Series: Utopia

"It's a graphic novel. It's about a scientist who makes a deal with the devil."

"Where is Jessica Hyde?"
Arby

Utopia is a Science Fiction Conspiracy Thriller broadcast on Channel 4. The action, set in the present day, follows four members of an online forum who come into posession of an original manuscript for the long-awaited second volume of a graphic novel, written by a Reclusive Artist in a mental asylum who died before it could be published. However, when the fifth member of their group is murdered by a pair of psychotic assassins, the rest find themselves on the run while trying to figure out what deep dark secret hidden in the manuscript could be so important.

Also embroiled in the conspiracy are hapless civil servant Michael Dugdale, torn between covering up his bosses' schemes and working against them, and an enigmatic Dark Action Girl and Sociopathic Hero Hyde, who wants the manuscript for her own reasons, and who also seems to be of considerable interest to the aforementioned hitmen.

A US remake created by David Fincher and Gillian Flynn and directed by Fincher is set to premiere on HBO. The original show was unfortunately cancelled by Channel 4 in 2014 after two seasons.

Not to be confused with the Fox reality show or the Australian comedy.


This show provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Jessica and Arby's childhoods are shown to be quite horrific.
  • Adorkable: Ian.
  • Affably Evil: Lots of people.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Arby.
  • Animal Motifs: Various allusions to rabbits abound and the Big Bad is known as Mr. Rabbit. Arby (real name Pietre - "Peter" and Jessica Hyde are revealed to be siblings. Peter and Jessica...Rabbit. And humans do breed like rabbits...
  • Anti-Hero: Virtually all of the main cast (save for the villains):
    • Ian, Becky and Wilson over the course of the series, use methods of kidnapping, breaking & entering, forceful interrogations edging towards Jack Bauer levels, eventually become Pragmatic Heroes. Becky realises it, and is horrified by what they're becoming. Wilson, however eventually does a Face-Heel Turn.
    • Jessica Hyde is an Unscrupulous Hero, even edging towards Nominal Hero, taking Grant away from the group and having him drink liquor to reveal the location of the manuscript. Her desire to stop the Network is less over for concern for the world and more of a big case of It's Personal.
    • Dudgale fits the Classical Anti-Hero mold, constantly being screwed over by the Network over what he knows.
  • Anti-Villain: Arguably, the entirety of the Network. They're attempting to sterilise 90% of the planet in order to hopefully avert poverty, war and starvation on an unprecedented scale.
  • Arc Words: "Where is Jessica Hyde?" When Arby starts asking this, the audience and our heroes have no idea who Jessica Hyde is.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Donaldson is on the run from the Network during the whole show, but he is such a jerk, manipulating and double-crossing everyone for petty gain, that it is really hard to sympathize with him. In season 2, he is so unsufferable than nobody (both viewers and in-universe characters) really feel sorry when he is finally killed by the Network.
    • Geoff also gets what he deserves in the Series 2 finale.
  • Ass Shove: Dugdale asks Jessica how he's supposed arrange a rescue attempt of his wife and adopted daughter where they're held when the place checks for items on his person. Jessica tells him to shove it up his arse. She was being serious.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The show ended on a season two cliffhanger. While the original flu plot has been averted, the Network has a back-up plan, and most of our heroes are captured. Only Pietre awakening gives hope for a possible comeback.
  • Beard of Evil: Letts' assistant sports a bizarre tiny goatee.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In the second episode of season two, Ian has grown visibly bored with going back to his normal life, and it's implied that his search for Becky is the only exciting thing he's got going for him. At the end of episode, he's found Becky...and is now back on the run with her and Grant.
  • Becoming the Mask: Wilson takes on the identity of Mr. Rabbit - complete with replicating the cuts on his skin - at the end of series two.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Between Ian and Becky, at first. Interestingly, it's only after they get the tension out of the way through sex that they begin to talk honestly about their feelings for each other, and their relationship slowly develops.
  • Big Bad: Mr Rabbit, aka Milner.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Arby/Pietre in the second episode of season two.
  • Black and Grey Morality: By the truckload.
  • Black Comedy: Season two has Donaldson being chased by Network agents...while tied to a former rival claiming to be an expert on Deels Syndrome, that he tried to blackmail. Said man collapses and has a heart attack as Donaldson is trying to run for his life.
  • Blatant Lies: In the fifth episode of series two, Geoff claims that someone is blackmailing The Network for 20 million in cash, and his evidence for this is the message written in newsprint. When Wilson asks Geoff whether the 'blackmailer' wants it in sterling, he then points out how ludicrous the request was because the accumulated weight of the (50) notes would weigh half a ton, which would require a van at least to transfer.
  • Break the Cutie: Alice goes from being an innocent (if somewhat foul-mouthed) schoolgirl to a traumatized murderer within a few days.
  • Call Back: Wilson experiences some Sanity Slippage and threatens to kill Letts for being a part of organisation that killed his father, he then rants to Ian after he tries to stop him: "I've lost someone, Becky's lost someone, WHO HAVE YOU FUCKING LOST?!" The next season, Ian's brother is killed by Wilson (without the others knowing), and in his conversation with Ian, he says "At least now you've lost someone." Becky and Ian react with disgust.
