The Cosby Show

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'80s Dom Com loosely based around some of Bill Cosby's best-known standup routines, which were in turn based around his real-life family. Here he stars as loveable obstetrician Clifford Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable, alongside his gorgeous lawyer wife Clair (Phylicia Rashad), and their five children, ranging in age from post-collegiate to preschool (as of the first season): Sondra (Sabrina LeBeauf), Denise (Lisa Bonet), Theo (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), Vanessa (Tempestt Bledsoe), and Rudy (Keshia Knight Pulliam).

Featured a rare inverted Brother Chuck—in the opening episode the parents have the exchange, "Why do we have four children?" "Because we did not want to have five!", but it's later revealed that they do indeed have five. In later seasons, when Rudy had outgrown Cosby's trademark 'kids do the darndest things!' gags, the show introduced a Cousin Oliver in the form of Denise's stepdaughter Olivia, played by Raven-Symone.

In most important respects, this was one of the most successful examples of the genre, dominating the ratings in the '80s (it was the top-rated show for five years in a row). It was heartwarming and likely to end in An Aesop if not a full-on Golden Moment.

The show is still notable for being one of the earliest successful TV series to center on well-to-do African-Americans, without making an issue of (though not ignoring) their race. In fact they considered the key part of the premise being that Cliff and Clair were college educated and practiced prestigious trades, where most other sitcoms (white or black cast) were blue-collar in nature.

Tropes used in The Cosby Show include:
  • Adult Child: Cliff.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Several of the kids never seem to remember just how bad the repercussions are when it comes to lying to Clair.
    • Cliff seems to never learn that lesson either (see Never My Fault below).
  • All Just a Dream: Two during the 1989 season.
    • One of which was a Fake Crossover with The Jim Henson Hour.
    • The other being one where all of the men get pregnant.
    • Subverted in the first episode in Season 4 where Cliff thinks this is the case for Sondra and Elvin's shocking announcement. He is, of course, dead wrong.
    • Another involving a night full of dreams for Rudy in which Olivia gets preferential treatment Up to Eleven (e.g. when covering the walls with crayon, Cliff and Clair gush about her artistic ability), complete with a Supremes-esque Greek Chorus.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parent: Cliff seems to intentionally be this most of the time when the children bring their dates or some other company to the house.
  • An Aesop
    • Subverted in a Season 4 episode where Theo and Vanessa expect Cliff to make a speech or do something to end the crisis of the episode but Cliff refuses because he's tired.
    • And again in a Season 7 episode after Vanessa covers up being in a minor car accident with Cliff's car; the sit-down turns into a good-natured discussion about how much the parents do for the children and how the kids put up with some of the inane things the parents do, and Vanessa even avoids big trouble and the Aesop.
  • And That's Terrible: Cliff's sarcastic reaction to Clair's complaints about what the city is doing in the Season 2 episode "The Dentist". And it's not that he doesn't care, he just wants to sleep.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Theo's friend Denny gives his girlfriend a stolen watch that he recovered from the street, he has to tell the truth about the story at the police station after she's arrested. It doesn't go well.

Denny: "She called me a 'Miserable, conniving cretin.' Then she turned to the desk sergeant and said, 'Have him arrested for impersonating a man!'"

  • Batman Gambit: The most appropriate trope for how the family sets Theo up for his "real world" experience in Season 2.
  • Beautiful All Along
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Explains in part how Sondra showed up.
  • Berserk Button: Never under any circumstances let Clair catch you in a web of lies: being an attorney she's also an expert at unraveling them and trying to further cover them up only makes things worse.
    • Phylicia Rashad stated that Clair only truly got angry at one of the children when she feels they've squandered their potential. Sondra's not going to law school to open a wilderness store and Denise's getting married to a navy man who already has one kid are the crowning examples.
    • Don't say that Cliff would kick one of his children out of the house. When Denise tells him that she assumed he would kick her out if she dropped out of college, it's one of the only times in the show that we see him truly angry.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Vanessa believes this applies to a woman in Sondra and Elvin's first apartment complex as she once saw a horror movie where a similar woman ended up being Ax Crazy.
    • In one early episode, Elvin says he never gets angry, but there are two instances in the show when he finally does. The first is during Cliff's dream where the men get pregnant and Elvin ends up shouting at Martin repeatedly to "Shut up!" and even smacks him. The second is when Cliff goes a little too far with the teasing about not co-signing Elvin's home loan and he delivers an epic, "SIGN IT!"
  • Big Applesauce
  • Big Brother Instinct: Having four sisters, Theo exhibits this fairly often, even though two of them are older than he is.
  • Big Eater: Theo, especially after he enters college.
  • Big No: Vanessa, after she learns she has a pimple that she can't easily cover up with a headband.

