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Series: Alphas
Clockwise starting from top left: Cameron, Rosen, Rachel, Bill, Nina, Gary.

"There are six billion people on planet Earth, ordinary folks like you and me, but if you look around carefully, you might find that some of these 'ordinary folks' have extraordinary abilities. I call them Alphas. Some Alphas that I work with can do things that will amaze you. Others, the angry, the lost, and the afraid, have abilities that frankly can be terrifying."
Dr. Rosen, "Cause and Effect"

A SyFy series that premiered in Summer 2011 about a secret government team of people from various walks of life who have superhuman abilities and fight crime. Cancelled after the second season, the show ended on an unresolved cliffhanger.

The series opens when a witness is shot and killed in a locked courthouse interrogation room with no shooter in sight. On the case is Dr. Lee Rosen and his team of Alphas, people with superhuman abilities: Gary Bell, a young man with autism who can see WiFi and cellphone signals with his mind; Bill Harken, an ex-FBI agent who can temporarily use Super Strength; Nina Theroux, who can control other people's minds; and Rachel Pirzad, who can use one sense at heightened intensity while disabling the others. They find that the shooter behind the murder is Cameron Hicks, an ex-Marine marksman with impeccable aim, having managed to shoot the witness through an air duct. It turns out that Cameron is an Alpha, but that the whole ordeal was orchestrated by an Alpha called the Ghost, who mind-controlled Cameron and is part of something much bigger than they'd imagined.

Alphas is part of the "Syfy-verse": it exists in the same fictional universe as Eureka and Warehouse 13. In January 2013 Syfy announced its cancellation.

Not to be confused with Alpha House.

The series includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: Rosen. The first time he ever fires a gun he hits the villain in the head, oddly going through the cheek rather than a traditional forehead wound. However, he was aiming for the chest and they were standing just a few meters from each other.
  • Adorkable: Gary.
  • Adult Fear: One can only imagine what went through the mind of Gary's mother when she learned that her autistic son had been confined to a government holding facility in the season 2 premiere. Or, for that matter, what goes through her mind every day when he leaves the house to do a job that could potentially result in him being killed in any number of gruesome and horrifying ways.
  • Affably Evil: Stanton Parrish. Rosen even calls him out on it.
  • The Ageless: Stanton Parrish, leader of Red Flag, has this, with the common secondary power of Good Thing You Can Heal. He describes his mind and body as being in perfect harmony.
  • Aliens Made Them Do It: Cameron and Nina in "A Short Time in Paradise".
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Eric, the goofy Alpha who used his passive and mostly harmless ability to cheat at poker, gets sent to the same concentration camp/human experimentation facility as the various dangerous sociopaths who used their powers to go on rampaging killing sprees. There is a special building for the really dangerous Alphas, but it's still somewhat overkill.
    • Even more so in the season 2 premiere when it's revealed that one of the prisoners in Building Seven (maximum security for Alphas, so to speak) is Gary, who was sent there simply because he hit a person who accidentally touched him when he was working for the NSA.
  • Ambiguously Jewish:
    • Lee Rosen. This would presumably qualify his daughter Danielle for this trope as well, although, since we know almost nothing about her mother, she is more ambiguous.
    • Rachel: Her family is originally Persian, but seems more likely to be Jewish than Muslim.
  • Amplifier Artifact: A line of photic stimulators manufactured by a company owned by Stanton Parrish causes this, dialing up the abilities of any Alpha exposed to the flashing light, while apparently killing every non-Alpha in the vicinity.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Red Flag is coming off as this. They don't have the uniforms but their superiority complex over normal people and not batting a eye to mass murder of normal people for their cause of their kind help.
    • Rather interestingly, The USA Government itself often comes off as this in other ways: Heavy prejudice against those who are different, dealing with the aforementioned "different" people with incarceration or death sentences, militarism and so forth. Building Seven also comes off as something of a Concentration Camp in season 2.
  • Apocalypse How: Stanton Parrish, having predicted that overpopulation would cause humanity to outstrip Earth's ability to support them in forty years or so, plans to cause a Class 1 to prevent it.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Wilson in "Anger Management". Under the influence of a Hate Plague, one of his men beats him to death with a chair. Though even Rosen stated he didn't deserve to die like that.
    • In "Never Let Me Go", a bully who drove another student to suicide and the adults who covered it up are killed by the student's mother.
  • Anti-Villain: Anna definitely, Kerns to a lesser extent. A significant portion of Red Flag is made up of Alphas that merely want to protect themselves from government repression and/or create more Alphas (admittedly, by intentionally causing birth defects in unborn children.) Unfortunately, Stanton Parrish is able to manipulate the government into killing off that particular faction.
  • Arrow Cam: Hicks frequently gets Bullet Cam moments, given his Improbable Aiming Skills.
  • Artistic License: DOT numbers don't work remotely close to the way they're shown in Rosetta.
  • As the Good Book Says: Jonas from "A Short Time in Paradise".
  • As You Know: In "Original Sin", Rosen explains in great detail what Alphas are, everything he knows about Red Flag, and the government's immoral actions against even harmless Alphas, to selected members of Congress and Federal agents, all of whom know all this information. Of course,he's not only speaking to them, but also revealing all this information to the general public as well via a secret satellite feed.
  • The Atoner:
    • Nina. She's working with Rosen to make up for what she did when she used her powers for whatever she wanted, culminating in her accidentally telling her boyfriend to kill himself. The second season also reveals that she started using her ability to keep her father from leaving her and her mother, something that eventually drove him to commit suicide
    • To a lesser extent, Hicks, due to his former alcoholism which strained his relationship with his ex-wife and son.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis:
    • Marcus in "Cause & Effect" has an extreme version of this. He can map, in real time, every single action and possible reaction of everything around him. Not only does this allow him to pull off Disaster Dominoes-type situations intentionally, but makes him extremely paranoid since he thinks everyone else can do this, too, so everything bad that happens to him is, in his mind, an elaborate plot against him.
    • Hicks can apparently do the same thing backwards; taking the aftermath of an event and working out how the chain of causation made it occur by tracking each effect backwards through time.
    • Kat can learn any new physical or mental ability through observation, but her brain pushes out any memories older than a month to make room for the new techniques.
    • Skylar's Gadgeteer Genius ability works this way: she forms holographic images of the object in question in her head and can rapidly disassemble and reassemble them, letting her rapidly piece together how the object works and how to assemble it into what she wants.
  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: Stanton Parrish.
  • Badass Normal: Clay counts (although he's a bit of a Jerk Ass too).
  • Badass Beard: Rosen had a pretty impressive beard in the pilot, but for some reason he's shaved it off by the second episode.
    • The beard is back in the season 2 premiere, after Rosen's been institutionalized for a while. So far, he's been keeping it. But that's subject to change.
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: Subverted with the team who have powers that aren't exactly nice. Nina has been stated to have once used her powers for selfish reasons (it doesn't help that her introduction has her making a cop who pulls her over for speeding eat the ticket she was supposed to be given). Hicks killed a federal witness but he was Brainwashed and Crazy at the time. And Gary is a walking invasion of privacy. Most of the villains have had either severe mental issues or Well-Intentioned Extremist characteristics.
    • Discussed in the season two opener (albeit as a stalling tactic) by the leader of some rioting prisoners. Scipio's power is to burn things by touching them, and he asks how this can be anything other than a mistake. Rosen bluntly tells him that the mistake isn't with his powers, but his choices.
  • Battle In The Center Of The Hive Mind: In "Gods and Monsters", Dr. Rosen and Stanton Parrish confront one another inside a mental world shared by Jason and all of those connected to him.
  • Bee Bee Gun: The Alpha community leader in "Alphaville" has the ability to control bees, though he doesn't turn it on anyone.
  • Beneath Notice: In the episode "Rosetta", the team encounters a woman unresponsive to communication during a raid on a Red Flag safe-house who has the power to understand and translate all languages she hears, instantly, and figure that the terrorists have been exploiting the woman to encode and decode their secret messages. The woman volunteers to assist them in catching the Red Flag operatives and seems to be helping, until Gary notices she's been intentionally mistranslating the encoded messages by just enough to make it look like she was making minor mistakes. Turns out she wasn't being exploited by Red Flag... she was the leader of this particular cell and no one considered she was anything but a victim because of her mental disability.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: After finding Anna dead in the season 1 finale, Gary completely loses it and proceeds to furiously whale upon a SWAT team member with his own baton. In the season two premiere, after getting transferred to the NSA, their unwillingness to accommodate him results in him seriously injuring two co-workers during a freak-out.
  • Black Bra And Panties: Nina's got the black bra part at least, as seen when she and Hicks were making out.
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: Season 2 adds this to Hicks's Improbable Aiming Skills; he can do this to a very small box knife (held by an Alpha with Super Speed, no less), and can hit a pistol while jumping down from another floor.
  • Blessed with Suck: Alpha abilities always have a downside, but some are worse than others.
    • For the main team, Gary's transduction is connected with his autism, Bill's control over his "fight-or-flight" reflex causes physical wear on his body as well as anger issues, Rachel's Super Senses kick in automatically when she focuses on anything, and Kat's ability to instantaneously learn new skills causes her mind to essentially reboot every month.
    • Jason Miller uses infrasound to control the minds of others. Those he isn't controlling, however, find him unsettling, if not outright repulsive, because infrasound causes negative feelings in those exposed to it. Jason is thus a social outcast until he realizes what his power can really do. For a while, he likes being able to control anyone he touches, but then begins to find it unsettling when it becomes clear he's turned these people into essentially mindless zombies; particularly when he can't make them want to do something. Things get worse when it becomes clear that his ability gives people brain damage that will eventually kill them, and even worse when Stanton Parrish asks to be made a part of the group and steals all of Jason's "friends" from him.
    • Agnes Walker, a telepath in Parrish's employ, can read minds through skin contact. Unfortunately, she can't turn it off and causes horrible pain to the subject when she does it.
  • Big Bad: Red Flag, the Evil Counterpart to Rosen's Alpha team.
    • Specifically, their leader Stanton Parrish.
  • Body Horror:
    • A minor example compared to most, but Ghost's palms look like a giant mass of callouses. This is evidently a component of his mind control powers.
    • The way the victims in "Never Let Me Go" die is very unpleasant.
    • The Morphogene has to rearrange his bone structure in order to utilize his Master of Disguise powers, and when he gets stressed, his skin starts sagging off and he suffers excruciating pain. This is used to his advantage when he deliberately uses a back cramp to get out of the communal cell he (disguised as Rosen) had been thrown in.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: Hicks with his amazing hand-eye coordination trained as a military sniper. Played literally with Kat teaching Bill how to better use his powers.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Ghost's power.
  • Broken Masquerade: Rosen outs the existence of Alphas in the season 1 finale to spite Parrish, whose plans hinge on Alphas being a secret, and to stop the government from sticking Alphas into secret jails and forcibly recruiting them to use their powers. Unfortunately, season 2 shows that, by and large, he failed miserably. The government discredited him as insane and while there are increased rumors about Alphas, people who spread them are generally treated as crazy.
    • And as of "Alphaville", it is shown this didn't appear to cause as much good as Rosen hoped it would.
  • Brought Down to Normal: After the events of "A Short Time in Paradise", Jonas's ability shuts off Bill's Super Strength, apparently indefinitely. Rosen has to jump-start it with a drug injection, though even this doesn't work by itself.
  • Captain Obvious: Gary tends to slip into this owing to his condition and unswerving bluntness.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Gary, but he says he is trying to learn to as a social skill. Still mostly true as, more often than not, he immediately follows up the lie by loudly stating that it was a lie, thus defeating the purpose.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: Rachel, see Power Perversion Potential below. She has had sex before, but only after getting really drunk to numb herself to the point that it didn't overwhelm her heightened senses. She manages to overcome it with John, however...
  • Can't Stop The Signal: In the season 1 finale, Rosen broadcasts his Congressional committee testimony to basically every screen that can receive a signal, outing not only the existence of Alphas but the government's harsh treatment of them. He's eventually cut off when security hauls him away, but the damage is done.
  • Cardboard Prison: Stanton Parrish spends all of five minutes in a prison cell in "Gods and Monsters" before he manipulates the guards into thinking he's killed himself and escapes when they come in to check his body, despite having been specifically ordered to never open the door, no matter what.
  • Car Fu: Kat gets in on the action in "If Memory Serves". With a Mack truck.
  • The Cassandra: Marcus from "Cause & Effect", who predicts Rosen will "kick over the chessboard" by revealing the existence of Alphas.
  • Charm Person:
    • Nina's power.
    • The Alpha in "Never Let Me Go" is a variation of this. Her Alpha ability is maternal bonding taken to a deadly extreme. The people she touches come to love, trust, and confide in her. Moreover, they become addicted to her company and will act out of character for her approval. Hence, breaking this bond causes the target to suffer lethal withdrawal symptoms.
    • Jonas in "A Short Time In Paradise" has another variant. By activating the pineal gland in others, he's able to give them an artificial religious experience, but spending too long in this state is deadly for them. If the coma doesn't kill them, their pyromaniac tendencies eventually will.
    • Kimi Milard in season 2 has nearly the same power as Nina, except she apparently needs to whisper it instead of eye contact.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • The Ghost from the pilot episode.
    • Marcus Ayers in "Cause & Effect".
    • Also Stanton Parrish. He's already thrown out a pretty interesting, far-seeing Batman Gambit and has only had about six seconds of screen-time. This is also a literal theme introduced in "Cause and Effect", with the alpha-of-the-week identifying Rosen as the Black King, which one assumes makes Parrish the White King. The alpha's admonition to "take control of the board" is fulfilled by Rosen outing the Alphas, severely disrupting both the Government's and Parish's plans.
  • Clock King: The Ghost, who made a man kill himself for being 4 minutes late.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Gary appears to be out of touch with what goes on around him, but that's partly due to his ability to visualize electromagnetic signals (like Internet video feeds and phone texts/calls) combined with the sheer amount of wireless communications the modern world has.
    • Mitchell is even more of a Cloudcuckoolander, as his Alpha ability (being able to remember the memories of the people around him) means that he's constantly remembering and talking about things that have no bearing on what's happening at the present moment, and in one of his more lucid moments he tells Kat he has no concept as to which memories are actually his own.
  • Coconut Superpowers: Pretty much all the main cast. Occasionally averted with something a bit more expensive (most notably in each character's spotlight episode) but usually portrayed in this fashion.
    • Bill's is usually little more than stock footage of blood vessels headed for his rapidly-pulsing kidney, implying his overproducing adrenaline.
    • Nina's is a close-up of her face with a mild audio filter, usually paired with a close-up of the victim mindlessly answering her.
    • Rachel's is usually a close-up of the appropriate receptacle for whichever sense she's boosting.
    • Hicks's usually has the camera focus on whatever object he's manipulating with his ability, often in slow-motion.
    • Gary's is the most frequently averted, but still frequently turns into the actor walking around waving his fingers in the air.
    • Rosen's trip into the world of Jason Miller's Hive Mind could be considered a semi-aversion: At first, it's just Rosen, Parrish, and the various members of the Hive Mind standing around in a school gym, with some special lighting tricks in play. However, once Rosen convinces Jason to release them, they all disappear in wisps of smoke, which presumably dipped a little more into the special effects budget.
  • Compelling Voice: Nina's ability. Notably, it doesn't work on everyone: Gary is immune to it, for instance, because his autism makes his mind too inflexible. She also needs direct eye contact and the subject has to be able to hear her clearly. Sunglasses and earbuds will block it, and anyone blind or deaf is immune because they lack the faculties for it to work.
    • Kimi Milard is this too except her ability seems to be limited to whispering into the victim's ear. That just makes the character more creepy though.
  • Con Man: How Eric Letrobe from "The Unusual Suspects" used his ability before being sent to Binghamton.
  • Conspicuous CG: "Alphaville" - between the Skylar-vision diagram of the computer's innards, and the swarm of bees that converge on Gary...it's easy to see why the show relies so much on Coconut Superpowers.
    • The opening scene of "Falling" makes some particularly Egregious use of this to show the partygoers jumping from the roof...
  • Conspicuous Gloves: In one episode, the villain wore a glove to conceal his deformed hand, which could upon contact control minds.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: It's preeeeetty obvious who the bad guy is in the pilot.
  • Cool Old Guy: Lee Rosen.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: In a somewhat more realistic example, Rosen's Alphas are given badges identifying them as DCIS (Defense Criminal Investigative Services) so they won't have to rely solely on Nina talking her way into every crime scene.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Skylar is ready for anything. And in case she's not, she can whip up a suitable device with whatever's lying around in minutes.
  • Crossover: Lindsay Wagner's Warehouse13 character Dr. Vanessa Calder appears in "Never Let Me Go" bringing this show into the same universe as that and Eureka.
  • Cruel Mercy: In the season 2 finale, Rosen suggests letting Stanton live with the pain forever rather than kill him to Hicks.
  • Cut Short: Season 2 ended on a cliffhanger with the fate of Dr. Rosen and the future of the Alphas affected by Stanton Parrish's endgame unresolved. Sadly, Syfy decided to cancel the show a few months after the finale.
  • Darker and Edgier: Than Warehouse 13 and Eureka, which share its universe. While the others have sympathetic villains, this show has outright Gray and Grey Morality.
  • Data Crystal
  • Dating Catwoman: In a way. It is revealed that Gary is still in contact with Anna, however he assures that what they talk about has nothing to do with business. Even though Gary insists they're just friends, it's pretty clear the two have feelings for each other especially evident from Gary's Roaring Rampage of Revenge at Anna's death.
    • In the episode "The Quick and the Dead," it is revealed that Hicks has been seeing Danni Rosen. Danni gathers up her courage to tell Stanton Parrish and he is completely okay with it and merely says, "Be careful."
  • Deconstruction: The show in general is a deconstruction of humans having superpowers. Remember: "All alpha abilities come with a downside." Also, one of the show's taglines: "Their abilities make them super. Their actions make them human."
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: Stanton Parrish does this to escape containment, stabbing himself in the throat so the guards will open the door, at which point he overpowers them upon reviving.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Stanton Parrish, despite being terrifyingly powerful, intelligent, patient, immortal, and incredibly old, is totally blind-sided by Rosen's Masquerade-breaking game changer in the season 1 finale. This is even rubbed in a bit by Rosen's daughter, who mentioned that she tried to warn Parrish not to underestimate her father.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Kat defeats the Caretaker in "If Memory Serves" by hitting him with a truck, pinning him to Hicks' rental car (the Caretaker had taken Hicks as a hostage) before pushing both him and the car into a lake (so the Caretaker will drown). Only after the fact does it occur to her that Hicks might be locked in the trunk.
  • Disability Immunity:
    • Gary's autism makes him immune to a wide variety of mental powers. Nina's pushes don't affect him because his mind is too rigid, Eric (a Living Lie Detector who reads body language) can't do so with Gary since he moves erratically, and an Alpha who manipulates minds through infrasound (unintentionally) could only cause Gary to hallucinate someone helpful instead of driving him to kill himself. He's also immune to the photic stimulator in the season 2 finale, probably due to his vision ranging beyond the visual spectrum.
    • In "Blind Spot", Kerns' blindness renders him immune to Nina's pushes, since she needs eye contact, and Griffin's semi-invisibility, because he sees through echolocation.
  • Disability Superpower: Kerns in "Blind Spot" is blind, due to having no optic nerves, but his sonar sense largely makes up for it and also allows him to perceive things the sighted can't such as Griffin.
  • Disappeared Dad: The father of Skyler's daughter Zoe is never mentioned, nor his absence explained.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Marcus Ayers can induce these.
  • Disney Death: Marcus Ayers in "Cause & Effect". The characters are smart enough to realize they Never Found the Body. The shot of his bent coin under the water supports this conclusion as well.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • The Ghost subjects his henchman to Psychic-Assisted Suicide for being four minutes late.
    • In season 2, Gary is sent to Building 7 when his transfer to the NSA results in him freaking out and injuring two people. The people who sent him seem flatly unwilling to recognize that it was their own refusal to ignore the guidelines for interacting with him that caused the incident (Clay even points this out), and, were it not for the timely prison break, probably would have fought against his release every step of the way.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: In "A Short Time in Paradise", Rosen claims never to have fired or needed a gun, so of course he is forced to use one by episode's end.
  • Downer Ending: The season 2 finale. The team is unable to stop Parrish's photic stimulators from going off, and presumably every non-Alpha in the station is killed, Rosen included. Everyone else is knocked out... except Gary, who is the only person still conscious and has to walk among all the dead/unconscious people.
  • Dreaming of Times Gone By/Dreaming of Things to Come: In "Gods & Monsters", Rosen gets connected to Parrish's mind through Jason Miller, allowing him to see Parrish's memories and plans.
    • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Among others, the images briefly seen from Parrish are Skylar's face, designs for a grenade, a mailbox with a clear, full address in Rhinebeck, New York, a clock face that reads about 8:18 and, the first to be noticed, a painting revealed by the end of the episode to have been painted by Rosen's daughter.
  • Driven to Suicide: A kid in "Never Let Me Go" committed suicide after persistent bullying. His death is what kicks off the plot.
    • Nina tries this in "When Push Comes To Shove" after she realizes she's gone mad with power and doesn't want to hurt any more people. Cameron saves her in the nick of time.
  • Drives Like Crazy:
    • Gary, once Bill actually lets him drive. It's only a few seconds, but Bill's pressed up against his seat begging for the brakes.
    • A minor example occurs with Rosen. When trying to convince his mother that it would be better for him to live at the office, Gary mentions that people die in car accidents, then adds that Rosen often forgets to signal. Rosen just smiles sheepishly.
  • Dynamic Entry: "Bill and Gary's Excellent Adventure". Bill deals with one of the kidnappers by smashing through the wall.
  • Dysfunction Junction: It's to be expected when the only common thread in a group of individuals is the fact that they're all Alphas. Rosen being a psychiatrist helps smooth things over somewhat.
  • The Empath:
    • Rachel as a consequence of her Super Senses: She can smell the chemical signatures associated with different emotions, as demonstrated in "Never Let Me Go."
    • Eric Letrobe in "The Unusual Suspects" is also a variation with his ability to read people's emotions by their micro expressions.
    • Rosen's daughter Danielle is an inversion: Rather than feeling the emotions of others, she can force any emotion of any magnitude on other people through touch. Rosen himself describes her ability as "empathic contagion".
  • Enemy Scan: An Alpha in season 2 has the power to identify the weak spots in anything, people included.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Used intentionally during the season 1 finale, Rosen appears before a Senate subcommittee, who are ready to give him more guns and prisons to hide the Alpha phenomenon. He responds that secrecy is not the answer, making a plea for transparency and unity between Alphas and normal people. As he's doing this, he uses a video pen and Gary's signal control power to transmit the proceedings to the entire Eastern seaboard, appearing on every TV screen.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: Rachel triggers this by accident in "Alphaville," after activating one of the devices Skylar was tinkering with. This is the first time she's been shown having seizures, but given her Super Senses it's well-justified.
    • Trust Gary to make an unfunny about it: "You look like one of the faces on my expressions chart. Joyless."
    • The device turns out to be a Chekhov's Gun, playing a very significant role in Stanton Parrish's plans in the season 2 finale.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Subverted with Nina. She is first seen recklessly driving a car, that she "borrowed", and getting pulled over. She then uses her powers to get out of being given a ticket (by making the officer eat the ticket). She is, however, The Atoner and the Team Mom.
  • Evil Counterpart: Several, and the previews indicate there are more on the way.
    • The Ghost is similar to Nina, but able to completely control his victims, and for a longer period of time.
    • Similarly, Jonas can cause religious fervor in others, causing them to obey him unquestioningly.
    • Marcus is similar to Hicks, but his ability is much more exact and works almost like precognition.
    • Matthew in the third episode could be seen as Bill's counterpart. Whereas Bill triggers his own flight-or-fight response, Matthew sets it off in everyone around him.
    • Anna could be considered as Gary's, though their abilities are different. But the nature of their abilities means that both of them are very similar. Anna is a particularly strong example since rather than being an easily disposed Villain of the Week, she's apparently one of the four main leaders of Red Flag.
    • Kerns is kind of one for Rosen, as both are scientists trying to help Alphas. Kerns clearly thinks they both have the same overall goals.
    • Hicks gets a proper evil counterpart in the season finale. She has the exact same powers as he does, but is better at using them.
      Cameron: You're just like me.
      (the woman kicks him directly in the face, knocking Hicks out)
      Woman: I'm better.
    • Kimi Milard for Nina, even more so than the Ghost. Though unlike Nina, she does not appear to need eye contact. Instead, she needs her speaking mouth to be close to the victim's ear.
  • Exact Words:
    • In the pilot, Wilson swears on his mother's grave that he's told Rosen the whole truth, but of course he hasn't. Later, when Rosen finds out and calls him on it, Wilson replies "She was cremated."
    • Bill pulls one on Gary by telling him he would let him drive. When Gary tries to get the keys Bill tells him not until he gives Gary lessons.
  • Explaining Your Power to the Enemy: Gary explains how his power works to Anna. She turns around and uses this information to incapacitate him with a DDoS attack on a signal he was tuned in on. Justified by his autism and the fact that he believed her to be a friend at the time.
  • Expy: Stanton Perish seems to have a mixture of Wolverine's past with Vandal Savage's powers and personality.
  • Extreme Graphical Representation: Gary's abilities manifest this way (though only he can see it).
  • Eye Scream: "The Quick and the Dead" features the aftermath of a murder committed with a screwdriver to the eye. It is not pretty.
  • Faking the Dead: The Ghost brainwashes a bellhop into wearing one of his outfits and throwing himself off a rooftop, making it look like The Ghost committed suicide.
  • Fastball Special: Kat has Bill toss her in the season 2 finale, though he's not so much tossing her at the enemy as past them, for a flanking maneuver.
  • Fight Clubbing: An episode in the second season revolves around an alpha fight club. Unusual Gray and Grey Morality example as although someone did get killed accidentally, all the participants are consenting, the fight club turns out not to be the real menace in the episode, and Bill ends up joining up.
  • Five-Man Band: Rosen's team.
  • Five-Bad Band: Red Flag has, of course, a similar theme:
  • Flat "What.": Nina to Hicks when she finds out that Hicks has begun seeing someone else after their break-up.
  • Follow the Leader: It has some similarities to The 4400.
    • Spiritual Successor: They're both by Ira Steven Behr (though Behr is stepping down as showrunner after season 1).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During the beginning of "A Short Time In Paradise", Rosen states he's never shot anyone before. Take a wild guess at what he has to do before the episode is over.
    • In the second episode, Marcus tells Rosen that he's the only one who can prevent the coming human/Alpha war, by "knocking over the board". In the season finale, Rosen goes public about the Alpha situation, something neither Red Flag nor the government wanted.
    • In "When Push Comes To Shove", the song "Tainted Love" is playing in the nightclub when Rachel and Hicks go to confront Nina, hinting at the reveal that Nina's "relationship" with her new boyfriend is no more than the result of Nina using her ability on him.
  • Freudian Slip: Stanton Parrish was believed dead until the first season finale. He's exposed (both as alive and immortal) when Anna, in a conversation with Gary, accidentally refers to him in the present-tense rather than the past. She clams up upon her mistake, but that one slip was all Gary needed to find the truth.
  • From a Certain Point of View: Jessica in "Never Let Me Go" did poison her victims, technically.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Skylar. She can build a stun device capable of dropping an entire building of armed agents with ten minutes and office equipment.
  • Gainax Ending: In the finale of the second season, everyone apparently dies, except Gary. Granted, the show WAS cancelled, so they likely planned on explaining that in the next season.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: The Alpha in "A Short Time in Paradise" has the power to induce extreme serenity in whoever is looking upon him. As the title suggests, this effect is short-lived, as the overstimulation causes people to fall into a coma.
  • Girl Next Door: Rachel comes off as this, especially as compared to the more glamorous Nina.
  • Go Karting with Bowser: Dr. Rosen sits down in a bar and a man enters the bar, taking a seat next to the good doctor. Who else would it be but Stanton Parrish? They then have a casual conversation about his origins even though Rosen is visibly terrified when Parrish first shows his face.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: John Bennett, in "Falling," suddenly speaks Farsi to Rachel to reassure her that he will not flub up his first meeting with her parents.
    • Occasionally in Season 1, Rachel would get into arguments with her parents on the phone, and she would lapse into Farsi (without subtitles, but her tone of voice speaks for itself.)
  • Gray and Grey Morality
  • Guns Akimbo: Hicks is able to pull this off in the fourth episode thanks to his ability.
  • Hates Being Touched: Gary, due to his autism. He will only allow people he both trusts and likes to touch him, starting with his mom, Dr. Rosen, Nina and Rachel. Eventually he gets to like and trust Cameron and Bill enough to allow them to touch him as well, and he also allows Anna to touch him after they become friends.
  • Healing Factor:
    • Part of Stanton Parrish's immortality, to the point he can heal headshots.
    • The Caretaker in "If Memory Serves" can repair broken bones, so long as he has enough calcium in his system.
  • The Hero Dies: While not confirmed, there's only one of two things the Season 2 finale can result in- either Rosen is suddenly revealed to be an Alpha, or he's really, truly dead.
  • Heroic BSOD:
    • Rosen gets one in "A Short Time in Paradise" after he shoots the Alpha Jonah through the face and kills him, even when flames were threatening to kill him. Considering Rosen's nature and his feelings on guns, and how much he generally cares for the well-being of Alphas, this is very understandable.
    • Gary has one in the season 1 finale when he finds Anna dead during the raid on Red Flag, causing him to beat the crap out of a SWAT team member with his own nightstick.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: For all his attempts to help Alphas, Rosen sure didn't do himself any favors by revealing their existence to the world, thus ruining the lives of a great many of them.
  • Hive Mind: Jason Miller's ability evolves into this following his release from the hospital in "Gaslight". Everyone he touches becomes an extension of his will, but they eventually die from brain trauma as their minds continually try and fail to reassert control. Then Parrish nearly takes it over after tricking Jason into connecting him, a failsafe he built in case Jason couldn't be trusted to do what he wanted.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Bill and his wife.
  • Hypocrite: Red Flag in spades. Their stated aim is Alpha protection, but they don't hesitate to target other Alphas that get in the way of that goal, including children.
    • And in "Need To Know", we see that despite Stanton's preaching of freedom for Alphas, doesn't stop him from kidnapping, doping her, and forcing an Alpha against her will to work for him. Or restoring his memories into an Alpha, who because of them in the first place, barely knew his own identity.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Gary states the reason he doesn't like horses is because they look confused.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Jason Miller in "Gods and Monsters". Having a power which causes people to be repulsed by you unless under its effect (and thus mindless slaves) tends to have that effect.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Part of Cameron's power. He successfully fired a bullet through an air vent from the roof of a neighboring building, and hit the (unseen) target by ricocheting the bullet off the air duct's metal covering. He also pitched back-to-back perfect baseball games in the minor leagues, and threw two coins into a vending machine slot from 15 feet away. Also in the pilot, he was able to bounce a bullet off a restaurant sign into the villain's back so as to not risk hitting his hostage. In season two he has enough control to Shoot the Bullet.
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Hicks' Evil Counterpart demonstrates this, since she has the same powers as he does. She deflects all of Hicks' bullets with a couple of combat knives, though they were eventually knocked right out of her hands from the force. Still got her in close enough to disarm Hicks.
  • Improvised Weapon: Thanks to Hicks' Improbable Aiming Skills, he can turn a number of objects into effective throwing weapons. Skylar can also assemble potent gadgets from household objects.
  • Irony: The Alpha that had the ability to move without making any noise is shot in the foot.
  • I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Marcus, hence his paranoid belief that There Are No Coincidences.
  • Jerk Ass: Clay, and he's supposedly one of the good guys.
    • He softens up A LOT in the second season.
    • Gary in the second episode of Season 2 specifically refers to the DOD agents now working with the Alpha Team as "Jerkasses".
  • Kill It with Fire: Jonas in "A Short Time in Paradise" does this to those who inevitably fall victim to his power, refusing to recognize that his own power is the cause. Eventually comes to a head when the Feds are about to knock down his door, and he decides it's time for everyone to burn.
  • LEGO Genetics: The invincibility drug Jump, in under a minute, can alter a person's entire cellular structure to grant them inhuman durability, and eventually wears off. This is further complicated by the fact that the main ingredient of the drug is the blood of another Alpha.
  • Le Parkour: A consequence of Hicks' hyperkinetic talent. Perfect proprioception tends to let one perform impressive feats of agility.
  • Lethal Harmless Powers: Anna in the fourth episode has the power of omni-lingualism, which you'd think would be the most harmless power possible. Turns out she can use it to remotely control computers with sonic impulses and send communications nation-wide. Oh, and she's apparently one of the four leaders of Red Flag and the organization's Mission Control.
  • Literal-Minded: Gary tends toward this. He understands the concept of metaphors, sarcasm, etc., but he doesn't always get it.
    Bill: Who's manning the fort?
    Gary: It's not a fort Bill; it's a bad metaphor. Forts have ramparts and cannons.
  • Literal Surveillance Bug: One of Skylar's gadgets.
  • Living Lie Detector: Eric Letrobe, due to his microexpression-reading ability. Naturally, his reliance on nonverbal signals means he can't read Gary due to the latter's autism.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: An Alpha in "Need to Know" has the power to control the dreams of those he touches, though it appears he needs to keep his subjects drugged to prevent them from simply waking up.
  • Loud of War: Bill and Hicks discuss this trope when dealing with an Alpha whose power is echolocation. Hicks, a former Marine, points out that he's seen this done before, and that whatever they force the Alpha to listen to will be just as audible to them.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout:
    • Kerns has an inaudible version of this. He has the ability to project sound waves that can vibrate objects apart and throw people across a room.
    • An Alpha criminal in season 2 plays it straight, using a store PA to broadcast and ear-splitting screech that disables everyone but himself and his accomplices.
    • A victim of the photic stimulator in the season 2 finale discovers that he has this ability, but is very unsettled by it.
  • Mama Bear/Papa Wolf: The Alpha baby in "Life After Death" essentially has this as a power. The baby increases the production of vasopressin, the chemical responsible for familial bonds, causing anyone who holds the baby to be driven to protect him. This happens to Non-Action Guy Gary, so he doesn't do much direct defending, but the spirit is there.
  • Master of Disguise: The Alpha impersonating Rosen from "The Unusual Suspects".
  • The Mole:
    • During the episode "The Unusual Suspects", they think one of the team's members is a spy for Red Flag. They assume it's Hicks. At least that's what the real mole wanted people to think.
    • The ending of "Original Sin" reveals that Rosen's daughter is a Red Flag agent, which means all her actions in that episode were to advance Parish's agenda. Rosen finally discovers this in "Falling."
  • Master of Your Domain: Stanton Parrish as seen in the first season finale.
  • Mega Manning: Kat is an Alpha with the ability to memorize large amounts of information as well as any physical technique. She uses this to win big bucks at an Alpha fight club. However, she can't remember anything that happened more than a month ago.
  • Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Leans toward the hard end of the scale. Superpowers tend to at least be within the realm of possibility, and most have necessary drawbacks to make them work.
