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Series / The Drew Carey Show

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"I got screwed by the system. I'm always gettin' screwed by the system. That's my role in life: I'm the system's bitch!"

A Dilbert-esque look at office life, about a nice but overweight, unattractive man named Drew Carey with a low-paying dead-end job as the Assistant Director of Personnel of the Winfred Louder department store (there is no Director of Personnel).

Drew is the perpetual everyman who can never seem to get ahead in life. Bad things never stop happening to Drew. He still hangs out with his friends from high school, Lewis, Oswald and Kate (who started as purely platonic friends with Drew only to become his later love interest). Also, his dog is crippled.

As part of his job Drew has to deal with his Mean Boss, Mr. Wick, and his own perpetually conniving secretary, Mimi, both of whom hate Drew's guts just because he's there. And that is all on top of general office bureaucracy.

As a result of having more creative freedom due to being uncancellable for a time, the series would go on to become Denser and Wackier as it went on, similar to Night Court (in fact, one episode of The Drew Carey Show had a cameo by Daffy Duck, similar to how Night Court had one with Wile E. Coyote). Later seasons would have Mimi and Drew engaged in prank wars that escalated to the point where Mimi drugged Drew and dropped him off at the Great Wall of China after Drew drenches Mimi's desk in paint and hits her in the face with a cold cream pie. Several episodes were made littered with intentional mistakes pointed out to the audience, which they could tally for a contest (which were often random, over-the-top sight gags, ranging from hairstyle changes, actor changes, characters being replaced by sock puppets, and an entire scene being done in Machinima using The Sims). Other notable silliness includes an episode done mostly in improv (to spoof Drew Carey's role as host of Whose Line Is It Anyway?), and an episode where Oswald and Lewis are treated by a dentist who is a very over-the-top Dr. Frankenstein parody.

Carey and Ryan Stiles (Lewis) became fixtures for Whose Line Is It Anyway? that also featured several other cast members briefly. Stiles himself was a veteran of the UK show before being cast on Drew Carey.

Sort of a Work Com, but one which focuses on a single character rather than an ensemble.

This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: In Season 8, Wick is reduced to a mere janitor in the new company and was intent on working his way back to the top. However, after a couple episodes, Wick disappeared because Craig Ferguson left the show. Wick did return for the season finale, but by then, he had gotten a new job.
  • Alcohol Is Gasoline: One episode Lewis and Oswald trying to create a beer-powered lawnmower as a promotion for Buzz Beer. All we see is it backfiring.
  • Age-Inappropriate Dress: A problematic customer that Mimi has to deal with is an elderly woman who still dresses like a teenager. Her justification is that the teen department is the only place where the clothes fit her.
  • ÖAnd That Little Girl Was Me: Subverted by Mrs. Louder in "Drew Gets Motivated." When she sees Kate sitting in her chair, she's reminded of another headstrong young woman who once dreamed of running the store. Mrs. Louder then fired that young woman.
  • Animated Credits Opening: In the first season, the animated character logo of Drew Carey sings "Moon Over Parma".
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Drew's Jerkass neighbor Clemens offers to invest in Buzz Beer if he can call the shots, and rattles off numerous degrees and business qualifications he has. This leads Drew to ask "If you're so smart, how come you're living next door to me?"
  • Basement-Dweller: Subverted, Drew still lives in his childhood home but that's because he bought it from his parents when they moved to Florida. Whenever he meets an old friend they tend to mistake him for still living with his parents.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Drew's mom. She complained to Alan Freed that the music he was playing on WAKR was making all her dishes "rock and roll," and when she was a secretary at NASA, she made an offhand comment about sending men to the moon just when one Senator Kennedy was visiting.
    Drew: Mom, you're Florence Gump.
  • Berserk Button: Drew Carey stated that the Friends theme song became this for him in real life. He had nothing against the show itself, or any of the actors, but hated his show being called a "Friends clone" just because it was a sitcom about someone who had friends. (And then ABC went and put his other show right up against Friends. For added irony, all three shows were produced by Warner Bros. Television.)
  • Broken-Window Warning: In the "Drew and the Singles Union" episode, some angry employees throw a Dilbert doll through Drew's window in a nod to the similarities between the two.
    Kate: (reads attached note) Next time, it's life size!
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Drew's great uncle Alfred's last wish was to be buried in Drew's backyard.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Drew's co-worker, Larry Almada, disappeared in 1999 when Ian Gomez got cast on The Norm Show. Drew would bump into Larry, though, in Season 8's "Chemistry Schmemistry" and learned he had become a matchmaker in the interim. Afterwards, Larry resumed being a recurring character for the rest of the show's run.
