Series / Shortland Street

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The cast of New Zealand's longest running serial.

Shortland Street is a New Zealand Soap Opera set in an hospital on Shortland Street in the fictitious Auckland suburb of Ferndale. It focuses on the lives of the physicians, surgeons, nurses, and hospital staff that work there, along with their families and friends who all live in Ferndale.


Tropes:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys:
    • Tuesday Warner develops a slight crush on Wiremu Potae and even tries her hand at being "gangsta" to fit in with him.
    • Minnie Crozier's list of boyfriends included a street-kid, a neo-nazi, a womanizer and a control freak.
  • Alpha Bitch: Seem to crop up from time-to-time, mainly at Ferndale High. The earliest example of this was Rachel Mckenna's rival Charlotte Olson. Stuck-up? Check. Tried to make Rachel's life a nightmare? Check. Got a girl's academic award taken off her for getting pregnant? Bullying Minnie Crozier? Manipulating all those around her? Check, check, check.
  • Artistic License – Law: The Hannah family are instantly kicked out of their house by their landlord when she walks in on Curtis and Jack smoking cannabis. New Zealand tenancy law requires landlords to a) give 48 hours' notice before visiting unless it is an emergency, and b) give at least 90 days' notice of termination, unless the landlord gets an order from the Tenancy Tribunal.
  • Asshole Victim: This show is fond of this trope. Notable examples include Darryl Neilson, Bernie Leach, Oscar Henry, Ethan Pierce and Brett Franklin who all committed terrible crimes before being murdered by someone that they had tormented.
  • Arranged Marriage: Dr. Vani Naran went through with her arranged marriage, while Dr. Li Mei Chen and Nurse. Shanti Kumari did not go through with theirs.
  • Back for the Dead
    • After being Put on a Bus in 1995, Dr. Michael Mckenna made two brief returns: Once in 1997, and then again at the end of 1998 which lasted into early 1999. At the end of Mckenna's second return stint, he died of a heart attack as actor Paul Gittins had ruled out any future returns and wanted the character to be killed off.
    • Original receptionist Marj Brasch left the show in 1996 after being elected to Parliament. She made brief returns in 2002 (for Nick and Waverley's wedding), in 2012 (for the show's 20th anniversary) and in 2017 (for the show's 25th anniversary special). In her 2017 appearance, she dies quietly sitting in the reception from age-related heart problems.
  • Back from the Dead: Lionel Skeggins makes a brief cameo appearance in the 25th anniversary special, 18 years after he supposedly died.
  • Berserk Button: Never ever threaten any of TK's friends or family in front of him if you value your health.
  • Big Bad: Mason Coutts ended up being a rare case of this because as Mayor of Ferndale as well as being the leader of a corrupt syndicate of thugs, Mason wound up doing wrong by multiple characters whether personally or by extension. As a matter of fact, every single cliffhanger in the 2016 Season Finale turned out to be connected to Mason in some way, and the show's 25th anniversary heavily featured Mason finally being taken down.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Often rare, but used on occasion. One specific duo was the combination of Ethan Pierce and his Nessus Bio co-owner/funeral director Stirling Haldane. Stirling stole bodies, Stirling helped him harvest them. Ethan then turned on Stirling and bumped him off once Stirling became a liability.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Warners, naturally. Subverted minus one or two exceptions by the Samuels family.
  • Biker Babe: Harper Whitley for the guys, Drew Mc Caskill for the girls. The 90's had Gary Travis, Gary's on-again, off-again girlfriend Caroline Buxton and fan favourite bad boy Greg Feeney.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Any time any of the characters speak in Maori.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Streetkid Dominique Coombes had a rough life, with a father who beat her and then having to turn tricks for a living. That was still no excuse to use James Thornton as a patsy, while admitting to his mother that she was only leading him on. While Dominique was never presented as being nice, up until that point she'd been presented as showing Jerk with a Heart of Gold tendencies.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Harry Warner as played in his tween years with convincing menace by Reid Walker.
  • Break the Haughty: Hoo boy, did Jerk Jock Casanova Hunter Mckay arrive to Ferndale with an ego. 2007 started with Hunter and his equally materialistic sister Sophie bullying Scarlett Valentine to the point she tried to run him down and left her taking off for Australia after Hunter slept with Scarlett, dumped her and then ran her down to anyone within earshot, breaking Scarlett's heart. At the end of the year, Hunter would end up a blubbering mess in a driveway after older woman Tess Adamson fled Ferndale after Hunter proposed to her, breaking HIS heart at the end of 2007, in somewhat of an ironic bookend.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Nick Harrison wound up turning into this when he was a high school student, being fantastic with numbers and a star economics student, eventually getting a business degree at University. When he finally got his shit together as an adult, he became a very good and very effective business manager at Shortland Street Hospital under Chris Warner.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Tuesday Warner did this in spectacular fashion. After spending most of her life babysitting her drug-addled father Guy, and following a car crash which almost killed Tuesday, Guy, her cousin Harry and her aunt Toni, Tuesday chewed Guy out for being a poor father and told him that if given the option, she'd rather live with her uncle Chris instead.
  • Camp Gay: Shortland Street usually avoids this trope, but two noticeable examples were temporary Director of Nursing Duncan Winters in the 90's, and Jason Kirkpatrick in 2017. Duncan was a genuinely nice, bubbly guy, whereas Jason's was a facade. See Depraved Homosexual below.
  • The Casanova: Dr Chris Warner. In a case of the apple not falling far from the tree, his son Finn Connelly counts too.
  • Chick Magnet: Evan Cooper managed quite well for a Ridiculously Average Guy. He managed to wrangle some of Ferndale's hottest women, even older women Marnie Dougan and Kylie Brown at various points. Stuart Neilson managed to draw them in too.
  • Cliffhanger: A yearly staple at the end of the year from 1996-onwards.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Staff scrubs are colour-coded according to their department. Female nurses wear lilac, male nurses wear dark blue, emergency department staff wear light blue, theatre staff wear purple, and orderlies wear oatmeal.
  • Custom Uniform of Sexy: Tiffany Pratt tried to go full lingerie with her uniform complete with high heels. While her character changed, she still retained her sexier version of the nurse's uniform complete with white stockings and garters.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Jason Daniel era from 2007-2009, which featured much eviler bad guys than any other year, previous characters coming back as darker and more troubled versions of themselves and most characters leaving were killed off. It was during this period that the show got three Broadcast Standards Authority warnings in six months, having gone 16 years without even receiving one!
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rachel Mckenna's default setting.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Samara Hindmarsh wasn't really Samara Hindmarsh. An identity thief named Lily Jansen, "Samara" came back to New Zealand in 2001 to establish a relationship with "childhood friend" Chris Warner. Upon getting into a feud with Rachel Mckenna, "Samara" got engaged to Chris Warner before being revealed as a fraud by the real Samara's parents.
  • Depending on the Writer:
    • Played with a lot in the early days of the show, where Dr. Mckenna was depicted as either a Father to His Men or a greedy, self-serving Jerk Ass who was as bad, if not worse as some of the dodgier clinic CEOs.
    • Ferndale is often depicted as a large suburb within Auckland, but at other times, it is an expy of Auckland.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Recent character Jason Kirkpatrick beneath his original facade of being a fun flirty guy was this. Jason turned out to be Dr Finn Connelly's stalker who went by the name "Sexy Eyes" online, going as far to break into Finn's house and watch him sleep. After being revealed, Jason would kidnap Finn's girlfriend Esther before leaving her to die due to her heart condition (she survived) and then hide out in Finn's operating room and attempt to force himself on Finn.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Steve Mills crossed it after his girlfriend Sarah Donnelly died in his arms on her birthday. Steve tried to hide his grief before breaking down.
  • Doom Magnet: Chris Warner and TK Samuels have both had their share of dead wives and girlfriends between them along with several dead family members a piece.
  • Dr. Jerk: Quite a few over the years, but a special shout-out to Dr Justin Salt for being a shitty human being AND a rapist to boot. The only good thing about the guy is he WASN'T the Ferndale Strangler as originally suspected. His friend, Dr Gavin Capper partook in the same rape Justin did, but at least he had SOME people skills.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Played straight with Guy Warner. After finding out about his addiction, his brother Chris tries desperately to get him into rehab, which he eventually agrees to, but not before causing a car crash which injured Tuesday and Harry, and nearly killed him and Toni. Even after rehab, he relapses, much to Tuesday's horror. In 2017, a nurse named Deb was found to be a morphine addict and was shown to be a total loser so as if to say "hey kids, if you do drugs, you'll end up a drug thief, a bad nurse AND a horrible parent!"
    • Ironic, where Guy is concerned also given that Chris himself developed a drug addiction and was in rehab back in 1994.
      • Also caused the dramatic season finale of 2011 with Hunter Mckay's drug addiction spiraling out of control for half of the year.
  • Emo Teen: Lulu Chatfield. Jasmine Cooper went through a period of this after almost dying in 2011.
  • Everybody Has Lotsof Sex: Well duh.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Kane Harvey was a remorseless thug, who was less evil than the Hitman Don Lennox, and both of them answered to the head of Scott-Spear John Grainger who was killing people with dodgy drugs AND ordering the murder of anyone trying to shut them down.
  • Evil, Inc..: The Pharmaceutical company Scott-Spear who was conducting unethical reasearch and had a tendency to put hits out on people when they were close to uncovering the truth.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Mac Kenzie Choat, the sadistic psychiatrist vs Oscar Henry, the manipulative rapist. Mac Kenzie almost won by blowing up Oscar's hospital room with him in it and stealing all of the money he had embezzled from the clinic prior. She was then swindled by Affably Evil ex-drug dealer Greg Feeney upon trying to leave New Zealand.
  • Faking the Dead: Justine Jones in 2008. When Scott-Spear hired a hitman who planted a mobile-phone-activated bomb in her car, she used it to her advantage by switching the SIM card with her own phone's, activating the bomb to convince the company she was dead and fled to Australia.
  • Fiery Redhead: Long-time character Rachel Mckenna, and before her, her mother Alex.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Jack and Curtis Hannah. Jack is the intelligent, academic gay one, Curtis is the Troubled, but Cute manwhore with a rap sheet and a heart of gold. Interestingly, the Hannah Brothers meet the original cast notes for Nick Harrison and Stuart Neilson from 14 years prior to the letter.
  • Foreshadowing: How did Joey Henderson know that Claire Solomon's body was wrapped up in plastic unless he was the one who killed her?
  • Fun Personified: Kip Denton was a wild and wacky guy who ended up becoming on of the show's most popular characters. Steve Mills was this trope in the early 90's.
  • Frontier Doctor: Subverted with Dr. Hone Ropata, as in the first episode he has returned from a stint in the jungles of Guatemala.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: The blooper show Naughty Shorty aired in 2012 as part of the 20th anniversary. An updated version of Naughty Shorty screened in 2017 as part of the 25th anniversary.
  • It Runs in the Family: Luke Billingham became a father at 16, just like his father Lionel. Rachel Mckenna is an alcoholic, just like her father Michael. Phoenix Raynor was involved in a few love triangles, just like his dad Chris.
  • Jerk Ass: Early Nick Harrison, Charlotte Olson, Frank Hill, Owen Sutherland. Depending on the circumstances, there are a lot of other characters who may fit firmly into this territory from time-to-time.
  • Joggers Find Death: How Kip Denton and Alice Piper found the dead body of Jay Copeland.
  • Karma Houdini: Cam Mccaskill got off scot-free despite slipping several times in regards to his drug habit. His boyfriend's brother Curtis Hannah wasn't so lucky, taking the proverbial bullet and getting sent to jail for one such transgression.
  • Leit Motif: "Anchor Me" by the Muttonbirds was one for Hunter Mckay and Tess Adamson's May–December Romance. Hunter requested it to a radio station as their song and it played again later that episode after they slept together for the first time. It popped up after Tess abandoned Hunter and broke his heart at the end of the year, while Hunter cried in her driveway being comforted by his father.
  • Lighter and Softer: The Steven Zanoski period from late 2009 until 2013 and the early part of Simon Bennett's second run from 2013-2015. Complaints with this era include villains being more annoying, storylines that tend to drag, and characters being less likeable.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Given its long run, this would be inevitable - as of May 2012, there have been over 220 core cast members and over 4000 guest roles.
  • Location Theme Naming: Waverley Wilson's family had the quirky tradition of naming children after the New Zealand towns they were conceived in: Waverley, her brother Stratford, her sisterAmberley (the only one named after a town outside the Taranaki region), and her cousin Eltham.
  • Long Bus Trip: Chris and Guy returned to Shortland Street after 5 and 11 years respectively. Guy outright stated when they left they were only supposed to have been gone for 2 weeks.
  • Long-Runner Cast Turnover: It first aired in 1992, and as of 2011 only one of the original cast members remains (Dr. Chris Warner).
  • Long-Runners: The first episode aired on 25 May 1992, and the show celebrated 20 years and 5000 episodes in May 2012.
  • May–December Romance: Happened twice with Jenny Harrison, once during an affair with Guy Warner, and again with Johnny Marinovich. After Jenny and Johnny split up, Johnny would embark on this with 19 year old Ramona Derby. Would happen again in 2007 with Hunter Mckay and hus friend's mother Tess Adamson.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Before coming out as Asexual, Libby Jeffries thought her childhood friend Gerald was Camp Gay. It's the flamboyance, you see.
  • My Local: The IV Bar and Bistro has been Shortland Street's local since 2006. Various other bars have been locals in the past.
  • Near Villain Victory: Ian Seymour ALMOST completed his Hostile Takeover of Shortland Street had it not been for Kirsty Knight's elite amateur sleuthing skills and the help of Dr David Kearney.
  • No Bisexuals:
    • Averted. Nicole Miller went into a long-term relationship with Maxwell Avia after her long-term relationship with Maia Jeffries ended.
    • In 2011-12, she left Maxwell and pursued Lana Jacobs.
    • In 2014, Nicole was caught in a Love Triangle between female doctor Harper Whitley and male nurse Vinnie Kruse.
    • And wouldn't you know it? It happened again in 2017 when Nicole had a brief affair with nurse Ruby Flores.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Theres been a few examples over the years:
    • Carmen Roberts and Greg Feeney, step-siblings who had a relationship in their teens after their parents were married.
    • Minnie Crozier dated her stepbrother Fergus Kearney on and off for several years
    • Donna Heka and Rangi Heremaia (see below)
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
    • Dr. Li Mei Chen is from China, and yet she speaks with a flawless Kiwi accent.
    • Sophie and Hunter Mckay are both Australian, yet they don't even attempt to disguise their accents.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: When the show featured an international doctor from the USA, his accent lasted about a week. Shanti Kumari had a rather thick Indian accent when she started, but at some point in 2008, Nisha Madran's native Kiwi accent started becoming more and more prominent until any prior accent was but a memory.
  • Police Are Useless: Detective Lara Wade was more of an incompetent bully packing a guilty until found innocent mentality with any male suspects during the investigation of the Ferndale Strangler. She was called out by several characters for making up bullshit charges as she went along because she still didn't have a single lead by the end of 2007. Her undercover plant Tracey Morrison was almost as bad, being blatantly untrained as a nurse and getting kidnapped and non-fatally dumped in the rubbish by the Strangler to show he wasn't fucking around. Both would quit the force in disgrace in 2008.
  • Posthumous Character: Joey and Ethan appeared as hallucinations to the characters they tormented after they died.
  • Psycho for Hire: Don Lennox, mechanic by day, hitman by night. He was the one who torched Craig Valentine's car with him inside, he had members of the White Tails shoot up an operating theatre because Chris Warner visited him with knowledge of Scott-Spear executives and he was perfectly willing to murder Ethan Pierce for Kieran Mitchell.
  • Put on a Bus: ALMOST EVERYONE except those who were Killed Off for Real.
  • Rape as Drama: Minnie Crozier, Kate Larsen and Barb Heywood. Averted with Kirsty Knight, she was supposed to have been raped by Darryl Neilson but Executive Meddling changed the storyline into Date Rape Averted instead. It wasn't until Minnie's rape six years later that the trope was played straight. Also played with Minnie's father, Ryan, having raped her mother when they were younger, leading to Minnie's conception. Leads to...
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Averted somewhat with Minnie's father Ryan. He originally hadn't realised he'd raped Ellen, being at a loud party, and being extremely drunk. While presented as being wrong, Ryan was truly remorseful for what he had done once he found out, and Minnie even fell out with him before forgiving him. Played straight, however with Oscar Henry.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Most of the people running the hospital fall under this provided the intention isn't to make them a Jerkass or a villain at some point. James "Scotty" Scott seemed like a Mean Boss at first in his role as nursing manager, but turned out to be this trope in action. While he could be a hardass, he also cared for his staff and treated them well provided they did their jobs.
  • Re Tool: A hard one in 2001, two soft ones in 2006 and 2014. All 3 cleared out droves of cast members who were doing nothing, who were generally unpopular or old characters just treading water. All 3 were done to revitalise tanking ratings. The one in 2001 wiped out most of the old cast and replaced them with 16 new characters while the 2006 and 2014 ones were staggered and replaced less with less.
  • Self-Harm: Blue Nathan started doing this to himself while grieving the death of his girlfriend Ashley Whitley.
  • Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?: Thirteen-year-old Pixie Hannah has never appeared to go to school, even though older brother Jack does. Granted she was battling cancer, but it doesn't explain the lack of correspondence or homeschooling either.
  • Serial Killer: Joey Henderson, the Ferndale Strangler.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome:
    • A mild case. Tuesday Warner was born in 1995. She comes back in 2007 at fourteen years old.
    • Tuesday's cousin Phoenix Raynor also went through this despite not being born onscreen, he turned 16 in 2011, but to be consistent with the established timeline of events on the show, his real birth year should be either 2000 or 2001.
    • Harry Warner was born in May 2002, however in August 2015 he was established as being 14 years old. More noticeable if you consider his deceased "girlfriend" Pixie Hannah was younger than him, but her birthday was established as a canon August 2001.
  • Stalker With a Crush: Jason Kirkpatrick of the "insane and obsessed" variety.
  • Stock Footage: The show tried this with cityscapes once they switched to HD Cameras. They looked bloody awful so they were dropped soon afterward.
  • Straight Gay: Surprisingly common. Shortland Street was one of the first shows in the 90's to portray homosexuals as just normal people who just happen to prefer the same sex. Examples include Jamie Forrest, Jonathan Mckenna and recently, Jack Hannah.
  • Surprise Incest: Months after their tryst had ended, Rangi Heremaia and Donna Heka were most upset to find out in the last episode of 1997 that they shared the same father! A two year long Story Arc resulted, during which Rangi and Donna eventually established a friendship, then embarked on intentional Brother-Sister Incest, before breaking up again. As 1999 drew to a close, Donna made the discovery that her mother had had an affair about nine months before she was born: a blood test finally confirmed that Rangi and Donna were Not Blood Siblings. Unfortunately, Rangi had just declared his love for Janet Maxwell. It took several more months before Rangi and Donna got back together.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Maia Jeffries, who shot Ethan Pierce in cold blood after he did everything in his power to make her life hell.
  • The Stoner: Mike Galloway was the ninties version, Kip Denton the updated mid-00's kind.
  • Title-Only Opening: From 2013-onwards.
  • Transgender: Blue Nathan, as played by the real-life Transgender Tash Keddy.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Being a soap, most characters will go through this at some point, but the most egregious example in recent years would be nurse Alice Piper. In the space of a year, Alice was kidnapped and almost murdered by a serial killer, turned to drink as a result and then fell pregnant and didn't know whether the father was her partner or a drunken one-night-stand. Said partner was then murdered and her baby was born premature and died (with paternity left unresolved). In her grief, Alice then turned to Ethan Pierce for comfort but he ended up posting a sex tape of them online before promptly being murdered himself. Naturally, Alice was found near the scene of the crime and was a suspect but ended up helping the real culprit (Maia Jeffries) cover up her crime. When Alice went off to Rarotonga to rekindle her romance with Kip Denton, she'd definitely earned her happy ending.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: While not the classic definition of ugly, Lionel Skeggins getting married to the drop dead gorgeous Kirsty Knight definitely counts as this.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Zac had a pretty almighty one when he was sprung for kidnapping and sexually assaulting Roimata.

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