Jessica "Jess" Day surprises her boyfriend at home only to find him with another girl. One sudden and swift break-up later, she now has no place to stay. Answering a Craigslist apartment ad (believing it to be for female roommates), she finds herself applying to share an apartment with a group of guys. Desperate for a room, she convinces them to bring her in, mostly through the knowledge that she's friends with Cece, a model who's friends with yet more models. Jess is a socially awkward school teacher prone to singing her words for no reason, putting on cartoon accents, dancing horribly, and can be hard to lock into a straightforward conversation.
The guys in the apartment are:
- Nick (Jake Johnson), a deliberately underachieving bartender.
- Schmidt (Max Greenfield), a metrosexual marketing agent.
- Winston (Lamorne Morris), an ex-professional basketball player in Latvia.
- Coach (Damon Wayans Jr), a "go hard or go home" personal trainer.
The guys struggle to deal with her mood swings, but they grow close to her as they help her move on with her life. She, in turn, helps them to get their act together and move on with their dreams. The gender-clash makes things interesting and the characters and show develop beyond the apartment setup once the guys fully accept Jess into their lives.
In May 2017 it was announced that the show's seventh season would be its last, and would involve a three-year Time Skip for the characters.
I don't list the tropes, the tropes list me.
- Aborted Arc: The impetus for Cece's arranged marriage to Shivrang in season two was that she was on the verge of becoming infertile, and she had to start trying to have a child immediately. Once the wedding was called off, however, this plot point was never mentioned again. It gets a brief Hand Wave in the sixth season finale, when Cece mentions she didn't think she would ever get pregnant, but the show offers no actual resolution to the plotline. In the final season, Cece wants another child, and neither she nor Schmidt make any mention of her fertility being an issue.
- Accidental Misnaming:
- Jess' dad calls Winston "Wilson" because of a memory lapse and Nick "Rick" because he doesn't like him.
- Winston gets a lot more of this. It becomes something of a subtle Running Gag for minor and recurring characters to get his name wrong if they meet a second time.
- Affectionate Nickname:
- Jess is called "Jess-Jess" by her ex, "Jujube" by her mom, and "Toilet-Pants" by fellow teachers after dancing barefoot in a toilet.
- Only the people close to him are allowed to call Nick by his full name. A single episode gives us "Nicky," "Nickels," and "Little Penis" by his Dad.
- Schmidt is "Schmitty". His college girlfriend Elizabeth would lovingly call him "Big Guy".
- Winston is "Winnie", sometimes "Winnie the Bish".
- Nick's dad is called "PopPop"...by Winston.
- Air Hugging: Jess has found a way around Nick's emotional resistance!
- All Men Are Perverts:
- Cece expresses this belief when she frets about Jess moving in with three male strangers. Jess says they're her friends; Cece says they probably want to sleep with her because that's what all men are like.
- While the roommates are self-completing, as far as thinking about Jess during is concerned. When Jess is appalled, Winston fires back that she is just as guilty:Winston: Don't try to act like you've never thought about any of us when you're going solo. I don't work a 9-to-5, I'm here all day, I can hear you!
- The Alleged Car:
- Winston's Ford SUV, professionally deemed as "not officially a car anymore." After it breaks down for good, he reluctantly abandons it and acquires a vintage Chevelle SS convertible (though it's possible the latter is his boss' car and his boss just isn't allowed to drive it anymore because of all his DUIs).
- Potentially Jess' station wagon, which apparently used to be her parents' station wagon, and which she has a long tradition of pushing places when it stalls. Unlike Winston's, it hasn't dropped dead yet, though.
- Nick's car is also beginning to collapse due to the sheer force of aging.
- Almost Kiss: Jess pretends to try to kiss Nick after they talk about pregnancy, and he pulls away laughing.
- Ambiguously Brown: Schmidt's impression of Cece, before she states that her parents are Indian. Hannah Simone, who plays her, is a mixture of Indian, German, Italian, Cypriot, and Greek.Schmidt: In a couple days I'll be brown just like you, Cece. Because... because your culture is...
Cece: What is my culture?
Schmidt: It's, um... you're... Fff... Um... Jjj... Jaflan... Jafanese? Uh, Sa-Saudi... Saudiboo... Um... Monga...
Cece: My parents were born in India.
Schmidt: India... totally. Love India.
- Done by Schmidt again when explaining to Cece the ingredients he put in a perfume he made for her for Christmas:Schmidt: Cocoa, because of your brown...-ness...
- Done by Schmidt again when explaining to Cece the ingredients he put in a perfume he made for her for Christmas:
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Subverted and parodied with Genevieve in "Sam, Again", who at first seems totally in love with Jess's ex Sam. As the episode goes on and he turns out to be a neurotic Jerkass who still hates Jess for breaking up with him, she compliments him on his breakthrough then immediately breaks up with him herself.Sam: As usual, I have had a terrible time in your horrible loft with all of you idiot people. [storms towards door]
Genevieve: Sam, wait! [he stops and turns, looking hopeful] If you take your bike, will you relock mine? Thank you.
- Apathetic Teacher: Jess' boss at Coolidge, Principal Foster, combines this with Pointy-Haired Boss:[Jess is in Foster's office when some kids appear at the open door]
Kid: There's a fight in the gym!
Jess: Oh my god!
Foster: I got this, Jess.
Kids: FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
[Foster runs over to the door, shuts it, and goes back to his desk.]
Foster: I've been thinking about starting to wear a watch again.
- Artifact Title: The title became an artifact in record time, as the second episode replaced Coach with Winston, meaning Jess is not the last person to move into the loft. The beginning of the episode lampshades (and handwaves) this, explaining that Winston had already lived in the loft before, so Jess is "still the new kid." As the series progresses, Jess has lived in the loft for years, and the show becomes more of an ensemble.
- Ascended Meme: Season 2 episode 2 had Jess being called Katy throughout the show by a guest star.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: All the roommates have their moments, but in Season 5's "No Girl," Nick literally displays this:Schmidt: And you have the focus of a coked-up Italian on a summer day.
Nick: [not looking at him] I'm very focused.
Schmidt: You're not even looking at me right now.
Nick: ...I thought I saw something shiny. Um...but no, it was nothing.
Schmidt: How do you drive your car and not hit people?
Nick: I have never been more focused in my — [leans over and picks up something] It was a spoon! I saw the...it was just a spoon.
- Author Appeal: This show really likes showing sexual relationships between bosses and employees.
- Bait-and-Switch: Happens a lot after the time jump in Season 7:
- First off, Jess gets off an elevator arm in arm with another man whom she says she loves. He's gay and she's still very much with Nick.
- Jess is extremely excited to show her friends what's on her finger. She and Nick were in a Vespa accident.
- Cece and Winston are shown on a mattress (fully clothed) talking about how they have to be quick before Ali, who Winston had gotten engaged to in the previous season, comes home. Theyre just flipping the mattress and Ali and Winston are having a baby.
- "Before" and "After" Pictures: Cece has a modelling job where she is being photographed for "after" and another woman is "before."
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Jess and Nick. It's first seen in "The Landlord", and their fight in "Tomatoes." The two of them burn off steam in...interesting ways. While they are considering a Relationship Upgrade, this trope kicks up a notch culminating in their fight whilst making out in "Quick Hardening Caulk". Eventually serves as something of a Deconstructed Trope as they continue to bicker and fight after getting together, and ultimately break up because they find it impossible to maintain a relationship while fundamentally disagreeing on everything.
- Berserk Button:
- "I told you to water the plants..."
- Do not put your dirty hands anywhere near Schmidt's food.
- Hurting Jess will pretty much anger any member of the main cast and Cece.
- Don't insult Winston's joblessness—or, really, his pride in general. He will go to a strange place and drag you with him.
- And for the love of God, don't wake Winston when he's sleeping in.
- Beta Couple: Schmidt/Cece, although they outdo the Alpha Couple (Nick/Jess) in Will They or Won't They? angst in early seasons. Played straight in the last three seasons, where Schmidt and Cece are a happy couple, while Nick and Jess remain in the Unresolved Sexual Tension phase until the season 6 finale.
- Betty and Veronica: As of the second-season finale, Schmidt has to choose between Elizabeth and Cece.
- Big "NO!": Schmidt does one after learning that Cece is considering having her breasts reduced.
- Birds of a Feather:
- Jess dates Paul, who is just as quirky and musical as she is.
- Temporary roommate Neil also has habits of awkward singing and oversharing, but Jess is too bitter about Nick moving out to appreciate the similarities.
- Possibly reflective of their old friendship, Nick and Winston both have sensible, level-headed exteriors overlying childish and neurotic extremes.
- Jess and Winston love bubbles, work well with kids, share strange enthusiasms, and reflect each others' emotional states.
- Bland-Name Product:
- Dice, for dating app Tinder. Interestingly, it's described as "like Tinder" when it's introduced so the audience knows exactly what it is.
- Heisler Beer is a recurring drink of choice.
- Blatant Lies:
- The look on Jess' face when she promised not to talk to the landlord, and later her claim to have found her keys lying on the cliff off of which she was meant to have thrown them.
- Schmidt's claims to being one of Mitt Romney's sons to pick up girls.
- Jess, after being visibly impressed when she found out that her friend with benefits was a pediatrician sees him play with a kid and, though a blatantly fake smile says "This makes me feel nothing."
- Schmidt's wardrobe was stolen and dry-cleaned by meth heads.
- Jess tells Nick that the two of them calling off their budding relationship "feels good" while visibly tearing up.
- Nick's insistence that he's fine following his breakup with Julia. He asked a friend to come to the beach because he's great, and doesn't need anything, but he really doesn't want to be alone. But he's fine.
- The first episode of season one (excluding the pilot) has Jess driving to her old house and then suddenly driving past it because she's afraid of confronting her past. The last episode of season one has Nick driving to his new house and then suddenly driving past it because he's afraid of confronting his future.
- Season 2 begins and ends with Nick and Jess and her car. In the first episode, they sit down on top of the car while Nick is comforting Jess after she gets fired. In the last episode, they ride off happily together and they're in a relationship.
- At the beginning of the episode "Re-Launch," we first see Nick singing "Groove is In the Heart" by Dee-Lite in the shower, and then Winston at the end of Schmidt's party when he's drunk from a fruity concoction of Nick's creation.
- Season 4 begins with the gang lamenting the fact their fridge is covered with wedding invites as it's wedding season, including Cece and Shivrang's. The finale sees Jess put up a placeholder invite for Cece and Schmidt's wedding.
- The series begins with Jess moving into the loft after breaking up with her long-term boyfriend; it ends with Jess moving out of the loft, newly married to Nick.
- Bookshelf of Authority: Parodied when Nick and Jess find Russell's home office. Appropriately for a wealthy businessman, Russell's office is very polished, complete with a leather chair and a hardwood desk in front of a distinguished bookshelf. Nick has a blast playing around with the setup and pretending to be accomplished.
- Break His Heart to Save Him:
- Elvin forces Winston to leave his nanny job by telling his mother that Winston was a degenerate. Even though he loved Winston as a nanny, he knew it was a dead-end job for him.
- In the season one finale, Schmidt "White Fangs" Cece. He says it's to drive her away for her own good, but the truth is he just can't keep his jealousy in check and he's breaking up with her first to avoid the heartbreak of her dumping him.
