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Series / Queer as Folk

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Queer as Folk is a celebration of the lives and passions of a group of gay friends. It is not meant to reflect all of gay society.
—US Show disclaimer

Queer As Folk was originally conceived by Russell T. Davies as a comedy drama set in Manchester's gay village. It followed the lives of three gay men: swaggering, self-assured Stuart Allen Jones; his less-self-assured best friend Vince Tyler, who has an unrequited crush on him; and their new friend Nathan Maloney, a young man just finishing school and discovering the Scene.

It was eventually remade for the US. The story was set in Pittsburgh and expanded to include the lives of five gay men and two lesbians: the occasional narrator Michael, his smooth-talking cynical best friend Brian, conservative accountant Ted, flamboyant and witty Emmett, new-to-the-scene Justin, art teacher and mother Lindsay, and tough lawyer Melanie. As the US version lasted for five seasons, it took many notable detours from the source material. Now with a Character Sheet! Due to the series approaching Loads and Loads of Characters territory, any help is appreciated.


A reimagining of the series was originally announced for Bravo in 2018, later moving to Peacock in 2019. Russell T. Davies, creator of the original UK series, will serve as executive producer, while Stephen Dunn (Closet Monster) has been tapped to write.

Like Sex and the City, except with men in the stereotypical gay man roles. Also compare The L Word (for lesbians), and Noah's Arc (for Black gay men).


Both the UK and American shows contain:

  • All Gays Are Promiscuous:
    • Played with in the UK version. Stuart definitely fits this bill, but he's shown to have some deep-seated psychological insecurities. Vince also seems to fit this, but he's emulating Stuart and has the least amount of hookups (and one serious boyfriend). They also both settle down together. Stuart's views seem lean this way, though. He accuses Vince of being a straight guy who has sex with men because he wants a relationship instead of casual sex.
    • In the US version, Michael's relationships are the only completely monogamous ones on the show, and even he goes for random hook-ups when single. Notably Melanie and Lindsay, in spite of occasional infidelities and one threesome, show much less inclination to promiscuity on the whole. The show's official philosophy seems not so much to be that gays are promiscuous, but that men are.
  • All Lesbians Want Kids:
    • The principal lesbian couple in both versions have biological children. Romey/Lindsay has a son using Stuart/Brian's sperm. In the US version they also have a daughter who's biologically related to Melanie (Lisa's counterpart) and Michael (Vince's counterpart).
    • Subverted by a woman whom Melanie had a one-night stand with. She claims to not want children, and only like other people's kids... for about 10 minutes.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender:
  • Armoured Closet Gay:
    • Chris Hobbs (same name in both versions). He's a jock who openly taunts Nathan/Justin but accepts a handjob from him.
    • Drew in the US version, an engaged quarterback who had an affair with Emmett.
  • Betty and Veronica: Stuart/Brian has sweet, geeky best friend Vince/Michael (Betty) and assertive, adventurous one-night stand Nathan/Justin (Veronica). The two versions have different outcomes: Stuart ends up with the Betty while Brian gets the Veronica.
  • Cast Full of Gay
  • Camp Gay: Dane, Dazz and Alexander/Emmett who are all overtly flamboyant.
    Vince: Saying Alex is a little bit camp is like saying Hitler was a little bit naughty.
  • Coming-Out Story: Both Nathan and Justin has a supportive mother, a homophobic father and bullying classmates. Plus a hate crime for Justin.
  • Drugs Are Bad:
    • Phil Delaney/Ted tried it for the first time with a trick. Phil dies while Ted was hospitalized and becomes addicted.
    • The US version also has Ben's use of steroids and Blake's addiction. Other than those, much drug use never has consequences.
      Brian: "Only do drugs with your friends, because they're the only ones who give a shit about you."
  • Fag Hag: Hazel/Debbie, who regards her son's coming out as a turning point in her life, allowing her to get involved in the gay scene herself.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot:
    • Averted in the UK version. The resident lesbian couple never share more than a kiss on the cheek onscreen, while the gay male relationships are portrayed very frankly and graphically. Considering the creator, it's probably plain old Author Appeal.
    • Played straight in the US version. Lindsay and Melanie are pretty affectionate on-screen, though not as explicit as the male-on-male scenes.
  • Has Two Mommies:
    • Romey and Lisa (UK) have a son, Alfred.
    • Lindsay and Melanie (US) have two children: Gus and Jenny Rebecca.
    • Hunter (US) was adopted by Michael and Ben.
  • Pun-Based Title: The title is derived from a Northern British phrase "there's nowt so queer as folk", meaning roughly "there's nothing stranger than people". However, for the American show it could be misheard as "Queer-Ass Folk."
    • According to Word of God, the working title of the UK show was, in fact, Queer As Fuck.
  • Straight Gay: Most of the main cast in both versions (except Alex and Emmett).
  • The Twink: Nathan is 15 in the UK version. Justin, his US counterpart is 17 at the start of the show.

The UK Show contains examples of:

  • Age-Appropriate Angst: Nathan reacts rather emotionally after sleeping with and then getting rejected by Stuart. Understandable because he was 15 at the time.
  • All Gays Are Pedophiles: invoked by Stuart's blackmailing nephew, who threatens to tell Stuart's parents a few very nasty lies: "I'll tell them you touched me- you pervert!" Stuart of course counters this.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Dane and Alexander when they go to a stranger's house for a threesome. They have an Oh, Crap! moment when they discover he lives in a Room Full of Crazy and knows a lot about preparing corpses for burial:
    "He's Fred West." - Dane
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Vince and Stuart get a few of these, most notably at the end of the first season and during the finale.
  • Bad Liar: Vince, usually by faking phonecalls and Bad "Bad Acting":
    Vince: Oh my god... when did that happen? Gotta go- so, what did they do? It's my neighbour, someone's broken in downstairs, she thinks it's kids- yeah, I'm coming now, I'll have to check the flat...
    Stuart: [picking up his phone, which Vince has used to call his own] Fuck off, Vin...
  • Blackmail: One of Stuart's nephews finds images on his computer outing him. Previous to this, the nephew didn't know Stuart was gay. On finding out, he demands 25... 50... 100 quid a week or he'll tell Stuart's parents, who don't know. Instead of capitulating, Stuart outs himself to his parents and accuses his nephew (who's 8, mind you) of being the most disgusting individual in the family.
  • Biggus Dickus: Well it's about sex, so naturally the joke comes up from time to time.
    • Stuart: "If that's what Big Bill calls 'big,' then I'm a co-loss-us."
  • Boomerang Bigot: The self-loathing Bernard Thomas, from his first meeting with Nathan on Canal Street, to his advice about coming out to one's parents:
    "They way they see it, it's not gay. It's not homosexual. It's cock. You like cock. [beat] Fair dos, it is revolting."
  • Car Meets Dealership
  • Catchphrase: "OH MY GOD!"
    • Stuart's catchphrase is lampshaded by Vince: "As a friend of mine is fond of saying: FUCK OFF!"
  • The Charmer: Stuart
  • Children Are Innocent: Subverted with Stuart's nephew, who tries to blackmail him.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Romey and Lance. Almost.
  • Country Matters: Vince tries to reassure Nathan over Stuart not wanting a proper relationship with him: "Nathan, he's a cunt." Not to mention Nathan's comeback: "You're friends with a cunt."
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Oblivious salesman making general homophobic comments? Drive a car through his window! ten year old nephew blackmailing you? Dunk his head in the toilet! Your friend's mother is a complete bitch to him right after his father dies? Blow up her car in front of her!
  • Drives Like Crazy: Stuart likes to make pedestrians dive out of his way.
    • ...and of course Phil Delaney's fatal cocaine overdose
  • Drugs Are Bad: The worming tablets Stuart is sold that lead him to drawing the Shag Map:
    "It's the pens! I need to get rid of the pens!"
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The odd voiceover segments featuring members of the main cast talking to the camera while seated in front of a neon screen, which were used to establish a few character traits and then promptly disappeared after the first episode.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Boy, does Vince earn his eventual ride into the sunset with Stuart. Poor guy had literally been waiting for that moment more than half of his life.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Stuart invites Nathan back to his place, leaving Vince to take care of his car. Possibly a Relationship Establishing moment- as Phil Delaney puts it:
    "So, he brings the car, gives you the keys so you can't drink, then he buggers off. Nice system."
  • Everybody Smokes
  • Fake Static: Vince pretends there is some on the line when telling Cameron: "It's breaking up...We're breaking up..."
  • Foreshadowing: At the hospital, Stuart threatens Alexander's mother with a Finger Gun. He gets to threaten someone with a real gun later on.
  • Gayborhood: Canal Street
  • Gaydar: Nathan's mother claims to have honed hers through working as a teacher:
    "Sometimes there's a boy and it's just shining out of him".
  • Geeky Turn-On: Inverted. Vince makes the choice to end an unhealthy relationship when he learns that his partner can't name all of the actors who played the Doctor.
  • It's All About Me: Nathan in the way he treats Donna. While exaggerating his problems with his actually very tolerant mother he completely fails to notice that Donna is going through some genuine family problems of her own. When he tries to tell Donna that she doesn't understand what it's like being in a sexual minority she has a great comeback:
    "I'm black. And I'm a girl. Try that for a week."
    • In a later episode he makes the arrogant assumption that a guy giving Donna some grief was actually staring at him, causing Donna to tell him "It's not all about you, you know".
    • ...and when he sees his mother out on Canal Street with Hazel, who reminds him: "This place isn't just for you, you know!"
      • Alexander, at Phil Delaney's funeral: "This could be me! I could be dead! Mind you, I think I'd draw more of a crowd..."
      • ...and at Vince's 30th birthday, when Cameron gets him a more impressive present: "I have never been so upstaged!"
  • Jerkass: Stuart, what with his constant sleeping around, blowing off and insulting his friends, and neglecting his son. He intentionally shags men that Vince fancies, just to prove he can, as well as making a pass at Vince's boyfriend. He hosts Vince's 30th birthday party, then invites a work colleague who has a massive crush on him so she can discover that he is gay in the most humiliating manner possible.
  • Land Down Under: Alexander on meeting Vince's boyfriend Cameron, and seizing an opportunity to make many Double Entendres: "Australian? Very nice! Down Under, mammals with pouches... loads of material!"
  • Manipulative Bastard: Stuart in the way he convinces Nathan to send Romy and Lisa's love letters to the Home Office, exposing Romy and Lance's wedding as a Citizenship Marriage.
  • Most Important Person: Vince and Stuart, so much. So much that the notoriously promiscuous (and insensitive Jerkass) Stuart eventually goes on record explaining to Vince's mom why he's never slept with Vince: because the love between them is so intense and unique that a sexual relationship would seem almost trivial by comparison.
    Stuart: You've gotta fancy 'em. Never mind love. Love can fuck off. If you fancy him, there's blood, there's a hard-on. If you just love him...
  • Pet Homosexual: Lampshaded by Hazel:
    Nathan's Mother: "Must be a wonderful life Hazel, all those boys. Never short of a joke, tremendous wit, all of them. Always smiling, always laughing..."
    Hazel: "....yes, and they make such good pets."
  • Proud to Be a Geek: Vince with his Doctor Who obsession, which possibly makes him an Author Avatar for Russell T. Davies.
  • Race for Your Love: The final ten minutes of the series, in what probably cements Vince and Stuart as the official romance of the show. Their tempestuous relationship had finally convinced Stuart to split for London, and Vince being too delusional or too stubborn to make an effort to stop what would have undoubtedly spelled the end of their time together, the situation leads to Stuart actually packing up and on being the verge of leaving town. However, Vince's mom pulls all the stops in an effort to get Vince to Stuart before he leaves, and they end up reuniting and reconciling moments before Stuart drives off (and leaving town together, apparently for good.)
  • Shipper on Deck: Hazel for Stuart and Vince, so much.
  • Slow-Loading Internet Image: Stuart clicks on the online profile of a guy on a gay dating site. All we see is half of the guy's body (you can guess which half) and the picture hasn't even fully loaded before Stuart is out of the room, off to find the guy...
  • Stalker with a Crush: Nathan for the first few episodes. He dogs Stuart all over town, and even uses Stuart's taxi tab to do it. According to Vince, this isn't the first time Stuart's had this effect on a guy.
  • Transparent Closet: Nathan's mum claims to have realised her son was gay when he was just ten.
  • Unrequited Love Lasts Forever: Invoked by Vince after he dumps Cameron (and spies an excuse to quote Doctor Who): "Unrequited love. It's fantastic, 'cause it never has to change, it never has to grow up and it never has to die!"
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Vince. Eventually. After a great deal of heartache, he finally rides off into the sunset with Stuart.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: The UST between Vince and Stuart fuels the entire series. Vince has been hopelessly in love with Stuart for years, and Stuart, while sleeping with a different guy every night of the week, never gets around to Vince. Apparently, they had an (interrupted) tryst as boys, and at one point in the show they actually check into a hotel room with the intention of resolving everything... but somehow, it just doesn't happen and they simply end up sharing the bed. As of the finale, after much emotional-rollercoastering the two of them have left everything else behind in favor of spending the rest of their lives together, but it is still uncertain whether their relationship will ever move beyond that of incredibly devoted friends.
    • It's worth noting that in any other series, their romantic relationship would probably count as canon (they kiss multiple times, hold hands, seriously consider sleeping together, and are obviously in love in their own ways), but compared to the many explicit sexual relationships between men in Queer as Folk, Stuart and Vince still fall into the UST category.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Alexander/Alice Band.

The US show contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: The biggest reason Brian grew up into the man he is today.
    • Ben and Michael's eventual adopted son Hunter was abused by his own mother and pimped out as a child prostitute. When she found out about Hunter's HIV status during his custody battle, his mother's reaction was so foul that the judge granted the custody to Ben and Michael.
  • Age Is Relative: Old man jokes about the well-preserved fortysomething David.
    • Emmett was somehow never made fun of for dating George, an actual old man.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Brian's father, first encountered in the show at a bar.
    • And the men too. Ben is particularly mopey on the subject
  • All Love Is Unrequited:
    • Played straight with Michael, who has had an unrequited crush on Brian since before the show began. Ted also has one for Michael.
    • Averted by Justin, who succeeded in winning Brian's affection.
  • And Starring: Sharon Gless as Debbie.
  • Auto Erotica: Ted engages in this at one point, leading to an HIV scare.
  • Bad Date: Michael and David go on one of these as their first date.
  • The Beard:
    • Ted and Emmett at the wedding of Lindsay's sister.
    • An unsuspecting Tracey when Michael wants to get a promotion in Season 1.
  • Beauty Contest: The King of Babylon contest is basically a gender-flipped version of this. With stripping. And dancing.
  • Big Applesauce:
    • Averted. While the setting might be Pittsburgh In Name Only, even that was a refreshing change of pace since most gay media is based in New York or California by default.
    • Lampshaded in the episode when the gang went on a charity bike ride to Toronto (where the show was actually filmed) and the characters remarked how much it reminded them of Liberty Avenue.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end of the show, Ben and Michael are together and have adopted Hunter, but Brian and Justin have called off the wedding and Justin leaves for New York. Though Justin insists they will see each other again, Brian maintains they can't know that for sure, and their final scene together features Justin fading out from his bed. Mel and Lindsay move to Canada with their kids, but Babylon is rebuilt and Brian is still young and beautiful dancing in the middle of it all.
  • Black Sheep: Brian. He had a tumultuous relationship with his father, and his mother and sister believe he is going to hell for being gay.
  • Book-Ends: The last shot of the series, which ended up deleted to cut down the episode's running time, showed a young twink stepping into Pittsburgh's gay nightlife for the first time, exactly how the series began with Justin.
  • But Not Too Black: Daphne is a light-skinned African American.
  • Buttmonkey: Ted. Over the course of the show he overdosed on GHB and was sent into a coma, lost his job for watching porn at work, arrested for hiring an underage assistant at his porn company, lost his company, developed a drug habit, had an HIV scare, and was constantly the victim of Brian's jokes for being over the hill.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Justin to his father when he learns his dad's company supports Prop 14. His father has him arrested as a result.
  • Canon Discontinuity:
    • In one of the first episodes, Michael tells Emmett that he didn't know where his father was born or who he is at all. In season two, however, we learn that his father fought in Vietnam and died before Michael's birth. His mother even told him everything he could about his father. Even if we later learn that his father was indeed somebody else.
    • This slightly occurs with Ted: In season one, he meets a guy he went to Business school with, who teaches him to love Bondage. Ted’s fondness for bondage is only mentioned once more that season, then never again.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Almost the case with Justin, but ultimately averted. His bashing caused problems with his fine motor control, but though his hand never fully healed in the show, through the use of a tablet computer and physical therapy he was still able to pursue a career as an artist.
  • The Caretaker: Debbie for Vic. This becomes a point of contention between them when Vic accuses her of caring for him to make her feel better about herself. Debbie also took in Justin after both his parents and Brian kicked him out.
  • The Casanova: Brian.
  • The Cast Show Off: Michael singing Ben a romantic song to convince him that he is serious. Hal Sparks is the singer of his own Hard Rock band "Zero 1".
  • Character Development
  • Chubby Chaser: Realizing he's dating one of these is what prompts Ted to get plastic surgery.
  • Closet Key:
    • Emmett for Drew.
    • Inverted with Hunter, the gay prostitute, who winds up coming out to Ben and Michael as straight.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Brian while working for Stockwell. On one hand, he wants access to Stockwell's backers so he can make more money, on the other, Stockwell isn't exactly gay friendly.
  • Cool Old Lady: Debbie Novotny. Her shirts alone are worth the price of admission.
  • Country Matters: One of the few shows on American television to use the word "cunt".
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Brian to Michael in season one by inviting Tracy to Michael's birthday party. She didn't know Michael was gay and thought he was interested in her. Brian made it very clear that Michael was gay, humiliating Tracy and causing Michael to declare their friendship over. But Brian did it because he didn't want Michael pining after him for the rest of his life, depriving himself of a relationship with someone who could give him what he really wanted.
  • Cry into Chest: Justin to Brian when he thinks the latter is moving to New York and will forget him.
  • Cultural Cross-Reference: Inverted (?) - Justin wound up in private school because that's the only place in America you'll find the type of school uniforms the British teen characters wore.
  • Cure Your Gays: After an HIV scare, Emmett tried to "see the light" by joining a conversion therapy group and even dating a woman. He ultimately fails.
  • Dance of Romance:
    • Brian and Justin on Justin's prom.
    • And again after Justin's first pride event. Brian even promises that Justin won't forget this one.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Ted. He's watched all the porno that there is in ye old Pittsburgh.
  • Date Rape: This almost happens to Justin when he goes to a party his boss from Babylon throws.
  • Deconfirmed Bachelor: Inverted with Brian. Although Brian and Justin call off the wedding, it's obvious during Brian's second proposal to Justin that as firmly as he was against marriage before, Justin changed him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Brian in almost every episode, and Ted and Vic also have their moments.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Brian through The Power of Love for Justin.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Happens when Justin's dream guy Ethan goes seamlessly from a romantic dream to a sleazy cheater, with no foreshadowing.
  • Devoted to You: Michael to Brian, Ted to Michael.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Michael thought his father was a war hero who died in Vietnam, but learns he was really a drag queen who left Pittsburg to pursue his career.
    • By the end of the series, Brian tells Lindsay and Mel he doesn't want to be one of these to Gus.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Averted. It is no secret that Vic, Ben, and Hunter have HIV. And although Brian initially does not want to admit it, it soon becomes common knowledge that he has cancer.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Brian is too proud to ask or accept help. However, he rather takes unoffered ones with an entitled attitude (for example crashing into Mike and Ben's first night living together).
  • Doppelgänger Dating: Well, doppelganger prostitution. After they break up the first time, Brian picks up a hustler who looks and dresses eerily like Justin.
  • Double Entendre: Played straight and occasionally subverted. The age old 'I'm coming' gag has never been played. Unless you count the time when Prop 14 supporters knock on Michael and Ben's door while they're having sex, and Michael angrily yells, "I'm coming!" right before he and Ben finish.
  • Downer Ending : The season one finale. Justin gets gay bashed and his fate is left ambiguous, Blake basically dumps Ted who reacts badly and Michael ends up not going to Portland with David. The music that plays during the last few scenes doesn't help.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex
  • Fanservice: Every sex scene.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Manly Gay/Armored Closet Gay Drew played football for the Pittsburgh Iron Men
  • First Love: Brian for Justin.
  • Flowers of Romance:
    • David brings these to Michael, which Ted and Emmett call a sign of his wanting to settle down
    • Brian considers buying these in season two as a sign he cares for Justin, but ultimately walks away.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: Drew Boyd. A blackmailer sent incriminating photos of him to a tabloid, prompting Drew to make a public statement about his sexuality.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Justin and Michael initially fell into a mild version of this trope, with Michael protesting any time that Justin came around and taking particular offense to Brian and Justin fooling around in Michael's childhood bedroom. They overcome it quickly enough.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: When Michael's upset at Brian, Brian tries to hang out with Ted. Naturally, they have nothing to talk about.
  • Fun T-Shirt: Debbie is the queen of this trope! She wears at least one of these in every episode.
  • Gay Conservative: Ted.
  • Gayborhood: Liberty Avenue (though it is not this in Real Life); the suburb Michael and Ben move to in Season 5.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Averted with Ben.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Multiple characters cheat throughout the series, and their affairs are treated differently each time.
    • Justin's affair with Ethan was apparently meant to be sympathetic because Brian wasn't meeting his emotional needs. Ethan's cheating, however, ended his relationship with Justin and he was never heard from again.
    • Both Mel and Lindsay engaged in one night stands that temporarily ended their relationship.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: Brian buys Justin the house of his dreams and puts his loft and Babylon up for sale to convince him he really want to marry him.
  • The Grunting Orgasm: This one's a given. The show's mainly about gay men and their sex lives, what did you expect?
  • Guy-on-Guy Is Hot: A meta-example. Although the show was aimed at gay men, a significant portion of the audience turned out to be straight women.
  • Happily Adopted: Hunter.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Brian. The first time, although he barely shows it, when Justin leaves Brian for Ethan. The second time, Justin leaves Brian because Justin wants to eventually settle down, get married and have children. Brian is a very vocal opponent of these desires and Justin decides that there is no point pursuing their relationship if it won't grow. Brian is much more visibly affected when this happens and even blames Michael for Justin's decision.
  • Hidden Depths: Under The Cutie camouflage, Justin is more of a sly bastard than Brian ever was.
  • Hot for Student: Ben initially finds himself attracted to a former student who expresses interest. The attraction fizzles when he realize the guy wants to use him to get himself infected with HIV.
  • Hot Teacher: Ben.
  • I Got You a Drawer: Brian gives Justin a drawer in season 5.
  • Important Haircut: Justin in season 4 during the Pink Posse arc.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Debbie and Loretta. Debbie eventually has to sit Loretta down and explain to her that a relationship between them can never happen because 1) Debbie is straight and 2) Debbie is in love with Carl.
  • In Love with Love: It's quite urgent for David to make Michael settle down, without being really interested in him.
  • Interrupted Intimacy:
    • Happens throughout the show, primarily to Brian.
    • Perhaps most notably, he and Justin are fooling around when Brian's mother knocks on the door. Her arrival spurs a Relationship Reveal, as prior to this she didn't know her son was seeing Justin, or even that he was gay.
  • Intimate Healing: Brian attempts this with Justin after the bashing. Initially, it fails and Justin pushes him away. The second time, Justin initiates things and it goes better.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Brian, in his own emotionally distant way, when Justin leaves him for Ethan.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Brian is portrayed as a promiscuous Jerkass who never has sex with the same person twice (except Justin), but he doesn't do so without his own set of morals. He was once willing to have sex with a client for money, but changes his mind when he finds out said client is cheating on his wife. Despite not wanting to get involved, Brian still lets Justin stay at his place when he had nowhere to go, and even willingly takes him in after seeing the way Justin's homophobic father treats him. His act of inviting Tracy to Michael's birthday party and outing Michael to her is actually his way of getting Michael to move on with his unrequited crush on him. Lindsay remarks that Brian isn't inherently a bad person, he's just brutally honest.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Brian. It takes him about five years to get around to admitting it, but from the very beginning, Justin was different.
