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Series / Just Shoot Me!

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Just Shoot Me! is an American Work Com created by Steven Levitan, which aired for seven seasons (1997–2003) on NBC.

Maya Gallo (Laura San Giacomo) is a highly-qualified, idealistic but difficult-to-work-with TV journalist who, after alienating one news anchor too many, is forced to take a job at Blush magazine, the trashy Cosmo-esque fashion glossy run by her estranged father Jack (George Segal).

While originally centering around the father-daughter relationship, the show quickly evolved into a workplace ensemble piece. Other main characters included Dennis Finch (David Spade), Jack's snarky personal assistant; Nina Van Horn (Wendie Malick), a hard-partying former model turned fashion editor; and Elliott DiMauro (Enrico Colantoni), Blush's head photographer and a relentless womanizer. Brian Posehn had a recurring role as Kevin, the weird and awkward mailroom clerk.

Notably predated Ugly Betty (as well as Yo soy Betty, la fea) and The Devil Wears Prada with the premise of a brainy and non-materialistic woman working for a shallow fashion magazine. It was ultimately canceled due to Executive Meddling and being bounced around the schedule, though it managed to serve up a Grand Finale.

"Just Trope Me":

  • Accidental Marriage: Elliott and Maya end up briefly married after they accidentally take part in a cult's mass wedding ceremony.
  • Adam Westing/As Himself:
    • Ray Liotta as Kevin's cousin. He has an almost childlike enthusiasm in general, he's obsessed with Christmas, and claims that he's much more like his character in Operation: Dumbo Drop than his character in GoodFellas.
    • Mark Hamill shows up as... Mark Hamill. Fanboy Finch drives him nuts with endless questions about the Star Wars movies.
    • Speaking of which, George Lucas is an old friend of Jack's. He ends up punching Finch in the face.
    • "My Dinner with Woody" has Maya date a man who thinks he's Woody Allen. At the end, the real Woody appears via phone call.
    • In "Toy Story", Jack buys a horse with Robert Goulet, then regrets it when it appears that the horse is too psychologically disturbed to race. Nina uses her horse-whispering skills to determine the cause of the horse's trauma — Goulet has been verbally abusing the animal.
    • In "Brandi, You're a Fine Girl", David Carradine, whom both Dennis and Brandi/Bert admired from his roles in Kung Fu (1972) and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, appears as a spiritual advisor for Dennis. He finds himself too distracted by Brandi's figure to give any useful advice.
  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • Maya repeatedly learned that she was subject to the same foibles as everyone else. Then completely forgot this lesson by the next episode.
    • Jack often learned that it was bad to manipulate people... until the next time he needed to manipulate them.
  • All Part of the Show: Maya's murder mystery party. Her neighbor, Professor Gladstone, dies suddenly, and everyone assumes he's an actor playing a character. This continues until a real police officer shows up to investigate the death, and everyone gives him the information on their characters' cards, making the officer think they're all nuts. It culminates with the game organizer getting fed up, grabbing a prop gun and declaring that he's going to kill his agent for not getting him a better job, and getting tackled by the officer. Everyone assumes that this means he was the murderer, and they don't quite grasp the reality of the situation:
    Maya: Okay, everybody listen very carefully: while I greatly appreciate the enthusiasm you have all displayed this evening, the murder mystery is over! This is a real cop! And Larry is in real pain! But most importantly, Professor Gladstone is actually dead! In real life!
    (Cue card timer dings)
    Elliott: (reading from card) She's gone mad from syphilis!
  • All Women Love Shoes:
    • When Jack is trying to distract Maya from changing the magazine, one of the gifts he showers her with is a large selection of shoes. Maya decides she can't be bought, and insists on returning all his gifts... except for one pair of shoes, which she claims can't be returned because they're "slightly scuffed".
    • Nina's daughter wants to take the granddaughter to a planetarium, but the granddaughter wants to go shoe shopping instead; Nina excitedly votes for shoe shopping.
    • At one point, Nina considers cutting off a toe just so she can fit into a sexy pair of pumps.
  • Amateur Film-Making Plot: Dennis attends a college film class and makes a semi-autobiographical film The Burning House with the help of his coworkers and David Hasselhoff. Interestingly, most of this is shown as a behind-the-scenes documentary by another film student.
  • Amazon Chaser: Finch is highly turned on by seeing a female boxer named Kelly going at it with a sparring partner in "Finch and the Fighter", after which they date briefly.
  • Appeal to Flattery: In "Fast Times at Finchmont High", Finch goes undercover as a high schooler to get information for an article for the magazine. He ends up becoming popular with the younger generation and uses the opportunity as an excuse to relive his high school years. The intellectual Maya asks him how the assignment is going. Finch tells her that he found out that high school boys secretly find bookish and intelligent girls attractive. This pleases Maya, who leaves without pressing him for more information that would have exposed Finch's plan.
  • Ashes to Crashes: In "Bye Bye, Binnie". Nina carries around the urn of her best friend's ashes, acting as if she were still alive. One morning she finds the urn empty and realizes that putting it in the mechanical bull at a bar was maybe not the best idea.
  • Auto Erotica: After breaking up with his girlfriend, Elliott hooks up with Maya in the back seat of the prop car occupying his studio.
  • Automatic Door Malfunction: Jack's remote control door opener in "King Lear Jet" goes haywire during lightning strikes and even when someone uses a microwave. It eventually smashes Maya, leaving her semiconscious.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Dennis is able to tell that Maya and Elliott are hooking up merely by mentally comparing a bite mark on Elliott's apple and a hickey on Maya's neck. He also uses word association to figure out that Jack is meeting with George Lucas, despite Jack only saying that he has plans.
  • The Beard: In "Mayas and Tigers and Deans Oh My" Nina's magician boyfriend sure seems to be gay, and she's happy being his beard because he's very nice, glamorous and rich. However, it turns out that he's actually straight — it's just his persona.
  • Bedmate Reveal: When Elliot and Maya go on their first "dinner meeting", Maya's former assistant Cindy ends up coming along. As a result, Maya and Elliot end up drinking quite a bit during the dinner. Elliot wakes up the next morning to find himself in bed with who he assumes is Maya, but it turns out he went to bed with Cindy.
  • Berserk Button: Elliott doesn't react well when you criticize his work.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Subverted with Finch, who happens to be unusually well-endowed, but is such a sicko that very few women will give him the time of day (to the immense relief of his male co-workers).
    Jack: It's a story as old as time. Great product, bad sales department.
  • Blaxploitation Parody: "A&E Biography: Nina Van Horn" shows a clip from Nina's film Foxy Trouble. Just to show what a product of The '70s she was, it's a blaxploitation film even though she's white.
  • Blind Mistake: Nina accidentally gives Jack breath freshener instead of eye drops, causing him to need to wear patches over both of his eyes. She guides him around the office until he declares that he knows the layout and that he's going to the bathroom by himself. He ends up walking into the elevator to relieve himself.
  • Bob from Accounting: Early episodes have characters mention Baxter from accounting.
  • Boob-Based Gag: Finch makes jokes about Maya's large breasts, while Nina occasionally does also.
  • Bookcase Passage: In the final episode, Finch reveals that Jack had one installed a while back between the liquor cabinet in his office and the bookcase by the stairs in case he needed to make a quick getaway for some reason. It's used to get in when Jack locks himself in his office.
  • Book Dumb: Nina. Just before a big radio interview, Finch and Elliott give her a "Word of The Day Calendar" full of Perfectly Cromulent Words and she accepts them as real without hesitation.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • In "Erlene and Boo", Dennis goes to bed with Nina's half-sister Erlene, played by Brooke Shields. Halfway through the scene, Shields breaks character and questions why her character would sleep with him. Laura San Giacomo (Maya) informs her that David Spade had paid off the writers to have his character end up with beautiful women.
