Jeeves: Experience, sir?
A TV Series starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie and based on the short stories and novels of P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves and Wooster is set sometime between the wars and focuses on Bertie Wooster, an affable but not overly bright young chap with an unfortunate tendency to get accidentally engaged to every woman he so much as looks at, while his valet (not butler), Jeeves, is the brains of the operation, suggesting the various schemes that help Bertie and his friends get out of trouble. Well sometimes. Sometimes, he gives them what they need, not what they want.
The plots tend to be quite similar — a friend of Bertie's is in love but they lack the courage to propose/their family doesn't approve of the match/they've forgotten the girl's name and address, and they require Bertie to propose in their stead/pretend to be engaged to their fiancée/pose as a burglar to make them look heroic when they foil him; this will go wrong and Bertie will get unwillingly engaged to someone, or be caught stealing something, or both. At the last minute everything will turn out all right and Jeeves will explain how he solved everything. Grateful at being saved from the altar or prison (or both) once again, Bertie will give permission for Jeeves to book the cruise he's been angling for, or destroy the hat of Bertie's he dislikes; inevitably, Jeeves has already done so.
- Abhorrent Admirer: Honoria Glossop, Florence Craye, and Madeleine Bassett. Rare examples where the primary problems are with their personalities, and not their appearances. With Honoria Glossop it is more the case of No Guy Wants an Amazon, which is a special case of Bertie who is mortally afraid of strong-willed women mainly due to bad experiences with his aunts. On the other hand, Bingo Little has a brief infatuation with Honoria, and she does eventually find a guy who is actually a great fit for her.
- Accidental Dance Craze: On one occasion, when Gussie and Bertie are in the Drones Club discussing Gussie's difficulty confessing his love to Madeline Bassett, Gussie complains to Bertie that male newts have it much easier, as they profess attraction by performing a simple body-shaking movement — which he demonstrates, inspiring two nearby Drones to invent a new dance which nearly everyone in the room is doing by the time Gussie and Bertie leave.
- Accidental Marriage: Throughout the series, Bertie becomes accidentally engaged often to the same women (Honoria, Madeline, and Florence) two or three times, though in the final episode Bertie outdoes himself when he ends up accidentally engaged to two women simultaneously.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: During the first season, the blonde Madeline Bassett was portrayed by a brunette. Both actresses who were cast as the platinum blonde Florence Craye were also brunettes. Finally, the hair of the actress who portrayed Bobbie Wickham during the first season could hardly be described as a vivid shade of red (or any shade of red unless you squinted really hard).
- Aesop Amnesia: In several of the stories Bertie tries to fix things on his own, invariably making them ten times worse, and realising that the only one who can get him out of this mess is Jeeves. He often seems to have forgotten this lesson by the beginning of the next story. However, there was also at least one time when Bertie remembered the aesop, but decided to ignore it in order to prove he didn't need Jeeves. He did.
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: In the very first episode, Bingo does this to Oswald Glossop (the boy he's tutoring) during dinner, dismissing something the boy just said.
- Age Lift: Though Jeeves' age is never given in the stories, it's implied he's rather older than Bertie, especially as he has a niece who's old enough to marry one of Bertie's friends. In real life, Stephen Fry is only two years older than Hugh Laurie.
- Arc Words: More like Episode Words for Roderick Spode: "Eulalie" and "Celia."
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The principles of Roderick Spode's miniature fascist movement.
- Introducing his manifesto to "rebuild Britain":"Our policies are clear, our policies are just, our policies are fully laid out in my book, Whither England?, priced three and sixpence from all good booksellers.
- Reading out the "policies" of the manifesto:"One, the right — nay the duty — of every free born Englishman to grow his own potatoes. Two, an immediate ban on the import of foreign root vegetables into the United Kingdom. And three, the compulsory scientific measurement of all adult male knees."
- Introducing his manifesto to "rebuild Britain":
- Artistic Licence Law: Roderick Spode announces his intention to renounce his peerage title in order to stand for the House of Commons. This was not permitted in the UK until 1963, when a law was passed allowing it so that Tony Benn, Viscount Stansgate, could do exactly that.
- Ash Face:
- Happens to Constable Oates when using some dynamite to blow open Sir Watkyn Bassett's broken safe. He lights the dynamite and instead of taking cover just steps back a few feet and watches.
- Bertie, Cheesewright, Lord Worplesdon and Mr. Clam are zapped by a lightning and become covered by soot afterwards.
