—Selina Meyer, VP
Veep is an HBO black comedy/satire about the various dysfunctional people in the office of ineffectual Vice President of the United States Selina Meyer, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus (of Seinfeld and The New Adventures of Old Christine fame). Developed by Armando Iannucci, it is a long-awaited (five years!) American adaptation of The Thick of It and a Spiritual Successor to the American side of In the Loop. It keeps most of the biting satire of the originals, and although the swearing level is about the same, it would appear that American politicians and staffers prefer sarcasm to straight-up bollocking.
Other members of the cast include Anna Chlumsky (Chief of Staff Amy Brookheimer), Tony Hale (Gary Walsh, personal assistant to the VP), Matt Walsh (Mike McLintock, Director of Communications), Sufe Bradshaw (Sue Wilson, executive assistant to the Vice President), Reid Scott (Dan Egan, Deputy Director of Communications), Timothy Simons (Jonah Ryan, White House Liaison to the VP), Kevin Dunn (Ben Cafferty, White House Chief of Staff), and Gary Cole (Kent Davison, White House senior strategist and polling adviser).
The show premiered in 2012. The seventh and final season is set to air in 2019.
This show provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Selina was always a terrible parent to Catherine, and even in Catherine's adulthood continues to belittle her and disrespect her autonomy at every opportunity. In "Detroit":Catherine: Well, I'm not going to a fucking gun show.
Selina: Uh, well, yes you are going to a fucking gun show even if I have to put a gun to your fucking head.
- The Ace: Senator Tom James in season 4. He is well spoken, caring, sociable amongst voters and has a disabled son who served in the military, hence why Selina picks him as VP for her 2012 ticket. However, he does have certain controversial personal views he keeps out of the public eye such as wanting to legalize all drugs, and not fully blaming victims of PTSD when they kill others.
- Acronym Confusion: The names of pro-choice and pro-life lobbies get confused greatly when Selina accepts a call from a pro-choice group. Or was it pro-life? Was it the ACCDP again? Or the ACDDP? Or the ADCCP? Selina can't even glean it from the conversation.Selina: (mouthing) Who are they?
Mike: The Anti— no, the Anti-Abortion— no the Association of— it's in my phone.
- Alliterative List: In "Debate", Selina has a "three Rs" immigration policy: reform, reaffirm and renew. During the actual debate, she forgets the third R, so she comes up with "repel".
- All Lesbians Want Kids: Catharine and Marjorie are trying to find a sperm donor in season 6.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: In "Omaha", Jonah giving a speech to an empty Congressional hearing room is played for laughs because it is quite absurd. However, this is something that happens often in real life. Real life Congressmen give these sorts of speeches to put clips of them arguing passionately about certain issues in the media, not to persuade their colleagues.
- Ambition Is Evil: The ambitious characters (Selina, Dan, Amy) are conniving bastards. Nicer characters, such as Gary and Mike are not very ambitious and generally satisfied with their position.
- Amusing Injuries: Selina suffers a ghastly array of cuts on her face after walking through a glass door, shortly before she's set to meet a bunch of VIPs.
- The Alcoholic: Ben. He isn't shy about it either.Amy: Anyone who talks about work tonight has to take a drink.
Ben: Work. (takes a drink)
- The rest of the staff seems to be following in his footsteps. Not surprising considering the professional disasters they put up with (and cause) on a regular basis.
- Always Someone Better: Tom James is this to Selina in season 4, and most likely President Laura Montez will be this from the season 5 finale on.
- Analogy Backfire: Selina, refusing to rehire Helen Wright after firing her for fucking Andrew:Selina: That would be like Princess Di hiring Camilla Parker Bowles to be her limo driver...although in that case it would have worked out better for her, obviously.
- Apathetic Citizens: Of the apolitical sort. For example, "The Choice," where Selina has to make a statement on whether she is pro-choice or pro-life without pissing off anyone.Selina: Okay, so I am looking at a page and I am seeing most of America standing up proudly and saying: Idunno.
- Artifact Title: Following the resignation of President Hughes at the end of Season 3, Selina's no longer Veep. And following her defeat in the election, she's no longer president.
- Artistic License Law: In "Inauguration", Laura Montez is referred to as the president-elect and taking the oath of office as president. This is not correct. Montez is still the Vice President, and is only serving as acting President because the office is vacant, the House having failed to choose between Selina and O'Brien. The suggestion that Selina could have served as Tom James's Vice President, or that anyone could serve as Montez's Vice President, is also artistic license, as whoever the Senate chooses as VP in this scenario would in fact remain VP for the next four years. There would be no Vice President vacancy to fill. Finally, this episode shows Vice President Doyle breaking the Senate tie, which is also artistic license as the 12th Amendment specifies that senators, and only senators, can vote to choose the Vice President.
- As You Know: In "Convention" Selina is informed that one of her rivals for the nomination has tabbed a "Montez" as his potential running mate. Selina's horrified "Montez? New Mexico Senator Laura Montez?" tells the audience who Montez is.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: Meyer becoming President in the third season finale
- Bait-and-Switch: Jonah refuses to give Dan an interview unless he gets him tickets to a play that are impossible to get. No, not Hamilton, but Spiderman Turn Off The Dark, which would literally be impossible because it hasn't been playing for years.
- Beleaguered Assistant: All of Selina's staff, who are completely overworked and constantly forced to put out fires. Special mention must go to Gary, however, who is also hopelessly in love with her.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension:
- Hints of this between Amy and Dan - and Dan at least clearly thinks that's what's happening. In "Nev-AD-a", they have a romantic moment, but it's ruined by the appearance of Sophie, Amy's sister. Later, Amy invites Dan to her room but he's off with Sophie - and she sent the texts to Ben by mistake. In "Kissing Your Sister" Amy is fumbling through an invitation to go on a date with Dan when Sophie's phone call ruins the moment once again.
- A much more overt example in Season 2 with Selina and her ex-husband Andrew. They clearly loathe each other, but can't stop bonking. In "Andrew", during a dinner they alternate between flirting and fighting in a matter of minutes.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: Discussed just as Selina finds out that the President is sending her to a pork roast in North Carolina just as an important military briefing is happening on the same day.Selina: So they want me to go to a pig roast to meet a bunch of men who probably took turns to fuck the pig before they roasted it?
Amy: I wouldn't presume that they took turns.
- Better Than Sex:
- Amy says this about finding proof of a rival politician's extramarital affair.This feels better than actually having sex yourself!
- When Selina becomes president, Dan says it feels better than most of the sex he's ever had.
- Amy says this about finding proof of a rival politician's extramarital affair.
- Bittersweet Ending: "Kissing Your Sister", the House vote is hung, leaving the door wide open for a Tom James presidency, but Catherine and Marjorie get back together.
- Black Comedy: All the time. An example includes an ex-Marine telling Selina that he saw his best friend blown up by an IED in Afghanistan; the Marine is dressed up as the Easter Bunny for the White House Egg Roll.
- Blatant Lies: As a military man and a veteran, Governor Chung has never used his military record to advance his political career. As a military man.
- Bloody Hilarious:
- Selina with her face sliced up after walking through a glass door in "Running". And later when she opens up one of the cuts or gets a nosebleed or something after finishing her "Get Moving" run.
- Gary gets so excited and cries with joy that his nose starts to bleed heavily after learning from Selina that POTUS is resigning. Leads to a hilarious 3 minute Laughing Mad sequence between the two in the bathroom stall.
- Blunt "Yes":
- "Frozen Yoghurt"Gary: Everything you say to me is emasculating. Do you realize that?
- Dan does this again in "Midterms". A data wonk of Indian ethnicity spurts out a lot of technical polling jargon, Dan asks for the data in English, the wonk says "Is that some kind of racist Indian joke?" and Dan says "Uh, yes."
- "Alicia." Catherine arrives wearing a similar dress to her mother. Selina is extremely miffed and orders her daughter to change.
- "Frozen Yoghurt"
- Brick Joke: Early in "Library", Andrew has Richard set his iPhone so Siri will read his text and emails out loud. Later in the episode, this bites Andrew in the ass when Siri reads text messages from Andrew's mistress out loud while Selina is within earshot.
