Follow TV Tropes

Following

Series / The Odd Couple (1970)

Go To

https://mediaproxy.tvtropes.org/width/350/https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Odd_Couple_3187.jpg
Jack Klugman as Oscar, Tony Randall as Felix.

"On November 13th, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence; that request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he also knew that some day he would return to her. With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his friend, Oscar Madison. Several years earlier, Madison's wife had thrown him out, requesting that he never return.

Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?"
Advertisement:

The Odd Couple is an ABC sitcom which ran from 1970–75. It was devised by Garry Marshall, based on the 1965 Broadway comedy play by Neil Simon and its 1968 movie adaptation. It was the first series produced by Paramount Television that was based on one of the studio's films (as well as the beginning of Marshall's relationship with Paramount which would go on to encompass both TV and film); PTV predecessor Desilu Studios had produced The Greatest Show on Earth, inspired by the 1952 Paramount feature The Greatest Show on Earth, before Desilu became Paramount's TV division.

Neat Freak photographer Felix Unger (Tony Randall) is kicked out by his wife, and with no place else to go, must move in with his friend, sports writer Oscar Madison (Jack Klugman), a total slob. The TV show added a small supporting cast, including Murray (Al Molinaro), a dim-witted but lovable police officer.

Advertisement:

The series was followed by a 1993 reunion special, The Odd Couple: Together Again.

The success of the series inspired several other TV adaptations of the premise, including The Oddball Couple, a 1975 animated series starring a cartoon dog and cat, The New Odd Couple, a 1982 sitcom with black actors in the lead roles, and The Odd Couple (2015), a 21st-century setting update.


This TV series contains examples of:

  • 555: Oscar's short-lived radio sports show's number is 555-8161.
  • Accidental Bargaining Skills: Felix tries to give away an extra ticket, but the woman believes he's trying to sell it to her and offers him money. His stunned silence is interpreted as "holding out for more".
  • Absent Animal Companion:
    • Felix's parrot Albert contracted Chuck Cunningham Syndrome after an episode in which he "died."
    • In the episode "The Subway Story", Felix brings home a puppy for Oscar called Yawbus ("subway" spelled backwards). He's never mentioned again.
  • Advertisement:
  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: The show crossed this over with Yet Another Christmas Carol, with Oscar, grouchy about Christmas, getting an Opinion-Changing Dream after refusing to participate in Felix's version of "A Christmas Carol."
  • Actually Pretty Funny: In one episode, Felix is perturbed by Oscar's house guest Wild Willie Boggs (played by Roy Clark) who is prone to making crude practical jokes. He finally confronts him about it. Willie says "Felix, you don't like them because you've never tried them", adding, "Do you want to play a trick on Oscar?" Felix delivers the "about-face" line, says, "No. What?" Willie gives Felix a rubber hot dog to give to Oscar. With insane glee, Felix sets the trap and calls Oscar in for a snack - which of course Oscar just eats as if it were normal, saying, "The bun's a little stale."
  • Adaptational Job Change: Felix, a TV newswriter in the play/film, is a commercial photographer in the series.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Felix's ex-wife is named Frances in the original play and film, but is renamed Gloria for the 1970-75 series and its 1993 Reunion Show.
    • Also, the spelling of Felix's surname is changed from "Ungar" to "Unger".
  • Adaptation Personality Change: While the main facets of Felix and Oscar's respective personalities (Felix being a compulsive neat freak, and Oscar being a slob) remained intact, their demeanors have pretty much flip-flopped from the movie to the series. To wit: instead of Felix being an uptight killjoy and Oscar being fun-loving and carefree, it's Felix who is more a bright-eyed and easygoing guy (for the most part), while Oscar is more of an irritable, quick-tempered grump (mainly because Felix gets on his nerves so much). Also, Felix is more culturally highbrow than in the film, playing up the Slobs Versus Snobs conflicts with Oscar.
  • Adapted Out: Oscar's children, because ABC didn't permit divorced characters to have children until about 1972.
  • Adopted to the House: Oscar invites Felix to move in with him after his wife kicks him out, and soon comes to regret it.
  • Adults Dressed as Children: An episode that spoofed A Christmas Carol had Oscar dream about himself in the role of Scrooge. In the "Ghost of Christmas Past" scene, Oscar is at an old fashioned school desk wearing a Little Lord Fauntleroy costume while writing a complaint letter to Santa.
  • Alliterative Family: Oscar's secretary Myrna Turner (pronounced "Turna" with a thick New York accent), has a brother and sister named Werner ("Werna") and Verna respectively.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Played straight with Oscar, inverted with Felix.
  • Amicably Divorced:
    • Felix and Gloria are divorced. However, the two share friendly custody of the children and stay at one another's apartments at various times. Felix's series-long goal consists of winning back his wife and, despite her frustration with his quirks, Gloria admits to one of her dates that she hasn't moved on from Felix.
    • Oscar and Blanche have their moments, too.
  • Anachronism Stew: The flashbacks were mostly set during The '50s, but some wear afros and sideburns as well as some clothing clearly from The '70s. This was averted with Felix, who in these occasions usually wore a bowtie and a hat.
  • And a Diet Coke: Oscar asks a visiting monk to make him a hamburger. On the burger, he asks for mustard, relish, pickles, hot sauce, peppers and chili. The monk says, "No onions?" Oscar replies, "No, I've got an ulcer."
  • Anger Born of Worry: In "Felix is Missing", when Felix comes home exhausted from his day snowbound somewhere, Oscar turns to Murray and tells him, "I'll give you $200 for that gun."
  • Animals Hate Him: Averted with dogs but played straight with wild animals. During "I'm Dying of Unger", Felix gets bitten by three animals that we know of — a chipmunk, a rabbit, and a frog — and his bandaged fingers testify to other cases. However, this is only due to his status as the show's Butt-Monkey and not for any lack of innocence on his part. In fact, he's shown to love the animals who attack him, so this could also be considered a subversion of Friend to All Living Things.
  • Ascended Extra: Murray was originally listed as one of "The Poker Players" but he began to appear more frequently as the series progressed, and not only to play poker.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: In "Oscar's Promotion", a Chinese wrestler whom Oscar sponsors and Felix wants to photograph speaks English, but with a heavy accent. Especially hilarious when he drops by their place the night before he returns to China, with bags of food in hand, to have dinner with them. Among some of the goodies he brings over are "rocks" and "cheese brintzes."
  • Aside Glance: In one of the opening credits sequences, there's a bit where Felix directs a long, pointed glance at the camera while Oscar dries his hands on Felix's shirt. Felix does this during several actual episodes as well, such as when Oscar draws a mustache on him with a marker in "You Saved My Life".
  • Ballet Episode: Felix gets involved in a production of Swan Lake. He even forces Oscar into dancing one of the roles.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: A double-whammy in "Shuffling Off to Buffalo." Felix's brother Floyd comes to visit him and Oscar; Floyd feels Felix isn't suited for city life, and wishes he would to come to work for him at his bubblegum factory. At the same time, Felix envies the life Floyd has: a successful business, a really nice house, a loving family with a wife and children, a lodge membership, and wishes he had a life like that. With a little persistent prodding, Floyd manages to talk Felix into accepting a managing position at this bubblegum factory, but after some time, comes to regret it as Felix drives everybody at the factory crazy with his new regulations; at the same time, Felix also regrets accepting the offer because he comes to miss New York City as well as his old apartment and Oscar too much.
  • Bedmate Reveal: This happens to Felix. It's a long scene with no dialogue that begins with Felix coming home late from work, gargling, putting his PJ's and a sleep mask on and climbing into bed. While on his back, a sleeping woman (who'd gotten Oscar to give her a place to crash) suddenly rolls over and throws her arm around him, while still asleep. He picks up her arm, takes off his mask, sits up, gets out of bed, looks down at her (still asleep) and delivers the only line in the scene: "It's not my birthday...".
  • "Before" and "After" Pictures: Oscar (in a fat suit) was hired by Felix as a last-minute replacement for the before half of a before-and-after shoot, after "the fattest man in the world" refused to do it.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Felix gets one of these moments in "The Ides of April". When he lets it slip to the IRS that Oscar's tax returns are suspect, Oscar is audited. But when it looks like Oscar is going to lose everything, Felix charges into the IRS office. He has gone over Oscar's books, discovered Oscar never deducted his alimony payments, and finds that, in fact, the IRS owes Oscar money for the overpayment.
  • Big Eater: Oscar is implied to be this on occasion.
    Oscar: Hey, you know somethin', Felix? Maybe that steak wasn't so good after all. My stomach's upset.
    Felix: You sure it was that and not the baked potato? The fried onions? The garlic toast? The pie a la mode? My left over sand dabs?
    Oscar: That's it. The sand dabs.
  • Big Rotten Apple: Not a main feature of the series, but given that it does take place in 1970s New York City this trope ends up showing up a few times. In addition to occasional quips from the characters about getting mugged and scenes of Oscar checking out a titty bar (just watch the Season One end credits and read the text on that building Oscar walks up to towards the end) in at least one version of the end credits, it provided the setup or a plot point for a few episodes:
    • "Security Arms": Their apartment gets burglarized, and Oscar walks into the living room to find Felix bound and gagged. Horrified, Felix moves into a new building with ultra-high security. Oscar pooh-poohs Felix as being overly paranoid... then moves in with him just a few days later after he hears a wild gun fight right outside the apartment. It takes some serious issues with the new building to get Felix and Oscar to move back into their old place.
    • "New York's Oddest": Felix comes home from work having delivered a baby on the sidewalk in Times Square ("The first thing that baby saw was an X-rated movie marquee over its head!") on his way home and is very much exasperated at the fact that people were nearly walking all over the mom, newborn, and Felix without noticing them. His irritation with how callous New Yorkers are now inspires him to enroll himself and Oscar into a volunteer police force program called the Civilian Police Reserves. On his first shift on patrol in their floor Felix repeatedly irritates everyone by blowing his whistle and getting them all up for little things. Then a burglar comes in, ready to break into an apartment. Felix blows his whistle repeatedly, but because of his prior false alarms no one comes out, and Felix is bound and gagged by the burglar. In the morning, Oscar and the other neighbors come out to find Felix still bound and gagged-and are glad the burglar shut Felix up for the rest of the night.
    • "Natural Childbirth": Oscar's niece ran away from her home in Iowa so she could give birth outside of a hospital-she wants to deliver her baby in the "simple setting" of a motel in the Bronx. This elicits shock and serious concern from Oscar, Felix, and other characters to the point that everyone's trying to get her to go to a hospital to give birth-only for her to end up giving birth in Oscar and Felix's apartment!
    • "Two Men on a Hoarse": Oscar loses his voice from a throat operation, which eventually causes Felix to lose his own voice from guilt. When burglars break into their apartment, Felix's voice is still nonexistent, so a still-hoarse Oscar struggles to yell to Murray that their apartment was robbed.
    • "The Subway Story": Oscar's annoyed with the city, so Felix takes him out on the town to show him that New York isn't a completely lost cause. Of course they get stuck in the subway.
    • "The New Car": Oscar wins a new car through a radio game show Felix that helped him win. After an entire episode of them agonizing over parking it, they ultimately look out their window to find the car with most of its parts stolen, which pretty much forces them to sell what remains of it to a lady who was trying to get it for a rather low price from them earlier.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Felix to Oscar in "The Odd Couple Meet Their Host", after Oscar makes fun of his quirks on TV.
  • Birthday Hater: Oscar doesn't hate his birthday, just birthday parties. In particular, he hates "a surprise birthday party, with a theme", which, of course, is what Felix has planned. He's coaxed into it when Felix points out the party really isn't just for him, it's something for is friends to celebrate and have a good time together.
  • Blind Mistake: Felix returns from the hospital wearing a post-op bandage (blindfold) as the result of a sinus procedure. Wanting to freshen the air in the apartment, he mistakenly grabs a can of whipped cream sitting next to the can of Glade. He also goes to the closet and mistakenly puts on his ex-wife Gloria's coat. After Oscar clues him in, Felix says "It fits!"
  • Book and Switch: During a rehearsal for "A Christmas Carol", one of the characters (Speed) is hiding porn underneath his script and is sort of not paying attention to the rehearsal. He is suddenly asked to read for the part of Scrooge. But he thinks they want him to read the porn. He balks, saying he would be embarrassed. He's coaxed into reading and begins reciting a passage from the porn, to which a very surprised Felix says, "Charles Dickens never wrote that".
  • Bowling for Ratings: "To Bowl or Not to Bowl," which centers around Oscar's never-before-mentioned bowling team making a run at the championship - potentially without its star player, Felix.
  • Breakout Character: Murray the cop. In the first season, he was regarded as nothing more than one of Oscar's poker buddies; by the second season, when they were pretty much dropped, Murray stuck around and became an official part of the cast.
  • Bumbling Dad: Felix mostly averts this (being an incredibly good cook and housekeeper), but his dorky demeanor usually draws his children's attentions towards Oscar.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Felix, practically every character in the show has picked on him. (Arguably, he may have it coming for how annoying he can get.)
  • Buxom Is Better: Felix's ex-wife Gloria.
  • Calling Out for Not Calling: Felix complains when Oscar comes home late without calling, usually ranting about how hard he worked on the ruined or uneaten dinner.
  • Camp Straight: Felix to an extent. He's not flamboyant or anything, but he's neat, loves cooking and cleaning, is a stickler for manners, wears his heart on his sleeve, loves opera and ballet, cries at weddings, doesn't like sports, and has some Ho Yay moments with Oscar. Yet, he has an ex-wife that he's obsessed with getting back with, is shown dating various women throughout the series, and could even be quite the ladies' man sometimes.
    • Even Felix himself brought this up in an unproduced script for the 1970 series, in which he finds an unfinished article in Oscar's typewriter about homosexuality in sports, which he mistakes for a confessional and remarks, "You'd think if it was either one of us it would be me."
  • The Cat Came Back: Felix-as-Marley falls out the window but when Oscar-as-Scrooge turns around, he's back.
  • Chaos Architecture:
    • The sets were completely changed when they went from a single camera setup to a studio audience, without the characters moving to a different apartment.
    • In a more subtle example, in one episode, the two windows in Felix and Oscar's living room are replaced with one large window.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Roy (one of the poker players) as well as Cecily and Gwendolyn (the Pigeon sisters) disappeared after the first season.
    • Later it was the turn for Miriam and Nancy (Felix and Oscar's respective girlfriends).
    • According to Garry Marshall, the Pigeon Sisters were written out of the show because the network wanted to establish more of a Girl of the Week (and more specifically, "hot American girls") dating situation for Felix and Oscar - which itself was more Executive Meddling to make sure they weren't coming across as a gay couple.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: The series DVDs have quite a few scenes and jokes cut out due to the use of copyrighted music.
  • Coat Full of Contraband: When Oscar is on a senior citizens' cruise for his ulcer, a guy has a trenchcoat full of junk food for sale.
  • Comically Small Bribe:
    • Oscar and Felix are trying to get bumped up the waiting list for a space in a mid-town parking garage. Felix tries to "schmooze" the owner (played in a delightful guest shot by John Byner) by coyly displaying some currency:
      Felix: Will...um...this get us anything?
      Owner: (glances at bill) Yeah — two fives.
    • Once, trying to gain admittance into a Paul Williams concert to bring his wayward daughter back home, hapless Felix offered a quarter to the security guard outside. He scoffed, "What is this? Your allowance?"
  • Compressed Vice: In one episode of the series, Felix's nervous tic is not his sinus honking, but his arms stiffening and locking into position to the point that Oscar has to physically manipulate them back into a relaxed position.
  • Control Freak: Felix, who has very precise ideas about things and frequently nags others into going along with them.
  • Corpsing:
    • Jack Klugman seems to have been particularly prone to this, based not only on the outtakes, but on several episodes in which his slips were concealed or controlled quickly enough that they didn't ruin the scene and were left in (e.g. "Murray the Fink", "Two Men on a Hoarse").
    • Some versions of the opening credits have a scene in which Oscar dries his hands on Felix's shirt (after Felix yells at him not to do it on the curtains), causing Tony Randall to slowly turn to the camera as if testing himself to see if he won't break.
  • Costumer: The episode where Felix tells the story of how his and Oscar's fathers knew each other in The Roaring '20s.
  • The Couch: There was always a living room couch in the series, but in the first season, which was shot single-camera, it's not terribly prominent. When the show went to three-camera the set was redesigned and the couch, placed squarely facing the fourth wall, finally came into its own.
  • Courtroom Episode:
    • The time when Felix wouldn't submit a nude picture of Gloria to Playboy.
    • When Murray busted the weekly poker game.
    • When Felix stole a dog that was being mistreated by its handler.
    • When Felix was accused of scalping a theatre ticket.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Felix in regards to his ex-wife Gloria. He goes into a jealous rage whenever she shows - or he imagines she shows - any interest in another man. He once pointed out his jealousy was one of the reasons Gloria dumped him.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Neil Simon himself makes a brief cameo in "Two on the Aisle". Reportedly Simon hated the first season of the TV series, but not because of its content (he hadn't actually seen it) — it was because his name was listed in the title of the series during the first season (Neil Simon's The Odd Couple), which he objected to on account of him having nothing to do with the series itself. Once he actually watched the first and second seasons, he grew to like the series.
    • Producer Garry Marshall appears in season one's "I Do, I Don't" as a moviegoer who yells at Oscar for talking during the movie, as well as in Myrna's last episode (Myrna being played by his sister Penny).
  • Dartboard of Hate: In the episode "Two on the Aisle", Oscar makes one out of the blowup of Felix's face with the cartoon bubble "Thanks" that he received from a grateful Felix in "You Saved My Life."
  • Dating Service Disaster: Before the internet - before PC's even - there was computer dating, believe it or not. In a third season episode, Oscar signs up with a computer dating service and embellishes his bio. He winds up matched with Felix's ex-wife. In The Stinger, Oscar tries again, and winds up matched with his OWN ex-wife.
  • Demoted to Extra: Two of the poker buddies, Vinnie and "Speed", appeared in less and less episodes in later seasons.
  • Disney Death: In "It's All over Now, Baby Bird", Felix's pet parrot, Albert, turns out to not be dead, but rather, in a coma. He wakes up at his own funeral! Felix is overjoyed.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: For Felix Unger in the TV adaptation. The final episode of the series, "Felix Remarries" (aired March 7, 1975), sees him make one final, desperate attempt to win back Gloria, the wife he loved but who couldn't stand him due to his finicky nature. Felix realizes that, while it is good to be clean and organized, he also needs to relax. Gloria accepts that Felix has changed... and the two are wed (for a second time) in the apartment.
  • The Door Slams You: Oscar slams the door on Felix multiple times when he is hanging in a sling to relax his back.
  • Dork Horse Candidate: Subverted. A late episode has Felix making Oscar run for municipal office.
  • Dress Hits Floor: A variant appears in "What Does a Naked Lady Say to You?"; during Madelyn's only scenes at her acting job, she appears wrapped in a Modesty Towel. When she gets into the bathtub, the camera focuses on her ankles and the towel hitting the floor rather than showing her undressing.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Because the first season of the series was filmed single camera with only a Laugh Track, almost the entire season doesn't really stand out, and seems to resemble any generic, fluffy sitcom of The '60s; it can also be a little jarring at how radically different (and cramped) Felix and Oscar's apartment looks that season as well.
  • Elevator Failure: This happened at the end of the Rogue Juror episode. Unfortunately, the defendant got stuck in the elevator with Felix.
  • End-of-Episode Silliness: Both Randall and Klugman reportedly hated doing the last little tag scene, feeling that its only reason for existence was to make viewers sit through one more commercial following the announcement "The Odd Couple will be back after these messages.".
  • Epic Fail: Guest star Bobby Riggs challenges Oscar to type his name in ten seconds. Oscar does it in three seconds, but writes "Oscar Madisoy". Bobby then gives him another opportunity. Unfortunately Oscar now types his name as "Oscar Madisox".
  • Extreme Omnivore: Oscar, who (as detailed in Actually Pretty Funny) once ate a plastic hot dog.
  • Family Theme Naming: The Pigeon sisters are named Gwendolyn and Cecily, after the heroines of The Importance of Being Earnest.
  • Fat Suit: Oscar wears one in-universe, because he had lost a lot of weight on "Fat-Away Diet Pills" and needed to take pictures for the "Before" portion of the ads.
  • The Finicky One: Felix is the anal retentive poster child due to his obsessiveness with neatness.
  • A Fool for a Client: Felix always wants to represent himself in court and is nearly always incompetent at it. There is one spectacular exception when he questions an assuming accuser:
    Felix: When you ASSUME....you make an ASS out of U and ME!
And even then, Felix doesn't know when to quit until he has angered the judge enough for him to indict both Felix and Oscar with contempt of court.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: In one of the several versions of how Felix and Oscar first met, it was when Oscar's father ran a speakeasy in 1920s Chicago and Felix's father was an optometrist who fitted Oscar's father with glasses.
  • Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics: Hefti's theme music has accompanying lyrics by Sammy Cahn, but they're very rarely used.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: in "Security Arms", Mr. Duke owns a large German Shepherd called Peaches.
  • Forced from Their Home: Part of the backstory is that Felix's wife Gloria, growing tired of his irritating characteristics, "asked [him] to remove himself from his place of residence." "The Murray Who Came to Dinner" has Murray suffering a similar eviction after his wife becomes convinced he's cheating on her with the roller derby queen he's bodyguarding.
  • Gag Nose: Murray's nose is the source of many jokes.
  • The Gambling Addict: Oscar. He's perennially broke due to all the money he loses, so he repeatedly borrows and, on rare occasions, outright steals large sums from Felix.
  • Game Show Appearance: The duo appear on Password in one episode, guest starring host Allen Ludden, and on Let's Make a Deal in another, guest starring host Monty Hall.
  • Get Ahold Of Yourself Man: Murray slaps Felix several times after he freaks out at the prospect of flying.
  • The Ghost: Crazy Rhoda Zimmerman, Oscar's sometimes date, never appears, though she's mentioned.
  • Golden Moment: Many episodes end with Felix and Oscar quickly resolving the argument they had by admitting their faults. It never really lasted, though.
  • Go to Your Room!: One episode has Oscar yelling this at Felix after losing his patience with him. Felix replies that he doesn't have to take this and that he's going to his room.
  • Handbag of Hurt: During the opening credits montage we see an old lady who is being helped across the street by a scout. Felix approaches them and offers to do it instead. He gets quite insistent, so the old lady hits him with her handbag to make him let go.
  • Helping Granny Cross the Street: During the opening credits montage we see an old lady who is being helped across the street by a scout. Felix approaches them and offers to do it instead. He gets quite insistent, so the granny hits him with her handbag to make him let go and the scout slugs him too.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Felix adores dogs, if the fact that he owned one while married, pampered a racing greyhound in "Leave the Greyhounds to Us", and took a dog from an abusive owner says anything.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen:
    • Felix's ex-wife Gloria did not appear on-screen until the second season.
    • Oscar's girlfriend "Crazy Rhoda Zimmerman" was never seen.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: The first season DVD set included a very short gag reel; a different, much longer one was included with every copy of Tony and Me, the book Jack Klugman wrote about his friendship with Tony Randall. Flubbed lines, corpsing, fake make-out sessions (to aggravate certain homophobic network execs) and general tomfoolery abound, not to mention a whole section of Tony Randall going "Shit!" after every flubbed line.
  • Hypochondria: Felix is a self-confessed hypochondriac, though it's more of an Informed Attribute since every time a doctor is called to treat Felix, it's because he really is sick (typically something allergy-related). The trait is downplayed as the series goes on.
  • Hypno Fool: In one episode Oscar starts getting serious with a girl who objects to his sloppiness, so Felix gets Dr. Sidney Freeman to hypnotize him into being neat.
  • Identical Grandson:
    • In one episode, Felix reflects on how he's always been fussy. A flashback shows his grandfather (also played by Tony Randall) telling him "There are two things no one likes—a dirty old man and a clean young boy".
    • Another episode had Felix relate a story a relative told him about how his and Oscar's fathers met during Prohibition. Tony Randall and Jack Klugman played their characters' fathers.
  • Identifying the Body: Felix goes missing and Murray eventually manages to ask Oscar to come down to the morgue to identify a body he thinks is Felix. Oscar is subdued with grief until he sees the body, whereupon he's shocked that they could actually think the guy was Felix. (The police had "identified" the body by the wallet.)
  • Ignore the Disability: When Felix photographs a family of little people, he develops a complex etiquette for his friends for fear they might offend them. However, when the time comes to take the picture he shouts: "Everybody say 'midget'!"
  • I'll Kill You!: Oscar to Felix, several times. In "Felix is Missing", it becomes a plot point when the police finger Oscar as prime suspect thanks to all his "threats." Felix also did this to Oscar after Oscar made a comedy routine out of his habits on TV.
    Felix: The whole world thinks I'm a neurotic madman, and I'm going to kill you for that!
  • Innocently Insensitive: Felix tends to insult people's best efforts, albeit in a way which suggests he appreciates it, but it's not good enough. This makes him difficult to live with.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: A jazzy number composed by Neal Hefti. Rather fittingly, Jack Klugman said in interviews that he loved it but Tony Randall hated it.
  • I Owe You My Life: Oscar saves Felix from falling eleven-or-so stories to his death in "You Saved My Life." Felix spends the rest of the episode thanking Oscar for it, much to Oscar's increasing annoyance.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service:
    • In "You Saved My Life", Felix tries to get Oscar a lower alimony payment. Unfortunately, this involves the IRS going over his books, so Oscar is more horrified than delighted.
    • In "The Ides of April", Felix is summoned to the IRS office and he thinks he's in serious trouble. It turns out that he simply forgot to sign a check, but Felix accidentally lets it slip that Oscar has been filing shady tax returns and so now Oscar is the one getting an audit.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Oscar is cynical, insensitive, hot-tempered, occasionally vindictive and habitually dishonest. The latter is due to irresponsibility rather than malice, however, and under his thoughtless exterior is a loyal, caring, tolerant and very forgiving man.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: One of Oscar's attempts to get Felix to "save" him in return involved a fake grenade.
  • Jury Duty: A flashback episode featured future roommates Oscar and Felix meeting as fellow jurors in a parody of 12 Angry Men with Felix in the Fonda role. Interestingly Jack Klugman (Oscar) played one of Fonda's fellow "Angry Men" in the original movie.
  • Kissing the Ground: Felix kisses the floor of the apartment (and his luggage, and other things) after getting off a plane. The flight wasn't rough, but Felix is afraid of flying.
  • Knighting: In "The Princess", Princess Lydia was allowed to give out x number of knighthoods a year, but they didn't mean anything since she was an in-name-only leader of her country. She used her last one of the year to knight a homeless man.
  • Large Ham: Felix was prone to get into this territory.
  • Laugh Track: For the show's first season only. Nobody liked it, up to and including Neil Simon. Randall and Klugman especially despised it and campaigned hard for moving to three-camera comedy with a Studio Audience. It was still used for sweetening for the rest of the series, though.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In an episode in which Oscar teaches the basics of football to Felix, Felix takes the ball, races down the hallway towards the bedrooms, and mere seconds later appears at the apartment door, ringing the buzzer. Impossible if the set were "real" (obviously, Tony Randall merely ran around the back of the set). It's not lampshaded in the dialogue, but the audience reaction of spontaneous applause seems to show that they grasped the absurdity. An odd gag in a show that normally eschewed such shenanigans.
  • Little Known Facts: Felix does this all the time in the series: "The opposite of brown is purple", "Millard Fillmore knew less about opera than any other President - except of course for Rutherford B. Hayes". Most notably causes him problems during Password. "It's a well known fact that Lincoln loved mayonnaise!"
  • Living is More Than Surviving: In "Security Arms", Felix moves into a different apartment after his and Oscar's place is robbed. The apartment complex has been designed for extreme safety, including things like inside locks, two-way mirrors, and tons of rules. Eventually even Felix decides the problems with the new apartment outweigh any safety benefits.
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: Oscar loses Felix to guest star Bobby Riggs as a glorified butler. Oscar offers to try to win his freedom back but Felix wins it back himself by holding a note longer than Riggs.
    Oscar: I'll win you back, buddy!
    Felix: No you won't. You'll lose double or nothing and I'll have to bring in my brother from Buffalo!
  • Love Informant: Felix falls madly in love with Gloria and wants to marry her, but he becomes such a nervous wreck that he loses his voice before he can propose to her, and he practically begs Oscar to propose to her on his behalf, even going so far as writing down very specific instructions on what to do and say. Oscar, wanting to get out of there, basically cuts to the chase and asks Gloria to marry Felix, to which she agrees.
  • Men Can't Keep House: Played straight with Oscar, averted with Felix.
  • Missing the Good Stuff: Felix tries to take a reaction shot of Oscar as he watches a ballgame and snaps the flash during an important moment. Oscar tries to watch the replay - and Felix accidentally sets off the flash in his eyes again.
  • Mistaken for Gay:
    • In "The Subway Story", when the train stops abruptly, Oscar ends up in the lap of the man sitting next to him. Said man turns to him and asks, "What are you, one of the glitter people?"
    • In an episode where Felix has talked Oscar into being in a production of Carmen, Felix tells Oscar to stand confidently with his hand on his hip. Oscar does this in a less than manly way, and Felix chastises him, saying, "Not like that! You look like a...(trails off)"
  • Moment Killer: Felix would sometimes arrive home early "not feeling well" and disrupt the romantic mood, much to Oscar's consternation. At the end of "Felix Gets Sick", Oscar pretends he's ill to return the favor but finds that Felix is too nice about the disruption for revenge to be sweet.
  • Neat Freak: Felix. When he was married, his wife would clean the house and a maid would come in once a week to clean some more, but he still felt compelled to get up in the middle of the night and clean everything all over again. Oscar is the exact opposite (see Trash of the Titans below), which drives Felix up the wall.
  • Never Say "Die": In "Felix is Missing", Murray is reluctant to come out and ask Oscar to come down and identify what he thinks is Felix's body. When pressed for what's going on, he says, "He's in the morgue!"
  • Never Wake Up a Sleepwalker: Murray tells Felix not to awaken the sleepwalking Oscar, because woken sleepwalkers become aggressive. Felix questions how things would get worse when he's already being smacked over the head nightly.
  • No Indoor Voice:
    • One of Felix's trademark traits.
    • Oscar would step into this territory when exasperated... specially by Felix himself.
  • The Nose Knows: When Oscar smuggles deli food into a fat farm, Felix can smell and identify every item.... as well as a can opener.
  • Odd Couple: Oscar and Felix.
  • Old Friend: The premise of the series. The series also offers at least three different stories about how they met: once it says they're childhood friends, later it claims they met when both were on jury duty, and a later episode says they met not long before Felix met Gloria.
  • Once for Yes, Twice for No: Oscar fakes this when Felix tries to hold a séance.
  • One-Sided Arm-Wrestling: In "The Fat Farm", Felix gets Oscar into an arm-wrestling match to prove how much he's let himself go. Felix easily pins him.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Lampshaded in "Murray the Fink", when the poker game is busted by Murray, and everyone wonders who Homer Degan is.
    Speed: What? You think my Mom named me 'Speed'?!
  • OOC Is Serious Business: In "Sleepwalking", Oscar is startled when Felix says he entered his room after having a "dream" that Oscar hit him on the head.
  • Opening Narration: Used in the second and third seasons' openings, as shown above.
  • Paid-for Family: Felix hires people to play Oscar's family when he runs for City Council.
  • Panicky Expectant Father:
    • "The Baby Story" consists of Oscar telling Myrna about the birth of the Ungers' firstborn, Edna. As might be expected, Felix does not take the impending birth calmly. Even before Gloria goes into labor, his behavior drives Oscar and Gloria so crazy that they ask him to go to the movies. Once there, he calls Oscar incessantly to ask about his wife. After going to the hospital, he gradually falls apart, ending up getting himself thrown out for things like commandeering the PA system.
    • "Natural Childbirth" concerns Oscar's heavily pregnant niece, Martha, turning up at the apartment, having run away from home to give birth without sedation. Her husband Phil doesn't appear, as he's in the army and can't get leave. Oscar and Felix pick up the slack. Oscar especially panics before the birth itself, when Martha still plans to give birth in the Bronx, and he calms down enough during the birth to assist Nancy. Felix stays relatively calm for most of the episode but experiences psychosomatic labor pains after the birth actually starts.
  • Parental Love Song: In "The Paul Williams Story", Paul Williams writes a song based on the words Felix wanted to say to his runaway daughter. It brings them back together again.
  • Performance Anxiety: David Steinberg helps Felix get over his stage fright by encouraging him to sing Little Orphan Annie's radio theme song.
  • Precious Puppies: "And Leave the Greyhound to Us?", "The Dog Story" and "The Subway Story" all center around dogs. The latter features a particularly adorable pup named Yawbus ("Subway" spelled backwards).
  • Psmith Psyndrome: Myrna's boyfriend Sheldn, who owes the unique spelling of his name to a clerical error. He can tell when you add in the missing O.
  • The Rashomon: "A Night to Dismember," in which Blanche, Oscar and Felix all share their versions of what happened the night that Oscar and Blanche split up.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Randall was involved with a committee to clean up New York City's tarnished image (while the series was taped in California, Randall kept a residence in NY). This led to the episode "The Subway Story" in which Felix tries to counteract negative NYC stereotypes that Oscar wrote in his column.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Lampshaded and inverted in "I'm Dying of Unger". A hungry Oscar tries to shoot a goose, but finds at the last minute he can't do it. He calls himself a coward, but Felix responds that violence is easy; Oscar is more of a man for not doing it.
  • Repression Never Ends Well: In the episode "Sleepwalker", Oscar's girlfriend, Dr. Nancy Cunningham, talks him into trying to exercise more patience with Felix, in the interest of decreasing his own stress. Oscar suppresses his desire to lash out at his roommate when he annoys him. However, the hostility comes to the fore while he sleeps, leading to him sleepwalking and hitting Felix with a newspaper nightly.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: The DVDs have quite a few scenes and jokes cut out entirely due to the use of copyrighted music.
  • Reunion Show: Randall and Klugman reprised their roles for the 1993 Made-for-TV Movie The Odd Couple: Together Again.
  • Rogue Juror: The season 1 episode "The Jury Story" has Felix as one of these, complete with in-jokes to 12 Angry Men, the trope-making 1957 film which featured Jack Klugman.
  • Running Gag: Felix's sinus honking. In fact, in one episode of the series, Felix loses his voice due to guilt over pestering Oscar after the latter's throat surgery, forcing them to communicate using a chalkboard - Felix actually writes "HONK!" on the chalkboard.
  • Security Cling: Felix clings hysterically to Oscar while being carried to the couch in "You Saved My Life" — understandable, given that moments before, his grip on Oscar (and vice versa) helped keep him from tumbling to the street.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Felix and Oscar, respectively, especially in the series, where Felix's cultural interests and Oscar's love of sports are more fully developed.
  • Series Continuity Error: The show had infamously horrible continuity even for its time.
    • There are three completely different flashback episodes about how Felix and Oscar first met. The theme song in the earlier seasons, and one flashback episode says that they're childhood friends, another flashback episode says they met while on jury duty, and several episodes mention the two of them being army buddies.
    • In "You Saved My Life", Felix comments that he's "never considered the possibility of Felix Unger dying", yet the earlier episode "A Grave for Felix" was about Felix losing a grave plot he'd been trying to buy.
    • One episode establishes that one of them didn't have any wedding photos; in another episode, he is seen looking at his wedding photos.
  • She Who Must Not Be Seen: Crazy Rhoda Zimmerman, Oscar's occasional girlfriend.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sickly Neurotic Geek: Felix and his allergies (at first - as the series went on this aspect of the character became less prominent).
  • Significant Reference Date: Nov 13th, the day Felix moves in with Oscar according to the opening narration, is producer Garry Marshall's birthday.
  • The Slacker: Oscar.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: With Felix in the snob role and Oscar (naturally) as the slob.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Felix can be like this sometimes.
  • Sneaking Snacks: In "The Fat Farm", Felix talks Oscar into joining him at a weight-loss retreat he attends every year. Outside food is not allowed, but Oscar manages to sneak in a number of items from a deli nearby. Unfortunately for him, Felix can identify every one by smell...as well as the can opener Oscar brought.
  • Softer and Slower Cover: Felix writes a bouncy, upbeat song for Jaye P. Morgan, but she performs it in a slow, dramatic style instead.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Oscar is elated when his ex-wife, Blanche, decides to remarry, as it means he'll no longer have to pay alimony. However, when the minister says the line during the ceremony, Felix objects, because he feels Blanche is marrying the wrong man. The next scene shows the angrily brooding Oscar, at home later that day, playing a recording of the wedding on his turntable, and lifting the needle to hear Felix's "I object" over and over. Then Felix comes home from the church.
    Felix: I stayed for the funeral.
    Oscar: What'd you do, stand up in the middle and say "I object, this man is not dead"?
The wedding is rescheduled for the next day, and when the same part of the ceremony is reached, the same objection is raised... this time by Oscar himself, who, in spite of everything, realizes that Felix was right and he can't let this continue.
  • Special Guest: Howard Cosell, Monty Hall, Bobby Riggs, Deacon Jones, Bubba Smith, Edward Vilella, Martina Arroyo, Jaye P. Morgan, Richard Dawson, David Steinberg, Allen Ludden, Betty White, Bob Hope... and Neil Simon!
  • Stage Mom: Felix gets Mr. Hugo to admit that this is why he works his dog so hard in "The Dog Story."
  • Status Quo Game Show: Felix and Oscar appear on Password, where they lose (and Felix has to be forcibly ejected), and Let's Make a Deal, where they win but their winnings are immediately confiscated.
  • Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee: In "That is the Army, Mrs. Madison", Felix purposely leaves a chastised Oscar "sitting alone in his bunk" when he knows Blanche is about to come in. He lampshades it, saying that he had to report the thing that got Oscar in trouble, but if he doesn't see this, he doesn't have to report it.
  • The Stool Pigeon: Felix's father during the Prohibition Chicago flashback episode. Too bad the police chief was on the take.
  • Straight Man: Subverted. Felix and Oscar typically exhibit such extreme tendencies of their respective personalities (Felix being a control freak and Oscar being lazy) that whichever is the straight man depends entirely on who's more rational in a given situation. Otherwise, the viewer or occasional third party character is the Only Sane Man.
  • Straw Loser: Once Oscar took the money for Felix's grave slot to bet on a horse. Said horse started off well, but ended up last, not even getting to finish by the time the race ended.
  • Subways Suck: Virtually any sitcom set in New York will pull this one at least once. "The Subway Story" features Felix and Oscar getting trapped in a broken subway car; wacky antics and heartwarming moments ensue.
  • Swapped Roles: One episode had Felix and Oscar changing roles in an attempt to alleviate their mutual hostility. However, they both exaggerate each other's personality traits (Oscar [as Felix] does housework wearing a tuxedo while Felix [as Oscar] dunks his [cheap] cigar on Oscar/Felix's glass of wine).
  • Trash of the Titans: Oscar, of course.
    Edna: Uncle Oscar, you have a blue stain on your rug.
    Oscar: No, that's the original color.
  • Trigger Phrase: In one episode Oscar was hypnotized to improve his habits. "The fault lies not with the stars but with ourselves" made Oscar neat, and a finger-snap made him back to normal.
  • True Companions: For all the frustrations and irritations Felix causes, Oscar somehow always comes through for him. Many times Oscar has kicked Felix out, and he always (eventually) feels guilty about it, resulting in him bringing Felix back. Likewise, if anyone else starts giving Felix a hard time, Oscar is quick (for the most part) to defend his buddy. Tony Randall and Jack Klugman being such close friends in Real Life certainly helped Felix and Oscar's on-screen chemistry as well.
  • Unplanned Crossdressing: In one episode, Felix has a bandage over his eyes due to recent surgery. When Oscar throws him out, he stumbles to the closet and puts on what he thinks is his coat, but is actually his ex-wife Gloria's.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Oscar and Felix to each other. Especially Oscar.
    Murray: I wish Felix was my best friend...
    Oscar: How do you want him, dead or alive?
  • Washy Watchy: In the first episode of the television show, Gwendolyn and Felix watch a washing machine this way during their double date.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • After the events of "The Subway Story" Felix presents Oscar with a puppy named Yawbus, who never appears again.
    • In one episode, Felix owns a beloved parrot named Albert who never appeared before or after this episode.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: To: how Oscar and Felix met (several different versions!), how Felix and Gloria met, Felix photographing Gloria for a Playboy centerfold, Oscar and Blanche's wedding, the birth of Felix's daughter, the night on which Oscar and Blanche split up, and the vacation on which Felix and Gloria's marriage hit the rocks.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: "Scrooge Gets an Oscar," with Oscar as Scrooge, Felix as Marley and Cratchit, Murray as Tiny Tim and the other poker players in miscellaneous roles.
  • Your Favorite:
    • For Oscar - lasagna and french fries, cookies and ketchup, salami and jelly on rye. The final episode reveals that Oscar is also partial to Goop Melange. We're never really told what it is, only that it contains food Felix hates, and that athletes train on it. Athletes like Man O' War, Citation, Whirlaway...
    • Oscar's favorite breakfast is Jumbled Cluck (Aka Scrambled Eggs for those not versed in Password speak.).
    • In the first Howard Cosell episode, Oscar mentions his favorite dessert is Boston Cream Pie.
    • In one of his attempts to win Gloria back, Felix cooks a romantic dinner, listing all the dishes and labeling them as her favorites. Oscar notes that they are actually Felix's favorite dishes, not Gloria's, to which Felix says she'll learn to love them too.
  • Your Mom: Felix lets loose with "Your mother wears army boots!" when critic John Simon criticizes the theatre reviews Felix ghost wrote for Oscar.
Top