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Series / The Dick Van Dyke Show

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The Petries (from left to right): Laura, Rob, Richie.

"The Dick Van Dyke Show!
Starring Dick Van Dyke!
Rose Marie!
Morey Amsterdam!
Larry Matthews!
And Mary Tyler Moore!"

The Dick Van Dyke Show was a highly popular and influential Sitcom that aired for five seasons (1961–66) on CBS.

Created and produced by Carl Reiner, the series centers around television comedy writer Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke), who works in New York City and lives in suburban New Rochelle with his attractive wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) and their cute son Richie (Larry Matthews), along with their brash but friendly next-door neighbors Jerry and Millie Helper (Jerry Paris and Ann Guilbert).

Coinciding with the Kennedy "Camelot" era, which heralded a new age of youthfulness, The Dick Van Dyke Show reflected a notable break from the old-fashioned sensibility of previous television families. For one thing, this was the first sitcom to focus as much if not more on the main character's work life as his home life, influencing such later Work Coms as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and NewsRadio, and its behind-the-scenes depiction of the world of television anticipated the likes of The Larry Sanders Show and 30 Rock. As head writer for the fictional comedy/variety series The Alan Brady Show, Rob spent much of his time in the office bantering with fellow writers Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam) and Sally Rogers (Rose Marie). Sally was an unusual female character for the era, in that she was both a working professional (who was something other than a teacher or nurse) and single (although she was portrayed as man-hungry and desperate to end her spinsterhood). Rounding out the ensemble was Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon), the bespectacled, bald-pated, uptight show producer and sycophantic brother-in-law to Alan Brady. The egotistical Brady, played by Carl Reiner himself, was rarely seen and actually served as The Faceless and/or The Voice in the show's early seasons.

This series is also notable as one of the first mainstream shows to feature, albeit in a bit part, middle-class African-American characters in a non-servile role. In the third-season flashback episode "That's My Boy??", Rob tells of wondering if his infant son belonged to his family due to paperwork confusion with another family at the hospital. Finally, the other family, the Peterses, show up to straighten things out, and to one of the longest laughs from a studio audience ever, they are revealed to be an African-American couple played by Greg Morris and Mimi Dillard. A small role, yes, but groundbreaking at the time. A later episode ("The Man from My Uncle") guest stars Godfrey Cambridge as a G-Man.

Although the series tried to keep away from Jive Turkey territory as much as possible, Kennedy-era reflections abound, including Laura as a Jackie O. surrogate; The Mafia, via the imposing Big Max Calvada (executive producer Sheldon Leonard); The British Invasion ("The Redcoats are Coming"); a self-indulgent Hugh Hefner surrogate; Carl Reiner as a Jackson Pollock-like abstract painter; and the Petries' praise for baby guru Dr. Spock.

A reunion special aired on CBS in 2004. Hosted by noted fan Ray Romano,note  it brought back every surviving cast member and took a look at how the characters' lives had changed in the decades since the show first ended.

This program provides examples of:

  • Accidental Bid: Rob doesn't understand the nuances of bidding gestures. He explains his idea of a sketch where someone makes an Accidental Bid during the auction, so he's the one who ends up as an unwanted winner.
  • Actor Allusion: In the 2004 reunion, Rob has become a computer enthusiast who makes his own animations for fun, just like Dick Van Dyke.
  • An Aesop: Occasionally, such as the pet duck episode where Rob teaches Richie that, basically, if you love something, sometimes you have to let it go.
  • Affectionate Parody: The Twilight Zone ("It May Look Like a Walnut") and Beatlemania ("The Redcoats Are Coming!").
  • All Jews Are Cheapskates: Buddy always had "a guy" to get anything at a good deal. However, this was subverted on a wider level. Buddy is emphatically shown many times to be a very generous guy (and his "deals" are meant to help his friends).
  • All Just a Dream: "It May Look Like a Walnut", their Twilight Zone spoof.
  • American Gothic Couple: In the episode "The Masterpiece", Rob and Laura bought a painting from an auction. The painting revealed a different version of "American Gothic", in which the couple were shown smiling, and which turned out to be a forgery.
    • In an ironic twist, the original painting that they cleaned off to reveal the American Gothic was done by Frank Sinatra, signed as "Artanis". So they ruined a fairly valuable celebrity painting to reveal a worthless forgery.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Some writers have observed that the Petries were the only unambiguous Gentiles in an otherwise all-ambiguously-Jewish (except for Buddy, who is clearly shown to be Jewish and even has a late-life Bar Mitzvah in one episode) cast.
    Alan: You guys make me feel like Captain Bligh. You really want Mel back, Mr. Christian?
    Rob: Yeah.
    Buddy: So does Mr. Jewish.
  • And Call Him "George": In "Bank Book 6565696", Rob tells Laura that "if I wasn't joking, I'd probably hug you so hard I'd break two or three of your ribs."
  • Angrish: Often happens to Laura when she goes on a crying jag, to hilarious effect.
  • Animated Adaptation: The TV Land computer-animated pilot/special The Alan Brady Show.
  • Anti-Love Song: one of Stacey Petrie's sleepwalking rock 'n roll songs:
    My heart told me that I should get a wife
    My heart told me I was in a rut
    My heart told me I should get a wife
    I wish my heart would keep its big mouth shut!
  • Appeal to Familial Wisdom: Sally will come up with old phrases "like my Aunt Agnes always says..." which are seldom helpful. Usually Lampshaded.
    Sally: My Aunt Agnes used to have a saying that went, uh, "If your heart is where the sky is bluest, then the sound of winter's twilight will be your friend."
    Buddy: Your aunt said that?
    Sally: Yeah . . . and every time I think of it, I want to cry.
    Buddy: Why?
    Sally: Because I think my Aunt Agnes is a nut.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: In the episode "Buddy Sorrell: Man and Boy," Rob says shalom to Buddy in honor of his having completed a long-belated bar mitzvah ceremony. Buddy explains that what Rob should have said is mazal tov, which means congratulations, whereas shalom means "goodbye." While it's correct that mazal tov is the more proper thing to say in this situation, shalom doesn't just mean goodbye: it can also mean hello, and its literal meaning is "peace."
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: After Buddy punches Rob when he catches him with Pickles (long story), Laura asks if it hurt.
    Rob: Honey! What makes you think that a short, bare-fisted punch delivered by an enraged husband at point-blank range to a naked eye would hurt?
  • Author Avatar: Rob Petrie is based on Carl Reiner, who actually played the part himself in the unaired pilot. Much of Rob's background — his army experience, his courtship of his wife, and his life in the suburbs — is taken directly from Reiner's life. Several episodes also came from Reiner's life, including obscure topics such as picking up the check when with friends.
    • Although in the reunion, Rob Petrie has become a computer animation enthusiast, just like Dick Van Dyke.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Buddy constantly uses his wife, Pickles, in his jokes and acts as if he leads a miserable marriage. However, when their relationship seems on the brink of divorce, both of them are devastated at the prospect.
  • Bags of Letters: when Sally said on national TV that she was looking for a man, bags and bags of letters arrived overnight.
  • Baldness Mockery: Though Buddy will insult Mel using just about anything, one of his favorite categories involves Mel's baldness. In at least one case, Mel got a toupee, but usually he just takes it with stoic irritation.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Buddy's German Shepherd, Larry, who is so large that Ritchie is afraid of him at first, but is a total softy.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In "The Impractical Joke", Buddy makes a crank call to a flower shop claiming to need cooking chrysanthemums for "the Shah of Zolzein. That's right, the Zolzein Shah." "Zol zein shah" is Yiddish for "shut up." Judging by the absence of laughter, few people in the studio audience got it.
  • Birthday Episode: During that episode Laura knows that Rob knows that Laura is planning a surprise party for his birthday, but she manages to surprise him anyway by making it look like everyone is cancelling their attendance - then suddenly SURPRISE! It's his party - and everyone are in their pajamas (because the party is at 6am).
    • Another episode took place during Richie's birthday. This episode is notable as being the only episode to use a Laugh Track: being filmed the week of the JFK assassination, no one was in the mood to laugh.
    • Another episode is "Who Stole My Watch?" in which Rob suspects his party guests once he can't find the watch he got for his birthday.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase:
    • In an interesting variation, Laura repurposes her own Catchphrase by addressing it to... herself.
      Laura: Oh, Rob! (drops her spoon) Oh, Laura!
    • Hilariously used in an episode when a hold-up man, played by Don Rickles, finds himself humiliated and wails "Oh, Rob!"
  • Brandishment Bluff: In "Never Bathe on a Saturday", the hotel detective holds Rob at gunpoint because he thinks Rob's keeping her wife captive in the bathroom (long story). Rob manages to stick up the detective with his finger on his back, distracting him long enough to take his gun and hold him at bay while he rescues Laura.
  • Breakout Character: Laura. Sally was originally supposed to be the female lead/foil to Rob, with Laura as a minor side character, but Mary Tyler Moore broke out in a big way to become the show's second lead. This caused a bit of resentment between the two actresses — while they always were cordial to one another, they never became close friends the way nearly everyone else in the cast did.
  • Brick Joke: The Peters' entrance in "That's My Boy??". (See intro.)
  • Butt-Monkey: Mel Cooley can't go an episode without getting an insult from Buddy (usually about his baldness). He gets it pretty bad from Alan Brady, too, whose every other sentence to him is some variant of "Shut up."
    Alan: What are they talking about? Mel, I don't understand what they're talking about!
    Mel: Uh, Alan, I...
    Alan: Shut up, you couldn't possibly understand anything I don't.
    • He is also a magnet for random flying objects, even those aimed at somebody else. In "When a Bowling Pin Talks, Listen", Alan Brady gets a pie in the face (not shown) when he appears on the Uncle Spunky show. In the final scene, he calls Rob, Buddy and Sally into his office with a fully loaded pie sitting on Alan's desk. It is clear that the pie is intended for Rob, who had suggested that Alan appear on the show, as retribution. Alan takes the pie and gets ready to throw it... right in Mel's face as Rob backs off just as Mel walks in to deliver some trivial piece of documentation.
    • Rob has days where the universe seems to gang up on him, too.
  • Canon Discontinuity: By general consensus of the cast, the writers, and the fans, "The Bad Old Days" is far and away the worst episode, featuring a bizarrely misogynistic All Just a Dream sequence. Mercifully, it's never referred to again.
    • Sol (Marty Ingles), a buddy of Rob's from the army, appeared in a pair of season one episodes. The season also introduced Harrison B. Harding (Allan Melvin), another man from the army whom Rob couldn't remember the identity of, until it was revealed he worked the spotlight at the USO shows. In every army flashback episode afterward, Melvin replaced Ingles as Rob's go-to army friend and his character soon became named Sol, essentially usurping Ingles' character.
  • The Cast Show Off:
    • Everybody. Starting with the pilot, the show gave the cast members many opportunities to show off their singing, dancing, and stand-up skills. Rob and Laura dance, Buddy plays the cello, and Sally sings.
    • This applies also to many of the guest stars, who are often famous performers, and there's typically at least one scene where the action stops so that the guest star gets to do his shtick on screen.
    • Used in-show as well, as Alan routinely uses his writing staff as cheap entertainment at parties.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Laura's "Oh, Rob!"
    • For the first couple of seasons, Mel had "Yeccch!" as his stock response to Buddy's insults.
    • Alan has "Shut up, Mel!"
    • Millie Helper had "What are you talking about? What's he talking about? What are you talking about?" with no pause in between. She would occasionally insert other activities in place of "talking about".
  • Character Tics: Laura Petrie had a habit of weeping with a histrionic, incoherent warble ("Ooohhh, Rooooob~!") whenever she suffered enough stress. In different interviews, Carl Reiner mentioned that this "crying funny" was something that he taught Mary Tyler Moore when she asked for an example, and the latter has mentioned two episodes featuring it to be some of her favorites. Closely resembling the iconic whimpering of Stan Laurel, it became something of a minor Signature Move, as she went on to use it in other shows.
  • Chilly Reception: In a flashback episode, we find out that Sally and Buddy were initially none too keen on Rob, whom they had never heard of before, being hired as their boss. He wins them over when he puts all three of their names on a sketch he came up with himself, after their sketch is rejected by Alan ("Yep. That's his crumple")
  • Clip Show: The series finale, "The Last Chapter", has Rob presenting Laura with the manuscript of his newly-completed memoir. As she reads, each chapter prompts a different memory represented by a clip from an earlier episode.
  • Colorization: "That's My Boy??" and "Coast to Coast Big Mouth" were computer-colorized in 2016 and aired on CBS that year. "Never Bathe on a Saturday" and "Where Did I Come From?" were also colorized in 2018, and "Baby Fat" And "The Bottom of Mel Cooley's Heart" in 2021.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: In one episode, Rob & Laura are about to go to a formal dinner on behalf of his boss Alan Brady to accept an award from a black group, but they both accidentally dye their hands black. They decide to wear gloves to the event, but Rob 'fesses up during his speech. The audience at the dinner find it funny rather than offensive.
  • Consulting Mister Puppet: In one episode, the writers think they're about to be fired and start considering a job writing for a puppeteer (played by Paul Winchell). When Rob goes to meet him, he's disturbed to find that not only does the man treat the puppet (a snail named Jellybean) as if it were alive, but as if it were the boss.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Millie is present during an improbable amount of Laura's life in flashbacks, presumably so they wouldn't have to invent a new friend for Laura every time they did such an episode.
  • Cool Mask: The caveman mask Rob uses in his imitation of Alan's weekly reaction to the next episode's script.
  • Costumer: The Wild West episode in period costume.
  • The Couch: Par for the course in a Dom Com. There's also a couch at Rob's office but it doesn't (always) directly face the Fourth Wall.
  • Couch Gag: You never knew whether Rob would tumble over the ottoman or not. The viewers at home started to make bets about it. After a while a third variant was added where he walked straight toward it but then stepped aside at the last second.
  • Cowboy Episode: Rob gets knocked out for a dental procedure while worried about a sketch Alan Brady wants for the show. He dreams he's a wild west sheriff and Alan is "Big Bad Brady," a local outlaw who calls him out for a Showdown at High Noon. After he wakes up he realizes it's perfect for the sketch.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: In "Never Name a Duck," Rob takes a duck to the vet (long story). He first meets a crazy dog lady who talks to her dog as if he's a person. Then he meets a crazy cat lady, who only has one cat but thinks the cat believes she is pregnant. Then he meets a seemingly regular guy, who tells him not to worry, he knows the difference between an animal and a person. He was there to pick up his kangaroo.
  • Crossover:
    • Buddy appeared in one episode of The Danny Thomas Show moonlighting as a joke writer for Thomas's character, Danny Williams.
    • Three decades after this show's heyday, Carl Reiner reprised his Alan Brady character in an episode of Mad About You.
      • These two minor crossovers throw TDVDS into one hell of a bizarre shared continuity; see Shared Universe and Wild Mass Guess sub-page.
      • And since at least two episodes mention Danny Thomas (the episode where the writers get laid off for the summer, and "It May Look Like a Walnut"), both Danny Thomas AND Danny Williams exist in that Universe.
    • Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam appeared as Sally and Buddy in an episode of Herman's Head trying to write witty lines for Herman.
  • Crying a River: In the episode "Empress Carlottas Necklace", Rob's mother cries over the necklace's beauty. When Laura lets her try it on and Rob holds up a mirror for her, she cries more. Rob's father suggests they take away the mirror before her tears flood the room.
  • The Ditz:
    • Pickles Sorrell.
    • Millie Helper, though, her ditziness is usually seen in Zany Schemes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone, though Laura stands out for sheer deadpanness. It is, after all, a sitcom about comedy writers.
  • Delayed Reaction: During "Gesundheit Darling", Ritchie and his friend Freddy are taking care of a stray cat they found. When they can't keep it after Rob turns out to be allergic to cats, Ritchie asks his parents if they can have a bald cat since it's only the fur that Rob is allergic to. Rob promises that if Ritchie finds a hairless cat, they can keep it. Ritchie cheers and runs out of the house with an old electric razor, shouting, "Hey Freddy! My daddy said it was okay!". Rob and Laura return to what they were doing, but ten seconds later, they realize the boys are planning on shaving the stray cat so they can keep it and run out of the house to stop them.
  • Demonic Dummy: Jellybean, the abusive snail puppet of a possibly-insane ventriloquist whom Rob, Buddy, and Sally consider going to work for when they think they might be getting fired.
  • Description Cut: From the episode where Rob contracts Easy Amnesia:
    Laura: For all I know, he could be lying in a dark alley calling my name!
    (cut to Rob dancing with a slinky blonde)
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Invoked in "When a Bowling Pin Talks, Listen". When Rob is trying to think of a sketch idea, he compliments Laura on her new outfit, then asks her to put on something messy, because "That way I could give my whole attention to the show."
  • Dodgy Toupee:
    • Worn by Alan Brady, until Laura accidentally blurts it out on national TV. Everyone Knew Already, but Alan is not happy about it until they manage to convince him that bald is beautiful.
    • Mel dons one after Buddy makes one too many bald jokes at his expense. Buddy is confounded.
  • Dream Sequence: "It May Look Like a Walnut", "The Gunslinger", "Washington vs. the Bunny", "The Bad Old Days", "I'd Rather Be Bald Than Have No Head At All."
  • Dream Within a Dream: Occurs in "I'd Rather Be Bald Than Have No Head At All." Rob puts an anti-baldness preparation on his hair, then wraps his head in a towel and goes to sleep. He initially dreams that he has unwrapped his head to find his hair replaced with a head of lettuce. He wakes from this dream only to find that, upon removing the towel, he is now totally bald. Finally, he awakens for real, revealing his hair to be intact. This makes the lettuce-head escapade a Dream within a Dream.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Rob has this reaction when Jerry starts mocking the Alan Brady Show to anyone who will listen. Rob and Laura point out that the show is Rob's job and those kind of jokes could actually threaten his livelihood.
  • Dumb Blonde: The woman on trial where Rob was a juror in "One Angry Man".
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The original Pilot Episode, which actually aired in 1960, was for a projected series called Head of the Family, with a completely different cast including Carl Reiner as Rob. The only similarities are the characters' names (and "Petrie" is even pronounced differently) and jobs. The show was slow-paced, with Reiner portraying Rob as mopey and beat-down at work and beleaguered over his relationship with Ritchie. Absolutely everyone involved agrees it was a much better idea to Retool the show to feature Van Dyke.
    • The first season opening credits don't feature the iconic Couch Gag with Rob tripping over the ottoman, but a stylized sequence showing family photographs of the Petries, and a different arrangement of the theme tune with more percussion.
    • In the first season, Laura is sometimes referred to as "Laurie."
