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Western Animation: The Critic

"It stinks!"
Jay Sherman

The Critic was a short-lived prime time animated series that featured Jon Lovitz as the voice of the titular critic. It was created by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, who were also writers for The Simpsons. The show is notable for being picked up by four different networks. It was launched on ABC in 1994, where it was cancelled after a month, but brought back in the summer to air the remaining season. It was picked up by FOX the following year and ran it for a full second season before dropping it. After this it was aired on Comedy Central. It was later picked up by UPN, who never actually aired episodes of the show. In Latin America, this show was aired on Locomotion before turning into Animax. Ten short flash cartoons (webisodes) based on the series appeared on the internet over 2000-01.

The DVD box set was released in 2004, which includes all the TV episodes and has the webisodes as extras. During the late 2000s, the show has aired in syndication. In September 2006, IGN ranked the show 9th in their list of the Top 25 Primetime Animated Series of All Time. In January 2009, they also ranked the show 26th in their other list of the Top 100 Best Animated TV Series. In December 2011, Complex ranked the show 6th in their own list of The 25 Most Underrated Animated TV Shows Of All Time.

Jay Sherman is New York's #3 film critic, with a cable television film review show called Coming Attractions, and it's his job to review some pretty horrible movies. However, it is because he heavily pans every film he reviews that he is very unpopular with the public. It also doesn't help that he's rather unsuccessful at life, overweight, and not really successful with the ladies. His ex-wife Ardeth (not pictured) despises him and keeps demanding more alimony from him, and while he does have a few dates, the women are usually either crazy or just dating him to get a positive film review. His boss Duke Phillips frequently mistakes his statements for come-ons, and his elderly chain-smoking make-up lady Doris frequently verbally abuses him.

Jay is the adopted son of former New York governor Franklin Sherman and his wife Elenor Sherman. Their butler Shackleford (not pictured) has a tendency to greet Jay as "Adopted Master Jay" whenever he sees him. Jay also does have a few friends: his best friend Jeremy Hawke (a combination of Paul Hogan and Mel Gibson), restaurant owner Vlada (well, he's nice to Jay's face, anyway), his teenage sister Margo, and his son Marty who attends United Nations High School (where one of his classmates is a Klingon, and another from Easter Island who has a head made of stone).

In the second season, after FOX picked up the show, the character of Jay was retooled. He was given a rounder face, bigger eyes, a warmer personality, and a long-term girlfriend in personal assistant Alice Tompkins. Like Jay, Alice has a child from her own failed marriage, her young daughter Penny.

The show was resurrected one last time on the Internet as a flash series. The characters from the TV series are gone (except for Vlada who makes an appearance), and Jay keeps hitting on his new and younger make-up girl Jennifer (not pictured). Most fans don't really count this one among the main series.

Not to be confused with Mel Brooks' first film or R.B. Sheridan's play.

Now has its own Characters page.


This show uses the tropes:

  • Adam Westing: "Siskel And Ebert and Jay and Alice," in a big way.
    • The man himself appeared in "Eyes on the Prize" for a brief cameo. Emphasis on "brief", due to Jay's particular film and television preferences.
  • Ad Bumpers: The original broadcast featured a shot of Jay in both the ABC ("Stay tuned after the commercials you beer swilling couch monkeys") and FOX ("You're watching FOX, where we can say the word 'boobies'!") runs.
  • Adolf Hitler: Slackers not only gave footage of him a better rating than that of Jay, they think he's a "cool dude" and played by the guy who played the mailman on Cheers. He apparently frolicked on the beach of Cannes, France with Eva, too. And in the third webisode, he was part of the British army in the parody of The Patriot.
  • Alan Smithee: "I Can't Believe It's a Clip Show" was directed by someone named "D.R.L. MacMoortler". It's pretty safe to assume that this is a pseudonym for David Cutler, Rich Moore, and Lauren MacMullan, all of whom worked on the show.
  • Alliterative Title: A headline made by Jimmy Breslin while being the headmaster at Duke's preschool: "Bunnies Bite Breslin, Breslin Bleeds Badly."
  • Alphabet News Network: "This... is PNN."
  • Always Someone Better: Jay was this in his cameo on The Simpsons; reportedly, this is what annoyed Matt Groening enough to have his name taken off the credits for that one episode.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Jay
    • More pronounced in the ninth webisode:
    George Costanza: I tried out for the football team. You know what they told me? I'll tell ya what they told me: "Too Jewish"!
    Jay: There's such a thing as "too Jewish"??
  • Animated Shows
  • Apocalypse Wow: From "All The Duke's Men." Enjoy.
  • Art Evolution: Most of the characters were given some slight updates to their character designs. Jay's changes are described above, while Margo went from realistically proportioned to completely stylized.
  • Artistic License - Geography: In case you want to know, In the episode "Marty's First Date", the name of the Mexico City Airport in Real Life is Benito Juarez, not Linda Ronstadt! Very likely to be chalked up to the Rule of Funny.
  • As Himself: One episode was noteworthy as one of the few examples of Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel appearing in a work of fiction, alongside other real critics like Rex Reed and Gene Shalit.
    • Another episode had Queen Latifah for no adequately explained reason. Even the characters were confused as to why she was there!
      • Ricki Lake guest stars as herself in the same episode, but that goes back to an earlier gag of Penny watching daytime trash TV.
    • Don't forget the time when Jon Lovitz shows up.
    • Geraldo Rivera to the list interviewed Jay and Eleanor. It ended with Franklin dancing in a diaper.
  • Aside Glance: In the second webisode, a clip from Mission: Impossible 2 is shown, where Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) escapes various villains and gunfire, and then does his trademark toothy smile to the camera.
    • Jay does one after cleaning the Public Library and accidentally knocking off the L, causing a crowed of people to rush in excited, only to quickly let out a depressed groan.
  • Audience Participation Failure: In "A Song For Margo":
    Johnny: Are you ready to rock?!
    Woman: Not yet; Brad's tying his shoe! (Audience goes silent for a couple seconds)
    Brad: ...Okay! (Audience starts cheering again and the band starts playing)
  • Bad Bad Acting: Valerie Fox in her film Kiss Of Death.
    • "My darling, I have always loved—Oh no. Promo-theus."
  • Beach Bury: Marlon Brando during Jay's trip to the Cannes Film Festival.
  • Bears Are Bad News
    Bear handler: Come, Sasha. The last time you ate a critic you spent two weeks sitting on the can!
    • Cant forget Jays apparent dispute with the Three Bears from Goldilocks in "Dukarella"
    Jay: Oh hide me! Im being chased by three bears, theres a dispute over some porridge. Dont ask questions.
    Miranda: Oh Jay, dont tease
    *Something on the other side of the door roars and tries to claw its way through*
  • Betty and Veronica: Jay got into a brief Love Triangle with Alice (the Betty) and Jeremy's twin sister Olivia (the Veronica).
