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Series / A Different World

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Originally, this was a Spin-Off of The Cosby Show: Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) goes to college. It ran on NBC from 1987 to 1993.

The show was set at fictional, historically-black Hillman College in Virginia. Two of the supporting cast, Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison) and Whitley Gilbert (Jasmine Guy), proved to be Ensemble Darkhorses. In the second season, Lisa Bonet was let go because she and then-husband Lenny Kravitz were having a baby and the producers were concerned about Denise appearing to be an unwed mother. This led to Dwayne and Whitley becoming the new leads. Despite all the odds working against them, this actually changed the show into a hit and altered the formula from being a mere spin-off to an entity of its own.

The show also became acclaimed for tackling issues that other shows (especially The Cosby Show) refused to at the time, and became the first prime-time show to actually address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

For animation buffs, it's one of the few on-screen roles of Cree Summer (who joined around season 2).


  • Affectionate Nickname: "Chipmunk" and "Pookie" for Dwayne. He often refers to Whitley as "Bunny".
  • Agony of the Feet: Whitley doesn't exactly wear the most comfortable shoes and in some episodes she's either complaining about her aching tootsies or asking the nearest person for a foot massage.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Dean Dorothy Dandridge Davenport.
    • Once she marries Dwayne, Whitley becomes "Whitley Wayne", which she doesn't like the sound of—"It doesn't have a nice "wing" to it."
    • Dwayne himself. Even though his first and last names start with different letters, they rhyme—"Dwayne Wayne".
    • There's also Dwayne's father, Woodson Wayne.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Freddie has a huge crush on Dwayne when she first arrives at Hillman, but between him pining for Denise, dating Suzanne, and trying to attract Whitley's attention, poor Freddie doesn't even stand a chance. She eventually realizes this and moves on.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Or rather, all men named Ron Johnson and not Shazza Zulu, as far as Freddie is concerned. It doesn't help Ron's case that he lives and breathes this trope, though.
  • ...And 99˘: After becoming tipsy on cheap wine while celebrating her 21st birthday, Whitley states that she would never again buy a wine whose price ended in this trope.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Both Ron and Walter were recurring characters in Season 1, but the Retool in Season 2 saw them promoted to main cast. Ditto for Lena, Gina, and Charmaine, introduced in Season 5 and featured in the intro in Season 6.
    • Look closely at the extras in the season 2-5 intro and you'll see that one of them is Bumper Robinson, who portrays Dorian in Season 6. Doubles as Freeze-Frame Bonus.
  • The B Grade: Maggie, Kim, and Dwayne are classic overachievers, and proud of it. So is Freddie, if it's something pertaining to creative writing, African-American studies, or law.
  • Babies Ever After: Whitley learns that she's pregnant in the series finale.
  • Back for the Finale: Walter.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: "Dwitley", even after they become an Official Couple. Compare how Whitley and Dwayne sometimes tend to treat each other (snarky, sarcastic, dismissive, and in Dwayne's case, borderline controlling) to how Dwayne is with Denise/Suzanne/Kinu and how Whitley treats Julian/Byron (always loving, polite, and affectionate). Nevertheless, they love each other dearly.
  • Betty and Veronica: Dwayne (Archie), Whitley (Veronica), and Kinu (Betty) in season 4.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Dwayne can be absolutely terrifying when he's pissed off. Messing with his computer or his girl have been shown to bring it out of him. Even Whitley herself isn't immune to it if she's done something incredibly stupid (like charging $700 to his credit card without permission) or has worked his last nerve.
    Dwayne (recounting The Rashomon to Terell): "Last year, me and Ron got into it with some locals at a football game. They wanted static, we gave it to them. If I'd been packing heat that day, I would have wasted all of them, even the nice ones!"
