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.
Alternate Character Interpretation: Ronnie Gardocki, who depending on which side of fandom you ask is either a good guy who fell in with the bad crowd and became the scapegoat for the group's sins as a result or a bad guy who's ultimate fate was the end result of his blind loyalty to Vic Mackey. Also Lem, who is either the conscience of the Strike Team and only 100% good guy there or a weak-willed loser who's "conscience" only springs up when things gets bad. Or Claudette Wyms: she's either the main conscience/voice of morality on the show or a self-righteous bitch who is willing to let Vic run roughshod over everyone, her own partner included, so long as he stays out of her way. The fact that she hired and then promptly FIRED a non-corrupt and totally competent replacement for Vic because his way of doing things (mainly, wanting to shut down violent gang initiations as opposed to following Vic's policy of allowing initiations to go forward in exchange for recruiters working for Vic as unofficial informants) did not bring in the instant results Claudette needed to get her supervisors off her back, sums up the character's schizophrenic, at best, nature. In a real-life version, Walton Goggins was known to do this; during seasons six and seven, most of his interviews promoting the show had Walton arguing the position that Shane was still a good guy and that the murder of Lem and his betrayal of Vic/Ronnie was based upon him wanting to protect his family. Though, under this theory, by the time Shane kills his family and then himself in the series finale, he's gotten so desperate that his views on how to do it have skewed enough to lead straight to the Tearjerker.
Author's Saving Throw: Pretty much the bulk of seasons six and seven are spent with various saving throws being tossed to bring Shane away from the abyss of fan hatred after he killed Lem. Also, when they redubbed dialogue into one episode clarifying that Shane's black mistress was of legal age, after network executives freaked out over the notion of one of the show's main characters having sex with an underaged girl. Also, Dutch's killing a stray cat is semi-balanced out by him adopting a stray kitten, which is never mentioned again. Averted with the murder of Terry Crowley, as the show was able to resist retroactively making Terry a monster of some kind to make his death at Vic's hands justifiable.
Broken Base: Ronnie's facial hair, as far as fans divided between the beard and the mustache.
Complete Monster: Besides Vic Mackey (who was exposed as a full-on monster in the final season of the show), the show has several majorly notable complete monster villains:
Armadillo Quintero, a Mexican drug kingpin, probably ranks as the most horrific of the show's Big Bads. A 20-something year old Mexican drug lord with a genius IQ, Armadillo started his criminal career raping a teacher when he was twelve. He's a sadistic murderer who tried to eliminate his competition within Farmington by having his brother secretly sell a major gang tainted drugs (which would kill hundreds of users), then had his brother murdered after his arrest so that his enemies couldn't hurt him in retaliation. He has a tendency to kill his rivals by burning them alive with a tire around their neck for extra suffering. He disfigured Ronnie by burning his face with a stove burner. He's also a rapist who tattoos his victims with a dove on their face as a "reminder"; in one of his worst crimes, he did so to a 12-year-old girl who sought to testify against him and implicate him in a murder.
Antwon Mitchell. Like Quintero, he's a huge drug kingpin; unlike Quintero, he's trying to replace crack cocaine with heroin. He murders a teenage girl with two police officers' weapons, implicating them in the killing; he orders his estranged son to murder two police officers, and then manipulates the Strike Team to help his goons break into a police evidence storage building, with his goons killing an innocent guard and one of their own just to drive home the point to Vic that he could fuck Vic's life up and make him culpable for two deaths; he mocked Vic to his face when confronted with the notion that he murdered Lem, as far as laughing at Vic for thinking he would do something as predictable like that.
Early in the series, Vic gets roped into helping Dutch find a serial killer who killed an underaged prostitute; he eventually tracks the victim down to a theater where live underage sex shows are put on. While Vic has to watch a young girl be brutally raped on stage in front of him, he finds himself sitting next to a pedophile who is masturbating right there in the open.
An old man gets robbed by his grandson, whose accomplice nails the old guy's feet to the floor due to his constant walking back and forth. When the police arrive after the burglary and removes the nails from the guy's feet so he can move, the old guy grabs a nearby gun from a desk drawer and shoots himself in the head right in front of the cops.
Vic's confession scene in the show's penultimate episode. After horrifying the ICE agent he's been working for with the laundry list of murders and crimes he's committed over the years - selling out his accomplice/last remaining Morality Pet Ronnie to get full immunity in the process - Vic is reminded that protocol dictates he can't tell Ronnie that he implicated him, or his immunity deal is shot and his confession can be used against him in court. Rather than suddenly panicking at the implications that he can not warn Ronnie to skip town as a means to have his immunity and protect his friend, Vic doesn't show a single sign of remorse. Instead, he tells the agent matter-of-factly that he'll outright lie to Ronnie in order to keep him in play until his arrest, then tells her that he's done much worse things before.
Draco in Leather Pants: The Strike Team in general, but most notably Ronnie Gardocki and Curtis "Lem" Lemansky. While there are fans of the show who will agree with you that Vic Mackey is a horrible person, there are fans of "The Shield" who will condemn Vic and Shane while arguing in the defense of Lem and Ronnie being good people and not willing accomplices to Vic's crimes. Ronnie in particular typifies this notion, especially after the finale as far as fans who still think the character got screwed over as opposed to having received his just punishment for his crimes. Lem at least has an Armed With CanonPeer Pressure Made Me Evil excuse. Ronnie on the other hand, mainly has the fact that the character was never truly fleshed out and had so many Woobie-related moments, not to to mention being cast opposite Shane in season seven, that it led to fans fanwanking Ronnie as a good guy caught up with bad people.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Ronnie and Lem; both were not part of the show's original pitch, but quickly became two of the more popular characters on the show.
Fanon: Ronnie Gardocki's personality as a nerdy but good-hearted person corrupted by Vic Mackey is the standard fanon backstory for the character. Fanon was made canon with the issue of what nickname the writers used for Curtis Lemansky; season one had characters refer to him as "Lemonhead", which was shortened by fans of the show to just "Lem". By the start of season two, characters started referring to the character exclusively by "Lem".
Fanon Discontinuity: Dutch did not kill a cat just to see how it felt to kill a living being. Also, "Co-Pilot" never happened (though some fans recognizing at least parts of the episode as canon, as far as pertaining to how Ronnie and Lem joined the Strike Team, how Dutch and Claudette became partners, and Ronnie's explanation for why he has his mustache when a character makes fun of his facial hair).
Growing the Beard: Season 1 was great and all but season 2 became more realistic, took out the humor, not that it was sinking the show, but by focusing more on the drama the show got viewers on the edge of their seats quicker.
Ho Yay: Where to begin? Vic/Shane, Lem/Shane, Vic/Ronnie (which comes out most notably when Ronnie's diatribe towards Vic betraying him all but confirms that Ronnie was in love with Vic, as far as his vision for his final fate involving him by Vic's side, either in prison or as wanted fugitives).
It Was His Sled: Vic shooting Terry Crowley, while a shocking twist when the pilot episode of "The Shield" first aired, has since become one of the most notable aspects of the show when fans talk about the series.
Ronnie's ultimate fate as far as which of his many sins he'll ultimately be charged with in court.
The shitstorm that Vic's confession/immunity deal and Ronnie's arrest will have upon not only the LAPD as far as overturned convictions, but also Acaveda's political ambitions, given that the finale ends with Acaveda on cloud nine as far as the predicted favorite to win the mayoral election, with Ronnie's arrest, Shane's murder-murder-suicide, and the subsequent shitstorm with Vic's scamming ICE for immunity for murdering a cop having yet to make the evening paper/news.
Danny's attempt to keep Vic out of her and her son's life.
Dutch's relationship with both Danny and Tina
Lem's relationship with a woman named Tigra, who's brother Lem shot after mistaking him for another gang member in season one is another dropped plotline.
Misaimed Fandom: The number of real-life cops (or those who claimed they were) who supported and/or justified Vic's murder of Terry Crowley.
Also Ronnie Gardocki; it says something that even though the scene with his arrest spells out why Ronnie pretty much deserves his ultimate fate, the overall reaction towards his fate was fans gasping in horror and an overall feeling of pity and sorrow that he ended up being made Vic Mackey's all-purpose fall-guy.
Don't forget Lem; fans like to glorify his good qualities and ignore the bad side of the character. In particular, the fact that rather than do the right thing/own up to his sins and work with Kavanaugh to bring the Strike Team down after he was caught red handed, he worked with Vic and company to help him escape his comeuppence to the point of having him flee town after having him agree to a plea bargain, to distract Kavanaugh from the plan to have him flee justice.
Shane murdering Lem, Vic selling out Ronnie in order to get his immunity deal, Ronnie reacting to the revelation that Vic murdered Terry by way of whining to Vic regarding why he was left out of the murder plot, Gilroy murdering a witness to him committing vehicular manslaughter after Vic successfully convinced the guy to lie about seeing Gilroy. Granted Ronnie, Shane, and Acaveda were given massive Pet the Dog moments to backpeddle on these, but still...
Complete Monster villain Armadillo Quintero didn't just cross the Moral Event Horizon in his first appearance, he obliterated it: raping a twelve-year old girl who sought to testify against him for causing her brother's death, on top of raping said sibling's girlfriend, and forcibly tattooing a dove onto both girls' faces as a reminder of how they were violated. And this happening AFTER his introduction as a psychopath who BURNED PEOPLE ALIVE and was plotting to put POISON-LACED DRUGS onto the streets of Farmington, to discredit rival gangs and claim the drug market for himself.
Dutch killing a cat definitely turned fans against the character, to such an extent that the scene essentially became Fanon Discontinuity.
Never Live It Down: Though David Rees Snell had a manly beard for the bulk of the series, the actor's season one and two moustache is the facial hair that the character of Ronnie Gardocki is mostly remembered having.
Same with Dutch murdering a cat towards the end of the third season.
Walt Goggins has joked about how his character's casual racism and general psychotic jack-ass nature led many people to ask him if he was really like the jerk he played on TV.
For all his crimes and actions,Vic Mackey will probably always be the cop who shot another cop in the face
Ronnie Gardocki's ultimate fate, being arrested and made into the Judas Goat for the crimes of the Strike Team. In a situation where being stabbed to death during your first night in county lock-up awaiting trial is considered the LEAST awful thing that could happen to you, the scenerio is made even more horrifying when you consider that Ronnie was the least evil of all of the Strike Team members, meaning his fate is literally a fate worse than death.
Vic Mackey's confession also counts. Watching Olivia's reaction to Vic telling her that he murdered Terry Crowley, then move onto confessing to even WORSE sins of abuse of authority and greed, you get the reaction of someone realizing that they've been conned into allowing a monster to forever escape punishment for crimes that are beyond the pale of corruption and evil. Also toss in Claudette's reaction, in which she is so utterly broken by her failures and complicity in allowing Vic to continue to get away with his crimes by turning a blind eye towards them, that she can't even bring herself to try and break his immunity for justice, just shame and humiliate him. Even the other federal agent overseeing Vic Mackey's confession is disgusted.
The Scrappy: Mara (especially in Season 3), as well as Cassidy Mackey.
Seasonal Rot: Season three is widely considered by fans to be a trainwreck of epic proportions, due to the show focusing on mainly on the Mara/Vic/Shane triangle while arbitrarily splitting up the other partners on the show (Julian/Danny and Claudette/Dutch) for the bulk of the season. The failures of the season is said to have caused the show to lose it's Golden Boy status within The FX Network, resulting in the show having to resort to stunt casting in seasons four and five to convince network executives to continue believing in the show. Luckily just about all fans agree that it recovered from this immediately in season four, and avoided any more rot right through to the series finale.
YMMV but some viewers loved the melee a trois going on between Vic, Shane, and Mara and that the show allowed Lem to really start growing as a character. Also Mikas was a nice change of pace from the 'thinker' villains to a more 'unstoppable monster' type.
Regarding Lem/Mikas, that doesn't happen until the last third of the season; the bulk of the first 2/3rds, Strike Team storylinewise focused almost exclusively on the Vic/Shane/Mara triangle. Furthermore, the episode "Bottom Bitch" (which has Vic paired up with Lem) infamously has Lem doing nothing the entire episode, wasting time that could have been used to flesh out his character. And that's not even counting the Tavon debacle: fans were just warming up to him and the plotline of Vic taking Tavon under his wing as his new protege/replacement for Shane and (granted, because the actor wanted to leave in order to focus on a movie career) when he was written out in a manner that made more people hate Shane and Mara. The Tavon thing was particularly hated by fans, so much so that they had to bring Tavon back in the final season to not only show fans that he was all right, but that he faked being tricked into believing that he committed a Moral Event Horizon level act of hitting Mara (something Lem and Vic came up with to keep Tavon quite about the fight between him and Shane) and basically tell Shane why he sucked as a human being, to the point that his words had Shane questioning his value as a human being.
Also, Mikos doesn't appear at all until the last episode of the season when they need someone for Vic to shoot as the end of season big bad.
Yoko Oh No: The character of Mara played this role over the course of the last five seasons of the series.
The Woobie: Lem and Ronnie. Dutch too, though later episodes subvert this by playing up the notion that most of the officers (including his best friend) treat him like crap because they believe that without constant emotional abuse, Dutch would be an insufferable egomaniac incapable of self-doubt and unwilling to entertain the notion that he might be wrong.
Shane would qualify as well. He may be an asshole, but there are several moments in the series where you just have to feel for the guy as far as the sheer level of abuse he suffers at the hands Vic Mackey. Not to mention the fact that his entire downward spiral character-arc wise is based upon the fact that Vic Mackey treated him like dogshit when, in the second episode of the series, he went to Vic and admitted feeling regret for the role he played in helping Vic kill Terry.
The music is pretty awesome too, for a generic track.
Ho Yay: Quite a few fans have picked up on some between Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, dating back to their FCW feud. While Roman Reigns does his fair share of saving and protecting his teammates (rest assured Roman will spear an opponent to save Dean, Seth, or both at some point during a match), Seth is usually the first to leap in and defend Dean during matches. Dean and Seth also walk together to ringside during their entrances, pull the other to safety after a match, and generally hang all over one another. During Dean Ambrose's match with Daniel Bryan, during which Brian busted Ambrose's face open right under his eye, Seth Rollins acted like a concerned boyfriend, even trying to come to Ambrose's defense, risking both a DQ and a beatdown from Brian's tag-team partner Kane. That the borderline-psychotic Dean Ambrose seems genuinely fond and protective of Rollins is surely significant, as well.
Memetic Mutation: "Nope." explanation Ever since The Shield's first promo on the 11/26/12 RAW - featuring IWC favorites Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins... and Roman Reigns, too..., image macros have been popping up on the internet with Dean Ambrose's face right after he gave this one-word answer to a question Michael Cole asked them in the interview.
Rooting for the Empire: Two of the group have a fandom from their pre-WWE days;and upon their debut, they immediately started going after superstars the IWC doesn't care for such as John Cena & Ryback. It would be amazing if this wasn't the case.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The Shield's Badass Creed and most of their promos talk about them being a "shield from injustice". How much more interesting would they be if they lived up to that and were truly Well Intentioned Extremists? Every run-in or attack they commit against someone, Face or Heel, done with logic and reasons known only to themselves? Announcers could play up their wild card status and fans could speculate endlessly what their victims did to "deserve" their beatings. The Shield would be a source of Laser-Guided Karma delivered to anyone from the most obvious bad guys to good guys with a heretofore hidden agenda, letting them be involved in numerous angles where they could strike, Batman-like, anytime and anyplace. But instead, they are a more-or-less generic bad guy stable with a focus on screwing over top good guys like Ryback, Daniel Bryan, Kane, and John Cena.