The show initially centered around Jules Cobb (Cox), a newly divorced 40-year-old mother who tries to get back into the dating game after being out of it for 18 years. However, after roughly five or six episodes, this premise was dropped. Since then, the show has mostly focused on the various shenanigans Jules, Ellie (her snarky best friend and neighbor), Laurie (her ditzy younger colleague), Bobby (her ex-husband), Grayson (UST -ridden single neighbor), Andy (Ellie's husband and Bobby's bromantic best friend), and Travis (her 18 year-old son, the Only Sane Man) involve themselves in, ranging from morning drinking, to the glorious game of Penny Can, to a massive drop-everything $2,000 balloon chase that spans multiple episodes. Can be considered a bit of a Spiritual Successor to Scrubs, in overall tone, humor, and penchant for amazing musical selections. This isn't surprising- it has the same creator and executive producer, and also features his wife.
Each episode has two or three plots and sub-plots, some only given 2 minutes or so. While it is surrounded with tropes, the "deadbeat dad" tends to be rather wise (and credited by the other characters as a better parent, currently than the over-involved mom) and the loser son also is not that much of a loser.
TBS picked up the show for a fourth (and later fifth) season shortly after ABC cancelled it, moving to the former network—and cable—in 2013. On May 10, 2014, it was announced that TBS renewed the show for a final sixth season. They now apologize for the title.note
Cougar Town features examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Spoofed with the "Andy as mayor" arc. In season it's mentioned in one or two episodes, but it's completely overlooked for several season 4 episodes, until he finds out he ran, won and has been mayor for a month being none the wiser.
- Aesop Amnesia: Averted with Chick. In his first appearance, he and Jules promise to get close to each other. He comes back for many other episodes and really looks like his relationship with Jules is fixed.
- Afraid of Doctors: Chick, because at his age they're sure to find something wrong with him. This turns out to be prophetic, because when he does go he's diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Turns out he went to see the same doctor the month before, but had forgotten...
- All Just a Dream: Ellie dreamt that she and Jules killed Andy and buried him in the backyard. As Ellie and Jules are about to kiss...Andy opens the door covered with dirt and holding an axe
Andy: You think you can get away with it, did you?!
*Ellie wakes up*
Ellie: (Pushes a sleeping Andy) You ruin everything!
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: When Grayson loses his temper and punches a hole in the wall, Jules discovers that his anger really turns her on. She knows it's not healthy, but she can barely keep her hands off him for the rest of the episode.Jules: I understand why some women stay with murderers (stroking his face) I would
- Almost Kiss: Laurie and Travis keep trying to have a First Kiss in the two-part Season Four finale "Don't Fade On Me" and "Have Love Will Travel", but things keep getting in the way.
- Aloha, Hawaii!: "Something Good Coming."
- Always a Bigger Fish: Jules' mean skin doctor (played by Lisa Kudrow) is this to Ellie. She avoids eye contact and speaks in a low voice when in front of her
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Jules and Bobby take turns at this.*Jules drives Travis to school and everyone is looking at them...Jules: I'm guessing the kid I flashed goes to your schoolJules: (Beat) Is he single?
- Ambulance Cut
- Anti-Climax: Typically, shows will end with some sort of confrontation or right in the midst of that season's climax. Very few follow this series style of resolving every single major conflict and leaving no unanswered questions for next season...
- Series Fauxnale: A possible examplewhat with the series' relative obscurity, it was somewhat up in the air as to whether or not it would be renewed.
- Answer Cut: The ladies asking Jules how did she find space to have a new master bathroom. Cue Travis' entering his smaller room shouting "Balls!"
Ellie: (asleep with Andy awake next to her) Mrs. Zac Efron...
- The ladies wondering why Andy knows Zac Efron's birthday
- Artifact Title: Even the show knows this. The title gag on a Christmas Episode? "All I want for Christmas is a new title". Shortly followed in their episode after New Years with the resolutions "Embrace our stupid title & lose six pounds".
- And shortly followed after that in "Lost Children", in which Barb stops Jules and comments that she use to be one of them (a cougar). Jules replies that that's not her any more and dryly snarks that maybe she should just change her name. Same episode then has the title gag be "Do we have to do this joke forever?"
- In Season 2's finale, the title lasted twice as long, shooting through Florida, over California, and to Hawaii, where the line was "We'll never stop making fun of the name-"
- Season 3 begins with: "It's still called" above Cougar Town followed with "Yeah, we're not happy about it either." below.
- In the season 3 episode "Ways To Be Wicked" when Travis and his housemate Sig wonder why there is a statue of a cougar at their college ("nothing around here has anything to do with cougars!")
- The first episode has the local highschool mascot as a cougar and the football team bursts through a paper banner which reads: Welcome to Cougartown. Other than the initial intention for Jules to be a cougar prowling for younger men, this seems to be the only connection left (not that it ever comes up again).
- The title finally gets changed to Sunshine State... on the last episode of the show.
- And shortly followed after that in "Lost Children", in which Barb stops Jules and comments that she use to be one of them (a cougar). Jules replies that that's not her any more and dryly snarks that maybe she should just change her name. Same episode then has the title gag be "Do we have to do this joke forever?"
- Ashes to Crashes: When Bobby scatters his father's ashes on a roller-coaster, he unfortunately sits on the front of the car, resulting in the gang being covered in Grandpappy Cobb's remains.
