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Series / Bella and the Bulldogs

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One of the boys.note 

"I'm on a dream like, team like, living like one of the boys"
Line from the show's theme song

Bella and the Bulldogs is a live action Nickelodeon sitcom created by Jonathan Bulter and Gabriel Garza. It premiered on January 17, 2015.

Bella Dawson, the captain of the Silverado West Bulldogs cheer squad, is invited to be the quarterback of the football team after the coach sees her throw a perfect spiral pass during practice.

The show's second season began on September 30, 2015, and ended on June 25, 2016. The day after the second season finale, series star Brec Bassinger announced on Twitter that the show would not be renewed for a third season, and that it had come to a close.

Bella and the Bulldogs contains the following tropes:

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  • Academic Athlete: Newt's father, a three-sport athlete at Yale University, who won All-American honors in each one. Newt himself also qualifies for this trope, even though he's not much of an athlete himself. Well, at least until the ending of the episode that bears his name.
  • Amicable Exes: Sawyer and Pepper agree to be these after breaking up in season 2's "Two Many Dates".
  • Artistic License – Sports: Not so much in the sport itself, but the organization of the games.
    • One of the lines in the theme song is, "I'm gonna play like Friday night/Kickin' like one of the boys". In Texas, as well as most other states, middle school football is played on Thursdays, or earlier in the week, as not to have scheduling clashes with high school games, although, thanks to TV, many high school football games have begun being played on Thursdays in recent years.
    • The episode "Backseat Quarterback" mentions that the playoffs are coming up. In Texas, there are no middle school football playoffs, as the University Interscholastic League, the governing body of middle and high school sports in Texas - along with many other competitions of the academic and musical type - restricts middle school football teams to only nine games per season, though they recommend eight. Playing a scrimmage counts towards the limit.
    • Also, during games seen on the show, both teams' benches are right next to one another on the sideline, separated only by the Bulldog cheerleaders. These days, at all levels of American football, teams usually have a sideline to themselves during games. This may be an Acceptable Break from Reality since shooting all the important characters on one side of the field is easier than alternating sides.
      • For the second season, the outdoor set was expanded, with a second set of bleachers added, with space in-between them, so both teams can enter the field at the 50-yard line, and putting the visitors' bench in front of the set of bleachers on the viewer's right.
    • The first episode has Bella miss a cheerleading competition, causing Sophie to get injured because Bella wasn't there to catch her during a basket toss (which she'd expressed concerns about earlier). However, the stunt she actually performs is clearly not a basket toss. For example, Pepper runs up to catch her as she dives out of the stunt, resulting in her injury when Pepper fails to catch her properly. In an actual basket toss, Sophie would have been caught by the same bases who tossed her in the air.
    • Ace McFumbles's play-by-play commentary for each Bulldogs home game goes out over the stadium's public address system. While this does happen at a few high school stadiums in real life, it is discouraged, because it can be a distraction to the teams, as well as an annoyance to the fans. Therefore, PA announcements are limited to what happened on the previous play, what down it is, where the ball is sitting for the snap, penalties, etc.
    • A mostly-right-except-for-one-detail example in "Oh, Baby, It's the Playoffs": Bella arrives at the game in time to see Troy's final pass fall incomplete. However, a penalty flag for Pass Interference is called, and the referee says to put 5 seconds back on the clock. While it is true that a football game can't end on a defensive penalty, the last play is usually untimed.
  • Bad Future: In "Bulldog Blues", the Bulldogs need to win one of their last three games to make the playoffs. They lose the first of those three. Bella, trying to keep up the team's spirit, publicly guarantees they'll make the playoffs. Later that night, she has a nightmare that the team didn't make the playoffs, and it affected everyone's future. In the dream, she's at a 25-year school reunion in the West Silverado gym, where Troy is overweight, and has aged terribly, serving as an assistant coach to a motorized wheelchair-riding Coach Russell; Sawyer has become a rodeo clown, and lost his right leg, forcing him to rent prosthetic ones; Newt's father bet everything on the Bulldogs making the playoffs, and lost everything, forcing the family to become criminals. Newt is bald, and has a long beard. It turns out he broke out of prison to attend the reunion, only to be captured by an officer, because the shackles on his ankles wouldn't allow him to run.
  • Bad Liar: Pepper, who blinks rapidly after telling one.
    Mr. Silverstein: What happened to Sparky?
    Pepper: Heeeeeeeee—(looks at Sophie)—eeeeeeeee—(looks back at her dad)—eeeeeee died.
  • Big Game: The state championship game in "Biggest. Game. Ever."
