Till her boyfriend kicked her out in one of those crushing scenes
What was she to do? Where was she to go? She was out on her fanny!
So over the bridge from Flushing, to the Sheffields' door
She was there to sell makeup, but the father saw more
She had style! She had flair! She was there!
That's how she became The Nanny!
Who would have guessed that the girl we described...
Was just exactly what the doctor prescribed?
Now the father finds her beguiling (Watch out, C.C.!)
And the kids are actually smiling (Such joie de vivre!)
She’s the lady in red while everybody else is wearing tan!
The flashy girl from Flushing...
The nanny named Fran!"
A Fish out of Water family sitcom that aired for six seasons (1993–99) on CBS and starred the raspy-voiced, big-haired Fran Drescher in the title role. The show's pitch was also conceived by Drescher, inspired by The Sound of Music as well as a conversation with Twiggy's adolescent daughter. Perhaps one of The Nanny's greatest successes was its large and colorful Ensemble Cast, ranging from the sarcastic British Butler to the Jewish Mother.
As seen above, the Expository Theme Tune pretty efficiently sums up the basic plot, but to briefly provide just a bit more context; Drescher plays Fran Fine, a loud, flashy, and big-hearted Jewish-American woman who, after a series of personal and employment-related calamities, ends up as a door-to-door cosmetics salesperson at the residence of Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy), a wealthy, stuffy and thoroughly British producer of Broadway musicals. From there, Fran manages to wrangle herself a job as nanny to Maxwell's three children despite Maxwell's initial reservations. From there, general shenanigans, chaos and romance between Fran and Maxwell ensues, gently prodded on by the Deadpan Snarker butler Niles and not-so-gently resisted by C.C., Maxwell's snooty business partner with her own romantic designs on Maxwell.
The show was immensely popular in many countries outside USA (Argentina, Australia, Chile and Russia, to name a few), even getting the "the most viewed program" spot in some. This success led to many foreign adaptations, to cash in on the show's popularity and give some local flavor.
In the US, it's had two Spiritual Successor series: the first was called Living With Fran and lasted two seasons, the second was Happily Divorced. It also has a "kiddiefied" half-Spiritual Successor on Disney Channel, Jessie, created by the executive producer of The Nanny and directly inspired by the earlier show.
Drescher's 1997 film The Beautician and the Beast is a bite-sized version of the series; basically, it's what you get when you drop Fran Fine and Joseph Stalin in Whateverstan, stand back and watch what happens.
This series provides examples of the following tropes:
- Aborted Arc: The end of season 2 is a cliffhanger where the Sheffield mansion is robbed, but when season 3 began, this was never resolved or mentioned again.
- Accidental Misnaming: Due to her senility, Grandma Yetta calls Brighton "Schmooey". She also also on occasion called Niles "Neal".
- A-Cup Angst: Brighton tries this with Maggie in "The Bobbi Flekman Story"; it doesn't work.Maggie: Brighton, you are so pathetic. I mean, he walks around the house all day with his guitar and he doesn't even know how to play.
Brighton: Hey, you wear a bra.
Maggie: Hey, at least I've actually seen one.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: In Season 3 episode 11 "The Unkindest Cut":Sylvia: Fran, my Future Freeloading in Florida (beat) depends on this party.
- Affectionate Parody: They did several of these for shows like Dynasty (1981) and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
- Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Maxwell, drunk as a skunk, dancing like a fool and wakes up the next day assuming Fran is his wife and Grace's biological mother.
- Alliterative Family: C.C.'s sister (D.D.), her mom (B.B.) and her cousin (G.G.).
- All Jews Are Cheapskates: Often poked fun at throughout the series.Man at party 1: I owe you? You owe me! 1965, Fiddler on the Roof. I paid for the parking.
Man 2: You remember that? Who took three sips of my Coke?!
- Always Someone Better: Maxwell deals with this twice. During the show, it's always coming in second place to Andrew Lloyd Webber. However, it was mentioned more than once that he felt like this toward Jeremy Irons back in school. He lost the part of Romeo in their school production to him (Max ended up as Friar Lawrence), and Niles mentioned that he spent his entire class reunion sulking in the corner "because everybody was kissing Jeremy Irons' as...pirin, Q-tips and Chapstick, I'm off to the drugstore."
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Sylvia has a bad habit of eating all the food in sight, constantly nagging Fran about not being married, and telling wildly inappropriate stories to anyone around to hear. Morty's embarrassing antics mostly fall under Informed Ability with him spending most of the series as The Ghost; when he does finally appear in season 6's "Ma'ternal Affairs", his first scene has him bringing his hubcaps into the house with him so they can't be stolen.
- Ambiguously Bi:
Fran: Well that's one fantasy shot to hell!
- It's suggested that Fran is interested in the same sex by Fran's line in "The Nanny-Napper", after being strip-searched by a muscular female police officer:
- There was a couple of times when Fran willingly kisses C.C.
- There is also Fran's fanatic devotion to Barbra Streisand which borderlines into a celebrity crush.
- In "Oy Vey, You're Gay!", Fran finds that Maxwell's new publicist Sydney Mercer is in fact gay, and is attracted to Fran herself. Fran, on realizing that a gorgeous professional has asked her out, briefly considers the idea and asks if Sydney is Jewish. Her comment on finding out that she's not ("Aw, that's too bad. We were this close to makin' my mother happy!") only furthers the implications.
- Ambiguously Jewish: While the children were raised Catholic, one episode surrounding the family going on a cruise to celebrate Brighton's confirmation into the Church, Fran begins to introduce some of her religion's cultures into their lives as well. While nothing is outright stated, after their adoption by her, it's not unfounded to believe that they might start identifying as Jewish as well as Catholic due to their mother's belief, as the family celebrates Hanukah for the first time as Fran's kids. Maggie especially given her future husband turns out to be Jewish.
- Anchored Ship: The reason Fran and Max don't become a couple is because of his dead wife. However, the end result is a Type 1 when he proposes to her. As it happens, Sara herself was setting them up from the afterlife.
- Animated Credits Opening: Done as an intentional retro throwback to sitcoms from the 50s and 60s that used such animated opening sequences.
- Antagonist in Mourning: Happens twice to C.C.. Once when Fran leaves to become a soap opera star, C.C. is ecstatic until she finds out that Maxwell has hired Heather Biblow to take over as nanny. When Fran returns, C.C. hugs her, exclaiming "Don't you ever leave me again!" to a perplexed Fran. The second time was after Niles suffers a heart attack during a verbal spar with him.
- A somewhat reversed situation happened when C.C. was sent away to the sanatorium. While she's gone, Fran is taking care of her dog Chester. Fran notices Chester is oddly happy, saying that usually when a dog loses their master, they get all sad and depressed. Cue Niles walking in, all sad and mopey.
- Aroused by Their Voice: Fran admits she can get away with this because she's very attractive.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Niles's list in "The Facts of Lice," which leads Fran to think he's a serial killer.Fran: "Secure alibi, Cut phone line, Put on gloves, Tape mouth?... Clean up blood, Dispose of evidence... Pick up bananas...?"
- Artifact Title: In the final season, Fran is no longer employed as a nanny, but is, in fact, Maxwell's wife. Granted, she stopped working as a nanny long before that.
- Artistic License – Film Distribution: The Season 4 premiere, "The Tart with Heart", includes back-to-back throwaway jokes bridging Fran's conversations with Sylvia and Maxwell about Max taking back his turbulence-inspired declaration of love to Fran from the previous episode, in which she uses her feminine wiles off-screen to convince cable repairmen at their houses to install Cinemax (for Sylvia) and The Movie Channel (for Maxwell) for free. The joke's second use has Fran imply she did this to get TMC installed at the Sheffield house when asking Max (who states he didn't have the premium channel beforehand) to join the rest of the family to watch an airing of Twister. The episode first aired on September 18, 1996,note only four months after Twister was released in theaters on May 10. (Most theatrical movies typically premiere on premium cable between nine and 12 months after their initial release.) Also, the film's North American distributor, Warner Bros., was/is co-owned with HBO and Cinemax (the largest of TMC and parent service Showtime's pay-cable rivals), and has a long-standing deal (signed in 1986, three years before original HBO/Cinemax owner Time Inc.'s merger with Warner Communications) to air all of its recent films exclusively on the two networks during their initial pay-cable telecast window.note
- Artistic License – History:
- In one episode, it's mentioned that Maxwell passed on producing Hair, which went on to become a hit musical. However, Max is said to be in his early 40s, meaning he was still a teenager in 1967, when Hair had its premiere. (Not to mention that back then he was living in England, while Hair premiered in New York.) But he did say he started producing plays at age 17.
- Famous actor Jeremy Irons is mentioned as Maxwell's biggest rival in his school days, but he didn't go to the same school. In real life, he went to another boarding school 172 kilometers away.
- Artistic License – Religion: Fran rarely if ever keeps kosher when eating. Maxwell said she can't use her religion as an excuse while she proudly eats bacon, which she admits in "Take Back Your Mink" she enjoys if it's extra crispy. In "Stock Tip", she found out her date is really a hot dog vendor, and she was more upset that he lied by ommission than the fact that the hot dog wasn't kosher. Sylvia will even eat tongue. She also has had BLT or ham sandwiches at temple. Fran says her rebellious act in her youth was sneaking out of the house to eat bacon.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: In "The Kibbutz", Fran flashes back to when she lost her "hat" to an Israeli guy on a kibbutz. He asks what's going on in Hebrew and she says "Yeah, bagel, bagel, shalom, bagel".
- Aside Glance: Fran does this a lot, usually to highlight the irony of a situation. Most often complete with a Fascinating Eyebrow.
- A Threesome Is Hot: Literally caught between Maxwell and Brighton's sexy French tutor fighting over her, Fran says she had a dream like that.
- Audit Threat: Fran ponders this "An Offer She Can't Refuse" as a way to get rid of her possessive but "connected" boyfriend.
- Babies Ever After: Fran and Maxwell have twins, and C.C. and Niles are expecting a child of their own.
- Back Door Pilot: The second season episode "The Chatterbox" introduces us to the employees of Fran's favorite hair salon, including Lauren Tom as an Asian nail-care artist.
- Badly Battered Babysitter:
- Fran, but not with the children she's hired to actually take care of (most of the time). Instead, it's with the son of one of Maxwell's clients.
- C.C. gets this in season 1's "Here Comes the Brood", when she takes the kids to the zoo. Among the highlights is Brighton throwing up in her pith helmet and purse.
- Bad Review Threat: In the episode "Sunday in the Park with Fran", Maxwell is seeking to get a positive review of his play from notorious critic Frank Bradley. As part of this, he agrees to let Frank Jr., the critic's spoiled brat of a son, go on a play date to the park with Gracie, despite the fact that Gracie doesn't like the boy because he is such a brat. At the park though, Fran is forced to discipline him for his actions (by hitting him on the rear with a baguette) when Frank Jr. has grabbed onto Gracie piggyback-style and refuses to let go. The boy promptly threatens to tell his father on her for doing this, and to make sure that he gives Maxwell's play a bad review. Later on, Max tries to get Fran to apologize for her actions in the park... only to wind up standing up for her and refusing to suck up to Mr. Bradley anymore, prompting the man to threaten to destroy Maxwell's career (having indicated that he's done so to other people before) in retaliation before he storms out. In the end, Mr. Bradley is unable to carry through with his threat because he came down with food poisoning and missed the play's premiere, while a television news team that was present asked a random audience member (who turns out to be Fran) for her opinion and got a glowing review from her.
- Bait-and-Switch: In "Samson, He Denied Her", when Fran and C.C. are on jury duty, they're listening to Vincenzo's testimony. He talks about how she snuck into his room in the middle of the night and "chopped it all off" (remember this took place not too long after the John Wayne Bobbitt story). Fran and C.C. are both horrified, but they get a little suspicious when he wonders if it'll ever grow back. At that point, he pulls off his wig and they realize he meant his hair.
- Beach Episode: Season 3 "Ship of Fran's", where the entire cast go on a cruise.
- Beta Couple: Niles and C.C. They get together in the end.
- Betty and Veronica: Averted because C.C. only thinks Maxwell is Archie, she's Betty, and Fran is Veronica but...she's not even in the equation.
- C.C. herself becomes the Archie in another bogus Betty and Veronica situation, where Maxwell is the Betty and Niles is the Veronica. It's still a false choice, but at least she's genuinely interested in the both of them.
- Big Eater: Sylvia Fine.Sylvia: Do I smell banana fritters with fresh fruit compote?
Sylvia: Could I?
Max: Now, is this the holiday Miss Fine said you can't eat all day, then stuff yourself? Or the one where you light candles, then stuff yourself? Or the one where you build a straw hut, then stuff yourself?
- And if Sylvia isn't around, Fran is the next biggest eater.
- They kind of imply in-universe that this is a shared trait amongst all Jews, as seen when Niles tells Max that Sylvia invited them over for the Jewish holiday:
Niles: I believe it's the one where you hide crackers from small children, then stuff yourself.
Max: Ah, Passover.
Max: MISS FINE!!!
- And then later:
Fran: Shhh! This is the holiday where we don't yell... and then stuff ourselves.
Fran: Why do you think we walked the desert for forty years? We were working off the meal!
- And later lampshaded by Fran:
- And if Sylvia isn't around, Fran is the next biggest eater.
- Big "WHAT?!": Niles has this reaction in "Danny's Dead and Who's Got the Will?" after finally discovering what "The Thing" is.Maxwell: (about Fran quitting) I suppose I should've seen it coming. A man can't tell a woman he loves her and then just take it back.
Niles: You WHAT?!
- Blue Blood: The Sheffields, especially when the show first started, and C.C. Babcock right up to until the end of the series.
- In 2007, Charles Shaughnessy, who played Maxwell Sheffield, became a real-life baron.
- Boarding School: Maxwell often brags about his days at Eton College, a real life prestigious all boys' boarding school in England that has educated royalty, prime ministers, award-winning actors, Nobel Laureates, etc.
- Born in an Elevator: Subverted. Fran's water broke when she and C.C. were trapped in one, but they managed to get out and get her to the hospital in time.
- Bouquet Toss: By the time Fran and Maxwell get married, Fran is so used to waiting for the bouquet toss Maxwell has to remind her that she is the one supposed to toss it.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: side glances, anyone?
- Break the Haughty: Done throughout the series to C.C. (and it's well-deserved).
C.C.(screaming): My mental health is just a sick game to you, isn't it?
- Led to a hilarious bit after C.C. fell for another of Niles's schemes.
Niles(perfectly calm): Rack 'em up, let's play again.
- When Maxwell and Niles actually break her, it is treated as Serious Business though.
- Brick Joke: In 'My Fair Nanny', at the start Fran tells Maggie to wrap the best grab bag present in aluminum foil so she knows which one it is. At the end, Maggie tells Fran to take the first grab bag present — guess which one she gets.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Brighton is twice shown failing or barely passing classes and often refers to living off his trust fund, but still gets good enough grades to get into Harvard.
- Brother–Sister Incest: C.C. made reference to this when her brother Noel said do you want to have some fun. He was talking about a bet...
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Fran leans toward this trope. She's ditzy, rather lazy (often scheming to get out of work entirely or at least leave early), and a Fish out of Water in terms of Maxwell's social circle of rich people. However, she's exceptionally skilled at taking care of the Sheffield kids, often knowing just how to solve their problems when Maxwell is completely clueless.
- Bunny Ears Picture Prank: Brighton does this to Gracie in the animated title sequence.
- Butt-Monkey: Alternates between Niles and C.C. Though to be fair, it doesn't happen to Niles until later seasons while C.C. gets it throughout (with good reason).
- Brighton got shades of this trope in the later seasons.
- Candy Striper: In Season 2, Episode 21, "Close Shave", Maggie starts volunteering at a local hospital as a Candy Striper because her father doesn't want her to take "a paying job that someone who needs the money would be better suited." When Maggie wants to have a night out with her boyfriend, Fran covers her shift at the hospital and dons the red-and-white striped uniform.
- Canon Immigrant: Bobbi Flekman from This is Spın̈al Tap.
- Canon Welding: Again, with Bobbi Flekman, indicating that This is Spın̈al Tap takes place in the same universe (as do Everybody Loves Raymond and The King of Queens).
- Cargo Ship: In-Universe, and unique in that it's the cargo initiating, in this case Lamb Chop in "Lamb Chop's On The Menu" — to the point that when she insists on a "private meeting" with Max, even Shari Lewis isn't invited.
- Catchphrase: Not quite to the Memetic Mutation level, but C.C. saying: "Hello, hello!" and Maxwell's enraged bellow of "MISS FINE!" followed closely by "NILES!" are common staples on the show.
- "Good morning, everyone!"
- "Oh, Mr. Sheffield!"
- In the early episodes, Maggie's go-to insult for Brighton was "You little troll!"
- C.C. also has her own "NANNY FINE!" scream.
- Celebrity Paradox: Fran Fine met Fran Drescher, and noticed how similar that show Miss Drescher starred in was to her own life. Later, Fran would meet Bobbi Flekman.
- The show absolutely beat this trope into the ground, you would think it was a requirement all guest stars had to show up twice, once As Himself:
- Steve Lawrence: Himself (with his wife Eydie) and as Fran's father Morty.
- Rosie O'Donnell: Herself and a rude cab driver named Cosette.
- Whoopi Goldberg: Herself (as center square) and as a wedding photographer. To muddle things further, a lookalike also showed up in the second season episode "When you Pish upon a Star" acting as "Whoopi Goldberg".
- Coolio: Himself (again on Hollywood Squares) and as Sammy's dorky cousin Irving.
- This was humorously subverted once in "Val's Boyfriend", where C.C. decides to quit working with Maxwell and strike out on her own. She claims that she's started with working with Marvin Hamlisch, the EGOT-winning composer, and eventually tells Fran that she's lying. However, Hamlisch himself shows up at the Sheffields' late in the episode to make Maxwell jealous and convince him to take C.C. back...only for Fran to reveal that it's not Marvin Hamlisch, but rather her old music teacher, who happens to look and sound exactly like him. So the real Marvin Hamlisch plays a music teacher who's playing Marvin Hamlisch for Fran's sake...
- Gets a hilarious Call-Back later in the season in "The Cantor Show", when Burt Bacharach is told that the last person to play that piano was Marvin Hamlisch.
- A mild case in "An Offer She Can't Refuse." Fran and her new boyfriend Tony go to see the stage adaptation of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Tony is played by Burke Moses, who originated the role of Gaston in that musical (something hinted at when he briefly sings at the end of the episode).
- Another mild case in "Fair Weather Fran". During the episode, Niles mentions that Brighton is going to a Star Trek convention. Daniel Davis (Niles) played the holographic Professor Moriarty in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes "Elementary, Dear Data" and "Ship In A Bottle" (the latter airing 10 months before The Nanny premiered).
- In "The Rosie Show," Fran briefly gets to join The Rosie O'Donnell Show to give parenting advice after her antics in the audience make Rosie and the producers laugh. At the end of the episode, everything goes back to normal because the producers wanted to air a different sequence about a retired Florida couple ranking restaurants in the state. The couple is played by Fran Drescher's real-life parents, who actually were doing that feature on the show at the time.
- The show absolutely beat this trope into the ground, you would think it was a requirement all guest stars had to show up twice, once As Himself:
- Chatty Hairdresser: Fran was one of these briefly during a Poorly-Disguised Pilot.
- Chekhov's Gun: Usually it involves Niles; for example, he spent a whole episode complaining about the refrigerator being broken. It ended up causing food poisoning for Maxwell's nemesis.
- Christmas Episode: The actual title of the first season's 8th episode.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Fran's sister, Nadine, eventually disappears from the series altogether. While it would be perfectly reasonable to assume the two are just too busy to be present in each other's lives, it's strange Nadine would not be included in her sister's wedding as part of the bridal party (or at least being the caterer), or being completely absent for her sister's pregnancy.
- Citizenship Marriage: Fran nearly enters into one when Brighton's french tutor (needing a green card) pops the question.
- City People Eat Sushi: Although Fran is from the city, she's not exactly upper-class. When C.C. takes her out for sushi for the first time she's introduced to wasabi, which C.C. says is like mustard, which Fran loves, so she loads her sushi up with it. It knocks her on the floor, and when she gets back up she praises how it cleared up her sinuses sans her signature nasal accent, but the effects don't last.
- City Mouse: C.C., particularly in "Schlepped Away". Fran to a lesser degree in "Honeymoon's Overboard".
- Clip Show: The season 3 episode "Where's Fran?" recaps some of the most memorable moments of the series up to that point.
- Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: In one episode, Maxwell allows an actress to recuperate at the house after plastic surgery. Fran can't resist snooping and discovers that it's Cher. Though she swears to keep it a secret, her next conversation with Val is loaded with hints ("There's only one soda, we'll have to share." "It's a bad neighborhood...full of gypsies, tramps and thieves").
- In "Shopaholic," Fran reacts badly to news that her old fiancee Danny is marrying Heather Bibelow (who's also pregnant), and copes by making purchases nonstop. When the family convinces her to go to "Shoppers' Anonymous" for help, Maxwell warns them not to mention shopping for the rest of the day—then promptly tells Niles that his steak is too big: "take half off." Later, just as Fran thinks she's through the worst of it, Val eagerly bursts into the house announcing that she's going to start setting up for a Tupperware party.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- Val on most occasions.
- Most of the characters at one point or another
- On several occasions, Niles tries to use an analogy to help advance the relationship between Fran and Maxwell, only of both of them to think he's being literal and tell him to get over his problem.
- Commune: Fran's descriptions of her exciting adventures on a kibbutz in Israel as a teen — which she's looking at through a Nostalgia Filter — makes older daughter Maggie to want to go, despite the fact that she isn't Jewish.
- Compensating for Something: Maxwell with his luxury cars which are often used as an analogy for his genitals which he is insecure about (he believes the Sheffield men are growers not show-ers.)
- Conversational Troping: "Canasta Masta" opens with a brief bit of this for Just Eat Gilligan, with a bonus Lampshade Hanging.
- This happens throughout the series. In "The Family Plumbing", Fran's cousin Tiffany was surprised that Brighton didn't notice there was The Other Darrin on Bewitched.
- Couldn't Find a Lighter: Max uses a mini-blowtorch to light a cigar once, as a way of intimidating a Jerkass actor who had set him on fire years before.
- Crossover: The Nanny crossed over with Everybody Loves Raymond in the episode "The Reunion Show'', when Fran meets up with Ray Barone at their High School reunion. Actor Allusion, as Fran Drescher and Ray Romano really did graduate from HS together.
- Cross Through: "Where's the Pearls?" was the first part of an ongoing plot across four different shows — the other three were Can't Hurry Love (episode: "The Elizabeth Taylor Episode" / "Liz Taylor Show"), Murphy Brown (episode: "Trick or Retreat") and High Society (episode: "The Family Jewels") — that all aired the night of February 26, 1996, involving Fran losing Elizabeth Taylor's pearls and the search lasting through the other shows until they were recovered in the fourth and final episode of the event.
- Cute, but Cacophonic: This is one of those things in the series that is lampshaded REPEATEDLY.
- Daytime Drama Queen: In one episode Niles and C.C. become addicted to a Spanish soap opera. Even if you don't speak Spanish you can probably hazard a guess that it's a Soap Within a Show variety.Man on TV: ¡Carmencita, No! (Musical Sting) **Gunshot**
C.C.: ¡No, aye, Carmencita!
Niles: (Runs in the room) ¿Carmencita shoot Papa?
C.C.: (Near tears) ¡Si!
Niles: ¿ Es Papa...?
C.C.: (Sullen) Muerte.
Fran: Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives.
- Niles and Fran are also addicted to some American Daytime Soaps as well, and name check The Young and the Restless (which helped her get out of a kidnapping arrest), All My Children and The Bold and the Beautiful specifically, and in an early episode (while Writing Around Trademarks), Fran gushes over the star of the fictional One Day After Another, early in the series Fran also mistakenly quotes what she thinks is Shakespeare:
- Deadpan Snarker: Fran and Niles, mostly, but Mr. Sheffield has more than a touch of this quality.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: C.C., in later seasons.
- Delicious Distraction: Done in "You Bette Your Life", when Bette Midler has gotten angry at Fran for unintentionally causing someone to cancel their big investment in Bette and Max's charity (thankfully, Gracie winds up fixing things for them later) and is chasing her around the house. Fran finally resorts to this:Fran: Stop hitting me with that purse! Now what's wrong with this picture?
Bette Midler: I give up!
Fran: We're Jewish, we're running, and there's macaroons over there!
Bette Midler: Are they fresh?
Both: WHO CARES? [they start eating the cookies]
- Also done as Sylvia was about to divulge Fran's age, but Fran put a plate under her nose before she could complete the sentence.
- In "A Fine Family Feud," Fran has to settle a long-standing fight between her mother Sylvia and Aunt Frieda. When the women get ready to storm out of the house, Fran uses a freshly-baked chocolate cake to lure them back to talk.
- Depending on the Writer: Maxwell waffled between knowing Fran has feelings for him and being oblivious, Fran shifts back and forth between being aggressively protective about her age and joking about it, and knowing her voice is incredibly grating and being oblivious to it.
- Many of Niles's insults to C.C. were contradictory to each other. Half the time, he implies that she has absolutely no sex life (When he makes a cake with her image on it, when he offers someone a slice he says, "as in life, no one's touched her.") The other half, he implies that she's a prostitute (any time she mentions selling tickets or raising money from investors, Niles would make remarks about "her usual corner" or "remembering her change belt."
- Maxwell's intelligence tended to wander back and forth between Genre Savvy and a complete buffoon. On more than one occasion, he knew that Niles would frequently eavesdrop on conversations in his office, and would refer to him if he needed a witness. However, in one episode when Fran was pregnant and having a sonogram, he was bragging about how much the baby looked like him, only to be told that the machine wasn't on and he was seeing his reflection.
- Desk Sweep of Passion: Fran and Maxwell sweep things off a desk after she got the idea from his step-mother but of course Niles walks in on them, leaving them frozen.
- Did They or Didn't They?: Fran and Maxwell in "Strange Bedfellows", after a drunken Fran mistakenly got into Maxwell's bed with him already there. The show itself was very vague about this. The next morning, they were still in the exact same positions they were the night before, they were still dressed, and the bed was still very neat. However, they both mentioned having a tell (the day after, Fran's ears would itch and Maxwell could sing "Georgy Girl,") which both happened at the end of the episode.
- It's heavily implied that CC and Niles may have had sex in "The Honeymoon's Overboard". However, since they were heavily drunk, they barely remember anything that happened.
- Did You Just Have Sex?: After Niles and C.C. start to become romantically involved, the normally bitter and repressed C.C. comes into work the next day as cheerful as Snow White, including singing to a bird.
- In "The Honeymoon's Overboard" (mentioned above), a hungover Niles enters the kitchen complaining that he had a dream where "Santa Claus tried to have his way with me." Cue C.C. coming down the stairs in a giant red-and-white robe.
- Diegetic Soundtrack Usage:
- In "Frannie's Choice", when Fran is on a plane, she basically recites the lyrics to the show's theme. She also mentions the "She's got style/ she's got flair" part a couple of times throughout the show. It's even Lampshaded in the episode "Where's the Pearls?":Fran: But...I've got style, I've got flair! How could I become the nanny?!
- Many moons later, in "Strange Bedfellows", Fran tries to reassure herself she won't be an impoverished spinster in 20 years like her nanny friend:Fran: We're not alike because I have a skill I can fall back on.
Mona: That's what I thought. See, I was working in a bridal shop in Flushing, Queens, 'till my boyfriend kicked me out in one of those crushing scenes—"
Fran: Stop it, Mona!
- In the episode "Fashion Show", Maxwell expresses his surprise at Fran's costumes for a production of Our Town stealing the show.Fran: Well, I had style, I had flair, I was there, that's how I became... (suddenly dissatisfied) the nanny.
- In "Frannie's Choice", when Fran is on a plane, she basically recites the lyrics to the show's theme. She also mentions the "She's got style/ she's got flair" part a couple of times throughout the show. It's even Lampshaded in the episode "Where's the Pearls?":
- Digging Yourself Deeper:
- Maxwell first implies Fran is old, fat and spooky in their fight at the start of "Maggie's Boyfriend". C.C. also often ends up badmouthing someone right in front of them, thanks to Niles provoking her into it.
- In one episode, C.C. discovers Niles snoozing on the sofa and has some fun by putting one of Maxwell's expensive cigars and a glass of brandy in his hands. When Max enters and scolds him, Niles tries to defend himself by claiming that C.C. set him up while he was napping...only to realize that he's essentially admitting to sleeping on the job, which doesn't exactly work as a defense.
- Does This Make Me Look Fat?: Comes up when Brighton tries to explain to his dad how to talk to Fran:Brighton: Dad, she's been working here for three years! When are you gonna learn? Okay... (Imitates Fran's voice for the questions) "Does this make me look fat?" "No." "Do you like my hair this way?" "Yes." "Is my tush wider than usual?" There is no answer to that one.
- Domestic Abuse: Maxwell chases Fran around the house out of anger, not lust (she typically see this coming and gets a head start) but on multiple occasions he has stated violent fantasies such as choking her or even drowning her. Fran often hits people out of anger, just like her mother.
- Doppelgänger Dating: In "Fran Lite", Maxwell goes out with a woman who's almost exactly like Fran.
- Double Entendre: A staple.Maxwell: Niles, how would you suggest I go about satisfying Miss Fine?
Niles: ... Well, sir, the second way...
- Double Standard:
- Comes up in S1 Ep 14, "The Family Plumbing." Maxwell refuses to let Maggie go to a makeout party but is proud of Brighton when Fran catches him making out with her cousin's granddaughter. Seasons later, Brighton isn't allowed to go to a makeout party either though.
- And again in S5 Ep 21, "The Best Man", when Max is hurt that Fran nearly ran off with his brother Nigel, despite him not being involved with Fran at the time. Meanwhile, at the same time, he was dating Marla Maples.
- Sylvia went to a kibbutz in her youth to "build a nation", but didn't want Fran to go to one.
- Do Wrong, Right: When Yetta is discovered marking her cards while playing canasta:Sylvia: Ma! You've been cheating all these years and we STILL lose?
- Dumb Blonde: Val. Lampshaded by Fran at one point: "Val wasn't short for 'valedictorian.'"
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- In a first season episode Fran celebrates her 30th birthday. Shortly afterwards her refusal to admit to being older than 29 became one of the shows biggest running gags (Maxwell says at one point even the FBI couldn't figure out her real age).
- Later in a second season episode she jokes with a nurse who asks about her symptoms that she's 30 and single.
- In the pilot, Niles and Fran weren't quite so friendly towards each other as they were later on. He seemed to enjoy sitting back and watching Fran dig herself deeper.
- The first season was a standard sitcom, which fans now consider trite and dull. Fran and the producers decided that the show should be more like I Love Lucy. One of the rare cases where Flanderization of the characters helped a show more than harmed it.
- Season 1's "The Show Must Go On" had Max borrow the orchestra from The Phantom of the Opera, despite his later rivalry with Andrew Lloyd Webber.
- In the first few episodes, a butler's pantry separates the kitchen and dining room.
- In Season 4's "The Cradle Robbers", Gracie mentions having had a crush on Santa. Until Season 1 she didn't believe in him.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Maxwell's middle name is Beverly. In the last episode, we find out that C.C. is a Subversion, as her first name is embarrassing: Chastity Claire.
- Enemy Mine: Niles and C.C. team up against Fran in the episode "From Flushing with Love".
- Everybody Knew Already: In "Whine Cellar", C.C. "reveals" to Fran that she has a crush on Maxwell, adding "My therapist says I'm obsessed with him!", to which Fran responds "How much did you pay to figure that out?".
- Evil Laugh: C.C. has one that's actually fairly impressive — usually happens when she's sneering over someone or during those brief moments where she gets one over on Niles. It often seamlessly devolves into tears as C.C.'s plans go awry.
- Exact Words: A favorite trope on the show.
- Niles liked to use this to get around Mr. Sheffield's orders about snooping and gossip. In one instance, Max specifically tells Niles not to turn on the intercom to eavesdrop on a private conversation. Niles agrees...then asks Gracie to turn it on for him. In another episode, he promises not to "say a word" about Fran and Max having an "incident" in her bedroom (it was totally innocent, mind), and promptly writes what happened on a piece of paper for C.C. to read.
- In "Stop the Wedding, I Want to Get Off," Fran discovers that Maxwell's sister Jocelyn's chauffeur Lester has secretly pined for her all of his life. Maxwell, sensing that Fran wants to get involved, makes her promise not to say a word to Jocelyn. Fran swears she won't...and quickly starts talking to Lester (after all, Max didn't include his name in the promise).
- Fran falls afoul of this trope in a big way in "Homie-Work." Yetta's new husband Sammy asks Fran to get his nephew Irving "a job on Broadway." Since Maxwell is looking for a star for his new rap musical, Sammy assures her that Irving is a professional who "worked with Puff Daddy." Unfortunately, when Irving shows up, he's an uber-nerd, and they explain that he's a gift wrapper who apparently decorated Puff Daddy's presents the prior year. Upon hearing that Irving doesn't even sing, Fran asks why he said he wanted to be in a Broadway show. Irving protests that he never said that—he wants to work on the street Broadway because it's closer to his apartment. Thankfully, Irving is played by Coolio, so Fran is able to turn him into a rap star by the episode's end.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: In "Love is a Many Blundered Thing," Fran believes that an anonymous Valentine from a secret admirer is from Mr. Sheffield. While she waits in the ice cream parlor where they agreed to meet, someone enters...but it's one of Brighton's friends, suffering a Precocious Crush. Fran remarks that it's very sweet of him to visit her, "but I'm waiting for Mr. Sheffield, and...he ain't coming because you're my secret admirer."
- One episode has C.C. finding Niles napping on the sofa. She promptly arranges an expensive cigar and glass of brandy in his hands, then sets Maxwell up to see him. Niles tries to defend himself: "Sir, would you believe she put those things in my hands while I was sleeping on the couch?...oh, that 'sleeping on the couch' bit wasn't a good defense, was it..."
- Expository Theme Tune: She had style! She had flair! She was there! That's how she became The Nanny!
- Which they used all the way through the final season, when Fran had married her boss, adopted his children, and was pregnant with her own. Apparently, it never occurred to anyone that the song should either be updated, or an instrumental.
- Expy: The main cast can be considered expies of The Sound of Music characters.
- Fran: Maria.
- Maxwell: Captain Von Trapp.
- Niles: Franz the butler.
- C.C. Babcock: Baroness Schroeder and Max Detweiler (initial love interest/friend and businessperson).
- Maggie: Liesl Von Trapp.
- Brighton: Friedrich and Kurt Von Trapp.
- Gracie: Marta and Gretl Von Trapp.
- This was addressed more than a few times via Lampshades. In the first episode, when Max chastises Brighton's attitude toward Fran, she retorts "Yeah, I haven't even sang 'Climb Every Mountain' yet." Later, after developing a bout of amnesia, when the kids introduce themselves, Fran says, "You know, this seems familiar to me. Say, did I ever sing on some Austrian hillside with a really butch haircut?"
- The Faceless: Fran's father Morty Fine, until the last season.
- "Fawlty Towers" Plot: A number of times, like in "The Butler, The Husband, The Wife and Her Mother" and "Pishke Business".
- Feng Schwing: Invoked by Fran's decorator cousin Sheila in Season 5's "The Morning After", when Fran is tasked with redecorating the kitchen. Hoping to help spice things up between Fran and Max, Sheila decks the place out in suggestive decor (furniture with horn and antler motifs, an oyster wallpaper). The result is pure Fan Disservice, though it inadvertently has the desired effect on Niles and C.C..
- First Girl Wins: Subverted, as C.C. is technically the first girl, but has no chance. Unless you count her inevitable hook-up with Niles.
- Food Fight: One of these is initially started by Sylvia and Freida at Maggie's 16th Birthday party in "A Fine Family Feud" as Fran is trying to settle a dispute between them. Brighton shouts it and the party quickly gets chaotic.
- Foreign Remake: Has spawned many
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Fran (Sanguine), Maxwell (Melancholic), Niles (Phlegmatic), and C.C. (Choleric).
- Fur and Loathing: Parodied.
- Game Show Appearance: In "Franny and the Professor", Fran goes on Jeopardy! and, to everyone's surprise, wins a measly $200 when she's the only one who gets "Final Jeopardy!" correct.
- Gender-Equal Ensemble: The Sheffield household has three males (Maxwell and Brighton Sheffield, Niles the butler) and three females (Fran Fine, Maggie and Gracie Sheffield,) although other main characters or just important ones (C.C., Sylvia, Yetta, Val) throw the dynamic off a little.
- Generation Xerox: In S1 Ep14, "The Family Plumbing" Fran has her cousin come over to fix the family's plumbing. He brings his granddaughter, who is basically a younger version of Fran and despite being a polar opposite to Brighton and constantly arguing they still end up making out, mirroring Maxwell's and Fran's eventual relationship.
- Genre Throwback: The animated title sequence is a tribute to those from 60s sitcoms, e.g., Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie.
- Girls with Moustaches: Fran infiltrates a men-only club dressed as a man, complete with facial hair.
- This disguise is actually meant to even fool the audience since we are lead to believe Fran is the cocktail waitress with the big hair. It's lampshaded when the waitress says that the only way a girl can get inside is by being a waitress to which Fran mentions she wish she'd thought of that.
- Grade Skipper: When Niles learned Valerie's age, Fran tried to prevent him from using this to figure out hers by claiming she had skipped a few grades. When it didn't work, Fran said Valerie was Held Back in School. That Niles could believe.
- Gratuitous French: "Green Card," where Brighton gets a French tutor Fran is attracted to. Unfortunately for him, she thinks "je t'adore" means "shut the door."
- Funnily enough, the actor playing the French tutor was born and raised in Milan. This might be accidentally Lampshaded later, when Fran tells Maggie she should be failing Italian so she could get a tutor as well.
- And in the French version, he's supposed to be an Italian tutor.
- Funnily enough, the actor playing the French tutor was born and raised in Milan. This might be accidentally Lampshaded later, when Fran tells Maggie she should be failing Italian so she could get a tutor as well.
- Gunman with Three Names: Fran thinks Niles is a serial killer when she misinterprets a list he had, and Val tries to convince her Niles can't be a serial killer using this.Val: Let's see, most serial killers have three names: (Counts on her fingers each time) "John Wayne Gacy," "Richard Alan Speck," "Son of Sam"!
Fran: Oh, Val, what're we talking about here? We're not dealing with some sicko stranger! It's Niles, I know him very well! I stand behind Mr. Niles... (Beat) ...the Killer.
- Hanukkah Episode: "The Hanukkah Story" is about Fran waiting for her family, who are driving through a snowstorm, to arrive so they can celebrate Hanukkah.
- Happier Home Movie: The end of "I Don't Remember Mama".
- Happily Adopted: By the end of the series, Fran has officially adopted the children, and is their legal mother, something that makes everyone happy.
- Has a Type: Just about every episode, Fran says she wants a Jewish doctor. But she's also apt to say she likes an adorable British accent, a guy with a couple of kids, handsome millionaire (sound familiar?)
- Have a Gay Old Time: In the episode where Fran thinks Niles is a serial killer, she thinks about telling Maxwell, which cuts to this Imagine Spot.
- In "The Nuchslep", Niles is coming down with a cold and mentions he's feeling "a bit queer". Fran tells him to come out of the closet.
- For British viewers, the word "fanny" in the theme song is a Separated by a Common Language version.
- Head-Tiltingly Kinky: "The Family Plumbing" features Maxwell auditioning showgirls, including one whose resume photo has her on a unicycle, prompting this reaction from Max, C.C., and Fran.
- Held Back in School: In one episode, after Niles learns Val's age and believes he now knows Fran's too as a result, Fran claims Val is actually older because she was held back a few times. Niles, being familiar with Val's Dumb Blonde traits, finds this believable.
- Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": Niles writes a play and the main character is a butler; that's so much like himself.
- Also, Maxwell writes a novel in which every character is a slightly-changed version of a character from the show (the hero is a single father with a sexy governess for his three children).
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Fran and Val, ever since childhood.
- And Maxwell and Niles. Occasionally they have moments of being Vitriolic Best Buds, but they honestly can't imagine life without each other, and are definitely each others' confidants.
- High-School Hustler: Brighton shows shades of this once he actually gets to high school.
- Hilarious Outtakes: Usually played after the credits.
- Hollywood Provincialism: The show is set in New York, but in one episode Fran is holding a cup from In'n'Out Burger, a restaurant chain that exists only in the southwest U.S.
- Homage: Later seasons began making deliberate homages to I Love Lucy complete with Mr. Sheffield shouting "Miss Fine! You got some 'splainin to do!" (which oddly enough was never actually said in I Love Lucy).
- Honorable Marriage Proposal: Played with — there isn't an actual proposal, but due to a Miss Conception Grace (who is about 7 years old) thinks she's pregnant, and her friend Willy who allegedly impregnated her makes plans to quit grade school and get a job to support them.
- How Can Santa Deliver All Those Toys?: Fran finds a smart aleck answer for it.
- Hurricane of Puns: From "Green Card":Fran: Bonsoir, Philippe~
Philippe: Did you study your French last night?
Fran: Well, how's this?
(The two share a French kiss, and then...)
Fran: Did I pass the oral exam?
(Maxwell walks in)
Maxwell: Ah, Philippe, I see you're exposing my nanny to your native tongue...
Fran: Oh, Mr. Sheffield, I'm sorry. I guess I have no French Resistance.
- In "Kindervelt Days", Maxwell insists on making C.C. smoke out on the terrace and refuses to let her inside the office, even though he is seen smoking cigars in that same office and even keeps a lighter on his desk. He also got enraged at Fran for smoking in front of the children (technically she wasn't) and insulted her to the point where she quit, but he didn't realize she was trying to teach Maggie a lesson and begged her to come back.
- In "Tattoo", Maxwell thinks a tattoo is incredibly sexy on Fran but absolutely forbidden for Maggie who wants one.
- In "The Cradle Robbers", Maggie accuses Fran of being this for dating a 25 year-old while insisting Maggie shouldn't do the same. Arguably justified since Maggie is only 17...
- Maxwell fired Fran in the pilot episode for celebrating Maggie's first kiss and saying that Maggie shouldn't be treated like Rapunzel. Yet when Brighton had his first kiss in a shower in "The Family Plumbing" he celebrated—while insisting that Maggie, who is 3 years older, couldn't go to a party where she could kiss boys.
- Hypocritical Humor: Another staple of the show.
Maxwell: Just think of it as driving down a country lane, with a few potholes — (THUMP!) What the bloody hell was that?!!
- Maxwell gently reassuring Fran when their plane hits some turbulence:
C.C.: If I'm going to see my father, everything has to be perfect. He is demanding, critical, judgmental... you have no idea what it's like to be around someone like that.
- In "Ode to Barbra Joan", C.C. invites her father to meet Maxwell.
(Niles and Fran look at each other, speaking at the same time)
Niles: Totally in the dark.
Fran: Don't have a clue.
- If I Had a Nickel...: From "Fran's Roots":Lila: (On the phone talking to Fran) Oh, you have no idea how happy I am to hear your voice.
Fran: Oh, you know, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that... I'd have a nickel.
- Imagine Spot:
- While attending a game at the Madison Square Garden, the camera focuses on Fran and she's put on the scoreboard, she imagines herself as Barbra Streisand singing to an adoring audience. The sequence ends and we see her standing up mouthing the song and holding an imaginary microphone, still on the scoreboard and even being broadcast on live TV much to the chagrin of the family watching her at home.
- In later seasons these imagine spots appear more frequently, often as tributes to particular genres (e.g. Film Noir) or other shows (e.g. Dynasty (1981))
- Impossible Hourglass Figure: Fran has this in the animated opening of the show.
- Inadvertent Entrance Cue: This show loves this trope. Commonly used to not-so-subtly insult a character. For example, in "The Nanny-Napper"...Fran: Niles, do we have any old nipples around here?
C.C.: (walking in) Hello, hello!
(Niles stuffs a coat in his mouth to stop himself)
Fran: Have you ever seen Harold and Maude?
- Eventually self-parodied when Fran and Val are in the kitchen, upset that they can't get boyfriends... and instead of Max, Brighton walks in.
- Informed Attribute: Almost every episode makes a joke about Maxwell's poor track record as a producer, passing on acclaimed shows and making significantly misguided casting decisions, leading to one flop after the next. Some of these are revealed to have been C.C.'s doing (such as advising him to pass on Cats and firing Whoopi Goldberg from her own one-woman show), suggesting she is no better. Yet they must be doing something right, because how else can they afford to stay in the house?
- In one episode he is apparently casting for a production of Oklahoma, which is rather old hat for Broadway. It seems that he is quite good at producing profitable standards, but has absolutely no nose for anything new.
- Informed Deformity: While Sylvia was a Big Eater and definitely a bigger woman, in show, they portrayed her as a whale. During one of her many elaborate freakouts, she threatened to throw herself in the Hudson River, to which Fran responded "Ma, flooding New Jersey is not gonna solve anything!"
- A quite jarring case: throughout the series Niles insinuates that C.C. is unattractive, despite the fact that she actually looks quite beautiful (it was her personality that was unattractive!). Justified later on in the series when it turns out that Niles has just been saying this to cover up the fact that he's actually madly in love with C.C. (For the most part, in the early episodes, it would appear that Niles simply hates her so much he's coming up with every insult he can to throw at her. He also calls her a cow, a hooker, and a witch).
- Insistent Terminology: C.C. refers to Fran as "Nanny Fine," even to her face, 90% of the time.
- C.C. keeps calling her that even after Fran and Sheffield get married.
- Which oddly enough is the correct way to address a Nanny, butlers and other house staff are referred to by their last name (which would mean that Niles is his last name, not his first), but nannies are in a category of their own since they don't report to the butler or the housekeeper but to the lady of the house directly, so they're addressed as Nanny X.
- Insult Backfire: After Sylvia and Morty "made-up" in the bathroom of Morty's mother (twice) after a fight, Sylvia thanks Nettie for her hospitality:Nettie: Tramp...
Sylvia: You better believe it!
- It's Fake Fur, It's Fine: Fran explicitly states that the furs she wears are fake (as does the actress in real life).
- Inverted when Fran inherits a real fur coat and refuses to keep it because it's real fur.
- It Will Never Catch On: The flashback scenes in "The Kibbutz" show Fran and Val scoffing at the idea of "frozen yogurt" as they watch a young Maxwell mentioning in an interview how glad he was passing on a musical about singing cats at C.C.'s advice. Fran also thinks Mrs. Spielberg's son, Steven, is a dork. Sylvia then tells her that Mrs. Milken's son is very smart, but Fran's reluctant because he stole money out of her locker.
- This is inverted in another episode, when Fran flashes back to when she got her tattoo. The tattoo artist has a tattoo of Princess Diana and Prince Charles together and she says that she hopes they last. So does the tattoo artist, as she's still sore from her other "famous couple" tattoo, when she had to turn Sonny Bono into Greg Allman.
- Ivy League for Everyone: Brighton gets into Harvard despite not being a very good student.
- I Want Grandkids: Fran hears this constantly from her mother. Yetta, on the other hand, is senile and therefore thinks that Maggie, Brighton (or as she calls him, "Schmooey"), and Grace are all Fran's kids and treats them as such. By the end of the show, she marries Max, so they are.
- I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: The flashback scenes in "The Kibbutz" show Fran wearing cornrows thanks to seeing 10 (which was mentioned in "My Fair Nanny"), Maxwell wearing a leisure suit and Porn Stache and C.C. with long, black Yoko Ono-esque hair.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Sylvia Fine, by all accounts, was just as attractive as her daughter when she was younger. Overlaps with Strong Family Resemblance in the flashbacks to Fran's childhood, where she's played by Fran Drescher in a blonde wig.
- The Jeeves: Niles.
- Jewish Mother: Sylvia Fine to Fran. Yetta to Sylvia. Fran to Jonah and Eve, or Jewish stepmother to Maggie, Brighton, and Grace.
- Just Eat Gilligan: Discussed in "Canasta Masta", while Brighton and Fran are watching a Gilligan's Island marathon.
- The Kids Are American: Despite having a British father and living in a household with a British butler, the kids all have American accents. Granted, they live in America, and their Missing Mom was American.
- Kissing Cousins: From the episode "Kissing Cousins", Fran thinks she's found the perfect boyfriend until she finds out he's her cousin.
- Lady in Red: The theme song describes Fran as being this "When everybody else is wearing tan." In the pilot episode, Fran really makes her mark on the Sheffield household by showing up at a backers' party in a sparkly red dress◊.C.C.: What's that?!
Maxwell: That's... the nanny.
Fran: You like? I borrowed from my cousin, Miss Long Island 1989.
Niles: A very good year.
- Lame Rhyme Dodge: In "Danny’s Dead, and Who’s Got the Will?", Niles does after he finally finds out what “The Thing” is, and is understandably displeased at Maxwell.Niles: Oh, I could kick you in the seat of the pants!
Maxwell: I beg your pardon?
Niles: I said, "I need to press the pleat in your pants", but that's beside the point.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Frequently happens to C.C., commonly by Fran and/or Niles.
- Last-Name Basis: Fran calls Maxwell "Mr. Sheffield" and Maxwell calls her "Miss Fine" until the later seasons when they finally hook up.
- Though at least once after they married, an aggravated Maxwell called Fran "Miss Fine". For instance, upon catching Maggie in bed with her boyfriend in Fran's old room, making Fran say to her "See what you did? Now I'm back to Ms. Fine."
- When Fran and Maxwell are on their honeymoon (well, stranded on a desert island for their honeymoon), as they consummate their marriage, Fran is heard shouting, "Oh, Max! Oh, Max! Oh, Mister Sheffield!"
- An episode before when Fran and Maxwell are on their honeymoon yacht Fran goes overboard. Max calls for her "Darling! ... Fran! ... Miss Fine!" Fran gargles back: "Mrs. Sheffield!"
- In an earlier season (before they hooked up) a scene that involved the two of them completely alone in the house together had them taking perverse glee in addressing one another as "Maxwell" and "Fran."
- Legacy of Service: Niles' father was the butler for Maxwell Sheffield's family before Niles himself became Maxwell's butler.
- Light Feminine Dark Feminine: C.C. is glamorous and sophisticated but also petty, jealous, selfish, prone to brooding and won't lift a finger to help another person unless she's getting something out of it. Fran is selfless, sometimes ditzy and foolish, always believes the best of people, and is eager to help others even when she won't get anything out of it (such as trying to get Maxwell to hire her family members even though they often get her in trouble).
- Like an Old Married Couple: Fran once pointed out in that she hopes the couple across the street see them bickering so that they'll think they are married, but often times Maxwell finds himself reverting to the husband role as her employer (saying things like he's sorry he came home late from a meeting or it was Fran's decision to have 3 kids and be a stay at home parent) before catching himself. Both Fran's therapist and mother are wise enough to point it out.
- Little Black Dress: Fran has an exceptionally fetching one in "An Offer She Can't Refuse." Maxwell is understandably flustered when she wears it on a date with another guy.
- Locked in a Room: In "Whine Cellar", Fran and C.C. get stuck in the Sheffield house's wine cellar during Sylvia's surprise birthday party.
- Locked into Strangeness: According to Maxwell himself, his skunk stripe appeared around the same time Fran was hired. Lampshaded in "The Nanny Napper". However, in the Christmas episode where we see a flashback of him as a kid, the skunk stripe is already present.
- Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: In the seventh episode, Maxwell says that Gracie has had her imaginary friend, Imogene, since Maxwell's wife died. However, Imogene was never mentioned once in the previous six episodes.
- Lysistrata Gambit: Fran attempts this, but caves before her husband so much as notices she's trying to hold out on sex.
- The Mafia: Fran starts dating a member of the Mafia unaware of what he does and then struggles to find a way to break up with him without pissing him off once she figures it out.
- Magical Nanny: Fran, of course. Lampshaded in the theme song, which describes her as exactly what the family needed.
- Malicious Misnaming: C.C.'s temporary replacement when she is committed calls Niles "Piles".
- Mama Bear:
- Fran fully considers Maggie, Brighton, and Grace her own children by the fourth episode, and woe to the poor fool who dares to hurt any of them. As she once threatened C.C., who'd hurt Grace's feelings by telling her that Fran only pretended to love the family for her job: "You're a lovely woman, and I wish you well—but if you ever hurt one of my kids again, they'll be wiping your blue blood off the walls...and I mean that in the nicest of ways."
- This runs in the family. When Fran is finally getting married to Mr. Sheffield, the minister comes to the point where he asks if anyone has any objections to the union. Without saying a word, Sylvia stands up, turns around, and looks ready to rip the head off of anyone who gets in the way.
- Marry the Nanny: The Unresolved Sexual Tension between Mr. Sheffield and Fran (the titular nanny of Sheffield's children) drove the majority of the series, which ended a single season after they finally got married.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: The infamous "Night of Elizabeth Taylor", which united The Nanny with the other shows on that night, Can't Hurry Love, Murphy Brown and High Society.
- "Meet the Celebrity" Contest:
- In "Kindervelt Days", Fran is angry after she finds out her mother never mailed her "win a date with Erik Estrada" entry form when she was a teenager. It gets mailed decades too late, and to Fran's surprise Estrada decides to honor it as a publicity stunt.
- In "A Kiss Is Just A Kiss", Fran encourages Maggie to enter a kissing contest to win a chance to meet Billy Ray Cyrus, but things get awkward when Fran ends up winning the contest herself.
- In "The Bobbie Fleckman Story", Brighton wins a radio contest, the prize being a music video with the Brian Setzer Orchestra filmed in the Sheffield residence.
- Miss Conception: S2 Ep19, "A Fine Friendship" has a Type 1 with Grace. She thinks she's pregnant when she hears Fran talking about a soap opera character who slept with a guy and is late which means she's pregnant. Grace "slept with" (took a nap with) her male friend, Willy, and was "late" (for a showing of The Lion King (1994), because they fell asleep). Fran hears them talking about it.Grace: Are we doing the right thing, bringing a child into this world?
Fran: Boy, can those kids play house or what?
- Missing Mom: Sara Sheffield, how she died has never been revealed.
- Mistaken for Gay: The focus of S2 Ep 19, "A Fine Friendship" with Fran and a male nanny named Kurt.
- Happens more often to Maxwell and Niles. They are British, after all.
- And also because of her virtually nonexistent romantic life, this has happened to C.C.
- Fran too, for the same reason, by Maxwell's new publicist who C.C. and Fran thought was interested in Maxwell. Turns out she really had a thing for Fran.
- Moving Away Ending: The series finale has the Sheffield family relocating from New York City to Los Angeles, while Maggie and Brighton, the two Sheffield children who are adults by this point, are traveling to Europe (Maggie to be with her model husband, and Brighton taking a gap year before starting college).
- Mr. Fanservice: Maxwell has a few shirtless scenes, in particular one early in the series when Fran walks in on him in the shower and another one when the family goes on a cruise.
- Mundane Made Awesome: NYC-based chain barber Supercuts is treated like the Oxford University of hair salons.
- My Beloved Smother: This is ultimately Sylvia's motivation—she really does want Fran to settle down and find love, and tries her best to help however she can...regardless of anyone else's opinions on the matter. In an late-run episode where Fran is hospitalized, Mr. Sheffield even acknowledges that Sylvia has been more like a parent to him than his own mother ever was, and she is genuinely grateful for his praise.
- Nice to the Waiter: C.C. is in no way nice to Niles the butler, and Sweet Lord does she pay for it. Some of the things that are seen or mentioned during the show: swapping out her lip balm for glue stick, putting dishwater in her coffee, switching some labels on breath spray and pepper spray, leaving her trapped in a malfunctioning wheelchair spinning out of control, squirting lemon juice into her eye, handing her a scalding hot teapot, and in general Niles plays hacky-sack with her mental and physical health the entire series. The only time she knew something was wrong was when he didn't take the opportunity to insult her because he was having a heart attack but even immediately after recuperating he tricked her into catching Maxwell on top of Fran, about to have sex.
- This also applies to C.C. where Fran is concerned. C.C. is very condescending to Fran, undermines her and tries to manipulate her in one way or another, but Fran usually has the last laugh.
- There was also an episode that dealt with this directly. After a show opening, they go to the after-party where the busboys were on strike. Fran absolutely refuses to cross the picket line, Maxwell ends up trying to forcibly drag her across, and the ensuing scene got them an appearance on Sally Jesse Raphael. Ironically, the musical that just opened was a musical adaptation of Norma Rae.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In "Samson, He Denied Her" we meet Vincenzo, a Latin Lover model known for his lush, long hair and his appearances in romantic novel illustrations, who's rather obviously based on Fabio. This gets subverted later in the episode, though, as we find out the supposedly Italian "Vincenzo" is actually Bernie Schwartzberg, a New York Jew.
- No Full Name Given: No one knows Niles' last name.
- Fran: Say, what is your last name?
Niles: It's just Niles. Like Cher.
- Though in the finale, as Niles marries his nemesis C.C. in Fran's delivery room, he's referred to as Niles Butler, and does not deny it.
- In another episode, C.C. introduces Niles as Niles DeButler.
- No Indoor Voice: Fran and Sylvia trade off on this quality, and then sometimes use it simultaneously.Sylvia: (to Yetta, who is senile) Ma, these are not Fran's children. SHE'S NOT MARRIED! SHE'S ALL ALONE!
Fran: Louder, Ma. I don't think they heard you IN URUGUAY!
Fran: (creeps down the stairs, whispering) Who's ringing the doorbell at this hour? They're gonna wake everybody up. (bellows) NILES!
- Also Lampshaded from time to time:
(Niles appears beside her)
Fran: Oh, you heard me?
Niles: Van Gogh heard you. He's dead AND missing an ear.
- No Party Given: Averted. Fran has been identified as a Democrat and Maxwell as a Republican. However, this doesn't come up very often. Maxwell was upset when Bill Clinton didn't invite him to an event.
- Brighton generally shares his father's politics (only because he doesn't want his trust fund highly taxed when he is an adult), but once compared himself to Hillary Clinton.
- No Periods, Period: Actually had quite a few with Fran and other female character mentioning periods drive the men from the room, intentional or not.
Fran: Well, the Good News is, I'm usually a very fair nanny. The Bad News: It's the 28th day of the month.
- S2 Ep5, "Curse of the Grandmas". Maxwell is trying to figure out why Fran is angry with him and says he counted backwards from 28 days from the last time she was mad at him for no reason, saying she still has another week.
- S2 Ep13, "The Strike". Maxwell gave Brighton permission to go shopping in Jersey after Fran had already said no.
Maxwell: You see? We didn't have to bother Fran with that. I'll buy you a bicycle.
- S6 Ep3, "Once a Secretary, Always a Secretary". Gracie tells Maxwell that all of her friends are on their "cycles" already, while she isn't. Of course, he misunderstands.
Grace: Dad, I'm talking about my period.
Fran: Val, what comes after a sentence?
- At the end of the episode, Fran tells Maxwell he'll tell her "the longer her 'friend' takes to visit the happier we'll all be", just as Grace walks by yelling about being out of Nutter Butters, and Fran says "Well, welcome to hell, honey."
- In season one's "The Gym Teacher", Maggie tries to get out of gym class by saying it's because of her period, but Fran doesn't buy it.
Val: A parole?
Fran: (to Maggie) You may have guessed Val is not short for valedictorian. Now what's going on? You've had your period 4 times this month.
Fran: SO, women don't get their periods 4 times a month, otherwise all the men would be institutionalized.
- Noodle Incident: Maxwell taking back that he loves Fran becomes this for Niles.
- In one episode he figures it out (cue epic Oh, Crap! from Maxwell), but then decides that can't be it, because no one could be stupid enough to do something like that.
- Not in Front of the Parrot!: While Cher is recovering from plastic surgery in the Sheffield home, it somehow slips out, and Maxwell suspects Fran. She denies it, but the parrot gives her away with, "*Squawk!* Val! It's Cher! Could ya plotz?" Although, it's revealed that it was Maxwell's fault.
- Not What It Looks Like: Happens quite frequently with Fran and Maxwell.
Niles: If you let me tell Miss Babcock about this, I'll work free for a year.
- "A Fine Friendship" has Max fighting to help Fran get her shirt on after she gets it stuck putting it on. They're struggling trying to get it on, yelling about how they'll get it on, how he can't do it standing up, and how hot she is, right as Niles walks by. The look on his face is priceless.
- In "Close Shave", Niles walks in on Fran, disguised as a nurse, spraying and massaging shaving cream all over Maxwell's lower body, prompting him to say "Bucking for a raise?".
- Obfuscating Insanity: Usually averted for Yetta, who from her first apperance is shown to be quite senile, but on at least one occasion she claimed to be lost in downtown Manhattan and got a police officer to give her a ride to "her" home at the Sheffield mansion, claiming getting a ride from there was cheaper than getting a cab back to her retirement home.
- Oblivious to Love: Played for laughs, though it's more like Oblivious To Lust, as Maxwell constantly misinterprets or overlooks C.C.'s attempts at winning his heart.
- Odd Friendship: Fran and Niles' friendship is a departure from most sitcoms where their characters would normally be enemies. In fact, Niles ends up joining Val as Fran's best friend and is a Shipper on Deck for Maxwell and Fran, often thwarting C.C.'s schemes.
- C.C. and Fran also get along fairly well when they're not feuding over Maxwell and whenever she can benefit from it C.C. even supports Fran's schemes to try to convince Maxwell.
- Official Couple: Fran and Maxwell.
- Old Maid: Fran has a complex about getting older without husband and babies in her future; she's very insecure about it. The point that the secrecy regarding her real age is a Running Joke. Lampshaded throughout the whole series. Even the FBI was only able to get as close as thirty-one. HILARIOUSLY lampshaded when on the night before her wedding, Fran is stranded on the outskirts of the city. When she calls the police for help, he dismisses her. . .until she tells him how old she is (which the audience never hears, but realizes that she must be pretty desperate if she's revealing such carefully guarded information to a complete stranger), and he then offers to send a helicopter to get her safely home.
- Old Shame: When Maggie researches the Sheffield family history for a school project and casually mentions that the family has reputation for mental illness, Maxwell declares that this merely is a vicious rumor...despite the fact that he has a great-aunt who lives in a gazebo with a hoot owl, an uncle who beheaded his aunt, and another uncle who believes himself to be a leprechaun.
- Once Done, Never Forgotten:
- Maxwell frequently gets criticized by Fran and Niles for passing on producing Cats, but he asserts he did the right thing.
- In one episode, it was revealed that he also passed on Tommy and Hair, as well. It was also revealed that C.C. convinced him to pass on Cats.
- When it looked like they were going to die in a plane crash, Maxwell confessed his feelings for Fran. They survived, but Maxwell then took it back... and went back and forth another time. "The thing" haunted Maxwell for that season.
- Maxwell frequently gets criticized by Fran and Niles for passing on producing Cats, but he asserts he did the right thing.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: C.C. Babcock's full name is only revealed in the final episode. It's Chastity Claire Babcock, if anyone cares.
- On Second Thought: Fran tries to convince Sylvia to hire Brighton as videographer for a party she's throwing.Sylvia: Fran, my future freeloading in Florida depends on this party. There's no way that I'm going to...
Fran: He'll do it for a $10
Sylvia: You're hired!
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Occasionally happened to Niles, with Daniel Davis' American accent coming through on certain lines. (Listen to how he pronounces "heart attack" in season 5's "From Flushing With Love" for an example.)
- Parental Marriage Veto: Maxwell's mother Elizabeth assumes he is having an affair with Fran, whom she unwittingly had a spat with at a florist (they were both arguing about getting the same flowers but Fran didn't know she was Maxwell's mother). She tells him to fire the nanny because his father did the same with his secretary, but out of spite he proposes instead.
- Pet the Dog: When Brighton wants to be on Yetta's canasta team in "Canasta Masta", who argues in his favor? C.C.!
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: In later seasons, Fran is rarely ever shown doing any work, not that she has much to do with two of the kids nearly adults, and keeps her job due to the UST between her and Maxwell. Frequently lampshaded, such as in final season where Fran, now Maxwell's wife, hires a new nanny who quickly realizes she isn't needed. Max directly said he kept her on as his nanny even though his kids were nearly old enough to vote specifically because she had no other skills and is generally kind of hopeless. While C.C. still calls Fran "Nanny Fine", it's largely out of disrespect about Maxwell considering Fran his love interest instead of her.
- Platonic Life-Partners: Fran and Niles.
- Pop-Cultured Badass: Fran is very much this trope.
- Post-Kiss Catatonia: Done in small in an episode after Fran and Maxwell reenact a scene from Romeo and Juliet. Stunned, Fran stumbles all the way back down the stairs due to weak knees.
- Potty Emergency:
- C.C. has a brief case of this in during the episode "Schlepped Away" in which she desperately holds it in. She finally relieves herself when she gets to Fran's parents house.
- In another episode, where Fran and Val are kidnapped, Fran manages to trick their captors by offering them her mother's chocolate-coated laxatives, telling them it's candy, resulting in both of them having to make a mad dash for a bathroom. (After Maxwell finds and unties them, he still rejects her advances, causing her to sigh, and then offer one of them to him too. The episode ends at that scene.)
- Prenup Blowup: Maxwell asked Fran, Fran freaked out. In a slight subversion, upon reflection, she decides it is just a piece of paper that she would never need to use anyway, and so offers to sign it. However, in the interim, Max decides he doesn't need it and instead gives her the adoption papers for his children.
- In an earlier episode, Sylvia is berating Fran for letting her work interfere too much with her private time (which, to Sylvia, is "find a man and get married" time.) Frustrated, Fran then says that she did meet someone: an investment banker worth zillions. She then mentioned that the one condition was that she had to sign a prenup. As Sylvia collapses in a faint, Fran then retorts, "See Ma, I could kill you if I want."
- Professional Butt-Kisser: C.C.Fran: Can that woman suck up, Niles.
Niles: If she came with attachments, we could throw out the Hoover.
- Put on a Bus: Sammy, Yetta's husband played by Ray Charles, disappears without mention after Season 6's "The Hanukkah Story".
- Real Men Wear Pink: The desk sergeant in Season 2's "The Nanny Napper" is a fan of The Young and the Restless.
- Reality Is Unrealistic:
- Mr. Sheffield played by London-born Charles Shaughnessy has at least once been told his English accent wasn't as good as Fake Brit 's Daniel Davis'.
- During Max's midlife crisis, he consoles himself by saying that even Andrew Lloyd Webber had flops, but cannot think of a single example. In fact, ALW has had several flops, starting as early as the 1970s. It's only gotten worse for the man since, with no fewer than three shows that failed before they even made it to Broadway.
- Retail Riot: In the season 4 episode "The Bird's Nest", Fran gets in a fight with another shopper over a green sweater at the Loehmann's Semi–Annual Red Star Clearance. It eventually turns out the woman is Brighton's science teacher, and Fran gives her the sweater as a bribe to get him an extension on his science project.
- Fran fought a woman over flowers, only to find out when the woman "followed her home" that it was Maxwell's mother Elizabeth.
- Rich Bitch: C.C.
- Max's sister Jocelyn didn't start out this way when she appeared in an early episode, but when she reappeared in the last couple seasons, she seemed to have become this.
- Max's mother was also definitely this trope.
- Fran's Aunt Frieda showed shades of this after becoming rich, though she redeemed herself.
- Max's sister Jocelyn didn't start out this way when she appeared in an early episode, but when she reappeared in the last couple seasons, she seemed to have become this.
- Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: The Sheffields, or any of the Blue Bloods for that matter, often lack common sense and need to be schooled by Fran. The kids have an excuse, they are growing up and need parental guidance, the adults... not so much.
- "Risky Business" Dance: Done by Niles in "Canasta Masta". C.C. walks in on him.Niles: You realize of course now I have to kill you.
- Romancing the Widow: Fran has been out in the open about this since the pilot episode.
- Running Gag: Such gags include:
- Fran never being honest about her age. And being offended if anyone assumes she's over 30.
- Maxwell's resentment of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
- C.C. never remembering the names of the Sheffield children (or even the number).
- Sylvia's voracious appetite.
- Maxwell's obliviousness about how much C.C. lusts after him (up until he and Fran get married).
- Fran and Sylvia's obsessive undying love for Barbra Streisand.
- C.C.'s poor romantic life.
- Gracie's paranoia (she got better in the later seasons though).
- Yetta's senility.
- Maxwell being mistaken for Pierce Brosnan.
- Saw a Woman in Half: This was going to be Fran and Gracie's talent for the mother/daughter pageant. Their practice run didn't go very well... Fran was nearly cut while Gracie read Easy-Bake instructions.
- Self-Proclaimed Love Interest: C.C. to Maxwell.
- Series Continuity Error:
"That's preposterous! I've never even met your father. No one has. I'm not sure he bloody well exists."
- During the early seasons Fran often wishes she could meet her idol Barbra Streisand in person. Then, in the season 4 episode "The Car Show", Maxwell arranges for Fran to privately meet Streisand (though the actual encounter takes place offscreen), and Fran is just as impressed by this as you'd expect her to be. However, in later episodes Fran still keeps on mentioning how her dream is to meet Streisand, and the fact that she already did is never brought up.
- At one point Maxwell claims he has never seen Fran's father Morty, even though they had met several times in earlier episodes. Maxwell's comment is actually used to lampshade the fact that at this point the viewers had never seen Morty.
- In the season 1 Christmas episode, Fran pawns the watch her grandmother gave her on her deathbed to pay for her presents for the kids. Not only was Yetta already shown to be alive, it's revealed in season 3's "The Grandmas" that her paternal grandmother (Nettie) is still alive as well.
- Servile Snarker: Niles, especially with C.C.C.C.: Ah this is a dream come true. I feel like I have died and gone to heaven!
Niles: I have that dream too but you go in the other direction.
- Shared Universe: With This is Spın̈al Tap, since Bobbie Fleckman appears as a the manager of the "Brian Setzer Orchestra," with Everybody Loves Raymond, since Fran and Raymond attended the same high school, as well as with The King of Queens since Ray and Doug knew each other before the latter moved to Queens, New York.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Fran quite frequently.
Fran: See? You did the right thing, and God smiled on you. God, Maybelline, and half a box of Kleenex.
- Maggie too, in the Pilot episode.
- Brooke, Brighton's nerdy classmate in "The Playwright".
- Fran lampshades it;
- In "Immaculate Concépcion," Maxwell's father dies—and to everyone's shock, he leaves his entire estate (valued at $100 million) to the title character, a secret love child he had in his old age (he explains that she was unable to receive the advantages the other kids got growing up, and so he's trying to right that wrong now). The Sheffield clan is naturally furious, with the adults trying to contest the will and the kids whining about the loss of their riches. Sylvia convinces Fran to visit Concépcion and try to get the money back—but when she arrives at the hotel where the young woman is staying, she discovers that they're almost identical (right down to dressing alike and having Big Eater mothers who love to meddle). Concépcion gushes about how she's not only thrilled with her newfound fortune, but happy that her father—who she assumed hated her all his life—really did love her after all. Fran realizes that she can't hurt the young woman, and instead invites her to her and Mr. Sheffield's upcoming wedding as a member of the family. Though Max swears that he still loves Fran and refuses to break off the engagement to seek a richer woman, things still look somewhat bleak...until the family lawyer arrives. It turns out that Concépcion was so grateful to Fran for treating her like a sister and friend that she's decided to share her riches with her siblings—she's always wanted a family, and Fran has offered her just that. So Fran gets the guy of her dreams, a new friend, and a healthy share of the Sheffield fortune—all by choosing to show kindness over greed.
- She Is All Grown Up: Madeline Zima (Gracie)... certainly... grew up...
- Shipper on Deck:
- Pretty much everyone except C.C was one for Fran and Maxwell but especially Niles, who could be downright Anvilicious about it.
- Fran picks up on Niles and C.C. as well.
Fran: Oh, don't worry about him, he's like Schultz.
- "Ms. Fine, you got some 'splainin' to do!
- The entire episode "My Fair Nanny" is a shout-out to My Fair Lady.
- 'Smoke Gets In Your Lies', Brighton says "I'm giving her all she's got, Captain!
- In a season 2 episode, Fran and an old schoolmate of hers go in the kitchen to talk, but the schoolmate is worried to talk in front of Niles:
Niles: I know nothing, nothing...
- In the season 4 episode "The Bird's Nest", a Loehmann's employee opens the front doors on the day of a big sale, and as Fran and a horde of other women rush in, the episode plays footage of the stampede scene from Jumanji.
- Signature Laugh: Oh, that nasal, snorty laugh...
- Sign of the Apocalypse: "Miss Fine and Miss Babcock walking arm in arm."
Gracie: Should we worry about this?
- When Niles and C.C. ate Dr. Fu's cookies in "Making Whoopie", the kids are very freaked out:
Brighton: Based on previous experience, I hope it's just a phase...
- Singing Telegram: In "The Dinner Party", Fran Fine and Maxwell Sheffield have officially engaged, but Maxwell's worried he hadn't told his business partner C.C. Babcock. Niles, however, reassures him he'd taken care of it. Cut to C.C.'s apartment where she finds two singing and tap-dancing telegrams at her door:Singing Telegrams: (to the tune of "Yankee Doodle") Fran and Maxwell are engaged / It looks like you're a loser! / She'll be happy all her days / And you'll become a boozer!
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Maxwell loathes Andrew Lloyd Webber.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Niles and C.C. They eventually do get married in Fran's DELIVERY ROOM.
C.C.: I loathe you.
- After a few too many late night drinks, Niles and C.C. start the insults:
Niles: I despise you.
(cue passionate embrace)
- C.C. is by far the most abused character on the show (the show is also unique in the sense that the female slapstick violence is mostly the fault of a male character, namely Niles.)
- Fran has her share of slapstick, too. Understandable, since Fran Drescher has cited Lucille Ball as a major influence upon her.
- Slobs Versus Snobs: Although Fran wasn't exactly a slob and always looked fabulous, she's not above picking her teeth in polite company and offering an off-hand remark about food she doesn't remember eating being stuck in there. And her biggest antagonist is the Blue Blood C.C., who hates her for being lower class and accordingly, as she sees it, an unworthy love interest for Maxwell.
- Small Name, Big Ego: C.C.
- Smoking Is Cool: S1 Ep2, "Smoke Gets In Your Lies" brought this up when Brighton takes up smoking after Fran tells him how the coolest kid in her middle school did it.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: The glorious rivalry of Niles and C.C.
- Special Guest: Maxwell's job as a Broadway producer gives the show an excuse to feature many famous actors playing themselves, and Bill Clinton's brother Roger Clinton also appears a few times as himself. Sometimes the plot of the episode revolves around the Celebrity of the Week, sometimes they're used only for a couple of gags.
- Stalker with a Crush: C.C. shows shades of this towards Maxwell (as early as Season One, her therapist has diagnosed C.C. with being clinically obsessed with him). It gets much more severe after Fran and Maxwell announce their engagement. Upon hearing the news, C.C. immediately starts twitching, attacks the messengers who brought her the news (she's holding one of their hats, torn to shreds, in the next scene), and actually ends up spending a few episodes in a mental asylum (in Real Life actress Lauren Lane was taking time off because she was about to give birth). She gets better by the end of the series though, thanks to realizing that she loves Niles.
- Fran gets her own stalker in the form of Jeffrey Needleman, an old classmate from middle and high school. He threatens to fling himself out a window if Fran doesn't start a relationship with him. At one point before this, he gives her an old makeup kit, explaining that it's the same one their fifth grade teacher confiscated from Fran. Cue Fran's response: "And you saved it...all these years. How sweet...and yet disturbing!"
- Stupid Crooks: The season 4 episode "The Bank Robbery" features one who takes Fran and Sylvia as hostages, but otherwise is so unprepared that he forgets to put on a mask and reveals his real name. When he finally makes a run for it, he takes Sylvia with him... and her appetite leads to him having to stop at a restaurant, where he's caught and arrested.
- Stupid Sexy Flanders: Maxwell finds himself momentarily attracted to "Wilbur Ed", only to find (to his relief) that it was actually Fran in disguise.
- On one occasion Max says he "did once have a dream about that chap from Wings" before quickly deciding to go watch some sports.
- Stylish Protection Gear: Fran buys a sexy ski outfit, but admits it's just to attract guys."Who says anything about skiing? If I even make it out of the lodge, I'm sending it back."
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: When Niles performed a number from his autobiographical musical:But it doesn't matter what I'm paid,
Because I'm finally getting—
Six bucks an hour!
Includes a room and shower!
- Sure, Let's Go with That: When Maxwell is taking a bath in "Where's the Pearls".Niles: Try to relax sir. I'll have your brandy and cigar.
Maxwell: ...waiting for me when I get out?
Niles: Um... yeah.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: C.C. invokes this...
- "I wasn't staying up to see how late you'd come back after your night out"
- Sweet and Sour Grapes: S2 Ep2, "The Playwright", had this happen to Brighton. He asks his geeky study partner, Brooke, to the school dance, only to deny it and turn her down when she talks to him about it in front of his friends and gets lectured by Fran for it. Later on, after agreeing again to take her to the dance, she shows up and has
- Talking to the Dead: Maxwell in "The Wedding" finds himself speaking to his deceased wife Sara, who gives her blessing for marrying Fran, and even indicates that she was the one sending her to him in the first place.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Maxwell is usually described as this type.
- Team Rocket Wins: During the later seasons, C.C. would sometimes beat Niles in their games of wit. In one particularly triumphant example, Niles convinces her that Maxwell has four children, not three—but then C.C. shows up after an awards show with a small boy in tow. Niles panics and runs off to get help, and C.C. promptly pays the kid for playing along.
- The Tease: Fran loves running around the house in her short skirts and stilettos, or coming in unannounced to Maxwell's office to sit on his desk. Niles doesn't always mention it but he enjoys the view too.
- Terrible Interviewees Montage: In "The Party's Over," Fran tries to find the ideal guy at the party she and Val throw. She finds a nice one in the end, but it goes wrong for a different reason.
- That Didn't Happen: During a turbulent flight, Maxwell confesses he loves Fran but took it back when they landed safely.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: Sylvia (and to a lesser extent, Yetta) in later episodes. Lampshaded in one episode:Maggie: Fran, you can't control what your mother eats. She doesn't live here.
Gracie: When did she move out?
- Third-Option Love Interest: Happens a couple of times during the series, most prominently (and Lampshaded) with Bobbie Flekman (played by Fran Drescher) who the delusional C.C. describes as an amalgamation between herself and Fran. C.C. is the only one who thinks that she and Fran are Betty and Veronica, though, so it's pretty much a subversion. Sufficed to say, Bobbie is only there to cause tension and never reappears in the series.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Maxwell finally beats Andrew Lloyd Webber after years of coming behind in Season 4 Episode 20 "The Nanny and The Hunk Producer" when he wins more Tony Awards than the latter.note
- Tinkle in the Eye: When Fran has to take care of a baby boy, Maxwell warns her about this, saying he learned it the hard way with Brighton, who once shorted out a wall clock.
- Tongue on the Flagpole:
- A subversion occurs when Niles offers C.C. a frozen popsicle and it sticks to her tongue... so he tells her to go outside and stick it out in the sun to melt instead of just running warm water over it. Alas, C.C. didn't know any better.
- Played straight with the Secret Service agent on the ski lift.
- Translation by Volume: When Fran gets a French boyfriend, her mother speaks loudly and slowly to him.
- Trash Landing: In an episode, Fran agrees to go out with a guy, whom she had rejected in High School. Then he asks her to marry him, or he will jump out of a window and kill himself. But when it seems like everything has turned out alright (Maxwell has read a play he has written and decided to produce it), he trips and falls down several floors by accident, only to have his life saved by landing in a garbage pile on the pavement below them.
- Unexpected Positive:
- The daughter Gracie only had the flu, but Fran had to have her tonsils out.
- Oldest daughter Maggie thinks she's pregnant and goes to a gynecologist for a test. It turns out negative, but when the doctor lists some of the signs Fran interrupts to say she's been feeling nauseous and tired... Subverted two episodes later, when it turns out she wasn't really pregnant.
- Done again in the finale: C.C. gets informed that she is pregnant just as Fran is about to give birth.
- Unlimited Wardrobe: How Fran manages to have so many clothes is ascribed to her having a fashion designer cousin. Apart from that, she's shown to frequent outlet malls and discount stores such as "Labels for Less" and other "designer duds on the cheap" places. She also frequently mentions her credit card bills were absolutely astronomical and went through a case of compulsive shopping so it isn't just having Todd Oldham as a cousin.
- The Unseen: Fran's father. Up until he appears twice during the final season, played by Steve from "Steve and Edie", creating a Celebrity Paradox.
- Unto Us a Son and Daughter Are Born: In the final episode, Fran gives birth to opposite sex fraternal twins; a girl she names Eve, and a son she names Jonah.
- The 'Verse: The presence of Bobbi Flekman indicates that The Nanny exists in the same world as This is Spın̈al Tap. Also, Fran and Val running into Ray Barone at their high school reunion (Truth in Television, as Fran Drescher and Ray Romano really did go to high school together!) officially canon-welded The Nanny and Everybody Loves Raymond as existing in the same universe. Later on, The King of Queens also joined this shared universe thanks to its semi-frequent crossovers with Everybody Loves Raymond.
- Volleying Insults: C.C. and Niles, the latter usually winning.
- Wannabe Line: Fran and Valerie usually spend their nights off at one of those lines to see celebrities entering. One day, feeling Maxwell needed to get out more, Fran invited him along. Because Fran and Val didn't want to drive away potential boyfriends, they asked him to pretend he didn't know them. It backfired on them when he was let in.
- Waxing Lyrical: When someone asks about Fran, she quotes the first two lines of the theme song, verbatim. Fran's status as a Pop-Cultured Badass would occasionally lead her to use things like that. When Maxwell was planning a very stuffy affair for Maggie's Sweet Sixteen at the Guggenheim, Fran responded with "While Cathy adores a minuet, a Ballets Russes, and crepes suzette. Our Patty likes to rock 'n' roll."
- "Well Done, Daughter" Girl: C.C. in "Ode to Barbra Joan".
- What Are Records?: In "The Bobby Flekman Story":Brighton: Is it true back then people used to listen to their music on some sort of primitive, large, black, vinyl disc?
Fran: Only when we weren't enjoying our favorite past-time. Child hurling.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Fran's ex-fiance Danny and his girlfriend Heather have a baby in the third season. But one year later, Danny dies and Heather first goes to Hollywood and later on takes over Fran's nanny job briefly while the kid is never mentioned again.
- Within The Nanny itself, we never find out what happened to Elizabeth Taylor's pearls after they go missing in "Where's the Pearls?". However, the episode was part of a Cross Through, an ongoing plot across four different shows that all aired the night of February 26, 1996, and the pearls are recovered in the fourth and final episode of the event.
- WTH, Casting Agency?: In-universe. One way to show Max's... abilities as a producer was to mention that he would make some bizarre casting choices. Some of which were Debbie Boone as Yentl and putting Lyle Waggoner in Fiddler On The Roof.
- Played with in another episode, which has him putting on a play with Katharine Hepburn in a role...but also as catcher on the cast's Broadway Show League baseball team.
- What's a Henway?: A couple of times.
Maureen Wentworth: (observing a sculpture) What a lovely artifact. Is it Mayan?
- In "My Fair Nanny", as Fran is trying to pass herself off as cultured at the party:
Fran: No, it's his-en.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: In the finale, everybody is more than surprised that C.C.'s full name is Chastity-Claire.
- Who Would Want to Watch Us?: In "When You Pish Upon a Star", the family meets an actor from a sitcom called "Royal Flush" which is literally just the in-universe version of The Nanny. This leads to a lot of meta jokes such as Maxwell wondering why the dad character lets the servants have the run of the house..
- Will They or Won't They?: Especially in the latter seasons, both between Maxwell and Fran and C.C. and Niles
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Gracie.
- Why Waste a Wedding?: Jocelyn is set to marry Nigel... but is really in love with Lester, her chauffeur. The two of them figure this out on time — and get married on the day that was supposed to be her wedding to Nigel!
- Yiddish as a Second Language: This was actually one of the show's signature elements. It really wouldn't have felt the same without this trope.
- You Just Ruined the Shot: In the season 5 episode "The Bobbi Fleckman Story", the final scene of the episode features Brian Setzer and his band shooting a music video for "The House Is Rockin'" in the Sheffield home; partway through, Niles wanders in behind Brian (and in front of the rest of the band) and starts mugging for the camera, until the director puts a stop to it, yelling "Cut! Get that damn butler out of the shot!"