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Series / Dharma & Greg

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Dharma & Greg, naturally.

Greg: I wish that there was some way we could just skip the dating part.
Dharma: Why can't we?

Freewheeling, eccentric nymph Dharma and laid-back, sensible lawyer Greg meet one morning, fall in love and marry later that afternoon. The rest of the show centers on this mismatched relationship, the wackiness of Dharma's (and now Greg's) life, and the reluctant attempts by Dharma's hippie parents and Greg's rich WASPish parents to get along.

Ran for five seasons (1997-2002), and was especially successful in its first three, but also critically divisive. Whether you responded to it or not depended on whether you thought Jenna Elfman's kooky antics were charmingly silly or hopelessly contrived. Dharma and her family believe in every possible aspect of several new age belief systems, bordering on Fantasy Kitchen Sink. Actor Thomas Gibson had little impact on the critical reception, since 99% of his job was playing the straight man to everybody else in the show — after the pilot, Greg instantly loses most of his quirky personality.

Years after the show ended, the couple had a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo on Two and a Half Mennote , bitter and on the brink of divorce. Given the amount of episode plots revolving around the couple role-playing in public, this should be taken with a grain of salt.

This show is notable for debuting the current brand of Chuck Lorre Vanity Plates, which can be found on

This show provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Right in the title.
  • An Aesop: No matter your beliefs, you can't fix every problem that might come across your path. Sometimes the best thing you can do is leave well enough alone.
    • Exemplified in Judy and Greg. Dharma continuously goes on about how The Universe put her in the path of the people Judy Ballard hurt in high school to try to help them all heal and move on. The ending consensus is that The Universe did put her there but it was to teach her a lesson. There are, in fact, some things that are simply none of her business.
  • Artistic License Linguistics: In one episode, Dharma and a teenaged guest pretend to be German tourists who can't speak or understand English. Anyone who tries to talk to them gets a response in gibberish. Finally, a saleswoman says, in real German, "Kann ich dir helfen?", meaning "Can I help you?" There are two mistakes here. Firstly, she is speaking informal German, which is only used with children, family, and very close friends — never with a customer. Secondly, she is using the singular form of "you" when talking to two people. What she should have said is, "Kann ich Ihnen helfen?"
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Even though the free-spirited Dharma and tight-laced Greg butt heads throughout the series, they still obviously care for each other.
  • Beta Couple: Jane and Pete, though their six-week marriage was a Pair the Spares moment due to not wanting to be alone on Valentine's Day. The Montgomeries and Finkelsteins also fit this trope from time to time.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Greg is fundamentally a good man whose non-confrontational upbringing make him slow to show his anger. But when pushed too far he can and will respond with great force and fury. The quickest way to do this is to insult Dharma in front of him.
  • The Body Parts That Must Not Be Named: Parodied. When Greg sprains a muscle in his upper leg, Kitty is shy about using the word "groin" and Dharma says, "What should I call it? The muscle near his penis?!"
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Dharma's parents are a pair of eccentric former hippies now living comfortably in an expensive looking, if strangely appointed, apartment.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: While cooking Thanksgiving dinner, Dharma thinks she might be pregnant after discussing her symptoms with her mother. Feeling unprepared, she sends Jane for a pregnancy test and tries to keep it a secret, only for everyone except Greg to find out. The test comes up negative.
    • In an inversion of some applications of this trope, Dharma's mother thinks she's entering menopause, but turns out to be pregnant.
  • Butt-Monkey: Greg in Episode 22 of Season 2. In the course of one day he falls through the ceiling, gets electrocuted, beaten up by a contractor, dropped and then trampled by fans at a rock concert and still managed to get himself sent to the hospital for some completely different reason (involving a sex manual and a feather) that is never shown to the audience.
  • Calvin Ball: One episode features a scavenger-hunt like game created by Greg and several of his law school friends at Harvard, where the goal is possession of a statue of a Glory Schnauzer dog, which must be claimed by secretly replacing it with a bust of Eisenhower. Steps to reclaim it after losing possession involve photographing the holder with the Jamaican flag or putting butter on a windowsill and filling a bathroom with a flock of ducks.
  • Commonality Connection: After Dharma accidentally causes Greg to lose his poker buddies, she assembles a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits to fill the gap. Greg warily sits at the table and asks what the guys would do if it's a weekend and there's nothing on TV to which the Hare Krishna replies: "Take a nap!" Greg immediately settles in, knowing he's with like-minded guys.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Dharma and Greg when Kitty walks in.
  • Dead Air: Happens when Dharma creates a pirate radio station. She gets into an argument with Greg for several seconds before realizing she's left dead air and panics, bringing out all the instruments she has on the table.
  • El Spanisho: Well, "ein German-en", really, during the German tourist gags. Dharma and Jane, and sometimes Greg, will pose as some other ethnic or social group just to screw with people using fake versions of that language.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Myron Lawrence Finkelstein
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Gregory Clifford Montgomery; Dharma Freedom Finkelstein
  • Every Man Has His Price: When Abbie is talking about one of her projects to protect some ducks, Kitty offers her help in organizing a better fundraiser. While both Larry and Abbie are not interested, happy with the $800 Abbie once raised in a different matter, Kitty boasts she can help them raise $80,000. When Larry continues to dismiss Kitty's help, Abbie tells him to be quiet and wants to listen to Kitty.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Dharma and Greg first saw each other as eight-year-olds, on the same train they met on twenty years later.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: They're self-aware about it at least- they rationalise that with their tattered past relationships, getting married might be the impetus they need to stay together.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: Also doubles as a Distant Finale. Dharma and Greg turn up in Two and a Half Men (another Chuck Lorre production) as potential buyers of the recently deceased Charlie Harper's house. Their marriage...isn't doing so well.
    • Which creates a Celebrity Paradox on that show since in a previous episode Charlie happened upon an episode of D&G on late night TV.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Unlike most sitcoms, a lot of episodes don't end with a resolution of the episode's central conflict. As in reality, many of the issues that come up on a day-to-day basis don't always get resolved for good or ill. The people involved simply have to live with the consequences.
    • Neither American High Society nor the Crunchy Granola Hippy upbringings are healthy ways for kids to grow up. Dharma and Greg both have some very serious issues that seriously hinder their ability to live in the world and relate healthily to other people and each other, all of which stem from that fact.
    • A match between people from such disparate upbringings, no matter how much they love each other, is NOT easy. Not just from their families constantly butting heads, but from their own opinions and traditions and ways of seeing the world. It's a lot of hard work and compromises, even more so than more traditional couples have to do to make a marriage work.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Kitty invokes this in Edward to restart their love life in "The Tooth is Out There" by bribing the valet to flirt with her.
  • History with Celebrity:
    • Dharma is old friends with Bob Dylan, which is how k.d. lang and Lyle Lovett come to visit her.
    • Dharma once dated a member of ZZ Top and an unnamed senator.
      • Which is also a call back to Jenna Elfman's own time touring as a backup dancer for ZZ Top before she became an actress.
    • Abby is convinced that she was Don Henley's "Witchy Woman".
  • Hippie Name: Dharma Freedom Finkelstein obviously had Hippie Parents.
  • Hippie Van: Dharma's old-school hippie-parents have a VW van, which is usually either broken down or in the process of breaking down.
  • I Call Him "Mr. Happy" : Greg named Dharma's breasts "Lyle and Erik."
    They're a coupla killers!
  • Inter-Class Romance: Dharma and Greg have a lot of similarity to the story type, but it's actually an aversion in that, though Dharma's parents live the hippy lifestyle, they aren't doing that badly for themselves financially.
  • ISO-Standard Urban Groceries: Lampshaded in one episode, where it's mentioned that every time Greg does the groceries he buys a baguette even though no one eats it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kitty. She's a bit manipulative/controlling, she may be kind of a snob and bit conservative BUT she adores her son and genuinely comes to care for Dharma and her family, in her own way.
  • Karma Houdini: Spider the self-defense teacher from "Instant Dharma". She uses a fear campaign to make people join her group, beats the crap out of Dharma for revealing her lies to the students, beats up Greg when he confronts her about hurting Dharma, and her students stay in her class out of fear of what she might do if they leave. Not once does Dharma or Greg consider calling the cops on her.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: When Dharma is trying to have a baby, her mother has an accidental pregnancy when she thinks she's menopausal.
  • Lesser Star: Thomas Gibson. The show's draw is Hilarity Ensues, which leaves little room for The Straight Man to get much focus. Though Greg was not without his quirks, most episodes centering on his problems were overshadowed either by Dharma's reaction, a demonstration of how his parents messed him up in this particular instance, and sometimes even the B-plot of an episode. Ouch.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: One episode focuses on Dharma and Greg trying to win a contest by having sex on the steps of the courthouse during the last episode of Seinfeld.
    • Dharma and Jane (respectively) have a running competition to see who can have sex in the weirdest place without getting caught. The reward is a ceramic duck. Dharma and Greg win it - but Jane takes their clothes and car in exchange.
    Greg: The car's gone!
    Dharma: But we've got the duck!
    Greg: We don't have keys for the duck!
    • Over the course of the evening, Kitty and Edward have the same idea. Both couples ends up meeting at the police station after being arrested for public indecency. The duck gets a new owner.
    Edward: "That's not a duck, it's a goose."
    Dharma: "Yes, but Captain, my Captain, goose does not rhyme."
  • Meat Versus Veggies: Abby is a vegan, which is a source of problems in some cases. It doesn't help that her husband Larry is a fanatical meat lover.
  • Memory Trigger: An episode revolves around Greg's lack of childhood memories, which Dharma encourages him to try to cure by going to his childhood home to find familiar scents, while Dharma's dad Larry finds an old bottle of Hai Karate cologne which conveniently helps him remember whatever he's trying to recall whenever he sniffs it.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Greg's mom and his then-fiancée are mistaken for a lesbian couple by Abby, during a flashback episode.
  • Mondegreen Gag: Greg's interpretation of virtually every popular song.
    "I got a black magic woman and she's tryin' to take a pebble out of me! Yeah!"
    "We are family! I got all my systems on three!"
    "I wanna rock and roll all night! And part of every day!"
  • Mr. Fanservice: Greg shows a lot of skin with quite a few more nude scenes than one would expect from an ABC sitcom in the 90s.
  • Name and Name
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Larry and Abby are old-school hippies who raised Dharma to be one as well. They have a hodgepodge of Easter and Western mystical beliefs while Larry maintains a militant, anti-establishment mindset. This is lampshaded when Dharma throws an elaborate christening presided over by a Christian priest, Jewish rabbi, and Native American medicine man and the three agreeing when the rabbi notes: "Oy, is this kid going to be screwed up!"
  • Not Right in the Bed: One episode has Dharma become possessed by a dead woman who never lost her virginity. Somehow Greg is not surprised that she begins smoking cigars in bed.
  • Nude Nature Dance: In one episode, Dharma dances naked on TV to celebrate springtime.
  • Odd Couple: One of the basic themes of the show
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Kitty Montgomery. Even Edward only calls her Katherine when he's issuing her an ultimatum.
    • And in "The Parent Trap" when he's extremely angry with her.
    • Also Larry.
  • Only Sane Man: Greg, particularly when around Dharma and her parents.
    • His dad also counts, although he has long since resigned himself to the insanity around him and occasionally joins in.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Averted by Dharma. Played straight by Greg.
  • Pride: Dharma's main personal fault. She feels it is her personal responsibility to stick her nose into every single issue or dysfunction that crosses her path, especially the ones the people involved aren't comfortable talking about.
  • Put on a Bus: Jane disappears after a single appearance in the fifth season.
  • Raised by the Community: Parodied. Dharma's parents take "it takes a village" literally and bring in a large group of people to help take care of Dharma and Greg's baby.
  • Running Gag: Larry's short-term memory, especially when calling or answering the phone. Also, when someone steps out in the Filkenstein's yard, they are warned to watch out because their goat's been sick.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Greg is a straight-laced, suit-wearing lawyer, and Dharma is a free-spirited daughter of hippies.
  • Screaming Birth
  • Shout-Out: The name of Marlene's cat.
    Dharma: "Greg, have you met Leonardo di Catrio?"
  • Slobs Versus Snobs
  • Statuesque Stunner: Quirky as she is, Dharma is a stunningly beautiful woman, and quite tall, coming in at 5'10".
  • Straight Man: Greg
  • The Snark Knight: Pete
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Many episodes featured a subplot involving either the Finkelsteins, the Montgomeries, or Jane and Pete.
  • Under Strange Management: The title characters once broke into a small-town diner to use their phone, but when caught by the police, claimed to be relatives of the owners there to run it while they were away. One thing leads to another, and at closing time, they ended up with quite a bit of money in the till for the owners (despite "Ike's" wooden leg).
  • Uptight Loves Wild: And vice versa.
  • Vanity Plate: Chuck Lorre started his here.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: After clashing in the early years, the Montgomery's and the Finkelstein-O'Neil's come to enjoy each other's company despite their differences, and not just because their children are married.
  • Wham Episode: Dharma realizing that her early childhood was not quirky and fun - it was just unhealthy.
    • Dharma's friend at the grocery is having a baby and is panicked because her boyfriend left. Dharma convinces Greg to adopt the little boy and they raise an amazing entourage of people to help with his care. Just as they've settled in, they receive a letter from the mom's lawyer asking for the baby to be returned.
    • The episode in which after reconciling their marriage, both Dharma and Greg get into a horrific car crash at the end. Greg isn't seriously hurt, and helps Dharma slowly recover from a broken hip over the next season.