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Series / Nip/Tuck

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Nip/Tuck is an American Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning television Medical Drama series created by Ryan Murphy for FX Networks that aired from 2003 to 2010.

During its run, it had the distinction of being one of the most controversial shows on basic cable. Beauty and the disturbing implications of it are explored along with the drama in the characters' lives in cases that are often Ripped from the Headlines. The show goes out of its way to alternate between showing everything that's ugly about human life and everything that's hot about sex, and all of the characters seem more than happy to perpetuate that dynamic.

The show follows the lives of two plastic surgeons, Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) at the McNamara/Troy surgical practice. While the two are friends since college and part of a successful business, their lives are far from happy.


Sean's marriage to Julia (Joely Richardson), who dropped out of medical school after becoming pregnant (with Christian's child, due to a one-night stand) is strained at best. Their "oldest" son Matt (John Hensley) is a complete screw-up of epic proportions who does the most stupid things one can imagine. Meanwhile, Christian is a self-absorbed serial womanizer with a tragic past (his father raped his mother, who gave him up for adoption, where he was sexually abused by his foster father). He has multiple relationships over the course of the series, most notably being his relationship with ex-actress/porn star Kimber (Kelly Carlson), who Christian once literally traded to a rival plastic surgeon for his car. Rounding out the cast is Liz Cruz (Roma Maffia), the lesbian anesthesiologist who is the sarcastic foil to Christian and generally the voice of reason within the show.


Basically, every one of the core characters, and most of the supporting ones, are people you want to reach through the screen and slap at least once per episode. Or run away from.

This Show provides examples of:

  • Abortion Fallout Drama: Christian tells Kimber that she has to have an abortion because he doesn't want any more kids. She does it, but the procedure goes wrong and leaves her unable to have kids.
  • A-Cup Angst: Well, yes, there are several characters who have gotten breast implants on the show due to not liking their old ones, but it didn't happen as often as you might think for a show that focused on plastic surgery. Primarily because it's such a common procedure for the two main characters, and more bizarre cases were usually the subject of the week.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Christian consistently "learning" not to be a selfish, coldhearted monster and immediately forgetting all about his lesson by the time the next episode rolls around, even though it always appeared he had made amends to start a new life the week (or season) before.
  • Alternate Reality Episode: The second season has an episode where Julia dreams what life would be like if she'd married Christian instead of Sean. In the alternate reality, she and Christian are partners in the "Troy/Troy" plastic surgery firm, Matt (still raised by Sean) is a nerd, and Sean is married to a still-living Megan O'Hara.
  • Anorgasmia: McNamara & Troy once had a female patient who was unable to experience orgasms as a result of genital mutilation. They performed a pro bono surgery that restored the woman's clitoris, but it took Liz's verbal help to make the patient orgasm successfully.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Rhea Reynolds, a pathetic woman who cuts up her face a la the victims of the Carver in order to get attention. During surgery to fix her scars, the anesthesia is tampered with so that she is awake and can feel the doctor operate on her.
    • Also, the victims of The Carver are drugged and paralyzed, but fully conscious while he rapes and mutilates them.
  • Anyone Can Die: Supporting cast members have been offed with regularity on the show.
  • Armor-Piercing Question : Mrs. Krieger. Mrs. Krieger and her husband are concentration camp survivors who want their tattoos removed. It turns out Mr. Krieger was a Nazi tattooist, who escaped the Allied army and has been living as a Jew, as a form of penance.
    Sean: How can you forgive him?
    Mrs. Krieger: How can you not?
  • Back-Alley Doctor:
    • Dr. Merrill Bobolit loses his medical license after botching a cosmetic surgery on a dog, and winds up performing cheap liposuctions in the back of a Korean nail salon.
    • Dr. Grayson in the first season. He performs gender reassignment in a dirty, cluttered office, and has no malpractice insurance.
  • Back from the Dead: Julia's mother dies in a plane crash. When looking through the bodies, Julia finally finds the unidentifiable charred, but still human-shaped, remains of her mother. Suddenly, the body takes a huge gasp. Terrified, and knowing the woman will not have much a chance at survival anyway, Julia smothers her with a pillow. Later, she enters her apartment, where her mother has been sitting safe and sound all along, as she decided not to take the plane today.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Christian delivers his lines in a stilted, horrible way. By contrast, Bradley Cooper seems to love chewing up the scenery, whether in or out of the Show Within a Show.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed:
    • Christian apparently a Sex God that has a ten-inch penis. He beds different women pretty much every episode.
    • Played With. Manny Skerritt is a yoga instructor with a Gag Penis, which combined with extreme flexibility, allows him to suck his own penis, which has apparently ruined his life since he can't stop doing it. He visits the clinic with the intent of getting a penis reduction.
  • Black Like Me : Or, in this case, Boobs Like Me. A patient in Season 2, played by the ever-awesome J. K. Simmons , decides to get breast implants, in solidarity for his wife's mastectomy.
  • Black Widow: Teddy Rowe (real name: Elizabeth Byron) is a textbook example, marrying doctors and killing them to collect their insurance, always using a different name. She attempts to make Sean her fifth victim.
  • Blessed with Suck : The patient in Season 6 who hates looking beautiful and perfect. (Of course, she could save herself ten grand if she just gains 50 pounds, but no one points this out).
  • Bloody Horror: In one episode a woman who was put under anaesthetic could still feel and see everything going on during her operation, but wasn't mobile enough to tell the doctors. She's completely traumatized after seeing and feeling the doctors cut into her, and takes legal action over it.
  • Bodybag Trick: The Carver gets away with this in season three.
  • Break the Cutie: Quite a few, but most notably Cara Fitzgerald. She gets run over by Matt while he was driving and getting high and is forced to receive plastic surgery so her face can be repaired. Then she asks Matt out to the school dance, only to be rejected since Matt's friend was the one who wanted to date her. And to break her even more, Matt's friend beats and rapes her in Season 2.
  • Break the Haughty: Here's a challenge: watch the entire show and then make a list of the haughties who don't get broken at least once.
  • Broken Pedestal: Sean's old teacher, Dr. Grayson, shows up as a pathetic alcoholic performing underground surgery on transgender people in a filthy apartment.
  • Brother–Sister Incest:
    • The Carver and the female police officer investigating the case are not only partners in crime, but siblings who are sleeping together. And their parents were incestuous siblings as well, which resulted in physical abnormalities in both.
    • Matt McNamara accidentally sleeps with his sister because they didn't know at the time that they shared the same father.
  • Bullet Holes and Revelations: In the season 2 finale, Adrian and Ava are close together and we hear a stabbing noise, Ava has a shocked look and bloody hands, but the reveal shows that Adrian stabbed himself so that Ava would never leave him again.
  • Bungled Suicide: Sean in Season 6, even though he claims he just "swam out too far." Also, Libby in Season 1 (gunshot) and Joel Seabrook in Season 6 jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Catchphrase : "Hey, asshole," for Gina.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: One character in the first season had a massive amount of surgeries to make him look like Micheal Jackson
  • Chained to a Bed: Kimber tricks Christian into letting her tie him to a bed; she used the opportunity to torture him and get revenge after a particularly nasty break-up.
  • Character Blog: The serial killer the Carver had a MySpace, in which he would post videos about his motives and philosophy of life, and ultimately unmasks.
  • Christmas Cake : Liz, who is gorgeous by most standards, has trouble meeting potential dates and worries that no one will want her.
  • Clear My Name: In the episode "Granville Trapp," Christian was hauled into jail on suspicion of being the Carver — a hypothesis which would have demanded truly frightening devotion on his part, as both he and his partner had been Carver victims. The frame-up was, of course, perpetrated by the actual Carver team: Dr. Quentin Costa, aided by Det. Kit McGraw.
  • Chocolate Baby: Christian assumes that the baby Gina is carrying is his, which she claims is true. Big shock when the baby is born and he is black. Very black. Gina, as a sex addict, has had countless different partners. It evolves into a protracted legal battle when Christian wants to be a father to the boy anyway, but Gina doesn't want to share custody with him (since Christian is not the real father). Christian then gets in touch with the biological father so they can have Gina declared unfit as a parent. The father, who is a middle-aged, married man, admits that while he regrets the affair, he and his wife have decided to raise the child by themselves. The judge ultimately accords them custody and cuts out both Gina and Christian.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Grace Santiago disappears without explanation after season 1.
  • Circumcision Angst: Broken Aesop version, in the very first episode. But then again, the show is about plastic surgery...
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Escobar Gallardo uses this to intimidate Sean. He implies that the woman he's having sex with could instead be Sean's wife.
  • Cunning Linguist: Christian speaks fluent Spanish (as seen in a scene where he's interviewing a patient). No doubt necessary in a city like Miami, which has a huge Hispanic population.
  • Cute Mute: Wilbur. He doesn't even really start talking until near the end of the series.
  • Daddy DNA Test: Used to establish that Christian is the father of Matt.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Christian. It really ups his Jerkass credentials but, makes any scene he's in funny.
  • D-Cup Distress:
    • There's a subversion in the episode Jenny Juggs, where title character has incredibly huge breasts that she can even use as weapons, knocking out the protagonist and breaking a pumpkin with them. Her breasts have caused her a lot of self-esteem issues, not helped by the fact that she's a stripper. She is finally convinced by the protagonist to get a breast reduction bringing her to a C-cup but ends up getting upset anyway because she thinks her breasts are too small.
    • Another subversion in an early episode where the patient of the week is a woman who had had incredibly large breast implants, then wants them reduced again. It turns out that she's actually working for a drug dealer who is using the implants to smuggle his product into the country.
  • Death by Sex: In Season 5, Gina is literally fucked to death by Christian.
  • Detective Mole: The Serial Killer called the Carver turns out to be Quentin Costa, and Detective Kit McGraw, who's investigating the case, is his sister and accomplice.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Everything about this show. If it can go wrong, it will a million times over.
  • Disabled Love Interest: At one point Christian Troy dated a blind woman. He was initially intrigued by her because she couldn't simply judge him by his appearance, and was wondering at the time if women saw anything more in him than his looks and status.
  • Documentary Episode: The season 5 episode "Damien Sands" is presented as a reality TV pilot called "Plastic Fantastic."
  • Downer Ending: Most of the episodes don't end well. Were the creators trying to tell us something?
  • Driven to Suicide: Most notably Nanette Babcock and Kimber Henry. Libby Zucker, although it doesn't take, leaving her disfigured.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Basically every cast member.
  • Easy Sex Change: One episode featured a MTF transperson becoming male again after realizing she really felt more comfortable being a gay male. Christian Troy does the surgery ASAP, without any of the prerequisites.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch : Escobar eats the cucumber Julia is slicing.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: The show featured numerous sex-focused plots. Pretty much every character has either had sex, an affair, a threesome, or a one-night stand at least once onscreen. Though Christian takes the cake due to being The Casanova. Numerous kinks, some more sane than others, were also depicted.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The pilot episode shows the two main character providing plastic surgery for a Colombian client who later turns out to be a child molester and ex-associate of the drug kingpin Escobar Gallardo. His boss eventually tracks him down and kills him, in part because one of his victims was Gallardo's own daughter.
  • Everyone Has Standards: In an episode the show's Casanova Christian Troy hooks up with an attractive mother and daughter pair in a night club. When they go at it again the next morning, the daughter reveals that they started doing this when her mother caught her making out with her stepdad, disturbing even Christian. He eventually concludes "This is too screwed up, even for me", and throws them out of his apartment.
  • Evil Matriarch: Erica Noughton, Julia's mother: witty, intelligent, and a hell of a great person to have a drink with — unless you happen to be her daughter. It's heavily implied that her criticism and emotional absence are responsible for Julia's extreme insecurity.
  • Flash Forward: One to 2025 that was ultimately retconned as being a drug-fueled dream.
  • Force Feeding: In the season five episode "Kyle Ainge," a rival talent agent is knocked out, taped to a chair, and killed by having teddy bear stuffing pellets forced down his throat through a machine.
  • Formerly Fat : Some of the clients, but notably Sean's Season 5 love interest.
  • Gender-Blender Name: The character of James LeBeau (Jacqueline Bisset) in Season 4.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot : A subversion in the first-season tryst between Matt, his friend Vanessa, and her girlfriend. Vanessa feels her girlfriend misses boys, so she invites Matt to a threesome. Someone is always left out, a very different (and more realistic) outcome than the trope usually presents.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Played with so much it's hard to find a consistent standard. To wit-
    • Matt's girlfriend cheats on him with another cheerleader. This is treated as extremely bad. It is treated less bad however when he starts dating her girlfriend who has decided she isn't really a lesbian anyway (they met because Matt's lesbian girlfriend convinced him to join them in a threesome, as part of an abortive effort to salvage her relationship with the not-really-a-lesbian cheerleader).
    • There's a nuanced portrayal of Sean's affair with a patient, which Sean appears to have initiated on the suspicion that his wife was having an affair with a hunky student. She wasn't. What really screws things up, though, is that their staff psychologist Grace suspects the affair exists and confides her suspicions to Christian. He promptly takes this information to Sean, who is furious at her for discussing suspicions about his personal life and nearly fires her- before she reveals that Christian had sex with her and that unless they have a professional reason to fire her she can file an unlawful termination lawsuit. Christian is either oblivious to the fact that Grace was telling him this because he's Sean's best friend, not because she's a gossip, or he's a Jerkass who was trying to use this as an excuse to get rid of her.
    • It's treated as bad that Christian had sex with Sean's wife-to-be Julia right before she married Sean. However, Sean being royally pissed off when he finds about this betrayal is treated as an overreaction. Granted, all this happened over fifteen years ago. On the other hand the fact that Matt isn't really his son is a pretty big bombshell to drop on a guy when he's been under the assumption that his wife only had one sexual partner. If this sounds contradictory with the entry below it's because the "betrayal" dynamic shifts entirely depending on whether Christian or Julia is doing the betraying.
