Series / Broadchurch

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Broadchurch is a 2013 8-part ITV Detective Drama, starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman. In the eponymous town, 11-year old boy Danny Latimer is found dead. Recently arrived DI Alec Hardy (Tennant) leads the investigation, with the assistance of DS Ellie Miller (Colman) - despite her resentment that Hardy got the promotion that she felt was rightfully hers while on holiday. As they dig into the goings on at the apparently quiet seaside town, a lot of skeletons start falling out of closets.

A second 8-episode series aired in 2015, dealing with the revelations and fallout from the first one, along with presenting a new mystery from Hardy's past.

Behind the scenes, the show seems to be a bit of an unofficial Doctor Who reunion - in addition to Tennant, the show also features Arthur Darvill (Rory), Eve Myles (Gwen from Torchwood) and several other actors (including Colman) who have guest starred on Doctor Who, and is written by Chris Chibnall (co-producer and head writer of Torchwood's first two series, now confirmed as the new showrunner for Doctor Who beginning with series 11 in 2018).

A huge hit for ITV, it has been renewed for a third series. Fox aired an American adaptation of the series, titled Gracepoint, with David Tennant reprising the role of the lead detective (though oddly enough, he's also one of the few characters whose name was changed) alongside Anna Gunn as his partner, with Michael Pena, Nick Nolte, and Jacki Weaver among the supporting cast.


Tropes associated with Broadchurch:

  • Accidental Murder: The killer never intended to murder Danny at all.
    • Neither did Lisa's killer in series 2.
  • Acquitted Too Late: Jack Marshall, after initially being accused of killing Danny, is cleared as a suspect after he kills himself.
  • Adult Fear: Basis of the plot
  • Amoral Attorney: Sharon Bishop in series 2 is a London barrister convinced to take on the case, and the first thing she does when in Broadchurch after meeting her client (who she tells to stop talking) and her former boss is dig up Danny's body for a new autopsy, opening Broadchurch's wounds. The other defence attorney Abby Thompson is told by her counterpart Ben Haywood in the penultimate episode that he thinks she's a horrible person.
  • Bait the Dog: Subverted. Nigel, who was more of a neutral character, suddenly aims at Susan Wright's dog with his crossbow but then the scene cuts away. We later learn he did not harm the dog after all.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Half the people in Broadchurch harbor a Big Secret and need their alibis or other extenuating information dragged out of them, especially Susan. This very nearly drives Hardy to distraction, as every single time he points out that they are trying to catch a killer and don't care about anything else.
  • Big Secret: EVERYONE, including Hardy. Danny has £500 in cash hidden in his bedroom, his sister has cocaine in hers and had a boyfriend who was dating a minor, his dad was having an affair, his mum is pregnant...A major theme of the show, in fact: everyone has secrets, even people who you wouldn't suspect, and every single secret is harmful to someone (which is why it's being kept secret).
  • Bittersweet Ending: To series one. Danny's killer is caught, though the revelation of his identity causes even more harm. The community comes together to give a poignant tribute to Danny's memory. The Latimers have come through as a family and have a new child to look forward to.
    • Series 2 seems to be making this a trend. The Sandbrook murder is solved, but Hardy is almost crushed by his two year experience and seems lost after. Joe Miller walks a free man, but he is exiled from Broadchurch on threat of death.
  • Bonding Over Missing Parents: Mark and Jack bond over missing children.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Chloe seems to be this (although the death of her brother is at least a partial cause). Later in the series, when she and her parents are open with one another, she seems to be more willing to spend time with and be close to her family.
  • British Accents: Most of the cast have a West Country burr, while Tennant uses his real Scottish accent for Hardy. A sole aversion exists in the character of Becca Fisher, who claims her family is from Melbourne and speaks with her actress’ native Australian accent.
  • British Newspapers: The main one featured is the fictional Daily Herald (although the font and logo from the front page are extremely similar to the Daily Express)
  • Buddy Cop Show: Hardy and Ellie have shades of this, albeit not played for laughs - they initially hate each other (Hardy thinks she's basically incompetent, Ellie thinks he stole her promotion) but start to warm to each other as the investigation goes on.
    • At the start of the second series they're close friends, but Miller has been demoted and Hardy is no longer on active duty and instead is teaching new recruits.
