Series: The Almighty Johnsons

The Almighty Johnsons is a 2011 New Zealand Urban Fantasy Dramedy about a family of four Kiwi brothers and their Cloud Cuckoolander cousin—who all happen to be incarnations of Norse gods.

The story revolves around Axl Johnson (Emmett Couling Skilton), a typical university student who has just turned 21 years old—an event which triggers weird signs all over Auckland. Upon turning 21, his brothers tell him that he and his brothers are reincarnated Norse Gods, although their powers have diminished over the years. It took a lightning bolt to make him realize the truth about his godhood, and he discovers that he is the physical incarnation of the god Odin. After a rival goddess shoots an arrow which nearly pierces his heart, fulfilling the prophecy that proves he is Odin, his older brother Mike (Timothy Balme) tells him about his quest: In order to get all their powers back, Axl (Odin) has to find his soulmate, Frigg, and seal the deal. If he doesn't find her before he dies, his whole family dies with him. However, several goddesses have united to prevent him from finding Frigg, including the one who tried to kill him earlier.

The quest involves several Red Herrings, including a netballer, a librarian, a homely daughter to a god, and even a goddess. Although the show centers around Axl's quest, it also gives character development to the other brothers, especially Ty and Mike, who refuses to use his god powers because of an incident which left his best friend in a coma.

Created by South Pacific Pictures, the makers of the long-running soap opera Shortland Street hit show Outrageous Fortune, with the assistance of New Zealand on Air, The Almighty Johnsons is the latest product of star writers like James Griffin and Rachel Lang. Originally intended for one season, the first season's success led to the airing of a second season and a scheduled third season, which began filming on 14 January 2013. Many established Kiwi actors have participated in the show, most notably Keisha Castle-Hughes as Axl's flatmate and Ship Tease Gaia, and Timothy Balme (Mike).

Has a Character Sheet in progress.

Tropes:

  • Arc Words:
  • All Myths Are True: The introduction of the Maori Gods in season two hints that other Gods may still exist as well.
  • The Atoner: Mike/Ullr caused his best friend to enter a coma during a barfight years before the show began.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension:
    • Anders/Bragi and Michele/Sjfn
    • Anders and Gaia sincerely don't like each other, and don't want to be together. It doesn't change the fact that they are soul mates. Their attraction is irresistible but so repugnant to both that she actually leaves the country—and the person she actually wants to marry—to escape it.
  • The Berserker: Derrick/Thor. Olaf describes Thor as being "barking mad." It shows.
    • Berserk Button: Do NOT call him Derrick or tell him that he's mad. He doesn't take it very well.
  • Big Bad: Agnetha/Frejya
    • Clearly overruled in the late first season/second season by Colin/Loki
  • Bi the Way: Michele/Sjfn. Can be expected from a goddess of love.
  • Bowdlerize: The American version on Syfy bleeps out swear words and covers over nudity
  • Brought Down to Normal: While Axl is seriously ill in "Man-Flu", everybody's god powers stop working. The powers return when Axl recovers.
    • Once Odin and Frigg are reunited, the spirits of all the Norse gods leave their hosts and return to Asgard, leaving the Johnsons and everyone else mortal again.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Colin obviously embraces his role as the god of mischief and lies, and enjoys the hell out of it. He wears nothing but red and black suits, interferes with Axl's quest despite it serving no interest of his, and delivers every line like he's got a stage audience.
  • The Casanova: Anders to a T.
  • Call Back:
    • The first season ends with Mike and Axl playing Rock, Paper, Scissors. Something Mike did in the first episode to prove to Axl that he was a God. This is repeated in the series finale.
    • Hey! That girl in the bridal shop looks familiar...
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In the first episode, the boys' mother was revealed to be the incarnation of Frejya. At the beginning on the last episode, the Big Bad Agnetha is revealed to be Frejya.
    • Another one is Tyr. Mentioned in passing by Thor, who met him in jail. When we find out that Gaia is Tyr's daughter, it's revealed that Tyr and Gaia's mother were drug dealers/makers, hence why he spent time in jail.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: We see a split second cut of Anders mid-coitus with an extremely tall woman in Norway. It's implied by Anders' exposition that she's a giant, like Bryn. Later the gang discovers she was very much human, a virgin, a member of the Christian cult that wants to exterminate the Norse gods, and very, very upset about being tricked into bed. It's her story that galvanizes the cult to bring their fight to New Zealand.
  • Church Militant / The Hunter: Natalie works for an organisation that wants to kill the Gods earthly forms since it goes against their belief of there only being one God.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Axl, Zeb, and Olaf show tendencies of this.
  • Combo Platter Powers: Rather unavoidable, since the original myths gave the gods dominion over areas either extremely broad (winning stuff!), apparently unrelated (love and...apples?), or overlapping (there are three love goddesses just on the show).
  • Compelling Voice: Anders/Bragi usually uses it for seduction.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Mike knows that sooner or later Colin/Loki will try to enact revenge for Mike besting him so Mike takes out copious amounts of fire insurance.
  • Disappeared Dad: Joe Johnson/Njord. He ran out on the family when Axl was a toddler. He shows up in season three, having being 'pulled' back to Auckland once Axl becomes Odin.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Michelle's reaction to Mike breaking up with her, and then sleeping with Hanna/Frigg? To break into Hanna's house and stab her with a kitchen knife. She doesn't succeed on account of Martin/Heimdall coming in and breaking a hammer over her head.
  • Divine Ranks: A major theme of the show. Odin's ascendancy over all the gods makes him the keystone for getting their full powers back. It also creates drama in other ways:
    • Michele's primary character trait is an inferiority complex about being a "minor" goddess.
    • Though the other characters try hard to ignore it, major gods—like Hod, Hel, and especially Loki—are operating on a whole 'nother plane of power. Olaf emphatically and bluntly tells Mike to give up his feud with Loki, because they are simply not a match for the god of fire.
    • Freya is naturally and immediately the leader of the goddesses, and her domain of "prosperity" gives her a lot of resources to lead with.
    • Eva is such a fount of power she sends the other goddesses into a kind of seizure when they first meet her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ty is this in spades.
  • Domestic Abuse: Joe/Njord beat his wife, and Ty/Hod resents the hell out of him for it. In a later episode, Joe expresses regret...then in the same breath implies the abuse was mutual, and that to a certain extent they both enjoyed it.
  • Do Not Call Me Derrick: It's Thor, thank you very much!
  • Double Entendre: Just look at the title. C'mon, you were thinking about it, too.
  • Drunk with Power: The reason why Mike is so hesitant to use his powers when it comes to financial gain, i.e gambling, card games etc. After a while, he doesn't know when to quit, becomes cocky and is generally a Jerk Ass, even when there is a serious risk of someone getting hurt.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    • Said almost verbatim by Axl/Odin on a couple of occasions.
    • Olaf and Ingrid are not seen as particularly competent oracles. While it's true that their visions of the future bounce between useless to nonexistent, their knowledge of the past and the present is invaluable. Everyone seems to forget that these two are the ones who interpret the signs and determine the identities of all the gods and monsters they run into.
    Olaf: Being an oracle isn't an exact science!
    Ingrid: No, it's not, and what happens when we do get it right? Do we get any thanks? No!
  • Foreshadowing: Quite a bit throughout the series.
    • In season 1, Gaia's dad Bryn says to Axl that he will "grind his bones into fertiliser". Season 2 reveals that Bryn is a giant.
    • In the season 2 opener, Anders is seen looking at a drawing of a tree, episode 8 reveals he was looking for Yggdrasil, the World Tree
    • Also in season 2, the door to Mike's bar always being unlocked is revealed to be caused by Kvasir, who lives in the bar and is keeping an eye on the Johnson brothers.
    • Axl's genderbent episode in season two becomes this when Frigg is revealed to be the very same woman he turned into.
    • In season one, Olaf tells Ty that if Helen/Idunn ever meets Anders/Braggi, it will end badly for her. In season two, Helen is killed by Natalie not long after she meets Anders. The new Idunn, Gaia, ends up leaving the country in season three when it's clear that she is literally powerless to resist Anders and avoid hurting Axl, the man she really loves.
    • Subverted with Gaia. All signs—including the true, deep love between her and Axl—say she's the Frigg. She would have been!—had Idunn not died moments before her goddess-ing ceremony, and "jumped the queue".
  • Fanservice: With the sex scenes and the scenes of people hanging around in the nude or in their underwear, there's plenty of fanservice for everyone.
  • Five-Man Band
    • The Leader: Axl/Odin - He's the All-Father. And while he's still growing up, it is his moral compass and vision that direct the larger actions of the gang.
    • The Lancer: Mike/Ullr - Mike is mature where Axl is young, experienced where Axl is not, responsible where Axl is careless, considered where Axl is impulsive, and very much in charge when Axl is absent...and sometimes when he's not.
    • The Smart Guy: Anders/Braggi - by far the shortest, and least physically intimidating of the brothers, not much of leader, morally questionable—and yet a lot of Anders' dialogue consists of "stay here," "let me handle this," or "I have a plan."
    • The Big Guy: Ty/Hod - despite how Ty feels about his assigned god, he is the most powerful of the brothers, and his ice power is actually the only one useful for offensive battle, as opposed to the other brother's passive powers of talking, winning, finding stuff, and occasionally seeing the future.
    • The Chick - Olaf/Baldr is a gentle and compassionate soul, especially compared to his grandsons.
  • Fragile Flower: Delphine. She cries after Axl gets annoyed at her for calling him "my lord" and again after Axl mentions that he has a problem with hooking up with someone who is already six weeks pregnant.
  • Freak Out: Mike completely loses his temper when Ty brings Dawn to the bar and announces that she knows the secret and that they're back together. His outburst shocks even Olaf.
  • Freudian Excuse: Since the gods are all one big messed-up family, there are many examples.
    • Eva's father Loki didn't just neglect to tell her she would be a god, he often actively screwed with her mind, just for fun, apparently.
    • When Michele goes on a brief rant calling her mother a self-absorbed, social climbing narcissist with an inferiority complex about being only a minor goddess, it becomes painfully obvious where Michele got those same traits, and that she's oblivious to the irony.
    • All the Johnson brothers were abandoned by their father—who simply disappeared without explanation, then their mother—who waited long enough for Mike to become Ullr before walking off into the woods to be a tree for a little while, leaving Mike to raise his three younger brothers.
  • The Gambling Addict: Mike is an interesting case since his problem is that he cannot stop himself from winning when he gambles. He also becomes very arrogant and cocky which pisses people off even more than him just taking their money. It also seems that he subconsciously picks opponents who are are able and quite willing to hurt him physically (eg bikers or ex-convicts) since that is a 'game' he can lose.
  • Gender Bender:
    • Axl, in one episode from season 2.
    • When Colin mocks Axl for turning into a woman, Olaf rightly points out that Loki himself has been known to swap genders.
    "Not THIS Loki!"
  • A God Am I: Thor seems to have this attitude.
  • The Heart: Gaia, to Axl and Zeb.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Gaia had to point this out to her father several times about Axl.
  • He's Back: Ty shows Colin that he's become Hod again by extinguishing his fires and using his ice powers to break his arm.
    Ty: Who are you calling 'mortal'?'
  • Heroic BSOD: Axl in season three, especially after Gaia leaves.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Ty, in the last episode of Season 1, who ends up marrying Eva/Hel, thus fulfilling his destiny as a god so that Mike can remain alive.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Zeb and Axl are shown to have been this from their teen years to the foreseeable future at the end of season 3.
  • Hidden Depths: Thor seems like a reactionary brute always on the verge of exploding into violence—because he is—but his actions "Typical Aukland God" show what a sentimental love he harbors for his late wife, how painfully he feels the absence of his grown daughter, how ashamed he is of his failing farm, and possibly most surprising he reveals he has a tenor to put Pavarotti to shame.
  • Honor Before Reason: Mike occasionally displays this trait, such as when one of his contractors messed up a roof and he agreed to put the man's family up while he fixed it himself at no charge...when he had no money to do so.
  • An Ice Person: Ty/Hod. He even works as a refrigerator repairman.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode is named after a quote from that episode.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Ty, achieved by the end of season 2 and then again by the end of season 3.
  • Immune to Drugs: Axl. For about the span of one episode...
  • Insistent Terminology: It's not a coma! Referring to "Coma Rob", who is actually in a persistent vegetative state. But they still call him "Coma Rob."
  • Instant Expert: Mike. Whenever he plays a game, he wins.
    • It has to be a game he personally participates in, however. He's as unlucky at betting on horse races as the rest of us.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Probably the best way to describe Eva and Ty's marriage.
  • Jerkass: Anders, in spades. Colin/Loki as well
  • Jerk Ass Gods: Many of the problems come from the characters being self-centered, looking down on regular humans and abusing their abilities. Both the gods and goddesses sadly share this despite calling it out on each other.
    • The gods range from the casually selfishness of Olaf's frequent disappearances and abandonment of others, to the abuse of abilitie by the likes of Anders to compel others and destroy relationships regardless of the consequences to Colin/Loki getting a sadistic glee in trolling others.
    • The goddess have Agnetha who looks down on her fellow goddesses and abandoned her family, Michele's abuse of her own abilities to the more outright insanity of Eva.
    • A few gods on each side tend to be the exceptions. Axl holds himself to a higher standard and tries to use his position as Odin to fix some of the damage. Tyr is one of the nicest guyes on the show. Ingrid and Stacy can be more friendly when not having their spirits crushed by the others. Most of the more independent goddesses are nicer since they have not been expose to the whole mess. However, even the best have their moments.
  • Loophole Abuse: From both sides in season 1, the marriage contract never states that Eva is the Frigg, but it also does not state which brother has to get married.
    • In Season 3, Episode 8, Mike tricks Colin into entering a "game" where he has the advantage. Mike proceeds to deliver Colin a Curb-Stomp Battle.
    • Again in season 3, Mike tries this tactic against Martin/Heimdallr to reveal where the Frigg is. Martin manages to avoid these tricks until Mike brings Ty whilst playing Follow the Leader
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Anders mocks Axl for being a virgin in the second episode as he tries to hook him up with a sexy netballer, even though it's not for lack of effort. (A montage shows him trying to have sex with various girlfriends, but Mike and Valerie interrupt him each time as he's lived in their house.) This invariably leads to Sex as Rite-of-Passage when he ends up sleeping with her, but not without consequences.
    • Zeb was also a hopeless virgin until Michele used her powers to hook him up with Stacey.
  • Meaningful Name: Some of the cast have names relating to other people in mythology.
    • Ty (full name Tyrone) is similar to Tr, the one handed Norse God of War and Law
    • Gaia is named after the Greek Titan of Earth
    • Eva being named after the first woman in the Christian religion.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Played with. Martin Larson/Heimdall will do anything in his power to keep the 'wrong' Odin aka Mike/Ullr from his sister Hannah...who happens to be the Frygg.
  • Mythology Gag: Given the premise of the show, there are various references to the Norse Myths, the more obvious being Derrick/Thor owning a goat farm and Helen/Iunn working with apples.
  • Morality Pet: Anders should be the last man on earth capable of having a platonic friendship with a beautiful woman, but he seems truly unable to consider using his sleaze on Dawn. He takes great risk to save her from Loki's schemes and actually looks appalled at the suggestion that he would use his wiles to sleep with her.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Michele, who is a practicing physician at a local hospital, but whose mission is to stop Odin from finding Frigg, even if that means killing him off.
  • Naked Apron: Ty and Dawn do some baking together in only aprons only while waiting for the Gar in the "The End of the World As We Know It" episode.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Thor, again.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: As befits Norse gods, the brothers tend to screw up. A lot.
    • Anders' inability to keep it in his pants brings the god-killing cult to New Zealand. This has second and even third-order consequences which end up turning Gaia into Idunn instead of Frigg like she was supposed to be.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Michele attempts to kill Axl by shooting an arrow to his heart, but the tip ends up lodged next to it, thus helping fulfill a prophecy of him becoming Odin.
  • Not So Different: The Maori gods are initially presented as villains, but it quickly becomes apparent that they're much the same as the Johnsons: Silly, dysfunctional, and not really sure of what they're doing. Mike claims that the deserve to have Gaia because they saw her first; George counters that they were in the country first. Those are the best arguments either side can come up with.
  • Not So Stoic: Michelle doesn't show any outward grief at her breakup with Mike, until Anders tells her that Mike is looking for the Frygg so he can be come Odin, implying that Mike is 'trading up in the goddess department.'
  • Not Wearing Pants: Happens every so often on this show. In fact, how Axl got his powers as Odin involved not wearing any clothes. It's even lampshaded at one point.
  • Oh, Crap: Axl gets this look on his face quite a lot during the series. The most recent one occurring when he finds out the meaning of 'Jorgamund is stirring'...
  • Older Than They Look: Olaf/Baldr. He's the main casts' Grandfather, but you couldn't tell by looking.
  • Overprotective Dad: Derrick, both played straight and inverted. He wants Delphine to hook up with Axl (or, rather any god), but he gets rather offended when he tells him about her attraction to Ross, whom he considers "a simpleton."
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: "Who are you calling mortal?"
  • Physical God: the basic premise.
  • Promotion to Parent: Mike, after the boys' mother runs off into the forest and becomes a tree. He assumes responsibility for raising his fellow brothers, even though Olaf is actually older than all of them.
  • Playing with Fire: Loki, Eva/Hel's father.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Anders' powers of persuasion are tantamount to a date rape drug when he uses it to talk women into bed—which is how he uses it most often. His argument that he doesn't talk them into anything they don't want to do is undermined when three women whose lives were ruined by Anders' seduction team up to castrate him.
  • Put on a Bus: Gaia/Idunn, who leaves for London when she realizes that she's falling out of love with Axl the more time she spends with Anders/Braggi.
  • Quest for Sex: Let's face it, this is what the story boils down to.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Characters frequently give these to others when calling out their Jerk Ass behaviors. A few that stand out are:
    • From the first season episode Bad Things Happen Axl chews out Anders for the latter's treatment of women and forbids him from having sex for a time. Anders is on the receiving end from Mike as well in season 2.
    • Mike gives a major one to Olaf in the second season episode House of Jerome for always being gone when the family needs him, being strung out on drugs, and his general failings as an oracle.
  • Red Herring: Several, given that the story revolves around Axl's quest to find Frigg.
  • Red String of Fate: Once Gaia becomes Idunn, it's a matter of when she and Anders/Braggi get together. No-one is happy about it, least of all Axl.
  • Ret Gone / Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Kind of - time travel isn't involved, but after Ty loses his godhood and becomes mortal, his existence is erased from mortal memory; only the other gods remember who he is.
    • And now that Ty has his godhood back, Dawn is starting to remember who he is...
    • This happens to the main cast once the spirit of the Norse gods return to Asgard at the end of series 3.
  • Running Gag: Anders keeps thinking Dawn owns a cat.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Hand-waved by the historians getting it wrong.
  • Secret Keeper: Because they had to run away from Scandinavia to escape from Christians with torches the Norse gods trust no-one with the knowledge they are gods. Although Zeb finds out eventually
    • Dawn finds out as well in season three.
  • Seers: Olaf and Ingrid. Oracles, to be more exact. Though sadly they are rather incompetent at it. They tend to miss things completely, their interpretation of signs comes about too late or their answers are so vague they are practically useless. Being gone a lot of the time or strung out on drugs and alcohol does not help matters since they do not gain needed information and cannot be found.
  • Ship Tease: Quite a few. Among them, we have Axl/Gaia, Anders/Michele, Olaf/Ingrid, and Ty/Dawn.
  • Shout-Out: In the Pilot, Anders says to Ty "Run, Forrest, Run"
    • Also in the Pilot, during the scene where Axl first becomes a God:
    • In "Everything Starts with Gaia", Jacob (Gaia's ex boyfriend) says "Play to stereotype, toss the dwarf".
  • Sick Episode: Man-Flu in Season 2.
  • Squick Mike (and some viewers, no doubt) looks fairly freaked when Michele's mother tells him that the previous Ullr was her father, aka Michele's grandfather.
  • The Stinger: In the third season finale, Colin hangs around and drops an ominous-looking red crystal on the same spot where Frygg's Norn stone used to be in the Agar.
  • Stock Kiwi Phrases: Phrases like "sweet-as" are peppered into everyday conversation to really hammer down the "typical Kiwi bloke" feel of the show.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Although the gods' powers have diminished over the years, they sometimes come back in major ways. Axl is a perfect example of this trope.
  • Super Strength: Axl and Thor, though Axl more so. Justified in that Axl is Odin, Thor's father, makes sense he'd be stronger than him.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Avoided for the most part, but some of the god's powers are very specialized, making them only useful in very specific roles.
    • Hod's power over all things dark and cold (like ice) is mostly only good for making Ty miserable, except when facing down the god of fire, Loki.
    • Though Anders is often mocked for being the god of poetry, in practice his power is tantamount to mind control...handy whenever you need someone talked into something.
  • Top God: Odin is not just in charge, the laws of metaphysics mean the other gods need him and Frigg to ascend to Asgard again.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The true meaning behind 'Jorgamund is stirring,' which according to Norse mythology serves as the catalyst for Ragnarok.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?:
    • Anders often gets ridiculed for his god powers—most notably by Michele and Ty—though it's mostly for the way he uses it.
    • Every single time someone is told that Ty is Hod, they either laugh or offer their condolences.
    • Inverted with any of the love goddesses. Though they literally have the power of heart, it's a generally admired skill.
  • Wham Episode: "Everything Starts with Gaia" in which it's revealed Gaia is Frigg.
    • "The House of Jerome" (S02E11), in which our heroes learn that the Maori Gods are real too.
    • And in the season finale, where Gaia becomes Idunn instead of Frigg.
    • Season 3, Episode 8: Ty gets his powers back, and Axl discovers that if Jorgamund stirs for much longer, Ragnarok might happen.
    • Season 3, Episode 12: The Johnsons find out that reuniting Odin and Frygg will kill them all (in a sense), Hanna/Frygg sleeps with Mike and reveals to Michelle that she doesn't want to be with Odin, right before Martin kills Michelle with a hammer.
    • Season 3, Episode 10: Axl finds the Frigg's biological father in a nursing home, but Mike destroys Yggdrasil before Michelle can use it to heal him and find out who and where she is.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Mike typically warns his fellow brothers of the consequences of using their god powers. One night, however, he decides to go out gambling, the perfect time for his powers to slip through the cracks. Of course, this causes some complications. The guy walks into a casino, sits down at the Blackjack table and proceeds to win every single hand for the duration of the night, turning $800 into $90,000 before they finally throw him out for suspected cheating. The dealer who got fired for "helping" him is pretty pissed.
    • When the Maori gods show up with their own prophecy, Mike is pissed at Olaf.
      Olaf: How was I supposed to know?
      Mike: Because you're a fucking oracle. You're supposed to see this shit coming, not wave at it as it goes past! "Oh, bye bye prophecy, sorry I missed you!"
    • As of season three, everyone begins to call Mike out on his control freak ways when he lashes out at Ty for bringing Dawn into their secret, and then destroying Yggdrasil when he finds out about Michelle using it to heal people.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: No matter how badly any of them want the change their character, the gods will inevitably end up fulfilling their fables or prophecies, and often worse off for their efforts.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Mike/Ullr and Colin/Loki both know there's only one way Mike can beat the vastly more powerful Colin: if their feud becomes a "game," Mike cannot lose. The two spar with words, both trying to turn the situation to their advantage...aaaand that makes it a game Loki!