    • Craig Ferguson, who left in Season 8, returned for the show's series finale in Season 9.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker: When Lewis realizes if a girl drinks, and he doesn't, his chances of getting some increase. The attempt to put this into practice, though, fails because the first two girls he and Oswald approach are recovering alcoholics, so they're just as sober as he and Oswald are.
  • Captain Morgan Pose: In one episode his boss does a Captain Morgan Pose while wearing spandex shorts, noooot a pretty sight.
  • Casting Gag: Marion Ross played Drew's mom. Tom Bosley played Mimi's dad. When Shirley Jones played an older love-interest of Drew, they had to bring his mom in for them to meet. And Danny Bonaduce played her adult son.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In one early episode, Tim Allen appeared as himself, where Drew Carey knew him from watching Home Improvement. Two years later, Drew himself appeared as a one-shot character on Home Improvement.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • In his debut, Eugene is pretty much an ever-nodding yes-man who simply goes along with Wick's sentiments, while trying to keep his mouth shut, as he explains to Drew, "I've paid attention around here - people who shoot off their mouths never get ahead." There is also no hint that he's gay and seems eager to accompany Wick to a strip club. In his other two episodes he's slightly neurotic and suddenly has a not-so-secret crush on Drew, even trying to get him to change teams.
    • Drew's brother Steve was almost entirely defined by his status as a Wholesome Crossdresser for awhile, and then he married Mimi. Almost immediately afterwards he stopped crossdressing and lost most of his established personality traits, becoming essentially a completely different (and much flatter) character. This was never really explained; it's possible he did it to please Mimi, but her accepting that part of him was a major part of their courtship story arc. In an 2017 interview with The AV Club, John Carroll Lynch, who played Steve, said that this done at the request of nervous ABC executives.
      • In the episode "Drew's Inheritance", Steve is told he only gets his share of his late uncle's money if he stops crossdressing. Something that surely would have enticed Mimi...
  • Charity Workplace Calendar: Such a calendar is mentioned in passing when Oswald agrees to have Lewis' workplace, DrugCo, give him breast implants. He says the pay is good, and he'd even get more if he poses for the DrugCo calendar. He does.
  • The Chew Toy:
    • The protagonist, Drew.
    Drew: I'm gettin' screwed by the system. I'm always gettin' screwed by the system. That's my role in life: I'm the system's bitch.
    Mr. Wick: "Oh look everybody, Carey's detected an irony! He's smart, smarter than me... and yet, I make more money. *deadpans* Oh look, now I've detected an irony."
  • Cleveland Rocks: They even used a cover of the Trope Namer as an opening for several seasons.
  • Clip Show: Season 4's "Drew's Dance Party" complies the musical segments from the series, presented as Oswald plays the songs at the local radio station.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Oswald and Lewis. The former is a dimwit, the latter is crazy. They're often paired together. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Club Stub: In "Drew and the Conspiracy", Drew discovers the existence of the 'We Hate Drew Carey Club', which has been pranking him and generally making his life miserable. It consists of three Winfred-Lauder employees who blame Drew for ruining their lives. They even have a club song.
  • Comedic Sociopath: Lewis. Originally depicted as being as dumb as Oswald, as time went on he was revealed to be not so much stupid, but crazy and comedically heartless at times.
  • Commonality Connection: Drew and Mimi slowly discover they have a lot in common over the course of the show, to the point where they become legitimate friends by the end. Among other things, they both love bowling and have a penchant for great pranks. They even share a favorite kind of ice cream.
    Drew: I have Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey.
    Mimi: Chunky Monkey's my favorite.
    Drew: You know there's no actual monkeys in it?
    Mimi: Damn animal rights folks!
  • Coordinated Clothes:
    • A little person who works at Winfrid-Lauder looks up to Mimi and starts dressing like her to be a "Mini Mimi".
    • A man starts taking after Drew, down to dressing like him and decorating his house to look exactly like Drew's. It creeps Drew and his friends out.
  • Cover Version: "Cleveland Rocks!" is a cover of "England Rocks!" by Ian Hunter.
  • Crossover:
    • With NYPD Blue, of all shows.
    • With Whose Line Is It Anyway? on a few live episodes.
    • In one episode, the gang watches a how-to video about roof repair hosted by none other than Tim Taylor. (This is ironic, as Tim Allen appeared in an earlier episode as himself.)
    • In 1997, ABC forced a Cross Through stunt on Drew and the other Wednesday night sitcoms - Coach, Ellen and Grace Under Fire. Titled "Viva Las Vegas," the idea was that characters from the four shows would be in Las Vegas for different reasons and encounter each other. Only a couple characters from each series did this, however, and they amounted to cameos at best. This series' contribution was "Drew Gets Married." Notably, Drew himself was the only one to appear in every show that night.
  • Depending on the Writer: Kate was usually the Only Sane Man of the group (even more so than Drew). But, there were a handful of episodes throughout the run where Kate could be as dim-witted or goofy as Lewis and Oswald.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Mimi constantly, starting all way back to the pilot episode where she lashes out at Drew for assuming he wasn't going to hire her based on her looks when all he did was tell her they would get back with her.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune:
    • Drew Carey himself sang the show's original theme tune, a cover of "Moon Over Parma".
    • Visiting Whose Line Is It Anyway? cast member Wayne Brady is asked to create a disco style theme for "Drew Live 2". Naturally, it manifests as a Shout-Out to Shaft.
  • Dominance Through Furniture: When Kate worked as Mrs. Lauder's personal assistant, the former was often used by the latter as a desk when she needed to write a quick memo. When Kate finds another job, she sings a happy-sounding quitting song, but when that job falls through, she begs Mrs. Louder for her job back by lying about an "impersonator" going around pulling pranks. Mrs. Lauder rehires Kate, and immediately puts her to work as a footstool.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name
    Mimi: Drew Allison Carey? God, all three of your names are girly.
    • And note that that is Drew's actual middle name.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Mr. Wick may be a Bad Boss, but when Mimi insults his mother over the phone, well let's just say he doesn't take it lightly:
    Mr. Wick: (Gives her a Death Glare) Mimi... I may be power-mad... I may be a corporate weasel... I may even be a sleazebag... but I am first, and foremost... a Mama's Boy.
    (Mimiís eyes widen)
    Mr. Wick: And you never, ever, insult the Mama of a Mamaís Boy.
    Mimi: Oh, crap. I went too far? (nervously) Okay, well, just give me the job, and Iíll be on my way.
    Mr. Wick: Iím not gonna give you anything! (starts to walk away, then stops) No... I take that back. Iím giving you a counter-suit for defamation of my character. Iíll battle you until the day I die! And after that, Iíll See You in Hell! YOUíLL KNOW ME! IíLL BE THE ONE STANDING THERE! WITH! MY! MUMMY!!!
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Played for Laughs in a Season 4 episode sees Sharon pranking Drew as "initiation" into the main group, but Drew believes the perpetrator to be Mimi and goes to the board room to have her formally fired...
    Mimi: "Listen, sister. Drew's blaming it on me and he's trying to have me fired. Either you fix it, or I'm going to do something so horrible, so painful...are you having sex with Drew?"
    Sharon: "Yeah."
    Mimi: "Oh, well I'm out then."
  • Feeling the Baby Kick: The Story Arc where Drew spends several months unemployed and/or working crappy jobs begins with Wick admitting that he squandered some of the company's money and telling Drew that the budget can be balanced if he fires one employee. Overjoyed, Drew goes over to Mimi's desk, but as he's about to fire her, Mimi says that she felt her baby (his nephew) kick her. Not wanting to be the guy who fired a pregnant woman, much less one carrying his brother's child, he looks for another employee to fire.
  • Fire Alarm Distraction: One episode had Drew trying to impress his new bosses by organizing a talent show. He attempted to do a one-man-band show but the audience naturally hate it. Oswald bails him out by hitting a fire alarm.
  • Flanderization:
    • Drew remained the everyman, but Oswald's stupidity, Lewis' oddness and Kate's promiscuity were ramped up. Mimi's make-up was just overdone and her clothing just poor fashion, later she practically wears clown make-up and aims to wear the most gawdy outfits imaginable.
    • While always a Bad Boss, Wick became more exaggerated and wacky as the seasons went by. During the Emmy Bait episode, Mimi points out that Wick is essentially a cartoon character. In one of the April Fool's episodes, during a Hee Haw reference, he uses his real accent to do a "SAAAALUTE!" to his home town.
  • Formally-Named Pet: Drew and Lewis bribe Oswald into voting to sell Buzz Beer by giving him a bunny. He immediately names it Commander Bun-Bun and starts to act like a Diabolical Mastermind with a Right-Hand Cat.
  • Formerly Fat: Drew's girlfriend Nikki Fifer. One of the reasons that she broke up with Drew was that being with him was causing her to start putting on weight again.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • Spot the Mistakes, every season around April Fools' Day; usually held as a contest.
