Series / Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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She was kidnapped by a sexually abusive cult leader. She was trapped in a bunker for years. Now she's out, and she's looking for... a job and a boyfriend!
Honest Trailers on this show

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a television show produced exclusively for Netflix. Created by Tina Fey and starring Ellie Kemper, its first season aired in 2015; a second season was ordered before the first season was ever uploaded.

After spending the last 15 years trapped in a subterranean Apocalypse Cult, Kimmy Schmidt and her three "sisters" are rescued by a SWAT team and return to the surface. Shocked to find that the world has, in fact, not ended as their cult's leader had told them, they become known across America as "the Mole Women". After an interview in Manhattan, Kimmy decides not to return to Indiana with the other girls. With nothing but a purple backpack, a middle school education, and an unbreakable spirit, she tries to make a life for herself in the Big Apple. Kimmy's larger-than-life roommate Titus, eccentric landlord Lillian, and wealthy employer Jacqueline help her out along the way.


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: In the first season, Xan swears to learn the secrets of Kimmy's past and reveal them in order to get her fired. This storyline goes for a few episodes, but nothing much comes of it as Xan is made to go live with her father, she never finds anything out, Kimmy tells Jackie about her past on her own, and after the divorce, Kimmy loses her job as the nanny anyway. Then Season 3 acknowledges that anyone could find out just by looking up her name on Google and it's revealed Xan found out a long time ago and it's hinted that she felt sorry for Kimmy. Xan admitted that she has been nice to her ever since, although going by her standards, it's hard to notice.
  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Double Subverted. Jacqueline assumes that her husband has cheated on her during a long business trip with a woman named Yuko. However, Yuko turns out to be an anthropomorphic robot that he funded. When they go to couples therapy to resolve their issues, Jacqueline realizes that he had actually cheated on her with their therapist.
  • Adult Fear: Adults kidnapping teens, casual racism and sexism, Kimmy wandering into strange men's vans, Stockholm Syndrome and PTSD are all Played for Laughs. This is Tina Fey after all.
  • A.I. is a Crapshoot: Played With. Yuko is initially benevolent, but learns what anger and revenge are after Titus and Jacqueline try to murder her.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Exploited by Jacqueline, who tries to use this, talcum powder, and knowledge of her husband's foot fetish to expose his affair and humiliate him at a dinner party. Zig Zagged, in that it doesn't work, and it isn't clear until the end of "Kimmy Goes To A Party!" that he's actually having an affair. Presumably, it's also why the infidelity clause in the Voorhees' prenuptial agreement only applies to Jacqueline.
  • All Women Love Shoes: Played with in the first episode. Her first day in New York, Kimmy is taken aback by a Chanel display in a store window. In the next cut she's happily leaving the store in a pair of colorful light-up sneakers.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents:
    • Kimmy's stepfather is a slack-jawed moron, which is all the more alarming given that he's a law enforcement officer.
    • Subverted by Jacqueline's parents, who are perfectly normal people, but she's ashamed of them simply because they're Lakota natives. After Jacqueline clumsily embraces her Lakota heritage (or what she imagines it to be) and goes to live with them, her parents start to regard her as an Amazingly Embarrassing Child.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Lillian Kaushtupper, played by the Jewish Carol Kane. In one episode, when asked to stall for time, she starts telling the history of Israel. In another episode, she references her ancestors being driven out of various countries before coming to America, which sounds like they were Jewish, but then she reveals that it was because they had sex with cows. Her name is mangled Yiddish for "cow-fucker."
  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: In "Kimmy Goes to Church!" Titus and Jacqueline both try to pull it off, forgetting that they made it clear from the start of the story.
  • Angry Black Man: Titus pretends to be one while getting the Voorhees family pipe back from Xanthippe's friends. When they respond with confusion, he shouts, "What did you call me?" and charges at them.
  • Apocalypse Cult: Rev. Wayne kept the kidnapped women in the bunker by claiming that the world was undergoing an Apocalypse. Three of the four have their doubts, while one is a true believer.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In Episode 11 the News Reporter mentions Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne is on trial for kidnapping, lying to Census worker, and leaving Christmas lights up way too long.
  • Artistic License – University Admissions: Lampshaded. When the Columbia crew coach abruptly offers Kimmy admission to the school and an athletic scholarship the Dean tries to point out that the Ivy League doesn't offer athletic scholarships, but he gets cut off and bullied into doing it anyway.
  • Art Shift: Kimmy's happy place from "Kimmy Goes to Her Happy Place!" is a Disney-esque cartoon meadow.
  • Ascended Extra: Mikey the closeted construction worker has all of two brief scenes in the first season, then becomes a series regular in the second season. Doubles down the trope, as the same actor appeared in 30 Rock, playing an identical character.
  • As Himself: Robert Osborne at the end of "Kimmy's in a Love Triangle!" Funnily enough, he'd dabbled in acting back in the '60s before realizing it wasn't his calling.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Titus's advice to Kimmy is that the key to making it in New York is to act like you belong. This method (and some French-sounding gibberish) gets the two of them a table at a fancy restaurant and, apparently, allowed Titus to briefly play Gordon on Sesame Street.
  • The Beard: Titus has a wife that he left behind to make it big in New York. After he goes viral, she locates him in Durnsville, Indiana.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: After having failed to get a job as a street-crosser due to being still legally married to Reverend Wayne, Kimmy manages to get a job at a successful startup, founded by her ex-classmate from Columbia who just dropped out from there, because she was the only one who was nice and talked to him.
  • Berserk Button: Jacqueline doesn't take any suspected slight against her appearance well.
    Kimmy: You need to listen to your gut.