  • Bus Crash: Beth's mother (Chloe and Danny's grandmother) Elizabeth dies off-screen between seasons one and two. Beth is seen visiting her grave in the second episode of season two.
  • Butt Monkey: Pete, the officer assigned to watch the Latimer family in Series 1 has quite a few scenes at his expense.
  • Canine Companion: Vince – Susan’s Labrador, without whom she is never seen. She is so attached to Vince that she is even willing to allow herself to be suspected of murder rather than cooperate with the police while her dog is missing.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Hardy has a bad dream at the start of 1x05 which culminates in him startling and screaming in his bed.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Early in the show, Hardy is called to investigate diesel theft from a tractor. We never hear of this again until episode 7 when we learn that it was Nigel who committed the crime.
    • The £500 and the mobile given to Danny by his killer.
  • Close-Knit Community: Deconstructed. Reputation means everything in this place and the big secrets brought up during the investigation leaves a number of townfolks stigmatized or even dead.
  • Clueless Detective: The main reason Miller has to leave Broadchurch at the end, as no one is going to respect the "detective" whose husband was a pedophile and a child murderer right under her nose.
  • Commonality Connection: Mark and Jack have one because they both lost young sons.
  • Destroy the Evidence: Many examples, as might be expected in a murder mystery of this complexity. Jack Marshall burns the photos he took of the boys in Sea Brigade – despite having not actually committed a crime; the killer wipes down the clifftop hut where the murder took place, and also burns Mark’s boat that has Danny’s DNA in it; Tom deletes his email conversations with Danny from his phone and tries to destroy his hard drive to cover up the fact that he and Danny fought before he died.
  • Dies Wide Open: As revealed in the season finale.
  • Dirty Coward: Joe Miller is a particularly distasteful example, easily cowed with threats and unwilling to face the ramifications of his actions.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Did anyone seriously think Ellie's husband, Joe, was the killer before the first season's finale? Although of course, that's the entire point.
  • Driven to Suicide: Two examples here. First is Jack Marshall, who commits suicide following a reveal about a past conviction. The other is in relation to Susan, who was unaware that her former husband was abusing both of their daughters. One of the daughters ran away and was murdered by the father when she tried to report the abuse, and her husband hanged himself in his cell ten months after he was caught.
  • Dysfunctional Family:
    • The Latimers, once you dig beneath the surface. Every member has a secret that they're keeping from everyone else.
    • To a wider extent, the entire town: while much is made at the beginning of the show of the closeness of the community, it's revealed and reinforced several times that no one really knows anyone else. Everyone has secrets.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Danny's favorite doll is placed at his memorial by his sister.
  • Ending Memorial Service: After the funeral, the town lights a bonfire on the cliff overlooking the beach where Danny's body was found. To Beth's surprise, other bonfires are lit all along the coast and countryside in commemoration.
  • English Rose: Karen the journalist uses this exact term to describe Beth in a bid to make her boss more interested in the story. Her subsequent article portrays Beth as a young and beautiful grieving mother.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: An entire town full of them!
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first episode, Hardy asks Miller if the beach where Danny's body is found is a suicide spot, an idea which Miller adamantly rejects. Jack kills himself later in the same spot.
    • This snippet of conversation between DS Miller and Susan Wright:
    Miller: That man? Under your own house? How could you not know?
  • Fictional Counterpart:
    • Wessex Police polices the county of Dorset in the series, replacing the real life Dorset Police.
    • DI Hardy's ex-wife works for the fictional South Mercia Police in Series 2. It polices the unspecified county where Sandbrook is located.
    • The Daily Herald stands in for the Daily Express.
  • First-Name Basis: Alec Hardy calling Ellie Miller by her first name in the first series finale.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Ellie and Hardy fall into this naturally, though without any real threat of harm.
    • Later subverted into Bad Cop/Worse Cop, when Ellie threatens Susan not only with charging her with obstruction of justice, but also with putting down her dog.
      • And inverted in the final episode, when questioning Joe: Hardy is calm, collected and relieved to have the case behind him, Ellie tries to beat her murderous husband to death and has to be literally dragged from the room, screaming.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Beth.
    • Averted in season 2 with Claire who had an abortion while her husband Lee was in custody. When he finds out he beat the crap out of her then leaves her for good. Rev Paul surprisingly does not judge her. She's not exactly a "good girl" by any stretch of the imagination, but she's not really judged for having had an abortion either (except by Lee).
  • Good Times Montage: Of the Latimer family spending a fun day at the arcade.
  • Gray and Gray Morality: People are keeping secrets, but sometimes their motives are understandable. Characters originally viewed as scumbags are suddenly portrayed in a very human light.
  • Happily Married: Ellie rejects the advances of a colleague because she's already happily married.
  • Hate Sink: The defense lawyers in Series 2, who bizarrely appear to be positively gleeful about the prospect of making a clearly guilty man a Karma Houdini. It also seriously doesn't help that the entire trial is absurdly slanted in their favor, with the judge allowing them to go off on all kinds of wild speculations without a shred of evidence at the same time the prosecution is constantly admonished to stick to the facts.
  • Hollywood Law: The trial in series 2 has by the broadcast of the second episode been criticised for its great inaccuracy, mostly to increase the drama. Most glaringly multiple witnesses sit in the audience of the murder trial, but the defence bullies Mrs Latimer and Ellie to an extent that would be severely reprimanded in real life, and the killer's confession is dismissed far too easily. Several British viewers even went out of their way to assure fans in other countries that this is not in any way how the British legal system works.
  • Hot for Teacher/Hot for Student: Jack and his music pupil - he was jailed for sleeping with her one month below the age of consent and later married her after he got out of prison.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: One of the reasons why Joe Miller is spared at the end of series 2.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Played with in Series 2. Although they are both police officers, Miller (Devon & Cornwall Police) and Hardy (Wessex Police) identify themselves to a suspect as being from a different constabulary (South Mercia Police) whilst investigating the Sandbrook case. Lee plays the trope straight or at least claims to, as an explanation for his false "evidence".
  • Infant Immortality: Given that the first series is about the death of an 11-year-old child, it's safe to say this trope is pretty much averted.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Beth's attractiveness is what sells the newspaper editor to publish the story about the murders.
  • Interrogation Montage: Happens when Nigel and his mother Susan Wright are interrogated in parallel.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Ollie starts out looking like he’s going to be one of these, but ultimately proves to care more about the people involved than about getting the scoop, after Jack Marshall commits suicide as a result of his and Karen’s pieces on him. His boss Maggie has elements of this, too, putting herself into danger for the sake of her news stories.
  • Ironic Echo: A rather dark one in season 1 with Ellie's line "How could you not know?" been thrown back at her.
  • Irony: Hardy is given the chance to back out of the case in the 1st episode for fear of his status being an outsider affect the investigation of the case. But as the 2nd season starts, its Ellie, who's now considered to be a pariah of the town.
    • Season 1 goes on about how Hardy failed the family in the Sandbrook murder. Ultimately, the family was in on the murder.
  • I See Dead People: One of the last scenes of the first series has Beth seeing the ghost of Danny during the memorial on the beach.
  • I Wished You Were Dead: Tom Miller said pretty much these exact words during a fight with Danny and spent most of the series trying to cover up the evidence of the fight.
  • The Jail Bait Wait: Jack makes a point to note that had he waited a few weeks for his 15-year-old lover's birthday, their romance would have been perfectly legal.
  • Karma Houdini: Zigzagged with Joe Miller. He avoids prison, but he is exiled from Broadchurch on pain of death, unable to see his two boys again.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Miller questions the fact that Susan Wright apparently didn't know that her husband was a child rapist right under her nose; later, Beth Latimer questions the fact that Miller apparently didn't know that her own husband was attracted to Danny and killed him.
  • Last Name Basis: Hardy prefers this form of address for himself and others (even going on a rant about how much he dislikes the practice of calling people by their first names when asked by Ellie if she can call him “Alec” when he is at their house for dinner). When the truth about Joe comes out, Ellie is understandably freaked out when a sympathetic Alec suddenly calls her Ellie.
  • Married to the Job: Hardy implies this about himself when Ellie asks about the reason for his divorce. The truth is more complicated (and more heartbreaking).
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The show makes it ambiguous as to whether Steve is a con artist or a genuine psychic. One the one hand, he does make eerily accurate statements, but on the other hand, some of his predictions could have been gleaned by simple research and basic assumptions. In the end, it's revealed that his statements about "the pendant" are based on false information, so he's implied to be fraud after all.