- Break the Cutie: A gentle version of this is happening to Jess in season 2. She becomes so downtrodden and discouraged (not to mention broke) by her professional efforts not working out that she essentially turns into the apartment's new Nick.
- Brick Joke:
- In episode 10 of season 2 Jess mentions her dad had problems with making left turns (going right instead), and later in the series it's revealed that one of the reasons Jess' dad doesn't like Nick dating his daughter is because he reminds him of himself, during the season 2 finale, when Jess and Nick drive off together, you can hear Nick yelling about making 3 right turns because it's slower that way.
- In Season 4, Episode 1, "The Last Wedding": Nick mentions buying tap shoes at a thrift store thinking that they're dress shoes. Later in the episode, when Winston's salt and pepper demonstration scare him out of a foursome with Schmidt, Nick can be heard loudly running away out of frame.
- Bridal Carry: It's usually around the waist, but Nick has a habit of picking Jess up. Comes to a climax at the end of "Virgins."
- Brief Accent Imitation:
- Jess frequently slips in and out of a variety of accents, usually when trying to defuse a tense situation.
- Nick's cockney impression when drunk dialing his ex.
- Paul impersonating Jimmy Stewart. During sex. It Makes Sense In Context.
- Broken Pedestal: Implied (but not directly stated) to be why Schmidt holds Birdman in such contempt, given that it's about his childhood hero's dissatisfaction with the role that made Schmidt idolize him.
- Brutal Honesty: Fawn Moscato.Schmidt: To Fawn. A woman who likes me not in spite, but because of my flaws.
Fawn: I do like you. But I hate your flaws.
- Butt-Monkey: Nick. The writers seem to have decided to make him the show's designated punching bag. However, by season 2, the Butt Monkey status is more evenly distributed around the cast.
- Call-Back: Winston's gay alter ego, Theodore K Mullins, is referenced well before he finally makes an appearance. Winston normally uses Theodore (Nick or Schmidt's gay lover on the downlow, depending on who he's messing with) to screw with his friends, but when it gets an epic call back, it's as part of a mega-rant against everyone's fighting and he uses Theodore to get some college girls to stop fighting over Nick and leave the apartment.
- The douchebag jar from the first season makes an amazing return when Schmidt crushes it underfoot during his and Cece's wedding ceremony.
- True American is this for the over-21 crowd. It appears to be a bizarre combination of Drinking Game, Candyland, Hot Lava, and yelling out the names of various American presidents, with additional cryptic details such as "everything you hear is a lie knock on wood" and "there are four zones: the alternate zone is the crazy zone!" And then of course there are the ritual sacrifices with tennis balls.
- "Cooler" re-introduces it with "sexy Clinton rules," now including stripping and having to go "behind the Iron Curtain" (i.e. the big metal door in the apartment) in order to kiss. Nick's date even lampshades the Calvinball nature of the game by asking if there's a printout of the rules anywhere. There emphatically aren't. Despite this, playable rules for True American actually do exist.
- Cannot Talk to Women: Winston spends so long not getting any action that at one point his desperation steals his ability to speak.
- Casual Kink: No one bats an eye at Schmidt's kinky fetishes or props.
- Whenever Jess trips and falls she says "It's happening!"
- "Welcome to our home" is another of Jess's.
- Nick says a variation of "this is my nightmare" whenever he's in an awkward situation. Which is frequent.
- Cat Fight:
- Played for Laughs in "Models" with the "boob fight" between Jess and Cece.
- The aptly-named episode "Girlfight". When a tiff between Jess and Cece spirals out of control, Coach recommends they stop being passive-aggressive and just beat each other up like men do. Since they're at a baby shower full of models, the whole thing erupts into a bunch of gorgeous women throwing each other around. Schmidt has to hold a pillow in front of his crotch at the sight of it.
- "Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate: Nick and Schmidt start off fighting about money and related social norms. They end up fighting about whether or not Midori Sours are trendy. Then they keep fighting about whether or not Midori Sours are trendy.
- Celebrity Paradox:
- After a breakup, Jess emphatically points out that she's listening to Taylor Swift. Guess who Shivrang's fellow eloper is played by?
- Schmidt expresses his contempt for Birdman, which had the actress who played his old college girlfriend, Meritt Wever, in it.
- Schmidt has made reference to Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (specifically, it's his nickname for Cece's boobs) and Kal Penn (one of the stars). Penn and his co-star John Cho both guested in season 5 (in separate episodes).
- Character Development: Despite the trappings of an episodic comedy, all the characters develop and change with the seasons more inline with a serial drama. If nothing else, they tend to have subtle reactions over many episodes. For instance, after a series of harsh breakups that wreaks his start-of-series confidence, Winston basically turns into a mess when it comes to women. It takes some wacky hijinks and his friends getting serious with him for him to recover his emotional stability. Likewise, Schmidt starts off as the resident Jerkass who had to frequently put money in a jar for his abrasive comments. While he was always a stalwart friend, over the series he grows into a much more sympathetic character who loses that abrasive quality and emotional childishness. Of all the characters, did anyone think he'd be the first to get married? To Cece no less?
- Characterization Marches On:
- The first few episodes Jess behaved more on the "Ambiguous Disorder" side of Manic Pixie Dream Girl before settling into a more grounded "middle-school teacher" version, in episodes like "The Wedding" she seems incapable of concentrating on one task or interacting with normal society. This is explained/retconned as being that the series starting break-up/move-out really threw her off balance and the guys helped her find her footing again.
- Winston goes from being the most responsible of the loft to a Cloud Cuckoolander struggling to find himself, volunteers waaay too much personal information, and is obsessed with his cat. And then recovers his self-possession enough to become a police officer.
- At the beginning, Nick is a slacker who is living below his means as a law school drop-out and generally rolls his eyes at his loftmates' antics. But by the second season, he becomes a somewhat dim Manchild who wears his heart on his sleeve and has weird obsessions.
- Cheek Copy: Nick got really bored waiting for his girlfriend to get off work. He wants everyone to know he does not have three butt cheeks.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Bertie, Winston's girlfriend in the second half of season 3. In her last appearance, they were still dating, but then she just disappears with no explanation. Unlike most of the love interests, it's never mentioned how she and Winston broke up.
- Closet Geek:
- Pretty much everyone, except Jess who is an uncloseted geek. Schmidt and Cece bond over children's books, Winston wants to live on the moon, Nick expounds on his theories about zombies in writing. There's more.
- "This is President Miller of Earth, I'd like to speak with the Galactic Emperor."
- Not to forget Winston's excellent rendition of the soundtrack of Wicked while driving.
- Clothing Switch: It's convenient that all of Nick's stuff was in a moving van accompanying them when the gang stranded themselves in the desert, because they all layered on Nick's clothing to get through the night. The next day, Nick gave Winston some more of his clothing to change into because he'd gotten lost in the desert overnight and there was "pee everywhere."
- Condescending Compassion: Cece means well, but she is terrible at consoling Winston:Cece: So, um, maybe this breakup isn't such a bad thing.
Cece: Now you can stop wasting your life and find someone more realistic. Yeah, someone who's, like, in your league.
Cece: Because you don't want to die alone, so you kind of have to settle and lower your standards and find someone that's just, like, in your lane.
Cece: If you stay in your lane, you'll be happy, 'cause you won't be alone. Right?
Winston: What are you saying?
Cece: Someone a little older, dumpier.
Winston: You are so bad at this.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: Jess deals with The Bully in her classroom by making the kid accompany her on one of her songs.
- Continuity Nod:
- Winston's complete inability to pull a prank (first showed when Nick pranked Schmidt to feel old) shows up again when he and Schmidt decide to ruin Jess and Nick's date, and continues to come up for the rest of season 2.
- In general, the show has a surprising amount of this for a comedy. The season 5 finale in particular was chock-full of them in various ways, often combined with the results of character development. For instance, Nick's zombie novel is brought up and it's actually made a lot of progress!
- Commuting on a Bus: Since Happy Endings was canceled, season 3 saw Coach return for the latter half of the season and as a full cast member for season 4.
- Crack Pairing:
- In-Universe, everyone has this initial reaction to Schmidt and Cece's relationship.Winston: Are you tired of being turned on? Do you have a fetish for moles?
- By the end of season 4, however, everyone's cheering them on.
- In-Universe, everyone has this initial reaction to Schmidt and Cece's relationship.
- Crazy Enough to Work: Jess talked a man with a gun into not only not shooting her, but giving up the parking space he was trying to steal, by being kind and apologetic. She later did herself one better by scaring off a coyote by getting on all fours and howling.
- Crazy-Prepared: When Jess leaves to do jury duty in season five, she leaves the gang "a complementary bowl of advice. For instance, um, 'Nick, stop doing that.' Just applies to everything." In the stinger, they start reading the advice slips. One of them just says "Stop reading this within the first three hours of my absence."
- Creator Cameo: New Girl creator Elizabeth Meriwether appears in "Reagan" as a hotel employee who claims not to speak English because she's from "outside of Connecticut."
- Cringe Comedy:
- Schmidt's attempts at hitting on Cece in the first season. Despite the fact that everyone (Cece included) has told him he has no shot, his awkward-yet-confident attempts to woo her are pure cringe as while he has zero shame about the things coming out of his mouth, the audience is acutely aware of the awkwardness.
- Jess and Paul in the bedroom. Two awkward, reserved people trying to seem sexually open and adventurous and failing miserably.
- Jess replacing Cece at the car show in Models. Jess can barely stand in her heels, and the audience is treated to an extended sequence of her trying to show off a car on a spinning platform that culminates in her accidentally locking herself in, somehow. All the while a poor sales rep is trying to downplay Jess' Epic Fail at being a Hood Ornament Hottie.
- After a sperm donation plan falls through, Bob and Carol, Nick's cousin and his wife, ask Nick to help impregnate Carol by having sex with her. Already an awkward premise, but it doesn't reach the apex of cringe until they try to do the act. Nick is awkward when it comes to sexual acts in general, and this time he's basically browbeaten into having sex with his cousin's wife. While his cousin is in the room. And Schmidt. Who are both quite vocal.
- Crossover: With Brooklyn Nine-Nine, in the episode Homecoming. Whilst advertised as part of a two part event, each episode simply provides the context for Jess encounter with Detective Jake Peralra from the perspective of each character; whilst other characters from the Nine Nine would pop up on the New Girl side of the crossover, Jess would be the only New Girl character who went in the other direction.
- Cutaway Gag: When Schmidt is upset about Nick and Cece fighting, Cece gives in about the roommate agreement:Cece: [sighs] All right, Nick, I'll sign it. I don't want to hurt Schmidt, and right now, he's probably just crying his eyes out at the Denim bar.
[Cut to Schmidt sitting on a banquette in the empty Denim bar, hugging a pair of jeans, with a guy cleaning up in the background.]
Schmidt: (tearful) I really appreciate you keeping the store open for me late, Maurice.
- When Nick gets a cold and Schmidt can't get ill because he's got an important presentation, he insists that Nick stay in his room and puts Saran-Wrap across the doorway as a barrier against infection.Schmidt: (to Cece) Thanks for backing me up, boo.
Cece: (fondly) Oh, you know how boo do.
