Gus McClain: I didn't kill my wife
Booth Hubbard: But I did
Gus McClain: I never knew I had a brother
Booth Hubbard: I couldn't live your life. So I arranged for you to live mine
—-> From the show's introduction
Gus McClain, a college professor who teaches literature and English has the perfect life, a loving wife and loyal friends who trust and believe in him. Unfortunately, all of that is ripped away when Gus's wife, Sarah is brutally slain and the evidence points straight to him. When the evidence that the police have is circumstantial, and he is released, later FBI Agent Carter has him arrested again. It appears that a lot of people have been killed all over the country including, Carter's partner. Gus maintains his innocence and as he is being transported to a federal jail. On the way there, his prison van is hijacked and he is knocked out by a man who looks exactly like him. Turns out that the man who helped Gus is his evil twin brother
, Booth Hubbard. When they were babies, Gus and Booth's original parents had died in an accident and Booth was taken in by a kind mother, but had an abusive husband who would beat Booth constantly. Booth learns the truth about Gus living the good life and his intentions were to take control of Gus's life. Unfortunately because of the beatings he received, Booth now has cerebral damage that could claim his life at any time. With not very long to live, Booth decides to let Gus live the other brother's life: the life of a wanted fugitive. Enraged, Gus vows that he will find Booth, avenge Sarah, and clear his name. Now, Gus wandering from town to town in search of clues that will lead him to Booth or that will prove his innocence. But Gus doesn't have much to go by and everywhere he turns he has to dodge the Feds and other law enforcement officials. Along the way, Gus will encounter many characters in need of his assistance and he must find a way to help the victims, without blowing his own cover.
The show aired for one season on the UPN network.
Provides Examples Of:
- Acting for Two: Every episode that has both brothers, which is almost all of them. A very effective example too, with Michael Easton delivering dueling performances far above the quality of the show's other actors.
- Bounty Hunter: Clear Sky.
- California Doubling: The Vancouver variety. Justified in that Booth's stomping grounds are in the Pacific Northwest, and Gus is trying to stay on Booth's trail.
- Clear My Name: The show's MacGuffin.
- Disposable Woman: Sarah McClain
- Dreaming of Things to Come: In the pilot, Gus dreams of an evil twin breaking into his house before discovering the truth about Booth. In the third episode, Clear Sky has a prophetic dream that tells Gus will save his daughter from some danger. Possibly also a Prophetic Fallacy given that Gus going to save the daughter and having the police follow him is what puts the daughter in danger in the first place.
- The Drifter: Gus and Booth.
- Evil Twin: Booth Hubbard, of course.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Obviously, if Gus can prove Booth's existence to the authorities, the show is more or less over. Because the show only lasted one season and had no conclusion, this trope is enforced in perpetuity.
- Frameup: Booth does an okay job framing Gus for his wife's murder, but probably not well enough to get him convicted. So Booth gets revenge-blinded Agent Carter to blame him for every murder tied to Booth so far, including the murder of a federal agent, and then just to sell it, he frames Gus for a jailbreak.
- Going for the Big Scoop: Booth, posing as Gus, entices a journalist to write the story of "Gus's" guilt for fame. Gus offers another journalist an exclusive on his story if she will help to clear him in another episode.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: The evil variety: smoking is the one sure fire way to tell the evil twin apart from the good. In theory this should also provide decent evidence that Gus is innocent, were it not that his chief police antagonist suffers from Revenge Before Reason.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: One episode features a hunter in a rural pacific northwest town who favors this as his pray. However, Gus manages to beat him at his own game.
- Identification by Dental Records: Used in an episode in which Gus staged a ruse to convince others he was dead.
- If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: In one episode, Gus is arrested by Carter, but they are both captured by escaped convicts and Gus is only able to gain their confidence by confessing to Booth's murders.
- Incriminating Indifference: Subverted in "The Reckoning." Booth's indifference to a photo of a dying victim of his leads the victim's father to believe he's innocent, while Gus' emotional reaction leads him to believe Gus is guilty.
- Intrepid Reporter: Paula Muncy, Margo Reese, and Diana Polaski
- It's Personal: Both for Gus and for the FBI Agent pursuing him on the belief he is Booth.
- Jurisdiction Friction: Usually Between agent Carter and local police. Sometimes between agent Forbes and local police.
- MacGuffin: Bringing Booth into the authorities so that Gus can indisputably prove his innocence drives many of the show's stories.
- Mafia Princess: Martina Kostrov, though she presumably loses this status once her father discovers she has tried to murder her brother.
- The Mafiya: Gus befriends former KGB agent/Russian mafioso Anton Kostrov after saving his son, twice. Gus later enlists his help to catch Booth in another episode.
- Revenge: Booth's motive for framing Gus.
- Mood Whiplash: In almost every scene with one of the brothers, it's obvious to the audience which one is which. However, late in the series an episode ends with what was a typical closing shot in many episodes: Gus, along on some rural highway trying to thumb a ride as his Leitmotif plays. However, as the shot gets closer on Gus's face, the music darkens and we see cigarette smoke, and Booth turns to look straight at the camera with cigarette in his mouth and an evil smile. This may have been the final episode of the show as well, which makes it much more creepy
- Race Against the Clock: Booth is dying and Gus must prove he exists before then or the truth will die with him.
- Revenge Before Reason: Fridge Logic says this is why Agent Carter isn't able to figure out that it would have been almost impossible for Gus to lead his life as a professor and have a secret life as a country traveling serial killer.
- Revenge by Proxy: Booth killing Gus's wife counts as this.
- Separated at Birth: Where it all went wrong for Booth Hubbard.
- Sins Of Our Brothers: Besides being framed for every murder Booth's committed, Gus occasionally has to deal with living people Booth has wronged. One whole episode centers on this trope when one of Booth's victims' father accidentally captures both brothers (he didn't believe there really was a twin, but got lucky) with the intent of killing his daughter's killer. After being unable to determine which brother is which, he starts leaning towards killing them both, just to be sure. Then things get complicated...
- Start of Darkness: In one episode, Gus stumbles upon Booth's hometown, and meets up with Booth's high school girlfriend, who believes him to be Booth. The show spends time exploring Booth's troubled upbringing, and also reveals there's more of the evil twin in the good one than he'd like to admit.
- We Need to Get Proof: Gus must prove that Booth exists.
- Wrongly Accused: right behind Evil Twin as the show's main premise
- You See, I'm Dying: Booth; of an arterial aneurysm.