- Attack of the Town Festival: In "The Trip To Pirate's Cove", Bobby claims to have been attacked by jellyfish just as the town's Buccaneer Week is set to start.
- Attending Your Own Funeral: Laurie fakes her death and attends a candlelight tribute her erstwhile sorority stages. Except she accidentally yells at one of them out loud and has to run away.
- In "Last Dance With Mary Jane" this is Jules' birthday wish, to be at her own funeral and hear what her friends really think of her. Grayson engineers a plot to have Jules think everyone's leaving and have them say how they feel about her, thus getting her wish without the funeral part.
- Authority in Name Only: Andy when he becomes mayor. Aside from attending a meeting every six months, he does nothing except cut the ribbon at openings (his first is for a bicycle rack). Taken to such an extreme that he doesn't even realize he won the mayoral race for about a month until a random side character mentions it to him.
- His campaigning for mayor could also count as an Aborted Arc, it's a big deal to him for all of one episode (mainly because Jules needed him to win so he could authorize a permit for her) then it isn't mentioned again until he finds out he already won.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Bobby takes the name Ron Mexico in "Between Two Worlds".
- Beach Episode: The first Season Finale ends with the characters having a "no-couples-allowed" beach party.
- Beautiful All Along: Subverted with Riggs in the fourth season.
- Becoming the Mask: In "Waiting For Tonight", Ellie gets tired of hearing Laurie's Leet Speak as she dictates her tweets, so she posts them for her. Soon Ellie is stuck speaking Laurie's slang, even thinking as her. Grayson saw this during his acting days and calls it "going the full Daniel Day-Lewis."
- Beta Couple: Ellie and Andy tend to serve this function. Especially apparent in Episode 17, "Counting On You".
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: Apparently the only thing Andy and Stan have in common.
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: A literal one when Jules takes a dive on her pool and sees an alligator out of nowhere
- Big "NO!"Bobby: Just c'mon up here so I can push you off the roof!
Jules: No! Wait, that actually is not big enough. NOOOO!
- Bland-Name Product: Coffee Bucks has locations coast to coast.
- Blanket Tug O' War: Between Jules and a drunken Laurie in "Don't Do Me Like That." No prizes for guessing who wins.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Laurie, Jules, and Ellie.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In episode 6 of the third season where Bobby teaches Ellie how to surf, at the end Grayson sings the "They like to surf song". One of the verses is "That shot looks fake, but it's still great cause they like to surf."
- Brick Joke: A staple of the show's humor. Some span a single episode, some come back a few later. One spanned several seasons: During season 1 there is an episode where the cul-de-sac is practically overrun by loose dogs with no explanation. Three seasons later Laurie and Jules reminisce about the time they lived out their favorite song lyrics including "letting all those dogs out"
- Broken Aesop: "Alcohol makes people fun!"
- Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: On "Learning to Fly", Bobby still has Grandpappy Cobb's ashes with him because he could not follow through with his final wish - for the ashes to be scattered on a roller-coaster - due to Bobby's fear of riding roller coasters.
- The Bus Came Back: Barb, for one more appearance in mid-season 3 at least, where it's revealed she ended up marrying the current Mayor.
- Matt, the guy Jules met in the pilot episode, comes back in Season 2.
- Jules' orange negligee she wears when she first had sex with Josh, is seen again when she and Grayson were a couple already.
- Bobby appears in the final episode via digital tablet.
- But Not Too Foreign: Andy's hispanic (Cubano), but appears to be a typical middle American white guy. He's mildly embarrassed that he doesn't even speak spanish (a point of contention with his brother, who refuses to speak anything else around him out of protest).
- Butt-Monkey: Poor, poor Josh.
- Everyone hates Tampa. No, not Grayson's daughter, the place.
- The Cameo: In the second season finale, one of the people in the background on the bar terrace is played by Danny Pudi. That is, until you notice him acting strange and realize (if you also watch Community) that it's not Danny Pudi but Abed in a brilliant, subtle piece of cross-referencing (specifically, it refers to a possibly made-up story Abed tells in "Critical Film Studies"). Also a case of Breaking the Fourth Wall.
- Bill Lawrence appears as a cop during Jules' drinking montage in the second episode
- Both Lisa Kudrow and Jennifer Aniston, Cox's former female co-stars in Friends, appear in an episode each. Another Friends co-star, Matthew Perry, appeared in a season 5 episode.
- Moving on to someone who never appearednote on Friends, in the final season's "Yer So Bad" Andy and Ellie try to guess who Tom's celebrity patient is; it's Cindy Crawford, who appears As Herself in the final scene.
- Car Meets House: In "Learning to Fly", a car crashes through Jules' office doors.
- Carrying a Cake: Discussed; Jules mentions that carrying around a cake is actually quite difficult and so changes the meaning of "cakewalk" into something really difficult instead of something really easy.
- Catch Phrase: Andy's "COME ON!"
- Laurie uses "What what!" in the first couple seasons, but it slowly phases out as her Character Development moves beyond just a party girl.
- Arguably Laurie's "LAUGH!" (because she's self-conscious about her real laugh)
- In universe, Andy when he was a stand-up comic in college: "Bitches be loco!"
- "Change approved!"
- Character Overlap: In the Hawaiian episode Travis makes friends with Ted from Scrubs.
