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Series / Happy Endings

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Jane: Sweetie! You and Alex are going to work this out! This is just the sad chapter in your epic love story!
Max: Ah, this is a classic story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl to guy on rollerblades, boy becomes biggest YouTube sensation since "kitten stuck in tuba."

A 2011–13 ABC Sitcom which followed a group of six friends: a former couple, Alex and Dave; Alex's sister Jane, and her other half Brad; their chronically single friend, Penny; and her gay ex-boyfriend and Brad's BFF, Max. The series begins when Alex leaves Dave at the altar. This completely traumatizes Dave, and leaves their friends lamenting how they will probably end up torn apart by the fallout and rarely see each other again.

When Alex returns from the honeymoon that she and Dave planned, Dave is understandably ticked off, and now the friends have a problem: having to either disband or pick sides between Dave and Alex. Fortunately, Alex and Dave decide that what happened was for the best and that they have to find a way to be friends with each other in order not to lose their other friends. However many complications remain down the road for this group of friends. And Hilarity Ensues.

The show ran for three seasons before getting cancelled after ABC made a monumental screw-up of scheduling and airing the show, adding it to the pile of perfectly successful shows inadvertantly killed by Executive Meddling.

This series features examples of:

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  • The Ace: Max' boyfriend Grant, whom everybody loves-he's handsome, down to earth, a nice guy, and successful. Subverting it actually becomes Max's motivation in one episode, as he tries to prove Grant isn't perfect. Of course Grant isn't perfect, as no one is, and when he yells at the gang Max takes it as a victory.
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Exaggerated when Max thinks he's won the lottery. It takes him less than twenty seconds to go from "yay" to "you're all dead to me".
  • Actor Allusion:
    • There are several related to Elisha Cuthbert (Alex):
      • Penny and Alex have a conversation related to someone being trapped in the woods surrounded by cougars, which Alex thinks is insane. Infamously, Cuthbert's side plot in 24 involving being trapped in the woods surrounded by mountain lions is the Trope Namer for Trapped by Mountain Lions.
        Penny: What if you were, like, stuck in a trap in the woods and, like, a cougar was trying to eat you? Would you date then?
        Alex: That's insane, why would that even happen?
        Penny: I have no idea, forget that, cause maybe your dad is the head of some elite counter-terrorist unit and he has 24 hours to - I don't know! The point is, would you date?
      • In the same vein, when discussing what to do when it comes to tracking a missing person (in "The Ex Factor"), Alex suggests that they "call CTU."
      • Alex is a huge fan of Love Actually - in which Elisha Cuthbert had a supporting role.
    • Jane once said that she made a "vision-board" in order for the universe to get her what she wants, including Brad. Brad then said that it wasn't really him on her vision-board, but instead it was one of the guys from In Living Color! Brad is played by Damon Wayans Jr., and In Living Color starred several members of the Wayans family, including his father (Damon Sr.), aunt (Kim), and uncles (Keenen, Marlon, and Shawn).
  • Adam Westing: Colin Hanks, playing himself as a Small Name, Big Ego habitué of Dave's speakeasy.
  • Addiction-Powered: When Penny gets drunk, she can speak and understand Italian. Not just a little tipsy either, smashed to hell.
  • Aesop Amnesia: In 'Big White Lie' Penny's learned a lesson about how lying only complicates things... which she forgets right after the person who told her that has left the room.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Brad and Jane have plenty for each other, usually calling each other 'boo', and Max is sometimes called 'fuzzy face' especially when he needs cheering up.
    • When Penny is dating Jane's boss the Car Czar, he calls her "Honey boobs-boobs."
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Subverted in one episode where Alex attempts to have a conversation with intellectuals about Freudian's theories about the subconscious. They immediately mock her about it.
    "Freud? Hmph. Excuse me, 1897 wired. They'd like their antiquated notions back."
  • Ambiguously Gay: Penny's date Todd. Apparently she has a history of dating these kinds of guys, which included Max in college.
  • Amicable Exes: Eventually, Dave and Alex. The first season often deals with them trying to get to a place where they can be friends following the abrupt disintegration of their engagement in the first episode. Eventually, they're as good of friends as any other pair in the group-only with more sexual tension.
    • Penny and Max dated in college. It was apparently pretty hard on her when he came out as gay, but they are best friends by the timeframe of the series, and in the Covid Charity Special "And The Pandemmy Goes To..." he literally offers to be her husband and they get married so she will no longer be a spinster.
  • ...And That Would Be Wrong: In "The Ballad of Lon Sarofsky",
    Brad: Would you want to come to a dinner party tonight?
    Car Czar: Does the Car Czar have a camera in the woman's bathroom? *awkward pause* No! I do not and would not. But yeah, I want to come to dinner.
  • Announcer Chatter: In the episode 'The Butterfly Effect Effect' Penny, Dave and Alex are playing indoor baseball and David is both pitching and announcing, in a fairly obtrusive Howard Cosell announcer voice.
    Dave: Its a balmy eight degrees outside while inside we're at the top of the 99th inning during the longest winter ever, and this announcer's one more snow flurry away from harming himself aaand others!
    Penny: Shut up and pitch!
  • Apologises a Lot: Dave-in one episode he backpedals from a situation that's slightly awkward with Alex (when they were still newly broken up) and tells her "You're about to get a really long apologizey text from me. Don't read it, I just have to send it."
  • Badass Israeli: Yoni, the Krav Maga instructor.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Its use is somewhat of a running gag.
    Brad: *seems offended* "Hold up. Are you calling me a Trophy Wife ... cause that's awesome".
    • and from the same episode:
    Max: "That is the worst sangria-mouth I've ever seen ... on a non-Spaniard."
    • Later:
    Max: "This may be the single dumbest thing that I have ever been associated with ... and I love it and I'm in."
    The Car Czar:No one talks to the Car Czar like that, ever ... but I like it (*starts laughing*) ... wait, no I don't. Why would I like that? No boss would like that ... but you are my top salesperson, so what am I gonna do?"
    • Also, from "The Storm Before the Calm":
    Dave: Max, are you seriously wearing glasses with no lenses?
    Max: (Beat) Maybe.
    Dave: Dude, I've seen you do some really dumb things before, but this... is not one of them. Those are cool.
  • Baseball Episode: 'Kickball 2: The Kickening" deals with a kickball game, complete with a Sixth Ranger Traitor (in the form of Jane), and has the gang acting like the Ragtag Bunchof Misfits they are.
  • Bath of Poverty The guys' apartment is big but the shower alternates between hot, cold, and brown rusty water.
    Max: Dave, its a shower bud, its not that hard. Let the water run for six seconds, jump in, you got at least thirty seconds of decent temperate water, quarter turn yourself to avoid the initial rust blast, go back in for another thirty seconds. Its like he never showered before.
  • The Bear: Played with with Max in the fact that during the winter he becomes like a bear. He doesn't shave, chases after meat, eats honey straight out of the jar note  and gets stuck in trashcans. Otherwise, he really doesn't really fit as a bear-which is kind of the point of one episode where he finds he doesn't fit in any one single gay category.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Brad's mailman picks a fight with a polar bear at the zoo. The bear wins.
  • The Beard: Max has been using Penny as one whenever his parents come to visit. In one episode she cancels, so he has to find a new beard. The ensuing hilarity leads toMax finally coming out to his parents, who are very accepting.
    • After his mother starts trying to set him up with other gay Jewish men, Dave kisses Max in order to act as his gay beard.
  • Beta Couple: Brad and Jane are a textbook example, with an extremely stable relationship to contrast Alex and Dave's Will They or Won't They?.
  • Big Eater: Max
    • Also Alex as seen in later episodes. We see her picking up an obnoxiously large take out order for herself in one episode and in another she assures Brad that he doesn't have to pay for her second waffle... or first omelette. In a third, she comments she's had Thai for lunch in addition to Mexican and BBQ, all in the same day. A Running Gag has Alex eat ribs a lot of the time and get really messy while doing so.
    • Combine this with her ditzy qualities, you get a girl who once ate a candle.
    • This is actually Truth in Television for most Chicagoans.
    • Alex's mother is also implied to be one.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: invoked by Brad in "Pilot"; also by Max in "The Shershow Redemption"
    Dave: None of us has made a new friend in like 11 years.
    Brad: I wouldn't even know how to do that. What do you do, like just walk up to random people and go, "Hey, blah, blah, blah, sports"?
  • Bland-Name Product: Happens in-universe when the group crack open an unbreakable pinata filled with off-brand candy like Two Musketeers, Skinnles, Senior Mints, Sophomore Mints, and Reestey's Peanut Butter Clorps.
    Max: Even the ingredients are bonk. This says it has "artishishal flavouring".
  • Blatant Lies: Done all the time for humorous effect. In Season 2, episode 6 Brad needs Max to come help him when he's supposedly in Michigan.
    Max: In Michigan? I don't know where that is.
    Brad: You absolutely know where Michigan is. You were an extra in the movie 8 Mile.
    • Later on,
    Max: Your apartment? I don't know where that is.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Jane and the Car Czar guys prank a customer by having Jane pose as a bloodied cadaver in the trunk of a car.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: in "The Quicksand Girlfriend" Brad uses "chicksand" to describe Dave's one-night-stand, to Max's disdain until:
    Max: You drowned, bro, in chicksand. I like it and I'm taking credit for it.
  • Bookcase Passage: Referenced in "Sabado Free-Gante" where Dave and Alex give their real-estate agent increasingly ridiculous requirements for their new apartment. She finally finds one that meets almost all of them, aside from this.
    Realtor: It doesn't have a secret turny-roundy bookcase, but it is zoned for one and I know a guy.
  • Book Ends: The first season begins and ends with the central cast at a wedding, one of which is marginally more successful than the other.
    • The "Year of Penny" begins at the start of the first episode of the second season and officially ends in the last episode of the season.
    • The series itself both begins and ends with Alex and Dave breaking up.
  • Boy Of The Week: Penny tends to meet a new a-maazhing guy every week. Lampshaded and said word-for-word by Max in the second season finale, who states he's glad he never gets invested in them.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    "All the late Birthday cards. The combo-gifts. The impotence."
  • Break the Cutie: In "Yesandwitch", Penny takes it upon herself to break her incessantly optimistic mother. She immediately has reason to regret it.
  • Breathless Non Sequitur: Dave, while tearing Alex out about leaving him at the altar.
    Dave: I can't believe you got the white trash tourists braids you look like Predator I'm afraid you're gonna rip my spine out and keep my skull as a trophy!
  • Brick Joke:
    • When Max and Dave realize there's a guy living in their ceiling they sneak into his room, and Max comments that he has really nice shirts. Later in the episode Max gives the guy food in exchange for borrowing them.
    • At the beginning of "Bo Fight", Brad and Max are arguing about whether it's harder to be black or gay. At the end of the episode, and after Max and Dave break into Alex's shop, the officer says it was most likely an inside job and immediately suspects Brad, even though Max and Dave are bruised messes. Brad treats it as a victory.
    • In "Party of Six", focusing on Penny's "birthday curse", Dave's former fling tells Alex she slashed the tires on his Altima. Alex mutters he doesn't have an Altima, before getting distracted by something else. Later when the valet brings over Penny's car, it's revealed who does drive an Altima, slashed tires and all.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Jane's Creole accent when drinking. Also Brad's English accent is blended with a Jamaican one. They do this a lot, actually-Dave tends to drop a lot of heavily accented Spanish words, Max slips into a more Camp Gay speech pattern at one point, saying he's spending too much time with Derrick, and Jane and Brad do several accents during their couples improv period.
    • In one episode when finding out about Jane's work-husband Brad adopts a deeper, more aggressive tone, and Jane says "Don't go all Mr. T. on me." Brad responds with a quiet Mr. T-esque growl.
  • Broken Pedestal: Dave realizes that his former favorite high school teacher isn't all that great or in Penny's words, he's a "full-on douche".
  • Bros Before Hoes: Given the gay treatment in the aptly named episode "Bros Before Bros" invoked when Max falls in love with the son of Dave's food truck rival. Later Max tries to make things better by getting the son to talk to his dad about ending the feud, but it backfires because the father invokes "Dads before lads".
    • Also invoked in "The Code War" to some confusion when Max and Dave can't agree its application to a bro dating a gay dude's female ex.
  • Butt-Monkey: The title character of "The Shershow Redemption"-we hear a lot about his past mistakes, but by the time we see him he's gotten his act together. This leads the other characters to appoint Max the new Shershow, although he tries to throw it to Penny. In practice, this trope applies to roughly half of the cast-Max, usually being teased for lacking a job, being 'chubby', and his general inappropriate antics; Penny (who has a cursed birthday and is frequently called dumb by the others) for constantly having relationships end because she's a little too boy crazy; and Dave, for liking 'lame' things like Dave Matthews, getting left at the alter, and generally being a kind of soft, border-line Hippie. Like real people, they take turns with this trope because they usually have their ups and down.
  • But Not Too Gay: We see rather little physical affection between Max and the guys he dates, but he's still on par with Penny in that regard. That aside, the episode Cocktails and Dreams had various characters having sex dreams about Dave, and while Penny and Jane's dreams ended with kisses, Brad's cut away just before. Averted somewhat in the first season, when Dave kisses Max to try and spare him some arranged dates.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard: Penny says that she used to draw attention to her cleavage to get bigger tips during her waitressing days. It's still one of the first things that people notice about her. As Brad says (and it's become something of a catchphrase) "She got them thangs."
  • Call-Back:
    • When Penny learns that Pete's friends are "normal".
      Penny: You mean you've never brought a miniature pig to a car dealership to prove a point about gender roles?! note 
    • In episode 2 of Season 3, Jane recalls a time she got Max a big pinata full of candy, but Dave and Max tried and failed (hilariously) to get it open. Sixteen episodes later, Max finally gets it open-by tossing it out his window and letting it get hit by a car.
    • In episode 21 of Season 3, 'Un-Sabotagable', when Max sees Chase, he drops the slice of pizza he's holding out of surprise & fear. At the end of the episode, Chase is in the hospital for, as he explains, slipping on that piece of pizza and hitting his head.
  • Camp Gay: Derek, an offensively-over-the-top-Sex-and-the-City gay guy that Max finds for Penny so she can be a Fag Hag.
  • Camp Straight:
    • Brad. He likes to twirl. As Alex tells him, "A lot of people think you're on the low". And later on a kerfuffle about "The Code":
      Brad: Oh no he didn’t! Oh no he didn’t just say oh no he didn’t! Yes he did! Girl yo’ lying! Bitch ain’t lying it’s the code, shoo!
    • In later episodes, also Dave, who was apparently a "Groomzilla" during the lead-up to his (aborted) wedding to Alex in the pilot, and was a participant in Little Mister pageants in his youth. In an attempt to find something obviously gay about Max in order to out him to a girl he was "dating" purely for sports and concert tickets, it was revealed that Brad spends thousands of dollars on lotions and creams, while Dave has a binder of mens' goatees (Alex apparently has the gay porn collection). The conclusion: "Max is the least gay of all of us."
  • Candlelit Bath: Dave in Alex's bathroom.
  • Captain Ersatz: Alex takes part in an online sewing class called Situation Walkspace, run by the "second step-cousin" of Tim Gunn.
  • Carcass Sleeping Bag: Referenced on an episode, where Jane and Max have a contest to see who would fare best in a Zombie Apocalypse. At one point Max brags to Jane that "I am using your body as a sleeping bag, tauntaun style."
  • Caught on Tape: Max borrows Jane's nanny-cam (that she uses to keep an eye on Brad, but that Brad uses to his own advantage) to catch Dave sleep-walking and eating his leftovers. Turns out, there's an artist squatting upstairs in their crawl space who's been stealing the food
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • 24 and Love Actually are established as existing in the show's universe, both of which feature Elisha Cuthbert, who plays Alex.
    • Jane once said that she made a "vision-board" in order for the universe to get her what she wants, including Brad. Brad then said that it wasn't really him on her vision-board, but instead it was "one of the guys from In Living Color!" Brad is played by Damon Wayans Jr., and In Living Color starred several members of the Wayans family, including his father (Damon Sr.), aunt (Kim), and uncles (Keenan, Marlon, and Shawn).
  • Characterization Marches On: Several episodes in the first season deal with the aftermath of Dave and Alex's breakup, but over time they settle into being two friends in the same group. Lampshaded when other characters tell Alex about having sex dreams about Dave, and she says Dave is like their brother.
    Brad: Didn't you sleep with him on and off for, like, ten years?
    • Alex originally didn't have any defining character traits, but she's gradually turned into the cute ditz.
  • Character Tics: Dave slaps Max after high-fives.
    Max: Why is that something that you do?
    Dave: It just feels right.
    • Brad dry heaves when he sees someone ready to throw up.
  • Chicago: where the show is set.
    • Among Max's interests: having a Chicago accent.
    • The Bulls, new and old - and especially Scottie Pippen - are referenced numerous times.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Dave and Alex have been friends since they were kids long before the two started dating in college, and though Alex left him at the altar, it is implied she still is in love with him.
    • Likewise Penny had been close friends with Dave, Alex and Jane growing up, and it becomes very apparent and less than subtle that she's had a crush on Dave for as long as she's known him, and that Dave might have slowly building feelings for her as well. Unfortunately due to the cancellation, this remains an UST situation.
  • Chirping Crickets: Alex claims she is too busy running her store to help Brad with a project, then the camera pans out while cricket sounds play over her empty store. It's then subverted when she says that needing to take care of the cricket infestation is why she is so busy.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Inverted, apparently Jane and Alex have an older sister, that didn't appear until the series finale, despite not once being mentioned by the group, whom Dave and Penny, who have been friends with the Kerkovichs for years and Brad would be brother-in-law too, or their parents.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Alex runs a fine line between this and The Ditz, and sometimes merges the two traits.
    Penny: She really does march to the beat of her very slow drummer.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: When the group prank Max by making him think he's won the lottery:
    Max: I'm rich! Whoo! I'm no longer the poor one! I'm not sharing this with any of you! You're all dead to me! Fuck you and fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! Ha! Get your poor hands off of me - I am out of here!
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Jane is finally able to make her father laugh by accidentally knocking herself out while trying to smash a watermelon Gallagher style.
    • Max, especially in 'Big White Lie,' where he joins in Penny's Master Lie For the Evulz.
  • Comic Sutra: Brad explains how Jane refers to sex, but the group's humming blocks it out, so the viewer is just left seeing Brad's gestures and Jane's titillated agreement
    • When they make a bet against each other that they both lose, Jane and Brad are obliged to be each others' servants. As their friends watch, they continue to make identical demands of each other (sandwiches, back rubs) culminating in them simultaneously demanding "clown sex" and scurrying out of the room.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: The group towards Dave and Alex's split
    • Averted by Dave and Alex mending their fences for the good of the group
  • Contrived Coincidence: The events that cause Penny to think she's living in a condo with a spinster curse on it.
  • Control Freak: Jane, such as when she takes over Alex's search for a housemate.
  • Cool Teacher: Subverted when Dave's favorite teacher Mr. Fitzgerald resurfaces. Turns out he's a jerkass sponge who can't remember Dave's name.
  • *Cough* Snark *Cough*: In 'No Ho Ho', Dave and Pete have this exchange about Pete's gift to Penny.
    Dave: *cough* Big mistake! *cough*
    Pete: What?
    Dave: Nothing, I had something caught in my throat...and you're making a big mistake.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Jane, proudly.
  • Curse: "Party of Six" explores Penny's "birthday curse", which dictates her birthday celebrations will never go well. Most traumatically illustrated by a clown who may or may not have died when she was turning seven. In The Tag she declares the curse beaten, only to fall victim to Gypsy Curse immediately after.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: The piglet.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Alex. With a snake of all things.
    Alex(excitedly): I'm gonna name him Tyler!
  • The Dandy: Brad, which Jane finds oddly attractive.
  • Dating Service Disaster
    Brad: So, where'd you two guys meet?
    Todd: J-date. We instantly connected.
    Brad: I thought you had to be Jewish to be on that.
    Todd: I am Jewish.
    Brad: No, I was talking about Penny... is also Jewish! Yeah. Alright, 26-year-old Jew.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Max
    "Night of a thousand comebacks!"
  • Depending on the Writer: A lot of the characters' traits (Alex's dumbness, Dave's douchiness, Brad's metrosexuality, etc.) vary in severity from episode to episode. Perhaps most noticeable is Jane, who in some episodes is simply tightly-wound and type-A and in others is outright emotionally abusive.
  • Description Cut: In "The Shershow Redemption" Penny is upset that her safety, Shershow (who is depicted as a pretty big screw-up) is getting married, but she tries to cover it.
    Penny: Come on, Max, I was never gonna marry that guy. And anybody who would must be busted in la fache. *laughs and agreement from the gang.*
    • Cue Shershow entering with his beautiful fiance.
    Dave: More like awesome in la fache.
    Brad: Damn.
  • The Determinator: Chase, the guy whose life Max ruined. In his second (and ultimately last, due to the show being canceled) episode, he hits his head, falls into a coma and awakens, refusing to die until he gets revenge on Max.
