The cast from season 1. From left to right: Mike, Sam, Delinda, Ed, Danny, Nessa, and Mary.
If you're looking for the trope about the city itself, you want Viva Las Vegas. Also not to be confused with the CBS series Vega$.
Running from 2003 to 2008 on NBC, Las Vegas was an hour-long drama that depicted the professional and personal lives of the employees of the Montecito Hotel and Casino, which was based loosely on the Mandalay Bay building. The show underwent several retools during its five-year run, usually referenced in-universe as the casino changing ownership (a few of the owners were portrayed by Dean Cain, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Tom Selleck). James Caan and Nikki Cox left at the end of the fourth season (Caan to return to films, Cox, it was rumored, due to budget cuts) and Selleck was brought in as the new owner. Ratings, however, had never been stellar, and combined with the high costs of filming led the series to be canceled with a Cliff Hanger series finale. Creator Gary Scott Thompson at one point wanted to do a TVMovie that would tie up the numerous loose ends of the finale, but as yet nothing has come of it. Currently airs weekdays at noon and one p.m. EST on TNT.
Ed Deline (James Caan) - The Head of Surveillance and Security at the Montecito, Ed was a no-nonsense ex-CIA agent who had the respect (and fear) of most of the old guard in Vegas, as well as virtually all of the new establishment. He was soon promoted to President of Operations, and became responsible for the day-to-day running of the casino.Danny McCoy (Josh Duhamel) - The central character of the series, Danny was a former Marine and childhood friend of Mary, who worked at the Montecito as a member of the Surveillance and Security team. When Ed became President of Operations, Danny was promoted to Ed's former job of Security head. The show started off with him giving voiceover explanations about what was happening, but this was quickly dropped part of the way into the first season. In the fourth season, Danny and Delinda got together and Delinda got pregnant, and in the fifth season, he was promoted to Ed's old job as President of Operations.Mary Connell (Nikki Cox) - The Montecito's Special Events Director, who was responsible for planning and organizing conventions, weddings, and any other events taking place at the hotel.Sam Marquez (Vanessa Marcil) - The Montecito's Casino Host, responsible for drawing "whales" (rich clients who gamble large amounts of money) to the casino and doing everything she can to keep them happy and betting.Mike Cannon (James Lesure) - The Montecito's Head Valet, Mike is actually a genius graduate of MIT who moved to Vegas for the adventure. After Danny is promoted to Head of Security, he brings Mike upstairs as a member of the Security team. In the fifth season, the recently promoted Danny makes him head of Surveillance and Security.Delinda Deline (Molly Sims) - Ed's daughter, Delinda becomes the Entertainment Manager of the Montecito, overseeing the running of the casino's clubs, restaurants and shops. She has a short-lived affair with Danny at the beginning of the first season, but they later fall in love and get back together.Nessa Holt (Marsha Thomason) - The Pit Boss of the Montecito, she oversees all betting on the floor and monitors the tables to ensure there is no cheating. Her father was a CIA agent who worked with Ed, and after his disappearance, Ed took her in and raised her like a daughter. She is of course very close to Ed, and she and Delinda consider each other sisters.A.J. Cooper (Tom Selleck) - A Wyoming cattle baron who buys the Montecito at the outset of the fifth season, little becomes known about him except that he is a former Marine and claims he got into the hotel/casino business because he wanted to learn about it. He prefers being called "Cooper" instead of "A.J.", is prone to shaking things up at the Montecito, and has a mysterious connection to...Piper Nielsen (Camille Guaty) - A new character introduced in the fifth season premier, Piper is a Concierge, focusing on getting the guests whatever they want (separate from Sam, who only worries about her whales).
This series contains examples of:
Accidental Marriage: Mike and Piper got so drunk in one episode, they ended up getting married in one of Vegas' chapels. After some talking, they decide to stay married.
Accidental Pervert: In one episode, Delinda offers to allow a blind man to feel her face so he'll know what she looks like. The blind man in question reaches out at eye level, not noticing Delinda stood up from the stool she was on, and takes hold of her breast. The man comments "Apparently you're very tall" but makes no effort to remove his hand.
