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Series / Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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"You can either curl up in a ball and die like we made Cyndee do that time, or you can stand up and say: 'We're different! We are the strong ones! And you can't break us!'"
Kimmy Schmidt

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a television show produced exclusively for Netflix. Created by Tina Fey and starring Ellie Kemper, its first season aired in 2015; a second season was ordered before the first season had even premiered.

After spending the last 15 years trapped in a subterranean Apocalypse Cult, Kimmy Schmidt and her three "sisters" are rescued by a SWAT team and return to the surface. Shocked to find that the world has, in fact, not ended as their cult's leader had told them, they become known across America as "the Mole Women". After an interview in Manhattan, Kimmy decides not to return to Indiana with the other girls. With nothing but a purple backpack, a middle school education, and an unbreakable spirit, she tries to make a life for herself in the Big Apple. Kimmy's larger-than-life roommate Titus (Tituss Burgess), odd landlord Lillian (Carol Kane), and wealthy employer Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) help her out along the way.

The final episodes of the series were released on January 25, 2019. An interactive special, titled Kimmy vs. The Reverend, was released on May 12, 2020 as a sort of finale to the show.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: In the first season, Xan swears to learn the secrets of Kimmy's past and reveal them in order to get her fired. This storyline goes for a few episodes, but nothing much comes of it as Xan is made to go live with her father, she never finds anything out, Kimmy tells Jacqueline about her past on her own, and after the divorce, Kimmy loses her job as the nanny anyway. Then Season Three acknowledges that anyone could find out just by looking up her name on Google and it's revealed Xan found out a long time ago and it's hinted that she felt sorry for Kimmy. Xan admitted that she has been nice to her ever since, although going by her standards, it's hard to notice.
  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Double Subverted. Jacqueline assumes that her husband has cheated on her during a long business trip with a woman named Yuko. However, Yuko turns out to be an anthropomorphic robot that he funded. When they go to couples therapy to resolve their issues, Jacqueline realizes that he had actually cheated on her with their therapist.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Xanthippe surprises Kimmy with a tap on the shoulder and Kimmy exclaims "Ga-LU-la!" Xanthippe is played by Dylan Gelula.
    • In "Kimmy Kidnaps a Gretchen", Kimmy says that one of The Reverend's lies is that he invented the "Give the World a Coke" ad, which the end of Mad Men implies was created by Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, who also plays The Reverend. In season 2, Cyndee needlessly reminds Kimmy who she is by saying they "put a mad man in jail together."
    • Astronauts played by Ian Roberts just can't get a break.
    • Coriolanus says a line of pseudo-French in the Season 3 premiere. James Monroe Iglehart had recently become the regular actor for Lafayette in Hamilton.
    • Titus' fake boyfriend name in "Kimmy is a Feminist!" is D'Fwawn, a character he played on 30 Rock.
    • In Season 4, Jon Bernthal guest stars as an agent for Mr. Frumpus pretending to be a fan of Titus after seeing him on Daredevil. Jon Bernthal played The Punisher on Daredevil before getting his own series.
  • An Aesop:
    • In season 2, Lillian tells Kimmy that on some occasions giving up on some certain things isn't necessarily bad all the time, as it can be healthy for you in the long run and lets you look forward to much better things in life.
    • The last episode of season 2 drops this lesson: some people have parents who aren't always around or did a terrible job in raising them and sure, Calling the Old Man Out may sound appealing, but in the end, no matter what has been said, it ultimately doesn't change the past and the only thing you can do for yourself is to accept what has happened and move on with your life.
      Kimmy: But there's nothing I can say that will un-kidnap me or fix my childhood or give you the life you wanted before you had me.
  • Affably Evil: The songwriter who employs Titus in Season Three tries to screw him out of the proceeds of their collaboration, lies to him about how much it's actually earned him, and seems to subscribe to every bizarre far-right conspiracy theory known to man. He's also consistently cheerful and friendly, and the one song of his that he claims best expresses who he is is not one of his political screeds but an upbeat beach party tune.
  • Alternate Timeline: The episode "Sliding Van Doors" shows a timeline where Kimmy never went into the reverend's van.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played With. Yuko is initially benevolent but learns what anger and revenge are after Titus and Jacqueline try to murder her.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Exploited by Jacqueline, who tries to use this, talcum powder, and knowledge of her husband's foot fetish to expose his affair and humiliate him at a dinner party. Zig Zagged, in that it doesn't work, and it isn't clear until the end of "Kimmy Goes To A Party!" that he's actually having an affair. Presumably, it's also why the infidelity clause in the Voorhees' prenuptial agreement only applies to Jacqueline.
  • All Women Love Shoes: Played with in the first episode. Her first day in New York, Kimmy is taken aback by a Chanel display in a store window. In the next cut, she's happily leaving the store in a pair of colorful light-up sneakers.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Kimmy's stepfather is a slack-jawed moron, which is all the more alarming given that he's a law enforcement officer.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Lillian Kaushtupper, played by the Jewish Carol Kane. In one episode, when asked to stall for time, she starts telling the history of Israel. In another episode, she references her ancestors being driven out of various countries before coming to America, which sounds like they were Jewish, but then she reveals that it was because they had sex with cows. Her name is mangled Yiddish for "cow-fucker." In season 4, she instantly translates a synagogue's name into English.
  • …And That Little Girl Was Me: In "Kimmy Goes to Church!" Titus and Jacqueline both try to pull it off, forgetting that they made it clear from the start of the story.
  • Apocalypse Cult: Rev. Wayne kept the kidnapped women in the bunker by claiming that the world was undergoing an Apocalypse. Three of the four have their doubts, while one is a true believer.
  • Arc Words: "Females are strong as hell!". A part of the opening lyrics, a phrase that Kimmy uses to motivate herself and her friends, and it's been adapted to be used by other characters, including a choral singing "Jesus is strong as hell" and a wild life documentary saying "even in nature, females are strong as hell". It marries well with the feminist tone and the Determinator nature of the protagonist.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In Episode 11 the News Reporter mentions Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne is on trial for kidnapping, lying to Census worker, and leaving Christmas lights up way too long.
  • Artistic License – Music: Granted, it's probably part of the joke, but DJ Fingablast's DJ "mixing" (spinning two vinyl records on a turntable) is such an inaccurate Shallow Parody of how DJing works that it's just cringey.
  • Artistic License – University Admissions: Lampshaded. When the Columbia crew coach abruptly offers Kimmy admission to the school and an athletic scholarship the Dean tries to point out that the Ivy League doesn't offer athletic scholarships, but he gets cut off and bullied into doing it anyway.
  • Art Shift: Kimmy's happy place from "Kimmy Goes to Her Happy Place!" is a Disney-esque cartoon meadow.
  • Ascended Extra: Mikey the closeted construction worker has all of two brief scenes in the first season, then becomes a series regular in the second season. Doubles down the trope, as the same actor appeared in 30 Rock, playing an identical character.
  • As Himself: Robert Osborne at the end of "Kimmy's in a Love Triangle!" Funnily enough, he'd dabbled in acting back in the '60s before realizing it wasn't his calling.
  • Author on Board: The third season episode "Kimmy Steps on a Crack!", which has a number of established characters act unlike themselves and also has a number of bizarre (yes, even for this show!) things happen (including a gender-flipped Mole Women situation entirely Played for Laughs), all to deliver the questionable message that when a woman fails at something (even when she goes about it in the dumbest way possible) it's not her fault but due to men being useless and not taking her seriously. Even the writers seemed to realise that they'd gone a bit too far with this one, since the very next episode is "Kimmy is a feminist!" in which feminism is also shown as not being all that great.
  • Badass Israeli: Jon Bernthal plays an ex-Mossad private eye investigating Titus. He speaks Hebrew when communicating to his handlers. Bernthal is Jewish in real life.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In the Sliding Doors alternate reality, a man in an Iron Man costume watches a limo arrive at a red carpet premier. The man in costume removes his helmet to reveal that he's Steve Buscemi, not Titus, who's the one in the limo.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment:
    • When Lillian (who's in her sixties) thinks her boyfriend is planning to propose, she says "He'll have to ask my parents for their blessing... at the Oak Bridge Cemetery... where they work."
    • When Mikey comes out to his (very traditional Italian-American) family.
    Mr. Pallitano: [severely] Michael, do you know what the Church says about homosexuality?
    Mikey: No, pop.
    Mr. Pallitano: [beat] Actually, neither do I. But the pope seems to be okay with it. And who am I to go against our gay pope?