  • Elevator Failure: One of the many flashback episodes has Rob and a pregnant Laura trapped in an elevator with an inept hold-up man played by Don Rickles.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Richie "Rosebud" Petrie, which actually stands for Robert Oscar Sam Edward Benjamin Ulysses David, thanks to a compromise between Rob, Laura and their respective parents, when they could not agree on a good name for their son. This is all mentioned in the episode, "What's In a Middle Name?".
  • The Eponymous Show: Named for its star.
  • Exiled to the Couch: Played with in "Give Me Your Walls". Rob and Laura are annoyed by a painter who has been working on their living room for a long time. Rob swears that he will tell him to get out of their house soon, and if he doesn't, he vows to sleep on the couch. Laura hopes that won't happen (though, oddly, Rob and Laura are always in separate beds.)
    • Happens to Rob in "The Curious Thing About Women," after he writes a sketch mocking her habit of opening his mail.
    Rob: Honey, the door (to the bedroom) is jammed!
    Laura: (on the other side) It's not jammed, it's locked.
  • The Exit Is That Way: In the episode "The Blond-Haired Brunette", when Rob and Laura begin having a heart-felt conversation, Millie hastily flees the room... right into the hall closet.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Rob does this to himself in one episode after he'd called Laura with a disguised voice:
    Rob: I tell you, I fooled her! She was entranced! You know what she thought? She thought she was flirting... with a complete stranger...
    • Laura does this in "Show of Hands", after she and Rob accidentally dye their hands black right before going to a dinner being given by the CIU.
    Rob: Laura, you know what CIU stands for?
    Laura: Of course; the Committee for Interracial Understanding...
  • Exploding Closet: In "It May Look Like a Walnut", Rob opens the hall closet and finds it filled with walnuts, with Laura riding on top of them!
  • Extra Eyes/Eyes Do Not Belong There: In "It May Look Like a Walnut", an All Just a Dream where everyone lives on walnuts and water ("getting a drink of fresh air") and grows eyes in the back of their heads.
  • The Faceless: Alan Brady, for the first couple of seasons.
  • Fake Guest Star: The Helpers become a frequent presence starting with Season 2, but Jerry Paris and Ann Guilbert were only ever credited as guest stars.
  • The Family for the Whole Family: In "Big Max Calvada," the title character (played by the show's producer, Sheldon Leonard) is a feared mob boss who turns out to be nice and friendly to everyone.
  • Fanservice:
    • A surprisingly large amount for an early sixties sitcom. Hardly an episode would go by without featuring Mary Tyler Moore in either a nightgown or evening wear, and there were plenty of gorgeous guest stars over the run of the show.
    • There are two episodes in which Laura's implied nudity plays a big role. In one, she is stuck in a bathtub (offstage), and in the other, there's a nude painting of her (but it's seen only from the back). Carl Reiner has observed that he got much of America to fantasize about a naked MTM.
    • Capri pants. Nick at Nite made note of it during its airing of the show.
    • Rob's nightmare about Laura in a rabbit costume, which might as well have been Laura as a Playboy Bunny given the costume.
    • She's in a very short tennis skirt at the beginning of "The Sam Pomerantz Scandals."
    • Reaches the point where Rob complains about it in one episode when Laura shows up in the office wearing dancing tights, much to the delight of Buddy and the delivery boy.
  • Fidelity Test: Rob talks to Laura over the phone in a different voice as a gag, but the deed transforms to this trope when he believes she believed she was flirting with a complete stranger. But she knows she wasn't.
  • Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics: "So you think that you've got troubles? / Well, trouble's a bubble / So tell old Mr. Trouble to 'Get lost!'" Wheet-boomph. Written by Morey Amsterdam, who played Buddy.
  • Formally-Named Pet: Sally's rarely seen cat is named Mr. Henderson.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • The show's Christmas Episode is mostly presented as an episode of The Alan Brady Show itself.
      • In-universe, too, it's stated that they're doing something different from a normal episode of Brady's show... which nicely explains why the head writer, his wife, and their friends (i.e., The Dick Van Dyke Show's main characters) are getting more screen time than Brady himself.
    • Also the penultimate episode, "The Gunslinger," which takes place entirely in Rob's fantasy of a Western.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: Laura and Richie have very little contact with each other despite being mother and son. It's so bad that there's a joke that the two never talk, although they do... on occasion.
  • Game Between Heirs: In "The Great Petrie Fortune," Rob inherits a desk from his great uncle Hezekiah, whom he hadn't seen in a long time, and is told the desk contains a great treasure. It's suggested that Hezekiah didn't trust the other heirs to handle this treasure responsibly. Hezekiah (played by van Dyke in his old-man getup) gives a clue to the treasure in the form of a filmed performance of "Me and My Shadow." Rob and Laura spend a while looking through the various items in the desk, which all seem to be sentimental but unimportant items from Hezekiah's life, including a photograph of him as a baby, and eventually conclude that the "treasure" merely refers to these items, worth nothing to anyone else but valuable to Hezekiah. But then Rob looks closer at the photograph and realizes it mirrors some elements of "Me and My Shadow." Looking still closer, he and Laura realize that in the background of the picture is Abraham Lincoln, and that the photo was taken by Mathew Brady. This would be very valuable, but they know the right thing to do is loan it to a museum, so they do.
  • George Jetson Job Security:
    • Many episodes revolve around the idea that Rob's job is in jeopardy if he angers Alan or denies him any request.
    • Mel's job is secure as long as he stays married to Alan's sister.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: : In "Somebody Has to Play Cleopatra," Rob is in charge of a community theater production. Millie was going to be in a sketch about Antony and Cleopatra, but Jerry didn't like her kissing their neighbor Harry (Bob Crane). Laura filled in for her, but Rob didn't like the kissing scene either. They ask the mousy schoolteacher, Miss Harding. Harry wasn't wild about that until she took off her horn-rimmed glasses, revealing she was Beautiful All Along. Cue his wife angrily putting a stop to it and physically removing him from the sketch See I Need to Go Iron My Dog below.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: In "The Alan Brady Show Goes to Jail", Buddy changes in the warden's office and reveals he wears heart-print boxer shorts. Later on in the same episode Rob shows off a striped pair, proving he's in costume and not a convict (they all wear plain prison-issue underwear).
  • Happily Married: Rob and Laura very obviously dote on each other, constantly showing affection, and even when they fight they kiss and make up almost immediately after.
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: Laura gets her toe stuck on the faucet of a hotel bathtub in "Never Bathe on a Saturday".