    Jacqueline: I don't have a gut, you motherf-
    Kimmy: You need to listen to your intuition!
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Lillian's ancestors were driven out of country after country... for their affinity with cows. They are, after all, the Kauschtuppersnote .
  • Betty and Veronica: Dong is Betty and Logan is Veronica.
  • Big Applesauce: Most of the show takes place in Manhattan and exploits it heavily. Kimmy was taken to be on Today on NBC and decided to stay in the city to try and carve out a new life. Titus aspires to sing on Broadway, and most of Jaqueline's material revolves around being a sheltered Park Avenue wife. Lillian has never left the island.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Russ and Jacqueline share one in the second season finale, when he realises that unlike most people he's met, she actually cares about something.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Big time.
    Vera: [after Kimmy rings the doorbell at the Voorhees'] Miss Jaqueline? Aquí una chica que se parece a la de Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers note .
    (And later)
    Kimmy: [to herself] It's OK, Kimmy. You can do this job. Right, Vera?
    Vera: I don't know, Chica Hamburguesanote , I don't know.
    • Cyndee's last name, Pokorny, is the Russian word for "obedient" or "submissive."
  • Black Comedy: The show occasionally touches upon the horrific implications of four women being trapped underground for 15 years by a manipulative man. But, for the most part, it is an overwhelmingly positive show thanks to Kimmy's enthusiasm and positive nature.
  • Black Like Me:
    • In "Kimmy is Bad at Math!", Titus begins wearing his werewolf makeup normally after he finds that people treat him better as a werewolf than they do as a black man.
    • Played With for Jacqueline, who is actually a Native American with dyed hair, colored contact lenses, and lighter-toned makeup that make her appear white.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Attempted by the owner of the store Titus rents his Iron Man costume from, who tries to pass off his unlicensed, copyright-violating Iron Man, Hello Kitty, and Cookie Monster costumes as those of "Metal Hero Friend," "Aloha Cat," and "Treat Creature."
    • Buhbreeze, a riff on Febreze. One episode includes several commercials making fun of Febreze commercials featuring blindfolded people in a disgusting room.
    • SpiritCycle, fictional counterpart to SoulCycle.
    • Season 3 has the real-life designer brands spoofed, such as "Alexandorp McKing", "DKNI", and "Johnny Choon".
    • "Duane Wayne" drug store plastic bags also appears.
  • Body Horror: Doctor Grant has gone through so many cosmetic procedures that his face is a tight, misshapen mess that prevents him (or her, it's actually hard to tell) from speaking properly. People pronounce his name "Franf" because that's what it sounds like he's saying.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Jacqueline's attempts to pass as Caucasian leads her to say things that demean her Lakota heritage.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Jacqueline's parents, Lakotas from South Dakota, have some traditional Native American flourishes in their wardrobe, including leather jackets and bead jewelry. This emphasizes the cultural barrier between her and them.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter:
    • Subverted in Xanthippe's case, as she seems to be mostly pretending to be one. She actually gets good grades and has a secret love of bird watching; also, she fakes using drugs and alcohol to impress her friends.
    • Kymmi plays it straight, but it's hard to blame her considering that her parents treat her like a Replacement Goldfish for Kimmy and have never allowed her to have any kind of childhood out of fear that they would lose her too.
    • Jacqueline was the epitome of this in Flashbacks; it lead her from a loving, respectable home to life as a superficial, grasping socialite.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Dong briefly drops his thick Vietnamese accent for a thick native New Yorker's accent to hide his identity from the police.
  • Buffy Speak: Jacqueline is a frequent offender. She refers to a pinata as a "Mexican candy animal" and a car GPS as a "driver talky box."
  • But Not Too Gay: Averted. In season 2, Titus and his boyfriend Mikey are the show's most prominent couple, shown being affectionate on dates, in social situations, and in private moments.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Deconstructed. Kimmy finally confronts her mother at the end of season 2, determined to call her out for her failings as a parent. Her mother accepts her anger and freely admits everything she did wrong. But she points out that she got pregnant at seventeen, had no support and no idea how to raise a daughter, and she did the best she could anyway. Kimmy ultimately realizes that blaming her won't change what happened in the past, and all she can do is accept her mother the way she is.
  • Camp Gay: Titus Andromedon, Kimmy's new roommate. Dramatic doesn't even begin to describe his personality.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In “Kimmy Goes Roller Skating” Titus refers to Kimmy as Kim Blake Nelson. If Titus is making an In-Universe reference to Tim Blake Nelson that creates a problem… given that he plays Kimmy’s stepfather.
    • Several references are made to Friends. At the end of the second season, Lisa Kudrow plays Kimmy's mom.
    • The trope is played with hard when Joshua Jackson plays a convenience store clerk who insists he is not Joshua Jackson but also happens to really know a lot about Joshua Jackson, and Dawson's Creek (which Kimmy had been referencing throughout the episode) in particular.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Kimmy's unexplained fear of velcro is a one-scene gag in the first season, just one of the many ways living in a bunker for fifteen years has made her odd. Come the second season finale we find out why: she was wearing shoes with velcro fasteners when the Reverend kidnapped her.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Two big ones in the last episode: The rat coming into the bunker through the air filter in Kimmy's flashback in the first episode first convinced Kimmy that the apocalypse hadn't really happened, then made her realize that the bunker could be exited the same way. Also, The Reverend's audition tape for The Apprentice was time-stamped the day before the day that he claimed to believe the apocalypse would come, which Kimmy used as proof that he had lied.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Charles, after the events of "Kimmy Kisses A Boy!"
  • Church of Happyology: Cosmetology, from "Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!". Unsurprisingly, Gretchen has been suckered in, kicking off the titular plot thread of the episode.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Dong is desperate not to be deported by immigration, so he ends up marrying one of his GED classmates.
  • Cliffhanger: Every season ends with those.
    • Season 1 ends with Titus' ex-wife coming back and Jaqueline setting off to meet her parents, while Kimmy learns that Dong married Sonja.
    • Season 2 ends with an even bigger one with one to every major character: Jacqueline starts a relationship with Russ and they start a plan to destroy the Washington Redskins, Lilian thinks about running for mayor to stop gentrification in her neighbourhood, Titus sets off to Miami to act on a cruise for 4 months, hoping Mike will wait for him to come back and Kimmy learns she was married to the reverend, who wants a divorce to get married to someone else.
  • Closet Geek: Xanthippe actually gets good grades and is an avid birdwatcher.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In the first episode, the girls are celebrating Christmas when they are rescued by the SWAT team and emerge from the bunker on a bright, summer day. Instead of commenting on how the apocalypse hadn't occurred, we get this:
    Cyndee: Kimmy, I think we counted wrong; it's not Christmas.
  • Confusing Multiple Negatives: In "Kimmy Makes Waffles!", Kimmy tries this on the Reverend. It doesn't work:
    Kimmy: Then why didn't you not un-anti-believe that the apocalypse wasn't not coming?
    Reverend: Because I never did.
    (Kimmy spends a little while thinking this through, then stamps her foot in frustration.)
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Jacqueline's modus operandi.
    • When Kimmy declines an offer of water, Jacqueline throws the unopened bottle away as if it's been used.
    • She insists that Kimmy spend much more money on Buckley's birthday to impress her husband.
  • Courtroom Antic: Rev. Wayne's entire defense is built on silly tricks and theatrics that could hardly fool a child, much less hold up in a court of law. Luckily for him, Durnsville, and by extension the jury, is full of morons, he's up against a pair of prosecution lawyers who somehow know less about the law than him and a judge who cares more about building a birdhouse than presiding over a trial.
  • Creator Cameo: In the later episodes of season 1, series co-creator Tina Fey plays Marcia, an incompetent prosecutor in the case against Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. In season 2, she plays an unrelated character, Andrea the alcoholic psychologist.
  • Cross-Cultural Kerfluffle: Happens when Kimmy meets Dong, which besides the unfortunate meaning in english, is just an inoffensive name in vietnamese meaning winter. It not stops Kimmy from finding it funny, though. The same happens when she tell her name to Dong, who claims that it also means penis, but in vietnamese.
  • Crossover: With Orange Is the New Black in Season 3, when Gretchen is arrested due to starting a cult and kidnapping teenage boys, and she's sent to Litchfield prison, where she meets Black Cindy.
  • Cultural Cringe: Jacqueline hides the fact that her parents are Lakota natives and passes as a blonde white woman.
  • Curse Cut Short: Used several times for comedy, as the show was developed for network television and does not feature hard swearing.
  • Decided by One Vote: Lillian's election to the city council was literally decided by one vote, because Kimmy was the only registered voter in the district.
  • Determinator: Kimmy has an obscene amount of willpower, and the entire show is dedicated to showcasing that, regardless of what life throws at her, she is unbreakable.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: By standard, this trope happens to everybody.
    • Kimmy:
      • Dong was her first season Love Interest, but towards the end, due to being a wanted guy by immigration, he asks her to have a green card wedding with him, but when she goes back to Durnsville to fight the Reverend, he marries Sonja to stay in the US. In season 2, they attempt to get together again, but this ends up resulting in the police finding about their involvement and send him back to Korea.
      • Season 3 has Kimmy's new found interest in a guy from her Philosophy class, Perry. But when he finds out about her past by googling her, she ends their possible romantic relationship due to feeling betrayed. She and him do make up, but they decide to stay friends.
    • Titus:
      • Michael "Mikey" Politano is Titus Love Interest and later boyfriend during season 2. They have a very sweet loving relationship for a time, but Titus has to put their relationship on hold, with Mikey's support, to pursue his chance at working in a cruise. By season 3, Titus breaks up with him, because he realizes that Mikey needs to have more experience in dating other guys, or else he will just turn into Titus' Dogged Nice Guy, something that would be bad for their future relationship because Titus has already been in that position. They decide that, if they're meant to be, they will get together again. By the end, Titus swears to go after Mikey and get him back, even though Mikey is in a relationship with a man named Andrew.
      • Reuben becomes Titus' boyfriend after the former's grandmother set them up, but they not only quickly realize they have nothing in common, but that Titus is just doing that to prove himself he is over Mikey, something he really isn't.
    • Jacqueline
      • In season 3, she breaks up with Russ, who, now handsome due to a surgery, has also become shallow and uninterested in the causes that motivated their relationship. During his time in the hospital, she manages to change the name of the Washington's Redskins by herself, cook and learn she is strong by herself, no longer needing to depend on Russ if he wishes to join his family and leave the causes she still wants to fight for.
    • Lillian
      • In early season 3, she breaks up with Bobby Durst, due to her political career, he accepts due to realize their relationship is unhealthy and that they need to move on, specially Lillian, who tends to live in the past.
      • Artie, her new interest who loves technology. They have a meaningful relationship, but have a fallout when he states that he has a device making his heart work and that it may only last one or two years, leading her to beg him to get a new heart, but he refuses to cut the line to a heart transplant using his money. They break up before their trip to Europe, though Lillian is still hung up on him and hoping for Kimmy to encourage her to run to the airport and get to him.
  • Discriminate and Switch: When Lillian sees a picture of the Voorhees family patriarch, she snorts and says, "The Dutch! I never did form an opinion on them."
