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Like your family was so cool in the 80s.

"When it comes to my childhood, I may not always remember exactly when something happened or exactly who was there. But I do know that it was nineteen eighty-something and it...was...awesome. "
Adam Goldberg
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The Goldbergs is an American period sitcom on ABC. The first episode premiered on September 24, 2013 to a viewing audience of 8.94 million viewers. The show revolves around the life of 12-year-old Adam Goldberg and his family during the 1980s. He regularly has to deal with his older sister Erica, older brother and middle child Barry, as well as his parents Beverly and Murray. His maternal grandfather "Pops" is also a member of the main cast. The show features a mix of traditional camerawork as well as "home footage" taken from Adam's camera.

Not to be confused with the old time radio/sitcom The Goldbergs from the early 50s. Or maybe not... A spin-off of the series, Schooled, debuted in January 2019.


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The show provides the following tropes:

  • The '80s
  • '80s Hair: Beverly.
  • Absentee Actor: Troy Gentile (Barry) doesn't appear in "Mister Knifey-Hands".
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • Adam's gym teacher, Mr. Mellor, keeps calling him Goldfarb, even when his name's written on the gym shirt. It's only until Adam does one pull-up on the fitness test that the gym teacher calls him Goldberg. This becomes a Running Gag as time goes on. Every so often the main conflict of the show is Adam vs. Mellor. Once Adam masters the particular skill Mr. Mellor wants him to, he calls Adam by his real name.
    • Mellor, however, consistently refers to Erica and Barry as "Goldberg".
    Mellor: (To Adam) "Nice one, Goldfarb!" (to Barry, right after) "Walk it off, Goldberg!"
    • Happens with Pop-Pop calling Adam "Barry."
  • Acoustic License: Averted in "Bachelor Party" when Barry, Adam and the JTP go to a nightclub, and the music is so loud it renders their dialogue inaudible to the audience, so it has to be subtitled.
  • Advertisement:
  • Actor Allusion: Rick Springfield plays the karaoke bar owner in "RAD!", so naturally "Jessie's Girl" gets played a lot.
  • Actually A Good Idea: Uncle Marvin buys the Goldberg kids beepers. Barry decided to use his to set up a grass mowing business. Erica is about to criticize him before admitting it's not a bad idea. On the other hand, Barry's advertisement promises to cater to his customers' "grass needs" which he doesn't realize has another meaning.
  • The Ace: Ruben Amaro, Jr, even to the point he plays Ball Ball better than Barry does!
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Adam's actor's hair is significantly lighter than the real Adam F. Goldberg's.
  • Adorkable: Adam and Barry. Flashbacks show that Erica used to be this.
    Adam Goldberg: I was so excited for my dad to get home I could barely enjoy my algebra homework.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Many characters constantly learn the same lessons again and again. This is explained by the fact that Adam is always jumbling everything up in his narration, explaining such things as seeing 1983's WarGames in theaters only a few episodes before seeing 1989's The Wizard in theaters in the exact same season.
  • Affectionate Nickname : Beverly refers to all her kids as "schmoopie" or "boopie."
  • The Alleged Car: Murray's car in "Bachelor Party", whose doors didn't open, making car pooling impossible for Bev when she has to use it. She buys him a Bitter, a rare Austrian sports car, to replace it; Murray at first wanted to return it, but changed his mind when people started complimenting it. Then it breaks down shortly afterwards, and because it's so rare, it's impossible to find parts for it, so it remained undriveable from then on.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents:
    • Beverly, of course. Murray also has his moments.
    • Pops still can embarrass his daughter, Beverly.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: The family is named Goldberg, and a lot of stereotypical Jewish slang is used, but it's never a plot point, nor is the word "Jewish" ever used to describe the Goldbergs.
    • The family is not troubled by kosher law—Beverly prides herself on shellfish and they practically lived in their local Chinese restaurant where Barry had a dish, containing an excess of pork, named after him. On the other hand, this isn't particularly indicative—a lot of Jews in the 1980s (as today!) were not only Reform, but more or less completely non-religious, and ate pork regularly.
      • In "Dinner With The Goldbergs", where the Goldbergs are The Family From Hell in a restaurant note , Pops makes it clear that he observes kashrut law. Beverly orders shellfish anyway.
    • In one episode where Adam and Dana have to take care of a Cabbage Patch Kid for health class, Beverly butts in trying to be the best bubbie, or grandmother.
    • Erica wants her stage name to be "Riki Gold" because "Goldberg is ... you know."
    • "A Christmas Story" confirms that the Goldbergs celebrate Hanukkah. Their neighbors the Kremps are awkwardly unsure about whether inviting a neighbouring family of a clearly different cultural background to Christmas celebrations is giving offence.
    Hello...Goldbergs! We've been expecting you! Happy Chris... Winter Fest.... Yule....
    • In the episode "Tasty Boys", Barry and Adam mention that the members of the Beastie Boys are fellow "members of the tribe".
    • In "The Dirty Dancing Dance", Murray mentions that he stepped on a glass at his wedding.
    • In "Big Orange," Barry pays Adam and Erica to investigate who destroyed his favorite shirt with $7000, all of it being his Bar Mitzvah money.
    • In "Fiddler", Murray calls the Jewish cast of Fiddler on the Roof "our people" when insisting that Adam play the lead role in an upcoming school production.
  • Anachronism Stew: The show refuses to say specific years, as each episode begins with present-day Adam saying the date followed by "1980-something".
    • The exact year is deliberately left ambiguous. For instance in one episode Adam and Pops are wearing Ghostbusters costumes, which would put the time 1985 or later. But in another episode Murray is watching the Phillies in the World Series which would put it in either 1980 or 1983. Yet everyone is the exact same age.
    • The pop culture (obsession with The Karate Kid, for example) would place it around 1984-1986, yet Barry wanted "pump" running shoes, which weren't introduced until 1989.
    • And then an episode takes place with the theatrical debut of Return of the Jedi as a plot point, which was released in 1983.note 
    • Staying with movies, one episode involves Adam wanting to see Poltergeist while Beverly suggests The Great Mouse Detective; they came out in 1982 and 1986 respectively. To be fair, Adam said Poltergeist was playing in the dollar theater, so it was probably a re-release.
    • Another episode takes place on Adam's birthday, showing Murray Goldberg and Pops watching Geraldo Rivera "Al Capone's Vault" special. The special aired April 21, 1986.
    • The Thanksgiving episode features Uncle Marvin buying a DeLorean. Early on, Adam asks Marvin if it can travel through time, an obvious nod to Back to the Future, but later on Pops hears news reports on the arrest of John DeLorean for drug trafficking. That happened in October 1982, three years before Back to the Future premiered.
    • One episode involves the Mondale-Reagan presidential election of 1984. This same episode also mentions America's Funniest Home Videos, the premiere special of which aired in 1989,note  and American Gladiators, which also premiered in '89.
    • However, the most egregious example would come from "The Adam Bomb", which has the fall of the Berlin Wall (which occurred, albeit in 1989, in November) take place in April.
      • Likewise, the Ferris Bueller's Day Off episode, which has homecoming take place in April. The Homecoming game is the first game a football team plays at their home school, as opposed to away. By April, football season is over.
