Family Matters

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One of the quintessential sitcoms of The Nineties. Started as a spin-off of Perfect Strangers with background character Harriet Winslow and her husband Carl, a policeman. The show is about their picturesque family living on a working-class income. Carl's mother Estelle moved in with them in the first episode, and that is essentially how the show began.

Compared to the later seasons, it seemed rather quaint.

Mid-way through the first season, the annoying neighbor and Hollywood Nerd Steve Urkel was introduced, intended as a one-shot character revolving around Carl finding a tame guy to take his daughter Laura to a dance. Actor Jaleel White hit the role so enthusiastically that some college students in the studio audience started chanting "Urkel" repeatedly. This was a pleasant surprise to the producers, who quickly signed up White to return as a regular.

His wackiness and prominence got to the point where Steve was the go-to example of an Extroverted Nerd. As it went on, Urkel came to dominate the show, and more and more episodes revolved around him and his wacky sci-fi inventions.

The Winslow family members came to be defined by their relationship with Steve: the oldest son Eddie was his best friend, Laura was his unrequited love interest, Estelle always recognized his good heart, Harriette kept Carl from killing him. In fact, the youngest daughter, Judy Winslow, was phased out to a life of porn because she didn't have much interaction with him.

It's notable in being the most successful sitcom aside from The Cosby Show to focus on African-American characters, as well as not make race an overwhelming topic. It's also like the one millionth time Reginald VelJohnson was cast as a policeman, after Die Hard, Turner and Hooch and Ghostbusters.

Sometimes described as a Spiritual Successor to Happy Days; the two shows have many superficial similarities.[1]

