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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Donna. For some fans, she's the quirky girl-next-door who's also a feminist and independent. Others see her as vindictive and manipulative, especially in her relationship with Eric. During their relationship, she'd get mad at Eric for things that weren't his fault, Donna also made Eric give her money every time he referenced one of his interests and would use feminism and sex to win arguments. When she ditched Eric for HOURS to hang out with Ted Nugent, Donna saw no problem with what she had done and saw no reason to apologize. Eric brought the situation to his parents, and Kitty said she would have apologized to Red if she were to do that to him. When Eric says this to Donna, she says that's only because Red and Kitty are married and she still refuses to apologize. When Donna and Eric do break up (for the first time) it's because Donna's worried about being "chained down" to Eric and Point Place. Eric had only given her a promise ring and had never made any indication of undermining her future or interests, only asking if they were together in the hypothetical futures she brought up. But when they are broken up, Donna constantly insults him, messes up his chances of moving on, and leads him on with possibilities of them getting back together.
  • Acceptable Targets:
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    • In this universe, Canada is an entire nation of Butt Monkeys. At least in one episode.
    • Laurie was considered fair game because of what a complete bitch she was, and that made it okay to make fun of how she sleeps around.
      • Likewise, Kelso's status as the Butt-Monkey of the cast was due in part to sleeping around behind Jackie's back. Not only did none of the characters feel any sympathy for the misery that resulted from this, they would occasionally make it worse.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Donna. Some people like her and thinks she adds a lot of funny moments to the show, others think she's a Jerkass and a hypocrite who uses feminism to get her way in an argument or some other aspect of her life when she has shown she's not above acting like a stereotypical woman if it benefits her somehow. The fact that she often overacts to some of the smaller things Eric has done and treats him like crap even when he really hasn't done anything wrong and never gets called out on it doesn't help.
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    • Laurie, for those who see her as a perfect Token Evil Teammate to the main group and who gets a lot of the funniest lines in the show, to those who find her antagonism completely over-the-top and based on nothing but a weak For the Evulz / Spoiled Brat explanation and otherwise is mainly just defined throughout the show by a bunch of cheap Really Gets Around jokes.
  • Catharsis Factor: For people who didn't like Laurie, seeing karma hit her starting in the second half of season two, starting in "Laurie Moves Out" where Red catches her in the act of having sex. He forgives her, but sheds the rose-colored lenses he had in previous episodes when it came to her. This is followed by moments of her still acting like he has that demeanor going as well as you'd expect. Especially where she tries to defend her relationship with Kelso with the "But I love him!" argument and slowly realizing he's not buying it. In particular, viewers who were mad at Eric being unable to expose Laurie's affair with the professor and allowing Laurie the opportunity to play for sympathy would enjoy Eric realizing that she was born with a tail, much to her horror, and people who disliked the way she got zero blame for essentialy derailing Kelso and Laurie's relationship will like Jackie physically attacking her in "Cat Fight Club".
  • Creator's Pet:
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    • Randy. Apparently the writers assumed if all of the characters thought that he was perfect, so would the audience.
      "Randy is perfect. That lady at the fair who did the caricatures? She refused to draw him cause she couldn't find a flaw."
    • For many people, Donna. The fact that she's always portrayed as being in the right even when she really isn't and her overall treatment of Eric in their relationship are just two of the many other sore spots people have with her as a character.
  • Critical Research Failure: In the Veterans' Day episode, Red and Bob both throw barbecues and everyone is dressed for summer weather. Veterans' Day is November 11, late fall and well past barbecue season, and even in warmer climates it isn't known as a barbecue holiday. Having it instead be Memorial Day would have been more logical, since that falls in May and is known for barbecues.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: "Grandma's Dead", where Eric's grandmother dies as he is driving her home. Seeing Grandma Foreman's lifeless body flop around in Eric's passenger seat, or having Kelso crawl over her to reach his 8-Track, would not be nearly as funny if the viewers had not wanted to kill the character themselves.
  • Designated Villain:
    • Kelso occasionally. He was a jerk, but sometimes he was portrayed as the bad guy when he was really being reasonable. When he lent Jackie his van and she smashed it, he reasonably wants her to pay to have it fixed, but Jackie refuses because she bought him gifts while they were together.
    • Eric himself, especially in regards to his relationship with Donna. The show tries to display him as an idiotic pervert at times who believes too much in old fashioned waysnote , but more often than not he makes far more convincing arguments than the writers intended, especially when some of the points Donna tries to make border-line on flatout domestic/emotional abuse.
    • Red can get this treatment, despite his thorough "Well Done, Son!" Guy and The Unfavorite relationship with Eric, his supposedly hard-line modes of discipline can seem rather reasonable and far from severve (and whenever it does stray to Kick the Dog territory he's always called out on it). Given this makes sense since it's often an In-Universe reaction from Eric.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Sad sack Roy Keene (played by Jim Gaffigan) only appeared occasionally but ended up very popular.
  • Fanfic Fuel: The finale cut off at the very last second of 1979, and never featured a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue or Distant Finale. Many fanfic writers came up with their own, and given how things turned out in Season 8, most of these are Fix Fics.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Many fans refuse to acknowledge the existence of the eighth season and prefer the cut-off to be somewhere mid-seventh season.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Hyde/Jackie, which is also a subversion; the two were together for a large chunk of the series (about 3 seasons), but officially ended in season seven after some other temporary break ups. They were very popular with the fandom because they were seen as a surprisingly stable relationship in comparison to Eric and Donna's constant arguments, a stability that only compared to Red and Kitty's relationship. There was a reason why Kelso wanted them to be his daughter's godparents. Hyde's actor Danny Masterson has even tweeted his agreement with the fans that were disappointed Jackie and Hyde didn't end up together.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • The next to last episode of season 2, "Cat Fight Club", features Red fantasizing about the year 1997 and bemoaning Laurie dating Kelso with the declaration that he'll "have a heart attack before [he] gets his jetpack." At the time, a crack about how we still don't have jetpacks in 2000 was funny, but it became this as of the season 5 finale, "Celebration Day", when Red really does have a (non-fatal) heart attack as a result of hearing Laurie and Fez got married so the latter will stay in the country. Additionally, in another episode, Red faked a heart attack to get Kitty off his ass about his health.
    • The episode "Grandma's Dead" does have a heartbreaking real world example though during the otherwise hilarious funeral scene when each character observes Grandma Forman's open casket and we hear the thoughs that run through their head. Laurie reflects on how life is complicated because you "get all old and die... thank God I'm young and hot!" In light of the death of actress Lisa Robin Kelly at the age of 43, it's cringe-inducing.
    • When Hyde took the fall for Jackie buying pot, some of the gang makes cracks about Hyde becoming someone's "girlfriend" in jail. Danny Masterson was fired from The Ranch after allegations arose that he committed rape.
    • There was a scene from the episode where the gang goes to a wrestling match. After it was announced on TV, Donna starts wrestling Eric and she laughingly exclaims that Eric isn't fighting back, cut to Hyde's deadpan "Why would he?". Back then, it was funny because Eric wouldn't dare fight back someone who is attractive as Donna if it meant getting to her; now looks more acute with how Masterson was alleged to have raped women.
    • The tv show's jokes about Big Rhonda's size (especially in contrast to thinner, more glamourous celebs on the show), how the show elevated women of a certain beauty (slim, full-ish breasts, long legs, small toned waistlines), and at the least Jackie's comments about chubby Bess and how girls who gained Holiday weight need to stay in and let "prettier" girls like her get the boys have aged poorly especially after Laura Prepon (who fit the criteria for hotness by the show's standards) released a 2020 memoir where she admitted to being bulimic from age 15 to her late 20s, when the show was running.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • A big deal is made of Bob and Midge renewing their vows, which is particularly sweet after they'd fought and argued for so long. And then Midge abruptly leaves him and Donna just two seasons later.