Cliff: "What is she trying to do, outrun it?"

    • Also done by Rudy and her friends when Cliff pretends(?) to ditch them after the Vaudeville show.
  • Black and Nerdy: Elvin.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done by Olivia and Clair after Clair demonstrates a majorette's baton twirling routine and Olivia says, "Look, Mrs. Huxtable, those people over there love you!" Clair turns to the audience and says, "They do!"
  • Brick Joke: One in Season 8. Kenny was about to give his girlfriend, Deidre, tube socks for her birthday but changed his mind at the last second. In the next episode, he gave them to Theo as a graduation gift (but kept one pair for himself).
    • A lesser example in Season 1 when Clair describes that dancing with Cliff is like being a part of a pro wrestling match. That's exactly how he dances with her at the end of the episode.
  • Broken Aesop: This exchange from a Season 1 episode:

Cliff: "Well, I'm pretty sure you've learned your lesson."
Theo: "Oh, I've learned it, Dad! Whatever it is, I've learned it!"

  • Brother Chuck: Theo's best friend Walter "Cockroach" Bradley appeared frequently during the first half of the series, was very close to the family, and even started to get some individual development ("An Early Spring"), then abruptly stopped appearing without explanation. The episode after his final appearance is even focused on Theo and Cockroach's gang of friends' locker room antics, which Cockroach would normally have been present for. Word still has it that his actor, Carl Anthony Payne II, refused to cut his hair as per Bill Cosby's wishes (the kids all changed hairstyles regularly throughout the series) and was eventually fired or left the show as a result. Sad stuff. And the haircut in question, that was apparently worth leaving the cast of what was currently the most beloved show on television? Snip.
    • Rudy's friend and neighbor Peter also went poof after the first episode of Season 6 and was never mentioned again. He did appear in one last appearance in a season 8 episode, but had no dialogue and wasn't referred to by name.
    • Anyone remember Vanessa's best friend, Janet, from the first few seasons? She appears once or twice per season for most of the series. Her final appearance is in Season 6.
  • But Not Too Black: Pretty much averted in the case of only casting lighter skin African-American actors. Clair, Elvin, Denise, and Sondra have lighter skin while Cliff, Theo, Vanessa, and Rudy are darker.
    • Subverted entirely with Pam and her friends. They are the most stereotypically black characters in the show.
  • Catch Phrase: Several were attempted: "Bacon burger dog!" and "I zrbtt you!" Only Kenny really got one that lasted with, "My brother says-".
    • Two of David Langstrom Smyrl's characters can easily be remembered by their, "Well, hello, Mrs. Huxtable."
    • Rudy always tends to say, "Awww, man." when she's told to do something she doesn't want to do.
  • Celebrity Cameo: In the episode Cliff's Nightmare, The Muppets show up inside of Cliff's dream.
  • Character Development: By the end of the series it's very easy to see just how much Sondra, Elvin and Theo have matured.
    • The series almost Book Ends this: The first episode features the memorable scene of Cliff reprimanding Theo for bad grades and that he will never go to college at the rate he's going. The Series Finale features his graduation from college with plans of becoming a teacher himself (as a Lampshade Hanging of this, while sitting in the audience for the graduation, Cliff thinks back to that first episode scene).
    • Denise also gets a serious upgrade over the course of Season 6 and into 7.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The joy buzzer in the Season 3 episode where Elvin and Sondra announce their engagement.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Denise seems to have become this after her return to the show.
    • In Season 8, there's Mrs. Minnifield. She needs to be seen to be believed.
    • Robert becomes one over the course of his appearances on the show from Seasons 2-4.
    • Vanessa begins to show signs of being one through her roundabout ways of revealing she has cold feet about her engagement in the final season. Just what is an "Emotional map?"
    • The Tibideauxs' neighbor Bob.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Mr. Lucas the handyman compares his job with the medical profession because, "They both work with their hands, spend years in training, and wear beepers."
  • Continuity Nod: For example, in one seventh-season episode, Vanessa refers to her father's scaring a boyfriend off with an object lesson involving apples; and in another, Rudy mentions Theo's object lesson with Monopoly money from the pilot.
    • Averted at the same time since Vanessa continued to see him even after that object lesson but broke up with him after catching him with another girl.
    • Several other subtle ones exist over the course of the show. One example is Cliff mentioning a chair he broke in Elvin and Sondra's apartment in season 4 when he visits it again in Season 5.
    • There's one in Season 6 that doubles as a Brick Joke: Cliff gives Olivia a hint about where her birthday present is hidden that makes absolutely no sense. Several episodes later, she pulls the same thing on him.
    • In Season 4, Cliff mentions he has a suede tool belt. In season 8, he gives it to Dabnis.
  • Cool Big Sis: Sondra.
  • The Couch
  • Cousin Oliver: Olivia.
    • Later, Cousin Pam.
  • Dancing Theme: Except for Season One.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cliff and Sondra are the primary examples.
    • Dr. Foster as well, especially in his first episode.
  • Deliberately Cute Child: Rudy, later Olivia.
  • DIY Disaster: Cliff has never successfully repaired anything in the house on the first try. His attempt at the dishwasher in Season 1 can be considered Epic Fail while many other off-screen ones are used against him as a Noodle Incident reminder.
    • Subverted in that he does finally fix the doorbell at the very end of the final episode... after it gave Clair and Kenny some nasty shocks earlier.
    • Clair believes that she has managed to fix the toaster while following the instructions from one of Cliff's books. It Got Worse.
  • Dom Com
  • Double Standard: While no one equaled Theo for stepping in it with his words, sometimes his sisters did do or say things that at least approached his level. Yet nowhere in the series it is even discussed pulling a lesson prank on any of them like Theo's 'real world' lesson. Also, as noted in Harsher in Hindsight, where was any sort of 'sorry for leaning on you when you really did have a problem' after his dyslexia was revealed? Granted, it would be hard to know where the dyslexia stopped and being Theo started, but they really put the screws to him on that.
    • One example that averts this is Vanessa. After sneaking out at night to be with her boyfriend, coming home an hour late, and lying about the whole thing while also dragging Rudy into it, Clair grounds her for at least a month. That's the harshest declared punishment dished out to any of the children on the show (Cliff's "appliance probation" was longer, but didn't last).
  • Drop-In Character: Several, the most notably being Cockroach, Peter (early seasons) and eventually Kenny.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: While the basic formula of the show remained the same through the whole series, it took Clair a good number of episodes in Season One to finalize her look.
    • It's also interesting to watch the pilot and seeing half the house look different as it does compared with the rest of the series.
  • Education Mama: And (especially...) Education Papa.
  • Epic Fail: A few ideas and plans perpetrated by the characters often end like this. Cliff's attempts at fixing things around the house without professional help always end like this too.
    • Theo's prom night, bar none.
    • Theo holds a "colloquy" for him and his friends while Cliff and Clair are gone for the weekend. About 200 people show up and the house gets destroyed.
    • Clair decides to unwind in a cabin at a mountain resort. There's no heat in the cabin and one of the maintenance workers is hunting nearby.
    • Vanessa and her friends try to sneak off to Baltimore for a concert. Having their car stolen in Delaware is only the beginning.
  • The Eponymous Show: Bill Cosby in The Cosby Show: Created by Ed. Weinberger & Michael Leeson and William Cosby, Jr., Ed.D.; Theme by Stu Gardner & Bill Cosby; Executive Consultant: William H. Cosby, Jr.; A Carsey-Werner production in association with Bill Cosby.
  • Friends Rent Control: Averted. Cliff is a doctor, Clair is a lawyer, and can easily afford their large beautiful home, although it still seems like a stretch that they can afford college tuition for all of their children. On the flip side, yet in the same vein, recent college graduates Sondra and Elvin live in a crappy apartment and can only afford a new one with help from their parents and don't move into a house until Elvin begins his medical residency.
  • Funny Aneurysm Moment: In Season 6, Martin says he's excited about the prospect of seeing B.B. King perform live (but ends up not getting to). Later in the season, in-universe character Riley Jackson, played by B.B. King, performs for the family.
  • Generation Xerox: Cliff and Clair Huxtable, doctor and lawyer by trade. Elvin and Sondra Tibideaux, doctor and lawyer in training.
  • Genre Savvy: Played for laughs when Vanessa begins noticing similarities between current affairs and old movies she's been watching- even though there's no real connection.
    • Both Clair and Pam have a knack for predicting the twists in romance movies they watch.
  • The Ghost: Kenny's older brother who gives him very sexist advice on women, or just bad advice in general.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Clair will occasionally display her ability to speak Spanish, which is treated as a big deal.
    • Funnily enough, when Phylicia Rashad was auditioning for her role, the director asked if she spoke Spanish. She then went on a long spiel in Spanish and ended it with saying, "No big deal."
    • Cliff attempts this in one episode and fails miserably. "Rice y con zapatos," anyone? So he just listens for his name.
  • Happily Married: Cliff and Clair, Cliff's parents, Clair's parents, and for the most part, Elvin and Sondra and Denise and Martin.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In-universe example. Theo's poor grades are a focal point of earlier seasons and even lead to a classic example of Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard when he tries to make excuses for it, especially since they appear to be due more to laziness rather than a lack of intelligence. In a later season, it is discovered that Theo has dyslexia. Suddenly his academic struggles make perfect sense and Cliff and Clair look pretty bad for berating him.
    • Actually, it's a case of art imitating life, as Bill Cosby noted that this happened in real life to his son, Ennis.
  • Henpecked Husband: Cosby of course. Elvin too, most notably in the episode where he innocently goes to dinner with two girls that he once knew—at Sondra's insistence and over his own insistence that he NOT go out without Sondra. When he gets home, Sondra won't speak to him when he comes home one hour late and tells her that he paid the check. Elvin ends up completely bewildered as to why Sondra's so angry with him.
    • Alternative Character Interpretation also kicks in here as the whole mess begins with Sondra deciding at the last minute to not go out with the group, despite the date having been set a week ago, to work on her law school application. And throw in Poor Communication Kills when she basically expected Elvin to read her mind regarding her wishes just to be himself and not to be a gentleman.
  • Hide and No Seek: In one episode, Cliff sends Olivia upstairs to find his slippers because he doesn't want to play with her. He then tells her to find his yellow robe. However, Olivia becomes wise to his game because Rudy tells her that she's being tricked.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: Phylicia Rashad was visibly pregnant for much of season 3, and the writers ended up having her baby bump obscured by various props (most notably having Clair hold a giant teddy bear for no explainable in-universe reason).
    • Bill Cosby hilariously lampshades this in some behind-the-scenes footage and outtakes where he continually pointed out the baby belly and even planned to have a car in the living room to hide it in one episode.
  • Hot Mom: Clair, and later Sondra.
  • Idiot Ball: While Cliff often has some wonderfully funny plots at sneaking food that he's normally not allowed to have (due to his wife's concern about his health), his excuse for eating Elvin's egg salad in Season 8 is such an example of holding the Idiot Ball that it proves how the show had jumped the shark by that point.
    • To clarify, Elvin's family was living with the Huxtables while waiting to close on their new house. Elvin made himself an egg salad to eat after work and left it in the fridge with the label of "E T," his initials. Cliff's excuse for stealing it was he thought it meant "Eat This."
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Averted with Theo, though he did end up in a rather elite school.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kenny is a good friend to Rudy. He's also very sleazy and fairly sexist. These two facts are mutually exclusive. He'd almost count as a Poisonous Friend if Rudy wasn't too sharp to listen to the things he says, usually at least.
  • Kangaroo Court: Clair sets one up to get Theo to confess to telling half-truths over a recent incident.
  • Karma Houdini: Subverted every single time one of the kids tries to hide something from the parents as they always get caught.
    • Vanessa is the best example because Karma catches up with her and her friends numerous times when they try to go to a concert by The Wretched.
      • To elaborate: Their car gets stolen, a con artist steals their tickets, a pickpocket steals their remaining money to leave them stranded in Baltimore, and then she has to face Clair. Facing Clair is probably the best example of It Got Worse in the show's history, as the normally mild-mannered Clair loses her gourd.
  • Kent Brockman News: A reporter named Harriet Waters shows up to interview Theo after a fishing trip in which he accidentally hooks the corpse of a murdered mobster. Even more applicable is the newspaper that severely inflated the events of the story earlier in the episode.
  • Lethal Chef: Averted. Cliff is a very good cook, but it's his ingredient choices that often scare people away.
    • Elvin starts out as one, but he gets better.
  • Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: In the second season episode "Close To Home", Samuel E. Wright (AKA the voice of Sebastian the Crab) guest stars as a friend of Cliff's; his daughter has a drug problem. We never hear from the friend or get any updates on the daughter after this episode.
  • Lost in Translation: In the Italian dub, the surname "Huxtable" has been adapted into "Robison". The show itself is titled "I Robinson" (The Robinsons) in Italy. The characters' first names remained unaltered.
  • Love Makes You Stupid: A lot of the incidents where Vanessa gets in trouble are due to her being boy crazy. It begins in season 2 and never really stops.
  • Men Can't Keep House: Averted. As mentioned under Lethal Chef Cliff is actually a fairly good cook, he also helps out with household chores and cleaning.
  • Never My Fault: Cliff. When he asks Elvin what his kids say about him, one of the responses is that he never admits his own mistakes.
  • Newscaster Cameo: Explains setup of first 1989 dream incident where the men end up pregnant. Unlike most examples, a real newscaster provides the voiceover (in this case, John Palmer of NBC News). Also, a couple of times Ahmad Rashad is heard doing sportscasts (also a Shout-Out as Ahmad was Phylicia Rashad's husband at the time).
  • Noodle Incident: Played straight in Clair constantly reminding Cliff of his escapades as a teenager, most especially with Eunice Chantille.
    • In one early episode, Theo apparently has one in order to blackmail Denise.

Theo: "Are you afraid?"
Denise: "No."
Theo: "Good!"

  • Oh Crap: Theo's face just screams this when he sees just how badly the people at his "colloquy" have destroyed the house. His quote is, appropriately enough, "I'm dead."
    • Theo is the master of this trope over the course of the whole show. Other examples include his reactions to his friends seeing him in the shirt Denise made, seeing his math teacher change her appearance to what she looks like in class, walking in on two girls who like him while half-dressed, realizing he'd just been scammed, and many others in episodes where he's a major part of the plot and said plot involves him getting into some kind of trouble.
  • Out-Gambitted: Clair gets sick of Cliff changing the channel on the TV on her, so she takes the batteries out of the remote. Only Cliff has a second remote ready.
  • Overly Long Gag: Not very many, but perhaps the worst offender is when Cliff tempts Clair with multiple birthday cakes on her 46th birthday.
    • Every clip show shows the entirety of the Monopoly money scene from the pilot, making it more of an Overly Used Gag.
  • Palm Fist Tap: One of Eddie's mannerisms.
  • Parental Bonus: Elvin being unable to find the words to describe how wonderful his and Sondra's honeymoon was and Cliff telling him to not talk about it in front of the children.
    • He gets another one in Season 8 when, fearing that he and Sondra could die at the same time if they always stayed together, they should do everything separately including sleeping in different rooms. He quickly changes his mind on that one because, "Some things are worth dying for."
  • Playing Gertrude: Phylicia Rashad, who played Clair, is only ten years older than Sabrina LaBeauf, who played her daughter Sondra.
    • The actors who played Cliff's father and mother are eleven and ten years older than Bill Cosby, respectively.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The reason behind all of the conflict in the Season 7 episode "The Last Barbeque".
  • Preemptive "Shut Up": Done by both Cliff and Clair when they get angry enough.
  • Put on a Bus: Denise, twice. The first came as a fallout due to her appearance in Angel Heart, and clashing with Bill Cosby. In order to get her out of his hair, she got moved to spinoff A Different World. Ironically, she quickly dropped out of that show as well.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Cliff has a lot of pink outfits in Season 1.
  • Rebellious Princess: While not a princess, Vanessa becomes the most rebellious of the children. So much so that it feels like she starts getting cold feet about her engagement after her family starts to approve of it.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: A variant, in that the later themes sampled the older ones.
  • The Rival: Any time Cliff and Dr. James Harmon are placed in the same room, expect them to try and one-up each other in every single possible way. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Running Gag: Several. Some interspersed over the whole show, some limited to various seasons.
    • Peter running out of the house whenever something bad happens.
    • The broken doorbell in Season 8.
    • During the second half of the show, Russel increasingly made connections between Elvis and modern-day events.
    • Any time the script said, "Cliff is cooking dinner," Bill would play the scene in different ways.
    • In Season 2, Clair would put Cliff in a headlock anytime he couldn't remember anything about the details of their early relationship.
    • Early seasons have Cliff's unusual ingredient choices whenever he cooks.
    • Later seasons have Cliff's tendencies to tell stories that don't go anywhere.
  • Shout-Out: The name of Vanessa's fiance in Season 8 is Dabnis, which is "Sinbad" backwards. Quite possibly named after the comedian of the same name and one of Bill Cosby's good friends. Sinbad himself was a guest star as a car salesman in an earlier season.
    • Another example of this involves Cliff's old Navy pal, Scott Kelly in the Season 3 episode, "Bald and Beautiful". The role was played by Robert Culp, Cosby's longtime friend and former co-star in I Spy. In addition, in another Season 3 episode, "You Only Hurt the One You Love", the story partially revolved around Mrs. Granger, one of Cliff's co-workers at the hospital where he works. The role was played by Rita Moreno, whom co-starred with Cosby in The Electric Company.
    • In Season 7, Cliff can be see wearing a button that says "SD Jr." in memory of Sammy Davis Jr. who guest starred in one Season 5 episode and had recently died at the time.
    • In the episode where Theo wants a Gordon Gartrell shirt, here's Cliff (paraphrasing): "A teenage boy does not need a $90 shirt unless he's on stage with his four brothers."
  • The Silent Bob: Peter Chiara, Rudy's friend from across the street. He has more lines in the episode "A Girl and her Dog" than all of his other episodes combined.
    • His younger brother Paul, who only appears twice, is the exact opposite.
  • Sit Comic
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The show managed the very rare feat of being on the very pinnacle of the idealistic side without being barf-inducing or Narm-ish.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: He's never named, but Denise's friend in the Jitterbug Break episode shows off some Crazy Awesome dance moves.
  • Standardized Sitcom Housing: Front door on the right, back door on left, Check. Oddly enough, the set also has a window upstage with a view of the sky, despite every single exterior shot being of a building cheek-by jowl with the one next door.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Sondra's boyfriend Elvin has this attitude in his first few appearances. Though he's usually treated as a Butt Monkey because of it, especially by Clair.
    • Kenny's never-seen brother also seems to dispense "wisdom" of this sort.
  • "Stop Having Fun!" Guys: In-universe examples being Cliff and Dr. Harmond, in an episode of Season 7 centered around a pinochle tournament.
  • Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: Played literally in the very first episode when Theo makes excuses for his poor grades and Cliff blasts him for it.
    • Clair often invokes this trope when dealing with a child who attempts to lie to avoid punishment.
  • Take That: In the latter part of its run, the show battled with The Simpsons for the Thursday night 8:00 pm time slot. In one episode, Olivia approaches Cliff wearing a Bart Simpson mask, and he tells her to take it off. At the time, The Simpsons was still considered a crass children's show.
  • Title Drop: Only for a different show when Clair talks to Denise about how college is "A Different World".
  • Tranquil Fury: The only time you ever saw Cliff fly off the handle was in one of the early 1st season episodes with Theo. Other than that, he pretty much remained calm on the outside whenever one of his kids did something insane. But he often reacted in this manner.
  • Troll: Cliff can be one when he wants, especially when it comes to teasing Clair. Notable examples are ribbing her on her 46th birthday and continually spoiling the plot of a novel that he's read and she hasn't.
  • Unto Us a Son and Daughter Are Born: Sondra and Elvin's children (Nelson and Winnie).
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Cliff and Sanford "Tailwind" Turner love to talk smack to each other, but they respect each others' talents as runners.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Sondra towards Elvin in Season 2. Especially when she gets mad at him for never getting mad himself!
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Given to Sondra by the audience(!) when they boo her after she attempts to make Elvin angry by saying she doesn't care enough for him to work through their current problems. It's the only time the audience boos a scene in the whole series, and well-deserved.
  • You Look Familiar: Joseph C. Phillips played a potential boyfriend for Sondra in a Season 2 episode, then returns as Denise's husband beginning in Season 6.
    • David Langston Smyrl played three different roles before settling into his third and final role as Mr. Lucas the handyman. It should be noted that all three of his characters were attracted to Clair.
    • Vanessa Williams first appeared as the Large Ham Jade in Season 5, then returned as Cheryl, an exchange student from Barbados and Theo's Love Interest for Season 7.

It is notable for averting