These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Spartacus: Blood and Sand
Alas, Poor Scrappy: Naevia was not a popular character, but it was still sad to see her die in the same way that Diona had.
Literally every character can be interpreted as the "good" or "bad" guy at some point. What's interesting is that three of the main characters in Vengeance—Spartacus, Crixus, and Agron—all have different opinions on almost everything that happens, despite being on the same side, which makes for very different interpretations of their characters. Is Spartacus a brave and compassionate man, or a single-minded idealist? Is Crixus's devotion to Naevia admirable or selfish? Is Agron a pragmatic leader or a selfish brat?
Come War of the Damned, Crassus is open to considerable interpretation. Is he a loyal servant of Rome who fights out of a sense of patriotism, or a power-hungry politician who fights for greed and personal advancement? Is he a a Benevolent Boss who genuinely cares about his slaves, or a Control Freak who desires to own people as property, even though he could afford to free them and then employ them if he chose to? Are the disciplinary actions he inflicts on his troops barbaric and overly harsh, or a necessity given their repeated failures against Spartacus? Was his crucifixion of Kore really necessary? Even if he couldn't spare her life, surely he could have given her a more merciful end?
Tullius from Gods of the Arena is a greedy, sadistic, smug, Faux Affably Evil, power-drunken aristocrat. He first orders Batiatus to get a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown for refusing to sell Gannicus to him, after Batiatus had been nothing but respectful to him. He manipulates Titus into crashing his own son's plans. At the orgy, he challenges Gannicus to a swordfight that Gannicus, as a slave, cannot win, and has the balls to mock him for it. However, he takes a running leap over the Moral Event Horizon and confirms his status as a dog-kicking juggernaut in Episode 4 when Gaia, in order to help Lucretia, offers herself to him. At first, he accepts and has sex with her-then he cheerfully kills her, just to make clear that, as an aristocrat, he can do whatever he wants.
Cossutius is the worst example of unchecked Roman excess. A Smug Snake aristocrat, he extorts a favor from the House of Batiatus by requesting a “show” from a virgin slave girl. He selects the girl Diona as he knows he can hurt her more and forces her to lose her virginity to a brutish, dirty, filthy gladiator, mocking Diona all the while as an 'example' of how ugliness and beauty co-exist before anally raping her during her ordeal. Cossutius later shows sheer glee at Diona's execution and at a Roman party is the first to gleefully torture a bound Gladiator for nothing more than entertainment.
Designated Villain: Crassus. He is only doing his job of crushing the rebellion. He doesn't show any malice whatsoever. In fact, he meets with Spartacus before the battle and shakes hands with him, without any attempt at a cheap shot. Sure he does do some bad things. But it's battlefield. He openly expresses regret that Spartacus was not born a Roman so they could have fought alongside each other.
On the other hand, his actions are completely brutal and ruthless, and he has no capacity for mercy whatsoever. His motivations are also questionable; while he professes My Country, Right or Wrong, it's suggested that he's doing this as much for personal gain and ambition as anything else. He maneuvers to have other, higher ranking Roman commanders killed so that he can attain sole command and the greater portion of the glory, he sells Laeta into slavery to the known criminal Heracleo, knowing full well he's condeming her to life as a sex slave, and his motivations for this are pure greed- he moves to claim the city of Sinuessa for himself, and she would be the main obstacle standing in his way. Historically, his use of decimation and mass crucifixion were considered barbaric, even at the time though in the later case it was more because he left them up to rot for months along one of the most traveled roads in the Republic, which was less than pleasant for everyone involved. The only rebel he seems to see as a human being is Spartacus; as far as he's concerned, the rest are animals to be put down in the most brutal way possible to keep slaves from getting any uppity ideas. Granted, his actions aren't much worsethan those of the rebels themselves, but where as Spartacus tries to control his people and reign them in, Crassus is the one directly ordering the brutality of the Romans.
Evil Is Cool: Batiatus, Lucretia, Glaber, Illithiya, Ashur, Theokoles, Caburus and Caesar breathes this trope.
Evil Is Sexy: Where do we start? For the girls, there's Ilithyia, Lucretia and Seppia.
Evil Versus Evil: Aside from the Roman elite constantly screwing each other over, the rebels eventually fall into this as well. Crixus, heavily goaded by Naevia, develops such an unrelenting hatred of Romans that he wants them all dead. Not just the wealthy slaveowners, but even the common people. When he finally breaks with Spartacus in War of the Damned, it is because he will accept nothing less than total slaughter and the destruction of Rome itself. Not that this would end slavery as an institution, as other nations also practiced it. Plus the rebels already had more than a little bit of a Might Makes Right social hierarchy forming amongst themselves. So the final battle between Crixus and his forces against Crassus and his legions takes on this tone.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The Season 1 DVD special features showed Andy Whitfield, exhausted after a workout, saying he hopes he's still around when the series ends. We all know what happened after Season 1 ended. note He stepped out due to cancer and died in 2011.
