A hyperactive Shakespearian counterpart to the Dickensian The Wire, The Shield follows a team of police officers working at The Barn, an experimental police precinct situated within the fictional Los Angeles district of Farmington. Although the show revolves around corrupt detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis), it gained a reputation as an ensemble show as the series explored the goings-on within the Farmington Precinct (including the various power struggles and interpersonal drama surrounding Mackey in the midst of the chaos and intrigue).The focus of the show revolves around Mackey and an elite anti-gang task force known as "The Strike Team", which he leads. The LAPD has tasked the Strike Team with the monumental job of keeping the streets of Farmington safe from drug dealers and gang members. Mackey and the other members of the close-knit group generally go about their task with violent efficiency and a tad bit of corruption on the side: the team will often enter into Faustian deals with Farmington's criminal elements which give said criminals free reign to run the city's drug trade in exchange for bribes, intel on other gang members, and a promise to keep their illegal antics at reasonable levels to ensure an illusion of peace.Other aspects of the show deal with the rank and file members of the Farmington Precinct. The most notable of these cast members, detectives Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach and Claudette Wyms, deal with non-gang-related instances of rape and murder within the district. They serve as the moral opposite of Vic Mackey and the Strike Team, which leads to much tension between the two sides when they work together on related cases (or when Dutch and Claudette have to clean up the inevitable fall-out from the Strike Team's corrupt antics while trying in vain to prove Vic's corruption). Several patrol officers, ranging from Danielle "Danny" Sofer, her protegé Julian Lowe, and rookie cop Tina Hanlon, find themselves struggling to advance up the ranks while dealing with the unappreciated job of keeping Farmington safe.Other characters include police captain-turned-politician David Acaveda, whose disdain for Vic Mackey and his corrupt antics clash with his political ambitions (and ends up driving him further and further into bed with Vic as the series progresses). Vic's estranged ex-wife Corrine, who spends the bulk of the series trying to separate herself and her children from her ex-husband before his crimes destroy their lives, also plays a significant role in the long run.Much the same as The Sopranos, The Shield goes to lengths to show how Vic and the rest of the Strike Team have both good and bad sides. In spite of his corruption and violent tendencies, many of Vic's criminal actions often result from the stress of his job (due to the unrealistic pressures placed on him to shut down crime in the district) and the desire to provide for his family (two of his three children have autism). Vic has some lines he refuses to cross, however, and he has absolutely zero tolerance for rape, pedophilia, and domestic violence. He also shows a great deal of loyalty towards his teammates and often preaches the message of team loyalty to bond the four men into a surrogate family.But Vic's conscience mainly exists thanks to the influence of Strike Team member Curtis "Lem" Lemansky. Lem serves as the counterpart to Vic's much abused "yes-man" partner, Shane Vendrell. Ronnie Gardocki, a quiet and nerdy police detective whose silent loyalty to Vic balances Lem and Shane's polar opposite personalities, rounds out the Strike Team.
Season summaries: spoilers follow!
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The series opens with Vic and Shane murdering Terry Crowley, a new member of the Strike Team who Aceveda convinced to help expose the team's corrupt antics. While Vic gets away with the murder, his life starts falling apart: Shane has a nervous breakdown due to the guilt over what they did (a breakdown largely brought about by Vic's refusal to let Shane vent his feelings over what they did with him), his son receives an autism diagnosis that will require expert treatment, and Vic himself frames an innocent man for trying to kill Lem after Lem accidentally fires on the man (which leads to Vic, Lem, and Ronnie having to rob a police vehicle to steal back the gun Vic planted on the man). These things pale in comparison to the chief revelation of the season: Vic's mentor/patron, Assistant Chief Gilroy, has become more corrupt than even Vic had imagined. Gilroy triggers a full-scale riot as a result of his manipulation of department resources in areas of the city. The riot leads to multiple deaths in the name of lowering property values within the city as part of a real estate scheme Gilroy cooked up.Meanwhile, Dutch and Claudette investigate a serial killer who (upon being caught) tries his best to destroy Dutch emotionally during a lengthy interrogation and rookie patrol officer Julian Lowe struggles with his homosexuality (which Vic uses as leverage to silence Julian after he sees Vic pocketing evidence from a crime scene).Vic eventually brings down Gilroy and talks Shane down from the proverbial edge when he finally snaps over the guilt of Terry's death — but at the end of the season finale, Vic's wife leaves in the middle of the night with the kids after an encounter with Gilroy makes her realize that her husband doesn't walk the straight and narrow.
This season has two distinct arcs. The first arc pits Vic and Aceveda (who've arranged a truce) against Claudette as they try to take down ruthless drug dealer/rapist/murderer Armadillo, who disfigures Ronnie in retaliation for Vic doing the same to him. Shane and Lem arrange for Armadillo's murder as payback for what he did to Ronnie, but it ends up coming too late to do any good: Claudette stops turning a blind eye to Vic's antics and starts working to bring him to down.A one-off flashback episode, "Co-Pilot", separates the two arcs. This Continuity Snarl of an episode shows Vic and Shane forming the Strike Team, Aceveda's first encounter with Vic, and Dutch and Claudette becoming partners.The second half of the season focuses on the growing tension between Claudette and Vic as the Strike Team plans to take down a money-laundering exchange (a "money train") run by the Armenian mob and keep its contents for themselves. Dutch and Sofer deal with professional problems due to a series of screw-ups both individually suffered during the first half of the season. Julian (having "cured" himself of his homosexuality) marries a single mother, only to later be outed by an ex-lover. The Strike Team also takes on a new member — a black detective named Tavon — who has no idea about the corrupt nature of the Strike Team.At the end of the season, Vic works out a cease-fire with Claudette once Vic and Tavon help catch the man who murdered Claudette's estranged ex-husband. That deal might turn out as a temporary truce when Claudette reveals she'll replace Aceveda as the Barn's Captain after Aceveda won the primary for an opening on the LA city council. The Strike Team carries out the Money Train heist, though their moment of triumph vanishes in the face of a growing dread and fear: they stole the money without much trouble, but now they have to keep their possession of the money a secret — and survive the incoming shitstorm of the Armenians looking for those who stole it...