  • Boyfriend in Canada: What Sophie tells Newt to get him off her back. Apparently, said "boyfriend" is in lumberjack camp.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: The end of "No Girls Allowed": They get enough signatures to reinstate Bella, but are told that it would take 30 days to enact...thus after the championship game, so Bella wasn't allowed to play. At the championship, everyone on the Bulldogs puts their helmets on the field, saying if Bella can't play, neither will they. Thus, they forfeit the game. The opposing coach celebrates(though he does get humiliated after sitting on the superglued bleachers and ripping his pants), while the players of the other team apologize and play a pickup game with the Bulldogs...and Bella.
  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: Bella had a normal set of braces in the sixth grade, as seen in flashbacks.
  • Break the Cutie: This trope becomes literal when you consider that it's a cute, blonde girl playing the most targeted position in a very physical sport.
  • Broken Glass Penalty: Scenario A happens in "A Good Bye Week". Troy, Sawyer, and Newt's yearly tradition during the bye week is to take melons, and Newt's father's golf clubs, and go "molfing" (golfing with melons) on the football field one night. The boys take turns yelling out their frustrations, then striking a melon with a golf club. Coach Russell catches them, but instead of scolding them, he asks to try it himself. He swings and misses a melon, the clubhead going over it, and the club slips out of his hand, travels over the other side of the field (they were doing this from the five-yard line that was directly in front of one of the sides of the school building) and breaks a window. Sawyer, Troy, and Coach Russell take off, but Newt picks up the clubs on the ground. He takes a step towards the building, decides Screw This, I'm Outta Here, and takes off with the rest of the clubs, since the building's alarm was going off, and a police car's siren was blaring in the distance.
  • Broken Pedestal: The subplot in "A Good Bye Week" features Sophie and Pepper going off to a cheerleading retreat. One of the other cheerleaders is a girl named Misty McIntosh, who's pretty well-known in cheerleading circles. Pepper sits next to Misty on the way to camp, and talks her ear off. On the bus ride home, Misty asks Sophie to sit next to her. Misty uses the opportunity to bash Pepper to Sophie's face, causing Sophie to realize that Misty isn't all she's cracked up to be.
  • Broken Treasure: Mrs. Silverstein points out to Pepper and Sophie that the carpet in the new baby's room is very expensive. Naturally, they and Newt spill paint on it...and then put a hole in it trying to clean it up. They eventually cover it up with a giant teddy bear Newt found, but Pepper's mom isn't fooled.
  • Butt-Monkey: Newt started out as this, but in recent episodes, his luck has changed somewhat. Sophie still won't return his affections, though (kinda understandable).
  • Call-Back: A ton of season 2 episodes have thus far referenced events from season 1.
  • The Cameo: Pro Football Hall of Famer and Dallas Cowboys legend Michael Irvin appears in Troy's dream in "Dancing in the Endzone", encouraging Troy to take ballet to maintain his balance on the football field.
  • Cassandra Truth: No one on the Bulldogs team believes Bella when she denies having leaked secret information about them.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Bella's "Shabooya!" and "Pepper, breathe!", which she didn't know actually worked until Pepper tried it on her in "That's MY Tri-Five!".
    • Newt's "Who said that?" after he says something defending Bella.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: In "Biggest. Game. Ever.", Wentworth accidentally end up with the Bulldogs' game plan after an accidental bag switch. Sure, they didn't steal it, but they still looked at it, and one of the players was dumb enough to tell the Bulldogs that they knew their plays, allowing the Bulldogs to come up with a different plan to overcome their deficit.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Bella has a brief one with Kyle.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In the second season, two of the main characters enter into relationships. Newt begins dating an Australian girl named Asha, but after "The Outlaw Bella Dawson", she is not seen, heard from, or mentioned again.
    • Same for Bella, who kisses Zach Barnes in the penultimate scene in "Tailgating", making them an Official Couple. In the two episodes that follow, which end up being the last two in the series, he is not seen or mentioned. You'd think he'd have at least been in the stands during the state championship game in "Biggest. Game. Ever.", cheering on his girlfriend.note 
  • Cowboy: Sawyer. Sort of the philosopher type.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: It's not that Pepper's parents "hate" Sawyer, it's that they think she's too young and that middle school boys don't care about girls' feelings. After Sawyer comes over and is a perfect gentleman (even complimenting Pepper's dad's "pizza brick" whose timer was the smoke alarm), they have a change of heart.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sophie.
  • Dead Pet Sketch: Variation: Pepper's pet (a turtle) isn't actually dead, but Sophie tells her abuela that it is and that she needs to stay at Pepper's to console her to get out of coming back home. Later, her abuela comes by...with another turtle. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Demoted to Extra: This has kind of happened to Coach Russell in season 2, as the focus has turned from mostly football to the kids' lives in and outside of school.