Genius Bonus: The very first episode has a subtle quote of Chief Joseph's famous line, "I will fight no more forever." Spartacus's wife asks him a hypothetical, "You will fight no more?" His response begins, "Forever."
Growing the Beard: The first couple episodes of Blood and Sand are generally agreed to be not very good. The show starts hitting its stride around episodes three and four, for various reasons; the actors are obviously getting used to the sentence structure of their lines, the show isn't trying so hard to be 300 (the influence is still obviously there, it just isn't as blatant), Hannah started really hamming it up as Batiatus, and characters in general became more fleshed out.
Guilty Pleasure: The show is very violent and sexual, but it is also very enjoyable, so many watch it with a little bit of guilt.
Harsher in Hindsight: Episode 11 of Blood and Sand involves Spartacus being bedridden due to a severe infection, and the medicus doing everything he can to save him. There's even a scene in that episode where Spartacus sees his dead body on a morgue. Andy Whitfield, the actor who played Spartacus, had to leave the role due to cancer. Tragically, he lost the battle a year later.
Deliberately invoked, not by the characters, but the creators; in Episode 3 of Gods of the Arena, Barca defeats Gnaeus in the arena and is ordered to spare his life. Of course, Gnaeus is the one who beats and rapes Pietros, driving him to suicide after Barca's death.
Also in episode 3 of Gods of the Arena, Auctus' taunt to the then rookie Crixus before their match.
You will die at the end of my spear!
Hilarious in Hindsight: When you consider the great length at which Lucretia extols her hatred of Thracians and then you remember Xena was Thracian, it is hard not to chuckle.
Agron's snarky remark "Fuck my ass" to Spartacus in the season 1 finale becomes this in Vengeance.
Before Agron was revealed to be gay, the show caught a lot of flack for apparently playing up the Bury Your Gays trope. Agron and Nasir are the only two of the main protagonists to survive the war.
Holy Shit Quotient: Very high, as the episodes are specifically written to contain their emotional impact into specific key scenes.
Vengeance Episode 7 had a fight between Spartacus and 7-foot tall guy Sedullus. Spartacus sliced his face off with one strike and HIS BRAIN FELL OUT!!
Ho Yay: Almost pointless on a show where Hide Your Gays is a strongly averted trope. But it still happens.
Hints of this between Glaber and Marcus in Vengeance. Especially given Marcus' obvious devotion and Glaber's tendency to heed his advice over anybody else. It is notable that Marcus is pretty much the only fatality that Glaber shows actual sorrow over (or even more than casual interest in).
War of the Damned introduces Tiberius and Sabinus, who may be more than best friends. Although Christian Antidormi has said they were not a couple, he and Aaron Jakubenko really missed their marks in their performances if that was meant to be the case. Also, the fact that Tiberius seeks revenge for Sabinus' death by raping his father's lover adds the subtext that taking his father's lover was somehow recompense for the loss of his own. He also demonstrates when he rapes Caesar that he is not averse to sexual contact with men.
It was around even as early as Blood and Sand, especially between Spartacus and Varro.
Spartacus: [After a sparring match] Your head is mine. Now, how shall I mount it? [Big goofy grins from both of them]
Les Yay: Between Ilithyia and Lucretia, with some Foe Yay thrown in as well.
Saxa has bisexual tendencies and seems to pursue an offscreen relationship with one of the rebel slaves named Belesa, as they have at least three intimate moments together in War of the Damned.
Also Between Naevia and Diona in Gods of the Arena; They're close friends, who've both stayed virgins (not so easy in the House of Batiatus) especially since they're seen early on thinking dirty about the gladiators. After Diona is raped by a Roman, Naevia worries to Diona that they aren't as close as they used to be. And in episode 5 as Naevia helps Diona escape, they share a kiss on the lips goodbye, and a promise to see each other again one day.
Crixus takes this all the way to the point of Wangst over Naevia. Unlike Spartacus, who mostly mourns privately and generally only mentions his late wife to people he is close to, Crixus indulges in dramatic public displays of woe.
Gannicus feels deep guilt over Melitta, and his betrayal of Oenomaus, as well as various other things. He usually covers by drinking.
