Cracked is a Canadian television series that started in 2013.It stars David Sutcliff as Detective Aiden Black, a SWAT officer suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who is transferred to the newly-formed Psych Crimes and Crisis Unit after an outburst involving barnyard noises in a diner. He and his new partner, forensic psychiatrist Dr. Daniella Ridley (Stefanie von Pfetten), and another pair consisting of Detective Poppy Wisnefski (Luisa D'Oliveira) and psychiatric nurse Leo Beckett (Dayo Ade) report to Inspector Diane Caligra (Karen LeBlanc) are called in to investigate any crime that seems likely to involve an emotionally disturbed person, whether as a perpetrator, victim, or witness. Resistant to the idea at first, Aiden slowly learns to appreciate the job and trust his partner, while trying to recover from the aftermath of two fatal shootings, and an ugly breakup with his girlfriend of three years, Detective Liz Liette (Mayko Nguyen).As of the start of Season 2, Daniella Ridley has left the show, and Aidan has been partnered with the younger Dr. Clara Malone (Brooke Nevin).
Cracked provides examples of the following tropes:
Action Girl: Poppy gets to demonstrate her action girl credentials on a number of occasions, most notably when she drops the perpetrator in the Season 1 finale with a single shot.
Alpha Bitch: The prime suspect in "Cherry Blossoms", who drove a fellow classmate to suicide and doesn't feel bad about it at all. She's drugged insensate by her victim's friends, and then killed by one of their mothers.
Ambiguous Disorder: Aiden Black. Several characters suggest he has PTSD, as well as some unspecified anxiety and mood problems, but no actual diagnosis is ever reached, despite his being interviewed by four different psychiatrists. Daniella calls him "cracked" in lieu of a real label.
Crown Attorney Houseman, who tries to destroy Aiden's reputation in "Inquest" in order to make her own career.
Averted by Aiden's attorney in the same episode, and by Michael from "The Fallen" who, despite being a bipolar psychotic is a very good attorney who completely changed the life of at least one of his clients (getting her off of drugs and into a college).
And Show It to You: Mandar Kush hits the worst of both tropes when he cuts out a man's heart and eats it in front of a crowd.
Answer Cut: Aiden is trying to talk a bipolar, underwear-clad rocker off a high walkway, so he asks what it will take to get him to come down. Cut to the rocker wearing Aiden's jacket and pants.
Antivillain: As people afflicted with mental illnesses, most perpetrators fall into this category, as much victims of their illness as the people they hurt.
Archangel Michael: Michael, the bipolar psychotic from "The Fallen" sees himself as Michael or a representative of him (it isn't clear) during a delusional phase, even thinking that the knife he's carrying is the archangel's Flaming Sword.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Aiden and Poppy arrest Mackenzie and Ian from "The Valley" on charges of "conspiracy to commit assault, aiding and abetting, obstruction of justice, outdoor drinking, littering, and dueling." No one but Aiden knew that the last charge was still on the books.
The Atoner: Mandar Kush from "No Traveller Returns", who deeply regrets the murder he committed while in the midst of a schizophrenic break with reality. He's now on a regime of medication that he can't go off of (he receives injections at a hospital and will be returned to the mental hospital if he misses an appointment) and believes he will have to spend the rest of his life making up for it.
Ax-Crazy: Despite what you might expect, the number of violently insane people on this show is relatively low. Most of the show's worst killers — Eliot from "The Light in Black" and the shooters from "The Tennants" & "Voices" are not insane.
Ken Hobart from "White Knight" is a definite case while under the influence of bath salts (regressing to a non-verbal, animalistic state).
As is Isabel from "Spirited Away" when during the throes of postpartum psychosis — she storms into her parents' house, brandishing a carpet knife, and planning to cut up her daughter.
Mandar Kush, paranoid a schizophrenic and cannibal who believed he was being haunted by demons might be the standout, though we only see him like this in flashback.
Aiden Black, in typical cop show fashion. Leo gets his moment when he subdues a knife and gun armed thug in "The Price", despite being unarmed.
Villainous example: the two shooters in "The Tennants" & "Voices" are detestable pricks who spend most of their time killing people who can't shoot back. But when the SWAT team interrupts their spree, they manage to take out the entire team in a matter of moments.
Badass Baritone: Leo has the lowest voice of any cast member, and as he proves in "The Price" can be quite the badass.
Michael from "The Fallen", Ken Hobart from "White Knight", and Mandar Kush from "No Traveller Returns" all have this look, but in a subversion are all deeply sorry after regaining their sanity, and in Michael's case, never hurt anybody in the first place.
Mongo Golding, a career criminal in "The Tennants" and "Voices" is a more typical example, but it's subverted when it is revealed that he doesn't want to be the way he is, and accepts Leo's offer to help him start over.
Blessing from "What We Can't See" takes a baseball bat to the other children who were harassing her, leaving five kids with seventeen broken bones, and giving one boy a concussion.
Ed Janoski of "The Hold Out" assaults developer Damien Trombley with one when he believes Trombley is responsible for killing his dog.
Beard of Evil: Eliot from "The Light in Black" has a classic one. One of the shooters in "Voices" has an ugly, unkempt mess of one.
Benevolent Boss: Inspector Caligra certainly does her best to protect both Aiden and the Psych Crimes unit as a whole, and makes an impassioned defence of them in "Inquest".
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Dr. Sean McCray comes off as affable on the surface, but is a jackass under the surface, with Daniella eventually concluding he is a narcissist. Eliot from "The Light in Black" is a far more extreme example, being a Nice Guy on top, and a psychopath underneath.
Played straight by Erin from "White Knight", an insane stalker, histrionic personality, and Green-Eyed Monster.
Played with in the case of Esme from "The Light in Black" who was cheating on her husband, but is still visibly horrified by his murder.
Averted in the cases of Daniella Ridley and Clara Malone, who are both fundamentally good people with the best intentions of their patients at heart.
The Brute: Mongo Golding from "The Tennants" & "Voices" is a giant man, with a lengthy criminal record, who does most of his thinking with his fists. He beats the tar out of both Herman Strunk and Andrew Sharp, and tries to pick a fight with Aiden and Leo when they come to question him. It's eventually revealed that his recent behaviour has been because he is getting evicted and knows he has no life skills beyond hurting people. Leo sets him up with a job in a warehouse that employs ex-cons.
The Bully: Schoolyard bullying plays a major role in "What We Can't See", while the teenaged variant shows up in "Cherry Blossoms."
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Aiden is an extremely talented police officer but prone to unpredictable outbursts, which results in his transfer to a unit where he'll be partnered with a psychiatrist who can keep her eye on him.
Child Soldiers: In "Faces" we meet Ben Omari, a grown-up child soldier from the Democratic Republic of the Congo turned attempted murderer, who works over his former commanding officer with a knife. Given what said officer forced him to do, he's pretty justified.
Conflicting Loyalty: Daniella is asked by Calligra, her friend and superior, to report to her on Aiden, her partner. She struggles with it but eventually agrees, which comes back to bite her when it's revealed.
The Corrupter: Idaris John, alias Melungo the Wizard, who makes a habit out of convincing children and teenagers to turn murderer for him.
Corruption of a Minor: Idaris John/Melungo the Wizard from "Faces", who abducted and trained child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, forcing them to kill other children, and getting them addicted to drugs and alcohol as part of the process. After coming to Toronto he continues the process with a girl named Julia Grieveson, hooking her on marijuana, cocaine, crack, and meth, forcing her to kill small animals, and finally convincing her to commit a murder.
Cult: "What We Can't See" features is a cult led by a pathological narcissist who has convinced his followers that they are going to be taken to a better place by aliens.
Da Chief: Inspector Diane Caligra plays this role to Aiden and the rest of the unit.
Daddy Issues: Eliot from "The Light in Black" was shipped off to boarding school in Europe by his father, who later paid him to stay away. As Eliot comments "Thanks to him I missed my own mother's funeral. When he died last year I made sure to come back for his."
Death Seeker: The shooters in "The Tennants" & "Voices" are both looking to die. When one of them fails to commit suicide, he tries to force Aiden, and then the SWAT team to kill him.
Defective Detective: Aiden has aspects of PTSD along with possible unspecified mood and anxiety disorders. Poppy's father, a long term cop who may be developing Alzheimer's, is in the same boat.
Demoted to Extra: Detective Liz Liette, Aiden's ex-girlfriend, was in the opening credits in Season 1 and featured in numerous episodes. In Season 2 she's been removed from the credits and shows up less regularly.
Disposable Vagrant: Mackenzie and Ian from "The Valley" believe that homeless men are "garbage" and use offers of money and booze to bribe them into starring in their Internet Gladiator Games.
Happens to Daniella Ridley in both "The Fallen" and "The Light in Black", requiring Aiden to rescue her the first time, and in a twist, Poppy to bail her out the second time. Neither of these incidents could remotely be considered Daniella's fault; both times she just had the bad luck to be visiting someone who, despite their having no apparent involvement in the case, turned out to be the perpetrator.
In "White Knight" something similar happens to Detective Liette when she's taken captive by Aiden's stalker, Erin.
The girl from "Cherry Blossoms" offed herself due to torment from her classmates.
In "The Valley" it's revealed that Simon Kelley killed himself.
Liette believes that this will eventually happen to Aiden.
Drugs Are Bad: Bath salts certainly are, as evidenced by Ken Hobart's psychotic break after he takes some in "White Knight." He ends up running around half naked, assaulting and biting a teenager, and then bashing a man's skull in with a pipe. "Faces" sees Melungo using drugs to make his victims more pliable.
The perpetrator from "How the Light Gets In" commits all of his crimes in the name of saving his mother's life.
Eliot from "The Light in Black" seems genuinely angry over having missed his mother's funeral.
Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Many of the perpetrators have family that they care about, but given that they are, for the most part, delusional, or otherwise mentally impaired, calling them "evil" would be unfair.
Eliot from "The Light in Black" seems to be upset about missing his mother's funeral, and may actually care about his sister and niece; at the very least, Daniella notes he'd never hurt them.
Nolan from "Swans" is a dangerous offender with a lengthy rapsheet, but does care about his mentally ill girlfriend, Emily, who returns the favour.
Evil Brit: Mandar Kush has the accent, but none of the actual evil, having been legally insane at the time of his (admittedly horrifying) crime.
Evil Cripple: Pete Kovacs from "Old Soldiers" is a one-handed Afghan veteran turned robber with a bad case of PTSD and a violent streak.
Evil Duo: The shooters from "The Tennants" & "Voices", a pair of video game obsessed shut-ins, who think they can become famous by massacring their apartment building. The older one with the beard is clearly in charge, and is far more gungho about it, dragging the younger one along for the ride.
Evil Genius: Eliot from "The Light in Black" graduated in the top five percent, and repeatedly demonstrates just how bright he is.
Evil Uncle: Averted by Eliot from "The Light in Black". His liking for his niece is one of his few good traits.
Final Boss: Psychopath Eliot is this for Season 1.
Five-Token Band: Justified, as the cast work for the police department in Canada's largest and most comopolitan city. Aiden's white, Daniella and later Clara are the white female, Leo's a black man, Inspector Caligra a gay black woman, and Poppy's actress is of mixed white, Asian, Mediterannean, Indian, and Hispanic descent, though the character's ancestry is unknown.
For the Evulz: The shooters in "The Tennants" & "Voices", who are aiming to hurt as many people as possible so that they can become famous.
The Fundamentalist: Marcie from "What We Can't See" is a fundamentalist cultist who believes that aliens are going to come and take her away, and raises her daughters to believe the same thing.
Gentle Giant: Leo is a tall, muscular black man with a shaved head. He's also the nicest, most emotionally stable guy on the show.
Gladiator Games: "The Valley" has a pair of teenage boys who get homeless men to fight one another for the entertainment of paying customers on the Internet.
Erin from "White Knight" is an obsessive stalker who becomes insanely jealous when the object of her affections (Aiden) rebuffs her or shows interest in another woman. This results in her taking Detective Liette hostage.
The victim from "The Light in Black" was also prone to jealousy, but being a moron, directed his envy at his wife's brother rather than her boyfriend.
The Greys: Referenced by the cult in "What We Can't See".
Hallucinations: Michael from "The Fallen", Mandar Kush from "No Traveller Returns", the mother and daughter duo from "What We Can't See", Isabel from "Spirited Away" and several other schizophrenics, bipolars, and psychotics all see things that aren't there.
The schizophrenic perpetrator from "How the Light Gets In" heard the voice of a doctor telling him that he could save his mother by stealing the energy from other people.
Michael, a bipolar psychotic from "The Fallen" hears voices and sees things that convince him The End of the World as We Know It has arrived, and that he must gather an arsenal to battle Satan with.
Mandar Kush, the paranoid schizophrenic from "No Traveller Returns", heard voices that told him demons were coming for he and his son Arun, and that he had to fend them off, leading to his spectacular murder of Peter Fong.
"Voices" has Mark, a schizophrenic boy whose voices have become so bad, and who is so prone to auditory hallucinations, that he can no longer tell which voices are in his head, and which belong to the people around him.
The Heart: The role of the psychiatrist and the nurse on the team, acting as the compassionate counterparts to the more cynical and punishment-prone cops.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Tall, muscular Leo is partnered with Poppy, the smallest woman in the unit, who is petite and young-looking enough to pass for a teenager.
I Have Brothers: Poppy is the only girl in a family of four boys, at least one of which is a cop, all raised by their cop dad. She's a physically assertive, slightly tomboyish detective and is seen roughhousing with one of her brothers.
I Just Want to Be Badass: A dark interpretation with the shooters from "The Tennants" & "Voices", who go on a killing spree to prove their masculinity and hopefully get famous.
I'm a Humanitarian: Mandar Kush cut out a man's heart and ate it. In his defence, he believed that the man in question was a demon, and that only by eating his heart could he ensure that he stayed dead and stopped posing a threat to his son.
Insane Equals Violent: Averted. Most of the mentally ill people shown are acting violently, but only because the taskforce is called in on police incidents involving emotionally unstable people. In the second episode, despite finding a knife-waving bipolar man covered in a murdered woman's blood, they don't think he killed her. He didn't. There are also several cases in which the insane person is the victim, which tends to be true in real life.
Insanity Defense: Many of the perpetrators on the show would be eligible for the defense. Mandar Kush from "No Traveller Returns" did use the defense, and has spent eleven years in a psychiatric institution as a result.
Kick the Dog: The second shooter's killing of Mrs. Fincher in "Voices" just to prove he had the spine to commit a murder.
Kick the Son of a Bitch: One of the victims in the shooting in "Voices" is Andrew Sharp from "The Tennants" who pimped out his girlfriend to the landlord. Said landlord himself is killed at the joint start of "The Tennants" & "Voices", and is also a case of this.
Kids Are Cruel: "What We Can't See" revolves around an investigation into the actions of an elementary school girl who snapped and assaulted her taunting classmates with a baseball bat.
Dominic Lazlo, a schizophrenic man who boards a schoolbus armed with a kitchen knife, stabs the busdriver to death, and then cuts the throat of a boy hostage during his death throes.
Michael from "The Fallen" and Mandar Kush from "No Traveller Returns" are also fond of knives, and Eliot uses one on Daniella during "The Light in Black".
Knight In Sour Armour: Aiden will always do the right thing, but he'll be cynical, bitter, and sarcastic while he does it.
Loners Are Freaks: The way the rest of the tennants in, well, "The Tennants", treat their autistic neighbour. They should, it turns out, have been treating two of their other neighbours, who actually are sociopathic killers this way.
Manipulative Bastard: Narcissist Sean McCray and psychopath Eliot both have a go at this. Of the two Eliot is by far the better.
The Mentally Disturbed: Goes without saying given the premise of the show. So far we've seen schizophrenics, bipolars, a variety of paranoids, Tourettes' syndrome, an obsessive woman with histrionic features, PTSD, post-partum psychosis, and one bona fide psychopath.
Mugging the Monster: The rapist in "Night Terrors" goes after a pretty, petite world-class triathlete who wakes up, grabs a baseball bat, and repeatedly bashes him with it while screaming at him to get out of her house. He's badly bruised enough that it helps the police recognize him, while she doesn't have a scratch on her.
"Joy" the cult leader from "What We Can't See", who maintains absolute control over his deluded followers as a way of nursing his own ego.
After the events of "Inquest", Daniella comes to see Sean as one.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Mandar Kush, the schizophrenic Toronto sidewalk murderer and cannibal from "No Traveller Returns" (who cut out a man's heart and ate it because he thought God told him he was a Hindu demon) is a fairly obvious stand-in for schizophrenic Winnipeg bus murderer and cannibal Vince Li (who decapitated a man and ate part of him because he thought God told him the man was an alien invader), from their status as immigrants, to the nature of their crime, right down to the eventual recovery and remorse.
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: In "The Light in Black" Eliot kills two of his victims this way, and then moves on to Daniella.
"The Tennants" features a girl with a bad case of Asperger's Syndrome, whose ability to interact with others is virtually nonexistent.
Several schizophrenics featured on the show are in a similar boat, while Trey from "Spirited Away" is a milder example — he has social skills, but his Tourettes means that his best efforts often fail despite that.
Non-Action Guy: Subverted by Leo. As a psychiatric nurse he has no reason to be a badass. This doesn't stop him from clobbering a gun and knife-wielding hitman in "The Price".
Offing the Offspring: Isabel/Hayley from "Spirited Away" believes her daughter has a listening device implanted in her chest, and plans to cut it out with a carpet knife in order to save the secrets of the entire world.
Only Sane Man: Downplayed. Leo Beckett is probably the most rational member of the cast. However, none of the others are idiots.
Outlaw Couple: "Swans" has former teen delinquent Nolan and mental patient Emily whom he breaks out of the psyche ward so they can get married. It's a far less romantic version than most though — the attraction clearly isn't healthy, Nolan spirals out of control quickly, and in the end Emily is brought to the conclusion that they belong in prison.
Papa Wolf: Mandar Kush, a schizophrenic who butchered a man in the street and ate his heart because he believed the man was a Hindu demon and posed a threat to his son, Arun.
Parental Abandonment: More than a few perpetrators have this in their backstories. "Spirited Away" focuses around a teen mother suffering from postpartum psychosis who abandons her infant in a public park.
Put on a Bus: Daniella goes on a leave of absence to meet the son she gave up for adoption, and decides to stay near him. This comes right after she and Aiden had decided to try and repair their working relationship, so it definitely stands out.
Rescue Romance: Subverted in "White Knight" when a woman named Erin develops a crush on Aiden after he saves her life. She's eventually revealed to be an obsessive histrionic personality with a lengthy history of restraining orders being filed against her, and snaps when Aiden refuses to return her affections.
Serial Killer: The perpetrator from "How the Light Gets In" was well on his way. A schizophrenic who believed that he could save his mother's life by ramming light bulbs into the chests of his victims, draining their energy, and then injecting said energy into his mother, he had killed one boy, failed to break into a second house, and was in the midst of trying to claim a third victim when Aiden stopped him.
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Ian and Mackenzie from "The Valley" think that this applies to them, and their fathers' money will get them out of anything, even running an underground fighting ring. Aiden proves them wrong.
Aiden. This show being what it is, it's carefully examined by other characters who note that he doesn't have all the symptoms of PTSD.
In "Old Soldiers" we meet a support group of shellshocked Afghan vets, one of whom robbed a bank, then suffered a flashback and opened fire in the middle of the street. He's eventually talked down by one of his old comrades-in-arms who is also in need of serious mental help.
"Faces" introduces us to Benjamin Omari, a shellshocked former child soldier who knifed his one-time commander with and later joins Aiden's support group.
We later meet Lazarus Keafe, a man of native descent, whose great-great-grandfather took him up north to live far away from the rest of humanity, and only spoke Cree. When we meet Lazarus he's barely holding it together, is unable to communicate, and is experiencing flashbacks and hallucinations, not because of any one traumatic event, but because of the strain of his life experience as a whole, and being able to speak only in a dead language in particular.
The Shrink: Forensic psychiatrists Daniella Ridley and Clara Malone, and psychiatric nurse Leo Beckett, of the Awesome variety. Aiden's instincts are almost as good, but he's closer to the Warrior Therapist.
Eliot, the villain of the season one finale is a diagnosed psychopath with a string of murders behind him. While easily the worst of the show's villains (thus far), he's still treated as an actual person.
The two shooters in "The Tennants" & "Voices" are likely psychopaths as well, going on a murder spree in an effort to become famous.
