YMMV: Mad Men


  • Acceptable Professional Targets: Psychiatrists and Ad Men like themselves, as lampshaded by Roger.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Betty a paranoid, spoiled, and selfish bully? Or is she a victim of the times and years of psychological abuse from her parents and Don? Quite possibly both at the same time, but good luck getting two fans to agree.
  • Anvilicious: Camille Paglia's beef with the first season of the show—namely, that it's tainted by the pretentiousness of "hindsight":
    "I was there! I lived through that period. Mad Men doesn’t capture one single thing about the décor, costumes, or sexual interaction [of The Sixties]. It is a total projection of contemporary snarky attitudes into the past. If you want to see what women were actually like in that period of sexual repression, just put in a DVD of Psycho and watch the phenomenal Janet Leigh as a secretary in a Phoenix office at the start. That is it!''
  • Arc Fatigue: Season 6 received some criticism because the story doesn't advance as evenly as the previous seasons, with most of the exposition being in "For Immediate Release" and the last three episodes. Some also found it had a few retread episodes like "A Tale of Two Cities."
  • Award Snub:
    • Season 5 received 17 Emmy nominations, among the most the show's received in a single year, and walked away with 0 wins.
    • As of Season 7, the show's received a total of 34 acting nominations and has never won.
    • The show has also never won for Directing, which is also something that no other 4-time winner has ever done.
    • Among the few never to be nominated is Vincent Kartheiser as Pete, who many thought was deserving of consideration for his work in Season 5's "Signal 30".
    • Despite the significant presence he was given in Season 6, James Wolk was deemed ineligible to compete in the Guest Actor category when the producers/network failed to submit him on the nominating ballot.
  • Awesome Music:
    • Don's girl-watching and PowerWalk to The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" in "The Summer Man".
    • Back in season one, "Babylon" ends with a gorgeous version of the 18th-century round "Waters of Babylon".
    • The entire score by David Carbonara can also qualify, particularly the three most notable pieces: "Lipstick," "The Men of Sterling Cooper," and "The Carousel."
    • "Tomorrow Never Knows" playing over the final montage of "Lady Lazarus" does an effective job of conveying how it would have felt to hear the psychedelic song for the first time in 1966.
    • "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks playing as Peggy quits after one too many snubs by Don.
    • Don walking off the set of Megan's commercial into darkness as the title song from the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice sung by Nancy Sinatra plays.
    • From "Time Zones", Don and Megan's first scene, set to the Spencer Davis Group's "I'm a Man".
  • Base Breaker:
    • Betty, as evidenced by Alternative Character Interpretation.
    • Megan and her relationship with Don. A good deal of the fanbase wanted him to end up with Faye, and Megan's ambition, and particularly her desire for an acting career, make her out to be a strong independent woman to some, a selfish talentless egomaniac to others.
    • Bob Benson. The split generally comes between those who enjoyed his Magnificent Bastard machinations and James Wolk's delectable performance as him, and those who thought he got too much screentime at the expense of the main characters for a payoff that was underwhelming, given how it showed that he was basically another Don Draper.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: "Waterloo" ends with Bert Cooper's surprise musical performance of "The Best Things in Life are Free". The late Bert Cooper. It Makes Sense in Context, and is a rather well-done sendoff for Bert and tribute to Robert Morse's Broadway career, chiefly his leading role in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
  • Broken Base: "The Other Woman" provoked some extreme reactions in the fandom.
    • "The Crash" proved to be one of the series' more divisive episodes. Great episode conveying the casual drug use and influence of psychedelic motifs in the 1960s and foreshadowing Don's ultimate collapse, or poor episode attempting to be overly artistic and unorthodox without having enough substance to justify it? Some of those who dislike the episode also compare it unfavorably to Season 5's "Far Away Places", which already dealt with drug use in a way that got the show to experiment with its characters' mentalities, all the while advancing the storyline.
