Abhorrent Admirer/Stalker with a Crush: Larry Meeker from the Tie-In NovelThe Bestseller Job. He's a nerdy, retired computer programmer who falls in love with Sophie after seeing her on stage, and follows her all over the world trying to get her autograph. Sophie is both appalled and flattered. However, after he and Sophie are kidnapped and nearly killed by a particularly nasty villain, Larry decides to switch his allegiance to a less challenging target, like Lindsay Lohan.
The climax of "The Homecoming Job" and "The Low Low Price Job", where Hardison uses security cameras to videotape the culprits arguing with each other.
In "The Studio Job", the villain is Genre Savvy enough to make sure none of the live mics right in front of him can pick up his whispered confession/threat to Eliot. Unfortunately for him, he whispered it directly into Eliot's ear (and thus his tiny two-way ear-piece communication device), so Hardison is able to record it and play it over the sound system for everyone to hear.
Eliot as a baseball player in "The Three Strikes Job." Christian Kane (Eliot) was also a baseball player in the Angelina Jolie film Life Or Something Like It. He also played a baseball player in Summer Catch with fellow Whedonverse alum Marc Blucas (Riley Finn), which starred Freddie Prinze Jr. and Matthew Lillard, who starred in Scooby-Doo with Sarah Michelle Gellar. The circle goes round and round. Sarah Michelle Gellar starred as the lead of our other favorite Scoobies with David Boreanaz as Angel who starred on his own show with...you guessed it — Christian Kane. Whew. How's that for a small world?
Made even more so in season 5 when Matthew Lillard is The Mark in an episode.
In "The Studio Job" Elliot (Christian Kane) becomes a minor country music star (playing "Thinking of You" a song from Kane's album The House Rules), basically a Captain Ersatz of his younger self called "Kenneth Crane" (The actor's initials reversed with a rhyming last name). There's even a fan site set up called "Craniak", fans of Christian Kane's music career are often called "Kaneiacs". Most Kaneiacs are female, and Elliot as Crane garners mostly female fans. Borders on Celebrity Paradox or perhaps No Celebrities Were Harmed.
And then, to echo just how small the world is, "The Studio Job" featured Alona Tal as the Client of the Week. She had a recurring role on a little series called Supernatural... just like Aldis Hodge. And guess which other Supernatural star has a link to Christian's KANE bandmate, Steve Carlson?
Nate spends the majority of "The 10 Lil Grifters Job" trapped in an office while the rest of the team plays detective for him; just like his old boss Nero Wolfe. The episode was a somewhat missed opportunity as Nate's fictional detective wasn't Archie Goodwin, but it was made up for by the fact that Nate's fictional detective wasEllery Queen, one of the best-known TV roles of Timothy Hutton's father, Jim Hutton.
In that same episode, one of The Mark's employees calls him a vampire, and says he wants to put a literal stake through his heart. While talking to Eliot, i.e. Lindsey from Angel, who has some experience with vampires.
In "The Reunion Job", Hardison guesses that Eliot was the quarterback in high school. Ironic that it is Aldis Hodge who plays star high school QB Ray "Voodoo" Tatum in Friday Night Lights.
Saul Rubinek plays an executive at Bering Aerospace, likely accidental given that "The Nigerian Job" aired a year before Warehouse 13. However, in season four, he gets a minion named Latimer. Wordof God says it was unintentional, though.
Jonathan Frakes directed "The First Contact Job" (and plenty of other episodes). Eliot's alias in that episode is "Willie Riker," though Word of God says that this one was unintentional, since the Riker reference was written into the episode before Frakes was brought on to direct.
Action Girl: While they aren't the main fighters, Parker and Sophie have both had their extremely kick-ass moments: Parker fighting arms dealers in Serbia and Sophie knocking out goons with a fire extinguisher. They are also extremely, extremely competent in their own fields.
Actually Pretty Funny: Eliot has to admit that the animated "Mr. Punchy" avatar Hardison made of him in "The Gold Job" is kind of cool.
Addiction Displacement: Between seasons 1 and 2, Nate quits drinking alcohol and starts ingesting massive amounts of coffee. Sophie also suggests that the cons themselves are becoming an addiction for him. And now he is mixing both! (alcohol + cons)
In the last couple of episodes, Nate may be back to coffee.
Adult Fear: Just watch Hardison during the climax of "The Rundown Job..."
Adventurer Outfit: Eliot wears one (of the Indiana Jones variety) while showing The Mark a supposed cocoa plantation in "The Boiler Room Job".
Aerosol Flamethrower: Nate creates one when attempting to escape his captors in "The Zanzibar Marketplace Job".
Affectionate Parody: Both "The Order 23 Job" and "The Three Days of the Hunter Job" feature homages to B-movie archetypes when the POV switches to the victim, specifically the "Viral Outbreak" and "Government Conspiracy" templates respectively. This extends from the team's hilarious characterizations, to even the direction and background music.
"The Bottle Job" also references a con called "The Wire" which is the subject of the movie The Sting. The mark in that episode has the last name Doyle, which is the first name of the villain of that movie as well.
"The Radio Job" has Elliot on the radio, stalling the cops outside by playing out what is basically the plot of the first Die Hard movie. Crosses into an outright Shout-Out when he even drops a few of Bruce Willis' lines ("Welcome to the party pal!" and "Yippy ki-yay mother-")
Affectionate Pickpocket: In "The Inside Job", Parker and her mentor Archie share an embrace — and then Archie asks for his wallet back.
In a callback during "The Last Dam Job" Parker walks past Archie and his family and he turns and asks for his wallet, his daughter's wallet and his granddaughter's lollypop (all of which Parker has lifted).
Alice Allusion: In "The Juror #6 Job," Parker operates under the alias "Alice White", who's supposed to be a bookkeeper and even styles her hair with an Alice band.
Possibly also an allusion to "Alice White", a character in the board game Clue.
Parker has interacted with white rabbits on at least two occasions; one with a stuffed bunny from her childhood in her first flashback, and a second time in "the Top Hat Job".
Parker uses Alice as an alias again in "The Morning After Job", and the mark actually says, "Alice in Wonderland."
"The White Rabbit Job" is full of references, from the episode's Inception-style dreamland con, to the names of characters involved (The mark is named Charles Dodgson and the case was brought to the team's attention by his employee Alex Liddell).
Nate, the mastermind character, is a chess master and chess references fill both Leverage and Alice in Wonderland. At the end of the series, Parker metaphorically crosses the chessboard and becomes a queen, much as Alice had to do.
The Alleged Boss: The team go after a standard Corrupt Corporate Executive target, a CEO embezzling from his company. However, once they infiltrate the company they discover that the guy is incompetent and so overwhelmed by his responsibilities that he has no control over what is happening in the company. He is a former football star who inherited the company and the position. The team now has to discover which of the employees is manipulating the company from behind the scenes and setting up the CEO as a patsy. Later subverted when it's explained he's a decent executive ... when everything is explained in football metaphors.
All Girls Like Ponies: Averted. Parker is absolutely terrified of horses, stemming from a traumatic childhood incident in which a man in a horse suit beat up a clown during a birthday party.
Parker: "I once saw a horse kill a clown."
All Men Are Perverts: Parker views Eliot as this in "The Runway Job" when they were trying to find a dress for her to disguise herself in.
Eliot: "I dated a lot of models... A LOT of private fashion shows, if you know what I mean."
Parker: "Yes. Yes."
Eliot: "... Though most of the dresses ended up on the ground."
Parker: "Yep. I get it. You're a guy."
Eliot: "... Means they were naked."
Parker: "Okay, seriously!?" (walks off in disgust)
Eliot: "Yeah. Just sayin'."
All Women Love Shoes: Played straight with Sophie, who bought a 'frightening number of shoes' with the money she made in "The Nigerian Job." Subverted with Parker, who wonders in response what it is with women and shoes.
Sophie: Go into Nate's closet and you will find a sexy mini-dress and my emergency Jimmy Choos. Parker: Jimmy who? You have a dead body in Nate's closet?"
And the Adventure Continues: After the series finale, Nate and Sophie decide to retire from their lives of crime. However, Parker, Hardison, and Eliot decide to take over Leverage and continue their work, with Hardison having plans to expand their group into "Leverage International".
A friendship version, which is still a big deal, for Parker to Hardison when he's buried alive
Parker: Hardison? Hardison, you have to make it through this. Because…because you' re my friend. And I need you. Do you hear me Alec? I need you!"
Jimmy Ford's last words before being killed were to Nate asking him when he speaks of his ill-repute father, "Tell 'em how much Jimmy Ford loves his son." This stops Nate dead in his tracks (which probably saved his life).
Annoying Younger Sibling : Eliot often seems to see Parker this way. And Hardison. The Word of God actually calls Eliot, Hardison and Parker "the kids" vs. Sophie and Nate "the adults/parents" WOG also says that they are growing to be more like Nate's peers a la Sophie.
Complete with "She's touching me!" argument from Eliot
Parker:(poking Eliot's injured arm) Does that hurt? Eliot:Yeah. Parker:(pokes arm) Does that hurt? Eliot:Yeah. Parker:(pokes arm again) How about now? Eliot: Stop! Nate: Eliot, guys? Eliot, what are you doing? Eliot: She was poking me!
At the beginning of "The Miracle Job," the night after watching one of Sophie's plays.
Eliot: That was the worst night of my life. Hardison: Come on, man, you've been in worse situations. (Eliot flashes back to some dark den with a Korean-speaking man playing Russian Roulette with Eliot as the target) Eliot: (snaps back to the present) No. No, that was the worst.
