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Series / Samantha Who?

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This comedy series, which aired on ABC from 2007 to 2009, stars Christina Applegate as Samantha Newly, a once-unpleasant woman who—after getting in a car accident and emerging from the resultant coma with Identity Amnesia—starts her life anew with a bubbly personality.

Not related to that other "Who" series. Maybe.

This show provides examples of:

  • All Guys Want Bad Girls: Despite (or perhaps because of) her unpleasant personality before the accident, Samantha had a boyfriend on whom she cheated with at least two other men. Both considered leaving their wives for her.
  • Amoral Attorney/Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite (or perhaps because of) her cruel streak and party-girl personality, Bad Sam was a successful lawyer; Samantha's friend Andrea is also supposed to be a successful lawyer, but comes across as more of a Brainless Beauty.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: The plot revolves around it.
  • Amnesiac Liar
  • Analogy Backfire: In one episode, Samantha crashes her father's car and pressures Dena into helping her to push it into a lake. When Dena asserts that Samantha was acting like Bad Sam, Samantha tries to counter that she only looked like Bad Sam but is different and starts comparing herself to the difference between a snake and its shed skin. Then it hits her that the shed skin (what she's comparing her current personality to) is an empty shell.
  • The Atoner: Sort of. Samantha is and tries to be a better person than previously, but insists she isn't responsible for the actions of Bad Sam.
  • Backing Away Slowly: In one episode, Samantha confronts the woman who tried to run her over, a Psycho Ex-Girlfriend of her then-current boyfriend. As she prepares to leave, she is told "You shouldn't turn your back on me again", to which Sam scoffs, fails to be fearless and instead backs slowly.
  • Bad Boss: Pre-amnesia Samantha to her secretary Tracy.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Dena has a habit of talking like this.
  • Butt-Monkey: Samantha's friend Dena.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: A lot of Sam's cruel actions before amnesia are alluded to and come across as darkly humorous.
  • Continuity Creep: The show had a lot of plot threads for a sitcom.
  • Creator Provincialism: Surprisingly averted. Series co-creator Cecila Ahern is Irish and everything else she has written (novels and short stories) are set in Ireland or at least of a strong Irish connection...but without being aware beforehand you'd never guess the show creator's anything other than American.
  • Genki Girl: Samantha's personality after the car accident - because of her amnesia, she approaches the world filled with wonder.
  • Genre Savvy: Generally, when Samantha tries to explain her different personality due to amnesia, her listeners are skeptical, believing that this kind of amnesia was made up by Hollywood. Sam herself is aware of this, and once she finds out that "Bad Sam" used the amnesia excuse before, her reaction was something like "And you believed it?"
  • Good Costume Switch: In flashbacks, it's noticeable that Bad Sam wore a lot of black leather and was scuzzy looking, while the current Samantha dresses in bright colors.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Andrea and Bad Sam. Andrea is almost certainly an alcoholic and amusingly, amnesiac Sam thought she was one as well, finding out she attended AA meetings. A few episodes later, it's revealed that this was only because of a court order and thus she can drink safely without worrying about alcoholism.
  • Identity Amnesia: The premise of the show.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Samantha refers to her previous personality as "Bad Sam".
  • Lampshade Hanging: Not until Episode 5 did someone say, "Amnesia doesn't exist! It's just a cheap and lazy storytelling device."
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Of the typical "Knows everything to be a functional member of society, but nothing about ones own identity" variety.
  • Magical Negro: Samantha's doorman, Frank, plays with this. True, she comes to him for advice and looks upon him as something of a conscience, but he's a Deadpan Snarker. Unlike many such characters, he frequently references having a life outside helping Samantha and tends to rebuff her attempts to claim him as a friend.
  • Remonstrating with a Gun: "The Stalker" is about Samantha's attempt to apologize to someone to whom she stalked in her "evil" former personality, but continually makes the situation worse. During the same episode, she tries to bond with her father by going hunting with him. Thus, she ends up explaining to the man she stalked and the crowd that she is not crazy, while pointing a rifle at him and them.
  • Rich Bitch: Andrea, pre-amnesia Samantha and, to a lesser extent, Samantha's mother.
  • Romantic False Lead: Chloe, the current girlfriend of Samantha's ex-boyfriend, Todd.
  • Translation by Volume: The show plays with this. The main character has amnesia and when she meets up with her friend, the friend starts using this trope, speaking loudly and with unnatural clarity. Another friend quickly berates her, letting her know that Samantha has amnesia but isn't deaf. She is also obviously not a foreigner.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Samantha's mother and father.
  • Villainous Lineage: In one episode, Samantha's mother asserts that an evil streak runs in the family but gets diluted with every generation.