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Series: Foyle's War
"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 final season, ending on V-E Day, but subsequently renewed for another season set in the aftermath of the war.

Provides examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: Andrew and his friends.
  • Asshole Victim
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Blitz Evacuees
  • Bluffing the Murderer
  • Bomb Disposal: "War of Nerves"
  • 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.
  • Catch Phrase: Foyle will usually introduce himself to others with something along the lines of "My name's Foyle, I'm a policeman."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Does Not Like Men: Barbara in "They Fought in the Fields."
  • 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.
  • Dublin For London: Most of the exteriors in the London-set series 8 are shot in Dublin.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • Heroic BSOD: Milner in the first episode and Andrew in "Enemy Fire".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: "The Eternity Ring". The fact that it's an incredibly lame pun is actually a plot point, of sorts.
  • The Ingenue: Sam Stewart.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Lights Off, Somebody Dies: "The White Feather."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Motor Mouth: It can be something of a challenge getting Sam to stop talking.
  • Nazi Gold
  • 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 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).
  • OOC Is Serious Business: In "The Eternity Ring", Foyle (and the viewer) knows something is up with Sam when she's not hungry.
  • One of Our Own: Milner is the chief suspect in the murder of his wife.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: one episode features a countryside hotel where people try to pretend the war isn't happening.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Start to Corpse: The average episode doesn't feature a murder until (roughly) halfway through.
  • Stiff Upper Lip
  • 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 OOC Is Serious Business, whereas with Foyle there simply never is any OOC.
  • Straight Gay: Andrew's friend Rex is revealed to be one towards the end of Among The Few.
    • Arthur Valentine in "The Eternity Ring."
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land/So What Do We Do Now?
  • The Summation
  • Taking the Heat
  • Taking You with Me: The murderer in "Bleak Midwinter" tries to do this.
  • 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).
  • This Is the Part Where...
  • 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.
  • Tomboyish Name: Sam.
  • 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 Concientious Objector.
  • 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?: 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.
  • You Just Told Me

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.
  • 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
  • Sorry Billy, But You Just Don't Have Legs/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.

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alternative title(s): Foyles War
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