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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Is Ray just a bumbling doofus, or does he actually have Asperger's Syndrome? Let's go over some of Ray's most notorious characteristics:
    • He often does things other people perceive mostly as rude and inconsiderate and seems genuinely oblivious to it. Yet he is also always the peacemaker, indicating that he never intends to hurt others.
    • He frequently betrays Debra and says mean things about her yet when she gets mad and storms off he feels guilty about it, indicating that he is unaware of how bad his actions are until someone points it out to him.
    • He is immature, lazy, and hates it when other people pull him away from something he's doing. When he is interrupted in the middle of something and prompted to do something against his will, he gets angry or upset and whines. Real-life people with Aspergers tend to strongly dislike spontaneity.
    • He also has strong social difficulties insofar as he simply cannot deal with people. Whenever he tries to, he has the most simplistic method of doing it which never works with people and it often backfires on him.
    • He can't even get his kids to clean their room properly and when he tries to handle things with them, he invariably does a piss-poor job of it, yet he is clearly not stupid: if he's able to be a writer in any way, then he is obviously smart, and he seems to know how to settle situations when it comes to logical reasoning, but when it comes to dealing with people's emotions and knowing what to say, he is often utterly clueless.
    • He repeatedly throughout the show (and his actions seem to back this up) claims that he has trouble "reading" Debra, and there are clues that he has trouble reading people in general.
    • He doesn't seem to really "know" Debra at all.
    • He also never seems to know what Debra likes unless someone tells him.
    • He never likes doing things he doesn't want to, and seems to genuinely not understand that a person can be capable of doing things that aren't fun, such as the epsiode where he royally screws up the checkbook and Debra even says to him that, just like a child, he simply will not do something unless it is enjoyable.
    • The only reason Ray has never been diagnosed is because he was raised in a very traditional and conservative Italian household and because his wife would apparently rather nag him than see him get proper treatment.

 Marie: Oh my God, I'm a lesbian.

  • Informed Wrongness: Ray in practically every episode of the later seasons is portrayed as being wrong no matter what, whether or not it actually makes sense. Even in episodes where Debra does the exact same thing or does something worse, Ray will inevitably be the one forced to apologize and/or the one who gets humiliated at the end of the episode.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks: Initially, the sitcom was highly-touted by critics as a great new show that wasn't as popular as it deserved to be. Once the ratings started growing and the show became huge, the series was now considered an easy target for people mocking "modern sitcoms".
  • Jerkass Woobie: He was usually The Woobie, but Robert did have some Jerkass moments.
  • The Scrappy: Debra
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Robert/Amy shippers vs. Robert/Stefania shippers.
  • Straw Man Has a Point: As the seasons went on, Ray generally morphed into the show's main strawman. A lot of times the show would seemingly attempt to paint Ray's opinion as the "wrong" one, even though Ray often did have a good point.
  • Too Good to Last: Avoided; initial worries among critics were that this unusual — at the time — family comedy would go the way of the dinosaur within one or two seasons. It lasted nine.
  • Unnecessary Makeover: Some see Debra's change in attire and appearance to be this. She started out as a very attractive but normal looking woman with normal clothes, short hair, and normal amounts of makeup. Eventually Debra grew her hair out, wore tighter clothes, and looked quite different in addition to more makeup. Some thought she looked better before, yes, even preferring the short hair (saying it "showed off her face" better).
  • The Woobie: Ray, though he could be considered a Jerkass Woobie. Not only does Debra become harder to live with as the series progresses, but Marie's smothering really screwed him up. For just two examples, he mentions having nightmares about a "crazy tree lady" who followed him to school (which Robert reveals was Marie), and she held him back a year in pre-school just because she liked their walks to it.
    • Robert as the show's resident Butt Monkey. Constantly made fun of by Ray and Frank, neglected by Marie as a child, divorced, and constantly trying and failing to get away from his parents. Perhaps the hardest episode to watch for a Robert fan is the one where Marie, Judy, Stephania and Amy force him to sit down and listen as they discuss every single character flaw they can think of, even if they aren't actually flaws and are just things about him they personally dislike.