Schmidt: You know who's my boo? I got a clue it's you.
[Cece sneezes and looks at Schmidt. Schmidt glares at her. Cut to Cece sitting next to Nick on the bed.]
Cece: So, this is the most time we've ever spent alone.
- When Nick gets a cold and Schmidt can't get ill because he's got an important presentation, he insists that Nick stay in his room and puts Saran-Wrap across the doorway as a barrier against infection.
- The Danza: Bob day was played by Rob Reiner. Bob and Rob are both short for Robert, so this counts.
- Deconstruction: A number of plots and sub-plots tend to be this.
- For instance, Nick and Jess's whole romance thing is effectively a deconstruction of what would actually happen when you combine a neurotic emotionally-damaged man with a manic pixie dream girl - a lot of dysfunctional moments.
- Specifically, as opposed to the trope where their qualities give each other purpose, Nick can find Jess' exuberance annoying and she finds his negativity/avoidant attitude oppressive.
- Schmidt, in the season 2 finale, having to choose between Elizabeth and Cece. Both are clearly very good for him, both love him, and he loves both of them. There's no clear or correct choice unlike in a rom-com. There is, however, a wrong choice, which Schmidt winds up taking.
- Derailing Love Interests: Daisy in the beginning of the third season goes from being pretty cool (although with sparse appearances) to juggling several men (and lying about it), and taking advantage of Winston.
- Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Jess has performed the show's theme song in-universe a lot. ♪ A Lot! ♪ Starting with the pilot.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Jess and Schmidt attempting to shove a very large turkey into a very small oven. Immediately lampshaded by Schmidt.Schmidt: We've all been here, am I right?
Nick and Winston: Jar.
- A non-sexual example: Jess going off to jury duty in season 5 is played out exactly like she's going to prison, even down to Nick buying her a carton of cigarettes ("It's currency in there.") Jess lampshades it by saying "You know I'm not going to prison, right?" Nick replies "As long as you're free in here [touches his chest], you're never in prison."
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune:
- Co-writtennote and performed by Deschanel.
- Jess creates one as a Pep-Talk Song.
- Schmidt also has one in-universe, but it's not exactly a pep talk.
- Doorstopper: ''The Pepperwood Chronicles", Nick's unfinished, extremely amateurish novel is largely seen as giant stacks of pages.
- Drama-Preserving Handicap: In a weird way, Schmidt's broken penis. It allowed Schmidt and Cece to have their relationship issues that led to their breakup at the end of the first season.
- Dropped After the Pilot: Coach, played by Damon Wayans, Jr, leaves the show after the pilot due to Wayans' prior commitment to Happy Endings. As a result, Coach was written out of the second episode and Winston Bishop took his placenote . When Happy Endings was canceled, Coach returned for the third and fourth seasons before Coach moved away and only infrequently pops up for guest appearances.
- Easily Overheard Conversation: In "Goldmine," Schmidt hears Cece talking about getting breast reduction surgery from the other side of the apartment, with the door closed.
- Emotionally Tongue-Tied: Cece's teen crush Jake Apex had this effect on her when she was young:Cece: Every time I spoke to him, I'd have a full-blown tiny kid stroke.
[flashback to high school]
Jake Apex: Hey, killer.
- Erotic Dream:
- In Winston's dream, Jess had raccoon hands and was "digging through his garbage."
- Nick: Sleeping Nick is a totally different guy!
- Europeans Are Kinky: And a little bit racist. Cece's model friends are... a handful.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Coach. "Clavado En Un Bar" reveals his name to be Ernie.
- Everyone Can See It:
- Within a few months of knowing each other, Nick and Jess have got each of their significant others and Cece expressing their suspicions that the two are into each other.
- It's possible Jamie just has sex on the brain, but the first words out of his mouth when he meets Jess are about whether she's hooking up with his brother. (It actually makes up the bulk of his conversation with her.)
- Everyone knows Schmidt's in love with Cece before he does.
- Expy: Amelia from the second season "Halloween" for the Slutty Pumpkin from How I Met Your Mother. Both are female love interests from the male lead's past that never were, but they finally do get together years later, on a Halloween episode, only to end the same episode because everything about their interactions wound up being completely awkward. They also both end on the same Aesop, where the protagonist realizes that he was chasing the idea of a relationship, not the girl herself.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Nick's missed the plane home for Christmas five years running.
- Fake Guest Star: Damon Wayans, Jr. was credited as "Special Guest Star" for all his season 3 episodes despite appearing in all 17 episodes since his return appearance.
- Fashion Model: CeCe is a fashion model, mainly as a contrast for geeky Obliviously Beautiful Jess. One episode has Jess take CeCe's place in a car show and bungle her way through posing in a revolving platform.
- Faux Horrific: Jess' Kermit impression scares the crap out of Cece.
- Nick and Jess turn each other on for really obscure, nonsensical reasons. Like the first time, she thought about being with him was while watching him play-act some puns with a bowl of peanuts, and he thought some frankly creepy sketches were "kind of sexy" because of their incongruously big eyes.
- Cece was turned on by Schmidt getting really intense and furious about cooking, and again when he listed a bunch of cheeses.
- First Girl Wins: Jess (in the process of being interviewed by Nick and the other roommates) is the first thing you see when the series starts. So she gets with Nick in the end.
- Five Stages of Grief: Schmidt goes through them in "Goldmine" when Cece is considering breast reduction surgery.
- Flanderization: As part of Nick's Characterization Marches On, he gets a lot dumber over the seasons. In the first season he's a former law student who didn't finish because he didn't apply himself, but a few seasons later, he's so stupid that it's hard to think of him ever trying to become an attorney.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling:
- Jamie got the napkins for his father's funeral. Nick did everything else. Including deal with Jamie.
- Sensible teacher Jess has a younger sister who is a Hard-Drinking Party Girl whom she's been trying to "fix".
- Forceful Kiss: Schmidt tries doing this to Nick several times when he thought Nick was dying. Nick refers to it as a Fredo kiss.
- Foreshadowing: The events of 2x08 "Parents" are a major Ship Tease for the Nick/Jess Official Couple. As part of her Parent Trap scheme, Jess has Nick flirt with her mother Joan, which Nick begins to do genuinely after a moment. Nick also bonds with her father Bob as the two turn out to basically be the same person, which has strong implications if you subscribe to the Freudian idea that Jess would be attracted to someone who is similar to her father.
- Formerly Fat:
- Jess was pudgy as a child, though it doesn't seem to have affected her personality much.
- Schmidt was humorously obese, with Max Greenfield wearing a fat suit whenever he's in a flashback. Schmidt's obsession with appearance and style seems to be a reaction against his earlier shape.
- Four-Girl Ensemble:
- The four main girls in seasons 5-6: Endearingly Dorky Jess is the sweet-naive one, snarky police officer Aly is the tomboyish one, Fashion Model Cece is the sexy one, and the cool and wise Reagan is the admirable one.
- Gender-Flipped for the four main guys in seasons 3-4: cat-loving Cloudcuckoolander Winston is the naive one, the athletic Coach is the manly/straightforward one, the vain Mr. Fanservice Schmidt is the sexy one, and Nick is The Heart who keeps all of them together.
- Freudian Trio: Jess's three roommates. Hedonistic and well-off Schmidt is the Id, Winston is the Ego, and sour and uptight Nick is the Superego.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: In "Fancyman Part 1," the list of "alternatives to intercourse" on Jess's chalkboard includes: "get to know a neighbor," "look at pics of STDs," "write a convict," and "watch Friday Night Lights."
- Funny Foreigner: Nadia, Cece's Russian model roommate, who is as mean as she is kooky.
- Gaslighting: Nick's pranks go to this extreme. Jess ends up paranoid because of his claim that he wouldn't prank her.
- Generation Xerox: Jess and Nick's relationship is a mirror of Jess's parents' relationship. Both Jess and her mother Joan are fun-loving and excitable; Nick and Jess's father Bob are crotchety Grumpy Bears. Ominously, Joan and Bob divorced while Jess was a child and are both very sure they will never get back together, hookups aside, due to their contrasting personalities. Nick and Jess date then break up because they are too different, but later find their way back to each other.
- Gender Flip:
- Many of Schmidt's storylines are effectively classic movie/TV situations involving females but with the genders flipped. Some of the humor or intentional lack thereof stems from the flip, revealing how awkward or unusual those situations actually are. Specifically, he's the only man in an office full of aggressive career women. As a result, he has to deal with social exclusion, not being taken seriously because of his gender, sexual harassment, etc...
- The latter part of season 2 has this for Schmidt outside of his office as a Gender Flip of some romantic comedies due to his relationship with Cece. And again, the flip shows how depressing and painful it is for someone to see the person they love marrying someone else and how it's desperate, not cute, when that someone tries do things to win them back or save face.
- Girl of the Week:
- Paul and then Russell for Jess and Julia for Nick, though technically each hung around for more than one episode.
- Chloe, and to a lesser extent Nick's many other college girls. And some of Schmidt's conquests.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: This is basically what happens when people find out Schmidt and Cece are sleeping together. Winston, especially.Police Officer: Then how do you explain this?
[Cue the officer opening the trunk of the van Winston was driving]
Winston: I can't sir. No one in the whole world can explain this.
Winston: Is that a stop sign? Maybe it's a go sign. Because if somebody like you is sleeping with somebody like her, then maybe the whole damn world is upside down.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: People who cheat on the protagonists, like Spencer (on Jess) and Daisy (on Winston) are easily dismissed by the narrative. On the other hand, protagonist Schmidt two-timing Cece and Elizabeth is treated as a bad thing, yet it is given a lot of focus and is a turning part in his character arc.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Jess and Nick are nice, caring people with a downright joyful sex life.
- Grumpy Bear: Parodied with Nick, who's happy that each year he grows more into his personality. A flashback shows he's always been this way;Young Nick: [Picking up an errant frisbee] Keep this crap out of my yard! Ya hear me!
- Has a Type: Jess's boss has a type. Asians. It's a Kristi Yamaguchi thing.
- Has Two Mommies: Sadie and Melissa's soon-to-be-born baby.
- Heat Wave: "Heat Wave", where the unbearable heat tests out Nick and Reagan's methods of keeping the loft cool. Reagan's method wins out because she braved a mass frenzy at a big box store to acquire an air conditioner, while Nick's idea was time-sharing fans and ice. They end up trying to fix the building's air conditioning.
- Heroic BSoD: When Jess finally faces that her parents really never will get back together, she goes catatonic, and then silently tries to shove the Thanksgiving turkey down the garbage disposal.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners:
- Nick and Schmidt, to the point where Schmidt insists on throwing a very expensive, wedding-like party to celebrate their having been roommates for ten years. Shivrang has to explain to his mother that it is not what it sounds like. Nick himself outright describes Schmidt as a good husband to him. And when Nick pretends to be gay as to not intimidate a guy Jess is seeing, said guy is initially skeptical that Nick is actually gay but becomes convinced after seeing him and Schmidt have a heartfelt conversation.
- After meeting through Nick, Schmidt and Winston are surprised to realize that they've become so close. Winston's often the one to help Schmidt get through emotional turmoil, they go to each other for advice, and Schmidt has been known to physically help Winston dress.
- Hidden Depths:
- Winston's bell skills.
