* AwardSnub: Averted in many regards, as the show became (along with ''MadMen'') the first ever basic cable program to be nominated for Best Drama Series at the Emmys, with both Glenn Close and long-time character actor Zeljko Ivanek winning Emmys for their performances. However, Rose Byrne, wisely seen as a standout of the program for impressively holding her own off of Close, wasn't able to win. Similarly, Campbell Scott failed to attain much recognition for his work in Season 3, with most of the attention going to Martin Short for his subdued PlayingAgainstType character.
* EnsembleDarkhorse: Ray Fiske. Tom Shayes as well.
* FirstInstallmentWins: While subsequent seasons (excluding season 2 for some) have been very well regarded it's generally felt by the fanbase and critics alike that none of them have lived up to the intensity and unpredictable nature of the first season.
* JerkassWoobie: Joe Tobin might have been completely irredeemable by the end of his story arc, but his parents' role in corrupting him and driving him back to the bottle removes all the satisfaction from [[spoiler:seeing him locked away for Tom's murder.]]
* LesYay: Quite a lot between Patty and Ellen. Especially in the third season where Ellen and Patty are treated like exes who can't get over each other, Patty's new associate gets treated as the rebound girl, and we get the memorable line "You're trying to seduce me with bourbon!".
* LikeYouWouldReallyDoIt: Subverted in the season 5 premiere: [[spoiler: Ellen is this season's victim]].
** [[spoiler: Double subverted, she's not.]]
* MagnificentBastard: Patty Hewes is an exemplary example, as is her WorthyOpponent Arthur Frobisher.
** Lenny Winstone proves to be one as well, given that he [[spoiler: successfully impersonated a lawyer for decades, brought down the Tobins, and pulled a KarmaHoudini with a duffle bag full of stolen money,]] all while remaining genuinely AffablyEvil.
* MoralEventHorizon: In Season 3, the Tobin's start out as a reasonably sympathetic family, but they get progressively worse as the story progresses. You lose all sympathy with them when they [[spoiler: arrange the murder Tessa, a schoolgirl who hadn't been given a choice about getting involved in the first place, and Marilyn Tobin knew to be her granddaughter]].
* SeasonalRot: Many fans feel that the second season is inferior to the others due to a less focused plot and a lack of charismatic bad guys.
* {{Wangst}}: An interesting dramatic version. Arthur Frobisher acts as though the world is against him, with him being a poor innocent victim of circumstance. The characters (and hell, the audience) knows he's full of crap, and feels about as much sympathy for him as you'd expect.
* TheWoobie: [[spoiler:Ray Fiske]] by the end of his character arc.
** Tom becomes this in Season 3, as he finds out that he and his in-laws lost an incredible amount of money in the Tobin's pyramid scheme. Additionally, in the finale, [[spoiler: he's killed by Joe Tobin via drowning]].
** Season four gives us Chris, who has a major case of PTSD from when, during a top-secret and ultimately illegal mission for Blackwater expy Highstar, the mission went horribly wrong and Chris was the only one who made it back alive. Made worse with the fact that Highstar's CIA contact deems him a "liability", going so far as murdering the shrink Highstar had him talk to (even though the shrink was pretty much bound by privacy rules to not reveal what Chris had done, the CIA agent had him killed because he didn't want anyone in a position to expose the agent's crimes) THEN convincing Highstar CEO Howard Erickson to not only lure Chris back to Afghanistan (where he is promptly held prisoner) and tortured/held in solitary confinement (which compounds his PTSD) and [[spoiler: possibly is decapitated on orders of Erikson, who by this point decides that they have to kill Chris in order to ensure that he can't tell anyone what Erikson did to him]]. [[spoiler: He survives]].
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