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Series / I Love Lucy

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"I love Lucy and she loves me.
We're as happy as two can be.
Sometimes we quarrel but then, ha-ha!
How we love making up again.
Lucy kisses like no one can.
She's my missus and I'm her man,
And life is heaven you see,
'Cause I love Lucy, yes, I love Lucy
And Lucy...loves me!"
Ricky Ricardo, serenading Lucy in "Lucy's Last Birthday"

I Love Lucy was a groundbreaking sitcom from the husband-and-wife creative team of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, under the auspices of their studio, Desilu Productions, running from 1951-1957. The show follows a young married couple, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, played by and loosely based on Ball and Arnaz themselves, through a series of wacky misadventures.

The show's plot often hinged on Lucy trying to convince her bandleader husband Ricky (played by Arnaz) to let her appear in his mambo-centric variety show. Ricky insists on his wife remaining home to do wife things because he wants her to give him a quiet home life and she has serious delusions of talent. Lucy usually comes up with a Zany Scheme to subvert his authority, by either making her own money or sneaking into the show. Hilarity Ensues (and this time, it really means it), and a lot of the humor in the episodes' last acts are built around Lucille Ball's gift for physical comedy.

Ethel Mertz and her husband Fred, Lucy's neighbors and landlords (and in Fred's case, Ricky's sometimes business manager), round out the central cast. An old married couple who can't stand one another, Fred and Ethel are former vaudevillians that Ricky is more willing to bring into his show, super-charging Lucy's insecurities by leaving her the only member of the gang not in show biz. Ethel is often be the unwilling sidekick to Lucy's harebrained schemes, and Fred is often the muscle for Ricky's. Several episodes focus on the friendship and male/female divisions between the Ricardos and Mertzes, with just as many episode plots being about bets or challenges the group takes on after observing a problem.

The show is popularly credited with featuring the first "inter-racial" or "inter-ethnic" couple on American television. Mind you, it wasn't viewed that way at the time. Until the late '60s, Hispanics were not considered a separate racial group; they were just "foreigners", and a lot of humor between Lucy and Ricky was in their cultural dissonance or in Ricky's funny accent. By today's standards, however, Lucy and Ricky were the first inter-ethnic married couple on TV. note 

The show was filmed, which was a big deal in 1951. At the time, most TV shows were "archived", mainly as a receipt to show sponsors their ads had run, via kinescope which is simply a movie camera taking footage of a TV displaying the show's live broadcast. Obviously, this produces really crummy-looking video; that's why most shows from the early '50s have either been lost or are of very little interest for reuse (videotape didn't become available until 1956). I Love Lucy, by contrast, was able to use not being broadcast live to its full advantage. Desi Arnaz invented the live studio Three Cameras technique (still standard in sitcoms to this day), with lighting innovations from cinematographer Karl Freund making the show look good at any angle. This show also invented the Rerun: when Lucille Ball became pregnant and needed a reduction in her workload, Desi came up with the idea of showing a previously-aired-but-much-loved episode instead of something new, which was only possible because Desilu had taken the trouble to film the original broadcast in the first place. "Reruns?" CBS scoffed, "It Will Never Catch On." Well, the laugh's on them; I Love Lucy has been on the air literally non-stop since it was first produced. Television historians have noted that since its original airing, the show has continuously been in syndication somewhere in the world. And because CBS in their shortsightedness signed all rebroadcast rights over to Desi, this has made Ball's and Arnaz's estates filthy stinking rich.

It has erroneously been called the first television sitcom to deal with the subject of pregnancy and delivery. This is incorrect, as Mary Kay and Johnny, the first television sitcom in the United States, had tackled the subject four years earlier. Nonetheless, it was still a very sensitive topic at the time, and the Moral Guardians were horrified. Viewer reaction was actually quite positive, and the episode where Lucy gives birth broke the all-time viewer record up to that point, out-performing the presidential inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower the day after. Because they couldn't actually say "pregnant" on air, they instead popularized the euphemism "expecting", while the episode title was a Bilingual Bonus ("Lucy Is Enceinte").

After the regular series ended in 1957, the cast carried on with The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour specials — essentially double-length "I Love Lucy" episodes with greater emphasis on famous guest stars and exotic locations. These are often considered to be inferior to the original series, and the later episodes particularly suffered from the rapid deterioration of Lucy and Desi's marriage – they divorced shortly after the final Comedy Hour episode wrapped. Over the following decades, Lucy was able to carry on the premise (if not the exact same character) on her own with The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy, and Life with Lucy.

In short, this show was responsible for more tropes than anything on television before or since (excepting perhaps Star Trek, which by the way was also originally produced by Desilu Studios). As noted above, it has not stopped airing since October 15, 1951. The entire reason that The Oldest Ones in the Book super-index has a cutoff date of November 8, 1960, is to include the complete first run of this pioneering series (which, including the Comedy Hour retool, lasted until April 1 of that year).

Since 2013, CBS has begun to air some of the most iconic episodes in color, usually around the holidays. However, the black and white versions remain widely available on home video, and in other channels' reruns.

The 2021 biopic Being the Ricardos is about the relationship between Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz at the time of the show.

This show provides examples (often the very first examples) of:

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  • 555: This show simultaneously uses yet predates it – the modern American telephone system only came into being four years earlier and took still longer for its effects to percolate down. All but the most-local calls were often still accomplished through a live operator. New York City in particular used a unique method of designating calling areas within the city, which this show lampoons.
    • On multiple occasions, the phone number for the Ricardos' apartment is stated to be Murray Hill5-9099.
      • When they're in Italy, they place an overseas call to the number.
      • In the earlier episode "Getting Ready" (one of the episodes leading up to the California trip) Lucy uses Murray Hill5-9099 as a fake number she gives to the car lot guy who sold Fred the old Cadillac.
    • In "The Million Dollar Idea", the phone number given to order "Aunt Martha's Old Fashioned Salad Dressing" is Circle7-2099
    • 99% of a Continuity Nod to the episode in which Lucy gives birth, in which Ricky calls Circle1-2099 for Fred to bring his make-up case.
    • The address of their apartment building, 623 East 68th Street, is a really exclusive neighborhood, as it places the building in the middle of the East River.
  • Absent Animal Companion: "The Diet" in Season 1 shows that Ethel and Fred have a dog, to give Lucy a rival for the delicious dinner she can't eat. The dog never appears or gets mentioned again in the series.
  • Abuse Mistake: The episode "The Black Eye" revolves around Lucy getting a black eye after Ricky tries to toss her a thriller book they were acting out, but it ends up hitting her in the face. Fred and Ethel are both convinced, hearing the lurid performance of the book, that they got into a fight and he slugged her, refusing to believe them when they say it was just an accident. Things get resolved when the same unusual accident befalls the Mertzes.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Lucy's mother constantly calls Ricky "Mickey" (and, on at least one occasion, "Xavier")note . At one point, she tells her daughter she couldn't find her in the phone book. She was looking under "Richardson." It might actually be Malicious Misnaming, though, since she correctly calls their son "Little Ricky". Lampshaded with Ricky saying: "How do you like that? He's Little Ricky and I'm Big Mickey."
  • Accidental Truth:
    • In "Ricky's Old Girl Friend", Ricky conjures a memorable ex, Carlota Romero, to tease Lucy a little bit, only for things to get tricky for him when it turns out that the papers the next day are advertising Cuban performer Carlota Romero having a show nearby, and sending Lucy into an insecure jealous panic where she fears Ricky will leave her for Carlota. It turns out Carlota and Ricky really were acquaintances and Ricky had totally forgotten the name was someone he actually knew. Lucky for Lucy, Carlota is no longer the gorgeous young bombshell she had been so worried about.
    • Several episodes use this as a twist after a ridiculous scheme is played out, like "Franistan" turning out to be a real country in political turmoil, Grace Foster actually cheating with the milkman, or real Martians coming after Lucy and Ethel after their publicity stunt as Martian women. These end up revealed as counter-schemes set up to get even with the first scheme.
  • Acme Products: In "The French Revue", the only words Fred can read on a French restaurant's menu is 'Acme Printing Service'.
  • After Show: The The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour was produced afterward and served as the final I Love Lucy stories.
  • Age Insecurity: Lucy generally skirts around her age in conversation. In one episode, Lucy can't find her birth certificate to get her passport, so she tracks down her childhood babysitter to vouch for her age while getting some forms signed. The other woman's husband happens to be a notary, but as soon as he sees the age Lucy is, he refuses to sign the forms. It then becomes clear the woman has been lying about her age, as according to her husband, she's younger than Lucy and therefore could not have been her babysitter and he cannot sign off on a lie. Lucy is understandably upset when the woman continues to lie about her age.
  • All Just a Dream: Pretty much the entire episode "Lucy Goes to Scotland", save for the opening and very end.
  • Animated Credits Opening: In the original US run, where these openings integrated the sponsor's product with stick figures of Lucy and Ricky. It wasn't until syndication that the famous "heart on satin" opening was used.
  • Appeal to Obscurity: In "The Benefit", Ethel expresses her disappointment that Lucy will be performing at her club benefit instead of Ricky.
    Ethel: It's like expecting Clark Gable and getting Hubert Grimstadt.
    Lucy: Hubert Grimstadt? I never heard of him.
    Ethel: Exactly!
  • Apology Gift:
    • In "The Black Eye", Fred tries to play peacemaker between a quarreling Lucy and Ricky, by having a bouquet of roses and a box of candy delivered to Lucy on Ricky's behalf. He accidentally signs the romantic note with his own name, earning Ricky's ire when he sees the note and getting Fred a black eye of his own.
    • In another episode we find out Ricky keeps a box of chocolate in the back of the closet complete with gift tags for Christmas, anniversaries, Valentines and other various holidays for times he forgot to get a gift… including a generic 'forgive me for what I did' card. Mistakenly having given it to Lucy, he takes it back.
    Lucy: You certainly don't think I'll be surprised now.
    Ricky: You might. These chocolates are three years old!
  • Artistic License – Geography: In “Lucy’s Club Dance”, Lucy attempts to steal all the newspapers from their local newsstand before Ricky can read an inaccurate article about himself. The Roseland Ballroom can be seen on the canvas flat behind the newsstand. In actuality, Roseland Ballroom was located on the west side of Manhattan, all the way across town from where the Ricardos lived on the east side.
  • As Himself: There were a lot of guest stars over the course of 170 episodes.
    • The list of celebrities appearing as themselves – everyone from Hedda Hopper to Bob Hope to Orson Welles. By the time of the After Show Comedy Hour, Lucy was so jaded at meeting celebrities, one episode had her scheming to get rid of a famous couple so she and Ricky could vacation alone.
    • A variation: in "Lucy and Superman", George Reeves is always referred to only as Superman, even when it is just the adults talking among themselves. This was most likely so as not to ruin the magic for kids watching the episode, but it also stands as a sad reminder of the typecasting that led to the actor's downfall.
  • Assembly Line Fast-Forward: The Trope Codifier, from the famous chocolate factory scene. When working wrapping candies, Lucy and Ethel already struggle and fail to keep pace with the belt, and, due to mishaps at their last stations, have been threatened with termination if even a single candy passes through to the next room unwrapped. This results in the girls pulling candies off the belt and stuffing them into their jackets, hats, and mouths. Then the forewoman comes back in, thinks they're doing a great job, and orders the belt to speed up...
  • Audio Adaptation: There was a brief attempt to adapt I Love Lucy as a radio show – a little ironic considering the concept started as a radio show years earlier – but after a single unaired trial episode was produced (using the same script as the TV episode "Breaking the Lease", fleshed out with descriptive narration from Arnaz as Ricky), the idea was abandoned. However, the radio pilot did have one positive effect: CBS executives had worried that Arnaz's accent was too thick for American audiences to understand. Hearing the radio pilot convinced them that his accent wasn't as thick and undecipherable as they had originally feared.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Fred and Ethel have a number of these moments, for all their bickering and back-and-forth nagging. In fact, it reaches hilarious proportions in one episode, where Ricky is entertaining on a cruise ship; in earlier episodes with scenes set near large bodies of water, Fred mentions his seasickness (and once even got woozy on a ship that was tied off at the dock). However, Fred suddenly does a 180-degree turn and actually becomes a romantic. Ethel is actually concerned about Fred's unusual behavior at first, but is eventually entranced at the idea of her and Fred having a second honeymoon, and they spend the rest of the episode enjoying various activities on the ship in a lovey-dovey manner. Their actors, however, are well-known to have truly disliked each other behind the scenes, making the Mertzes' constant jibes more authentic in truth than their romance.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: In "The Amateur Hour," Lucy is in need of money. She finds a babysitting job that pays five dollars an hour (a large sum in the 1950s). Suspicious, she asks why she is being paid so much but is only told that she'll be taking care of a little boy. When he arrives, Lucy is confused and begins to doubt her sanity when it seems like the boy is completely contradicting moments previously, moving alarmingly quickly to new spots, and not remembering things Lucy just did. The audience is alerted earlier than Lucy that there are actually two boys, twin brothers who the mother sneaks in under the guise there's one boy because she knows no babysitter would take both. They prove extremely difficult to deal with, constantly kicking her and at one point attempting to burn her at the stake while playing Cowboys and Indians.
  • Ballet Episode: "The Ballet," which centers on Lucy trying her hand at ballet. She ends up being better at slapstick comedy.
  • "Bang!" Flag Gun: In the episode "Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying To Murder Her," Lucy mistakes one of these for a real gun and thinks Ricky is going to use it on her. All is revealed at the end when he pulls the trigger.
  • Baseball Episode: "Lucy Meets Bob Hope" takes place in a baseball setting.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: In "Fred and Ethel Fight," Lucy uses one to escape from a (unbeknownst to her, falsified) fire that Ricky and Fred set up to stage a heroic rescue that could end their fight. Unfortunately, she fails to tie it to anything and falls out the window. This is also while wearing body casts she put on during her own scheme to fake a bus accident in her own plan to stage her own scenario to end the fight!
  • Bickering Couple, Peaceful Couple: The Mertzes (bickering) and Ricardos (peaceful). The intention was to show two phases of marriage—young and love (Ricardos) and older and tired of it (Mertzes).
  • Big Applesauce: Most of the original series takes place in New York City, except for three different trips.note  During the final season, the Ricardos and Mertzes moved to a small town in Connecticut.
  • Big Eater: Ethel, who is the butt of quite a few "fat" jokes from Fred. Rather hypocritical of him really, since, despite Ethel's enormous appetite, he is actually much more overweight.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Desi Arnaz really was from Havana, so Ricky often ranted in Spanish, which was nice for Spanish speakers… if they could get past his thick Cuban accent.note 
    • In "Ricky Minds the Baby" in which Ricky acts out the bedtime story "Little Red Riding Hood" to Little Ricky for 2 minutes using less than 10 words in English such as "hunter", "hello" and "Oh, my!".note 
    • An entire scene in "Paris At Last" is all about this trope: Lucy mistakenly passes counterfeit bills and gets arrested by Parisian police, but can't explain the situation because no one speaks English. She enlists the aid of Ricky, who speaks English and Spanish; the jail's drunk, who speaks Spanish and German; and a French officer, who speaks German and French; to translate her story for the sergeant who only speaks French. Watch the scene here (with Portuguese subtitles for an added bonus)
  • Billed Above the Title: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in all versions of the opening credits. In the original first-run openings, they would be announced as follows: "[Sponsor] presents the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show I Love Lucy".
  • Bland-Name Product: Phillip Morris had the writers change "Lucky Bucks" to "Bonus Bucks" out of fear viewers would think of competitor Lucky Strike.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Carolyn Appleby, as demonstrated in one of the L.A. episodes, "Harpo Marx".
  • Book Ends:
    • The Europe trip is bookended by two variations of the 'Why don't you think I'd believe that?' gag - Ricky saying it about Lucy getting locked in the trunk, and Frank Nelson's Customs Agent saying it about what Lucy and Ethel did with the 25 lbs of cheese on the plane.
    • The Hollywood trip is bookended by two instances of three of them ganging up on the fourth… Ricky, Lucy and Fred teaming up to make Ethel look like a fool to her hometown just before reaching L.A. And Ricky, Fred and Ethel teaming up to guilt Lucy out of accepting a year's show business contract...nothing big, just what she always dreamed of, just before leaving.
  • Borrowed Catch Phrase: Lucy's "Eeeeeew!" in "The Ricardos Move Apartments" by Fred and Ethel simultaneously with Lucy when they find out Ricky had a bunch of movers come over and switch all the furniture in the apartments without telling them.
  • British Royal Guards: The European vacation story arc during the show's fifth season begins in London where Lucy visits Buckingham Palace and misses out on seeing the Queen when she becomes preoccupied with desperately attempting to get a guard to crack a smile. The scene ends with the Changing of the Guard. If one looks really closely, one can see the guard's lips curling up slightly.
  • Butt-Monkey: Everyone at one point or another, usually Ethel at the hands of Lucy, Lucy at the hands of Ricky, Ricky at the hands of Lucy, or Fred at the hands of everyone.
  • Calvinball: In the episode "The Golf Game," Lucy and Ethel want to take up golf, and ask Fred and Ricky how to play. The men don't want their wives following them around the golf course, so they try to discourage them by inventing a set of crazy and overly complex instructions for play. The girls get back at the boys by convincing a famous golf pro to play exactly the way the boys taught them, leaving Fred and Ricky convinced they'd been playing the game wrong all these years.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Lucy. The infamous "Vitameatavegamin Girl" bit where Lucy gets drunk from the alcohol in the medicine after repeated takes. In her defense, it was 23% alcohol by volume – not proof, percent (46 proof).note 