    • "New Business" alienated some viewers, who found it relatively dull in its focus on Don and Megan's divorce proceedings, occasionally interrupted by a relationship that Don formed with a waitress who had just been introduced in the previous episode. Along with the general annoyance that some people have with Megan, those who didn't like the episode noted that it was peculiar to give so much time to a new character, when there were only a handful of episodes left to deal with personal arcs of the other members of the main cast. The opposing viewpoint responded that the episode was okay enough in getting Megan out of the way so that the rest of the season could be spent focusing on those characters.
  • Continuity Lock-Out: In addition to the character development, the gradual change of time from 1960 to 1970 really adds to the viewing experience.
  • Creator's Pet: Glen. Played by the producer's son, he increasingly moves into this role as it becomes harder and harder to tell if he's supposed to be a Creepy Child or the kid just can't act.
    • To some extent, Betty Draper in the early seasons. Both Weiner and her actress claim that she will get more understandable and pitiable, if not sympathetic later on. However, it soon becomes harder and harder to tell if she's actually meant to be pitiable in the first place as her abuse of Sally escalates, or due to January Jones's bad acting.
    • Megan Draper, particularly in Season 5. A sizable contingent was turned off at how hard Weiner and the show was trying to sell her as the perfect woman who was just "good at everything."
    • Joan. Though more "Costume Designer's Pet". She still has a large following of fans.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: In a critical essay in The New York Review of Books, writer Daniel Mendelsohn charges the show with doing this:
    "As the camera glides over Joan’s gigantic bust and hourglass hips, as it languorously follows the swirls of cigarette smoke toward the ceiling, as the clinking of ice in the glass of someone’s midday Canadian Club is lovingly enhanced, you can’t help thinking that the creators of this show are indulging in a kind of dramatic having your cake and eating it, too: even as it invites us to be shocked by what it’s showing us (a scene people love to talk about is one in which a hugely pregnant Betty lights up a cigarette in a car), it keeps eroticizing what it’s showing us, too."
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Don's many flaws are often overlooked due to this effect, even though the show itself does its best to illustrate the double standard.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Joey's rape comment to Joan. Really, really not funny, to the point it makes a brief, rare visible impression on her.
  • Ear Worm: "Zou Bisou, Bisou..."
    • The theme song.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Joan became the toast of fans and critics during the first season for her attitude and distinctive figure, gaining a much more important role as the series wore on.
    • Miss Blankenship dies a few episodes after she is introduced but seems to have won a lot of fans for being a queen of one-liners Roger says that's not all that she was queen of. The cantankerous old woman can even put Bert Cooper in his place and totally get away with it.
    • Sally Draper has received much more screen time and character development then her brother Bobby.
    • Rachel Menken appeared for only the first season, but was a very effective and memorable foil for Don.
    • Sal was the most liked junior executive early on and a sympathetic portrayal of a gay man discovering his sexuality, and many discussions see fans wanting him back.
    • Dawn and Shirley are this for a lot of fans. Being they're two best friends that serve as the Daria and Jane of the agency and are the only African-American staffers on the show. Dawn's Plucky Girl storylines and Shirley's sass and short skirts don't hurt either.
    • Trudy Campbell has always been popular with the fanbase, but her Moment Of Awesome when she kicks Pete Campbell out with a rousing "Reason You Suck" Speech pushed her into a bit of a twitter sensation.
    • Some have found Meredith (epitome of Dumb Blonde in this show) to become this following her assignment as Don's Secretary in Season 7. Her innocent naiveté complements Don's weariness quite well.
    • Bob Benson (for those that don't consider him The Scrappy) is this among quite a number of fans, due to his Magnificent Bastard tendencies, his almost creepily optimistic nature, and the strength of James Wolk's performance. The "NOT GREAT, BOB" meme that emerged following the Season 6 finale probably helped ascend him to this position.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Joan and Roger.
    • From Season 4, Don and Faye.
    • Peggy and Stan who later become the Official Couple in the series finale.
    • Michael Ginsberg and Dawn Chambers, likely due to being polar opposite in personality and that they were the tokens of the agency and hired at the same time. The premiere of Season 7A even threw in a Ship Tease with Dawn acting slightly flirtatious with Ginsberg, though nothing came of it.
