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Series: The League of Gentlemen
A Local Shop for local people. There's nothing for you here.

Welcome to Royston Vasey. You'll never leave.

British Sketch Comedy/Sitcom, with a very dark tone of humour, and plenty of horror trappings.

Set in the town of Royston Vasey (or Spent, in the original radio version), the show focuses on the very strange lives of the inhabitants: their warped obsessions, quirks and relationships. Also notable in that almost all characters are played by one of only three actors: Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith, and Mark Gatiss. (Fourth musketeer Jeremy Dyson is part of the writing team, and is occasionally seen in cameos.)

Came forty-first in Britain's Best Sitcom.

Not to be confused with;
  • The League of Gentlemen, a classic Caper movie from 1960, after which the show's four creators were collectively named.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which also took its name from the above film.
  • The short lived band started by guitarist Robert Fripp that, through some excessively odd reason, share many qualities with this show...

Contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: the Mayor is played by standup Roy "Chubby" Brown, whose real name is Royston Vasey.
  • Aerith and Bob: Chloe & Radclyffe.
  • Affably Evil: Hilary Briss
  • Awful Wedded Life: Charlie and Stella Hull
  • And I Must Scream: The animals in Papa Lazarou's circus, who are really his human victims. They do scream, actually, but no one can hear them...
  • Animal Motifs: Harvey Denton is obsessed with toads, and collects them. He also greatly resembles one, and the interior of the Denton home has a sort of a dull green colour scheme, like a lily pond.
    • Similiarly, Edward and Tubbs Tattsyrup (pictured above) both have piggy noses and live in filth. Tubbs has also been seen breastfeeding a piglet.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Reece actually looks pretty good as Judee Levinson, Stella Hull and Olive Kilshaw.
    • Not to mention Mark Gatiss as Val Denton and Gina Beasley.
  • Bad Santa: You can't get much worse than Papa Lazarou as Father Christmas.
  • Bikini Bar: Flaps In Your Lap, Royston Vasey's 'premier exotic dance centre'.
  • Bitter Wedding Speech: Bad idea choosing Geoff as your best man, Mike...
  • Brother Chuck: None of the Dentons appear in Season 3. We can assume that Benjamin finally escaped from Royston Vasey, but the fate of Val and Harvey is left vague.
  • The Butcher: Hilary Briss, a literal butcher who sells some kind of very illegal and hideously immoral "special stuff".
  • Bilingual Bonus: Dialogue between Herr Lipp, Lotte and Justin at the climax of Lipp's attempts to seduce the schoolboy. Lotte tries to warn Justin about Lipp in German:
    Herr Lipp "Er konnt kein Deutsch. Er ist meine junge."note 
    Lotte "Denn Gott hilfe ihn."note 
  • Buried Alive: The fate of Justin Smart, although he is given a funnel through which to breathe.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: The Book of Wives
  • Call Back/Call Forward: Pop's line about wanting a daughter as well as sons can be seen as a callback to Chloe and Radclyffe's line about Val. Given the twins' implied psychic abilities, and the similar context of both lines, however, it may be that the girls were making deliberate reference to something that hadn't happened yet.
  • Calvin Ball: "Go Johnny Go Go Go Go"
  • Camp Gay: Herr Lip, Keith Drop.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Pop
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Tubbs: "Are you local?"
    • Edward "Hello, hello? What's going on? What's all this shouting? We'll have no trouble here!"
      • Both of the above: "This is a local shop, for local people. There's nothing for you here!"
    • Papa Lazarou: "You're my wife now!" and "Hello Dave!" The former has been subject to Catch Phrase Interruptus.
    • Pauline Campbell-Jones: "Okey-cokey! Pig in a pokey!"
    • Geoff: "You always knew I had this gun!"
    • Pop: "Call me Pop!"
    • Les: "It's a shit business. Glad I'm out of it."
    • Ernest Foot: "Was it something I said?"
    • Christopher Frost: "Chalk 'em up!"
    • Alvin: "Home is the hunter!"
    • Harvey: "In this house, we (completely absurd rule)."