- Schmidt's cooking skills.
- Cece's dad died when she was a kid.
- Nick used to play the string bass. He's also pretty damn smooth when he really wants something. And he grew up as the head of a household.
- Hit Me, Dammit!: In "Longest Night Ever," Schmidt asks Jess to hit him with her car to stop him from breaking up Cece and Coach's date. Jess at first just taps him with the bumper, which freaks out Schmidt. Then she does it accidentally (and much harder) when she is startled by a police siren.
- Hollywood Nerd: Jess may be nerdy and awkward but nobody on the show denies her beauty.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Mostly between Schmidt and Nick. Their B Plot in "Models" in particular was designed because the creator thought they "needed a love story between Nick and Schmidt or something. We wanted to tell it like a classic rom-com story about Nick and Schmidt and their love of each other."
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold:
- Jess attempted to invoke this as part of a sex fantasy. It doesn't work.
- When trying to hire a stripper for Schmidt's birthday, she asks for one with a heart of gold "and a crotch of gold."
- Horrible Camping Trip: In "Thanksgiving III," Nick takes the gang camping and hunt for their Thanksgiving dinner. Also counts as a Macho Disaster Expedition.
- House Husband: Schmidt inevitably turns out this way, whether for the loft as a whole or in his future marriage. That said, he also has a moment of insecurity about his ability to take care of his fiancée - not because he thinks she's incompetent or that he's not 'manly' enough to do 'manly' things, but because he believes that's what a good husband should strive to do in general.
- I Call Him "Mister Happy": Schmidt calls Cece's breasts "Harold" and "Kumar."
- I Didn't Mean to Turn You On: When Jess has feelings for Nick at the end of season 2, everything he does and says manages to accidentally turn her on.
- I Have to Go Iron My Dog: Nick's parade of excuses to avoid going to the doctor. He tends to default to nonsensical ramblings whenever he's nervous.
- The "I Love You" Stigma:
- Causes Jess and Paul's break-up.
- Downplayed between Jess and Nick. She was heading off to a party at Prince's house and Nick casually says "Have fun! Love you!" and the mood dropped dead, all Jess could do in return was playful finger guns. Nick tracked her down at the party to apologize for the awkwardness of the situation and just being in a more comfortable situation Jess exclaimed "I love you, Nick Miller!"
- I Take Offense to That Last One!: When we first meet Jess' friend Sadie, she has just heard the story of Nick's girlfriend insulting Jess' entire personality as being a quaint ploy for attention. The first thing out of Sadie's mouth is "I'm sorry, she doesn't like desserts?" That particular point bugs Jess a lot too. She points out several times how weird it is.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Jess resolves on doing this for Nick in the finale, inspired by Schmidt's more delusional version of "White Fang-ing" (as he calls it) in relation to Cece.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The majority of the episodes consist of a single-word title. And when they don't, you get things like "Quick Hardening Caulk" and "Downton Abbey Christmas Special (Part II)," which is not even a Christmas episode.
- Idiot Ball: They pass it around from episode to episode, each taking turns being grounded while everyone else is a lunatic. Jess notably grabs it tightly in "Sister II." Not only does she think it's a good idea to use Nick to lie to and distract her sister (when she knows full well the man cannot tell a lie to save his life), but when Nick suggests that maybe they set Abby up with a guy, Jess thinks Winston is a good idea (this is after seeing Abby psychologically destroy him for giggles).
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...:
- Non-romantic example:Jess's mom: (to Cece) Give my daughter drugs again and I will end you.
- Another non-romantic example wherein Cece basically introduces herself to Jess' roommates by explaining that if they let anything bad happen to her "I will come in here and crazy-murder you."
- Also Cece's grandma has one for Schmidt:Cece's grandma: If you hurt her, I will let myself die then I will haunt you.
- Non-romantic example:
- Inelegant Blubbering: Both Paul and his girlfriend are "ugly criers."
- Intoxication Ensues:
- After Nick hurts his back, he ends up on pain pills intended for women with super-heavy menstruation cramps.Nick: Question: Am I wearing a hat?
- Turns out talking about hats is a "Nick is really blasted" standby.
- Jess on painkillers. It comes with Judy Garland impressions, giggly attempts at assault, and a strange fixation with mustard.
- After Nick hurts his back, he ends up on pain pills intended for women with super-heavy menstruation cramps.
- Involuntary Dance:
- At the rebranding party for his recovered penis, Schmidt dances with twirling fire batons. "I'm not actually sure how to stop this. I'm very apologetic. I think everyone should leave." And then he nearly sets the bar/Robby's face on fire.
- Cece's model friends sing a Russian cracker jingle at Jess and make her dance like a monkey from the commercial repeatedly.
- Some mobsters get worried Nick is a cop when he nervous-sweats and make him strip down to his underwear and dance to shake out the wire they think he's wearing.
- Jerkass: Schmidt is portrayed as so egotistical and obnoxious that the others force him to pay a fine whenever he did or said something inappropriate (even after being warned several times not to). The truth is, back when he was overweight, he was a caring, lovable dork people —especially girls— never really noticed. Even after slimming down, he still has insecurities he tries to hide under the mask of (what he thinks is) an alpha male. It takes ex-girlfriend Elizabeth (the only girl with whom he's been in a long-term relationship) and the impending wedding of Cece and Shivrang for him to start to revert back to the good guy he originally was.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: It's shown that much of Schmidt's nagging is because he wants the best for his family/friends. For instance, he mocks Winston's current choice of girlfriends because he envisions Winston being in his wedding photos with someone much more successful. And while he dislikes cats, he apparently has made an effort to like Furguson because he's Winston's cat.
- Kavorka Man: Nick is characterized as an incredibly slovenly man with no style, yet he's able to effortlessly have one-night-stands with beautiful women he meets at the bar.
- Kids Play Matchmaker: Jess has been trying to trick her divorced parents into getting back together throughout her life.
- The Lad-ette:
- Sadie's wife Melissa — crass, flirty, likes a drink.
- Nick often goes for this type of girl (Julia, Angie, Kai, and even Reagan to an extent). Ironically, his main Love Interest is the super-girly Jess.
- Large Ham: Winston's strategy for getting a girl out of the apartment involves a dramatic monologue about his love affair with Nick.
- Large Ham Title: Fawn Moscato advises Jess to include her job title when introducing herself "like it's the second half of your name" and when Jess addresses her as "Fawn...", Fawn instantly corrects her with "Councilwoman", It's later revealed that her name on her phone is "Fawn Moscato, City Council".
- Laughing Mad: "My shoes are filled with blood!" And then she cackles insanely before having to be carried away.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Cece has a moment of this when she's let Winston pressure her into his Zany Scheme to make K.C. cry:Cece: (with little conviction) K.C., um, I really wish I didn't have to be the one to tell you this, but Winston is dead.
K.C.: Wait, what?
Cece: (embarrassed) Yeah, uh...
K.C.: Oh, my God!
Cece: Uh, yeah, he...
K.C.: Oh, my God!
[Handsome guy comes out and joins K.C. on her porch]
Handsome guy: (concerned; to K.C.) You okay, babe?
Cece: (startled) Oh, the...? [eyes narrow] So, you were...? [gets dangerous] Well, then, um, K.C., you should know that Winston's last words, right before the truck—
Cece: —hit him, were, um, "This is all KC's fault. And I wouldn't be dead if it wasn't for her."
- Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Jess (bright, cheerful, and colorful elementary school teacher) and her best friend Cece (distant, fashionable model).
- Like an Old Married Couple: Jess and Nick. They literally bicker about milk.
- Like Brother and Sister: Jess and Schmidt. The prospect of them hooking up has become an object of shame and disgust to them and everyone who knows them.Many of their plots together use this dynamic.
- Living Emotional Crutch: Nick's worried he's become this for Jess.
- Local Hangout: That unnamed bar where Nick works.
- Long List: On a date with Schmidt, Cece's Russian roommate Nadia starts rattling off things she likes about America:
- Love Allegory: Haunted houses.
- Love You and Everybody: Very early on, Jess tells her ex that she doesn't need his faux supportiveness because she has her new roommates, who she may hardly know but she loves. Nick lights up there for a second.
- Magical Asian: Played for comedy with Tran, whom Nick treats as a wise sage and close friend even though Tran doesn't speak. Nick holds one-sided conversations with him while Tran just smiles back at him. Nick interprets his expressions as responses, which inevitably lead to a "Eureka!" Moment for Nick. It's never made clear whether Tran is intentionally sending nonverbal messages to Nick or if he's just a blank canvas for Nick to make self-reflections. For all we know, Tran has no idea what Nick is saying.
- Magical Negro: Schmidt believes that, because of her brown skin, Cece has the wisdom of a thousand white women.
- Maligned Mixed Marriage: Schmidt (Jewish-American) and Cece (Indian-American)'s engagement throughout season 5 — Cece's mother Priyanka disapproves of Schmidt because he is not Indian. To a lesser extent, Louise jokes that she wouldn't let Cece date Schmidt because she isn't Jewish, although she doesn't make a fuss about the wedding and is an interracial relationship herself.
- Makes Just as Much Sense in Context: A lot of the flashbacks. Actually, they might even make less sense in context, somehow.
- Mama Bear: Jess actually calls Cece this in regards to how she can be very protective of Jess when Cece is feeling insecure about her ability to take care of her fiancée.
- Manchild: Paul acts like this sometimes, being an elementary school teacher.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl:
- Inverted, and then Subverted. First it seems like Jess is the messed up girl that needs help from more adult, serious guys. Then quickly the guys are shown not to have it together as much it might seem.
- Angie, Nick's stripper girlfriend. It gets pointed out that her spontaneity brings Nick out of himself. Subverted in that her mania terrifies him despite his efforts to convince himself otherwise, and she doesn't have it in her to rein it in, so she leaves him.
- It's ultimately subverted in Nick and Jess's relationship. Nick in general doesn't take care of himself and has little motivation to improve. Jess tries to take care of him, but in a motherly way. She doesn't actively find him attractive until she sees him showing initiative at work and when they get together Nick starts taking better care of himself for her sake.
- Played with and (for the moment) straight with Sam. He outright calls her out on how destructive Jesse has been on his life. But also how he can't stop thinking about her despite his anger.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy:
- Combined with Gender Flip of stereotypical rom-com archetypes, this describes Schmidt and Cece's relationship. He's flighty, emotional, and neurotic while at the same time working a serious suit-and-tie job. She's emotionally private, somewhat quiet/serious, and mostly stable while working a feminine job (modeling and bartending). Schmidt does a lot of the cooking, general shopping, and finances, all stereotypical female tasks while Cece tends to approach those things in more stereotypical male ways—poorly, disinterestedly, or not at all. Whereas Schmidt tries to be crafty in his problem-solving, Cece deals with things more physically.
- Winston and Aly, especially when they meet for the first time. Nick and Coach think Winston is too frail and gentle to be a cop, but his partner Aly proves to be strong and badass enough to defend herself, despite her short stature.
- Schmidt has a similar relationship with Fawn Moscato in Season 4. When he's freaking out because he has a spider on his face, and she simply walks up to him, slaps it off his face and stamps on it.
- MetaphorgottenSchmidt: Nick is delicate, like a flower. A chubby, damaged flower who hates himself.
