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Series / Only Fools and Horses

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"This time next year, we'll be millionaires!"note 

Stick a pony in me pocket,
I'll fetch the suitcase from the van.
'Cause if you want the best 'uns, but you don't ask questions,
Then, brother, I'm your man!
'Cause where it all comes from is a mystery,
It's like the changing of the seasons and the tides of the sea,
But here's the one that's driving me berserk:
Why do only fools and horses work?

A British Sitcom created and written by John Sullivan. It originally lasted for seven series airing between 1981-1991, followed by a number of Christmas Specials until 2003. The series follows the adventures of the working-class Trotter family, who aim to wheel and deal their way from a run-down council flat in the South London district of Peckham to becoming millionaires. Their efforts usually involve get-rich-quick schemes, many a "Fawlty Towers" Plot, and selling useless or knockoff goods that had "fallen off the back of a lorry".

The family is made up of:

  • Derek "Del Boy" Edward Trotter: A Loveable Rogue who always comes up with daft or borderline-illegal schemes to try and make money. Famous for awful attempts at French (notably confusing "Bonjour" and "Au revoir"). Pretty much Sir David Jason's defining role, to the point that "Arise Sir Del Boy" was the joke made by several newspaper headlines when his knighthood was announced.
  • Rodney Charlton Trotter: Del Boy's younger brother — the cleverer and more idealistic of the two, but he's also naive and somewhat gormless, possessing an impressive Oh, Crap! stare. Begins as something of a Soapbox Sadie counterpoint to the older, more cynical and picaresque Del, and later becomes, of all things, a Deadpan Snarker. It's more or less Nicholas Lyndhurst's most famous role, although he has done other things.
  • Grandad (Edward Kitchener "Ted" Trotter): Del and Rodney's grandfather; very much The Ditz and often also The Load for the Trotter boys. Appears in the first three series. When actor Lennard Pearce died while they were filming series four, Grandad died too, with his funeral serving as the focal point of the episode "Strained Relations".
  • Uncle Albert (Albert Gladstone Trotter): Del and Rodney's great-uncle, Albert is Grandad's long lost brother who returns to Peckham shortly after the latter's death. An old sailor with a Captain Birdseye beard and a penchant for reminiscing about life During the War. Actor Buster Merryfield died in 1999, and his death was also written into the show for the 2001 revival.
  • Rachel "Raquel" Turner: Originally a One-Shot Character who appeared in the 1988 Christmas Special "Dates" as a woman Del dated. They split up, but Del meets her again in the 1989 Christmas Special "The Jolly Boys' Outing" and they resume their relationship. She subsequently moves in with the Trotters, becoming the mother of Del's child and the Team Mom in the later episodes. Played by Tessa Peake-Jones.
  • Cassandra Louise Trotter (nee Parry): An Uptown Girl who Rodney first meets at evening school at the start of the sixth series, which finishes with their wedding, with a Story Arc about the often-rocky state of their marriage in subsequent episodes. Sceptical about most of what Del says (although that doesn't stop her from getting on well with Raquel), and something of a Deadpan Snarker. Played by Gwyneth Strong.
  • Damien Derek Trotter: Del and Raquel's son, born in the final episode of the seventh series. who Rodney suspects of being the Antichrist (he was even named as the result of a sarcastic suggestion by Rodney that Del and Raquel didn't realise the significance of). By the 2001 revival, he's a Mouthy Kid. Played by various young actors.

Other characters include:

  • Trigger (Colin Ball): So named not because he carries a gun but "because he looks like a horse", although this detail is only explained once (in the first-ever episode, as it happens). Always calls Rodney "Dave", and can never be persuaded otherwise. Originally a small-time crook who supplies Del with dodgy merchandise, he becomes a Cloudcuckoolander and not the sharpest spoon in the drawer. The character who appeared in the most episodes after Del and Rodney, he's played by Roger Lloyd-Pack, who you may recognise from The Vicar of Dibley.
  • Boycie: An unlovable rogue and frightful snob with a Signature Laugh who is usually gloating over Del's misfortunes. Initially Del's Sitcom Archnemesis, but becomes more of a Friendly Enemy. His real name is eventually revealed in "Sickness and Wealth" as Terrence Aubrey Boyce. Later got his own Spin-Off, The Green Green Grass. Played by John Challis.
  • Marlene: Boycie's wife. Originally The Ghost, only referred to in the pub ("all the lads remember Marlene"), she starts appearing in the fourth series from "Sleeping Dogs Lie" onward. There is a constant undercurrent of an attraction between her and Del, and (perhaps because of this) she and Raquel do not get along. Played by Sue Holderness.
  • Denzil Tulser: The Everyman, relied upon to get caught up in Del's schemes because he's just too much of a Nice Guy not to help (in contrast to his unseen brothers, who are apparently not ones to mess with. He's also the Henpecked Husband to Corrine (who is only seen once due to actress Eva Mottley's death). Originally a Jive Turkey, but this gets toned down quite quickly. Played by Paul Barber.
  • Mike Fisher: The landlord of the local pub, the Nag's Head, which all of the characters frequent. Usually comes across as a pretty sensible guy, but his gullibility means he's often a target customer for Del's dodgy goods. Played by Kenneth MacDonald, who was also in It Ain't Half Hot, Mum.
  • Mickey Pearce: Rodney's best friend, though he doesn't often act like it, and has no qualms about double crossing Rodney or stealing his girlfriends. He first appears in the third series. Played by Patrick Murray.
  • Sid: An occasional character who runs the (somewhat unhygienic) café by the market, and later takes over the pub. Played by Roy Heather.
  • DCI Roy Slater: A Dirty Cop who's determined to arrest Del for something. He's eventually arrested himself for diamond smuggling, and is later revealed to be Raquel's estranged husband. Played by Jim Broadbent, who had originally been offered the role of Del Boy but turned it down due to other commitments.

Famous moments:

In 1996, the series got a Grand Finale which sees the Trotters finally managed to become millionaires after discovering a rare watch in their garage which was auctioned for £6 million. The final episode attracted a record British television audience of over 24 million viewers. The show was then revived in 2001 for three more episodes, though with some controversy as it immediately reversed the happy ending of the finale and returned the Trotters to poverty, even moving them back into the exact same council flat. There was also a one-off special in 2014 as part of Sport Relief, a charity drive held by the BBC every two years; in the special, Del and Rodney rope David Beckham into one of their moneymaking schemes. David Jason also briefly reprised the Del Boy role in a recorded good luck message for the England Euro 2021 football team.

In addition to numerous merchandising opportunities for The BBC, the show spawned both a Spin-Off (The Green Green Grass) and a Prequel (Rock & Chips).

Trope namer for During the War.

The show remains the BBC's choice of things to stick on at times when they haven't got a chance of winning the timeslot, or if there's the potential that the football will overrun (since the BBC needs something in that timeslot that can be ditched if the match goes into extra time). Re-runs turn up all the time on the digital channels, especially Gold which is almost guaranteed to show at least one episode on any given day.

Won Britain's Best Sitcom, edging out Blackadder.

No income tropes, no VAT, no money back, no guarantee...

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     Tropes A-L 

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: In "The Unlucky Winner Is", Del wins a family holiday for the Trotters by entering a children's art contest with a picture painted by Rodney when he was 14. In order for them to be eligible to claim the prize, Rodney (who's in his 20s) has to pose as a 14-year-old boy, with Del (who was 16-17 when Rodney was born) pretending to be his father. Del at least has the sense to claim that Cassandra, who's about the same age as Rodney, is the poor bloke's stepmother.
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • Trigger always calls Rodney "Dave". The show had endless fun with what one might think would be a repetitive gag by coming up with variations such as:
    Trigger: [on the name of Del and Raquel's at-the-time unborn son] If it's a boy, they're naming it Rodney. [beat] After Dave.
    • Grandad thinks Sidney Poitier is called Sidney Potter (although it turns out it's Harry Belafonte he's watching anyway).
    • Del is also prone to doing this. He thinks David Beckham's son is called Brookside and The Silence of the Lambs had a character called Hannibal the Cannonball.
  • The Ace: Freddie "The Frog" Robdal. A debonair, gentleman thief who was a charming, generous and very clever man, who had a fondness and talent for art, was a hit with the ladies, and whose last job was the successful theft of half a million pounds worth of gold bullion, which he hid by burying it at sea under one of his pseudonyms (which he planned to retrieve using his skills as a diver). The image is slightly ruined by the fact that he died by sitting on a detonator during a later job.
  • Acronym and Abbreviation Overload At one point, Del Boy insists that "Modern businesspeople only speak in initials!" He initialises everything — examples include the GLC: "General 'Lectric Company" and PMA: "Positive Mental Attitude". He also tries to initialise "Trotter's Independent Traders" and Rodney's "Diploma In Computerisation", the results of which are duly pointed out (whether Del realised what they stood for any was merely pulling Rodney's leg is debatable, although he did go to the trouble of getting headed paper specially printed).
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In a Comic Relief episode Uncle Albert mentions how nice it would be to walk through a door into the 1940s, which Rodney dismisses as stupid. Raquel then goes to bed and Del says "goodnight, sweetheart". Del then remarks that he is not a chief inspector.
    • This was also done the other way around in Goodnight Sweetheart — Gary (played by Nicholas Lyndhurst) is about to lean back and fall through an open bar door like Del Boy famously did, but notices in time and gives an Aside Glance wink to the audience, which was accompanied by uproarious laughter that must seem inexplicable and random to anyone unfamiliar with the Only Fools scene in question (although one would have thought that most British viewers would at least be aware of that scene).
  • Adults Dressed as Children: Rodney has to pretend to be 14 years old to go on a Spanish holiday in "The Unlucky Winner Is".
  • Affectionate Parody: Rodney's dream at the beginning of "Heroes and Villains" is in part a send-up of Cold Lazarus, which had aired earlier that year.
  • Age-Gap Romance: In "No Greater Love", Rodney, then in his early 20s, dates a woman in her 40s.
  • The Alleged Car: The Reliant Regal three-wheeled van owned by the main characters is a famous example, the So Bad, It's Good of the car world. It's popular enough that more than one Real Life Reliant Regal owner has painted his vehicle to look like it, and it came second only to the General Lee in a poll of the best-ever TV cars. Also the Ford Capri driven by Del in later series, known to Rodney as "the Pratmobile". The vast majority of cars that Boycie sells also qualify.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys:
    • In "Dates", Mickey and Jevon manage to convince Rodney that the Girl of the Week likes bad boys, so he dresses like the Fonz and acts like James Dean on their date, only to terrify her to the point of tears when they get chased in the van.
    • Cassandra claims that she doesn't like that Rodney drinks and is violent. She is quickly seen through and smiles when asked if she fancies Rodney.
  • All There in the Manual: Various spin-off books, such as Del's 'autobiography' (published in 2015) provide an explanation for certain plot holes (such as the repercussions of the mineral water scam, which were not mentioned in or after "Mother Nature's Son") and the fate of several one-off characters (like Tony Angelino, the singer in "Stage Fright").
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Del suggests calling their unborn child Troy. Raquel is incredulous:
    Raquel: Troy Trotter?
    • When he joins a dating agency, Del calls himself Derek Duvall.
  • All-Natural Snake Oil: The whole bottled water thing was mocked in "Mother Nature's Son", with the bottled water coming from the tap and being bottled in a production line through their kitchen.
  • Amoral Attorney: "Hole in One" involves Del suing the brewery for a fall suffered by Uncle Albert. He hires a lawyer called Solly Atwell, who Rodney describes as being "more bent than the villains".
  • The Antichrist: Rodney suspects that Damien is this, reading sinister undertones into everything he does. There is, of course, no indication that he's anything but an ordinary child.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In "The Long Legs of the Law", Rodney takes his policewoman girlfriend Sandra home following her visit to the Trotters' flat. They share an affectionate cuddle and she asks the following:
    Sandra: You know your flat?
    Rodney: Yeah Sandra.
    Sandra: Is there anything in it that's legally yours?
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • In the 1989 Christmas special "The Jolly Boy's Outing", after the Jolly Boys are stranded in Margate following the destruction of their coach, Boycie complains that he might miss the christening of his son, Mike and Sid complain that they have to run their pub and cafe respectively, Jevon complains that he's going to miss out on a date he had arranged for that night... and then Trigger chimes in and complains that his inflatable dolphin got blown up with their coach.
    • While on holiday in Spain in "It Never Rains", Grandad gets arrested. He tells Del and Rodney that during the Spanish Civil War he was a mercenary who used to smuggle guns for both sides (or in his words 'whichever side had the most money') and ended up being captured, deported and ordered not to return to the country. He believes that they are going to put him on trial for these past crimes so Del bribes the guard to turn a blind eye and let them walk out. After taking Del's money, the guard tells Del that the charges have been dropped and Grandad is free to go, explaining to a flabbergasted Del that Grandad had only been arrested for... jaywalking.
    • In "Rodney Come Home", Rodney laments that "My mum's left me, my wife doesn't love me and some bastard's nicked my bike!"
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: In "A Royal Flush", Rodney's posh girlfriend take him clay pigeon shooting on her father's estate. On his first turn, Rodney stepped up to the shooting area then turned round to speak to the others, inadvertently pointing his shotgun at them. The others yelled at him to lower the barrel but because he was wearing ear protectors he couldn't hear them. Not until the girlfriend's father stepped forward and pushed the gun barrel down towards the ground did Rodney realise what he had done.
  • Artistic License – Statistics: In "A Losing Streak", Boycie refuses to bet on a coin toss against Del because, having beaten Del in the previous few tosses, the "Laws of averages" dictate that he would likely lose this one. When Del suggests that Boycie challenged Rodney instead, he agrees!
    • While 'the law of averages' does not exist, many people erroneously believe in it. Boycie could be one of those believers.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: In "From Prussia with Love":
    Albert (to Anna): Vot - iss - your - name?
  • As You Know: Del delivers a lot of information about his and Rodney's childhood — including his mother's death and then their father's abandoning the family — in this manner during "Big Brother", clearly as a way of getting the audience up to speed with the Trotter family's backstory. While not too uncommon for the pilot of episode of a sitcom (or TV show in general) from this era, latter episodes also depict Del going on lengthy speeches about their childhood and mother when he's trying to guilt-trip Rodney into doing something, making it an actual character trait for Del instead of just a clumsy way of delivering a one-off Info Dump.
  • Ashes to Crashes: In "Ashes to Ashes", Del and Rodney are trying to dispose of Trigger's grandfather's ashes. The ashes end up being sucked up by a streetsweeper. Made funnier when it turns out that the guy was actually a street cleaner himself. They eventually conclude that this was an appropriate funeral for him.
  • Assurance Backfire: Rodney warns Del against eating some of Mike's beef stew (the episode was written at the time of the BSE scare). Del brushes off Rodney's concerns, but then Trigger chimes in:
    Trigger: I don't know what you're worried about. I've been eating British beef all my life.
    • It's enough to make up Del's mind:
    Del: Egg and chips, please Mike!
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Rodney does this in "Heroes and Villains" when he gives chase to a mugger. He corners the man, who then starts chasing him.
  • Author Avatar: Rodney was based on series creator John Sullivan, who was also a dreamer and idealist in his youth, as well as had an older sibling.
  • The Barnum: Del Boy, to the point that similar characters in other shows and real life have been referred to as "a bit of a Del Boy" by the media. He was pretty unscrupulous about what he sold to people and even short-changed his own brother, grandfather and uncle on occasion.
  • Batman Gambit: Del defeats Slater the first time by exploiting the latter's desire to have Del under his thumb for all time - he gets himself immunity from prosecution if he reveals who stole a microwave. It was him.
  • Batman Parody: "Heroes and Villains" has a famous shot of Del Boy and Rodney running through London in costume as Batman and Robin. The '60s Batman theme is used for the soundtrack.
  • The Bet: In "Watching The Girls Go By", Mickey Pearce bets Rodney "fifty" that he doesn't have a date for a party at the Nag's Head. To Rodney's surprise, Del buys the bet for £5, and after various disastrous attempts at finding a girl, pays a stripper £20 to pretend to be Rodney's date (including to Rodney, who thinks he somehow chatted her up in ten seconds, including telling her about the party). After Rodney is humiliated at the party, Del says at least he won the bet, and Rodney agrees and flips him a 50p piece.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy:
    • Del is at least a head shorter than his younger half-brother Rodney. In a making of book, John Sullivan states that he is grateful for this trope otherwise Del's constant put-downs towards Rodney would have seemed much more like bullying.
    • The Driscoll brothers are played by 6'3" Roy Marsden, and 5' Christopher Ryan.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Del's dialogue is littered with foreign phrases, especially French, made more amusing because he clearly has no idea what they mean: fabrique belgique ("Belgian factory"), bonnet de douche ("shower cap"), fromage frais ("fresh cheese"), etc. He even mixes up bonjour and au revoir.
    Del: They're trying to kill me. Fromage frais!
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: Del's favourite cocktails include Baileys and cherryade, Tia Maria and Lucozade and blackcurrant & Pernod.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Del may be a chancer, con-man and petty criminal but at the end of the day he is well-meaning and will always try to do right by the people he cares for, his nemesis Roy Slater is a mean-spirited Corrupt Cop who will use any means necessary to get what he wants.
  • Black Belt in Origami: The exact line is used in "Cash and Curry" by Del, as he attempts to bluff an ability in martial arts.
    Mickey Pearce: I've just come back from evening school. I'm learning aikido.
    Del: Really? Go on then, say something.
  • Black Comedy Burst: "A Royal Flush" has largely been disowned by the fandom. It involves Rodney falling for an upper class girl, only for Del to sabotage the relationship with his boorish, obnoxious behaviour, which is played up even more than usual. Afterwards, Del is completely unsympathetic and even mocks Rodney for calling him out on it. John Sullivan and David Jason have both shown regret that the episode was made.
  • Blatant Lies: Pretty much everything Del says to Raquel on their first date. She calls him out on it when he accuses her of lying to him about being a stripper.
  • Book Dumb: Del was always more interested in making money down the market than school, which for him was mostly a way to hang out with his friends. He has a shockingly poor grasp of just about every academic subject, save for maths where his decades of wheeling and dealing have left him with fantastic mental arithmetic. Despite all this he is an excellent Guile Hero, able to outwit people much better educated and successful than himself. One memorable instance involved him confessing to a crime moments after receiving a legally binding declaration that he couldn't be arrested for his involvement with it. His Book Dumb nature means that he is so frequently wrong about things that when he is secretly acting out one of his brilliant plans, even the audience is fooled.
  • Bottle Episode: There were a few, but "The Longest Night" stands out, spending most of its runtime being confined to one room.
  • Brains and Brawn: Del (Brawn) and Rodney (Brains).
  • Briar Patching: In "The Longest Night", a criminal blatantly steals from the supermarket and tries to walk out. When the security guard stops him to take him to the management office he tells him he's innocent and pleads not to be taken there. It turned out that he wanted to be taken there to commit a robbery. Subverted when it turned out that the security guard was in on it, so the double bluff was unnecessary.
  • Bribe Backfire: In "It Never Rains", Del tries to bribe a Spanish prison guard to release Grandad. An inversion in that the guard accepts the money, but it turned out Grandad was going to be released anyway.
  • British Brevity: Averted somewhat with the main series, which ran for 22 years and 64 episodes altogether, although each series only had six or seven episodes each. The prequel series Rock & Chips ran for only three specials because John Sullivan died before a full series could be made.
  • Broken Win/Loss Streak: Subverted. In "A Losing Streak", Del constantly says to Rodney that the reason he keeps losing money to Boycie at poker is because he is on a "losing streak" which he feels is about to come to an end. It's actually because Boycie cheats. Del does end up winning a lot of money off of Boycie, but the reason he does so is by cheating better.
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: In "Ashes to Ashes", Del Boy and Rodney spend the entire episode trying to find an appropriate way to dispose of the ashes of Trigger's grandfather (so they can flog off the urn he is in). After all of their attempts are thwarted, the ashes are accidentally sucked up by a road sweeper. They decide this is appropriate as Trigger's grandfather had been a street sweeper.
  • The Butler Did It: Invoked by Rodney when he mocks Del's suggestion that "There's a Rhino Loose in the City" could be a whodunit in "Video Nasty":
    Rodney: A rhinoceros has escaped from the zoo, there's 300 dead bodies covered in rhinoceros footprints, a lock up garage 2 1/2 foot deep in rhinoceros crap and Charlton Heston suspects the butler!
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Denzil, who is a perpetual victim of Del's schemes. As with every other Running Gag on the show, this is lampshaded no end, with Rodney frequently sympathising with his plight and Denzil himself trying hard to stop it happening.
    • Trigger is a downplayed example because he's a victim of Del just as often but doesn't appear to realise he's being messed about, happily (though unwittingly) acting to his own detriment in the interests of "helping out a friend". Moreover, Trigger's sporadic attempts at trading usually result in Del somehow getting screwed over, so they're probably pretty even on that count.
    • Rodney, since Del both uses and teases him quite a lot.
    • Grandad and Uncle Albert also qualify.
    • Mike. Amongst other things, Del sold him a hairdryer that was actually a paint stripper (with predictable results), a deep fat fryer (which exploded) and a fax machine that didn't work.
  • The Calls Are Coming from Inside the House: Used in "Modern Man" where Rodney, annoyed with Del Boy, calls an ad in the local paper to apply for another job, not realising that the ad has been placed by Del who is taking the call in the other room. Although Rodney is ignorant to this Del is fully aware of who he is talking to and milks the situation to optimal comic effect.
  • Canon Discontinuity: John Sullivan usually liked to pretend that the 1986 Christmas special "A Royal Flush" never happened. In the episode, Del cruelly humiliates Rodney and sabotages his friendship with Lady Victoria. Sullivan thought Del went too far and was overly nasty and mean-spirited. He only allowed the episode to be released on video and DVD due to demand from the fans, and even then it was in the form of a severely edited version in which Del is less mean.
  • Captain Obvious: Alan is meeting Del at the pie and mash shop later:
    Pam: What for?
    —>Alan: For pie and mash!
  • Captain Crash: This was a running joke with Uncle Albert, who was seemingly responsible for sinking (or otherwise badly damaging) every ship he sailed in.
  • Cassandra Truth: In the Sport Relief episode Del claims that David Beckham autographed the underwear he is selling because Del arranged a bouncy castle for his son's birthday party. It sounds like another of Del's Blatant Lies sales pitches, but it's later revealed that he was telling the truth.
  • Casting Gag: Douglas Hodge, the then-husband of Tessa Peake-Jones, who plays Raquel, was cast as the grown-up Damien in Rodney's dream in "Heroes and Villains".
  • Catchphrase: "During the War" (for which the show was the Trope Namer), "Lovely Jubbly", "This time next year, we'll be millionaires!", "You plonker!"
    • Flashback to Catchphrase: At the end of "Time on Our Hands", when the Trotters are millionaires, Del remarks: "This time next year, we could be billionaires!" When Del uses the phrase in "If They Could See Us Now", Rodney snaps back "this time last week we were millionaires!"
  • Catchphrase Interruptus:
    Uncle Albert: During the...
    Del Boy: [interrupts Albert] If you say during the war one more time, I'll pour this cup of tea over your head!
    Uncle Albert: I wasn't going to say "during the war" actually. You bloody know-it-all!
    Del Boy: [Backing down] All right.
    Uncle Albert: During the 1939-1945 conflict with Germany.
  • The Cavalry: In "Miami Twice, Part Two: Oh to Be in England", hen on the run from Italian American mobsters in Florida, Rodney and Del Boy get backed into the Everglades. Minutes before they get caught (and promptly shot) Boycie and Marlene show up on a hovercraft exploration with a tour guide, and carry them off to safety.
  • Characterization Marches On: Trigger initially started as a small time criminal/trader along the same lines as the Trotters before evolving into the Cloud Cuckoo Lander he's famous for being.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In Raquel's first episode, "Dates", she mentions being on Doctor Who. Funnily enough, the head waiter is played by Nicholas Courtney, who played the Brigadier.
  • Chocolate Baby:
    • In "From Prussia With Love", Del and Rodney befriend a pregnant German girl who doesn't want her baby, and Del concocts a scheme to sell the baby to the Boyces, who are having trouble conceiving. In the end, it turns out the father of the child is West Indian. Marlene wants to go ahead, but Boycie doesn't see how they can claim it's theirs.
    Marlene: We could say it's a throwback.
    Boycie: For God's sake, Marlene! I might be able to con people into buying my cars, I might even be able to convince them you conceived and gave birth in seven days flat, but how the hell am I going to persuade them my granddad was Louis Armstrong?
    • Del and Grandad discuss DNA tests as a way of determining someone's parentage, and Grandad mentions a man he knew who divorced his wife when he found out that one of their children had been fathered by someone else:
    Del: And they found out through blood tests?
    Grandad: No. The youngest boy was half-caste.
  • Christmas Special: Lots of them.
    • 1981 - "Christmas Crackers". Del and Rodney are waiting for Grandad's traditional poisoned Christmas dinner to arrive at the table. But it turns out that, for once, after dinner and the exchange of gifts (including £20 given to Grandad by Del), Grandad is going to an OAP party, meaning that the Trotter brothers can hit the Monte Carlo Club. Unfortunately, Rodney is unable to attract any women, and when he does finally make some progress, he is beaten by two other men, much to his and Del's horror.
    • 1982 - "Diamonds Are for Heather". Del meets Heather, who seems to be one friend short of company. Del Boy, ever the gentleman, entertains her and sees her home safely. At her flat he discovers that she has a young son, by a husband who seems to have joined a very long queue at the Job Centre 18 months previously and not come back. In no time at all, their romance blossoms and all is running so smoothly that Del decides to propose. However, when he takes her for a candlelit curry, she refuses his offer of marriage. Her husband has returned, employed as a department store Santa, and she wants to give it another go, leaving Del Boy without an angel for Christmas.
    • 1983 - "Thicker than Water". Reg Trotter, absentee father to Del and Rodney, unexpectedly arrives to sponge Christmas with his boys. Reg explains that he has been living in Newcastle and was diagnosed with a hereditary blood disorder. Scared for their well-being, he decided to tell his two sons. However, several tests later, Reg is given the all clear but it seems Del Boy and Rodney have different blood types. It would seem the wayward father has some explaining to do. Reg explains that he frequently argued with their mother before they split. She had several dalliances with other men, and Del is the mystery child. Fortunately a visit to the family doctor gives Del the news to put the smile back on his face.
    • 1985 - "To Hull and Back". Boycie and Abdul ask Del to smuggle diamonds from Amsterdam into the country. Del initially declines the offer, but ultimately agrees in exchange for £15,000. When Del learns that DCI Roy Slater is aware of the cases of diamond smuggling, but does not know who is involved, and realising that he wouldn't get the diamonds through airport security, Del gets Uncle Albert to take him and Rodney to Amsterdam from Hull in a hired boat. The Trotters arrive at the location and collect the diamonds. Meanwhile, back at the police station, Slater deduces that Boycie and Del are involved in the smuggling and waits at the airport for the Trotters to arrive. Del, Rodney and Albert arrive back a day late because Albert got lost. All seems to have gone well until Slater catches Boycie and the Trotters in the act. However, Slater lets them case go and is later arrested when the police work out that he has been working with the man in Amsterdam who keeps the diamonds until the couriers arrive. Although Boycie used fake money to pay for the diamonds, he paid Del with real money. Unfortunately, Del thinks the money is fake and throws it out the window.
    • 1986 - "A Royal Flush". Rodney meets Vicky, a seemingly impoverished artist who it transpires is the daughter of the Duke of Maylebury. Having obtained a pair of tickets to the sold-out production of Carmen, Rodney seems to have deeply impressed Vicky. She is less taken by the presence of Del and his peroxide blonde girlfriend, June Snell in a cringeworthy scene at the opera where they ruin the night for Rodney. Vicky then invites Rodney to a party at the Duke's country home, and it seems romance may be on the cards. Then Del Boy turns up, hits the vino-plonko and ruins everything for his little brother again.
    • 1987 - "The Frog's Legacy". Trotters Independent Trading is causing mayhem with their faulty RAJAH computers. Rodney gets a new job at a funeral directors, while Albert and Del con the public with their miracle cure body massagers. At the wedding of Trigger’s niece, Del hears the tale of Freddy the Frog, a bank robber and close friend of the boys' mother. He left everything in his will to their mum, including the stolen gold bullion. While Del hunts for treasure, Rodney puzzles over Freddy and his mother's 'friendship' – and a son who would by now be his own age.
    • 1988 - "Dates". Surprised by Trigger's success with a new computer dating agency, Del joins and meets aspiring actress Raquel Turner and the two quickly hit it off. However, Raquel is not aware that Del is a market trader, as he claimed to be the manager of his own export and import business. Meanwhile, Rodney has a date with Nags Head barmaid "Nervous Nerys", which ends in disaster after Rodney jumps a red light in the van and causes a police car to crash, having been convinced by Mickey and Jevon that Nerys enjoys the company of tough and manly men. A few days later, Uncle Albert's birthday party is held at the Nags Head but Del is horrified when one of the surprise strippers he booked turns out to be Raquel. The pair eventually make it up and Raquel reveals that she has been offered an acting role in a tour around the Middle East. Del is about to go around to her flat and ask to her stay but blows his chance when he rips the clothes off of a policewoman, believing she is a stripper booked by Uncle Albert in revenge for his birthday party.
    • 1989 - "The Jolly Boy's Outing". Cassandra organises a dinner party, inviting her 'yuppie' boss and his wife in the hope of getting a promotion. Del and Uncle Albert soon arrive to put their feet firmly in their mouths and ruin the chances of that. Despite it being Rodney and Cassandra’s first wedding anniversary, Rodney agrees to go on the annual Jolly Boys Outing to Margate. The outing goes as well as can be expected considering that Rodney gets arrested, and the coach's dodgy radio - supplied by Del Boy - emits fumes that incapacitate the driver and then ignite the fuel line, causing the vehicle to explode. Forced to stay the night by this twist of fate, the Trotters stay at an old, scary bed and breakfast. Rodney is still concerned that Cassandra's boss is staying with her while he is away, so he and Del go out for a drink to a club, where Del encounters his lost love Raquel, now working as magician’s assistant. As one Trotter rekindles his love life, the other returns to find Cassandra entertaining her boss at home. Punching first, and asking questions later, Rodney blows it.
    • 1990 - "Rodney Come Home". Rodney is settling into married life, and his job at his father-in-law's printing firm (his first proper job). Raquel has returned from America and is now living with Del. Del is worried about his brother's marriage: Rodney resents Cassandra for working all the time (Rodney's job provides Del with cheap printing - his sole source of income). Del's attempts to save Rodney's marriage result in him being homeless for the third time in 18 months.
    • 1991 - "Miami Twice". At Damien's christening, Del secures a deal with the Vicar to sell pre-blessed wine around the country. Rodney is living with Del and Albert on week days, and with Cassandra at weekends, on the advice of their therapist. Del steals Rodney's pension money and buys a holiday with it, he then tricks Rodney into going on holiday with him, knowing that Cassandra's work commitments, will prevent her from attending. When Del and Rodney arrive in Miami, the family of Mafioso boss Vincenzo Ochetti are drawn to Del – who bears a striking resemblance to their Don, who is facing trial, and the possibility of life imprisonment, so they come up with a plan to kill Del so that they can escape a sentencing. Soon realising they are not simply being shown American hospitality, Del and Rodney flee aided and abetted by Boycie, Marlene and their baby Tyler who are also in the States. Upon a safe return to Peckham, they find dozens of crates of wine, which were deemed unfit for Holy Communion.
    • 1992 - "Mother Nature's Son". Del Boy hires Denzil and Trigger to clean out some mysterious yellow gunge that has been dumped in Grandad's allotment, which Del has been lumbered with following the purchase of his flat. After learning about a man called Myles who sells health foods and natural fertilizer and has become a millionaire in two and a half years, Del tricks him into believing that there is a natural spring at the allotment. When the water passes the relevant tests, Del sells it (tap water) as bottled water called Peckham Spring. Soon hundreds of pounds are winging their way to Del's wallet and he, Raquel, Damien, Rodney and Cassandra go for a weekend away at the Grand Hotel, Brighton. As they settle down, the Trotters are unaware that there is a news article being shown on the TV which explains that Peckham's water supply has become toxic, thanks to the yellow gunge that Denzil and Trigger "deposed" of a few days before. As Del falls asleep, a bottle of Peckham Spring on his bedside table glows yellow.
    • 1993 - "Fatal Extraction". Raquel is frustrated with Del who is spending his evenings at the casino, frequently returning past midnight. Rodney raises the problem with Del, who explains he is brokering a deal to get hold of some Russian ex-military Camcorders. Rodney and Cassandra have decided to try to have a baby. When Del comes home at 8.15 am - stopping only to change his clothes, Raquel leaves him. Del organises a date with Beverly, his dentist’s receptionist. But he cancels it after much persistence from Rodney and Uncle Albert. A changed man, he invites Raquel back. Whilst celebrating, he drunkenly starts a riot on the estate. All seems calm, but Beverly seems to be stalking Del.
    • 1996 saw the the "Christmas Trilogy" that was to be the finale of the series - "Heroes and Villains", "Modern Men" and "Time on Our Hands".
    • 2001-3 saw a new trilogy of specials that served as a proper finale - "If They Could See Us Now", "Strangers on the Shore" and "Sleepless in Peckham".
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Jevon, who was Mickey Pearce's trading partner in the sixth series, vanished after "The Jolly Boy's Outing" as his actor had joined EastEnders, though he's mentioned a few times in series 7.
  • Class Reunion: In "The Class of '62", the main cast were all part of a Class Reunion set up in mysterious circumstances. This turned out to be part of a revenge scheme by Rory Slater, although not the usual Reunion Revenge.
  • Closer to Earth: Rodney, Mike, Denzil, Raquel, and Cassandra are the only sensible characters in the series.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: To music licensing issues, on the DVD release some songs had to be removed, but in some cases, entire scenes have been cut because a particular song is being played in the background.
  • Coincidental Accidental Disguise: Of the "didn't take your costume off" variant, "Heroes and Villains" has Del and Rodney spot a woman being mugged down a foggy alleyway as they're on their way to a fancy dress party, forgetting in the moment what they're wearing. What we see from the muggers' perspective is Batman and Robin running towards them out of the mist, so they leg it.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • In "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Uncle", Uncle Albert laments that his place of birth (a marina where ships from all over the world used to dock) which, when he was young, was filled with rough but good people has since been utterly cleared away so as to build luxury flats. Del thinks that is in fact terrific as the flats happen to be worth a lot of money.
    • Del never quite seems to catch on to the fact that "Yuppie" is an insult, or that a trenchcoat, red braces and a filofax do not make him one.
    • In "Rodney Come Home", Uncle Albert's three botched attempts at looking "shocked" about Rodney taking a girl who isn't his wife to the cinema.
    • Del visits a doctor:
    Doctor: Do you smoke Mr Trotter?
    Del: No thanks doctor, not right now.
    Doctor: Ever have trouble passing water?
    Del: I had a dizzy spell going over Tower Bridge once.
  • Complete-the-Quote Title: From a saying popular among 19th century Vaudeville performers: "Only fools and horses work for a living."
  • The Con: Del Boy's market-stall patter often requires Grandad, Rodney, or Uncle Albert to act as a shill. None of them are any good at it. When Albert took the role, demonstrating an anti-back pain medicine, his cover was catastrophically blown when his "sudden recovery" became a full tap-dance routine. A later case involving Albert, however — with the Peckham Spring — was successful enough to allow the scam to eventually fool literally the entire country.
  • Continuity Nod: In the 1982 Christmas special "Diamonds Are for Heather", Del's favourite song is revealed to be "Old Shep". In the second chapter of the 1996 Christmas trilogy, "Modern Men", the hold music on Del's new phone is a version of "Old Shep".
  • Contrived Coincidence: Del, Rodney and a few of the others are in a club in Margate watching a magician's act. Who should be the magician's assistant but Del's ex-girlfriend Raquel.
  • Cool Car: The Trotters' Reliant Regal three-wheel van is the So Bad, It's Good of the automotive world, belonging under this heading as well as The Alleged Car.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef:
    • Grandad, whose habit of utterly carbonising anything he cooks leads to Del and Rodney eating out as often as possible. After Grandad dies it turns out that Del is actually a fairly competent (if rather limited) cook, but let Grandad handle the Trotters' cooking just so that he wouldn't feel useless.
    • Sid, whose porridge is known to contain hairs. He himself admits that his food is borderline inedible, and that most of his trade comes from a combination of low prices and a good location next to the Peckham market.
  • Cosplay: As well as the famous "Batman and Robin" scene in "Heroes and Villains, outside the show there are a number of grown men who have acquired Robin Reliants and been Del Boy for various purposes, usually charity-related.
  • Counterfeit Cash: "To Hull and Back" had Del acting as a courier between Boycie and some Dutch diamond smugglers. Del quickly realises the cash Boycie gave him for the transaction is counterfeit. What he doesn't realise is that his own payment for services isn't fake, and the episode ends with him throwing it away.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Del and his gang’s childhood bullying of Roy Slater comes back to haunt them in a big way.
  • Creepy Child: Damian, at least whenever he's seen from Rodney's perspective.
  • Criminal Doppelgänger: In "Miami Twice, Part Two: Oh to Be in England", Del and Rodney go to Miami, where a Mafia boss who looks identical to Del is facing life imprisonment. His son hatches a plot to murder Del in public, hoping that everyone will believe that it is his father who has been killed, and thus spare him the prison sentence.
  • Crooked Contractor: Del has been known to dabble in this when the market trading isn't going so well. In "Who's a Pretty Boy?", after stealing the job of painting Denzil's flat from Brendan O'Shaughnessy, he then offers his services when Mike says the brewery want the pub painted. Mike says Brendan has already put in a bid of a thousand pounds. Del immediately offers a counterbid of two thousand pounds.
    Mike: Hang about, hang about. Why should I turn down an offer of £1000 and accept one of £2000?
    Del Boy: 'Cos of all the advantages it has to offer, like my unique profit-sharing scheme. The two thousand pounds would be disbursed thus: Five hundred pounds for vous, and five hundred pounds for ve.
    Mike: What, you mean I get five hundred quid?
    Del Boy: Oh, yes.
    Mike: And what about the thousand that's left over?
    Del Boy: We give that to the Irishman and let him do the job!
    • Also done in the famous episode "A Touch of Glass". Del Boy and co offer to clean some chandeliers at a wealthy lord's mansion, and most obviously don't know a thing about how to do so. Cue Falling Chandelier and hasty retreat.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: "No Greater Love" has this:
    Del Boy: I fell into a door.
    Rodney: A door done all that damage?
    Del Boy: Well it was one of those revolving doors.
  • Dead Pet Sketch: In "Who's a Pretty Boy?", when painting Denzil's flat, Rodney accidentally creates a sauna in the kitchen by leaving the kettle on too long. The Trotters find Corrine's beloved canary pining for the Fjords and go to a lot of trouble and expense to substitute it with another one. Corrine gets a hell of a shock when she returns home to find it alive and well, because it was dead when she left the flat that morning.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: More often played for laughs than straight, although there was a couple of those moments, was Del Boy's and Rodney's mum, Joan. She is often spoken of in hushed reverenced tones as if she was the Virgin Mary...the truth of course is that she was a less than perfect parent but she always did the best she could for her kids.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: Played for Laughs a lot. Del Boy uses French words and phrases, and sometimes long English words, in an effort to sound sophisticated, knowledgeable and/or upper-class. He fails. Other characters also do this from time to time, principally Boycie.
  • Dirty Cop: Roy Slater. The second episode of Rock and Chips, "Five Gold Rings", shows us that after leaving school, Slater immediately joined the police force and started abusing his position to go after Del.
    Del: Now listen here, Slater, I know a lot of coppers and they're all good blokes. I mean, I don't like 'em, but they play a fair game. And then there's you...
  • Dirty Old Man: "Dirty Barry", the proprietor of a sex shop to whom Del tries to sell those blow-up sex dolls in "Danger UXD".
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: In "Sickness and Wealth", Del is worried that he might be suffering from a certain disease, and subsequent dialogue makes it obvious that he's talking about AIDS. The disease was still pretty taboo in 1989, hence why it isn't mentioned by name, but the episode shows quite a surprising degree of AIDS awareness, most notably the fact that it isn't—as was widely considered to be the case at the time—something that only gay men contract.
  • The Ditz:
    • Trigger's stupidity is an extreme version of this trope.
    • Grandad
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The two theme tunes were sung by John Sullivan, as Sullivan's choice to perform them - Chas & Dave - were not available. Curiously, Sullivan's singing voice makes him sound a bit like Nicholas Lyndhurst, so Lyndhurst is sometimes mistakenly assumed to have performed the songs.
  • The Dog Bites Back: All Slater's present day appearances, and his grudge against the cast, come from being the Butt-Monkey to them as a child.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Everyone in Peckham is afraid of running into the Driscoll Brothers.
    • Roy Slater counts as well, seeing as he is a very eager detective who is a stickler for fine details and wants to solve every case he is involved int. He also used to know the Peckham pack when he was younger so it feels like It's Personal. Even after he comes back from being in prison the others treat him with disdain and reluctance, and he still tries to screw over Del Boy.
  • Dreadful Musician: Albert certainly isn't the best pianist around, but Mike tolerates his piano playing on the grounds that it prevents people from noticing that the Nag's Head's jukebox has been broken for years.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Rodney is painfully naive next to Del, but is often the first to point out the cracks in Del's hair-brained schemes from either an ethical standpoint, a practical standpoint or both and he's usually right at the end. Subverted, in that he often willingly goes along with Del's schemes and suffers the consequences accordingly.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The first series and subsequent Christmas special doesn't start or end with the famous theme songs, instead starting and ending with a saxophone-led instrumental theme composed by Ronnie Hazlehurst. It wasn't until "The Long Legs of the Law", when people heard the immortal line "Stick a pony in me pocket...". Less obvious to modern-day viewers however, as the DVD releases and nearly all television repeats have the newer theme dubbed onto the Series 1 episodes (though the VHS releases still used the original theme).
    • Trigger was just a thief and shady associate of Del's (albeit still dim) rather than the road sweeping Cloud Cuckoo Lander he became later.
    • Mainstays of the show's supporting cast like Mike, Denzil, Raquel, Cassandra and Marlene do not appear in the first few series. While Trigger and Boycie made occasional appearances in series one and two, they too did not become regulars until later on. The much smaller cast of the earlier seasons make the setting of Peckham feel much bleaker and emptier compared to the later status quo.
    • While the Nag's Head was a staple from the beginning, its look was very different and Mike the landlord wasn't introduced until the end of the third series.
    • Early episodes were 30 minutes long with a get-rich-quick scheme of the week plot, in contrast to later episodes which were longer (up to 90 minutes), had more drama, more characters and plotlines which spanned several episodes.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The Trotters started out from day one wishing to become millionares one day. They did — twice.
    • Happy Ending One was in the third and final chapter of the 1996 Christmas trilogy, "Time on Our Hands" (which was originally the series finale). Del and Rodney discover a 18th century watch in the garage and manage to auction it for £6,200,000. They proceeded to start new lifestyles with their friends and family, but ended up losing all the money in a Central American stock market crash.
    • Happy Ending Two was in the 2003 Christmas special "Sleepless in Peckham". The Trotters have had a year to raise £48,754 to pay off the stock market crash. They do so, with £290,000 left over, thanks to Uncle Albert's will, and Rodney finally gets a child with Cassandra after a miscarriage previously.
  • Easy Come, Easy Go: The "upper" ending of "Time on Our Hands", where the Trotters finally become millionaires because of a lucky find, and end the episode in a mansion was overturned when the next special episode showed them back in the flat in Peckham.
  • The '80s: A fair chunk of the humour in the series relies on knowledge of 80s British pop culture, but there are still laughs to be had even if you don't get those jokes.
    • For example, the closing theme references footballer Trevor Francis ("Trevor Francis tracksuits from a mush in Shepherd's Bush")
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Tony Angelino in "Stage Fright". Thing is Del doesn't discover this until after he's signed him, only knowing that the singer only sang a very specific and limited amount of songs. (None which contained the letter R.). The big song he ends up singing on stage after a heart breaking performance by Raquel? Crying.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Boycie is actually named Aubrey Boyce. Even his wife calls him Boycie.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name:
    • Rodney Charlton Trotter. At his wedding, the audience can't stop laughing at it so it ends up being omitted from Cassandra's vows. Made all the more embarrassing by the fact that, despite Rodney's insistence that his middle name was inspired by Charlton Heston, it actually came about because his mother Joannie was a fan of Charlton Athletic F.C., a not hugely successful football team.
    • Boycie's middle name is revealed to be Aubrey, and he says that his father always used to call him by it. For some reason, in The Green Green Grass, it's treated as though it were his first name (although this is rather inconsistant).
    • Damien's middle name is Derek, making his initials DDT, the same as a well-known insecticide. Subverted, since Uncle Albert points out straight away the effect this would have on Damien's initials, but Del and Raquel don't care about it.
    Del Boy: Well, there'll be no flies on him, then, will there?
  • Enfant Terrible: Parodied — Rodney is convinced that his nephew Damien (the name is not coincidental) is one of these, and acts as if he's with the Anti-Christ anytime he's in the same room as him. The boy's just a normal child, but try telling Rodney that.
    • One particular scene highlights this; Damien wants to show off a conjuring trick he's learnt, and chooses Rodney to show it to. From Damien's point of view, he's just happily playing with his uncle. Rodney, however, looks as if he's being forced to participate in some kind of satanic ritual.
  • Epic Fail: In "Yesterday Never Comes", Del slaps a woman on the bottom and invites her out for a curry. To Rodney's amazement, she smiles and accepts (though he's unaware that she has an ulterior motive). Rodney decides to try out the same move on another woman. It results in her slapping him. Hard.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Bad is perhaps pushing it, but Del Boy is absolutely devoted to the memory of his now-deceased mother Joannie. He sees her as truly Too Good for This Sinful Earth, never allowing a single bad word to be said about her in earshot and completely obliviously ignoring several details suggesting she really wasn't all he cracks her up to be - like the fact she was the first woman on the estate to smoke menthol cigs, and that she was often seen in the pub hanging with shady looking men. And in the spin-off Rock and Chips where Joan is the main character, you find out she was every bit as devious and cunning as Del is now, though also Closer to Earth and quite a bit more kindhearted. She has an affair with Freddie (though Reg's neglectful, crude, lazy and at times abusive attitude allows Joan to be painted sympathetically for it) and uses the resulting pregnancy (Rodney) to secure the family a better home at Nelson Mandela House.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Most of the main characters, as lampshaded when the Class Reunion episode "The Class of '62" doesn't feature anyone we don't already know.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Would-be yuppie Del Boy is in the habit of throwing French words into his sentences even though he doesn't know what they mean. A full list can be found here.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Driscoll Brothers are a pair of brothers, one short and the other tall, whose father left them and made a vow that they would never be poor. They're a glimpse of what the Trotters could have been if they'd become gangsters.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Del's idea for a film; There is a Rhino Loose in the City in "Video Nasty". His explanation of the plot, unsurprisingly, makes no sense whatsoever, and by the end, There is a Rhino Out In The Sticks Where No Sod Lives better describes it.
  • Exact Words:
    Uncle Albert: During the—
    Del: If you say 'During the War' one more time, I'm gonna pour this cup of tea over your head!
    Uncle Albert: I wasn't going to say 'During the War'. (beat) During the 1939 - 1945 conflict with Germany...
  • Explosive Stupidity: Happened offscreen to Freddie "The Frog" Robdal, who sat on his own detonator during a post office heist.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Goal: make a fortune ("This time next year, we'll be millionaires!"). Heartwarmingly achieved in the finale (with something that's been lying in their garage for years), then undone for a Christmas Special some years later, only to be slightly fixed by Albert's will.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: The show has a funny, non-combat-related version here.
    • This was based on a real-life incident involving John Sullivan's father, who was part of a group of builders who made the same mistake.note  The episode was written backwards to get there.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: There's a lovely one of these during "Diamonds Are for Heather" set to "Zoom" by Fat Larry's Band.
  • Fallout Shelter Fail: In "The Russians Are Coming", Del Boy and Rodney acquire some lead sheets with intent to sell them at a profit, but they later learn that what they actually have is the parts for a fall out shelter. They completely miss the point and assemble it on the roof of their apartment building.
  • Father Neptune: Given that every ship he sailed on sank, Uncle Albert parodies this trope.
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot: In "The Unlucky Winner Is", Del Boy sends a painting Rodney created as a teenager to a competition. When it wins the children's prize (a holiday for the child and his parents), he confirms that Rodney is fourteen. This necessitates other lies, such as not telling Rodney and Cassandra why it's a holiday for three until they've arrived, claiming he and Cassandra are Rodney's parents, and preventing Rodney and Cassandra from exposing his scheme by insisting to them both (separately) that the other is really enjoying the break.
    • And paid off brilliantly when, at the end of the episode, Del is in possession of a winning lottery ticket - but is unable to collect the money because the ticket is in Rodney's name, and Spanish law states that no-one under 18 is allowed to gamble. At this point they are unable to break the lie, because Del went to the trouble of forging all their travel documents.
  • Fetus Terrible: Parodied with the birth of Del Boy's son, Damien. When Rodney discovers the name to be given to the child, he is tortured by fantasies and nightmares that the as-yet-unborn child will grow up to be an evil, manipulative anti-christ. Of course the boy is nothing of the sort, but this doesn't stop Rodney from reading far too heavily into the small child's rebellious antics.
  • Filth:
    • There's a entire bunch of gags on Sexual Roleplay in one of the Christmas special episodes.
    • "Danger UXD" revolves around blow-up dolls which have a tendency to blow up as they've been filled with propane instead of air.
  • Fixing the Game:
    Boycie: Where did you get those four bloody aces from?
    Del: Same place you got them kings. I knew you was cheating, Boycie.
    Boycie: Oh yeah? How?
    Del: Because that wasn't the hand that I dealt you.
  • Flanderization: Trigger started out as merely a bit slow and a bit dim - he called Rodney Dave, he could be caught out in negotiations, he was socially awkward etc - really basic stuff. He was also considered by those who knew him as a man that you shouldn't mess with; in "The Frog's Legacy" even Boycie backed off when Rodney cracked a rude joke about Trigger's aunt Rene. By the end of the final Christmas trilogy he had become so dumb that he was literally confused by his own blinking.
  • Flashback: At the end of the 1996 finale "Time On Our Hands", while taking one last look around their now-empty flat, Del has (sound only) flashbacks to things relatives said years ago:
    Joan: Del Boy, it's time to get up! It's seven thirty! It's your fault if you've got a hangover. You can't have today off, you're taking your eleven plus!
    Grandad: Your dad always said that one day Del Boy would reach the top. Then again he used to say that one day Millwall would win the Cup! (from "Big Brother")
    Reg: I never raised a hand to your mother Rodney, except in self-defence! (from "Thicker than Water")
  • Fly in the Soup: At Sid's cafe the porridge has hairs in it.
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: Del wins about £6 million from the sale of an antique watch in "Time On Our Hands", then is revealed to have quickly lost the lot on the Futures Market between that episode and the following specials.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Rodney (sanguine), Del Boy (choleric), Grandad (melancholic), and Uncle Albert (phlegmatic).
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: At the end of "May the Force Be With You", a signature that looks suspiciously like Jim Broadbent's own appears on the immunity to prosecution that his character gives to Del Boy.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral":
    • In "Ashes to Ashes", Del and Rodney buy a couple of urns from Trigger. One of them turns out to have the ashes of Trigger's grandfather, Arthur, in it. The entire episode centers on Del and Rodney trying ever more ridiculous ways to dispose of the ashes, while genuinely trying to be thoughtful. At one point, Rodney's grandfather sits up talking to the ashes, while Del responds, pretending to be Arthur. Eventually the ashes are accidentally sucked up by a street-cleaning machine; after some initial horror, Del and Rodney reflect that maybe Arthur would have wanted it that way, since he was a road sweeper. Then they find out that there are more ashes in the other urn; Trigger's grandmother married twice.
    • A more good natured case in "Strained Relations", which featured Grandad's funeral to coincide with his actor Lennard Pearce's passing. While the scene is fittingly poignant and respectful, it is characteristically laden with a few light hearted gags and hiccups. In particular, one moving scene has Del Boy put what is supposedly Grandad's trademark hat inside his grave to be buried with him, only for the priest to later ask where his hat has gone.
    • In "Strangers on the Shore", Del and Rodney decide to give Albert a burial at sea, by scattering his ashes from the boat they were on (Albert was, before, during and after the war at separate points in the past in both the Merchant and Royal Navy). After doing so, they notice Rodney's wife Cassandra's contraceptive tablets at the bottom of the urn, where Damien had hidden them as a joke, resulting in Cassandra getting pregnant while they were all dirt poor. As well as desecrating his great uncle's ashes, Damien also used the urn as target practice for his toy NERF gun.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Del buys some headed notepaper for the business. He initialises everything, because "Modern businesspeople only speak in initials." Their company is Trotter's Independent Traders, and Rodney has a Diploma In Computerisation. Lampshaded when Rodney comments:
    Rodney: Del, thanks to your high profile, we now have a company called "Tit" and a director with "Dic" after his name.
    • Another episode has Del's talk that he dreams to one day walk out onto a balcony with their company's initials in giant letters above him. Rodney snarks how appropriate it is that he dreams about being under a 20ft sign calling him a "Tit".
  • Fridge Logic:
    • In-universe example with Lennox Gilbey in the fifth series' third episode "The Longest Night", whose plan to rob the supermarket omits basic things such as a means of escape and turning up at the correct time.
    • Also done in-universe in "Video Nasty" with Del's film idea, "There's a Rhino Loose in the City", which makes no sense on any level.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: In "Hole in One", Del Boy decides to sue the Nag's Head after Uncle Albert falls into its cellar, despite the fact that he incurred no injury (they base the suit on emotional damages) and the Nag's Head offer Del a large settlement. The suit ends up being thrown out when the defense points out that Albert is a trained paratrooper (thus having knowledge of how to fall without injuring himself) and that he has "accidentally" fallen down pub cellars numerous times in the past, and taken the settlements.
  • Gallows Humour: Most of "The Russians Are Coming", where Rodney convinces them to build a nuclear fallout shelter after Del unknowingly buys a kit along with a shipment of lead. Most of the episode highlights just how unprepared the average person in 1981 was to cope with the possibility of nuclear war and life afterwards, particularly with only a "four minute warning" to seek shelter.
    Del: By the way, how are we doing?
    Rodney: We're dead. We died 45 seconds ago.
    • The final reveal makes it even more poignant, revealing that the "Safe as houses" location that they decided to build their shelter was on top of Nelson Mandela House.
  • Gambler's Fallacy: In "A Losing Streak", after beating Boycie at poker, Del Boy offers him double or nothing on the spin of a coin. Boycie's response is "I've beaten you on a spin twice, Del. By the law of averages, you've got to win this time." (The coin isn't fair, as it happens, but Boycie doesn't know that.)
  • Game Show Appearance: In "If They Could See Us Now", Del goes on Goldrush, a fictional BBC game hosted by Jonathan Ross in which the top prize is £100,000 and there are three Lifelines. It was an obvious Fictional Counterpart of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, created because ITV refused to let the BBC use the actual show — probably because a plot point was that an answer given as being wrong on the show turned out to be right.
  • Gay Bar Reveal: In "Go West, Young Man", Del and Rodney go to a wine bar, and while Rodney has his drink, Del tries to chat up two characters in dresses we only see from the back. He quickly returns.
    Del: Drink up, we're leaving.
    Rodney: Yeah? Are they a couple of ravers?
    Del: No, they're a couple of geezers!
  • Genre Blind: In "The Longest Night", Lennox has absolutely no clue whatsoever how to be an armed robber. Rodney in the same episode taking his cigarettes when he could have had the gun beside him is equally blind.
  • Genre Shift:
    • The 1985 Christmas special "To Hull and Back" was treated more like a crime caper film than a sitcom
    • The 2003 Christmas special and finale "Sleepless in Peckham," while still having plenty of comedic moments, had a far more serious atmosphere than most of the series.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: Makes up most of the plots; Del Boy's catchphrase is "this time next year, we'll be millionaires!"
  • The Ghost: Monkey Harris, one of Del's friends, who is often mentioned but never seen. Del and Monkey's business associates Paddy the Greek and Sunglasses Ron are also referred to many times, despite not appearing on screen.
  • Girl of the Week: Del (and Rodney, to a lesser extent) go through a lot of girlfriends in early series, most of whom were never seen more than once.
  • Given Name Reveal: This is combined with Embarrassing Middle Name at the wedding of Rodney Charlton Trotter.
  • Glad You Thought of It:
    • In "Stranger on the Shore", Del uses this to get Denzil to accompany him on his booze cruise to France. Denzil tries to back out but Trigger reminds him "It was your idea".
    • In "If They Could See Us Now", Trotters Independent Traders has gone bankrupt, and Del has been banned from any business dealings. He then pushes Rodney into realising the company could be reformed if he was the owner, and pretends not to follow the idea until Rodders explains it to him.
  • Global Ignorance: In "The Yellow Peril":
    Del: I get it from a contact in... er...
    Trigger: Stockholm.
    Del: Yeah, Stockholm - Stockholm? Cos you see, the Norwegians, they lead the world in paint technology.
  • Got Me Doing It: "Stage Fright" had Raquel singing a duet of "Crying" with Tony Angelino The Singing Dustman ... who turns out to have Elmuh Fudd Syndwome.
    Tony: You weave me cwying,
    Raquel: Crying,
    Tony: Cwying,
    Raquel: Crying,
    Tony: Cwying,
    Raquel: Cwy - Crying,
  • Grail in the Garbage: The Trotters become millionaires after the missing John Harrison Watch (which in real life, exists only as plans and may never have been built), ends up being found in their garage. Del likewise mentions he got it from an old woman who paid him to clear an attic.
  • Gratuitous French: Subverted, wherein Del Boy tries to use French to seem intelligent, but constantly, CONSTANTLY gets it wrong... to the point of saying bonjour to mean "goodbye" and au revoir to mean "hello".
    • Lampshaded in one of the last specials in which they actually go to France:
      Del: One of my favourite French dishes is duck à l'orange. [...] How do they say "duck" in French?
      Rodney: It's "canard".
      Del: You can say that again, bruv.
    • Lampshaded in an earlier episode
      Rodney: Del, you can't speak French. You're still struggling with English.
  • Greasy Spoon: Sid's Cafe.
  • Girl of the Week
  • Guile Hero: Del occasionally demonstrated enough savvy to come out on top after a whole episode of apparent failures.
  • Guilt-Tripping: Often done by Del when he wants Rodney to do things, claiming that that's what their late mother would've wanted.
  • Happy Ending Override: A couple of examples from the later years.
    • For the earliest example, Series 6 ended with Rodney and Cassandra getting married. The next series saw a storyline where their marriage runs into serious trouble before reconciling.
    • The 1996 Christmas Special "Time on Our Hands" ended with the Trotters finally becoming millionaires. The 2001 special "If They Could See Us Now" saw them lose everything and end up back where they started.
  • Hell Hotel: Parodied in "The Jolly Boy's Outing". The Trotters become stranded in Margate, but cannot find anywhere to stay the night, so they end up in a terrifying-looking guest house which in Rodney's words "looks like The Munsters' weekend place"
  • Henpecked Husband: Denzil was one, before his wife Corrine left him.
  • Heroic BSoD: Rodney went through a fortnight-long one after Cassandra miscarried in "Modern Men", until he and Del talked about it in "Time On Our Hands".
  • Hilarity Ensues: Either Del Boy has A Simple Plan or someone hires the brothers to do something easy. Then liberally apply some good old Trotter intelligence and greed and you have a OFaH episode.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Uncle Albert certainly isn't the best pianist around, but Mike tolerates his piano playing on the grounds that it prevents people from noticing that the Nag's Head's jukebox has been broken for years.
    Albert is playing the piano and singing in the pub (badly)
    Mike: Why does he do it?
    Boycie: God knows. I suppose at some point some sod told him he could play the piano.
    Mike: Yeah, and I'd like to meet the git who told him he could sing!
  • Honest John's Dealership:
    • Del Boy Trotter.
    • In "A Losing Streak", Boycie is offered Trigger's car as part of a poker bet. His response: "You must be joking, I sold it to him!"
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: In the 1988 Christmas special "Dates", Raquel Turner was introduced as one of these. She wanted to be an actress, but could only get not-real-acting jobs like stripogram or (in her second appearance) magician's assistant. After meeting Del, she gave up this profession after a Stripper/Cop Confusion at Albert's birthday party.
  • Hope Spot: At the end of series 6, Rodney marries Cassandra, moves in with her, gets a good job working at her dad's company and it looks as if he finally has a chance to make something of his life. But within a few episodes his marriage is on the rocks, he's lost his job and had to move back in with Del.
  • Hotel Hellion: Damien in "If They Could See Us Now":
    Cassandra: Del, you've got to have a word with Damien... He's weed in the swimming pool.
    Del: Leave it out, Cassandra. All little boys do a Johnny Cash in the pool.
    Cassandra: Yes, but not from the top of the four-metre diving board.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Played straight in "Little Problems". Del is asked to make a contribution for his younger brother's wedding, and doesn't want to pay out too much money. Once he realizes that the bride's father only means a contribution of ideas and opinions, he attempts to get out of his earlier suggestion of using the old pub for the reception and back to a country club. When Alan anxiously asks, "But surely you don't like all that type of thing, do you?", Del replies, "Oh, I hate it. I hate it, Alan. I mean, those sorts of people only do things for effect," as he is served a massive cocktail, complete with fruit and umbrellas.
  • I Am Not Your Father: Del Boy and his dad, Reg, discover that he they're not related. This alleviates Del somewhat as he could never stand his dad, but it causes a schism in the family relations as he is excluded from a reunited Granddad and Rodney with Reg. Turns out Reg was lying about this and had doctored medical papers. note 
  • I Choose to Stay: In the Series 5 finale "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?", Del decides to stay in England with Rodney and Albert, rather than go to Australia with his old friend Jumbo Mills to run a car business.
  • I Don't Pay You to Think: In "To Hull and Back", DCI Slater says this several times to his subordinate and driver PC Hoskins. This ends up backfiring horribly on him, when it turns out the Met are onto his corrupt practices and Hoskins drives him into a police sting.
    Slater: Look Hoskins, Terrance, use your loaf, help me out of this and I'll make you a rich man - the money from them other diamonds is in a bank account, I'll let you have half. What do you think?
    Hoskins (*turns, revealing hidden microphone on his lapel): You seem to forget sir, I don't think, I only do my job.
  • I'll Kill You!: Del and Rodney threaten to do this to each other numerous times over the course of the series. Lampshaded by Rodney:
    Rodney: I know what I said! But there's a world of difference between saying and doing! If I'd gone to the police every time you said you were gonna kill me, you'd still be slopping out in Parkhurst!
  • Implied Death Threat: During an interrogation, Roy Slater tells Del that if he and Rodney get arrested Grandad will be left on their council estate... alone. Del immediately grasps the implications of this and it cements Slater’s status as a genuine threat rather than a Sitcom Arch-Nemesis.
  • I Warned You: In "Healthy Competition" Del warns the new partnership of Rodney and Mickey Pearce not to buy an auction lot which he describes as "old scrap metal." The duo assume he's playing a mind game and buy it, only to discover that the lot is just a pile of broken lawnmower engines. When Rodney angrily demands to know why Del didn't warn him, Del reminds him that he did.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: Most people tend to look back on what they wore during the 80's with embarrassment. Mickey Pearce on the other hand, averts this by never changing his look at all... leaving his wardrobe stuck Two Decades Behind by the end of the series.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Sid has claimed to have been in "Sleepless in Peckham" when looking at himself in the photograph of the 1960 Jolly Boys' Outing.
  • Identical Grandson: In the final episode, "Sleepless in Peckham", we see a picture of Freddie "the Frog" Robdal, previously hinted to be Rodney's real father, and he's played by Nicholas Lyndhurst with a moustache. (Even Del, who believes his mum to be a saint, can't ignore the resemblance.) Lyndhurst reprises the role in the Prequel series Rock And Chips.
  • Identical Stranger: "Miami Twice, Part Two: Oh to Be in England" featured an American Mafia boss who looked exactly like Del.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Many episode titles are a pun on popular sayings or film or song titles, ie "From Prussia With Love", "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Uncle". "Miami Twice", "Fatal Extraction" etc. The show itself is named for the saying "why do only fools and horses work [for a living]?" BBC executives initially vetoed the title, fearing that viewers would not understand it.
  • If I Were a Rich Man: Every single business deal Del enters into is part of his get-rich plan. He is constantly saying "This time next year, we'll be millionaires!" He and Rodney actually sing the song in "The Unlucky Winner Is", when they thought they'd won a million pasetas. Of course, because they told all those lies, they are unable to collect the money.
  • If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You:
    • In "Mother Nature's Son", Del-Boy (who lives almost exclusively on fried food, takeaways and alcohol) reacts to Rodney's revelation that he and Cassandra like the health food from the organic store with "Oh, well that must be very appetizing then. Knowing that everything on your plate was once underneath a big pile of horse shit!".
    • Uncle Albert: "what would you like for breakfast Del, something nice or something healthy?"
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: In "A Royal Flush" Del takes part in a clay pigeon shoot using a borrowed sawn-off shotgun, and turns out to be pretty good.
  • Improv: According to David Jason in a behind-the-scenes documentary many years later, the scene of them all having fun during their day trip Margate was in fact just the actors having fun on a day trip to Margate with the camera left on to catch the best bits.
  • Inflationary Dialogue: In the episode "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Uncle", Uncle Albert arrives at the flat with a black eye and no money. He says he's been mugged by a gang of youths, but the number increases every time he tells the story. It turns out he lost the money playing dominoes, and then got in a punch-up with his opponent Knock-Knock over Marlene's mother.
  • Inspector Javert: Roy Slater will nick for anything you've done! In fact he will nick you for anything you haven't done and he won't let a little thing like "Innocence" get in his way!
  • Instant Emergency Response: Initially Played Straight in "Chain Gang". Nothing is thought of it until the main characters realise that the victim was in fact a confidence trickster, and the surprisingly fast ambulance response was actually orchestrated by colleagues of his in order to whisk him away from the scene before the real medics arrive..
  • Ironic Echo: In "To Hull and Back", when stolid constable Terry Hoskins questions DI Slater, Slater snaps "It's not your job to think". Later, when he's on the point of being arrested, and offers Hoskins a cut, he ask Hoskins to think about it. Hoskins replies "It's not my job to think".
  • Irony: The Trotters try to get rich through a litany of zany schemes, with the running Catchphrase "This time next year, we'll be millionaires!" They eventually do when a long lost John Harrison maritime watch is found in their shed, an item erroneously dismissed by Del as a Victorian egg timer. They had that priceless watch all along, they were just too incompetent to realise it.
  • It's a Costume Party, I Swear!: A variation appears in "Heroes and Villains", where Del Boy and Rodney are going to a fancy dress party as Batman and Robin. En route, they stop a mugging just by looking like the pair. When they get there they discover the host died the day before and the party has been cancelled... so they have enthusiastically barged in on his wake spraying silly-string over the mourners. Boycie, who met them at the door, could've mentioned this but didn't. It's later commented that the dead guy would have probably found it hilarious. Trigger also didn't hear about the host dying, and also came in costume. He felt a right prat dressed as a chauffeur.
  • Jerkass:
    • Del and Rodney both have their moments. Del was particularly bad during the 1986 Christmas special "A Royal Flush". See Canon Discontinuity above for what happened when the writer realised this.
    • Boycie is this more generally, though obviously it's played for comedic value.
    • Reg Trotter, who just packed his bags and left his family to fend for themselves after his wife Joan died. When he returns in "Thicker Than Water", he demonstrates just how a big a jerkass he is. The Rock & Chips trilogy delves more into how terrible Reg is to Joan.
    • Mickey Pearce to a lesser extent.
    • Roy Slater is probably the show's biggest example. See "Kick The Dog" below.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Del usually has to point out that Rodney's naivete is part of the problem when his kid brother gets ideas above his station. The Jerkass part of it comes from the fact it's partly Del's fault, he has held Rodney back quite a bit and while he was disappointed in the Marijuana incident that got Rodney expelled from college, he never really showed any enthusiasm for his brother's education.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Del Boy is self-centred, boorish, uneducated, a social climber (and a totally incompetent one at that) and a petty criminal, but he does genuinely care for the people he loves and has been shown to be quite sensitive at times.
  • Jive Turkey:
    • Denzil in his first appearance only, as it was immediately realised what a bad idea this was.
    • In the final three episodes, Damien speaks almost exclusively in Ali G gangsta language.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: In "Slow Bus to Chingford", Grandad tells how he used to work as a security guard for a fancy company, and there was one suspicious employee who would always leave the building with a fancy briefcase. For an entire year, Granddad would check his briefcase, only to find nothing in there. When the employee quit the company, it turned out over two hundred and forty fancy briefcases had gone missing.
  • Kick the Dog: Slater in every other scene in which he appears, from petty crimes like sending his assistant on his break just as the police station canteen closes, to serious offences like blackmail and extortion. Perhaps the biggest moment comes in his first appearance, after Del tells him that he'd rather go to prison than reveal who gave him a stolen microwave. Slater tells him that if he does that, he'll also make sure that Rodney gets convicted on made-up charges of drug possession and ends up with a sentence at least as long as Del's, and to really put the boot in he also says that he'll use his contacts on the street to make sure the local criminals know that Grandad would be alone and vulnerable.
  • Kitchen Sink Drama: The series sometimes dips into this trope. Del-Boy's zany schemes to make a quick buck and aspirations to high society are usually played for laughs, but underneath all that he and his brother Rodney are two men struggling to make a better life for themselves and their families.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The series may focus on Loveable Rogues getting into wacky hi-jinks, but that doesn't mean that some genuinely unpleasant characters didn't turn up occasionally:
    • Roy Slater. While he is still a humorous character, the lengths he'll go to get one over on Del is portrayed with absolute seriousness.
    • The Driscoll Brothers - a pair of gangsters feared by everyone in Peckham. They put on an Affably Evil front, but cross them and you get a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. Much like Harry Grout in Porridge, they were often mentioned, but only appeared twice, once in the main series and once in The Green, Green Grass.
    • Reg Trotter. While he has his humorous moments, his solo appearance causes serious tension within the Trotter household.
  • Lampshade Hanging: With the aforementioned Fun with Acronyms, Rodney is quick to point out the acronym for Trotters' Independent Traders and also notices the "DDT" acronym. ("Del, thanks to your high profile, we now have a company called "TIT" and a director with "DIC" after his name.")
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • The Series 3 episode "Yesterday Never Comes" has Del become romantically involved with an antiques dealer named Miranda Davenport. It's obvious to the audience she was only interested in a painting that hung in the Trotters flat, which they apparently don't know the value of. She manages to coerce Del into giving her it for a birthday present, assuring him that she just want to hang it in her home. At the end of the episode Del goes to meet her at an auction house, and finds the painting up for sale. Miranda smugly tells him she's registered the painting to show that it has been in her family for years. Turns out Del knew how valuable it was all along; his grandmother Violet stole it from an art dealer she had been a cleaner for, and Miranda is going to be in a lot of trouble for selling stolen property (or, if she tells the truth about what happened, for faking the paperwork). note 
    • Slater ends up being sent to prison for diamond smuggling after stealing the diamonds from Del and Boycie.
  • Layman's Terms: In "To Hull And Back":
    Hussein: (after examining the diamonds) These are blue white stone, purity absolutely clean, cut by experts. These are of the finest quality.
    Del: (on the phone to Boycie) He says they're pukka.
  • Leaning on the Furniture: One of the most infamous moments of the series has Del attempt to do this while out on the pull, only to fail to realise that the barman lifted the hatch while he wasn't looking, causing him to fall straight through the bar.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Frequently used by Del and others. "Fff..for Gawd's sake, Rodney!"
  • Life Saving Misfortune: A comedic example in "Miami Twice". While eating lunch at a fancy restaurant, Del drops his dumpling. As he bends down to pick it up, a sniper's bullet hits the back of his chair.
  • Lightning Reveal: Happens in "Friday the 14th", where the trio are staying in Boycie's cottage. Of course, the escaped serial killer only gets shown when Del turns around, so the whole thing also ends up being a case of a Cassandra Truth.
  • Locked in a Freezer: "Time on Our Hands" has one very moving scene where Del and Rodney are trapped in an elevator — Cassandra has recently miscarried, and Del finally manages to get him to talk about it. It is eventually revealed that Del hit the emergency stop himself, just to trap Rodney into talking.
  • Locked in a Room: In "Time On Our Hands", Del Boy deliberately stops an elevator in order to force Rodney to open up to him about his wife Cassandra's miscarriage. As a nod to the frequency of the trope, Del then repairs the lift, revealing that it was never broken in the first place.
  • London Gangster: The Driscoll brothers, Peckham's answer to the Kray Twins. Also, Freddy the Frog.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Rodney did this in the Series 2 episodes "The Long Legs of the Law" and "No Greater Love".
  • Loophole Abuse: In "May the Force Be With You", the Trotters were charged in relation to possessing a stolen microwave. Del is given the choice of either he and Rodney going to prison or giving up the name of the thief. He opted for the latter, on the condition that they all get signed immunity for charges relating to the microwave. He then tells Slater that he was the thief.
  • Loveable Rogue: Del Boy.
    • Boycie, originally a less lovable Sitcom Arch-Nemesis for Del Boy, developed into one following his own turn in the spotlight in The Green Green Grass.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: In the 1983 Christmas special "Thicker Than Water", both Del and Grandad seem unsure as to whether Reg is Rodney's father, leading Del to opine that Rodney is a "whodunnit". Reg claims that he is not Del's father, but he is found to be lying. In the 1987 Christmas special "The Frog's Legacy", Del and Albert hinted that Freddie the Frog, a gentleman safecracker had an affair with Del and Rodney's mum Joannie before Rodney was born. This rumor was confirmed to be true in the 2003 Christmas special "Sleepless in Peckham", when Rodney looks at a old photograph of the 1960 Jolly Boys' Outing and finds out that Freddie bears an uncanny resemblance to him.
    • The Prequel trilogy Rock & Chips tells the story of Joannie's affair with Freddie in the early 1960s.

     Tropes M-Z 
  • Made in Country X: In "Danger UXD", Uncle Albert tells Rodney that Del has just bought a new video recorder. Rodney replies that he was just reading in the paper that Taiwan is the only country with no rubbish dumps; they send it all to Del. Del quickly replies that the video recorder was actually made in Formosa. Uncle Albert tries to explain that Taiwan and Formosa are the same island, but Rodney advises him not to bother.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: In "A Losing Streak", a poker game eventually comes down to Del and Boycie. Del insists Boycie is bluffing, and when Boycie raises the stakes beyond the agreed limit persuades all the others to throw in everything they've got. It transpires Boycie is cheating, switching his cards under the table, and Del only has two pair. He then waits for Boycie to start raking in the winnings before inevitably adding "A pair of aces, and... another pair of aces". The subversion comes when Boycie demands to how Del got four aces, and Del replies "Same place you got them kings. I knew you was cheating, Boycie, because that wasn't the hand I dealt you."
  • Malaproper: Del Boy does this a lot, with both French and English.
    Raquel: (on hearing a story of a wartime romance) It's like Captain Corelli's Mandolin.
    Del: (whispering) What's Captain Pirelli's Mandarin?
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": In "Hole in One", Del Boy, Rodney and their lawyer Solly Atwell have one of these when they discover just how extensive Uncle Albert's record of falling down holes to claim compensation is.
    Rodney: I don't believe it!
    Del Boy: It's a bloody nightmare, Rodney, it's a bloody nightmare! He's been down more holes than Tony Jacklin!
  • Mathematician's Answer: In "If They Could See Us Now", in which Del Boy is on a quiz show hosted by Jonathan Ross:
    Jonathan Ross: In what state was President Kennedy in when he was shot?
    Del Boy: Well he was in a terrible state, he died!
  • Meadow Run: Conversational Troping in "Watching the Girls Go By".
    Del: You see, Rodders, I used to have this vision of love. I used to imagine that me and my sweetheart were running in slow motion through a field of buttercups. (Rodney rolls his eyes) We're both, y'know, we're both like that, dressed in white, and, like, I'd done a bit of weight. And suddenly, there in the background, I can hear Semprini's Orchestra playing the theme tune from Doctor Zhivago. (he starts to hum the theme, then stops as Albert leaves) Where's he going?
    Rodney: He's probably gone to be sick.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Part-way through the The Frog's Legacy, Del-Boy and Trigger's Aunt Reenie Turpin are discussing Freddy the Frog at a wedding when, in the background, the vicar enters the dining hall, just at the moment Reenie says the name 'Freddy Robdal' loudly, which causes the vicar to pause, look over, shake his head, and then walk away. This rather stealthily backs up the vicar's claim near the end of the episode, when he mentions to Del-Boy that he had heard them discussing Mr. Robdal.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Uncle Albert's sunk every ship he ever sailed on, with only the exception of the one he, Del and Rodney use to sail to Amsterdam in "To Hull and Back" — and even then, it's implied that he crashes into and sinks another boat in Hull harbour.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Reg Trotter. Del describes him as "a bit of a hard nut" with women and children, but not much bottle when it comes to other men.
  • Mistaken for an Imposter: Goes badly in "Dates" when Del hires a stripper to pretend to arrest Albert for his birthday. After his car is seen driven erratically (by Rodney), Del wrongly assumes the policewoman who comes to question him about the incident is another stripper hired by Albert in revenge. He pulls her clothes off and is arrested for indecent assault.
  • Mistaken for Cheating:
    • In "The Jolly Boys' Outing", both the Trotter brothers fall into this trope. During their weekend in Margate, they meet up with Del's former girlfriend Raquel, who is currently working as a Lovely Assistant to a Stage Magician called the Great Raymondo. When Del discovers Raquel and Raymondo share a flat, and Raymondo berates Raquel for letting the visitors in, he assumes Raquel is trapped in an abusive relationship and punches Raymondo before the man can explain he's gay. On their arrival home, Rodney discovers Cassandra's boss Steven in the flat with her (Del had previously fanned the flames of jealousy so Rodney would agree to go out for a drink in Margate, noting that Steven's wife was due to be away that weekend) and likewise starts an altercation, only for Steven's wife to walk in (her trip away was cancelled due to a train strike). While it's initially Played for Laughs, it turns out to be Played for Drama in subsequent episodes, as it takes a lot of time for Rodney and Cassandra's relationship to recover.
    • It goes the other way in the episode "The Chance of a Lunchtime". Just as Rodney and Cassandra appear to have reconciled, Cassandra drives past The Nag's Head and catches Rodney in a Not What It Looks Like moment: Rodney was innocently trying to help Del's drunken ex-girlfriend Trudy get into a cab. Cassandra promptly throws him out again.
  • Mistaken for Prank Call:
    • In "If The Could See Us Now", Del Boy is on a Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? style quiz show, while Mickey Pearce harasses Rodney with prank calls. When Del uses his "phone a friend" to call Rodney, he initially assumes it's Mickey, but then realises. Unfortunately, he gives the wrong answer. Later, Del gets a phone call from the producer saying the question was worded poorly, and he's won after all. Absolutely certain that this is Mickey, he says to give it all to charity.
    • In "Dates", Del has earlier pranked Albert with a policewoman/stripper and is expecting some kind of retaliation. When he is told at the end by a policewoman that he is under arrest for some fairly far-fetched sounding reasons, he automatically assumes that the prank is being repaid. When he tries to assist the 'stripper' to undress, a definite Oh, Crap! moment results...
  • Mob Debt: Becomes the driving plot of "Little Problems" when Del discovers to his horror that a number of dodgy mobile telephones he bought off Mickey Pearce and Jevon and has been struggling to sell on, where actually supplied by the Driscoll Brothers who now expect to be paid £2000 for them. Del actually does manage to get the money, but as he'd already promised Rodney he would provide him the money for a deposit for his and Cassandra's new flat, he opts to give the money to his brother so he can start his new life with his wife, and thus accepts a severe beating from the gangsters.
  • Money to Throw Away: At end of "To Hull and Back" Del Boy throws away £15,000 thinking it's counterfeit. It's not.
  • Monochrome Casting: The series was criticised for depicting Peckham as a mostly white area and for a general lack of ethnic minority regulars (the obvious exception being Paul Barber as Denzil), although we see one black neighbour and mention is made of several unseen characters of BAME ethnicities in the neighbourhood.
  • Mood Whiplash: The infamous "Batman & Robin" scene interrupts a mugging that's played seriously and realistically until that point.
  • Mrs. Robinson: In "No Greater Love", 22-year-old Rodney Trotter dates 40-year-old Irene Mackay, to the shock and horror of his family. It's made even worse by the fact that Irene's ex-husband Tommy is a very violent and abusive individual that makes Reg Trotter look like Father of the Year.
  • Multigenerational Household: In the early series, Del and Rodney share their flat with their Grandfather. Following Granddad's funeral, his estranged brother Uncle Albert moves in.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg:
    • Del describes the seating plan for the meal with Raquel's parents as "Girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, and Uncle Albert."
    • Reg does this a few times when he returns and tries to split Del off from the rest of the family.
    Reg: [dealing cards] One for me, dad, Rodney, Kemosabe.
    Reg: We can all have a family sing-song this evening. [To Del] You can join in if you like!
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Del is notorious for speaking foreign phrases, mostly French, which he often gets badly mixed up. Notable examples include using Au revoir for "hello", Mange tout for "Of course!", Creme de la menthe for "The very best' and uses "Chateauneuf du Pape!" as a swear word. And who can forget Pot Pourri used as "I don't believe it."
  • My Local: The Nag's Head.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Damien, with The Omen (1976) jokes.
  • Never My Fault: The Trotters have a nasty habit of blaming each other when things go pear-shaped. However, the person being blamed always calls the accuser out on it. One example, in "Rodney Come Home", after Cassandra kicks Rodney out for seemingly taking another woman out to the pictures, Rodney worries that Cassandra's father is going to fire him, as he's left a message saying that there's something important they need to talk about. Uncle Albert tells one of his war stories about an officer who was facing a court-martial and handed in his resignation. In those days, only commissioned officers were allowed to control the radio room. Because he was the only commissioned communications officer on the ship the ship, they couldn't sail without him. So, they had to refuse his resignation and cancel his court-martial. Rodney follows suit, thinking that Cassandra's father will turn down the resignation, since it's so close to Christmas and more orders are coming in. When Rodney meets him, it turns out he just wanted to talk about the extra workload. Then he finds Rodney's resignation and accepts it. Rodney blames Albert.
  • Nice Guy: Denzil, after the swerve in his personality made after his somewhat problematic first appearance, defaults into a decent and likeable chap who just keeps getting roped into Del's shenanigans out of trying to help a friend in a fix.
  • No Name Given: Grandad's first name "Ted" was only revealed in the book series The Bible of Peckham and the pilot episode of Rock and Chips.
  • Nobody Here but Us Birds: In "To Hull and Back", Rodney is left on lookout while Del discusses diamond smuggling with Boycie and is told to make an owl noise if the police arrive. The strangled noise he actually makes is mistaken by DCI Slater for a crow. At least partly because Slater has no interest in stopping them, since they're just patsies in his smuggling operaton.
  • Noodle Incident: In "Healthy Competition":
    Grandad: You want to watch that young Pearcey, he's a bit too fly for my liking. He'd rob his own grandmother, he would.
    Rodney: Oh don't be stupid, Grandad. [softly] That was never proved.
  • Not Rare Over There: "Cash and Curry" uses this as the punchline to a Violin Scam: the boys raise a huge amount of money (worth just over £7,700/$10,000 in 2019) to buy a rare Hindu statue from one man, intending to sell it to another. Both men then disappear leaving them with the statue ... with the brothers only realizing that they've been duped when they find two identical statues in an Indian restaurant and the manager tells them he got them for seventeen pounds each at Portobello Road.
    Restaurant Manager: It's amazing what you can save if you shop around.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Del sometimes does this when he wants to manipulate someone else into having an idea that he's had, and thinking it was their idea in the first place.
    • For example, in the 2000s trilogy, Del has been declared bankrupt and banned from being the manager of Trotters Independent Traders. He realizes that someone else - namely, Rodney - could manage Trotters Independent Traders and hire him to work for them. Instead of just asking Rodney if he'll be the new manager, Del proceeds to manipulate Rodney into coming up with the idea of managing the company himself. He even pretends to not understand what Rodney is suggesting and that he needs it explaining to him again, presumably to strengthen the illusion that it was Rodney's idea.
    • There's another wonderful example of this in "Mother Nature's Son", when Del effortlessly manipulates Myles into coming up with the idea of bottling and selling water from the "spring" he's just found on the Trotters' allotment.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • After Granddad learns Slater is in the police, his jaw drops for about thirty seconds. A couple of minutes later in the same episode, the whole family gets one when Slater arrests them, and Slater himself has one when Del's Batman Gambit pays off.
    • The episode called "Tea For Three" gives Del an epic one when he realises that Rodney has set him up in front of the handgliders.
    • Rodney's Oh, Crap! moments were accompanied by a magnificent wide-eyed open-mouthed rabbit-in-the-headlights expression. Check out the look on his face when their coach explodes in "The Jolly Boys' Outing".
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: In the latter episodes, Rodney and Cassandra were fond of bringing up the art contest and subsequent holiday in "The Unlucky Winner Is..." whenever they needed an example of Del's mistreatment of Rodney, to the point where Del even lampshades it in "Beckham in Peckham".
  • One Degree of Separation: Most of the main characters in Only Fools and Horses (Del, Rodney, Trig, Denzil and Boycie) grew up together in Peckham. That makes sense. Local Dirty Cop Slater is also introduced as a former classmate of theirs. What strains credibility somewhat is when Raquel - who didn't grow up in Peckham - learns her ex-husband is in town and he turns out to be Slater the Slag ....
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Trigger is only ever referred to as such.
  • Only Sane Man: Varies depending on the episode in question. Prior to the seventh series it was usually Rodney, though occasionally Uncle Albert would step into the role. Starting with the 1990 Christmas special "Rodney Come Home" however, Raquel would invariably prove to be the only fully sane member of the Trotter family.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: While playing Don Occhetti in "Miami Twice", David Jason occasionally slips into his Del Boy voice.
  • Oop North: For part of "To Hull and Back" Del ends up in Hull:
    Del Boy: Just get me back to Peckham or I'll be saying "Eh-up!" and breeding whippets before I'm much older!
    • The only main character not from London is the Liverpudlian Denzil.
  • Orphaned Punchline:
    • We only hear the conclusion of Mike's joke in "Strained Relations" The actual joke is about a Western man dating a Chinese restaurant chef learning that the LOL, 69 trope apparently does not translate into Chinese:
    "So the Chinese bird says to him, 'Listen I ain't cooking at this time of night.'"
    • Reg delivers the final line of a funny story in "Thicker than Water":
    "I saw him years later, and he still had the scar!"
  • Our Presidents Are Different: In Rodney's dystopian dream at the start of "Heroes and Villains", Keanu Reeves is the President.
  • Papa Wolf: Derek Trotter; a womanising, chain smoking, gambling, borderline alcoholic who has at various points in his life bribed officials, sold both stolen and smuggled goods and is guilty of both tax and VAT fraud on a massive scale. But if you ever try and threaten his family - Del will be unhappy.
  • Parental Abandonment: The Trotters' mother Joan died when they were young, while their Jerkass father Reg abandoned them. They were not happy when he returned in "Thicker than Water". Del frequently speaks of his mother with great fondness.
  • The Peeping Tom: Damien spies on Cassandra in the shower in "If They Could See Us Now".
  • Perpetual Poverty: The main cast seem to be just a few days/weeks from failing to pay rent and ending up evicted. "A Losing Streak" and "Sickness and Wealth" come to mind here, since it's mentioned in universe how everyone's pretty much completely skint. Somehow the Trotters still don't run out of money for food or other essential items, or get thrown out.
  • Person as Verb: Danny Driscoll to Del:
    Those two munchkins work for you and you're doing a bit of a Fagin, but you picked the wrong ones this time.
  • Pivotal Wake-up: Inverted by that time Del Boy fell through the bar.
  • Pocket Protector: Parodied. In "Homesick", Grandad launches into the story about the cigarette case belonging to his grandfather, which deflected the bullet aimed at his heart, saving his life... at least, until it went up his nose and blew his brains out.
    Grandad: I want you to have it. My grandmother always said it was lucky.
    Rodney: Lucky? It went up his nose and blew his bloody brains out!
    Del: Could have been worse? It could have shot downwards and ruined his entire life!
  • Point That Somewhere Else: In "A Royal Flush", Rodney's girlfriend takes him clay pigeon shooting on her father's estate. On his first turn, Rodney steps up to the shooting area then turns round to speak to the others, inadvertently pointing his shotgun at them. The others yell at him to lower the barrel but because he's wearing ear protectors he can't hear them. Not until the girlfriend's father steps forward and pushes the gun barrel down towards the ground does Rodney realise what he had done.
  • Politeness Judo:
    • In order to get a cheaper round Del bets Mike the barman he can make him turn his hands over without touching them;
    Mike puts his hand out
    Del: No the other way
    Mike turns them over
    Del puts a note in this hand and walks away with the drinks.
    • The payoff to this is Trigger Comically Missing the Point after watching Del pull the trick on Mike. He gets Rodney to turn over his hands and then gives him a fiver.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Del is occasionally quite homophobic. Unfortunately this aspect of his character was a product of its time, but the show often addressed this by gradually playing his homophobia at his expense and having his more idealistic younger brother call him out on it - such as a time Del believes he might have caught AIDS from an effeminate hairdresser.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Trigger does this, be it confusing Agatha Christie with Julie Christie, not knowing that Gandhi was a real person and assuming Del and Rodney dressed as Batman and Robin are The Lone Ranger and Tonto.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: In "Go West, Young Man", Del borrows Boycie's Jaguar E-Type (for various reasons), and just when he decides to stop in the road at the end of the episode, the car gets crashed into by a dodgy car with no brakes Del had sold to an Australian guy earlier in the episode.
  • Pretentious Pronunciation: In the third and final episode of Rock and Chips, "The Frog and the Pussycat", Freddie Robdal manages to allay Joannie Trotter's (perfectly correct) suspicion that a diamond ring in a box from "Margate Jewellers" is stolen from a jeweler's shop in Margate by claiming it is the work of a French jeweler pronounced "Mar-jay".
  • Promotion to Parent: Del Boy and Rodney Trotter's mother Joan died when Rodney was a baby and their father Reg left as soon as Del was a teenager, so Del had to raise Rodney himself, with help from Grandad.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The deaths of the actors who played Grandad and Uncle Albert were followed by the deaths of the characters in the show. Corrine and Mike, Denzil's wife and the pub landlord respectively, were also both written out of the series when the actors playing them passed away. Corrine was said to have divorced Denzil after being fed up with him, and Mike was caught by a federal investigation for fraud and serving prison time. John Sullivan was strongly opposed to the use of [1] other actors and when BBC executives suggested he deal with the problem of Lennard Pearce’s death by recasting Grandad, he put his foot down and created Uncle Albert instead.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: An in-universe example takes place in "Beckham in Peckham," when Del claims to be selling a line of underpants personally endorsed by David Beckham in exchange for arranging a bouncy castle for one of his children's birthday parties. The market regulars initially just laugh this off as the pack of lies his stories usually are, but in the next scene we find out that Del was telling the truth for once.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: The series started with this for its first series and Christmas special. Most repeats and DVD releases of the first series nowadays replace it with the more familiar opening theme introduced in series two, though the 1981 Christmas special still opens with the original tune when repeated on GOLD.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack:
    • The DVD releases were made before blanket licensing deals were introduced in the UK, which would allow episodes to be released as originally broadcast, so several songs were cut.
    • In "Time On Our Hands", "Our House" by Crosby, Stills & Nash has been replaced by a cover version sung by Helen Ruddy.
  • Retool: Happened with the 1988 Christmas special "Dates" - prior to that episode, the series had focused almost exclusively on Del's get-rich-quick schemes, but in subsequent episodes the show would start to involve Del and Rodney's personal lives much more, aided by the episodes being doubled in length.
  • Rhino Rampage: In "Video Nasty", Rodney is trying to come up with an idea for a feature film. Del suggests There's a Rhino Loose in the City. Once the sheer implausibility of this is explored (How do you lose a rhino and not notice? Where would it hide? And what is it doing in the city?), a deflated Del sarcastically suggests that they change the title to There's a Rhino Loose out in the Sticks Where No Sod Lives.
  • Riding into the Sunset: The ending of "Time On Our Hands", which John Sullivan wanted to be the last-ever episode, before it was renewed for another set of Christmas episodes; the idea was that during this sequence, Del, Rodney and Albert would be replaced by cartoon versions of themselves.
  • Running Gag: Albert's "During the war..." in the later series, especially the specials - in which any mention is automatically followed by groaning from everyone else in the vicinity. "Mum said to me on her death bed..." from Del is another gag from start to finish - to believe Del, Joannie spent her last three weeks doing nothing but giving Del advice and anecdotes that he could use through the rest of his life. It's unclear what she actually said at that time. Both are Lampshaded increasingly often as time goes on - causing the former to be subverted when Del threatens Albert with violence if he says it, so... "During the 1939-1945 conflict with Germany..." in "Time on Our Hands".
    • As for the latter, in "It's Only Rock and Roll", Rodney reminds Del about a row they had on whose turn it was to go and get the fish and chips, and Del claimed that Joannie said on her death bed, "Send Rodney for the fish." This makes Del admit he was drunk when he said that.
    • Trigger calling Rodney Dave, various others come up in individual episodes.
    • In earlier series (before Marlene actually appeared) Boycie would make a comment along the lines of "I said to Marlene - you remember Marlene..." only for (usually) Del to reply "Oh yes, Boycie, all the lads remember Marlene" and Boycie to give him a puzzled look before continuing.
    • Del's increasingly inventive ways of avoiding paying for parking the van (a 'Corps Diplomatic' sticker, putting an 'out of order' bag on a meter, 'midwife on call' sign on the dashboard).
    • A more subtle example. The Trotters' living room set changes in every episode, a nod to their lifestyle and the fact that everything they own is for sale.
  • Screaming Birth Mostly averted. Despite having a detailed birth episode for the arrival of Damien, the portrayal is pretty realistic- Raquel yells a few times but doesn't scream, and it's made very clear that they're in the birth suite for several hours before he arrives. Joan's birth, more than ten years later, is off camera and by caesarean.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: An idea of a stage show was mooted by Ray Butt, following the success of other sitcom crossovers such as Dad's Army and Are You Being Served?. Sullivan was not keen, owing to his work on Just Good Friends as well as Only Fools and Horses, and inexperience with the theatre, so nothing came of it. In 2019, a stage musical based on the series was launched, written by Sullivan's son Jim and Paul Whitehouse, who also played Grandad.
  • Sequel Reset: The 1996 run of Christmas Episodes finishes with Del, Rodney and Uncle Albert having achieved their dreams of wealth and success and walking into the sunset. Then, they made a later series, which takes this all away and reduces them to the same barely-scraping-by life they were leading before, except Rodney would now become a father, and Albert's will saved the Trotters from getting evicted.
  • Series Continuity Error: Del and Rodney's exact age varies, depending on which episode you watch.
  • Series Fauxnale:
    • The season five finale "Who Wants to Be a Millionare" was originally planned to be the final episode with Del leaving to go to Australia after David Jason had stated his intention to leave the show to John Sullivan. This would have resulted in a spin-off entitled Hot-Rod with Rodney and Mickey Pearce taking over Trotters Independent Traders, as well as featuring all the other regular cast members and an option of Del returning at a later date. However, in the end, Jason changed his mind and decided to stay on, and Sullivan had to change the ending.
    • The December 1996 trilogy of Heroes and Villains, Modern Men, and Time on Our Hands were originally intended to be the Grand Finale for the show (the final episode pulling 24.1 million viewers), but another trilogy broadcast between 2001 and 2003 soon came.
    • Before that, the 1987 Christmas Special "The Frog's Legacy" had been written as a potential finale to the show — establishing a way for the Trotters to potentially become millionaires some day via the titular stash of gold bullion — due to concerns about how viable it was to continue the series after the terrible reception of the previous year's Christmas special, "A Royal Flush".
  • Shame If Something Happened: Slater invokes this against Del in "May the Force Be With You", when he suggests that if Del and Rodney were to go to prison, Grandad would be left to live alone on their estate.
  • Short-Distance Phone Call: In "Modern Men", Rodney, applying for a job he's seen advertised in the paper, unknowingly calls Del's mobile (because Del advertised for someone to do Rodney's job when Rodney wanted out). Del, in the kitchen, puts on a silly voice and strings him along for a bit.
  • Shout-Out: Rodney's dream at the beginning of "Heroes and Villains" is in part a send-up of Cold Lazarus, which had aired earlier that year. The endless references made to The Omen (1976) with Damien also qualify.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Del attempts this in "Cash and Curry":
    As MacBeth said to Hamlet in A Midsummer Night's Dream, "We've been done up like a right couple of kippers.
  • Sibling Triangle: "Tea for Three" had Del and Rodney feuding over Trigger's niece, despite Uncle Albert warning them that this is exactly what caused the rift between him and Grandad. A couple of Zany Schemes later, it all ended with Rodney sunburnt and Del in a hang-gliding accident. And it turns out Lisa's already engaged anyway.
  • Signature Headgear: Grandad's trilby.
  • Signature Laugh: Boycie's.
  • Significant Monogram: Del Boy names his son Damien Derek Trotter. Rodney points out that this makes his initials DDT.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: In "Heroes and Villains", the Trotters chase off a pair of louts who are trying to mug an old lady and have knocked her to the ground. She's fine, but her vulgar response shocks Del and Rodney.
  • Sitcom: Rather obviously.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Averted with Roy Slater. He's presented in the context of this trope, but is genuinely villainous. He's a Dirty Cop, a borderline-abusive husband, and a sociopath.
  • Smug Snake: Boycie, Slater and Mickey Pearce.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Rodney starts off as one, given to delivering speeches about nuclear war, the environment, unemployment and other typical concerns of left-wing young people in The '80s. In later series as he matures he becomes, of all things, a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Something That Begins with "Boring": Del and Rodney do this when stuck in a lift; they come up with "Walls".
  • Son of a Whore: Possibly Trigger, whose birth certificate states his father as "some soldiers."
  • Speech Impediment: In "Stage Fright", Raquel finds out to her cost why her singing partner's signature song is "Delilah". He is able to make tweaks to the lyrics so it doesn't have any Rs in it. When she persuaded him to diversify his repertoire, they ended up singing "Cwying", followed by (off-screen, described in Raquel's rant at Del Boy who legged it halfway through the performance, which was for a notorious gangster) "Congwatulations", "Please Welease Me" and "The Gween Gween Gwass of Home". And that was followed by a medley of Wock 'n' Woll!
  • Spin-Off:
    • Boycie got his own BBC series, The Green Green Grass.
    • Prequel: Rock and Chips (originally announced as Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Chips), which is set in 1960 and features a young Del Boy, his mother Joan and Freddie the Frog. It's a bit of a Genre Shift, being a rather downbeat drama with some laughs rather than the traditional sitcom of the original (and The Green Green Grass).
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To Steptoe and Son. Both were sitcoms about a family of working-class traders in London that had dramatic moments, but Fools and Horses was much more positive and upbeat than Steptoe and Son ever was.
  • Springtime for Hitler: In the 1985 Christmas special "To Hull and Back," the owner of a boat rental company agrees to let the Trotters hire one of his boats, thinking that they're certain to sink or otherwise badly damage it, which will result in a hefty insurance payout. The boat in question ends up being the only ship which Uncle Albert ever failed to sink—though the owner's scheme doesn't backfire on him, and he presumably still ends up with the rental fee that Del paid, plus the boat itself to foist off on some other unsuspecting fool.
  • Staged Pedestrian Accident: Uncle Albert used a variant in "Hole in One"; using his parachute training to fall safely down open pub cellars.
  • Stalker with a Crush: In the 1993 Christmas special "Fatal Extraction", during a brief split from Raquel, Del sets up a date with Beverly, the receptionist of his local dentist, but calls it off after Rodney manages to talk him out of it. In the following days, Del sees Beverly wherever he goes, and starts to believe that she's stalking him. In a subversion, it turns out that their meetings were coincidental, and Beverly actually believes that Del is stalking her. She thought the date was a bad idea to begin with and didn't mind it being called off, but Del's threatening behaviour when he confronts her actually motivates Beverly into taking revenge by selling Raquel an answering machine which had Del's message about cancelling the date on it.
  • Starts with Their Funeral: "Strained Relations" opens with Grandad's funeral. This was a necessity, as Lennard Pearce had recently died, so it was much a farewell to the actor as the character. David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst found the scene difficult for this reason.
  • Status Quo Game Show: In "If They Could See Us Now", Del goes on Goldrush and loses in the final round. Then the producers realise that, wait a minute, his answer was actually right. So they call him up to apologize and offer him the prize money. But he assumes it's a prank call and tells them to give the money to charity.
  • Status Quo Is God: After a few years living as millionaire jet setters, the Trotters lose their fortune and end up back in their old flat in Peckham.
  • Stealing from the Till: In the Christmas Trilogy, it's revealed that Mike lost everything in one of Del's scams and got arrested for stealing from the brewery.
  • Stealing the Credit: Rodney accuses Del of doing this when the latter receives a medal for apprehending a mugger:
    Rodney: How come you got a medal? I did most of the running.
    Del: Yes Rodney, but you were running away from him.
  • Story Arc: First done due to Real Life Writes the Plot in Series 4, the first three episodes of which saw Grandad's death and Uncle Albert's introduction to the family. The show started doing full story arcs after the the Retool, with Series 6 encompassing Rodney and Cassandra's relationship and marriage, Series 7 featuring the troubles of the same relationship alongside Raquel's re-introduction and subsequent pregnancy, and the 1996 and 2001-2003 trilogies both containing their own Story Arcs.
  • Straw Feminist: While generally not too obnoxious about it, Raquel does have a habit of ranting about how all men have it easy in life, and how only women ever truly suffer (though after watching her give birth, Del does kind of see where she's coming from on the second point).
  • Stripper/Cop Confusion: In "Dates", Del mistakes a policewoman for a stripper (It Makes Sense in Context) and impatiently rips her blouse open. He realizes his mistake too late.
  • Strong Family Resemblance:
    • Rodney looks exactly like his dad, Freddie Robdal, as seen in Rock and Chips. The discovery of an old photograph of Freddie in "Sleepless in Peckham" proves beyond any doubt who Rodney's father is.
    • Peter Woodthorpe was cast as Reg Trotter because of his passing resemblance to David Jason. He even dresses the same way as Del.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: In "May the Force Be With You":
    Slater: According to you and your family, we are looking for a 6ft 7in dwarf, aged between 15 and 50, a white male with oriental features, who's as black as Newgate's knocker!
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Uncle Albert for Grandad. Chris for Jevon.
  • Team Mom: Raquel by the later stages has become this.
  • Tears from a Stone: In "The Miracle of Peckham", the statue of the Virgin Mary in the local Catholic church is seen to cry. Del uses this and his own salesman skills to raise money for the church. It turns out someone stole all the lead off the roof and the rain's getting in. And Del knew this; his "sense" of when the statue would cry was based on weather forecasts.
  • Theme Tune: Written and sung by writer John Sullivan (not Nicholas Lyndhurst as is sometimes thought).
    Stick a pony note  in my pocket,
    I'll fetch my suitcase from the van,
    'Cause if you want the best ones,
    But you don't ask questions,
    Then brother, I'm your man..."
  • Theseus' Ship Paradox: To the point where a lot of British people know it as the "Trigger's Broom Paradox". In "Heroes and Villains", Trigger is given a medal for owning the same broom for 20 years, although it has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles. When asked how can it be the same broom, Trigger produces a picture of himself and his broom and asks, "What more proof do you need?"
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave:
    • Del claims certain members of the Trotters' extended family fit this trope ("you offer them a cup of tea and they think you've adopted them!"), noting that when their father came to stay for one night, it took over a week to get rid of him.
    • Uncle Albert was this to a number of relatives prior to moving in with Del and Rodney. He moved in with cousins Stan and Jean (having only visited to borrow a screwdriver), but they left him at the Trotters' flat after Grandad's funeral and quickly moved house. Another relative he stayed with emigrated while he was at the shops. He then became this to the Trotters, even provoking Del, pushed past his limits, to try to get him to leave. Del eventually relents and decides to let Albert stay because "He's fam'ly, in' he?" and Del cannot refuse to take his family in.
    • Rodney was also known to become this when having problems with his marriage, by going back to stay with his brother and be reluctant to leave - until he found that Raquel had already beaten him to the vacant room, leaving him on the sofa and kind of feeling this way about her. The situation was resolved by Raquel and Del Boy making a Relationship Upgrade, slightly reducing the pressure on space (until the relationship produced little Damien, anyway...)
  • Theme Music Abandonment: John Sullivan wrote the theme music when he wrote the first series, but the BBC decided to go with a different theme composed by Ronnie Hazelhurst. Sullivan disliked the new theme, and before the second series aired he persuaded the producers to use his own compositions instead.
  • Title Drop: Never in the series itself, but the title lyrics ask "why do only fools and horses work?"
  • Title, Please!: "Christmas Crackers" (the first Christmas special) is the only episode in which the title doesn't appear on-screen in any form.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Freddie the Frog accidentally blew up himself and his friend Jelly Kelly when he sat on a detonator during a bank robbery.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Del considers his mother Joan as having been an example of this.
    • Hints are often dropped about what Joan was really like, to which Del is oblivious. She was apparently the first woman in Peckham to smoke menthol cigarettes, and was remembered "standing in the corner of a pub with two geezers". Del also recounts a story of Reg beating up a good-looking Italian man for stealing from Joan (one of her earrings had been found on the back seat of said man's car).
    • Subverted big-time in Rock and Chips where it's revealed that Joan was nearly as devious as her son—if a bit more kind-hearted—and not only did she have an affair which resulted in her becoming pregnant and giving birth to Rodney, she used Rodney's birth to secure the family a better home in Nelson Mandela House.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Del to Denzil. When Corrine listed a number of times that Del had screwed him over and conned him into joining one of his failed get-rich-quick schemes, Denzil's simple reply?
    Denzil: Yeah I know, but he's a mate!
    • In some ways, Del Boy is this to his brother Rodney. At one point, Rodney is trying to defend his brother to his wife by saying, "Look, I agree that Del can get a bit out of hand, but I think it's unfair to say that everything he touches goes wrong." At this point the bus behind him promptly explodes due to a faulty radio Del installed over the main fuel line. Some of his more notable exploits have been things like convincing Rodney that he is the "man of the house", causing him to break his wife's boss's nose, and convincing Rodney to stay on a trip with him despite the fact that Rodney, 26, will have to pretend he's 14 the entire time he's there.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: There have been a lot of attempts to make an American version, but none have succeeded. In 2012, a pilot entitled King of Van Nuys, starring John Leguizamo as Del and Christopher Lloyd as Grandad, was rejected by ABC.
  • Translate the Loanwords, Too: In "Strangers on the Shore, Del knows the French for "duck", but can't figure out how to translate the "a l'orange" bit of his favourite meal.
  • Translation by Volume: Faked by Trigger to help Del get away in "A Royal Flush":
    Trigger: You are looking for the Hilton Hotel?
    Del: Si! Heelton 'otel!
    Trigger: Okay. Turn left at the top of the road.
    Del: Si!
    Trigger: And you'll see a bus stop! Big red bus!
    Del: Si!
    Trigger: Get a 159 to Park Lane and that is where the Hilton Hotel is!
  • Translation Trainwreck: An in-universe example of this occurred in the Christmas 2010 episode of Rock and Chips, "Five Gold Rings". Freddie Robdal told Joanie Trotter a French phrase roughly meaning "I am enjoying this food" while driving her home. Joanie then repeats this at the Trotters' dinner, and while it remains vaguely recognisable, she totally butchers the grammar and syntax of the phrase. The young Del Boy overhears this and thinks he'll impress his new girlfriend's parents by telling them the phrase, but mangles it even more and instead ends up telling them about how he enjoys a certain sexual position.
  • Translation: "Yes": Happens in "From Prussia With Love" from English to English when the trio meet Anna, a German girl who has just been fired from her job as au pair because she's pregnant. As the slightly more educated one in the family, Rodney is forced to translate for Del Boy and Albert. The exchange goes something like this:
    Anna: Mr Wainwright said that my disruptive influence on Spencer makes it inexpedient for me to remain.
    Del Boy and Albert: *looking at Rodney for a translation* Please?
    Rodney: He said, "On yer bike".
  • Tricked into Signing: "Stage Fright" has Del tricking a pub singer into signing a contract by making it look like he's asking for an autograph (he doesn't even have to lie that much either, he just lets the singer assume it's an autograph). Ironically, towards the end of the episode, it's the singer who threatens Del with the contract to get what he wants (i.e his pay).
  • Trojan Ambulance: In "Chain Gang", Con Man Arnie has this as a key part of his MO. He offers to sell his mark(s) a Handcuffed Briefcase full of gold chains at half-price, claiming he's lost touch with the intended buyer (supposedly not someone you want to cross) who then conveniently calls right after the money has been handed over. Arnie then persuades them to sell the chains to the buyer at full price (with himself as middleman so the man won't get suspicious), then fakes a heart attack while supposedly waiting for him, and is picked up by his sons in an ambulance (still cuffed to the briefcase), who speed through every red light until they've shaken off the frantic marks — who later get a call from the "hospital" claiming he's died. However, the plan unravels after Rodney — whom he'd previously scammed along with Del, Boycie, Albert and Trigger — sees Arnie being carried away from his latest "heart attack". Learning that their friend Denzil is to be his next mark, they get an ambulance of their own and beat his sons to the punch, leading to a major Oh, Crap! moment for Arnie when he opens his eyes to learn whom he's trapped in a moving vehicle with.
  • Two Decades Behind: Mickey Pearce was fond of wearing Zoot Suits. Not too unusual in 1983 when he made his first appearance, but as the show entered the 90's and 00's, it became a Running Gag that his sense of fashion was seemingly locked in the 80's and refused to budge.
  • Two-Headed Coin: In the Series 2 episode "A Losing Streak", Grandad gives Del a two-headed coin, which he tries to use to win bets with Boycie. Unfortunately, because he tosses, Boycie gets to call and keeps calling heads. At the end, after Del's beaten Boycie at poker, he offers Boycie double or nothing on the coin, but because Boycie thinks the law of averages means he's bound to lose this time, Del suggests that instead Rodney could call it as Del's representative. He spins the coin...and Rodney calls tails.
  • Umbrella Drink: Del Boy has a fondness for these, being under the erroneous impression that they make him look sophisiticated.
  • Umpteenth Customer: In "The Longest Night", the Trotters are shopping when they're asked to go to the manager's office. They see a sign saying the millionth customer will get a thousand pounds, and assume that's them. Instead, they're accused of shoplifting. And then held hostage along with the manager and store detective by an armed robber. It eventually transpires that this was all a plot by the manager and detective to take the money, with Del, Rodney and Albert as independent witnesses, but went wrong because the robber's watch (bought from Del) was slow, so he missed the safe's time lock. After everything's been resolved with no harm done as long as the Trotters don't spill the beans, Del suggests to the manager that maybe they will turn out to be the millionth customers after all...
  • Unseen Character: Joan Trotter; numerous shady associates of Del's (Paddy the Greek, Sunglasses Ron, Monkey Harris etc)
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist:
    • Averted with Del Boy. He has many of the common traits of the typical UCP, including ambition that far exceeds his ability, criminal tendencies, substance abuse (of the cigarettes and alcohol variety), is a Jerkass and has a complete shopping list of personality flaws. However, his unflappable optimism, highly protective attitude to his friends and family and the occasional glimpse that under the surface he can actually be quite sensitive make him a very sympathetic character for all his failings.
    • Boycie plays this trope straight, he's sleazy and smug and there really isn't an awful lot to like about him. Also his moustache is stupid. He became slightly more sympathetic once he had his own turn in the spotlight. His attempts (and eventual success) to conceive a son were also something a small redeeming aspect.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • "Plonker", which apparently derives from a slang term for penis, which isn't used any more.
    • Slightly less often, "dipstick", which is a tool for measuring the oil levels in a car. The metaphorical meaning should be obvious.
  • Unwanted Gift Plot: In "Heroes and Villains", Del buys Rodney a gold identity bracelet inscribed with the name "Rooney". Rodney can't quite bring himself to say he doesn't like it, even as ever more people notice the name "Rooney" and comment on it.
  • Uptown Girl: Working-class Rodney and well-heeled Cassandra. Before meeting Cassandra, Rodney also dated earl's daughter Lady Victoria.
  • Vacation Episode: "Miami Twice" and "It Never Rains..."
  • Vanilla Edition: The entire series has been completely released on DVD, but with no bonus features and several scenes and music cues cut.
  • Video Credits: Many of the intros did this with the three main characters.
  • Violin Scam: A variant was done in the episode "Cash and Curry" where the conmen were of Indian descent and the supposedly valuable object was a statue of a Hindu god. The con was played with a variation, where the two conmen claimed that they were unable to talk to each other because they were of different castes; and of course, the episode ended with a thoroughly Anvilicious scene where the conmen pointed out that only a prejudiced person attempting to swindle clueless immigrants would fall for such a scam.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Del and Rodney. Though they clearly share a strong bond, the brothers spend most of their lives bickering, engaging in one-upmanship, double-crossing one another, and enjoying a laugh at the other's expense.
  • Walking into the Sunset: The ending of "Time on Our Hands", which John Sullivan wanted to be the last-ever episode, before it was renewed for another set of Christmas episodes; the idea was that during this sequence, Del, Rodney and Albert would be replaced by cartoon versions of themselves.
  • Walk the Plank: In "May the Force Be With You", Roy Slater complains that he was always the one who had to walk the plank when they played pirates in the local park pond as kids. Del points out that they did let him play Bluebeard once. Slater responds that was the day that Bluebeard had to walk the plank.
    • This was referenced in the pilot episode of the Rock and Chips trilogy when after being told by the school gym teacher to buzz off, Del and his gang suggest heading to the park, and Slater protests that he doesn't want to walk the plank again. Del assures him that grown-ups don't play pirates. However, when the gang are seen hanging out in the Ritz Cinema (where Del's mother Joan works), Slater is soaking wet.
  • War Is Hell: In "The Russians Are Coming", Granddad gives a bitter speech to Del Boy after the latter seems to not take the threat of war seriously.
    Granddad: I remember when I was a little nipper, and I saw all the soldiers marching off to battle. Ohh, yes! It was a glorious sight, alright.
    Granddad: My brother George was at Passchendaele. Half a million allied troops died there, all for five miles of mud! I was at Kings Cross Station when his regiment come home after the Armistice. Most of them was carried off the train. I saw men with limbs missing, blind men, men who couldn't breathe properly because their lungs had been shot to bits by mustard gas. While the nation celebrated, they was hidden away in big, grey buildings - far from the public gaze! (chokes back tears) I mean, courage like that could put you right off your victory tea, couldn't it? (Beat) They promised us homes fit for heroes. They give us heroes fit for homes.
  • Wealthy Ever After: This would have been the ending, if it hadn't been brought back five years later. But at least it allowed Rodney to find out who his real father is, and become a father himself.
  • Weird Aside: In "The Yellow Peril":
    Del: I like it here though, don't you Rodney? Nice and quiet, away from the crowds and the noise and the traffic. It really is. It's so quiet...
    Rodney: Yeah.
    Del: Tranquil.
    Rodney: Mmm.
    Del: You're decorating the kitchen of a Chinese take-away tomorrow.
    Rodney: Yeah.
    Del: The sun is shining, the birds are singing...
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Even after her death, it's very clear that everything Del does is because he wants to make his Mum proud.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: Played for laughs with Marlene and Boycie's baby son Tyler, on account of Marlene's prior reputation ("all the lads remember Marlene") and Boycie's apparent low sperm count.
    Tony Driscoll: So Marlene's up the spout?
    Boycie: Yeah.
    Danny Driscoll: Dear dear dear. Well you let us know the moment you find out who did it, and we'll sort him out!
  • Whole-Plot Reference: "Fatal Extraction" parodies Fatal Attraction with the twist that the woman isn't stalking Del; it's all in his head.
  • With a Foot on the Bus: The Series 5 finale "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" has Del being offered a partnership in Australia with his old business partner Jumbo Mills. He intitially accepts the offer and hands ownership of Trotters' Independent Trading to Rodney, who can't go because of his criminal record. Following an argument, Del declines the offer, believing that family is more important.
  • With Friends Like These...: Mickey Pearce towards Rodney. Even Del stated in the books He Who Dares and The Peckham Archives that Mickey was never the best wingman and had all the intelligence, charm, and business sense of a bucket of chutney.
    • At some point in the series, Del will be such a manipulative and dangerous friend to Boycie, Trigger, Denzil and Mike that it is any wonder that they like him at all (and despite everything, we see in "Sickness and Health" when they thought that he might be dying that they do). Highlights include narrowly escaping an exploding bus, poisoning them with toxic waste, strong arming Denzil to hand over his redundancy money and burning Mike's head with an electric paint stripper that he passed off as a hairdryer. Boycie is the only one who comes close to also being this trope. In one early episode the man was perfectly willing to take absolutely everything that the Trotters owned over a game of cards that he was cheating in.
  • Women Are Wiser: Del and Rodney are foolish and irresponsible, always getting up to some zany get-rich-quick scheme, while Racquel and Cassandra snark at them.
  • Written-In Absence:
    • During the filming of series four, Lennard Pierce (Grandad) was suddenly taken into hospital, which was explained by having a character ask after the missing Grandad's health. Pierce then died; in the next episode, Grandad's funeral is held and he is replaced by his brother, Uncle Albert.
    • Mike's absence in the 2000s trilogy is explained by him being in prison for embezzlement. This was due to Kenneth McDonald's death, though he requested that his character not be killed off.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Del pulls one on Rodney and Mickey in "Healthy Competition". At an auction he advises them not to buy a particular item for sale as it's "a lot of old scrap iron". Rodney immediately suspects that Del just doesn't want them to bid for something he is interested in, so they buy it. Turns out that not only was it really just some worthless broken lawnmower engines, but they belonged to Del in the first place after he drunkenly bought them off Alfie Flowers. Had Rodney actually listened to him then Del would be able to say in good conscience that he gave Rodney every chance to make it in business by himself, but Rodney's buying the engines not only allows Del to instantly recoup most of the money that Rodney took out of their partnership, but even lets get rid of a bunch of worthless junk he hadn't expected to sell at all, much less for a profit.
  • You Get What You Pay For:
    • In "Who's A Pretty Boy?", Denzil hires Del and Rodney to paint his kitchen because they're so much cheaper than a professional painter.
    • In "A Touch of Glass", Lord and Lady Ridgemere hire the Trotters to clean their priceless Louis XIV chandeliers because they are cheap (and it is implied that they don't intend to pay them at all). Hilarity Ensues.
  • Zany Scheme: Happens a lot in the show. Likely most episodes in fact, although some, like the 'Peckham Spring' episode pretty much come to mind here.

C'est magnifique, Hooky Street...


Video Example(s):


"If you say 'During the war'..

Uncle Albert has to substitute his 'During the war' catchphrase for 'During the 1939-1945 conflict with Germany...' after Del Boy finally gets fed up with his war stories

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / CatchphraseInterruptus

Media sources: