Freddie: [enters] Where is that miserable old shit?!
Stuart: Right here, you walking corpse.
This series provides examples of:
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Though somewhat rare considering how bitter they are, Freddie and Stuart occasionally invoke this to the extent they even act affectionate with each other on occasion.
Freddie: You do know we love you all very much, right?
- Also invoked during the first series finalÚ:
[They agree in fear]
- The Big Damn Kiss: Episode 6 has a heartwarming scene where Ash is extremely nice to Violet, only for Violet to press him against the wall and make out with him.
- But Not Too Gay: Surprisingly Averted; despite having the excuse that Freddie and Stuart borderline hate one another, the writers still have them occasionally displaying affection (and even sharing the occasional kiss).
- Black Comedy Rape: Several rape jokes in the first episode. Critics were less than impressed.
- Blatant Lies: Frequently Played for Laughs.Freddie: I'm quite certain I'm old enough to be your father.
Stuart: [muttering] Yes, I'm quite certain too.
Ash: My father's forty-six.
Freddie: Ah! And so am I!
- Book Ends: In the first episode, when Ash accidentally opens the curtains to the massive window in their living room, Freddie and Stuart both run back into the kitchen away from the bright light. In the last episode, after some (slight) defrosting and Stuart finally revealing to his mother he's gay, they're in such a good mood at their anniversary they decide to open the curtains again.
- Bowdlerise: Due to the somewhat risky title of Vicious Old Queens, the show title was later changed to the shorter and milder Vicious.
- Brainless Beauty: Ash has moments of this, such as not knowing how Freddie and Stuart can tell that he just came back in from the rain (as he's soaking wet).
- Also Chloe.
- The Cameo: Dame Judi Dench as herself. See The Stinger.
- Camp Gay/Straight Gay: Stuart and Freddie respectively.
- Casting Gag: Sir Ian McKellen, one of the greatest theater and film actors today, playing a faded actor whose career peak was a minor character on Doctor Who. Both Jacobi and McKellen have had single-episode guest parts on Doctor Who.
- Corrupt the Cutie: Freddie and Stuart considered this their end goal in regards to Ash. When he finally snaps and snarks about the Running Gag regarding him and Violet, Freddie's response was to give him a hug and say "About time, welcome to the family!" Mason lampshades it, saying it's sad they're going to turn the sweet Ash into a gargoyle like them.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: The normally dotty Penelope will have the occasional moment of clarity, often at the most inopportune time for somebody else. Lampshaded when people wonder why her memory is so vivid all of a sudden.
- Deadpan Snarker: Everyone but Ash. And even him, by the finale.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Between Freddie and Stuart.
- Dirty Old Man: Freddie and Stuart only first invite Ash in because he's handsome and young.
- Eating the Eye Candy: When Ash comes into the nightclub soaking wet, a girl at the nightclub as well as the camera, Freddie, and Stuart spend a few moments staring at him.
- The Faceless: Balthazar the dog is constantly sleeping in his basket under a blanket, but he's purportedly balding and teetering on the brink of death.
- Flying Under the Gaydar: Stuart's mother still has no idea that her son and Freddie are partners. Stuart has been telling her that Freddie is his "flatmate" for the last 48 years.
- The Ghost: Stuart's mother. Until the finalÚ, when she attends their party.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: Freddie ends up giving a speech to Stuart's mother that makes it very clear that, since he loves Stuart so much, only he is allowed to verbally abuse him.
- Hypocritical Humor: Episode 5 concludes with Ash and his new girlfriend arguing and tearing into one another, to which Freddie and Stuart comment:Stuart: Do you hear how they talk to each other?!
Freddie: Kill me if that's ever us.
Chloe: I just don't see how two people in love can ever say cruel things to each other.
- Also, from the same episode:
Freddie: I was saying the same thing the other day to the piece of shit down there.
- Insistent Terminology: In episode five, when discussing Violet:Freddie: You're lucky you're straight Ash, otherwise you get one of these women who latch on to you for decades and never let go.
Ash: But you love her?
Freddie: Yes. We like her.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Ash is Freddie and Stuart's much younger neighbor who befriends them after he moves into the flat above them.
- Large Ham: Expected when the two leads are Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi.
- May-December Romance: Violet attempts to invoke this on Ash, but the much younger man is clearly not interested in her.[Freddie and Stuart discuss Ash]
Violet: The one who was flirting with me shamelessly?
Freddie: No, this is a person who exists.
Violet: You're sitting very far from me, Ash.Ash: (wide-eyed with apprehension) I know.
- Mistaken for Gay: Freddie and Stuart spend the pilot discussing if Ash is gay, straight or even bisexual. He says he's straight, but that doesn't stop them assuming he's Armoured Closet Gay.
Ash: I wanted you to be the first to know. I think I might be—
- And again in episode 5:
Freddie: I KNEW IT!
Ash: ...in love with my girlfriend!
Freddie: (beat) Oh.
Stuart: [after Chloe crashes their dinner party] Poor Ash.Freddie: Well he wanted to be straight, that what he gets!
- Eventually they get the message, sort of:
- Monochrome Casting
- Mrs. Robinson: Violet to Ash.
- Na´ve Newcomer: Ash, relatively speaking, in comparison to Freddie, Violet, and Stuart.
- Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Averted. The gay couple is over 70 and there was only one young, handsome gay man in the first series, briefly.
- Noodle Implements: The only explanation to Clive's death is that he suffered horribly and lost a foot.
- N-Word Privileges: this show probably would have been considered massively offensive were Ian Mckellan and Derek Jacobi not well known for being openly gay
- Once an Episode: Every episode opens with Stuart talking to his mother on the phone, except for episode 6, where Ash answers instead.
- Only Sane Man: Ash. Mason thinks he is this, but he's nearly as bad as Freddie and Stuart.
- OOC Is Serious Business: In episode 3, Freddie has his minor role on Downton Abbey overshadowed by Ash getting a starring role in a small movie; as a result, he starts being nice to everyone, much to their horror.
- Phrase Catcher: Stuart, re Violet every time she and Ash are in a scene together:You remember our friend, Violet?
- Real Song Theme Tune: The Communards - Never Can Say Goodbye
- Running Gag:
- Selective Obliviousness: Stuart's mother is still totally unaware that Stuart is gay, despite the fact that Stuart is in his early seventies:Stuart: Well, I hoped she'd have figured out our situation by now. I have been dropping little clues.
Freddie: Yes. Like living with a man for 48 years.
- Shout-Out: Many to Doctor Who, especially since Derek Jacobi played the Master and Ian McKellen was the voice of the Great Intelligence.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Ash and his new girlfriend, Chloe:Ash: She never drinks, isn't that right Chloe?
Chloe: It's true. And nothing could give me more of a high that being with Ash...
Freddie: Have you tried cocaine?
- Small Name, Big Ego: Freddie career consisted of "bit parts in Rep and one episode of Doctor Who", according to Stuart. That doesn't stop him from acting as though he had, well, Sir Ian McKellen's career.
- Stepford Smiler: It's been hinted at that underneath Ash's cheerfulness there is a lot of emotional issues. He's mentioned offhand how he frequently wakes up screaming, and became so hysterical and self-loathing after messing up Christmas dinner that Violet had to slap him to calm him down. Considering how he says both of his parents were in prison (his father did 10 years for armed robbery after robbing a Domino's Pizza, and his mother went after running over her boyfriend.)
- Not to mention how easy it was to convince him that he was "a monster" just after getting cast in a film, and how he stops while describing his last Christmas with his family and how drunk his mother was to say with great anguish "Why wasn't I enough for you, Mom?" before immediately regaining his composure.
- The Stinger: The first season finalÚ ends with the reveal that Judi Dench wanted to attend the party, but since Freddie didn't leave a contact number or address, she got sick of waiting for a reply and decided she doesn't have time for his bullshit.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: In episode 5:Stuart: Freddie's scared he's never going to work again. There, how does that feel?
Freddie: I never said such a thing, and you swore you'd never mention it!
- Take That, Audience!: Towards McKellen's nerd following:Violet: Will there be a lot of single men?
Freddie: It's a science fiction fan club event; they'll be single but they'll be disgusting.
- Transparent Closet: Despite his mannerisms and being in his 70s, Stuart has yet to come out to his mother.Freddie: So, who were you squawking on the phone to just now?
Stuart: My mother, if you must know. She was very distraught.
Freddie: Why, did you finally tell her about us?
Stuart: I'm waiting for the right time.
Freddie: It's been forty-eight years!
Stuart: And there has not been a right time!
- When I Was Your Age: Occasionally Invoked towards Ash by others due to the large age gap:Violet: Has anybody said you remind them of Zac Efron? [whispering to Stuart] That's a person right? Or is it a place? [to Ash again] Well I'm certain I know you. Have you ever been to Zac Efron? [whispering to Stuart] I'm covered either way now.
- Vitriolic Husbands: With the occasional Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other.
- White Dwarf Star: Freddie's acting career never really took off and his only claim to fame was playing a minor character on Doctor Who. He still sees himself as an award-winning actor with a trophy case.