  • Cats Are Mean: Cat enthusiast Dougall Siepp is a scary guy.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Parodied and inverted. Harvey Denton has a peculiar paranoia about walking in on his nephew, Benjamin, and has an entire, Spit Take-inducing collection of Unusual Euphemisms ready. There has never been any concrete evidence of Benjamin actually masturbating.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: Les McQueen tries loudly to claim his failure to become a pop star doesn't upset him, saying "It's a shit business. I'm glad I'm out of it." No-one is fooled.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Mick McNamara claims that an episode of Tom Baker-era Doctor Who was filmed at the Stump Hole caverns. So why does Mick, and approximately one third of the town, look exactly like that guy who played Dr. Lazarus in "The Lazarus Experiment" and wrote the episode "The Idiot's Lantern"? And why does another third of the town so greatly resemble the guy who played Strackman Lux in "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead"? And why does Dougal Siepp so greatly resemble the Ninth Doctor?
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • In Series 2, Herr Lipp was essentially a creep and a sociopath; in the Christmas Special, though still a nasty pederast, he at least shows some compassion and sacrifices himself to save Matthew. By the time we get to the Movie, he is a kind and caring guy (even his turn to violence is intended to save the locals from what he believes to be endless misery) who is incidentally campy, a far cry from the selfish date-rapist he originally was.
    • In Series 1, Val is quite uncomfortable with Harvey's eccentric behaviour, however by Series 2, she seems blithely unaware he's utterly dotty. Maybe she just got better at covering her embarrassment. Also, Val and Harvey seemed to regard Benjamin a bit of a nuisance initially, but by Series 2, were doing everything they could to keep him in Royston Vasey.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Hilary Briss gives these a lot.
  • Chess with Death: The stage show has a man gambling his soul against an ambiguously diabolical figure. However, the devil figure doesn't want to play chess; he wants to play "Go Johnny Go Go Go Go".
  • Christmas Special, complete with Bad Santa
  • Corpsing: Shearsmith, with Pauline, during the live show.
  • Creepy Twins: Chloe and Radclyffe Denton, who also fulfil...
  • Cringe Comedy
  • Comic Trio: Most of the characters are divided into groups of three, mirroring the actors themselves.
  • Continuity Nod: At the end of Season 2 Hilary Briss escapes to the Caribbean. During Season 3, a newspaper headline can be seen declaring "Mysterious Nosebleed Outbreak In Carribean!"
    • Papa Lazarou makes off with Rev. Bernice in the Christmas special. The season three premiere's poster gag is "Have You Seen Our Vicar?"
  • Corrupt Hick: Edward and Tubbs Tattsyrup who also supply some Brother-Sister Incest
  • Cult: Solutions, Inc. in the Christmas Special.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Most episodes of Season 3 focus on previously-minor characters.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Herr Lipp is a spoof of this trope.
  • Dinner and a Show: Does anyone in Royston Vasey eat a meal without an argument? If so, we've never seen it.
  • Dirty Old Man: Pop
  • The Ditz: Mickey, who is clearly mentally disabled.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the Christmas Special, Matthew Parker's denouncement of Herr Lip as a vampire uses the phrase "I know what you are! You're trying to turn me into one of you!" Lip, who isn't a vampire ("I am just a queen!"), is understandably hurt by this.
  • Dumb Is Good: Tubbs is shown to be not entirely responsible for the crimes she commits with Edward, because she is obviously mentally unsound. It's probably genetic.
    • Mickey.
  • Easily Forgiven: In the stage show, Tubbs is forgiven by God and welcomed into the Kingdom of Swansea (long story), but Edward has to go to Hell.
  • Egregious: Rather amusingly for tropers, an argument about this word turns into a punch-up between Pauline and Ross.
  • Eldritch Location: Welcome to Royston Vasey. You'll never leave.
  • Eleventy Zillion: Someone really should tell Tubbs "twelvty" isn't a number, because Edward isn't going to.
  • Emotionally Tongue Tied: Harvey Denton refuses to say "The F word", which is, of course, "frog".
  • Erotic Asphyxiation: Goes horribly wrong and everybody involved dies.
  • Evil Hand: Turns out to be good.
  • Evil Plan: Papa Lazarou's rather complicated machinations involving turning people into circus animals. You'd think it would just be easier to just...get some ordinary circus animals. Presumably he does it For the Evulz.
  • Exposition of Immortality: When Papa Lazarou is going through his Book of Wives in Season Three, some of the photos are clearly old, sepia ones that heavily imply that he's a lot older than he appears. There are more on the wall of his room, too.
  • Eye Scream: Hilary Briss is seen scaring children with a pair of sheep's eyes, which he then eats.
  • Fag Hag: Deconstructed with Tish, who unintentionally offends the hell out of all her fairly Straight Gay friends.