  • Meaningful Echo: "How could you not know?"
  • Meaningful Funeral: Two examples: first is the funeral for Jack Marshall, at which the vicar lambastes the community for essentially causing the man’s death and shows that he really is serious about bringing the community together, without an agenda. Secondly is the funeral/memorial for Danny in the final episode, in which we see characters coming together that have been absent or estranged throughout the series.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: Focusing on the "woman" part of the syndrome rather than the "white". When the Latimer family wants to know why Danny's murder has received almost no media attention, Karen tells them that it's because Danny was a boy — if he had been a girl, there would be reporters swarming all over the town. Karen suggests getting around this by making Beth the "white woman victim" who would be the focus of media sympathy.
  • Mistaken Identity: Susan claims to have seen Nige on the beach on the night of Danny's murder, when in fact she saw Joe Miller. To be fair, from a distance they do look similar. This causes huge problems for the prosecution in season 2.
  • Necro Cam: The final Dénouement Episode explains via flashbacks how the murder happened.
  • Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Averted with Jocelyn and Maggie.
  • Off on a Technicality: How the Sandbrook killer avoided prison, much to Hardy's shame.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Series 1 opens with a mysterious shot of Danny cliff-side — ready to jump off, with blood dropping from his hand. The scene comes up again in the last episode but this time we learn how it all came about and how it continued.
  • One Phone Call: Nigel is seen in custody making a phone call to Mark while a police officer stands behind him taking notes and urging him to finish up.
  • The Oner: The opening episode features a 90 second-long tracking shot following Mark as he walks through town; it does a great job of introducing characters and the small-town atmosphere.
  • Pædo Hunt: Jack Marshall is the subject of one, after his conviction for underage sex makes the press (minus some salient details)
  • Parental Abandonment: Turns out Susan/Elaine is Nige's estranged mother.
    • She didn't actually abandon him, though - he was taken away from her by the authorities.
  • Parental Hypocrisy: Chloe isn't too impressed at her dad for complaining about her relationship with 17-year-old Dean, which is a mirror of Mark and Beth's at that age (minus the pregnancy as she gleefully notes).
  • Parental Neglect: Joe accuses Mark of this and that Danny came to him after Mark hit him once.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: DI Alec Hardy checks himself out of hospital early and against strong advice. It comes back to bite him in the bum when he's ambulanced in a second time: the doctors inform his DCI of his previous, secret visit, and she takes him off the case.
  • Peaceful in Death: Discussed when Susan tells DS Miller about seeing Danny’s body on the beach. She wonders aloud whether her own daughter looked as peaceful when she was killed by her husband, and says that she doubts it.
  • Pedophile Priest: Teased with Reverend Paul, especially when he's spotted touching a boy's knee, but he's ultimately not.
  • Phony Psychic: Steve seems like this at first, because that's exactly what he is. To "prove" himself he mentions a detail from Hardy's past, but we later learn that Hardy fabricated this detail in order to protect his wife, meaning that Steve must have heard it somewhere.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • After Hardy asks for them to be kept under police surveillance, Susan manages to leave the village unnoticed, and Nige manages to lose them after running through an alley.
    • And, of course, as Hardy explains to Ollie about the Sandbrook killer case, after key evidence was secured by his wife / colleague, instead of returning to the station, they stopped off at a hotel for a drink, resulting in the evidence being stolen by local yobs. In series 2 it's revealed that Claire stole the pendant, as it was hers and she'd given it to Pippa.
  • Police Brutality: After finding out that Joe murdered Danny, Ellie savagely beats and kicks him to the floor in the police interview room, requiring two officers to drag her away. It later bites her in the ass, as her treatment of Joe is one of the main factors that gets his confession dismissed in court.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Miller to Hardy, after he collapses while they are both chasing a suspect ("Don't you fucking die on me!").
    • Also Miller, also to Hardy, after he tells her who killed Danny.
  • Quickly Demoted Leader: Miller by Series 2. Previously a Detective Sergeant with Wessex Police investigating a murder case, she now works as a traffic officer for Devon & Cornwall Police (which she is implied to despise).
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • The vicar gives one to Hardy towards the end of season 1.
    • Junior lawyer Ben Haywood visibly hurts his counterpart Abby Thompson when he tells her thinks she's a horrible person for aiding a clear murderer. She seems to take it particularly hard as she expected a statement of romantic interest.
    • In the final episode of Series 2, Beth and Ellie give a devastating and totally deserved one when the Lattimers, Ellie, Paul, and Nige confront Joe in the clifftop hut after he is found not guilty of Danny's murder.
      Beth: "When you die no one will mourn for you. We could kill you in here, dump your body on a beach, and no one would care. No one would notice. But we're more than you. I will not be broken by this! We all get to live, but you... you've no life left. Not here."
      Ellie: "You are not sorry, if you were sorry you'd have pleaded guilty! You heard what she said, you are leaving and you are never coming back. And you will never see either of your children again."
  • Red Herring: Most of the suspects and their whereabouts are accounted for, but a couple of things are deliberately meant to be misleading and are never explained: the argument Jack witnessed between Danny and the postman, and the power outage the night of the murder.
    • Jack's Pædo Hunt subplot was to throw a misdirection into the investigation.
  • Sexy Priest: The Reverend Paul.
  • Shaming the Mob: When the mob arrives at his house, Jack Marshall delivers a speech in which he explains the circumstances of his case, putting Mark and the others to shame. This stops the Pædo Hunt for a while.
    • Also applies to the vicar at Jack's funeral, where he displays disgust for those who had the nerve to attend the funeral of a man who they bullied to suicide.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: The sound drowns out when the mother sees the body of Danny at the beach.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: The Latimers are reluctant to clear Danny's room for the new baby as they originally planned to keep it untouched.
  • Silent Scapegoat: Hardy takes the blame for allowing the Sandbrook killer to walk, even though it was actually a DS working under him who had screwed up. The reason he took the blame was because the DS in question was his wife; evidence was stolen from her car because she had been meeting with her lover, and Hardy didn't want his daughter to know about her mother's infidelity.
  • Take That: To the Daily Mail, it's the last newspaper Ollie applies for.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Beth and Mark had Chloe when Beth was 15 and Mark was 17.
  • Teens Are Short: Chloe is a full head shorter than her (not particularly tall) mother.
  • Theme Naming: In season 2, the lead attorneys (both Queen's Counsel) are named Knight and Bishop.
  • There Is Only One Bed: In season 2, Alec and Ellie must share a bed in a hotel which is awkward because of recent allegations that they have an affair.
  • Tired of Running: The reason for Joe's decision to turn himself in.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: The vicar tries to comfort Beth by telling her that sometimes god takes those he loves the most first.
  • Tracking Device: Hardy is able to track Danny's mobile which leads him to his murderer.
  • Trespassing to Talk: To her surprise, Nigel waits in the dark of Susan's trailer to have a talk.
  • Unfamiliar Ceiling: POV shot against the ceiling when Hardy wakes up at the hospital after the second time he collapses.
  • The Vicar: A subversion - Rev. Paul Coates is actually trendy (rather than just thinking he is), and teaches computer skills at the local school.
  • Vomiting Cop: Ellie almost becomes this after The Reveal.
  • Wham Line: In season 2 premiere, Joe Miller pleading not guilty.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Kevin the postman, who was seen, but denied, arguing with Danny, is never brought up again. We never find out what that was all about.
  • With All Due Respect: Miller to Hardy in 1x03.
    With respect, sir, move away from me now or I will piss in a cup and throw it at you.
  • Woman Scorned:
    • Beth is trashing Becca's bar after she learns about her affair with Mark.
    • Ellie giving her husband a good beating after The Reveal at the police station.
  • Working with the Ex: Hardy and his ex-wife Tess work together on the Sandbrook case in season 2.
  • You Called Me X, It Must Be Serious: DS Miller is appropriately freaked out when Hardy calls her "Ellie", the name she goes by with everyone else.
  • You Do Not Have to Say Anything: The standard British caution is used when Mark is arrested for obstructing the inquiry.
    • It's heard again when Claire is arrested in season 2.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Mark had an affair with Becca and they had sex the night of the murder.
    • Also Hardy's wife, who was investigating the Sandbrook killer case having an affair with another colleague working on the same case. It resulted in the killer walking free.
    • Lee Ashworth having sex with Lisa Newbery triggered the Sandbrook murders.
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