Air-Vent Passageway: In one episode, some bad guys take over the Montecito security centre. Danny McCoy uses the air vent system to try and get some intelligence on them. Right after the audience starts wondering why the hotel with "the best security on the strip" has such a gaping security hole, the vent collapses, conspicuously dumping Danny in the middle of his, formerly EdDeline's office. Logically, Ed knew it would collapse for any intruder. Heck, he may have set it up that way deliberately.
Almighty Janitor: Mike Cannon is an engineer, MIT graduate, and Hollywood Nerd. He starts the series as a valet. He's called in to help the actual security staff several times during the first season. Despite his initial reluctance — due to actually liking being a valet, and the potential pay cut — he eventually becomes full-time security staff. In the final season, he's actually promoted to head of security.
Animal Wrongs Group: They steal a truckload of lobsters from the Montecito to prevent their "murder", and dump them into a shark aquarium, which endangers the sharks by introducing unchecked foreign contaminants into the water. Besides getting them arrested and using the Running Gag of the threat of Prison Rape by suggesting he will become a meat eater, Ed and another casino manager retaliate by organizing an All-You-Can-Eat lobster buffet.
Bi the Way: Sam. After it seems like she and Mary may have slept together after frequenting a strip club the night before, Mary contends that neither of them is actually gay. When prompted, Sam responds that she always thought it was the person you fall in love with, not the person's sex.
Bottle Episode: "The Night the Lights Went Out in Vegas." Only the main cast is used and none of the extras can speak. Danny and Mary are stuck in an elevator with a deaf man who writes notes they read out loud.
Brilliant, but Lazy - Delinda, who is a member of Mensa, but usually acts very flighty and has a short attention span. She used to be a psychology major, and can still reel off several concepts from the field at the drop of a hat, but quit because it was boring.
The Caligula: Monica Mancuso. The Montecito’s other owners have ranged from reasonable (Gavin Brunson) to friendly (Casey Manning) to aloof but thoughtful (AJ Cooper), but Mancuso gradually devolved into outright megalomania during her stay.
Danny: There's a camera directly over you! We can see what you're doing.
Woman: I know!
Catfight: There's a verbal variation between Sam Marquez and Monica Mancuso when they first meet in the third season. Any ambiguity as to whether it's intended as one is dropped out the window when two cats screeching are heard over the soundtrack. The guys later remark that they really regret that they missed it, so it's also in-universe fanservice.
Childhood Friend Romance: Zigzagged with Danny and Mary. They grew up and spent all their time together and he protected her from her abusive father, but they never started a committed relationship. They made out the night before Danny joined the marines. Since then Mary harbors feelings for Danny, which he doesn't reciprocate. When she confronts him over it, she theorizes that he is afraid of commitment because of the way he lost his mother. They have sex again before his second tour. When he comes back he proposes to her, but it is primarily a sign of his shellshock, so they break it off. Danny and Mary have spontaneous sex in a closet in another episode. Then later on they spend a romantic weekend with each other, but still don't get a Relationship Upgrade. Then they both briefly get different love interests. Then Danny starts dating Delinda again, and keeps this a secret from Mary, who is hurt after she finds out. And finally, after four seasons of Will They or Won't They?, Mary leaves town in the season 5 opener.
Cut Short: The series finale wasn't ever intended as such, so when the show was cancelled, it ended on a major cliffhanger.
Daddy's Girl - Whenever Ed and Jillian argue, Delinda tends to side with her father. She viewed their life of travel as a constant adventure and doesn't understand why her mother is tired of it.
Depraved Homosexual: Subverted by a gay couple when they have Danny and Mike over for some food. They say that the four of them can have each other for lunch and then dinner, weirding out Danny and Mike, but then admit that they were just messing with them.
Diplomatic Impunity: Played utterly straight when a Syrian diplomat steals a 90 million dollar Egyptian mummy that was on display at the Montecito casino. When Ed shows up trying to stop the guy before he boards his private plane the cops just let him go on with his business by citing his personal immunity, in spite of the fact that letting a foreigner steal a national treasure would undoubtedly lead to an international incident with Egypt (which unlike Syria, has been a major US ally since 1989). However, the guy who stole the treasure was a selfish dick who simply did not give a crap who wanted it for his private collection, Deline didn't have any legally obtained, actionable evidence of the crime, and Team Montecito had already stolen it back.
Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: One season one episode had Sam really upset by a rival, culminating in suggesting they make a fresh start, make out, then after really working him up ties him to the bed and offers him to a grotesque, obese, borderline woman. This is especially hypocritical in light of the show's generally egalitarian view of gender, and the fact that Sam herself would later be kidnapped and nearly raped, which is treated as serious and traumatizing.
They were laughing about it because she was an Asshole Victim. Even she admitted she wasn't very nice.
Early Installment Weirdness: Some of the season one episodes (including the pilot) featured a "Mr. Schaefer", who was implied to be Ed's boss at the Montecito. The character was quickly dropped.
Egopolis: Neither of them gets the chance to go through with it, but before her death billionaire Monica Mancuso planned to rename the Montecito Resort and Casino The Monica when she was the property's owner, while Sam Marquez toys with renaming it the "Samecito" when she later inherits the ownership from Casey Manning.
Elseworld: "Everything Old Is You Again", set in 1962.
Enhance Button - The show is absolutely terrible about this. In fact, it's built into the very premise: the main characters are almost always able to solve the various crimes that occur in their casino because of the abundance of security surveillance on the premises (as noted in the pilot, Las Vegas has more surveillance cameras per capita than other any city in the world). Nearly every episode has Danny, Ed, and Mike zoom in to identify individuals from security cameras at least twenty feet away and use absurdly sophisticated (for a casino, MIT students gave them the latest and greatest in exchange for helping with a harmless prank) facial recognition software. And yet despite all this, they still manage to get robbed (or at least someone tries to) in every other episode. Some of the more ridiculous examples:
Episode 2.16 has Mike using the footage from two convenience store cameras to create a composite image of Ed driving through a green light (he was falsely ticketed for a red-light violation) by among other things, straightening a diagonal image, and using a reflection on a videoscreen in the footage to zoom in on the (now-defunct) High Roller Ride on the Stratosphere Tower more than 5 miles away.
Episode 2.08 (a crossover with Crossing Jordan) has the boys using four or so medium-close-up-size stills to end up with a 3-d simulation of a room, revealing the face of a women which wasn't anywhere in the recorded material. There's a slight Hand Wave that the computer "extrapolated" the new information from what they already had (which simply means that it took a guess), but it's not even shown how it did so - the audience is simply supposed to accept it.
Episode 2.18 starts out with CCTV footage of a guy's head shoved onto a restaurant counter by Sylvester Stallone, with his hand concealing nearly all of the man's face. They then remove the hand, fill in the missing features, do the same to the other half of the guy's face, ending up with a complete 3-d rendering of the guy's head by pure guesswork.
In Shrink Rap, Mike holds a special filter up to an image of cards on the screen, revealing the markings in invisible dye which a cheater has been applying to them. On the screen, which by rights shouldn't be capable of displaying anything but the human-visible spectrum of colors.
When the Monticito reopens Ed does some Lampshade Hanging by asking to use something he is not supposed to have, suggesting that if the casino wouldn't use it then being ex CIA he would.
Epic Tracking Shot: A signature staple of the series, with some pretty impressive examples. The series even opens with a rather extensive one.
Everyone Has Standards: Sam may do some low things but she wouldn't break the law by drugging her clients to keep them to continue gambling. And when she used a rich man dating service to bring in three whales, her conscience started eating her as the men seemed to genuinely like her and she was just using them. So, she uses her connections and finds suitable romantic interests for each one while she gave them a break-up speech.
Evil Lawyer Joke: In the last episode of season 1, Ed says to a group of lawyers that it might seems strange to them to try to do the right thing for once.
False Rape Accusation: A privileged women lies that Danny forced himself onto her after she came onto him while both were drunk. She then tries to blackmail Ed into using his worldwide contacts to get several of her company's overseas development projects approved in exchange for her dropping the false charges against his employee and protégé. Ed blackmails her right back by using these same contacts to cancel most of her company's projects, and generally make her life a living hell, after which she backs off.
Fanservice: Frequently and unashamedly. There's a reason Delinda's emergence from the pool was never taken out of the opening sequence. And don't worry, it's often unisex.
Femme Fatale: Sam Marquez works for a casino. Specifically, her job is to keep 'whales' - big spenders - happy. Once, she only slept with a guy because he was dying, and she has openly called herself a slut. Strangely, she rarely sleeps with any of the whales themselves, and had to start going to a therapist later in the series after she was abducted and nearly raped and killed.
Field Promotion: Ed goes from chief of security to casino president on behalf of a mysterious owner who just bought a controlling interest in the Montecito.
Genius Bruiser: Sylvester Stallone's guest character, Frank the Repairman. Notably, Stallone is one in real life too.
Genius Ditz: Delinda is specifically described as having a genius IQ. She is very good at running restaurants, fashion, and sex.
In "The Night the Lights Went Out in Vegas", there is a power outage in the entire city, and Mike and Ed are locked up in the surveillance room. Mike, who is claustrophobic, starts freaking out, leading Ed to hit him. Subverted in that Mike says it doesn't work – he's still freaking out, but now his face hurts.
Delinda does it to Mike again in a later episode.
Mike: What is it with your family and hitting people?
Good Cop/Bad Cop: When Ed and Jack Keller are looking for a stolen painting they use this approach to the suspects twice, but switch the roles around.
Good Bad Girl: Sam and Delinda both describe themselves openly as sluts on at least one occasion.
The Heist: "Pharaoh 'Nuff" revolves around a mummy being stolen from the Montecito on the way from the airport by a guy with diplomatic immunity, and Ed deciding that the team is going to steal it back.
High Turnover Rate: Montecito owners are usually killed or bought out, with the notable exception of Sam and outright subversion of Cooper.
Hot Men At Work: Appears in an episode when two window washers are doing work on the Montecito casino's many hotel windows while shirtless. Justified because they were specifically paid extra to follow this dress code to placate the guests.
I Let You Win: In "Delinda's Box: Part 2" Soli Tendar threw his final bet on the roulette wheel, saving the casino from a lose in the millions. He showed this by after making his bet, he wispers to Sam another number and that is the one the roulette wheel came out with.
Imagine Spot: Danny and Mike have two pretty funny ones of these when they think Ed may have had an affair with the deranged Monica Mancuso. The first involves Monica being dominant and Ed submissive behind closed doors, and the second the other way around.
Informed Ability: It wasn't explicitly referenced often, but Danny's status as an ex-Marine made his fighting and marksmanship talents more believable.
Ed Deline and Jack Keller do this to get info from an effeminate artist by destroying his paintings, virtually giving the guy a heart attack in the process. Subverted in the same episode when Ed tries this approach with another artist. It's a modern art painting however, leading the guy to quip that it can't actually be ruined.
Also used by Ed and Danny while questioning an escort service manager.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sam Marquez had enough genuinely nice and selfless moments, where she did something kind even though there was nothing in it for her, to keep her from being a pure Jerkass or Ice Queen. It's also gradually revealed that she had a rough childhood and secretly values her friendships with her colleagues, making her bitchy public personality just a façade to seem tough and unscrupulous. She ends up receiving the most Character Development of anyone on the show.
Karmic Jackpot: In "Delinda's Box: Part 2" Sam and Mike deal with Buddhist monk Soli Tendar who runs with this. Every seven years or so he comes to Vegas from his monastery and wins big each and every time. He gives all winnings away, so as not to accrue negative karma from greed. He even lost a final double or nothing bet on purpose.
Knight of Cerebus: The show was fairly light in tone despite several dramatic moments such as Danny's shellshock and the episode's typical villains were usually high-profile thieves, cheaters and con artists. Then comes Vince Petersen in season 4, who quickly establishes himself as the most twisted and horrifying one when he is revealed as a rapist serial killer when he abducts Sam Marquez to do the same to her. After Sam kills him she suffers from PTSD in the next season and spends most of it trying to cope with the trauma.
A guy came to the Casino to look for a prostitute to sleep with while away from his wife. As it turns out, she is a Domestic Abuser after taking some self—defense courses way too far and now likes hurting him. He finally gets the courage to leave her for good by tying her to the bed, going downstairs and leaving his wedding ring in an envelop with Mike. He then drives off free.
Sam was faced in bet against another Host to see who could be the best. She end up being so desperate she goes to a Gambler's Anonymous meeting to try and convince one of her old whales to come back into the game but relents and is willing to accept a lose when the meeting starts. Mistaken for one of them, she stays and listens to some of their stories, which included a man who recently when off the wagon because the new drug prescription his doctor gave him was causing him to gamble. With this knowledge in mind, she was able to beat the other host.
Lesbian Subtext: In 'Fleeting Cheating Meeting' Mary and Sam argue over Sam's poor behavior before deciding to kiss and make up. They do this by making out on the floor.
Sperm Whales and Spearmint Rhinos: Mary and Sam may or may not have had sex after a night out at a strip club. Also Delinda called dibs on the girl in the gold top while they were out.
Malaproper: Polly the beautician, a woman who speaks near-perfect English, except with a Korean accent. Problem is, she has no appropriateness filter. Take the time her friend Sam is offered a drink by a cute guy in Traffic school. Polly complains that no one offered to buy her a drink. Paraplegic Mitch offers to buy her one.
Polly: No thanks. Wheelchair give me bruises.
Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: An after-sex scene with Sam and a man has him wanting to cuddle, but her zipping up, adjusting her crotch and moving on.
Leo, one of the new guys at surveillance Ed hired in season 2, is revealed to be working together with a group of card counters.
Adam, an employee remotely overseeing the card games in "Hit Me" is revealed to be sending electronic signals to a player.
Mood Whiplash: As a result of most episodes involving at least two separate plots, this happens often on the show. One episode had a plot dealing with someone with a bomb threatening to blow up the casino unless he got to talk to a particular blackjack dealer, which was interspersed with a plot about an Everlast concert and another one about dealing with a prima donna chef.
Mysterious Past: Ed's past with the CIA, and AJ Cooper. We don't even know what his initals mean.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Can You See What I See?" Ed is accused of running a red light. He asks Mike to prove he didn't and Mike uses some tech to show the light was green and the system needs recalibration. To confirm this is legitimate evidence, Ed shows it to a judge playing at the casino, just for consulting knowing the man cannot sit on any case Ed is involved with. The judge looks at the evidence and confirms he would agree Ed didn't run a red light, however he was driving without a seat belt on and that is a more serious offense.
No Animals Were Harmed: Parodied in the episode in which Jean-Claude Van Damme is killed in a rooftop motorcycle movie stunt gone wrong. According to the credits, "No Jean-Claude Van Dammes were killed in the making of this episode".
Papa Wolf: Ed. Take the episode that starts with Delinda being kidnapped unless Ed steals money from the Montecito for the bad guys.
Ed: (calmly) I swear to God I will kill you.
This gets him in trouble a few episodes later when Danny tells Ed to give him and Delinda some space to which Ed agrees, then realizes Ed's installed spy cameras in their suite. He punches Ed in the face.
Precious Puppy: Sam receives a puppy as an unwanted Christmas present from Delinda, then brings it to a dying friend who it comforts.
Prison Rape: Threatened a couple of times after Sam had a rival raped.
Put on a Bus: Nessa put herself on a bus, and at the end of Season 4, both Ed and Mary left town to avoid getting charged with murder for killing Mary's father.
Rape as Backstory: Mary was molested by her father, which informed much of her character.
Rogue Juror: Ed plays this role in "Tainted Love". He's called for jury duty, but before the deliberation among the jury even begins, he already openly notes many discrepancies in the prosecution's case (for which he is almost held in contempt of court), and even investigates the case himself on his off-time. He discovers that the suspect is innocent, but the judge orders him that he can't use any of the evidence that he found out in his judgment. So instead he proves to the other jurors that the guy is innocent by noting that he is left-handed, while the real perpetrator would have to be right-handed to commit the crime the way the photos show. He did this because of his own backstory. He tells his wife that when he was a teenager, he was caught for stealing hubcaps, but even though he committed the crime, a single juror outright refused to find him guilty, which he did because he wanted to give Ed a second chance.
Running Gag: People mistaking Mary for a prostitute, or ogling her breasts.
Samus Is a Girl: In the pilot, Danny is surprised to learn that the super-host "Sam" is a hostess, as she'd previously maintained her mystique by posing as her own secretary.
Shellshocked Veteran: Danny McCoy when he returns from his second tour of duty with the Marines in season 2. He recovers later on.
Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Piper in season five seemed to fill the occupational role Mary had before she left, but Piper's backstory is more reminiscent of Nessa's with Cooper being connected to her past as Ed was to Nessa's.
Television Geography: Boy, oh BOY! The Montecito starts out as Mandalay Bay, then becomes a Conspicuous CG casino that moves around about five times through the first season alone. In the first ten episodes or so the other casinos on the Strip do too, to the point of putting Luxor next to Mirage.
By the time the Montecito II is opened, the casino consistently is located in what is really an empty space south of the Tropicana. However, the view out of the window of Ed's office, as well as the roof in one important sequence, is all the way up Treasure Island.
Tell Me About My Father: Piper mistakenly believes for a while that Cooper is her father; it turns out he's not, but that Piper's father was his best friend and Cooper promised the man he'd watch after her.
That Was Objectionable: An Amoral Attorney tries to net a hefty salary by encouraging his client to pursue a Frivolous Lawsuit against the Montecito. He objects during a meeting with the casino's bosses and main lawyer when he's not even in a courtroom, which is duly pointed out to him.
There Are No Therapists: Averted. In season 5 after Sam was kidnapped, nearly raped, and killed her rapist by throwing him out of his own flying plane mid-flight she went to a therapist to deal with the stress. One episode was told from her telling the therapist about her day and later she consulted him about a broken client who was contemplating suicide.
Token Evil Teammate: Sam. While the other characters are charitable when the situation demands it she is an utter mercenary, using low, malicious and down right evil methods to get high rollers gambling and more importantly losing.
Tsundere: Mary becomes this for a while after Danny and Delinda begin dating.
Vandalism Backfire: Ed tries to get revenge on an anger management therapist by wrecking his car after the therapist had used accomplices in trying to provoke Ed into lashing out throughout the episode. The therapist explains that it's not actually his car - cue the car's hugely built owner (also a patient of his) seeing the damage and telling the therapist that he'll have to ignore his lessons for a few moments.
War Is Hell: Danny is a veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq. He comes back from his first deployment fairly well-adjusted, his second one, not so much.
We Can Rule Together: Monica to Danny after she fired Ed; Danny preferred to team up with Ed against her instead.
In one episode a woman comes to the casino looking for her husband. With some help from Mike and the girls, Mike finds him about to be with a prostitute. Mike approaches him and tells him his wife is there looking for him. He is then justified later because his wife is a Domestic Abuser who took some self-defense courses to be better able to protect herself and now gets a rush from hurting her husband. He just wanted to be with a woman who wouldn't hurt him in foreplay.
Delinda one met a guy at a bar in the Montecito and they hit it off. She was going to meet him later in his hotel room and ended up riding up the elevator with the guy's wife. When they realized he what he was doing, they confronted him and then went off to have a drink together. Oh, and the cheating guy was blind.
You See, I'm Dying: In one episode a childhood friend of Delinda shows up, only to inform her that he's dying of cancer, and is going down a bucket list. This list includes sleeping with her. Turns out Sam does instead.