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: Arby, with his complete lack of social skills, does this. It's actually a ruse to retrieve his hidden pistol.
    Arby: I need to do... the other one. There might be some noises.
  • Car Fu: Arby flattens two Network agents.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Wilson's ability to dislocate his thumbs.
  • The Chessmaster: Mr. Rabbit.
  • Children Are Innocent: Averted. By the end of the series, both Alice and Grant have killed someone.
  • Clear My Name:
    • Grant is falsely accused of carrying out a school shooting. Ian and Becky are also accused of child molestation when the Network tracks their forum names to their real identities. Subverted in Anya's case.
    • In Series 2, Ian is the main suspect of the murder of his IT boss, which was actually carried out by Lee. Later, he is wanted for the murder of his own brother, who was actually killed by Wilson.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl:
    • Becky has shades of this to Ian, regarding Jessica Hyde. Because the latter keeps stringing him along, Becky mockingly asks him if he's attracted to tough women. Ian insists there's no attraction between him and Jessica (or at least not on his part).
    • Surprisingly, this trope is also invoked by Milner, concerning Jessica Hyde. From the moment she was born, Philip Carvel loved her completely, more than enough for him to have his doubts about the Network. When she captures Jessica at the end of season one, she takes especial delight in telling her that Janus was inside her ("Can't you feel Daddy's love inside you?"). And in episode five of season two, when Carvel reveals that he altered Janus so that Jessica would survive and carry on humanity...
    :Milner:..You did this for her?
  • Cold Equation: Everyone involved with The Network believes that the human population needs to be drastically reduced in order to prevent the extinction of the species.
  • Color Motif: Bright, vivid and solid colors of blue, yellow, green and sometimes red are seen in the setting and sometimes in the costumes.
  • Colour Wash: The cinematography is highly over-saturated, in-keeping with the comic book medium.
  • The Conspiracy: The Network and 'Janus'.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Wilson Wilson. Though given that a shadowy cartel of politicians, scientists and cold war spies are in fact secretly planning to sterilise the World he has good reason to be paranoid.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: In the first episode, Bejan's murder is disguised as a suicide. Also, mains gas isn't actually poisonous so the deaths at the comic shop from Lee's Deadly Gas should have been immediately suspicious.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Conran Letts and his assistant, who run Corvadt entirely as a front for Network operations.
    • The American executive who is paid by the Network to modify corn in specific ways. He doesn't seem to know much about the conspiracy, simply accepting the money and doing as he's told.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Jessica tells Ian, Becky and Wilson essentially this after first meeting them. Later, in Series 2 it's Arby that pulls this.
  • Cosy Catastrophe: The Network state that they're trying to bring about the end of the world as quietly and humanely as possible in order to avert a bigger collapse, although numerous people state that it will still cause a global meltdown. When it's revealed that the flu will actually kill hundreds of millions of people, some members of the Network have second thoughts, but not all of them, and they're still committed to the greater concept.
  • CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): When Becky takes poison, Ian revives her with CPR. She pukes, but is almost immediately fine afterwards.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Wilson, Jessica, the Network and Arby.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: For all of his complete lack of empathy, social skills, diction and personal hygeine, Arby proves to be scarily competent and tracking and anticipating people.
  • Cut-and-Paste Note: Geoff attempts to Blackmail The Network with a note made from the newspaper headlines calling for him to step down. It does not fool them for a second.
    Leah: Newsprint. How very traditional.
  • Cutting the Knot: Jessica's low-tech way of bypassing the keypad in the Series 1 finale.
  • Daddy's Girl: Jessica Hyde. Her father loved her enough that he's willing to wipe away everyone who isn't of Roma blood off the planet... just so she can be protected.
    :Carvel: My love for Jessica was like a physical thing... an organ that didn't exist until she was born. And then it controlled... everything.
  • Dark Action Girl: Jessica Hyde is ruthless and quite skilled at combat.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Becky. Philip Carvel.
  • Death by Childbirth: Carvel's wife after she gives birth to their second child, Jessica. Milner's presence - and her words - when Philip gets the news suggest something more sinister at play.
  • Decoy Leader: Letts' unnamed assistant is a decoy for the real Mr. Rabbit, even going so far as to give himself the same disfiguring scars. And that's after we're led to believe that Letts is the one in charge.
  • Determinator:
    • Jessica Hyde and Arby.
    • Terrence in the Season 2 finale.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Milner/Mr. Rabbit, who dies while she's being cradled by Philip Carvel.
  • Dirty Coward: Donaldson's involvement in uncovering the plot and retrieving the manuscript is shown to be solely so he can broker a deal with The Network in exchange for enough money for him to live the rest of his life comfortably. He goes home empty-handed but denies Becky access to medication.
  • Dismantled Macguffin: The manuscript for the second Utopia comic is actually (amongst other things) a jigsaw detailing the chemical composition of Janus. Naturally, the heroes keep a few pages to themselves.