    • The usual "April Nineteen Eighty-Something" date isn't given in Season 3's "A Kick-Ass Risky Business Party." However, Martika's "Toy Soldiers" plays as a running theme throughout the episode, and it was released in January of 1989. The ending shows Adam and Dana watching Halley's Comet, which last appeared Feb. 9, 1986.
    • Lampshaded in an episode that shows the Times Square New Year's Eve ball dropping on TV. Right as the year is being shown, Barry stands in front of the screen, blocking the final digit. Done similarly in the season 4 finale, where Erica's graduation cake reads, "Class of 198_," where the last digit has been sliced out of the cake.
    • The closest any character comes to explicitly mentioning the year is in the episode "Wingmom". During a conversation with Adam, Erica tells him that Pops is 80 years old, and that he was born in 1903...you do the math. (The creator states that this exchange was worded very carefully however, so as to leave open the possibility that it was an exaggeration.)
    • The episode "The Darryl Dawkins Dance" revolves around Adam watching The Transformers: The Movie in the cinema, and the movie was released in 1986, but in the same episode a Fortress Maximus figure is shown in Adam's Transformers collection, which was released only one year later, in 1987.
    • In "Stefan King," As part of the Misery Whole Plot Reference, Adam begs Beverly not to break his ankles, referencing one of the most famous scenes in the movie. However, that scene replaced a different scene in the original novel, where Annie cuts off Paul's foot instead. The novel was released in 1987, while the film was not out until November of 1990.
    • In one episode, there's a quick display of a small flag of South Africa. It's the current flag with a sideways Y that's been used since 1994. The South African flag flown in the '80s had three horizontal stripes with three smaller flags in the center.
    • In the episode “Agassi”, Barry goes on about Andre Agassi’s “mullet”. While the hairstyle was popular in the ‘80s (and worn by Andre Agassi), the term for it was invented by the Beastie Boys for their 1994 song “Mullet Head”.
  • Angry Dance: In "The Dirty Dancing Dance", Barry encourages Erica to do one like on Footloose, and demonstrates by doing the warehouse dance in the school gym.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling:
    • Barry and Erica sometimes see Adam as this.
    • And Erica sees Barry as such, too.
    • Murray's younger brother is this.
  • April Fools' Plot: "The Adam Bomb", in which an Escalating War against the Goldberg brothers gets out of hand.
  • As Himself: "Weird Al" Yankovic appears as himself in the episode "Weird Al."
  • Ascended Extra: Geoff started out as just one of Barry's occasionally-appearing friend crew, and was promoted to main cast when he became Erica's steady boyfriend.
  • Bad Liar: Barry couldn't lie his way out of a wet paper bag to save his life.
  • Band Geek: Johnny Atkins is this.
  • Based on a True Story: The whole show is basically Adam Goldberg's video autobiography of his life in The '80s. Proven with the Real Life videos at the end of each and every episode (or, ocasionally, interviews with the now older Real Life counterparts of the characters).
  • Batman Gambit: Adam gets Murray to buy him a fencing sword by taking up the fencing team. All so he can have a prop for his Princess Bride scenes.
    • One episode has Barry and his friends get Adam to try and hack the school computer to change their grades. Adam doesn't know how, so he tricks them into actually studying for the history test.
    • Happens again on "In Conclusion, Thanksgiving" when Adam finds out that Murray gets teary-eyed listening to "Cat's in the Cradle," using it to get a new lens for his camera. Beverly finds out and uses it to have Murray invite Pop-Pop over for Thanksgiving.
  • Big Brother Bully: Barry has been shown to be this to Adam, but lets him take off his glasses first and never actually hurts him. He goes full throttle in "For Your Own Good" when Adam asks him to be his bodyguard on the school bus and Barry becomes the new bully instead.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Barry's advice to Adam is...usually not very good.
  • Bilingual Backfire: In 'The President's Fitness Test,' Erica has a French exchange student over. Barry has Erica translate pick-up lines for him, only for her to mess around with it. Eventually, Pops can't stand it and tells Barry what he's been saying, much to both his and Erica's surprise.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In the pilot, Beverly tells the cop who arrests Pops and the boys "Memorize this face. it will haunt your dreams!" The same cop later appears several times throughout the series, always frightened and/or annoyed when Beverly arrives.
    • In the episode "Cowboy Country", while Bill and Murray argue about which football team is the best, Barry says, "Can't we all agree the Giants suck?" In the later episode "Bill/Murray," after Barry and Lainey were kissing in the broom closet, Bill and Murray have to visit principal Ball. Ball reveals he is a fan of the Giants, to which Bill and Murray start laughing, saying that they suck. This starts their friendship.
    • In "Edward 'Eddie the Eagle' Edwards", Adam and Barry get in an argument over the difference in sounds between Sarcastic Clapping and actual applause after Barry mistakes Adam's sarcastic clapping for applause. Later, in "Have a Summer", they get in another argument over what showers sound like after Barry makes a shower sound when threatening to put Adam in the locker rooms showers for Freshman Fear Week.
    • The Heart song "Alone" is heard when Geoff is longing for an uninterested Erica in season 2. Two seasons later, it is used again when the situation is reversed.
    • In "Sixteen Candles", Ruben accidentally makes a hole on Adam's floor and covers it up with a rug. In The Stinger, Adam tricks Barry into stepping on the hole.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: In "The Beverly Goldberg Cookbook", Beverly starts speaking like Julia Child while shooting a video on her cookbook.
  • Brutal Honesty: Murray is blunt about the truth, especially when it comes to Barry being a moron.
  • Butt-Monkey: Barry is shown to be this at times, sometimes at his own doing.
    • Adam is just as likely to get his own moments as well.
  • Calling Me a Logarithm: Adam is confused when Beverly mashes up Nintendo and Atari to make Nintardo.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Barry does this when performing his version of "kara-te". Lampshaded by Adam:
    Adam: You know, I was thinking, it might be better if you didn't call out your moves first.
  • Calvinball: Ball-Ball, a completely nonsensical game with a foam football that Adam and Barry made up. The many, many rules are made up so Barry can win every single time.
  • Casual Sports Jersey: Barry mostly wears a sports jersey that he nicknames Big Orange. When his mother and girlfriend "accidentally" damage it, he has a mental breakdown and claims that he'll never be happy again.
  • Celebrity Lie: When Beverly becomes regional manager for Hands Across America, she claims that she got Scott Baio to come to convince Barry and Erica to take part. When she can't, she claims to have gotten a bigger celebrity - a Benjamin Franklin impersonator.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Charlie Sheen shows up in the "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" parody episode reprising his role from the film. A funny cameo, but logically confusing considering that the movie exists as fiction in the show and the characters have seen it.
    • According to Word of God, the show's creators take this trope into consideration whenever they cast a big-name actor to appear as a character.
  • Chirping Crickets: Happens in "Let's Val Kilmer This Car" when Barry asks Matt on how he's going to take Lainey to prom. Justified due to Johnny Atkins releasing crickets in the school as a senior prank.
