in which a team of aliens come to Earth disguised as a human family in order to study mankind. A very similar premise to
, but had enough nutty humor to make up for it. The series lasted from January, 1996 to May, 2001, and featured a total of 139 episodes in six seasons.
. The commander of the aliens is
at nearby Pendleton University. His "sister" Sally is a
going as a teenager, and "the brother" Harry is a... well, technically he's the
Mrs. Dubcek. The more the Solomons view
. Some people think the show stuck with the
, where main character Fry eventually got used to his new surroundings — the main gag of this series remained the same, but can be justified as
. As an added bonus, the series can easily be watched out of order, if you avoid the
of a given season.
- Crying Wolf: Charlotte from "Alien Hunter" did get it right about Dick being an alien, but the F.B.I. wouldn't come close to believing her considering she apparently murdered numerous others she thought were aliens.
- Curse Cut Short: Mary is cut off from fully saying "What the fuck?!" by Dick in "Dial M For Dick".
- Deadpan Snarker: Judith
- Deliberately Monochrome: Sally's dream in "A Nightmare on Dick Street".
- Demoted to Extra: The last season sees Tommy demoted to an occasionally recurring and not very important cast member, partially because he's off to college and thereby separated from the rest of the cast most of the time. The actors playing Nina and Don were listed as regular cast members starting on the third season, but likewise appeared only occasionally on the last season.
- Department of Redundancy Department: From "A Portrait of Tommy as an Old Man":
Harry: It happens, but it's rare. But it happens. But it's rare.
Dick: We shall have no animal products, no animal byproducts, and you shall not buy any animal byproduct or products.
- Then there's Dick not getting people's corrections:
Dick: This is great dip, Mrs. Sumner.
Mrs. Sumner: It's patÚ.
Dick: This is great dip patÚ.
- When Tommy takes over cooking:
Dick: Tommy, you have reinvented the sandwich.
Tommy: Uh, actually, it's a panini.
Harry: Tommy, you have reinvented the panini sandwich.
Tommy: No, no, no. Panini is Italian for sandwich.
Dick: Tommy, you have invented the Italian panini sandwich.
- Die Hard on an X: The screenplay Professor Suter's been working on for the last four years is described as "Die Hard, but in an office building". Dick remarks that they already made that film. Suter replies: "...Up yours."
- Diet Episode: In "Moby Dick", Dick goes on a diet after he starts overeating to deal with the stress of his break-up from Mary. Later we find out Mary is also stress eating.
- Disappointed In You: Parodied when Tommy has to pretend to be a juvenile delinquent to keep up the Masquerade.
- Disguised in Drag: Dick crossdresses to infiltrate a women's discussion group. Possibly another Actor Allusion, as John Lithgow played a transsexual in The World According To Garp (and got an Academy Award nomination for it).
- Harry posed as Ms. Dubcek in "Romeo & Juliet & Dick".
- Distracted by the Sexy: Another group of aliens who all look like attractive women use the characters' hometown to test how effective their beauty is at distracting men as part of their bid to conquer Earth. It's pretty effective.
- Sally is pretty good at this herself, finding her ability to cloud men's minds an upside to being The Woman. Indeed, she later gets recruited by the above mentioned aliens, who mention she has potential, but is unrefined.
- Distracted By The Shiny: Harry promises to carry out a mission dutifully "unless I'm distracted by something shiny." He then spends several seconds watching the light reflect off his watch band.
- Documentary Episode: "The Loud Solomon Family: A Dickumentary".
- Does Not Understand Sarcasm: All the Solomons, but particularly Dick:
Dick: Nina, how did you get this job?
Dick: Wonderful! How can Harry get ahold of a magic lamp?
- Dog Food Diet: A variant occurs in "Proud Dick". Sally brings home cat food for dinner. She doesn't realize it's food for cats, though, and Mary is appalled when she comes over and sees that the Solomons are so poor that they're reduced to eating cat food (Dick had quit his job in the episode).
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: During The Stinger to one episode, Harry and Mrs. Dubcek are watching final Jeopardy and mentally making up words to the tune.
Harry: Thinking thinking, thinking hard! I know what the answer is, I got it! No that can't be I'm so wrong! I'd guess B.D Wong.
Mrs. Dubcek: Thinking thinking thinking hard. What's the use I've burned too many brain cells maybe I'll just fantasize - think of Alex and close my eyes.
- Do Not Pass Go: In "Dick Behaving Badly":
Harry Solomon: Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 and do not, I repeat, do not drop the soap
- Dream Sequence: "A Nightmare on Dick Street". In a subversion of this trope, Dick, Tommy, Harry, and Sally don't realize dreams are normal and think they're all going crazy.
- Drunk with Power: Dick and Sally use every opportunity to acquire and abuse power over others: a protest, a bake sale committee, a labor union, a fraternity - the list goes on. While Dick eventually sees the error of his ways by the end of the episode, Sally doesn't.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first episode has the same set for the attic as the rest of the series, except without the stairs. They also push Mrs. Dubcek to leave through the door that leads to their bedroom. Also, Dick and Mary's office is completely different than the rest of the series.
- Easily Overheard Conversation: In "Dick: Smoker", Sally, Tommy, and Harry are informed by Nina that Dick didn't show up for work today. They are freaked out and move only a few feet away to talk in "private". Nina quickly informs them: "I can still hear you."
- Emotional Maturity Is Physical Maturity: Averted. The actual ages of the aliens don't correspond with the ages of their human bodies, and it shows. Tommy, the oldest of the group, is easily the most level-headed member of the group even though he's physically a teenager.
- Partially enforced by hormones though. Tommy's worst moments usually come regarding his girlfriends.
- Ethical Slut: Dick. He has an active sex life with Mary, and is very open to chat about it, but he won't turn down an offer from someone else if the opportunity arises. A good example of this is in Auto Eurodicka. Dick and Mary are broken up, and after having sex with a woman he met in line at the movies (who later turns out to be one of his student's, Bug's, mother), Dick honestly can't understand why Mary and Bug are upset about it. To him, it's all the same.
