Aborted Arc: The whole thing with Cyrus being a secret evil mastermind seems to have been dropped in exchange for Hollis Doyle. Cyrus is still morally ambiguous, but no more so (or at least not much more so) than Olivia at this point.
Actually That's My Assistant: In "Top of the Hour," Abby is mistaken for Olivia by Sarah Stanner. A bit of a Headscratcher, as Olivia was the Communications Secretary of the White House for a while, meaning she talked to the press a LOT. Olivia's level of "fame" is a bit confusing sometimes.
Ambition Is Evil: Mellie. She does not take too kindly to Fitz wanting to willingly give up the presidency, demands to be included in security meetings, and there is no love lost between her and Fitz. She also clearly has designs on building a formidable political career of her own once Fitz's term comes to an end. She also falls out with Olivia as she believes the Amanda Tanner scandal could have been prevented if Olivia had not broken off her affair with Fitz.
Angst Coma: Olivia briefly enters one in "Truth and Consequences."
As You Know: Averted and invoked in "Hunting Season." When Cyrus shows Fitz that Olivia and Senator Edison Davis are meeting in public, he starts to say "Didn't they..." Fitz snaps "I don't need a history lesson, Cyrus." Later on when talking to Olivia, Fitz says Edison used to be Olivia's fiance... which Olivia would obviously know.
The Atoner: Olivia wants to do right by her clients, but especially the ones who are women caught in infidelity scandals. Those hit a little close to home for her.
It takes six episodes, but First Lady Mellie Grant reveals herself as this, lying to the entire nation about a miscarriage to save her husband's campaign.
It is interesting, however, that the sheep part isn't unnatural for her, as she does have issues of her own, and seems to be more than a little Troubled, but Cute.
Break His Heart to Save Him: Invoked by Olivia to save *both* David and Abby from Hollis Doyle without either of them knowing about it. She had Harrison do it and didn't tell him why. Whether Harrison did it out of loyalty to Olivia, his friendship with Abby or to get a bigger office is nebulous.
Call Back: In "Enemy of the State" Abby says she would follow Olivia "off a cliff." In "White Hat's Back On" Olivia tells Fitz that her team followed her "off the wrong cliff."
Call Forward: In "Hunting Season" we see Huck has a collection of watches. The importance of this collection is not revealed until flashback in "Seven Fifty Two." The watches are trophies from people he tortured and/or killed.
Calling the Old Man Out: Fitz attempted this with his father, Big Jerry, in flashbacks about the month leading up to the election. But Big Jerry's "The Reason You Suck" Speech comeback was much harsher, and part of the reason Olivia agreed to go along with the election rigging: She didn't want Fitz to feel bad about himself if/when he lost the election.
Casanova Wannabe: Stephen, though he seems to have mostly settled down. He still has an interesting past.
Catch Phrase : Olivia has two: "Tell the president to", usually followed by something that will be roughly meaning "go screw himself" and "It's my name on that door", followed by something among the lines of a "we'll do what I decided".
The Conspiracy: It's not yet clear what the nature of this is, but a large part of Season Two's backstory seems to involve one including Olivia, First Lady Mellie Grant, Cyrus Beene, Hollis Doyle, and Justice Verna Thornton. The conspiracy resulted in throwing the election to get Grant elected, but he appears to be unaware of it, and the depths appear to go much further than that. Quinn's framing appears to have been related to this conspiracy, and it probably is what resulted in her former office being firebombed. Hollis seems to be the Token Evil Teammate; it is not clear how malicious or how implicated the other members are, but it has been stated that their actions would get them locked up for the rest of their lives. We know Olivia generally has good intentions, but it is possible that she is The Atoner for actions in her past.
Contrived Coincidence: It can be argued Huck seeing and recognizing Charlie on a tape falls in this category. This leads to Huck realizing Amanda is dead, as Huck and Charlie were once co-workers.
The Chick: Abby Whelan (when she isn't an alternate Heart).
Fourth Wall Psych: Jake Ballard does this at the end of "Top of the Hour." He appears to smile knowingly at the audience. He's actually smiling knowingly at the cameras he planted in Olivia's apartment.
Gay Conservative: Sullivan St. James in episode 1. Cyrus Beene is revealed to be this in episode 4.
Green-Eyed Monster: President Fitzgerald Grant veers HARD into this territory in the season two episode "Hunting Season." He finds out Olivia was talking to Democratic Senator Edison Davis who used to be Olivia's fiance.
Olivia: Had an affair with President Grant during the campaign and covered up "Quinn's" real identity, even conspiring with a Supreme Court justice to get her acquitted.
Abby: Was married to a famous U.S. politician until she ran away. Their marriage had a history of domestic abuse and he's still searching for her.
Harrison: Convicted of insider-trading, served serious jail time.
Stephen: Was a hotshot lawyer, then had a breakdown in the middle of a trial where he was defending a large company that had destroyed a few lives through their chemical manufacturing.
Quinn: Her real name isn't Quinn, and she didn't exist in that identity until two years ago.
As season two reveals: her real name is Lindsay Dwyer, she was framed for a bombing that killed seven people, and the conspiracy surrounding why stretches to not only Olivia, but the Supreme Court and the national security of the United States. This was further explained in "Happy Birthday, Mr. President": Hollis Doyle, the head of Cytron, rigged the explosion to get rid of evidence that Cytron helped orchestrate the rigging of the presidential election in Fitz's favor. He framed Lindsay Dwyer for the bombing. This did not sit right with Olivia, so she and Huck spirited Lindsay away and gave her a new identity as Quinn Perkins..
Huck: His dossier is apparently thicker than most spy novels, most of it is redacted, but he has CIA/espionage/military training as an assassin and Olivia trusts him to break a dictator's wife and children out of the embassy with only five minutes' leeway. He's also spent time homeless and suffering from PTSD, begging on the DC subway, which is when Olivia found him.
There's also the surprising and villainous depths to Cyrus Beene - he's a Gay Conservative, and married to a much-younger man.
Quinn, when she dated a reporter that she got to know when he wanted information that she had. Her surprise after he died that he was still working on the case was especially baffling for someone who apparently has so many secrets herself.
Speaking of him, Gideon was hit with his BIG time in episode 6 - When confronting the person behind the majority of the shadiness in the story you're investigating, it's always best to do so in a public place or even to not let them know all that you know. But should you do both of these things DON'T TURN YOUR BACK TO THEM! It can only end one way.
Albeit accidental, as she thought Amanda was a manipulative Fake Cutie, when she reminded her rival (Amanda) of her mother's psychotic break and menaced to use it to end her career, the result was a really creepy Olivia.
Cyrus has plenty of those moments even before he proves to have been Evil All Along.
If the first two episodes of season two are anything to go by, David's the new target of Olivia's dog-kicking.
Knee-capping: Olivia, apparently, to Abby's abusive husband. With a tire iron. Yay!
Only Smart People May Pass: In the Pilot, Olivia and the gang uncover two "secrets" - the gay soldier who wanted to run for Congress and the President's philandering. Since the soldier was meeting with his lover in a public place (bar/restaurant) and they enlisted the help of a security guard to get a tape of the two of them, it didn't seem very hard to uncover the "secret" or that it's likely to be secret very long. Similarly, the President starts making out with Olivia in the Oval Office having just pointed out there's a camera in the ceiling and is then interrupted by his Chief of Staff. If the President is that careless, how exectly has he not been caught before (the CoS makes it clear he didn't know)?
Red Herring: You had to have thought that CIA Director Osbourne was the mole they were searching for. "Snake in the Garden" has the character get killed off at the end, and it's revealed that they got the wrong guy.
Room Full of Crazy: David has this to see why Olivia is helping Quinn. So far he's figured out Quinn was framed for the bombing, as Olivia uses her powers for good instead of evil.
Sequel Hook: Quinn's real identity and backstory are about to be revealed.
Shell-Shocked Veteran: Huck reveals himself to be this, due to his CIA black-ops training. He and his other operatives were conditioned to torture enemies and eventually grew to like it. Huck wanted out and was trying to "get sober" while living homeless when Olivia found him.
The season two episode "Seven Fifty-Two" reveals that he has a wife and child, but after torture and sensory deprivation by the CIA he is no longer sure that his memories of them are genuine. He does, however, apparently remember seeing them while living homeless at a subway station; his son gave him money, with neither his son nor his wife apparently realising it was him. The episode title (which Huck repeats for almost the entire portion of the episode set in the present due to shell shock from a recent attack he suffered very similar to the sensory deprivation to which the CIA subjected him) refers to the time when this occurred.
Sympathetic Adulterer: President Fitzgerald Grant, perhaps. Sometimes the audience feels bad for him and Olivia, but other times, it's clear his infidelity is causing more problems than it's probably worth.
That Man Is Dead: In "The Other Woman," Quinn comes to terms that her life as Lindsay Dwyer is over. Huck even tells her that eight people died in that bombing, not seven. In "Hunting Season," she becomes very insistent that Abby calls her Quinn, not Lindsay.
The Bus Came Back: After roughly a season of not being seen, Billy Chambers is revealed towards the end of season two to have been "Albatross", a mole that has been causing the Grant administration problems for most of the season.
The Unreveal: A minor example on episode 2.16 with Patient of the Week Sarah Stanner, who had an affair with Supreme Court nominee Murray Randall when he was a Harvard law professor fifteen years ago. Later, Sarah admitted to her husband that she slept with Randall two years prior, right around the time they had a second child, which infuriated him enough to demand a paternity test. When Olivia gave the husband the results, sealed inside an orange envelope, she told him that the results changes nothing. His marriage will need time to repair, and the knowledge of who's the biological dad won't erase that he's his second child's true father. Olivia's advice convinces him to rip up the envelope.
Olivia's team will bend the rules all over the place but will generally refuse to break the law. They do seem to make an exception as far as Huck's hacking is concerned. However, in the season one finale they can't Take a Third Option and have to make a choice whether to destroy evidence in order to protect Quinn.
In 2.01, Olivia's last-ditch choice of getting Justice Verna to shut down Quinn's trial may have consequences.
Torture Always Works: Apparently, it even works if you keep the subject's mouth duct-taped shut until he's past the point of being able to form coherent words.
Billy Chambers has his girlfriend sleep with the president and follows it up with blackmail and murder so the 'right' person can become president.
Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The show is based on the career of real life George HW Bush deputy press secretary/crisis manager Judy Smith, though obviously with plots far from the reality of the Bush 41 presidency meant to appeal to 2012 audiences looking for dramatic tension.
Villain Protagonist: In all honesty, Olivia is actually this. She is the protagonist and she did agree to have the election rigged so that Fitz would win and become President of the United States. By the end of season 2, it will all come back to haunt her.