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live Without Them: When Lucy is getting up to yet another Zany Scheme, her husband Ricky remarks, "Women. Can't live with 'em, but it sure would be hard to live without 'em." Fred — who has a No Accounting for Taste marriage with Ethel — adds, "You could still try."
  • The Cast Showoff:invoked All four leads, at various times. Justified in-show, as Ricky is a bandleader/singer, the Mertzes are former vaudeville hoofers, and Lucy aspires to a career in showbiz and showcases some genuine talent even as plots typically revolve around her talent deficits.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Lucy, you got some splainin' to do." - Ricky, despite being something of a Beam Me Up, Scotty!. "Waaaaaah" or "Ewwwww" by Lucy and "Oh, for corn's sake!" for Fred are more accurate.
    • "Aye-yi-yi-yi-yi!" for Ricky. In one of the England shows, he translates it as 'Blimey!' to a confused Englishman. Hilariously, later on, it turns out the phrase needs no translation for Italian.
  • Celebrity Lie: In "Harpo Marx", Lucy had been bragging in letters to Carolyn Appleby about all the celebrities she's been hanging out with in Hollywood, even promising to produce some when she comes out for a visit. When Ricky refuses to help, though, Lucy schemes to have near-sighted Carolyn lose her glasses and then to pose as various celebrities. Meanwhile, Ricky bumps into the real Harpo and asks him to pay the girls a visit.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In an early episode Lucy mistakenly mentions Tennessee Ernie when trying to reference Tennessee Williams. Later Cousin Ernie visits (and hangs on, and shows up again in Season 4).
  • Character Development: Of the four of them, mostly Fred. While they all retain consistent personalities throughout the entire series, Fred comes off as a Defrosting Ice King, as his grumpy and cantankerous demeanor slowly mellows with each season; watch any episode from the first season then compare to one from the last couple of seasons, and you'll notice a difference.
  • Cheating with the Milkman: To entice Lucy and Ethel to gossip and lose their ongoing bet, Ricky and Fred falsify a rumor (by pretending to sleep-talk) about neighbor Grace Foster having an affair with the milkman while Mr. Foster is away.
  • The Chew Toy: What Lucille Ball comedy is complete without slapstick characters? All four characters play this role at one point or another, but Lucy and Ethel tend to get roughed up more often than Ricky or Fred.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Lucy can sometimes be this. A prime example is the episode "Cuban Pals", where a young lady named Renita that Ricky knew as a little girl in Cuba comes to town. Though he never shows any signs of being attracted to her, nor she him (if anything, Ricky acts fatherly to the girl), Lucy becomes incredibly jealous of Renita. She even gets Fred to pose as a cab driver to get rid of her. Lucy does get her hilarious comeuppance in the end, though, when she tries to take Renita's place in an act down at the club and finds out the number has changed entirely.
  • Clip Show: The I Love Lucy Christmas Episode, where the gang decorates the Ricardo tree and recalls moments from Lucy's period of expectancy. It was kept out of the syndication package and did not receive another broadcast for 33 years.
  • Clock Discrepancy: The episode in which Lucy gets her passport.
    • In one episode Ricky complains about the time it takes Lucy to get ready to go out, so Lucy changes the clock time to fool herself into getting ready sooner. Unfortunately she sets it an hour back instead of an hour earlier…
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Lucy's mother, Mrs McGillicuddy. The apple didn't fall too far from the tree…
  • Comedic Spanking: Multiple episodes end with Ricky spanking Lucy for the trouble she's caused.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: One of the first TV series to be adapted as a comic book, via Dell Comics. In the 1990s, Malibu Comics published several titles based on the series, including a 3-D special.
  • Compilation Movie: One was produced in 1953 by bridging together three episodes from the first season. Since technicians were not able to remove the studio audience's laughter, the movie also featured a unique opening where Desi introduces himself and the other leads to a live studio audience and a closing scene where they bow during the viewers' thunderous applause. Unfortunately, fear of competition with another Lucy/Desi movie, The Long Long Trailer, prevented a theatrical release. The film eventually went missing, until 2001. It became available on DVD six years later.
  • Compressed Vice:
    • Multiple episodes give Lucy a flaw that only exhibits itself for the episode at hand for the sake of comedic material. Examples include "Lucy Changes her Mind" (where she causes trouble with chronic fickleness), "Lucy is Envious" (where she lies about being wealthy to her rich friend and digs herself a hole), and "Sales Resistance" (where she is shown being too easily swayed by a slick salesman).
    • In "In Palm Springs," Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel read a story about how a wife couldn't stand her husband's knuckle cracking and attacked him. Soon after the spouses start commenting on the irritating habits of each other (Ricky's finger drumming to Lucy's teaspoon mixing, Ethel's loud eating compared to Fred's keys jingling) leading to an argument about how these actions have been a problem for many years.  The episode also shows that the characters practically do their vices on reflex.  None of these habits were seen before and were never seen again after the episode ended.  Funny enough, there is a running gag concerning Ethel and her eating through-out the show, but it always refers to how much she eats, not how loud.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • "Ricky Loses His Voice" opens by briefly continuing on the previous week's episode, "Redecorating", by showing the furniture Lucy won in that episode being brought in at the start (and explaining the switch to viewers who missed the last one).
    • "Lucy and Ethel Buy the Same Dress" in Season 3 keeps to the fact that Lucy and Ethel were elected co-presidents of their women's club back in Season 2's "The Club Election", with Lucy reminding Ethel (eager to lead the meeting) that it's her turn to he president and later handing leadership to Ethel when she dissents with the meeting and wants to speak her mind "as a citizen".
    • In Season 3's "Redecorating the Mertzes' Apartment", a scene opens with Ethel singing to herself from her song as "Lily of the Valley" in Season 2's "The Operetta".
    • In "Lucy Gets Her Eyes Examined" in Season 3, Ethel asks to borrow Lucy's flapper hat and the girls discuss when they did the Charleston at the club in Season 2's "Ricky Loses His Voice".
    • In "The Golf Game" in Season 3, Ethel blames Ricky and Fred's recent golf obsession on Lucy giving Ricky some clubs in "Sentimental Anniversary" earlier in the season.
    • In the episode in which Ricky and Lucy decide to buy the house in Connecticut, Fred mentions and produces the "99-year lease" the Ricardos signed at the end of the episode "Breaking the Lease". Later on in the same episode, Lucy and Ethel remind each other of past events happening in the apartment, such as Lucy wallpapering Ethel into the wall. note 
  • Convenience Store Gift Shopping: Ricky, thinking he's forgotten Lucy's birthday, gets a box of candy from the bedroom and gives it to her. Lucy says that it isn't her birthday (they were really talking about Ethel's), which means Ricky has to explain why he has a gift for her. Ricky confesses that the candy is an "emergency present" that he's had for three years. He even has tags for it for every occasion.
  • Costumer: In one episode, they visit Scotland and Lucy dreams she and Ricky are the leads in a Highland historical romance for the bulk of the runtime.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: In 'Lucy Raises Tulips,'  Lucy's adventure on a runaway mower ending with her plowing over her garden rival's tulips wouldn't have happened if Ricky finished mowing the lawn as he promised.  Lucy points this out to him.
  • Counter Zany: Sometimes taken to mounting levels of on-the-spot planning, improvising, and zany consequences. A married couple and their friends, any two of whom are liable to be on the same side at any given time? Just as many schemes are bound to be met with their own schemes and grand productions in response. In multiple instances, the counter-scheme is only revealed as such to the audience by the end, often in cases where the schemers feign that the original lie was true all along by staging "proof".
  • Countrystan: One episode has Lucy try to get on Ricky's show by posing as a princess from the fictional country of Franistan. While discussing her plan with Ethel, they realize that a princess of a country ending in "stan" would have a different title, and going off the term "Maharani", decide to call Lucy's role a "Maharincess".
  • Courtroom Episode: The season 2 episode "The Courtroom" combines this with The Rashomon, with the Ricardos and Mertzes suing each other after breaking each other's TV sets.
  • Cowboys and Indians: Lucy babysits twin boys who want her to play this with them. They tie her up, intending to burn her at the stake.
  • Cranky Neighbor: Fred Mertz.
  • Crossover: Lucy and Desi appear in character in an episode of The Danny Thomas Show ( aka Make Room For Daddy ) which makes sense since Thomas's show was also a Desilu Production. However, since Lucy Carter from Here's Lucy appears on an episode of Thomas's After Show Make Room for Grandaddy in the 70s, and Lucy Carter once met Lucille Ball on Here's Lucy …that means that Lucille Ball, Lucille Ricardo, and Lucille Carter all exist in the I Love Lucy, Make Room for Daddy/Grandaddy, The Andy Griffith Show, and The Dick Van Dyke Show Universes.
  • Crushing Handshake: In a memorable episode, Fred's grip was actually enough to bring John Wayne to his kneesnote , but when he tries it on Ethel, Ethel's grip actually brings Fred to his knees.
  • A Day in Her Apron: "Job Switching" has Ricky and Fred tending to the housework while Lucy and Ethel get jobs at a chocolate factory.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Fred could be this at times, such as when Lucy tells a joke wrong and Ricky corrects it.
    Fred: It wasn't exactly a belly laugh either way.
  • Deus ex Machina: In "Ricky's European Tour," Ricky's band is going to Europe with Fred as the band manager, but Ricky can't afford to take Lucy and Ethel.  So the girls decide to raffle off a TV to get money for the trip under the disguise that it is for a charity, The Ladies' Overseas Aid, in order to better persuade people to join the raffle.  A government official stops by later asking Lucy about this charity.  When she admits that they made it up, the official tells her that they committed fraud, are liable for jail time and that it is completely out of his hands once the drawing takes place.  They rush down to the store where Ethel is holding the raffle but arrive too late. It is then that the store owner reveals not only that there IS a legitimate charity called The Ladies' Overseas Aid but he invited the group's leader over to personally accept the money as a surprise. Lucy forces Ethel to hand over the money, the official leaves and the girls escape arrest.
  • Dingy Trainside Apartment: In the episode First Stop the Ricardos and Mertzes end up renting an uncomfortable cabin right next to the railroad tracks for the night since they're all too tired to drive any further and look for better accommodations. The train is incredibly loud and shakes the cabin and the poorly made beds inside it ensuring that they can't get any rest despite their exhaustion.
  • Disguised in Drag:
    • Fred dresses in women's clothing in "Ricky Asks for a Raise" in order to fool the Tropicana owners (long story).
    • In "Lucy's Club Dance", this is Lucy's solution to staging the "all-women band" playing Ricky's show. Marion Strong reported the novelty event to the papers, so it had to go through, but Ricky realizes the women's club is absolutely hopeless at playing, so Lucy decides to put Ricky's orchestra in drag to play the show.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: "The Courtroom" has Fred completely overreacting to Ricky damaging the new TV he had just given as a gift. Yes, Ricky was being stupid trying to fix a TV despite obviously having no skill in doing so, even after Fred read the warning label, but it's not like the Mertzes lost anything in the accident. At most, Ricky would be obliged to get a new TV or having the present one professionally repaired, but instead Fred blows his temper, marches down to Ricky and Lucy's apartment, and kicks in their own TV's screen, leading to a civil dispute in court.
  • Distracted by the Luxury: Besides Lucy's lifelong quest for a mink coat, her personal finances are usually in the red because she can't stop buying cute dresses or hats. "Ricky Loses His Temper" demonstrates just how weak Lucy is to these things as she has to instruct Ethel to guide her to the hat store while her eyes are closed so she doesn't fall to temptation, and folds like a tissue when the owner uses Lucy returning a hat as an opportunity to sell her on a new one.
  • Do I Really Sound Like That?: In "Lucy Meets Charles Boyer", the real Boyer is pretending to be a man who happens to look just like him as a trick on Lucy. She wants this supposed lookalike to play the real Charles Boyer in front of Ricky. She gives him lessons on how to act like he does and does an impression of his voice. Boyer asks "Is that the way he sounds?" and when Lucy says yes, he responds "Then I'm surprised he got as far as he did."
  • Domestic Abuse:
    • Several characters mention fear that Ricky will hit Lucy because of some of her more extreme schemes, but it's unknown if Ricky really ever did or would. Essentially, it's played roughly the same way as The Honeymooners did. At one point, one of Lucy's schemes costs Ricky his job, and when he hears the news, he hits himself in the hand as Lucy gives him things to smash to take his anger out on, and he threatens to punch her in the nose more than once. Really the most he ever actually does is spank Lucy, and it's played for laughs as if she were a child and more for humiliation than pain. "The Black Eye" focuses on the topic when Ricky accidentally hit Lucy in the eye with a book and it swelled up. Fred and Ethel think he actually did hit her (they were eavesdropping outside their apartment and mistook her narrating a chapter from said book as the two arguing).
    • In the fifth season, when Fred fears Ricky will punch him in the nose for accidentally sending his band to the wrong town during his European tour, Lucy assures Fred that no matter how mad Ricky has gotten with her he never once struck her.
      Fred: Well, you're bigger than me!
      Lucy: Honestly, Fred. Ricky's bark is worse than his bite.
      Fred: You mean he bites too?!?