  • Helpless with Laughter: In "The Curious Thing About Women", Rob writes a sketch based on Laura's habit of opening his mail, which includes a scene with the snooping wife getting trapped in a closet with an inflating raft. Their next-door neighbors, Millie and Jerry, find it hilarious. Later, it turns out Rob actually ordered a raft prior to writing the sketch and forgot about it. Millie and Jerry come over to apologize for ribbing Laura, but when they see the raft, they dissolve into a fit of silent laughter. They can't answer Laura when she talks to them. Eventually, they manage to leave, though.
  • "Home Alone" Antics: In one episode, while Rob is away Laura watches a scary movie on TV and is afraid that someone will break into the house. Milly comes over and they set booby-traps at the front door etc. so that whoever might break in will make a loud noise so they can bean him with a baseball bat. Naturally, Rob comes home earlier than expected and trips the homemade alarm.
  • Horrible Honeymoon: In "Honeymoons Are For The Lucky", Rob recalls the difficult time he had getting enough leave from his military service to spend time alone with his new wife, Laura. His leaves were constantly refused or canceled, until the couple had to agree that only people much luckier than they were, would have honeymoons.
  • Imagination Destroyer: In the episode "It May Look Like a Walnut", Rob and Laura watch a sci-fi movie where aliens use a walnut-like object to strip humans of their thumbs and imagination so they can't make things. Then Rob has a nightmare about the movie in which the walnuts figure heavily and he ends up losing his thumbs and sense of humor much to his despair.
  • Immune to Mind Control: In the episode "My Husband is Not a Drunk" Buddy really can't be hypnotized, although he plays along for a couple of minutes. Rob however acts the Hypno Fool.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: When Laura accidentally reveals that Alan is bald on live television, she goes to his office to apologize. Rob soon arrives and they start discussing who should take responsibility in the middle of Alan's office:
    Alan: Hi there! Remember me?
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: One episode in rehearsal for a play, a character is (very loudly) berated offscreen by his wife for having too much fun kissing his co-star. His excuse for leaving a moment later is "One of the kids is sick."
  • Insult Comic:
    • Jackie Brewster, a nightclub Insult Comic, is hired for one episode to replace Buddy after the latter leaves the Alan Brady show. Jackie's job is to roast Mel so badly he'll beg them to hire Buddy back instead.
    • On regular days, Buddy himself is quite handy with zingers at Mel's expense, although he specializes in wisecracks in general.
  • I Was Just Joking: In one episode, Rob convinces Alan to make a risky appearance on a cultural show. Alan warns him that if the show bombs, Rob might lose his job. When the show is preempted by a flood, Rob jokes that Alan will probably think that the network caused the flood on purpose because the show was so bad. The phone rings:
    Rob: Hi, Alan... Alan, they wouldn't do that!
  • Ice-Cream Koan: Sally quotes a lot of these from her Aunt Agnes.
    Sally: Every time I think of those words, I want to cry.
    Buddy: How come?
    Sally: Because I think my Aunt Agnes is a nut.
  • Irrevocable Message: A script is accidentally turned in which all of their sarcastic comments about Alan Brady are not blacked out, and they attempt to retrieve the script before he reads it.
  • It Belongs in a Museum: The solution to what to do with the photo of Abraham Lincoln.
  • Identity Amnesia: When Rob temporarily became "Strativarius" after breaking a violin on his head.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jerry Helper is egotistical, insensitive, and prone to sometimes-cruel practical jokes, but is ultimately a very loyal friend and husband.
  • Jive Turkey:
    • Averted - Carl Reiner always removed anything he considered to be too-current trends, fads, or slang from scripts in order to prevent future reruns from becoming dated. Ironically, one of the only things that does seem slightly dated in modern viewings is the concept of a weekly prime time network Variety Show itself.
    • There's also the rather hilarious fact that the show coined a few bits of jive itself - such as "bupkis" entering the wider vernacular meaning "nothing" or "something with no meaning", as noted above.
  • The Klutz: Robert Petrie, courtesy of Dick Van Dyke's skill at slapstick.
  • The Lad-ette: Sally. Laura worries that her masculine habits are sabotaging her efforts to find a husband.
  • Laughing Mad: In "Three Letters from One Wife", Rob reacts this way when he learns that Milly had sent fourteen fake letters to Alan Brady praising him and Rob for a high-risk appearance on a cultural program (which hadn't aired yet):
    Milly: Rob, what can I do?
    Rob: (laughing hysterically) Take advantage of my temporary insanity and get out of here!
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Since the lead character writes for television, this happens a fair amount.
  • Love at First Sight: A flashback episode reveals that Rob fell in love with Laura within minutes of meeting her. Laura... not so much.
  • Makeover Fail: In "My Blonde Haired Brunette", Laura's friend Millie suggests that bleaching her hair would bring a spark back to her and Rob's relationship. Laura accedes to it, but doesn't like the result, though Millie thinks she looks good. Just then, Rob calls home from work and Laura, suspecting that he's on to something, asks him what he would think if she bleached her hair. He responds negatively. Rob insists on coming home early, having gotten the idea to take Laura out to dinner in order to make up for paying less attention to her. Laura and Millie then scramble to dye Laura's hair back; when Rob comes home, he finds Laura with her hair half brown, half blonde.
  • May–December Romance, for some definitions of "December" at least. In the back story, the Petries got married when Rob was in his late twenties and Laura was seventeen. Dick Van Dyke really was about 11 years older than Mary Tyler Moore.
  • Mean Boss: Alan Brady. He avoids being an out-and-out Bad Boss only because he has a sense of humor and occasionally does something good.
  • Mickey Mousing: Rob's clumsy antics are accompanied by musical cues.
  • Misleading Package Size: In an episode Laura tries to open a box that Rob gets in the mail. When she finally manages to open it an inflatable dinghy pops out and inflates, leaving it about 5x the size of the original box. It had also just happened in a sketch Rob had written for "The Alan Brady Show", making it a case of In-Universe Truth in Television.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Several times with several different couples. In one episode Rob thinks Buddy is having an affair with Sally, only to find that she and Buddy are actually sneaking off to perform a club act together. Buddy and Mel think that Rob and Sally are having an affair when Rob takes Laura's advice to treat Sally more like a lady. Buddy's turn comes when he is secretly planning his very belated Bar Mitzvah. Rob and Laura see Jerry in a restaurant with a beautiful woman who is actually a psychologist from whom he's seeking a recommendation for a marriage counselor. Rob is is horrified to overhear what he doesn't know is actually Laura planning a surprise birthday party for him. ("Gee, Millie, I hope this is worth it. I mean to go through all this deception just for a few fleeting moments of excitement. I don't know.")
  • Mistaken for Racist: Rob and Laura are horrified that they might be perceived as racially insensitive when they accidentally dye their hands black just before accepting an award from the "Committee for Interracial Understanding." Fortunately, everyone sees the humor of the situation.
  • My Beloved Smother: Herman Glimpshire and his mom.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Used in the episode "A Word a Day" where Richie gets in trouble for innocently using a curse word in school. Thanks to whispering and judicious cutting, the word itself is never heard, but we can tell from Rob's horrified facial reaction that it's a whopper.
  • Nepotism: Mel got his job as producer because he married Alan Brady's sister. Somewhat subverted in that he's shown to be quite competent at his job, and the only 'special treatment' he receives is being Alan's personal whipping boy.
    • In some episodes, Mel got the job because Alan married his sister.
    Mel: It's my sister's house, and I'm welcome any time that Alan's not home!
  • Never Heard That One Before: In "The Man from My Uncle," Rob and Laura are visited by a government agent who asks to use their house to watch one of their neighbors, who is suspected of harboring his criminal nephew. The agent who actually performs the surveillance is named Harry Bond. First Rob, and then later Laura, ask him something like, "Oh, you mean like...", but he cuts them off, presumably because he's heard it a million times before. Although it's one of the show's infrequent references to '60s fads, the joke remained current 50 years later.
  • Never Say "Die": "The rabbit died."
    • Not exactly an example considering what they were talking about (or what she was trying to talk about) when she said that. (An early pregnancy test involved rabbits' ovaries. The rabbits died in the process.)
  • Never Trust a Hair Tonic: In a dream sequence, Rob's hair turns into lettuce, because he was given a baldness preventative that was mostly oil and vinegar - aka salad dressing.
  • New Baby Episode: The episode "Where Did I Come From?" features Richie asking his parents about his birth, and in flashback tells about Rob's paranoia leading up to the delivery and how it all worked out.
  • Newhart Phonecall: Several, most involving Rob answering the phone with some sarcastic or irritable greeting only to find he's talking to Alan.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Alan Brady was reportedly an amalgam of Milton Berle and Jackie Gleason. Buddy Sorrell was initially based on Carl Reiner's fellow Your Show of Shows writer Mel Brooks, while Sally Rogers was largely based on Selma Diamond. Rob was named after Carl's son Rob Reiner (who obviously wasn't a celebrity yet).
    • Leslie Merkle in "You Ought to Be in Pictures" seems to be a bit of an Andy Warhol riff. He directs movies that mostly have no plots, just long, uninterrupted shots of feet or something. When he first shows up he's wearing sunglasses indoors.
    • Drew Patton, a swinging bachelor magazine publisher who lives in a mansion surrounded by beautiful models, is an obvious ringer for Hugh Hefner.
  • No Sympathy: Laura displays this in spades in "The Attempted Marriage", when Rob gets waylaid on the way to their wedding and goes through hell to get there, finally arriving late. Rare for this trope, she gets called out for it and eventually apologizes.
  • Not Helping Your Case: When Rob and Laura are arguing over whether Jerry's having an affair after seeing him having dinner with a beautiful blonde, Rob tries to defend him:
    Rob: Laura, when a man is out on the town, he doesn't shout out the fact that he's married...forget what I said!
  • Nuclear Family: This being The '60s, most of the families in the show fit this model precisely, the most notable example being Rob and Laura and their cute kid Richie in their little house in the suburbs.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Buddy's wife "Pickles." In one episode she reveals that her real name is Fiona, but everyone called Fiona in her neighborhood was nicknamed Pickles. On the other hand, she was the only Fiona in her neighborhood.
  • On Second Thought: When the writers are trying to convince Mel to cancel an interview with a major newspaper for fear they'll humiliate themselves again:
    Mel: Well, you can learn from that; avoid the pitfalls. After all you're all adult, intelligent...
    (looks at Buddy)
    Mel: I'll cancel the interview.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • In "The Sick Boy and the Sitter", Laura offers Ritchie a chocolate cupcake as an after-school snack, only for him to turn it down. This immediately sets off alarm signals and leads to her calling in the doctor. When Rob asks for proof that Ritchie is sick, even though he isn't running a fever, she tells him about the cupcake incident. Rob isn't very impressed and suggests that maybe he's just tired of chocolate cupcakes.
    • In "The Bottom of Mel Cooley's Heart", the chewing out Alan gave Mel offscreen was so bad that it made Buddy feel sorry for him. Buddy spends most of the episode not using as many zingers as he usually does and trying to support him. When Alan fires Mel for standing up to him, Buddy backs Rob up when he tries to convince Alan to rehire him and implies that Mel absorbs many of the insults Buddy would like to fling at Alan.
  • Panicky Expectant Father: A hilarious example. Rob in "Where Did I Come From?" is so flustered waiting for Laura to give birth he sleeps with his clothes on, then can't sleep afterwards and is late to work; on his way out he kisses Millie goodbye instead of his wife. He couldn't find pressed clothes to wear, so he leaves them to be ironed at work, so when he has to go pick up Laura to go to the hospital he has to wear Buddy's pants, which are a couple of sizes too big for him.
  • Paranoia Gambit: "The Impractical Joke," where Rob uses this on Buddy, may be the Trope Codifier for this plot on sitcoms.
  • The Pratfall: In the intro, Dick trips over an ottoman, and goes head-over-heels to land on his keister.
  • Pretty in Mink: Being the wife of a successful writer, Laura owns a few mink wraps she wears to parties and events.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Mel is this to Alan.
  • Pseudo-Crisis: The Teaser (usually placed right after the Title Sequence, not before) often ends with a character hinting that something big is going to happen this week. When the scene starts again after the first commercial, the crisis usually turns out to be much more trivial than the teaser made it seem. In one episode, the teaser ends with Alan Brady saying "Rob, I need you to save my life!" After the commercial, it turns out Alan just needs Rob to rewrite a play he's starring in.
