Leave It to Beaver

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Left to right: Hugh Beaumont, Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley, and Jerry Mathers as The Beaver.

Archetypical 1950s Dom Com, slightly unusual in that it focused on the youngest member of the Cleaver family, 8-year-old (at the start) Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver. He had an older brother, the Junior High-aged Wally (who is the exact opposite of an Emo Teen). Parents Ward and June rounded out the family group. The series debuted on CBS in 1957, then after one season it channel hopped to ABC, where it ran until 1963. The Film of the Series was released in 1997 that was somewhat of a present day look at the Cleaver clan, but with more of an Affectionate Parody vibe.

Probably the third-most famous sitcom of The Fifties, behind I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners. Along with Father Knows Best, it is always invoked when looking back on 1950s culture and family life, whether as a matter of nostalgia, pop culture history, lighthearted parody, or scathing satire. People always seem to dwell on the tract housing with white picket fences, or the fact that June Cleaver always wore pearls and high heels, even when doing the most menial tasks.

The Beaver was played by Jerry Mathers in the series, and by Cameron Finley in the film. Wally was played by Tony Dow in the series, and by Erik von Detten in the film. Ward was played by Hugh Beaumont in the series, and by Christopher McDonald in the film. June was played by Barbara Billingsley in the series, and by Janine Turner in the film.

Tropes used in Leave It to Beaver include:
  • Aesop Amnesia: An archetypical example of a main child character (especially Beaver) forgetting his lesson by the next episode. This trait was spoofed in a TVLand promo for reruns of the series; the lesson would "enter one ear," float around without making contact with the brain, and "go out the other ear."
  • The All-American Boy: Beaver.
  • And Starring: "...Jerry Mathers as the Beaver."
  • Big Brother Is Watching: In a sense, he was in the 1962 episode "Lumpy's Car Trouble," where Wally breaks the rules for borrowing Ward's car for a track meet, by allowing its driver (Lumpy) to take a "shortcut" on the way home. The car's exhaust system was damaged, forcing the boys to push the disabled car along the highway to a nearby garage. Wally and Beaver (along with Lumpy and Eddie) hope the damage won't be noticed, but Ward finds out anyhow: a co-worker of his had seen the boys push the car and (unwittingly) ratted them out. That evening at home, Ward takes his sons aside and tells him he's aware of what happened, and declares the car off limits "for awhile." The trope goes into effect when Wally asks his father who saw them; Ward refuses to reveal his source ... reasoning that—because someone might be watching them—the boys will always have to be on their best behavior.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Eddie Haskell. At least a fifties Dom Com teenager type of evil.
  • Chick Magnet: Wally is pretty laid back about girls, but they aren't laid back about him.
    • Truth in Television: In standard psychology studies, James Bond is the man most women want to sleep with; Ward Cleaver is the man most want to be married to.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Gilbert. In many episodes, he pressures Beaver into doing something that he knows is either wrong, dangerous or stupid, and sometimes would say that he would do it as well. Then, when Beaver caves and gets into trouble, Gilbert would make fun of him, and yet still claim to be his 'best friend'. If it were not for Beaver's innocence and kind nature, Gilbert would not have been so Easily Forgiven.
  • Clip Show: the series finale, Trope Maker
  • The Danza: Future Disney Channel production regular Richard Correll as Richard Rickover
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both the parents, but especially June.
  • Devil in Plain Sight, Drop-In Character, Mouthy Kid: Eddie Haskell
  • Directed by Cast Member: Hugh Beaumont (Ward) helmed several episodes.
  • Dispense with the Pleasantries: From the 1997 movie.

Eddie Haskell Jr.: You looked as though you just walked out the runway.
June Cleaver: Eddie?
Eddie Haskell Jr.: Yes Mrs. Cleaver?
June Cleaver: Cut the crap.

(reading a note attached to flowers sent to Ward)
June: "Who's Cornelia Rayburn? And when did she see you off your feet?"

  • Golden Moment
  • Grand Finale: "Family Scrapbook", which was the first proper series finale in primetime television history. It was also a Clip Show.
  • Happily Married: Ward and June.
  • Hates Baths: Both Wally in the Beaver in the early seasons, when they are still preteens. In the very first episode, they fake taking a bath rather than actually take a bath.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Julie Foster (one of the girls Wally would be seen dating from time to time) was played by original Mouseketeer Cheryl Holdridge.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Eddie occasionally shows that he's not such a bad guy, but don't tell anyone that.
  • High School Hustler: The obsequious-to-adults but Jerkass-to-younger-brothers Eddie Haskell.
  • Hot Mom: Barbara Billingsley was very easy on the eyes.
  • Hot Teacher: Beaver had two female teachers over the series, both of whom were gorgeous.
  • Housewife: June Cleaver is the classic/stereotypical embodiment of the '50s version of the trope.
    • In reference to the pearls and heels while doing housework, Barbara Billingsley (may she RIP) stated that she didn't always wear them. She had a hollow in her neck that showed up quite visibly on camera. Even in later appearances/interviews, she can be seen with either a high-collared blouse or a pearl necklace covering it. Same with the heels. She said she sometimes wore flats, but as Dow and Mathers grew, she thought it would be best to maintain a bit of height over them.
      • June even got to wear slacks in a couple early episodes, but this was eventually nixed by the producers, who felt it too unladylike and/or too sexy for the character.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: It's called "The Toy Parade", if you were wondering.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Gus the firefighter
  • Jerkass: Eddie Haskell
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Ken Osmond was a complete straight arrow in real life, and later became a respected police officer.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Generally averted, though Beaver aged more slowly than the actor portraying him did, especially later on. Still, in the series finale he is explicitly stated to be entering high school; Jerry Mathers was, at the time, a fairly reasonable 15 years old.
  • Parent Ex Machina
  • Picky Eater
  • Pilot: The show originally began as an episode of Studio 57, an anthology series which initially aired on the short-lived DuMont Television Network in its first season, before moving to syndication in its second and final season. In the episode, Ward was played by Max Showalter (credited as Casey Adams) and Wally was played by Paul Sullivan.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: A popularly-spread rumor during the '70s and '80s was that Jerry Mathers had been killed in action during the Vietnam War. This rumor persisted even after the now-adult Mathers appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to specifically refute the rumor by showing he was very much alive and was still an active actor. (Not only that, he never served in Vietnam in the first place.)
    • Dow and Mathers also appeared briefly on an early episode of Saturday Night Live. Mathers joked that he himself had started the rumor because he was afraid people were starting to forget about them. Dow responded, "Gee Beav, you big goof. I oughta slug ya!"
  • Revival: A 1983 Made for TV Movie and a 1985-89 "New" series focusing on the adult life of the Beaver.
  • Serious Business: Frequently, and it's justified in that the show is written from a child's perspective; when you're a kid, a lot of insignificant-when-you're-older stuff really is Serious Business.
  • Standard Fifties Father: Ward Cleaver was the original Trope Namer, back when Standard Fifties Father was called Mister Cleaver.
  • Teacher's Pet: Judy Hensler in Beaver's class borders on The Informant.

Mr. Willet, here's a list of everyone who talked while you weren't in the room.

  • The Teaser: First-season episodes had one narrated by Hugh Beaumont.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: In one episode everyone was agast that Beaver was actually selling water to people! Mind you, it wasn't so much that he took advantage of inside knowledge that the water main would be shut off or that he was selling it out of a bucket on his wagon, but mearly the fact that one person could be low enough to sell water to another person! How Evian spelled backwards of them!
  • Unintentional Period Piece
  • Unwanted Gift Plot: One episode is about Beaver giving his mother a sweater that she really doesn't like, but she's too nice to tell him about it. And then he suggests that she should wear it to a parent/teacher meeting.
  • Very Special Episode: About divorce and alcoholism.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Eddie tries this, but June and Ward can generally see through it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the episode where Beaver and Wally try to raise a baby alligator, Ward and June replace it with a dog that was never seen again.
  • Women Drivers: Referenced but not actually used when June learns to drive relatively late in life.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant