Series / Ripper Street
Jack's crimes will not be forgotten.

In April 1889 (six months since the last Jack the Ripper killing), H Division is responsible for policing one and a quarter square miles of East London, a district with a population of 67,000 poor and dispossessed. The men of H Division had hunted Jack the Ripper and failed to find him. When more women are murdered on the streets of Whitechapel, the police begin to wonder if the killer has returned.

Among the factories, rookeries, brothels and pubs, Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and Detective Sergeant Bennett Drake (Jerome Flynn) team with US Army surgeon and former Pinkerton detective Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) to investigate the killings.

They cross paths with Tenter Street brothel madam Long Susan (MyAnna Buring), who came to London with Jackson from America and lets him reside at the brothel. Their relationship becomes strained due to Jackson's close involvement with H Division and Reid.

Sensationalist newspaperman Fred Best (David Dawson) knows a dark secret about Reid's daughter's death. Although still being troubled by her daughter's death, Emily Reid (Amanda Hale) determines to make a new life by helping the fallen women of Whitechapel despite her husband's reservations.Each episode features stand-alone crimes that test Reid, Drake and Jackson, both in their working and private lives.

Axed in 2013 after two short seasons but Un-Canceled in 2014 after Amazon stepped in to co-fund it.

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This work features examples of:

  • And the Adventure Continues: The last episode, "What Use Our Work", ends with one of the officers coming in and announcing that a man has locked himself up with four hostages and is threatening to kill them if he sees any cops. The scene ends on Reid getting up from his chair and turning to Drake and Jackson with a simple, "Shall we?"
  • Anyone Can Die: Hobbs.
  • Artifact Title: In-Universe. Jack the Ripper's crimes and the investigation into them are relegated to backstory. The show actually begins several months after the last of the Ripper killings when the crimes are still very much on everyone's minds but Whitechapel is slowly adjusting back to "normal".
  • Artistic Licence History: Although it's well researched, a number of small liberties are taken with the biographies of the historical characters.
    • Most notably, Edmund and Emily Reid have one child, Matilda, apparently born c. 1880. In real life they had two, Elizabeth (b. 1873) and Harold (b. 1882).
    • Emily dies offscreen sometime before 1894; in reality she died in 1900.
    • Fred Best is murdered in 1894; the real Best was apparently still alive in 1931.
    • Reid and Abberline retire at the same time in 1894 - historically, Abberline did this in 1892 and Reid not until 1896.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Jackson and Susan get a moment at the end of "A Man Of My Company".
  • Badass Beard: A good few, this being the late 19th century. Arthurton and Abbeline are the most prominent. Gabriel Cain in "A Stronger Loving World" also sports a rather magnificent one.
    • Though Edmund Reid, who historically did have a beard, goes clean-chinned.
  • Big Damn Heroes: H-Division, on a number of occasions.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Heavily implied to be the origins of Susan and Jacksons relationship
  • Body in a Breadbox: In "Heavy Boots", two naked bodies are found stuffed into two barrels, but though their joints were broken to make them fit there's not a scratch on them. Turns out the barrels were built around the bodies, which leads to the identity of the perpetrator.
  • Bookends: The first season begins and ends with Rose in need of rescue.
  • Bottle Episode: "The Incontrovertible Truth" in season 3, which takes place over a single night at Leman Street Station.
  • Call Forward: Reid gives Hobbs an arduous task of inspecting a huge stack of files.
    Reid: One day, constable, there will be gleaming machines that will perhaps make light work of such process, but for now you will find in the custody of Sergeant Atherton some excellent Turkish coffee with which I suggest you make keen acquaintance.
  • The Cavalry: A pack of vigilantes plays this role at the end of the second episode.
  • The Coroner: Jackson's official role, although he has also been seen gathering information and kicking ass.
  • Cult: "A Stronger Loving World" is about one.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Everyone, but especially Jackson and Long Susan.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Chief Inspector Abberline. Most characters have moments of this but he's the king of it.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: When Reid, Jackson, and Drake trace the origins of The Plague in "The King Came Calling", they find that the initial victims were all part of a secret club of a queer men. The men in question panicked when the police showed up because they thought they under arrest for being homosexual and/or crossdressing. Jackson at least doesn't judge them for what raises their flag.
    • Sympathetic Jewish characters suffered from antisemitism in the form of hateful slurs, political disempowerment, and physical violence. Economic based antisemitism was a major plot point in the seventh episode.
  • Determinator: Blush Pang's brother is dead set on getting her back home.
  • Dirty Cop: DI Shine.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Frequently deconstructed, since the series starts on the heels of the Jack the Ripper case. Sex workers are portrayed as well-meaning people in a less-than-ideal situations and the audience is meant to sympathize with them even though the society they live in doesn't.