  • Moment Killer: Rachel walks in on Hicks and Nina making out on the couch. She immediately apologizes.
  • More Than Mind Control: Chris's mother through her Alpha Power.
  • Muggle Power/Theyd Cut You Up:
    • Marcus hints this may be the true agenda of Rosen's government masters. Time will tell.
    • This is cited as one of the reasons why Skylar is hiding her daughter from the government, especially because of her math skills that allow her to create encryption codes that baffle the best code-breaking machinery in the NSA's arsenal.
  • Mundane Utility: The team frequently uses their awesome powers for everyday tasks, whether it's moving a guy's car blocking a driveway, watching TV, or "borrowing" sweet rides and living rent-free.
  • My Beloved Smother: Gary's mom gets like this when she realizes just what sort of work Gary does for Rosen. Gary puts his foot down once he realizes that she's trying to keep him from being a secret agent, because he really likes the job.
  • My Greatest Failure: How Rosen feels about Marcus. And as of season 2, his greatest regret is now Dani's death in "The Devil Will Drag You Under".
  • Neat Freak: Rachel, as a consequence of her enhanced senses. It's rather hard to avoid when you know exactly how dirty everything really is. It even extends to her eating habits, since she can tell what's in every meal from the slightest taste.
  • Neurodiversity Is Supernatural: The central plot element. Well, that and re-creations of Nazi treatment of "defectives."
  • Never Found the Body: Marcus Ayers, which makes sense seeing as he never actually died. The bullet intended to kill him hit the coin he was keeping in his pocket and never made contact with his body. That's right, a small round quarter saved his life. It probably helped that he knew exactly where he would be shot.
  • Never My Fault: Jonas has the ability to activate the pineal gland in others, giving them an artificial religious experience at the cost of eventually causing them to go comatose and die. He sees his ability as divine in origin, and refuses to accept that using it is killing the very people he's trying to "save". He even brought Rosen in to cure those suffering and then rejected his treatment when it cured the religious experience along with the coma.
    • In "Gods and Monsters", with Dr. Rosen and Stanton Parrish working together (to an extent) to solve a problem with a teenage Alpha, Dr. Rosen brings up the massacre of Red Flag members from the season 1 finale, of which Parrish was responsible. Parrish responds that he intended for the Alphas to be apprehended, and says the only reason Alphas died was the fault of Rosen's team and their government allies, who shot at the Alphas. It does not cross Parrish's mind, or he makes sure to not mention it, that the Red Flag members would try to flee or resist arrest.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Original Sin", The Government raids a major meeting of Red Flag and kills everyone present, even those trying to surrender - and they nearly kill Bill and Gary because they have difficulty telling them from their targets. Big Bad Stanton Parrish then shows up at Rosen's house afterwards and thanks him for killing all the moderates who wanted alternatives to a Human/Alpha war. Red Flag now only consists of hardliners who are mourning the deaths of their less violent friends!
    • In "Alphaville", Dr. Rosen saves Skylar by using the photic stimulator on Scipio, knocking him down. Good job, Rosen. You've just made his fire starting abilities A LOT worse. And the resulting fire ended up destroying the homes of a group of neutral Alphas who just wanted to be left alone.
    • In "God's Eye", whilst trying to prevent a mass terrorist attack orchestrated by Stanton Parrish, Skylar suggests that they cut the power of the entire national grid. However, she states it won't work on New York, since they've installed dead-man switches that prevents the power supply being cut. Bill then sadly admits that this "safety feature" was because of the 9/11 attacks.
  • No Name Given: "The Ghost" from the Pilot, though the original "Section 8" Pilot indicates that his name was going to be "Morez"
  • No Sense of Personal Space:
    • Gary has a variation of this. He isn't all over people physically (and in fact hates to be touched), but with his ability to read electromagnetic signals, he can't seem to help reading their texts and listening in on their calls.
    • Bill seems to have the normal version of this. In the pilot it's mentioned that he has "boundary issues", and he seems to not really grasp the concept of "tact". Though after the first episode this has hardly been focused on.
  • No Social Skills: Gary, having autism, does not pick up on social cues. While not shy at all, he has to learn things (such as manners) by rote, and often behaves oddly as a result.
    Gary: I have to put my lunch in the refrigerator. And then I have to greet my co-workers appropriately.
  • Not So Different:
    • Rosen draws this comparison between Marcus and Hicks. Both have similar powers and similar issues with blame. The difference is that Hicks directs that blame inward, while Marcus blames those around him instead.
    • Kerns says this to Rosen, claiming that the two have the same ultimate goal (Alphas and unenhanced humans living in harmony).
    • Rosen notes this about himself and Stanton Parrish. Both have used people for their own ends, but Rosen's ultimate goal is to help people, whereas Parrish only wants to help himself.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: Subverted, albeit subtly. When Nina tries to jump to her death, Hicks manages to save her by grabbing a crane hook and her arm at the same time. Though they only fell about a story at most, Hicks has his arm in a sling in his next scene.
  • Not Wearing Tights
  • Number Two: Nina appears to be this to Rosen. He seems to confide in her often, and she seems the most loyal to him.
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: In "Original Sin", an attempt by government agents to arrest the leaders of Red Flag (an Alpha terrorist organization) gathered for a meeting quickly descends into chaos as some of the Alphas resist and the government agents open fire. They kill everyone they see, even those trying to surrender or hide. They shoot Bill (in his vest), failing to distinguish him from their targets after a demonstration of Super Strength. One agent nearly kills Gary when he has a tantrum over finding Anna's body - given that he weighs ninety pounds soaking wet and can barely lift the baton he was whaling on the agent with, it comes off very much like a Nazi about to stomp on a yapping chichuahua. The scene demonstrated how unprepared and heavy-handed the government is when dealing with Alphas and that the situation has reached the level of a war.
  • Oh, Crap: Rosen's reaction at the end of "Gods & Monsters", when he sees the same drawing that he saw in Parrish's mind sitting in Hicks' office and realizes that it must have been drawn by his daughter, who is dating Hicks. This clues him in that she is Parrish's mole.
  • One Person, One Power: Each Alpha has a single ability. Some are more versatile than others. While most of the powers shown in Alphas are unique, in "Original Sin" Hicks meets a woman with the same power who's better at using it, and some powers are related to others, like Hicks' Improbable Aiming Skills and Marcus' Awesomeness by Analysis. In season 2, Bill ends up going against someone with his same variety of Super Strength.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Occasionally Ryan Cartwright (Gary)'s English one slips through.
    • When the disguising Alpha impersonates him in "The Unusual Suspects", he speaks in a modified version of his natural English accent.
  • Perception Filter: An Alpha codenamed Griffin has the ability to hide in the blind spot of anyone attempting to look at her. She's also smart enough to mess up the building security system so she can't be tracked that way.
  • Personality Powers: Bill's the strong guy; he tends to be confrontational and gruff. Nina's Compelling Voice works best when she acts soothing and understanding. Hicks has super aiming skills he can't quite consistently control, and the "broken soldier" mentality to match. It's actually stated that every Alpha power has a related mental issue connected to it, so this is something of an Enforced Trope.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Hicks breaking a microwave cell tower that had been bothering Gary for most of the second and third episodes.
    • Bill giving Gary driving lessons, especially since he had lied outright about letting Gary drive earlier in the episode.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Kat, thanks to her alpha ability. One of her two Establishing Character Moments involves her KOing Bill in a straight up fight. To be fair to Bill, he was not expecting to fight her and wasn't trying to hurt her. But Unfortunate Implications are averted since it's made clear that she could have beaten him regardless.
  • Playing with Fire: Cornell Scipio has the ability to excrete some kind of substance which causes severe burns. Then he gets hit by an Amplifier Artifact and essentially starts throwing around napalm.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Parrish would have never escaped custody in "Gods and Monsters" had Rosen bothered to tell the guards that he's immortal.
  • Power at a Price: Inherent to all Alphas. Their atypical brains grant them superhuman abilities, but always have a downside.
    • Bill has Super Strength, but as it's dependent on the human fight/flight response, he has a hair-trigger temper. Notably, when he loses his powers, all his psychological issues appear to be instantly cured as well. Additionally, overusing it can send him into cardiac arrest.
    • Hicks has superhuman muscle memory, AKA Wire Fu in all its Bad Ass forms. But as it isn't tied to that response, stress causes him to become clumsy.
    • Rachel has Super Senses, but is prone to Sensory Overload - in all its forms. She's a Neat Freak because she can see bacteria, she Can't Have Sex, Ever, can't really enjoy food she hasn't fastidiously prepared herself due to contaminants...
    • Gary is a Technopath, but he's also The Rainman because sensing the entire EM spectrum isn't of much use without a brain fast and obsessive enough to process the information.
    • Nina has a Compelling Voice. She's addicted to using it, and without help is prone to accidental use and serious abuse of it and other people. Her father killed himself because she pushed him so often to stay and she may have been responsible for her boyfriend's suicide, as well. It's also suggested that the using it is detrimental to her health, but the show was cancelled before this could be explored.
