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The craziest soap on the box.
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Sunset Beach was an American Soap Opera produced by Aaron Spelling. It ran just shy of 3 years on NBC, airing from January 6, 1997 to December 31, 1999. Woeful acting, wobbly scenery, and dreadful dialog abound.

Redneck ingenue Meg Cummings (Susan Ward) discovers that her fiancé is sleeping with a bridesmaid, packs her bags and moves west. Meg is not entirely guiltless, as she's in an online relationship with another man. The mystery man turns out to be Ben Evans (Clive Robertson), a mover and shaker in Sunset Beach, California. At first, Meg finds Ben to be withdrawn and unsociable—which she later discovers is due to his wife's death in a sailing accident. Meg has a rival in Ben's childhood friend, Annie Douglas (Sarah G. Buxton), who teams up with Meg's ex to split the spoils.

Another plotline revolves around the Richards family. The patriarch, Gregory Richards (Sam Behrens), is a white-collar criminal who owns much of the town. His wife Olivia (Lesley-Anne Down) is a secret drunk who is rarely allowed out in public. Their daughter Caitlin (Vanessa Dorman, later Kam Heskin) is involved with Cole Deschanel (Eddie Cibrian), an ex-jewel thief whom Gregory hates, and who sleeps with Olivia without realizing her connection to Caitlin. The Richards storyline was more compelling and had better acting, so it grew to dominate the show.

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The third plotline involves a lifeguard, Michael (Jason Winston-George), who later became a sports physician. He strikes up a romance with Vanessa (Sherri Saum), a journalist at the newspaper. Their relationship is jeopardized by Virginia (Dominique Jennings), who defies soap convention by being both black and a single mom. Virginia's plan rests on an exotic, disfiguring disease which was supposedly passed down to Vanessa by her estranged mother.

Other notable characters include: Olivia's friend Bette (Kathleen Noone), dispenser of town gossip; Ben's brother-in-law, Detective Ricardo Torres (Hank Cheyne), who suspects his sister's drowning was no accident; Madame Carmen (Margarita Cordova), she of the Tarot cards; Francesca (Lisa Guerrero), who figures into a year-long "Who Shot X" storyline; and Casey, a nondescript muscle-man.

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SB had a large fandom in the United Kingdom during its heyday, a surprise considering how daytime (as opposed to prime time) TV historically has a hard time in the UK. Such was its popularity over there that petitions were sent to the UK broadcaster (Channel 5) begging them to have it uncancelled.


Tropes featured in the show:

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    A 
  • Adopt the Dog:
    • Gabi has a breakdown on the witness once she realizes it was her father, not Ricardo, who raped her. That spelled the end of her villainous career.
    • In the last couple of episodes, Annie tries to mend fences with Olivia, and ropes the Richards kids into forgiving their mother.
  • All Just a Dream: Parodied in the series finale:
    • Following the double wedding of Meg and Ben & Michael and Vanessa, Meg wakes up back in Ludlow on the eve of her wedding to Tim. In a homage to The Wizard of Oz, she realizes that the past three years in Sunset Beach have been a dream, and that the characters in the show were actually her friends and family back home... only to wake up from THAT dream and reappear in bed with Ben.
  • ''All Love Is Unrequited:
    • Ben/Gregory. Both stare through Annie like a potted plant.
    • It's hard not feel sorry for Tyus: he's such a great man and risks his own life to save Vanessa's and Michael's. Yet he's friendzoned forever. Poor forever alone Tyus.
    • In the hospital during the earthquake storyline, Olivia was gazing longingly at Gregory while hugging AJ.
    • Bette hints at one point that she regrets not admitting her feelings to AJ.
    • The look on Casey's face when Meg runs straight into Ben's following Derek's initial defeat.
    • In Season Two, Sara is rightly pissed because Casey was only using her as a stepladder to get close to Meg.
  • Always Someone Better: While deliberating how to take Gregory to court ("If GOD were her attorney, she wouldn't win this."), Olivia got a call from an old friend who lost touch with her they both became "trophy wives". Barbie suggests they gather some ammunition against Gregory and hooks Olivia up with her lawyer, Les Gordon. He's the only lawyer to ever win a case again Gregory, a fact Gordon reminds him of over the phone (which Gregory nearly throws in anger). Gordon says a few magic words and instantly springs Olivia and Bette from jail.
    Bette: He is good.
  • Always Save the Girl:
    • For all his faults, Tim is not a coward, unlike a male nurse who abandons Dana/Maria because he was afraid of dying in the quake. Tim is the rescuer, using a wooden beam to tear down the debris and save Dana despite having being comatose for months. What a miracle. Tim just might be the daytime Jesus.
    • Annie, Maria, and Meg: Ben is always riding off to rescue one or the other, to the annoyance of the other two.
    • When Dana/Maria tried to hitchhike from the hospital, two dudebros in yacht pants drove up in a convertible and tried and rape her on the beach in broad daylight; Ben appeared from nowhere and beat up the rapists with Ricardo's help.
    • Earthquake storyline: Greg leaves AJ to rot in the collapsing building site. But he's willing to risk dying in a car explosion pry Olivia loose from the passenger seat.
    • This was once lampshaded by Annie. She doesn't buy into Cole's "knight in shining armor" act (calling him "Lancelot") and thinks he's being creepy and possessive. Apparently not, since Cole arrives in the nick of time to save Caitlin from bundle of dynamite. Sometimes you just can't get rid of a bomb, kids.
      Olivia: You almost got my daughter blown into confetti.
  • Amoral Attorney:
    • Olivia can't leave Gregory without losing her children, her money, or being thrown into a sanitarium. Both parties have extramarital affairs under their belts, but Gregory controls the purse-strings and no litigator can hope to compete with him.
    • Not long after Caitlin's supposedly deadly car crash, Ricardo—who hired Gregory to defend him against Gabi's rape allegations—tries to call Gregory off. Not because he's a grieving man who can't handle the job, but because Ricardo thinks he's out for blood.
    • D.A. Bette Steele. Just as Ricardo starts to believe Ben's story about his twin brother, the D.A. circumvents him and locks Ben up. Steele shows up again when Caitlin confesses to the shooting of Francesca Vargas. Not only does she swallow this obviously-bogus statement (in spite of Caitlin's obvious lack of mental faculties and a lack of salient details) and closes the case. When Sean intervenes on his sister's behalf, Steele threatens to charge Sean with obstructing her investigation if continues meddling.
      Gregory: They got a confession in their hands! All they see is an easy conviction!
    • When Francesca's true killer is found, a frustrated Annie points out that they gave the D.A. the killer "on a silver platter". The D.A. is not being cooperative because it was, legally, entrapment. The voice modulator could also have faked Gregory's voice. Hence the tape is declared valid. The DA still threatens to arrest them if they cross her path again. She also threatens to fabricate charges against them.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me:
    • In order to throw Ricardo off his scent, Eddie arranges Paula's kidnapping and hires a hillbilly ex-con to help engineer her rescue. Too bad the kidnapper had other plans. Plans that include organ music and a ratty VW bus with JUST MARRIED painted on it.
    • Upon being rescued and re-imprisoned in a second dungeon by Diana Wood, Ben finds himself dressed in a tux and laid out in a coffin while Diane twirls around in a black wedding dress to the Jonathan Creek theme ("Dance Macabre").
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing:
    • Numerous Annie dreams, including her "wake". At first, Annie mistakes it for Francesca's funeral and mills about the room, observing with delight that it feels more like a party. She peeks in the casket and sees herself, screaming.
      Antonio: (performs a Hail Mary, pauses) I can't even bless her corpse!
      Olivia and Caitlin: *clink glasses*
      Ricardo: I have never seen a cleaner case of justifiable homicide!
    • Search For Dignity: In Annie's Golden Age TV fantasy, everyone breaths a sigh of relief when they hear that Annie is in an irrecoverable coma. ("THANK HEAVENS.")
    • Annie's electrocution on Jerry Springer is celebrated with game show music, convention balloons and falling confetti. The ladies fight over who gets to pull the switch.
    • Nobody seems to mourn Francesca, with Greg and AJ smirking evilly as they witness her final breaths. A short time later, everyone reconvenes at the hospital. "Is she DEAD?" Olivia demands, not looking particularly innocent. Caitlin: "I won't be able to sleep anyway. Not until she's dead." Annie offers some fat free vending machine chips to Olivia, who refers to Fran as "that insufferable Vargas creature".
      Ricardo: She's alive. (deafening silence from the room) Your concern is very touching.
    • Annie just says what she thinks. On any other show, Annie would act soppy for one episode, then go back to being a hater... not here. She won't pretend she's going to miss Caitlin after her car wreck, and what's more, she's going to exploit it for another zany scheme.
    • Annie later muses that she should donate Gregory's body to science, but doubts that they'd even take it.
    • Sean quips that his father's wake is turning into "a state funeral", with all of Gregory's old enemies coming out of the woodwork to make sure he's dead. Even Antonio struggles to say something nice about the guy. When it's Caitlin's turn to speak, she announces that she's going to stand up and defend Gregory's memory, if only because someone ought to.
  • Apocalyptic Log:
    • Maria's diary entries, which were secretly forged by Annie. She makes Ben sound like some kind of wife-beating lunatic.
    • Gregory reading through Olivia's love letters from when they were courting. They're splitsville two years into the marriage.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Annie is sniffling and almost apologetic when she reverse-blackmails Gregory with Trey's test results. Much later on, Gregory apologizes to her softly preparing to stage her murder-suicide in the power plant. "You've just given me no choice...no choice...."
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • Michael, always. Why does he counter everything Vanessa says with 'Maybe you AREN'T READY to move in with me!'?
    • Nobody listens to Ricardo's survival plans on the Neptune, not even the crew. "The guy's suicidal! And he wants to take YOU with him!"
  • Arc Words: ''If the moon rises early and the Santa Anna winds kick up out of nowhere then the moment the sun drops out of the sight the first person you see on the other side of the pier is the person you're destined to be with. (In this case, it's Ben, Cole, and the big fella Dana/Maria runs into in the last episode.)
  • Archenemy:
    • Cole/Gregory and Vanessa/Virginia.
    • Cole and Gregory pissing trading insults with the same gravity as Superman and Lex Luthor. Gregory is disappointed when he greets his son-in-law in the living room one morning, and Cole speeds right past him. "Come on, Cole, spar with me!"
    • Gabby and Carmen screeching at each other in Spanglish.
    • Annie alternating between her feuds with Meg Cummings and Olivia. The latter took precedence during the inheritance squabble. They later become frenemies and team up to bring down Tobias Richards.
  • Artifact of Attraction: A weirdo cult has sprouted up around the Rosario jewels. Bernie and Hillary are both members of the group, and were warned to "guard [the sapphires] well"—which they didn't, since Cole took them. Since then, everyone involved in the group has been acting strangely. Francesca suggests that Phillip's mania may have been caused by the Rosario curse, too.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: The original South Bay hospital set really takes one's breath away. What a discreet place to have an abortion: in the middle of the triage, with the door flapping in the breeze, the stirrups sticking out into the lobby and people barging in and out every five seconds.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Tiffany, the vagabond girl, has a line in the Pilot:
    Brad: Where'd you crash last night?
    Tiff: With Brad Pitt.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: The final showdown with "Tobias Richards" at the Sunset Beach power plant, circa Winter '99. The story finally wraps up with a Christmas wedding. Derek Evans is apprehended and killed by Ben in the same period of time.
  • Assassin Outclassin': The dude hired to kill Cole. Hope you got a good deal on that guy, Gregory. An assassin who lunges at his target, when they are both standing on the edge of a cliff but doesn't realize that even if he does hit the target, they'll both crash on the rocks below? It's flattery calling him stupid. When he hears of a cliffside murder, and assuming it's Cole: "A male... how horrible... how did he die?" Once more with feeling, Gregory.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Francesca Vargas and Eddie.
    • In Terror Island, Jade gets disemboweled right off the boat. Also from T.I.: Did anybody really care at the time that Elizabeth got killed? She was a spoiled brat and was there purely to start the bodycount.
  • The Atoner:
    • Michael, cleaning the street, one crackhead at a time. We later learn that Michael was the gang-banger who shot Virginia's husband (and Jimmie's father). In penance, he took up Jackson's role.
    • Antonio reveals that he is splitting the Titanic II charity cruise money with his old, disgraced parish. He was run out of Rosario after allowing Francesca and her partner in crime, Phillip, to run off with the Madonna and its jewels. At Antonio's urging (and in response to Cole apparently drowning in a flooded passageway on the ship), Francesca makes "a promise to God" to return what she stole. Francesca eventually had the completed Madonna mailed off to its place of origin, but she didn't leave town; so, she did keep the promise but did not reform.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral:
    • Annie pays a visit to her own wake in Ben's bar. In true slattern fashion, her memorial photo is wearing a tiger print top. She also attends her funeral in a nightmare, watching helplessly as everyone parties like it's 1999.
    • Gregory attendS his own while dressed up as a monk. He makes a commotion by kicking something over on his way out, and Cole tries to nab him, thinking he might be a spy. Silly Antonio calls him off, claiming it's a monk who's there on retreat and can't speak.
  • Attention Whore:
    • Annie grouses that the town would throw a parade if a crazed gunman made off with her instead of Caitlin.
    • In a moment of self-reflection, Annie admits she used to make crank calls "every ten minutes" in her teens. She also harried her workaholic father, Del, by tossing away his golf clubs and misplacing his phone messages.
      Annie: Somewhere along the line, I figured that if I just would act up enough then I would get more attention.
  • Awful Wedded Life:
    • Gregory and Olivia. The marriage is a sham; a with Gregory taking credit for lifting Olivia "out of the gutter" and turning her up into a society woman. Annie doesn't fare better, despite her efforts to make it work. She raises a toast to "a new beginning" at Grenedine's, and Gregory knocks her glass to the other side of the restaurant with a giant smash. In a heart-to-heart with Dana/Maria, Annie calls the glass "a hand grenade in the ongoing war" between the two.

    B 
  • Back for the Finale:
    • Despite giving up the ghost, Dax Griffin (Tim) agreed to come back for Meg's dream sequence in Kansas.
    • Cole was apprehended again by Scotland Yard but was sprung from jail in time for the finale.
  • Bad Liar:
    • Annie is a practiced blackmailer, but woeful liar. Realizing that a second paternity test might expose Gregory as Trey's father (and giving Olivia the leverage to boot her out), Annie tries to convince Cole that a second test isn't worth the risk.
      Cole: Anything you don't want me do MUST be worth doing.
    • In a hospital scene, Annie is on a payphone while fishing through her purse, and drops an incriminating handkerchief belonging to A.J. A helpful nurse retrieves it and hands it to Annie. "WHAT DID YOU HEAR", she shrieks to the room.
      Nurse: Try to do someone a favor!
    • Post-shark attack Melinda. She really turns on the waterworks, drying her tears on her lawyer's necktie while demanding Sara be arrested for attempted murder. "I was brilliant. They can cast me as ME in my movie." What an ego.
    • Gabi doing fishing around Antonio to find out the source of his troubles. "Let me guess..it's a woman." Antonio: "NowwhatmakesyouthinkImtroubledbyawoman!?"
  • Badass Family: The Deschanels are bona fide royalty. Armando was the founder of Sunset Beach and something of a legend between the sheets.
  • Bastard Understudy:
    • Del Douglas was more of a father to Gregory than Gregory's own father was. Gregory repays his generosity by trying to murder him and then framing Del's daughter for the crime. A year later, he enters into a marriage of convenience with Annie in order to steal her inheritance, the Liberty Corporation stock.
    • Phillip calls Cole "his former protege": he taught Cole how to steal, and how to woo.
  • The Beard:
    • Gregory admits he keeps Annie around because back-to-back divorces would ruin his family-man image.
      "I care more about Spike, and I'm allergic to the little mongrel."
    • In his paranoia, Wheelchair-bound Ricardo hisses that Gabi is waiting for him to die. He thinks he's just The Beard for her to carry on with his brother.
  • Beard of Sorrow:
    • Ben's sadness stubble. Once when Meg dumps him, and again when he sees her smooching Casey under the pier.
    • After Cole discovers the truth abut "their" baby, he and Caitlin take a break as a couple a Adding to Cole's misfortunes, Cailtin finds out about Colivia from Gregory, who gladly seizes custody of Trey. Cole is growing a stubble by that point.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Tiffany looks pretty fit for a street rat.
    • A solid month of confinement in a dungeon and Ben's hair is slightly disheveled. After 40 episodes, Ben doesn't feel hungry, never grows stubble, and sits obediently in the chair as though he hasn't even attempted to free himself. He should be sporting a railroad tycoon beard. Oh, and he must be smelly by that point. How many times Ben has relieved himself since he's been tied up?
    • In the aftermath of back-to-back earthquakes, everyone's hair is still perfect. How the hell did no one get mascara running on that sinking ship?
    • Tim rises from his coma looking better than when he entered it: perfect hair and body.
  • Bed Trick:
    • Derek never got to have sex with Maria, he only let Ben think it. He did rape her though in the art studio, claiming she "led him on".
    • Derek seduces Meg by pretending to be Ben, essentially raping HER as well. Even worse, he forces Ben to watch through a two-way mirror. Pretty skeezy, your brother's watching you getting on...
    • This is a reversal of a plot that occurred in the show's first year, when Meg broke into Ben's house and dressed up as his dead wife Maria, and later had sex with him after he'd suffered a serious brain injury and believed he was with Maria. Although Meg knew Ben was delusional and believed she was Maria, she decided to go through with sex with him anyway. When Ben discovered weeks later that he had slept with Meg, he was not upset, only unhappy she was so upset he didn't realize they'd slept together.
  • Being Evil Sucks:
    • By season 3, Annie is disheartened and worn out from the villain biz.
    • When all's said and done, all Gregory wants is to hold his family together, which makes him one of the more tragic characters because he simply cannot see how all the horrible things he does prevents that.
  • Best Served Cold:
    • Gregory roasts Annie over a spit for one torturous month before finally revealing that he knows about Trey's kidnapping. The "Mr. Blackmailer" routine is a way of getting answers, all the dirt Gregory needs to wind the clock back a year: Caitlin, Olivia, and Trey are back under his roof. They've been free of his control too long. [[spoiler:Gregory also wants revenge for Gregory Junior's supposed death. Gregory can't think of a better revenge on Cole than stealing the son that he and Olivia created, "the son that should have been mine", and raise him as his own.
    • Annie pinning Gregory dead to rights on murder, then kicking him right in the junk!
      "That was better than any lovemaking we ever had!"
    • Derek's outrageous plan to discredit Ben, drive him to despair, then seize his riches.
    • "Mysterious benefactor" is funding the charity cruise, but who is he? Antonio doesn't know who's organizing it but will gladly take their money. This is actually Cole's ex mentor, who wants to ruin him.
    • Finally Annie gets a taste of her own lies and schemes when Olivia pretends to befriend her only to rub Gregory's prenuptial agreement in her face. She got exactly what she deserves and more. Olivia couldn't have said it better, who could love a creature like "It".
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • For Ben, Meg was the Betty and interchangeably Annie/Maria were his Veronicas. For Meg, Ben was her Veronica and Tim was her Betty.
    • Amy and Emily. Amy is the gold digger superficial blonde, Emily is the spunky brunette who trained with Sean at the lifeguard program.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Father Fit (Antonio) is sexy when he's angry.
    • Casey, the asskicking best man. He ejects Annie/Tim and then threatens to tie them up if they show their faces in the chapel again, "house of the Lord or not!"
    • Casey lobs Tim out of Surf Central when he catches him jawing with his girl. Tim nearly leaves earth.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Olivia predicts that Annie plans to "take over Sunset beach" with Gregory's money. She gloats that Annie doesn't know that Gregory's will cuts her out entirely.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Ricardo thinks Ben should remain faithful to Maria even in death (and stay true to her once she reappears). He is not happy with Ben remarrying in the same church, or with Antonio for performing the ceremony.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Tim falls from the scaffold in instant-replay, complete with cuts and slow-motion repeats of "NOOOOO (drumroll), NOOOOOOO (drumroll), nooooo (drumroll), noooooo...."
    • Carmen watching her son's illicit sex tape. "ANTONIO! POR QUE!"
    • Later repeated with Ricardo seeing the tape.
      • In sickbed, Ricardo screams NO and immediately starts choking bitches. In his dream that is.
    • Annie gets tossed into a jail cell with an orange jumpsuit and ankle ball in one fantasy.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family:
    Cole: You know, Sean, have you ever noticed that it's an unspoken rule in this house that nobody is allowed to be happy?
    • The Richards family is a very confused, unhappy, lying family. If Caitlin were give up Trey to her parents that kid's life will be ruined before it starts. They are horrible at raising children. Gregory has quite a sorry domestic situation, to say the least. He doesn't really get along with his kids. He doesn't trust his wife. It's really sad to think that Gregory keeps having kids in the hope that ONE won't hate him.
      Olivia: All I'll ever ask of him is to let me love him. I will accept all of his flaws and you will never be able to do that, you see, you can't. You can't do it. It is not in you Gregory.
    • Annie quickly regrets installing herself in the Richards mansion, especially during the Vargas murder case.
      Annie: (Of course they'll try to blame me! I live in a house of barracudas.)
    • Gregory tries to make the best of it at Christmastime, inviting the whole family to dinner and leading a toast. "Even resisting the urge to strangle Cole with my bare hands..." Now that is the definition of self-sacrifice. And to all a Merry Christmas.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Virginia is a demon in disguise. She pretends to bury the hatchet with Vanessa in order to set her up with an OBGYN who has been bought off by Virginia herself.
    • Tess is the most sickeningly-sweet person. m. Cue another Stopped Clock remark from Annie:
      Annie: She's too nice. And people like that, you can't trust them.
    • It's explicitly revealed that Tess is manipulating Tim. She's pleasantly surprised to have "lovestruck" Tim doing the "dirty work" she can't be caught doing.
    • Parodied in Annie's dreams. Francesca shows up on Jerry Springer wearing a beauty pageant dress, a tiara, and carrying a black rose.
  • Blackmail:
    • Francesca orders Gabi to steal evidence from the police locker (specifically the 200 Gs embezzled from Gregory's development company) and give it to her. Otherwise she'll leak the sex tape.
    • Gabi faints at the altar after Carmen ruffles and taps her envelope suggestively.
    • Gregory's 'campaign contribution' to a philandering politician in order to secure an alibi for Olivia. Smoothly executed.
    • Annie offers to disappear if Olivia pays her off — a "mutually acceptable price". Otherwise she goes to tabloids with her Colivia story, and collects the money another way. Annie then probes her most vulnerable spot, Trey.
  • Bland-Name Product: Ah the inevitable 90s Viagra episode. "Niagra"?
  • Bond Villain Stupidity:
    • "I'm getting bored of your melodramatic delays." Ben-1, Derek-Nil.
    • There is a partial excuse given for Derek's inaction. He needs Ben alive to glean the location of his assets, passwords, and the odd memory in case someone asks a question about their past. ("What good is my life without my money?")
    • Gregory falls prey to this.
      Gregory: You see, Francesca, it's the one that's holding the Gun that gets to do all the talking; those are the rules.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Bette over the course of this series. She's reduced to tears on a few occasions.
    • Vanessa watching her whole world crumble in just a few weeks. Virginia made sure of that.