    • The show also had a number of "theme episodes", or just simple seemingly out-of-place moments (such as a sudden musical number to resolve the serious A-plot), that would have some off-kilter take on things; this was due to Drew Carey having cannily signed a contract to produce the show for a set number of seasons and that protected it from a large amount of Executive Meddling, allowing him to do whatever the hell he wanted to a certain extent. It became infamous enough for these episodes that Weird Al even mentioned it in his song about TV:
      "-and a special all-Pig Latin episode of Drew Carey!"
  • Friendship-Straining Competition: In "Atomic Cat Fight", Drew accidentally promises Lisa and Kate the same job, and then finds out that Mimi has also been nominated for the position, leading to him arranging a contest between all three women and straining his relationships with them.
  • Fur and Loathing: An activist vandalized the store after pretending to be a buyer in order to get Drew to bring the fur coats within arm's reach. The manager of the fashion department was on a First-Name Basis with her.
  • Furry Fandom: A girl Drew dates in one episode turns out to be a furry.
  • Gag Penis: During "Dog and Pony Show", one of Drew's coworkers turned out to have one, as displayed behind the counter.
    Drew: (drains his beer) You think you'd be more popular...
  • The Ghost: Drew's first boss Mr. Bell. He was only ever heard yelling at Drew or others from his office until he was fired and then seen carrying out his belongings:
  • Generic Guy: Mr. Wick has fired countless employees simply named "Johnson".
  • Going to See the Elephant: In one episode, Drew and his friends visit Hershey, Pennsylvania just because they can smell the chocolate from the highway.
  • Groin Attack: Mr. Wick is shot in the crotch with a crossbow at one point, and has to have one of his testicles removed.
  • Halloween Episode: Three over nine seasons:
    • "The Devil You Say" (Season 2): Kate's latest boyfriend claims to be the Devil. When she off-handedly remarks she'd sell her soul for a soda, he intends to make her stick to it.
    • "Drew Tries to Kill Mimi" (Season 5): On Halloween, Mimi embarrasses Drew at the office, and he's so angry he threatens to kill her. When he gets distracted by a bee in his car, though, he nearly runs Mimi over in the parking lot and faces a police investigation.
    • "It's Halloween, Dummy" (Season 7): Winfred Louder's newest boss takes a liking to Drew and puts him in charge of a Halloween party for charity. More, he intends to implement Drew's ideas to improve the company and give him a promotion. So, of course, one of the scares at the party prompts a fatal heart-attack. To get his ideas implemented, Drew will have to make use of his new ventriloquism hobby.
  • Happier Home Movie: When Drew and Oswald were going to marry Nicky and Kate respectively, Drew announces he broke off his engagement to Nicky. when he gets home, he puts in the VCR the home made porn tape he and Nicky made days before when she takes off her clothes, she realizes she's become fat again,and blames Drew for regaining the weight she worked so hard to lose and keep off, and dumps him as a result.
  • Hard-Work Montage: In one episode, Drew, who had been playing in a band decides to go to the office to quit his job to go on tour with a band, the other employees beg him to stay and fix their healthcare which was left in shambles due to mismanagement by Mrs. Louder's boyfriend. Drew tries to refuse, but eventually decides to stay. What follows is a montage of Drew making calls and filling out forms to drive down the cost of the employees' health insurance from several hundred thousand dollars, according to a whiteboard. Eventually, Drew falls asleep from exhaustion, Mimi comes into his cubicle, makes an adjustment to a form he was filling out, and writes that insurance is now 25 cents. Drew wakes up, takes a quarter from his pocket, and the other employees cheer that he paid for their health plans.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Oswald and Lewis.
  • Historical Longevity Joke: One episode has Drew helping a senior member of the Winfred-Louder board write a speech. Drew suggests throwing in a joke about how the board member has been around for so long that he can remember when they used to great each other by saying "Hail Caesar!"
  • Hypocritical Humor: Mimi constantly made fun of Drew's weight, despite being obese herself.
  • I Am One of Those, Too: During the improv episode, Oswald is pretending to be German while talking to a bartender to see if she cheats him. She immediately says she was born in Germany and starts talking to him in German. He then says he is actually from a small town France called Germany. She then says she went to school in France for several years and starts speaking French.
  • I Call Him "Mister Happy": Oswald nicknamed his genitals "the Olsen twins".
  • Instant Turn-Off: There's an episode where Drew, Oswald, and Lewis try to watch scrambled porn because Drew believes that the cable company will turn him in if he has both Cartoon Network and porn channels. It turns out it's the surgery channel they're watching, not the porn channel.
