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Series / Martin (1992)
aka: Martin

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"You SO crazy!"

Martin is a sitcom that aired on FOX from 1992 to 1997. It stars Martin Lawrence as Martin Payne, a Detroit disc jockey who has various misadventures with his girlfriend (later wife) Gina (Tisha Campbell), homeboys Tommy (Thomas Mikal Ford) and Cole (Carl Anthony Payne II), and Gina's friend Pam (Tichina Arnold). For four seasons, it was one of FOX's most popular shows.

And then it was discovered that Lawrence was abusing drugs. Even worse, Campbell sued him for sexual harassment. At that point, she refused to be in the same room as Lawrence, even when filming. Needless to say, the writers had a difficult time writing around this.note  This spelled the end of the series by the end of the 1996-1997 season. Still, reruns air on syndication all over the U.S.

Not to be confused with the cult vampire film Martin (1977) by George A. Romero.

This show provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Sheneneh.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In the first two seasons, Martin always kept a framed poster of Do the Right Thing in his living room. Lawrence made his film debut in that movie where he played Cee.
    • When Christopher "Kid" Reid of Kid 'n Play and House Party fame guest starred in "Forever Sheneneh", Sheneneh begs him to kiss her "like the way he did with that light-skinned girl in House Party," referring to Tisha Campbell, of course.
    • In "Housekeeper from Hell", when Miss Minnie interviews for the housekeeping job, Martin mentions apartment 227, while Gina mentions the Jeffersons. Marla Gibbs, Miss Minnie's actress, starred in both 227 and The Jeffersons.
  • Aerith and Bob: There are the main characters, Martin, Gina, Pam, Tommy, and Cole, and then there is Sheneneh's brood which includes Keylolo, Bonquisha and Laquita.
  • The Alcoholic: Recurring character Marian, who shows up at parties, clubs, and even in the audience of Martin's talk show, always loud, always slurring her words, and frequently saying random, inappropriate things. In the episode "Get a Job," she states that it's medication, not liquor, that causes her behavior.
  • The Alleged Car: Cole's frequently mentioned AMC Pacer.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Dragonfly Jones is a minor character who seems to have all the traits of a douchey martial artist. Subverted hilariously in that he gets his ass handed to him in every fight.
  • Baldness Mockery: A Running Gag has Martin repeatedly insulting Tommy over his bald head. Some of the more colorful comments made by him include "Domer Simpson", "Heady Murphy", "Dome Ranger", and "Kareem Abdul Jabald".
  • Bearded Baby: Martin tells a story about the story of Christmas where Jesus is born. In the story, baby Jesus is just Martin. Martin has facial hair.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: In "Crunchy Drawers", Martin is terrorized by erotic nightmares about Pam. When told that dreams can indicate repressed desires, he panics even harder. Ultimately, it's subverted; Martin forces himself to see the dreams through, and they end with him gleefully murdering Pam! Across town, Pam has similar dreams.
  • Berserk Button: In the episode "C.R.E.A.M.," Martin flies into a murderous rage whenever Cole mentions his idea of a soup restaurant where the soup is free but the spoons are rented out, to be known as "Rent-'Em-Spoons." MC Hammer nearly suffers a similar attack at the end of the episode when he pitches the same idea and name.
  • Beta Couple: Pam and Tommy during the third season. Martin doesn't approve.
  • Big Eater: Bruh Man. He loves his "sammiches."
  • Big "NO!": Martin lets one out after he finds out about Tommy and Pam's Relationship Upgrade.
  • Book Ends: The pilot and the series finale both end with Martin, Tommy, & Cole being the last characters we see onscreen. Not counting a flashback montage that features the entire main cast.
  • Bottle Episode: Season 2's "Thanks for Nothing" and Season 3's "Nuttin Goin' on But the Rent" both take place entirely in Martin's apartment.
  • The Boxing Episode: "Guard Your Grill" has amateur boxer Martin challenge professional boxer Tommy "Hit Man" Hearns after he flirted with Gina and insulted him. He ends up defeated by the champion.
  • Break the Haughty: A very common plot since Martin is so full of himself, but most noticeable during his long job search after losing his radio station gig.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Pam is a strange example because while she isn't from the boroughs, Tichina Arnold's New York accent shines whenever she's particularly annoyed or angered.
  • Burger Fool: Martin is forced to take a job at Hoochie Burger during his extensive job hunt early in Season 3.
  • Cargo Cult: A long spell of unemployment depresses Martin, and he takes off in secret for a place called "The Golden Palace," where subjects worship Brother Rock and seek "to see the light, and to get yourself right." Everything about the cult itself is Played for Laughs, but the conflict between Gina and Martin is genuine; Gina is sincerely upset when Martin initially refuses to leave the cult and come home with her.