  • Double Agent: Milner, though at the end she's revealed to be a double reverse quadruple agent.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • Geoff tries to make Dugdale an offer by giving him a copy of his confession of the Network's existence, while he goes into hiding in Brazil, and later his family. He promises Dugdale 10 million pounds, but when Dugdale realises his family isn't protected by Geoff's plan, he literally kicks the shit out of him, and tells where to shove his offer, and go back to the Network, saying if he threatens his family again, he'll personally kill him.
    • Wilson gets this in Season 1, when he shoots his torturer, Lee. When he finds Lee is alive in Series 2, it's shown he's still traumatised from the encounter and fears him, until the penultimate episode, when he asserts his authority over him, and in the finale, when he executes him.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Season one: Milner reveals herself to be Mr. Rabbit all along, and succeeds in capturing Jessica Hyde, who had been carrying Janus inside her blood all along - with everyone else unaware of this. Becky's Deel Syndrome triggers and she flees from Ian and Grant. Wilson Wilson has done a Face-Heel Turn and been left to die.
    • The season two ending is arguably worse. Wilson assumes command of the Network as the new Mr. Rabbit, even going so far as to make the same cuts on his stomach that Milner had, and is going ahead with the plan to release the Russian flu pathogen on a smaller scale. Dugdale faces even more scrutiny (cameras installed in his home) and is once more under the Network's thumb with his family being threatened. Philip Carvel, Ian, Becky and Jessica are all captured by the Network. Arby/Pietre wakes up in the hospital as armed thugs are capturing everyone, but his fate is unknown.
  • Dragon-in-Chief:
    • Letts' assistant, who actually has a much more important role in the Network than his apparent boss, even though he's not actually Mr. Rabbit, just a decoy.
    • Played straight with Wilson.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Arby. And with good reason.
    Lee: Nothing scares me. Nothing in the world. Except him.
    • Jessica Hyde is this as well. Even Milner is terrified of her, Leah thinks twice about calling her "dear" after she threatens to cut her face off, and even Lee after stating the quote above finds out how wrong he is, when stops his attempt to murder Arby while he's still in a coma, when Jessica threatened to kill him.
    • Terrence, one of the three sleeper agents the Network trained to release Russian flu, is this among even members of the Network. Dobri Gorski, the man who trained him, committed a violent murder just to ensure he's held in the most secure police station, believed even that wouldn't protect him from him. Likely extends to the two other Sleeper Agents as well.
  • Eagleland Osmosis: When Milner wants Donaldson dead in S 02 E 02, she sends Pietre/Arby and orders Lee to also send "a SWAT team", despite SWAT teams being American units, Milner being a MI-5 agent and the whole show being set in the UK.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The Network are trying to bring this about by means of a Depopulation Bomb to create a World Half Empty.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The school shooting in episode 3 has this effect on several Network members. It is this event that causes Arby to start questioning his loyalty, leading to his Heel Face Turn, while Letts is visibly reluctant to give the order and has to be talked into it by his assistant.
    • In the flashback of the season two premiere, Milner is shocked when Philip tells her that Pietre's behavior - which led to him being arrested for child endangerment by his wife - is due to experiments he performed on him. His only excuse being Pietre was the only human test subject he had on hand.
    • Milner/Mr. Rabbit's assistant in the flashback episode. When Carvel implies that Janus would only work on people with 'certain' racial/genetic traits, he gets very offended and compares Carvel's work to The Third Reich. Becomes somewhat ironic in season two where we learn that Carvel was influenced by being a victim of the Third Reich.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Dugdale manages to turn the tables on his blackmailers by obtaining evidence that the Russian flu outbreak is actually a mass poisoning carried out by the Network. Using this new leverage, he negotiates a deal whereby he will stay quiet in exchange for a substantial annual stipend, which helps to convince them that he doesn't pose a threat to their plan.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Tramp. But to be fair, he's hiding his identity and real name.
  • Evil Inc.: Corvadt, the pharmaceutical company manufacturing the Russian flu vaccine. Season 2 also has the Rochane Foundation, an NGO underwriting the cost of the vaccine for countries that can't afford it.
  • Eye Scream: Lee's torture method of choice: chilis, sand, bleach and a spoon. Applied to the victim's eyes in that order.
  • Fat Slob: Arby, his paunch accentuated by a much-too-small leather jacket. When he's not scoffing chocolate raisins, he's wolfing down fry-ups, and the constant wheezing of his troubled breathing is quite unsettling. He has Hidden Depths. He changes his diet in between seasons 1 and 2 and loses some weight, although he still eats the raisins.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Much of Geoff's schtick.
  • Fictional Document: The eponymous The Utopia Experiments graphic novel.
  • Fingore: Dugdale retrieves some fingers severed from corpses in Fetlar for testing.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In episode 2, Wilson realises the others have gave him heroin for pain relief, leading to this exchange that foreshadows the purpose of Janus.
    Wilson: Did you pricks give me heroin?
    Ian: We had to. For the pain.