- When Cece and Schmidt can't get left alone long enough to have sex:Cece: We've got no privacy, and (seductively) it has been way, way, way too long since Mama got her biscuits.
Schmidt: (smiling) And the biscuits are rising.
Cece: I hope they stick to the pan and get a little brown...on the bottom.
Schmidt: ...I'm gonna be honest. That went right over my head. I just didn't get it. I don't know, I don't know where you're going with it.
- And later still:Schmidt: (smirking) The biscuits are ready.
Cece: (very seductively) Well, did you make enough for Cousin Andy?
Schmidt: ...I'm—I'm gonna tell you the truth. I don't get that one, either. Who the hell is Cousin Andy?
- And later still:
- When Cece and Schmidt can't get left alone long enough to have sex:
- Meaningful Echo: In 'Virgins'.Jess: It was the heat of the moment, I didn't have to think about it.
Jess: What are you doing?
Nick: [sweeps her off her feet] Let's not think about it.
- Mistaken for Fake Hair: "Wig": In order to get Nick to loosen up around their beautiful temporary roommate Reagan, Schmidt and Cece make up a (fake) innocuous flaw: Reagan's hair is a wig. This appears to work until Nick tries to smell her hair.
- Mistaken for Prostitute: This happens when Nick rents the loft out to tourists, but then has sex with one of them and decides he can't charge her for the room, but then decides that he has to. Justified, as you can see where she's coming from:Nick: Hey, Kumiko. Can I have a minute of your time? I had a...I enjoyed our special time today. I haven't taken my pants off in front of a woman in quite some time. I'm sorry that the pretzel fell out. That was unexpected. I honestly don't know how long it was in my underpants, and that was disturbing to me. Thank you for not overreacting to it. I'm here to talk about money. American currency. (uncomfortable) Our special time was...not included, financially, in the room rate. 'Cause I'm running a business. And I can't be soft here.
Kumiko: [nodding] I understand. I give you money.
Nick: Thank you for being so cool! That's what...Yes.
Kumiko: You are prostitute. [Nick looks horrified] Working boy.
Nick: No, no. I want sex.
Kumiko: You want sex.
Nick: But need money.
- Modesty Bedsheet:
- Used in one memorable case when Cece wrapped up in Schmidt's blankets before walking out into a living room full of his roommates. Of course, why she didn't just put on her own clothes, or even his, before wandering around in front of his friends is another question.
- When they were trapped naked in the back of Schmidt's car with Winston driving to Mexico, he had strategically placed fuzzy dice, she had a road map.
- In yet another case of this trope defeating its own purpose on this show, Schmidt wraps a small sheet around himself and comes into the kitchen to complain to the others about how he'd been unsuccessful in "getting something going with myself." With his bedroom door open.
- Moment Killer:
- In Quick Hardening Caulk, Jess and Nick are attempting to have angry sex, but in the process accidentally smash Schmidt's new fish tank. Both miffed, they go to their rooms. Doesn't stop them from coming back out seconds later to make out some more.
- "Wig": Schmidt and Cece are continually about to have sex when Nick comes in to their room to eat his dinner, because he's too intimidated by Reagan to eat in front of her. In the closing credits sequence, they've managed to get as far as being naked in bed, when Nick comes in to their room to eat his burrito, not because he's still intimidated by Reagan, but because "I've just gotten used to eating in here." Upon which Reagan comes in to eat her burrito, because her room has been trashed by her ex-girlfriend Camilla, and "This is where we eat, right?" She turns out to be as messy an eater as Nick is, if not more so. And then Winston comes in, with his own dinner, and promptly spills it all over Schmidt and Cece's bed.
- Mood Whiplash:
- During Cece's pregnancy scare.Schmidt: You are an amazing woman, and you are going to do and be so many amazing things in this life. Maybe you'll be a mom, and maybe... maybe not, but I will support you no matter what.
Cece: (softly) Thank you.
Schmidt: I also just wanna give you a quick heads up. I'm probably gonna be going on the internet before we have sex again, because I, I just don't want to impregnate the baby. You know? I mean, we could have a Russian nesting doll situation on our hands.
- After Nick has finally taught Schmidt how to do laundry, and Winston how to use a ruler, they thank him and ask if there's anything he can't do. After saying he can't pronounce "February," he slips in the fact that he can't feel love.
- During Cece's pregnancy scare.
- Mr. Fixit: Nick bodges everything back to working order, instead of calling repairmen.
- Mr. Fanservice: Schmidt is proud of his appearance and likes to show off, getting a lot of Shirtless Scenes, especially in early seasons.
- Ms. Fanservice: Cece. Justified. After all, she's a model. Makes sense that they wind up together.
- My Card: In "Fired Up," Winston, pretending to be a lawyer, gives his card to some real lawyers in case they want to "play with the big boys." After he leaves, they notice it's a baseball card.
- My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Jess wants a baby. Cece doesn't at present but doesn't take it well when it sounds like the option might be closed to her. Judging by his contribution to the discussion, Nick wants a baby too.
- Naked Apron: Schmidt, of course. But with one of Jess' aprons.
- Naked People Are Funny: Fawn never wears underwear when she's networking because it "gives you a secret. An edge." This causes a problem for her later when she bends over in a short skirt, on a golf course, to pick up a ball, with the cameras rolling.Jess: Wow! Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no! Fawn, Fawn, Fawn, Fawn, Fawn, Fawn, Fawn.
Fawn: What? What's going on?
Jess: You're not wearing any, uh...
Onlooker: Each one's like a snowflake.
[Cut to Fawn on the phone in the loft]
Fawn: (very angry) What do you mean there's a meme? It speaks? Well, what does it say? Oh, well, that is just crass.
- Necktie Headband: Jess, as part of a wildly mismatching costume constructed out of sheer boredom.
- Nerd Nanny: They take turns. Even Jess!
- Nice Guy: Robby. Cece doesn't take too kindly to him dubbing her a "nice girl."
- Nice Guys Finish Last: Robby. As Schmidt makes clear to him whenever he gets the chance.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Played for laughs and, bizarrely, for heartwarming, when the gang persuades Reagan to be honest with Camilla about her reasons for breaking up with her, and Camilla pretends to be fine with it, but then goes batshit crazy and starts trashing Reagan's room.Reagan: Telling the truth works.
Nick: Yeah, it did.
Reagan: Good job.
Winston: Wait, wait, wait, wait for it.
Camilla: [offscreen, in Reagan's room] Freaking bitch! I hate you! I hate you so much! [sounds of destruction]
Winston: Yeah, it's the old "I left my sweater" trick. Let me tell you something, folks, I've played that song before.
Reagan: All right, well, this obviously turned out to be—a huge disaster.
Camilla: I hate you so much!
Reagan: But thank you.
Camilla: Try sleeping on an upside-down bed!
Reagan: I'm proud of you. All of you. I mean, you guys could've bailed on me, but you didn't. You stuck around, and you helped me lie to a psychotic woman who is now destroying all of my stuff.
- No Full Name Given: Schmidt, as that is obviously a last name and not his first. We don't even learn his name in the episode with his cousin, who also goes by "Schmidt". Even when he gets engaged and has an encounter with his estranged father, we still don't hear his name, either because it's cut off by another sound or it's just never used when addressing him. His wedding invitation is partially blocked by another document when it appears on screen. His first name is eventually revealed to be Winston.
- No Sparks: In "Tomatoes," Jess breaks up with Russell when she realizes she'll never have the passion she wants with him.
- Noble Male, Roguish Male: Nick and Schmidt. The former is emotional, unused to casual flings, and dislikes "throwing a woman out like a piece of meat;" the latter identifies that as exactly his problem and coaches him on how to be a douchebag.
- Noisy Shut-Up: Winston in "Secrets".
- Noodle Incident:
- Jess' Uncle Randy is a perfectly normal man who lives with his mother and is totally allowed to go near parks since being cleared.
- At Nick's father's funeral, his mother asks Winston to say a few words about Nick's dad, but to not mention the felony conviction, Paraguay, or the storage space.
- DON'T ASK ABOUT THE DUFFLE BAG.
- Cece mentions one of the secrets she told Jess: "I had to give it a try, Jess. I mean that was the same hand that was inside Elmo."
- Jess alludes to a terrifying-sounding one that fortunately only happened inside her head:Schmidt: Nadia's baby is teething. Have you ever heard a Russian child scream?
Jess: All the time, in my Putin nightmare.
- Not What It Looks Like: Played for laughs in "Reagan": Nick has tried to convert the bathroom shower into a rain shower, in order to please hot new potential flatmate Reagan, who (it's been established) once hooked up with Cece, which situation Schmidt has spent the entire episode successfully getting over, although Cece and Reagan are no longer attracted to each other. In The Stinger, Reagan is installed as the new flatmate and is brushing her teeth in the bathroom one morning when Cece comes in to have a shower. Unbeknownst to Cece, the shower is a total shambles.Cece: [wearing only a towel] Hey.
Reagan: [in t-shirt and shorts] Hi.
[Cece enters the shower and it starts spraying her with too-hot water]
Cece: Oh, no! Help me, Reagan! I don't know how to turn it off!
Reagan: [plunging into the shower to help Cece; they are both concealed from view by the shower curtain] Oh, my!
Cece: The handle, it's too tight!
Reagan: Let's try it together!
[Schmidt comes in and sees the shower curtain jiggling, and stands there, listening, smiling tolerantly]
Cece: It's so wet!
Reagan: I can't—I can't get a grip on it!
Cece: No, is this, is this hot? Hmm.
Reagan: Yeah, that's hot.
[Schmidt stands there with an increasingly fixed and patient smile on his face]
Cece: Aah, yeah, that's hot! Oh, God, it's too wet and slippery! No, Reagan, just if you put your—
Reagan: I'm gonna use my teeth!
Schmidt: Okay. [leaves]
- Now, Let Me Carry You: The give-and-take of Nick and Jess' relationship.
- Object Ceiling Cling: A shishkebab that is stuck to the ceiling in the living room, with the caveat that Schmidt & Nick have a bet about when it falls down. It falls off moments later, with Nick winning the bet, and forcing Schmidt to be his 'slave for 17 days'.
- Oblivious to Love: When she was a kid, there was a boy named Eduardo who had a crush on Jess who thinks he has a crush on Cece.
- Odd Friendship:
- Model sophisticate Cece and socially awkward Jess. There's even an episode lampshading the oddity of this friendship.
- Miserable, people-hating cynic Nick and adorable optimist Jess seem to be very close too.
- Oh, Crap!:
- An overstimulated/drunk Schmidt throws his boss in the pool at her baby shower. Everyone (also overstimulated and drunk) freeze and stare in horror as Schmidt nearly vomits in horror. Then she pops up and yells "I'm having a baby!" and the party starts roaring again.
- Nick upon realizing that he just accidentally punched Jess in the face. He spends most of the rest of the episode screaming.
- Once an Episode:
- In each of the first four episodes, the roommates do something embarrassing or un-manly in support of Jess: singing songs from Dirty Dancing in public, wearing her hats, dancing in slow-motion, and using the feeling stick.
- Inverted in Bully, where Winston insulting one of her students on her behalf to the kid's parents and Nick tearfully protesting a threat to have her face disciplinary action just make Jess' situation worse.
- One-Note Cook: Nick can only cook one thing, his family's famous Sauce, which looks like a bolognese sauce but which includes such ingredients as chives, sprinkles, half a bottle of mustard and excessive amounts of mayonnaise. Somehow, it tastes amazing.Fawn Moscato: This tastes like the inside of a bear, and that is a compliment, my friend.
- One Steve Limit:
- She isn't seen, but it's averted when Cece and Jess discuss a "Jessica freaking P." they went to school with as kids.
- Schmidt's cousin Schmidt.
- Jess' dad and a particular incredibly supportive coworker of Nick's are both named Bob, and Nick's also got a cousin named Bobby.
- Actually enforced between Winston and Schmidt who have the same given name and this has proven to be a point of contention between the two of them. That said, this is as much for practical reasons as anything else as shown when Cece tries to use Schmidt's first name while getting intimate with him and both immediately get repulsed due to the strong association towards Winston.
- Only Sane Man: When she's in the room, usually Cece. For the loft dwellers, it was originally Winston, until he's flanderized into a Cloudcuckoolander around season 3. Nick subverts this trope, as he initially has many of the hallmarks associated with it, but as the show progresses his... eccentricities become more and more obvious. Eventually, the only way you'd really recognize Nick's role as the sane one is by his absence, because Schmidt and Winston get up to some stuff together when he's not around that would be bizarre even by Nick's standard (mostly due to his habit of shootings ideas down out of cynicism).
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: In Season 4's "Spiderhunt", Jess thinks that Cece is secretly in love with Nick, but Nick thinks that Cece has persuaded Jess to urge him to get a popcorn machine for the bar. The result is a spectacularly unfortunate Overly Long Gag:Jess: You know who's great? Cece.
Nick: One of our finest. Lovely woman.
Jess: And she has so much to offer.
Nick: Is that what this is about? She sends you to sell me on it?
Jess: No, Nick. She doesn't know I'm talking to you at all. —Wait. You guys have talked about it?
Nick: All the time. But I thought she and I had come to a decision.
Jess: Which is?
Nick: It's not happening.
Jess: Well, why not?
Nick: 'Cause I'm not interested. And I know it's not cool to say, but I don't like the way it would look.
Jess: People are gonna say what they're gonna say. They're not reasons - not to go through with it.
Nick: Fine. You want to know my biggest concern? My biggest concern is the smell.
Jess: (deeply offended) The smell?
Nick: The smell of it. Yeah, and it's not Cece's fault. I mean, they all smell. I've told her that.
Jess: You told Cece you think all women—
Nick: Don't make this - a feminist thing. It—
Jess: I'm not making it a feminist thing.
Nick: How? They smell terrible. It's common knowledge.
Jess: I thought your biggest concern would be how it affected the people around you.
Nick: I mean, sure, a bunch of old drunks will grab at it—
Jess: But if your biggest concern is the smell, I'm sure that's highly manageable.
Nick: Yeah, I guess there's, like, special solvents and soaps. I, I haven't read up on it that much. You know, but you got to really get in there and scrub it out. It's disgusting. You know, 'cause of the daily wear and tear and oil and grease just cooking in there. It's enough to make a man barf thinking about it. I mean, they get really hot.
Jess: I know what temperature it gets.
Nick: Hot. But if I'm being honest, you know...And I haven't talked to her about this, but I do have good memories associated with the smell. Ball games, the circus, hanging with my dad.
Jess: Listen here, you idiot. I've known Cece a very long time, and I can promise you, the smell will not be a problem.
Nick: That's really easy for you to say, 'cause you're not the one who's gonna have to remind her to clean it all the time.
Jess: I promise you, if it becomes a problem — I will remind her.
Nick: Well, if you remind her and she doesn't do it, I don't want you sneaking around and cleaning it yourself.
Jess: Nick. I'm a good friend, but I am not that good of a friend.
- The One Guy: Schmidt is this at his workplace. His status is typically shown using typical one-female-among-many-males workplace tropes such as co-workers dismissing his work due to being a different gender, superiors sexually harassing him, and so forth rather than shown as some sort of dream job. In addition, these situations are also subverted in that they are typically shown as the truly harmful behaviors they are in order to bring light of the Double Standard—Schmidt doesn't like being the first choice for the office holiday party's slutty Santa, for instance, as he feels it belittles him even if it does give him a chance to socialize and network.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Jess is generally pretty gentle, so on those occasions where she does raise her voice or throw her weight around, the others are taken aback and stop offering resistance because this is obviously a big deal.
- Operation: Jealousy: Two episodes in a row, Schmidt did this to Cece. It's also the objective of his mission to get a plus-one to her wedding.
- Opposites Attract:
- Jess' parents. It doesn't end well.
- Jess and Nick, but less so than her parents in that the younger two can actually tolerate each other.
- Out of Order: Sadie's introductory episode, "Injured", aired after her first appearance on the show, with some bad ADR to pave over the cracks.
- Overly Long Gag: When Nick and Cece fight:Nick: Bottom of the glass fell clean off. It was a science miracle.
Cece: (exasperated) No, the glass was hot, and the ice made the glass contract, and that is why it broke. Not funny the first six times, and not funny now, 'cause, guess what, Nick Miller—not always funny.
Winston: (shocked) Whoa. He's so funny. [to Nick] You're so funny.
Nick: I'm...you don't have to hold me back. There's not a problem. Say what you got to say. You want to say anything else, say it.
Cece: Not always funny.
Nick: Say it to my face.
Cece: Not always funny.
Nick: Say it again.
Cece: Not always funny.
Nick: Say it again.
Cece: Not always funny.
Nick: Say it again.
Cece: [glaring at him, whispering] Not always funny.
Nick: [glaring back, whispering] Say it again.
Cece: [mouthing the words only] Not always funny.
Nick: [likewise mouthing it]' Say it again.
- Cece seems to be attracting these in later seasons:Winston: So, Sam said he spilled on the bird shirt and he had to take it off. He's putting on a brave face, but, poor thing, I know he is just crushed.
Winston: What, babe?
Cece: He doesn't like the shirt.
Winston: No, babe.
Cece: Yeah, babe.
Winston: No, babe.
Cece: Yeah, babe.
Winston: No babe.
Cece: Yeah babe.
Winston: No, babe.
Cece: Yeah, babe.
Winston: No babe.
Cece: Yeah babe.
Winston: (whispering) No.
Cece: (whispering) Yeah.
Winston: (inaudible) Babe.
- Cece seems to be attracting these in later seasons:
- Overly Narrow Superlative: Reagan gives one in response to the gang urging her to move in with them.Reagan: This is actually the kindest, creepiest thing that a group of people I've only known for four hours has ever done for me.
- Over-the-Shoulder Carry: Schmidt drags Cece away from a fight with another woman this way.
- Overprotective Dad: BOB DAY.
- Parental Substitute: The crew can be this to varying degrees for each other. Schmidt is the most obvious with his homemaking but one episode revolves around the attention Nick gives Schmidt and vice versa and the jealousy Cece feels over the fact that Schmidt loves Nick (platonically) like family.
- Parents as People: Jess' parents. Jess is abnormally comfortable with their identities outside of their roles as Mom and Dad, actively encouraging their sex lives, dispensing romantic advice, and making retirement plans to be crazy cat ladies with her mother.
- Pep-Talk Song:
- One of Jess' quirks is her tendency to give herself songs meant to boost her own confidence.Jess: She's goin' out to find a rebound... Who's that girl? It's Jess!
Nick: Wait, did you make up a theme song for yourself?
- Nick's video to future Nick about staying away from Caroline also includes him singing a song where the only lyrics the audience hears are "You are special you are special."
- One of Jess' quirks is her tendency to give herself songs meant to boost her own confidence.
- Periphery Demographic: In-Universe. Nick's Pepperwood books finally get published. Their main audience is not fans of detective fiction, but teenage girl Shippers who are invested in Jessica Knight and Julius Pepperwood's Will They or Won't They? relationship.
- Platonic Life-Partners: Winston and Cece. It starts off by them teaming up for Winston's one and only successful prank in season 4 and evolves to the point that Cece asks Winston to be one of her bridesmaids.
- Plot-Inciting Infidelity: The series begins with Jessica Day coming home early to surprise her boyfriend while wearing nothing but a trenchcoat (and a ribbon). Unfortunately for her, he's cheating on her with another girl and she winds up moving out, leading to the Roommate Com premise of the show.
- Potty Failure: Season 1 was a random marathon runner who pushed between Cece and Jess.
- Precocious Crush:
- When Jess babysits Russell's daughter Sarah, she winds up developing a crush on Nick for the episode. Also, in Season 3, Winston unintentionally attracts the attention of several middle school girls when the gang help Jess chaperone a school dance.
- The young girl who buys a copy of Nick's book sits next to Jess, sighs and says she loves Nick's face. Jess looks at her with pity and says, "Oh, your life is going to be so hard."
- Product Placement: Although the focus is on Jess's physical comedy, one scene in "Models" is literally a commercial for the Ford Fusion.
- Pretentious Pronunciation: Schmidt's pronunciation of the word chutney. He pronounces it chuh-te-nay. In several episodes.
- "You know what happens? Schmidt Happens!" Later in the same scene:Schmidt: Thumb ring, bitch! You got some Schmidt on your face!
- Daniel Boone has three ears (left, right, and frontEAR), See Cece Run, Registered Sex Defender, Reigning Cats and Dogs, Bee Arthur, Casseroll, Quick Hardening Caulk...this show loves its puns.
- "You know what happens? Schmidt Happens!" Later in the same scene:
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "SPENCER. WORE. JELLIES."
- Put on a Bus: Due to the unexpected renewal of Damon Wayans Jr.'s series Happy Endings, his character Coach was sent away after the pilot and replaced with Winston (who had lived there before with Nick and Schmidt, thus keeping Jess as the titular "New Girl"). He returned in season 3.
- Quirky Girl, Quirky Tux: The "brake for birds" polka-dot loving first grade teacher Jess Day wears a suit, or at least a tux jacket, quite frequently, and notably a full one to her dad's wedding in season 4.
- Random Events Plot: A lot of the early episodes are a sequence of thrown-together character scenes that don't prioritize punchlines.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: After Nick spends all day disapproving of Paul, Jess gives us this gem:Jess: I want to have sex with him big time! Big time! I want to take him down to Chinatown and slice him off a piece of this pumpkin pie, okay? I want to do all the things that you do in a bedroom with him! I want to do it standing up and sitting down and half-up and half-down and the Wiggly One and the Bear Attack and the claws in the head and the one that figure skaters do and the "what's for lunch?" and the "gimme that hat!" The point is that I'm good. I'm really good and I don't care what you think!
- Real Men Cook: Schmidt. It's acknowledged time and time again that he's an excellent all-around cook. He and Jess share the title when it comes to baking.
- Real Men Wear Pink:
- For all that they have some typically male tendencies and insecurities, the three guys have never exhibited any trouble hugging each other, telling each other or other people they love them, or crying. Schmidt in particular is also not averse to kissing his male friends (although Nick tells him multiple times to stop "Fredo-kissing" him when they think that Nick has cancer). There's also his cooking, Winston's comfort with girl talk, and Nick's claim to be good with babies.