    • Peggy and Don or Don and Joan. Sometimes there is a threesome involved in fan fiction.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • More or less everything about Don's sexual behavior after it is revealed in "The Crash" that his first sexual experience was to be raped by a prostitute when he was a teenager. And then he was beaten with a wooden spoon for it by his adoptive mother. It... explains a lot. There's also the fact that his mistress for most of season six, Sylvia Rosen, has a beauty mark in the same spot as the aforementioned prostitute.
    • Every scene with Pete's hilariously senile mother in Season Six becomes this after Manolo marries her and then murders her for her money.
    • Pete jokes in season 3 that "Moneypenny" (Lane) "hasn't self-destructed yet." Lane commits suicide two seasons later.
    • In "The Monolith", Ginsberg gets some good zingers at how the IBM machine is going to replace them all. In "The Runaways", this gets a whole lot less funny when Ginsberg's paranoia over the machine leads to a psychotic breakdown.
    • In "A Day's Work", Sally jokes about getting time off from school if her mother died when she attends a funeral for her roommate's mother. In "The Milk And Honey Route", her mother Betty is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
  • Growing the Beard: Season two's improvement on the first is reflected in Paul Kinsey's new facial hair. Though his character starts to take a bit of a slide...
    • The bigger focus on Creative and the development of it into a close and formidable team is reflected by Stan Rizzo growing the beard. Him, Peggy and Mike Ginsberg are creative powerhouses.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • "I'll be here the rest of my life!" Yes you will, Lane, yes you will...
    • In Season 1, Joan is helping Peggy move to her new office as a result of her promotion, Joan makes some comments about how people who get what they want won't be happy, basically shaming Peggy for her non-domestic ambitions and for supposedly not caring about her looks the way Joan does. Joan even condescendingly says "I said 'Congratulations' didn't I?" Flash forward towards the end of Season 2: Joan is engaged (and was raped) by her fiancee while a perky Peggy gets a new office where she doesn't have to share with the Xerox machine, Peggy sincerely states she's happy they both got what they wanted while Joan represses any urge to tell Peggy how her relationship sucks.
    • Season 1 had Betty commenting to Don that she never wanted to become "old and ugly", flash-forward 10 years later and at age 38, Beautiful Betty is informed she has lung cancer and less than a year to live.
    • Season 6 has shown Betty thinking she has a tumor and dreaming about her death, later meeting an old friend dying from a terminal disease. Then in 7B, she is revealed to have 6 months to a year left in her life after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
    • Don's drinking is even more uncomfortable after it was announced Jon Hamm went to rehab for alcoholism before Season 7B aired.
    • Any time Betty is seen lighting up after she's diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in Season 7B.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Roger complaining in "The Color Blue" about how he 'found' Don. We learn in "Waldorf Stories" that he didn't think a thing of Don when they met - and at the very least only hired him because he was black-out drunk, and may not have actually hired him so much as Don just convinced him that he did and forgot about it.
    • While discussing the film adaptation of 'The Best of Everything' with Betty, Don mentions how Sal couldn't stop talking about Joan Crawford, a famous gay icon of the 50's and 60's.
    • Sterling mentions getting drunk and trying on the suit of armor in Lane's office. Sounds like something his son in another franchise would do...
    • Megan reads an audition script for Dark Shadows and is soon ranting about how terrible it is. This episode, itself titled "Dark Shadows," happened to air on the very weekend that Tim Burton's film version of the classic soap opera was released.
    • Peggy's mother admonishes her for cohabitating with Abe, advising her to get a cat instead. In season 6, she breaks up with him and does just that.
  • Ho Yay: Don and Roger, the epic bromance of the Sixties. They drink and womanize their way through the show, and while they may fight, they always make up. In season three, Bert Cooper stages an intervention for them when their fighting (over Roger's second marriage and Don's lack of respect for Roger) causes problems at Sterling-Cooper, and their reunion assists in finalizing Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Pryce. Don's conversation with Roger in "The Suitcase", with Roger begging Don to accompany him to dinner (albeit one with Freddy Rumsen and Cal Rutledge, neither of whom Don or Roger like) is even more Ho Yay-ish than usual:
    Roger: I've still got your ticket.
    Don: It's an attractive offer.
