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Series / Laverne & Shirley

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"Give us any chance, we'll take it
Read us any rule, we'll break it
We're gonna make our dreams come true...

"One, two, three, four,
Five, six, seven, eight!
Schlemiel! Schlimazel!
Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!"

Laverne & Shirley is a sitcom spun off from Happy Days, centering on two acquaintances of the Fonz who, as the series began, worked at a Milwaukee brewery.

Co-created by Garry Marshall (with former Happy Days writers Lowell Ganz and Mark Rothman), the show starred his sister Penny Marshall as Laverne De Fazio and Cindy Williams as her roommate Shirley Feeney. The most popular supporting characters were Wacky Guys Lenny and Squiggy (played by the underrated Michael McKean and David Lander); other supporting characters included Laverne's dad Frank (Phil Foster), the girls' landlady Edna Babish (Betty Garrett), and Shirley's on-again, off-again boyfriend Carmine "The Big Ragoo" Ragusa (Eddie Mekka). The series ran on ABC from 1976 to 1983.


This series contains examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Not of a person, but in "One Flew Over Milwaukee", Shirley mentions accidentally stepping on someone's goldfish when it jumped out of the tank.
  • Animal Lover: Shirley, as demonstrated by "One Flew Over Milwaukee" where she adopts a canary and nurses him back to health, then falls into a slump when he flies away.
  • Animated Adaptation: Laverne & Shirley in the Army (although on-screen it simply read Laverne & Shirley), which was produced by Hanna-Barbera and featured Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams voicing their characters.
  • Artifact Title: Shirley left the cast in the final season. Conversely on the cartoon, Cindy Williams did not return to voice Shirley in season two, replaced by Lynn Marie Stewart.
  • Bank Toaster: In one episode, Laverne agrees to help a woman who she thinks wants more of the bank's free dishes that they are giving away. Instead, she turns out to be a bank robber, and she and Laverne are both arrested.
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  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: An early episode has the girls discovering their names and numbers have been written on a men's room wall at a local pool hall. Leading them to disguise themselves as guys to try removing it.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Never call Laverne a bimbo.
    • Real Life Example: The mere mention of this show was this for many Milwaukee locals for decades after the show went off the air. Not only was it thought to give the city a stodgy, outdated image, but "the home of Laverne & Shirley" became overused to the point of cliche by national media when referencing Milwaukee. This was even mentioned by Milwaukee's mayor upon being elected in 2004, quipping that "Laverne and Shirley don't live here anymore."
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: An episode has one of the girls promise to make sandwiches for an event but then gets too busy to follow thru and recruits the other to make them. That one gets busy too and recruits Squiggy as a last resort. The first girl is initially appalled, knowing his odd tastes, but is relieved to hear he fixed BLT's...until she finds out his definition of BLT is "baloney, liverwurst and turkey."
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": Most of Laverne's sweaters and shirts have an "L" on them.
  • Candy Striper: In Season 2, Episode 2, "Angels of Mercy", Shirley convinces Laverne to join her as a hospital volunteer as a way of trying to win over Laverne's crush, Jerry, who is undergoing knee surgery. The two wear the traditional striped pinafore and hat as they get up to silly shenanigans while on duty.
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: Mentioned in "One Flew Over Milwaukee", after Shirley has spent time sitting beside an open window on a snowy day, Carmine tells her to change clothes so she doesn't catch pneumonia.
  • Chain Letter: An episode has Laverne enduring a spell of bad luck after throwing one of these away.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The girls' Milwaukee Landlady Edna, later Laverne's stepmother, just kind of vanished sometime after their move out to California.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Michael McKean didn't appear in many episodes of the final season, as he was busy preparing This is Spın̈al Tap. With Squiggy appearing alone in many episodes and Shirley gone from the show entirely, some joked that it should have been re-titled "Laverne and Squiggy."
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Laverne liked drinking a mix of Pepsi and milk together in the same glass.
  • Crossover: With its parent program Happy Days.
  • Death Row: Laverne somehow winds up there in a season 8 episode. She's eventually exonerated.
  • Diagonal Billing: Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams in the opening titles, television's first instance of this form of billing (it having been invented just two years earlier for The Towering Inferno). However, the opening titles also "cheat" this billing in favour of Marshall in two ways: the title of the show is also oriented diagonally in the reverse order (top-left-to-bottom-right), making it impossible not to read the name Laverne before that of Shirley; in addition, as Marshall and Williams are credited on screen, their names are superimposed over their bodies in a scene of the two of them smiling for the camera - with Marshall standing on the left. (It's good to be the sister of the show's creator and producer.)
    • A variation of this was implemented on the Complete Series DVD cover art. Marshall was billed first, but Williams was pictured first.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: When the two first appeared on Happy Days, there was very little difference between Laverne and Shirley. For this series, though, Laverne was made more of a tomboy and Shirley a girly girl.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: During the fifth season, the girls went into the Army, and contended with a tough-as-nails drill sergeant named Alvinia T. Plout (Vicki Lawrence, using her Mama voice).
  • Drop-In Character: Lenny and Squiggy fit this trope to a T, with either or both of them just showing up at the girls' places randomly and without warning, frequently accompanied by Squiggy's signature greeting of "Hallo!" After the cast moved to Burbank, new neighbor Rhonda Lee also did this.
  • Drop-In Landlord: Laverne and Shirley's landlady, Edna Babbish, is a wacky supporting character who eventually becomes more deeply entwined into the girls' life by marrying Laverne's father.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The first season opening titles displayed the characters' full names: Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney.
    • Carrying over from their Happy Days appearances, Cindy Williams gave Shirley a strong accent in the pilot, as she felt the producers wanted her to in order to better match Laverne. After Williams was told she didn't have to use it, she toned it down for subsequent episodes and did away with it entirely by the end of the season.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Whenever it's brought up that Shirley's middle name is Willamina, she seems embarrassed by it.
  • Energetic and Soft-Spoken Duo: Downplayed for the titular characters. Laverne is very loud and Shirley is normally pretty demure, although she's still energetic and can be quite a drama queen.
  • The '50s / The '60s: With The '70s and Eighties often bleeding through.
  • Fight for the Last Bite: In "Guinea Pigs", Laverne tries to eat the last shrimp at a party, but Shirley, who hadn't eaten in a while, tries to steal it out of Laverne's mouth.
  • Five-Temperament Ensemble: Lenny (melancholic/phlegmatic), Shirley (phlegmatic/sanguine), Laverne (choleric), Frank (melancholic), Edna (phlegmatic), Squiggy (sanguine), and Carmine (leukine).
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Though the girls occasionally refer to Lenny and Squiggy as their friends, more often than not they merely tolerate their presence and are largely annoyed by their behavior.
  • Game Show Appearance: Lenny and Squiggy on The Dating Game.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Shirley's beloved "Boo Boo Kitty", although averted for Laverne, who doesn't seem to like plushies.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Subverted in a scene involving many prop bottles and one real glass bottle.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: The girls' boss at the brewery, Mr. Shotz, was never seen in person, always speaking to them and other employees from offstage, usually through a photo of himself or, if he had a more important part in the episode, something that obscured him, like a spotlight.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: A rare female example. Laverne and Shirley are best friends, but they're certainly not gay, judging by the fact that they're often dating men.
    • Lenny and Squiggy also qualify, in fact they're rarely seen apart.
  • Hypno Fool: In one episode, the duo find themselves acting like chickens every time a bell rings.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue / Incoming Ham: "Hello!" Lenny and Squiggy were the undisputed champions of this.
  • Irrevocable Message: A two-part episode ("The Bardwell Caper") involved the duo trying to retrieve a nasty letter they had written to their boss.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lenny and Squiggy. More "jerk" in Squiggy, more "heart of gold" in Lenny.
  • The Klutz: Both of the title characters appear to be pretty clumsy, often tripping, knocking things over, etc.
  • Local Hangout: The Pizza Bowl (when the show was set in Milwaukee) and Cowboy Bill's (during the Los Angeles years). Laverne's dad ran both establishments.
  • Love Interests:
    • Both Laverne and Shirley have had several dates and crushes, including Carmine, Fonzie, and Randy.
    • Lenny dated Amy in "The Slow Child".
  • Missing Mom: Laverne's father Frank is a widower. During the series he dates and eventually marries Edna Babish.
  • Mood Whiplash: The season 5 episode "Why Did the Fireman...?" has Laverne dating a fireman named Randy. On the night he plans to propose to her, he is interrupted several times in typical humorous fashion. The last interruption is a fire emergency that Randy has to respond to. He tells Laverne to go home and wait for him. She does... and is then told that Randy was killed in the fire. The rest of the episode takes a dark turn as Laverne must come to terms with Randy's death.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Rhonda (Leslie Easterbrook), a sexy blonde added as a ratings-boosting gimmick when the show moved to L.A.
    • To some extent Laverne herself became this in the final season.
  • New Year Has Come: A season 3 episode has the girls welcoming in 1960.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • At one point, when Shirley says, "I don't vodeo-dodo" (referring to sex), Laverne replies, "You vodeo-do" (referring to something unknown). Shirley replies that she only did that once.
    • In "One Flew Over Milwaukee", when Shirley brings home Duane the canary and claims he has bronchitis, Laverne asks if it would be like the time she thought her hamster had a headache. Shirley replies, "My hamster did have a headache."
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Nearly the entire cast. One would think Milwaukee was located just outside of Brooklyn.
    • Justified with Laverne and her father: they grew up in New York.
  • One Episode Fear: In "Drive, She Said", Laverne is afraid to drive, which was unknown up until then. She then learns to drive and stops being afraid.
  • Panty Shot: Shirley in the cartoon, which had her and Laverne as cheerleaders in a football game in an episode. She drops to the ground doing a split and her skirt goes up.
    • An earlier episode of the prime time show had Shirley's skirt riding up as Carmine lifted her sideways while they were dancing, exposing her panties for a few frames. It was later reformatted to eliminate the panty shot.
  • Planning with Props: In "The Bardwell Caper", Laverne and Shirley planning to get a nasty letter out of their boss' office.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The final episode is actually one of these, following Carmine as he moves to New York to pursue a Broadway career and auditions for Hair. A very odd way to end the series, and what's more we never do learn whether he lands the role (since the planned spinoff never materialized).
  • Put on a Bus:
    • The last season had Shirley marrying an Army medic and going overseas with him.
    • "Big Rosie" Greenbaum once the show switched settings to Burbank. When the girls returned to Milwaukee in season 7's "Whatever Happened to the Class of '59?", so did Big Rosie.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: With Happy Days.
  • Retool: Season 6 has the entire cast move from Milwaukee to Burbank, CA.
    • When the girls joined the U.S. Army in the Season 5 two-parter "We're in the Army Now", viewers were suddenly faced with a possible retool... but the producers got cold feet and tossed that idea in the bottom drawer. However, the Army episodes inspired the Animated Adaptation Laverne & Shirley in the Army.
  • Reunion Show: Two of them, in 1995 and 2002. The second one included an in-character skit.
  • Ruptured Appendix: "Shirley's Operation." involves Shirley needing the titular operation on her appendix.
  • Sanity Ball: Both title characters have turns being rational while the other is being irrational.
  • Shout-Out: The opening credits were spoofed by Wayne and Garth in Wayne's World.
  • Sick Episode:
    • When Duane the canary is introduced in "One Flew Over Milwaukee", he apparently had bronchitis.
    • In "Bowling for Razzberries", Laverne has a cold.
    • In "Shirley's Operation", Shirley gets appendicitis.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: "Big Rosie" Greenbaum for Laverne during the Milwaukee years. Toned down some as the series went on.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: To levels that only Lucille Ball matched.
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: Maybe not teens at the time, but the cartoon's intro heavily implies they enlisted because their recruiting officer was cute.
  • Sneeze Interruption: In "Bowling for Raspberries", the ladies argue over whether or not Shirley takes too many steps while bowling. Shirley says, "With your feet, you wouldn't need any steps!" and Laverne says, "With your mouth—" but then sneezes. Shirley gets a doctor involved and it turns out Laverne has a cold.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After Cindy Williams left the show, several episodes paired Laverne with a female guest star who replaced Shirley as her girly girl slapstick partner, including Laraine Newman in "Death Row" and Carrie Fisher in "The Playboy Show."
  • Syndication Title / Protagonist and Friends: Laverne & Shirley & Friends, Laverne & Shirley & Company.
  • Tear Jerker : The season 5 episode, "Why Did the Fireman" in which Laverne's almost fiance, a fire fighter, dies on the job comes to mind. Especially in that Laverne is in denial that he's actually dead until the end of the episode. Could also fall under Very Special Episode
  • Tickle Torture: In the episode "Festival Part 1", Laverne pumps Shirley for $70 out of Shirley's vacation funds in order to help a guy she just met win a trip to Italy. When Shirley denies any knowledge of her vacation fund, Laverne recalls that she keeps money in her shoes as well. Shirley denies this too, stating all she has in her shoes are Zeno pads. After tricking Shirley into turning around, Laverne throws her over the armrest of the couch and rips both her shoes off. Laverne's assumption is correct, finding two $20 bills taped to the bottoms of her socks, and tickles her foot into letting go of the second $20 bill. Shirley submits and retrieves the remaining $30 after Laverne threatens to wrestle her for it.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: "Making Our Dreams Come True". The song, performed by Cyndi Grecco, was issued as a single and reached #25 on the Billboard chart.
  • Third-Person Person: Rhonda speaks in third person.
  • Thriller on the Express: "Murder on the Moosejaw Express."
  • Title by Year: There's an episode called "New Year's Eve 1960".
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Laverne is a tough-talking girl who prefers her men the same way, while on the other hand, Shirley is about as girly as a girl can get.
  • Unfolding Plan Montage: In one episode, Laverne outlines a plan to break into an office and steal back some important papers. As she explains it, we see the plan in action, which they pull off perfectly. Then it turns out it was just a visual depiction of the plan being described. Once they implement the plan it goes awry and Hilarity Ensues.
  • When It All Began: The episode "Why Did the Fireman" was the first time Ted Danson appeared in a TV series produced by Paramount Television. After a 1982 guest appearance on Paramount's Taxi, he began his 11-year run on Cheers for the studio as Sam Malone, a role he reprised in 1995 episode of spin-off series Frasier. Three years after appearing on the latter series, he reunited with Paramount for a 6-year run as the title character on Becker.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: In "Drive, She Said", Laverne claims to be scared of driving and says it's like being afraid of heights, snakes, or the dark. Lenny replies that Squiggy is afraid of all three but he still laughs at Laverne because even he isn't afraid to drive.
  • Your Favorite: For Laverne - Milk and Pepsi. Together.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Laverne And Shirley


Laverne & Shirley: The Fonz

Fonzie "drops in" on his girl Laverne's show.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / RequiredSpinoffCrossover

Media sources:

Main / RequiredSpinoffCrossover