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Series / Married... with Children

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Peg: Did you miss me, honey?
Al: [while eating a sandwich] With every bullet so far.note 

"Love and marriage, love and marriage
They go together like a horse and carriage
This, I'll tell you, brother, you can't have one without the other.
Love and marriage, love and marriage
It's an institute you can't disparage.
Ask the local gentry, and they will say it's elementary.
Try, try, try and separate them
It's an illusion.
Try, try, try and you will only come...
To this conclusion.
Love and marriage...."

— "Love and Marriage", the show's Real Song Theme Tune, sung by Frank Sinatra

Married... with Children is a Sitcom about consummate loser Al Bundy: once a high school football hero dating the hottest girl in school, he is now a balding, starving, destitute shoe salesman. Meanwhile, the same girl that he married is now a useless, bickering TV junkie. He's still driving the same piece-of-junk car he bought in high school and is cursed with a moronic daughter who really gets around, a smart but perverted son, and a lazy dog that might as well be a throw rug.

A vitriolic, biting subversion of clean-cut 'family sitcoms' of the day, and arguably the stage-setter for the Dysfunctional Family trend that followed, the show premiered on April 5, 1987 as the very first prime-time program ever shown by the brand new Fox Broadcasting Company. note  Along with 21 Jump Street and The Tracey Ullman Show, it was one of the network's few hits before the NFL and The Simpsons turned the network into a major player. It was a constant ratings success until it ended in June 1997; it's still Fox's longest-running live-action sitcom. This is the show in which Christina Applegate and Katey Sagal got their starts. There has also been a variety of series of comic books based on the show that were published. A Foreign Remakes include a highly successful one in Argentina, Casado con hijos, and a badly-received one in Israel called Nesuim Plus, starring Lior Ashkenazi, that ran for two seasons between 2012 and 2017..

As of 2022, an animated revival is in the works with the Ed O'Neill, Katey Sagal, Christina Applegate, and David Faustino attached to reprise their roles as the Bundys.

This series inspired and popularized a character type: the Jaded Washout, which was actually called "The Al Bundy" at one point.

Now has a recap page.

"Tropes and Marriage, tropes and marriage..."

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  • '80s Hair: Peg and Kelly in earlier seasons. Bud had a mullet in the season three episodes. Many of the extras, both female and male, had spectacular '80s Hair as well.
  • '90s Hair: As The '80s gave way to The '90s, much of the hair and fashions kept up, particularly with Kelly's changing looks each season. By the time of the last season, Kelly has a layered bob look similar to several actresses in the same period (Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, etc.). Only Peg and Al don't change their looks much.
  • A-Cup Angst: Al constantly mocks Marcy for being flat-chested. At some points, her flatness gets her mistaken for a boy, much to her consternation, anger, and disappointment several times. In the pirate episode, she has to show her breasts to the crew to prove she's a lass twice. And they're still not sure of it afterwards. And then there was the episode where she was continually mistaken for Bruce Jenner.
  • Aborted Arc: The first half of Season 6 introduced several continuing plotlines. Most notably, Peg and Marcy both wound up pregnant, and Bud creating a rapper alter ego, "Grandmaster B", in order to get girls. About halfway through the season, all these storylines were retconned into being a dream. While this may feel like a screw to the audience, it is justified, as Katey Sagal was pregnant in real life at the time, but sadly miscarried when it was time to give birth. Although Sagal said that she'd be willing to continue with the storyline, out of respect, the writers made the entire storyline a dream because, according to one of the creators, "it worked for Dallas". Interestingly enough, the "Grandmaster B" plotline continued after Bud gets the idea of it when he hears Al tell him about the dream.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Bud was unlucky enough to attract a couple of these, both male and female. While certainly not ugly, especially after he made himself look like a total dork in a dating show (where the woman chooses a self-centered hunk as the prize over him), he does the same thing when a nerdy girl ironically echoes what he had said earlier... and ignores her to go out with a self-centered chick. At least he gave her a kiss before he went with the bimbo.
  • Absurdly Long Wait: The episode "Rock of Ages" has the Bundys waiting for a flight in the standby section of the airport. The wait is so long that one person is covered in cobwebs, holding a newspaper with the headline "FDR Promises New Deal".
    • In another episode, they're stuck on the freeway all day and all night during a Labor Day traffic jam.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Marcy has multiple stories about how growing up was less than pleasant. One such tale involving her mother selling her beloved dog, Chester, for fifty cents at a yard sale, and using said money to go on vacation and leave Marcy home alone, crying and begging for Chester to come back home.
    • Al and Peg can be considered outright abusive to Kelly and Bud. Sometimes with physical threats, but mostly it was neglect, emotional anguish, and financial abuse. And if they do bother to feed, clothe, immunize, advise and care for their children, it's usually in a bizarre and ass-backwards way that's considered illegal in the real world. While Al isn't a very good father, he at least does grant the kids allowances (as shown in the opening sequence) and works hard at a shoe store to provide for them, Peg mistreats the kids simply out of selfishness except for occasional Pet the Dog moments as shown in "A Three Job No Income Family" and "At the Zoo".
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Kelly on occasion, such as the time she found Waldo. Another great example of this is when Kelly is asked what color an orange is. She thinks for a moment, and then asks if this is a "regular orange or a navel orange." She wants clarity, you see.
  • Acrofatic: Al's old high school squeeze, Sandy Jorgensen (played by the late Wendie Jo Sperber), is a heavyset woman but can dance as agile as any teenager.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In one episode, Jefferson is followed around by kids who think he was on Happy Days and The Love Boat. Ted McGinley was indeed on both of those shows.
    • As the show became more popular, this happened with guest stars, too, most notably during Gary Coleman's multiple appearances on the show. ("Watchu talkin bout, Bundy?")
    • In the episode in which Peg and Al get involved with a gay couple, the gay couple was played by Sam McMurray and Dan Castellaneta, who also portrayed a gay couple in a sketch on The Tracey Ullman Show.
    • During a flight, after Al is asked to put his shoes back on. Al answers back with "They show Dutch, and they say I stink?!" Ed O'Neil, who plays Al, starred in Dutch.
    • Al as a detective who wears a porkpie hat. Ed O'Neil appeared in the TV movie Popeye Doyle playing the titular, porkpie hat-wearing detective.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Jefferson would often laugh at Al's cracks at Marcy, especially the chicken jokes, though a quick Death Glare would immediately shut him up. By comparison, Steve almost never laughed at the jokes, presumably due to how similar he and Marcy were.
  • Adam Westing: Several celebrities' appearances come to mind, including Jerry Mathers and Shannon Tweed.
  • The Alleged Car: Al's Dodge is quite literally one of a kind. All of the other types of its make and model have either been recalled, exploded, or simply dissolved in the rain. This is possibly due to the fact that Al's car is literally pieced together out of the parts of other broken-down, destroyed Dodges. Many episodes have Al pushing the car back into the garage because it broke down on the ride home. In one episode, it's revealed that its brown color is actually accumulated dirt. Underneath it's a shiny red Cool Car. In another episode, it's revealed that he's put 1 million miles on the thing.note 
    • One episode reveals that spare parts for the Dodge are fairly commonplace in Cuba, where old American muscle cars were still the norm due to the embargo.
  • Affably Evil: Gino, the massive mafia enforcer in "The Hood, the Bud & the Kelly". He's a rather jovial guy for someone who's planning to sell Bud's organs to the highest bidder.
  • The Alleged Car: The Plymouth Duster (often mistaken for a Dodge). According to various antecdotes, it was brought to a stop by an anthill, it wouldn't hit 60 mph if you threw it out of a plane, the ignition key is a bottle opener, it's a literal one-of-a-kind car as the other models have exploded, been recalled, or dissolved in the rain, it has bullet holes on it from when Kelly tried to outrun the cops, and at one point a car wash "lost" it because the brown color is actually years of dirt accumulated on it.
    Cowboy (from the Village People): Hey, sorry about the Dodge out front.
    Kelly: Why, did you hit it?
    Cowboy: No. I'm just sorry about it.
    • One episode had Al on the phone with the manufacturer's automated answering system going through a long list of questions about the car and pressing a button on the phone to answer each question. After the last answer, the computer referred to him by name.
  • All Just a Dream:
    • Done on the Season 6 episode where Al is a detective (see Aborted Arc above).
    • Also done on the episode where the Grim Reaper (played by Sagal without her big red wig) comes for Al's soul and the rest of the family poses as The Village People, but subverted when it turns out that both A-story and B-story were real.
      Kelly: You weren't dreaming, Daddy, you were dying! You were breathing in the chemicals from my bug poison.note  Here, smell it!
    • Also done in the episode "All in the Family". Most of the episode takes place in Al's head. His daydream ends with him pulling out a gun and preparing to murder Peg's family.
    • Also, the episode "Damn Bundys", which ends with Al waking up after the football game in Hell.
  • All Take and No Give: Bud, Kelly and especially Peggy are all like this towards Al. While the kids eventually get jobs and start paying their own way, it's unclear what (if anything) Peg contributes to the relationship, given that she won't get a job, cook or clean, and constantly spends Al's money with a ridiculous sense of entitlement.
  • All Women Are Lustful:
    • Peg is always the one trying to get Al to have sex (in the later episodes. The early ones had Al initiate sex or the two agree never to have it again), Kelly is constantly making out with her various sleazy boyfriends, and even Marcy at her Straw Feminist worst displays a healthy libido. In fact, nearly every woman on the series, barring old prudes and/or antagonistic fat women (and at times, even them), seemed to have sex at the front of their minds at any given moment.
    • Parodied in the episode "Raingirl", where Peggy gives The Talk to Kelly:
      Kelly, maybe it's time we had a little talk. You're getting to be a big girl now, and there's something I've been putting off telling you for a while. But time is slipping by quickly, and I don't want you to learn about it on the street. Honey, there is a thing out there that men will want you to do. In fact, they'll expect it. Now, no woman really enjoys it, but we do it, get them to marry us, and then never have to do it again. That horrible thing is called "work".
    • And then there's the very active sex life that Marcy Rhoades (later D'Arcy) leads, to the point that one episode had her and Jefferson roleplaying as Peg and Al while the pair were on vacation.
  • All Women Hate Each Other:
    • The episode "The House That Peg Lost" brings this trope out in a vivid illustration, as an activity during Kelly's slumber party involves one of the girls leaving the room for a moment, during which the other girls gossip about and badmouth her behind her back, only to feign friendliness once she returns to the room. Then even that thin layer of pretend friendship is torn apart after Bud reveals (or helps to reveal) some incriminating facts about the girls' dating records, especially Kelly's, which leads to Cat Fight lasting through the rest of the slumber party time.
  • Alpha Bitch: Peg and Kelly were both alpha bitches in high school. Kelly's legacy is eventually destroyed when the current principal takes the current generation of Alpha Bitches to the diner where Kelly works to scare them straight.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Ike of NO MA'AM lapses into this least by the gender stereotypes on this show.
  • Amusingly Short List: Implied. Al wants to list all his worldly possessions, so Peg gives him a small piece of paper. He reiterates that it's "all" his worldly possessions, so she rips off an even smaller piece.
  • An Aesop: An infrequent but consistently shown one. Take your education seriously, intelligence is something that will serve you far better than sports acumen or looks. Al lost his scholarship and had no skills to get a better job than a Soul-Sucking Retail Job at a shoe store and his beautiful daughter Kelly lost out on a high-paying job because she was too stupid to read a teleprompter. A recurring gag is that school jocks like Al are losers remembering their Glory Days while nerds who focused on their studies are now successful.
  • ...And That Would Be Wrong: In one episode, Peggy has to go back to school to complete her home ec credit and ends up in the same class as Kelly. A girl in the class leaned over and said, "Hey, Kelly, you up for vandalizing the graveyard tonight?" very casually, as if this was a normal activity for them. Seeing Peggy's shocked look, Kelly says, "No, Susan. That would be wrong."
  • Angry Item Tapping: In "The Things I Do For Love", Peg, who's been trying to seduce Al all episode, is at one point dressed in a leather jacket and miniskirt combo and taps both the kitchen table and the couch with a riding crop (and then complains about how someone needs to dust the house after a lot of it comes out from the latter).
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Al has made countless jokes comparing Marcy to a chicken.
    • Marcy, in turn, has compared him to a pig (though she also uses "pig" to mean "a sexist male"), a three-toed sloth, an ox, and a shaved ape.
    • Al has compared Peg to a mosquito more than once.
    • Peg has compared Al to a dog, saying he's like a big stupid guard dog or her faithful old hound dog.
  • Animal Nemesis:
    • Al's obsession with killing the rabbit that destroyed his vegetable garden.
    • And, earlier in the series, Al and Steve were trying to catch a mouse... which Peg didn't want him to kill after catching it, so the mouse became a pet.
  • Appointment Television: In one episode, Al goes for a vacation at a mountain cabin and is forced by Peggy and Marcy to take them with him. He comments that the only time they stayed quiet other than when he asked who misplaced his baggage was during Oprah's show in spite of the place having no TV for them to watch it on.
  • Approval of God: In-Universe, Kelly unwittingly proposes her life as a sitcom. Al actually adores the show while the rest of the Bundys and the D'Arcys hate it.
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?:
    Al: Son, are you thinking about what I'm thinking about?
    Bud: Luscious hooters?
    Al: No. It's what I should have been thinking about, but no.
    • Also this:
    Ashley: Kelly, are you thinking what I'm thinking?
    Kelly: Why don't things fall up?
    Ashley: No.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?:
    • In Season Three's "Here's Lookin' At You, Kid", Peggy acts horrified when the neighborhood women inform her of a peeping tom, but spends every night posing in front of her bedroom window in lingerie, and is inconsolable when every woman in the neighborhood gets peeped multiple times, except her.
    • In "What I Did For Love", Peggy tries reignited her sex life with Al by buying various lingerie outfits, but is baffled when he fails to display any interest at all.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
    Al: Peg! My apple's gone! This neighborhood's going to hell... First a double homicide, and now this!
  • Artifact Title: The show's working title was Not the Cosbys, which was meant to be a Take That! to The Cosby Show. Calling the show that would have been a pretty bad move, especially since The Cosby Show ended in 1992. The title would have become irrelevant to people who started watching the show in the later years.
  • Artistic License – Geography: One episode had Kelly abandoned by her jerkass date out in the woods. While walking back she noticed a sign that said it was to Chicago (the drop in miles confused her greatly). Of course, 15 miles outside of Chicago is still fairly dense suburbia and nothing like what was shown.
  • As Himself: Pro wrestler King Kong Bundy appeared as himself in a Pro Wrestling Episode where he wrestles (aka squashes) Bud who is dressed up as a masked wrestler named Bumblebee. He had appeared in an earlier episode playing Peggy's cousin.
  • Ashes to Crashes: Funeral ashes were accidentally used in a BBQ, played for laughs and drama.
  • Ass Shove: Happens several times, mostly offscreen or implied. Jefferson once had to go to the hospital to have a boot extracted from his rear end after Marcy kicked his ass so hard her boot got stuck inside.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Depending on the episode.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: When it comes right down to it, the Bundys are a family and they stick together. Just don't expect any of them to admit it. Also apparent when they get a rare taste of luxury, or at least normal life with food and utilities, as in such circumstances they're much happier and civil towards each other.note  For example:
    • When the Dodge goes missing at the car wash, Al is worried about losing "stuff" in the trunk. Peg assumes it's just his collection of Big 'Uns magazines, but it's actually a family portrait (a.k.a. first season publicity shot) of the family outside their home.
    • Kelly is cheated on by a guy, on her birthday, as she discovers him on another date at the same movie theater the Bundys have gone to. At first, Kelly tries to act mature and pretend she is not bothered by this when she talks to him. As soon as she sits down with the rest of her family, she says, "Daddy, beat him up". Without hesitation, Al says, "Of course, pumpkin". He then runs up to the guy and beats the crap out of him. Earlier in the episode, he beat up a guy and took his popcorn for talking bad about Peggy.
    • One beach episode has a old female friend of Al's hitting on him, as Peggy lies asleep next to him on the beach. He declines because he says he loves his wife, despite it all. Later, Peggy admits she heard the whole thing.
    • Another example is the episode featuring the Shoe Groupie. Al comes into the bedroom to find her ready and waiting, and he declines because he actually loves Peggy.
    • An early episode has Al staying at Luke's apartment during a fight with Peggy. Luke brings home two stewardesses, and one offers to sleep with Al. He realizes that cheating on Peggy is wrong, and leaves to go home. Once he gets home, however, he puts a blond wig on Peggy and tells her to get upstairs. So, he didn't cheat on her, but definitely was fantasizing about someone else...
      Al: (Distraught) Oh god, I love my wife!
    • Peggy has her moments too. When the Bundys are stuck on the highway, a man in another car makes the mistake of insulting Al. Al gets out of his car, followed by the other guy, and they start fighting. Peg and the other man's wife get out to try to stop the fight and the other man's wife calls Al a moron. She soon discovers that only Peggy is allowed to insult her husband. Anyone else (save for Marcy, of course) you will get beaten.
      Peggy: Just who are you calling moron?
      Woman: Your husband, you painted hus—*SMACK*
    • The above is then promptly followed by the kids jumping out of the car-and cue Bud and Kelly curbstomping THEM to kingdom come as well. In the words of Kelly Bundy, "It sees us, it insults us, we kick its ass."
    • In one episode, Vanna White guest stars as a former lover of Al's from high school. She's grown into a rich predator and claims that Al was the best lover she had ever had, and she wants to buy him as a sex slave! The kids are actually okay with this, and even Al and Peg aren't sure it's a terrible idea, since Al doesn't please her anyway, and he can't stand her. But shortly after the decision is made, Peg and Al both look at each other with what is unmistakable regret and reverse their decision. He still snarks that she was the better woman in "every way imaginable" but he stays with Peg.
    • In "The Egg and I", Peggy and Al even kiss voluntarily, while cheerfully watching the brawl that Al has instigated next door.
    • Peg interrupts Al's mission to found a Church of No Ma'am to take her out on her birthday, which he makes perfectly clear in front of the men he's not happy about it. The Church dissipates on their first meeting when Marcy shows the congregation video evidence of Al not just wining and dining Peg, but genuinely enjoying himself.
      Marcy: There you have it! Your leader, on a date, with his wife, DEEPLY IN LOVE!
      No Ma'Am member: Say it ain't so, Reverend Al! Tell us you were with a hooker! Or at least a guy dressed like one!
      Al: ....I HAVE SINNED!
    • The kids get in on it, too. Though they routinely put each other down and even screw each other over, if someone outside the fam insults, abuses or otherwise takes advantage of either of them, the other will make the offending party feel their awful wrath. One of Kelly's Jerkass boyfriends kicked her out of his car when she wouldn't put out, stranding her miles from home. After Kelly later steals his car, the cad runs into Bud on the road, and starts running her down as "that cheap slut who stole his car". Bud, who was suffering from the measles, hugs the guy and coughs right in his face as payback.
    • Then there was the time a girl tricked Bud into thinking she wanted to make out with him (despite Kelly's warnings), only to set him up for the humiliation of hanging his underwear on a flagpole. Kelly gets back at the girl by utterly kicking her ass, stripping her naked and tying her to a locker just before the school day began. For bonus points, Kelly placed a sign next to the girl reading "Don't Mess With A Bundy".
    • And in a last season episode, during a brief period when Al and Peg temporarily separated, Bud and Kelly teamed up to kick a rich guy's ass (who was poised to be their new stepfather) when he disrespected Peggy.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Bundys encounter a homicidal ax murderer in "Poppy's by the Tree Part 1" and "2", at the crappy motel of the same name. Said murderer kills obnoxious tourists every five years, to the point that the locals have set up a pool depending on how long before he kills. Peg is taken hostage in the second episode, and we find out the guy has got a, no pun intended, ax to grind because his parents used to own the motel and died having to put up with asshole guests. He's also "The Man Who Met Andy Griffith."
  • Back to School: In the episode "Peggy Made a Little Lamb", Peg learns that she failed a required class in high school (home economics, appropriately enough) and goes back to re-take it. Kelly's in the same class and has to pass it in order to graduate high school. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Bad News in a Good Way: One such example takes place in the episode "Banking on Marcy", in which Marcy D'Arcy has a fear of public speaking and decides to start thinking of sex while speaking to distract her from her nervousness. This results in her delivering an address about how poorly the bank is doing, during which she nears (and reaches) orgasm, complete with a cigarette that appears from nowhere afterward. She subsequently got more speaking gigs for this exact trope, as everybody was so focused on how she delivered the bad news that they didn't care about the bad news itself.
  • Bad Santa:
    • In one Christmas Episode, Al is beaten up by a gang of department store Santas. To be fair, Al had started it the previous day by punching one in the face.
    • In one episode, Al runs a daycare for busy parents trying to holiday shop in the mall. Of course, Al being Al, runs it more like a prison. Watch his version of the "Night Before Xmas" here.
    • Al himself has qualified in episodes when he had to play Santa.
    • The drunken Santa that fell out of a helicopter and landed on the Bundys' roof.
  • Badass Family: The Bundys take on and beat the stuffing out of anyone that insults them. Al, Peggy, Bud and Kelly all can kick wholesale ass.
    Al: We may be maladjusted, but we're strong.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • When Kelly interns at a TV station, the weatherman becomes so annoyed by her stupidity that he warns his bosses that either "the bimbo goes, or I go." Marcy consoles Kelly on supposedly losing her job, but she mentions that the TV station simply fired the weatherman and gave her his job instead.
    • In "No Chicken, No Check", Al is seemingly taking erotic pictures of Peg, telling her things like "show me that pretty little rump." The camera then pans out to reveal that he's taking pictures of Peg holding up all the different meats she bought at the grocery store.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison: In the end of two-part episode "Requiem For a Chevyweight", Al told his Dodge he "never loved that flashy red hussy. Or the new car either".
  • Baldness Mockery:
    • Al is repeatedly insulted over his thinning hair and bald spot by both Peg and Marcy. One episode even has the former woman quipping when Al is trying to look for a hobby for Bud to do instead of annoying Kelly, "You can't teach balding, he already knows how to use the bathroom, and he's too young to drink!"
    • Steve Rhoades is a downplayed version. He also has thinning hair, but this isn't nearly as brought up as Al's baldness.
  • Bare Midriffs Are Feminine: Kelly, being a stereotypical ditzy teenage girl, often wore midriff-baring outfits, especially in the show's earlier years.
  • Basement Dweller: Probably because the writers didn't want to change the show's dynamic, Kelly and Bud live at home well into their 20s despite having decent jobs. Bud fits the stereotypes of this more than his sister, as he actually lived in the basement following a frat house accident.
  • Be a Whore to Get Your Man: The only reason Kelly doesn't starve.
    • In Season Four's "A Taxing Problem", she breezes through the front door late at night, dressed for a date, and cheerily announces, "well, I passed math!" Later, when Peggy appeals to her children to sacrifice their hair so she doesn't have to, Kelly responds, "don't look at me, I've got finals coming up."
    • In Season Four's "Rain Girl", Kelly is hired for her looks at a TV station as a weathergirl, but her first on-air appearance becomes her last when she is incapable of reading the words on the teleprompter. Sensing her job is in jeopardy, she quickly hops up on the counter and hikes up her already-short skirt to flash some thigh at the camera. It doesn't help.
    • In Season Five's "The Godfather, Kelly is dating a 41-year-old city councilman and mayoral candidate, which couldn't please Al and Peggy more. When Kelly says she's headed out with him, Peggy objects, ''"not dressed like that, you're not!", grabs a pair of scissors and cuts a slit in Kelly's short skirt that practically reaches to her hip.
  • Beach Episode:
    • A tenth season, two-part episode has Kelly and her friends tricking Bud and his friends out of their holiday passes to Spring Break. We're then treated to Kelly, her friends and a large cast of female extras in bikinis on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. Al, Griff and Jefferson get in on it as well when they go to Fort Lauderdale themselves.
    • Bundy Family Fun Day at the beach.
  • Bears Are Bad News: In "Bearly Men", Al and Bud go hunting with Peggy's father to prove their manliness. Al and Bud run into a bear (literally; they hit it with a car). Thinking it dead, they take the bear home... only for it to wake up and escape into Chicago. Al, Bud and Peggy's father then have to go after it.
  • Berserk Button:
    • While the entire family would frequently ridicule each other, if anyone else hurt them or took advantage of them, they'd make them pay.
    • Al simply cannot tolerate overweight women, even while under physical coercion to do so.
  • Bested at Bowling: In "Peggy Turns 300", Peggy bowls 300 immediately after Al breaks the record at the local alley —his was just short of 300. This destroys Al's masculine ego.
  • Big Eater:
    • Peg does nothing all day but sit on the couch stuffing herself full of Bon Bons, and yet she never seems to gain a pound. She also mentions eating out a lot at Burger King, Denny's, ordering for pizza, etc.
    • Peg's mother eats at least nine square meals a day, uses a pitchfork as a utensil, it's implied that she has eaten a dog. Al once stated that he didn't like the way Peg's mom looked at him (like he was between two pieces of bread), can unhinge her jaw like an anaconda if she eats anything that's bigger than her, and can eat an entire pig in under a minute. Unlike her daughter though, she is MASSIVELY overweight.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: Happens to Al in "Married with Aliens" when Little Green Men abduct his socks. Al is at first frightened of them, but then takes a liking to them because they're still kinder and less freeloading than his wife and kids.
  • "Better if Not Born" Plot: The 1989 two-parter Christmas Episode of had Al's guardian angel (played by Sam Kinison) show what would happen if he was never born, which shows Peg as a loving Housewife, Bud respectfully successful with women, Kelly a smart and chaste college student and having a charming and rich man played by Ted McGinley as their husband and father. This angers Al so much that he decides to live just to spite them for being the greedy and ungrateful bastards that they are.
  • Big "NO!": Al lets one out when a scoreboard dedicated to him gets blown up.
    • Buck does this when he realizes he's been reincarnated as Lucky, forced to spend another lifetime with the Bundys.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor:
    • Zings fired at all sorts of networks aplenty:
      Marcy: [roleplaying as Peggy] Al, I want you to come upstairs, and try to last longer than a new FOX sitcom!
      Kelly: Something really stinks in here.
      Bud: Well, we are watching FOX.
      [revealed that the living room is filled with garbage due to a strike]
    • Another episode sees Al and Jefferson watching TV:
      Jefferson: This is the best show on FOX.
      Al: Yeah, like that's saying much.
    • Yet another episode had the family trying to watch the network:
      Al: Family, assume Fox network viewing positions!
      [the family promptly is seen holding all sorts of antennas and metal objects, twiddling them around the TV in awkward positions] note 
    • The closing credit sequence of "The Movie Show" features the Bundy family riffing on the credits of a movie they're watching in a theater (complete with references to names on the actual show's credits). At the end of the sequence, Al exclaims "Whoa, here comes the Columbia logo!", and the entire family boos. This originally led right into the Columbia Pictures Television logo, though later reruns and the DVD releases replace it with the Sony Pictures Television logo, making the joke less effective.
    • In the episode "Damn Bundys", when Al insists on playing in the Super Bowl, he ends up getting angry at Satan, who in turn takes away the powers bestowed onto Al.
  • Black Comedy Pet Death: "Requiem for a Dead Briard" has the family (or at least Kelly) grieving Buck's death via hit by a car. While she is hysterical and inconsolable, Buck is in heaven "on trial" with a cat as a judge and Ben Stein as a bailiff dressed like a chicken and the rest of the family crack jokes. Even at one point when Kelly says that he didn't know how to roll over and play dead, Al quips "until now".
    • In "A Bundy Thanksgiving", Kelly, bonds with a turkey and when she learns her family wants to eat it, she throws it out the window not realizing turkey's can't fly. Turns out, the turkey is another kid's pet, and he wanted to kill it.
  • Black Comedy Rape:
    • Sometimes Peg just wouldn't take no for an answer. At least Al was nailed by a hot redhead.
    • Bud unwillingly did the deed with a couple of very large, very fat, and very creepy looking women. After one such misadventure, Bud noted that now he knew how Tom Arnold must have felt whenever he did the deed with Roseanne.
    • Bud also got this from someone he was attracted to. He agrees at one point to keep Kelly's date's little sister company, and as a reward, she promises him a night with Fawn, a friend of hers even more promiscuous than herself. The problem is that said little sister turns out to be Bud's age, and is about to enter a convent, meaning she wants to have all the sex she can before she's forced into a life of none at all. By the time she leaves, Bud has had so much sex that for the first time ever, he doesn't actually want it. It's then that Fawn shows up, ready to roll, and drags Bud off screaming "no mas! no mas!" (a joke on the fact that the sister he was having sex with was Latin).
    • It was generally subverted when it was gender flipped, though. On the rare occasions when Al was the one who either ripped up Peggy's magazine, pointed at her and then their bedroom, or simply flung her over his shoulder and carried her upstairs, she was almost always happy to comply. One time when it was played straight was when Peggy brought up a bunch of benches for the annual Labor Day family barbecue, she was totally exhausted and didn't want to do anything. Cue Al tapping on her shoulder. Later, she is scrubbing the grill as Al watches. Cue Al tapping on her shoulder. Unfortunately, seeing her do housework and manual labor just happened to be Al's major fetish...
    • This is hinted at several times in regards to Kelly as well. One example was at the video shoot for the Guttercats. Kelly, unable to listen to the director, is eventually handcuffed to a fence. As everyone leaves the set, they forget Kelly. Her line? "Great, this is the third time this week someone has chained me up to something and wandered away."
    • Kelly also inadvertently gets it from Marcy when she attends a stage showing of The Jeffersons while disguised as Jefferson. Marcy, who thinks she's Jefferson, ends up groping her the same way she apparently always does with Jefferson in the theatres. At the end, when Bud (who was disguised as Al) complains that Peggy stole his wallet, Kelly points out that at least he didn't get a hickie.
    • Speaking of Marcy, one episode involves Kelly tricking Marcy (and Bud) into thinking that Marcy drunkenly slept with Bud and can't remember it.
    • One of the darkest examples occurred in the season 10 episode "Blond and Blonder". To summarize, a cruel Alpha Bitch named Mindy had played a rather heartless prank on Bud back in high school, and remains unrepentant; at their reunion, Kelly meets the now handsome and rich Eric Waters, who she had played an equally cruel prank on back then — and now expects him to forgive her. Eventually, Bud teams up with Eric to get revenge, telling his sister Eric wants to meet her on the roof, while telling Mindy that Eric wants to meet her under the bleachers. Mindy goes, and has no idea it's actually Bud there. (As for Kelly, Eric never shows up, leaving her to wait in sub-zero weather, presumably all night.)
  • Black Dude Dies First: He doesn't actually die, but Griff invokes this when he refuses to take point for Al and Jefferson during a garbage strike:
    Griff: Haven't you ever seen a war movie? The black man always get it first!
    Al: What do you mean?
    Griff: Jim Brown in The Dirty Dozen?note  Laurence Fishburne in Apocalypse Now? Bubba in Forrest Gump? Any black man on Star Trek? We go in, test the waters, get killed, and you white guys go home to your families.
    Al: See? We both lose!
  • Bland-Name Product: Subverted in early seasons, where Al had a collection of Playboys. Played straight in later seasons with "Big 'uns."
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Peggy, Kelly, and Marcy. Kelly was the Dumb Blonde, Peggy was the Fiery Redhead, and Marcy was the more-or-less sane brunette for the first two seasons, until subsequent season showed her hair getting lighter and lighter (while she became more and more unhinged).
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Bundys can pretty much cheat, lie, steal, mock anyone and everyone, but marriage is forever.
  • The Board Game: Yes, really.
  • Bottle Episode: A handful of episodes took place in one scene with limited actors and actresses. Some examples: the last episode of Season 1 (in which Al and Peg try to go to the closing night of their favorite burger joint, but are stuck at home trying to help their kids solve their social problems), the first episode of Season 5 (in which the Bundys get stuck in a traffic jam during their Labor Day vacation), and part one of the series finale.
  • Bottomless Bladder: Al at one point ponders out loud why heroes in Westerns never go to the bathroom. He then contemplates on what kind of toilet paper they might have used back then.
  • Bowling for Ratings: Al goes bowling a lot. Three episodes take place mostly at the bowling alley:
    • "Alley of the Dolls": Peg challenges an old rival of hers to a family-vs-family bowling match, where the loser has to dress up as a bowling trophy for everyone else to pose with. The Bundys (with Steve as a ringer) end up losing.
    • "Peggy Turns 300": Al goes bowling in an attempt to beat the alley record of 256. He succeeds by bowling a 257 but is then upstaged by Peg bowling a perfect game.
    • "Shoeless Al": After claiming he was traumatized into never wearing shoes again by being locked up in a room full of shoes all night, Al is disallowed to bowl barefoot on the week of the Bowling League Finals. He ultimately decides to put on bowling shoes (thus costing him the lawsuit settlement) to help his team win the championship.
  • Boyfriend-Blocking Dad:
    • Al regularly pummels Kelly's boyfriends (and one time, Bud, since Al is used to seeing Kelly bring home sleazy dates and didn't know Bud brought an actual girl home). Subverted by the fact that most of the guys she dates are scum that no sane father would allow his daughter to date. The few she's brought home that you could honestly call a decent human being Al usually likes fine.
    • Another episode had the underage Kelly about to drink a beer, but she immediately put it down at the look of genuine anger and disapproval on Al's face.
    • Al telling off the older woman he thinks the underage Bud is having an affair with. It's the wrong woman, but it's the right reaction.
    • Throughout the show, especially in the early seasons, both parents basically had "Oh, hell no" reactions to the kids doing something wrong.
    • Surprisingly averted with Peg's father. He's actually quite cordial to Al, and seems to approve of him so much that he actually forced Al at gunpoint to follow through on his proposal to Peg, which he made after having too much to drink one night.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Marcy.
  • The Brainless Beauty: Kelly didn't invent the dumb slutty blonde stereotype, but she sure as hell added to its fame. In fact, Christina Applegate has been spending the rest of her career trying to get away from that image.
  • Brain Bleach: What Al needs whenever he sees Marcy in dessous or a fat woman (particularly Peg's mom) naked or in sexy clothes. One episode had Al saying that he went blind after seeing Peg's mother taking a bath, because his eyes were trying to protect his heart from an attack (Peg's cousin said that happened all the time, even to her doctor).
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Kelly.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Al has a conversation with Jefferson on the phone when he's busy with the wife. After hanging up we hear this.
    Al: Ew! Sex in the morning! Ew! Sex with Marcy! Ew! Sex in the morning with Marcy!
    • One time Marcy insults Al calling him, "You toad! You sloth! You two-toed sloth!".
    • In "The Naked and the Dead, But Mostly the Naked", Kelly talks about how landing a part in a commercial could lead to "TV, movies, made-for-TV movies, movies made from old TV."
    • In "How Bleen Is My Kelly", Al grows long hair after trying Kelly's bleen formula. When he sees the results, he exclaims, "I'm a hunk! I'm a dude! I'm a hunky dude!"
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Al does this a few times. In the episode "Crimes Against Obesity", fat women make Al suffer for his insults against them. Then most of the fat women admit to cannibalism or nearly doing that by accident. Al turns to the camera and says "And I'M the one on trial."
  • Briar Patching: In the episode "Naughty But Niece", after Bud fails to get a scholarship (thanks to constantly getting distracted from studying, especially when Amber, the titular niece of Marcy, has sex with him), Al tries to think of an appropriate punishment. Seeing Amber sneaking up to his room, Bud begs Al not to send him to his room for a week. Al does so, which is exactly what Bud wanted.
  • British Royal Guards: Peggy knows the best way to get a guard to smile is to take one of Al's shoes and let the guard get a good whiff of the odor. Of course, he doesn't smile until she takes the shoe away. He then passes out.
  • Broke Episode: Every single episode of the show. Poverty is the main topic of this show.
  • Broken Pedestal: In later seasons, particularly after getting jobs, the kids become more spiteful towards Peg when they grow to realize their crappy childhood was really her fault and she'll gladly take advantage of them like she does Al. Kelly even tells her off in the 9th season for how terrible a mother she was while under the effect of a truth serum.
  • Bumbling Dad: Al.
  • Burger Fool: The Episode "A Three Job No Income Family" has Al (and later, Peg) working in a restaurant called "Burger Trek." And they don't use any fresh ingredients such as beef, ketchup or cheese, it's powder add-water substitutes.
  • The Bus Came Back: Whenever Peggy was written out of the show during one of Katey Sagal's pregnancies (see Put on a Bus below), she would always return once Sagal was ready to return to work.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When a fat woman whom Al insulted previously asks him if he remembered her as "the woman you insulted," he replies, "I'm sorry Ma'am. You'll have to be a little bit more specific." Even hearing the insult ("a giant seal") does not jog his memory.
  • Butt-Monkey: Al and Bud are the most common examples, although all the main characters end up suffering from this to one degree or another.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": An early episode had Peg selling all of the "Bundy family Playboys" much to the anger of the Bundy males, including a visit from Al's father beyond the grave. Later episodes have Al reading Big 'Uns and no further mention of Playboy magazine is made.
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live Without Them: As Al puts it: "Women: can't live with them... the end."
  • Captivity Harmonica: When Buck runs away and ends up in the pound, it's very prison-ish, complete with harmonica-playing pooch.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Bud. It's possible that his poor performance when he actually manages to have sex is part of the problem-Ariel, Tina Yothers, and Cousin Jimmy's fiance all imply that Bud didn't exactly wow them in bed.
  • Cassandra Truth: Bud actually has some action with a girl in the episode "Tooth And Consequence", but Al and Peg both dismiss it as a joke when told about it, much to Bud's dismay.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Four touchdowns in a single game", "Let's rock", Al's "A fat woman came into the shoe store today" stories, sometimes followed with "Now, I don't know when they started letting women carry (X weapon)", as well as variations on the "Whoa Bundy" rally cry.
    • Peg: "Thank your father, kids."
    • Kids: (in sarcastic voice) "Thanks, dad."
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Poor Bud...
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • Bubba Smith and King Kong Bundy have appeared on the show both as themselves and as other characters.
    • The Jeffersons is referenced in the episode "Dancing with Weezie". MWC's creators Ron Leavitt and Michael G. Moye were producers on that show.
    • The in-jokes about Jefferson starring on Happy Days and The Love Boat, a reference to his actor Ted McGinley appearing on those shows in real life.
    • The characters watch Friends without ever commenting on one character's resemblance to Kelly's ex-boyfriend Vinnie.
  • Chain of Deals: Al's store makes deals all over the mall in the episode "Chicago Shoe Exchange".
  • Channel Hop: In-universe — Psycho Dad going from PBS to The New Adventures of Psycho Dad on Fox finally gave Al a reason to watch the network.
  • Characterization Marches On: Early episodes show Peggy doing housework (even though it was established that she does a lousy job at it, especially the cooking part), Al initiating sex, and Kelly dressing like a normal kid and being of average intelligence (yet still getting poor grades in school). When married to Steve, Marcy was a submissive stereotypical wife (a contrast to Peg's anti-housewife) but when she married Jefferson she became a dominant feminist.
  • Cheek Copy: "It's A Bundyful Life, Part 1" (Season 4, episode 12) showed Marcy drunkenly photocopying her butt at an office Christmas party. This becomes even funnier later when she staggers home drunk on "Part 2" still holding the picture.
    Marcy: I was going to! But I got so sleepy. I guess I fell asleep. But you gotta see this [shows Al a picture] Some bimbo got so smashed she xeroxed her behind. [laughs] Ah,everybody got one. Oh, imagine the humiliation when she shows up for work Monday morning!
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: How Al views the French.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In part one of the series finale, Al shows and talks about his lucky metal shoehorn. Later in the episode, the woman who took the Bundys as hostages shoots Al in the chest. The bullet didn't kill him, it bent the lucky shoehorn he had put in his shirt breast pocket.
  • The Chew Toy: Al, of course.
  • Christmas Episode: Several.
    • Season 2's "You Better Watch Out" may be the most memorable, as a Mall Santa jumps out of a plane for a promotional stunt only his parachute doesn't open and he lands in the Bundys' backyard.
    • Another classic is "It's a Bundyful Life." A parody of the Jimmy Stewart movie, except in this case Al's guardian angel is Sam Kinison. After seeing how wonderful Peggy and the kids' lives would have been without him, he chooses to live. The reason? They have put him through so much misery, he feels it's only fair that they get stuck with him.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In the first season, Al's co-worker at the shoe store was Luke, a smooth-talking womanizer who stole Al's sales. He vanished after the first season, but gets a Hand Wave Shout-Out in Season 9.
  • Children Are a Waste: The show is based entirely on this; as Al's motto says, "a man's home is his coffin."
  • Classically-Trained Extra: Ed O'Neill and David Garrison were both trained as dramatic actors.
  • Class Reunion:
    • Al and Peg go to their high school reunion in the finale for the third season. Particularly memorable in that they both get moments of awesome for doing so.
    • Kelly and her friends go to their reunion in Season 10.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Peg, to ridiculous ends.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Ike of No MA'AM lapsed into this frequently.
    • Kelly had her moments.
  • Combat Pragmatist: While Bud was perfectly capable of handling himself in a straight fight, he continued the proud Bundy tradition of cheating by smashing larger opponents over the head with bottles or chairs, or by hitting them below the belt. Needless to say, this made Al especially proud of his boy.
  • Comically Small Demand: When Al and his colleague at the shoe store blackmail their boss for running a sweat shop and she tells them that she'll give them anything they want, they demand a pitiful 250 dollars, and initially not even per person.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Two years of ongoing issues plus a few specials, published by NOW Comics.
  • Content Warnings: The episode "You Better Watch Out" was aired with the warning "The following depicts a Bundy Christmas. It could be upsetting to small children and others. Parental Guidance is suggested." This was most likely due to the episode's grim storyline involving a mall Santa jumping out of a plane and crashing to his death in the Bundy's backyard.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Bud has all his past costumes hanging up in the basement, including his "Grandmaster B" persona.
    • Lake Chickamacomico (the retirement resort that Al bought) was first mentioned on the Season 1 episode where Marcy has erotic dreams about Al after refusing to admit that she was wrong. It didn't get mentioned again until the first episode featuring Marcy's new husband, Jefferson, who was put in prison for selling land there, as Lake Chickamacomico is so toxic, it won't be safe for habitation until the year 5,000,000. It was then mentioned again on the episode "Weenie Tot Lovers and Other Strangers" when the FBI disrupts a live broadcast of Marcy and Jefferson winning the Weenie Tot Scratch-and-Sniff-Stakes.note 
  • Contraception Deception: In one episode, Al and Peg are trying for another child, because the first child born in the family would inherit a lot of money from a relative. Only Peg does not want to get pregnant again, so she is taking birth control in secret (telling Al that these pills are to improve her fertility) and enjoying much more sex than usual. Eventually, her deception comes to light and at the same time, another family member appears with a new-born baby that would get the money, so they can stop trying.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Marcy frequently suffered these whenever the Bundys got her into trouble with her bank:
    • After she loses $50,000 on a bad loan Al was unable to pay back, she's demoted to drive-up window teller. She later gets her job back by dancing on her boss's desk in a slip for 20 minutes while the other bank employees threw change at her.
    • When she gives Kelly a job as a window model at the bank, Kelly later gets her to sic the security guards on the son of the bank's biggest depositor, who Kelly thinks is a bank robber. Marcy is forced to act as the display model herself while wearing a chicken suit and holding a sign that says Let Us Sit On Your Nest Egg.
    • When Al forces her to dance at the nudie bar as part of a business deal she tries to broker for her boss to buy Al's Dodge, her boss compliments her on her ability to "shake it." A disgusted Marcy punches him out, which causes a bar fight that leads to her boss's arrest. She's later punished by being forced to become the ATM "beeper", in the sense that she has to make the beeping sounds for the bank's ATMs.
  • Cool Car: A surprising number.
    • Al and Steve restore a vintage Ford Mustang.
    • In the Season 5 premier, the family is seen driving around in another Mustang. Though, one has to wonder how Al, a shoe salesman, could afford it.
      • In Season 2 the Bundys appeared on the fictional game show How Do I Love Thee and won a red convertible which wasn't really mentioned again, but it's a fair assumption that this is the car.
    • Kelly auditions for, and wins, the opportunity to introduce the "New Allante!" Also in a sort of Shout-Out, the red sports car in the showroom of the Allante is the Season 2 and 3 Coyote from Hardcastle and McCormick, which itself was based on the 1981 DeLorean.
    • Dodge gives Al the chance to receive a new Viper in exchange for filming his Alleged Car reach the million-mile mark.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Again, Al.
  • Costumer: "Al Bundy, Shoe Dick", where Al pretends to be a private eye, Film Noir style.
  • Commuting on a Bus: David Garrison returned to play Steve several times in one-shot episodes. One notable example had the studio audience applauding him for almost a full minute when he appeared onscreen, during which Garrison humorously checked his watch while standing in silence.
  • Continuity Nod: The episode from Season 4 "Peggy Turns 300" is about Peggy bowling a perfect game at Al's favorite bowling alley, run by a man named Puggy Weaver. Season 9's episode "Shoeless Al" has Al and friends competing in a bowling tournament to win the Puggy Weaver Cup, named after the man who died apparently after season 4.
  • The Couch: Something Peg and Al can agree on. This is their favorite thing in the world. Well, second favorite.
  • Cousin Oliver: Seven, who became The Scrappy, and later caught Chuck Cunningham Syndrome. And later lampshaded by showing his Face on a Milk Carton.
  • Crapsack World: The world of Married is one step from Hell, full of manipulative, brainless beauties, snickering smug winners, despondent and pathetic losers, corrupt authority, dirty criminals, money-gouging women, male chauvinistic pigs, and many general jerkasses, including as described below, God himself.
  • Crappy Holidays:
    • First the family goes to Dumpwater, Florida, where an axe murderer tries to kill them. A few series later, they visit Lower Uncton, England, where the locals... you guessed it: try to kill them.
    • Christmases in the Bundy house usually suck. Noodle Incidents where Al and Peg hid from the kids in the room because they forgot it and Al knocking himself out cold from colliding with a shovel Bud left in the snow. Featured incidents include Al getting his gifts robbed by another Santa, not being able to get Christmas money out of his bank on time before it closed, and learning his prosperous Christmas gifts were damaged goods from his revolting mother-in-law discreetly working as phone sex operator.
    • Birthdays are easily the worst for the family. The other members usually suffer from either having it forgotten or overall lackluster, Al always suffers from getting "gifts" found already in his closet (a fate that he also receives on Christmas) and getting a "cake" made of Peg spraying whipped cream on an unopened box of, depending on her level of apathy, either cake mix or Minute Rice.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Al didn't take kindly to other men hitting on Peg, and he usually "hits on" them in retaliation.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The leader of the Neighborhood Watch in the first season episode where Al accidentally shoots Steve and Marcie's dog.
    NW Leader: Not gonna happen in my house. I'm ready for them. I got 50,000 volts of electricity running through my window bars. I got a bucket of battery acid hanging over the back door and I got a .30-aught-6 rigged to the front doorknob.
    Steve: Then how do you get into your house?
    NW Leader: Wouldn't you like to know!
  • Credit Card Plot: The Season 2 episode "Master the Possibilities", where Bud, Al, and Peg use Buck the dog's name to get a credit card. Coincidentally, another FOX sitcom about a dysfunctional family used this plot for a Season 8 episode.
  • Creepy Physical: Kelly gets one of these from the Wizard of Oz, albeit offscreen.
  • Crosscast Role: Griff once played Dorothy at a school play version of The Wiz.
  • Crossing the Burnt Bridge: When a rich man proposed to Kelly, Al quickly phoned his boss to do the bridge-crossing, oblivious to Kelly rejecting the rich man in favor of a not-so-wealthy suitor.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Always Played for Laughs. Every time a character has a genuine chance at happiness they usually lose it in a comedic way.
    • Subverted in "Route 666" when the Bundys and D'Arcys fall for a con scheme that has them buying what they think is a gold mine but is actually a national park exhibit. They think they're rich when they find a bunch of gold nuggets, but all the nuggets are props made of fools' gold. They're distraught when a park ranger and a bunch of tourists show up and they learn the truth...but then they remember they're armed to the teeth with guns, pickaxes and saws. The next scene features the Bundys and the D'Arcys happily relaxing on the beach with all the money they made from robbing the tourists blind. When Al asks them what time it is, all six of them each check the multiple watches they're wearing to see that it's 3:00 PM.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Done by Ray-Ray and his boys to Al in an Season 8 episode. This was more due to the fact that they outnumbered Al by six to one or more, and the fact that Ray-Ray was too much of a friggin' Dirty Coward to face up to Al one-on-one. If he had, he would have been the one on the receiving end of this.
    • When Al disapproves of Kelly's choice of boyfriends, most of them suffer this.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Several.
    • The episode "Look Who's Barking" centers around Buck the dog. Some episodes have him at the semi-forefront, too.
    • The three poorly disguised pilots (one centered on Al's high school friend and his dim-witted son, one centered on Bud's life in college [including Steve becoming the dean and Marcy starting a protest group against the college dean, her ex-husband Steve], and one about Kelly and her latest boyfriend's petty, sarcastic friends) also count.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most (if not all) of the people on this show are deadpan snarkers, though Al and Peg are the biggest ones. Buck trumps everybody in this department, even if the humans can't hear him.
  • Deal with the Devil: Al agrees to sell his soul to the devil in exchange for becoming a professional football player who leads the Bears to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for Al, the Devil collects on his due at the Super Bowl, because Al didn't say anything about ''winning'' the Super Bowl.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Of every single wholesome family sitcom of the time.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Name the Presidents" and the "Daddy" song.
  • Determinator: Despite all the misery he's been through, Al still keeps on going and refuses to take the easy way out by killing himself. Al notes this on the Season 3 premiere "He Thought He Could" (where Al finds an overdue library book and confronts the evil librarian who constantly put him down as a child) and claims that this is what makes him a winner, rather than a loser.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: There are several examples.
    • In an exchange between Marcy and Jefferson:
      Marcy: Jefferson, go down and talk to the boy.
      Jefferson: But Marcy, he's nuts! You go down, you're the one with the million-dollar life insurance policy.
      Marcy: ...what million-dollar life insurance policy?
      Jefferson: Can't talk now, I've got to go help out the boy.
    • Also played out with Kelly. She can't remember the difference between thinking something and saying it out loud, she later gets reprimanded by her mother for it.
    • In another episode Al dreams that he is a Private Detective, complete with Private Eye Monologue. At one point he says his narration out loud just as he is afflicted with Male Gaze.
  • Dirty Cop: Officer Dan.
  • Dirty Coward: For all his tough-guy posturing, Ray-Ray (see Older Hero vs. Younger Villain and Take a Third Option, below) hides behind the rest of his thugs and has them beat Al up with sheer numbers because he arguably knows he's not man enough to face up to Al in a real fight.
  • Dirty Old Man:
    • Al, Jefferson and the rest of the NO MA'AM guys all enjoy drooling over women young enough to be their daughters (there was even a time when Al and Bud mistook Kelly for a sleazy young woman). When Luke first meets Marcy, he mistakes her for Kelly and comments on how she had "really blossomed".
    • In a fantasy scene of Al's, he is wearing his football uniform with several scantily clad ladies attending to him. Enter scantily clad lady number four, who proceeds to hang up her "jacket" (a see-through negligee robe) on Peggys severed and mounted head. The ladies then begin to ask Al to tell them more stories of his glory. One of them even asks if they should go upstairs and "froog" for him. A later fantasy of Peggy's is the exact same thing, gender flipped, with Al's head serving as a coat rack.
  • Dirty Old Woman: The reason Peggy doesn't seem to mind Al ogling other women, reading nudie magazines or going to strip clubs is probably because she does the same things herself with other men. Marcy also occasionally demonstrates this. A great example is when Peggy wins a contest in which the prize is a week with Jim Jupiter, the healthiest man in Chicago (at first) acting as a personal trainer. Peggy sees the prize more as getting to watch Jim "glisten" as he works out. Marcy suddenly finds a reason to show up at the Bundy's house, wearing workout gear. Both women openly drool at Jim.
  • Disability Alibi: Parodied several times in a row in the episode "Al Bundy, Shoe Dick" where he plays a private detective. At the Summation Gathering, Al lays out how the missing diamond was stolen and accuses the family members of its deceased owner of being complicit. One of them turns out to have two hook hands after Al accuses him of having snatched the stone, and another turns out to be mentally retarded after Al pegs him as the criminal mastermind. (It was the Femme Fatale all along).
  • Disproportionate Restitution: When Bud is sulking at home after his parents cost him a chance to visit the White House, Peg suggests they go out for ice cream. Bud is justifiably enraged. Then Al comes home and makes the same suggestion, whereupon Bud storms out of the house.
  • Distaff Counterpart: An in-universe example occurred with Kelly when she got a job as an amusement park gate attendant, which turned her into a female version of Al, complete with the bitter outlook on life and horror stories involving fat women (she even took on Al's signature slouching-with-hand-in-pants sitting position, which Peg didn't recognize, despite seeing it a million times before). Another example was the show "Psycho Mom", created by FOX as an alternative to Psycho Dad, Al's favorite TV show.
  • The Ditz: Kelly, though in the earlier episodes, she wasn't that dumb (despite getting bad grades in school), and was only made fun of for having bleached-blond hair, being a slut, dating sleazy guys, and committing petty crimes like speeding, sneaking out of the house, stealing money from Al, and vandalizing public property. Lampshaded in an episode which showed that Kelly used to be very intelligent as a child, until she hit her head during a car accident (though earlier episodes before this implied that Peg didn't take care of Kelly when she was pregnant with her, which may have led to mental deficiencies).
  • Does This Make Me Look Fat?: Let's just say that if you ask something along those lines to Al Bundy, don't expect a nice answer.
    Al: Don't put on a dress and ask us if it makes you look fat; we hate that. Besides, it's not the dress that makes you look fat, it's the fat that makes you look fat!

    Al: This woman comes in, and she is so fat, she actually has three smaller women orbiting around her.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After years of mocking Bud for his acne Bud takes advantage of the time Kelly gets a noticeable zit to dish it right back out.
    Bud: If you really want to be on TV, you should draw a face on your zit and go on Montel as Siamese twins.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Quite literally applied in an episode where the Bundys harbor a fugitive Steve, who has a substantial reward on his head. Peg, Bud and Kelly are tempted to turn Steve in, but Al refuses. The police are tipped off anyway, and after arresting Steve they also arrest the Bundys for harboring him. The Bundys wonder which of them ratted Steve out, but they all deny it. The final scene features Buck dressed in a fedora and holding a large bag of reward money in his mouth.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: From time to time, but Bud in particular is guilty of this.
  • Doom It Yourself:
    • Al's adventures fixing a leaky rooftop, him hunting a Killer Rabbit, etc.
    • By Al's own admission, the driveway in front of his house is nowhere near code because he made it out of ground-up women's shoes.
    • The fence the Bundys share with the D'Arcys is also pretty shoddy, given that Peggy did such a half-assed job putting it together.
    • Then, of course, there's the time they installed a satellite dish. You know it's bad when their wives are all betting on who'll be the next one to fall.
      Peg: [while Al is looking down the business-end of a blowtorch to "see the clog"] Wow... you can almost hear the Looney Tunes theme, can't you?
    • Al and Jefferson putting together a Workmate-type work bench. Eventually Kelly figured it out.
    • Al wasn't completely helpless though. He managed to build his own bathroom in the garage, and later used "the Bundy hammer" to convert the garage into his own room.
  • Downer Ending: Due to the Bundy Curse, most of the characters' schemes end in failure. Al usually receives the harshest and most frequent of these endings:
    • "It's a Bundyful Life" has him being unable to get money out of the bank to buy the family presents, beaten up and robbed by angry mothers for tying up the kids he was supposed to "babysit" and sent home to face the music as the mall's P.A. system says that the mall is closed "so that our merchants can get home to their loving families".
    • "Al...With Kelly" ends with him getting Kelly's cold and having no bell to "save" him from a dream abut having a fat nurse.
    • "Al On The Rocks": he finds success as a topless waiter at a woman's bar, but after Jefferson steals his thunder, the ladies reject him and Peg ultimately throws him, Bud, Kelly and Buck out in the cold due to sneezing around Seven.
    • "Shoeway To Heaven": after his 70s style shoes breaks the leg of a famous supermodel on national television and everyone ditches him, he walls himself up in the same hole where he first found the shoes.
    • "Luck of The Bundys" is probably the most infamous example: he has a streak of good luck, only for it to be taken away due to Peg taking a picture of Kelly flying over some bases on a motorcycle, the flash causing her to crash into Bud's frat house, severely damaging it (while coming out unscathed herself) and sending him back home for the semester, Al wins big at a poker game, but a raid causes him and his buddies to be arrested while the cops take his winnings. Then a severe, sudden thunderstorm ends with lightning striking him so badly, that it knocks him out of his shoes.
  • Double Entendre: "Slippin' her the Bundy."
  • Double In-Law Marriage: In "How to Marry a Moron", Kelly is engaged to a rich guy named Lonnie Tot and Lonnie's ugly sister is interested in Bud. When Lonnie's Dad says he'll make Al his business partner if both marriages take place, Al eagerly announces Bud's engagement.
  • Drawing Straws: In "Ship Happens, Part 2", the group on the lifeboat draws straws to see who would swim in the shark- infested waters to look for help. Al is not surprised when he loses the game.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Played for Laughs in this case: Several ship crew members do this during the Pirate episode for having to hear Ruvio the Cruel sing. Early on the same episode, Bud's Pirate counterpart tells some girls to either kiss him or kiss the sharks. The girls jump out of the ship with no hesitation and Captain Courage not only scolds him for giving them a choice but also implies it wasn't the first time it happened.
    • Also played for laughs on the episode, "The Mystery of Skull Island." After Bud's disastrous sky-diving excursion, Al says that for a million dollars, he'd never jump out of an airplane. Peg then tells Al that he landed on "Kiss the Neighbor" on the board game that he's been playing for days. The scene then changes to a laughing Al (in his normal clothes with no parachute) jumping out of an airplane after the instructor asks him if he wants his last minute instructions.
    • Implied as an attempt Played for Laughs in Season 2 episode "If I Were A Rich Man", where after Al informs the Bundys he indeed doesn't have the million dollars that went missing from Steve's bank, he comes back from work to an empty house and a news bulletin on the radio reporting of a crying redhead woman and her two hysterical children being talked down from the top of the Sears Tower in what they called the first Chicago family suicide attempt in history.
  • Driving Test: Bud (who worked for the DMV) was Al's driving inspector for one episode when he lost his license.
  • Drop-In Character: Steve Rhoades for the first four seasons, until David Garrison left the show and his character was replaced by Jefferson D'Arcy (played by Ted McGinley).
  • Dumb Blonde: Kelly.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: If any character figured out something that eluded the rest of the cast, it was usually Kelly.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Bundys are a family of maladjusted people who generally don't get along; the father is a Jaded Washout and a Bumbling Dad, the mother does nothing all day but sit on the couch and eat bonbons, their kids are unhappy (sometimes) and dislike each other (almost always), and the family is generally fairly poor.
  • Eagleland: An extremely cynical Type 2 version. Even Marcy, who makes decent money as a banker and seems to uphold (or try to) Type 1, often ends up losing big.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Ted McGinley appeared as Peg's husband on the two-part "It's A Bundyful Life" a season before he played Marcy's free-loading ex-con second husband.
    • Dan Tullis appeared off-and-on as a generic cop character (or any law officer [FBI agent, sheriff, etc]) who always arrested Al, until the later episodes when he was revealed to be named Officer Dan and joined Al's NO MA'AM group.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: It took a few seasons for the show to settle into the format it's remembered for.
    • Al and Peg weren't quite as antagonistic towards each other (though there were times where they did lament over the fact that they got married too young and blame each other for it), even being affectionate towards each other over the regular course of a day rather than only under extremely special circumstances. Al even considered Peg desirable and initiated sex on his own volition.
    • Al worked with another shoe salesman named Luke who had a better life than he did (as seen on the episode "Al Loses His Cherry"). Later episodes would have Al working alone or with Griff, his Token Black Friend who was miserably divorced.
    • The earlier episodes also had Al and Peg as more competent parents — such as Peg showing concern for Kelly's failing grades and Al planning on using some extra money to hire a tutor — even if their kids didn't take their punishments seriously.
    • Peg's hair was more natural (in fact, it was Katey Sagal's own hair). It wasn't until Season 3 and Flanderdization started kicking in that it became the ridiculous bouffant that people remember (and Sagal started wearing a wig as a result). Peg's wardrobe was also more practical (though still tacky) in the early days before becoming skimpier and more outrageous. It also took a few seasons before she began wearing ridiculously high heeled shoes and gained her distinct prancing gait.
    • Peg actually did housework in the early episodes (even if she was bad at cooking, as seen in the opening credits where she smokes while making a salad and Marcy finds the cigarette while eating the salad, and doing laundry, as seen in "Just Married...With Children", where she had to trick Marcy into doing it). Later episodes, she didn't do housework at all.
    • Peg also smoked cigarettes while watching TV. Later episodes, she ate junk food (mostly bonbons).
    • Kelly in the early episodes was just a lousy student who didn't care about school, dated bad boys and dressed in completely normal clothing. Later episodes would have her as a straight-up promiscuous dumb blonde whose limited mental capacity and inability to learn may or may not have been the result of her upbringing (one episode had Al tell Peg that she should have gained more than five pounds when she was pregnant with Kelly, while others attribute Kelly's dumbness to lead paint exposure, not being fed regularly, or hitting her head while Al and Peg were driving). Her clothing became exaggerated semi-prostitute chic and breaking up marriages and sleeping with her friend’s dads were a Tuesday for her.
    • Bud actually sided with Al and treated him with more respect in the early episodes (even if it the sucking up had an ulterior motive to it), compared to the later episodes where Bud's just as embarrassed to be a Bundy as Kelly and Peg (though, for Bud, this was also because he was trying to score with girls and nothing says "vagina repellent" quite like being a member of a cartoonishly dysfunctional family like The Bundys).
    • Marcy was a genuine prude for the first couple of seasons before the writers started giving her a highly-repressed kinky side. Marcy in the early episodes also dressed more feminine and was a Stepford Smiler who tolerated the Bundys' crude antics and was only mildly disgusted at Al's misogynist beliefs, Peg not caring about it, and the Bundy children being nuisances. Later episodes would have her being a Straw Feminist who dressed more manly and always fought back against Al and the Bundy family. Justified, in this case, as Marcy's personality changed thanks to being demoted, divorced, and married to a man she hardly knows with an extremely shady past.
    • The first time the theme from The Facts of Life is played, Al is singing along and enjoying it, rather than pretending to blow his brains out with the TV remote or making some joke about whoever wrote the song.
  • Easy Amnesia: Peg ends up with amnesia after hitting her head of the coffee table in "The Stepford Peg".
  • Elvis Lives: The episode "I'm Going To Sweatland" has Peggy convinced she saw Elvis at the mall.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: More of an embarrassing last name, as Marcy D'Arcy would attest. Bud's not too thrilled about his middle name being "Franklin", either.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: In "The Agony and the Extra C," Jefferson attempts to get Marcy's name tattooed on his butt as an anniversary present for her. Unfortunately, the drunk tattoo artist inadvertently writes "I Love Mary." When they attempt to fix the tattoo without Marcy noticing, it ends up getting changed to "I Love Marty."
  • Empty Fridge, Empty Life: The Bundys' fridge is always empty (sans the mystery meat that Peg made, but that's NOT safe for human consumption under penalty of FBI quarantined house-arrest). Hence, they invented the Tangwich.
  • Entitled Bitch: Good grief, Peg. She constantly whines and moans about how miserable her life is, and has the gall to claim that Al somehow "owes" her, despite the fact that she refuses to get a job, cook or clean the house, or basically do anything at all to contribute to the relationship. As Al put it in Season 2, Peg thinks a 2-income household is a house with 2 husbands (and is teaching Kelly this).
  • Epic Fail: Al's entire life can be summed up by this trope. Particular examples of epic failure occur with his failed businesses, such as when he lost $100,000 on a shoe information hotline in the episode "976-SHOE", and when he bankrupted Marcy with his attempt to market a line of shoes he received the idea for after he suffered a head injury in "God's Shoes."
  • Erotic Eating: On a two-part episode where Al and Bud go to Fort Lauderdale for spring break, one of the contestants in the bikini contest uses eating a banana as a talent. There was also a Offscreen Moment of Awesome when Marcy's niece Amber is hanging out with Bud, who notes that Amber has showered, lotioned up, changed and eaten a banana in front of him. Unfortunately, we don't get to see it.
  • Escalating War: The episode "How Green Was My Apple" starts out with Al and Jefferson arguing over an apple that's growing on a tree near their shared fence. It grows into an increasingly crazed dispute over their mutual property line.
  • Everybody Cries: As Al, Peg, Jefferson and Marcy spend an evening together watching Beachesnote , their minds wander into how disappointing their lives have turned out to be, until they start mentally singing "The Way We Were" in perfect synchronization. At the end of the song, they all erupt in tears.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Mr. Shimokawa (Marcy's boss) collects American classic "junk" and wants to add Al's car into the collection. Marcy will gain her so desired promotion if she persuades Al to sell it (they can't get another car of that kind because half had been recalled and the other dissolved in rain). When Al finally agreed, Mr. Shimokawa commented he knew every man had his price. Al said every woman had it as well. Marcy had to make a sensual dance and Mr. Shimokawa offered the promotion because of how sexy she was. She then subverted this by beating her boss and calling it her resignation.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • After perusing a copy of TV Guide, Peggy declares to Al, "Honey, Cop Rock's on tonight, so we're (she and the kids) going to the movies." Note that Peg is well known for her love of awful television, but something as notoriously bad as "Cop Rock" is too terrible even for her.
    • In "Her Cups Runneth Over", Steve ogles a mannequin dressed in a leather mini-skirt and match pasties, which he then begins to poke at. Al wanders over, and comments to him "Steve, aren't you ashamed of yourself?"
    • As "Hot Off the Grill" illustrates, the Bundys may be amoral, disgusting, and starving, but even they're repulsed by the fact they just ate burgers contaminated with a dead woman's ashes, as shown by Kelly, Bud, and Peg reacting to the revelation with Spit Take (Kelly, having already swallowed a mouthful of her burger, rinses her mouth with water that she proceeds to spit out, whereas Bud and Peg eject their respective mouthful of burger out of their mouths), while the only reason Al doesn't do so is because he's not informed of this bad news throughout the episode.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Al Bundy against Marcy D'Arcy. Also Al Bundy vs. Satan.
  • Exact Words:
    • In one episode, Al and some of his friends tried a hair tonic that had the unfortunate (for them) side effect of making them want to have sex with their wives (or ex-wife in Griff's case). Al promised to develop an antidote, stating that a Bundy got them in that trouble and a Bundy will get them out. Cuts to a scene with Bud being forced to serve as a test subject.
    • In "Al Goes To The Dogs", Al's hammering and sawing to make a doghouse annoy Marcy. She gets him to stop making noise for a couple hours so she can work at home. He immediately goes back to making noise saying, "She didn't say which two hours!".
    • In one Christmas Episode, Al and Griff were fired and spent the day trying other jobs. They regained their jobs by tricking their replacements into quitting. When Peggy asked Al how his day was, he said it started at the store and ended there.
    • The Halloween Episode where Al was visited by Death (who took on the form of Peg) had her leave a note for him saying that there was a plate warming in the oven for him. Indeed, there was an actual dinner plate left to burn in there when he took it out (and burned his fingers on).
    • Jefferson heads off to Cuba to see Fidel Castro so he can get a fuel pump for Al's Dodge so it can work again. After he returns, Al tells him he can never repay him for what he's done. Jefferson replies to just get him a six-pack of beer. Al reiterates "which part of 'never repay' don't you understand"?
  • Exceeded the Goal: Al works with Kelly to create a short film about shoes in order to get into the shoe industry newsletter Shoe News. Not only does his film get him into the newsletter, he ends up taking first place in a film festival and winning a $10,000 grant from the NEA.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In "Grime And Punishment", Bud gets Al confined to the basement as a slumlord when he starts charging Bud rent. The housing inspector fits Al with a shock collar that keeps him from leaving the basement, and Al tries to bribe his way out by giving Bud some of his photocopied hundred-dollar bills. Bud asks him where the real hundred-dollar bill is:
    Al: I left it in the...copy machine!!! (He tries to run upstairs and gets shocked by the collar)
  • Expy: Psycho Dad is an extreme parody of The Rifleman.
  • Fag Hag:
    • Gender Flipped by Al and Marcy's cousin Mandy. Al initially thinks Mandy is hot, but when he learns she's gay that doesn't prevent them from being good friends and going to baseball games or playing foosball.
    • Played straight and subverted in the same episode when Peg has a close friendship with a gay man, to the point where they actually begin dancing together at an upscale nightclub. The subversion comes when the gay man's husband (played by Simpsons voice actor Dan Castellaneta) thinks that his mate and Peg are having an affair, and tries to tell Al about it. When Al learns that the husband has a job, likes to cook and enjoys watching sports on TV (except for soccer, which he doesn't think is really a "man's game"), Al briefly falls head-over-heels in love.
  • Fake Danger Gambit: The plot for the episode "The Weaker Sex" has Peg saving Al from a pickpocket, and worse, having it caught on the news, which as you can imagine is a major embarrassment to him. Jefferson tries to help by having Al take Peg to a seedy bar, where a contact would insult Peg, Al would knock him out, and Bud would get it on film. Unfortunately, when it comes time to deal the blow, Peg punches out the man herself just as Bud takes the photo. However, the end of the ep has Al successfully pulling this off using one of Kelly's dates.
  • Fanservice Car Wash: Discussed in "Honey, I Blew Up Myself". During Al's birthday, while Kelly and Bud give Al the exact clothes he's wearing as a gift, and Peggy gives him a boudoir picture, which he hates, especially when it's used in a billboard to advertise the photo studio, Jefferson gives him a coupon to a topless car wash.
  • Fantasy Keepsake: In the episode "Damn Bundys," a Deal with the Devil results in Al getting sent to hell, where he's given a box of Red Hots. Later, after winning a game to get them out of hell, Al awakens and thinks it was all just a dream... until he reaches in his pocket and finds the box of Red Hots.
    Al: There's no hell like home.
  • Fashion Hurts: Al spends his days at work trying to help women squeeze their feet into painfully small shoes to appear daintier, which usually causes Al to launch into a torrent of snark. Oftentimes, Al ends up being the one feeling the pain as he gets his fingers caught in shoes or gets knocked around while trying to do his job.
  • Fat Bastard: Bob Rooney. Al once used his exposed gut to scare a bunch of little kids out of their Halloween candy.
  • Faux Horrific: Peg redecorating the bathroom with lots of pink. Al looked at the pictures and saw the Grim Reaper in them.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Al and NO MA'AM often speak this way about their wives or women in general; in turn, Marcy sometimes says the same about men. In the end of a given episode, both sides are typically undermined by Hypocritical Humor.
  • Fell Off the Back of a Truck: Bud and Kelly get Al a jukebox as a Christmas present...that really did fall off the back of a truck.
  • 555:
    • Al got a shoddy product he ordered and called to demand to know the number of their business' supervisor. The response? "1-800-BITE-ME". When Bud got assigned to volunteer a virgin hot-line, the number was "1-800-ZIPP UP".
    • Also, 555-SHOE, 555-RIND, 555-PINF, and 555-RGNE, on the episode Al opened a shoe-hotline.
    • TV example: "Psycho Dad" is seen on channel 83, which hasn't been used as a frequency since 1982 when channels 70 to 83 were surrendered for radio communication purposes.
  • Flanderization: Nearly all the characters eventually, though this actually increased the show's quality, as it worked better as an over-the-top "live-action cartoon", rather than a semi-realistic show. Ed O'Neill noted that as much as he enjoyed being on the show, he was essentially playing Porky Pig.
  • Flat Uh Oh: Marcy occasionally gave these to the audience whenever some disaster was about to strike.
  • Flipping the Bird: In Season Two's "How Do You Spell Revenge?":
    Peggy: I have never been so humiliated. In front of everyone, you told Sister Mary Alice: "bless this, honey."
    Al: Hey, I might not know all the religious gestures, but I recognized the one she gave to me!
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted:
    • Al's family often spend his meager earnings to eat out at restaurants (usually Denny's) instead of grocery stores.
    • One episode has Jefferson finding out that a doll treasured by his wife, Marcy, is worth millions, so he gets a different doll, switches it with the one Marcy owns, and then sells her doll for the fortune without her knowing, while getting Al to pretend to be him on the night he does this in order to prevent Marcy from becoming suspicious, on the promise that Al would get his share upon Jefferson's return. The problem? Jefferson loses the entire fortune at a casino on the way back, meaning Al had just spent a night with a neighbor he abhorred... for nothing.
  • Forbidden Fruit: In the episode "A Little off the Top", Al is accidentally circumcised and has to abstain from sex for a month. For most of their marriage, Al put great effort into avoiding sex with Peg. But now that it was forbidden, she suddenly became some sort of irresistible sex goddess whose every casual action seemed to turn him on. At one point, he is turned on by her breathing.
  • Forced to Watch: Played for Laughs when Al recounts how the Illinois Department of Corrections forced a bunch of juvenile delinquents to watch him work at the shoe store for three hours as part of their "Scared Rich" program. By the end, even the most hardened punk was sobbing and begging to be let go.
  • Foreign Remake: Lots.
    • The Russian remake Happy Together did well enough that they could make over one hundred new episodes, on top of having already adapted (almost) all of the episodes from the original series.
    • Polish sitcom Swiat wedlug Kiepskich is Gender Flipped - the main character is stay-at-home, lazy, unemployed husband, assisted by a Dumb Muscle of a son, with hard working mother and boy-crazed daughter.
    • Hilfe meine Familie spinnt is a German example from The '90s. It was aired at the same time the American original was aired and, not very surprisingly, didn't go over well.
    • There's also a Brazilian version named A Guerra dos Pintos (Pinto being the surname of the Bundys' Brazilian counterparts) but it didn't go very well either. The first episode was an adaptation of the original series' first episode.
    • Casados Con Hijos is the Argentine version. The writers made an important work in removing all American stuff from the series and fill it with Argentinian culture, from the names of the characters to their backgrounds and several plots.
    • Married for Life" was the British version with Russ Abbot as Ted Butler (not Al Bundy), a pre- Downton Abbey'' Hugh Bonneville as Steve.... Hollingsworth. (It was axed after seven episodes.)
  • Forgot to Pay the Bill: While they almost always have electricity or heating, a Running Gag is the Bundys getting their water shut off, to the point that getting it TURNED BACK ON is a rare occurrence.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": Al calls a junkyard in Rhode Island looking for an alternator for his Dodge. He spends 90% of the episode on their automated response system. Once Al pushes the right options describing his car, the automated voice then says "Hello Mr. Bundy!" and once he finally got to talk with some real person, Kelly ruined it all. Depressed, Al decided to spend the rest of his life in the basement, where he was treated to the same Arc Words Bud was earlier in the episode: "If you build it, he'll come." (Does it sound familiar?) But then the mysterious voice added: "If you want him to build it for you, press one."
  • Former Child Star:
    • In the episode, "You Better Shop Around" Jerry Mathers (known for Leave It to Beaver) guest stars, playing himself as a washed-up former child star, who has resorted to judging shopping contests in supermarkets. Bud and Kelly mercilessly mock him for this until he brought up the fact their Dad sells shoes for a living.
    • "How Green Was My Apple" also had Danny Bonaduce (from The Partridge Family) and Gary Coleman from Diff'rent Strokes trying to dodge their child star pasts with no success.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: The three pilot episodes that had the Bundys in supporting roles; the Dream Episode where the Grim Reaper (who appears as Peg) haunts Al on Halloween after Al wishes he was dead; the fantasy episode where the Devil (played by Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund) buys Al's soul after Al wishes he could play professional football; the 3D episode where Al is locked in a store; the war movie parody episode "T*R*A*S*H" where Al and Griff (Al's coworker in the later seasons) enlist in the National Guard and help quell a garbage strike.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • The Bundys: Al (choleric/melancholic), Peg (sanguine/choleric), Kelly (phlegmatic/sanguine), Bud (melancholic/phlegmatic) and Buck/Lucky (leukine).
    • Other characters: Marcy (melancholic/choleric), Steve (phlegmatic/melancholic), Jefferson (sanguine/phlegmatic) and Luke/Griff (choleric/sanguine), and Seven (leukine)
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • It's implied in several episodes that Kelly's promiscuity stems from being starved for attention and treated as the Butt-Monkey in her own family (the episode where Al invents shoe-lights lampshaded this with Kelly's (who is being used as the guinea pig for shoe-lights) line: "'Kelly, this meat is green. Taste it to see if it's good.' 'Kelly, there's a noise downstairs. Go see if it's a burglar.' No wonder I run into the arms of strange men").
    • Marcy's hostile, Straw Feminist Strawman Political behavior is heavily implied to have been caused by her horrendous childhood and teenage years,where she was abused by her mother and relentlessly bullied by her more popular classmates, rejected by every man she had a crush on, abandonded by her husband, and so on. Her present day personality is implied to be an attempt at asserting control over her life in any way she can.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: The Bundys are perpetually cash-strapped, with only a single breadwinner who works a menial retail job. Their home is not in great repair, but it's a spacious multilevel house, and the family lives next door to a wealthy banker, so it must be a nice neighborhood.
  • Full-Name Basis: Bob Rooney is never called anything but Bob Rooney, even by his wife.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • NO MA'AM: The National Organization of Men Against Amazonian Masterhood (in one episode, this was changed to "Numb Old Men Anxiously Awaiting Mortician")
    • Also Marcy's counter-organization FANG: Feminists Against Neanderthal Guys.
    • At another point, Marcy and Peg started WOMB: Women Owe Men Bupkis.
  • Funny Background Event: Near the end of the fourth-season episode "Hot Off The Grill", after Kelly realizes that she accidentally put the ashes of Marcy's dead aunt in Al's BBQ grill and informs Bud, Peg, and Steve, their actions become this while Al and Marcy, oblivious to the truth and subsequent events taking place, chat between themselves and continue to consume the "Bundy burgers" (Peg, infuriated, chases and tries to strangle Kelly for her blunder, whereas Bud and Steve are scooping up the ashes off the grill to be re-deposited into Marcy's urn later).
  • Funny X-Ray: an episode has Jefferson in the hospital telling the story of how he got there by wanting to get a gift for his wife Marcy, culminating in his getting a tattoo that misspelled Marcy's name as Marty. Marcy's reaction is revealed at the episode's end when an x-ray of his rear end reveals shows the outline of a boot.
  • G-Rated Mental Illness: After being bitten by a particularly dangerous insect in an episode, Kelly graduates from her normal blonde ditziness to full-blown loon. She's still generally perky and happy, just completely removed from reality.
  • Game Between Heirs: There's an episode in which Al's Uncle Stymie, the only male Bundy to be a success in life (Al credits this to the fact Stymie was the only one who never married), left his $500,000 estate to the first male Bundy to have a legitimate son named after him. Considering that the lawyer who read the will would later marry a male Bundy and give birth to Stymie Junior to get the money, Al and the other Bundys who didn't get the money could have challenged the will under claims of undue influence.
  • Games of the Elderly: "And Bingo Was Her Game-O", Peg invites Marcy to go to a bingo hall for a weekly game. Naturally there are a few old people there, one of which is an unpleasant old lady that Marcy has to sit next to who snaps at her for even the slightest action (though Marcy gets even when Peg wins via yelling for the woman to shut up when she congratulates Peggy, which the woman had been doing to her through the game).
  • Gargle Blaster: Peggy tries serving Al a glass of orange...something that spews smoke everywhere.
    Al: ...
    Peggy: Al...we thought you might be I made you some Tang.
    Al: ...Tang don't smoke.
    Kelly: Oh! This is new and improved "Smoking Tang!" Chock full of vitamins and ministers!
  • Gay Moment: The (occasional) homoerotic tension between Al and Jefferson.
    • In one episode, Jefferson hugs Al in gratitude.
      Al: Those better be dimes in your pockets.
      Jefferson: [shrugs] Mostly.
    • A stronger, because more mutual, example, occurs in another episode when Al happens to graze Jefferson's hand when they're sitting next to each other on the couch.
      Al: Jefferson, your skin is so soft.
      Jefferson: Oh Al, you say the nicest things.
      Al: Well, it's easy when I'm with you.
      [they gaze into each others' eyes for a moment; then they catch themselves and start talking, in a much lower register, about the Chicago Bears' prospects for the season]
  • "Get Out of Jail Free" Card: Peggy usually gives Al a "Get Out Of Sex Free" card for his birthday.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Al was continually hatching these. Given that he was, well, Al Bundy, they usually tended to blow up in his face. To be fair, most of these schemes involved shoes.
  • Gilligan Cut: Many times.
    • In one instance, Marcy was telling Al he needed to see a dentist due to his bad teeth, but Al reassures her that his teeth do not hurt and never have. Gilligan Cut to later in the night as Al screams "Now my teeth hurt!"
    • In the episode "Oldies but Young 'Uns", Al becomes obsessed with finding an old song. When he eventually sees it in a record store, the cashier says that it costs 60 dollars:
    Peggy: 60 dollars?! For a record? Hey, look. You must look at my husband, and mistake crazy for stupid. He's not paying sixty dollars for a record, and if he does, I'll kiss your
    [cut to Al and Peggy entering their house, Al with the record in his hand, and Peggy wiping her mouth]
    • In an episode featuring the Bundys playing a board game with the D'Arcys, Al scoffs when a newly arrived Bud complains that a girl pushed him into jumping out of a plane, but still didn't sleep with him. Al jokes, "For a million dollars, I'd never jump out of an airplane!" Cue Peggy announcing that Al's game piece has landed on the "kiss the neighbor" space, swiftly followed by a horrified look on Al's face. The very next scene is Al on the same plane Bud jumped out of, only a Laughing Mad Al simply jumps out of the plane without even bothering to put on a parachute.
    • In "A Man For No Seasons", Al and the NO MA'AM guys are griping about the baseball strike. Al says that they don't need the pro players when they can play baseball themselves. He says they can even play at Wrigley Field, but one of the guys points out that it's private property and they probably can't use it. Al then wonders who would stop a bunch of great American guys from playing the great American game. The scene immediately cuts to the NO MA'AM guys in jail, with Al realizing that the police would probably stop them.
  • Glory Days: Al's many stories about how he "scored four touchdowns in one game".
  • Gold Digger: Peggy has displayed a willingness to dump Al for any man with higher earning potential. But she never actually does.
    • Peg, despite the fact that her husband has a crappy job. Gender Flipped by Jefferson, whose marriage to banker Marcy is based on this trope. One of the more subtle jokes in the series was that mortal enemies Al and Marcy are essentially in exactly the same situation when it comes to their spouses and that Al's best friend had all the flaws he complains about in his own wife.
    • It was acknowledged as well: one episode opens with Al coming home, and delivering a speech ostensibly to Peg about how he's been working all day while she just sits on the couch watching TV and munching bonbons. The camera then pans out to reveal that he's talking to Jefferson.
    • Also in an episode (one of Steve's last on the show) where Marcy was among those commiserating with Al and his bar buddies over working to pay for unappreciative families.
    • One episode had Marcy wanting to leave her husband because he didn't make as much money as he used to when he wanted to pursue his dream job, making her seem like this as well.
    • One of the episodes where Marcy got him a job, she told him she was tired of having him commenting about Oprah every time she gets home and that it was like being married to Peggy.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: This happened to Al after he made the mistake of looking up when he had a fat woman in the chair at the shoe store and ended up seeing her underwear, which she hadn't changed in five days.
  • Gonk:
    • This was the type of woman Bud usually ended up attracting, much to his chagrin.
    • Peg's mother was implied to be this, although we were spared the horror of actually seeing what she looked like.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: A race of space aliens use Al's used socks to power rockets that will destroy a comet that threatens their planet. It is told that there are songs still sung about Al's help on that planet, but neither Al nor anyone else on Earth even knows this happens. In fact, Al doesn't understand their language that his used socks would be used for fuel.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: "Torch Song Duet": Al is jealous of all of the praise Griff is getting after he helps him win a quiz show over the radio, which rewards Griff with the opportunity to carry the Olympic Torch in the mall.
  • The Grim Reaper: Unsurprisingly, Al associates Peg with her. The Reaper also appeared in one episode, played by a wigless Katey Sagal.
  • Gypsy Curse:
    • The Bundy family has multiple ones upon them. The eternal darkness in Lower Uncton is one of them, Al's smelly feet are another one, and the general successlessness of every Bundy in history is said to be yet another one. (Al's Uncle Stymie avoided the successlessness, which Al attributes to the fact Stymie never got married.)
    • And how about being turned into chimpanzees by a Gypsy's curse, while Buck was turned into a human (played by his usual voice actor).

  • Halloween Episode: "Take My Wife, Please": While the family and Jefferson masquerade as the Village People for Marcy's women's group, Al wishes he was dead and is visited by the Grim Reaper (who assumes the form of Peg). Well, it was All Just a Dream... or was it?
  • Hand Puppet Mockery: When Kelly ended up with her own children's show, she made a puppet of Bud called "Budrick" that mocked his loneliness and other pathetic ways and even had t-shirts printed up saying "Don't Be A Budrick; Be A Goodrick" that were so popular, even Al and Peg had copies.
  • Hated Item Makeover: While taking a design class, Peg wants to redecorate the house, to which Al says no. Peg then remodels Al's beloved bathroom. Upon seeing it, he screams and faints.
  • Heel–Face Turn: During the seasons where Al started "NO MA'AM", Officer Dan went from being the cop who always arrested Al to being his best friend. The exact turning point was the two-part episode "I Want My Psycho Dad" when Officer Dan attempted to break up NO MA'AM's protest, but when he realized they were protesting the cancellation of Psycho Dad, he joined the protest.
  • Henpecked Husband: Steve is flanderized into this. Jefferson is also this. Al has them both beat, though. Except on a few rare occasions, it's clear that Peggy is the true head of the household. As he himself notes, Al is more like the ox who's destined to plow the fields until he keels over stone dead.
  • Heroic BSoD: Al suffered a couple of these over the course of the series after particularly traumatic or horrifying experiences (being beaten at bowling, accidentally looking up a fat woman's dress and seeing her filthy underwear, being forced to have sex with his wife, etc.).
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Al's favorite TV character "Psycho Dad" straddles the line between this and Villain Protagonist. As the theme lyrics say, "He's a darn good pa, but he hates the law."
  • Hidden Depths: Every now and then, Kelly manages to display this.
  • Hide and No Seek: The episode "Blond And Blonder" had Peg and Marcy hide, tricked while Al and Jefferson enjoyed the time away from them.
  • High School: Al frequently reminisces on how he "scored four touchdowns in one game".
  • Hillbilly Horrors: Played for laughs in a two-part episode where the Bundys and the D'Arcys are tricked into buying what they think is a gold mine but is actually a national park exhibit full of fool's gold. They are furious when a park ranger and some tourists reveal the truth...and then remember that they have weapons while the tourists are unarmed. The episode ends with the Bundys and the D'Arcys relaxing on the beach, listening to the radio describing how a group of tourists were robbed by a crazed mountain man (Al) and his family, which included "two wives (Peggy, Kelly) and three sons (Bud, Jefferson and Marcy)" and was last seen driving away in a Dodge.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood:
    • Many jokes about what a lousy mother Peg was to Bud and Kelly.
    • As bad as Bud and Kelly's childhoods were, several episodes imply that Al's was even worse. His mother was an alcoholic, and his father abandoned the family for a hooker.
  • Hired for Their Looks: In "Rain Girl", Kelly Bundy becomes a TV station's "weather bunny" at a higher salary than the station's professional meteorologist, to his outrage.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • In one episode, a scoreboard that was going to be named after Al due to his Memetic Mutation "4 touchdowns in a single game" was scheduled to be named after Terry Bradshaw... who hadn't played any football while attending Polk High. Because of this, Al wired the scoreboard to detonate at the unveiling... only to find out that Bradshaw had declined the honor and pushed for it to be named after Al instead.
    • In a real life example, Terry Rakolta's attempts to have the show cancelled only increased its success.
  • Hollywood Provincialism: In the very first episode they refer to a local radio station as "K-Rock." That'd be for stations West of the Mississippi. All local radio and TV stations in Chicago (the location of the series) have call signs beginning with a W.note 
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Bud and Kelly, the Trope Codifiers if both aren't the outright Ur-Example.
  • House Amnesia: A three-part episode featured the Bundys (minus Buck) going to England. There, Al gets in a fight with a man named Igor and Kelly was heard telling Igor to get back to England.
  • Housewife: Definitely not Peg, though Al wants her to be one. Peg was brainwashed to be a competent housewife on a later season episode where Peg bumps her head on the coffee table and immediately loses her memory.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Everyone on the show, no matter how small the role, is an ass.
  • Humiliation Conga: Bud goes through an epic one in "Teacher's Pet". He dates two women at once, his teacher and a classmate, only to learn that she ran off with a football player and then the classmate dumps him for not bring able to hold onto the teacher. It only gets worse from there. After the substitute teacher comes in, a sweet grandmotherly figure, Al barges in, accuses her of sleeping with Bud and has her arrested. This only causes Bud to piss himself in reaction. He then leaves and Bud then gets up in front of the class and insists that Al wasn't his father, believes himself to be having a dream and pulls his pants down to his underwear to "embarrass" himself awake...only to forget he wasn't even wearing underwear. Al then comes back in, but sees the display and leaves without saying another word.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Only a Bundy can fuck with another Bundy and get away with it unscathed.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Al spends many episodes insulting females for being unattractive despite the fact that he's just as unattractive. Meanwhile, Peg and Marcy often insult men in general, and Al specifically, for only ever thinking about sex and attractive women, and then immediately start talking about their sexual fantasies.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: In the episode "Hot Off The Grill," Al makes his famous "Bundy Burgers" off the grill, with the specialty of using old ashes from previous grillings to give it flavor. Unknown to Al, Peg had knocked over his grill earlier and spilled all the old ashes, and send the kids into town to find more. Kelly ended up returning with the ashes of Marcy's recently deceased aunt, and when she figured this out thanks to Marcy mentioning the urn said ashes were in, quickly told the others except for Al and Marcy. Kelly, Bud, and Peg are shown doing anything they can to remove the burgers from their systems, while Steve, who hated Marcy's aunt, just grins widely and takes a huge bite from the burger. Al and Marcy also eat the burgers, completely oblivious.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Al, an ex-high school football star whose plans for fame were dashed with an injury and marriage to his then-girlfriend, after which he was forced to settle into a banal life as a wage-slave shoe salesman.
  • I'll Kill You!: In one episode, Bud wanted Kelly to become fat so she'd become the "before" model for a weight-loss ad. Enraged at what one of his attempts did, she threatened to kill him and later bury him alive.
  • Inconsistent Dub: The French dub changes Marcy's name to "Marie", but only for the first season. The other seasons revert her name to the original "Marcy".
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    Sexy New Neighbor: They say the husband will steal your paper, stalk your pets and eat your garbage.
    Al: [indignant] Hey, half a potato is not garbage!
    • In "Agony of DeFeet":
    Marcy: Why did it take me so long to realize when a simpleton like you knew what I had to do?
    Kelly: [gives an offended look]
    Marcy: I feel great. I feel renewed. I'm ready to fly. Yep, from this point on, Marcy Rhoades soars like an eagle. [goes back to sleep on the couch]
    Kelly: "Simpleton"? I know that means something bad.
    • Later in that same episode:
    Kelly: And [Marcy] calls me a simpleton. Tricking them was as easy as 1, 2, C! (walks into a cabinet)
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: A few times with Kelly, though she is justified in the second example, even though she is in the wrong on everything else.
    • In "Kelly Bounces Back" (Season 5, Episode 6, original airdate October 28, 1990), Kelly and Piper Bauman (Tia Carrere) are competing to be the model in a car commercial. They insult each other, leading to this trope.
    PIPER: Slut.
    KELLY: Skank.
    PIPER: Tramp.
    PIPER: That hurt.
    • In "The House That Peg Lost" (Season 3, Episode 16, original airdate, April 9, 1989), Kelly is having a slumber party with her girlfriends, which Bud ruins by revealing that Kelly slept with one of her friends' boyfriends, leading to a Catfight riot.
    TASHA: You're seeing my Greg?
    LAUREN: And Dan?
    KELLY: Well, I wasn't gonna keep 'em.
    LAUREN: Sow.
    TASHA: Trollop.
    LAUREN: Tramp.
    TASHA: Slut.
    LAUREN: Bundy!
  • Idiot Ball: The entire cast (Rhoadeses/D'Arcys inclusive) are frantically juggling a dozen or more in the wildest game of dysfunctional family and neighborhood circus you've ever seen in your current or any of your past or future lives. A shining example of this would be how the scam-savvy Bud and experienced con-artist Jefferson fell for an obvious scam in the ""Route 666" two-parter. Where a hillbilly who had previously scammed them conveniently has a gold mine to sell them and charges extra for the tools. Bud suspects it's a scam, but goes along when Peg recognizes a nugget he supposedly found there as gold. Jefferson, who just avoided another scam a few minutes prior, doesn't even consider the nugget might be gold-plated.
  • If I Do Not Return: This had been played with in "T*R*A*S*H":
    Griff: If I don't make it, would you look up my ex-wife and...
    Al: And tell her that you love her?
    Griff: No, tell her that she's a bitch!
  • Indecisive Parody: The "Ship of Passion" episode.
  • Indian Burial Ground: While it would explain a lot if the Bundys lived on an Indian burial ground, they actually live on an Indian garbage dump. The Bundy property was originally a landfill where the Native Americans threw their rotting moccasins.
  • Informed Ability:
    • Neatly averted in a third-season episode where Kelly is forced to join the school tap-dancing class, gets some extra coaching from neighbor Steve, and finally does an erotic dance with her would-be boyfriend. As Christina Applegate, David Garrison, and the actor who played the boyfriend were all trained dancers themselves, it wasn't much of a stretch for their characters to do it.
    • Played straight (most of the time) with Jefferson's CIA past. Despite various hints that he was an agent, he's never shown to live up to it. Except in one episode, where he meets with Fidel Castro.
  • Inner Thoughts, Outsider Puzzlement: In one episode Al threatened one of Kelly's boyfriends and insisted the guy not try to pull anything on his date with Kelly. All throughout the episode, the guy keeps consulting his shoulder angel and devil about what to do. Kelly notices and comments on his behavior.
    Kelly: If your shoulders are talking about me, I have a right to know.
  • Innocent Bigot: The D'Arcys, on occasion. In "Turning Japanese", they suck up to Marcy's Japanese boss by wearing kimonos, bowing, and playing karaoke. In "Enemies", they want to experience life in "the 'hood", so they go to a black guy's burger place, use black slang, and try to order dishes like collard greens and moon pies.
  • Innocent Innuendo: In one episode, Jefferson, Marcy, Kelly and Bud hear what sounds like Peg is playing with Al's junk, while in fact she was just fixing Al's neck tie.
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: Marcy and Steve. In one episode Marcy mentions they were busy that day and only had time for "a little three-hour love-fest."
  • Invisible Holes: In one episode, Al was rammed by a shopping cart with spikes on the front during a shopping contest. At the end of the episode he is sitting relaxing, and when he takes a drink he sprouts several leaks.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: A two-part Christmas Episode, where Al's guardian angel (played by Sam Kinison) shows Al's life if he were never born. Turns out that without Al, Peg is a competent housewife married to a rich man (played by the actor who would later play Marcy's husband, Jefferson), Bud respects women, and Kelly is college-bound, a published poet, and still a virgin. Al then elects to exist out of pure spite.
  • Jabba Table Manners: The Bundys are prone to eating with their mouths open, making groaning noises, and licking the plate, as we see in the Season 3 episode "Eatin' Out."
  • Jaded Washout: Former trope namer.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Marcy.
  • Jerkass Gods:
    • Al believes that God has it in for him, and it's strongly implied that this is true. When God comes up with a particularly cruel twist of fate, or an especially vicious insult apparently directed at Al, Al will occasionally sarcastically compliment God, or simply ask Him if He doesn't have anything else to do.
      Al: Death can't possibly be this busy!
    • A particularly noteworthy episode that could be taken as proof of divine beings toying with him — Kelly has a good-paying new job as the Verminator, Bud has moved into a fraternity, and Al has all attractive customers at the shoe store. To culminate, he has a very lucky night of poker and cleans out Jefferson's friends before they bet all their cars against his winnings, and Al gets four Aces and wins. Then the cops bust in, the cars are stolen, they arrest Al and take his winnings. Al, who has been smart enough to recognize his fall was inevitable, asks one of them to turn on the TV. The news report says the Verminator crashed her motorcycle during a stunt when a red-haired woman took her picture, and crashed into and destroyed a fraternity home.
      Reporter: At this time, no one is yet sure which fraternity was destroyed.
      Al: Oh, I'm sure.
    • And then just to Kick the Dog, as the police haul him out Al gets struck by lightning, and the news reporter says that the weather is sunny and clear except over one single house.
  • Jerk Jock: It's implied in several episodes that Al was one of these in high school before he married Peg.
  • Joker Jury: Al's shoe store is taken over by a group of overweight women who put him on 'trial' for all of the fat jokes he has made about them over the years.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: Many viewers wondered why Al didn't just kick Peg out, raise the kids without her poisonous influence, and have all the blonde floozies he wants. This is answered in a three-parter where they really do separate, but are shown to be in love with each other in their own twisted way. Earlier seasons also had more in the way of Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments to explain this.
  • Kangaroo Court:
    • Naturally, this happened to Al in an episode (on his birthday, no less, where, among other things, Peg promised she would not bother him for sex, and intended to keep that promise), where a group of overweight women took over his shoe store and put him on trial for him insulting them over the years. (In Clip Show format.) It got even more twisted when Peg showed up; at first she reluctantly admitted she sympathized with them (his fat jokes directed towards her mother had been kind of mean) but eventually, she started to find them just as bad as he did. While they found him guilty at first, Al got them to "pardon" him by confessing that he had a Freudian Excuse for insulting them, saying he was overweight as a child and had been teased just as much. After they left, he told Peg that he was lying about that to get rid of them. One good thing did come out of this; while Peg was still intent on keeping her promise, Al told her that after having to look at them all day, she didn't look all too bad right now, leading to a rare moment of intimacy between them. (Well, as best the show could do.)
    • This also happened to Buck after he passed away. He was put into a heavenly court to determine his fate, where he knew he was doomed because the judge was a cat and his defense attorney was a mouse who was quickly eaten by the cat. Buck is ultimately sentenced to be reincarnated as the Bundy's new dog, Lucky.
    • When the other NO MA'AM guys played a prank on Griff for his one-year anniversary of joining the group, they framed him as the "Chicago Cannibal." Griff was charged with over a hundred murders. When Griff said there wasn't any evidence, the DA replied "evidence, schmevidence!" In a trial that lasted eight minutes, Griff was tried, convicted, and sentenced to die in the electric chair. The Season 11 premiere reveals that the guys rescued him at the last minute. They would have gotten there sooner, but when they order a burger well-done it should actually be well-done!
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Peg. So, so much. Let us count the ways: she steals from Al, shops as if it's compulsive, was complicit in killing a fitness guru, engages in petty rivalries, lets her kids starve, and is just as mean spirited as the rest of the family, and yet she rarely sees any punishment. The only times she ever got punished for doing something bad was: (a) when Al finds out she's been selling make-up to herself and makes her get a job as a Burger Fool to pay off the damages, and (b) when Al psychologically tortures her with thoughts of being pregnant after telling her that she's pregnant, but they won't get any inheritance money as the lawyer who read the will married a Bundy male relative and had a baby. Also (c), when Al makes her do yardwork as Labor Day was celebrating average workers like him, and the sight of her actually working is a fetish for him, and she's exhausted from working so hard.
    • In "Poppy's by the Tree," the ax murderer is let off for one reason: he's "The Man Who Met Andy Griffith" and the town's only other claim to fame. When the townspeople find out he may not be able to speak at the high school after Al clocked him on the head, they were pretty much ready to lynch the Bundies.
  • Karmic Rape: Downplayed, after Heather McCoy tricks Bud into getting naked in front of the school, Kelly forcibly strips Heather naked, ties her up and exposes her to the school herself.
  • Kent Brockman News: Often used in the early episodes and when Miranda Veracruz de la Hoya Cardinal (the Latina news anchor) was introduced in the later episodes.
  • Kick the Dog: If something bad has happened to Al it will get worse. If he has a Pet the Dog moment, it will be undone tenfold in the last few seconds of the episode. Everyone from his family, friends, neighbors, city officials, and complete strangers delight in not only pushing him to the ground but grinding his face into the dirt to see if he can go further down.
  • Kinky Role-Playing: Marcy and Jefferson role-play so much, they start looking for weirder and weirder scenarios, eventually sneaking into Al and Peg's house while they were out of town and spending the weekend pretending to be them.
    Marcy: Who would've ever thought it would be fun to pretend to be them?
    Jefferson: I'm starting to understand why they're still together.
  • "Kiss the Cook" Apron: In the season four premiere "Hot off the Grill", Al Bundy wears an apron that reads "Kiss the Cook - Kill the Wife" while grilling at a Labor Day barbecue.
  • The Lad-ette: Marcy's sister Mandy.
  • Lampshade Hanging: A common complaint about the show was how strange it was that Al refuses to ever have sex with Peg when she's portrayed by the very attractive Katey Sagal. A later episode all about Al's aversion to sex with his wife has a scene where Al ogles a young, beautiful blonde woman whose husband is just as disinterested in her and is instead ogling Peg.
  • Large and in Charge: "The Hood, The Bud, and The Kelly" had the mob enforcer, Gino, who made sure the exercise video Bud produced with mob money was completed on time was portrayed by none other than the 6'8" Richard Moll.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Al was a Jerk Jock and the Big Man on Campus in high school. He thought School Is for Losers and that he was guaranteed to become a pro football star until he broke his leg and lost his football scholarship. Kelly was an Alpha Bitch who had the same attitude towards school, thinking that she was too pretty to ever have to work. Reality hit them both like a ton of bricks when they graduated and had no other real skills or education. Al became trapped in his Soul-Sucking Retail Job and lamented how he could have been somebody while Kelly was reduced to working as a waitress in a run-down diner and had a Z-list acting career.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness:
    • Something definitely changed during seasons 8 and 10, when Gary, Griff and NO MA'AM were introduced, Peg left and returned twice, and Bud and Kelly's relationship went from "quarrelling siblings" to "agent and actress".
    • In the final season only, episodes started with cold opens and ended with end tags, and the opening sequence was shortened by removing the famous "Al gives money to everyone, including the dog" scene. The final season also was the only one executive produced by neither of the show's two creators, and the show became a little tamer, but more absurdist to compensate.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • In "Bud on the Side", Al is trying to figure out what love and marriage go together like. Maybe if he listened to the theme song...
    • In "Get The Dodge Out Of Hell", upon Steve and Marcy encountering each other at a car wash, the former asks in regards to Jefferson, "So, where is the new, unimproved, unemployed me?"
  • Lethal Chef: Peg in the early episodes. In the later episodes, she didn't cook at all (except when Al used the money from the "No Chicken, No Check" insurance company to force Peg to buy meat, when Peg's insanely obese mom started making money as a phone sex operator, and when Peg suffered amnesia and Al brainwashed her into being a competent housewife). However, this habit of Peg's also resulted in a bit of good luck for the kids when her leftover Mystery Meal results in the band Anthrax being quarantined to the Bundy house for an entire month.
  • Let Me at Him!: A rare comedic example where Marcy is frequently having to be pulled off Al, usually as a result of him making fun of her figure or her feminist beliefs.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: You knew Al Bundy was going to start kicking ass when either he said "Let's rock", or when "Bad to the Bone" started playing.
    • It's implied that Al's high school football championship game was this. One of Al's reminisces had the coach being ready to throw in the towel over how badly Polk High was losing, only for Al to slap some sense into him and say that he was taking over. He then scored his four touchdowns to lead his team to a spectacular come-from-behind win.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Israeli adaptation. The characters extreme characterisation of later seasons was significantly toned down and Al and Peg (or Shuki and Mali) has a few Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Rumors abounded that David Faustino and Christina Applegate were an item. Faustino denied this, saying that Applegate was more like a sister to him.
  • Literal Metaphor: Al once made a Deal with the Devil and ended up Dragged Off to Hell. There, he commented it was hot as hell. He then realized why.
  • Little Girls Kick Shins: In a two-part episode, Al wouldn't allow a woman to breastfeed her baby in the shoe store. In retaliation, Marcy brings several women with babies to protest. He then recognizes one of them as Jefferson holding a doll. Enraged, Al took it from him and asked if he knew what Al intended to do with it. Then a little girl appeared and Jefferson suggested returning it to the little girl he took it from. Al did and got kicked for that.
  • Live-Action Cartoon: Essentially became this in later seasons, which is widely regarded as an improvement.
  • Long-Runners: 10 years (11 seasons) on the air made this FOX's longest-running live action scripted program, and their fifth-longest running show overall (behind some other very well-known shows).
  • Lovely Assistant: In an episode, where Al and Peggy compete in a game show:
    Host: Hello there, and welcome to How Do I Love Thee?! The game show that dares to ask; "How do I love thee?". For those of you who're totally ignorant of today's superstars, I'm Bink Winkleman. [one person applauds] Thank you! And here's our own little piece of fluff that the network thrust upon me, The Lovely Zelda. [great applause]
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Al falls in love with Jasmine, Peg's stripper alter-ego, not knowing who she really is.
  • Male Gaze: Played for Laughs when Kelly gets a job as a music video hottie, who keeps constantly messing up the takes. The director finally decides to go with her strengths...and have her just be chained to a fence while the camera focuses on her breasts.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Inverted with Al and Peg; she's the one who always wants sex, while he's usually sickened by the very thought.
  • Mars and Venus Gender Contrast: A driving force for both plot, dialogue and characterization.
  • Medium Awareness: In a Christmas episode, Al leaves to go to the bathroom because the tv he's watching went to a commercial break. He adds "... and I really hate this commercial" as the episode itself cuts to commercial.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: After Al forgets his wallet to pay for the family's expensive meal in "Eatin' Out", he explains to Peg that since they're unable to pay (and the kids, who were sent home to get the money, spent it on a concert and left them there), that he'll be beaten up and thrown into a dumpster while she'll just have to do dishes. The aspect of having to clean outrages her.
  • The Millstone: Peg.
  • Mind Your Step: The third step of the basement stairway is broken to the point of being a fall hazard.
  • Mirror Character: A theme in later seasons is that Al and Marcy, despite bordering on having a blood feud, are actually not that different from eachother. Both are the breadwinners of their respective households, both of them are married to a parasitic moneydrain, and both are often at the mercy of the whims of society.
  • Mis-blamed: In-universe, Al naturally gets blamed by the Bundys and D'Arcys when they find out they've been mining fool's gold in "Route 666". However, Peg and Jefferson were the ones who confirmed that Al's initial rock was real gold in the first place.
  • Misspelling Out Loud: On the episode 'Al Goes to the Dogs' (season 10 ep. 22), when Kelly gets caught making out with a man by her family on their front door, she gets startled and pushes him away:
    Kelly: God, do I have to spell it out for you? G-N-O spells 'no'!
  • A Mistake Is Born: In the Backstory Al & Peg got married because Al impregnated Peg with (what turned out to be) Kelly.
  • Mistaken for Quake: Peggy's unseen mother is so fat...(how fat is she?)...She's so fat that the earth quakes when she walks, making others think an earthquake is happening.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: One episode has Al the the NO MA'AM crew seeking out advice from a legendary badass who has become a hermit at the top of "the tallest mountain in Illinois."
    • In the season 5 episode, The Unnatural, a ball field is shown with the caption "Kankakee, 1991." Kankakee is a town in Illinois and there are clearly mountains in the background. It is surrounded by mostly flat plains in real life.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Jefferson is the only attractive guy in the series and knows it.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Besides the fanservice you get from Kelly, Peg, and, to a lesser extent, Marcy, the show regularly featured Playboy Playmates and Penthouse Pets as guest stars.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg:
    • Al would subject Marcy to this:
      Al: Ladies and Gentlemen... [nods] Marcy... I got my pie!
    • Would occasionally happen to Peg:
      Al: Hi Bud...hi Kelly...hi Couch Monster...
  • My Skull Runneth Over: The episode "Kelly Knows Something" featured a low-grade version of this, in that Kelly is capable of learning new things, but there is only so much room inside her brain, and for every new piece of info that finally gets pounded in, something else gets pushed out.note  The episode centers around training Kelly for a quiz show... and by the time Bud is done with her, she has forgotten what a doorbell is, and at the climax of the show, a short film overwrites the answer to the last question... which is about Al's Memetic Mutation accomplishment.
  • Mystery Episode: An episode saw perennial loser Al Bundy become mistaken for a famous detective as he's trying to earn extra money for the family. He winds up getting framed for the theft of a titanic diamond by a group of rich clients (and murdering their patriarch but that's not important) and goes on the lamb for a bit trying to clear his name. In the end, his intricate knowledge of cheap shoes allows him to finger the real culprit and be awarded a massive reward for recovering the diamond, as well as the fawning attention of an attractive heiress. Too bad it was All Just a Dream.

  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The guard dog at the shopping mall where Al works is named Satan.
  • National Stereotypes: To get a promotion at her banking job, Marcy once tried to suck up to her Japanese boss by playing up all kinds of absurd Japanese stereotypes. We hear the thoughts of the boss (played by Pat Morita, a.k.a. Mr. Myagi), and he's not impressed.
    Mr. Shimokawa: "How original! Serving sushi to a Japanese man in America. It's like Gilligan getting off the island and being offered a coconut!"
  • Naughty Nuns: A Running Gag in each season usually revolves around women who have had sex or constantly thought about it while already apart of a covenant. Being a Sadist Show with the moral of hypocrisy, this wasn't a big surprise.
  • Nausea Dissonance: In "Hot off the Grill", everyone at Al's cookout reacts with disgust when they learn that Kelly added the ashes of Marcy's dead aunt to Al's grill. Everyone, that is, except Steve, who hated said aunt...and starts grinning as he eats his "Bundy-burger" with even more enthusiasm.
  • Necktie Leash: Marcy once did this to Jefferson when they were role-playing as Al and Peggy.
  • Negative Continuity: The many stories of how Peg and Al got married. Was it a shotgun wedding orchestrated by Peg's redneck family or did Al get drunk one night and marry Peg at a wedding chapel, only to realize the mistake he made once the hangover hit him? The general consensus is that Al had too much to drink one night and proposed to Peg while under the influence. When he sobered up, he had a My God, What Have I Done? moment and tried to get out of it, but Peg's father forced him at gunpoint to follow through (or, according to one episode, drugged Al [Al tells Peg that if her father didn't lace his lemonade with vermouth, he'd still be single]) This timetable offers a fairly accurate picture of how it turned out.
    • There's also episodes that have ended with Al locked away in the Tower of London, rendered nearly a vegetable in from a wrestling match, and intentionally jumping from a plane with no parachute. Everything is as it was the next episode with each of these. instances.
  • Never My Fault: Most of Al's customers at the store are overweight women who seem to think they're much thinner than they actually are who insist on buying shoes that could never fit their feet. If the shoe doesn't fit then Al must be putting them on wrong. If they break then it's because they're cheap.
  • Never Trust a Hair Tonic:
    • In an early episode, Al and Steve freak out about their baldness and try an experimental "tonic" to reverse it. Not only does it not work, but Al's dog Buck takes to the stuff better than their hair did (they were actually using some kind of dog food in their hair, and the doctor who sold it to them was a quack).
    • In another episode, Kelly accidentally created a hair tonic named "Bleen", which worked but had the side-effect of having the male users want to have sex with their wives. The divorced Griff complained that the tonic made him pay the overdue alimony.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Al convinces a young sales associate to not get married by warning him of its many pitfalls. Unfortunately, he says all this before he meets the man's fiancee. When it turns out that she's terrific—loves to cook, loves to watch sports, works, and is genuinely nice and sweet—Al rushes to tell the young man that he made a mistake, only for the kid to tell him that he's already reconciled with his previous girlfriend—Meg, a carbon copy of Peg. Al can only watch in horror as he realizes that thanks to his interference, the guy has dumped a wonderful girl and will indeed have the same miserable life that he has.
  • No Accounting for Taste: On both ends of the main couple. Peg's a lazy, sarcastic millstone who always takes from Al and doesn't contribute anything on her end, while Al is a miserable sexist with repulsive personal hygiene in a dead-end job and clinging to his glory days as a football player.
  • No Can Opener: Bottle opener example. The Bundys get lost during a road trip and find a bar where the drinks are so cheap Al wonders how the owners make money until he learns how much the bottle opener rent is. The Darcys eventually find them and it seems they'll fall for the same con but Jefferson brought his own bottle opener.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: About the only thing the Bundys do well is fight. Whenever they get into a scuffle with another family, it's always a crowning moment of awesome. A running joke has Al frog-marching all of the beefy young studs that his daughter brings home and slamming them into the wall before tossing them out the door.
  • Noir Episode: "Al Bundy, Shoe Dick", where Al pretends to be a noirish private eye after getting a measly job working as the real detective's janitor and cleaning up his office. He is invited to a private party by a sultry dame who mistakes him for the real deal and where he has to solve an unexpected murder, and the Private Eye Monologueing is roundly spoofed. After solving the mystery it turns out it was All Just a Dream.
  • Nonconsensual Pornography: The Lost Episode "I'll See You in Court" has Peg and Al trying to spice up their marriage by having sex at a motel recommended to them by Steve and Marcy. While there, they watch a tape of Steve and Marcy having sex and it is later discovered that the Bundys were filmed having sex as well. Both couples take the matter to court.
  • Non-Residential Residence: In You Better Shop Around Part 1, Al moves his family into the local supermarket when their air conditioner breaks down during a hot summer.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • On a Season 3 episode where Kelly has a slumber party and the Rhoades lose their house, Al forbids Kelly to have a slumber party because the last time she had it, there were boys in the house, someone shaved Al's head in his sleep, and she was tried as an adult at the age of eight. There was no further information.
    • Al has been banned from the freeway, and he talks about it in season 3 like it's nothing new.
    • Kelly has a few, apparently on her dates. "That's the second time this week someone's chained me to a fence and wandered off."
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Cheating to win is a proud Bundy tradition. Al won a senior citizens' athletic contest by lying about his age to compete, Peg fixed the vote to win Reunion Queen at her high school reunion, Bud has won fights against bigger men by smashing them over the head with chairs or bottles, and Kelly won a boxing match for a movie role by stepping on her opponent's foot so she couldn't dodge and then punching her out.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: In order to escape being held hostage by fat women, Al cooks up a false traumatic childhood memory in which he, too, was overweight and knew the pain of being bullied for it (by his own parents, no less). This realization moves the women to let him go free.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Jefferson is a retired CIA agent. When Al initially finds this out, he's offered a large cash reward for information leading to Jefferson's capture. However, due to their being in the middle of a prank war, Al wasn't sure if was legit or not. At the end of the episode, Jefferson scares Al before playing it off as a large-scale hoax until we hear on the still-playing television that the man who'd offered the reward had just died while watching a baseball game. Never has someone blowing a noise-maker been so creepily funny.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: When the noise Al makes building Lucky's doghouse bothers Marcy, she bribes a city building inspector to harass Al and make him jump through a bunch of hoops to finally get the doghouse approved, including having plumbing and handicap access installed. On the other hand, Al got the last laugh when he used all the leftover cement he'd had to buy for the doghouse foundation and dumps it all over Marcy's Mercedes. On top of this, Kelly's Latin Lover wanted to spend some time impressing her father, so he was quite willing to pay for everything, plus a bit extra at Al's request.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: Al gets a couple of really blatant ones in "T*R*A*S*H."
  • Oh, Crap!: Used 3 times in a row in one scene of "The Worst Noel" with Bud as he and Kelly are trying to get a jukebox into their parents' bedroom as a present.
  • Off to See the Wizard: The Stinger for the Season 11 premier "Twisted" reveals that the tornado took Kelly and Lucky to Oz. The Wizard gave the Scarecrow a brain, the Tin Man a heart, and the Cowardly Lion courage... and Kelly a physical.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: One Season 8 episode features Al coming to the defense of an old classmate of his against Ray-Ray, a young gang leader who's making her life miserable. Al would tear Ray-Ray apart in a one-on-one-fight, but since Ray-Ray is a Dirty Coward he hides behind his goons and has them subject Al to repeated No Holds Barred Beatdowns from his thugs. Al later tries to even things by bringing his own gang but they flee after Ray-Ray calls for more goons. However, Al wins by Talking the Monster to Death with a monologue about how Al will keep coming back for more beatings until either he or Ray Ray drop dead, due to his age having set him in his ways so throughoughly he will NEVER give up, no matter how meaningless the fight really is.
  • Old Shame: An In-Universe example. Al's boss, Gary, considers that one time when she invested her money into one of Larry Stork's schemes, which lost all the money she put into it, as this. She continues to harbor grudges even when she's quite well-off and claims she would exact revenge should she see Larry again. Sure enough, Larry shows up at her shoe store a bare minute later, and Gary proves she meant business by punching his lights out (though she winces from the recoil afterwards).
  • Old-Timey Ankle Taboo: Al Bundy has an Imagine Spot where he's an old west cowboy and after stopping a hold up at a general store he asks for a nudie magazine called "Bare Ankle."
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted under the Planet of Steves example below.
  • Only One Finds It Fun:
    • "Dances with Weezie" has Jefferson cheer on Erik Estrada playing the role of Ralph the Doorman on The Jeffersons: Live show. When everyone else stares at him in confusion, he defends himself by saying, "He was Ponch!"
    • In "Ship Happens" whilst the gang is stranded in a lifeboat with Gilbert Gottfried, Jefferson's the only one who laughs at his prop comedy.
  • Only Sane Man: Compared to the rest of the cast, Griff seems to be the only character who is at least relatively grounded in reality. Before Griff, Steve was this, at least when he was a regular character.
  • Oscar Bait: Or in this case, Emmy Bait. One episode had Al panicking because he left something important in the trunk of his car, but he won't tell anyone exactly what. Peg laughs it off by saying it's his porn stash. However, at the end of the episode it's revealed it was a porn magazine, but more importantly, a picture of his family looking happy hidden in there. Cue subtitles that read: "For your Emmy considerations."
  • Out of Focus: Season 10 begins with Peg's mother moving into the Bundy house after Peg's father, Ephraim, breaks up with her. Early episodes involve the Bundys having to deal with her presence, but as the season progresses, she gets referred to less and less. After a while, Peg leaves to go on a worldwide search for Ephraim to make him take her back.note  Despite this, Peg's mother isn't even acknowledged as being in the house by the other Bundys. Finally, in the season finale, Peg returns with Ephraim to gather up his wife and bring her home.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: On the episode where Kelly and Jefferson raise money by pool-hustling, Al sells his blood to get in on the action. He later does it again to pay the water bill.
  • Overly Long Name: Local news reporter Miranda Veracruz de la Hoya Cardinal.
  • Out-Gambitted: Walter Trogget, one of Jefferson's old enemies from his days in the CIA, tries to get revenge on him through Al. Jefferson outmaneuvers Trogget by tricking Al into thinking that the whole thing is an April Fool's prank, after which he has Troggett killed.
  • Parallel Porn Titles: A good half-dozen in the subplot to the episode "Dial 'B' for Virgin" where Al and Peg go to a video store. Al's favorite is "Forrest Hump".
  • Parental Neglect: Al and Peg often take this to an extreme.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: Inverted. Al threatens to put his kids in the Bundy Will if they do something wrong, which means they would inherit all of Al's debts when he passes away. Needless to say, the kids react with horror when he makes this threat.
  • Pass the Popcorn: The reaction for the wives whenever their husbands attempt to Doom It Yourself. The episode "The Egg and I" features the entire Bundy clan gleefully watching Marcy, Steve and Jefferson fight next door, complete with binoculars, video camera and, yes, popcorn.
  • Performance Anxiety: Played with in one episode when Marcy is anxious about having to deliver bad news at a presentation to her bank executives. She sees a psychotherapist who conditions her to associate public speaking with sex. This not only relieves her performance anxiety, but causes her to have an orgasm during the presentation. She's soon in demand throughout Chicago as a speaker delivering bad news.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Despite always being desperate for cash, food or luxury, the Bundys never seem to actually run out of at least cash and food, and manage to live in the same house for the duration of their show. Justified by the Bundy Curse, which keeps them alive only to suffer.
    • Peggy's family consider Al a rich snob, because he makes minimum wage.
  • Pet Heir: In "Hot Off The Grill," Marcy was left with the "honor" of caring for her deceased aunt's ashes, who had left her entire fortune to her cats. Steve was not amused, but got revenge (See I Ate WHAT?! above).
  • Pet the Dog:
    • In one of his few moments of being a kind father to his son, Al rescued Bud from an absolutely pathetic party planned by his mother by taking him to the fabled nudie bar on his 18th birthday.
    • The titular character of Show Within a Show Psycho Dad murdered at least three wives, but he's described as a good father to his son.
  • Pick on Someone Your Own Size: A young Al becomes the enemy of a middle-aged librarian named Miss DeGroot.note  Thirty years later, the now elderly librarian still has a grudge against the now middle-aged Al.
  • The Picture Came with the Frame: In one episode, Al tells Kelly he always has a picture of her in his wallet. She says that's a stock photo that came with the wallet. Al claims he thought that was Kelly, but she yells that the girl is Chinese.
    Al: Why do you think I carry your baby picture in my wallet?
    Kelly: That's not me, Dad.
    Bud: That's the picture that came with the wallet!
    Al: Hey, when I bought this wallet I had a choice: a little boy, or a little girl. I picked the little girl. She's... symbolic.
    Kelly: She's Chinese, Dad!
    Al: That's what I was hoping you would be!
  • Plague of Good Fortune: The dreaded "Bundy Curse" brings bad luck to any Bundys who ever get lucky in anything.
  • Planet of Steves: Al begins working at a shoe store where his boss calls his foreign co-workers "the three Habibs". Al thinks the boss is being rude, but it turns out they're all named Habib.
  • Playboy Parody: "Big Uns", which Al keeps as a Porn Stash. Humorously, he also kept Playboy magazines dating back from before the 1970s.
  • Plumber's Crack: In "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun",note  Al hires a beautiful woman to fix the the fridge so he can ogle her butt as she bends over. When the fridge breaks down again, he is forced to hire an overweight man with prominent plumber's crack to do the same job.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The episodes "Top of the Heap" (where Al's high school friend and his dimwitted son try to fit in at a high-class party), "Radio Free Trumaine" (where Marcy protests in favor of two college radio DJs from Bud's school where Steve is the Dean Bitterman), and "Enemies" (where Kelly dates a delivery man with a bunch of petty, sarcastic friends). "Top Of The Heap" was the only attempt that got past the pilot, but only lasted 7 episodes.
  • Porn Stash: Al sure loves his Big 'Uns magazines. At one time, he even had a collection of Playboy's dating back before the '70s... which Peg sold. Bud loved Al's nudie magazines, too — and had his own collection.
  • Pose of Silence: Happened all the time, typically when the family was mocking Al in front of his back, so to speak. Given that it's Al being talked about, he might still be able to hear them. They just don't care.
  • Pottery Barn Poor: For as often as money troubles popped up for the Bundys, their house was certainly outfitted well.
  • Pretty Freeloaders: The rest of the family sponges off Al; rare male examples occur with Bud and Jefferson, who's married to Marcy.
  • Pretty in Mink:
    • When the Bundy's try to swipe some stuff at a relative's mansion, Kelly grabs a fur coat.
    • A dentist has to deal with his money-grubbing ex-wife and Gold Digger secretary he's dating, who just bought a blue fox coat, which was even more expensive than the fur she bought the day before.
  • Pro Wrestling Episode:
    • "Flight of the Bumblebee".
    • Another episode revolved around Al having to stay 3 minutes in the ring against a female wrestler. Unfortunately, said female wrestler had about 200 pounds on him.
  • Property Line: "How Green Was My Apple", where The Bundys and the D'Arcys wage war over an apple tree.
  • Put on a Bus: The second and third times Katey Sagal became pregnant, her character was written out of the show until she was ready to return to work (to avoid a repeat of the sad Real Life Writes the Plot incident). This trope also applied to Steve (who was written off as leaving Marcy so he can be a park ranger) when David Garrison left the show to return to theater.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: For the most part, even when Al wins, he loses.
    • "Born To Walk": Al, having lost his license, and sick of getting no help from his family when they cost him a chance to win money at a horse race, vows to never help his family again, nor for them to help him. The next day, he passes the driving test, but the instructor runs over his foot.
    • "Tooth or Consequences": Peg finally gives in to Al's demand and makes an amazing dinner for the family... Which Al can't eat because he had recently taken a trip to the dentist.
    • "Just Shoe It": Al gets to star in a shoe commercial, but it's just an excuse for him to get crushed by Ed "Too-Tall" Jones, beaned by a pitch by Steve Carlton, and knocked out by Sugar Ray Leonard. And then he doesn't even get to appear in the commercial, his feet only being shown getting knocked out of the shoes that were being advertised.
      Al: Hey! Hey! What happened to my face?!
      Peg: You inherited it from your father!
    • "A Shoe Room With a View": Thanks to Al's efforts, the aerobics studio next to the shoe store gets an attractive trainer, who brings many attractive clients with him. However, since he fell out of a window and was left in a wheelchair, he couldn't look through the holes that were drilled in the shoe store to ogle the attractive women, like his friends were.
  • Read the Freaking Manual: Al spent an entire episode trying to construct a carpentry workbench, but proves ridiculously inept at it as a result of his apparent inability to follow the instructions in the manual provided. In a Throw the Dog a Bone moment, Kelly not only fixes the bench and makes it look exactly like it should, she does so in seconds.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Steve is written out due to David Garrison becoming afraid of typecasting and dislking commuting to Los Angeles from his home in New York.
    • In Season 6, Katey Sagal got pregnant, resulting in Peggy doing the same. After Katey Sagal's miscarriage, it was made All Just a Dream out of sensitivity to the tragedy. Then when Katey Sagal got pregnant again, the pregnancy was covered up by having Peg either sitting at the kitchen table or off the show on her own storyline where she's living with her redneck parents in Wisconsin and ends up traveling the world to get her father back.
    • Also, Bud's "Grandmaster B" persona was created in response to a rapper phase David Faustino actually went through during the previous season. The writers found it so annoying that they paid him back by having him doing it on the show, even having him continue doing it after the retconning of Peggy's pregnancy as a dream, despite the fact that it began during it. (When Al tells Bud about the dream, he mentions the Grandmaster B persona, Bud gets the idea of doing it in "real life", and this plotline then continues.)
    • Buck was killed off and replaced by Lucky because the Briard playing Buck had gotten so arthritic that merely walking was extremely painful, not to mention that Briards are not known for their long lifespans. This is the reason why Buck is usually laying on the stairs and snarking at the family towards the end of his run.
  • Really Gets Around: Kelly. Peggy, to a lesser extent when she was in high school (on the Christmas episode with Sam Kinison as Al's guardian angel, after alternate-universe Peggy tells alternate-universe Kelly that she saved herself for marriage, Al scoffs, "Oh please! The basketball team had to retire her jersey!"). Kelly's friend Fawn trumps both of them as she can barely handle 15 minutes without sex and even slept with every guy in her high school class in the same night.
  • Reincarnation: Buck the dog is reincarnated as their second dog, he is not happy about it.
  • Rejecting the Consolation Prize: In the final Christmas Episode, Marcy spends an exorbitant amount of money on a life-sized nativity scene to win a neighborhood Christmas display contest. Whilst she was initially declared the winner, the judges then spot Peg's gingerbread display of the neighborhood and award her the trophy and $100 instead. When Marcy was given a fruitcake as a second place prize, she barks back "Shove the fruitcake, you bitch!", knocks over one of her wisemen statues, and storms off.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: Frank Sinatra's "Love and Marriage" was used as the show's opening theme, but when it came to the original DVD release, the rights to the song expired and a generic electronic music piece was put in as a replacement. Mill Creek Entertainment renewed the rights and restored the opening for their releases of it.
  • Retargeted Lust: At various times Al, turned on by other women, initiates sex with Peggy (something he normally detests). In the episode, "Live Nude Peg", the "other woman" is actually Peggy, who performs a striptease in Al's favorite strip club wearing a veil.
  • Retcon: In an early episode, Al mentions his boss Gary (who he never met before) was in a plane crash and presumed dead, but he survived. In a later season. Gary was a woman.
  • Retired Badass: Jefferson, of all people. One episode involved him rappelling down into Fidel Castro's office and holding him at knifepoint - only it turned out he and Fidel were old friends from Jefferson's CIA days.
  • Reveal Shot: One episode begins with Al telling someone he's tired of seeing that someone lazing at the couch. While long-time viewers of the series would at first assume he's talking to Peggy, it's revealed that he's talking to his neighbor Jefferson, who complains that his wife won't allow him back home until he gets a job.
  • Ridiculously Long Phone Hold: The sideplot of one episode concerns Al on the phone with an auto parts store, in one case being one one phone call for days as the answering machine lists the various For Inconvenience, Press "1" options.
  • "Risky Business" Dance: In "Breaking up is Easy to Do, Part 2".
  • Running Gag: Several, usually involving Al:
    • That he's lousy in bed.
    • His notorious foot odor.
    • That he spends much of his time in the bathroom and that he overflows the toilet (which he's done in an upscale restaurant, a fast food restaurant and on an airplane).
    • His hatred of his job and the customers.
    • His bragging about football career in high school (especially once the "scored four touchdowns in a single game" line became commonplace).
    • His traded barbs with Peg and/or Marcy.
    • Him digging in his ear (and occasionally "sharing" what he found with Peg in hopes of impressing her).
    • Him getting hurt in some way.
    • The mispronunciation/misspelling of his last name by others (or rarely, his first).
  • Sabotutor: In "Guys and Dolls", Bud tricks Kelly (twice) into letting him help her with book reports for books she didn't bother to read. The first time, she reports on Robinson Crusoe while explaining the plot to Gilligan's Island. When Bud offers to help her a second time, he feeds her The Addams Family plot details for her report on the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Sadist Show: Everyone on the show (women included — except for the fanservice extras) was abused, manipulated, used, and screwed over in some way, shape, or form (all Played for Laughs).
  • Sadistic Game Show: How Do I Love Thee? from Season 2's "Just Married... With Children".
  • Sanity Slippage: In "Peggy Turns 300," Al Bundy begins losing it as his wife gets ever closer to bowling a perfect game and beating the record he just set, and when she succeeds at it, Al's mind snaps completely and he's later seen sitting on the couch in front of the blank TV, imagining seeing himself on it as a winner.
  • School Is for Losers: Heavily subverted. Al and Kelly both believe in this trope, and Al mocks Bud for taking his studies seriously. Al was sure he'd be a pro football star, while Kelly thought she was too pretty to ever have to work, and neither of them bothered to get much of an education. When Al lost his scholarship and his chance to play football, he didn't have any other skills and was trapped in his Soul-Sucking Retail Job. Kelly got a chance to be a weathergirl for a TV station, a job that paid $250,000 a year, but she was immediately fired when she was too stupid to read the teleprompter. Various episodes also showed the nerds who worked hard in school ending up rich and successful, while jocks like Al grew up to be losers pining for their Glory Days.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Al, of course. How the mighty have fallen...
  • Screw Destiny: In "The Gipsy Cried," a fortune teller the Rhoades hired as entertainment for their party predicts that Al, Peggy, and Steve will have good fortunes, but Marcie will go down in flames. After the former three get some good luck go their way, Marcie is assigned to accompany her boss to New York City, so she insists Steve, Al, and Peggy accompany her to make sure everything goes okay. Her boss, accompanied by his mistress, berates her and orders her aroud, and when the plane they're on hits some turbulence, Marcie decides she's had enough, tells off her boss, and punches him out. As the plane levels out, having come out of the turbulence, Marcie realises that the "going down in flames" prediction meant that she would get fired. However, Steve tells her that if anything, she will leave this experience unscathed and with a genourous rise, all she has to do tell her boss she won't say anything to his wife about his lover, and suddenly Marcie feels much better about her future.
  • Screw the Electric Bill: Lampshaded when Al asked his family why they need to have all the lights on.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!:
    Jefferson: We beautiful people should be above the law. We should have special parking spots! With a smiley on them, because we make people happy!
  • Secret Underground Passage: Al and Jefferson built a tunnel in Al's basement only to be used in case of emergency... which leads straight into the Nudie Bar.
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage:
    • Even though Al is very unhappy in his marriage, leers at every attractive woman he sees, regularly reads female nudie magazines and goes to female strip clubs, when he gets an actual chance to cheat on his wife, he always stays faithful.
    • Peggy isn't any happier in the marriage, and leers at attractive men, reads male nudie magazines and goes to male strip clubs as much as Al, but she's always as faithful to Al as he is to her.
  • Self-Made Man: Stymie Bundy. Al credits Stymie's success to the fact Stymie never got married.
  • Serial Escalation: The episode "How Green Was My Apple" has a battle between the Bundys and the D'arcys over possession of an apple tree become a dispute over the property line, which escalates to both sides causing massive property damage, including destroying one another's houses, until they finally call a truce. Then another apple falls from the tree...
  • Self-Deprecation: "Kelly's Gotta Habit" opens with Al and Jefferson watching TV. All of a sudden, this show's theme song can be heard.
    Jefferson: Do you believe that show is still on the air?
    Al: It's a classic. I love it... except for the stupid neighbors.
    Jefferson: Yeah.
  • Serial Homewrecker: Several episodes allude to the fact that Kelly sleeps around so much that ending a marriage is not a big deal for her. Her three closest friends, introduced in the later seasons, also have no qualms about sleeping with married men, or stealing boyfriends.
  • Sexiness Score: In "I Who Have Nothing", while trying to make Jefferson jealous, Marcy describes how she once used a private detective to find an ex-boyfriend who was a "perfect 10".
  • Sex Sells: Al explains the finer points to Marcy.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The episode "Nooner or Later" comes to mind. It had three separate plots: Peg trying to get Al to do something (sing to her on the air, come home and have sex with her without telling him it's for a contest, etc.) so she can win a radio contest, Al training a new employee, Dexter, and Bud and Kelly waiting in line for days for tickets to a rock concert. In the end, none of these plots had any real resolutions; Bud and Kelly never get the tickets due to letting others steal or trick them out of their place in line, Peg doesn't win any of her desired prizes (dinner at a fancy restaurant and a trip to Tahiti) and Dexter, who unintentionally caused Peg to lose the contest by telling Al what a nooner is,note  only appears in this episode and is eventually replaced by the more popular Griff. In the end of the episode, however, Al and Peg receive a consolation prize: tickets to the band that the kids wanted to see, Burned Beyond Recognition. Al dismissed the band earlier in the episode for their name and their lead singer's disgusting behavior he vomits and urinates on the fans and swings hammers in concert, knocking their teeth out. Yet, he's happy to take a confused and ambivalent Peg, in the hopes that the latter can happen to her. Happy ending?
  • Shoot the Television: One early episode had Al, who had bought a gun to protect the family from a burglar on the loose, taking potshots at the television while watching Donahue.
  • Short Teens, Tall Adults: Unintentionally played straight with, David Faustino, who plays the youngest member of the Bundy clan starting at 13, yet remained the shortest even after he finished growing.
  • Shotgun Wedding: An unusual variation in that Peg wasn't actually pregnant with Kelly at the time, but rather that Al had too much to drink one night and proposed to Peg while he was loaded. (The three-part episode where the Bundys briefly separate was originally pitched with the plot point that Al only proposed to Peggy because he thought she was pregnant with Kelly and the the dramatic reveal during therapy that Peggy tricked Al into marriage by claiming to be pregnant and actually conceiving their daughter on the honeymoon.) After he sobered up he tried to get out of his proposal and haul ass, but then Peg's father invoked this trope to make him follow through on it. Peggy's father brings the shotgun to the couple's ceremony to renew their wedding vows to make sure Al doesn't back out of that as well—and informs him that "this time, it's loaded". Al's shocked realization that it wasn't loaded the first time and that he could have gotten out of the marriage is priceless.
  • Shot in the Ass: Al suffered from this when Kelly was practicing archery.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A toilet gag, to All in the Family.
    • Also numerous references to other TV shows that were on at the time. In one episode, Al criticizes Friends, only for Bud to find him watching it later; Al's excuse is that if you turn the sound off and watch with binoculars, you can tell that Rachel isn't wearing a bra.
    • Stymie Bundy was named after a Little Rascal. Matthew "Stymie" Beard, to be exact. Al once called him "Uncle Buckwheat" (Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas) and Kelly once called him "Uncle Spanky" (George "Spanky" McFarland). The three of them were from the Roach talkie period.
    • An episode of Futurama has Katey Sagal's character Leela devolve into a one eyed Peggy Expy about to be married to an alien named Alkezar (Who insists she call him "Al").
    • The episode "Wabbit Season" contains numerous ones to Bugs Bunny starting with the title. Al repeats Elmer Fudd's classic "hunting wabbits" line. Kelly states that she's been watching documentaries about rabbits, but she is clearly describing gags in Bugs Bunny shorts. It ends with Peg saying "That's Al, folks".
    • Kelly and Bud are trying to sneak a jukebox in the house for Al and Peggy's Christmas. When Kelly suggests Bud carry it upstairs:
    Bud: Sure, Kel. But first, let me eats me spinach.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: The creators of the show were all fans of Professional Wrestling, and chose the surname "Bundy" as an homage to legendary Heel King Kong Bundy (who appeared on the show as one of Peggy's relatives, and as himself in the episode where Bud needs a picture of himself with King Kong to get into NO MA'AM) and the Rhoades were named after "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. Unfortunately, many people who weren't wrestling fans misinterpreted the Shout-Out to King Kong Bundy and thought the creators named the family after Serial Killer Ted Bundy. Lampshaded when the kids are thinking about changing their last name, and candidates include Manson and Berkowitz. And Berkowitz would be a character portrayed by the actor known as "Psycho Dad".
  • The Show Goes Hollywood: The multi-part episode "Kelly Does Hollywood".
  • Show Within a Show: Al's favorite was Psycho Dad, a Western (apparently) series about a father who went insane and visited horrible, violent retribution on everyone around him. For some reason, the lyrics to the Psycho Dad theme song changed every time it was viewed. Also, in one episode, Peg watched Psycho Mom, possibly a Spin-Off.
  • Sick Episode: The episode "Al... With Kelly" is about Al taking care of Kelly when she has a cold.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Happens when someone is injured. One example: in "The Movie Show," Al has had his head squashed down on his shoulders and Peggy yanks it back into position.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Marcy and Al. This seems to have extended to real life as well; Ed O'Neil and Amanda Bearse reportedly did not get along very well, to the point that he wasn't even invited to her wedding.
  • Situational Sexuality: Played for Laughs in one episode, after Al gets Griff out of death row, they share this dialougue:
    Al: Oh come one, you're still not mad about being in jail are you?
    Griff: You sent me to the chair Al.
    Al: Ah, it wasn't that bad, didn't you always say you wanted to get married again?
    Griff: But not to a 300 pound Filipino!
    Al: At least you got a cool nickname, "Black Beauty."
  • Slapstick:
    • Peg's had both Al and a fat woman fall and land on top of her and been spun around on a game show wheel;
    • Kelly's been bitten by poisonous insects, hit in the head with a frisbee and rollerskated into a door;
    • Marcy's been run over with a shopping cart and bitten by a poisonous rodent that turned her into a hunchback;
    • All three of them have been electrocuted and fallen down the basement stairs;
    • Peggy would beat up the mother of whatever family was unlucky enough to get into a brawl with the Bundys, and also clobbered her old rival June Morgan for trying to steal Al;
    • Kelly would beat up the daughter of the families that got into brawls with the Bundys, and beat up her rival model Piper Bauman for stealing her "Bundy Bounce" modelling technique;
    • Marcy shoved over a whole row of women who wanted to give Jefferson a "spanking conga" when he got a job as an aerobics instructor.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Might have been the most cynical family sitcom of its time. However, it wasn't completely mean spirited as deep down the love was still there.
  • The Smart Guy: Bud... usually.
  • Smokestack Drop: In "The Mystery of Skull Island", Bud is plummeting to his death over Lake Michigan after being abandoned by his skydiving instructor. His panicked voice comes over the radio saying "Uh, listen I seem to be heading towards the smokestack of a tugboat. Could use some last minute advice. Over!" Exactly what happens to him after that isn't specified, but it involved mouth-to-mouth from a drunken tugboat skipper.
  • Snowball Lie: In "I Want My Psycho Dad", Al and the rest of NO MA'AM plan on protesting the cancellation of "Psycho Dad", Al starts off with a very simple lie - he and Jefferson are going fishing. Jefferson, unfortunately, shows up ready for their hunting trip. After conceiving a plausible lie to include that, more of Al's friends show up in increasingly outlandish attire, ending with Officer Dan wearing leathers and a headdress. Peg simply nods in acceptance and, once they're out the door, calls Marcy to let her know that they've gone off to protest Psycho Dad's cancellation.
    Al: So you see, Peg, after Jefferson gets the deer bait, Griff has to ski it down to the lake where Ike has set up camp. And Bob Rooney scuba dives it into the lake to see which fish are the hungriest, telling Officer Dan so he in turn can smoke signal the information back to me so I can ice fish with utmost confidence.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Based on the descriptions that the Bundy children give of their childhoods, it's a miracle that Peggy wasn't arrested for neglect. Not that Al does much either, but at least he has the excuse of being at the shoe store all day...
  • Sold His Soul for a Donut: In "Damn Bundys", the Devil appears, wanting Al's soul. Al immediately runs up to him and says "Deal!", offering his soul for nothing. The Devil remarks that "Tom Arnold put up more of a fight." Averted when Al makes a legitimate deal: His soul in exchange for playing for the Chicago Bears and leading them to a Super Bowl.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein:
    • Season 3's "The Gypsy Cried" has a small example of this, where Al and Peg are singing Sonny and Cher's "I've Got You, Babe", but are too drunk to remember the words, so they just go "I've got you, la la la la..."
    • An entire episode (season 5's "Oldies But Young 'Uns") involves Al's attempt to identify a song for which he only remembers one word of one line: "…mm mm him." It turns out to be Arthur Alexander's "Anna (Go to Him)".
    • Played for Laughs in the Season 7 Episode "Rock of Ages," where a bunch of old rock stars (and Al Bundy, who is pretending to be one) sing a song called "We Are the Old." It ends with "So write a check for our December. There's one more verse, but we can't remember." And then it ends with all of them singing "La la la laaa" repeatedly with the song melody.
  • So Proud of You: Al and Peg have both expressed this to the kids whenever they do something particularly underhanded. Al has expressed his pride in Bud when Bud beat up bigger guys in a bar fight by hitting them with weapons or trapped and tortured him in the basement because he got mad at Al for refusing to repair Bud's room. When Peg was blackmailed by Bud and Kelly into sharing the money she would have gotten by selling the engine of Al's Dodge, she's shocked that they'd resort to doing something like that...and then gushes at how proud she is of them for doing so.
  • Soul-Sucking Retail Job: Al's job as a shoe salesman. He gets no respect, has to put up with fat women who insist they're a "size four," and makes less than minimum wage. (Gary, his boss, has remarked that she hasn't fired Al because he'd make more from unemployment.) An episode of Family Feud that Al watched as a Show Within a Show mentioned that, when the producers polled 100 homeless people, the job they'd least want to have if the government forced them to work would be selling shoes.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The show loved using soundtracks that comically clashed with what was going on in the scene. An example would be the playing female empowerment "Sisters Are Doin' Things For Themselves" as she's messing up every order on the first day of her new waitress gig.
  • Spanner in the Works: For rather obvious reasons, Kelly had a tendency to screw up whatever scheme she became involved in. It's even lampshaded by Peggy at one point as the Bundys and the D'Arcys are being arrested by the police, when she notes that it probably wasn't a good idea to let Kelly in on the plan.
  • Speed Sex: Al is constantly mocked for his performance in bed. On of Peg's many insults: "I used to call you The Minute Man. Now I long for those days." Played with as part of the gag that he doesn't want to do it with her. On more then one occasion it's shown that when he wants to, he can satisfy her.
    • From another episode:
    Jefferson: Uh, my name is Jefferson. And I'm your husband now, and by the way, we are not in bed so there's no excuse for calling me Steve. He is your ex-husband.
    Marcy: Oh, don't take it personally. Every woman scream out "Steve" during sex. Don't they, Peggy?
    Peggy: Not me. It's too long a name.
  • Spinning Paper: During the baseball strike in 1994, one spinning headline reads, "Baseball Player Spinning Papers," before showing someone (the baseball player) doing just that.
  • Spin-Off: Season 5 had a few episodes created specifically to set up the short-lived spinoff Top of the Heap, whose cast included Matt LeBlanc and Joey Lauren Adams. Top of the Heap curiously received a short-lived continuation of its own: Vinnie & Bobby. LeBlanc and Adams returned, though Vinnie's father was mysteriously gone.
  • Spiteful Will: In Stymie Bundy's will, he tells Al to take his hand off his pants, which he begrudgingly complies, expresses his hopes that Al rid himself of the redhead who kept stealing his wallet, and calls his relatives "vultures".
  • Stacy's Mom: inverted big time, Katey Sagal is actually a very beautiful woman but her attractiveness is deliberately downplayed as Peg Bundy is not supposed to be a desirable wife for Al.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike:
    • At one point Al is cursing people involved with communism. Castro, Khrushchev... Steve Allen. Why Steve Allen? He just doesn't like him. Later Fidel Castro shows, and he too starts cursing people... And Steve Allen. Why? He just doesn't like him.
    • Early on in the episode "Blond and Blonder", in anticipation for her fifth-year high school anniversary, Kelly mentions to her pals that she had written letters to a gal pal over the years, before showing said letters, all bundled together and unsent. When said gal pal shows up, she shows Kelly a bundle of letters she herself wrote without sending, and the two of them exchange their bundles of letters, much to Bud's bemusement.
  • Studio Audience: A particularly raucous example, especially as the show's plots became more and more absurd. Audience members could be heard gasping, guffawing, and muttering among themselves whenever they saw something particularly odd. One example is a scene where Al is considering eating a toothpaste sandwich and somebody can be heard clearly saying in a worried tone, "No Al, don't do it." This was taken to obnoxious levels in later seasons when a character would enter and be followed by several seconds of cheering. Multiply that by six human characters, Buck/Lucky, and an assortment of big name guest stars, and later season episodes had probably over a minute of characters entering, than waiting for the audience adulation to die down. Christina Applegate has said that some male members of the studio audience would wrap themselves around the gallery's railings and refuse to leave until she came out to see them.
  • Straw Feminist: Marcy is a proud feminist, but she only showed this side when she was around Al. Her constant bickering about women's rights eventually led him to start his own pro-male club called NO MA'AM. Later after being Flanderized she is shown to be a constant hypocrite regarding her beliefs, such as bad mouthing porn as a male fantasy, only for the clerk to come up to her and tell her the videos she requested earlier had come in. Not to mention chastising Al for objectifying women while being married to Jefferson, who's an obvious Spear Counterpart Trophy Wife.
  • Straw Hypocrite: As seen above, Marcy criticizes men for being shallow, violent, and perverted towards the opposite gender. However, she's very materialistic, Ax-Crazy, has a trophy husband she oppresses, and checks out other men in public.
  • Straw Misogynist:
    • Al himself, most likely since he despises his wife and his job serving obese women with attitude at the shoe store so much that he thinks women should be nothing more than stay-at-home mothers and sex objects.
    • Everyone in NO MA'AM, especially when they... kidnap Jerry Springer for calling out abusive men.
  • Strictly Formula: The show has a very predictable and consistent plot, especially if the episode is centered on Al. Most episodes open with Al coming home from work in a bad mood, complaining how lousy his day was, getting hounded by his kids for money, he asks Peg for dinner but doesn't get any and goes hungry, then tries to watch TV or go to bed but then one of these will occur:
    • Marcy barges into the house unannounced without so much as knocking the door, and asks Peg to make Al do something at his own expense both financially and physically. The episode involves Al trying to get rid of Marcy or undo something Marcy unloaded on him.
    • Al has a "Eureka!" Moment on how to get rich quick using less than legal tactics. Examples include frivolous lawsuits, scams, an unlicensed and mediocre hotline for shoe advice, fraud or just plain stealing without so much as a cover-up story.
    • Al (and occasionally Kelly and Bud) gets fed up with starving so they run around the house or all around town trying to find something to eat.
    • Al simply takes up a second job to supplement his meager income but the job is so awful he has to quit, or even gets fired for incompetence.
    • Al tries working with Steve (in later seasons Jefferson) into helping him generate some new income.
    • Al gets frustrated with his sex life and starts pursuing pornography or a strip club.
    • Al commits a Screw This, I'm Outta Here by having his family go on a vacation outside the house, which will draw the audience into a National Lampoon's Vacation-like episode.
    • Al pushes Kelly or Bud into making their own money. Many times, he'll try to reap the rewards if they do succeed in making money such as in "Raingirl".
  • Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks: In "Luck of the Bundys," Al watches a rap video channel that features songs such as "Pump That Rump," "Rump Shaker" and "Ghetto Booty."
  • Subverted Catchphrase: When Al comes home in "Luck Of The Bundys", he says Peg will never believe what happened to him today. Peg asks if "a fat woman came into the shoe store", but Al mentions that an attractive woman came into the shoe store. All his customers that day were attractive women, making him realize he was suffering a Plague of Good Fortune.
  • Suicide as Comedy: Used frequently by Al, who often wishes to die over his life circumstances (his dead end job, his marriage to Peg, etc.) and the knowledge that it will never get better. He even attempts it over trivial things, like avoiding an impending weekend-long fight between Peg and Marcy and the embarrassment over Peg fighting off a would-be attack of him twice.
  • Summation Gathering: Parodied, as with many other detective tropes, in the Noir Episode "Al Bundy, Shoe Dick". After Al has been framed for the murder of an old rich man, he gathers the man's family and ends up accusing all of them of being the real murderer. His reasoning is either non-existent or hilariously faulty (like accusing a man with two hook hands of holding the murder weapon, or a retarded man of being a criminal mastermind), until he does prove himself with a bit of deductive logic that the Femme Fatale did it.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Jefferson for Steve, and Lucky the dog for Buck; although Lucky could be actually a case of The Nth Doctor. When Buck died, he went to dog Heaven but was screwed by the Hanging Judge who happened to be a cat. He was punished by being reincarnated as the Bundy family's next dog.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: A few of Al's foes have expressed this, with varying degrees of sincerity. The most sincere might be when he finally settles things with his old high school rival Spare Tire. After the two recreate the football play that was the high point of their respective careers and Spare Tire is beaten, he admits Al won and shows admiration for the run Al did.

  • Take Our Word for It: Peg's mother is incredibly fat. Just don't expect to see her (except in the comics based on the series.)
  • Take That!:
    • "Oh, they're doing Full House in 3D." "Is the third dimension the funny one?"
      • In 1995, the show's taping locale moved from the Fox Television Centernote  to the Sony Pictures Studios, specifically the stage where Full House tapednote . Prior to taping the first episode in the new set, the cast and crew held an exorcism to rid it of the spirits of Full House.
    • "...And if the Bears lose to the Rams, they get thrown out of the league."
    • A lot of the early episodes make a lot of mentions of Joe Piscopo (started out on SNL's 1980-1981 season, but became popular when paired with Eddie Murphy — until Eddie Murphy left after Season 9 {1983-1984})
    • In part 1 of the 3-part "The England Show", Al takes his shoes off on the plane to England, making the passengers and Peg complain about the smell, prompting Al to say, "Hey, they show Dutch, and they think I stink?". Ed O'Neill was in that movie.
    • In the episode where Al and Peg visit a video store, the movie Dutch is shown with "Free" plastered over Ed O'Neill's face on the cover. Nobody takes it.
    • In the episode "Hi I.Q", Kelly is invited to an idiot party.note  Among the guests are a Los Angeles public school teacher and a network executive. The previous year's winner was then Vice President Dan Quayle.
    • Bud's "Grandmaster B" alter-ego came about because everyone became sick of David Faustino pestering them about his hip-hop ambitions and decided to incorporate that into his character but as pathetically as possible to show just how annoyed they were.
  • Take That, Audience!:
    • Al's lionizing of Psycho Dad was intended as a Take That! toward audience members who considered Al to be a hero by cherry-picking his good qualities while explaining away his bad ones. When the parody flew over everyone's heads, the writers had the star of Psycho Dad end the show because Al and No Ma'am's fandom disturbed him.
    • The show did something similar with Peg and her enjoyment of Psycho Mom as she somehow made it onto some TV's "best mom" lists.
  • Take a Third Option: When one of Al's classmates from high school asks him to deal with a young street punk named Ray-Ray who's been causing trouble for her restaurant, Al offers to "settle" things with the kid either in the restaurant, or out on the street. Ray-Ray replies by invoking this trope, giving a whistle to summon his gang to back him up. Cue the Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Talk Show Appearance:
    • The first episode that featured Al's famous "No Ma'am" group had them hijack The Jerry Springer Show due to him being known as "The Masculine Feminist". The irony is not lost on reruns of that episode.
    • In "Peggy Turns 300" Al, who lost his mind after Peg bested his bowling score, fantasizes he's watching a news report where he both saved a family of ten and their dog Winky from a house fire and a sports talk show with Roy Firestone where he's a popular football player in addition to being a bullfighter, a race car driver, an aviator and inventor of something called the seven-day underwear.
  • Team Hand-Stack: For whenever the "WHOA BUNDY!" battle cry was uttered, this was also done. It was the ex-Trope Namer.
  • Teens Are Monsters:
    • Bud and especially Kelly are frequently implied to commit various petty offenses, from vandalizing cemeteries to stealing from their neighbors. Kelly is also an Alpha Bitch who loves to bully less popular girls and make them cry.
    • Al and Peggy were just as bad, if not worse, in their own high school days. Al was implied to be a Jerk Jock and cruel bully. He and Peg also ruined their music teacher's life by faking a love note from her to the female gym teacher. The music teacher was fired two days before her retirement and her husband divorced her, leaving her penniless. Al and Peg still laugh about it.
  • Temporary Blindness: Al gets this from the shock of seeing Marcy naked, and (possibly worse) in the Season 2 episode "In the Family" when he goes to the toilet and unwittingly walks in on Peg's mother in the shower/bath.
  • Tempting Fate: In Al's defense, most of the women in the shoe store wouldn't be on the receiving end of his fat jokes if they weren't assuming or even insisting they were shoe sizes at least 2 sizes smaller than they actually are.
    • The NO MA'AM guys are upset about the 1995 baseball strike, and Al says they can play the game themselves at Wrigley Field. One of the other guys named Sticky isn't so sure:
    Sticky: What if they don't let us use Wrigley Field? It's private property.
    Al: Oh, come on! Who's going to stop a bunch of great American guys from playing the great American pasttime?
    (The scene immediately changes to show the NO MA'AM guys in a prison cell)
    Al: Well, except of course for the police...
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Peg often begs Al not to give away his own money on their children Kelly and Bud who keep hounding Al for money to go out and eat at restaurants. That way, Peg can hog all of Al's money for herself so she can keep shopping for luxuries (such as perfume, make-up, clothes, Bon Bons). Peg will even shoo away Kelly and Bud if they're beseeching Al for money because then she can have Al all to herself to beg him for money. In addition, despite Peg being a terrible, negligent and selfish mother to Kelly and Bud, she occasionally steps up and intervenes if Al himself is being a terrible father to them e.g. strangling Kelly in the neck or threatening to throw them out of the house to cut expenses in favor of affording his TV Guide subscription.
  • The Twelve Spoofs of Christmas:
    • Briefly mentioned in the Christmas Episode "It's a Bundyful Life" when the family (once again) snipe at Al for the usual happenings in their lives:
    Bud: Five bowls a-flushing?
    Peg: Four 'roids a-throbbin'?
    Kelly: Three nosehairs waving?
    Bud: Two children starving?
    Peg: (singing) One untouched wife?
    • Mentioned again in the following Christmas episode, titled "Christmas", where Al learns that the family ended up contributing money by getting several jobs for him, sung in the style of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and ending with "And one job Santa-ing at the mall!"
  • This Is My Side: In one episode, Al took a vacation without leaving home, by cordoning off the couch area, ignoring everything going on in the rest of the house, and faking it.
    Al: I'm sorry, the captain's turned on the "No Peg" sign.
  • This Loser Is You: It's "You Stink!" on the show, but the sentiment is still there.
  • Throwback Threads: Al Bundy often dons his Polk High football jersey whenever he faces some athletic challenge.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: On a few very rare occasions, things worked out for Al, usually at some other character's expense.
  • Title Drop:
    • Al does this in one episode while reflecting on a string of odd recent success, as well as in a poem in one of the Christmas episodes.
    • Also in the episode "Al Loses His Cherry", where he goes to Luke's apartment, and a beautiful stewardess offers Al sex.
    • In the second season episode "Born to Walk" Al loses his driver's licence and needs one of the family members to drive him to the racetrack. When Steve comes in to find Al listening to the race on the radio he asks "Why aren't you at the racetrack, Al?", to which Al responds "Because I'm married...with children!".
  • Took a Level in Dumbass:
    • Kelly had perhaps the most extreme version of this trope ever. It is actually possible to pinpoint the exact moment she went from merely Book Dumb to an outright idiot. Oddly enough, this is when the show also started Growing the Beard.
    • Downplayed with Bud. He is still seen as being rather streetwise and book-smart, even being the first Bundy to graduate college. However, when it came to his approach of women or even in defending himself against Kelly, who in the early seasons he was at equal wits with and was more likely to get in some pretty good zingers on her, the persona of his quickly lost the "cool" part as the years went on.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Marcy became worse as the series went on.
  • Top Ten List: When Jefferson becomes popular with women because of his appearances in "Romantic Roast" commercials, Marcy is scared he'll leave her for a fan. Al decides to give her a top 10 list on ways to be more attractive for her husband.
    10. Wear traditional Islamic garb covering all but the eyes.
    9. Feather removing electrolysis.
    8. Ski mask.
    7. Sew up holes in ski mask.
    6. Hire attractive woman to stand in front of you at all times.
    5. Beak job.
    4. Put paper bag over ski mask.
    3. Shave head, tattoo Cindy Crawford's face on back of head, and learn to walk backwards.
    2. Poke out eyes of every man on Earth.
    1. Get President to make every day Halloween.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: When the family's new air conditioner shorts out the neighborhood power grid, Al expresses relief that at least no one knows that it's the Bundys' fault. Unfortunately, the neighbors all correctly guess that the Bundys are responsible and form an angry mob that tries to storm the Bundy house. Kelly even lampshades it when she wonders where the neighbors got the torches and pitchforks so quickly, implying that they've been waiting for an excuse to go after the Bundys anyway.
  • Tranquil Fury: One of Al's best moments in the show was when he tries to take his family on a Labor Day vacation only to get stuck in gridlock traffic. When he tries to lighten the mood with a sing-a-long, he's so offkey and loud that a fellow would be vacationer yells at him to shut up. When Al doesn't, the guy tells him he'll be gumming the words. Al then calmly tells Peg to take the wheel, calmly gets out of the car, calmly walks around to the guy (who is also out of the car at this point), and calmly begins strangling the life out of him.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Several, including German (Hilfe, meine Familie spinnt), Russian (Sсhastlivy Vmeste) and British (Married For Life) versions. It was also remade in Israel and Argentina.
  • T-Word Euphemism: Parodied. When Steve returns and tells the Bundys he's back to get Marcy back. Wanting to have fun, they don't tell him Marcy already has a new husband. When Steve later asks the Bundys why they didn't tell him Marcy's married again, Peggy says they don't like to use the "M" word in front of the children.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Marcy's niece Amber comes to stay with the D'Arcys for a few weeks, and Bud suffers a Freak Out when he sees a photo of her when she was 13. When Bud meets her in person, it turns out that she's now 19 and puberty has been very kind to her.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Al and Peggy (though he'd disagree). One episode had Peg in disguise as "Jasmine", a belly dancer at a strip club Al was spending time at. Al said she was out of his league, and she probably lived with "some loser who didn't appreciate her". When she came on to him, he rebuffed her, saying he was married, and tried to leave. Then she revealed herself, and he said that she couldn't be Jasmine, because Jasmine was a beautiful, alluring woman, and she was just "a wife!".note  Also Gender Flipped by Jefferson and Marcy.
  • Ultimate Job Security:
    • The way Al insults the fat women who come into the shoe store would have gotten him fired many times over in real life, but he manages to keep his job anyway. It's probable that it's because Gary (the store's owner) can't find anyone else desperate enough to work there... besides Griff, anyway. Although Gary claims that the reason she won't fire him is because he would "make more money on unemployment".
    • Subverted in another episode when Kelly is unhappy that the company she works for is making her wear a bikini in the next "Verminator" ad campaign. Jefferson advises her to refuse to do it and demand better treatment, since as the "Verminator" she holds all the cards. Kelly follows Jefferson's advice and is immediately fired. It's even lampshaded by Marcy:
      Marcy: You dispensed job advice to her? You, who thinks a W-2 is a bingo number?
      Jefferson: I know it's not a bingo number! It's... that stuff you spray on squeaky hinges, right?
  • Umpteenth Customer: In "You Better Shop Around" parts 1 and 2, the Bundys cut in line ahead of the D'Arcys at the supermarket and are declared the millionth customers who get a one thousand dollar shopping spree. Marcy protests, so they have a competition to see which family will be the only winners.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Al's whole family, especially Peg.
  • Unknowingly Possessing Stolen Goods: In "Have You Driven a Ford Lately", Al and Steve buy a junky car from Kelly's date, with the date being unaware that it's actually a 1966 Ford Mustang. Al and Steve work and repair it so they can restore it to its original glory. In the end, they lose the car because it turned out to be stolen and gets impounded, though Al and Steve don't suffer any legal ramifications. Although Al ends up getting hurt after he tried to pick a fight with the cop.
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: Al might not necessarily mind the fat women that he deals with at the shoe store, if they didn't always insist their feet were six sizes smaller than they really were, treated him like garbage, and were generally rude and obnoxious.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Al. Although all of the Bundys are rude, unpleasant and oafish, none are as callous or uncaring as Al. Of course, put yourself in his shoes and see just how nice you are to your annoying neighbors, your nagging wife, your floozy daughter, your perverted son, your redneck in-laws and all the fat women who insist they're a size five and won't take 'no' for an answer. Anyone who ever worked on a shoe or clothes shop for any amount of time can say that that situation is not only more common than we think, but it does have similar effects on our moods.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Al is not the slightest bit surprised by the fact Charlene Tilton is in his house trying to sell a Abdominzier exercise machine.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Jefferson and Walter Troggett each try to use Al as a pawn in their attempts to do each other in. Jefferson wins.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Jefferson believes that he should live in a one-income household because he's "too pretty to work", and he rebuffs almost all of his wife Marcy's attempts to make him get a job. On the rare occasions when he actually gets one, Marcy usually forces him to quit since he gets a lot of attention from other women.
  • Vacation Episode: There were three episodes (actually, a three-part episode) in England (ironically, the series wasn't running on British TV at the time), and a two-parter in picturesque Dumpwater, Florida.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment:
    • Parodied in one episode when Marcy, notorious for her flat chest, attempts this trick—and the object falls through her shirt and onto the floor.
    • Played straight with Peg, who should be the poster woman for this trope. (She even does it in the opening credits.)
    • Played straight in another episode where Kelly cheats at cards by hiding extra ones in her bra strap.
  • Villain Protagonist: Everyone on the show qualifies as this.
  • The Voice: Peg's mother. The reason is that Divine, who was meant to play Peg's mother, died before the show began filming. Out of respect, the producers decided not to cast the role. When she is voiced in later seasons, though, it does sound a bit like an imitation of Divine...
  • Wacky Frat Boy Hijinks: Bud gets into the fraternity Gamma Gamma Sigma Pi.
  • Waiting Skeleton: In one episode, the Bundys get four standby tickets for a plane trip. The airport's standby section has a skeleton with a newspaper. The headline reads "Roosevelt Promises New Deal".
  • Wedding Episode: "How To Marry A Moron: Part 2" featured the marriage of Kelly Bundy to Lonnie Tot (whom she'd met in the previous episode) as its main plot point. The Bundys, ever the social climbers, are very excited at the prospect of becoming part of the ridiculously wealthy Tot family, and Al even makes plans to marry Bud off to Lonnie's more homely sister (much to the guy's chagrin). Unfortunately the whole thing falls apart when Lonnie reveals that monogamy doesn't actually fit into the Tots' definition of marriage when he hits on Marcy Darcy. Naturally this offends one of the few morals Al and Peg hold and they call off the wedding (though Bud is still free to marry the sister if he so chooses).
  • Wedding Finale: The final episode, two parter, "How to Marry A Moron", involved a wedding between Kelly and Lonnie, a former ex-con who's likewise the son of the makers of Weenie Tots, meaning he's rich. Al initially approves but ultimately calls it off when Lonnie appears unfaithful.
  • Wham Episode: The "Breaking Up Is Easy To Do" 3-parter.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: This is how Marcy ends up meeting and getting married to Jefferson.
    Marcy: It's just that I can hardly believe that I'm now mrs... Darling. What's your last name?
    Jefferson D'Arcy
    Marcy Marcy D'Arcy... I'm now MARCY D'ARCY! What have I've done???
  • What Are You in For?: At the end of the England episodes, Al is tossed in a dungeon for stealing a hotel towel. He swaps stories with his gray-bearded cellmate, who got nailed for stealing an ashtray.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: There seems to be a lot of employee turnover at Gary's Shoes and Accessories for Today's Woman.
    • Luke Ventura was Al's first coworker, but he disappeared without explanation during Season 1 (though he at least got referred to in Season 9)
    • In Season 8, Aaron Mitchell started working there. He made appearances in five episodes, before disappearing without explanation.
    • Dexter only appeared in one Season Eight episode before disappearing. Again, no explanation was given. Although he was explicitly referred to as a temp.
    • Subverted with Hal and Biff. They also only appear in one episode, but at least they get closure by quitting when Al and Griff show them that Hal and Biff's lives most likely will end up like theirs if they keep working at the shoe store.
  • Where da White Women At?: Briefly invoked when Al sits down and opens up a Big 'Uns magazine, and Griff sits down next to him and opens a Black Big 'Uns. After reading for a moment, they trade magazines.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: One of the pranks played during the prank war between Al and Jefferson is Al putting superglue on Jefferson's toilet seat. Bud questions what kind of moron would fall for that old gag. Cue Jefferson entering, with the toilet seat stuck to his butt.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "The Agony and the Extra C".
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Al occasionally laments that Bud never played football like he did. When he becomes a Parental Substitute to Aaron, a high school football player who takes a job at the shoe store, Al claims that he's like the son Al always wanted. Note that Al says this while Bud is sitting next to him on the couch.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Subverted in the story arc where Al left Peggy and she dated a rich man. The reason Bud and Kelly considered him wicked? He wanted them to get jobs and be independent.
  • William Telling: Kelly becomes a skilled archer and accepts her opponent's challenge to shoot an apple on Bud's head. She balks at going through with it, not wanting to hurt Bud, but when her opponent accuses her of cowardice, she shoots the apple without warning, causing Bud to pass out and, upon reviving, regress to toddlerhood.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: An in-universe example; Al's "vacation" consisted of him sitting on the gated-off couch and TV, where he spends the week watching world themed movies.
  • With Friends Like These...: The NO MA'AM guys are like this to each other. One of their traditions is to prank each other on the one-year anniversary of their membership. These "pranks" include tampering with Ike's brakes so he crashed his car and was nearly killed, having Officer Dan shoot him in the back so he ends up in the hospital for seven weeks, Jefferson suggesting that the guys hire a cross-dresser to seduce Griff while they took pictures with a hidden camera (which they didn't do) and Officer Dan arresting Griff, having him sent to death row and nearly executed (which they did do).
  • World of Snark: Al, Peggy, Bud, Marcy, Steve and Buck are all snarkers. Even Kelly has her moments, despite not seeming to be smart enough for making up snappy insults.
  • Worst Wedding Ever:
    • True to form with their already Awful Wedded Life, Peg informed Marcy that at her wedding, not only had Al's mother had gotten so drunk that she threw up in the dip, but apparently his father whispered in her ear at the reception, "If you like my son, I'm twice as fun".
    • Also when Al was duped into a phony marriage by Peg's rival, he and the groomsmen are wearing gaudy tuxes that are too small for them, Gary Coleman (who has been misidentified all through the episode) is the reverend and even calls it a "freak show", and once Peg manages to wrangle the wedding back to her as the bride, she has to trick Al into saying "I do" as he refused over 40 times already (even with her Dad aiming a gun at his back).
  • Villain Protagonist: Al's favorite TV character "Psycho Dad" straddles the line between this and Heroic Comedic Sociopath. As the theme lyrics say, "He's a darn good pa, but he hates the law."
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Al and Marcy seem to have it going on. Throughout the series there are moments where they seem to genuinely get along despite the number of insults they trade back and forth. They know what it's like to have deadbeat spouses while at the same time working to earn a living for ungrateful money pits of individuals who demand everything and do nothing.
  • Vocal Dissonance: In the French dub, Bud's voice was changed to account for him growing up... but only once. As a result, Season 11 Bud is a grown man in his early twenties sounding like he is in his early teens.
  • Would Rather Suffer:
    • Al once claimed he would rather "rip my nose off with a can opener, bob for apples in a sewer" and "have a catheter the size of a garden hose" than get a second job to support Peg's shopping.
    • In "Buck Saves the Day", he claimed he'd "rather slam my nose in a car door. I'd rather have a proctologist named Dr. Hook. I would rather watch Roseanne Barr do a striptease than take these little booger machines camping."
    • When Peg was pregnant and suggested that the baby sleep in their room, Al stated that he would "rather sleep in a bunk bed underneath Oprah. I would rather engage in a threesome with Roseanne and her really cool husband. I would rather play naked Twister with every one of The Golden Girls than to share a room with that little doody-geyser."
    • In "Love Conquers Al", Peggy suggest that she and Al join her parents and the other couples in a marriage retreat.
    Al: Peg, I'd rather go synchronized swimming with Angela Lansbury. I'd rather have my neck shaved by Ray Charles. I'd even rather have your picture tattooed on the inside of my eyelids than spend any more time with these clowns!
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Oh so much, given the nature of the series. One episode has Al becoming a success and looking at possible international success due to marketing 70s style footwear, but after a fluke accident with the faulty heel of one of these shoes broke a supermodel's leg on national television, he was once again a shamed loser who even walled himself up in brick in response. But contrary to popular belief, this trope isn't just limited to Al; a season two episode had the family joyfully believing that he had stolen a million dollars from Steve's bank vault and are now rich. After it's proven that he didn't, the three of them fall into such a despair, that they tried to jump from the Sears Tower and, according to the news report, were described as "hysterical woman and her two sobbing children" and the first family suicide attempt in Chicago history.
  • You Are Number 6: Seven. He is number six, actually; his parents just couldn't count.
  • You Didn't See That: In "Calendar Girl", this happens twice as Floyd pays people and says "You didn't hear that". He pays off his son to ignore Al accusing him of trying on women's shoes. He then pays off Al when Little Floyd reveals Floyd's wife calls him "Little".
  • You Never Did That for Me: Bud and Kelly resent Seven because Peggy did for him good things she never did for them.
  • Your Television Hates You: Used very frequently on the show. Usually at Al's expense. But happens to the other Bundys plenty, too:
    • One time, Al saw a promo for the ABC movie of the week I Drink Because My Dad's A Shoe Salesman.
    • Two more incidents occurred when Al watched Family Feud. One time, the question was "What job is the lowest occupation a man can have?", while the other time was "What job would the homeless least want if the government forced them to work?" In both cases, the answer was "shoe salesman", given by all one hundred respondents.
    • The episode "Hot Off The Grill" starts with a reporter on TV in Fort Lauderdale on the day before Labor Day, claiming that only "a real no-life" would be stuck at home at such a time. Cue Peg, Kelly, and Bud watching TV before Peg turns it off out of sheer annoyance.


Video Example(s):


Married With Children [Seven On Milk Carton]

Scene from ''Married with Children'', Season Eight, Episode 22: "Ride Scare". Al's three carpool friends come to the house to visit and start scarfing on some pie laid out for them. One of them goes to get some milk where the face of Seven, an unpopular character from a previous season, is on the carton. Hey least they acknowledge he existed. Where ''did'' he go anyway?

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / FaceOnAMilkCarton

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