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800 Words (stylized as 800 words) is an Australian-New Zealand comedy-drama series about an Australian widower who moves across the Tasman to a small town in New Zealand along with his two teenage children.

After the death of his wife Laura, newspaper columnist George Turner (played by Erik Thompson) uproots his family and moves to the idyllic small town of Weld in New Zealand. However, their time in Weld starts off on the wrong foot when George realizes that he has been sold the wrong home, along with the family losing their luggage on their trans-Tasman flight. Tensions between the Turners and the quirky locals flare up at first, but they eventually become part of Weld society, finding acceptance and love along the way, helping them cope with their loss.

Each episode has George writing a newspaper column 800 words long for his boss Jan (played by Bridie Carter) in Sydney that centers on the theme of the episode(s). George has also written for the local paper News of the Weld, run by the town's biggest benefactor: Bill "Big Mac" McNamara.


Tropes in this series include:

  • Alpha Bitch: Lindsay McNamara is this at school.
  • Amicable Exes:
    • Zac gets along well with his exes Katie and Ngahuia. He even keeps close tabs on Katie when she goes out on her date with George.
    • Aside from a few hiccups during their initial reunion, Woody and Mary/Rosemary sign their divorce papers without any fuss. In fact, she lets her daughter Poppy travel across the ditch with Woody!
  • Aside Comment: When George is writing his columns, he often turns to the audience and reads part of his column out loud.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The uptight town clerk Sean and the much more laid-back grocery store owner Brenda. By Season 3, they even have a baby on the way, which freaks out the normally wound-up Sean at first.
  • Berserk Button: Grammar mistakes bring out George's inner Grammar Nazi during his time in Stafford as part of Woody's Groomspiel.
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  • Betty and Veronica: Tracey and Becks, though Woody ends up with Tracey at last.
  • Big Brother Bully: Robbie McNamara to Monty.
  • Black Sheep: Siouxsie tells George in Season 1 that she's this among the McNamara clan.
  • *Bleep*-dammit!: George's more competitive side comes out during the cricket game against Stafford, leading him to drop a few swear words which get bleeped out. This is a family show, after all.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Shay to George, Lindsay to Bill Jr.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: After Tracey finds out that Woody lied to her about going to a conference in Australia, when in reality he went to get a divorce from his wife Mary, with whom he had fathered a child that he didn't know about, she throws him out of the house. The next episode focuses on whether or not they end up getting back together.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Woody, who in spite of his spacey demeanor, can actually give some good advice to George on occasion and has a knack for building and woodworking.
  • Butt-Monkey: Monty tends to be this, especially among the McNamara clan.
  • Cliffhanger: Season 2 ends with Ike (who had earlier broken up with Shay), Zac, and Steve (who came from Australia because of Jan's pregnancy), missing at sea.
  • Close-Knit Community: Weld is a small surfing town where the locals know each other and where gossip travels faster than the speed of light. Some of them even have multiple jobs!
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Most of the Weld locals have their quirks, but Woody takes the cake.
  • Daddy DNA Test: How the Who's Your Daddy? plot (i.e. who's the father of Jan's twins) that started in Season 2 gets resolved in Season 3.
  • Daddy's Girl: Siouxsie McNamara, Monty's daughter and secretary. Also, Poppy, Woody's daughter, who shares his knack for building and woodworking even though they've only met recently.
  • Dating Catwoman: Big Mac hooks up with Rae, his Stafford counterpart, after the Weld-Stafford annual cricket game.
  • Death by Childbirth: Nearly happens to Jan after giving birth to her twins. She "dies" twice on the operating table, but she makes a full recovery and is back to work not long after.
  • Feud Episode: George and Woody have a spat over how much he should pay for some repairs made at his house. They resolve their dispute in the span of one episode.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Terry Turner is the foolish one; George Turner is the responsible one.
  • Foot-Dragging Divorcee: Robbie initially refuses to sign Fiona's divorce papers when he comes back as he tries to rekindle his romance with her.
  • Fun with Acronyms: As part of the plan for Woody to secretly divorce Mary in Australia so he could marry Tracey, Sean, the local town clerk, comes up with the idea of a solar power conference in Sydney called the Australasian Registered Solar Engineers Symposium—which, of course, spells ARSES.
  • Gossipy Hens: Gossip spreads like wildfire in small town Weld, which is often a plot point and sometimes has terrible consequences for the target of such gossip.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Lindsay gets irrationally jealous of Poppy, even though Arlo has no romantic feelings towards her, and neither does she have any feelings for him. (Interestingly enough, she didn't particularly show any jealousy towards Emma when Arlo had been dating her.)
