The Middle – Season 8 – Callbacks and Continuity

Welcome back to my annual callbacks post of The Middle! Here are all the callbacks of season 8 of the show (or at least the ones I could find…). I tried to be as consistent as possible writing them down, but I might have forgotten a few. If you remember one that you think should be included in this post, please let me know!

The more seasons The Middle gets, the more callbacks there are to find and it shows because this is the longest post I’ve done so far. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

Beware of spoilers and information overload.

  1. The Core Group
  • Frankie tells Mike that the neighbor’s baby is already scared of him when he’s lurking out the window to see if Sue is already home. This is the baby of the new neighbors, who moved in in The Lanai (7.21). She was still pregnant at the time though.
  • The cousin clothes are back! We first hear about the cousin’s box in The Legacy (2.19) and later in The Award (5.14) and Brick mentioned it as well last season in Crushed (7.19).
  • Sue comes back from Dollywood where she worked all summer. She got this job in A Very Donahue Vacation (7.18).
  • Brick is still using Sue’s room. She gave him the room as a gift in Not Mother’s Day (7.22).
  • Just like last season, we see Li’l Rivals diaper boxes around the house, from Mike’s business that he started in Risky Business (7.04).
  • Of course we finally get to meet April, Axl’s love if his life, we heard about her at the end of The Show Must Go On (7.24).
  • Not only Axl’s relationship is explored, we also see Cindy back and Jeremy, the guy Sue has been dating since last season. We first saw him in Birds of a Feather (7.12) and later in Crushed (7.19) and Survey Says… (7.20).
  • Brick finally has a new backpack to replace the pizza bag. He first started using the pizza bag in Unbraceable You (6.01) and has been using it in season 6 and 7.
  • Cindy is irritated that the Hecks are not serving shrimp for dinner. We found out about her love for shrimp in Halloween V (6.05).
  1. A Tough Pill To Swallow
  • Frankie mentions buying dog treats. Even though we don’t see Doris, we know she’s still alive. Doris came to live with the Hecks in Hecks On A Train (6.12).
  • In The Core Group (8.01) we see that Sue has doubts about Jeremy and in this episode that’s explored further.
  • Mike sells his half of the diaper business to pay Sue’s tuition. He started the diaper business last season with Rusty in Risky Business (7.04).
  1. Halloween VII: The Heckoning
  • Brick has the haircut ‘Vintage Brick’ again, instead of the bangs we first saw in The Core Group (8.01).
  • The familiar lines “Hi I’m April” and “First door on the left” (talking about the bathroom) are back in this episode. We first heard them in The Core Group (8.01).
  • Brick is still sleeping in Sue’s room and Sue’s is still crashing in Axl’s room. This has been going on since Not Mother’s Day (7.22), but after this episode, they switch rooms again.
  • Frankie doesn’t want her magazines with the royal family to get ruined. We first hear about her love for the royal family in The Royal Wedding (2.20).
  • Brick mentions the Ferguson baby, who stayed at the Heck house the first month of his life after he and Brick got switched up at the hospital. The story is explained in A Birthday Story (2.07).
  • Sue is still wearing her retainer, ever since she got her braces off in Unbraceable You (6.01).
  • Brick makes another hole in the wall of Sue’s bedroom. It’s the third hole throughout the run of the show. The first time was in The Big Chill (2.12) and the second in The Safe (4.07).
  • Brick mentions the cousin clothes again, which are first introduced in The Legacy (2.19).
  • Brick finally gets his own chair after sitting in a lawn chair since Siblings (1.09). It’s the longest running joke on the show and the chair is mentioned or seen in every season, in a lot of episodes,
  1. True Grit
  • “Our place doesn’t even have a roof and it looks better than this” refers to the Winnebago, part of the roof burnt in The Lanai (7.21).
  • Axl wants to know where Sue hid the fudge she got from their grandma. We know that Grandma Pat makes fudge for the family every Christmas, like in A Simple Christmas (2.10) and The Christmas Wall (6.09).
  • Axl eats some of Sue’s chocolate, but it has almonds in it which he doesn’t like. We find that out in Birds of a Feather (7.12).
  • Sue mentions her breakup with Darrin, something that happened in The Answer (6.14).
  • Sue’s no cut acapella group is trying to break up with Jeremy for her. She became part of the group in The Shirt (7.03).
  • Axl mentions the Boss Co Break Up Service, something he, Sean and Darrin came up with in Valentine’s Day IV (4.15).
  • Sue finally breaks up with Jeremy, something she has been thinking about since The Core Group (8.01).
  • When picking up Brick from the party, Mike assumes that he must have had a good night because Brick is still wearing both his shoes. This refers to Major Anxiety (6.03) when he came home from a party, wearing only one shoe.
  1. Roadkill
  • Mike and Frankie forget Brick’s birthday again, like in Steaming Pile Of Guilt (6.15).
  • Sue is still thinking about majoring in theater, something she started thinking about after she came back from Dollywood in The Core Group (8.01).
  • Brick takes one of Frankie’s nightstand cookies, we have seen those before, for example in The Loneliest Locker (6.02).
  • The polyurethane cow that Brick kills in this episode has been in earlier episodes like Pilot (1.01), The 100th (5.04) and Siblings and Sombreros (6.19).
  • Frankie accidentally lets it slip out that Mike sold his diaper business to pay for Sue’s tuition in A Tough Pill To Swallow (8.02), after she was too late applying for financial aid.
  • Sue mentions that Mike told Axl what to major in. This happened in Major Anxiety (6.03).
  • Brick says he has a motive for killing the polyurethane cow: he lost the slogan contest (‘Orson, the heartland’s hidden gem’) in The 100th (5.04).
  • Sue is majoring in Hospitality and Hotel Management, something East Indy is known for. In Steaming Pile Of Guilt (6.15) Weird Ashley mentions that she is studying the same thing and that East Indiana State has a good program.
  1. Thanksgiving VIII
  • Sean’ s hippie phase, that we first learned about in Homecoming II: Tailgate (7.07) and came back throughout the 7th season, is finally over. Frankie talked him into taking the MCATs in A Very Donahue Vacation (7.18) and now he is waiting to hear back from med schools to find out if he got in.
  • Frankie takes the quilt out of the oven so that Nancy can use it for her Thanksgiving dish. Storing the quilt in the oven has been a running gag on the show ever since we first saw it in Errand Boy (2.08).
  • Sue is back working at Spudsy’s, where she has been working on and off ever since she got the job there in The Potato (5.03).
  • The hole in the wall Brick made in Halloween VII: The Heckoning (8.03) is still there.
  • We’ve heard April say “Hi, I’m April” before in The Core Group (8.01) and in Halloween VII: The Heckoning (8.03).
  • Axl is making a salad for Thanksgiving dinner at April’s parents. This is something that he does very well, as Brick mentions in The Bachelor (4.19).
  • Axl mentions the Hecks’ two previous Thanksgivings: they weren’t together last year in Thanksgiving VII (7.08) because they all had other things to do and the year before that they weren’t home either, but went to King’s Feast in Thanksgiving VI (6.07).
  1. Look Who’s Not Talking
  • This is a continuing story after the cliffhanger in Thanksgiving VIII (8.06). This is the second cliffhanger on The Middle, after Darrin’s proposal to Sue in Valentine’s Day VI (6.13) and Sue’s answer to his proposal in The Answer (6.14).
  • After moving out of their crappy dorm room in True Grit (8.04), Sue and Lexie now live in temporary housing until they find a new place to live.
  • Axl still has the hole in the roof of his Winnebago, ever since the fire in The Lanai (7.21).
  • Dr. Fulton talks about his ex-girlfriend Shelly again. He has been mentioning her since he started his sessions with Brick’s as a school therapist in Life Skills (4.11).
  1. Trip and Fall
  • The storyline around Axl/April and the family that started in Thanksgiving VIII (8.06) and continued in Look Who’s Not Talking (8.07) still hasn’t been resolved.
  • The guy who drove Sue home in The Man Hunt (7.16) is back in this episode.
  • Rita says she’s still scarred from what Frankie did to her last Halloween in Halloween VI: Tick Tock Death (7.06).
  • Sue tells the story of when she twerked after drinking a sip of spiked lemonade. She also told this story (and we saw a clip of it) in Hungry Games (5.13).
  • Mike forgets to take the quilt out of the oven when he’s baking cupcakes. We first saw that the Hecks store the quilt in the oven in Errand Boy (2.08).
  • This is not really a callback, but more an observation. This is the first episode ever where Frankie and Mike are not in any scenes together.
  1. A Very Marry Christmas
  • We see the neighbors again who moved in in The Lanai (7.21), including the newborn baby.
  • Brick says Frankie is probably not home because she didn’t fake call in sick, like she tried to do in Trip and Fall (8.08).
  • Axl finally comes back home, after not talking to his parents since Thanksgiving VIII (8.06).
  • Frankie says she thought Axl only wanted to help set up the Christmas village so that he could put the town people in compromising positions, something he always does. We first saw this in The Christmas Wall (6.09).
  • Frankie mentions the inflatable footbath again, a gift Mike gave her in Mother’s Day (1.22).
  • We haven’t seen him use it a lot, but Mike is riding the motorcycle he bought in The Shirt (7.03).
  • Frankie talks about the text she sent Axl with the dirty carrot in Look Who’s Not Talking (8.07).
  • Frankie once again talks about that she’s ‘the boy mom’, like she did in Thanksgiving VIII (8.06), meaning that she has no say in anything, like what she can wear to Axl and April’s wedding if they would ever get married.
  • You can see the Christmas tree with the pink top the Hecks bought in The Christmas Wall (6.09).
  • The episode ends with the Hecks’ Christmas photo that they took in Thanksgiving VIII (8.06).
  1. Escape Orson
  • Axl mentions he’s a divorcee, referring to when he annulled his marriage with April in A Very Marry Christmas (8.09).
  • Brick thinks Milt is David S. Rosenthal, the writer of his favorite book series. The Planet Nowhere books are first mentioned in Twenty Years (4.10). Brick reads Milt the sentence he wrote in The Waiting Game (7.17).
  • Mike tells Ron not to get too attached to the giant spatula. This has to with a corn hole game in the neighborhood where the winner gets the giant spatula. We first hear about the game in Homecoming II: The Tailgate (7.07).
  1. Hoosier Maid
  • Axl mentions he’s a divorcee, referring to when he annulled his marriage with April in A Very Marry Christmas (8.09).
  • Brick mentions his new (not from the cousin’s box) dark wash jeans. He bought them by himself in The Rush (7.11).
  • Brick mentions that Frankie has been living in a messy house ever since the Ferguson’s returned him. This is a story that was explained in A Birthday Story (2.07).
  1. Pitch Imperfect
  • Mike finally allows Axl to ride his motorcycle, something he forbid in Risky Business (7.04).
  • Frankie asks if Axl still needs a chair for the Winnebago, something he thought he would get in Thanksgiving VIII (8.06).
  • Axl says he still has the tie that Mike tied for him, probably one of the ties Mike tied in The Rush (7.11).
  • This episode has a storyline about Sue’s no cut acapella group. She joined the group in The Shirt (7.03).
  • Brad has now officially started at East Indy after dropping out of NYU in Looks Who’s Not Talking (8.07).
  • Axl asks Kenny if he wants to start Boss Co 2. He started Boss Co back in Orson with Darrin and Sean in The Wedding (3.24).
  • Brick asks Cindy: “What if I asked you to give up shrimp?”. This would be very hard for Cindy because she has made it clear in Halloween V (6.05) and The Core Group (8.01) that she loves shrimp.
  • Bill asks Axl: “Does your dad ever wear those sunglasses that I got him?” referring back to A Very Marry Christmas (8.09) when Bill gave Mike sunglasses as a gift.
  • Axl’s sums up all the jobs he’s had: Life guarding which he started in The Bridge (2.23), his job at the movie theater which he started in A Birthday Story (2.07) and of course his internship at Little Betty which he started in Birds Of A Feather (7.12).
  • Axl thinks he can take over the diaper business, but Mike tells him that he sold it in A Tough Pill To Swallow (8.02) to pay for Sue’s tuition.
  • Axl mentions he’s a divorcee, referring to when he annulled his marriage with April in A Very Marry Christmas (8.09).
  1. Ovary and Out
  • Brick tries to get more people to the font club he started in True Grit (8.04).
  • Mike and Frankie take care of the neighbor’s baby. The baby got born last summer and has been mentioned several times like in The Core Group (8.01) and A Very Marry Christmas (8.09).
  1. Sorry Not Sorry
  • Frankie and Mike still have a file open according to Brick. They ‘got into the system’ in The Scratch (1.07) when Frankie accidentally hit Brick with a beer bottle.
  • Mike mentions the Hecks’ pictures are in a cloud. Kenny uploaded their pictures there in The Man Hunt (7.16) after the pictures disappeared and reappeared in Not So Silent Night (7.10) and Hecks At A Movie (7.15).
  • The hole that Brick created in Halloween VII: The Heckoning (8.03) is still in the wall.
  • Axl mentions the trips the family has taken to South Dakota in Hecks On A Train (6.12) and Kentucky in A Very Donahue Vacation (7.18).
  1. Dental Hijinks
  • Brick decides to make a musical about Sergeant Charles MacKenzie. Brick dressed up like him in Halloween (2.06).
  • Brick mentions that his musical not being picked is like when he lost the town slogan contest in The 100th (5.04).
  1. Swing and a Miss
  • The hole Brick made in the wall in Halloween VII: The Heckoning (8.03) is still there.
  • Lexie refers back to the time that Axl accused her of following him with her eyes. This happened in True Grit (8.04).
  • Lexie also talks about the time when Axl, Hutch and Kenny stayed in ‘the bin’ with her and Sue in Hoosier Maid (8.11).
  • Axl says he has to scrap poop of a cow statue. This was his punishment for tipping over the Orson cow in Road Kill (8.05).
  • Brick mentions Frankie’s annoying clap, something we first heard about in Halloween VII: The Heckoning (8.03).
  • Brick says he grabbed some cookies from Frankie’s nightstand. We have seen those before, for example in The Loneliest Locker (6.02).
  • Frankie made a lime green jello salad for Brick because she knows this is his favorite. We have heard that in Thanksgiving V (5.07).
  • Axl’s ex-girlfriend Devin shows up. The last time we saw her was in The Shirt (7.03).
  1. Exes and Ohhhs
  • This episode starts where episode Swing and a Miss (8.16) ended.
  • Devin mentioned the infamous bago parties, which are held by Axl, Hutch and Kenny in for example Dental Hijinks (8.15).
  • After Devin showed up in Swing and a Miss (8.16), Cassidy shows up as well. We last saw her in Stormy Moon (5.16), but she and Axl broke up in Hallelujah Hoedown (4.22). Later Weird Ashley shows up as well. We last saw her in Steaming Pile Of Guilt (6.15).
  • Brick says he should’ve stayed with the Fergusons, referring to when he and Blake Ferguson got switched at the hospital. The whole story is explained in A Birthday Story (2.07).
  • Axl talks about the time he drove to Vasser to see Cassidy, but turned around. This happened in The Kiss (5.08).
  • Sean comes to East Indy to take Sue to a dance. He has done that twice before, in The Walk (5.17) and While You Were Sleeping (6.22). He remembered Sue wanted to go to the ball after their talk in Ovary and Out (8.13).
  • Weird Ashley talks about the two times Axl took her to prom in The Prom (2.22) and in The Clover (3.22).
  1. The Par-Tay
  • The Hecks need a plumber to solve the problems in the basement after a pipe burst in Sorry Not Sorry (8.14).
  • Brick and Axl are cleaning the Orson cow, which was their punishment for tipping over the cow in Road Kill (8.05).
  • Axl says Brick did visit him at college, however it was only to help him study. This was a storyline in The Jump (5.06).
  • Bill’s imitation of Mike includes saying “I’m too cool for sunglasses”, referring to the time Bill got Mike sunglasses in A Very Marry Christmas (8.09).
  • Sue makes a reference to the quilt that the Hecks store in the oven. We first hear about this in Errand Boy (2.08).
  • Frankie says: “Somebody still wants to hit this, and I wasn’t even wearing those underpants, referring to the underpants she bought in True Grit (8.04).
  • Brick is doing his Scottish rap at the party. He made the rap for his musical in Dental Hijinks (8.15).
  • At the party, Brick is telling the joke Mike told him in True Grit (8.04).
  • Brick mentions he pulled a prank with his mom and dad. They did this in the episode before this one Exes and Ohhhs (8.17).
  • Axl mentions the things that happened in Exes and Ohhhs (8.17): Devin and Cassidy showing up and breaking up with April.
  1. The Confirmation
  • This episode revolves around one of the longest running stories of the show: Brick’s time spent at the Fergusons for the first month of his life. He finally meets Blake Ferguson, who Brick was switched at birth with. We first hear this story in A Birthday Story (2.07) and it’s mentioned in quite a few other episodes after that as well.
  • Frankie tells Blake that the reason they don’t have any pictures of him is because their basement flooded. This happened in Sorry Not Sorry (8.14).
  • Brick says that Mike and Frankie forget ‘actual birthdays’ as well, like most recently in  Roadkill (8.05), but also in Steaming Pile of Guilt (6.15).
  • Mike mentions Frankie’s commemorative Royal family plate. She got this in Royal Wedding (2.20).
  • Sean and Axl talk about the last time Sean was at East Indy, when he went out on a date with Lexie. This was in Ovary and Out (8.13).
  • Axl threatens to freeze Sue’s head after she dies. He’s been saying that he would do that since The Map (3.13).
  • No callback, but it was great to see Monica Horan, Patricia Heaton’s former co-star on Everybody Loves Raymond, as Mrs. Ferguson.
  1. Adult Swim
  • Brick shows Axl and Sue their new microfiche machine. He got it in Exes and Ohhhs (8.17).
  • While lying about using the pool, Sue says: “…and so on and so forth and what have you”. We know this is her tell, as it was previously shown in for example Wheel of Pain (4.17).
  • Frankie brings Axl her nightstand cookies. We have seen those before, for example in The Loneliest Locker (6.02), but also in Roadkill (8.05) and Swing and a Miss (8.16)
  • Frankie mentions the time the family did the Orson Escape Room in Espace Orson (8.10).
  • Axl says he made money selling grilled cheese sandwiches in The Lanai (7.19).
  1. Clear and Present Danger
  • Brick’s video contains memories of Mike taking out Brick to play tennis in Siblings and Sombreros (6.19), Mike tried to teach Brick how to drive in Roadkill (8.05) and Mike telling Brick to go rake the leaves in Homecoming (2.02).
  • Mike’s love of cats is first shown in Leap Year (3.18) when it’s revealed he is taking care of a cat at the quarry.
  • Axl wonders if him eating fruit loop sandwiches made him gain weight. We first saw him eat one of those in Swing and a Miss (8.16).
  • This episode is the first time we hear Mike talk about his mom and how she died. She has been mentioned in several episodes though, the first time being Thanksgiving II (2.09).
  1. The Final Final
  • Sue mentions she almost got kicked out of school because she couldn’t pay the tuition. This is a storyline in A Tough Pill To Swallow (8.02). She also says she broke up with two guys this year. First Jeremy in True Grit (8.04) and after that Tyler in Exes and Ohhhs (8.17).
  • Sue talks about the Year of Sue again. We’ve heard her label years like this since Unbraceable You (6.01). She also mentions her jobs at Dollywood, over the summer between season 7 and 8 and Spudsy’s ever since The Potato (5.03).
  • The Hecks’ microwave works without the hairdryer for the first time In 8 years.
  • Frankie’s mysterious bruise is finally gone. We first hear about the bruise in The Christmas Wall (6.09) and later in  Steaming Pile Of Guilt (6.15).
  • Sue mentions the major she picked in Roadkill (8.05).
  • Sue talks about how she started the Wrestlerettes in Year Of The Hecks (3.12).
  • Brad mentions that he and Sue are both in no-cut acapella. Sue joined the group in The Shirt (7.03) and Brad joined in Pitch Imperfect (8.12).
  1. Fight or Flight
  • The Hecks reused Axl’s high school graduation banner for his college graduation.

Schermafdruk 2017-05-17 21.09.50.png

  • The pile Sue and Axl left in the  living room last year in Find My Hecks (7.23) is back, but now it only has Sue’s stuff.Sue has found a snow globe in the trash. This is the snow globe Sean bought her in The Confirmation (8.19).
  • Brick has back pains thanks to the normal kitchen table chair he got in Halloween VII: The Heckoning (8.03) after sitting in a lawn chair since Siblings (1.09).
  • Brick whispers for the first time in a long time, and even acknowledges it himself. The last time we heard him whisper was in The Core Group (8.01).
  • Axl mentions Kenny’s successful app, which was first talked about in Pitch Imperfect (8.12).
  • Frankie talks about the things that she doesn’t agree about with Mike. Like the fuss about the Giant Spatula, that was first mentioned in Homecoming II: The Tailgate (7.07). And when the Hecks went on a vacation to the caves in Kentucky in A Very Donahue Vacation (7.18). And that Mike doesn’t want to buy drinks or snacks at the movies, something we saw in Hecks at a Movie (7.15).
  • Axl threatens to freeze Sue’s head after she dies. He’s been saying that he would do that since The Map (3.13).

Consistencies throughout this season:

The Middle had some great continuing storylines in this season:

  • We hear about or see Sue’s crappy dorm room in the first few episodes of the season, until she moves out in True Grit (8.04). She and Lexie got the room after the dorm lottery in The Lanai (7.21). After moving out of the crappy room, Sue and Lexie live in the bin until Hoosier Maid (8.11). That’s when they are kicked out and move into an apartment that Lexie’s dad is paying for.
  • Of course Axl’s relationship with April is a thing that continues in almost every episode of season 8. Frankie dislikes her more and more after every episode. The last 4 episodes before the winter break are all one big storyline leading to Axl and April getting married in Trip and Fall (8.08), the family’s reaction to that and finally the annulment in A Very Marry Christmas (8.09). Axl and April decide to keep dating, but eventually break up in Exes and Ohhhs (8.17). Axl starts dating Lexie in The Par-Tay (8.18).
  • Sue’s love life is explored in this season as well. At the beginning of the season she is dating Jeremy. She started dating him in Crushed (7.19) and breaks up with him in True Grit (8.04). Sue then starts dating Tyler, who we first saw in The Man Hunt (7.16). She starts seeing him in Dental Hijinks (8.15) after they’ve been friends for a while and breaks up with him not too soon after in Exes and Ohhhs (8.17) after she thinks she has developed feelings for Sean Donahue.

Consistencies throughout the show:

  • The fact that Big Mike is a hoarder is shown and mentioned a couple of times in the show, and in Hoosier Maid (8.11) we see this as well. Frankie also tells Sue that it’s in her blood to become a hoarder in Fight or Flight (8.23).
  • Doris, the dog that has been living with the Hecks since Hecks On A Train (6.12) has been mentioned multiple times this season. She was also seen on screen in Swing and a Miss (8.16).
  • It has been mentioned a lot that Frankie loves frosting. We see this as well in this season, for example in Ovary and Out (8.13), The Confirmation (8.19) and Clear and Present Danger (8.21).

Thanks for reading this incredibly long post! Let me know what you think and I hope to be back next season with more callbacks!

If you want to read more, you can check out my reviews about The Middle here. You can find some interviews there as well. Also check out my posts about the callbacks of season 6 and season 7!

Have a great summer!

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11 thoughts on “The Middle – Season 8 – Callbacks and Continuity

  1. Sue-Sue Heck says:

    Wow! Fantastic job. And nice catch on Frankie and Mike not having even one scene together in Trip and Fall (I thought Mike’s storyline in that was hilarious and it was great to see the quarry guys again.)

    Thanks for compiling all this info. I’ll check out your other posts about The Middle, as well.

    Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

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