Sons of Anarchy is a television drama series from the FX network; it was created by former The Shield writer Kurt Sutter. The series, which can be described as "Hamletmeets the Hells Angels", focuses on the criminal exploits of the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club in the northern Californian town of Charming.The Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original (SAMCRO, Sam Crow, the Sons, or just Sons of Anarchy) is a motorcycle club that sells guns to various gangs, all the while "protecting" the town, in order to preserve Charming as a small town unmolested by big corporations, chain stores, and other corrupt aspects of upper-class suburbia. The main character/Hamlet analogue is Jackson "Jax" Teller, son of deceased founder John Teller and step-son of the current leader of the group, Clay Morrow. The series begins with Jax entering fatherhood as his ex-wife gives birth to their first-born son, while at the same time discovering a manifesto his father wrote prior to his death in which he decries how his anarchist biker club became an organized crime syndicate that was the very thing that he was rebelling against when he conceived of the club.The manifesto inspires Jax to try and steer the club towards his father's original vision by attempting to move the club away from organized crime. Needless to say, this does not go over well with the Faux Affably Evil Clay or his Affably Evil mother Gemma; the show implies that they had Jax's father murdered when he began "going soft" on them.Like The Shield, Sons has a rich supporting cast of characters balancing out the Hamlet-esque drama; other bikers include Bobby Munson (a bookmaker/Elvis impersonator by day and a biker by night), Tig Trager (Clay's right-hand man and chief enforcer who has some bizarre sexual habits), Opie (Jax's best friend, whose interests are also split between the club and his family), Opie's father Piney (who founded the club along with John Teller), Juice (a Hispanic computer geek from Queens), Chibs (a Scottish former Army medic and one-time member of the IRA), and Happy (a ruthless triggerman for the club).On the civilian side, there is Tara (a doctor who was Jax's childhood sweetheart, who serves as the chief threat to Gemma's control over her son), corrupt Police Chief Unser, his straight-as-an-arrow deputy (and potential successor) David Hale, and a number of law enforcement agents.While the show borrows heavily from Hamlet, much of the drama comes from the gang's criminal exploits and the Faustian implications of SAMCRO's presence within Charming. This has led to the wealthier elements of the town to make their own (even worse) Faustian pacts, such as bringing in white supremacists into Charming (see Season Two) to destroy SAMCRO by any means necessary.Has a character page.
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Aborted Arc: Season two was supposed to feature the introduction of the Tacoma Washington branch of SAMCRO. Their criminal specialty would be established as robbing banks along the west coast, resulting in an episode where they would team-up with Opie and several other SAMCRO members in robbing a bank, in order to obtain the money needed to bail Jax/Clay/Juice/Bobby/Tig from jail after their arrest. As it stands, the plotline got dropped save for the introduction of the Tacoma Branch's Sgt. At Arms Herman Kozik. The storyline was eventually reworked for Season 4, only now its the Tucson, Arizona chapter and they're involved in drug dealing with the cartel.
Adult Fear: The little blonde boy in the first episode of the sixth season. First we see he's been cutting himself, after which he proceeds to commit a school shooting.
Pretty much everyone in the motorcycle club, including the group's matriarch Gemma Teller.
For a guy who set Tig's daughter on fire, Pope seems like an easy guy to have a normal conversation with.
All Bikers Are Hells Angels: The Sons, which finances itself in the blackmarket arms trade. The members of the Charming chapter are completely capable of violence and murder, but are also more moral than other outlaw bikers, having formed a truce with the local police and community. Other chapters of the gang, as well as other gangs in the area, are little more than thugs. The show occasionally shows the contrast between outlaw bikers and regular bikers.
Anti-Hero: Jax straddles the line between Types IV and V. The rest of the gang is straight Type V
Anything That Moves: Tig seems to have every fetish in existence, from transexuals to corpses, which technically goes beyond "anything that moves."
Anyone Can Die: Kohn, Half-Sack, Father Kellan, Jimmy O, Stahl, Miles, Piney Winston, Kozik, Hale, Opie, Pope, Phil, V-Lin, Toric, Otto, Galen, Clay and Tara (just two episodes apart!), Roosevelt.
Ass Shove: Early in the show, the Sons raid a warehouse where the Mayans are working with a Nord. After killing them all, the Sons pile the bodies and insert a lit stick of dynamite into the Nord's butt as a final insult.
Attempted Rape In season one Tara is attacked by corrupt ATF agent Kohn, her former lover. She is able to grab his gun and shoots him in the gut. She calls Jax who ends up shooting the rapist dead.
Specifically, Jax had filed for divorce, due to his wife's drug addiction. After she does a stint in rehab, they try to reconcile, but soon separate again (for good). Jax later tells her that the second split was due to the pregnancy.
Badass Beard: Most of the club sports one, being bikers and all.
In terms of relatives, at least. That random nurse who Otto so casually killed? Well, she had a seriously dangerous and pissed off brother who just happens to be a retired US Marshal, former Special Forces officer and Harvard graduate.
The same goes for the girl that was killed during Tig's misguided revenge hit on the leader of the One-niners. She was the daughter of a powerful crime lord.
This is how Zobelle deals with biker gangs who stand in his way. He finds a way of provoking them into brash, violent action, calls the cops and the bikers end up getting arrested and jailed for a long time. The only reason this initially fails to work with the Sons is because he underestimated Gemma.
Agent Stahl uses a number on the Sons, but they all fail since she does not understand what makes them really tick.
U.S. Attorney Potter has them on both Otto and Juice
Jax was able to exploit Agent Stahl's arrogance to make her think that she has beaten SAMCRO and thus they were no longer a threat to her. If it failed the Sons would have been in a much weaker position with both the IRA and the Russians gunning for them.
Jax hands over Tig to Pope, knowing that Pope will want to take his time torturing Tig and allow Jax time to rescue him. Afterwards, Tig asks what would have happened if Pope had killed him on the spot. Jax just replies, "He didn't."
Tara pulls one off on Gemma by letting her find out some infuriating information and hanging out in a public area, counting on the fact that Gemma will rush over and violently confront Tara in front of witnesses. Part of her plan backfires, however, when she punches Gemma in the stomach and counts on Gemma immediately returning the favor. Tara didn't count on Gemma's strong maternal instincts. Gemma refuses to attack the supposedly pregnant Tara, forcing Tara to injure herself to complete the plan. This tips off Gemma that the whole sequence of events was a ruse.
Beard of Sorrow: Sheriff Roosevelt grows one after his wife is murdered. His skull remains shaved to the skin, however.
Jax, as he watches Cameron get away with Abel at the end of Season 2.
Tara after she witnesses Otto stabbing a nurse several times in the neck.
Bi the Way: Gemma starts season 5 in bed with a man who runs an escort agency and two of his young girls. He claims he never sleeps with his "co-workers" and inviting the girls was all her idea.
One of her drunken one night stands in S5 is shown to be a girl in passing.
Black and Gray Morality: SAMCRO is a criminal organization that deals in illegal firearms and routinely commits other crimes like armed robbery and even murder. But the other criminal gangs they clash with are almost always even worse.
Black Boss Lady: The DA in season 6. She shows a bit of Cultural Cringe by wearing a straight wig through most of the season, but discards it in favor of her natural hair when she decides to play tough.
Blood Is Squicker in Water: Tara's death. Gemma dunks her head in a sink full of dirty dish water and then stabs her repeatedly in the back of the head with a two pronged fork. When it's finally over, the water has turned to a very dark red, and the counter is also covered in blood.
Gemma being gang-raped by white supremacists in the season two opener
Otto does this to Agent Stahl when he breaks her nose after she tries to trick him into giving her evidence to open a RICO case against the club.
Agent Stahl herself intends to do this to SAMCRO by turning them against each other and thus subverting the principles of loyalty and brotherhood the bikers are so proud of. This becomes the primary motive in seasons 2 and 3. She fails and the Sons break her instead
Pope knows that a hardcore biker like Tig is not going to be afraid to die and that Tig is Too Kinky to Torture. Instead he burns Tig's daughter alive while a chained up Tig watches.
Chuck Marstein is a skilled criminal accountant who developes a compulsive tic: unconscious masturbation. He has his problem "cured" by a rival gang leader who amputates all but his forefingers.
Bobby is an Elvis impersonator on the side, which seems seriously out of place in an outlaw biker gang. He is also a stone cold killer.
Bachman, the crime scene cleaner, is an oddball and apparently likes to listen to Eighties music when he disposes of corpses.
Lincoln Potter, the Assistent U.S. Attorney who's investigating the Sons. He has a number of strange mannerisms that get the Sheriff to call him "a weird dude." He says that his behavior does serve a purpose, but it's also because he doesn't like most people.
An unwitting version happens when Gemma finds the partially burned copy of Teller's manuscript and takes it away, soon after Piney gives Jax his copy.
Car Chase: The Sons chase someone on their motorcycles almost once an episode, often in a running gun battle.
Cassandra Truth: Juice in Season 4 Episode 6. Upon being indirectly accused of stealing a kilo of cocaine, which he did by shoving it in his pants and walking out the door, says "Yeah, I shoved a key of coke down my pants and walked out the door. Douchebag."
The Cast Showoff: Katy Sagal has worked as a professional singer. She provides vocals for several songs used in the show.
The Shield is a fictional television series in the universe of Sons of Anarchy, even though the series uses one of the gangs from the show (the One-Niners) as major characters in the show's mythology and the casting of multiple Shield actors in the series (most notably Jay Karnes, Kenny Johnson, David Rees Snell, and Benito Martinez).
Jax's ex wife is played by Drea de Matteo, who played Adriana on The Sopranos. He once chastises Luann for thinking he was going to kill her, saying, "You think I brought you here to Adriana you?"
Characterization Marches On: Remember when Bobby used to be a bomb expert and apparently could barely count his own fingers? If not, its probably because it only lasted a few episodes before he became the clubs bookkeeper and left all the explosive stuff to Opie.
The ambulance stolen by Half-Sack on Season 1's "The Pull"
Maureen's message for Jax.
Chekhov's Gunman: In the season 6 opener, the episode starts with an unknown young boy getting ready for school, and making sporadic appearances throughout the episode. He's a very literal example. At the end of the episode he's shown to have committed self-harm, despises his classmates, and commits a shooting spree at his school with a gun he stole from his mom's boyfriend, a member of Nero's crew.
Pope has a right-hand man whom he's known since boyhood. He takes over Pope's organization after Pope's death.
Corrupt Cop: Just about all of the local cops except Hale are in league with the Sons. Outside of the local cops, Agent Stahl is a particularly notable example, going from cocky crusading cop to dirty cop to cold-blooded murderer in just a few seasons. Meanwhile, most, if not all of the prison staff seen in the sow are either on the pocket of some criminal organization or at least willing to go Cowboy Cop when dealing with criminals
Cultural Cringe: The black District Attorney wears a wig that gives her white-style hair. However, midway through the season, she decides to "go ghetto" by discarding the wig and getting tough with the Sons. A white cop expresses confusion over why she removed her wig, but a black cop seems to appreciate the significance.
Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Discussed a number of times in the fourth season. Jax and Nero both have the opportunity to cut ties with their gangs and live comfortably, but they both refuse. Jax also points out that Pope would be rich strictly through his legitimate business ventures, but still sees a need to maintain a drug empire on top of it all.
Cycle of Revenge: Nobody actually bothers to talk about it, but it's worth mentioning that Opie went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Clay for killing Piney. This begat Tig going on one against the Niners because he believed they had shot Clay, and then that begat the leader of the niners to start his own rampage against SAMCRO for attacking and killing some of his people in broad daylight. The current capper has everything coming full circle when Pope's revenge leads to Opie being brutally killed in prison.
Deadly Euphemism: The MC never votes on whether or not to kill someone. Rather, they vote on whether or not the person they want dead should "meet Mr. Mayhem." All club members who wear the patch "Man of Mayhem" have preformed hits on behalf of the club.
SAMCRO is able to run roughshod over the town and its law enforcement officers in exchange for keeping outside influences out of the town.
Kurt Sutter recently posted backstory material on his blog, stating that the SAMCRO/IRA relationship was born out of a deal with the devil. The massive medical bills from when Jax's younger brother was in the hospital due to his ultimately fatal illness, led to SAMCRO entering into their alliance with the IRA, just so that John and Gemma could avoid bankruptcy.
When Jax makes a deal with Agent Stahl it's hard to distinguish whether the career criminal or the federal law enforcement agent is the 'devil' in that bargain.
Tig, by far the most sexually depraved member of the group, who is shown to be at least casually interested sado-masochism, cross dressing, bestiality, and necrophilia.
Agent Stahl is seen having sex with Deputy David Hale in season 2 and in bed with Agent Amy Tyler in season 3. She's devious enough that she could have been in either 'relationship' just the benefits she gained from it. She's also easily devious enough to get everything she wants *without* having to sleep her way to the top, So she probably really was just doing what she enjoyed.
Deus ex Machina / Diabolus ex Machina: Romero Parada at the end of season four qualifies as both. On the one hand him being on the CIA's payroll gives him the means to prevent the police from crashing down on the MC... on the other hand he only does that because he needs the MC's supply lines for his drugs and the guns from the IRA, thus strongarming Jax into staying in bed with them; and preventing him from killing Clay since he's the only one the IRA trusts.
Unser works with SAMCRO, though he insists that he does it for the sake of Charming.
Agent Stahl, right down to killing her fellow ATF agent/lover and framing her for a crime she herself committed, to further her tenuous deal with Jax.
Disc One Final Boss: Season one seemed to be setting up Kohn as the primary antagonist, right up until Jax shot him in the face.
In Season 6, Lee Toric was set up to be the main Hero Antagonist, similar to Stahl from Season 3 and Season 1. Instead, he gets his throat slashed before the season's even halfway over, and in the very same episode, Galen O'Shay appears to have become a much more primary threat for Jax and his club.
Double Standard: Considering Jax isn't explicitly presented as notoriously unfaithful, he surely has quite some flings on the side (while being together with Tara) over the course of the series for various reasons, like sleeping with Wendy in season one (at the time, his relation with Tara wasn't settled yet and it appears as if he was bouncing back to his ex-wife), in season three sleeping with Ima in order to alienate Tara (he doesn't want to drag her into his outlaw lifestyle), almost sleeping with Trinity (he was at a somewhat one-sided break with Tara at the time, and only stops after being told Trinity is his half-sister), and finally sleeping with the escort lady in season six while Tara is in prison because she doesn't want to see him. All this while Tara herself is never shown to digress.
Season 1: Donna is dead thanks to Clay and Tig's scheme and Jax has to cover it up for the sake of club.
Season 2: Jax's son has been kidnapped, Gemma is a wanted fugitive, Zobelle gets away, and Half-Sack is dead.
Season 3: Jax and company are going to jail for 12-18 months, at which time Tara has discovered horrific evidence linking Clay and Gemma to the murder of Jax's biological father. Also, Uncer has been deposed and Charming's local police department has been disbanded, thanks to Jacob Hale's vengeful manipulation of Uncer in retaliation for his younger brother's murder thanks to the biker antics Uncer allowed to run rampant under his watch. And worse, Hale's now going to become elected mayor and has successfully eliminated the last remaining hold-out that is standing between him and the recreation of Charming into a yuppie paradise that SAMCRO has long attempted to keep from happening.
Season 4: Jax can't leave Charming with Tara, whose career as a doctor is in jeopardy. Opie has been alienated from the club. Tig kills an innocent bystander whose father is an extremely wealthy and powerful crimelord. Jax assumes his father's place at the table with Tara by his side in the same position as a young John Teller and Gemma, implying that their tragedy is repeating itself.
Season 5: Bobby quits as Vice-President in disgust over Jax's tactics. Jax and Nero both refuse to leave their lives of crime in spite of realizing that they should. Clay is framed for murder and Gemma is forced to go along with the plan. A powerful vigilante has set his sights on the club. Tara is framed for accessory to murder and arrested.
Season 6: Nero and Gemma break up, and Jax decides to turn himself in, under the guise that he sold the gun to Arcadio and thus caused Matthew Jennings to get the gun and shoot up his school. He, Tara, and Patterson agree to make a deal, as long as he can spend some time with his sons before he does so. It seems like there's a Hope Spot, because while Jax may be going to prison, Tara will have their boys and be able to get them away from Charming. But Unser hears that Jax is going to be arrested, and passes this information to Gemma, who has been getting drunk and high thanks to her break up with Nero. When she hears Jax is going to be arrested, she assumes Tara ratted on him, and then takes Wayne's truck and leaves. Tara arrives at the house so she can wait for Jax and Patterson, and moments later, Gemma enters. Almost immediately after, Gemma attacks Tara, eventually trying to drown her in the sink full of dirty dish water and stabbing her in the head repeatedly with a fork. Juice arrives looking for Gemma, and then he and Eli go inside once they hear noises from inside. Gemma tells them she did what she had to do, and that Tara ratted, but then Eli reveals that Jax was volunteering to go down. Eli tries to report her and radio in for help, but Juice kills him before he can, and then disposes of the evidence. Jax arrives later, and when he sees blood on the floor, he takes his gun out, but when he realizes Tara is dead, he drops his gun and cries as he cradles her body. Patterson arrives moments later, and notices Jax's gun on the floor, before glaring at him.
Otto. Subverted, since he fails and it was actually part of a plan to get revenge for Jax by killing the Russian that stabbed him while in Prison. Possibly a double subversion when Otto asks Potter to get his execution date moved up as part of his deal to become The Mole.
Juice, due to his heritage (he's half-black, a no-no for the club) and the fact that he killed Miles. He bungles it, however.
Hale, who's killed off suddenly in the opening of season 3.
Kozik, who's given a sudden and anticlimactic death by landmine. The main cast drinks a shot in his memory and the show continues as if nothing happened. Even his vitriolic best bud Tig barely bats an eyelash.
Laroy, who's killed off somewhere between Season 4 and 5.
After being the potential Big Bad for Season 6, Galen O'Shay is swiftly shot in the back of the head by Jax in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment.
Dying Moment of Awesome: A tongue-less, blind, broken Otto convinces Toric to releases his restraints, then taunts him about his sister's death, and manages to stab the man after he attacks him with a concealed knife. He then holds him hostage by putting a knife at his throat, waits for prison guards to show up, and then slits his throat. The guards cut him down seconds later.
Minor example: in the early episodes Tig, Opie, Bobby and Chibs all have noticeably shorter hair than in later seasons and some are missing facial hair. The cast clearly started growing out their hair upon landing the role and continued letting it grow as the seasons progressed.
Also, the earlier episodes followed the cliched formula of SAMCRO running around, solving problems and pissing off Hale with the way that they are always five steps ahead of the local cops due Uncer being in bed with them. It would not be until closer to the end of the first season that a real over-arcing storyline would take hold.
Easy Evangelism: Subverted; after being gang raped and forced to hide what happened to her in order to keep her family from going to jail for murdering her attackers, Gemma does some soul searching of the God variety and ends up coming to the conclusion that God wants her to kill the woman who colluded with the rapists.
Elvis Impersonator: Bobby Munson is an Elvis Impersonator in addition to being a Badass outlaw biker with a sizable body count. When another impersonator tries to steal his gig, he has the guy savagely beaten.
Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Sons seem pretty progressive for an outlaw motorcycle gang, which helps keep them sympathetic for the majority of the show, but typical outlaw biker bigotry occasionally rears its head to remind us that these aren't boy scouts.
For seasons one through three, a positive aspect of the group was that they were largely shown to treat their women with respect, and Gemma even wields a lot of power as the club's Team Mom. But season four ended this with Clay savagely beating Gemma and cursing her out. Jax also beats up a porn star who was creating havoc with Jax and Opie's lives.
Similarly, the group accepts Latino and Jewish members into their ranks and also have black and Latino allies. One member has a black wife and a mixed-race daughter. Most real outlaw biker groups are racially segregated, and white gangs often have strong White Supremacist ties. However, black members are not allowed into the Sons. The current members adhere to the rule even though they recognize it as a relic from another age. This becomes a major plot point when Juice's father turns out to be a black man. The police use the fact to blackmail him into cooperating, since exposing it would get him kicked out of the Sons or worse. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for him, it turns out that the rule is more lax than he expected: as long as your birth certificate doesn't list you as black, your actually ancestry doesn't matter.
Establishing Character Moment: Nero establishes his badass credentials by voluntarily engaging in some Car Fu to protect Jax. He chuckles throughout the chase and proclaims it a good time. This foreshadows his eventual return to the gangster lifestyle.
Happy may have murdered 14 people, enjoy torture and frequents a strip club that employs victims of sex trafficking, but he's not about to let you make his aunt or nana wash your dishes!
Jax and Gemma, obviously.
Averted with Gemma: she had a horrible relationship with her mother and lists her as one of the few people who could legitimately scares her.
Episode "Dorylus" introduced Vivica and her sons Luther and Vandross. The club suspected that she had bought their stolen weapons, but it turned out to be her sons who went behind her back. They wanted to to use the money to surprise their mother with a new vehicle. Her disapproval clearly indicates that she's got her family of thugs well under her thumb.
Tig: Vivica makes Gemma look like Donna Reed.
Jax: I suddenly feel a little less dysfunctional.
Even Evil Has Standards: A big part of the show is putting the characters into situations that test whether they will adhere to the standards they set out for themselves.
Violence against children is a big no-no for SAMCRO. Also dealing drugs in Charming.
Clay does not seem to have a line he is not willing to cross if it is to his benefit. When Clay beats up Gemma everyone in the club who finds out about it is horrified.
In contrast even Tig has principles he will stand up for even if it means opposing Clay.
In season 3 Neo-Nazi Ernest Darby is hired to run an old Jewish gym owner out of Charming by a renegade Mayan ally. Darby pays the man a visit, but first tries to convince the old man to leave willingly, and eventually refuses to go through with it.
Exact Words: After an argument between Galen and Jax, Jax tells him to keep his hands off his club. Later on, Galen kills Phil and V-Lin, and Jax and the rest of the club find their mutilated bodies with their hands chopped off and neatly placed on their jackets.
"The True IRA" are a stand-in for "The Real IRA," which splintered from the IRA to continue their militant actions after the ceasefire in 1997.
Several of the main characters are stand ins for characters from Hamlet to certain extents. Jax Teller is Prince Hamlet, John Teller is the dead king Hamlet, Clay Morrow is Claudius, Gemma is Gertrude, Opie is Horatio and Tara is Ophelia.
Jimmy O'Phelan: First when the Russians give him to the Club all he does is greet Jax and Clay and gets in the car without another word. Second after the ATF rescues him and then Stahl gets ambushed He looks his killer in the eyes, smiles, tells him to take care of his wife and stepchild. He even takes his Glasgow Smile and stabbing without any fear.
Averted with Stahl, who breaks down into full on Inelegant Blubbering when she realizes she's gonna die
AJ Weston simply sits down and accepts his defeat. In an apparent trade-off, he demands that his son be left out of the grudge and not see his corpse afterwards.
Clay Morrow. Upon realizing that all the Sons voted to have him killed, he calmly walks into the room Jax intends to kill him in and calmly asks "This good?" before Jax shoots him in the neck.
Tig stages the murder of Opie to look like a Mayan retaliation, accidentally killing Donna.
After Opie takes vengeance on a Mayan biker, Jax (who knows it was Tig) stages the dead body to look like a One Niner killing.
Agent Stahl stages the Irish killing to look like Gemma's to frame her.
Agent Stahl stages her partner's killing to look like the Calaveras trying to rescue Hector Salazar.
SAMCRO stages the murder of Stahl as a Real IRA hit (at least Jimmy's killing was done on their orders).
The Galinda Cartel is actually a CIA front using the Sons to take down other gangs. Jax is forced into leadership and in turn forced to keep Clay alive as the Irish will only deal with him.
The home invasions in season five are part of Clay's scheme to make Jax look weak and incompetent.
Jax and Tig killing Pope, pinning the hit on Clay (Jax otherwise couldn't get rid of), fully knowing that Pope had an insurance policy in place that grants five million dollars to the one person that kills his murderer.
Kozik: "You do realize one of us is gonna end up dead, right?"
Piney: "I'm counting on it."
Friendly Enemy: Darby toward the Sons. He works against them, but will sit down and chat with Gemma for a few minutes, even though she's got "some Jew in her." He also behaves this way toward the local Jewish boxing coach. Darby has reformed at that point, but it's clear that the two men have exchanged more than just threats and slurs over the years.
Jax is a rough-and-tumble biker outlaw as well as a genius at intrigue. He's taken advantage of the fact that certain enemies underestimate him as a simple thug.
An Informed Attribute of Toric, who is a former law enforcement officer, Green Beret and Harvard graduate.
Genre Savvy: AJ Weston in season two, especially after he decides to have his group of Aryan tough guys bring guns to a planned "rumble" against SAMCRO so that they can just shoot Jax and his crew dead. Jax was also savvy enough for ensuring he had allies to back him up in case of a double-cross.
The Ghost: We never see Wayne's wife in the show, she's only mentioned in passing a few times and then apprently divorces him later on. The only thing we ever know about her is that she was black.
Glasgow Smile: Chibs was given one by Jimmy O and returned the favor. O'Neill also gets one from SAMCRO
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Subverted with Chibs' Glasgow Grin and even Darby, who sufferes severe burns and turns his back on his gang and drug-dealing
Go Out with a Smile: Opie, in prison, just before receiving a fatal blow to the back of the head, with a lead pipe, which is delivered by a rival gang member.
Grim Reaper: The Sons' motif. Their symbol is the Grim Reaper holding a crystal ball with the anarchy symbol and a M16-handled scythe reflecting the founder's service in The Vietnam War. Other examples are M16 scythe shirts and Jax's cut, which features a "Reaper Crew" patch. Some members have it as a back tatoo.
Hellhole Prison: Stockton prison. Not just the prison gangs, but the guards are corrupt or perverts, and even medical staff is right there with them.
He-Man Woman Hater: Tig, who regularly uses and abuses women. He's not disturbed by two rotting female corpses and at one point quips, "This is why I beat hookers!" In one episode, he casually executes a captive woman, which shocks the rest of the gang. However, it's often played on its head: Tig is always very respectful to Gemma, and he has two daughters that he obviously loves a great deal.
Pretty much all the cops in Charming are corrupt and on the take from the Sons in the first three seasons (except for Hale and even he starts to become slightly more cooperative towards the end of season 2 before he dies).
Agents Kohn and Stahl are also revealed to either have their own agendas or be corrupt.
Season 4 has Eli Roosevelt and Lincoln Potter who both fit the bill a lit bit better. Still played with because Roosevelt has some Cowboy Cop tendencies (mostly towards the beginning of the season), while Potter uses people rather callously and occasionally bends the rules, but not to the point of corruption.
Also Kellan Ashby...and he'd been such a dick up until then.
Hero of Another Story: Alvarez, the President of the Mayans. Not particularly "heroic", but he is playing power games with SAMCRO the whole time he is fighting a bloody turf war over Oakland with the One Niners.
Hollywood Healing: Averted. When someone gets some kind of wound (from a bite, bullet, brawl, blade, broken bone...) you can bet it'll take really long to heal (or won't heal completely like Otto's eyes, Tara's hand, Clay's lung...). Even rather mundane injuries such as a black eye will take days or even weeks of in-series time to disappear completely.
Hollywood Silencer: Every time a suppressed firearm is fired on this show (which is surprisingly often), it makes the standard movie 'fwip' sound effect.
Hypocrisy Nod: Jax: "You are seriously gonna stand there, and lay the guilt of a dead wife on me?"
I Am A Humanitarian: A human head gets hidden and cooked in a chili pot. When some cops demand free bowls of the chili, they are none the wiser.
Iconic Item: Every character's "cut" or "colors," their vest with the MC patches. Taking or damaging another biker's cut is VERY Serious Business.
Unser says his dealings with Clay and SAMCRO were about protecting Charming, not about getting payoffs.
Gemma says this after killing Tara.
Idiot Ball: Half Sack and Juice tend to trade off possession of this.
I Have This Friend: When Tara asks her supervisor for help finding Lyla an anonymous abortion clinic, she assumes it's really about Tara. It was about Lyla, but Tara does have the same thing on her mind.
I Just Want to Be Normal: What Donna wanted for her and Opie. Sadly, Donna got killed off and her husband became a child-neglecting biker even more devoted to the gang that Donna loathed.
Ill Boy: Abel in the first season. Seems to be better now.
I Love the Dead: Tig insinuates that he's had a sexual encounter with a corpse. When Gemma is asked if she's ever broken into a crypt, she quips, "I'm not Tig!"
Informed Attribute: Toric has just about as badass a combination of credentials as you can have, being a former law enforcement officer, Green Beret and Harvard graduate. What we see, however, is that he's a strung-out junkie who accidentially shoots a prostitute, does an unconvincing frame-job, and gets himself killed by a blind invalid.
Informed Attractiveness: Tom Arnold's character tells Jax that he's got a "Kurt Cobain thing going," and Peter Weller's character nicknames him Handsome Jack.
Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: In the Season 5 finale, Clay loses his patch when it's revealed that he used the Nomads to try and undermine Jax's leadership. All of the property he owns that has a reaper on it is reposessed by the club, and Clay is forced to have all of his SAMCRO tattoos inked over while the club watches.
Between the local police and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Averted in the 4th Season. The ATF, FBI and San Joaquin Sheriff Department collaborate to bring down the Russians, the True IRA and SAMCRO. Played Straight, however, in that their efforts are scuppered at the end of the season when it's revealed the the CIA is backing the Gallindo Cartel and won't allow any of the other agencies to touch them.
Karma Houdini: Ethan Zobelle manages to escape to Budapest with his life, but little else. He lost his daughter, his business, and his contacts, and his status as an informant is known.
Karmic Death: In the third season finale, both Stahl and Jimmy O get this. Stahl, whose setting up of Opie in season one as a rat got his wife Donna killed by mistake, is in turn killed by Opie. Chibs kills Jimmy O, finally getting back at him for taking his wife and child and holding them hostage for years.
Kill It with Fire: How Pope has Tig's daughter Dawn killed, in vengeance for Tig's incidental murder of Pope's daughter.
Lady Drunk: Gemma. The violent, biker chick version.
Ladykiller in Love: Subverted. Borderline misogynist and lady's man Tig is clearly broken up by a girl who was taken from him by Kozik. Tig says he still thinks about her every day, even years later, and refuses to ever forgive Kozik even though they were clearly close friends. It turns out that Tig's "girl" was actually his dog.
Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: Although they're a motorcycle gang rather than the Italian mob, SAMCRO uses this trope in the exact same fashion. Everybody knows what they do for a living, but whenever they're accused of being a biker gang by law enforcement officers, they'll assert that they're just a club of Harley enthusiasts.
A Lighter Shade of Black: The Sons are gun-runners, drug dealers and killers who stomp on anyone who stands in their way, yet the villains of each season always end up being worse than them. Subverted in season five; the Sons are their own worst enemies.
Mama Bear: Gemma in regards to her son, Jax, and her grandson to the point of being a Knight Templar Grandparent, especially in Season 3 where she holds a gun to the head of another baby to extort information about Abel's whereabouts. Comes to a rather blatant and extreme example in Season 6, where Gemma brutally murders Tara with a carving fork because Gemma believed that Tara turned in Jax..
Man on Fire: One of Jimmy O'Phelan's lieutenants suffers this fate in "Firenne."
In the pilot, Tara explains to Gemma that she kept her tramp stamp to remind her that she had put her past with the Sons behind her. Later, in the third season Margaret her supervisor explains a similar rationale was behind her keeping the tattoo on her own back.
After killing Piney, Clay is the oldest man at the table in SAMCRO. With Piney it was highlighted by his oxygen tank. Clay carries on the tradition after being shot by Opie.
In the fourth season finale, Jax and Tara assume a pose that is identical to a photograph of John Teller and Gemma, implying that history is repeating itself.
In the fifth season finale, the photograph pose is again echoed, but this time Jax is weeping and Gemma is consoling him.
A bloody war with the Mayans is a large part of the backstory of SAMCRO. By the time it was over, John Teller was dead and Clay was in charge. Without that conflict the club might have been quite different than what it is now.
In seasons 1-3 a large part of the plot is driven by the Sons trying to avoid getting entangled in a Mob War with the Mayans, Aryans or the various factions of the Real IRA
In season 4 Clay's scheme ends up putting the Sons in the middle of a war between rival Mexican drug cartels. As the situation deteriorates there is also a real possibility of a war between the Sons and the Niners.
Gemma's telling Jax and Clay about being raped is intercut with a couple of members tripping on shrooms, and with Opie's kids watching cartoons. The same sad music track is playing throughout, but it's tough not to laugh at the guys' respective shroom trips. to a lesser extent, most of the show's laugh-out-loud moments are pretty much like this.
Clay's "I Love Pussy" rant, followed immediately by a corrections officer getting his nose bit off.
Motive Decay: Agent Stahl's obsession with bringing down SAMCRO, which went from normal case to full-blown obsession after she was brutally assaulted by a member in prison, who broke her nose in the process. By season two, she's forgotten all about bringing them to justice and is just fucking with them for the sake of malice. In season three her motive seems to shift to ruthless ambition when she is presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to break a major IRA network in the US. She promptly starts to undo her frame-up of Gemma and starts to protect the Sons since she needs Jax Teller to make the case. She then quickly goes even further over the Moral Event Horizon than most of the 'bad guys' on the show. And at the end she seemed to be primarily motivated by a case of Break the Haughty when she can't resist betraying Jax Teller so she can show the Sons how their pride in club loyalty and brotherhood was just a lot of hot air.
Tig, on Clay's orders, murdered Opie's wife because she happened to switch cars with him.
He does it again in the first half of the season four finale by accidentally killing the girlfriend of the leader of the Niners (Laroy) while aiming for Laroy - because Jax told him that the Niners were responsible for Clay's attempted murder.
Mushroom Samba: Tig and Half Sack get dosed with mushrooms to test their efficacy before SAMCRO sells them.
Na´ve Newcomer: A young lady who gets picked up by the sons for a weekend in an episode of season one. Her curiosity in joining the biker world is used as an excuse to unload exposition to the audience of terminologies and how certain things work around here.
Neighbourhood Friendly Gangsters: The Sons make themselves a fixture in the local community, even heading up fundraisers to give themselves some respectability and keep the town from rising up against them.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Loads of, with the consequences dragging out over several seasons. In fact, most of the long term-problems the club has have their roots in a single decision that was made by a member or one of their associates.
Towards the end of season one, Tig tries to kill Opie, killing Donna instead. Which sets the stage for the conflict of season 2 in general (Jax' quarrel with Clay), and in the short term drives Opie to kill a Mayan (with Jax framing a One-niner for it), which reignites the conflict between the Mayans and the One-niners, making life more difficult for the MC just as they were making their peace with both sides at once.
In season two, Jax' decision to get in business with Luann backfired when the MC provoked her main competitor into ordering an assault on her which resulted in her death. Cue Otto, for whom it was the final straw that made him turn his back on the club - thus giving law enforcement the means to shut down the MC for good in general and creating loads of problems for the main characters in particular.
Towards the end of season two, Gemma kills Polly Zobelle, who was partially to blame for her rape. Agent Stahl frames Gemma for the murder of Edmond Hayes, whom she coincidentally killed in the same house. Which creates loads of problems for Gemma with law enforcement and makes Cameron Hayes abduct Jax' son Abel as revenge, therefore giving the sons the motivation to go to Ireland in season three in the first place.
At the end of season three, Maureen hiding JT's letters (which implicate Clay in his death) in Jax' stuff and Tara finding them sets the wheels in motion for the conflict in season four, resulting in Clay killing Piney (who got wind of it and threatened to expose him) and trying to get Tara killed.
At the end of season four, Opie shooting Clay for killing his father. Since the hit gets pinned on the One-niners, Tig tries to go after Laroy on his own, killing his girlfriend in the process - which coincidentally is the daughter of a powerful crimelord who not just kills one of Tig's daughters as revenge, but also demands the death of one of the Sons... who happens to be Opie.
Charming, in spite of SAMCRO's claims that they keep out bad influences, is a crime-ridden and corrupt little podunk town. In season four, Tara calls it "poisonous."
No one mentions it, but the Sons of Anarchy have a well established hierarchy of authority in each charter.
Happy, a violent clubmember and accomplished scowler. When a girl mentions that he seems "nice," Clay does a Spit Take.
Not So Different: Referenced by name in the final episode of season 5. Bobby accuses Jax of becoming more like Clay. Jax responds, "Maybe we're not so different."
Obfuscating Disability: In season 5, Clay suffers a gunshot wound to the chest that damages his lungs and gets him put on an oxygen tank. Midway through the season it is revealed that he has completely healed and in perfect health, but he continues to wear the tank and pretend to be weak and frail.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Jax tries to portray himself as a blue collar dude to Pope and his men so that they will underestimate him. After framing one enemy for the murder of another, Jax claims that he's not nearly smart enough to do something like that.
An Offer You Can't Refuse: Given the show's nature, the Sons give a lot of these and are on the receiving end of a few themselves
In the series premiere, Clay forces Unser to stay on as chief of police by threatening to destroy Unser's trucking business
Juice is forced to help the police or Potter will reveal to the club that he is half black
Georgie has to help the Sons wreck Mayor Hale's housing project deal or they will kill him.
Jax has to keep Clay alive and keep the club in business with the Irish and the drug cartel or the CIA will withdraw its protection and let the feds arrest everyone in the club
When Jax tries to get out of the gun business and make a clean break with the Real IRA, the Irish bomb the club house and threaten to do the same to the other chapters unless Jax gets Clay to take over being the IRA's middleman.
Oh Crap: Kozik's reaction when he steps on a land mine.
OOC Is Serious Business: The individual Sons have patterns of behaviour they tend to stick to and if they break that stereotype, we know that things have gotten really serious.
When Tig goes against Clay and makes a stand based on principle, we know that Clay has crossed a major line. For example: Tig turns in his Sgt-at-Arms patch after he discovers that Clay brutally beat Gemma towards the end of season four.
When Otto loses faith in the club, things are really falling apart.
A number of non-Irish actors play Irish characters. Titus Welliver (who plays Jimmy O) has the worst accent. At times he manages to do a passing Irish accent, but with his pronunciation of certain words he actually ends up sounding more English or Newfoundlander than Ireland.
The English Charlie Hunnam has a good American accent overall, but you can sometimes hear his accent, particularly in scenes where he's shouting.
Pet the Dog: Tig is initially characterized as a depraved misogynist, but he always behaves like a gentleman around Gemma and clearly cares for her. He also loves his daughters and willingly lets them exploit him because he knows that he'll get to see them again when they need more help. He's also a dog lover.
Platonic Life Partners: Gemma and Unser move in this direction throughout the second season. By the end, when she's on the run from the law this has pretty much been cemented.
Plot Armor: Whenever some rock music kicks in during an action scene, every major character is completely encased in it.
Police Are Useless: The Sons have the local police chief and county sheriff deputies on their payroll so they see little interference from them in their criminal activities. The ATF agents who go after them have their own private agendas and grudges and the Sons are able to use this against them to neutralize them. Season 4 averts this with new, more competent police moving in and providing an escalated threat.
Pragmatic Villainy: Unless you hit a Berserk Button or make the problem personal, the Sons can be very pragmatic. They will gladly make peace with an enemy if it is good for business and they think the person can be trusted to keep his word. When Jax tries to get the club out of gun dealing, he gets the most support when he points out that gun dealing is causing so much trouble that the club is hardly turning a profit once the lawyer fees, repair bills and funeral costs are accounted for.
Product Placement: When Unser requests a beer in the middle of the day, Jax responds, "Is it Miller Time already?" He proceeds to fetch a beer from a fridge that is indeed filled exclusively with Miller Lite.
Professional Killer: Happy's primary function for the club is killing, but assassination missions are given to a number of club members. Clay also hires one from outside the club.
Rape as Drama: Gemma in the second season opener. This is about as graphic of a depiction you will ever see (but mostly hear) on American basic cable television.
In season 5, Carla forces Gemma and Nero at gunpoint to have sex in front of her. She did this out of jealousy, since she had an unrequited crush on Nero (who turns out is in fact her half-brother). Gemma and Nero start, but refuse to go along with it when Gemma breaks down crying. Carla then shoots herself.
Gemma is again put in this situation by two prison guards, this time with Clay. They go through with it.
Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: In one of the first episodes SAMCRO catches a carnival worker who raped a young girl. They castrate him and allow him to bleed to death.
Record Needle Scratch: In "Fun Town," the beginning of the Sons' raid on a house is underlaid with a heavy metal soundtrack. However, after they open the doors, the song is cut off by a Record Needle Scratch, which segues into a light acoustic guitar piece as they discover that they've barged in on a Christian revival meeting.
Red Shirt: If ever you see a club member who you don't recognize or have never seen before, chances are pretty high that this is the first time they're being shown simply to be gunned down in a firefight unceremoniously.
Replacement Goldfish: After Half-sack's actor wanted to leave the show, two-fingered Chuck seemed to replace his part as the club's chewtoy and butt monkey pretty easily.
Retcon: The second season ends with Gemma running away with the sheriff, without any idea where they're going and giving no warning to the club. But in the opening of the third season, it's shown that he's still in town, and Clay had sent some of his men to go with Gemma instead.
The Grim Bastards are a biker gang full of them, though they're allied with the Sons. Or, well, they were.
Serial Escalation: How much more shocking will the next episode be? How much more shit will be on thanks to one of the Sons? How much of a monster will the next Big Bad be? How much further off the rails will any of the main characters go? A lot to all four questions, as it turns out.
SAMCRO has a similar history to the The Hells Angels MC. Both founded by veterans (WWII instead of Vietnam in this case) in California, and originally had more counterculture leanings before becoming a straight up organized crime syndicate. The Hells Angels also have a vicious rivalry with the Mongols MC (founded by Hispanic Vietnam War veterans), similar to the feud between SAMCRO and the Mayans. Sonny Barger even has a recurring role as an old SAMCRO member.
Chibs: Shit is addictive. Turning me into a fat bastard.
In "To Be (Part 2)" Juice is actually watching The Shield on TV
Early in Season 2, Luann's studio is shown making a porn parody of Mad Men
Actress: "You're such a bad boss, Mr. Draper! *spank spank*
In Call Of Duty Juice mention the games by name when they inspect a weapons shipment.
Sitting on the Roof: Jax does this a lot, especially in the early episodes. He takes John Teller's manuscript out there and reads about all the things the club was supposed to be.
Sociopathic Hero: Pretty much everyone in SAMCRO. Tig is the leading example in the early episodes, but he's overpaced by Happy. While the club watches an IRA member torture a traitor, most are shown to be either stoic or disturbed by the display. Happy is smiling.
Spit Take: Clay spits out some beer when a girl mentions that Happy seems "nice."
Straw Hypocrite: Ethan Zobelle is initially presented as a white supremacist who is trying to run the Sons Of Anarchy out of town. His white supremacist right hand man thinks this is because the Sons are selling guns to latino and black groups. However Zobelle has no issue with dealing with nonwhite gangs. Zobelle is actually an FBI informant who is trying to kill the gun trade and make a tidy sum of money in the process.
Stuffed In The Fridge: Subverted in season 2. After Zobelle has Gemma gang raped just to scare and anger the club, Gemma refuses to let them find out specifically to avoid this.
Tattooed Crook: An Enforced Trope. All of the Sons get club tattoos on their backs. If you leave the club, the tattoo also has to come off. When an excommunicated member of the MC doesn't comply with this rule, SAMCRO burns it off.
Team Mom: Gemma, who wields a lot of influence over the club in spite of not being an actual member. She eventually tries to groom Tara into taking her place.
After Piney sells some guns to some "gun enthusiasts," they end up killing two sheriff's deputies during a prison break.
During a revenge hit, Tig accidentally kills an innocent bystander, who happens to be the daughter of the most most powerful and ruthless drug dealer in Oakland.
Otto kills a random prison nurse as a means of getting back at the club while still sabotaging his testimony against them. It turns out that she's the sister of a brilliant and ruthless ex-soldier/US Marshal.
This hits the Sons badly in season 6 when a machine pistol they gave to an allied gang ends up being used in a school shooting. The District Attorney takes personal charge of the investigation and targets the Sons as the ones enabling such crimes to occur. When the Sons try to cover their tracks, they cause even more deaths.
Villain Protagonist: While the main characters are already antiheroes at best, Clay Morrow becomes the villain in season 4. By season 5, Jax's own steady path toward villainy is repeatedly lampshaded.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Tig and Kozik. Tig will never forgive Kozik for stealing his "girl" long ago, but they are still clearly friends.
Weaksauce Weakness: Tig is a cold-blooded killer who happens to have a crippling fear of dolls
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Sinister Minister Father Kellan Ashby is a highly respected Catholic priest who is also a high ranking IRA leader. He strongly believes in the Cause and will go to great lengths to protect it. This includes having a man executed in his church and using Jax's infant son as a bargaining chip to have the Sons murder a rival IRA leader.
"Laying Pipe," which kills off Opie a whole three episodes into the season!
Season six could well be a Wham Season. The opener begins with Iranian torture porn and ends with a school shooting that sets the primary events of the season in motion.
Episode four has the Irish killing Phil and V Lin for trying to hand off the gun running and delivering more KG-9s used in the shooting, and Lee Toriq is behind Otto's and Tara's suffering, before Otto kills him as he is gunned down.
Halfway into "Aon Rud Persanta", Jax and the Sons abruptly kill Galen O'Shay and two of his mooks, and then Jax guns down Clay to frame him for the murders.
The season 6 finale "A Mother's Work", Jax agrees to take the fall for the club over the school shooting. Gemma, believing she ratted on the club, murders Tara, which results in Juice killing Eli Roosevelt, when they discover the women at the scene. At this rate the series is going to end with Kill 'em All.
What Have I Done: When Clay sees Donna's corpse as he had mistakenly caused her death, having sent Tig to kill Opie, whom Clay believed had sold them to the ATF. Stahl has a milder moment at the scene as well.
What the Hell Is That Accent?: Almost none of the Irish characters in the IRA storyline were played by actual Irishmen. Their various fake accents range from "almost tolerable" to "Where'd he get that accent from? A Lucky Charms commercial?" The worst is probably Titus Welliver as Jimmy O'Phelan.