3rd Rock from the Sun

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Tommy: Dick, when are we gonna leave these bodies?
Dick: When we've learned everything there is to know... about life.

Harry: Wow... good thing we got cable.
—"Body & Soul & Dick"

Nineties Sitcom in which a team of aliens come to Earth disguised as a human family in order to study mankind. A very similar premise to Mork and Mindy, but had enough nutty humor to make up for it. The series lasted from January, 1996 to May, 2001, and featured a total of 139 episodes in six seasons.

As the Solomon family, the aliens land in the Ohio college town of Rutherford where mediocrity reigns despite it already being mostly inhabited by weird people. The leader of the aliens is Dick Solomon, a pompous Man Child with an ego the size of Jupiter. His "sister" Sally is an Action Girl, his "son" Tommy a Seven Hundred Year Old Teen Genius and "brother" Harry a Wacky Guy. Dick scrounges up a job teaching physics at nearby Pendleton University and together the crew boldly moves into a cheap attic apartment.

The local Earthlings include Dick's insecure office mate and love interest sometimes later wife Dr. Mary Albright-Solomon, Mary's teenage son Kyle Albright, their Sassy Secretary Nina Campbell, Dick and Mary's straight man and Nina's postal worker boyfriend Rodney Carrington, Sally's cop boyfriend Officer Don and the Solomons' eccentric landlady Mrs. Dubcek. The more the Solomons view Humans Through Alien Eyes, the more they realize that Humans Are Special. Some people think the show stuck with the Fish Out of Water notion far too long - unlike Fry, who eventually got used to his new surroundings, the main gag of this series remained the same. Most viewers file this under Rule of Funny. As an added bonus, the series can easily be watched out of order.

Tropes used in 3rd Rock from the Sun include:
  • Accidental Pervert: In "Shall We Dick", Alissa accidentally walked in on Don changing for the dance, and Sally assumed she did it on purpose to get a peek at Don's goods.
  • Acronym Confusion: In "The Loud Solomon Family: A Dickumentary", Dick took Harry to what he thought was an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, where he forced Harry to admit he was an alcoholic. The woman behind the counter then corrected him: "This is Triple A (AAA)."
  • Adult Child: Dick Solomon: How someone this immature is High Commander is dumbfounding.
    • Retcon: Justified through nepotism.
      • Or as one Solomon once put it, "kissing up to the big giant ass."
      • Not to mention the Big Giant Head "earned" his position simply by Outrunning the Fireball.
    • Also, dialogue seems to suggest that much of the aliens' weird behavior stems from dealing with human bodies and emotions.
      • This interpretation does have a significant amount of canon support. In the first or second episode, Dick explicitly says "Did you know these bodies were capable of feelings?", the study of which is the main reason their mission on Earth is extended. All the Solomons are immature, but it almost always seems rooted in their inexperience at managing emotions. We know from dialogue that these characters have worked together in the past on many dangerous missions and, in a practical sense, they're highly skilled in their given positions. Maturity and emotions cause the most conflict through the series but they usually treat these conflicts as uniquely human, things which haven't ever happened prior to the Earth mission.
  • Alien Among Us: Duh.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The aliens are forbidden from making major changes to Earth.

Harry: I want to bring mankind the gift of electricity.
Tommy: They have electricity.
Harry: Ahh.. then my work is done.
Dick: You see, we can make small differences, not global differences.
Harry: Dick, can I blow up the earth?
Dick: *Beat* You see Harry, that would be a global difference.
Harry: It's so hard to keep track of these things.

Harry: Chippy the chipmunk. Chippy the cheerful chipmunk. The tragedy... of chippy the cheerful chipmunk.

  • All Just a Dream: Occurs frequently in "Rutherford Beauty", as Rodney has erotic daydreams about Nina and Dick was horrified.
  • Almost Kiss: Sally and Don, numerous times. This is lampshaded by Don when he tells Sally that they've been dating for almost two years and haven't kissed.
    • An early example occurred in "Frozen Dick" when Sally and Leon's kiss is interrupted by the lights coming back on. Sally's overjoyed that they don't have to mate to perpetuate the species. Leon is less than thrilled by this news.
  • Alternate Reality Episode: The two-parter "Dick'll Take Manhattan".
  • Always Someone Better: Dr. Liam Neeson(John Cleese) is this to the Solomon's, especially Dick. He's an alien just like them, but is so much more competent at everything (including, apparently, the Big Giant Head).
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: While Dick, Sally, and Harry manage to humiliate Tommy on countless occasions, Sally's overbearing manner makes her the worst offender.
  • Amusing Alien: Guess who?
  • Analogy Backfire: In "Same Old Song and Dick", Dick tries to convince Mary that they need to spice up their relationship, and says they should be more like Romeo and Juliet.

Dick: I want ceaseless joy and never-ending passion like Romeo and Juliet.
Mary: They both wound up dead.
Dick: Antony and Cleopatra.
Mary: Dead.
Dick: That couple from Wuthering Heights.
Mary: Insane and dead.
Dick: F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda.
Mary: Drunk, insane and dead.
Dick: Tristan and Isolde.
Mary: Abgeschossen.
Dick: A-ha: Siegfried and Roy.
Mary: Okay, one.

  • Anal Probing: One episode began with the main characters watching an episode of The X-Files on television, groaning over how laughably inaccurate the show is. One scene, described by Tom as an alien inserting a probe through someone's ear, is met with the derisive comment from Dick, "Everyone knows the proper place to insert an alien probe is the butt!"
    • In a later episode involving a psychotic alien hunter who kidnaps Dick and accuses aliens like him of "probing the butt of the poor American farmer", Dick denies that aliens anally probe anyone. However, he mentions an incident involving a farmer near Akron, who was "asking for it".
    • Dr. Albright's brother Roy claims that this happened to him.
  • And Then I Said:

Don: ...Not your pants, the gun! (everybody laughs) Yeah... that didn't really happen.

  • Armor-Piercing Question: In "Dick the Mouth Solomon", Tommy asked Don what he's accomplished by being on the right side of the law, and answers it for him: "Nothing, NOTHING!"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Let's live! Let's taste danger. Let's go for the gusto, consequences be damned! Let's drive fast and eat cheese!"
  • Attack of the Political Ad: Done to Harry in "Dick the Vote"; his opponent, Gansmiller, ran a smear ad on Harry that insinuated he was in the Mafia.
  • Bad Bad Acting: Mary is accused of this in "The Tooth Harry"; she puts on a quasi-British accent for the promotional film about Pendleton University. Amusingly, she doesn't seem to notice she uses one.

Mary: Helleau. Ah'm Dahkter Mehry Awhlbright, and Ah'm proud to be a member of the Pendleton Faculty.
Judith: Whoa. What's with the accent?
Mary: (normal speaking voice) What accent?! This is my formal speaking voice, always has been.
Judith: ...I'm sorry.

  • Bad Dreams: "A Nightmare on Dick Street".
  • Bank Robbery: Harry, Tommy, Kyle and Sally try this in "Frankie Goes to Rutherford", not for the cash involved, but just to see if they could pull it off. However, their planning goes sour in a hurry as the three grow suspicious that each isn't up to snuff on the task.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Guest star David Hasselhoff is apparently supposed to be this in "Dick & Tuck", and tries to convince Dick that plastic surgery can make Dick as beautiful as he is.
  • Becoming the Mask: Tommy and Kyle, while in the Hootie mascot outfit in "Collect Call for Dick". So much so that he doesn't even acknowledge someone when his real name is said.

Principal: Tommy? (Tommy doesn't respond) Hootie, can I talk to Tommy now?

  • The Berserker: Tommy, in a rare comedic variation. When provoked (usually by Dick), 9 times out of 10 he jumps right to the attack.
    • It's generally more understandable with Dick, but he also once does this to Mary's father after the guy gives him a playful punch, which Tommy responds to by socking the elderly man in the stomach.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The aliens return home in the series finale, but Mary doesn't dare to leave the Earth with Dick.
    • An alternate ending featured Dick "abducting" Mary after the latter had just left the shower.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Solomon's. Being Starfish Aliens, they don't understand anything about human culture, which explains why they spent so long on Earth in the first place (apparently, other missions on other populated planets don't take much longer then a week).
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Harry, upon his "invention" of a new color:

Harry: I combined red with yellow. I call it... redyellow!

  • Brick Joke: Harry's LOBSTER CLAWS from "Rutherford Beauty".
  • Broken Bird: In an alternate universe, we find that Mary is just a bitter lonely woman with little to live for. Dick tries to convince her that she can be more, but she's already given up. Despite having an otherwise much better life, it's this dead inside Mary that gets him to go back home.
    • Real world Mary is on the happier edge of being one. She has a relatively decent life, but her terrible childhood, Dick, sexual history, Dick, and her frustration with working in a third rate college with Dick give her slightly better reasons to be bitter at the world than most.
  • Broken Streak
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Dick's bizarre, childish behavior is tolerated at the university because his advanced alien knowledge of physics makes him one of the best in his field.
  • Burger Fool: Dick is reduced to working at Rusty's (a fast food restaurant) in "Proud Dick" when he quit his job at Pendleton over a parking space dispute. Dick is required to say, "Thank you for making Rusty's a part of your day." after each transaction.
  • The Butler Did It: Referenced in "Dial M for Dick"; the Solomons wonder who could've killed the first victim in the murder mystery, and one suggestion thrown out there is the butler. Being unaware of the trope, they find such a possibility ridiculous.
  • Butt Monkey: Poor Leon.
  • Calling Shotgun: In "Gwen, Larry, Dick & Mary", Dick took Mary on their first wedding anniversary to a drive-in theater, and Tommy, Kyle, Harry, and Sally tagged along as well. But since Tommy called shotgun, Mary couldn't even sit next to Dick on the date, much to her annoyance.
  • Can't Live with Them Can't Live Without Them: Subverted in "Dick Behaving Badly":

Judith: Men: Can't live with 'em... (pause) Good night, Mary. (leaves)

  • Cassandra Truth: The first time Dick tries to out himself to Mary as an alien was when he got sick for the first time and thought he was dying. He told her not to be alarmed if she found only a shivering purple tube in his place the next day. She took it as him being one of those melodramatic sick people (either that, or she thought he wasn't thinking clearly from the sick daze he was in).
    • The next time, it's after they've been attending a sci-fi convention that she's really gotten into. She thinks he's gotten equally into it and awards him appropriately.
    • Dick also revealed that he's an alien to the psychiatrist in "A Nightmare on Dick Street", but he just brushed it off as crazy talk.
    • Out of options, the Solomons admitted they were aliens in "Dick and Taxes" to explain their whereabouts during the years before they landed on Earth. The IRS agent, however, thought they were merely trying to get out of paying their taxes and said: "Believe it or not, I've heard that one before, too."
    • Dick also attempted to tell Mary he was an alien when he was befriended by a former (gay) student of hers that believed he was gay and tried to help him come out.
    • At one point, he's also trying to 'get to know' his students by asking them about their pasts. One of them asks him where he's from and, right before the bell rings signaling the end of the class, he says "Long story... true story... I'm not human."
  • The Cast Showoff: Numerous times the entire main cast gets to show off their musical talents, the best is in "A Nightmare on Dick Street" where Harry's dream is an elaborate Broadway-style song and dance number that was shot almost entirely in one take.
    • August sings a song in the episode in which Tommy forms a band. Shay Astar, who played August, is now a professional singer-songwriter (though she only sung as a hobby at the time).
    • Nina shows off her vocal talented skills and sings some several songs in later episodes. Simbi Khali, who played Nina, is now a talented singer-songwriter (though she only sung background vocals for other artists at the time).
    • Mary's lackluster but enthusiastic vocal talents are shown off at least as much as the Solomons, despite being poor enough both in-universe and on-screen for a Season 3 episode to revolve around her self-recognized lack of singing talent.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Dick had "Family meeting! FAMILY MEETING!" and, less frequently, "You're not family GET OUT!"
      • He also had variations on "I'm GORGEOUS!"
      • Also a frustrated shout of "DAMN!"
      • "Oh shut up, Caryn." Dick's student Caryn is, obviously, the Phrase Catcher.
    • Harry had "LET'S GO!" and "Incoming message from The Big Giant Head!"/"Transmission ending in three... two... one.. (sneezes)"
      • Early on he also had "Prepare to be dazzled!"
    • Ms. Dubcek had: "Lovely 'X', very nice..." (some examples include, "People, wedding, funeral").
  • Chain Letter: Dick and Mary each receive one in "Superstitious Dick".
  • Character Filibuster: Dick has given quite a few of these.
  • Chekhov's Gag: "Tricky Dick". Born out of feelings of bitterness, Dick and Mary engage in an ever-escalating prank war. Amongst Dick's ideas are removing Mary's desk, getting a garage to add massive speakers and flame decals to her car, and sending her a fake letter from the President. Mary, however, gets Dick with a big one: getting Dick stuck to his desk with thermal bond epoxy. As Dick is slowly removed from his desk, they finally agree to end it and act like adults... just before they hear the loud, booming noise of Mary's car being returned from the shop.
  • Christmas Episode: "Jolly Old St. Dick".
  • Clip Show: Season 3's "Seven Deadly Clips".
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Harry Solomon, to the point where it actually hurts him to think too hard. Vicki Dubcek also has her moments, where despite being a human, she occasionally acts just as nutty as the aliens.
  • Cock Fight: Dick and Neesam over Mary. Rodney and Harry over Nina and later, Harry and The Big Giant Head over Vicki.
    • "Superstitious Dick" has a variant; Alissa has a crush on hockey star Stenstrom. Tommy is naturally jealous and goes to tell Stenstrom, who's in the dark about Alissa's crush, to stay away from his girl. But Tommy's words don't register, because Stenstrom doesn't speak a lick of English outside of "Stay in school, don't do drug" and "Okay."
  • Code Word Coitus: In "Dick's Ark", Harry is at the check-out lane of the grocery store and asks the clerk if she wants to join him for a party. The clerk is interested and says that she gets off at eight. Harry replies, "No no, the party's at eight. You get off at nine."
  • Cold Opening
  • Comically Missing the Point: Dick, in "Romeo & Juliet & Dick":

