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The girls just looove Jack's... er, foodstuffs.
"Come and knock on our door...
We've been waiting for you...
Where the kisses are hers and hers and his,
Three's company, too."
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Iconic late-'70s Roommate Com/slapstick sex farce/comedy of errors series. Frequently dismissed as the archetypal Jiggle Show, it's also marked by clever writing, strong performances and fantastic physical humor. Based on the Brit Com series Man About the House, it originally aired on ABC from 1977–84.

In order to share an affordable apartment with two lovely young ladies, Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) and Chrissy Snow (Suzanne Somers), cooking student Jack Tripper (John Ritter) must pretend to be gay around Stanley Roper (Norman Fell), the repressed, bigoted landlord. Roper, in turn, frequently finds himself fending off the advances of his good-natured but sexually frustrated wife Helen (Audra Lindley), who knows Jack's secret but likes him and the girls enough to keep mum. Complications are introduced through a variety of misunderstandings and mishaps, often caused by the thinking-impaired apartment mates or their cumbersome friends.

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Everyone in this series suffers from Genre Blindness at one point or another, which is expected considering the show is essentially a comedy of errors. The show launched the careers of Ritter and Somers, and revived that of Don Knotts (who joined the cast as new landlord and wannabe-swinger Ralph Furley after the Ropers left for their own series following the third season).

Codified, if not actually created, an entire set of plot tropes based on silly misunderstandings and leaping to conclusions. Lucille Ball was a huge fan of the show thanks to its pitch-perfect use of sitcom tropes and physical comedy, and even appeared to host a Clip Show.

In later years, it's almost more famous for the behind-the-scenes issues with Suzanne Somers' contract dispute— she demanded top billing for being Ms. Fanservice despite John Ritter having always been the main character, and after Somers made shooting next to impossible, producers retaliated by showing her in no uncertain terms just how unwelcome she was. The series endured many cast changes, nasty backstage disputes and overall changing tastes in television to become one of the most fondly-remembered (and frequently emulated) shows of the era.

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"Come and knock on our tropes..."

