A small town in Kansas struggles to survive After the End once several major US cities are destroyed in terrorist attacks with nuclear bombs. Features a sprawling cast of townsfolk from the mayor on down, and centers on the Green family. This show is remarkable for being on the hard end of Mohs Scale Of Scifi Hardness, featuring such things as radiation poisoning, the effects on an EMP and the value of such common things as salt. Not quite as fatalistic as that other nuclear-war-surviving Kansas town, from The Day After, which early episodes were compared with.Anyone Can Die and they stay dead. Also notable is the Heroic Bystander approach to heroism, as a major theme is the common man having to choose to do the right thing or give in to baser urges or becoming Disaster Scavengers. Other major themes involve family and heredity, redemption, and the struggle to preserve American values like democracy. Similar to Battlestar Galactica drawing tension and avoiding the Inferred Holocaust by dealing with issues like shortages in food, electricity and the people who want to steal from those who have these.The first season focuses on the mystery behind the bombing, represented by Robert Hawkins, a mysterious newcomer to the town who knows more than he should, and also on the personal relationships, issues and problems implicit in surviving. The second season focuses on the towns folk's attempt to rebuild Jericho while under the thumb of the corrupt new federal government and powerful corporate interests.The show was canceled, but brought back by a fan campaign. A second season was shown in 2008, detailing the rise of an oppressive new government based in Cheyenne, Wyoming, but the show was again canceled due to low ratings. (Although the last episode tied up most of the immediately-dangling plot-threads.) There's been talk of a feature film, and plans for a 'Season 3' comic series.Not to be confused for the fanfic of same name.
Apocalypse How: Class 1 within Jericho and many of the other towns and cities of the US, whereas many other areas are described as being Class 2. North Korea and Iran are implied to be Class 3.
Artistic License - Nuclear Physics – The fallout from Denver seems to only last about 4 hours, then washes away in the rain. Once the townspeople come out from the shelter, the radiation has magically disappeared. In Real Life the radiation from nuclear fallout can last up to 6 weeks before fading to safe levels. Most fallout shelters have supplies for a minimum of two weeks. While having the first season take place entirely in a shelter might be boring, the show itself lampshades this fact. Robert Hawkins states clearly that “surfaces will need to be scrubbed and the top 18 inches of topsoil will have to be removed. These are both real jobs that would need to be done before it would be safe to be outside. None of these actions are taken. Then, Mimi places her hand in wet ash, and has a mini-freak out that she is going to get radiation poisoning. Unfortunately, she is right. Having that amount of fallout ash touching the skin would result in beta radiation burns at the least. To take this even further, look at the fallout prediction maps the show itself uses. Robert intentionally chose Jericho as it was outside of this fallout pattern.
Also the young kid on the roof watching the mushroom cloud and the whole town should have been destroyed. The general rule of thumb is that if you have line of sight to a nuclear explosion, you will die. If not from the initial blast and shockwave, then from the huge burst of gamma radiation you just absorbed.
The Atoner: Jake shows aspects of this, for stuff he did in Iraq.
Back Story: Most of the characters have a backstory which is never really expanded upon. For example, Johnston and Gail's relationship started as an affair, Jake 'got involved with the wrong people' and ended up shipping things in Iraq for J&R, and Stanley raised Bonny after their parents died. Hawkins' back story is the only one which directly affects the plot, all the others merely affect a few character's decisions and choices (as they should).
Badass: Most notably Hawkins, but Jake too. Teenagers Allison, Dale and Bonnie each got one incident that was enough to earn them badass status for a long time.
Technically, according to the documents we see on screen (Jake's passport and Eric's driver's license), Jake is the older brother, having been born January 21, 1977, while Eric was born September 21, 1977.
Which also means that even if their mom got pregnant as soon as she could after giving birth, Eric was still born at least a month prematurely.
Big Damn Heroes: This show lives and breathes this trope, most notably the Texas Air National Guard saving Jake Green and Robert Hawkins from a pair of AS Air Force interceptors in the final episode.
Bilingual Bonus: The Morse code at the start of each episode gives a hint/spoiler for the episode.
Bus Full of Innocents: The first episode had Jake rescue a school bus full of kids. The second has him using a different school bus to ferry hospital patients to a mine being used as an improvised fallout shelter.
Johnston: We'll keep this from the town. No need to get them worked up. Other than that I guess...just keep on living.
Jake: No, I mean what are we going to do about tank?
Johnston: Oh, that. Stick it in our barn. You never know when a tank will come in handy.
Chekhov's Skill: Robert spends time teaching Allison how to shoot for self defense. Not only does the effort help shore up years of Parental Abandonment, but it even saves his life.
