Series / Foyle's War

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The main cast. Left to right - Samantha Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks), Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) and Paul Milner (Anthony Howell)
"All illegal. All morally unacceptable. How would you like to justify it?"
"Necessities of war, Mr. Foyle — in which there is no morality."
— "The French Drop"

British crime drama, debuted in 2002, starring Michael Kitchen as DCS Christopher Foyle, a high-ranking detective in Hastings during World War II. When his requests for transfer into the war effort are denied, the modest, mild-tempered Foyle begrudgingly returns to his duties on the Home Front, only to find that his job is more in-demand than ever, as people all over are taking advantage of the panic, confusion and chaos caused by the outbreak of war to try and get away with murder — in many cases literally.

Foyle is assisted in his investigations by his driver, Samantha Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks), a perky Mechanized Transport Corps (MTC) officer transferred to the police for the duration owing to Foyle's inabilitynote  to drive, not an uncommon thing then, and who eagerly involves herself — at times to Foyle's exasperation — in the investigations that arise, and his sergeant, Paul Milner, an ex-soldier who rejoined the police after his leg was shot off during the Battle of Norway. Another recurring character was Foyle's son Andrew, a dashing Spitfire pilot with the RAF.

The show often attempts to subvert the traditional myth of wartime Britain as a place where everyone pulled together for the common good, showing how scheming, cowardly, cynical and desperate people at the time could be, and the various ethical and moral dilemmas that fighting against the Nazis raised; a common theme raised in the series is the ethics of police work and crime during wartime, with many of the more cynical characters querying the validity of investigating seemingly trivial crimes (and even murder), during a war that killed thousands every day. As such, along with the murders and intrigues standard for the genre, early episodes in particular often focus on draft-dodgers, fascist sympathizers, black-marketeers, looters from bombed-out houses, the unfair treatment of conscientious objectors, homosexuals, enemy aliens and so forth. Episodes are often themed around a particular event or issue that occurred during the war (such as the Blitz, Dunkirk, the entry of the Russians and the Americans into the war and the secret weapons and tactics employed by the British during the time), with Foyle often coming into conflict with both higher-ups and Secret Service operatives when his investigations begin to touch upon matters which the War Office would prefer were kept secret.

When ITV decided to stop making the series and make two final episodes, one each for 1944 and 1945, there was rather a lot of complaints — series creator Anthony Horowitz certainly wasn't happy. In the event it was not only given a concluding season, ending on V-E Day, but subsequently renewed for three more seasons set in the war's aftermath; in the final two seasons, Foyle, having retired from the police force, is recruited by MI5 and becomes involved in the early days of the Cold War.

Provides examples of:

  • Accidental Innuendo: In "Broken Souls," Brooks asks Sam to dig in her bottom (dresser) drawer for loose change for his football pool. She replies she has no drawers, top or bottom. Then they both burst out giggling.
  • Ace Pilot: Andrew and his friends.
  • Adult Fear: Foyle doesn't prevent Andrew from joining the RAF with its incredibly high casualty rate, but at one point he tells him quite matter-of-factly that he'd be quite happy if Andrew never got into a plane again.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Foyle is incensed that Sam went snooping around in the fuel depot's office and almost got killed by a bomb.
  • Ascended Extra: Hilda Pierce first appeared as a one-off character in the second season, and made enough of an impression that she was brought back for a couple more appearances during the war years. With the post-war shift of focus to the secret service, she became a regular character and was central to the plot of the final episode.
  • Asshole Victim
  • The Atoner: Hilda Pierce in "Elise", after realizing who was responsible for the agents' deaths in France during the war.
  • Ax-Crazy: The culprit in "Bleak Midwinter" murders and causes the deaths of the people that might implicate him in a safe breaking scheme to avoid the attention of the police including his girlfriend, Milner's wife and, unwittingly, his partner in crime; the deaths are what bring the police towards him and in a last crazy attempt to get away, he tries to blow himself up alongside Foyle and a hostage with nitroglycerin that his girlfriend stole, not knowing that she had to denaturalize the compound to be able to move it safely. Truth in Television regarding the nitroglycerin, considering that a compound so unstable should not be shaken as vigorously as the culprit did, a fact which tipped up Foyle regarding its safety.
  • Babies Ever After:
    • "All Clear", intended at the time to be the final episode, has a subplot about Milner's wife giving birth to their first child.
    • "Elise", the actual final episode (so far), ends with Sam informing Foyle that she's pregnant and inviting him to be the child's godfather.
  • Back for the Dead
  • Badass Grandpa: While never actually beating anyone up himself, whenever someone says something particularly immoral you know that Foyle is about to open a can of verbal whupass on that poor idiot.
    • Supported in the episode "Fifty Ships", when Foyle took out a looting firefighter with one well-placed haymaker.
    • Also supported by how protective he is of Sam — on one occasion he chewed out his successor for not showing due respect, for not teaching his subordinate to show due respect, and for upsetting Sam.
    • Plus, y'know, the fact that he's a veteran of the Great War, who was promoted through the ranks because there was no one else left alive to lead.
  • Badass Longcoat: Foyle has a cool looking brown jacket he wears throughout the series.
  • Bath Suicide: Dr. Novak attempts this after learning that his family died in the concentration camps. Foyle and Milner find him in time.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Major Wesker in "Killing Time". He pretends to be sympathetic to Gabe Kelly and his girlfriend Mandy Dean, saying he'll help them get married and start a life in America. Instead we find out he never intended to help, and in addition to stringing them along blackmailed Mandy for sex before murdering her and framing Gabe when she tried to turn the tables.
  • Behind Every Great Man: Hilda Pierce is the real power in MI5. Lampshaded by the Americans in "Sunflower."
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Foyle is often underestimated as a kindly-looking father figure type, but he never compromises his moral convictions.
    • Most culprits in the series fit this description, as well as some of the not-quite-so harmless victims.
  • Big Eater: Sam.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Sunflower." Foyle successfully hands Strasser over to the Americans, Adam exposes his boss' machinations, and Sam is pregnant. But in the process, Foyle and Valentine destroy their careers in intelligence, Adam loses his party's confidence, and if Foyle is out of a job, then so is Sam.
    • The series finale, "Elise." Sam finally tells Foyle about the pregnancy and asks him to be godfather. However, Hilda Pierce commits suicide, taking Ian Woodhead with her, and Foyle's trust in Elizabeth Addis has been destroyed.
  • Black Market: Everything from food to lumber and metal to silk stockings.
  • Black Market Produce: In "Bleak Midwinter", set in rationing-bound World War II England, Foyle busts an operation that's been smuggling restricted food, leading to a subplot for the rest of the episode about who's going to end up with the food once it's done being held as evidence.
    • Comes up again in "Elise," where the police show no interest in prosecuting black marketeers after the war. It helps that Chief Superintendent Usborne is profiting from the arrangement.
  • Black Shirt: In "Trespass", a former member of Mosley's black shirts was attempting to start up a similar organisation in post-war Britain. Although he claims to be in favour of a single European givernment, in his first speech he reveals it will be a Europe free of Jews, Slavs and other 'undesirables'. He whips a mob into a frenzy where they murder a pair of harmless Polish refugees in the mistaken belief they are Jewish.
  • Blitz Evacuees: Frequently. "The Funk Hole" involves seditious (that is, utterly despairing) comments in an air raid shelter that are misattributed to Foyle. By Inspector Collier, who arranges the whole misunderstanding to exact revenge on a warden named Vaudrey whose inattention left two hundred evacuees stranded in a school that was bombed—among whom were Collier's mother and sister.
  • Bluffing the Murderer
  • Bomb Disposal: "War of Nerves" involves an engineering squad that travels around detonating unexploded bombs. Their leader says that the Germans have now begun deliberately dropping bombs that won't go off in hopes of killing the men sent to deal with them.
  • Brick Joke: Sam's uncle's green wine.
  • British Brevity: The longest seasons are only four (movie-length) episodes each. The shortest is two.
  • Bury Your Gays: Andrew's friend Rex is forced to admit to Foyle that he's gay (and in love with Andrew) and dies on a mission shortly thereafter. It's implied this was suicide; Andrew describes watching his plane go down and being surprised not to see him bail out. The only other time homosexuality is mentioned, the guy in question is already dead... until "The Eternity Ring", where one of Foyle's MI5 handlers turns out to be gay, and survives the episode — with an undeserved beating, but also with career intact.
  • Cassandra Truth: Andrew Del Mar in "High Castle" is a nasty old man, a racist, and a war criminal who provided material assistance to the Nazis. However, whenever his son ignores his insights, things go badly. Among other things, the younger Del Mar would not have been murdered by a Soviet assassin had he followed his father's advice.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Foyle will usually introduce himself to others with something along the lines of "My name's Foyle, I'm a policeman." (In the later seasons, after he's retired from the police force and been recruited by MI5, introductions instead often feature the exchange "What's your interest? Are you a policeman?" "Something like that.")
    • "...Right," is also Foyle's preferred pat response to anyone being abrasive, controversial or evasive on first meeting him. If he's being shuffled around by bureaucratic oversight or told a case is falling out of his jurisdiction, you can expect this word to fall out of his mouth. Given his need to be an unflappable, cool-headed policeman, it's to be expected.
  • Child Soldiers: A young British man who is the son of a businessman seeking to become a prospective Nazi profiteer, is revealed to have spent time in Germany when Hitler rose to power; he has multiple Nazi memorabilia, including a picture where he is shown to have been part of the Hitler Youth.
  • Chute Sabotage: In "They Fought in the Fields", a German airman is found dead because his chute failed to open. Later events in the episode reveal that he grabbed the parachute intended for the plane's RADAR operator, which had been sabotaged so as to preserve the secrecy of German RADAR systems.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: The commander of the prison camp exclaims "Bloody 'ell, I need a smoke," when informed that one of his prisoners has been murdered.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Reginald Walker from "War Games".
  • Cut Himself Shaving (with Lampshade Hanging)
  • Da Chief: Inverts the stereotype in that Foyle never loses his temper.
  • Dead-Hand Shot: The unfortunate smuggler whose lorry—carrying barrels of gasoline—explodes at the start of "Among the Few". The fire mostly obscures his head and shoulders, but his hideously burned hand is fully visible on the wheel.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Foyle is the master of the well-timed cutting remark. For those criminals who earn his contempt rather than his sympathy he gives a pretty good Death Glare as well.
  • Death Faked for You: Karl Strasser's "murder" in "Sunflower," arranged by British Intelligence so they can sneak him out of the country.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: "Enemy Fire" examines the changing attitudes towards combat stress, fatigue, and trauma through a Shell-Shocked Veteran from WWI and Andrew Foyle's development into one as a pilot. The veteran was actually being blackmailed by someone who knew he'd shot himself in the foot because he couldn't take the horror anymore. In contrast, Andrew's commander promotes Andrew out of the flying service into a instructor position, understanding and empathetic to the fact that he's gone past what he can mentally endure.
  • Dirty Cop: Chief Superintendent Usborne in the final season.
  • Dirty Old Man: Mr. Bennett, the man who runs the fuel depot in "Among the Few," likes to get overly friendly with his female workers and ogles them through the blinds of his office. Which is why his wife plans to frame him for racketeering.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Justified, as it's times of war, so the punishments are greater. Although most of the culprits know that they are going to be punished for their misdeeds or are only tangentially related to the crime, Foyle usually lets them know of how much they are underestimating the charges they are about to face, which are usually much, much graver than the culprits initially thought; in a couple of instances, Foyle argues logically for the charges and tells the culprits that they're going to face the death penalty, much to their surprise.
  • Does Not Like Men: Barbara in "They Fought in the Fields." She had been married to an abusive husband. However, befriending Foyle and discussing their losses (her a son, him his wife) softens her cynicism.
  • Doubling for London: Most of the exteriors in the London-set series 8 are shot in Dublin.
  • Draft Dodging: Featured several times. One episode featured a man with a heart condition who ran a racket where he would turn up at the medical exam of someone who had been called up, claiming to be that person, and fail due to his heart condition, thereby allowing them to avoid conscription.
  • Driven to Suicide: Loads of people. Foyle particularly gets a lot of crooks to commit suicide after he lays out their schemes shattered before them.
  • Dude, Not Funny!:
    • In-universe; Foyle does not like people making jokes about murder. For example, in the first episode, the victim's rather spoiled step-daughter makes a rather snide crack about her being dead, prompting Foyle to bluntly explain to her precisely how gruesome and agonising her death would have been. The step-daughter promptly looks rather ashamed. And ill.
    • A fellow patrolman frames Milner for the murder of his wife as "a prank" because he considered him "stuffy". He was more than willing to take Milner's job after badmouthing him in Foyle's presence until the latter confronted him. According to the patrolman, he unwittingly let things balloon, but he wouldn't ultimately let Milner go to the gallows as the culprit. Unsuprisingly, Foyle drops the book on him.
  • Eagleland:
    • The ugly American stereotype is inverted with Major John Kiefer, a highly professional officer who goes to great lengths to break down the barriers between his men and the locals. When we encounter him again in "All Clear" being openly rude to his British allies, it's a clue that something is seriously wrong.
    • Inverted again in "Sunflower," where the Americans are very much in the right about Karl Strasser.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: A captured Nazi spy who has witnessed a murder is convinced to help Foyle, despite having every reason not to want to do with him or his case, because Foyle appeals to his sense of justice; what he saw was nothing to do with the war, but murder plain and simple.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Mr. Bishop, Howard Paige's handler, is fairly disgusted with his charge but as exposing Paige as a fraud and a murderer would create a scandal that would scuttle the effort to bring America into the war, so he will have to very apologetically keep Foyle from arresting him.
  • Evolving Credits: The opening titles for the post-War/Cold War seasons, and associated arrangement of the theme music, are noticeably darker and less upbeat than the War years.
  • External Combustion: A grenade wired to the steering wheel and rigged to explode when the door is opened is used to kill a former Nazi in "Sunflower". Or so it seems. Actually, the explosion was used to fake his death.
  • False Flag Operation: In "Trespass", a British government black ops unit blows up ships earmarked to carry Jewish refugees to Palestine, posing as an Arab terrorist organisation called the Friends of Arab Palestine.
  • A Father to His Men: In "Elise," Ian Woodhead complains that Hilda Pierce was emotionally invested in her female agents, which is confirmed during the flashbacks. As we discover, Woodhead was responsible for getting several of those agents killed.
  • Fanservice: In the episode "The Russian House" Detective Foyle examines the studio of a recently murdered artist Sam was working for. Apparently he was going to paint her nude and Foyle finds the complete pencils. Honeysuckle Weeks expression during the scene is priceless.
  • Find the Cure: "Bad Blood" involves Sam getting anthrax when she cuts her hand on an infected farm. Once Foyle works out that it came from an Army experiment, he marches into their office and threatens to return with more police, more Army officials, and most especially the press unless they give him and antidote. The major's underlings, who have already argued with him over the wisdom of their experiments, give him a bottle of streptomycin but they warn him that it's not guaranteed to cure her, just that it might help. Fortunately, it does.
  • Flashback Effects: The flashbacks in "Elise" use an inversion of Monochrome Past, being brighter and more colorful than the scenes set in the drab present.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: In backstory; when Foyle was a soldier during the First World War, he had a relationship with a woman who had nursed him after he was injured.
  • Foreshadowing: Collier's refrain of "war does different things to different people" whenever anyone tries to protest that Foyle would never commit sedition. He's referring to himself, losing his family when a simple lapse in paperwork stranded them in a bad air-raid shelter. His final repetition of the line, after Foyle sums up his murder of Vaudrey, ends with "look what it's done to me."
  • For Want of a Nail: In "Broken Souls." Dr. Novak had invited Foyle to join him at the movies, and Foyle declined. When Novak left early—unable to watch the newsreel footage from the concentration camps—he ran into an German POW who knocked him over and, in a moment of rage, killed him. When Foyle delivers his quiet summation, Novak uses this as another point when chance altered his life forever; if Foyle had been there with him, it would not have happened (although he does not try to cast responsibility onto Foyle).
  • Gargle Blaster: A very serious version in "Invasion" with a pub that makes industrial-grade alcohol into whiskey for people who are tired of the weaker beer found under rationing—which is not safe no matter how you dilute or distill it. It severely sickens an American soldier, and it's the reason Milner's friend died. The alcohol made him blind so that he couldn't find the key to escape from a burning room.
  • Genre Savvy: Hilda Pierce of MI5 knows all too well about men like Foyle, who are relentless investigators and unbending straight arrows. None of her superiors believe her warnings regarding Foyle and they all pay the price. Though generally unwilling, Pierce always finds herself helping Foyle even when she's supposed to be hindering him.
  • "Get out of Jail Free" Card: Many of the murderers are somehow essential to the war effort and use this to wriggle out of a well-deserved punishment. Not surprisingly, there are frequent Karma Houdinis.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Karl Strasser in "Sunflower," on the evil end of the scale.
  • Gossip Evolution: Milner's argument with his wife in "Bleak Midwinter" somehow turns into a "violent" altercation by the time it reaches Foyle's office, according to the witnesses in the Cafe.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: A running theme of the series is that people on the Allied side, whether ordinary citizens or officials, did plenty of awful things too. Sometimes they're bad people taking the opportunity of war to cover their tracks, sometimes they've broken under the strain or personal tragedy, and numerous individuals try to argue with Foyle that the war and Britain's interests justify or necessitate their actions (be it covering up a spy's death from incompetent intelligence-gathering or deliberately cultivating anthrax). While he is sometimes overruled by higher-ranking officials, he never agrees that such immorality can be accepted.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.:
    • Milner in the first episode and Andrew in "Enemy Fire".
    • DCS Meredith is in one throughout the episode he is featured in, out of grief as he lost his two sons in the war.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: Foyle enjoys fly-fishing; He and Major Kiefer get to enjoy a brief respite from their respective duties, and form a friendship, while enjoying a brief fishing trip. Which presumably also supplements their rationed diet, into the bargain.
  • The Home Front: Provides examples of everything listed on the trope page, from intelligence organizations to the removal of roadsigns on the South Coast.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Many a culprit will say something along these lines to justify what they did. In many cases they're entirely justified, but had no right to commit the crime nor they had a blanket under the excuse of the war going on, which is the whole purpose of the series.
  • I Have No Son:
    • Subverted: Foyle calls a man out on getting a magistrate to give his son undeserved conscientious-objector status, and the man tells him how he knew his son was just scared to fight, was disgusted, and in fact went to the magistrate to tell him not to believe him, but was unsuccessful and now considers himself to "have no son"; in the end it turns out this is all bullshit and it was just as Foyle thought.
    • A woman with a German cousin (and spy) assists him in reaching shore by light signals, because he's family. After Foyle reveals this, her husband is so disgusted that he strikes her and declares that while he won't divorce her, he will never acknowledge her existence again—if she says something he will ignore it, if she enters a room he will leave it.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Carlo Lucciano, an Italian restauranteur and Foyle's old friend, is quite loyal to his adopted country, disgusted with what's going on in his birthplace, and proud of his son for joining the British Army. None of this saves him from the angry mob that attacks his restaurant after Italy declares war on England.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "The Eternity Ring". The fact that it's an incredibly lame pun is actually a plot point, of sorts.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Milner points out to a shopkeeper that he's referring to his employee Matthew in the past tense.
  • The Ingenue: Sam Stewart.
  • It's Personal:
    • The strange death of Milner's war buddy in "Invasion," given that he was the man who carried Milner to safety after Milner's leg was shot off. He was blinded by badly-distilled home whiskey and couldn't escape a fire because of it. When Milner works this out and arrests the pub owner, he has his patrolman leave the room and forces the man to drink a mouthful of the stuff.
    • Averted in "Bad Blood" when Sam contracts anthrax from ill-judged military experiments. When confronting the army scientists responsible, Foyle never says "my driver is sick," but simply says that one woman has died already and another is seriously ill. This doesn't mean he isn't seriously worried about her, however—his moral outrage just wouldn't be less if it was a different person.
  • Karma Houdini: Every second murderer or thereabouts.
    • A notable one is the American businessman who Foyle has to let go because he's important to the war effort; Foyle tells him that his fate has only been postponed, because one day the war will be over. The final episode of the series ends with Foyle embarking on a ship bound for post-war America. When he returns in "The Eternity Ring", it's made clear that Karma, in the person of Christopher Foyle, has caught up to the bastard... to the extent that the FBI want a word. MI5 threaten their own pseudo-Karmic retribution — Foyle can work for them, or he can be put on the boat back to America.
    • Another glaring example is an army interrogator in "The Cage" who unwittingly kills the only doctor that can cure him from a deadly tick-transmitted illness endemic to West Berlin because he could single him out as a commie.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Andrew Foyle is promoted to a training position, removing him from the flight roster. This is actually a good thing and done by a group-captain sympathetic to the psychological strain he was enduring.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Foyle's suspect in a murder case turns out to be innocent. The supposed victim, his girlfriend, had realised that he was gay and run off, calling him "sick"...right into a lethal fall down a stairwell.
  • Lead Police Detective: Detective Chief Superintendent Foyle has a higher rank than usual for the trope, but still gets out and investigates in person, due to the manpower shortage that has resulted from most of the able-bodied young men being shipped off to the War.
  • Lights Off, Somebody Dies: "The White Feather."
  • Lotsa People Try to Dun It: In one episode, the Victim of the Week is left incapacitated but not dead by a blow to the head from one intended killer, then dragged off and drowned by a second, unrelated assailant.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: In "Bleak Midwinter," a man is accidentally stabbed while trying to hold back his friend. He simply looks down at the weapon and says "What have you done, you bloody fool?" as he falls to his knees.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Mandy Dean (a white Englishwoman) and Gabe Kelly (a black American soldier) in "Killing Time". Gabe gets beaten up after he and Mandy are seen dancing together.
  • Married to the Job: Said word-for-word of Hilda Pierce in "Elise."
  • Matchlight Danger Revelation: Foyle and his son take cover during a raid in what turns out to be a fuel dump.
  • Miss Conception:
    • A naive young woman's lover tells her that she won't get pregnant if they have sex standing up. Unsurprisingly, she ends up pregnant, and then throws herself in front of a train, prompting her father to seek revenge by attempting to murder her lover.
    • Another ambitious young woman lures an American soldier into a fling which gets her pregnant; she is then found dead in a party that the American base threw for the locals. Though there is motive from the soldier to terminate the pregnancy and the whole plot revolves around her being pregnant, he was actually intoxicated at the time after consuming an extremely toxic (and also deadly) moonshine that the girl had produced, and her culprit in the moonshining killed her for her refusal to turn off the still.
  • The Mole: The wartime search for a mole codenamed "Plato" is at the core of "Elise." The real problem was that there never was a mole. Ian Woodhead, the head of SOE, invented the mole in order to keep the other spy organizations unaware that the Germans had successfully infiltrated the network.
  • Motor Mouth: It can be something of a challenge getting Sam to stop talking.
  • Mr. Exposition: Charlotte in the postwar series never attains a role beyond providing exposition on request.
  • Name's the Same: Dr. Novak attempts suicide because of "what Worth said." It was not the just-murdered Dr. Worth with whom Novak was angry, though. It was a BBC journalist named Worth, reporting on the concentration camps. Novak, Jewish, lost his family there.
  • Nazi Gold: The gold box in "War Games." It was given to Reginald Walker by the German trade office as a gift for the lovely trade deal they'd struck. It belonged to a Jewish family who were shot by the Nazis; they had used it to hold their prayer book. This fact nullifies Walker's protection from prosecution, and he shoots himself when Foyle leaves.
  • Nazi Nobleman: Several upper-class Nazi sympathizers appear; one family has a full-fledged shrine to the Third Reich in the basement of their Big Fancy House.
  • Never One Murder: Usually played straight, but averted in "The Eternity Ring", which rather than a murder mystery has an espionage plot. Not only is there only one murder, but it's a red herring.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Averted in "Fifty Ships." English actor Henry Goodman plays American character Howard Paige and does a pretty decent job with the voice without going too overboard.
  • Not My Driver: In "High Castle", an assassin takes the place of a cab driver to kill his victim.
  • Not So Different: Said word-for-word by two different characters, once as the complete, classic, German-accented "See, ve are not so different, you and I" (although the Nazi in question is not a villain and means it in the sense that he was an ordinary soldier who went where he was told).
  • Not What It Looks Like: Mrs. Milner returns home early to find Milner and Sam (staying over because her boarding house was bombed) dancing in the kitchen.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • In "The Eternity Ring", Foyle (and the viewer) knows something is up with Sam when she's not hungry.
    • Hilda Pierce breaks down into sobs in "Elise" after she discovers that Woodhead invented Plato.
  • One of Our Own: Milner is the chief suspect in the murder of his wife.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Milner has the tendency of behaving like this when he comes in contact with Foyle and Sam after he's put in charge of the Brighton office. He disrespects both of them — and immediately regrets it, but takes his sweet time to apologize due to the case at hand.
  • Parachute in a Tree:
    • In one episode, a German WWII flier who is found hanging in a tree from his parachute after a plane crash is involved in a murder taking place at the same time. Played with: the soldier did not in fact land with the parachute. He was transported in by a submarine and then hung himself up in the tree to make it look like he had been in the plane.
    • Played with in the same episode, where one of the crew members of the bomber is found exactly at the side of a tree with a parachute that had been tampered with to prevent deployment. Turns out, he grabbed the parachute that the navigator was supposed to take, as the latter wasn't supposed to get out alive should the plane be felled according to Luftwaffe emergency protocol.
  • Plucky Girl: Sam.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Happened to Andrew Foyle... kind of. He still did voiceovers in letters and such, and appeared for the intended final episode.
    • Milner was Left Off The Bus when the setting changed to London in series 8.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Foyle is a master at these, notably in the episode "Fifty Ships", where he delivers one for the B-plot and one for the A-plot.
  • Robbing the Dead: The firefighters in "Fifty Ships." Strictly speaking, not everyone they rob is dead, but it's about the same level of loathsome to rob houses that have just been bombed. And the crime carries the death penalty thanks to a recent revision of the law.
  • Running Gag:
    • Some episodes have one, mostly involving Sam.
    • Sam gets blown up three times over the course of the series. She immediately lampshades it.
    • In one episode, Sam is made homeless after the place she's staying in is hit by a bomb during a raid. Numerous characters offer to let her briefly stay with him, only telling her not to tell anyone, "especially Foyle", because they don't want it to look improper. Having gone through pretty much main character by the end, she's about to set up camp in a cell when Foyle encounters her ... and promptly offers to let her stay with him, only asking that she doesn't tell anyone so that it doesn't look improper.
    • There is also a subtle one in the fact that DCS Foyle almost never accepts tea from anyone (at least not from anyone he's investigating). It's shown that Foyle is more partial towards coffee.
  • Sadistic Choice: Done by the culprit in "The Funk Hole." He forces his victim to swallow a cyanide pill and says that the other option is to be shot once in each limb and the stomach to die a slow, agonizing death.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying!:
    • One episode features a countryside hotel where people try to pretend the war isn't happening.
    • Subverted by an instance where a business owner comes to acquire a turkey under shady circumstances to sell it for Christmas. Foyle arrests him and seizes the turkey as evidence. The policemen try to make a banquet out of the seized food until Milner stops them from what would be considered theft. The turkey itself becomes a Running Gag over the episode for the same reason until Foyle decides to be lenient.
  • Separated by a Common Language: In "Invasion," there are a few misunderstandings between British and American slang—for instance a soldier asks Foyle why a girl asked him for a "rubber."note 
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Milner in early episodes, and occasionally Andrew. While he's naturally more stoic about things, Foyle was also a veteran of the First World War, and occasionally finds himself recalling things he'd probably sooner forget.
  • Ship Tease: The final series, in an understated British sort of way, suggests that there might be a future for Foyle and Elizabeth Addis. In the series finale, Foyle learns that she's been reporting on him to MI5, which he might have forgiven in time, and then that she was knowingly complicit in a cover-up that led to the deaths he's investigating, which he's not going to overlook as easily.
  • Shown Their Work: Almost every episode is based on a real person, incident, or wartime organization, most notably the episode about the "bouncing bomb." The scripts always incorporate numerous historically accurate details about life on the Home Front and the threat of invasion on the South Coast.
  • Skewed Priorities: Examined. A running theme throughout the series is Foyle being asked why he's bothering to investigate petty smugglers and lone murders when they're in the biggest war the world has yet seen. But crime doesn't stop just because there's a war on, and often enough it ties directly into some crucial aspect of it. In "Fifty Ships," Foyle expresses his belief that the war begins with people like the one he's arresting at that moment—making the world around them that much worse by their actions on a small scale.
  • Spanner in the Works: The children collecting scrap in "War Games" end up recovering the incriminating letter when they sneak onto the Walker estate for the big pile of papers that Simon is burning.
  • Start to Corpse: The average episode doesn't feature a murder until (roughly) halfway through.
  • Stealing the Credit: In "Fifty Ships," it turns out that Howard Page patented Richard Hunter's gearbox invention in America and made millions, leaving Hunter broken and poor in England. Then, after Hunger couldn't bring himself to shoot, Page took the gun and killed him.
  • Stiff Upper Lip:
    • In droves. Foyle isn't even that fazed at the fact that his son unwittingly led them to take refuge on a fuel deposit and then lit up a match. He proceeds to politely ask him to extinguish the flame.
    • Foyle is remarkably polite and calm for someone as relentless as he is. He has seen people die charred up in explosions in front of him, which only cause him to start asking more questions; curiously, once they're exposed, the culprits never turn violent against him. it is highly implied that Foyle's nerves of steel are the result of his service in the First World War, where death could come without warning and at any time. Nothing Foyle encounters is more nerve wracking than what he must have encountered in the trenches.
    • Whereas any other person would have lost his composure, Milner is remarkably parsimonious (yet visibly upset) about being accused of the murder of his wife. When he finds out that he's been framed by an antagonizing patrolman, he never confronts him and continues pursuing the investigation at hand nevertheless.
  • The Stoic: Foyle, who is defined almost totally by his self-control. Others too, but Milner for instance has a lapse in "Bleak Midwinter" to show that O.O.C. Is Serious Business, whereas with Foyle there simply never is any OOC.
    • Hilda Pierce in the postwar episodes.
  • Straight Gay:
    • Andrew's friend Rex is revealed to be one towards the end of "Among The Few".
    • Arthur Valentine in "The Eternity Ring."
    • Kaplan in "Elise."
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land/So What Do We Do Now?
  • The Summation
  • Survivor Guilt:
    • Andrew is deeply affected by his friend Woods' crash in "Enemy Fire" because Woods was in his plane, flying a mission that would have been Andrew's. Though the crash isn't fatal, Woods is severely burned and Andrew is unsettled by the specialist hospital full of scarred and disfigured airman.
    • Sam has a bit of this in "Fifty Ships" when a housemate of hers is killed going downstairs to the cellar, while Sam herself was still getting out of bed.
    • Dr. Novak, when he hears the news reports from the concentration camps, because he only escaped Poland by pure luck.
  • Taking the Heat: In "Invasion," the farmer walks into the police station to confess Susan's murder because he'd told his nephew that she was cheating on him with an American soldier in the hopes that he'd rough the guy up and is horrified to discover her dead. The nephew sets the story straight, however; he had spent the evening verifiably drinking at a pub. Foyle doesn't press the charge of making a false confession, understanding why the man did it.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • In "A War of Nerves," Hammond knows that the Talbots are going to kill him one way or another, as though he won't die anyway from detonating bombs. He arranges to return it to them alone. When one of their goons shoots him, he lives long enough to say they should count it—as soon as they open the briefcase it explodes from the UXB he kept and rigged inside. Foyle and Milner arrive just in time to witness it.
    • The murderer in "Bleak Midwinter" tries to do this.
    • Hilda Pierce successfully does this to Ian Woodhead and herself in "Elise."
  • Team Dad: Less so with Milner (although there's clearly a great deal of mutual respect), but for all his gruffness Foyle clearly comes to view Sam as something of a daughter-he-never-had. Andrew even uses it as a point in favour of his proposal to Sam: that she would love the idea of Foyle as her father-in-law! (She still turns him down.) And an American soldier she dates makes a point of letting Foyle know that his intentions are honorable, to which Foyle replies that her actual father would probably like to know that.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Foyle's previous Number Two, Captain Devlin, is much happier to reunite than Foyle is. Devlin planted evidence at the scene of a burglary because he wanted to guarantee a long conviction. Foyle discovered the fabrication after Devlin joined the Army and withdrew the evidence himself. He calls this unforgivable when he informs Devlin what happened, as the reason for his coolness.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Played straight with some British-born Nazi sympathizers, subverted with a captured German spy of the My Country, Right or Wrong variety. The captured spy actually provides Foyle with useful evidence, entirely voluntarily, because even though they are at War, Murder is still Murder.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: At the end of "High Castle". Knowles, the murdered translator, had been bribed with diamonds taken from concentration camp victims; his dying widow needs the diamonds in order to afford dialysis in America, and begs Foyle to let her keep them. When asked if he let Mrs. Knowles keep the diamonds, Foyle responds, "What would you have done?" End episode.
  • Tomboyish Name: Sam.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Captain James Keifer of the US Army. By the time he becomes a Major, he's so shell-shocked that he even damages his friendship with Foyle.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: "A Lesson in Murder" ends with a mob destroying an Italian restaurant and killing the owner in response to the news that Italy has declared war.
  • Torture First, Ask Questions Later:
    • Don't force a prisoner to play Russian Roulette unless you know exactly where the bullet is.
    • Foyle also deduces that a prisoner was torturednote  from a brief Sherlock Scan of his cell. In that case, nobody involved in the torture actually had any questions they wanted answered — they were just doing it because the prisoner was a Conscientious Objector.
  • Tranquil Fury: Foyle's rage is always supremely controlled and collected. He does admit to having "quite enjoyed" punching out a looting firefighter, though.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: More than a few of Foyle's superiors travel this path.
  • Warrior Poet: Andrew writes war poems.
  • Wham Episode: "The Hide" takes a rather different approach to finishing the series than "All Clear" did. In "The Hide," the big reveal about Foyle is that as a young soldier recovering from a wound, he had an affair with a married nurse, and the man he's spent the episode saving from being executed for treason is actually their son. In "All Clear," it was that he can drive.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Andrew's commander gives him a dressing-down for starting a barfight with anti-Irish remarks and points out that while the government might officially be neutral, plenty of Irish individuals volunteered to serve in the British war effort, as both military and civilian workers, and without their help the British would be much worse off.
    • A rare one from Sam to Foyle in "The Eternity Ring," after he inadvertently gets her fired while investigating her employer.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: "All Clear", intended to be the final episode, shows the closing of the Hastings police station on V-E Day, and all the main characters moving on. The theme of post-war uncertainty is central to all their stories, while leaving things open enough for a potential return to the series.
  • Who Murdered the Asshole?: Gordon Drake, the victim in "Enemy Fire." He was having an affair with Dr. Wrenn's wife, and the air raid warden helpfully told Wrenn this. Andrew blamed his deliberately negligent maintenance for Greville Woods' crash. He was blackmailing Waterford. And finally, he squandered his wife's money and abused her. Wrenn confesses because he hit Drake with a rock, but the air raid warden—his brother-in-law—set him up to be framed so that he could murder Gordon for mistreating his sister and finished the job by drowning him in a trough.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • "A Lesson in Murder". The boy was the intended target of the grenade all along. Gascoigne was disgusted with having a lower-class boy on his property who was snooping into his plots.
    • In "War Games," Reginald Walker orders the dogs to be set on the children who grab the piles of (highly incriminating) papers he's having burnt, and one of them is badly bitten. Mrs. Walker, having already been called a stupid woman by her husband, leaves him for this.
  • You Just Told Me:
    • In "A War of Nerves," the Talbots first tell Foyle that nothing's been going missing from their factory. After a bomb lands in a warehouse, one of them says that it's a bit silly to investigate their missing supplies in perspective with the war. Foyle reminds them that they'd claimed nothing had gone missing.
    • When a poorly-constructed suitcase bomb fails to go off and is neutralized by the police, Foyle casually brings it back to the man who built it, who panics. Foyle remarks "good, so you know what this is."
  • Your Days Are Numbered: The bomb-clearing Engineers in "A War of Nerves." When Hammond started, the average survival rate was seven weeks, and he notes that they found out how German bombs work mostly by being blown up. Which is why he's so fatalistic about stealing from, and then being killed by the Talbots—it was liable to occur through the normal course of his duties anyway.

Subverts or averts:

  • Always Murder: Averted in "The French Drop". There's also an odd subversion in "The Eternity Ring" in which there is a murder, but in plot terms it's almost completely irrelevant.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Sam and Andrew agree to be friends and see where things go post-war.
  • Defective Detective: Foyle is often one of the most well-adjusted people around.
    • Milner is a bit closer to this trope, at least initially — you don't get your leg shot off without coming away with some issues, and he and his wife have problems in their marriage beyond the difficulties that this generates — but he still manages to come to terms with it all remarkably well.
    • DCS David Fielding is an example of a policeman with a path similar to Foyle's, but whose experiences have led him to become burned out and caused him to lose the desire to investigate.
    • DCS Meredith is a subversion, as he was appointed to the Hastings office merely by his reputation alone as an excellent detective even though he shows the opposite when he is there as he is unable/unwilling to pursue investigations due to the overwhelming grief caused by the death of his two sons.
  • Dream-Crushing Handicap/Handicapped Badass: Notably subverts both tropes to an interesting and believable effect! Milner's handicap means he sometimes can't always give chase to a fleeing perp and he takes a beating more than once; but he's also a way-more-than-competent detective in other respects.
  • False Roulette: A bad guy tries it, but it doesn't work out the way he expected.
  • Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used to Be

Alternative Title(s): Foyles War

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