During "The Wedding Job," when the team realizes someone from Eliot's past may blow the con.
Hardison: No — the Butcher of Kiev. Nate: Think he'll recognize you?" (Eliot flashes to a room full of flames with the Butcher holding a meat cleaver to Eliot's neck) Butcher of Kiev: I kill you! Eliot: (Eliot snaps back to the present) Yeah, I think he'd remember me.
Used in "The San Lorenzo Job" when Vittore asks what's worse than sex when Nate suggests creating a scandal for Ribera to be involved in. Turns out it's dog fighting.
From "The Long Way Down Job":
Sophie: Nate, how dangerous is this gig you took without checking with us? Nate: (stammers) Hardison: (flashback to the office) Ridiculously dangerous! It's like a danger cupcake with murder icing!
Arc Words: "Alternative revenue stream." "Sometimes bad guys make the best good guys" (and variations). "It's what we do." Also variations — "We're (a bunch of) thieves" Nate's automatic response: "I'm not a thief." ...until the season two finale "My name is Nate Ford and I'm a thief!". Also Elliot "It's a very distinctive x"
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In "The Tap-Out Job", Parker invokes this when the team sets up their mark to be found crossing state lines with a ton of money, which is his, and six grand worth of guns, which Parker bought and stashed in his trunk for the cops to find. Along with a saxophone.
Artistic License - Biology: In "The Rundown Job," Hardison is terrified when he finds out that the bad guys are trying to set up a biological warfare attack made of a culture of Spanish Influenza. He knows plenty about the Spanish Flu outbreak back in the late 1910s, including that it killed 50 million people and that it has to be cultured using pigs... but doesn't seem to know that such a thing would be essentially impossible today. The Spanish flu didn't kill so many people because there was anything particularly deadly about it compared to the common flu, but because people didn't know how to deal with it, a problem that does not exist today. Hardison (and the terrorists) should have known that.
The Atoner: Eliot confesses in "The Big Bang Job" that he used to work for season 3's Big Bad Damien Moreau, and that he did something on Moreau's behalf that he can never make up for. When the rest of the team asks what, he all but begs them not to press him for details, "because then I'd have to tell you." Based on comments by Moreau's other henchmen and Eliot's reaction to victimized children in past episodes, it is heavily implied that Eliot has murdered children on at least one occasion.
Attack Pattern Alpha: The team frequently refers to cons by their nicknames, such as "The Turnabout", "The Mona Lisa", and "The Lost Heir".
They begin mocking this by the third season, where Sophie, Eliot, and Hardison almost always argue over what the proper name of a con is. It seems that only Sophie and Nate share a playbook. Parker generally doesn't know plays by names.
Lampshaded by Nate in the latter episode: "You are utterly unclear on how to be dead. This is the second time in two years that you've shown up at your own funeral."
Author Avatar: John Rogers mentioned on a blog post that after three seasons of researching white collar crooks who — unlike the show's villains — tend to get away with it, he was suffering from "asshole fatigue" as the production process for Season 4 began. Nate seems to be having the same problem as of "The 10 L'il Grifters Job."
Eliot's speech about why he dislikes baseball in "The Three Strikes Job" was taken word-for-word from a conversation between Rogers and producer Dean Devlin.
Author Filibuster: In Season 2 premiere, the villain of the week takes a moment to boast about how the government will bail his bank out even though he intentionally ran it badly for profit. This commentary about the real life economic bailout isn't very subtle.
Auto-Tune: In "The Studio Job," Hardison attempt to pass Eliot off as a country music star by providing a real-time auto-tune effect for him. He's horrified when he realizes it's not working, but it's okay: it turns out that Eliot doesn't need it.
Avengers Assemble: Happens at the beginning of "The Homecoming Job" as Nate gathers the team: everyone is in the midst of various solo jobs and they drop what they're doing (Eliot had a gun pointed at him and took the guy out, Parker was hanging from a ceiling, etc) to answer their phones.
Also in "The Grave Danger Job," when Eliot gives Hardison a tight hug after they pull him out of the coffin and tells him 'don't do that again.'
A blink-and-you'll-miss-it thing in "The 12-Step Job", when Hardison is sitting on a bomb. Upon being told he has a half-second of leeway time to be in sync with Hardison rebooting the system, you can see his hands shaking as he gets in position.
Back for the Finale: The series 4 finale brings back quite a few characters from earlier who had ties with the team; Maggie, Chaos, Quinn and Archie are temporarily recruited and Victor Dubenich is the villain.
Back Story: We learn more and more about each team member as the series progresses, notably Parker's past as an orphan and the death of Nate's son due to the heartlessness of his insurance company.
Both Hardison and Parker are foster children, but had wildly different experiences with their families.
Hardison had a good childhood with a foster mother he calls Nana. He has a tendency to quote Nana and he "never does anything his Nana said don't do." Somehow he's still an internationally wanted hacker, especially in Iceland. Over Nana's medical bills. Who he still lived with at the time of "The Rashomon Job". He does, however, fake a miracle even though it was something Nana said not to do, leading him to worry about getting smited that entire episode. He spoke of her so often that Parker actually thought she was his grandmother. After Parker has a minor breakdown over the children in the Serbian orphanage, Hardison in a moment of bonding reveals that in fact Nana is not his grandmother but his foster mother. This is also one of the first moments of UST between Parker and Hardison.
Of course, most of Sophie and Eliot's appeal comes from their near complete lack of a backstory whatsoever.
Due to her nature as a grifter, it's difficult to tell whether anything Sophie or anybody else says about her past is really true or not. In fact, "Sophie" is not even her real name. The only thing we really know is that she used to be Nate's nemesis during his time as an insurance investigator.
Eliot never mentions where he got his Special Forces level training from or precisely what he did as a "retrieval expert". The only concrete facts about his past that was revealed was that he used to work for Moreau and did something he considered as totally unforgivable while in his employ, and that he once stole a monkey. It's later revealed that he once worked for a Private Military Contractor, and that the things that prevented him from becoming just another hired thug were learning to cook and meeting Nate.
Word of God states that Eliot is a Batman-level hand-to-hand combatant. That's badass!
Badass Boast: Nate takes it up to Level 10 in "The Cross My Heart Job", season 4.
Villain: God helps those who help themselves.
Nate: And I help those who can't. And God help you if anything should happen to that boy, because if that boy spends more than one second longer in that hospital than he needs to, I will make it my mission in life to end you. I will ruin you. I will ruin your name. I will ruin your company. I will bring down everything you have ever touched. And when I am done, I will hunt you down and I will kill you myself.
Badass Creed: "The rich and powerful take what they want. We steal it back for you. Sometimes bad guys make the best good guys. We provide... Leverage."
Badass Grandpa: Archie Leech, most definitely. In "The Last Dam Job" when Chaos makes a snide comment about his age, Archie sticks his cane under Chaos' chin and tells him that he has two canes. One of them has a high-voltage taser in it. The other has a six-inch stiletto spike, but he can't remember which is which because of his old age. Later on, Chaos says something snide again and Archie tases him in the neck.
Archie: "Huh, it was the taser…"
Badass Israeli: Mikel, the hitter from Starke's team in "The Two Live Crew Job."
Bad Bad Acting: As mentioned above, Sophie is an absolutely horrible actress when she's onstage rather than running a con. Possibly the funniest part of it is that she seems to think she's a great actress. Played with in "The Stork Job," where she has to pretend to be an actress as part of the con, and pulls it off well. The following conversation ensues:
Eliot: (bemused) She can't act. Nate: She can act . . . when it's an act.
Sometime before that, Sophie invites the team to the opening of one of her plays.
Eliot: That was the worst night of my life. Hardison: Come on, man, you've been in worse situations. (Eliot flashes back to some dark den with a Korean-speaking man playing Russian Roulette with Eliot as the target) Eliot: (snaps back to the present) No. No, that was the worst.
From comments in Season 3 combined with Word of God, it appears that a good portion of Sophie's bad acting comes from a difficulty being "real" with herself when she's not in an alias. This is supported by the fact that in the Series Finale, after having a year off to find herself and plenty of time to grow into a more centered person as part of the group, she gives a standing-ovation worthy performance as Lady MacBeth, the same part she was butchering when the team first saw her.
Bad Habits: Nate dresses up as a Catholic priest in "The Wedding Job".
We also get Hardison as a priest and Parker as a nun in "The Beantown Bailout Job." Eliot is relieved to discover that Parker is wearing the habit for a con, as opposed to just being Parker.
"The Miracle Job" features a variation on this: Nate is trying to help out an old friend, now a Catholic priest, against that friend's will. The friend demands Nate see him, but Nate drags him into the confessional (so he won't be able to reveal what Nate tells him). On top of that, Nate sits in the priest's side of the box. After their conversation is over and the priest leaves, Nate lingers in the priest's half long enough that the mark's assistant comes in to give his confession, which allows Nate-pretending-to-be-the-priest to push the assistant towards publicly exposing the mark later in the episode.
"The Boys' Night Out Job" has a two-fer: "Sister Lupe" is definitely not a nun, and Nate pretends to be a Catholic priest (again!) to avoid the hitmen after them.
'Course, it has to be noted that Nate's backstory is that he was in seminary and well on his way to being a Jesuit once upon a time.
Bad Santa: Chaos gets a group of criminals hired as mall Santas for his caper in "The Ho Ho Ho Job."
Dubenich: Mr. Ford, how badly do you want to screw the insurance company that let your son die?