  • Last Disrespects: Brian delivers these at the wake for his father. While his sister asked others to share some pleasant memories of their father, Brian instead recounts a story that makes it clear his father wanted him aborted upon learning of his mother's pregnancy.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Justin calls Brian and Michael this, comparing them to his parents.
  • Lipstick Lesbian:
    • Lindsay.
    • Also Melanie, even through we are supposed to see her as butch.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: a rare dramatic example with Brian while recovering from cancer.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: Justin and Brian when Justin moves to Hollywood temporarily. Potentially what happens after the series finale when Justin leaves for New York. The ending is ambiguous.
  • Longing Look: Brian gives Justin one of these after the latter wins the King of Babylon contest and hooks up with the guy Brian had been cruising.
  • Lost Wedding Ring: This is but one of many disasters that plagues Mel and Lindsay's wedding.
  • Love Dodecahedron: In the first few episodes: Ted wants Michael, Michael wants Brian, Justin wants Brian, and you see a hint of a spark between Lindsey and Brian. It doesn't go anywhere, but still we can tell there's a history.
  • Love Epiphany: Arguably the result of Debbie's chat with Brian after Justin moves out in season two.
    Debbie: You think you've got everybody fooled, don't you? Well not me, honey. I've known you too long, and regrettably too well. And no matter how hard you try to deny it, I can tell you care as much about him as he cares about you. Only you haven't got the big hairy cojones to say it.
    Brian: Oh, well maybe I could borrow yours.
    Debbie: Well hey, whatever it takes... to admit that you love him. And I know that you do, despite all your efforts to never let another heart touch yours, and that's assuming of course that you have one; that little persistent kid has somehow gotten in under the wire. And that's what's happened, huh? Admit the truth. You love him, don't you?
  • Love Will Lead You Back: Justin believes this will be his and Brian's future after deciding to move to New York in the finale. Brian isn't so sure.
  • Lured into a Trap: Stockwell in season 3. Brian encourages him to speak at the Gay and Lesbian Center, where Justin and others ambush him on camera with the pictures of various unsolved murders in their community.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Brian.
  • Manly Gay: David, Ben and Drew. Michael, Brian and Ted seem to be in the most neutral part of this. Completely averted with Emmett.
  • Maybe Ever After: Justin and Brian. They don't get married and Justin moves to New York to pursue his career, but says they don't need a ring or a piece of paper to prove their love. Whether they reunite eventually is left unsaid.
  • May–December Romance:
    • Played straight with Jennifer and Tucker. This is extremely difficult for Justin to accept, despite the fact that there is over a decade separating his and Brian's ages. Jennifer calls him out on this.
    • Emmett and George.
    • Brian and Justin are more of a July-October example.
  • Meaningful Name: Brian ("strong"), Justin ("upright"), David ("beloved"), Melanie ("dark"), Deborah ("bee").
  • Meddling Parents: Debbie to Michael. She constantly asks about her son's sex life, nudges him towards certain partners, and tries to keep him from others (notably Ben when she is concerned about his HIV). After Vic moves out, she becomes even more involved in Michael's life.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Justin dons one of these at one point.
  • Monochrome Casting:
    • An egregious example since African-Americans make up over a quarter of Pittsburgh's population.
    • Averted and parodied in Gay As Blazes, the show's resident Show Within a Show, where there seems to be a black character just to project political correctness.
  • Morality Pet: Emmett occasionally fills this role for Brian.
  • Most Important Person: Michael and Brian, for each other. Through "adopt-a-tricks", gay-bashing, boyfriends, husbands, cancer, and Debbie, they're it for each other. While Brian and Michael are clearly in love with Justin and Ben (respectively), they have also been each others' anchor for years. That does not just go away.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Ben is a novelist and Michael writes a comic book with Justin.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: Inverted. Pittsburgh lies within the Appalachian Mountains and is notorious for its hilly terrain, but the show was filmed in the rather flat Toronto.
  • The Muse:
    • Brian to Michael and Justin, creating Rage.
    • Ethan claims Justin is this for him.
  • Mushroom Samba: Arguable. It's unclear whether Emmett was aware that the mushrooms he ate at the Fairy Retreat were hallucinogenic, and it isn't until after he accepts his fairy self and declares a fairy name, Clear Day, that he finds out that the man he spoke to who helped him come to this epiphany was not only the creator of the Fairy Retreat, but that the same man died three years earlier.
  • My Beloved Smother: Debbie, so very much, and not just to Michael. She smothers Brian, Justin, and the rest too.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Justin, at least at the start. He is newly out and a fresh face on Liberty Avenue. Though Michael is the actual narrator of many early episodes, Justin allows the audience to learn things about the other characters and the scene as he himself learns the ropes.
  • Near-Death Experience: Michael during the bombing at Babylon.
  • Neat Freak: Ted
  • Nice Jewish Boy: Ted tries to meet one at a mixer. Unfortunately, the guy in question wanted a nice Jewish boy of his own. Which Ted is not.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • Brian entered David into the Babylon beauty contest to affront him, but it turned out to be an eclat for David. He also does this when Debbie implores him to let Michael be with David.
    • Later, he ends up losing his job and most of his money when he successfully sabotages the electoral campaign he created for Jim Stockwell.
  • No Bisexuals: For all its messages of tolerance, bisexuality as an orientation is rarely mentioned; almost all of the characters are gay or straight.
    • Especially weird in the case of Lindsay. She and Brian share a passionate kiss and reference a previous sexual relationship in the first episode. She also has an affair with a man in Season 4 and acknowledges an attraction to men when she breaks it off, saying that she has "many rooms" in her house but only occupies a few. Nevertheless insists "I'm a lesbian."
    • When Ben and Michael discover that Hunter has a girlfriend, they just assume that he's straight, despite Hunter having an earlier crush on Brian.
    • Drew Boyd. Emmett is insistent he is gay despite the fact he says he enjoys sleeping with women and cares about his fiance. Later, when he is outed and admits feelings for Emmett, he does say he is gay. The possibility that he is bisexual is never given consideration, not even the possibility that he can be romantically and sexually more attracted to men while still being attracted to women in some way as well. It is implied he has thought about men while with women though, but this comes after he is encouraged to identify as gay.
  • Not a Date: Brian and Justin in a few places. Brian may pick Justin up or meet him at Woody's, but always insists they aren't a couple.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: Justin attempts this with Chris Hobbs during his time with the Pink Posse. Initially, it doesn't go well, and he's just as nervous around Hobbs as before. After confronting Hobbs with a gun, Justin decides he's Not Worth Killing and finally lets go of his anger and pain surrounding his bashing.
  • Not Good with Rejection: A mild version in the case of Brian and Brandon. Brian is used to getting whomever he wants, whenever he wants. When Brandon rejects him in the backroom of Babylon, Brian has issues letting it go.
  • Not with Them for the Money: Emmett genuinely falls in love with a wealthy older man who dies and leaves his fortune to Emmett, but his wife fights the bequest and insists that George not be publicly outed as a gay man. Emmett struggles with the idea of being rich or being honest, and eventually decides it's more important to tell the world who George was and that they loved each other than to have money.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Lindsay to Mel about how she doesn't know how anyone could do porn. Mel later confesses to posing nude when she needed money for school.
  • Out with a Bang: George.
  • Overcome Their Differences: the biggest obstacle between Justin and Brian is that Justin believes in love and Brian doesn't. It takes five seasons to get Brian to admit his love, and even then it's not enough for them to get married or even stay together during the finale.
  • Parental Favoritism: Lindsay feels her parents are more supportative of her sister, paying for all three of her weddings while refusing to support Lindsay's becauase she's a lesbian.
  • Parental Substitute: Michael and Ben for Hunter.
  • Parents Walk In at the Worst Time: Discussed. Michael tells Justin that he almost got a handjob from Brian when they were both teenagers, but his mother walked in before they could get too far.
  • Pity Sex: Ted finds himself the recipient of one of these encounters during pride. He doesn't take it well. In the final season, he meets the guy again and turns the tables on him.
  • Pretty Boy: Justin and Brian primarily. Michael is famous for repeatedly calling Brian beautiful.
  • Professionals Do It on Desks:
    • Brian and a junior ad exec at his firm.
    • In season three, Brian and Justin at Vanguard.
  • Property of Love: Michael is rather a cuddly pet than a partner to David.
  • Punny Name: Local Drag Queen Shanda Leer.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • David, Ethan, Leda, Jim Stockwell, Loretta.
    • Blake seemed to be a case of this until his comeback in Season 4.
  • The Quarterback: Drew Boyd, who was kicked off the team after kissing his boyfriend, but was reinstated when the team realised how valuable he was to them.
  • Race for Your Love: Michael for David.
  • Rape as Backstory: You could argue this for Hunter, considering that his mother forced him into being a child prostitute.
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: The bombing at Babylon leads Justin and Brian back together. At least until the series finale.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: When the series appeared on Netflix there was great umbrage over the dance-music tracks having been replaced. Most of the lost songs were both very recognizable and plot-relevant, but especially annoying was the cue being lost for Abba's "Dancing Queen"—the generic replacement for which sounded like the alternate universe underwater version played backwards on a broken calliope.
  • Reset Button:
    • Not done on an episode-by-episode basis, but the zanier plot lines usually have their effects reset eventually. Case in point: George's money.
    • Another example would be Brian losing all his money to take down Stockwell. It doesn't take long at all for "charitable contributions" to see his lifestyle restored.
  • Reverse Psychology: David, you would just make a fool out of yourself, dancing in underwear in your age...
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Brian and Ethan for Justin.
  • Romantic Spoonfeeding: Justin and Brian eating ice cream together while naked and post-coital.
  • Rule of Drama:
    • Every. Single. Episode.
    • Taken to an extreme in the final episodes after the explosion at Babylon.
  • The Runaway: Hunter. Justified with his mother, who was abusive and in and out of jail. He eventually runs away from his foster parents, Michael and Ben, after it's revealed to his entire school that he has HIV and received it from his days as a gay prostitute. He comes back after Michael is hurt at the "No on Prop 14" benefit bombing.
  • Sanity Slippage: Brian tears Justin's drawings apart and pees onto some of them in his tantrum of jealousy after seeing Justin and Michael sleeping together on his bed.
  • Sassy Secretary: Brian has one. She even joins him at his new agency after he's fired.
  • Sex Equals Love: Justin with Brian, Daphne with Justin.
  • Sex Sells:
    • Brian's entire philosophy as an ad exec.
    • The philosophy of the show too, considering the massive amounts of sex scenes and implications. Gets really evident with Lindsay and Melanie's sex scenes, clearly crafted to attract straight males and lesbians.
  • Shiksa Goddess: Played with. Mel jokingly refers to Lindsay as this.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Brian likes walking around his loft half-naked.
    • Almost everyone gets this now and then, including Melanie and Lindsay.
  • Shout-Out: While taking attendance in Justin's class, the first name a homophobic teacher calls out is Bueller, but it seems Ferris didn't take today off as he's actually there.
  • Show Within a Show: *Gay As Blazes*
    • Also, the Comic Within The Show Rage, which itself could provide plenty of fodder for the tropers here. Notable for its flagrant disregard for Thou Shalt Not Kill.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: Debbie wants to purchase one of these for Vic as a headstone. She eventually decides on something more modest. And within her budget.
  • Silly Rabbit, Romance is for Kids: Brian to Justin.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Debbie towards Carl.
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You: Brian with Michael. In a rare variation, it's because Brian actually respects and loves Michael, just not in that way.
  • Sleuth Dates Cop: Carl to Debbie. They meet because she involves herself in the investigation surrounding Dumpster Boy's murder.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Brian.
  • Spaghetti Kiss: Michael and David had one during dinner with Debbie and Vic. Invoked by Debbie, who tells David that Lady and the Tramp was Michael's favorite movie as a kid.
    Debbie: That's even better than the movie.
  • Speed Dating: Ted attends a session for over 30s after recovering from a drug overdose.
  • Stalker with a Crush: At Daphne's suggestion, Justin tries a benign version of this as a tactic to try and get Brian back.
  • Stalker Shrine:
    • Ted has a mild one about Michael.
    • Vic seems to have been this in his youth.
  • Straw Man Has A Point:
    • Stockwell starts mainly going after things that are actually illegal like public sex and drugs. This changes when it's revealed he covered up the murder of a young gay man.
    • Well, closing Woody's and Babylon just because was technically illegal.
  • Talking in Bed: Done by almost everyone at some point or another, possibly to connect the numerous sex scenes to plot and character development.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Brian.
  • Taking Advantage of Generosity: Justin lampshadedly takes Brian's provision for granted and expects empty romantic gestures even at the expense of Brian's career or other goals in life.
  • Team Mom: Debbie.
  • Television Geography:
    • Residents of Pittsburgh get quite a kick out of the show's depiction of their city as a gay mecca, centered on the decadent and lively nightlife of Liberty Avenue (an actual, but fairly ordinary, major downtown thoroughfare). In fact, you might say that the fictional Liberty Avenue looks a lot like Church Street in Toronto, an actual gay neighborhood in a very gay-friendly city, and where the show is actually filmed.
    • Coupled with the Monochrome Casting example above, it really makes one wonder why the show wasn't just based in Toronto to begin with. On the other hand, many problems that appear, especially in later seasons, wouldn't be as important if the series were originally set in Canada.
    • The original UK version is in a industrial city (Manchester) so the producers thought Pittsburgh would be the US analog.
    • Lampshaded in Season 4 at the Liberty Ride when the gang gets to (real) Toronto and keeps pointing out how much it reminds them of Liberty Avenue.
  • Token Lesbians: Lindsay and Melanie.
  • Three-Way Sex: Lindasy and Melanie have a threesome with Melanie's ex-girlfriend, Ted has a foursome when he acts out his fantasy of being Brian, and many other unimportant threeways happen throughout the show.
  • Undignified Death: George. Jammed in a plane's restroom and Emmett's ass. Oh dear.
  • The Un Favourite: Lindsay to her parents.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Justin in a few places. He initially lies about his mother's reaction to learning he's gay. And when he recounts to Debbie the way his father attacked Brian, it is notably different from the events depicted on screen. Ted and Michael lampshade this, and it raises questions about the accuracy of some of Justin's previous stories.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Michael and Brian. They can fistfight, scream at each other, refuse to speak to each other, treat each other horribly (mostly on Brian's part), but if anyone but Brian insults Michael, Brian will unleash hell on them. Only he's allowed to call Michael "pathetic", thank you.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: This show perfected this trope.


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