- In the same episode Abed from Community cameos (see above).
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Barb is last seen in season 3, and in season 6 characters wonder what happened to her.
- Tampa, Greyson's daughter, disappears for several seasons and when she's mentioned again most of the cast has forgotten she exists.
- Riggs and Bobby don't break up onscreen, she just stops showing up and is never mentioned again.
- Clingy Costume: Andy gets stuck in a Buzz Lightyear costume he rented for his son's birthday party, just as he's about to have a business lunch.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Jules' shrink Glenn (played by Jennifer Aniston), whose dog had a baptism. And she cried all night when the dog had his first sleepover.
- Color Motifs: Jules with Orange:
- She has an orange towel and orange nail polish in the first scene in the pilot, also her orange blazer in the pilot
- Her orange dress in the fourth season premiere
- Her orange negligee when having sex with Josh
- She's also wearing orange in the last scene in the series finale
- Comically Missing the Point: No one gets it when Ellie, to compliment someone, gives them the tip of an imaginary hat. Jules also usually doesn't get it when someone plays a little game. Also, she really can't play the portmanteau movie game (teens trapped on an island find pirate treasure: Blue LaGoonies).
- Companion Cube: Jules and her succession of Gigantic Gulp wineglasses. She names them, loves them, and hold funerals for them when they are broken.
- Continuity Nod: Penny Can, the balloon chase, the Cul-de-Sac Crew... this show is fueled by this trope. The second season finale in fact continuity-checks two separate shows from two different networks: see The Cameo above, and Hooch is still crazy.
- Continuity Snarl:
- In the Valentine episode in season 1, Jules says she got boobs at age 11, in an episode near the end of Season 2, Chick mentions Jules as a teenager cried a lot from having a flat chest
- Andy says he can't even roll his "R"s, but an earlier episode showed he taught Jules how to
- Jules is shown to be dumb, but a season 1 episode showed her casually learning how to speak Chinese. Then again, she quit drinking wine for a while
- Couch Gag: Playing with the Artifact Title starting in season two.
- Creepy Child: The chalk children.
- Crossover Punchline: The second episode featuring the character Ted (from Scrubs) had him noting, in the sting, how many people around town look exactly like people he used to know (including a few other guest stars that were around that episode). When the actor who played Dr. Kelso shows up (playing Jules' dad), Ted freaks out and runs into a glass door trying to escape. Then Zach Braff shows up to deliver a pizza, and the Todd even shows up and offers him a high five.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Ellie intimidates someone by threatening to "cut off your balls and shove them up your ass."
- Cycle of Revenge: Played with. Jules has a Circle of Love and Circle of Anger:
- Circle of Love: Jules says Travis is a good son, Travis complements Ellie. Ellie give encouragement to Andy's work. Andy says to everyone Bobby is his best friend. Bobby gives coffee to Laurie. Laurie says nice things to Tom's garden. Tom gives Jules dessert
- Circle of Anger: Jules berates Laurie for not working. Laurie refuses to help Travis with his problem. Travis makes fun of Bobby's coffee. Bobby repeats Travis' insult to Andy. Andy shouts at Ellie. Ellie destroys Tom's Christmas decor in his garden. Tom vacuums up the dessert he made for Jules
- Dagwood Sandwich
- Deadpan Snarker: Almost everyone gets a chance to snark at some point, but Grayson, Ellie, and Travis are the most consistantly snarky.
- A Degree in Useless: In "Time to Move On", Jules worries that Travis' art degree won't get him a good job and will end up staying with her forever.
- Demoted to Extra: Barb was originally Jules' Designated Antagonist, but as the show changed focus her appearances becamed reduced. By season 2 she only had one scene per epsiode and was completely absent from season 3 except for one brief cameo.
- Didn't Think This Through: Bobby "locking" his mouth so he can't speak but then he can't "swallow the key"
- Dirty Old Woman: Barb's purpose in life is to pop in on Jules at inopportune times and make double entendres one after the other.Barb: I'm sorry to interrupt but I'm starving. If you're not gonna eat that may I have it?
Jules: My omelette?
Barb: (Looks at Jules' boyfriend)
Jules: Good God Barb!
- Distaff Counterpart: In "Saving Grace", Bobby becomes friends with tomboy Riggs, who likes all the same things he does. Travis points out that she is his doppleganger.
- The Ditz: Laurie and Bobby.
- Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That: Happens on "Flirting with Time" when Wade surprises Laurie by popping out of a recycling bin and Laurie punches him before realizing it was him.
- Drives Like Crazy: Jules, as she puts it, "knee-drives". This doesn't end well as she crashes in a neighbor's pool
- Drop-In Character: Tom. While technically everyone who doesn't live with Jules is one, seeing how her kitchen is where they usually hang out, all of them live close together and occasionally go to each other's houses. Tom is the only one of them who lives nearby, whom almost everyone dislikes at first, and whose house nobody hangs out at.
- Dumb Blonde: Laurie and Bobby, again.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Jules' red Lexus is not seen in the pilot episode
- Egg Sitting: To prepare for being a father, Travis practices with Tom's pet pig. He ends up losing it, but fortunately Jules knows hog calling.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Jules Kiki Cobb
- Empty Nest: Jules has a hard time letting go of Travis when he goes to college.
- End-of-Series Awareness: "It'll All Work Out In The End" is about Jules celebrating Thanksgiving in the spring for fear that they wouldn't all be together in the fall.Jules: What if we're not around next fall? What if a new group comes in and replaces us? Everybody's going to be like, "What happened to the Cul-de-sac Crew? I missed them. And who are these new people? They're not as good."
Jules: After six yeas and hundreds of stories you're bound to repeat one of them. And it's nice. As long as you love the people you're sharing the stories withLaurie: I'm getting all choked up, and I feel like it's a week to early for thatJules: Sweetie, this is never gonna end.
- In the penultimate episode of the last season (which is in itself an homage to the whole show)
- Enfant Terrible: Stan.Ellie: He is a devil baby! I don't know what happened!
- Enormous Engagement Ring: Barb's ringBarb: (To Jules) What a beautiful engagement ring. It's like my ring had a baby
- Erotic Eating: Apparently, strawberries with whipped cream induce lesbianism.
- Travis cannot stand to see Jules eating bananas.
- Escalating War: Ellie and Grayson had one on finding out each other's embarrassing stuff from the past.
- Ethical Slut: Most of the characters, even if they're mean, are good people. And they all love sex.
- Expy: Ellie for Jordan, both created (at least partially) by Bill Lawrence and played by his wife, Christa Miller.
- Faking the Dead: Laurie fakes her death so her sorority sisters (at the college where she doesn't go to) wouldn't miss her never going to Travis' school again.
- Faux Yay: Laurie pretends to be Ellie's lesbian lover to get her son into a prestigious pre-school looking for "alternative" families.
- Five-Finger Discount: Jules tries (and fails) to shoplift in "The Criminal Mind". She gets tips from Laurie, who is able to sneak out a hair drier. Twice.
- Flanderization: It didn't take long for Jules to become Monica from Friends. Jules started off as a smart working mother who was somewhat insecure about getting back into the dating scene. By the end of the first season she became a neurotic control freak who treats Grayson with the same condescending "I'm right about everything and your arguments are invalid" type of attitude that Monica displayed towards Chandler. A personality trait that she didn't exhibit with her previous boyfriends. The show started out as with all her friends hanging out having coffee but soon Jules is hosting their thanksgiving celebrations very much like Monica.
- Foreshadowing: Early on in Season 1, one of the tags showing Laurie on a sleepover with Jules and asking what if she and Travis had a baby. Five seasons later, she would be pregnant with Travis' baby
- Freudian Trio:
- Of the ladies: Laurie is the Id, Jules is the Ego, Ellie is the Superego
- Of the guys: Bobby is the Id, Andy is Id/Ego depending on the story, Travis and Grayson usually are the Ego/Superego
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Tom. Holly would be this if Laurie and Travis didn't like her.
- Funny Background Event: The seagulls on "Saving Grace". They even appear indoors on some scenes.
- Abed's cameo has him looking around and eventually running off, which is noticed by the characters.
- When Jules was talking about a life lesson and says "Where's Travis? He should be hearing this", Travis' feet is shown going down the stairs and reversing to hide from Jules
- In "Stop Dragging My Heart Around", at one point Travis is talking to Jules and Bobby, and when the camera pans to them, you can see that the TV in the background that's on is currently showing an episode of Scrubs.
- Genius Ditz: Grayson and Ellie are left wondering why Laurie beats them handily at bar trivia. Apparently it's because she watches so much Jeopardy. And she cheats.
- Gigantic Gulp: Big Joe/Carl/Kimo/Lou/Tippi/Chuck. Inverted with Little Richard.
- Gilligan Cut: In "American Dream Plan B", Laurie brags that women in her family don't lose their figure while pregnant and that she will look the same at eight months. As she opens a fridge door, the scene transitions to eight months later, where she closes the door and is revealed to be extremely pregnant.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: Jules and Bobby becoming a team on Travis drinking. Jules is the bad cop to make sure Travis doesn't drink and drive. Bobby is the good cop to help Travis get home safe.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!!: Bobby's "What the fudge?" add a "nuts" at the end just for extra fun.
- Grand Finale: "Last Dance With Mary Jane".
- "Groundhog Day" Loop: Played with. Jules hurt Laurie by making her maid of honor even if she wasn't meant to be. When Jules wakes from a nap, the crew reenact their actions the day before until Jules says the right thing to Laurie
- Halfway Plot Switch: Played straight to the point that the title no longer makes any sense. So much so that they're considering changing it.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Jules, Ellie, and Laurie, so much. Ellie and Jules also border on Lady Drunk from time to time.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Dale
- High-School Dance: When a hurricane floods the local school gym in "Wild One, Forever", Jules volunteers Grayson's pub to hold their prom in.
- Home Porn Movie: Jules and Bobby have one. Andy and Ellie try to make one, but the result is apparently too horrific to watch.
- Homoerotic Subtext: All over the place. It's good that Andy and Ellie love each other so much, because they're this close to running away with Bobby and Jules, respectively.
Bobby: I'm not comfortable with what I'm feeling right now.
- A single time when Greyson is teaching Travis seduction techniques and demonstrates on Bobby.
- How's Your British Accent?: Bobby's accent and voice is not his actor's by a long shot.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Bobby and Lisa.
- Hypocritical Humor:Jules: You have no idea how stubborn my dad is.Grayson: You're just as stubborn as he is.Jules: I'm not stubborn! I'm just always right.