  • Quitting to Get Married: In the backstory, Laura had quit a promising career as a song-and-dance girl to become Mrs. Robert Petrie, wife and mother. In one episode she goes back to work temporarily on The Alan Brady Show when another dancer gets injured. Rob is worried she'll want to continue full-time. In a later episode, Laura becomes the typist in the show's writers' room after Sally becomes a recurring guest on a late night talk show.
  • Ransom Drop: There's an episode where the script was stolen and a ransom demanded. Dick is asked by a tramp for some money and asks if he should first put it in the trash can (as earlier agreed); the tramp is disgusted, thinking Dick van Dyke just wants to humiliate him.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: In "The Night the Roof Fell In", Rob and Laura have a fight at the beginning of the episode which they both recall quite self-servingly, each one comically portraying themselves as having done no wrong whilst the other is rude and impossible to deal with.
  • Real After All: Subverted in "Ghost of A. Chantz". After an entire episode of being scared by apparent supernatural events (which were being caused by people working behind the scenes on a show based on Candid Camera), the writers and Laura ask Mel how he caused the fire to light itself. Mel claims to be ignorant. However, after the terrified Buddy leaves the room, he implies he did cause it and just does not want Buddy to find out.
  • Really 17 Years Old: When Laura married Rob, she said that she was nineteen. She was really seventeen and hence too young to get married.
  • Replacement Flat Character: The writers avoided making Laura a typical ditzy sitcom housewife by letting her best friend, Millie, be the ditzy one who comes up with most of the Zany Schemes.
  • Reunion Show: The surviving members of the cast came together for a one-off reunion, The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited in 2004. The reunion's plot involved Alan Brady strong-arming Rob to write him a eulogy while he's still alive.
  • Rogue Juror: Rob, in "One Angry Man". Rob is the only juror who thinks Marla is innocent. He deadlocks the entire jury for a whole day and ultimately gets the case thrown out. Luckily, it turns out he was right.
  • Scunthorpe Problem: Yes, there are places where his name will be rendered as "Van".
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage:
    • Played with in "The Man from Emperor". The titular man, an old colleague of Rob's named Drew Patton who has become a playboy, asks Rob to write a humor column for the magazine. Laura is not at all happy about this as she is afraid her husband will "crumble" under the pressure of being around beautiful girls all day. This only worsens as Rob decides he should get a look at the workplace. However, ultimately Rob turns down the position and his own personal office and secretary and being around beautiful girls all day to remain faithful to Laura. Patton finds this "sick."
    • In another episode, Sally lists Rob and Buddy as the two men she considers least likely to ever cheat on their wives.
  • Shared Universe: With The Andy Griffith Show and I Love Lucy by way of The Danny Thomas Show, which spun off the former and crossed over with the latter. The show is also connected with Mad About You.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Buddy and Pickles... although based on Buddy's delivery, he could've been joking.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Perhaps unintentional, but in the episode "My Blonde-Haired Brunette", Laura bleaches her hair blonde, then tries to dye it back to its original brown. When her husband interrupts her, she comes out half blonde and half brunette. Since the show was filmed in black-and-white, she resembles Cruela De Vil, who debuted earlier in the same year the episode aired.
    • There are several shout-outs to The Defenders, which coincidentally ran on the same network (CBS) at the same time as The Dick Van Dyke Show.
    • The aliens in "It May Look Like a Walnut" came from the planet Twilonote .
  • Show Within a Show: The fictional Alan Brady Show where Rob works as the head writer.
    • The Uncle Spunky Show in the episode "If a Bowling Pin Talks — Don't Listen".
    • Ray Murdock's X-Rays in the episode of the same name.
    • The Game Show Pay as You Go! in the episode "Coast to Coast Big Mouth".
    • Candid Camera Expy Alan Brady Presents Sneaky Camera in the episode "Ghost of A. Chanz"
  • Sincerest Form of Flattery: A meta-example. In "The Sam Pomerantz Scandals", Rob and his friend Sam Pomerantz (Henry Calvin) do a spectacular impression of Laurel and Hardy; in real life, Stan Laurel was Dick Van Dyke's self-confessed comedy hero.
  • Sitcom: One of the all-time greats and Trope Codifiers. Damn near every sitcom of the late '60s through to the mid-'80s owes something to TDVDS, and even later shows can still draw a line of inspiration back to it.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Buddy Sorell made every attempt to insult producer / bald brother-in-law of the star Mel Cooley.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Buddy and Pickles appear to have this kind of a relationship, to judge by the dialogue.
  • Slapstick:
    • Rob Petrie is a bit of a klutz, giving Dick Van Dyke plenty of opportunities to show off his physical comedy chops.
    • In the episode "The Return of Happy Spangler," one of the sketches Rob writes for Alan Brady is a lecture on how modern comedy has become too sophisticated to resort to cheap slapstick for laughs—during the course of which the speaker slams his hand in the desk drawer, gets his foot stuck in a wastebasket, stabs himself with a penknife, falls off the desk, and puts his foot through a chair.
  • Slasher Smile: during one episode, Rob, Sally, and Buddy are discussing what's wrong with Laura. Someone suggests that maybe she's jealous.
    Rob: No, Laura doesn't cry when she's jealous; she just sits there and smiles.
    Buddy: She smiles?
    Rob: Yeah, like this. (bares teeth with slightly crazed eyes)
  • Sleep Deprivation: In a flashback episode, Rob is shown working as a radio DJ doing a promotional stunt trying to break the record for the most hours broadcasting continuously without sleep... immediately after which, it turns out, he has his important job interview to be a writer on The Alan Brady Show. Needless to say, he is so sleep deprived that he bombs the interview completely, being a weepy, rambling, incoherent sloppy mess. Fortunately, the producers recognize the situation and give him a second opportunity.
  • Sleeping Single: Which, despite the times, was rather odd due to the main couple actually having sexual chemistry between them. One episode does offer a possible explanation for this: Rob likes watching TV in bed and this way he can sit up and snack without disturbing her (unless he has the TV is too loud).
  • Stalker with a Crush: When he first met Laura, Rob all but stalked her into giving in to him.
  • Stage Mom: Laura and Millie both turn into this in "Boy #1, Boy #2" when their sons are cast in a commercial.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Zig-Zagged all over the place. It's taken for granted throughout the show (and several episodes say so specifically, to the point of Values Dissonance) that a woman's place is in the home being a House Wife. On the other hand, though, a major character, Sally, is a working single woman who is considered the equal of any of her male peers in her office, and this is also taken for granted despite being a rather progressive feminist statement for its day. On the other hand, Sally is portrayed as very eager to find a man and "settle down", with the assumption that she'll give up her career after she does. On the other other hand, in an episode where Laura considers getting a job outside the home, Rob is bothered but ultimately realizes that Laura has the right to make that decision for herself.
  • Stealth Pun (and a Brick Joke): In "Bupkis," Rob is talking to a former member of his old army band, and trying to remember the name of the drummer. All he can come up with is "'Sticks' Rangoon" but says that's not it and gives up. Later, he runs into the drummer and realizes his name is 'Sticks' Mandalay. Rangoon and Mandalay are the two largest cities and both former capital cities of Burma (Myanmar).
  • Studio Audience: Used for most of the episodes, except for a handful that required special effects or extra scene changes. A notable exception was "Happy Birthday and Too Many More," which was filmed only four days after John F. Kennedy's assassination. The producers figured an audience wouldn't be in much of a mood to laugh, so they substituted a Laugh Track.
  • Surprise Party: In "A Surprise is a Surprise is a Surprise," Laura outwits Rob by pretending that she was planning a surprise birthday party for him (which she does every year and he always finds out in advance) but her plans fall through — but then it turns out that that was a fib, and the surprise party happens at like 6 in the morning.
  • Switched at Birth: The episode "That's My Boy??" (See intro.)
  • Syndication Title: In the late '60s, CBS aired daily afternoon reruns of the series as The Dick Van Dyke Daytime Show.
  • Talking in Bed: Rob and Laura, despite Sleeping Single.
  • Technically a Smile: "Honey, your teeth are showing, but your lips are tense."
  • The Talk: In "Go Tell the Birds and the Bees", Rob tells Richie more about the facts of life after Richie starts telling false stories about where babies come from. Richie accepts the truth of Rob's talk but decides to continue making up stories about "baby supermarkets."
  • This Is Gonna Suck: After Rob walks in ranting about an extremely stressful argument he's had with Alan, Laura starts to tell him about her and Millie's latest Zany Scheme. Rob warns them that if it's not going to make him happy, he doesn't want to hear it:
    Millie: Oh, Rob! I'm so sorry, and you don't ever have to speak to me ever again!
    Rob: It's not going to make me happy, is it?
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Rob offers to let Buddy stay with him and Laura when Buddy's wife is away caring for her mother, ignoring Sally's warning that it's a terrible idea. Buddy does indeed turn out to be a nightmare houseguest. Rob is still too polite to tell him to leave, and the situation is only solved by Pickles' mother getting better.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Pickles fairly towers over Buddy.
  • Tranquil Fury: Laura, in an episode where a girl Rob knew in high school shows up:
    Laura: If Miss Leighton feels she must attempt a flirtation with you, I'm not going to act like a hysterical wife. I'm just going to go up to her and quietly kill her.
    • Alan Brady sometimes precedes his blow-ups with this, as in the episode where Rob's interview with a major magazine mentioned his (Rob's) name eleven times to Alan's seven:
      Rob: (nervously) Seven and eleven. That's, ah, lucky.
      Alan: Heheh, not for you!
  • The Triple: The classic: "Can I get you anything? Cup of coffee? Doughnut? Toupee?" TVLand used this in a promo demonstrating the Rule of Three.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Rob does this all the time.
  • Tricked into Signing: Every year Rob is coerced and/or corralled into directing and starring in the local PTA's annual fundraising show. After the show one year, which he stated would be absolutely the last time he'd do it, the president of the PTA asks for his autograph on her program to commemorate the show. He gives her the autograph, after which she announces that he'd just signed a contract to direct the next year's show.
  • Troll: Mr. Peters in "That's My Boy??" cheerfully comments that the main reason he came over to meet the Petries in person was because he wanted to see Rob's expression.
  • Un-Paused: In "My Husband is Not a Drunk", Buddy is in the middle of explaining that he can't be hypnotized, then gets hypnotized. When he gets snapped out he continues his sentence about being unhypnotizable. Subverted though, in that Buddy was only pretending to be hypnotized.
  • Unwanted Gift Plot:
    • An episode revolves around Rob giving Laura a replica of "Empress Carlotta's Necklace." Laura hates it, but Cannot Spit It Out because his intentions were so sweet.
    • The episode "The Curse of the Petries" involves Laura getting the cherished gift of an old family heirloom from Rob's parents—an enormous ugly brooch in the shape of the United States. Laura doesn't want to offend her in-laws, but hijinks ensue when she manages to drop it down the garbage disposal and has to try to get it repaired.
  • The Voice: In the first couple of seasons Alan Brady was this when he wasn't The Faceless.
  • Vorpal Pillow: Played for laughs in one episode: when Laura is complaining that she can still hear the scary movie Rob is watching even though she has her head under the covers, he covers her head with a pillow for the climax. Cue her flailing in protest while he's too absorbed in the movie to notice:
    Rob: It's all over now.
    Laura: No, it's not; I'm still breathing.
  • Weak-Willed: A Hypno Fool example, Rob was hypnotized into acting drunk when he heard a bell; but the subject of the hypnosis was Buddy, not Rob, and he wasn't even in the room when the hypnosis happened.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Several, including "That's My Boy??", adding up to a full history of how the main characters met, courted, got married, moved to their current home, and had their son.
    • But not too much about how they had their son, since they were Sleeping Single.
  • Work Com: At least in part.
  • Yes-Man: Mel Cooley, for Alan Brady.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Played for Laughs in "Buddy, Can You Spare a Job?" when Mel uses it on Buddy's replacement, who has been instructed to heckle him.
    Mel: Listen, do you know who I am?
    Jackie Brewster: Don't you know who you are? [Beat] If you find out, don't tell anybody!
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Inverted in "The Man from Emperor". Rob's old colleague, a Hugh-Hefner-like magazine star, denounces him as sick for sticking to being Happily Married to Laura rather than falling to the temptation of the lifestyle he leads. Laura thinks that this is wonderful.
  • Your Television Hates You: After the horror movie in "It May Look Like a Walnut" gives them both nightmares, Rob and Laura try to find something pleasant to watch on TV. On one channel, an announcer says they'll be showing Road to Singapore.
    Rob: Well, that can't scare you much.
    Announcer: That's tomorrow night at 2 o'clock. Now, back to The Werewolf from Outer Space!

Alternative Title(s): Head Of The Family