YMMV: Married... with Children

  • Acceptable Targets:
    • Fat women, at least in Al's view. The fat women would snark back, at least.
    • The French. No one ever had anything nice to say about them.
    • Oprah and other talk shows. They also seem to have some severe hatred for Phil Donahue; Al sees him almost like a traitor in the shows Battle of the Sexes.
    • Al had a constant hatred of Michael Bolton and Joe Piscopo for the entire run of the show.
    • They hated Al right back. "Hundreds of organizations are claiming credit for the bombing of the Al Bundy Scoreboard including; The National Organization of Women, The National Organization of Fat Women, and the government of France." In addition, Al had to hang out with fat women/have his plans ruined by them more times than one can count.
    • Additionally, most of the depictions of the Deep South were straight out of Deliverance. Especially funny since the Bundys were pretty white trash themselves (and Peg's side of the family were a bunch of inbred hillbillies from Wisconsin).
    • Of course, there's also the obvious fact that shoe salesmen were considered the absolute lowest of the low. Of course, most of the shoe salesmen in question wouldn't disagree with this.
    • Dodge (or at least Al's Dodge)/American cars in general also counted.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Jefferson's hallucination after he gets clobbered by Marcy
    Fantasy Girl: What a crummy fantasy.
    Jefferson: I know... my wife's mad at me. It's hard to concentrate.
  • Broken Base: To date, fans still debate over either Steve Rhodes or Jefferson D'Arcy was the superior husband of Marcy and the funnier source of comedy.
  • Creator's Pet: Peg, mainly due to her awful treatment of her family yet being a constant Karma Houdini.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Local reporter Miranda Veracruz de la Hoya Cardinal. Just saying her name got a huge reaction.
  • Foe Yay: Al and Marcy.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • One episode had Al trying to sell his car, and one of the interested buyers are two stereotypical Middle Eastern terrorists with a clock bomb, asking Al to give them the car and directions to the Sears Tower. This was cut in reruns in 1993 (during the first World Trade Center bombing) and 2001 (during the second one on September 11th), but is now reinstated.
    • The "It's A Wonderful Life" Christmas episode where Al's guardian angel is Sam Kinison, especially the part where Kinison is yelling to the heavens, "I'm coming home!" Who would've thought that would be a harsh reality?
    • The "Peg is pregnant" story arc after Katey Sagal lost her baby. To retcon this, the writers had to make the whole thing Al's dream... which was, itself, Al's initial reaction upon hearing that Peg was pregnant.
  • Growing the Beard: The show became much, much funnier when Flanderization kicked in and the show turned into a live-action cartoon, while still keeping the main themes and jokes, though some have stated that the show grew the beard when Terri Rakolta complained about the show's crude humor and more people started to tune in to see what she was talking about.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The season six Aborted Arc (pardon the pun) of Peggy being pregnant, followed by Katey Sagal losing her child to a miscarriage, and the entire storyline being made into an elaborate dream sequence.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: On the season six episode, "The Egg and I," Al screams, "I don't wanna be on ABC!" when he rants about his taxes and the possibility of cameoing on a TV show to pay it off. Years later, Al Bundy (or rather, his actor, Ed O'Neill) is now on the ABC sitcom, Modern Family (the actress who plays O'Neill's wife on Modern Family — Sofia Vergara, even mentioned on SNL that it's every Colombian immigrant girl's dream to move to America and marry Al Bundy).
    • See the Les Yay entry below, keeping in mind that Amanda Bearse in Real Life is an out-and-proud lesbian.
    • In "Sleepless in Chicago," Jefferson invites Al to a memorabilia auction. Al says he prefers to live in the present, only to then excitedly say, "Ooh, Dragnet's on!" O'Neil would be cast as Joe Friday on the short-lived 2003 remake, which also aired on ABC.
    • In the episode when Peg reveals she's pregnant, Peg says "Oh Al, isn't this a dream?" Al's response? "It better be!" Ten episodes later...
    • One early episode has Steve going to a banker's meeting where they were trying to find out a way to get rid of the penny. Nowadays, there is a stronger ongoing argument in favor of eliminating the penny in the United States and many other countries.
      • The penny was taken out of circulation in Canada in early 2013.
    • Real life example but S 6 E 8's episode "God's Shoes", has Al try to market "toe-shoes." This gets shot down as a stupid idea. Five years later the Vibram FiveFingers gets released to the market.
  • Hollywood Homely
    • Bud is depicted as very unattractive and someone that only a woman with no standards would date or have sex with despite being played by the not remotely ugly David Faustino.
    • Marcy counts as the female equivalent, as the actress playing her, Amanda Bearse, was far from unattractive. For example, in the episode "The Egg and I", she shows off her body in lingerie; Al screams "I'm blind! My eyes, my eyes!" (and later, "Peg, I'm blind! I saw it again and saw darkness!") but the studio audience does Wolf Whistles.
    • Peggy wasn't considered attractive by her husband. Many fans though found Peggy Bundy incredibly hot. Of course, in this case, there's plenty of people in-universe who found Peg plenty hot. It was simply Al feeling like sex with his wife was little more than another chore at this point combined with finding her utter uselessness a major turn off (on the odd occasional she actually does something, like preparing the backyard for their Fourth of July barbecue, Al can't keep his hands off her.)
    • The three fat women, Alexis, Pauline and Monique note  from "Ride Scare". While depicted as unattractive due to their size and diet, the three of them are Big Beautiful Women (particularly Monique, the blonde) as well as being models (for Victoria's Big Secret) and not at all unpleasant in personality like the other fat women Al encounters. More than one upload of "Ride Scare" on YouTube has drawn comments from viewers who find Alexis, Monique and Pauline hot.
  • Ho Yay: Al in "Dance Show" and "Heels On Wheels". In the former episode, he meets the husband of a man that Peg would go out dancing with (played by Dan Castellaneta). Upon learning that he cooks, cleans, has a job and loves sports, he tells him he loves him and even flirts with him after he makes him dinner. In the latter episode, he tells Peg and Kelly that he was flirting with this "tall, willowly brunette" who came into the shoe store, who turned out to be a transvestite. To make matters even worse, not only do the women proceed to make fun of him, but it was Kelly who sent him to the store in the first place.
    • An excerpt from "So This Is How Sinatra Felt":
    Peggy: You wouldn't leave me for another woman?
    Al: Of course I wouldn't leave you for another woman! I don't want a woman!
  • Jerkass Woobie: As much as Al can be an utter jackass, you can't help but feel sorry for having a crap job, a sarcastic, manipulative wife, two kids who don't respect him, and an entire neighborhood (and possibly universe) who curses the day he was born.
  • Jumped the Shark: Surprisingly, Ted McGinley didn't ruin the show when he appeared on it as Marcy's second husband. However, the show did hit a wall when Seven (Peg's nephew) came over to stay with the Bundys. No one — not even the cast — liked the change, so they wrote Seven off as going missing after he walked upstairs. Later episodes would have his face on a milk carton, with no one around noticing or caring that the kid had gone missing.
  • Les Yay: Played for laughs between Marcy and Peggy in the episode "Live Nude Peg", when Peggy complains that she's lonely:
    Peggy: It's been so long since someone touched me.
    Marcy: (puts her arm around Peggy) Poor Peggy. I'm so sorry.
    Peggy: You know, Marcy, that boyish cut really becomes you.
    Marcy: (takes her arm away) Well, Peggy, there must be something you can do. With Al.
    • And then there were the moments involving Kelly. One episode involved Marcy and Peg getting tickets to a stage performance of The Jeffersons and dragging their husbands along with them. Al and Jefferson forced Bud and Kelly to go in their place, disguised as them. At one point during the performance, Marcy starts talking dirty to Kelly, who she thinks is Jefferson, and mentions what they could do while the lights are out. The play ends with this exchange.
    Bud: I can't believe this actually worked. Mom was so convinced I was Dad, she actually picked my pocket during the show.
    Kelly: What are you complaining about? At least you didn't get a hickie.
    • When Al joined a softball league and went on a road trip, he forced Bud and Kelly to fill in for him at the shoe store. They discuss the effects the job had on them:
    Bud: I don't know what it is, but something about this job makes me want to start telling old high school football stories.
    Kelly: Yeah? Well, something about this job makes me want to start reading Big 'Uns.
  • Memetic Mutation: Just try to convince ANY male on the Internet that Al Bundy is not a God among men.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Happened plenty of times throughout the series, but when Peg and Al stole Bud's scholarship money, you can say it was low even for them. To be fair, they thought they were simply ripping off the bank, and were genuinely remorseful when they learned that the money belonged to Bud.
    • Another such time, albeit that (as well as other times) are Played for Laughs is when Al bragged about stealing a balloon from a baby:
    Al: It's a good thing he can't talk. Yeah, he can cry and point all he wants, but let's see that hold up in court!
    • Anytime Marcy went full on Straw Feminist. She would go completely out of her way to screw over Al (even when he didn't deserve it) and justify it simply because of her gender.
  • Most Annoying Sound: Marcy D'Arcy's Evil Laugh.
    • Peg's nagging cry.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: A woman's attempts to boycott the show succeeded only in making it more well-known.
  • Recycled Script: Season 5 episode "Weenie Tots & Other Lovers" is the exact same plot as the episode "The Godfather", which aired less than two months prior in the same season. Kelly and Bud both experience a good opportunity/good fortune (Kelly is a spokesmodel for a nationwide product and begins dating an alderman and Bud has an opportunity to go into space and meet the president, respectively). The Bundys decide Kelly's good luck is more interesting/profitable than Bud's and in essence, they screw him out of both chances. Everything is going their way until Kelly's own stupidity as well as Bud's sweeter-than-sweet and well-timed revenge ruins everything for her and Al and Peg.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Pamela Anderson (often appearing in Al's dreams as a nameless bimbo, as seen in "Al With Kelly and part two of the episode "Route 666"note , Debbe Dunning, Milla Jovovich, Chip Esten, Giovanni Ribisi, Matt LeBlanc, Joey Lauren Adams, Kari Wuhrer, Eric Dane, Bill Maher (as the host of a game show called You Can't Miss), Keri Russell, Dean Norris, Dot Jones... all before the roles that made them famous.
    • Throw in Michael Clarke Duncan as a security guard.
    • A very early role for Julie Benz, as well.
    • And Katey Sagal for those who didn't catch Married... With Children during its first run, and only found out recently that the voice of Leela on Futurama is the same actress who played Peg Bundy.
  • Rewatch Bonus: In the episode "The Egg and I", note  Steve casually insults Jefferson by calling him "little nose" to which Jefferson then covers his nose with his hand and bows his head in embarrassment. This may even suggest as to why Marcy still refers to her first husband as the best she ever had and wants to be buried next to him instead of her current husband when she dies.note 
  • The Scrappy: Seven, who was intended to become a permanent addition to the cast. However, the fans (and writers) didn't like him at all, and, before season seven closed out, he went the way of Chuck Cunningham on Happy Days (climbed up the stairs and never came down again). Later episodes have Seven's face on a milk carton (even though it was implied that his parents didn't want him back, which is why they left him with the Bundys) and no one noticing or caring that he's gone.
  • Seasonal Rot: Season seven when Seven was brought in to the Bundy house after being left by his parents was not liked by fans or even the cast. The show did return to its former glory in season eight, but, ratings-wise, the show took a nosedive (and things got worse when FOX changed its timeslot and other sitcoms like The Simpsons, Martin, and Living Single were becoming popular).
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: In a world with crude shows that live to make censors and Moral Guardians cry like Family Guy, South Park, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it's hard to believe that this show and the early Simpsons pretty much started the trend of censor-pushing sitcoms.
  • Special Effects Failure: Whenever Al or anyone else is thrown about/punched across the room or otherwise involved in physical comedy/pain, it is obvious that it is a not-too-lifelike dummy in its place. Among the most telling ones were with Al in the "Business Still Sucks" episode where "he" is thrown across the room for mistaking Marcy's female muscle, Dot for being a man and even more telling is in the "Just Married...With Children" episode where he and Peg are on a game show and "she" is being swirled around on one of the games, a giant spinning wheel, viewers can easily see it is just a bundle of clothing and a red wig. In fact, sometimes the effects were so laughably bad, it would appear they were aiming for Stylistic Suck (they did eventually Flanderize themselves into a farce.)
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
    • In syndication, later episodes, and on DVD, Queen's "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions" were replaced with generic soundalikes due to music licensing issues.
    • The theme song (which is a real song. It's called "Love and Marriage" and it was sung by Ol' Blue-Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra) is replaced with a cheery, instrumental soundalike song in the Hulu broadcasts and on the DVD release.
  • Tear Jerker: For a really hilarious sitcom, only one episode was awfully sad, and that episode was "Requiem For A Dead Briard", where Buck dies, but comes back as Lucky. Despite this, the episode did have a few funny moments, like Ben Stein in a chicken suit (and how he died after a bald man shot him), Peg's mom eating Kelly's new pet bird, Don Novello's appearance as his Saturday Night Live character Father Guido Sarducci, and Buck being reincarnated as the new dog, Lucky.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Al is probably the biggest loser ever in-universe, but try telling that to the studio audience. Each of the main characters were typically greeted with applause upon entering as the seasons wore on, but Al was first.