  • Irony:
    • Drew finally managed to get Mimi fired by convincing Mr. Wick to put her into a cubicle, which she refused to do. Late, she and Drew's brother put their camper in his backyard and Drew discovered she was claustrophobic, which is a medical condition that would release her from the circumstances of why she was fired. When he learned that, he went crazy over the moral obligation and getting her out of his backyard vs. not having to deal with her at work.
    • Meta example: in the episode where the executive ignores Drew's speech and goes on a racist and homophobic rant, an Asian employee gripes that the speech offended him... on the grounds that Asians are ignored so much in corporate culture, and society in general, that they are overlooked when it comes to racist insults. Neither the character nor the actor portraying him were seen or heard from again for the remainder of the series.
  • Jealous Romantic Witness: In one episode, Drew and Lisa's relationship is threatened by a new company policy forbidding relationships between managers and employees. In an effort to hide their relationship, Drew enlists his buddy Jay to pose as Lisa's boyfriend, which leads to him being forced to watch her kiss Jay, which pisses him off.
  • Jerkass:
    • On Lewis, Ryan Stiles has said that he's "less of a character and more a jerk".
    • Mimi as well. This trope describes practically her entire character, although she certainly has her share of Pet the Dog moments.
  • Karma Houdini: Mimi has gotten away with a number of things, including sending Drew to China. When he returned, he burned her desk down to its frame. She was very scared by his subsequent threats of retribution. The one time he acted officially to get her fired for a prank that embarrassed him and the company, it turned out his girlfriend at the time was responsible.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The show saw a number of major differences in its last two seasons, especially the final season. Many of the show's major characters were written off for various different reasons; Drew, Mimi, and Mr. Wick are now working for an entirely different company (Mr. Wick in particular is now a janitor and tries working his way back up to the top of the corporate ladder); the show goes through three different new theme songs; the show switched from a multi-camera Studio Audience format to a single-camera Laugh Track format, which also resulted in Chaos Architecture with the sets; and plots became a tad absurd, such as Mimi's house being burned down to force her into moving in with Drew.
  • Lipstick Mark: In one episode, Drew discovers that there is a club of Winfred-Lauder employees who hate him. One of them hates him because on the night he was going to propose to his girlfriend, Drew turned up the collar on his shirt. Drew left a red stain on his collar from the jelly doughnut he was eating. His girlfriend thought it was lipstick and broke up with him.
  • Live Episode: The cast from Drew Carey-hosted Whose Line Is It Anyway?- Colin Mochrie, Wayne Brady, Chip Esten, Greg Proops and Brad Sherwood - guest started in three live shows and got help from the "Whose Line?" musicians in each.
  • Loud of War: The episode "A House Reunited" has Mimi attempting to drive Drew out of his house by loudly playing "Panama" for three days.
  • Man-Made House Flood: Drew has a crush on a (female) plumber, and punctures a pipe so he can call her and get her to come round to his house.
  • MayĖDecember Romance: One of Drew's relationships. It gets deconstructed in one episode when Drew's parents and the woman's adult son find out.
  • Mean Boss: Mr. Wick. He frequently fires random workers and takes great pleasure in doing so.
    (telling a bedtime story) "Once upon a time... Hopkins was fired."
  • Meaningful Name: In real life, Drew is a name of Scottish origin that means "Manly".
  • Medium-Shift Gag: Often employed during the April Fools episodes, where characters are suddenly rendered as marionettes, sock puppets and even The Sims.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: While searching through the titular company of the "DrugCo" episode, the gang come across a monkey and hippo hybrid dubbed a Monkapotamus.
  • Morton's Fork: Oh, the lengths Mr. Wick will go to get somebody fired... In one episode, he tells Johnson to pick a hand. One hand has "You're fired" written on it. The other hand? "You're fired"!
  • Musical Episode: While several episodes include a big, musical number, Season 4's "Drew's Dance Party" is a clip show made up (aside from the framing scenes) of musical numbers.
  • Never My Fault: Nikki breaks up with Drew because she blames him for her weight gain, saying she went from Formerly Fat to just plain fat by being around someone "who loves to eat." It didn't occur to her that Drew didn't exactly force her to eat any food, nor did his weight balloon out of control during this period.
  • Nothing but Skin and Bones: Subverted in an episode. Drew is on a hunger strike and when Mr. Wick comes to see him at home, Wick finds Drew lying on the couch due to lack of energy and is now extremely skinny. But it turns out that Drew knew Wick was coming over and he got an assist from a pizza delivery man who is naturally extremely skinny. The pizza guy is willing to help because Drew on a hunger strike is costing him business. They lay on the couch together, covered by a blanket, arranged in a way that it looks like Drew's head is on the other guy's body.