  • Fan Disservice: Tubbs torturing the construction men while dancing around nude "The Road to Royston Vasey."
    • The Denton's Nude Day.
    • Barbara in a wedding dress that exposes her backside.
  • Fat Idiot: Barry Baggs, the debt collector. Also a Big Eater. In the live show "The League of Gentlemen Are Behind You", his idiot status is subverted—and may even have been Obfuscating Stupidity—when he outwits and (in the epilogue) replaces his boss.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Pop disowns his son Richie for failing to prevent a handful of Maverick bars from being stolen from the news stand.
  • Forgotten Birthday: Mike and Brian try and pull this on Geoff. It doesn't end well.
  • Freudian Excuse: The Christmas Special reveals that Rev. Bernice is so cynical and hateful because when she was a little girl, Papa Lazarou kidnapped her mother while dressed as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
  • Freudian Slip: Ollie Plimsoles' wife, Linda, has left him for another woman. And he will never let you forget it, no matter how he tries.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Subverted with kindly, accident-prone vet Mr. Chinnery.
  • Full Name Ultimatum: "Don't you do it, Hilary Briss!"
  • Generation Xerox: In The Christmas Special, we see a bit of Royston Vasey in the 1890s, including Victorian versions of Harvey, Barbara, Chinnery, Pauline, Mickey, and Ross
  • Gender Bender: Barbara the transgender cab driver.
    Barbara: Have you heard what they're saying about the Beast of Royston Vasey?
    Mrs. Levinson: Now, Barbara, people can be very cruel.
  • Grotesque Gallery: Because almost all of the characters are played by the same three actors, a variety of prosthetics are used, some of which are profoundly hideous. Of particular note are Edward, Tubbs, Iris, Harvey, Bernice, Mickey, Vinnie & Reenie, Ally, and Herr Lipp.
  • Happily Married: There are quite a lot of (very odd) people in Royston Vasey who have a blissful relationship with their (even odder) spouse. Edward & Tubbs, and Val & Harvey stand out.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Subverted in the Job Center storyline, when Ross admits no one else knows about his report on Pauline, even adding that all the information is within a single folder he has right there—but Pauline accepts defeat anyway.
    • In the original radio series, this trope was played straight, but the writers gave it a more creative spin for the TV version.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Hilary becomes one of these. He's on the same side as Geoff and Herr Lip, but he's still an amoral killer.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: "that Merrill." Frequently mentioned by Vinnie and Reenie, but never actually appears.
    • David Tattsyrup becomes a The Voice variant after Tubbs and Edward take him back in.
    • "Our Julie", Charlie and Stella Hull's daughter is The Ghost. She's at college or otherwise out every time we see the Hulls. The trope becomes even more justified in the second live show, where it is revealed that she drowned in the bath, ten years previously.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Harvey—or rather hoist by his own pet toad.
  • Homage: Edward frequently references The Wicker Man, and Chloe & Radclyffe obviously parody The Shining. Papa Lazarou's introductory episode features a few quotes from Freaks, and Geoff's subplot in Season 2 parodied Deliverance. In fact, at least one horror movie gets referenced per episode.
  • Hospital Hottie: One of the few times an actual woman appeared on the show was when Al brought home a nurse named Patricia as a date. Unfortunately, Pop ruined everything by loudly talking about how great the film version of Watership Down is, discussing porn, and trying to steal Patricia.
  • Hufflepuff House: The non-League members of Pauline's Restart group.
  • Human Resources: The obvious assumption as to the identity of Hilary's "special stuff", although the creators have Jossed this, pointing out they would never come up with something so unoriginal. It's something even worse...
  • Hypocritical Humour: Ollie tells an audience that he is not going to patronize them, because they aren't children. He then proceeds to explain what "patronizing" means in very... uh, condescending tones.
    • Also, after Chris Frost outlines his Knight Templar security guard policies to a group of recruits, a lot of merchandise falls out of his sleeve.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: "You're my wife now!"
  • I Love the Dead: Mortician Owen Fallowfield puts a bit too much of himself into his work.
  • Incoming Ham: Both Edward and Pauline must announce their presence every time they enter a room.
  • Innocent Innuendo: One scene starts as though Benjamin is being forced to perform oral sex on Harvey. It turns out he's just cleaning a scrub-brush.
    • Another episode has one woman afraid that her doctor is trying to extort sex out of her in exchange for treatment. It turns out that he instead wants to force her to play party games. In a creepy way, though.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: When Pauline is described as a "psychotic fifty year-old lesbian," she only objects to one of those accusations. ("I'm forty-eight!") Although it turns out she's bisexual.
  • Jerk Ass: Ollie Plimsoles
  • Karma Houdini: Papa Lazarou. Hilary Briss escapes, but is eventually killed in The Movie, though for different reasons.
  • Killed Off for Real: Doubly subverted with the Tattsyrups, who appear to be killed at the end of Season 2, but are revealed to have survived at the beginning of Season 3, only to die again, for real this time.
    • Triply! They return for the movie as well, and presumably survive (it's not made clear)
  • Kubrick Stare: Both Hilary and Papa Lazarou give these a lot.
  • Lamarck Was Right: Mr. Chinnery inherits his ancestor's curse.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: after awful restart officer Pauline is sacked, she has to sit through restart sessions of her own, with an even worse one.
    Mickey: Pauline... she's worse than you!
  • Limited Wardrobe: Each character more or less only has one outfit, so you can tell them apart.
  • Laughably Evil: All of the villainous characters. It is a comedy, after all.
  • Little People Are Surreal: Papa Lazarou's circus.
  • All Devouring Black Hole Loan Sharks: Parodied with Mr. Lisgoe and his incompetent collectors.
  • Looks Like Orlok: The true form of the vampire in the Christmas Special. Herr Lip also gets to recreate Orlok's famous staircase scene.
  • Malaproper: Herr Lip, who keeps making not-so-Innocent Innuendo
  • Manipulative Bastard: Edward convinces Tubbs that there is no world beyond the local shop, and even turns her own son against her just to make her stay with him.
  • Meaningful Name: Ernest Foot is always "putting his foot in his mouth", so to speak, and Henry Portrait is obsessed with slasher movies.
  • Monster Clown: Papa Lazarou has some fairly clownish trappings, and runs a Circus of Fear.
  • Mood Whiplash: The ending of the Christmas special.
  • Morality Pet: Mickey for Pauline.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The entire Job Centre plot thread. Includes Internal Affairs, The Mole, Heel-Face Turn, Becoming the Mask, and other things you'd expect to see in a spy movie. Except it's about an unemployment office.
  • Mystery Meat: Hilary Briss' "special stuff", the contents of which are never explained.
  • Neat Freak: Val and Harvey Denton.
  • Nice Guy: Mr. Matthew Chinnery, the worst vet ever. Alvin Steele, the world's most boring swinger.
  • Nightmare Face: Papa Lazarou, full stop. There's a reason he is the image for the Live-Action TV page.
  • No Dead Body Poops: Then again, considering the nature of the film, it's probably for the best.
  • Not a Mask: Papa Lazarou's face. That's his natural skintone.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Papa Lazarou uses this frequently, calling people by the wrong name and flat-out ignoring what people say to him. This is his way of confusing them enough to hand over their personal items (which can sometimes overlap with marriage).
  • Old, New, Borrowed and Blue: Tubbs and Edward have an interesting local variation on this...
  • Only Sane Man: Benjamin Denton is the only sane man in the Denton home. Ross is the only sane man at the Job Centre, although he goes nuts in Season 3.
  • Oop North
    • Parodied in Live at Drury Lane with Legz Akimbo's openly exploitative foray into grown-up theatre.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Except even the audience is fooled, due to Economy Casting. We know that the two characters are played by the same actor, but we think nothing of it.
  • Parental Incest: Hinted at with "a son as well as daughters"/"a daughter as well as sons" in series two.
  • Punny Name: Herr Lipp.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Yeah... cunt."
  • Psychotic Smirk: Hilary Briss does this from time to time.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Papa Lazarou.
    • Hilary Briss describes himself in Season 1 as having spanned "great oceans of time."
  • Recursive Crossdressing: Pauline (Steve Pemberton in drag) attends a Gender Bender Costume Party dressed as Charlie Chaplin.
  • The Reveal: The biggest would probably be the one in the series finale. Keith Drop has an interesting secret.
  • Scary Scarecrows
  • Serial Killer: The Tattsyrups
  • She Is All Grown Up: In the wrongest way possible.
