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Series / All in the Family

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"Boy, the way Glenn Miller played
Songs that made the hit parade
Guys like us, we had it made
Those were the days!
And you knew where you were then
Girls were girls, and men were men
Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again
Didn't need no welfare state
Everybody pulled his weight
Gee, our old LaSalle ran great
Those were the days!"

A groundbreaking and controversial CBS sitcom from Norman Lear, based on the British sitcom 'Til Death Us Do Part. It aired from 1971 to 1979 (and on to 1983, if the run of Archie Bunker's Place is counted). The show has consistently been rated one of the greatest television shows of all time. It was the highest-rated show in the U.S. for five consecutive seasons between 1971 and 1976, and earned multiple Emmy and Golden Globe awards (as did each of its lead actors) as well as a Peabody during its run.

The show was, at its heart, a Dom Com focused around the Bunker family of Queens, New York and its titular head, Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor), an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist of the highest order. Archie was a blue-collar dock worker with conservative and broadly bigoted views which he was unafraid to voice at any opportunity. Archie's major foils were his wife Edith (Jean Stapleton), his daughter Gloria (Sally Struthers), and his son-in-law Mike Stivic (Rob Reiner). Mike, not-so-affectionately nicknamed "Meathead" by Archie ("You heard me. Meathead. Dead from the neck up. Meat... head."), was every bit as opinionated and vocal as Archie, but liberal and socially active. This usually resulted in a verbal sparring match between the two, with Mike's solid, intellectual, but sometimes idealized arguments clashing with Archie's stance, usually full of malapropisms and wayward logic but also with a closer personal relationship to the situation at hand and an ability to be so cleverly obtuse that Mike was unprepared to answer him. Around this, Edith simply wanted to avoid conflict, trying her sweet best to defuse the frequent conflicts and to just keep a peaceful home — no easy task when two of the people thrive on conflict.


From the start, All in the Family broke a large number of unwritten network rules, particularly with the issues which were considered acceptable to air on public TV. Archie's language was laced with epithets common on the street but never heard on television. Mike and Gloria, the Bunkers' daughter, made it clear that they had an active and healthy sex life. Even the Bunkers' toilet was the first one heard actively used on air. As the show continued, it tackled a wide variety of taboo topics, either directly, or through the medium of Archie's debates with Mike and others. These included race relations, gender roles, homosexuality, war, economy, political current events, abortion, rape, child custody, and other issues that, if not new in the 1970s, were most certainly not brought up in a comedy show.


The impact of the show was such that it became the focus of a heated national debate on whether the use of comedy was an appropriate means by which to combat prejudice and social inequality. Never before had a situation comedy, light family fare for the most part, ever treaded such heady waters. Very few shows had tried to combine controversy and comedy before.

The show's success inspired quite a few spinoffs directly or indirectly resulting from the show or characters appearing during its run, and several of them were critical and commercial successes in their own right.

  • Maude (1972-1978)
  • The Jeffersons (1975-1985)
    • Which spun off Checking In (1981)
  • Archie Bunker's Place (1979-1983), an After Show focusing the location on Archie's bar.
  • Gloria (1982-1983), a spin-off starring only Gloria, the premise being that Mike left her to live in a hippie commune so she takes their kid and goes on a journey to find herself... In the Big City.
  • 704 Hauser (1994), about an African-American family living in the former Bunker residence.

This show provides examples of:

  • '70s Hair: Mike and a number of his hippie friends.
  • Absentee Actor:
    • George Jefferson was kept offscreen until season 3 due to actor Sherman Hemsley's commitment to a Broadway show.
    • A three-part story arc in season 5 had Archie disappearing due to a salary dispute with Carroll O'Connor.
    • Sally Struthers was absent from four season 6 episodes due to her (unsuccessful) attempt to break her contract so she could star in the film The Day of the Locust.
  • Abusive Parents: In the "Two's a Crowd" episode, a drunken Archie reveals details of his abusive father to Mike.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Archie usually addressed Gloria as his "Little Girl".
    • While "Meathead" certainly wasn't one of these, it arguably became at least somewhat of an Insult of Endearment over time. Ditto "Dingbat".
  • Affectionate Parody: "All in the Family: The Opera", performed on The Sonny & Cher Show. The skit included Caroll O'Connor himself as The Censor. Archie defeats him by singing, essentially, Screw the Rules, I Have Ratings.
  • Angry White Man: Archie may be the prototypical example on screen.
  • Animated Adaptation: It inspired several of these.
    • The Barkleys, the 1972-73 story of opinionated bus driver Arnie Barkley, his wife Agnes, daughter Terri, son-in-law Roger, and son Chester. All played by different breeds of dogs.
    • Also indirectly inspired the syndicated 1972-74 series Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.
    • The Simpsons episode "Lisa's Sax" parodies the opening, with Homer and Marge in place of Archie and Edith.
    • The Family Guy opening credits sequence is a Shout-Out to the show, and one episode ("Stewie Loves Lois") parodies the Closing Credits sequence.
    • The Netflix original animated series F is for Family is essentially a new version of the series set in 1973, though with some differences such as the cast being younger and having three young children rather than an adult daughter and son-in-law, and the wife searching for an identity outside the home. Despite this, the show hits all the marks, the father even has the same clothes as Archie!
    • Seth Macfarlane has often said that the original idea behind American Dad! was to have "All in the Family in the 21st century", with the ultraconservative Stan and the die-hard liberal Hayley taking Archie and Mike's places respectively. (However, the show lost that idea relatively early on.)
    • South Park was semi-inspired by the show, Matt and Trey mentioned that Eric Cartman was inspired by the idea of how one could adapt Archie Bunker's character to the 1990's. They eventually concluded that an adult character like him would no longer be acceptable, but that a kid spouting a stream of ignorant garbage would be fine. They were right.
  • Attempted Rape: Happens to Gloria in "Gloria the Victim" and Edith in "Edith's 50th Birthday".
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • Every now and then in each season they need to make an episode that reminds the audience that yes, Archie is an asshole and gets frustrated with Edith a lot, but for all their squabbles, he loves her just as much as she does him, if not even more so.
    • Archie always considered Gloria his "Little Goil" ... and meant that with pride and the love only a father could have. Gloria, for all she disagrees with her father, dearly loves her father, too and can unfailingly count on him in time of need.
    • Archie and Mike get one of these just before the Stivics leave for California.
  • Back to School: An episode revealed Archie had secretly been working toward his high school diploma, since The Depression forced him to drop out of school.
  • Bank Toaster: Edith explains to Archie that there's money in the bank that can't be used for a time, as she took it from the main account and opened several new accounts just to get a heating pad, an electric blanket and a radio.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Several examples:
    • Edith, in "Edith's Problem." Framed around Edith going through the early stages of menopause, this classic episode became known for Jean Stapleton's comic timing and portrayal of Edith's irritability and mood swings as she deals with the symptoms. Her attempts to put Archie in his place – "Stifle, stifle, STIFLE!" – made this episode.
    • That all said, there were times where Archie – and more than once, even Mike – pissed Edith off. Archie's cases came when he too often opened his mouth, going on tirades about how certain things were "God's business" ... to which Edith would throw it right back at him and say, "Then you let God tend to that business" (and in essence, you butt out). Mike would do it when he either wasn't thinking or when he'd go on the occasional tirade about Archie and how life is better for him than he – this hateful, ignorant racist asshole – truly deserves; Edith, while admitting she doesn't always see eye-to-eye with her husband, would set her son-in-law straight very swiftly and decisively.
    • Lionel Jefferson, the young black neighbor of the Bunkers who most of the time put up with Archie's brow-beating and ill-educated attempts to deal with racial harmony. However, in "Lionel Steps Out," he puts Archie in his place (and none too gently) when he crosses the line and tries to stop him from dating his white niece.
  • Big Applesauce: Turning into The Big Rotten Apple.
  • Big Eater: Mike. Archie often mocks him over it.
  • Bigot vs. Bigot:
    • Archie vs. Mike.
    • Archie vs. Henry/George Jefferson.
    • Near the end of Archie vs. the KKK [Part 2], after Mike learns that Archie was involved with the KKK, gets livid and tells Archie that he is no longer welcome in their apartment. Archie, remembering that his blood donor was African-American, turns Papa Wolf on the KKK.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Early episodes tended to throw jabs at CBS' Standards and Practices, most famously by metaphorically flushing the warning that preceded the very first episode.
  • Blowing a Raspberry: Archie Bunker had this as his Catchphrase.
  • The Board Game: Yep, the show had one. It was a party card game that asked people how they would honestly react to various social situations. The slogan: "Is there a little Archie in all of us?"
  • Born in an Elevator: One episode features Archie stuck in an elevator with several people, including a pregnant woman, who eventually gives birth.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Inverted with Archie and Mike. Both characters were deliberately written as stealth parodies of each side of the political spectrum, and neither character was meant to illicit much sympathy. It was frequently implied that Edith was wiser than both men despite her tendency toward literal mindedness.
  • Bottle Episode: You'd be hard pressed to find an episode from season 1 that left the Bunker home. Heck, the living room for that matter.
  • Butt-Monkey: Archie, frequently; Mike, occasionally.
  • Buxom Is Better: Bobbi Jo Loomis and Mildred "Boom Boom" Turner, two different characters played by Gloria LeRoy.
  • Catchphrase: Archie had a few.
    • "You're a pip, Edith."
    • "Stifle yourself, Edith."
    • "Dummy up, you".
    • "Whoop-de-do, whoop-de-doo, whoop-de-doo!"
    • "Aw, geez."
  • Censorship by Spelling: In "Gloria's Boyfriend", Archie does it in front of George, a mentally disabled stock boy: "I know how to talk to a D-U-M-M-Y!". George, however, knows how to spell and he gets upset.
  • Cerebus Syndrome:
  • Chain Letter : The season 6 episode "Chain Letter" has Archie experiencing a run of bad luck after throwing one of these away.
  • Characterization Marches On: Although the show is remembered as one of the earliest sitcoms to have its characters undergo real Character Development over time, it also indulged in this:
    • Archie in the early seasons is depicted as prudish in the extreme, to the point of not even being able to say the word sex, and even the other characters (including Edith) wonder how he was ever able to conceive Gloria. In the later seasons he and Edith are much more readily depicted as having a healthy sex life - one episode ends with him propositioning her (which she accepts) and in another she comments that they were already sexually active when they were only engaged. She tells a friend that being with Archie is less like the 4th of July and more like Thanksgiving.
      • In fact, in "Gloria's Shock" (season 5), during a discussion about when or if couples should have children, Michael points out that lots of babies are born simply because somebody forgot to go to the drugstore. Edith and Archie exchange a meaningful look. We're not sure if they were married or just engaged when this happened.
  • Christmas Episode: Several, perhaps the most famous being "The Draft Dodger", in which Archie invites a friend who lost his son in the Vietnam War for Christmas dinner while Mike invites a friend who is a draft dodger...with completely unexpected results.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Frank and Irene Lorenzo, an Italian Catholic couple who moved into the neighborhood, began appearing in season 4. Frank was phased out without explanation after one season; Irene hung on a couple more years before vanishing without a trace herself.
    • Maude would feel like one if you'd never heard of her spin-off. After the Poorly Disguised Pilot where the Bunkers visit her, she's only mentioned once, in the episode "Mike and Gloria Meet." However, she never appeared again in the Bunkers' world, and they never made an appearance on her series. Even the Jeffersons appeared again after being spun-off.
  • Cigar Chomper: Archie.
  • Clip Show: There were two of them, both titled "The Best of All in the Family". The first was hosted by Henry Fonda midway through season 5, while the second was hosted by Norman Lear toward the end of the ninth and final season.
  • Color Me Black: Played With in a couple of episodes. In one episode Archie has a gallbladder operation and ends up getting blood donated from a black person, much to his consternation. The next season when the KKK move into Queens he invokes the transfusion as having made him part black, so he can call on his black brothers to protest the KKK meeting house.
  • Compressed Abstinence: Archie and Mike have a bet over who can last longer (of a 48 hour limit): Archie without a cigar or Mike without eating. (Mike's a Big Eater.) They start taunting each other: Mike starts smoking in front of Archie and Archie eats in front of Mike. They decide to call it a draw, with Archie lighting up & Mike eating on the count of three; but Archie pulls the lighter away from his cigar just as Mike starts eating, therefore he wins the bet.
  • Construction Catcalls: Gloria's near-rape in "Gloria the Victim" apparently started out as this before escalating.
  • Content Warnings: This was read before the first episode:
    "The program you are about to see is All in the Family. It seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties, prejudices, and concerns. By making them a source of laughter we hope to show, in a mature fashion, just how absurd they are."
  • Cool Old Guy: Justin Quigley, the octegenarian troublemaker whom Edith befriends in "Edith Finds an Old Man" and whom Gloria thereafter adopts as a surrogate Grandfather. He appears in three further episodes, usually to give Archie advice about aging or his health.
  • The Couch: More like "The Armchair".
  • Courtroom Episode: When Archie gets mugged.
  • Cousin Oliver: Stephanie, Edith's young grandniece who was adopted by Archie and Edith in season 9 after being left at their doorstep by Floyd, her mooching, alcoholic deadbeat father.
  • The Ditz: Edith, much of the time.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Robin from "Mike's Hippie Friends Come to Visit" is perpetually barefoot, being a hippie girl.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune:
    • The opening credits featured Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton singing (with Stapleton also playing the piano) in character as Archie and Edith, in front of the live studio audience (who would applaud at the end). Several different versions were used throughout the show's run. The first season's version is the only one to feature audience laughter during the song (when Edith shrieks on the high note "And you knew were you weere theeen"). Ironically, it's the version where she draws it out the least; each new version of the song has her drawing it out more and more. Each new version also places ever-greater enunciation on certain Mondegreen lyrics, particularly "Gee, our old LaSalle ran great". Archie and Edith are increasingly affectionate with each other in each new version, to reflect their growing affection for each other in-series: in season 1 they barely look at each other, in season 5 they lean into each other, and in season 9 Edith embraces Archie as he leans into her.
    • This was a very literal example... CBS didn't want to waste money on an opening title sequence for a show that wasn't likely (in their opinion) to go past 13 weeks (if it even aired at all). Lear created this now-classic opening since it was all he could afford.
    • Carroll O'Connor is credited as co-writer for the closing theme, a piano instrumental called "Remembering You".
  • Domestic Abuse:
    • Archie constantly criticized and insulted Edith. However, he never physically assaulted her.
    • Edith slapped Archie (and once, Gloria) in very serious situations. Gloria slaps Mike in a similar fashion in a couple of episodes. She also pulls Archie's hair and Mike's moustache, mostly to stop more intense arguments.
  • Downer Ending: Some episodes that were more serious wouldn't have a happy ending, if any proper conclusion at all, only fading to black.
  • Dream Sequence: "Writing the President" (the second episode) had one.
  • Driven to Suicide: Mocked. Archie would pantomime killing himself whenever Edith went on a long Motor Mouth rant.
  • Drop-In Character:
    • The Jeffersons (particularly Lionel), in the early seasons; and then the Lorenzos (particularly Irene), after the Jeffersons' departure.
    • Mike and Gloria sort of became this after they moved next door.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the first couple episodes Jean Stapleton used her actual voice when portraying Edith, and the character was just as brusque and sarcastic as Archie.
  • Elective Mute: Robin can speak, but she believes that "words are a waste of time", so she only speaks with her eyes and facial expressions. Her boyfriend Paul translates for her.
  • Embarrassing First Name: "Archibald"
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • "Shoebooty", what the other kids called Archie when he was little because his parents could only afford to give him a shoe and a boot to wear as a pair of footwear, according to the Bottle Episode where Archie and Michael are locked in the cellar.
      Archie: They used to holler, "Tooty fruity, here comes Shoebooty." And they kept calling me that until they found out my name was Archibald, and they thought that was funnier. And then I wished they'd go back to "Shoebooty".
    • "Boom Boom" Turner note  in her first appearance, though she doesn't seem to mind as much when we see her again.
  • Enemy Mine: One episode had Archie and Henry Jefferson teaming up to try and keep a Puerto Rican family from moving into the neighborhood.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Archie may be quite racist, but he was completely abashed when he joined what he thought was a Brotherhood of Funny Hats with some other people who shared his views only to realize that they were in fact The Klan. Mortified, Archie told them off and quit the club.
  • Expensive Glass of Crap: An old friend of Archie's is coming over, he likes an expensive scotch. Archie gets an empty bottle of the expensive stuff and fills it with a cheap scotch instead, saying his buddy won't know the difference. When the friend comes over, he mentions that he's been having money trouble and is forced to drink substandard scotch; his taste buds have gotten so used to it that even the fine scotch Archie is serving him tastes like the cheap stuff now.
  • The Food Poisoning Incident: After potentially being served bad mushrooms, Archie gets taken to the hospital for a painful anti-toxin shot. Of course, it's only after the shot that Edith realized the mushrooms she served didn't match the recalled brand.
  • Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics: In 1972, a full single version of "Those Were the Days" was released, containing three additional stanzas, which were never used on the show. In addition, the original, unaired 1968 pilot contains lyrics that don't even appear on the single.
    • The closing theme "Remembering You", played as an instrumental for piano by its composer Roger Kellaway, actually has lyrics; Carroll O'Connor wrote them, earning him co-author credit for the song despite his lyrics never being heard on the show itself. O'Connor sang his lyrics in live performances on several occasions.
  • Former Bigot: Archie Bunker became this over the course of the series. While he still held some outdated views, he became more accepting of others. He actually quit a club he was part of who held similar racist views when they insulted Archie's black maid.
  • Fox News Liberal: In-universe. When Archie complains to a local TV station about their pro-gun-control editorial, the station manager gives him airtime to present a rebuttal, thus cynically satisfying the letter of the then-extant Fairness Doctrine while violating its spirit by putting on a "pro-gun-rights" advocate who undercuts his side with absurd arguments (such as a suggestion that airlines "pass out the pistols" to the passengers to prevent hijackings).
  • The Gambling Addict: Archie used to be one, and only could quit when Edith threatened to leave him.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Actor Lori Shannon, a gay female impersonator (he was a man), who played the role of Beverly La Salle.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Literally. Was the first television show to feature a toilet flushing (albeit offscreen).
    • The Bunkers' minister is named Reverend Felcher.
  • Grumpy Bear: Archie was this to an extent.
  • Guilt by Association Gag: After a news report about a protest Mike is attending indicates that things are starting to turn ugly, Gloria inveigles Archie into going to find Mike and bring him home. A bit later, Mike returns home and describes what went on up to the point where he left just as the cops were starting to arrest everybody in sight. Cue horrified realization and a cut to Archie in jail along with a bunch of hippie protestors.
  • Heat Wave: The season 4 opener ("We're Having a Heat Wave") and its followup ("We're Still Having a Heat Wave").
  • Heroic BSoD: Edith has one after she's almost raped.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: George Jefferson, for the first couple of seasons. Also, Henry Jefferson's wife (and Lionel's aunt), Ruby.
    • Reverend Felcher is frequently mentioned but only appears onscreen once, in "The Saga of Cousin Oscar".
  • Hollywood Atheist: Actually averted with Mike. He does have a problem with religion and is outraged when Archie baptizes his son behind his back, but in the long run Archie's the one who always picks fights with Mike about it. And in an episode where Edith has a Crisis of Faith, Mike of all people is the one who helps reaffirm her belief in God.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Edith is not by any definition pleasant to hear when singing. But that doesn't stop her from carrying out one of her favorite tunes at any given moment.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: In Season 8's "Cousin Liz" episode, Archie and Edith go to a motel to attend the funeral of Edith's cousin Liz. Archie is hoping to receive the silver tea service set which has been in Edith's family for 100 years. Veronica approaches Edith, asking to keep the service, stating that she and Liz had afternoon tea from the service for 25 years. Veronica struggles to explain her relationship with Liz, saying it was "more like a marriage". An understanding Edith reluctantly gives the tea set to Veronica, much to Archie's chagrin. If Archie were to publicize Veronica's lesbianism, she would have lost her teaching job and been ostracized by the community. Edith tells Veronica to keep the tea set and Archie ultimately relents and suggests that she should go and find herself a man.
  • Iconic Outfit: Archie's white shirt, dark brown pants, white socks and black shoes.
  • Ignore the Disability: When Sammy Davis Jr. visits, Archie repeatedly warns Edith not to mention his glass eye, then promptly does so himself.
  • Informed Judaism: In "Stretch Cunningham, Goodbye", Archie is invited to the funeral of his co-worker Jerome "Stretch" Cunningham. Archie and Edith arrive... at Stretch's synagogue, where he learns (to his surprise) that Stretch's birth name was Jerome Cohenheimer, and he proceeds to deliver the eulogy.
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    • In "Henry's Farewell", Archie tricks George Jefferson into entering his house by claiming that standing on his stoop counts as being inside his house. George, caught up in the argument, chases him into the house, thus breaking his vow.
    • Archie's explanation to Mike of what a "balanced meal" was.
    • The argument between Archie and Henry over whether God is white or black.
  • In-Series Nickname: Meathead. Archie also calls Gloria "little girl" and Edith "Dingbat" while Mike calls him "Arch".
  • Irishman and a Jew: Caroll O'Connor and Rob Reiner, though the characters they played were not written to match their real-life ethnicities (Bunker was a WASP and Stivic was Chicago Polish). Viewers picked up on a lot of subtext, however; O'Connor based many of Archie's speech patterns and mannerisms on blue-collar Irish-Americans he had known growing up, while Reiner made no attempt whatsoever to sound like a Polish-American from Chicago.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Played with in "Edith's 50th Birthday," the episode where Edith is almost raped. At the end of the episode, Edith rushes over to the Stivics, where a surprise birthday party (that she knew about) gets started for her. Hearing everyone sing "Happy Birthday" and "For She's A Jolly Good Fellow" when we know what's just happened to her fits this trope.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Archie gradually developed into one of these as the years went by. While he was a bigot, his attitudes came about more due to the society he grew up in, rather than genuine malice or racism. Once he actually got to know other cultures and peoples better, he was able to accept them at least a little more easily.
    • When he turned down an invitation to join a Ku Klux Klan-like lodge and burn a cross in "commie" Michael's front yard, he told the group he was black because he had once had a blood transfusion from a black woman.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: In "Beverly Rides Again", Archie hopes to get the better of Pinky Peterson, who has been pulling pranks on Archie, by having him go out on a date with Beverly La Salle, played by Lori Shannon, a male transvestite who was a female impersonator, only to have Pinky get wise to the scheme [or so he believes]:
    Pinky: So, you're Beverly La Salle from out of town, huh? Is that your real name, or your stage name?
    Beverly: My God, you know!
    Pinky: I recognized you the minute you came in! I saw them putting up your picture today.
    Beverly: I'm so embarrassed, Mr. Peterson! I would never have done anything like this on my own.
    Pinky: Bunker put you up to this, didn't he? I knew he was up to something.
    Beverly: I'm glad you know; now we can go out to dinner and have a good time, and I can go back to the motel and change.
    Pinky: No, no. Since Archie lined this up, let's let him think we're pulling this off.
    • Later on, the Bunkers, Pinky, and Beverly go out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, and Pinky pretends to warm up to Beverly while two-timing his wife, Doris:
    Pinky: I really want to thank you, Arch. This is something new. I never felt like this before.
    Archie: Yeah, but... look, isn't it a shame about poor Doris, you know, your sweetheart who loves you? She's gonna be broken-hearted.
    Pinky: Oh, Doris is the same old thing. Beverly is something different.

    • A little later on, unbeknownst to the audience until later on, Archie has secretly made a phone call to Doris, and Beverly has to take off his wig to clear up the misunderstandings:
    Edith: Mr. Peterson, I got something to tell you! You see, Archie is playing a joke on you! Go on, tell him, Archie.
    Archie [slightly annoyed]: All right, Edith, yeah. All right, it's a joke. That's right, Pinky, it's a joke, and the joke is on you for a change, and a helluva joke it is.
    Pinky: You mean that Beverly's a guy?
    Archie: Beverly- [Pinky laughs hysterically, Archie turns to Edith] Did you say something to him? I can never catch this guy at nothin'-
    Pinky: I got you again, Bunker!
    Archie: Aw, jeez!
    Beverly: You told me you wanted him to have his revenge. You rat! [Beverly punches Pinky]
    Pinky: Beverly, sweetheart, you're the only dame I ever loved! I love you! [Pinky's wife Doris enters the restaurant just as Pinky starts to hug her and hits Pinky with her purse] Doris!
    Archie: Doris, I thought you was never gonna get here!
    Doris: Is this what you mean by "going bowling with the boys"?
    Pinky: Oh, Doris, I can explain everything!
    Doris: Oh, Archie, you were so right! Thank you for calling me and tipping me off to this philanderer!
    Archie: Doris, I couldn't do nothing else.
    Edith: Archie, that was a terrible thing to do!
    Archie: I had to stand by Doris.
    Pinky: Doris, you don't understand! Beverly, explain it to Doris.
    Beverly [deniably]: I don't know what you're talking about. [teasingly] Same time tomorrow night, Pinkums?
    Pinky: Doris, Beverly isn't a lady!
    Doris: Not if she's out with you, you crumb!
    Edith: Oh, no no no, he means that she- I mean he- ain't a woman.
    Pinky: Yeah, show 'em, Beverly.
    Beverly: Should I, Mr. Bunker?
    Archie: Yeah, go ahead, but be careful of the things you show, 'cause we could get locked up here.
    Beverly: All right, showtime! [Beverly takes off the wig, revealing him to be a man in drag]
    Doris: What is wrong- It's a man!
    Archie: Yeah.
    Pinky: You see, Doris, I wasn't out with a woman, I was out with a man!
  • Knight of Cerebus:
    • The aforementioned Klan.
    • Stephanie's alcoholic father.
    • The assaulter on Edith's birthday, even compared to the man who tried to attack Gloria.
    • The unseen kids who assault Mike and Beverly, beating the latter to death, are indirectly responsible for Edith (temporarily) losing her faith in God.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Archie, and occasionally Mike.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The episode where Archie "meets" George Jefferson, only to learn at the end that he's actually met George's brother, Henry, since George refused to go into Archie's house. Late-arrivals can figure this out if they saw later episodes with Henry, or if they saw episodes with George Jefferson. And if not that, they just might figure it out if they see this episode after being familiar with the spin-off.
  • Less Embarrassing Term: Mike's "shoulder bag for men".
  • Like a Son to Me: Subverted in "The Stivics Go West", after Mike thanks Archie for the years he gave him a home and says he's "been like a father to me."
    Archie: Well hey, you know, you've been just like a son to me. You never did nothin' I ever told you to do.
  • Like Father, Like Daughter: When Gloria stands up to Archie, she gives as good as she gets, even using some of his pet phrases and blowing him a raspberry.
  • Local Hangout: Kelsey's Bar, which Archie purchased in Season 8 and renamed Archie's Place.
  • Locked in a Room: "Two's a Crowd" has Archie and Mike locked in the storeroom at Archie's bar. The episode comes late in the run and is the fullest attempt to explain Archie's attitudes.
  • Long-Runners: Counting the continuation Archie Bunker's Place Carroll O'Connor played Archie for an astounding 13 seasons and 300 episodes between the two shows. Almost unparalleled for a live action American sitcom character.
  • Love at First Sight: Double Subverted with Mike and Gloria. When they first meet, they instantly find each other unsympathetic, and it only gets worse when they start to talk. However, they still eventually bond over a shared love of ballroom dancing, and they end up having sex (which is the first time for Gloria).
  • Lowered Recruiting Standards: Archie's lodge is in trouble for not having any black or Jewish members. So he suggests that they invite one black to join - Solomon Jackson. And one Jew - also Solomon Jackson. At the end of the episode Jackson accepts their invitation to join, and promises to invite all his black friends and all his Jewish friends to join too.
  • Malaproper: Archie, leading to many Funny Moments. If he uses a big word, pretty much every time he uses it incorrectly.
  • Manchild: Mike often comes off as one of these. Gloria even calls him out on it a couple of times.
  • Mathematician's Answer: When Mike asks Archie a rhetorical question.
    Mike: Why'd you go out and fight the Nazis?
    Archie: I was drafted!
  • Miss Conception: Led to a Very Special Episode.
  • Moral Myopia: This is how Archie judges himself. In his mind it is totally okay to lie and cheat ("a bit") just to get his way and he'll take great offense at being called on it, to the point where it seems he's forgotten he's lied in the first place.
  • Mouthy Kid: Stephanie, in season 9.
  • Moving the Goalposts: One of Archie Bunker's favorite fallacious debating tactics. If anyone ever comes up with solid counter to his arguments, he'll get a look of disgust and try to steer the conversation in a different direction entirely. He only ever admits he's wrong when he's well and truly cornered.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Most of the family members or their friends and neighbors are very much like normal, real people you would most likely meet, or at least in the 1970's. They all have either deep flaws or moments of stubbornness but everyone, even Archie, as been portrayed as rather decent or well-meaning to some extent.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: After learning of Gloria's infidelity in "California, Here We Are", Archie angrily confronts Gloria: "How could you do a thing like this to your family?" Then, jerking a thumb at Mike: "And him."
  • Never My Fault: One of Archie's other major character traits: he was lighting-quick at diverting blame.
  • New Parent Nomenclature Problem: We never see a flashback episode about how they arrive at this, but Mike calls his mother-in-law "Ma" (as does his wife/her daughter) while he calls his father-in-law by his given name.
  • New Year Has Come: "New Year's Wedding"
  • Nice Hat: Archie's brown fedora.
  • Nobody Poops: An historic aversion, as this show was the first instance ever of a toilet being heard flushed on network TV.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Rob Reiner makes no attempt at sounding like a Polish-American from Chicago; he pretty much talks like a New Yorker all the way through.
  • Not So Different:
    • Mike, for all his liberal attitudes, is shown in a few episodes to be just as bullheaded and chauvinistic as Archie. One episode in particular — "The Games Bunkers Play" — is more or less built around pointing this out. However, he's (usually) much more willing to admit his mistakes once he's made aware of them.
    • What's more, over the course of the show it becomes clear a few different times that Mike is bigoted in his own way. Namely, he believes that women and minorities cannot succeed without the help of liberal white males like himself.
    • George Jefferson, and before that his brother Henry, are expressly characterized as being the black equivalents of Archie, leading not only to the expected Bigot vs. Bigot arguments but occasional moments when Archie and Henry/George actually find themselves in agreement over things like the undesirability of interracial marriage. Or women's lib. Or Puerto Ricans.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Lionel used to pretend he was much more stereotypical and dumb in front of Archie, solely because it amused Archie and Lionel had fun trolling him.
  • Odd Friendship: Maybe "friendship" is too strong a word, but all things considered, Archie got along pretty well with Lionel and vice-versa.
  • One Head Taller: Mike and Gloria (Rob Reiner is 6'2, Sally Struthers is 5'1). It made their first kiss rather awkward.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The only time Archie seemed genuinely angry over a political disagreement, rather than just annoyed or disgusted, was when he was confronted with a draft dodger.
  • Person as Verb: Archie Bunker became a cultural phenomenon so rapidly that as early as 1972, sociologists and pundits were discussing the "Archie Bunker vote" (otherwise known as the White Working Class; later called "Reagan Democrats") in that year's elections. It turns out the show accurately predicted that "Archie Bunker" voters would overwhelmingly break for Richard Nixon. He even won Archie's native Queens, the last time to date that a Republican presidential candidate has done so.
  • Pie in the Face:
    • Or birthday cake, rather. Into the face of an attempted rapist.note 
    • Archie pushes Mike's face into the Mortgage Burning cake when he finds out Mike rented the Jeffersons' old house next door.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: For both Maude and The Jeffersons.
  • Porn Stache: Mike had one. Though every time he shaved it off everyone would comment that he looked ridiculous without it. Fans agreed.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: One of the few sitcoms to invert the trope. Archie, the main character, is clearly written to be a buffoon, with supporting characters Mike and Gloria supposedly providing voices of reason.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Henry Jefferson moves upstate in season 4; the rest of the Jeffersons "move on up" to Manhattan (and their own series) in season 5; Mike, Gloria and Joey depart for California at the end of season 8.
    • The Bus Came Back: George Jefferson appears in a season 8 episode, as does Louise Jefferson in season 9. The Bunkers travel West to visit the Stivics for Christmas in season 9. A grown up Joey (played by yet another actor) appeared in the pilot episode of 704 Houser.
  • Quietly Performing Sister Show: For all intents and purposes, this is what Sanford and Son is: both shows were developed by Norman Lear, and Fred is essentially a black Expy of Archie.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: In one ep., Archie and Mike have two radically different impressions of a young minority worker doing a job for them at the house: Archie sees him a threatening hoodlum, Mike as a harmless goofy kid. The truth, as usual, is somewhere in between.
  • Reaction Shot: Seen constantly, especially when Archie is shown reacting to one of Edith's long-winded speeches.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: Surprisingly averted. None of the Bunkers or Stivics ever appeared in an actual episode of The Jeffersons (save via old footage in a Clip Show) or Maude. Archie did have a cameo in the original, unaired pilot for Gloria, however.
  • Running Gag:
    • "Reverend Fletcher..." "Felcher." "Whatever!"
    • Mike and his empty pit of a stomach.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Archie and Mike have several conversations — or, rather, arguments — like this, which are treated (especially by Archie) as very Serious Business indeed.
    • In "Gloria Sings the Blues", they argue about whether you should put on your socks on both feet and then your shoes, or your the sock and the shoe on one foot, then the other one.
    • In "Archie's Raise" they argue about whether it's okay to put mustard on a pretzel.
    • In "Mike and Gloria Split", they argue whether it's a better idea to tuck both sides of a sheet into the bed and slide in through the top, or fold over a corner and lay down through the untucked side.