    Roger: Look out your window, see me waving?
    Don: (smiling) Goodnight, sweetheart.
    • Sal has a crush on Ken Cosgrove, which he attempts, all too subtly, to get across in "The Gold Violin." By remaining completely oblivious, Ken doesn't really do any more to dispel it than he does to encourage it, so at end of the episode it's still just hanging depressingly in the air.
    • What about Don and Lane Pryce in The Good News (season 4, episode 3.) Lane is in the doghouse with his wife so Don takes him out for a nice dinner, they all get very drunk, act rather Ho Yay-ish to each other..their behaviour is even lampshaded by a comedian who sees them in the crowd and makes jokes about how they are a cute couple.
      • Which makes "Commisions and Fees" (Season 5, episode 12), where Don demand's Lane's resignation for embezzling from the company, followed by Lane committing suicide, all the more depressing.
    • Joey receives some compliments from Harry Crane and immediately tells his buddies that he's being hit on by an old queen. This is more likely a manifestation of Joey's tremendous narcissism than a sign of any conscious attraction on Harry's part. (Subconscious could be another matter...)
  • Hollywood Homely: Peggy. She even gets the idea that she isn't attractive, not helping are Joan's insults on her looks and fashion sense or when the guys make jokes about her being a "Gertrude Stein" as opposed to a "Jackie or Marilyn". Yet given that she's played by Elisabeth Moss, it's been lampshaded on the show that the idea of her being unattractive is insane and can be attributed to the Men wrapping their heads around the idea that a woman can be beautiful and intellectual along with misogyny. Don ("You're an attractive girl Peggy" and once compared her to Irene Dunne), a suspicious Bobbie ("You're so young and beautiful"), even Joan (admits she has darling ankles and laments her "hiding a very attractive girl under a lot of lunch"), Stan ("You have a nice ass"), and Mathis ("You know you're a catch right?") have commented on how pretty she is.
    • Don's fling Diana in season 7B, she's less adorned in appearance than most of the women he's been with or the women on the show and is rather dour and isn't as beautifully lit yet his attraction was primarily based on the fact that her looks reminded him of Rachel Menken, who wasn't a slouch in the looks department.
  • HSQ: Nearly every episode of Season 7B is a Wham Episode.
  • It Was His Sled: Don Draper is really Dick Whitman.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Don. Both sides of the trope expand as the series goes on.
    • Pete, due to his collapsing marriage to Trudy, general unhappiness, and the death of his mother.
    • Peggy, as of the 7th season, due to her non-existent love life and facing disrespect from colleagues like Michael and dealing with Lou Avery.
    • Roger's 1st wife, Mona, has been trope for a long time. 1st, she's unhappily married to Roger, she's devastated by his two heart attacks, he leaves her for Jane (after cheating on her for so long), and it is implied she drank away some of her pain when she was raising Margaret.
    • Betty's brother William (who is a bit worse than Pete) can count as this: he grew up with the same parents as Betty and while it was awful how they raised her believe that she can only be some sort of Trophy Wife they were very tough on him, with his Mother punishing him for reading a porno mag by posting the thing on his door for all to see, he has no clue how to raise his children well and can be more abusive than his sister, and as of Season 7B despite not being seen on the show since his father's death his sister is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and end the show with no sibling or parents.
  • Les Yay: Joyce, the photo editor from LIFE magazine, seems to have a thing for Peggy and takes her to a beatnik party in the Village.
    • She also seems to have a thing for Megan.
  • Love to Hate: Pete Campbell.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Don Draper is the best of them. Duck and Pete both try and fail. Peggy is rapidly becoming one. Bert Cooper is one when the situation calls for it. Roger has his moments but his propensity for killer one-liners far outshines his actual cunning at least until the mid-season finale of season 7.
    • Duck finally pulls this off in the penultimate episode by leveraging Pete into the Learjet job he didn't know he wanted.
  • Mary Sue: There is some feeling among some of the fandom that there are a few too many "Peggy is awesome" moments without her having the counterbalancing failures and torments that afflict others, such as Joan, Don, and Sal. (Her pregnancy storyline being a notable exception.) This could partly be attributed to the fact that Peggy is simply not as morally corrupt as most of the cast, rather than being especially great on her own. It is really is that cynical of a show.