  • Big Brother Mentor: Walter filled this role neatly, both as a coach and as a Dorm Director.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The two-part series finale. Dwayne lands a lucrative position with Kineshiwa thanks to an idea for a literary video game that he and Ron brainstormed, but this means he and Whitley will have to relocate to Japan, leaving their friends, families, and all they've ever known behind. Furthermore, he and Ron have a falling out over Ron not getting credited/compensated for the idea, to the point that they avoid each other and Ron actually considers legal action against his best friend. They eventually patch things up but not until the very end, when Dwayne is headed for the airport. Topping off the "-sweet" end, though, Whitley learns she's pregnant with their first child and Dwayne names Ron the godfather right before they leave.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Briefly, when Freddie's cousin Matthew takes a shine to Kim.
  • Break the Haughty: Dwayne to Whitley, frequently and sometimes cruelly.
  • Breakout Character: Dwayne Wayne and Whitley Gilbert, who took on the starring roles after Denise was phased out of the show. Their on-again, off-again romance carried the show through several seasons.
  • Bridezilla: Whitley becomes this as preparations for her's and Dwayne's wedding get underway, likely contributing to his cold feet and slight infidelity. She avoids this while planning her wedding to Byron and the role is taken on more by her cousin as bridesmaidzilla and mother as momzilla.
  • Broke Episode: Happens enough times in the series to be a recurring theme.
    • When Whitley hits Mr. Gaines's car, she has to take a job slinging hash at The Pit in order to pay it off.
    • Later, her dad cuts her off from her credit cards, forcing her to pawn off her family heirlooms and take jobs at Jaleesa's temp agency just to cover her end of the rent.
    • Happens to Ron when his band breaks up and he's likewise forced to take temp jobs or risk a very irritated Dwayne kicking him out of their apartment.
    • For Dwayne and Whitley, nearly any episode between the time they marry and the time he finally lands a job at Kineshiwa is this due to them having to survive on Dwayne's paltry adjunct salary after Whitley gets laid off from her art buyer's position.
    • Kimberly is offered a full scholarship but then finds out that the company sponsoring it still has connections to apartheid so she gives it up, forcing her to work three jobs to pay her tuition. Walter and Freddie find another scholarship for Kimberly and even though it's not the full one she turned down, it's enough for her to quit 2 of her jobs.
    • In the series' very first Broke Episode, Denise, due to her account being overdrawn, is unable to pay her dorm fees, and rather than ask Cliff for more money, she takes on a work-study job alongside Jaleesa in the Pit.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Freddie's a loopy flake, but dialogue indicates that she's a very good student. Ironically, she's also a law student.
  • Celebrity Paradox: One scene has three students, including Dwayne, impersonating Bill Cosby while playing poker. Cosby, obviously, already exists in this reality as Cliff Huxtable so the gag doesn't make much sense. An argument could be made that they're impersonating Cliff but that's a stretch since none of these characters have ever met him.
  • Celebrity Star: En Vogue, Blair Underwood, and Kris Kross, to name a few, get episode spotlights. And legends Patti LaBelle and Diahann Carroll each recur frequently as Dwayne's and Whitley's mothers.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: For a comedy spin-off of The Cosby Show, this one took on its share of unpleasant real-life issues, such as date rape, racial tensions, the AIDS epidemic, being sent off to war, sexual harassment, and domestic/dating abuse.
    • On a more personal level, we have Whitley, post-Flanderization, finding herself in some uncomfortable situations at work and on campus while the final season sees Dwayne and Ron having a contentious falling out that doesn't get resolved until the very end of the series finale.
    • Season 5 has Whitley learning that her family owned slaves in the 19th century.
    • There's also Freddie's near date rape and Kim going from being busted by her policeman dad for sneaking out to a concert in one episode to Kim finding out he's been shot in the line of duty in the very next one.
  • Character Development: Whitley becomes less and less of a Rich Bitch as the series goes on. Inverted with Dwayne, however, who goes from being a Dogged Nice Guy to Denise in season one to becoming controlling and somewhat neglectful to Whitley by Season 4. Played straight after he nearly loses her to Byron, though.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Maggie (Marisa Tomei) and Whitley's sidekick, Millie, along with the first and second dorm moms Stevie (Loretta Devine) (season 1), and Lettie (seasons 1-2), respectively, and post-season 5, Jaleesa.
    • In an example even closer to the initial trope, Col. Taylor's daughter, Suzanne, disappears completely following her breakup with Dwayne and is never spoken of by Col. Taylor or Terrance for the remainder of the series, apart from Terrance complaining about having to move into her old room when stepmom Jaleesa turns his into her office.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Whitley
  • Content Warnings: Two episodes sported warnings before they aired, one dealing with date rape, and one dealing with the incipient AIDS crisis.
  • Conveyor Belt Video - the Title Sequence from Season 2 on.
  • Cool Big Sis: Jaleesa.
  • Cousin Oliver: Col. Taylor's son Terrance was added to the cast in Season 4. The new class, Lena, Gina, Terrell, Dorian, and Charmaine (Cousin Pam's friend from The Cosby Show) were added in Seasons 5 and 6.
  • Darker and Edgier: Unlike its parent series, this series was not afraid to tackle some pretty dark subject matter, including date rape, AIDS, the Gulf war and racial issues, and not in the light and fluffy way that The Cosby Show tended to handle them (when they talked about them at all). Black culture at the time was also more generally reflected, with characters rapping and dressing in gold chains, etc. It also wasn't afraid to openly state that its young, unmarried characters were sexually active, something that was implied at best on The Cosby Show, though that topic was generally avoided.
  • Date Rape Averted: Freddie, with a timely assist from Dwayne in the Season 2 episode, "No Means No".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dr. Barnabus Foster
  • Death Glare: Whitley gives these out like a college professor gives pop quizzes whenever someone annoys her. The one that stands out the most is when Dwayne tells her he went out with another woman.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Kinu starts out perfectly nice, but gets bitchier as time goes on. Granted, it's mostly in response to Whitley constantly inserting herself into her relationship with Dwayne.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Byron Douglas, of the "Bland Perfection" variety.
  • Does Not Like Men: Following her unrequited Dwayne-crush (and coincidentally, her averted Date Rape), Freddie has varying degrees of this trope but it's mostly directed at Ron. Averted if the man in question is one Shazza Zulu, however.
  • Domestic Abuse: One of its Very Special Episode s focused on Gina Deveaux being abused by her rapper boyfriend.
  • Double Standard: When Whitley is sexually harassed by her boss, everyone treats her with compassion and understanding. But when Dwayne describes an identical experience that he went through during a summer internship, right down to his female boss taking him off a prized project when he filed a complaint, Kim and Whitley snap, "Who cares?". Had the roles been reversed, everyone would have blasted Dwayne for being cruel and insensitive, but the girls uncaring attitude is played for laughs.
  • Downer Ending: The episode where Whitley gets sexually harassed—after an investigation is finally done, her manager keeps his job, gets a slap on the wrist and she still has to report to him.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The show centered around Denise Huxtable and her roommates Maggie and Jaleesa. A woman named Stevie was their dorm director and Whitley was the central antagonist. She had a minion named Millie who followed her every demand. Dwayne was a nerd whose time was mainly spent hanging around Gilbert Hall hoping for a date with any of the ladies there, but who found Whitley as annoying as everyone else did. Ron and Walter were there, but not as full-time cast members, and Kim, Freddie, Col. Taylor and Mr. Gaines are nowhere to be seen. The theme song was a slow, blues-y number sung by Phoebe Snow. Come the second season, Denise, Maggie, Stevie, and Millie are gone, Jaleesa is a supporting character and voice of reason to the younger students, Whitley is now the protagonist and she and Dwayne, now a cool guy, are dating. The theme song is now much more Motown-inspired and sung by Aretha Franklin.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Dwayne's full name: Dwayne Cleophus Wayne.
  • Ethnic Menial Labor: Nearly a whole episode was devoted to a discussion on the mammy archetype after Whitley decides to dedicate an art installation to said archetype.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Freddie goes from wearing her frizzy hair loose to in a bun or French twists when she begins law school. And even when she wears it loose, it's combed straight.