  • Big Applesauce: The series takes place in New York.
  • Big Eater: Jay and Marty Sherman.
    Vlada: (Picks up the phone) Tell Vlada Junior no Harvard.
    Jay: In fact, I may just have coffee!
    Vlada: (Sadly) Pull the plug on Mama.
  • Big Fancy House: The Sherman family's mansion. Ditto for Duke's mansion.
  • Big "NO!": Jay does this twice in "Miserable" when his "#1 fan" cuts off all his hair and looks as if she was about to break both his feet with a sledgehammer.
  • Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: In "Sherman of Arabia", after Jay sent a rat with an SOS message on it to Duke:
    Duke: (going through mail) Junk mail, junk mail, junk mail, rat from Jay, junk mail....
  • Bilingual Bonus: Vlada's restaurant L'ane Riche is French for "The Wealthy Jackass."
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor:
    • In the episode "Sherman, Woman, and Child."
      "I'm Jay Sherman, the famous film critic. I used to have a big show on ABC ... for about a week."
    • One of Jay's voiceovers during the show's Eye Catch:
      "You're watching FOX. Shame on you!"
    • In the episode "A Song For Margo":
      Margo: Johnny is just like you, Jay. He's not afraid of anything. Not even the TV networks.
      Jay: Well, they're all pretty crummy. (Turns to the camera when the FOX logo appears) Except for FOX. The last bastion of quality programming. (Does a salute) God bless you, little logo.
    • In the episode "All The Duke's Men":
      "It's a giant horse's ass! (Turns to the camera) You're watching FOX. Give us 10 minutes, we'll give you an ass."
    • And from another bumper:
      "You're watching FOX, where we can say the word 'boobies'!"
    • From the episode "From Chunk To Hunk":
      "Ah yes. Sweet, non-judgmental FOX Network, where coming in third is a triumph!"
    • In the first webisode, Jay recounts how he was cancelled at ABC, Fox, and Comedy Central. Fox's building is portrayed as a very scuzzy, shoddy, run-down building in the slums. Comedy Central's HQ meanwhile is nothing but a tent.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Carmen from "Martys First Date". After losing her glasses during the international food fight, she sees Marty in front of her as a handsome guy holding a rose. Once he gives the glasses back, her vision comes into focus on a pudgy kid holding a fork with a meatball on it. She still agrees to go on a date with him, though.
  • Brain Bleach: In Season Two, Doris starts revealing an attraction for Duke, and this often resulted in Duke having this kind of reaction.
    Doris: Duke, I've loved you for years. In fact, every thirty seconds I have a hot, steamy fantasy about the two of us.
    Duke: Ooh, uh, I got to take this elevator.
    Doris: It's just an open shaft!
    Duke: It's quicker! (steps in and plummets)
    • Later, Doris sends him a graphic nude photo of herself, which the audience sees (with Duke's fingers as the censor strip). Duke has a heart attack and cries for his pills.
    • In one of the webisodes, Jay went out to a stage production of The Graduate on Broadway, which featured a much talked about nude scene with Kathleen Turner as Mrs. Robinson. Unfortunately, she wasn't available, and Jon Lovitz served as her understudy, much to the disgust of the audience.
  • Brand X: "Hair in a Can" and "Phlegm Fatale Cigarettes."
  • Broken Heel: This affects Jeremy upon meeting Margo in "Miserable."
  • Burping Contest: Between Jay and Homer Simpson.
    • And Eudora Welty.
  • Butt Monkey: Jay and Marty.
  • The Cameo: Billy Crystal supplied the voice of Gary Grossman in one episode.
    • Phil Hartman provided THREE of the voices in "Eyes on the Prize" (respectively, Adolph Hitmaker, Bernie, and Professor Blowhard).
  • Cancellation: First by ABC, then by FOX.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Both Jay and his son get wasted after sharing one glass of wine, and only make the glass half empty.
  • Can't You Read the Sign?: On the first episode, Jay tells the taxi driver his dilemma about dating Valerie Fox. The driver points to a sign that reads, "Driver Only Knows Three Words of English." Those three words: "Look at sign!"
  • Catch Phrase:
    Jay: It stinks!
    Jay: Hotchie motchie!
  • Celebrity Paradox: Avoided with regard to Jon Lovitz, who exists in this show's universe — but he came to prominence on Yesterday Night Live. Jay's a big fan, but when he suggests by phone to a movie studio that in the wake of the remake Rebel Without a [Bill] Cosby they should make Dr. Strangelovitz, he has to explain who Lovitz is: "He's a character actor! ...No, I don't think he died!"
  • Chained to a Bed: In the episode "Miserable," a female projectionist (a.k.a. Jay's #1 fan) drugs Jay's glass of wine and ties him to her bed with strips of movie film.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: When a food fight occurs in Marty's school cafeteria, the French students immediately put their hands up and surrender, even though they did not participate.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the episode "Miserable," Jay’s #1 Fan shows Jay a cardboard cutout of himself holding a book he wrote. She tells him she hooked it up to her Clapper, and demonstrates by clapping to it, which results in the cutout waving the book up and down and saying "Buy my book!" multiple times. At the episode’s climax, when she madly lunges at and attempts to kill Jeremy, Jay claps his hands and triggers the cutout, hitting her on the head and knocking her unconscious.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In "A Day at the Races and a Night at the Opera," while Jay and Marty try on clothes at a department store, Marty discovers he is able to move his stomach up and down. He opens the door from the changing room to show his father, only to be told by a little girl that what he was doing was "gross." Feeling bad, he stops. Later, during a school talent show he attends, he attempts to play "Yankee Doodle" on his electric guitar, only for a string to break off just as he starts playing. Unfazed, he tells the audience "This is the only other thing I know how to do": he moves his vest out of the way and moves his stomach up and down again. The audience and Principal Mangosuthu become impressed. Marty performs more creative belly-dancing routines, and the audience gives him a standing ovation.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The ENTIRE CAST (aside from Jay and briefly Vlada) vanishes without a trace in the webisodes. This was probably a necessity of budget, as the webisodes were done on a shoestring and they couldn't afford to bring back the old voice cast.
    • It is implied that Jay and Alice's relationship ended in a messy divorce, though.
      • The "second divorce" Jay mentioned in the first webisode could have been with the Mexican woman he married in "Marty's First Date". Also the fact Alice was never mentioned by name. The web series seem to be pretty heavily noncanon.
  • Citizenship Marriage: At least that's how the Mexican airport employee sees it when she agrees to marry Jay (so he can travel to Cuba to save Marty) in the Season 1 episode "Marty's First Date":
    Mexican woman: Stop! You promised to marry me!
    Jay: All right, but I've got to tell you, I'm only marrying you to get to Cuba.
    Mexican woman: Well I am only marrying you for citizenship!
    Jay: (Starts crying) This is the most honest, caring relationship I've ever been in.
    • For the record, that part of the episode is pretty inaccurate: in Real Life, Mexican airliners don't care if an American citizen travels to Cuba via Mexico, as long they can pay the ticket. One just can't fly directly from America. (Permission is still needed from the U.S., though.)
  • Clip Show: Final episode of the second season, titled "I Can't Believe It's a Clip Show".
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Franklin Sherman is borderline insane.
  • Cluster F-Bomb / Sound Effect Bleep: Cher does this to Jay during his interview with her on Coming Attractions.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In "Miserable":
    Jay's #1 Fan: Whenever I get into a relationship with a man, they tend to get dominating and overcritical.
    Jay: I can see your point. Although, I wouldn't have used "overcritical," and I think your delivery was wooden and unconvincing.
  • Comically Serious: Satoshi - The Eater of Souls, who we see eating a Cookiepuss icecream cake, and singing "Big Girls Don't Cry."
  • Costume Ball: Duke holds one in the episode "Dukerella."
  • Couch Gag:
    • The beginning of the opening credits where Jay wakes up to a phone call from someone with bad or weird news. In the FOX episodes, they also added in Jay waking up to an announcement on his clock radio.
    • The opening credits also shows Jay on Coming Attractions showing a movie clip/parody (such as parodies of Raiders of the Lost Ark with the Nazis being knocked down like bowling pins by the boulder that Indiana Jones is running from, The Sound of Music where Julie Andrews is bumped into the camera and falls down a hill, a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie where said actors are eaten by a T-Rex, etc), to which Jay says "It stinks!"
    • The post-credits scene where an usher walks up to Jay and says, "Excuse me sir, the show's over." Jay's replies have been: 1)"Is the snack bar still open?" 2)"I'm stuck in the chair!" 3)"But I have nowhere to go." 4)"Get away, zitface!" (only used when the usher sounds like the Squeaky-Voiced Teen from The Simpsons.) There's also an end credits sequence in the FOX episodes that shows Jay and Alice kissing during the credits. When the usher (a different one this time) tells the couple "Excuse me, the show's over," Alice retorts "Get away, pipsqueak!" and Jay tells the audience "That's why I love her!"
  • Cousin Oliver: One of Duke’s attempts to improve Coming Attractions’ ratings was the addition of a cute child with a speech impediment.
    Jay: Well, I find you "wee-pulsive" and "wee-pugnant"!
    Kid: (now with a normal voice) Hey, that speech impediment shtick is copyrighted. You'll be hearing from my lawyers! I mean, wawyers.
  • Crossover: With The Simpsons, on that show's season six episode "A Star is Burns," the only episode not to have Matt Groening's name in the opening or closing credits (as Groening — and a lot of Simpsons fans — felt the crossover was an excuse to have the episode be little more than a 22-minute advertisement for a dueling show).
    • This is lampshaded — just before Jay walks into the Simpsons' living room, Bart is watching The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, and says he "smells another cheap cartoon cross-over." Lampshaded again in this exchange towards the end:
    Jay: And if you ever want to appear on my show-
    Bart: Nah, we won't be doing that. (Technically true in that the Simpsons never appear in-universe, although Bart and Homer do turn up on a TV screen in one episode.)
    • Jay also had a short cameo in season eight's "Hurricane Neddy" where he is a patient at a mental hospital, as his psychological state seems to have deteriorated to a point where he responds to everything with his Catch Phrase, and he is also in season fifteen's "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner" as one of four characters at Moe's Tavern who have been voiced by Jon Lovitz.
      • Keep in mind, it's established that The Simpsons is a cartoon show in Jay's world. So, Jay visited a fictional television show? The Simpsons family exist in a world where there's a cartoon based on them? Jay crossed over into a cartoon universe where both he and The Simpsons exist? KABOOM!
      • Perhaps in-universe, Jay simply guest starred as himself on a well-known TV series? That explains the lack of the other characters.
      • Literary Agent Hypothesis could also be another explanation.
  • Crunchtastic
  • Crying Indian: Duke wants "Savvy Indian Chewing Tobacco" to be a sponsor for Coming Attractions. He even has an Indian on the set holding a sign with said name on it. Refusing to take part in it, Jay rips up his contract and throws the pieces at the Indian's feet, making him shed a tear.
  • Curtain Clothing: In the episode "Dukerella", Miranda's costume ball dress was made out of curtains. She even had the venetian blinds as the back of the dress.
  • Cute Kitten: In "Frankie and Ellie Get Lost," during Coming Attractions, Duke tells Jay that the audience only tunes in for the funny clips, and then shows a black and white clip of two kittens playing Ping Pong with their paws. Jay is at first offended, but then he sees one of the kittens frisking with the ball.
    Jay: Haha, they are cute.
  • Darker and Edgier: Parodied in the first webisode. Jay ends the episode with, "Oh Jay, you bitch! It's the internet. I can say, "bitch"!
  • Dénouement Episode: "Dukerella" serves as one, as the last broadcast episode before the Take That episode "I Can't Believe It's a Clip Show!"
  • Deserted Island: The ending to "Frankie and Ellie Get Lost".
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?:
    Jay: (after Jeremy's sister Olivia introduces herself) I wonder what she looks like naked?
    Jay's brain: You idiot, you said that out loud. Better cover.
    Jay: I mean uh, I wonder what she cooks like ... naked?
    Jay's brain: (sarcastically) Oh, nice going.
    • Olivia doesn't mind. She asks if he'd like her to cook naked for him. Jay's stomach just wants the cookin'.
  • Diet Episode: "From Chunk To Hunk." Marty becomes slim and toned. Jay loses two pounds, which is apparently his college weight.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In the episode "Dial 'M' For Mother", Jay's life is ruined after he tells his adopted mother Eleanor to shut up live on Geraldo. This includes being picketed, vilified on television, and generally being shunned by the entire population of New York City. What really drives this home was that Jay only told Eleanor to shut up after she told some embarrassing and inappropriate stories about him live on Geraldo.
  • The Ditz: "I'm Dan Quayle. I gotta go boom-boom."
  • Double Entendre: A non-sexual example. When Duke's on the phone with the "spastic colon people", he asks if they can hold. Naturally, they can't.
  • Eenie, Meenie, Miny Moai: The Easter Island children have the stone Moai heads atop human bodies.
  • Embarrassing Rescue
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Satan denies Wings another season.
    • However, Satan claims that it's beyond even his power, not that it's an act so evil he wouldn't do it.
    • Satan also denies being the reason Cher won an Oscar, but takes credit for Marisa Tomei's win.
  • Every Episode Ending
  • Everything's Worse With Penguins: Apparently, they're bad pilots ("Penguins can't fly... PENGUINS CAN'T FLY!!!") and slack off drinking pina coladas when there's work to be done.
    • Is this possibly a reference to A Wish for Wings that Work? A similar scene happens where Opus is piloting an airplane in a dream sequence...
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Alice found out Cryus was cheating on her by the title of his first album: "I'm Cheating On My Wife Alice Tompkins. You Heard Me, Alice Tompkins."
  • Expy: Humphrey the Hippo.
    • Duke Phillips is like Ted Turner.
    • Franklin and Eleanor Sherman are named after Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. However, Eleanor more closely resembles Katharine Hepburn.
    • Jeremy Hawke is a mix of Paul Hogan, Russel Crowe and (pre-meltdown) Mel Gibson.
      • His twin sister Olivia Newton Hawke is, of course, Olivia Newton John.
  • Fan-Art: There isn't a lot of art out there, but they are absolutely worthy of taking a look at, such as the following: This portrait of Jay, Jay/Alice, Jay/Alice again, and some of the characters cosplaying as "Dragonball Z" characters (scroll down to see). There is also this piece where you can build your own Jay Sherman.
  • Femme Fatale: Valerie Fox is labelled this in the film industry.
  • Find the Cure: The plot of "Dr. Jay."
  • Fix Fic: In the episode "Dr. Jay," Duke creates "Phillipsvision," which changes films to have happy endings (such as Rhett returning to Scarlett) and script changes (such as changing Charles Foster Kane's last word from "Rosebud" to "Schwing"). With a mix of Executive Meddling, Viewers Are Morons and Lowest Common Denominator in-show.
  • Floating Advice Reminder: Played with in "Marty's First Date", in which the balloon containing Jay's head gets popped by a skier's poles — and goes flying around afterward.
    • Later, in the same episode, Jay starts complaining about being in the bubble and then being ignored. He then notices a fried banana stand. "Oooh! Fried bananas!" He starts floating toward the cart and opening and closing his mouth while the intermission theme to Ms. Pac-Man plays. The Ms. Pac-Man song is omitted in the DVD release.
  • Food Fight: An "international food fight" occurs at Marty's school cafeteria in the episode "Marty's First Date". (Which leads to the aforementioned French students' reaction).
  • Four Point Scale: Referenced in "A Little Deb Will Do Ya."
    Jay: This film gets my highest rating, seven out of ten!
  • Fully Automatic Clip Show: The final episode, aptly titled "I Can't Believe It's A Clip Show!"
  • Game Show Appearance: She and Jay appear as contestants on The Newlywed Game. They win.
  • GASP!: Jay does this in the pilot episode. After giving actress Valerie Fox (who was also his girlfriend at the time) a negative performance review on Coming Attractions, he returns home hoping that she will still be there. It turns out she is — only for her to slap him multiple times, telling him "You're short, you're fat, and even for a film critic you're ugly," and leaving him. Jay lets out a long shocked gasp after this.
  • Gene Hunting: Jay and Doris discover that Doris may be Jay's biological mother, only to find out that she is not so from a DNA test.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • In the episode "A Little Deb Will Do Ya," when Margo is getting fitted for her dress for the debutante ball, the dressmaker asks her what shade of white she wants:
      Dressmaker: Here's the skinny. We dressmakers have a very strict code, so I need to know, do you deserve to wear virginal white? Because if you don't, you'll have to wear an off-white, what we call a hussy white. So which will it be? White-White?
      Margo: Yes ... um, except for the gloves.
    • The infamous Orson Welles frozen peas commercial, where he says "Full of country goodness and green pea-ness!". Try saying that last part out loud if you don't get it.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Alice and her Southern Belle sister Miranda.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Jay has pairs of underwear that include titles of (mostly) bad movies printed on the backside (they're studio promotional items he's been sent over the years). The best of these is "Backdraft", but there's also "Rear Window" and "For The Boys".
  • Hair Today Gone Tomorrow: Technically a subversion: Miranda reminds Jay of when he first started losing his hair. Flashback to Jay wearing a white judge's wig, and speaking with a horrendous English accent.
    • Also, when Duke comes in and grabs the wig off his head, there's a Little Orphan Annie wig underneath, with Jay exclaiming "Leaping Lizards!"
  • Helium Speech: He speaks in a helium voice in "From Chunk to Hunk" due to a helium leak in the school.
    Mangosuthu: (Over intercom) Attention, students: Auditions for Peter Pan are being (Voice gets higher) held in the auditorium! (Voice back to normal) Stupid helium.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jay and Jeremy.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: In one of the opening gags during the main credits, Jay's boss Duke calls him, inviting Jay to his ranch upon the news that Duke has received a license to hunt man for sport. Jay is advised to bring his "jogging shoes."
  • Hypocritical Humor: "Talk about overusing a catch phrase! Hachi-machi, it stinks!"
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!
    Penny: Mama, Aunt 'randa's gonna teach me to giggle stupidly, to make men do my bidding!
  • "I Want" Song: "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" sung by Jay in the episode "Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice."
    • And a parody of "Don't Rain On My Parade" from Funny Girl.
  • Identical Stranger: Jay had one in "Miserable."
  • Impact Silhouette: In "Eye on the Prize," Jay returns from winning the Pulitzer to find Duke in his apartment.
    Jay: How did you get in?
    Duke: I have my ways.
    (Jay looks to the side, sees a Duke-shaped hole next to the door)
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: From the episode "From Chunk to Hunk":
    Penny: (Giving Marty a sheet of paper) Goodbye Marty. I wrote you a letter.
    (Marty sees only the letter P written on the page)
    Penny: You can read it on the bus.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: One could argue this with regards to Jon Lovitz as Jay Sherman. Parodied twice in-show with Howard Stern as The Cockroach King and a remake of Pinocchio featuring Jeremy as Bogart the Roach, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Geppetto, Robin Williams as the Beige Fairy, and Bob Dylan as the title character.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Played for the opening and closing credits. The theme is by Hans Zimmer.
  • It Will Never Catch On:
    William Daniels: Jay, I just want to say one word: Trucking.
    Franklin: And I have one word for you too, Son: Snapple.
    Jay: Oh, Dad, you and your nonsense words.
  • Jaw Drop
  • Junk Mail... Junk Mail... Junk Mail... Rat from Jay...: In "Sherman of Arabia."
  • Lame Rhyme Dodge:
    Jay: All right, it's just you and me. Now what did you think of my script?
    Gary Grossman: It was excrement.
    Jay: Did you say "it was excellent?"
    Gary Grossman: It was crummy.
    Jay: Did you say "it was yummy?"
    Gary Grossman: It was an awful piece of junk that made me want to puke all night.
    Jay: Did you say "it was an awesome piece of spunk that you want to shoot tonight?"
    Gary Grossman: It was a bilious piece of dirt that made me cry out in pain.
    Jay: Did you say "it was a brilliant piece of work, and you'll fly me to Spain? Where we'll meet King Juan Carlos and drink sangria all night?"
    Gary Grossman: You piece of blech.
  • Large Ham: Jay on occasion, but also Jon Lovitz in-universe.
  • Lighter and Softer: The second season was made over into this overall.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Hinted at in the episode where Jay goes on a date with Doris and it's implied she may be his birth mother. Doris recounts to Jay about how she used to date a short, balding fat guy who would always take her to movies and then complain about them.