Tropes used in Family Matters include:
  • Abusive Parents: Steve's never seen parents are this normally for laughs. Examples include trying to push him back into the womb, not owning a car because he was born in one, neglecting to feed him, making him pay rent even as a child, and finally moving to Russia without him.
    • Of course, with his parents gone, Steve moved in with the Winslows, whom he liked better, by his own admission: "Big Guy, I love you like a father, and my father like... a neighbor."
    • And who can forget the time that Steve had to stay with the Winslows while his parents went on their second honeymoon. He almost casually mentions that they went on separate honeymoons. So as to not repeat the horrible accident they had on their first. Him.
  • Acrofatic: Carl, but he's a cop.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Several examples:
    • Many of the earlier episodes would have at least one character learning to be nicer to Urkel (particularly after he would stick up for them or, in the case of Laura, expose a potential boyfriend with an unsavory agenda), then promptly forget it the very next episode. This was downplayed and eventually forgotten by the later seasons.
    • During the series' early years, Eddie was especially prone to this. He threatened to move out at least twice (and did so on one of those occasions) after conflicting with Carl over house rules; and at least twice got into trouble for getting into minor accidents ... without having a valid driver's license (both times to raise his value to girlfriend, Jolene). At least three other times, he got into trouble for gambling ... one time landing himself and Urkel in jail (when the police busted an illegal casino) and at least twice when he ran into people who threatened to beat him (or Urkel, or them both) to death if they didn't pay their debts.
      • In the gambling instance, it took Eddie's fourth time in losing money to realize that gambling was not the way to recoup losses (he and Waldo had been swindled out of thousands after a con man promised them tickets/locker room passes/opportunities to date the cheerleaders to a Chicago Bulls game, and Eddie goes to his father for assistance; Carl threatens to press charges and that is enough to scare the con man into paying Eddie back).
  • Alliterative Name: Jerry Jamal Jameson (3J).
    • Waldo Geraldo Faldo.
  • All Just a Dream: In one episode, Laura partners up with Steve for a science project, hoping to get an easy "A". She falls asleep on the couch at one point and dreams that he accidentally nukes Chicago, complete with a mushroom cloud echoing "DID I DO THAT?"
  • All Men Are Perverts: Played surprisingly straight for a kid-friendly sitcom. Aside from Steve, Waldo and Eddie, nearly every school-age male on the show cheats on and/or demands sex from women (specifically, Laura and Maxine).
    • In one episode, Eddie even refuses to introduce his male friends (other than Steve) to Gretta because "they're all players." Really makes you wonder what kinds of people Eddie hangs out with (which is particularly odd since he's supposed to be a "good kid")...
  • Alpha Bitch: Cassie Lynn Nubbles, a girl in high school who tried to blackmail Steve and Laura.
  • Annoying Laugh: Urkel's snorting laugh he always did. "Ah heh-heh-heh *snort**snort*!"
  • Ax Crazy: Myra in the final season.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Twice with Bruce Lee Clones (literal ones, due to Urkel science).
  • Back for the Finale: Jo Marie Payton, the original Harriet, did appear in the last episode, as one of the NASA staff monitoring Steve's space expedition.
  • Badass Family: The Winslows, Urkel and 3J included. Carl, who has taken down crooks and has verbally defended his family (and Urkel) several times and helped to diffuse a bomb. This is understandable because he's a cop. But then there's Urkel, Ritchie and 3J (as Bruce Lee Clones) defeating a street gang, Estelle judo throwing a crook, Rachel tightrope walking on a clothesline several stories in the air (in heels!) to save a drunk Urkel from plummeting to his death and Harriet telling off her boss.