Dick: "Romeo & Juliet" is a Shakespearean tragedy; it has nothing to do with a horny teenager and his girlfriend!

    • In "Dickmalion", Tommy told Dick he got suspended for setting off the fire alarm. Dick was appalled at the school, since Tommy saved hundreds of lives. Tommy admitted that there was no fire.

Dick: Tommy, this is outrageous. The next time you set off the fire alarm, you damn well better start a fire first!

    • Really, isn't this the point of every episode?
  • Competence Zone: Dick, Kyle, Sally and oddly Tommy inhabited it. Harry... didn't.
    • Specifically, despite their utter failures at fitting in, Sally is great at security, and Tommy repeatedly shows information-handling skills beyond the greatest hacker, including creating false backstories for all of them multiple times. Dick has advanced knowledge of physics, but so do the others; his actual competence is that he is really pretty good at anthropology, and while he's an awful leader, is pretty good at telling the others what they should do to better understand Earth. It may be worth mentioning that Harry is a quite talented artist, both in execution and in analysis.
  • Compulsory School Age: Tommy Solomon.
  • Confession Cam: Utilized in "The Loud Solomon Family: A Dickumentary".
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Dick becomes one in "Paranoid Dick" when he suspects Mary of soon being replaced as dean. Ironically, Mary ended up getting removed as dean because she and Dick snuck into Judith's office to see if they could find any proof that Mary was on her way out (she wasn't).
  • The Couch: Which wasn't a couch at all, but three chairs and an ottoman. The roof of their apartment probably qualifies as well.
  • Crowd Song: In "Frozen Dick", Dick begins singing "Oklahoma!" to cheer up Mary. Within a few bars, the entire restaurant has joined in.
  • Curse Cut Short: Mary is cut off from fully saying "What the fuck?!" by Dick in "Dial M for Dick".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Judith.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Sally's dream in "A Nightmare on Dick Street".
  • Department of Redundancy Department: From "A Portrait of Tommy as an Old Man":

Harry: It happens, but it's rare. But it happens. But it's rare.

    • From "I Brake for Dick":

Dick: We shall have no animal products, no animal byproducts, and you shall not buy any animal byproduct or products.

  • Die Hard on an X: The screenplay Professor Suter's been working on for the last four years is described as "Die Hard, but in an office building." Dick remarks that they already made that film. Suter replies: "...Up yours."
  • Diet Episode: In "Moby Dick", Dick goes on a diet after he starts overeating to deal with the stress of his engaged to Mary. Later we find out Mary is also stress eating.
  • Disappointed in You: Parodied when Tommy has to pretend to be a juvenile delinquent to keep up the Masquerade.
  • Disguised in Drag: Dick cross-dresses to infiltrate a women's discussion group. Possibly another Actor Allusion, as John Lithgow played a transsexual in The World According To Garp (and got an Academy Award nomination for it).
    • Harry posed as Ms. Dubcek in "Romeo & Juliet & Dick".
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Another group of aliens who all look like attractive women use the characters' hometown to test how effective their beauty is at distracting men as part of their bid to conquer Earth. It's pretty effective.
    • Sally is pretty good at this herself, finding her ability to cloud men's minds an upside to being The Woman. Indeed, she later gets recruited by the above mentioned aliens, who mention she has potential, but is unrefined.
  • Distracted By the Shiny: Harry promises to carry out a mission dutifully "unless I'm distracted by something shiny." He then spends several seconds watching the light reflect off his watch band.
  • Documentary Episode: "The Loud Solomon Family: A Dickumentary".
  • Does Not Understand Sarcasm: All the Solomons, but particularly Dick:

Dick: Nina, how did you get this job?
Nina: I found a magic lamp on a beach, and this was my first wish!
Dick: Wonderful! How can Harry get ahold of a magic lamp?

  • Dog Food Diet: A variant occurs in "Proud Dick". Sally brings home cat food for dinner. She doesn't realize it's food for cats, though, and Mary is appalled when she comes over and sees that the Solomons are so poor that they're reduced to eating cat food (Dick had quit his job in the episode).
  • Do Not Pass Go: In "Dick Behaving Badly":

Harry Solomon: Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 and do not, I repeat, do not drop the soap.