    • The Ghost has severe obsessive-compulsive behavior.
    • Marcus Ayers had severe paranoia because he couldn't comprehend that most can't produce Rube Goldberg Devices at will... and figured it out just as his handlers decided to lobotomize him.
    • Anna is an Omniglot who can't speak without a specially designed machine. Doctors diagnosed her as a total deficient. She didn't like it. She leads Red Flag primarily to prove herself, along with all Alphas.
    • Skylar is said to care more about machines than socializing with people and appears to have a compulsion to disassemble/fiddle with electronics. Her anti-social tendencies are somewhat mitigated by the fact that she's a mother.
    • Eric in "The Unusual Suspects", with the ability to read micro-expressions, complains that it ruined his social life, which is why he became a con man. As he puts it, Ignorance Is Bliss in almost any social interaction. When the other party can't hide anything, it falls apart.
    • The Morphogene from the same episode as above has a pretty useful Master of Disguise power...except he doesn't possess Shapeshifter Baggage, has to study the subjects of his transformation carefully, and has to rearrange his internal biology in order to change. It's...unpleasant.
    • Kerns is a subversion—he's completely blind, but that's to make way for his echolocation, meaning he can tell perfectly well what he's "looking" at and as later revealed, he can enhance it into outright Make Me Wanna Shout; he can emit vibrations which can make the walls vibrate themselves apart.
    • Stanton Parrish, the show's apparent Big Bad, is immortal and describes himself as being "more than an Alpha" and having complete control over his mind and body.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The invincibility drug Jump is distilled from the blood of an Alpha with that ability.
  • The Power of Love:
    • A particularly sickening version in "Never Let Me Go". Chris' mother could release oxytocin (a chemical that creates a bond between loved ones) into a person through physical contact. It would cause an addiction in her victims, making them seek out her company in order to get their fix. Whenever she rejected a person and told them that she didn't love them, then the emotional and physical withdrawal symptoms would cause their body to overproduce the stress hormone cortisol, eventually killing them. On the other hand, Rachel was saved by Dr. Rosen telling her how much he and the rest of the team care for her, playing this trope straight.
  • Power Incontinence: Heavily discussed.
    • Bill and Nina had this problem before meeting Rosen. Bill was suspended from the FBI after he snapped at a coworker and threw him into a wall hard enough to break his clavicle. Nina thought she inadvertently pushed an old boyfriend to commit suicide.
    • It gets worse for Bill in "The Unusual Suspects" because the "kick-start" he received to get his ability working again in the previous episode causes it to activate outside his control. By the end of the episode, this takes a terrible toll on his health. Lucky for him, though, the resulting heart attack actually balanced him out.
    • Hicks has trouble with his power initially, lacking confidence in himself and subconsciously sabotaging his perfect aim.
  • Power Perversion Potential:
    • Rachel's super-sensitive sense of touch kicks in while getting intimate with a guy. An unintentional example, and actually backfires since it's too much for her to handle.
    • Danielle Rosen uses her emotion manipulation during sex with Hicks.
    • In "When Push Comes To Shove", Nina uses her power to make out with Rachel.
    • Jason Miller almost does this in "Gods and Monsters". To help demonstrate that he hasn't gone completely over the edge, he stops when he realizes the girl he's doing it to is just mindlessly obeying him, particularly when he finds out that he can't make the girl want to do what he says.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: While being held captive, Parrish tells the guards watching him (who have been ordered not to open the door under any circumstances) a story of his time in World War II, where a regiment under his command disobeyed orders to avoid a potato field (they were hungry, it was unguarded) and got themselves blown up by German landmines. He tells them the moral of the story is that a desperate person will do just about anything. He then stabs himself in the throat using a plastic cup as an improvised knife. The guards open the door, he resurrects, and subdues one while using his weapon to kill the other. Turning to the still-living one, he says, "That wasn't the lesson. The lesson is, 'Follow orders.'" *Neck Snap*
  • Pretty Little Headshots: No sign of any exit wounds when Hicks nails the federal witness, although it's worth noting that the bullet ricocheted and lost momentum before impact. Whether or not the witness died quickly or slowly was never explained.
  • Properly Paranoid: There are signs that Marcus' conspiracy theories are not just arbitrary attempts at finding order in the world around him.
  • The Purge: In "Original Sin", Parrish tricks the Alpha team and the DoD into killing or arresting all the members of Red Flag who wanted to Break the Masquerade without his approval. Rosen had actually deduced it before the DoD launched the attack, but they went ahead anyway because they didn't want that either.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide:
    • Done at least twice by the Ghost.
    • This is Kimi Milard's speciality, since she has a Compelling Voice similar to Nina. She did it to the warden at Building 7 (the gun wasn't loaded), a guard outside the building (successfully), and Hicks (Nina pushed him to forget the command).
    • Subverted with Nina because she thought she made an old boyfriend kill himself (she never actually meant for him to do so) AND she drove her own father to suicide (of his OWN will) after accidentally damaging him mentally with her power.
  • Psychic Powers: Naturally in a show that deals with more "realistic" superhuman abilities.
  • The Rainman: Gary, very much. Indeed, he is even called "Rain Man" in one episode... but he doesn't get the reference, since he's not allowed to watch that movie.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic:
    • Gary also demonstrates that a majority of people with High Functioning Autism nervously stammer and get tongue-tied when they are uncomfortable, despite being incredibly eloquent when speaking to people they trust, which is Truth in Television. He also demonstrates the flat inflection/affect common in autistic people.
    • The pilot made extensive use of realistic diction for all of the characters. The result is very disorienting and was dropped in the following episodes for more comprehensible speech. Rosen keeps the diction so that it can be contrasted with his "therapist voice".
  • Reality Ensues: After exposing the Alpha phenomenon to the world during the first series finale, the second series begins several months later, where a publicly discredited Dr. Rosen is now confined to a mental hospital.
  • Reality Retcon: The CIA's MK Ultra program in the 1960s was actually based on Alphas.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Stanton Parrish has been around since at least the Civil War.
  • Red Herring: Kat regains a memory of a woman in a blue dress she assumes to be important to her. When she finally gets the whole memory... it's just a commercial.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Deliberately averted with Skylar, whose rather impressive inventions get used for all manner of purposes, such as a superpowerful computer processor coupled with a bioelectrical field detector that allows the NSA to track anyone in the world. She also apparently makes a lot of money selling gadgets-to-order, such as a device that lets a man get a full night's sleep with a ten-minute nap. She also gave Gary a super-powered phone. It's a rather subtle tool, but it allows him to make an outbound call in an area where the villain had deliberately sabotaged the closest cell tower.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Explored from the get-go.
  • Restraining Bolt: As shown in "Wake Up Call", Alpha criminals imprisoned in Building 7 are fitted with a pacification chip that makes them docile. At least, that's how it worked until they had the great idea to try it on a Technopath.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Comes in the form of a shoe in "When Push Comes to Shove". We see a flashback to Nina's childhood where Nina notices her father's shoe lying in the middle of the kitchen. When she goes to take a look, she finds out to her horror that her father is lying dead in a corner, having killed himself because of the damage caused by Nina's persuasive ability. Cutting back to present day Nina, she attempts to kill herself by jumping off a building after realizing all the damage she's caused while abusing her power. When Cameron saves her, one of Nina's shoes falls to the ground, effectively creating a parallel to her father's tragic end.
  • Running Gag: Gary trying to get the others to let him drive.
  • Schedule Fanatic:
    • Ghost is such an obsessive perfectionist that his subordinate being only four minutes late to an appointment constitutes You Have Failed Me.
    • Gary as well, however not nearly to the extent as The Ghost, which is fairly common in those with Autism. In "Rosetta" he remarks that since he missed his bedtime (9:30) he'll be staying up all night, though it wasn't specified whether he wouldn't be able to sleep or he was just acting out.
    • Season 2 further elaborates that he wakes up at 7:42 in the morning, and he's added another activity to his schedule: cathartic screaming. This results in him deciding to sleep at his office rather than discomfort his mother at their home.
  • Screwed by the Network: It took around three months for Syfy to announce the show would be cancelled, after so much hope was generated for season three. An interesting example because Ryan Cartwright (Gary's actor) initially posted on his Twitter that he will assume Alphas is cancelled after waiting so long to "decide" and this forced Syfy to react and contradict him. Of course in the end, it was still cancelled, serving as a Kick the Dog moment for the fans.
  • Secret Public Identity:
    • So far, no one seems especially concerned about hiding their identities in public. However, it's hinted at that Bill's wife doesn't know about his Super Strength, so this trope at least partially applies.
    • Gary's hand gestures as he uses his powers can be seen by anybody else as autistic stimming, as they cannot see what he sees.
  • Secret War: The conflict between the government and Red Flag and other rogue Alphas. Rosen publicly revealed the Alpha phenomenon to force both sides to tone down the war crimes.
  • Sensory Overload:
    • Rachel's first kiss with her date is cut short when her hypersensitive sense of touch gets overwhelmed. It's apparently a consistent problem with her dates.
    • Gary, as well, if too much information streams by him at once.
    • Skylar creates a device to overload everybody's sight and sound. Humorously, instead of becoming catatonic as everybody suspected, Rachel is unaffected, as she shut off all her senses (except taste) the moment she realized what was happening.
  • Sequel Escalation: Every Alpha seen during season one, no matter their powers, was either an independent or a Red Flag moderate, those who sought to achieve their goals with a minimum of collateral damage - the hacktivists and the snipers. The Government gleefully kills every one of that faction when they attempt to Break the Masquerade, not caring that the leader of the hardline faction set them up to do it. In season two, we'll get to see the Alphas who fly planes into buildings. At the end of "Wake Up Call," they derail a train at the request of Stanton Parrish, at least partly to have an impressive display of pyrotechnics for an Unflinching Walk.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Parrish uses this on Rosen in regards to Dani, revealing knowledge of her apartment and the age of the building to convince Rosen to aid him in helping Jason Miller. Rosen is understandably pissed off by this, as demonstrated when he's locking Parrish in a cell later in the episode:
    Rosen: "You shouldn't have threatened Danielle."
  • Shapeshifting: An Alpha in "The Unusual Suspects" has the ability to alter their appearance to mimics others. The shapeshifter cannot mimic height, though. Overlaps with Painful Transformation, as the shapeshifter has trouble holding the form after a while, with parts of his face starting to slip back into position by reflex.
  • Shared Universe: With Warehouse 13 and by extension Eureka; see Crossover above.
  • Ship Tease: In "Cause and Effect", Hicks pulling Nina down and away from an explosion in the second episode results in her landing apparently half on top of him, their faces rather close and his hands cupping her face. Only gets more obvious in successive episodes.
  • Shock and Awe:
    • Kosar's power in the fourth episode. It's a more realistic version, since he could only release a charge either through direct contact or by touching a conductor (such as water or metal).
    • An Alpha in "Alphaville" can shut down cars by touching them, and shock people the same way.
    • The fake father in "Life After Death" can also shock people by touching them. It also lets him send Bill flying.
  • Shoot the Bullet: Hicks's Improbable Aiming Skills powers have grown to the point where he can now do this with pistol rounds.
  • Shoot The Hostage Taker: In the pilot, Hicks is confronted with a villain holding Rachel hostage and ducking behind her in such a fashion that the shot was virtually impossible. The villain had prepared for this ahead of time and had planned to psych Hicks out so that he wouldn't be able to make the shot. Being as Hicks' ability essentially is perfect aim, he makes it by use of ricocheting the bullet.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Bill and Gary's Excellent Adventures" is a shout out to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
    • In "Blind Spot", the alpha with Perception Filter powers uses the code name Griffin.
    • In "Gods & Monsters", Hicks dryly mutters, "Leave it to Parrish to make The Borg a real thing." Lampshaded when Rosen doesn't understand the joke:
      Hicks: It's a Star Trek reference.
    • In "When Push Comes to Shove", young Nina makes a random guy stand on one leg and hop on it several times, just like John Connor did with the T-800 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
    • In "Need to Know", when Skylar discovers there's a chip embedded in her arm, her daughter sees the scans and remarks, "Are you a Terminator?"
  • The Shrink: Doctor Rosen, of the third variety.
  • Silver Fox: Rosen. The show takes time every episode to show Rosen interacting with an older woman (Gary's mom, Dr. Calder, Kathy Sullivan) and making them swoon in his presence.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The world of Alphas is very, very cynical. Superpowers always come with a price often making them more of a burden than a blessing. Some powers are to useful to be left alone, and make the recipients targets for imprisonment, control, or even death. The government response to Alphas is efficient and pragmatic, but gives little weight to due process or traditional liberties. The group Red Flag has many well-intentioned extremist members, but still commits terrorist activities, including bombings and assassinations, and has some very nasty members. Neither side is really righteous. Many Alphas are just somewhat screwed-up people with an exceptional talent, but a large number can and do hurt or kill a lot of people. In spite of the cynical world around them, Rosen's team sticks together, tries to help, and manages to do quite a bit of good.
  • Spider-Sense: The power of Kosar's partner. He gets goosebumps when danger is near.
  • Starter Villain: The Ghost.
  • Stock Superpowers:
    • Charm Person: Nina's power allows her to manipulate the wills of others, making them extremely susceptible to suggestion.
    • Super Reflexes: Hicks' power. He can pull off amazing athletic feats of timing, but only when he isn't focusing on it.
    • Super Senses: Rachel's power. She can enhance any one of her five primary senses, though at the expense of the other four.
    • Super Strength and Super Speed: Bill's control over his fight-or-fight response. He can push a stationary SUV sideways and run fast enough to keep up with a speeding car. However, all that adrenaline has the drawback of causing him to overexert himself after a few minutes of use.
    • Technopath: Gary's power, to a degree. He can see (almost) every electromagnetic wave around him and search through them. An Alpha in season two is able to control any technology through electrical impulses. It seems to require physical contact with the actual wires, but she can fabricate video in real time once she's hooked up.
  • Stronger with Age: The second season demonstrates that Alphas grow more powerful with age.
    • Hicks is a much better shot in the second season (though he starts off rough due to Rosen's absence).
    • Nina's Compelling Voice is powerful enough to last nearly a day instead of less than an hour. And she's also learning how to probe a person's memories by focusing her power on the subject instead of her own desires.
    • Rachel seems to have an easier time switching between senses (she's able to carry a conversation with Hicks over the radio and use her enhanced sense of smell, which she couldn't do before), and when artificially enhanced is able to get over her Power Incontinence when she couldn't before.
    • Gary learns he's capable of perceiving the entire electromagnetic spectrum. At one point in "Alphaville", where he initially complains at the technology blackout in the place they go to, the next morning, he mentions he's listening to the Sun.
    • With a little help from Kat, Bill starts to gain more control over his adrenaline production and learns to harness his powers without overexerting himself.
    • Stanton Parrish is shown (through flashbacks) to heal progressively faster over time.
  • Super Drowning Skills: The Caretaker in "If Memory Serves" can heal broken bones almost instantly, but he has to drink a ton of calcium to fuel that regeneration and his bones are so prohibitively dense that it's impossible for him to swim.
  • Superheroes Stay Single:
    • Averted with Bill, who's Happily Married but hasn't told his wife about his power; he says that he has had marital problems, but evidently nothing they haven't been able to work around.
    • Nina's persuasive abilities, combined with its downside (her addiction to that power), ensures her need to avert this trope, whether with Hicks, or a (married) childhood friend.
    • Played straight with Hicks, who's divorced and dealing with that. The second season reveals he had a severe alcoholism problem. Though he is more than accepting of his own faults, his ex-wife still seems to be bitter about it.
    • Rachel is socially awkward thanks to her parents (and her own powers mucking up any attempts at intimacy).
    • Rosen's obsession with researching Alphas strained his marriage, leading to a divorce. He tried to use his Alpha daughter's empathetic powers to fix things, but that eventually failed.
    • We don't know the identity of Zoe's father, but whoever he was, Skylar never even bothers mentioning him or any significant other.
  • Superior Species: A majority of Alphas (especially the Red Flag faction) seem to see themselves as superior to normal humans simply because of the improved thing they can do. Stanton seems to preach that if Alphas ruled the world all of the world's problems would be fixed. This despite the fact every single one of them are either sociopaths, psychopaths or have some severe mental, physical or emotional problems.
  • Superpowerful Genetics:
    • Zoe, inheriting Alpha abilities from her mother, though in this case she is more of a hyper-intelligent mathematical savant instead of a Gadgeteer Genius.
    • Hicks' son, meanwhile, seems to have inherited his father's power.
  • Super Power Lottery: Hicks arguably has won this, having a combination of Super Reflexes, Improbable Aiming Skills, Awesomeness by Analysis, and Superhuman Agility, all of which is carried under the unifying banner of "Superhuman Hand-Eye Coordination". Since he also has extensive hand to hand combat training, it's almost unfair how much he has going for him in a fist fight. Of course, he has a rather nasty weakness - he can only use all those powers when calm and focused. As long as he's in charge of the situation, he's in charge of the situation. He flubs even slightly and all those powers go away and he crashes hard. It also comes with a psychological weakness, as all of them do. Since he has such great levels of control, he innately blames himself whenever anything goes wrong.
    • Kat fits in this too since she has the ability to learn ANY regular human skill (not Alpha skill, mind you) she wants like fighting styles, sketching, building stuff, you get the drill. The downside of her long term memory's Reset Button in about a month or so is sort of downplayed considering she still apparently retains the skills she had learned since then. Rosen also holds out hope that with Nina around to delve into her mind, her memory loss might be lessened.
