YMMV / Homicide: Life on the Street

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Every character (particularly the older ones) is looked at as this (i.e., Munch, funny Deadpan Snarker or emotionally damaged cynic; Pembleton, witty, hard-working hero or Black-and-White thinking snob?) But a vocal community has subjected Lewis to this trope. Cool, handsome, and the most stable of all the cops, or an aloof, cocky Jerkass who only looks out for number one and made a variety of serious errors?
  • Arc Fatigue: The aftermath of the Luther Mahoney shooting in Season 6 started with a newcomer (Falsone) having a burning interest in a police shooting of a drug dealer from the year prior, morphed into laughable dramatics from Mahoney's "long lost sister," and basically destroyed Lewis, Kellerman, and Stiver, three regular characters well liked by the fanbase. Made worse by the fact that the shooting wasn't a black and white issue.
    • Sheppard's gun-taking fiasco from season seven, which made her look weak, incompetent and untrustworthy. Lewis, regardless if he were justified in doing so or not, looked like an even bigger Jerk Ass who alienated the others against her and even the "good" female detectives turned on her for making them look bad. Even worse, this ended up being one of the seasons' main storylines.
  • Awesome Music: Many examples. The soundtrack fits in the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Collective Soul, Tori Amos, Suzanne Vega and Jimi Hendrix and it is awesome.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The afterlife scene at the end of the movie. It's meant to offer a bit of closure and to bring back the two deceased characters for a cameo that they otherwise could not do, but it comes off as a bit weird given the series has mostly stayed grounded in reality until now.
  • Creator's Pet:
    • Falsone, who solved all of his cases (including one cold case), made up with his wife, and simultaneously successfully investigated every single aspect of Kellerman's Mahoney shooting without attracting any criticism outside of Kellerman. He was brought closer to Earth in Season 7.
    • Arguably Ballard was a far worse offender, at least initially. The episode in which she first appeared had Giardello and all the members of the unit who didn't get transferred talking about how great a detective she was. The same three-parter had her moaning about how Pembleton doesn't seem to respect her and has Pembleton refuse to follow a completely obvious lead (instead following one that was completely out there) just so that she could look good. Fortunately she became increasingly side-lined (unfortunately in favour of Falsone). Unfortunately she never went away.
    • Most of Season 6's additions probably also count, with fan-favourites Pembleton, Kellerman and Lewis getting sidelined in favour of storylines involving the newer characters. The TV-movie saw some of these characters get relegated for old favourites.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Munch has retro-actively become this.
    • Pembleton was, and continues to be, Homicide's most popular character. To the point that the only season without him is what killed the series.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In "A Many Splendored Thing" Adrienne Shelly plays the friend of a murder victim who thanks Bayliss and says she is happy to know that if she is murdered, Bayliss will avenge her. In 2006, she was murdered in a robbery of her NYC office.
    • "Black and Blue", where a black man is (probably) shot by a cop, is not a comfortable episode. But Giardello's insistence that cops stick together and get the benefit of the doubt becomes especially disturbing in the light of Ferguson and the other police killings of late 2014.
  • Ho Yay: Bayliss and Pembleton.
    • To further complicate matters, in the series finale Bayliss admits that he 'loved' Frank but it's unclear in what sense i.e. romantically or like a brother.
    • Let us not forget Munch and his whole obsession with Stan "The Big Man" coming back for an entire season.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Munch. An insufferable, sarcastic jerk he may be at times but so many bad things have happened to the guy (Being dumped by various women, being bullied in school, being clearly traumatized after seeing his friends shot, and feeling guilty over his abusive father's suicide) that You can't help but feel bad for him.
    • Pembleton could be a complete jerk but only a person with heart of stone couldn't feel sorry for him after his stroke. Pembleton's best resource was his mind, so his loss of cognitive function is tragic, added to which his wife just had a baby, making his inability to go and work as well as his need to be cared for by her even more tragic.
    • Felton, again a complete prick but given the way his crazy wife treated him you couldn't help feel sorry for him when he started drinking, turning up to work late (or not at all) and losing key pieces of evidence. And while you kind of agreed (Felton was nowhere near the best detective), Gee telling him that he wasn't good enough for the unit after he'd been shot must've hurt.
