"I work with a cover, blend in to the background, let you appear vulnerable so the threat reveals itself and then eliminate the threat."
— Christopher Chance when he explains to his client in "Pilot" on why he has a unique approach to protective security.
Human Target is the story of Christopher Chance, a bodyguard and private detective for hire who impersonates his clients in order to draw out whoever is threatening them and 'eliminate' them. It has its roots as a comic book, and has been adapted as a TV series twice: once in Summer of 1992 on ABC, and another that premiered in January 2010 on Fox.The 2010 series was cancelled after two seasons. A DVD and Blu-Ray release of Season 1 is out. Season 2's release is in the work, because of supposed problems in clearing music rights prior to DVD and Blu-Ray production.As of 2013, Warner Home Video has not said anything about an official release of Season 2, although both seasons are legally available for viewing consumption via Amazon and iTunes.
The 1992 series provides examples of:
The Other Marty: The pilot was originally filmed in 1990 and costarred Clarence Clemons and Frances Fisher. By the time the show was picked up, both of their roles were recast and their scenes reshot.
The 2010 series provides examples of:
Action Girl: Ames is suppose to be one but currently she's on a fast track into Faux Action Girl territory; perhaps justified in that she has a background as a thief. Ilsa, on the other hand is, judging by the fight she puts up in "Communications Breakdown" most definitely an Action Girl... though given that she lacks even the rough and tumble past of Ames, being an Action Girl means a Heroic BSOD since she's forced to kill someone and most of the fight is less her fighting and more her basically being unwilling to be killed quietly.
To an extent, Jackie Earle Haley seems to be very much a mildly more reasonable version of Rorschach. Considering that Human Target is a DC Vertigo comic...
In "Tanarak", he tells someone "leave the info at the trash can, next to the diner", he breaks into people's houses a lot, he's constantly eating...
And of course in "Imbroglio", the only way the mooks are able to capture Guerrero is literally just jumping on top of him until he's trapped under their bodies.
In "Cool Hand Guerrero", he brings up laws and civil liberties (mostly, people infringing on his) with the same ready knowledge and pointed tones of voice as he does with various bad guys the team encounters.
Anti-Hero: Guerrero (Jackie Earle Haley) again. He lies, steals, breaks in, hacks, and performs a library of other acts of questionable legality, but in the name of the greater good. He even shows he has a sense of loyalty and standards. When it comes to bad guys though, he can be surprisingly villainous down to threatening their families - threats the villains (those who know who he is) know he's willing to carry out.
To put it simple, Guerrero is a psychopath that luckily is on the good guys' side.
Well, maybe just a sociopath...he seems to have a bit of a conscience, after all.
Which means he became the way he is over time. Which means there's an origin of Guerrero. Yes!
A heavy dose of it seems to be loyalty to Chance. Which is probably a good thing as most episodes show sequences where he's not with Chance and those instances usually involve him being, well, Batman with far less moral standards on what it means to be a good guy. Where Chance is happy to simply protect people that come to him, Guerrero actively goes out and terrorizes people.
Beleaguered Childhood Friend: Guerrero in "Cool Hand Guerrero" before his buddy wanting out of the drug business gets killed by a corrupt warden and his prison guard cronies.
Berserk Button: Guerrero is ready to rain hell in "Cool Hand Guerrero" on the people who killed his childhood friend and framed him for the murder. Winston and Chance can barely get him to stay in prison and take a prison beating.
Do not call Guerrero a "freak" or threaten his son or there will be hell to pay...
Bilingual Bonus: Occurs in the Pilot when Chance demonstrates his mad Japanese skills. And again a few episodes later when he speaks perfect Russian (to a Russian government agent). In another episode, he speaks Spanish to rebel forces.
Do note that his Japanese pronounciation/accent is absolutely atrocious. Other than that, it's fine.
Also note that both his Russian and the Russian agent's Russian is similarly, atrocious in both accent and pronunciation. The same is true for the woman who also is apparently fluent. Basically, no actual Russian speaking people were harmed/consulted during the filming of this episode...
Guerrero is Spanish for 'warrior'. Ironically, he doesn't speak the language.
Blasting It out of Their Hands: Guerrero does this in the season two premiere. Unfortunately for the person in question, Guerrero was using a shotgun so it's less 'out of their hand' and more 'take off part of their hand'.
Break Out the Museum Piece: Happens in episode 11 of season 1, "Victoria". A gunfight turns into a sword fight. And guess what? It happens in a museum.
Bullet Proof Vest: Chance wears one in the pilot, and takes two shots in the back. Outright called attention too in "Imbroglio" where we get a scene (played for laughs!) involving Chance in a catcher's mask and wearing new body armor they just got in the mail and him asking Guerrero to shoot him at close range. Fridge Logic points for not thinking about what might happen if the body armor didn't work.
Caper Crew: Ames (acting as The New Kid and The Burglar) gets roped into one of these; her job is to snake her way through the airducts & disable the security system. Chance goes in too, taking the place of "Mr. Chicago" - who he later discovers is the "cleaner." It's his job to kill everybody involved with the heist so the Mastermind doesn't have to pay them anything.
Subverted in the season finale, wherein he wakes up on the floor after being knocked out by Chance. Baptiste greets him, and he returns the greeting with "Hey, mate". Baptiste is British/Australian/South African.
'Mook': "Now there's four of us!" 'Chance': "Well that's not fair, there's only two of us." (commence ass-kicking)
Crazy-Prepared: Chance. It's a Running Gag in many episodes that somebody asks him a question or puts him in a situation that his character should know but a casual faker wouldn't. Chance looks very uncomfortable for about five seconds. Right before his client tries to step in and take the hit for him, he proves he knows his stuff, even down to the deep and obscure facts.
Also, when he shows us the importance of home-base advantage in the first season finale.
Don't forget about Baptiste. As Chance put it, "He's planned for every contingency you could imagine, and probably some that you can't"
Guerrero also counts. When he isn't helping on a case or doing a side job? He's doing surveillance on the rest of the team (save Chance) in order to collect blackmail information.
Technically, the Royal Princess's entire Protection Command bodyguard detail (except for one) turns on her in "Victoria" due to her desire to marry a non-royal man. This pisses off some factions in the British Royal Family and British government.
Disturbed Doves: Inverted in "Marshall Pucci" when Guerrero does his Unflinching Walk. Instead of the traditional flock of white doves symbolizing good and purity, we are treated to a single black raven or crow, either of which being a symbol of death, secrets, and darkness.
Dramatic Gun Cock: Salvage and Reclamation. What makes it hilarious for tropers is that the guns keep getting re-cocked (without firing) over and over within the same minute span.
In the season one finale, Jr. gives Katherine a gun tentatively, which she snatches up, checks the chamber, cocks, and points at his head in under 2 seconds. And he says "Apparently, you know what you're doing."
The Dreaded: Rare example that's on the good guy's side; Guerrero's reputation alone is enough to get information out of more than one person who would have every reason not to talk.
Demonstrated in episode 1 of season 2, when a captured Ames is defiant and cocky towards Guerrero and Winston, as she's under the impression she's being held by cops, ...until she hears Guerrero's name. The Oh Crap look on her face is priceless.
Happens again in "Imbroglio". Even heavily restrained, the mere mention that Guerrero is Guerrero, is enough to give some of the Faceless Mooks a Oh Crap moment... enough so that even with their masks, you can see their fear.
Easily Forgiven: Averted at the end of "A Wife's Tale". Despite Chance saving her life and showing he was literally willing for her to kill him to earn forgiveness, Rebecca still loathes and doesn't forgive him for killing her husband back when Chance was an assassin.
Though she does forgive him enough not to call the police on him. There is no statute for murder after all.
While Ilsa Pucci thinks that Rebecca is being an Ungrateful Bitch, both Chance and Winston feel that she is right to still hate him for it.
Fake Brit: Most of the Brits in episode 11. But who cares if Todd theWraith really sounds Irish? He (the actor) also played/plays Bigfoot, and Druitt (Jack the Ripper) in Sanctuary.
Faking Amnesia: Inverted. A client who has amnesia takes part in a sting to trick the bad guys by pretending not to have amnesia. To do this he has to convince them that he was faking it. It makes sense in context.
Fiction 500: Ilsa Pucci, among other things, buys up surplus military hardware without batting an eye; in an early appearance, she casually asks if the team will need a tank.
Fragile Speedster: Guerrero to an extent. It's suggested that he may actually be a more skilled fighter than Chance (or at the very least, considerably more ruthless). His small size makes him (arguably) more vulnerable to larger opponents (as demonstrated by the cleaner, Chicago), or multiple opponents, as shown in "Imbroglio" when a group of mooks literally dog piles on him compared a similar fight scene in the same episode where Chance is able to toss mooks around more easily and thus allow him to face one or two standing opponents at a time. On the other hand, in "Marshall Pucci", we get a sneak peek at how Guerrero probably typically operates which is not straight up fist fights. As Mr. Weston noted, "Spies aren't trained to fight fair. Spies are trained to win." Guerrero is more the Cowl to Chance's Cape.
Genre Savvy: The moment Guerrero is thrown into jail, he starts making a shiv out of a spoon (among other tools). And the moment, he gets a cellmate, he politely asks the guy to come back in five minutes since his isn't done yet (cue a show of the half-shaved spoon). Guerrero wins regardless.
Heel-Face Turn: Notably Guerrero, Ames, and Chance. The last definitely, the first sorta, and the second oddly. As Winston noted, Ames has started paying taxes since joining the team.
Because, unlike Guerrero, she's willing to take a check. Nevertheless, being that she was a notable thief before joining the team, paying taxes was probably something she conveniently forgot to do.
Hidden Depths: Guerrero is a big fan of opera. Big enough that when he misses a show in "Imbroglio", he's ready to dish out pain with as much grumpiness as when, say, 'retrieving' information from an uncooperative captive. He's also initially smitten with Ilsa's sister-in-law despite the rather obvious differences between the two of them; credit to Jackie Earle Haley for slipping in just the slightest bit of excitement over getting to join Ilsa and her sister to the opera as well as just the slightest bit of politeness to her compared to the way he normally talks to people. And then he goes and gets a date to Venice with her...
Hitman with a Heart: It's revealed in "Baptiste" that Chance used to be a hitman. Not just any hitman but the equivalent of Keyser Soze; a hitman so skilled, it doesn't even look like murder and the hitman is non-existent. Unfortunately, he also trained other hitmen to be as good as him. Guerrero is the more obvious example though it's debatable how much of a heart he has versus just loyalty to Chance and the pragmatism to not just go around killing everybody.
In "Tanarak", we learn that Chance prefers the title "Death Retardant Specialist" over this.
Guerrero is the more obvious example. Heck, he took his first job in 3rd grade for a friend. And gives said friend a 'friends and family' discount.
Hollywood Acid: In "Tanarak", an evil corporation is storing an illegally toxic solvent in a mine shaft, poisoning the miners working there. The solvent is naturally a bright flourescent green.
In Name Only: The concept of the comic is that Christopher Chance, a bodyguard who saves people by impersonating them, using brilliant disguises, makes himself into a human target. Guess what Christopher Chance on the show doesn't do?
Ironic Echo: From "Corner Man": "There are consequences to one's actions. Some people learn the hard way."— Hugh Prentiss's line implicitly confirming Chance's accusation that he'd had the father of Eva Khan, his fight handicapper, killed for refusing to throw a fight. It's later paraphrased by Eva after she reveals that she's heard a recording of Prentiss's confession and as a result has decided to bet everything he owns on Chance's fight.
Nerd Glasses: Guerrero's glasses vary from this and Scary Shiny Glasses depending on whether or not he's contemplating how to kill you. Or whether or not he's engaging in a violent or non-violent hobby of his.
No Name Given: Inverted; Guerrero rarely, if ever, calls anyone by their names when talking to them. When he does have to address specific people, he'll usually use some sort of consistent nickname ('boss lady' for Ilsa for instance or 'the girl' for Ames) or his generic 'dude'/'bro'. This isn't so much due to him not knowing people's names so much as not really caring unless it's relevant (the name of an arms dealer); the few people he's talked to and used their name tend to be people like Chance, someone he is loyal to a fault to. As far as Ilsa, by episode 12 of the second season, she gets upgraded from 'boss lady' to 'dude'.
Non-Idle Rich: Ilsa Pucci, who's getting increasingly involved in Chance's business much to his annoyance and her horror at how illegal it is.
And apparently working with Chance is just one way she does this. More than once she has mentioned trying to take down one other their targets before, though probably not the way they do.
The Obi-Wan: Suggested as the way the name Christopher Chance gets passed from one to the next.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The first season finale left us with Winston kidnapped, the headquarters shot to hell, and Chance's old boss finally finding him so they can form a temporary alliance. The season two premiere opens with Chance and Guerrero rescuing Winston from the bad guys and completely skips over how they ended up there. Even for a show that regularly uses Noodle Incidents it's a little frustrating.
Papa Wolf: Threatening Guerrero's son is, without a doubt, the last thing you will ever do.
Pet the Dog: Guerrero very reluctantly sets up Ames with a tab at a bad guy bar he visits.
In a later episode, he's gives Ilsa and her sister time to talk in private over personal matters (though to be fair, he's also smitten with said sister). In the same episode, he also trusts Ilsa enough at this point to toss his earpiece to her before being captured. Considering his generally open disdain or indifference for her prior, this is a huge step in how he thinks of Ilsa. Though some of it may be due to the events of "Communications Breakdown" as it's not out of the question to think that his opinion of Ilsa was improved by her being capable of killing Lopez on her own.
Pistol-Whipping: Chance does this to Guerrero in a flashback during in "Christopher Chance".
Refuge in Audacity: With this show, it goes hand-in-hand with Rule of Cool. By the time the plane starts flying upside-down ("Rewind") you really don't care anymore.
Remember the New Guy: Harry is an old friend of the gang who is kinda of hanger on, always asking to come along on missions, getting into wacky side adventures and messing things up but generally helping Chance do his job in the end. Oh and we've never heard of him until "Communications Breakdown" in the middle of second season where he makes his first of two appearances in the entire series.
Rule of Symbolism: In "Baptiste", Chance and Baptiste's episode-long conversation takes place in front of a picture of Lucifer's fall from grace. It's interesting to note that Chance is sitting in front of Lucifer and Baptiste in front of the host of angels tossing Lucifer out.
Sherlock Scan: Subverted. At the end of "Tanarak", Chance knows that the girl of the week is leaving the country, and where she is headed, before she tells him anything. He tries to explain how he knows, using his knowledge of her character, then a bandage on her arm that looks like an immunization, before admitting her mother told him.
Shoo Out the New Guy: The appropriately-named Ilsa Pucci. She is introduced in the second-season, and serves as a foil and romantic interest to Chance. Fan response to her has been... mixed, to say the least.
"Kill Bob" despite its name has a huge shout outs to Mr. and Mrs. Smith with more than one reference placed into the very iconic dinner scene from the movie... with the appropriate background "Assassin's Date" score (or an homage score that's very much like it. I couldn't tell.)
Subverted, however, with Ilsa Pucci from "Communications Breakdown." She's in real danger and it looks like she actually might be killed when the trigger is pulled but the bullet went into Hector Lopez instead. Though she didn't die, she was badly beaten and suffered a Heroic BSOD.
Swiss Bank Account: In the Season 2 premiere Ilsa has a vault in a Swiss bank which can only be entered with retina scans of both Ilsa and her late husband; the bad guy uses her (in a hostage situation) and her dead husband's eyeball, removed from his body to get in to steal their billions. In another episode she transfers a couple mil from her Swiss bank to a local bank specifically in order to draw out some Dirty Cops who were looking for her; in that same episode the main bad guy has an offshore bank account in Barbados where he stores his ill-gotten gains.
Averted in the second season. (Given how many fans hate the music in season two once Bear McCreary wasn't asked back, it's just as well.)
Tranquil Fury: Just because Guerrero isn't raising his voice doesn't mean he isn't ready to throw a homemade knife at your head and bring hell down on you.
Troperiffic: From the soaring orchestral scoring, to the classic 1990's action tropes that pop up in every episode, to the obvious and typically blatantly unrealistic MacGuffins, the whole show is a rolling Homage to action thrillers of the 1990's.
The Troubles: apparently Ilsa grew up in the middle of them.
Would Hit a Girl: The Season 2 premiere has Guerrero clocking Ames. In the same episode, he was about three seconds away from shooting off her kneecaps if she didn't cough up the identity of the guy who hired her to steal the ring. He also states that he would either shoot her kneecaps, or rip her fingernails off with hooks.
Hector Lopez also doesn't have any qualms about brutally beating Ilsa Pucci.
You Have Failed Me: "Salvage & Reclamation". The poor guy even had the valid excuse of being knocked out without being able to react.
This is why Chance is being hunted by his former employer.