  • The Ditz: A main part of the comedy relies on the sheer stupidity many of the characters exhibit: Jacqueline, the prosecutors, the entire town of Durnsville, and especially Randy.
  • Does Not Like Men: Played For Laughs. After her divorce from her husband, Jacqueline destroys a male-voiced car GPS for being a man bossing her around (despite having specifically asked it for directions).
  • Double Standard: Jaqueline and Julian's pre-nup included a fidelity clause only for her. Julian had, per written, the right to "stick it wherever". When he cheats on her, she can't use it in the divorce as a way to get more money.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Kimmy notes that the kidnapped girls don't love the media nickname "Mole Women," but she's ignored.
  • Epiphany Comeback: Lillian and Jacqueline trying to get to Kimmy during the Reverend's trial. After destroying their GPS, they're stranded in Brooklyn, with Lillian suggesting that they resort to prostitution to support themselves. Jacqueline flashes back to her Lakota childhood, recalling knowledge which helps her navigate to Indiana. Played for Laughs, because the facts she recalls are obvious to anyone with common sense or anyone who reads road signs.
  • Everytown, America: Durnsville (like Pawnee) and Indiana in general embody this and Down on the Farm. The local school board removes one chapter from the science textbooks each year, homosexuality allegedly doesn't exist there yet (though it's rumored to have cropped up in neighboring Ohio), the authorities and townsfolk alike are provincial, simple-minded, and gullible. Bonus points for "the traditional meat and flowers of Indiana courtship."
  • Failure Gambit: In "Kimmy Goes to School!", Kimmy's GED teacher is intentionally trying to do a terrible job because, since firing a tenured teacher is near-impossible, he would be moved to a position where he would be paid to do nothing.
  • Feminist Fantasy: It's right in the theme song: "Females are strong as hell." The protagonist is a woman who is overcoming psychological and sexual abuse at the hands of a misogynistic cult leader and is making her own way in New York City.
  • Fish out of Water: Flyover country girl who wants to live in New York? This in spades.
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Kimmy has been locked in a bunker for fifteen years, so all her points of reference are from the 90s. In one early episode, Tituss has her keep a log of "Things People Don't Say Anymore."
  • A Fool for a Client: The Reverend decides to defend himself. In a subversion, despite his outlandish logic and lack of experience with legal defense, the public laps it all up without fail, most likely due to his charm. Even better, the prosecution is ridiculously incompetent.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you look closely you can see that Jacqueline's bottled water is labeled "Diet Water."
  • Freudian Slip: Jacqueline, talking about her therapist: "It's a bit too much penis. Sorry, Freud."
  • Gaslighting: Jacqueline's therapist convinces her that her concerns about Julian cheating on her are irrational. It turns out that Julian is actually cheating on her—with the therapist.
  • Gasshole: As it turns out, Tristafé, from "Kimmy Rides a Bike!"
  • Global Ignorance: Kimmy received a present from Cyndee (she was her secret Santa), an embroidered world map, with all the continents: America (composed of "Canida," US, Mexico, South America), Australia, Africa, London, China and Japan.)
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Mild cussin' words and spelling out other cussin' words are major parts of Kimmy's lexicon. In one episode, she tells Jacqueline, "Get up there and give him heck for fudge's sake, gosh dang it!" The Reverend also does it.
  • G-Rated Drug: In "Kimmy Pulls Off a Heist!", Kimmy gets addicted to Pixy Stix. The gas station owner who sells them to her even warns her that they're "child beauty pageant" strength.
  • Hand Puppet: Dr. Goodman, Jacqueline's relationship therapist, makes her talk to a shrill-voiced "shame puppet" during her and her husband's counseling sessions. The puppet usually admonishes Jacqueline for being paranoid, convincing her that she's crazy. When Jacqueline realizes Dr. Goodman is her husband's mistress, she grabs the puppet and starts verbally abusing him with it.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: In the first episode, Donna Maria, the only kidnapped victim who is Hispanic and only speaks in Spanish, is questioned by the news about how she managed not to learn English in the 15 years that she spent with the other captives and the Reverend. It turns out that she did learn English within the first two years, and that speaking Spanish was the only way to cope with her captivity. Afterwards, she makes the choice not to testify at the trial in English because it would have ruined the reputation of her ''Tia Donna Maria's Mole Women Sauce''.
  • Human Ladder: After they get caught in the bunker again in the Season 1 finale, the victims form one in hopes of getting Cyndee to the top of the air filtration system so she can make a call out. Once Gretchen steps in to help, she's able to get a signal, but she blows the last of her battery checking her horoscope. Fortunately, Randy shows up just in time to find them.
  • I Can Explain: Said by Titus in "Kimmy Goes to School!" when Xanthippe catches him filming his music video:
    Titus: I can explain: You're in The Matrix.
    Lillian: (barging back in) Titus, I should never have left—(notices Xanthippe)—You're in The Matrix.
    Titus: I already used The Matrix!
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode is "Kimmy [does something]!"
  • Incompatible Orientation: Cyndee's boyfriend, Brandon, is gay. Played For Drama when Kimmy discovers that Cyndee is well aware of this and has been using her Mole Woman status to make Brandon date her out of pity. This also works as a subtle Casting Gag, as Ellie Kemper's character Becca in Bridesmaids is married to a childhood sweetheart who is heavily implied to be deep in the closet and wouldn't recommend the arrangement to say the least!
  • Informed Attractiveness: A news reporter comments on how Rev. Wayne "cleans up well."
  • Insult Backfire: Due to her child-like mentality, Kimmy somehow manages to respond to insults that always end up backfiring the the people who insult her.
    Vonda (to Titus): I thought at least you ran away to be with a man. But here you are, [mentions Kimmy, in the room] taking advantage of some other goofy girl dressed like she's on Scooby damn Doo.
    Kimmy: Oh, thank you.
    • Another one:
    Xan: You bitch!
    Kimmy: A female dog? The thing that makes puppies? Nice compliment, Xan.
    • In "Kimmy Can't Help You," Wendy goes off on a furious rant about how the Reverend hates Kimmy and blames her for ruining his life. She means for it to be a "Reason You Suck" Speech, but judging from the look on Kimmy's face, she is absolutely thrilled to hear it.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Vietnamese immigrant Dong is played by Ki Hong Lee, a Korean actor. Ironically (and maybe self-deprecatingly?) the show also contains an In-Universe example, as Dong works as a delivery boy for a Chinese restaurant.
  • The Internet is for Porn: A sign near the computers in the library:
    No Food or Drink
    Masturbate Responsibly
  • Ironic Echo: In the first episode, Kimmy says, "It's all still here," when she goes outside for the first time and sees that Reverend Wayne lied about the apocalypse. In the first-season finale, Gretchen says it when they end up back in the bunker with the same enthusiasm.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Kimmy and Xan attend Columbia University in Season 3. Kimmy gets accepted there with athletic scholarship, thanks to Xan's roommate, while Xan gets accepted because of her family name. Kimmy later gets kicked out due to her failing grades, but still gets an honorary degree because of her past.
  • The Jimmy Hart Version: Done with a number of songs in the second season, and lampshaded in one episode, when Kimmy shows Titus her "Now That Sounds Like Music" cassette.
    Titus (reading the case):"Music inspired by but legally different from the music you love."
  • Lampshade Hanging: After Kimmy admits she lied about her identity and reveals she's a mole woman, Jacqueline ponders why she didn't do a background check.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Kimmy constructs the name "Keyser Soze" from her surroundings for her stepfather.
  • Love Triangle: Between Logan, Kimmy, and Dong.
  • Magical Native American: Jacqueline's Lakota family sometimes resorts to playing up to this trope in order to stop her from annoying them, such as by suggesting that she go and do a special dance in a distant cornfield. Subverted in that a local teenage Lakota girl will then cycle past Jacqueline and ask her what the hell she's doing.
  • Malaproper: Kimmy's education ended around eighth-grade because of her going into the bunker and she subsequently spent 15 years underground with limited company. Consequently she misuses words and often uses terminology that seems downright quaint to those she meets.
    Kimmy: (Having a Eureka Moment) Urethra!
  • Make-Out Point: In the bunker, Cyndee seems to enjoy pretending to go on dates to Make-Out Point and refusing to make out. Kimmy indulges her by playing the disappointed boy.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The cold opens to "Kimmy Goes to the Doctor!" and "Kimmy Goes to a Party!" feature inanimate objects interacting with Kimmy and/or Titus, but cutting to titles before we know whether or not they're actually interacting with them.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • "Later days, buuuddy." Jacqueline tells her parents that it's how white people say goodbye and says it herself when she leaves home. Later, talking to herself in the mirror, she ends a phrase in Lakota with "buuuddy" as she reveals she didn't sell her Lakota sun necklace, as she claimed she did to her parents.
    • "Troll the respawn, Jeremy." Kimmy uses it as a "goodbye" equivalent after overhearing Charles use it with a gamer friend. They say this to one another after Kimmy decides it would be weird for them to keep spending time together.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Xanthippe shares her name with the wife of Socrates, who was infamously spirited and hard to deal with. Also, in case her personality traits weren't obvious enough, her middle name is Lannister.
    • Apart from sounding ominous, "Voorhees" is a Dutch name tracing its American history back to early settlers of New York, indicating some very old money.
  • Meaningful Rename: Jacqueline's last name changes from "White" to "Voorhees" after she decides to reject her Native-American heritage and marry Julian for money and luxury.
    • She goes back to being "Ms. White" in season 2, following her official divorce.
  • Meat-O-Vision: This happens to Titus with Dionne Warwick during his cruise flashback in "Kimmy Does a Puzzle!".
  • Missing Mom: Kimmy's mother who ran out on her second family of Randy and Kymmi and does not return when Kimmy gets out of the bunker.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: In the first episode, a news headline reads, "WHITE WOMEN FOUND Hispanic woman also found"
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: This frequently happens to Kimmy.
  • Narm: In-Universe. The horror-themed restaurant where Titus works is actually quite upscale and reasonably frightening. Kimmy finds it hilarious.
    Kimmy: It's so funny what people who have never been kidnapped think is scary!
  • Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used to Be: Played with. Lillian remembers very clearly the poverty, danger and crime that used to overwhelm New York, and she still misses it. She takes pride in being an old-school New Yorker and hates the waves of gentrification changing the city's character.
    "Everything I own, I looted in the 1977 blackout. When I needed new shoes, I caused the 2003 blackout."
  • Noodle Incident: Something of an in-universe example, Titus brings up that nobody knows why Kimmy is afraid of Velcro (ripping a piece in front of her causes her to scream and run out of the room). It hasn't been explained as of Season 1.
    • Finally explained in the second season finale: her Velcro shoe came undone, and her mittens got stuck as she tried to put the flap back down. The other kids on the street walked past as she struggled with it, leaving her alone. This is the moment that the Reverend took her.
  • N-Word Privileges: Invoked in "Kimmy Goes to the Doctor!"
    Titus: You don't like it when I say mole women.
    Kimmy: Yeah, 'cuz that's our word. You wouldn't like it if I said—
    Titus: (brandishing Buhbreeze sprayer and singing in high D) Hoooooooooooooooold!
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • In "Kimmy Goes to The Doctor!", Doctor "Grant" (Pronounced Frampf) is a pretty obvious case for Dr. Fredric Brandt. This actually led to some discussion over whether being mocked so harshly was a contributing factor to his suicide.
    • Marcia and Chris, the prosecutors for the Mole Women case, are suggested to be Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, the prosecutors of OJ Simpson's murder trial. They mention working on a famous trial and make numerous references to incidents at the trial. Chris even has Rev. Wayne try on the bloody glove, then laments, "Someday I'm going to find out who's glove this is!" They're portrayed as lovers and highly incompetent lawyers.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The mole women use Gosh Dang It to Heck! constantly, so if one of them uses even minor swear words, that means they're pissed. Examples include:
    • After Kimmy realizes Cyndee is marrying a guy she knows is gay, she yells "What the hell?"
    • When it's revealed the mystery crank powered Rev. Wayne's man cave, Kimmy screams "That SUCKS!"
    • When Gretchen figures out Rev. Wayne lied about believing the Apocalypse was coming, she lets out a "you son of a bitch."
  • Only in Florida: Referenced in "Kimmy Rides a Bike!" when Titus searches for the coverage of the Reverend's trial and is flooded with news articles for similar cases in Florida.
  • Orphaned Punchline:
    • One of Xanthippe's friends delivers the punchline "...and she stepped on the ball!" causing everyone to laugh. This is a reference to Trading Places.
    • Yuko the Japanese robot delivers a punchline at the Voorhees residence during a party, causing everyone to laugh.
    Yuko: And then the man said, "Hello ladies."
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Kimmy and Charles' phone conversation, which made Kimmy believe that he wanted a serious relationship with her, was actually the result of Charles butt-dialing her while gaming with a friend.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: in the terror themed restaurant where Titus work, he plays Frankenwolf, no less, and there is also a Pirate Mummy.
  • Platonic Declarationof Love: Kimmy admits she loves Cyndee when crying for the first time since going in the bunker.
  • Playing the Victim Card: Exaggerated in the case of Cyndee, who gets a job, a boyfriend, and all kinds of perks by doing this. Defied by Kimmy, who wants to make a normal life for herself without being seen as a victim.
  • The Pollyanna: The show's title says it all.
  • Police Are Useless: Kimmy's stepdad was the officer assigned to her case. He never found her and in the course of the series does heroin, loses his biological daughter in New York, gets stuck half-naked in a burning tree (that he lit on fire himself!), and gets the Mole Women locked back inside the bunker.
  • Poor Man's Porn: A blink-and-you'll-miss-it gag in "Kimmy Rides a Bike!": the old man Titus has to sit next to when using the computers in the library is looking at a women's underwear site. It's unclear if he's actually into tame porn or if this is simply the hardest thing the show could get away with showing. The sign nearby reading "Please Masturbate Responsibly" suggests that other patrons are viewing harder stuff.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Jacqueline uses the Lakota classic "Hoka hey!"note  before beating the crap out of some white high school kids who call themselves Indians.
  • Precision F-Strike: While Kimmy's lexicon is usually limited to Gosh Dang It to Heck!, it's pretty shocking when she decides to go for an actual, fully-pronounced "What the HELL?!" in "Kimmy Kisses a Boy!"
    • An even more shocking example occurs in the last episode of season one when Gretchen, the most squeaky-clean of all the Mole Women, realizes that the Reverend has been lying to her and exclaims, "You son of a bitch!"
    • Perhaps most shocking is when Kimmy flips out in a deli and screams “You’re on your own, you bitch! I’ll kill you!”
  • Pretentious Latin Motto: P.S. 0's is "Scholae Nullo Motto", or "School With No Motto".
  • Preppy Name: The Voorhees children are named Buckley and Xanthippenote .
  • Princess in Rags: Jacqueline since season 2. Despite being relatively poor, she still keeps up appearances such as purchasing an expensive painting that costs almost entire of her wealth from her divorce, renting an expensive apartment, having her stolen police car painted into a black Mercedes, and buying nice clothes. She also still treats Kimmy like her employee, despite not paying her.
  • Put on a Bus: Although a big part of Season 1, Xanthippe has been shipped out of state to live with her mother's family in Season 2, so she's only in one episode.
    • The Bus Came Back: In Season 3, she's back in the city, studying at Columbia. She's not quite as major as she was in the first season, but she does get a fair amount of screen time.
  • Reality Ensues: Kimmy is surprisingly positive and upbeat for someone who's been through the ordeal she's been through. But she has trauma she doesn't deal with, and all the positive attitude in the world isn't going to stop it from catching up with her sooner or later. By the second season, it does: she starts lashing out violently, develops all kind of weird psychosomatic symptoms, and has at least one fugue episode. She comes to realize that her positive attitude is just her way of avoiding her problems, and she starts to confront them.
    • At the end of Season 3, Kimmy's decision to not divorce the reverend earlier in the season comes back to bite her when she applies for a job as a crossing guard. As the wife of a registered sex offender, the police can't let her be around children or ducks.
  • Recurring Extra: Yuko the robot can be seen in the background of many scenes in Seasons 2 and 3.
  • Remember the New Guy: Inverted. In Season 2, Jacqueline meets Titus again several times, but acts as if they've never encountered each other before. Lampshaded by Titus:
  • The Reveal: It's revealed that the Mystery Crank was powering Rev. Wayne's man-cave.
  • Rhyming List: Titus manages to do this with an entire song where every phrase rhymes with the title, "Pinot Noir." Examples include "caviar," "Myanmar," and "mid-size car."
