(1999-2002) was a short-lived Science Fiction
series that debuted on The WB
network in 1999. It was moved to UPN
in 2001 in a package deal with Buffy the Vampire Slayer
, and completed a run of three seasons.
The series was a combination of a Science Fiction
/Monster of the Week
show and a romantic Teen Drama
. Many audience members felt that the show never quite got the balance right.
The three main characters, Max, Isabel and Michael, are Antarian survivors of the Roswell UFO crash
, and were adopted by human families. Though Max and Isabel were raised in a privileged, loving family, Michael was raised in a trailer with his abusive foster father. Though the three successfully isolate themselves from the rest of their classmates through high school
, their plan is disrupted when Max saves the life of a girl named Liz Parker using his alien superpowers.
Liz's sidekicky friends Maria and Alex add the comedy
to this otherwise broody and dramatic lot.
Based on the YA novel series, Roswell High
. Often considered to have set the stage for (and been superior to) Smallville
, which uses a lot of the same themes, but with DCU
characters instead of original ones.
This TV series provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Upon the discovery of their spaceship's hologram message, the group is met with a projection of Max's mother/the queen. She tells them how their planet has been overtaken, their people are now slaves, and she begs them to save them (presumably the reason they were even cloned in the first place). We expect some resolution of this in the end, but the final episode gives us the happily ever after of between Max and Liz, who seem to have forgotten all about the crisis on their home planet -despite the Skins (the invaders) being repeatedly establish as bad guys.
- Abusive Parents: Michael's foster father.
- Alien Among Us: The three kids are raised human.
- All Therapists Are Muggles:
- The opening of season 2 has Max seeing a therapist his parents appointed to him. After the events of The White Room, one can only imagine what kind of summer Max had... And still can't talk about.
- Jesse sees a therapist after discovering the aliens' secret, telling him that they are in the mob.
- Subverted by Topolsky posing as a guidance counselor at their school.
- Amazing Freaking Grace: Maria sings this at Alex's funeral.
- Anchored Ship: Good God, Max and Liz went through almost every variety of this trope and Michael and Maria toy with it as well.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other
- Applied Phlebotinum
- Bar Brawl: Jesse's bachelor party turns into one.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Michael and Maria ran on this trope
- Beware the Nice Ones: Liz upon Tess's return, blasts her back with a "Get up, bitch!"
- Butt Monkey: Everybody shits on Kyle. In the third season, even Kyle shits on Kyle.
- California Doubling: The wilderness scenes heavily featured Kirk's Rock. The scenes of the town, including the Crashdown Cafe, were shot in Covina, CA.
- The Cast Showoff: Dang, Maria can sing. And have an arc devoted to her musical career.
- Don't forget Valenti's band in season three.
- Cloning Blues: The main characters are clones of alien royalty, and there's a spare set running around Earth.
- Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: Liz assumes Leanna is not an alien because she's sewing in her room. Her internal logic is that if you have alien powers, then you just wave your hand and fix things instead of taking the time to do it handmade. Because, you know, there's now way an alien might find sewing a compelling hobby, or has any rules about never using your powers for mundane things, reducing the chances of being caught, or any other million possible explanations.
- Cut Short
- Deflector Shields: Max can do one of these.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Alex's death comes out of nowhere after a ton of Character Development.
- Drunk with Power: Michael when he receives Max's royal tattoo.
- The Empath: The hybrids, via flashes or connecting with people or things.
- Enter Stage Window: Michael, Max and Liz have all been known to use this trope. It helps that Liz's window leads to a balcony.
- Evil Twin: The "spare set", who got dumped in New York. Though its half of a subversion, with only Rath and Lonnie being actually evil.
- Evolutionary Levels: The Hybrids are supposedly designed to be at the apex of human evolution.
- Exact Eavesdropping: comically play in Viva Las Vegas, when Maria conveniently hears Kyle and Tess talking about going to Las Vegas, and immediately puts the whole plan together. A bit subverted with Isabel who overhears Michael and Max talking about the same trip, and asks to be clarified. Since these kids talk about important things *all the time* in the halls, one wonders why no one else seems to hear them in any other episode.
- First Episode Resurrection: Liz dies at the beginning and is revived by Max, setting off the events of the entire series.
- Five-Bad Band—> Season 2 - The Skins and allies
- Five-Man Band: Season 1
- The Hero - Max Evans
- The Lancer - Micheal Guerin
- The Smart Guy - Liz Parker (Although Maria also is the "street smart" version of this in some episodes)
- The Big Guy - Tess Harding (she may be the smallest member in size but she has the personality and powers of a Big Guy
- The Chick - Maria DeLuca/Isabel Evans
- The Sixth Ranger - Kyle Valenti
- The Mentor - Jim Valenti
- Team Pet - Alex Whitman
- Season 3 is the same as season 2 but with Jesse Ramirez taking Alex's place as team pet
- Give Him a Normal Life: Max gives up his and Tess' son Zan so that he can grow up in safety and relative normality.
- Government Conspiracy: The Roswell Crash coverup, the Special Unit, and the second crash coverup. All including assassination and torture
- Half-Human Hybrid: The kids are later revealed to be alien hybrids rather than pure-up aliens to address the unlikelihood of Human Aliens.
- Hall of Mirrors: Made creepier since both Max and a shapeshifter looking like Max went inside one in Max to the Max, followed by... a lot of people.
