YMMV: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air


  • Acceptable Targets: Superstitious people, who the characters openly call insane in an early episode.
  • Awesome Music: The main theme still is gold.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • Hilary's long-time boyfriend Trevor dying unexpectedly? Tragic and unsettling. Hilary's long-time boyfriend Trevor dying by hitting the ground while bungee jumping as he was proposing to Hilary live on the news channel he worked for with her entire family and presumably hundreds of others watching? One of the most hilarious moments in the show's tenure.
    Will: I ain't no bungee expert or nothin', but I don't think he's suppose to be slammin' into the ground like that.
    • It's even funnier and possibly crosses the line four or five times, considering she didn't even realize that something had gone wrong when he died, and to quote The Other Wiki:
      He eventually proposes to Hilary, but she insists that he officially proposes on live television later that day. Trevor then proposes to her on television while bungee jumping, and dies during the stunt when something goes wrong with the jump and he hits the ground. Hilary mourns his death by bringing back what she presumes to be Trevor's ashes in an urn, but later learns that Trevor was not cremated, and that she grabbed a stranger's urn.
      Hillary: "EEW! Then who is this!?"
      Geoffery: *grabs the urn* "I'll show him to the door, sir."
    • The time Phil killed Nicky's bunny rabbit by sitting on it. Even funnier is that when Phil tries to explain death to Nicky by talking about The Lion King, Nicky just looks at his dad ans asks if he sat on the rabbit.
    • "Asses to Ashes", in which at Judge Robertson's funeral not a single person has anything nice to say about him. One guy even says "The only reason I'm here is to make sure he's really dead!" Then, when Will, who felt responsible for his death, as he had been yelling at Robertson for playing dirty in the Superior Court election seconds before he died, said to the people in attendance "I'm the one who killed him," everyone applauds him.
      Will: Tough crowd.
  • Dude, Not Funny!:
    • A lot of Will's insults towards Carlton, particularly those about his height, can come off as incredibly mean-spirited. This is also case concerning his snide comments about Carlton not being black enough, if at all, something that has been, and will probably always be a major bone of contention among the African American community. He grew out of it eventually, but the even ruder attitude of their fraternity leader shows how prevalent it is.
  • Ear Worm:
    • Iiiiin West Philadelphia, born and raised...
    • "It's not unusual to be loved by anyone..."
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Carlton, Geoffrey, and Jazz.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • In a Season 2 episode, Jazz shows up with a life size cardboard cutout of Bill Cosby, prompting Will to ask what happened to his Whitney Houston cutout. Jazz's response is that she fell apart in the shower. Twenty years later...
    • Jazz viewing Cosby as a role model also falls into this with the rape allegations that came out against him in 2014.
    • In the episode where Philip and Vivian renew their wedding vows, Philip loses his ring. When it's time for the ceremony, and the ring still has yet to show up, Philip says if worse comes to worse he'll fake a heart attack. Not only does he have a real one in Season 4, but James Avery would die from complications of open heart surgery on December 31, 2013.
  • Genius Bonus: From "The Aunt Who Came to Dinner" (Season 2, Episode 22): Carlton describes a woman as "Beautiful, sexy, and she measures everything in centimeters."note 
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • The series is very popular in Brazil and it still gets reruns in public television in the 2010s.
    • The series was huge also in Spain, where it gets reruns even today as well. It was pretty popular too for the spectacular amounts of Woolseyism in the dub script (although some argue it went too far in later seasons) and the uncanny symbiosis between Will Smith's appearance and his voice actor, Iván Muelas. Even if his voice was higher pitched than Smith's. Thanks to that, Muelas has been Will Smith's most recurrent voice actor in Spain ever since. Bonus points for the opening theme, which was also translated and dubbed by Muelas himself. And it worked surprisingly well! It became such a big hit among kids and teenagers of the early-to-mid '90s that many of them could sing it by heart.
    • It also has a strong following in England.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • It can be a bit difficult to watch scenes with Aunt Vivian and Will, especially heartwarming moments, due to the Real Life animosity Janet Hubert has towards Will Smith.
    • In the early seasons, several jokes were made at the expense of Penn State. They can be hard to listen to in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
    • In the episode where Jazz gets married, his wife, Jewel, expresses fear that their marriage will not work out and tries to flee the proceedings. After being assured by Will things will work out, she and Jazz carry out the ceremony and are wed. And, a season or two later, they're divorced and on bad terms.