Moral Event Horizon: Tullius (from Gods of the Arena) at first is just as vile as the other Roman nobles. He crosses this with the murder of Gaia who was somewhat likable. Even worse, he did it just to show that he could do it and get away with it. He now is a complete psychopath with no redeeming qualities.
If he hadn't crossed it already, Glaber definitely crosses it when he crucifies an innocent slave, just to show his power over Ilithyia.
Naevia, of all people, showed signs of crossing this since War Of the Damned started. She crosses it fully in Decimation when she batters Gannicus with a giant rock after he tried to get Crixus to snap out of his madness. Then she gleefully participates in the slaughter of every Roman citizen within the city.
Batiatus having Sura killed on the way to the ludus so she can die in Spartacus' arms. The look on Lucretia's face just says "I'm a terrible person, but even I think that's pretty damn cold."
Ashur manipulating Dagan into being sodomized by a Roman elite in Gods of the Arena could be considered this for him.
Tiberius raping Kore, who had always behaved more warmly towards him than even his own mother, as a way of getting revenge on his father for Sabinus' death in the decimation.
Narm: For viewers in the Australia/New Zealand region, the barely-disguised Kiwi accents can be this.
Seriously, look at John Hannah's face during the credits for Season 1.
In Vengeance Glaber has a party, during which the upper class of Capua and Rome take one of the captured Gauls and proceed to string him up and take turns cutting bits of flesh off of him...always careful to do so in such a way that he won't bleed out or die.
Naevia 2. Not only is the new actress replacing an already popular one, but her acting is incredibly weak. It got worse in War of the Damned, where she becomes an absolutely psychotic bitch who murders innocent people on baseless suspicions and drives an enormous wedge between Spartacus and Crxius' friendship.
Tiberius. Maybe because he is a spoiled brat and also rapes Kore and Caesar and kills Crixus in front of Naevia. Of course, he's a bad guy, so we're not supposed to like him, but even Batiatus and Glaber never had so many fans saying "I can't wait for him to die."
Nemetes becomes one mainly for getting Mira killed.
Spartacus charging Crassus and his Mooks all by himself.
The shield graveyard.
Stop Helping Me!: It was accidental, but Ilithyia convincing her husband to make a grab for glory in the pilot episode really screws him over. Convincing him to attack the rebels before they are sufficiently weakened in Vengeance episode 10 would have had the same effect if Spartacus hadn't pulled his Fast Roping trick first.
Granted Ashur is a complete dick and his actions are utterly despicable, but still, it's easier to understand where he was coming from.
Caesar near the end of the series becomes this.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Naevia in War of the Damned. We were supposed to feel sorry for her after the series of unfortunate events that happened to her between her disappearance near the end of Blood and Sand to her rescue in Vengeance. And yes, those were not pretty. But, being a paranoid Dark Action Girl who hurts or kills people and even members of her own team either because they reminded her of those who treated her like crap or she suspects them as a traitor won't do just that. Also, being a Lady Macbeth to Crixus by constantly suggesting her lover to overthrow Spartacus as the top Rebel Leader not only counts as grade-A Ungrateful Bastardness, but it also showed that she's Not So Different from her original domina Lucretia that she and her lover despises so much.
Values Dissonance: Though Batiatus and Lucretia do violate many of Rome's own laws and customs regarding slaves and servants, many of their actions are only abhorrent by modern standards, considered perfectly normal (even just) by their fellow Romans.
Subverted when Batiatus is almost ready to kill his own father for love of his wife: even if it could be seen as brave, for the ancient Romans patricide was the ultimate Moral Event Horizon. Played straight because being ready to face your own father's wrath for love was something only a Roman with adamantium balls would have done.
Fifteen-year-old Numerius is listed several times on this wiki as an example of a subversion of Infant Immortality or the victim of Would Hurt a Child for when Aurelia killed him in revenge for Varro's death. Legally speaking, he was an adult by the standards of Roman society. Granted, few of the main characters acknowledge him as such, and still think of him as a child.
And in-universe issue for Crassus, who owns slaves while still respecting their intelligence and prowess. This trope also summarizes his relationship with Kore all the way until the bitter end.
Both in general and in character for Julius Caesar. He almost rapes Kore in the beginning until he finds out how important she is to Crassus. Then he becomes her biggest defender after Tiberius rapes her, possibly because Tiberius rapes him, too. That and his deep sympathy for Romans and disdain for slaves.
The Woobie: Pietros spends about an episode as this and then kills himself.
Don't forget Diona, who undergoes a spectacular Trauma Conga Line that seems to have ended in her emancipation. It hasn't.