Later (still in "The Nigerian Job") — not using it to con each other, but showing the same knowing-people-by-their-true-motivations concept:
Eliot: What's in it for me? Nate: Payback. And if it goes right, a lot of money. Parker: And what's in it for me? Nate: A lot of money. And if it goes right, payback. [...] Eliot: What's in it for you? Nate: *pause* He usedmy son. [...] Nate: Are you in? Sophie: *nod* I wouldn't miss this.
Lampshaded by Sterling in "The Second David Job":
Sterling: You realize that your entire plan relied on me being a self-serving, utterbastard? Nate: Ha, yeah, that's a stretch.
Speaking of Sterling, in "The First David Job" he ran one on Nate for most of the first season. Once he realized where Nate had set up shop and with whom, he knew the man would seek vengeance against Blackpoole and use the crew to do it. To get close with a deal Blackpoole couldn't refuse, Nate would need use his crown jewel, the First David. Sterling also knew the Second David was stolen by Sophie years ago and guessed she might be the one to put the plan into motion, egging on Nate's rage and need for vengeance. With all this correct, he sat and waited until the episode when he put the finishing touches to nab the thieves with different assaults. With them in custody, he got Sophie to give up the David she stole and would have grabbed all the crew if not for some speed chess on their part. In the end, Sterling won.
In the last 10 minutes of every episode, if the villain thinks they've figured out they're being conned, or have a member of the crew in danger, 99% of the time it's all part of the plan.
Bavarian Fire Drill: Also almost Once an Episode. Hardison is the absolute master of this trope, with occasional backup from Parker and/or Eliot optional. He even turns the tables on an Army interrogator after he was caught breaking into an Army base using just his Social Security number and his Army record. He even ordered him not to leave the interrogation room during his own interrogation.
Rivaling that scene is the one in "The Rundown Job" where Eliot and Hardison use nothing more than fast talk (and a law enforcement badge Eliot has) to commandeer an NSA surveillance and cryptography vehicle, including a Sarcastic Confession.
"The Three Strikes Job" has a humorous non-evil version of the trope. Eliot has to play the part of a baseball player as part of a con, but as he tells Hardison before the con, he doesn't like baseball. However, as the con goes on, it turns out that not only is Eliot really good at baseball, but he starts to enjoy it too. He even gets a sandwich named after him. It leads to the following exchange:
Nate: All right, Good News, Bad News. Tara: Good news? Nate: The mayor's hooked. We're in the pinch. Tara: Bad news? Nate: I think we lost Eliot until the playoffs.
Sophie: Stark was right. I'm not Sophie Devereaux anymore. I haven't been for ages, I- you killed her, you and your silly crusade. Nate: It's just a name— Sophie: No, they're not just names — not to me. All my aliases, every one of them, I know when their parents died, I know when they had their first kiss. They—
Nate: Sophie— Sophie: You're the closest thing I've ever had to a real friend and I've never heard you say my real name. How sad is that? Nate: So tell me. Sophie: Let me, let me finish burying Sophie first, finish burying the rest of them until all that's left is me. Just me.
Played straight and subverted once more when Eliot poses as a country music singer. He turns out to be an excellent singer and guitar player, and gets lots of groupies after just one performance. However, he doesn't want to be famous, and he finds the fans annoying. By the end of it, however, he's used to being chased and signing autographs, and seems to rather enjoy it.
Also the entire Leverage crew had this after they split up at the end of the first season. Claiming that they can't go back to their usual con or theft for profit because helping people was more rewarding.
Nate REALLY doesn't like it when you bring up his dead son. It's a bad idea even for the team.
Parker has a really big soft spot for orphans, since she is one. Also, anything to do with dead children and Nate. If you try to use his dead child to screw him over, he will destroy not only you but also your company, upsetting the entire field your company works in and causing a diplomatic incident.
And if you try to get back at him, next time he won't be so nice.
Eliot really dislikes child abusers, as seen in "The Order 23 Job".
Hell, don't threaten a child—the client's child, the mark's child, your own child—when the team is around. Just don't. Or they will reset and unleash Holy Hell upon thee.
Have it be implied you betrayed the team and Parker will go into her Summer Glau mode and hang you off the side of a building.
Actually betray the team and Eliot will go into his Depraved Dentist mode and pretty much scare everyone involved. Including the viewer, a little.
The mark from "The Boiler Room Job" really doesn't like it when people can't remember his nickname.
Also, don't spill Eliot's coffee on him. He'll be cleaning your blood (and teeth) off of his shirt afterwards.
Sophie takes great offense in being called a shrew.
Sophie: Shrew...? Shrew!? SHREW!?!?!
Sterling is one for the entire team. Eliot has to be physically kept away from the guy after the "Queen's Gambit Job".
You aren't apart of the team until you hate Sterling.
Eliot's persona in "The Tap-Out Job" once he's drugged.
Big Brother Instinct: Sophie, for Parker especially. Eliot has this towards Parker and Hardison, though he typically doesn't show it and would never admit it. When a fake psychic caused Parker to break down in tears and run away in "The Future Job," Eliot asks if he should kill him.
While Sophie teaches Parker about what people feel, how to deal with what people feel and how to manipulate what people feel, Eliot is the one who finally begins to teach her how to get in touch with her own emotions, when Parker realizes that everyone has a passion in life but her.
Nate's reaction to the death of his son (as shown in "The Second David Job") is a particularly harrowing use of this trope. It's hammy and over-the-top, but believably so for a man who is all about being in control but who can do nothing as his son dies before his eyes.
Hardison also gets an impressive one when he discovers he's Buried Alive in "The Grave Danger Job".
The villains occasionally do this as well.
Big Store: The pilot is one example; so is "The Boost Job". Nate refers to the trope by name in "The Boiler Room Job".
Inverted in "The Gone Fishin' Job" where the team makes a legit business look fake as bait for a mark looking for a way to launder money. They get a small gym cleared out during peak hours (except for one intense woman who keeps up with Parker on the exercise bike) so it looks like an operation set up to cover "fake" membership dues as a laundering set-up with no real customers. For an added twist, the list of fake members is just the names of all the people the mark had stolen money from; he doesn't even recognize their names.
Bilingual Bonus: "The Zanzibar Marketplace Job" has an aerosol can very descriptively titled "Олій".note Ukrainian for "Oils"
One in "The Two Live Crew Job" if you know Hebrew. When Starke's team meet, there's a line spoken in Hebrew by Mikel Dayan that isn't translated, because she said something pretty nasty: "And you lead me straight to the hands of Eliot Spencer, you son of a bitch" (roughly translated, the actual literal translation is 'Your mother's vagina', which in this context means the same in Hebrew slang).
Black and Nerdy: While Hardison definitely acts cool, he is a computer genius who once hired girls to dress up in Princess Leia-esque gold bikinis while brandishing lightsabers and skipped his high school prom to hack into the Bank of Iceland. For his Nana.
Black and White Morality: For a show centered on a bunch of thieves and liars, there's a surprising lack of depth to almost all the villains of the week. There's never any doubt about who the good and bad guys are because the villains have no redeeming features whatsoever. For these people, puppy kicking is more than a calling—it's a way of life.
Bland-Name Product: The show used an interesting twist to this in season 1: Instead of having fake products, they would have *real* products, but would never show their names or labels. For example, Hardison is clearly seen drinking orange Jones soda, but the front of the label was always against his palm or otherwise turned away from the camera.
Also subverted at times with the product placements for Hyundai and Nate's Tesla Roadster.
On the other hand, "The Cross My Heart Job" has airlines such as Vista Atlantic, Global Vista and Air Uruguay, an electronics store called "Modern Image," "Linguistic Mystic" language learning products, the "Crab-a-rama" restaurant
In "The Ho Ho Ho Job" the Word of God said they submitted a straight list of names of things they thought sounded like they should belong in a run-down mall - the worst and cheesiest names didn't clear because they were already in use.
In "The (Very) Big Bird Job" one of the passenger airlines that merging with Roemer's airline are only referred to as Australians. This means that the company is most likely Qantas, the only still extant Australian-owned airline.
Tara: Octavio, I am many things, but I'm not a liar.
Blind Without 'Em: Possibly played straight with Hardison, as we've seen him two or three times (mostly in flashback) with glasses on, and he may wear contacts. Averted with Eliot, who wears glasses about 35% of the time (Word of God is that they're not for show).
A Bloody Mess: Ketchup for blood in the second season premiere. It fools Nate, as well as the mark.
"What smells like crank and screams like a girl?" Kicks meth dealer's knee inside out, prompting aforementioned scream "Huh...right answer."
Book Ends: The pilot has a scene where the team (minus Sophie, who had not been introduced yet) started out standing in a circle, but then walked away, with an overhead shot. The episode ended with the team (included Sophie this time) standing in a circle and not separating. The season ended with an overhead shot of them (again in a circle) going their separate ways — but hesitating. "The Jailhouse Job" ends with them preparing to split up again... but this time making plans to reunite once they've shaken the authorities.
The series finale is very similar to the pilot and concludes with the show's iconic overhead circle shot only this time, it's just Sophie and Nate walking away, not the whole team. The last shot of the series is the same as the last shot of the pilot; Parker, the new Mastermind, in an armchair flanked by Hardison and Elliot, consoling two sobbing parents who lost their child. She gives almost the same speech about providing leverage.
Also, in the pilot, we see Sophie playing Lady MacBethvery, very poorly; in the finale, we again see her in the role... And she has not improved. Subverted, in the end, though. The bad matinee actress Nate claimed was her was actually a different woman, while the talented evening performer that the agent saw was actually Sophie, who received a standing ovation.
Borrowed Catch Phrase: In "The Experimental Job", after Parker and Hardison beat up some bad guys who were holding Hardison captive:
Thug: You're just a geek!