- British Brevity: Eight episodes in the first season, ten in every other season.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Selina apparently counts Senator Tom James among the skeletons in her closet because of a time ago when they almost, in her words, "fucked." She brings this moment up to Tom in a private conversation - he barely remembers it at all. Subverted in "Congressional Ball", when Selina gets him to admit that he was lying and he really did want to have sex with her which they then promptly do.
- But Liquor Is Quicker: In "Catherine", Jonah tries to hit on Sue at a party after he notices that she's pretty drunk. Her response: "There's not enough alcohol in the world, Jonah."
- The whole VP office holds Jonah in contempt...as, it seems, does everyone in the District.
- Call-Back: A hilarious one in "Clovis" to the season 2 episode "Hostages," specifically on word clouds (the prevalence and memorability of the word within its context corresponds to its size in the word cloud)note .Selina: You know what? Guys, I have to address this. This Danny Chung torture story. I know Governor Chung very well and I can tell you that these allegations are utterly unfounded. Utterly unfounded. If you are telling me that Danny Chung condones torture, I am telling you that those allegations are false. False. I mean, the words "Danny Chung" and "torture" they don't belong in the same sentence. They don't. "Danny Chung"? "Torture"? Come on.
Dan: Well, ma'am, by denying that "Chung" and "torture" are connected, everyone now seems to think that, well, Chung and torture are connected.
- Calling the Old Man Out: In "Judge", Gary calls out his overbearing father.
- The Cameo:
- Several of the Baltimore Orioles appear as themselves in "Baseball".
- Musical group Band of Horses appear as themselves in "Election Night".
- Cast Herd: The end of the Meyer administration in Season 6 results in this. Selina starts her own charitable foundation, with Gary, Richard, and Mike assisting her. Jonah, now a freshman congressman, employs Ben and Kent. Dan is the sole main cast member at CBS news, while Amy works as her fiancé's campaign manager for a few episodes before dumping him and returning to work for Selina. Sue has not been shown since the Season 5 finale.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Senator Montez, who was only offhandedly mentioned to be Senator O'Brien's running mate and wasn't seen at all during the subsequent election episodes, becomes the new President in the Season 5 finale.
- Cliché Storm: In-story example. Every speech we hear Selina (or any other politician) give is a collection of overused platitudes without any substance whatsoever.Selina: Politics is about people.
- Taken Up to Eleven in the season 3 episode "Debate," where each candidate can't seem to break out of their mold. Even exploited in Selina's prep.Amy: Congressman Furlong, can you be Joe Thornhillnote ?
Roger Furlong (as Joe Thornhill): Let's see. "I don't know anything about NAFTA, but I do know about baseball. Baseball, baseball, baseball, look at my muscly chest. Vote for me."
- Taken Up to Eleven in the season 3 episode "Debate," where each candidate can't seem to break out of their mold. Even exploited in Selina's prep.
- Cliffhanger: The Season 4 final ends with Selina finding out the results of the election. It's a tie.
- Clue, Evidence, and a Smoking Gun: Dan deduces that Sue had a job interview in season 2 by pointing out subtle clues but topping it off with a phone call made to her extension while she was away.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Could an HBO show about politics be anything else? Lampshaded in "The Eagle", when Catherine is making a documentary about her mother's administration:Selina: Catherine, do not use any of the vulgar parts.
Catherine: Yeah, but that's like all of it, Mom.
- The Comically Serious: Minna Häkkinen, the former Finnish Prime Minister, combined with Funny Foreigner. Either that, or it's an extremely well-played case of Obfuscating Stupidity.
- Completely Missing the Point: When Gary snaps at Selina's staff and Tom James for being so incompetent that Selina and their party lost the presidential election, they're all quieted by the outburst. Afterwards, whereas one may have a Heel Realization from this, unsurprisingly, they all comment that "that just made this entire last year worth it." Mike even had the audacity to record Gary's rant on his phone.
- Concepts Are Cheap: As mentioned under Cliché Storm, most politicians on the show will just say about anything that resembles substance which on closer inspection has anything but.Amy: (flipping through Selina's memoir) "Freedom is what this nation is built on..." blah, blah, blah, "...and freedom means the freedom to choose how to use that freedom to protect the freedom of others "
Selina: Sorry, that's just pastel-colored shit.
- Selina has even used this to get out of awkward conversations. From "Clovis," in which she is accosted by a young mother on flip-flopping over the issue of fracking.Selina: I believe that children are the future and they deserve an energy policy (louder, to the rest of the crowd) that protects the world. The world in which there is a country called the United States of America! (Thunderous cheers)
- In "Joint Session", Dan describes the Selina's upcoming speech as "noise-shaped air", and in "Crate", Amy comments that the things Tornhill says are "not even soundbites, just sounds."
- Selina has even used this to get out of awkward conversations. From "Clovis," in which she is accosted by a young mother on flip-flopping over the issue of fracking.
- Convenient Miscarriage: It really is.
- Country Matters:
- In "D.C." an enraged Selina thinks that DC should be renamed the "District of Cunts".
- In "C**tgate", Selina finds out that someone in her staff called her a cunt, and tasks Amy with finding out who it was. Turns out that pretty much everyone said it (except for Gary, who admits that he called Selina the C-word, but turns out that he thinks that the C-word is "crone".)
- Crapsack World: In "Georgia", Selina oversees the Georgia elections, and is quickly offered bribes by the brutal warlord dictator, and his opposition candidate who on the outside is an idealist reformer that America favors, however, he is revealed to be a rich media mogul. Selina sadly recognizes that it is Evil vs. Evil, to the point that a military coup is a moderate form of justice as the dictator is executed and the media mogul is exposed, though he himself bribed Selina for more money than both of them.
- Cringe Comedy: Large part of the humor comes from Selina publicly embarrassing herself.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Blake Stewart, the the uncharismatic former politician at Congressman Cowgill's funeral, was Selina's party's presidential nominee a decade ago and lost 49 states in the general election.
- Dark Horse Victory: In "Camp David", Jonah, against all odds, manages to win the congressional race with help from the NRA.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In Season 1, one of Selina's Secret Service agents was caught twice laughing, and so Selina had him reassigned to the Arlington Memorial Cemetery. When the press get a hold of the story, they blow the story into Selina firing the Secret Service agent for smiling, made worse because Mike calls the agent out for "grinning like an ape." As a result, her approval ratings plummet. By "Tears," her disapproval rating was at 66%.
- Distinction Without a Difference: In "C**tgate", the U.S. government is absolutely not considering bailing out banks. They're just considering massive financial infusions for the banks.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- Selina getting some unpleasant news in "Baseball" when Gary whispers into her ear while she's in front of a class of schoolchildren is strongly reminiscent of George W. Bush getting the news on Sept. 11, 2001 from Andrew Card.
- The meeting where senior administration personnel are huddled together to monitor the hostage rescue mission in "Hostages" is shot to look a lot like the famous photo of Obama Administration bigwigs crammed into a small room monitoring the mission to take out Osama bin Laden. The actual plot is reminiscent of the hikers who got arrested in Iran.
- Selina having to redo the Presidential swearing-in after it's done incorrectly, just like Obama after his first inauguration.
- In "Clovis," the CFO of Clovis, Melissa Connors, and her conversations with Amy take an entirely different meaning if read in a different light.Melissa Connors, CFO of Clovis: I've been watching you all day, and I like what I see. Would you work here, and share an open-plan work environment with me?
- Selina publicly tweeting an inappropriate joke about a political opponent to her boyfriend when she meant to direct message him and then falsely claiming that her Twitter got hacked is highly reminiscent of the scandal that destroyed Congressman Anthony Weiner's career.
- Jonah forming a Congressional power bloc with a name (the Jeffersons) that harkens back to the early days of America which proceeds to shut down the government to the outrage of both major parties is clearly based on the real life Tea Party movement.
- The Dog Bites Back: In "Data," Lee Patterson, a younger White House staffer/intern, is thrown under the bus for the data breach that leaked a young girl's HIV positive status. In "Testimony," she returns to reveal to a congressional hearing that data from the same breach was used to target a mailer campaign towards recently bereaved parents.Lee: They though I was a mouse. Well, this mouse will roar.
- Don't Explain the Joke: In "Helsinki."Minna: Danteeksi, I think I should apologize in advance, because I think that this is going to be "The Neverending Sorry."
(Minna and Selina laugh)
Selina: As opposed to "Story."
- Double Entendre:
- In "Chung", Selina engages in some extremely innuendo-laced conversation with her boyfriend, much to the disgust of her staff members who overhear it.
- Deliberately and gleefully used by Ben to Mike when he learns that the latter's been trying IVF on the DL in "Fishing"Ben: Hey, Mike, this salad doesn't have any dressing. Did you bring any extra dressing? I hear the next course is gonna be pulled pork. Pork that has been pulled.
- Downer Ending: "Inauguration", Selina leaves the White House as a failed president, everyone loses their job in the government with most not knowing where they're going to end up apart from Dan, and Jonah could have cancer.
- Dumb Muscle: Ray, who is hired as Selina's personal fitness trainer and who she has an intense affair with. Despite his insistence otherwise, he really is as dumb as a brick.
- Eagleland: Flavor 2. Catherine refuses to appear on radio shows that have eagle logos and call themselves the "voice of reason."
- The Eeyore: Ben is always a downer, having been worn down by his time in politics, to the point that when everyone else is excited over the President resigning and Selina taking over, he merely says "This must be what it feels like to be happy" with the same tone and facial expression he always has.
- Election Day Episode: Appropriate for a political show. Fourth-season finale "Election Night" has Selina trying to become President in her own right, in a down-to-the-wire election against Senator O'Brien.
- Empathy Doll Shot: Invoked In-Universe in the Tag of "Storms and Pancakes." A hurricane was forecast to hit North Carolina, and Selina has the North Carolina governor ground flights to shut out her rivals to get publicity in the aftermath of the hurricane. Barometric pressure causes the hurricane to hit Florida instead, where Senator O'Brien and his running mate already are. Mike announces that O'Brien has pulled a teddy bear from the ruins of a house.
- Enemy Mine:
- After causing trouble for the Veep's office (and Dan in particular) a number of times, Roger Furlong joins team Veep during the debate to help prepare and turns his caustic remarks toward Selina's rivals.
- Selina tries to get Jonah to vote for Senator Bill O'Brien in the House vote for president so she can face off against him again in the next election and prevent a Tom James presidency.
- In "Groundbreaking", Jonah hires Teddy, who had repeatedly sexually harassed him in the past, to work on his presidential campaign. Jonah's clearly uncomfortable with it.
- Erotic Eating: Discussed in "Frozen Yoghurt," Selina is trying to wrangle Senator Doyle's support for a filibuster reform bill and jokingly refuses to be photographed eating a hotdog "or any other phallic foods" in their quid-pro-quo.
- Establishing Character Moment: In the pilot, personal aide and willing slave Gary Walsh (played by Tony Hale) burns his hands holding VP Meyer's hot coffee cup while she has an idle conversation. He'll go on to do similar things in later episodes.
- Everybody Did It: In "C**tgate", Selina tasks Amy with finding out who called her a cunt. Turns out pretty much everyone working in the West Wing did.
- Everyone Has Standards:
- In "Hostages", when Jonah tells Selina about the Marine who lost a leg in the hostage operation, his tone is sincere and respectful, very different from his usual way of speaking.
- When visiting the victims of a crane collapse in "Chung," Selina and her staff seem genuinely respectful and concerned. Mike even keeps the press at a respectful distance from a conversation between Selina and the bereaved parents of one of the victims, at least until it's established that their son is going to live. Also, in "Helsinki," the borderline sociopathic and amoral Dan seems genuinely horrified to learn that the Finnish Prime Minister's husband groped Selina.
- Dan is a ruthless amoral shark, possibly a borderline sociopath. But he is shocked and appalled to witness Teddy's sexual harassment of Jonah in "Data".
- In "Crate", Selina shows genuine concern for the President and the First Lady after the President decides to resign from office to better care for his wife's worsening mental condition.
- Bizarrely, in "Camp David" Selina tells Ben to stop laughing at Jonah after the latter accidentally shoots himself in the foot.
- Everybody Knew Already: The fact that Mike's dog is fake. Half the District calls it the "Bullshitzu."
- Failed a Spot Check: In "Georgia", Jonah and Richard go to a concert. It isn't until Richard points out that the band's name translates to "Panzer Division" that they notice the large Swastika banners and that every man there except for Richard is a white guy with a shaved head.
- Fat Bastard: This is how the Meyer camp views Senator O'Brien, Selina's opponent in the general election in Season 4. He's no more of a jerkass then Selina, which isn't saying much.
- Flanderization: Mike starts off the series as a motivated and semi-competent comms officer who, while clumsy and prone to mistakes, is generally well-respected in the team. By season 5, he has suddenly become a walking joke - he's completely lost all motivation to do his job, stumbles mindlessly from one disastrous press conference to the next, often gives Selina the wrong documents and information, and is often shown falling asleep during team meetings. Ben and Selina are shown actively working to get him sacked, before the whole team is dismissed anyway at the inauguration of President Montez.
- Flipping the Bird:
- Dan to Amy at the end of "Full Disclosure" when Amy has won the VP's favor by claiming that she (Amy) is the one who needed the pregnancy test, then, in response to him needling her, implies in front of the press that he's infertile.
- In "Joint Session", Furlong gives the Vulcan salute then switches to giving the finger.Live long (switch) and fuck off!
- Flowery Insults: Most characters use very vulgar and at the same time highly detailed and creative insults.
- Formerly Fat: Selina. This is referenced several times throughout the series.
- Freudian Slip: In "Andrew", Gary calls Selina "sweetie" without noticing it.Selina: Gary, you just called me sweetie.
Gary: Oh, my God! I'm sorry. That's what I call [my girlfriend] Dana.
Selina: Did you ever call Dana ma'am?
Gary: I did once and it was awful.
- Funny Background Event: In "Kissing Your Sister", while Marjorie and Catherine are discussing their relationship, Selina's screaming in rage in the background when Jonah casts his vote for Selina in the House vote.
- Fun with Acronyms:
- The real life government staffer inclination toward this is sometimes lampooned. Everyone called the president by the acronym "POTUS," pronounced "poh-tuss" and often call Selina "vee-poh-tuss." Jonah tends to go overboard with it, called the president's dog "FDOTUS," pronounced "eff-dotus," for the First Dog of the United States. He also makes up initialisms on the fly, such as "VPVP," standing for "vice-president visual presence."
- When Selina is campaigning for president in season 3, she and her core team uses the acronym "GUMMI"note for certain campaign donorsnote . Naturally, their conversation about this is accidentally recorded by a reporter's cell phone. The ensuing controversy pretty much spells the death of her presidential campaign... until POTUS resigns.
- The Ghost: The President. Much like the PM in The Thick of It, it's confirmed he'll never be seen; for three seasons, he didn't even have a name. In third-season episode "New Hampshire", it's finally revealed to be Stuart Hughes... as he resigns. In the first season, he never once even called the Veep's office, although Selina constantly seemed to expect him to, and frequently asked if he has. In "Midterms," the second season premiere, the President finally calls. There is an epic record scratch.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: In "Justice", Dan is clearly ogling Catherine and Marjorie's displays of affection and tries to get them to agree to a threesome if the artificial insemination can't get Catherine pregnant.
- Gone Horribly Right:
- In "The Eagle", Ben convinces Selina to blame Chinese hackers for her tweets regarding O'Brien. When the Chinese don't take it lying down, Selina continues to up the ante way past what Ben intended, to the point that China starts heading toward a trade war and bans foreign adoptions. But, hey, it does get everyone to forget about her tweets.
- Selina gets Tom James as her new VP, pushing him hard as popular and loveable to the voters in order to boost her own ticket...only to have his popularity eclipse Selina's to the point where people will take him as President over her.
- The Nevada recount and the absentee ballots pushed by the Meyer camp ends with O'Brien officially winning the state and Selina losing the national popular vote. Whoops.
- The Meyer camp tries to get Jonah elected to the House of Representatives so he can vote for Selina in the House vote for president, which he promptly does, resulting in an undecided House vote and open door for Tom James to take the presidency.
- Government Procedural
- Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee: "Testimony", which entirely told through deposition and C-SPAN footage, has Selina and her crew in a congressional hearing to investigate the source of a data breach that had been season four's Plot Arc. Bill Ericsson gets thrown to the wolves.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Selina and Amy.
- Hired to Hunt Yourself: Amy is tasked with finding out who called Selina the C-word. Amy did, of course. As did everybody.
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- The first episode lampshades and parodies this to hell and back. When one of Selina's staffers makes a bad call and it blows up in her face, a frenemy of Selina's remarks that she was "hoist by your own retard". In an attempt to make a joke, Selina later drops that line in a public appearance, with predictable results from the people watching—in other words, Selina gets hoist by her own "hoist by her own petard" joke. It goes even further when Selina's team turns the screw-up around by blaming the frenemy for "pressuring" Selina to use the joke in the first place, shifting the blame to her—which means that two characters get hoist by their own "hoist by their own petard" petards.
- In Season 6, Dan's co-anchor Jane starts rumors that she and Dan are having an affair so the network won't view her as being too old to be an anchor. In "Qatar", Dan accuses Jane of sexual harassment, and the rumors Jane spread cause the HR department to believe that Jane coerced Dan into having sex with her. Suffice it to say, Jane gets fired.
- Honey Trap: Sherman Tanz has his daughter Shawnee sleep with Jonah to persuade him to vote for legislation that helps Tanz's interests. Jonah is too oblivious to realize that his political power is the only reason she's interested in him. When Jonah's uncle forces him off the ballot in favor of his more electable cousin, she dumps Jonah to his complete astonishment.
- Hope Spot: For a while in "Justice", it appears that Selina's post-presidency woes with a nomination to the Supreme Court. Montez nominates Hughes instead.
- Humiliation Conga: Selina's re-election campaign ends in an electoral tie. Her efforts to find lost ballots only ends up benefiting her opponent, costing her the popular vote. When it becomes clear that the vote in the House will go down to a tie, she tries to throw the vote so that she'll lose so she can run in four years, to no avail. The vote goes to the Senate who will chose from the vice-presidential candidates, meaning she has to accept a humiliating demotion to once again become the veep, to her own VP candidate. However, the Senate vote swings to his opponent, making the other candidate Laura Montez, not Selina, the first female to be elected president. On her inauguration, Montez even ends up taking credit for what would have been Selina's signature achievement, freeing Tibet. As the topper, Marine One has engine trouble and has to land on a lawn so Selina gets to hear the massive applause of the crowd for Montez's inaguration.
- In season six, Jonah is in the hospital recovering from being circumcised so he can marry his Jewish girlfriend. His uncle comes by to rant on his screwups and how he's pulling all support for Jonah's cousin. At which point, realizing Jonah's career is done, his fiancee dumps him as his uncle laughs hysterically. Jonah then puts cream on his nether regions which stings and causes him to scream in agony.
- Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Subverted as Selina's staff is as much a band of incompetent screwups as she is.
- Played straight with Sue, the only one who acts like a professional.
- Notable is how Dan thinks he's this when even Selina has stated to his face that Dan is nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is and every one of his plans blows up in his face.
- Hypocrite: The CEO of the Facebook-type Silicon Valley startup Craig (CRAY-g) Juergensen claims that he doesn't follow politics, but then asks Selina about dropping repatriation taxes because they "stop so much innovation"
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: Selina may constantly belittle and look down on Gary, but when she sees his father doing the same thing, she's furious, and encourages him to stand up for himself.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- In "Catherine" Selina says, "I know not everything is about me," to her daughter—while hiding in a closet filled with pictures, posters, and cardboard cutouts of herself. (In fairness, the stuff is campaign leftovers.)
- In "D.C.", Selina slams Ben and Kent while talking to Mike and Dan, using terms that could also be applied to the latter two.
- When Selina offers the vice-presidency to Maddox in exchange for his endorsement, Maddox gives her the same offer. Selina is outraged and tells Maddox that she'd rather be dead than be Vice President again.
- In "Mother", Selina tells Catherine how her mother treated her, without realizing that she treats Catherine the exact same way.Selina: You have no idea what it was like to be the only daughter of a pathological narcissist. I mean, all this woman did was to criticize me or ignore me.
Catherine: (sighs) I'm gonna go to bed.
- In "Library", Jonah gives his date a rather grisly description of how he had a testicle surgically removed and is incensed when she walks out on him in response. His next date gives him a description of her mastretchtemony and Jonah is disgusted that she would discuss surgery at dinner.
- In "Qatar", Selina tells Amy that she's worried about dating Qatari Ambassador Jaffar because dating a Muslim would be bad for her reputation back home. When Jaffar breaks up with her at the end of the episode because his father disapproves of him dating a white woman, Selina is outraged.
- I Call Him Mr Happy: From "Data," while Ben and Dan are each at their own urinal.Ben: You don't tell anyone until she's made an announcement. You got it?
Dan: Yeah, not a word.
Ben: You swear by everything you hold dear in your hand right now?
Dan: I do. I swear on King Danny.
- I Take Offense to That Last One!: While playing devil's advocate, Dan predicts that Selina's policy will destroy America, capping it off by saying that she'll become so infamous that no one will ever name their child Selina again. After a stunned moment of silence, Gary says, "My God... no more Selinas?" He's immediately shushed.
- Idiot Houdini:
- Despite throwing mulitple tantrums in public and being a horrible and incompetent person in general, Jonah somehow manages to get elected Congressman of New Hampshire.
- President Hughes is even more incompetent than Selina, but he's remembered as a good president in contrast to the disastrous Meyer administration and is eventually nominated to be a Supreme Court Justice.
- If I Had a Nickel: Danny Chung constantly brings up his war record. In "D.C.", Dan gets tired of it and tells him: "If I had a dollar for every time you mention the goddamn war, I would buy a tank and I would blow your fat fucking head off."
- In-Series Nickname:
- Selina's has several used by bloggers and the press. Out of all of these, the one that sets Selina off is "Viagra Prohibitor."
- Dan gets one while he is in Helsinki from the press: "Danteeksi."note
- In "Testimony" it's revealed that Dan has been compiling an extensive list of nicknames for Jonah, including (but not limited to): Jizzy Gillespie, Jack and the Giant Jack-Off, One Erection, The 60-Foot Virgin, Jonah Ono, Transgenderformers, and Benedict Cuminhisownhand.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Mike is a master of this. Gems include "Now that's one Speakernote I'd like to put on mute!"
- Indy Ploy: Selina's on-the-spot decision to apologize for the spy cover-up in "First Response," which unexpectedly boosts her popularity.
- Informed Ability: Selina was a powerful Senator and had enough clout to make a serious run at the presidency, but her skill at diplomacy is kept largely off-camera. The show focuses instead on her many catastrophes and meltdowns.
- Insane Troll Logic: Catherine's decision to take up an anti-bullying campaign upsets Selina... because the public will think Catherine was bullied by her mother.
- Insistent Terminology: It was not an institution, it was a spa.
- Instantly Proven Wrong: In "Library", Andrew gets a text from his mistress, read out loud by Siri, while in the car with Selina. He says she must've wanted to send that to her boyfriend and he got it by mistake. He immediately gets another message where she calls him by his name.
- Intercourse with You: Gary's attempt at dirty talk.Gary: (according to his girlfriend) I'm in it. I'm in you right now.
- Intoxication Ensues: As it turns out, St. John's wort and anti-depressants don't mix. Well, they do, but they shouldn't, especially if you are the Vice President. ("Running").
- It's All About Me: Taken to Comedic Sociopathy levels in Season 2.
- Jerkass: Everyone. Gary being the sole exception.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: After Dan suffers a nervous breakdown, ends up in a hospital and loses his job as a campaign manager, Jonah visits him only to cruelly mock him. However, Dan is such a massive jerk that it's hard to feel sorry for him.
- Kicked Upstairs: Vice President Meyer used to be a U.S. Senator of some influence. Now she struggles to get anyone to pay attention to her. Louis-Dreyfus notes in interviews that no one dreams of being the vice-president.
- From the pilot:Selina: What am I missing these days?
A Senator: Power.
- Also this gem of a quote from "Fishing":Selina: I'd rather be shot in the fucking face than serve as vice president again! Seriously! In the fucking face!
- From the pilot:
- Laser-Guided Karma: Over the course of the series, Dan makes a living hell for Jonah, including leaking enough information to have Jonah fired and his news site's credibility destroyed. In "Data," he sets up Jonah as the fall guy for the Medileaks scandal, but is himself fired to cover for it.
- Last-Second Word Swap:
- In "Alicia", Selina is satirized in a Saturday Night Live sketch and Dan angrily calls SNL about it:Dan: I wanna know who's responsible for that sketch, you cock- (Amy walks by with a kid) -tail napkin. Yeah, you heard me!
- In "Special Relationship," as Selina is being grilled by the British press over the leak about her personal fitness trainer's old blog posts about obesity being the result of karma and past sins.Selina: I have always been a friend of the fa uh, full-figured (pause) folks.
- A version "Nev-AH-da", Selina is meeting a bunch of businessmen, with Gary whispering relevant information to her ear as usual.Gary: This is Eli Park. He's the CEO of CM Capital.
Selina: Oh, hello, Eli!
Eli: Madam President.
Selina: How is Susan?
Gary: He's divorced.
Selina: Not in jail for what she did to you?
- In "Alicia", Selina is satirized in a Saturday Night Live sketch and Dan angrily calls SNL about it:
- Laughing Mad:
- In "Crate", when they learn that the President is stepping down, Selina and Gary break down in hysteric glee.
- In "A Woman First", Jonah's uncle Jeff lets out a long string of maniacal laughs as he witnesses Shawnee dump Jonah.
- Law of Inverse Fertility:
- As a middle-aged, divorced politician, the last thing Selina wants is another child, so of course she gets pregnant after having unprotected sex one time. Meanwhile, Mike and his wife want to have a child, but they can't conceive, not even with using in vitro fertilization. Later, Catherine also has trouble when she tries to get pregnant.
- In Season 6, when Dan learns that he's incapable of conceiving a child, he starts to have unprotected sex as much as he can since he has no risk of having to pay child support. By the end of the season, he's gotten Amy pregnant.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Selina says a variation of this to Dan when he tells her he was responsible for getting Jonah to put out the Chung torture story.
- Literal Metaphor:
- In "Hostages" Selina has been invited to fire a shotgun at a Marine shooting range.Mike: This could backfire.
Dan: It's not gonna backfire.
Mike: The gun could literally backfire. It's where the phrase comes from.
- In "Camp David" Selina is told that Jonah shot himself in the foot. She cringes and asks what he's done now. It turns out he literally shot himself in the foot, while dressed up in hunting gear for a campaign event.
- In "Hostages" Selina has been invited to fire a shotgun at a Marine shooting range.
- Location Doubling: The show is filmed in Baltimore.
- Meaningful Echo: In "First Response," Gary shouts into a boom mic and the sound guy berates him, saying that "[his] ears are [his] livelihood." Later, at the end of the episode, Selina uses those exact same words in her false explanation for her false knowledge and involvement in the cover-up of the spy scandal, saying that as a politician, she's only as good as her ears, and "[her] ears are [her] livelihood." Doubles as a Brick Joke.
- Mistaken for Racist: Two separate incidents on one day caused by poor staff research cause Selina to appear prejudiced against Asians.
- Mockumentary: Season 5 episode "Kissing Your Sister" is presented in the form of the documentary that Catherine has been filming throughout the season, much to her mother's displeasure.
- Mood Whiplash:
- "Hostages" has an unusually dramatic ending as Selina learns a marine lost his leg, in an operation she insisted be moved up to before his rotation ended.
- "Helsinki" abruptly turns serious as Selina is groped by the Prime Minister's husband and is traumatized afterwards, then goes right back to being funny.
- "Special Relationship." The hilarity of Selina's Humiliation Conga at the press conference in the United Kingdom in which she is torn apart by the British press comes to an end when Kent informs Selina that FLOTUS attempted suicide back in DC.Selina: Makes you put your own problems in perspective. Doesn't it? Seriously?
Kent: It does, although, your problems are still pretty bad.
- Must Have Nicotine: Selina during her trip to Finland. A lot.
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: When visiting Finland in "Helsinki", Gary tells people he's Selina's "bag man"—except that the Finnish word he's actually using really means "scrotum".
- The Napoleon: Jeff Kane, who Selina refers to as the 'New Hampshire Napoleon', a Cluster F-Bomb dropping campaign manager played by the 5'8 Peter MacNichol.
- Nepotism: How did Jonah Ryan even get a job in the White House? Well, turns out he comes from a very well-connected family that basically wields all the political power in the state of New Hampshire.
- Nerds Are Virgins: In "Midterms," Dan quips that he "can feel his virginity growing back" when Jonah's statisticians begin to argue about The Matrix.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Much like the parent show, most are mish-mashes rather than straight expies.
- Selina Meyer draws several parallels to Hillary Rodham Clinton, but also to Al Gore (a policy wonk relegated to VP status by a failed presidential run), Joe Biden (former Senator from a Mid-Atlantic state with a tendency toward making, ah, awkward statements), and Sarah Palin (a politician criticized for "diva-like" behavior).
- The anti-immigration Senator from Arizona is remarkably similar to (a caricature of) Jon Kyl for someone who looks nothing like Jon Kyl.
- The nerdy data wonk that Dan mocks in "Election Night" is a fairly obvious take on Nate Silver.
- In "Georgia", the leader of the Georgian opposition party is based off of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who was also disfigured by a poisoning likely committed by a political enemy.
- No Name Given: The President, again. He's usually referred as POTUS. At the end of season 3, his name is revealed to be Stuart Hughes.
- No Party Given: Louis-Dreyfus has stated that the show will never reveal Meyer's political party. However, the issues she stands for, and her staff, make it obvious that she is a Democrat:
- Her big push in Season One is "clean jobs," and she's reluctant to make a deal with anti-immigration politicians as a compromise.
- She's from Maryland, a state that hasn't had a Republican Senator since 1986.
- In "Full Disclosure," an unflattering viral video says that she considers herself an environmentalist, and Fox News (overtly Republican) jumps on the embarrassing Secret Service story.
- The line from from Selina's stump speech in "Midterms"—"freedom is 'we'-dom, not 'me'-dom"—is strongly reminiscent of Democratic rhetoric.
- In "Debate" Selina's impromptu 'repel' speech on immigration horrifies her staff, who refer to it as being right-wing.
- If it weren't perfectly obvious before that Selina is a Democrat, it is certainly made obvious in Season 4 finale "Election Night". On the electoral map, Selina's states are colored blue, traditionally the color that denotes Democrats, and her states largely match with Democratic-leaning states while O'Brien's match with Republican-leaning states. Additionally, Selina tells Gary that "a bowl of hair" could win Connecticut and Vermont, two strongly Democratic states that haven't gone Republican since George H.W. Bush was elected in 1988.
- Season 6 premiere "Omaha" has Selina talking about going to a Madison-Monroe dinner, which is an obvious nod to Jefferson-Jackson dinners, a Democratic Party tradition.
- Noodle Incident:
- There is... something... in Selina's garbage, something disturbing enough that Gary and Jonah have to go retrieve it when a private contractor takes away the garbage in "Shutdown".
- In "East Wing" Selina and Gary's confrontation reaches a climax when Gary yells at Selina and she thinks he's referring to "what happened on Labor Day". After Gary assures her that he isn't, their argument ends.
- In "Fundraiser":Selina: "What would you say were the two biggest campaign mistakes that we made?"
Mike: "You looked tired a lot and the hat."
- Non-Answer: Selina's friend Karen in Season 4 is one example of this after another.Selina: Karen, what do you think of Pierce?
Karen: Well, I think there are pros and cons to every candidate, so we just need to weigh out the pros and cons.
- The Nondescript: Lee Patterson, one of the "Expenda-belle" White House interns. A Running Gag is that no one can remember her name.
- Not Hyperbole:
- In "Running", several members of Selina's staff, upon being told that she's walked through a glass door, think that it's a metaphor for something. It's not.
- In "Camp David", Dan calls Selina to tell her that Jonah shot himself in the foot.Selina: Oh, my God. What did he do this time?
Dan: No, he literally shot himself in the foot. We're in the ER.
- Not So Different: After she becomes President and Senator Doyle becomes her vice-president, Selina ignores him as thoroughly as President Hughes ignored her.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: In "Congressional Ball" Congresswoman DiBenedetto, who plays up the image of being an out of touch ditz who barely understands politics, but in reality is a ruthless bitch who exploits Congress for personal wealth. She folds when Selina threatens to sic the IRS on her.
- Oblivious to Their Own Description: Selina blames President Hughes's failed presidency on Ben and Kent:
- Offscreen Breakup: Dan and Amy, Dan and Senator Hallow's daughter, Selina and Andrew to name a few.
- One Steve Limit: inverted, there are two Dans (well, one Dan and one Danny) and two Andrews in the show.
- One-Word Title: The series title and more than half of the episode titles (28 out of 48).
- Only in It for the Money
- From "The Vic Allen Dinner":Selina: Sue, you are incredibly valued here and I was wondering if there was anything we could do to make you wanna stay with us.
Sue: More money, ma'am.
Selina: I'm on it. Welcome back.
Sue: Honor to serve.
- A variation: Selina prefers larger, more generous contributions from campaign donors. You don't get a call from her for 4 grand. When discussing her website:Kent: MeetMeyer.com: everything you want to know about Selina Meyer that we want you to.
Selina: (offhandedly) You should have changed the name to "MoneyMoneyMoney.gov."
- From "The Vic Allen Dinner":
- Open Secret: "Detroit", Selina secretly reveals to Amy that she's sleeping with her personal trainer, Ray. Amy soon finds out that every member of the staff knows this already, except Mike.
- Out with a Bang: Selina's father died while having sex with his secretary. Apparently, the secretary was so traumatized that she had to be institutionalized.
- Parental Neglect:
- Selina pays more attention to her political career than to her daughter, Catherine. Catherine's favorite family vacation was the time the housekeeper took her to Disneyland with her family. In "Alicia", Catherine outright tells her mother that she had a "hard, lonely, miserable life".
- This is a running theme in the Meyer family; when Selina's elderly mother visits the Oval Office, the President is visibly shaken by her presence. The only thing she deigns to comment on is Selina's new short haircut.
- Selina's not alone. Mary King, the House Majority Leader, missed her son's civil union ceremony.
- Selina pays more attention to her political career than to her daughter, Catherine. Catherine's favorite family vacation was the time the housekeeper took her to Disneyland with her family. In "Alicia", Catherine outright tells her mother that she had a "hard, lonely, miserable life".
- Parents in Distress: In "Detroit", when Selina is attacked by a protester, Catherine punches the man in the face.
- The Pollyanna: Richard, the bumbling low-level Meyer campaign worker who becomes Jonah's sidekick in Season 4. His guilelessness and cheery optimism are a humorous contrast to all the other hardened operators that surround Selina.Jonah: Doyle's a lame duck. And you know what you do with lame animals?
Richard: You care for them.
Jonah: You shoot them dead!
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: As a gift, Finnish prime minister presents Selina with a clock commemorating one of Finland's most popular cultural exports, the Angry Birds franchise. Selina has never heard of it.
- Putting the Band Back Together: After spending most of Season 6 in different plotlines, almost all the main cast members join forces once more in the finale to join Selina's new Presidential campaign.
- Precision F-Strike: From Gary of all people!Gary: What the FUCK is wrong with you, Brett? THIS IS NOT A BIG PLACE, THIS IS NOT A BIG PLACE!
- Properly Paranoid: Selina's staff has a meeting, and immediately after it ends, it reconvenes with everyone except Tom James so they can talk about him behind his back. After that meeting adjourns, Mike doubles back to make sure that they're not having a third meeting about him. Ben, the only person left, deadpans "Not today," but as we find out in Catherine's documentary, Selina did in fact hold a meeting about firing Mike just a few moments later.
- Publisher-Chosen Title: In-Universe, Selina's publisher gives her a pick of titles for her pre-campaign memoir. She settles on the bland Some New Beginnings: Our Next American Journey. The other choices were the equally vanilla Footsteps to the Future; Red, White, and You; and Hands of Our Childrennote .Ben: It's so full of shit, there's even a colon right smack-dab in the middle.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Selina actually verbalizes this when slamming Jonah in "Shutdown"."Go period fuck period yourself exclamation point."
- Purple Prose: The speech that Mike wrote for Selina to deliver at the War Memorial Ceremony is chock-full of this. Selina decides to go with Ray's idea of dumbing it down to appeal to blue-collar workers.
- Reality Ensues:
- In the sixth season premiere, Selina is seriously considering making another run for President. Ben has to sit her down and point blank lay it out for her: As far as the public is concerned, Selina is the second least effective President in history (only ahead of William Henry Harrison because he died after one month in office) and her run was so bad that people honestly believe her successor, Laura Montez, should be considered the first female President. Ben bluntly tells Selina there is no chance in hell the party will possibly support her in a Presidential bid and no donor is crazy enough to back her as an independent. It takes his blunt talk for Selina to finally realize her dreams of returning to the White House are just that.
- When Jonah becomes a Congressman, his Hair-Trigger Temper and sheer incompetence alienate all of his colleagues and tank his approval ratings.
- When it comes out that Selina was the one who really created the Tibet freedom deal, the public and press turn on Montez massively for taking credit for it. The Nobel committee moves to take back her Peace Prize and the public now sees Selina in a far more sympathetic light and more popular than ever before for having her greatest achievement robbed from her.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- In the second season episode "Andrew", Ed gives a brief but harsh one to Jonah:"Jonah, you're not even a man. You're like an early draft of a man, where they just sketched out a giant mangled skeleton, but they didn't have time to add details, like pigment or self-respect. You're Frankenstein's monster, if his monster was made entirely of dead dicks."
- In "Convention", Amy's frustrations erupt into a truly epic rant first towards Selina's new adviser Karen who never says anything specific, then towards Selina herself."I have bitten my tongue so long, it looks like a dog's cushion. But no more! You have made it impossible to do this job. You have two settings — no decision and bad decision. I wouldn't let you run a bath without having the Coast Guard and the fire department standing by, but yet here you are running America. You are the worst thing that has happened to this country since food in buckets and maybe slavery. I've had enough. I'm gone."...[leaves, comes back a few seconds later]..."You have achieved nothing apart from one thing. The fact that you are a woman means we will have no more women presidents because we tried one and she fucking sucked. Goodbye, ma'am."
- In the second season episode "Andrew", Ed gives a brief but harsh one to Jonah:
- Retirony: In "Hostages", a marine loses a leg on a rescue operation. Unfortunately for him, he was scheduled to be rotated out a few days later. Selina had a choice between two dates for the mission, but chose the earlier one to upstage Sue. Had she chosen the other one, he would have not taken part in the operation.
- Ripped from the Headlines:
- Season 2 went down this way, with plotlines inspired by the 2010 midterm elections, the Osama Bin Laden raid/Iranian student hostage crisis, the fiscal cliff negotiations and the government shutdown.
- In Season 1, one of the interns in Selina's office pulls a piece about Governor Danny Chung not "being an American" when he was born when tasked to research Governor Chung, which was almost exactly like the birther conspiracy surrounding Barack Obama around the time he was elected.
- The "Get Moving" campaign to combat obesity that Selina spearheads on the recommendation of POTUS is almost exactly like the "Let's Move" campaign (to combat childhood obesity) spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama.
- Selina's blunder in "Debate" (see Alliterative List above) was inspired by Rick Perry's infamous "Oops!" gaffe after he forgot one of his talking points during a 2012 Republican presidential debate.
- Jonah's White House gossip blog (WestWingman.net) and his subsequent sacking is not too dissimilar to the firing of Jofi Joseph, a former National Security aide who tweeted under the handle @NatSecWonk.
- During her visit to London, Selina and her team are grilled over spying on their allies, including the United Kingdom, which is identical to the current ongoing NSA surveillance scandal which targeted US allies.
- The Rival: In Season 1, Selina sees veteran and Governor of Minnesota Danny Chung as this to her position as Vice President. In season 3, her biggest rivals to become the party presidential nominee are Governor Chung, former Sec. Def. George Maddox, and ex-MLB manager Joe Thornhill.
- Romance on the Set: Two in-universe examples in Season 6:
- Dan's first co-anchor Jane invokes this by starting rumors that she and Dan are having an affair so the network won't think that she's too old to be an anchor.
- Dan is later revealed to be having an actual affair with his second co-anchor, Brie. Ironically, Dan and Brie's manager yells at them because audiences don't think that they have much chemistry.
- Running Gag:
- In Season 1, Selina constantly asks whether the President has called. He never does.
- In second season premiere "Midterms", the President finally calls, and gives Selina a new role in foreign policy after she was judged to be an asset in the midterm elections. The gag was since dropped.
- In the season 3, there was a Call-Back in the form of a throwaway gag about how the President won't stop calling, followed by Selina being asked to call someone when she becomes the president.
- Amy's bland boyfriend Ed has three times been in the room for important announcements he shouldn't have heard, just because everyone forgets he was there.
- There's a lot of running gags revolving Selina and her rivals, frequently lampshaded.
- Danny Chung can't make a public appearance without mentioning being a soldier and a Noodle Incident where he pulled another soldier from a burning tank.
- Joe Thornhill can't make a public appearance without mentioning baseball.
- Roger Furlong's main role in Season 3 seems to be to lampshade these:"I was pretty disappointed in Governor Chung's performance but I did learn that he used to be a soldier, learned that several times."
Imitating Thornhill: "I don't know anything about NAFTA, but I do know about baseball. Baseball, baseball, baseball. Look at my muscly chest, vote for me."
- In Season 5 Catherine is doing a film school project, prompting Selina to yell "Catherine, out!" after particularly damaging outbursts, followed by the reveal that she was standing in the corner filming it.
- Selina's vacations after losing elections:Selina: It's not an insane asylum, it was a spa.
- In Season 1, Selina constantly asks whether the President has called. He never does.
- Satire: Well, obviously. Unlike The Thick of It, however, Veep leans to the Juvenalian very slightly, with dips into Horatian territory. The biggest reason is probably the absence of a Malcolm-type character; instead of the dictates from Upstairs coming in the mouth of a violent Glaswegian spin-doctor, they come from the saddest schmuck in the District.
- Selina's speech gaffe is called "retardgate".
- In "C**tgate", this gets a massive Lampshade Hanging as Mike and reporters bicker over whether or not someone in the West Wing calling Selina a cunt qualifies as a "gate".
- Scatterbrained Senior: Bob Bradley. A once great Secretary of State, by the time he's called into help out the Meyer camp in the Nevada recount he can't even remember that Meyer is president.
- Scully Box: Used in-universe: Gary has a folding stepping stool in his bag for Selina to use during speeches when the lectern is too tall. This is understandable, given that Julia Louis-Dreyfus is 5'3". In Season 3, when Selina is campaigning for the nomination, she gets a crate—reinforced with titanium, costing $1200. The reveal that Selina is standing on a $1200 crate causes her some embarrassment.
- Self-Abuse: When Richard agrees to be a sperm donor for Catherine, he reveals that he never masturbated before because his religious family taught him that it's a sin.
- Separated by a Common Language: Some of this leads to a misunderstanding where "Daniwah!" becomes an In-Universe Memetic Mutation.note Amy: They're laughing at her like a toddler they taught to swear!
- Series Fauxnale: The Season 5 finale, "Inauguration", has all the trappings of a series finale, as Selina leaves office and her staff moves on to various things. But by the time it aired, the series had already been renewed for a sixth season.
- Sex with the Ex: Selina has casual sex with her ex-husband in season 2 and 3.
- Shaped Like Itself: "Midterms," when Selina is being interviewed in the morning shows.Selina: Well, we are the United States of America because we are united, and we are states, and we are of America.
- Selina's outfit that she wears to the First World War's centennial memorial service in "Special Relationship" is one to Eliza Doolitle's Ascot Gavotte outfit, right down to the color scheme and the giant hat. Dan explicitly calls this a "Reverse- My Fair Lady" scheme to appeal to blue-collar voters.
- Tom James mocks Ben's ineptness by joking that only one nuke going off at the Super Bowl is as bad a one congressman being played by both sides of the anti-Family First bill team.
- Skewed Priorities:
- In "Mommy Meyer", Selina is more concerned that the White House intruder didn't know her name then the fact that he was ranting about killing her.
- In "Justice", when Selina's doctor tells her that she's just had a minor heart attack, she's too busy being relieved that the symptoms don't mean she's undergoing menopause.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: In "Congressional Ball", Selina confronts Tom James about trying to get the Presidency for himself behind her back. They have a shouting match... then end up having sex.
- The Sociopath: The show is giving less-subtle hints that Dan seems to be of the high-functioning variety. The fact that he reveals that he killed a stray dog as a child to win a dare leaves little room for doubt. He later claims that he once "broke off an engagement at an Applebee's and then ordered dessert."
- Soft Glass: Soft enough to walk through, not soft enough to not cut your face all to hell. ("Running").
- Something Completely Different: Fourth-season episode "Testimony" consists in its entirety of just that, testimony given by Selina and members of her administration in a Congressional hearing and depositions. It is viewed solely from the perspective of C-SPAN footage and recorded legal depositions.
- Spanner in the Works: Despite the machinations of Selina and her team, the President always manages to throw a monkey wrench into their plans. From pulling his support for filibuster reform and the clean jobs initiative, to quashing the debt ceiling budget deal that Selina successfully negotiates, to the sudden pro-life stance, really the only good things that the President has done for Selina were to first announce his intention not to run for reelection, and then ultimately stepping down as president.
- Speak Ill of the Dead:
- In "Detroit", when Selina is told that journalist Emily LaFuente was killed in a shooting, her immediate reaction is: "Emily LaFuente, the journalist? She was a vicious bitch and a fucking drunk."
- The beginning of the first season mentions the death of Senator Reeves, who Senator Hallowes calls "Rapey Reeves," and whose memorial service Selina attends in "Catherine." Selina recalls their first meeting where he fondled her left breast.
- Spiritual Successor: The show is a spiritual successor to The Thick of It and In the Loop. Several characters in Veep are very similar to the American characters from In the Loop, and a number of actors in In the Loop appear in Veep.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: In-Universe, Tom James to Selina after she chooses him as her running mate. At almost every campaign visit Tom receives way more attention, to Selina's chagrin.
- Springtime for Hitler: There is a variation in the episode "B/Ill." Throughout season 4, Selina has been hoping her Families First Bill would gain traction, but after the first data breach, public opinion turns sour, so by the time of the House vote, she and her team spend much of the episode trying their best to quash the bill in the sidelines so her campaign doesn't end in disaster. However, while it is voted down by one vote, their suspicious closed-door activities incur a congressional investigation in the next episode.
- Stage Whisper: Given how mutually abusive everyone in Washington is, it's possible they're just ignoring her, but it's pretty conspicuous how nobody seems to react to Selina shit-talking them to her staff literally five feet away.
- The Starscream: Tom James. Every time he 'helps' Meyer, it blows up in her face while making him look like a better candidate. Comes to a head in the season 4 finale when he realizes there's a chance to steal the presidency and goes with it by giving a victory speech for himself instead of the ticket. Meyer catches on, however, and says he's gonna have to fight for it.
- Happens again in "Congressional Ball" when James lobbies members of the House to abstain from voting, which, due to his popularity and knowledge of the Senate rules, will get him elected president in the Senate.
- Season 5 reveals that James is in fact maneuvering to deadlock the House vote so he will become acting President.
- Status Quo Is God: At the beginning of season 3, Jonah is fired from his job as the White House Liaison to the VP's office. Come season 4, he's back at his old job.
- Stealth Insult: Quite a few have been directed at Selina.
- In "Frozen Yoghurt" when she finally arrives several hours late at the yoghurt shop she had planned on visiting as part of come goodwill promotion.Selina: Do you have any Jamaican rum?
Shopowner: I'm sorry, I don't. And I've also thrown out all the "Strawberry Selina." It had a bad taste.
- In "Hostages," when she and Secretary of Defense Maddox are trading barbs and dancing around the topic of the hostage rescue.
- In "Special Relationship," when she visits a London pub in order to boost her ratings among blue-collar workers.Selina: What am I having? What would you recommend that I have at this lovely place?
Deputy PM: How about a nice Pinot Noir?
Selina: Oh, that sounds lovely—
Deputy PM: No, I'm joking, that's a—you won't—um. I think you look like a bitter person. (Beat) Which is a type of beer.
- In "Frozen Yoghurt" when she finally arrives several hours late at the yoghurt shop she had planned on visiting as part of come goodwill promotion.
- Stepford Smiler: Catherine, as the daughter of a career politician, is forced to put up a happy front even when she doesn't feel happy. This becomes greatly magnified when Selina becomes president. When practicing her smile:Selina: That's right, honey! No, no, no, that looks good! That looks happy! Even if you're not happy: that's the trick.
- The Stoic: Majorie Palmiotti, Selina's new bodyguard in Season 5. She's a Secret Service agent so it goes with the job. When she and Catherine reveal they're a couple, she explains that it's why she's been so bubbly, which Selina just looks confused at.
- Story Arc: The "clean jobs" bill in season 1; the hostage crisis and the resulting scandal in season 2; Selina running for President in season 3 and 4; Team Selina trying desperately to break the tied vote in her favor in the House in season 5; Selina's memoir and presidential library in season 6.
- Stunned Silence: In "Inauguration", everyone in the Roosevelt Room has nothing to say when Vice President Doyle casts the deciding Senate vote in favor of Senator Montez rather than Tom James.
- Suddenly Sexuality: In fifth-season episode "C**tgate", Catherine comes out as a lesbian. In Season 2 she had a boyfriend, an Iranian student named Rahim, and in Season 4 she was engaged to be married to a lobbyist named Jason.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:
- In "Justice", Mike tells the media that there is no truth to the rumors that Montez is planning on nominating Selina to fill a recently vacated Supreme Court seat. This leads to massive media speculation that eventually forces Montez to put Selina on her shortlist. President Hughes gets nominated instead.
- In "Judge", Jonah gets upset that Montez's assistant Candi doesn't trust Jonah alone with Montez, causing him to utter "I'm not going to rape the President," which makes things much worse for him.
- The Swear Jar: Furlong is normally incredibly foul-mouthed, but puts on a wholesome facade in front of his wife, who makes him use a swear jar for saying words like "damn" or "crud".
- Swivel-Chair Antics: A scene in the first season has Selina idly spinning in her chair. It was used in commercials.
- The Tag: Scenes at the end of every episode continue well into the credits.
- Tagline: For the first season, it's "The buck stops somewhere near here." The second season has "Diplomacy in action." The third season has "Boldly running for president. Proudly standing for everything." The fourth season has "Our land is her land".
- Taking the Bullet: Discussed Trope in "Frozen Yoghurt". Dan challenges Gary on whether he'd take a bullet for Selina. Later in the episode, which centered on a flu virus spreading around Washington, Gary takes a sneeze for Selina, stepping in the way of a man who has the flu. Selina still gets it, probably from Gary.
- Take That!: Towards numerous issues.
- At one point, a mass shooting happens, and the staff mentions using a "thoughts and prayers" tweet template for those occasions, referencing the controversy over political figures tweeting that they'll keep the incident in their thoughts and prayers yet a number of them support gun ownership, raising the question of whether or not they'll take action to keep similar events from happening again.
- Take The Third Option
- In "The Vic Allen Dinner":Speaker of the House: Amy, now am I getting older, or are you getting younger?
Amy: We're both getting older.
Speaker: That's th-the third option. That's great stuff.
- In "The Choice":Dan: That's right, and as Vice President, here's your choice. Two doors: pro-choice, pro-life. That's it.
Selina: Is there a third door?
Amy: What, like a women's door?
Dan: A back door? No.
Gary: A trap door. (Everyone turns to look at him funny)
- In "The Vic Allen Dinner":
- Talks Like a Simile: Characters use comedic similes quite often.
- Thanksgiving Episode: Season 5's "Thanksgiving", in which Selina pardons a turkey while dealing with the fallout from the tied election, and Dan has an unpleasant encounter with Amy's dad over turkey dinner.
- That Came Out Wrong:
- In "Signals," when Selina is talking to her daughter via iPad:Selina: (To Mike) Stop it! Stop it, you're freaking me out!
Catherine: Freaking you out?
Selina: No, honey, not you Catherine, it was - it was Mike, he had you on top of his body. No, that came out wrong.
- In "Debate," we get this gem:
- Kent when talking about a female staff member:Kent: Her name is Leigh and she's a fine staffer. I see splashes of myself in her. (beat) ...and now I regret that phrase.
- In "Signals," when Selina is talking to her daughter via iPad:
- Transatlantic Equivalent: Of British satire The Thick of It.
- Truth in Television:
- The Vice Presidency is an office with no official duties other than presiding over the Senate and casting tie-breaking Senate votes, and is notorious as a graveyard for political influence.
- However, the show has attracted some criticism for playing on the old sterotype of the Vice President being powerless and ignored, since every VP since Mondale, with the possible exception of Dan Quayle, has been in the President's inner circle.
- Twitchy Eye: In "Debate", Selina gets a twitchy eye before the first debate between the presidential candidates. It ends up working to her advantage; when an audience member asks a question from one of her main rivals, George Maddox, he's distracted by Selina's eye and gives a very embarrassing answer.
- Twofer Token Minority: In season 4, Senator O'Brien's pick for veep is one Senator Montez. Selina is horrified.Selina: (After listing Senator Montez's attributes) She's a woman! She's fucking ethnic!
- The Unfavorite: VP Meyer seems to be this within the administration.
- The Unsmile: Amy's attempt at giving a flirtatious smile with a reporter for favorable coverage is fairly horrifying.
- Vice-President Who?:
- The Series, in the first two seasons, as Meyer is ignored by the administration, mocked by the media, forced to make goodwill visits to yogurt shops, etc.
- In season four after Selina becomes President, she treats her own veep, Doyle in a similar manner. Doyle remarks: "Cycle of abuse continues."
- Completely averted with Tom James. See Spotlight-Stealing Squad above.
- Vindicated by History: In-Universe Example: In the sixth season finale Selina's diary is made public, revealing that Selina was the one behind the Tibet freedom deal that Montez took credit for. As the public turns on Montez massively, they also now see Selina in a new light by making this deal and having it stolen from her and her Presidency is no longer regarded as a massive failure. Selina is able to use this new popularity to boost her run for the office again.
- Walk and Talk: It's a 21st-century Government Procedural. What on Earth do you expect? Lampshaded in "The Morning After" when Mike and Sue compare how many steps they've taken during the day. Mike is flabbergasted that Sue manages to outdo him with ease.
- Wham Episode:
- "Crate", where President Hughes resigns, making Selina president.
- "Kissing Your Sister", where Selina loses the presidency.
- "Groundbreaking", where Selina decides to leverage her popularity surge from the public learning she freed Tibet to run for President again, Catherine and Marjorie's son is born, Amy reveals to Dan that she's pregnant with his child, and Jonah decides to run for president with Sherman Tanz's backing.
- Wham Line: In "Crate". "Ma'am, you're about to become the 45th president".
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Selina seems to have a fear of missing limbs; she tells her staff not to pick a dog with a missing leg in "Catherine", and is extremely shaken by the thought of a Marine who lost his leg in "Hostages".
- World of Snark Selina, Dan, Amy, Mike, Kent, Ben, Sue... pretty much everyone is a snarker in the show, except Gary and Jonah (and even he has a few moments).
- World's Smallest Violin: Dan inverts this in "D.C." when he plays "the world's largest cello" after having heard one too many of Chung's stories about the war.
- Yes-Man: Selina's old friend Karen, brought into the administration in Season 4, who can't seem to do anything other than repeat what Selina and other people have already said.
- You Just Told Me: How Dan gets Jonah to admit that he (Jonah) is the "westwingman.net" blogger.
- Your Mom:
- Mike to Dan in "Signals":Dan: Nice wheels Mike; is it new?
Mike: Not quite. Like your mother, it's been previously loved and paid for by a couple of guys.
- In "D.C.", Dan's response when he is asked whether Selina plagiarized a speech:Dan: Was your mom plagiarizing the Bible when she said 'oh God oh God'?
- Mike to Dan in "Signals":