  • Disappeared Dad: Bella's father is deceased.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: "One of the Boys", sung by series star Brec Bassinger.
  • Down to the Last Play: Every single game seen in the series since Bella became quarterback has utilized this trope.
  • Downer Ending: Subverted at the end of "Oh Baby, It's The Playoffs": It looks like Bella's arrived too late as Troy's last pass falls incomplete with no time on the clock. But a pass interference penalty against the opponents gives the Bulldogs one last shot...and it involves Bella becoming a one-girl convoy escorting Troy to the end zone for the win.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Bella, but only because she just got her learner's permit...and she's driving an in-labor Mrs. Silverstein to the hospital.
  • Ending Theme: An instrumental version of "One of the Boys". However, you can only hear this version by watching episodes at, or on demand, since episodes aired on television utilize the practice of showing the closing credits on top of the final scene.
  • Everything is Big in Texas: The stands are packed for every Bulldogs home game. Sure, it might be to see the unique sight of a girl at quarterback, but this is football at the middle school level. Texas's favorite sport, for sure.
  • Expy: Pepper can be seen as a slightly more peppy version of Emma from Jessie.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Bella gives bone-crushing blocks to three Red Devils while escorting Troy to the endzone in the final play of the game in "Oh, Baby, It's the Playoffs".
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Pepper loves everything French.
    • Coach Russell is a Downton Abbey fan. He managed to turn Troy and Sawyer onto the show, as well.
  • Girly Bruiser:
    • Bella, through necessity of joining the football team.
    • Sophie is very vocal of her readiness to hit boys.
  • Gotta Pass the Class: In "Incomplete Pass", Sophie helps Bella study for her Spanish exam so can keep playing for the football team.
  • Happily Adopted: Pepper.
  • Heroic BSoD: What Troy goes through after finding out about the horribly mean column written about him in Silverado Weekly.
  • Hypocrite: In "Traitor Dater", Bella is asked to Silverado West's upcoming Homecoming Dance by a boy named Zach Barnes...who happens to be the captain of the Silverado East Cobras. Bella doesn't realize who Zach is at first, but when she does, she attempts to break off the date, citing the fact that they play for rival teams, and happened to be playing each other the same night as the dance. Zach tells Bella he already knew who she was when he asked her to the dance, and that the rivalry doesn't matter to him. Bella's secret is eventually revealed to her displeased teammates when the mum corsage Zach sends Bella is delivered to the Bulldogs' locker room after a practice. Skip ahead to the game, where Bella and Zach flirt with each other in front of the referee during the coin toss. On the first play from scrimmage, Zach, who's a defensive lineman, sacks Bella, and helps her up. The next play we see shows Bella ducking from a leaping Zach, and throwing a complete pass. She extends a hand to him, but he refuses it. Next, Zach hits Bella as she throws, and refuses to help her up. Bella scores the winning touchdown on the game's final play, and after the game, Zach tells Bella the rivalry did matter to him after all, and leaves her without a date to the dance. In essence, he Took a Level in Jerkass during the game.
    • However, he does a Heel–Face Turn during season 2, and becomes a major part of the storyline, eventually becoming Bella's boyfriend.

  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All of the episodes are named for football terminology (or at least incorporate it in the title).
  • Instant Birth: Just Add Labor!: Although she doesn't actually say her water broke, Mrs. Silverstein goes from totally fine to "I'm having this baby now" in about the span of a football game.
  • Jerkass: The Silverado Weekly columnist who penned an unnecessarily scathing piece about Troy's performances against Durango in the buildup to the Bulldogs' showdown with the Red Devils in "Oh, Baby, It's the Playoffs", in which he says Troy "choked" in his last two outings against Durango. Sure, Texas is serious about its football, but Troy is a teenager playing at the middle school level; he's not trying to replace Dez Bryant in the Dallas Cowboys' starting lineup.
  • Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films: Played for Laughs in "Tornado Afraido", where Newt says that his fear of tornadoes stemmed from his childhood, when his stepmother let him watch...The Wizard of Oz, which has elements of horror, but isn't considered a horror film.
  • The Klutz: Newt, who backs into things, causing something to fall over. A lot.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Only after many years of having a Happily Adopted daughter in Pepper do the Silversteins finally manage to conceive one themselves.
  • Lethal Chef: Pepper's dad has aspirations of being on Super Chef. In reality, his "Pizza Brick" is done when the smoke alarm goes off.