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Titus' advice to Kimmy is that the key to making it in New York is to act like you belong. This method (and some French-sounding gibberish) gets the two of them a table at a fancy restaurant and, apparently, allowed Titus to briefly play Gordon on Sesame Street.
  • The Beard:
    • Titus has a wife that he left behind to make it big in New York. After he goes viral, she locates him in Durnsville, Indiana.
    • Played with in the season 4 episode "Kimmy Finds a Liar", where Titus is hired to be a reverse beard also called an "eyebrows", which is a gay fake partner to a closeted straight guy.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: After having failed to get a job as a crossing guard due to being still legally married to Reverend Wayne, Kimmy's spontaneously offered a job by an ex-classmate who founded his own company, because she was the only one who was nice and talked to him.
  • Berserk Button: Jacqueline doesn't take any suspected slight against her appearance well.
    Kimmy: You need to listen to your gut.
    Jacqueline: I don't have a gut, you motherf-
    Kimmy: You need to listen to your intuition!
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Lillian's ancestors were driven out of their country after country... for having sex with cows. They are, after all, the Kauschtuppers, which means "cow fuckers" in Yiddish.
  • Betty and Veronica: Dong is Betty and Logan is Veronica.
  • Big Applesauce: Most of the show takes place in Manhattan and exploits it heavily. Kimmy was taken to be on Today on NBC and decided to stay in the city to try and carve out a new life. Titus aspires to sing on Broadway, and most of Jaqueline's material revolves around being a sheltered Park Avenue wife. Lillian has never left the island.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Russ and Jacqueline share one in the second season finale, when he realises that unlike most people he's met, she actually cares about something.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Big time.
    Vera: [after Kimmy rings the doorbell at the Voorhees'] Miss Jaqueline? Aquí una chica que se parece a la de Wendy's Old-Fashioned Hamburgers note .
    (And later)
    Kimmy: [to herself] It's OK, Kimmy. You can do this job. Right, Vera?
    Vera: I don't know, Chica Hamburguesanote , I don't know.
    • Cyndee's last name, Pokorny, is the Russian word for "obedient" or "submissive."
  • Black Comedy: The show occasionally touches upon the horrific implications of four women being trapped underground for 15 years by a manipulative man. But, for the most part, it is an overwhelmingly positive show thanks to Kimmy's enthusiasm and positive nature. For example, the fact that the mole women were sexually molested by the Reverend is mentioned by Kimmy exactly once, then never addressed again.
  • Black Like Me:
    • In "Kimmy is Bad at Math!", Titus begins wearing his werewolf makeup normally after he finds that people treat him better as a werewolf than they do as a black man.
    • Played With for Jacqueline, who is actually a Native American with dyed hair, colored contact lenses, and lighter-toned makeup that make her appear white.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Attempted by the owner of the store Titus rents his Iron Man costume from, who tries to pass off his unlicensed, copyright-violating Iron Man, Hello Kitty, and Cookie Monster costumes as those of "Metal Hero Friend," "Aloha Cat," and "Treat Creature."
    • Buhbreeze, a riff on Febreze. One episode includes several commercials making fun of Febreze commercials featuring blindfolded people in a disgusting room.
    • SpiritCycle, fictional counterpart to SoulCycle.
    • Season Three has the real-life designer brands spoofed, such as "Alexandorp McKing", "DKNI", and "Johnny Choon".
    • "Duane Wayne" drug store plastic bags also appears.
    • Season Four has Kimmy and Titus discover streaming television. Ironically enough, the only service to fall victim to this trope is Netflix itself, as the others mentioned are simply mispronunciations of existing services.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • When Jacqueline mentions that she's charging $1,000 a plate at her charity ball, Kimmy picks up one of the plates and marvels that it's worth $1,000, then lamely affirms, "Oh, I see it! I see it!"
    • Titus treats himself to three Dominos pizzas, but when Kimmy walks in, he throws his hand over the table and blurts, "I don't have any pizza!"
    • After engineering a confrontation between Kimmy and Cyndee on the set of his TV show, Dr. Dave exclaims that he hopes their argument doesn't escalate into something viral, then looks into the camera and adds, "Hashtag MoleFight!"
  • Body Horror: Doctor Grant has gone through so many cosmetic procedures that his face is a tight, misshapen mess that prevents him from speaking properly. People pronounce his name "Franf" because that's what it sounds like he's saying.
  • Book Ends: Season 4's first half starts and ends to the sound of "Little Girl, Big City"
  • Boomerang Bigot: Jacqueline's attempts to pass as Caucasian leads her to say things that demean her Lakota heritage.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: When she needs to flee the home she's just broken into with Andrea, Kimmy blurts out, "Run, Lillian!" which is Lillian's catchphrase.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Lillian and Artie, in their feud early in Season Three. Artie wants to improve the neighbourhood, which is indeed in a sorry state. Lillian points out that if the neighbourhood is improved, rents will go up, and the people who currently live there will be even worse off than now, which is why she's running for office on a platform to sabotage Artie at every turn. Kimmy note  admits that she doesn't know who to side with. She eventually votes for Lillian, but less because she had the better argument but because Kimmy has faith in her as a person.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Jacqueline's parents, Lakotas from South Dakota, have some traditional Native American flourishes in their wardrobe, including leather jackets and bead jewelry. This emphasizes the cultural barrier between her and them.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter:
    • Subverted in Xanthippe's case, as she seems to be mostly pretending to be one. She actually gets good grades and has a secret love of bird watching; also, she fakes using drugs and alcohol to impress her friends.
    • Kymmi plays it straight, but it's hard to blame her considering that her parents treat her like a Replacement Goldfish for Kimmy and have never allowed her to have any kind of childhood out of fear that they would lose her too.
    • Jacqueline was the epitome of this in Flashbacks; it lead her from a loving, respectable home to life as a superficial, grasping socialite.
  • Brick Joke: Lillian's general hatred of women being in places of power, despite being a woman in a place of power (as of Season Three).
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Dong briefly drops his thick Vietnamese accent for a thick native New Yorker's accent to hide his identity from the police.
  • Buffy Speak: Jacqueline is a frequent offender. She refers to a pinata as a "Mexican candy animal" and a car GPS as a "driver talky box."
  • Bunker Woman: The Mole Women are famous for being these for fifteen years.
  • The Bus Came Back: After being Put on a Bus in Season Two, Xanthippe returns to New York City in Season Three, studying at Columbia. After another long absence, she shows up in the final episode of the series.
  • Call-Back:
    • In Season 4, Xanthippe's former lover delivers the same Orphaned Punchline that another of her friends gave in the first season "... and she stepped on the ball!"
    • In Season 4, a newspaper headline includes the expression "makes waffles" out of someone, and a subheader apologizes for the strong language. In a previous season, it's established that "making waffles" out of someone is the strongest expression there is in Durnsville.
    • In Season 4, the Reverend attacks some cops by using the same flailing punches and shouts of "Karate!" he demonstrated in his promotional VHS tape.
    • In an early episode, Titus meets Mikey's grandmother, who is portrayed by a puppet. In Season 5, after hearing that Titus was sexually harassed by a puppet, Mikey admits that he's part marionette. In the final episode of the series, Mickey is told to say hello to his grandmother before she "goes back into the suitcase."
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • Deconstructed. Kimmy finally confronts her mother at the end of Season Two, determined to call her out for her failings as a parent. Her mother accepts her anger and freely admits everything she did wrong. But she points out that she got pregnant at seventeen, had no support and no idea how to raise a daughter, and she did the best she could anyway. Kimmy ultimately realizes that blaming her won't change what happened in the past, and all she can do is accept her mother the way she is.
    • Subverted when Mikey is preparing to come out to his old-fashioned, very Catholic family. Titus gets ready to call them out for rejecting their own son, but they end up accepting him for who he is almost immediately. Titus, of course, is disappointed he didn't get to deliver the speech he'd prepared.
  • Camp Gay: Titus Andromedon is extremely dramatic, effeminate and fashionable, though also a lazy, selfish slob.
  • Casting Couch: Titus is offered a role on Sesame Street if he'll sleep with one of the puppets. His reaction is "I would do anything for love, but I won't do that!"
  • Catchphrase: Lillian's is "Run, Lillian!" Often given a twist when she's using an alias.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • In "Kimmy Goes Roller Skating" Titus refers to Kimmy as Kim Blake Nelson, a riff on Tim Blake Nelson who plays Kimmy's stepfather.
