Series / Bron|Broen

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Bron|Broen (the former title is Swedish and the latter Danish), known in English-speaking markets as The Bridge, is a Nordic Noir thriller co-produced by the national TV companies of Denmark and Sweden. The first series was shown in its native countries in 2011, and in 2012 followed Forbrydelsen onto BBC4 in the UK. A second season aired throughout Scandanavia in 2013 with the third season airing it the region, followed by the UK in 2015. The fourth season is currently in production. According to press releases, it would serve as the last season to the series.

The show has had two remakes to date: An American remake premiered in 2013 on FX, with the action taking place on the US/Mexico border. UK cable channel Sky Atlantic has produced a remake with Canal in 2013 called The Tunnel, set in the UK/France, with a second season due to air in April 2016. In addition, a Russian remake set on the border with Estonia has been ordered by NTV in that country to air in 2017.

The series begins when a body is discovered on the Øresund bridge that links Copenhagen (Denmark) with Malmö (Sweden), carefully dumped at the exact point where the bridge is divided by the international border. As a result, the two cities' police forces are forced to collaborate on the investigation, led by Saga Norén (Sweden) and Martin Rohde (Denmark). Threatening messages are then received by the police and media, from somebody purporting to have committed the murders to draw attention to social problems.

In the second season, Martin and Saga are reunited when the discovery of a Ghost Ship turns out to be the first in a series of attacks by a group of apparent ecoterrorists.

The third season has Saga joined by a new Danish partner, the secretive insomniac Henrik Saboe, as they try to track down a Serial Killer seemingly motivated by homophobia who targets both Danish and Swedish LGBT activists and is strangely poetic about their murders.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Saga. Two eco-terrorists with guns? Deranged serial killer with a hostage? Doesn't matter. In hand-to-hand combat, Saga will take them out.
  • Aerith and Bob: "Saga" is an archaic, classically Nordic name, whereas her sister is named "Jennifer", an English (Cornish) name that seems a little mismatched. Downplayed to the Swedish perspective — Jennifer is a perfectly common name in Sweden and has been so for quite some time, while Saga just sounds a bit old-fashioned.
  • A Father to His Men: Hans, especially to Saga. Later, Linn tries to be, but her incomprehension of Saga allows Saga's evil mother to manipulate her into well-intentionally helping her to start abusing Saga again.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Several times.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Saga. The actor and writers have said that she probably is autistic/Asperger in some way, but that they didn't explicitly state it to keep their freedom of writing without offending/misleading people. This said, she has been praised as a plausible portrayal and role model for some on the autistic spectrum.
    • There is also a decent chance she has Tourette's, given all her involuntary twitching.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: Though it doesn't focus exclusively on animal rights, it is the first Red Herring of season two.
  • Artistic License Gun Safety: In the third season, Lukas forces Marc to play Russian Roulette with a blank cartridge. When the cartridge goes off, Marc is terrified but unharmed. In reality, firing a blank cartridge into the side of your head would cause horrific burns at the very least, and quite possibly cause fatal head injuries from the blast, even without a bullet.
  • The Atoner: Daniel Ferbé becomes a weird mix of this and Nietzsche Wannabe after his overdose
  • Badass: Saga generally, but of particular note has to be when she skillfully fends off two armed men that attack her in her hotel room during the events of Series 2.
  • Best Served Cold: The motivations of the killers from season one and three.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: All the dialogue is in either Danish or Swedish depending on who's talking, as the languages are mutually intelligible to an extent (Rohde asks his Swedish counterparts if they can understand his Danish, and they always can. As a running gag, both detectives keep mispronouncing each others names: Saga is always called "Sega" by her Danish colleagues, while she introduces Martin as "Röhde" rather than "Rohde".)
  • Bittersweet Ending: Seasons 1 and 2 both have these, if they don't qualify as outright Downer Endings:
    • Season 1: Jens has been captured, but August is dead and Martin's wife is leaving him. Not to mention that dozens of people have died gruesomely along the way.
    • Season 2: The eco-terrorist conspiracy has been foiled, but the unknown mastermind of that conspiracy is still at large, Saga's boyfriend has left her, Martin's wife has left him (again), Pernille is dead, and because of the last two events, Martin finally crosses the Despair Event Horizon and possibly murders Jens, completing Jens's master plan from the first season finale. Saga finds out and is forced to report Martin, leading to his arrest. Not to mention that dozens of people have died gruesomely along the way.
    • Season 3 ends on a slightly more upbeat note, but still qualifies: Saga and Henrik have caught Emil and saved Freddie and the baby, but they're both off the force, and Saga may be facing prosecution for (allegedly) murdering her mother. Saga herself is convinced she'd be convicted, given that she had motive, no alibi, and the technical evidence points to her.
  • Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: In the third season, Lise, the socially-conservative vlogger who denounced all the victims before they were murdered, has this persona.
  • British Brevity: Each season consists of ten episodes.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Oliver Nordengren is an Abhorrent Admirer of his attractive sister Viktoria, and has cameras planted throughout her house. He is less than pleased when he sees her making love with a woman.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Saga takes her duties very seriously. After finding a store camera that could have useful evidence on it, she gets the camera's memory card - and then mentions that the store-owner doesn't actually have permission for the camera.
    Saga: "That's why they're called rules. If you didn't have to follow them, they would be called suggestions."
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Saga is frequently noted as being a terrible liar, which she is trying to improve. Naturally, this becomes vitally important in the finale.
  • The Care Taker: Stefan, towards his sister, Sonja. He spent a lot of time trying find her and after she almost dies due to the serial killer, he plans to take care of her for as long as she needs him. Unfortunately he gets arrested (for an unrelated murder) before she gets out of hospital and she's left alone again.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Stefan, Charlotte and August, among others. The writers often introduce new characters early, and we get to follow their daily lives for an episode or two before it's revealed how they relate to the case.
  • Crazy Homeless People: Sonja
  • Criminal Mind Games
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In the second season when two of the second group of animal masks force their way into Saga's hotel room with guns, and she overpowers them in seconds. Since this was across two episodes and since the curb-stomp was so extreme, could count as a Cliffhanger Copout.
  • Cut Apart: Used in the third season when the SWAT team raid Aleks's house looking for Petersson, but Aleks and Petersson are in a different building, and the killer shoots Aleks and re-kidnaps Petersson.
  • Dead All Along: Henrik's wife, whose body is found, and possibly his two daughters. Not quite a straight example, as they've only been missing for several years, and may or may not still be alive.
  • Deadly Gas: Used to kill Ferbé in the first season, and the first group of terrorists in the second season.
  • Decoy Protagonist: In the third season, Hanne is introduced as Saga's new Danish partner, but is seriously injured by a bomb at the end of the first episode, and replaced by Henrik.
  • Defective Detective: An Odd Couple of them; a By-the-Book Cop Swede with No Social Skills and a laid-back Dane who Really Gets Around. Series 3 turns it up to eleven with a new insomniac, pill-popping Danish partner with a tragic backstory who continues to interact with his wife and children, even though they've been missing for years.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Even a year after the events of the first season, Martin cannot get over the profoundly negative impact Jens has left on his life. He finally falls into the Horizon when his wife tells him their marriage can't be salvaged, leading him to kill Jens and go to jail.
  • The Determinator: Saga.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: In the third season, the killer turns out to be an unassuming art gallery employee who had previously played a relatively unimportant part in the plot.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: If Saga wants to have sex with someone, she doesn't beat around the bush. No pun intended.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • In the second season finale, Pernille, a Danish policewoman who Martin was attracted to, shoots herself rather than die slowly and painfully from The Plague she was exposed to.
    • Jennifer Noreen, Saga's sister, years before the first season begins.
    • Saga, nearly, in the third season, due to Hans's death, Henrik turning out to be a drug addict, her realisation that she accidentally gave Emil the weapon he used to kill himself, and the fact that she might be prosecuted for the murder of her mother.
    • Benjamin after the woman he had an affair with states on national television that sleeping with him was a mistake.
  • Dysfunction Junction: All the significant characters are so screwed up that you'll start thinking the killer has a point.
  • Enhance Button: Averted in the second season, when John explains to Saga that an image of a suspect on a CCTV shot can't be made any better by zooming in.
  • Everyone Knows Morse: Bjørn tries to communicate his location to viewers of the Murder.com video feed by blinking out messages in Morse code. This, however, is justified: The police only realize that Bjørn is using Morse because he was in the merchant navy, where he would have learned and used it.
  • Evil Matriarch: Saga's mother, who abused her sister and, after Saga's father's death, manipulated Saga's new boss into distrusting her, and finally killed herself and framed Saga for it.
  • Exact Words: Saga, who Cannot Tell a Lie, tries to reassure Martin by telling him that "we found August", and that he's being taken to the hospital. After she repeats that exact wording a couple of times, the killer points out that she's not saying they found him alive...
  • External Combustion
  • Faking the Dead
  • Fan Disservice: This being a Scandinavian show, there's a lot of casual nudity (especially involving Saga, Stefan and Sonja), but the style of the shots is so clinical and the events sometimes so disturbing that it's rarely erotic.
  • Fallen Hero: Martin, when he kills Jens at the end of the second season.
  • Follow the Leader: to Forbrydelsen. Both are Scandinavian co-productions featuring a Raised by Wolves protagonist who will always pursue a lead over anything as profane as social interaction or eating. The former was about a murder implicating the aspiring mayor of Copenhagen. The latter starts with the mayor of Malmö... found dead on the bridge connecting the city to Copenhagen.
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: Freddie gives Marc a handout of several thousand kroner in order to convince him keep a low profile and keep his distance to Jeanette. Marc proceeds to gamble all of them away the very next night during a poker game.
  • Friend to All Children: Played straight with Henrik. Subverted with Saga, who seems to think they are little adults. At one point she gives a book on how to overcome PTSD to an eight-year-old.
  • Functional Addict: Henrik takes pills for insomnia, then takes stimulants to counteract the strong sleep aids and get through the day. He does not get high, and it does not affect his professional performance negatively. However, his illegally obtaining the stimulants opens him up to blackmail; he can't quit without going through withdrawal; and eventually he overdoses.
  • Groin Attack: The killer kicking Rohde in the balls, possibly because he knows that Rohde just had a vasectomy.
  • Hand of Death: The first season likes depicting the killer as a pair of gloved hands driving a car to the next crime scene.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Jens attempts several of these when Martin visits his jail cell.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: August.
  • Heel Face Doorslam: Daniel finally does something that's not selfish and realizes that it felt good; almost immediately afterward, he's murdered as punishment for a past misdeed.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Saga, with her leather pants and coat.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: In the third season, Lise the right-wing vlogger, and apparently the killer as well.
  • Hope Spot: Saif and his father decide not to kill Henning and to let him go. Then the killer turns up in a police uniform and guns him down. Later when it's falsely implied that August survived.
  • I Can Still Fight: Saga in the final episode, continuing to try to save August and Martin after being shot twice by the killer and minimally treated in hospital.
  • I Have No Son: The last we see of Jeanette is like this. Turns out to be a major plot point.
  • I Have Your Wife: And children
  • Imaginary Friend: In the third season, Henrik's wife and children are imaginary.
  • Improbably Cool Car: Saga's car. Lampshaded by Martin, who jokingly asks whether Swedish cops are well-paid. Saga doesn't get it.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bomb: Actually a cruel joke.
  • Infant Immortality: Unexpectedly played straight with the school bus hijack, and later Martin's younger children. In series 3, Freddie Holst's newborn.
  • Innocently Insensitive: In line with her Ambiguous Disorder, Saga does this very often, especially when dealing with people who have just lost loved ones. This becomes a minor plot point in the third season.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The killer wants to draw attention to the plight of the vulnerable in society, by murdering them in incredibly cruel and gruesome ways.
  • Insistent Terminology: In the second season: It's a ship, not a boat, and Saga will never let you forget it. Also, Saga always, always introduces herself as "Saga Norén, Malmö municipal police" — even in casual conversations. A typical interview will start like this:
    Henrik: Hello, I'm Henrik Saboe, København Politi... And this is my colleague, Saga Norén.
    Saga: [irritated look] Länskrim Malmö.
  • Internal Affairs: Saga ends up being investigated by Internal Affairs in the third season for allegedly murdering her mother.
  • It's Personal: In the final few episodes, Martin discovers that Jens wants revenge against him, for sleeping with his wife just before she died. He takes his wife and kids, and his teenage son, hostage.
  • Jack the Ripoff:
    • In the second season, the second group of animal-masked terrorists turn out to be a much less dangerous group of animal liberationists who are just imitating the first group with no true connection.