    Chase: But I'm so glad you're here, because I want to tell you something. I don't know where you fall on the existence of an afterlife, but I'm here to tell you there is another place. Its a spiritual realm ruled by powerful yet merciful beings. I was there, Max, and I was headed for sweet, eternal peace. But then I realized: I could not transcend to the next plane until I took care of the unfinished business of this world. The unfinished business of ruining your life. It was you. I came back for you. I have looked deep into the abyss of the next world, and it is beautiful. But before I make that pilgrimage, I will stop at nothing to lay waste to what you so tragically call your life.
  • Digging Yourself And Others Deeper: Everyone but Dave (who just wants to tell the truth) and Max (who joins in for fun) in 'Big White Lie', but especially Penny.
  • Dinner and a Breakup: One episode sees the group go to a Mexican restaurant that Brad hasn't been to in years. He reveals that it was the restaurant he'd always take girlfriends to in order to dump them so that this trope would be downplayed—the furniture was bolted to the floor and couldn't be thrown, all the cutlery was soft plastic, and the mariachi band would play over any yelling. Of course a wrench gets thrown into his plans when Jane points out that he once brought her to the restaurant.
  • Distracting Disambiguation:
    Jane: Didn't you see me making the "opening" gesture?
    Brad: Oh, that's what that was? I thought you were separating two boxing mice.
    Jane: Boxing mice? That's what you thought this *gestures* was?
    Jane: Oh no. Yeah, I see it now.
    Brad: I know, right? What's that mouse's name?
    Jane: Mice Tyson!
    • or
    Alex: I figured it was time to move on, plus I got tired of saying I was a Super Dave Osborne fan.
    Max: What?! How could you get tired of telling people you're a Super Dave Osborne fan?
    Max:... I'm just trying to clear something up in my head as I go over it again. Are you a Super Dave Osborne fan? Or are you tired of telling people you're a Super Dave Osborne fan?
  • Disaster Dominoes: In Dave's mind
    Dave: I'm gonna go out tonight and I'm gonna get absolutely blackout drunk.
    Max: Yes! Let's do it!
    Dave: Maybe I'll meet somebody, you know. I can bring her back here. Somehow convince her to have sex with me on this soiled futon while you sleep nearby.
    Max: Sure, I mean, chicks love a chubby guy sleeping on the floor. Reminds them of prom.
    Dave: Couple months go by, surprise! Herpes. Surprise number two, she's preggo and loves cocaine.
    Max: Okay, you're going to a dark place. Let's turn it around.
    Dave: We try to make it work for a while, but it's only a matter of time before she runs off with a roadie from Pantera. Before you know it, I'm a single dad living in this torture-porn warehouse with my cross-eyed baby Mitchell.
    • Penny's little white lie in 'Big White Lie' ends up having Brad, Jane and Alex getting caught up in her Master Lie From Hell and Max joining in for fun. And to not feel left out.
  • The Ditz: Penny describes Alex as "marching to the beat of her own very slow drummer". Max is also pretty clueless, so shenanigans multiply exponentially when they take on projects together.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: "The Kerkovich Way" basically involves Jane gaslighting Brad. It is, of course, Played for Laughs, which left a sour taste in some viewers' mouths.
  • Driven to Suicide: Penny during her cleanse diet. Naturally this is Played for Laughs.
  • Drunken Master: When Penny gets really drunk, she can speak fluent Italian.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: This comes up a lot In-Universe, often when the gang is piling on someone, only for one person to take it too far. See Spooky Endings, when Jane compares a sick Alex to Brett Butler and gets responses ranging from 'she obviously doesn't feel well', 'that is your sister', 'no one is close enough to high-five you' and 'who's Brett Butler?'
  • Dumb Blonde: Alex. Subverted in "The Straight Dope" when she's shown being able to pick up concepts pretty quickly and in "The Marry Prankster" when she's revealed as the Master Planner behind the prank war. "I'm not as dumb as I am."
  • Eek, a Mouse!!
    Dave: Hello, high voice. Either you're wearing really tight jeans or you have a mouse.
    Alex: Both, and believe me, it was not easy getting up on this chair.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Dave and Alex have matching tattoos with one another's names. Dave (believing Alex has had hers removed) consults a doctor but Alex comes to him at the last minute to show that she didn't remove hers. They try to remove them together, but find it too painful and decide to leave them as a tribute to their friendship.
  • Ensemble Cast
  • Epic Fail: Randy the waiter is completely overconfident in his ability to memorize things that he doesn't ever bother writing stuff down. He ends up losing his job, his girlfriend, and his house as a result. By the end of it all, he's still convinced that he has a brain "like a computer."
  • Establishing Character Moment: The second episode reveals Jane's method of relaxing is to go to what appears to be The Container Store and advise the employees on organising their products.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Brad grows a huge mancrush on Grant.
    • Brad also starts having sex dreams about Dave when he starts drinking Dave's cocktails, just like Penny and Jane.
    • Likewise, everybody-except for Max-thinks Penny's boyfriend Pete is gorgeous, if anything Brad and Dave comment on it more.
  • Everything Is Racist
    Brad: [sees waiter with a tray of food} Okay, here we go. [waiter turns away] Oh, come on! They got here like 20 minutes after us. This is totally 'cause we're black on blonde.
    Brad (again): (Jane crashes the Prius and her airbag deploys) Of course the white lady's airbag deploys.
    • Eventually, he's proven right about one thing-a police officer (who is himself black) in "Grinches be Crazy."
    Jane: Max didn't steal the money. Brad did.
    Cop: Good enough for me. Case closed. [begins leading Brad away.]
    • After the situation is explained...
    Brad: Hold on, hold on. So you were willing to lead me away based on nothing, but Gwyneth Paltrow over here confesses and she just gets it sorted out by talking?
    Cop: I don't make the rules.
    Brad: (Sarcastically) O-kay.
  • Fag Hag: Penny wants to be this to Max. Because of the whole Straight Gay thing it doesn't really work out.
    Penny: I want somebody who goes to brunch with me and touches my boobs in a platonic way!
  • Fake Band: Barefoot Pedaler
  • Fallback Marriage Pact: Penny mentions as having a marriage pact with Butt-Monkey Shershow, who ends up getting married in the first season finale, prompting Penny to fake being engaged to not feel bad about her own singledom.
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot: serves as the basis for one of the season 2 episodes.
  • Firemen Are Hot: Especially to Max, and Jane.
  • Flying Under the Gaydar: Failed hilariously by Max with his parents.
  • Food Fight: An epic one breaks out in "Bros Before Bros" between Dave and the owner of a rival food truck.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Apparently caused by a Gypsy Curse at the end of "Party of Six".
    Max/Alex: Oh my god did we just switch bodies!?
    Penny/Max: Here we GO!
    Dave/Penny: My god, you guys, this pizza is ah-mah-zing.
    Alex/Dave: I'm Dave.
  • Funny Background Event: In "Grinches be Crazy", we get two. First, after Santa!Max has rescued Penny from being mugged, the two talk about how he's actually doing good for a change. While this is happening, the mugger is stealing another woman's purse, while Max says it'll be easy for him to find more chances to do good. The mugger and victim eventually run right past them, but Max and Penny just yell at them for being loud.
    • Later, while Dave and Penny are talking, Alex falls into a giant glass box for charity toys.

  • Gaslighting: The Kerkovich way.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Played for Laughs in the episode "Fowl Play Date", while Penny and Brad are in panic mode because they killed Alex's racist parrot, Penny slaps Brad three times for being stupid/overly dramatic. He has this to say.
    Brad: You know, the first two slaps I get, no notes on the those. But the third, like our ideas were pretty similar. If anything I got us in the area.
    Penny: *Sarcastic slow clap* Congratulations Brad. You pitched an area. *She feints a slap and he flinches in fear.*
  • Gender-Blender Name: Alex (which is short for Alexandra). Noted in "Spooky Endings" when Dave tells a sick Alex, "You don't look like a man. You sound like a man and you have a man's name, and you're wearing the most iconic drag queen costume of all time."
    • Every single one of Jane's exes - she has to spend some time listing which were men and which were women.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: Three boys (Dave, Max, Brad), three girls (Jane, Alex, Penny).
  • Genki Girl/Keet: Alex and Dave are described by some as these. Penny is also a Genki Girl, shouting perhaps as much as she speaks, if not more so.
  • Gilligan Cut: Penny is taking advice from Alex and saying that she is very wise. Then there's a cut of Alex running her helmeted head into a wall to test the helmet.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Brad is relieved and gets excited upon finding out that Jane's visiting ex Ryan is actually a woman, pressing them for details, though he gets insanely jealous again when they reveal they were in love with each other. The end of the episode has Brad spend a long time staring while Ryan and Brad's ex make out with each other.
  • "The Graduate" Homage Shot: The very first scene of the pilot.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Dave becomes this when he gets insanely jealous of how cool everybody else in the group thinks Max's new boyfriend Grant is. Penny has a weird variant in the same episode, when she reacts very similarly to Brad and Jane preferring Max and Grant as "couples friends" over her and her Boy of the Week.
    • Alex and Dave both get jealous of each other in the third season opener when they're trying to keep it cazsh and date other people-they both realize they only want to be with each other.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop:
    Max: Dave, you're scaring us. We haven't seen you today.
    Dave: Really? You're going to try to Groundhog Day me?
    Max: Dave, you're scaring us. We haven't seen you today.
  • Guilty Pleasures: Max reads Japanese Tiger Beat.
    • Brad and Alex both love cliched and formulaic Rom Com movies.
    • "Dude, we said we'd never tell anyone we saw that movie during our not-bummer-summer."
  • Guys are Slobs: Max
  • Gypsy Curse: Double Subverted in The Tag of "Party of Six". Penny declares her previous curse beaten, when a stooped old woman walks up and shouts at her in a vaguely Romani-esque language. It turns out she just wants the salt. Which she pours into her hand and viciously blows in their faces, apparently causing a "Freaky Friday" Flip. There is no obvious motive.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: Penny's 30th (or 26th if you ask her date). Also her 31s (which she calls her 29th).
  • Happily Married: Brad and Jane. Although she did experience some insecurities over the state of her marriage after the break up of Dave and Alex.
    • Played for laughs in the Covid Special "And The Pandemmy Goes To..." as Penny and Max agree to a pseudo Lavender Marriage after Penny's fiancee dumps her on the Zoom call. Max offers to be Penny's husband, since she's been so desperate to no longer be a "spinster", and because they had made a pact that if a global pandemic had hit the world, they would get married. Penny accepts after Max makes it clear that their marriage won't be about sex, therefore they can still have sex with other men, but because they love each other, and Max states he doesn't love anyone more than he loves her. Dave, who is an ordained minister, marries them over the Zoom call.
  • Hates Being Touched: Invoked by Max, but averted when he and Brad do an intricate handshake.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Max used to be like this.
    "My girlfriend Penny is coming. We have a very sexual relationship. We are like two rabbits just doing it all the time. There's so much sex and it's all... hetero."
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Averted with Max and Dave, since Max is gay, but otherwise fits.
    • Brad and Max as well. Brad did tell Max that "he loves him the most."
  • Heroic BSoD: Dave after being left at the altar by Alex. He's drunk, writing depressing thank you cards for the wedding gifts, and ate most of the world's largest chocolate bride. He left the hand to hold on to.
  • Hippie Teacher: Mr. Fitzgerald.
  • Hipster: Penny's date in "Dave of the Dead", leading Max to give Penny hipster lessons
    Max: Hipster Rule number one, never try. Never put effort into anything.
    Penny: Got it. Like a flight attendant.
    Max: ...Hipster Rule number two, only like things ironically. Books, movies, TV shows, the environment.
    Max: ...Hipster Rule number three, never show too much enthusiasm.
    Max: ...Final rule, everything is dumb. If someone says something and you don't understand, you just go, "I'm over it."
    Penny: Froyo, over it. Other stuff, over it.
  • His and Hers: In a Season 1 episode where the gang is doing a Jazz-Kwan Do routine, you can see Brad and Jane in matching Adidas sweatsuits as well as matching Samoa sneakers.
    • Again in "She Got Game Night" when they again dress in matching tracksuits for their Couples Game Night against Penny and Pete (and Max and Scotty).
  • Homage: The end of "The Marry Prankster" is an homage to The Usual Suspects, revealing Alex to be the mastermind of the prank war, complete with a fax to the bar with her face on it, and a closeup of her feet walking as she stops faking the limp she's been putting on for half the episode.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Alex
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: In the Season 3 opener, Alex (who's only slightly below average height) is seen with an enormous, handsome guy named Julian to make Dave jealous.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms:
    Jane: "You and the guys wanna check out some porno? Get some eyes on some thighs? Some peepers on some creepers? Rods and cones on some bras and thongs?"
    • Alex's parents on how Alex must have made Dave feel after walking out on the wedding: "Humiliated, emasculated, embarrassed, castrated". Then the mother asking if the word eunuch can be used as a verb.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Alex makes several of them when she finds out Penny is dating Douglas Hitler.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Max tells the man living in his and Dave's ceiling that stealing is wrong...while wearing one of the guy's "really nice shirts".
    • While Dave is trying to break up with a girl he thought was too clingy at her grandmother's funeral, she turns things around on him, to which he responds, 'Ok I don't think this is really the place to talk about this...'
    • Brad tells Dave not to care about what people think. Dave says if Brad didn't care, he wouldn't have stolen Jane's joke to tell her father. "Do as I say brah, not as I duh."
    • While going on a cleanse, Penny boasts about just ordering water at Rosalita's. The others point out that A: they haven't ordered yet, and B: Its early afternoon, not a weird time to not drink. They then undermine this by ordering a vodka sodes (Jane), a car bomb (Brad) and a table keg (Alex).
    • At one point Dave and Alex are comparing exes-Dave has been with many women since they were broken up (something he even half-bragged about at her parents' anniversary) while Alex simply says one guy felt her up a bit. Dave, of course, can't handle it.
  • I Call Him "Mister Happy": In "Bros Before Bros", Max mentions Chad, which is what he calls his "underpants monster".
  • Incompatible Orientation: Max and Penny are exes and best friends, and in the season three premiere Penny laments that they're perfect for each other. Played for laughs in one episode Alex falls for Max, to everyone's confusion and irritation.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: In "Like Father, Like Gun", Brad's attempt to get his father to say he loves him backfires when he thinks it means he's going to die. Dad then starts "dropping L-bombs" to everything except Brad.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun
    Penny: [regarding Alan's slaw] Sounds slaw-some. *Beat* I don't know why I said that.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink:
    • In one episode, after finding out that her husband Brad had taken her to a restaurant when they were dating, planning to break up with her, Jane says, "I will be at the bar, destroying myself."