  • Bad Job, Worse Uniform: The Mighty Weenie's hat.
  • Beautiful All Along: Steve's "Stefan Urquelle" persona shows us that all he has to do to be attractive is get some contacts and flattering clothes, and stand up straight.
    • Toning down the voice and not breaking shit all the time didn't hurt either.
  • Beta Couple: Waldo and Maxine, Eddie and Laura's respective best friends, eventually begin dating.
  • Black and Nerdy: Take a guess.
  • Book Dumb: Eddie.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the Western All Just a Dream episode, the characters are constantly looking for the source of the incidental music, which continues outside of the dream at the end of the episode.
    • At the end of another episode, the Winslows are spring-cleaning, and Steve brings a humongous vacuum cleaner. Once he turns it on, it sucks in the entire scene (literally), leaving Steve in front of a black background with the Winslows shouting from inside the vacuum.
  • Breakout Character: Steve Urkel.
  • Broken Aesop: Urkel changes from a Be Yourself paragon to a Transformation Ray abuser.
    • He gets better after he manages to clone himself. Rather than transforming into Stefan, Steve opts to improve himself the old-fashioned way. Several episodes even center around him trying to change the way he talks and dresses in order to be less grating.
  • Bruce Lee Clone: Steve actually becomes one occasionally through use of his transformation chamber.
  • The Bully: Really, 90% of the show's incidental characters are this - or, at least, those who are related to Eddie, Urkel and Laura. By the time all three characters were in college, this made almost no sense.
  • Cannot Stand Them Cannot Live Without Them: Anytime Urkel focuses his attention on another girl Laura shows shades of this to various degrees. She eventually falls in love with and agrees to marry him.
  • Car Meets House: Eddie drives his car into the house after failing his driving test, but taking a girl out for a ride anyway.
  • The Cast Showoff: Darius McCrary (Eddie) is featured singing on several episodes.
    • And in the Bruce Lee episodes Jaleel gets to show off his magnificent upper body and his love of Kung-Fu. And his accordion playing, which is actually quite good. And Urkel was made into a basketball prodigy despite having no athletic talent anywhere else.
    • Reginald Vel Johnson's singing and dancing.
    • Telma Hopkins in the earlier shows.
    • Shawn Harrison's tap dancing was made into a plot point where Waldo learned the art to better play basketball.
  • Cast the Expert: Invoked in-universe. In "A Ham Is Born", Carl Winslow moonlights as a security guard at a movie studio where a police drama is being filmed. The movie director is annoyed at Carl's opinion of a film scene until Carl mentions his 20-year experience as a Chicago police officer. After Carl demonstrates the actual procedure for arresting criminals, the impressed director decides to cast Carl Winslow as the new leading protagonist of the film. Ultimately, Carl quits his career as a film star because he, as a married man, refuses to kiss the leading actress, even if it was only part of the movie storyline.
  • Catch Phrase: Urkel's ubiquitous "Did I do that?"
    • Later: "Look what you did."
    • "YES!" "I said no." "But last week you said 'drop dead nerd-boy'. I'm wearing you down, baby!"
      • " I'm wearing you DOOOOOOWWWWWWNNNNNN!"
    • "You love me, don't you?"
    • "Shhhhhhh...not while I'm pouring."
    • "Go home, Steve!" "But-" "Go home, go home, go home!" "I don't have to take this. I'm going home."
    • "Well, at least no one was hurt." "Not yet..."
    • "Got any cheese?"
    • "Way to go, Carl!"
    • "(Myra) is one sick puppy."
  • Cat Fight: Narrowly averted by Urkel jumping in between Myra and Laura fighting over him.