    • "Career Day": the back-and-forth between Hyde and his mom, Edna, gets so vicious that he eventually storms out, which is likened to how his father left. Talking to Red convinces Hyde to at least try to work things out, and Edna acknowledges she's not being a good mom but wants to do better. Then a few episodes later, she abandons him.
    • Kelso's decision in Season 7 to make Hyde and Jackie his daughter's godparents instead of Eric and Donna has this a couple times over. Kelso says Hyde and Jackie are simply the more stable couple and cites Eric and Donna's wedding falling through. A few episodes later, however, Hyde and Jackie's relationship hits another rough patch before ending for good at the start of Season 8. Then a few episodes after that we learn that Eric and Donna have broken up, though they at least get a Maybe Ever After in the Grand Finale.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Prior to being neighbors on this show, Red and Bob's actors (Kurtwood Smith and Don Stark) were already neighbors in a sense - Kurtwood played General Galapagos on The Terrible Thunderlizards, and Don played The Rhino in Spider-Man: The Animated Series- both of which aired on Saturday mornings on Fox Kids.
    • The outspoken Feminist and Progressive Donna wanting to get an interview with Ted Nugent and getting angry at Eric for sabotaging it becomes more hilarious when one sees that Nugent in real life has gotten involved with a number of ultra-right wing causes and is noted for his open sexism.
    • Eric, wearing an all-black outfit, wishing he could shoot webs and later saying he learned how to fight from Spider-Man. Topher Grace went on to play Venom in Spider-Man 3, who had all of Spidey's powers, wore a symbiote that was black as a costume, and could shoot webs.
    • In "Going To California," Hyde tells Eric that he "has no problem fooling whitey." Eric reminds Hyde that he's white, and Hyde responds by saying, "Barely." Cut to Season 7, where it is revealed that Hyde is half-black.
    • Also in Season 5, after Jackie and Hyde break up because he cheats on her, a distraught Hyde turns on the radio to a country music station and says he finally gets country music. Cue 2016.
    • The fact that Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis started dating in 2012 after playing a couple when the show started. It became Heartwarming in Hindsight in February 2014, when they announced their engagement, and as of 2017, are the proud parents of two children.
      • In one episode, Kelso starts donating sperm. Jackie makes him go and get them back because she "wants to have his babies someday."
    • In the episode "Tornado Prom", Jackie has an Off to See the Wizard dream sequence in which she is Dorothy. Her actress, Mila Kunis, would later play Theodora, the Wicked Witch of the West, in Oz the Great and Powerful.
    • In "Hyde's Father," Bud tells the kids "That's what his mom says" when asked if he's really Hyde's father. Fast forward a few seasons and turns out he wasn't so far from the truth.
    • A Kelso invoking Has Two Thumbs and....
    • All of Jackie's lines are funnier when you picture her as Meg Griffin (who, like Jackie, is a Butt-Monkey).
    • Donna once said "I could get arrested. I could go to a girl prison". Cut to 2013... Even better, one of the supporting characters is called "Red".
    • After he and Red modify a Pong game, Kelso proclaims that home computers are the wave of the future. Ashton Kutcher would later play Steve Jobs in the biopic Jobs, as well as computer tech guru Walden Schmidt on Two and a Half Men.
    • Eric's love of Star Wars when one considers that Topher Grace edited the Prequel Trilogy into a single 85 minute film and removed several of the most hated elements of those films.
    • Speaking of Star Wars, considering the year of the series, it is not uncommon for people like Eric to pair Luke Skywalker with Leia Organa. Eric even has an Imagine Spot where Luke and Darth Vader are fighting for Leia's affection and sometimes dress up as Luke while getting Donna to dress up as Leia. Wait 'til he watched the two sequels and gets the shock of his life when he finds out the true relationship between Luke, Leia, and Vader.
    • In Season 7's "Let's Spend the Night Together," Eric gets attacked (by a group of women) at a feminist rally. Donna tells him to run... like Bruce (now known as Caitlyn) Jenner. She then curses herself because Eric is too "feminine" to know about sports.
    • Both Ashton Kutcher and Wilmer Valderrama would eventually be romantically linked to celebrities named Demi.
    • In Season 4's "An Eric Foreman Christmas", Eric winds up coming up with the term "space unicorn" over a decade before Parry Gripp did.
    • During The Rock's cameo portraying his dad, Rock makes a reference to himself, where he hopes "his son" will one day become "the most electrifying man in sports entertainment". Well... The Rock will grow up into becoming someone who is far bigger than that.
    • Eric's uneasy attitude toward W.B., Hyde's black biological father, in "Let's Spend The Night Together" became much funnier once Topher Grace went on to play David Duke in BlacKkKlansman. Ironically, both the episode and the film take place in 1979.
      • Relating to the above, in "It's a Wonderful Life" Eric Forman is initially pleased that his future self grew a mustache, only to be told that it was just chocolate cake. In BlacKkKlansman, Topher Grace plays Duke with an actual mustache.
    • When Kelso reveals he's been donating sperm, Hyde mentions, among other things, "libraries will fall into disrepair" from Kelso having children. Kelso later impregnates Brooke, a librarian.
    • In "Ramble On", Kelso's Super Friends fantasy has Fez in the role of Aquaman— he looks strangely similar to Jason Momoa in Aquaman (2018) when the latter dons the classic Aquaman getup.
  • Ho Yay:
    • There was an episode where Eric became friends with a guy called Buddy (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt). There was a montage of them hanging out to a Best Friends song, only for it to turn out that Eric's friend was gay. At the end of the episode, Red and Bob had a Best Friends montage.
    • Kelso and Fez's relationship constantly toes the line between Heterosexual Life-Partners and Ambiguously Bi. Hyde even lampshades it in one episode in a conversation with Fez.
      Hyde: You're like half in love with him aren't you?
    • There's also this little gem:
      Kelso: ...Did you just kiss my ear a little?
      Fez: ...Yes.
      Kelso: (beat) I kinda liked it.
    • Then there was the episode where Fez had an erotic dream about Kelso.
    • They've also kissed:
      Fez: Ah, this is tomorrow's school paper. Oh my god, on the front page, there's a picture of me kissing Kelso by the lake!
      Eric: Fez, why are you kissing Kelso by the lake?
      Fez: We caught a fish, I was excited. I kissed the fish too, but, of course, they don't show you that.
    • Discussed in-universe with Gilligan and The Skipper.
    • There's also this little gem from Eric about his relationship with Hyde.
      (Being friends with Donna) isn't the same as with Hyde. I haven't, you know, touched his fun parts. At least not intentionally.
  • Informed Attribute:
    • Some fans consider Donna and Kelso's attractiveness to be this.
    • Additionally, Eric's supposed girliness. Most of the remarks on this seem to be based on his lack of athleticism. His personality is more akin to a geek or a nerd, which is usually considered to be at least gender-neutral if not more masculine. Possibly a case of Fair for Its Day as far as the 1970s setting is considered, as "nerd culture" was not remotely as widely accepted as it is now.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Hyde and Jackie.
    • Mainly with Hyde having such an awful childhood his casualJerkass traits feel rather mild to what could've been, and who generally becomes a more well-rounded and at least well-meaning character -if not entirely shedding some of his Jerk-ier tendacies- after he moves in with the Formans (and later while dating Jackie).
    • Jackie, although she has her extreme Control Freak tendencies towards Kelso while they're dating and her generally shrill Spoiled Brat personality, she still doesn't deserve a lot of the crap she gets as The Friend Nobody Likes and Kelso constantly fooling around behind her back. Character Development in the later seasons, though, tended to rub off much of her Jerkass traits, and while despite having a semblance of her original personality, thanks to her Broken Bird storyline she eventually becomes one of the more level-headed and emphatic characters on the show.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Buddy Guy, Eric's new and very wealthy best friend in Eric's Buddy who has a secret crush on him. Although controversial at the time, perhaps in a strong sign of Society Marches On he's retroactively seen as one of the show's most popular one-shot characters. Being played by a young Joseph-Gordon Levitt certainly doesn't hurt.
  • Paranoia Fuel : Fez could be hiding in your closet right now!
  • Replacement Scrappy: Poor Randy. After Eric left for Africa Randy was added in as a replacement to round out the cast. Was he given his own personality and be his own character? Nope! Randy was added in as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute to Eric despite being pretty much the opposite in looks (tall and handsome with long blonde hair) and even dated Donna after she and Eric broke up off-screen. When Kelso left, did the writers get a new character to replace him? Nope! Someone decided that Randy had to play both the nerd and the dumbass, resulting in an inconsistent and unfunny character who was a dumb nerd but also a socially awkward player but also an unfunny clown who constantly bounces between roles and never really works with any of them. The writers caught on and barely shown him in the series finale.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: Even though most people prefer it to Randy, Eric and Donna's relationship over the series gets to this level at several points, to the point it seems like the writers were trying to think of any reason to break them up so they could get them back together again. The crowning example is when they broke up because Donna wouldn't accept Eric's promise ring, not wanting to be "trapped" in Point Place, listing several reasons because of it. Maybe this would have been understandable... had Donna not almost immediately hooked up with Kelso's brother, who's the living embodiment of everything she supposedly left Eric because. Let's just say it's some of those things that caused Donna to be one of the more divisive characters in the cast...
    • This at least gets acknowledged semi-frequently in universe though, with several characters (Hyde being the most frequent) stating they keep getting rather sick of hearing Eric and Donna constantly talking about and discussing every little thing about their relationship.
      Hyde: I couldn't put up with one more week of that "Will they won't they" crap.
    • Casey and Donna, big time. Mainly since Casey was such a flat Jerkass who Donna inexplicably fell heed over heels for no real reason other than a shallow All Girls Want Bad Boys, despite previously showing she could easily see through that façade, and him ultimately getting no Hidden Depths whatsoever and the writers doubling down on his Jerk with a Heart of Jerk personality only being made more affable thanks to Luke Wilson's typically laid back delivery. While it did become increasingly obvious that he was a Romantic False Lead in comparison to Eric, making Donna take a level in dumbass so they could get together and the love triangle taking up so much time in the latter half of season 4, for many it brought down the show as a result.
  • Seasonal Rot: Opinions vary on exactly how early it started, but many agree that Season 8 (where Kelso and Eric left and brought in Randy to replace them) was the single worst season of the show.
    • Retroactively, though, Season 7 is viewed by most fans to be the start of the show's decline in quality, with the jokes feeling forced and not as funny, the characters getting flanderized to one trait (i.e. Kelso's stupidity, Eric's love of Star Wars, etc.) and the storylines feeling played out being pointed out as the reasons for why.
  • Shipping Goggles: Fans seem to disregard Hyde's actions in the final season and claim he and Jackie broke up because he didn't want to get married when really the reason was the opposite.
  • Signature Scene: While it's more of a Running Gag, the scenes where the camera pans to-and-from each main character in a "circle" of implied pot sharing is what the show's best remembered for.
  • Strangled by the Red String:
    • Donna and Randy. Donna is noticeably attracted to Randy while she's still in a relationship with Eric. The fact that the writers also broke up the Official Couple (and having it be an off-screen Eric's fault, no less) just to get them together doesn't help.
    • Jackie and Fez's Relationship Upgrade comes pretty close as well, especially since a lot of people weren't happy that she didn't get back together with Hyde. She basically went from regarding Fez as a good friend to being head over heels in love with him in the span of a few episodes. Though it needs to be noted that in an episode from one of the earlier seasons that Jackie has admitted that she found Fez to be attractive.
  • Strawman Has a Point: After getting Brooke pregnant, Kelso is initially reluctant to get involved or take responsibility, which leads to the others criticizing him. While they're certainly not wrong, Kelso has a pretty understandable response: "Y'know, it's real easy to talk about the right thing when it's not your life."
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Charlie Richardson, who only appeared for three episodes in the show was supposed to be Eric's replacement for the last season. Instead, his character is killed in only the first episode of said season. The ultimate replacement is Randy, who was not well received from fans, who some preferred Charlie over Randy.
    • Samantha; if you're going to have Hyde get married, then do more with his wife besides using her for Dumb Blonde or stripper jokes.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: A lot of the characters' Hidden Depths were ignored in favor of Flanderization no matter how annoying the directionless Status Quo Is God got. Jackie and Kelso got the worst of it - in one episode Jackie was shown to be a great mechanic, and in another episode, Kelso could reprogram a Pong table, and nothing was done with either of them.
    • During the aforementioned Super Friends fantasy sequence in "Ramble On", they didn't do a joke about the man ring and Green Lantern (hell, the ring's gem appeared to be green!).
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Kelso, being The Ditz, is naturally a fountain of this. One of the group's favorite stories is of the time Kelso tried to do the "burning bag of dog poop" prank on someone, but lit the bag prematurely and then stomped it out himself. A frustrated Kelso counters "THE BAG WAS ON FIRE!"
    • A particularly stupid came from Eric kissing another girl (Laurie's college roommate) while he and Donna were starting to form a relationship. Red came down on him for this gloriously.
      Eric: It's like bad things are always happening to me. Like I have bad luck or something.
      Red: (understanding voice) Son, you don't have bad luck. The reason bad things happen to you is because you're a dumbass. (harshly) Now fix it.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Eric and Donna pressuring Jackie and Hyde to admit their relationship to Kelso — and shaming them for doing it in the first place and keeping it a secret — comes off as rather meddlesome and hypocritical to many fans, considering the two of them didn't seem to have any trouble keeping Kelso's actual affair with Laurie a secret from Jackie for months. For Kelso himself, the idea that Jackie really owes him anything (after years of dealing with his cheating, passive aggressively insulting her, pestering her for sex, and ditching her with no explanation) has become a point of contention among fans, especially in recent years.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Ironically falls into this, in spite of often deliberately invoking it for comedy. Sleeping around is depicted as one of the worst things people, particularly women, can possibly do.
    • Additionally and more pressingly, the show’s lack of concern about sexual consent is a lot more troubling to viewers in recent years than it was while the show was airing. From Jackie and Donna being the target of frequent sexual harassment and even assaults from their male friends note , Eric planning to have sex with the inebriated Donna, Jackie offhandedly mentioning that Kelso had coerced her into sex by repeatedly asking her for it despite her initial refuses, to outright rape via Laurie forcing herself on a verbally non-consenting Kelso, it’s all Played for Laughs.
    • Another troubling note is how in one episode, Eric notes he knew how to shoot a gun after going through a "Taxi Driver phase". This has become even worse since the episode originally aired since there have been so many mass shootings in the US and guns in general are a hot-button issue.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: Eric, arguably. But, no matter if you like him or not, he was created to be as bland, normal and relatable as possible before getting flanderized into a Straw Misogynist wimpy pushover Star Wars fanboy.
  • Win the Crowd: Despite being seen somewhat as a Spiritual Successor to Happy Days, since that show ended there hadn't many successful TV franchises mining a previous era's nostalgia and many were initially hesitant about this attempt at the beginning. However, the show found it's footing quickly by seasoning in 70's-specific culture quite effectively but not using it as a crutch, and instead relying on the strength of it's own well-defined humor and character-driven storylines to make it's appeal feel more timeless. No doubt a key factor in the show becoming a rare cross-generational hit.
    • Win Back the Crowd: As poorly receiving as nearly all of Season 8 is, managing to get the original main cast back together for the finale, with as few appearences from Randy as possible and giving the characters a satisfying end to their narratives (even if some were left intentionally open-ended), even in the case of Seasonal Rot that was being experienced up to that point the finale is still considered one of the best episodes and a strong way to send the show off in classic sitcom fashion.
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