The aftermath of the Money Train Heist tears the Strike Team apart as the group tries to stay on the straight-and-narrow to avoid suspicion for the robbery. Dutch and Claudette stumble upon the aftermath of the robbery, while the Feds start their own investigation into the heist. Vic's stranglehold over the Strike Team begins to slip when Shane enters a relationship with a real estate agent named Mara. Mara and Vic instantly take a disliking to each other, which creates tension between Vic and Shane — especially when Mara discovers their involvement in the Money Train Heist. Mara's unexpected pregnancy leads to Mara and Shane eloping, which creates a schism between Vic and Shane as Shane's new family leads him to seek independence from the Strike Team's corruption.Things go further sideways with the revelation that marked bills make up a portion of the Money Train's loot (thanks to the Feds investigating the Armenian mob), which renders half of the money essentially radioactive. It gets even worse when the Armenians send a ruthless hitman to find the men responsible for the robbery. Lem (suffering from ulcers and guilt after Vic forces him to cover up Shane assaulting Tavon and inadvertently removing from the team) burns the remaining money in a fit of madness, saying that he made sure the Strike Team can now stop any further inquiries into who stole the money. Shane's greed refuses to let him go along with Vic and Ronnie's attempt to move on with Lem, which leads to Lem putting in for a transfer to a new precinct and Shane proclaiming that he doesn't need Vic. After putting in for reassignment, Shane and Vic finally have it out with each other.Meanwhile, a couple of gangsters sexually assault Aceveda at gunpoint as a consequence of one of Vic's attempts to cover up the Money Train Heist. Aceveda takes dramatic steps to get revenge on his attackers: he kills one and blackmails the other with threats against his family if he ever talks. Claudette and Dutch separate as Claudette prepares to take over as Captain. Both detectives fall apart as a result: Claudette becomes Drunk with Power and Dutch ends up killing a cat after a rapist/murderer he spent the bulk of the season chasing after goads him into exploring how the criminal mind works. The pair ends up working together again, but soon after they get back together, Claudette blows the whistle on corruption within the city's public defender's office. Claudette's whistleblowing causes the overturning of several dozen convictions and all but kills her career on a political level.Julian (separated at work from Sofer) finds himself torn between the forces of evil (Vic and Julian's new amoral partner Tommy) and good (Danny) as he becomes more aggressive in his job in order to compensate for his outing. When evidence implicates Tommy in the murder of his ex-wife and son, Vic wants Julian to help him kill the guy who did the actual murders so Tommy can claim deniability, while Danny wants to keep Julian from falling into Vic's world of corruption and nihilism. In the end, Julian refuses to kill the man (a decision that ends up gaining Vic's respect), Tommy ends up killing himself, and Danny and Julian get paired up again.
The Strike Team has disbanded. Aceveda sits on the city council after winning his election. In the wake of Claudette's whistleblowing, new arrival Monica Rawlings (Glenn Close) takes over the Barn's Captain slot. Rawlings implements a controversial policy of asset forfeiture towards criminals, believing that seizing property bought with drug money will scare the masses away from thinking of the drug trade as a viable means of making money. Her idea doesn't win her much favor with the public or her superiors, though.Rawlings' arrival in Farmington coincides with the return of drug baron Antwon Mitchell, who wants to unite all of the city's gangs under his control. Mitchell has brokered an alliance with Shane, which puts Shane at odds with Vic and Ronnie (who have reunited with Lem to find a way to neutralize Shane). The reformed Strike Team fears that when Shane inevitably screws up, he will rat out the trio in order to save himself. When Shane can't warn Antwon about a raid on one of his major drug labs, Mitchell murders a young girl with Shane's police-issued firearm to frame Shane for her murder (and permanently bind Shane to his employment) as punishment. Vic eventually frees Shane from the predicament, though he unknowingly sets into motion a series of events which ends with Lem caught stealing drugs from a dealer by a police informant. As the informant's handler alerts IAD that they finally have one of the Strike Team members dead to rights for police corruption, Mitchell orders the murder of two patrol officers and ultimately sells out his new allies — the El Salvadorian drug cartel — to get immunity for ordering the killings. Rawlings manages to get Mitchell's immunity revoked and arrests him for the murders, but does so at the cost of her job.
Internal Affairs Lt. Jon Kavanaugh (Forest Whitaker) attempts to turn Lem against the Strike Team by using charges of police corruption against him. Kavanaugh and Vic engage in a brutal game of psychological warfare over the course of the season, and the games begin when Kavanaugh drives Vic's ex-wife Corrine to seek help from Dutch to deal with the possibility of Kavanaugh arresting her as her husband's accomplice. When Vic figures out Kavanaugh's weakness (his mentally ill ex-wife), Kavanaugh snaps and arrests Lem, who eventually goes on the run. During the season finale, Shane kills Lem after Aceveda hatches a plan with Kavanaugh to trick Vic into thinking Lem has cut a deal to testify against him. After seeing Lem's body, Vic vows brutal revenge against Lem's murderer.Slacker detective Steve Billings' disastrous tenure as Captain forces TPTB to finally promote Claudette (who learns she has lupus after a massive fall down a flight of stairs) to the job. Rookie cop Tina Hanlon joins the precinct and attracts the attention of Dutch, who both feels attracted to her and wants to mold her into a proper police officer.But the most important revelation of the season involves Vic: when he hits his fifteenth year as a police officer in two months' time, the LAPD will force him to retire.
Vic captures, tortures, and ultimately murders El Salvadorian gangster Guardo Lima in retaliation for Lem's murder). When Vic finally learns the truth about Shane killing Lem, the Strike Team implodes. Shane takes drastic action to ensure that Vic and Ronnie can never hurt him or his family. This includes informing the Armenians of Vic's involvement in the Money Train Heist. When Shane realizes the Armenians will kill Vic's family as part of the blowback for the Money Train Heist, he kidnaps Corrine and Vic's oldest child, Cassidy, at gunpoint in order to move them to a safe place. While he saves their lives, he becomes bound to the Armenian mob as a result.Julian joins the Strike Team alongside squeaky-clean new leader Kevin Hyatt, who ends up fired from the team when Claudette realizes she'd rather have a corrupt Vic Mackey bringing in the arrest numbers she needs to placate her bosses instead of a by-the-books officer who doesn't produce the instant results needed to keep the Barn from shutting down. Dutch's investigation of a house filled with dismembered body parts leads to the revelation that a major Mexican drug cartel has begun infiltrating Los Angeles, which ties into Vic's discovery that Aceveda's new ally in his mayoral ambitions will play a big part in the stealth invasion.Aceveda's new benefactor offers Vic photographic proof of Aceveda's sexual assault and bets on Vic using it to save his job via blackmailing Aceveda in exchange for Vic keeping his mouth shut about what he knows about the cartel's plot. The gambit backfires when Vic and Aceveda decide to put aside their rivalry to stop the cartel. At the end of the season, Vic skips out on the hearing that could save his job to help Aceveda obtain a box containing files that implicate countless prominent businessmen and political figures in Southern California in the corruption that allows the cartel to run rampant. With less than two months before his forced retirement, Vic sets his last major plan into motion.