  • Comedic Underwear Exposure: Murray takes off his pants as soon as he gets home and lounges around in his shirt and briefs.
  • Comic-Book Time: A variation, as the characters do age but not in any way that could be considered consistent. For example, in season one Adam is directly stated to be in seventh grade, and Erica is implied to be in eleventh grade (tenth at the lowest). Despite this, Adam doesn't graduate middle school for three years, and despite the three years of progression Erica is still a senior when he enters high school. This is justified by the "1980-something" setting of the show, implying that Adam is mixing up some details in the story.
  • Continuity Nod: A brief reference to Erica's fake ID from "Love Is a Mix Tape" occurs in "Lucky."
  • Cool Old Guy: Pops, of course.
  • Coordinated Clothes: In "Couple Costumes", Adam and Dana dress as the alien and Ripley from Alien, respectively, for Halloween. It is also revealed that Beverly always dressed to match Adam's costume against his wishes; this year she went as the Predator, using the Alien vs. Predator comic book as an excuse. (Adam chose Alien thinking it was mom-proof.)
    • In "Stefan King," Barry puts on an Audrey II costume, to Erica's Audrey. His original plan was to be Harry
    • In "Mister Knifey-Hands", Geoff wants Erica and him to dress as a package of Halls cough drops and a can of Quaker Oats, so they can go as Hall & Oates. he also suggests similar pun-related costumes.
  • Crossover: "The Wedding Singer" confirms that the show takes place in the same universe as The Wedding Singer, up to and including Barry and Lainey winding up on the same plane where Robbie serenades Julia with "Grow Old With You".
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Pops has his lapses in judgment, but the man is a World War II veteran and gives good advice sometimes.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In-universe and in real life, this was pretty much what the 1984 presidential election was for Erica, with Walter Mondale winning only one state.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Or in Adam's case, broke his arm dancing to George Michael on camera.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates:
    • Barry is this to Lainey after her father forbids her from dating him after her father, a Dallas Cowboys fan, is insulted by Barry and Murray, who are diehard Philadelphia Eagles fans.
    • One episode has Erica dating Johnny Atkins who really irks Murray because the guy transparently wants the one thing from Erica.
  • Dawson Casting: In Season 1, we already have 20-year-old Troy Gentile and 19-year-old Hayley Orrantia as high school-aged Barry and Erica, with Erica ironically being the older sibling in-universe. In Season 2, we now have 21-year-old Gentile and 20-year-old Orrantia. And now it's been renewed for a third season...
  • Dedication:
    • The season 1 episode, "A Wrestler Named Goldberg", was dedicated to The Ultimate Warrior.
    • The season 3 episode, "Big Orange", was dedicated to Ed Snider, the founder of the Philadelphia Flyers.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: In the talent show episode Christmas decorations are on display in the school gym, but no mention is ever made of it, and it has no bearing on the plot. Also, there are no decorations at the Goldberg's house. (See Ambiguously Jewish above.)
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Barry and Lainey cancel their wedding because they both realize they were marrying too young. Older Adam points out that they will cross paths again, but as of the series they are no longer a couple.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Invoked on "Yippee-Ki-Yay, Melon Farmer", as Adam and Marvin discuss their own Die Hard film, and Adam presents a long line of these as potential plots. Eventually, they do "Die Hard on a Treehouse" as a proof of concept trailer.
  • The Ditz: Barry.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "I Lost In Jeopardy", Erica treats applying to game shows like she was applying to colleges.
  • Domestic Appliance Disaster: In "Smother's Day", Barry and Erica try to make Beverly breakfast in bed after forgetting Mother's Day. Unfortunately, all they manage to do is set the kitchen on fire. Bev is touched nonetheless that they at least made an effort.
  • The Dreaded: Beverly's got this reputation at her kids' school, especially to Principal Ball.
  • Dreadful Musician: Adam gets the lead in the school play, despite his cracking voice. He does, however, have enthusiastic dance moves.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The show originally featured a lot of "found footage" taken from Adam's compulsive camerawork which is something the real Adam did a lot (this is where the footage at the end of episodes comes from). However this was abandoned towards the end of the first season and the real aspects are usually before the credits.
    • The first episode had Pops cause a car crash due to the implied start of Alzheimer's disease. This aspect of the character was severely toned down and he became more of a typical Cool Old Guy.
    • In the pilot, Murray has a heart condition that forces him to stop yelling and take deep breaths whenever he gets too mad. After that episode it is never mentioned again.
    • The pilot had a gimmick of translating Murray's thoughts with onscreen subtitles, showing that he meant his rants and insults with love. This was heavily featured in the advertisments leading up to the show's premiere. It was gone by the second episode.
    • Also in the first episode, Adam talks about wanting to learn to "get freaky" not wanting to die before he cops a feel, and and wanting Waffle Girls "Sweet Delicate Boobs". That element of even minor horn dog, was never seen after that. Probably for the better.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Barry anytime he tries to teach Adam about being a man.
  • Egg Sitting: Done with Cabbage Patch Kids dolls in "Happy Mom, Happy Life". The conflict arises when Beverly sees this as an early chance to be doting grandma, and utterly takes over the assignment from Adam and Dana.
  • Embarrassing Damp Sheets: One of the mistranslated lines in Barry's French song in "The President's Fitness Test" is shown to us on screen as "I pee-peed the bed!".
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: In "The Adam Bomb," Barry plasters one of these all over Adam's room. The real one is shown in the credits of the episode.
  • Everyone Is Christian at Christmas: To show up the Kremps, Beverly turns Hanukkah into "Super Hanukkah", which basically turns it into Christmas. Pops is not too happy about it.
  • Exact Words: In one episode, Beverly promises to Principal Ball she won't show up at the school to talk with him about anything. She later shows up outside his kitchen while he's eating dinner with his family.
  • Family Title
  • Fan Dumb: In-Universe, Murray is the Chicken Little version of this trope when it comes to his favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles. He considers the season over on the first play of the first game.
  • Fix It in Post: Adam keeps saying it while shooting his movie in "Adam Spielberg". By the end it becomes a Madness Mantra, as he is left with no usable footage to fix.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling:
    • Erica is the most responsible of the Goldberg children, usually having to help Barry and/or Adam out of trouble.
    • Adam can be either foolish or responsible. When dealing with Erica, he's usually the fool; when dealing with Barry he's usually responsible.
    • Barry is the least responsible of the children. He's the most likely to get into trouble and need help from the others.
    • Also shown in the Thanksgiving episodes is Murray being the responsible to his younger brother Marvin's foolish.
  • Forgotten Birthday: "Sixteen Candles" has Bev and Murray forgetting Adam's sixteenth birthday because of the drama about Barry getting engaged and Erica dropping out of college.
  • Frozen in Time: "It was mid-April, 19-eighty-something..." The show purposely plays loose with the timeline in order to cram in as many '80s references as possible and to keep the family in a specific era as long as possible.
  • Full-Name Basis: Dave Kim. Even his mother calls him this.
    • Also Ruben Amaro Jr. (and Sr.)
    • Matt Bradley, too.
  • Gender Flip: Erica. The real Adam Goldberg has two older brothers, Eric and Barry.
