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.
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.
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.
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.
Anti-Climax Boss: Margos Dezerian. His true strength turns out to be his elusiveness. Once he and Vic are actually in the same room together, it's over in about 15 seconds.
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.
Award Snub: Averted early on, with Michael Chiklis winning an Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama Series for the show's first season (a HUGE achievement given his competition and the fact that FX was a relatively small network at the time). That said, the show never managed to gain a Drama Series nomination (despite winning the prize at the Golden Globes) and Walton Goggins was egregiously overlooked for his work as Shane in the final season.
Broken Base: Ronnie's facial hair, as far as fans divided between the beard and the mustache.
Complete Monster: The Shield has a Crapsack World of corrupt cops and horrible criminals, but Armadillo Quintero, a vicious Mexican drug lord who compensated for his youth with his cruelty, puts many of them to shame. Quintero is introduced by uniting several gangs under his control by having their leaders "necklaced": imprisoned in tires and burned alive. A Serial Rapist, Armadillo tattooed the symbol of a dove onto the faces of each victim. He even did this with the 12-year-old sister of one victim. When he returns later, Quintero uses minors as drug mules for his heroin. When he discovers his brother Navaro may be "greenlit" in prison to testify against him, Quintero has his own brother murdered with no remorse.
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.
Ronnie's popularity early on even earned him his own variant cover (complete with pic of him circa season two, with his trademark mustache) in the "Shield Spotlight mini-series, something even Lem never received.
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.
Harsher in Hindsight: Julian's stepson calling the police because a heated argument between the officer and his wife scared the child is much, MUCH harder to watch now, given that Julian's actor confessed to the fatal shooting of his wife in May of 2014, and neighbors reported hearing a loud argument just before the shots were fired.
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.
For the Professional Wrestling Stable
Alternate Character Interpretation: Post-Face-Heel Turn, this applies to Seth Rollins' Rage Quit that led to the Shield getting back on the same page. Did he actually pull a Batman Gambit to get Reigns & Ambrose to put their egos aside, or did he simply claim that was the plan in an attempt to save face after seeing them do exactly that after he walked out on the team?
The music is pretty awesome too, for a generic track.
Badass Decay: MASSIVELY averted. Unlike other popular heels who ended up losing their teeth once they turned face, the Shield have, if anything, become even more dangerous and vicious than before, to the point that the Authority have twice tried to pit them against eleven other superstars at once, with the second attempt being a complete failure as the Shield made a point to isolate and take out over half of their opponents before the match even began. Triple H finally resorted to reformingEvolution to stop them, and even that's been a complete failure. To put things into perspective: Daniel Bryan, the Authority's other arch-nemesis, is a threat because his insane popularity and dogged persistence undermines their vision and causes him to keep rising above the odds. The Shield are a threat because they just keep gleefully tearing apart everything that's thrown their way with a smile on their faces and a song in their hearts, and are not shy about taking the initiative.
Broken Base: Rollins turning heel & betraying his partners has elicited this reaction from the IWC. Some believe this is a logical booking decision that keeps the Evolution/Shield angle fresh, given that the Shield has already prevailed over the rivals twice and have no other stable to match them, as well as an opportunity for Rollins to go over as a singles star. Others consider it an illogical Shocking Swerve right out of Vince Russo's playbook that broke up one of the most popular stables in WWE way too soon. Others believe that the angle was done right, but that Ambrose should've been the one to turn on the group and not Rollins.]]
Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: After winning the match against Evolution at Payback, Reigns, who was subjected to some of the worst beatings (at one point, he had all three members of Evolution taking turns with kendo sticks on his bare back), immediately goes to check on Rollins and Ambrose.
Anything involving Reigns and his daughter.
Fan-Preferred Couple: A lot of fans love to ship Dean Ambrose/Renee Young. The other popular couples are Dean Ambrose/William Regal, and Dean Ambrose/Bray Wyatt, of all people.
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 Bryan 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 Bryan's tag-team partner Kane. That the borderline-psychotic Dean Ambrose seems genuinely fond and protective of Rollins is surely significant, as well.
Hell, during the Shield's match with Evolution at Extreme Rules, Rollins jumped off a balcony onto Triple H and Randy Orton to save Ambrose.
The Shield versus Evolution at Extreme Rules. Enough said.
After Rollins jumped off a balcony to rescue Ambrose, the crowd was even chanting 'Holy shit! Holy shit!' over and over.
Rollins turning on the Shield.
Hype Backlash/Mis-blamed: Since it's become more obvious in the booking that WWE looks at Reigns as a potential successor to the top face throne, there's been a bit of this towards him from fans that are afraid of what this could mean for Rollins and Ambrose's post-Shield futures—namely a lack thereof. This is understandable, as WWE has been detrimentally addicted to the idea of manufacturing breakup breakouts ever since Shawn Michaels unintentionally left his Rockers tag team partner Marty Jannetty in the dust. The problem is, even if their futures do turn out dim it won't be because Roman did anything to get them held down. All three members of the Shield, Reigns included, are each other's biggest fans in the business and have routinely praised each other (and been praised by commentators) as future top stars. Furthermore, everything suggests that Dean and Seth have as good a chance as any in recent memory of averting the pattern, having been given enough character depth from their time in developmental all the way into the stretch of their run with the Shield that no one can objectively deny their importance. With the utter shock coming from Seth Rollins' betrayal of the team the very night after their biggest win to date, WWE's faith in all three men has become so blindingly apparent as to actually quell some of this backlash.
Roman Reigns's hair gets this too, since the man is pretty much a perpetual shampoo commercial.
Memetic Sex God: Dean Ambrose, the Titty Master. explanation In a match in 2013, it was discovered that Dean Ambrose had the words "Titty Master" written on his wrist tape (Right Hand;◊ Left Hand◊). The IWC ran with this, making "Titty Master" his unofficial nickname and making all sorts of Titty Master macros.
Never Live It Down: A slight example. Reigns has a small reputation among YouTube viewers for being occasionally absent from Shield media interviews, with Ambrose explaining that he "had a rough night". The set of interviews on which this actually happened all feature Rollins decked out in an all-black suit while Ambrose rocks a leather jacket and blue jeans, all take place in the city of Cleveland, Ohio, and all include promotional hype for an episode of Raw being hosted there that evening. Meaning, they all took place the day after Reigns set the record for most eliminations in a single Royal Rumble. Rough night indeed.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: While not outright hated, Roman Reigns was initially dismissed by the IWC, since they only cared about former indy stars Rollins and Ambrose debuting, and many suggested that he didn't deserve to be in the Shield and believed Kassius Ohno should have been in his spot instead. However, he's become quite the IWC favorite during his Shield tenure after getting some much needed experience in the ring.
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, and The Miz, in favor of the ultra-popular Designated Villain / Draco in Leather Pants that was WWE Champion CM Punk. It would be amazing if this wasn't the case. note This was yet another attempt on WWE's part to get heat for Punk as a Dirty Coward bad guy in order to make Cena and Ryback look good. WWE had tried everything, from getting Punk to denigrate the Attitude Era to bringing in Paul Heyman to be his heel advocate in a case of Reality Subtext, yet it was backfiring due to Cena's own Smug Super behavior and the perception of clear protectionism in the booking both in and out of kayfabe. Creating the Shield to defend Punk was arguably the worst of these attempts if the intent was to get them all hated, especially when their blatant denial that they were employed by Punk consisted of rationalizations based around a concept of justice. Even the reveal that Heyman had been their benefactor and paid them to defend Punk failed to quash this. Ultimately, said rooting would be justified, both in kayfabe as they inevitably turned face over a year later, and out of it due to the general quality of Shield performances being one of the company's clear bright spots.
Tear Jerker: While Seth betraying Dean and Roman isn't particularly sad, Dean's reaction definitely qualifies it as such.