Vic makes one last attempt to wipe the slate clean by arranging a gang war between the Mexican drug cartel and the Armenians while trying to have Shane killed as a side effect. Shane survives an attempt on his life, which leads to failed attempt at killing Ronnie and Vic. Shane becomes a wanted fugitive and Vic gives up his badge so he can get revenge while trying to bring down the Mexican cartel. As part of his plan, Vic attempts to convince a naive federal agent to provide him a job within Immigration and Customs Enforcement as a "thank you" for bringing down the cartel. He also forces Ronnie to stay by his side while Ronnie attempts to find a way to avoid jail time.Outside of Vic's story, Dutch befriends a woman whose teenage son pulls off a seemingly perfect murder. Fearing the sociopathic teen could one day become a serial killer, Dutch attempts to get the mother to help him arrest her child for the crime.The season's main storyline converges with Vic driving Shane to kill himself and his family while pulling off a Karma Houdini: because Vic can't secure an immunity deal for both himself and Ronnie, he sells Ronnie out to save himself and confesses to every single crime he and the Strike Team committed over the course of the show's events.Vic makes the arrests he needs to bring down the Cartel and ensure his immunity, but his victory proves Pyhrric: everyone knows about the crimes he and the Strike Team committed, his ex-wife escapes into Witness Protection after filing a restraining order against him, and the ICE agent Vic thought he bamboozled forces him to work desk duty for the duration of a three-year "probation" period that will ensure his immunity from prosecution. At the end of the show, Vic ends up without a family, a real career, the power and influence he held while he worked the streets, and a chance of ever getting any of those things back.
The Shield contains examples of the following tropes:
The Ace: Vic Mackey especially in season 1. He's a big tough guy, makes fun of 'losers' like Dutch, ran circles around Acevada and later Billings, and often gets laid. This changes in later seasons but it does pop up from time to time.
All of the Other Reindeer: Dutch is largely treated as an outcast by the other cops at the precinct, with even his partner/best friend keeping him at arms' length most of the time. Strike Team member Ronnie Gardocki is also treated badly by his teammates: from making fun of his facial hair to his non-existent sex life, to being left out of the loop of many important decisions made by the Strike Team and largely treated as a gopher for Vic.
Anyone Can Die: Starting with Terry in S1, Connie the hooker/informant in S2, Tommy in S3, Lem in S5, and finally ending with Shane, Mara, and Jackson in the series finale.
Actually kind of subverted for most of the show, yes Terry's death does set that sort of tone but really with the main cast we only saw three characters who's names were in the main titles killed over the course of seven seasons which is arguably part of what made those few deaths pack the punch they did.
Anti-Villain: Lt. Jon Kavanaugh (Michael Chiklis even outright uses the term to describe him in interviews). The Strike Team qualify as well, if you take the stance that Claudette and Dutch are the true good guys in the story.
Ascended Extra: Quite a few characters, but most notably: Ronnie, Lem, and Billings. Similarly, Margos (the Armenian hitman from season three who became that season's big bad) started off as a one-off villain; at the time of filming the season one episode that introduced him, the show had no plans for the character and even had staff writer Kurt Sutter play the character as a means of saving money on casting the part.
Auto Erotica: Danny and Vic in season four, which worked out as a perfect coincidence for the writers, as it let them use the scene to make Vic the father of Danny's baby, when the writers were forced to work Catherine Dent's pregnancy into the series.
Berserk Button: Steve Billings is a jaded police officer who, with five years left before he can retire with a full police pension, has committed himself to doing as little work as possible as he counts down his days to retirement. The only thing that can get him to pull himself out of his lazy rut is when he comes across crimes involving children, at which point Billings will move heaven and earth to see justice done. Coincidentally, this Berserk Button is shared by Vic.
Also shared by Monica Rollins, particularly when it's incompetence from child services that starts it.
Margos Dezerian, the Armenian Mob, and the Granny Rapist in Season Three.
Antwon Mitchell in Season Four.
Lt. Kavanaugh and Guardo Lima in Season Five
Season Six carries over Guardo Lima as well as his organization, in the form of the El Salvadorian mob. The season also establishes the Mexican Mafia in the form of Corrupt Corporate Executive Cruz Pezuela
Season Seven has multiple Big Bads running around: the Mexican Mafia (led by Guillermo Beltran), the Armenians, Shane Vendrell and Lloyd, a sixteen year old sociopath.
Bizarchitecture: The Barn has an odd, open design which would generally be too chaotic and loud to be comfortable to work in. Justified both on camera (It's a converted former church that the LAPD was trying to save from being torn down) and off-camera (It's much easier to film in there.)
Big Good: Captain Monica Rawling in Season 4. Hell even Vic Mackey is at his most heroic in this season. Shane is a different matter...
Bluffing the Murderer: Subverted. In season four and five, Claudette deals with a serial killer that had moved to LA after being put on trial and acquitted of several murders. When he resumes his killing spree in Los Angeles (and murders a woman who looks like Claudette after a particularly tense encounter), Claudette successfully goads a confession out of the murderer by pretending that his sister (whom he hadn't killed and loved) had been murdered. The subversion is that it ultimately comes back to bite her in the ass: having found out that Claudette has lupus (and taking medication that is known in some instances to cause hallucinations), the killer threatens Claudette and the DA by way of exposing Claudette's lupus in court as a means to negate Claudette's testimony. In order to salvage her case, as well as to save Claudette's career (since her superiors have threatened to force her from her job if her lupus becomes an issue in her job performance as a cop), the DA is forced to accept a life sentence plea-bargain, rather than go for the death penalty.
Butt Monkey: Dutch and Ronnie. Also Shane, as far as him being Vic's go-to punching bag whenever things in Vic's life go bad.
Call Back: Just before Shane attempts to goad Antoine Mitchell into attacking him in Season 4 (in a desperate bid to clear his name and save his career), Shane tells Vic that "This one's on me," echoing what Vic said to Shane in the the Season 3 finale before he went to confront Margos (the Armenian hitman) by himself.
The Cameo: Rapper Andre 3000 of Outkast fame appears as a comic book store owner in one episode. He returns in the series finale, where this trope becomes Death by Cameo.
Career Resurrection: For Michael Chiklis whose career had fallen into a bit of a lull in the years after his first show The Commish had ended. Luckily, his wife convinced him that he should reinvent his image by working out and shaving his head to open up more opportunities which led directly to him being cast as Vic Mackey.
Chekhov's Gun: The cell phone pic of Aceveda's rape. Subverted with the MAD Document Shane produced, which Vic lied about using AGAINST Shane in the series finale. And a more literal example, the stolen grenade used by Shane to kill Lem.
Crapsack World: It's shown repeatedly that the main characters, and the LAPD in general, work a thankless job protecting a section of the city that pretty much sees the police as the enemy and the problem rather than the solution to the various gang and drug problems within their community. It's also shown that the top ranking LAPD brass pretty much are petty, self-absorbed jerks who spend their days either committing abuse of power as far as misusing police resources for illegal schemes (Gilroy) or engaging intimidation/threats towards their subordinates (Claudette, Acaveda) because they pissed off the wrong superior officer at some point. Adding to the Crapsack World nature of the finale was Vic skating on jail time for everything while his subordinate, who wasn't even deemed worthy enough to be consulted about the bulk of Vic's crimes, was made into the fall guy and will be most likely executed (assuming he isn't killed in jail) for Terry Crowley's murder when he wasn't even part of the murder plot.
Da Chief: Largely averted, but Claudette fills the role when necessary.
Darker and Edgier: Subjective; season 2 featured darker villains (the evil arm-chopping off and murdering husband and wife pair, Armadillo Quintero) but kept the aura of hope for the main cast as far as overcoming them. Season 3 on the other hand, featured several characters being driven to the brink of the Moral Event Horizon and barely escaping it intact, while one of the central aspects of seasons 1 and 2 (the bond of friendship between the Strike Team members) began coming apart, as far as the Strike Team collapsing into infighting and Shane Vendrell going from harmless syncophant to ticking time bomb waiting to go off and take the entire team down with him.
"The Shield Spotlight" mini-series IDW released in 2004; in particular Dutch and Claudette manage to find evidence linking a high ranking news network executive to the murder of a reporter, who was about to expose a good amount of corruption at the network she worked at. But the entire investigation is squashed and the network executive gets away with the crime, after the network executive cuts a backroom deal with Acaveda (who, generally speaking, did have SOME standards as far as just how far he'd go to further his ambitions in the tv series), to trade favorable news coverage for his political career in exchange for Acaveda ensuring that the murder investigation gets squashed. The mini-series even ends with Vic, oblivious to what happened, gloating to Claudette and Dutch that he's the better detective and that he gets stuff done, while they can't solve their murder
Dirty Cop: Aceveda says it all about Vic Mackey: "Mackey's not a cop. He's Al Capone with a badge."
Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Subverted somewhat. While glamorizing the maverick antics of the Strike Team, the show goes about showing their criminal deeds as being utterly unglamorous as far as showing the dark, unattractive side to police corruption with the overall downward spiral of the group. Also, outright subverts the notion of the Strike Team living large on their ill-gotten loot. Outside of Shane purchasing a home for his family, the Strike Team is largely shown having to hide their ill-gotten money or at best, using it to pay for medical bills/specialized therapy for their autistic kids.
Vic:He gets full immunity from his crimes but quickly falls into his own personal hell: he's stuck working a desk job for three years with a supervisor who blatantly tells Vic that she'll do everything in her power to bait Vic into violating his immunity deal. Oh, and his ex-wife has fled town with their children, entered Witness Protection, and has an order of protection out against Vic.
Shane: After being on the run as a fugitive following his botched plot to murder Vic and Ronnie, Shane ends up killing himself, Mara, and their son after Vic beats him to an immunity deal.
Ronnie:He's arrested as the scapegoat for all of the crimes of the Strike Team and is sent to prison (a fate that Ronnie, earlier in the season, claimed was the far worse fate than being killed), where - assuming he doesn't get killed in jail awaiting trial - he's looking at going to prison for aiding and abetting a fugitive at best and being executed for the murder of Terry Crowley (even though he was utterly oblivious to the plot to kill Terry) at worst.
Claudette:Her lupus has reached the terminal stage and it's only a matter of time before she's forced to give up the job she loves more than life itself, let alone the implication that her utter failure to bring Vic to justice is eating her up inside and will haunt her to her dying day.
Corrine:Corrine and her kids are forced to go into Witness Protection program, with Corrine living in fear of the day in which Vic might eventually find her and what he will do to her to punish her for betraying him. On top of that, her two kids with autism will be forced into a sub-par school system (the WP officer evasively describes the schools in the area as "improving"), essentially ruining any chance the kids had to lead independent lives. Throughout the series, it's also strongly hinted that Cassidy, whatever she decides to do with her life, is going to end up just like her father.
Acaveda:He manages to avoid all of the fallout of his involvement with the Mexican drug cartel, Vic Mackey, and the Strike Team's crimes (a lot of which happened on his watch as the captain at the Barn), and is even expected to win the Mayoral election. But despite this, the character is now completely compromised morally: he is now knee-deep in corruption, having lost practically all of the morals he had at the beginning of the show. Assuming of course, the Mexican Mafia don't kill Acaveda for the way that he betrayed them and crippled their organization.
Julian:He's still in his own private, closeted hell as far as being stuck in a sham marriage as well as having his brief "hazard pay" pay raise (given to him to get him to work as the fifth guy on the Strike Team) revoked when Claudette dissolves the Strike Team once and for all.
Billings:He discovers that his big payday from his bogus lawsuit amounts to several days' worth of backpay.
Only Tina Hanlon (and, to a lesser extent, Dutch and Danny) seemed to have anything remotely resembling a happy ending and even that is a stretch:
Tina watches a beloved community activist die after being shot by criminals whose drug house he was trying to get shut down via organizing a blockade of its entrance. And while she gets Julian to hold a mini-celebration (complete with cake) for her to celebrate her first full year on the job, the celebration is cut short due to Tina and her fellow patrol officers being called out onto the street as back-up on a gang shooting.
Danny has Vic Mackey looming over her, as far as him suing to gain visitation rights to their son, a notion that will only intensify now that his other children are beyond his reach.
Dutch is manipulated into giving perjured testimony in order to get Billings' lawsuit settled and save his job, and he doesn't end up with any of the women he spent the series pining over (though Billings' lawyer, ironically played by Jay Karnes' real life wife, ends up asking Dutch out on a date.)
Dutch turns down a transfer to the Robbery-Homicide Division (a prestigious unit) to stay with Claudette and help her out as long as she's still able to work.
But Claudette does finally admit Dutch is her best friend. The look on his face when she does is the happiest moment of the finale.
Escalating War: Season two had this with Vic and Armadillo and later with Vic versus Kavanaugh, which featured the escalating plot point of Vic fucking Kavanaugh's estranged ex-wife and Kavanaugh in turn confronting Corrine (Vic's ex) with a deranged offer for sex to get back at Vic. Not to mention Vic driving Kavanaugh to the breaking point of breaking the law and planting evidence on Vic in a desperately pathetic attempt to bring him to justice. The relationship between the two was once described as "a downward spiral of one-upsmanship."
Executive Meddling: Episodes three and four were supposed to air in reverse order, but were ordered switched in order to continue the themed arc with Shane's coping with the aftermath of the murder of Terry Crowley. Also, the hiring of Glenn Close in season four was done after FX Network effectively gave notice to Shawn Ryan that they were seriously considering canceling the series after season four. Also, the haphazard splitting of season five and six (as it was filmed, the series was to have ended with Vic being notified that Claudette had found a replacement for him/Vic killing the man he thought responsible for Lem's death was done mainly due to FX constantly going back and forth on how many episodes season five and six would consist of and whether or not the show would have received a seventh season.
Framing the Guilty Party: Played with twice. In season 5, Kavanaugh attempts to frame Mackey for Lem's murder, but eventually confesses and goes to prison himself, but with a clear conscience. Duth goes through an element of this as well, when he finds a strangled woman but cannot break the suspected killer. He plants some evidence in the man's house, but has a crisis of conscience before reaching the end of the block and goes back to remove it. He redoubles his resolve to do it the right way, and succeeds.
From Bad to Worse: The Money Train Heist in the season two finale: what should have been the Strike Team's crowning moment of awesomeness turning into the moment when things went off the rails and led to the destruction of the team and their friendships.
Season One, Dutch faces off with a serial killer who psychoanalysis Dutch and his failures as a human being complete with using the interrogation room's white board to map out Dutch's psyche to pinpoint his failures. The subversion comes from the fact that Dutch willfully endures this to buy his partner the time needed to get a search warrant to search the killer's house, to get the evidence proving him to be the murderer. Though this strategy works and causes the rank and file officers (including Vic Mackey) to cheer Dutch for his smarts in catching the killer, viewers watch Dutch break down into tears in private following the conclusion of the interrogation.
Dutch delivers one to Danny, in full view of the rest of the Barn, when she picks the wrong moment to ask him if he'll help her cram for her sergeant's exam. Made more awesome in that it's brought on in large part due to Dutch having recently learned that Danny is having an extra-marital affair with Dutch's rival, Vic Mackey (who is a married man) and that Danny (who was visited by Dutch before Vic came and was spotted by him making out with her) telling Vic that she had time for him after basically blowing off Dutch's offer to spend a couple of hours helping her learn the material for the test.
Gilroy gives Vic a lecture about how he will inevitably lose his family because of his corrupt antics at the end of season one.
Acaveda gives Vic one in season two, in which he points out how they are locked into a path of mutually assured destruction due to Acaveda's political ambitions and that Vic would be better served working with Acaveda for their own mutual survival, rather than continuing their pissing match against each other.
The "Granny Rapist" does this to Dutch in season three, calling out Dutch's failure to catch him before he had the chance to go from being just a rapist to a rapist and murderer.
Antwon Mitchell tries this on Captain Monica Rawlings at several points in season four, pointing out her affair with her married partner and the fact said partner, driven to desperation to bring him to justice, framed Antwon for the crime that sent him to jail for several years and that said act of criminal conduct sapped his will to live and caused him to go into an early grave. This leads to the subversion of this as Antwon receives Hannibal Lectures from Shane Vandrell and Monica Rawlings herself in the season four episode "Back to the Hole". Shane's attempt (done to provoke Antwon into attacking him so that he could kill him) fails but Rawlings is able to bring Antwon to tears by recounting his hellish childhood.
Kavanaugh does this to Lem and Councilman Acaveda in season five by way of stating that he purposely spent the entire season pissing Acaveda off/accusing him of being in league with Vic as far as Vic's corruption funding his political career, to drive the two together in alliance against Kavanaugh. At that point, Kavanaugh convinces Acaveda to turn against Vic and help him; the lecture given to Acaveda unfortunately has unintended consequences, as Acaveda manipulates Vic into thinking that Lem had agreed to turn against the Strike Team in exchange for immunity, leading to Lem's death.
Season Six has Shane unleashing one of these upon Vic Mackey, when he brings up Vic murdering Terry as a rebuttal for Vic's anger over Shane murdering Lem.
Finally Vic gives one to Shane in the finale which backfires when it leads to Shane's killing his family and then himself.
Hero Antagonist: Played straight with Aceveda till first 2 seasons and then becomes increasingly subverted as Aceveda puts his political ambition before bringing the strike team to justice. Double Subverted as Aceveda still goes after Vic and co. for personal reasons from season 5.
Jon Kavanaugh also counts as a very dark version of this trope.
Averted with Terry Crowley in the Pilot itself!!!
Heroic BSOD: Subverted: every time Vic seems like he might have one, his sociopathic nature pulls him out of it right before he goes catatonic.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: Vic and Shane (which at times is portrayed as an abusive marriage with Shane as the battered spouse) and Ronnie and Vic (at least in Ronnie's mind).
Hollywood Hacking: In the series 2 episode "Homewreckers". Ronnie, upon being presented with a laptop (which wasn't connected to the internet), comments that the user "didn't firewall her backdoor", and that he can "route around her password by setting the operations post back to default" - although this whole section was Played for Laughs anyway, given the guy he was working with was from Police Information Systems (or PIS, as everyone constantly points out).
Humiliating Wager: (S 03 E 04: Streaks and Tips), two LAPD teams (Strike Team and Decoy Squad) compete to solve a car-jacking case. They make a bet saying that the losing team has to streak naked through the police station. Decoy Squad loses.
Gambit Roulette: Vic is able to manipulate events around him to such an extent that it seems like he's truly all-knowing, all-seeing.
Idealized Sex: Subverted: Sex is usually portrayed as unglamorously as possible.
If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: Off-screen, a Federal undercover agent is given one of these tests. he apparently "passed" because we later see the carved up remains of his victim. Tina constantly gets these offers just about every time she does undercover work: first being asked to let a bunch of sadistic pimps gangbang her and later, when a porn director/drug dealer orders her to perform oral sex on fellow undercover cop Julian. Luckily, she is able to wiggle out of having to do so each time she's been offered the proverbial kitten to eat.
Infant Immortality: Averted in every season, except the sixth one. The worst cases were in season four and season seven, with the final fate of Shane's son.
Inspector Javert: Jon Kavanaugh (though Vic is much more dirty than The Javert's usual quarry).
In Season 6, Vic beats Guardo Lima, a gang leader, with a length of chain to find out who killed Lem. But since Shane actually did it, Vic winds unknowingly up torturing (and killing with a bullet to the head afterwords when he got tired of hearing Guardo deny the charge) an innocent, though still evil, man.
Jerk Ass: Shane, so very much. Also Vic, when it comes to Dutch. Aceveda becomes one in the later seasons.
Kick the Dog: In the finale; Vic's betrayal of Ronnie certainly qualifies as a moment designed to remind people what a monster Vic has become.
Also the shooting of Terry Crowley in the very first episode, which was done mainly to establish Vic as not just another corrupt cop but one that was a Captain Sensible-type villain.
Not to mention Dutch killing a stray cat for no real reason.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Subverted: Tavon and Shane did not get off on the right foot, largely because of Shane's racism and the fact that Vic was taking a liking to Tavon, even though he was also keeping the Strike Team's criminal activities a secret from him. Needless to say, Tavon and Shane ultimately came to blows and an iron to the head thanks to Mara (Shane's girlfriend) and conclussion caused car crash later, put Tavon in the hospital with short term amnesia. Shane then begs Vic and Lem (who also became close to Tavon) to lie their asses off to Tavon, telling him that he initiated the fight and accidentally "hit" Mara, which made Tavon agree to not tell anyone about the "fight" and let everyone think that the car crash caused his injuries. Cue season seven, when Tavon shows back up and request that Shane work with him on capturing a bad guy Shane had arrested early in his career. After catching the criminal and the two men getting along well, Tavon drops the bomb on Shane, revealing that his amnesia had been faked and that he simply played along with Vic and Lem's lies about the fight, after quickly putting two and two together that they were covering Shane's ass.
MacGuffin: The plot of season seven partly revolves around a box filled with blackmail material that Vic and Acaveda steal from a major Mexican drug cartel, a theft Vic blames on the Armenians.
Morality Pet: Vic has several (his family, Connie the crack-addicted prostitute/single-mother, Ronnie, Lem).
Morality Chain: Lem would have to qualify as Ronnie's morality chain. His death effectively triggered a massive change in Ronnie's personality, causing him become hostile towards Shane and actively calling for Shane's death in order to avenge his friend.
Subverted non-violently with Claudette/Dutch and Julian/Danny: despite the show basically setting up Dutch as a time bomb waiting to go off, it's Claudette who goes batshit crazy when the two are broken up as partners during season three. Likewise, without Danny serving as a nurturing mentor to Julian, he quickly falls in with the bad crowd and finds himself becoming violent and not a nice person to be around during the period in season three when they are separated.
They addressed the morality chain-nature of Julian and Danny's partnership in season one as well; when Danny was bitten by an HIV-infected prostitute, Julian agreed to help several other officers beat the crap out of the prostitute before he was shipped off to the county jail. Needless to say, the fury of the beating Julian inflicts upon the prostitute freaked out the other cops who organized the beating, to the point that they had to separate Julian from his victim.
Motive Decay: Vic's desire to protect the Strike Team from the consequences of their crimes in the end turns into Vic protecting himself from the consequences of the Strike Team's crimes.
Also with Acaveda: his desire to do good for the community via entering the world of politics/purging the LAPD of corrupt elements like Vic go down the toilet once the real life backstabbery of politics hit him in the face with a two-by-four, and Acaveda begins to shed his morals and ethics to get elected.
Subverted with Vic/Ronnie/Shane as Ronnie kept pushing Vic to kill Shane to avenge Lem, even as Vic was willing to kiss and make up for real with Shane. When Vic tried to call off the hit on Shane, Ronnie cold-bloodedly exploited the fact that they were in the same car with Julian, meaning that Vic couldn't beat the crap out Ronnie and call Shane to warn him about the attempt on his life.
Never Accepted in His Hometown: In Season 2, a Mexican gangleader is released into Farmington after serving a long jail sentence, only to find that season two big bad Armadillo has taken over his crew and stocked it with loyalists who treat the former leader as a servant. Shane and Lem end up cutting a deal with him, arranging for his arrest so that he can kill Armadillo in the police holding cell via a shank they then give him. The murder sends him back to prison, where he is respected and gives him fresh street cred.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In season 3, when the Cuddle-Rapist first appears, Dutch's top suspect is a rapist with a history but was good for 7 years. Dutch tells him that his morality compass was broken and the guy breaks down crying and asking if he can fix it, Dutch tells him it can't be fixed and eventually he admits he did it. Turns out he was lying, Dutch figures that out, and gets a call where he tells Dutch he shouldn't deny what he is. Cue Julien breaking into the apartment and finding the guy raping his neighbor. At least Dutch didn't have a break-down like the Marcy one.
Noble Bigot with a Badge: Shane, who evolved into this trope after actor Walt Goggins voiced his discomfort to the writers about playing an unashamedly racist and homophobic asshole.
No Communities Were Harmed: Farmington is not a real LA neighborhood. It's a pastiche of Downtown, South Central South Los Angeles, Koreatown, and Compton.
It might be based on Westlake, where the real-life Rampart precinct is based, and borders Downtown and Koreatown.
Not Bad: An understated one when Shane temporarily poses for a gay prostitute and while not hostile, he's clearly not amused. Until one of the prostitutes turns out to be a fellow automobile geek and they spend the rest of the day talking about cars and tuning.
Not so Above It All: Despite being shown to be one of the few honest and moral people on the show, Danny is seen (along with Tina and Corrine Mackey) making a special trip to an illegal store selling knock-off designer bags the day before the shop is to be raided and shut down by the police.
Also, Captian David Acaveda. Despite being a moderately decent person stuck running a precinct with a corrupt anti-gang task force he inherited from the previous captain that he can't get rid of, to protect his political ambitions he will pretty much do anything, including freak Vic Mackey out with his brutal beatdown of a mob connected flunky who is blackmailing him, to cover his own ass. Not to mention the lengths he went to get revenge upon the men who sexually assaulted him.
Not So Different: The ending of the season six episode "Chasing Ghosts", which featured Shane playing this card when confronted by Vic over the issue of him murdering Lem, evokes this when Shane accuses Vic of hypocrisy over him condemning Shane for murdering a fellow cop when Vic himself did the exact same thing.
Odd Couple: Vic and Captain/City Councilman Acaveda, once they start teaming up on a regular basis as well as Dutch/Clauette
Only Sane Man: Lem, and to a lesser extent Ronnie often fills this role within the Strike Team. Possibly Claudette, but her various moments of sanity ultimately are negated by a lot of the questionable decisions she makes (such as firing Kevin Hiatt for actually being a goody-goody and not a faux goody-goody who would get his hands dirty for Claudette so she could look good to her superiors).
Out of Focus: Alot of the non Strike Team characters, save for Dutch and Claudette, go through this eventually. Aceveda gets this for a while starting in season 4 but he comes back into play in seasons 6 and 7, albeit in a much less important way than at the shows start. Danny sort of Zig Zags this trope in most seasons after season 1. Julian probably got hit hardest with this trope and a bad case of Aborted Arc (his homosexuality) going from getting a lot of Character Focus in the first 3 seasons to having the least plot importance of any original character during the last 4 seasons.
Precision F-Strike: Not quite, as the f-word was not allowed on FX, but when Dutch drives by Danny's house (after she had spurned his offer to help her study for her Detective's exam), only to see her let Vic in the house, for non-studying purposes, Dutch lets out a perfectly enunciated "You've gotta be shittin' me!".
Said line later became a running gag, as far as various characters saying it whenever something bad happens. As for the F-word, ironically Shawn Ryan DID get it cleared for a single usage in season three but the Janet Jackson Nipplegate scandal deepsixed it).
Although The F-word is used several times in the video game of the series.
Pyrrhic Villainy: Vic's final fate. While he ends up with a better job in federal law enforcement and full immunity for his sins, his victory is hollow. Vic has betrayed all of his friends, who are either dead or now rotting in jail. While his ex-wife has taken extreme steps to make sure Vic can never come near her or their children again, his mistress is moving heaven and earth to make sure Vic can never come near their son and daughter, who will inevitably learn all about what a monster their father was. Furthermore, Vic's biggest strength (his charisma and people skills) have been permanently tarnished, due to the fact that his Karma Houdini required him to confess to all of his sins and as such, everyone knows now that he murdered a fellow law enforcement officer and betrayed one of his proteges in exchange for said immunity. And while he still has a job in law enforcement, the show portrays it as a three year prison sentence. He's working for people who can't stand the sight of him and intend to make his life such hell - so he'll void his immunity deal. On the other hand, if he lasts out The Punishment...
The Punishment: Vic, for all of his sins and magnificent bastardom and success at manipulating everyone around him, is rewarded by being given a job as a Federal Law Enforcement Agent, with his supervisor (the one who was bamboozled into giving Vic immunity for his laundry list of sins and said job as an Agent of the US Government) having to neutralize the monster she empowered by giving him a cushy, if not unimportant, desk job for at least three years to keep him off the streets. It's also stated that, on top of her own duties, said supervisor will have to devote the next three years of her life, micromanaging Vic in order to make sure he stays neutered as well as bait him into quitting/committing an offense that would void his job contract/immunity deal, since if Vic manages to somehow last in his job for the agreed upon three years, his immunity becomes irrevocable and he can never ever be held accountable for his crimes.
Rabid Cop: All four members of the Strike Team themselves, to varying degrees.
Rape as Drama: Aceveda's rape is played deadly serious with all the emotional trauma it would produce. Aceveda starts beating a prostitute in an attempt to reclaim his masculinity, and then makes a deal with Antwon Mitchell to have the rapist murdered in prison.
Season three was the season of rape as drama, as Dutch's main storyline for the season was his pursuit of a serial rapist who targetting elderly women for rape.
Reality Ensues: When Wagenbach and Wyms discover that a city Public Defender was a drug addict. Revealing that she was on drugs would open up virtually her entire backlog of clients to appeal for Ineffective Assistance of Counsel relief. Dutch warns Claudette not to do it, but she does anyway, and the resulting fallout turns almost the entire LAPD against her.
Reality Subtext: On numerous DVD commentaries, Shawn Ryan has stated that the character of Detective Dutch Wagenbach is largely based off of the real life/personality of Jay Karnes, the actor who plays the character. This has led to much teasing between Ryan and Karnes (who are long-time friends) on the DVD commentaries, whenever Ryan points out that just about every failed relationship the character Dutch has over the run the series is based (loosely) off of a real life failed relationship Karnes had.
Also, the fact that Vic Mackey's daughter Cassidy is played by Michael Chiklis's real life daughter Autumn Chiklis.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Shane (Red Oni) and Ronnie (Blue Oni); Shane is impulsive and often seen wearing a red leather jacket, while Ronnie is quiet and interverted, and wore blue.
Red Shirt: Subverted with Ronnie, who kept surviving near-fatal incidents that would have killed most background characters over the course of the series.
Retcon: In Season 1, it's mentioned that Vic's daughter Cassidy is 7. A few seasons later (4 or 5), it's mentioned that she is now 11. But in Season 5, it's acknowledged that it's only been two years since Terry was killed in the first episode.
Retired Bad Ass: Subverted with Vic's old mentor, played by Carl Weathers. Vic is initially eager to ride with him again, but it later turns out that he's using Vic because he was forced out of the LAPD years ago without a pension, and has become a down-on-his-luck loser.
Ripped from the Headlines: The ultimate fate of the Vendrell family was inspired by the real life murder-murder-suicide of Chris Benoit to his own family.
Additionally, Shawn Ryan has admitted to stealing plot ideas from Rotton.com when it comes to the crime of the week plotlines.
And of course, the Strike Team was inspired by the horrific Rampart scandal involving the LAPD's C.R.A.S.H. unit. Early previews/teasers for the series had even given it the title "Rampart".
The Rival: Dutch vs Vic. While the show technically switched horses in season two with Claudette replacing Dutch as Vic's main rival, the two remained heated rivals even after said dynamic retooling. And while he was denied the chance to have the last laugh against Vic himself, Dutch does score points for successfully turning Vic's ex-wife against him and pretty much setting into motion the events that renders Vic's Karma Houdini an empty, self-destructive victory by getting Corrine full-immunity before Vic could, as well as coming up with the plan to put her into witness protection to protect her from Vic.
Sacrificial Lamb: Both Ronnie and Lem (a fact that is lampshaded in the "end of series" montage during the final credits)
Det. Terry Crowley, shot by Vic in the first episode as well
Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: During season one, Vic Mackey used his close relationship with Assistant Chief Gilroy to do whatever he wanted, including defy the authority of Captain Acaveda, who was Vic's superior officer. This was displayed most notably in the pilot: Vic engages in outright insubordination, in front of his fellow officers, towards Captain Acaveda when Acaveda attempts to give Vic an order. Furthermore, the pilot (and later episodes in season one) established that Vic's relationship with Gilroy made it impossible for Acaveda to fire Vic, let alone get Internal Affairs to investigate the Strike Team since Gilroy would squash any attempts to investigate Vic.
This is later lovingly subverted with in season five, when the new Assistant Chief (having replaced the corrupt Gilroy) basically tells Vic that the Detective pissed off so many people off within the department, that he was being officially designated for forced early retirement and that NO ONE will lift a finger to save Vic from being forced out.
This was repeated in the final season, in a moment when Vic fucks up and gets his thirty day reprieve reduced to seven days. When his lawyer tells him that the only option left was to have Claudette Wyms (Vic's nemesis) intervene by pleading the case to the review board as to why Vic should stay a cop, Vic made the following comparision to his lawyer about the likely hood that Claudette would do so: he asked the lawyer if he could take his wife out of town for the weekend so that he could fuck her brains out and seduce her into leaving her husband in order to shack up with him, as far as summing up how much Claudette hates Vic and how she wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire as far as saving his career.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Usually Ronnie's response to Shane in the later seasons, when Shane tries to convince Ronnie to betray Vic and join forces with him.
Vic does this to Shane in season six, when Shane throws Terry's murder in Vic's face.
Also fandom being split between Ronnie and Lem versus Shane and Vic as far as which members of the Strike Team were worthy of redemption/deserving to survive the series with their badges and lives intact and which ones should fry in the electric chair for their crimes.
The show's ending also falls into this trope: some fans take the idealism approach that Vic's beaten and will spend the next three years in pure hell and ultimately end up with no job, no prospects, and pretty much forever rejected by family and friends. Others however take the cynical approach to the ending: Vic will somehow, by force of will and charisma, rise from his ashes and not only neutralize those inside ICE that will make his life hell, but make new allies who will ensure he not only returns to working in the field, but also gets to stay a Federal Agent once his three years are up.
Smug Snake: Shane, Claudette, and Billings qualify as the biggest examples. Subverted with Acaveda and Vic, as both men generally have better track records than the other three.
Sociopathic Hero: All four members of the Strike Team are arguably these, to varying degrees (Shane and Vic are on the extreme end of the spectrum, while Ronnie and Lem are on the more tame end of the spectrum).
Stepford Smiler: Claudette (tries her best to keep Dutch from finding out about her failed career as a professional dancer, the fact that her daughter abandoned her husband to run off with another man, and her lupus) and Corrine (who spends the series desperately trying to cling to the illusion of a normal, if not divorced family for her children, until her husband's crimes are exposed to her by Mara is graphic detail and she is forced, against her will, by Shane and Mara, to aide their escape from the police).
Shane as well, to the extent that the need to maintain the mask drives him to the brink of madness and ultimately to murder his family and himself, to ensure his children never find out what monsterous things he did.
True Companions: The Strike Team members consider themselves family/brothers with Vic as the Papa Bear Protector of the group. Needless to say, this ends up being subverted in the end as the entire team ends up turning against each other and Vic selling the rest of the team down the river for immunity.
A straighter example would be Claudette and Dutch. They bicker constantly like a married couple, but they're always there for each other.
In fact, twofers become a common plot point because of the racial politics in the LAPD.
Type Casting: Subverted; the series helped destroy the public image of Michael Chiklis as the stern but lovable father figure that had been hung around his neck since his early 90s series The Commish ended.
It also helped give Anthony Anderson's career new life by showing him being capable of playing dramatic roles. In particular, Anderson personally credits The Shield for landing his current job on Law and Order.
Ronnie, is made to be the fall guy for Vic's crimes due to the immunity deal Vic struck behind his back. Had he not fled or been the least bit suspicious of Vic, he might have been able to escape his fate or at the very least found a way to drag Vic down into hell with him via exploiting the massive hole in Vic's confession that was Vic omitting pretty much everything that happened in seasons four and five.
ICE Agent Olivia Murray is a big time example too. Vic cons her into giving him full immunity from all of his crimes and a job as a federal agent.
A random parolee, who the Strike Team frames with some of the Money Train cash because he happens to have family in Indio, where Mara had sent some of the marked bills. He is ultimately tortured to death by the Armenian Mob for a crime he never even knew about.
Utopia Justifies the Means: To try and bring an end to crime in Farmington, Monica Rawlings revives the controversial concept of assest forfiture, meaning anything bought with the procedes derived from criminal activities will be seized by the police. Needless to say, this pretty much makes Rawlings horribly unpopular within community and within the LAPD.
Vic Mackey at the end of season one when his family leaves him. Subverted in the series finale however, as Vic (upon realizing that Claudette has decided to settle for watching Vic Mackey break down under the guilt of the murder-murder-suicide of the Vendrell family, responds by breaking the closed circuit camera Claudette was using to watch said breakdown.
In truth, Shane starts on one the moment Vic shoots Terry in the first episode, and finishes it seven seasons later.
Xanatos Speed Chess: Vic Mackey's biggest survival skill, as Vic is able to survive for seven seasons by large due to the fact that he is able to think on his feet and talk his enemies into fighting against each other rather than killing him.
You Have 48 Hours: Nearly all of Season 7 is Vic either giving or receiving these ultimatums.
You Are Too Late: After seven seasons of turning a blind eye to Vic Mackey's corruption, Claudette Wyms finally goes after Vic after his ex-wife turns to Claudette with airtight evidence of his illegal activities as well as catching Ronnie Gardocki, Vic's partner on tape for aiding and abedding. Sadly, in typical Claudette fashion, she doesn't seize the timing as far as flipping Ronnie for his testimony against Vic or arresting Vic on the spot. By the time she finally gives the order to arrest Vic, it's too late: Vic has used the delays to secure a Federal immunity deal, resulting in Claudette arriving mid-confession as Vic has already signed the paperwork.She gets one hell of a consolation prize, though