    • Bolander could be a cantankerous old man, especially in the way that he treated Munch. But you felt sorry for the way his wife left him, especially since they obviously still loved each and especially since Bolander finds it so difficult to try and rebuild his life outside of work after losing her.
    • Kellerman. His wife cheated on him. His partner (and supposed friend) won't open up to him. He's accused of taking bribes even though he didn't. He has a somewhat abortive relationship with Julianna Cox which basically ends because he's such a mess he can't explicate his feelings for her. He kills a bastard drug dealer pretty much in defence of his supposed partner/friend (how was it going to look if Mahoney revealed Lewis beat him up? Plus, he lowered his gun but he didn't drop it) and what does Lewis do in response? Turn his back on him. He eventually gets kicked off of the Police force for killing a total bastard, and everyone he worked with thinks he's trash.
  • Marty Stu: Falsone, especially in the sixth season.
  • Moral Event Horizon: An interesting example of this trope involves Kellerman. His point of no return does not seem to be the execution of Luther Mahoney, but rather a smaller, quieter scene in which he laughs at a young dead drug dealer on a crime scene, arriving as far as posing for a mock picture next to his corpse. From that point on, the writers portrayed him as increasingly bitter and unlikable - no longer an Anti-Hero, but simply a Jerkass.
    Det Ballard: We speak for the dead, remember?
    Det Kellerman: Screw the dead. What have their moldering asses ever done for me?
    • The latter scene was facilitated by the former, which was such a moral event horizon that Kellerman, who previously quit, started smoking again and descended into bitterness. He somewhat redeemed himself during his guest appearance in season 7, however.
  • Narm: The scene between Lewis and Kellerman on the latter's houseboat in the "Have a Conscience" episode. Aside from failing to portray Kellerman as sympathetic and Lewis as genuinely concerned, it just looked like a poorly done version of the suicide scene from Scent of a Woman. Also, what was the point of Lewis' comment of him trying to stop it so that "no one else blames me again for my partner's suicide"? It made him look like a conceited jerkass who did it not out of concern for his partner, but for reasons involving self-preservation and narcissism.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The episode "Subway." A man (portrayed by Vincent D'Onofrio) is shoved on a subway platform and is pinched at the waist between the platform and a subway train. We spend the rest of the episode with him as he's waiting around to die. He is lucid the entire time.
    • Pembleton in the season four finale "Work Related". Aside from showcasing how excellent an actor Andre Braugher is, it's very haunting, from the very realistic moment of his stroke happening to at the end of the episode, where we see the poor guy desperately screaming and pleading for help...while trapped inside of a coffin. This is made even scarier over the fact that, at the time, fans didn't know if he survived his ordeal. Even In-Universe, the suspect whom Frank was interviewing at the time of his stroke was positively freaked out by what he was witnessing (especially when Frank fell on him) and even later on was genuinely concerned about his condition.
  • Poor Man's Substitute: The writers seemingly wanted to set-up Gharty as Bolander's poor man's substitute. This is lampshaded by Munch, who claims that a certain trait of Gharty's reminds him of Bolander. However, this analogy falls down in a number of places. For example, while broadly they might be similar (Both are older, in less than perfect shape and fairly conservative Gharty has a number of negative personality traits not shared by Bolander that ultimately make him less likeable (Gharty is a bigot, a coward and usually flirts with Munch's bartender/girlfriend/fiancée/wife). In addition Gharty lets himself get pushed around in ways that Bolander would never stand for.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Ballard, Sheppard, the younger Giardello, Falsone. Any character introduced after S5.
    • Season 7's line-up is this particularly because of Pembleton's departure. While Giardello Jr is a decent character (albeit underdeveloped), he is no replacement for Frank Pembleton.
    • Kellerman at least partially qualifies, being a younger, more attractive replacement for three older, fatter detectives. But unlike previously named examples, Kellerman fit perfectly into the cast and rhythm of the series.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Richard Belzer as John Munch.
    • Andre Braugher as Frank Pembleton.
    • Yaphet Kotto as Al Giardello.
