The Monkees was about four incredibly clean cut aspiring young musicians with regrettable taste in clothes and haircuts who people on the show treated like they were pierced and tattooed Alternative Rockers. But hey, it was the Sixties!
The series ran two seasons on NBC from 1966 to 1968. The show ended its initial run when the group and the network could not agree on a format for the third season. The band wanted to update the format and make it more like a variety show, while the network wanted to maintain the status quo. NBC decided to pull the plug, but did make an agreement with the band for three television specials to be produced. When the first, the extremely weird 33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee, bombed in the ratings, plans for the other two specials were cancelled. However, Saturday morning reruns on CBS and ABC were successful. Then in 1986, a marathon showing of the series on MTV produced that network's best ratings to date, propelling the group back into the limelight. Over the next few years, the series would return to syndication on Nick @ Nite and a variety of local channels. It's available in its entirety on VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray, and as of 2011 the series has been a weekend fixture on over-the-air digital subchannel network Antenna TV, which also occasionally airs Head.
The Monkees television series contains examples of:
- Absentee Actor: Mike Nesmith is conspicuously absent from "The Card Carrying Red Shoes".
- Accidental Misnaming:
- Every minor character seems to be completely incapable of pronouncing Mike Nesmith's last name. Among the variants: Nishwash, Nashmirth, Nipmop... Subverted in "The Monkees in Texas", when the villians refer to Mike and his aunt as "Nesters"...he starts to correct them before his aunt explains that the word means "farmer" and that they were correct in their word choice.
- In the opening sequence, Peter gets increasingly upset when each of the others is mis-identified as him, then smiles once the credits get his name right.
- In "Monkee vs. Machine", when Peter gets flustered in an interview, the computer identifies him as "Notwhat" and "Nitwit".
- Acquired Situational Narcissism: In "Monkees At The Movies," after the guys spend the majority of the episode getting Frankie Catalina to leave the set in order to land Davy the lead role, Davy gets cast and immediately starts acting the same as Frankie. He snaps out of it fairly quickly and quits, telling the director that becoming a movie star was spoiling his character.
- Adorkable: Mike playing a folk song on a TV talent show.
- Peter was Adorkableness Personified!
- Adults Dressed as Children: All (except Mike) take turns disguised as 11-13 year-olds in "Monkee vs. Machine", ultimately to throw a Spanner in the Works and disrupt a toy company's product testing session.
- And again in "Captain Crocodile," Davy and Peter barge in on the studio board meeting disguised as children demanding to see The Monkees perform. Even the studio head (who is a child) is fooled.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: When Peter applies for a job in "Monkee vs. Machine", he gets confused when the computer interviews him:Computer: To preclude the variable factor inherent in the human equation, we have instituted this new electronic personnel procedure acquiring. Your name, please?
Computer: Thank you, last name "What". And your first name, Mr. What?
Peter: No, it's not "what".
Computer: Notwhat, Mr. Notwhat What.
Peter: Wait a minute, that's not my name at all. My name is...
Peter: Peter, you dig? Pete.
Computer: You dig peat, occupation peat digger. And your mother's maiden name?
Computer: Mother's name "Thomson". Sex, please?
Peter: Female, of course.
Computer: All right, Mrs. Notwhat.
Peter: No, my mother is female.
Computer: What do you do in your spare time, Mrs. Notwhat?
Peter: Listen, I'm a man.
Computer: In your spare time, you are a man.
Peter: No, no... that's not it at all. First of all, you got my name wrong.
Computer: Correction, name misspelled. Please give correct letter.
Peter: Well, I...
Computer: Correct letter is "I". Name is not "Notwhat", but "Nitwit".
Peter: Oh brother.
Computer: Brother is also a nitwit.
Peter: Now just a minute...!
Computer: That will do, Nitwit. Test complete. Interview ended, application rejected.
- Mike later turns the tables on the computer when he uses this interview as a Logic Bomb.
- Alien Invasion: "Monkees Watch Their Feet", "The Frodis Caper"
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Played with in "The Wild Monkees". The four boys try to adopt "tough" personas in order to impress some female bikers. They immediately become cowards again once the girls' actually tough biker boyfriends enter the picture.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Yes, there really is a Texas prairie chicken, and it's even more endangered now than it was in 1967 (about 32 left in the wild after Hurricane Harvey).
- And You Thought It Was a Game: In "The Picture Frame", the Monkees are hired to play bank robbers in a movie holdup scene, not knowing they will actually be robbing a bank.
- In "Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers", a shady publicity agent (actually the manager of a rival band) convinces the Monkees to submit to a phony kidnapping as a publicity stunt. Only, he doesn't tell the band that it will be a real kidnapping.
- Anticlimactic Parent: Davy's grandfather flies in from England for a visit, under the impression that Davy is a big star. Panicked, Davy convinces the rest of the band to pose as his chauffer, houseboy, and personal chef to keep up appearances. Of course, given what show we're talking about, it fails, but the grandfather allows him to stay (rather than taking him back to England) because he has "such loyal friends".
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Micky in "The Chaperone", at least to Davy's love interest's father.
Mike: Wow, what a great looking chick! She's the most beautiful thing I've ever laid eyes on! Look at those sideburns!
- Also with Davy in "Some Like It Lukewarm" to radio personality Jerry Blavat.
- Mike in "Fairy Tale" to both Peter and Mike!
- Audience Murmurs: Parodied when at least one of the boys says "rhubarb" over and over in "Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers".
- Ballet Episode: "The Card Carrying Red Shoes" centers on a prima ballerina who tries to defect to America as she gets caught up in a spy game and falls for Peter.
- BANG Flag Gun: In the second season/syndicated opening credits.
Rocco: Nobody leaves the meeting.
- In "Monkees à la Carte", Peter, disguised as a member of the Purple Flower Gang, is stopped by one of the Mooks:
Peter: Who says so?
Rocco: This gun says so.
Peter: Oh, yeah? Well, this gun says "I go". [Peter pulls out a gag gun that says "I go" ]
Rocco: Oh yeah, hurry back.
- Beach Bury: In "Here Come the Monkees", the boys (except Davy) are buried side by side up to their necks at the beach. Each has a bucket over his head, and Davy lifts the bucket off so each can sing a tune (to help the Girl of the Week study for her history test).
- Beach Episode: The Monkees lived in a shabby Southern California beach house, with scenes in many episodes taking place at the beach. The episode "Monkees at the Movies" takes place almost entirely on the beach.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Micky's wishes give him and the guys bad luck in the episode "The Monkee's Paw" in their version of the classic story.
- Big Brother Instinct: Mike has this for the rest of the band, and it's implied that he's the oldest (in the show's universe, anyway). Possibly explained in "Monkee Mother," where he said that he was the oldest of Massive Numbered Siblings and had to help take care of them (even though in real life Mike Nesmith was an only child).
- Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill......
- Bland-Name Product: In one episode the boys take a bus to New York City on Blem Bus Lines.Micky: You know them - Ride Blem, and leave the driving to them.
- *Bleep*-dammit!: NBC wouldn't let them say "Hell" in "The Devil and Peter Tork", even though they were talking about the place and not just cursing. Cue a magnificent bit of Biting-the-Hand Humor where they Lampshade this by saying "Hell" over and over, bleeped out with a whistle sound.Davy (the three have just escaped Hell): So, that's what (whistle) is all about.Mike: (whistle) is really scary!Micky: You know what else is really scary? They won't let you say (whistle) on television.
- Bloodless Carnage: "Monkees à la Carte" ends with rival gangsters shooting each other, which is depicted by the actors simply falling over. The scene deliberately avoids realism.
- Bookcase Passage: In the episode "The Spy Who Came In From the Cool", there is a secret exit from the pawn shop through a harp case. Micky jokes that he thought it was through the accordion.
- Bottle Episode: "Monkee Mother" and "A Coffin Too Frequent" both take place entirely in the Monkees' apartment. There's also the episode "Fairy Tale", which takes place on a minimalist cardboard set.
- Bound and Gagged: The boys were tied to chairs a few times, including in "Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers" and "Monkees Chow Mein".
- The Boxing Episode: "Monkees in the Ring"
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- "Dance, Monkee, Dance" has a scene where Micky leaves the set and talks directly to the writers (who are portrayed as elderly Asian men).
- In "The Devil and Peter Tork", Micky insists that the prosecution call another witness, on the grounds that the television show isn't over and they need to fill more time.
- An episode set in the Wild West (despite still being in the 1960s) had Micky approached by a saloon girl. He hissed at her, "Not now; this is a family show!"
- ...and other examples too numerous to document. Most episodes contained at least one, if only an aside to the audience.
- Calvinball: In "The Frodis Caper", the boys make up a card game called "creebage" to escape from imprisonment.
- Call-Back: "The Frodis Caper" has two odd call backs to "The Monkees on The Wheel": the villain in "Frodis" is Wizard Glick, whose name is mentioned in "Wheel". Wizard Glick was played by Rip Taylor, who played a croupier in the earlier episode, and he quotes a couple of his lines from "Wheel" in "Frodis".
- The song performed by the all-female band The Westminster Abbeys in "Some Like It Lukewarm" is just a sped-up "Last Train To Clarksville", which they Lampshade by interspersing a few quick cuts of sped-up footage of The Monkees performing it.
- The Cameo: Liberace in one episode, smashing a piano to pieces with a sledgehammer as a performance piece, and Burgess Meredith in "Monkees Blow Their Minds" as The Penguin.
- Celebrity Endorsement: The band appeared in advertisements for Kellogg's cereals and Yardley aftershave. When the show was placed in Saturday morning reruns in 1969-1970, Dolenz, Jones and Nesmith appeared in a series of Kool-Aid advertisements.
- Censorship by Spelling: This little gem from Peter:"Well, when I was very young I used to be embarrassed about kissing but now I can talk very openly about...S-E-X."
- Chase Scene: The kids chasing the band in "Captain Crocodile," among many others in Monkee "romps" that the series was well-known for.
- Chick Magnet: Davy Jones. The episode "One Man Shy" has them playing Spin The Bottle, with the bottle's mouth homing in on him every time. When he goes into another room, the bottle flies off the table and sticks to the door.
- Christmas Episode: "The Christmas Show."
- Circus Episode: In "The Monkees at the Circus" the band goes to a bankrupt circus and pretend to be a French trapeze act in order to help them drum up business.
- Coat Cape: Micky did this when he was pretending to be a big-time movie producer.
- Code Name; In "Art, For Monkees' Sake": "Manchester Marauder" (Davy), "Connecticut Counterspy" (Peter), "Los Angeles Leopard" (Micky), and the "(Modest) but Towering Texan" (Mike).
- Combat Breakdown: The climactic fight in "Fairy Tale".
- Comic-Book Adaptation: It was published by Dell Comics and lasted 17 issues. It matched the slapstick tone of the TV series, and the artist depicted Mike with Pointy Ears.
- Concealing Canvas: A painting hiding a painting of a safe hiding an actual safe.
- Cool Car: The Monkeemobile, a Pontiac GTO modified for the TV series by celebrated car customizers George Barris and Dean Jeffries.
- Too modified; Jim Wengers, then head of marketing for Pontiac, was displeased with the result as it looked far too different from the cars he was trying to sell.
- Cool Shades: Mike in later episodes and the movie Head.
- Corpsing: In "Art, For Monkees' Sake," not only does Mike collapse in laughter watching Liberace destroy a piano in an art museum, but the camera also helpfully zooms in on him as he does.
- And that's just one of the few examples that wasn't from the boys cracking each other up through ad-libbing.
- In "Fairy Tale," Mike can't help but laugh when Peter says that he's too young to get married (in real life, Michael was already a married father and was younger than Peter, not to mention that Peter had already been married and divorced at that point).
- Courtroom Antic: In "The Picture Frame", Mike, Micky, and Davy make a very thorough mockery of the court system.
- Cranky Landlord: Mr. Babbit.
- Creative Closing Credits: The Christmas Episode has the behind-the-scenes crew and office workers saying hello to the camera during the closing credits.
- Creator Cameo: James Frawley, who directed many episodes of the series (and had previously been an actor), also made cameo appearances in a handful of shows, including a Yugoslav diplomat in "Son of a Gypsy" and Oraculo's assistant Rudy in "Monkees Blow Their Minds".
- Monkees co-creator Bob Rafelson also appeared in a few episodes: Notably as "The World's Oldest Flower Child" in "The Monkees Race Again."
- Credits Gag: The second season credit sequence mistakenly names everyone Peter, cut to Peter with sad face, cut back to Monkee with his correct name... and, finally, Peter smiling when the credits get his name right.
- Criminal Doppelgänger: In "Alias Micky Dolenz", Micky gets in a bit of trouble because he looks absolutely identical to a dangerous gangster wanted by the police.
- Crossdresser: All four Monkees appeared in drag on the show. In fact, with the exception of Peter, each of them had a drag role as the main focus of an episode. The topper might be Mike Nesmith playing the princess in "Fairy Tale".
- Crystal Ball: The fortune teller in "Monkee See, Monkee Die" has one at the seance (& another one that's just a snowglobe).
- Cut Away Gag: Usually a couple or so per episode.
- Dad the Veteran: In "The Chaperone", Davy tries to date the daughter of a military man, but has a difficult time finding time alone with her because he runs his household like a barracks.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mike.
- Deal with the Devil: "The Devil and Peter Tork"
- Disguised in Drag: Several episodes
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "The Monkees Watch Their Feet", Narrator Pat Paulson talks of the "Alien-ation" of American Youth, as well as part of Micky's problems stemming from "being forced to fight in an oversea war he didn't understand" (while showing him in World War I garb).
- Door Roulette: Micky and Peter's peril in "Monkee Chow Mein."
- Dropped After the Pilot: Rudy Gunther, the band's manager, played by Bing Russell.note The producers decided the character wasn't necessary, an important decision since the depiction of four young men without an authority figure was unheard-of on American television at the time. Since the pilot was originally aired as the 10th episode of the series, Rudy's sudden appearance and disappearance made him seem more like a One-Shot Character.
- End-of-Episode Silliness: The interviews of the guys by an off-camera Bob Rafelson whenever episodes ran short. While usually silly, sometimes they'd have a thoughtful discussion about youth culture concerns (like the Sunset Strip riots or the co-option of hippie rhetoric by mainstream culture). Occasionally they'd end episodes with the group saying goodbye or with Hilarious Outtakes.
- Everybody Must Get Stoned: "Mijacogeo: The Frodis Caper."
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Besides the name of the band, there's a stuffed monkey in the boys' beach house.
- Expository Theme Tune/Title Theme Tune: The TV show had an iconic one, quoted above.
- Leading Micky to be quoted as complaining "The Beatles don't have to sing 'Hey, Hey, we're the Beatles'"
- Exploiting the Fourth Wall: In "Dance, Monkee, Dance", Micky exits the set and goes to the writers' room and asks them to write a way to escape their current predicament. The trope is subverted when upon returning to the set, Micky reads what they have written and tosses it aside, commenting, "This is terrible! Those guys are really overpaid."
- Expy: While not blatant, the series clearly used The Beatles as templates for the characters. Peter/Ringo is the most obvious one, with Davy/Paul and Mike/John working pretty well too. Micky doesn't match with George with at all, however. Alternately, you can say that Peter is a hybrid of Ringo and George, and John got split into Mike (Deadpan Snarker) and Micky (John's sillier side).
- Extra! Extra! Read All About It! ("The Devil and Peter Tork")
- Failure Is the Only Option
- Fake Food: In the episode "Success Story", while pretending to be rich and successful, Davy is served rubber food while his grandfather gets the real stuff. Also, the fruit in the center of the table is plastic.
- Fanservice: Micky interrupts the climactic gunfight in "Monkees A La Carte" in order to parade an attractive woman across the screen. "The producers thought we should have a pretty girl in the show."
- Film Felons: In "The Picture Frame", Mike, Davy, and Micky are tricked into robbing a bank, thinking they're acting in a movie.
- Finger Poke of Doom: Played with in "Monkee See, Monkee Die" when Peter seemingly knocks out the bad guys by "shooting" at them with his finger. They really just happened to pass out at the exact moment Peter did that (from a drugged drink).
- The Fool: Peter.
- Four-Man Band:
- The Only Sane Man - Mike is considered the leader of the group and has the most common sense of the four.
- The Smart Guy - Micky is usually the one who comes up with all the plans.
- The Pervert - Davy tends to attract a lot of women and even gets distracted by girls himself sometimes.
- The Butt-Monkey - Peter is the goofball of the group a;and is often a victim of hilarity.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Davy is Sanguine, Micky is Choleric, Mike is Melancholic and Peter is Phlegmatic.
- Fractured Fairy Tale: Appropriately named, "Fairy Tale."
- Frothy Mugs of Water: The boys have milk whenever they're at a bar.
- Fundraiser Carnival: "Monkees Mind their Manor" has a medieval faire to raise money to buy Davy's inherited Manor for the local villagers.
- Funny Background Event: A guy randomly riding on the bumper of a backwards-moving car (with his arms out like an Egyptian) in the beginning and end of "Monkees Marooned."
- Game Show Appearance : In "Captain Crocodile" the boys parody two classic game shows with "What's My Scene?" and "To Tell A Fib"Micky: Will the real David Jones please stand up?Davy: I AM standing up!
- Gay Paree: "The Monkees In Paris."
- The Generation Gap: Played straight (it was the 60's after all).
- Genie in a Bottle: In one episode, Davy rubs against a table lamp and a genie appears. He turns to the camera saying "Imagine That! Wrong show!"
- Gilligan Cut: in "The Frodis Caper"
- Mike: We made it awfully easy. You don't suppose it could be some kind of a trick, do you?(cut to Mike and the others chained up in chairs)Mike: It was some kind of a trick...
- Girl of the Week: More often than not, an episode will feature a girl after one (and in some cases, more than one) of the Monkees' affections. Mainly Davy, the cute Chick Magnet of the group.
- Grade-School C.E.O.: In "Captain Crocodile" the owner of the studio is a kid.
- Granola Guy: Peter.
- Groupie Brigade: "The Monkees in Paris".
- Hanging Judge: The episode "The Devil vs. Peter Tork" uses Roy Bean as the judge for the trial, and explicitly calls him this.
- Haunted House: Featured in "Monkee See, Monkee Die" and "Monstrous Monkee Mash".
- Have a Gay Old Time: "Don we now our GAY apparel!"
- Henpecked Husband: The Monkees find Millie a husband in "Monkee Mother" and he quickly becomes this.
- Hilarious Outtakes: In The Tag of "Monkees On the Wheel", Mike tries over and over to finish the line "Save the Texas Prairie Chicken", but ends up corpsing over and over. He finally gets the line down (to fake thunderous applause).
- His Name Is...: Micky attempts to invoke this in "Hitting the High Seas". When the captain is about to make the boys walk the plank, Micky tries to stall them by saying that if they're killed, the captain and his crew will never know about "the secret". It works, at first, until Peter blows it by revealing that he isn't aware of any secret.
- Horny Devils: The boys are surrounded by a number of ladies with devil horns and barbed tails in Hell during the "Salesman" video in "The Devil and Peter Tork".
- Hot as Hell: The "Salesman" sequence in "The Devil and Peter Tork" shows the boys in Hell, tormented by a bunch of pitchfork-wielding sexy female demons clad in leotards with horns and tails.
- Hurricane of Puns: In "The Picture Frame/The Bank Robbery", when Mike, Davy and Micky are being interrogated by the police:Sergeant: All right, my fine feathered monkees, start talking!
[Mike, Davy and Micky mumble at random]
Sergeant: About the robbery!
Mike: Huh, well, you see, it's like I told you, but we thought we were doing a movie.
Sergeant: Still sticking to that story, huh? Well, if you know what's good for you, you'll change your tune!
[Mike blows a sour note on a harmonica and repeats what he just said in a high-pitched voice]
Sergeant: You do that once more, and you're gonna get the third degree!
Micky: Oh, three degrees! Here's a Ph.D. ...[Mickey starts handing out diplomas]
Sergeant: All right, bring out the light!
Micky: Oh, the light!
Davy: Oh, we might as well get a suntan while we're here. [They put on sunglasses]
Sergeant: Okay, Monkees, are you ready to spill the beans?
Micky: You think we should?
Micky: All right, here we go: spilling the beans. [They spill canfuls of beans on the floor]
Sergeant: All right, throw the book at 'em! [An officer throws a book into Mike's hands]
- Hypno Trinket: The infamous magic necklace in "Monstrous Monkee Mash".
- I Can't Hear You: "The Wild Monkees", when Micky runs his motorcycle indoors and no one can hear anything.
- Ice-Cream Koan: In "The Prince and The Paupers"Mike: “If apple seed turns to wing, it’ll fly away a beautiful butterfly, but if a butterfly turns into apple seed, it’ll just lay there on the ground.” That’s what Ling Foo Yang said five thousand years ago.Davy: Oh really? What does that mean?Mike: I just don’t have any idea.
- Identical Stranger: "Alias Micky Dolenz"- Micky looks exactly like a notorious criminal. The police recruit Micky to impersonate the crook in order to capture his gang and retrieve the merchandise they stole. Things go awry when said crook busts out of jail and catches Micky in the act.
- Imagine Spot: Lampshaded and combined with Breaking the Fourth Wall in "Monstrous Monkee Mash" when the episode's villain intrudes on a fantasy scene that Micky and Davy are having. "Hey, what are you doing? This is our fantasy scene!"
- Improbably Cool Car: The Monkeemobile probably should have been an early '50s panel truck, since they were broke all the time...
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: In "The Devil and Peter Tork", the only reason Peter wanted to play the harp wasn't for fame or fortune, but merely because he just wanted to play the harp. Zero decides to test this by seemingly taking away the ability, which Mike says that Peter always possessed, and Peter gives a touching performance of beautiful harp music, which leads Judge Roy Bean to declare Peter not guilty.
- Incredibly Obvious Bug: In the episode "The Spy Who Came In From the Cool", the bug is in a lamp at the center of the table which the guys blatantly move back and forth between them and the spies.
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: In "Monkees Get Out More Dirt", the four boys have all fallen in love with April Conquest and want to get away from the apartment to go see her. Micky suddenly declares that his aunt is ill and leaves. Mike announces he is going to the store to get dog food. When informed that they don't have a dog, he says that he'll pick up a dog too while he's out. Davy announces a desire to become a boxer and leaves immediately to start doing road work. Peter, who has believed every excuse, isn't sure what to do now that he's all alone, and decides without a hint of irony that he'll go visit April.
- Inkblot Test: In "The Monkee's Paw" a German psychiatrist (played by an uncredited Severn Darden) administers one to Micky, who can't talk. The doctor insists that the inkblot shows "a bunny and a chicken" and gets in an argument with the other Monkees over it (Mike sees flowers, Peter says it's a ketchup stain and Davy thinks it looks like a bunch of dancing women).
- Insane Troll Logic: In 'The Devil and Peter Tork", Micky has a dialogue with Attila the Hun consisting of indecipherable gibberish with his sword drawn, and Mike suddenly stands up and says something at random, to which Attila respectfully bows away.Micky: What did you say?
Mike: I don't know.
- Instant Messenger Pigeon: Parodied in "Monkee See, Monkee Die".
- Interdimensional Travel Device: Mike turns the Monkeemobile into a dimension machine (and lowrider) in 1997's Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees.
- I Take Offense to That Last One!: From "Monkees a la Carte"Red O'Leary: Fuselli, you're a two-timing, double crossing, cigar smoking rat!Fuselli: Watch what you're saying, Red! I don't smoke cigars!
- Jury of the Damned: "The Devil and Peter Tork"
- Karma Houdini: The villains in "The Picture Frame". The Monkees get off the hook for the robbery, but the real crooks aren't shown getting in trouble for it.
- Lame Comeback: Micky: "You do and I'll be sorry!"
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: A henchman attempts to Kill Peter to Uphold a Masquerade, but his plan is quickly shot down by his boss. They opt to brainwash him instead.Villain: What are you doing with that [gun]?Henchman: He Knows Too Much.Villain: No, we cannot afford to murder here. Besides, I have a better plan...
- Laugh Track: Dropped midway through the second season.
- Let's Mock the Monsters: Micky and Mike, confronted with a mummy, berate it for being dirty and smelly. The mummy retires discomfited. (Note that despite his bravado, Micky is actually terrified.)
- Lip-Lock Sun-Block: Peter and Miss Cartwright (the "Girl of the Week") kiss this way in the episode "One Man Shy".
- Logic Bomb: Mike confuses the computer interviewing him at the toy company and he gets the job.Computer: What is your name?
Mike: Nesmith, what's yours?
Mike: Thank you, Mr. What, and what is your first name?
Computer: It's not what.
Mike: Mr. Notwhat What. And what is your occupation?
Computer: Name is not "Notwhat". I am computer DJ-61.
Mike: Oh, you're a D.J.? Look, I bet you got a great record collection.
Computer [smokes from a short circuit]: Wait, I am not programmed for these questions.
Mike: Oh, you want a different program? Wait, okay, look, um... [Mike starts pressing buttons; the computer sparks up and dispensing punch-cards]
- Worth noting that he starts off using exactly the sequence of lines that the computer used earlier to confuse Peter.
- Louis Cypher: S. Zero, the pawn shop owner in "The Devil and Peter Tork", who comes to the Monkees' door to collect Peter's soul in exchange for the harp.
- Lovable Coward: All four of the boys have shades of this.Davy: Mike, that guy was throwing knives at me. He could've killed me! Why didn't you do something?Mike: Well, I didn't want to antagonize him.
- Martin Van Buren: The answer to a trivia question in "Dance, Monkee, Dance".
- Medium Awareness: One of the first television series to really play with this concept.
- Mickey Mousing: Slapstick gags are punctuated by the music.
- Mind Control: "The Frodis Caper", "Monkees Blow Their Minds"
- Mind Screw: The movie Head, as well as the TV special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee.
- Mock Millionaire: Done twice; once so that Peter could romance a debutante, and another time to convince Davy's grandfather he is a success so he won't force Davy to return to England.
- Mr. Fanservice: All four boys, but especially Davy.
- Myspeld Rökband
- Nerds Are Sexy: Micky spends most of "I Was A 99lb. Weakling" trying to win the Girl of the Week away from a Jerk Jock by working out, only for her to go for a nerdy guy reading Marcel Proust.
- New Job Episode: Besides episodes where the band gets a new gig to play, there's "Monkee vs. Machine" where Mike gets a job at a toy company, "Monkees on the Line" where all help work an answering service, and "Monkees at the Movies" where they are extras in a movie (among other episodes).
- New Technology Is Evil: The episode "Monkees vs. Machine" is all about a Jerk Ass toy company executive who is in favor of firing all unnecessary humans and letting computers design and run most everything. Mike is seen as having a genuis level IQ for confusing the computer that interviews potential employees.
- Nice Hat: Mike's iconic wool cap.
- Also the leafy green bathing caps that made an appearance in two stories: Find the Monkees (in which they were worn by the members of The Jolly Green Giants), and Captain Crocodile (in which they were used in a Pie in the Face gag).
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In "The Monkees At The Movies", the teen idol/beach party movie star was an obvious spoof of Frankie Avalon. His name, Frankie Catalina, was even a Stealth Pun of Avalon's name (the largest town on Catalina Island is Avalon).
- No Fourth Wall
- No-Hoper Repeat: 33 and 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee was broadcast opposite the Academy Awards. As a further indicator of how seriously NBC regarded the special, its segments were aired out of order.
- No Party Given: In "Monkee Mayor", Mike threatens to take his complaint with the current mayor and "dump it in the opposing party's lap". It's never stated which party the mayor belongs to or which party would be the opposing party.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: In "Everywhere a Sheik, Sheik", Donna Loren, playing the princess of a fictional Middle Eastern country, makes no attempt to sound even remotely Arabian.
- One Steve Limit: Slightly averted by Robert Michael "Mike" Nesmith and George Michael "Micky" Dolenz.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In "Success Story", Davy (who is a born & raised Brit) states that he was raised by his grandfather, who is flying in from England to see his grandson. However, when we first hear the grandfather speak, his British accent is very mild-to-nonexistent, to the point of almost sounding American, and later, when the charade is falling apart, the grandfather starts sounding...Irish? Ben Wright, who played the grandfather, was a London native, but his father was American.
- Out-of-Character Moment: Peter usually plays "the dummy". But then you see him spinning a bandit gun and translating for an island native.Mike: "I didn't know you could do that! You usually play the dummy!"
- Pass the Popcorn: "The Picture Frame" has three of them robbing a bank after being tricked into thinking they're making a movie. When the police present them with the film from the surveillance cameras as evidence, they treat it as an actual movie, complete with being critical about their performance and popcorn.
- Perpetual Poverty: There's often a threat of running out of food or being kicked out of the beach house for non-payment of rent, but the status quo is maintained.
- Phrase-Catcher: In "The Devil and Peter Tork", when Mike calls Mr. Zero to take the stand:Davy: Would you please raise your right hand and put your left hand on the Bible?
Zero: You must be joking.
- Pie in the Face: The episode "Captain Crocodile".
- Pirate Parrot: The captain in "Hitting the High Seas" has one. His voice is provided by Micky Dolenz; this is lampshaded when Micky is called upon to impersonate the parrot because he is the only one of the boys with the skill to do so.
- Plunger Detonator: Usually, something else completely blows up instead.
- Portrait Painting Peephole
- Prank Injuries: Mike has a fake arrow through his head in one of the romps.
- Precious Puppies: The romp to "Gonna Buy Me a Dog."
- Prince and Pauper: Davy impersonates a visiting prince in order to find him a wife.
- Puddle-Covering Chivalry: Used in "One Man Shy" as part of Peter's dating etiquette training. Instead of using his coat, Peter uses his girlfriend's.
- Read the Fine Print: Peter in "Dance, Monkee, Dance" is tricked into signing a lifetime contract at a dance studio after winning a free dance lesson.
- Rearrange the Song:
- In the 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee special, Micky sings a slowed-down, funkier version of "I'm a Believer".
- "Words" and "Valleri" were two songs featured in the show's first season. Reworked versions of those songs would be featured in Season Two.
- The pilot featured two different versions of "I Wanna Be Free": a midtempo version sung by Davy and Micky, and a slow version featuring just Davy.
- Recursive Canon: Says Mike in "The Frodis Caper": "Hey! It's 7:30, 6:30 Central time! Time for The Monkees!"
- Reunion Show: Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees in 1997.
- Revival: The 1987 series/band The New Monkees, which was intended to make the franchise relevant to the MTV era, was a revival In-Name-Only. It featured none of the original band members, and it had only one tenuous connection to the 60s project: the executive producer was Steve Blauner, studio manager of Rafelson and Schneider's Raybert Productions, the company that made the original series and Head. The New Monkees failed as quickly as the "old" Monkees had succeeded.
- One odd Shout-Out - we see them watching the tv - when they see Micky singing "Last Train to Clarksville" they all shout "Dad!"
- Running Gag: Many of them. Some were contained within a single episode, while others spanned several shows. A common example of the second type involves someone telling Davy that he needs to stand up, whereupon Davy (the shortest of the four) or another Monkee comments that he is standing up.
- Ruritania: In "Royal Flush", the country of Harmonica, where the princess and soon-to-be queen is from. "Card Carrying Red Shoes" is about a traveling ballet company from Druvania, a fictional version of Russia.
- "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: "Monkee See, Monkee Die", though the fortune teller doesn't always try to hide her involvement in the scheme.
- Senseless Violins: Subverted in "Monkees A La Carte": "Boss! There's a guitar in this guitar case!"
- Serial Romeo: Davy.
- Share Phrase: "Don't do that"
- She Is All Grown Up: Parodied in "The Monkees in Texas". Michael marvels at how beautiful his TV cousin Lucy turned out to be, given how awkward and unattractive she was when they were younger. Aunt Kate points out that Michael is thinking of his other cousin, Clara, who still looks the same.
- Shirtless Scene: Parodied in "Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers". When the band contest in which the Monkees are entered is won by a man who had his clothes torn off earlier in the episode, the group realizes that the key to success is having your clothes ripped off and proceed to do it to each other in a desperate grab for attention.
- Played straight with Davy in "Monkees in the Ring" during his boxing training.
- In "Monkees a la Mode", when asked what they have to lose by being featured in the magazine, the group replies, "Our shirts!", at which point Micky and Peter are suddenly shirtless.
- Shout-Out: The show contained frequent references to other popular artists of the period. At the end of the concert episode, Mike thanks the Lovin' Spoonful, the Mamas and Papas, and The Beatles for being such great groups.
- From "Randy Scouse Git": "The Four Kings of EMI are sitting stately on the floor..."
- The final episode, "The Frodis Caper", begins with The Beatles song "Good Morning, Good Morning".note
- In Head, Peter can be heard whistling The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" in the bathroom scene.
- During the song "Papa Gene's Blues" Mike says "Oh, pick it, Luther!", meaning Johnny Cash guitarist Luther Perkins.
- In the Christmas Episode a quick cutaway shot of Micky at a chalkboard figuring out a math problem reveals the words "Beatles" and "Frodis" written in the corner.
- Micky says the first thing the Monster/Android needs to be a rock musician is a Beatles haircut.
- In the song "Gonna Buy Me A Dog," Davy's line "You can't teach a dog to do that; you can only train elephants" is a reference to Micky's childhood role in the series Circus Boy.
- In one episode there's a joke contrasting Bob Dylan and Marshal Matt Dillon. This is a little Hilarious in Hindsight because it's been speculated that Bobby Zimmerman might have taken his stage name in honor of Marshal Dillon but chose Dylan because it was a cooler spelling.note
- Micky Dolenz has mentioned many times that the word "Mijacogeo" is a Shout-Out to the names of himself and his immediate family: Micky, his mother Janelle, sister Coco and father George.
- In "The Monkees Race Again" Micky says "Curse you, Red Baron!"
- Sitcom Character Archetypes:
- The Wisecracker: Mike
- The Charmer: Davy
- The Goofball: Micky
- The Dork: Peter (as The Ditz who does things like play the harp, he straddles the line between Dork and a less zany Goofball. Tork rhyming with Dork also helps.)
- Something Completely Different: Especially in the second and last season, with such things as a concert episode ("The Monkees on Tour"), a Fairy Tale spoof and guest appearances by other musicians, such as Tim Buckley and Frank Zappa.
- Something Person: Monkee Men!
- Sound-Effect Bleep: In "The Devil and Peter Tork", after the Monkees imagine what hell might be like:Mike: So that's what [*cuckoo*] is all about.
Davy: Yeah, [*cuckoo*] is pretty scary.
Micky: You know what's even more scary?
Micky: You can't say [*cuckoo*]!note on television.
- Spin the Bottle: Played to help Peter's confidence in "One Man Shy."
- Spiritual Successor: Big Time Rush. Also Jonas. (It's been stated in Disney press releases that the series is directly inspired by The Monkees' TV concept.)
- Spooky Séance: "A Coffin Too Frequent".
- Spy Speak: In "The Spy Who Came In From the Cool", Davy inadvertently says the spy's secret phrase at a pawn shop, as he's actually looking for a pair of red maracas.
- Stage Mom: "Too Many Girls" finds one of these trying to pair her daughter with Davy in the hopes they'll rocket to stardom together.
- Stand-In Portrait
- Starving Artist: Despite the Cool Car and the nice beach house, the boys fit this trope to a T. To the point that they're happy to eat spaghetti off of Micky's head.
- Stop Trick
- Storybook Episode: The appropriately titled "Fairy Tale".
- Superhero Episode: A few episodes feature the guys dressed as Monkee Men and fighting crime (& sometimes flying to the rescue). In "Monkee Chow Mein", Davy & Mike's "powers" were limited to Volleying Insults at their opponents.
- In Find The Monkees, the band auditions over a pay phone as a Clark Kent Expy impatiently waits to use the booth.
- Defied in "The Frodis Caper/Mijacogeo" when Davy, Micky and Mike attempt to change into the Monkeemen, only to encounter a sign that prohibits using a phone booth for changing into superhero costumes.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music
- The Svengali: Oraculo, a washed-up stage magician in "Monkees Blow Their Minds", who brainwashes Peter to use him as his unwilling assistant for his stage act.
- The Tag: every episode would have a tag scene or an additional musical number before the credits.
- Take That!:
- One of the first shots in the series was of the Monkees using a Beatles poster as a Dartboard of Hate. In the "Here Come the Monkees" pilot episode, Mike throws a dart which lands on Ringo Starr. This was probably also a Shout-Out to Help!, which begins with a similar scene (except that it was a movie screen showing Beatles footage in the latter case).
- At the end of Episode 19, the boys give an interview regarding The Sunset Strip Riotsnote and when asked about it, the boys spoke their minds, especially with Micky chiming in, “There haven’t really been riots. In actuality, since I was there, there have been demonstrations. But I guess a lot of people, uh, journalists don’t know how to spell ‘demonstration’ so they use 'riot' because it only has four letters.”
- The Tape Knew You Would Say That: "Monkee See, Monkee Die" during the reading of the will (on phonograph)John Cunningham: I leave my mansion, and everything contained within it, to Miss Ellie Reynolds.Kingsley: Ellie Reynolds??John Cunningham: Shut up, Kingsley!
- Team Dad: Mike
- The Television Talks Back: In "The Monkees Get Out More Dirt", the boys are watching an advice presenter on tv who reads a letter relating to them.Dr. Sisters: Tormented, you say in the rest of your heartbreaking, and ungrammatical, letter, that you boys have made this girl fond of each of you by taking on interests she likes.Davy: That's right, what of it?Dr. Sisters: I'll tell you what of it! You've placed this girl in a dangerously emotional state. She is now drawn to four different boys, and this unresolved conflict could lead to a nervous collapse.Micky: You gotta be kidding!Dr. Sisters: Do I look like a kidder?Davy: That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard!Dr. Sisters: Oh, is it? I have here in my hand another letter, from a girl telling how she is in love with four boys. It's signed "Miss Laundromat".All four boys: Laundromat??Dr. Sisters: Yes, Laundromat! And she tells in this letter that she's so close to a nervous collapse, that she's too nervous to even write this letter.All four boys: That's nervous!Dr. Sisters: And don't forget collapse!
- Theme Tune Cameo: Used for comedic effect in multiple episodes. One example is in "Monkees A La Mode", when after the group is proclaimed "typical young persons" by a chic magazine, the show cuts to a photo montage of the boys making goofy faces while the show's theme song plays in the background.
- Theme Tune Extended: A bit of an aversion, because the longer take included on the debut album was actually recorded first. The shorter TV version was recorded a few weeks later and has an extra little part that was missing from the first version ("we may be comin' to your town!")
- This Is My Side: Happens in "Monkees Get Out More Dirt" when the four boys fight over a guest character played by Julie Newmar. The show plays with it, noting that each would have access to only one particular vital part of the apartment. Davy's side has the front door, implying he is the only one with the ability to come and go; however, he states that he would gladly trade Mike for the bathroom right away. Moments later, the whole arrangement is quickly forgotten when a show comes on TV that they want to see and everyone rushes to Peter's side (which contains the television set).
- Throw the Book at Them: In "The Picture Frame", a police detective says "Throw the book at them!" while interrogating the boys; Mike catches the book and begins to read it.
- Tic Tac Toe: Played for laughs in "Monkees à la Carte", when the Monkees (disguised as the Purple Flower gang) divide the city into nine sections, and Mickey whispers hints to the individual gangsters about which sections they should get, alternating between X's and O's, resulting in three X's down the middle column.
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Davy to the laundromat owner in "Monkees Get Out More Dirt".
- Davy and most girls, actually (he's quite short). In "Monkees at the Movies", he is paired up with a girl much taller than himself, and the height difference is played for laughs.
- Title Sequence Replacement: Each season had a similar Title Sequence, with the second one adding some new clips. The second season opening replaced the first one in reruns, but was restored for the DVDs.
- Translation: "Yes": "Kretch!"Peter: He says that he's the original Kimba of the Jungle and that when the movie company ran out of money here on location in 1916 they left him here behind to rot.Davy: What happened to the chick who played his wife?Peter: She ran off with a casting director who promised her a big career.Micky: What about the little kid that played er, the kid?Peter: He's alive and well in Argentina.Mike: You mean you got all that from... all he said was 'kretch'!Peter: Well, it's not the word, it's the way he said it.Davy: Do you speak English?Kimba: It's been long time since I speak in my native tongue.Peter: "No."
- Tuckerization: The group's advisor/dummy Mr. Schneider is named for the show's executive producer Bert Schneider.
- Twenty Years Into The Future: The reason why the show was such a hit 20 years later on MTV.
- Two Words: I Can't Count: In the episode, "Monkee vs. Machine"..., which is also a play on There Is No Rule Six.Mike: Remember these three little words: "Don't argue."Peter: That's two words.Mike: You're starting already.
- Unfortunate Names: In "Monkees a La Mode", fashion photographer Rob Roy Fingerhead.
- Unsound Effect: One episode parodies the fight scenes from the Adam West Batman series.
- Vacation Episode: The (nearly) episode-long romp "The Monkees in Paris".
- Video Wills: An audio phonograph version in "Monkee See, Monkee Die".Mike: It'll never sell as a single.Micky: Depends....what's on the flip side?
- Visual Pun: the tongue-lashing and the ants/aunts in "Monkees Marooned".
- Volleying Insults: In "Monkees Chow Mein", Davy and Mike are dressed as Monkee Men and bruise egos as their "weapon":Davy: You're a nail biter. You're a nail biter and your mother never ever loved you.
- Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Mike plays a hilariously over the top version in the "Fairy Tale" episode.
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Lampshaded in "Monkees à la Carte", after Peter (disguised as one of the Purple Flower Gang) has left the meeting to fetch the cops:
- What Happened to the Mouse?: At the beginning of "Monkee See, Monkee Die", before the plot gets underway, the boys' landlord tells them that he is kicking them out. Once the actual story begins, this plot thread is completely forgotten about and never addressed further.
- In "Hitting the High Seas", Mike goes down below after getting seasick from taking seasickness medicine and is never heard from again in that story. note
- Who Writes This Stuff?!: A Running Gag that appears in several episodes.
- An episode parodying Robinson Crusoe starts with the Crusoe and Man Friday characters watching The Monkees, and Friday saying, "Who writes this stuff?'' Once the band arrives, he would repeat this frequently while watching their antics.
- A more subtle example occurs in "Monkees a la Mode", which features a character named Rob Roy Fingerhead. Whenever his name is mentioned, Mike and Micky look at each other in disbelief and mouth the words "Rob Roy Fingerhead??" to each other.
- Not exactly this trope, but in "Dance, Monkee, Dance", Micky is frustrated by a turn of events and stomps off the sound stage, past the cameras and crew, into a back room, and demands that the writers give him an idea to resolve the plot. They do, but he rejects it and returns to the set, complaining that the writers are really overpaid.
- Whole Plot Reference: "The Devil and Peter Tork" doesn't slavishly follow The Devil and Daniel Webster, but it still hits most of the same story beats.
- Widget Series
- Wingding Eyes: Davy locks eyes with a beautiful girl in many episodes and both get starry-eyed.
- Written-In Absence: Davy was written out of a first season episode in order to attend his sister's wedding. Mike was written out of a few second season shows while he had a tonsillectomy.
- Yellow Peril: In the episode "Monkee Chow Mein," the band faces off with the insidious Dragonman (played by Joey Forman, who also played "Harry Hoo," a Captain Ersatz version of Charlie Chan, on Get Smart).
- You Meddling Kids: Involved in the plot of many episodes.
- Zany Scheme