    • Just about every man on the show falls is enamored with Joan to a strange degree, though this is balanced by her obsolete office politics and marital turmoil.
    • Megan's initial entry in Season 4 and 5 had hints of this: She was perfect with Don's children, seemed to have 'cured' him of his serial adultery, comes up with the perfect idea for the difficult Heinz account, adeptly rescuing it at dinner when they are about to be fired. However, in "The Phantom", she is shown to be selfish and a tad naive, and later episodes show Don slowly slipping away as she gets more successful in her acting career.
  • Memetic Badass: What Would Don Draper Do?
  • Memetic Mutation: Don's content grin in series finale became a meme almost overnight.
  • Memetic Sex God: Don Draper. Seriously, the man's idea of solving problems with a client's wife is shagging her in a coat room. It works too! SNL even posted a guide to how you can be one too.
    • It's getting to the point where he can't shut it off.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Some viewers seem to genuinely view the show as a depiction of "the good old days". They also tend to hate Betty Draper the most for being the character that rains on their parade for showing how "the good old days" could really wreck a person.
  • Moe: Peggy. Pete even seems to pick women with more or less similar features to her.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Any chance that the majority of the audience might have had to sympathize with Duck Phillips disappeared along with his dog, Chauncey.
    • Also, Greg, Joan's fiance, crosses this line when he rapes her.
    • Pete finally crosses it late in Season 5 when he tries to convince Joan to prostitute herself as a pure business decision. Bert, Roger and Lane's tacit acceptance seem to make it a Moral Event Horizon for SCDP itself since the agency's big account has a shadow, one that is pointed out by a few characters.
    • Jim Hobart, after hearing about Joan's dissatisfaction about not being treated fairly, dismissively tells her that her partnership in SC&P doesn't matter, and that she will simply have to accept being harassed by her subordinates and co-workers, or she can take half of what she's entitled to. When she threatens a lawsuit, he pettily tells her "Good. I'd rather give [the money] to a lawyer."
  • One-Scene Wonder: Leonard, the group attendee with whom Don unexpectedly connects in the series finale.
  • Real Women Have Curves: Peggy is contrasted with more thinner and/or buxom women like Megan, Joan, and Betty. Yet Peggy is (as played by the petite and Botticelli-esque Elisabeth Moss) a woman with "Hellenic" features (despite being Norwegian and Irish Catholic) and is the representative for the ordinary women and their advances of the 1960s.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Stan Rizzo, at first. Though he replaced Sal Romano as the Art director, he was really the new Paul Kinsey. And he was even more of a douchebag. However, it eventually led to him getting Rescued from the Scrappy Heap.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Stan was pretty much just a sexist Jerk Ass foil to Peggy in season four, but in season five he turned into much-needed comic relief, and one of the firm's more honest and likable employees. He even sometimes acts as the Only Sane Man when Peggy's Married to the Job tendencies cause her to stress out too much and Ginsberg's... being Ginsberg.
    • Betty is a textbook abusive, narcissistic mother for most of the series until Season 7B, where she demonstrates more self-insight. She goes back to school to study psychology and is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Any fan of Community who watches this show tends to be very surprised by Alison Brie as Trudy Campbell.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • Gail Holloway, Joan's annoying mom has a twitter account that makes her seem rather malicious to her daughter, in contrast to her being interfering in her daughter's affairs with good intentions.
    • As of the 6th and 7th season, Ted's religious and conventional suburban wife, Nan, has a twitter that makes her out to be a narrow-minded and vacuous woman of the Fundamentalist variety who enjoys watching her soaps and dieting, cooking crappy casseroles, telling her sons that Sodomites wore bikinis, burning copies of the Beatles album Rubber Soul, behaving cattily towards Peggy, being bigoted towards ESL speakers and Catholics, and preventing her sons from watching Scooby Doo.
      • Considering Ted cheated on her with Peggy and broke Peggy's heart by refusing a chance to leave his wife and be with her, it also doubles as Die for Our Ship.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Pete-fucking-Campbell, initially. He undergoes major Character Development, develops a conscience, is unexpectedly the guy at SC/SCDP who is most aware of the social change on the horizon, and eventually swallows his own pride. By the end of Season 3, he actually knows the meaning of love and of remorse. However, all of that character development doesn't make the moment in Season 5 when Lane Pryce kicks Pete's ass any less satisfying.
      • Though being the main salesperson of pimping Joan to hook Jaguar certainly didn't help his development.
    • Greg Harris. He has yet to get out from under the shadow of his Establishing Character Moment, and likely never will.
    • As of season four (and to some as early as Season 3), Betty had become this for a lot of viewers due to her treatment of Sally, along with possible backlash from January Jones' acting in X-Men: First Class along with the show itself, along with a degree of Values Dissonance. It's not unusual to look at message boards and blogs and see comments like "I liked this episode a lot. Probably because Betty wasn't in it." The Huffington Post has even considered her one of the worst characters on TV(through the media itself is a bit more mixed). Changed in later seasons when Betty would be featured in less than half the season's episodes and Megan was getting the big sell.
    • Bob Benson. Too much screentime indicates he's a Mauve Shirt but he's received almost no characterization. He's an undeveloped character on a show that goes into nuanced and detailed examinations of its characters and the payoff is nowhere in sight. YMMV on whether said payoff worked.
      • Except the payoff did occur in the last three episodes of Season 6 where he was revealed to be gay, and that all of his references were made up. His background is basically that he's a younger (and gay) Don Draper
    • Harry Crane, after he Took a Level in Jerkass at some point in Season 5. Except for the episodes where he reunited with Paul Kinsey in Season 5 and warned Don his job was at stake in Season 7, most of his scenes in the latter few years have consisted of nothing but Kick the Dog moments (particularly when Joan is involved).
    • Lou Avery. Between his sexism, racism, narcissism and his love of mediocrity, what's not to hate? It doesn't help that, unlike the other Jerkasses in the series, Lou has very little characterization outside of being another incompetent rival to Don. Even his sendoff, when he brags to Don about selling his cartoon to a Japanese animation studio, has Don reacting in a way that shows he couldn't care less.
    • Diana The Waitress: A plain, dour waitress that Don becomes obsessed with. While they have parallel, self destructive lives and tragic backstories, a multi-episode arc for her never really went anywhere and just seemed to irritate viewers.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • Season 5 was the first season that really seemed to sharply divide the fandom, as some carped on the increasingly erratic pacing, uneven tone and focus on more melodramatic subplots, and some felt that Don and Joan were increasingly acting Out of Character, though some liked the darker, less predictable mood of the show all the same. Don's married life with Megan proved rather divisive as well, while some liked her contrast to Betty others thought a lot of their storylines were a redundant case of Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome and took away attention from the other character's stories.
    • Some fans have accused Season 6 of running into this, due to some strange episodes, and what felt like padding for the season's first few episodes. Additionally, focus on yet another of Don's affairs riled a few fans, particularly as it seemed to come at the expense of sizable plots for Joan or Roger.
  • Shadow Archetype: Been a few in the show.
    • Peggy and Roger's daughter Margaret. For one, they started off as young women with a rather childlike 50s state of dress with their brown hair in ponytails and with a relationship with a father/mentor figure, the name "Margaret", parents that want them married, having sacrificed motherhood for a more fulfilling adult life, and slightly Joan wanting them to pick up some style tips from her; the resemblance ends there with Peggy having a more direct approach (especially later on) towards things she's entitled to (the directness impressing Roger) and having been trying to make peace with having her baby taken away, Roger also shares his working life with Peggy and has a night of bonding before they move on to McCann Erickson, Peggy lacks the relationship Margaret has with her father because he died before her 13th birthday, she didn't go down the traditional path her family wanted for her, and she develops a medium between the counter culture and the more traditional adult life set by her era albeit one that doesn't place her in the home; Margaret was Daddy's Spoiled Brat who looked like a miniature of her Mother, got married after high school, has a strained relationship with her father, did the job her parents expected her to do (get married), yet later leaves her husband and young son for a hippie commune and becomes "Marigold".