    • The episode "Home Is Where the Heart Attack Is", in which Uncle Phil ends up in the hospital with a heart attack brought on by his overeating, can be quite painful to watch after James Avery's death, due to complications from open heart surgery.
    • "Here Comes the Judge" has Jazz being upset because Will is going to leave for college and he feels that Will is to forget all about him. Will tells him they'll always be friends. While they still remain friends through the end of the series, Jazz started to appear less and less starting in Season 4, the same season Will goes off to college.
  • He Really Can Act:
    • Will Smith in several episodes, most notably "Papa's Got a Brand New Excuse".
    • Same with Alfonso Ribeiro. It's rather telling that the Tear Jerker page is almost entirely filled with examples provided by either Smith or Ribeiro.
  • Heartwarming In Hindsight: In a first season episode, Geoffrey says one regret he has is that he never fathered a son. In the last season, it turns out he does have a long lost son in England, and he moves back home to be with him in the series finale.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Jada Pinkett was once turned down for a part as one of Will's girlfriends. These days she goes by the name Jada Pinkett Smith, cause she, y'know, married Will.
    • In another episode, Will kept accusing Hilary of "going Hollywood" for being Marissa Redman's assisstant. Let's repeat that; Will Smith accused someone of going Hollywood.
      • Relatedly, in the graduation episode, Will is in danger of failing music class. He makes the remark to Geoffrey, "It ain't like I got a career in music!" Over a decade later, Will left the music industry to work full-time in the film industry.
    • Another episode had Queen Latifah (again) as a Girl of the Week who pretended to be a Wooly Mammoth. Enter Ice Age.
    • A character played by Will Smith impresses an important person by solving a Rubik's Cube really fast.
    • In one episode, Will does a very good impression of Muhammad Ali ("I'm the greatest! I'm a baaaaad man!"). That skill would eventually lead to an Oscar-nominated portrayal of Ali.
    • In one episode, Will claims that he didn't find Kool Moe Dee convincing as a cowboy in the song "Wild Wild West". Six years later, Will Smith has his own version of that song, for the movie Wild Wild West, featuring Kool Moe Dee. As an added bonus, Carlton attempts to join in with an enthusiastic "I used to live downtown...!" Alfonso Ribeiro went on to make an appearance in Will Smith's "Wild Wild West" music video.
    • In an early episode, one-shot character "Dr. No" was played by Richard Roundtree. You know, the lead actor in Shaft. The character who Will later idolizes.
    • In an early Very Special Episode, Will & Carlton are pulled over & arrested by some racist cops because they're two young black men who happen to driving a Mercedes, which therefore must be stolen. Fast forward to 2012, and Men In Black 3 features Agent J (Also played by Will Smith) travelling back to 1969 & being pulled over because he's a black man driving a car, only he calls the cops out on pulling him over for assuming he stole the car because he's black, before admitting that he did in fact steal the car.
    • Will learns self-defense from Pat Morita (as himself). Later he remade one of his most famous films.
    • Will has his style of beatboxing used throughout the series, which he reused for Men In Black II. One instance where he did it was in front of a hitman played by Brad Garrett, who's dressed as an Man In Black!
    • In "The Butler's Son Did It", two Beast Wars Transformers toys are featured - one of which is identified as Razorbeast, a character didn't appear in the show and had no real prominence in the franchise other than having an action figure. Then the IDW comics came along and he's the main protagonist.
    • In "The Baby Comes Out", Hilary is angry with her Aunt Vy, Will's mom, for forcing her to leave in the middle of a session at the beauty salon and quips to her, "I'm young; I can still get a husband!" Come the fifth season finale, Aunt Vy and Will's then-fiancee's father end up marrying at the end of the episode.
  • Hollywood Pudgy : One episode where Will has a friendship/almost romance with Queen Latifah. But she's too big for him to ask to the dance.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Carlton is the stereotypical annoying, arrogant, spoiled rich kid. However, he's constantly upstaged by Will, his cooler cousin who always gets everything he wants, often without even trying, and who spends pretty much all his time insulting him or making fun of his height. Also, in later seasons, he becomes a nerdy Butt Monkey being also the Straw Loser to Will and it seems that everyone, even his own family, except Uncle Phil, likes Will more than him.