  • Super Serum: Jump, a drug whose main ingredient is the blood of an Alpha, which grants temporary invincibility. Overuse, however, causes the user's heart to solidify from the Kevlar-like effect it imparts on their biology to make them invincible.
  • Super Speed: Eli has this in Season 2 Episode "The Quick and the Dead", complete with a severe drawback: because of his heightened metabolism, he ages much more rapidly (going from eighteen years old to somewhere in his thirties/forties in about four years time), and everyone else's relative slowness makes him appear hypertense and nervous.
  • Super Window Jump: The final part of Parrish's escape from Rosen's office involves this. Since his initial plan falls through, he tosses himself through a window. Being immortal, he's up and gone by the time the team gets the door open.
  • Surrounded by Idiots:
    • Bill gives off this vibe at times. He's the only trained law-enforcement officer in the group, so he has to deal with his teammates' inexperience in crime-solving. Though, to be fair, his temper often makes him hard to work with.
    • This is also a bit of a theme with Red Flag's mission for acceptance. The Alphas are surrounded by normal people, who are, by comparison, idiots.
  • Take a Third Option: Between the conflict between the government and Red Flag, Rosen decides to reveal the existence of Alphas to the public.
  • Team Dad: Rosen is this.
  • Team Mom: Nina is clearly this. She is constantly seen calming and protecting Gary and getting Bill to rest when he overextends himself in the first episode alone. Also when she offers to help Rachel learn to walk in high heels, though this might be more of Cool Big Sis.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Every Alpha who escapes from Binghamton at the end of "Wake Up Call."
    Rosen: Cornell, let Bill and Gary go. You don't need them. You don't need hostages anymore. You've proved your humanity already!
    Cornell: I'm not human. I'm an Alpha!
  • There Are No Coincidences: Marcus, because of his ability to perfectly calculate and react to everything in his environment, can't understand that other people can't do this and falsely believes that every accident that can be traced to the actions of an individual is the result of a plot against him. The worst part of this is that he realizes otherwise and gets vague control of his paranoia just as his handlers decide to lobotomize him.
  • The Uriah Gambit: A significant faction of Red Flag wants to Break the Masquerade. In the season 1 finale, Stanton Parrish deals with them by calling a summit, inviting just the dissenters, then leading the government right to it while staying away himself. The government wants the masquerade as much as he does, and really sees the gambit as a gift basket of bad guys. Sullivan points out that regardless of their opinion on secrecy, the operatives at the summit are still guilty of terrorist activities. When at least one Red Flag member resists and kills a government agent, the government opens fire and the resulting Fog of War leaves many operatives dead.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Finally, Dr. Rosen's team has Stanton Parrish in custody, and they lock him up. Then the guards, told not open the door under ANY circumstances do so anyway when Parrish pretends to commit suicide.
    • The Caretaker, facing an incoming Mack truck, is so confident he'll heal that he doesn't even bother dodging. He gets pushed into a lake and drowns because his bone density causes him to sink. Had he dived to one side, he'd be alive and would have succeeded in his mission.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Doctor Rosen, as exemplified by his answer to Senator Burton in "If Memory Serves":
    Rosen: Yes, Senator, my team is dangerous. And so am I.
  • Torture Technician: Agnes is an apologetic example of this, as her ability makes it impossible or very difficult to hide anything from her, but it also causes enormous amounts of pain to whoever she touches.
    • Surprisingly, Rosen, Hicks and Nina turn out to be this as well when they capture Scipio and attempt to locate Parrish by interrogating him. When Nina is unable to get him to talk while pushing him both normally and on stimulants, Rosen resorts to injecting Scipio with adrenaline, triggering his ability while his hand is bound with his palm facing his chest, burning himself painfully in the process.
  • Touch of Death: An Alpha in "The Unusual Suspects" can kill by touch, even through clothing. Those affected turn grey and their veins become exposed. It only takes about a minute to do the job, but it doesn't stick if the victim can get free before dying. It turns out he can also do it without touching, but it seems to be some kind of chemical which needs proximity and confined spaces just to work, and even then it's a lot slower.
  • True Companions: Generally the scenes where the group are just hanging around the office, or the break room conversing goes to show that despite their various backgrounds they are a sort of family never more so then in the final scene of "The Unusual Suspects".
  • Traumatic Haircut: Rosen, when he's kidnapped and imprisoned by the shapeshifter.
  • The Unreveal: Despite finding out who the shapeshifter was, we never see what he really looks like.
    • Kat's memory of a woman in a blue dress turns out to be from a mere commercial, despite the memory evoking a very emotional reaction from her.
  • Unstoppable Rage: In the season 1 finale, when Gary finds Anna dead during a raid on Red Flag, he grabs a soldier's baton and starts whaling on him like crazy. It took a fair bit longer for the guy to subdue Gary than it should have in a normal situation. Gary was that pissed.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Stanton is starting to show signs of this now that Rosen is putting pressure on his organization.
  • Villainous Rescue: Parrish comes to Rosen's rescue in "Gods and Monsters".
  • Voice Changeling: Parrish has one of these impersonate Rosen in "Gods and Monsters". It works fine at first, but Rachel can tell the difference the instant she hears his voice.
  • The Voiceless: Ironic, because her voice is how Kimi Milard's ability works. She steadily walks up, whispers something (inaudible to the audience) into the victim's ear, forces them to kill themselves ...and appears to enjoy it. However, she has no dialogue beyond this.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Gary can't detect Nokia phone traffic. Also, he can be knocked out by flooding a signal he's tuned in to with information, triggering Sensory Overload.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Red Flag claims to be this, though none of the protagonists agree. Rosen doesn't buy it, and dismisses their claims of just wanting to protect Alphas as propaganda to justify their outright terrorist activities. They did try to kill him, twice, as well as Alphas that don't agree with them. According to Kerns, these terrorist actions are carried out by "fringe elements" of the main group. As of "Original Sin", however, Red Flag is consolidated under Stanton Parrish's power and Rosen doesn't believe for a second he has altruism in mind.
    • "God's Eye" reveals more details as to Stanton Parrish's plans to set off photic stimulators in various major cities across the US. The devices will kill off every non-Alpha exposed to them, but Parrish wants Rosen to remain alive, so that he will lead the survivors.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Rosetta". Character Development; Gary starts Dating Catwoman. One of Red Flag's leaders is revealed; a high functioning autistic who's really pissed off over being misdiagnosed as "deficient".
    • "Original Sin", the first season finale: Anna is killed along with numerous other Red Flag members, seemingly crippling the organization; however the whole thing was a Uriah Gambit by Red Flag's true leader, Stanton Parrish, who was purging the group and wants to keep the Alpha conflict a secret. Rosen retaliates by breaking the masquerade wide open, and is arrested by the DoD. Oh, and Rosen's alienated daughter, who he just patched things up with? Yeah, she works for Parish.
    • "The Devil Will Drag You Under". Danielle dies, completely crushing everyone, especially Dr. Rosen and Cameron.
    • "God's Eye". The team manages to shut down the power in various locations including the rest of New York City to stop the execution of Stanton Parrish's plan to set off multiple photic stimulators throughout the country... except for the ones in Grand Central Station, where every person inside is exposed to it, including Skylar, Kat, Bill, Rachel, Nina, Hicks, Parrish and Rosen (who may have been killed by the device, along with every non-Alpha inside). The only person left to witness the aftermath is Gary.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: A community of Alphas in "Alphaville" is extremely resentful of Rosen for outing the existence of Alphas, which ruined their lives when their families and/or friends shunned them as freaks.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Nina in "When Push Comes To Shove".
  • With Great Power Comes Great Perks: While the downside to Nina's Compelling Voice is only hinted at, she mostly uses it to "borrow" cool cars and live rent-free.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Jason Miller. Poor kid just wanted some friends. It's even stated that a side-effect of his Alpha ability was that people just didn't like him for reasons they couldn't explain. Steps away from the edge of the Moral Event Horizon when he realizes the girl he's mind-controlling doesn't really like him.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: In "Alphaville", Gary learns that viewing signals are just one aspect of his ability, actually being capable of viewing the entire electromagnetic spectrum itself. He spends the rest of the episode in a state of euphoria, listening to grass, trees and even stars.
  • You Have Failed Me: The Ghost subjects his henchman to Psychic-Assisted Suicide for being four minutes late. He's known to do this to his pawns, but the henchman was presumably a partner or associate of some sort.
  • You Look Familiar: Brent Spiner has appeared in both Alphas and Warehouse 13 playing different characters. Notable as this is the first time they've reused an actor in a different role since the series was established to exist in the same universe as Eureka and Warehouse 13. note 
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Jason Miller in "Gaslight" straddles the line between this and Psychic-Assisted Suicide. His ability uses infrasound to affect the minds of those around him. As he was using the ability unconsciously to call out for help due to a near-drowning that left him comatose, this resulted in all nearby Alphas (being more susceptible to it than normal humans) seeing loved ones begging them for help, before the helplessness caused them to kill themselves under the belief that someone else was doing it.

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alternative title(s): Alphas
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