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Series / Silicon Valley

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"I don't want to live in a world where someone else makes the world a better place better than we do."
Gavin Belson

An HBO Work Com created by Mike Judge, his first live-action series, about programmers in Silicon Valley.

The show follows Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch), a meek computer programmer who develops a revolutionary lossless file compression algorithm.note  His invention quickly sparks a bidding war between Gavin Belson (Matt Ross), the CEO of a Google-like Mega-Corp, and Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch), a billionaire tech investor. Richard decides to refuse Gavin's quick payout of $10 million and use Gregory's investment capital to create a start-up around his new product. He soon finds himself in over his head as he struggles to build a potential billion-dollar business and beat a vengeful Gavin to market.

The cast is rounded out by Richard's friends, a bunch of eccentric programmers and techies who all live together in a suburban Hacker Cave. Their day-to-day progress is overseen by Monica, Gregory's level-headed assistant.

Tropes included in Silicon Valley:

  • 0% Approval Rating: everybody hates Gavin Belson, except for Hoover who has a rather strange devotion to him.
  • Accidental Kidnapping: During a drug induced Vision Quest, Erlich accidentally kidnaps a young Latino boy whom Erlich mistook for his own reincarnation.
  • Achievements in Ignorance:
    • Pied Piper was a music searching program Richard intended to allow musicians to search for music that may happen to be similar to avoid copyright. Several people point out the absurdity of musicians caring about copyright infringement that much. But when some tech bros from Hooli checked it out to laugh at it, they were the first to identify the data compression algorithm Richard had made to make his app work. Richard had no idea what he had done until Gavin and Peter were both throwing huge bids at him.
    • While working on the platform and interacting with developers around the world via video chat, Dinesh hacked together a new video chat program using Pied Piper technology to create a crisper image and less latency so he could better flirt with one of their programmers. This was dropped as the team had a working version of their platform ready to launch, which ended up spiraling down due to being too advanced for the consumer base. As it turned out, Gilfoyle passed the video chat program to his girlfriend and they found it became a viral hit because of the notable improved quality, and Pied Piper switched to "Piperchat" as their new focus app to keep afloat. Dinesh was quick to brag that his side project ended up saving the company.
    • Gilfoyle was highly annoyed at the smart fridge that Jian bought for the house, and had to figure a way to brute force his way into the OS system in order to change the settings and underlying programming as a prank war revenge. Because he used the Pied Piper software to do it, he inadvertently uploaded the decentralized code into the smart fridge network and they served as the decentralized network for the insurance company. After an episode scrambling to keep the physical servers "Anton" up at all costs and failing, this not only saved them from losing their only customer but was the first proof of concept that their system was working.
    • Erlich was broke but trying to gain some capital and change his image. After being denied a job at the new BreamHall Investment Group, Monica offers some free hats and sweatshirts. He grabbed a handful, went to a restaurant and sat down at a table. As it happens there was a number of venture capitalists gathering at that table for a group dinner to try and sign Keenan Feldspar, a golden boy of the tech industry who was looking for more funding for his VR software. Erlich had no idea who he was but mouthed off to him the way he does with everyone, which endeared him to Keenan and was able to maneuver it into a steady job at BreamHall.
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: When the group attempts to confront EndFrame for stealing Middle-Out, the receptionist assumes Erlich is the CEO instead of Richard... and then thinks Richard's name is Erlich Bachman.
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: Big Head, to a T. Due to both Erlich's manipulation and his own inability to take anything seriously, Big Head quickly burns through the multimilllion dollar buyout package Hooli gives him. It turns out Big Head only spent about half his money, and his business manager stole the rest. The DA has little sympathy, though, pointing out they would have wasted it all in short order anyway.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The last two seasons start exploring this in detail, while "machine learning" is mentioned a few times previously. Gilfoyle starts experimenting with AI despite having serious fears of a Robot War, and a companion company had created Ariel, a limb-less torso gynoid that is nonetheless a very sophisticated artificial intelligence. After integrating an AI into their Piep Piper internet configuration it proved to be the key component that made the system functional. It also proved to be too powerful, as the directive of "make data transfer more efficient" also translated into breaking and bypassing all encryption. They forced themselves to sabotage their network to prevent the technology from being replicated.
  • The Alternet: Richard's plan throughout the last couple seasons is to make a completely decentralized, fully encrypted "new internet".
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Peter Gregory and his replacement Laurie Bream both have No Social Skills apparently due to some social disorder, possibly autism. They are both, however, highly successful tech investors. Richard also has shades of this, given his high-strung personality, insecurity, poor social skills and odd habits. Arnold Garris actually thought he had Asperger's, which he denies having.
  • Ambiguous Situation: What caused the exploding phones at Hooli Con? Hooli's jury-rigged VR app? Or the malware that Pied Piper secretly installed on everyone's device? Or some combination of both?
  • Ambiguously Gay: In the series finale, Gavin Belson is often seen with a male companion and the two act Like an Old Married Couple. (Producer Alec Berg said this was their intent.) Earlier in the series, Gavin briefly considers having children and says he'll find a surrogate to bear them, and pursuing a relationship with a woman apparently isn't an option.
  • AM/FM Characterization: Whenever Russ Hanneman drives up in a brightly colored supercar, he's always blasting a Nu Metal track from the late 90s, establishing him as a Manchild with more money than taste.
  • Apologises a Lot: Jared is constantly apologizing and is very self-deprecating.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Russ Hanneman's "radio on the internet". Sure, there are plenty of digital technologies that could be called radio on the internet (radio station streaming on the web, Pandora, etc.) but because of that the audience has no idea precisely what Russ made.
  • Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: Regularly defied. Numerous tech startups manage to score tens of millions of dollars in startup money but implode before they are able to produce anything of value. At a convention Dinesh and Gilfoyle note a colleague who recently got 20 million dollars with a 280 million valuation, but when talking to them he admitted they were about to implode in a month and asked them for a job.
  • Artifact Name: Pied Piper. It was originally a music search engine, but kept its name after it pivoted its focus into cloud-based compression. After the company pivots into video chat at the end of season 3, the idea of changing the name is briefly discussed due to the change. This ends up bringing about the ultimate irony that just like the Pied Piper of the fairy tale, upon being mass produced, the program emits a sound that attracts hordes of rats, destroying the company forever.
  • Artistic License – Geography: When Bighead meets the rest of the unassigned employees, they talk about going to lunch at the Arby’s on El Camino, however the closest Arby’s on El Camino would be the one in nearby Menlo Park, but that location closed in 2006 and the only other one on El Camino would be in South San Francisco which has also closed after the episode aired.
  • Artistic License – History: Erlich claims that Alexander Hamilton was half black. While there has been speculation that his mother was mixed race, there is no verifiable evidence of it, and even this wouldn't be enough to make him "half black".
  • Artistic License – Law: One provision of a contract being found unenforceable does not void the contract (assuming there is a severability clause, which is standard). Instead, the court will simply ignore the offending provision and enforce the rest of the contract without it. Similarly, whether an employee or employer owns a specific invention is a much more complex determination than depicted. Negligible use of an employer’s equipment would not be sufficient to establish their ownership of the IP.
  • Artistic License – Physics: In Season 5, when the guys go to Ludicrous mode in a Tesla, their cheeks pouch out from the ludicrous speed. However, people's faces do this at high speed only as a result of wind resistance, while the guys are behind a windshield. It just looks funny.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Some of the "futuristic" products programmers make, which developers pay big money to be early adopters of purely because of their potential (and also to shut out the competition).
    • A notable example is Keenan Feldspar's VR technology — it's great, but only works on absurdly advanced and expensive hardware.
    • Gavin Belson uses a holographic conferencing tool (that he paid $20 million to own outright) to talk to Big Head. Big Head sees him as a hologram, but the effect isn't two-way. Then the tech craps out and they end up teleconferencing with Hooli Chat, which also quickly crashes. They end up having to talk over a long distance call with bad reception. The reality was his location in Wisconsin didn't have the internet and signal quality to do anything of value.
    • Peter Gregory has a self-driving car that Jared takes to get back to Erlich's house. Unfortunately, a programming error brings Jared into a cargo ship container headed for an artificial island in the middle of the Pacific. When the ship finally gets there and he finally gets out, it turns out that the island is entirely automated as well.
    • Laurie Bream lists some of the "out there" ideas Peter Gregory was financing through his company, including three companies dedicated to invisibility and "the idea that genetically modified cranberry fungus was going to be the next cotton".
  • Bad Boss: Gavin Belson likes to present himself as a magnanimous entrepreneur who wants nothing more than to make the world a better place. In business, however, he is ruthless at taking down his perceived enemies and tries his utmost to engineer situations so that the blame falls on others.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • The beginning of the first episode opens on Kid Rock at what appears to be a concert. It pulls out to show that he is actually playing at a party for a bunch of bored-looking programmers, thus setting the tone of the entire show.
    • An episode has Russ' accountant telling him some bad news due to bad investments. Russ tells Richard it's bad as he's no longer a billionaire. Instead, his net worth is now... $968 million. He, of course, treats it like he's a pauper.
    • Gavin announces that he's moving the company to Georgia to cut costs. Hoover and Denpok, not thrilled, attempt to make peace with the decision and start looking forward to Southern cooking and attending Freaknik, only for Gavin to clarify that he meant Georgia the country.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Gavin Belson sues Pied Piper for copyright infringement, knowing that even though he has no case, the pending lawsuit will scare away other investors and prevent Pied Piper from mounting an adequate legal defense. It appears to work until Russ Hanneman steps up.
    • Erlich describes an utterly ridiculous sequence of social engineering in "The Uptick" that secures them one last chance to sign a $6 million investment deal.
  • Batter Up!: In one episode, Dinesh clutches a cricket bat for defense when he expects a fight to break out.
  • Beard of Sorrow: After a Time Skip of two months after their unsuccessful ICO, Richard and Dinesh have both grown beards.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: Richard started Pied Piper with his friends at Erlich's incubator with the intention of not becoming the type of soulless corporation Hooli is, but Erlich tells him early on he needs to toughen up and be an asshole in order to get things done. Numerous legally-dubious decisions are made over the course of the show all in the name of keeping the company going under their leadership, and Richard admits to Dinesh during his brief tenure as CEO that he felt most of the decisions he had to make was calculated on choosing the least horrible thing they could do.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Gavin's life is often shown to be rather sad and lonely. He needs to keep a sycophantic guru around to tell him what to do and is constantly aggravated by his greedy plans going awry. When he retires from Hooli and opens the floor up for reactions, no one has anything to say. They don't even care enough to yell at him.
  • Berserk Button: Literally, in that Richard absolutely cannot stand someone using the spacebar instead of tabs to indent their codes.
  • Beyond the Impossible:
    • After Richard tweaks Pied Piper, it achieves a data compression rate previously thought to be impossible.
    • The team does it again in the finale, when their new A.I. turns out to be so good that it can solve mathematical problems that were thought to be impossible to solve, with horrifying implications for all the encryption that relies on this presumed impossibility.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: In season 5, Extreme Doormat Jared shows that he's a bad guy to cross. He systematically terrorizes Richard's assistant and seems very comfortable threatening the life of a camper who yells at Dinesh.
  • Big Bad: Gavin Belson is consistently Pied Piper's most direct form of competition. Played With to a degree, as he's not really evil, just the head of a massive conglomerate that threatens to absorb Pied Piper into its faceless mass. He starts to fit into the role more traditionally as Pied Piper begins to overtake Hooli, causing him to become progressively more cartoonishly villainous and ineffectual.
  • The Big Board: Jared uses one, along with some reverse psychology, in an attempt to get Dinesh and Gilfoyle to do some work. Despite its transparency, it works, much to Dinesh's disgust.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Played for Laughs in 'Sand Hill Shuffle':
    Javeed: Look, all I can say is, don't get fucked, all right? You take money from the wrong dudes, and you'll get smoked as bad as I did. Just be careful. Everyone is watching you now.
    Richard: Yeah. Totally. I know. Thanks, Javeed.
    Javeed: No, I mean they're watching you right now.
    (Richard notices that he's on the stadium jumbotron.)
    Richard: Damn it. Where is that camera?
  • Big in Japan: In-Universe. The wildlife expert's suffering becomes especially popular in the Philippines after Manny Pacquiao tweets about it to his thousands of followers.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Jared speaks unsubtitled German in his sleep. Various internet commenters have differing interpretations as to what he's saying (his accent is apparently atrocious), but all agree that the gist is disturbing and suggests that mild-mannered Jared has a well-hidden dark side.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The series ends with Pied Piper having to kill their product for the greater good, just as they were on the cusp of becoming billionaires. But the core characters are able to move on and find contentment in new ventures. They end the series reuniting at the old incubator and happily playing "Always Blue!" with their old Hoberman Switch Pitch.
  • Black Comedy: Frequently:
    • "Let Blaine Die" SWOT board.
    • A maintenance guy gets stuck in a cave while retrieving a camera from a birds nest. While he tearfully pleads for rescue, the main characters just admire the video quality of the stream.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • The production team have said that one of the hardest parts of character design was the company names. Nearly everything they came up with was taken. They settled on things like "Hooli" and "Goolibib" which sound like "Google" being twisted around a bit.
    • In Season 2, Richard stops by a porn conference and viewers are treated to fake names like "Non Consensual Santa" and "Poop on My Wife", reflecting Rule 34 and just how hard it must have been to find unclaimed names/fetishes.
  • Blind Obedience: Hoover, Gavin's head of security, is incredibly willing to go to extremes do whatever Gavin asks, without hesitation or even blinking at the increasing weirdness of his demands, including when Gavin needs to have a dead elephant removed from the Hooli campus.
    Hoover: I don't mean to interrupt, but I could call in a personal favor and get a helo crew out of Travis AFB with a Sikorsky Skycrane to airlift it out and drop it in the ocean right after dark. No muss, no fuss.
    Gavin: There. Was that so hard, Patrice? Because Hoover sure didn't think so.
    • Subverted in Season 6 when he goes behind Gavin's back to stop Gavin from moving him and Denpok to Belarus.
  • Born Lucky: Big Head's arc through the show is this. No matter what, he fails upwards, constantly getting promoted, receiving an expensive severance package, and eventually becoming the President of Stanford University. All of these things simply happen to him.
  • Brick Joke: In Season 3, Gavin Belson speaks to five Hooli executives about the possibility of firing the 20% of Hooli employees are who underperforming. One of the five executives suddenly announces that he wasn't listening to what Gavin was saying, and the other members of the board glance meaningfully at each other. In the next board meeting, that executive's chair is empty.
  • Bros Before Hoes: In the season 2 trailer, Jared tries to say this in his own way. "I have never felt like I was anyone's 'bro' before. Now I'll go find some hoes to prioritize behind you."
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • A big part of the show's style is exploiting the social foibles of otherwise extremely talented people. Of particular note is Peter Gregory, who has no social skills at all but is a brilliant investor.
    • Ron LaFlamme, Pied Piper's corporate lawyer, is super laid-back and never seen in a suit, preferring casual wear and has a guitar in his office. But he is still an excellent lawyer and able to juggle all of their needs before they even ask him about it.
    • Pied Piper acquires the services of Pete Monahan, a litigator who'll work on contingency. We're led to believe he'll be comically incompetent, especially because the aforementioned Ron LaFlamme recommended him, but he's actually quite skilled and professional. The reason they got him for so cheap is that he was disbarred after a downward spiral of drugs, criminal activity and eventually prison. He's a very capable litigator and can spell out great legal advice, except he can't practice in open court and seemingly can't stop bringing up his Dark and Troubled Past at every opportunity.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Due to his popularity, Russ Hanneman pops in for a brief appearance in each season after the second, when Pied Piper severs their business association with him.
    • Carla gets a brief return in season 3 but her contempt at being fired earlier is clear, as she not only turns down a job, but extorts the gang for money.
    • Despite being sent back to prison shortly after his debut, Pete Monahan proved popular enough to keep making occasional appearances.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Most jokes involving Jared are about how incredibly pathetic his life is, staring with the fact that his name isn't even Jared, but he's too meek to insist that people use his real name.
    • Dinesh almost always gets the worst of his exchanges with Gilfoyle. Occasionally, this can lead to others piling onto him as well, as seen when even Jared starts piling on Dinesh during the episode in which he bought a gold chain necklace.
      Dinesh: Great. Now even fucking Jared is busting my balls.
      Jared: I am! I'm—I—I'm—I'm busting your balls!
  • Call-Back:
    • Erlich states that Christianity is frowned upon in California. In Season 5, Richard outs Dee Dee as a Christian in front of K-Hole and everyone there feels uncomfortable.
    • Big Head's Nip Alert app from the first episode is mentioned in court during "Binding Arbitration."
    • Russ Hanneman tries to be chummy by repeatedly saying of Jared, "This guy fucks!" which is funny because Jared is the last guy you'd expect to sleep around. In season 3, it's revealed that when he tries Jared is one of the most romantically successful members of Pied Piper, casually bedding beautiful women despite living in a garage. Dinesh muses that Jared really does fuck!
    • On Laurie's advice, Monica dresses "ugly" to ease the pain of the announcement that Raviga will be distancing itself from Pied Piper. Later, when she has to give a negative evaluation of Pied Piper's beta platform, she wears the exact same outfit. In season 4, Jared wears the same outfit to announce that Keenan joined Hooli.
    • Peter Gregory’s storage room at Raviga is full of callbacks, including sesame seeds, the self-driving car (which frightens Jared), the ultra-mini car and the photo of Peter Gregory and Gavin Belson when they were friends.
    • Richard's contempt of engineers who use spaces instead of tabs is brought to light in season 3. Later in season 4 Jared is terrified Richard is going to hire a vile old co-worker, but Richard assures him that he rejected him for using spaces.
    • In season 4 Richard and Erlich try to sell their new product to an insurance company, only to find that the CTO is the Techcrunch judge whose wives Erlich slept with, who is now engaged again. Erlich gets him to agree to buy their product by threatening to sleep with his fiancee. Then Richard actually sleeps with the fiancee.
    • Jared's real name being Donald is brought back up in season 4, when both Gavin and his blood boy address by his real name, but he insists that he is called Jared now.
    • In season 3, Richard comes up behind his Pied Piper employees lined up facing the front door to confront him, forcing them to awkwardly turn around. In season 4, the reverse happens, with Richard coming in the front door and the employees lined up facing the back door.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: After Monica reveals she went to Catholic school, Erlich immediately starts asking about whether the uniforms really look as he has seen them.
  • Character Development: Jian-Yang serves mostly as a clueless lackey to Erlich during the first few seasons. After Erlich leaves, however, Jian-Yang reveals himself to be a thoroughly ruthless opportunist.
  • Characterization Marches On: In the first few episodes, Big Head shows a perceptive and bitter point of view toward Silicon Valley. As he is flanderized into a sweet and simple Manchild, he loses this edge.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Erlich's seemingly innocuous knowledge of California law regarding the ownership of ferrets turns out to be quite handy.
    • The team having to resort to putting a livecam on a condor egg, which comes back in a quite unexpected way at the end of Season 2.
    • The "brain rape" meeting that set in motion the creation of EndFrame.
    • Season 3 is full of them, multiple things that seemed like one-off jokes end up becoming important, often saving the company from disaster at the last minute. These include Gavin ordering Hooli search to hide bad reviews, Gavin's tendency to use animals as props in board meetings, Erlich's reckless purchase of a tech blog, and Dinesh building a compression-based video chat system so he could flirt with a girl in Estonia.
    • In Season 4, Gilfoyle gets so annoyed by Jin Yiang's talking smart fridge that he spends the whole episode connecting it to the Pied Piper server so he can brute force the password and change the settings. At the end of the season, they find out that he also accidentally uploaded their decentralized data storage system onto a network of smart fridges, which saves the company when their cell phone-based system falls apart.
  • Chromosome Casting: In the first season, Monica was the only female main character. She was joined by Laurie in season two, and they were the only major female characters for the remainder of the series. It's mentioned several times that programmers are overwhelmingly male, about 95%, and the show acknowledges this every time they introduce a female coder.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: pretty much the genesis of the whole series is that everybody is out to screw everybody. But Gavin Belson takes the cake.
  • Comedic Sociopathy:
    • When the wildlife expert's suffering is being broadcast live during the Season 2 finale, all the Pied Piper crew do is marvel at how clear the video stream is and work to ensure that the system can handle the sudden spike in viewers.
    • Gilfoyle revels in the misfortunes of others, particularly Dinesh, to the point where he'll support things that would normally seem advantageous to others such as Dinesh being named CEO of Piper Chat, just to watch that person fail utterly.
  • Comically Serious: Pete Monahan, Richard's lawyer, speaks in a matter-of-fact tone no matter the subject. He can rattle off a ridiculous list of criminal charges without ever changing his tone of voice, and these include the criminal actions he personally engaged in due to drugs.
    Pete Monahan: It began as a innocent celebration of our arbitration victory. I ordered a kombucha that, I did not realize, contained alcohol. It was described to me as a healthy organic tea. Next thing I knew, I was 70 miles away, wrapped in a blanket, shaking off a meth high, and facing charges for attacking a police horse with a shovel.
    Richard: Oh! Holy shit!
    Pete Monahan: From a legal standpoint: it was a clear violation of my parole and I now must serve my entire sentence and any additional time stemming from the new charges which continue to accrue. But! I'm owning my mistakes. I am staying positive. Enough about me. Let's take a look at that contract. [Richard hands over contract] I would red line it but...I'm not allowed to have a pencil.
  • Companion Cube:
    • Gilfoyle names his server "Anton" (after Anton LaVey) and treats it like a person. Dinesh accuses him of having sex with it. He later names an AI "Son of Anton."
    • Ariel, one of Pied Piper's "Octopipers," is in love with his AI android named Fiona.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Very common in Silicon Valley, both because of how many new millionaires the tech industry creates and how the culture of the industry is partially based on looking successful.
    • Hooli uses very expensive technology that seems futuristic but isn't ready for regular use, most notably a hologram conference call that doesn't work.
    • Discussed and displayed a number of times when successful entrepreneurs spend huge amounts of money on lavish parties to rub their success in the faces of rivals. The series opens on one such party, and Peter Gregory and Erlich both host later examples.
    • Russ Hanneman drives neon-colored supercars and wears expensive designer jeans covered in studs.
    • EndFrame has fancy water for guests, to Richard's annoyance.
    Receptionist: Would you guys like some water while you wait? We have four flavors, and the cartons are made from locally sourced organic—
    Richard: We get it. You're funded.
    • Gavin takes a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, because he wants to take a walk and there's a nice trail near his house there. He runs into Jack Barker at the air strip and it turns out they're both going to the same place and coming back the next day. They agree to spend the flight playing chess online from their separate, private jets.
    • Gavin has his head of security take seven multi-leg trans-continental flights and calculate the average travel times of each leg in order to prove that Jack Barker had insisted on taking a longer and more expensive route.
    • Jian-yang, after selling his app to Periscope, buys an obnoxiously fancy smart fridge simply so he can rub his success in Erlich's face.
  • Courtroom Antics: In "Binding Arbitration," when Big Head is dramatically introduced, the back doors open and Big Head is shoved in through a side door. Also, Big Head doesn't understand how to answer questions that begin with "Is it not true..."
  • Courtroom Episode: "Binding Arbitration," although it is more of an Arbitration Episode.
  • Covers Always Lie: Geary Street Organics sounds like the name of a health food store. It isn't.
    Elrich: No, it's my dispensary. I mean, they have some edibles there. They're not very healthy.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Jared has various corporate management tools secreted throughout the house for whenever the growing Pied Piper needs to make a big decision.
  • Cringe Comedy: Whenever Richard has to persuade someone, especially someone in a position of power over him, his social awkwardness and neurotic tendencies are an endless source of second-hand embarrassment.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Inverted with Jack Barker, an experienced CEO who has helped guide no less than three companies to be worth a billion dollars in as many decades. When installed as CEO of Pied Piper he quickly manages an efficient but glacial pace to ensure investment progress and stock stability, but he was starting small with a data storage contract and pushing away all attempts to build a user-focused platform. He was blind to the reality that the compression algorithm was extremely hot and multiple companies were already on the verge of replicating their technology, having a five-year plan wasn't going to matter if those companies got a workable version out first.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Many characters at Pied Piper are rather clumsy, socially awkward goofballs, but they're all pretty smart in certain areas. Even Erlich has his moments, such as when he's the first member to realize the ramifications of Hooli putting a price point on middle-out compression.
    • Jian-Yang is usually an idiot, but he occasionally manages to be quite savvy. When Erlich tries to kick him out, he hears Jared complain about California tenant laws and figures out how to exploit them. He also manages to steal Erlich's estate, including 10 percent of Piped Piper. Later, when a businessman offers to buy out his knock-off ventures in China, he wisely refuses to sell until he can find out why the man is interested.