  • Shout-Out
  • Show Within a Show: The plays of the Legz Akimbo theatre troupe...
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Pauline and Ross
  • Slasher Smile: Papa Lazarou and Edward, on occasion.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Pauline's love life.
  • Sound to Screen Adaptation
  • Speaking Simlish: The gibberish language Papa Lazarou sometimes speaks. When other characters play along by babbling, he somehow understands them.
  • Special Guest
  • The Spook: Papa Lazarou.
  • Stage Mom: Noel and Nancy Glass
  • Such A Lovely Noun: "Perhaps you should have paid more attention to her. I know I did."
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: "We didn't burn him!"
    • "I didn't force her!"
  • Take Our Word for It: We never find out what is in Hilary Briss's "special stuff". His surname may be a clue...
  • There's No "B" in Movie: Meaningfully named Harry Portrait and Ally Welles, who are obsessed with horror movies. However, some of the films they watch are quite good, such as The Shining, Alien, and Stephen Loncraine's version of Richard III, starring Sir Ian McKellen. As long as it has killin's, they're happy.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: The end of Season 3 has, among other things, Geoff Tipps finally able to make people laugh. Similarly, the stage show gives Les McQueen a successful solo career, but then he gets electrocuted to death by a microphone before he can sing a word.
  • Tomato Surprise: Iris and Mrs. Levinson are actually mother and daughter. The stage show ups the ante by revealing that they're really father and son.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Basically the premise of the "crime-fighting supercar" skit.
  • Too Much Information: Much of Barbara's shtick is telling people all the details of her operation. Similiarly, Iris tells a few too many things about her and Ron's sex life.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: An angry mob burns down the Local Shop at the end of the second season.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Several secrets.
  • Transparent Closet: Herr Lip reveals to Justin that "I am a queen." Justin pretends to be astounded out of politeness.
  • The Twink: In Season 2, Herr Lip has a crush on a not-quite-legal schoolboy named Justin Smart. In the Christmas Special, he has a similiar crush on a boy named Matthew Parker.
  • Write Who You Know: The Legz Akimbo theatre troupe are based on the League members' experiences in community theatre, and Pauline is based on an actual restart officer Reece Shearsmith had. Papa Lazarou and Pop are Shearsmith's and Pemberton's respective reinterpretations of Peter Papalazarou, a Greek landlord they once shared, who was always unwilling to speak to Reece and would always demand to talk to Steve, even when he wasn't there, hence Papa Lazarou's eternal quest to speak to Dave.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Cathy Carter-Smith, who is even crueller to the jobseekers than Pauline was.
  • The Unintelligible: Pam Doove is like this, but only while acting.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
  • Unusual Euphemism: Harvey Denton has a wide variety of euphemisms for masturbation.
  • Urine Trouble: Tubbs is able to power a van with her urine.
  • Serious Business: The Denton's hygene rules.
  • The Vicar: Bernice Woodall, the world's meanest clergywoman. One imagines there are not many Church of England vicars who have told a parishoner to "piss off home". On Christmas Eve. When said parishioner was in tears.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mama Lazarou is not seen after series 2. Neither are the Dentons.
  • World of Ham
  • Would Hit a Girl: Ross. Though as the 'girl' in question is Pauline, you couldn't really accuse him of being ungentlemanly.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Judith Buckle describes herself as the "glamourous mistress" of Alvin Steele, and seems to think she's a character in a Film Noir. She is, of course, a character in a horror comedy, and calling her a Plain Jane would probably be an insult to Plain Janes.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Any scenes with Chinnery.
  • You Are Not Ready: Hilary Briss' house special.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Alvin Steele, Stella Hull, The Unseen Linda Plimsole

Also see the 2005 film, The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, which contains examples of:

Hi-de-Hi!Series/Britain's Best SitcomI'm Alan Partridge
Lead BalloonBrit ComLet Them Eat Cake
KaBlam!Sketch ComedyLa Caravana
Lead BalloonBritish SeriesThe Legend Of Dick And Dom
Evil EyebrowsImageSource/Live-Action TVThe Butcher

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