- At the Opera Tonight: In one episode, Tuppy drags his friends — Bertie included — to watch his new girlfriend's opera and quickly nod off. Even Tuppy looks desolate when Bertie informs him that there are five acts.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: In the last season, Jeeves has to dress as a female novelist. Bertie finds his feminine appearance rather amusing, but Stilton Cheesewright finds him more attractive than his ex-fiancée. (Just to remind you, Jeeves is played by Stephen Fry, who is nearly six-and-a-half feet tall, and does not have what you would call a traditionally feminine build.)Aunt Dahlia: What do you mean, Cheesewright's taken a fancy to her? She's Jeeves!
- Batman Gambit: Jeeves is the master of the Gambit, based on what he calls "the psychology of the individual."
- Beach Bury: In the episode where Bertie is staying by the seaside and his aunt's necklace gets stolen, there's a scene that opens with Bertie already buried, which hampers his ability to run away from the girl of the week when she shows up. One can only assume that he asked Jeeves to bury him.
- Bedsheet Ladder: Subverted. In one episode Gussie wanted to use Bertie's sheet to escape. Bertie refused to let him, as much because it wouldn't work as because he didn't want his sheets dirty and knotted.
- Berserk Button:
- Timid, wobbly Gussie Fink-Nottle cannot abide anyone messing with his newts. When Sir Watkyn, his would-be father-in-law, washes them down the tub, Gussie calls him an unmitigated ass.
- Don't try to get rude with or cheat on Madeline unless you're sure Spode won't find out.
- Big Eater:
- Tuppy Glossop, to the point that it becomes a point of contention with his fiancée Angela, who thinks he's more concerned about what's on his plate than her well-being.
- Lord Biddlesham, who is actually sent into Glossop's clinic to be cured of his gluttonous ways.
- Big "NO!": Sir Watkyn Bassett, upon learning of Bertie and Madeleine's "engagement".
- "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Set up and then averted in "A Plan for Gussie", when Bertie is trying to retrieve Gussie's notebook (which is full of hateful observations on Roderick Spode and Sir Watkyn Bassett) from Stephanie. Stephanie won't give the notebook back unless Bertie gets Jeeves to try and convince Sir Watkyn to allow Stephanie and Pinker to marry.Bertie: Stiffy... are you trying to blackmail me?
- Blatant Lies: Very much Jeeves' modus operandi, although other characters occasionally engage in it as well in an emergency, such as when Bertie locks Lord Chiswick in a room to prevent Ms. Rockmetteller from meeting him:note
- Occasionally subverted for comic effect when Jeeves DOESN'T lie even when he has suggested the subterfuge, although normally for the greater good, but still with hilarious consequences. On this occasion Bertie (at Jeeves' suggestion) attempts to cover for Wilmot's short stay in prison by telling his overbearing mother that he is in Boston:note
- Occasionally subverted for comic effect when Jeeves DOESN'T lie even when he has suggested the subterfuge, although normally for the greater good, but still with hilarious consequences. On this occasion Bertie (at Jeeves' suggestion) attempts to cover for Wilmot's short stay in prison by telling his overbearing mother that he is in Boston:
- Blue-and-Orange Morality:
- Jeeves doesn't give a fig if Bertie gambles, drinks too much, or commits burglary. In fact, he actively helps Bertie blackmail Roderick Spode for the return of Gussie's notebook. Although he refuses to actually tell Bertie what the secret he has discovered is, he happily equips him with the word 'Eulalie' to do with as he sees fit. But he will countenance no fiancées, mustaches, monogrammed handkerchiefs, 'American hats' or white dinner jackets. He is driven to weeping upon hearing that Bertie's friend Rocky "dresses" by throwing on a sweater over his pyjamas at 5 in the afternoon.
- There's also the Code of the Woosters, which means that Bertie can never do something so unchivalrous as break an engagement. He can, however, get the girl to break it off through lying to her and her family, stealing, blackmailing, and ruining other people's relationships so the girl will go back to her ex.
- Bratty Half-Pint: The children that appear are all spoiled terrors who make life miserable for pretty much everyone around them. Seeing one get a cuff around the ear results in quite a bit of schadenfreude.
- Brawn Hilda: Honoria Glossop, who is strong of body and mind, and always makes Bertie wince whenever she proffers a friendly slap on the arm.
- ...But He Sounds Handsome: When Bertie and Gussie spend an episode pretending to be each other, they both do this. Bertie-as-Gussie says that Bertie is one of the finest minds of his generation; Gussie-as-Bertie talks about how fulfilling it would be to have as many newts as Gussie does.
- Butt-Monkey: Bertie is this to practically everyone (including his valet! Then again...)
- Cannot Spit It Out: All Gussie needs to do to get the woman he loves is to confess his feelings — he already knows she feels the same way. But when it comes to the moment he loses nerve and launches into a 30-minute lecture on the care and habits of newts.
- Captain Obvious:
- Bertie. "Also, ribbon-like seaweed... which is seaweed that sort of looks like... ribbon."
- And this exchange:Aunt Dahlia: Have you heard of Market Snodsbury Grammar School?
Aunt Dahlia: It's a grammar school. In Market Snodsbury.
- The Cast Show Off: Bertie Wooster was not a musician in the books. This was added into the series to show off Hugh Laurie's piano-playing and love of 1920s and '30s songs.
- Catapult Nightmare: In "Return to New York", Bertie experiences this after spending an unwanted night on the town with Claude and Eustace. Accompanied by yelling of "NO NO I DON'T WANT ANY MORE CHAMPAGNE!"
- Character Development: Sir Roderick Glossop mellows out over the second season, in sort of a small-scale HeelFace Turn.
- Character Name Alias: When Bertie and his friends get arrested. Since the magistrate is Bertie's friend Chuffy, he knows who they really are, but plays along:Magistrate: These are serious charges. But I'm inclined to believe that you, Alfred Trotsky, and you, Frederick Aloisius Lenin, were led astray. You are discharged. But as for the rest of you: Boko Disraeli, Oofy Lloyd George, Barmy, Lord Tennyson, and the rest — not only have you been guilty of a breach of the peace of considerable magnitude, I also strongly suspect that you have given false names and addresses! You are each fined the sum of five pounds.
Bertie: I say!
Magistrate: Quiet, Dr. Crippen!
- Chick Magnet:
Waitress: (to Jeeves) Say, you're pretty cute, you know that?
- Bertie manages to attract a large number of women. Then again, he's rich, not too hard on the eyes and quite a pleasant person.
- Jeeves occasionally gets a female admirer or two himself.
Jeeves: Thank you. So I have been informed.
Waitress: (Giggling) You really slay me.
Bertie: Jeeves, you seem to have a fatal fascination with the women in this country.
Jeeves: Yes, it is a problem, sir.
Bertie: No chance of your switching it off, or something, I suppose?
Jeeves: I regret not, sir. I have to learn to bear it.
Bertie: As do the rest of us, Jeeves.
- Compromising Memoirs: Sir Watkin's memoirs become the centre of a truly awesome farce.
- Confronting Your Imposter:
Barmy: Mr. Wooster's residence. [pause] Where is Mr. Wooster? He's not at home, sir. I'm Jeeves. [pause] What do you mean 'you think not?' [pause] Oh! [He hangs up.]
- In season 1 episode 5, "Brinkley Manor," Jeeves is away and Bertie is forced to take care of himself. While he is struggling to make tea, Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps arrives for a visit. When the phone rings, Bertie asks Barmy to answer it and pretend he is Jeeves.
Bertie: Who was it?
- Used later on a Brick Joke. In an earlier episode, Bertie had pretended to be a writer of romance novels under the pseudonym "Rosie M. Banks" in order to help one of his friends convince his uncle to approve of an engagement to a woman of lower social station. It doesn't work the first time, but in the fourth season, when his friend has fallen for another woman of lower social station, it proves to be helpful and after some initial reluctance the uncle is willing to support the marriage. That is, until it's revealed that the woman Bertie's friend married actually IS Rosie M. Banks, and she's quite indignant that someone has been impersonating her, and insulted that the uncle doesn't believe her.
- Cool Old Lady: Aunt Dahlia, who is quite happy to plot and scheme her way into getting what she wants. Though she still pushes Bertie around, she's far more affectionate than Aunt Agatha.
- Critical Research Failure: One is committed by Tuppy: he has a scheme to sell the Spritz Polecat, an American automobile, to his fellow fops, but he fails to take into account that people in the United States drive on the right side of the road, and the automobile maker won't even consider making a model for left-side driving unless he'd be selling a thousand cars a week.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon:
- Dark Secret: Jeeves reveals British fascist leader Sir Roderick Spode's terrible secret to Bertie: Spode owns a ladies' fashion boutique. Should this become widely known it would ruin his reputation.Bertie: You can't be a successful Dictator and design womens' underclothing. One or the other. Not both.
- I Have Your Wife: Roderick Spode, in the final episode, chooses to renounce his title of the Earl of Sidcup, to contest election to the House of Commons. He is, however, convinced to take back his title after Jeeves reveals the secret of 'Celia'- a kangaroo he whisked away from Australia, which Jeeves brings before him.
- Deadpan Snarker: Jeeves, Jeeves, Jeeves. Although he's quite reliant on the Stealth Insult.