  • Fake High: In the Season 2 episode, "If You Like Pilgrim Coladas", Whitley and Kim go to a bar with a fake ID and are found out when they act drunk after several of the eponymous drink, which contains no alcohol.
  • Family Theme Naming: The Wayne family. In addition to Dwayne, the one Christmas Episode discusses several relatives coming to visit him, Whitley and his parents, cousin, Aunts, and Uncles named Elaine, Shane, and Dane and even a relative has a dog named Tulane.
  • First Girl Wins: Subverted, as Denise is Dwayne's first true love, but after she leaves Hillman, his affections transfer to Whitley, whom he ends up marrying after dating at least two other women in between.
  • Flanderization:
    • Whitley has quite a few outright goofy moments in the later seasons, examples including dressing up as a maid, donning a kimono in order to impress an interviewer from a Japanese-based company, and spending an entire episode without saying anything. This is from a girl who started out as a Rich Bitch antagonist.
    • Freddie goes from being a bubbly Composite Character of Denise and Maggie in her introduction to a full-on Cloud Cuckoolander in later episodes.
    • In the first season Ron is more or less a decent guy with eyes only for one woman (Millie); from Season 2 onward, he's the misogynistic playboy the ladies all despise.
  • Freudian Couch: Stressed-out therapist Dr. Langhorne (played by Debbie Allen) has one. Whitley lies on it during her sessions. Dr. Langhorne lies on the couch herself during a session with Col. Taylor, Jaleesa, and Terrence.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Whitley plays with this. While she became more responsible and mature over time, she still has moments where she comes off as insufferable, even to her best friends Freddie and Kim.
  • Fur and Loathing: Freddie would freak out when she saw one. Whitley learned about this the hard way when she started dating a politician and offended one of his potential supporters by wearing fur.
  • Graduate from the Story: averted as once the main cast graduated, the show went on for two more seasons and showed them going to graduate school and/or working.
  • Granola Girl: Freddie.
  • Heel Realization/Heroic BSoD: Whitley suffers both upon learning that her great, great, great grandfather was one of the few African Americans in the 19th century to own slaves.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: There's Dwayne (5'11") and Denise (5'2"); Dwayne and Whitley (also 5'2"); and Freddie (5'3") and Shazza (6'2").
    • Whitley is the tiny girl to just about any man she dates, though it's somewhat less noticeable when she's in heels.
    • Dorian towers over 5'0" Lena.
  • Hypocrite: Shazza makes a snide comment about Kim dating a white guy. Aside from the fact that that's none of his business, given his "green eyes" that Kim herself points out, he likely has white ancestry himself. Freddie also gets one in the episode "Prisoner of Love" when her prison pen pal is actually revealed to be a journalist researching how black male ex-cons are treated when released. At the end of the episode when it's revealed, she calls a majority of the students who treated him badly hypocrites, only for him to call her one by saying that when she thought he was an ex-con that she treated him badly and gave him a coloring book just to ease her conscience/make herself feel better.
  • I Drank WHAT?!: In one episode, Lena is babysitting for Jaleesa's baby while Colonel Taylor is hosting Byron's bachelor party. Ron makes pina coladas and decides to use the milk in the fridge. Cue several spit takes when Lena comes down to get the breast milk for the baby. Also counts as You're Drinking Breast Milk.
  • I Have No Son!: Dwayne's mom sends a funeral wreath, complete with a note saying "Call me when you divorce "Miss Thing"" to show her displeasure at him and Whitley getting hitched and refuses to speak to him or take his calls. She gets better by the end, though.