    • Joan and Peggy: hard-working, they both lost their fathers and were raised by critical mothers in a lower-middle class environment, both worked their way out of the secretarial pool while dealing with the misogyny of their workplaces, both lied about their sexual history to their boyfriends, rarely seen with genuine female office friendships, were impregnated by one of the SC&P partners, both are smokers with a sharp wit and intellect to match, and both end the series with their careers on top and with their stars rising.
      • Peggy grew up in a devout Catholic environment in Brooklyn with her mother and sister, witnessed her father die, went to secretarial school after high school, experiments with the counter culture, she works in a more creative field (also one that is more open-minded about women in positions other than secretary), both have depended on the Men giving the thumbs up to advance, and tries not to play up her sensuality at work and dresses more simply. She also gets a guy (Stan) who loves her for who she is and isn't threatened by her strength and talents but appreciates them, was separated from her baby, and is on the fast track to become Creative Director (if Pete's predictions, good chance, are correct).
      • Joan was raised by a mother who raised her to be "admired" by men and likely saw her father leave the family, she had two failed marriages, went to college and moved to New York from Spokane, is more conventional in attitude than Peggy, works as a partner and under accounts, dresses sexily and uses her womanly wiles to get things done, takes great pride in being "the most gorgeous" woman in the office, raised her baby under the guise of being conceived by her and Greg, and breaks off with yet another man that wants to keep her as a woman of leisure and not work, and starts her own production agency.
    • Rachel Menken and Betty Draper in the 1st season: well-educated, both lost their mothers, came from very comfortable backgrounds, Daddy's little princesses, soon die from cancer, and involved with Don. But Rachel grew up motherless and quite lonely, is Jewish, urban, fights for her familys' business and what she's entitled to, is more open and kinder, relies on her intelligence rather than looks, and finally got the husband and children she's always wanted without sacrificing her career. Sharp contrast to the spoiled, passive, WASP-ish, suburban Betty who grew up with a mother that sent the message that womens' worth lie in their beauty and gave up a lively career of being a model and the humanities for marriage and motherhood, and was an unhappy homemaker.
  • Ship Tease: Veers right into One True Threesome with the shots of Joan holding both Don and Roger's hands before the announcement.
  • Squick:
    • The lawn mower scene, for those who don't find it Bloody Hilarious.
    • In "The Runaways", Michael Ginsberg cuts off his nipple and gives it to Peggy.
  • Stoic Woobie: Bobby Draper.
    • Don't forget Trudy Campbell, whether she knows it or not.
  • Strawman Has a Point: In Season 2, Don is visibly displeased when Duck tries to bring on American Airlines and forces Sterling Cooper to dump Mohawk Airlines. While Don attempts to argue against it using customer loyalty, it's fairly clear he's opposed because he's not the main attraction.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: The Hilton sub-plot of Season 3, Don's affair and his second trip to California in Season 6.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Don and Joan. For most of the show they more or less just coexisted, but seemed to bond at the end of Season 5. However, Joan's ambition and Don's self destructive tendencies caused a huge rift to where Joan wanted him thrown out of the agency. They seemed to make amends by Season 7B though.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: An article in the magazine Esquire posits that the shows opening is reflective of those who jumped off the World Trade Center.
  • The Woobie: It's a testimony to the writing of the show that basically anybody but the British overlords can be Woobies. Few of them are pure Woobies though; the vast majority of the characters have both Woobie and Jerk Ass moments.
    • Sally Draper, thanks to Character Development; Pointing out the various things the adult Sally will have to discuss with her therapist has become a running gag in the fandom.
    • Peggy Olson has been having her share of triumphs and tragedies even before she set foot in the elevators of Sterling Cooper: father died when she was young, she gets sexually harassed when she gets started in the agency, Pete behaves coldly towards her during her celebration, she starts gaining weight and censure from her colleagues, she goes into labor after being promoted and gets her baby taken away, her Mother guilt trips her over her choices and life, her sister spends a season trying to break her down, she has to fight to be just as respected as her male colleagues in the agency, she points out early that she tries hard for others but still gets squat, Don takes her for granted so many times, her relationships have ended when it was revealed her boyfriends didn't love her the way she did them, after a few episodes where she had Took a Level in Jerkass it was revealed she had a close friendship with a little boy and has to hold back her tears when he mourns about having to move to Newark away from her, she almost got assaulted by Ginsberg and was given his nipple.