    • In the third season, the second murder turns out to be a copycat killing.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Charlotte paying the entire ransom just to spite her dead husband and spend her stepdaughter's money
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Part of the initial hype for the show, and possibly hoped for by the killer. But actually the two police forces work together pretty well, barring some arguments over who gets to carry a gun (initially humorous but later played more seriously).
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: Saga complains about being asked to keep Martin' secret that he's the guy who had an affair with Jens' wife.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Ferbé's introductory scene, where he viciously mocks a sad-sack colleague for his unhipness and taste in music, makes him appear so unpleasant that the unspeakably horrible things that happen to him immediately afterwards seem karmic and comical.
  • Kill the Cutie: The fate of Anja.
  • Limited Wardrobe: We hope that Saga has several identical pairs of black leather trousers. If not, she probably isn't very pleasant to be around.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
  • Lucky Charms Title: The pipe symbol is used to separate the Swedish and Danish titles. In the second and third seasons, two and three pipes are used respectively to indicate the sequel number.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Jens
  • Mailer Daemon: August and the killer, who is pretending to be a (real) female friend of his.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Saga is fond of these, in line with her Ambiguous Disorder. (See above.)
  • Meaningful Name: Saga is a relatively unusual Swedish name and means "seeing one" in Old Norse — appropriate for someone with her level of crime-solving intuition.
    • Incidentally, as can be heard in-series, the name is pronounced as "Sah-ga" (rhymes with "Prada") in Swedish, but "Say-ga" (as in Sega) in Danish.
    • "Saga" is the Swedish word for "fairy-tale". It is also a slightly archaic pan-Nordic word for "tale, story".
    • The most famous Swede with Saga's last name is Lars Norén, a Swedish playwright, known for dark drama full of angst.
  • Motive Rant: Gertrud gives a subdued one when she shoots her confession video.
    • Emil, the Big Bad of season three, gets two: one as he's about to kill Freddie, and one to Saga and Henrik after he's taken into custody.
  • Murder.com: The two "Truth Terrorist" sites, one for each country. Which the killer uses to broadcast Bjorn's murder and threaten to kill the school bus children.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: The start.
  • National Stereotypes: Plays throughout with stereotypes of the Swedish as uptight and Danes as laidback.
  • No Shirt, Long Jacket: Sonja throughout the first couple of episodes.
  • No Sense of Humor
    Rohde: [Saga] doesn't do jokes.
  • No Social Skills: Saga. Played sometimes seriously, as when she callously interrogates a guy over the phone while he's trapped in a car with a time bomb, and sometimes comically as when she picks up a guy in a bar with "want to have sex at my place?" and freaks him out when she post-coitally starts her laptop up and looks at gruesome autopsy photos in bed.
    • In one episode she attempts to eat lunch and make small talk with the other detectives; after a long awkward silence all she manages to say (completely straight) is "my period started today."
    • Her habit of changing her shirt in front of her colleagues is another example of this.
  • Not So Stoic: After experiencing a Trauma Conga Line in series 3, Saga has one of these moments when she collapses in tears after almost committing suicide.
  • Parental Neglect: Anja and her "family"; she finds shelter with a friendly but very unstable man.
  • Photographic Memory: Henrik appears to have this; in one episode, he scans a crime scene, and, when questioned, says he is making a mental map. He can spontaneously recall details from files he has read, from crime scenes, and license plates he has seen briefly. He is visibly frustrated when a colleague cannot instantly recall a license plate number like he can.
  • The Plague: In season two, the lead eco-terrorist's ultimate goal is to spread a lab-developed form of the pneumonic plague at an EU climate conference.
  • Porn Stache: Stefan, the Swedish social worker. It doesn't help that his dress sense and even the style in which some of his scenes are shot evoke the 1970's.
  • Red Herring: Several suspicious characters are not the one Saga and Martin are looking for.
    • Stefan kills Sören, but he's not a serial killer.
    • Jesper is guilty of rape, but not murder.
    • Lasse gets manipulated to kill a psychologist on behalf of the real killer.
      • Also, while he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, he is not a sexual predator and not a threat to Anja.
    • More turn up in season two:
      • The Animal Wrongs Group bombs a petrol tanker and poisons the food supply, but it did not develop The Plague.
      • Oliver is guilty of peeping on and then attempting to kill his sister, but he is not the mastermind behind the eco-terrorist conspiracy.
    • Gertrud, the real ringleader of the conspiracy, may not have been the real ringleader after all.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Martin Rhode is the Red Oni and Saga Noren is the Blue Oni.
  • Revenge: The first-season serial killer's real goal.
  • Running Gag: Saga's boss explaining "She meant to say 'How are you?'", Martin's insistence that Saga needs a hobby, and the Swedes waking Martin up early in the morning while he's sleeping.
  • Russian Roulette: Lukas forces his debtor Marc to play Russian Roulette to intimidate him in the third season.
  • Scary Black Man: Lukas, the gangster posing as a charity worker, in the third season.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: Two variations are used in the finale, for Mette and her kids — a shack in the countryside, which they're locked inside with a live grenade, and for August — bricked up behind a false wall in a secret location.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: In the third season, Morten is a violently-deranged ex-soldier afflicted with PTSD after being taken prisoner and tortured in Afghanistan.
  • Shoot Your Mate: With an innocent bystander.
  • Start to Corpse
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred: Jens Hansen first tries to set this up with Henning and the family of the guy who was killed by the cops, and then with himself and Martin.
    • He ultimately succeeds one season later when Martin, blaming Jens for the breakup of his marriage, poisons him in prison and ends up getting arrested.
  • Suicide, Not Murder: Saga's mother probably killed herself and framed Saga for killing her.
  • Theme Serial Killer
  • Trauma Conga Line: In series 3, let's see, Saga witnesses her first partner lose a foot in an explosion and feels responsible. Then her abusive mother, who had Munchausen syndrome by proxy, shows up and starts a campaign of intimidation, including blaming Saga for her sister's suicide. Saga's father, from whom she was also estranged, dies. Then Hans, her boss and friend, who always had her back, is kidnapped and tortured. Then she's mismanaged to the extreme by her new boss, who assigns an incompetent colleague who has a grudge against Saga to investigate her. Then her mother commits suicide in a way that frames Saga for murder. Hans dies. She forgets to search a suspect for weapons, and her colleague's daughter is consequently shot. Her new partner, whom she grew close to, turns out to be a drug addict. She inadvertently provides the murderer with the means to kill himself. And finally, she's suspended while being investigated for her mother's death. All this leads her to a very bad place.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Briefly discussed and defied; once the case becomes personal for Rohde, it's suggested that he be taken off it. He matter-of-factly states that if he is, he'll just keep investigating on his own time, so he's kept on.
  • The Unreveal: After the second season finale, the episode's writer stated in a live chat that the shadowy figure who killed Gertrud was not significant and would not be revisited.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In the third season Morten's pathetic attempt to find someone to connect with by tracking down his sibling-by-sperm-donation ends up triggering Emil's mental breakdown and serial murders, which included Morten himself.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Subverted with Jens and played straight with Gertrud.
  • Western Terrorists: Gertrud's plot to attack an EU conference in the second season.
  • Wham Episode: In finale of season two, one of Martin's colleagues if forced to kill herself after becoming infected with a superplague, while Saga is forced to turn in Martin himself after he murders Jens in prison. Doing so potentially shifts the geographical axis of the series away from Denmark.
  • Wham Line: From the penultimate episode of season three:
    Emil: Hello, daddy.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never find out what happened to Veronika and her children after Stefan helped her disappear and killed her husband.
    • Likewise, in the third season, we never find out what became of Claes and Annika after they ceased being relevant to the main storyline because it became clear that neither of them was the killer.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: This may have been Emil's motivation for faking an attack on himself in the third season, although it may have been for some deranged reason only he understood.
  • You Have Failed Me: In the final episode of the second season, Gertrud is cold-bloodedly gunned down by a shadowy Bigger Bad after her plan to infect Europe's environment ministers with a virus fails.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • In the first season, Ferbé, who after losing his job gets gassed to death in his car.
    • In the second season, the original terrorist foursome, who are gassed to death in a shipping container.
      • At the end of the second season, Gertrud is shot by a Bigger Bad.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Martin is a serial case. He's gone through several marriages because of it, and his current one is on the rocks, but it really comes back to haunt him when it turns out the killer is after him because he slept with his wife years ago, shortly before she left him and died in an accident.

Alternative Title(s): The Bridge

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/BronBroen