Gotta live this life...till you die.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 "Hamlet meets
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
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
The show provides examples of:
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- Early Installment Weirdness:
- 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 Unser 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.
- Easily Forgiven: Although Gemma had a part in the murder of John Teller, Jax doesn't seemed to have any resentment towards her, instead towards Clay, since he pulled the strings.
- 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.
- In the final season, SAMCRO starts patching in black members, but they acknowledge that the other charters will object.
- 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.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas:
- 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.
- Evil Matriarch: Gemma, though she's since been downgraded to Defrosting Ice Queen.
- 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.
- Face Death with Dignity: Practically part of the outlaw code. Protagonists and antagonists alike, when faced with inevitable, but not sudden death, all seem to calmly accept their fates and let their would be killers finish him off. At most they allow themselves either a small last request ( like finishing a slice of pie or smelling roses) or a dignified plea to spare a family member additional pain.
- 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.
- Opie. He volunteers himself for the box knowing that he would be the dead Son that Pope demanded. He fights hard, but when he's overwhelmed by the guards and can't fight anymore, he simply stands up, looks calmly at Jax, and awaits the fatal blow to the head.
- 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.
- Juice. he knew that killing Tully for the Chinese wouldn't save his life, and it would hurt the club. So he hands the blade to Tully and calmly lets him do his thing. Tully, who had up til that point treated Juice like a joke, actually gains a great deal of respect for him.
- Gemma. Knowing that outlaw code dictates that she must pay for murdering Tara with her own life, merely asks Jax if they could go out to the rose garden behind her childhood home. When he hesitates on pulling the trigger (understandable since Gemma is his mother), she coaxes him into exacting his vengeance while telling him how much she loves him. Though considering Gemma's reputation, some viewers thought this was actually one of the cruelest things she could do to her own son.
- Face-Heel Turn: Ignoring the fact that the Sons are antiheroes, Clay Morrow goes from one of the protagonists to an antagonist over the course of the show.
- Fair Cop: Deputy Hale.
- False Flag Operation: So many.
- 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.
- Faux Affably Evil: Ethan Zobelle, Clay Morrow, Putlova
- Foreshadowing: Unintentionally invoked in Season 3.
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.
- The Fundamentalist: Unlike the Big Bad Ethan Zobelle, or fellow CoDragon Ule, AJ Weston can't even consider the idea of collaborating with Latinos.
- Gambit Roulette: Season 3 is either this or a Gambit Pileup.
- Genius Bruiser:
- 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
- The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: The Sons occupy a middle ground between their Obviously Evil enemies and the rare genuinely good people.
- 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.
- Jax smiles as he stretches out his arms in preparation for his fatal crash.
- Gorn: Numerous instances, especially from Season 5 on.
- 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.
- Groin Attack:
- On Stahl, of all people.
- The carny from "Fun Town" who was castrated by Clay and left to die. They even show his severed testicles!
- And later in Season 3, Gemma stabs someone in the groin.
- Early in season 1, Jax finds the dealer who sold smack to his pregnant ex-wife, breaks off a pool cue, and stabs him in the crotch with it.
- The Sons shoot a belligerent survivalist in the crotch to get information out of him, then execute him.
- Hannibal Lecture: Tig does this to a group of bounty hunters who capture him.
- 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.
- He Who Fights Monsters:
- Season two big bad Ethan Zobelle claims to be this, after telling Deputy Hale that he formed the League Of American Nationalists after his wife was killed by a stray bullet during a drive-by shooting.
- Every law officer who goes against the Sons makes a pact with them at some point or outright becomes corrupt.
- Jax himself eventually succumbs to this.
- Hero Antagonist: Averted or played with for the most part.
- 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.
- The Hero Dies: The series ends with Jax's suicide.
- Heroic Sacrifice:
- How Opie goes out.
- 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 Atheist: Gemma.
- 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.
- I Did What I Had to Do:
- 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. In the last half of the season 6 final episode, everyone around Jemma is carrying the ball in order to affect the outcome of the episode.
- 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.
- When the Sons decide to make Rat a proper club member, they mess with him by sternly ordering him to remove his Prospect patch before they hand him his new patch.
- In season 7, Jax Teller removes his patch when he steps down as President. He hands his patch to Chibs, who in turn removes his Vice President patch and hands it to Tig.
- Interrupted Suicide: Juice tries to hang himself but the tree branch breaks.
- Jurisdiction Friction:
- 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.
- Klingon Promotion: The way Clay Morrow got control over SAMCRO.
- Kavorka Man: Bobby and Tig
- Knight in Sour Armor: Deputy Police Chief David Hale
- Knight Templar: A. J. Weston
- 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.
- Lady Macbeth: Gemma
- The Lancer: Opie to Jax's The Hero
- Land Mine Goes Click: More like Land Mine Goes High-Pitched Beep in "Call of Duty."
- 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.
- Little Miss Badass: Action Girl Trinity Ashby, not so young but kinda little and definetely Badass
- Loads and Loads of Characters: By the fifth season the show has accumulated dozens of supporting and recurring characters, gangs and criminal organizations.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Big-time for Jax in season 7.
- Love Triangle: Subverted by Tig and Kozik when it's revealed that they were fighting over a dog, not a lover.
- The Mafia: The Cacuzza crime family, led by Jimmy Cacuzza.
- The Mafiya: Led by Viktor Putlova. But not anymore. It's just business.
- Manipulative Bastard: Both Gemma and ATF Agent June Stahl.
- 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."
- Matricide: Jax Teller ultimately kills his mother Gemma in the last season after he discovers that she's betrayed the club and murdered Jax's wife Tara. Nero notes that the severity of the act will destroy Jax, and he admits that despite everything she's done he still loves his mom. It's enough for Jax to wilfully arrange his own death in the series finale.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: There's a recurring homeless woman who might just be slightly crazy or might be an Angel Unaware.
- Meaningful Echo:
- 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.
- Meaningful Name:
- Jackson Teller is the son of John Teller.
- Abel's name emphasizes his innocence, in contrast to Jax's outlaw lifestyle.
- Mercy Kill: Subverted. In Season 4, Clay is introduced to a man who is slowly being eaten alive by ants. He kills him because he overheard a conversation he and Bobby had, not to end his suffering.
- Mob War:
- 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.
- The Mole:
- Liam O'Neill and McGee.
- Both Juice and Otto in season 4 after some prodding and manipulation from Potter.
- Mood Whiplash:
- 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.
- The Mountains of Illinois:
- Charming and Lodi have too many hills for being located in the San Joaquin valley.
- Ireland in the third season.
- Music Video Syndrome: Music montages show up fairly often in this show. On several occasions, the vocals to background music are provided by Katey Sagal, therefore doubling as The Cast Showoff.
- Murder by Mistake:
- 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.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: The Sons' loyalty to their club.
- NaÔve 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.
- Nonindicative Name:
- 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.
- In season 1, Clay when Unser tells him Stahl set up Opie to look like a rat; Tig had just gone out to execute Opie (and kills Donna by mistake) on Clay's orders.
- Oireland: A major part of Season 3
- 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.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
- 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.
- Outlaw Couple: Clay and Gemma.
- 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 cross one of their standards 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.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: Jax was never an angel, but in early seasons he was considered to be an idealist, especially when compared to most of the other members of the Sons. His relationship with his mother and step-father, coupled with his rise to the presidency of SAMCRO, changes all of that. By the end of Season 5, he has gone from an Anti-Hero to a Nominal Hero at best, and by Season 7 he has become a full-blown Villain Protagonist.
- 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.
- Rape by Proxy:
- 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.
- Rated M for Manly: Yup, definitely.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Bobby. Don't let the pompadour or organic cooking fool you.
- Rearrange the Song: The Theme Tune during the Belfast episodes is rearranged with some Irish/Gaelic style.
- 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. This goes double for Prospects. Even if you get used to seeing one around for a good amount of time, it's best not to get too attached...
- 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.
- Sacrificial Lion: Opie
- Sarcastic Confession: Done at the start of "With an X" when a kilogram of cocaine is missing.
Juice (Juan Carlos Ortiz):: Yeah, I stuck a key of blow down my pants and just walked right out the front door.
- Scary Black Man:
- The One-Niners is a gang full of them.
- 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.
- Setting Update: Of Hamlet.
- Shame If Something Happened: After roasting Tig's daughter Dawn alive, Pope says he'd hate to see the same thing happen to Tig's other daughter, if Tig says anything about the murder.
- Shirtless Scene: Jax gets these most often, but there are small doses of Opie, Juice and Happy mixed in.
- 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.
- In "Old Bones," Jax is nervous about "all the poison that Hale is going to pour in Lowell's ear." This is a reference to Hamlet, which sees Claudius kill the elder Hamlet in this way.
- In "Seeds":
: 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.
- Happy's real name? Happy Lowman. Death of a Salesman, anyone?
- 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."
- Stalker with a Crush: Josh Kohn
- 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.
- Tears of Remorse: Tig, while high from shrooms, breaks down and cries from the guilt of killing Opie's wife by mistake.
- The Cameo: NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony as one of one of Markís men
- The Ophelia: Opie, who serves as the equivalent character of the Hamlet setting update.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Unser unloads a megaton one on Gemma in "Small World" (episode 5.06), basically telling her he's tired of cleaning up her messes while remaining stuck in "the friend zone".
- The Triads and the Tongs: The Lin Triad
- Those Wacky Nazis:
- The Nords are a local Neo-Nazi gang. They're pretty harmless.
- L.O.A.N. (League Of American Nationalists) is a more militant but also more respectable organization of Neo-Nazis.
- Time Skip: Considering the first three seasons were all supposed to have happened over the course of about a month each, the fourth season opens up two years later to try and catch back up to date.
- Title Drop: In-Universe. Otto listens to William Barry's essay "The Progress of Nihilism" on audiotape, wherein Barry uses the phrase "sons of anarchy."
- Tongue Trauma: In the last episode of season 5, Otto Delaney bites off his own tongue and throws it at a two-way mirror when he's formally interrogated about his murder of a nurse.
- Too Dumb to Live:
- Half-Sack's death could've been avoided if he just locked the front door. Or closed it.
- Pope's guard who was supposed to be watching Jax while Pope tortures Tig. After disarming Jax, he takes no notice as Jax simply retrieves another gun from his bike's saddlebag and shoots him.
- Toric dies in virtually the same way as his sister. He should have known better than to turn his back on Otto.
- To the Pain: "If you ever talk that way about Tara again, I will pound those half-dead hands so hard into this table, you won't ever be able to hold that gavel again."
- Unintentionally Notorious Crime:
- 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.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: When the members are told Clay was shot by two black men (In reality: Opie avenging his father), Tig feels responsible and decides to enact revenge on the One-Niners by going after their leader. Like most dramas, Tig doesn't kill the intended target but his girlfriend, who happens to the daughter of the most dangerous gangster in town, Damon Pope. Had he not been irrational, Damon Pope's daughter wouldn't have been dead, Damon Pope wouldn't have caused hell for the Sons, Tig's own daughter and Opie would have been alive today.
- Villain Decay: In the early seasons, the Sons are little more than a brutal criminal organization, and Jax is conflicted about whether the club is corrupting his soul. As the seasons progress and Jax gains more control over the club, the Sons becomes more noble. By season six, the Sons are doing favors for a battered transexual and calling her "darlin'."
- 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.
- Warrior Poet: Apparently John Teller was this.
- 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.
- Wham Episode:
- Each season finale tends to be this.
- "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.
- And then in Episode five the Irish blows up TM. ]]
- And now Jax has killed Clay. Yes, that Clay.
- 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 Could Possibly Go Wrong?: At times it seems as if this is the club's operating principle.
- 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.
- Wife Husbandry: Jimmy O threatens this against Chibs, which also counts as a Kick the Dog moment for him.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: In the ninth episode of season seven, after Wendy tells Jax that Abel has been frustrated, Jax responds with "He's five years old, he shouldn't be frustrated about anything!" Abel was born in the series premiere, and the writers apparently forgot that at most only three years could have passed since the show's beginning. By the end of season two, he was around eight months to a year. Season three picked up almost right after and was only a week long. Come season four's beginning, fourteen months have passed, making him around two. Season four was about two or three weeks long, as was the fifth season which picked up six weeks after the former. Season six picks up about two weeks after season five, and like the last two could only have been a few weeks long in length. Season seven picks up ten days later, and is only a few weeks long. All of this added together would make Abel at the oldest two and a half to three. The writers must be going by the actual actor's age at this point, who has for some reason been played by the same child actor for the last four years.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: Claimed by Juice when he's asked to translate Spanish. "I'm a Puerto Rican from Queens. I speak better Yiddish."
- You Have Failed Me: You really, really do no want to disobey when Popes gives an order. Similarly, if Pope promotes you to a position of responsibility you better not try to decline.
- You Remind Me of X: In episode 4.08, Piney says to Jax "I'm not going to tell you how much you just sounded like your old man."