    • For some reason it's worse that Julia cheated than it is that Christian did it with her, even though the latter is Sean's best friend and business partner. Christian is Easily Forgiven after a few episodes, but Sean isn't quite as nice to Julia. He verbally abuses and harasses her at every opportunity, invites his new porn star girlfriend to Matt's school functions, and tells Julia's mother to go screw herself when she tells Christian and Sean that Julia's about to head into an emotional breakdown and she needs an intervention. A few episodes later, she does.
    • Explainable in that Christian is a case-study for promiscuity, selfishness and all around bad behavior and Sean is used to forgiving him for it and having low expectations, where as Julia is presented as 'madonna' until the truth comes out. Even Christian 'loves her from afar'(until he doesn't).
    • In the third season Julia actually starts going out with the hunky student as a result of everything that happened above. This is the only particularly straightforward use of the trope's conventions.
    • As you might be able to guess, it's hard to tell whether they're trying to subvert the trope's conventions or just doing a really bad job of using it straight.
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: Megan O'Hara (Sean's first love) does this with his help after her breast cancer returns as does the Donnie Darko-esque Emo Kid Enigma, and then Kimber after she discovers that Christian is still unable to truly love her.
  • Gorn: During the surgery scenes, and in plenty of other instances as well.
  • Grand Finale: A somewhat subdued one that gives a fairly definitive conclusion to the series with Christian forcing Sean out of the practice for good because he knows it's what Sean really wants while still being somewhat open ended and not overly dramatic about the whole ordeal.
  • Happily Failed Suicide: Joel Seabrook.
  • Has Two Daddies: Matt McNamara after The Reveal refers to Sean and Christian as his Dads to acquaintances.
  • He Knows Too Much: When a patient recognizes Teddy Rowe, thus threatening to blow her cover, Teddy kills the patient by injecting her with a blood thinner and covering her with leeches.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Sean and Christian have been best friends and colleagues since college, and Christian is godfather to Sean's children. The show does actually explore the possibility of Christian having repressed homosexual feelings for Sean when he starts having dreams about them being lovers, but they both conclude it doesn't really mean anything.
  • Homoerotic Dream: The fourth season: Christian is having explicitly homosexual dreams about Sean, and later goes to therapy, where his therapist believes that the dreams are expressing his repressed sexual feelings for Sean. Sean, meanwhile, doesn't think anything of the dreams, is not freaked out (which is good, considering this is Sean we're talking about), and stays friends with Christian.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode is named after the patient(s) served by McNamara/Troy.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Season five features an interesting variation on this trope. Liz Cruz, who up to this point has been a committed lesbian, discovers she's sexually attracted to her male boss Christian (but not any other guys).
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: This is why Sean didn’t kill Escobar
  • I Just Want to Be Beautiful: Pretty much the whole point of the show. The main characters are two plastic surgeons, and pretty much all of their patients are shown living more fulfilling lives after their surgeries. Although it's not just purely minor imperfections that people gripe about, they also do pro bono procedures on severely disfigured individuals. But of course, it's also shown as an inherently obsessive pursuit.
  • I Just Want to Be You: A minor female character wanted to be like Kimber Henry (Christian Troy's on/off girlfriend) in every way and even live her life. Transforming herself to look like Kimber and sleeping with Christian to experience what Kimber's sex life was like first-hand was the best she could do without slipping into villainous territory.
  • I Love the Dead:
    • Christian is accused of this when he tries to obtain a Jane Doe from the morgue. The clerk on duty tells an anecdote about a man who wanted to get his freak on with his dead lover's she wouldn't criticize him.
    • There's a real example that's even more disgusting than usual where a lonely funeral worker assembles a Frankenstein-esque body from various stolen body parts, including his dead sister's head. He then proceeds to have sex with it.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: Colleen Rose talks a big game of being a top agent in Hollywood as she represents Sean. However, she seems to not get how huge a deal CAA (the biggest talent agency in town) is when one of their agents comes to land Sean for himself. Meeting at her apartment, Colleen boasts she can do better by listing various stars she represents such as Nicole Kidman. Smirking, the CAA agent says he's impressed...since he represents Nicole Kidman. Which leads to Colleen filling him with stuffing to murder him.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Compared to what rest of her family goes through, the McNamaras' young daughter Annie gets off awfully light. The show rarely even acknowledges that her immediate family going through hell might have some kind of adverse effects on her.
