troperville

tools

toys

SubpagesLiterature
Main
Series
Trivia
YMMV

main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Series: New Amsterdam

"You will not grow old. You will not die. This is the gift we give."
Native American women, upon granting Johan immortality

John Amsterdam (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) is a New York homicide detective. He's also an immortal, born as Johan van der Zee in the Netherlands in the 1600s. While living in the New Amsterdam colony in what would later become New York City, he saved some native women from the depradations of his fellow soldiers, but was mortally wounded in the process. They granted him eternal life in exchange.

He uses his 400 years of experience to solve crime, all the while looking for his true love (who's also the only one that can cure him of his immortality).


This series provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: The main character is 400 years old but looks 35 (the age at which he became immortal via magical means); he sometimes seeks advice from one of his still-living sons, who is a naturally-aging 65-year-old.
  • The Ageless: John Amsterdam has physically been 35 years old since the 1600s. In the pilot he suddenly dies when it seems like he might have had an encounter with his true love, but he resurrects and walks out of the morgue.
  • The Alcoholic: John was one in the past, but at the start of the series he'd been sober for 50+ years.
  • Blessed with Suck: John saves the life of an Indian woman, who in return grants him eternal life and youth until he finds his soul mate, who he will know by feeling it in his heart. Unfortunately, this means he suffers a heart attack that would normally be fatal once he gets near her (That is if Sara really is his soul mate. Unfortunately the series was cancelled before we found out for sure).
    • Fridge Horror: So all those women he has married in the past? He never actually loved them.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Everyone thinks Amsterdam is one.
  • Cassandra Truth: Amsterdam usually answers questions about his past honestly, but understandably, no one takes him seriously.
    Eva: He has a really weird sense of humor.
  • Cursed with Awesome
  • Cut Short: The series was cancelled after the eight episode, without resolving the plot.
    • Though the only reason we got the show at all was due to the 2007 Writers' Strike.
  • Epunymous Title: The hero, detective John Amsterdam, is secretly immortal and has been living in New York since it was the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam.
  • Eternal Sexual Freedom: Averted somewhat with the second episode of New Amsterdam, during a flashback set in the early 1940s, where John fathers a baby out of wedlock with a black women named Lily. She gets fired when her employer sees her with a white man and previously had to enter the hotel where they met through a service elevator. Her father becomes very upset with them both, and says they can never make it in the world (at this point interracial marriage was illegal in most states, for one). The hotel staff react more reasonably than you would expect in real life in the 1940s, but they may not have known John and Lily were together (or it might not have been completely uncommon if a white man had an affair with a black woman). Lily herself breaks it off, knowing they'll be together in the long run. It turns out like this after she gets pregnant, and when they reunite in the black hospital after she has their baby, there are some very pointed looks.
  • Expansion Pack Past: Amsterdam has been a history teacher, furniture maker, painter, battlefield medic, coachman, lawyer, comedian, and a soldier multiple times.
    John: The Army three times, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard; not the Air Force, don't like heights.
  • Exposition of Immortality: The pilot episode has John paint a picture of Times Square and put it on a board near other paintings of the square from past years, dating back hundreds of years ago. Other people are also surprised at his intimate knowledge of old things, such as knowing about a club that used to be a speakeasy in The Roaring Twenties. He also goes to AA meetings and honestly tells them (in days) how long he's been sober (over fifty years). When somebody does the math and tries to catch him on that, he simply claims that he looks young for his age. Oh, and then there's the reveal that his Black Best Friend Omar York (who is 65 years old) is really his son.
  • Fake American: Justified in universe example in John Amsterdam, who was born in the Netherlands. Before there were any Americans in the modern sense.
    • Zuleikha Robinson, who portrays his partner, is a straight example-she's British playing American.
  • Fanservice: John's penchant for nude swims.
  • Flashback: The short-lived show has John do flashbacks occasionally, starting with the pilot, where he remembers how he was mortally wounded defending a Magical Native American woman, who repaid him by making him immortal until he found his soulmate. Oftentimes, he remembers past lovers (each time, he thought she was "the one"), children, and dogs.
  • Historical Person Punchline: "Soldier's Heart": Walt the orderly turns out to be Walt Whitman.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: John wants to find his true love, so he can finally be able to grow old and die.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Totally averted; Amsterdam's had kids all over the place. Likely part of the above. After all, outliving any children sucks. Being cursed to outlive ALL your children...
  • In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: Amsterdam had a relationship with Emily Dickinson and knew Walt Whitman, Sarah Bernhardt, and John Coltrane. Then again, we are seeing the edited highlights.
  • Magical Native American: John was made immortal by a Native American shaman after taking a bullet meant for her.
    • The premise is that a Mighty Whitey saves the life of a Magical Native American and in return they use their magic to make him immortal. Naturally, it never occurs to them to make the members of their own tribe immortal. However, they only made him immortal until he found his true happiness (Blessed with Suck?), at which point he'd become mortal again. Since they're not around anymore, the implication is that they were already quite happy the way they were, making it less Magical Native American and more Noble Savage (recovering Magical Native American).
  • Magical Negro:
    • A bizarre twist and possible subversion-the protagonist's mentor who gives him sage advice and a beer whenever he needs to unwind and talk about his troubles, while a very stereotypical grizzled and kindly old black man, is also...the protagonist's son. Such are the vagaries of being an unaging immortal (the kind who can have kids but can't pass on the immortality).
  • Mayfly-December Romance: Downplayed, where the premise is that the main character will be immortal until he finds and weds his true love. Only partly averted because any relationship with someone other than his true love would fall into this trope, including platonic relationships, such as his 67 children. He has mentioned being careful to avoid siring more children specifically because of not wanting to watch them grow old and die before him.
  • Misapplied Phlebotinum: In the 1600s, a Native American tribe has a spell that makes people immortal. In-story use: reward some random white guy who saved the life of one of the tribe's women. Better use: make all of the tribe's warriors immortal, then easily defeat the white guys that are taking their land.
    • Well, considering that we have absolutely no idea how the whole immortality thing works, it's entirely possible that it only worked on people in John's situation (saved a woman/saved a woman from his own comrades/saved a stranger from his own comrades and then was stabbed...). We have no idea how specific the requirements are.
    • The spell also only works until John finds his true love. Maybe all the local braves were already married.
  • The Netherlands: John's original home, back in the 17th century.
  • Off The Wagon: After John dies of a heart attack, then awakens to find himself with a toe tag, he shows up at Omar's and pours himself a drink
  • Outliving One's Offspring: John Amsterdam is an immortal man who has lived in the New York area since the 1600s. He's seen generations come and go, and his children and their subsequent children have all died in the interrim. He's at the point where he's occasionally running into his great-grandchildren, and has to keep a chart of all his relatives to prevent becoming intimate with an unknowing blood relation. His latest son is physically in his 60s during the present day and has his own grandchildren.
  • Pool Scene: The hero, 400-year-old hunk John Amsterdam, swims naked at the Y after hours (he has a key, since he's one of the founding members). His partner runs into him there and unexpectedly gets an eyeful when he climbs out.
  • Product Displacement: The montage at the end of the first episode showed Times Square change over the years, but with all the branding replaced with generic products. Apparently, Mom's Homemade Pies could afford large billboard space during the 1940s.
  • Purpose Driven Immortality: The series had a similar premise to Forever (see Literature) with John Amsterdam, where he would live as long as necessary to find true love (he didn't have the "don't leave Manhattan" part). It led to some plagiarism accusations.
  • Reading Lips: Yet another skill that John has picked up over his long life.
  • Really 700 Years Old John Amsterdam is four centuries old. One episode shows him regularly attend AA meetings. When introducing himself, he's truthful about how long he's been sober (about 50 years). When a guy assumes he's making fun of them, John just replies that he looks young for his age (which is true).
  • Resurrective Immortality: In addition to being The Ageless, John Amsterdam also possesses this form of immortality. He dies in the pilot, but he is resurrected a few hours later in the morgue.
  • Sarcastic Confession: John Amsterdam does this a LOT. He tells anyone who asks that he's an immortal 400-year-old. Paraphrased:
    John: I can read lips.
    Partner: I suppose you were also deaf.
    John: Was for a while. Back in Normandy. A shell exploded too close for comfort.
  • Secret Keeper: Omar (and at least one other kid of John's) in regards to their father's immortality (not that anyone's likely to believe them anyway-though now that DNA tests have come into existence...)
  • Unbelievable Source Plot: The main character is an immortal early Dutch-American colonist that works as a police detective. He uses his hundreds of years of experience to solve homicides in present day New York. Everyone assumes he's a Bunny-Ears Lawyer since he does get the job done, they just don't know how.
  • Vampire Detective Series: Except for the vampire factor, it fits this trope perfectly.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: This happens to John in the pilot. Initially it appears to be a throwaway gag and a way to explain John's "gift". It actually ends up having serious repercussions across the season, as in this day and age you can't just stroll out of the morgue without explaining yourself.
  • The War on Terror: John took his current name and joined the NYPD because of 9/11.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out: An episode has John help an old colleague who is dying of lead poisoning from a bullet that was never extracted.
  • Whodunnit to Me
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: John Amsterdam was given immortality by an ancient spell that will only end when he finds true love. True to this trope, after a few hundred years he wants to do just that.


The New MonkeesAmerican SeriesNew Girl
Nanny And The ProfessorCreator/HuluNight Gallery

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
24453
42