  • Dream Sequence: "A Nightmare on Dick Street". In a subversion of this trope, Dick, Tommy, Kyle, Harry, and Sally don't realize dreams are normal and think they're all going crazy.
  • Emotional Maturity Is Physical Maturity: Averted. The actual ages of the aliens don't correspond with the ages of their human bodies, and it shows. Tommy, the oldest of the group, is easily the most level-headed member of the group even though he's physically a teenager.
    • Partially enforced by hormones though. Tommy's worst moments usually come regarding his girlfriends.
  • Ethical Slut: Dick. He has an active sex life with Mary, and is very open to chat about it, but he won't turn down an offer from someone else if the opportunity arises. A good example of this is in "Auto Eurodicka" where, after having sex with a woman he met in line at the movies (who later turns out to be one of his student's, Bug's, mother), he honestly can't understand why Mary and Bug are upset about it. To him, it's all the same.
  • Everyone Looks Sexier If French: French Immigrant Michele appears in the second season as Sally's love interest. So great is his French accent that he can make the entire office swoon with the line, "On my foot I have a big painful oozing bleester!"
    • One episode had the family trying to decide what ethnicity to be. Dick asked Mary, an anthropologist, what the best ethnic group was. She claimed it was all subjective, but when he asked which ethnicity was sexiest, she immediately responded, "Italians. Smokey, swarthy, gotta have 'em."
    • And Harry isn't bad looking either!
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Another alien attempts to turn Earth into Super Monkey World as a tourist attraction.
  • Evil Twin: New Dick.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Dick and Harry Fall in a Hole".
  • Exact Words: One episode reveals that, shortly after arriving on Earth, Sally filed a protest and asked to be made the head of the mission. Several years later, the Big Giant Head complies... by making Dick and Sally swap bodies.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: In the episode "Dick For Tat", it appears that the episode is going to end in the traditional manner, with all four of them on the roof, after Dick says he just needs to "move on" with his life. Of course, he's kidding himself.
  • Fan Service: Kristen Johnston and Milton (French) Stewart.
  • Fantastic Anthropologist
  • Fifteen Minutes of Fame: This happens to Sally after she punches out Mark Hamill in a restaurant. When Mary tells a jealous Dick that this is Sally's "fifteen minutes of fame", he interprets it literally and is maddened by her "fifteen minutes" lasting considerably longer than that. It ends after a few days, however, causing Sally to start acting like a White Dwarf Starlet.
  • Freaky Friday Flip: Gender Bender episode between Dick and Sally, "Two-Faced Dick". Oh noes! Double date tonight!
  • Freudian Couch: Dick lays on one during therapy in "A Nightmare on Dick Street".
  • G-Rated Drug: Dick becomes addicted to collecting Fuzzy Buddies in "Collect Call for Dick". All the classic tropes associated with this genre are spoofed.
  • Gag Penis: Dick poses for a nude painting class in one episode. Apparently, he really lives up to his name.
    • In the next scene, Mary and Nina are gawking at Mary's painting.

Nina: You're telling me Dr. Solomon posed for this? [cocking, pun unintended, her head to the side to look at the painting.
Mary: Yes
Nina: Well, hellooo Dr. Solomon.
<Dick hears her as he walks in>
Dick: Well, hellooo Nina.

    • And again when Dick sends Mary a photo album of naked pictures of himself after she has broken up with him, in an attempt to win her back. Even though she had just told him she never wanted to see him again, she is clearly tempted.
  • Gender Bender: Sally Solomon wasn't female before coming to Earth (whether the aliens have genders, and what they're like is not elaborated on), and initially wasn't pleased at the change.

Sally: Why do I have to be the woman?
Dick: Because you lost!

  • Genius Ditz: Harry. He's described as only filling a seat and it's considered normal for his mind to be a complete blank, but on the other hand, he's a talented painter and he cracked the bar code.
  • Genre Shift: A common B story was to have Sally and either Harry, Kyle or Tommy engage in sudden behavior change. For example, after Sally starts dating a man named Tony The Butcher, Sally starts acting like an Italian mob girlfriend, and Tommy starts behaving like a Goodfella. In addition, most early Sally/Don scenes all were taken straight out of Film Noir.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Numerous times. The episode titles, for instance: "A Dick Replacement", "My Mother, My Dick", "Shall We Dick", etc.
    • "Assault with a Deadly Dick".
      • Surely the worst offender is "Gobble, Gobble, Dick, Dick".
      • Failed for one episode entitled "B.D.O.C.", for "Big Dick on Campus".
    • In one episode, Dick takes out a book of madlibs and asks Mary for the name of a person in the room. She responds with "Dick" and after writing it, Dick says "This is funny already."
  • Good Cop, Bad Cop: Tommy, Kyle and Sally do this respectively in order to find out who egged Mary's house on Halloween.
    • Dick and Don do this to a perpetrator in "The Physics of Being Dick", despite that Dick's not actually a cop. Amusingly, both can never settle on who will be the good cop and who will be the bad cop.

Don: (to Dick, who's supposed to be good cop but ends up shouting at the suspect) You're setting the bar too high! Do you know how bad I have to be in order to be bad cop? Real bad!

Sally: Dick, have you forgotten how hot I am? Beautiful women are accepted at more places than American Express. I could burp the alphabet, and men with PHDs would be asking me to tutor their kids.

Dick: I can see it now on the marquee: "Dick Solomon presents a Dick Solomon production of Dick Solomon's Romeo & Juliet"!

  • Incoming Ham: "BEHOLD THE GLORY THAT IS ME!"
  • Inflationary Dialogue: Dick's attempts to "subtly" convince Mary that they've known each other for more than three years -- triggered by an IRS audit -- turn out this way.
  • Informed Judaism: The "Solomon" family spends an episode desperately trying to decide what ethnicity they should be; until their landlady mentions offhand that based on their last name she had just assumed they were Jewish and they decide to run with it (never comes up again). Apparently, they just took it off the side of the first truck they saw.

Harry: "Just think, if we'd gone with the first idea, we could have been the Wal-Marts."

    • It does come up again once, when the family tries to kidnap Dick (by putting a bag over his head) just after he has proposed to Mary. He tries to reassure her that the "sacking of the groom" is traditional.

Mary: "What tradition?"
Harry: "I'm going with Jewish."

    • In one episode, they go to a family reunion of Solomons from Indiana. These Solomons have a family run furniture business which would involve a lot of trucks. So it is possible that these people are their namesake.
  • Innocent Aliens: The Solomons.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune
  • Insufferable Genius: Dick Solomon.
  • Insult Backfire: In "Dickmalion", when Mary decides to leave the elite party:

Mary: You may have your little clubhouse, but none of you are truly happy.
Mr. St. Clair: Actually, we are.
Mary: (thrown for a loop) Oh. Well then... some of you are... fat. (leaves)

Dick: I've just heard the most upsetting thing. Someone has accused me of insensitivity. (notices Vicki sitting in a chair) You're not family; GET OUT!!

  • Irony: In "Dick and the Other Guy", Dick managed to save the earth from Dr. Neesam, who claimed he spared his kind because of how impressed he was with Dick's intelligence, despite that Dick's an alien.

Tommy: Yeah, Dick, we get the irony. It's really pretty obvious.

  • I Was Quite a Looker: Mary, twenty years ago. Dick gets a hold of her nude photos from back then and shows them to her.

Mary: Boy, I was a hottie, wasn't I?

  • Jerkass Has a Point: Dick on more than one occasion.
  • Just Friends: Sally and Don try this in "Dick vs. Strudwick". It doesn't work too well.
  • Kissing Cousins: In the third season premiere, the Big Giant Head tries to make Dick adopt Janet (the BGH's own niece) as his Earth wife. Later on, the Big Giant Head turns out to be Dick's father, making Dick and Janet...
    • Also played with in the first episode. Dick expresses frustration at his inability to obtain the sex from Mary (with Mary in earshot) so Sally offers to experience it with him to get it over with (though they aren't actually related, they're supposed to be and it weirds Mary out).
    • In "Dick Solomon of the Indiana Solomons", Tommy wants to kiss a girl he meets at the Solomon family reunion, unaware that kissing your cousin is a taboo in America. However, Tommy finds out that she's adopted and uses that as an excuse. Of course, this backfires when the girl is too upset to kiss him, as she was unaware she was adopted.

Tommy: You have no idea how distant we are!

  • Lady Drunk: Mary. This actually works to her advantage in "Alien Hunter"... until the two decide to physically knock her out.
  • Large Ham: Dick. Also, the Big Giant Head, played by none other than William Shatner.
    • Harry was this show's equivalent to Cosmo Kramer when it came to combining physical comedy with hamminess.
    • John Lithgow routinely hams it up, but then is upstaged by his replacement in the first season finale - a role played by... himself.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Of course, Dick and Sally are posing as siblings, but they're actually not. They also display no sexual attraction to one another (and in fact are both repulsed by the idea). However, they seem to have an especially close relationship compared to the other members of the family. In closing scenes Sally can often be seen sitting with her legs over Dick's, in the same chair or in otherwise snuggly fashion on the roof, and their emotional bond seems much stronger than the relationships they have with Harry or Tommy.
  • Literal Metaphor: In one episode, Dick is trying to figure out what happens "when the spit hits the fan" by spewing sips of water into a desk fan.
  • Locked in a Room: "Stuck with Dick". Dick and Mary are trapped in the school library all weekend with only a bottle of wine and some cheese.
    • Harry and Dick get stuck in a hole in "Dick and Harry Fall in a Hole", and in "Dick: Smoker", they also get locked in to a stairwell but is not part of the show but rather a joke.
  • Love Triangle: Between Mary, Dick, and Sonja in "Dick and the Single Girl".
    • Also seen in "D3: Judgement Day" between Mary, Dick, and Jennifer. Dick realizes that the more lovey-dubby he is with Jennifer, the more Mary wants him back, so he deliberately rides it out with Jennifer, despite the fact that he can't stand her.
    • Between Nina, Rodney, and Chris in all episodes.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The Big Giant Head reveals that he is Dick's father.

Dick: I don't know who I am anymore!
Harry: Well, your first name is Dick, and your last name is Head...

Frank: What will it take you to drop out of the race?
Harry: Oh that's not up to me; I just follow orders.
Frank: Orders?
Harry: Yeah, always have, always will.
Frank: Who gives you orders?
Harry: Well we kinda have a high commander. You know, the family?
Frank: "The family". Thank you, Harry, thank you very much.

  • Mama Bear: Sally occasionally treats Tommy this way, despite: A) being younger than him, technically; and B) his embarrassment.

Sally: I broke up with Alyssa for you.
Tommmy: Why would you do that?!
Sally: She was going to dump you first. I didn't want to see my baby get hurt!
Tommy: I am not your baby!

Harry: (to Dick) When life gives you lemons, you shut up and eat the damn lemons.

    • In another episode:

Dick: (to Mary) Before yesterday, the thought of another woman held about as much appeal for me as a plate of boiled eggs: Nutritious, yes, but ultimately way too gassy. (Mary looks confused)

  • Mildly Military: The aliens are very mildly military. Sally, Tommy, Kyle and Harry are extremely insubordinate to their High Commander right from the start of the show. They are apparently bound to obey Dick when he says "That's an order!", but they'll still be openly disrespectful if they think the order is stupid (it often is).
  • Mistaken for Gay/Dropped a Bridget On Him: In one episode, Sally unknowingly dates a gay man who thinks she's a gay, male cross-dresser, if not a pre-op Transsexualism, and breaks up with her when he notices she's not entirely what he expected.
    • Dick is also mistaken for gay by one of Mary's former students. Dick misreads his innuendos and thinks that he's found a fellow alien.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: "So suddenly it's a crime for a grown man to hang around the high school taking pictures of young girls." (Harry was trailing August for Tommy as part of a Private Detective parody).
  • Mood Swinger: Dick.
    • Also Sally in "Sex and the Sally", after she gets on the birth control pill.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Tommy's early-season girlfriend August did not take well to being called "Augie".
  • Naked Apron: First referenced by Sally and Ms. Dubcek, then later performed by Harry in "Dick and the Other Guy". Ms. Dubcek gives Sally a piece of advice to woo Don: Make some eggs for breakfast while in the buff.

