The Baker's Dozen: 13 Of The Best '90s Sitcom Clichés

The Baker's Dozen: 13 Of The Best '90s Sitcom Clichés

Everybody may not have loved Raymond, but '90s sitcoms still hold a special place in the hearts of most people of a certain age.

The greats - Frasier, Seinfeld, Friends - went on to become a more profound cultural presence within society; we still remember them, we still quote them, and some of us still watch them. This glorious comedic era birthed iconic quotes like 'We were on a break', and 'I hate men, but I'm not a lesbian', but in truth it went further than that; it provided a framework for future sitcoms to build upon, a formula for scripted comedy.

Here is The Sliced Pan's inaugural Baker's Dozen - 13 of our favourite things from, I dunno, life I guess? And we start with our favourite situational clichés from '90s comedy:

1) A House Or Apartment In Which The Interior Layout Should Be Impossible Given The Architecture Of The Building As Seen From Outside

Such a spacious, luxurious apartment!

image (3)

Wait a second...


2) Roommates Who Are Complete Opposites

The classic 'more intelligent, employed person and a bit of an idiot' combination - as seen in both Chandler and Joey's apartment and when Monica and Rachel room together in Friends, until Monica gets engaged to Chandler. Damn, sorry if I spoiled it!

3) The 'Relative Drops From The Sky' Phenomenon


Without any warning, a previously unmentioned, absolute pain of a sibling or relative will inevitably arrive at the door to the dismay of whoever answers. Not even so much as a bottle of wine or a pot of lasagne under their arm, not even so much of a phonecall to say, "are ye alright for everything - will I bring milk?" or the classic "sure I can bring down the roast potatoes if you want to do the meat."

Friends loved this cliche so much, they did it twice with Rachel alone.

4) Music Star Performing As Themselves In Inexplicable Circumstances

Think Aerosmith, The Chilis and The Ramones in the first four seasons of The Simpsons, Boyz II Men on The Fresh Prince, Bob Dylan on - of all things - Dharma and Greg, and Chrissie Hynde on Friends.

5) The Incredibly Exaggerated Laugh Track Audience Screams For Every Cameo Appearance

To be fair, I'm a comfortably heterosexual male human and if I saw Brad Pitt walking in the door I'd probably seal-clap and yelp. A glorious man.

6) The First Kiss Cheer


Sometimes sitcoms create the kind of genuine drama that actual dramas could only dream of.

Jesus, that was beautifully put.

7) Knicks Tickets


"Whaddaya mean you can't go to the game? I got us courtside seats!" - Every single '90s sitcom

8) Napoleon Complex


All small men in '90s sitcoms were slightly miserable, over-compensatory 'jerk' types, who struggled with women and rarely showed their sensitive side. See Bulldog in Frasier, George in Seinfeld and Danny Devito's cameo performance as 'Roy Goodbody' in Friends.

9) Losing/Destroying A Friend's Prized Possession

Classic. And, even though you've seen it done a thousand times before, you still wince when this same friend finds out the truth at the very end of the episode, but it's almost always grand.

See Also:

10) "Oh No! Mom's Favourite Vase!"


It's always the vase isn't it?

11) The Whimsical Fireman/Plumber/Cable Guy

The typical, 'non-plussed about your problems, cartoonish, fat, moustached' janitorial worker of some description, who changes the pace of an episode by injecting some perspective to the main characters' eejitry from the layman's point of view.

Usually seen holding a nondescript sheet or list, or perhaps a broom of some description. They never smile.

12) The Clip Show

An episode where the main characters reminisce about the past as a veiled excuse for the show's writers to do fuck all that week. You might be surprised to hear that Friends did six of them in ten years. By far the worst episode of every sitcom, even if by the end you've actually vaguely enjoyed the recap on how far everybody has come without realising it.

13) The Alternate Reality Show


'The One That Could Have Been'. What if Laura Winslow was Steve Urkel in Family Matters? What if Shawn Hunter wrote for Rolling Stone in Boy Meets World? What if Niles stayed at home because of allergies instead of flying to Cancun on Valentine's Day in Frasier? Bar the odd genius exception, these are usually just too weird to enjoy. Except for full Friends episodes of Fat Monica.

That's it for today's Baker's Dozen! Remember you can follow The Sliced Pan on Twitter and add us on Snapchat - theslicedpan - for all sorts of hijinks like seagulls eating biscuits, lads buying gates and mass updates for your region.


Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

You may also like

Daily Quiz: How Well Do You Know Frasier?
The Incredible List of Guest Callers and 14 More Hidden Glories From Frasier
Why We Need To Change Our Ranking Of The 20 Best US Sitcoms