    • Hilary was shallow and self centered, but felt her entire self-identity revolved around being liked by others. It got to the point where to her being in a job where she was treated like crap seemed favorable to her as she was the envy of her friends.
  • Jerk Sue: Lisa, Will's girlfriend in season 5. Of course, Will, being Will, did bring a lot of those moments on himself.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • It is now popular on the Internet to randomly mention how my life got flipped, turned upside down...
    • Or frequently, telling an unrelated story and suddenly end it with "and then my mom got scared and said..."
    • The Fresh Prince of X.
    • A couple of dances including the "Carlton Dance" to Tom Jones and the dance Carlton and Will perform together to win a contest.
    • And Phil's love for "turkey, with pillowy mounds of mashed potatoes."
    • MOMMA NO!!!!!!!!
    • And if a video game company doesn't have a lot of games out, somebody's gotta ask themselves, "Where the video games?"
    • It's very popular to make remixes of the theme tune and a video game OST, accompanied with a video game picture with Will Smith's face pasted on the character.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • In one episode, Uncle Phil accidentally sits on top of a shoe box containing an adorable white pet bunny. Him killing it, looking inside the box and reacting in horror, and then telling the little boy who owned the bunny is all played for laughs. It really shouldn't be though.
    • Also the bit later where Nicky finds out is meant to be charming, but seeing how disturbingly nonchalant he is about his pet dying and even saying "Death is just a natural part of life" is definitely jarring coming from a 6 year old.
  • One-Scene Wonder: "Bob" from "Mistaken Identity" is one. At one point, Will and Carlton are arrested and accused of stealing cars. They then up in jail with a white dude with a do-rag and a sleeveless denim jacket. Will, trying to cheer Carlton up, gets him to sing "Let My People Go" at which point Bob starts singing it in a dignified bass voice that would make Paul Robeson proud, then proceeds to sing show tunes. He does it in such an intimidating manner that it just freaks Will and Carlton out even more. He was portrayed by Raymond McLeod.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: Will and Lisa. Almost the entire fifth season revolves around their relationship. Even episodes in which she doesn't appear, when Will trying to get ready for married life drives the episodes' plots.
  • The Scrappy: Nicky can count as this, due to his random insertion into the plot and lack of character development.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: This show had several aesops you may not hear anywhere else. For example:
    • Even though racism is very wrong, many people will still experience it in their life no matter their social status, grades, wealth, or who their relatives are.
    • Every person will have a point in their life where their father will have nothing but tubes coming out of their nose, unless say your father left you.
    • If you have help readily available to you and they're willing to help, there's nothing wrong with seeking it.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • In the pilot episode, when Will is in his room and stapling his Malcolm X poster on the wall, the wall itself shakes.
    • In the season three episode, "That's No Lady, That's My Cousin", after Carlton is turned on by the new student all the other boys are clamoring over and Will informs him that it's Ashley, he delivers a none-too-convincing echoing stock scream over his actual scream.
    • In season four episode "Fresh Prince After Dark", once Will, Carlton and Hillary arrive at the Playboy Mansion, the microphone pack is visible on her back for a few seconds.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Carlton meets a mail carrier girl one episode, after striking out with a video dating service, and they (apparently) start dating. The next episode, though, she's turned down by him, and she walks out, never to be seen again...
  • Unfortunate Implications: As mentioned above since the very first episode, Will has made snide comments about Carlton, and the Banks as a whole, not being black enough because they are successful. It reached its head in “72 Hour” where Will’s idea of actual black people seem to be illiterate thugs who get violently angry if anyone uses a vocabulary higher than a 3rd grader's.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Jazz and Carlton are both well liked by the fandom. Within the show? Carlton is often the Straw Loser to Will, who's mistreated by his family, while Jazz is constantly kicked out of the Banks' house.
  • "Weird Al" Effect:
    • Will Smith manages to do this to himself; the name "Fresh Prince" originally served as his stage name as part of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, but any and all uses of the term as a nickname for him evaporated after Independence Day and his transition as a solo rap artist in the mid 1990s. Nowadays, "Fresh Prince" is universally shorthand for the series, to the point that younger viewers are unaware that it ever meant anything else.
    • Likewise, the Theme Tune contains several visual shout outs to the music video "Parents Just Don't Understand", which much of the modern audience has never seen.
  • The Woobie:
    • Will in "Papa's Got a Brand New Excuse".
    • Carlton varies between this and Jerkass Woobie.