- Dirty Commies: Bingo falls in love with a member of a Communist revolutionary group and delivers fiery speeches about the bourgeoisie in a park under a fake beard so none of his bourgeois friends or relatives can recognize him. He invites himself and his new Communist friends over to Bertie's flat for tea, wherein both Bertie and Jeeves have to pretend to be Communists as well (not very successfully). Much Hypocritical Humour ensues as the Communists find themselves in a fancy apartment and being served fancy food.
- Disguised in Drag: "The Delayed Arrival" has both Jeeves and Bertie briefly in drag; Jeeves disguised as an American author, and Bertie as a maid.
- The Ditz:
- Cyril "Barmy" Fotheringay-Phipps (Adam Blackwood, then recast with a young Martin Clunes) is well-named."I don't think I've ever been to Kensington."
"[...]Yes, you have. Your mother lives in Kensington."
"Oh, that Kensington!"
- Bertie himself isn't overly gifted with intelligence, although compared to most of his social set he's a certified genius.
- Cyril "Barmy" Fotheringay-Phipps (Adam Blackwood, then recast with a young Martin Clunes) is well-named.
- Dramatic Sit-Down: Used for comedic effect in one episode, the normally unfazeable Jeeves has to stop and sit down on a convenient rock when a friend of Bertie's mentions that he often wears his pajamas well into the afternoon.
- Drunken Montage: Season three, episode one shows the feckless character Wooster is supposed to keep out of trouble cutting loose this way.
- Embarrassing First Name:
- Lord Chuffnell's first name is Marmaduke. His friends all know him as "Chuffy".
- Tuppy seems embarrassed when Bertie learns his real first name, Hildebrand.
- Likewise, in a late episode one Mr. Trotter avoids a knighthood for fear of being known as "Sir Lemuel". (This was likely based on Wodehouse's own fears of becoming known as "Sir Pelham".)
- Evil Matriarch: Aunt Agatha. Not so much "evil" as "constantly short-tempered and taking none of Bertie's shit", but the trope still stands.
- Exact Words: when Stilton Cheesewright confronts Bertie about taking his fiancee to a "low nightclub," Bertie asks Jeeves for confirmation that he said he was going to bed with an improving book, leaving out that after he had said that Jeeves had informed him that Cheesewright's fianncee was indeed dragging him out to a low nightclub.
- Extreme Doormat: Bertie will do any favor asked of him, no matter how dangerous or potentially embarrassing it might be. And when he does refuse, he's inevitably blackmailed by whoever is asking the favor. Notably, he agreed to try and steal a silver cow-creamer, a cheque for 50,000 dollars (although to destroy it, not cash it) and a manuscript, but has also been instrumental in making and breaking a large number of engagements and passing himself off as such disparate characters as a jute-salesman and Gussy Fink-Nottle, all at the behest of his various friends, most of whom are less able even than he.
- Fanservice: The earlier episodes like showing Bertie in the bathtub a lot.
- Fascinating Eyebrow: Jeeves, constantly. Sir Roderick Glossop has these, too.
- Finale Credits: The last episode showed the title characters running from an angry mob during the end credits.
- Forgetful Jones: Charles Edward "Biffy" Biffen. When he says he's lost the girl he loves, he means it.
- French Cuisine Is Haughty: Aunt Dahlia's French chef Anatole tends to be very temperamental and prone to threatening to quit whenever he feels like his work is not being appreciated.
- Full-Name Ultimatum: The very first scene: "I find you guilty as charged, Bertram... Wilberforce... Wooster!"
- Funny Background Event:
- Arriving back from a tour across America, Bertie comes to his apartment wearing a cowboy hat, a very furry jacket, and a mustache. After he hands the hat to Jeeves, Jeeves can be seen handing the hat off to the doorman, who takes it and puts it on as he's leaving.
- Just about every scene in the Drones Club shows the other members up to varying kinds of jackassery that wouldn't be out of place in a college frat house.
- Geek: Gussie Fink-Nottle, his particular geek-dom being newts.
- Genteel Interbellum Setting: The series is set in an idealized version of England at an indeterminate point between the World Wars, and largely picks and chooses on matters of detail — Bertie Wooster drives a mid-'30s car, for instance, but Prohibition is still alive and well when he visits the US. (Not to mention how the Twin Towers appear in the very first scene set in New York, despite the fact that they were built in the 1970s! The interior shots, however, do look consistently like pre-war New York buildings.)
- Gorgeous Period Dress: It makes a man wish that dinner jackets (tuxedos to Americans) were still de rigueur, even when dining alone in your own home.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Played for laughs at one point where Bertie says "blasted" when talking to Aunt Agatha. A group of old ladies nearby react with horror and Aunt Agatha angrily tells Bertie to watch his language.