    • The only reason the police give Susan's girls any protection is because Jackson, who lives in the brothel, has friends on the force.
    • The victim in the first episode only did pornographic photos because she and husband were in debt. She tried to hide it from him so he wouldn't be ashamed of her.
    • Rose, an important minor character, has been attacked/kidnapped twice in the first season because her profession makes her vulnerable to very unsavory men. In the second case, Reid exploited this trope by using another prostitute as bait for the man who took her.
    • Mrs. Reid runs a shelter for abused and homeless prostitutes. When she tries to get a sponsorship for the shelter, she's turned down at first because the wealthy widow she went to considered prostitutes subhuman and unworthy of compassion.
    • One woman who stayed at the shelter was badly beaten but didn't name her attacker because she knew she wouldn't get justice.
    • In an oddly positive deconstruction, a wealth entrepreneur thought no-one would cared enough about his emotionally fragile Sex Slave to investigate his attempts to murder her in order to save face. It turns out, H division care. He's exposed in a publicly humiliating fashion and receives a Karmic Death.
    • A somewhat thornier instance in "Threads Of Silk And Gold", which has several very sympathetic rentboy characters whose circumstances leave them doubly vulnerable, shown amongst themselves as both trusted friends and devoted lovers trying to look out for one another and hoping desperately to achieve better circumstances for themselves. In light of the episode's treatment of homosexuality, however, their ultimate fates come across a bit Bury Your Gays.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: "Tournament of Shadows" has a Russian secret policeman coming undercover to England, pretending to be a socialist instigator, getting turned to becoming a British double-agent who intended to have him discredit the socialist movement, then betraying them to bomb London for real. Yes, it's as twisted as it sounds.
  • Driven to Suicide: The photographer who betrays Reid
  • Double Standard: In-universe. When the stockholders of a shipping company throw a collective fit when they discovered that a woman designed the new engine that could save their company.
  • Doubling for London: The London street scenes are actually filmed in Dublin. Most of the 1880s East End has long been demolished.
  • Duel to the Death: Jackson offers a pursuing Pinkerton one in "A Man Of My Company". Naturally, he's planned ahead for such a meeting.
  • Everyone Can See It: Reid and Jane Cobden. To the point where Jackson, of all people, becomes the Shipper on Deck on the basis that if it's so obvious that even he can see it, then it's meant to be.
  • The Fagin: Carmichael in "In My Protection".
  • Finish Him!: Reid to Drake, about Shine, at the climax of season 2. From Drake's response, it's clear he isn't going to do it, but it's a sign that Reid has gone dangerously down the Well-Intentioned Extremist route. The season ends at that point.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: In Season 3 Drake threatens to remove a suspect's big toe, and has the screaming man's foot on his lap and the bone knife ready when Reid rushes into the cell and throws him out. Reid promises protection, and the man gives him everything he knows.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Drake after Bella's suicide.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Reid, who was once the shortest man on the force at 5'6", is played by 6'2" tall Matthew Macfadyen.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Yes, there was an Inspector Edmund Reid. Wikipedia has more
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Rose, absolutely. Drake's wife Bella was also formerly a prostitute. Finally, to an extent, there is Long Susan, brothel owner and manager if not a prostitute herself.
  • Hope Spot: In "What Use Our Work". The whole episode hints that the Silvers have Reid's daughter, and that they can be reunited-but the girl they have isn't her.
  • Honey Trap: A rare male example. Victor Silver used the "Lonely Hearts" column to find women. When they met him in person, he drugged and imprisoned them.
  • I Have Many Names: It's implied that Homer Jackson is just the latest in a string of aliases.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: The climax of "Our Betrayal, Part 2". The "you" here being Reid, who is screaming for Drake to kill Shine. Nobody else speaks, but but Drake and Jane Cobden clearly think this.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Linklater in "Pure as the Driven..."
  • In the Back: Blush Pang stabbed her brother to save her lover, saying that she didn't want to return home and follow tradition. Not two minutes later, her lover stands by and allows her to be arrested.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Reid, Bennet and Jackson do this to the poisoner Claxton - squeezing his broken arm - in "The King Came Calling" to find out where he sent the consignment of poisoned flour.
  • Jack the Ripoff: In "I Need Light" Sir Arthur Donaldson, the killer, hoped to pass off his victim as one of Jack's.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The rivalry between the Metropolitan Police and the City Police causes problems in "The King Came Calling".
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Blush Pang's brother
  • Master Poisoner: Claxton in "The King Came Calling", who creates a poison combining antimony and ergot and uses it to contaminate the flour supply in an attempt to become more famous than Jack the Ripper.
  • Meaningful Name: The Hooker (well, Pimp really) With a Heart of Gold is called Susan Hart. As it's an alias, she may have chosen it as a meaningful name in-story as well.
  • Mushroom Samba: Jackson undergoes this when he injects himself with the drug Blush Pang has been giving her clients.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Susan after the bond robbery goes tragically wrong. It drives a lot of the plot of season three.
  • My Greatest Failure: Reid actually has two: Failing to catch the Ripper and losing his daughter in the Thames. The fact that the latter occurred because he brought her on a stakeout for the former makes the whole thing worse.
  • Never Found the Body: Victor Silver and Matilda Reid. Rather cleverly zigzagged, with the former dropping heavy hints at the survival of the latter. It turns out to be a lie, and Matilda is still missing.
  • Nice Hat: Truth in Television; people wore hats a lot in those days.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: A dark example, Goodnight kills Hobbs in exactly the same manner as he earlier killed the engineer, tying the two murders together and providing a vital clue. Further, by dumping Hobbs in the water still alive, his hand went into a rigor mortis-like state, allowing him to hold the vital clue in his hand even after his death.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Long Susan and her ladies.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Occurs to Big Bad slumlord Silas who spends the second season menacing Susan and Jackson for their debts which they eventually pay off with a diamond - what he isn't prepared for is the pissed off De Graal Diamond Company thugs coming to get their diamond back. Cue Impaled with Extreme Prejudice
  • The Ophelia: Lucy, the murder witness from "The Good of the City".
  • Pinkerton Detective: Jackson used to be one. He didn't leave on good terms.
  • Power Walk: Reid and Drake step out of the station house to rescue Reid's daughter, people scattering away from them in slo-mo. (It was probably the shotguns that did it.)
  • Reality Ensues: In "A Man of My Company" after the stockholders of the shipping company find out that a woman designed the new engine that could save the company they react exactly the way a bunch of late Victorian old men would react and throw a collective fit. It's implied that this allowed Mr. Swift to get the company.
  • Rescue Romance: Played with. Drake has rescued Rose twice. Sometime after the first, she rejected him. The second time, she regretted not accepting his initial advances.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Played with in "Our Betrayal, Part 1", where sounds of lovemaking can be heard as Reid and Jane Cobden, who is definitely not his wife get it on... and Fred Best listening in.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Deconstructed hard in "The Weight of One Man's Heart". Faulkner and his fellow veterans, haunted by the horrors of war, lash out violently at a society they felt hasn't given them their dues and a bloodbath ensues.
  • Shipper on Deck: Jackson may not be conventionally romantic, but he is sufficiently attentive to Reid's emotional wellbeing to ship him with Jane Cobden.
  • Showdown at High Noon: "A Man Of My Company". Two Americans have a score to settle, so what else can be done?
  • Snuff Film: Sir Arthur Donaldson in "I Need Light" is attempting to create the world's first snuff film.
  • Straw Feminist: Raine Thornell
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: First Flight and then Grace look like being this to Hobbs - though in the former case it's ultimately averted.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Long Susan killed a man as he tried to kill her favorite girl.
  • Tattooed Crook: In "In My Protection", The Fagin Carmichael is covered with a multitude of tattoos; each one of which represents a specific crime he has committed. His gang of kids have similar tattoos.
  • The Reason You Suck: Epic one delivered by Best as his death speech. Flight also delivers a stinging one to the crowd harassing Joseph Merrick (aka the Elephant Man) in Season 2's "Am I Not Monstrous?":
    Flight: What is wrong with you?! This man is your fellow! You would stone him?! You call him monster?! Look on your own sins.
  • This Bed of Rose's
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Reid is prone to this when thinking of his daughter.
  • Victorian London: The setting of the show.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The main trio enjoy snarking at each other, but there seems to a growing level of trust between them.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Some of the murders have a political angle that is more often than not sympathetic.
  • Wham Episode: "The Beating of her Wings", episode two of the third season, packs one hell of a wallop. Reid's daughter is alive and insane. The Inspector, unaware of this, finds the man he thinks killed her, beats him to death against a stone wall and, blood-spattered and staring, walks off into the streets of Whitechapel.
  • Wham Line: "Sir, when we find the people who did this... may we kill them?"
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Jackson calls Susan by her real name, Caitlin, when trying to defend his actions in investing in a doomed mining scheme. Susan is having none of it, though. She uses his real name, Matthew, as she calls him out.