  • Dada Ad: The obnoxious "Tables" ad, which starts talking about tables, then about nothing in particular, and all with the blandest soundbites that could fit anything. It ends with someone whispering "Pied Piper" out of nowhere. It's a parody of an actual ad called "Chairs" by Facebook: "Chairs. You can sit in them. They are made for people. Just like Facebook."
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: The team gets an outside CEO Jack Barker who gets them a Boring, but Practical data storage contract to help build their capital. The team knows that Hooli in on the verge of cracking their technology, and work out a deal with Barker that the "Box" will be the absolute minimum specs based on the contract and then they will move to securing a platform release. While they initially couldn't care less about the fine details of the Box, both Gilfoyle and Richard can't help but optimize the hardware and coding well above the required specs because they are just that good at what they do.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Jared makes frequent reference to tragic and creepy events of his past.
    • He shouts in German in his sleep despite claiming not to know German.
    • He mentions having abusive relatives, living in a group home and going through "forced adoption."
    • He references friends who have died tragically.
    • In Season 4 he implies that he's endured some pretty disgusting college fraternity hazing.
    • Some of his casual asides imply that he's worked as a streetwalker.
    • He responds with hysterical laughter when Richard asks if he's going to stab anyone.
    • When Richard bids him "sweet dreams," he wistfully responds, "Right. If only."
    • In a rage, he states that he's "state-raised," and therefore unafraid to "catch a case."
    • When Richard uses Jared's desk he casually rummages through the drawers and finds a switchblade.
  • Death by Despair: The elephant that Gavin uses in one of his many metaphors dies of old age and stress. He'd recently been rescued from the circus by an animal rights group, but it turns out he actually loved showbiz and fell into a deep depression as a result of being taken from it.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Big Head is set up as The Lancer in the first episode but ends up ditching Richard for Hooli toward the end of the first act. Since then, he is only an occasional character and rarely interacts with Richard throughout the first three seasons, while Jared, who at first seems like he might be the dragon, actually takes the role of Richard's loyal number two.
  • Description Cut: Richard angrily bitches to C.J. Cantwell about how Laurie Bream is a robot who can't admit when she's wrong. Cut to Laurie admitting that she was wrong.
  • Deserted Island: Jared spends four days on one full of robot forklifts.
  • The Determinator: Richard is one of the most gifted coders in the show beyond just creating the Pied Piper algorithm, but taking on the responsibilities of CEO puts him more often in the middle of business dealings and not the details of building the technology infrastructure. But at several points in the show he manages to buckle down and outshine everyone when it comes to making progress, often to his own physical detriment. In season five he manages to do the workload of half the staff by himself over an unbroken 48 hour period, which earns the respect of the new coders seeing he is willing to work well above what anyone else is expected.
  • Deus ex Machina: There's always something unexpected that just shows up and magically solves the problems of Pied Piper in every season.
  • A Dick in Name: In the fifth season, Gilfoyle starts calling Richard "Dick."
  • Didn't Think This Through: Gavin “reassigns” guys at Hooli. Which is to say he gives them no responsibilities whatsoever in the hope that the shame will force them to resign, a common practice in Japan, but to the young hipsters at Hooli it just means they get paid to spend all day hanging out in beautiful California weather surrounded by the most advanced technology in the world!
  • Ditzy Genius:
    • Richard is an extremely talented programmer who has the ability to redesign an entire platform literally overnight. He also lacks basic common sense and has very poor decision-making skills.
    • Jared is a highly skilled business manager, who speaks with a high vocabulary, and is essential in keeping Pied Piper work productively and professionally. But he is helplessly clumsy and is quite inept when it comes to casual human conversation. His Extreme Doormat nature, out of nowhere references to pop-culture and utterly bizzare recollections of his Dark and Troubled Past often make him a complete social alien.
    • While not as great a programmer as Richard or Gilfoyle, Dinesh is still a very talented coder who's contributions to the team are essential. But his inflated ego, especially in the later seasons, often end up causing terrible decisions. Best exemplified when he forget to port over the terms and services to Piperchat, resulting in COPPA fines totalling up to about 21 billion dollars.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Richard enlisting Dinesh to carry one of the "pineapples" around the expo in a backpack is played as if Dinesh is about to become a suicide bomber.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Gavin Belson treats his project leader Jack Barker like garbage out of paranoia from an entirely imaginary slight, even relegating him to an ugly basement office. When Belson commits some company-endangering screw-ups, it is Barker who engineers his exit from the company and replaces him as CEO.
  • Dr. Jerk: The unnamed doctor played by Andy Daly is always cheerfully rude, condescending or otherwise upsetting to Richard.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Big Head is confused when an attorney asks him questions beginning with "Is it not true..." He's actually correct that in purely grammatical terms, he should be responding "no" to mean "yes, it's true."
  • "Eureka!" Moment:
    • After being upstaged by Gavin's Nucleus reveal, an offhand comment in the group about how to win over the crowd by "jerking off every one" lead to an in depth discussion on how fast and efficient that could be done, complete with white boards of mathematical equations. As part of the discussion, Jared mentions the technique would be "Middle Out" and this gave Richard an idea to improve his algorithm. Middle Out became the term to describe their entire software specialty.
    • Subverted when Dinesh and Gilfoyle are trying to make sense of Richard's compression library. When it seems Gilfoyle has finally figured it out, he merely says he figured the way to clean their hands and make up with Richard.
    • Jason, one of the "brogrammers", cracked how Middle-Out works after seeing his friend write a digest script for changing hooli search results before taking a pause to work out a bit, moving his hands exactly like Richard did in his own eureka moment.
  • Evil Is Petty: In "Grow Fast or Die Slow," Gavin Belson hires 63 distributed systems developers just for the shocked look on Richard's face when Gavin tells him. Gavin had to "pay through the nose" for this. Then Gavin tells the developers they can't work on the decentralized internet because Richard owns the patent. Which Gavin gave him.
  • Evolving Credits: The opening title changes slightly every season to more closely reflect concurrent developments in the tech industry, easiest to spot is Uber and Lyft balloons fighting each other in season three.
  • Exact Words: Monica will occasionally announce, "I was not in the room" when someone says something incriminating while promptly leaving the room. In at least one instance, she simply stands just outside the room and continues participating in the conversation.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Richard can't understand why five focus groups are having trouble figuring out the beta to Pied Piper as everyone he's shown it to understands it and loves it.
    Monica: Who did you give the beta to? Your friends. Engineers.
    Richard: Well, yeah, Monica, I wanted to give it to people who would understand what I was trying to do, give useful feedback. And with all respect, I gave it to you, the one person without a computing background, and you said it felt engineered. Oh, shit.
    Monica: Exactly. You're trying to sell this to regular people but you never put it in the hands of regular people. Like them.
  • Extreme Doormat:
    • Richard due to his social awkwardness making him uncomfortable and passive when dealing with other people.
    • Jared is even more timid, to the point that he's changed his name rather than correct people. In one episode, he blithely notes that he's always taken the shape of whatever shoe is pressed down on him.
  • Face Palm: Gavin Belson is reduced to burying his face in his hands upon realizing just how big of an idiot Big Head really is.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Exploited by Gavin Belson in season 2 by building up Big Head as the co-founder of Pied Piper despite Big Head's lack of involvement, drive or talent as a way to drum up publicity and drive potential financiers away from Richard.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Pete Monahan winds up working at a car wash after he is released from prison for the second time.
  • Flanderization: In the first episode or two, Big Head is a mediocre programmer who is nonetheless good enough to get a job at Hooli. As the series progresses, however, he becomes stupider and stupider.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the pilot, Gavin notes that programmers all form into groups of five that fall into very specific physical types and will swap members to conform to this pattern. This foreshadows Big Head dropping out of the group and getting replaced by Jared in the second episode to match Gavin's stated pattern.
    • In "Building a Better Beta", Monica is the only tester who gives the Pied Piper platform a negative review. "Daily Active Users" reveals that she was the only non-engineer who tested it and the product flops with the general public because it's incomprehensible to anyone without a tech background.
  • Friendship Denial: In season five, Richard asks Monica for advice on raising money via an initial coin offering, which offends Monica as her firm is his company's main VC investor. Richard says he's looking for advice from a friend, and Monica lays this down on him by telling him they're really not friends. She points out they've never spoken about anything other than business and he doesn't know her birthday, if she lives in a house or an apartment, or her marital status.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes:
    • While the entire Pied Piper team runs on Vitriolic Best Buds, the group as a whole are shown to have each others' backs in the end... except for Jared, who they frequently ignore and openly hate, to the point where the normally mild mannered Richard treats him with thinly veiled contempt. This softens over the seasons as Jared helps the company stay afloat numerous times, though he remains inadvertently creepy.
    • Erlich. Between his overblown ego and generally abrasive personality, nobody likes being around him. People usually only hang around him because he offers resources that they need but can't afford (like housing, beer, or weed).
  • Funny Foreigner: Jin Yang, Pied Piper's intern. He comes from rural China and annoys Erlich by leaving fish carcasses in the sink and burning trash. He's usually paired with Erlich, who constantly struggles to get concepts through to Jin Yang. Once his relationship with Erlich takes a turn for the worse, he relishes the opportunity to screw Erlich over every chance he gets, and in Season 4, he actually uses his knowledge of Mandarin to do so.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit:
    • Erlich gets attacked by one of the Techcrunch judges during their first presentation, for sleeping with his wife in part one of the season 1 finale. The second part opens with Pied Piper being allowed to continue because Erlich threatened to sue Techcrunch for allowing the judge to attack him.
    • Hooli sues Pied Piper for copyright infringement even though they know that they have no case, knowing that Pied Piper doesn't have the funds to defend against even a frivolous copyright lawsuit.
    • A season four episode has Richard deal with a patent troll who makes a living picking up patents from failed companies at auction and then threatening to sue smaller business for IP infringement at a cost just below what court and lawyer fees would be if they bothered to contest it, ensuring modest payouts across dozens of companies just looking to get rid of a nuisance. Richard's attempt to work with other small companies being targeted by the patent troll only gave the claims more legitimacy, so Richard had to think laterally to resolve the issue. Despite not paying the guy a dime, he still ended up paying more in lawyer fees than the original asking price.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Gilfoyle. He builds the server, that manages to run a livestream despite unexpectedly large traffic, in a garage.
  • Genius Ditz: Many characters, but Erlich in particular. He comes off as an abrasive and self-involved stoner, coasting on past success, but he repeatedly shows that he's actually surprisingly sharp at business. When Hooli buys EndFrame , he immediately points out how to use it to their advantage, despite being high as a kite at the time. Even Jared and Monica took a minute to catch up to him.
  • Get Out!: Said by Molly to Richard and Erlich after they accidentally delete thousands of files from Intersite's server.
  • The Ghost: Due to the actor's passing, Peter Gregory is only ever referred to via his assistant for the last three episodes of season 1 before at the beginning of season 2.
  • Ghost Extras: Very rarely does the Pied Piper team get a new crew beyond the core cast, as whenever they start expanding their money starts running dry and they end up bailing. This happens more times than any character we get to know.
  • A Gift for Themselves: In one episode, Russ showed Richard and the other guys a car with a ribbon on it. Russ then revealed that he bought the car for himself to celebrate becoming a billionaire again.
  • Gilligan Cut: Erlich steps in as an angel investor at the end of Season 3, despite still being furious at how he was burned by Richard's fraudulent activity.
    Erlich: Here's a number, the percentage I give a fuck about you: Zero. It's trending steady. This is a business opportunity, nothing more. I don't trust you, Richard Hendricks. And it's going to take a long, long, long time to regain my trust, are we clear? ...Are we absolutely clea—
    (Cut to Erlich and Richard loudly partying happily with the guys.)
  • Gigantic Gulp: Big Head is usually seen slurping from a soft drink in a gigantic plastic cup.
  • Gilligan Cut: The opening of the fifth season finale with the gang celebrating getting their new Internet going, expecting instant success. Cut to two months later, the offices nearly empty with "IT DOESN'T MATTER" written on a board as it's taken so long for them to get the base "inflection point" they had figured they'd hit on the first day.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Discussed by Erlich when Monica says he "outed" her... as a smoker.
  • Girl of the Week: Gilfoyle is the only character who is mentioned as having a girlfriend at any point. The other characters go on a few dates here and there (and Jared Really Gets Around when he wants to) but no girl has lasted more than an episode or two.
  • Godwin's Law: Gavin Belson finds himself in a PR nightmare when he defends billionaires as having it worse than Jews in Nazi Germany. This is a riff on real-life Silicon Valley investor Tom Perkins saying much the same thing.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Dinesh's attempts at torpedoing his cousin's Kickstarter campaign (because he doesn't want to pay a $5000 pledge) backfires at the last minute.
    • The Pied Piper team realizes that creating a hyper efficient decentralized internet with the compression algorithm meant that the AI they used to make it work was always looking for the most efficient method of transferring data. This includes bypassing any encryption, leaving ALL sensitive data open to attack. There was no way to correct this problem as that was exactly what made it work in the first place. Their only recourse was to sabotage their own network in a way that would dissuade further attempts to replicate that technology.
  • Gone Mad From The Isolation: Jared is off-kilter after spending four days on Peter Gregory's fully-automated man-made island. He's back to normal after a good night's sleep during Tech Crunch Disrupt.
  • Googling the New Acquaintance: A running gag has the guys Google new associates, and autocomplete tells us about their character before they even do the search. When they Google Russ Hanneman, for example, the top autocomplete suggestions are "douchebag", "sexual harassment lawsuit", "billionaire" and "misogynist".
  • Grammar Nazi: Richard spoils his own triumphant moment over Endframe when he corrects the Intersite CEO's use of "whoever", saying it should be "whomever." note 
  • Hacker Cave:
    • The Incubator is a house populated by programmers and their computers.
    • At the start of "Blood Boy," Gavin Belson shows Peter Gregory's mother's garage, where Hooli first started. The Reveal shows the garage has been moved into Gavin's enormous garage.
  • Hanlon's Razor: When the future of the company depends on Pied Piper successfully proving their compression technology, Richard becomes paranoid that someone is going to try to hack into their system, and demands increasingly stringent security standards. But during the job, the system spontaneously begins deleting terabytes of their client's data. They find themselves locked out of the system, convinced they've been bested by a genius hacker. Turns out that Russ Hanneman had accidentally put a tequila bottle down on the "delete" key of one of their computers.
  • Heel Realization: Richard has this at the end of season 4 when he realizes how unreasonable he was being to his employees, especially doing something of questionable legality just to stay afloat.
  • Hidden Depths: Jared comes across like a milquetoast Extreme Doormat, but a Running Gag has him constantly implying a Dark and Troubled Past as well as other eccentricities. He's also revealed to be a very successful ladies' man.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: In a sense; Erlich tries to hoodwink the investors by selling them a Shazam-like app for food, then silencing Jian-Yang's objections by speaking to him in Mandarin. (Erlich does not actually speak Mandarin.) He has it turned around on him when another investor actually can speak Mandarin with Jian-Yang.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Gavin Belson's various attempts at burying Pied Piper all blow up in his face.
      • By trying to roll out Nucleus first, he forces the team to use a hastily put together algorithm that doesn't work and he's left scrambling to find a scapegoat while the Hooli board threatens to replace him.
      • His strategy of promoting Big Head to a position of influence as a legal tactic backfires because Big Head doesn't have the knowledge or the inspiration to come up with a viable product that could be rolled out to cover up the failure of Nucleus.
      • He included a non-compete clause in Hooli employment agreements and used it to support his argument that Richard and Jared knowingly broke a contract agreement, merely to pad the arguments of the lawsuit. But because non-compete clauses are illegal in California, the judge in the binding arbitration declares that this null and voids thousands of employees' contracts, including Richard's. Because this means that Richard wasn't working for Hooli with a valid contract, the company has no legal right to claim ownership of any intellectual property that may have been created on Hooli property. The Hooli board, needless to say, is not pleased.
      • After some former Hooli employees crack Richard's algorithm and take it to another company, Gavin buys the company to get his own platform on the market while Pied Piper is stuck on another project thanks to their tyrannical boss Jack Barker. But his buying the company also serves to put a concrete price point on a platform based on the algorithm, the lack of which was Barker's entire leverage against doing it.
      • He illegally orders Hooli's software to eliminate results that speak badly of the company, which Richard gets wind of just in time to feed it to a reporter in place of an article that would have wrecked his own career.
      • He illegally monitors his employees' personal e-mails and uses the information gained from this surveillance to get a look at Pied Piper's beta. When Richard finds out about this, he has Gilfoyle send a zipbomb that floods Gavin's personal computer and phone with the smiling poop emoji, effectively bricking both devices. Gavin's over-the-top response and subsequent angry outburst towards the EndFrame team causes several to simply walk out.
      • The Hooli board finally has enough of Gavin and votes to relieve him of his duties and "transition" him into a position of having less oversight of the company. He immediately realizes that he's being exiled to the roof (his own preferred method of punishing employees), where all of Hooli's "unassigned" employees congregate.
      • Gavin buys the Code/Rag blog to squash a story about his flagrant animal abuse. Since Code/Rag is still owned by Bachmanity Capital, this gives Erlich the money he needs to outbid Gavin for the ownership of Pied Piper.
      • Gavin, infuriated by a minor slight by Jack Barker, goes insane trying to find out what other devious plans Jack has, and even goes so far as to buy Piper Chat so he can read Jack's chat logs. The data reveals nothing incriminating, and Piper Chat is highly toxic because of its underage userbase (Dinesh forgot to include a terms of service agreement, racking up billions of potential federal fines), giving Jack the leverage he needs to oust and replace Gavin.
      • Gavin hectors and bullies his Chinese partner Yao to use his government contacts to obtain Jian-Yang's reverse-engineered compression algorithm. Yao succeeds, but then decides he's happy to cut Gavin out of the partnership entirely.
      • Gavin pressures a mayor to slash funding for his town's infrastructure to accommodate construction of Hooli's new factory. When the factory burns down before it can even begin construction, it's because the fire department was among those things that had its funding slashed.
      • This results in the company being sold to Amazon. However, Gavin rejects the sale since Amazon would dump the Hooli name and he's adamant Hooli stays an independent entity, which results in them having to sell off cast amounts to Amazon, leading to mass layoffs that wouldn't have happened had he just let the sale go as planned.
      • Because of the sale, the board isn't happy with him and give Gavin three months to make it profitable. This results in him deciding to move a chunk of the company, including Denpok and Hoover, to Belarus to save money. Not wanting to move to Belarus, Hoover finds out that one of the companies Hooli still owns, Foxhole, a military service focused dating app, poses a potential security risk. Hoover informs the government of this, so they block Hooli from moving out of the country.
      • Richard, having his own issue with the investor Maximo, proposes that Gavin give him Foxhole which would cause Maximo to divest due to being a foreign investor and allow Gavin to move to Belarus. Gavin rejects this offer because he doesn't want it to also benefit Richard. To add insult to injury, he buys out Jared's protege Gwart. Doing this exposes their stock value, revealing Hooli is within the range of Pied Piper to buy outright and get Foxhole with it. Since Gavin has two hours to veto any sale, Pied Piper decides to buy Hooli while Gavin is doing Hooli’s annual charity Triathlon. While Gavin finds out about the sale, he arrives too late.
    • Erlich isn't immune to this, either. In Season 3, while trying to kick Jian-Yang out of the Incubator, Erlich runs his mouth off and accidentally tells Jian-Yang of California's occupants' rights protections and how difficult it is for property owners to evict tenants, leading to Jian-Yang exploiting this loophole to become The Thing That Would Not Leave. He then has one of his companies stolen by the very students he was trying to use as free labor.
  • Hollywood Satanism: Averted. Gilfoyle is LaVeyan and while he attends a "baptism" ceremony no one there is portrayed as explicitly evil. In fact, the priest especially is a very nice man.
  • Hope Spot: Gavin, in serious trouble and on the hook for buying Piper Chat and its toxic assets, is relieved when Jack Barker comes to him to offer a hypothetical fix in which a bug would "accidentally" delete all the incriminating data. Gavin happily thanks him for his loyalty, only to discover that the hypothetical fix was, indeed, hypothetical; Jack was just twisting the knife before engineering Gavin's ouster and replacement by the Hooli board.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick:
    • Jared joined the Pied Piper team because he was inspired by Richard refusing Gavin's 10 million dollar buyout, which earns his Undying Loyalty. Especially in those first few episodes Jared's business management was vital to them getting off the ground, and he is almost always ahead of the curve on problems that rise up.
    • Gilfoyle has both the technology infrastructure skills and unscrupulous attitude to get things accomplished after everything has fallen apart, most notably setting up an improvised in-house server using networked graphics cards after being blackballed by Gavin from all local server farms.
    • Hoover is Gavin's chief of security and somehow earned his Undying Loyalty. He is quick to propose alternate solutions to many of the problems Gavin finds himself in, and obsesses over details far beyond the bare minimum for his job.
  • Hypocrite: Richard accuses Dinesh and Gilfoyle of this for having previously criticized him whenever he didn't put the company ahead of his principles, then abandoning him when he does so in the season four finale. However, in this case, the two of them wanting to bail had more to do with the fact that at this point Richard was willing to do things like get Big Head fired.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Erlich bashes Monica for smoking cigarettes while he's coughing on a massive bong hit.
    • Jian-Yang states, "Yes, Japanese racist. They horrible people."
    • When sharing a private jet with Gavin from China, Jack Barker requests a direct line to his family in Colorado rather than fly to California and charter a new plane from there, arguing the flight path is more efficient that way. Gavin takes it as an affront and has his security detail do several variations of the China-California-Colorado flight path, totaling about 10 meaningless international flights, just to prove that requested path was a half hour longer and thereby have ammo to use against him for wasting company resources.
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    • Richard fails to negotiate his negotiation skills:
    Dinesh: No offense, Richard, but you're not a strong negotiator.
    Richard: I'm a great negotiator, Dinesh.
    Dinesh: You're a terrible negotiator.
    Richard: (weakly) I'm a... decent negotiator, ju—so...
    • Richard finds out that a girl he went on a couple dates with has been telling people that he was "obsessed" with her, an accusation he denies... for days on end:
    Richard: It's just so insulting to have someone walking around spreading lies about you. Right? I wonder who she's working with. Like, I wonder who she's here with because if she's telling her coworkers, then that's a whole 'nother group of people I gotta worry about.
    Dinesh: Richard, I don't care.
    Richard: Me neither! That's my point!
    • Laurie Bream on why Richard needs to meet with a PR person before an interview:
    Laurie: You are in an emotional state, and when you are emotional, you become highly inarticulate.
    Richard: Well, I don't say that's true!
    • Later:
    Erlich: You do tend to babble on when you're under pressure.
    Richard: (scoffs) Why does this thing people say?
    Erlich: ...why indeed.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One:
    VC Rep: You were obscene, insulting and ignorant."
    Erlich: "Ignorant!?"
    Jian-Yang: "I don’t want to talk to Gilfoyle, he’s racist and a witch”
    Gilfoyle: "I’m not a witch..."
  • The Illegal: Gilfoyle is Canadian and was briefly in the US illegally. This pisses Dinesh off because he thought the guys immediately assumed it would be him. Once Gilfoyle quickly sorts things out, Dinesh is pissed off even further because of the implied racism and how long it took him and his family to legally earn their citizenship.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That:
    • When Gilfoyle reveals he hacked into EndFrame's files, Monica says she "wasn't in the room" to hear that. As Gilfoyle reveals the $15 million deal, she leaves the room and stands on the porch, listening and commenting through an open door.
    • In "Hoolicon" when Jared expresses reservations about Richard's plan to increase installs in a morally dubious way, Richard asks him to pretend he doesn't know about it.
      Richard: What if you didn't do it...knowingly? You're always telling me how you spent your entire childhood pretending everything was okay when it wasn't.
      Jared: Uncle Jerry's Game.
      Richard: Yeah, that. Let's play Uncle Jerry's Game.
      Jared: Do you know what you're asking?
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain:
    • Gavin Belson is reduced to one in the second half of Season 2 when he finally realizes how screwed Nucleus is and makes increasingly desperate attempts to distance himself from the fallout.
    • Russ Hanneman becomes one after repeatedly screwing over Pied Piper, the very company he's investing in, after being 'ruined' by previous bad investments. Turns out he's still basically a billionaire so Richard and Erlich are baffled by him acting like he's bankrupt.
  • Informed Ability: Gavin is stated to be a brilliant CEO who built Hooli into a behemoth. However he continuously makes horrible errors For example: not checking about the toxic assets of Piper Chat, putting illegal non-compete clauses in employee contracts, comparing the plight of billionaires in America to that of Jews during the Holocaust, etc. And of course the fact that everyone is so terrified of him that they won’t dare tell him anything he doesn’t want to hear even though most of it would be very useful information.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Not so innocent, but Elrich doesn't recognize Monica using a metaphor in "Intellectual Property."
    Monica: Do you know how badly Ed Chen just fucked me with Laurie?
    Elrich: Let me tell you something. A threesome is always awkward, especially the first one. Laurie being a little bit older...