    • Again in the Valentine's Day episode, after almost the entire gang have failed to have a good romantic evening, they watch Max leave after reconnecting with his ex-boyfriend Grant.
    Penny: What should we do now?
    Dave: Let's get drunk.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!
    Max: Yeah, this is a classic of boy meets girl, boy loses girl to guy on rollerblades, boy becomes biggest YouTube sensation since "kitten stuck in tuba".
    Dave: It's on YouTube? How many hits?
  • Jerkass:
    • Derek, who goes from Penny's Pet Homosexual to a guy who orders her around and refuses to let her speak. He's more of a Jerkwitha Heartof Gold though-the problems he has with Penny are because they fulfill the same role in the group-girly large Hams. Later episodes have Derek being nicer, and he tends to call Penny a 'stupid clumsy bitch' as a term of endearment.
    • Alan Fitzgerald, Dave's favorite teacher from high school, who tries to scam money off Penny and doesn't follow through on a promise made to Dave.
  • Jewish Mother: Max's match-making mother
  • Kidanova: The Bar Mitzvah episode has Penny being hit on by pre-teen boys the whole time. It turns out they just wanted a ride to the mall, which she found out as she was about to expose herself to them.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In "Spooky Endings", Brad has this to say when talking about Halloween.
    Brad: I cannot wait for this year's monster mash pumpkin bash. The buffets, ugh! The drag queen contest, (gay voice) ok?! The smoking hot girl...*realizes his wife is glaring*..orilla costumes.
    Jane: Yeah, I'm right next to you.
    Brad: Its basically a gorilla costume that's slightly singed, like when you age a document.
    • Other characters do this as well, but Brad the most, like when he gets excited about having honeymoon sex again with Jane, so he can put his keys in her a...ttic. Or when he says, again right next to Jane, that having an assistant is great because they buy anniversary presents for your...mailman.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • When Max suggests why Penny's latest boyfriend may have broken up with her:
      Penny: And then he said he hates when I say Uh-mahzing. But I've barely said that at all this season!
      Max: mean Winter?
      Penny: Yeah. It's more of a summer word.
    • Seems to be a recurring element in Season 2. The episode 'Big White Lies' gives us a line from Max and Dave's landlord that mirrors what some critics and viewers might say about Max's nontraditional portrayal of a gay man. 'Are you? Cause I've been watching you and you don't seem very gay to me...I don't know why I care so much. But I do. I DO!'
    • Then the Season 2 finale gives us two bits, first with Max saying he's glad he doesn't get invested in Penny's 'Boys of the week I only hear about through dialouge.' And then Derek says to the entire group 'I don't have time for this endless bantering! The back and forth, its exhausting, I don't even know what you're saying half the time. So slow down!" Made more funny because Derek's quite the motor mouth himself.
    • The third season episode "Ordinary Extraordinary Love" includes a storyline covering Max's frustration with not being able to find a boyfriend due to not fitting into any of the gay subcultures. This leads to he, Jane and Derek visiting every gay bar in Chicago searching for his gay identity. The montage of bars/subcultures Max does not fit into includes one named "Sitcom Gays".
    • In the third season finale, the appearance of Jane and Alex's previously unmentioned older sister, Brooke:
    Max: I can't believe Jane and Alex have an older sister, I mean, we never see her, we never talk about her, she never shows up in any of your flashbacks.
    Penny: Flashbacks?
    Dave: That's what Jane and Alex call their photo albums.
    Alex: God, Penny. Know what things are called for once.
    • Season 2, Episode 6: Penny abruptly brings up her latest boyfriend in the middle of a different conversation.
    Penny: So guys, things are going great with my new sweetums Keith. Four dates in, all systems go.
    Jane: So we're not doing segues now?
    Penny: No, I gave those up along with gluten.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Dave seems to wear exclusively v-necks, to the point that Alex and Max stage an intervention about it.
    Dave: V-neck season is year-round.
  • Logging onto the Fourth Wall:, which advertises Dave's food truck.
  • Lousy Lovers Are Losers: When Max, Brad, and Penny are complaining about 'thumb-face' Larry, Brad says he doesn't like how he forcibly looks at his shirt tags, Penny doesn't like his repetitive stories, and Max says he's bad in bed. The other gives him a look, shocked that he slept with Larry to know that, and Max weakly tries to pass it off as ...Or So I Heard.
    Max: Yeah, plus he's bad in bed.
    Max: I've heard. From people. Who are me.
  • Love Triangle: As of Season 3 one definitely exists between Dave, Alex and Penny.
  • Lying to Protect Your Feelings: In "Blax, Snakes, Home," Jane goads Alex and Dave to reveal the little lies they told during their failed relationship, including lies to circumvent Alex's poor pet care and Dave's love of frolf. In true sitcom form, they realize hiding a few disagreements kept them from fighting.

  • Ma'am Shock:
    Woman: Excuse me ma'am, are you done with this machine?
    Penny: Ma'am? Ma'am?! I'm going to go bawl my eyes out, and then I'll be back to physically fight you.
    • Brad has the male reaction when his "work-wife" Vanessa explains she thinks of him as her "work-dad", thinking he's forty. Brad protests that he's only 29.
  • Manchild: Dave and Max. One episode revolves around them buying tons of Nerf weapons and playing with them the entire episode.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Dave by Max's parents. Apparently they once found Max's gay porn and he had to blame it on Dave.
    • Alex says a lot of people think Brad is on the downlow.
  • Mistaken for Racist:
    • Penny when she dates a man with the last name "Hitler", but some unfortunate coincidences lead him to think she's some kind of Gestapo fetishist.
      • Penny Hartz Hitler
    • Jane's parents by Brad because it took her six months to tell them she was living with a black man.
    Jane: My parents don't see color, they just see "sleeping with our daughter".
    • Penny again, but in an insincere, white-guilt way when she tries to confront her "crazy grifter" assistant.
    Rita: This is because I'm Mexican. [..] Next you'll be telling me you're not a racist because you have a black friend.
    Penny: But... I do.
    • Alex is a female variant. This is best exemplified when she is made the flower girl at her sister Brooke's wedding and is generally treated the way a small child would be, a fact she seems completely comfortable with.
  • Mixed Ancestry is Attractive: Max tells Dave that his and Jane's kids are going to look great because "half-Black is God's photoshop".
  • Mixed Metaphor:
    Alex: "He could be your soul mate, your kindred spirit, your One Tree Hill."
    Penny: "That's not the saying, but you're right."
  • More Dakka: When Dave and Max start procuring Nerf weapons.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Dave is convinced he invented the "down low too slow," and is clearly traumatized when he hears that it's been played on Max.
  • My Nayme Is: The girl Dave dates in "The Quicksand Girlfriend" makes it clear her name is Undrea.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Daphne Wilson does this when she's trying to make plans with Penny. It's part of her generally irritating friendly personality, and goes along with her tendency to invite herself to join the gang and be oblivious to little white lie excuses.
  • Noodle Implement: Jane and Brad (and Max's) mysterious "sinful drawers" in the Christmas-themed "Grinches Be Crazy" from season 2. Recurs throughout the episode, but culminates in the following:
    Brad: Alright, I'm gonna get the money back from Gita... and you're gonna go to the drawer and think of ways to make this up to me.
    Jane: (excited whisper) I have so many ideas!
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Max's crazy friend Scotty referees the Rosalita's Run scavenger hunt because he has a referee outfit from when he 'pulled off that elaborate Foot Locker heist.'
    • Max told a (possibly untrue) story about "his dad and the ice tray" at various self help groups.
    • He also, thanks to various schemes, owes the rest of the group $11,000 and three cats.
    Max: You'll get those cats when you get those cats, Jane!
  • Offscreen Teleportation: All Kerkovich women can do this. It is the Kerkovich Way.
  • Older Than They Look: Dave's date, Jackie, in "Pilot"
    Jackie: I can't wait until I'm 26. I feel like no one takes you seriously when you're in high school.
  • Once a Season: Every season ends on a wedding. In season 1 it's the group's mutual friend Shershow, and in season 2 it's recurring Pet Homosexual Derrick. Season 3 plays with it near the end - the audience is lead to believe it will be Penny and Pete, but then Penny dumps him. Then Penny's mother and Dave's father, who are dating, show up and hint at a wedding, only to say they're actually adopting a child. At the end it turns out to be Alex and Jane's never-before-seen sister Brooke.
    • Also about once per season: Max vs Jane competition.
    Alex: Not another dumb competition that nobody cares about!
    Max: Jane and I are not going to do one of our stupid competitions, it's just... (bolts for the door)
    Jane: (tackling Max) No! Get back here, you gay!
  • Old Maid: Penny's fear
    Todd: Wait, are you thirty? Or are you twenty-six?
    Penny: I'm thirty, and I'm Catholic, and I'm gonna die alone in a light-up Christmas sweater talking to a menagerie of parrots.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Max does this because Penny is in a relationship and he feels like the fifth wheel.
  • Opposites Attract: Invoked, but averted with Alex and Dave. A storyline ends up with Dave claiming they make a great couple because she's impulsive while he is more grounded, the other characters immediately point out that he also makes a lot of impulsive dumb choices.
  • Orphaned Punchline: "To Serb with Love" has Jane creating a joke tailored to her otherwise humorless father's specific interests of World War II, Chicago Bears, bass fishing, Chevy Chase and old-timey slide projectors. The joke is told twice, but the audience only gets the punchline each time: "... so, Mike Ditka, former Bears coach, is in a Sherman tank, and he is holding a fish, a bass, and then he says 'next slide, please.'"
  • Overly Long Gag: One episode has Dave and Alex, who are hesitant to move in together, look at a lot of houses and make up excuses to not to decide to rent it.
  • Paying in Coins: Max has to pay rent in pennies, pouring them out of a jug into the landlord's desk, because he had no job. At the end of the episode, he offers to pay for dinner after winning a lot of money, but pours out pennies from the same jug, because "pennies are the only currency I trust."
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: "Chicksand". "Trove"-Trash Stove, it cooks trash briskets or 'Triskets'
    • Gaycist
    • "I'll be your guy guide - your guyde.""
  • Precision F-Strike: Alex delivers one after spending an entire Christmas without opening presents.
    "Just open the ***ing gift Penny."
  • Pretentious Pronunciation: Dave has a relationship with a woman who insists her name is pronounced "Uh-ndrea," prompting Max to introduce the bro-trio to her as "Mox, Braid, and Dove"
    • Max introduces his new friend Nicole an "Nickel" to make Penny jealous, as a nickel is worth 5 times as much as a penny. He also instructs 'Nickel' to pronounce the word 'scathing' like 'scaa-thing', to make her more like Penny.
  • Pretty in Mink: Looking through their grandmother's stuff, the girls find a white fur wrap and a leopard print fur. Alex wears the latter.
  • Punny Name: Dave's food truck is named Steak Me Home Tonight.
  • Racist Grandma: Nana Kerkovich. Big time-not just against non-whites, but against pretty much anyone who isn't a like-minded Serbian.
  • Rapid-Fire Comedy: One of the show's distinctive characteristics that helps differentiate it from its spiritual predecessor Friends.
  • Reference Overdosed: At least every other sentence spoken has some pop culture reference.
  • Reset Button:
    • Alex wanting a roommate. When she found one, it turned out to be another case of bad judgment on Alex's part.
    • Max's flirtation with Ian ended abruptly at the end of the episode after we find out Ian is married
  • Rocky Roll Call: The original foursome
    Brad: "Roll call! Brad, Jane, Dave, Alex."
    Max:' "Max!"
  • Roommate Com: Two of the characters, Brad and Jane, are married and never stray throughout the series. Everyone else is single, and the impetus of the series is Alex leaving Dave at the altar, which temporarily makes things awkward for their friends. It also leaves them free to see other people (although they're back together in parts of S2 and 3.) Max goes through a lot of guys, as does Penny, although she's engaged for a big part of S3.
  • Rule of Three: Invoked by Max and Brad, while going to support groups to get free food, they go first to an AA meeting so Max can get donuts (which is Truth in Television-alcoholics crave sugar), they then go to an overeater's support group so Brad can eat healthy. Then they look at each other and say "Should we do one more?", before heading to a sex addict's group.
  • Runaway Bride: Alex, in the very first scene.
  • Running Gag: Dave doesn't do well on camera. Alex as a Big Eater. Max consistently finding improbable jobs. Penny's comedic head injuries, eventually lampshaded by her having to wear a prescription helmet.

  • Serious Business: The fist bump, according to Max. It wasn't the first time he had been "handshake betrayed."
  • Sex with the Ex: Dave and Alex go through this in a later episode of Season 2.
  • Share Phrase: Characters will often say 'real talk' to emphasize what they're saying.
  • Shirtless Scene: Dave and Max have had some of these, usually Played for Laughs.
    • The girls purposely invoke one with Grant, when Penny "accidentally" spills soda on him.
  • Shout-Out: The excess of examples means they have their own subpage.
  • The Slacker: Max, he's unemployed for most of the series, although he does tend to expend a lot of effort in things that really shouldn't require it.
  • Soft Glass: Penny accidentally walks through a glass window in a car dealership. The glass shatters fully, but she doesn't get a single scratch. There's a Brick Joke later in the same episode, when she walks through the same window again - only this time, it's covered with a plastic sheet.
  • Spit Take
    • Dave when he finds out that his date, Jackie, is still in high school.
    • Invoked by Max in "Dave of the Dead"
    "I did that double spit take to illustrate how insane you sound right now."
    • Max, again, in Season 3, episode 2 does a triple spit take.
  • Straight Gay: Max.
    • Lampshaded in Season 3's "The Straight Dope".
      Penny: All right. What are the gay things Max does?
      Brad: Okay. Hmm... Oh! Doesn't he spend hundreds of dollars on lotions and creams? No, that's me.
      Penny: Oh, what about that binder he has full of pictures with men's goatees?
      Brad: That's Dave. But he does have that giant collection of gay porno.
      Penny: Weirdly, that's Alex.
      Brad: Oh.
      Penny: And everyone time I ask her why, she just says, "Hey, I don't smoke, but I have ashtrays".
      Brad: You know, I'm starting to think that Max is the least gay of all of us. What a fresh character!
  • Stylistic Suck: Dave's original commercial for his steak truck, complete with bad acting.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: Played with in the episode "The Marry Prankster", Brad is singing a song about himself, but his name doesn't quite fit.
    Who's got a job?
    Bob's got a job
    Bob rhymes with job much better than Brad
    So I switched the name, but you know what I mean
    I got a job, job, a j-o-b!
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial
    Alex: No, I was just picking up a normal amount of to-go food for one person, and I didn't eat half in the cab and the other half in bed.
    Penny: No one said you did.
    Alex: Good, cause I didn't!
  • Take That!
    • Max declares Up in the Air was overrated.
      Dave: What, no? I mean, yeah, of course it was. Who's gonna believe that Clooney's gonna be alone at that age?
    • Lori Petty
      Dave: I'm doing lots of stuff: taking online yoga, meeting great people. They're calling me Bodhi, which is awesome, 'cause of Point Break. I've been watching that a lot. Totally holds up. What happened to Lori Petty, right?
    • Max saying Nicole is "like crazy stupid love crazy, not she loved Crazy, Stupid, Love crazy. She's not a psycho."
    • Phil McGraw
      Penny: The only people who can get away with being mean are rock stars, brain surgeons, and Mr. Phil.
      Jane: You mean Doctor Phil.
      Penny: Come on, it's a PhD. Everybody caaalm down.
    • Anne Hathaway
      Derrick: You're like Anne Hathaway's accents - you're all over the place.
  • That Came Out Wrong
    Dave: All right, that one was a little forced.
    Alex: Maybe you should force yourself onto a girl. I'm not good at these games.
    • From another episode:
    Dave: "Women. You wouldn't know a real man if one came up to you and slapped you in the face." (Beat) "I meant that in a figure of speech kind of way, not a domestic violence kind of way."
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!
    • "Namaste, bitches."
    • "Front row tickets to Gaga, bitches!"
    • "Bitch, it is five thirty!"
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: Well, not time travel, but when Max shows everyone a videotape of him about to come out of the closet (on what he thinks will be national television), but they're wrapped up in their own drama, he snaps, "You guys are being very insensitive to what I'm going through right now ten years ago!"
  • Token Minority Couple: Brad sets up Max with his gay coworker based purely on the fact that they're both gay. Max calls it "gaycism".
  • Too Dumb to Live: Brad's mailman is killed when he attacks a polar bear in the zoo because he thought the polar bear was dissing him.
  • Trojan Horse: Subverted when Jane is trying to get back into the wedding expo in "Our Best Friend's Wedding". She sees a large display labeled "Trojan Horse Limousine Service", complete with wooden horse styling, about to be wheeled into the expo, with drapes that seem to be big enough to cover a person. Cut to the horse going through the which point Jane loudly rushes the checkpoint from stage left and is immediately taken down by a guard.
  • Unconfessed Unemployment: Brad briefly hides his unemployment from Jane at the end of the second season. When he gets a new job he ends up hiding that from her as well for 3 weeks because Jane had enjoyed having him at home.
  • Undisclosed Funds: Jane's salary negotiation with the Car Czar takes place entirely on small pieces of paper. Jane, of course, had these prepared before she even knew the Car Czar wanted to hire her.
  • The Unreveal: In-universe. Max finally gets to show the gang the video of him coming out for the first time on an unreleased season of The Real World. But since his mouth was full of food when he said "I'm gay", it was subtitled as "I'm Greg".
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Quaint? Isn't that that space between a gal's goal and her penalty box?"
    • Genius Bonus in that "queynte" used to have the double meaning of "quaint" and, well, Country Matters.
    • Some of the gang also use celebrity names as stand in for curse words, see: "CCH Pounder!" "F. Murray Abraham!" and "What in the Wyclef Jean is this?"
  • Ventriloquism: In "Cazsh Dummy Spillionaires" Brad takes a break from work to polish his act.
    Sinbrad: That girl so whack her first name oughta be "Knickknackpatty!
  • Waxing Lyrical: Penny once comments that "I don't want no scrub; a scrub is a guy that don't get no love from me."
    • On another occasion:
    Penny: You're so vain, I bet you think this sweater's about you
    Max: Don't you! Don't you dare making that reference!
  • Wedding Deadline: In the beginning.
  • What Would X Do?: Regarding Steven Seagal
    Dave: Just tell me one thing: what would Seagal do in this situation?
    Max: Well, I think it's pretty cut and dry. He'd fly over to Bo's house on an eagle, tear his throat out, use it as a dreamcatcher, and then ride away on a polar bear.
  • What Were They Selling Again?: Dave's Steak Me Home Tonight commercial. He didn't even mention the truck.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Max to spiders. It's his third biggest phobia behind public speaking and drag queens with no makeup.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Alex and Dave seem to be on the verge of getting back together as the first season progresses but a held back by the fear that they will repeat the same mistakes that led to the original breakup.
    • In addition to hinting at a possible Penny/Dave hook-up, in Season 2 Dave and Alex do sleep together, although they agree to move past it immediately after, not wanting to threaten their friendship. The season 2 finale does end with them hinting at a rekindled attraction, and holding hands at the end of the episode.
    • As of season 3 they are back together and are moving in together; though everyone else thinks it's a bad idea, the two are in denial. Penny's attraction to Dave has been hinted.
    • In the final episode Dave and Alex reveal that they have broken up again, though this time it's amicable and mutual. The possibility of Penny being attracted to Dave was never followed up.
  • World of Pun: Puns are all over the place in this show, from one shot nicknames to rapid exchanges. See "Full Court Dress" when Brad's mailman Drew is referred to as a 'drewd', 'drew-tang-clan'. Brad is probably the biggest exponent of this, from calling Grant 'Grant-tastic voyage', to the montage of his nicknames for his coworker Vanessa. Also, Dave in "Storm Before the Calm"
    Brad: Vanessa Crunch, Vanessacary Roughness, Vanessticals, the Vanessa Monologues, Vanasterbate, Its Ms. Jackson if you're Vanasty.
    Dave: "Prometheus? More like amateur-metheus." "Brigadoon? More like Brigadon't." "Black Plague? More like hack plague." "Ok, I'll Briga-do it."
  • Xenafication: Jane during Krav Maga and Penny after Jazz Kwon-Do.
  • You Are Fat: This is the go-to insult used against Max, whose body is basically just average. Examples include 'like if Paul Rudd gave up','you have my mother's body', 'pear-shaped', and having a 'soft interior with a soft exterior,' and many more.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: Jane, as Max's beard, much to his parents' dismay
  • Your Costume Needs Work: Alex loses a drag contest to Max.
  • Zany Scheme: The plot of most episodes. Lampshaded in "The Ex Factor" when Penny meets Pete's friends, and is shocked when they are able to avoid such things.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Max and Jane get into a dispute leading to a Zombie Apocalypse Olympics that tests athletic prowess, ability to be still, aim, and ruthlessness. Jane wins by demonstrating ruthlessness in pushing Max out in front of a group of hungry, hungry hipsters.