    • In "My Dinner with Woody", Maya appears to be talking directly to the audience as she relates the story of spending time with a Woody Allen impersonator. The end of the episode reveals that she was talking to a previously offscreen man carrying a water jug.
  • Breakout Character: Dennis Finch.
    • To a lesser extent, Nina.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Early in one episode, Jack uses silence as psychological warfare to get Dennis to confess to calling a sex line on the company phone. After Jack explains that people with a guilty conscience will admit their wrongdoing because they hate silence that much, Dennis uses it on Nina, who then attempts to use it on Jack (even though Jack walked over to tell her the things she was "extracting" from him anyway). Nobody attempts to use the trick again, but later on, the staff has a moment of silence for Blush's first employee, who had just passed away. Kevin walks in with his squeaky mail cart and sees everyone staring silently at him:
    Kevin: We were stranded in the snow! Our radio was broken! For the love of God, we had to eat something!
    • At the beginning of "Pictures of Lily", Jack demonstrates a pocket-sized lie detector that analyzes the stress patterns in a person's voice; if they lie, it vibrates and says, "Liar!", while it dings if they're truthful. Jack and Simon play around with it for about thirty seconds (with Simon admitting that he sometimes lies on purpose because he enjoys the vibration) and then it is immediately forgotten about. Toward the end of the episode, Jack takes a phone call from Simon (who had been fighting with Nina), and relaying Simon's call to Nina, helps them make up to the point where Nina, caught up in the moment, kisses Jack. As she leaves to finish reconciling with him:
    Jack: Tell Simon that kiss didn't affect me at all!
    Lie detector: Liar!
    Jack: Huh. The vibration does feel good.
    (The lie detector dings.)
  • British Rockstar:
    • Simon, Nina's boyfriend in the final season.
    • Nick, who appeared in the season two episode "Nina in the Cantina".
  • Broken Aesop: Jack tries to tell Elliott an anti-racism parable using different-colored slushies, comparing them with people of varying colors. However, it comically collapses as both agree "blue is the best" (tasting).
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Everybody in the main cast. Despite all of their quirks, they're very good at their jobs.
  • Butch Lesbian: Maria, the female boxer in "Finch and the Fighter". She has masculine looks and her ex-girlfriend Kelly dating Finch causes her to act with aggression toward him from jealousy.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Originally defined by his womanizing, Elliott gradually morphs into the show's punching bag.
    • Nina is often the victim of a conspiracy by Elliott and Finch to make a fool of her. Often these attempts backfire and Nina (usually unwittingly) comes out on top. For example, in "The Experiment", Finch and Elliott trick Nina into dressing up as a jack-in-the-box and popping out in the middle of the office. Everyone has a good laugh, but when Jack walks in, he tells Nina that she has been working too hard and orders her to take a vacation, promising that Finch and Elliott will cover her entire workload while she is away.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard: Maya consistently gets a lot of compliments or envious comments about her large breasts. She's largely annoyed by this, as it's often from creeps such as Finch or mixed with mockery.
  • Camp Straight:
    • Kyle, a male model played by Andy Dick. He embodies almost every gay stereotype, but he's actually straight and is trying to steal Finch's wife Adrienne away from him.
    • Nina's magician boyfriend in "Mayas and Tigers and Deans, Oh My". Everyone, including Nina herself, believes he is gay, but he isn't; his behavior is simply part of his stage persona.
    • Downplayed in the case of Finch. He usually doesn't act this way, but also acts with girlish glee when something goes his way, or shows a very sensitive side. While figure skating, he also had a very effeminate outfit and manner. Due to his long hair and slim, short build he has also been mistaken for female on multiple occasions, and once is thought to be gay by his dad. Despite all this, he's not only aggressively heterosexual, but mostly a creep around women (like Maya).
  • The Casanova: Elliott, but Finch later becomes one too, often at inopportune times.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Finch, especially during the early seasons.
  • Casting Gag:
    • Nina was written as a former fashion model a little past her prime. Wendie Malick, with her former modeling career, was an obvious casting choice, and the photos on the wall of Nina's office are from Wendie's modeling days.
    • Aside from the deceased Phil Hartman, all of the male cast members of Newsradio guest starred on the show at some point. Andy Dick in "Finch Gets Dick", Dave Foley in "Blind Ambition", Joe Rogan in "A Beautiful Mind", Stephen Root in "Blush Gets Some Therapy", and Jon Lovitz in "A Simple Kiss of Fate".
    • The cast of Mr. Show was also well represented, with David Cross, Tom Kenny, and Brian Posehn all having recurring roles (Donnie DiMauro, Persky, and Kevin Liotta, respectively), and Bob Odenkirk making a one-shot guest appearance in "The Odd Couple".
  • Cats Are Mean: Dennis brings his cat Spartacus to work. Despite not actually appearing onscreen, Spartacus menaces everyone he comes into contact with, including Dennis. Until Maya and Jack accidentally kill him.
  • Celebrity Cameo: Many famous models and actors appeared in bit parts or playing themselves.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: In "Liotta? Liotta!", Ray Liotta wants to date Maya, but Maya informs him that while she likes him, she couldn't handle the hassles of dating a celebrity. Ray decides to quit show business in order to be part of a "normal couple" with her. At first, he is excited about being just a normal guy, but eventually realizes that he misses both the spotlight and all the perks that come with being famous.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Dennis may make sexual remarks and ogle any woman who walks by, but in "Miss Pretty", he loudly admits that he writes the titular advice column to prevent Maya from going on a getaway with a creep that she assumes writes for the column.
  • Christmas Carolers: In "Jesus, It's Christmas", Nina gets caught in the elevator with some carolers, so she threatens them with a fake gun to get them to shut up. Later in the episode, Jack and Maya decide to take the stairs just to avoid said carolers.
  • Christmas Episode: Three: "Jesus, It's Christmas" in Season Two, "How the Finch Stole Christmas" in Season Three, and "Christmas? Christmas!" in Season Six.
  • Chubby Chaser:
    • In "Dial N for Murder", Maya's boyfriend Brad is attracted to fat women, and is stealthily trying to make Maya gain weight. When Maya confronts him with the truth, he tries to entice her with promises of never having to diet or exercise again (which humorously causes Maya to rethink it for a second). "OK, fifty pounds and I'll spring for the elastic pants!"
    • In "Friends and Neighbors", Elliot sells Jack his car but then steals it back when Jack fails to take care of it to his satisfaction. When Elliott refuses to give back the car, Jack confronts him with the security tape from a video recorder he had installed in the car. The tape shows Elliott driving around town, trying to pick up women. While they aren't seen on the tape, Elliott refers to them as "heavyset honeys" (to himself).
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Maya's roommate, Wally, who disappeared after the first six episodes and was never mentioned again. Ironically, he was the one who talked Maya into working at her father's company in the pilot episode. So, for a character that got Brother-Chucked, he was essentially responsible for the whole show's storyline.
  • Citizenship Marriage: An INS agent suspects Finch and Adrienne's marriage to be this, as she is a Canadian citizen whose work visa just expired, and he refuses to believe she married Dennis for love.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Jack and Simon order a pizza from a place that has to deliver within 4 minutes otherwise they get it for free. Jack bribes the doorman with $100 to stall the delivery guy. So basically he paid $100 for a pizza.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Nina is revealed to believe that the moon landing was really a hoax. Maya brings in one of the astronauts involved to tell her otherwise. She's mollified by his outrage at the idea, but then it turns out he believes in even weirder theories.
  • Cool Big Sis: Nina would sometimes play this role to Maya and/or Finch.
  • Creator Breakdown: In-universe.
    • In "Puppetmaster", Maya dates the puppeteer behind a popular children's show. A panda expy of Maya soon appears and each real-life date is somehow reflected on the show (such as the panda hogging all of the pizza). It gets so out of hand that Maya assaults him on live television.
    • In "War and Sleaze", Maya suspects that the Blush astrologer's heart just isn't committed to her work anymore.
    Jack: (reading) Pisces. Something bad may or may not happen to you. (puts magazine down and looks at Maya in mock horror) I'm a Pisces!
  • Crossdresser:
    • Nina spends an entire episode fretting about the auction of her famous bikini, which a Japanese businessman wants to turn into a museum piece. At the end, we see the businessman dressed in her bikini while dancing to disco music.
    • In "The Withholder", Jack has to wear a dress on the golf course after losing a bet with Donald Trump. It actually ends up helping him, as he's so focused on being embarrassed about being in a dress that he doesn't overthink his swing like he usually does and ends up having one of the best games of his life.
    • It's mentioned that Jack makes Finch try on dresses that he intends to give his wife Allie as gifts since the two are apparently the same size.
    • In "Dial 'N' for Murder", when Maya asks Jack if she's crazy to believe that her boyfriend might be trying to make her fat.
    Jack: I know people are into all kinds of things. Men who worship feet... women who enjoy a little spanking... the powerful executive who occasionally likes to camp it up in club shows as Carol Channing.
    Maya: That's a weird one.
    Jack: Weird, maybe, but still no reason to be hassled in the parking lot.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles:
    • Season Four had the unrelated episodes "When Nina Met Elliott", "When Nina Met Elliott's Mom", and "When Nina Met Her Parents".
    • The two Ray Liotta episodes in Season Six, "Christmas? Christmas!" and "Liotta? Liotta!", followed by the Season Seven episode "Halloween? Halloween!" (which did not feature Liotta).
    • The first episode was called "Back Issues". The last episode was called "Future Issues".
  • Deadpan Snarker: All of the main cast, but Dennis Finch is the primary example.
  • Did You See That Too?? "Dog Day Afternooon":
    Dennis: Is that a dog?
    Nina: Oh, thank God! You see it, too.
  • Dingy Trainside Apartment: Dennis is relocated to the "downtown office". The office is windowless, but it is frequently shaken by the nearby subway.
  • Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery:
    • In "Blind Ambition", Dave Foley plays a blind man who is not only bitter about his condition, but is just a jerk in general. When he and Maya go to the movies, he asks her to explain everything that's happening on screen, then blows up at the theater patrons who ask the pair to be quiet, unconcerned with how embarrassed Maya is about the situation. He convinces Maya to forgive him for his behavior, and the two decide to watch a movie at home instead. He brings a porno tape, and impatiently demands that Maya give him all the details she can about the female lead's anatomy. Maya finally dumps him for this.
    • In "Slow Donnie", Elliott introduces the group to his brother Donnie, who suffered a head injury after falling out of a tree and now functions at a second-grade level. Donnie admits to Maya that he wasn't hurt in the fall, but decided it would be more fun to fake brain damage and force his family to take care of him.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • One of Maya's major problems throughout the series is that Jack was a really horrible father when she was growing up and was never ever around. There's quite a few moments throughout the series where Jack lets her down.
    • Finch's dad, uber-masculine firefighter Red was the emotionally absent kind, as they didn't connect at all. When he appears, Red's awkward efforts to repair their relationship usually just mortify Finch.
  • Distaff Counterpart: "The Two Faces of Finch" introduces Betsy Frayne, a female version of Finch. There's a reason for it, though. It turns out that Finch copied his entire personality from her.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Various men around Nina. She does it on purpose.
  • The Ditherer: Jack's old partner Herb is this, which frustrates the rest of the Blush staff and makes them realize Jack had been right to let Herb go initially.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • All the articles in Blush, which is to be expected of an Expy of Cosmopolitan. This extends to the staff's dialog around the office as well.
    • In "Nina's Birthday", Maya's roommate Wally says he used to stare at Nina's poster every night. "Sometimes twice a night."
    • In "College or Collagen", Jack begins playing bridge with Finch instead of his wife. Their partnership is treated like an illicit love affair.
    Finch: Come on, one more time... let's do it.
    Jack: Dammit, you've got me thinking with my deck!
  • Don't Look At Me: Finch says this twice, when he cries over King Lear, once when Maya tells him the story and again during the actual play.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: Simon bluntly asks Nina whether she'd like to come in for some sex when they reach his apartment, and when she's surprised he says he'd used to be even more direct on the matter.
  • Dream Within a Dream: In one episode's opening, Maya walks into Jack's office to be greeted by Hugh Hefner and a playmate. He tells her that he bought the magazine from Jack and hands her a skimpy uniform to wear. She wakes up on the couch in the office, asking herself why she was dreaming that, only for Dennis (now sitting at the desk but still with the playmate) to inform her that she wasn't, because they're all actually in his dream.
  • Dress Hits Floor: When Maya does her photo shoot in "Maya's Nude Photos", she starts off wearing a robe, but right as she begins taking pictures, the camera cuts to a shot of her bare feet and the robe falling to the floor around them.
  • Drink-Based Characterization: Finch always orders a Sea Breeze {vodka with grape and cranberry juice); the show usually treats it as a sign that he isn't very manly.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Dennis is sometimes mistaken for a woman due to his slight physique and long-ish hair. He mentions having a resemblance to Ellen when wondering why his dad assumes that he's gay, but he still keeps having the long hair throughout the series. In "Halloween? Halloween!", Finch is mistaken for a woman by a lesbian.
  • Dude, Not Ironic:
    • In "When Nina Met Elliott", after Nina realizes that she was the one who ran Elliott over that day he was going to propose to his girlfriend, the following exchange occurs:
    Nina: You know what's ironic? The same day I ran Elliott down, is the same day I ruined his life forever.
    Maya: That's not ironic, that's what happened!
    Nina: So true.
    • And later, after Elliott realizes that marrying the woman would have been a huge mistake:
      Elliott: It's ironic, but you running me over that night may have been the best thing that ever happened to me.
      Nina: Elliott, that's not ironic, that's what happened.
  • Embarrassing Ad Gig: Variation: Elliot dates an actress/model who stars in a hemorrhoid cream commercial. She's never anything less than thrilled, but he's put off, especially since Finch throws every hemorrhoidal pun he can think of at him.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Dennis Quimby Finch. He lied that it was Eastwood to his wife, and after she knew the truth he still lies about it being "Gaelic for brave warrior."
  • Erotic Dream: In the first season, Maya has a sex dream about Elliott and he ends up having one about her as well.
  • Erotic Eating: After Jack hooks up with Naomi, the flirting extends to his office afterward while Maya is there. There's some sharing of a strawberry, much to Maya's discomfort:
    Maya: Oh, my god, if one of you picks up a banana, I'm just gonna shoot myself.
  • Escalating Punchline: After Pete leaves Vicki because he has feelings for Maya, Kevin ends up delivering some flowers to Maya when she's with Vicki and Nina:
    Vicki: Who are those from?
    Maya: Um, they're from my elderly female neighbor. I'm house-sitting her cat.
    (Kevin hands her a bottle of champagne)
    Maya: She likes me to drink with her cat.
    (Kevin produces a box of chocolates as well)
    Maya: And eat delicious chocolates. The cat doesn't eat them; he just plays with the wrappers.
    Kevin: They are fun..."crinkle crinkle crinkle!"
  • Exact Words/Hoist By Her Own Petard: "The Emperor" involves Maya insulting fashion designer Oskar Milos (Dana Carvey), telling another event attendee — whom she didn't know was a reporter — that "The emperor has no clothes." As an apology, Maya agrees to wear a dress Milos has designed to an event. When Dennis helps her out of the limo, she's surprised by the crowd's enthusiastic reaction, not realizing that everyone can see her breasts, which are pixelated out.
    Maya: Wow, they must really like the dress.
    Finch: Of course they do, it's totally see-through.
    Maya: (covering herself with her arms) Oh my God, the lights.
    (Milos walks up)
    Milos: Now who has no clothes?
  • Expansion Pack Past: Nina has reportedly rubbed shoulders and bumped uglies with Hollywood stars, famous musicians and fashion icons over her illustrious modeling career. A separate page would be required to list all the examples.
  • Expy Coexistence: As a business mogul married to his daughter's former classmate, Jack Gallo is clearly a Trumplica. He has ongoing business and golf rivalries with Trump, often involving bets that require the loser to do something humiliating like wearing a dress on the golf course or a fish down their pants.
  • The Faceless: Nina's friend Binnie only appears twice. The first time, she is covered head to toe in bandages, and the second time, we only see her from the back.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: After Jack gives Nina and Elliott tickets to King Lear (which they were only after because it meant a trip to London on a private jet), Maya delivers a Shakespearean speech about how he was swayed by the words of people who were only after something and ignoring those that care about him. She attempts to storm out, but Jack's door-opening device (which had been getting more and more erratic throughout the episode) was stuck on "closed" and she couldn't get out.
  • Fanservice Extra: The Blush covers that are shown between scenes. Also, the setting is a fashion magazine and often features real-life supermodels as guest stars or background characters.
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot: A lot of episodes were like this. Finch fixes everything, since he's the world's greatest assistant.
  • Fire Alarm Distraction: At the end of "How the Finch Stole Christmas", the cast discovers the joke gifts Finch left them.
    Narrator: But the Finch is clever, he always survives.
    Finch: [pulling on the fire alarm] Fire! Fire! Run for your lives!
  • Formerly Fat:
    • Elliott used to be picked on in high school due to his weight. When he goes back for the funeral of his teacher, he attempts to gloat over how he lost the weight and became a successful photographer for a fashion magazine. The bullies instead pick on him for becoming bald.
    • Maya occasionally makes reference to having been fat as a child.
  • Formerly Fit: In "Steamed", Nina can't stop gloating when she discovers that a former rival is now fat. The show plays with it, however; the fat woman has found inner peace and is genuinely happy, while Nina is still plagued by insecurity about losing her looks.
  • Friendly Scheming: In "Funny Girl", a prank Maya pulls on Elliott seems to go horribly awry, but the whole thing turns out to be one massive prank on her orchestrated by Dennis.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: In "Miss Pretty", Finch's friend Kurt (who he hires to pretend he's the titular advice columnist) is a scam artist with this method. Kurt gets free meals by threatening to sue upon "discovering" items like a rubber band in his food.
  • Fur and Loathing: Parodied a few times.
  • Fur Bikini: Nina wore a leopard skin bikini years before, and is still proud of the accidents the billboards caused.
  • George Washington Slept Here: Jack's country house is next to a cabin where Washington planned the Battle of Yorktown. He tore it down years ago to build a tennis court. Which he doesn't use anymore.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Dennis delivers a slap to Elliott when he starts freaking out about his proposal to Maya.
  • The Ghost
    • Jack's wife Allie is mentioned constantly but never appears. Until the fifth season finale.
    • An employee named Baxter (usually referred to as "Baxter in Accounting" but occasionally has other jobs) is frequently mentioned but never seen.
    • Played with regarding Nina's friend Binnie. In "The Mask", Elliott and Finch realize that nobody else at the magazine has actually met Binnie and wonder if Nina has been making her up the whole time. They discover that she is, in fact, real... but when we see her, she's covered in bandages, so we still don't get a clear look at her face.
  • Gilligan Cut: Dennis gets fired after Jack catches him sleeping with Allie. He refuses to accept it, claiming that it's not happening and that things can't end there. The next shot is two security guards throwing him out.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot:
    • The entire premise of "Two Girls for Every Boy". Finch learns that an attractive female model has a crush on Maya, and does everything in his power to get them to hook up. Not only that, but random men all over town are willing to help him with whatever he needs once he tells them what he's trying to accomplish. When both of them learn this, they make it seem like Maya (who's straight) is into the idea and they'll let him watch while they have sex in revenge to toy with Finch. They then fake a break up to dash his hopes.
    • In the ending of "Maya Judging Amy", Maya confronts Amy about using flirtatious behavior to get her way around the office. Amy then uses these same tricks on Maya, who starts getting into it. Amy then walks away, having won the argument. After they're both gone, Dennis emerges from behind a desk, having just listened to the interplay.
      Dennis: (talking to God) You do love me, don't you?
    • In "It's Raining Babies" Finch tries to trick Nina and Vicki into kissing, to their annoyance (the two prank him in revenge).
  • Glory Days: Nina and Jack sometimes lament their best times. Nina's poor drug-riddled cortex can't keep all hers straight, however.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Subverted. Finch asks where his good angel is and is told he doesn't have one.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: This happens a few times in "Lies & Dolls". Nina tries (and fails) auditioning as a wholesome Southern homemaker for a commercial, and while in character for her role she has a chance encounter with a US Senator. He is smitten with Nina's "charm and grace", and Nina is forced to continue the ruse in order to keep from losing him. During their time spent together, he'll use tame curse words in place of more familiar ones, as he doesn't want to offend her 'delicate sensibilities'...
  • Got Me Doing It: Jack describes a (fake) new employee as "totally whack". When Dennis looks confusedly at him, he explains that his cable is stuck on MTV. He then goes on to say, "that fool be trippin'!" Later on, he claims that all Elliott has ever fought for is "the right to get freaky with [his] bitches", at which point Dennis tells Jack he'll work on getting the cable fixed.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Elliott, in a flashback to his fateful meeting with Jack.
  • Hand Puppet Mockery: In one episode, Maya dates a puppeteer for a kids show. The day after their first date, the show introduces Miss Panda, the main puppet's girlfriend. But as they continue dating, Maya discovers that Miss Panda's behavior is being based negatively on her; for example, when she takes the lasts slice of pizza for herself, Miss Panda greedily steals the pizza away.
  • Happy Place: Dennis drifts into his a few times in the series, notably when his dad tells him that he and Nina are engaged.
  • Hidden Depths: Kevin creeps nearly everyone out with his bizarre comments, his obsession with Nina, and simply being a rather quiet and awkward giant of a man, but it's revealed in one episode that he can sing opera incredibly well.
  • Hired for Their Looks: Maya does an experiment for an article in which she sends two people to interview for the same job, one extremely qualified but homely-looking, the other a handsome but dim-witted model. The model gets the job, as Maya predicted, but she also ends up falling in love with him.
  • Hollywood Homely:
    • In-universe, Maya in the first season. Afterwards, the writers realized that Laura San Giacomo was in fact way too attractive to pass off as "homely". Even so, they were still able to get mileage out of the general idea, since Maya is the Wrong Kind Of Pretty in the world of fashion.
    • Likewise, the "average" model in Maya's Hired for Their Looks experiment was actually quite handsome in his own right, and seemed to be the only person to realize it.
  • Hot Librarian: Maya; while she does dress fashionably, she's far more sartorially conservative than the rest of the female cast.
  • How Did That Get in There?: In "Da Sister Who Loved DiMauro", Finch invites Vicki's sister Rhonda over for sex and proceeds to "set the mood with some tunes". Cue "Tomorrow" from Annie, followed by Finch abruptly changing the music to a motivational tape, before finally finding "a stanky groove".
  • How the Character Stole Christmas: Finch, of course, (complete with a whole song plus ham-filled narration by Kelsey Grammer) because he feels left out.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Maya shills her feminist ideals repeatedly, yet she dates hunks and womanizers, respectively rewarding them for getting by on their looks and objectifying women. She feels bad at times and attempts to change, but always slips back into her old habits.
    • In "Old Boyfriends", Jack is called a hypocrite for objecting to Maya dating an older man, since his wife is nearly the same age as her. He admits it's true, but even the guy she's dating agrees he'd be upset if it was his daughter, and breaks things off with Maya.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Jack waxes poetic about how people are like snow cones — we're all made of the same stuff, but underneath the syrup, "we're all equally delicious!"
    Elliott: —But blue's the best.
    Jack: [shrug] Well, blue is the best.
    • Elliot on another occasion:
    "I think it's pathetic. Guys bragging about sleeping with models. I mean, you don't hear me bragging and I've slept with hundreds."
  • Idea Bulb: When Jack is trying to think of a hot story to give a newscaster to distract from his own unsavory one, Dennis (whose marriage to Adrienne has just ended) walks in to change a light bulb directly above Jack's head. As soon as Dennis gets it working, Jack realizes that there's someone in the room with a hot story about heartbreak...
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: The headlines on the cover of Blush are used as transitions.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: When Finch's friend Brandi (formerly Bert) finds out that their old classmate Allison had a crush on Bert, she decides to go after her, even after Finch confirms that Brandi is into guys.
  • I Have This Friend: In "Finch Gets Dick", Jack assumes this is in play when Finch asks him for advice. When Finch tells Jack that a guy named Kyle is trying to sleep with his wife, Jack suggests that the "guy" is really Finch and that he's having a "little problem" when trying to sleep with her. Jack eventually learns that there really is a guy.
    Jack: There really is a Kyle!
  • Immune to Drugs: Nina, seemingly due to her constant dependence and hard-partying past. She does keep enough drugs in her purse to get a racehorse high. Whatever was in "Lemon Wacky Hello" affected her as much as anyone, however.
  • Impossibly Awesome Magic Trick: In "Mayas and Tigers and Deans, Oh My", Nina dates a stage magician who manages to hide tickets inside an unpeeled banana... that Finch brought from home... from across the room. Finch is more squicked out than impressed.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: In "War and Sleaze", when Finch puts himself in the way of a fizzy soda can, protecting Jack from ruining his tuxedo, Finch utters the trope and the rest of the scene plays out like something out of a war film, with Jack comforting the "dying" Finch, assuring him everything's going to be just fine.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: In "Maya's Nude Photos", when Maya's photography class has their work examined by the teacher:
    Martin: [to the class] What has Greenberg captured here? The essence of a flower, or the point of view of an aggressively average thinker?
    Greenberg: Dude, I'm right here!
  • Incompatible Orientation: Finch tries to get Maya together with women on two separate occasions, in hopes they'll kiss or maybe more, while he watches. He also tries tricking Nina and Vicki into kissing. It never works, as all of them are straight (although they allow him to think so as a prank). He once is mistaken for a lesbian woman, and tries to play along in hopes of having sex with the woman who's made this mistake (it doesn't work). Also, his transgender friend Brandi tries to pretend she's still male and seduce a straight woman they both want, thinking she might be willing to make an exception (nope).
  • Inflation Negation: "The Kiss" has a landlady who is apparently so far behind the times that she charges ridiculously low prices for her apartments, resulting in her tenants doing all her shopping for her to prevent her from catching on. In the end, it turns out that she is aware of her apartments' true value but goes along with the game because she is more concerned with having good people around than making money.
  • Informed Judaism: Jack Gallo acts, talks, and looks just like a stereotypical New York Jew from the Bronx (this is because his actor, George Segal, was a New York Jew from the Bronx). He's revealed to have a Jewish Mother, but he wasn't raised religiously and it otherwise doesn't come up. Finch even lampshades this when Maya expresses surprise that he and his father don't talk much.
    I didn't come from that Italian-Jewish-Catholic background or whatever it is you've got going. I came from a nice WASPy family where the only emotional thing Dad said at dinner was "Pass the salt."
  • Inner Monologue: One episode demonstrated the monologues of a few characters when they're supposedly listening to one of Maya's ideas: Jack imagines he's batting for the Giants, Elliott starts thinking about his baldness, and Dennis starts musing about working out.
  • Intoxication Ensues: The "Lemon Wacky Hello" candies/hallucinogens Jack buys in China were the former Trope Namer.
  • Irony: Maya goes through various clever plans to get Elliott's brother, Donnie, to admit to faking being "slow," all to no avail. But one thirty-second talk with the thick-headed Jack is enough for Donnie to blow his stack and expose the ruse to everyone.
  • It's a Costume Party, I Swear!: Maya is tricked into dressing up for Halloween, when no one else was. Nina is wearing a leopard print coat, but forgot it was Halloween.
  • It's a Long Story: Kevin says this after telling Elliott that he has butterflies in his stomach. They're real, and when he's on a date, he coughs one of them up.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Nina's legendary bikini billboard is reported to have caused many a car pileup.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: All of the main cast. They all have some jerkish qualities and snark at each other, but they always look out for one another and come through for each other when push comes to shove.
  • Jerkass:
    • Elliott's brother Donnie who faked having an accident and pretended to be slow when he was 18 so everyone would do everything for him and when he's caught in the act, he ends up scamming Elliott out of $50,000.
    • Chris from "Maya Stops Thinking" told Maya he was a doctor so she'd sleep with him, then said he'd be going to Spain so that he wouldn't have to start a relationship with her. He's outed the next day when Jack hires him as a writer, but convinces Maya to sleep with him again because he's that good. Turns out he's also got a fiancee.
    • Amy from Season 6 seemed like a model employee on paper, but in reality she was a two-timing social climber who emotionally manipulated everyone but Nina for her own personal gain.
  • Kavorka Man:
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Finch loves cats, and at heart he's nice (just hiding it under lots of obnoxious personality traits).
  • Lady Drunk: Nina loves her alcohol, along with assorted pills (and, in the past, hard drugs). She's also way past her prime (though denying it), with all this probably a way to cope.
  • Last-Name Basis: Most characters refer to Finch by his last name. Apart from family and girlfriends, the only person who consistently calls him Dennis is Jack.
  • Leno Device: Finch appears on Jay Leno after falling into a gorilla pen on Secretary's Day. Another time, Ray Liotta, who used to date Maya, appears on Jay Leno several times throughout the episode talking directly to Maya.
  • Lesbian Jock: Kelly, a female boxer whom Finch dates, is a bisexual example. Also her ex-girlfriend Maria, a rather Butch Lesbian who's also a boxer.
  • Let the Past Burn: In-universe example: this is how Dennis' student film The Burning House ends.
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter: Nina's long-lost daughter turns out to have gotten pregnant, just like her, as a teenager. However, Nina's granddaughter's the one who's even more like her, wanting to party and have a lot of casual sex. Nina tries to rein her in, mindful of her own youthful mistakes.
  • Likes Older Women: While he doesn't make any special effort to seek them out, Finch has shown that he has no qualms about hooking up with an older woman if the opportunity arises. For instance, in "Dial N for Murder", Nina's elderly former agent (who is suffering from numerous health problems and wishes she could just die already) tries to seduce Finch in order to go Out with a Bang; when he realizes she wants to sleep with him, he immediately runs to grab his jacket... then pulls his breath freshener out of the pocket with a lascivious grin on his face.
  • Line-of-Sight Name:
    • When Dennis decides that he wants one of the executive parking spaces, he comes up with an imaginary new executive to create an open spot. When coming up with a name, he happens to be looking at Kevin, coming up with the names "Johnny Nosenglasses" and "Weirdo McScareskids". After Jack yells over the P.A. for Dennis to bring him his berries and toast, Dennis settles on the name, "Barry Toastman".
    • In "About a Boy", Dennis's latest scheme to get sex involves him hiring a young Canadian woman to be an au pair for his non-existent son, Denny Jr. It blows up in his face when the woman finds out that Dennis doesn't have a son, but immediately thereafter, we see Nina trying the exact same scheme with the hope of getting free housework from the girl. She asks Nina what her daughter's name is; Nina hesitates for a moment before looking at the olive in the martini she is drinking, then calmly answers, "Olive."
  • Lipstick Lesbian:
    • Jill, the gorgeous, very feminine model (who isn't specified in-canon as either bisexual or lesbian) in "Two Girls For Every Boy". Finch is delighted when he learns she's attracted to Maya and begins trying his best to get them together for his pleasure, despite the fact that Maya is straight. They figure this out and play along to screw with him as revenge.
    • In "Finch and the Fighter" Kelly, a female boxer whom Finch dates, is something of a chapstick bisexual. She has long hair and is happy to wear a sexy dress while on a date with him, but is otherwise in a profession considered traditionally masculine, mostly seen in workout clothes. Previously she had dated Butch Lesbian Maria.
    • In "Halloween? Halloween!" we have a second Kelly, a very beautiful, feminine woman who turns out to be a lesbian (she's also a model). She's into Finch, thinking he's a butch lesbian in costume at a Halloween party, which he rolls with until the inevitable reveal.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Elliott gets this once, when he tries to deny the fact that he and Maya accidentally got married.
  • The Mafia: In "Jack Vents", Elliott gets upset when he's assumed to be connected to the mob just because he's Italian. Then he gets curious and starts trying to find out if he's actually connected. He's thrilled when he gets a mob enforcer to show up at Blush; however, said enforcer is not happy with Elliott for wasting his time.
  • Manly Tears:
    • Finch in reaction to King Lear. "Don't look at me!"
    • When Finch, Elliott, and Jack watch Brian's Song.
    • Once the writers discovered that Enrico Colantoni was skilled at crying for laughs, Elliott's character got a lot weepier.
    • When Jack announces his retirement both he and Dennis get teary-eyed.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Female boxer Kelly likes being with Finch, thinking he's soft and sensitive. She's unhappy at him sparring with her ex-girlfriend Maria, a tough Butch Lesbian, since they're too much alike then, dumping him.
  • The Masochism Tango: "You're calling from the cage, aren't you?"
  • May–December Romance:
    • Jack has a habit of this. Fortunately, he goes after legal aged girls.
    • In "Old Boyfriends", Maya dates a man her father's age.
    • In "Nina's Birthday", Nina hooks up with Maya's roommate Wally, then brags about sleeping with a man half her age.
    • In "Dial N for Murder", Finch has an affair with Nina's old agent.
    • In "Sid and Nina", a 13-year-old boy tries to seduce Nina. Thankfully, she refuses.
  • Men Don't Cry: Discussed to the point of deconstruction by Jack, Elliott and Finch in "Puppetmaster" as they all tear up watching Brian's Song. All of them lament (after passing it off with lame excuses) that they can't cry openly, but the other two are weirded out after Elliott tells them he sometimes wishes he was a woman because then he'd be able to. They then start making jokes at his expense over it.
  • Mistaken for Gay:
    • Finch's old-fashioned firefighting father concludes that Dennis is gay and makes an embarrassing show of acceptance. It's with some discomfort that he realizes that while Dennis is straight, one of his more traditionally masculine brothers isn't.
    • In "Mayas, Tigers, and Deans, Oh My!", Nina dates a stage magician that everyone (including her) assumes is gay due to his mannerisms. When he finds out, he replies with, "I'm not gay, I'm British!"
    • There are occasional jokes where a guest character thinks Maya is a lesbian.
  • Mistaken for Incest: In "Where's Poppa?" Jack worries that Maya's new boyfriend is actually his illegitimate son and thus Maya's brother. The mother confirms he isn't, but the bizarre consequences of Jack's worries lead to Maya's boyfriend leaving her anyway.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Elliott mistakes a Japanese-American client as the Chinese food delivery guy. Jack's attempt to set things right backfires when the person he thinks is the returning client is actually a Chinese-American Blush employee of several years. To cap it off, Elliott is drinking a Slushie and gets brain freeze. Holding his temples so tightly his eyes slant, he bows back and forth saying "Ah, so cold!" — just as the client returns to then be insulted a second time. In the elevator later, the employee snarks to the client "Must be the Year of the Jackass".
  • Mistaken Nationality: Maya is occasionally mistaken for a Puerto Rican.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Kevin; he has some creepy qualities when it comes to women, but for the most part he's a nice guy with really low self esteem.
  • Mondegreen Gag: Nina and Elliott get into an argument about whether the lyrics of their favorite blues song are "Stone for my pillow" (because the singer is sleeping in the street) or "Slow, foamy killer" (referring to malt liquor). They call the singer's widow, who tells them that it is "Cold armadillo", but it was actually Finch messing with them.
  • Moral Guardians: In "Blinded by the Right", a group called Citizens for Morality threatens to get Blush pulled from supermarket store shelves unless they agree to tone down their explicit covers.
  • Moustache de Plume: In-universe example, inverted. Blush's beloved advice column "Miss Pretty" is actually written by Finch.
  • The Muse: Elliott tries to get Horst, a depressed photographer with a hate-hate relationship with Nina, back into photography. He suggests that Nina is Horst's muse due to the emotions she stirs in him. Horst angrily rejects the idea. Once Elliott talks to Horst about his failed relationship with Maya and starts crying, it turns out that Nina wasn't the muse, after all:
    Horst: I see your pain, and it is beautiful! (begins taking pictures of Elliott)
    Elliott: I am your muse?
    Horst: You are my muse!
    Elliott: I am your muse!
    Horst: Take off your shirt!
    Elliott: What?!
    Horst: Do it, muse!
    • Jack later comes across one of Horst's photographs on the street, featuring Elliot posing naked while crying.
  • My Beloved Smother: In "Mum's the Word", Nina dates an actor whose mom is an epic one. He still lives with her, and she tries her hardest to drive them apart, using every means at her disposal. In the end, he chooses her over Nina.
  • New Technology Is Evil: In "The Walk", Elliott buys a digital camera, and mentions its features to anyone within earshot.
    Jack: Is that a new camera?
    Elliott: It sure is. Completely digital. Has an 8000-pixel viewfinder and an 18-bit filter.
    Jack: What does that mean?
    Elliott: I'm not sure, but it sure is shiny.
    • And later:
    Elliott: Check this out. 1,200 by 900 dpi.
    Maya: What does that mean?
    Elliott: You know, it's digital, it's a very complicated process. I don't have time to explain it.
    Maya: You don't know, do you?
    Elliott: You open it up and there's no film, Maya!
  • No Bisexuals:
    • Dennis expresses surprise when his friend Brandi is attracted to a woman they both liked in high school, thinking that her being transgender means Brandi is exclusively into guys. She indicates this is an exception, but they don't appear to realize that bisexuality is even a possibility.
    • The recurring jokes that Maya is gay also don't make much sense unless you assume she's really closeted, given that all her relationships have been with men. She's straight, but they don't ever joke that she might be bi and also into women.
    • Subverted in "Finch and the Fighter", where Finch dates the female boxer Kelly. It turns out she'd dated a Butch Lesbian boxer named Maria, and he at first thinks it's part of her "experimental" phase. She corrects him that they dated for four years though, and Nina later does call her bisexual, although Kelly never describes her own orientation.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: In "Nina in the Cantina", Nina keeps reminiscing about the "magical weekend" she once spent with the lead singer of a famous rock band. When she discovers that she actually slept with the bassist, she is horrified.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The original pitch for the series was Janeane Garofalo getting stuck in a waiting room with a model with whom she has nothing in common. Garofalo later became the template for Maya's character.
  • Noodle Incident:
    Nina Van Horn: Dennis, I need Baxter the intern to run an errand for me.
    Dennis Finch: The last time he did that he ended up in a Mexican prison.
    Pamela: I think you know what this is for! (slaps Nina)
    Nina: I do. And I think you know what this is for! (slaps Pamela)
    Pamela: No. What?
    Nina: For slapping me!
  • Not Even Bothering with an Excuse:
    • Dennis excuses himself from listening to one of Nina's stories with:
    "Oh, I just remembered: You're boring, and my legs work."
    • Nina rejects an invitation from Maya, saying she can't come because she doesn't want to.
  • Not So Above It All: Maya, from falling for a guy based on appearance, to wearing a "Fairy Princess" dress for Halloween.
  • Not What It Looks Like:
    • In "In the Company of Maya", Maya is accused of sexual harassment by a guy when a comment that she makes to him is misinterpreted. She tries to clear herself by apologizing to him, but Jack's insistence that she wear a wire during their meeting backfires when it starts burning her, and her desperation to remove her top to get to the wire gives the man an even worse impression of her.
    • In "Nina Sees Red", Elliott comes off as a creepy weirdo three times with Tyra Banks due to things Jack did (either deliberately or by accident) so much that she freaks out, macing him twice.
    • When Jack accidentally ends up locked in an airplane bathroom with one of his former wives, their struggle to get out sounds like them having sex. When they finally get out, a man waiting for the bathroom congratulates them on joining the Mile-High Club. After denying it to the passenger, he mentions that he's actually been a member for years.
  • Obfuscating Disability:
    • Elliott's brother Donnie has pretended to be mentally disabled since he graduated from high school in order to avoid having to get a job and start supporting himself. Jack blew this for him when his idiocy caused Donnie to break the act chewing him out.
    • Later, Donnie's girlfriend appears to be deaf and they use sign language together. However, it turns out she's a sex worker and faking it for him.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: What "Slow" Donnie does.
  • Odd Friendship: Nina and Elliott. Although they snark at each other endlessly, they are fairly similar and tend to enjoy themselves a great deal.
  • Old Friend, New Gender: An old friend of Finch's turns out to be a trans woman. She was played by Jenny McCarthy and Finch had a difficult time dealing with his attraction to her.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe. It's revealed that Nina Van Horn was originally a farm girl from Kansas named Claire Noodleman.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted.
    • Maya dates two different men named Chris ("Maya Stops Thinking" and "A Beautiful Mind").
    • Finch pursues two different women named Amy ("Hello Goodbye" and "Finch Chasing Amy").
    • Finch also romances (or attempts to romance) two different women named Kelly ("Finch and the Fighter", "Halloween? Halloween!").
  • Only a Lighter: In "Jesus, It's Christmas", Nina scares some carolers by pulling out her pistol lighter. She later gives it to Jack as a present, and it gets him in trouble when he gets caught in an illegal immigration sting.
  • Organ Autonomy: In "Lemon Wacky Hello", Jack develops a form of this (or at least thinks he does) after eating the titular candy. He refers to his right hand as Lester, holding it like a hand puppet and providing a voice for it at first. When the police show up to talk to Nina about her stolen purse, Jack tells Lester to "act like [his] hand". When Jack tries to talk to the officer, his "Lester" hand pops up, but he grabs it with his left hand and forces it down under the desk.
  • The Other Marty: In universe. When David Hasselhoff walks off the set of Finch's film The Burning House before filming is complete, Finch shoots the final scene with Elliott in the role.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: In "Bravefinch", Jack hires a second assistant, Kenny, who behaves threateningly toward Finch but is extremely cheerful with everyone else. Elliott realizes Finch is telling the truth about Kenny being psychotic when he asks Kenny what he thinks of Finch, and Kenny describes him as the nicest guy in the world.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Near the beginning of "The First Thanksgiving", Jack sleeps with Elliott's mom. As he and Maya discuss it in the kitchen, Finch and Nina overhear various parts of the conversation, causing Finch to believe that his date slept with Jack and Nina to believe that Finch's date is going to replace her at work. When they both separately confront him later, the wording of the ensuing conversations and the lack of names used causes Jack to believe that Finch is in love with Elliott's mom and that Nina sees her as a sexual rival, when in reality, neither of them knows the truth until the end of the episode.
  • Out with a Bang:
    • Of a sort-Nina sent a man into cardiac arrest by flashing him.
    • In "Dial N for Murder", Nina's suicidal former agent hopes to invoke this by seducing Finch, expecting that the excitement will cause her heart to give out. However, the old lady has so much more stamina than him that Finch is the one who ends up in an ambulance. He was still begging for more as the paramedics were wheeling him out.
  • Paintball Episode: "War and Sleaze".
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Red, Dennis's father, briefly gets involved with Nina. When he tries to talk to Dennis about their sex life, Dennis faints.
  • Parental Substitute: Jack is this for Dennis. There are many moments where Dennis gets upset because Maya or someone else gets attention that he wants.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: "The Assistant" has Finch and Elliott giving Nina, who's trying to build up her vocabulary prior to an NPR appearance, a "word-a-day" calendar consisting entirely of these as a prank.
  • Phoney Call: Maya realizes Nina is lying about her boyfriend Marvin when she sees Nina pretending to talk to him on a pay phone that is out of order. Nina confesses that she didn't want to admit that Marvin dumped her several weeks ago.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Maya wears one, wearing a pink fairy princess dress, when she thinks everyone else is dressing up for Halloween.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Maya attempts to do this to Finch, but it doesn't work.
    [Maya makes the Puss-In-Boots eyes]
    Finch: [disturbed] Are you gonna throw up?
    Maya: No... this is my "cute" face!
    Finch: If you promise not to do that anymore, I'll help you.
  • Racial Face Blindness: Jack gets Mistaken for Racist due to misidentifying a Chinese-American man in his employ for a Japanese-American businessman he was set to meet. Both of them later express annoyance after the two meet in an elevator.
  • Really Gets Around: Nina is frequently mentioned as being promiscuous, but it's rarely shown. Elliott, on the other hand, regularly sleeps with or dates gorgeous women (often models, since he works with them).
  • Recursive Crossdressing: Nina mentors a drag queen who is playing her in a show. Then the actor gets into Nina's stash of pills and can't perform. Nina goes on stage to tell the crowd what has happened, but they think she's the impersonator, so Nina ends up doing the show herself.
  • Refuge in Audacity: A speech Jack stumbles upon while looking for Maya's boyfriend's puppet show.
    I'm Charlton Heston. Ted Kennedy's car has killed more people than my gun.
  • The Reliable One: Dennis Finch. No matter what happens during the episode, he can fix it. There's a reason he's been Jack's right hand man for as long as he has.
  • Repeated Cue, Tardy Response: Dennis's habit of using the money for Jack's lottery ticket to buy candy for himself instead comes back to bite him one day when Jack actually wins. To cover it up, he doctors a ticket and leaves Jack's office window open, so that the ticket will fly away when Nina opens the door. The cue is Dennis saying "Lucky day", but Nina mistakenly thinks it's Marvin Gaye. Dennis continues on saying "Lucky day" in vain before Nina finally opens the door because she got tired of waiting.
  • Right Behind Me: Nina and Elliot have lunch with Greta, Nina's old Formerly Fit roommate. After Greta leaves, Nina starts talking about how thin she used to be. When Elliot says that Greta looks beautiful anyway, Nina becomes paranoid that Greta is behind her, despite watching her walk out the door.
  • Running Gag:
    • Jack playing around with a new gadget every episode or two and it somehow ending badly.
    • Nina's "my friend Binnie" stories.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: In "The Two Faces of Finch, Part 1", Jack uses his vast influence to blacklist Elliott, rendering him unable to order a drink at the bar or even hail a cab — all because Elliott wouldn't give up his last cannoli. Elliott at last agrees to fork over the dessert, but not before scrubbing it with his tongue.
  • Sexy Coat Flashing:
  • Shirtless Scene: In "How Nina Got Her Groove Back", Maya dates a man who keeps taking his shirt off.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: In the final season, at the insistence of NBC, Rena Sofer was added to the cast as Vicki Costa, a hairdresser whom Jack hires off the street. The character proved unpopular and didn't really add anything to the show, so she was written out halfway through the season. And then NBC didn't even air her goodbye episode, making it feel like a case of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shout Out To Shakespeare: "King Lear Jet" includes parodies of lines from Hamlet and Richard III as well as a Whole-Plot Reference to King Lear.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis:
    • Jack has a friendly rivalry with Donald Trump.
    • Elliott shares a mutual animosity with Annie Leibowitz.
  • Soapbox Sadie:
    • Maya. Often leading to Hypocritical Humor on her part.
    • Nina would often parody the trope by going on a rant about some trivial issue, such as the fact that her exotic dancer boyfriend makes less than other dancers because he has brown eyes.
  • Spiders Are Scary: Jack attempts to use this when he borrows Kevin's pet tarantula to intimidate people during meetings. After the spider escapes (because Jack left the lid off the cage), he suddenly feels the urge to climb on top of his desk and search for it from up there.
  • Staging an Intervention: For Dennis, who has been dating a woman who keeps humiliating him but he can't get himself to leave her. Nina, who apparently has been on the receiving end of some interventions, is glad to be on the other side of one.
  • Stalker with a Crush:
  • Suicide as Comedy: In "Donnie Reedemed" after Donnie's girlfriend leaves him he tries to kill himself a couple times, which fortunately don't work. This is Played for Laughs.
  • Super-Senses: Finch has "an ear for certain words"; like "nude", or "g-string". He's capable of hearing them from literally miles away.
  • Surprise Incest:
    • In "Saving Private Trainer", Jack's handsome new ex-Marine trainer keeps trying to ask Nina out. Nina, who usually Really Gets Around, keeps refusing, much to her surprise. It is at episode's end that she discovers why she's not attracted to him: they're cousins.
    • In "Where's Poppa?", an old female friend of Jack's shows up with her son, and he and Maya show signs of being interested in each other. Jack, however, is horrified, because he had a one-night stand right before her wedding and the timing would line up with him being the young man's father. Eventually she reveals that she secretly got a sample of Jack's DNA years ago and tested it, showing he's not the father. By this point, though, Nina's broken the news to the would-be couple, and the man is horrified, so he breaks up with Maya.
  • The Teapot Pose: In one episode, Nina asks Elliot to shoot a picture of her to show that she can still look great as a fashion model. Elliot instructs her to put one hand on her hip and the other up high. Then he says, "Now repeat after me: I'm a little teapot, short and stout..."
  • Teen Pregnancy: It turns out that Nina had a daughter when she was fifteen, and meets her many years later. Then she learns her daughter did the same thing, and she's also a grandmother. Nina faints at the news.
  • That Came Out Wrong: When Elliott tells Jack he's going to propose to Maya:
    Jack: Now take what's mine and make it yours. (Beat) Came out a little creepy...
  • Think Unsexy Thoughts: When Dennis has his Mistaken for Lesbian moment, he slips into Simon's bathroom and starts thinking about Sam Donaldson to keep an erection at bay so he can continue pretending to be a woman for a bit longer. It doesn't work, but Simon overhears him while making out in the bathtub with Nina and he tells her that it threw him off for a bit.
  • Threeway Sex:
    • In "Two Girls for Every Boy", Maya and a lesbian model get revenge on Finch, who tried to hook them up, by pretending they're willing to have a threesome with him but only if he completes an insane list of impossible tasks before sundown. Throughout the day, Finch is able to get anything he wants from fellow men simply by mentioning that it will help him in this goal (a mounted policeman even gives him a ride on his horse). After he fails miserably, the crowd of men waiting to know if he had succeeded (where they all failed apparently) is disappointed when he shrugs and says no… cue a Slow Clap moment for his effort.
    • In "The Two Faces of Finch, Part 2", Betsy seduces Finch by promising him a threesome. He becomes squicked out when he realizes that Elliott is the intended third person rather than another female.
    • In "The Goodbye Girl" Finch manages to set Elliot up with two women.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: In "Two Girls for Every Boy", Jack tries to get Elliott and Nina to treat him like one of the gang. When they take the idea too far, Jack gets revenge on them by giving them chairs which are designed to give them electric shocks. Elliott howls in pain, but Nina actually gets off on the sensation and asks Jack for more.
  • Trans Equals Gay: Dennis is surprised that his trans friend Brandi's attracted to a woman they were in high school with, asserting (with some unfortunate language) that the reason she transitioned was "you're into guys now". Brandi doesn't correct him about a gender transition being to confirm her identity, not sexual orientation (and of course you can like both too).
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Finch, who was married to Adrienne Barker (played by Rebecca Romijn) at the end of Season 3, and they divorced early in Season 4 when it turned out they had nothing in common.
  • Unseen No More:
    • Jack's wife Allie is constantly mentioned throughout the series, but only makes a physical appearance in the fifth season finale.
    • Nina will often mention her friend and roommate Binnie. In one episode that parodies Psycho, Elliot and Finch begin to wonder if Binnie is real at all, since no one else at the office has ever seen her. Elliot and Finch break into Nina's apartment to discover she is in fact real, but apparently won't go outside due to botched plastic surgery.
  • Unwanted Gift Plot: In "Nina in the Cantina", Finch is determined to get rid of a handmade vase Jack gave him. Knocking it over by "accident" fails to work, it's just that strong. He finally tries to smash it against the counter; a piece of the counter breaks off but the vase stays intact.
  • Vitriolic Co-Workers: All of the main cast is this. Despite their tendency to snark at one another endlessly, they often help one another out.
  • Weakness Turns Her On: Kelly says she likes Finch because he's a small, unaggressive man who isn't very fit physically and willingly cuddles after they have sex (all unlike Maria, her Butch Lesbian ex). She loses interest after he fights Maria in a spontaneous boxing match over her.
  • Welcome Episode: The pilot, in which Maya joins Blush.
  • While You Were in Diapers: Nina tries this on a younger model, but the model wasn't even born then, and Nina freaks out.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Nina tends to cling to her former career as a model, and at a few points mentions that she's worried that she's past her prime.
  • Whole-Plot Reference:
    • A Christmas episode had Dennis fulfilling the role of The Grinch.
    • Another episode had Jack as King Lear, with Maya as Cordelia, and Elliott and Nina as Goneril and Regan.
  • Will They or Won't They?:
    • Elliott and Maya for a few seasons. Before the writers realized no one cared, and a romance didn't gel with the Comedic Sociopathy of the show. As such, Elliott promptly has a panic attack as soon as he proposes to Maya, and that's the end of that.
    • Finch and Nina for one episode.
    • When Vicki joined the cast, the writers immediately started doing this with her and Elliott. And then just as quickly stopped.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Finch gets into a struggle with Kyle, his wife's friend, who's attempting to subtly woo her away from him. At one point Kyle hits himself with the lid of the toilet tank to frame Finch.
  • Yoko Oh No:
    • Nina dates the guitarist in Finch's air band, and the ensuing friction causes him to leave the group; Finch even addresses Nina as Yoko at one point. It turns out that she was doing this intentionally because she was embarrassed about him being in an air band.
    • She also broke up the Eagles.


How the Finch Stole Christmas

Mr. Finch makes like Mr. Grinch

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / HowTheCharacterStoleChristmas

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