Often used storylines in sitcoms.

DouglasRobert

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There are several often used storylines that almost all sitcoms use over and over.

1. A teenager gets his drivers license.

2. A teenager wants to move out of his room or the home.

3. The "message" episode, which is a serious episode about the dangers of alcohol, drugs or whatever.

4. The vacation episode. Everybody goes on a major trip somewhere, usually Hawaii or somewhere exotic.

Please add to the list.
 

WillG

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Not sure if it counts as a storyline but

A character is thought to be dead or dying by another person. The person who thinks the character is dead/dying talks to that person or someone else who has no idea of the misunderstanding. The person who has no idea of the misunderstanding speaks happilly in double entendres to the other person making he/she think the bad news is real. They can't understand why he/she is speaking so casually. The other has no idea why the person he/she is talking to is acting so devistated.
 

Vince Maskeeper

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No, the oldest: Petsitting, the pet dies, petsitter tries to replace it with one that looks just like it... hilarity ensues.
 

Malcolm R

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Series or season finales must always involve marriage or pregnancy/birth. Both "Friends" and "Frasier" beat these dead horses in their finales.
 

Bill Williams

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Another sitcom staple: Parents go out for the evening. Kids throw wild party at parents' house. Kids trash house. Parents come back, find house trashed, fuss at kids, then say, "I love you".
 

Rob Gardiner

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Girl gets hit in the nose with a football, find out her boyfriend is an insensitive jerk, and asks out the shy kid to the school dance.
 

Jeff Gatie

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Group finds a lost pocketbook, bag of money or something valuable. They agonize over whether to take it to owner/police/lost-and-found or spend it. One character is always the good guy who triumphs in the end. Oh yeah, somewhere in there - hilarity ensues.

This was actually a plot/script that the characters from "What's Happening" wrote and submitted to the producer of a television show. When they didn't hear back and the show aired with the same exact plot, they tried to sue. The producer showed them a history of other sitcoms that used that plot dating back 20 years.
 

Rex Bachmann

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DouglasRobert wrote (post #1):


You do realize that almost none of this is accidental, don't you? Some years back I read several articles that pointed out that the tv-producers in Hollywood are recycling scripts from 50s, 60s, and 70s "sitcoms" into contemporary programming as a standard practice. Writers (I think) and producers (definitely) were interviewed and were quite frank about it: they take the basic old plots and make the dialog and characters "hip" and "modern" (i.e., usually sassy and know-it-all), and voilà.
 

Bill GrandPre

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Two of the biggest cliches are:

1: a letter or package with some sort of embarassing content is mailed and it has to be intercepted before it reaches it's recipient.

2: two enemies are trapped in a confined area and they have to work through their differences to escape.
 

LizH

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Then there's ABC's version: the trip to Disneyworld.


I'm waiting to see who at NBC is going to be the first to go to Universal Studios. :p)
 

Rob Gardiner

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Character's mom walks in on him masturbating. Entire cast places bet to see who can go without the longest.

Character plaigarizes a ZIGGY cartoon. Character's boss has the means to prove it.

Male character stops having sex and IQ goes up. Female character stops having sex and IQ goes down.

Character accidentally exposes shrunken genitalia to supporting character who happens to keep a kosher diet. For revenge, he sneaks lobster into her breakfast.

Some sitcoms are SO derivitave and exhibit NO creativity whatsoever.
 

MarkHastings

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My all time favorite...The Christmas episode where one of the characters (let's call him John) prepares to dress up as Santa to convince a child that Santa is real.

As the family gets together, Santa arrives...the family members (who know it's John in a costume) are amazed by how real and good he looks. They whisper something like "Hey John, where'd you get that great costume?" to which he responds "John? I'm not John, I'm SANTA!".

Then the Santa does some magical thing for one of the kids whos eyes get really wide now that he sees Santa is real.

Soon after the Santa leaves, John walks in with a really bad looking Santa costume on (usually from the oposite side of the frame where the first Santa left) and the whole family acts confused.

Then one of the characters says something like "If you're John? Then who was..." - as they look in the direction of the previous Santa, then you hear sleigh bells as everyone has an emotional/amazed look on their face.

Cue the Christmas music...
 

Rob P S

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Someone drives a car into the house.

Someone tries to mass-produce their homemade dessert. A food fight ensues.

Someone thinks their wife/husband is having an affair when they are really planning a surprise party or rehearsing lines from a play.

Someone tries to fix their own plumbing and floods the house.

Two people wager on who can give up food or smoking longer.
 

Bill Williams

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More sitcom storyline staples:

- The one that features the entire cast 30-40 years down the road, in heavy makeup as old people. The kids are all grown up and still act the same as they did when they were kids.

- The Christmas vacation episode where the family is headed out of town for Christmas, then they get stranded somewhere and some of the family starts feeling sorry for themselves, and it takes one of the family members to remind them what Christmas is about. Everyone pitches in to have a makeshift Christmas where they are, then by episode's end they're on their way to their destination.
 
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A couple of staples from Brit sitcoms:

(i) Hilarity ensues when the vicar comes round for a cup of tea!

(ii) There's laughs galore as one of the central character tries a new get-rich scheme/madcap invention! [a simple device that has kept Only Fools and Horses and Last of the Summer Wine going for decades]

(iii) Mirth guaranteed as the pompous boss decides on a new plan that is guaranteed to fail!
 

DougWright

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Let's not forget the 1/2 heard conversation, or misunderstanding one side of a phone conversation.

Always a peach.
 

WillG

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The drunken sleeping together of two normally incompatible characters.
 

MishaLauenstein

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One friend lends the other $1000 to help them pay their rent and the next day, the friend is wearing a fur coat.

They take in a stray dog for an episode.

They take in a homeless person/child for an episode.

An evil multinational corporation is going to tear down the old school/hang-out/fishing hole and the old gang gets together to stop them, only to find that their old nemesis is behind it/working for the multinational but has a change of heart at the end. (This plot is reserved only for sitcom reunion movies)
 

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