YMMV / Married... with Children

  • Acceptable Targets:
    • Fat women, at least in Al's view. The fat women would snark back, at least; 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..." In addition, Al had to hang out with fat women/have his plans ruined by them more times than one can count.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Feminists are stereotyped as your typical Straw Feminist: as all being unattractive, butch, overpowered stick-in-the-muds who want to take away everything men like just because they can and who abuse the fact that they're women.
    • Garry Shandling is the butt of many jokes. As is Fox, the network on which MWC and Shandling's then-current show aired.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: For each and every single Bundy, especially Al; were their horrible lives brought upon themselves by that fact they're all some degree of lazy, obnoxious Jerkass,, or did they become that way because of how horrible their lives are, after years of bitterness and misery have sunken in? Which caused which here?
  • Author's Saving Throw: It's hard to overstate just how much the character of Seven was reviled by the fans, the cast, and (eventually) the writers. He was unceremoniously dumped and had his face slapped on the side of milk carton with not one single character caring enough to notice it.
  • Award Snub: The show ties with Baywatch for the longest running series never to win an Emmy, despite being nominated for one seven times.
  • 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.
  • Bizarro Episode: The episode "Married... with Aliens". Al's socks are needed by a race of tiny aliens so they can be used as a fuel source to power their ships and divert a comet.
  • 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.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Constantly. Particularly in the episode "I'm Going to Sweatland", when both Peg and Marcy think that a sweat stain of Al's looks like Elvis Presley, this is Al's response:
    "You wanna see Elvis? Well, here's Elvis: *pulls his collar up, sticks out his stomach and puffs out his cheeks pretending to be fat and then mimes falling backwards dead of a heart attack.* Now that we've all seen him and felt his presence, let's honor him by doing he really loved to do; eat dinner!"
    • Then later on after the Elvis fans are at the Bundy house:
    "Why is it that Elvis is dead and I'm the one in Hell?"
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Anytime "Bad To the Bone", "Tuff Enuff" or "She Works Hard for the Money" is played.
    • In "Guys and Dolls", while Steve and Al are looking for Marcy's lost Barbie doll, an instrumental version of Glenn Frey's "You Belong to the City" is heard.
    • Kelly's very fanservicey dance to "Fever" in "Can't Dance, Don't Ask Me" also counts in addition to the scene being a Crowning Moment of Awesome. It certainly helps that Christina Applegate and her partner in the episode, Jesse Borrego (from Fame and who played a janitor, Bruno) have backgrounds in dance.
  • 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), 1995 (during the Oklahoma City bombing) and 2001 (during the second one on September 11th), but is now reinstated.
    • The "It's A Bundyful 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!" Kinison died in an automobile accident just two years later.
    • 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.
    • At least one episode had a joke about Kelly stuffing her bra, which is no longer funny after Christina Applegate's battle with breast cancer and double mastectomy.
    • In the "Hi, I.Q." episode, at one point, when trying to console Kelly, Al mentions that Buck used to run around all happy and with a lot of energy, but stopped because "obviously, he didn't like [doing] that." This statement becomes pretty sad in the later seasons when you realize that the reason Buck didn't run around as much as he used to is because the Briard who played Buck, Michael, was stricken with arthritis and was physically unable to run around and climb the stairs anymore to the point being relegated to just sitting on the stairs and eventually had to retire.
    • Being considered either this or Hilarious in Hindsight (depending on your sense of humor), the "I Want My Psycho Dad" episode had Bud mentioning a fictional show called Saved by the Bell: The Prison Years. About a decade later, Screech's actor, Dustin Diamond, was sent to jail for a few months for stabbing a man.
    • In their Halloween Episode, "Take My Wife, Please", when Death comes to take him, Al wishes for Death to take either Michael Bolton or whoever wrote that ''The Facts of Life'" theme song instead. One of the writers of said theme was Alan Thicke. Come 2016, the joke is no longer funnier due to Thicke dying of a heart attack.
    • This article in Newsweek analyzes the fallout of the Al Bundys of the world electing their President, 25 years after the "beer tax" episode.
    • A ninth-season episode has the NEA being dismantled after the work of an idiot (Al's shoe films). Fast-forward to 2017...
  • 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 Terry 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.
    • Buck the dog dying is this after the deaths of his two main voice actors (and writers/producers on the show), Kim Weiskopf in 2009 and Kevin Curran in 2016.
    • One early episode had Peg insist that Al give an equal amount of money to Bud and Kelly, saying that they can't show favoritism. Later episodes had them both showing obvious preference to Kelly (this is namely because she's more successful than Bud and her jobs/significant others offer more money for the family than his do, but still.)
  • 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).
    • All Les Yay jokes about Marcie, once Amanda Bearse being a lesbian was common knowledge.
    • 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. In fact, the penny was taken out of circulation in Canada in early 2013.
    • Real life example but S6E8'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.
    • The season 8 episode, "No Pot to Pease In", features a TV show that has exaggerated versions of the Bundys/D'Arcys. Guess what show would premiere the following year?
    • As seen on the main page, Marcy was sometimes mistaken for Bruce Jenner because of her boyish looks. Well, now Bruce is Caitlyn...
    • One two part episode had Peggy feuding with a woman who had the last name Bender. Peggy's actress would later have lots of fights with an entirely different Bender.
    • One episode had a TV program announce that today's discussion would be Transgender women and which bathroom they should use. This is still a political controversy in the Untied States over twenty years later, with so-called "bathroom bills" being debated throughout the country.
    • Season 1's 11th episode "Nightmare on Al's Street" has Peg mention that Al can't attend Chicago Cubs games at Wrigley Field anymore because he once interfered with a ball that ultimately kept the Cubs out of the Worlds Series. This is pretty much the description of the real life Steve Bartman incident in the 2003 National League Championship Series, the round right before the World Series (with the only major exception being that Bartman isn't banned from Wrigley - rather, he just really wants to avoid the spotlight).
    • The episode "Rain Girl" had Kelly working at a news station (as a meteorologist, only for her to screw it up with her inability to read.) Years later, Christina Applegate would be in a role where she would actually achieve success working at a different news station, only this time as a lead anchorwoman.
    • One episode had Al try to invent shoes with lights that would allow you to see in the dark. Apparently someone saw this when they came up with Brightfeet slippers. (Only with LED lights rather than industrial lights connected to a car battery with cable jumpers.)
    • Any time Al comes out on top in a physical altercation might qualify as this knowing that Ed O'Neill has been studying Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for over 20 years.
    • Al's favorite TV show is Psycho Dad.
    • In their first Christmas Episode, a news report on a rival mall to Al's mentions that the ill-fated Santa parachuting into the mall's parking lot is wearing sneakers from a store called Weejee's.
    • In "Kelly Does Hollywood: Part 2", one of the posters hanging on the wall at the TV studio is for a show called "Amos and Andrew", starring a black man and white man. Over a year later, a film called "Amos & Andrew", starring Nicolas Cage and Samuel L. Jackson, was released.
    • In the early episode, "Born to Walk", Al gripes about having to go to the DMV over an expired license and describing what a horrible experience it is. A later episode, "Driving Mr. Boondy", we actually see why it's so bad (even with the wild exaggerations aside.)
    • The season 3 episode "The Computer Show" depicts computers as a useless fad. By the last few seasons of the show, MWC would advertise its own website during the credits.
  • 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.)
      • With Bud, Marcy, and Peggy, it seems that the problem is really their personalities rather than their looks: Bud is an obnoxious pervert, Peggy is lazy and clingy, and Marcy is histrionic and stuck up.
    • The three fat women, Alexis, Pauline and Monique 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 seems to catch a lot of this:
    • In "Dance Show", Al 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 "Heels on Wheels", Al 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!
    • In "Her Cups Runneth Over", his only objection when he and Steve are mistaken for a gay couple is that he feels he could do better than Steve.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Kelly finding Yvette a formidable rival in "Fair Exchange" - yes, Yvette is Milla Jovovich, but Christina Applegate is no one's idea of chopped liver.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The show's obviously canned studio audience. It's so infamous that, to this day, that even in shows (i.e. talk shows) that have a studio audience that's shown on screen, someone will complain how the studio audience in that show sounds fake.
  • Misaimed Fandom: The show tends to attract fans from the right wing, particularly men's rights activists, who see Al Bundy as a hero standing up for traditional values and masculinity fighting against "social justice warriors", not realizing that the show is parodying such notions by showing Al as loser whose situation is as much a result of his willful ignorance as it is the result of women, fat people, the government, etc. The showrunners were well aware of this fandom and mocked it by making Al a fan of Psycho Dad, a show that is about an ultraviolent lunatic who's also a "durn good pa", that eventually goes off the air because the star becomes disturbed by the kinds of people who like his work. It's also quite surprising given the number of jokes aimed at the expense of Republicans, considering that the GOP-leaning National Review praised it for its alleged conservative values.
  • 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, and Peg's nagging cry.
    • For more than a few fans, the studio audience also counts. Is there anything they won't burst into uncontrollable laughter, "aww", or hoot like like wild animals for? This is especially egregious in the later seasons.
  • Nausea Fuel: Many things about Al and the Bundy home itself. His notorious foot odor is enough to not kill a plant but to make humans sick, including an assassin sent to kill him.
    • The house, aside from occasionally crawling with cockroaches and mice, but the cabinets in the kitchen is used so infrequently, given Peg's lackluster housekeeping, that there's a bat living inside of them.
    • Another episode had Peg grooming Al to go to a family wedding. After brushing his teeth, she then uses the toothbrush on his underarms, only to bemoan about her not doing a good job and then using the same brush on his teeth again!
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: A woman's attempts to boycott the show succeeded only in making it more well-known.
  • 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, Stephen Dorff (both of whom were in the same episode playing Bud's friends), 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, Michael Clarke Duncan (as a security guard), Julie Benz, David Boreanaz (as one of Kelly's many boyfriends, you might remember him as the one who got beat up by Al in a movie theater), Jane Lynch... all before the roles that made them famous.
    • 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.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Al is a classic example of an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist but his life is just so horrible that after a while you can't help feeling sorry for him, more so than the series writers probably intended.
  • 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.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Even with the controversy of the show (or just plain Black Comedy of its nature), some elements of the show, given its genre and prime-time hours (and the basic cable channel it was on), wouldn't fly nowadays. Case in point, in the first couple of seasons, Peg smoked like a chimney. Also, even if it were for only a few episodes and with that blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments, Kelly wore a bomber jacket with a Confederate flag patch on it.
    • An especially bad one involving Bud when he decides to get revenge on a girl who's been stringing him along in the hopes of making another guy jealous. He convinces the guy—who couldn't care less about the girl—to entice her into meeting him under the bleachers for sex. Later, we see the girl emerging from the bleachers, adjusting her clothes, completely unaware that she just had sex with Bud, as we see him coming out a few seconds later. As a YouTube commentator put it: "Why is the audience cheering the fact that Bud just RAPED that girl?"
    • Along the same lines, anytime Al had sex with Peg against his will (or vice versa), or Bud was grabbed by a fat woman and forced to have sex with her. Played for laughs, but would be viewed as spousal rape and female-on-male rape, respectively, today.
    • Also, in the episode "Her Cups Runneth Over"note  has Steve ogling a mannequin dressed in a leather mini-skirt and match pasties, which he then begins to poke at. Al wanders over, comments to him "Steve, aren't you ashamed of yourself?" for doing it, which makes him reply back, "Oh, come on, Al; she was asking for it! You can see the way she's dressed!"
    • Both of the episodes "Requiem for a Dead Barber" and "Calendar Girl" would cause a lot of controversy and backlash if aired today. The former can come off as homophobic (particularly the part where Al complaining to his friends about their ridiculous hairstyles and saying how they need to put their heads under a hose and "wash the gay away") and the latter's ending can be seen as extremely transphobic.
  • The Woobie: Bud is this more often than not, as is Buck as he got older. Al is also occasionally this in addition to being a Jerkass Woobie.