"In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important, groups: the police who investigate crimes, and the Crown Prosecutors who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories."
Actor Allusion: the dead baby in the first episode is found at the Royal Hope Hospital, the name of the hospital Martha Jones worked at in her first Doctor Who story "Smith and Jones".
Adaptation Induced Plot Hole: A mild case, as some of the changes between The Mothership and UK don't quite mesh with logic. For example: Steele's Batman Gambit in "Alesha" makes far less sense that it worked without the Smug Snake smirk of the defendant from "Helpless".
A Fool for a Client-Averted or semi-averted in two episodes: Convicted murderer Luke Slade wins himself a new trial in "Unsafe" based on newly discovered evidence, then an acquittal, just with the law he studied in prison, running rings around the seasoned prosecutors. The mentally ill defendant John Smith in "Defence" also chooses to represent himself, but he'd actually graduated law school before his schizophrenia took over, and even the prosecution agrees he'd have had potential as a lawyer.
And in his final episode, James Steel does an excellent—and successful—job of defending himself against charges of "perverting the course of justice". It's a nice use of a Chekhov's Skill, as it's been mentioned several times that he used to be a defense attorney, though it's odd to hear him refer to himself in the third person as "the defendant".
George: "Just because you two used to do the headboard shuffle doesn't mean you have any insight into how she runs her defenses these days."
Phyllis Gladstone, a virtual Straw Feminist who uses nearly every anti-male Double Standard trope in defending her female clients. Then she defends Alesha's rapist and still tries to spin this as an example of championing women's rights, claiming that she's doing it on behalf of the real victims whom Alesha is supposedly mocking with her False Rape Accusation.
Taken Up to Eleven by Dominic Peck in "Duty of Care." A sexist, ill-read buffoon of a lawyer, it quickly becomes clear that all he cares about is some sort of victory rather than the best interests of his client. It says a lot that the Crown Prosecutors care more about his client's well-being than he does.
Berserk Button: Ronnie, for Matt. He freaks out if Ronnie's threatened.
He has a very similar reaction (along with the rest of the team) to anything happening to Alesha. Oddly enough, in her case, his Berserk Button is just as evident in his visible struggle to NOT freak out.
And understandably, given both his explicit and implicit backstory, Matt's third Berserk Button is abused children.
"I been that kid, Ronnie."
And as tragically seen in "Deals" and "Survivor's Guilt", Matt, for Ronnie.
(from "Confession": "God forbid Matty here got himself shot, I'd be out there straight away trying to find out who did it and string him up myself.")
DI Natalie Chandler doesn't tolerate screw-ups from her detectives—or anyone else criticizing them.
Birth/Death Juxtaposition/Retirony: Plays the first trope straight while simultaneously subverting the second. At the end of "Deal", Ronnie gushes to Matt about the birth of his grandson and the possibility of reconciling with his daughter. Minutes later. . .it's Matt who's been shot.
Bittersweet Ending: To many episodes where legal victory can come at a great cost. Driven home in "Survivor's Guilt"— Matt's killer is caught, confesses, pleads guilty, and even sincerely apologizes for his actions. But despite all this, Matt, like so many other victims, can never be brought back.
Britain Is Only London: Despite the "UK" present in its title, the show is only set in London (and originally had the working title of Law and Order: London). That said, the filming locations clearly encompass all of the city, rather than merely the central London seen in most examples of this tropes.
British Accents: In spades. Accents and dialects that appear to encompass every example of this trope, from what seems like every part of London if not all of the UK and all the socioeconomic classes contained within.
British Brevity: Each season has been only 6 or 7 episodes long, and this itself has resulted from a season of only 13 episodes that were split in half in order to align with British viewing habits. The American producers were frustrated by the length they had to work with: only 13 episodes per season. The UK producers were also frustrated by the length they had to work with: a grueling 13 whole episodes per season!.
Also averted in that the show has now been running for 7 seasons—with plans for an 8th—totaling 40-something episodes, something very rare in British television.
British Coppers: Aside from the detectives, obviously, there are plenty of appearances by the other examples of this trope.
British Weather: You can count on one hand the number of scenes where the weather doesn't appear to be chilly and/or rainy, judging both from what we can see, and by how the actors are dressed. It's especially glaring for an episode that will have time stamps indicating that it's mid-to-late spring, yet everyone is in coats and scarves and has visible breath. This was probably inevitable, given that the series is filmed in London.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Defense counsel Jason Peters, an obsessive-compulsive germophobe who's never lost a case.
Continuity Nod: Ronnie's knowledge of French enables him to speak with a witness in the first episode. . .and to a witness in the most recent one. It even doubles as a Bilingual Backfire, as aside from the fact that Ronnie can speak French, it turns out that the man can understand English after all.
Cross Over: John Munch hasn't turned up. Yet. And while the London setting is a bit out of the way for the New York based Special Victims Unit and Major Case Squad, it's almost definitely going to happen at some point. One of the creators joked that it's a contractual obligation for Richard Belzer to appear in every Law & Order series.
Darker and Edgier: Occasionally, the show will take a Mothership script and give it a darker, less-sympathetic spin:
"Defence" - The defendant in "Pro Se" was portrayed far more sympathetically; less trying to duck the consequences of his actions as clinging to a chance to do what he was trained to do and angry at the mental disease that led him to those acts. The defendant in "Defence" showed an utter lack of remorse for any of his actions and treated the whole thing like he'd smashed someone's window.
"Safe" - in the original ("Angel"), the defendant was a disturbed woman who killed her infant daughter because she believed she'd be better off dead and in heaven than with her. In "Safe", the mother was a self-centered dullard who let her boyfriend abuse her son and killed him rather than let Child Services take the child (or hand him over to his biological father).
"Confession". The Pedophile Priest in the original episode "Bad Faith" was a pathetic loser who did nothing but make excuses for his behavior and try to blame everyone else for his actions. His counterpart in "Confession" was even worse—a menacing figure who alternated between showing absolutely no remorse for his crimes or smugly denying them outright and 25 years later was still trying to intimidate his former, now adult victims into keeping quiet.
The victim in "Vice" turns out to have been an Asshole Victim—he was blackmailing his killer for sex in exchange for not arresting her nor revealing her secret life as a prostitute. It's implied that he'd done this to other women.
"Samaritan": The homophobic cop who did nothing to help his dying colleague because he disapproved of his sexual orientation.
"Honor Bound": Jimmy Valentine, who is revealed to have been working for a local drug dealer, going so far as to steal evidence and murder a potential witness on his orders. Adding insult to injury, when he's arrested, he tries to implicate Ronnie as payback.
In "Tremors", the killer is a prison guard whose mother was killed on the train. He's far more sympathetic and less corrupt than the other examples listed, but his actions are still a major breach of his duty
Expy: You can clearly see the similarities between these characters and the ones from the American series.
Brooks is clearly Lennie Briscoe, but less snarky.
Also, Devlin is obviously Mike Logan
Natalie is easily Anita Van Buren.
George (and now Henry)= Adam Schiff.
James Steel was not-quite-as-obviously Ben Stone (with Jack McCoy's personal life).
Subverted with the killer is "Vice", who was being blackmailed for sex by the victim, but her claims that she killed him in self-defense when he tried to rape her outright prove untrue.
Alesha is accused of making this by her assailant's defense lawyer.
The killer in "Masquerade" claims the victim drugged and assaulted her (with a story that bears an eerie similarity to Alesha's) and that she killed him in self-defense. It turns out she was in a panic over his insistence on telling her parents about their relationship and concocted the story to avoid her bigoted father's wrath.
Gone Horribly Right: In "Unwanted", as in the original episode it was based on, The lawyer's 'Genetic predisposition toward violence' claim made the defendant believe he was cursed to never escape his DNA, and he asked to be permanently incarcerated.
As well as Alesha's attempt to catch her perverted doctor in the act by returning to him for a follow-up visit—only for him to go so far as to rape her. As awful as this is, it sets in motion a chain of events that gets him locked up.
Good Cop/Bad Cop: Ronnie and Matt would often alternate these roles, sometimes in the very course of an interrogation, with varying versions of each, depending on what kind of person they were dealing with. Sam appears to have taken the latter role firmly.
Some episodes even have them playing both roles—they're both very gentle and supportive of a young suspect in "Vice", and in "Samaritan", Ronnie grills a police officer suspected of leaving his colleague to die while Matt, who believes the man to be innocent, sits silently, leading the suspect (and the audience) to believe he'll be playing "Good Cop". Until Matt opens his mouth and surprises him (and the audience) by proceeding to interrogate him much in the same manner that Ronnie was. It turns out that thanks to some offscreen investigating that shows discrepancies in the man's story, Matt is now just as suspicious as Ronnie.
Her replacement, Kate Barker, played by Georgia Taylor.
James Steel, Jacob Thorne, and a handful of the defense attorneys easily count as well.
Heroic BSOD: Poor Ronnie is clearly in the throes of this at the beginning of "Survivor's Guilt", as evidenced by his stunned, shell-shocked expression and demeanor and his feeble, futile attempts to react like a police officer—"I was first on the scene"—rather than someone who just watched his partner/friend/surrogate son get shot and in all likelihood, die right in front of him and is just utterly bewildered as to how one of the best days of his life (only minutes earlier he was gushing about the birth of his grandson) has turned into one of the worst, not to mention how he ended up having such a hellish experience AGAIN (he already lost a partner to violence).
Sam deals with this throughout "Tracks" and "Tremors", started when he's unable to save a young victim of the train crash.
Heroic Sacrifice / Taking the Bullet: Matt protecting Alesha and the young witness in their case from a hail of gunfire, taking two bullets that would otherwise have struck them.
Honor Before Reason: In "Samaritan" Ronnie insists on investigating the report that a police officer did nothing to aide his dying colleague, despite Matt's angry, steadfast refusal to believe it. The feelings are reversed in the aptly titled "Honor Bound", where it's Matt who insists on investigating an officer's murky account of a shooting, while Ronnie refuses to believe that his friend could be corrupt. In each case, with the evidence mounting, each man reluctantly concedes that the other is right and follows protocol.
In "Tremors", Ronnie questioning Sam as if he's a suspect. The latter is infuriated, but Ronnie presses on, knowing that he has to rule him out.
Hope Spot: there are occasions where the CPS look almost certain to gain a conviction but fall short (for example, "Alesha"). Some episodes zig-zag the trope to get Justice by Other Legal Means (e.g. "Alesha", "Love and Loss"). "Broken" inverts it when the CPS are trying to get a ten-year-old girl for manslaughter by diminished responsibility, but the press latch onto the case and demand a murder conviction, which happens instead, and "Deal" subverts it when the bad guy is convicted. All that's left to do is for Matt and Alesha to escort the young witness responsible into juvenile hall. But just then, a car pulls up . . .
Immediate Sequel: "Survivor's Guilt" and "Tremors" begin very soon after the events of their proceeding episodes.
I Never Said It Was Poison/Saying Too Much: During the prosecution of an accused rapist, the key witness is a young woman who had noticed him lurking about her apartment building (and may very well have been the intended victim had she not evaded him). The man angrily denies ever seeing the girl before, calling her a liar and referring to her many tattoos before covering his mouth in horror as he realizes his mistake—although the young woman's arms were indeed covered with tattoos, she was wearing a jacket. The only way he could have known about her tattoos was if he had seen her previously.
After raping Alesha, her assailant Dr. Merrick tauntingly asks her, "Didn't that feel good?" The rest of the team hears this while reviewing the tape of her attack. Later, as Matt and Ronnie arrest Merrick, he complains, "You're hurting me!" as Matt handcuffs him. To which Matt snarls, "Yes, I know. Didn't that feel good?"
In the same episode, Merrick's attorney goes on a tear about how women who lie about rape (as she incorrectly thinks Alesha is doing) make things harder for the real victims. In the episode "Masquerade", Alesha herself says this when she realizes that the young woman they're prosecuting is lying about having acted in self-defense after being assaulted.
Also from "Masquerade", Alesha blasts a reporter for printing a police report that makes their victim look like a sexual predator (thus lending credence to the defense's claims of self-defense), insinuating the journalist should be more sensitive to the victim since they're both minorities. He blasts her for trying to play the race card to suggest that he have sympathy for a rapist. Yet in the episodes "Survivor" and "Survivor's Guilt", she's infuriated when the others suggest that she be more sympathetic to the respective defendants because of their similar backgrounds.
Ironic Echo Cut: In the episode "Vice", a car thief has the misfortune of being arrested for breaking into car that just happens to have a dead body in it.
Perp: I didn't do it! I didn't do it! (cut to next morning) CSU: He didn't do it. Must've been there ten, twelve hours.
"Vice": The victim turns out to have been a former police officer.
"Alesha": Infuriated at what's happened to her, the group basically pulls out all the stops to bring her rapist to justice.
Ronnie:" I ain't having some ponced-up Harley Street doctor thinking he can get away with this."
"Samaritan": Not only is the victim a cop, so is the person indirectly responsible for his death (he didn't shoot him, but refused to help him).
Technically, in "Tremors", as Sam is seriously considered a suspect throughout most of the episode, and the actual killer turns out to be one of the prison guards
Justice by Other Legal Means: Lampshaded, and carried out, in Season 2. Subverted in Season 1, when Alesha's rapist is accquited of the charges regarding her, but they are able to nail him for assaulting other women.
Lighter and Softer: Many of the UK scripts have been altered to be less cynical or have more sympathetic defendants.
For example, the bored housewife prostitute from "Working Mom" became a housewife who turned to prostitution to save her business and marriage in "Vice", the gang of cops who set up a gay officer in "Manhood" became a single homophobic cop who was intentionally slow to help in "Samaritan", and the unrepentant serial rapist of 12 women from "Mad Dog" became the victim of dreadful childhood abuse who essentially inevitably became a rapist himself and seemed horrified by his actions in "Hounded". There is also the boy in "Born Bad" is given a ray of hope in "Unloved" when he agrees to Steel's suggestion to see a psychologist while in prison despite believing that he is genetically disposed to violent crime.
The killers in "Good Girl" and "Masquerade" were both lying about acting in self-defense following a rape. But whereas the killer in "Good Girl" was upset because her boyfriend was breaking up with her (he was fed up with her concealing their interracial relationship), the killer in "Masquerade" was panicked because her similarly-fed up lover insisted that she tell her parents about them and was threatening to do so himself.
The Asshole Victims tend to be watered down as well. For example, the victim in "Humiliation" was a drug-addicted streetwalker who was blackmailing a customer eventually arrested for her murder. In "Crush", she's an immigrant who resorted to working for an escort service in order to make ends meet and was hoping that her life would turn out like the plot of Pretty Woman.
Some episodes even combine these tropes:
"Survivor": In the original "Punked", a woman was given an unduly harsh sentence for a minor drug crime that she may even have been innocent of and Abby is completely unsympathetic to her situation. In "Survivor", the woman was undeniably guilty of drug trafficking and received the standard sentence, yet refuses to take any responsibility for her actions and insists on blaming Alesha—who is portrayed as merely doing her job—for what happened to her and rebuffs her attempts to help.
"Survivor's Guilt": In the original ("Suicide Box") the perp was a young boy lashing out at the police for botching, then burying, his brother's murder. There, not only did circumstances pile up to increase the sympathy factor, the cop he shot was an unknown character who survived with just an injured arm. The perp in "Guilt" was an adult actively gunning for cops and his victim was a beloved character who perished. But many of the same mitigating factors were ported over from "Suicide Box" (The missing body, the botched investigation) along with the alleged killer being strongly implied to be lying about the murder for street cred.
London Town: Despite being suffixed with "UK", it takes place solely in London. The working title of the series was Law and Order: London.
Long-Runner Cast Turnover: Series 5 began with 1/3rd of the original cast gone, Series 6 with 1/2, and as of Series 7 (by British standards, the show has been on a very long time), Bradley Walsh is the only original cast member remaining.
Manly Tears: Matt struggles to hold these back while talking to Alesha after she's raped, but lets loose with them at the end of "Confession". Ronnie also struggles to hold them back throughout "Survivor's Guilt". The closest he comes to losing it is when his voice breaks while describing Matt as "like. . .my son". And Sam sheds plenty during "Tracks" and "Tremors".
Misplaced Retribution: Matt is gunned down by a young man seeking revenge against the police for bungling the investigation into his brother's murder, a screw-up he believes was racially motivated. But rather than one of the cops who did botch the investigation, or the actual killer himself, he shoots someone who wasn't a racist, had nothing to do with the investigation in question, and if anything would have done everything possible to solve the case, claiming "all cops are the same", essentially displaying the same prejudice he accused the police of. It also doesn't help that whatever satisfaction he may have gotten is fleeting—he can't bring his brother back, his mother now has to contend with losing both of her sons, and he gets to spend the rest of his life knowing the pain and misery he caused Matt's loved ones.
Missing White Woman Syndrome: The killer in "Masquerade" claims to have acted in self-defense after the victim raped her. George shrewdly notes that public sympathy will be skewed in her favor, given that she's a pretty blonde girl while the murder victim is a Pakistani boy.
Not His Sled: A nearly Recycled Script (even admitted so in the credits) had a major shift from the original story in the second half, when something that was a civil matter in New York was a criminal matter in London.
Old Cop, Young Cop: Ronnie and Matt (and later Sam). What's more, the former two really do develop a father/son bond, to the point where Ronnie outright says "he was like my son" when pleading with the mother of Matt's killer to convince her son to confess, no doubt because of their mutually troubled pasts—Ronnie was an alcoholic who neglected his daughters while it's heavily implied that Matt was physically abused by his father/stepfather.
Pedophile Priest: Father Nugent in "Confession". Zig-zags between a screed against the Catholic Church as a whole and a portrayal of the Church as well-intentioned-but-legally-wrong. Not coincidentally aired less than a fortnight after the Pope's state visit to Britain.
Ripped from the Headlines: As with all Law & Order series, but the third season opener, "Broken" (much like the original Law & Order episode that it was based on) is a particularly blatant replica of both the Jamie Bulger case, right down to the infamous CCTV footage of the killers leading the little boy away, and the Mary Bell case from the 60ís with the names changed right down to the girl carving her initials onto the victim, and the 13 year old sidekick that ended up not going to prison.
However, there was one major difference. In Real Life the victims familyís were unhappy with the little sociopath's light sentence for cold blooded murder and her accomplice got off completely. On the show though the victimís mother argued that her sonís murderess should not be punished and just needed rehabilitation and acted like her sentence (the same as the real Mary Bell) was too harsh. Needless to say the victimsí families were not happy with the change.
Sarcastic Confession: The husband of the victim in "Denial" is outraged when he realizes that he's a suspect and proceeds to suggest that maybe their doorman did it because he wasn't given a tip. Sure enough, it's soon revealed that he arranged the hit on his wife.
Setting Update: Aside from the transfer to the UK, the dialogue from the much older episodes of the original series often needed to be upgraded to reflect modern times—technology, cultural references, etc. For example, in "Helpless", the rape victim recorded her assault on a tape recorder, while in "Alesha", she used a camera.
Matt is clearly struggling with this in "Confession", blasting himself for failing to protect his friend from from the priest who was abusing him and for failing to realize that his friend was suicidal.
The very title and theme of the episode dealing with Matt's death. In the opening sequence, Ronnie is seen talking with his AA group, lamenting the fact that he was not able to get to Matt in time to push him out of the way and possibly even take the bullet for him. Then, in a conversation with Alesha, he bemoans the fact that unlike him, Matt never had a chance to experience marriage and fatherhood. Later, when talking with his killer, he goes even further. When he correctly deduces that the young man is so grief-stricken over his brother's death and loved him so much that he would take his place in order to bring him back, it's painfully obvious that he's voicing his own feelings about Matt.
This is sadly evidenced by Matt's killer himself, as his actions stemmed from his desperation to alleviate his grief and anger over his brother's own murder.
Surprisingly Sudden Death: The uber-grim episode "Deal" appears to be ending on a high note—Ronnie's daughter just had a baby boy, the murderous drug dealer has been convicted and Matt and Alesha are escorting the chief witness to juvenile detention, praising him for his courageous testimony. But out of nowhere, shots ring out, and Matt is fatally injured protecting Alesha and the kid.
That One Case: A few of the characters have had this (James, Ronnie). Unlike most examples, the case in question has been solved and put to rest, only for new evidence to surface years later indicating that the person convicted may be innocent.
The gangster Don Marsh expresses his contempt for the law in many ways, including addressing DS Brooks by his Christian name. Brooks will have none of it, insisting:
Brooks: That's "Detective Sergeant Brooks" to you.
Ronnie gets a similar moment on Matt's behalf when Dirty Cop Jimmy Valentine indicates similar contempt for him:
Valentine: "This boy of yours, Devlin—"
Brooks: DS Devlin, you mean?
In yet another scene, he and Matt interrogate another cop whom they suspect of being on the take. When she expresses reluctance about testifying against Valentine, he very pointedly refers to her by her "Detective Sergeant" title to remind her of her duty.
Phyllis Gladstone refers to Alesha as Jacob's assistant and insinuates that it's only a matter of time before she's sleeping with him. Alesha doesn't appreciate either implication:
Gladstone: You'll fall for him eventually. All his assistants do.
Alesha: When I see his "assistant", I'll be sure to warn her.
Vigilante Man: The defendant in "Community Service." He might not have started out like this but he's definitely one by the end thanks to a successful Wounded Gazelle Gambit on a bipolar homeless man who harassed his neighbors.
We Are Everywhere: A Neo-Nazi suspected of killing a Jewish man with a letter bomb make a speech like this, filling the air with tension, which DS Ronnie Brooks promptly bursts with:
Let us know when you're coming and we'll bung on a cup of tea for you.
Wham Episode: "Deal". Even knowing that this would be Jamie Bamber 's last episode doesn't make those final minutes any less shocking. The real "wham" comes at the beginning of the next episode, "Survivor's Guilt, with the revelation that Matt died of his injuries, as he was was clearly still alive, even if badly hurt, at the end of "Deal", thus giving viewers hope that he might make it.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Matt's killer. So angry and tormented over his brother's murder and the police's racially motivated bungling of the case that he takes it out on someone completely undeserving of it, devastating Matt's loved ones, as well as his own mother, who now has to contend with losing BOTH of her sons. Not to mention that he's ruined his own life—he'd heretofore been a solid university student with a bright future ahead of him, but is now facing life in prison. That he ends the episode genuinely horrified and remorseful over what he's done—telling Matt's sister "I'm sorry I took your brother away from you"—cinches it.
Wrong Genre Savvy: When Brooks confronts his corrupt ex-partner, the man searches him and finds a wire. After destroying it, he confesses. It never occurred to him that Brooks would have another wire hidden in the pack of cigarettes he handed to him.