Sally: Doesn't the grease splatter all over your boobs??

  • Near-Death Experience: Sally, Tommy, and Harry experience this in "Near Dick Experience" when a chandelier falls on a table that they would've been sitting at had the waiter not relocated them. Dick becomes jealous that the three are now seeing life through awakened eyes (that is, they're not taking things for granted), and becomes desperate to have his own near death experience.
  • Neural Implanting: "Incoming message from the Big Giant Head..."
  • New Year Has Come: "Happy New Dick!"
  • No Except Yes: In "Dick and the Other Guy", Ms. Dubcek suggests that if Sally wants to know what's going on with Don, to spy on him.

Sally: You mean stalk him?
Ms. Dubcek: No, no..... disguise yourself and follow him around.

  • Noodle Implements: The Big Giant Head once threatened to have Dick sent to Mars. At first, Dick doesn't think that would be so bad, before the Big Giant Head clarifies "not THAT Mars!" and Dick immediately becomes horrified.
  • Noodle Incident: When reminiscing, the aliens talk about a rather humorous memory that is never elaborated upon.

Dick *Very cheerful*: And we hit it, and hit it, and hit it
Everyone: AND IT JUST WOULDN'T DIE! Ahahaha... ah...

  • Of Corpse He's Alive: In "Romeo & Juliet & Dick", Ms. Dubcek unknowingly drinks a potion that Tommy made for the school play of Romeo and Juliet which causes the person to pass out and appear dead. In one scene, the Solomons hang Dubcek's body out the window, moving her limbs and providing her voice. Eventually, they ditch that and just decide to dress Harry up as Dubcek, since people will be seeing her up close.
  • Older Than They Look: Tommy is the oldest alien, and acts Alter Kocker when he decides to retire and give up on acting his human age for an episode.
    • He also hams up the Alter Kocker when, in the final season, they learn that their mission is at an end. The others point out that he always 'acts old' when they reach the end of the mission, but he actually takes the end of the mission much harder than initially suggested, breaking down during their going away party, a reaction he apparently hasn't had before.
  • Omniglot: The Solomons seem to have learned every Earth language in preparation for their trip, or at least a couple dozen. Dick reads a newspaper in a different language almost every episode. When they got cable, they switched to a Spanish-speaking channel and all started speaking Spanish -- until they realized what they were doing.
    • They can also speak (at least some) animal languages. For instance, in the second season episode about thanksgiving, Dick hears turkeys on television. He later tells the others that the turkeys were talking about an apocalypse (What made this more hilarious was the reporter on TV earlier jokingly saying that the turkeys seemed to know what was headed their way). In a Season One episode, Harry has a conversation with a dog.
    • This may be an unidentified form of Neural Implanting: in one episode Harry and Dick are locked in a stairwell together for over a day, during which Dick begins talking to his 'inner voice'. In a throw-away line, Harry says his inner voice began speaking to him too, but he didn't know what it said because he doesn't speak French. Obviously, it was just intended as a one-line joke, but if one ponders it, it probably means that Harry has the French language stored somewhere in his brain, he just can't access it.
      • However, this theory is also somewhat damaged by the fact that in a Battle of Wits between Dick and Tommy, they show off using their language skills (Tommy wins, apparently having mastered all the languages Dick challenges him with, and correcting Dick's faulty grammar).
  • Once an Episode: Sitting on the rooftop to close out the episode.
    • Not quite once an episode, but Harry does receive a message from the Big Giant Head in most.
  • Once Killed a Man with A Noodle Implement: "I should warn you that I have killed men with everything from a steak knife, to a penny dropped from a skyscraper!"
  • One Scene, Two Monologues
  • Or So I Heard: In "Much Ado About Dick", the priest says, "Women." Dick and Suter stare at him, and the priest adds, "...Or so I heard."
  • Ping-Pong Naivete: The aliens' understanding of Earth frequently changes according to the Rule of Funny.
  • Plank Gag: Happens no less than five times in succession in a scene.
  • Practical Joke: "Tricky Dick" had Dick and Mary playing pranks on each other throughout the episode.
  • Prima Donna Director: Dick becomes one almost immediately in "Romeo & Juliet & Dick" when he directs the high school version of the play.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Sally becomes one to Mary in "The Physics of Being Dick", at the advice of Nina and Rodney, who says that correcting Mary will only make Mary upset. The butt-kissing backfires when Sally doesn't catch numerous mistakes in one of Mary's speeches and she makes a fool of herself.

Sally: It's just so intimidating to work for-
Mary: Say it. A BITCH?!
Sally: No, a genius! (Mary is flattered once again)

  • Psycho Ex Boyfriend: Vicky Dubcek's jealous ex, Randy (The late Phil Hartman), abducts Harry and sells him to a Circus.
    • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend applies also to Sally, especially with the early men she dates. She's aggressive, domineering and obsessive, which drives a few men away before she meets Don.
  • Raging Stiffie: It's insinuated that Tommy got one from the music teacher in "Fourth and Dick", since he's reluctant to stand up when she calls on him.
  • Rearrange the Song: Starting in Season 4 through 5. The theme was also remixed in the show's final season.
  • Rogue Juror: "Eleven Angry Men and One Dick"
  • Rule of Three: In "Sensitive Dick", Nina and the baby telling the disciplinary committee three times that Dick's "warm, kind, and a credit to Pendleton State", no matter the question asked.
    • In "Why Dickie Can't Teach", Tommy hugs Mary and then tries to grab her ass, which she doesn't allow. Later, Dick tries the same technique on Mary. Finally, at the end of the episode, Dick hugs Tommy and both try the same thing on each other.
  • Running Gag: In "Dick Solomon of the Indiana Solomons", either Uncle Abe or Harry starting a sentence with, "Don't get me started on..."
    • In "Y2dick", Tommy, Kyle and Sally declaring "PACK IT UP! This piece of crap's going back!" when they're dissatisfied with their home theater system.
    • The aliens don't like jello: they think it's a vicious alien they encountered on another planet. Whenever they see it, they go into a screaming fit and either cower in fear or try to destroy it.
  • Sassy Black Woman/Sassy Secretary: Nina.
  • Season Fluidity: More towards the "fluid" category, due to most every episode being a stand-alone plot that can be watched independently, but there is continuity, especially in the romantic relationships. Example: Dick and Mary are engaged? You're watching a Season 3 episode. Sally and Don are broken up? You're watching a Season 4 episode. Nina and Chris are broken up? You're watching a Season 5 episode.
  • Serious Business: Fuzzy Buddies.
  • Sex for Solace: Sally and Don have sex (repeatedly) in "Dick vs. Strudwick", despite being technically broken up.
  • Sexy Coat Flashing
  • Shaped Like Itself: In "Sensitive Dick":

Judith: After much deliberating, this court has decided to admonish Dr. Solomon.
Dick: What does that mean?
Judith: You're officially admonished.

  • Ship Tease: Harry and Nina got some adorable moments together.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous ones over the seasons.
    • There are a few relating to Jane Curtin's role as Primat in Coneheads, the most obvious one being when they ran into Coneheads cosplayers at a sci-fi convention.
      • As well as an episode where she makes everyone watch a tabloid show about Susan Saint James.
    • When the Big Giant Head first appears on Earth, he and Dick commiserate about their shared experience of seeing something on the wing of their craft and nobody believing them; William Shatner and John Lithgow had both played the protagonist role in adaptations of "Terror At 20,000 Feet".
    • The Solomons all know Dennis Rodman, a fellow alien. When he shows up, they share their disbelief that Earth hasn't figured it out.
    • Shall We Dick has a shout out to Cinderella. Harry wishes he could go to the big dance contest, only he can't find his shoes and he's covered in soot from looking for them. The other three start uproariously mocking him for wanting to go because he's "dressed in rags" and dirty. Mrs. Dubcek, conveniently dressed in an all white, sequined number and waving around a cigarette holder, tells Harry he can still go to the dance if he really wants too. Harry mentions he doesn't have a car or clothes, and then Dubcek says "well Harry... I guess you're screwed."
      • There's also an accidental shout out, in that Harry's covered in soot, making him Dirty Harry.
    • "Fifteen Minutes of Dick" becomes a parody of Sunset Boulevard, complete with "It's the pictures that got small!" reference.
    • "Stuck with Dick" features a parody of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
    • "Citizen Solomon" contains, surprisingly enough, a Whole-Plot Reference to Citizen Kane. Tommy is Kane himself, Alissa is Susan Alexander, August is Jedediah Leland, and the principal is Mr. Thatcher. The parody isn't evident unless you've seen the film as it's based on a portion of the movie which is not often parodied and is thus outside the Popcultural Osmosis of the film's more famous scenes.
    • "Gwen, Larry, Dick & Mary"'s subplot eventually becomes a parody of Judge Judy.
    • "Land... it's the only thing that matters.", "Dick, that's just dirt from the backyard."
    • The episode "The Loud Solomon Family: A Dickumentary" could possibly be a reference to the 1970's PBS documentary An American Family, starring a family who's last named were in fact "Loud".
    • A lot of shout-outs to Rebel Without a Cause in "Father Knows Dick", in which Harry shouts "You're tearing me apart!" followed by his search for self (which ends in an agreement to a drag race with the boyfriend of a girl he meets at the bar).
    • "A Nightmare on Dick Street (Part 1)" featured a parody of Chinatown.
  • Sick Episode: The second episode of the show, "Post Nasal Nick", features the entire Solomon family getting a cold. Dick fights it, though, so he can attend a wedding with Mary.
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Dick has one in Dr. Vincent Strudwick. Oddly enough, Strudwick appeared a few times earlier in the show, and during those episodes, he wasn't portrayed in such a manner.
    • Season 4 had Lucy, the lunch lady who charged Dick, and only Dick, extra for crackers. Lucy later became Mary's assistant, much to Dick's dismay.
  • Sitting on the Roof: Pretty much every episode ends this way, and it happens during the episode on occasion too.
  • Six Is Nine: Parodied.

Harry: "Dick, I've lost all feeling in the left side of my body. [looks at can upside down] Could somebody please call "1-1-6"?

  • Slap Slap Kiss: A sequence in the first episode between Dick and Mary.
  • The Sleepless: Don in "Charitable Dick"; Sally shares his bed and her snoring keeps him up at night. However, even the solution of Sally staying awake all night doesn't work, as she keeps inadvertently making noise.
  • The Snark Knight: August Leffler.
  • Snowed In: "Frozen Dick".
  • Speed Sex: Demonstrated when Dick loses his virginity to Mary in "See Dick Run":

Dick: (after sex) Ohhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!... Oh Dr. Albright, that was the greatest thirty seconds of my life.

Dick: (walking by as Tommy and Alissa are about to kiss) Get your lips off that Strudwick.

  • Starfish Aliens: We never get to see the Solomons' true forms, but what little we hear about them sounds positively Lovecraftian.
    • The only consistent detail is that they are purple tubes. Or at least a major part of them is a purple tube. Presumably, they must have some kind of head, as their ruler has (Or is) a Big Giant one.
  • Stepford Smiler: In one episode, the Solomons decide they need to be more "normal" and so they strive to become as average as possible. They end up being this trope, especially Sally.
    • Sally also tries to do this to please a boyfriend, but breaks down quickly, going from pleasantly saying, "I don't know, you decide," to screaming it in his face.
  • Straw Affiliation: The ' episode "Dick the Vote" included this subversion:

Mary: Hecky Mulligan! How can you vote for Hecky Mulligan? Nina, can you believe that?
Nina: How do you know I'm not voting for Mulligan?
Mary: I thought you were a Democrat.
Nina: And why do you think I'm a Democrat, because I'm black?
Mary: Go ahead, vote for Mulligan!
Nina: I'm not voting for Mulligan!

  • Straw Vegetarian: Dick Solomon becomes one of these as a Compressed Vice, reverting to his normal meat-eating ways at the end of the episode.
  • Subverted Suspicion Aesop: In "Two-Faced Dick", Harry and Tommy are suspicious of a tough-looking gang who keeps ordering drinks. Ms. Dubcek tells them that they shouldn't judge people by how they look, and Harry, Kyle and Tommy decide to apologize to the gang for it. Immediately after they apologize, the gang tells them to open up the cash register. Amusingly, instead of being terrified, Harry, Kyle and Tommy are overjoyed that they were right all along about their first impression.
  • Sustained Misunderstanding: From "Superstitious Dick", when Dick inquires about throwing out a chain letter:

Dick: Can any of you come up with a reasonable scenario in which throwing out a piece of mail would result in having your ribs broken by a floor waxer?
Harry: Absolutely: Guy who was waxing the floor thought that you were throwing out his paycheck.
Dick: No, the guy with the waxer knew nothing about it.
Tommy: Well then why are we throwing out his paycheck?
Kyle:Why there's no paycheck?
Dick: No, there was no paycheck.
Sally: No paycheck?! Well no wonder the waxer dude went psycho on you.

  • Swapped Roles: Harry and Sally switch jobs in "Same Old Song and Old Dick".
    • A crazier example: "Two-Faced Dick". Dick and Sally end up switching bodies (due to a delayed answer to a request Sally gave when she first arrived on the planet that she wanted to be a man), which forces them to adjust their personalities so they don't lose Mary and Don, respectively.
  • The Tag: Starting with Season 2, there was an additional scene over the closing credits. It more or less stopped starting in Season 5, though, likely due to network promos being run over the credits instead.
  • Talk to the Hand: From Harry. He learned it from Nina and Rodney, who encouraged him to do this if Dick (Harry's boss in that episode) got in his face with unreasonable demands.
  • That Came Out Wrong: In "The Great Dickdater", Don and Dick go on a double date. Dick starts telling the two girls about models, to which the girls sarcastically ask why every guy wants to date models. Dick replies he was talking about model trains, after which the girls apologize. Dick then remarks: "If I had a model, why would I be here tonight?" He instantly realizes what he said could be taken the wrong way and apologizes.
  • Three Dimensional Episode: "A Nightmare on Dick Street".
  • Title Please
  • Too Dumb to Live: Harry. One of the earliest episodes of the series involves him taste-testing various house hold liquids to find out which are toxic. Guess what, he finds out, and asks the family to call poison control because the left side of his body is numb.
  • Too Much Information: Dick provides this all too often. Examples:

Dick: (to his class) Let's just say... I had sex with Dr. Albright.
Dick: (to Mary) I'm not wearing any panties.

    • In "Power Mad Dick", Dick thinks it's only fair that Sally tell the family every detail of her sexual encounter with Don, since he did such a thing when he had sex with Mary, even after everyone begged him to stop.
  • Trust-Building Blunder
  • Turn Out Like His Father: From "Dick Solomon of the Indiana Solomons":

Aunt Florence: (after Dick gets into a fight with Jacob) You're sounding just like your father!
Dick: Damn straight, Aunt Florence! Damn straight!

  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Sally and Don. Played with in that Sally has no idea Don is supposed to be ugly (despite the fact that he's played by Wayne Knight), and finds his power as a police officer sexy (despite the fact that he has almost no real power). This becomes even more hilarious in a later episode, where Sally convinces herself she's ugly while still seeing Don as the hottest man on the planet.
    • The first time she sees him without his uniform though, she doesn't recognize him. When he insists it's really him, she blows him off, but is instantly attracted to him again when he comes to confront her in-uniform. They both figure out what's going on and Don proposes a solution: he always wears his uniform around her.
      • This changes as time goes on; she begins to find other aspects of him sexy aside from the uniform (though generally situations in which he is "powerful" somehow - when he was a bouncer, or a karaoke star). She also comes to respect him more when he asserts himself over her shallowness at times, and in the end she cares about him even as she realizes he's an ineffectual coward, teaching him how to be a strong police officer before she leaves the planet.
  • The Un-Reveal: We never find out what the aliens' real forms look like.
    • Something about a purple tube. Any further descriptions made only make it weirder.
    • And apparently they were disappointed that as humans they could no longer lick their backs.
    • Not only that, but just why are they so afraid of Jell-O?
      • Or snow?
        • Jello looks like some sort of alien monster that tried to eat them and snow looks like brain eating parasites. They mentioned it in "Selfish Dick" and "Frozen Dick", respectively.
          • Harry: They're here! They're here! Albino brain chiggers! COVER YOUR EARS!
  • Un Confession: Used several times over the course of the series with the Solomons admitting they were aliens, though of course it never carried any consequences past the episode in question.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Everyone, really, and increasingly so as the show goes along. Dick, Mary, and (mostly in the later seasons) Sally are the most obvious examples, but Harry, Kyle and Tommy have had their Jerkass moments too. As John Lighgow points out, they could get away with really outrageous things under the pretense of "they're aliens, so they don't know any better." Note how Mary, who doesn't have that excuse, never really crosses the line of normal sitcom character behavior.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "I'm going to go in there... and put my feet... in her purse."
    • Explanation: Dick's evil replacement asked Sally to explain to him what the "it" Mary was referring to was. Rather than telling him about sex, she apparently told him that the above quote is what drives women crazy.
  • Wacky Guy: Harry Solomon.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: The family apparently wins the lottery every time, but tears up the tickets and just enjoys the fun of playing the lottery.
    • It's unknown whether this is because this qualifies as a 'global change' (similar to blowing up the Earth), or they simply don't know that the lottery actually involves money. Likely the second.
  • Written-In Absence: Tommy wasn't around much in the final season since he had gone off to college. As had Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
  • Yiddish as a Second Language: In "Proud Dick", Dick quits his job at the university over a parking space dispute. Sally asks why Dick got "meshugenah" over something that petty.
    • Dick's ex-wife, Janet, spent her entire trip to Earth studying The Joy of Cooking, The Joy of Sex, and The Joy of Yiddish.
  • You Are the New Trend: Dick's Salute Dance.
  • You Can't Handle the Parody:

Dick: You want the truth? You want the TRUTH!? Well I can't handle the truth!

  • You Will Be Spared: As Dick's evil replacement was assessing Dick's class, he tells Leon that he will be spared and made to carry heavy loads.