    • Jon Polito as Steve Crosetti.
    • Melissa Leo (Kay Howard) is also best known for playing Linda Warner on All My Children, Emma Shannon on The Young Riders, and Toni Bernette in Treme.
    • Reed Diamond (Mike Kellerman) is also best known for playing Damien Karp on Franklin & Bash.
    • Michelle Forbes (Julianna Cox) is also best known for playing Dr. Sonni Carrera-Lewis on Guiding Light, Kate Weston on In Treatment, Maryann Forrester on True Blood, Mitch Larsen on The Killing, and Valerie Edwards on Berlin Station.
    • Jon Seda (Paul Falsone) is also best known for playing Nelson Hidalgo on Treme and Antonio Dawson on Chicago P.D. and Chicago Justice.
    • Callie Thorne (Laura Ballard) is also best known for playing Sheila Keefe on Rescue Me and Dani Santino on Necessary Roughness.
    • Michael Michele (Rene Sheppard) is also best known for playing Nikki Sheridan on Central Park West and Cleo Finch on ER.
    • Giancarlo Esposito (Mike Giardello) is also best known for playing Tom Divack on The Street, Gustavo "Gus" Fring on Breaking Bad, and Tom Neville on Revolution.
    • Zeljko Ivanek had a recurring role as ASA Ed Danvers. Ivanek is best known for playing Raymond "Ray" Fiske on Damages, Blake Sterling on The Event, and Russell Jackson on Madam Secretary.
    • Lee Tergesen also had a recurring role as Officer Chris Thormann. Tergesen is best known for playing Tobias Beecher on Oz.
    • Christopher Meloni also had a recurring role as bounty hunter Dennis Knoll. Meloni is best known for playing Elliot Stabler on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
    • Mekhi Phifer also had a recurring role as Junior Bunk. Phifer is best known for playing Dr. Greg Pratt on ER and Ben Reynolds on Lie to Me.
    • Austin Pendleton also had a recurring role as Dr. George Griscom, ME. Pendleton is best known for playing Motel Kamzoil in Fiddler on the Roof.
    • Matt Reeves directed an episode. Reeves is best known as co-creator and co-executive producer of Felicity.
    • Steve Buscemi also directed an episode.
    • Kathy Bates also directed an episode.
    • In addition to his work on Homicide: Life on the Street, Paul Attanasio is best known as co-creator and co-executive producer of Bull.
    • In addition to writing the book this series was based on and serving as producer, David Simon is best known as creator and executive producer of The Wire and co-creator and co-executive producer of Treme.
    • Tom Fontana wrote 67 episodes and served as executive producer. Fontana is best known as creator and executive producer of Oz and Borgia and as co-creator and executive producer of Copper.
    • Henry Bromell wrote 25 episodes and served as consulting producer, co-executive producer, and executive producer. Bromell is best known as co-creator and co-executive producer of Falling Water.
    • Eric Overmyer wrote 11 episodes and served as consulting producer, producer, and supervising producer. Overmyer is best known as developer and executive producer of Bosch and for co-creating Treme.
    • Kevin Arkadie wrote an episode. Arkadie is best known as co-creator and producer of New York Undercover.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Falsone was so loathed by some fans that one of the first television hatedom websites was created in his honour.
    • Ballard.
    • The fact that Sheppard was almost universally referred to by fans as "Sheepdog" shows that she qualifies for this too — without being competent enough to be a Creator's Pet.
  • Seasonal Rot: There's a lot of debate about this and really any point after the third season is up for consideration.
  • Special Effect Failure: Gee's very bad, very obvious toupee seen in season three. This could double as Narm.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Bayliss' character switch towards the end of season five when he ended his partnership with Pembleton and became an Iron Woobie and a Determinator and stopped allowing the other detectives, especially his former partner, to walk all over him. The writers, for some reason or another, didn't like this and turned him back into the regular woobie that the audiences saw earlier.
    • Ned Beatty's leaving meant they couldn't do more with his adjusting to being back at work after being shot. The best they could do was imply that it changed him, as Bolander would never have previously done what he did to get himself suspended.
  • The Woobie: Bayliss.

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