Urkel: Girls! Girls! There's no need to fight over me! (Beat) Although it is my dream come true.

    • Myrtle and Greta's (Eddie's girlfriend in the last few seasons) meetings usually result in these. One episode had the two even duking it out in a boxing ring.
  • Celebrity Star: Plenty.
  • Character Development: Carl goes from police Sergeant to Lieutenant to Captain. Harriet goes from elevator operator to department store clerk to Head of Security. Waldo is a Butt Monkey until heading off to culinary school. Eddie the underachiever spends the final season working as a cop, even evoking a Mama Bear moment from Harriet at the end of the series.
  • Characterization Marches On: Waldo was originally a crony of one of Eddie's classmates, Willie, who was the school bully. One of his earliest appearance was the first "Do The Urkel" dance and he was the one handing out alcohol from his trench coat. He wasn't exactly the honest and innocent person he was later known for, but there were traces of it. He was re-imagined as one of both Eddie and Steve's best friends (with Willie rarely seen again), getting a title credit and starts dating Laura's friend Maxine.
    • Fridge Brilliance: He and Willie were arrested for illegally serving beer at a party (which nearly got Urkel killed). Waldo (dumb as he was) was most likely smart enough to distance himself from Willie afterwards.
  • Chemistry Can Do Anything: Is seen with Steve's transmogrification device.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Judy Winslow. She went to her bedroom to play with her NES and was never seen again. Eddie's pal Rodney also abruptly stopped appearing.
    • Well, some NES games can take a long time to beat.
    • Rachel is a subversion. Telma Hopkins left the series as a regular after the fourth season, but made recurring appearances in Season 6 (which demonstrated that she was still at the Winslow household even if she wasn't seen). She didn't appear at all afterwards, until a final season episode stated that she had a job out of town.
  • Class Reunion
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Myra and Myrtle.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Waldo, at his best.
  • Cock Fight: Richie vs 3J in a Valentine's Day Episode. Richie wins.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mother Winslow.
    • Cool Old Guy: Her eventual husband, Fletcher, to a lesser extent. Though he does own a Harley.
  • Cousin Oliver: 3J.
  • Covers Always Lie: The DVD cover for Season 1. Certainly, Urkel overshadowing everyone else is accurate of the series as a whole, but not of season 1: He only has a prominent role in a handful of episodes, and was shoe-horned into a few new teasers shot for syndication to create the illusion that he was always a part of the show. About half the episodes in the set are entirely Urkel-free.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: In one episode, Carl got electrocuted, leading to him being saved by Urkel. Textbook Hollywood CPR ensues, but he doesn't forget a mouth barrier.
  • Crossover: An episode of Full House dealt with one of DJ's friends complaining that her irritating cousin from Chicago was coming to San Francisco to visit: that cousin turned out to be none other than Steve Urkel, who proceeds to wreak as much havoc in the Tanner household as he usually does with the Winslows.
    • Likewise in Step by Step, where he arrives to help Mark with a science project. Somewhat more justified than the above example, as Chicago is only a jetpack ride away from Wisconsin.
  • Dance Sensation: "Do The Urkel".
    • And in both appearances, a school dance takes place that he gets to participate in, leading to everybody doing "The Urkel".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone takes turns at this, but actually Urkel managed to outdo them all.
  • Demoted to Extra: Aunt Rachel. She left the show as a regular, but made occasional appearances afterwards.
  • Denser and Wackier: Until Urkel turned science into magic, this was just a mundane sitcom.
  • Department of Child Disservices: 3J doesn't have much stability in his life until mentored by Steve and fostered by the Winslows. Lampshaded repeatedly in "3J In The House".
  • Derailing Love Interests: Poor Myra had always been crazy, especially where Steve was concerned. But during the breakup arc in the last season she went off the deep end: she broke up with Steve, but it was a ploy to get him to beg her to take him back. Then, when he refused to continue the relationship, she sued him for 'Alienation of Affection' and even got Johnnie Cochrane as her lawyer. Oh, and she installed a spy cam in his glasses so she could watch him through a monitor in her bedroom!
  • Did Not Do the Research: In "Body Damage", Rachel points out that the car is a 1936 Ford. Carl adds that it was driven by Eliot Ness. For those playing along at home, Eliot Ness was a Prohibition agent in Chicago. Illinois ratified the 21st Amendment (the one that nulled Prohibition) in 1933. By 1936, he was an alcohol tax agent (he was looking for moonshiners who didn't have liquor licenses) in Cleveland.
    • Ness probably drove a car at the time. Is this about if the car could have been in Illinois in the present day of the show? Because cars do tend to get moved around.
      • It was a Chicago city police car, at that.
    • Speaking of which, in a scene on the El train, it doesn't look a thing like the actual Els in Chicago!
  • The Ditz: Eddie's buddy Waldo.
  • Ditzy Genius: Steven Q. Urkel.