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     A to C 
  • A-Cup Angst: Janet— one episode revolved around her deciding to get breast implants.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Jack mistakenly serenades an overweight woman named Bernice who falls in love with him, and attempts to get rid of her so he can continue his date with his girlfriend Arabella. But when Arabella shows her true colors and insults Bernice, Jack stands up for her and kicks Arabella out, proceeding on his date with Bernice.
  • Absentee Actor: Chrissy was largely missing from the fifth season, due to contract fights with Suzanne Somers. They squeezed around it by having her appear in the last two minutes of every episode on the telephone so that her roommates could recap the day's events. Somers was made to film these scenes several hours removed from the rest of the cast in a completely empty studio with a crew that was visibly angry at having to work late. When the season was over, Somers' contract was quietly let go and Chrissy was Put on a Bus forever.
    • Also, Janet doesn't appear in the Season 3 episode "Stanley's Hotline," leaving Jack as the only character to appear in every episode.
  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: After Mr. Furley is threatened by a mobster, he hides out in the trio's apartment and barricades the door using a single couch cushion.
  • Accidental Bargaining Skills: When Jack falls down the stairs of the apartment and breaks his leg, Mr. Roper tries to pay him a settlement to avoid being sued. Jack tries to explain that he has no intention of suing him in the first place, but upon his objections Mr. Roper gradually raises the Comically Small Offer from $50 to $200.
  • Accidental Dance Craze: When Mr. Furley tries to teach Cindy to dance, he hurts his back when demonstrating a move. Cindy imitates the move precisely, including his cry of agony.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: The Furley Fun Festival, Mr. Furley's set of Parlor Games that they play at Cindy's moving away party.
  • Adjective Animal Alehouse: The Regal Beagle, a local pub where many of the characters' shenanigans take place.
  • Afraid of Doctors: Mr. Furley refuses to go see a doctor about his aching back because he doesn't trust them. When he finally decides to see one, the doctor turns out to be Jack in disguise, trying to impress his grandfather who he lied to about being a doctor.
    Mr. Furley: I don't trust doctors. They stick in their needles and take out your money. They're all crooks, why do you think they wear masks?
  • After Show: Three's a Crowd, not to be confused with the inexplicable and deplorable Chuck Barris Game Show of the same name.
  • The Alleged Car: The rust covered Ropermobile. Mr. Roper sells it to Jack and the girls at one point, but when a car collector offers top dollar for it, he tries to get the car back. We get to see it in action in the pilot episode of The Ropers.
  • Ambulance Chaser: After Jack falls down the stairs and breaks his leg, Mr. Roper is convinced Jack hired one of these to sue him for his injuries. Jack doesn't intend to sue him and the man is simply Janet's friend, but Mr. Roper refuses to listen to them explain and demands Jack to accept a settlement.
  • Angry Chef: Mr. Angelino, Jack's Mean Boss. Also, Felipe, who is jealous of Jack's position as a head chef.
  • Angry Guard Dog: When Mr. Furley replaces The Couch which Jack hid $1000 in, Jack and Janet track the old sofa to an Honest John's furniture shop. But the owner's aggressive dog prevents them from accessing the couch until they pay for it, and he lets the dog pick the price to sell the couch at.
  • Annoying Laugh: Chrissy's snort. When she complains about Janet slurping her coffee, Janet retaliates by making fun of her laugh.
    Janet: Well, at least I know how to laugh. Ahahahahaha! What do you do? SNORT! SNORT! SNORT! SNORT! SNORT!
  • Ascended Extra: Larry started out as a guest star, but got more appearances over time and a promotion.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Mr. Roper, after the situation in an episode is resolved.
    Mr. Roper: Like the good book says, "All's Well That Ends Well".
    Jack: That was Shakespeare.
    Mr. Roper: Well, it was still a good book.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: When Jack attempts to explain Oven Logic to Janet during a televised talk show cooking demonstration. The cue card that he hid in the bottom of a pot was accidentally thrown out, causing him to read the stamp on the bottom of the pot instead.
    Janet: Wouldn't the fish be cooked much faster if you cooked it at a higher heat?
    Jack: Yes, Janet, it would. But by cooking at a lower temperature, your fish will be — Made in Taiwan.
  • Ate the Spoon: In the pilot episode, Janet talks about the awful punch that Chrissy made at the party the night before, which got her insanely drunk... and turned the ladle green.
  • Awkward Kiss: When Jack and Janet unwittingly end up on a blind date with each other, they attempt a kiss to see if they might actually work out as a couple. Their attempt results in them accidentally bumping their noses into each other and complaining about how much it hurt. After that, they have an extremely short peck on the lips before sitting in stony silence.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Helen and Mr. Roper.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: When Helen is distraught that Mr. Roper forgot their anniversary and wants to spend some time away from him, the trio lets her stay in Mr. Furley's empty apartment as he is away on a trip. When Mr. Furley comes back early and climbs into his bed without realizing Helen is there, she takes advantage of the situation to convince her husband that she is having an affair with Mr. Furley to make him jealous. While Mr. Roper is not typically very affectionate, he ultimately gets upset and, with Jack's encouragement, tries to fight Mr. Furley to reclaim Helen.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: A common Running Gag. When Jack goes to the hospital for a minor cut he received while cooking, Felipe tells him that his relative sustained a similar injury and the cut got infected. Felipe tells Jack You Do NOT Want to Know the ending, but tries to reassure him that it turned out fine.
    Felipe: But it all turned out fine in the end.
    Jack: What happened in the end?
    Felipe: The whole town turned up for the funeral!
    • Mr. Furley claims to have written many Strongly Worded Letters to his brother Bart, complaining about not being provided with enough funds to maintain the building. When the tenants are surprised that Mr. Furley would stand up to his brother, Mr. Furley adds that he might start mailing them at some point.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison: In a scene where Larry tries to arrange a date for Jack.
    Larry: I just wanted to know if you wanted to spend an evening with a beautiful, young lady.
    Jack: No thanks, pal. I'd rather spend an evening with Janet.
    • When Mr. Furley helps out in the kitchen at Jack's Bistro.
    Mr. Furley: I thought I'd put the salad in the cooler to keep it fresh, like they do at good restaurants.
  • Banging Pots and Pans: After Mr. Furley tries to evict the trio for making too much noise, this is one of the things Janet does to make as much noise as possible to spite him.
  • Bank Toaster: Inverted. Janet says that she's so terrible at accounting, her bank offered her an alarm clock to move her account elsewhere.
  • Beach Episode: Setting the show in Santa Monica gave the producers the perfect excuse to parade the female leads around in skimpy bathing suits.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: The trio tries to escape with one when trapped in the bedroom by diamond thieves, but they accidentally throw the whole sheet out the window because they didn't tie it properly to their headboard.
  • Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: When Jack is sorting through the mail after Chrissy moves out. "Look at this: We got a bill from the gas company, a bill from the electric company, there's a letter from Chrissy, telephone bill..." They take interest in the letter from Chrissy, hoping it contains a check for her share of the rent. Instead there's only an I.O.U. for Mr. Furley.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Felipe, Jack's jealous assistant chef at Angelino's who smiles to his face and pretends to be a loyal worker but is always trying to get him fired so he could be head chef.
    • Becomes subverted later on, when the two actually do become friends. Helps when Jack gets his own restaurant and is no longer competition.
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: When Jack and Chrissy suspect Mr. Roper has been listening to their conversations through the building's plumbing, they stage an antagonizing conversation in front of the bathroom sink to confirm their suspensions. Helen doesn't really believe her husband would stoop that low, but Mr. Roper takes the bait and bursts through the front door right on cue.
  • Breaking Bad News Gently: Jack lies to his grandfather about being a doctor, but it backfires when his grandfather wants to see him at work at the hospital. When Terri refuses to help him Maintain the Lie, he attempts to guilt her into cooperating by making a Phoney Call to his grandfather. He starts by asking the hotel operator to ask his grandfather to sit down before reading the message and lays it on until Terri finally relents.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Mr. Roper would usually smile or laugh at the camera after making a crack about his wife.
  • Broadcast Live: Jack's In-Universe talk show cooking demonstration, which he screws up.
  • Bunny Ears Chef: Despite his clumsiness in just about every other setting, Jack is a very talented chef.
  • Camp Gay: Routinely, Jack doesn't act any differently to convince the landlords that he is gay, but invokes this trope whenever they tease him about it. He also does so whenever he accidentally gives some indication of his true sexuality, to Maintain the Lie.
  • Camp Straight: Jack. This certainly helps when it comes to playing gay.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: After Jack's date dumps him for his various Blatant Lies about his lifestyle, he decides to never lie again, which gets him into hot water with the girls.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Larry, who fabricates a separate persona for each girl he dates and keeps track of them all in a notebook. Mr. Furley fits this trope also, and Jack does to a lesser degree.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Jack: "Oh lordy, lordy, lordy..."
    • Mr. Furley: "Now hear this!..." and "Open up! It's R.F.!"
  • Censor Suds: Mentioned:
    Mr. Furley: You mean Lana saw me in the bathtub?
    Chrissy: You don't have to be embarrassed. The little bubbles hid everything.
    • Parodied when Jack walks in on Chrissy in the bath and tells her she needs more bubbles when she kicks him out.
  • Chained Heat: Jack and Chrissy accidentally handcuff themselves together, and Jack has a date to keep.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Jack Tripper
  • Christmas Episode: Season 2's "Three's Christmas".
  • Clip Show: "The Best of Three's Company", hosted by Lucille Ball.
  • Clueless Deputy: Chrissy's distant cousin, Jay Garfield, who gets in trouble with his superiors for misplacing his patrol car.
    Jay: I had to get out and chase a suspect and I forgot where I parked the car.
    Jack: Somehow, knowing he's out there protecting me, I don't feel as safe anymore.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: When Jack bets Janet he can maintain his Vow of Celibacy longer than Chrissy can fast, he doesn't realize one of his (many) old flames had just arrived in town, who Janet and Chrissy happily invite over to meet Jack. Chrissy doesn't have it any easier with her own undertaking — Jack tempts her with scrumptious food and Janet uses food-related metaphors in their conversations.
  • Comically Small Bribe: When Cindy goes missing, Mr. Furley goes to the Regal Beagle to look for her. He pays a blonde girl three dollars to tell him anything she knows, but the girl turns out to be an undercover cop and arrests Furley for solicitation of a prostitute.
    • After Mrs. Roper receives multiple gifts from a secret admirier, he tips the delivery person a quarter to reveal who the sender of the gifts is.
    • When the trio tries to purchase Mr. Roper's old car, he is reluctant to sell it to them as he already promised to sell it to a used car dealer. He immediately relents when the trio offers him $12.16 more than the dealer does.
    • When Jack falls down the stairs of the apartment, Mr. Roper tries to reach a settlement with him in exchange for not suing him, the property owner. Mr. Roper offers $50 for the settlement, which seems measly as Jack suffered a broken leg in the fall.
  • Comical Overreacting: Mr. Furley does this a lot, often bursting into the trio's apartment too flustered to explain why he is upset. In one case, he loses it on Janet because she refuses to pronounce ketchup as "catsup".
  • Commuting on a Bus: Cindy does this in Season 6 before falling victim to Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.
  • Complexity Addiction: When the the Ropers plan a Surprise Party for Jack's birthday, Chrissy's plan to get him to attend involves bringing him to various places around town, where they eventually run into someone who invite him to Ropers' apartment. Janet suggests taking Jack to the Reagle Beagle for a drink and letting Mrs. Roper invite him directly.
    • When Larry and Mr. Furley are attempting to deter the trio from moving out of the apartment, they exploit this trope to convince them that they will have to make various unnecessary bus connections and transfers to get to work or school. Janet points out that there's one bus that will take them there directly.
  • Con Man: Jack's uncle likes to write bad checks. When he writes one to Mr. Roper to pay for the trio's rent, they try to get the check back from him before he cashes it.
  • Convenience Store Gift Shopping: When Mr. Roper gives flowers to Helen.
    Helen: Oh, they're beautiful! You even enclosed a card.
    Stanley: I did?
    Helen: [reads] "To Granny, Rest in Peace"? You stole them from the cemetery!
    • In one episode, Mr. Roper purchases a parakeet for his wife's anniversary, which he actually intends as a companion for his own pet bird.
  • Cooking Duel: When Jack loses one of these at his culinary school, he realizes one of the cheating competitors swapped their dish with his before they were judged and tries to set up an Engineered Public Confession.
  • Corrupt Health Inspector: One of them threatens to shut down Jack's Bistro unless Jack pays them a bribe.
  • Courtroom Antic: Mr. Furley engages in this when Jack takes his former employer to court for wrongful termination, causing him to lose the case.
  • *Crack!* "Oh, My Back!": Happens to Mr. Furley when he tries to teach Cindy a dance move. Cindy imitates the move precisely, including his cry of agony.
  • Cranky Landlord: Mr. Roper. Downplayed with Mr. Furley, who tries much harder to be friendly to the tenants, but still has gets grumpy when the plot requires.
  • Cry Laughing: When Chrissy is admitted to the hospital for a head injury, she entertains the doctor with some jokes. When Janet runs into him in the hallway, she thinks he is crying because Chrissy's injury will be fatal.
  • The Couch
  • Cougar: Lana definitely fits this description.
  • Cucumber Facial: Mr. Roper eats the cucumber slices when Helen puts one on.
    Helen: Be sure to eat them slowly, Stanley. They're your breakfast for today.
  • Cure Your Gays: When Mr. Furley offers to teach Jack to be straight, Jack jumps at the opportunity to stop being Mistaken for Gay without realizing that that Mr. Furley intends to evict him from the apartment after he passes. In the series finale, Mr. Furley thinks his friendship with Jack did the trick when Jack moves in with a woman.

     D to F 
  • Disastrous Demonstration: Jack's poorly rehearsed Show Within a Show cooking demonstration, which causes him to lose his job at Angelino's restaurant. But Mr. Angelino realizes the performance was So Bad, It's Good and attracts more business to the restaurant, he reluctantly presses the Reset Button and hires Jack back.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The original Title Sequence has Jack running his bike off a beachfront sidewalk and tumbling into the sand as a result of this.
  • Divide and Conquer: When the trio intends to move out of the apartment and into a nicer residence, Larry and Mr. Furley attempt to guilt them into staying by manipulating each tenant to believe that the others truly wish to stay, and are only willing to move out for the others' benefit.
  • D.I.Y. Disaster: According to Helen, Stanley once fixed their freezer so that it defrosts every time the toilet is flushed.
    • To a lesser degree, all of Mr. Roper and Mr. Furley's attempts to fix things around the building tend to end up with some sort of defect or malfunction.
    • When Jack attempts to fix the telephone instead of waiting for a technician from the phone company, the phone continues to ring even after he receiver is lifted to answer the call.
  • Do-It-Yourself Plumbing Project: When Mr. Roper attempts to unclog the drain pipe of the sink in his apartment, he takes advantage of the opportunity to eavesdrop on the upstairs tenants through the open drain pipe. When Mrs. Roper forgets that a section of the pipe has been removed, she unplugs the sink and drenches as he is working underneath it. When Mr. Roper finishes replacing the pipe and hits it with a wrench to test its integrity, water sprays out on him.
  • Door Slam of Rage: After Mr. Furley attempts to evict the tenants for making too much noise, the trio tries to make as much noise as possible to spite him before they move out. While Jack and Janet obnoxiously drop the phone and bang pots and pans together, Chrissy tries to slam the swinging kitchen door, which pivots into the kitchen silently.
  • Drink-Based Characterization: Each of the landlords had his own drink obsession. Mr. Roper always wanted cocoa, and Mr. Furley's favorite beverage was root beer.
  • Dripping Disturbance: When Mr. Furley attempts to repair one of these in the kitchen, he interrogates Jack about precise sound of the drip as he believes this will help him determine the cause of the problem.
  • The Door Slams You: A Running Gag is characters constantly getting hit by the kitchen or bedroom doors being thrown open or slammed shut. Exaggerated with Cindy, who never seems to enter a scene without hitting someone with a door.
  • Dude, Where's Our Car?: Chrissy's cousin, a Clueless Deputy, gets in trouble with his department for misplacing his police car.
  • Dumb Blonde: Chrissy and Cindy; Janet when she got her blonde wig.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Most noticable with Chrissy, who during the very first few episodes is not quite The Ditz that she later develops into.
  • Earpiece Conversation: When Larry goes on a date with Terri, he makes Jack feed him lines because he is nervous. Since they don't have an earpiece, Jack sits in the booth behind him and Larry arranges a date for him as cover. Larry eventually gets confused and starts repeating the dialog Jack is saying to his own date.
  • Easy Come, Easy Go: On two occassions, the group was offered the opportunity to move into a nicer residence for the same price and spent the episode packing and saying goodbye to their neighbors. Both times, the nicer house ended up not being available to them in the end.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: When a mouse is spotted in the girls' bedroom, the girls move into Jack's room because they are scared of sleeping in the same room as it. Mr. Roper also claims the building is "overrun with giant mice" to deter his mother-in-law from visiting. When Larry eliminates the mouse, neither Jack nor Mr. Roper want anyone to know as they are taking advantage of the situation for their own benefit.
  • Engineered Public Confession: When Jack loses a Cooking Duel to a cheating contestant, Janet invites the cheater back to the apartment on a date and tries to convince him to boast about the incident where Dean Travers can hear.
    • When a health inspector demands a bribe from Jack to avoid closing his bistro on a technicality, Jack later tries to discuss the terms of the payment with him while wearing a Hidden Wire.
  • Enter Stage Window: This is Jack's method of sneaking into a food critic's office to retrieve an Irrevocable Message.
    • When Mr. Roper wakes up in Jack's bed the morning after a wild party, this is his first hope of escape without being seen.
    Jack: It doesn't open.
    Mr. Roper: Why not?
    Jack: You never fixed it.
  • Escalating Punchline: In the pilot episode, Chrissy doesn't think it was her preparation of the punch that got Janet painfully drunk, and thinks it might have been one of the various types of liquor she added.
    Chrissy: Maybe there was something wrong with the gin. Or the rum. Or the whiskey. Or the tequila. Or the vodka.
  • Executive Meddling: invoked When Jack is invited to a televised cooking demonstration, a producer moves around the items Jack hid cue cards in, turning the show into a Disastrous Demonstration.
  • Exploding Closet: When the group goes on a camping trip to a cabin. Jack opens a door expecting it to be the bedroom and is bombarded by a pile of firewood. Janet opens the closet and the contents fall on her..
  • Expospeak Gag: When Jack overreacts to the injury that happens while cooking at Mr. Angelino's restaraunt.
    Doctor: You've got a laceration of the middle phalanx.
    Jack: Oh, my God! Give it to me straight, Doc. I can take it.
    Doctor: Okay. You've got a li'l boo-boo.
  • Farce: The Trope Codifier for sitcom farce; many ordinarily non-farcical sitcoms will explicitly reference this series when they make forays of their own into the genre.
  • Fake Twin Gambit: Jack pretends to be his own twin, "Austin" the macho cowboy, in order to fool Mr. Furley so he can date his niece.
  • Faking the Dead: Jack pretends to be dead to escape a man who is determined to kill Jack for looking at his girlfriend. Believing it to be a ruse, he goes to see Jack's body and apologizes for terrorizing Jack. Jack gives himself away by habitually replying, "That's OK."
  • Fashion Dissonance: The show's from The '70s, so there's bound to be a bit of this. Especially pronounced are Mrs. Roper's assortment of caftans and Mr. Furley's polyester-intensive "swinger" outfits.
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot: Terri tells a doctor at the hospital that she can't go out for dinner with him because he needs to take care of her "husband" Jack who has a broken ankle, and because their friends who only speak French are in town. When the doctor suggests having dinner altogether at their apartment, Jack needs to wear a cast and Janet and Larry pretend to be a couple. The doctor's wife turns out to speak fluent French and doesn't understand why Janet and Larry won't talk at all, and one of Jack's girlfriends shows up which calls his "marraige" with Terri into question.
  • Faux Yay: Jack pretends to be gay so he can live with two female roommates.
  • Financial Test of Friendship: Mr. Furley's managerial job and residence exist solely because his brother, Bart, owns the building. After his attempts to repair fixtures around the apartment turn into DIY Disasters, Jack calls in a complaint to Bart which results in Mr. Furley being fired from his job and subsequently losing his apartment. The trio feels obligated to let Mr. Furley move in with them as they were responsible for the loss of his home, but after he turns into The Thing That Would Not Leave, they conspire to get him reinstated as the building manager.
  • Flanderization: In the first season, Chrissy was a little naive but not exactly stupid. Second season on, she almost became Too Dumb to Live.
  • Forgotten Anniversary: This is the plot point in the episode Night of the Ropers, where Mrs. Roper tries to make her husband jealous by pretending she is having an affair with Mr. Furley.
    • In another episode, Mr. Roper scrambles to find a gift for Helen after she reminds them about their anniversary.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": In the episode "Dying to Meet You," Jack fakes his own death to escape the threats he receives from the jealous boyfriend of a girl he likes. Although the boyfriend is satisfied early on, Mr. Furley delays his departure with an extended eulogy, which ruins the plan.

     G to I 
  • Genre Blindness: Borders on contractual.
  • George Jetson Job Security: Mr. Angelino and Jack.
    • Mr. Furley, who must remain subservient to his brother Bart, lest he lose his job and, by extension, his home.
  • Girl of the Week: Subverted for Jack, as he never got far with any of them.
  • Girls vs. Boys Plot: When Jack claims that men have more self-control and willpower than women after Chrissy impulsively eats a pie that he prepared for a cooking exam, Janet proposes a contest to test if Jack can resist women for longer than Chrissy can resist food.
  • Grand Finale: The two-part "Friends and Lovers", which has Janet getting married, Terri moving to Hawaii, and Jack moving in with a new girlfriend.
  • Handbag of Hurt: When Mr. Roper believes a prospective tenant is a cross-dresser, she whallops Mr. Roper with her purse for poking her in the chest.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: This series probably marks the point where the word 'gay' passed from Hollywood and Theatrical slang into the popular lexicon. Lampshaded in an episode in the middle of the series:
    Judge: Are you gay?
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Felipe
  • Hidden Wire: Jack attempts to secretly record a corrupt health inspector who wants to shut down his bistro unless he receives a bribe, but the microphone comes loose and falls down Jack's pant leg during the interaction. When he hands the recording over to the authorities, the tape is cued to a previous conversation where Jack asks with Mr. Furley to buy a cooking pot for him, and the detectives think Jack is trying to bust Mr. Furley for trafficking cannabis.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Chrissy's friend Darlene happens to be one, but Janet and Jack don't tell Chrissy to avoid disappointing her since Chrissy looks up to Darlene highly. They convince Chrissy she is an airline stewardess, which becomes a problem when Chrissy tries to go to work with Darlene to see what her job is like.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: A quite infamous one where Jack falling onto a bed while wearing shorts resulted in one of John Ritter's testicles briefly being visible. It was digitally covered up in syndication, to which Ritter had the priceless response that they should alternate both versions, since "Sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don't" (a Shout-Out to the Almond Joy/Mounds jingle of the era).
  • Honest John's Dealership: After Mr. Furley replaces their broken couch, Jack and Janet track the old couch down at one of these.
    • It's implied that Larry works at one of these as a used car salesman.
  • Hospital Hottie: Jack has this experience with Terri when he first meets her as a patient at the hospital, refusing to let her give him a tetanus shot. Throughout her time in the series, Terri continues to mention that the doctors are more aggressive to her than the patients.
  • How Many Fingers?: Jack and Janet administer this test to Chrissy after she falls and hits her head in the bathtub. They are shocked to hear Chrissy reply "five" when Jack is only holding up two fingers, but Chrissy clarifies that two fingers are straight up, and three are folded behind Jack's hand.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: Larry says this when he interrupts the rehearsal of Jack's TV cooking demonstration by jumping up at the start and saying "Heeeeeeeeere's Jacky!"
  • I Ate WHAT?!: One episode had Mr. Roper eat some dog food he mistook for a stew Jack had whipped up. He reported it was much better than his wife's cooking and asked Jack to give her the recipe.
    • In a later episode Jack bakes a sawdust cake for what he thinks is a party for Eleanor, the former roommate (it's actually for him). He tries to get back the fake cake from the guests, but Roper has already eaten some. He asks his wife why she can't bake something that good.
    • In a Season 6 episode, Cindy is mixing something in a bowl when Jack comes along and scoops up a bite of it before she can tell him it's glue.
    • When a competitor sabotages his secret ingredient during a Cooking Duel, Jack improvises using the candy that Janet was carrying before she can tell him they were cough drops. Jack still wins the competition, and the host praises him as a judge who was feeling under the weather felt better after trying his cookies.
  • Idiot Ball: When Mr. Roper realizes he can clearly hear the tenants' conversations through the bathroom drain pipe, he goes upstairs and makes obvious references to what he heard. It's not long before Jack and Chrissy get suspicious and set up a sting to prove his misconduct.
  • I Have to Wash My Hair: A lady who Mr. Furley has a date with uses this excuse to cancel their date. Janet suggests Mr. Furley ask her to go out the next day, to which Mr. Furley replies that she told him that was the day she dries her hair.
  • Improbable Food Budget: Despite living in Perpetual Poverty and frequently having trouble paying the rent, Jack can constantly afford to prepare gourmet meals at home. As a Supreme Chef in training, Jack can justify spending large amounts of his budget on ingredients as he needs the experience and exposure to graduate cooking school and find a culinary career. Since the girls are Lethal Chefs, they have no choice but to allow Jack to blow their budget on food as he is the only one capable of preparing edible meals for them.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: Roper is incredibly freaked out when he and Jack wake up in bed together after a wild night of partying, so Jack confesses to him that he's straight.
    Roper: If you're straight, then I'm the King of Siam!
    Jack: Mr. Roper...
    Roper: And you're the Queen!
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Larry and Mr. Furley, after they find out the main characters have found a nicer residence and will be moving away from them.
  • Informed Ability: Jack was supposedly a boxer in the Navy, but the closest we ever see him come to actually using this skill is when he calls a tough guy's bluff and the situation ends without a fight. It's hard to imagine him being that coordinated, given how clumsy he usually appears.
    • This is explained in a later episode when Jack ends up in a boxing match. Larry wonders why someone who boxed Golden Gloves would be afraid and Jack admits he lost every fight he was in.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: Not that the main characters can really convince anyone that is the case. The show was largely a response to the growing trend in The '70s of nonsexual, opposite-sex roommates, which just a decade before was almost unheard of. Which brought up an amusing Double Standard when Jack finds out that a girl he is seeing is living with two men, and he refuses to believe that it's strictly innocent.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Frequently happens In-Universe, as a result of Out-of-Context Eavesdropping. In one case, Mr. Furley overhears Jack and Chrissy and thinks they are "getting it on" in the shower, but what they are really getting on is a shower curtain.
    Jack: Okay, Chrissy, I'll get in the tub with you then we can get it on.
    Chrissy: Stand next to me, I'll show you what to do.
    Jack: This isn't exactly the first time I've ever done this.
    Chrissy: Maybe so, but girls are better at this than boys.
    Jack: Come on, Chrissy, a little less talk and a little more action.
    Chrissy: Okay, you do your part and I'll do mine. [pause] I don't think it'll reach.
    Jack: Of course not. You've got to unfold it first.
    • When Jack and Chrissy are hiding in the bedroom and eavesdropping on Janet and her date, who are admiring a set of fern plants.
    Date: Those are two beauties! I've never seen such gorgeous exaltatus.
    Chrissy: I've never heard them called that before!
    Date: If you want them to grow, you've got to put them in the window. [...] They feel a little dry. When was the last time you steamed them?"
  • The Inspector Is Coming: With Jack spending much of the series working in (and later owning) a restaurant, there's naturally a fair share of episodes dealing with food critics, inspectors, and prestigious guests.
    • When a critic leaves Jack's Bistro after only taking a few bites of food, Jack writes him a nasty letter as he is under the impression he will unfairly receive a poor review. When the critic later explains he enjoyed the food and left hastily because he had many more restaurants to review that same day, Jack has to devise a plan to get the letter back before the critic opens it.
    • When a health inspector threatens to shut Jack's Bistro on a technicality unless he receives a bribe, Jack attempts to secretly record the corrupt inspector and send the tape to the authorities.
  • Intoxication Ensues: In the episode "Up in the Air", Jack mixes tranquilizers and alcohol and winds up causing a scene at a party which ends with him dancing with a potted plant on his head.
    • When Jack's Fake Twin Gambit nearly fails, Mr. Furley's heavily intoxicated state is the only thing that prevents him from realizing the ruse.
  • Irrevocable Message: When a food critic walks out of Jack's Bistro after only taking a few bites of food, Larry urges Jack to send him a Strongly Worded Letter insulting him. But when Jack finds out it was all a misunderstanding, he concocts a Zany Scheme to retrieve the letter before the critic opens it.
    • When Jack's Con Man uncle writes a bad check to Mr. Roper to pay for their rent, they come up with a plan to get the check back before it is cashed.
  • I Want My Mommy!: Jack frequently screams "Mommy!" when startled or in pain.

     J to L 
  • Jiggle Show: Probably one of the Trope Codifier examples. Chrissy is frequently shown jumping up and down in celebration, for no apparent reason. Jack likes watching her and even comments that she cheers better than anyone he knows.
  • Just One Extra Ticket: When Janet has a pair of tickets to a Frank Sinatra concert that she isn't able to use, Jack and Chrissy spend the episode attempting to please her so that she will give both tickets to one of them. Instead of picking one of them to receive both tickets, Janet ends up giving one to each of them.
  • Karmic Misfire: Mr. Roper threatens to raise the trio's rent unless they volunteer to clean up the building's overgrown garden. They find a plant that Mrs. Roper uses in her submission to a flower arrangement competition, but when Larry mistakenly believes the plant to be cannabis, Mr. Roper destroys the arrangement moments before it is to be judged. Mrs. Roper is utterly distraught, but Mr. Roper gets away with taking advantage of the trio for free landscaping services.
  • The Klutz: Jack and Cindy.
  • Lethal Chef: Janet and Cindy, which is one of the reasons they go to such lengths to let Jack live with them.
  • Let Them Die Happy: When Jack's grandfather is terminally ill, Jack tells him he is a doctor to make him proud. But when his grandfather recovers and expects to tour Jack's office at the hospital, Jack needs Terri's help to Maintain the Lie.
  • Loan Shark: Jack teaches a loan shark's wife to cook after he couldn't pay back his loan.
  • Local Hangout: The Regal Beagle
  • Locked in a Freezer: Jack and Mr. Furley are locked in one in "Baby, It's Cold Inside".
    • Cindy locks Mr. Angelino and Felipe in one briefly.
  • Locked in the Bathroom: Jack's date locks herself in the bathroom while Jack is having a food critic over for dinner. Unable to convince her to come out, Mr. Furley, attempts to unlock the door with his credit card, which she takes when he pushes it through the crack.

     M to O 
  • Maintain the Lie: Mr. Furley pretends to be a Mock Millionaire when his successful childhood rival comes to visit, enlisting Chrissy to pretend to be his wife. His friend unexpectedly decides to stay the night instead of going to his hotel, leaving Chrissy with no chance to leave without giving away the lie.
    • Jack tells his dying grandfather that he is a doctor to make him proud. When his grandfather recovers and pays him a surprise visit, he borrows one of the offices at the hospital Terri works at to avoid disappointing his grandfather.
  • Master of Unlocking: Mr. Furley claims to be one of these when Jack and Chrissy accidentally handcuff themselves together. However, he can't help them because his toolbox is locked shut.
  • Mathematician's Answer: When Jack administers a How Many Fingers? test to Chrissy holding up two fingers, Chrissy says she sees five fingers. Chrissy explains that two fingers are straight up, and three are folded behind Jack's hand.
  • Mean Boss: Frank Angelino, the owner of the restaurant where Jack works. Justified as this type of relationship is typical of restaurant culture, and as The Klutz Jack costs his employer a great deal of expense and inconvenience.
  • Mistaken for Dying: After Chrissy is treated at the hospital for a head injury, the doctor tells Janet that Chrissy can "go" at any time (meaning leave the hospital and go home). But as the doctor is crying from laughter from Chrissy's jokes, Jack and Janet interpret that to mean Chrissy will pass away at any moment.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Invoked by Janet in the pilot episode to manipulate Mr. Roper into letting Jack stay with them. Jack continues to exploit the trope throuought the series to maintain the ruse.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Felipe provokes one when Jack receives a minor cut on his finger by telling a story about his cousin who had a similar injury which got infected. When he reveals that his cousin died from the infection, Jack barges into the examination room while Terri is treating a more serious patient and demands to be seen first.
  • Mock Millionaire: Jack pretends to be one to fit in with an ultra-rich girl he is dating. He doesn't realize the event they attend is a charity fundraiser featuring mock casino games, and believes he will have to pay for the $15,000 of chips that he recieves.
    • Mr. Furley pretends to own the building to date an attractive woman, who turns out to be a developer who intends to bulldoze the building and turn it into condominiums.
      • Mr. Furley pretends to be a real estate tycoon to impress a rich childhood friend.
    • Larry pretends to be one when he is dating a girl, who dumps him when she finds out he isn't really rich.
  • Morton's Fork: Bart's refusal to provide his brother, Mr. Furley, with funds to maintain the building is a recurring trend in the series. When his solution to the tenants' complaints is to fire Mr. Furley, it's made clear that Mr. Furley is left with the dilemma of drawing his brother's ire by failing to please the tenants, or drawing his wrath by asking for more money.
  • Mouse Trap: Jack steps on one that is being used to catch the mouse in the apartment in the Eek, a Mouse!! episode.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Season 3's second episode has Janet and Mrs. Roper attending a protest rally at a nude beach. After the police break it up, the two have to run home without their clothes on.
  • Never Lend to a Friend: Jack and Larry seem to perpetually owe each other money, which is typically brought up as the plot requires.
  • Never Win the Lottery: Jack wins a $10,000 in a baking competition, but a wardrobe malfunction during the presentation of the check causes him to forfeit the prize.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Double subverted. When Mr. Furley falls in love with a woman under the pretense of being a Mock Millionaire, the heros implement a Zany Scheme to break them up before she finds out he doesn't really own the building. After Mr. Furley becomes incredibly depressed by the breakup, the trio regrets interferring with his relationship and Jack convinces her to reconnect with Mr. Furley. But when Larry discovers the woman is a real estate tycoon who intends to purchase the building and evict the residents, they concoct another Zany Scheme to break them up again.
  • No Ending: One episode featured Mr. Furley secretly taking in a cat, which a little girl lost that the roommates have been trying to help find for her. At the end of the episode all that happens is the girl sees Mr Furley holding the cat, and then cue credits.
    • When this episode plays in syndication, The Tag is cut for time. In it, the building inspector appears and sees the three kittens the roommates have collected. Mr. Furley says he is taking them straight to the pound, and the building inspector, aghast, takes the three kittens home with him. The little girl says she'll try raising goldfish instead, and leaves. But we never do find out what happened with the original kitten. It's never spoken of again in the series.
  • Non Voyage Party: When Eleanor returns and the girls ask Jack to bake a cake for her party, Jack sabotages the cake believing it is a party celebrating his departure. The party turns out to be a surprise party to celebrate his graduation from culinary school.
  • No Such Thing as H.R.: Jack finds a job at a sandwich shop and is sexually harassed by his female boss. When he tries to stand up to her and tell her to stop, she fires him. Jack sues her for wrongful termination, but loses the case due to Mr. Furley's Courtroom Antics.
  • Not-So-Final Confession: When Jack is Locked in a Freezer with Mr. Furley and doesn't believe they will be rescued in time, Jack confesses to Mr. Furley that he is straight. They are rescued immediately after, but Mr. Furley assumes that Jack lied because he was delirious from hypothermia.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Often happens when Mr. Furley or Mr. Roper walks in at a bad time.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: This is pretty much how every wacky situation happens. When Mr. Roper is convinced that Chrissy is pregnant, Helen tries to have a heart-to-heart conversation with her about her "little visitor". She doesn't realize Chrissy is simply trying to get rid of a wart.
    • When Janet plans to redecorate their bedrooms, Jack and Chrissy think she's hiring a man to father her baby.
    • Jack plans to remove a tattoo he got while he was drunk. Janet thinks he's getting a vasectomy.
  • Operation: Jealousy: When Mr. Furley comes back early from a business trip and climbs into the bed Helen is temporarily occupying, she takes advantage of the situation to make Mr. Roper jealous.
    • Mrs. Roper sends flowers and gifts to herself in one episode to make her husband think she has a secret admirer.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: As the trio shares a suite and friends and the visitors frequently drop in at any time, this is how most of the misunderstandings in the show happen.
    • When Chrissy overhears a conversation between her father and a potential employer, she thinks that he is having an affair with her and intends to divorce her mom.
    • Mr. Roper overhears Chrissy talking about removing a wart on her finger and believes she is getting an abortion.
  • Oven Logic: When Jack demonstrates a recipe on a Show Within a Show, Chrissy asks if the food wouldn't be cooked faster if he cooked it at a higher heat. Due to a Script Swap, Chrissy and the audience never hear the explanation.

     P to R 
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Jack's attempt to pull a Fake Twin Gambit involves only putting on a cowboy hat and speaking in a southern accent, but it's enough to fool Mr. Furley.
  • Percussive Shutdown: After Mr. Furley's failed attempt to fix the doorbell causes it to constantly ring even when it's not being pushed, Jack rips it off the wall to stop the noise. Terri happens to walk in while he's still holding it.
    Terri: What's going on?
    Jack: Mr. Furley just fixed our doorbell.
    Terri: It's portable now?
  • Perpetual Poverty: This is the trio's situation, as Jack spends the start of the series as a Starving Student trying to pass cooking school. Even after he graduates, he spends much time bouncing from job to job. It becomes less the case in later seasons when Jack becomes a successful chef with steady income.
  • Phoney Call: The phone rings while Jack is pretending to talk to Irene.
    • Jack does this again when he pretends to call his grandfather's hotel to leave him a message informing him that he's not actually a doctor. Janet grabs the phone and discovers he called Larry.
  • Pie in the Face: "The Bake-Off"
  • Playing a Tree: Mr. Furley says he played a rock in a School Play in the 3rd grade.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: When the trio finds a nicer house to move in to, Larry and Mr. Furley realize they will lose their only friends and create a Zany Scheme to guilt them into staying.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: Season 3's "An Anniversary Surprise", which sets up The Ropers by revealing that Stanley has sold the apartment building so he and Helen can move to a new, nicer place across town.
    • An offshoot is the actual pilot to The Ropers itself ("Moving On"), which is often shown as part of Three's Company in syndication complete with the Three's Company opening and closing credits.
    • The end of the final episode sets up the premise for Three's a Crowd.
  • Porky Pig Pronunciation: Stanley tries to type up a bill of sale for his car and realizes the U key is missing from his typewriter.
    Stanley: How am I supposed to spell "automobile" without U?
    Helen: C-A-R.
  • Porn Stash: Mr. Roper has one. He calls it "putting them somewhere convenient".
  • Post-Stress Overeating: Janet does this after she convinces herself that Jack is dating a prostitute.
  • The Pratfall: Jack Tripper was legendary for these. One well-known scene has him falling repeatedly as he tries to climb into a hammock.
  • Preacher's Kid: Chrissy's father is a priest. While he is understanding of her living situation, his prospective employers aren't, resulting in him losing out on a promotion in one episode.
  • The Problem with Pen Island: Janet once misread the word therapist on a business card as "the rapist."
  • Punny Name:
    • Jack Tripper. Also a Meaningful Name, as Jack has a bad habit of tripping and falling over the couch. And tripping while trying to get out of the tub near the beginning of the first episode - while telling Chrissy and Janet his name.
    • The character's name in Man About The House was "Robin Tripp", a pun on Ribbentrop.
    • Chrissy's given name is "Christmas Noelle Snow".
    • Janet Wood worked in a flower shop.
  • Put on a Bus: The Ropers, Chrissy, and Cindy.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Suzanne Somers was holding out for more money so the studio just called her bluff — because they couldn't technically fire her due to the terms of the contract, they instead let it run out by moving her away.
  • Reckless Gun Usage:When Jack buys a revolver, he proceeds to be his usual clumsy self with it (tossing it from hand to hand while claiming it was unloaded), ultimately dropping it and causing a discharge.
  • Recurring Character: Lana Shields, Mr. Angelino, Felipe, Dean Travers, Reverend Snow, bartenders Jim and Mike.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: Jack, Janet, Chrissy, and Larry all appeared on The Ropers. Larry also turns up in a Three's a Crowd episode.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: In one episode, Jack becomes worried for Janet when he sees her seemingly friendly dance instructor coercing a married woman to go to his house, and assumes that he will do the same to Janet. Later it's revealed that the young woman was the instructor's sister who was being convinced to practice her dancing at home. Jack feels bad for painting the guy as a sexual predator, and shows up one night to the dance studio to apologize for the mistake, only for him to see Janet's dance instructor hitting on her [Janet] for real.
  • Right in Front of Me: Jack and Larry both tend to burst into a scene and blurt out their sensitive news without checking who is standing there. In one scene, Larry storms into the apartment and begins describing an encounter he had with his girlfriend without realizing that Chrissy's father, a minister, is standing in front of him.
    • When Jack catches Cindy's boss cheating on his wife with his secretary, he announces it to Janet and Cindy the moment he comes home, where Cindy's boss and his wife are visiting Cindy.
  • Roommate Com: The show revolves around Jack Tripper and his two female roommates, Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow, who is later replaced by her cousin Cindy followed by Terri Allen. Their apartment is owned by married couple Mr. and Mrs. Roper, who later got their own sitcom and were replaced by Ralph Furley. Jack originally had to lie about his sexual orientation to Mr. Roper since Mr. Roper would not allow him to move in with the two women if he were straight.
  • Rudely Hanging Up: Janet does this to Chrissy when she calls in the middle of the night to tell her about a nightmare she had.
    Janet: You want to hear about the dream I had?
    Chrissy: Sure!
    Janet: Great, I'll tell you once I finish having it. [slams phone]
    • Mr. Furley does this to Jack when he asks him to fix the thermostat in the apartment.
    Jack: He said 'it's never cold in California' and hung up.
  • Rule of Three: Jack burns his hand three times while cooking at Angelino's, with Felipe suggesting he use an oven mitt each time.
  • Running Gag: Mr. Furley's tacky and flamboyant outfits that he puts on for special occasions, or no occasion at all.
    • Mr. Roper trying to claim that whichever old or broken item he is asked to fix or replace is a valuable antique.
    • Mr. Roper eating something gross or inedible and saying it's better than Helen's cooking.

     S to U 
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Mr. Roper's wife, Helen, who frequently snarks at him for being cheap, unromantic, or stating the obvious. In the pilot episode, when the girls are trying to convince Mr. Roper to let Jack move in with them:
    Janet: It'll be completely platonic.
    Mr. Roper: I don't care what it is— what's that mean?
    Mrs. Roper: Like you and me, Stanley.
    • When Mr. Roper mistakenly becomes convinced Chrissy is pregnant:
    Mr. Roper: You know, there's got to be some guy out there who's the father.
    Mrs. Roper: Very good, Stanley, you know more than I thought.
  • Script Swap: Executive Meddling on a Show Within a Show that Jack stars in leaves him reading the stamp on the bottom of a cooking pot instead of the Cue Card he had hidden in the pot.
    Jack: By cooking at a lower temperature, your fish will be — [looks down] — Made in Taiwan.
  • The Scrooge: Mr. Roper. It's never revealed how much money he really has, but it's enough to own an apartment building, and to support himself and his wife, Helen, without any apparent source of income besides the rent. Even so, he refuses to hire an expert for any sort of repair around the building and will not shell out for even the smallest indulgences for Helen.
  • Send in the Search Team: After Cindy leaves the apartment late at night, Jack and Janet come to the conclusion that she's been kidnapped. Larry and Mr. Furley go out looking for her, but when they are delayed by various coincidences, Jack and Janet become convinced something sinister is going on.
  • Sexual Euphemism: Mr. Roper tells Jack how fortunate he is not to have a wife who constantly asks him to do "things", but doesn't openly specify that he means sex. Jack suggests it could be something like "putting up a shelf", and he and Mr. Roper continue to use that as a euphemism throughout the episode, to the bewilderment of their partners who don't understand the reference.
  • She's Got Legs: Joyce DeWitt had a gorgeous set of gams and always wore pantyhose on the show, refusing to appear bare-legged even when her character Janet was supposedly naked under a towel. She even appeared in several commercials for L'eggs.
  • Shave and a Haircut: How Larry usually knocks on the door.
  • Shower of Love: Mr. Furley is convinced Jack and Chrissy is doing this when he overhears them installing a new shower curtain.
  • The Show Must Go Wrong: When Jack is invited to cook on live TV, a combination of invoked Executive Meddling and Performance Anxiety turns the show into a Disastrous Demonstration that results in the loss of his job at Angelino's restaraunt. Mr. Angelino rehires Jack after realizing that the So Bad, It's Good debacle actually attracted more business to the restaurant, and Jack uses his celebrity status to negotiate a pay raise and time off benefits.
  • The Shrink: When Jack dates one, she asks him not to mention her occupation as it frequently causes people to think of her as a therapist rather than a friend. Most of the cast ends up finding out, except for Janet, who is convinced she is a prostitute.
  • Shutting Up Now: When Larry starts babbling about Jack's living situation and realizes he's not helping Jack's court case.
    Larry: Your Honor, can you throw me out of this courtroom?
  • Skeleton Key Card: This is Mr. Furley's solution after Jack's date locks herself in the bathroom. But when he slides the card into the door frame, Jack's date takes the card and won't give it back.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: When Chrissy's boss invites her on a trip to Vegas immediately after granting her a promotion, Jack and Janet are convinced this is happening. They fail to realize that Chrissy's employer is female.
  • Sleeping Their Way to the Top: When Chrissy complains that she didn't receive a promotion at work because her performance isn't appreciated, Jack jokingly suggests wearing a low-cut dress. But when the Literal-Minded Chrissy does exactly that and recieves a promotion, Jack and Janet assume her clothes were responsible without realizing Chrissy's boss is female.
  • Sleepwalking: Chrissy starts doing this in one episode.
  • Sneeze of Doom: Jack fakes his death in an episode to escape from a jealous boyfriend who's intent on revenge after spotting him looking at his girlfriend. He needs to resist sneezing while in the casket after one of his "mourners" brings flowers.
  • So Bad, It's Good: In-Universe - Jack's televised Disastrous Demonstration is so bad that it actually turns him into a minor celebrity, resulting in an influx of business to Angelino's restaurant and results in his reinstatement to the position he is fired from.
  • Spin-Off: The Ropers had the title characters moving into a swanky townhouse; Three's a Crowd followed Jack's adventures with his new restaurant and live-in girlfriend. Both were based on spinoffs of the British version. Neither was particularly successful.
  • Spiritual Successor: Modern Family, which also has most of its comedy revolve around wacky misunderstandings, also features gay characters (except they're actually gay), and is just as popular as Three's Company was back in the day.
  • Starving Student: Jack is one of these early in the series, as he attempts to pass cooking school.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: When Mr. Furley asks Janet for help with his dried out fern.
    Mr. Furley: I made sure it had plenty of sunlight and gave it lots of plant food. I even dusted it.
    Janet: How often did you water it?
    Mr. Furley: ...Water?
  • Strongly Worded Letter: In "Out on a Limb," a food critic comes into Jack's Bistro, takes a quick bite, and leaves, causing Jack to worry that the critic hated the food and is going to give him a bad review. Larry suggests that Jack send the critic an angry letter, with Janet typing it. Larry starts the letter with "Dear Sleazebucket," and it goes downhill from there.note  Of course, the critic loved the food and gives Jack a great review, so the gang has to retrieve the letter before the critic can see it. The critic ends up reading the letter, but it turns out Janet toned it down.
    • In another episode Mr. Furley says that he's written many strongly worded letters to his brother complaining about not having enough money to maintain the building. He then says that if his brother doesn't shape up soon he's going to start mailing them.
  • Stuck in the Doorway: Happens to the group a few times when they all try to exit the apartment at the same time to attend to an urgent situation.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Cindy for Chrissy. The only real difference between them was that Cindy was a klutz. Terri is an aversion. Though a blonde, she was quite intelligent.
  • Sustained Misunderstanding: When Mr. Furley asks Jack for coffee grounds to fertilize his roses, he avoids explaining to the girls why he needs the coffee grounds in an effort to defy this trope.
    Mr. Furley: If I told you I need coffee grounds for my roses, you would say 'I've heard of grounds for divorce but never grounds for roses.' And then she would say 'Why are you divorcing your roses?'
  • Supreme Chef: Jack. Much of the earlier seasons revolve around his efforts to pass cooking school and break into the culinary industry. In later seasons, he owns his own bistro. As the other characters are Lethal Chefs, it gives them a reason to keep him around instead of finding a female roommate (or, you know, an actual gay guy).
  • Sweater Girl: Jack was often distracted by sweater girls on this show, resulting in Freudian Slips on several occasions: "You need to separate the yolk from the sweater." "I just came to button up my coffee."
  • That Was Not a Dream: Happens to Mr. Roper when he wakes up in Jack's bed after a night of partying.
    Mr. Roper: Helen, you won't believe the nightmare I'm having.
  • That Was Objectionable: When Jack takes a former employer to court, the counsel for the defendant objects to a question without event. Shortly after, Janet leaps up in the gallery and objects to something the judge says.
  • Thematic Theme Tune / Title Theme Tune: "Down at our rendezvous / Three is company, too!"
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Mr. Furley, when he moves in with the trio after he losing his job as the building manager, leaving him with no where to stay as his residence came with the job.
  • Three-Timer Date: Jack agrees to entertain one of Larry's girlfriends on the same night he promised to cook a special dinner for Chrissy and Janet. One of his own girlfriends also shows up for a date he forgot about, causing him to run between three different dates throughout the night.
  • Throwing Out the Script: Mr. Furley does this to the overly sentimental Please Don't Leave Me speech Larry wrote for him to read at the trio's moving away party.
  • Tied Up on the Phone: Happens sometimes with the phone in the apartment.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: After trying on a blonde wig and seeing the attention she gets, Janet starts to more and more embody the Dumb Blonde. Problem is, unlike Chrissy or Cindy, she gets downright obnoxious and insulting. Fortunately, she has a Heel Realization in the end and cleans up her act.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: of the series and both spinoffs!
  • Two Girls and a Guy: Jack, Janet, and Chrissy, the three main characters.
  • Two-Timer Date: Jack manages to schedule dates with two different girls on the same night he promised Janet and Chrissy he would make dinner for them. With one date upstairs in Larry's apartment and another downstairs in Mr. Roper's apartment, he spends the night running between the three venues.
  • Two Words: I Can't Count: When Jack is trying to tell Lana that she can't come over to his apartment after their date.
    Jack: One word: No way.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Bart Furley is rather short. His daughter is full-sized and very attractive.
    • An early episode had Jack getting involved with Mr. Roper's hot niece.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: When Jack learns a set of self-defense techniques from Terri, he uses them to break up an altercation outside the apartment. The fight turns out to be a plainclothes cop trying to subdue a criminal, who arrests Jack for assaulting a police officer.
  • Unfortunate Item Swap: At the flower shop, Janet accidentally mixes up the orders for a honeymoon and a funeral. This results in the newlywed couple receiving a card that says "Rest in Peace," and the mourners receiving a card that says "Good luck in your new life."
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: There were multiple episodes throughout the series giving off hints that Janet and Jack might have a thing for each other, but nothing ever really came of it, and in the finale Janet gets married to another man while Jack moves in with Vicki.
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: Jack has to deal with one of these when he finds a job cooking at a sandwich shop, who starts helping herself to ingredients, to the owner's chagrin.
    • A few of these pop up at Janet's flower shop, one of whom demands to be served before another customer because she is in a hurry. She then reveals that she doesn't have anywhere to be and simply didn't want to wait. Another demands to get change from Janet when she is busy, and then tells her that she just wanted change for the parking meter and never intended to make a purchase at the shop.

     V and W 
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: After informing Jack and Larry of the possible hiding places for a wad of money she first thought of, Cindy says that she finally decided the safest hiding place was inside her blouse.
    • In an attempt to score some action with Jack, Lana takes some money off of him and puts it into her cleavage, telling him to "make a withdrawal." Jack isn't amused, but Chrissy finds it hilarious, saying, "It's a treasure chest!"
    • When an obese lady in line in front of Jack to use an automated teller machine hides the wad of bills she withdraws in her shirt, Jack quips that it's "safer there than in the bank."
  • Vow of Celibacy: In one episode Jack makes a bet with the girls that he can refrain from having relations with women for a certain amount of time. The girls then try to find ways to make him lose the bet.
  • Watching the Reflection Undress: In one episode Jack and Chrissy are temporarily sharing the bedroom normally used by Chrissy and Janet, but there's a mouse in the room that Janet is afraid of. Chrissy tells Jack to turn away so she can get into bed, so he turns and looks right at a mirror which shows him Chrissy in her skimpy nightie.
  • Wedding Day: The first half of the two-part series finale depicts Janet's wedding to Phillip, a guy she met at the flower shop.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: How Jack wakes up in the bathtub in the pilot episode.
    • When Mr. Roper goes upstairs to break up Jack's noisy party, he ends up joining in the festivities, and wakes up the next morning in bed with Jack.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mrs. Roper has a parakeet in the first season, and the gang gives her a puppy that Larry has manipulated them into taking. No mention is made of the pup after that episode, although it's a fair assumption she still has the parakeet.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: When Jack and Chrissy accidentally attach themselves to each other with handcuffs without the key, they need to find someone who can open the cuffs without thinking they are escaped prisoners.
    Jack: We need someone we can trust. Or fool.
    Janet: Come on Jack, nobody's that dumb.
    Jack: Oh, yes there is.
    [Gilligan Cut to Mr. Furley]
    • When Jack and Larry attend a charity fundraiser, they don't realize that that the casino games are only for fun and the chips are play money. When Janet says that it would not be fun if someone lost a large sum of money at the event, the host says "Who would be stupid enough to think they were playing for real money?" Gilligan Cut to Jack and Larry, who think they are getting rich with winnings at the craps table.
  • Why Waste a Wedding?: After Larry's gold-digger bride runs off when she finds out he's not rich, the group convinces Roper (who paid for the whole thing) to use it as an opportunity to renew his vows with his wife.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Jack convinces Mr. Furley he has a twin brother Austin by donning a cowboy hat and adopting a southern accent.
  • Worse with Context: When the police recieve a noise complaint about the music the trio is dancing to, the responding officer mentions that he is on probation because he lost "something" once. He subsequently reveals the object he lost was his police car.
    • Moments earlier, he tells the trio that the complainant is also upset because her husband won't climb down from the roof of their house. When Jack doesn't understand how that's relevant, he explains the husband is sitting up there with binoculars to watch Chrissy and Janet dance.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: After Mr. Roper sells The Alleged Car to Jack, a collector reveals that cars from that model year are valuable and offers him a large sum of money for it if he can get it back from Jack. Mr. Roper starts a Zany Scheme to convince Jack to return the car without revealing his intentions, but it turns out they were mistaken about the model year and the car is worthless.

     X to Z 
  • You Are Number 6: When the girls are gossiping with Mrs. Roper about various tenants having affairs with each other, they refer to all the tenants by their unit number.
  • You Do NOT Want To Know: After Jack cuts his finger cooking, Felipe attempts to provoke a Minor Injury Overreaction by telling Jack a story about his cousin who had a similiar injury which got infected. He refuses to tell Jack what happened, but when Jack demands to know, he reveals that his cousin passed away.
  • Your Other Left: When Jack and Janet are matched on a date due to a Dating Service Disaster, they can't avoid hitting their noses together during an Awkward Kiss. They agree to tilt their heads to opposite sides, but can't figure out whether it's Jack's left or Janet's left.
  • You Say Tomato: Mr. Furley's Berserk Button is pressed after Janet doesn't agree that ketchup is pronounced "catsup".
    • When Jack plans to sue his employer for sexual harassment, the trio pronounces it as "hair-us-ment", with stress on the first syllable. Mr. Furley asks if they are sure it shouldn't be pronounced as "har-ass-ment", with stress on the second syllable.
  • Zany Scheme: Used almost Once an Episode by the trio to escape from the latest situation they are in. Usually masterminded by Jack or Larry.
    • When Jack writes a nasty letter to a food critic without realizing the critic enjoyed his food, him and Terri devise a plan to get the letter back before the critic opens it. Jack plans to shimmy along the exterior of the 3rd floor of the building to the window of the critic's office while Terri distracts the receptionist.
    • When the trio plans to move out of the apartment and into a nicer house, Larry and Mr. Furley devise a plan to manipulate them into staying.
    • After Jack lies to his grandfather about being a doctor, he convinces Terri to let him sneak into an office at the hospital to keep up the ruse.

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