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • The show is extremely reminiscent of the kidnappings by Ariel Castro. Castro held three women in his house for a decade and sexually abused them, similar to how The Reverand in the show held the women for years for "freaky sex stuff". Also, in the show, the victims were three white women and one Latina women, while Ariel Castro kidnapped two white women and one Latina woman.
    • In addition, the opening theme of the show (an autotuned news interview with a black witness to the rescue of the kidnap victims) appears to be based on one of the viral videos of Charles Ramsey's interview following the rescue of Ariel Castro's victims.
    • The cult Kimmy is Rescued from may loosely be based of Warren Jeffs' FLDS Church, often referred to as the Polygamy cult. The mole woman's hairstyles and outfits seem to be identical to the ones there.
    • Kimmy herself may be very loosely based off of kidnap survivor Jaycee Lee Dugard who was kidnapped on her way to school and held captive for 18 years. Like Dugard, Kimmy was taken during her school years by an abusive, religious fanatic and was held for a similar amount of time without a proper education. Also similar to Dugard, Kimmy has a step-father that she doesn't like, a younger half-sister and an absent biological father.
    • The mise en scène on Broadway of The Spider-Men, so prone to accidents of the cast.
  • Running Gag:
    • Everywhere Kimmy goes, someone asks her, "Can I get you a water?" This is highlighted in "Kimmy's in a Love Triangle!"
    • In "Kimmy's Bad at Math!", the number of Olsen twins referred to keep multiplying.
    • In "Kimmy's Bad at Math!", anytime Kimmy refers to Dong, the character, other characters assume she is referring to male anatomy.
    • Kimmy's Eureka Moment malapropisms.
    • There's no such thing as a "Daddy's Boy."
    • Kimmy constantly being mistaken for a prostitute.
    • In season 2, Kimmy's belching in the middle of speaking. Apparently her breath is quite repulsive. Becomes a plot point in "Kimmy Meets a Drunk Lady!" when Andrea deduces that the burps are a symptom of the problems Kimmy's been repressing.
    • As of season 2, it seems that Yuko from "Kimmy Goes to a Party!" has entered full production, making small cameos throughout the season.
    • All of New York's wealthy socialite class are apparently obsessed with blimps.
  • Secret Keeper: Titus is initially the only person Kimmy reveals her past to because she wants to avoid being labelled as a "victim".
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: "Kimmy Gets a Job!" features people dressed similarly to, but not exactly like, Iron Man, Cookie Monster, and Hello Kitty in a subplot that hangs a lampshade on how TV shows work to avoid having to pay to use other people's intellectual property.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In one episode, one of Xanthippe's preppy friends delivers an Orphaned Punchline: "...and she stepped on the ball!" This is a reference to Trading Places, in which the preppy Bunny delivers this same Orphaned Punchline. This in turn was a reference to a scene in Antie Mame in which Gloria Upson tells a botched anecdote at a cocktail party with this punchline.
    • Reverend Wayne claims to have been "suckin' on a chili dog outside the Tastee Freez," which are lyrics to John Mellencamp's song "Jack And Diane."
    • Kimmy comes up with the Line-of-Sight Name "Keyser Soze" for her stepfather.
    • As a rebellious teen, Jacqueline whines, "I want my MTV!" Her father admonishes her, "It's not your MTV. The MTV is for everyone."
    • Kimmy's date takes her to "the restaurant from Ghostbusters." Dong recreates the scene where Louis is possessed by the Keymaster.
    • Titus' work costume is an off-brand knock-off of Iron Man. His fellow Times Square buskers also have off-brand costumes.
    • Jacqueline's pilates guy got an acting gig on Royal Pains.
    • Xanthippe's middle name is Lannister.
    • Titus interrupts Lillian while she was rear-windowing.
    • In the first episode, a girl at a club asks Kimmy if she is into "molly", referring to the recreational drug MDMA, and Kimmy answers that yes, Molly is her favorite American Girls Collection doll.
    • Kimmy and Dong go to the fountain from Friends. Except, as a cop points out, the actual fountain is on a film lot in Burbank.
    • Titus snaps at Xanthippe, "Not so fast, MTV's Daria!"
    • "The reverend was a psycho liar who claimed he came up the 'Buy the world a Coke' commercial!"
    • Instead of television in the bunker, Kimmy acts out Titanic.
  • Shared Universe: The crackpot Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne in many ways resembles (the unseen) "Reverend Gary" often mentioned by Kenneth in 30 Rock, another Tina Fey production.
    • Mikey is introduced hitting on Kimmy. The same actor did the same thing to Liz Lemon on the "When It Rains It Pours" episode of 30 Rock. Since Mikey is closeted until he starts dating Titus, it could be the same character in both shows.
    • A NASA astronaut tries to fake his recollections of space by quoting Bette Midler's "From a Distance." Titus is not fooled.
  • Show Within a Show: Kitty and Bunny. Ones a cop, the other a FBI agent.
  • Simple Country Lawyer: Rev. Richard's schtick when he defends himself. He even calls himself a "simple country preacher."
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Titus has one in Coriolanus Burt, who somehow manages to be even more theatrical than Titus.
  • Splash of Color: The show often uses a dark color palate so that Kimmy, with her bright wardrobe, pops out even more.
  • Straight Gay: Mikey spent most of his life in the closet and has a blue-collar aesthetic, in contrast to his love interest, Titus. He even warns that Titus will have to accept the fact that he'll make sports analogies.
  • Stupid Statement Dance Mix:
    • "Kimmy Goes Outside!" features one in the opening minutes which is used as exposition regarding the Indiana Mole Women situation. (It's even made by the Gregory Brothers.) A short edit becomes the show's theme song.
    • Titus's failed interview in "Kimmy Goes to Court!" becomes one, and it goes viral in "Kimmy Makes Waffles!"
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • "I wasn't rapping."
    • Lillian on why high heels poke through the floor: "Not because it's just painted dirt. This is a real apartment."
    • Lillian later states that the apartment is not a tugboat.
    • A flashback has Rev. Wayne in the bunker announce that the sounds the Mole Women might have heard were not him arguing with a pizza man.
    • While holding hands, Mikey asks how Titus keeps his hand so smooth. Titus comments that Mikey isn't holding a mannequin hand, then reveals that he's actually holding a sandwich in the hand Mikey thinks he's holding.
  • Take That!:
    • Helen says, "If this is your idea of a joke, you belong in a Woody Allen movie, because I’m not laughing." This is probably supposed to say more about Helen than Woody Allen, though.
    • Titus spends episode 10 preparing for an audition for Entourage 2. At the end it's revealed the film won't even get made.
    Titus: There is no Entourage 2! There is no Entourage 2!
    Crowd erupts in joy.
    • Lots of jabs at The '90s culture, but Tina Fey's impersonation of Marcia Clark and the OJ trial is particularly sharp.
    In Durnsville, we're just Marcia and Chris, not famously incompetent California prosecutors.
    Hey, he's in jail now. So who has four thumbs and loosened that jelly jar?
    • Someone on the staff seems to really hate biscotti. Kimmy compares herself to them since no one knows what to make of her, Jacqueline shatters a tooth on one, and Mikey (who's Italian) tells Titus you're not actually supposed to eat them.
    • And hipsters, but everyone hates hipsters.
    • Is Cate Blanchett a great actress, or is she just tall?
    • In S2, Episode 7, M. Night Shyamalan gets one.
    • Suspected wife-murderer Robert Durst gets lampooned as Lilian's new boyfriend. He's played by Fred Armisen as a creeper who is comically bad at lying.
    • Season 3 takes a few jabs at the Trumps.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Lori-Ann Schmidt was 17 years old when she had Kimmy.
  • Three-Way Sex: Chris whispers to Marcia that maybe if the guy they picked up was more handsome he wouldn't have had such a problem.
  • Transparent Closet:
    • Even people who've only heard his name can guess Brandon is gay.
    • In season 2, Titus meets a construction worker for whom Titus was the first guy he (the construction worker) ever hit on. The guy is still building up the courage to come out to his co-workers, and he talks to Titus about how important it is for him to come across like a macho blue-collar guy: "I even painted a girl on the back of my truck!" He lifts the tailgate to reveal a cheesecake portrait of Tilda Swinton, who, in addition to being a vocal supporter of LGBT rights and a long-term muse of gay UK filmmaker Derek Jarman, is also known for her androgynous appearance, having played the gender-crossing title character in Orlando and the archangel Gabriel in Constantine.
    • Strongly hinted at with Mikey's brother in "Kimmy Goes to Her Happy Place!", who works out a lot at the gym with his friend Lance (stated earlier in the episode to be a very gay name).
  • Take That, Critics!: Season 2, Episode 3 is one toward the complaints about Jaqueline's Race Lift in Season 1.
  • The Unfavorite: Kymmi, to the extent she was overshadowed by a sister who wasn't even there.
  • Unicorns Are Sacred: After Kimmy utters the Precision F-Strike (see above), Cyndee gets angry at her for cursing in the presence of a unicorn (or at least the horse disguised as unicorn planted by Brandon as part of the decoration to propose to Cyndee). Brandon tells Cyndee to relax, because his magic allows the unicorn to remain unharmed against that kind of profanity.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Making waffles out of [someone]" is apparently a Durnsville equivalent of saying "kicking [someone]'s ass. "The first season finale is called "Kimmy Makes Waffles!" for this reason. (Or perhaps the euphemism was coined in order to use an innocuous title for that pivotal episode.)
  • Wham Episode :
    • The Season 1 finale, when Titus's wife shows up and finds Titus after his disappearing for so long, thanks to Titus's viral video.
    • The Season 2 finale, when Kimmy finally meets her mom and also it's revealed that The Reverend and Kimmy are married.
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: Rev. Wayne's secret The Apprentice audition tape features him flailing punches at the camera while shouting, "Karate! Karate! Karate! Ninjitsu!" A similar joke was used in Tina Fey's 30 Rock.
  • Wretched Hive: Played with. Kimmy and Titus live in an area that's clearly poor and generally unpleasant, but their landlord likes it that way, and is terrified of the area being gentrified. She tries to encourage gang wars to keep the neighborhood edgy, and treats hipsters like members of an invading army.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Kimmy's GED teacher notes that no matter what she does, he wins, because his only goal is to keep teaching poorly until he's sent to the "rubber room." She does manage, however, to Take a Third Option.
  • Yellow Fever: Lillian to Dong, and just Asian men in general (she has an entire ream of photos of Asian men she's been with in her wallet). She also makes light of the fact that she is a gender-flipped version of how this trope usually goes.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Jacqueline mentions that on their first date, she and Julian couldn't go back to his home because his wife was there. She then becomes suspicious that he's having an affair with a Japanese woman named Yuko. He isn't having an affair with Yuko. He's having an affair with the Voorhees' couples therapist.
  • Where Did We Go Wrong?: Spoken word-for-word by Jackie's mother when she sees that Jackie publicly claimed the Redskins was not an offensive name, not knowing it was part of a larger Batman Gambit.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/UnbreakableKimmySchmidt