    • In one of the California episodes, Lucy lies out in the sun, planning to get a little red so Ricky will think she is sunburned and won't hit her. Of course she gets more burnt than she planned and then has to wear a rough tweed suit with a high collar in fashion show.
  • Double-Meaning Title: While it may have been unintentional, the pilot episode was nearly shot-for-shot remade as a Season 1 episode, where it was titled "The Audition". The plot is about Lucy auditioning for Ricky's show, but the pilot episode itself was the show's audition to appear on television, making the aired version of the episode have a dually meaningful name.
  • Dresses the Same: Lucy and Ethel purchase the same dress for a performance they're doing together (at two different stores, no less). They're both unhappy about the coincidence, and furious to see they both lied about their intentions to return the dress so they wouldn't be dressed alike (each thinking it was too nice and relying on the other to give the dress up). Their arranged number, "Friendship", becomes very ironic as they begin to tear each other's dresses apart onstage.
  • Drop-In Character: As the Ricardos' best friends (and also, their landlords), the Mertzes entered the Ricardos' apartment easily and unannounced just as often as they had to be buzzed in.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The unaired pilot noticeably differs from the series proper in many ways. It was kinescoped instead of filmed, Lucy and Ricky live in a very different looking apartment, Fred and Ethel do not exist, and Ricky’s agent, Jerry, is set up as a regular character. Ricky is also characterized in the "married-couple contrast" introduction as a bright-and-early morning person, while in the show, neither he nor Lucy was depicted as very good at being up early. As a pilot, the show also features narration and exposition to introduce the show, whereas the produced show had no such introduction segment.
    • Early first season episodes have a different, less polished look and feel to them. Not only are the scripts sillier and more unsophisticated, the lighting is harsher, the sets not as complete (there’s no cityscape backdrop outside the Ricardo’s bedroom window in the first few episodes) and the performances less refined. It wasn’t until towards the end of the first season that the show began to settle into its most recognisable form.
    • Fred and Ethel have a dog, Butch, in an early episode as part of a joke. Said dog is never seen or mentioned again, and Fred is downright hostile when Little Ricky gets Fred (the dog) later in the series and has to be talked into allowing it.
    • “The Quiz Show”, the fifth episode produced, shows a number of liquor bottles in the Ricardo’s apartment. No other episode indicates they’re heavy drinkers, only showing them having champagne on special occasions.
    • The first episode with Mrs. Trumbull has her as an angry neighbor who antagonizes Lucy for her new baby crying and the group dislikes her, a FAR difference from her appearances in every episode after that where she is a kind and close friend to the group who adores watching Little Ricky. The end of the episode indicates a shift, though, as she follows the crying to finds Little Ricky alone and cares for him quite sweetly, and is most upset that he wasn't being watched.
  • Eating Pet Food: Lucy is forced to eat a dog biscuit while trying to hide the fact that she didn't get rid of Fred (the dog).
    Lucy: They have it all over doughnuts for dunking!
  • Enfant Terrible: The Hudson twins from "The Amateur Hour" qualify. While playing Cowboys and Indians, they tie Lucy up, intending to burn her at the stake (and though of course it's Played for Laughs, they are serious about it!). A phone call from their mother interrupts them, but even when told what they've been up to she is oddly calm about the whole thing. All they get is a mild warning that their father would spank them both if they burned one more sitter at the stake. So, frighteningly enough, they've apparently done it before...
    Mrs. Hudson: Boys, is Mrs. Ricardo on fire?
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Many of the episode titles (unseen in original airings) are simply descriptions of the plot: "Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying To Murder Her", "Lucy and Ethel Buy the Same Dress", "The Ricardos Dedicate a Statue", etc. To get past the Moral Guardians, one episode title was in Spanish, "Lucy Es Enciente"note .
  • Exact Words:
    • In an early episode, Ricky is teasing Lucy about gossiping with Ethel. Because of this, Lucy promises not to say a word to Ethel. However, the story is too good, so Lucy, with her mouth taped shut, plays an absolutely epic game of charades to "tell" Ethel the story. By the end, even Ricky and Fred are Not So Above It All and start guessing along.
    • In another episode, Ricky has gotten an invitation to a fashion show Lucy wanted to attend, but plans to imply to her that he couldn't get one by saying they were difficult to get. Ricky repeats the words after Lucy finds the invitation by accident and calls him on it—after all, he never said they were impossible to get. Lucy attributes this trickery to having been around her too long.
    • In yet another, Lucy promises Ricky not to set foot in their new neighbors' apartment—so she decides she's still keeping her promise as long as she enters their apartment crawling on her knees.
  • Facial Dialogue: Lucille Ball was very skilled at using her face to convey realistic emotion and get big laughs. Perhaps the most famous and hilarious example of the trope is the Vitameatavegamin sketch, where at one moment, Lucy is happily promoting the titular multivitamin syrup and in the next, she cringes so hard after consuming one tablespoonful of the syrup that the other actors watching are trying really hard not to laugh.
  • Fake Charity: The Ladies Overseas Aid. They choose a made-up name, not realizing that there was a charity named this. The proprietor of the TV store who had donated the prize eventually contacts the national chairwoman who accepts the "donation". Lucky for Lucy and Ethel, because they were about to be arrested for fraud otherwise!
  • Famed In-Story: Later episode celebs such as Bob Hope and Orson Welles can't believe all those stories about Lucy meeting celebrities could possibly be true. And then they meet her…
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot: Used less often than you would imagine, but does crop up once in a while. "The Black Eye" especially meets the 'wacky misunderstandings and spiralling-out-of-control assumptions' criteria of this trope.
  • Fed to the Beast: The show plays around with this quite a bit in the musical Scottish episode, in which Lucy dreams of returning to her ancestral Scottish village only to discover that as the last known member of the McGillicutty clan, she's slated to be fed to a two-headed dragon (played by Fred and Ethel). Though the dream ends before she can be eaten, this inspires considerable Black Comedy as the villagers first test her to determine whether she really is a McGillicuddy ("Aye, that ye are; none of the McGillicuddys ever could dance worth a hoot!") and compliment her that she looks "good enough to eat!" Ricky also does a hilarious singing lament about his being "In Love With A Dragon's Dinner."
  • Foreign Cuss Word: Ricky's Spanish tirades when Lucy pushes him beyond the brink are often thought to be these… but in actuality, he's usually saying something to the effect of "What am I going to do with this crazy redheaded girl?" In "Fred and Ethel Fight", Lucy snarks at him about his command of English, and he goes off on a towering rant about how he studied English for years, even took classes at university. In another episode, he and Fred get into a shouting match and he calls him something in Spanish. After they make up, Fred asks him what it meant.
    Ricky: Well, I'd tell you, but then we'd start fighting again!
  • Foreign-Language Tirade: Ricky may be the Trope Codifier for this one, often going into Spanish rants when upset or frustrated.
  • Forgotten Birthday: In one episode, Lucy asks Ricky not to recognize her birthday. When he appears to follow through with it (although he's got a big surprise party planned), she becomes sad and runs out to the park, where she meets up with "The Friends of the Friendless", a strange marching band of of traveling people who find solidarity with each other. Lucy marches the Friends right into the Tropicana to give Ricky a piece of her mind before realizing she's walked into her surprise party.
  • Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics: Quoted above, though they did actually appear in the show. This version of the theme makes a cameo when Ricky sings it to Lucy during her surprise birthday party. One could also find it on home video releases of the series; Desi Arnaz also recorded a version that was released as a single by Columbia Records. Depending on who you ask, the lyrics were either written when the theme was written, or quickly created specifically for this episode.
  • Foul Medicine: In "Lucy Does a TV Commercial", Lucy is promoting the Vitameatavegamin tonic, and when she tastes a spoonful of it, she cringes and shudders before saying it tastes like candy. It takes her a good few tries to stop reacting so badly to the stuff...but by then, the overwhelming alcohol content is doing its work!
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Lucy (sanguine), Fred (melancholic), Ethel (phlegmatic), and Ricky (choleric).
  • French Cuisine Is Haughty: Lucy famously pretends to be a Frenchwoman while visiting Paris; she visits a Parisian sidewalk café and snubs the Mertzes as "Les Americans", ends up ordering escargot and is horrified to find out she's ordered snails, tries to put ketchup on said snails, outraging the chef, and is finally arrested for unknowingly passing the counterfeit money she was duped into taking by a conman outside the American Express Office.
  • Frenemy: The Ricardos and the Mertzes with the Applebys, particularly the women. While Lucy and Ethel have a strong rivalry with Carolyn Appleby, they also consider her a close friend, and she and her husband Charlie are the most recurring members of Lucy, Ricky, Ethel and Fred's circle of friends.
  • Funny Foreigner: Ricky could be regarded as a mild one of these, with multiple jokes being made about his Cuban heritage, English mistakes, and accent.
  • Fun with Foreign Languages: Lucy's in a French jail. She needs to explain herself to a Magistrate (she unintentionally passed some counterfeit bills.) The Magistrate speaks only French, Lucy only English. Ricky speaks English and Spanish, another prisoner speaks Spanish and German, a policeman speaks German and French. So the conversation is passed back and forth through three intermediaries, including Lucy's signature whine and the Magistrate's dismissive "Huh!" (Eventually it's revealed she only needs to pay a small fine.)

  • Gainax Ending: Yes, the show did feature one of these. In the final scene of the lost Christmas Episode described above, Lucy, Ricky, and Ethel all dress up as Santa Claus to put presents under the tree for Little Ricky, joining another person in a Santa Claus suit who's already there. They assume it's Fred...until they all go into the kitchen and Fred shows up at the back door. Lucy tugs on each person's beard and discovers that the fifth person's whiskers are real. He then fades away in full view of the quartet. This means that magic and Santa exist in the I Love Lucy universe.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: Starting in 1990, several episodes have received colorized versions. Notable is the Christmas special, which aired on CBS in 1990 and 2013 onwards colorized. Interestingly, its flashback sequences were presented in their original black and white for the first two colorization jobs, while 2015 saw CBS air the entire special in color. "Lucy Goes to Scotland" was also colorized as a bonus feature for the 2007 I Love Lucy Complete Series DVD. However, the episode was originally supposed to be filmed in color, but the studio couldn't afford it, so the episode was colorized based on the color home movies shot by Desi Arnaz. When CBS televises the colorized Christmas special, they follow it up with a color version of an iconic episode - such as "Lucy's Italian Movie"*, "Job Switching", "Lucy Does a TV Commercial", or "Lucy Gets In Pictures" - to pad the timeslot to an hour. May 2015's I Love Lucy Superstar Special features color versions of "LA at Last!" and "Lucy and Superman". May 2016's Superstar Special applies this treatment to "Lucy Visits Grauman's" and "Lucy and John Wayne". The high ratings of the colorized airings in The New '10s eventually prompted CBS to color other black-and-white sitcoms in their library.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Lucy would form these on occasion, but not out of simple greed. Usually it was because she had spent too much of her allowance and Ricky refused to give her any more.
  • Gift of Song: In the episode "Lucy's Last Birthday", Ricky sings Lucy a song he wrote for her birthday, being the lyrical version of the "I Love Lucy" theme. This is the only time in the series where the lyrics to the theme music are heard.
  • Girls vs. Boys Plot: Happened very often. The first few minutes of several episodes set up a conflict between Lucy and Ricky based on some stereotype (men being slobs, women being unable to manage money, etc.), with Fred and Ethel getting dragged into the scheme along gender lines as well. The two groups would then compete to prove their individual points, often resorting to increasingly convoluted gambits against each other to win. In a mild subversion of this trope, the women didn't always come out on top—Ricky and Fred were just as likely to come out ahead in the conflict of the week as Lucy and Ethel were. A few famous examples:
    • The best-known episode that uses this trope is probably "Job Switching." Ricky and Fred claim that having a career and earning money is the hardest work imaginable, and Lucy and Ethel counter that running a household is no small feat either. The two groups agree to trade jobs for the day, with the men trying to keep house and cook and the women getting jobs in a chocolate factory. When disaster strikes on both ends, they realize that neither group has it easier than the other.
    • In "Equal Rights," Lucy and Ethel demand equal rights regarding money and household affairs. Their request works too well when the quartet goes out to dinner—Ricky and Fred ask for separate checks, and since their wives don't have any money, they end up having to Work Off the Debt by washing dishes in the kitchen. They later get back at the men by claiming that robbers are holding up the restaurant, prompting them to run down and "save" them.
    • One of the first episodes, "The Girls Want to Go to a Nightclub," centers on this. The group can't decide how to spend Fred and Ethel's wedding anniversary: the men suggest a trip to the boxing ring for the prizefights, while the women would rather go dancing at the Tropicana. After both groups claim that they'll go to their preferred event with some new dates, Lucy calls up a friend of hers who knows every bachelor in town. When Ricky calls the same woman, she sides with the girls and fills them in on the plot. Lucy then hatches a Zany Scheme: she and Ethel disguise themselves as hillbillies and pretend to be the "bachelorettes" that Ricky wanted. But when Lucy gives herself away, Ricky and Fred see through the disguises and turn the tables, and the episode ends up with the quartet going to the prizefights after all.
  • Gold Fever: The subject of a late-season hour-long episode, only with uranium instead of gold. There's no murder, but everyone suspects everyone else is trying to claim the uranium before they can. They have a long race to get back to the town before the misunderstanding is sorted out and they all agree to share the reward. It turns out the uranium Lucy found was actually just the sample uranium included with her Geiger counter, which is worthless.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • In "The Audition," Ricky is trying to create a TV show based on his act and Lucy ends up filling in for the clown after he's injured during rehearsal. The executives love Lucy's part so much they offer her the show instead of Ricky.
    • In "Lucy Tells the Truth," Ricky bets Lucy that she can't go twenty-four hours without telling a single lie. She agrees and ends up at a bridge party with some female friends. After trying to use vague wording to get around some statements, Lucy eventually decides to start being brutally honest with everyone, including insulting the host's new Chinese modern furniture and asking a friend with an obnoxious cackle when she's going to "lay that egg". When she gets home, she does the same thing to Fred, Ethel, and Ricky, to the point where the first two ask the latter to call off the bet to spare their feelings.
  • Guys are Slobs: The episode "Men Are Messy". Neat Lucy gets tired of sloppy Ricky messing up their apartment, and starts several zany schemes to get him to reform - including but not limited to dividing the apartment down the middle.
  • Hair-Trigger Avalanche: The episode "Lucy in the Swiss Alps" has the main cast in a cabin with a big cliff of snow over it, trying not to make any noise that would trigger an avalanche. When Lucy slams the door, it causes an avalanche.
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Fred Mertz dons a Hawaiian shirt to sight-see in Hollywood.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In her first appearance, Mrs. Trumbull is a cranky mean lady complaining about Lucy's baby's crying.  When Lucy and Ethel try to dissolve an argument between Ricky and Fred, they accidentally leave Little Ricky crying by himself in his room, with Mrs. Trumbull coming over to complain. When the group realises and returns, they find her happily holding the baby, promising to be there for him from now on.  After that, she becomes a very close friend to the group and gladly volunteers to always watch the baby, and is just as often offscreen, mentioned as a means to account for Little Ricky during events where he's not appearing.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Lucy and Ethel to a T (and Ricky and Fred, albeit to a lesser extent).
  • Honorary Aunt / Honorary Uncle: The Mertzs, as Little Ricky's Godparents, Little Ricky refers to them as Uncle Fred and Aunt Ethel.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Lucy Ricardo. Lucille Ball was no diva, but she was no slouch either, as seen when she starred in Mame and did a stint on Broadway in Wildcat. Her ability to carry a tune seemed to run on Rule of Funny.
  • Housewife: Lucy is an example of a rebellious housewife—good at keeping house, but wanting to do other things and doing everything she can to break out into them.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: In "No Children Allowed", Ethel gets on everyone's nerves when she repeatedly recounts the story of how she told off Mrs. Trumbull in defense of Lucy. When Fred expresses his annoyance at having to hear it over and over, Ricky agrees with him that Ethel has the habit of staying on a subject until it gets "sickening". Fred is infuriated by this.
    Ricky: Well, you know what I mean, Fred. You just said yourself that sometimes you get sick of her.
    Fred: Well, I'm supposed to get sick of her. She's my wife!
  • Impossible Leavening: In "Pioneer Women", a loaf of bread with this trope applied ends up expanding to fill the entire oven, and when the door is opened, it stretches out of the oven, far longer than the oven is deep, and pins Lucy to a wall. The slices of the bread end up about the size of a pizza or larger, as seen at the end of the episode. This comic book ad for Phillip Morris refers to the incident.
  • Incessant Music Madness: In a late episode, Little Ricky receives a snare drum and plays it incessantly. Soon, his parents' movements match the beat he's playing.
  • Insane Troll Logic: In "The Gossip", Ricky makes a bet with Lucy that she can't go longer than Ricky can without gossiping. Trying to lure her into a trap, he pretends to speak in his sleep by saying some juicy gossip, which Lucy can't help but tell Ethel. Ricky reveals the whole thing was a hoax to get them to lose the bet, but Lucy realizes that this means Ricky and Fred were the ones to gossip first. Ricky denies this to be true:
    Ricky: Now wait a minute, girls, wait a minute, you have misconstrued the entire point of this situation. Now you see, if the story were true, then we would have been gossiping. But the story was not true. We made it up. The whole thing was friction. So we were not gossiping. Now, you girls believed that the story was true so you were gossiping. Now, that's the whole thing.
  • Intoxication Ensues: "Vitameatavegamin contains vitamins, meat, vegetables, and minerals" — and 23 percent alcohol. Lucy's run of the commercial, which includes tasting the tonic, deteriorates with every run as she gets slammed by the increasing intake of boozy medicine.
  • Is This Thing On?: Fred installs an intercom between his guest house and the Ricardos' main house. Lucy tests it with the "Testing 1,2,3" method.
    • Lucy also does the "Testing 1,2,3" gag on her voice when she tries to talk correctly to the "Charm School" teacher.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: In "Lucy Gets Chummy With the Neighbors", Ethel and Fred visit Lucy and Ricky, but nobody's home. Both remark that it's too quiet and Ethel adds that she doesn't like it so quiet. Suddenly, Ricky storms into the house and shouts in Spanish, having just gotten in a fight with Ralph Ramsey.
  • Jeopardy! Intelligence Test: One episode got kicked off after Ricky proudly announces all the right answers while listening to "Mr. And Mrs. Quiz" on the radio. Lucy then finagles them an invitation to the show, whereupon Ricky admits he was merely at the studio earlier while it was being taped. He actually knew none of the answers organically, causing disaster as Lucy takes over once they're on the show and quotes incorrect answers from a cheat sheet in desperation. Ricky wins the game by complete accident when one of his gripes turns out to be the exact quote asked for by the final question.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Fred, and to a lesser extent Ricky. Both can be stern husbands, but they love their wives, and despite Ricky's temper and Fred's miserly sourness, the two are kind people and good friends and companions.
    • Ethel, Fred, and Ricky in "Lucy and the Dummy" for making Lucy give up her lifetime goal of an acting contract, for her own good of course.
  • Karmic Twist Ending: In "Cuban Pals", Lucy is unreasonably jealous of a young girl named Renita starring alongside Ricky in an act down at the club. Ricky knew Renita as a child in Cuba, but now she has become an attractive young woman, which causes Lucy to be jealous of her in spite of there clearly being no romantic feelings between her and Ricky. After getting rid of Renita by having Fred pose as a cab driver, Lucy takes her place in the act, which was supposed to be "The Lady in Red". What she doesn't know is that Ricky became exhausted during rehearsals and decided not to do that song, letting Renita and her boyfriend perform an African wedding dance number instead. The boyfriend, in a terrifying native costume, leaps out and proceeds to frighten Lucy out of her wits. Ricky apparently caught on as, at the end of the episode, he comes out in the mask he wore at the start of the number, scaring Lucy enough to faint in his arms.
  • The Key Is Behind the Lock: Lucy gets locked in a walk-in meat freezer and a steamer trunk, having the key in her pocket in both incidents.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: In "Lucy Tells the Truth," a white lie leads to Lucy taking a job as the assistant in a knife act. Interesting in that it's revealed to be fake (the "thrower" feints tossing the knives and they are pushed out of the board behind her) in the show.
  • Knitting Pregnancy Announcement: Subverted when Lucy and Ethel think their husbands are going to join the army and take up knitting to make them socks. The husbands notice them doing this, and naturally assume they are both having babies.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The episode 'The French Revue' features Lucy (and Ethel at least once) using her usual routine of disguising herself to get into Ricky's act. Only this time, Ricky doesn't buy any of them for a second, and she gets thrown out immediately!
  • Language Fluency Denial: When Lucy finds out something seemingly incriminating, Ricky says, "No hablo Ingles!" as he heads for the door.
    Lucy: "You hablo plenty of Ingles, and you better start hablo-ing right now!"
  • Large Ham: Lucy, any time she ends up on stage.
  • Laugh Track: The show didn't have one – it was famously filmed in front of a live audience which the cast worked off for their timing. However, the laughter you hear here would be used as the basis for canned laughter in sitcoms for decades to come.
    • Logistics prevented studio audiences from attending several filmings, including "Ricky Minds the Baby" (the producers feared an audience would startle the infant actors playing Little Ricky), "Home Movies" (due to the technical issues of filming and editing all the home movie footage), and "Desert Island" (due to the number of sets). These episodes were subsequently screened for audiences, and their laughter recorded to the audio track.
  • Let's See YOU Do Better!: What kicks off the plot of "Job Switching"; Lucy and Ricky get into an argument over who has the harder job (Ricky as the breadwinner, Lucy doing housework) which eventually draws Fred and Ethel to take sides. They decide to make a deal: they'll switch jobs for a day and see who really has it rough. Hilarity Ensues as the guys nearly destroy the apartment trying to cook dinner while the girls have the infamous conveyor belt scene at the candy factory they got sent to. In the end, bot sides concede defeat and admit that either job is a lot of work.
  • Living Prop: Ricky's band members in scenes set at the Tropicana/Club Babalu.
    • A literal example - the baby chicks let loose in the house.
  • Locked in a Freezer: The episode where Lucy buys a walk-in freezer and locks herself in while moving all the meat she bought into the furnace to hide it from Ricky and Fred. She ends up covered in icicles, and needs an electric blanket to warm back up...and then Fred turns on the furnace...
  • Loud of War: In "Breaking the Lease", Lucy and Ricky try to get out of their lease by having a loud Cuban jam session late at night and creating a disturbance. Fred and Ethel turn the tables by capitalizing and selling tickets to the "concert."
  • Lying Finger Cross: Subverted in one episode where Ricky forces Lucy to take a vow. Lucy, with one arm behind her back, begins saying the vow, but then Ricky pulls her arm out to reveal her crossed fingers, and uncrosses them.
  • Mad at a Dream:
    • In "Ricky's Old Girlfriend", Lucy dreams that Ricky easily left her for Carlota Romero, leaving her poor and homeless on the streets with Little Ricky for the rest of their lives (Ricky and Carlota naturally don't age), and waiting outside the theater and getting only a button from Ricky in her coin cup when the couple leaves. Ricky, of course, doesn't get why she's so angry at him when she wakes up.
    • In, "Lucy Goes to Scotland," Lucy has a near-entire episode dream sequence, in which being the last of the McGillicuddy Clan, she's to be fed to a cantankerous two-headed dragon (Fred and Ethel) that awakens every thirty years and eats only McGillicuddys. At one point in the dream, she meets Scott McTavish McDougal McCardo (Ricky), who falls in love with her, and vows to prevent the dragon from eating her, even if it means sacrificing his own life... but when the dragon is brought to the village for its meal, Scotty chickens out at the last minute, and Lucy is thrown to the dragon. Lucy then wakes up, and proceeds to hit Ricky with her pillow in a fit of rage, despite Ricky not knowing why she's upset with him.
      Lucy: You coward!
  • The Magic Poker Equation: When Lucy forces herself into a poker game of Ricky's, since she has just learned to play that very morning. She has no trouble convincing the regulars that she has a very good hand, and she wins when she doesn't even have a single pair.
  • Malaproper: Ricky on occasion, due to his lack of familiarity with English idioms.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: It's never said outright in "Lucy and Superman" if it's George Reeves in costume and in character, or if it's actually Superman. Ricky mentioned meeting him in Hollywood and speaking with his secretary, and that he needs to catch a plane, suggesting the former. But Lucy seems to think he can really fly, he casually shoves aside a piano Ricky could barely budge and doesn't hesitate to go out and risk a three-story drop to help Lucy, even casually leaping through the rain over a gap across the ledges with a smile. Either way, even the adults only ever refer to him as Superman, and the episode was written to maintain the illusion for kids in the audience who believed in Superman.
  • Meaningful Name: In a gag often Edited for Syndication since it takes place at the beginning of the scene, Lucy uses a book entitled How To Sing by F. Alsetto.
  • Men Can't Keep House: The episode "Job Switching" has Ricky and Fred invoke this trope along with A Day in Her Apron.
  • Mirror Routine: Lucy (dressed as Harpo Marx) and Harpo Marx. Harpo wins with a move Lucy can't replicate—his hat is rigged like a yo-yo, so he drops it and it pulls back into her hand while Lucy's just falls to the ground.
  • Missed Him by That Much: In "Lucy Misses The Mertzes", the Ricardos and Mertzes walk in and out of the Westport, Connecticut train station, just barely missing one another time and again.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: More frequently than should really make sense, since Ricky was never anything but faithful.
  • Monochrome Casting: Desi Arnaz and the actors playing his friends and relatives from Cuba were seen not as non-whites, as they are today, but more as an exotic, Funny Foreigner troupe. No black characters appeared in the show.
  • Multi-Part Episode: "The Dancing Star"/"Lucy Meets Harpo Marx", "Cousin Ernie Visits"/"Cousin Ernie Hangs On" and "Lucy Visits Grauman's"/"Lucy Meets John Wayne"note . Also the hour-long episode with Tallulah Bankhead fits this format - the first half-hour deals with Lucy meeting and trying to make a good impression on the star, the second half dealing with Lucy trying to get her to perform for the PTA.
  • Murphy's Bed: Subverted with Cousin Ernie...when presented with Fred and Ethel's folded up rollaway bed, he just climbs into the middle of the taco-shaped bed, later commenting that it gave him one of his finest rests in a long time.
  • Muse Abuse: In "Lucy Writes a Novel", Ricky and the Mertzes are featured as characters in the book Lucy is writing. When they get a chance to read the manuscript, they are outraged at how insulting the portrayals are.
  • Musical Episode: Plenty, considering Ricky is a bandleader.

  • Never Say "Die":
    • Or "pregnant" for that matter.
    • Episodes sponsored by Philip Morris weren’t allowed to use the word “lucky,” as the sponsor feared viewers would be reminded of competing cigarette brand “Lucky Strike.” This resulted in “Lucky Bucks” being renamed “Bonus Bucks.”
  • New Baby Episode: The episode "Lucy Goes to the Hospital" features Lucy Ricardo giving birth to her and her husband Ricky's son, Little Ricky. The episode explores Ricky's paranoia about the birth, as well as his misadventures in a voodoo witch doctor costume.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Redecorating the Mertzes' Apartment", the Ricardos and Mertzes are in the middle of doing just that. They've just finished painting, and have moved on to reupholstering the furniture. Fred says he can't stand the smell of paint, and Ethel suggests he bring a fan in... while she is helping Lucy remove the feather stuffing from a chair. Naturally, when the fan is turned on, feathers fly all over the place. Then on top of it all, the Mertzes have the nerve to blame Lucy for their mistake, one that should have been obvious to them!
  • No Ending: The show never had a proper series finale, ending in "The Ricardos Dedicate a Statue". Though it would continue on in the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.
  • Noodle Incident: The 4th of July party Lucy organized for her Women's Club.
  • Not a Mask:
    • In "Charm School", Lucy visits a charm school lady. The lady says she and the people with her try to achieve a fresh, natural appearance with their makeup and critiques Lucy's facial powder as giving her face a strange, unnatural appearance. Of course, Lucy answers that she hasn't got powder on.
    • In one Christmas spot, the Mertzes and the Ricardos simultaneously and independently dress up in Santa costumes to bring in Christmas presents for Little Ricky. Lucy asks Fred where he got the humongous pillow he's wearing under his suit. Fred answers that he's not wearing one.
  • Object Ceiling Cling: Ricky cooks a couple of chickens in a pressure cooker. He puts it on too high and the lid blows off. Ricky looks in to see the chickens are gone. A few seconds later, one chicken falls down, and then the other.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Lucy's kooky mother is utterly awful to Ricky, who hates her just as much in return. She even insists on always calling him "Mickey", no matter how many times she's corrected, and it's implied she fully knows what she's doing because she gets her grandson's name right.
    Ricky: How d'you like that?!? He's Little Ricky and I'm Big Mickey!
  • Old-Fashioned Fruit Stomping: One of the show's most iconic episodes, "Lucy's Italian Movie", involves Lucy stomping grapes as part of her audition for a movie that takes place in Italy.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Signified any time Lucy lets out her nasally grimacing "Eeeeeeeeew!"
    • Perhaps the quintessential example came in the classic episode "Job Switching." Brought to a candy wrapping assembly line as their "last chance" opportunity to prove themselves against a tough foreman, Lucy and Ethel find a seemingly simple task to be too fast for them ... but the look of "Oh crap" is priceless when the foreman, thinking they're doing a good job, tells the conveyor belt operator to "Speed it up a little!"
  • One-Steve Limit: Subverted with Fred the Landlord and Fred the Dog.
    Little Ricky: Mommy, Mommy, Fred ran away!
    Ethel: Which Fred?
    Little Ricky: MY Fred!
    Ethel: Oh, nuts!
  • Onion Tears: In "The Million Dollar Idea", Lucy and Ethel fantasize joyfully on what they'll do with the profits they expect to make on their salad dressing, while sounding miserable as they cry over the onions they're peeling. Afterward, Ricky starts crying while calculating the losses from Lucy's failed salad dressing business. At least it appears that way until he snaps out of it and says, "Oh, get these onions out of here!"
  • Or My Name Isn't...: In the episode "The Ballet," Lucy says, "I'm gonna get into that show or my name isn't Lucy Ricardo."
  • Out-of-Character Moment: The episode "Changing the Boys' Wardrobe" has Ricky and Fred wearing their old tattered clothes everywhere, much to Lucy and Ethel's disgust. While this is believable for Fred, it is incredibly out of character for the usually dapper, suit-wearing Ricky to want to go around looking like a bum. The reason for his unusual behavior in this one episode is that the story was drawn from Lucy's radio play My Favorite Husband. Ricky was shoehorned into a script that didn't suit his personality.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Occasionally, Lucy's various schemes required putting on a different look. Whether or not they succeeded was a case of Depending on the Writer.
    • Lucy tries to get rid of Tennessee Ernie Ford by dressing up as a "wicked city woman" and playing Abhorrent Admirer. Her disguise consists of nothing more than a black wig, yet Ford is tricked.
    • In "Ricky Asks for a Raise," Ricky's fired after he asks for a raise at the Tropicana. To help, Lucy, Fred, and Ethel call the club and book reservations for every table in the place, then dress up as various customers to claim the reservations and storm out in disgust upon hearing that Ricky won't be performing. An old vaudeville friend of Fred's lends him a quick-change cabinet to help with the rapid swaps, and the disguises consist of various wigs, hats, and different styles of clothing—including Fred wearing drag at one point—but do nothing to conceal or alter their facial appearances. That, plus the silly accents the trio puts on, is enough to convince the club owner that he has to rehire Ricky immediately to save the club.
    • In "The Young Fans," Lucy and Ricky have to shake off Peggy and Arthur, a pair of teenagers who develop Precocious Crushes on them. They decide to pretend to be "too old" for the teens by donning grandparent-esque clothing, coloring their hair (or, in Lucy's case, wearing a wig), putting on age makeup, and speaking in exaggerated elderly voices. Despite the kids seeing Lucy and Ricky completely youthful the day before, they somehow fall for the ruse, although to Peggy's credit, she is a little bit suspicious.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Lucy engages in a bit of this in "Off to Florida" when Mrs. Grundy (Elsa Lanchester) tasks her and Ethel with changing a flat on her car (since Mrs. Grundy herself is doing all of the driving for their trip to Miami). After raising the car with a jack (on the second attempt), Lucy suddenly shouts in Spanish-sounding gibberish and kicks the hubcap, explaining to Ethel that this is what she has seen Ricky do whenever he changes a flat. Sure enough, when she shouts in fake Spanish and kicks the hubcap for the third time, it falls right off the wheel.
  • Pie in the Face: "The Diner" ends with a big pie fight between the Ricardos and Mertzes, instigated by a drunk who wants to see it happen. He ends up using a pie righteously at the end, though, when the diner owner discloses privately that he makes his money by selling the business to novices and gets his profit by buying it back when they inevitably quit. The drunk is disgusted and gives him the last pie.
  • Playing a Tree: Ricky in Little Ricky's school play.
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: One that affected both parties in "Lucy is Jealous of the Girl Singer," when Ricky is planted one on Lucy to convince her that he's not fooling around with a new dancer at the club.
    Ricky: Did I convince you?
    Lucy: What were we talking about?
    Ricky: [Beat] I dunno.
  • The Precarious Ledge: In "Lucy and Superman" Lucy dresses up as Superman for little Ricky's birthday party after promising that Superman would show up but then it looked like he might not. She crawls out on the ledge of the building to come in through the window but the "real" Superman note  does show up while she's out there. She gets her cape stuck on a drainpipe so she's stuck out there in the rain. Superman goes out on the ledge and helps her get unstuck.
    Ricky: Lucy, of all the crazy things you done in the fifteen years we been married this is —
    Superman: Wait a minute, Ricardo! Do you mean to say that you've been married to her for fifteen years?
    Ricky: Yeah, fifteen years.
    Superman: And they call me Superman!
  • Pregnancy Makes You Crazy: In the episode "Pregnant Women are Unpredictable", Lucy becomes insecure and feels unloved when Ricky gives their unborn child a lot of attention. Someone advises Ricky to pay attention to Lucy and only her for a while. This seems to cheer her up, but partway through dinner, she breaks down crying because the baby hasn't been mentioned once—Ricky doesn't love the baby!
  • Pretty in Mink: Lucy's second life goal aside from getting in the show has always been to have a mink coat. In one episode, Lucy thinks a mink coat Ricky rented for a play is for her for their anniversary (which he forgot), and he spends the episode trying to trick her into losing it until he fesses up. It turned out she tricked him; it wasn't their anniversary at all. Lucy also forfeits a mink stole she was promised after compounding mishaps and expenses in the titular events of "Redecorating the Mertzes' Apartment".
  • Product Placement: The characters frequently made gags about Philip Morris cigarettes, which sponsored the first four seasons. Several of these gags were removed in syndication, but reinstated on home video.
    • In a possible lampshade hanging over the deal, Lucy reminds Ricky that when he auditions for television producers, he'll need a "pretty girl" to show off the sponsor's products, then holds a box of Philip Morris up to the camera.
    • One gag that reruns retain in some form: When Lucy hosts her own TV show in an emptied TV set, she dresses as Johnny Roventini, the Philip Morris Bellhop. The syndicated version of the episode retains scenes of Lucy wearing the costume and holding cigarettes but cuts parts where she actually refers to the brand by name. Surprisingly, CBS kept those parts when they aired the colorized version of the episode in December 2015.
    • One episode with a scene of Fred and Ricky meeting and eating at a stationary/luncheonette counter features a cardboard standee of the Phillip Morris bellhop in the background.
    • This exchange as pregnant Lucy keeps changing potential baby names.
      Lucy: I always liked 'Phillip' if it's a boy...
      Ricky: And 'Morris' if it's a girl?
    • In the episode in which Lucy insists on a second wedding ceremony due to a typo on the Ricardos' wedding license, the hotel owner who is the small town's Justice of the Peace, the Sherriff, and Gas station Attendant is apparently also the Bellhop. As he puts on the bellman's cap he shouts "Call for Phillip...darn, I always forget the rest of that."
    • When celebrities appear, especially during the Hollywood Arc, you can be sure to hear "Oh, I just finished filming" such-an-such a movie title, followed by the Ricardos saying "We'll be sure to catch it when it comes out" or "I've heard such great things about that!"
    • One episode features the foursome going out to see The Most Happy Fella... a show Desilu Studios just happened to invest in.
      Ricky: I don't know anything about this show, do you?
      Fred: Well, one thing I know is the hero's not married.
      Ricky: How do you know that?
      Fred : Look at the title!
    • When the show goes to Paris they make sure to mention American Express a lot.
    • In one Hollywood episode, Lucy asks Fred to buy Q-Tips for her, mainly so he can misunderstand and bring back Pool Room Cue Tips instead.
    • In the episode in which Ricky tells Little Ricky "Little Red Riding Hood" in Spanish, the close-ups of little Ricky show the Lucy and Desi stick figures used in the original opening sequence embroidered on his pillowcase. These pillowcases were actually available for sale at the time.
    • An in-show example: When Ricky gets an offer to do a live "Mr and Mrs TV Show" (in the episode of the same name), every line in the script is an ad for the sponsor, Phipps Department Store.
    • The two part episode featuring John Wayne featured several references to his film Blood Alley, including working the film’s poster into a scene just to have the camera linger on it.
  • Projectile Toast: A Running Gag, with the characters effortlessly catching the toast being part of the joke. Two notable instances:
    • In "Be a Pal", Lucy is angry that Ricky is paying more attention to his newspaper than to her, so she loads up the toaster and and angles it toward him. Ricky catches the toast out of the air without even looking up from the paper. For bonus points, the show was always filmed in one take, requiring Desi to catch it on the first try.
    • A later episode makes a Call-Back to this. Ricky and Lucy decide to prove who has it harder by swapping roles, with Lucy getting a job and Ricky becoming a homemaker. This time Lucy sits behind the newspaper, Ricky launches the toast, and Lucy catches it effortlessly.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: During the original run of the series, Vivian Vance and William Frawley were not credited at all in the opening titles, appearing only in the closing titles. In 1957 they finally got their promotion with the transition to The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, but they also got their promotion retroactively on I Love Lucy itself, starting in 1959 when the now-famous "heart on satin" syndicated titles were introduced. Even TV Land's updated versions of the original openings retained this promotion.note 
  • "Pulling Out Scarves" Trick: A variation is done in Lucy's clown routine in "The Audition". In the character of "the Professor", Lucy takes off her gloves to play cello, but the right-hand glove she's wearing is revealed to be several feet long as she takes a while to pull it off and then wads it up into a ball.
  • Rage Breaking Point: In 'Ricky Loses His Temper,' Lucy tries to invoke this from Ricky.  Both have made a bet to see who can avoid their vice longer (Ricky getting angry at Lucy buying hats).  Lucy folds immediately unbeknownst to Ricky, so she spends the time before her hat is delivered to drive Ricky crazy so he would fail his condition and be convinced he lost the bet.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: In "Lucy Writes a Play", one of Ethel's blunders reading the script for the first time is fumbling a line describing her character's daughter "Lucita". She describes multiple aspects of Lucita's beauty before reading, without hesitation, "your nose is continued on the next page."
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Lucy's pregnancy was written into the show when Lucille Ball became pregnant in real life.
    • The "Redecorating" episode in which Lucy wins the furniture from the home show was written because Lucille Ball hated the furniture on the set and requested a believable way of changing it in-story.
    • In one episode Lucy writes a novel called "Real Gone With The Wind" in which she tells a story involving thinly veiled versions of herself, Ricky, and the Mertzes. Liberties taken and insulting commentary in the prose garner Lucy no fans among her loved ones.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Lucy is one, big time, never being defeated for long in her pursuit of excitement and show business.
  • Re-Cut: During season 2, after it was discovered that Lucille Ball was pregnant, several episodes that had been shot beforehand were recut as flashbacks, with a new intro in which Ricky, Ethel and Fred comment on Lucy and the baby and how a current situation reminds them all of a previous similar event (unseen previously) involving Lucy. This was done so that Lucy could take her maternity leave without it affecting the program scheduling.
  • Recycled Premise: Prior to I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball played a scheming, nutty housewife in the CBS radio comedy My Favorite Husband, wherein her character was married to a dull, inoffensive American banker. Execs wanted to adapt the series almost wholesale because it tested so well, whereas Ball and Arnaz wanted to take things in a different direction (and use the series as a vehicle for improving their marriage). Even though the shows have different characters, some episodes of I Love Lucy reused storylines and gags from the radio show, since they shared three writers (Jess Oppenheimer, Bob Carroll, Jr., and Madelyn Pugh). After I Love Lucy became a hit, CBS tried to make lightning strike twice by adapting My Favorite Husband itself as a TV show (with a different cast and crew), but that show went nowhere and was soon forgotten.
    • Another reason Ball and Arnaz abandoned My Favorite Husband — that series was based on the novel Mr. and Mrs. Cugat: The Record of a Happy Marriage by Isabel Scott Rorick. In fact, the lead characters were named George and Liz Cugat for the first 20 episodes. Their last name was changed to Cooper to avoid confusion with bandleader Xavier Cugat and his wife (Oppenheimer also felt the name Cooper made the characters more down-to-earth and relatable, and reportedly the sponsor found Cugat too ethnic). By creating their own (albeit similar) concept, Desilu managed to avoid paying royalties to Rorick.
  • Restaurant-Owning Episode: In one episode, Ricky decides to go into the diner business with his wife and the Mertzes after getting tired of show business. It ends in failure because the couples can't get along on the job, and they sell back the business to the owner, who is revealed to have gone through this several times as a money-making scheme for himself!
  • Retool: The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show, retitled The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour for syndication (and further retitled We Love Lucy years later).
  • Reverse Psychology Backfire: Ethel has this when she tries to talk Little Ricky into playing his drums in "Little Ricky Gets Stage Fright".
    Lucy: Did it work?
    Ethel: Well, sort of. I said, "Little Ricky, you don't want to play those nasty old drums, do you?" and he said "No."
  • Ridiculously Long Phone Hold: Lucy calls Ricky and has him stay on hold while she goes from downtown to their apartment so that Mrs. Hansen can't call and ask him about the check she gave her on the dress shop he doesn't know she and Ethel bought.
  • Road Trip Plot: There was a several-episode arc where Ricky got cast in a Hollywood movie, so Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, and Fred drive a Type 1a cross-country to get there, stopping in (in subsequent episodes) Ohio, Tennessee, Albuquerque (Ethel's hometown), before finally getting to Hollywood, where they meet (through several more episodes) tons of Celebrity Cameos.
  • Rule of Three: In the episode involving the jewel thief on the train, the Mertzes go to the dining car three times. All three times Lucy pulls the emergency brake, splattering them with food. Subverted: The fourth time they go, they wear rain slickers, anticipating an emergency brake pull by Lucy. It happens.
  • Running Gag:
    • Lucy (and Ethel and Fred) being desperate to get into show business.
    • Ethel eating a lot and helping herself to food unprompted.
    • Lucy's hair color being dyed, and her hesitancy to be honest about it.
    • Lucy evading the question of her age.
    • Lucy greeting Ethel in a sour mood or expressing disappointment, expecting someone else, and Ethel making to leave before Lucy apologizes.
    • "Babalú" being referenced or quoted when alluding to Ricky's signature traits. It was the song he performed most often, too.
    • Fred entering a scene in a ridiculous outfit.
  • Saint-Bernard Rescue: While in the Swiss Alps, Band Manager Fred accidentally sends the band to the wrong city. After Ricky fires him Lucy says, "You can't fire Fred! What are you gonna do? Get a St Bernard to manage the band?". Later on while the foursome are out climbing a mountain Fred whistles for a passing St Bernard, saying he could use a snort of brandy.
    • Subverted in one episode when Lucy suffers a St Bernard attack from Richard Widmark's dog.
  • The Scrooge: Fred is a mild one. He's hesitant and unlikely to spend big on anything, and Ethel frequently complains about how few clothes she has. Makes sense when he brings up the Crash of '29, which is probably what made him such a miser.
  • Self-Deprecation: Interestingly, the series often takes potshots at its own young industry of television.
    • When told that Ricky was going to once again show his "Home Movies" of Little Ricky, Fred complains "If I want to see old movies I might as well stay home and watch television!"
    • When an actor rehearses a play with his wife, he remarks that the script is corny enough to be on television.
    • Multiple episodes deal with the group trying to remain above television as a social activity, and reluctantly defaulting to watching TV when they're bored trying anything else.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • The length of the Mertzes' marriage varied drastically over the course of the series. In season 1, they celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary, then just a year later they're celebrating their 25th anniversary. A few years after that, Ethel claims they've only been married 23 years.
    • The circumstances regarding how Lucy and Ricky first met changed over the years. Initially, they met after Ricky had moved to America when Marion Strong set them up on a blind date. Come the hour shows, however, Lucy meets Ricky while he’s still living in Cuba during a cruise to Havana.
    • Ethel's middle name was initially "Louise," then "Roberta," before finally becoming "Mae" for the remainder of the series.
    • Ricky's first name is "Enrique" in one episode, "Ricardo" in another.
    • When the Mertzes’ bedroom was seen in “Vacation from Marriage”, they slept in seperate twin beds. Come “First Stop”, however, Ethel says they share a double bed which sags in the middle.
    • Ethel knew how to drive in season 2's "The Camping Trip," but would claim she never learned come season 4's "Lucy Learns to Drive."
    • The Ricardo’s second apartment was originally 3B, but was changed to 3D for “Lucy Tells the Truth” onwards to accomodate a joke about them living in the third dimension.
    • Ethel's piano playing abilities varied depending on episode plot needs. In "Breaking the Lease," she could bang out "Sweet Sue" just fine, but in "Ragtime Band" would claim to only know "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain."
    • Doris Singleton's role as "Lillian Appleby" was changed to "Carolyn Appleby" for all subsequent appearances - except for one occasion in Hollywood where Ricky referred to her as Lillian.note 
    • Fred’s vaudeville partner was originally called “Ted Kurtz,” but was renamed “Barney Kurtz” when finally introduced.
    • Initially, Lucy only knew how to play "Glowworm" on the saxophone, but later episodes would have "Sweet Sue" be the only song she knew.
    • The Ricardo’s bedroom set in their second apartment originally had a window on the right-side wall. When the set was reassembled following the Europe arc, the window was accidentally omitted.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The baby names Lucy considers in "Pregnant Women Are Unpredictable" all have significance - "Gregory and Joanne" were the names of Jess Oppenheimer's children, "Scott and Pamela" referred to Lucille's niece and nephew, and "Robert and Madelyn" were the names of long-time writers Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll, Jr.
    • Many of the names used for characters either seen or just referred to were taken from real-life friends and relatives of Lucille Ball.
    • In "Charm School" the men are at a party discussing golf when Ricky says, "I just read an article by Harry Ackerman...." Harry Ackerman was a television producer who, along with other CBS shows such as Gunsmoke and Dennis the Menace, helped develop I Love Lucy.
    • In one episode, Lucy tries to give herself a perm in order to save money, but she does it for too long and ends up with an afro. Fred teasingly calls her Little Orphan Annie.
    • In the episode "Lucy Gets Her Eyes Examined", eye drops make her vision very blurry. Ethel calls her Miss Magoo.
  • The Show Goes Hollywood: The show had a season-long arc set in Hollywood where Ricky gets a part in a movie.
  • Significant Reference Date: In "Lucy Gets A Paris Gown", Lucy wants to get a new designer dress while in France. Ricky reads a letter Lucy wrote in Hollywood, promising Ricky if he'd buy her a Hollywood designer dress, she would NEVER ask for another designer dress. The note is dated 2/28/55 — the broadcast date of the episode "The Fashion Show" in which Lucy gets said dress. Extra coolness points awarded when you realize the writers had no idea that anyone in the future would create episode guides, listing airdates.
    • In "Lucy's Bicycle Trip", when the Ricardos and Mertzes cross the Italian-French border, a sign nearby says (in French) "Festival of Nice, April 22-24." The episode actually aired on April 23, 1956.
  • Signing Off Catchphrase: "I Love Lucy is a Desilu Production. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz will be back next week at this same time." This was even retained in syndication, despite "next week" usually being tomorrow instead (or even coming up next!).
  • A Simple Plan: Many schemes in the show go haywire from simple premises, most often when Lucy's the mastermind.
  • Sitcom: The Trope Codifier for years.
  • Skewed Priorities: In "Ricky Minds the Baby", when Ricky discovers that Little Ricky has wandered off while under his care, he seems much more worried about Lucy's reaction to this than the fact that their son is missing. He even questions why Fred suggests they call the police.
  • Slapstick: A good rule of thumb: If Lucy enters a scene wearing pants, you are about to see some fantastic physical hijinks. Another rule of thumb: whenever Lucy’s distinctive false eyelashes disappear, you know she’s going to get drenched in something.
  • Sleeping Single:
    • Famously, however, it's often forgotten that the twin beds were pushed together throughout the entire first season. It wasn't until after Little Ricky was born that the nightstand was put between them.
    • Subverted, however, with Ethel and Fred — in "First Stop" we find out that they have a nightly ritual that involves Ethel tying Fred to the bed (not ''that'' way).
      Lucy: You do that every night?!?
      Ethel: Yeah, but it took years of practice.
  • Slipping a Mickey: In "Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying to Murder Her," Fred gives Ricky (who as far as either of them know is simply freaking out for no reason) a dose of sleeping powder to slip in Lucy's drink. Lucy thinks it's poison when she sees Ricky pouring it in her drink. Sharp-eyed viewers will notice it's Ricky who gets the drink that had the powder poured in it, but it's still Lucy who suffers the effects.
    Lucy: I got a mickey from Ricky!
  • Smack on the Back: Ethel slaps Lucy on the back, forgetting that she has a terrible sunburn.
  • Smoking Is Cool: The show was produced and aired during an era where smoking was not only cool but accepted in contemporary society, and in some contexts, expected. All four series leads were smokers and lit up during various episodes, especially those aired in the first three or four seasons. This began to be toned down by 1956, when Little Ricky became more a part of the stories (and Phillip Morris no longer the show's main sponsor).
  • Social Semicircle: A staple for the series, which pioneered the three-camera method and filmed in front of a live studio audience, making such staging more effective for the viewers, live and at home. A typical dinner in the Ricardos' apartment would see Lucy and Ricky seated at opposite ends of the table, with the Mertzes seating side-by-side facing the audience. In the Connecticut episodes, they would all tend to crowd along one side of the circular dinette table.
  • Special Guest: Frequently, particularly when Ricky went to Hollywood and some movie or TV star — like John Wayne or George Reeves — would appear on the show.
  • Spexico: Lucy seems to think Cuban culture is a mixture of Mexico, Spain, and Brazil of all places.
  • Spiritual Successor: The Lucy Show, Here's Lucy, Life with Lucy
  • Springtime for Hitler:
    • In "Lucy Becomes a Sculptress", Lucy disguises herself as a clay bust on a table for a visiting art critic under Ricky's promise that she be allowed to continue sculpting if she can impress a critic. The disguise is so good, the critic wants to buy the "bust" on the spot, prompting Ethel to mess with Lucy's face to make like she's ruining the sculpture so he'll refuse. It doesn't work and he tries to grab the "bust", pulling Lucy to her feet and exposing the scheme.
    • In "The Million Dollar Idea", Lucy and Ethel try to bottle Lucy's salad dressing for the market, and have a whirlwind success with an advertising spot where Lucy plays an "average housewife picked at random from the audience" to shill the stuff. When Ricky does some calculations and realizes the low price is going to put the girls further in the hole with every order, they try to "un-sell" their active orders with another TV spot where presenter Ethel and Lucy as another "random housewife" discover the dressing to be rancid and appalling. The mail bag delivered the next morning is full of increased orders praising the second spot as a clever comedy bit that sold them on the product. Lucy and Ethel eat the loss and close up shop by slapping their own labels on dressing bought from the store.
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • Subverted. Ricky went from being a nobody bandleader, to a noted bandleader, to a Night Club Manager, to a Night Club Owner, to a bit Movie Player, to the point in one of the The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour where Ricky tells Lucy "...It's just one picture I'm gonna be in! We're just gonna be back from California in two weeks!"
    • Also subverted in that as time went on Lucy got considerably less excited about meeting the Celebrity of the Week.
    • The Ricardos' living arrangements were also a subversion. They went from their initial apartment to a larger apartment in the same building, then eventually moved to Connecticut (along with the Mertzes). Their furniture also changed multiple times due to events in the episodes.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Less because of any chauvinism on Ricky's part, and more because Lucy really can't do anything else (though not for lack of trying, which is the basis for a great many episodes).
  • Sticky Situation: To show Ricky how ridiculous he looks with a mustache, Lucy has Fred attach a big bushy beard to her face with spirit gum. Problem is, it's not spirit gum, it's cement.
  • Stylistic Suck: Lucy's operetta, The Pleasant Peasant, boasts several Painful Rhymes, as well as a contrived plot and very corny wordplay. Not to mention the characters. Ethel plays the secretly-a-princess peasant Lily... of the Valley. Fred is Squire Quinn who ran the Inn, down by the River Out. Ricky's song goes, "I am the good Prince Lancelot. I love to sing and dance-a-lot." And of course, there's Lucy's comically bad singing, resulting in the other players singing over her parts to drown her out! The check for the show then bounces, prompting an awkward semi-in-character sung argument between Lucy and a cast member about the behind-the scenes issues, and the prop movers coming in to repossess the set live on stage is just the final insult!
  • Suburbia: The Ricardos and Mertzes move from New York City to Westport, Connecticut in season 6.
  • Subverted Trope:
    • In "Ricky's 'Life' Story", Ricky readily agrees to have Lucy in his show because he wants to teach her a lesson, flipping the formula of her being denied on its head.
    • In "The French Revue", a sequence sees Ricky being very good at catching Lucy and Ethel trying to sneak Lucy into the club act again and again, subverting the many times she pulled a Paper-Thin Disguise off flawlessly. Lucy eventually succeeds with an especially good ploy, but Ricky betting Lucy she couldn't do it and almost winning is a big subversion of formula.
    • In "The Girls Go Into Business", Lucy and Ethel realize they've been manipulated into buying a dead business. When Ethel mentions she found a buyer to relieve them, Lucy prepares a disguise of an ailing granny to one-up the sympathy scheme that had fooled them. Once she arrives in disguise, she finds out Ethel closed the deal without her, rendering the entire tactic moot and cutting off the scene viewers would have been trained to expect, since other episodes always put the disguise into action.
  • Subways Suck: Especially when you have a loving cup stuck on your head.
  • Surprise Multiple Birth: In the episode where Lucy gives birth to Little Ricky, Ricky and Fred chat with a man who is expecting his seventh child, with all six of the previous ones being girls. After his wife gives birth and the nurse tells him, "We have a surprise for you this time," he's ecstatic about finally having a boy, only to approach the window and learn his wife gave birth to triplets! All girls.
    Fred: Hey, at least you can start your own girl's softball team!
  • Swapped Roles: "Job Switching" features the men and the women trading lives as Ricky and Fred try out being homemakers and Lucy and Ethel seek employment. Ricky and Fred are the more direct swap, since Lucy and Ethel don't take up their husbands' vocations during the experiment.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Lucy dressed as a man semi-often to further her schemes. For example, an episode features her dressing as a hot dog salesman with a fake 'stache and as a baseball player to try to get Bob Hope to let her go on the show.
  • Syndication Title: When the show was retooled into the The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, reruns were shown on CBS under the titles Lucy in Hollywood, Lucy in Europe, and Lucy in Connecticut. In the 70s the Comedy Hour episodes were syndicated as one-hour specials under the title We Love Lucy. When Nick at Nite aired them, they restored the Comedy Hour title (minus the Ford/Westinghouse sponsor tags, of course). A March 2012 marathon on the Hallmark Channel had them back to We Love Lucy.

  • Tablecloth Yank: Lucy does this in one episode to reclaim her contributions to a gathering after she and Ethel get into a fight—the tablecloth was hers, so she effortlessly removes it this way from the table settings, which weren't.
  • Tear Up the Contract: One episode has Lucy bugging Ricky about buying another fancy dress. Ricky pulls out a paper she signed earlier that year promising to never ask for another dress if he bought her the one she currently wanted. Lucy tears it up, dismissing it as a forgery, but Ricky says he has a carbon copy.
  • Tempting Fate: In the famous "Job Switching", as Lucy and Ethel first start wrapping chocolates on the conveyor belt:
    Lucy: Well, this is easy.
    Ethel: Yeah, we can handle this okay.
    (the conveyor belt is ALREADY speeding up way faster than they can keep up with)
  • Trope Telegraphing: If the episode begins with the Ricardos and the Mertzes gushing about what great friends they are to each other then it's a safe bet that the episode is going to about them getting into some kind of feud.
  • There Was a Door: In the episode "Lucy and Superman", Lucy (who is going to pose as Superman) plans to use the (several-story) window. Ethel asks her to find some other way, and Lucy responds that the other way would cause unacceptable property damage.
    Ethel: Isn't there any other way Superman enters a room?
    Lucy: Well, sometimes he comes bursting through the wall, but you know how Fred would feel about that.
  • This Is My Side: "Men Are Messy" and "The Diner" both feature a space being divided down the middle after a conflict, though only "Men Are Messy" really deals with the logistical problems of enforcing a split room in this way. In "The Diner", it's less of a territorial dispute and each half of the divided restaurant is focused on swaying a customer who enters.
  • Three Cameras: The series pioneered this technique for shooting a sitcom.
  • Title Drop: In the very last Comedy Hour "Lucy Meets the Mustache", Ernie Kovacs manages to slip the phrase "Take a Good Look" into the dialogue. Take A Good Look was a comedy/game show Kovacs hosted at the time.
  • Title Sequence Replacement / Product Displacement: The original animated intros featured cartoon-Lucy and cartoon-Desi interacting around a giant Philip Morris cigarette pack. For decades, only the heart-logo intros made for syndication were seen. A Criterion laserdisc of the show presented episodes with the animated openings, and TV Land later reintroduced them to broadcast (now with a slightly less giant vintage TV set showing the network logo on its screen). The Ultimate Blu-Ray sets offer a choice between the animated or heart intro.
  • Trickster Archetype: Lucy is the female example of this, always having a scheme to address an obstacle with.
  • Troperiffic: At least half the tropes in all following sitcoms owe their lives to this show. Reruns! It invented reruns!
  • Tuckerization: In-universe, Little Ricky names all of his pets after people he likes (many of his different pets are named after his classmates from school), and as such, named a puppy he brought home Fred. Later, in the final episode, where the puppy Fred goes missing, Hilarity Ensues with Little Ricky, Lucy, and Ethel calling for him, while Fred himself either answers when he thinks they're calling for him but are actually calling for the dog and doesn't answer when he think they're calling the dog but are calling him.
  • Twist Ending: Turns out the situation Ricky and Fred created in "The Gossip" about the Milkman seducing a friend of Lucy and Ethel's turns out to be true as the Milkman is seen trying to hide in the Ricardo's closet from the woman's angry husband. Double Twisted, as Lucy actually paid the two of them to play out the scene in front of Ricky and Fred to get both her and Ethel out of the bet.
  • Tutti Frutti Hat: In order to make her Cuban husband feel "more at home" Lucy redecorates the house with a jumble of Spexico items and comes out herself in a Carmen Miranda outfit — who as has been mentioned, came from Brazil, not even a Spanish-speaking country — lip-syncing to a recording of "Mamãe Eu Quero."
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Fred and Ethel create this effect due to their casting in William Frawley and Vivian Vance. Vance resented that she was meant to be viewed as a comparable age and attractiveness to Frawley, and some jokes about her age or beauty may not land well with the visual presented to the audience.
  • Ultimate Job Security:
    • Ethel is having difficulty getting a passport and threatens to report an Obstructive Bureaucrat to Washington and get him fired, but he counters that as a civil servant, he wouldn't lose his job until he died.
    • Ricky enjoys massive job security as a bandleader. Even when he does get fired in Season One's "Ricky Asks for a Raise", he gets a license to pretty much choose his own job when his former workplace, the Tropicana, seems to be losing all of its patrons because he's not performing there (actually a successful scheme by Lucy, Ethel, and Fred).
    • Subverted in the Season 4 episode "Ricky Needs an Agent", where Lucy gets him fired from MGM after dressing as an agent.
  • Unexpected Positive: Lucy forces Ricky to go to the eye doctor where they find out that his eyes are perfectly's Lucy who can't see the eye chart correctly! In typical Lucy fashion, wackiness ensues when she gets eye drops and is hopeless in her dancing routine as a result.
  • The Unintelligible: Little Ricky could sometimes be this - one of the adults will generally laugh and say "Heh heh...did you hear that? He says..." and repeat the line of dialogue for the audience.
  • Unknown Rival: Xavier Cugat is often mentioned as a rival to Ricky since they are both Cuban bandleaders. However, Cugat never made an appearance on the show and it was never particularly indicated that he would see Ricky as a rival. Also ironic in that, in Real Life, Cugat helped give Desi Arnaz his start in show business as a guitar player in his orchestra.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Enciente" and "expecting" for "pregnant"; it was the fifties, and you weren't allowed to say "pregnant" on television. Not even in the episode titles that the audience did not see.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In "Return Home From Europe", when Ricky explains to the customs officer about Lucy's plan to pose a piece of cheese as a baby to avoid extra travel expenses:
    Customs officer: Well, didn't you think this was rather strange behavior?
    Ricky: For Lucy? No.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In many instances, Ethel would be the one to make an offhand remark that sparked one of Lucy’s infamous ideas, and usually instantly regret opening her mouth. On fewer occasions, Fred would make similar idea-inspiring comments.
  • Vacation Episode: Most of the fourth season (and part of the fifth) was taken up with an entire vacation Story Arc in Hollywood. Another arc later in the fifth season involved the Ricardos and Mertzes touring around Europe, while a shorter sixth season arc had the group visiting Miami and Cuba.
  • Very False Advertising: One episode from the Hollywood story arc places the Ricardos and the Mertzes in rural Ohio; after making a pitstop at a rundown roadside diner where the lone proprietor only serves stale cheese sandwiches, they leave. Afterwards, Lucy drives down the road, while Ricky, Fred, and Ethel sleep, finding a billboard, promising good accommodations and wonderful food if you turn left onto the next road - Lucy does so, only to take everyone right back to the same rundown diner, where the proprietor admits he was waiting for them, saying that he put up that billboard himself to make everyone travel in circles. Not surprisingly, his only cabin is bare-bones, the full bed's mattress dips down to the floor, and passing trains shake the entire cabin violently.
  • Vetinari Job Security:
    • Ricky and Fred make a complete mess of the kitchen involving some bad math and a great amount of rice, while Lucy and Ethel fail miserably at the chocolate factory. Each side decides to stick to their usual roles because it'd be a disaster otherwise.
    • Possibly inverted later after they move out of the city. Lucy and Ethel want Ricky and Fred to build a barbecue in their yard, but Ricky and Fred have stalled. Ethel mentions that the easiest way she has found to light a fire under Fred is to start doing something herself, and somehow mess up so he'll jump in and fix it. Sure enough, Lucy and Ethel start planning how they'll fix the barbecue themselves (badly,) and Ricky and Fred jump right in to finish it.
  • Visual Pun: In "The Benefit" Lucy and Ethel argue over who should play the part head of the horse costume, and the other playing the backside. When Ethel agrees to play the latter, she holds it up and says, "How do I get myself into these messes?"note 
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Little Ricky names his dog Fred, which makes Fred Mertz instantly switch to endorsing the dog.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In the show's third episode, "The Diet", we get a scene involving the Mertzes' dog, Butch...who's never seen again.
    • In the episode with Little Ricky bringing home Fred the puppy, a whole bunch of other pets are shown and mentioned in this one episode only.
    • Fred, the dog not the Mertz, also disappears during the sequel series.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Whenever a rerun aired in between new episodes, the cast prepared a new introduction in which one of the characters brings up the events of that episode in conversation. They also used such introductions during Lucille Ball's maternity leave, when showing five never-before-aired episodes that Lucy participated in before she gave birth.
    • The pilot for the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour episode has Lucy relating to columnist Hedda Hopper the story of how she and Ricky first met, with the expected Whole Episode Flashback ensuing.
  • With Friends Like These...: At times the Mertzes qualify. It's a testament to the strength of their friendship with the Ricardos that they never have a permanent falling-out, considering situations like these:
    • In "Breaking the Lease", the Ricardos and Mertzes have a late-night singalong to honor their great friendship. When the Mertzes go home, Lucy and Ricky keep on singing. Just minutes later, the Mertzes call them up and complain nastily about the 'racket', which they were taking part in previously.
    • For the Mertzes' wedding anniversary in "The Courtroom", the Ricardos buy their friends a new television set. In an attempt to fix a problem with the picture, Ricky begins fiddling with the settings and wires in the back, and by accident causes it to explode. In response, Fred becomes unreasonably angry, runs upstairs, and spitefully destroys the Ricardos' own television. Then he has the nerve to take them to court! All this over a new television that the Mertzes themselves didn't pay for and was just given to them as a gift!
    • In "Redecorating the Mertzes' Apartment", Lucy kindly offers to help Fred and Ethel fix up their apartment, with Ricky even agreeing to pay for all the materials. As Lucy and Ethel begin to reupholster an old chair by taking the feather stuffing out of it, Fred plugs in a fan to get rid of the paint smell. Naturally this ends in disaster with feathers flying all over the place. But Fred and Ethel get mad at Lucy, who had nothing to do with this incident, just because the redecorating was her idea. The Ricardos end up having to give the Mertzes their furniture and so must pay to redecorate their own apartment on top of everything. Lucy has had to sacrifice her opportunity to have a mink stole to boot!
    • As the title suggests, “Ricky Sells the Car” has Ricky selling the Pontiac and purchasing train tickets for the journey home. Unfortunately, he’s so focused on saving money with a family plan package that he forgets to buy tickets for the Mertzes. They are so insulted that they recklessly buy a broken down motorcycle to drive back to New York. Though everything gets smoothed over in the end, with Ricky buying the tickets of course, the Mertzes show zero appreciation for the fact they received a free ride to California (Fred flatly refused to pay for any gas) and, presumably, a hotel room covered by Ricky’s studio for the last 10 months.
  • Women Are Wiser: Famously inverted, with Lucy being the one to come up with the ZanySchemes, while Ricky was the Straight Man.
  • Women Drivers: The first time Lucy gets behind the wheel of a car, she tries to make a U-turn in the Holland Tunnel.
    Lucy: Yeah... the police said the cars were backed up all the way to East Orange, New Jersey.
  • Work Off the Debt: In "Equal Rights" Lucy and Ethel have to wash dishes after Ricky and Fred make them pay for their own meals with money they don't have after they complain that they should be treated just the same as men.
  • World's Shortest Book: When Lucy decides to write a novel:
    Lucy: I'm writing about things I know.
    Ethel: That won't be a novel, that'll be a short story!
  • You Were Trying Too Hard: Lucy and Ricky are on a TV quiz show. After Lucy blows the first two questions, the third asks what George Washington said while crossing the Delaware. Ricky, who has no idea, has given up and says to Lucy, "Please let me sit down, this is making me sick." This is the correct answer and wins them the prize.
  • Your Favorite: Lucy's favorite breakfast is waffles.
    • Little Ricky's favorite bedtime story is Little Red Riding Hood.
    • Ricky's favorite dinner is generally mentioned as "arroz con pollo" (chicken and rice for non-Spanish speakers). In one episode it's said to be roasted pig, however.
  • Zany Scheme: Pretty much every episode. Stereotypically it involves Lucy trying to sneak into Ricky's nightclub, but there are plenty of different schemes, and the nightclub one was more done in spoofs than the actual show. Usually Lucy created a Zany Scheme based on some real-life trial like playing matchmaker, getting a refrigerator, or earning some quick cash for a new dress. As stated before, Hilarity Always Ensued.


Lucy's Freezer

Lucy Ricardo + Walk-In Freezer = This.

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / LockedInAFreezer

Media sources: