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  • Anvilicious: Happens from time to time. The series has touched on various political and social issues in New Zealand from drug use to teenage driving. In some cases, Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped.
  • Arc Fatigue: A trademark of the show's most recent Dork Age. Arc Villains would take the longest time to get caught with fans tiring of the dragging and often boring storylines.
  • Ass Pull: You really would think someone would have mentioned an active volcano in Ferndale at least once prior to the show's 25th Anniversary, wouldn't you?
  • Base-Breaking Character:
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    • Sarah Potts is either an interesting protagonist, a strong woman who had some interesting storylines and died in a tragic fashion or a boring, wishy-washy whiner whose entire tenure on the show consisted of jerking multiple men around and not being able to decide what she wants and was around for far, far too long.
    • Dawn Robinson is either a funny character who makes the show interesting or an annoying bimbo who gets far too much time dedicated toward her.
  • Cry for the Devil: While not evil evil, Zoe Carlson was a liar and a manipulator who faked cancer to keep her job, seduced her boss Chris after falling for him, fell in love with his son Finn and tried to leave Chris for Finn and damaged the relationship between Chris and Finn. Still, even she didn't deserved to be beaten and raped by the Ferndale Serial Rapist aka the Beechwood Beast.
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  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The show entered a Dork Age from 2010-2015 because the writers decided to make nearly every new character an unlikable anti-social scumbag and made the entire cast a bunch of back-stabbing jerks who couldn't get along with each other. It's hard to care about a show when the characters are all genuinely bad people save one or two.
  • Dork Age:
    • The first half of The New '10s were not the show's finest years. Boring storylines coupled with awful characters and repeated attempts to recapture the magic of Joey and Ethan led to an unnecessary number of antagonistic or otherwise creepy and unlikable characters, old characters brought back retaining few of their old traits, no respect for the show's heritage, lazy, uninspired writing and Critical Research Failure led to the show's ratings slipping. Luckily, new writers and a new production crew seem to have turned the show around, as evidenced by a very well-received 25th anniversary episode.
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    • An example of this in the early years of the show was the 1995-1996 period where most of the original cast had left and were replaced with characters who while not as outright awful as the ones from 2010-2015 were still incredibly dull and unmemorable with a few exceptions here and there. For example, Dr Mckenna was replaced with the unpopular Julia Thornton who was written out of the show within a year of getting there and was replaced with David Kearney as the clinic's CEO. While Michael Mckenna and David Kearney are well-remembered, popular characters, Julia... isn't.
    • Happened again in 2000, with most of the cast being written out in 2001 and replaced by new characters entirely. In fact, very few characters from the 90's lasted past 2001 with only a small handful sticking around.
    • The show is firmly entrenched in another one of these as of 2018. Constant use of swear words to sound edgy, increased time given to the show's unnecessary comedy characters, ridiculously unrealistic and inappropriately risque storylines such as Drew and Harper having a threesome with their nanny, characters like Drew being turned into parodies of themselves, badly written villains, characters being unrealistically stupid and unpleasant and what seems like an attempt to turn the show into a cringe comedy have gone down like a lead balloon leading to calls for the writing team and the producers to be given the boot before they do irreparable damage to the show.
  • Ending Fatigue: Youn's arc in 2011 dragged on. By the time he finally left, his story seemed to have ended at least twice before the writers sent him packing.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Many characters over the years have become this, most notably Nick Harrison, whose original character was retooled from a drug-abusing badboy into a goofy good guy with a comedic side. A similar thing happened to Shortland Street's IT guy Damo Johnson- originally created to be a goofy nuisance and run-ins with popular characters such as Chris Warner and Mo Hannah, Damo became one of the more popular characters of the mid 10's because of his amusingly socially incompetent personality, rather than in spite of it. Damo became so popular in fact that his sporadic appearances were streamlined into a more regular role.
    • The same thing happened with Luke Durville. Originally introduced as a suspect for the Ferndale Strangler due to his somewhat quirky personality, Luke became a constant fan favourite even during the show's Dork Age due to his Adorkable personality and eventual romantic pairing with fellow Ensemble Dark Horse Bella Cooper.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Shane Cortese earned a lot of female attention playing the psychotic Dominic Thompson.
    • More than one person out there must have fully been on-board with Ethan Pierce's fetish for sexual domination and humiliation.
  • Foe Yay: Happens a lot given the nature of the show. TK Samuels and Brooke Freeman went from ripping each other's heads off to ripping each others' clothes off in the space of a few months.
  • Franchise Original Sin:
    • The success of Guy Warner returning all drug-addled and different to who he was lead to a spate of returns of older characters Hone Ropata, Grace Kwan, Zac Smith and Jonathon Mckenna as poorly written, severely altered characters albeit played by the original actors. To say viewers weren't impressed outside of Guy is an understatement.
    • Joey Henderson and Ethan Pierce being so popular lead to repeated attempts over the next 8 or so years to replicate their success. What we got were a bunch of unpopular characters and a new Dork Age.
  • Fridge Horror: Upon being revealed as the Ferndale Strangler, we were slowly shown what Joey Henderson was up to when choosing his victims via footage he filmed of himself in his lock-up. The fridge horror kicks in after being shown how he treated Alice Piper after kidnapping her while unsuccessfully trying to bump her off. Imagine being one of the girls he killed, being kidnapped for God-only-knows-what reason, waking up tied to a bed in a make-shift operation room, being conscious while being operated on by a psycho pretending to be a doctor and then being violently strangled to death. *shudder*
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Any scene with Rene Naufahu playing a nice friendly guy when it comes to women is incredibly awkward given his sexual assault conviction.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Olivia Tennet's character Tuesday laments to Sophie McKay (played by Kimberley Crossman) that she doesn't want to be seen as "a violin-playing music nerd." Tennet went on to portray a violin-playing teen genius in Power Rangers RPM.
    • On Shortland Street, Olivia Tennet played the daughter of drug addict Guy Warner (played by Craig Parker). In Underbelly NZ: Land of the Long Green Cloud, she plays Julie Theilman, a real-life drug runner and heroin addict.
  • Ho Yay: A signature of many brohoods in Ferndale over the years. Young cult escapee Ezra thought Drew Mccaskill and Boyd Rolleston were a couple in 2017. A lot of people aren't entirely sure he's wrong.
  • Hollywood Homely: Chris Warner once described Emily Devine as "one of the most physically unattractive women I've ever met." Michaela Rooney is FAR from ugly.
  • Idiot Plot: A lot of dumb plots took place during that same time period to try and bring some "light-heartedness" which often backfired. One episode in 2012 had a point of view cat-and-mouse chase featuring Luke Durville's cat trying to catch a mouse within the hospital. It was as ridiculous as it sounds.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: Yeah, they're gonna *totally* kill the last original character left and the guy they build entire casts of family members around with cancer out of nowhere.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • From the very first episode: "You're not in Guatemala now, Dr. Ropata."
    • "Please tell me that is NOT your penis!" Explanation 
  • Narm:
    • Any of Tash Keddy's attempts at showing emotion turn into this given this his idea of "acting" seems to be "whine your dialogue when distressed."
    • Tom and Marj Neilson's arguments early on when the show first went to air were this, albeit intentional as they were supposed to be a run-of-the-mill uncool over-the-hill couple.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • When he first appeared, Lionel Skeggins was a pretty obnoxious guy. Cue a romance with Kirsty Knight and a personality change to make him less annoying, and Lionel became a fan favourite for the rest of his time on the show.
    • TK went from being a fan-favourite, to a scrappy, to being a case of this trope in the course of 10 years. At the end of 2016, TK reverted back to his original personality, becoming more laid-back than the aggressive, unpopular alpha male he had become.
    • Harry Warner became less of a caustic brat in his teen years. While this can be chalked up to Harry growing up, it can also be Depending on the Writer too, since his new personality coincided with new writers coming aboard the show.
    • A whole cast version of this trope happened between 2014 and 2015. After several years of trying to craft the next big villain and instead giving us a cast full of backstabbers and unlikable jerks, new writers took over and crafted several new fan-favourite characters and even gave new life to previously disliked characters.
  • So Bad, It's Good: The show itself during its first 6 months or so. Wooden acting, cheesy scripts, low production values and dated societal values even for New Zealand in 1992 (Oh no! Alison is living with two men! Oh lord, Meredith had a child out of wedlock when she was a teenager! Whatever shall we do? Sam is a Christian, but he gambled!) along with unsubtle and over the top caricatures (The racist ambulance officer who replaced Tom Neilson) made the show charming but with an extreme fromage factor.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • It's pretty obvious in an October 2004 episode where Dominic Thompson is supposed to be standing in an airport that Shane Cortese is not standing in an airport. The weird camera angle doesn't help any, either.
    • Joey's death was done pretty poorly. They cut from Joey stepping off of his lock-up to an obvious dummy dressed in the actor's clothes falling before cutting to Johnny Barker on the ground, bleeding.
  • Stoic Woobie: After Richard Thornton fell from a roof and broke his neck, Julia Thornton didn't cry when it happened, didn't cry at his funeral, kept going running the clinic like nothing happened and then finally broke down one night after an argument with her son James.
  • Take That, Scrappy!:
    • Ula Levi finally telling Leanne Miller off after months of pronouncing her name "EW-La."
    • In the 2017 finale, Ali Karim and Spotlight-Stealing Squad Dawn Robinson were about to kiss under the mistletoe after months of tension. Instead, the drunk Ali projectile vomited all over Dawn. Rather cathartic given the amount of time the young Motor Mouth Dawn had been getting in the 4 months since she'd been introduced.
  • The Scrappy:
    • There have been many characters over the years who met this description. A significant number were present in the early 2010's, but a special mention as far as recent years has to go out to Blue Nathan for being a Wangst-filled Emo Teen whose personality isn't helped by Tash Keddy's subpar acting which consists of whining all of his dialogue.
    • Ana Fa'asolo was a scrappy in the 90's due to being a whiny, arrogant and self-centered character who stuck around too long.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: What the fuck was the point in bringing back original character Sam Aleni after 18 years, doing a storyline with his mother using the same actress from the show's early years and have actor Rene Naufahu do interviews saying he'd be happy to stick around only to get rid of Sam by having him hook up with Vasa Levi at the last minute and leave simply because Teuila Blakely's real life problems became too much for her to handle? That said, there are those who think it may have something to do with the trouble Rene Naufahu got in in real life...
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Interestingly, two in one storyline. Finn Warner hooked up with his father's pregnant girlfriend Zoe Carlson during a period of time the writers were trying to make Zoe sympathetic in her relationship with Chris and do a redemption arc for wifebeater Finn. Unfortunately, Zoe has been a manipulative liar and one of many recent scrappies on the show being incredibly unpopular with the fans, and Finn even during his periods of being a good guy is an incredibly arrogant little rich boy who clearly revels in being a rich surgeon who thinks he is above people like rival Curtis Hannah. To top it off, Zoe and Finn are being targeted as part of equally unpopular character Te Rongopai Rameka's hatred for the Warner family. No matter how much we're meant to feel for Zoe and Finn, one is a liar and the other a borderline narcissist. It's not happening.
    • Te Rongopai. Her husband cheated on her with his secretary, yes, and Te Rongopai is meant to be a strong, self-made woman. But she's also an arrogant, self-centered hypocrite, denouncing Chris Warner for being a sexist and using nepotism to help his family while getting her nephew a job at the hospital AND being a racist herself.
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