  • Informed Flaw : In Season 5, when Kimber meets with her former porn director, he tells her to kick the meth. He comments on her weight loss and "bad skin," because it shows up on camera. She looks the same as she's ever looked.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Christian breaks up with Natasha because he thinks she deserves better than The Casanova like him.
  • Jerkass / Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Christian Troy zigzags between these tropes constantly. Although, many agree that he falls more into the Jerkass category.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: As much of a Jerkass that Christian is a lot of times he does have a point.
  • Just the Way You Are: Aversion being the entire point of the show. Becomes completely ridiculous and hypocritical when Liz sleeps with a pre-op transexual woman, telling her she sees her for who she is. After she decides not to have her penis removed Liz tells her that she doesn't want to pursue a long-term relationship, saying that she won't be able to look past her "wrapping." What.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Rhea Reynolds, who pretended to be a Carver victim just to get attention. After Sean and Troy fix her face, the Carver shows up at her house and slashes her throat.
    • Monica Wilder, a crazed babysitter who had an affair with Sean, gets run over by a bus right when she was about to tell the cops that Sean raped her, even though he didn't. What makes her death even more karmic was that Sean was seriously considering killing Monica himself minutes before she died.
    • Season 6 provides the greatest example with Teddy Rowe. She intended to kill Sean and his children via carbon monoxide poisoning so she could get his insurance money. After she leaves them to die, she stumbles upon a camper who just so happened to be a serial killer...
  • Karma Houdini:
    • In Season 3 the Carver and his sister Kit have successfully executed their escape plan and eager to continue their crimes.
    • In Season 5 Eden was slowly poisoning Julia, and when exposed, shot her and told everyone that it was a suicide attempt. She asked Olivia to preserve this secret which resulted in her death. And since Julia's memories about those events never returned, Eden remains unpunished.
    • In Season 6, Virginia Hayes doesn't get punished for suffocating Marcy Hamill.
    • Matt seems to adore this trope. He doesn't get in trouble for running over and almost killing Cara Fitzgerald in Season 1. Or for being an accessory to the murder of Ariel's father in Season 3. Or for burning down his apartment because he was cooking meth in Season 5. This was finally subverted in Season 6 when he was turned into the police for all the stores he robbed—not to mention he got shot in a botched robbery. But then it was played straight again; Matt didn't get a further prison sentence for strangling his cellmate to death.
  • Lipstick-and-Load Montage : Julia gets one in Season 2. She goes out on the town after a fight with Sean.
  • Lonely Funeral: Recurring patient/plastic surgery addict Mrs. Grubman blackmailed Christian into giving her more treatments, beyond the point of reason. Eventually, he was asked to give a eulogy at her funeral and was the only one there: she had alienated her whole family.
  • Mad Love: Christian and Kimber. In the very first episode, shortly after they've slept together, he strips her naked and covers her in red lipstick to mark the places where he thinks she could use a little surgical tweaking. She comes back. Enough said.
  • Mall Santa: A drunken Sean dons the Santa outfit. He even gets a blow job from one of the helper elves. Ho ho ho!
  • The Masochism Tango: Sean and Julia McNamara. The are so ungodly ill-suited for each other from the moment they appear onscreen that any other two people in the universe would have come to their senses and cut ties years ago: they tend to split up and recombine a minimum of once per season, swearing every time they do either one that this time, it's going to stick. It never does, and one wonders if even the writers can put up with their whining for much longer. At the end of the series, they do split up for good, with Julia moving overseas with Annie and Conor.
  • Mistaken for Gay: When Heterosexual Life-Partners Sean McNamara and Christian Troy are selecting chocolate for Christian's upcoming wedding, the chocolatier mistakes them for a gay couple because of how comfortable they are discussing their love lives with each other. They jokingly play along before bursting into laughter.
  • Morality Pet: Wilbur for Christian.
  • Mrs. Robinson: The manipulative Ava Moore was a sexual predator who tended to go for partners who were significantly younger than her or even underaged. These include one of her students as a life coach (Matt) and her own son (Adrian). The reason for this is that Ava is a transgender woman with an incomplete vaginal cavity, and she hoped that inexperienced men wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast : One patient mentions a friend of his went to Dr. Carrion.
  • Never Found the Body: They never confirmed whether or not Kimber really died. The Coast Guard just gave up the search for her body after two days.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Julia always blames everyone else for her problems, mostly her husband.
    • When aging widowed socialite Mrs Grubman threatens McNamara/Troy with a malpractice suit Sean blamed Liz when he was the one who didn’t do the follow up procedure.
    • Gina is a sex addict, while Christen going to the meeting and treating her like a one nightstand was incredibly sleazy. She refuses to take responsibly for falling off the wagon and considering the fact that she still goes to her sexaholics meetings come across as a little hypocritical especially given the fact that she refuses to leave him alone. Taken even further after the revelation that she had been sleeping with other men around the same time.
  • No Pregger Sex: Christian gets physically violent with a store clerk who has sex with the woman carrying his child (even though Christian and the woman no longer have a sexual or emotional relationship). Though Christian has sex with her later on to help reduce her tension. The implication is that Christian freaks out because the clerk has a pregnancy fetish, which makes Christian "sick" for having sex with women to whom he's attracted. Considering that Christian is the show's Casanova, this helps solidify his position as being a giant hypocrite.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Lesbian Liz is raped by Christian. She then claims it was fantastic and they begin a relationship.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: When reading about the hit and run victim in the paper Julia and Sean mentioned who would do something so horrible not knowing that it was Matt.
  • Once per Episode: "Tell me what you don't like about yourself."
  • One-Night-Stand Pregnancy: Christian Troy is told by a woman he used to sleep with that he impregnated her, only for it to turn out to be a Chocolate Baby. The boy's actual father is a traveling businessman who only slept with her once, and is otherwise deeply religious, thus regretting his mistake seriously. Nevertheless, he and his wife decide to raise the child together after a custody dispute rules out both the mother and Christian himself.
  • Out with a Bang: In the Grand Finale, an elderly porn star dies with a smile on his face while filming a sex scene in his latest movie.
  • Parental Incest: Ava Moore turns out to be sleeping with her teenage son Adrian. She later reveals that he was adopted when he confronts her over how much she messed up his life. Additionally, Ava herself is really male, but with a rare physical deformity.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Julia it is pretty much her defining characteristic.
  • Patient of the Week: Or "Client of the Week", depending on how you look at it.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Christian Troy. Pathologically oversexed, determinedly shallow, given to anything from sexual harassment on up to psychological warfare as seduction tactics (see, for example, the scene in the "pilot" where he strips his latest conquest naked, stands her in front of a full-length mirror, and uses a red lipstick to indicate flaws he finds surgically improvable), and an overwhelming fan favorite. Possibly because of the hotness, possibly because of the tragic backstory, possibly because he's the only major character who isn't an insufferable hypocrite.
  • Potty Failure: Kate Tinsley shits herself in a hot tub after swallowing three laxatives. With Sean sitting beside her.
  • Powerful People Are Subs: A powerful CEO who comes into the practice for surgery turns out to be the sub to a ridiculously aggressive dominatrix. Sean walks in on the guy being tortured with fish hooks, and immediately threatens to call the cops. The man claims it's a way to punish himself for having to fire people constantly.
  • Prison Rape:
    • The show managed to take the jackpot without even showing anything. All it took was one word - "anal retread". That's the type of operation a former inmate blackmails a surgeon into performing on him for free. The patient claims what happened to him wasn't gay - it was about surrendering. During the operation, the surgeon doesn't forget to turn on "How Deep Is Your Love" and mention how loose his patient's anus is.
    • When Matt goes to prison in season 6, his cellmate repeatedly rapes him, and threatens to do worse unless Christian gives Matt breast implants.
  • Promiscuity After Rape: Christian, who usually beds at least one new woman every episode, was molested by his foster father as a child.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Several. Liz gets one in Season 2 (along with a new last name), and Kimber, Gina and Dr. Costa all get one in Season 3, although Gina was only credited for her appearances. Liz and Kimber remain so until the end of the show, Gina and Dr. Costa are both dropped after Season 3, although Gina begins appearing as a guest star again.
  • Race Fetish : In Season 5, a patient hosts parties where he has sex with white women while their husbands watch.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The priest who tricked the two into removing incriminating evidence given his history Christian was vehemently against keeping it a secret.
  • Rape Portrayed as Redemption: This could be the point of the Carver arc. The Carver selects beautiful models (both female and male), brutally rapes them and disfigures their faces. In one memorable case, the Carver rapes a male victim, hinted to be a jerkass prior to the rape, making him pathetic, broken and emasculated.
  • Real After All: One episode has an elderly man asking Christian and Sean to remove a metal device from his body. He says it's evidence he was abducted by aliens working for the government and wants to hand it to the media. Before they do the surgery, an attractive blonde woman comes by, telling them the man is her father and mentally ill and the device is just a surgical implant. The man protests that the woman isn't his daughter ("My daughter is dark haired and fat!") and yells that he's being silenced as men in orderly clothes take him away. At the end of the night, Sean and Christian are talking on how sad it is to see someone lose their which point, an overweight brunette woman comes to the office, asking about her father and his surgery.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Handed out to Christian and Sean (as well as several others) at least once per season.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Even after knowing she'll probably go to jail, Marcy Hamill decides to call Virginia Hayes herself so she can apologize to her in person for stealing her identity. When Virginia shows up, she takes a pillow and suffocates Marcy.
  • Refuge in Audacity
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: A transgender woman Liz befriends on the first season is called "a conundrum wrapped in a riddle."
  • Safe, Sane, and Consensual: In one episode a dominatrix who's been hired by a guilt-ridden CEO Patient of the Week makes a brief appearance. She actually tortured him with fish hooks while he's still recuperating, but took care to use an antiseptic on the wound.
  • Serial Killer: A surprisingly high amount of them. The Carver, Teddy Rowe, the guy who kills Teddy Rowe...
  • Sex Is Good: So prevalent that attempts made by the writers to cast certain sex acts as having been a bad idea often fall flat. Indeed, when characters are informed of having made poor judgment calls in their sex lives, usually they give off a look of surprise, as if the possibility of negative consequences hadn't even remotely occurred to them regardless of how often this had happened to them in the past.
  • Sex Is Interesting: Those who thought the High Concept of "a TV show about plastic surgeons" is interesting enough to hold the viewers' interest by itself will have to get used to the constant influx of sex-related plots, most of which surprisingly enough don't even involve Christian, the one character you'd expect it of.
  • Show Within a Show: Plastic Fantastic.
  • Soap Within a Show: the show Sean co-starred in during season five, named "Hearts 'n Scalpels."
  • So Beautiful It's a Curse:
    • In the episode "Willow Banks", a woman wants to look ordinary because she feels her beauty is a curse. She gets what she wished for in a car accident and then realizes that, no matter how much she romanticizes the ugly for being liked for who they are, or how "hard" it is to be beautiful, anything less is at least ten times worse.
    • Christian Troy is devilishly handsome Casanova, but he's stricly heterosexual. He's gotten unwanted advances from more than one man, which he usually reacts to either with disgust or in one instance a punch to the face. Played for laughs when he agrees to be featured in Playgirl in the hopes that it will draw in more female clients, not knowing the usual readership of the magazine.
  • Soft Water : The aversion is discussed in Season 6. The result of jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge is described fairly accurately.
  • Something Completely Different: Season 5 and 6 of the show take place in Hollywood, not Miami.
  • Split Personality: In the episode Montana/Sassy/Justice, the client has a split personality, where one personality wants her ankles fixed and another wants her breasts reduced because she is 5.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Colleen Rose
  • Stepford Smiler: Julia McNamara is half Stepford Smiler and half Defrosting Ice Queen. You have to have a little sympathy for the woman, as she has been keeping her son's paternity secret from both his natural father and assumed father. Unfortunately, her eternal struggle over "Sean or Christian?" just annoys most people.
  • Stylistic Suck : Candy "Hot Coco" Richards' hip-hop video, "Yo Stank."
  • Subculture of the Week: A lot of the clients of the week were part of strange subcultures.
  • Surprise Incest: In season 5, Christian finds out that he fathered a daughter when he was in college. She just happens to be Matt's new girlfriend. The squick comes in when once Matt realizes that he's slept with his sister, he wants to marry her and even goes to a website to show that any children they might have would be normal!
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Season 5 is a major offender with character Colleen Rose. Colleen harassed Sean throughout half of the season, and in this time (from the point she is discovered to be an impostor) she managed to break into: the studio Sean was working in, his apartment to try to kill herself and die in his arms, his clinic (although it does have a flimsy security at best) in order to beg that he fixes her pulse, the Studio AGAIN, and this time presumably knocking out another minor cast member of the series he was part of since she took the role of an assisting medic within and in dangerous proximity to a blade, his apartment AGAIN to plant a BODY of a "rival" agent (she wasn't a real agent to begin with), and finally at his clinic AGAIN to try and murder him. That's made worse by the fact that she is an ordinary (albeit crazy) middle-aged woman. Not only does she break into 3 locations that ought to have some sort of security, she does so again in the SAME ORDER with apparently no difficulty whatsoever.
  • Tattooed Crook: Colombian drug kingpin Escobar Gallardo has extensive tattoos, as well as almost everyone else portrayed by Robert Lasardo, who in Real Life has tattoos all over his arms, neck, and chest.
  • Three-Way Sex:
    • As per its Everybody Has Lots of Sex notoriety, the show seems to engage in this trope with a fair amount of regularity. Most of the time it's just Christian doing it because, you know, he's Christian, but a couple of plot-focused examples stand out:
    • Matt agrees to engage in these with his ex-girlfriend lesbian cheerleader and her also-a-cheerleader lover, who feels that her new girlfriend is getting turned off the relationship because she's "not getting enough cock".