  • DIY Disaster: one episode centered around a do-it-yourself home bathroom repair idea. Naturally, the toilet flusher ends up turning on the shower, the sink ends up turning on the bathtub, the bathtub ends up turning on the sink, etc.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Urkel.
  • Dom Com
  • Drop-In Character: Urkel.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Inverted.
    • During the final season (or maybe the second-to-last season?), there was an episode that REALLY highlighted how much the show had changed. It involved a time machine sending the characters back in time to a pirate ship in the 1700's. Words cannot describe how surreal it felt watching Carl, Laura, and Maxine fighting a group of pirates.
      • Carl hilariously acknowledges this in the first (of two) time-machine episodes, going through a litany of Urkel's previous inventions and concluding that a time machine is "no big deal" at this point. In the same episode, when asked where he got the plutonium to make his time-machine's nuclear batteries, Urkel casually replies, "Radio Shack." Carl is unfazed.
  • Establishing Shot: Miller - Boyett loves to use these, and makes a habit of it.
  • Estranged Soap Family: Aunt Rachel leaves the show, but somehow her son Richie stays around, which means that his mother is still around somewhere. She is apparently unable to make it to a number of important events.
  • Extroverted Nerd: Steve Urkel, who eventually became an example of a Creator's Pet. Also the former Trope Namer.
  • First Girl Wins: In the end, Laura eventually did warm up to Steve. The end of the series has the two engaged and had the show ran one more season, would've saw them wed.
  • Flanderization: Of Urkel, and really the entire show.
    • Actually Urkel got most of the character development on the show, going from a one-note character (nerd in love with Laura) To a much more assertive and confident young man who managed to improve upon himself as time went on. The rest of the show was Flanderized to be centered around him though.
    • His skills at science were Flanderized, however, with him going from a bright but mundane high-school nerd to a full Mad Scientist who can wrap the laws of physics around his little finger.
  • Freudian Excuse: Urkel's attachment to the Winslows (especially Carl) stems from his parents rather frigid treatment of their own son, eventually all but abandoning him for an extended research project. The Winslows act as a stable surrogate family for him.
  • Full-Name Basis: Waldo.
    • Waldo Faldo?
      • Waldo Geraldo Faldo?
  • Full House Music: While Family Matters did not employ this trope as often as the respective Trope Namer, it should be noted that the two shows share a production company, as well several staff members.
  • Game Show Appearance: When Carl and Urkel have a quarrel that can't be resolved by normal means, they take their case to...American Gladiators!
    • Eddie made two game show appearances of his own.
  • Genius Ditz: Waldo is revealed to be a prodigy when it comes to cooking.
    • And tap dancing.
  • Genki Girl: Myra in the beginning.
  • Genre Shift: Steve Urkel's inventions were often so amazing, and began appearing with so much frequency, that the show could have quite reasonably been considered a sci-fi/comedy rather than a simple Dom Com during the last few seasons.
  • The Ghost: Steve's parents are never seen in person.
  • Halfway Plot Switch
  • Hidden Depths: Waldo is generally an idiot, but he displays an amazing cooking talent in his first class. Also, when approached about cheating on test, he refuses - saying, "I may get Fs, but by God, I earn them!"
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: The Season 2 episode "I Should Have Done Something", where Carl blames himself for a hostage situation gone tragically wrong, even though he and fellow officers followed procedure to the letter (what had happened was that a drug-crazed man robbed a convenience store and took an elderly man hostage, but just as it appears Carl has successfully negotiated with the suspect to free his hostage, the young man shoots the hostage in the head, killing him instantly). Carl finally gets closure when he meets with the hostage's widow at a cemetery, and learns that no one – except for the robber – is responsible.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Estelle, as revealed during a photo show-and-tell for Eddie's class.
  • Jerkass: Most of the Winslow Family (Except Harriette, Grandma Winslow, and Richie) act like this toward Urkel in every episode, regardless of how he helped them out in the previous episode.
    • Urkel even acts like this sometimes. During the episode "Hell Toupee", Urkel outright tells Myra that "As soon as I get a feeling that Laura wants me, I'm done with you."
  • Kidanova: 3J.
  • The Klutz: Urkel.
  • Lie Detector
  • Long Runners: 9 seasons, for better or worse, definitely due to Urkel.
  • Lost Wedding Ring: Down the master bathroom sink. The entire plot is, For Want of a Nail, A Recycled Script from Full House.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Laura Winslow loved and fawned over Stefan Urquelle, and was visibly disappointed when Steve returned.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: Used twice in "A Pair of Ladies".
  • Malaproper: Waldo. "If you cut me, do I not sneeze?"
  • Manipulative Editing: Almost got Carl convicted in a later episode.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: An Eddie A-plot in one episode. Predictably leads to An Aesop about waiting for love.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Carl was put on an undercover sting with an attractive female co-worker. He couldn't tell Harriet because he was undercover, but she got wind of his late-night meetings with the other woman and...
    • Eddie once brought 2 girls back to the apartment he was sharing with Waldo. Maxine showed up and, thinking that Waldo was cheating on her, broke up with him. Luckily, the girls were so moved by Waldo's sorrow (and so disgusted by Eddie's actions), that they explained everything to Maxine.
  • Moebius Neighborhood: Steve is the only neighbor that the Winslows mention for about five years, until Nick Neidemeyer moves into the house on the opposite side.
  • Mundane Fantastic: Urkel's sci-fi inventions in the otherwise realistic setting of Family Matters.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Not intentional, but Jaleel White became a well built, athletic adult later in the shows run. Steve was supposed to be toothpick-thin with almost no masculine strength, so it wasn't always convincing.
    • This is pretty much the reason why the Bruce Lee Clone episodes were written, Jaleel White was an athletic and well-built young man (and huge Bruce Lee fan).
  • N-Word Privileges: The Season 2 episode "Fight the Good Fight". Laura and Urkel petition the school to begin a Black History Month at Vanderbilt High, but things get ugly when a group of racist students threaten the two; things come to a head—and the trope kicks in—when Laura discovers that her locker is spray-painted with the word "nigger". The original episode was intact in terrestrial syndication prints and ABC Family, but in TVLand/NickAtNite airings the scene quickly fades to a commercial before Laura discovers the offending word.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Seen in virtually every episode, especially the early Urkel years, thanks to the nerd's never-ending clumsiness. The Winslows' never-ending exasperation with Urkel breaking things was expanded on in several episodes, most notably "Words Hurt" (Urkel is so traumatized by Carl's rant over a busted ship-in-a-bottle that he repeatedly raps Carl over the head with a rolled-up newspaper, in such a state of shock that he refuses to explain to a concerned Harriet; a hypnotist gets to the truth) and "What's Up Doc?" (a flashback-filled episode featuring numerous "How Urkel Breaks Things" incidents; Harriet again rides to the nerd's rescue).
  • Orwellian Editor: Even though Urkel was first introduced in episode 12, the show's producers filmed new teasers for episodes 4, 7, 8, and 10 with him in them, in order to create the illusion that he was a part of the show from the very beginning; these new episodes are what air in syndication. The first season DVD restored the original teasers in three out of four cases; the fourth (for episode 4, "Rachel's First Date") appears to be lost to history.
  • Out of Focus: Harriet Winslow, the character for whom the series was developed in the first place, was eclipsed so completely by Steve Urkel's shadow that actress Jo Marie Payton eventually quit the show in disgust, as noted above.
  • Oven Logic: Laura tries to cut the baking time in half for a home-economic cake by doubling the oven temperature. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Go home, Steve!", usually followed by "I don't have to take this. I'm going home."
  • Please Dump Me
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Urkel (well duh), Waldo, Myra and 3J, but surprisingly not Maxine.
  • Proud to Be a Geek: Urkel.
  • Put on a Bus: Estelle, Rachel, Richie, Myra and Waldo. All but Waldo appeared in the last season, with Waldo being mentioned a couple times.
  • Recurring Character: Maxine.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Waldo Geraldo Faldo.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Urkel creates Urkelbot, which soon develops a mind of its own and wants Laura for itself. After that situation, he later become a Robocop.
  • Robot Girl: Laurabot was built after Urkelbot was shut down and reprogrammed.
  • Running Gag: The over-the-top Food Fights.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Laura, Harriet, Rachel, and Mother Winslow all took turns at this. Some ladies more than others. Mother Winslow is an odd example of this trope seeing as how she's usually sweet and kind... except when she's trying to prove a point, of course.
    • Maxine had her moments of this trope too.
      • Myra also had some memorable uses of this trope.
  • Sexier Alter Ego: Steve Urkel had a machine that turned him into a sexier version of himself who was smooth and a ladies man without a hint of nerdiness.
  • Shout-Out: In one episode, Steve creates a self-aware nuke, which has a video screen with an AI version of himself on it in front of pretty much the same background as Max Headroom. The AI Urkel even did the Max Headroom-type stuttering.
  • Show Stopper: Urkel.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Richie went from an infant in the first season to a four year old at the start of the second.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Steve to Laura, Myrtle to Eddie, Myra to Steve.
    • The first two were played for laughs, with a mixture of Dogged Nice Guy for Steve. Myra, however, was a creepy as they came. At one point, Steve finds out that she's painted a portrait of him. He notices that the background has his computer and other details of his bedroom that Myra (to his knowledge) has never been in. And most disturbing of all:

Steve: "That's me . . . As naked as a jaybird."

Laura: (hopefully) Are you going, too?
Harriette and Carl: (hopefully) Is Steve going, too?

Eddie: There's nothing wrong with the car!

  • Swapped Roles: In a Christmas special, Laura tells Steve that she wants him out of her life and wishes he knew how it was like to be her. Her wish is granted by her Guardian Angel and Steve and Laura switch places. Steve being apart of the Winslow family, is a normal kid even having a normal voice, while Laura becomes an Extroverted Nerd and pursues for Steve's affections. This time Steve tells Laura that he wants her out of his life and even coldly slams the door in her face after she tells him that she'll still love him.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: After not being taken seriously at a used car lot, Laura returns as "Larry".
  • Syndication: Has been on in syndication almost continually for about 20 years, much like another Miller-Boyett show.
  • Tempting Fate: When Myra threatens to sue Steve for "Alienation of Affection", he declares that she'd need "the best lawyer in America" to win. Myra opens the door and lets in her attorney: Johnnie Cochran.
  • Theme Tune: "As Days Go By". Not used in the last three seasons. The pilot used "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong.
  • There Is Only One Bed: Involving Urkel and Laura in a hotel. During the whole ordeal, Urkel takes crap from Laura until he finally snaps and unloads on her.
    • Considering that he drove her to her cheerleading meet and didn't get a dime in gas or even a "Thank you" out of her, it was a Crowning Moment of Awesome when he finally told her off.
  • Title-Only Opening: The last three seasons.
  • Token White:
    • Lieutenant (later Captain) Murtaugh.
    • Later, the annoying neighbor.
    • The first, back in the Urkel-light days, was Eddie's friend Rodney.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sometimes you have to wonder just how Waldo made to high school...
  • Took a Level in Badass: Happened every time Steve went into his transformation booth to gain the personality, fighting skills and even the accent and hairstyle of Bruce Lee.
  • Transformation Ray
  • Two Lines, No Waiting
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue: This is how we (and Eddie and Laura) find out about Waldo's interest in Maxine, and how their first date went.

All: Well, good night! (Everyone hangs up in unison)

  • Unfortunate Name: Actually unfortunate initials in the case of one Carl Otis Winslow.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Steve and Laura.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend
  • Vignette Episode: Steve hosts a Valentine's Day episode that is split into stories about First Love, True Love, and Lasting Love.
    • There is another episode about taking credit from others, but it's easily forgotten because everyone involved in the framing device eventually disappeared.
  • Waxing Lyrical: At least twice, the kids use lines from Bobby Brown's "It's my Prerogative" in Season one. Later, Myra does the same with a Stevie Wonder song.
  • Wham! Episode: Although the show rarely dealt with racism, there was an episode where Eddie got stopped and roughed up by a pair of cops because he was a black kid in a white neighborhood, and had to deal with the after effects of discrimination.
    • There was also the episode where Laura's locker was defaced and she was harassed for starting a petition to add Black History to the regular school curriculum.
    • And the time Eddie was teased for being a virgin and eventually had to confront his friends for it.
    • Another episode dealt with guns and had a friend of Maxine's getting shot in the shoulder (offscreen). They even had a special segment after the episode where the actors talk about how dangerous guns were.
    • Another episode had a street gang named The Dragons who come into Rachel's restaurant and causes trouble. When Rachel, Harriet, Laura and Eddie stood up to them and tells them to leave, they refuse and tries to vandalize the place only for Carl to arrive in time to stop them and force them to leave. That very night the family finds out that The Dragons broke into the restaurant after closing time and heavily vandalized the place. If things weren't already bad enough, a bruised and bloodied Eddie staggers into the restaurant.
  • Wire Dilemma: Carl finds himself on a treadmill that will detonate without a rider. It speeds up, and Lt. Murtaugh enters. The two switch out long enough for Carl to catch his breath, and, on a whim, Carl settles for the yellow wire. Also a Crowning Moment of Awesome and Crowning Moment of Funny.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Urkel. The ubiquity was and still is amazing.
  • Yandere: Or her name isn't Myra Boutros Boutros Monkhouse.
  • Yes, Virginia: Twice, and Richie was never the unbeliever.
  • You Fail Logic Forever: In one episode, Urkel joins the Winslow's family's church. He reports that his father doesn't approve, because "You can't see or feel God." Urkel supposedly counters with: "I can't see or feel an atom, but I know it's there." Estelle tells him that's what it means to have faith (despite the fact an atom is visible under certain microscopes).
    • If you want to be technical, you can feel atoms too. It just takes a lot of them grouped together before you can.
  1. Both by the same production company, and both spinoffs of a popular series. Both about a married couple with three children living in the suburbs of a Midwestern city. In each series, a minor character introduced as an afterthought quickly becomes wildly popular and dominates the show, one of the three original siblings mysteriously disappears and is never mentioned again, and eventually the person for whom the show was intended as a star vehicle in the first place leaves the show entirely.