- Winston's a nanny for a while, and he and the kid Elvin are total buddies.
- Schmidt and Nick have a moment in public to which someone asks "Are they in love?". Cecee unhesistantly remarks "Absolutely."
- Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Julia makes this claim to Jess. Jess does not take it kindly.
- Really Gets Around:
- Schmidt, and possibly Cece.
- Nick, for awhile there.
- Recurring Character: Tanya (Jess' boss), Remy the landlord, Sadie, Sid (a strange and silent regular at Nick's bar), Nadia (Cece's weird model roommate), Schmidt's various superiors at work, Outside Dave the belligerent homeless man, Tran the silently supportive Asian water massage therapist, and some of the love interests.
- Relationship Revolving Door
- Schmidt and Cece. At first they were casually hooking up, then they stopped when feelings got involved, then they were dating, then they broke up, then Schmidt declared his love for her, then Cece decided they weren't working, then they were friends with benefits, then she got engaged to someone else, then she broke off the wedding because she liked Schmidt, at which point they get together again... only for her to dump him when she learns he never broke up with his ex and had been dating them both. After a year in which a remorseful Schmidt rehabbed their friendship and supported her through her life changes, she falls back in love with him and accepts his marriage proposal in season 4. It's been a complicated story.
- Off-screen, Nick and Caroline. Before the series began, she had dumped him three times. They get back together and break up at the end of the first season.
- Relationship Upgrade: Jess and Nick wrangle with this for the second half of season 2 and finally embrace it in the finale.
- Reset Button: After the "Sister" trilogy of episodes, Schmidt is left nearly broke by his reckless financial investments, and is forced to move back into the loft. Though not a perfect reset, as Coach is still around.
- Retcon: In the pilot, Jess says the word "penis." In the fourth episode, she is unable to say it. (Then again, it was a little sing-songy in the first episode.) Her difficulty with saying "penis" in episode 4 was probably because of the awkwardness of the situation.
- Ridiculous Procrastinator: Nick goes to truly extreme lengths just to avoid writing his zombie novel such as dropping his laptop on purpose and going on a drunk excursion to the zoo.
- Right Through the Wall:
- Winston says he's heard Jess taking care of herself through the wall before.
- Jess congratulates one of Schmidt's one night stands and jokes that the walls are very thin... haha, just kidding, they're actually very thick and she's just incredibly loud.
- Road Trip Plot: Two or three times.
- Roommate Com: The premise of the show is that Jessica Day, socially awkward young woman who is fresh out of a break-up with her ex-boyfriend, persuades a trio of men to let her move in with them.
- Running Gag:
- "Douchebag jar!" Twice in "The Story of the 50" we get montages of Schmidt walking in and saying things that force him to put money in the jar. And in one case, he doesn't even have to say anything at all. When Cece has a pregnancy scare, Jess suggests "We could get it, like, a douchebaby jar."
- Schmidt and an apparent love/preference for anything Asian.
- Winston's love of bubbles.
- Nick's inability to keep a secret.
- Nick is amazing at pranks. Winston is terrible at them.
- Sarcasm Mode
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Nick really can't handle haunted houses. Or clowns.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Schimdt has to choose between Elizabeth and Cece in the Season 2 Finale. Guess what he does?
- Second Episode Introduction: Winston, the Second Episode Substitute for Coach, who was Put on a Bus.
- Secretly Wealthy: Kai, Tran's granddaughter. She's so eccentric that people think she's actually homeless.
- Secret Relationship: Schmidt and Cece initially, at Cece's insistence. However, in "Fancyman, Part 2" they're discovered by Winston after he steals Schmidt's car while they're having sex in the back of it, drives to Mexico, and is stopped and searched by U.S. Customs on the way back. Then, in the next episode, Winston tells Nick, and...
- Security Cling: That's how Nick and Jess deal with coyotes.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Two sets of the guys in the main cast.
- The "male Team Mom" Schmidt who places extreme importance on caring friendships, sharply contrasted with his rigidly non-sentimental long-time friend Nick who hedges a mostly impenetrable wall around his heart. Nick makes it clear how he thinks men should (not) relate, a rigid "manly" stereotype unthinkable to Schmidt:Nick: We're men, Schmidt. The only time a man is allowed to think about another man is when that man is Jay Cutler.
—->Schmidt: And I also don't know what is allowed in the Cold-Hearted Republic of Nick Miller, but I do know how I feel.
- Winston, mediocre basketball player who has emotional intelligence, contrasted with the alpha-level personal trainer Coach who sublet for him. Coach has tried in the past to toughen up Winston into a better athlete.
- The "male Team Mom" Schmidt who places extreme importance on caring friendships, sharply contrasted with his rigidly non-sentimental long-time friend Nick who hedges a mostly impenetrable wall around his heart. Nick makes it clear how he thinks men should (not) relate, a rigid "manly" stereotype unthinkable to Schmidt:
- Sex God: For all his Small Name, Big Ego qualities, Schmidt is certified by both Cece (who practically can't help having sex with Schmidt) and Sadie (a lesbian gynecologist who Schmidt manages to turn on by describing what he does in bed) to be a "vagenius." His boss even explicitly picks him to be her sex partner because of his sterling reputation!
- Sexy Shirt Switch: Half the purpose of Nick's flannels seems to be so that we can see girls wearing them.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Schmidt and Coach's reaction when they see Jess in the Little Black Dress her friend Cece helps her pick out... a reaction which is killed soon after, when Jess breaks into a celebratory dance. This happens again in Episode 3, when Jess is wearing her "Who let the dirty slut out of the slut house?" dress, but promptly kills the reaction again when she dons a pair of false buck teeth and puts on a fake Cockney accent.Nick: I forgot what you looked like when you're not dressed as the loft troll.
- Ship Tease:
- Schmidt and Cece get a bit of this during their Holding Hands scene. Also later on when she tries on the perfume he got her.
- Schmidt and Jess get one on his 29th birthday.
- Jess almost wanting to have a one night stand with Schmidt... which ends up happening between Schmidt and Cece.
- Nick and Jess, as well as Schmidt "Fredo kissing" Nick twice, in "Injury."
- Nick and Schmidt while doing an "exercise" in how to get rid of one night stands, when Jess walks in on them (shortly after finding out about Cece/Schmidt) and is understandably confused.
- Shipper on Deck:
- Cece for Nick/Jess and Jess for Schmidt/Cece.
- Nick's mom seemed to be leaning in favor of Nick/Jess by the end of her appearance.
- Shoo the Dog: Schmidt calls it "White Fang-ing", and when he breaks up with Cece since she'd be better off, he even yells at her like she's a dog he's trying to scare away. Cece realizes immediately what he's doing, but dumps him anyway when he lets it slip he looked at her phone behind her back.
- To Footloose in "Cece Crashes":Nick: I don't dance. I'm from the town in Footloose.
- Schmidt "Fredo-kissing" Nick in Injured
- The show is sprinkled with recurring references to The Golden Girls and the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
- So in addition to being an unlikely fan of The Wire and The Walking Dead, Jess is also an unlikely fan of Army of Darkness.
- To Homeland:Schmidt: (while trying to distract someone) Look, it's Abu Nazir!
- Schmidt might get another to Veronica Mars when he says "[This apartment] smells like Tijuana." Tijuana was a frequent plot point in VM, where the actor played a cop.
- The season 2 finale contains a lot of subtle homages to The Graduate.
- Coach whose real name is Ernie HAS to be one to the character of the same name in Cheers.
- To Footloose in "Cece Crashes":
- The Silent Bob: Tran. Nick holds entire conversations with him, even though for the most part he doesn't say anything back. Nick gains a lot of insight from these conversations somehow.
- Silver Vixen:
- Jess' mom. Lampshaded by Nick:"God, your moms hot."
- Nick fakes this in his role as Schmidt's wingman in "Sister", only for the grandma in question to lustily reciprocate.
- Jess' mom. Lampshaded by Nick:
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Even after they start hooking up and realizing she likes him, Cece treats Schmidt with a lot of impatience and snappishness. He's nicer to her, though — unless it involves cooking. And she likes it when he gets angry.
- Slapstick Knows No Gender: In the season 4 episode "Girl Fight", Jess and Cece have their first fight after 20 years of being friends. They beat the crap out of each other, but it culminates with Jess placing Nadia's breast pumps over Cece's eyes, giving her bruises that make her look like a raccoon.
- Sleep Cute: Nick and Jess, and Schmidt and Cece on two occasions.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: With Jess at one end and Nick at the other. The show generally settles somewhere between them.
- Slobs vs. Snobs: Schmidt's Neat Freak nature vs. everybody else, but especially Nick.
- Snake Oil Salesman: Nick's dad, Walt.
- Songs of Solace: "The River" by Joni Mitchell. (The boys hate this song with a passion.)
- Soundtrack Dissonance: "Death or Glory", a very, very British punk song, plays over the loft's first game of "True American".
- Spiritual Successor:
- To Three's Company, just gender-flipped with an extra person
- To Friends, they're a group of single 30ish people in the big city, who live in an apartment that in real life would probably be unaffordable. New Girl also shares Friends' romantic comedy leanings and love for Formerly Fat controlling characters.
- To It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, another single-camera sitcom about five somewhat-hairbrained neurotics who have a habit of lapsing into five-way, overlapping shouting matches as their personal issues explode in their faces. Given all the shared crew such as Luvh Rakhe, Rob Rosell, and the Chernin family, surely not a coincidence.
- Stacy's Mom:
- Winston flirts with Nick's mom over the phone. He also saw her naked when he was thirteen, which he claims was an accident, but Nick is convinced was by design.
- Gender Flipped with Schmidt's dad. Who has a fling with Jesse much to everyone's shock.
- Stalking Is Love: Instead of simply going to her door to apologize and ask for a second chance, Sam lurks through Jess' invitation RSVPs and follows her to several Christmas parties.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Between Cooler and the s2 finale, Nick and Jess kept being stalled by various obstacles like the other's denial, their own denial, the disapproval of roommates, the disapproval of her father, self-doubt, bad timing, before Jess finally outright states what it means to her and Nick gets it together.
- Status Quo Is God:
- The season 1 finale opens on Nick about the move out of the apartment, but he eventually breaks if off with Caroline and goes back to his friends.
- The end of season 2 has Cece getting an arranged marriage. She calls off the wedding and her fiance runs off with Elaine.
- Before the end of season 3, Jess and Nick break up and go back to being just roommates-slash-friends.
- Straight, averted, and played with in the season 4 finale: Straight when Coach moves with his girlfriend to New York, resetting the post-pilot loft arrangement. Averted when Cece accepts Schmidt's marriage proposal, at long last resolving their off-and-on status. Played with when Jess and Nick throw away their sex-signal mug to finally put their past behind them, only for both of them to individually find the mug missing after throwing it away; however, neither of them actually retrieved it, because it was Winston who took it for himself because "it was a perfectly good mug".
- Stepford Smiler: Nick, very transparently, for the first few hours after getting dumped by Julia. And in the same episode, one of Jess' students throws her relationship troubles in her face and suggests that her happiness is a mask. "I love being unemployed! I. Love. It."
- The Stinger: Usually an extended cut of a humorous scene. Examples include Schmidt practicing pickup lines into a mirror, a longer version of College Nick and Schmidt's first encounter, a longer cut of a (shirtless and fat) homeless man serenading Winston on a date, and more.
- Straight Man: Most of the insanity seems to happen around Nick.
- Straight Man and Wise Guy: Schmidt and Winston trade off in their interactions.
- Strange Minds Think Alike:
- In "Micro", Cece and Winston come up with a plan to trick Coach and Schmidt, and Winston claims that it's "a classic Cece-Winston mess around", but Cece reminds him that it's not a thing (in fact, Winston and Cece hardly had interactions before that episode). Later, when Coach finds it out, he also asks, "Was all this a classic Cece and Winston mess-around?". Ironically, their mess-arounds eventually become a Running Gag in later episodes, and even Cece embraced them.
- In "Last Thanksgiving", Nick talks to his mom while looking up, "Look at that, Mom, I'm gonna be a hero", and when Schmidt asks him why he is looking up, Nick tells him that he's looking at Chicago because Chicago is north. In a later scene, an exasperated Schmidt exclaims, while looking up, "Why is my father so sexual?", and Winston asks Nick why Schmidt is talking to Chicago.
- Stunned Silence: Jess gets this reaction from the boys sometimes.
- Stupid Sexy Friend: All three of the guys have fallen into that trap with regard to Jess, but it happens to Nick repeatedly (so much so there was an episode devoted to it). It's also happened to all the guys with regard to Cece.
- Super OCD: Possibly Schmidt, at least while he's cooking. Somewhat justified when he figures out that he and Nick have been using the same towel...and that Nick has never washed it. And that Nick sometimes wears his underwear.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
- As early as the second episode, Winston for Coach (due to Wayans contract with Happy Endings). Both are the Token Minority and with a heavy sports background. By virtue of how little we knew of Coach, Winston does have a more defined personality and a much different relationship with Jess (Coach would inadvertently make her cry by taking the direct approach; in contrast, Winston is less upfront and comforted her when she was upset with the others).
- Lampshaded in "The Landlord" by Remy, who refers to Winston as Coach.
- And Nick as Brad, possibly in reference to the character Damon Wayans Jr. left this show to return to.
- In-universe, Jess believes that Jenn, Paul's girlfriend after her, is "Asian me" due to the two women's obvious similarities. Ultimately, she decides she was something Paul happened upon on his way to Jenn, his true love.
- Take a Third Option: Schmidt has to choose between Cece and Elizabeth. Or he can secretly date them both. It ends horribly.
- Take That, Critics!: In "Jess & Julia," when Nick's new girlfriend makes dismissive comments about Jess's "whole thing" (meaning her sweet/cute/feminine style and demeanor), Jess mounts a defense that can be clearly seen as one of these toward those who have criticized the character (and Zooey Deschanel herself) as excessively girly.Jess: I brake for birds. I rock a lot of polka dots. I have touched glitter in the last 24 hours. I spend my entire day talking to children. And I find it fundamentally strange that youre not a dessert person. It freaks me out. Im sorry that I dont talk like Murphy Brown. And I hate your pants suit. I wish it had ribbons on it or something just to make it slightly cuter. But that doesnt mean Im not smart and tough and strong.
- Teach Him Anger: Cece's efforts to be supportive to Winston in Jess's absence end up being this, much to her alarm.Cece: What do you think would really break the cycle?
Winston: I just want, for once in my life, for someone to cry over me.
Cece: Right, okay, explore that.
Winston: Somebody to just cry because of... That's a great idea, Cece!
Cece: It is?
Winston: Yes! This is what I'm gonna do. We're gonna make KC cry over me.
Cece: Oh, no, no, that's not, that's not where I thought you were going—
Winston: (excited) We're gonna make a girl cry today!
- It works (see Let's Get Dangerous! above) but Cece worries that Winston will take it too far:Winston: The cycle is broken! It's a whole new day. From now on, the woman I'm in a relationship with is gonna be crying over me!
Cece: That shouldn't be the goal, though.
- It works (see Let's Get Dangerous! above) but Cece worries that Winston will take it too far:
- Team Mom:
- Schmidt, hilariously enough. That said, he's kind of an overbearing, somewhat vitrolic, sort of mother, just like his own mom is to him when we meet her.
- Jess to her students, or when her friends are in trouble/being idiots. Nick remarks on her tendency to take care of everybody.
- The Tell: Nick sweats uncontrollably whenever he's hiding something.Schmidt: Sweatback? You told Sweatback?!
- Time Skip: "About 3 Years Later" jumps about 3 years into the future after the season 6 finale. Schmidt and Cece are parents, Winston and Ally are expecting, and Nick still hasn't proposed to Jess.
- That Came Out Wrong: All of them, all the time.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: "This makes me hate things."
- That Poor Cat: During the chaos when Jess gets her stuff back from her douche ex-.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: On several occasions.Jess: I'm going to pay this $800 fine. And my checks have baby farm animals on them, bitch!
- This Loser Is You: Nick is a bartender who dropped out of law school shortly before getting his degree, who comes off as rather bitter. Winston's character arc involved being a semi-pro athlete who never had much of a career, then he hopped from job to job, largely clueless about what he wanted to do before eventually joining the LAPD.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Julia and Jess' conflict seems to be based around this.
- Tough Room: Schmidt and Jess run up against this often.
- True Companions: As an example, two of Jess' roommates show up to her students' science fair — Winston to help her fix a project for one student, and Nick in turn because Winston is also in the middle of babysitting him through a meltdown. There are also the many occasions where they all come together as a group in defense of one of them, and stuff like Jess' ease with telling all of them she loves them, or Schmidt and Nick's comfort with showing affection for each other in public.
- In fact, the climax of an early season 3 episode has Jess yelling at everyone to not freak out over some of the episode's issues because they're family as much as friends. And because of such, they'll figure things out.
- Later seasons have them casually refer to each other in more family terms rather than friendly. For instance, Schmidt offhandedly labels Winston as "Uncle Winston" during a fictional conversation with his fictional kids.
- Truncated Theme Tune: The original intro is a rather lengthy song performed by Zooey Deschanel over an elaborate dance number with her roommates. Some middle episodes would truncate the sequence into just the final few notes as the main cast members pose. By season 5, the truncated theme song becomes standard, and the dance routine visuals are replaced by a quick montage of the entire cast.
- Unrequited Love Switcheroo: The first three seasons have Schmidt pining after Cece, to Stalker with a Crush levels. In season 4, Cece is secretly pining after Schmidt, especially when the latter is dating Fawn. They finally get back together for good by the end of season 4.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Nick and Jess, which they openly discuss. Eventually they resolved it, which opened up a whole new can of issues. But so far they seem willing to go with it.
- The Unreveal: In "First Date", Russell snaps after a night of being hassled by Jess and Nick and asks them what they think the state of their relationship is. They write it down on a pair of tickets, give it to Russell, who looks regretful about making them do it, then promptly leaves. They also don't have the guts to tell one another what they wrote.
- Unusual Euphemism:
- Hector J, Harold & Kumar, White Castle, and most of Jess' alternative words for penis.
- In Valentines Day, Jess uses the word "twirly" instead of well...horny.
- "Completion" for ejaculation and "gumbo pot" for vagina.
- Nick's "Sharons."
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Jess has seen male nudity so often since moving in with the guys that she doesn't even blink anymore (she used to gigglescream). In Jess & Julia, Schmidt can't find his towel so he walks through the house naked. She doesn't even look up (as much as he wishes she would). First thing in the morning in Fancyman pt. II, she walks in on Nick's friend in the bathroom with his pants down without having bothered to close the door behind him and simply walks sleepily out again.
- Vandalism Backfire: When Caroline, Nick's ex, gets a text from Nick asking to be friends, she goes to his apartment and tells him to come to the window and watch as she destroys what she thinks is his car. It isn't his. And he tells her he parked down the street.
- Very Special Episode:
- Episode 15 when Nick was Mistaken for Dying.
- Episode 20 of the second season when Nick's dad really does die and the roomies travel to Chicago.
- Villainous Breakdown: When Schmidt's mind games meant to break up Jess and Nick fail, he goes ballistic, literally getting between them having sex, cutting up Nicks condoms, and finally downing Jess's birth control pills.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: Edgar's "mom."
- Visual Pun: In Season 3, Episode 8 ("Menus") we see a tragic reversal of a classic pun.Jess: Some of these kids have lived in L.A. their entire lives and they've never seen the ocean! Last week I asked them to draw what they thought the ocean looked like, and I got a lot of stuff like this.
Principal: Is that a bagel with wings?
Jess: Yes, sir. It is.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Nick and Schmidt seem to spend a lot of time yelling at each other. They're very different and probably not meant to live in close quarters. Eventually it's shown that, due to their childhoods, this is really the only way they initially knew how to express themselves around each other.
- Wacky Fratboy Hijinks:
- Referenced. Apparently Schmidt was in two fraternities in college because he just couldn't decide. Which actually becomes an indirect reference to an issue he has during season 3.
- The invention of Bro Juice.
- Walking Shirtless Scene:
- Schmidt usually finds a way to employ this trope. Not that anyone's complaining.
- This seems to be the primary reason for Schmidt's contributions to the Douchebag Jar.
- Wham Episode: "Mars Landing." Jess and Nick break up.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: "Jess, what happened last night?" Made poignant by the fact that nothing really happened...except that Nick opened up emotionally under the influence of pain meds and fear, and tried to resolve to become a more proactive person, only to forget it all.
- What Does She See in Him?: Seems to be everybody's opinion about any woman who dates Schmidt, but turned Up to Eleven when the group finds out about him and Cece. Justified though in that outwardly, he's kinda of a douchebag, but his actual personality is more of a lovable loser who doesn't know how to deal with people... and happens to be a sex god.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
- Schmidt is terrified of the birdcat (cat raised by birds) which lives on the roof.
- Winston is deathly afraid of the dark.
- Nick is scared crapless of haunted houses (as part of a larger terror of the unexpected).
- Will They or Won't They?:
- Wimp Fight: The guys have flaily-armed slapfights A LOT.
- With Friends Like These...:
- Schmidt with his "friend" Ben. Schmidt refers to their relationship as kind of like a girl's friendship, where they're friends but they hate each other.
- Schmidt and Robbie. They're fighting over Cece, but otherwise get along famously. Even while Schmidt is actively trying to sabotage Robbie's relationship. Schmidt even invites Robbie to his bachelor party and, presumably, his wedding.
- Write Who You Know: In-Universe. In Nick's Pepperwood Chronicles books, Girl Friday Jessica Knight is obviously based on Jessica Day and main character Julius Pepperwood is somewhat based on Nick himself.
- Written-In Absence: In season five, to cover for Zooey Deschanel being on maternity leave Jess is sequestered due to jury duty - with Megan Fox (yes, the Megan Fox) as a pharmaceutical sales rep called Reagan who rents out Jess' room while she's gone.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: In the Season 5 finale, Nick runs himself down while telling Jess that he and Reagan are getting together, and she yells at him to stop because, in her words, she's tired of him being the only one who doesn't see how incredible he is.
- Your Favorite:
- Nick thinks Jess might want to try an Old Fashioned. She has, indeed, always wanted to try one.
- Also: Nick makes Jess tea, something she is known to like.