  • Not Helping Your Case: In Drew in Court, Drew acts in a very unprofessional manner, and his witnesses (his friends) are so incompetent that Drew yells "Objection!" to Kate, even though she's his witness. The judge even lampshades this near the end, with a What the Hell, Hero? comment.
    Judge: Mr. Carey, I'd just like to remind you that the person who did the most damage to your case was you.
  • Oblivious to Love: In the first live episode, Drew is oblivious to Eugene's not-so-subtle gestures of affection towards him, and even mistakes them for him trying to get to Kate through him, until Eugene finally kisses him.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: After Gus was born, Mimi insisted on being sugary sweet and never raising her voice in his presence. The baby proceeded to cry and fuss whenever she held him. Drew reasons it's because Gus spent months listening to the loud and obnoxious Mimi and thus doesn't recognize her polite self.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Craig Ferguson intentionally used an over-the-top English accent that he frequently slipped in and out of as a Take That! to all the English actors who put on bad Scottish accents.
  • Orphaned Punchline: The very first line of the series. The camera pans across the bar and winds up on Lewis, who's telling Oswald:
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Mimi was nice around Drew when her baby was born, but since she treated Drew normally while pregnant, the baby thought she was someone else when acting nice.
  • Parachute in a Tree: Tim Allen (As Himself) gets stuck in the tree in Drew's back yard after a failed parachute publicity stunt. Drew doesn't cut him down since the idea of having a celebrity stuck in your tree is funnier than letting him leave.
  • Parody Assistance: When the producers were going to do an episode making fun of sci-fi conventions and the fans who go to them in costume, they wanted to have a couple of characters dress up as aliens from Babylon 5. The creators of B5 agreed... and sent their own makeup people to do the alien makeup effects (it helped that both series were produced by Warner Bros.).
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Mimi's offbeat Fairytale Wedding Dress.
  • The Problem with Pen Island: In one episode, Mrs. Lauder sends Drew a gift with a note. When Oswald reads it, he thinks it's a dirty note, until Drew points out it says "pen is."
  • Put on a Bus: Lisa and Jay were written out of the show early in season 2. The Bus Came Back with Jay, who made a re-appearance in season 5's "Drew and Kate Boink."
  • Racist Grandma:
    • In one episode, Drew wrote a speech for one of the store's owners to highlight how well they were doing. Said owner, an old white man, took the speech Off the Rails and went on a racist and homophobic rant, and thanked Drew for writing his speech. Drew was not happy.
    • In an earlier episode, Drew wanted to quit his dead end job and asked his dad to talk to one of his friends if there were openings in any of the companies they worked in. Drew ultimately refused any job offers from them, when he discovered that his dad's lodge buddies, old white men, excluded ethnic minorities from their club, and spent all their time in the lodge telling racist jokes.
  • Real Fake Wedding: One episode saw Drew impulsively marrying a woman he met in Vegas. He thought it was just a gag (the priest was dressed as Jimi Hendrix), but it turned out to be legally-binding; the woman was stuck in a custody battle with her ex-husband, and hoped that marrying Drew would help her keep her kids.
  • Really Gets Around:
    • In high school Kate was so promiscuous that she was nicknamed "Give It Away Kate."
    • In season 2 Kate dates a man who claims to be the Devil (and the fact that he's prescient and supernaturally good at pool gives credibility to his claim). When he reveals that he believes Kate is a virgin and he's going to own her soul, Drew informs him that Kate is most definitely not a virgin. Angered, the maybe-Satan leaves when he realizes he's not going to own a virgin soul.
  • Recursive Crossdressing: Parodied in "Drew's Inheritance," which centered on the wacky hijinks resulting from the will of the Careys' late eccentric television-and-movies-obsessed Uncle Cecil. Each potential recipient had to fulfill a condition somehow relating to a favored movie. His condition for Steve Carey was to dress like a woman pretending to be a man. Generally a Wholesome Crossdresser, Steve wore a suit for the will reading and remarks that he's already fulfilled the condition. The executor comments that Uncle Cecil didn't think that one through very far.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: "Moon Over Parma" to "Five O'Clock World" by The Vogues to "Cleveland Rocks" by Presidents of the United States of America. The final two seasons ended up alternating between all three tunes (albeit having gotten new groups to record new spins of them).
  • Retool: When Drew finally leaves abusive corporation Winfred Lauder for an incompetent Internet startup.