  • Series Fauxnale: The season 8 finale "The Stivics Go West", which sees Mike and Gloria leave for California, became this after it was decided to continue the show for another year.
  • Shout-Out:In "Archie's Chair", Archie mentions a junk shop with minority people.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: For a show about two opposing sides constantly opposing and bickering at each other, the shows heart, love, humor, and family dynamics surprisingly make this a more idealistic show. Probably one of Norman Lear's most optimistic shows come to think of it.
  • Smarter Than You Look: It was apparent that Edith was much more intelligent than she let on, she just had a tendency to ramble and was a Cloud Cuckoo Lander.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome:
    • A really weird example with Justin Quigley, the Bunker's adopted Grandfather. In his first episode, he claimed to be 82. In "Archie's 50th Birthday" he turns 83. Then in "Archie's Weighty Problem" he suddenly claims to be 92 (without a change in actor; Mustin was 91 when this last episode was filmed and had been playing younger than he was before).
    • Joey Stivic, Archie's grandson, also undergoes this, though it spans four different series:
      • Joey was born in "Birth of the Baby", which aired in December, 1975. Like most infant characters on television, he was initially played by twins (Jason and Justin Draeger). His lone appearance on All in the Family after his parents depart the series as regulars (in "California, Here We Are") sees him played by Cory R. Miller, born August 15, 1975 (four months older than his character).
      • When Joey returns for the "Thanksgiving Reunion" two-parter on Archie Bunker's Place in 1979, he is played by Dick Billingsley, born January 6, 1975 (just about a year older than his character).
      • The actor most closely associated with the role of Joey is Christian Jacobs, who played him in the short-lived Gloria spinoff. He was born on January 11, 1972, and the character of Joey was aged up to make up for this four-year gap (depicted as a preteen instead of the seven-year-old child he should have been).
      • Joey made one final appearance on 704 Hauser, a failed spinoff set in the Bunker home (after Archie had sold it to a new family), reminiscing about his childhood in the Bunker home. This childhood must have taken place before his parents even met, because he was played by Casey Siemaszko, born in early 1961 (almost fifteen years before Joey Stivic). The character, who should have been barely out of high school, looked and acted like a man in his thirties. He also had a drastic change in appearance and temperament: all previous incarnations of Joey took after his mother in looks, whereas Siemaszko's Joey was essentially a carbon copy of his father (ironically, unlike Rob Reiner, Siemaszko actually is Chicago Polish).
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: The classic performance of the theme song ("Those Were the Days" by Charles Stouse and Lee Adams) by O'Connor and Stapleton was infamous for a couple of mumbled/garbled lines (most notably "Gee, our old LaSalle ran great"), which left viewers arguing about them for years.
  • Special Guest: Sammy Davis Jr., in the classic Season 2 episode "Sammy's Visit".
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Invoked many times over the course of the series by Archie towards Edith. One episode in particular, "Edith Breaks Out", has Archie essentially try to force her to stay at home after she tells him of her volunteer work at a senior citizen's home. When he threatens to call the man in charge of the home and tell him that Edith won't be going over there any more, she blows a gasket and calls him out for trying to pigeonhole her into the role of a housewife, and storms out the front door while the audience hollers in appreciation.
  • Stealth Insult: Archie was frequently on the receiving end of these, most often from Mike.
    • Sammy Davis, Jr. gives a fantastic one to Archie in his episode:
      Sammy: If you were prejudiced, you'd walk around thinking that you're better than anybody else in the world. But I can honestly say, after having spent these marvelous moments with you... you ain't better than anybody.
      Archie: Can I have your hand on that, Sammy?
    • At his going-away party, Henry Jefferson gives a toast to Archie:
      Henry: It's been a great experience, living on this street and watching this wonderful family of Edith, Gloria, and Mike. I want to thank you, Bunker, for letting me know and letting me see that some white folks are better than other white folks.
      Archie: Well, I wish the whole world could learn that.
  • Stock Lateral Thinking Puzzle: Gloria's riddle — 'A man and his son are in a car accident and the man is killed. The boy is rushed to hospital. The doctor takes one look at him and says "I can't operate on this child, he's my son!" How is that possible?'note  Edith is the one who figures it out. While it's to be expected that Archie wouldn't guess it, this solution doesn't occur to Mike either, though Mike at least gets the point after being told the answer.
  • Strawman Ball: In one episode, Mike inherits $200 upon the death of a relative and decides to contribute all of it to the George McGovern campaign. While $200 may seem a drop in the bucket to modern audiences, for the time period (and some like Mike with limited income), it was far from nothing and many viewers were irked by Mike contributing the whole amount to a politician, rather than, say, buying a month's worth of groceries for the Bunker family or repaying Archie for some of the freebies he's had along the way.
  • Studio Audience:
    • Lampshaded in the closing credits, with a voiceover by Rob Reiner: "All in the Family was recorded on tape before a live audience."
    • Averted in Season 9 at Carroll O'Connor's behest. Instead, episodes were shot on a closed set and then screened after completion for audiences attending live tapings of One Day at a Time so that their reactions could be edited in. The closing-credits voiceover, now given by O'Connor, was rephrased to reflect this: "All in the Family was played to a studio audience for live responses." (This setup was continued for Archie Bunker's Place.)
  • Suddenly Ethnicity:
    • In the "Archie in the Hospital" episode (but only for Archie, not the audience).
    • A more straight example happened in "Stretch Cunningham, Goodbye", where the titular recurring character dies and both Archie and the audience discovers he was Jewish.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Edith was used sparingly in the first season of Archie Bunker's Place before dying of a stroke offscreen.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: George Jefferson, for Henry Jefferson. It's inverted, though, because George was always intended to be on the series, but Sherman Hemsley had to fulfill other contractual obligations and Norman Lear didn't want another actor. Henry was created as a substitute until Hemsley was free to appear.