- Happily Ever After: The last line of the series: "All I know is that I'm Liz Parker, and I'm happy."
- Healing Hands
- Human Outside, Alien Inside: fairly subtle for the most part, but Michael's reaction to alcohol, where he had electrical lines running through his body and every sense in overdrive, was one of the more obvious cases.
- How Jesse finds out Isabel is an alien.
- Isabel's eyes change when she's "Vilandra" in Interruptus.
- I Believe That You Believe It
- Identical Grandson: The Hybrid Chronicles arc covered this up with Michael finding his human family's donor, who were shocked at how similar Michael was to their father/grandfather. Of course he was the guy's clone.
- One of the book tie-ins has Tess's donor as a character.
- I'll Kill You!
- Inhumanable Alien Rights
- Innocent Innuendo: Michael comes up to Maria while she's working on a shop class project: "You're doing it wrong. You're gripping the wood too tight."
- Keeping Secrets Sucks: everyone who knows to some degree, but especially Valenti, who ends losing his job to protect the kids.
- Les Collaborateurs: Vilandra betrayed her people for her lover, Kivar. Likewise Lonnie (from the spare set) and Rath collaborate with the skins.
- The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: This is interestingly averted in Isabel, who seems to date random guys every other week. She does confess she never lets anyone close, of course, but she's most definitely enjoying her dating life. In contrast, Max has been in love with Liz for years, and Michael doesn't even see the point of it if all he wants is to go "home".
- The Men in Black: The FBI Special Unit, focus of the first arc. The Remnant of the deactivated unit returns in Season 3 for revenge.
- Mind Rape: Tess, to Alex.
- Nikolas to Courtney and Max.
- Multitasked Conversation: a convoluted instance involving a cell phone.
- Mundane Utility: Isabel especially enjoys using her powers to play CDs, reheat food, do her nails, etc.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: The series opens with Liz introducing herself and telling us that "five days ago I died".
- New Super Power: Michael's fingerprint shapeshifting.
- Max's shield in the beginning of season 2.
- Can also be applied to Tess's sudden ability to wipe out and completely change memories at the end of season 2, though no one seemed to be surprised in the show.
- 90% of Your Brain : In one episode, Nasedo mentions that all of the hybrids' abilities are things that humans could theoretically do, if they were better at unlocking their full brain power.
- Official Couple: Max and Liz.
- On Three: Comically used when Max and Kyle are drunk and racing each other to a mailbox.
MAX: Do you see that mailbox? I'll beat you to it. On your mark...
KYLA: It's "get..." You said—you skipped "get set!" You bastard!
- One World Order: Antar's government.
- Psychic Powers: all the major ones, and then some.
- Race Lift: Liz was Latina in the original books. On the show, she was played by the very white (or Jewish; close enough) Shiri Appleby, and her last name was changed from Ortecho to Parker.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Sheriff Valenti, eventually.
- Room 101: The White Room
- Roswell That Ends Well: Of course.
- Running Gag: Characters making comments about working at the cheese factory, particularly in the episode "Monsters." There really is a cheese factory in Roswell.
- Secret Keeper: every single human who learns the truth, except the Special Unit, of course.
- Servant Race: Shapeshifters like Nasedo, Kal Langley, and the two who died at the crash were genetically incapable of refusing an order of their king.
- Shout-Out: Many parodies of Science Fiction shows in general, including discussions of Star Trek, and guest appearances by Jonathan Frakes (a producer) playing himself.
- "Shut Up" Kiss: Michael and Maria's first kiss to "calm her down."
- Story Arc
- Take That: A few shots are taken at Keanu Reeves' acting abilities.
- Take That, Us: In season three, Isabel calls the jellyfish alien from the season before ridiculous.
- Ten Percent Of Your Brain: Humans have psychic powers, which they've forgotten how to use.
- Theme Tune: Dido's "Here With Me".
- They Would Cut You Up
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: "Get up, bitch!"
- Trash Landing: How Max and Michael get out of Valenti's Office in The Morning After.
- Touched by Vorlons: Every humans whom Max brings back to life gains powers similar to the hybrids. It is not clear if they become half-alien themselves or just become as evolved as them. (See Evolutionary Levels above)
- Town with a Dark Secret: Harvest, 2nd season.
- Why Are We Whispering: Season 1 Episode 2, has a rather large whispering exchange between three characters. Max and Liz are spying on someone, when Kyle, Liz's boyfriend, thinks they are actually making out. He approaches them:
KYLE: Hey, Max.
MAX: [whispers] Hey, Kyle.
KYLE: What's going on?
LIZ: [whispers] Nothing.
KYLE: Why are you whispering?
LIZ: [whispers] We’re just, uh, waiting for Michael. We’re gonna go, uh...
KYLE: Why are you whispering?
LIZ: [whispers] We’re going bowling!
KYLE: Liz, what were you doing down there?
LIZ: [whispers] Oh, I dropped my ring.
Why are you whispering?
- To be honest, it was obvious he was thinking they were doing a lot more than making out. His point of view definitely seemed to suggest a little bit more than that...
- X Meets Y: Dawson's Creek meets The X-Files.
- You, Get Me Coffee: Sheriff Valenti assigns Deputy Fisher/ Agent Pierce to wash the coffee pot when he arrives at the sheriff's department.