    • Sean and Christian engage in one with a high-class call-girl. Notable for sounding like a subversion of the "one guy two girls" dynamic while actually being completely unlike most examples of the trope. It's not really a "threesome" so much as it is "they take turns mounting her".
  • 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain:
    • A headshot leaves Julia with a little bandage. Oh, and amnesia.
    • Libby Zucker in season 1 is a subversion. She got a bullet in the face and looks it, but it didn't kill her.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Matt's life in a nutshell.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Sean in the Season 1 finale, when he found the balls to point a gun at (and almost kill) Escobar Gallardo.
  • Trans Equals Gay: The backstory for Ava Moore is that she was a homosexual socialite who fell in love with the pioneering sex reassignment surgeon Dr. Barret Moore, but he was strictly heterosexual. He eventually agreed to her romantic advances on the condition that she would become a woman, but even after the surgery he was never truly able to see her as one.
  • Transgender: The series seems to have a bit of a fascination with transgender (understandably, as the show is largely concerned with sex and plastic surgery); the most notable of these is Ava Moore (played by Famke Janssen), whom main character Christian calls "the goddamn Hope Diamond of transsexuals." They actually track down the surgeon responsible for Ava's near-flawless transformation, who agreed to do it because he was heterosexual and she was gay and in love with him.
  • Triple Nipple: An episode in the second season is dedicated to Christian Troy removing the third nipple of a patient he's invited to the clinic.
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: Christian seduces someone at his first Sexaholics Anonymous meeting, and she goes on to become a recurring love interest
  • Troubled, but Cute: Christian Troy. He's shallow, sex-obsessed, and in the habit of treating his sex partners like dirt — but he's also handsome, successful, and really good in bed, not to mention the unexpected vulnerable streak.
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: Christian has a threesome with two identical twins in the series' second episode, and a pair of Marilyn Monroe impersonators after he moves to Hollywood.
  • Undisclosed Funds: How much the Miami practice was sold for is only answered as 'A lot of money', Also how much Sean and Julia's house sold for is also answered in this way.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal:
    • Matt's relationship with Ava Moore.
    • Played for Laughs in Season 5 when Raj discovers the blowjob he received was really from a man.
  • Villainous Rescue: In the last episode of Season 3 Kit saves Christian and Sean from the Carver by shooting him in the back. Sounds good, huh? Not really, since she is Carver's sister, they were working together all along and this is just a part of the Carver's escape plan.
  • Villains Never Lie: This was Escobar answer when Sean was skeptical about changing his face.
  • Wham Line: "Ava's a man."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Quite a few minor characters that impacted the story are cast aside with little explanation why. What happened to Cara Fitzgerald after she was raped by Matt's friend? What became of the transgender Sofia Lopez? What happened to the neo-nazi Ariel after her father was murdered by Cherry? Speaking of which, where did Cherry run off to? What became of Aidan Stone after he broke his neck trying to suck his own penis? What happened to Mike Hamoui after Kimber killed herself by jumping off his yacht? The list goes on and on...
    • This also seems to happen when a character is promoted to series regular. Grace Santiago was dropped with no explanation toward the end of the first season, and when Gina was added to the main cast of Season 3, she appeared a grand total of... four times. And was promptly removed and began appearing regularly as a guest star again.
  • Who's Your Daddy?:
    • The show has this with Julia and the paternity of Matt. After finding out that Christian is his father, due to a one night stand before Julia's wedding to Sean, she hides it from Sean. She reveals it to Christian, Matt, and Sean (in that order) causing Sean to kick her out. Sean doesn't treat Matt any differently and eventually forgives both Julia and Christian for the affair.
    • Also the Gina-Christian relationship, with Wilbur (Gina's son). Made much more complicated when she calls on Wilbur's biological father...
  • Woman Scorned: Sarah, the wife of saintly doctor Curtis, who wanted to initiate a one-night stand with Sean, but he rejected her because it wouldn't be worth backstabbing Curtis. Sarah then told Curtis Sean tried to sleep with her. Curtis naturally believed his wife and called off their mission together.
  • You're Not My Father: Matt says this to Christian right after the latter bails him out of jail. The twist is that Christian really is Matt's father and had only found this out in the same episode. Unusually for this trope, Matt's pronouncement is actually quite accurate— Christian isn't much of a father figure to him at all.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Escobar was well aware that he was pushing Sean after he attacked him when he threatened his family. He was also aware of this trope which is why he let him into his house with a gun without his bodyguard present.
  • Yoyo Plotpoint: Basically, if a character isn't dead, expect them to come back, (and even then don't rule it out.) Characters from any episode, any season, and any situation can reappear for little or no explanation, often causing the scenes shown in the "Previously on Nip/Tuck" flashbacks to be from FOUR SEASONS PRIOR.


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