adopted: While Rose does wonder about her biological parents, any time one of her adopted relatives shows up, she doesn't act as if they're anything less than her real family, and the subject of her adoption doesn't even come up.
Historical Injoke: Sophia made a lot of these. It's usually unclear if she's lying or joking, her memories have really been twisted by old age, or both. Among other things, she's claimed to have had affairs with Pablo Picasso (she ended it when she was offended by his portrait of her) and Sigmund Freud (Sophia recalls that he loved to drive through tunnels), to have been friends and business partners with Mama Celeste until they fought over a man, to have been a contestant on a game show called Torture that was hosted by Mussolini, and to have been present at the Valentine's Day Massacre with her husband and father when their car broke down in Chicago (although she does concede that it might have just been a Valentine's Day Massacre.)
Since the entire main cast is over 50, the others all engage in this to a lesser extent. For example, Andy Rooney wanted to have an affair with Blanche but she turned him down, and Rose's high school history teacher may or may not have been Adolf Hitler after he faked his death and was hiding under an alias. Rose's high school gym teacher openly went by Eva Braun.
Hollywood Dateless: Dorothy. In fact, she's probably had more love interests than Rose or Sophia.
I Ate WHAT?: In one episode Dorothy eats some snacks Rose left behind while the latter was taking care of a live chicken. Then the following dialogue happens:
Dorothy: Not bad. What is it?
Rose: I'm not sure. The pet store owner calls it "chicken chow."
In another episode, Sophia recalled an event where she made a meal with "what she thought" was chicken, and we don't learn what it really was she served because Dorothy cuts her off. Only for Dorothy to interrupt her sentence and ask "oh God it wasn't my confirmation dinner was it?!"
Sophia (reminiscing): Your pop sure made everyone laugh when he made the little feet dance!
I Know You Know I Know: An interesting variation occurs; Dorothy returns home after learning the truth behind being stood up the night of her senior prom, and Sophia knows Dorothy knows, and Dorothy knows that Sophia knows she knows. Did you follow all that?
Im Going To Disneyworld: Spoken by Sophia in the episode, 'Hey, Look Me Over'. She goes with the "Disneyland" version.
Identical Granddaughter: Bea Arthur plays Dorothy's grandmother in flashbacks (alongside a different actress playing young Dorothy).
Improbably Predictable: Stan walks out the front door. Someone is about to say something when Dorothy cuts them short and counts down. "Three...two...one..." Stan walks back in and Dorothy shouts, "Out, Stan!" This is used to contrast a later moment in the episode when she attempts the same prediction and fails, indicating that Stan has changed.
Ironic Echo Cut: In a scene in which Dorothy, visiting the concession stand Sophia and Max (then-husband of Sophia) are running at the time, worries that the weather might cause Sophia to get sick. Sophia responds with, "Please, I haven't had a cold for 40 years!" Cue the cut, followed by Max and Sophia being sick and treated at home, while the latter moans: "This is the worst cold I've had in 40 years."
"It" Is Dehumanizing: How Blanche in the later seasons would sometimes treat men, as if they are mere toys.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sophia is this. A woman with an insult for everyone she meets, she also is loving to her roommates—explicitly stating that she loves Rose and Blanche as if they were her own children—cooks for them whenever they ask, and works for charity. Specifically, one episode shows her volunteering in a hospital, bringing cheer to the patients. Dorothy would count too; she's as snarky and cynical as her mom, but is devoted to her teaching job, socially conscious, and quick to condemn any moral wrong she perceives.
In the episode "It's a Miserable Life," the girls hold a funeral for the curmudgeonly Mrs. Claxton, to which no one shows up, leading them to believe she really was a miserable, lonely, mean old woman. However, just before they leave, a woman shows up to pay her respects and says all of the good, philanthropic things Mrs. Claxton did anonymously. However, when the woman mentions the person she thinks is in the casket by name, it turns out she arrived at the wrong funeral. When she finds out who ''is'' in the casket, she smiles politely and gives it a good kick.
Dorothy: Ma, did you sleep with Tony Devlecio? Sophia: A little. Dorothy: Ma! Sophia: Blanche made me do it! Dorothy: Don't you have a mind of your own? If Gladys Goldfein told you to drink an entire bottle of keopectate would you? Sophia: Who blabbed?
Kick Me Prank: Dorothy, being a substitute teacher, rather expectedly gets this treatment.
Carol: Last night, I dreamt I was eating a giant marshmallow, and when I woke up my boyfriend was gone.
Man: I don't get it.
Carol: It's not a joke.
May-December Romance: Dorothy's son marries (and impregnates) a woman twice his age. Blanche briefly dates her much younger aerobic instructor, only to find out that he really is searching for a mother figure rather than a lover.
Mood Whiplash: The episode "Break-In," season 1, episode 8. Rose is in a parking garage, still paranoid after the girls' house has been broken into. Suddenly, she hears footsteps, and they sound like they're following her. Panicked, Rose realizes a man is running after her and runs off frantically, and ends up having to hurry down sets of stairs — but she's out of breath, and eventually has to stop for sheer fatigue. The man is right behind her, and she turns with a terrified expression on her face — and we Smash Cut to the very next scene, featuring Sophia Kwyjibo at Scrabble, claiming her word really exists and joking the robbers stole the dictionary, meaning it can't be disproven.
Museum of Boredom: Rose mentions St. Olaf's "Children's Cheese Museum" in one episode.
Blanche: You have a museum... where children go to look at cheese? Rose: Hey, it beats learning about it in the streets.
Miles also takes Rose to a thimble museum in one episode, and mentions wanting to take her to a place called "Zipper Town" in the future. Unlike the above example, however, Rose is decidedly not impressed with either choice.
Dorothy: You mean to tell me you actually had a good time at a thimble museum? Miles: It was sew-sew. (starts laughing)
Negative Continuity: Probably the best way to describe this show's infamous problems with keeping character details consistent. By the end, it's obvious they weren't even trying:
Rose's family backstory. Was she left on a doorstep in a basket as a baby, or did she spend part of her childhood in an orphanage before being adopted? (They eventually try to combine those by saying she was left in a basket on the door of an orphanage.)
Dorothy's senior prom. It was said that she was stood up (although later Dorothy discovers that Sophia really just sent him away for not being dressed to her liking) but in another episode, it was said she went with Stan, even though Dorothy stated that she didn't meet Stan until a full two weeks after the senior prom. And yet another episode said she went with her brother, Phil.
The story of Blanche's husband George's death. One version is that Blanche was out getting a pedicure when he died, after he had been comatose for a few days. Another is that she got a phone call at home from a rude, food-munching cop, who informed her that he died (presumably instantly) in a car accident, and Blanche mentions another time that a cop came to her house to let her know about George's death.
Another is where Blanche lived and how old she was when she moved to Miami. In one episode, when talking to her daughter, she mentioned how, when she was a baby, she would have to go downstairs in the middle of the night to scream for the governess when she was crying, implying she lived at her family home of Hollingsworth Manor and her Miami home was a retirement property. However, when considering selling shares of the house to the other girls, she's initially reluctant because she claims it was the house where she raised her children.
Even an element as simple as the characters' names are inconsistent. In the pilot, Blanche's last name is Hollingsworth. In the entire rest of the series, it's Devereaux (Hollingsworth is retconned into being her maiden name). Rose's maiden name is well-established as Lindstrom, but a notorious goof in the Bob Hope episode gives her parents the name Nylund, her married name. In two episodes, Blanche is given two different middle names, in each case strongly implied to be her only middle name: Marie and Elizabeth (the second was chosen so that her initials would form the word "B.E.D.").
Hell, Dorothy's children are a great big continuity error. It is stated numerous times that she had to drop out of high school because she got pregnant, was married for 38 years, then divorced two years before the show began, meaning she should be 57 with a child near or over 40. yet when her kids, Kate and Michael do appear on the show, both are around 23 to 26.
Noodle Incident: Between Blanche's bedroom exploits, Rose's crazy childhood stories and Sofia's "picture it" encounters in Sicily, The Golden Girls may have the most Noodle Incidents per episode in sitcom history.
The reason St. Olaf no longer holds barbecues.
Why Sophia is forbidden to sit at the table when the girls have Mexican food.
When introduced to Blanche, a priest declares, "It's nice to have a face to place with the name". When Blanche asks for clarification, he tells her "I can't discuss anything told to me in confession", then later makes a crack in reference to her gymnastic skills.
Blanche's promiscuity being so legendary that the Secret Service has a file on her. This is revealed when an agent visits the house to evaluate it for an upcoming visit from the President:
Blanche: Let me know if you want to know anything else. I've got pictures.
Agent: Yeah, so do we.
In another, Sophia is planning to try and sell many of her family recipes, and says it's important to have exposure, and all the greats had it: Mama Celeste, Chef Boyardee, and Chef Balducci. When the others say they never heard of the last one, she remembers that he didn't have television exposure, he had indecent exposure, and says he should have stuffed the cannelloni in the traditional manner.
Blanche does not elaborate on what she was doing with her date that put her at risk of falling and chipping a tooth when Sophia's nurse interrupted.
Blanche: I did that once! (Notices the other girls' stares) It was his birthday.
Apparently Sophia has more than one relative who threw a priest out a window. Her only explanation is "that was business."
No Periods, Period: Mostly averted since the girls were all at least middle-aged, i.e. either in or near, or post-menopause. However, one episode did deal with Blanche — the youngest of them — beginning to go through menopause, and this led to them relating stories of their first periods.
Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Sophia supposedly grew up and lived in Italy for at least a quarter of her life. She has completely no italian accent, not even a trace. Neither do any of her relatives who live in Italy except for cousin Antonio and brother Angelo.
Not What It Looks Like: Several, but the trope itself is spoken word for word by Blanche when she practices a dirty dancing routine with Rose, and is caught by Dorothy and Sophia.
In point of fact, the routine they practice is the dirty dancing routine - the one from Dirty Dancing.
Also spoken word for word during this moment, from the episode "Till Death Do We Volley", when Dorothy's friend Trudy catches Dorothy in bed with Trudy's husband:
Jack: Now honey, it's not what it looks like! Trudy: Obviously!Dorothy thought I was dead, tried to comfort you, and the two of you got carried away! Dorothy: Okay, it is what it looks like.
Nun Too Holy: A woman posing as a nun assists a man in scamming Blanche and Sophia at a local shopping mall. This trope is directly evidenced when the nun is seen lighting a cigarette and smoking it.
In another, Sophia, after a friend of hers who was a nun passed away, decides impulsively to join a convent. Sophia being Sophia, fails horribly at it, getting the other nuns to gamble at cards (and cheating,) suggesting a "Monks of the Midwest" beefcake calendar to raise money, and hiding a picture of some young stud behind her photo of the Pope. Her Mother Superior gets in on it as well; when Sophia was trying to butter her up, she quickly shuts her down with, "Save it, Sister Suck-up!"
Sophia did not get along with her son Phil's wife at all. Even at his funeral she has trouble treating her with any sort of respect. It is not Played for Laughs. She is also implied to have been no less obnoxious to Stan before the divorce than she is after.
The one time Blanche's mother-in-law was mentioned, she was said to wish on her deathbed for Blanche to have the disease that was killing her, and according to Blanche, she would always refer to her as "[George's] first wife." When she did pass, Blanche's only response was "I hope the old witch went slowly."
Dorothy's ex mother-in-law was an interesting take. She liked Dorothy, but was obnoxious to her because she didn't want Stan around.
One-Person Birthday Party: Rose flashes back to a time when she celebrated her birthday alone, after the death of her husband.
Only In Miami: None of the characters actually originate from Florida; Blanche, who grew up in Georgia, comes closest. Rose is from Minnesota. Sophia is originally from Sicily and moved as a young woman to New York, where Dorothy was born and raised.
The Other Darrin: Lots. From Dorothy's sister Gloria, to Blanche's daughter Rebecca, to Rose's daughter Kirsten, and even the cast of the episode that was a pilot for the spin-off series Empty Nest.
The Empty Nest example might not count, since the entire plot changed between Poorly Disguised Pilot and the actual series. In the pilot, the story was an older married couple learning to reconnect and begin a new part of their life after their youngest daughter leaves for college (an actual "empty nest.") In the actual show, the main character was a recent widower who's self-supporting adult daughters move back in (creating something of an Artifact Title.) The only connection between the two was the protagonist's occupation as a doctor and actor David Leisure, and even then, his character changed from a pilot named Oliver to a cruise ship employee named Charley.
How Rose's husband died before the series. In the show itself, how another man she was dating also died!
Blanche also intended to go out this way, and in the hallucination where they were merely frozen heads on the kitchen table, she did. According to her, she was 92 and invited over a cute tennis instructor while she was in the tub, she asked him to sponge off her back, made her move, and her last words were "Thank you baby, glub, glub, glub..."
Overly Narrow Superlative: When posing for a sculptor named Lazlo starts to drive a wedge between the girls, they confront him and make him choose. In order to get him to choose her, Blanche butters him up by saying she thinks he's the greatest Hungarian sculptor of our time. Dorothy then calls her on this, saying that if she can name two other Hungarian sculptors of any time, she will eat the statue they're standing beside.
Parental Neglect: Blanche is strongly implied to have been a "hands-off" mother, which factors into any episode that features her children and grandchildren. She tries to reverse this tendency with one of her granddaughters, but ends up forcing her into a beauty contest she clearly doesn't want to be in.
Perverse Sexual Lust: One episode had Rose recently breaking up from a passionate relationship with a man who played Goofy at Disney World. When pressed for the cause she admits she lost interest when "he took off the Goofy head."
In an earlier Christmas episode, Blanche revealed that she had a special fixation for guys in Santa Claus suits. Dorothy's response: "You do realize that you're in the minority here."
Blanche had a lot of these. In another episode, Rose was having a bizarre dream, and Blanche wonders why she doesn't have a normal, healthy dream, like "sweaty Argentinian men whipping things as they ride naked on the backs of Brahma Bulls." At this point, Dorothy decides she's never going to use Blanche's towels again.
Rose admits to the girls right before a wedding that weddings turn her on, and during the show proceeds to look for men to have sex with.
Planet of Steves: Rose's old boyfriend from St. Olaf, Buzz, comes from a family where all the men are named "Buzz" to avoid confusion. Naturally, this serves to only cause confusion:
Rose: Come on, Buzz!
Buzz: [looks around] You're kidding, Buzz is here, too?
Playing Against Type: Rue McClanahan and Betty White were supposed to play Rose and Blanche, respectively. They suggested switching around. Betty White was well-known for playing "Happy Homemaker" Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Outside of her TV persona, Sue Ann was cruel and man-hungry, the antithesis of Rose. Rue, meanwhile, had played sweet but scatterbrained Vivian Harmon on Maude, as well as prissy spinster Aunt Fran on Mama's Family.
Rue McClanahan had previously appeared in a famous episode of All in the Family as the exhibitionist wife in a swinger couple whom Edith invites to the house after misunderstanding their personal ad.
According to Rue, this was a major reason that Bea Arthur agreed to star; previously, she'd told Rue that she had no interest in doing "Maude and Vivian meet Sue Ann Nivens."
Playing Gertrude: Estelle Getty was a full year younger than Bea Arthur, who played the daughter of Getty's character. The only times Getty was seen on the show without heavy age makeup were during flashback sequences to her married life in New York. One of these featured Bea Arthur (not aged with makeup, though sporting a different hairstyle) as Sophia's mother.
Poorly Disguised Pilot: The episode "Empty Nest." The main characters of The Golden Girls only appeared in about two scenes.
Although by the time Empty Nest debuted as an actual Spin-Off series, the original premise (a middle-aged couple whose children have grown and left) was discarded and the show was about a widower whose grown daughters moved back in with him.
Prenup Blowup: Stan and Dorothy, when they're planning to remarry.
Racist Grandma: Sophia, Depending on the Writer; half the time she's very much this trope, and the other half she is perhaps the most tolerant and open-minded octogenarian who ever lived.
Blanche's Big Daddy is a male version. "They're admitting who into my country club?"
Dorothy: "Come on honey. I'm sure Grand Dragon — I mean, uhh... Big Daddy is always with you."
Rage Against the Author: Twice, once when Dorothy befriends the racist high class snob Barbara Thorndyke (though in a subversion of the trope, Dorothy's problem with Barbara has nothing to do with her books), and another when Blanche's sister Charmaine writes a revealing book about a woman's sex life that Blanche perceives as being written about her.
Real Song Theme Tune: "Thank You for Being a Friend" was originally a huge hit for Andrew Gold (its composer) in 1978.
Blanche: In the South, we mature faster. I think it's the heat.
Dorothy: I think it's the gin.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dorothy gives these types of speeches multiple times, most notably when she tells off Barbara Thorndyke, and also when she confronts a doctor in a restaurant who had previously told her she was just insane, and not sick.
Reckless Gun Usage: Overcome with trauma stemming from a robbery, Rose purchases a gun and carelessly shoots it towards the front door, thinking it was a robber (but was actually Blanche and her date.) The bullet ends up hitting one of Blanche's prized vases.
Retcon: In season 1, a whole episode revolves around Rose losing her job because the grief center where she works is shut down, and she takes a job as a waitress. In season 2, she's working there again... or working there still.
Reunion Show: The Golden Girls: Their Greatest Moments, a special aired in 2003 on the Lifetime television network, at the time the only place The Golden Girls could be seen on television in America. Bea Arthur, Betty White and Rue McClanahan took part (Estelle Getty, by this time, was too ill to participate).
Rule of Three: "She'll get over it. And if she doesn't, who cares? We're going to meet Burt Reynolds!"
Running Gag: Sophia complaining about food getting stuck in her teeth/dentures, usually corn.
Sophia: Dorothy, when you get around my age two things happen. One, you get more intuitive about the weather and two, corn becomes your enemy.
Rose being hit with a newspaper/magazine by Dorothy and "Shut up, Rose!"
Sophia listening to phone conversations on the extension in her bedroom and commenting on them when the girls talk.
Sophia reminding herself of who Stan, Dorothy's ex, is:
SOPHIA: "Tall, yutz, face like a monkey's behind."
Rose: Oh, Charlie was a wonderful man... but he could squeeze a nickel until the buffalo pooped!
Rose's boyfriend Miles also went through a bout of this in one episode. He had a reason, though; he was living on a fixed income, and when he was told he was healthy enough to live to 100, he was afraid he wouldn't be able to afford it.
Sophia's "Picture it. Sicily..." stories tend to end up here too.
Standardized Sitcom Housing: The house differs slightly from the norm in that (like most Florida homes) it's one-story and where most shows have the staircase, it has the lanai, but otherwise it fits the bill.
Sitting Sexy on a Piano: Blanche does this in "Journey to the Center Of Attention" Complete with a red dress. Of course, it fails horribly, she kicks off a shoe and it goes flying, gets tangled up in the microphone cord, and falls on the keys. After she climbs off, she sits in a guys lap, only to find out he just had hip surgery, tried the "It that a gun in your pocket?" routine on a man who pulls out an actual pistol, and when she starts twirling the microphone by its cord, it gets away from her and nearly hurts somebody. Rue McClanahan named this as her favorite musical scene.
Social Semi-Circle: When all four women are at the kitchen table, Sophia pulls up a stool next to Dorothy rather than sitting on the camera side. There isn't even a chair on the camera's side. We're probably meant to assume that the table - and the oven, which is stage left but lined up with said table - are up against the Fourth Wall.
Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Rose simply can't get past this, much to the annoyance of the coworker she keeps trying to please — and failing at it.
Speaks Fluent Animal: Dorothy has this ability, at least according to Rose. Dorothy talked to a mouse and helped him to escape.
Spin-Off: Empty Nest was about Dr. Harry Weston, the ladies' neighbor. That show in turn spun off the series Nurses. The Shared Universe of all these shows naturally led to a few Cross Overs.
After The Golden Palace was canceled, Estelle Getty's Sophia became a regular on Empty Nest.
Stealing from the Hotel: There's an episode where Sophia does this. She takes the towels, reaches for the Bible, but changes her mind, and attempts to get the hotel room's telephone embedded in a decorative clamshell container, but it was secured to the table.
"If I wanted to take abuse like that, I would've worked on The Roseanne Barr Show!"
Dorothy: Now look, Rose, this nonsense has to stop. What we saw was not a UFO. Rose: Well, it wasn't an airplane! Airplanes aren't that thin, or that bright. Dorothy: Neither is Oprah Winfrey, but that doesn't make her a flying saucer.
Dorothy: I'm really sorry. I promise I'll chant "Hail Mary" until Madonna has a hit movie.
Rose: Now remember this would be better with a bigger TV. Dorothy: Yeah we know. Rose: And it'd be better with music. Dorothy: We understand you. Rose: And of course it would be better- Dorothy: It would be better with ShelleyHack, Rose just turn it on!
Rose (praying to God before bed): I just wanted to say I think you're doing a great job. Of course there are some things I don't understand. Like poverty... and the spokesmodel category on Star Search.
Sophia:[translating what Vincenzo says] Before we begin... let's make one thing clear. ... I am in charge. ... I am the boss. ... I am the master. ... I am the walrus. Dorothy: Ma, either your Italian is rusty or he's the world's oldest hippie.
Don't forget Rose's mood swings in the episode "High Anxiety."
Undesirable Prize: The girls go through a lot of trouble to fly to California to be on the fictional game show "Grab That Dough." They decide to split up in increase their chances of winning; Rose and Sophia lose, and each take home $100. Blanche and Dorothy win, and bet their cash on a mystery prize. After showing them Window 1 (new living room furniture) and Window 2 (a sports car) they open Window 3 and show them their prize... an electric skillet. And a lifetime supply of soup.
Unexpected Positive: Dorothy takes a hearing test to show Sophia it's no big deal. Sophia does not need a hearing aid; Dorothy does.
Vague Age: All of the girls, to varying extents. Sophia was in her early 80s for the entire seven-year run. Dorothy was about 60 (and consistently over 60 in later seasons). Rose was 55 in the first season, but her age was hard to pin down after that. But Blanche was the most famous example - nobody ever figured out her actual age. She usually claimed to be around 40, and in one episode where the girls tried to find out, she said 42 - which was presented as an obvious lie. They discover that even her birth certificate has been blanked "by order of the Governor." She seems to be younger than the rest of the girls (Rue McClanahan was in fact ten years younger than the other three), and is still fertile when the show starts (hitting menopause in an early episode), so 50-ish seems about right.
What the Hell, Hero?: When Rose is waiting for the results of her AIDS test, she tells Blanche that this shouldn't be happening to her because she's a good person. Blanche angrily informs Rose that AIDS is not a disease that discriminates between good people and bad, and it's "not God punishing people for their sins". Granted Rose had been very badly frazzled by the ordeal and the waiting, but Blanche was also angry because Rose made it sound like this situation should've been happening to someone like Blanche and not her.
Writer on Board: Creator Susan Harris was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and gave it to Dorothy to raise awareness about it, and probably so she could have Dorothy ream out a doctor who said she was just "getting old."
You Look Familiar: In the first season, actor Harold Gould plays Arnie Peterson, a date of Rose's. Years later, he would return to play Miles Webber, Rose's primary love interest, who appears in 13 episodes.
Funnily enough, one of the last episodes revealed Miles was in the Witness Protection Program. Maybe Arnie was one of his identities?
Sid Melton was largely seen as Salvador Petrillo, Sophia's late husband and Dorothy's father, in flashbacks (and as the occasional ghost). The season six episode "What a Difference a Date Makes", however, also casts him in the role of a "fool" at the medieval-type restaurant where Dorothy goes on her date.
Chick Vennera plays Kid Pepe, a boxer Sophia invests in as part of a get rich quick scheme, and Rose's boss and TV personality, Enrique Mas.