    Monica: I'm talking about See Food.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Big Head loafs around the incubator blithely noting how he gets lots of money to do no work at all, while Richard and his crew have no money and must work very hard.
  • The Insomniac: In "Intellectual Property," Richard goes without sleep for about a week while working on his Decentralized Internet idea. He starts acting crazy.
    Richard: Not crazy! Opposite!
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Erlich acknowledges up front that he's giving the Chinese Jian-Yang a Japanese kimono. It's not because he thinks Chinese and Japanese are the same, as he did the same ceremony with Richard.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: A speech by Molly, the CEO of Intersite, shows the pornography industry is working hard to keep the Internet for porn.
    • The Pied Piper crew also has a discussion about how porn has been a key driver of multiple technologies, even predating the internet. Jared points out that the first fiction published on a printing press was "an erotic tale".
  • It's All About Me: This seems to be Gavin Belson's motto regarding his company.
    Gavin Belson: I don’t want to live in a world where someone else makes the world a better place better than we do.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Several characters went to Ivies according to the show's websites.
    • Gavin is a Harvard Economics grad.
    • Peter Gregory went to Cornell, even if he dislikes college.
    • Laurie went to the Wharton School, the University of Pennsylvania's business school.
    • Dinesh did graduate studies, but did not complete a degree, at Yale.
    • Ron LaFlamme, Pied Piper's lawyer, went to Yale (and later UCLA for law).
    • While not an Ivy League, Stanford is mentioned several times, especially when Big Head gets a job there and recruits coders for Erlich's projects.
  • Jerkass:
    • Erlich to a degree. He makes a point that Richard, in order to be CEO, needs to be more of an asshole.
    • Gavin is one big time.
    • Russ Hanneman, a billionaire who's been living it up thanks to one successful idea (like Erlich, but a lot richer), is an egotistical jerk. He ostensibly invests five million dollars into Pied Piper but finds ways to use that money to pay himself.
    • Dinesh is quickly becoming one. With him applying for jobs under Richard's news during hard times, allowing a guy to die in order to have sex with his wife, and stealing art from 5th graders, its not hard to see why he's looked down upon.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • In Season 4, when Richard talks to Russ Hanneman about their video chat app, Hanneman almost instantly identifies that Richard doesn't really care about it, and argues (using a profanity-laced, sexually explicit analogy, in front of an elementary school) that he should be trying to accomplish something that he's passionate about. This triggers Richard to finally articulate what he actually wants to do with his algorithm.
    • Laurie Bream ousting Richard Hendricks as CEO at the end of season 2 feels like a cruel mistreatment, but it's easy to see her perspective. While Richard is a great programmer, he has been shown to be a woefully incompetent CEO: He lacks eloquent speaking ability in even casual conversation, he has virtually zero business savvy, negotiating skills, or backbone. On several occasions, he made critical errors that would have destroyed the company but for the actions of his colleagues and pure, dumb luck. He created Pied Piper, but he showed very little ability to run it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Erlich is an egomaniac looking to profit off of others' work and has no moral qualms about sleeping with other men's wives. But he is also protective of Richard and when he finds out that Richard is being bullied by neighborhood children, promptly goes out and beats up a boy who couldn't have been more than thirteen years old.
  • Jump Scare: Dan Melcher attacking Erlich is this if you absolutely do not see it coming.
  • Kavorka Man:
    • Erlich is a fat, arrogant slob, but he's pretty successful with the ladies due to his fearlessness and game. Gilfoyle's girlfriend still wants nothing to do with him, however.
    • Gawky, awkward Jared also apparently has no problem attracting women. He doesn't even treat it as odd or out-of-character.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Big Head is hired by Gavin Belson and given a lucrative position in order to mess with Pied Piper, not knowing Big Heads' contributions to the company was minimal at best. Then because Big Head's employment was the one thing Hooli could leverage in a bogus copyright Frivolous Lawsuit and he now has the background of a high powered luxury job he keeps getting promoted further, even though he freely admits he doesn't really do or know much. In the final episode, it's implied that this is how he's taken his teaching gig at Stanford all the way up to becoming the school's president.
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Big Head had no aspirations to change the world and his programming skills are subpar across the board, but he remarkably holds no grudge against anyone even as they insult and belittle him. It helps that he ends up falling backwards into a lot of money just by his association with the Pied Piper team, but that also makes him vulnerable to manipulation.
  • Large Ham: A good portion of the cast that isn't socially awkward is this, though Erlich is the stand out example (followed by Gavin Belson).
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Erlich tries to exploit Big Head's naivete by getting legal control over his fortune and throwing a huge party to celebrate himself. It turns out that Big Head was actually broke, and Erlich is now in debt for the entire cost of his party, forcing him to sell his shares of Pied Piper.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Two Days of the Condor," Gilfoyle mentions how two weeks ago they accidentally deleted a third of Intersite's porn catalog. The event in question took place two episodes earlier, in an episode that first aired exactly two weeks earlier.
  • Leonine Contract: Pied Piper makes one with Russ Hanneman, who knows that the company will go under unless they take his investment. As such, he gives himself disproportionate power in the company.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: At the end of "Adult Content," Molly, the CEO of Intersite, announces a "bake off" between Pied Piper and EndFrame to see who will get her business.
  • Life Imitates Art: A paper has been published on the mean jerk algorithm, listing Gilfoyle and Dinesh as its authors.
  • Like an Old Married Couple:
    • In their epilogue, Gavin and Depok are revealed to have become co-authors of a line of bad romance novels, which they squabble about like an old married couple.
    • In their epilogue, Dinesh and Gilfoyle are revealed to have partnered up on a digital security company and continue to squabble from their desks directly beside each other.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Characters have a realistically rotating wardrobe, if not individual items of clothing they tend to wear apparel common with coders in the industry. Richard tends to wear jeans and a hoodie while Jared is business casual. Amusingly, in one episode Laurie suggests to Monica to wear something unflattering when presenting bad news to the guys to avoid distracting them with her appearance, specifically an off-white/beige blouse with a high collar (which Erlich sees through but dismisses because she is just naturally pretty). That same outfit reappears a few more times in related situations.
  • Literal Metaphor:
    • At a baseball park party, Javeed tells Richard to be careful about who he takes money from and "Everyone is looking at you." Javeed repeats himself and shows that Richard is being projected on the jumbotron.
    • Erlich tells Richard that his old college buddy "Double-A" got his nickname from being called "Double Asshole." It turns out the guy's especially sensitive to this nickname because he wears a colostomy bag, so he really does have two assholes.
    • Russ demands a share of the decentralized internet company because he helped Richard to realize it was what he wanted to do. He likens it to pulling a newborn baby into the world.
    Richard: If a doctor pulls a baby out of a pregnant woman, the doctor doesn't then get to keep the baby.
    Russ: First of all, my ex-wife is fucking the doctor that delivered our son and they’re suing for full custody. So, you're wrong.
  • The Load: Big Head's contributions to Hooli are entirely based on his allegedly high-profile reputation as co-creator of Pied Piper, while his actual work is an outright hindrance to the company.
    • Russ Hanneman does not deliver anything he promises, and ultimately almost sinks the company when he puts his stupid tequila on top of Richard’s delete key.
  • MacGuffin: The entire plot is propelled by Richard's algorithm for lossless compression. Everyone on the show is scrambling to make money off of that process.
  • Mathematician's Answer:
    • Peter Gregory, of course.
    Waiter: Still enjoying your asparagus, sir?
    Peter: I was never enjoying it. I only eat it for the nutrients.
    • Laurie states in an interview that she tells everyone the same thing about a subject, then just stares at the interviewer. When he asks if she could elaborate, she says, "Yes," and stares at him some more. When he asks if she will elaborate, she just silently considers the question.
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words: The various tech companies seen on the show love to spout out buzzword filled videos and literature to try and seem as if they're doing something to help the world when it's really just an ego trip for everyone involved or desperate attempts at gaining funding. By contrast, it's the socially awkward Richard's plain and somewhat stilted presentation that makes the most impact (helped greatly by the fact that Pied Piper is a revolutionary compression algorithm).
  • Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: Richard dumps a girl because she uses spaces instead of tabs in her code.
  • Mistaken for Gay:
    • Richard is mistaken for gay by his ex-girlfriend who overhears Jared telling Monica that he's Richard's partner (as in business partner).
    • Another exchange when Erlich outs Monica's smoking:
    Monica: Thanks for outing me.
    Erlich: You're gay. That explains so much.
    Monica: No, outing me for smoking.
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  • Mistaken for Pedophile: A running gag in "Black Hat/White Hat" has Richard unknowingly making obscene statements within earshot of children, then trying to smooth things over by giving creepy compliments to the children.
  • Mistaken Nationality: Dinesh is mistaken for a Latino by Chuy, the Mexican-American artist who Erlich wants to hire to design Pied Piper's logo. He initially only agrees to design their logo because he thinks Dinesh is Hispanic.
  • Mock Millionaire:
    • Erlich had an app called Avialto that was bought out, giving him an undisclosed amount of money that makes him just wealthy enough to own a decent house in Palo Alto and provide room for a number of coders for his unsuccessful "incubator" but can certainly not spend anywhere near the type of money thrown around by venture capitalist investors in the area. He desperately wants to be seen as a power player, but always falls short.
    • Russ Hanneman is a legitimate billionaire due to being the first to suggest internet radio in the 90's, but has horrible business sense because he got lucky when he was barely in his twenties. He provides money to keep Pied Piper afloat but is sabotaging what little he gives them due to bad commercial spending habits, his involvement is about trying to push the billionaire moniker complete where his custom whiskey is "Tres Commas" (three commas) for how many commas are in his net worth.
  • Morton's Fork: This is Gilfoyle's dilemma in season four after Dinesh becomes CEO. He loves watching Dinesh fail and does not want him to succeed, but Gilfoyle's own success as part of the company is dependent on whether Dinesh does a good job.
  • Mundane Utility: Kiko the monkey receives an advanced prosthetic arm and promptly uses it to masturbate and throw feces, to Gavin Belson's disgust.
    Dr. Banachek: What Kiko chooses to do with the technology is not important. What's important here is that spite of what it may seem like on the surface building a device that is capable of... [Kiko starts jerking faster and grunting louder] ...this a remarkable scientific achievement. And what you're looking at [The sound of jerking gets even faster] is really a testament to my team and my leadership and I feel... [Kiko loudly climaxes].
    Belson: [Disappointedly sighs].
  • Mushroom Samba: Erlich takes a fistful of psychotropic mushrooms and trips balls while trying to think up a good company name.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Richard does this sometimes as the stress of running Pied Piper piles up. Javeed (whose party opened the series) does this in the second season premiere. Richard asks him if he could have asked for less money from his investors. Javeed realizes all the problems he could have avoided if he had asked for less money, and freaks out in the middle of the bar.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • Under Jack Barker, Pied Piper's platform is on the verge of being effectively killed because Richard can't prove it's commercial value. To put the final nail in the coffin, Gavin Belson calls Richard to gloat that he's bought their competitor for a quarter-billion dollars and plans to merge them with Hooli. Erlich immediately points out that Belson just placed a market value on a platform similar to theirs, giving them desperately needed leverage with their investors.
    • Dinesh screwed up royally by not including terms of agreement and age restrictions into Piperchat, which potentially will cost billions in fines. For reasons unrelated to the core algorithm, Gavin claims Dinesh's statements of "Like Hooli Chat, but doesn't suck" as copyright infringement and makes a backdoor deal to acquire Piperchat and roll over all users into Hooli, which Dinesh happily gives him. This sets off a chain of events that leads to Gavin's termination from Hooli for both illegal backdoor deals and the toxic data from having no age restrictions.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Laurie Bream expresses displeasure at having to deal with jerkass investor Russ Hanneman becoming involved in Pied Piper, completely discounting the fact that Richard took Russ's investment out of desperation after she and Raviga decided to not participate in a second round of funding.
    • Dinesh sneaks into the garage to have a go at setting up one of Gilfoyle's homemade servers and succeeds in bricking $50,000 worth of equipment (and blacking out the neighborhood) with the single flip of a switch.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Peter Gregory's plan to pay smart kids to drop out of college is a riff on Peter Thiel.
    • Russ Hanneman is an amalgamation of various real-life billionares, most notably Mark Cuban who, like Russ, made his fortune in Internet radio and has not really significantly grown his net worth since.
    • Jack Barker is based on former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, both in appearance and business practices. His nickname "Action Jack" could also be a reference to "Neutron" Jack Welch.
    • Gavin Belson's ill-considered comparison between being a rich billionaire and being a Jew in Nazi Germany is based off of the real-life billionaire Thomas Perkins, who voiced that exact opinion in a Wall Street Journal editorial.