  • Character Catchphrase: Quite a few, most of them said by Martin:
    Martin: Get to steppin'!
    Martin: Give me love!
    Sheneneh: Oh no you didn't!
    Tommy: Cole? You stupid.
    All: [to Tommy] You ain't got no job, man!
    Jerome: Jerome's in the house! I said Jerome's in the hou-ou-ou-ouse!
    Martin: Talk to the hand.
    Martin: Save the drama for yo' mama.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • Martin keeps a framed poster of Do the Right Thing in his living room, yet no one seems to notice how he looks so much like Cee, the character Lawrence portrayed in that film.
    • Christopher "Kid" Reid, Lawrence and Campbell's co-star in the first two House Party movies, guest stars in "Forever Sheneneh". He doesn't notice how much Martin resembles his friend Bilal or how much Gina resembles his character's Love Interest Sydney.
    • In another episode, Martin watches School Daze on TV and wants to see the scene where "the light-skinned girl lick that guy's head." The girl in question is played by Campbell.
    • Probably the most complex example is where Martin receives a handheld TV and comments that he can now see Def Comedy Jam and "the Martin show." What Martin show?
  • Cherubic Choir: When Pam meets the artist Michaelangelo Jones, the lighting changes and a dramatic wind blows (even though they are indoors), followed by one of these playing in the background.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Bruh Man, who quickly became a popular character after his Season 2 debut, is never seen again after Season 4. Aside from Bruh Man acknowledging that he only comes around when Martin and Gina aren't home out of respect for their marriage, there was never a true explanation given as to why he disappeared.
  • Clean, Pretty Childbirth: An episode lampshaded this while Leaning on the Fourth Wall. A woman gave birth to what was obviously a baby doll that Martin caught in a catcher's mitt. When Tommy asked about the umbilical cord, Martin said "We don't need an umbilical cord! This is TV!"
  • Clip Show: The series finale “California, Here We Come”. Season 4 has two, “Where da Party At?” and “The Best of Martin”.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Jerome.
  • Cluster Bleep-Bomb: Done hilariously on two occasions. The first involves Martin taking it out on a listener who made fun of Gina, and the second features him finally cursing the new radio station owner out, which gets Martin fired.
  • The Ditz:
    • "Cole? You stupid."
    • Bruh Man isn't too bright. One subplot involves him and Martin planning to sell t-shirts outside of a Whitney Houston concert. Bruh Man makes the shirts. They end up running for their lives from people who got tricked into buying shirts for the "Whitty Huton Wuld Toor."
    Martin: Baby, I blame the public school system.
    • Shanice, Cole's girlfriend. How stupid is she? Even Cole is dumbstruck by her stupidity in the series' finale when she didn't get that Cole was trying to propose to her.
  • The Dreaded: Mad Dog No Good is a notorious criminal who tracks Martin down throughout the ep "High Noon". Everyone in Detroit seems to know and fear him. Only his voice is heard most of the time. When he finally shows in the climax, he's portrayed by Gary Coleman.
  • Drop-In Character: Bruh Man, who always enters Martin's apartment through the window.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Tommy having a job. In the Season 1 episode, "Blackboard Jungle Fever," he invites Martin and Cole to participate at his school's Career Day.
    • Cole's on-again, off-again girlfriend, Big Shirley, was seen, but she was an attractive and svelte woman rather than the large and faceless implied Gonk that she was in the later episodes.
  • Enter Stage Window: Bruh Man almost exclusively uses the window despite everybody else using the door. He even climbs through Gina's window despite the fact that she admittedly didn't have a fire escape.
  • Fake-Hair Drama:
    • Pam's (supposedly) horrible weave makes her the butt of many jokes.
    • Sheneneh's business revolves around this trope since she is a stylist.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Martin is choleric/sanguine, Gina is melancholic, Pam is choleric, Tommy is phlegmatic, and Cole is sanguine.
  • Forehead of Doom: Gina gets a lot of flak for the size of her head, particularly from Martin's mother who affectionately calls her "Applehead".
  • Fowl-Mouthed Parrot: Gina is forced to take care of Mama Payne's parrot Ruby in "To Kill a Talking Bird". It insults her just like Mama Payne does by calling her things like "heifer" or "muscle butt".
  • Friend to All Children: Martin has a soft spot for kids, as indicated by his Catchphrase "Marty-Mart luv da kids."
  • Funny Background Event: In "Woman With a Past", when Gina sings a tender duet of Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack's "The Closer I Get To You" with her former boyfriend, singer Keith Washington, at first Martin is seen in the background annoyed and jealous, but he soon breaks down in tears, believing that he lost her to him. Cole, being Cole, thinks he's just touched by the song itself.
