As one of the great hangout sitcoms of the ’10s, New Girl knows that familiarity breeds excellent comedy. Sometimes that comes from characters so well-defined they get laughs because we know how they’ll react in any given situation; other times it’s a welcome return for the Douchebag Jar. When it comes to running jokes, New Girl has some of the best – here are nine of them.
Possibly the biggest and best-known of New Girl’s running jokes, True American is a drinking game that combines patriotism, not touching the floor, historical facts, and a lot of other stuff that gets increasingly confusing with each appearance of the game.
How big did it get? In 2012 it was the focus of an official promotional bus tour across America, and eventually even official rules were released. Well, more like “official” rules, as the core message was along the lines of “there are no real rules”, as the game’s regular drunken shouty appearances make extremely clear. George Washington!
At least once a season New Girl makes sure to check in on Outside Dave (Steve Agee, who you’ll have seen in pretty much everything comedy-wise). As his name suggests, he’s a Dave who lives outside – and yet he manages to find his way inside the loft remarkably often, at one stage locking himself in the bathroom (which he dubbed “the laboratory”). Then again, he doesn’t mind sleeping on – that’s on, not in – Jess’ car, so the Outside part of his name remains accurate.
Nick’s literary career
Nick (Jake Johnson) might pay the bills as a bartender, but beneath those sweaty clothes burns the heart of an artist. Well, a writer. Okay, a writer who wrote a novel titled Z is for Zombie in fourteen hours. Winston (Lamorne Morris) put it best: “This is the worst thing I have ever read in my entire life”. But Nick doesn’t give up on his dreams that easily, despite numerous jokes about those dreams, and he eventually does get around to writing something people will willingly read: The Pepperwood Chronicles, an extremely hard-boiled tale of a New Orleans detective, a gay dog and someone named Bayou Sue that turns out to mostly appeal to teenage girls.
Schmidt has no first name (until he does)
There’s a long, proud history of sitcom characters having just one name (Seinfeld’s Kramer didn’t have a first name for years), but usually they’re mysterious, aloof, secretive types. Schmidt (Max Greenfield), on the other hand, is right there in the loft: what’s the deal with his first name? For season after season, it was kept under wraps, gradually cranking up the mystery around it until finally, in the second last episode of season 6, the truth was finally revealed. His first name? It’s too good to spoil here.
Winston loves Furgeson
It takes a while for Winston to figure out who he is (in part because it also takes a while for the show’s writers to figure out who he is), but one of the key turning points in the life of the former basketball star turned nanny turned radio show researcher turned radio show host turned police officer is when he breaks up with Daisy in season 3 and keeps her cat Furgeson, leading to much cat adorableness and obsessive behaviour from Winston for the rest of the series. Next stop: weekly selfies with his new cat buddy and singing songs to him about pasta.
There’s a Brooklyn Nine-Nine crossover
Not exactly a running gag – it only happened the once – but it’s still worth pointing out that one of our favourite comedies crossed over with another of our favourite comedies in season 6 when the gang headed to New York to help Schmidt collect an award from his old high school. Turns out it was a fundraising scam, Jess has to lend her car to Det. Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) as he’s in hot pursuit of a criminal (of course, he crashes it), and Nick and Winston have to busk on the subway after spending all their money on lunch.
Winston loves pranks
It’s true: Winston really loves pranks. Unfortunately, this self-styled “Prank Sinatra” doesn’t quite seem to grasp what makes a good one. Giving bears Hep C? Spraying people’s faces with acid? Dropping a badger on a wedding ceremony? Putting a feather in someone’s shoe? He may not have gone through with all of these things – and many more – but his commitment to either going too big or too small pretty much guarantees that every time he tries to play a prank, the joke is on him.
Nick’s friendship with Tran
Nick thinks he’s good friends with Tran (Ralph Ahn). Tran would probably disagree, but as he almost never speaks, we can’t really be sure. Still, Tran somehow manages to help Nick through a range of personal issues, largely by just sitting there while Nick rambles on until he reaches his own conclusion. Reportedly the show’s writers loved writing for Tran; guess it wasn’t hard to capture his voice.
The douchebag jar
Every time Schmidt says or does something douchebag-esque, he’s got to make a donation to the douchebag jar. Unsurprisingly, across the first few seasons this jar gets filled up a lot, for everything from wearing a newsboy cap and black tank top to trying to kiss Jess to using the phrase “vagenius”. But gradually the jar’s real purpose – to curb Schmidt’s most egregious excesses – starts to pay off (the actual money gets used to dry clean his suits after Jess floods his wardrobe), and by the time of the jar’s final appearance… let’s just say there’s not a dry eye in the house.
Catch New Girl weeknights from 6pm on SBS VICELAND, or stream all seven seasons at SBS On Demand:
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