  • The Generic Guy: Dan, a recurring minor character, exists specifically to fulfill this role. Lampshaded heavily.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • In "RAD!", Barry says he'll be responsible with the savings bond Pops gave him. Cut to him trading it for a BMX bike.
    • In "Mister Knifey-Hands", Erica tries to rent a keg for the high-schoolers, but the clerk won't give her one because she's still underage. He suggests filling it with non-alcoholic beer, and she says that only a loser would do that. Cut to her offering the keg to the high-schoolers, assuring them that it's full of real beer.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Barry claims to have one of these that he met in summer camp. The rest of the family mocks him mercilessly, and Erica notes that she was at camp with him but never saw his supposed girlfriend.
  • Girly Run: Barry. One has to see it; a description does not do it justice.
  • Go to Your Room!: Adam apes Andrew Dice Clay and his telling of Old Mother Hubbard to Pops. Pops doesn't like the punchline and tells Adam to go to his room!
  • Grumpy Old Man: Pop-Pop (Murray's father) is this.
  • Guilty Pleasures: Probably lots, but The New Kids On The Block are referred to as this.
  • Gym Class Hell: Mr Mellor is an interesting example. Played straight when putting Adam through torment and deliberately getting his name wrong as "Goldfarb" - but he shows interesting aversions, such as genuinely trying to give pastoral guidance to Adam even when it inconveniences him, and displaying well-intended ineptitude when genuinely listening to his pupils' criticisms of the delivery of PE teaching at their school, and periodically allowing them to try to improve the classes. If only to demonstrate that his way is better.
  • Honest John's Dealership: John Calabasas, a Con Man version of a Jack of All Trades. One of his businesses is an actual dealership that sells Murray an Austrian Ferrari knock-off branded Bitter which breaks after only two daysnote  - and in Real Life is still parked in the Goldberg house passage at Jenkintown. Other businesses he has operated include: a fake model agency and... a fake bank, the branch of which was in a stall, outside a real branch of a real bank, and which name was clearly a ripoff of said real bank. How can anyone fall for this man, especially when he has done con after con and always uses the same name?
  • Hollywood Hacking: Played with. Barry and his friends want Adam to hack the school to get them good grades. Adam has no idea how to do any computer hacking, so he does the next best thing: hack their brains by tricking them into actually studying for their history test!
  • Hopeless Suitor: Barry was originally this to Lainey in season 2 until they finally got together. Geoff Schwartz is also this to Erica despite his best efforts.
    • Until Geoff and Erica got together too.
  • Humiliation Conga: In "The Kremps," Barry finds a recording of a phone conversation between Erica and a friend, in which she talks about wanting to get together with the new neighbors' eldest sonnote . When Erica tries to grab the answering machine, both siblings fight for it and accidentally send it flying onto the floor, resulting in another part of the call playing in front of Erica's crush. Barry and Erica start fighting, while Beverly tries to break them up, she sees that Murray has fallen asleep, leading to a bleeped Precision F-Strike that results in an Oh, Crap! expression from Beverly as everyone looks in shock.
    Beverly: Murray, wake the f**k up.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode title is a line of dialogue spoken in the episode.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: The second season finale, "Goldbergs Feel Hard" is all about this. Barry warns Adam about saying it to Dana, but then says it to Lainey and gets upset when she doesn't say it back. Adam, meanwhile, tries to retrieve a love letter she left Dana. All the while, Beverly pressures Murray into telling Erica he loves her, then gets upset when Erica doesn't say it back.
  • In Another Man's Shoes: In "Dance Party USA", Erica returns to her former nerdy look after getting Barry's pink eye and accidentally breaking her teeth. This leads her to be treated as a loser, making her realize that is how her brother is treated every day.
  • Indy Hat Roll: Spoofed in "Adam Spielberg" with Barry and a cheesesteak he stole. The door ends up pinning his arm and he has to go to the hospital.
  • Initiation Ceremony: In the Season 3 finale, "Have A Summer," all the 8th graders are thrown by older students into the showers as part of Freshman Week. Adam gets out of it by bodyslamming Barry in an adrenaline fueled frenzy, which humiliates him in front of the school. Barry later reveals that only the cool kids get thrown in the shower, and he never got hazed when it was his time.
  • Innocent Innuendo: In "Hogan Was My Grandfather", Erica and Barry prove to Beverly that they can be self-reliant by making one of Bev's signature breakfast dishes, eggy in the hole (a fried egg inside a hollowed-out slice of toast). They proudly declare that they can "eggy our own holes".
  • Insult Backfire: In the Season 4 premiere, based off of The Breakfast Club, Adam tries to play up his bad boy persona, even using the same Barry Manilow comment Bender uses in the film for Principal Ball. He replies that he's "quite the fan-ilow".
  • Ironic Name: Apparently, Murray's middle name is Christian, but the family is implied to be culturally Jewish.
  • It's Always Spring: Some episodes are explicitly dated to wintertime, but except for the third-season episode "A Christmas Story" there is never any snow on the ground, the leaves are always out on the trees, and the characters never wear heavy coats. Finally averted in "Snow Day" when it's all about the kids finally getting a snow day from school. There have been a few aversions since then, notably in “Yippee Kai Yay Melon Farmer”, which realistically showed patchy snow on the ground and a half-melted snowman at Christmastime.note 
  • It Makes Sense in Context: A lot of Pops' humor in "The Darryl Dawkins Dance" comes from the fact that he's irritated that his grandson won't hit him with a car. What happened was that in this episode, Adam saw Transformers: The Movie, in which Optimus dies, prompting him to make a fan movie to right that wrong, in which Pops played Optimus Prime. Before he got to that, Murray gave Adam a brief death talk, saying that Adam shouldn't worry about dying until he's an old man, which caused Adam to begin worrying about Pops dying. So when Adam and Pops got to filming later, Adam changed the script so that Pops wouldn't have to get hit by a car, a script change that made Pops mad. The rest of the episode has jokes based around the absurdity of a man mad that his grandson won't run him over with a car.
  • I Want Grandkids: In "Sixteen Candles", Beverly tries to convince Lainey and Barry to not get married, but then Lainey starts talking about having children, which gets Bev crazy about becoming a "bubbie".
  • It Will Never Catch On: Inverted when Beverly found out Gimbles was going out of business.
    Beverly: Gimbles is the biggest shopping chain in America! That's like saying Blockbuster Video shut down, or B. Dalton Books, or Circuit City. It's impossible!
    • Played straight in "Yippee-Ki-Yay, Melon Farmer!". Adam and Marvin are coming up with concepts for a Die Hard-inspired film; when Adam comes up with "Die Hard on a bus", Marvin dismisses it as too silly.
  • Jerk Jock: Barry attempts to be one when he becomes a jock, but the actual head jock is more of a Lovable Jock and Big Man on Campus who helps Adam up after Barry pulls the Jerk Jock routine on him, and chastises him.
  • Jewish American Princess: Erica. She can get very demanding and imperious.
  • Jewish Mother: Beverly. Definitely Beverly.
  • Kavorka Man: Albert.
  • Kicking My Own Butt: Barry when he confronts the Meadowbrook Mafia in "Just Say No".
  • Kids Shouldn't Watch Horror Films:
    • In "Mini Murray", Adam tricks Pops into taking him to see Poltergeist by saying it's The Great Mouse Detective. While Pops is confused by the lack of mice, Adam is horrified and gets scared of things like clown dolls.
    • In "Mister Knifey-Hands", Jackie's parents let Adam see A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), since he claims he's old enough to handle it, and ends up having nightmares and trying not to fall asleep.
  • Laugh Track: In "The Wedding Singer", Adam shoots a video of Lainey saying goodbye because she's running away from marrying Barry, but he can't handle the emotional content and adds canned laughter, as well as "oohs" and "aws", to make it funny.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Adam considers Emmy a sibling (one he actually likes), despite Barry trying to convince Adam that a guy and a girl can never just be friends.
  • Limited Wardrobe: "Big Orange" is all about Barry's favorite orange Flyers shirt. Even with Lainey and Beverly getting him to buy new clothes...he's right back in it!
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Shrimpson.
    • "George! George Glass" has Adam wanting to do this to impress Waffle Girl, but Erica beats him to it by saying her new boyfriend is Jordan Wahlberg. Of course her facade falls apart in front of the JTP. (The episode title refers to a famous instance of this from The Brady Bunch, which is name checked by the show's characters.)
    • In "Adam Spielberg", Adam names his Indiana Jones fan film "Indiana Jones and the Thunder Glove of the Prime Mutant" after looking at his toy collection in his room. (In order, a Lion-O figure, a Nintendo Power Glove, an Optimus Prime figure, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.)
  • Logo Joke: Instead of the normal Adam F. Goldberg Productions logo, "12 Tapes for a Penny" was produced by "Doug Fell Productions", to keep with the episode's gag of using fake names.
    • The episode, "Agassi", was credited to "Chadam Productions", named after Chad Kremp and Adam himself.
  • Love Epiphany: Erica realizes she likes her Hopeless Suitor Geoff Schwartz...just as Geoff finally moves on and starts dating someone else.
  • Love Letter Lunacy: Adam in "Goldbergs Feel Hard" tries to retrieve the letter he left Dana in her locker.
  • Mama Bear: In Couples Costume, Beverly, in a Predator costume, helps Adam look for his Green Lantern ring in a haunted house while not only fending off the monsters (Frat boys in costume), pulling Erica off a makeout session, and carrying Barry in her arms after he sprained his ankle.
  • Meddling Parents: Beverly, naturally.
  • The Mentor: Pops dispenses wisdom to everyone from time-to-time, but mostly Adam.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Lainey's mother left when she was young, leaving her to be raised by her father.
    • Murray's mother also left his father when he was small.
  • The Movie Buff: Adam.
  • Movie-Making Mess: The main plot of "Adam Spielberg", in which Adam tries to make his own Indiana Jones fan movie, but then he suffers a mental breakdown during production, and at the end, he decides to stick to writing scripts, which was his strong point.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Erica, full stop, in "Who Are You Going to Telephone?" The odd part is that she was dressed as Jane Goodall for her Halloween costume, though Goodall never bared any midriff. In fact, if her shirt was plaid and the shorts were denim, she would have been more believable as Daisy Duke.
  • My Beloved Smother:
    • Beverly again. Hell, Narrator!Adam even calls her that.
    • Betsy Rubenstone
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Dave Kim is frequently subjected to this by Adam.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: When Barry is trying to hit on the French exchange student staying with the Goldbergs, Erica "translates" his rap song into French for him. He performs the piece blissfully unaware that he is confessing his lifelong bed-wetting habit which has defeated even the strongest rubber sheet.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Adam wins his fencing match in the episode, "As You Wish" by quoting that line repeatedly.
  • Mythology Gag: In "Baio and Switch" the Ben Franklin impersonator references something happening in the year "seventeen eighty-something"
    • In "Double Dare", Dave Kim remarks that Adam's voice is unfit to ever be on television. This joke contains multiple levels of Fridge Brilliance.
  • Nerd: Adam, full stop.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The early advertisements made it out to be a wacky 80's period piece full of pop culture a la "That 70's Show." The 80's are really just background. It's really a character driven comedy about the family. In fact it could easily be updated to modern times and you could have the exact same show.
    • Averted after the second season when the show became much more pop-culture oriented with almost every episode being built around a show, movie or celebrity from the '80s.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Murray's attempt at scrapbooking.
    Erica: It looks like something a 10-year-old serial killer would make.
  • No Indoor Voice: The Goldbergs, as opposed to the Kremps.
  • Not So Above It All: Barry makes fun of Adam and his nerd friends for playing Dungeons & Dragons, but he has his own character sheet made up and has memorized the rules... just in case they ever ask him to play.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: Adam narrates every episode, and the entire premise of the show—and much of its humor—depends on nostalgia and the awkward naïveté of Adam's adolescence.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Adam's best friend Emmy. Her introduction episode had a classic She's Not My Girlfriend setup but it ends with the two reaffirming that they just want to be friends. The stinger during the credits confirmed that they did indeed only remain friends.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: The Goldbergs get into some wild hijinks (like trying to take a mattress home, untied, on the roof of their car as Erica and Barry hang out the windows to hold it down while Adam desperately holds onto his siblings from inside) and the Narrator will occasionally interject to let the audience know these things really happened to the family.
  • Oh, Crap!: Whenever something's that kind of moment, Adam screams out "Oh balls!"
  • Once a Season:
    • So far, every season has featured one episode that parodies a classic 1980's movie...Goonies, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Risky Business, The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, respectively.
    • Also once a season is an appearance by Uncle Marvin during Thanksgiving.
    • Also at the end of the season, Adam is seen taping one of the happy moments at the end of the episode as Narrator!Adam remembers it'll always be 1980-something to him. The camera is zoomed in on as we get a montage of clips from the season which have the show footage mixed in with the original home footage.
  • Once per Episode: This is about how often characters swearing gets bleeped out.
  • Only Sane Man: Matt Bradley is the most down to earth member of the JTP. Barry often ignores any rational idea Matt has for no real reason.
  • Parental Favoritism: Beverly and Murray aren't ashamed to admit that Adam and Erica are their respective favorites. Everyone is also aware that Barry is The Unfavorite.
  • Parental Substitute: Beverly is this to Lainey.
  • Performance Anxiety: In "The Beverly Goldberg Cookbook", Bev and Adam go to a public access TV studio to do a cooking show. Adam, despite having acted in dozens of his own videos, gets stage fright when facing the TV cameras and completely freezes up. After a few minutes, he finally faints.
  • Piss-Take Rap: Barry "Big Tasty" Goldberg's specialty.
  • Pixelation: Every time a character swears, their mouth is pixelated. It has been Played for Laughs in at least four occasions, where pixelating the mouth was completely unnecessary. The first was a school mascot, the second a ventriloquist dummy, the third an Audrey II costume, and the fourth when the character is facing away from the camera.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: In "Hogan Was My Grandfather", Pops tries to spice up his stories of WWII for Adam by retelling episodes of Hogan's Heroes. Unfortunately, Adam then retells those stories at history class and is found out by his teacher, who happened to be a Hogan's fan.
    • In "The Opportunity of a Lifetime", Erica, Lainey, and Valley Erica form a girl band, The Tangles, and they performed their song, "Rockin' Out", in front of a crowd at CBGB. What they didn't know is that "Rockin' Out" sounded like Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n' Roll", and they're also unaware that their band name and their clothing style were copied after The Bangles and Madonna, respectively.
  • Planning with Props: Adam uses his action figures to plan for his Two-Timer Date in "Baio and Switch". He's Leonardo, Dana is Princess Leia, Emmy is The Incredible Hulk and David Kim is a Transformer.
  • Poke the Poodle: Barry's first attempt at a senior prank in "Let's Val Kilmer This Car" is to sew long pants on Mr. Mellor's shorts.
  • Ponzi Scheme: When Barry sinks a golf cart, he decides to replace it by stealing one from another course, then replace that one with one stolen from another course, and so forth. His friends outright state that it's a Ponzi scheme, but Barry mishears it as a Fonzie scheme.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The season 5 episode, "1990-Something," acts to set up a series starring the staff of William Penn Academy, only in the 1990s. Beverly makes a Required Spinoff Crossover.
  • Precious Puppy: Season 3 introduces Lucky, a dog that the actual Goldbergs had in the 80s.
  • Precision F-Strike: Delivered, and bleeped, nearly Once an Episode. Usually it's from Beverly, but nearly everyone has gotten into the act.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Invoked. In “A Wall Street Thanksgiving,” Adam is hit with a hard dose of this in playing the legendarily bad E.T. game.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: AJ Michalka (Lainey Lewis) is promoted to series regular in Season 3, after having more or less acting as a Fake Guest Star for most of Season 2.
    • Sam Lerner (Geoff Schwartz) was promoted in season 5, replacing AJ Michalka. This makes sense, as Lainey went to college by that point.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: In 'A Wrestler Named Goldberg,' Murray has to break it to Barry that it's not real, even when he's coming up with a finisher and backstory.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Some plots points are occasionally criticized as being too outlandish or goofy even for a sitcom. Adam F. Goldberg counters such criticism by saying that not only did such things happen to him in his childhood, he has video evidence to back it up.
    • In one episode, Pops gives a hilarious, rambling wedding toast on video that seems almost too outlandish to be anything other than fiction; The Stinger shows the video of the real Pops saying it verbatim.
    Real and fictional Pops: My appendix burst inside without causing me any pain. I have one large scar across my abdomen and one scar all the way down my right side. And I had one of my kidneys removed. [beat] Can I erase that part about the kidney? That's all I have to say.
  • Real Person Cameo: Creator Adam Goldberg based the bus bully in "For Your Own Good" on We're the Millers producer JC Spink who used to bully Goldberg when they were kids. Spink cameos in the episode as the school bus driver.
    • In "Double Dare", the real "Handsome Ben" Bauman and "Regular Amy" Gross cameoed as the Double Dare producers.
    • In "Crazy Calls", the real Michael C. Levy and Michael Z. Levy cameoed as the two computer technicians after Beverly cheesed one of the computer's floppy drives.
    • In "Agassi", Chad Kremp, Adam Goldberg's real-life friend, appeared as his father, Mr. Kremp.
    • The real-life Jackie Geary (Adam's first prom date and eventual girlfriend) has a recurring role as Jackie's mother, Mrs. Geary.
    • As the Real Life Jackie Geary, so too does Emmy Mirsky with Emmy's mom, Serry Mirsky.
    • "The Goldberg Gals" features the real Beverly Goldberg and her friends as a group of friends in the same restaurant as Sitcom-Beverly and her friends, clearly bothered by their presence.
    • The real JTP (Barry Goldberg, "Madman" Geoff Schwartz, "Naked" Rob Smith, Andy Cogan, and Matt Bradley) played against their sitcom counterparts in the JTP Bowl at the end of "Hail Barry".
    • The real Ruben Amaro Jr. has appeared, playing his own father in the 80s.
    • R. D. Robb had a cameo as a headshot photographer who was actually implied to be himself (albeit the character had the name Paul Sirochman), since he mentions his real-life success in A Christmas Story. His mother, Edie Robb, who is a Hollywood manager and the reason for E. D.'s success, is also a character, although she was played by Susie Essman.
  • Reality Ensues: Many of the episodes where Adam and others live out lives similar to popular 1980s movies often have moments where things go differently than they did in the movies.
  • Real-Person Epilogue: Episodes usually end with a clip of one of the real Adam Goldberg's home videos. In later seasons, The Stinger featured interviews with some of the real people depicted on the show.
  • Retcon:
    • The first Halloween episode plot deals with Adam breaking his childhood tradition of trick-or-treating with Pops. In season 3's Halloween show, this is ignored and it is instead shown via flashbacks that Adam had always (reluctantly) trick-or-treated with Beverly.
    • A line in "I Rode a Hoverboard" reveals that Lainey's father is a crooked lawyer. In later episodes he is shown to be a tile salesman. The episode also portrays the family as never having eaten Chinese food before, but an earlier episode shows Murray and Barry having some at the furniture store.
    • Lainey's mother was mentioned in a few early episodes of the show before it being changed to her father raising her alone.
  • "Risky Business" Dance: Barry tries to do it in "A Kick-ass Risky Business Party", but he keeps slipping and running into things, while Beverly warns him against "Tom Cruising" all over the house. Later Beverly herself does the dance (fully-clothed) to embarrass the other kids and break up the Wild Teen Party.
  • Role Reprisal:
  • Rousing Speech: Barry gives one (with a tip of the cap to Election) in "The Other Smother" to get elected class treasurer. It's basically a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about moms who interfere in their children's lives, and even his opponent gives him a standing ovation.
  • Running Gag:
    • Whenever Beverly goes to complain to someone, she starts out by saying "thank you for agreeing to meet with me on such short notice," which is followed by the other person pointing out that she just barged in at an inopportune moment against their will.
    • Similarly, Barry often injects himself into conversations with the line: "You've come to the right place." when in fact nobody asked for his help.
    • The Goldbergs blowing through the stop sign at the end of their street.
    • Pops gives advice, which is then either ignored, misinterpreted, or taken way too literally.
    • In later seasons, Pops' first appearance in most episodes shows him holding a martini.
    • One of the less successful ones has Adam constantly making reference to adding an F to his name to differentiate from the other Adam Goldberg at his school. Halfway through the season and they've pretty much run it into the ground. The Spencer's Gifts had a clever reworking of the gag though that lampshaded how tiresome it had gotten.
    • Whenever somebody asks Murray for something that they expect him to be against and he actually shows his support, they ignore the fact that he's showing approval and continue trying to convince him.
  • Safety Worst: Bev is like this towards Adam, her youngest.
  • Satiating Sandwich: In "Adam Spielberg", Barry takes Murray in a search for the best cheesesteak sandwich in the world, calling it the "Hoagie Grail".
