We would love to tell you that every sitcom ever is 100% completely unique. The truth is, that every sitcom comes with a cascade of clichés they will no doubt utilize during their series’ run.
A bumbling husband with a model wife, a broken valuable that must be replaced or a trip to Disney World. These are just a few of the sitcom clichés we’ve seen over the years. From I Love Lucy to The Big Bang Theory Friends, Boy Meets Word and more. There isn’t a show out there that hasn’t fallen prey to these sitcom clichés.
1. Bumbling Husband and Hot Wife
We can trace this back to The Honeymooners. That’s where this all began. It even made a mark on animated television with Homer and Marge on The Simpsons representing this trope for almost three decades now. Of course, they aren’t the only pair like this.
2. The Clip Show
This kind of episode comes almost every season. It’s either filled with flashbacks or random occurrences that are filler. Think about all those times The Simpsons pulled this one out with Troy McClure as the host. Personally, it feels like they had nothing planned and just tossed a quickie together. Usually, it does nothing for the course of the show other than remind us why we watch and love said show.
3. Celebrity Guest
The Simpsons have had like a trillion celebrities stop by over the years. They aren’t the only ones though. Will & Grace had Cher, Glee had Lindsay Lohan, Home Improvement had Bob Villa, and that’s literally the ones that just popped into my head as I was typing this. Once a sitcom gets rolling, it’s not hard to get a big name on board to play either a character or themselves like all of the above did. Friends had everyone from Bruce Willis to Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Gary Oldman and more!
4. A Big Wedding
More often than not, the big wedding will be between two characters we lived for. Once in awhile, it’s a huge wedding for some side characters that have amazing shenanigans. No matter what, a wedding will always be a part of a sitcom’s legacy.
We get so used to seeing our favorites in very familiar settings. So they always have to spring for at least one vacation to change up the scenery. Something completely crazy also usually takes place during the trip. Whether it’s to the beach or a casino – it always goes down.
6. Unreal Living Situations
When it comes to family sitcoms, this makes complete sense. They are adults with families to support. Then you see shows like Friends and New Girl, and 2 Broke Girls and everyone’s like… what is the rent here? Even with all those roommates, what are they all paying? And how to they afford it on a bartender’s/waiter’s salary?
7. The Random Family Member Visit
Don’t you love when a random family member just pops up out of nowhere, and then you never see them again? Like sitcoms don’t know we remember every detail about them. Cousin who? Oh no, we don’t want this person. Get rid of them. Or in some cases, the rando comes, and then kills the show. We’re looking at you, cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch.
8. The Dreaded Ex
There is no way one can have a sitcom with a couple and not expect one of their exes to show up. Sometimes they’re there to start trouble, sometimes it’s just a hilarious way to get to know how far the character’s come. Usually there’s a fair bit of dramatic jealousy and a reaffirmation of love after the ex finally hits the road.
9. A Road Trip
…Speaking of hitting the road, we love them in our own lives, but we love them even more on TV. Like a vacation episode, a road trip allows us to see our favs out and about. Of course, It’s Always Sunny managed to do a road trip without ever really leaving Philly. Regardless, road trips are a bonafide sitcom cliché.
10. An Annoying Neighbor
We’ve all seen this one coming. Ned Flanders, of course, takes the cake, but Steve Urkel and Full House‘s Kimmy Gibbler also come to mind. Sister, Sister‘s Roger as Well. Or Beans on Even Stevens… These bad neighbors are the reason most of us never bother getting to know our own.
11. Disney Trip
This one goes for almost every sitcom on ABC. One of the perks of Disney owning ABC is that the shows get to film an episode either at Disney World or Disneyland. Hey, if we can’t afford to go… at least we can live through them. We got it on Black-ish, Boy Meets World, and Roseanne, just to name a few.
12. A Broken Valuable
In a tale old as time, something valuable will break. This will cause a huge commotion to either hide the evidence or replace it. In the end, it likely will not matter that anything was broken in the first place, but whoever broke it will learn a ~valuable~ lesson. Like the time Zack and Slater made Screech have that party when his parents were out of town, and the Elvis bust got busted. Exactly.
13. Halloween Episode
There isn’t a sitcom around that gets away without paying homage to the holidays. While Christmas and Thanksgiving are okay, it’s those classic Halloween episodes that tend to be their most talked about. Hell, some of Roseanne‘s most memorable moments were their spooktacular specials… as are the ones on The Office and Modern Family.
14. The Mystery Character
While this one isn’t as common as the others, it’s still one that’s utilized a lot more than you think. There are some sitcoms that have characters in which we never see. Sometimes we only see a part of them like Wilson on Home Improvement, and other times they are merely names like Maris on Frasier.
Clip shows vary from flashbacks because sometimes clip shows do absolutely nothing to push us along in the show. Flashbacks, on the other hand, can give us insight into a current predicament, or give us a clue as to who our favorite character is now.
16. Pregnancy Announcement
Sitcoms typically wait until nearly the end to pop a baby in someone. That’s what New Girl did, but it’s not always like that. Frasier had Roz get pregnant very early on, as did The Big Bang Theory when it comes to Bernadette. No matter when the reveal is, it’s always heartfelt and huge for fans.
17. Will They/Won’t They?
We all know what this is about. A show introduces us to two people who should definitely be together and then spend YEARS keeping them apart. It’s absolute torture to watch, but we put ourselves through it because we must see the day they finally get together. Ross and Rachel from Friends are possibly the most iconic when it comes to this. Consequently, it’s still a sitcom cliché going strong on shows like Superstore with Amy and Jonah.