- Guile Hero: Jeeves.
- Hair of the Dog / Hideous Hangover Cure: This is one of the first things Jeeves does for Bertie upon arriving. A generous splash of cognac, a raw egg, some black pepper, and a few other secret ingredients make for a drink that wipes out Bertie's hangover within seconds.
- Hanging Judge: "In Court After the Boat Race (or, Jeeves' Arrival)" features Sir Watkyn Bassett who hands down a five-pound fine for stealing a policeman's helmet as if he were pronouncing a death sentence. Of course, in modern money, that's around £500.
- Heroic BSoD: Jeeves, twice, when Bertie's friend's fashion quirks really are that bad. In one instance (where Bertie's friend is talking about how he wears pyjamas all day until mid evening when he throws on a jumper) Bertie actually calls out "Don't listen, Jeeves!" aware of the profound impact this will have on his manservant.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: The title characters, despite the fact that one of them is played by Stephen Fry.
- Hidden Depths: Sir Watkyn Basset, incredibly relieved that Bertie intended to marry his niece, not his daughter, rather optimistically (and against all available evidence to the contrary) speculates Bertie might have some. Bertie also is unconvinced.
- Hurricane of Euphemisms: "The money! The oof, the dibs, the do-re-mi! The happy cabbage! The oil of palm!" "Yes, I do speak English."
- Hypocrite: Roderick Spode, about Communists. He ridicules the Red Dawn in particular and Communists in general, even though he made an entry into the show with overly populist promises not very different from them. And when the Red Dawn members got violent, he condemned their unruly ways, only to call for violence from his own Black Shorts.
- Idle Rich: Bertie, and many of his acquaintances. When Lady Glossop, scouting a husband for her daughter, inquires if he's employed, the best Bertie can offer is that he is thinking about getting a job.
- I Have This Friend...:
- Bertie never seems to learn that when he says things like 'there is a heart here that yearns for you', it's bound to be taken the wrong way. He really does have this friend.
- Although played straight at least once, when he tried to ask for Jeeves' help with a situation that came about because he deliberately hadn't asked for help, in order to prove he didn't always need him.
- Inflationary Dialogue: Bertie is trying to pose as author Rosie M. Banks for his friend Bingo's family. Bingo's young cousin asks him how many words there are on a page. Clearly having no idea, he comes out with:Uh... twenty or thirty. I mean, depends on the page. About... two hundred. About a thousand, more or less. I mean, on a single page, you mean. Yes, mmm... about ten thousand. I mean, that would be one of the bigger pages.
- Informed Attribute: Despite what Bertie's nearest and dearest seem to think, he shows no signs of insanity. Terminal stupidity, yes, but not insanity.
- He does have a tendency to put himself into situations that to those unaware of the reasoning (i.e. most of the 'adult' characters) seem to be utterly illogical and certainly without explanation might seem a little mad. Having been arrested numerous times, engaged to just about every eligible woman he has met and involved in all manner of hijinks, pranks, attempted burglaries, escapes from the police and general tomfoolery, the weight of evidence might suggest that he is not entirely normal.
- Inter-Class Romance:
- Bingo, one of Bertie's friends wants to marry a waitress. To convince his uncle that it's a good idea, he makes him read romance novels where chambermaids end up marrying their masters, even forcing Bertie to impersonate the writer. The uncle is convinced and promptly marries his cook — meaning he cannot afford to give Bingo the increased inheritance he was hoping for to make the marriage possible.
- Bingo does end up getting married to a woman of a lower social class, however — the very woman who wrote those romance novels his uncle was such a fan of!
- Likewise, Uncle George, the Earl of Yaxley, has a habit of falling love with barmaids. He eventually gets married to his original barmaid.
- It's All About Me: Everyone in Bertie's social circle are perfectly willing to ruin the lives of everyone else around them, but are appalled the moment anything remotely inconveniences them.
- It's Been Done: In "Return to New York", Tuppy's recipe for cockaleekie soup isn't as secret as he thinks it is.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Parodied, as Madeline Bassett believes this is why Bertie tries so hard to save her relationship with his friend Gussie. Actually, it's because he's frankly terrified by the thought of marrying a woman who believes the stars are God's daisy chain.
- Jerkass: Stiffie Byng seems to relish throwing Bertie to the lions to accomplish whatever she's trying to do in each episode (generally getting her guardian to approve of her marrying her sweetheart, the village curate).
- The Jeeves: An incarnation of the Trope Namer.
- Jive Turkey: In New York, Jeeves warns some visiting small-town Midwesterners against letting it get out that they've been "mousetrapped by a pair of suede-shoed feather merchants."
- Just Eat Gilligan: Bertie can never just explain beforehand that he doesn't want to get engaged or even just break it off once he's in the situation. It's against the chivalrous "Code of the Woosters", so it always requires a complex social scheme (usually from Jeeves) or a lucky turn or two to get him out of it. Lying, stealing identities, scheming, stealing, and breaking up other people's engagements so the girl would get back together with her ex, that's all fine.
- The Klutz: Rev. Harold "Stinker" Pinker is constantly knocking things over, particularly tables.
- Large Ham:
- Roderick Spode. It helps that he was written as a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s. Apparently, he is unable to give a speech without gnawing his lectern and uses a record of a screaming appreciative crowd to give more weight to his speech to a near empty hall. When we see him practicing a speech by himself, he simply exclaims the key words of his policies in order, all dripping with dramatic intent (Bicycles! Umbrellas! Brussel sprouts!) making his own cheering audience sounds between each to further increase the effect. All of this underlines the fact that it is all a massive ego trip and that despite his best efforts, his movement is tiny. There is something so much funnier about ludicrous policies delivered with such obvious intensity and intent but with almost no-one listening. Specifically, if you actually listen to his speeches, you will not only notice plenty of Cloudcuckoolander ideas (replacing 27,000 miles of railway track in order to widen their spacing by eight inches to facilitate the transportation of livestock, paid for by the fact that sheep will be able to stand sideways), but also a lot of mixed metaphors ("to take up the reins of the ship of state"), impressive-sounding banalities ("Tomorrow is another day! The future lies ahead!), and sentences which he thinks will be profound sound-bites but clearly show that he has no idea what he's talking about ("Rome may have been built in a day, but it took only a TRUMPET. To bring down. The walls. Of Jericho!").
- The priest at Twing. "Do we, like Ezekiel... DOUBT... the Lord's power? Do we, like Ezekiel... ask... 'Can these bones LIIIVE?'" Later on, we see him when he's not sermonizing, and he is — if anything — even more over-the-top: "Wrrrrretched boy!"
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At the end of the second episode of the second season, Bertie starts playing the theme song on piano, leading into the closing credits.
- Love Informant: In the first episode, Bertie Wooster attempts to play this role for his friend Bingo Little, who is infatuated with Honoria Glossop, but Honoria instead gets the impression that he's speaking on his own behalf, and spends the rest of the series convinced that Bertie is pining for her.
- Majored in Western Hypocrisy: An episode where Bertie blacks up and attempts caveman-speak to impersonate a visiting African chief is arguably saved from cringeworthiness when the real chief shows up in a Rolls-Royce, with an entourage, turns out to have a posher voice than Bertie, and to be an Old Harrovian (educated in England).
- Meaningful Name:
- Jeeves' first name, Reginald, means "council power" in Old German; appropriate for someone that everyone goes to for advice. Inverted with Bertie, which (also in Old German) means "bright,"
- Also, Jeeves belongs to a club for valets called The Junior Ganymede...
- The club that Bertie and his friends belong to is called the Drones. Rich young men with nothing to do, buzzing around wasting time until they are forced to marry and father children, their only serious responsibility in life being to breed and continue the Heir Club for Men. So pretty much exactly like drone bees.
- Another one is that it wouldn't be too surprising if Bertie was named after/alludes to Prince Bertie, the future King Edward VII, for whom the Edwardian Age was named. While that Bertie was short for Albert (not Bertram), like Bertie Wooster, he had a reputation as a well-meaning but dim hedonist, and had a bad relationship with his Grand Dame mother, Queen Victoria, much like Bertie's relationship with his aunts.
- Metaphorgotten:Spode: Because he's a butterfly, who toys with women's hearts and throws them aside like soiled gloves!
Bertie: Do butterflies do that?
- Mistaken for Cheating: In more than one episode, Madeline walks in on Gussie in compromising but completely innocent positions with other women.
- Nazi Nobleman: Roderick Spode. For once, though, brought off successfully. Wodehouse based Spode on an actual person. In addition, once Spode inherits his familial title (becoming the 7th Earl of Sidcup), he gives up his quirky version of fascism.
- Nephewism: Bertie. In the original novels, it is established that his parents are dead. No mention is made of them in the show, aside from a remark that his mother "thought [him] intelligent."
- No Guy Wants an Amazon: Bertie is constantly dodging engagement proposals from women, but Honoria Glossop may be the only woman he's actually afraid of marrying
- No Indoor Voice:
- No Name Given: Jeeves. His first name isn't revealed until the final episode; it hadn't occurred to Bertie that he even had one.
- Noodle Incident: "Bridegroom Wanted" ends with everyone who has a grudge with Bertie cornering him and Jeeves on a ship. With no other alternative, they both jump off the ship, and the scene cuts to Bertie's apartment in London, several months later, with both Bertie and Jeeves just arriving home in tattered clothing and with very long beards, after apparently rowing home...going the wrong way around the world, if their comments are to be believed. Bertie remarks that if his hat could talk, it would have some pretty interesting tales to tell.
- No Sense of Humor: Sir Roderick Glossop not only has no sense of humor, he seems to think that humor is an obvious sign of insanity, given his reactions to the constantly jovial Bertie.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: In-universe. When Jeeves wants to alert the police to the fact that people are creeping around the village with blackened faces, he attempts to use rustic dialect ("It be old Boggy. He be abroad tonight...") but still delivered in his usual RP accent.
- Not Good with People: Gussy Fink-Nottle finds newts easy, people difficult. Especially women.
- Not What It Looks Like: Happens constantly to Gussie and often enough to Bertie
- Oireland: There's an episode in which Gussie and Spode are hired to play a pair of stage Irishmen named Pat and Mike for the village talent show. They put on woolly green beards and wave around umbrellas. Gussy really can't do the accent and Spode doesn't even bother. Much like the episode with the blackface minstrels, it managed to avoid being offensive just by being utterly ludicrous.
- One Steve Limit: Averted in Sir Roderick Glossop and Roderick Spode; Cyril "Barmy" Fotheringay-Phipps and Cyril Bassington-Bassington; and Brinkley the valet and Brinkley Court.
- Accidentally averted in the case of Sir Roderick Glossop and Hildebrandt "Tuppy" Glossop. In the books, Tuppy was Roderick's nephew, but this is never mentioned on the series.
- In a later episode, Brinkley the valet's name was retconned when Jeeves informed Bertie that his name was Bingley, not Brinkley, and Bingley just never bothered correcting him.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Bertie's friend "Chuffy" Chuffnell; the only person who calls him by his real first name is the girl he loves, which initially results in her having to explain to Bertie who this "Marmaduke" person she keeps mentioning is. Likewise, Bertie appears shocked to learn that Tuppy's first name is Hildebrand.
- Other members of the Drones Club, like Boko Fittleworth and Oofy Prosser, as well.
- Out-of-Character Moment:
- Despite Jeeves's remarkably superior language skills (which, in the first episode, were shown to stretch to American phrases such as 'hooch'), Bertie has to translate New York diner slang for him in "The Full House".Jeeves: "Just a cup of coffee, please."
Waitress: "You got it."
Jeeves: "No, I don't believe I do, madam."
- In that same episode, Jeeves is seen going about the city and taking notes of New York night life. It is extremely unusual to see him laughing, clapping and wearing a party hat in one such scene. (It's possible, given the sheer number of Jazz Age celebrities that show up in the stories of these parties, that he made them up.)
- Despite Jeeves's remarkably superior language skills (which, in the first episode, were shown to stretch to American phrases such as 'hooch'), Bertie has to translate New York diner slang for him in "The Full House".
- Overprotective Dad: Sir Watkyn Bassett, J. Washburn Stoker, and Sir Roderick Glossop.
- Palette Swap: Spode's fascist organisation uses the same badge as the real-life British Union of Fascists, but in the colours of the Nazi party.
- Parental Marriage Veto: Usually from Sir Watkyn Bassett, trying to prevent his young ward Stephanie from marrying the Rev. Harold "Stinker" Pinker.
- Parents for a Day: "Return to New York", when Bertie's "temporary kidnapping" of a child doesn't go the way he plans.
- Politically Correct History: A definite aversion as the series manages to have scenes with blackface minstrels still be humorous, shows the segregation of America during the time period, and perhaps most notably, is accurate to the books in showing Roderick Spode and his Black Shorts dressed as the British Union of Fascists. It is still toned down from the original books, though.
- PostWake-Up Realization: The first meeting between the title protagonists occurs when Wooster wakes up with a horrible hangover and tries to comprehend what happens to his home, as Jeeves reverses the utter chaos of his apartment at inhuman speeds.
- Produce Pelting: The crowd are sure to love a rendition of Sonny Boy!
- Punched Across the Room: Happens to Wooster once, in a rather surreal moment.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "ANATOLE. HAS GIVEN. NOTICE."
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Bertie, as this seems to be an inherent trait of Hugh Laurie's characters. Also, Tuppy and Bingo when they're swooning over girls.
- Rich Idiot With No Day Job: Many of the male characters are this trope, coming from old-money families and living off of generous allowances. It says something about how dumb they are that Wooster is probably one of the smarter ones.
- Running Gag: Stinker Pinker repeatedly tripping and falling over, Spode getting hit on the head, the American lift operator's confused manner each time he encounters Wooster, like he feels something's perpetually not right.
- Scenery Censor: In one episode there is a nude statue of a child in the background, with a flower just between its legs.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Jeeves absolutely enjoys explaining things to Bertie in the most professor-like manner possible.
- Shoutout: In the first episode, one of Bertie's cousins mentions that Bertie's last valet stole his socks, a reference to an episode of Blackadder the Third, though technically, Blackadder was a butler, not a valet.
- Soft Glass: Bertie Wooster jumps through a closed glass window and emerges unharmed.
- Spot of Tea: Jeeves brings Bertie one every morning. Bertie refers to his morning cuppa as "the life-saving"
- Status Quo Is God: An episode may begin with Jeeves giving notice or Bertie getting engaged, but things are always back to normal by the end — if not of this episode, then the next. This trope is less applicable to the supporting characters, who do sometimes undergo major life-changes. This is most pronounced in a Season 2 episode, when Bertie becomes frustrated with the monotony of his life ("it's just the bally balliness of it all that makes it so bally bally") and considers settling down and starting a family. By the end of the episode, he has decided that his life is exciting enough already, and the quiet moments he found annoying before are actually extremely comforting — and that children are awful.
- Stealth Insult:
- Bertie: Oh, stop playing with the hat, Jeeves. I knew you wouldn't like it.
Jeeves: Oh, not at all, sir!
- Bertie: She gave it to me, you know. Trying to improve my mind, I dare say.
Jeeves: That seems scarcely possible, sir.
- Jeeves sneaks in a dig at the song "Nagasaki" in response to Bertie's expressed love of the song:Jeeves: Extremely... invigorating, sir.
Bertie: Yes, Jeeves, that is just the word I would have used. Yes, it makes you want to get up and bally well have a run 'round the park.
Jeeves: My feelings precisely, sir.
- Suckiness Is Painful: See Heroic BSoD above; Bertie's friends' more garish fashion decisions seem to cause Jeeves actual physical discomfort.
- Take Our Word for It: Subverted in "Introduction on Broadway" when we finally do get to see Corky's hideously Cubist painting.
- Tap on the Head: Extensively. Roderick Spode in particular has it happen to him in every episode he appears in.
- A Taste of Their Own Medicine: After all the crazy schemes and shenanigans Jeeves puts Bertie through, in 4x04 "The Delayed Arrival" Bertie categorically refuses to dress up and pretend to be a visiting, female American novelist — thus Jeeves is the one donning the getup.
- Theme-and-Variations Soundtrack: The jazzy opening theme tune gets reworked to set all kinds of different moods.
- They Stole Our Act: In one episode, Jeeves deliberately arranges for this to occur, as part of his current scheme.
- Throwing Out the Script: Bertie attempts to help Gussie give a speech by fortifying him with a large quantity of gin. Gussie throws away his notes at the start of the speech and begins saying what he thinks, with things rapidly going downhill from there.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Gussie Fink-Nottle and Madeleine Bassett, although they're merely engaged, not actually married. Since they're both Cloudcuckoolanders, they match in personality in a way what they don't in looks.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Bingo Little takes the cake in "Bridegroom Wanted!", where after being hitched with Rosie M. Banks, he doesn't help Bertie at all to avoid the wrath of his wife who intends to sue Bertie for impersonating her, even if it was Bingo's idea in the first place, as he doesn't want her to know he forced Wooster to do so to help him get another girl.
- Unwanted Harem: Mostly true for Bertie in some respects, but Jeeves starts to veer in this direction in the first 10-15 minutes or so of "The Full House."
- Upper-Class Twit: Bertie and most of his friends; he actually comes across as more intelligent than most of them, in a faithful reflection of the original Wodehouse stories. Bertie isn't dumb, exactly, but his upbringing has left him with no practical life skills and a generally lazy attitude.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: The title characters to some extent. Bertie and his Aunt Dahlia very much so.
- Will They or Won't They?: In spades, although in this case the trope name should be immediately followed by "Ever Get Married." Notably, Madeline and Gussie's on-again off-again engagement is the only one that spans the whole series. In the end, they don't.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Jeeves can work around almost anything that spoils his stratagems on a moment's notice.
- You Look Familiar:
- The actress who plays Madeline in the first series comes back as Florence in the last series. Also The Other Darrin.
- Rupert Steggles, sinister gambler and con man, comes back as the second Gussie Fink-Nottle, kind-hearted and timid newt fancier.