    • Antonio is almost relieved after he and Gabi have sex, having gotten it all out of their systems. Now the real torture begins.
  • Briefcase Full of Money:
    • Vanessa's suitcase of proofs on the South Central money launderers.
    • The Deschanel Jewels were squirreled away in Del's suitcase for a rainy day.
    • Annie's blackmail payoff suitcase. Caitlin beats a mugger over the head with it like she's in WWE.
  • Busman's Holiday: The charity cruise, all to raise donations for Antonio's old mission in Mexico. Casey talks Sara into attending on a lark, because she deserves a break from the paparazzi.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Oh, Annie. Pobrecita! as Carmen would say.
    • Poor Ben, shuffled from one delusional, melodramatic kidnapper to another, under constant threat of death from an evil twin who appears to be some kind of failed magician (with his knowledge of two way mirrors, holograms, disguises and misdirection). Living in a town where there's only one police officer, who already has it in for you for killing his sister.

    C 
  • Cain and Abel:
    • Ben and Derek. Derek's only aim in life is to ruin his brother's. Ben thought Derek was drowned along with Maria in the boat accident. The headaches Ben kept getting were a sign that Derek was back in town.
    • In season three, Ricardo attempts to stage his own "murder" and let Antonio take the fall for it. He succeeds, but eventually he confesses to the police once he realizes just how evil he's becoming.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • About the most exciting thing to happen to Randy Spelling (Sean) over the course of the show was an assassin mistaking him for Cole and garroting him—not fatally, though. This was the final break with his father, who hired the hit.
    • After Gregory falls to his apparent death at sea, Sean is shaken and confides to Emily that he hated his father yet loved him, even though Gregory wasn't worthy of being loved by anybody.
    • Cole has pent-up anger at his dad for dumping Elaine and never even keeping in touch. He still addresses his father as "AJ".
  • The Cameo:
    • "J. Peterman" himself, John O'Hurley, as the smarmy host of Wheel of Misfortune, a death panel dressed up as a quiz show in Annie's dream.
    • In two other fantasies, Annie and her rogues gallery are invited onto the Leeza Gibbons show and, later, Jerry Springer. Waking up with a fright, Annie is greeted at the door by Jerry (for real) who introduces himself as a census-taker right before she decks him.
    • Micheal's personal trainer at the spa is BILLY BLANKS. Truly timeless storytelling. The Tae-Bo guy!
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Paul was a old flame of Annie's during her six week stint in law school. Seems she spent more time banging Paul than studying. She gets a rude awakening when Paul, now a successful attorney, informs her that she is still an accessory to kidnapping—even if she uncovered the truth about the fake paternity test—because she didn't speak out about it sooner.
    "I must have missed that chapter."
  • Captain Ersatz:
  • Card-Carrying Villain:
    • Annie never rests.
      Meg: GO TO HELL!
      Annie: [shrugs] Yeah, probably.
    • In one episode, we open on Virginia reading Sun Tzu's The Art of War ("Remember, small victories accumulate...") Sun Tzu. Sun freaking Tzu.
  • Casanova Wannabe:
    • Tim Truman can be sweet when he's not being a slimy slug. He seems to genuinely care about the first Caitlin Richards (during his stint as their limo driver), and he's the only person in SB who gives Tess a fair shake. ("Seattle's loss is my gain.")
    • Annie can't GIVE it away. She keeps ramping up her single-entendres each time Gregory turns her down. Get a clue woman, the loins sleep tonight.
  • Catapult Nightmare:
    • Annie dreaming about being killed on a bi-nightly basis.
    • The return of Seaweed Gregory! Unlike the one from Annie's fantasy, this one is a zombie. He greets Caitlin at the door in a horrifying POV shot, right before she screams herself awake.
  • Catchphrase: ".....WHEN HELL FREEZES OVER!" Classic SB line. They must use it at least 3 times throughout the series, always spoken by a Richards, too.
    • Bette: "I hear those wheels turning/hell-o/poopsie/knock knock/bingo/puhleeeze"
    • Voodoo Lady: "Virgeena eez bad to zee bone."
    • Derek's "brother, dear".
    • Carmen: "¡Ay Dios mia!"
  • Chair Reveal:
    • Gregory Richards, the pit boss of South Central.
      • Apart from his crooked development deals, the tycoon is working with an "advocate for low-income housing" to launder money though his slums. This was revealed in a bonkers scene of Gregory spinning in his chair like Dr. Claw with a scotch glass in one hand, about to pass judgement on a terrified hoodlum.
    • In S.2. Michael boots out the evil OBGYN and takes his spot behind the desk. He spins in his chair—with hands folded, no less—when Virginia comes stomping through the door.
    • Cole spends two minutes jawing at a rocking chair with its back to him. He doesn't check that it's Caitlin, not Olivia, who is brooding in the nursery before spilling his guts about his affair.
  • The Chessmaster;
    • Viewers would often spot Gregory fuzzy and in the background, silently observing events play out. The way he sold the polygraph to Gabi was amazing; what a master manipulator.
    • At the hospital, Annie immediately tries to insinuate that A.J. shot Francesca, hoping to throw suspicion off herself. Gregory smiles like a crocodile. He pretends he only just learned about the shooting himself, and cuddles Catilin while alone. Very eerie in hindsight.
    • When threats don't work, Virginia tries to befriend Vanessa in order to get close enough to inseminate her. Once Michael finds out Tyrus is Baby Daddy, she verbally abuses Vanessa to speed up the break up and get her to call off the engagement. Then Virginia convinces Vanessa to put her baby up to adoption? Virginia's got some cheek: insisting to Vanessa that Michael doesn't want to bring up another man's baby when she wants him to be a father to Jimmy.
    • Derek's revenge. Maria was estranged from Ben and fled to Seattle to deliver Benjy, according to Tess. When Maria left to reunite with Ben, Tess took care of Benji and had faith that one day Maria would return for her son. She learned about Maria's coma (caused by a car accident at Dana Point) and later recovers in a psychiatric journal. She guilt-trips Maria that Benji needs his mother AND father. Tim stumbles onto the truth but foolishly tries to blackmail Tess and keep the money from himself, just as she predicted he would.
  • Children Are a Waste: The Richards family is sickening. They use their children as Chess pieces and weapons.
  • Christmas Miracle:
    • Antonio and Cole manage to re-assemble the Rosario statue by January 1st with seconds to spare. It's a Christmas miracle! Marta Hernandez is cured from illness! It's snowing outside! In California! Charles Dickens ain't got shit on this.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
    • Eddie can't decide whose side he's on, he just turns up every few weeks to twirl his mustache.
    • Annie just enjoys winding people up. Antagonize the cop in charge of the Vargas case, then whine about becoming the lead suspect?
      • Even in her talk show fantasy, Annie throws AJ under the bus, despite their earlier agreement to pin Fran's murder on Gregory. In retaliation, A.J. immediately switches sides, and Annie gets the chair.
    • Cole's not so stupid. After Annie digs up the surveillance footage of Olivia holding Fran at gunpoint, she proposes selling the footage to the tabloids for millions. Cole puts a damper on that idea, and also double-checks to see if Annie erased any files on the hard drive implicating Gregory. Good thing there's a backup drive she overlooked.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Leo, who?
    • Virginia tried to skip town with Jimmie after she was found out by Michael, but Michael caught him at the bus station while he was buying them tickets to Oregon. Jimmie is eventually sent away while Michael keeps him in the dark about Virginia being sent to an asylum.
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: Francesca. After she died, Annie borrowed her shtick by enlisting Cole's help to crack Gregory's safes (she couldn't do it herself).
  • Classically Trained Extra:
    • Sam Behrens as Gregory. He took that character and elevated it so high above the quality of the writing. He lends a degree of sanity to the proceedings that the more extroverted Richards don’t, i.e. he avoids making you laugh when you shouldn’t.
    • Him and Lesley-Anne Down... both good actors, but by some weird coincidence, their children are portrayed by the two of the worst actors on the show. Certainly the guy playing Sean only got the gig because of nepotism.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The jewels taken from the Rosario Madonna statue. Olivia tries to get rid of them the airport, but they just reappear in her hand.
  • Clip Show:
    • Jerry Springer presents: Murderer For A Day. (Hey, it's archive footage of Vanessa Dorman!) Annie wasn't even present for some of these flashbacks. There are things in Annie's dream that she didn't know about — ahh, the fab continuity of SB.
    • NBC aired a special episode during the Wimbledon tournament which preempted them. The gimmick is that it's a local TV news story, with Bette and Vanessa as anchors:
      1. Francesca's watermark reads: FRANCESCA VARGAS — Cat Burglar & Murder Victim
      2. Five's Company: The byline for the Evans house.
      3. MEG CUMMINGS — Lame Duck Fiancee
      4. The newcast is later revealed to be a Bette dream sequence... though it's doubtful she witnessed all of that, such as Gregory surviving his near-deadly fall.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes:
    • Ben has been obsessed with the memory of his dead wife for four years. And yet here he is playing grief counselor.
    • Wannabe cyrano Aunt Bette. Gregory bought a new whole house just so he wouldn't have to sleep in the same bed where Olivia and Del made whoopee, and now here comes Del's sister lecturing him about romance matters.
  • Complexity Addiction:
    • Gregory's revenge schemes are more than a little convoluted.
    • Virginia is not to be explained; she cannot be rationalized at all. You'll never look at a turkey baster the same again.
    • So Caitlin isn't going to tell Cole about the miscarriage, instead she's going to get pregnant again very quickly.
    • Then there is the business of the Rosario jewels. Cole is already being blackmailed by Vargas: he doesn't need extra incentive to lift the jewels. If Olivia wore the necklace at the party, Cole would swallow the bait no problem. Olivia had the rubies in her possession, so why not skip the nonsense with planting them on Annie and then donating them to a museum?
  • Confessional:
    • Antonio has to hear all of Cole's and later Annie's sins. His face is priceless.
    • Wicked Francesca goes to Antonio's parish and greets him with a "Bless you" instead of "Bless Me". It's framed in the camera so that we can't tell who's confessing to who.
  • Consummate Liar: These people lie so much they can lie at a drop of a hat. They have got it down to an art.
    • Annie admits that "old habits die hard." She can't even apologize to Bette without an angle.
    • Gregory is as good as one would suspect, spinning his web with a reptilian gleam in his eye.
  • Convenient Coma:
    • Tim after Derek smothers him. He awakens, but Tim can't communicate who the killer is, even non-verbally, without risking his life and Meg's.
    • Dana/Maria does not know what "an internet" is.
  • Convenient Miscarriage:
    • Greg says that he and Olivia used to dance outside her balcony, every night, before Cait (their second child) was born. "Everything changed" when Olivia miscarried. He kept waiting every night under the balcony, but "she never came." That's when it all started. Trivia: Gregory Jr. came after Caitlin and before Sean.
    • Meet Cole, the world's most virile man. He beds a mother and her daughter and, by miraculous coincidence, impregnates them both at the same time. Caitlin's baby dies in an accident, and Olivia is dosed with amnesia serum just after delivering Trey.
    • At the end of S.2, Virginia's attack has caused Vannesa to miscarry.
  • Coolest Club Ever:
    • The Deep. Forget Terror Island, the background dancers here are the real horror. The Kansas bar (The Buckeroo) is much more fun than The Deep.
    • The impression is that The Deep only plays aerobics music. SB exists in a world where couples "request" elevator jazz to dance to? Wei Li requests some muzak as "our song".
  • Cosmic Plaything:
    • Virginia's evil is hinted to have caused the quake.
    • Lampshaded here:
      Sara: Makes you wonder if there isn't really someone out there controlling our lives.
      Casey: Yeah someone who enjoys putting us in these crazy situations and watching us find our way out of it.
    • An earthquake interrupts the rehearsal dinner before Carmen can play the sex tape in front of everyone; the commotion causes the TV to short out for good. Carmen is nuttier than squirrel shit in this sequence. ("DOS MIA IT'S A SIIIIGN!")
  • Cranky Landlord:
    Gregory: Oh, by the way: that check for this month's mortgage, pay it out to my wife.
    Bette: How do you spell "Slut", two T's or one?
    Gregory: (chuckles on his way out the door)
    • Gregory has Cole mugged to deprive him of his money, then bribes every realtor in town not to sell to Cole and make him move in with Gregory instead.
    • Olivia gets the beach house in the divorce, making her Annie's new landlord. She kicks Annie out in order to turn her bedroom into a nursery.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy:
    • Gregory is a changed man after Cole knocks knocks up his wife.
    • Olivia says that the image of Colivia is driving Gregory to do terrible things and slowly making him crazy. She's right, Gregory is shown having nightmares of Cole/Olivia in bed and laughing at him.
    • Francesca's husband, Phillip. Phillip knew Cole would be on the cruise ship, but his wife was kept in the dark. Phillip's steamed over the fact that she's hung up Cole.
      Fran: Let it go.
      Phillip: When you do, darling.
    • Ricardo crying Poor Ricardo, he doesn't deserve that. When he sees the sex tape and collapses from stress, he falls into a catatonic nightmare would where he watches helplessly at Antonio/Gabi carrying on together and making taunting him to die so Antonio can have her for himself. More Ricardo nightmares: showing up to his wedding to find Gabi (in her dress) carrying on with the padre at the altar. Ricardo certainty has an over active imagination.
    • Ricardo semiconciously throttling Gabi with one hand. Tyrus runs in and pries him loose. Tyrus claims it's "an involuntarily reflex."
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • Are we to understand Gregory keeps fake "thank you" cards on his person in case he gets caught delivering flowers to his mistress?
    • Gregory's video will. Gregory anticipates that Annie will try selling the library he erected in her name. But if she tries, it reverts to a state-owned trust. "So you see Annie, you're not gonna make a dime from me." Olivia doubles over laughing while AJ tents his fingers and smiles.
    • Expert-level mindfuckery from Gregory. Gregory pretends to talk to the "blackmailer", but it's only a cassette tape of his own voice playing into a receiver on the other line.
    • After her eviction, Annie busts into the Richards' safe yet again. It hasn't been emptied yet. But it is full of red dye packs that explode in her face, covering her white pantsuit in paint.
      Olivia: Well, I guess this is what is meant by being caught red-handed.
  • Crying Wolf:
    • The only witness to the killings on "Terror Island" is Tim, whose prior schemes have been exposed for all to see. His desperate, wild accusations of murder are dismissed as sour grapes.
    • Annie is tipped off that Francesca is planning to abduct Trey to blackmail Cole into leaving town with her. Nobody believes Annie, and Cole tells her to stay away from them. Meanwhile Fran cat-burgles her way into the nursery and scoops up Trey. Nobody believes Annie when she's received a death threat, either.
      Annie: What do I have to do? Get myself KILLED for anyone to believe I'm innocent?
  • Cute and Psycho: Diane the mortician.

    D-M 
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Del and Annie Douglas. Time for another confab in Hell. He shovels coal while complimenting Annie on her progress and working her like a football coach.
    Del: Come down and see me now, y'here darlin'?
    • Bette laments that Annie took the worst characteristics from her and Del. The belief that "money solves everything" and the gold diggery.
    • "Grandpa Vargas" taught Francesca that to "plan your work, then work your plan."
  • Damsel in Distress: So, every man has tried to save Meg at some point or another. Meg is about as useful as play-doh in a life and death situation.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Antonio used to work a Mexican parish, but got drummed out. Phillip explains that he used Francesca to seduce the Padre while he lifted the Madonna statue from under his nose.
    • Ben was protecting Maria's honor. He didn't tell anyone what happened on the boat: that Maria slept with Derek, or that she stabbed and "killed" him (supposedly) on the boat. Ricardo later admits he needed closure, someone to blame.
    • Ben is supposed to be a Man of Mystery but his past behavior is questionable. "My wife and I were estranged for nine months exactly and I never used my money or connections to find out where she was. Also I have an identical twin who tried to kill us both but that's nobody's business because my wife saw him naked."
  • Dartboard of Hate: Bette has a dartboard with a head shot of Gregory. She encourages Olivia and AJ to let off steam. Olivia is hesitant to throw darts at Gregory's eye sockets, so AJ neatly places a glossy of Annie over Greg's photo.
  • Dead Man's Chest: Annie's friend Tim gets stuffed into a chest temporarily after being murdered, before finally being buried in cement.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: All the suspects (minus Caitlin) are tricked into believing that Francesca somehow survived her attack. Olivia recieves a threatening letter doused with Fran's perfume and forged in her handwriting. Annie wears a Francesca style catsuit (framed to fool the viewer) and plants additional "calling cards" around the beach house and hospital.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Gregory is a master.
    Gregory: (post-earthquake) Nope, just the usual cuts and scratches that accompany a freeway falling on you.
    • And Bette. "Don't look at me in that tone of voice." Great line.
    • Olivia had her moments.
      Olivia: It seems these two are the club's payphone usage committee.
      Annie: I have it under control.
      Olivia: (scoffs) We're all doomed.
    • A.J.
      Annie: A.J., why is that every time I'm around you think I'm up to something? I was merely telling Olivia how happy I was that Trey was so healthy after the transfusion. Is there something wrong with that? is that so hard to believe?
      AJ: No. No harder than the Easter Bunny.
    • And this:
      Tim: Look, we both want the same thing here.
      Sara: Really? You want Casey to be your boyfriend, too?
    • Nice moment from Ricardo while investigate Fran's shooting:
      Annie: My cooperation ends here.
      Ricardo: I must have missed the part where it began.
    • And:
      D.A. Steele: So! You have new information for me on the Vargas case?
      Sean: Yes. My sister did not kill her.
      Steele: You don't say. Well, I have to rush down to the holding cell and release her.
  • Death as Comedy: Francesca, supposedly a smart cookie, gets shot, but she doesn't know how badly. Instead of reaching for the hotel phone to call reception and the paramedics, she proceeds to leave her room and gets tangled up with a bunch of inebriated twats who fail to notice the red stuff she's sporting.
    • Fran escapes the elevator, but gets nabbed by Russel Meeks the nerd (yes, the nerd from the paternity lab) who assumes she's the stripper he hired for his grandpa's birthday. He thinks she's "hammered" because she still reeks of the elevator crowd, but he carts her off anyway. A scene later, Fran pops out in cake in the hotel bar where all the suspects coincidentally gather. Francesca points at the huddled suspects and croaks "YOU" before passing out.
    • Fran's ghost stands over her gurney and bitches about the staff not resuscitating her yet. She has a LOT of payback to enact on a LOT of people and she needs to get cracking.
      Fran: "Lose me"?! You cannot lose me! If you do I will haunt you FOREVER.
    • Seaweed Gregory. Annie fantasizes about Gregory popping up in the house while still soaking wet and covered in gunge. All he's missing is a few starfish clinging to his head.
  • Death Cry Echo: The hitman groans like King Kong when Cole sends him hurtling off a cliff.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • Gregory offering to representing you pro bono.
    • Also, his pre-nuptial agreement.
    • Annie roped both of the Richards kids into helping her seduce Gregory. When Sean realizes he's been duped, Annie starts to get in his grill about "his righteous attitude" and claims he's liable for whatever happens next.
    • Olivia was paid ten grand to steal Cole, and Bette's husband received a grant to keep his hospital in business. It's a monkey's paw, the deal with Del: Bette is widowed and broke, and Olivia is trapped in a loveless marriage.
    • Tim is such a penis. He falls back on his boy next door act, convincing Sara to help him split up Meg and Ben. Except Tim then uses her cooperation as blackmail to pressure her into further crimes. "Sara, sweetheart... you sold your soul to me, remember that?"
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Annie and Tim in the pickup truck.
  • Dinner and a Show:
    • Elaine and Gregory with their respective kids.
    • Any scene at Grenedine's.
      Greg: Oh, great, there we go again. Why is that Olivia and her Don Juan always have to find a way to eat at the same places I do?
  • Dirty Cop:
    • Eddie. One minute he's sleeping with another man's wife, then assembling blackmail photos on same, threatening to make someone his prison bitch, lifting evidence from a murder scene, setting up a stalker nest in the basement of his co-worker's house, and closes the day by hiring an ex-con to abduct somebody. And then he's promoted to Detective for his service to the community.
    • Following the resort bombing, Ricardo is shown going through Fran's old tape collection. Gabi pinches the tapes before he can come across the X-rated one. She also steals impounded cash and a gun to keep Francesca silent on the matter.
    • Ricardo, once he's gone mental. He fakes his death and almost sends his brother and wife to prison for life.
  • Dirty Harriet:
    • Annie lampshades it when Francesca is shot: this is just like one of those novels where everyone gathers in the conservatory. She struts around the hospital, chirping "It's elementary" m,and "where where you on the night in question?"
    • AJ enlists Gabi as an informant at the Liberty Corporation. Ricardo is her supervisor on this matter. She poses as AJ's secretary while cracking computers.
  • Distressed Dude: Anyone else want to kidnap Ben? Hurry up reserve your place on the list, it's getting long.
  • Does Not Like Men: Elaine is a misandrist, and Bette is halfway there.
  • The Dragon: Jo Jo, Eddie, and Tim Truman, (semi)loyal employees of Gregory Richards.
  • Dream Sequence: Often provided by Annie, but also a slew of other characters as well. Sometimes these would segue into flashback scenes. About two-thirds of the way through the show, however, the surreal scenes mostly disappear, as they didn't mesh with the tone of the storylines.
  • Dogged Nice Guy:
    • Casey. He does get his girl in the finale, though.
    • Tyus is awesome. He is not a tofu-brained surf bum who can never make up his mind, but simply a good friend.
  • Drama Queen:
    • Annie's dreams often include a riv or teo at LAD's expense, particularly her hand-on-forehead style of acting. Liv, baby, it's Sunset Beach not Sunset Boulevard. "The world's a stage, us merely players...." How melodramatic can you get?
    • You can always spot an Olivia dream sequence by the way she and Gregory are both screaming in it — even her dreams are melodramatic.
      Gregory: And that is why I never go to the theatre. I have all the drama I need right here.
    • Of course Bette can't say "Listen up everyone I'm Emily's mom", she has to give a stagey monologue and kvetch about giving labor...
    • Annie responds to losing all of her Liberty Corporation stock by threatening to jump from the top floor of the Richards mansion. She teeters out the window ledge like a gymnast on a balance beam while Olivia eggs her on. Gregory, under duress, at last agrees to rip up his prenuptial agreement and return her stock. Annie, sniffling, agrees to come back inside, and Olivia groans and slams her window in disgust—startling Annie and causing her to fall anyway. Fortunately, Annie had a safety harness on the entire time. Gregory facepalms.
  • Dramatic Unmask:
    • Once LAD's real-life maternity has ended, we cut to Olivia apparently living in a shojo manga now, attending a costume ball at sea with A.J. who is dressed in a tuxedo and face mask.
    • Ben's lookalike, Derek, as the island slasher.
    • Evil voice modulator guy. Gregory laments that he loves seeing Annie "twisting in the wind" but that he has quite a special day planned for Trey's first Christmas: he gets all dressed up, escorts Annie to the scene of the crime (Trey's nursery), plays an incriminating tape of Annie and shuts down any avenue of escape. This is a trial. Of course Annie lamely tries to wriggle out of it and claim it's all some "psychotic's sick joke."
      "Annie, you have no idea how psychotic... (into voice modulator) or how sick."
  • Dull Surprise:
    • Look, Kam Heskin just can't act. It's like getting blood out of a stone. She can't even stare down a gun convincingly. And don't get us started on her phone conversations with the blackmailer.
      John Darvill (Channel 5 Presenter): I know who that was. That was the voice of Aaron Spelling there, blackmailing our "Bimby" over how she got her job on SB. Her casting has to be one of the most intriguing, bizarre thing we've ever witnessed on this program to date.
    • Someone ought to have lassoed the SB munchkins (Leo, Amy, Sean, Brad, Emily), stuffed them in a box and fired it into the sun.
    • Kam Heskin is as wooden as the child actor playing her in the past. The driftwood on the beach out-acted her.
  • Dumb Blonde:
    • Amy Nielsen (originally Dreyer) is a collection of awful, Valley Girl stereotypes. While applying for a waitress job, Amy has to "take down notes" when Hank instructs her on how to serve food. She takes his advice too literally (turn around and then go clockwise), trips and smashes all of her dishes on her first try.
      Olivia: You really are quite dense, you know?
    • Caitlin, dressed as Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, testifies on Francesca's behalf on the set of Springer in a dream.
    • This has a grain of truth, as Annie is constantly being tripped up by Caitlin. When Annie plants the murder weapon in Cole's hotel suite, Cailtin arrives and gets busted in his stead. Cue horror as Annie realizes she just got Gregory's daughter arrested. "She's always doing something to screw me up!"
  • Dying Clue: Mummy Bernie scrawling out "ROSARIO" onto a memo.
  • Dying Declaration of Love:
  • Dysfunction Junction: Gabi wedding #2. This church has a lock on dysfunction: The Cummings and Evans are at each others' throats, the Torres are fighting, and Sean is at loggerheads with his girlfriend.
  • Easy Amnesia: Rae injecting an "amnesia drug" into a hitman after Casey subdues him; Annie's voodoo; Maria's boating accident.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Olivia is introduced at poolside in complete ennui. She idly points her diamond ring at an insect to see if it will fly away from the beam or sizzle to death. Gregory comes out and swats it with his Wall Street Journal. Their relationship in ovo.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Virginia's son needs a father, and Virginia needs a man like Michael. She won't let a little thing like Michael being off the market get in her way.
    • Gregory is an extremely moral-free man, but he does love his family. Unfortunately he can't express it in anything approaching a healthy way.
    • After Jude sells him up the river, he nearly slips through the police net a second time, but is talked down by Olivia who points out that he'd rather see his kids again, even if it's from behind prison bars.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Leave it to Spike to out-perform the entire SFPD.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Eddie, Del, and Derek.
  • Fair Cop: Ricardo, Paula, Eddie, the entire S.B.P.D. Later joined by Jude the undercover FBI agent.
  • Faking the Dead: Used liberally. It's a soap opera, people.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: The "Shockwave" storyline. After Olivia is pinned by some falling debris, both she and Annie are nearly crushed beneath a chandelier as the latter tries to pry her loose.
  • Feuding Families: The overarching plot of SB seems to be a clash between the Deschanels, who founded Sunset Beach, and the Richards, who have spread like a cancer and corrupted it. A.J. and Gregory both hold stock in the Liberty Corporation, which owns much of the beach, and each side is looking to oust the other.
  • Flash Back: Used frequently to avoid Continuity Lockout. It's rare for an episode to not flash back at least once: Tim's vendetta is propelled by Mark's final words to him; young Olivia unwittingly becomes an accessory to kidnapping, thus providing a motive for Del's murder; Annie's convoluted plot to steal Trey and erase Olivia's memories needs some backstory. The list goes on.
  • Gentleman Thief:
    • The entire Deschanel family, it seems.
    • Phillip works in "investments" with a "collector's" interest in jewelry and art, no doubt why he's on the casino ship.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Meg's fiance cheats on her? He's a bastard. She's technically cheats on him? (She was in an online relationship with Ben). It's the beginning of the show's Super Couple.
  • Good Counterpart:
    • A.J. is the suave silver fox to Gregory's possessive sugar daddy. The show made gestures at turning A.J. heel, but it never stuck.
    • Meg is this to ex-fiancee Tim: a corn-spun tourist who finds work with a handsome millionaire after an embarrassing accident at the pier. Tim gets rear-ended by a drunk Olivia in traffic, then leverages his injury to go work for Gregory as his chauffeur cum informant.
  • His Name Is...: Once Tim realizes he's been had by Derek, he makes for Surf Central to warn Meg, but it intercepted and brutally killed. This is a replay of what happened to Mark on the island.
  • Hollywood Dateless:
    • Casey is a Herculean swimmer who is still considered poor trash by the affluent people in town. Rae ends up dumping him for an extremely rich Japanese businessman.
    • Sara suffers from being in her sister's shadow. Her love life in Washington was front-page news but as soon as she moves to Sunset Beach, no one gives her the time of day.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Annie requests, in order, an amnesia serum, a love potion, and finally an intoxicant from Mrs. Moreau. Another repeat customer, Virginia, requests a salve which mimics a grotesque skin disorder. Gregory later darkens the poor woman's door.
  • Hospital Hottie: Rae.
  • Hot Men at Work: Everyone, but the lifeguards are impossibly ripped.
  • Ice Queen:
    • Rae.
    • Elaine was treated badly by Cole's father, A.J., and came away with a distaste for all men. She is open in her lack of regard for her daughter's fiancee, Ricardo, and advises Paula to keeper her options open.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Tim is, without a doubt, the most ineffectual adversary this show produced. He's catapulted into an anti-hero or everyman role in the wake of Terror Island, doggedly trying to bring Ben to justice. Annie grudgingly reformed over time, too.
  • It's a Small Net After All: Really faulty email service they had back in the 90's, where anyone anywhere could use someone else's username without a password.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Elaine caught onto the fact that Del had stolen her infant son, Cole, and declared him dead. She killed him in revenge. When prison doors began to, creakily, open, Gregory got her off and she fled SB with little fanfare.
    • Annie is more pitiable than anything, but she manages to talk her way out of an astounding amount of trouble. Despite causing the majority of the problems on the show, she never gets punished aside from being mistrusted.
    • Annie hopped aboard the Moral Event Horizon Express by ripping Trey out of his mother's womb and telling everyone he died. It's arguably the worst crime committed by anyone on the show, short of fishhook murder. Here it's shrugged off as, stuff happens.
    • Gabi falsely accuses Ricardo of rape after they have consensual sex (and already, we've waded into questionable territory), sows discord between him and her sister Paula, and escapes justice by revealing it was just misplaced childhood abuse. Ricardo and Paula are still splitsville, so Laura Harring leaves the show while Gabi sticks around to the end...before leaping from Ricardo's arms into his brother's bed, causing Ricardo to suffer a stroke and almost die. A similar storyline played out happened with Sami Brady and her goody-two-shoes sister over on Days. Sami emerged triumphant from the love triangle while Carrie Brady left town for a few years, simply because she was not as interesting.
  • Latin Lover: Take your pick; there's Cole the professional burglar, Ricardo the policeman and his brother Antonio the priest.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Virgina. Sara and Gabi were afflicted for a little while.
  • Love Triangle: Several as part of the running side-plots.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Derek and Tess for Benjy, Elaine for Cole.
  • Masochism Tango: On some level, Gregory and Olivia deserve each other. Even after a series of affairs, breakups, hasty reconciliations, an FBI sting and Gregory getting sent to the big house, they end up where they began.
  • Masquerade Ball:
    • Valentine's Day at The Deep. Mark dresses up as Elvis.
    • Olivia's cruise.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: Par for the course in a soap opera.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Much trading back and forth of Trey Deschanel, conceived by Cole and Olivia and declared dead upon delivery. Actually, Annie stole the baby and handed it off to Caitlin, who miscarried after a car accident and didn't tell anyone. Caitlin was unaware of Trey's parentage and let Cole think that they were having a son together. (Making this something of a zig-zag; Gregory believes he lost a son when he didn't, and Cole correctly assumes Trey is his, but is kept in the dark about his other dead child. Also inverted in that it wasn't Caitlin's baby but Olivia's.) Even after Gregory catches on to what happened, he still believes that Trey is his.
  • Money Fetish: Del shagging a married woman, in her husband's bed, on top cursed pirate gold.
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Casey is almost always seen shirtless or, if he is wearing a shirt, it will be completely unbuttoned.
    • Most every male. Special mention goes to Cole Deschanel as played by Eddie Cibrian.

    N-Z 
  • No-One Could Have Survived That:
    • Derek is harder to kill than a cockroach.
    • After repeated attempts to give Cole his dirt nap fail, Gregory takes matters into his own fists. He gets walloped off a lifeguard tower and into the Pacific for his trouble. Now a wanted man, he lets everyone assume he died on the rocks so he can worm his way back into the Richards house.
  • Not So Different:
    • Annie grumbles something to this effect to Meg before her wedding. Then she walks over to the next room and says the same to Olivia.
    • She and Olivia started out from the same state of play: as nurses. Olivia was the one who stole Cole from his bassinet and handed him off to Del Douglas; Annie took Trey fresh from the womb and handed him off to Caitlin. Annie home-wrecks her way into the Richard house; Olivia slept with Annie's father. Annie openly covets Olivia's fortune; Olivia smugly anticipateS her rival descending into loneliness and drink just as she did. Neither one is entirely good or bad, and they make a good tag team in the end.
  • Off to See the Wizard:
    • "Dorothy" is the pseudonym used by Meg on her dating profile, most likely because they're both from Kansas.
    • "Wicked Witch" Olivia being melted...with vodka.
    • Meg's ending is a kiss to the MGM movie.
  • Out of Focus: Vanessa-Michael and Meg-Ben comprise two of the show's three power couples; Meg was even the show's purported star. Both took a backseat to other concerns in Season Three. Michael's story wrapped once the men in white came for Virgina, and he and Vanessa had a sloppy Second-Act Breakup. Ben was cleared of killing his (not actually dead) wife, but none of that mattered once he was saddled with a family didn't even know about. (Not helping matters was Meg's temporary recasting with another actress, as Susan Ward had left to shoot a movie.) They do, however, get a final bow at the end when Derek resurfaces to brew more evil.
  • Pair the Spares: Annie ultimately ends up with Jude. In the final episode, Maria meets a new man her psychic mother predicted would be her true love. Bette, who probably deserved to be paired off most of all, ended the series in a quasi-courtship with A.J.: he escorted her to the Evans-Bourne nuptials, suggesting a future for them. Sara and Casey were the only ones left in the room, so they paired up.
  • Plot-Inciting Infidelity: The show kicks off with Meg leaving her fiance at the altar after learning that he's been cheating on her. She comes to California to find the man that she was in an online relationship with, meaning that she's playing this trope too.
  • Police Are Useless: Ricardo is a hilariously inept detective. This is somewhat justified, considering that he received his detective's badge in the first episode, and is still somewhat rash and inexperienced. This is commented on by Gregory in their first scene together; he's not intimidated by Ricardo in the slightest. The rest of the clown shoes S.B.P.D. has no excuse.
  • Posthumous Character: Del spent much of the show tormenting Annie from Hell. Francesca also appeared in a few vignettes after she died, mostly involving Annie.
  • Precious Puppy: Spike, the Jack Russell Terrier. He's later included in the titles! He was originally a stray doggie, but was adopted by Olivia after she railroaded his original owner, Tiffany, out of town. Later, Spike is caught nomming on Olivia's pregnancy test kit and leads her on a merry chase through the house, a prank he later ascribes to revenge.
  • Red Herring:
    • Annie and Olivia for Del's shooting. Not that Annie helps her case by publicly shouting, "I'll kill him" or "I'm way past upset — I'm postal".
    • Ben Evans is teased as a lady-killer for quite some time. It turns out that Maria really did vanish and suffer amnesia after Derek staged her death. It all but destroyed Ben's reputation, but he was never arrested or charged. Adding to Ben's problems, his crazy twin is running around California and framing him for more murders.
  • Reformed Criminal: Cole Deschanel aka "Cole St. John" used to swindle loose, rich women out of their jewels, but he's fed up with that life and wants to settle down with Caitlin. Unfortunately, he opts for one last roll in the hay with a loose rich woman.
  • Rich Bitch: Annie after marrying Gregory for money. The Richards are milder examples. Annie always imagined Olivia and Cailtin as being more shallow than they were.
  • Salt and Pepper: Casey and Micheal, lifeguards on patrol.
  • Shirtless Scene: It wouldn't be Sunset Beach without it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Casey bluffs an assassin by claiming to be a bag man for Jeff Spicoli, Sunset Beach's most feared crime boss.
    • Bette's grisly homage to Weekend at Bernie's
    • The scenes with Elaine, Bette and Olivia wearing hoods and standing around in a cemetery are a cute nod to Macbeth (three witches) and The Witches of Eastwick (blonde, brunette, redhead).
    • The black & white TV fantasy. Annie, wearing a flower-patterned dress and a bun, desperately humps Gregory's leg while begging him to love her. Annie eventually tosses the script away in disgust, storms off-set and tears her dress off, causing the world to revert to color. This is probably a nod to Pleasantville.
    • Spike wishing he could trade in the Richards for the Camdens.
    • Sara's fantasy is a direct lift from the opening to Friends. All of the characters are credited as themselves, apart from Sara, who is "Pitiful Loser."
  • Slave to PR: The Richards family, or at least Gregory, take great pains to pose as pillars of the community. Annie accuses Olivia of talking in a "fake British accent" to sound posh and make everyone forget about her low-rent origins.
  • Sleazy Politician: Congressman Jack Blair works very hard to get "the women's vote".
  • Stupid Crooks:
    • Olivia, in a rush to dispose of evidence before the police canvas her house, opens a drawer too quickly and sends a cascade of bullets rolling across the floor.
    • Annie, who drops her .38 in the middle of a crowded lobby when someone calls out her name.
  • Take It to the Bridge: The alarming tendency of characters to fall off the pier. Meg lampshades it in the finale.
  • Twerp Sweating:
    • Caitlin is dating a high-class crook of the kind Gregory usually represents in court.
    • Olivia bribing Sean's girlfriend to leave town, and later bitch-slapping his third girlfriend, Amy, after having too much to drink.
  • The Vamp:
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: There is one character in particular who is actually disturbing. Sam Behrens, who played a jailbird ex-husband on Knots Landing, gets to be creepy again here, and he puts together a carefully crafted performance of a white collar psycho. Gregory's a bit too 'real' for daytime, and doubly so in Sunset Beach. Del Douglas, on the other hand, fits in perfectly, which is probably why they bought him back as a spook. The producers apparently realized this and later turned Gregory into a cartoon, which doesn't really suit Behrens, either. (And he was outspoken in interviews about not wanting to play a pantomime villain.)
  • Villainous Incest: Gregory shares a quasi-incestuous relationship with Caitlin, because of course he does. A similar vibe is felt between Olivia and her favorite, Sean, as she works him over before a police interrogation.
  • Wedding Finale: The show closes with Vanessa's and Meg's wedding.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent:
    • Virginia as"Nurse Jones". If you need an indicator of where SB threw its hands in the air and became a pure camp, this is a good place to start.
    • Gregory impersonates his own tweedy, hitherto unknown uncle in order to divvy up his estate.
  • Younger and Hipper: The mid-season retool. The show was already skewing toward a slightly younger audience, but the central plot—a rich guy's murder being pinned on his pearl-clutching mistress—was not the sort of fresh concept Aaron Spelling was looking for. A more attractive corpse arrived in the form of Francesca, and the Richards clan became satellites to Cole and his entourage. The intro sequence was jazzed up to be less adult, and the stories became slightly more outrageous.

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