    • Bella's skills as a baker vary. She makes good snickerdoodles and cupcakes, but other baked goods are either-or.
  • Local Hangout: The Lone Starcade. Also, Squeezies Ice Cream Parlor, whose owner is forced to give his own son free ice cream for life for an accident that happened at the shop.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: If Bella's dream of marrying Kyle had come true, she would've attached his last name to hers: Dawson-Webber.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Sophie has nine brothers!
  • Maternity Crisis: Pepper's mom goes into labor right after her baby shower in "Oh Baby, It's the Playoffs"...when her husband is at the lake, and the only people around are Pepper, Sophie, and Bella...who needs to get to the Bulldogs' playoff game.
  • Mood Whiplash: In "A Good Bye Week", Bella finally goes on a date with her childhood crush, Kyle. They have a great time, but the next morning, Kyle informs Bella he and his family would be moving to Dallas in a few days, as his father has gotten a new job. In the episode's denouement, this whiplash is Played for Laughs, as Sophie and Pepper listen to voicemails Bella left them on their phones:
    Bella: [first message, this one on Pepper's phone] "Hey, girls! What's up? Typical Wednesday here. Just got back from an awesome date with Kyle. So excited!"
    Pepper: "Nice!"
    Bella: [second message, this one on Sophie's phone] "Kyle's leaving! My whole world's collapsing! My heart's breaking! Typical Thursday!"
    Sophie: "Uh-oh."
    Bella: [third message, this one on Pepper's phone] "Hey, girls. Just did a hundred sit-ups. Might pump out a hundred more. You know, typical Friday."
    Pepper: "This can't be good."
    Bella: [final message, this one on Sophie's phone] "Hey, girls. Forget my other messages. I have a boyfriend! It's only for two days, but I'm gonna make them the best two days ever."
  • Motor Mouth: Pepper when panicking about something, which will force Bella to say, "Pepper, breathe!".
  • Neat Freak: Pepper.
  • Official Couple: Sawyer and Pepper, until they break up in season 2's "Two Many Dates".
  • One of the Boys: Well, it is the title of the show's theme song.
  • Performance Anxiety:
    • Newt gets this when he gets the choir solo in "Tex Fest", despite having a great voice.
    • In "Bulldog Blues", Bella lets the pressure get to her after guaranteeing the Bulldogs will make the playoffs and develops "the yips".
    • And in "Oh Baby, It's the Playoffs", Troy is wrecked by an article calling him a choke artist. Made even worse because Bella is held up when Pepper's mom goes into labor.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Rio Mangini (Ace McFumbles) for season 2. He doesn't appear in one second of the season premiere. In fact, he's absent for three of the second season's first four episodes.
  • Punny Name: There's a bakery in Silverado called Miss Take's Cakes. Don't buy a cake from there. Well, buy one, just don't have them write anything on it; do it yourself.
  • Put Me In, Coach!: The main plot of "Root for Newt". You can guess how it ends. Newt even says this exact trope in the episode's Cold Open.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Sophie and her nine brothers are pretty much raised by their Abuela, because their parents go on so many date nights just to get out of the house.
  • Relationship Upgrade: In the second half of the first season, Sawyer and Pepper become a couple. Their relationship ends near the halfway point of season 2.
  • Retired Badass: Esther, a senior at the retirement home Bella, Troy, and Sawyer visit in "Bad Grandma", is this. She's very active. Very.
  • The Rival: Charlotte Newman for Bella. They used to compete for Kyle. "Charlotte NEWMAN!" Bella often says through gritted teeth.
  • The Roast: Bella roasts members of the team and cheerleading squad at the team's annual season-ending banquet in the penultimate episode of the first season, "Third Degree Ba-Burn". Her jokes about Troy always telling the members of the team he hangs out with what activities they'll partake in cause him to question if he's bossy; and her jokes about Sawyer's dirty locker have an unintended adverse effect on his relationship with Pepper. Of course, everything is fine by episode's end.
  • Romantic False Lead: Kyle for Bella.
  • Satchel Switcheroo: In the series's final episode, "Biggest. Game. Ever.", Bella's grabs the bag of a Wentworth player, while he ends up with her bag...which happens to have the Bulldogs' game plan inside.
  • School Festival: Tex Fest is a pretty good Western example of this. Also a Fundraiser Carnival...though in Season 2 the Bulldogs have to raise funds to have Tex Fest after its budget was used on their new football equipment.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Sophie blocked Newt's number, which he saw as her playing hard to get. Since Newt is now with Asha, maybe Sophie has released the block.
  • Series Fauxnale: "Biggest. Game. Ever.", where the Bulldogs defeat Wentworth to win the program's first-ever state championship.
