La Femme Nikita (Nikita in Canada) is a Canadian television spy drama based upon the original French film directed by Luc Besson, co-produced by Jay Firestone (Firestone Entertainment) and Warner Bros., and created for television by Joel Surnow, who later co-created 24 with Robert Cochran, his fellow La Femme Nikita executive consultant. This television series debuted in the United States on USA Network in January 1997 and ran for five seasons, until March 2001. La Femme Nikita was the highest-rated drama on American basic cable during its first two seasons; also distributed on television in Canada (as Nikita) and, ultimately, internationally, it continues to have a strong cult following, according to the definitive book on the series written by Christopher Heyn in 2006. And hey someone had to make this pageThe premise of the story is that Nikita (Peta Wilson) is a homeless street urchin who finds herself wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to die. Recruited by a mysterious organization known as Section One, she is trained as an assassin and paired with an operative known as Michael. Each episode would take Nikita up against various criminals and terrorists or her own employers. A frequent theme of a season would be Nikita attempting to escape Section One.The show is notable for its remarkably dark and unforgiving story lines, especially for the time it was run. Nikita's employers are utterly ruthless and often treat their operatives as less than tools. Likewise, Nikita's own morality is not always justified against the kind of monsters she routinely faces.The series was also known for its soundtrack and the easy way to determine what season an episode was in: the number of words in a title was the season number. A season 2 episode always has a 2 word title.A remake, Nikita, was launched for the 2010-2011 season on the CW. In this series, Nikita, played by Maggie Q, is already rogue and is trying to take down her former employers. At the same time, the series also features a new recruit and tells the story of how a nobody gets turned into an assassin, although there is, naturally, a twist to this.
La Femme Nikita provides examples of the following tropes:
Bad Boss: Operations makes a habit of killing his employees. Theoretically, this is justified since they're supposedly all former inmates facing life imprisonment. In practice, we find out plenty aren't. In fact, S1 spends so much time backstabbing, plotting and counterplotting, etc, that it begins to strain credulity that the organization can function at all.
Beta Couple: While Michael and Nikita's relationship was a central plot of the series, Operations and Madeline, whose ruthless actions were frequently leavened by their soft spots for one another, had a fan following as well.
Big Bad: Operations and Madeline are the real enemy of Nikita.
Calling the Old Man Out: Nikita's father, wonderful man, runs the Sections and arranged for his daughter to be framed, "executed", enslaved, and run through hell, so she could replace him. She doesn't approve.
Canadian Series: It was originally broadcast as Nikita in Canada, but it's been La Femme Nikita since the reboot stared airing.
Clear My Name: Sorta. It would fit well under the old name of the trope (Wrongly Accused), but Nikita spends very little time trying to clear her name, though the wrongful accusation forms a key element of the series. Regardless, once she's been exposed to Section 1, her fate is sealed.
Crazy-Prepared: Standard operating procedure for Section One, including having Michael seduce, marry, live with for several years and father a child by a woman in case her terrorist father decided to contact her.
Dark Lord: Adrian attempts to portray Operations like this. Ironically, had Adrian not oversold her point then it's quite likely Nikita would have just cooperated with her against Section. Instead, Adrian's wild accusations made Nikita interested in determining their veracity.
Deadly Euphemism: "Canceled". "Abeyance operatives". For such a cold and calculated organization they do like euphemisms, and they don't seem to even try to hide their meanings.
Despair Event Horizon: Operations never really recovered from losing Madeline and control of Section in one blow. In his final episode, another character approaches him with a deal; instead of twisting the situation to his advantage, as he's done throughout the series, he shuts down: "I've played the game too many times. It bores me."
Identical Stranger: In addition to several duplicates infiltrating Section under the guise of a main character, there was also Birkoff being replaced by his own twin brother after his Heroic Sacrifice.
Said main character also takes a turn at impersonating another series regular.
Ironic Hell: Nikita actually manages to turn Operations and Madeline from favorably disposed to her to actively hating her due to her constant attempts to undermine them. Nikita also arguably makes Madeline and Operations worse people than they are at the start of Season 1 (a tremendous accomplishment).
See also: Madeline's inner conflict over whether her mother was really the driving force behind her alienation.
"If that's true, then I created my own Hell, and have lived in it ever since."
Kick the Dog: Both Operations and Madeline have numerous moments to remind us that, while they may act like Michael and Nikita they most certainly are NOT Michael and Nikita. Often used with villains to show why Section One is the lesser of two evils.
Luke, I Am Your Father: Subverted. Madeline suggests this of Operations and Nikita (primarily to keep her from killing him), but it's later proven to be false. (Of course, Nikita's argument that no father would willingly expose his child to Section doesn't exactly pan out...)
Lzherusskie: Nigel Bennett of all people. A great actor but his attempts at being Russian are... interesting to say the least.
After two seasons of seeming to be independent, George is introduced as Operations' boss. Behind George was revealed another mysterious "Mister Jones," who turned out to be Nikita's friend Mick. Except he was the a fake "Mister Jones", the real Mister Jones was Nikita's father.
Section One is controlled by "Oversight" and the "Center". Also, Section One must answer to or maintain stable relations with agencies such as the CIA.
Almost all of the black and gray/greyShades of Conflict sub-tropes apply. Section One uses immoral methods to stop terrorism. At the same time, Nikita's actions of upholding moral standards sometimes end in Section One losing the advantage.
Mugged for Disguise: In the episode "Rescue", Nikita is shown saving a woman while dressed like a nurse. A few seconds later, a soldier finds an unfortunate nurse Bound and Gagged in a closet, stripped down to her skivvies.
Oddly Small Organization: Section. Judging by its worldwide reach, and endless intelligence, would probably have hundreds or at least tens of thousands of employees, yet it always seems like a few dozens or so (most of which we already know). As a result, the big boss appears to be micro-managing everything they do. (One might suspect a man in charge of such an organization would have better things to do with his time.) Possibly averted: there was the occasional hint that Section One is just a blacker than usual black ops division of the CIA.
Only One Name: Few regular characters even get last names. Exception for the people Section One opposes, who are always given full names when introduced in the mission briefings.
Pet the Dog: Operations gets these on occasion. Yes, Operations. Such as the time, after Walter endured torture on behalf of Section, he gave him a token of sentimental value and told him to take a month off.
Storyboarding the Apocalypse: Used to chilling effect in Season Two's Finale "End Game" by Operations and Adrian, especially due to the Harsher in Hindsight nature of the discussion. Operations justifies his support of Saddam Hussein by describing the chaos that would follow if the dictator suddenly fell from power. In a unique take on the trope, Adrian provides her own take on the situation, stating that Operations will use Hussein as an attack dog to seize control of the Middle East.
The Stoic: Michael, and, to some extent, nearly everyone at Section One/Division.
The Uriah Gambit: Operations strategy for dealing with incompetent officers. Does it to Nikita several times.
Viewer-Friendly Interface: Although this is mostly the case in the remake, Nikita's computer actually looks like it's running GTK+ 1.0 under an X11 window manager.
Virtual Danger Denial: A hacker attacks both Section One and a rival black-ops intelligence agency and they pull an Enemy Mine to track him and find him. When they do, the hacker shows surprise at the fact that they managed to track him-and it's sort of implied that he thought he was playing some kind of war game.
Virtual Ghost: One is made of Madeline after she kills herself, but it doesn't last long.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Section One, according to some. Some of their enemies as well. Nikita appears to fall into this category in the 2010 remake.
The location of Section One's command center is only revealed to be in Paris when the center is destroyed to prevent the enemy from gaining control. The other command centers and Section One sub-centers are never revealed unless they are destroyed or are temporary installations.
The locations of the missions are constantly shown with on-screen text such as "Berlin, Germany, 20:00 hours". Other times the agents say "terrorist Smith was located in London" or "agent Greg is in Venice and will return by dawn".
There are severalepisodes where the location is given as "Building X, Eastern Europe" or "this information came from Northern Europe", but generally the viewer knows where the operation is taking place.
Yet, mysteriously, all the locations look an awful lot like Toronto, even Sierra Leone (barring some inserted stock footage for an establishing shot).