Series: Spartacus: Blood and Sand aka: Spartacus Bloodand Sand
And as fanservice goes, this is easily the tamest example.
Batiatus: What would you do to hold your wife again? To feel the warmth of her skin, to taste her lips? Would you kill? Spartacus: Whoever stood between us. Batiatus: How many men? A hundred, a thousand? Spartacus: I would kill them all. Batiatus: Then do it in the arena. Fight for me, and the honor of my forefathers. Prove yourself, climb to the pinnacle, gain your freedom, and that of the woman you've lost.
A very graphic, very violent, very sweary, very sexually explicit Starz television series produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Steven DeKnight. It was initially picked up for 13 episodes and then got a second pick-up before even a single episode aired.The show's look is reminiscent of 300. Each episode is chock full of slow-motion fight scenes, in-your-face blood spatters and explicit sex. The production possibly owed its greenlight status to the runaway success of HBO's recent Rome.Season 2 was postponed after star Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away on September 11, 2011, and was replaced by Liam McIntyre. A prequel miniseries, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, premiered on January 21, 2011. Spartacus: Vengeance premiered on January 27, 2012 and ran to the end of March. Several months later, Starz and DeKnight announced that Spartacus: War of the Damned, which premiered in January of 2013, would be the show's last season.Stanley Kubrick's version of the 1951 novel Spartacus had a similar reputation; the movie was banned from TV for decades.Has a recap page, under construction. Be advised that the folders below may contain unmarked spoilers from previous seasons.
Ancient Rome: Only a few scenes happen in Rome itself though, and the stereotypical imagery of white columns everywhere is mostly averted.
Antiquated Linguistics: The characters in the show speak a form of latinized English, which manifests in different ways:
Everyone drops articles (such as "a," "my," and "this") from their speech whenever meaning is clear, because Latin didn't have indefinite and finite articles and didn't like personal articles.
In classical Latin, people don't feel anything, but the feeling manifests itself. This appeared in the show through phrases like "Gratitude" (instead of "Thank You") or "Apologies" (instead of "I apologize").
Armor Is Useless: The Romans' heavy armor seems to do little besides slow them down in fights with more nimble gladiators. Sometimes egregious (e.g sword slashes seeming to cut right through lorica), sometimes more believable (e.g striking at gaps in the armour, or beating the target down with raw strength).
Amusingly, the revolting slaves appear to be aware of this trope, as they don't trouble to loot or wear any Roman armour, and are often seen fighting fully-armoured soldiers in loincloths.
In the slave market scenes, the prices mentioned are a fraction of what any slave - let alone a gladiator - would actually have cost at the time. Since understating the prices doesn't help the story, this is probably a genuine mistake.
Several events in the show differ from the historical record. The initial escape was carried out by seizing kitchen utensils, Varnius survived the war and didn't even field troops until after Glaber's defeat, and Crassus wasn't given command until after the split between Spartacus and Crixus, and Crixus' death.
The type of Roman armor known today as lorica segmentata (segmented plate armor) appears in the show but it was invented much later in the days of the Roman Empire. It is however, the most easily recognisable Roman armour, so chalk this one up to Small Reference Pools (along with the over-representation - and occasional misapplication! - of their famous testudo formation).
In War of the Damned, the movements of Spartacus' army are essentially reversed from the historical record. note Historically he moved north,historians believe to escape over the Alps before turning south after the split with Crixus and Crixus' resulting death, historians are unsure as to why, exactly, but revenge is a popular theory, eventually moving to the southern tip of the Italian penensula, records indicate with the intention of sailing to Sicily, and getting boxed in between Crassus and the sea. In the show, Spartacus moves south first, and his intentions towards Sicily are for strategic purposes, not escape, before fleeing north and being caught between Crassus and the Alps.
Badass: All of the veteran gladiators and anyone taken under their wing. Ashur's band of killers. Caesar and Crassus.
Band of Brothers: Spartacus and his soldiers may fight among each other, but at the end of the day, they do love each other.
The Beautiful Elite: Romans of high rank definitely tend towards exceptional personal attractiveness, as demonstrated by Glaber, Ilithyia, Varinius, Seppius, Seppia, Marcus Crassus and his entire family, and of course Julius Caesar. Lucretia tries to be this, but she is not technically "elite", and it could be suggested that Batiatus's average appearance is part of why the true upper class looks down upon him. Likewise, the Roman aristocrats insist on having only the finest of everything. Ilithyia throws an epic tantrum at being told that she will have to take up residence in the ludus in Vengeance, and proclaims that "new appointments of much coin" will be purchased to bring her surroundings up to an acceptable level.
The Big Guy: Every single (former or current) gladiator can be considered as such.
Lesley-Ann Brandt Brandt (Naevia), Antonio Te Maioha (Barca) and Craig Walsh-Wrightson (Solonius) in both Blood and Sand and Gods of the Arena. Ironically, Brandt's replacement gets the promotion to the closing credits. note There are rumors that Brandt not being promoted is the real reason she left the show
Heath Jones (Donar) and Barry Duffiel (Lugo) in both Vengeance and War of the Damned.
Jai Courtney (Varro) in Blood and Sand.
Jeffrey Thomas (Titus Batiatus) and Stephen Lovatt (Tullius) in Gods of the Arena.
Pane Hema Taylor (Nasir), Peter McCauley (Lucuius Caelius) and Hannah Mangan-Lawrence (Seppia) in Vengeance. Taylor was promoted the following season.
Chekhov's Skill: The show takes time to highlight Spartacus' tactical mind, showing that he's capable of formulating plans and adapting them to new situations, skills that will later prove crucial during the revolt. It also shows Crixus as having a knack for inspiring loyalty and admiration in those around him, which will come into play when Crixus breaks off with half the rebels when Spartacus decides to leave for Gaul.
Combat Pragmatist: Between throwing sand, faking surrender, and surprise attacks to the balls, Ashur lives and breathes this trope.
Coitus Ensues: "Subtext" is pretty much a non-existent concept on the show. If characters are getting it on then it will be shown. There is no such thing as an "implied" sexual relationship, to the extent that they even avert the But Not Too Gay trope.
Coitus Uninterruptus: Since this is set in Ancient Rome, this happens often. Batiatus and Lucretia are especially guilty of it. They have slaves act as fluffers before they get down to business with each other, and Lucretia even once asks Batiatus to have anal sex with one of her slave girls in the bath for her viewing pleasure. Barca and Pietros also have sex in their cell, which is easily visible to anyone who walks by.
Cruel Mercy: Several times, by both the Romans and the Gladiators. It always backfires.
Crusading Widower: While specific to Spartacus himself, this basically serves as the launch pad for everything else that happens in the series.
Sura, since the historical Spartacus' prophetess wife/lover is repeatedly stated in historical records as an important member of the rebellion. Here, she was killed-off at the middle of the first season for the sake of Plot Triggering Death.
Varnius, since historical records stated that he survived, but was barely captured by the rebel forces during the Third Servile War. Here, he was killed-off at the penultimate episode of the second season.
Historically, Arrius was part of the forces that defeated and killed Crixus. In the show, it was the other way around. Though Crixus was still killed immediately after.
Historically, Marcus Crassus' son did not even participated in the Third Servile War. Here, he was killed at the show's penultimate episode for the sake of having a major Roman character die to ease the audiences from the fact that majority of the protagonists are all Doomed by Canon at the next episode.
According to historical records, Castus was killed off at the last moments of the Final Battle alongside Gannicus. He is the second named character to be killed off in the show's Grand Finale.
Defiant to the End: It's actually a lot easier to count the characters who died as cowards.
Defiled Forever: Subverted several times, as many of the female characters (notably Diona, Sura, Naevia, and Aurelia) are viewed this way by themselves and/or other characters; however, the audience, and the nicer characters, tend to view them with sympathy or even admiration.
Deliberate Values Dissonance: While several women and slaves dislike being oppressed on a personal level, most articulate no underlying philosophical objection to slavery or sexism in general, at least until Spartacus and friends take a stand for freedom. Even then, some are more or less content with the status quo.
The Empire: Rome, obviously. Though technically it was a Republic at the time.
Eternal Sexual Freedom: While Romans did have lots and lots of sex, the show still plays this trope straight in regards to it's use of female on female relationships; While it wasn't unheard of for slaves to perform lesbian sexual acts in secret for their mistress's entertainment, and possible for her to join in, lesbianism was not considered appropriate by general society.
Evil Versus Evil: None of the bad guys really seem to have any real loyalty towards one another. Once they're done using each other, all bets are off.
Fanservice: Both male and female actors are almost uniformly chiseled and gorgeous, and the men especially spend most of their onscreen time bare-chested and glistening. Gratuitous female nudity also abounds. There's even an intersexed person in there. Truly equal opportunity fanservice.
Also, naked wrestling, hermaphrodites, sex shows, a large, muscular black man with a voice like Zeus himself - add a whip and his promise to turn you into perfect physical specimens, and you get an extra ten percent of female fans. The ones who weren't already here for the shirtless bronzed gladiator bodies and rampant nudity.
