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Series / Louie

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Louie is a semi-autobiographic comedy-drama show written, directed, created, edited and produced by Louis C.K. that aired on FX for five seasons from 2010 to 2015. It's the type of show that begs the question of when a show stops being a sitcom, and starts being a series of unconnected absurdist short films centered around one character, running on a Curb Your Enthusiasm-reminiscent format of being set to a mostly dry soundtrack (or none at all), not using a Laugh Track, and deriving most of its humor from excruciatingly awkward or painful situations.

The show stars C.K. as a fictionalized version of himself named Louie, and typically follows him performing stand-up (similarly to Seinfeld), but also focuses on his life as a newly divorced father raising two daughters in New York City. Some of the material is either somewhat surreal or similar to his YouTube material, but the show gives the overall impression of being fairly true to life.

For the first three seasons, there weren't really any season arcs beyond the occasional link or two, with exceptions including the trilogy of "Late Show" episodes, and the show's occasional delves into more serious topics (ex: the episode "God") based on significant experiences in C.K.'s life that made him who he is. The fourth season, however, was much more dramatic and featured increased continuity and three multi-episode storylines, including the six-part "Elevator" arc. C.K. mentioned that the show's fifth season would return to having more humorous episodes.

Following the third season, the show went on an extended hiatus so C.K. could recharge his creative batteries, finally returning for its fourth season in May 2014. He then announced that he would take another long hiatus between season 5 and a planned season 6 to co-produce a series for FX called Better Things starring his friend (and Louie co-star) actress Pamela Aldon.

Amid this hiatus, FX ended their business partnership with C.K.'s production company, Pig Newton, in November 2017 following his admission that a series of sexual misconduct allegations made towards him were true, ceasing production on Louie.

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  • Aerith and Bob:
    • There is a student in one of Louie's girls' class named Never.
    • Louie's uncle Excelsior, played by F. Murray Abraham.
  • An Aesop: Episodes will carry morals on occasion, such as the importance of neighbors in "Pregnant."
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Louie and Pam, who even turns him down when he vents how much he loves Pam. Even taken to the extreme in the Season 2 finale when she leaves with Serge and tells him they can't be together, only for Louie to later mishear her shouting "Wave to me!" as "Wait for me!" as she heads into the airport.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Hoo boy, Louie's mom....
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Louie's list of things it would be weird to start doing after age 40 include getting into fights, sucking other guys' dicks, and skiing.
  • As Himself: Louie obviously, but Todd Barry, Nick Di Paolo and a few other stand-up comedians appear as themselves.
    • The most notable real-life cameos from the second season are Joan Rivers, Dane Cook, and Chris Rock.
    • The third season Late Show arc brings us Jay Leno, Chris Rock again, and, briefly, Susan Sarandon and Paul Rudd as guests during Louie's test show. Fellow stand-ups Maria Bamford and Sarah Silverman also made a few appearances each earlier in the season.
  • As Himself: Most of the comedians who apppear on the show, including Louie himself, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, and Dane Cook.
  • Author Appeal: "Come On, God" and "Duckling" both featured Louie hitting on (and getting rejected by) "good Christian girls". Maybe he's just attracted to women who would never sleep with him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Frequently, but especially the end of Night Out.
    • Also the ending of New Jersey/Airport.
    • Also the ending of "Eddie." Eddie finally confides that he's doing one more show and killing himself. Eddie also admits he visited Louie because he was his only friend, and Louie eventually accepts that he can't stop him and says goodbye.
  • Black Comedy: One of the main sources of humour.
    • One episode even has Louie's sister, who previously miscarried her baby (and was so devastated her marriage fell apart) suffering severe abdominal pains in the night, and is rushed to hospital screaming about how she thinks her baby is dying; upon reaching the hospital and following the episode aesop, however, it turns out her pain was just wind pains from a huge fart.
    • In universe, one episode has Louie pitching a movie. His idea is an entire movie of Humiliation Conga and Despair Event Horizon. The producer ditches him during a lunch date as soon as possible.