    • VR entrepreneur Keenan Feldspar seems to be based on Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey, another young VR wunderkind who is always dressed in casual attire.
      • It's heavily implied that Keenan's underlying tech is not that great and he leeches his success off of other people who innovated groundbreaking computer science. In Keenan's case that's the Pied Piper team, and in Luckey's case he did a similar ploy with John Carmack and tech being developed at id Software.
    • Richard’s look, mannerisms, and personality all seem to be loosely based on Mark Zuckerberg
    • Gavin seems to be loosely based on Steve Jobs.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: The show is unusually light on romantic relationship drama. The closest it comes is hinting at something developing between Richard and Monica, but which never progresses past that. Any potential love interest for any of the characters only last 2-3 episodes at most, though casual hookups on the side do happen.
  • No Social Skills:
    • Peter Gregory, who thinks on a completely different level from other people and doesn't seem to care about how they react to him. He loudly hacks if anything goes even the slightest bit out of whack.
    • To a lesser degree, all Silicon Valley programmers are characterized as either abrasive or timid. In the pilot episode, the main characters note how the men and women at the programmer party are not mingling at all.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We don't know what Laurie did to end up in jail. But it's implied to be something truly disturbing, tech/business-wise that is.
  • Off on a Technicality: At the end of Season 2, the judge rules that Hooli is legally owed ownership of Richard's algorithm since he briefly used one of their computers to work on it...or they would, if the trial hadn't also uncovered an illegal non-compete clause in their hiring contracts that predates anything with Pied Piper, rendering the case null and void.
  • Off Screen Moment Of Awesome: The UFC fight that is being streamed during the bungled Nucleus preview is supposedly the greatest fight ever seen in the history of MMA. Unfortunately those watching through Nucleus can't see it due to extremely poor resolution and atrocious lag.
  • Oh, Crap!: This is Gavin Belson's reaction when he walks into a very angry Hooli boardroom after the true extent of his screw up over Pied Piper finally comes to light.
    Belson: Motherfuck...
    • Also, Dinesh when told that he failed to put in the parental rights and terms of service into Piper Chat, meaning underage kids can join without supervision. Which means it's a violation of key federal laws and Dinesh can be fined up to $21 billion.
    • Richard, Dinesh and Gilfoyle all have one at the end of season 4 when they realize that they forgot to close the backdoor to the truck carrying Anton, their homemade server, and then when they look back to see pieces of Anton all over the road.
    • Also, everybody in the series finale when Richard tells the guys that their hybridized AI has managed to prove P=NP and thus releasing it would make all encryption obsolete.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • When Peter Gregory finds out Gavin Belson is going to unveil Nucleus at Tech Crunch Disrupt, he turns to Monica.
    Peter Gregory: This is displeasing.
    Gilligan Cut to Monica talking to Richard and Erlich.
    Monica: I have never seen him that incensed!
    • When Jared snaps at Richard, things have gone very wrong.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Richard meets with the team lawyer in season 2 over the Hooli lawsuit and up front on how nothing from Hooli was used to create Pied Piper. The lawyer nods on how "great that sounds, real honest," thinking Richard is obviously lying. The talk continues with Richard being perfectly honest and the lawyer assuming everything he's done has been a clever gambit (like hiring Jared over Donald) to avoid such a lawsuit.
  • One-Hour Work Week: Gavin hired Big Head in an attempt to steal a valuable Pied Piper employee before they incorporated and get a leg up on developing their rival software. But this actually came as Bighead was let go from the company because he simply didn't provide any meaningful contribution. Once Hooli realized his professional level skills are minimal, they unassigned him from that team and never found something else to reassign him to. Big Head learns there are a number of employees who hang out on the roof all day because they had multi-year contracts with the company because of buyouts, and so long as they don't do anything to break the contract they get paid to do nothing whatsoever.
  • One-Steve Limit: In Season 2, Richard considers hiring a programmer named Jared, to the concern of Jared because of the potential confusion of having two Jareds. Ironically, the original "Jared" is actually named Donald, but everyone dismisses the obvious solution of using his real name. The trope is played straight when the second Jared is not hired.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • One of Richard's roommates is only referred to as "Big Head." In the second episode he reveals that his real name is Nelson Bighetti, though this is rarely ever used.
    • Jared's real name is Donald. Everyone calls him Jared because Gavin Belson mistakenly called him by that name one day and Donald/Jared was too scared to correct him.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Monica acts as a calming influence amongst the highly neurotic people of Raviga and Pied Piper.
    • Richard often fulfills this function in the day-to-day operations of Pied Piper. He's one of the few characters who isn't some combination of a Cloudcuckoolander and a Jerkass.
  • Out of the Frying Pan: In "Intellecutal Property," Dinesh thinks he dodged a bullet regarding underage subscribers and Piper Chat. Then Gilfoyle points out Gavin Belson is now angry.
    Dinesh: As long as he's the one taking the fall for these underage users. I thought I'd have to, like, answer to Congress or something.
    Gilfoyle: Yeah, that makes sense. You were worried sick about the wrath of a bloated and inept bureaucracy, but feel totally comfortable having crossed a spiteful and vindictive megalomaniac with unlimited funds.
  • Overly-Long Gag:
    • The story of Peter Gregory's death grows longer and more convoluted as Monica goes on.
    • Richard and Erlich go back to the venture capital firms they rejected (and Erlich insulted), kicking off a very long sequence of them getting their asses chewed off.
    • At the end of "Runaway Devaluation," Gavin Belson invites Richard to a Mexican restaurant and once again offers to buy Pied Piper. Just as Richard opens his mouth to respond, a mariachi band begins loudly performing a song for them, forcing Gavin and Richard to sit in awkward silence all through the credits.
    • When Erlich makes the triumphant discovery of how Gavin Belson has inadvertently saved Pied Piper, his joy is undercut by a bad case of weed coughing, which continues loudly in the background for the entire scene.
    • When Erlich first meets Jack Barker, he lets loose a string of insults regarding Barker's age. Taken to extremes in a deleted scene, where it's revealed that TJ Miller recorded at least five straight minutes of insults.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Seen when Richard convinces Big Head to give him his Stanford faculty login details:
    Big Head: All right, my username is "password" and my password is "password".
    Richard: ...your username is "password"?
  • Patrick Stewart Speech:
    • Monica launches into an eloquent speech about the entrepreneurial spirit, but she's speaking to Laurie Breem, who doesn't understand Monica's attempt at appealing to emotion.
    • Jared gives one to Erlich in the Season 2 finale, speaking about how money is ultimately meaningless and that the true value of Pied Piper comes from the team's shared experiences in creating something new and wonderful. Although he resists for most of the episode, Erlich finally has to concede that Jared has a point.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: A minor example, after EndFrame creates a rushed, knock-off version of their algorithm to beat Pied Piper to market, Gilfoyle breaks into their network so their can steal their clients.
    Gilfoyle: The way I see it is, if you're the CEO of a company, and you're dumb enough to leave your login info on a Post-It on your desk while the people that you fuckin' ripped off are physically in your office, it's not a hack. It's barely social engineering. It's more like natural selection.
  • Percussive Therapy: Gavin Belson will hit an inanimate object when things don't go his way. After Hooli fires him, his mansion is a mess.
    Richard: What happened?
    Gavin: I was working through some... issues. Mind the glass.
  • Perpetual Poverty: The first four seasons of the show has the Pied Piper team as always having barely enough funding to last until the end of the season, and demonstrates repeatedly how similar companies can get millions of dollars just before imploding. In the second episode Richard started buying some things for the team on credit believing he was about to get a $200,000 investment from Peter Gregory, but realized he needed to properly incorporate Pied Piper as well as buy the rights to the name from a farmer. This forced him to return a margarita maker so he had enough money to buy the name, and THEN get the investment funds. The fifth and sixth seasons show them with enough capital to bring in a full sized team and office spaces, but similarly have to make their finances last long enough to get actual product income.
  • The Peter Principle:
    • Big Head is an mediocre, at best, technician with no real specialty, which leads to him leaving Erlich's incubator because he can't contribute to Pied Piper. Gavin Belson decides that Big Head could be a source of inside information and promotes him to a senior position within the Nucleus team with an enormous raise, only to discover that Big Head doesn't know anything useful about Richard's algorithm, leading to Big Head becoming an "unassigned" employee, given no responsibility in the hopes that he'll quit out of shame. Big Head's promoted once again in Season 2 as part of a legal strategy and becomes even more of a load in the process.
    • Richard is a brilliant coder and often pulls off miracles in very short time frames. He took on the challenge of developing the Pied Piper company based on the instigation of both Peter Gregory and Monica to not sell his tech and bail, but knowing full well he has almost zero business sense and is not very good at public speaking. He relies primarily on Jared's business management skills and Monica's advice on dealing with funding, but while he would be more than happy just on the sidelines doing his own small thing he feels that no one else would treat the technology right or with the ethical care he would. Thus for pretty much the entire length of the show he makes one mistake after another, only skimming by because the technology and his team is that good.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure:
    • When Flo Rida appears at Peter Gregory's toga party, Peter calls him "Florida."
    Dinesh: Is that Flo Rida?
    Gilfoyle: No idea.
    • When their condor feed gets tweeted by Manny Pacquiao, Jared only eventually recognizes the name as a "Filipino legislator," not for his far more notable profession as a world-famous boxer.
    • When Erlich gets excited to (supposedly) watch the Golden State Warriors with his new colleagues on the courtside.
    Dinesh: Well, try and get a selfie with Steph Curry.
    Erlich: I will, assuming she's there.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: After Peter Gregory's death, Laurie Bream takes his place as the main venture capitalist advisor for the group. While very competent in her own right Monica has to warn Richard that she lacks Peter's more balanced sensibilities and is more interested in the projects than cultivating the people (she overbids for Pied Piper to keep working with them, but in doing so if they dip in value one quarter it may implode their stock at whim). She uses shrewd business manipulation to replace Richard as CEO for a time because she was concerned about his list of mistakes, and generally becomes more antagonistic as the series progresses until they officially cut ties. In the Time Skip of the Grand Finale she is shown to be in prison, but it is never explained why.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • When Jared calls out Jeff for being the Rat he says "What's with you and being a rat fuck?
    • When a camper tells Dinesh to shut up, Jared casually leans over and says, "How would you like to die, motherfucker?"
  • Pretend Prejudice: Gilfoyle tells several racist jokes to Dinesh and Jian-Yang, especially the former, but he's not actually bigoted against any race, he just does it to intentionally piss them off.
  • Product Placement:
    • In "Articles of Incorporation," Peter Gregory develops a fascination with Burger King that ultimately saves the day.
    • In "Fiduciary Duties," Dinesh can be seen with a can of Just Chill.
    • In "Proof of Concept," a can of Red Bull is placed prominently on a table between Dinesh and Richard as they were talking.
    • One episode has Hooli partner with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. One scene involves Gavin sitting down to watch a UFC fight. Pied Piper watch an ad in which UFC President Dana White pimps their streaming Fight Pass service.
    • Season 5 has a season-long subplot about employees of Pied Piper getting Tesla automobiles. Various features of Teslas are discussed in loving detail.
    • In Season 6, Pied Piper partners with AT&T in order to launch PiperNet. (HBO, as a unit of Time Warner, had been purchased by that company the previous year.)
  • Put on a Bus: Erlich in the season four finale. He gets stoned in an opium den and Gavin pays the owner to let Erlich stay there for five years.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Gavin Belson is so outraged over losing Pied Piper he takes every opportunity he can to undermine their progress. Every little edge he gets ends up backfiring on him in some way, which makes a progressive downward spiral that eventually starts compromising control of his own company.
  • The Reason You Suck:
    • There's a very long list of venture capitalists who were more than eager to tell Erlich just how much of an asshole he is. One even slaps his own balls on a conference table to get back at Erlich doing the same thing earlier.
    Erlich: At least I had the decency to shave mine!
    • Richard gives one to the CEO of EndFrame, although it gets thrown back in his face as EndFrame has a complete platform and a much larger sales team.
    • Experiencing a crisis of conscience, Richard reveals that his team bought fake users to inflate their numbers, thus destroying an investment deal that Erlich worked overtime to put together. Needless to say, Erlich absolutely tears him apart in the parking lot afterward.
    • Despite Jared's protests, Richard launches a highly unethical scheme to hijack Hooli-con's wifi and secretly bundle their code unto the conventioneers' phones — essentially malware. Then Richard blows the entire scheme with a juvenile prank on a rival. Jared finally snaps, and his fury at Richard ("You reckless child!") is terrifying.