    • Several references are made to Friends. At the end of the second season, Lisa Kudrow plays Kimmy's mom.
    • The trope is played with hard when Joshua Jackson plays a convenience store clerk who insists he is not Joshua Jackson but also happens to really know a lot about Joshua Jackson, and Dawson's Creek (which Kimmy had been referencing throughout the episode) in particular.
    • In season 4, Jacqueline mentioned Nick Kroll and the cast of Girls as rich kids who got into Hollywood, while Sheba mentions Richard Kind. Both Kroll and Kind appeared in the show in season 1, while one of the cast of Girls, Zosia Mamet, appeared in the show in season 2 and also returned in season 4, as one of the hipster duo who rented Titus' apartment.
    • Also in Season 4, Titus bragged about playing a minor role as a doorman on Daredevil to a guy on a lunch date, who's played by Jon Bernthal, whose best known character, The Punisher, was first introduced on Daredevil.
  • Central Theme:
    • People can achieve their dreams when they fight hard enough, and even when they can't they can always get something out of their fight and grow with it.
    • Feminism. Women are strong and deserve respect.
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • Kimmy's unexplained fear of velcro is a one-scene gag in the first season, just one of the many ways living in a bunker for fifteen years has made her odd. Come the second season finale we find out why: she was wearing shoes with velcro fasteners when the Reverend kidnapped her.
    • On a slightly milder note, C.H.E.R.Y./L. for some reason being programmed to be an alcoholic mess is a running gag throughout the last season. Finally, it's revealed that she's actually programmed to adopt whatever personality the nearest human is most comfortable with. She was a mess because Kimmy's most comfortable around wildly dysfunctional people. This is a very serious personal revelation, when she figures it out.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Two big ones in the last episode of Season One: The rat coming into the bunker through the air filter in Kimmy's flashback in the first episode first convinced Kimmy that the apocalypse hadn't really happened, then made her realize that the bunker could be exited the same way. Also, The Reverend's audition tape for The Apprentice was time-stamped the day before the day that he claimed to believe the apocalypse would come, which Kimmy used as proof that he had lied.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Charles, after the events of "Kimmy Kisses A Boy!"
  • Church of Happyology: Cosmetology, from "Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!". Unsurprisingly, Gretchen has been suckered in, kicking off the titular plot thread of the episode. In a season five alternate reality episode, Titus is suckered into Cosmetology, where Gretchen is already a member. She rises to become its equivalent of David Miscavige, even referencing her husband "Shelly" who is definitely alive.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Dong is desperate not to be deported by immigration, so he ends up marrying one of his GED classmates.
  • Cliffhanger: Both Seasons One and Two end with those.
    • Season One ends with Titus' ex-wife coming back and Jaqueline setting off to meet her parents, while Kimmy learns that Dong married Sonja.
    • Season Two ends with an even bigger one with one to every major character: Jacqueline starts a relationship with Russ and they start a plan to destroy the Washington Redskins, Lillian thinks about running for mayor to stop gentrification in her neighbourhood, Titus sets off to Miami to act on a cruise for 4 months, hoping Mike will wait for him to come back and Kimmy learns she was married to The Reverend, who wants a divorce to get married to someone else.
  • Clone Degeneration: Eli Manning has died and been cloned several times, with the clones being noticeably less intelligent than the original.
  • Cloning Blues: Played for Laughs. After the divorce, Jacqueline's ex-husband apparently had her cloned to be a replacement wife. The brief glimpse we get of the clone in Season Four shows her having a breakdown over which memories are really hers.
  • Closet Geek: Xanthippe actually gets good grades and is an avid birdwatcher.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In the first episode, the girls are celebrating Christmas when they are rescued by the SWAT team and emerge from the bunker on a bright, summer day. Instead of commenting on how the apocalypse hadn't occurred, Cyndee notes, "Kimmy, I think we counted wrong. It's not Christmas."
  • Companion Cube: Season 4 reveals that Kimmy has this relationship with the purple backpack she lost in Season 1. When she gets it back, she starts seeing it as a muppet-like creature who talks to her.
  • Confusing Multiple Negatives: In "Kimmy Makes Waffles!", Kimmy tries this on the Reverend. It doesn't work:
    Kimmy: Then why didn't you not un-anti-believe that the apocalypse wasn't not coming?
    Reverend: Because I never did.
    (Kimmy spends a little while thinking this through, then stamps her foot in frustration.)
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Jacqueline's modus operandi.
    • When Kimmy declines an offer of water, Jacqueline throws the unopened bottle in the trash as if it's been used.
    • She insists that Kimmy spend much more money on Buckley's birthday to impress her husband.
  • Courtroom Antics: Rev. Wayne's entire defense is built on silly tricks and theatrics that could hardly fool a child, much less hold up in a court of law. Luckily for him, Durnsville, and by extension the jury, is full of morons, he's up against a pair of prosecution lawyers who somehow know less about the law than him and a judge who cares more about building a birdhouse than presiding over a trial.
  • Creator Cameo: In the later episodes of Season One, series co-creator Tina Fey plays Marcia (a parody version of Marcia Clark), who prosecutes the case against Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne. In Seasons Two and Three, she plays an unrelated character, Andrea the alcoholic psychologist.
  • Cross-Cultural Kerfluffle: Happens when Kimmy meets Dong, which besides the unfortunate meaning in English, is just an inoffensive name in Vietnamese meaning winter. That doesn't stop Kimmy from finding it funny, though. The same happens when she tells her name to Dong, who claims that it also means penis, but in Vietnamese.
  • Crossover: With Orange Is the New Black in Season Three, when Gretchen is sent to Litchfield prison and meets Black Cindy.
  • Cultural Cringe: Jacqueline hides the fact that her parents are Lakota natives and passes as a blond, blue-eyed white woman.
  • Curse Cut Short: Used several times for comedy, as the show was developed for network television and does not feature hard swearing.
  • Dark Secret: Zigzagged by Jacqueline's secret that she's actually a Native American. While most people wouldn't see it as an issue, the tiny WASP aristocracy she longs to join most definitely would.
  • Decided by One Vote: Lillian's election to the city council was literally decided by one vote, because Kimmy was the only registered voter in the district.
  • Determinator: Kimmy has an obscene amount of willpower, and the entire show is dedicated to showcasing that, regardless of what life throws at her, she is unbreakable.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Characters have several relationships throughout the series. By the final interactive episode, Kimmy and Titus are in committed relationships, while Lillian is still single after her most recent partner, Artie, died between seasons 3 and 4.
  • Discriminate and Switch: When Lillian sees a picture of the Voorhees family patriarch, she snorts and says, "The Dutch! I never did form an opinion on them."
  • Disneyesque: Kimmy's happy place in Season Two episode "Kimmy Goes To Her Happy Place!"
  • The Ditz: A main part of the comedy relies on the sheer stupidity many of the characters exhibit: Jacqueline, the prosecutors, the entire town of Durnsville, and especially Randy.
  • Does Not Like Men: Played For Laughs. After her divorce from her husband, Jacqueline destroys a male-voiced car GPS for being a man bossing her around (despite having specifically asked it for directions).
  • Double Standard: Jaqueline and Julian's pre-nup included a fidelity clause only for her. Julian had, per written, the right to "stick it wherever". When he cheats on her, she can't use it in the divorce as a way to get more money.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The series is all about Kimmy seeking to turn around a life partly wasted in captivity. And by the final episode she became a best-selling author praised for her positive messages.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Kimmy notes that the kidnapped girls don't love the media nickname "Mole Women," but she's ignored.
  • Entertainment Below Their Age: Zach, a college student, is a fan of PAW Patrol and claims to quote the show to calm himself down.
  • Epiphany Comeback: Lillian and Jacqueline trying to get to Kimmy during the Reverend's trial. After destroying their GPS, they're stranded in Brooklyn, with Lillian suggesting that they resort to prostitution to support themselves. Jacqueline flashes back to her Lakota childhood, recalling knowledge which helps her navigate to Indiana. Played for Laughs, because the facts she recalls are obvious to anyone with common sense or anyone who reads road signs.
  • Epiphany Therapy: Subverted in the Season Two finale. Kimmy's arc for Season Two is realizing that many of her dysfunctions are due to unresolved hostility towards her mother for neglecting her and failing to protect her from the the Reverend. She finally seeks her mother out and they have a big argument which ends with them recognising each other's positions and reconciling... and then Kimmy accidentally realizes that her mother is also the cause of other hangups that she hadn't even thought to blame her for. She has an Imagine Spot about starting to yell at her mother over it... and then doesn't, but cordially says goodbye. Getting some long-overdue catharsis was probably necessary for her healing process, but it's not going to fix all her trauma in one go.
  • Everytown, America: Durnsville (like Pawnee) and Indiana in general embody this and Down on the Farm. The local school board removes one chapter from the science textbooks each year, homosexuality allegedly doesn't exist there yet (though it's rumored to have cropped up in neighboring Ohio), the authorities and townsfolk alike are provincial, simple-minded, and gullible, and when Kimmy is described as "simple, like she was born near a river," her immediate response is an extremely flattered, "A river?! Thank you!" Bonus points for "the traditional meat and flowers of Indiana courtship."
  • Exact Words: When Kimmy is getting extracurricular activities, she gets "Model U.N." by modeling and taking pictures of herself in front of the U.N. building. She also checks off "Badminton" by trying to make a puppet show with featuring mean mints, and "Ultimate Frisbee" by making a good looking Frisbee (when someone with a nicer Frisbee shows up, she cuts it off and writes "Very Good Frisbee" instead).
  • Failure Gambit: In "Kimmy Goes to School!", Kimmy's GED teacher is intentionally trying to do a terrible job because, since firing a tenured teacher is near-impossible, he would be moved to a position where he would be paid to do nothing.
  • Fish out of Water: Flyover country girl who wants to live in New York? This in spades.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Kimmy has been locked in a bunker for fifteen years, so all her points of reference are from the 90s. In one early episode, Titus has her keep a log of "Things People Don't Say Anymore."
  • A Fool for a Client: The Reverend decides to defend himself. In a subversion, despite his outlandish logic and lack of experience with legal defense, the public laps it all up without fail, most likely due to his charm. It certainly doesn't hurt that the prosecution is ridiculously incompetent and the judge is more interesting in crafting a birdhouse than paying attention.
  • Foul First Drink: Kimmy is in her late '20s, but she has been locked in an underground bunker since junior high and has never tried alcohol. When she does try her first cocktail, she grimaces and chokes out an "alcohol tastes...good."
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The fairy godmother in Kimmy's animated Happy Place is voiced by Lisa Kudrow, who would later appear as Kimmy's mother Lori-Ann.
    • When Kimmy makes a site to sell her book, she can't access it and shows that there are 503 errors happening, which is her misreading Error 503. Error 503 is an internet error for Demand Overload, which hints that her site might be a huge success, which is what was happening. invoked
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • If you look closely you can see that Jacqueline's bottled water is labelled "Diet Water."
    • In at least one scene, Kimmy is eating off-brand cereal called "Körn Czechs," a homophone of "Corn Chex."
  • Freudian Slip: Jacqueline, talking about her therapist: "It's a bit too much penis. Sorry, Freud."
  • Gaslighting: Jacqueline's therapist convinces her that her concerns about Julian cheating on her are irrational. It turns out that Julian is actually cheating on her—with the therapist.
  • Gasshole: As it turns out, Tristafé, from "Kimmy Rides a Bike!"
  • Global Ignorance: Kimmy received a present from Cyndee (she was her secret Santa), an embroidered world map, with all the continents: America (composed of "Canida," US, Mexico, South America), Australia, Africa, London, China and Japan.)
  • Good Parents: Jacqueline's parents are perfectly normal, loving, level-headed people who have, through no fault of their own, an impossible daughter.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: This apparently is an attribute of Durnsville.
    • Mild cussin' words and spelling out other cussin' words are major parts of Kimmy's lexicon. In one episode, she tells Jacqueline, "Get up there and give him heck for fudge's sake, gosh dang it!" When Lillian refers to "sons of bitches," Kimmy assumes she's talking about puppies.
    • The Reverend also does it.
    • It's established that "making waffles" out of someone is the strongest expression there is in Durnsville. One Durnsville newspaper headline uses the expression and then apologizes for the strong language.
  • G-Rated Drug: In "Kimmy Pulls Off a Heist!", Kimmy gets addicted to Pixy Stix. The gas station owner who sells them to her even warns her that they're "child beauty pageant" strength.
  • Hand Puppet: Dr. Goodman, Jacqueline's relationship therapist, makes her talk to a shrill-voiced "shame puppet" during her and her husband's counseling sessions. The puppet usually admonishes Jacqueline for being paranoid, convincing her that she's crazy. When Jacqueline realizes Dr. Goodman is her husband's mistress, she grabs the puppet and starts verbally abusing him with it.
  • Hard Truth Aesop:
    • When Lillian sees Kimmy being hung up on Dong, she tells Kimmy that sometimes in life you have got to know when to just give up on certain things.
    • Kimmy's decision to not divorce the Reverend to stop Wendy from marrying him costs her a job as a crossing guard, and in "Party Monster: Scratching the Surface", she is then painted up as a faithful wife to the Reverend by Men's Right Activists that refuse to see the evil deeds the Reverend did, so ultimately the lesson is that staying legally married to someone to prevent anyone else from marrying them will not do you any good favors down the road, and even if it was backed by good intentions, it's just not worth your time and energy.
  • Heist Episode: The episode "Kimmy Pulls off a Heist" involves Titus wanting to use the customer-only corner store bathroom. He and Kimmy concoct a plan to make a copy of the bathroom key. The episode descends into parody when the store owner (who takes his bathroom very seriously) catches on and tries to pressure the "innocent" Kimmy into turning on Titus, while Titus grandiosely declares that they're now in too deep.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: In the first episode, Donna Maria, the only kidnapped victim who is Hispanic and only speaks in Spanish, is questioned by the news about how she managed not to learn English in the 15 years that she spent with the other captives and the Reverend. It turns out that she did learn English within the first two years, and that speaking Spanish was the only way to cope with her captivity. Afterwards, she makes the choice not to testify at the trial in English because it would have ruined the reputation of her ''Tia Donna Maria's Mole Women Sauce''.
  • Hoax Hogan: Cyndee suffers from 'Hulkamania'', a condition that causes her to occasionally act and speak like Hulk Hogan. She was believed to have been cured until becoming enraged at the Reverend's trial and it suddenly manifested.
  • Horrible Housing: The New York basement Lillian rents Kimmy and Titus definitely falls into this — it's in a gang-infested area, very cramped for two people, Kimmy lives in what's basically the closet, the floors are just "painted dirt", the shower is in the kitchen, and they have no door that separates their individual spaces. Titus lives there because he's a Starving Artist, but Kimmy, who was trapped in a bunker for over a decade, doesn't know any better and finds the place charming. The show is a comedy that runs on Kimmy's pluck and perk, so many of the place's failings (such as "a water stain that looks like a face") are Played for Laughs.
  • How's Your British Accent?: Dong briefly drops his thick Vietnamese accent to imitate a native New Yorker, allowing actor Ki Hong Lee to put a New York twist on his natural American accent.
  • Human Ladder: After they get caught in the bunker again in the Season One finale, the victims form one in hopes of getting Cyndee to the top of the air filtration system so she can make a call out. Once Gretchen steps in to help, she's able to get a signal, but she blows the last of her battery checking her horoscope. Fortunately, Randy shows up just in time to find them.
  • I Can Explain: Said by Titus in "Kimmy Goes to School!" when Xanthippe catches him filming his music video:
    Titus: I can explain: You're in The Matrix.
    Lillian: (barging back in) Titus, I should never have left—(notices Xanthippe)—You're in The Matrix.
    Titus: I already used The Matrix!
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode is "Kimmy [does something]!"
  • Incompatible Orientation: Cyndee's boyfriend, Brandon, is gay. Played For Drama when Kimmy discovers that Cyndee is well aware of this and has been using her Mole Woman status to make Brandon date her out of pity. This also works as a subtle Casting Gag, as Ellie Kemper's character Becca in Bridesmaids is married to a childhood sweetheart who is heavily implied to be deep in the closet and wouldn't recommend the arrangement to say the least!
  • Informed Attractiveness: A news reporter comments on how Rev. Wayne "cleans up well."
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!:
    • "Kimmy Googles the Internet!" has Xan revealing there is a video of her suffering a Potty Failure during a spelling bee, and Kimmy actively enters an embarrassing video (namely, a rap with Perry during philosophy class) just to push down the internet search results related to her past in the bunker.
    • Titus' failed interview in "Kimmy Goes to Court!" becomes a Voice Clip Song, and it goes viral in "Kimmy Makes Waffles!"
  • Insult Backfire: Due to her child-like mentality, Kimmy somehow manages to respond to insults that always end up backfiring the the people who insult her.
    Vonda (to Titus): I thought at least you ran away to be with a man. But here you are, [mentions Kimmy, in the room] taking advantage of some other goofy girl dressed like she's on Scooby damn Doo.
    Kimmy: Oh, thank you.
    • Another one:
    Xan: You bitch!
    Kimmy: A female dog? The thing that makes puppies? Nice compliment, Xan.
    • In "Kimmy Can't Help You," Wendy goes off on a furious rant about how the Reverend hates Kimmy and blames her for ruining his life. She means for it to be a "Reason You Suck" Speech, but judging from the look on Kimmy's face, she is absolutely thrilled to hear it.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Vietnamese immigrant Dong is played by Ki Hong Lee, a Korean actor. Ironically (and maybe self-deprecatingly?) the show also contains an In-Universe example, as Dong works as a delivery boy for a Chinese restaurant.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: A sign near the computers in the library:
    No Food or Drink
    Masturbate Responsibly
  • Ironic Echo: In the first episode, Kimmy says, "It's all still here," when she goes outside for the first time and sees that Reverend Wayne lied about the apocalypse. In the first-season finale, Gretchen says it when they end up back in the bunker with the same enthusiasm.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Kimmy and Xan attend Columbia University in Season Three. Kimmy gets accepted there with athletic scholarship, thanks to Xan's roommate, while Xan gets accepted because of her family name. Kimmy later gets kicked out due to her failing grades, but still gets an honorary degree because of her past.
  • Laborious Laces: Played for Drama. Kimmy's mother was highly negligent and didn't even bother teaching her daughter to tie her shoes, resulting in her having trouble even in adulthood. As a teen, Kimmy was unable to get her shoes tied while she was walking one day and was left behind by her group, resulting in the Reverend finding her alone and abducting her.
  • Lampshade Hanging: After Kimmy admits she lied about her identity and reveals she's a mole woman, Jacqueline ponders why she didn't do a background check.
  • Line-of-Sight Alias:
    • Kimmy constructs the name "Keyser Soze" from her surroundings for her stepfather.
    • When speaking to Ronan Farrow, Titus looks at items around his living room to construct the name "Ronan Farrow." In a later episode, Mikey comes up with the same name while glancing around the same room. We're led to assume that he's looking at the same items.
  • Lookalike Lovers: The episode "Kimmy Googles the Internet!" features a married couple, both members of which are played by Rachel Dratch.
  • Love Triangle: Between Logan, Kimmy, and Dong.
  • Magical Native American: Jacqueline's Lakota family sometimes resorts to playing up to this trope in order to stop her from annoying them, such as by suggesting that she go and do a special dance in a distant cornfield. A local teenage Lakota girl then cycles past Jacqueline and asks her what the hell she's doing.
  • Malaproper: Kimmy's education ended around eighth-grade because of her going into the bunker and she subsequently spent 15 years underground with limited company. Consequently she misuses words and often uses terminology that seems downright quaint to those she meets.
    Kimmy: (Having a "Eureka!" Moment) Urethra!
  • Make-Out Point: In the bunker, Cyndee seems to enjoy pretending to go on dates to Make-Out Point and refusing to make out. Kimmy indulges her by playing the disappointed boy.
  • Manchild:
    • Titus exhibits a lot of symptoms, being a selfish, lazy slob.
    • Kimmy's mother is a female example, having dedicated her life to avoiding responsibility and riding roller coasters.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • The cold opens to "Kimmy Goes to the Doctor!" and "Kimmy Goes to a Party!" feature inanimate objects interacting with Kimmy and/or Titus, but cutting to titles before we know whether or not they're actually interacting with them.
    • It's never made clear whether Titus has been making up his past lives or not.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • "Later days, buuuddy." Jacqueline tells her parents that it's how white people say goodbye and says it herself when she leaves home. Later, talking to herself in the mirror, she ends a phrase in Lakota with "buuuddy" as she reveals she didn't sell her Lakota sun necklace, as she claimed she did to her parents.
    • "Troll the respawn, Jeremy." Kimmy uses it as a "goodbye" equivalent after overhearing Charles use it with a gamer friend. They say this to one another after Kimmy decides it would be weird for them to keep spending time together.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Xanthippe shares her name with the wife of Socrates, who was infamously spirited and hard to deal with. Also, in case her personality traits weren't obvious enough, her middle name is Lannister.
    • Apart from sounding ominous, "Voorhees" is a Dutch name tracing its American history back to early settlers of New York, indicating some very old money.
  • Meaningful Rename: Jacqueline's last name changes from "White" to "Voorhees" after she decides to reject her Native-American heritage and marry Julian for money and luxury. She goes back to being "Ms. White" in season Two, following her official divorce.
  • Meat-O-Vision: This happens to Titus with Dionne Warwick during his cruise flashback in "Kimmy Does a Puzzle!".
  • Mercy Kill: Titus delivers one with a shovel to a Furby he finds in a dump.
  • Missing Mom: Kimmy's mother who ran out on her second family of Randy and Kymmi and does not return when Kimmy gets out of the bunker.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: In the first episode, a news headline reads, "WHITE WOMEN FOUND Hispanic woman also found". We later find out that the Reverend got three charges of kidnapping and one charge of "Oopsy no bueno" for it.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: This frequently happens to Kimmy.
  • Mockumentary: "Party Monster: Scratching the Surface" is a parody of True Crime documentaries.
  • Moustache de Plume: Kimmy's pen name is K.C. Smith. People assume the author is a man until she reveals her identity.
  • Murder, Arson, and Jaywalking: In one episode, Titus is hired to sing backup vocals for a musician whose songs turn out to be about unhinged and frequently racist conspiracy theories. Titus is willing to ignore the content and collect his paycheck, until one song offends him so much he wants to quit. It turns out to be a lowbrow beach-pop song called "Boobs in California".
  • Narm: In-Universe. The horror-themed restaurant where Titus works is actually quite upscale and reasonably frightening. Kimmy finds it hilarious.
    Kimmy: It's so funny what people who have never been kidnapped think is scary!
  • The Nicknamer: Titus has an almost never-ending stream of nicknames for Kimmy...
  • Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used To Be: Played with. Lillian remembers very clearly the poverty, danger and crime that used to overwhelm New York, and she still misses it. She takes pride in being an old-school New Yorker and hates the waves of gentrification changing the city's character.
    "Everything I own, I looted in the 1977 blackout. When I needed new shoes, I caused the 2003 blackout."
  • Noodle Incident: Something of an in-universe example, Titus brings up that nobody knows why Kimmy is afraid of Velcro (ripping a piece in front of her causes her to scream and run out of the room). It's finally explained in the second season finale: her Velcro shoe came undone, and her mittens got stuck as she tried to put the flap back down. The other kids on the street walked past as she struggled with it, leaving her alone. This is the moment that the Reverend took her.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Invoked by Jacqueline to make the Washington Redskins change their name. Having seen Native Americans burn Redskins jerseys, she convinces the NFL owners that names that offend larger groups of people would bring in lots of money exactly because those enraged would buy merchandise only to destroy it in protest, leading to all teams changing to things like Gun Takers, Vaccinators, Interracial Marriagers, and Raisins That You Think Are Chocolate Chips.
  • N-Word Privileges: Invoked in "Kimmy Goes to the Doctor!"
    Titus: You don't like it when I say mole women.
    Kimmy: Yeah, 'cuz that's our word. You wouldn't like it if I said—
    Titus: (brandishing Buhbreeze sprayer and singing in high D) Hoooooooooooooooold!
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • In "Kimmy Goes to The Doctor!", Doctor "Grant" (Pronounced Frampf) is a pretty obvious case for Dr. Fredric Brandt. This actually led to some discussion over whether being mocked so harshly was a contributing factor to his suicide.
    • Marcia and Chris, the prosecutors for the Mole Women case, are suggested to be Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden, the prosecutors of OJ Simpson's murder trial. They mention working on a famous trial and make numerous references to incidents at the trial. Chris even has Rev. Wayne try on the bloody glove, then laments, "Someday I'm going to find out who's glove this is!" They're portrayed as lovers and highly incompetent lawyers.
    • DJ Fingablast is dating "Hello Hadid", the third Hadid sister.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The mole women use Gosh Dang It to Heck! constantly, so if one of them uses even minor swear words, that means they're pissed. Examples include:
    • After Kimmy realizes Cyndee is marrying a guy she knows is gay, she yells "What the hell?"
    • When it's revealed the mystery crank powered Rev. Wayne's man cave, Kimmy screams "That SUCKS!"
    • When Gretchen figures out Rev. Wayne lied about believing the Apocalypse was coming, she lets out a "you son of a bitch."
  • Once a Season:
    • Jacqueline and Lilian have one episode working together per season.
    • Once Xanthippe is Put on a Bus for college, she generally returns for an episode or two per season.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: In Season 4, we get a montage of the strange productions that Titus has been appearing in. In a later episode, we see them again in context, revealing that they're part of a documentary series about Kimmy Schmidt and the Mole Women.
  • Only in Florida: Referenced in "Kimmy Rides a Bike!" when Titus searches for the coverage of the Reverend's trial and is flooded with news articles for similar cases in Florida.
  • Orphaned Punchline:
    • One of Xanthippe's friends delivers the punchline "...and she stepped on the ball!" causing everyone to laugh. This is a reference to Trading Places and Auntie Mame. It receives a Call-Back in Season 4, when Xanthippe's former lover says it.
    • Yuko the Japanese robot delivers a punchline at the Voorhees residence during a party, causing everyone to laugh.
    Yuko: And then the man said, "Hello ladies."
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Kimmy and Charles' phone conversation, which made Kimmy believe that he wanted a serious relationship with her, was actually the result of Charles butt-dialing her while gaming with a friend.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: In the terror-themed restaurant where Titus work, he plays Frankenwolf, no less, and there is also a Pirate Mummy.
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: Kimmy admits she loves Cyndee when crying for the first time since going in the bunker.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Kimmy and Titus.
  • Playing the Victim Card: Exaggerated in the case of Cyndee, who gets a job, a boyfriend, and all kinds of perks by doing this. Defied by Kimmy, who wants to make a normal life for herself without being seen as a victim.
  • The Pollyanna: The show's title says it all.
  • Police Are Useless: Kimmy's stepdad was the officer assigned to her case. He never found her and in the course of the series does heroin, loses his biological daughter in New York, gets stuck half-naked in a burning tree (that he lit on fire himself!), and gets the Mole Women locked back inside the bunker.
  • Poor Man's Porn: A blink-and-you'll-miss-it gag in "Kimmy Rides a Bike!": the old man Titus has to sit next to when using the computers in the library is looking at a women's underwear site. It's unclear if he's actually into tame porn or if this is simply the hardest thing the show could get away with showing. The sign nearby reading "Please Masturbate Responsibly" suggests that other patrons are viewing harder stuff.
  • Posthumous Character: Lillian's late husband, Roland, played by Kenan Thompson in flashbacks.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Jackie spends most of season 3 trying to get the Washington Redskins to change to a less racist name. Unfortunately, the owner is an absolutely ruthless Magnificent Bastard who she can neither outmaneuver nor convince with moral pleas. Finally, she figures out a way for him to make more money by changing the name, and he comes around immediately.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Jacqueline uses the Lakota classic "Hoka hey!" before beating the crap out of some white high school kids who call themselves Indians.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • While Kimmy's lexicon is usually limited to Gosh Dang It to Heck!, it's pretty shocking when she decides to go for an actual, fully-pronounced "What the HELL?!" in "Kimmy Kisses a Boy!"
    • An even more shocking example occurs in the last episode of Season One when Gretchen, the most squeaky-clean of all the Mole Women, realizes that the Reverend has been lying to her and exclaims, "You son of a bitch!"
    • Perhaps most shocking is when Kimmy flips out in a deli and screams “You’re on your own, you bitch! I’ll kill you!”
    • In season 4, when Kimmy sees the documentary arguing that the Reverend did nothing wrong: "Fooping SHIT."
  • Pretentious Latin Motto: P.S. 0's is "Scholae Nullo Motto", or "School With No Motto".
  • Preppy Name: The Voorhees children are named Buckley and Xanthippenote .
  • Princess in Rags: Jacqueline since Season Two. Despite being relatively poor, she still keeps up appearances such as purchasing an expensive painting that costs almost entire of her wealth from her divorce, renting an expensive apartment, having her stolen police car painted into a black Mercedes, and buying nice clothes. She also still treats Kimmy like her employee, despite not paying her.
  • Protest By Obstruction: In Season Two, Lillian locks herself to a piece of earthmoving equipment to protest new construction in the neighborhood. Unfortunately for her, the construction site is abandoned, and she stays there for several days without being noticed.
  • Punny Name: The Jewish family that rightfully owns the art that Jacqueline bought is named "Winer," pronounced "Wiener." Everyone in the family has progressively more absurd punny names, such as "Ivana Eata Winer."
  • Put on a Bus: Although a big part of Season One, Xanthippe is shipped out of state to live with her mother's family. She shows up for an episode or two in each subsequent season.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Titus gets one from a guest character in "Kimmy Fights a Fire Monster!". Said guest character lists off Titus' numerous flaws, including his general stupidity, delusions of grandeur and all-around pathetic life.
  • Recurring Extra: Yuko the robot can be seen in the background of many scenes in Seasons Two onward.
  • The Reveal: It's revealed that the Mystery Crank was powering Rev. Wayne's man-cave.
  • Rhyming List: Titus manages to do this with an entire song where every phrase rhymes with the title, "Peeno Noir." Examples include "caviar," "Myanmar," and "mid-size car." The song even becomes Suspiciously Apropos Music during a montage at the end of "Kimmy Goes To School!", as some of the rhymes happen to apply to other characters' subplots - e.g. "you don't have to be popular / find out who your real friends are" plays over a scene with Xanthippe, who was revealed to be a Closet Nerd in the episode.
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • The show is reminiscent of the Ariel Castro kidnappings. Both involve cases of multiple women in the Midwest being kidnapped and held hostage for multiple years for "freaky sex stuff". Also, in the show, the victims were three white women and one Latina woman, while Ariel Castro kidnapped two white women and one Latina woman.
      • It’s possible the degrading nickname “Indiana Mole Women” came from how the three girls were occasionally called the “Ohio Slave Girls” when the case was first discovered.
    • In addition, the opening theme of the show (an autotuned news interview with a black witness to the rescue of the kidnap victims) appears to be based on one of the viral videos of Charles Ramsey's interview following the rescue of Ariel Castro's victims.
    • The cult Kimmy is rescued from may loosely be based of Warren Jeffs' FLDS Church, often referred to as the Polygamy cult. The mole women's hairstyles and outfits seem to be identical to the ones there.
    • Kimmy herself may be very loosely based off of kidnap survivor Jaycee Lee Dugard who was kidnapped on her way to school and held captive for 18 years. Like Dugard, Kimmy was taken during her school years by an abusive, religious fanatic and was held for a similar amount of time without a proper education. Also similar to Dugard, Kimmy has a step-father that she doesn't like, a younger half-sister and an absent biological father.
    • The mise en scène on Broadway of The Spider-Men, so prone to accidents of the cast.
    • "Kimmy is in a Love Square" features Ronan Farrow encouraging Titus to come forward about his harassment by a media exec at an audition. The final season was coming off the heels of the #MeToo movement, which Farrow's exposés help spark.
  • Robot War: Downplayed for laughs. Offhand remarks during Season Three indicate that the Yuko robots have Turned Against Their Masters and that there is one of these going on off-screen.
  • Rule 34: Kimmy starts a mole women-themed camgirl website and finds out that it's one of the few fetishes that no one is interested in.
  • Running Gag:
    • Everywhere Kimmy goes, someone asks her, "Can I get you a water?" This is highlighted in "Kimmy's in a Love Triangle!"
    • In "Kimmy's Bad at Math!", the number of Olsen twins referred to keep multiplying.
    • In "Kimmy's Bad at Math!", anytime Kimmy refers to Dong, the character, other characters assume she is referring to male anatomy.
    • Kimmy's "Eureka!" Moment malapropisms.
    • Kimmy constantly being mistaken for a prostitute.
    • In season 2, Kimmy's belching in the middle of speaking. Apparently her breath is quite repulsive. Becomes a plot point in "Kimmy Meets a Drunk Lady!" when Andrea deduces that the burps are a symptom of the problems Kimmy's been repressing.
    • As of season 2, it seems that Yuko from "Kimmy Goes to a Party!" has entered full production, making small cameos throughout the season.
    • All of New York's wealthy socialite class are apparently obsessed with blimps.
    • Lillian insisting that her building is definitely not a tugboat. Later, other people start commenting on its strangely tugboat-like properties.
    • Every time Cyndee calls Kimmy: "Hi Kimmy, it's Cyndee – we were kidnapped together?" "Hi Kimmy, it's Cyndee – we were trapped by an insane Reverend together?" "Hi Kimmy, it's Cyndee from kidnapping." etc.
    • Kimmy's accidental Black Comedy lines, such as: "Hey Xan, 2090 called! You're dead and you wasted your time on Earth." and "It's okay, Titus. Age doesn't matter. You can die at any time."
    • Jacqueline taking various idioms literally and becoming offended.
    Kimmy: Wow, Mrs. Voorhees! You look like a million bucks!
    Jacqueline, tearing up: Wow. I know you didn't mean that to be hurtful, but...

    Kimmy: Just follow your gut.
    Jacqueline: I don't have a gut, you–
    Kimmy: No! I mean your women's intuition.
    • The flashback scenes of Jacqueline telling her parents she wants to be a white girl.
    Jacqueline: Tubular!
    Mr. and Mrs. White: What?
    Jacqueline, leaving the house, presumably for good: Later days... buddy.
    • Kimmy's general misunderstanding of the way 2014-2017 works.
  • Secret-Keeper: Titus is initially the only person Kimmy reveals her past to because she wants to avoid being labelled as a "victim".
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: "Kimmy Gets a Job!" features people dressed similarly to, but not exactly like, Iron Man, Cookie Monster, and Hello Kitty in a subplot that hangs a lampshade on how TV shows work to avoid having to pay to use other people's intellectual property.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Titus Andromedon's name is a reference to the Shakespeare play Titus Andronicus.
    • Coriolanus Burt's first name is also a Shakespeare reference: Coriolanus.
    • In one episode, one of Xanthippe's preppy friends delivers an Orphaned Punchline: "...and she stepped on the ball!" This is a reference to Trading Places, in which the preppy Bunny delivers this same Orphaned Punchline. This, in turn, was a reference to a scene in Auntie Mame in which Gloria Upson tells a botched anecdote at a cocktail party with this punchline.
    • Reverend Wayne claims to have been "suckin' on a chilli dog outside the Tastee Freez," which are lyrics to John Mellencamp's song "Jack and Diane."
    • Kimmy comes up with the Line-of-Sight Name "Keyser Soze" for her stepfather.
    • As a rebellious teen, Jacqueline whines, "I want my MTV!" Her father admonishes her, "It's not your MTV. The MTV is for everyone."
    • Kimmy's date takes her to "the restaurant from Ghostbusters." Dong recreates the scene where Louis is possessed by the Keymaster. Another episode mentions a Winston Zeddemore High School.
    • Titus' work costume is an off-brand knock-off of Iron Man. His fellow Times Square buskers also have off-brand costumes.
    • Jacqueline's pilates guy got an acting gig on Royal Pains.
    • Xanthippe's middle name is Lannister.
    • Titus interrupts Lillian while she was rear-windowing.
    • In the first episode, a girl at a club asks Kimmy if she is into "molly", referring to the recreational drug MDMA, and Kimmy answers that yes, Molly is her favorite American Girls Collection doll.
    • Kimmy and Dong go to the fountain from Friends. Except, as a cop points out, the actual fountain is on a film lot in Burbank.
    • Titus snaps at Xanthippe, "Not so fast, MTV's Daria!"
    • "The reverend was a psycho liar who claimed he came up with the 'Buy the world a Coke' commercial!"
    • Instead of television in the bunker, Kimmy acts out Titanic.
    • When Lilian doesn't recognize Titus and threatens him with a blade, he shouts, "It's your Titus!" This apes a scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers when Frodo threatens Sam at blade-point, and Sam responds in the same way.
    • A NASA astronaut tries to fake his recollections of space by quoting Bette Midler's "From a Distance." Titus is not fooled.
    • The dean of Kimmy's university in season 3 is named Dean Koontz.
    • Deirdre quotes Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Ulysses": "To rust unburnished not to shine in use"
    • When Jaqueline schedules a mass exodus from Deirdre's charity reception, she slowly raises her arms like the Night King does in the Game of Thrones episode "Hardhome."
    • Kimmy recalls Reverend Gary talking about his ideas for movies, which match the premises of The Village and The Happening.
    • Andrea the drunk psychiatrist tells Kimmy that she's "Dursting," and explains that she's referring to Robert Durst from The Jinx. Lillian also dates Robert Durst, played by Fred Armisen.
    • During a montage of Kimmy losing control of herself, she's portrayed being confronted by Billy Eichner in a Billy on the Street segment and beats him up.
    • Titus buys a kid two tickets to The Human Centipede 5
    • In one episode, Titus receives a temporary promotion to manager of the horror restaurant and becomes increasingly like Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol.
    • Kimmy's mom says she missed out on being in a music video for Whitesnake.
    • One episode in Season 5 is a Whole-Plot Reference to Sliding Doors.
    • In the Sliding Doors alternate reality, Lillian lists Gustavo Fring as one of the people she's killed.
    • Titus gets roles in Cats and The Lion King.
  • Shared Universe:
    • The crackpot Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne in many ways resembles (the unseen) "Reverend Gary" often mentioned by Kenneth in 30 Rock, another Tina Fey production.
    • Mikey is introduced hitting on Kimmy. The same actor did the same thing to Liz Lemon on the "When It Rains It Pours" episode of 30 Rock. Since Mikey is closeted until he starts dating Titus, it could be the same character in both shows.
  • Show Within a Show: Kitty and Bunny. One's a cop, the other's an FBI agent.
  • Simple Country Lawyer: Rev. Richard's schtick when he defends himself. He even calls himself a "simple country preacher."
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis:
    • Titus has one in Coriolanus Burt, who somehow manages to be even more theatrical than Titus.
    • Jacqueline has one in her rich, beautiful frenemy Deidre Robespierre. Their rivalry is the only thing that makes Deidre feel alive.
  • Sneaky Spider: Played for Laughs. Russ and Jacquelyn invoke the Lakota Sioux spider spirit Iktomi and his sneakiness when coming up with their schemes against Russ's family.
  • Splash of Color: The show often uses a dark color palette so that Kimmy, with her bright wardrobe, pops out even more.
  • Straight Gay: Mikey spent most of his life in the closet and has a blue-collar aesthetic, in contrast to his love interest, the Camp Gay Titus. He even warns that Titus will have to accept the fact that he'll make sports analogies.
  • Straw Feminist: Kimmy hangs out with a bunch of them in, appropriately enough, "Kimmy is a Feminist!" A downplayed example, since they are not portrayed as dogmatic or even necessarily mean-spirited - rather, the joke is that they are using high-minded feminist rhetoric to justify doing exactly the same shallow teenage stuff that they were going to do anyway. They also don't seem to grasp that it's possible for people to have non-gender-related problems or disadvantages since they complain about how "privileged" Perry (a working-class black man) is, while Kimmy eventually decides that she's got more in common with him than with them.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Kimmy is surprisingly positive and upbeat for someone who's been through the ordeal she's been through. But she has trauma she doesn't deal with, and all the positive attitude in the world isn't going to stop it from catching up with her sooner or later. By the second season, it does: she starts lashing out violently, develops all kind of weird psychosomatic symptoms, and has at least one fugue episode. She comes to realize that her positive attitude is just her way of avoiding her problems, and she starts to confront them.
    • Kimmy expected to solve a lot of issues in her first visit to a shrink, before their time runs out and she feels like they did nothing. However, as Andrea says, therapy is a process and they just started. However, this is soon thrown out of the window when Night Andrea basically says that it's always the parents fault and Kimmy should blame her problems on her mother.
    • At the end of Season Three, Kimmy's decision to not divorce The Reverend earlier in the season comes back to bite her when she applies for a job as a crossing guard. As the wife of a registered sex offender, the police can't let her be around children or ducks.
    • Season Three has Kimmy admitted to Columbia University on a sports scholarship when the rowing team sees how good she is (due to the practice from turning the crank). Despite being enthusiastic about several of her courses, her barely high school education leaves her unable to maintain a decent grade average, and she's quickly forced out.
    • Kimmy is desperate to keep her past hidden, except from a select few, not wanting to be seen as a victim. Except, as she learns in season three, this is The New '10s. Everyone's online, and most people Google each other to see what comes up. And the "Mole Women" stories are on the first page.
    • Lillian runs for city council to fight against gentrification and wins the election against all odds. She triumphantly goes to the first council meeting to vote down a new development project, and is promptly outvoted by the rest of the council. Then she tries to stage a filibuster, and the council just waits until she falls asleep and holds the vote anyway.
    • In the series finale, after many seasons of running jokes, the city discovers that Kimmy and Titus's apartment is just a sideways tugboat and condemns it to be destroyed. Slightly subverted in that, while the process would actually take months to get underway, the timeline from the city inspector's visit to the actual detonation of the apartment is only about three to five days.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: Done with a number of songs in the second season, and lampshaded in one episode, when Kimmy shows Titus her "Now That Sounds Like Music" cassette.
    Titus (reading the case):"Music inspired by but legally different from the music you love."
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • "I wasn't rapping."
    • Lillian on why high heels poke through the floor: "Not because it's just painted dirt. This is a real apartment."
    • Lillian later states that the apartment is not a tugboat.
    • The walls are definitely not made of old val-packs covered in cake frosting
    • A flashback has Rev. Wayne in the bunker announce that the sounds the Mole Women might have heard were not him arguing with a pizza man.
    • While holding hands, Mikey asks how Titus keeps his hand so smooth. Titus comments that Mikey isn't holding a mannequin hand, then reveals that he's actually holding a sandwich in the hand Mikey thinks he's holding.
    • When Kimmy bursts in on Titus, who is blearily eating Oreos, Titus seems to wake up and announces that he was not sleep-eating Oreos.
    • In an alternate reality where Gretchen has risen to become the leader of Cosmetology, she tells Titus that she needs to go visit her husband Shelly, who is definitely still alive. This is a reference to the ambiguous fate of Scientology leader David Miscavige's wife, Shelly.
  • Take a Third Option: "Kimmy Bites an Onion!" has Kimmy apply to be a crossing guard and tested for various scenarios, the last of which is a trolley problem where one has to decide what to do about an out of control truck and which way to send it, which will either hit a group of children or a single businessman. Kimmy opts to direct the truck into herself instead.
  • Take That!:
    • Helen says, "If this is your idea of a joke, you belong in a Woody Allen movie, because I’m not laughing." This is probably supposed to say more about Helen than Woody Allen, though.
    • Titus spends episode 10 preparing for an audition for Entourage 2. At the end it's revealed the film won't even get made.
    Titus: There is no Entourage 2! There is no Entourage 2!
    Crowd erupts in joy.
    • Lots of jabs at The '90s culture, but Tina Fey's impersonation of Marcia Clark and the OJ trial is particularly sharp.
    In Durnsville, we're just Marcia and Chris, not famously incompetent California prosecutors.
    Hey, he's in jail now. So who has four thumbs and loosened that jelly jar?
    • Someone on the writing staff seems to really hate biscotti. Kimmy compares herself to them since no one knows what to make of her, Jacqueline shatters a tooth on one, and Mikey (who's Italian) tells Titus you're not actually supposed to eat them.
    • A few plotlines focus on tricking hipsters into participating in or enjoying something by playing on their obsessions.
    • In S2, Episode 7, M. Night Shyamalan gets one.
    • Multiple jabs at the Kardashians in season two.
    • Suspected wife-murderer Robert Durst gets lampooned as Lilian's new boyfriend. He's played by Fred Armisen as a creeper who is comically bad at lying.
    • Season 3 takes a few jabs at the Trumps.
    • Season 4's documentary episode takes aim at rape apologists and men's rights activists.
  • Take That, Critics!: Season 2, Episode 3 is one toward the complaints about Jaqueline's Fake Nationality in Season 1.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Lori-Ann Schmidt was 17 years old when she had Kimmy.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: "Kimmy Goes to Church!" has a church choir singing the show's theme song, only removing "dammit" and changing one lyric to "Jesus is strong as hell".
  • Three-Way Sex: Chris whispers to Marcia that maybe if the guy they picked up was more handsome he wouldn't have had such a problem.
  • Transparent Closet:
    • Even people who've only heard his name can guess Brandon is gay.
    • In season 2, Titus meets a construction worker for whom Titus was the first guy he (the construction worker) ever hit on. The guy is still building up the courage to come out to his co-workers, and he talks to Titus about how important it is for him to come across like a macho blue-collar guy: "I even painted a girl on the back of my truck!" He lifts the tailgate to reveal a cheesecake portrait of Tilda Swinton, who, in addition to being a vocal supporter of LGBT rights and a long-term muse of gay UK filmmaker Derek Jarman, is also known for her androgynous appearance, having played the gender-crossing title character in Orlando and the archangel Gabriel in Constantine.
    • Strongly hinted at with Mikey's brother in "Kimmy Goes to Her Happy Place!", who works out a lot at the gym with his friend Lance (stated earlier in the episode to be a very gay name).
  • Unexpected Kindness: The titular character butts heads with Straw Misogynist Fran Dodd, culminating in her breaking his hand. The next time he sees her, he frantically claims to have never met her before. The third time they interact after this is when she finds out that Fran stole credit for a book she wrote. However, instead of being an unrepentant jerk towards Kimmy, he apologizes and talks to her in a surprisingly polite manner.
  • The Unfavorite: Kymmi, to the extent she was overshadowed by a sister who wasn't even there.
  • Unicorns Are Sacred: After Kimmy utters the Precision F-Strike (see above), Cyndee gets angry at her for cursing in the presence of a unicorn (or at least the horse disguised as unicorn planted by Brandon as part of the decoration to propose to Cyndee). Brandon tells Cyndee to relax because his magic allows the unicorn to remain unharmed against that kind of profanity.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Making waffles out of [someone]" is apparently a Durnsville equivalent of saying "kicking [someone]'s ass. "The first season finale is called "Kimmy Makes Waffles!" for this reason. (Or perhaps the euphemism was coined in order to use an innocuous title for that pivotal episode.)
  • Vacation Episode: The season 2 finale is shot on location at the Universal Studios resort in Orlando, Florida, not unlike many ABC sitcoms that have entire episodes set and shot in Disney Theme Parks. note 
  • Wacky Startup Workplace: Giztoob, the tech startup founded by one of Kimmy's classmates at Columbia, is a match for Kimmy's own personality. It's got a ball pit in the office, colorful decor, arcade games, and Kimmy at one point busts open a door bearing nerf guns.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The Season 1 finale, when Titus' wife shows up and finds Titus after his disappearing for so long, thanks to Titus' viral video.
    • The Season 2 finale, when Kimmy finally meets her mom and also it's revealed that The Reverend and Kimmy are married.
  • What the Fu Are You Doing?: Rev. Wayne's secret The Apprentice audition tape features him flailing punches at the camera while shouting, "Karate! Karate! Karate! Ninjitsu!" This receives a Call-Back in season 4. In the interactive finale, he has the option to use "Karate" to break out of prison. When fleeing Kimmy, he hops over obstacles while shouting "Karate jump!"
  • What If?: The episode "Sliding Van Doors" shows what if Kimmy never went in the reverend's van and if Titus didn't get to his audition in time.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: One episode in the final season is a whole plot reference to the concept of Sliding Doors, presenting an alternate reality where Kimmy didn't get into Reverend Wayne's van.
  • Where Did We Go Wrong?: Spoken word-for-word by Jackie's mother when she sees that Jackie publicly claimed the Redskins was not an offensive name, not knowing it was part of a larger Batman Gambit.
  • Wretched Hive: Played with. Kimmy and Titus live in an area that's clearly poor and generally unpleasant, but their landlord likes it that way and is terrified of the area being gentrified. She tries to encourage gang wars to keep the neighborhood edgy and treats hipsters like members of an invading army.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: "Kimmy and the Beest!" revolves around a staging of Beauty and the Beest, a take on the classic tale (with heavy promotion of soft drinks due to being sponsored by a soda council).
  • Xanatos Gambit: Kimmy's GED teacher notes that no matter what she does, he wins, because his only goal is to keep teaching poorly until he's sent to the "rubber room." She does manage, however, to Take a Third Option.
  • Yellow Fever: Lillian to Dong, and just Asian men in general (she keeps an entire ream of photos of Asian men she's been with inside her wallet). She is a gender-flipped version of how this trope usually goes.

They alive, damnit!
It's a miracle!