    Tommy: Cole, you stupid.
  • The Ghost: Big Shirley, Cole's longtime girlfriend. By the end of the series, all the cracks that had been made about her size through the years made it pretty impossible for her to be portrayed onscreen by a real person.
  • Girly Bruiser: Or at least Pam thinks herself as one; she is sensitive about her hair and nails, but is still as violent and confrontational as Martin, especially when Sheneneh is in the picture.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Frequently, especially whenever Martin (or any of his characters) is onscreen.
    • He and Pam are constantly engaged in this, particularly when they both were fighting off the "puppy" while they and their friends were on vacation.
    • Him and late night talk show host Varnel Hill, but then again, Martin vs. Tommy Davidson could only be this.
    • In "Holiday Blues", Martin and Miss Jerri, an elderly woman, end up wrestling with each other at a bus station over loose change.
  • Head Bob: Bruh Man, usually as he leaves Martin's house.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Cole's girlfriend Big Shirley is The Ghost type of this trope.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Recurring character Hustle Man shows up now and then, offering merchandise that may or may not be plot-relevant. Either way, as he repeatedly insists, don't ask where it came from.
  • The Hyena: Tommy.
  • Hypno Fool: Pam ends up taking on all of Martin's character tics because of this. The fact that she can be hypnotized this way and that Martin shows little issue with her hypnotized behavior is a hint they really don't dislike each other that much.
  • I Broke a Nail: Sheneneh has one of these in the hallway adding the phrase bitch in front of it.
  • Ignored Confession: Gina ends up accidentally killing the parrot mentioned above. She confesses to her mother in law, who doesn't believe her, reasoning that Gina is too smart (and scared of her...which she is!) to do something like that. Mama Payne assumes she must be taking the fall for Martin.
  • Incoming Ham:
    • Martin:
    "Wuzup, Wuzup, WUZUUUP!!"
    • Jerome:
    "I say Jerome's in the house!"
  • Jerkass:
    • Sheneneh. She seems to live to pick fights with Gina and Pam.
    • Martin can be selfish or stubborn to extremes. And let's not forget his habit of throwing people out of his house.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A whole episode is dedicated to this. It's Martin's birthday, and no one wants to show up to his party because he's abrasive. Throughout, contrasting clips are shown of Martin's meaner and kinder sides. Turns out it was all a trick to get him to come to a surprise party.
  • Large Ham:
    • All of the main cast have their moments, but Martin is extremely demonstrative with his emotions, and Cole is extremely loud with his bird calls.
    • Every character Lawrence played tended toward this.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness:
    • Martin and Gina were an onscreen, loving couple who had strong chemistry. Unfortunately, given the real life backstage drama between Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell, they were rarely seen together in the latter half of the final season and much of their (and the show's) magic was gone.
    • The show noticeably got Denser and Wackier. A good example being the Halloween episodes: the first season had the gang coming together for a prank to scare Martin into the spirit of the season and the final season was moreso a live-action script of your average Scooby-Doo episode.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Martin and Gina panic when she has a pregnancy scare, but just as they warm up to the idea of having kids, it turns out she wasn't pregnant after all and they're deeply disappointed.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Otis the Security Guard is out of shape and inept. When insulted, though, he gets deadly.
  • Mean Boss: Stan. Aside from being a huge cheapskate (to the point of allowing his own mother to hitchhike home for Christmas), but he's also a leech, is mostly a Jerkass to his employees and is something of a misogynist.
  • More Hypnotizable Than He Thinks: Pam is easily put under by a children's dentist because of her refusal to let him fix her tooth.
  • My Beloved Smother: Mama Payne will kill to protect her son. Furthermore, she doesn't approve of Gina at all.
  • My Own Private "I Do": Of the plan first, elope later variety. Due to their bickering relatives in general, and the overbearing Mama Payne in particular, Martin and Gina scrap their plans for their wedding and abscond to the Bahamas with Tommy and Pam.note  They bounce just before walking down the aisle, in fact.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: In "Hollywood Swingin'", Martin goes on an Arsenio Hall expy, The Varnell Hill Show to meet up with the host, who gave him the appeal of being a down-to-earth nice guy but in reality was an egotistical, joke-stealing hack.
  • Nice Guy: Nipsey, the owner of Nipsey's club where the friends all hang out.
  • Nice Mean And In Between: The dynamic between compassionate Tommy, jerkass Martin, and kind-hearted but Brutal Honesty Cole, respectively.
  • No Indoor Voice: Laquita.
  • Not So Above It All: Gina, a very professional woman with a white-collar career, has been known to go off when tested. She does not play about her change.
  • Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: More than one episode is dedicated to trying to figure out what Tommy does for a living. Pam doesn't even know even after she becomes his girlfriend.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws:
    • As aforementioned, Mama Payne doesn't like Gina.
    • Gina's parents are snooty but mostly harmless. Martin really loves his mother-in-law, in fact.
  • Pair the Dumb Ones: Cole is the idiot of the group. In the final season, he ends up with Shanise, who is even dumber than him.
  • Phrase Catcher:
    • "Damn, Gina!"
    • Tommy: "You ain't got no job!"
    • Martin: "You go, booooyy!"
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: "Going for Mine" seems to count, as it revolves around Pam, completely separate from the rest of the cast, taking on a A&R position and finding a singing talent played by Tyrese Gibson.
    • The episode is also titled "Going for Mine," a pretty clear allusion.
  • Riddle for the Ages: What Tommy did for work. It was so extensive that when he got Cole got a job with his company, he still had no idea what he did and an African prince and his consultant called him out for not having a job.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Martin and his friends get attacked by a bloated killer rat in a few episodes. It's so big that they always mistake it for a puppy at first. In their last encounter, Martin and Pam kill and eat it.
  • Sassy Black Woman:
    • Sheneneh, most noticeably when she is around Gina and Pam.
    • Pam is this on occasion. This is especially true when she is around Martin.
  • Servile Snarker: "Housekeeper From Hell" has Martin and Gina hiring one named Miss Minnie (portrayed by Marla Gibbs).
  • Shock Jock: As a DJ, Martin veers into this territory now and then. This is usually the case when he's mad.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Do the Right Thing poster in Martin's living room as well as a reference to the film where Martin, who's been fired from his radio job by the new manager, throws a small trash can at the window just like how Mookie smashes the window at the pizzeria, but with no effect. Martin says "It looked fly when Spike did it."
    • Another occurs in the episode "Suspicious Minds" where Martin had himself and his friends dressed in black and sitting around a table to emulate a scene from New Jack City to confront them on who took his expensive CD player. Martin even does the "SIT YO FIVE DOLLAR ASS DOWN OR I'LL MAKE CHANGE!" line.
    • In one episode, Martin and the guys hold a seance. Their chanting goes off on a tangent, and the group starts quoting the chant from "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'".
  • Sinister Minister: Reverend Leon Lonnie Love, played by David Alan Grier, is a comedic example. He swindles people and has difficulty controlling his fleshy urges.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Pam and Gina to Sheneneh. To a lesser extent, the former is also this to Martin.
  • Slapstick: Gina is a magnet for physical comedy. For instance, she's been dropped down a garbage chute, knocked out by one of Cole's toenails, and spent an entire episode with her head stuck in a bed headboard.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Martin's radio show has its fans, but he's convinced that it's the number one show in the city. He often shouts his "WHAZZUP!!" Catchphrase in public, expecting people to recognize him. They usually don't.
  • Spell My Name With An S: For the record, Tommy's last name is Strawn, not Strong.
  • Split Personality: Pam temporarily develops one, and the two do not realize the other one's existence despite being brought to their attention.
  • Talk Show Appearance:
    • In the beloved two-parter "Hollywood Swinging", Martin and his friends goes to Hollywood to appear on The Varnell Hill Show to get his big break and become rich. Unfortunately, Varnell is a complete egotistical joke thief who lied about having him on, leading to Martin interrupting a performance by Jodeci in revenge.
    • Although Martin has his own public access talk show in the latter half of the series, he still has to audition for a spot. In turn, he and his friends all submit a tape of him hosting a mock talk show and shoehorning in the usual fare, including painting Gina as embezzling funds from her job and Pam as a man.
  • This Is Reality: Sort of inverted and more like Leaning on the Fourth Wall on one episode where the guys help a woman in labor deliver a baby. Not only does the baby shoot out of the womb as if the woman was a pitching machine, but the child has no umbilical cord, as Tommy points out:
    Martin: Dammit, Tommy, we don't need umbilical cords! (turning to the audience) THIS IS TV!
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Martin loves his mama's raisin butter biscuits.
  • The Trouble with Tickets: Combined with A Fool for a Client, in the episode "No Justice, No Peace."
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Martin is the furthest thing from mild-mannered. He's loud, abrasive, and belligerent—and that's how he acts towards his friends. More often than not, though, his conscience makes him do the right thing.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Martin and Pam, whose vitriol occasionally spills over to their respective partners.
  • Volleying Insults: If Martin and Pam aren't doing this, something is wrong. Pam usually makes fun of his height, while Martin compares her to hairy animals.
  • Women Are Wiser:
    • Played straight with Gina and Martin.
    • Inverted with Tommy and Pam.

Alternative Title(s): Martin