- I Call Him "Mister Happy": Bobby named his penis "Little Travis".Bobby: I call all my favorite things Travis.Travis: That's... oddly flattering.
Jules: Say hello to Tanya, and her slightly smaller twin, Dina
- Jules' boobs
- Apparently, Barb caller her private parts "big business".
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode is named after a Tom Petty song.
- The "I Love You" Stigma: Josh tells Jules that he loves her, but she didn't want a serious relationship and breaks up with him.
- When Jules says "I love you" to Grayson and he doesn't (instead replying with "thank you"), things turn rather sour.
- Incest Subtext: It's brought up one time with Jules towards Travis. Both are squicked by this, although Jules ever so slightly less than Travis.
- That Jules not only loves her son, but is "in love" with him is something of a running gag. Pushed right up to the edge of truly squicky territory and certainly far enough to constantly embarrass him (like when she snuck into his apartment at 3am and spooned with him until his roommates found them again).
- At one point, her boyfriend role-plays as Travis to help her get ready for a difficult conversation with him. They work through the issue, say the love each other, and then start making out.
- In season two, Kirsten notices that Travis' celebrity crush, Megan Fox, has long black hair and likes wearing tight jeans. Just like Jules.
- After Travis dropped out of college, Jules invited Travis to just hang out without discussing their problems. It plays out like a one night stand, complete with Jules waking up without Travis, and finding a note left for her
- In season six, Jules' dad sleepwalks naked to their bed and mounts Greyson. Ellie comments that she thought if Jules ever had a threesome with a fmily member it would be Travis, Jules agrees looking disturbingly non disturbed by the idea.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Actually quoted word-for-word.
- Informed Attribute: Andy was born in Cuba but doesn't speak a single word of spanish. His ethnicity is something of a Running Gag in-universe, the rest of the gang tends to find it hilarious whenever he mentions he is Latino.
- During the trip to L.A. he tries to tap into the "Latino Connection" but is rebuffed when he mispronounces "Javier" by using a hard J-sound
- Inner Monologue: Used in "The Criminal Mind" after the gang watches The Breakfast Club. There are even a couple of Inner Monologue Conversations.
- Insult Backfire: Jules to her mean skin doctor, Dr. Evans (played by Lisa Kudrow):Jules: She is the worst. She's like the Queen Bitch of the Universe.
Dr. Evans: I like it. Makes me sound like Queen of the Gays.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Sara sells Grayson some wine named Hurpes, helpfully pointing out that the name is supposed to be pronounced err-pay. No one pronounces it that way.Jules: (sniffs Ellie's glass) What is that?
- It Makes Sense in Context:
Grayson: I ate Dead Baby Lasagna?
- Tom mistakenly thought Ellie's baby died and no one corrected him because he made them lasagna
Jules: Yes. And tonight we're having Dead Baby Tacos
- J'accuse!: Jules is supposed to stop drinking for a month, but naturally she cheats. Ellie yells at Jules, complete with accusatory finger.
- Jerkass: Ellie, oh so much. She does get more heartwarming moments than Jordan, though.
- The Lad-ette: Lisa Riggs, Bobby's friend on "Saving Grace".
- Lampshade Hanging:
Laurie: "Our schedules got all messed up, we were all away, and none of us knew when we were coming back..."Jules: "What if we're not around next year? People will be all like "What happened to the cul-de-sac crew? I miss them. Who are these new guys? They're not as good" "
- In Season 3, they were looking a photos wondering how they skipped Thanksgiving and Christmas:
Laurie (suggesting the new name): "Don't you get it? Everything that happens on this boat is a Sea Story! Even us trying to come up with a new name!"
- Season 4 had the name of Bobby's land-boat changed to "Sea Story". Very appropriate given the typical episode formula.
- Latino Is Brown: Has a big aversion with Andy Torres, who is Cuban but doesn't look or sound like one. This is lampshaded in at least one episode.Laurie: Oh, that's right, you're Cuban. Sometimes I forget you're Latino.
Andy: Yeah, me too.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The opening scene to episode 13 of season 3 has them having a chat talking about why they missed thanksgiving and saying "our schedules got all mixed up, we all went away and no one knew when we were coming back" then saying about not knowing if they'll be around in the fall. Made extra funny as the announcement that the show is moving to TBS (having 2 new seasons each lasting 15 episodes) happened just a few days before.
- The season 4 premiere has Jules noticing how great it is to share her stories with the world again... having gone out a few minutes ago for an errand.
- Left the Background Music On: "Stop trying to make this into an 80s movie montage!"
- Line-of-Sight Alias: In "Between Two Worlds", Bobby inpersonates someone named Ron to take his coffee order, then sees a poster for Mexican-grown coffee and gives himself the last name Mexico.
- Andy makes up a story about a nonexistent policewoman grandmother by looking at a theater marquee.
- LOL, 69: The gang's penny can game drops on the wine glass of a couple about to proposeCan I have that penny back? It's 1969
- Long List: Laurie's extensive coffee order. Her delivery also makes it Rapid-Fire Comedy.Laurie: Oh, hey, Rach. Now, bear with me, I have to order for everyone: Okay, I'll have one Soy Largie, one Teeny Tiny, one Teeny Teeny Tiny Unleaded, one Plain Jane, extra Yum— what the hell, make it a double Yum— Uhhh, a Baby Joey, a Midnight with a Full Moon (hold the pumpkin), a medium coffee, I need a Heavy D, in a travel mug, please, two Crazy Ivans, a Sauron's Eye— also, I need a Damn! and an iced Damn!, a Sneaky Pete, a Double Drip with a snip of whip, and a Frap-Cap, heavy on the (imitating the blender) crcccrcccrcrch! crcrcrrrchcrcrch! Oh, and let's see, what's fresh? Okay, well I'll take three Raisin Happy Muffins, a French Moustache, and— ugh, a Fart Muffin, that is not for me. Oh, and I forgot to order my own coffee! Can I get a Taye Diggs, which is black and extra strong and smooth, but also very sweet?Rachel: (stares at Laurie, dumbfounded)
- Mama Bear: Jules describe herself as one of these.
- Manchild: Bobby, whose life goal is to party so hard he craps himself on every continent.
- Manipulative Bastard: Ellie, the Gift Whisperer. Ellie also accuses Andy of this.
- MayDecember Romance: The premise, which was dropped after five episodes. Most agree it was a change for the better.
- Meet Cute: The flashback episode featured many meet cutes: Andy and Bobby, Laurie and Travis. Jules and Grayson had one but they didn't know each other at that time
- Menstrual Menace: Laurie's birth control slows down her cycle so much that her period comes only once a year. She calls it her "yeariod"
- Monochrome Casting
- Montages: Several are parodied in "The Same Old Life"
- Motor Mouth: Jules, who tends to talk a mile a minute until stopped.
- The Moving Experience: In the finale, "Last Dance With Mary Jane", Jules learns that everyone in the cul-de-sac crew is moving away on her birthday, but it was really Grayson's plan to give her a memorable birthday and no one was leaving.
- Mrs. Robinson: Jules, initially. Barb still is one, and has treated Travis' high school graduation as a meat market.
- Mustache Vandalism
- My Beloved Smother: Jules, especially when Travis was younger.
- Mythology Gag: An entire episode has references to Scrubs. This is even lampshaded by the subtitle.No, it's not just Scrubs in Florida with a lot of wine.
- In the episode "Saving Grace," Jules mentions Ted Danson as an example of something cool, (incorrectly) commenting that he appears on a dance show called "Can't Stop Dancin'/Danson." Bill Lawrence, between Scrubs and Cougar Town developed a pilot for a show called Nobody's Watching, where the idea was brought up to give Ted Danson a show with that same title. The fact that Ellie asserts that the show doesn't exist might be a little Take That Me about Nobody's Watching not getting picked up.
- Naked People Are Funny: In "A Woman In Love (It's Not Me)," Travis accidentally walks in on a naked Josh in the bathroom. To make matters worse, Travis is only in his underwear at the time.Travis: Hey, Josh, let's make a real effort to wear shirts around each other, okay?
- There was also the time Jules and Grayson tried to have a Naked Fun Day.
- Noodle Incident: "Never press the 'NO' button."
- Also, the disaster that was the introduction of Travis's college girlfriend.
- Only a Model: Tom makes a scale model of the cul-de-sac, complete with dolls of the other characters.
- Only Sane Man: Travis, although he does indulge his parents' antics from time to time. When he goes off to college, Ellie takes his spot.
- On the Next: Spoofed on The Stinger for the first TBS episode, which promises guest star Michelle Williams as Laurie's sister, Jules as a vampire, a kiss between Grayson and Andy, and the death of a major character (Tom) in the oncoming season... or not, you'll just have to stay tuned to find out.
- Orbital Kiss: Between Bobby and Angie, Travis' Photography professor.
- Our Slogan Is Terrible: "To get ahead, get a home"
- Pass the Popcorn: Jules watching Grayson watching "Field of Dreams".
- Playing Gertrude: Refreshingly averted with Courteney Cox herself, who is some five years older than her character (and Grayson and Bobby, and their respective actors).
- The Pollyanna: Andy. Laurie and Ellie team up to try and take down his boundless optimism.
- Popcultural Osmosis Failure: A running gag with Jules, who hasn't seen that many movies.Ellie's Mom (To Ellie): With all that eyeliner, God forbid (Jules) cry. She'd look like Alice Cooper
Ellie's Mom leaves, Ellie looks at Jules who's hiding, now crying with her eyeliner all messed up
Jules (crying): Who's Alice Cooper? Was she pretty?
- Product Placement: Almost insultingly obvious at certain points:
- The entire cast spends the first five minutes of an episode gushing about Slankets which they are all wearing.
- Grayson and Bobby have a discussion about how it's OK for guys to like Grey's Anatomy, another show on ABC.
- "No Reason to Cry" — which contained a three minute discussion on the Diet Dr Pepper logo being on a golf outfit — featured Diet Dr Pepper ads in the show as well as the promos earlier in the night ("Tonight's all new Cougar Town is surprisingly refreshing ... just like Diet Dr Pepper!"). Unlike many other instances this is justified as Bobby is a pro golfer. It is also lampshaded early on in the discussion as Travis makes an aside, saying "Is anyone filming this?". DDP cans are seen in later episodes.
- Subway starts being featured a lot, too. Travis actually said he could "eat for several months with the $12 in his pocket" (paraphrased) - couldn't have been more obvious.
- Bobby and Travis spend an entire episode on vacation. In Target. Where Travis gushes about all the crap you can buy at Target.