    Wilson: Oh. Well, I hope it wasn't Afghan. Taliban have been altering it for years to make us infertile.
    • Donaldson offhandedly mentions that he indeed does like cocaine and prostitutes when the viewer is introduced to him. The series 2 finale reveals what Becky's medication actually was.
    • In the flashback episode, Milner asks Philip Carvel if he has ever been in a genocide, as she has. The fourth episode of the second series has Anton, who is Carvel reveal that his backstory is tied to the Holocaust, and that the adjustment to Janus will affect almost all of the world's population, and will kill them, sparing only the Roma people.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Mr. Omida, the Torture Technician.
  • Frame-Up: Grant is eventually framed by the Network for a massacre at a primary school by digitally altering the CCTV footage of Arby committing the act. As Jessica points out, it is not designed to hold up in a court, but it makes Grant a fugitive, and that much easier to apprehend him.
  • Gaia's Lament: Letts mentions that a third of arable land is now unusable due to overfarming.
  • Gender Misdirection: Mr. Rabbit
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Played very straight. The Network have been working on two seemingly innocuous genetic triggers that, when combined in a human, render them infertile, effectively creating a Genetic Depopulation Atom Bomb.
  • Genre Blind: Ian.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Jessica exemplifies this by insisting that the other characters cut off all contact with their loved ones and constantly berating them for their stupidity, and she succeeds in keeping them alive. However her tendency of killing people who she believes are a liability is a step too far for Ian. On a number of occasions, she threatens to kill or seriously injure the members of the group if they step out of line. Indeed, she stabs Wilson in an instant the second he let his guard down. Though by that point, Wilson had already made a Face-Heel Turn, and was pointing a gun towards her.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • Only two of the school shooting deaths are shown, and only one in detail. The others happen off screen, with the final one being a Sound-Only Death over the title.
    • We don't get to see Wilson carving the Chinese symbol for 'Rabbit' on his stomach at the end of the second series, but we hear him screaming throughout and get to see the finished work.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Network has at least one UK cabinet minister and a shitload of people in the police and secret service on their side.
  • Greaser Delinquents: For whatever reason, Lee dresses like a Teddy Boy.
  • Guinea Pig Family:
    • Long-lost siblings Jessica and Arby/Pietre were both experimented on by their father.
    • Also implied with Milner, whose son has Deels syndrome. If the person we see in her house is actually her son anyway...
  • Handicapped Badass: Wilson becomes this after losing an eye to Lee, and even manages to shoot him whilst completely blind.
  • Hannibal Has a Point: The Network's plan is obviously extreme and completely unethical — evil on an unprecedented scale. But whenever they are asked point-blank if there is any other way to prevent catastrophic overpopulation, the good characters can only come up with unconvincing "we're doing our best!"-type arguments, if that. Horrible though it may be, the reasoning behind it convinces Wilson to do a Face Heel Turn, despite the fact that the Network murdered his innocent father.
  • Happily Adopted:
    • Dugdale eventually adopts Alice after the death of her mother.
    • Grant becomes the newest addition to the Dugdale household at the end of the second series.
  • Harmful to Minors: Poor, poor Alice...
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Subverted; given the extent of The Network's, er, network, Wilson sends details of the conspiracy to dozens of authority figures and organisations. Double Subverted when it's revealed he never sent it at all.
  • Heel Face Door Slam: In the second season finale, Wilson tries to ingratiate his way back into the group, hoping that he can be redeemed from murdering Ian's brother. When his overtures of friendship are rebuffed by Ian and Becky, he goes the complete opposite direction and eventually becomes the de facto head of the Network by the end of the episode.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Arby after he reads the manuscript and finds the truth about his traumatic past.
  • Heel Realisation:
    • Philip Carvel has one in the Season 2 premiere after he processes what it is he's done, and refuses to hand over Janus.
    • Arby has this after starting to question his lack of empathy and discovering the truth about his upbringing.
  • Heroic BSOD: After Alice's mother is killed and she's forced to go on the run, all she can think about is how her essay on Crime and Punishment will be late.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Becky realizes this, saying, "We're scary. That's what we've become. We're just like them now."
  • Historical Rap Sheet: At the start of season two, it is revealed that The Network is behind the assassinations of Aldo Moro, Mino Pecorelli, Richard Sykes, Airey Neave and the bombing of TWA Flight 841.
  • Hookers and Blow: Some of Donaldson's preferred vices.
    Donaldson: "All I know was within the next few weeks, I was embroiled in a sex scandal. 'Professor Pervert', addicted to coke and prostitutes."
    Michael: "So did they just set you up?"
    Donaldson: "Yeah. Well... no, I do like cocaine and prostitutes, but they didn't have to tell anyone."
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Anya is a massive subversion.
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: For whatever reason, assassins Lee and Arby walk around with a bright yellow bag.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The Network are big believers in this. They don't think there's any reasonable way the human race will stop breeding past the planet's ability to support them, and fear poverty and war once resources start to run out. Our heroes don't exactly do a bang-up job of proving them wrong.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Philip Carvel - who survived the horrors of the Holocaust as a child - designed Janus to sterilize people with certain genetic/racial traits, which would leave his fellow Roma alive to carry on humanity if unleashed.
    • Network operative Terrence meets a woman in a coach bus waiting area who is on her way to France with her son. When she tells him they are travelling by bus instead of by plane for environmental reasons, he asks her why she decided to have a child in the first place, since his lifetime carbon footprint will be the equivalent of nearly six and a half thousand flights to Paris.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender: Donaldson, who described himself as a rising star at Corvadt, was Reassigned to Antarctica after he revealed that SARS was not a real epidemic. His desire for a more flamboyant lifestyle is what pushes him to sell out.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • Jessica kills anyone who could possibly be used by the Network to find her. Ian calls her out on this, and she coldly informs him that if they leave witnesses behind they'll be dead within the week.
    • Dugdale informs the Network when Ian, Alice and Grant turn up at his door looking for help, which leads to Grant's capture. His other choice would have led to his wife being raped and his pregnant lover kept in jail indefinitely. He feels guilty about his decision, even moreso when he finds out the truth about Anya.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...:
    • Arby/Pietre convinces the group to trust him, and specifically Donaldson when he points out he could have "neutralised" him if he was still with the Network...he still sells him out to them, to ensure the safety of his girlfriend and his daughter.
    • Dugdale tells Jessica Hyde that he's not with The Network willingly, to which she replies she knows he's telling the truth otherwise she'd have just killed him.
  • I Have Your Wife: The Network regularly gets what it wants out of people by threatening their loved ones, including Dugdale's wife and both Grant and Alice's mothers. It happens to Dugdale again in Season 2, with The Network holding both Dugdale's wife and Alice in a cell at an undisclosed location, forcing him to cooperate with them. He manages to break them out, but is later betrayed by Wilson, who threatens to kill each of Dugdale's loved ones in a specific order unless he goes along with his new plan.
  • Ill Girl: Becky, who's suffering from the same disease (Deels' Syndrome, which combines epilepsy and locked-in syndrome) that killed her father. Subverted at the end of series two, with the revelation that she never had Deels' Syndrome, and the drug she was taking was an opiate concocted by Donaldson.
  • Improvised Weapon: Grant fashions a shiv from one of the maintenance panels on a laptop and uses it to kill the decoy Mr. Rabbit.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Milner incriminates herself by revealing that she knows Ian is travelling with Becky in Series 2.
  • Insufferable Genius: Philip Carvel. At first.
  • I Warned You: When they live in someone else's house, Jessica warns Becky, Ian and Winston not to take a shower or a bath because they have to be ready to leave at any time. Becky finally takes a bath and, of course, the family owning the house returns at that precise time.
  • Irrevocable Order: Milner orders one of her Sleeper Agents to release Russian flu even with the knowledge that the vaccine doesn't work. Wilson halts his attempt to shoot her when she reveals only she knows who the agent is and can reverse it...only she is killed by Grant.
  • Jerkass:
    • Jessica is a generally unpleasant person. Though, with the life she had, it's hardly a surprise. Donaldson, however has little excuse for being a dick.
    • Donaldson's dickishness is taken Up to Eleven in the second series finale, where it's revealed that the drugs he'd been giving Becky to manage her disease were nothing but a combination of heroin and caffeine.
  • Knight Templar: All the people working for The Network.
  • Lack of Empathy: Arby and Jessica, both of whom were experimented on as children by their father, turning them into remorseless killers. They both make progress by the end of season two.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: While Dugdale and his wife struggle to conceive using IVF treatments, he accidentally impregnates a prostitute on the side. Subverted when she turns out to be a Network agent sent undercover to create the necessary conditions for blackmailing him (and whose pregnancy is most likely fake).
  • Leave No Witnesses: The Network doesn't like loose ends, so they kill anyone who knows anything about them, even old members of their organisation, so that no-one can figure out what they're up to.
  • Like a God to Me: Philip Carvel is this to Milner.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Like Thomas More's Utopia (1516), the show describes the seemingly incurable problems caused by the current social order and presents a radically different alternative as the solution to those problems. Both works present different points of view without clearly articulating the author's own stance.
  • Living MacGuffin: It is eventually revealed that Carvill hid Janus inside his daughter, Jessica Hyde, and that finding the manuscript was only the secondary goal of the Network.
  • Loss of Identity: Wilson had dedicated himself so much to the Network's cause over the course of Series 2, that he's no longer recognisable to his former friends, and eventually to himself. He comes to shed his former identity, and take up the name of 'Mr. Rabbit'.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Milner's love for Philip Carvel invokes this trope. He is forgiven by her for doing things (trying to leak Janus to the press on more than one occasion) that would have any other person killed by the Network. After Jessica is born, he's allowed to keep the baby. And when he reveals that his 'adjustment' to Janus nullifies the vaccine for Russian flu - meaning that 98% of humanity would be sterile and then die horribly and quickly, as opposed to the Network's original plan of 95% of humanity dying quietly over a generation or two - she still goes ahead with the plan.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Anton aka Philip Carvel believes this is often true.
  • Lzherusskie: Anya's accent and speech borders on You No Take Candle. She's not Russian, nor a prostitute.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: When Ian and Becky try to have sex after a night of drinking.
  • MacGuffin: The manuscript.
  • Mad Artist: Mark Deyn, the author of the titular Utopia graphic novel. Also the Secret Identity of Philip Carvel.
  • Mad Scientist: Philip Carvel.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Letts' assistant is revealed to be the real power behind the throne. And he is just a foil for the real Mr. Rabbit.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Donaldson is revealed to have been one post-mortem: When Becky turned to him after discovering she inherited a mysterious illness, he takes advantage of her by sleeping with her, giving her drugs telling her it was an experimental drug called Thoraxin, when really it was a mildly addictive opiate, slowly turning her into a drug addict, and sending her out to get info on The Network and its plans with the promise of more 'life-saving' drugs (at one point throwing the drugs into the lake knowing she'll come back to him), just so he could get blackmail the Network and get rich.
  • May Contain Evil: The flu vaccine and corn starch.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Jessica Hyde's bears a distinct resemblance to "Jekyll and Hyde," foreshadowing her dual role of good and evil and of being the carrier of Janus, the genetic trigger named after the two-faced god. It also in-universe references the fact that she's hiding from the Network.
    • Milner is also very similar to milliner - someone who makes hats. Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit, anyone?
  • Mega Corp.: Pergus Holdings.
  • Mirror Monologue: Michael Dugdale uses the silent variation in season two, episode three.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Becky by the Romanian interpreter.
    Marius: "That not Romanian. That Romani. Romani? Language of the Roma people? Gypsy people, yes? You racist bastards... you think all Roma is from Romania. Is not! Roma many places: Bulgaria, Poland, Spain. Romani different language, like Welsh to English. Do you speak fucking Welsh?"
    Marius: "Doesn't matter. You're still racist.
    Becky: "But he was speaking Romanian!"
  • Mood Dissonance: In spades. The series combines bright colors, happy music, pastoral surroundings and gory murders.
  • The Mole: Lots of them.
    • Anya, Dugdale's prostitute lover who is supposedly carrying his child, is revealed to have been a Network agent all along. Her kidnapping was faked in order to manipulate Dugdale into helping the Network. It's also heavily implied that she wasn't even pregnant at all.
    • Milner is apparently a Network mole inside MI5, but she also claims she's spying for the Network for the protagonists. Then she turns out to be Mr. Rabbit, making her this all along.
    • Becky is a mole for Donaldson, a scientist who wants to sell the manuscript to the Network. In return, he supplies her with the medication to minimize the fits brought about by the disease she's suffering from. In the end, Becky refuses to give him the manuscript and he throws the drugs into a lake.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution:
    • The Network is a big believer in this. Jessica as well.
    • When Wilson returns to the group in Series 2 working with the Network, he freaks Ian and Becky out by attempting to kill a Sleeper Agent despite him still working at his cover job, and his lashing out when they don't accept his ruthless pragmatism.
  • Mutilation Interrogation:
    • What Lee does to Wilson.
    • What Mr. Omida does to Philip Carvel in the flashback.
  • No Name Given: Letts's assistant. Even the credits only call him "Assistant".
  • No Social Skills: Jessica Hyde and Arby both have a Freudian Excuse for being difficult with people.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: Wilson kills Lee mid-sentence at the end of the series two finale.
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • Lee survived being shot by Wilson with lung and nerve damage, losing motor function in his left arm.
    • Wilson himself is alive after being stabbed by Jessica, and has joined the Network to work with Lee.
    • Anton is revealed to be Philip Carvel.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: There are indications that Arby is more intelligent than he lets on. When he tells Jessica that he's a regular at the roadside diner they're in, she dismisses it as pathetic, transparent nonsense. However, he later pulls a gun on her out of nowhere — a gun he retrieved from a bathroom stall at the diner.
  • Offing the Offspring: In the penultimate episode of season two, Philip Carvel shoots Pietre/Arby in the chest.
  • Only Known by Initials: Arby/R.B., until he learns his real name.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: "Arby" turns out to be a nickname referring to "R.B.," short for "Raisin Boy." His real name is Pietre.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: The distinctive stones owned by Jessica, Arby and Milner all link them to Jessica and Arby's father.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Phillip Carvel, surprisingly. He took one look at Mr. Omida preparing to torture young Jessica, and he killed him on the spot using his own tools.
    • Dugdale beats up Geoff when he realises that the latter wants out of The Network, but won't cover his family, telling him he'll kill him if he threatens his family again.
  • Parental Abandonment: Pietre/Arby. On the night Jessica was born, Philip took one look at him and simply left.
  • Parental Favoritism: Jessica Hyde was the parental favorite, and due to experimentations gone wrong Arby/Pietre was The Unfavorite.
  • Parental Neglect: Grant's alcoholic mother.
  • Pop-Up Texting: In the first episode a group of characters have a conversation on the forum dedicated to a cult Graphic Novel called The Utopia Experiments. Each line of text appears floating next to whoever the camera is focused on. If it is the person that is typing the message, it appears next to their head. At one point, a line text distorts as it passes behind a glass of wine.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Lee describes post-Face-Heel Turn Wilson as this: he can't take life unless he decides that he logically should for The Network's plan to work. For instance, he doesn't kill Lee, who tortured him previously, even while holding has a gun towards him, and the latter is holding a crowbar towards him, because he on some level recognises The Network needs him. Contrasted with Ian's brother and the two MI-5 agents who captured him and know nothing of The Network, heard the sentence "Milner is Mr. Rabbit" by Milner, Wilson reasoned they can't be left alive and so brought himself to kill all three of them.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Wilson goes from trying to stop the Network, to begrudgingly admitting that they're right and join them while still being opposed to some of their more extreme actions, to carrying out murders himself when he believes them necessary, and finally becomes the new leader of the conspiracy.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits:
    • The group is initially composed of people who just happened to be in the online chatroom when Bejan made his announcement; a media/comics student, an office IT worker, a Conspiracy Theorist and a delinquent child.
    • Season two adds more misfits to the group: a remorseless killing machine, a greedy former researcher looking for the big score, and a mentally unstable Romanian scientist who turns out to be Phillip Carvel, the man whose genius and actions started the mess in the first place.
  • Reality Retcon: Donaldson discovered that the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak wasn't actually a viral epidemic, but rather a bunch of unconnected respiratory infections. The Network responded by disgracing and discrediting him so that no one would take him seriously. The Series 2 premiere devoted a major part of its running time to linking real world events to the series' backstory. For example, the assassination of Aldo Moro, the Conservative Party's victory in 1979, the murders of Richard Sykes and Airey Neave, along with the Three Mile Island incident all had involvement with members of the Network.
  • Real Name as an Alias: Despite going to great lengths to ensure he can't be tracked online, Wilson still goes by the username "Wilson Wilson," precisely because it's such an implausible name to begin with.
  • Red Right Hand: Arby's obesity and chronic mouth-breathing give a creepy aspect to his character. Notably he loses weight and closes his mouth after doing his Heel Face Turn.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Arby/Pietre is forced to come back to the Network, after his girlfriend and her daughter are subtly threatened by Lee.
  • Scenery Porn: The over-saturated colors (indeed, like those of a graphic novel) and the carefully selected and framed shots make the visuals one of the best aspects of this series.
  • Secret Government Warehouse
  • Shout-Out: In the Series 2 finale, Becky's hallucination of Marius quotes the chorus of the Die Antwoord single "I Fink U Freeky" ("I think you're freaky and I like you a lot").
  • Shown Their Work: in s02e04, Marius rightly scolds Ian and Becky for mistaking the Roma people with the Romanian, and explains that those are two different things and that not all Roma people come from Romania.
  • Significant Monogram: Arby actually means "R.B.," which stands for "Raisin Boy."
  • Sleeper Agent: The Network has these across five continents, receiving an order for them to move canisters containing Russian flu, release it, and after it's done, killing any relations they live with along with themselves.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Leaning very heavily to the cynical side.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Jessica Hyde, who having narrowed down the identity of Mr Rabbit to one of fourteen people suggests killing all of them just to be on the safe side. The others are all pretty much horrified by this. Granted, a lifetime of abuse and running from people trying to kill you is not the recipe for an empathetic, well-balanced individual and her ruthlessness is the main reason she's managed to survive for so long.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Much of the series' soundtrack is bouncy, almost comedic, horns but underlain with a dark almost dirge-like backbeat.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Jessica for Ian. After they have sex, she slips a mobile phone inside his parka so she can track him down later on.
  • Start of Darkness: The first episode of season two focuses on Philip Carvel and how he first became tangled with Milner.
  • Sterility Plague: The Network plans to use Janus to sterilize 95% of the world's population, to prevent overpopulation and starvation across the world.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: What the Network scientist want to do to Jessica Hyde when she refuses to talk.
  • Taking Up The Mantle:With Milner dead, Wilson becomes Mr. Rabbit.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: One half of Janus is already present in foodstuffs due to a form of corn.
  • That Man Is Dead: Wilson admits as much when he threatens Dugdale's family.
    Dugdale: Don't do this, please! This is not you.
    Wilson: No but... I don't think I am me... anymore.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Wilson
  • The Unfettered: Milner or Mr. Rabbit. Even after learning that the Russian flu vaccine will be rendered useless by Janus, and that millions will die horribly, she still carries out the plan to spread Russian flu. It's partially hinted that her love for Carvel and his work influenced this decision.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Arby and Lee, the hitmen. This only lasts for the first episode, at the end of which Lee is severely wounded. He only appears again briefly in a flashback during episode 2. His absence is one of the first triggers for Arby's Heel Realization.
  • Timeshifted Actor: The series 2 premiere is a Whole Episode Flashback set in the 70's. Milner, Letts's Assistant, Jessica Hyde and Arby are all portrayed by younger actors than they are in the present day.
  • Title Drop: Milner mentions that the goal of Janus is to build Utopia.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Geoff for some reason, thought it was a good idea to "anonymously" blackmail The Network after they throw him under the bus. They give him the money alright, but they coat with poison, and they make his death look like a drug overdose.
  • Took a Level in Badass: All of the civilians involved in uncovering the conspiracy. Ian gets bonus point for killing a Network operative. Grant takes it further by killing two of its top brass.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Jessica and Arby, by Series 2.
  • Torture Technician:
    Lee: Chilis. Sand. Bleach. A spoon.
    • Mr. Omida in the Series 2 premiere.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Arby and chocolate-covered raisins, to the point that Arby means "R.B.," standing for "Raisin Boy." The drug that made him a remorseless killer was given to him in a chocolate-covered raisin.
  • Tragic Villain: Arby the assassin, brainwashed and having had all the empathy beaten out of him by the Network, gradually comes to realise the error of his ways. The fact that he is unable to feel guilty over killing so many people upsets and confuses him, and he unwittingly reveals to Jessica during the cafe scene that he just wants to be normal.
  • Trapped in Villainy: Dugdale is initially blackmailed into buying the vaccine through his relationship with a prostitute whom he's gotten pregnant. Once he rebels and finds out that the flu epidemic is fake, he is shown that his wife is being tailed and will be raped on command if he doesn't comply.
    • When Dugdale is talking to Donaldson about how they are both being blackmailed by The Network, it leads to this amusing exchange:
      Donaldson: All I know was within the next few weeks I was embroiled in a sex scandal. Professor Pervert addicted to coke and prostitutes.
      Dugdale: So did they just set you up?
      Donaldson: Yeah. Well, no. *beat* I.. I do like cocaine and prostitutes but they didn't have to tell anyone.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Pietre/R.B. when he was a baby, after his father experimented on him.
  • The Unfavorite: Pietre/R.B., after the failed experiments his father performed on him.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Milner and Philip Carvel. Even her then-husband Tom calls what's going on between them 'a higher form' of love.
  • Unflinching Walk: Jessica after blowing up a car.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Pretty much the Network's justification for sterilizing 95% of the world's population, believing it to be a merciful alternative to everyone starving to death when food shortages become too great.
    Letts: You accuse us of being genocidal? Not acting is genocide! Where do you think your food comes from Ian? A third of the world's farmland is now useless due to soil degradation. Yet we keep producing more mouths to feed. And what's your answer to that? Energy-saving lightbulbs?
  • Villain Ball: Lee has one with smoking. The first time he tries to light up, he's standing next to an open gas main and nearly blows himself and Arby up. The second time, he gives away his position in a parked car to Grant when Arby opens the window to let the smoke out. The third time, he leaves Wilson tied to a chair to go out for a smoke; when he comes back Wilson has freed himself and shoots Lee with his own gun.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Everyone working for the Network.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Alice (Dugdale's adopted daughter) vomits just out of frame.
  • Waif-Fu: Jessica. Readily apparent from the way she kills the tramp.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Marius.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Letts, and arguably the rest of the Network's top brass.
  • Wham Episode: Series 1, Episode 5.
    • The entire second half of the second season is one Wham Episode after another.
  • Wham Line:
    • At the end of the first episode: "I am Jessica Hyde."
    • From Season 2:
    :Lee: Out? I'm not out. Who said I was out?
    :Becky: Philip....Philip Carvel?
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Series 2, Episode 1 takes place in the '70s and early '80s.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Various characters express disbelief toward Wilson Wilson's name.
  • Wild Card: Arby/Pietre after he finds about what happened to him. It becomes more apparent in Season 2.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Arby. It's difficult not to have some sympathy to his mental state once the reason behind it is revealed.
    • Philip Carvel. He was so traumatized by his experiences in the Holocaust (where his entire family was killed and he - a toddler at the time - survived by hiding himself in a mass grave for two days), that he modified Janus to ensure that only his fellow Roma would survive to carry on humanity.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • The Network have no qualms against killing many children to advance their aims, though some members, most notably Arby and Letts, express reservations. The former is so sickened after having carried out the massacre in the school that he goes on the run, and the latter was visibly upset by having to give the order.
    • Mr. Omida from the flashback episode of the second season premiere. He'd been instructed to torture Jessica (who was four at the time) the same way he would torture her father. And then repeat the same thing, only this time with her in front of him!
    • Wilson tells Dugdale that he'll have his adoptive children Alice and Grant killed - along with his wife - if he steps out of line again.
  • Wrong Side All Along: Wilson, having come to the conclusion that the Network's plan will ensure humanity's survival, betrays his friends and so is subsequently stabbed and left for dead by Jessica.
    Wilson: I mean, what he's saying... isn't that... right?
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • Letts.
    • Wilson shooting Lee - who'd told Wilson that he couldn't possibly kill him as he was necessary - invokes this trope.
  • You Killed My Father
    • Alice takes her revenge for the death of her mother.
    • Wilson also exacts vengeance on Lee for the death of his father.