    • Joan: The Queen Bee Head Secretary had to see that Roger only cared for her in the physical sense, witnessed his heart attacks, was humiliated at work for committing the sin of being over 30 and single in 1962, she gets raped by her a fiance, she puts up with being disrespected by her rapist husband, she deals with young men making things hard for her and one sexually harassing her, she gets pregnant by Roger after they were both mugged and turns down the chance for an abortion, she's miserable after splitting with her husband after he reveals (once again) that he's concerned about #1, she gets humiliated when she's served papers for divorce, she makes a deal where she has sex with an exec that demanded it just to land an account and as a shrewd move for her career, like Peggy she too learns that her male colleagues aren't ready to treat her as an equal, and she gets reminded so many times of how she's a single mother pushing 40 with an smothering Mom in her apartment.
    • Sal, especially in "Out of Town" and "Wee Small Hours," and his wife, Kitty.
    • Don's secretary Allison, after he pretends their sexual tryst at his apartment after the office Christmas party didn't happen and continues on for days like that. She finally has enough and throws a paperweight at his head and quits.
    • Anna Draper hits Woobie status in 4.03 when we find out she has terminal cancer.
    • Lane Pryce. His superiors at PPL frequently take advantage of his inability to stand up for himself, he has an unhappy marriage, his father is still abusive (physically and emotionally) toward him in his forties, he isn't respected by most of the other partners despite being one of two people holding SCDP together, he falls in love with Joan but she's not interested in him (his obnoxious means of hitting on her don't help), and after Don finds out about his embezzlement and forces him to resign, he commits suicide.
    • Betty has become kind of a Jerkass Woobie. Sometimes, when she's her most Catch-You-Next-Tuesday-ish, she looks like she's about to start bawling any second. She goes straight to plain old woobie status in Season 7B when she's diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
    • Michael Ginsberg, after we learn his backstory that he was born in a concentration camp and that the man viewers assumed was his father actually found him in a Swedish orphanage when he was five. It gets worse in Season 7 when he shows signs of mental illness.
    • Beth. It turns out that her husband has had her subjected to electroshock therapy on many occasions. In "The Phantom" he brings her in for another session because she is depressed about him cheating on her. Worst of all, she actually thinks that this is for the best.
    • Megan, as her marriage to Don becomes increasingly unhappy.
    • Kenneth Cosgrove had his foot broken and was shot in the eye before he left the Chevy account and was chewed out for it, while he was still wearing the eyepatch. In the opening of Season 7B, he's fired by the firm's overseers from McCann Erikson, who didn't like the way that Cosgrove acted towards them, and Roger puts up absolutely no fight to save him.
    • Dawn Chambers was the first black employee at SCDP, and even as late as season 7, she still exists at the mercy of her white co-workers. Nowhere was this more apparent than in "A Day's Work", where she was moved around the office twice in one day for petty reasons (Lou wanted her to lose her desk as punishment for something that was not her fault, while Bert thought that her new position near the front of the office would reflect poorly on the company), before finally getting promoted to office manager - which will force her to deal with even more of her co-workers' bullshit. She then seems to quit after the agency has been absorbed by McCann Erickson.
    • Stan: he dabbles in more drugs and meaningless sex after his cousin died in Vietnam, sees the Creative Department hacked apart in Season 7A and his friend/colleague Ginsberg fall apart, and onetime reveals to Peggy (before her own reveal) that he doesn't have the best memories and relationship with his mother.
    • Julio. He's the son of one of Peggy's tenants and after an argument they have together, they turn out to have a close friendship where he comes over and watches tv with her or while she works (she even has treats ready for him); he mournfully says goodbye to her when he learned his Mother (whom he thinks doesn't love him) is moving them to Newark to be with family and for a job.