    • According to Ron, his dad says this to him in reaction to him not wanting to join the family used car sales business.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Kinu, upon realizing that Dwayne still carries a torch for Whitley that he's not exactly trying to extinguish, chooses to leave the relationship with her dignity intact rather than fighting to win his heart anymore. Briefly played with when Dwayne concedes that Byron is better suited to give Whitley the life she needs/wants; subverted when he makes his feelings known at Whitley and Byron's wedding and she chooses to marry Dwayne instead anyway, running into his arms and leaving a stunned Byron at the altar.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Kinu's a complete bitch by the time she leaves the show, but her reason is completely legitimate—she's fed up with Whitley's constant interference in her and Dwayne's relationship and Dwayne's refusal to do anything about it.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: In real life, Jasmine Guy sounds nothing like Whitley Gilbert. She has stated in interviews that she based the accent off of her third-grade teacher to emphasize the character's southern roots and affluence.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The art director Whitley reports to hits on her and when she attempts to report him for sexual harassment, he turns it around and accuses her of making all the advances. This nearly gets her fired and she's only able to get any recompense by threatening to go above the director and his boss' heads for not investigating her allegation. Not only is this implied to have been a drawn-out and stressful process, but the ending narration states that all he got was a reprimand and she still has to report to him.
    • The episode where Dwayne and Ron get into a racial scuffle with three white students from a rival university after one of them starts spray-painting the n-word onto Ron's car; while they were straightening things out in the campus cooler, someone else (presumably another white student) finished the job and will likely never be punished for it.
    • There's also the woman who outconned Ron out of car sale and got him fired and the used car sales manager from the same episode; both get off scot free.
    • The rednecks who harass Terell and Charmagne by chasing them off the road in their truck (offscreen) in one episode are apparently never punished for it.
    • Somehow, Dwayne and Whitley manage to get away with upstaging Byron's wedding to her without any repercussions. Mind you, this is after Byron was elected senator, so he really could have messed up their lives had he wanted.
  • Ladykiller in Love: The womanizing Ron falls hard for Kim and has to do a lot of work to convince her that he can be a one-woman man. He then proves her point by cheating on her with her best friend Freddie, though he apparently stays faithful to her.
  • The Last DJ: Ron, especially in "Just Another Four Letter Word". He's so obsessed with his shaky music career and his wannabe love life, that he barely cares about getting a "real" job. This is perhaps lampshaded in the final season's opening credits; whereas his friends and colleagues all have their careers, he's seen dancing with various women.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The sixth and final season put the heavy focus on incoming students at Hillman, (including one recurring character from the recently ended Cosby Show) after the main characters graduated, and Dwayne and Whitley married, in the previous season; Jalessa vanished from the series; the theme song was redone (again), and now sung by Boyz II Men, replacing Aretha Franklin. Freddie does a complete 180° from her hippie/flower child persona to wearing French twists and suits when she enrolls in law school (after showing no interest in this before) and she and Ron suddenly can't keep their hands off each other, despite hating each other's guts for years before.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Dwayne and Whitley have had this going on even before they started dating much less marrying each other. Likewise for Ron and Freddie.
  • Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: Guest stars, including but not limited to Tisha Campbell (of Martin fame) and Sista Souljah, introduced topics such as date rape, AIDS, the Gulf War and the LA Riots to viewers and then disappeared. In regards to the Gulf War and AIDS episode, there may be an unfortunate reason why neither character was ever seen or heard from again.
  • May–December Romance: Between Col. Taylor, who's served in Vietnam and has two college-aged children putting him in his late 40's at least, and Jaleesa, who while being older than her more traditional classmates is still in her late 20's.
  • MRS Degree: One episode has Whitley confessing to Dean Hughes that when she initially came to Hillman, this was her plan, complete with a wedding the day after graduation and using her art history degree to pick out the right paintings to decorate the living room.
  • Musical Episode: Although several of the actors sang from time to time in the series, "The Little Mister", the episode spoofing the 1992 presidential elections, counts as one of these.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits: Ron to everyone, Dwayne included, when his sister visits Hillman. A later episode has him dating Walter's niece, which Walter is none too enthused about.
  • Not-So-Forgotten Birthday: They run this plot with Whitley three times (technically.) The first season, she's surprised with a cake by the main cast. Then, on her 21st b-day, she assumes everyone forgot, gets drunk, and nearly makes out with a photo of Denzel Washington, but she is given a "spinster" dinner by her dorm mates and receives some sentimental gifts from Dwayne and Julian. While not exactly the same, special mention has to go to her first birthday as Dwayne's wife, where she gets paranoid and PLANS HER OWN SURPRISE PARTY, Dwayne finds out and cancels it, gives her a crappy dinner at a diner, and bluffs her all the way home where a roomful of people surprise the crap out of her with a cake and gifts.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Angered by Whitley mistaking her for a maid, Dwayne's mother is relentlessly nasty to Whitley throughout their relationship, despite her repeated, sincere attempts at making amends for this. It gets cranked up after Dwayne and Whitley marry, with her sending them a funeral wreath with a note that says, "Call me when you divorce Ms. Thang", then apparently holding firm to this, as Dwayne mentions that she hangs up on him every time he calls.
  • Perky Female Minion: Millie. After she leaves, Kim somewhat fills the role.
  • Politician Guest-Star: Season 2's "Citizen Wayne" has a guest spot by civil-rights activist and 1988 Democratic presidential nomination runner-up Jesse Jackson.
  • Pretty in Mink: Whitley owned a few furs. Although she was spoiled and materialistic, they didn't disappear as she got Character Development.
  • The Professor: Dr. Barnabus Foster stands out among the faculty for his eloquence and vast literary knowledge. Being portrayed by Roscoe Lee Browne helps.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: With the second season retool, recurring guests Darryl M. Bell and Sinbad were promoted to main cast members.
  • Put on a Bus: When Season 2 begins, it's explained that Denise isn't coming back to Hillman for another term.
  • The Rashomon: An episode in which Ron and Dwayne get into a brawl with three white students from a rival college is depicted as it really happened (both sets of students saying and doing things to provoke each other, culminating in one of the white students vandalizing Ron's car), then from Ron's point of view (showing himself and Dwayne as completely innocent and depicting the one white student who was trying to stop the incident from escalating as equally aggressive as his friends), then from the white students (claiming that Ron and Dwayne were the aggressors and omitting the damage done to Ron's car).
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: Unsurprisingly, there were several with its parent series. Cliff appeared in cameos during phone conversations, while Claire, Theo, Rudy, and Grandpa Russell each visited Hillman. After Denise's departure, Claire still made appearances and Vanessa made one. In a later episode, Dwayne visits Denise (in her final appearance on the series) and meets Olivia. Lance and Charmaine also appeared in Season 5, with the latter joining the cast the next season.
  • Rich Bitch: Whitley initially, although this was toned down over time.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: When Whitley is sexually harassed by her boss. He chastises her for filing a complaint, telling her, "There are far too few of us (African-Americans) in the corporate world. We owe it to our people to present a united front." The incident was inspired by the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill case, right down to the criticism leveled at Hill for turning against one of her own.
    • The episode "Ms. Understanding" from the previous season, introduced the Shazza Zulu character as having written a book on black men's alleged shortcomings that was a barely disguised commentary on the controversy over the then-recently released book "The Blackman's Guide to Understanding the Blackwoman" by Shahrazad Ali.
  • Romantic False Lead: Hoo boy. Before Dwayne and Whitley marry, he dates Denise, Suzanne and Kinu. For Whitley, there's Julian and Byron (whom she almost married). Ron dates Millie and Kim before his relationship with Freddie, who dated Ernest, Garth, and Shazza Zulu (and had a rather lengthy, if unreciprocated, crush on Dwayne) before him. Kim dated Robert, Freddie's cousin Matthew, and Ron before hooking up with her eventual fiance Spencer, and Jaleesa almost married Walter before shocking everyone and eloping with Col. Taylor.
  • Runaway Bride: Whitley literally leaves fiancé Byron at the altar to run down the aisle into Dwayne's arms.
  • Ship Tease: Between Dwayne and Whitley before they finally got together, even when Denise was still in the picture.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Usually Freddie, but others had their turns.
  • Special Guest: Includes several appearances of cast members from parent series The Cosby Show; as well as appearances from Montel Williams, Jesse Jackson, and Lena Horne.
  • Stern Teacher: Col. Taylor (AKA. "Dr. War"). Dwayne (after he becomes an adjunct), Whitley, and Dr. Barnabus Foster also count.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Freddie and Kim have quite a few personality traits that remind viewers of Denise/Maggie and Millie, respectively.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: In one episode, Whitley disguises herself as a guy and makes some sexist comments comparing her and other girls' "ass"-sets in an attempt to bag Dwayne for cheating or at least for entertaining the thought. He sees through it but goes along with it just to mess with her.
  • Team Mom: Stevie, Lettie, Dwayne's mom (Patti Labelle).
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Whitley sees Dr. Langhorne, played by Debbie Allen. Coincidentally, Col. Taylor, Jaleesa and Terrence are also her patients.
  • Token White: Maggie in the first season, and Freddie's cousin Matthew later on.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Dwayne and Ron started out as couple of goofy, somewhat weird, but all-around nice guys and while they pretty much remain decent throughout the entire series, 3 seasons in sees Dwayne treating Whitley far worse than he ever would have treated Denise Huxtable, even after they become an Official Couple, while Ron becomes a Casanova and pervert with only minimal Character Development in the final two seasons.
  • Tsundere: Whitley to Dwayne (and she also starts getting yanderish towards him in the later seasons) and both her and Freddie to Ron—although with him, it's almost completely tsun-tsun.
  • The Twelve Spoofs of Christmas: In the Season 3 Christmas Episode, the gang (minus Whitley, who is experiencing Yet Another Christmas Carol) all gathered together in the forum and sang their own parody of the song including only five verses:
    Mr. Gaines: Five onion rings...
    Col. Taylor: Four failing freshmen...
    Ron: Three French kisses!
    Kim and Freddie: Two butts-a-bumpin'...
    All: And my MC Hammer CD!
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Jasmine Guy playing Whitley Gilbert and her cousin Liza in one episode.
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Ron (though he got better as the show went on). He would fit the trope if his best friend was a white guy, but Dwayne is about as far from that as the show got. Ron did have some Daffy Duck tendencies, but as time went on, he showed himself to be sincere, thoughtful, innovative, and genuine. Sure he was greedy, but given that his father was a used car salesman, he could have turned out a LOT worse.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Dwayne, Whitney, and Kinu.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Despite literally being at each other's throats in all prior interactions, Dwayne and Whitley's mothers finally hit it off in a Thanksgiving episode while languishing in a jail cell.
  • Wedding Deadline: In "Save the Best for Last", Dwayne interrupts the wedding just before Whitley says "I will" to Byron, only for her to say "I do" to Dwayne, marrying him instead.
  • Wham Episode: One episode had Kim's detective father (played by Richard Roundtree) coming down hard on her after she defied him to go to a concert in DC. The next episode? Kim, Whitley, Dwayne, and Freddie drive from Virginia to Ohio after finding out he was shot and possibly paralyzed.
  • Where da White Women At?: Freddie's mother is white, and a handful of throwaway lines establish that Colonel Taylor's never-seen ex-wife is also. The Season 2 Valentine's Day episode has Maggie dancing with a black guy. Inverted with Kim and Freddie's cousin, Matthew.
  • Why Waste a Wedding?:
    • Jaleesa and Walter realize they shouldn't marry after all at the altar but utilize the would-be reception as a party.
    • Dwayne and Whitley take advantage of this after Whitley leaves Byron at the altar and marries Dwayne...all in the same ceremony.
  • Woman Scorned: As much as she treats Dwayne like dirt when he's trying to attract her attention, Whitley readily switches into this mode when he dumps her and starts dating someone else.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: Whitley gets put through this trope's paces in Season 3's "For Whom the Jingle Bell Tolls".
  • Your Mom: Ron's penchant for "Your Mama" jokes puts him on the wrong side of Kim, until he tells her one with a genuinely sweet spin.
    Ron: Your Mama's daughter is so beautiful, Ron Johnson is speechless.