  • Reunion Revenge: The episode where the gang goes to their high school reunion provides two examples. The biggest one was Oswald finding himself stripped and bound to a bed by "Porky" Parker, an overweight girl at the time who he had a fling with but then denied all knowledge of - and who was now slim, attractive, and out to humiliate him. A low-key example landed on Kate, who made explicit her desire to find someone with money when talking to the other members of Oswald's barbershop quartet. Their response in song:
    ♪ You never talked to us in high school ♪
    ♪ Why should we give a damn now? ♪
  • RevengeSVP: A new co-worker invites every single person at Winfred Louder to a huge party he's hosting, except Drew and Mimi. So the two team up to crash the party and ruin everyone's fun. Except it turns out Drew was invited. The guy throwing the party had planted invitations in every pocket in Drew's suit while doing an embarrassing magic trick in the office. Drew just never checked his pockets and thought he was being made fun of. When Mimi asks where her invitation was hidden, though, she finds out she really wasn't invited. Nobody likes her because she's mean
  • Right Behind Me:
    • Drew hates Wick's idea to wear costumes to work in The Devil You Say" and goes on a rant about how stupid it is. When he realizes Wick has just walked up behind him, Drew attempts to cover with, "And then I said..."
    • Mimi has a similar thing happen when she's making fun of Drew for wearing a suit and tie on casual day, only for Mr. Wick to exit his office while she's talking. Also in a suit and tie.
  • Right on the Tick: songs "Five O'clock World" and "Cleveland Rocks."
  • Road Trip Plot: An episode has the main cast piling into the Buzz Beer van and travelling to New York in an attempt to sell the beer outside a baseball game.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: When Daffy Duck made a surprise appearance.
  • Running Gag: Every employee Mr. Wick callously fires on-screen is named Johnson.
  • Secretly Wealthy: In the episode "Y2K, You're Okay," the the gang withdraws their life savings in fear of the upcoming event. It turns out that Lewis had $37,000 in his account.
    Drew: $37,000!? Mister "Hey, I'm a little short this week, can I borrow a buck?"
    Lewis: I must've said that, what, 37,000 times?
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: In an episode when Drew wanted to quit his job, he asked his dad to talk to his friends if there were any job openings in their companies. Drew refused their offers of a better salaried position when he found out that his dad's lodge buddies excluded Jews and minorities from joining the club, and spent their time telling racist jokes.
  • Secret Test of Character: Drew is stuck with a choice of giving the new head personal shopper job to either his girlfriend Lisa or his best friend Kate. He tests them by having them both try and dress Mimi. Kate does a fine job, putting Mimi in very lovely and professional business attire that actually makes her look normal. Lisa put Mimi in a ridiculous rainbow dress with a rotating solar system hat. Drew ends up declaring Lisa the winner because Mimi loved her outfit and hated Kate's choice, and personal shoppers are supposed to get things customers will want to buy.
  • Sexy Coat Flashing: Drew does it to surprise Kate when the two are dating. Unfortunately, Kate has organised a surprise dinner with her grandparents.
  • Sham Wedding: In "Drew's Inheritance", Drew and Kate throw together a fake wedding to try and claim an inheritance from Drew's uncle.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Drew's Ghoulardi shirts. The show's first theme song "Moon Over Parma" was actually written by a Ghoulardi fan and performed on his show.
    • In "Drewstock" when Special Guest Bernie Kosar tells Drew that a red-headed girl is looking for him, Drew replies "Good Grief!"
    • The fursuiter Amy who Drew goes on a blind date with seems to borrow her name (and fursona) from Sabrina Online's Amy Squirrel.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Mimi. Double points for being a Fashion-Victim Villain.
  • Sleeping Their Way to the Top: Recurring character Larry owes his entire career to his willingness to sleep with the elderly Mrs. Louder.
  • Speaking Simlish: Seen Here Upon the show opening the characters speak in "blah, blah" form with a talk bubble showing the meaning. (Drew Carey has a cameo appearance in the original Sims game).
  • St. Patrick's Day Episode: "The Sex Drug" takes place on St. Patrick's Day, with the plot being Mimi's sexual harassment lawsuit going to court, but Drew proves to be an unreliable witness when he turns up to court under the influence of a sex drug (from Lewis's work Drug Co) that he had taken inadvertently. Nigel Wick apologizes to Mimi and tries to convince her to return to work and abandon the scam.
  • Sweater Girl: Oswald's mom remembers how when she used to hug other boys, they tended to breathe faster. Drew admits it was her tight angora sweater, with the plunging neckline.
  • Take a Third Option: One plotline had Drew refusing to sell out to developers who had already bought out his neighbors because he didn't want to let the house he grew up in be demolished. They eventually agree to just move the house.
  • Talk to the Hand:
    Steve: Bro, I wanted to tell you something for a long time...I play for the other team.
    Lewis Kiniski: I knew it, he's gay.
    Steve: No, I mean the other softball team. And, if you think I'm gay, well... talk to the hand [sticks out his hand].
    Lewis Kiniski: [to Steve's hand] Oh, hello.
  • Tempting Fate: In one of the episodes where Drew is being sued for putting up a cartoon that was deemed ofensive, Drew convinces Kate to talk to an ex-boyfriend that happens to be a (sleazy) lawyer. Drew is convinced that he will help him win the case. Lewis tells him not to be so smug and tempt faith, Drew screams at faith to go and give him its best shot. Kate then pushes the guy off, and tells him to stay away from her. The lawyer storms off, and tells her that Drew will likely lose the case. Kate then apologizes to Drew for costing him a lawyer, but she refuses to give him another shot.
  • Testing the Love Interest: When Oswald and Kate were dating, he and Drew decided to subtly do this by casually asking their respective girlfriends questions during a double-date from a dating quiz questionnaire, complete with an on-screen score. In the end, Oswald and Kate scored a 3 while Drew and his girlfriend had -10.
  • Thanking the Viewer: At the end of the series finale, Drew pauses while barbecuing to look at a camera in the sky and says simply, "It's been fun," before the camera zooms out.
  • Theme Tune: All three openings used - "Moon Over Parma", "Five O'Clock World", and "Cleveland Rocks" - are also Real Song Theme Tunes.
  • Threat Backfire: While attempting to get Drew to sell his house, Wick says they will just build a mall around him, but the mall plans put his house between a movie theater, an ice cream parlor, and a lingerie shop.
    Wick: Who the hell built this model?!
  • A Threesome Is Hot: Drew has the opportunity, but falls asleep first.
  • Title Sequence Replacement: The "Cleveland Rocks" Title Sequence is the only one used in syndicated reruns.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Lewis takes on this role in the later seasons. When Drew has his near-death experience, he asks an angel (played by Ben Stein) if his friends will get into Heaven. The angel tells him all but one will. Drew immediately and correctly guesses Lewis won't make it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Oswald. A total exaggeration of the typical sitcom dumb friend.
  • Truth in Television: There really are coffee flavored beers, except they're usually dark stouts or porters, and not ales like Buzz Beer is normally presented as.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Used straight and subverted countless times—Drew's hooked up with Wanda Sykes and an aged Mrs Partridge, but has also slept with characters played by Jenny McCarthy, Christa Miller, and more. Unusual for the trope, it's made clear that Drew dates mostly on the basis of an actual relationship and not simply looks. In a high school reunion episode, the (still attractive) cheerleader who used to mock him was suddenly attracted to him because he was a respectable guy with a steady job. And some would say Sykes and Mrs Partridge are still hot. In the literal sense, he ends the series married to Cynthia Watros.
  • Uncanny Valley Makeup:
    • Mimi. Enough said. She's even the picture for this Trope's page.
    • Tammi Faye Baker played her mother at one point for good reason.
  • Variations on a Theme Song:
  • Very Special Episode: Parodied, alongside Oscar Bait material with Cerebus Syndrome-type stories.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Later seasons showed that Drew and Mimi really know each other better than any of their friends, and by the last season they basically admitted it to each other. Mimi even became family by marrying his brother and in the last season when his brother was caught having an affair, Drew took Mimi's side.
    • There's even an episode where they randomly meet on an anonymized Internet chat site and start to develop an online romance (neither is involved with anyone at the time). When Drew figures it out, he is somewhat traumatized.
  • The Voice: Drew's first boss, until he was fired and finally appeared after cleaning out his desk.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Oswald's lost son turned up in an episode. After that, he was never seen again, nor mentioned.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Drew's brother Steve, one of the few Western examples of this trope.
  • William Telling: Mr. Wick decides to get an extra laugh out of firing Johnson. He hands him a crossbow and says that he's fired unless Johnson can shoot an apple off of his head. When Johnson pulls the trigger, a flag that says "You're Fired" drops down from the arrow. When Johnson shifts the the crossbow in his hand to be able to read the flag better, he hits the trigger again, firing the arrow and hitting Mr. Wick in the, um... goodybag.
  • Wondrous Ladies Room:
    Larry: How come there's no couch in the men's room?
    Drew: If there was, would you want to lay on it?
  • The Worst Seat in the House: Drew, Oswald and Lewis were all going after the same girl. Drew and Oswald each got tickets for a concert. Drew's were "obstructed view" but he managed to convince Oswald that that was better and traded tickets with him.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: On one episode, parodying The Full Monty, Drew and the boys form a strip act in order to earn enough money to replace a prize-winning breeding dog they accidentally had neutered.