  • Hands Go Down: Inverted. When the Gateway class is asked for if anyone wanted to work a minimum wage job at Terry Turner's new restaurant, everyone's hands stay down. When Tracey adds they would get course credits for it, everyone's hands go up.
  • Heartbreak and Ice Cream: Siouxsie brings ice cream to comfort Shay after her most recent breakup with Ike. Arlo points out that it's a cliché.
  • Hidden Depths: George initially refuses to join Weld's cricket team for their game against Stafford, even though he's actually very good at it. Unfortunately, his overly competitive streak got him banned from cricket in Australia.
  • Honesty Is the Best Policy: George insists that Woody tell Tracey the truth about his marriage to Mary back in Australia. Unfortunately, his calls go unheeded as a plan to discreetly divorce Mary without Tracey knowing is concocted by many of the men of Weld.
  • I Own This Town: Big Mac McNamara is Weld's biggest benefactor.
  • Identical Grandson: Lindsay McNamara's promiscuous great-great-aunt Celia is strikingly identical to Lindsay. Unfortunately when Arlo comments to Lindsay about the two's similarities, she takes it the wrong way and slaps him.
  • Inner Monologue: George's words are read aloud to the audience as he types, though he does make the occasional Aside Comment as written earlier.
    • Subverted in Episode 10 of Season 2 with Siouxsie doing the monologue—with her own unique additions—as she begins typing out George's column since his hands have suffered burns during the episode's dinner party.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: Shay's emotional breakdown at the grocery store following her latest breakup with Ike is recorded and then goes viral on social media.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: "Big Mac" McNamara might be the Designated Villain, but he does want Weld to grow from being a small, somewhat sleepy Kiwi town to something more—even if his methods aren't received well by the townsfolk (especially George). He also seemingly shows genuine care and concern for Jan when she shows up again when she gives birth to twins.
  • Jerkass: Robbie McNamara, full stop. He sabotages Monty’s play during Weld's cricket game against Stafford and is overall a general sleaze bag. Even Terry, George's irresponsible younger brother, comments on how much of a jerk he can be.
  • Leaving You to Find Myself: Ike's final breakup with Shay following his near-death experience and apparent communication with the spirits of the deceased, including Shay's late mother Laura.
  • Let's Just Be Friends: After George and Katie go out on their first (and only) date, they mutually decide that they should be just friends instead.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: Arlo and his First Love Emma try this after she leaves Weld at the end of the summer season, but she later on breaks up with him.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: When Woody shows up to divorce Rosemary/Mary, she gets a young girl to serve drinks to him, George, and Smiler. That young girl is his daughter Poppy, whom he never knew he had fathered!
  • Meaningful Echo: "Don't be like that dying fly on the windowsill." Said once by Laura to Shay when she was younger when she got in trouble at school. She tells Ike at one point without the context. It comes up again when Ike tells the quote to George after breaking up with Shay for perhaps the final time.
  • Missing Mom: Shay and Arlo Turner, obviously.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: George (see the summary above).
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Siouxsie is named after punk rocker Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees—Monty's favorite rock group.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: A variation of sorts. Because Weld is a small town, several of its residents hold down multiple jobs:
    • Fiona is an EMT, runs a restaurant (the Boat Club), and even drives a school bus in one episode.
    • In addition to being a realtor, Monty is a volunteer firefighter.
    • Constable Tom, the town's only constable, also takes pictures for News of the Weld.
    • In addition to being a general contractor, Woody installs solar panels, though he does this with Smiler.
    • To make ends meet, George pulls double-duty as a column writer for Jan's newspaper in Sydney along with writing for News of the Weld.
  • Noodle Incident: Ngahuia's return causes Katie to freak out, but it's never explained until a background check comes back with a $250 fine that she still owes. It turns out that Katie got angry with Ngahuia and splashed a drink on her, and Ngahuia pressed charges.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Laura's parents show up for a couple of episodes in the middle of Season 2 because Shay stole Laura's ashes because she didn't want her mother to be buried in a shrine they built to honor their daughter. They waste no time in commenting on anything and everything they don't particularly like.
  • Odd Friendship:
    • George and Monty slowly become friends as time goes on, though their friendship starts off on the wrong foot since Monty sold him the wrong house.
    • Shay and Siouxsie become friends following her latest breakup with Ike. They even find a summer home to move in temporarily.
  • Official Couple: Woody and Tracey, though the new revelations about Woody's past in Season 3 have put their relationship on the rocks, to say the least.
  • Oh, Crap!: Pretty much Woody's reaction to finding out that he fathered a child with his estranged wife that he had no idea about!
  • Old Flame:
    • After Robbie McNamara is released from prison and returns to Weld, he tries to rekindle his romance with Fiona. She wants nothing to do with him.
    • When Ngahuia, Ike's mother, comes back to Weld, Monty tries hard at getting back with her. The feeling is not at all mutual.
  • On the Rebound: Arlo with Lindsay after Emma breaks up with him.
  • One True Love: Woody and Tracey. Not even Woody faking a conference in Australia as a cover story to divorce his estranged wife and finding out that he is a father to a teenage daughter can change that.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Everyone in Weld knows George Woodson as just "Woody". Likewise with his friend and business partner Smiler, Of course, everyone in town refers to Bill McNamara as "Big Mac".
  • Oops! I Forgot I Was Married: Woody, who has just gotten engaged to Tracey suddenly realizes that he is still married to Mary back in Australia!
  • Opposites Attract: Arlo and Lindsay.
  • Papa Wolf: Woody's Papa Wolf instincts kick in when he sees his daughter Poppy get groped in her butt by a customer of Rosemary's/Mary's bar.
  • Parent with New Paramour: In his earlier days in Weld, George becomes the target of affection for several of Weld's women, even dating Katie (for one night) and Fiona for a bit.
  • Parental Favoritism: Big Mac clearly favors Robbie over his other two sons, in spite of his criminal record. On the flip side, Monty is perhaps The Unfavorite since whenever he's over at Big Mac's, he ends up doing all the chores.
  • Parental Obliviousness: George is generally completely clueless. A frustrated Fiona calls him on it at one point.
  • The Patriarch: George for his family, "Big Mac" McNamara for his.
  • Perky Goth: Siouxsie fits this to a tee.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: Pretty much everyone's reaction when Monty walks around George's house with only a Modesty Towel on. Siouxsie tells this to him out loud, though.
  • Plot Pants: On the search for Ike, Zac, and Steve, George and Shay bump into Siouxsie. They don't recognize her because she's without her usual makeup and dress, wearing a sweater and cargo pants instead.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Laura's death is what kicks off the story.
  • Pun-Based Title: Weld's local newspaper is titled News of the Weld.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Becks leaves Weld after breaking up with Woody, which also happens to be the end of Summer.
    • Emma literally leaves on a bus back to her parents after Summer ends.
    • George's brother Terry leaves after only a short time in Weld.
    • Robbie McNamara and Gloria, George's editor for News of the Weld, get put on a bus off-screen.
  • Relationship Revolving Door: Throughout the series, Shay and Ike go from having a relationship to breaking up immediately after, to making up a while later and then breaking up again, to having another short fling before they mutually call it quits for good.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Woody goes from being Tracey's best male friend to her boyfriend and later on fiancé in the span of one season.
  • Returning the Wedding Ring: Mary/Rosemary returns the wedding ring to Woody after signing the divorce papers.
  • The Rival: Katie (of all people!) to Ngahuia, since Zac broke up with her and began dating Katie, eventually having a child (Billy) with her.
  • Romantic Runnerup: Becks, realizing that Woody and Tracey are meant for each other, decides to break up with Woody. She tells him right when he wakes up from his coma. Ouch...
  • Running Gag:
    • In one episode, the McNamaras (minus Monty, of course) mention that Siouxsie scares away the horses.
    • One episode has George writing about jellyfish, which comes up quite often.
  • Small Town Rivalry: Weld has a rivalry with nearby Stafford, which culminates in a yearly cricket game.
  • Stalker with a Crush / Stalking Is Love: Ollie, even following Shay around with a drone and shows up wherever she is.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After Robbie returns to Weld, he takes over Monty's job, which also leads to Siouxsie quitting (because she can't stand Robbie) and leaving her father (because she thinks he's being an idiot) to stay at Big Mac's house. George encourages Monty to stand up to Robbie and Big Mac, which he does by taking his job back at McNamara Realty. Siouxsie goes back to her dad and gets her job back as well.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: After her short time in Weld, Jan becomes pregnant with twins. Throughout the latter half of Season 2 and into Season 3, she hints that the father could either be George, Zac, or Steve (the man Jan is having an affair with). After giving birth, the DNA results indicate that Steve is the father of Jan's twins.