  • Take That!:
    • Against politics in general, with both Archie and Michael embodying aspects of conservatives and liberals respectively.
    • Another one was done against the Moral Guardians of the FCC,note  with the core foursome singing a modified version of "Those Were The Days".
      Jean Stapleton: Let's all sing the 1975 version of "Those Were the Days"! [hurries over to the piano; Carroll O'Connor joins her on the bench, while Sally Struthers and Rob Reiner stand behind her] We call it "These Are the Days"!
      Sally: Oh, goody goody gumdrops, and other Family Hour expressions of delight.
      [Jean plays an introductory flourish, then the four begin singing]
      Carroll, Jean, Sally, Rob: Television's grown up now
      No-one needs a marriage vow
      Folks go to the terlit now
      These are the days!
      Jean: Single girls can take a pill...
      Carroll: Robert can propose to Bill...
      Carroll, Jean, Sally, Rob: And we all can say "prune juice" and "tush" and "potty" out loud...
      Sally: We can show my pregnancy...
      Rob: And John-Boy can have VD...
      Carroll: Plus a quick vasectomy...
      Jean, Sally, Rob: After nine o'clock!
      Carroll: [spoken] Yeah!
      Carroll, Jean, Sally, Rob: These are the days!
  • The Talk: The wedding flashback episode has a very flustered Edith trying to give one of these to Gloria.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: "The Little Atheist"
  • Thematic Theme Tune: "Those Were the Days", a longer version of which was issued as a single and became a minor radio hit in 1972.
  • The Oner: "Edith's 50th Birthday" was shot all in one long take because the director believed (rightly so) that doing so would heighten the tension amongst the studio audience and that it would then be felt by the audience at home. There ultimately had to be one edit (aside from the ones for scheduled commercial breaks) because the episode's climactic moment caused the studio audience to cheer so loudly and for so long a good chunk had to be cut for time.
  • This Is My Chair: Arguably the most famous application of the trope.
  • Toilet Paper Trail: Used only semi-comedically in one episode: Archie and Edith visit Mike and Gloria in California. One night during their stay, Gloria talks to her mother: the marriage isn't going well, and they might divorce. They use the bathroom for privacy during their talk. They both cry, and Edith in particular uses some toilet paper to wipe her eyes. When they leave Edith has a trail of toilet paper in her hand; when Archie calls her on it she says she was "using it for Kleenex" without going into details.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Till Death Us Do Part, which came before this show.
  • Trans Equals Gay: Beverly LaSalle, a recurring gay character, is a cross-dresser. The show also averted the trope with an earlier episode featuring one of Archie's pals as a Manly Gay man.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: In one 1978 episode, Archie correctly names the next President as he yells after Mike "...and you're getting Reagan in '80!"
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Archie Bunker. Aside from being bigoted, he's also highly selfish and abrasive, constantly putting down everyone around him. At least this is how it started out, until the show gained solid footing … and then several episodes did attempt to show Archie's better sides.
  • Very Special Episode: Averted, in a way, in that while a large majority of the episode plots could qualify as "very special episodes," none of them were branded as such. The 1977-1978 episode was especially prevalent with adult-themed episode plots, including the attempted rape of Edith, Archie becoming hooked on amphetamines, Archie unwittingly joining the KKK, Edith witnessing a deadly robbery, and – while locked in the storeroom with Mike – letting slip that he was abused as a child. The final episode of that season, "The Stivics Move West," was also "very special" in a different way: it was the Tearjerker episode where Mike and Gloria say their farewells to Archie and Edith and, with little Joey, move west.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: One involved Archie and Mike meeting for the first time, another revisited Mike and Gloria's wedding.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Beverly LaSalle, the female impersonator whose life Archie saves. He later appears in two more episodes. It's made clear he's actually a drag queen rather than a cross dresser, not generally going out in public in drag and making a living performing as a female impersonater.
    • Beverly is never stated to be gay, just a drag queen (someone who dresses as a woman as part of an act but not necessarily in their personal life) and his effeminate mannerisms could be explained by spending so much time in character (or just not breaking character; Beverly is pretty much only ever seen in drag, which is somewhat at odds with the "not going out in public in drag" part).
  • Will They or Won't They?: Variation - just whether or not Mike and Gloria get back together or go through with their divorce is unclear. It simply gives a vague closing scene of everyone calmly sitting by the Christmas tree. The Gloria spinoff says that he does leave her, but how canon that was is up for debate.
    • Actually the two reappear in the first season of Archie Bunkers Place, back together with no mention of their previous marital problems. Then Gloria reappears a couple of seasons later with Mike having left her, but this was explained as his having a breakdown over the state of society and moving to a couples commune with a student when Gloria refused to join him rather than being related to the issues present in aitf season 9.
  • Women Are Wiser:
    • Edith in some ways. She was, indeed, as Archie often called her, a "dingbat", but she was also much more socially sensitive and moral than him.
    • Perhaps the best example of all comes from the season 4 episode "The Games Bunkers Play"; while playing "Group Therapy", Edith confides to Mike that she doesn't like the way he makes fun of Archie, calling him ignorant. When Mike tries to defend himself, she said "If you really was smarter then Archie, you'd be smart enough to not let him see that you're smarter than him." The audience actually applauded that, it was so brilliant.
    • There's actually a somewhat famous quote about the difference between intelligence and wisdom that compares Edith (wise but unintelligent) to a contemporary public figure who was the reverse, said figure being Richard Nixon.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The local chapter of the KKK calls themselves the Kweens Kouncil of Krusaders.
  • You Talk Too Much: Archie often regarded himself as the family spokesman and often told others — Edith in particular — to "shaddup" or "stifle yourself" when they began to say something he didn't want them to say.


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