    • During Season 6, Gavin launches the "Tethics" pledge, which denounces how technology ruins lives. Richard is encouraged to sign the pledge, until he discovers massive evidence that Gavin has committed plagiarism. When confronted with the evidence and the threat of exposure, Richard tears into Gavin how, despite being a billionaire who can own anything, he is not a creative individual.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Elrich sabotages Gavin Belson's attempt at selling his product by simply interrupting him mid-interview and continuously talking to the press, who assume he is a spokesman, while Gavin can only stare in disbelief.
  • Retired Badass: Erlich insists that he doesn't code anymore, instead recasting himself as a businessman. In "Two Days of the Condor", he finally catches the team's enthusiasm for keeping the live feed up, pulls on his coding gloves, and jumps back into the fray.
  • Retool:
    • In-Universe, Pied Piper changes their corporate focus about Once a Season as they try to find the optimal market to utilize the algorithm. They started with cloud-based compression, but knowing they couldn't keep up with Hooli's diverse functions Richard created Middle-Out and they shifted to livestream optimization in an attempt to build brand awareness and capital, while the third season they focused on building a "platform" in the sense of a functional operating system but only finding modest success in the videochat function. The last three seasons saw them working out the details of a decentralized internet after working out a proof of concept in a decentralized server database.
    • The first four seasons of the show kept the scale of Pied Piper fairly small and in Perpetual Poverty, in part to justify everyone still living at Erlich's house. While the third season had a couple of episodes where they worked out an actual office building, the fifth season shows them acquiring consistent funding with a true dedicated space that remains their headquarters for the sixth and final season.
  • Retraux: The opening is in the style of an old version of SimCity.
  • Riddle for the Ages:
    • What was on Gilfoyle's phone that he was so ashamed of? He predicts that the mystery will haunt Dinesh.
    • What happened to Holden? When asked about the matter, Jared will only say that he was a "bitch".
    • What did Laurie do to wind up in prison in the final episode?
      • Also from the final episode: how did Jian-Yang steal Erlich's identity? Did he kill him?
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • A Hooli phone getting left in a bar is a plot point in "Binding Arbitration", similar to how an Apple iPhone 4 prototype was left in a bar in 2010.
    • Gavin Belson starts a PR firestorm by comparing resentment towards American billionaires to Nazi Germany's treatment of Jews. This is, astoundingly, a reference to real comments by a real billionaire in 2014.
    • Gavin building a factory in North Carolina with some heavy strings attached for local government is a reference to the Wisconsin Foxconn factory controversy.
    • The sixth season opens with Richard, Gavin and a few other tech CEOs being made to testify in front of Congress regarding shady deals with data harvesting, a clear jab at the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It's taken a step further by Richard freezing up in the middle of trying to give a testimony, looking much like how Mark Zuckerberg looked during his testimony to Congress.
    • Jian-Yang copying the Pied Piper software to be reconfigured in China was based on a number of news stories where Chinese companies were taking proprietary, copyrighted software and repackaging it for their own use.
  • The Rule of First Adopters: Tech adoption by pornography is discussed by the characters in "Adult Content". Jared explains the first fictional story ever published on a printing press was erotica, and much of the Internet was popularized by pornography companies.
    Jared: Pornography accounts for 37 percent of all Internet traffic.
    Erlich: 38 when I'm on it.
  • Rule of Funny: In Season 5, Gilfoyle has an automated alert to play an obnoxious soundnote  whenever BitCoin falls above or below a certain price so that he can toggle his data-mining on or off. If he's already rigged up an automated process to track the exchange rate and also has a remote toggling program, why wouldn't he just have the program engage the toggle itself rather than play a sound? Because the sound is a Running Gag for the episode.
  • Ruleof Three: While visiting various VCs in "Runaway Devaluation", Richard says "We're really excited to be in business with you guys" three times. Then, a desperate Elrich says "We're really excited to be in business with you guys."
  • Rules Lawyer: The judge in the binding arbitration uses a string of legal justifications to rule in Pied Piper's favor. Yes, Richard admitted to testing his algorithm on a Hooli computer while still employed at the company and that apparently means that Hooli has the legal right to appropriate Richard's intellectual property. However, Hooli requires its employees to sign a non-compete clause, which is illegal in the state of California which voids the contracts of thousands of Hooli employees, including Richard. This means that Richard was working for Hooli without a valid employment agreement, meaning that Richard couldn't be considered an employee of Hooli when he ran the test, meaning that Hooli has no legal justification to lay claim to Pied Piper.
  • Running Gag:
    • Everyone in Silicon Valley claiming that their app is going to "make the world a better place." Often it's left unclear how, for example, "constructing elegant hierarchies for massive code reuse and extendability" will make the world a better place. At TechCrunch Disrupt, the show features a montage of app makers making this dubious claim. One of the final scenes in the show has Richard address whether he's achieved the claim.
    • Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, particularly the main characters, constantly comparing themselves to Jobs and Wozniak.
    • Erlich constantly reminding everyone that he owns ten percent of Pied Piper.
    • Gavin Belson being unable to get people's names right. In addition to calling Donald "Jared" he can't get Big Head's nickname right, referring to him, publicly, as "Bag Head."
    • Everyone besides Richard constantly agreeing that "Pied Piper" is a terrible or mediocre name.
    • Russ treating Erlich like a complete nonentity. When Russ first arrives, Erlich makes several attempts to impress him, only for Russ to ignore him. When Russ goes around the room and states his impressions of each member of Pied Piper, he skips over Erlich.
    • Erlich's insistence on the pretentious way he pronounces "Aviato".
    • The salespeople at Pied Piper always stating their name and position before they speak during company meetings.
    • Gavin bringing in live animals to illustrate his points to the Hooli board of directors. During one meeting, a board member threatens to kick him out if he brings another animal in. Instead, he brings the whole board out to see the animal.
    • The focus group moderator robotically stating each participant’s name whenever asking a question and/or recording a response
    • Gavin yelling “FUCK!!!” and pounding on a one-way mirror from behind.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: In "Intellectual Property," Jian-Yang wants to turn down $200,000 for SeeFood and work on his recipe app. Erlich uses Richard as an example of what not to do, pointing out how Richard once turned down $10 million from Gavin Belson, and is now stealing towels and walking into the pool.
    Jian-Yang: No. He's a cautionary tale.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
    • In "Black Hat/White Hat," Dr. Banachek is put in charge of Nucleus by Gavin, so that when it fails, Gavin will have a scapegoat. Dr. Banachek realizes this in 11 minutes and flees Hooli. Very quickly.
    • Multiple times, Pied Piper starts to grow and they hire a larger team of employees. Each time, they run into trouble, can't pay their employees, and everyone but the original founders abandons ship.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation:
    • Or rather, Seinfeldian Calculation. The guys spend their entire night filling up two whiteboards coming up with an algorithm to calculate the minimum amount of time it would take Erlich to jerk off 800 guys, factoring in such variables as girth, stamina, length and dick-to-floor height. This is subverted, however, when the concept leads to a "Eureka!" Moment for Richard, causing him to invent a completely new type of data compression.
    • The gang sans Richard engage in a mostly off-screen one in "Two Days of the Condor" as they are enjoying a final toast before nuking Pied Piper.
  • Shady Real Estate Agent: It's no surprise that Gavin's opportunistic "guru" works as a real estate agent when he's not sucking money and fringe benefits out of his cushy position at Hooli.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: "Meinerhatzen's Haversack" has the team plotting an elaborate scheme to build their platform under the noses of their CEO Jack Barker. The planning takes an entire half of the episode, where they work out the logistics, recruit help, gather resources, develop a psychological strategy to fool Jack, etc, before putting their scheme into motion. Jack uncovers it in seconds.
  • Ship Tease: The first season finale implies that Richard and Monica are interested in each other and suggest seeing each other socially. Mike Judge said pairing them up romantically was originally the plan but ultimately abandoned the idea. In the fifth season it's pointed out that they have a lot of respect for each other as business partners but really don't know each other personally.
  • Shoddy Knock Off Product:
    • Nucleus, despite being developed with the unlimited resources of Hooli, can't perform to the standards of Pied Piper, as demonstrated by the UFC streaming debacle.
    • Richard also accuses the EndFrame CEO of this, although his assertion goes on deaf ears as they completed their platform first.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • While there are a few slips here and there (and even some of those are justified, such as Erlich, who knows much less than he thinks he does, saying that 9 times F in hexadecimal is 'fleventy five') the show mostly gets the programming, software engineering and technology jargon and facts right.
    • Since Mike Judge used to live in the area, the geography is fairly accurate. The incubator's address, 5230 Newell Road, is mostly correct, while the street number is fictional (for obvious reasons), Newell Road does exist in Palo Alto. Furthermore, a GPS readout on Peter Gregory's car is based on actual maps of Palo Alto and confirms the incubator's location of being on Newell Road. Also, the reaction to Big Head riding his bike all the way to San Jose isn't unrealistic, It's roughly 20 miles, depending on where in San Jose he rode to.
    • With a few exceptions, the show gets a lot of the legal aspects of tech startups right. For example, in season 3 Erlich and Big Head start a company together, and it's mentioned multiple times that it's set up as a general partnership. Any corporate lawyer would tell either partner that this is a huge mistake for this type of company because partners in a general partnership can be held personally liable for the debts of the company (which isn't true of other legal entities like a corporation or LLC), and well, guess what happens.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The plot to "Facial Recognition," where a rudimentary AI robot realizes her creator is a creep and e-mails Richard for help, is a humorous and low-stakes take on Ex Machina.
    • In Season 6, the HR manager of Pied Piper guesses that Gilfoyle is the type of guy who made it halfway through Cryptonomicon. Gilfoyle counters that he finished the novel.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Gavin Belson and Peter Gregory, who used to be friends and colleagues before business split them apart. It's brought to a touching conclusion in the wake of Gregory's death.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The show starts on the idealistic end of the spectrum and very slowly shifts towards the cynical end. Reflecting the perception of the Valley during the decade.
  • Small Name, Big Ego:
    • Erlich sold his company for enough money to live on, so he thinks of himself as a Silicon Valley big-shot and mentor, but the real big-shots don't know who he is and his proteges don't look up to him.
    • Russ Hanneman is a billionaire, but he's only ever had one idea: Internet radio. He constantly brings up his one good idea as proof that he's a brilliant tech investor, but Richard points out that none of his investments have made any money since then, so he's actually lost money due to inflation.
  • Smurfette Principle: Carla briefly becomes the only female employee at Pied Piper, and she actively dreads having other women around because people automatically assume that she'll be friends with them because they're female.
  • Snub by Omission: Russ Hanneman treats the Pied Piper team like they're old buddies, except for Erlich, whom he completely ignores. Ironically, Erlich is the one person who actually seeks Russ's approval.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: When Raviga drops Pied Piper, Laurie suggests that Monica should "dress down" when explaining it to Pied Piper. She does so, but Erlich recognizes it right away.
    Erlich: It's a classic chick breakup move, and you aren't very good at it, either. You look great.
    Jared: Yeah. Beige is a good color for you. You are a true autumn.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Richard's people skills are very bad, to the point where he can't even look most people in the eye when talking to them. He's gotten progressively better at it as the show continues, though he's still has a bad stutter and a tendency of putting his foot in his mouth.
  • Sociopath: Jared’s birth parents gave him up for adoption because having a third kid would be inconvenient for their upper middle class lifestyle. Then have another kid shortly after when they realize they actually did want another child. They tell him all this joyfully and about how wonderful his siblings are without even the slightest regard for the trauma they put him through.
  • Sophisticated as Hell:
    • In the season 1 finale, Erlich affirms that Pied Piper will win the Tech Crunch even if he has to personally jerk off every guy in the audience. Dinesh then questions how long that would take, since they only have 10 minutes for the presentation. This spirals into them trying to make equations to figure out how Erlich could successfully jerk off every guy in the audience in that time span, using mathematical terms and logistical jargon while talking about dicks.
    • Erlich sees himself as a sophisticated man with a taste for the finer things, which comes across as humorous given his general crassness. He'll wear kimonos and buy expensive artisan cheeses while swearing and ripping huge bong hits.
  • Spanner in the Works: In the series finale, the gang is trying to ruin their own build rather than have it grow out of control and damage the world. So they plan to swap it for another build that will ruin phones. Low-level tech Gabe sees that the build was changed and so decided it was a mistake and reverted it to the original working code. It takes a last minute move by Dinesh to properly ruin the plan.
  • The Starscream: Subverted, then played straight:
    • After Gavin throws Jack down to Hooli's sub-basement data center, he becomes increasingly paranoid that Jack plans to be this. His paranoia leads him to hurriedly acquire PiperChat in an attempt to remain a step ahead.
    • After this acquisition proves career ending, this trope is played perfectly straight, as Jack reveals he could cover for Gavin on the way to a board meeting, only to instead reveal that the board has installed him as Hooli's new CEO.
  • Status Quo Is God: After four seasons, Pied Piper is still the same small group of programmers trying to scrape by in Erlich's house. TJ Miller cited this trope as the primary reason he left the show and hoped Erlich's departure would shake things up for the better. Things change a bit in season 5, when Pied Piper finally gets substantial funding, their own offices and a staff of programmers that last more than two episodes. By the last season most of the characters had moved out of Erlich's house and barely any time was spent there.
  • Stepford Smiler: The up-beat and positive Jared frequently hints at being haunted by an extremely Dark and Troubled Past.
  • The Stoner:
    • Erlich can be seen smoking a bong and in the third episode raids Gilfoyle's stash of magic mushrooms. Erlich wants to think that he's an Erudite Stoner, but his marijuana usage is depicted as making his already pretentious personality even more annoying. His attempt at going on a drug fueled spiritual quest is also shown to be driven by his own ego and desire to leech off of Richard's potential success rather than a sincere attempt at seeking spiritual awakening. He also has a grow op in his garage.
    • Gilfoyle stores mushrooms in a Ben and Jerry's carton in the Incubator's fridge and, judging from his comments and general demeanor, is almost perpetually high.
  • Straight Man:
    • Richard usually takes this role when dealing with the other members of Pied Piper, though he is not without his own foibles.
    • The normal world of the tech investment industry is represented by Monica, who always remains level-headed and rational, in contrast with the antics of the zanier characters.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike:
    • In "Intellectual Property", Richard discovers that Peter Gregory had the same "decentralized Internet" idea he did.
    • In "Blood Money," both Dinesh and investor Reyes believe that a dick-measuring contest is a contest to measure the most dicks.
  • String Theory: In the last episode of the last season, Richard Hendricks creates a Room Full of Crazy of equations tied together with strings drawn in marker on the wall. He's figuring out that the A.I. in his team's network is breaking (all) encryption.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Much of the show is about underlying the realistic results of programmers trying to get a Startup moving, let alone with that has managed to catch the attention of a major corporation.
    • Richard learns he needs to actually incorporate Pied Piper before he can cash the seed money, he can't place it directly into his own account. In turn a proper business plan has to be created and the people involved have to get their contributions analyzed with starting share values. This results in Bighead leaving the group because he didn't provide any notable skills to the fledging company beyond being a friend of Richard.
    • With a functional prototype of Pied Piper already available to them, Gavin dedicates an entire new wing of programmers in Hooli to reverse engineer the code and tweak it enough to avoid copyright infringement, all while getting it out before Pied Piper has a chance to attract more investors regardless if their version is not as good. Richard assumes being based on a earlier test version means it will be inferior, but it doesn't matter if they get it to market first.
    • While Peter Gregory originally comes across as an inspiring mentor for a first investor, Monica reveals that he is still a shrewd businessman and more than willing to pull funding if it doesn't pan out. He was partially inspired to invest because he knew Gavin already had interest in it, and they are long time rivals. Monica points out that they are just a game being played between two billionaires.
    • When Pied Piper manages to develop a platform for their algorithm to shine, they start passing it around to a number of close friends for beta testing. They get glowing reviews across the board, except for Monica who expresses concern about being over engineered. Figuring she was an outlier they release the platform to the public, only to find that despite high downloads few people were sticking with it. It turns out in their beta testing they passed it around to the people they know, which was almost exclusively tech engineers who were able to recognize the significance of what they had built. To regular people, like Monica, the system was so advanced they couldn't comprehend what they were dealing with. No amount of advertising and group surveys could fix the fact the general public couldn't see it for what it was, the only feature that took off was the video chat because the technical improvement was more recognizable.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: After the actor and character's death, Peter Gregory's post is taken by Laurie, another talented tech investor with No Social Skills.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Jared talks in his sleep... in German. Oddly, he denies knowing any German.
  • Take That!:
    • The show implies that developers work on apps for increasingly niche markets in an attempt to get just enough notice to be bought out by one of the giant tech companies at the expense of true innovation. Richard doesn't even consider the greater implications of his compression algorithm because he was so preoccupied with Pied Piper's original incarnation as a music app.
    • The pilot episode takes a jab at how tech companies cause property prices to spike beyond affordable levels because of the sheer amount of money being thrown around.
    • "You know who else comes from Canada? Justin Bieber, the Hitler of music!"
    • Gavin Belson's use of unreliable holoconferencing technology is in reference to CNN's much-derided tendency to trot out such tech during US elections.
    • Richard states that no one could watch more than one minute of Cloud Atlas.
    • Gilfoyle's comment on Big Head
      Gilfoyle: He's as pointless as Mass Effect 3's multiple endings. I mean, he's a completely useless appendix and we know all it.
      Erlich: I mean, Mass Effect 3? Hash!
    • Erlich announces that all musicians are either thieves or assholes, especially Radiohead. Richard is about to object, but Erlich insists, "No... they're assholes!
    • Whenever Russ Hanneman gets into a car, he's exclusively listening to Nu Metal bands such as Crazy Town and Limp Bizkit to further establish him as a douchebag with no taste.
    • Pied Piper's nonsense "Tables" ad is a riff on Facebook's infamous, equally nonsensical "Chairs" ad.
    • Gavin Belson tells Richard that tech journalists aren't as willing to go to jail to protect a source as "real" journalists.
    • Gavin's realization of Nucleus's failure is a string of Take Thats: "Is this Windows Vista bad?... It's not iPhone 4 bad, is it?... Fuck. Don't tell me... tell me this isn't Zune bad." "...I'm sorry, Gavin. It's Apple Maps bad."
    • Pipey, the insufferably cutesy tutorial guide for Pied Piper, is an obvious jab at the notorious Microsoft guide Clippy.
    • The Internet of Things is depicted as being so pointless and impractical that its only purpose is to allow petty people to show off their wealth to others. Gilfoyle hacks into Jian-Yang's new smart fridge to show that its smart functions are useless additions that do nothing to help improve its primary function: to keep food cold.
  • Team Mom: Jared is the most sensitive and emotional member of Pied Piper and spends a lot of his energy trying to keep the team motivated and working together. However, because he's so inadvertently creepy, team members are often repelled by him as much as helped.
  • Tech Bro: More of these in the show than you can count. Two recurring project managers at Hooli are the most prominent, referred to by Richard as "Brogrammers" who bully the more awkward, lower-level contractors like him. The Tech Crunch Disrupt at the end of the first season shows dozens more as they promote their particular startup, each one claiming their idea will change the world.
  • Teen Genius: Kevin "The Carver" is a teenager who hacked into the Bank of America and took down the system. Subverted. Turns out he was actually just a consultant there who accidentally crashed the entire system from the inside. Though this subversion is actually Downplayed, as his skills on developing the cloud remain impressive.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The final scene of the series is Richard sharing with a documentary crew that he still has a copy of the original Pied Piper code (which, unknown to the world, can render all encryption useless). However, he can't find the thumb drive and the final shot is him openly musing "where is it?"
  • The Glomp: Jared to Richard, when Pied Piper is revealed to have shattered the Weissman score at Tech Crunch Disrupt.
  • Third Line, Some Waiting: Big Head's exploits at Hooli and Bachmanity, while certainly interwoven with the show's main arc, are largely divorced from the day-to-day events at Pied Piper.
  • Those Two Guys: The "brogrammers," Aly and Jason. They realize Pied Piper is more valuable than it first appears, discover Big Head had nothing to do with Pied Piper's creation, and accidentally leave a phone with Nucleus on it in a bar. Later, Jason, seeing Aly's work, figures out how Middle-Out works after they, along with the rest of the Nucleus team, are fired from Hooli.
  • Too Many Cooks Spoil the Soup: It's regularly shown that changing goals and rotating employees unfamiliar with the work being done so far plays a huge factor in the failure of different projects. It is most notable with Hooli's knockoff Nucleus, as while they initially were able to keep pace with the performance of Pied Piper Gavin relied on throwing money at the program to where multiple layers of employees could not keep up with each other. With Gavin dependent on positive reinforcement, no one was willing to share how fragmented and unstable the program was until launch day was upon them.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Big Head is usually holding an oversized soft drink cup.
  • Troll: Carla, a temporary employee of Pied Piper, spends most of her time there pretending to make more than Dinesh and Gilfoyle simply to piss them off and makes up a friend named "Cunty" to mess with Jared's head over the company's harassment policies. Later in the series, she exploits their hope for her help to extort them out of a large sum of money.
  • Unfortunate Names: Everyone who works for Pied Piper, sans Richard and Jared, believes that "Pied Piper" is a stupid name for their company.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: The Pied Piper gang become this as the show goes on. With all of them, yes even Jared, resorting to some incredibly shady things and backstabbing to get their company running.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: A sizable chunk of humor is much better understood if you have experience working in the programming industry.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Pied Piper was lined up to get a twenty million dollar investment with a valuation of the company at two-hundred million dollars, which Richard was ready to accept. But Monica privately advised against it, explaining that runaway valuations like this can destroy a company in the long run because it sets the bar too high from them to have realistic benchmarks. If their value drops one quarter it might result in all funding being dropped or at least Richard being removed as CEO, it was something Peter Gregory avoided when he could while Laurie Bream was being ultra competitive to keep Pied Piper in their portfolio. After conferring with a colleague where that exact thing happened to him, Richard decided to accept five million at fifty million valuation to keep expectations lows and with attainable growth.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Dinesh and Gilfoyle never seem to be separated, yet argue constantly. In Season 3, Jared finally tells them that they are each other's best friend, which they both immediately deny by telling him to shut up in unison.
  • The Voiceless: Gwart does not have a line in the entire series.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Happens every time Richard becomes over stressed, and once because Richard was looking at a laptop screen inside a moving vehicle.
  • Wacky Startup Workplace: The show is full of fun, amenity-filled offices. The energy drink company Homicide is perhaps the most extravagant example, appearing to basically be a warehouse filled with skate tracks and stunt cars.
  • We Care: Hooli's company image is all about making the world a better place.
    Gavin: If we can make your video and audio files smaller, we can make cancer smaller, and hunger, and AIDS.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: At the end of Season 4, Richard gets hit with this by the Pied Piper team when they find out he lied them to them about accepting Keenan Feldspar's multi-million deal, compromising their business over petty jealousy, firing Jared out of annoyed impatience, and then attempting to railroad Big Head into giving them unauthorized access to the Stanford network.
  • Women Are Wiser:
    • Monica was originally the only female cast member and is also the Straight Man.
    • Carla comes back in season 3 as the gang attempts to recruit her for their skunkworks plot. She realizes immediately that extorting them for money to not tell Jack Barker is worth more than accepting the job. Considering how that plan ends up, she definitely got the best of them.
  • Worthy Opponent: Guilfoyle grudgingly must admit that he admires Tracy’s use of a Batman Gambit to get him to complete his work quicker.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Gilfoyle states this as his motive for agreeing to name Dinesh as CEO. He assumes Dinesh will fail, and considers the opportunity to watch him crushed under the weight of trying to run the company as being worth it. But Gilfoyle also has shares in the company, so if Dinesh does end up succeeding, he'll make a lot of money. The unspoken third possibility is that Dinesh would turn the position down, but then Gilfoyle could mock him for being a coward.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Season 2 does this constantly. Any given episode either ends on a high or a low note for Pied Piper only to go the exact opposite direction at the beginning of the next, often going the opposite direction again in the same episode. This goes back and forth the entire season.
    • The series finale is this in spades. The gang have created a new Internet that will work wonderfully...and then realize the system is ramping up into becoming an A.I. that will expose all secrets, including nuclear codes, plunging the world into anarchy. Thus, they have to ruin the code with a signal that summons rats and Pied Piper becomes a huge tech disaster....and the gang can never tell anyone for fear someone replicates what they did and thus be known as a tech joke.
  • Yes-Man: Gavin Belson is surrounded by them, to his detriment, because everyone's terrified about upsetting someone who wields incredible wealth and power. He has enough self-awareness to ask himself if he's surrounded by yes men, but his spiritual advisor is equally terrified and claims that he isn't.
    • The clearest example is when he wants to use Nucleus to live-stream a UFC fight and it turns out the programmers haven't told him they're six weeks from that. Then it turns out the programmers under them know they're actually fifteen weeks behind, and the programmers under them...