  • Black Comedy Rape: While at a dentist's appointment, Louie find himself under the influence of some laughing gas. He has hallucination of being fed a banana by the dentist. As he comes out of his hallucination, the audience can see the dentist zipping his pants back up....
  • Brother-Brother Incest: Louie's brother Robbie tries to rope him into a threeway with a girl he's been seeing (she claims that a single guy won't get her horny).
  • Bumbling Dad: Louie loves his daughters, and claims to be good at dealing with them, but his interactions with them can evoke this trope from time to time.
  • Butt-Monkey/Chew Toy: Louie.
  • Calling the Old Bag Out: Louie's mom comes out as a lesbian. Louie is more concerned with his mom's really cruel neglectful behavior in the past, all of which she handwaves. Finally, he lets her have it with both barrels.
    Mom: Don't you want to hear about how I met my wife?
    • His dad gets one in a flashback to when Louie was thirteen. With Louie getting into drugs and becoming increasingly distant, his mother calls in his absent father, to help straighten him out. His father forcefully announces that everything is going to change and he's going to treat his parents with respect. Louie tells him in no uncertain terms to shut the hell up and get the fuck out because he's a useless loser who was never around and doesn't get to pretend to be a dad now. Louie's dad does as he's told.
  • Candlelit Bath: Pamela shares one with Louie in the season 4 finale.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: One of Louie's neighbors messes up the punchline of the "Lie to me, Pinocchio" joke and then refuses to believe Louie when he explains how the joke actually goes.
  • Celebrity Casualty: In the episode "Elevator Part 4" a news report appears about Hurricane Jasmine Forsythe, which destroyed Florida, causing the death of LeBron James (and 12 million other people).
  • Celebrity Paradox: For the most part, almost every recognizable comedian showing up on the show is playing as themselves... and then we have Amy Poehler playing as Louie's sister Debbie.
    • Stand-up comic Robert Kelly plays Louie's brother, Robbie.
    • Also David Lynch as Jack Dall.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The show was initially a comedy with drama sprinkled throughout, but the fourth season became significantly more serious, save for Louie's stand-up routines. Word of God is that the fifth season will be a return to form.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Christians Against Masturbation leader Ellen Farber, when Louie rants at her about how she doesn't have the right to tell him that masturbation is wrong:
    Louie: And later I'm gonna masturbate and I'm gonna think about you, and there's nothing you can do about it.
    Farber: (concerned) I hope you do think about me! I hope you think about what I've said—that's exactly what I want!
  • Continuity Nod:
    • For the most part, every episode from the first three seasons can stand on its own, but in "Blueberries", Louie has a rather disturbing sexual encounter with the mother of one of his daughters' classmates (to clarify, she asks him to spank her and breaks down hysterically on the bed). In "Duckling", Louie glimpses her coming out of the class as he's picking up his daughter and she gives him a dirty look. In "Ikea/Piano Lesson", she asks him to come to therapy with her to talk about the incident.
    • In "Pregnant," the first episode of season 2, Louie's neighbors offer to watch his kids while he tends to an emergency with his sister. Midway through season 3, in "Lilly Changes," Louie has the idea to leave his younger daughter with the same neighbors so he can search for his missing older daughter, only to find that they're in the middle of a serious argument and can't help him right then.
  • Crapsack World: Nearly every single character but Louie (and occasionally even him) is an unrepentant asshole and Louie never, ever, ever catches a break.
  • Cringe Comedy: The first three seasons rely extensively on this. The fifth season, which C.K. says will retain the comedy of seasons 1-3, almost certainly will too.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Louie's duckling is cute enough to defuse a possible shootout between Afghani militia and US soldiers.
  • The Cutie: Ellen Farber.
  • Darker and Edgier: Darker compared to Louis C.K.'s previous show, Lucky Louie, which was more or less purely comedic. Edgier not so much, given that unlike Lucky Louie, there is no frontal nudity and "fuck" is bleeped out in all but one instance.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Louie himself, though he's often too socially awkward to really make it work. Jack Dall combines this with Cloud Cuckoolander.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: From a news segment in season 4:
    Newscaster 1: Ten people died in the Bronx last night due to a fire that killed ten people in the Bronx last night during a fire.
    Newscaster 2: Fire officials say that all ten people died due to the fire which was too hot for their bodies.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: A young bully named Sean threatens to put Louie in the hospital. Why? Because Louie asked him (and his friends) to be quiet while he was out on a date.
    • On the other hand, after his date is spoiled, Louie decides to follow the bully back to his home in Staten Island, to personally approach the parents of his date-ruiner. Things don't go well, but do end on a bittersweet note, with Louie bonding with the bully's father.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Depending on whether or not he can, Louie will attempt to get back at the people who've wronged him. It can be petty at times.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: In the episode "Telling Jokes/Set Up", Louie goes out with a woman named Laurie. After Laurie gives him oral in his car, she expects him to return the favor, but Louie refuses. Laurie eventually smashes his head against the window and threatens to break his fingers. Louie relents, and in the end, they decide to go out again.
  • Dr. Jerk:
    • Dr. Ben, who insults Louie for being out of shape and having "the worst penis ever." He's the second biggest jerk in the series, after the first version of Louie's mother.
    • The incredibly sardonic doctor from the third season premiere:
      Doctor: Let's take a look here. (exasperated sigh) You know, there's nothing dumber than riding a motorcycle, it's just stupid. We get motorcycle fatalities in here all the time and I gotta tell you, I feel sorry for none of them. Had a guy in here a week ago—four pieces. His legs both cut off, torso, and his helmet. And a bag which has his head in it. Cut off at the neck. You know what his mom said to me? (turns to Louie for emphasis. Mockingly:) "Is he gonna be alright?"
    • Dr. Bigelow in the fourth season, who loudly continues to eat once Louie comes into his office, and then ultimately doesn't help him, telling him to "come see me when you have something fun, like a blood disease." Throughout the season, he gives condescending monologues whenever Louie comes to him for advice.
  • Dramatic Irony: The second season finale. Pamela leaves for Paris and makes it extremely clear that Louie shouldn't keep pining for her. Then after she crosses the turnstile, she yells halfway across the airport at Louie to "wave at me!" only for him to mishear it as "wait for me!". Louie goes home in high spirits.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe. Louie is interviewed by a couple of obnoxious Kansas City radio DJ's. Louie tolerates their antics and tries to get into the spirit by making fun of Kansas City. They respond with shocked silence before dropping his call.
  • Dumbass DJ: Louie is forced by his agent to call in to a show with them to promote a performance in Kansas City. Their spiel includes several nonsense words, which Louie understands clearly.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Maybe the children aren't disturbingly neurotic.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Compared to the later seasons, the first season was a bit more surreal, with the pilot episode ending with his date escaping from him via helicopter.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Jack Dall, Louie's coach when he's auditioning for David Letterman's spot on The Late Show. Though when you're played by David Lynch, eccentricity is inevitable.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Happens in "Poker". After gay comedian Rick Crom explained the serious implications of freely using the word "faggot" for comedic purposes, the room goes silent...until Nick breaks the tension by trash talking Rick using the very slur. The laughing doesn't feel contrived here or the rest of the sketch, because the viewers are, more than likely laughing along with the comedians.
  • Future Me Scares Me: The subject of a tag. Present Louie appears to child Louie and shows him that he'll grow up to be fat and ugly ("you're gonna be bald, too"), but when child Louie asks what the hell happened, present Louie simply says, "I dunno, man. You'll see."

  • Gang of Bullies: Sean and his friends could qualify as this.
  • Going Cosmic: Episode 11 of the first season. Apart from two short segments of Louis' stand up, the entire episode is a very personal story of Louis' early experiences with religion.
  • Good Samaritan: "Brother, do not let your sister die from pain or lose her baby because you are awkward with strangers."
  • Heroic Blue Screen of Death:
    • Louie has an epic one while dealing with his sister's pregnancy scare in the season two premier.
    • Another bad one in the next episode, where Louie dodging a crazy hobo causes the guy to get hit by a garbage truck full-on.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Surprisingly averted with (the second version of) Louie's mother, who, despite not having any strong belief in God or Jesus, seems to find it unfair to totally deprive Louie of religion just because she's not a believer and stresses that treating everyone kindly is good enough.
  • Hypocritical Humor: One of Louie's dates reveals that she already has a kid, something she assumes will scare off Louie. When he says that he's cool with it and he has two daughters himself, the woman says that she "can't take this all right now." What.
  • I Didn't Mean to Turn You On: Ellen from "Come On, God", despite completely meaning to stay celibate until marriage, invites Louie to drinks and then to her apartment, where she changes into a silk robe.
  • Idiot Ball: Louie's decision to buy a motorcycle and the resulting accident is treated in this manner by everyone in the third season premiere.
  • Imagine Spot: "Come On, God" demonstrates that Louie has really lame masturbation fantasies.
  • It's All About Me: From the season 5 premiere, "Pot Luck," Marina, who hosted the titular potluck, is much more concerned about her surrogate child having a natural birth and is totally unconcerned about the wellbeing of the surrogate mother. After the surrogate's water breaks, Marina is furious with Louie... because her child was born in a different hospital and it may have been covered in Louie's jizz.
  • Jerkass: ...pretty much everybody, but (the first version of) Louie's mother is a standout. She's impossible to please and doesn't care about a single person in any capacity but herself. Hell, she invited Louie and his daughters to her house for Christmas once and stood them up to go to Phoenix! It takes a real piece of work for someone telling his own mother that he doesn't love her and to get out of his life forever in public after she comes out as a lesbian to him to not come across as a Kick the Dog moment.
    Louie: My kids spent Christmas in a Holiday Inn. And Santa brought them each a bag of M&Ms.
    Mother: Are you serious? Your mother tells you that she just found out who she is, and you have no opinion?
    Louie: Nope. I don't care.
    Mother: A-ha! You're homophobic!
  • Jitter Cam: Used on occasion.
  • Kick the Dog: Louie's youngest daughter expresses her greater love for her mother, while he's in the middle of brushing her teeth. This is when Louie previously expressed the idea of suicide when his daughters grow too old to need him. This happens to Louie in general.
  • Language of Love: In season 4, Louie dates a Hungarian woman who only speaks a few words in English.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Louie's mother's wife, Jasmine.
  • Literal-Minded: When Louie tells his therapist that sometimes he sees his mother when he looks at his daughter, the therapist keeps asking in confusion as to whether she's in the house.
  • Love Confession: Louie to Pamela in "Pamela".

  • Malaproper: Robbie consistently says "lesbonian".
  • Marijuana Is LSD: Probably done for comedic effect, but the pot that Louie smokes with his neighbor in season one apparently can make a dog appear to change breed and replace his neighbor's face with freaky animal masks. To be fair, Louie's neighbor was getting him REALLY high, and was messing with him throughout the whole sequence.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Liz is a deconstruction of this trope. Beautiful and lively, she brings Louie to a variety of quirky spots in the city, pushing him out of his comfort zone along the way. Through the episode we begin to see through the cracks of Liz's facade, like when she gets denied a drink at her favorite bar (indicating she might be an alcoholic) and has a distraught expression on her face when looking out on the city.
    • Louie is dragged around by another woman who seems to be a deconstruction of the trope in Looking For Liz. She tries to be quirky and exciting and adventurously passionate in love and life, but is just awkward and scary, and gross, with her wacky schemes falling on her face.
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration:
  • Missing Child: "Elevator (Part 1)" touches on the very real fear of being separated from one's child for a lengthy period of time in a public setting. Louie is with his kids in a subway car when Jane, believing herself to still be in a dream, decides to walk away from Louie and Lilly as the doors are closing. Frantic, Louie yells for someone to stop the train while Jane assuredly yells at him that she will stay exactly in place until Louie comes to find her. From there, we follow Louie and Lilly as they're forced to ride the train to the next stop, get onto a different train to take them back to Jane, and sprint from the subway station to Jane's location across the street. Meanwhile, at one point, Jane is approached by a man, and the audience isn't sure if he'll take her away from her spot or not. When Louie finally reaches Jane, it offers a moment of relief and sadness, as Louie proceeds to yell at and shake Jane, admonishing her for acting so irresponsibly (leading her to cry). The action is rough to watch, but completely understandable for any parent scared to death of a similar situation happening to them and their kids.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Louie sees an art exhibit with a button labeled "PUSH" and even though Pamela warns him not to obey the sign, he does. It causes the exhibit plays a loud recording of someone loudly shouting the N-Word, which makes people in the exhibition stare at him as Louie tries to explain it wasn't him.
  • Mood Whiplash: This show is quite possibly the king of this trope, but dear God, "New Year's Eve" (the Season 3 finale) takes the cake. Louie, depressed at being alone on Christmas Eve in the aftermath of his failure to get the Late Show gig, earns a slight amount of elation when he spots Liz, his love interest from earlier in the season. They recognize each other on the bus and begin to hug, when - SECONDS LATER - blood starts pouring out of her nose. The scene cuts to the hospital, where we see doctors working on her. Liz realizes how serious things are and can only leave Louie with a somewhat confused "Goodbye?" before she faints... and dies. What... the... Hell.
    • And to add to that, immediately after she dies Louie walks out of the hospital room to people counting down to and celebrating the New Year.
  • N-Word Privileges: Acceptable usage of "faggot" is discussed in "Poker" at the beginning of season one's second episode.
  • Negative Continuity: Continuity in characterization, et cetera is of little concern to Louis C.K., and he's explicitly stated that if he gets bored of some element of the show, he'll change it without any kind of announcement.
    • In the episode "Mom", Louie's mother is a callous, self-centered, and unloving black hole of a person. In "God" she's kind and reasonable. "In the Woods" portrays her as someone who wants to communicate with her son more often, but eventually lashes out when he becomes silent and distant for apparently several months.
    • Episode 12 of the first season, Louie's brother asks him when was the last time he exercised, and Louie responds never. Five episodes earlier, Louie and his brother are shown exercising together at the gym.
    • Louie goes from having a brother in season 1 to having two sisters in season 2 and back to having a brother in season 4. An interview would imply that they don't exist side-by-side and that it was a retcon.invoked
  • New Year Has Come: "New Year's Eve"
  • Nightmare Dreams: Louie has a terrible nightmare after the incident described in Scare 'Em Straight.
  • No Social Skills: Louie is a pretty awkward guy. His difficulty connecting with other people is the main point of "Niece".
  • Papa Wolf: Louie's a pretty meek person most of the time, but when he believes his daughters are in danger he manages to grow a spine and steps up to protect them.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Louie's mother shows up out of the blue midway through the first season with a new sexuality and a new wife to match.
    Robbie: So let me get this mother's married to a girl who's younger than me, and way hotter than any chick I've ever dated—or ever will date—in my life.
  • Potty Emergency: Louie has one in the extended cold open of "A La Carte." He doesn't make it.
  • Potty Failure: The result of Louie's aforementioned Potty Emergency.
    • Nebar has diarrhea in Louie's bath tub when he stays over for a day.
  • Precision F-Strike: Vanessa's monologue in "So Did the Fat Lady" contains the only uncensored use of "fuck" in the show so far, oddly enough.
  • Pronouncing My Name for You: Played for Laughs in the Late Night arc. Louie is waiting to see Jack Dall.
    Jack's Receptionist: It's pronounced "Dall."
    Louie: Dall?
    Jack's Receptionist: DALL.
    Louie: Dall.
    (Closeup shot of the receptionist has a different actress)
    Jack's Receptionist: Dall.
    Louie: Dall?
  • Put on a Bus: Pam moves to France at the end of season two.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. The name Ellen (and variations such as Ellie) show up frequently as the names of various unrelated female characters.
  • Only Sane Man: He seems to be far less messed up than most of the characters he encounters.
  • Overly Long Gag: Louie rocking out to the entirety of The Who's "Who Are You?" in "Country Road".
  • Racist Great-Great-Aunt: Louie's great-aunt Ellen. It's initially implied to be a simple case of Have a Gay Old Time (she calls Brazil nuts "nigger toes"), but when she hears that Louie and his daughters live in New York...
    Ellen: Oh, my. That's no place to have two young girls! There's nothing but niggers—and even worse today, I hear!
  • Real Life Writes the Plot
  • Real Song Theme Tune "Brother Louie" by Stories.
  • Religious Stereotype: Subverted. Several Christian characters have appeared on the show that didn't see eye-to-eye with Louie (at all), but were shown to otherwise be decent, friendly people.
  • Right Through His Pants: Louie always wears a shirt during sex. In a stand-up routine in season 2, episode 2 he claims that it's for the woman's benefit.
  • Rules of the Road: In "A La Carte," Louie has a Potty Emergency and at one point he runs past a public notice that says "No Dumping"

  • Scare 'Em Straight: Back in Louie's Catholic school days, when someone laughs during a lecture on the crucifixion, the nun calls in a doctor to provide a painstaking description of injuries involved in the scourging and crucifixion. Louie continues to have nightmares about it into adulthood.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Occasional, like the second half of Season 3's "Ikea / Piano Lesson". Louie watches an old comedy show and ends up phoning Sarah Silverman. Talking about how he fell out with Marc Maron, he proceeds to meet with him and give a drawn out apology, only for Marc to explain he did this five years ago, and Louie leaves.
  • Self-Abuse: Louie appears in a news show to argue with Christians Against Masturbation leader Ellen Farber, who thinks that masturbation is a sin in the eyes of God.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Jack Dall, in a Jerk with a Heart of Gold sort of way.
  • Skyward Scream: Louie when he realizes that he just passed up a chance for sex with Pamela.
  • Spiritual Successor: The show has often been described as basically being Seinfeld IF IT WAS ACTUALLY ABOUT NOTHING!
    • Or Seinfeld if FX picked it up instead of NBC and it was a dramedy instead of a sitcom.
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: Played for Laughs in "The Elevator" arc with the meteorological maps of the devastation that Hurricane Jasmine Forsythe will bring to New York.
    Weather Reporter: Now as you can see in this map, everybody in this part of western Brooklyn is already dead and everybody in this part of Brooklyn will be dead by 4 o'clock tomorrow.
  • Stand-Up Comedy: The show's main stories are interspersed with Louie's material performed at (mostly) a small club in New York.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Louie learns this in the very first episode. He's chaperoning a school field trip to the Bronx Botanical Gardens and has to deal with a bus driver who knows neither how to get there nor which roads are bus-legal and a teacher who apparently thinks it's wise to have a classful of children walk on foot to a subway station in Harlem.
  • Take That!: "Oh Louie/Tickets" does this with sitcoms and every cliche that goes with it.
  • The Tag: Might be Hilarious Outtakes, another standup segment, or a short scene tying up loose ends.
  • Tension-Cutting Laughter: In a standoff between Afghani militia and US soldiers, all it took was Louie tripping all over himself to make everyone laugh and defuse the situation entirely.
  • There Are No Therapists: Louie has one, sure, but he seems to be impressively useless.
    Therapist: Do you think it might be because you're fat?
    Therapist: (on another occasion) Have you ever...heard news about somebody dying...and then you got an erection?
  • Three Shorts: There might be some continuity between the three shorts, but they're always named as separate vignettes in the episode's closing credits.
  • A Threesome is Manly: Robbie doesn't seem to mind the idea of a two-man three-way. He doesn't even seem to mind the idea of his own brother being the second man.
  • Tsundere: Pamela could qualify as this. She's abrasive, cynical, and jerky towards Louie. But she does care about him and enjoys having him as a friend, though Louie would like to be something more. Too bad he blows it...initially.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Louie, when he gets contracted to replace David Letterman. The whole thing was a scheme by the president of CBS to get Letterman's price for staying on the show down from 60 to 40 million dollars, and Louie never had a chance of getting the job to begin with. Louie does get some consolation in that he performs so well in his audition that Letterman swears to never have him on the show, apparently for fear of being upstaged.
  • The 'Verse: A strange version; while the episodes tend to be unrelated and independent of one another, the characters can completely change in between them.
    • Louie's mom, who is initially a selfish asshole who puts herself before everyone else in S01E07 "Mom," turns into a loving, caring parent by S01E12 God."
      • Similarly, the Season 4 three-part flashback episode "In the Woods" portrays her in an extremely sympathetic light, as we see her struggling to raise Louie as he's growing more distant and reliant on drugs.
    • Louie's brother Robbie, played by comic Richard Kelly, has a recurring role in Season 1. In Season 2 Louie has two sisters with no further mention of Robbie.
      • As of season 3, Louie has an additional (or just the one?) sister played by Amy Poehler.
      • Robbie is back in season 4.
    • Louie's ex-wife initially appears only once as a white-skinned pair of hands in S02E07 "Oh, Louie." Come Season 3, she is humorously played by black actress Susan Kelechi Watson with zero explanation or handwaving as to how a mixed race couple has completely white children.
      • In the season 4 finale, Pamela asks Louie how his black ex-wife can be the mother of his "almost translucent white girls." Louie provides no answer.
    • Even more bizarrely, in Season 4's "Elevator Part 4", there is an extended flashback to an early point in Louie and Janet's marriage when she initially gets pregnant with Lily, and the actress playing Janet is caucasian, but she has dark hair and does not look like the mother of Lily and Jane.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Louie and Nick DiPaolo (their characters, at least).
    • Louis and Dr. Ben might qualify, as Louis never seems to get particularly upset at the doc, but will call him an ass.
    • There are also cases, as which Louie's friendship with Pamela and Eddie, where there's a lot of bile directed at Louie, and he barely reprises because he values their friendship (and he probably finds it funny).
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Louie's brother Robbie loves their mother very much and just wants to hear her say that she loves him. Not only does she not say it, she storms out of the restaurant very visibly offended.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Osama is shown to think he is one during Louie's laughing gas hallucination in episode 10. Louie calls it bullshit.
  • What Could Have Been: In-Universe example: Once Louie's divorce from his wife is finalized, he looks up an old high school crush. After they sit down for coffee and talk for a bit, she comes right out and says that he's been playing coulda-been. They do end up having sex, however.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The "Elevator" Arc in season four is a parallel to one of C.K's favorite movies, Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise complete with sharing an actress in Eszter Balint.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Louie has a strong phobia of seeing the dentist.
  • Women Prefer Strong Men:
    • In the episode "Bully," Louie is on a date with another middle-aged woman. It goes well until a teenager whom Louie asked to quiet down comes over and threatens to beat Louie up. Louie backs down and his date explains in brutally honest fashion that while she understands intellectually that Louie made the sensible, adult choice, at some gut level for her he's simply not a sexual or romantic prospect anymore because he wasn't "strong." They exchange awkward, mutually unhappy goodbyes, with both of them acknowledging that this is a screwed up situation, and the date ends.
    • Another episode has Louie attempt to woo a black woman. As he questions her over and over again as to why she wont give him a chance, he eventually happens on the reason: she's used to big, strong, athletic black guys, and Louie is pasty, pudgy, and white—practically gay in comparison, to paraphrase.
  • Worst News Judgement Ever: One of the reports on Hurricane Jasmine Forsythe covers the death of LeBron James... and the rest of the Miami Heat... and 12 million other people. Another report from that time frame features the death of a bird due to sadness.
  • Write Who You Know: Louie regularly bases his in-show stand-up material on some incident that occurs in the episode. invoked
  • You Look Familiar: Occasionally.
    • William Stephenson appears as both a bus driver in the pilot and as himself in "Oh Louie/Tickets".
    • Amy Landecker appears as Louie's date in "Bully" and as a young Louie's mother in "God".
    Do you want a doughnut?.
    • F. Murray Abraham plays a swinger in "New Jersey" and Louie's uncle Excelsior in "Dad". And then in "In the Woods Part 2," which includes extended flashbacks to Louie's childhood, he plays Louie's dad!
    • Josh Hamilton appeared as the marijuana-smoking neighbor from season 1's "Dogpound" and as his therapist in the flashback episode "In The Woods" after Louie's need for weed and his dealings with a dealer turn things upside-down.
  • Your Makeup Is Running: In season 5's "Bobby's House," Pamela gives Louie a makeover and they do a little reverse-gender roleplay, and after making love this trope happens when she breaks up with him.