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"The world is full of idiots, and someone needs to point it out to them or they will never know."
Dr. John Becker

Becker was a Sitcom which ran on CBS from 1998–2004, about an angry, loud, opinionated doctor named John Becker (played by Ted Danson, in his second lead role in a TV series produced by Paramount, after Cheers) with a small practice in the Bronx and a loose group of petty, self-centered "friends", who seemed to be the only people who could actually stand Becker for more than a few moments. Nevertheless he seemed popular with his patients, despite the fact that Becker generally hated people.

At work, head nurse Margaret Wyborn (Hattie Winston) was in charge, and the practice was assisted by Linda (Shawnee Smith), who could be The Ditz but was very popular with the patients. Becker spent most of his time at Reggie's Diner, owned by ex-model Reggie Kostas (Terry Farrell, who also had a pre-existing relationship with Paramount, having starred on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine prior to this series). Other characters included blind newspaper seller Jake Malinak (Alex Désert) and Bob (Saverio Guerra), an annoying old schoolfriend of Reggie's who referred to himself in the third person.

After Season 4, Reggie was suddenly written out of the show after Farrell was fired, and new character Chris Connor (Nancy Travis) took over for the final two seasons. Bob left in Season 6 and was replaced by Hector Lopez (Jorge Garcia).

The show seemed determined to outdo Seinfeld's level of human depravity.

It will come as no surprise, even to anyone who's never seen the show, that Becker Pets The Dog frequently.

This show provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: In "Nightmare on Becker Street," John regrets helping an elderly neighbor open her stuck door when she becomes his infatuated stalker.
  • Absurd Phobia: In "Small Wonder," Becker brings up his irrational belief that dwarfs are bad luck.
  • Accentuate the Negative: Becker is a misanthropic, mistrustful, deadpan-snarking pessimist.
  • Actor Allusion: Several Cheers alumni turned up on this show. When they do, the roles Ted Danson and the actor had on that series are often reversed.
    • In the episode "V-Day," George Wendt stars as a bartender at a train station bar patronized by Becker.
    • Kelsey Grammer appears as Rick Cooper, an old friend of Becker's in the episode "But I've Got Friends I Haven't Used Yet." He's a former alcoholic who is apologizing to those he wronged in the past.
    • The episode "Psycho Therapy" features Rhea Perlman as Dr. Katherine Simmons, Becker's court ordered therapist. She is trying to help Becker with his anger problem, reversing a dynamic from Cheers when Sam would help Carla through her anger.
    • Frances Sternhagen, who played Cliff Clavin's mother Esther, turns up in the episode "Subway Story" as a mother who has gotten lost trying to get to the World Trade Center site by subway. Her son was killed on 9/11.
    • In the episode "The Ex Files," Becker's friends find out he sang "Goodnight Sweetheart" in a barbershop quartet in college. He sang the same song barbershop style in Three Men and a Baby.
  • The Alleged Car: Becker's car is a rolling wreck that is decades old.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: In the episode "He Said, She Said," Becker is reunited with Nicky, a friend from high school who has since come out as transgender and had a sex-change. John doesn't handle it at all well (in part because he's attracted to her) and his reactions are ignorant to say the least, at one point asking if she has any idea how confusing this is for him. Nicky fires back, "Imagine what it was like for an eighth-grader," shutting him up.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: A professional variant occurs with John and Margaret. While they typically have a sarcastic relationship, John admits on more than one occasion that he would be nothing without Margaret. Margaret in turn admits that she does love working for John despite his abrasive personality.
  • Barbershop Quartets Are Funny: Seen in-universe in the episode “The Ex-Files.” When his friends discover Becker used to sing in a barbershop quartet in college, they find it highly amusing and tease him mercilessly about it.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Becker and Chris have a strong love-hate relationship. This is highlighted in “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” the Season 6 premiere, which ends with an argument that reads like a Shout-Out to the iconic Slap-Slap-Kiss between Sam and Diane:
    Chris: Just to set the record straight, I don't love you.
    Becker: Well, I don't love you! I don't even know what made me think I could like you. You're so cute and sweet and nice and perky.
    Chris: Oh! Well, it's better than being a cranky old fart!
    Becker: I'm not cranky! There's just certain things that irritate me.
    Chris: Yeah, everything irritates you! You wouldn't know happiness if it bit you in the ass!
    Becker: Oh, yeah, why don't you bite me in the ass?
    Chris: Oh, why don't you bite yourself in the ass? Your head's right there, anyway!
    Becker: Just go away, would you?
    Chris: I'm going! Good night!
    Becker: Good night!
    Chris: No, no, good night!
    Becker: You wanna have dinner with me some time?
    Chris: I'd love to!
  • Blind Black Guy: Jake is an African-American who lost his sight in a car five years prior to the first episode.
  • The Brainless Beauty: Linda is a Cloud Cuckoolander who is ditzy and incompetent on the job, although she has moments of brilliance, however fleeting.
    Linda: You're mad about $20 you loaned her over four years ago? That's only $5 dollars a year, that's less than ten cents a week!
    Margaret: You worked that out in your head? You can't even handle daylight savings time!
    Linda: Think about it Margaret, where does that hour go?
  • Breakfast Club: With one exception, the characters are a band of misfits. Becker is an opinionated, perpetually angry Dr. Jerk who rants about everything. Reggie is a depressed Jaded Washout ex-model who is stuck running a dilapidated Greasy Spoon. Jake is a blind Stepford Snarker who owns a small, unsuccessful newsstand. Linda is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander of epic proportions. Bob is a Smug Snake who regularly goes through one Humiliation Conga after another and becomes the biggest loser of the group. Margaret is the only person who has a relatively stable and happy life, and even she has to take care of her uncaring Manchild husband.
  • Brick Joke: Early in the episode "Take These Pills and Shove 'Em," everyone asks Becker why he's carrying around an air horn. After the joke is abandoned for the rest of the episode, he uses it at the very end to blare into the phone after a telemarketer calls.
  • Buffy Speak: The line "Quit hovering over me like... help me out, what hovers?" qualifies as an example of jumbled misspeak in search of the right word. Surprisingly, it's said by Becker himself in the episode "A Pain in the Aspirin."
  • Call-Back:
    • In "What Indifference a Day Makes", Becker talks about the events of the episode "Drive, They Said", attempting to use his calling of an ambulance for a motorist who had an heart attack as an example of him saving lives. The student listening to his story however, points out that Becker may have caused his heart attack in the first place by arguing with him.
    • In "Trials and Defibrilations", Becker's meeting with Anita from "Panic on the 86th" is referenced.
    • Whenever Detective Borkow shows up, he always mentions that Becker was shot at a gay bar during the events of "Stumble In The Bronx". Becker was actually shot while walking past a gay bar and was brought inside to wait for the ambulance, but Borkow always ignores this distinction and acts as if Becker is gay himself.
  • The Cameo: In the episode "Drive, They Said," Becker encounters Ray Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond), Doug Heffernan (The King of Queens), and Hilton Lucas (Cosby) sitting silently in his waiting room. All three starred in CBS sitcoms of the time. (The scene was cut from syndicated and DVD episodes of the show.)
  • Catchphrase: Linda invariably says "Okay, here's the thing" right before she explains a screw-up she has committed.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In the season 5 episode "The Grand Gesture," Becker berates himself for being pretentious by trying to seduce Chris using cheese and wine. He then compares himself to Frasier, who originally was from Cheers and had Ted Danson as a guest star for one episode.
  • Characterization Marches On: Bob is universally despised by the rest of the characters in the first two seasons. By Season 4, he graduates to being The Friend Nobody Likes and is at least tolerated by the gang at the diner. By Season 5, his personality is pretty much stripped of the more revolting qualities that defined his character in earlier seasons; by now, he is able to maintain a more reasonable friendship with Jake and Chris.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In a significantly delayed example of this trope, Bob vanishes from the show after Season 5. After a passing remark is made in the Season 6 premiere that he had gone “on vacation,” the character is never seen or mentioned again. Somewhat justified in that Bob was never particularly liked in-universe, but it's still a bit jarring given that he was totally forgotten about after spending every day at the diner for several seasons.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Linda, as well as a lot of Becker's more irritating patients, seem to be in a clueless world of their own. Mrs. Recinos particularly stands out; in the episode "Cooked," she has a hard time identifying the "clear fluids" Becker says she needs to drink (asking if orange juice, milk, and vodka qualify). Later, she returns to the office for another appointment after Becker advises her to get a second opinion, not realizing that he meant from another doctor.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: While the entire gang are kind in their own way, their insensitivity and callousness can be both funny and cruel. Examples are seen in several episodes:
    • In "Atlas Shirked," Becker indirectly kills his neighbor's cat with a book, then asks the woman to give the book back during the funeral.
    • In "The Film Critic," Reggie lies to Jake's girlfriend about him not being blind.
    • In "Smoke 'Em if You Got 'Em," Linda manipulates a patient into believing that she has a mental problem just to cover up her own mistakes.
    • Jake tricks a woman into not moving in with him.
    • Bob is at times seen stalking women.
  • Cool Loser: Reggie is gorgeous, funny, and runs her own business, but is portrayed as a total failure who can't get her life together or make a relationship work.
  • Crapsack World: The primary settings for the show are an underfunded medical office and a Greasy Spoon (emphasis on greasy) diner, both located in a bad section of The Bronx. To top it off, most of the characters are either miserable, disreputable, or both.
  • Crossing the Burnt Bridge: In "Another Tricky Day," Mr. Garland, who is one of Becker's patients, realizes he'll be forced to atone for his bad behavior towards his wife, his boss, and the IRS after finding out that the lab made a mistake on a test and he's not dying after all. Not only has he spent a lot of his money (on champagne, limos, and lap-dances) in the last two weeks, but he quit his job, set fire to his boss's BMW, cursed out his wife, and photocopied his butt and sent the picture to the IRS. The scene where Becker calls him back after getting the test redone is played as if he actually was dying and was desperate for a cure.
    Mr. Garland: I'm gonna live? Oh no! Why me?
    Becker: Look on the bright side. Every day you pick up a paper and discover how scientists are discovering something new that can kill you.
    Mr. Garland: That could take years!
  • Dated History: The episode "Cyrano De-Beckerac" mentions that there are nine planets. This was prior to 2006 when Pluto lost planet status.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Every one of the main characters (except Linda) contributes heavily to the show's overall World of Snark, with Becker being the prime example.
    Becker: The world is full of idiots, and someone needs to point it out to them or they will never know.
  • Denser and Wackier: Season 4 contains more outlandish and bizarre plots than the other seasons. Highlights include Becker getting high on Valium, Margaret carrying a dog around in her shirt, Jake getting into increasingly painful and ridiculous accidents like flying off an elephant, and Linda having to explain sex to a room full of kids and getting lusted after by them.
  • The Ditz: Linda is an extreme example. She is staggeringly incompetent at work and prone to flaky, less than intelligent behavior as well as bouts of Comically Missing the Point. She doubles as a Cloud Cuckoolander very much in a world of her own.
  • Dress Code: Linda flouts what would be considered appropriate doctor's office-wear standards in "The Ex-Files" when she shows up to work wearing a see-through blouse and no bra. Needless to say, Margaret does not approve and has her colleague put on a coat to cover herself.
  • Dr. Jerk: Becker is a doctor who is also a misanthropic, mistrustful, deadpan-snarking pessimist. His "friends" mostly tolerate him rather than actually like him.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Becker drives fast and recklessly, which is surprising considering that his ancient car is about one crash away from falling apart.
    Jake: [following the screech of tires and sound of a collision from outside] What just happened?
    Reggie: Oh no! Becker got into another accident!
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first season definitely stands out from the rest of the series of a number of levels. The mood of the show is much more caustic and gritty than later seasons, with Becker being downright rude and unprofessional as opposed to the cynical Deadpan Snarker he became. Linda's ditziness was even more pronounced, bordering on childlike naivete. Reggie was much more secretive about her private life, and hadn't yet established the friendships with the rest of the cast that she would later cultivate. This is justified in many was hinted at that Becker and Reggie were both new to the area, so the pervading anger of the early episodes makes sense in the context that both of them are both dealing with new life situations.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first episode presents most all of Becker's salient traits. It shows his love of complaining, his refusal to compromise, his distrust for people, his Vitriolic Best Buds relationship with Jake, his Belligerent Sexual Tension with Reggie, and his insulting attitudes towards patients who won't help themselves. It also shows him giving up his new car to pay for experimental treatment for an HIV-positive seven year old.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Maybe more “annoying” than “bad”, but for whatever his other faults, Bob is shown to love his mother, and she seems to love him back.
  • The Exit Is That Way: Subverted in one case when Jake seems to be trying to walk out of the diner, determined to stand up to Amanda. When Reggie points out that he's walking into the mens' room, Jake says, "Yeah I know, I need time to think what I'm gonna say."
  • Expy: It doesn’t take a genius to see a boatload of similarities between Chris and Diane Chambers of Cheers. Both are blonde, perky, worked with the public, and have the polar opposite personality of Ted Danson’s character while engaging in a Will They or Won't They? plot with him.
  • Flanderization: In later seasons, Becker is either an unbelievable jerk or a kind but ridiculously put-upon chap, rarely a balance of both.
  • Food Slap: In "Someone's In the Kitchen with Reggie," Chris accuses Becker of dating her on the rebound after Reggie left. She throws four glasses of water and one glass of white wine in his face as he digs himself deeper and deeper trying to convince her that's not true.
  • Forgiveness: The episode "Blind Curve" shows Jake reunited with Chris, the former friend who was driving the car the night he lost his eyesight in a crash. Eventually Jake declares that he can't forgive him, but does take the weight off Chris's guilt by pointing out that he was just as drunk that night, didn't have to get into the car, and could easily have been in the opposite position. That is, he can't forgive Chris any more than he can forgive himself.
  • Forgot the Disability: At times, the characters treat Jake as if he weren't blind. For example, in the episode "Barter Sauce," he angrily calls out Becker for not telling him the antihistamines he prescribed may cause drowsiness. Becker retorts, "It was printed in giant letters on the label, you mor — oh."
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • After Becker's friends encourage him to change his routine by eating at a different restaurant in “One Wong Move,” chaos ensues resulting in Margaret getting food poisoning, Becker having to stay late at the office and missing a hockey game, and Reggie and Jake being scammed at said hockey game when they can't access Becker's tickets. The next day, Becker delights in pointing this out to the others, who then urge him back to his routine.
    • In "Blind Curve" we learn that Jake lost his vision as a result of a horrible car accident caused by a drunk driver. He admits that not a day goes by that he doesn't consider how much different his life would've turned out had he not gotten in that car.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Becker is the hot tempered and perfectionist Choleric who always finds something to rant about, Margaret is the calm and professional Lekuine who remains level headed in spite of all the overwhelming events going on in the office, Linda and Bob are the talkative and energetic Sanguines who stand out as the most unusual loopy members of the cast, Reggie is the quiet and almost bitter Melancholic who is deeply dissatisfied about running an old and broke diner though she is usually far too resigned to do anything about it, and Jake is the chill and laid-back Phlegmatic who despite being blind and running an unsuccessful newsstand, appears to be satisfied with his lot in life.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Bob is disliked by every character on the show. Despite this, Reggie lets him hang around her diner all day and he gets invited to every social function within the group.
  • Friend to All Children: When kids come into the doctor's office, Linda shows that she's very good with them (Margaret is brusque and businesslike and Becker is Becker). It's one of the reasons she's able to keep her job.
  • "Friends" Rent Control:
    • Averted. Despite being a private practice doctor, Becker still lives in a modest apartment. He also mentions that his car is "held together with duct tape" and his television is decades old. However, it's mentioned several times that Becker's practice is in a poor neighborhood and his patients are frequently short of cash and unable to fully pay. It's also implied in The Pilot that he's quite charitable to his poorer patients.
    • Linda, Dr. Becker's brain-dead bimbo nurse, lives in a spacious and lavishly furnished apartment overlooking Central Park. However, this is because her parents, who are extremely rich, paid for it.
  • Gasp!: When Becker is sued for malpractice by a patient who suffers a heart attack while exercising under his advice, the plaintiff's lawyer asks him to identify Becker. When Vinny points at Becker, the jury gasps, to his astonishment.
    Becker: Oh, come on! Who didn't know that already?
  • Gay Bar Reveal: In "The Princess Cruise," Becker has Linda book his cruise vacation. When he returns, his friends ask if he enjoyed himself — and from Becker's reaction, it's obvious there was something about the trip that bothered him greatly. Turns out Linda unwittingly booked her boss on a gay cruise, and Becker didn't realize this until the ship left port. No, he is not happy about it.
  • Genre Blindness: Happens with Reggie in "Becker the Elder." She is completely perplexed as to why Becker was being so rude to his father, who showed up out of the blue at the diner after clearly not having seen Becker for some time. Reggie just chalked it up to John being his cranky self, and encourages him to be more pleasant with his father. It didn't occur to her (until she was told) that there might be more to the story, and that his father wasn't always the jolly guy he presented himself as at the diner.
  • The Ghost: Margaret's husband Lewis is never onscreen — even when he's in the same apartment as everyone else.
  • Greasy Spoon: Reggie's Diner is a grubby, cheap eatery, and Reggie herself is a terrible cook.
    Reggie: I don't really cook so much as I defrost and reheat.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: In the episode "Beckerethics," a brother of one of Becker's patients uses his brother's insurance to get cancer treatment. Becker spends the episode debating whether to give him the treatment (resulting in insurance fraud and possibly risking his license) or deny him the treatment (condemning a sick man to die because he is uninsured). Ultimately, Becker decides against committing fraud because he's the only practice in a poor neighborhood, so more people would die if he got caught.
  • Hates Being Touched: After Becker rehires Linda in "Linda Quits," Linda tells Becker she feels the urge to hug him. He responds that he feels an urge to kill her and live in her Central Park overlooking apartment.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Airhead Linda is extremely well-loved by the patients (especially kids), speaks Mandarin and Portuguese, and (despite her constant mooching) is the child of very wealthy parents who bought her a penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park. When John realistically tells her she doesn't even need to work for him, she tells him that she prefers the job over her lavish apartment.
    • In "Shovel off to Buffalo," it's revealed that Bob is an excellent cook. He and Jake run the diner in Reggie's absence.
    • Margaret becomes depressed after hearing about the success of an old friend in "Margaret Sings the Blues." It turns out that Margaret once had ambitions to be a singer, which she gave up years ago to become a nurse; she demonstrates her vocal talents in a jazz club the group goes to.
  • Hollywood Law: It's most unlikely that the malpractice suit against Becker at the end of Season 3 would have ever seen the inside of a courtroom. First off, Vinny's poor physical shape and sedentary lifestyle made him a heart attack waiting to happen regardless of whether he got on the treadmill or not. In addition, Becker didn't force Vinny to start exercising — he did so of his own free will, and it's standard procedure at most gyms to sign a waiver that absolves anybody else from responsibility should a health issue occur. To add insult to injury, the plaintiff's attorney framed his case against Becker as a character assassination, which had no bearing on the suit and would have been quashed by any reasonable judge. On top of everything else, the defense attorney sleeping with one of the character witnesses is totally unethical, and it's hardly plausible that Becker would've held onto her counsel after that. Granted, the denouement of the arc ended in a Moment of Awesome in which Becker lampshaded most of these things, but the premise of the story is extremely unrealistic.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: In "Chris-Mess," Margaret invites Linda to go out Christmas caroling with her church group. Much to the group's dismay, it turns out that Linda is a horribly off-key and very exuberant singer.
  • Homemade Sweater from Hell: Margaret wears a "swest" that her husband Lewis made in the episode "Sue You," and it's hilariously bad. Linda feigns a compliment on it, and ends up getting her own "swest" from Lewis.
  • Hustling the Mark: In the episode "Another Tricky Day," Jake convinces Bob to play Scrabble for money. It turns out Jake is a former National Championship winner, but he doesn't tell Bob beforehand — and the latter gets trounced soundly.
  • Hypochondria: Becker sees a valetudinarian patient who has been going to different doctors for prescription after prescription. Ironically, all the medication he takes are actually giving him medical problems, which other doctors would try to solve by giving him more medication. Becker eventually straightens it all out.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Becker routinely criticizes the diner for being dirty, disgusting, and unhealthy right before buying a pack of cigarettes — to the point where this becomes a Running Gag. Linda is also guilty of this, often complaining about people getting paid for doing nothing when she rarely does anything useful in Becker's office.
  • Idiot Houdini: Jake, by his own admission, is "blind, poor, and sells Chiclets for a living," but inexplicably has a beautiful apartment in New York City and is crawling with beautiful female suitors.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: When Becker learns that Julie is obsessed with him in the episode "Barter Sauce," he asks "Why do lonely pathetic women always glom onto me?" Cue Reggie, who enters behind him and says "Becker, I need you!" (Though it's immediately clear she has a cold and needs him as a doctor.)
  • Informed Flaw: Becker is considered to be a miserable human being by everyone who knows him, but he's really just a cynical Deadpan Snarker most of the time. He also treats his patients with the utmost professionalism (albeit laced with subtly snarky disdain), and bestows Ultimate Job Security on Linda despite her being totally incompetent.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: After Bob says that he was looking up something online, Becker replies, "Yeah, it must have been shocking to discover the internet wasn't just porn." Bob reacts by saying, "One crisis at a time."
  • It's the Principle of the Thing: Becker's usual attitude towards most every annoyance is principle-based, with Margaret futilely telling him to let whatever it is go. Sometimes it seems to work — see his confrontation with the journalist who mistook him for a racist in "PC World" — but more often it gets him in further trouble, such as when he got banned from Thriftymart.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: It's all but stated outright that Becker was once a lot more idealistic before adopting his cynical Humans Are Morons viewpoint.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • As much of a jerk as Becker is to Linda and (at times) Margaret, he truly seems to care for them, as well as most of his patients. That is, the ones that aren't stupid.
    • He even has a surprising amount of patience with some of his stupid patients, such as Mrs. Recinos, who asks — after being told to only drink clear liquids until she gets better — whether orange juice and milk would be okay. And then asks if vodka would be good for her, also being a clear fluid.
    • One episode states that Becker's office is in such a bad location because he wants to help people that otherwise wouldn't have access to medical help.
    • Becker also frequently accepts gifts such as baked goods and sports tickets instead of money as many of his patients are broke.
    • At times, Becker uses his own pocket money to finance treatments for patients who are otherwise unable to afford it, such as the HIV-positive child from the pilot episode. It's the major reason why he keeps his beaten down car.
    • "Subway Story" has his patience tested when he guides an old lady to where she wants to go, before he starts to realize that she was going to Ground Zero. When she explains the reason why she can't go up and look at the site, the realization hits Becker hard. He stays with her as she talks about her son who died on September 11th.
  • Last-Name Basis: Everyone but Margaret, Chris, and sometimes Jake call him Becker instead of John. Linda subverts this slightly by always including his title, calling him Dr. Becker pretty much all the time.
  • Local Hangout: Reggie's Diner is one of the two recurring venues in the show. Becker, Jake, Bob, and Reggie (and later Chris and Hector) regularly spend time there, and both Linda and Margaret make periodic appearances there.
  • Long Bus Trip: At the start of Season 5, Reggie leaves a note saying she's abandoning the diner and heading to Europe. Later, at the start of Season 6, Bob was said to be on vacation. Apparently he never came back, as that was the last we ever hear of him.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In "The Pain in the Neck," one of Becker's patients stops taking his medicine after turning to Christian Science. Much to John's consternation, the patient's bloodwork showed that his health did improve despite not taking the medicine. While Becker points out that it could've been an aberration, the patient insisted that it was the power of prayer. Since the episode ends without resolving the issue and we never hear about the patient again, things are left ambiguous.
  • Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: In the episode "Sight Unseen," Jake goes on a date with Nina, a woman who turns out to be blind as well (neither of them realizing until they'd both been at the restaurant for a while). Jake is ready to end the relationship after that first date, bringing up the fairly legitimate point that any relationship they had would be "a never-ending game of Marco Polo". Reggie talks him out of it, but in the end Nina dumps him after finding out that he's black.
  • Mistaken for Racist: When a journalist in the diner overhears Becker's rantings about rap music and an Asian taxi driver in the episode "PC World," he smears him as a racist in the paper (leaving out the context that the music was being broadcast into the street and the driver had just crashed into Becker's car), losing Becker at least one patient. Becker later confronts him during a radio interview and seemingly manages to clear himself by exposing the journalists' own prejudices.
  • Mood-Swinger: The episode "Barter Sauce" features Julie, a woman who keeps calling Becker's office by mistake and getting the answering machine because no one wants to tell her she's got the wrong number. Her messages for Phil keep shifting back and forth between angry at him for not answering (to the point of death threats) to loving and apologetic. When Becker finally breaks the news to her, it's implied Phil gave Julie the wrong number on purpose, probably because she's mentally unstable. She then starts repeatedly calling Becker on purpose, exhibiting the same mood swings.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • A number of episodes take an unexpected serious turn with few if any laughs in the final scenes. A notable example is "Subway Story", which ends with the elderly woman who has been pestering Becker for directions all episode turning out to have lost her son on 9/11, and had been traveling to Ground Zero that day but can't bring herself to walk up the steps.
    • Another occurs in "Atlas Shirked," when John attends a funeral in his building (hoping to investigate whether the apartment will be available soon), for what turns out to be the resident's beloved pet cat. The mood turns solemn briefly when John realizes the cat had come in his window and kept him company a number of times, but turns darkly hilarious again when the woman reveals what killed the cat. He was lying by the door and ended up being hit by a heavy package coming through the mail slot — which turns out to be an atlas John had ordered, hadn't received, and spent most of the episode chasing down, believing he'd been ripped off. The episode ends with John asking Mrs. Bernstein if she still has it.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Becker orders coffee and usually only coffee when at Reggie's diner and flies off the handle on more than one occasion when the office is out of coffee.
  • Nay-Theist: While Becker identifies as an atheist, it seems he does believe in a supreme being — but he is angry that it allows so many terrible things to go on in the world.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Reggie's last words with her father were said during an argument, which she always regretted.
  • Never Heard That One Before: The judge in Becker's malpractice suit ("Trials and Defibrillations") loses any patience she still had with him when he starts quoting ...And Justice for All. "You have no idea how much I hate that damn movie!" It's also implied in her expression in the following episode ("Psycho Therapy") when Becker belatedly notices that her last name is Reinhold.
  • Newhart Phone Call: One occasionally hears only Margaret or Linda's side of a phone conversation in Becker's office. There's a running gag in "The Buddy System" where Linda talks to her parents about their failing marriage in two scenes and Margaret getting involved in a third. Each time, one of them brings up something Linda's father had done and then adding "Okay, I did not know you didn't know about that." The final scene reverses when Linda's father calls the office. Becker answers the phone and brings up the affair his wife was having with a tennis instructor, likewise unaware that Linda's father didn't know about that.
  • Nipple and Dimed: In "The Ex-Files," Linda shows up to work wearing a see-through blouse and no bra, an extreme case of Dress Code violation for a doctor's office. Or at least, that's what we're led to believe, as whenever Linda is shown onscreen dressed this way, a large black censor bar covers her chest. Needless to say, Margaret does not approve and has her colleague put on a coat to cover herself.
  • No Full Name Given: Linda and Bob's last names are never revealed.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • We never hear Bob's tale when the gang decides to tell stories that are a little more personal after having become bored with each others' regular ones, other than that it apparently traumatized him to the point that he can no longer get undressed unless he's in complete darkness and that it horrifies Reggie and Jake to the point that they decide to pretend they'd never heard it. Occurs in the episode "What Indifference a Day Makes."
    • In the episode "Mis Steaks," it is revealed that Becker and Margaret's husband Lewis can't stand to be in the same room as each other because of something involving veal piccata.
    • We never know exactly what the backstory is behind Becker and Linda's father, only that what Linda's father did ensured Becker will employ Linda permanently.
  • Not Me This Time: In "Subway Story", Linda and Margaret spend the episode trying to recover a file that Linda had seemingly deleted by accident. In the end, they find out the file actually went missing at a time when Linda wasn't even in the office, forcing Margaret to apologize.
  • Obfuscating Disability: In "The Film Critic," Reggie tells Jake's literal blind date that he only pretends to be blind to get girls into bed. She does so out of revenge for him bailing on giving her the last spot left for a popular art class (as he was blind he could cut in line) and instead letting his date have it.
  • One-Hour Work Week: Jake's job running the newsstand consists of little more than relaxing in the diner drinking coffee all day.
  • One-Word Title: Surname of Protagonist Title.
  • Only Sane Man: Margaret. She's the one keeping the office running due to Becker's abrasiveness and Linda's laziness. She also seems to be the only one on the show to have a reasonably happy and well adjusted life.
  • On the Rebound: Becker tries to start a relationship with Chris, failing after she finds out that Reggie just left town and accuses him of dating her on the rebound. He denies it, though, as he was planning to break up with Reggie before he found out.
  • Persecuted Intellectuals: Becker is called to jury duty in "One Angry Man" but keeps getting rejected. He thinks that lawyers don't want to impanel him because they believe as a doctor he is too intelligent. At one point he almost gets accepted on a jury by talking only about daytime TV shows until he mentions he was reading a book. Meanwhile his ditzy assistant Linda is quickly put on a jury and made forewoman.
  • Persona Non Grata: Offscreen, Becker was banned from Thriftymart after getting into an argument with a man in a wheelchair who cut in front of him. Somehow, this resulted in Becker pushing the man out the door and down a hill. The incident made the local news, and Bob is shocked when he finds out that it was Becker. Referenced in "For Whom the Toll Calls."
  • Pet the Dog: Bob, of all people, gets one of these in "Piece Talks." When his friend Lenny makes an unwelcome sexual advance toward Reggie, Bob steps in and firmly tells Lenny that he is way out of line. Bob then apologizes to Reggie on behalf of Lenny, and Reggie shows genuine appreciation. It's the only genuine moment of friendship between the two in the entire series, but it does establish that they have an Odd Friendship underneath the many layers of sarcasm and vitriol.
  • Pineapple Ruins Pizza: In one episode, Becker was treating a homeless man who was rewriting the bible to add in some extra commandments he thought god had missed. One of then was "Thou shall not put pineapple on pizza".
  • Playing Cyrano: In "Cyrano de Beckerac," Becker discovers that one of his patients is dating Reggie and starts giving him romantic advice, intending to disprove Reggie's claim that he knows nothing about women. The advice works at first, but just when Becker is about to reveal his involvement, Reggie tell him that she broke up with him after getting annoyed with his phony, outdated romantic gestures. She later tells Jake that she was lying and has no intention of giving Becker that satisfaction. However, he overhears.
  • Properly Paranoid: In "For Whom the Toll Calls," Becker develops a conspiracy theory that the toll calls to "Chico, California" on his bill are the phone company's excuse to saddle him with fake charges. In universe at least, he's right, as the charge in question was added by a phone company employee with a grudge against Becker (from the Thriftymart incident). His co-worker specifically asks him "Did you 'Chico' him?" after Becker walks out.
  • Putting the "Medic" in Comedic: The show is a sitcom that features a doctor in the title role. Every episode has humorous scenes in Becker's office, where Hilarity Ensues involving his staff as well as one or more of his patients.
  • Really Gets Around:
    • Linda frequently talks about her active love life with Margaret. She has an on-again, off-again boyfriend named Gil as well as as many short-term sweethearts. Also, in the episode "Mr. and Ms. Conception," Linda gives a childless couple advice on how to spice up their love life — in voluminous detail.
    • After he finds out that his grandmother died in the nursing home after having sex, Jake discovers she was extremely... ahem... popular with the other nursing home residents — both male and female — in the episode "A Little Ho-Mance."
    • In "Linda Quits," John and Margaret hire a woman named Ann as a replacement. It turns out she's a sex addict and they have to fire her, not because of the addiction itself, but because John walks in on her "helping" an elderly patient.
  • Rule of Funny: No matter how big his heart is, it is unlikely that a brilliant doctor such as John would choose to run a tiny failing practice in the Bronx rather than making millions doing research. It would have probably also made a lot more sense for Reggie to have sold the diner years ago instead of bleeding red all those years.
  • Scrabble Babble:
    • Subverted in "Another Tricky Day" when Jake and Bob play Scrabble and the former (a one-time National Championship winner) puts down the word 'Xebec'.
      Bob: I still say that's not a word.
      Jake: Bob, I told you, it's an antiquated, tri-masted Mediterranean sailing vessel.
      Bob: None of those are words!
    • Earlier in the same episode, Bob complains about his useless letters - "J! A! C! K! A! S! S!" - and has them exchanged. Reggie tells him, "You had a word! 'Jackass'!" Bob replies, "Hey, I'm doing the best I can, moron!"
  • Secretly Wealthy: Played with. When John goes to offer Linda her job back in "Linda Quits," he, and likely the audience, are floored to discover that Linda lives in a big penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park, (with an original Monet painting) bought for her by her wealthy parents.
  • Ship Tease: Becker and Reggie have a clear "Will they/won't they" relationship. It's set up in the Pilot episode, when Reggie puts on a hot dress and pretends that she has a date in order to get Becker's attention, and Becker seems to be enjoy the sight of it even if he doesn't say anything. Reggie's also frustrated when Becker doesn't seem to respond. Throughout the show, they bicker Like an Old Married Couple and she even pretends to be his wife in "Shovel Off To Buffalo"!
  • Side Effects Include...: In "Papa Does Preach," Becker's multiple-personality patient Jim/Jerry/Stephanie Reynolds refuses to take the drugs prescribed. It turns out that the "nice" personality is deathly afraid of the drug's side effects.
    Becker: It also says it causes irregular periods. Are you afraid of that too?
    Jim: Now I am!
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Referenced in "Imm-Oral Fixations" when Becker tries to quit smoking by having sex every time he gets the urge.
    Becker: I just remembered another cigarette I miss.
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: The episode "Sight Unseen" has Margaret realizing that Enid Connolly, a patient she visits at home who has always been strangely cold and crotchety to her, gets along well with both Linda and Becker (and has done so for years, in the latter case). Rather than trying and failing to make Enid like her by changing her behavior, Margaret straight-up asks for an explanation. She doesn't get one.
    Enid: Not me.
  • Spoiling Shout-Out: In "The Film Critic," Becker tries to see a film called Lethal Vision but everyone seems to want to talk about the twist ending and spoil it for him. His angry rant on the subject contains a spoiler itself.
    Becker: You know, when Hitchcock made Psycho, they had signs in the lobby warning people not to talk about the movie and you know what? They didn't. That way nobody knew that Tony Perkins dressed up as his mother and killed all those people.
  • Stepford Snarker: In "Blind Curve", it's revealed that while he does make jokes about his blindness, Jake feels a great deal of bitterness towards the world after becoming blind.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • Chris is clearly intended as a replacement for Reggie, serving as Becker's will-they won't-they possible love interest.
    • Hector fills Bob's role as The Friend Nobody Likes who comes up with dicey get-rich-quick schemes.
  • Sustained Misunderstanding: In a conversation from the episode "Piece Talks," Linda misinterprets what Becker means when he uses the phrase "having sex over 80."
    Margaret: Oh, John, the Bennetts are waiting for you in your office.
    Becker: Oh, right, my little talk about sex over 80.
    Linda: That could be very dangerous. You could lose control of the car.
    Becker: 80 years old, Linda.
    Linda: Ew, how'd you like to pull up next to that car?
    Becker: No, Linda, I — Yeah, that would be bad.
  • Take a Third Option: When Reggie gets two tickets to a hockey game in "Choose Me," she ultimately ends up letting John and Jake decide who should get the extra ticket instead of picking one over the other. In that same vein when confronted with this new scenario, John and Jake take their own third option by giving the extra ticket to Bob.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: In “Thank You For Not Smoking,” Becker finally kicks his smoking habit after Chris bans cigarettes from her diner. However, it seems awfully ridiculous that the diner is the only place in the world where he can smoke a cigarette. The situation also creates some Fridge Logic...Becker says that he can’t smoke at home, which would mean that he never smokes in the evenings or on weekends despite being hopelessly addicted to nicotine. The show was obviously looking for a believable way to get Becker to quit smoking for good, but banning smoking from the diner hardly necessitated him to quit cold turkey.
  • Third-Person Person: When referring to himself, Bob always talks in third person.
  • Toilet Humor: In "One Angry Man," Jake receives a seeing eye dog named Rocky. However, he has to give the pooch up because it has a significant farting issue. The problem is so bad that Rocky manages to completely clear Reggie's diner the one day she has a restaurant full of customers — and Jake had to sleep on his apartment's fire escape and leave Rocky on the bed.
  • Too Good To Be True: In "Lucky Day," the normally unlucky Becker experiences a surprising streak of good fortune, such as finding an ideal parking space, getting an unexpected tax refund, experiencing an unusually fast trip to the post office, and picks a winning horse for Jake. He's convinced this is something that will turn on him — which finally happens at the end of the episode in grand fashion. Becker gets soaked when a car splashes him while going through a puddle. He also gets robbed, losing his gold pen, IRS refund check, and share of horse race winnings.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Megan, Becker's college girlfriend, was a friendly albeit snarky woman who truly loved him in "The Wrong Man," her first appearance. When she returns in "Pretty Poison," Megan has morphed into a lying, manipulative, gold-digging sociopath.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Linda stays in Becker's employ no matter how incompetent she is. It is revealed that John owes her father a favor and has no choice but to keep her employed. In one of the last episodes, Linda makes a half-decent argument on her own behalf, pointing out that she draws pictures with the little kids when they're scared, talks with the older patients when they're lonely, and attracts a lot of young male patients to Becker's practice.
  • Unknown Rival: In "Picture Perfect", an article Becker wrote for a medical journal is published with an incorrect photo of an ugly overweight man, embarrassing Becker to his friends and peers. When Becker goes to the magazine to get it corrected, he meets the man responsible (played by Wayne Knight), who reveals that he has a grudge against Becker for unwittingly throwing off his concentration during his entrance exam to medical school.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Linda has an endless supply of midriff baring, or body accentuating clothing, as she serves as Ms. Fanservice for the show. Justified as her parents are rich and likely provide her money (in addition to having bought her a penthouse apartment) for her needs.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Much of the dialogue between Becker and his friends is snarky banter.
  • Wham Line: "Subway Story," the second to last episode of the series, has Becker guiding an old woman named Naomi through the subway system to her destination on Chambers Street, in his typical curmudgeonly fashion. When they arrive, he sees her sit down instead of heading upstairs and becomes exasperated. Naomi then mentions that her son would have been forty that day.
    Naomi: It was funny. He got to work early that morning, and called me just to chat. About dinner, that weekend, the trip he was planning... the weather. It was such a beautiful September day.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Becker's father is never seen or mentioned again after his appearance in the Season 1 episode "Becker the Elder." It's fair to assume he didn't have long to live after that episode (explaining his desire to finally make amends with his son), but the situation is never addressed on-screen.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Becker and Reggie go back and forth on whether to act on their mutual attraction. When they finally do, Reggie is so consumed with regret and humiliation that she leaves the city (conveniently, the actress was fired from the show).
  • World of Snark: Every one of the main cast members on the show is a Deadpan Snarker or a Ditz, and they are frequently seen engaging in witty, caustic banter.