Parker: (helping the beat-up Hardison stand) Should I tell him it's the age of the geek?
Hardison: He'll figure it out eventually.
Boston: The setting for seasons two, three and four.
Bottle Episode: It took place mostly in a barroom set (for the double meaning) and Nate's apartment. They lampshaded it by calling the episode "The Bottle Job". Also, as the team has to hastily assemble a scam in a fraction of the usual time — Nate calls it "The Wire in a bottle". Finally, this is also the episode where Nate, a recovering alcoholic, starts drinking again, after going the entire season without alcohol.
"The Cross My Heart Job", sort of. The entire con takes place in an airport on a layover with a 108-minute time limit and none of their usual equipment.
"The Broken Wing Job" takes place in the brewery and the HQ. The rest of the team is in Tokyo doing God-knows-what, but Parker is at home trying to foil a robbery thanks to a sprained knee.
The Frame-Up Job takes place entirely at the estate of a deceased millionaire. Bonus points for this only having Nate an Sophie in this episode.
Bottomless Magazines: In "The Last Dam Job," Nate intentionally averts and lampshades this trope. Get your enemy angry enough, and he might not notice when he runs out of bullets...
Boxed Crook: The Italian's plan for Nate and the team in Season 3.
Hardison: (looking at multiple people's profiles) Drug dealer; drug dealer; drug addict; embezzler... drug dealer, drug addict and embezzler.
Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Parker has one in "The Mile High Job," as she plays her role as a flight attendant and tries to comfort a nervous passenger:
Parker: When you think of it, there are many ways to die besides on a plane. Car crash, electrocution, drowning, auto-erotic asphyxiation.
Breaking the Bonds: Eliot does this in the second season finale. However, considering that he's the show's Lightning Bruiser and the cuffs were of the plasti-cuff variety, rather than metal cuffs, it's not surprising.
Word of God says that their research showed that with plastic ties, this is possible given the right training and skills.
Breaking the Fellowship: The finale of seasons 1 and and 2. The end of season 1 has the team walking away after they consider their job done, the end of season 2 has Nate going to jail for the rest of the team.
Break The Fake: Parker, posing as an auctioneer, in "The King George Job" identifies one of the objects up for sale as a fake with a cursory glance and promptly smashes it to pieces.
In the episode "The Rashomon Job", with a bejeweled dagger Nate bends in half. In this case, justified, as the head of security points out the real dagger shouldn't be bendable that way.
Breather Episode: The "Juror #6 Job" (at least in broadcast order), "The Ho Ho Ho Job," "The Van Gogh Job."
At the beginning of "The Homecoming Job," as Hardison is introducing the rest of the team to the Leverage Consulting & Associates offices, he suggests that they personalize their offices, perhaps buy a plant. At the end of the episode, the following exchange occurs.
Parker: I bought a plant. Hardison: Nice. Team spirit. Parker:What does it do?
There was originally supposed to be a much longer, season-spanning joke about the plant, but it was cut for time.
The exchange is referenced again in season 4's "The Lonely Hearts Job" when Parker receives a carnivorous plant from Hardison (although it's actually from Eliot). She notes that she now has a plant that does something.
There's also that the painting of what was supposed to be Nate's relative who started the firm, which Hardison painted himself. Later in the season he goes back to get it before their offices blow up, and it shows up again in the next episode. It's revealed in "The Bottle Job" that Hardison keeps a large stack of cash hidden behind the painting. The painting is still intact as of "The Last Dam Job" at the end of season 4 as the team is seen moving it into the "Batcave" when they're forced to leave Nate's apartment.
The Sapphire Monkey.
Hardison's Rocks Paper Scissors tell in "The Snow Job." Eliot informs him that he STILL has a tell two seasons later in "The Gone Fishin' Job."
A year after that, Hardison STILL has a tell in "The Boys Night Out Job."
Another brick joke from The Gone Fishin' Job was the One Last Smoke excuse.
Hardison dies in Plan M.
And in the last episode, whose "body" did Nate get shown when the last job supposedly went south?
In the briefing in "The Last Dam Job", Nate predicts that Dubenich will personally fall out of the sky if Sophie goes anywhere near anyone Latimer knows. Late in the episode, sure enough, Sophie talks to Latimer and gets him a drink in a bar and Dubenich appears out of nowhere.
Bring It: Eliot does this to some mob hitmen in "The Beantown Bailout Job" before proceeding to beat the crap out of them. Actually, he does this with nearly every fight he's in. Taunting must be part of the criteria for a retrieval specialist.
Nate does this to an extent. He takes on nearly any job, regardless of the difficulty or danger.
British Accents: Sent up in "The Rashomon Job", when only Sophie and Nate's recollection of her accent is accurate. Eliot recalls her with a Cockney accent, Hardison with a Scottish one, and Parker imagines her speaking pure gibberish.
Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: Subverted in "The Bank Shot Job." The "villains" weren't looking for the heroes (and didn't know they were there.) They interrupted the team as they were about to rob The Mark, leading to a cross between this trope and Mugging the Monster.
Maid of Honor: You don't think it makes me look fat? Sophie: (shakes head no) Uh-uh. Parker: Oh, definitely. I mean, why do you think I had to let out the waist, to make you look less skinny? What do you weigh, anyways, a buck fifty? Maid of Honor: (whimpers)
And in "The 15 Minutes Job:"
Nate: The question is, how would I destroy myself? Parker: Yeah, and you can't say booze.
Bullying The Dragon: Invoked in "The Boost Job" the team is setting up a car thief ring and the dirty car salesman who sells the stolen goods by stealing nine nice cars from a golf tournament whose participants were police officers. They were slightly motivated to get their cars back.
Often happens to Elliot when he's playing his shy, bespectacled persona. Sometimes it's intentional on his part, sometimes it just happens.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Parker is possibly the best thief on the planet but she has...quirks. Enough so that she spent an entire scene dressed as a nun in "The Beantown Bailout Job" — and Eliot wasn't sure whether she was wearing it for a job or just being Parker. This borders on Crazy Awesome, in that it's implied in "The Inside Job" and elsewhere that her quirks are the result of her having been thieving as opposed to having a normal childhood.
We get this gem from the "10 Li'l Grifters Job," coming immediately after she pulls Hardison into a previously undiscovered secret passageway:
Hardison: "Is that music?"
Parker: (casually) "Oh, you hear that, too?"
In other words, Parker may well be regularly hearing things when no one around her can, and is not at all concerned about that fact.
Buried Alive: "The Grave Danger Job" (season four) includes Hardison being buried alive by a Mexican drug cartel.
Played for laughs in "The Top Hat Job" during a flashback with a young Parker who did this willingly in a twisted attempt to overcome her fear of the dark.
The Bus Came Back: Several for the two-part season four finale: Victor Dubenich, Chaos, Archie Leech, Quinn and Maggie.
Tara in "The Girls' Night Out Job".
Busman's Holiday: "The Juror #6 Job" features the team sending Parker to jury duty so she'll have a chance to interact with people normally. Of course, there ends up being a big corporation trying to buy the trial.
Also "The Girls Night Out Job" and its counterpart "The Boys Night Out Job" where each half of the team independently finds itself drawn into a completely unrelated job.
The Butcher: The Butcher of Kiev appears in "The Wedding Job". Eliot, acting as the chef at the wedding, briefly misunderstands the reference to "The butcher is here!" and asks if he brought the lamb chops.
But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Several times the people marked to be taken down have so many victims they don't recall them or know their faces. In particular in "The Snow Job" the corrupt house repairer who steals people's homes legally doesn't recognize the names of his own victims when handed a list of them in the job.
The Butler Did It: called out by Sophie in "The Frame-Up Job". You can figure out that as a Dead Unicorn Trope, this gets subverted as it turns out that the butler was framed.
Cacophony Cover Up: In "The Scheherazade Job" they use the climax of the masterpiece "Scheherazade" to cover-up blowing up a hole in the ceiling of a vault and as an excuse to get the people to turn off the seismic sensors. Notably, they immediately wreck their own plan because they are too enraptured by the violin solo which follows to actually finish the heist (so the alarm ends up going off anyway)
Callback: Word of God says there isn't a show bible but Leverage has an enormous amount of callbacks that often come from throwaway lines like the infamous "Hitter, Hacker, Grifter, Thief, Mastermind" which was a tossaway line in the season 1 premiere.
After beating Hardison in Rocks, Paper, Scissors in "The Snow Job," Eliot informs him that he has a tell. Two seasons later in "The Gone Fishing Job," Eliot beats him in Rocks, Paper, Scissors again — and informs him that he still has a tell.
And Eliot lets him win one despite the tell in "The Boys Night Out Job."
Of course, the one he "won" led to Eliot flirting with a police clerk and Hardison getting chased by two very...enthusiastic dogs.
In the season four opener, "The Long Way Down Job" there's a callback to the Snow Job from season one. (And Nate's rampant drunkenness...)
Nate: Okay, people, Let's go steal a mountain. Parker: Again. Nate: What? Parker: Again. We already stole a mountain, two years ago. Nate: Really? Eliot: Technically, it was a mountain resort, not a mountain, but yeah. Hardison: You were also very drunk on that one.
The team also makes quite a few references to the mark Parker stabbed with a fork in "The Stork Job".
Parker: I think I'm getting better at this! Hardison: I'm cloning Rockwell's cell phone right now. Good work, girl. Parker: And I didn't even stab him! Hardison: Yeah—we—you—we are so proud of you. Uh, no stabbing Wednesdays. New tradition.
When Eliot and Hardison can't communicate over walkie-talkies in "The Cross My Heart Job," Eliot signals him by having "Kirk Picard" paged — a callback to the Star Trek-based system the two of them worked out in "The Order 23 Job."
Also in "The Cross My Heart Job," Nate and Sophie refer to the repeated calls in to the National Weather Service claiming they saw a tornado as a "MASSDOT Special" — referring to the similar tactic they used on the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to steal a train in "The Gone Fishin' Job."
In "The Queen's Gambit Job," Nate references using Plan M. Hardison, alarmed, asks about the prospects of him dying — a callback to way back in the pilot, when Nate jokes that "Hardison dies in Plan M."
In "The Lonely Hearts Job," Parker gets a carnivorous plant and notes that it's a plant that does something. This is a reference to Parker and Hardison's conversation in "The Homecoming Job" (see Brick Joke above).
In "The Two-Horse Job" while speaking of Sterling either Sophie or Nate mentions he once hid in a trunk of a car for over a week to get his mark. In "The Zanzibar Marketplace Job" he hides in one again to catch the bad guy.
The Series Finale, "The Long-Goodbye Job" is filled with callbacks to the team's very first con in "The Nigerian Job". We see the return of the Steranko from season 3, along with "20 pounds crazy in a 5 pound bag", Sophie's Bad Bad Acting as Lady Macbeth, Parker changing in an elevator as the boys turn away. And finally, the overhead shot of all five team members standing in a circle, Nate and Sophie walking away. The last shot of the series is Parker, Hardison and Elliot consoling sobbing parents, with Parker in the armchair.
California Doubling: Starting in season 2, Portland doubles for Boston. Really, really, really obvious when Portland's PGE Park is used in the "Three Strikes Job." However, the trope is averted starting in season 5, as the series' setting moves to Portland.
The Call Knows Where You Live: Nate can't escape helping people. He finds a client while on a job interview in the season two premiere and another one while serving time in prison during the season three premiere. Not to mention Hardison bought the building his apartment was in and turned into their new base of operations.
Camera Abuse: Deliberately incorporated into a fake news broadcast which the crew staged as part of their scheme to discredit Moto in "The Scheherazade Job." "Reporting" in front of a green screen, Eliot ducked on cue as Hardison shook the camera, and a thrown bottle that struck the "lens" a glancing blow was later inserted into the shot.
Cannot Spit It Out: In the Leverage episode "The Double Blind Job", Parker, who often has trouble in social situations, can't quite bring herself to tell Hardison that she has feelings for him, and ends up blurting out "I have feelings for... pretzels." Unusually for this trope, Hardison knows exactly what she really means, and responds, "They're right here when you want them."
Catch Phrase: "Age of the geek, baby."-Hardison, Also "global economy" and "alternative revenue stream" might count as either this or Arc Words.
Hardison will often say the people he's trying to hack are going against his ethnicy, and then say "Jewish". He'll also say "You think we all look the same".
Not to mention the ubiquitous phrases "We're going with a much bigger scam" and "Let's go steal ourselves a <usually large event or location which is actually impossible to steal in real life>," (by which he usually means Let's go fake the ownership of _) which is a classic Mad Libs Catch Phrase.
The best one is "Let's go steal ourselves the future" from the aptly named "The Future Job".
Also one of the best "Let's go steal a Parker." from "The Inside Job."
In "The San Lorenzo Job", they steal a country.
"Let's go steal the Department of Defense." "Isn't that treason?" "We'll give it back."
"So what do we do, steal the wake?" "Show some respect. We're going to BORROW the wake."
"...the man on the street... in Africa."
"...a miracle." "Aw, we're all going to hell."
"...a federal witness."
"...a royal title."
"...a second encounter."
"She's gonna buy a jury!" "Not if we... steal it first."
"We're gonna steal this ballpark. And then the team. Not necessarily in that order."
Sophie: "Now here's the hard part. We need to steal a general." Nate: "No, it's let's go steal a general! You know, it's a rallying cry. We need to steal a general, it's kinda naggy; it's like we need eggs."
Also, "We pick up where the law leaves off."
And finally, "This is what we do"/"It's what we do."
"It's a very distinctive _______"— Eliot's response whenever someone's astonished at how he can identify people/weapons using cues like knife fighting style/stance/sound of a gunshot/shoeprints.
Gets lampshaded by Parker after Eliot identifies the mark's hireling as being former Spetnaz based on a single bootprint in "The Long Way Down Job".
"I don't like guns" — Eliot, right before or after disarming an armed man and unloading the gun in the very same motion.
"Dammit, Hardison!" — Eliot's response to being the recipient of Hardison's mistakes or pranks.
Hardison finally gets a turnabout in The Gone Fishin' Job and gets a "Dammit, Eliot!"
"You're adorable." — Whenever you need to explain to someone exactly what genre of show they are on.
"Seriously?" — A go-to expression of dismay or surprise. Usually said by Hardison, though Sophie seems to have started saying it occasionally too, and everyone's said it at least once. (Nate upon opening the fridge to find lots of orange soda, Eliot when Hardison just happens to have a blacklight on him, Parker when Eliot goes on about sleeping with lots of models...) It's a habit of co-showrunner John Rogers, who gets a kick out of how each actor has made it his/her own.
Also "Really?" used in the same way as "Seriously?"
"I've dated a lot of _____s." — Eliot's excuse for knowing whatever random fact he needs to know for the episode. So far, flight attendants, models, and a neurologist, at least.
"I can explain!" — Nate's go-to whenever his ex-wife Maggie realizes that Nate's involved her in a con somehow. Word of God says that Nate said it a lot to Maggie during their marriage whenever he was in trouble.
"Run it." — Nate telling Hardison to start the briefing about whoever the subject of their job is.
"There is something wrong with you!" — Usually uttered by Eliot whenever he finds out about another one of Parker's quirks.
Of course, they all get something like that at one point or another, as when people look askance at Eliot for being able to identify "distinctive" things, or watching fights in his downtime because "What? You never know when you might need to fight on ice." They all have very esoteric hobbies related to their specialties and they're all quite Genre Blind about it.
Nate Ford in the first two seasons has always drawn a moral line between himself and his crew — always responding with some Arc Words version of "I'm not a thief" which makes it especially awesome as a catch phrase in the second season finale when Nate is caught by Interpol Sterling and the FBI ask who he is. His reply? "My name is Nate Ford...and I'm a thief!"
Also, Parker's "What? I'm a thief!"
Hardison's got "Do you know who I am/do you know what my name is?" whenever the team asks how they're going to do something that falls within his skill set.
"OK, we can use this!" — Nate whenever a mark says or does something that immediately messes up the current plan in action, which means chessmaster Nate has to change it on the fly.
Word of God has addressed this in part by saying that in the Leverage-verse, TNG had a slightly different cast and slightly different characters. (Though someone didn't tell the writer of the Tie-In NovelThe Con Job — see Actor Allusion above.)
Chain of Deals: The con in "The Gimme a K Street Job" requires them to convince four congressmen to vote yes on a bill. Sophie's man will do it once he gets corn subsidies, but to get those she needs to deal with solar energy, and so on and so on and so on, ending with all of her personas having their own personal assistant and her in a burka facilitating a deal between a Middle Eastern man and the Armed Forces. Oh, and she gets her own military base named after her.
The real hilarious part comes right around the fourth deal, where she decides to cheat, gets an office...and next scene is the above.
Character Development: Per Word of God, Eliot, Parker and Hardison will eventually get to be on Nate and Sophie's level. In season four we started seeing signs of this, notably Hardison's attempt to run a con. In the fifth season Hardison gets a new base of operations and new covers for the team on his own initiative, winds up owning a restaraunt as well, and is acting as a confidant for whatever it is Nate's got planned; Parker successfully foils a plot to ransom a billionare's daughter on her own; and she, Hardison and Eliot do a job tracking down a lethal bio-weapon, and save probably the entire Eastern Seaboard without any supervision from Nate and Sophie at all.
Nate: "The First and Second David Jobs", "The Three-Card Monte Job", "The Miracle Job"
Sophie: "The Two Live Crew Job", "The King George Job"
Eliot: "The Two Horse Job", "The Tap-Out Job", "The Studio Job", "The Big Bang Job"
Hardison: "The Mile High Job", "The Scheherazade Job", "The Grave Danger Job"
Parker: "The Stork Job", "The Inside Job", "The Boost Job", "The Broken Wing Job"
Character Name Alias: The aliases used in Leverage generally have some connection to the heist they're pulling. Word of God states that this is because Hardison picks them.
The Cheerleader: Nikki pretends to be this in "The Reunion Job." In fact, she's just a hired gun assassin trying to get close to her target by driving away a witness, albeit a pretty bitchy one.
Chef of Iron: Eliot. In "The Wedding Job", he demonstrates that he's eerily schooled in the differences in proper knife-holding techniques for different tasks, causing Nate to become visibly disturbed.
Eliot:"Hold a knife this way, dice an onion. Hold a knife this way, slice through eight Yakuza in four seconds..."
That same episode has Eliot dispatching a thugThe Butcher ofKiev by shoving a pair of hors d'oeuvres in his eyes that he squirted lemon juice on.
Nate: "Did you just kill a man with an appetizer?"
Eliot: "I dunno...maybe..."
This is set up as early as episode 2 ("The Homecoming Job"), in which he assembles a pile of phonemes into a convincingly French name for the hors d'oeuvre he's holding.
Almost, he managed to get all of them except the phonemes for "F," "U," and "K." Although, he deliberately annoys the guy he's trying to record them from, who then puts them together for him (really loudly.)
Hardison makes sure they save the "Old Nate" painting before they blow up the season one headquarters in "The First David Job". In "The Bottle Job", he reveals that's where he keeps his "emergency fund".
In the season three premiere, "The Jailhouse Job", Hardison is seen building a toy helicopter. That helicopter plays a role in fooling the prison guards into thinking Nate is trying to escape from the rooftop.
"The Boost Job" has a literal gun. Well, an EMP gun...
The season 3 finale is called "The San Lorenzo Job". Two episodes earlier, in "The Ho Ho Ho Job", the mark is headed for San Lorenzo when he decides to flee the country.
Moreau is able to hack into Hardison's secure video feed at the beginning of "The San Lorenzo Job" because Larry Duberman's software and servers went on the black market after the team took him down in "The Reunion Job".
More of a Chekhov's Fake Gun: The prop machine guns in "The Stork Job" — as soon as Hardison complains that no one would be fooled by them, you know they're going to come up later. The team ends up using them to replace some of the arms dealer's products. Nate also specifically mentions earlier that all they have is a prop truck — which they end up putting to good use.
The pipe wrench in the library in "The 10 Li'l Grifters Job."
Nate talks to Maggie on the phone in "The Miracle Job" before she makes her first onscreen appearance later in the season in "The First David Job." Word of God says that Maggie was originally written into the episode.
The daughter Hayley keeps popping up in "The 10 Li'l Grifters Job" without much relevance to the plot until the very end.
Eliot, 'taking the rest of the job off' in "The 15 Minutes Job." Longtime fans had a sneaking suspicion he'd still end up playing an important role in the con.
In "The Bottle Job," we see a flashback to Nate's dad breaking a guy's fingers while young Nate watched. At the end of the episode, Nate breaks Doyle's fingers in the same way to provide a little extra emphasis to telling Doyle to get out of town and never come back.
In "The Reunion Job," Sophie demonstrates "neurolinguistic programming" by using the power of suggestion to get Eliot to pour her tea. At the end, the same skill is used to manipulate the bad guy into changing his master password to something chosen by the team.
"The San Lorenzo Job" features a call back all the way to season two when Sophie fakes her death the same way Eliot did in "The Beantown Bailout Job"
Sophie mentions this in “The Queen’s Gambit Job” when she notes that Nate is always playing chess.
Chess Motifs: "The Juror #6 Job" and "The Queen's Gambit Job" are full of them, and the whole series has them to a lesser degree. Nate is referred to as either a "White Knight" or a "Black King". (Obviously, he's black—Leverage Consulting & Associates moves second.) Not for nothing, the show does work with this.
Nate: Black King. Powerful enough, but important, and if he's without an escape or protection, the game is over.
Sophie: Black Queen. The most versatile and dangerous piece on the board, but vulnerable if threatened.
Eliot: Black Rook. The muscle. Fast, dangerous, and when well-placed ("specific range of efficacy") able to dominate the game.
Hardison: Black Bishop. Confined to only one type of square, he's a tiny god in cyberspace but unable to do a pick to save his life. A good long-range piece.
However, in "The 12-Step Job" (and others) he begins to show the capability to kick serious ass.
Parker: Black Knight. So stealthy, she's seemingly able to turn herself invisible and teleport from place to place. Her moves are erratic and she's the only piece that doesn't in some way emulate the Queen, with the added bonus of her knight's move thinking.
Everyone Else: The pawns. Not able to do much on their own, but together, they decide where and how the game is played.
We could go on. White Turned Black Pawns (no pun intended) could very well be the victims. White King can be the head of the villains they face off. Other White pieces would be another major bad guy except for the White Pawns. They would be the stereotypical henchmen. Black Pawns can be the few allies like Nate's wife in "The First and Second David Job" and the doctor in "The Tap-Out Job".
"The Three-Card Monte Job" explicitly contrasts Nate's game (chess) with his father's (by a spectacular coincidence, three-card monte).
TNT's ads for the fourth season used a chessboard motif, which was continued by the American packaging◊ for the DVD set.
Christianity is Catholic: Nate went to seminary (but dropped out), his friend became a priest, the girl in "The Beantown Bailout Job" has a Saint Brigid pendant. However, it's largely justified since Boston, where most of the show takes place, is roughly 50% Catholic. In "The Miracle Job," they even show a fairly accurate portrayal of a Roman Catholic mass except for the colloquialization of the Gospel text.
"The Boys' Night Out Job" also features a group of Irish thugs who refuse to kill someone inside the church. They finally decide to drag them out and kill them in the parking lot.
CIA Evil, FBI Good: The CIA (or one of its agents) used homeless veterans with PTSD to experiment with "hands-off" torture; when one of them died of a heart attack he got replaced by Eliot. They're also aware of the Leverage crew.
It is also heavily suggested that the woman who sent the Leverage team after Damian was CIA, who even states that being bad is necessary to do good. Nate dismisses this.
Class Reunion: Duberman from "The Reunion Job" was a software mogul obsessed with proving he was better than the classmates who had tormented him in high school. To get his computer passwords, the team set up a Class Reunion with Nate taking on the role of a Jerk Jock who had degenerated into a drunken slob.
Classy Cat-Burglar: Parker is arguably a subversion of this archetype; while she has all of the thieving skills, she has none of the typical seductiveness. This isn't to say she can't pull it off, as she showed quite well in "The Iceman Job". Whatever her emotional eccentricities, she is the Best Thief in the World.
Claustrophobia: The mark in "The Miracle Job" has it, causing him to Freak Out when he's stuck in an elevator with Sophie.
Hardison struggles with it too, though it's not as severe as it is with some people.
Clean Up Crew: Eliot pretends to be this twice (in "The Maltese Falcon Job," and "The Three Days of the Hunter Job") both times to scare a mark into panicking and doing something stupid.
Cliché Storm: In "The San Lorenzo Job", the team writes a speech for a politician that is intentionally made up of nothing but political speech cliches. The public eats it up. invoked
Cliffhanger: The second season finale ends with Nate turning himself in to Interpol and the FBI to save his team. Also, he's got a gunshot wound in the gut.
In commentary, John Rogers specifically denies that this qualifies. I.e., had the show not been renewed, the completion of Nate's arc would have made this an emotionally satisfying, if bittersweet, series finale.
Cloud Cuckoolander: Parker. Dear God, Parker. Word of God says that she has "a touch of Asperger's Syndrome," which would explain her behavior and also attributes that make her a good thief (like enhanced perception of small changes in familiar objects). It also says "I think she channels anxiety and aggression into precision and control" Not to mention she had a messed up childhood. The rest of the team is used to it. Eliot is usually the one who comments on it ...frequently
Parker: What is it with women and shoes? Sophie: There is something wrong with you. Eliot: That's what I said!
Eliot: Oh, she's dressed up as a nun for a con. Nate: Did you think she was just dressed up like a nun for no reason? Eliot: It's Parker. (beat) Nate: ...Fair enough.
Parker: "Oof. I'm so glad I don't live in the real world."
A really quick example of this pops up in "The 10 L'il Grifters Job" — while wandering through a secret passageway, Hardison asks about the music playing in the background — Parker responds with "oh, you hear that, too?"
She seems to be the perfect mixture of bizarre nurture and crazy ass nature, for instance, we learn she came by her love of Tasers from Archie Leach, her adoptive father.
Nate, Sophie, and Hardison (in that order) occasionally use this when they have to make-up or adjust a con on the fly.
Cold Sniper: Part of a major character's Back Story in the Tie-In NovelThe Bestseller Job. Vicki Rhodes killed terrorists for an American black-ops group—until she realized that her latest targets were innocent people whose only crime was getting in her employers' way. She faked her death, created a new identity, and became The Atoner by writing a novel that exposed her former bosses' abuses.
Colonel Badass: Col. Vance, Eliot's old boss, who has a bad habit of not waiting for orders to go after terrorists and assembles small strike teams instead. After an incident that involved an FBI agent shooting up a cafe in Rome, he was banned from using government agents for secret missions; fortunately Eliot, Parker and Hardison happened to be in town. He's also so tough it took three hits to the face for Eliot to knock him out.
Comm Links: Hardison invented an earpiece called the Earbud that hides almost undetectably in one’s ear and can be used in all but the most extreme situations. The entire team nearly constantly has them, allowing them to easily communicate with each other and listen to any conversations that the others are having. Commonly somebody (mostly Hardison and Eliot) will mutter to themselves, forgetting others can hear them. Losing or turning off an Earbud is always a dramatic turn.
The Shill (Eliot or Nate normally plays this part.)
Concealing Canvas: In "The Bottle Job," we find that Hardison has hidden large quantities of cash inside the frame of his painting of Harlan Leverage III (AKA Old Nate).
Concealment Equals Cover: Played ludicrously straight in "The Big Bang Job" where Eliot takes cover during a gunfight behind a large cardboard box and it's shown stopping all of the bullets.
Confess in Confidence: Nate (a mostly-trained former seminary student) uses the sanctity of the confessional to achieve his aims as a conman in "The Miracle Job." He gets in on the wrong side to talk to the priest, and when the priest steps out, the mark's beleaguered assistant steps in... putting Nate in the right position to sway him into exposing the mark's plans.
Conspiracy Theorist: "Wade Perkins" (Hardison) in "The Three Days of the Hunter Job", complete with a standard-issue Room Full of Crazy. Hilariously, Eliot and Hardison start telling Parker the stuff on there is real, just to mess with her.
Several throughout the series, but, during "The Fairy Godparents Job," recurring FBI agents Taggart and McSweeten mention the events of "The Wedding Job" as well as "The Bank Shot Job," which they don't realize the Leverage team was involved in. Technically, they know that Hardison and Parker were involved in the events of the former, but they think that Hardison and Parker are fellow FBI agents.
Whenever the show wants to use FBI agents for some gags, Taggart and McSweeten are the go-to characters, so it's not surprising that they'd be the ones making the references.
When the Yakuza show up in "The Runway Job," Eliot comments "Huh, cleavers. Haven't done that in a while." This refers back to his cleaver fight in "The Wedding Job," and the conversation he and Nate had in that episode:
When Bonanno shows up in "The Jailhouse Job" he's walking with a cane, obviously still recovering from the injuries he sustained in "The Three Strikes Job". He's also now a Detective Captain.
Nate has continued to use him as an ally, getting the evidence against Moreau to him in "The Big Bang Job" and calling him to arrest the killers in "The 10 L'il Grifters Job." They're even friendly enough to play poker together in "The Boys' Night Out Job" (which means Bonanno is conveniently around to arrest the bad guys again, too).
A commenter on John Rogers' blog asked if the Stradivarius violin being smuggled in "The Mile High Job" was the same one Hardison used in "The Scheherazade Job," which Rogers liked so much he declared it canon.
In "The Underground Job," Sophie and Nate refer to a "fiddle game," which was run a few episodes earlier in "The Studio Job." Highlighted by Parker in this exchange:
Parker: Is Eliot gonna be the fiddle again? Nate and Sophie: No. Parker: Can I be the fiddle? Nate and Sophie:No.
In "The Rashomon Job," Hardison caustically brings up the hypnosis from "The Scheherazade Job" while giving Nate a very unfunny glare.
In both "The Iceman Job" and "The Morning After Job," Parker is nervous about having to seduce a target (normally Sophie's job), and brings up how things didn't go so smoothly when she tried that during "The Stork Job."
Parker: Remember the last time I was the "carrot?" Remember how I stabbed a guy with a fork?
She's gotten more confident in herself by "The 15 Minutes Job."
Parker: I think I'm getting better at this... I didn't even stab him!
In "The Inside Job," when the team finds Parker's not-so-strange living quarters, the bunny from the very first episode is there.
Janet Lin, the Channel 6 reporter who the team uses to bring down Dr. Hannity in "The Inside Job," is the newscaster doing the story on the dagger that kicks off the plot in "The Rashomon Job."
At the beginning of "The Long Way Down Job," Nate opens the mission by saying "Let's go steal a mountain." Parker immediately comments "again," clarifying that they'd stolen a mountain — well, really more of a mountain resort — two years ago. This was a reference to "The Snow Job." As Word of God says, "after three years, you've earned your in-jokes."
Parker telling Sophie she likes her crazy driving in "The Big Bang Job," calling back to everyone's complaints about Parker's own driving in "The Boost Job" and "The Gone Fishin' Job."
Eliot uses the car he loaned to Nate for the con in "The Boost Job" to track a mook in "The 15 Minutes Job."
In "The Cross My Heart Job," Nate and Sophie agree to use the "MassDOT Special" to convince the National Weather Service that a tornado is headed for the airport. They do, indeed, run the same con they used on the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in "The Gone Fishin' Job."
In "The Queen's Gambit Job," the team has a conversation at the end that refers to the fact that Hardison "dies in Plan M," referring back to the pilot.
The tie-in novels are filled with references to the events of the TV episodes.
Convenient Slow Dance: Sophie and Nate share one at the end of "The Reunion Job" — as do Hardison and Parker.
Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: In "The Homecoming Job," Sophie reveals that Congressman Jenkins lied about not knowing about their client's shooting in Iraq because he looked her straight in the eye when he said it, rather than at any other part of her anatomy. Apparently, the only time any man ever looks a woman in the eye is when he's making an effort to lie to her. Alternate explanations (e.g., he's Straight Gay, Asexual, or just Happily Married) apparently do not exist.
Admittedly, she is a world class grifter who can presumably read people very well. It is likely that there were other signs as well, that was simply one of the most notable. Also, it is Gina Bellman in a cocktail dress.
Also, looking someone directly in the eye can be different to looking at someone's face when talking to them. Looking too delibrately in someone's eye can be a sign of trying to cover up a lie.
Cooking Duel: A much more serious example than most in which Parker gets into a pickpocketing duel with her opposite number in "The Two Live Crew Job".
Counting Bullets: Nate does this to Dubenich at the end of "The Long Dam Job", before letting Dubenich that Nate knows exactly how many bullets are in his own gun.
Courtroom Antic: Hardison's part of the con in "The Juror #6 Job." He started by bringing in a massive amount of information so boring and irrelevant that the judge was falling asleep, when by that point she should definitely have been demanding an actual justification for why it was important. Then he discredited his opposition's expert witness by bringing up the fact that he was on the no-fly list, which he only knew by hacking into their database and so had no proof of, and claiming that if the government didn't trust him to fly how could they trust his testimony. The judge ignored their objection and didn't give so much as a Disregard That Statement.
In "The Stork Job," he discusses an adult movie with Eliot.
In "The Beantown Bailout Job," Sophie says he has "icky, kinky" stuff under his mattress.
In "The Maltese Falcon Job," when Tara lets them into the hotel room, he keeps glancing back, trying to get a look at her naked.
Crazy People Play Chess: Nate's first opponent is this in "The Queen's Gambit Job". He literally sleeps through most of the match, only waking up to make a single move. And he's so good that Nate tries to very quietly move and press the chess timer. It doesn't work.
Parker apparently spends her free time thinking up ways to rob stuff. "Some people do crosswords."
Also Nate, who, as noted below, made at least 13 different plans for the first job the team (minus Sophie) pulled (see the quote for Time for Plan B.)
Nate now has at least 26 standing plans. Allegedly, Hardison dies in about 6 or 7 of them (including Plan M, which they actually did, causing Nate to clarify that he only "is likely to die" in that plan, but is guaranteed to die in all the others, including plan C). Nobody else dies in any plans,note except possibly Sophie, he avoids the question so he's probably teasing Hardisonnote and Sophie. Eliot does gets a trendy eye scar in one of them too.
When the team needs an ultraviolet light, Hardison casually pulls a portable one out of his bag, prompting Eliot to wonder why he would be carrying something like that.
Hardison also spends his weekends making disguises and extremely detailed fake identities (the basis for the plot of Juror #6) for the group.
Eliot spends free time watching hockey fights. "You never know when you'll have to fight a guy on ice."
Sophie has emergency clothes (and shoes) stashed in Nate's place and implied she has similar set ups in other locations. She also always has a spare pair of high heels in her bag.
The team works so well together that often when one of them turns out not to be Crazy-Prepared enough, another team member has already prepared for the possibility.
When Parker does not bring a parachute for one job it turns out that Hardison packed one for her and snuck it into her gear.
Cringe Comedy: Not every episode, but some of them just pile it on. In "The Top-Hat Job", when half the crew is onstage performing a magic show they haven't exactly rehearsed for, not only do they keep cutting back to that part just to keep up the "comedy," but they add in some even worse Cringe Comedy when they have to use the magic show to get not only a thumb print but a retinal scan in order for the other half of the gang to do their job.
In addition, Wordof God has stated on several occasions that Eliot frequently takes jobs offscreen for a certain Miranda Zero, as in Global Frequency. John Rogers was one of the showrunners on the original failed TV pilot for GF.
Cryptic Background Reference: Leverage has several of these, such as the named cons that we never see the team run, like the "London Spank," the "Genevan Paso Doble" and the "Apple Pie," which is a "Cherry Pie" but with lifeguards. Also, there's what Nate did at the Russian border. Word of God says that he may have technically hijacked a train, but that hasn't been mentioned on the show and likely never will be.
Curb-Stomp Battle: A surprisingly one-sided fight scene in "The First David Job." Eliot can't even get a punch in until the very end, when he works out how to take down his unexpectedly fast opponent. By that time, he's barely able to stand and is impaired for the rest of the episode. Fortunately, he's stubborn.
Particularly unusual given that up until that point, whenever Eliot throws down (which is at least once per episode) he's been the Curb Stomper.
Unleashing Eliot is virtually guaranteed to turn a fight into a Curb-Stomp Battle in the team's favour. When a bad guy comes along who can stand up to him for more than 30 seconds, you know you're in for a particularly epic fight.
In "The Homecoming Job", Hardison wants to spoof the IP of a webcam and broadcast a fake signal; Eliot just throws a rock at it. It ends up being subverted when the lost feed alerts the guard to the fact that there's something going on.
Parker plays this straight in "The King George Job" when she has to replace the auctioneer.
Parker: Sophie told me to find his true heart's desire and give it to him, but that would have taken way too long. FLASHBACK TO AUCTIONEER'S OFFICE — Parker: Does this rag smell like chloroform?
Nate's dead son, who needed medical treatments were denied by the very insurance company he worked for, resulting in quitting his job, divorcing his wife, and becoming an alcoholic. Not necessarily in that order.
In "The Future Job" it was revealed by a fake psychic that Parker had a dead younger brother who died in a car accident when they were both little. What makes it especially painful to her is that she was the one who taught him how to ride a bicycle, which was what he was doing when he was hit.
The Mark in "The White Rabbit Job" has a dead second cousin that causes most of the conflict.
Darker and Edgier: Season Three by comparison. People often die either before or during cons, the stakes are raised, and Nate seems even more out of control.
Dating Catwoman: Nate and Sophie's pre-series relationship... even though he remained faithful to his wife and she believes he was never really tempted. (He was.)
Deadpan Snarker: Everyone has their moments, but most notably Hardison and Eliot, particularly around each other. As in this hissed exchange while Hardison pretends to beat Eliot up as part of a con.
Hardison has been using an unconvincing fake accent with the character he is portraying:
Eliot: Next time, man, I’ll play the thief. Hardison: I’d like to hear you do an accent! Eliot: I'd like to hear you do an accent! Hardison: I went to Second City Chicago! Eliot: Where did you find time between that and Karate at the Y?
Nate gets a good one in "The Wedding Job": "Yeah okay, yeah. Let's go rob Nicky Moscone. A guy who kills people, and lives in our city. Yeah, let's do that."
Deal with the Devil: A wealthy investor(?) who is powerful enough to plant a bug in the team's office and reinstate a greedy agriculture company's second-in-command after the team framed her offers to hook Nate up with loads of inside information on potential targets in exchange for a heads-up so he can sell his stocks before the team destroys the companies. Nate walks away, for now.
Death in the Clouds: A variation in "The Mile High Job", where someone on the plane has evidence they plan to destroy before it can be used against their company in court. The "evidence" turns out to be another employee, who the company wants assassinated before she can testify. And just to be certain, they try to bring down the whole plane...
Defeat Means Friendship: Nate chased all of the team members when he was previously an insurance investigator. One flashback reveals that Nate and Sophie even shot each other when he was chasing her.
Reinforcing this trope is the fact that in the pilot, they all hold him in high regards, and most likely were only willing to work with him/listen to him because he was good enough to have beaten them in the past.
Digital Piracy Is Evil: In "The Bank Shot Job," Hardison mentions having to route through three different satellites to get a decent signal and download the latest Doctor Who torrent — Parker turns on a lighter and says: "Hey... Illegal downloading is wrong." Then she sets fire to a wastebasket inside a small van. This is especially ironic because Parker is nothing if not a thief.
I think that, as someone who steals things like the hope diamond for the challenge, she more likely finds it wrong as it is cheating, like reading the last page of a mystery first.
Or that it's too easy. She might think that if he wants to see Doctor Who he should either hack into the BBC or deal with the alarms and guards to steal the hard copy.
No, dealing with alarms and guards to steal the unseen episodes, and the 'lost' episodes.
Dirty Business: Eliot Spencer is the team's "hitter" and is the only one on the team to physically hurt people on a regular basis. Even if nearly everyone he takes down is asking for it and he doesn't seem to have a problem with doing what has to be done he's the only one on a team of career-criminals-turned-Robin-Hoods who describes himself as a bad guy (and not in a way that suggests he's proud of it either).
His dialogue in "The Tap Out Job" to Sophie and the "Gone Fishin' Job" to Hardison before they return to the militia camp illustrates that he has no illusions about the nature of his work, but he also knows that he is particularly suited to it and that it's sometimes entirely necessary, so he shoulders the responsibility. He takes the pain so others don't have to, because he is the one who CAN take it.
It is repeatedly indicated that in the past Eliot commited acts for which there is no excuse or justification and it is the guilt over this that drives him to do what he does. Word of God describes him as a man who has accepted that he is eternally damned.
In "The Long Way Down Job," Eliot and Parker are trapped and their only way out is to abandon the body of the man they wanted to rescue. Eliot points out that they are the only two on the team that are cold enough to do it, which is why they are there. The only difference between them is that Parker is trying to become a better person, whereas Eliot has accepted his role.
Also, that it isn't necessarily wrong as the others would have died trying to do it, it's just who they are, blessing or a curse.
When it turns out that Eliot has a past with Damien Moreau, he makes it clear that the worst things he's done were when he was with that man. How bad was it?
Eliot: Every one of Moreau's men have innocent blood on their hands. Every one of 'em. Every one of 'em... are worse than me. You think you know what I've done? The worst thing I ever did in my entire life I did for Damien Moreau. And I... I'll never be clean of that. Parker: What did you do? Eliot: Don't ask that, Parker. Because if you ask me, I'm gonna tell you. So, please, don't ask me.
Disappearing Box: The team performs this trick during their "Top Hat Job" magic show in order to get the CEO up to unlock a door requiring a retinal scan. Their way of doing it: they switch his box with an empty one when it passes behind a sheet.
Hardison in the "Homecoming Job": "This is because of my et-ni-ticity, ain't it? Cause I'm Jewish?" Bonus points for the nametag on his shirt reading "White."
Gets a callback in "The Cross My Heart Job" when Hardison has to use a woman's ID badge. When someone questions him about his gender, Hardison claims he's being sexist, racist, and anti-Semitic.
Disguised Hostage Gambit: In "The Bank Shot Job," Nathen is about to con a corrupt judge out of thousands of dollars when the bank is robbed and the robbers take everyone hostage when the police arrive. The robbers turn out to be father and son who only rob the place to get money to pay off some thugs holding the father's wife for ransom. The judge figures out that he is being scammed and when he disarms the robbers, he uses the gun to shoot Nate. When the cops storm the bank in the end, the team has arranged things to look like the judge was the sole robber and hostage taker. All the witnesses back them up since the judge is reviled by everyone and the cops will not investigate further since they hate his guts as well and there is a conflict of interest in any investigation they might pursue.
Disney Villain Death: In the finale of Season 4, Nate is holding Latimer and Dubenich at gunpoint. Nate reasons that if he kills one of them, the other goes free and becomes a Karma Houdini. Latimer and Dubenich are already pissed at each other, so he takes a fourth option (his third option was to shoot them both dead) and spares them, but sets the gun at the edge of the concrete platform they're standing on and walks away. Both Dubenich and Latimer go after the gun and get into a struggle causing them to fall off the platform.
Does This Make Me Look Fat?: In "The Wedding Job", one of the bridesmaids asks Parker and Sophie if the dress makes her look fat. Sophie reassures her, but Parker being Parker, she tells her the truth.
Parker: Oh, definitely. I mean, why do you think I had to let out the waist, to make you look less skinny?
The Dog Was the Mastermind: In "The Carnival Job" the mark's nanny is really the leader of the Russian group he's selling a microchip to, and she's been watching him and his family for years.
Doing It for the Art: Part of the team's entire schtick (the other part being Good Feels Good). They certainly aren't doing what they do for a living (consider that at the end of the pilot, the entire team was wealthy enough to live extravagantly for the rest of their lives).
Parker: Gimme three days of prep. It'd be like taking diamonds from the French National Bank. beat Parker: That's like taking candy from a baby. Hardison: I got it. Parker: A very easy thing to do. Hardison: Got. It.
Double Meaning Title: "The Bottle Job" is a Bottle Episode. They also describe the con they're running as "The Wire in a bottle," since they have to run it in a limited amount of time. Finally, it's the episode where Nate falls Off The Wagon.
In "The Double Blind Job", they pull a con they call the Double Blind, and the plot is about pharmaceutical testing (in which double-blind experiments are used).
Drama Bomb: "The Rundown Job" is a straight action episode in which Eliot, Hardison and Parker struggle to prevent a Mad Scientist from unleashing The Plague in Washington, DC. The stakes are higher than usual, and there are only occasional flashes of the show's usual humor.
Happens to Hardison a lot as well. He pulls off some pretty amazing work back in Mission Control, but the others (particularly Elliot) often take it for granted and undervalue his work because he's not out there getting his hands dirty like the rest of them.
Dueling Hackers: Hardison got into one of these in "The Two Live Crew Job". Bonus points for the fact that the antagonist is played by Wil Wheaton.
Dumb Muscle: Although he's often willing to let other people assume this about him (because it's to his advantage), Eliot Spencer subverts this trope. He knows fashion, plays chess, cooks like a master chef, and can think on his feet in bad situations. This is lampshaded in "The Zanzibar Marketplace Job" when Elliot assumes control of the team when Nate is kidnapped and is able to figure out plenty of details from the proof of life video sent to them.
Maggie: You know, people underestimate you, Eliot. Nate: That's kind of the point.
Eliot also parodies this trope in "The Three Days of the Hunter Job", when Hardison is stuck in the field and he has to look info up.
The "http" goes before the "www dot", right?
He then proceeds to point out to Hardison that now he knows how it feels to have Mission Control sitting behind a keyboard making jokes.
Rampone in "The French Connection Job."
DVD Commentary: The entire series is on DVD, and every episode has commentary by the show's crew. A few episodes feature actor commentary as well.
Nate was an honest man before the insurance company he worked for as an investigator rejected the policy on his son's health coverage, causing him to die. As a result of this, he gets divorced, becomes The Alcoholic, and turns to a life of Robin Hooding.
No one actually knows who Sophie really is, as she is a grifter who is constantly living in new identities. She has a lot of angst about it in Season 2.
As the only member of the team to have physically hurt people in the past, Eliot is The Atoner. It's heavily implied he did something he considers unforgivable for Moreau, possibly killing children. Word of God has it that Eliot is a man who has "accepted that he is damned."
Parker grew up on in the foster system with a series of terrible foster parents — one of whom she may have blown up after they stole her favorite toy. She had a brother who died at a young age in when he was hit by a car while on his bike — she taught him to ride. She was driving getaway cars when she was 10. After being caught for car theft when she was 12, she was thrown into juvenile detention. She trained under the greatest thief in the world as a teenager who kept her away from his real family because he thought she wouldn't fit in. To top it off, Word of God indicates that she also has Asperger Syndrome, meaning that she never really fits in in social situations.
Hardison is the only member of the main cast that seems to be relatively normal as the Playful Hacker. He grew up in the foster system, but unlike Parker was in a stable situation with Nana. He lampshades the difference in their backgrounds in one episode.