  • Long List: Deciding to wipe her slate clean, Olivia tells Jay a list of all the men she had been with. The list is so long that Jay ends up growing stubble on his face and shaving. Conversely, his takes all of one second.
  • Loser Protagonist
  • Love at First Punch: Or in this case, pepper spray. Alice pepper sprays Jay in his face when they first meet on the street, but he was not harmed by the act. In fact, he rather liked it ("Mmm, jalapeño!"). However, in this case, no Strangled by the Red String is involved as their relationship has chemistry and flourishes more naturally. Jay is tempted by Jeremy Hawke's sister at one point, but only because he and Alice's relationship had not been resolved yet. As for Ardeth, well, Jay once paid her $200 just to tell her, "Get bent!"
    • Technically, he paid her $100 for that. She informs him (after he had already greeted her) that her lawyer says Jay owes her $100 every time he speaks to her.
  • Madonna: After her infamous guest appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman in 1994, her other TV show appearance a year later was just as awkward.
  • Make a Wish: In the episode "Uneasy Rider", Marty points to a shooting star and asks Jay to make a wish. The scene then cuts to said star hitting and destroying a billboard advertising Ace Ventura with Jay exclaiming "Thank you, God" while driving past the scene.
  • Marlon Brando: Gets lampooned in the show frequently.
    Jay: Just look at who got paid $10 million to play Barney.
  • The Merch: In "Miserable", Jay's #1 fan has a lot of these.
  • The Missus and the Ex: When Jay's girlfriend Alice and his ex-wife Ardeth meet for the first time, Ardeth tells Alice a spooky warning to "beware" and attempts to place a voodoo hex on her. Jay then has to remind Ardeth that the divorce judge has forbidden her to commit such conduct, but that doesn't stop her from trying to ruin things between them, in her continuous attempt to make him miserable for making her miserable.
  • My Eyes Are Up Here: Played literally straight (and a subversion of sorts) in the first episode.
    Jay: (openly staring at Valerie's breasts) Uh huh. Uh huh. Oh, yeeeeaaah.
    Valerie: (amused) What are you doing?
    Jay: (sadly sighing) Oh, I'm sneaking a peek at your maguppies. It's my stumbling attempt at intimacy.
    Valerie: If that's what you want, look in my eyes.
    (Valerie looks lovingly at him.)
    Jay: (shocked) OH YE GODS!!!
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: When Jay is about to be shot, his life flashes before his eyes. We then flash back to a teenage Jay on the couch, in a suit, eating chips. Jay fondly remarks, "Ah, prom night."
  • My Sister Is Off Limits: Inverted with Jeremy Hawke's sister Olivia. When Jeremy finds out his friend is dating her, is worried that she will hurt him because of her history of breaking up with her previous boyfriends.
  • Naked People Trapped Outside: In "Lady Hawke", as Jeremy and Olivia have a discussion of her relationship with Jay, Jay is locked outside his window wearing nothing but a towel. As soon as he mentions his limited apparel, a strong wind blows the towel off, followed promptly by a rainstorm. After a couple minutes, he's seen whimpering like a puppy wanting to come back in.
  • New Job Episode:
    • In "Eyes on the Prize," Jay is fired from Coming Attractions due to low ratings and gets a job teaching English on the 6:00 AM TV program English For Cab Drivers.
    • In "Uneasy Rider", Jay quits Coming Attractions and becomes a truck driver.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Played for laughs in "Dr. Jay." Jay manages to find a cure for Duke Phillips' terminal illness, saving his life. The end of the episode then plays a montage of other people who were saved by Jay's cure; they include a Klansmen, a Nazi, a baby seal clubber, a drunken tanker captain who causes an oil spill, a military dictator who declares "Your streets will run red with blood thanks to Jay's oil," and three prisoners.
  • The Nineties: The show aired from 1994 to 1995. These were also the years the show took place.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Trope Namer.
    Jay (during the show's closing credits): Celebrity voices are impersonated. No celebrities were harmed in the filming of this episode.
  • No Indoor Voice: "Stop making yourself the CENTERRRR OF ATTENTIOOOON!!!"
  • Non Sequitur Thud: In one episode, Jay gets hit in the head with a shot put.
    "Skull cracked. Brains leaking out. Can't wait to see new Chevy Chase movie."
    • While at fat camp, a simple walk tires Jay out to the point of being delirious.
      "Must see Tom Cruise win Oscar in - my - lifetime!"
      • So far, Magnolia (which was released four years after the show last aired) is the closest Cruise has ever reached.
  • Noodle Incident: After ticking off a group of children by making Humphrey The Hippo sad, we learn that Jay once sucker-punched Mister Rogers! What led to this is never explained.
  • Nose Tapping: When Vlada is speaking in a foreign language to his elderly waiter employee,note  the waiter will tap his nose back at him in reply.
  • Of Corset Hurts: Lampshaded by a maid pulling on corset strings, yelling, "Suck it in! Suck it in!", and it's revealed to be Jay Sherman. The corset, however, is put on more like a straitjacket than a corset, with Jay's arms bound as well. He mutters, "I don't think this is right." The maid scoffs at this, puts a top hat on him, and boots him out of the room.
  • Official Couple: Jay and Alice, Franklin and Elenor, Duke and Miranda.
  • Oh Wait, This Is My Grocery List
  • One-Liner Echo: "If the movie stinks, just don't go!"
  • Orson Welles: Another frequent target of the show. It helps that Maurice LaMarche has a role in the show.
    Orson Welles: Oh, what luck! There's a french fry stuck in my beard! (chomp, chomp) Oh, yeah.
  • Overly-Long Gag: Franklin thinks an owl is Wilson: "Whooo." "My wife, Eleanor." "Whooo." "My wife, Eleanor." "Whooo." "My wife, Eleanor."
    • It lasted 15 seconds. If it had been Family Guy, it would've gone on for 5 whole minutes.
    • And the Director's Cut of JFK, with 2 hours of new footage:
      • "Back... and to the left...Back... and to the left...Back... and to the left...Back... and to the left...Back... and to the left........Back... and to the left..."
      • Interestingly, the inflection is actually different on each "Back... and to the left" statement, which makes it even funnier.
    • "Plot? That's a funny word. Plot! Plot! Plot! PlotplotplotPLOTPLOTPLOT! PLOTPLOTPLOTPLOTPLOTPLOTPLOT!" (Jay gazes at a People Magazine cover proclaiming Gary the "smartest executive in Hollywood")
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: "New York's third most popular early-morning cable-TV film critic."
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Duke Phillips pays Noah Webster to put the words "Quzybuk" (meaning "a big problem"), "Dukelicious", and "Duketastrophe" in the dictionary. Ignore the fact that Noah Webster has been dead for 150 years.
    • Notably, he did it just so he'd get a really high score in Scrabble.
      • Also notable in that a seemingly random character uses the recently-invented "Quzybuk" when talking to Jay later in that same episode.
    • Describing Lorenzo's Oil.
    Duke: Isn't that the film you described as a combination of fantasy and crap?
    Jay: Yes! I called it "fantacrap"!
  • Pet the Dog: Despite the fact that Ardeth was sleeping with the divorce court judge, he still forbade her from bothering any of Jay's girlfriends with spooky warnings or hexes. Not that it stops her.
    • Also, even if Ardeth is genuinely disgusted by her time married to Jay, she admits that the two of them have done a good job raising their son.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: Savvy Indian Chewing Tobacco was going to be called Savage Indian, but was changed due to concerns over political correctness.
  • Prime Time
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Repeating Ad: Jay's talking billboard in "Miserable".
  • Re Tool: In-Universe, Duke's pet project Hee Haw: The Next Generation was apparently just a modern version of the original ("We've got Junior Samples, Jr.!"); when we see it later on, it's morphed into Hee Haw meets Star Trek: The Next Generationliterally. Worf plays a mean hambone.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: In "A Song for Margo." He’s even slightly redesigned to look like he stepped out of a Dr. Seuss book.
    Shackleford: Before I was your butler, I would buttle for the Beatles, and the Turtles and the Eagles, and the Kings of Heavy Metal.
    Johnny Wrath: You're a Heavy Metal Eagle Turtle Beatle butler?
    Shackleford: And I once dusted the lamp of John Cougar Mellencamp.
    Johnny Wrath: Would you like to work for me?
    Shackleford: This was clearly meant to be.
    Elenor: I never knew you had this itch.
    Shackleford: Live and learn, you wicked witch!
    Elenor: I wish I hadn’t used the word "itch."
  • Ridiculous Exchange Rates: In "Dr. Jay", Duke comments the French franc is "fancy-colored toilet paper."
  • "Risky Business" Dance: Seen in the movie parody A Few Good Monsters.
  • Romantic False Lead: Alice's adulterous ex-husband Cyrus who travels to New York to win her back. He sings to her in order to do so, which is Alice's weakness. ("Alice, you make any home a palace. Even Brooklyn would be Dallas, if I could be with you.") It almost works until Jay arrives playing an accordion and singing an obnoxious yet funny song of his own, snapping her out of it. It was a Crowning Moment Of Awesome for Jay. And ditto for the song Jay sings:
    Cyrus is just a virus.
    He wants to tie you down while you’re still young.
    Your potential is what’s essential.
    You could someday be another Connie Chung!
    Jay finally breaks the spell with this exchange
    Cyrus: (Singing) Lover, without you there's no other...
    Jay: (Interrupting, singing) Give him a chance, he'll do your mother!
    After making Cyrus leave, Alice finishes it
    Alice: (Singing) Jay, I'm glad that you're not gay. I may show you why someday. (Kisses Jay on the cheek)
    Jay: (Smiling at her) Yay!
  • Rousing Speech: In "Eyes on the Prize", Jay aims to win another Pulitzer Prize so he could get back his respectability. He writes an essay entitled "The Sorry State of Films Today" and presents it on the TV program English For Cab Drivers, which ends up being a parody of the climax to Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.
    "I am a movie critic by trade, and until recently, I got paid to tell you people which movies merely stink and which ones you shouldn't screen near an open flame. Well, I'm putting the burden of lousy movies back on you. It's very simple: if you stop going to bad movies, they'll stop making bad movies. If the movie used to be a TV show, just don't go. After Roman numeral II, give it a rest. If it's a remake of a classic, rent the classic. Tell them you want stories about people, not a hundred million dollars of stunts and explosives. People, it's up to you. If the movie stinks, just don't go."
    • Understandably, some are less than pleased.
      Arnold Schwarzenegger: If da moovee steenks, just don't go... WHAT AM I SAYING?!
    • Some take it even further.
      Hollywood Executive: Uh oh, the jig is up! *dives out office window*
    • Someone wasn't listening.
      Franklin: If the movie stinks, do-si-do.
      Shackleford: Allemande Left, sir. (they square dance)
  • Rule of Three: From "Eyes on the Prize." To prove to Jay that he's being repetitive, Duke shows Jay a three-split screen video of himself.
    Jay: (section 1, from 1988) Rain Man (section 2, from 1992) A Few Good Men (section 3, from 1993) The Firm (all together) is the latest stinker from Tom Cruise. He doesn't act anymore, he's on ... Cruise Control! AAAAAAHAHAHA! AAAAAAHA! I JUST ... I JUST! MADE THAT! UP!
  • Running Gag
    • Duke always assuming Jay is gay.
      • Duke does admit that he knows Jay isn't gay, and just does it to tweak him. Unfortunately, when he and Jay have a Group Hug, Jay's content Squee disturbs him.
    • Jay's stomach having a mind of its own.
    • Dumb college students who watch Coming Attractions, only to mock Jay.
    • Jay sounding like an elderly British woman named "Ethel" and pretending to be his secretary, even having conversations with "her." This gag only appears in the first season.
    • The Paparazzo who always appears to take a picture just at the most embarrassing time.
    • Dudley Moore as Arthur Bach making a terrible joke while intoxicated
    • A minor one features a character shouting "[Plural noun] can't/don't [verb]!" in a panic. Such as Jay's "Eggs don't ripen! EGGS DON'T RIPEN!" and Franklin's "Penguins can't fly! PENGUINS CAN'T FLY!"
  • Satan: Appears a few times.
    • He takes credit for Marisa Tomei winning the Oscar, for one.
      Satan: (phoning Jay in the opening credits) Hello Jay, this is the Devil. Despite what you think, I am not the reason Cher won an Oscar. I am the reason Marisa Tomei won an Oscar. (Growls evilly and hangs up.)
    • He also is shown to be responsible for influencing the creation of really awful Hollywood screenplays, but admits that it's beyond even his power to give the cast of Wings another season.
    • Also appears in an interview with Gene Siskel, disguised as a reviewer.
      Reviewer: Tim Allen gives that same likeable performance we always love, once again proving Disney Pictures have the magic touch that may not win awards, but keep America smiling. How was that?
      Gene Siskel: You're Satan, aren't you?
      (Reviewer transforms into his real form: Satan)
      Satan: You win another round, Siskel, but we shall meet again! (growls angrily and disappears)
  • Samus Is a Girl: In "A Little Deb Will Do You," it turns out that Humphrey the Hippo is played by the woman who's attracted to Jay.
  • Satellite Character: Duke's aide.
  • The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: Valerie Fox is a suspect of this.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Duke feels his wealth allows him to do anything he wants.
  • Sealed with a Kiss: Jay and Alice at the end of the episode "Lady Hawke."
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: At the end of the pilot episode, this literally happens during a scene from Seinfeld that Jay and Marty watch.
    George: I thought you were taking Cathy out tonight.
    Jerry: Why do they call it "taking out?" I took her to a restaurant. It wasn't out, it was in. I would say I'm taking her in, but then she sounds like a pair of pants.
    • Marty claims that is what "real people" sound like. (Do they?)
  • Self-Deprecation: Much of their Take That was aimed at FOX. "Where coming in third is a triumph!"
  • Sequelphobic: Parodied as all of the really terrible movies are often sequels.
  • Serenade Your Lover: See Romantic False Lead above.
  • Shameless Self-Promoter: "VOTE FOR DUKE!" messages appearing during "Coming Attractions" in the episode "All The Duke's Men" where Duke ran for president.
    • In "A Song For Margo," Jay remarks that all the networks are pretty crummy, except for FOX, "the last bastion of quality programming." Then he salutes the logo in the bottom right of the screen. (See also Biting-the-Hand Humor above.)
    • "Buy my book! Buy My Book! BUY MY BOOK!"
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the pilot, they reference Beauty and the Beast with "Beauty and King Dork" - complete with CGI ballroom.
    • Turns out Vlada and his son are from Pottsylvania.
    • From "Frankie and Ellie Get Lost," Franklin acting like Curly after first drinking alcohol which made him into his present stupid state, with Albert Einstein and Ted Kennedy acting like Larry and Moe respectively.
    • Prince Charles sounds like one of the Gumbies, while Queen Elizabeth sounds like the troupe's usual Cross-Dressing Voices, particularly the "women" in the Spam sketch.
    • One of the more Stealth Pun Shout Outs of the show is Alice's sister Miranda using venetian blinds for her dress, a reference to the famous Gone with the Wind spoof from The Carol Burnett Show.
    • The Crying Game: In the season 1 episode "A Little Deb Will Do Ya", Jay meets the girl of his dreams, but she has a secret - down there. Turns out she's wearing the bottom half of the Humphrey the Hippo costume, his chief rival.
    • A reviewer's face melting off and reducing him to a skeleton (after Roger Ebert shows him a clip of a bad movie) is a reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark.
    • The episode "Miserable" is an obvious parody of Misery. The female projectionist even resembles Kathy Bates.
    • Penultimate episode "Dukerella" is a cross between Cinderella and A Streetcar Named Desire.
    • Arthur. A drunken Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore) appears in several episodes.
    • The penguin pilot's "Waakwakwakwak" speech imitates Burgess Meredith's laugh as, yup, The Penguin from the '60s Batman show.
    • The ending of "Frankie and Ellie Get Lost" has a closing shot of Gilligan's Island, complete with theme song.
    • Franklin dressed up as El Kabong is a reference to Quick-DrawMcGraw.
    • Elenor saying "No more wire hangers!" is a direct reference to the film Mommie Dearest.
    • Alice's Take That to Tim Allen is funnier when you consider The Critic had preceded his show before ABC dumped it.
      Alice: Listen, honey, I've known men like Duke all my life. There was this one boy back in college – dealt drugs, went to jail – yet today he's the star of Home Improvement.
    • "A Pig-Boy & His Dog" concludes with "That's all, folks!"
    • The "Rosebud Frozen Peas" commercial is a direct spoof of the Frozen Peas blooper tape.
    • In the episode "Marty's First Date", the intermission music from Ms. Pac-Man plays after Jay gets a whiff of some fried bananas. The song is omitted in the DVD release.
    • In "Dukerella", Jay and Alice dress up as Homer and Marge Simpson, respectively. The same episode has Franklin dressing up as The Mask.
      Franklin: "Daaa-rinkin'!"
    • Jeremy mentions his first role was in an Australian movie called Kegger Party At Hanging Rock.
  • Shout Out To Shakespeare: Keanu Reeves in The Merchant of Venice:
    Shylock: Hath not a dude eyes? If you prick us, do we not get bummed? If we eat bad guacamole, do we not blow chunks?
  • Show Within a Show: Coming Attractions, which featured the use of Ad Bumpers.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: What "Jay's #1 fan" did to Jay while he introduced himself to her.
  • Sit Comic: The show starred Jon Lovitz.
  • Skyward Scream:
  • Sleeping Single: In Franklin and Elenor's bedroom, it is shown that they sleep in seperate beds.
  • Slow Loading Internet Image: In the first webisode, Jay brags about "coming at you at the speed of light!" Pull back to show his legs still downloading.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: In one episode, Humphrey the Hippo is used by a cigarette corporation to advertise smoking cigarettes to young children. When Jay complains, the corporation's CEO asks Jay what kids will do after they have sex if they can't smoke.
  • Sound Effect Bleep: Utilized when Jay interviewed Cher, who incessantly swore at him.
  • Spinning Paper: Done a few times in the show.
    • When Jay went missing during the New York marathon and was presumed dead.
    • When Jay is nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
  • Spork: This cutlery is mentioned at least twice throughout the show.
    • A scene from the pilot.
    • From the episode "Lady Hawke":
      Chicken Shack employee: You want a piece of me, fat boy? I'll spork your ass!
      • That might only provoke Jay.
  • Stalker Shrine: The projectionist in "Miserable" has one for Jay.
    Jay: You seem to have an unhealthy obsession with me. I like that in a girl!
  • Star Trek: Two of Marty's classmates are Klingons.
  • Status Quo Is God: Marty regains all the weight he lost in "From Chunk to Hunk," contriving his despair because he has become too popular. He promptly eats all of the ice cream in an ice cream parlor to restore his weight.
  • Stealth Cigarette Commercial: In the 1950s, Doris was in a commercial for Pleghm Fatale cigarettes.
    Doris: (singing) Smoke in the bathroom, smoke after school, don't listen to your parents, 'cause smoking's really cool.
  • Stealth Pun: The E.T. parody, D.T. stands for drunken terrestrial. D.T. also stands for delirium tremens, alcohol withdrawals severe alcoholics go through.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In one episode, a research scientist uses the previously mentioned "Quzybuk" word Duke invented.
  • Suckiness Is Painful: Several times with films, but most notable is when Roger Ebert tries to find a replacement for Gene Siskel, and tests one candidate by showing him some of the films he'd have to review. A remake of Mrs. Doubtfire starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is sufficient to reduce the candidate to a skeleton (a la Toht's death in Raiders of the Lost Ark), and Sylvester Stallone in a Waiting for Godot rehash (Yo! Godot, I'm Waitin' Heeya!) makes the skull fall off.
  • Super Strength: Duke Phillips. Makes sense because he uses Jay Sherman as a weight for lifting.
  • Take That: Done frequently on Coming Attractions.
    Jay: Well, that's our show. All the movies stink, particularly the three by John Hughes.
    • There's a literal example in one episode. Elenor has finally managed to buy Pablo Picasso's Guernica, and the moment its taken out of the truck, Franklin drives through it in a monster truck (with Penny in the passenger seat) and exclaims, "Take THAT, Guernica!"
    • Every U.S. President from Nixon to Clinton was the target of a "Take That" at least once during the show's run.
      • One of the biggest was in "Vote For Duke", where Duke states that he'll run the country like he runs his company - namely, raiding the pension fund, dump chemicals in the ocean, and sell off their best assets to the Japanese. This is followed by Ronald Reagan watching the TV and saying "Ooh, looks like Reaganomics is making a comeback!"
    • The show takes plenty of shots at Home Improvement, which it preceded during its time on ABC. "A Pig-Boy and His Dog" has Franklin talking with his neighbor Wilson, eg. a scarecrow with a frog and later an owl, segments which end with Home Improvement-style animations. Jay even mentions the show by name at the end.
  • The Taxi: Jay is seen traveling by taxi a few times.
  • Tempting Fate: After Jay is rescued from Iraq, President George H.W. Bush poses for a publicity shot with him.
    Aide: Sir, are you sure it's wise to be photographed with a film critic? It's the most despised profession there is ... Except for pre-op groin shaver.
    Bush: Hey, my approval rating's 90%. How much harm can a little film critic do?
    (After the photo is taken, it appears on the front page of The New York Chronicle with the headline "BUSH LOSES! — Fat, Lecherous Hillbilly Elected.")
  • That Came Out Wrong: While Jay didn't realize it, his statement of "Hey, you don't understand! We Americans aren't like you Australians. It's not just about sex! We want to make love our mothers!" had Jeremy understandably put off.
  • That's All, Folks!
    Movie Usher: (to Jay after the show's closing credits) Excuse me sir, the show's over.
    Jay: (says one of the following four responses)
    * Is the snack bar still open?
    * But I have nowhere to go.
    * I'm stuck in the chair!
    * Get away, zit-face! (Only in closing credits where the usher sounds like the pimple-faced teen from The Simpsons.)
    • In "Lady Hawke" and "Dukerella"
      Usher: Excuse me, the show's over.
      Alice: Get away, pipsqueak!
    • And makes another one when he leaves his apartment.
  • That Poor Cat: "Sorry, Mittens."
  • There Is a God!: When Jay Sherman became a trucker and took his son on a trip, Marty pointed out a shooting star, insisting his father make a wish. Jay thinks a moment, and said shooting star annihilates a billboard advertising Ace Ventura. Quote the critic, "Thank you, God!"
    • Also another episode where a man was told to remove the title for a play because it was cancelled, the man says these exact words.
  • There Was a Door: Duke is somehow able to make an Impact Silhouette by just walking through Jay's wall.
  • Title Please
  • Title: The Adaptation: Parodied with Hee Haw: The Next Generation.
  • Ugly Guy Hot Girlfriend: Jay and Alice were an established couple during the second season. Jay being a short funny fat guy, with the beautiful southern belle Alice.
    • Can be partially explained by her self esteem issues surrounding her sister, and her abusive unfaithful ex-husband. Jay being a sweetheart helps too. Explaining the girl from the Webisodes, however, is just way off.
    • Despite being deemed as incredibly ugly and obese in the show, Jay's attracted several other women who clearly are out of his league, including his #1 fan and Olivia.
  • Uncanny Valley: invoked Invoked when a robotic Rosie Perez approached Roger Ebert and Jay about It Could Happen To You. When the Perez-bot shorts out from a Logic Bomb (Jay: "Ben Turpin is dead!"note ), she crashes through the wall and sucks on a live wire. Then enters William Shatner.
    William Shatner: (like a robot) Great-party-wouldn't-you-say? Read-my-book-read-my-book-read-my-book...
    Jay: Hey! There's the William Shatner robot!
    Roger Ebert: No, that's really him.
    William Shatner: (rushing over to Perez) Don't bogart that juice, Rosie! (starts sucking down electricity from the live wire like alcohol.)
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Besides the fact that the Twin Towers are in the intro sequence, some of the (then) fake movies reviewed actually got made later ("Jurassic Park 2"). And Cats has been closed since 2000.
    • Then there's the "topical" political references. Jokes about Malcolm Forbes and Admiral James Stockdale do not age well.
  • Unwanted Harem: To his chagrin, Marty becomes a Chick Magnet at his school after he loses weight in "From Chunk to Hunk."
  • Unwanted Spouse: Jay is a victim of this. His ex-wife Ardeth admitted to his face of regretting marrying him, during the wedding ceremony.
    • In the episode "Marty's First Date," a flashback reveals how they met. She was a nurse and Jay was wrapped in bandages. She was so lovestruck by him that she was going to give up her job and marry him upon recovery. But when his bandages come off, she screamed like bloody murder!
    • Also Alice's husband Cyrus. A country singer who titled his first album "I'm being unfaithful to my wife, Alice Tompkins. You heard me, Alice Tompkins."
  • Video Wills: Franklin and Elenor prepared their own video will, which was presented to Jay and Margo after their possible death from a plane crash. Orson Welles also took part in it (and made sure to also include his "declaration of love" to Mrs. Pell's Fishsticks at the end).
  • Viewers Are Morons: This attitude gets a lot of spoofing in-show.
  • Virgin in a White Dress: Jay's sister, Margo, was forced to attend a debutante ball, and the dressmaker asked if she wanted to wear white, or an off-white he called "Hussy White". Margo said she wanted plain white... except for the gloves.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: She becomes this with Jay in "Every Doris Has Her Day."
  • Webisode: Ten of these were made throughout 2000-2001, but YMMV on them.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The webisodes, of course, had to drop the other main characters due to lack of time and the original voice actors. One curious ommission, however, was Jeremy - whose voice actor was working on the webisodes.
  • What If?: ComicBookMovie.com made their own cast list for a live-action movie, if one was in the works.
  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: Jay's adoptive parents embody this trope, except for the incest. They do, however, try to arrange a date between Margo (their biological teen daughter) and a teenage boy who really bleeds Blue Blood for the debutante ball.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The Season 2 episode "Sherman of Arabia."
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Franklin delights in destroying priceless art with a monster truck.
    Franklin: Take That Guernica!
    Franklin: Take That Birth of Man!
  • Woody Allen: Gets lampooned in the show a few times (often in reference to dating his adopted stepdaughter Soon-Yi [or an Asian girl who looks like her]).
    Woody: Soon-Yi, I-I’m sorry. I just can’t get past this problem with your age. You know, 22 is just too old for me.
  • Yandere: Jay's #1 fan from "Miserable."
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: Alice once said to Jay "Honey, we have a saying back in Tennessee: 'Be a mensch, not a schmendrick.'"
  • YouTube Poop: Mainly ones using the "Rosebud Frozen Peas" ad and Jay answering the phone in his room from the opening credits.
    • Some YouTube Poops feature Jay's "Buy my book!" billboard.

Code LyokoTropeNamers/Western AnimationDanny Phantom
Creature ComfortsPrime Time CartoonDan Vs.
Cow and ChickenThe Renaissance Age of AnimationDaria
Creepy CrawlersWestern Animation of the 1990sCro
Alienators: Evolution ContinuesCreator/Columbia PicturesDinosaucers
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