Stalker with a Crush: Erin from "White Knight" who has a history of developing obsessions with men she meets and harassing them, as she proceeds to do to Aiden.
Stepford Snarker: Aiden. His tendency to deflect with jokes led to his long-time girlfriend leaving him.
Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: In the climax of the pilot episode, Aiden puts a gun to his own head to talk down a schizophrenic who is about to stab himself.
Suicide by Cop: Several villains try this, but are normally talked down.
Suicide, Not Murder: The solution in "The Valley". Simon Kelley killed himself, but his mother, who was having a nervous breakdown, came by afterwards and cleaned up, destroying the evidence, and (unintentionally) making it look like a murder because she "couldn't bear to leave him like that."
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Age gap aside, Clara Malone certainly looks a hell of a lot like Daniella Ridley, and plays the same role on the show. Whether her personality will be revealed to be different later on, of course, remains to be seen.
Sympathetic Murderer: Plenty, from a schizophrenic who thought that he could save his mother's life by killing others through a rock star who killed his friend after he found out his son was actually the friend's, through a shellshocked Afghan vet who would rather go out in a blaze of glory than deal with his PTSD.
Taking the Bullet: Mandar Kush tries to do this at the end of "No Traveller Returns", shoving Daniella behind him as a car hurtles towards them.
Talking to Themself: Most of the show's schizophrenics will carry on conversations with their voices.
Talking the Monster to Death: A theme in the show, with Aiden and his partner taking turns talking down various mentally ill people; it's Clara's success at this in "Swans" that convinces him she might make a good replacement for Daniella. In "Old Soldiers", Jessie, a badly damaged Afghan veteran does this for his old comrade Pete Kovacs.
"Cherry Blossoms" has a teenage girl Driven to Suicide by bullying from the Alpha Bitch, who is characterised as a sociopath with a penchant for underage drinking. Said Alpha Bitch is subsequently the victim of a practical joke turned lethal from the suicide victim's friends.
There's also teen mother Isabel from "Spirited Away" who is simply insane, though she's counterbalanced by the presence of the young man with Tourettes' syndrome who looked after her child when he found it.
"The Valley" features Ian St. Clair and Mackenzie, a pair of rich teenage boys who convince homeless men to fight each other, then film it and put it up on a pay website; they consider the homeless beneath themselves, and have no issues exploiting them for profit.
"Faces" has sixteen-year-old Julia Grieveson, who murdered her former psychiatrist under orders from Congolese war criminal Idaris John, who also got her addicted to drugs and forced her to kill small animals.
There Are No Therapists: Averted and defied. In addition to the main character being in therapy and partnered with a psychiatrist who is supposed to keep an eye on him (and she herself is also seeing a shrink), two of the main characters are psychiatrists, and the unit's purpose is to deal with crimes likely to involve mentally ill people and ensure their fair treatment.
There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Mandar Kush from "No Traveller Returns" stabbed a man over a hundred times, cut out his heart, and then ate it, just to make sure he would not return from the dead (he thought the man was a demon).
Title Drop: Danielle diagnoses Aiden as "cracked" at the end of the first episode, complete with meaningful pause.
Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Aiden is forced to ride pantsless in the elevator with Danielle and the bipolar rock star he had to give his pants to. Everyone but the rocker carefully pretends it's all normal, while the rocker is in a manic phase and cheerfully oblivious.
White Male Lead: Aiden Black, the lead character, and only white man in a cast that otherwise includes two white women, one gay black woman, and a black man.
Working with the Ex: Aiden and Daniella both have to do this in Season 1: he with ex-girlfriend Liz Liette, and she with ex-boyfriend Sean McCray.
Sean cheated on his wife with Daniella, which should have been a tip off to her that he was a bastard.
In "The Light in Black", suspect Esme cheats on her husband, Oscar, with his boss whenver she gets home from a trip.
Annalise from "Rocket Man" cheated on her boyfriend (and later husband) with rockstar Billy, and then on Billy with his parter Max. Somehow we're supposed to find both she and Esme sympathetic.
In "Hideaway" we find out that Leo slept with his friend's girlfriend shortly after highschool and before her marriage. Given that her boyfriend (now husband) is a Control Freak and general jerkass, it's a lot easier to swallow.