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Series / The King of Queens

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"My eyes are gettin' weary
My back is gettin' tight
I'm sittin' here in traffic on the Queensboro Bridge tonight
But I don't care 'cause all I wanna do...
Is cash my check and drive right home to you
'Cause baby, all my life I will be drivin' home to you!
— The theme song, sung by Billy Vera & the Beaters

The King of Queens is a well-known CBS sitcom that ran from 1998 to 2007. It focuses on the life of Doug Heffernan (Kevin James), a fat but jovial IPS driver, and his wife, Carrie Heffernan (Leah Remini), nee Spooner. Most of the time, Doug tries to live a hard-working but relaxed and diet-free life, which is complicated by the zany schemes of Arthur Spooner (Jerry Stiller), Carrie's father, who lives in their basement.

Doug has quite the circle of friends. His best friend is the black family man, Deacon Palmer (Victor Williams). Others include Richie Ianucchi (Larry Romano), a ladies' man who nicknames Doug as "Moose", Doug's awkward cousin Danny (who is played by Gary Valentine, James' brother in real life), and Spence Olchin (Patton Oswalt), a nerd of sorts who isn't the Butt-Monkey of the group so much as the omega wolf. While not part of the circle, another friend is the local dog-walker Holly, who, in spite of her drinking and trouble finding a date, does a good job of putting up with Arthur's weirdness.

Most viewers point out The King of Queens for its prominent case of Big Guy Hot Wife. What makes the show unique, though, is that Doug and Carrie share other attributes that show opposites attracting. For example, Doug is a nice and friendly guy and is quite content with his job as an IPS driver, whereas Carrie sometimes fantasizes about the directions her life could have taken and has a somewhat grayer moral compass. Another example is that Doug is a hard worker, but he likes to play hard as well, whereas Carrie is a card-carrying workaholic. Had a Spiritual Successor of sorts in the second and final season of Kevin Can Wait with Kevin James and Leah Remini at the starring roles.

This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The series never really seemed sure what they wanted to do vis a vis Doug and Carrie having children. It was explored in the Season 1 finale, then not mentioned again until the end of Season 3 when an unexpected pregnancy ends in a miscarriage. This leads into a story arc in the first half of Season 4 where Doug and Carrie attempt to get pregnant again. We then learn that Carrie has a bad ovary which would make it difficult for them to conceive. After this episode, the child arc is completely forgotten about until the series finale. It is possible that the writers were vacillating on whether to bring a child into the show and then made the decision not to.
    • There was the later season’s episode where Doug watched Danny’s ex’s baby for a day and for an inexplicable reason, the thought of children with Doug repulses Carrie. Wild departure from the above episodes.
    • The Season 6 premiere "Doug Less" sees Doug lose a substantial amount of weight, and the episode explored the impact it had on his ego and his relationship with Carrie. The writing leads one to believe that this new chapter in Doug's life is going to play a significant part in the story moving forward. However, Kevin James quickly gained the weight back, and Doug's weight loss was never mentioned again after "Doug Less."
  • Abuse of Return Policy: Carrie takes advantage of several upscale clothing stores' return policies to essentially "rent" clothes by buying them and then refunding them. The scheme collapses after her husband Doug spills food over a $1000 dress and she loses track of all the "rented" clothes and their corresponding receipts, leaving her with a closet full of expensive clothes and a maxed-out credit card.
  • Acrofatic: Doug's poledance. Especially when compared to Carrie.
    • His racquetball performance against Deacon is also an example and it's implied that he really had no prior experience playing and that it was solely inspired by Doug's desire to get his friend away from his "archnemesis" pushing him into almost Determinator territory.
    • Doug in general is implied to be decently athletic and powerful (consider his job; he probably spends a decent amount of time having to carry around heavy boxes and considering he works in New York, he probably has to deliver things up lots of stairs in walk-up apartments.) One episode has a gag that he used to be extremely well-built and muscular, being a football player in his younger days. It seems he's just added a layer of flab over the muscles.
  • Adam Westing:
    • Done in one episode by the actual Adam West, whom Spence meets and wants to take to Comic Book Convention.
    • Lou Ferrigno's recurring appearances as a neighbor contains many references to his time spent playing The Incredible Hulk on The Incredible Hulk (1977).
    • Donny Osmond appears as himself in one episode.
  • The Alcoholic: Doug's boss, Patrick O'Boyle. He mentions he's recovering and hasn't had a drink for eight years, but tells Doug to leave the bottle of Johnnie Walker Black he jokingly told him to bring.
  • Artistic License – Cars:
    • When Doug's car starts breaking down, Arthur buys them a "Douchenburger", apparently quite popular in Luxembourg. The actual car is a right hand drive 1970 Mini 850 Mk. III. Luxembourg has no local automakers (their cars come from the rest of Europe) and is left hand drive. About the only thing done to hide the fact that it's a Mini is the emblem on the hood has been removed.
      • This confuses British viewers, who wonder why an instantly recognizable Mini - with its steering wheel in the intuitively "correct" place - isn't called a Mini. Some viewers are clued up enough to realize a Mini is a sort of classic car in the USA and would be worth good money for its comparative rarity value. Besides, The Italian Job should be well-known enough in the USA for many people to recognize the car?
    • When Doug rear-ends Deacon's car while he, Carrie, Deacon and Kelly are on their way to a dinner (Doug and Deacon are in Doug's Jeep), the taillights are smashed. Except, Doug's Jeep's bumper is level with Deacon's car's bumper and the lights look like they've been smashed with a hammer.
  • Artistic License – Economics: The plot of "Art House" involves Arthur leaving Doug and Carrie's house and renting a luxurious apartment in a Manhattan high-rise. After a few days, it is revealed that he can't afford the rent which leads to him losing the apartment. Most apartments (and certainly one as nice as Arthur's) require a deposit of a few months' rent before taking residence to prevent situations such as these. Not to mention that the apartment was fully furnished, which would've cost thousands of dollars as well. There is simply no way Arthur could've gotten established in that apartment with no money and no credit.
  • Artistic Licence - Geography: Doug and Carrie Heffernan go on a holiday elsewhere in the USA having chosen a direction at random. They are next seen driving along Highway 28, which runs through Oregon in the Pacific North-West. A scene or two later, Doug is seen conferring with a local as to the best route: to stay on 28 or to take the intersection to Highway 414. the problem is... Highway 414 runs several hundred miles to the East of 28, in the Mid-west state of Wyoming. It does not ever directly connect to Highway 28.
  • As Himself: Lou Ferrigno is indeed Lou Ferrigno. And good friends with Adam West.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The first house Doug and Carrie bought together turned out to be more impractical than awesome as Doug initially thought. The house itself was uncomfortably close to a school, the easy chair that looked like a hand wasn't as comfortable as it looked, the sunken living room was a booby trap, and the dumbwaiter was, well, dumb.
    Doug: (examining the mess left by the faulty dumbwaiter) We're going to need a tiny cleaning lady.
  • Babies Ever After: Doug and Carrie end the show with two children, a daughter adopted from China and a biological son.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • Parodied in "Icky Shuffle" where Doug and Arthur go up against a stuck-up old man and his son-in-law in a shuffle board tournament. Doug and Arthur lose and Arthur chews Doug out even though before that Arthur said that since Doug decided to play with him that means he already won.
    • Played straight and for laughs in "Fight Schlub" where members of a rival delivery company Priority Plus deceive Doug, bind him, and take over their booth at Coopers the local sports bar. Doug, Deacon, Danny, and some others from IPS try to take it back but are defeated by the Priority Plus Employees and must take the booth that is right next to the bathroom
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Don's flip out on the boss.
    • Spence has a minor freak-out when he thinks Carrie has separated for good from Doug, and he has a chance with her. On his way to pop the question, he witnesses them reconciling. He goes nuts out of jealousy.
  • Big Applesauce: The show takes place in Queens, and Carrie works in Manhattan.
  • Bouncer: It is revealed that Doug Heffernan's main job when he first met Carrie Spooner was that of nightclub bouncer. Doug was pretty much of the non-violent fast-talking kind who would try to defuse trouble rather than invite it, but it cannot be denied that he could let the power of running the door, and deciding who got in, go to his head.
  • Bratty Food Demand: In "Taste Buds", Doug manipulates Arthur into rudely demanding food so that Carrie will take them to whatever restaurant he (Doug) wants to go. For example, when Doug wants pizza, he gets Arthur to reminisce about the time he was in the Army in Italy, causing Arthur to say, "I want pizza!".
  • Brooklyn Rage: Carrie. Arthur has his moments, too.
  • The Cameo: Ben Stiller has a cameo as Arthur's abusive father in the episode "Shrink Wrap".
  • Catchphrase: "Shutty".
    • Shaminy!
    • Ass, in many variations. "I am ASS." "CARRIE IS ASS." "I'll buy you a boat! The Dumb-as-ass!" "Mother of ASS!" "Ass!"
    • YUSPA!!!
    • All of Doug's exaggerated "T-I-O-N"words: Dona-TION, Sanita-TION, Fornica-TION, etc etc
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Carrie's sister Sara. The script writers admitted they ran out of ideas with what to do with her. As a matter of fact, Sara was so written out of the show that Carrie was turned into an only child.
    • Also the Sacksys after their last appearance (although they might have just moved away).
    • Richie suddenly disappears and is replaced by Danny to keep the four friend group intact.
    • Doug's Aunt Sheila is never seen or mentioned again after her appearance in the series' fifth episode.
  • Closer to Earth: Traded off depending on the episode between Doug and Carrie. Doug is foolish and impulsive, but Carrie is somewhat immoral (or at least self serving) and brash, and each have episodes showcasing their flaws - for whichever one is in the wrong in the episode, the other will be Closer to Earth.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Spencer and his new girlfriend Denise have dinner with his mom. To break the ice, she tells a story about how Spencer slipped on ice and how red his butt was afterwards. His mom completely missed the point and asks him why she's seen him naked, telling him he was supposed to "save himself". Denise then says she didn't actually see it, but Spencer told her on the phone while she was in church. His mom then exclaims "You were on the phone in church?!"
  • Convenient Miscarriage: This happens to Carrie. It's a rare downer in the series and something of a discontinuity.
  • Crossover: From time to time, the Heffernans have interacted with the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond.
    • Gianni from the latter show appeared in one episode as well.
    • Doug's first appearance was as a member of the Nemo's basketball team playing alongside Ray and Robert Barone in ELR. Their first meeting was later retconned to a chance meeting whilst both were sitting the written part of their drivers' licences.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Arthur takes part in a test screening for a buddy comedy, but finds the entire plot could have been avoided if the characters had made a single phone call and gets hung up on for the rest of the episode.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    That's our wedding cake. From our wedding. You know, when we got married.
  • Depending on the Writer: Whether or not Doug, Carrie or Arthur are being giant assholes or not.
    • Some episodes, such as "Mean Streak" and "Driving Reign," portray Doug as a dedicated IPS employee who derives pride from his job and takes his results seriously. Other episodes, such as "Roast Chicken" and "Screwed Driver," portray Doug as a slacker who is content to do the bare minimum and fly under the radar. Then again, Doug could be what known as a "Vesuvius" employee - Very busy and efficient (Vesuvius erupting) then the next quiet and wanting to fly under the radar (Vesuvius dormant) and flips between the two? Carrie also expresses conflicting attitudes about work throughout the series...she says in "Driving Reign" that Doug expected too much from his job and should just put his hours in and forget it, whereas it is Doug giving her the same speech in "Dugan Groupie."
  • Diabolus ex Machina: In her last appearance on the show as a regular, Holly met a nice, normal rich guy who planned to marry her and take her out of the city. When she reappears in the series finale, she's now pregnant and has been dumped by said husband, with nowhere to live.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • A waitress is constantly seeking advice from Arthur. He gets fulfillment from this, until finding out from a dimwitted co-worker that she only does so to follow the opposite of what he suggests. Following this he deliberately tells her the opposite of what he would otherwise, causing her to ignore good advice, specifically telling her it's a bad idea to demand a raise, causing her to be fired. Whether or not he intended for this to get her fired and potentially bankrupt, he seems to find her outcome perfectly just in his gloating.
      Former Waitress: You cost me my job! How am I going to pay my bills?!
      Arthur: And you hurt my feelings, so now we're even!
    • Deacon goes out to dinner with a female friend and doesn't tell Kelly. She and Carrie treat it as if he's sleeping with the woman, to the point Kelly kicks him out barefoot and moneyless, while Carrie kicks him out of the house and refuses to allow Doug to give him money for a hotel room.
    • In one episode, Doug has a regular customer who always comes to the door wearing nothing but a towel, which disgusts him. He wants to be removed from that route, but can't convince O'Boyle avoiding a guy in a towel is a good excuse, so he says the guy's dog (who was a little terrier like Eddie) is vicious. When Doug comes by again, he finds animal control about to take away and exterminate the dog. It actually gets lampshaded when Doug rescinds the complaint and reveals he made because the guy always wears a towel, causing him to say "For that, you kill my dog?!"
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Carrie is a pretty major version of this and it was implied that Deacon's wife can be pretty abusive as well. Also one episode had Carrie teach a girlfriend of Spence to be verbally abusive to him.
    • However, it should be noted that unlike Everybody Loves Raymond with Raymond and Debra, Doug was always portrayed as equally strong-willed and just as often meant to be "right" in the plot as Carrie.
    • He's also acknowledged by other characters as having the patience of a saint for dealing with Carrie for so long.
    • Also there are episodes in which Doug and Carrie realize just how destructive their relationship is and are even visibly disturbed by the revelation.
    • When Doug joins a support group for men in abusive relationships (to get out of the weight loss one, which doesn't serve food), they have him talk about his experience and he relates how Carrie does things like twist his nipples after he angers her over something. He also blames this for his weight. Carrie doesn't help this by then being her normal obnoxious self when she comes to pick Doug up. After learning what group he's really in, she's of course outraged and notes that Doug was already overweight before she even met him. However, her twisting his nipples is justified by his bad behavior according to her. It's pretty certain however that no one would feel this excused Doug twisting her nipples.
    • The subplot in "Van, Go" definitely comes to mind with this trope. In the episode, Doug has to deal with a very rude waitress who not only does not serve him at the same time as his friend, but refuses to get his ready chicken wings that remain sitting on the counter. When Doug goes up and gets the chicken wings himself, the waitress rudely tells him that she'll bring them to him. Later, the manager questions why they didn't get refills on their drinks, a Doug says he thinks the waitress was on the phone, resulting in the manager reprimanding her (since personal calls at work are against the rules) and comps their meal. The waitress then declares she's going to "gut you like a deer," when he leaves and spends the remainder of the episode stalking around the front of the restaurant, waiting for Doug to leave. Not only is this Played for Laughs, but nobody calls the cops about this obvious harassment and Doug is portrayed as being the wrong party. And it's still Played for Laughs when the waitress beats him up off-screen! However, Doug is not portrayed as the wrong party. The waitress was portrayed as crazy.
    • Carrie pushes Doug down the stairs when he prioritizes his grilled cheese over getting his suit fitted. Instead of apologizing, she blames him and says he didn't do what she told him to do.
    • She also feels comfortable enough physically abusing Deacon, Danny, and Spence.
  • Dude, Not Ironic: In one episode, Doug calls something ironic and Arthur insists that that's not what irony is. At the end of the episode, Arthur wakes Doug up in the middle of the night claiming he looked up ironic in the dictionary, and admits he was wrong: he thought "ironic" meant "made entirely of iron".
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In the first episode, Carrie is gentler, softer, more feminine, and an awful lot sweeter. The hard-bitten bitchy edge she develops later is completely absent. Doug is also more serious, mature, hard-working and competent than the Flanderised man-child who emerges later: a stereotypical sitcom couple. Carrie also has a sister who abruptly disappears without a trace (or explanation) later; the sister has a lot of the negative qualities that later show up in Carrie.
  • Eye Scream: When Spencer explains how laser eye surgery worked, Deacon was experiencing this.
    Deacon: I don't want to hear about an... eye flap, damn!
  • Fan Disservice: Carrie's pole dancing. It's so bad that Doug tried to stay at work until he's forced to leave, and when he later finally snaps and turns Carrie's music off, the following exchange occurs, implying that watching Carrie's dancing for a prolonged period is apparently A Fate Worse Than Death:
    Carrie: Why'd you turn it off?
    Doug: It was either that or jump out the window.
  • Fat Slob: The flip side of Big Fun. Doug teeters dangerously on the brink and steps over it several times, usually pulled back to acceptability by Carrie delivering an ultimatum or otherwise intervening.
  • Fictional Counterpart: IPS is simply UPS with one letter changed.
  • Flanderization: Carrie's unsophisticated speech in some episodes.
    • Also Doug's intelligence, most notable in one episode where he forgets a person's name after it was just mentioned less then a minute ago.
  • Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: A psychologist unwisely advocates Carrie and Doug giving Arthur what he wants as a sort of aversion therapy, in the hope that the continual demanding will burn itself out. Arthur then ploughs through a dozen or so expensive hobbies in the space of a month, beginning each in a state of high enthusiasm that inevitably burns itself out when the novelty is gone.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Doug (phlegmatic), Carrie (choleric), Arthur (sanguine), and Deacon (melancholic).
    • You could use this with secondary characters as well: O'Boyle (choleric), Spence (melancholic), Danny (sanguine), Richie (phlegmatic), and Holly (supine).
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Doug is a delivery driver, Carrie is a secretary and the two are frequently shown to have major issues with their finances. Despite this, from early on in their marriage the two were able to afford a large, two story house in Queens with a furnished basement, a decent sized yard and a garage that is separate from the main building.
  • Funny Flashback Haircut: In the episode where we see how Doug and Carrie first met, Doug has a mullet and Deacon a Funny Afro.
  • Game Night Fight: Doug and Arthur play a game of Monopoly, with Arthur rolling a six and buying Park Place. Doug calls him out on his turn because Doug already owns Park Place, he's not the thimble, and he rolled a five. Arthur responds by throwing the board off the bed (and different game boards are seen on the floor implying other games were played with similar results).
  • Game Show Appearance: Doug once dreamed he was on Wheel of Fortune, and another time Arthur ended up blackmailing Dick Clark over not getting his Rice-A-Roni when he appeared on The $10,000 Pyramid note (of course, Dick Clark wouldn't have controlled that part; it was under Bob Stewart's control then; like this show and Wheel, it's currently a Sony Pictures Television property).
  • Gentle Giant: Lou Ferrigno (yes, the Lou Ferrigno), Doug and Carrie's neighbor
  • Giftedly Bad: Carrie at pole dancing.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: When the local bowling alley hires a homely female attendant, Doug decides to flirt with her in an attempt to make her feel welcome. This ends up creeping the woman out, and things go from bad to worse when Doug spends the rest of the episode digging himself deeper.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: When buying a new car, Doug plays Good Cop while Carrie plays Bad Cop to get a better deal. Doug gushes over the car while Carrie says "I wanna take a sledgehammer to this piece of crap!"
    Doug: You're supposed to be Bad Cop, not... Gestapo!
  • Goshdang It To Heck: Doug often says "Son of a mother!"
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: In flashbacks, Doug is shown to have a mullet and/or a mustache.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Carrie. Whenever she explodes, Doug is invariably at Ground Zero.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Holly. Who frequently ends up in bad places the next day.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Despite the fact that they sleep with their beds pushed together, have tried to buy a house together, have a shared checking account, speak of themselves as a couple, argue and break up like they're married (and have in fact gotten married), and have all but given up on finding dates other than each other, Spence and Danny are straight.
    • Doug and Deacon also count.
  • Hiccup Hijinks: The beginning of "The Dugan Groupie" has Doug get hiccups while he's eating a tuna sandwich. Arthur tries scaring him, but it doesn't work. He then pretends to walk away in shame so that he can scare Doug's hiccups away with an air horn. At the end of the episode, Arthur also gets hiccups, and he once again scares them away with an air horn.
  • Hollywood Law:
    • The plot of "Clothes Encounter," where Carrie was returning expensive clothing articles after wearing them for a while, was played entirely for laughs and was seen in-universe as morally grey but ultimately harmless. In real life this is called "wardrobing," and it is legally considered a type of shoplifting. At the very least this kind of scheme would probably destroy your credit score, and at worse may land you in prison for fraud.
    • It is quite unlikely that the water leak in the Heffernans' home that caused the toxic mold would have been brushed aside with a fleeting comment and then buried in the fine print of the paperwork. Something like that would be a pretty major deal, and would probably require both Doug and Carrie to sign a waiver that they were buying the house "as is" and thereby absolving the realtor of any responsibility. As it happened in the show, Carrie would have a pretty good case against the realtor that she was never informed of this severe defect and signed off on the house under false pretenses.
    • Later in the same story arc, Mr. Kaplan's explanation to Doug and Carrie that there was nothing they could do about the mold company's poor business practices was fairly specious as well. If the company accepted payment for the job up front and signed a contract that they would complete it, they can absolutely be held to those terms and they can certainly be sued or possibly even arrested for absconding with the Heffernans' money.
  • Honest John's Dealership: One episode has Doug buying an ice cream truck from an old man. While trying to sell ice cream, he is repeatedly attacked by another ice cream truck, supposedly driven by a rival. Doug ends up paying the old man to take back the truck because he wants out of it. No sooner does The man complete the transaction does he try to sell it to another person, and it's revealed that he has been selling his truck to people and than using another truck to pose as a rival ice cream man and terrorize them so they will pay him to take the truck back to be safe from the "rival".
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Almost all of the episode titles are a two or three word pun that has something to do with the episode.
  • Informed Attractiveness:
    • While Doug's weight loss in "Doug Less" was noticeable, the way everybody in-universe was acting about it and talking about how much more handsome it made him is definitely this.
    • It's constantly talked about how Carrie is beautiful. This continues even into season 6 and onward, where she gains a bunch of weight and gets more raggedy in appearance. Even toward the end of the show, where she was almost as fat as Doug himself, it's still stated that she's beautiful and much slimmer than Doug.
      • Carrie was never anywhere near as heavy as Doug. It was also lampshaded in the show, when Doug tricked Carrie into losing weight.
  • Irony: In an episode, Arthur gets in an argument with Doug about whether a situation was ironic. The story was that Doug had to scan a box, but the scanner was broken. When he opened it, it turned out that the box was full of new scanners. The kicker came in the end sequence where Arthur wakes Doug up in the middle of the night to say: "I was checking the dictionary and it turns out you were right. That situation was ironic. I thought 'ironic' meant 'Made up entirely of iron.'" Doug merely replies "Good night, Arthur."
  • Jerkass/Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Carrie, Depending on the Writer.
    • A case of "like father, like daughter," since this also applies to Arthur.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When Doug wants $100 from the family kitty to bet on a boxing match in "Eddie Money," he tells Carrie he's entitled to it since he earns more than half the money that comes into the house. This prompts her to twist his nipples and order him to put the money back in the can. Given that Carrie is known to spend thousands of dollars per year on unnecessary clothing and accessories, it's a bit hypocritical for her to begrudge Doug over a hundred bucks.
  • Jerkass to One: While Doug, Deacon, Richie, and Danny were usually quite lovable, their treatment of Spence could often get quite bad; they make fun of Spence for being geeky and often act like he's not even their friend. While they were usually nice, whenever they treated Spence like this one can't help but feel the urge to reach into the TV screen and smack them.
  • Karma Houdini: In "Ice Cubed," Carrie gets advice from a pastor on what to do with an i-pod that she was accidentally not charged for. After some discussion Carrie decides to return the I-Pod. A great deal of bad things ensue. Indeed, the cashier ends up losing her job over this. She then tries to help the cashier on the pastor's advice but this ends up endangering a man's life. Despite being partly responsible for causing the whole thing, not only is the pastor not punished (by law or by nature) he gets a free I-Pod because Carrie can no longer enjoy it
    • In "Fight Schlub"- The members of the Priority Plus delivery company get no comeuppance for assaulting Doug and binding him in Bubble wrap or taking the booth reserved for Doug and his friends at Coopers. (When Doug and his friends try to take back the booth they are defeated and are exiled to a booth by the bathroom
    • In "Icky Shuffle" Carrie is not called to account or receives any sort of comeuppance for pretending to be ill. She started out sick but continued to be sick long after she got better. This was because Holly agreed to cook dinner for her for the duration of her illness. Carrie's deceit continues even when Carrie's orders get more elaborate and Holly comes down with a very bad cold.
    • In "Lost Vegas" Arthur successfully cheats a church out of its money using a card counting scheme during their charity casino night.
    • In one episode, an old man gets away with scamming Doug by selling an ice cream truck to him and than posing as a rival ice cream man who terrorizes Doug until he pays the owner to take the truck back. He proceeds to pull the trick on another man.
  • Kavorka Man: The other Doug Heffernan, who turns out to be deliberately exploiting his women by giving them our Doug Heffernan's phone number. When Doug tracks him down, he turns out to be a man who would look like the Clark Kent to Woody Allen's superman.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Anytime Doug or Carrie (or both) set up a scheme, it would always be foiled by some circumstance. "Patrons Ain't" & "Buy Curious" are good examples for both of them, with several of Doug's schemes to improve Carrie while he did nothing (such as in "Lush Life", "Gym Neighbors" & "Deconstructing Carrie") always came back to bite him in the ass.
    • A clever example occurs in "Shear Torture" when Spence asks Lou Ferrigno to go to a Fantasy convention with him, but ditches him at the last minute so he can take Adam West instead. On the way to the convention, Adam West tells Spence that he spoke with Lou Ferrigno and found out that he broke his commitment to him. He then forces Spence out of the car, necessitating him to run across four lanes of traffic. Spence misses out on the Fantasy Convention and Adam West also keeps his gas money.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Carrie plays with this trope in the "Bun Dummy" episode.
    • Also, we, the audience are supposed to believe that Carrie is undesirable to any man when she puts her hair up. The gorgeous Leah Remini? Riiight.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Holly and Carrie.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Spence and Danny.
  • Lingerie Scene: In Strike Out, Carrie moves from bathroom to bedroom in her underwear - only to find her father lying on the bed. She screams at him to get out, but he shrugs and remarks there's nothing there he hasn't seen before.
  • The Load: Arthur contributes nothing to the household and in fact has cost the Heffernans significant amounts of money (he's started fires, sold their furniture when they are away...etc.) and stress (he goes through personal belongings, keeps them awake at night when moved across the hall, constantly yells and tries to force his rules on them...etc). Whenever he comes across some money like bingo winnings, he doesn't even think to offer Doug and Carrie any of it for something such as new appliances they all use and has to be more or less told to give it to them. Doug wants him out of the house for these reasons but Carrie defends Arthur, claiming he isn't that bad (which is odd, as it has been firmly established that Arthur was a terrible father. He even changed her name due to a bet).
  • Magic 8-Ball: The Mentalo toy from Doug's childhood (as well as its knockoff, Mental-Man) is a variant.
  • Manchild: Spence is the most obvious example but Doug, Danny and even Arthur fit as well. Deacon could also be described as this on certain occasions. For example, in the episode "Mentallo Case", when Doug wants to buy a toy that he always wanted as a child, Deacon goes behind Doug's back and purchases it for himself.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Doug is frequently forced to be this in order to get what he wants from the domineering Carrie. Examples include Doug talking Arthur into wanting whatever Doug wants to eat and forming fake work calls to guilt the wife into letting the husband get his way.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Danny and Spence.
    • Lampshaded when Spence and Danny actually get married in order to receive a free television from a timeshare company, then are comically outraged when they won't give the timeshare to a same-sex couple. (They were divorced by the next episode.)
    • In one episode, Spence and Danny go to their high school reunion and try to pick up women to take home. Spence thinks he has succeeded in picking up a woman, until Danny informs him that that woman is a lesbian and thinks he's a woman too. Danny also succeeds in getting a date, that is, the captain of the football team.
      At least my rainbow ends with a vagina!
    • In the episode "Mammary Lane", Spence's Tivo thinks he's gay.
    • Also, several episodes revolved around Deacon thinking his son Kirby is gay and attempting to prevent it ("Ticker Treat", "Kirbed Enthusiasm").
  • Mistaken for Racist: In "Buy Curious," Doug and Carrie attempt to sell a crappy house by covering up the flaws and sell it off to a black couple like it's fine. When Doug and Carrie find out that the couple is having a baby, they try to talk them out of buying it and the couple think they're just trying to keep them from buying it because they're black.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: In "Strike Out," Doug, Deacon, and Arthur play the See & Say that Deacon's son brought with him in the style of roulette.
  • Narrative Causality: Doug's mom had absolutely no reason to be at the wedding in "Flash Photography" between Doug's softball buddy and Carrie's friend.
  • New Neighbors As The Plot Demands: With the exception of Lou Ferrigno and the Sacksys (who only appeared in three episodes) the other side neighbours changed frequently.
  • New York Is Only Manhattan: Averted here. Which, as it says on the label, is set in and around Queens.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: In "Ice Cubed" when a cashier mistakenly forgets to ring up an I-pod in effect giving it to Carrie for free, she tries to return it and pay the cashier. Her trying to do the right thing sets off a chain reaction of unfortunate events.
  • Not Really a Birth Scene: Happens to Doug when doctors have to remove a large staple from one of his testicles. We even get to see poor Doug's legs up in stirrups and his wife holding his hand while he screams.
  • Only Sane Man: Deacon; he is the only main or recurring character that doesn't have many major personality flaws, is often exasperated by his friends idiotic schemes, is the first one to point out when someone goes too far in any given situation and is generally the most well-adjusted person on the show.
  • Plucky Office Girl; Carrie's position at the legal firm she works for.
  • Pottery Barn Poor: The Heffernans consist of an UPS IPS truck driver, a secretary and an old retired man who never worked a job for more than a month at a time. Despite this, aside from their rather spacious home, in a neighborhood decent enough for Lou Ferrigno, they also have ongoing plots revolving around Doug's widescreen plasma TV and home cinema system and the den devoted to it.
    • Delivery men (especially in such a large metro area, and in a union like Doug) and legal secretaries (especially ones employed at large law firms like Carrie) make more money than you'd think.
      • It is implied several times that while Doug and Carrie both make decent money, they have horrible spending habits and tend to blow whatever spare cash they have on takeout and gambling (Doug) and expensive clothing (Carrie).
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Doug's boss, Patrick O'Boyle, is revealed to be a weirdo at times.
    • As is Carrie's boss, Doug Pruzan.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: The episode "Bun Dummy" was rather weird about it. In the episode, the male characters pretty much outright say that bun hairstyles are only for dowdy old librarian types, and thus beautiful young women like Carrie would have to be insane to wear their hair that way. To be fair, though, Carrie was being pretty weird about it too. She was treating wearing her hair in a bun with the same excitement as if she just won the lottery.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Kelly for a few seasons, supposedly due to an edict from ABC, who didn't want Merrin Dungey appearing on other shows while she was on Alias.note  After her character in Alias or rather, her character's doppelganger was killed off, she returned to the show for the rest of its run.
    • Richie, Doug's close friend and former roommate, was written out in season 3 after Larry Romano left the show to star in Kristin.
  • Pygmalion Plot: Spence helping Carrie to improve her pronunciation. When she succeeds, he says "you are so beautiful..."
  • Retcon: When Pruzan first appeared, he was just a pathetic co-worker of Carrie's. Later, he was made into her boss (indeed, several episodes, including "Cello Goodbye", showed her with different bosses).
    • In the episode where Arthur temporarily moves out into an apartment he can't afford, Doug compliments his piano playing abilities. In a later episode he tries getting some fast money by "teaching" children how to do just that but is completely incapable of doing so. Interestingly, among the main characters there doesn't appear to be a single person who can actually play the piano, yet there it is smack dab in the middle of the Heffernan's living room.
    • Doug and Carrie's story of how they met, Carrie's childhood, and several other plotlines.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Kevin James lost 40 pounds in 2003, and this was written into the Season 6 two-part premiere. He quickly gained the weight back, however, making these episodes something of a Canon Discontinuity compared to the rest of the series.
    • Leah Remini's body shape and general appearance changed noticably over the run of the show. This was explained In-Universe as the Spooner women having a tendency to become more comfortably shaped (fatter)as they grew older. How the show explained the cosmetic surgery LR had in between series runs - this is jarringly noticable - is not as apparent.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Carrie finally loses patience and gives Arthur an epic one in "Foe: Pa":
    Carrie: News flash, OK? You were never there for me, Dad. You never-you never are, you never were. And you know what, when I was sitting there trying to hold that interview together and I was looking through that glass, do you know what I saw? What I've been seeing my whole life: a lousy father. A selfish, overbearing, lousy father!
  • Retool: The title, now solely a pun based off of where the characters live, used to have a bit of a double-meaning, since Carrie's sister Sara was initially a big part of the cast, making plural "Queens."
  • Right Behind Me: On the episode titled "Eggsit Strategy", this trope is satirized. Carrie is talking to her coworkers about her boss, Mr. Kaplan, in an unflattering way. When her coworkers have blank looks on their faces, she is worried that her boss is standing right behind her, but he isn't.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Danny was trying to win a poker party with them.
  • Series Continuity Error: In one early episode, Arthur mocked Doug for going to church, making it analogous to the Easter Bunny, but in later episodes, he prays to God and is even afraid of going to hell.
    • Well it's possible he is religious but not into organized religion, or has a love-hate relationship with the "man upstairs."
    • It's also implied that he was part of the Socialist Workers Party in the 1940s, and may still be a Marxist, given his argument with a Russian handyman over the Soviet Union being a "worker's paradise." If so, being an atheist would make sense, but Arthur may not be able to shed his religious upbringing completely (he's shown to be a former choir boy in one episode).
  • Series Fauxnale: The Season 8 finale "Acting Out" was written to be the series finale, but the cast and crew later decided to come back to do a ninth and final season.
  • Shout-Out: In Offtrack - Bedding, Carrie is in the kitchen preparing food when Doug walks in and says "Hi, Sticky Buns!" Carrie is flattered and says it's nice to have a husband who can make up funny nicknames for her when he walks in. Doug looks baffled, and goes to the plate of cakes on the work-top that he was really speaking to...
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: Sara. At the beginning of the series, Carrie was meant to be the serious character of the two, while Sara was meant to be nothing more than a mooching bimbo. They quickly ran out of things to go for a character like Sara, so eventually they wrote her entire existence out of the show.
    • Richie was a part of the quartet of friends as well as a major character for the first three seasons. Suddenly, though, the character was just dropped.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: The show often jumped between both ends of the scale, sometimes in the same episode; case in point, "Foe: Pa." Sure, it wasn't officially a Very Special Episode, but it certainly felt like one.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Despite being a high school educated receptionist, Carrie tends to think of herself as a celebrity and usually looks down on people around her.
  • Snowed-In: The episode "Ice Cubed".
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: Arthur once tried to get away from a woman who was interested in him by claiming that Deacon was his secret homosexual lover. This backfired when the woman responded with what amounted to "just don't do it while I'm around."
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Honeymooners.
  • Spy Cam: "Life Sentence" features something like this. Arthur is recovering from health problems, but he refuses to leave the basement and move into the guest room. Doug and Carrie rig up a babycam without him knowing and connect it into a TV feed so they can periodically check in on him. Later on, Deacon, Spence, and Danny come over to watch football, channel surf when they get bored, and discover the babycam feed. They quickly become engrossed in the mundane things Arthur does and secretly come over to watch numerous hours of Arthur TV.
  • Story Arc: Strike One-Strike Too-Strike Out.
  • This Loser Is You: Doug is shown to be dumb, has extreme aversion to reading and watches way too much TV. He also avoids places like art museums and artistic movies in favor of summer blockbuster movies and sports events. At the same time, he is shown to be very good-natured, kind-hearted and caring, making the audience connect with his character.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Holly Schumpert's character could be seen as a Butt Monkey. She comes from a difficult household and is often used by her boyfriends and occasionally the Heffernans (see the episodes "Icky Shuffle" and "Awful Bigamy.") However, once in a while she does come out on top:
    • In "Secret Garden" she becomes a client of Dr Crawford a skilled gynecologist who is sought after by nearly every woman for his expertise.

    • In "Mentallo Case" She ends up getting the best gift when all of the participants are up in arms over the gifts they got.

    • Unfortunately subverted in the finale—In "Sandwiched Out" she moves to another city with her boyfriend and later fiancee who is rich, sweet and attractive, the ideal mate. However, in "The China Syndrome" he ends up dumping her after getting her pregnant and Holly is on her own and in dire financial circumstances.
    • Spence could also be seen as a butt monkey at times and is often the victim of his friends' or family's stupidity or just fate. Nevertheless he occasionally comes out on top.
    • In "G'Night Stalker" He manages to pull of an elaborate prank on Doug after being the victim of many pranks
    • In "Emotional Rollercoaster" He ends up getting the girl although she is dressed as a giant sentient ice cream cone
  • Took a Level in Cynic: Doug and Carrie's characters go from sarcastic but loving in Season 1 to downright hateful in Seasons 8-9.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Both Doug and Carrie. Doug has some selfish moments in early seasons, but is generally a Nice Guy. He becomes a lot more self-centered and prone to Jerkassery in later seasons. Carrie actually started out as probably one of the most well-adjusted and nicest characters you'll see in an American Sitcom, but in later seasons she's a Jerk with a Heart of Gold at best.
    • In early seasons, Arthur is a Cloudcuckoolander but is generally kindhearted. In later seasons he becomes a total asshole who isn't above going screwing over family and friends for personal gain.
  • Too Much Information: Arthur gives unnecessary detail on Carrie's conception while talking to Doug. One woman also tells Carrie details of her sex life she really doesn't want.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Doug's favorite topping for hotdogs - mayonnaise.
  • This is a more believable version than you usually see. Doug used to be stocky rather than just fat, and Carrie is enough of a bitch to counterbalance her looks.
  • Subverted by the fact that Doug is not ugly, and is never referred to as such in-universe (except by Carrie when she is mad at him). He's just fat.
    • In fact it's heavily implied that Doug could rather easily find another woman if necessary despite his weight, but it's outright stated that Doug is possibly one of the few people alive who are kind and patient enough to put up with Carrie's personality.
  • Unwanted Gift Plot: Doug and Carrie receive a hideous painting of them for their anniversary from Deacon and Kelly. They pretend to love it but secretly try to get rid of it. It turns out Deacon and Kelly intentionally gave them a horrible present so they would be allowed to get rid of an unwanted gift Doug and Carrie had given them.
  • Viewers Are Morons: Were we really not supposed to notice that Mr. Kaplan and Mr. Kaufman were played by the same actor?
  • Westminster Chimes: The doorbell of Doug and Carrie's annoying neighbors, the Sackskys.
  • Wham Line: "Oh, I'm sorry, are you related to the deceased?" note 
    • "Well, after the first jerk I married, I decided from now on, only gay men!" note 
    • "Have you checked your apartment in Manhattan?" note 
    • " I, um I, uh— I lost it." note 
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Deacon's character does not get any sort of resolution or final moment in the series finale. Given that Spence, Danny, and even Holly all got a final moment, it's a bit odd that the arguably most important secondary character of the series is simply brushed off and never seen or mentioned again.
  • White Guilt: Arthur does some research on his ancestry and discovers some of his ancestors were once slave traders. He apologizes to Deacon (the only black person he knows, apparently), who tells him there is no need since he didn't do it. Later though he discovers he's wrong, and his ancestors were actually Irish travelers. He's now free of guilt and then unabashedly tries to get Deacon doing unpaid chores as a means of paying off a debt he owes Arthur, outraging him with this about-face.
    You want me to become your slave?!?
  • You Get What You Pay For: Doug decides to give Carrie eye surgery for her birthday so that she no longer needs glasses. However, she ends up going through a much longer than usual adjusting period almost completely blind. Turns out that Doug decided to not go to the surgeon Carrie's boss recommended but another one because the latter had coupons. Carrie is understandably upset and forces Doug to take her to the other one.
  • You Say Tomato: Doug once got into an argument with Arthur when he asked for the "catsup" (which is an acceptable variation of "ketchup", just not to Doug). Of course, Doug is one to talk, considering the way he talks: "Sanitasheeown." "I'm the 'onioniown' guy!"


Video Example(s):


Soapy Silhouette

While Doug is shaving, Carrie's sister Sarah jumps into the shower. Unfortunately, the sight of her silhouette in the mirror makes him hot and bothered and he ends up dinging himself a bit.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / SexySilhouette

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