  • Shout-Out: In "That's MY Tri-Five!", Bella's vacant spot on the cheerleading squad is filled by a girl named Nikki, who gets along with Sophie and Pepper very well. Too well for Bella's liking, and she fears she is being replaced. Meanwhile, Troy has stolen surveillance equipment, including a camera and a monitor, from his military father, and he, Sawyer, and Newt are using it to spy on who keeps putting gum under a table in the courtyard. When Bella's paranoia reaches its peak, she recruits the three to spy on Sophie, Pepper, and Nikki, leading to this exchange between Sawyer and Bella:
    Sawyer: "What about our gum mission?"
    Bella: "The gum will wait! I'm the captain now."
    • Pepper saying "Orange is the new blecch" in "Tornado Afraido" when refusing to wear an orange high-visibility vest for her walk around the school with Sawyer.
    • An exploration of Sawyer and Pepper's relationship in "Third Degree Ba-Burn" contains elements of The Odd Couple, with neat freak Pepper in the shoes of Felix Unger, and messy Sawyer (at least, in terms of his locker in the football team's locker room) in the shoes of Oscar Madison.
    • The Galaxy Battle film series that's a part of the "B" plot in "Party of Three" is a clear reference to Star Wars, and Troy's and Sawyer's excitement for the fourth installment is a parallel to the major anticipation that surrounded The Force Awakens.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Troy Dixon.
    • Ace McFumbles, the voice of the Bulldogs, who has publicly derided cheerleading, and soccer. He has also publicly told his right-hand man, Chauncey, that they aren't friends outside of school. He also barges into the Bulldogs' locker room without knocking first. He uses his power as an on-air talent to get what he wants.
    • Mack Scully, head coach of the Durango Red Devils.
  • Southern Gentleman: Sawyer.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Troy Dixon, the former QB. "They call me The Troy."
  • Stalker with a Crush: Newt on Sophie. He has her schedule on his phone. Although, after "Rally Week", it seems he might not try to act like this towards Sophie, after...
    • Vera, a cheerleader, who shows this quality towards Newt, and makes him realize how he acts towards Sophie.
  • Surprise Party: In "Tornado Afraido", a tornado warning keeps Bella, Sophie, Pepper, Troy, Newt, and Sawyer at school well after dimissal, forcing Pepper to miss the birthday party she'd been planning for a year. So, Bella, Newt, Troy, and Sophie put together a surprise party for her in the school gym, while Sawyer keeps Pepper away for as long as possible.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Sawyer and Newt both become this to Troy when he moves into his new dorm in "Girls Night" as they both make the place a mess and order lots of room service, so Troy tries to get them to leave by stopping the TV and room service but it does not work and eventually Troy tells them both they have to leave, resulting in them apologizing and saying they were just trying to help Troy feel less lonely, Troy then relents and decides to let them stay over after all.
  • Title Drop: In "Tex Fest", the episode's title is branded on the top right corner of the show's logo on the title card.
    • In "Tornado Afraido", Newt looks at a Website the episode got its name from during the storm.
    • Newt calling Bella a "traitor dater" in, well, "Traitor Dater".
    • The Bulldog Buddies mentoring program in "Bulldog Buddies".
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Sophie's the tomboy to Pepper's girly Girl. Bella is right in the middle, staying girly while, y'know, playing football.
  • Two-Timer Date: Bella's dilemma, which makes up the main plot in season 2's "Two Many Dates".
    • Bella's dilemma in "Oh Baby, It's the Playoffs": The playoff game is moved to the same day as Pepper's mom's baby shower. Then, as soon as they end the super-sped-up shower so they can get to the game, Pepper's mom goes into labor.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Sausage and biscuits!", which is mostly used by Bella; she and Coach Russell say this simultaneously in the Cold Open of the series premiere.
  • Wacky Cravings: One of the "weird things" Pepper tells Sophie her mom is doing is "eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches...dipped in mayo." Sophie guesses her mom's pregnant, and further predicts that she forgot something in the principal's office after apologizing for Pepper being late to school. Yep, she's pregnant. In a later episode, she gets another craving for peanut butter...on a burrito.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: In "Root For Newt", Newt wants to get into a game to impress his dad, but the team can't find a place for him. Eventually, Bella suggests he be the holder on field goals, which he's good at. In the game, the Bulldogs try a field goal, but the snap is botched...and Newt picks up the ball and runs it in for the winning touchdown. Afterwards, his dad reassures him that he'll always be proud of him..."Unless he goes to Harvard."
  • You Go, Girl!: The premise.