- As part of Andy's welcoming Bobby from his golf tournament in season 6, they go buying Go Pro cameras at Best Buy.
- Pursue the Dream Job. Laurie from Jules' assistant to opening a cupcake shop
- Put on a Bus: Barb. Her Once an Episode appearances end late in season 2 when she mentions she's fallen in love with a man who wants her to act more demure.
- Josh, Jules' boyfriend in Season 1. She breaks up with him six episodes in.
- Bobby gets a job as a pro in Georgia in the second episode of season 6. His absence in the previous episode is explained as him playing a tournament there.
- Race Fetish: Laurie wants her online boyfriend who is a soldier in Afghanistan to be black, as that is "super hot". Ellie then comments on this trope.
- Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Riggs. When Travis and Grayson give her a makeover and put her in a dress to show Bobby she's the perfect girl for him, Bobby just laughs. To him the sight of Riggs in a dress is "like a dog wearing sunglasses", and Riggs agrees.
- Really Gets Around:
Laurie: "This is worse than when I was waiting for my (STD) results and they had to bring in a specialist"
- Laurie. Possibly the only person who sleeps around more is Barb. Both of them revel in it.
- Grayson, before getting together with Jules, had a parade of bimbos (as Jules put it) in and out of his house. Ellie, before she married Andy. Bobby kept sleeping around with waitresses. That's... everyone but Andy and Travis.
- Rich Bitch: Ellie."See, the reason I buy expensive things is to belittle people who can't afford them."
- Right-Hand Attack Dog: A funny variant where Bobby thinks people broke into his boat and warns he has a vicious attack dog. He then plays a recording of Jingle Bells made entirely out of barking dogs
- Right Through His Pants
- Running Gag: "Isn't her name 'Tampa'?"
- Jules changing the meaning of phrases (for example, "Junk in the trunk" now means emotional baggage) and Ellie approving the change ("Change approved!"), with either Travis or Grayson protesting the change.
- Once a season, Jules' favorite drinking glass breaks. The group give it a funeral (with Grayson again pointing out how ridiculous it is) and then present Jules with a replacement. On the sixth season Jules breaks the glass herself because she's overwhelmed that everyone she cares about is (she thinks) moving away.
- All of them hating Tampa, Florida
- Grayson's tiny eyes. They even call him Dime Eyes, Tiny Eyes, and other variants
- Jules crying and her eyeliner being all messed up, they call it "Cooper-ing". See Popcultural Osmosis Failure above
- In Jules' birthday episode in the first season, none of the characters agreeing she can pass for 38
- Fake suicides and murder-suicides. Basically, when someone is talking and talking about something the others don't care about. They would act out shooting themselves with a gun out of sheer boredom
- Scare 'Em Straight: In "Time to Move On", Jules tries this to get Travis to get a job by using Bobby as an example. Travis sees right through it.
- Scenery Censor: In "You and I Will Meet Again", when Jules and Grayson decide to have a Naked Fun Day. Lampshaded when Jules notes how almost everything in their house is "boob high".
- School Idol: Jules was so popular in high school they had a musical about her
- Serious Business: Jules with her Disney Characters:Jules: There's no Mopey DwarfEllie: Yes there isJules: Dopey, Sleepy, Sneezy, Bashful, Grumpy, Happy, Doc. Blam!Jules: (Beat) Sorry I take my Disney Characters seriously
- Ship Tease: Jules and Grayson, Jules and Bobby, Grayson and Laurie, Laurie and Travis
- Andy and Bobby...Ellie (to Andy): If you're leaving me for him, don't drag it out. Just do it.
- Jules and Ellie...Ellie (to Jules): Are we finally running away together? Because I keep a bag in my truck.
Grayson: At least I'm the best kisser in this room..
Jules: (says nothing and looks at Ellie)
- Andy and Bobby...
- Shipper on Deck: In "Saving Grace", Travis and Grayson try to hook-up Bobby and Riggs.
- During the episode where Ellie tutors Bobby on date-etiquette, both Jules and eventually Andy ship them together
- Shirtless Scene: Every one of the main male characters has had one. Jules and Laurie too (with bras on)
- Travis' is overshadowed by his mom's young boyfriend (much to Travis' annoyance and embarrassment)
- Shout-Out: In the thanksgiving episode, Andy eats a hamburger before Thanksgiving dinner and says that it's like stretching — this was taken almost verbatim from an episode of Friends. In any other case, it would look like a complete rip off, but since Courtney Cox's the lead, we're all good.
- In the thirteenth epsiode of season one, Jules and Bobby can be seen watching an episode of Scrubs.
- In a seventh episode of the second season, Travis and Bobby share a montage to Enrique Iglesias's "Hero." The song was used for a different purpose on Scrubs.
- Andy is compared to Keyser Soze for his skill at manipulating women, with the episode's plot leading quite naturally to his shedding a limp at the end.
- In the same episode, Ellie refers to Andy as a "sensie," a term introduced on Scrubs to describe an overly-emotionally sensitive man.
- Ted shows up in the Season 2 Finale, and reveals that Hooch is still crazy.
- Wait, if they're in the Scrubs universe, does that mean that Jules' father is Bob Kelso's identical twin? And what about Ellie? Or Dr. Maddox played by Courteney Cox in the first few episodes of season 8? And Doctor John Dorian looks surprisingly like Zach Braff?