  • Self-Parody: "8-bit Goldbergs" is about Adam making a video game based on his family. The episode has many winking references to the making of the show itself, including having Erica's character be changed to Eric, just as the real Eric Goldberg was made into Erica. It also acknowledges many of the criticisms towards the show, like how cartoony the characters come off.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Brothers Murray and Marvin both speak in a squeaky voice that sounds like hyperventilating when under intense emotions like shock or sadness.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Until the ninth grade, Erica had to wear Nerd Glasses and braces, and had stringy hair. Now she's among the hottest girls in school.
  • Shipper on Deck: Inverted at times with Erica as she's not a huge fan of Barry and Lainey together, but she knows how happy they make each other and will support them on occasion.
    • Pretty much everyone (at least Beverly, Adam, Barry and Lainey) are rooting for Erica to figure out a way to be with Geoff. Murray is the earliest example given that when Geoff was into Erica and she didn't want to reciprocate his feelings, Murray supported the idea of them being together because Geoff was someone safe that he wouldn't have to worry about Erica being with.
    • It's strongly hinted that Evelyn is only dating Geoff to force Erica to finally admit her feelings for him.
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: When Beverly loses the Cabbage Patch Kids doll for Adam's Egg Sitting assignment, she buys one from a man selling toys off the back of his car. It ends up being a "Lettuce Crop Kid" with an ugly, badly designed face.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Beverly to Betsy Rubenstone.
    • And now we can add Mrs. Kim to that list.
  • Skewed Priorities: In "Couples Costume", Adam runs to Beverly and tells her that Barry broke one of his bones in a haunted house and that he can't move, which worries her a bit. But when he says that Erica hooked back up with a frat boy that she dated, she borrows the Huang family's catchphrase: "Oh, HELL no!"
  • The Smurfette Principle: Adam F. Goldberg's real-life brother Eric was changed into a sister named Erica. Word of God says this was to show some of the trends and fads that were issues for teenaged girls in the '80s, since they already had one teenage boy and one junior high boy in the cast.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Adam's bully JC Spink was originally played by child actor Cooper Roth in the first season and then replaced by teen actor Zayne Emory for the second season when the writers needed to show that JC had physically matured faster than late-bloomer Adam.
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Beverly with Chad Kremp's mom in the Kremps' first episode.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • In "Lainey Loves Lionel", Barry tries to recreate the video for Lionel Ritchie's "Hello", in which a blind woman makes a clay bust of Ritchie. Trouble is, Barry's sculpting skills are lacking, to say the least, and the results are horrifying to look at. The reveal of each bust is made ten times funnier by having Ritchie softly sing "Hello" after each one.
    • In "Smother's Day", Barry and Erica try to make it up to Beverly for forgetting Mother's Day by cooking her breakfast. The soundtrack for this is "The Greatest Love Of All" by Whitney Houston, an apt selection for such a heartwarming moment... except that the scene shows the stove on fire, the dishwasher overflowing, and the kitchen in general disarray, as Erica and Barry scramble to clean up the mess.
  • Speak of the Devil: In "The Beverly Goldberg Cookbook", there's a Running Gag that whenever anyone says "college", Murray appears seemingly out of nowhere. This leads to a gag where Erica has to mute out each instance of the word college, which then appears subtitled, in a long speech where it's used repeatedly.
  • Spiritual Successor: Arguably, with The Wonder Years.
  • Stag Party: Barry wants a wild bachelor party like the one in Bachelor Party, which unfortunately proves impractical. Uncle Marvin takes him to a nightclub promising a wild time, but he and the JTP find it too loud and crowded. Eventually, they just go to the arcade and have a reasonably good time.
  • Stage Mom:
    • In "The Adam Bomb", Beverly wants to be Erica's "momager".
    • In "Fiddler", Murray forces Adam to be on the school's staging of Fiddler on the Roof, even though Adam prefers happier musicals. Murray becomes as overbearing as Bev, trying to force Adam into the lead role of Tevye. In the end, it turns out it was because Murray played Tevye as a child, and it was one of the few times his father was proud of him; Murray just wanted to have that in common with Adam.
  • Strictly Formula: If you pay attention, you'll notice that near every episode follows the same basic plot line: 'one or two of the family members creates a conflict of some kind, escalate it until one (or both of) them end up screwing up royally and hurting a friend/family member in some way, only to then somehow end up repairing their bonds by the end of the episode.' There may be some divationsnote  but the basic idea is usually the same.
  • Stunned Silence: Adam goes into this when watching The Transformers: The Movie as many of his childhood icons die.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • Adam's videos, based on the ones the real Adam Goldberg made as a kid (such as his Space Camp video or Transformers fan film). They look exactly like what a youngster in the 80s with a camcorder and no formal filmmaking instruction would make.
    • Barry's attempts at making a bust of Lainey in "Lainey Loves Lionel".
  • Sound-Effect Bleep: Usually, at least once an episode, a character will be muted by the classic "bleep" when they swear. By Series Four, even the back of Beverley's head is visually bleeped when she swears.
  • Staircase Tumble: In "Goldberg Girls", Geoff puts rose petals on the stairs as a romantic gesture for Erica. Unfortunately, she slips on them and falls down the stairs, as does Murray later on.
  • Swear Jar: In "Deadheads", Bev institutes one after Adam swears. Erica and Adam then trick her into swearing constantly so she can fill the jar and use the money for a trip to the Bahamas. Bev figures it out and starts a "Baditude Jar" for Erica and an "Adam Jar" for every nerdy thing he says. This leads to a "jar war" where all three make each other pay for anything they say.
  • Technology Marches On: invoked A source of some of the show's humour. "I Drank the Mold" features Erica and Barry trying to get their dad to buy them a CD player ($900 plus tax, if anyone remembers the early-runner prices for gadgets), with Barry even claiming that there will never be anything more advanced. At the end, they also have a run-in with a Discman, which was famous for skips. Adam's boxy video camcorder counts as well.
  • Terrible Artist: Barry in "Lainey Loves Lionel".
  • Thanksgiving Episode: There is a Thanksgiving episode every season. Beverly is the only person in the family who takes Thanksgiving seriously, as she used to make Thanksgiving dinner with her mother, and continued to do so after her mother died.
    Beverly: It's Thanks-[bleep]-giving!
  • That Nostalgia Show
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Barry in "The Adam Bomb".
    Barry: I feel anger!
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Erica's song demo in "Spaceballs" is the show's theme.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: In "12 Tapes For A Penny", after Adam scams Columbia House to get loads of music tapes on the cheap, Beverly blames Erica, even after Adam confesses to it. Erica then decides that if her mom is going to blame her for everything, she's going to show how bad she can be.
  • This Is Going to Be Huge: In "Mom Trumps Willow", Adam is hyped to see Willow, convinced that it's going to be a huge, game-changing movie like the Star Wars movies, even thinking it will be a trilogy. Then he actually sees it and is underwhelmed (although he warms up to it at the end).
  • They Really Do Love Each Other: Murray and Bev have a heartwarming moment at the end of "The Ring" when they finally kiss on camera, much to the squick of the kids.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: Adam dares Barry to stick his tongue on a pole in "A Christmas Story" as a Whole Plot Reference to A Christmas Story. Barry gets even by pushing Adam's lips to the pole.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Barry veers into this territory at times: in the pilot episode, when he drives his grandfather's car for the first time (with the rest of the family in it), he accidentally drives into the garage door when he is supposed to back out of the driveway (to which Murray intones "I raised a moron"). In "The Kremps," Adam "challenges" (tricks) Barry into climbing up the tree in front of the house... twice.
  • True Companions: The Jenkintown Posse (JTP), originally consisting of Barry, Geoff, Naked Rob, and Andy. Matt Bradley later joined in season 4 as the resident chill member, despite Barry's initially feeling threatened by the presence of a genuinely cool guy in his group.
    • Beverly would have her own group in Season 5, called the Frentas (AKA The Goldberg Girls), consisting of herself, Essie Karp, Virginia Kremp, and Linda Schwartz. Frenta is a portmanteau of the words "friend" and "Yenta".
  • Two-Teacher School: Surprisingly averted, given that the show is somewhat modeled after 80's shows that were often guilty of this. At least six faculty members are well-developed characters, and all teach different subjects. Additional teachers have appeared briefly or been referenced.
  • Two-Timer Date: Adam in "Baio and Switch", when he invites both Emmy and Dana to the dance. He watches a bunch of TV episodes with the same premise for ideas, but finds that they all end in failure. He plans the whole night out with Pops, who claims to have actually achieved it for real. Unfortunately, both girls find out and cancel it before Adam gets a chance to carry it out. They do eventually both go with Adam after he gives them a heartfelt apology.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: In what other universe but the magic world of television would these parents ever happen? (Interestingly, Jeff Garlin isn't exactly as attractive as the real Murray, but the real Beverly was about that hot.)
  • Unreliable Narrator: Narrator!Adam can never seem to remember the exact year whatever story he's telling happened (see the page quote). This is probably why he gets certain cultural phenomena crossed up, like thinking the Phillies were playing in the World Series the same year Ghostbusters was out.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Erica and Geoff Schwartz.
  • The Unsmile: In "Weird Al," Barry and Erica try to help Murray with depression, even asking him to smile. When he does so, they're horrified by it.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Murray tries to have "the talk" with Barry using the names of baseball players instead of the actual body parts involved.
    Barry: Oh yeah, you're a Mike Schmidt!
    Murray: Get your head out of your Orel Hershiser and get back down here!
  • Valley Girl: Valley Erica, Erica's college roommate, who is introduced in season 5.
  • Vanity License Plate: Uncle Marvin's DeLorean has one reading "CHX DIGIT."
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Premise of the show. To preface this fact, most episodes end with real-life home movies filmed during the decade from which the series is set by creator Adam F. Goldberg featuring his family.
    • In-Universe, this happens with Adam and Uncle Marvin going to see The Wizard and Marvin saying it's based on a true story.
  • Vocal Evolution: Sean Giambrone, Adam's actor, both in character and real life, has gone through puberty between seasons 2 and 3, making his voice deeper and more nasal.
    • A plot point in one of the episodes when the school choir teacher wanted an all-boys concert. All of the auditionees' crackling and off-key voices made the teacher panic about sounding terrible in front of their parents, so when the showbiz news reveals that Milli Vanilli were caught lip-synching, Beverly decides to make the choir teacher consider making the boys mouth along to recordings.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Spoofed on "The Kara-te Kid" when uncle Marvin makes Adam and Barry clean his apartment. They think he's teaching them karate like Mister Miyagi in The Karate Kid, but in the end Marvin confesses he just lost his cleaning lady.
  • Waxing Lyrical: In one episode, after watching the Royal Wedding, Beverly wants to renew her vows. Murray doesn't want to come up with new ones, so he steals the lyrics to the Family Ties theme song and passes them off as his own. Bev eventually finds out and gets back at him by using the lyrics to The Facts of Life
  • We Didn't Start the Billy Joel Parodies: In "We Didn't Start The Fire" (appropriately enough), both Adam and Barry want to sing the titular song at the holiday talent show, only Barry can't get the lyrics right. Eventually, they compromise and Barry sings a version with lyrics specific to the school, while Adam plays a slide show behind him.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Albert to Murray, his son-in-law, in "You're Underfoot."
    • "Well Done, Daughter!" Guy: In "La Biblioteca Es Libros?" Erica is aghast that not only has Murray failed to acknowledge the good job she does at work & not shared a celebratory beer, he shrugs off Barry's incompetent, moronic, & Noid-esque job as a Domino's delivery boy. Murray makes up for this by coming to her room, congratulating her for her hard work, & shares two beers w/ her, although Beverly catches them & Murray sprung into Dad mode by punishing her for the beers in her room (& silently mouthing "I'm sorry.").
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: Barry's attempts at karate in "Kara-Te". He eventually manages to break a board, but Adam secretly used balsa wood.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In "Deadheads", the JTP called out Barry when his attempt to get them kicked out of a Grateful Dead concert backfired; Barry tried to bootleg the concert, but it backfired after he discovered that the Grateful Dead were one of the few bands that allow bootlegging of their concerts.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: In The Stinger for "Weird Al," Adam sends a demo of a Barry themed cover of the song "Wang Chung (Everybody Have Fun Tonight)" to Weird Al. It doesn't work for him since there's really no context to who's being talked about.
  • Who's on First?: Pops tries to teach Barry the original routine in "We Didn't Start The Fire". It takes Barry two hours to get it.
  • Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Every time Uncle Marvin shows up, he's already got a new job/get-rich-quick scheme. When he moves into the Goldberg home and gets a job at Murray's furniture store, he doesn't give them up.
  • Wild Teen Party:
    • Barry and Lainey try to have one inspired by Risky Business in the episode "A Kick-ass Risky Business Party".
    • Barry throws one in the first season finale "Livin' On a Prayer".
    • In "MTV Spring Break", Barry and Erica go to Pops' retirement center in Fort Lauderdale for spring break, only to find that it's 90 minutes from the beach, and the rules for the center's pool are too strict. So they decide to break into the pool in the middle of the night and have their own private party. Unfortunately, Pops calls the police and unwittingly gets his grandchildren arrested.
    • In "Sixteen Candles", Erica throws a party like the one in Sixteen Candles for Adam, with the ulterior motive of getting their parents angry at him instead of at her.
  • Xanatos Roulette: Erica in "The Other Smother".
  • Young Future Famous People: Junior high aged versions of political commentator David Sirota and film producer J.C. Spink (Adam's bully) are recurring minor characters on the show, as well as a couple of appearances of high-school-aged Bradley Cooper. Former MLB player and Phillies GM Rubén Amaro, Jr., has also been a character in some episodes. Justified in that all of them attended school with Goldberg in real life with the exception of Cooper, who didn't go to the same school, but grew up in Jenkintown at the same time as Adam.
    • This trope applies to Adam, as well as girlfriend Jackie Geary, who has worked as an actress since the early 2000s, appearing in a wide range of work such as NCIS, 13 Reasons Why, and White House Down.
    • While not exactly "young", nor "famous" per se, Susan Cinoman's career as a writer and dramaturgist is notable enough to make her have her own Wikipedia page (she wrote her first play in 1991).

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