After two seasons of hearing about how great of a pilot Jake was, we finally get to see him fly when it really matters.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: A handful of smaller characters, along with their subplots were dropped and went unmentioned during the second season, due to the significantly shortened season length. Whatever happened to Bonnie's boyfriend anyways, and did Mary ever get back together with Eric?
The entire trope could be simplified to just this conversation from the show:
"Does your family still play football before Thanksgiving Dinner?"
"Of course! There's some things even the apocalypse can't change!"
Episodes where the characters leave town and explore the outside even further underlines how easy the citizens of Jericho has it. Pretty much everywhere else has fallen to violence, anarchy, and complete collapse of order. While Jericho has energy, a salt mine, farm land, and is out of reach of radiation zones, all while maintaining diplomacy and law. It positively enrages all the other towns nearby.
Could Say It But: Jake does a subtle one in season 2. "Dale, as sheriff it's my job to tell you that even though the vaccines are on a J&R transport out to be destroyed in Cheyenne, it'd be a big mistake to hijack that truck...the only way someone could do it would be to remove the contents of the boxes without being detected and leave the barcoded containers in the truck. You know what I'm saying?" The next time we see Dale, he's returning triumphantly with the vaccines.
Deconstruction: The whole idea of a "post apocalyptic world" is deconstructed here. While it never gets as harsh as other portrayals, we see how the seeds of such events are sown.
Disaster Scavengers: Everyone, by default, is at least a little of a scavenger. Some reaching truly depraved levels of opportunism.
Divided States of America: In season 1, there are six federal governments. By season 2, there are only two contenders: the Allied States of America, of which Jericho is geographically a part, and what's left of the original United States government.
Texas is still an independent nation, but the government in San Antonio doesn't claim to be a successor government of the old United States like the other two do.
Due to the Dead: The soldiers allow Stanley time to give his sister a proper burial before they arrest him.
Evil Counterpart: New Bern to Jericho. Early on, Grey is something of this to Johnston, then Grey becomes mayor and Constantino becomes his Evil Counterpart.
Fallen Princess: Skylar, though around the middle of the first season she begins to rise again. Now that she's got ownership of 50 percent of the town's salt mines, she isn't just popular, she's capable of being powerful, and tries to turn Dale's store into their empire.
Hot Teacher: In the first episode it seems as though Heather was this, as she was the one in charge of a bus full of school children on a field trip. After the pilot though she gets turned into more of a mechanic and Emily is shown to be the school teacher instead.
Ironic Echo: "I think this will go a lot smoother if you just sat there and listened to what I have to say".
It's All About Me: Emily in spades. In early series one, she constantly complains that her fiance's dead. Thousands of Americans are slowly dying from radiation poisoning and society is crumbling due to the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse, yet everything clearly should be about her, right?
Case in point: In the episode where Ravenwood is hours away from invading their town, murdering everyone in their path, and looting the burnt wreckage of whats left, Emily spends literally the entire time getting drunk on a girl's night out and complaining about how this was supposed to be her wedding day.
Jerkass: Eric - didn't work on fixing his marriage when he had a chance and then abandoned his responsibilities as a husband, betrayed his vows, and left his wife. And then had the nerve to blame April for wanting a divorce.
Since it takes two to tango, Mary - the home-wrecking skank that seduced a married man and thinks there's nothing wrong with her behavior.
Sean, skateboarding punk that goes out his way to be mean and destructive. He does get a bit more civil when he starts dating Bonnie, though.
The Mountains of Illinois: While the pilot was filmed in the Canadian prairie and thus looks flat and treeless enough to be Kansas, much of the show was filmed in southern California, and thus has mountains.
Played hilariously straight with the depiction of Cheyenne, Wyoming. In the show, Cheyenne is surrounded by green rolling hills, verdant forests and is at the base of a snow-covered peak. None of this is true. While there are nice areas of the state, including Yellowstone, Wyoming itself is mostly arid wasteland. To get a mental picture of what it looks like, consider Starship Troopers. The scenes on "Planet Klandathu" are all shot in Casper, Wyoming about 80 miles north. That's right, one of the larger cities in Wyoming is the bug planet. Also, the show lists Cheyenne's population as soaring as high as one million residents. Currently, the population of Cheyenne is about 60,000 residents. How on earth could that current infrastructure support an additional 994,000 people?!? The show certainly did not depict this as a gigantic tent city, which would be the only way this could happen.
The morse code acts much like a Bilingual Bonus, as it offers clues beforehand about events in that episode
Oh Crap: Twice in the pilot, the townspeople seeing a mushroom cloud and when Dale implied there might have been another explosion in Atlanta.
One Nation Under Copyright: The Allied States of America is riddled with former employees of Jennings & Rall, from the new President on down. The company becomes integral and inseparable to the day-to-day operation of the government.
Put on a Bus (Subverted): Heather goes to New Bern to help design the wind turbines to help power the town. Afterwards she's reported dead shot trying to sabotage the mortar machine but is later seen again rescued by the army.
Reality Ensues: Happens in "Termination for Cause" when Jake and Russell were arguing what to do with Goetz, then Stanley drove up and shot Goetz in the head for killing Bonnie
Returning War Vet: Jake, whose skills from the army make him an effective defender of the town, though it's stated he's not quite as capable as Robert Hawkins
Jake wasn't actually in the army, he was working for a "private contractor" (Jennings and Rall), but did experience the war through that. Since Hawkins was thoroughly trained for what he does, he is much more able to navigate the situations they face than Jake, who reacts emotionally to what happens more often than not.
There were a few other unnamed black guys (like the owner of that gas station), though mostly in the background.
Semper Fi: A band of Marines come through the town, offering reconstruction. It turns out they're actually civilians pretending to be Marines, having picked up their equipment after a food riot.
Shout Out: The producers evidently read Alas, Babylon. At one point, Dale can't sell some metallic trinkets because there's a fear of irradiated metal (which is identical to a plot in Alas, Babylon). Hawkins also suggests that Jericho is located away from projected fallout clouds and has access to useful resources, much like Fort Repose.
Take Our Word for It: The number of explosives in 20 cities would in reality be pretty meager for the effect it has in effectively shutting down the United States. Remember Tropes Are Tools, though.
Taking Over the Town: This is what the Ravenwood mercenaries do to a town they invade. They take all the supplies and shoot anyone who opposes them. Since the towns are isolated from the outside world, they do not have to worry anyone coming to help the townspeople. The people of Jericho try to preempt this by blowing the bridge into town themselves before Ravenwood crosses it.
Too Dumb to Live: During the radioactive fallout, there are a bar full of people who are literally choosing to play pool and drink beer and die of radiation than to just get in the basement.
Took a Level in Badass: Everyone. Johnston Green, a former US Army Ranger, trains most of the citizenry and organises them into an armed force to defend the town. The "Jericho Rangers" spend the next fifteen episodes kicking all kinds of ass.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Eric was having an affair with Mary and fully intended to leave his wife April for Mary. But when he finds out April had filed for divorce (which she later regretted) he acted self-righteously hurt and refused to talk to April about it.
Torture Always Works: Subverted and lampshaded by Hawkins, who says that the fear of torture is more effective, and that real torture only works in the movies.
Also averted at other points when it proves completely ineffective against Eric, Jake, and others.
Torture Technician: Double subverted with Robert Hawkins; the initial subversion is as explained above, however in his explanation as to why torture does not work, he indicates "I've done enough, Jake, to know better..." that he has done plenty of cold-blooded torture in the past and learned of its ineffectiveness through experience.
Two Lines, No Waiting: Robert Hawkins secret involvement in Project Red Bell seemed a completely separate story from the the whole survival of Jericho story arcs. The only link that brings the two stories together is Jake finding and keeping Hawkins' secret.
Where The Hell Is Springfield??: The citizens were able to see the mushroom cloud from the bomb that hit Denver. It was suggested that Oakley, Kansas, was Jericho's stand in. However, Oakley is about 70 miles east of the Colorado state line. It's doubtful you could see the Denver mushroom cloud even if you were standing on the state line at the moment it detonated. You still have to drive well into Colorado before you see the mountains.
The mountains can't be the Rockies, otherwise the mushroom cloud would be in front of them rather than behind. They must be a closer, fictional mountain range near Jericho. In the third episode, Stanley says that he saw a line tanks driving "over the ridge".
In the episode Four Horsemen, one of the pilots on the flight recorder estimates that the mushroom clouds are 16 kilometers in height, which would be visible on the horizon from parts of western Kansas. Probably not with the fictional mountain range obscuring them, though.
A map of Jericho that was posted on the CBS website showed I-70 and state routes 40 and 83 intersecting in Jericho. If this map is canon, then Oakley is Jericho's real-life counterpart. In real-life Oakley, I-70, U.S. 40 and U.S. 83 intersect, but in different ways than the map indicates. For example, the "official" map of Jericho shows I-70 going through town. At Oakley, I-70 skirts the town to the north and east, only coming within 3 1/2 miles at its closest point. In fact, Oakley is snug in the northeast corner of Logan County, within three miles of Gove County to the east and spilling over into Thomas County on the north. The way I-70 is routed, it never even enters Logan County, much less Oakley itself.
A World Half Full: The series lives and breathes this trope. Every episode poses new challenges to overcome, yet the determined, all-American Jericho residents step up to the plate time and time again to ensure survival and perhaps even a sustainable future for themselves, their families, their community, and even their nation. There are no epic instant fixes, but rather small victories here and there, and solving one set of problems sometimes leads to others (~cough~ Ravenwood ~cough~).