- Ted is worried about that, too.
- Really, it only way it makes sense at this point is to just theorise that Cougar Town exists all within Ted's mind, having finally jumped off of the roof after Gooch left him for Hooch.
- And in an episode's tag, everyone gets into a fake gun fight, with Travis groaning "I love Spaced!" as he "dies."
- The title gag for the Season 3 episode Down South is "I didn't know it was back on either." -Abed. The following episode Square One has the title "Welcome to Cougarton Abbey".
- Season 6 episode 5, Even the Losers, ends with Andy and Ellie holding hands as they stand watching their vandalism fireworks go off. Andy looks at Ellie and says, "thank you for helping me through a very strange time in my life."
- In the thirteenth epsiode of season one, Jules and Bobby can be seen watching an episode of Scrubs.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Grayson and his first-season girlfriend Sara (played by Sheryl Crow).
- The Show Goes Hollywood: "Have Love Will Travel", the Season 4 finale.
- Sleepwalking: Jules in "Restless", after taking a sleeping pill.
- Smug Snake: Barb.
- Stacy's Mom: Jules. The junior high kids are very appreciative of her.
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix: Jules gets Ellie to make one about Grayson. It's awesome.
- Taking the Bullet:
- In "Wild One, Forever", Andy stops a kid from getting pantsed by pushing him out of the way, getting his pants pulled down in his place.
- In another episode, Andy jumps in front of Bobby so his white shirt wouldn't get dirty. Bobby and Jules were having a contest that time on who can keep their shirt clean
- They Fight Crime!: Brought up by Laurie in "Lost Children"
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: "Cry To Me" stinger but not for the normal reason.
- Tomboy: In her first appearance, Riggs sports the classic tomboy look, complete with Tomboyish Baseball Cap.
- Threesomes Are Hot: Barb, again:Barb: I just finished the tastiest Cuban sandwich
Jules: Let me guess. I'm assuming you're not talking about a sandwich but two young boys that did unspeakable things to you
Barb: Hector and Julio. They're cousins!
- Tongue Twister: "Do not stop Cobb-stopping me"
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Kylie
- Too Dumb to Live: Out of the group, only Ellie and Travis know that Mexico isn't an island.Travis: ...but we drove there.
- Bobby almost drowned. In his boat. On dry land.
- Too Much Information: Jules tends to keep on talking until she gets there, especially with Travis.
- True Companions: They even have a name for themselves: The Cul-de-sac crew. Proved in the second season, when Laurie pretends to have accidentally killed her ex-boyfriend, saying "He's not moving!" is immediately followed by Andy saying his car has a large trunk to dispose of the body.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Ellie and Andy. Discussed in one episode. It's a point of pride for him and he likes to lord it over more attractive guys with wives who aren't as hot as his.Andy: "That guy over there is taller than me, better looking, and has more hair. But his wife is less attractive than mine. If we were to make eye-contact, he'd know I won"
- The Unintelligible: No one can understand Bobby when he goes full-bore redneck. It turns out, neither can he. He's a mumbly (Bobby: "A bumble bee?").Bobby: Hey, sister. Whip me up a 'aramel macchitata, two 'spresso pumps - and a crap-loada extra foam.
Rachel: I'm sorry. What?
Bobby: 'Aramel macch, two 'spresso pumps, crap-Ioada foam.
Rachel: I can't understand you.
Bobby: Crap lada fam, girl! Crap lada fam!
- The Unfair Sex: In true Bill Lawrence fashion, this happens early and often. The worst case is with Ellie, who does some really appalling stuff but gets away with it, or is 'justified.' The most recent being the third season finale, in which she clearly has an emotional affair with another man IN FRONT OF ANDY, which is painted as acceptable.
- Unlimited Wardrobe: Demonstrated by Laurie who changed outfits a dozen times during Thanksgiving.
- Unusual Euphemism: Jules likens kissing with a garden snake taking a bite out of an apple
- Vacation Episode: "Something Good Coming."
- The Vamp: Barb. Probably at this point the only reason the show still has the title "Cougar Town", and shows up Once an Episode to flaunt her latest conquest in a punny manner.
- Verbal Tic: Travis, with his weird high-pitched "Ah!" whenever he throws something. (It's HIGH-LARIOUS.) He's probably had it all along, but it has only recently been introduced since it was mentioned by Bobby just beforehand.
- The Vonda Shepard Treatment: There's a guy in the Aloha, Hawaii! episode whose greatest skill is that he can take any song and sing it slow and sad.
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Bobby.
- We Named the Monkey "Jack": Played with. Bobby names his dog Travis, when his son protests he reveals that Travis is the name for all of his favorite thing, his son being just one of them. Other than "Boy Travis" and "Dog Travis" there's also "Boat Travis" and "Little Travis" (the last one refers to his private parts).
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Jules' new master bathroom, it was only shown on the episode with it
- Whole Plot Reference: To The Breakfast Club in "The Criminal Mind".
- Will They or Won't They?: Jules and Grayson, who have since resolved the tension.
- You Keep Using That Word: Grayson expresses exasperation at how the rest of the crew keeps flipping the meaning of words; "kicks ass" now means something terrible, and "cakewalk" is something really hard to do.
- Your Cheating Heart: The reason Jules divorced Bobby was because he kept sleeping around. Seemingly mostly with waitresses.