- Euphemism Buster:
Sally: He said he wanted to sleep with me. I wanted sex, but seeing as he was tired I decided to just go home.
- Everyone Looks Sexier If French: French Immigrant Michele appears in the second season as Sally's love interest. So great is his French accent that he can make the entire office swoon with the line, "On my foot I have a big painful oozing bleester!"
- One episode had the family trying to decide what ethnicity to be. Dick asked Mary, an anthropologist, what the best ethnic group was. She claimed it was all subjective, but when he asked which ethnicity was sexiest, she immediately responded, "Italians. Smokey, swarthy, gotta have 'em."
- And Harry isn't bad looking either!
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Another alien attempts to turn Earth into Super Monkey World as a tourist attraction.
- Evil Twin: New Dick
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Dick and Harry Fall in a Hole"
- Exact Words: One episode reveals that, shortly after arriving on Earth, Sally filed a protest and asked to be given a male body. Several years later, the Big Giant Head complies...by making Dick and Sally swap bodies.
- Executive Meddling: Kristen Johnston, when discussing the finale, says that network decisions compromised the show's long term potential, indicating that she felt the show might have ended too soon.
- Fanservice: Kristen Johnston and Milton (French) Stewart.
- Fantastic Anthropologist: The Solomons are this to humanity, while Dick's girlfriend Mary is the more conventional kind.
- Fantastic Comedy: Of the Sci-Fi variety.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: In the episode "Dick For Tat," it appears that the episode is going to end in the traditional manner, with all four of them on the roof, after Dick says he just needs to "move on" with his life. Of course, he's kidding himself.
- Fake Pregnancy: When Sally visits a gyneacologist for the first time all the other women there are pregnant, and in order to fit in she claims she's pregnant too - which comes as a shock to her boyfriend since they've never had sex.
- 15 Minutes of Fame: This happens to Sally after she punches out Mark Hamill in a restaurant. When Mary tells a jealous Dick that this is Sally's "fifteen minutes of fame", he interprets it literally and is maddened by her "fifteen minutes" lasting considerably longer than that. It ends after a few days, however, causing Sally to start acting like a White-Dwarf Starlet.
- Five Temperament Ensemble: Dick (phlegmatic), Sally (melancholic), Tommy (choleric), and Harry (sanguine).
- Other characters: Mrs. Dupcek (leukine), Mary Allbright (melancholic), Nina (choleric), Don (phlegmatic), and Vicky Dubcek (sanguine).
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: Gender Bender episode between Dick and Sally, "Two-Faced Dick". Oh noes! Double date tonight!
- Freudian Couch: Dick lays on one during therapy in "A Nightmare on Dick Street".
- Gag Nose: In "Superstitious Dick", Mary tries to explain to Dick that superstitions are pointless, and shows him a long wooden horn, which was worn by a tribe ages ago; they thought the horn would protect them from danger. It didn't work, and the tribe was wiped out. Dick grabs the horn and puts it over his nose, not realizing it's meant to be worn over the genitals. After Mary asks him to take it off...
Dick: Oh, fine. Smells like hell anyway.
- Gag Penis: Dick poses for a nude painting class in one episode. Apparently, he really lives up to his name.
- In the next scene Mary and Nina are gawking at Mary's painting.
<Dick hears her as he walks in>
Dick: Well, hellooo Nina.
Nina: I'll leave you three alone.
- And again when Dick sends Mary a photo album of naked pictures of himself after she has broken up with him, in an attempt to win her back. Even though she had just told him she never wanted to see him again, she is clearly tempted.
- Apparently, Harry doesn't have a problem in this area either.
- Gender Bender: Sally Solomon wasn't female before coming to Earth (whether the aliens have genders, and what they're like is not elaborated on), and initially wasn't pleased at the change.
Sally: Why do I have to be the woman?
Dick: Because you lost!
- Dick has his share of a feminine side, too, especially in the emotions he expresses, including but not limited to, his mood swings. He or Sally equally could play a woman. Perhaps the reason the Big Giant Head chose Dick for the temporary switch with Sally?
- Genius Ditz: Harry. He's described as only filling a seat and it's considered normal for his mind to be a complete blank, but on the other hand, he's a talented painter and he cracked the bar code.
- Genre Shift: A common B story was to have Sally and either Harry or Tommy engage in sudden behavior change. For example, after Sally starts dating a man named Tony The Butcher, Sally starts acting like an Italian mob girlfriend, and Tommy starts behaving like a Goodfella. In addition, most early Sally/Don scenes all were taken straight out of Film Noir.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Every episode has Dick's name in it, resulting in "A Dick Replacement," "My Mother, My Dick," "Shall We Dick," etc.
- "Assault with a Deadly Dick"
- Surely the worst offender is "Gobble, Gobble, Dick, Dick"
- In the same vein, there's "Dick, Smoker".
- Failed for one episode entitled "B.D.O.C.," for "Big Dick on Campus."
- In one episode, Dick takes out a book of madlibs and asks Mary for the name of a person in the room. She responds with "Dick" and after writing it, Dick says "This is funny already."
- After the revelation that the Big Giant Head is Dick's father, Tommy points out that Dick's last name is Head.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: Tommy and Sally do this respectively in order to find out who egged Mary's house on Halloween.
- Dick and Don do this to a perp in "The Physics of Being Dick", despite that Dick's not actually a cop. Amusingly, both can never settle on who will be the good cop and who will be the bad cop.
: (to Dick, who's supposed to be good cop but ends up shouting at the suspect) You're setting the bar too high! Do you know how bad I have to be in order to be bad cop? Real
- A few scenes later they are shown having tried out all the variations they could think of. Good Cop/Good Cop is particularly ineffective.
- Good News, Bad News: Dick once used this phrase when there was no good news.
- Grand Finale: "The Thing That Wouldn't Die" two-parter.
- G-Rated Drug: Dick becomes addicted to collecting Fuzzy Buddies in "Collect Call For Dick". All the classic tropes associated with this genre are spoofed.
- Groin Attack: When a car mechanic who is fixing Sally's car keeps talking to Harry about it instead of Sally, Sally eventually gets the guy's attention by giving him one of these. With a pair of pliers. Which she then forgets to remove. Until she eventually does so with an apologetic little giggle.
- Hate at First Sight: One episode involved Dick getting upset that a cafeteria lady hated him. This is pretty bizarre when you consider how Dick is usually apparently okay with several regular and recurring characters disliking him. In fact, when he got angry that she didn't even hate him for an actual reason, Nina replied "Does she need a reason? 'Cause I can give her reasons."
- Hilarious Outtakes: Included in each season's DVD release.
Harry: I have no idea what I'm supposed to say!
- Human Aliens: They have to be, to disguise themselves from humanity. Apparently, any life-form that gets to Earth through alien technology is turned into human shape, even if originally it was more like a dog in behavior.
- Humans Are Special: Central to the plot of the series, the Aliens have never had to deal with anything close to human feelings before - despite being on "dozens" of missions together on various planets - which accounts for much of their behavior and humor of the series.
- I Ate WHAT?: In "Proud Dick", the Solomons' reaction when they realize they're eating cat food. They seem to have thought they were eating food made from cats not for cats (which they were ok with).
- I Can't Dance: Demonstrated by Sally in "Dick Like Me".
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Generally involving some iteration of "Dick".
- Idiosyncratic Wipes
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Sally has demonstrated many times that men will do whatever she asks, just because of her looks.
Sally: Dick, have you forgotten how hot I am? Beautiful women are accepted at more places than American Express. I could burp the alphabet, and men with PhDs would be asking me to tutor their kids.
- I Have No Son: Said by Dick about Tommy in "World's Greatest Dick".
- I KILL YOU!: When the Big Giant Head first arrives on Earth and begins hitting on Vickie, Harry's first reaction is to smash a beer bottle and lunge at him, while screaming this trope.
- I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: In "The Fifth Solomon", Harry becomes friends with an insurance salesman, who wants to sign him up for insurance. One of the questions he asks is if Harry smokes.
Salesman: No you haven't.
Harry: Yes, I have.
Salesman: No, you really haven't.
Harry: Yes, I really have.
Salesman: Oops, I already marked "no".
Harry: Well, that's unfortunate, 'cause I enjoy the occasional cigar.
Salesman: I didn't hear that.
Harry: (shouting) I said I enjoy the occasional cigar!
Salesman: You don't smoke.
Harry: Hell, I'll smoke that banana right there.
Salesman: (agitated) YOU DON'T SMOKE.
: Ok. I don't smoke. (Beat
) You know, I really do
- Impossibly Delicious Food: A dish that Dr. Neesam makes for Mary, which causes a Double Entendre:
Mary: Mmm!!! This is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth!
Dick: (forlorn) Once again, I come in second...
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Parodied in "Romeo & Juliet and Dick" when Dick learns that he'll be directing the school production of Romeo and Juliet:
Dick: I can see it now on the marquee: "Dick Solomon presents a Dick Solomon production of Dick Solomon's Romeo & Juliet"!
- Incoming Ham: "BEHOLD THE GLORY THAT IS ME!"
- Inflationary Dialogue: Dick's attempts to "subtly" convince Mary that they've known each other for more than three years — triggered by an IRS audit — turn out this way.
- Informed Judaism: The "Solomon" family spends an episode desperately trying to decide what ethnicity they should be; until their landlady mentions offhand that based on their last name she had just assumed they were Jewish and they decide to run with it (never comes up again). Apparently, they just took it off the side of the first truck they saw.
Dick: Who knew Solomon was a Jewish name when we took it off the side of that truck?"
Harry: "Go figure. We could've been the Wal-Marts."
- It does come up again once, when the family tries to kidnap Dick (by putting a bag over his head) just after he has proposed to Mary. He tries to reassure her that the "sacking of the groom" is traditional.
Mary: "What tradition?"
: "I'm going with Jewish."
- In one episode they go to a family reunion of Solomons from Indiana. These Solomons have a family run furniture business which would involve a lot of trucks. So it is possible that these people are their namesake.
- Innocent Aliens: The Solomons.
- Instant Seduction: In "Dick's Ark", Harry is at the check-out lane of the grocery store and asks the clerk if she wants to join him for a party. The clerk is interested and says that she gets off at eight. Harry replies, "No no, the party's at eight. You get off at nine."
- Instrumental Theme Tune
- Insufferable Genius: Dick Solomon.
- Insult Backfire: In "Dickmalion", when Mary decides to leave the elite party:
Mary: You may have your little clubhouse, but none of you are truly happy.
Mr. St. Clair: Actually, we are.
Mary: (thrown for a loop) Oh. Well... some of you are... fat. (leaves)
- I Resemble That Remark: In "Sensitive Dick":
Dick: I've just heard the most upsetting thing. Someone has accused me of insensitivity. (notices Vicki sitting in a chair) You're not family; GET OUT!!
- Irony: In "Dick and the Other Guy", Dick managed to save the earth from Dr. Neesam, who claimed he spared his kind because of how impressed he was with Dick's intelligence, despite that Dick's an alien.
Tommy: Yeah, Dick, we get the irony. It's really pretty obvious.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Mary, twenty years ago. Dick gets ahold of her nude photos from back then and shows them to her.
Mary: Boy, I was a hottie, wasn't I?
- Jerkass Has a Point: Dick on more than one occasion.
- Just Friends: Sally and Don try this in "Dick vs. Strudwick". It doesn't work too well.
- Kavorka Man: Don. With Sally it's understandable, as she's an alien with no knowledge of local standards of beauty (she's actually just attracted to the fact that he's a cop). However, it's played straight as Don has several good-looking ex-girlfriends as well as quite a few karaoke fangirls.
- Kissing Cousins: In the third season premiere, the Big Giant Head tries to make Dick adopt Janet (the BGH's own niece) as his Earth wife. Later on, the Big Giant Head turns out to be Dick's father, making Dick and Janet...
- Also played with in the first episode. Dick expresses frustration at his inability to obtain the sex from Mary (with Mary in earshot) so Sally offers to experience it with him to get it over with (though they aren't actually related, they're supposed to be and it weirds Mary out).
- In "Dick Solomon of the Indiana Solomons", Tommy wants to kiss a girl he meets at the Solomon family reunion, unaware that kissing your cousin is a taboo in America. However, Tommy finds out that she's adopted and uses that as an excuse. Of course, this backfires when the girl is too upset to kiss him, as she was unaware she was adopted.
Tommy: You have no idea how distant we are!
- Lady Drunk: Mary. This actually works to her advantage in "Alien Hunter"... until the two decide to physically knock her out.
- Lampshade Hanging: Characters in late seasons discuss some of the show's oddities. For example, why do the same college students study under Dick for six years? Because they never pass his course.
- Large Ham: Dick. Also, the Big Giant Head, played by none other than William Shatner.
- Harry was this show's equivalent to Cosmo Kramer when it came to combining physical comedy with hamminess.
- John Lithgow routinely hams it up, but then is upstaged by his replacement in the first season finale - a role played by...himself.
- Like Brother and Sister: Of course, Dick and Sally are posing as siblings, but they're actually not. They also display no sexual attraction to one another (and in fact are both repulsed by the idea). However, they seem to have an especially close relationship compared to the other members of the family. In closing scenes Sally can often be seen sitting with her legs over Dick's, in the same chair or in otherwise snuggly fashion on the roof, and their emotional bond seems much stronger than the relationships they have with Harry or Tommy.
- Literal Metaphor: In one episode, Dick is trying to figure out what happens "when the spit hits the fan" by spewing sips of water into a desk fan.
- Locked in a Room: "Stuck With Dick". Dick and Mary are trapped in the school library all weekend with only a bottle of wine and some cheese.
- Harry and Dick get stuck in a hole in "Dick and Harry Fall in a Hole", and in "Dick: Smoker", they also get locked in to a stairwell but is not part of the show but rather a joke.
- Love Triangle: Between Mary, Dick, and Sonja in "Dick and the Single Girl".
- Also seen in "D3: Judgement Day" between Mary, Dick, and Jennifer. Dick realizes that the more lovey-dubby he is with Jennifer, the more Mary wants him back, so he deliberately rides it out with Jennifer, despite the fact that he can't stand her.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: The Big Giant Head reveals that he is Dick's father.
Dick: I don't know who I am anymore!
Harry: Well, your first name is Dick, and your last name is Head...
- The Mafia: As stated in Attack of the Political Ad above, Frank Gansmiller thought Harry Solomon was in the mob after some comments taken out of context:
Frank: What will it take you to drop out of this race?
Harry: Well, don't ask me. I'm not the one who makes the decisions.
Frank: You aren't?
Harry: No, never have, never will. I just sort of follow orders.
Harry: Well, we sort of have a leader.
Harry: The family.
Frank: "The family". Thank you, Solomon. Thank you very much.
- Man Child: Dick Solomon: How someone this immature is High Commander is dumbfounding.
- Meaningful Name: As Don notices in one episode, the three male Solomons are named "Tom, Dick, and Harry".
- In addition, Dick is both a self-absorbed asshole and very ... well-endowed. Fits both definitions of "dick" pretty well, no?
- There's also a Harry and a Sally, which might just be a Shout-Out to a certain movie.
- It's only a nickname, but Sally often calls Mrs. Dubcek "Doobie". In addition to her sordid past and present, we see her in one episode rolling a joint out of Tommy's cilantro only to be disappointed that it's not marijuana. However, she still says it, "beats the hell out of basil."
Mrs. Dubcek: Thinking thinking thinking hard. What's the use I've burned too many brain cells maybe I'll just fantasize - think of Alex and close my eyes.
- Mama Bear: Sally occasionally treats Tommy this way, despite: A) being younger than him, technically; and B) his embarrassment.
Sally: I broke up with Alyssa for you.
Tommy: Why would you do that?!
Sally: She was going to dump you first. I didn't want to see my baby get hurt!
Tommy: I am not your baby!
Harry: (to Dick) When life gives you lemons, you shut up and eat the damn lemons.
Dick: (to Mary) Before yesterday, the thought of another woman held about as much appeal for me as a plate of boiled eggs: Nutritious, yes, but ultimately way too gassy. (Mary looks confused)
- Mildly Military: The aliens are very mildly military. Sally, Tommy, and Harry are extremely insubordinate to their High Commander right from the start of the show. They are apparently bound to obey Dick when he says "That's an order!", but they'll still be openly disrespectful if they think the order is stupid (it often is).
- Mistaken for Gay / Unsettling Gender-Reveal: In one episode, Sally unknowingly dates a gay man who thinks she's a gay, male crossdresser, if not a pre-op transsexual, and breaks up with her when he notices she's not entirely what he expected.
- Dick is also mistaken for gay by one of Mary's former students. Dick misreads his innuendos and thinks that he's found a fellow alien.
- Mistaken for Pedophile: "So suddenly it's a crime for a grown man to hang around the high school taking pictures of young girls." (Harry was trailing August for Tommy as part of a Private Detective parody.)
- Mistaken for Servant: Harry is mistaken for an employee of a hardware store, due to his shirt. He goes along with it. At the end of the episode, Harry announces he's going shopping at Foot Locker, while wearing a striped shirt.
- Mondegreen: Invoked in "Dickmalion" when Dick recounts his night of schmoozing with the upper class:
Dick: It was awful. I spent two hours talking to someone about Cornish gay men.
Nina: Don't you mean "Cornish game hen"?
Dick: That's what I said: "Cornish gay men"; aren't you listening?!
- Mood-Swinger: Dick
- Also Sally in "Sex and the Sally", after she gets on the birth control pill.
- Naked Apron: First referenced by Sally and Ms. Dubcek, then later performed by Harry in "Dick and the Other Guy". Ms. Dubcek gives Sally a piece of advice to woo Don: Make some eggs for breakfast while in the buff.
Sally: Doesn't the grease splatter all over your boobs??
- Name's the Same: In "See Dick Run", evil Dick re-names Harry, Sally, and Tommy to all being named Tommy.
- Near Death Experience: Sally, Tommy, and Harry experience this in "Near Dick Experience" when a chandelier falls on a table that they would've been sitting at had the waiter not relocated them. Dick becomes jealous that the three are now seeing life through awakened eyes (that is, they're not taking things for granted), and becomes desperate to have his own near death experience.
- Neural Implanting: "Incoming message from the Big Giant Head..."
- New Year Has Come: "Happy New Dick!"
- No, Except Yes: In "Dick and the Other Guy", Ms. Dubcek suggests that if Sally wants to know what's going on with Don, to spy on him.
Sally: You mean stalk him?
Ms. Dubcek: No, no..... disguise yourself and follow him around.
- Noodle Implements: The Big Giant Head once threatened to have Dick sent to Mars. At first, Dick doesn't think that would be so bad, before the Big Giant Head clarifies "not THAT Mars!" and Dick immediately becomes horrified.
- An earlier episode had Dick order Sally to "assemble the giant robot", to which Sally responds they didn't bring it because they had to make room for his exercise equipment. There's also mention that they've got human body parts stored in the freezer in case of an emergency.
- There's a running gag that somewhere in the galaxy, Jell-o's are incredibly dangerous creatures; occasionally they recieve molds as gifts or see them at parties, and they usually cower behind something until Sally, as security officer, kills it, usually by stabbing it. In Dick's nightmare in "A Nightmare on Dick Street", he is attacked by a massive wall-sized one, which may be what they're afraid of—although as malicious as it is, it still has bits of orange and pineapple imbedded in it.
- Noodle Incident: When reminiscing, the aliens talk about a rather humorous memory that is never elaborated upon, which also provides the title for the two-part ending episode:
Dick *Very cheerful*: And we hit it, and hit it, and hit it
Everyone: AND IT JUST WOULDN'T DIE! Ahahaha... ah...
- Most of what Ms. Dubceck says is a reference to some past sexual escapade. Thankfully, the other characters don't pry.
- Not Blood Siblings: All three male Solomons show sexual interest in Sally.
- Of Corpse He's Alive: In "Romeo & Juliet & Dick", Ms. Dubcek unknowingly drinks a potion that Tommy made for the school play of Romeo and Juliet which causes the person to pass out and appear dead. In one scene, the Solomons hang Dubcek's body out the window, moving her limbs and providing her voice. Eventually, they ditch that and just decide to dress Harry up as Dubcek, since people will be seeing her up close.
- Older Than They Look: Tommy is the oldest alien, and acts Alter Kocker when he decides to retire and give up on acting his human age for an episode.
- He also hams up the Alter Kocker when, in the final season, they learn that their mission is at an end. The others point out that he always 'acts old' when they reach the end of the mission, but he actually takes the end of the mission much harder than initially suggested, breaking down during their going away party, a reaction he apparently hasn't had before.
- Omniglot: The Solomons seem to have learned every Earth language in preparation for their trip, or at least a couple dozen. Dick reads a newspaper in a different language almost every episode. When they got cable, they switched to a Spanish-speaking channel and all started speaking Spanish — until they realized what they were doing.
- They can also speak (at least some) animal languages. For instance, in the second season episode about thanksgiving, Dick hears turkeys on television. He later tells the others that the turkeys were talking about an apocalypse (What made this more hilarious was the reporter on tv earlier jokingly saying that the turkeys seemed to know what was headed their way). In a season one episode, Harry has a conversation with a dog.
- This may be an unidentified form of Neural Implanting: in one episode Harry and Dick are locked in a stairwell together for over a day, during which Dick begins talking to his 'inner voice'. In a throw-away line, Harry says his inner voice began speaking to him too, but he didn't know what it said because he doesn't speak French. Obviously it was just intended as a one-line joke, but if one ponders it, it probably means that Harry has the French language stored somewhere in his brain, he just can't access it.
- However, this theory is also somewhat damaged by the fact that in a Battle of Wits between Dick and Tommy, they show off using their language skills. ( Tommy wins, apparently having mastered all the languages Dick challenges him with, and correcting Dick's faulty grammar.)
- It's also an Actor Allusion, given that Harry is played by French Stewart.
- Once an Episode: Sitting on the rooftop to close out the episode.
- Not quite once an episode, but Harry does receive a message from the Big Giant Head fairly frequently. It's regularly used as a plot device to kick off the episode's hijinks.
- Once a Season: The Solomons' identity as aliens is revealed to somebody about once every season, but the context makes the reveal incredulous, and later ignored.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: "Tommy, do you doodle?" (Tommy looks nervous)
- Once Killed a Man with a Noodle Implement: "I should warn you that I have killed men with everything from a steak knife, to a penny dropped from a skyscraper!"
- One Scene, Two Monologues
- Only Sane Man: As the core cast is so insane, an outsider is often needed for the job. Initially, it was Mary - until she was developed as pretty quirky herself. Then it was August, Tommy's first girlfriend, during her run with the show. Later, Don often played the part, especially in conversations with Sally where she takes up some ludicrous position about their relationship. He doesn't tell her she's wrong when it plays to his advantage.
- Opening Narration: The first season only.
: As many intelligent people know, aliens are all around us. This is the story of four such explorers. To blend in, they've assumed human form. This is the High Commander. He has assembled an elite team of experts; a decorated military officer, a seasoned intelligence specialist, and, well, they had an extra seat. (what follows is a Couch Gag
- Or So I Heard: In "Much Ado About Dick", the priest says, "Women." Dick and Suter stare at him, and the priest adds, "...Or so I heard."
- Ping-Pong Na´vetÚ: The aliens' understanding of Earth frequently changes according to the Rule of Funny.
- Plank Gag: Happens no less than five times in succession in a scene.
- Playing Against Type: Before landing the part of Dick, John Lithgow tended to be most visible in movies as Ax-Crazy Psychos For Hire.
- And after that, he decided to become a children songs artist.
- Practical Joke: "Tricky Dick" had Dick and Mary playing pranks on each other throughout the episode.
- Prima Donna Director: Dick becomes one almost immediately in "Romeo and Juliet and Dick" when he directs the high school version of the play.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Sally becomes one to Mary in "The Physics of Being Dick", at the advice of Nina, who says that correcting Mary will only make Mary upset. The butt-kissing backfires when Sally doesn't catch numerous mistakes in one of Mary's speeches and she makes a fool of herself.
Sally: It's just so intimidating to work for-
Mary: Say it. A BITCH?!
Sally: No, a genius! (Mary is flattered once again)
- Psycho Ex Boyfriend: Vicky Dubcek's jealous ex, Randy (The late Phil Hartman), abducts Harry and sells him to a Circus.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend applies also to Sally, especially with the early men she dates. She's aggressive, domineering and obsessive, which drives a few men away before she meets Don.
- Raging Stiffie: It's insinuated that Tommy got one from the music teacher in "Fourth and Dick", since he's reluctant to stand up when she calls on him.
- Really Gets Around: Ms. Dubceck, Mary before she met Dick (to her continuing embarrassment) and Harry, who occasionally veers into Anything That Moves territory and has to be forcibly stopped from french kissing any female within reach.
- Reset Button: Almost anything other than couples breaking up or getting back together that comes up in a plot is ignored the very next episode. In particular, in The Loud Solomon Family: A Dickumentary, life-changing lies and real secrets about the Solomons are revealed to everyone who knows them, and nobody mentions any of it afterward.
- Rearrange the Song: Starting in season 5. The theme was also remixed in the two-parter "Dick'll Take Manhattan".
- Rogue Juror: "Eleven Angry Men and One Dick"
- Romantic Rain: Sally and her would-be policeman boyfriend go for what he really hopes will be a romantic walk in the rain. Subverted, because she just finds it boring, tedious, wet and uncomfortable, and gets annoyed with him.
- Rule of Three: In "Sensitive Dick", Nina telling the disciplinary committee three times that Dick's "warm, kind, and a credit to Pendleton State", no matter the question asked.
- In "Why Dickie Can't Teach", Tommy hugs Mary and then tries to grab her ass, which she doesn't allow. Later, Dick tries the same technique on Mary. Finally, at the end of the episode, Dick hugs Tommy and both try the same thing on each other.
- Running Gag:
- In "Dick Solomon of the Indiana Solomons", either Uncle Abe or Harry starting a sentence with, "Don't get me started on..."
- In "Y2dick", Tommy and Sally declaring "PACK IT UP! This piece of crap's going back!" when they're dissatisfied with their home theater system.
- The aliens don't like jello: they think it's a vicious alien they encountered on another planet. Whenever they see it, they go into a screaming fit and either cower in fear or try to destroy it.
- Up until he got his haircut, the other Solomons would constantly point out how Tommy looked like a girl.
- Sarcastic Confession: After its become obvious that the family is hiding some big secret in the Documentary episode, Tommy snaps and reveals the truth: Dick isn't really his father.
- Sassy Black Woman / Sassy Secretary: Nina.
- Scenery Censor: Played with in an episode where Harry walks around naked in the kitchen, while people in the foreground "coincidentally" move objects in the line of view of his crotch in perfect synchronization with his movements.
- Season Fluidity: More towards the "fluid" category, due to most every episode being a stand-alone plot that can be watched independently, but there is continuity, especially in the romantic relationships. Example: Dick and Mary are broken up? You're watching a season 3 episode. Sally and Don are broken up? You're watching a season 4 episode.
- Also, Tommy's shortened hair.
- Secret Identity: At various times, Mary and the university staff have interpreted Dick's elusiveness about his past as him being either a political activist on the run from the feds, a secret agent, or a serial killer \ terrorist.
- Serious Business: Fuzzy Buddies
- Sex for Solace: Sally and Don have sex (repeatedly) in "Dick vs. Strudwick", despite being technically broken up.
- Sexy Coat Flashing
- Shaped Like Itself: In "Sensitive Dick":
Judith: After much deliberating, this court has decided to admonish Dr. Solomon.
Dick: What does that mean?
Judith: You're officially admonished.
- Ship Tease: Harry and Nina got some adorable moments together.
- Shout-Out: Numerous ones over the seasons.
- There are a few relating to Jane Curtin's role as Primat in Coneheads, the most obvious one being when they ran into Coneheads cosplayers at a sci-fi convention.
- As well as an episode where she makes everyone watch a tabloid show about Susan Saint James.
- When the Big Giant Head first appears on Earth, he and Dick commiserate about their shared experience of seeing something on the wing of their craft and nobody believing them; William Shatner and John Lithgow had both played the protagonist role in The Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare At 20,000 Feet" and its remake from Twilight Zone: The Movie, respectively.
- The Solomons all know Dennis Rodman, a fellow alien. When he shows up, they share their disbelief that Earth hasn't figured it out.
- Shall We Dick has a shout out to "Cinderella". Harry wishes he could go to the big dance contest, only he can't find his shoes and he's covered in soot from looking for them. The other three start uproariously mocking him for wanting to go because he's "dressed in rags" and dirty. Mrs. Dubcek, conveniently dressed in an all white, sequined number and waving around a cigarette holder, tells Harry he can still go to the dance if he really wants too. Harry mentions he doesn't have a car or clothes, and then Dubcek says "well Harry... I guess you're screwed."
- There's also an accidental shout out, in that Harry's covered in soot, making him "Dirty Harry".
- "Fifteen Minutes of Dick" becomes a parody of Sunset Boulevard, complete with "It's the pictures that got small!" reference.
- "Stuck With Dick" features a parody of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
- "Citizen Solomon" contains, surprisingly enough, a Whole Plot Reference to Citizen Kane. Tommy is Kane himself, Alissa is Susan Alexander, August is Jedediah Leland, and the principal is Mr. Thatcher. The parody isn't evident unless you've seen the film as it's based on a portion of the movie which is not often parodied and is thus outside the Popcultural Osmosis of the film's more famous scenes.
- "Gwen, Larry, Dick & Mary"'s subplot eventually becomes a parody of Judge Judy.
- "Land... it's the only thing that matters.", "Dick, that's just dirt from the backyard."
- The episode The Loud Solomon Family: A Dickumentary could possibly be a reference to the 1970's PBS documentary "An American Family", starring a family whose last name was in fact "Loud".
- A lot of shoutouts to Rebel Without a Cause in Father Knows Best, in which Harry shouts "You're tearing me apart!" followed by his search for self (which ends in an agreement to a drag race with the boyfriend of a girl he meets at the bar).
- "A Nightmare on Dick Street Part 1" featured a parody of Chinatown.
- Sick Episode: The second episode of the show, "Post Nasal Dick", features the entire Solomon family getting a cold. Dick fights it, though, so he can attend a wedding with Mary.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Despite some hitches, Dick is really only attracted to Mary.
- When Mary asks Dick if he had sex with another woman, he answers: "No! I only do that with you!"
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Dick has one in Dr. Vincent Strudwick. Oddly enough, Strudwick appeared a few times earlier in the show, and during those episodes, he wasn't portrayed in such a manner.
- Season 4 had Lucy, the lunch lady who charged Dick, and only Dick, extra for crackers. Lucy later became Mary's assistant, much to Dick's dismay.
- Sitting on the Roof: Pretty much every episode ends this way, and it happens during the episode on occasion too.
- Six Is Nine: Parodied.
Harry: "Dick, I've lost all feeling in the left side of my body. [looks at can upside down] Could somebody please call "1-1-6"?
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: A sequence in the first episode between Dick and Mary.
- Slapstick: occasionally features on the show, with one scene involving hitting Harry on the head with a pan half a dozen times.
- The Sleepless: Don in "Charitable Dick"; Sally shares his bed and her snoring keeps him up at night. However, even the solution of Sally staying awake all night doesn't work, as she keeps inadvertently making noise.
- Snowed-In: "Frozen Dick"
- Speed Sex: Demonstrated when Dick loses his virginity to Mary in "See Dick Run":
Dick: (after sex) Ohhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!...Oh Dr. Albright, that was the greatest thirty seconds of my life.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Tommy and Alissa become this when it's revealed that Alissa's last name is Strudwick (see Sitcom Arch-Nemesis above).
Dick: (walking by as Tommy and Alissa are about to kiss) Get your lips off that Strudwick.
- Starfish Aliens: We never get to see the Solomons' true forms, but what little we hear about them sounds positively Lovecraftian.
- The only consistent detail is that they are purple tubes. Or at least a major part of them is a purple tube. Presumably, they must have some kind of head, as their ruler has (Or is) a Big Giant one.
- Or he could be the Big Giant Head of the organization, not literally have a big head.
- Stepford Smiler: In one episode, the Solomons decide they need to be more "normal" and so they strive to become as average as possible. They end up being this trope, especially Sally.
- Sally also tries to do this to please a boyfriend, but breaks down quickly, going from pleasantly saying, "I don't know, you decide," to screaming it in his face.
- The Snark Knight: August Leffler.
- Springtime for Hitler: Looking to punk Tommy, Dick suggested he play a prank on the dean, claiming it's a Rutherford tradition. Tommy glues the Dean's furniture to the ceiling. To Dick's unction, the Dean gives kudos and reminisces about his own past pranks.
- Straw Affiliation: The episode "Dick the Vote" included this subversion:
Mary: Hecky Mulligan! How can you vote for Hecky Mulligan? Nina, can you believe that?
Nina: How do you know I'm not voting for Mulligan?
Mary: I thought you were a Democrat.
Nina: And why do you think I'm a Democrat, because I'm black?
Mary: Go ahead, vote for Mulligan!
Nina: I'm not voting for Mulligan!
- Straw Vegetarian: Dick Solomon becomes one of these as a Compressed Vice, reverting to his normal meat-eating ways at the end of the episode.
- Subverted Suspicion Aesop: In "Two-Faced Dick", Harry and Tommy are suspicious of a tough-looking gang who keeps ordering drinks. Ms. Dubcek tells them that they shouldn't judge people by how they look, and Harry and Tommy decide to apologize to the gang for it. Immediately after they apologize, the gang tells them to open up the cash register. Amusingly, instead of being terrified, Harry and Tommy are overjoyed that they were right all along about their first impression.
- Sustained Misunderstanding: From "Superstitious Dick", when Dick inquires about throwing out a chain letter:
Dick: Can any of you come up with a reasonable scenario in which throwing out a piece of mail would result in having your ribs broken by a floor waxer?
Harry: Absolutely: Guy who was waxing the floor thought that you were throwing out his paycheck.
Dick: No, the guy with the waxer knew nothing about it.
Tommy: Well then why are we throwing out his paycheck?
Dick: No, there was no paycheck.
Sally: No paycheck?! Well no wonder the waxer dude went psycho on you.
- Swapped Roles: Harry and Sally switch jobs in "Same Old Song and Old Dick".
- A crazier example: "Two-Faced Dick". Dick and Sally end up switching bodies (due to a delayed answer to a request Sally gave when she first arrived on the planet that she wanted to be a man), which forces them to adjust their personalities so they don't lose Mary and Don, respectively.
- The Tag: Starting with season 2, there was an additional scene over the closing credits. It more or less stopped starting in season 5, though, likely due to network promos being run over the credits instead.
- Talk to the Hand: From Harry. He learned it from Nina, who encouraged him to do this if Dick (Harry's boss in that episode) got in his face with unreasonable demands.
- That Came Out Wrong: In "The Great Dickdater", Don and Dick go on a double date. Dick starts telling the two girls about models, to which the girls sarcastically ask why every guy wants to date models. Dick replies he was talking about model trains, after which the girls apologize. Dick then remarks: "If I had a model, why would I be here tonight?" He instantly realizes what he said could be taken the wrong way and apologizes.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Sally, as the mission's no-nonsense, militaristic, security officer frequently discusses needing to kill anyone who may expose their secret, but never actually hurts or threatens anyone on these grounds. Admittedly, that would be very wrong for the show's light tone.
- Title Please
- Three-Dimensional Episode: "A Nightmare on Dick Street".
- Too Dumb to Live: Harry. One of the earliest episodes of the series involves him taste-testing various house hold liquids to find out which are toxic. Guess what, he finds out, and asks the family to call poison control because the left side of his body is numb.
- Too Much Information: Dick provides this all too often. Examples:
Dick: (to his class) Let's just say... I had sex with Dr. Albright.
Dick: (to Mary) I'm not wearing any panties.
- In "Power Mad Dick", Dick thinks it's only fair that Sally tell the family every detail of her sexual encounter with Don, since he did such a thing when he had sex with Mary, even after everyone begged him to stop.
- Trust-Building Blunder
- Turn Out Like His Father: From "Dick Solomon of the Indiana Solomons":
Aunt Florence: (after Dick gets into a fight with Jacob) You're sounding just like your father!
Dick: Damn straight, Aunt Florence! Damn straight!
- Two Lines, No Waiting: The usual format for the show.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Sally and Don. Played with in that Sally has no idea Don is supposed to be ugly (despite the fact that he's played by Wayne Knight), and finds his power as a police officer sexy (Despite the fact that he has almost no real power). This becomes even more hilarious in a later episode, where Sally convinces herself she's ugly while still seeing Don as the hottest man on the planet.
- The first time she sees him without his uniform though, she doesn't recognize him. When he insists it's really him, she blows him off, but is instantly attracted to him again when he comes to confront her in-uniform. They both figure out what's going on and Don proposes a solution: he always wears his uniform around her.
- This changes as time goes on; she begins to find other aspects of him sexy aside from the uniform (though generally situations in which he is "powerful" somehow - when he was a bouncer, or a karaoke star). She also comes to respect him more when he asserts himself over her shallowness at times, and in the end she cares about him even as she realizes he's an ineffectual coward, teaching him how to be a strong police officer before she leaves the planet.
- Un-Confession: Used several times over the course of the series with the Solomons admitting they were aliens, though of course it never carried any consequences past the episode in question.
- The end of the "Dickumentary" episode has all the False Confessions the family has made (Sally is a lesbian, Tommy is a bed-wetter, Harry is an alcoholic, etc) revealed as lies, making it obvious that they are actually trying to hide something. Fed up with the bickering and fighting, Tommy offers to reveal their big secret: Dick isn't his real father, they aren't even biologically related.
- Unexpectedly Obscure Answer: Averted in "Dick Behaving Badly", the answer to Dick's charades is "Two celestial bodies of equal mass sharing a single gravitational field will exhibit identical rotational properties for as long as their inertial integrity is maintained." Dick's physics friends are able to correctly guess in very short order.
- The Unfair Sex: When Dick Solomon (or other male character) screw something up in a relationship, they get their comeuppance most of the time and rightly so. On the other hand when Vicki, who not only was in a loving/(lusting?) relationship with Harry but were trying to have a child together, sleeps with, gets knocked up by and marries another man, nobody seems to be fazed by it (not even Harry)
- Possibly justified because the man who knocked her up was their leader, The Big Giant Head and nobody wanted to say anything and risk pissing him off.
- The Unreveal: We never find out what the aliens' real forms look like.
- Something about a purple tube. Any further descriptions made only make it weirder. Further confused by the time Dick mentions they came to Earth in a spaceship that could fit in his pants-pocket.
- And apparently they were disappointed that as humans they could no longer lick their backs. Harry was surprised to find that eyelids have to be operated manually, and initially they're all weirded out by how many holes they have in their heads.
- Not only that, but just why are they so afraid of Jell-O?
- Or snow?
- Jello looks like some sort of alien monster that tried to eat them and snow looks like brain eating parasites. They mentioned it in "Selfish Dick" and "Frozen Dick", respectively.
- Harry: They're here! They're here! Albino brain chiggers! COVER YOUR EARS!
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Everyone, really, and increasingly so as the show goes along. Dick, Mary, and (mostly in the later seasons) Sally are the most obvious examples, but Harry and Tommy have had their Jerkass moments too. As John Lithgow points out, they could get away with really outrageous things under the pretense of "they're aliens, so they don't know any better." Note how Mary, who doesn't have that excuse, never really crosses the line of normal sitcom character behavior.
- Unusual Euphemism: "I'm going to go in there... and put my feet... in her purse."
- Explanation: Dick's evil replacement asked Sally to explain to him what the "it" Mary was referring to was. Rather than telling him about sex, she apparently told him that the above quote is what drives women crazy.
- Variations On A Theme Song
- The Theme song was replace with a version by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy during season 5. In season 6, they returned to the original theme.
- Alternate versions were used during Christmas episodes
- In Season 6, a alternate jazz version of the song was used for the two-part episode
- Wacky Guy: Harry Solomon.
- Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: One episode involved Harry and Tommy finding a wallet; when they returned the wallet to the person, they were irritated that they didn't get a reward. So they devised schemes to get the guy to pay up.
- Waxing Lyrical: In one episode, Dick said: "Fame, I want to live forever! Light up the sky like a flame, FAME!"
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: The family apparently wins the lottery every time, but tears up the tickets and just enjoys the fun of playing the lottery.
- It's unknown whether this is because this qualifies as a 'global change' (Similar to blowing up the Earth), or they simply don't know that the lottery actually involves money. Likely the second.
- Written-In Absence: Tommy wasn't around much in the final season since he had gone off to college. As had Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: In "Proud Dick", Dick quits his job at the university over a parking space dispute. Sally asks why Dick got "meshugenah" over something that petty.
- Dick's "wife," Janet, spent her entire trip to Earth studying The Joy of Cooking, The Joy of Sex, and The Joy of Yiddish.
- You Are the New Trend: Dick's Salute Dance, in a gay bar, no less.
- You Can't Handle The Parody
Dick: You want the truth? You want the TRUTH!? Well I can't handle the truth!
- You Will Be Spared: As Dick's evil replacement was assessing Dick's class, he tells Leon that he will be spared and made to carry heavy loads.