Blood And Sand: Ends with Spartacus and the other gladiators successfully launching their rebellion against the house of Batiatus.
Gods Of The Arena: Is a prequel, so this is even more of a given. Batiatus and Solonious' friendship is doomed, Ashur will be injured by Crixus, and Oenomaus will become Doctore.
Vengeance: Builds up to the showdown at Mt Vesuvivus, where Oenomaus and Glaber will die.
War Of The Damned: Is the end of the tale. Rome will crush the rebellion and pretty much everyone is going to die. The real Spartacus will be presumed dead and his body never found. His specific fate is therefore open to Artistic License.
Germanic Depressives: Averted by virtue of antiquity. The ancient German tribesmen are boisterous, fun-loving and if anything overly-enthusiastic to the point of being difficult to manage.
Pretty much the only reason to include a sex scene between Lilah and Xena in Gods of the Arena.
Illthyia and Lucretia also kiss each other multiple times in the show.
Invoked a few times, various male characters (typically Roman elite) clearly enjoy seeing women kiss or have sex. In War of the Damned, Gannicus also clearly enjoys seeing Saxa make out with another woman.
Gladiator Games: Mostly limited to the first season and prequel, though they manage to sneak in at least one example per season.
Good Is Not Nice: Most of the gladiators are about as nice as you'd expect a bunch of hulking, bloodthirsty killers to be, though they fight injustice.
Gratuitous German: The Germanic characters occasionally speak German (as a stand-in for ancient Germanic languages). Not very well, though - people fluent in modern German shouldn't expect to fully understand what they're saying.
Headbutt of Love: In a show with this much overt sex (and rape), this is often used as a way to convey more tender emotions of love or caring.
Crixus and Naevia on more than one occasion. But most dramatically at the end.
Nasir is also a popular recipient, and not just from Agron. He even gets one from Spartacus himself after being injured during Naevia's rescue.
High-Pressure Blood: Copious amounts of blood spray and gout across the screen whenever a gladiator lands a blow (even from ostensibly bloodless wounds such as being thumped in the back with an axe shaft). However, there's rarely any bleeding afterwards, probably because most of the blood effects are CG.
Historical-Domain Character: Spartacus obviously, but also Crixus, Oenomaus (Doctore), Batiatus, Glaber, Gannicus, Julius Caesar and Marcus Crassus.
Historical Beauty Update: While the actual appearances of most of the people involved in the Third Servile War is unknown (exceptions include Caesar, Crassus and Pompey) it is pretty clear that the show significantly upgrades everybody's looks. Those characters that are not strikingly attractive are often Hollywood Homely, rather than genuinely ugly. The fashions of the Roman women are also much more sexy than would have been considered decent at the time in order to better showcase their bodies.
Glaber is a monumental asshole in the show. Not much is known about the real man, but nothing suggests that he wasn't just some hapless Roman commander.
Crassus was apparently just as brutal as he's shown in the series, but he probably wasn't such a keen swordfighter on top of it all.
While Julius Caesar was pretty badass in real life, here he's also a scruffy fistfighter, a special ops saboteur and a one-man-army on the battlefield.
Hollywood Atheist: Spartacus and Gannicus are atheists in a time period where it was practically unheard of to be atheist.
Hollywood Healing: The protagonists often suffer some pretty gruesome injuries, in particular from bladed weapons, during fight scenes. Yet these usually heal with a speed that implies Healing Factor and aside from a few signature scars distinctive to their characters many of these wounds leave no permanent marks. Injuries that cut to the bone on the show often heal faster and better than minor scratches do in real life.
Hollywood Tactics: Often employed by the Roman Legions in War of the Damned. Particularly compared to real Roman legions, which conquered so many other cultures specifically by having vastly superior tactics and discipline. Historically Spartacus was initially successful because he faced local militias, not "real" Legionaries, and because the men were afraid of the brutal and renowned gladiators which many of them had seen in the arena. Here however Roman troops are shown charging into individual melee combat in a way contrary to real Roman battle tactics.
Infant Immortality: Averted big time, whether they're teenagers (Numerius who is killed by Aurelia as revenge for Varronote though technically he was an adult by the standards of Roman society), children (the child with the ball in Sinuessa en Valle that's killed by the rampaging slaves), toddlers (the son of the money lender killed by Barca off-screen), newborns (Lucrecia jumping down the cliff with Illythia's baby) or unborns (Crixus stabbing a pregnant Lucretia in her womb).
In Medias Res: Used in a few episodes, particularly the first two seasons.
Interplay of Sex and Violence : basically the trope personified for TV viewing. Particularly juxtaposed in the arena scenes, where shots of bloody violence is intercut with topless women gyrating in the crowd.
Sura and Spartacus experience prophetic dreams at different points.
The sky darkens when Theokoles enters the area. It rains after Spartacus kills him as well as when he dies.
Mooks: Roman soldiers are slain pretty casually by the gladiators. Partially justified, since all the Romans' best troops were out expanding the republic's borders at the time, but the whole reason that the historical Spartacus relied on guerrilla warfare was because the Romans tended to win straight fights.
Moving the Goalposts: A tendency most of the major Roman characters have, which underlines their untrustworthy nature.
Glaber abandoning his agreement with Spartacus and the Thracians, only to argue that they were still duty bound as Roman auxiliaries. This becomes an ongoing behavior with him.
Batiatus: Using Sura as a bargaining chip with Spartacus, then having her killed.
Crassus: With everybody, virtually all of the time.
No Name Given: Spartacus himself, whose Thracian name is never revealed. Batiatus labels him Spartacus, after a legendary Thracian king, because Glaber never bothered to learn his name. Afterwards, he refuses to go by any other name. His real name is occasionally subject to an unreveal.
Only One Name: Married Roman women are only referred to by their given names both in-universe and in promotional materials for the show in stark contrast to theirhusbands.note Truth in Television: Roman naming conventions can be confusing to modern people. Especially since Romans of notable birth had both clan and family names (the former often being mistaken by modern people for a middle name). Many of the important male Romans on the show are heads of their families (pater familias) and are thus referred to by their family name. Gaius Julius Caesar is often called "Julius Caesar", omitting his actual first name entirely, as he is the pater familias of Caesar family in the Julii clan. This coincides with the One Steve Limit, as it was fairly common for children to be named after their parents or other ancestors. Note that the show changes Marcus Crassus' eldest son's name to "Tiberius" to avoid confusion because in real life it was also Marcus, and as they were of the same clan and family, both had the same full name: Marcus Licinius Crassus.
Plenty of Blondes: Many of the Roman noblewomen favour blonde hair. Ilithyia is a natural blonde while Lucretia sometimes wears blonde wigs.
Viva Bianca (Illithiya) got the fastest promotion as she was immediately included by episode 3.
Dan Feuerriegel (Agron) and Craig Parker (Glaber) in Vengeance. Naevia is an odd example, as Cynthia Addai-Robinson (her second actress) is the one who received this treatment, not Lesley-Ann Brandt (her original).
Pana Hema-Taylor (Nasir), Ditch Davey (Nemetes) and Ellen Hollman (Saxa) in War of the Damned.
Poirot Speak: Characters do not drop into Latin at random or with any frequency, but the English dialogue is often interrupted by a few specific Latin nouns related to the military, political office or gladiatory games and training (See also Shown Their Work below)
Pride: Ends up causing a lot of the drama in the story.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Main star Andy Whitfield has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. While waiting for him to recover, Starz made up for the gap with a prequel mini-series. Whitfield has since bowed out of the series to continue treatment. Sadly, he lost the battle on September 11, 2011.
Real Men Hate Affection: Especially unusual given the period this is set in, but even when parting for what they expect to be the last time, most of the guys go for the forearm clasp version of the Handshake Substitute, rather than hug. Even Agron is not very touchy-feely with anyone except Nasir. Oddly averted by the boisterous Germans, who seem big on the Man Hug, at least initially.
Crixus and Naevia start off as Star-Crossed Lovers, kept apart by their status as slaves and their domina Lucretia, but once the gladiators rebel...
Agron's homosexuality is not even made apparent in Blood and Sand. It is only after he gets together with Nasir in Vengeance that the the truth comes out. By War of the Damned they are perhaps theOfficial Couple. Especially because they are the only two survivors from among the major characters at the end of the series.
Averted with Spartacus himself, who was in an Official Couple with his wife Sura. His subsequent romantic involvements strongly suggest a case of the Cartwright Curse.
Reluctant Fanservice Girl: Widespread, and applied to both genders. Slaves are often forced to go partially or completely naked for the entertainment of their Roman masters either for erotic reasons, especially with household slaves and prostitutes, or simply because in some jobs, such as mining, they see no reason to provide them with clothes.
The fight scenes. Popping someone's head off with a chain, for example.
Gladiators tended to have a layer of kevlard to protect themselves from the bloody, slashing wounds that fans loved without serious internal injury. In the show, however, most gladiators have bodybuilder physiques with washboard abs.
Scenery Porn: Inverted. Okay, the series tries to follow in the wake of 300, which would explain why Italy (one of the most beautiful countries in Europe) arguably looks only slightly more pleasant than the Moon.
In the match between Crixus and Spartacus in episode three both men are armed according to their gladiator types: Crixus, a Gaul, is a murmillo, and Spartacus is armed as a thraex, which is a stereotypical Thracian. The matchup of these sets is one that was actually used in the real arenas, though the murmillo wasn't actually used until several decades later.
Though the language itself is entirely in English, all titles and positions are referred to with their proper Latin terms, and even correct gender and tense declension. The dialogue also omits the definite and indefinite articles to match Latin's lack of same.
Slave Brand: The gladiators are branded with the mark of the house. Slaves from the house of Batiatus all have a B on the inside of their forearms. Body slaves get a tattoo.
Underestimating Badassery: The Romans generally underestimate Spartacus and his followers, thinking them "common slaves" and mere "savages". Completely ignoring the fact that this fighting force is made primarily of slaves who were trained day in and day out on nothing more than how to fight and kill. It comes to a head in Vengeance's "Chosen Path" after Ashur tries to desperately point out, for the thousandth time, how dangerous the gladiators are compared to the average Roman mook. Glaber's response is to throw Ashur into a dogpile of soldiers and tell them to go nuts. Ashur kicks the crap out them.
Ashur: And I was considered lowest among the Brotherhood.
Underwear of Power: The rebel slaves, particularly the males, fights wearing nothing but loincloth.
Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The Third Servile War is a real historical event, and Spartacus was an actual person. But most of the storyline is an invention of the writers.
Walking Shirtless Scene: A lot. This gets particularly ridiculous in the pilot, where Spactacus is shirtless and bare-legged in the snow (which also doubles as a Shout-Out to 300, where the Greek soldiers are similarly dressed). Also, it isn't restricted to the men, not by a longshot. It's easier to list the cast members who don't get a shirtless scene.
War Arc: The last two seasons, especially War of the Damned.
World of Badass: Seriously, even the most feminine characters (e.g. Seppia) are not above taking a crack at killing people.
World of Muscle Men: Other than the occasional child, half-starved slave or petty bureaucrat, nearly every male from gladiators to Roman Senators is totally buff, and shown partially or completely naked to prove it. Batiatus is a notable exception.
Batman Gambit: Illithiya's Evil Plan in "Party Favors". He had Numerius switch Crixus with Varro in his exhibition match with Spartacus. If Varro wins, her and her husband's hated enemy dies. If Spartacus wins (which happened), he will be emotionally and psychologically damaged for killing his best friend.
Most of the slaves, obviously. Batiatus and Lucretia are fond of having slaves act as fluffers before they get down to business with each other. Invoked with Mira who is (repeatedly) sent to Spartacus to act as this. She is implied to have been this, possibly for much of the ludus, as well. To his credit, he turns her down as she is not there willingly, though they later become willing lovers. Naevia is an interesting example, Lucretia protects her virginity, but only so that she will be worth more later.
We find out in Gods of the Arena the reason for preserving Naevia's virginity by Lucretia was so she would not be subjected to what her friend Diona had been.
Pietros is a male example, though he and Barca genuinely love each other. Gnaeus on the other hand...
Bed Trick: And how. Notably, both of them are victims of it.
Benevolent Boss: Batiatus plays this straight when it suites his purposes, primarily with Ashur and Oenomaus. Ashur was granted a promotion to the villa and was given Crixus' woman, and Oenomaus was slated for freedom and being hired as lanista. He averts the trope whenever he feels that he can wring more advantage to do so (See Bad Boss above)
Aurelia castrates a rapist, and later stabs an adolescent boynote Technically he was legally an adult by the standards of roman society, though most of the main characters still considered him a child to death for having her husband killed.
Sura, to a lesser extent. She is not an easy mark for a Geddi gang-rape, and does not run for safety when her husband comes to her rescue. She also gives Spartacus his marching orders: Kill them all.
Bigger Bad: Glaber, and the Roman Republic in general.
Black Dude Dies First: In episode 8, Batiatus buys six new slaves at auction to be trained as gladiators. One of them, a black man, declares that he will train hard to become as legendary as Spartacus. Gilligan Cut to him getting thrown against a peg during training and killed instantly.
Body Paint: A number of slaves at a party are painted white to resemble marble statues. Ironically, real Roman statues were painted to look like people. Also used for the Bed Trick mentioned above.
Book Ends: The pilot and the season finale ends with the camera zooming in to focus on Spartacus. Both episodes were also done In Media Res.
Bullying a Dragon: Ovidius (the loan shark) tries to intimidate Batiatus in early episodes, but has a difficult time of it since Batiatus is usually followed by at least one famous and deadly gladiator.
Dual Wielding: Theokoles. Later, Batiatus orders Spartacus to adopt the style as an in-universe invocation of the Rule of Cool. Oenomaus, though it is not his signature style, shows that he is capable of this as well in episode 5.
Empathic Environment: When Theokoles (aka the Shadow of Death) steps into the arena, the sky clouds over.
Enemy Mine: Spartacus and Crixus against Theokoles. And again at the end of the first season.
Ashur refuses to accept Good Solonius's bribe, saying, "I am a villain, but I'm not your villain."
Ilithyia is horrified when she kills Licinia in a fit of rage and shows genuine guilt for it.
Batiatus is also furious with his wife for manipulating the events that lead to Ilithyia murdering Licinia, although this could be explained away as him being worried about what the costs might be. He does however apologize to Spartacus over Lucretia tricking him into sleeping with Ilithyia, and seems to genuinely mean it.
Lucretia is at first pretty horrified when she realises that Batiatus was behind the massacre of Ovidius's family. However, this is because she thinks his motive was to get out of paying his debts - when he explains that Ovidius had tried to have him killed, she's fine with it. (It looks as if she'd have considered killing just Ovidius to get out of debt perfectly ok - it was the wife and child that were overkill, and killing THEM is fine once she finds out it's revenge.)
I Have Your Wife: Batiatus promises to find Sura and buy her for Spartacus if he behaves and does well in the Arena. He does buy her, but has her killed right before they reunite.
Improbable Hairstyle: Crixus has a modern military crew cut that would be nigh impossible to get at the time. Although the Romans did invent the military cut, the one Spartacus gets would be more accurate. Also Suro has a modern fringe and layers. Subverted with Lucretia, who has unnatural red hair, but episode 3 reveals she wears wigs, which was Truth in Television for some Roman women.
Infant Immortality: Whether Barca disobeyed orders because he could not bear to kill a child drives the plot of episode 6. It turns out that he did not disobey orders, and he was lying to Pietros to make him feel better.
An interesting example for Ilithyia. In one episode, Batiatus gets a few more slaves to be turned into gladiators. Illithyia, who loves big strong men with large endowments, purchases one of them as her own slave. Later Spartacus speaks out of turn in front of her and her friends, and she states that she would have him crucified were he her slave. She later tries to have her slave kill Spartacus in the washroom but is stopped by Crixus. The slave's punishment: Emasculation and crucifixion, in the training yard for all to see, especially Ilithyia.
Jerkass Façade: Spartacus adopts a jerkass facade to get respect in the arena, while still remaining a decent guy at heart. For example, when Gnaeus is harassing Pietros, Spartacus angrily orders Pietros to bring him some water, which gives Pietros an excuse to get away.
Glaber makes a point of telling Spartacus what he has done to his wife.
Ashur's cruelty to Pietros after Barca is killed.
Ashur again: he is allowed to have any of the slaves as his sex slave, and he chooses Naevia because he knows that she and Crixus are in love. This was also likely to get revenge on Crixus, it works flawlessly.
The Lost Lenore: Murdered wife Sura is a classic example. She appears after her grisly demise in flashbacks and dream sequences, and Spartacus' subsequent love interest is a Replacement Goldfish who bears more than a passing resemblance to her, and a lot of their relationship tension revolves around Spartacus' ongoing love and grief for his murdered wife.
Lady Macbeth: Illithyia convinces Glaber to go against his orders and make a grab for glory (at the expense of Spartacus and his Thracians), which arguably kicks off the entire plot. She is also perfectly capable of making life difficult for Spartacus in her husband's absence.
Made of Iron: Several characters, but special mention must go to Theokoles, the Shadow of Death.
Manipulative Bastard: Batiatus and Lucretia, who play their slaves and Roman countrymen to whatever tune they like. To a lesser extent, Ashur. The way he goes about getting Barca killed is worthy of mention, as is his revenge on Crixus, the gladiator who had wounded him, in episode 12.
Not So Different: Spartacus and Crixus in the Season 1 finale. Crixus even laments that had things been different, they would have been as brothers; and even though they stand in each others way, both of them are fighting for a just cause.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: DeKnight said in commentary for the finale that the only scene he regrets having to cut was after Duro's death. Apparently, Agron kills everyone, and Oenomaus comes to find him surrounded by the bodies of the guards.
Batiatus' slimy henchmen Aulus, who was ordered to kill Spartacus' wife, has one in episode 11; Towards the end of the episode, he finds himself all alone with Spartacus while he "questions" him about the absence of the supposed wound he received trying to rescue her from alleged attackers while en route to the ludus.
Batiatus has a massive one when Spartacus nearly impales him through the head in Episode 13.
Ominous Latin Chanting: During a sex scene, no less. It makes sense if you have worked out that it is actually Ilithyia not Licinia under the mask, making both of them victims of a very brutal Bed Trick.
Punctuated Pounding: Batiatus is fond of combining this with the Cluster F-Bomb, whether it's kicking a dead slave or beating someone round the head with a cup. Aurelia also does this in the finale while stabbing Numerius.
Redemption in the Rain: For Spartacus in the arena in episode 5, after he and Crixus fight Theokoles. The rain breaks the heat wave and drought that had been gripping the city. He is thereafter repeatedly referred to as "bringer of rain."
Retired Badass: Oenomaus (Doctore) certainly counts, though he is only retired from the ring. He was the only man to ever survive a fight with Theokoles and is able to teach both Spartacus and Crixus a thing or two.
Reality Ensues: A cut Spartacus receives in his fight with Varro that he doesn't get treated results in a wicked infection that nearly kills him.
Stripperiffic: Ye Gods and how. Many of the gladiators go into battle with their chests completely exposed and train in what amounts to a loincloth. There are frequently scantily dressed female slaves as background extras and several episodes where the background extras are fully nude.
Tear Off Your Face: An underground pit fighter named Ixion does this to defeated opponents, then wears their faces as masks.
Batiatus: Friends! We are perfectly safe inside the villa!
(cue the enraged gladiators storming into the villa)
Then Let Me Be Evil: When Ashur gets berated for his slimy Manipulative Bastard behaviour, he pulls this line of defense, pointing out that everybody treated him like pig feed and that nearly every git move he pulled benefited his master, Doctore and the ludus, so screw the gladiators and their honour. From what we see in Gods of the Arena, his attitude is at least partially justified.
All the time in the pilot. It's practically Spartacus' signature move.
Subverted in the second episode — a thrown sword is still lethal, but when your opponent is fast enough to parry it, it becomes lethal to a random innocent bystander. Oops. Then lampshaded immediately by Doctore: "If you throw your sword in the ring, you are dead."
Throwing an axe however is apparently okay, as Spartacus saves Batiatus' life this way in Episode 4.
Ironically played straight by Doctore in the final episode of the season. Doctore is apparently badass enough to pull it off.
Tragic Monster: While not in the series, Theokoles is painted as this in the prequal comic. Basically speaking he was a good natured, hard working boy who turned out to be exceptionally good at killing, and not much else. Some of the details are especially tragic, but best not to get into them.
Unholy Matrimony: The series is actually rather good about this - being complete bastards does not stop Batiatus/Lucretia and Glaber/Illithyia from being relatively loving and devoted couples.
The Unreveal: Twice in episode 2, when Spartacus is about to tell us his real name. The first time Crixus cuts him off, the second time the Doctore invokes Talk To The Whip. He gets cut off again in a flashback, this time by Sura.
Batiatus begins to break down during the revolt at the end of Season 1, when he sees not only his plans for office, but his own ludus falling apart.
Lucretia trashes her room after Ilithyia demands a night with Crixus, who until then had been her personal sex toy.
Ilithyia has a murderous one after she realizes she has been subjected to a particularly nasty Bed Trick.
Visual Pun: When the gladiator who wears his opponents' faces in the Pit turns to the audience with his newest trophy and says, "You wanna face me?!"
"Well Done, Son" Guy: Ashur just wants a little respect from the other gladiators, to the point that he is initially reluctant to accept an elevated position because it will mean that he will never get the chance. He comforts himself with cold blooded vengeance.
"Delicate Things." Barca was framed by Ashur and was killed. Sura is delivered to Spartacus gravely wounded and dies. Batiatus ultimately reveals that he had her killed so Spartacus will have nothing and no one else to fight for but him and his house.
"Party Favors." Illithiya manipulates Numerius to switch Crixus with Varro in his exhibition match with Spartacus and orders him to have the loser killed.
Spartacus killing Theokoles is an in-universe example.
Numerius' thumbs down from episode 10.
Crixus tapping his shield from episode 13.
What the Hell, Hero?: Mira calls Spartacus out on his selfishness twice in Episode 12. First by telling him that if he tries to kill Batiatus, whether he succeeds or not, every slave and gladiator in the ludus will be killed. When she learns that he did not take his revenge because Aurelia is now a slave of Batiatus, she tears into him even more for the fact that he'd let everyone except her die.
Woman Scorned: Lucretia reacts pretty much as expected when she finds out why Crixus has lost that loving feeling.
Would Hit a Girl: Illithyia gets this a lot. Spartacus tries to strangle her after he finds out he had sex with her and her own husband headbutts her when he finds out she murdered Licinia. Crixus on the other hand manages to stab Lucretia in the gentlest way possible.
Xanatos Gambit: Batiatus arranges Good Solonius' murder, then sends Ashur to warn him. If Good Solonius doesn't listen then he dies, if he does then Ashur gains his trust to exploit later.
Ambition Is Evil: Played with — more so than in Season 1. Batiatus' ambition to rise above his station is a sympathetic goal, but the measures he takes to ensure that he does are questionable. Titus, meanwhile, comes across as more than a little cowardly as he remains humble before the villains of the series and refuses to allow Batiatus and Lucretia to take revenge on Tullius for killing Gaia.
Arc Symbol: Wines are a very important plot device this season.
Titus Lentulus Batiatus is well loved by his slaves, something his son Quintus seems envious of.
Lucretia is shown to care about her slaves and only allowed certain things happen to them because of pure social pressure, although she's not above blackmailing Melitta into convincing Oenomaus not to tell anything about the orgy to Titus. But then again, she apologizes later.
Gannicus starts out as a devil-may-care gladiator who loves the arena and enjoys all the perks of victory. The rest of season sees all his joy destroyed, as he receives no credit or standing for seemingly impossible victories, is forced to withstand various humiliations just because he's the best, is used as a pawn in the brutal chess game between Batiatus and Tullius, and his relationship with his only true friends is poisoned. Even the finale, where he receives much-deserved freedom, leaves him adrift, with no idea where he should go or what he should do.
Then there's Diona, who is raped repeatedly until she's on the point of suicide. Naevia helps her escape, but she is soon caught and executed in the arena, in front of her only friend's eyes.
Call Forward: All over the place, including extensive Backstory for even seemingly incidental details such as why Oenomaus doesn't drink wine any more, why Lucretia favours her red wig, and how Ashur got his burn scars and crippled leg.
Lucretia's fascinations with wigs and Oenomaus' dislike for wine are the most blatant examples.
The reason for the gladiators' lack of respect for Ashur is also given emphasis. And in turn, Ashur's hatred towards them.
The anger of Naevia when she delivered the defiant speech to Lucretia near the end of season 1 has been given new weight and meaning, ditto Oenomaus' "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Ashur in that season's finale.
Drunken Song: Gannicus sings a very crude one while celebrating his victories in episode 1. While he's balanced on the edge of a cliff no less. It's the same song the gladiators were singing during the party in "Delicate Things" while Barca was being murdered.
Crixus is frequently lectured on how bad he is against spear-wielding opponents. His very first opponent even taunted him that he'll die at the end of his spear. He later said that the reason for this is he was too young when he was Made a Slave to learn to fight and his entire family met their end at that weapon. Guess what weapon kills him in the final season.
In the season finale, Naevia tearfully watches her friend Diona being executed. Naevia will be killed in the exact same manner in the Grand Finale.
Melitta telling Gannicus that there might be a time that he may fight, if not kill, his beloved friend. Flash forward to Vengeance episode 5...
Happily Married: Oenomaus and Melitta, they're like a benevolent version of Batiatus and Lucretia.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: Naevia and Diona, as well as Ashur and Dagan. Despite being married, Quintus and Lucretia are this to Solonius and Gaia respectively. Towards the end of the season, the other half of each of the female pairs will get killed, while the male pairs will have a nasty fallout.
I Am Not My Father: In the first two episodes, several people have made this comment regarding Batiatus (and he essentially fires Doctore for mentioning it). He feels that his father's patient attitude has held the family fortunes down, and episode three makes it very clear that Batiatus and his father are not on good terms.
Incendiary Exponent: Invoked for the primus in the final episode, which takes place inside a Ring of Fire. Gnaeus cranks it up another notch by setting his net on fire during the battle.
Interplay of Sex and Violence: During the primus, there's a crowd shot with a couple having sex while the battle takes place. Gannicus and Melitta having sex is also juxtaposed with Oenamaus fighting (and killing) the original Doctore.
Jerkass: Vettius. And, of course, sneering, bloodthirsty rapist Cossutius.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Gannicus is extremely cocky, but also really amiable around Oenomaus and Melitta, and later acts surprisingly nice towards Crixus. Auctus is arguably this as well; while he treats the new recruits badly he saves his gentler side to his birds and, of course, Barca.
Karma Houdini: Batiatus - but only within the context of this series, with the events of the first season turning it into Dramatic Irony.
Batiatus: "And one day, we will see proper reward for all we have done!" (scene cuts to him dead on the floor at the end of Blood And Sand)
Vettius and Varus.
Kick the Dog: A Roman man approaches Dagan, who can't speak Latin, and asks if he is interested in having a good time, Ashur and his not so Tactful Translation says Dagan is okay with it and adds that he likes it rough. Later Ashur casually blinds one of his eyes after feigning helplessness while he was taking him down in combat. With A Friend Like This indeed.
Perfect Poison: How Lucretia killed Titus and Melitta, though the latter was an unfortunate accident. Just a sip of the poisoned wine was enough to make them cough blood and die messily. Actually, she has been poisoning Titus for a long time, not exactly to kill him, but to make him sick and leave them alone. We don't know if it is the same poison in a bigger dose or another, stronger, one.
Real Life Writes the Plot: The whole existence of this season is due to the late Andy Whitfield's then undergoing health treatment.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Gannicus (Red) and Oenomaus (Blue), Ashur (Red) and Dagan (Blue), surprisingly, Ashur (Red) and Crixus (Blue), Titus (Blue) and Quintus (Red), Lucretia (Blue) and Gaia (Red), Naevia (Blue) and Diona (Red).
Ring of Fire: The showdown between Batiatus and Good Solonius' gladiators in the final episode.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Batiatus, Gannicus, and Oenomaus go on in the season finale. Ironically what they really what revenge for (the deaths of Titus and Melitta), are the things Tullius isn't guilty of.
Self-Made Orphan: Batiatus considers applying this trope. He ultimately doesn't, but Lucretia takes out Titus anyway.
Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Auctus and Barca. Of course Auctus is only sensitive as a gladiator can possibly be, but his liking of birds shows he's a bit more warmthearted than you would expect from a man who lives to kill.
Start of Darkness: While not exactly moral, five years prior Lucretia seemed to care for her slaves. Ashur was more compassionate even showing grief at having to kill a fellow slave. And while impetuous, Batiatus was at least bothered by some of the actions he took towards forwarding his ambition.
Team Mom: Melitta to the other slave girls, especially Naevia and Diona.
Technician Versus Performer: While the Batiatus father and son acknowledge the importance of both, Titus strongly favors gladiators with skills compared to his son Quintus who strongly favors gladiators who ignite the crowd.
Tournament Arc: Titus ordered his gladiators to compete in order to determine the rankings on his house in episode 5. The Season Finale has the surviving gladiators from the earlier matches compete in the Ring of Fire match in the main event.
This series reveals that Batiatus and Good Solonius, bittier rivals in Blood and Sand who each arrange to murder the other, used to be the best of friends in days past.
Also, Crixus and Ashur. While by no means best friends, they get along very well, and Ashur even shows concern when he believes Crixus is going to die in his fight against Gannicus. Ashur is absolutely shocked when Crixus cripples his leg.
Speaking of Ashur, he and Dagan became this at the end of the prequel.
Inverted with Barca and Crixus, who don't get along well initially due to Crixus killing Barca's lover in his debut in the arena.
With Friends Like These...: Ashur and Dagan are good friends, and Dagan even saves Ashur's life. When Dagan starts receiving more praise as a gladiator, however, a jealous Ashur puts him in a very uncomfortable situation.
Women Are Wiser: Melitta has shown wisdom, kindness and patience like no one else in the series. It is particularly emphasized when she interacts with the irresponsible and boisterous Gannicus and her husband is always seeking her for advice. Lucretia is also more level-headed and cautious than Batiatus and this trope may apply to all the other women with Gaia being an notable exception, but only in the "morally-superior" part though.
The Vamp: Gaia has sex for fun, love, and manipulation.
Played with in episode 8, Glaber takes an arrow to the shoulder, and despite wearing armor is knocked off his feet. He isn't seriously hurt though. The Egyptian completely ignores a dozen arrows sticking out of his chest, arms, and legs; but he seems to just be that tough. However, there is the occasional instant death arrow thrown in the mix.
After Mira offers to teach someone bow skills, Saxa screams (in "German") "This bitch and her fucking arrows!"
Anyone Can Die: Continuing the trend of Blood and Sand, we have Aurelia, Marcus, Rhaskos, Albinius, Lucius, Seppius, Seppia, Varinius, Mira, Ashur, Oenomeus, Glaber, Lucretia, Illithyia and Illithyia's newborn baby.
When the gladiators arrive at the mines, Mira is presented as an "apology" for the slaves arriving late. The lead Roman wastes very little time in trying to rape her. She however will have none of it, and puts a knife on his crotch and demands he tell her where Naevia is. Turns out that was their plan all along.
One of the Rhines attempts this on Naevia. It did not end well.
Bawdy Song: The Gauls, particularly Rhaskos, have one called My Cock Rages On. Rhaskos starts singing it naked at one point, much to the other gladiators' displeasure. This is apparently the only song gladiators ever learn, as it's the same one from Blood and Sand and Gods of the Arena.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Mostly averted in that many characters acquire cuts that become permanent scars. Exceptions include:
By the end of episode 4, after constant running and fighting through the woods Spartacus' and Mira's faces are both stained with blood and mud. It's all gone by the next episode though.
Only three characters in the entire show have ever been bruised: Ilithyia, Naevia, and Pietros. It's worth noting that their bruises come from more "domestic" fights, compared to battles: Ilithyia is hit by her husband, while Naevia and Pietros receive bruises at the hands of their rapists, Ashur and Gnaeus, respectively.
Naevia really stands out here. Despite being shipped from villa to villa to be used as a sex toy by Roman aristocrats, and then having been sent to the mines, she only has a few minor blemishes and otherwise still looks better than most women on their best day.
Bullying a Dragon: In the first episode, three street toughs try this with a side order of blackmail ("We won't tell who you are if you give us Spartacus") on Oenomaus. The guy who they already know was the only man ever to survive against Theokoles, who is in-universe pretty much the second most terrifying man to have ever lived. And they do it armed with one small dagger. It works out pretty much how you would expect for them.
Captain Obvious: Ashur states the Gannicus has made his choice after Gannicus single-handedly slaughters a Roman honor guard, kidnaps Glaber's wife and leaves his rudis impaled in the gladiator Ashur had sent to watch him.
Blood and Sand and Gods of the Arena hinted at this, but Vengeance is proving that this is the way Roman Politics were handled. Nearly everyone in the Roman Upper Class is shown to have a case of this.
Ilithyia accuses Ashur of having this toward Glaber which is probably the one time in the series when he's actually not an example.
Cold-Blooded Torture: A pretty horrific example happens in episode 4 when one of the captured Gauls is selected by the Roman elite as a means of both revenge for the massacre at the end of Blood and Sand, and for their own personal amusement.
Spartacus is not terribly happy with Crixus and the Gauls saving him from Glaber's soldiers. Crixus later states they weren't there to save him, but to stop him from killing Glaber, as the Roman reprisal would be more than they were ready for.
Naevia believing that Crixus died so that she could escape, and knowing how many others died in the attempt, she angrily chastises the rebels for throwing away so much to rescue her. Notably, she chastises Agron, who was the one opposed to the rescue from the start for this very reason. When he tells her this, she says he should have tried harder to talk them out of it.
Creator Cameo: Michael Hurst appears as a Roman soldier in episode 9. He's the one who says, "Praetor, the rebels are in retreat."
Cruel Mercy: In episode 8, Spartacus turns Ilithyia loose into the woods, telling her that Glaber does not love her (which she probably already knew). He even says that it isn't a kindness, as she is now lost without food or water. As with every other instance of this, it backfires.
Death by Disfigurement: Oenomaus loses an eye and is killed in the following episode. Likewise, Varnius and many other Roman soldiers were killed after being hit by the catapult.
Death Seeker: Oenomaus. After the fall of House Batiatus, he begins to fight in The Pit as a means of punishment.
Designated Girl Fight: In a massive brawl between the brotherhood and the new German recruits, of course Mira ends up tangling with the only action girl on the other side. Though it's about as brutal as the other fights.
Died in Your Arms Tonight: Mira presumably dies in Spartacus' arms, though no one knows she's dead until he puts her down. Oenomaus in Gannicus' arms.
A villainous example. Ashur seems to be the embodiment of this trope in his own eyes. He did all of Batiatus' dirty work before AND after he was marked as a member of the Brotherhood. He was the one who rescued Lucretia and nursed her back to health and is alluded to have done countless other favors and deeds for other gladiators. Yet he is still seen as someone who is below standing.
Glaber also once he learns that despite his rank, no one likes or respects him.
Easy Amnesia: Lucretia now remembers nothing of the events of the last few months due to the trauma of what happened at the ludus. Turns out she was lying about that, at least partially. She's certainly remembered by the end of the season.
Lucretia's natural brown hair has now grown through and reflects her now fragile state. Agron's long hair has now been cut completely short to symbolize his allegiance to Spartacus.
Ashur shaves his beard when he becomes a man of influence and power through Glaber, since proper Romans go clean-shaven.
Evil Versus Evil: It is still great fun watching the various Roman characters screw each other over.
Eye Scream: The Egyptian stabs Oenomaus in the eye in episode 9.
Fate Worse than Death: The mines were hinted to be this in Blood and Sand and Gods of the Arena, and Mira certainly believes it to be as well. From what we see, she's right.
Fire-Forged Friends: Spartacus invokes this in Episode 9 by having 2 gladiators/slaves who don't get along fight as a team against another two who don't get along. He hopes this will lead forge a sense of camaraderie between them.
In Episode 5, Spartacus and his forces establish a camp at the base of Mount Vesuvius. Historically, Spartacus' final confrontation with Glaber happens on Vesuvius.
Gannicus witnessed numerous crucifixions throughout the series. Historically, Spartacus' army was punished through this. By the end of the series, this canonical event took place with Gannicus being one of those crucified rebels.
Genius Bonus: Although its possible that the writers did not know, one of the speeches at the arena in episode 5 is one of these. A Roman character says to a Capuan crowd that "Hannibal is at our gates" and then says words to the effect of "but we beat him ultimately". The in-universe audience and the knowledgeable amongst the viewers will know that Capua switched sides and supported Hannibal against Rome and was punished for that, and at the time of the Third Servile War still had a Roman garrison in order to keep the city under Roman thumb.
Heal It With Fire: In episode 4, Nasir has a wound treated this way. It even gets a Call Back to Blood And Sand, when it's mentioned Crixus survived his wounds from Theokoles this way.
Spartacus also tries to do this with Mira, but it's too late.
Heel Face Door Slam: Any possible chance that Aurelia and Spartacus can finally be on good terms is lost when he sends her away to find her son but they are ambushed and she is fatally wounded. With her last words she orders him to keep away from her son.
Historical-Domain Character: In addition to all the returning ones, Varinius. Though historically speaking he shows up a little early, and depending on the source may be a Composite Character of two separate Roman generals who fought Spartacus shortly after Glaber.
Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Marcia, a prostitute Gannicus becomes acquainted with. She gets crucified for talking about the rebellion.
The Hunter Becomes The Hunted: Hunted up the mountain, the rebels finally turn the table and it is Glaber and the Romans in the end who have to defend themselves in the temple
Human Ladder: The Romans stand on each others' shields to storm the temple walls in episode 9.
If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Spartacus' reason for not having Nasir killed, despite the fact that Nasir just tried to kill him. Spartacus claims that he would be just like Glaber if he killed Illithyia.
I Did What I Had to Do: Agron said this almost verbatim after Crixus confronted him about lying about Naevia's status.
Infant Immortality: In the final episode, Lucretia takes this trope and throws it off a cliff. Literally.
In Memoriam: The show honored Andy Whitfield in the credits of the season premiere.
Instant Expert: Mira masters the bow very quickly. Though Lucius does say that she has a natural talent for it. Taken Up to Eleven when later in the same episode, when she shoots an arrow between a dueling Gannicus and Spartacus and hits Chadara in the throat (though it's then immediately subverted when Mira reveals she was aiming to wound).
Shortly after Crixus shows her how to wield a sword, Naevia fights and defeats a gladiator (Ashur).
This is a complicated example, because he was kicking her ass six ways to Sunday until he got distracted taunting Crixus, which is of course a very Ashur thing to do.
"We'll get through this together, as husband and wife."
Spartacus bringing Glaber Ilithyia's ribbon, the same way Glaber brought Spartacus Sura's ribbon.
"Is there nothing left between us?"
"At last (he) learns his place before us; on his knees!"
"We are friends, are we not?" "The very best." This gets echoed twice in Vengeance, but was originally said in Blood and Sand.
Lucretia dropping her red wig from the balcony was reminiscent of the way Gaia's body (she often wore a red wig) was disposed of in the prequel.
The last match of the opening of the arena has the Ring of Fire showdown. The last day of the arena shows i\the arena itself being surrounded by fire. Both also has Gannicus in it. Furthermore, Spartacus' first arrived in the arena as a Condemned Contestant, now he is the rescuer of his friends who is slated to this fate.
In episode 5, while Spartacus and Agron enter the arena as part of a rescue, Mira and a team of gladiators set fire to the arena's foundations causing it to burn and collapse.
In episode 9, Glaber's forces catapult flaming debris at the rebels' base. Crixus shoves Varinius in the way of one and he is incinerated.
Knife Nut: Mira, before becoming Archer. Also, the Egyptian.
Large Ham: Glaber. A fairly unremarkable villain in season one with very little screentime, in season three he seeks to make up for Batiatus' absence by letting his inner ham free at last.
Last Stand: Episode 4. Subverted. Spartacus and Mira, who refuses to abandon him, prepare to make one against an approaching army. But it turns out the forces approaching are their own.
Leeroy Jenkins: What Marcus turns out to be. A few gladiators act like this Wrath of the Gods, and get Mira killed. Needless to say, Spartacus is pissed.
The Lost Lenore: Batiatus for Lucretia. and it looks like as of Season 3 Spartacus will have not one but two, given how Mira exited the show.
Love Is a Weakness: Ashur mockingly points out how love has led to ruin for Gannicus, Crixus, and Oenomaus. Gannicus later laments this as well. Ironically he meets his downfall for trying to wed Lucretia.
Mad Oracle: Lucretia. Turns out that she doesn't really think that she's an oracle, but is at least a little insane.
Mook Lieutenant: Marcus. Unfortunately he is also a Leeroy Jenkins and dies for it by Ashur's hand. He is then replaced by Salvius (another Roman officer), while Ashur gets promoted to The Dragon.
The Needs of the Many: Agron's justification for lying about Naevia. Spartacus admits that it is a lie for the greater good—and then immediately states that, if they discard the needs of the few/one, they're just as bad as the Romans.
Neck Snap: The Egyptian does this to a random brothel patron, his head doing a full 180.
Oh Crap: Ilithyia gets two in one episode; first when she finds out she has to return to Capua and second when she finds Lucretia still alive in the Ludus.
Spartacus gets a rare one when Aurelia's dying and beaten body is dragged out in front of the market by Glaber's soldiers. Having previously thought she was safely on her way to finding her son.
Ominous Latin Chanting: During the climax of the final episode (fittingly, reprised from the final battle in Gods of the Arena).
Only Sane Man: Mira. Spartacus wants revenge, Agron wants to fight, and Crixus wants to find Naevia. She seems to be the only main character who simply wants to get out of dodge and start a new life while they still can.
Subverted as the season progresses. She's now just as deep as the rest of the Rebels and is usually the only female that goes with the group into battle. Though she typically remains the most level headed.
Gannicus could be considered this, since he seems to be only one who realises it's a lost cause trying to take down the Romans.
Red Shirt: Lucretia gets to decide which captive gladiator gets to be tortured to death. Among her choices were Crixus, Oenomaus, Rhaskos, and a guy we've never seen or heard from before this episode. Guess who she picks.
Remember the New Guy: Several gladiators introduced here weren't even present as background characters in Blood and Sand.
While their lack of watchfulness merely amuses Mira and she sends them away to have fun in bed and so she can go strangle someone.
Shoot the Messenger: After Ashur's terms of surrender are rejected he attempts to leave to deliver their response, only for Crixus (who's pissed about what Ashur did to Naevia) to point out that Ashur's head will be suitable response. Spartacus agrees.
Slow Clap: Lugo initiates a particularly cool one with his sword and shield in episode seven, as a sign that he and the other Rhines will follow Spartacus.
Spotting the Thread: While the rebels are hiding at a villa they've liberated, a Roman scouting party arrives and Spartacus sends the body slave, Nasir, to greet them. It seems to go well and the soldiers get ready to leave, until Nasir offers the scouts inside for refreshment, seemingly betraying them. After the rebels kill the Romans, Nasir explains that the squad leader noticed that he was not wearing his slave collar, and had he left, they would have returned with more men.
Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Several times. Surprisingly, it also applies for the villains, as throwing an axe earns Salvius the honour of being the only Roman legionary to kill one of the main characters.
Glaber's Jerkassitude gets turned Up to Eleven this season. It's hard to not feel sorry for Seppius as he dies knowing his sister is at the mercy of the man who slaughtered everyone in their household.
Ashur from an opportunistic traitor to a sadistic rapist and cutthroat.
The entire upper-class of Capua/Rome seems to have a minor degree in this. Driven home with Glaber as his execution of choice is crucifixion.
Ashur tries his hand at this to break Oenomaus and get information about Spartacus' whereabouts. While he proves a brutal physical torturer, it's ultimately his calm, smug delivery of psychological torture that breaks Oenomaus' silence.
"Libertus." Spartacus and the rebels burn down the Capua arena, resulting in the deaths of hundreds. Glaber uses the incident to kill Senator Albinius, thus sealing Ilithyia's marriage to him and ruining any chance of her divorcing him to be with Varinius.
"Wrath of the Gods." Naevia chops off Ashur's head as revenge for everything he did to her, Spartacus and the rebels kill Glaber and slay his army, but at the cost of Oenomaus and Mira, and Ilithyia dies shortly after Lucretia gives her a Traumatic C-Section, and then throws herself and the baby off a cliff.
From episode 5: Varnius announcing the legendary gladiator who will execute Oenomaus, Crixus and Rhaskos in the arena.
"The only gladiator from this bare city to ever earn his freedom upon the sands! A true God of the Arena! I give you... Gannicus!"
Wham Shot: Glaber revealing a bloody and beaten Aurelia as another "sign of blessing from the gods".
What Measure Is a Non-Badass?: In-universe example. The gladiators, mostly the Gauls, are initially contemptuous of any slave who isn't a gladiator. Mira is initially only tolerated because she's sleeping with Spartacus, she only gains their respect once she Takes A Level In Badass and becomes a warrior.
What the Hell, Hero?: Mira and the others give one to Spartacus for letting his desire for revenge against Glaber blind him.
Agron dismisses Naevia as just one life and insignificant. Spartacus calls him out and rightfully points out that Agron wouldn't feel that way if Duro was in Naevia's place.
Spartacus gives one to the Rhines (Agron's kinsmen) after they promptly act like the worst house guests ever.
Spartacus again chews out a few of his gladiators for trying to leave the mountain in a way doomed to fail, which gets Mira killed.
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: A rare example that is perfectly justified in the narrative. When Ashur fights Naevia, he disables her with every blow but repeatedly allows her to recover and come at him again, and when he finally has her on her knees he spends so long gloating that she has time to castrate him with her reclaimed sword and succeeds in killing him. This seems like a remarkably poor strategy, if you don't consider that
Ashur will be killed by the other gladiators the second Naevia quits insisting that he's hers to deal with
Every second the fight drags on serves as torture for Crixus, whose actions essentially set Ashur on this path.
Worst Aid: In episode 10, Spartacus takes the axe out of Mira's chest before carrying her up the mountain, leading her to bleed to death before they can help her. Though, she was unlikely to live anyway.
Wrestler in All of Us: Episode five features several gladiator matches where the gladiators drop their weapons and end up grappling on the ground in styles very reminiscent of MMA.
You Have Failed Me: Glaber nearly has Ashur executed for failing to capture Spartacus and getting Marcus killed before Lucretia saves him.
Attack! Attack! Attack!: The Roman mooks' answer to every situation. Often the men who charge the rebels don't have shields while their buddies in formation do, giving the slightly amusing impression that they threw them away as they rushed forward.
Anyone Can Die: Continuing the tradition. It'd be easier to list the characters that live. Crassus, Caesar, and Pompey obviously, Agron, Nasir, Laeta, Sibyl, and bit characters Belesa, the unnamed mother with her baby, and the Veteran Gladiator.
The Bad Guys Win: Zig-Zagged — Crassus does defeat Spartacus's army, but is defeated by Spartacus in personal combat only to be saved by his men who deal a mortal wound to Spartacus instead, and then Spartacus escapes him yet again, then the defeat of Spartacus's army is credited to Pompey a character who only appears in the show for one brief scene.
Bawdy Song: In episode 8, there is a party the night before Crixus and his group leave on their own mission. Several gladiators can be heard singing (what else?) "My Cock Rages On." Perhaps proving once and for all that is really is the only song they know.
Better to Die than Be Killed: In episode 6, Gannicus advises Sibyl to due this if the Romans are about to capture her, but it proves unnecessary. Later, Donar does this, denying Cesear the honor of killing him, and overall spoiling the Roman's party.
The red serpent from Sura's dream, way back in the pilot episode, shows up on another shield in the finale. Spartacus notices, and comments on it. Ultimately, the red serpent shield is laid on top of Spartacus' grave.
Chronologically, Crixus first appeared in the series sporting long hair and Badass Beard.
Meta example: The first and last actor shown in the series is the late Andy Whitfield.
Bury Your Gays: Averted as Agron and Nasir are among the only ex-slaves left alive to escape from the Roman legions to the mountains to live in peace at the end after the final battle.
The Butcher: Pompey is regularly referred to as "The Butcher."
Call Back: Crixus and Agron reference Oenamaus' "what is beneath your feet?" line during a Rousing Speech in Separate Paths.
Call That A Formation: Oh how the Romans are guilty of this. A particularly hilarious case is when the leader in a Roman convoy barks "Keep formation!" and then they all immediately break it, literally two seconds later, when some rebels leap out in ambush.
Another egregious example: Arrius' legion in Separate Paths, some of whom respond to the slave ambush by counter-charging (but not even the whole legion - some Romans hold formation while others rush forward!). The iron Roman discipline that Spartacus sometimes talks about is very much an Informed Ability this season.
The craziest part is that when the Romans do keep formation (such as the retaking of Sinuessa, and the final battle) they tend to win!
And again in Blood Brothers, with Crixus arriving to save Spartacus at the docks, and the Roman legions smashing through the city gate to rescue a cornered Caesar.
Once more in Separate Paths for the Romans. Crixus has just defeated the final legion standing between the rebels and Rome when the horns blare and all of Crassus' legions appear behind them. Also counts as an Oh Crap moment for the rebels.
Tiberius' sword is the Arc Symbol for Crixus and Naevia's story arc. Ultimately, both of them are killed by that very sword.
In an early scene of Blood Brothers you can see stone-smiths carving the shape of a beast onto a stone. Then, at the final scene of the episode, that stone carving appears as the ram used to break the wooden gate of the city.
Subverted with Sicily; In Blood and Sand, Varro talks of moving to Sicily with his wife once he gains his freedom, describing it as "an island blessed by the gods'', and inviting Spartacus to visit him there once Spartacus himself is free. Genre savvy and historically informed viewers might have guessed this would be where Spartacus got the idea of fleeing to Sicily from towards the end of the war. However, with the show's artistic license, that never happens; Spartacus' intentions towards Sicily occur earlier in the show and with an entirely different purpose than in history, and Varro's lines are ultimately forgotten.
In Vengeance Spartacus expressed a desire to free all the slaves in the mines, and when convinced they could not do it now swore to return and do it later. Early this season it's mentioned that his ranks were bolstered when he did free all the slaves in the mines.
Spartacus dons his bringer of rain outfit once again in The Dead and the Dying.
Cool, but Inefficient: In Victory, Nasir hammers a blade through a shield so Agron can fight despite his crippled hands. Not a particularly good idea for a weapon, but Agron is Bad Ass enough to make it work effectively.
Dark Reprise: Sura's theme is reprised on melancholy strings towards the end of Victory.
The Dead Have Names: At Crixus' funeral, the gladiators call out the names of their deceased friends and allies. Impressively, just about every significant deceased character is mentioned.
Decomposite Character: Agron and Castus were both based from the German rebel leader Castus. The former took all the historical rebel leader's role and characterizations sans name, which is the only thing the latter got, as well as his tragic fate. The former was ultimately Spared by the Adaptation.
Castus was historically the German general of Spartacus' rebellion. Here he's a guy who's seems to be causing problems to the Nagron ship. Granted, this demotion may be because Agron was already given his supposed role and characterization for much of the series. The show-runners milked those two's interactions for what it's worth.
Arrius was historically the one who defeatedCrixus. Here, he is portrayed as an Elite MookGeneral Ripper whom the latter killed instead.
Like Arrius, Commander Rufus was historically part of the forces that defeated, if not killed, Gannicus and Castus (Agron). Here, he is Crassus' Mook Lieutenant.
Dies Wide Open: Crixus, Saxa, Castus and Spartacus, though Agron closed his friend's eyes after his death.
In "Spoils of War", Gannicus disguises himself as Heracleo to pass through the Romans. Caesar sees through it. Not that it does much good.
Again in "The Dead and Dying." Two of Spartacus' men disguise themselves as envoys of Pompey. Caesar again sees right through but pretends not to in order to send Tiberius into a trap. When Crassus later demands why Caesar didn't recognize them, he protests he can't be expected to recognize the face of every rebel.
Due to the Dead: Crixus's remains are cremated, and the rebels remember their fallen allies before shouting the name Crixus repeatedly.
Entertainingly Wrong: A meta example - episodes 4 and 5 seem to be setting up the historical split between Spartacus and Crixus, only to reveal it as a Batman Gambit by Spartacus to deceive the Romans, with him and Crixus reconciling at the end. For now.
Even Evil Has Standards: Caesar is appalled by the state of a woman the rebels have been gang-raping, his Mercy Kill also leaves him shaken. However later on he seems to have no problems with condemning Laeta to a similar fate with the Cilician pirates.
Evolving Credits: The ending credits change as new characters drop in and old ones are killed. The finale has a roll call of all the major characters from all four seasons, with characters grouped appropriately (the villains together, Spartacus' lovers together, the Gauls, the leaders) ending with a tribute to the late Andy Whitfield with him shouting “I AM SPARTACUS!”
Failed a Spot Check: In "Separate Paths", the rebels fail to spot all of Crassus' legions assembling right behind them.
Every gambit the rebels pull in the final battle, while undeniably cool, relies on the Romans doing this (e.g neither seeing nor hearing the rebels digging a spiked pit, or circling half their army round their rear, when both armies are deployed on a flat, open plain).
As in previous seasons, it is only the main characters that get anything done in a fight; this starts to look strange in the big, sprawling battles (for example Separate Paths, where Crixus, Agron and Naevia end up fighting Crassus, Caesar and Tiberius).
Caesar even lampshades this trope in Spoils of War, wondering aloud if he has to kill every rebel in Sinuessa himself.
Pompey is again mentioned as having returned from his war in Hispania. Just in time to show up for Spartacus's final battle.
Caesar ordering Tiberius to give him Oysters in Spoils of War may appear as a Mythology Gag to Film/Spartacus, but if you know what "Oysters" really means note It alludes to bisexuality , this foreshadows Caesar's unpleasant fate in Separate Paths.
Forgotten Fallen Friends: Unfortunately, some notable deceased characters weren't honored in the Dead and the Dying, namely; Lucuis Caelius, Aurelia, Melitta, Diona, Ulpius, Pietros and Attius. The first two being part of the rebellion itself, while the rest's deaths were directly or indirectly caused by the Romans or/and their allies.
Once again, the main female characters play this to perfection.
Naevia = Choleric
Saxa = Sanguine
Laeta = Leukine
Kore = Melancholic
Sibyl = Phlegmatic
The four named rebels who survived.
Agron = Melancholic
Nasir = Leukine
Laeta = Choleric
Sibyl = Phlegmatic
Freudian Excuse: For all the horrible things the rebels do over the course of the war, they have the excuse of having been torn from their homelands, or born into slavery, and suffering under their masters for years. At best, this means constantly feeling powerless and helpless, knowing that your live and die at the whims of someone else. At worst, this means years of physical and often sexual abuse. The Romans have no such excuses for their cruelty.
General Failure: Arrius in "Separate Paths." Assuming he didn't Fail A Spot Check, he forms up to meet Crixus in the bottom of a valley when there is a perfectly good defensive slope right behind him (granted, Crixus does specifically call him a fool, and Caesar doesn't have much faith in him either).note This is actually a bit of a disservice to the historical Arrius, who was part of the force that defeated Crixus
Grey and Gray Morality: Some Romans are shown as perfectly decent, innocent people caught in the war. Likewise, some rebels are shown as psychotic murderers.
He Who Fights Monsters: A number of the rebels are showing signs of this, as seen when they slaughter innocent civillians including children. Spartacus wants them to be better than the Romans, but is unable to keep them in line. Gannicus is aware of what they are becoming, but seems to have resigned himself to the inevitability of it.
Heroic Sacrifice: In the finale. The rebels realize they cannot win, so they all prepare to fight and die to allow the noncombatants to escape.
Hollywood Tactics: All over the place thanks to Rule of Cool, but particularly notable for the Romans, who tend to devolve into Onrushing Army more often than not (then again, it usually does get them killed). Also (possibly due to Small Reference Pools) the only alternate formation they ever use is testudonote historically testudo was used against missiles, and while the Romans did have a defence formation, orbem formate, it was more of a circle.
I Am Spartacus: Variation: this is done at the beginning of the series finale by several of the rebels in order to trick Crassus and Pompey as to Spartacus' true location. Crassus doesn't buy it for a minute.
Right at the end of the credits of the last episode the late Andy Whitfield reminds us all that He is Spartacus.
Made a Slave: In "Spoils of War", Crassus sells Laeta to Heracleo in exchange for his help. Laeta is branded on the arm before Gannicus and Sibyl save her. This the the motivation for Laeta to join the Rebels.
In "Wolves At The Gate", a slave is sentenced to be stoned to death. Unable to save him, Spartacus instead throws a stone hard enough to kill him instantly to end his suffering.
In "Decimation", Caeser does this to a woman who has been raped so many times that she's lost the will to live. He's deeply shaken up about it.
Mook Lieutenant: Rufus, one of Crassus' tribunes. He's mostly seen being given orders. He also saves Caesar's life from Gannicus in "Spoils of War." In the finale, he saves Crassus from Spartacus, and is the last Roman to stand against Spartacus before the two leaders clash.
Morton's Fork: Crassus commands his gladiator instructor to fight holding nothing back, to actively try to kill him. Hilarus replies that that is a death order. If Crassus wins it will be done by killing him, but if he kills Crassus he will be executed for it. To settle matters, Crassus has his son swear to pay Hilarus and set him free if he does win.
My God, What Have I Done?: Spartacus has this look at the end of "Wolves At The Gate", when his army sacks a city and he finds the little Roman girl and her mother that he befriended earlier among the dead.
Noodle Incident: In "Enemies of Rome", Sanus, one of Gannicus's friends, talks about a time Gannicus peed on some defeated Romans. Gannicus defends himself by saying he was really drunk when that happened.
There are numerous instances of the freed slaves being compared to Romans in the atrocity department. There are also a few episodes of slaves forcing Romans to fight in gladiatorial fashion for their amusement. This was true to one account of history.
When some townspeople were forced to fight for bread, Nasir and Gannicus at least looked disapproving. When Roman soldiers were made to fight the remaining gladiators after Crixus's death, not a single character had a problem, but the slaves screaming in the stands were shot in exactly the same manner as Roman spectators to the games.
Crassus also notes the similarity between himself and Spartacus: they are both fighting for what they believe in.
Pay Evil unto Evil: How the rebels justify their treatment of the Romans. Unfortunately, years of torture and abuse have left many of them incapable of seeing any Roman as anything but evil.
Pyrrhic Victory: Crassus did defeat Spartacus' army, but Pompey stole his credit.
Pirates: Heracleo leads a group of them. Steven DeKnight admits they were mostly included due to Rule of Cool, but points out historically Spartacus did ally with pirates at one point.
Poor Communication Kills: In "Blood Brothers", Spartacus doesn't tell Crixus and Nemetes his plan, which nearly leads to a disaster. Then it turns out he was counting on this, in an effort to mislead the Romans about his true plan.
Reality Ensues: For all their ferocity and ingenuity, the rebellion is overwhelmed by sheer numbers.
Right in Front of Me: Diotomos talks to Spartacus about how horrible the conditions in the rebel camp are, namely the lack of food and warm clothing. He also laments that Spartacus hasn't thought of any of these things. It initially appears that he does know he's addressing Spartacus and simply using Brutal Honesty, before it turns out he doesn't. He's initially worried, but Spartacus merely thanks him for pointing out the problems.
Sequel Hook: The last-minute introduction of Pompey, Crassus' plans to form a triumverate, and Caesar's impatience to eschew long-running schemes and seize glory. In an interview, the creators mentioned the possibility of a future spin-off.
Shout-Out: To Braveheart in the final episode, in what is either a deliberate homage or a blatant rip off (to wit, the hero repeatedly shouts at his men to "Hold!" in the face of an Onrushing Army, causing them to impale themselves, and then the enemy general invokes We Have Reserves).
Snow Means Death: The seventh episode Mors Indecepta deals with a snow storm that killed thousands of people.
Tag Team: In Victory, one scene shows the Romans rotating their front ranksnote This might be a Shout-Out to the series Rome, where the legionaries did the same, although it is unlikely that the real Romans did this in the middle of hand-to-hand combat.
That's What I Would Do: Crassus sends a messenger to Roman commanders promising aid. However, he sends him on a trail near Spartacus' camp. Spartacus kills the messenger, and uses it to track down and kill the other Roman commanders. When his son asks how he knew Spartacus would attack and not run, Crassus responds with this.
Trojan Horse: In "Blood Brothers", Heracleo reveals his ship is full of Roman soldiers, who leap out and attack.
Unspoken Plan Guarantee: In "Blood Brothers," Spartacus reveals to Crixus that he's been running a Batman Gambit on him, and proceeds to lay out the rather brilliant plan that he's set in motion to defeat Crassus. Unfortunately, he's Out-Gambitted.
We Have Reserves: In a style similar to the Trope Namer, during the final battle Crassus orders his catapults and ballistae to fire into the fighting masses as some of the shots will hit the rebels. Since the gladiators are worth about fifty men each in this story, it actually makes tactical sense.
"Decimation". Since Spartacus is actually trying to keep standards in a rebellion, most of his army goes insane under Crixus's lead while Naevia, who jumps off the Moral Event Horizon this episode, eggs him on to overthrow Spartacus at the end of the episode.
"Separate Paths". Crixus leaves with the part of the Rebels loyal to him and they attempt to attack Rome. They fail and Crixus is executed.
The series finale is one wham after the other.
Worthy Opponent: Defied by Donar. When Caesar tells him, "well fought, brother" before striking the death blow, he responds, "Swallow cock, you Roman shit." Before stabbing himself clean through the skull.
Written by the Winners: Crassus notes that as both Spartacus and he consider themselves the hero, only history will decide who it is. Defied in the final scene, however, as the surviving rebels insist that Spartacus will be remembered as the hero long after Rome fades.
You Have Failed Me: Crassus decides to use the long abandoned practice of decimation in "Decimation" to punish and discipline his troops. One soldier in ten is executed by the others.