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Series / Almost Human

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A robot-hating veteran police officer is partnered up with a very advanced android. Together, they fight crime!
The year is 2048. Evolving technologies can no longer be regulated. Dangerous advancements forever alter the criminal landscape. Police are not prepared. Law enforcement combats this corruption with a new line of defense... but not all are created equal.

Almost Human is a sci-fi procedural that aired on Fox.

In the year 2048, horrifically high crime rates brought on by uncontrolled technological progress have led to every human police officer being assigned an android partner for safety, record keeping, and making sure they adhere to procedure. After almost two years in a coma after walking into an ambush that got the rest of his squad killed by the criminal organization InSyndicate, Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban) is brought back onto the force to investigate attacks similar to the one which took out his team.

The only problem is that due to the coldly pragmatic actions of the androids during the ambush, Kennex hates all synthetics. The chief assigns him an MX anyway. It "accidentally" gets thrown into highway traffic.

But rules are rules, so Kennex needs a new android partner. The only one left is DRN "Dorian," (Michael Ealy) a decommissioned model designed to be as human as possible—removed from service due to being too emotional and hard to control. Kennex is surprised to find himself forming a bond with Dorian, and the two work together to take down the dangerous criminal organization InSyndicate.

Almost Human follows the week-to-week missions of John and Dorian, as they fight crime across this futuristic landscape, while the mysteries surrounding John's attack and the larger mythology of this new world unfold. As of April 29th, 2014, Fox has canceled the show, and Season 1, unfortunately, is its last.

You can find the recap page here, which is a work in progress.

This Series Contains Examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted, it isn't. Most of the androids encountered are actually very helpful. Most of them may be soulless automatons that aren't even strictly bound by the Three Laws of Robotics, but nevertheless aren't actively malevolent or (unintentionally) hurtful. More like your average personal computer, but with somewhat of a brain. Even the 'criminal' android The Bishop uses is less actively malevolent and more an obedient partner much like the MXs. The MXs are equipped with enough personal judgment that they will ignore a direct command they deem to be irrational and counter-productive.
    • And then the XRN "Danica" was revealed. That said... she was probably intentionally built to be malevolent, to an extent. And she was still only following orders from her creator, demonstrating less sentience than her 'brother' Dorian.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The InSyndicate does this in the pilot episode when they took out the MXs in a LAPD precinct. It would have worked too if Dorian and John didn't get in their way...
  • Ambiguously Bi: Rudy says some things which suggest this.
  • And the Adventure Continues: "Straw Man", which ended up being the series finale due to cancellation, ends with the review board deciding to extend Dorian's term on the force due to John's glowing recommendation, meaning that they can continue working together. He later tracks John down at a restaurant and the two share a heartfelt (for them) conversation before they're interrupted by an incoming call and leave to respond.
  • Androids and Detectives: The basic premise. Apparently enforced In-Universe; when Kennex wants a human partner, he's told this isn't allowed (whether this is the law or his particular department's policy isn't made clear)
  • Androids Are People, Too: Depending on the android. MXes are basically treated as the good-guy equivalent of Mecha-Mooks, and when John shoots one in the head because it was annoying him, he just gets an official reprimand for drawing his gun when there wasn't a threat.
  • Arms Dealer: A minor enemy the LAPD faced off in "You Are Here".
  • Arrow Cam: Used with the Homing Projectile in "You Are Here".
  • Artistic License – Economics: The premise. While rapidly advancing technology is certainly possible, the fact that seemingly all of it is being used by criminals is rather absurd. The incentive for producing devices whose sole purpose is to commit crimes is nonexistent in any civilized society, any inventor or engineer would make far more money selling their work legitimately. Additionally, studies have long shown that advances in technology universally improve the standard of living, thereby reducing crime rates.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Dorian can tell that a suspect shot himself in the leg just by looking at the medical records for a few seconds.
  • Backup Bluff: The victim in the fourth episode tries after getting caught wearing a subcutaneous wire, but the drug dealer doesn't fall for it.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: In episode 5 the MX models are shown as literally this in the crotch area, complete with doll hip joints. John references this when he says he can't get the image of a life-sized Ken doll out of his head.
    John: Wait, you're a robot. What do you do with it?
    Dorian: Probably the same thing you do with yours—nothing.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: John wanted to remember more about the ambush and recalled that his ex-girlfriend was part of it. The creators of the human-like androids wanted their creations to be as human as possible but forgot that human beings are emotional, unpredictable and if subjected to stress can have breakdowns.
    • Dorian wanted a residence outside of the MXes' recharging bay, so Kennex arranged for him to move in with Rudy.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Chromes, people genetically engineered from birth for beauty, intelligence and perfect health. The procedures are so expensive that only the wealthy can afford them in the first place, ensuring that they have a leg up over everyone else in every respect.
  • The Big Board: Kennex has a setup like this in his apartment, albeit of the futuristic digital variety, where he keeps track of everything he's remembering about the ambush and his ex-girlfriend Anna. He finally deletes all of his notes in "Perception" after seeing a similar setup in the home of a murderer and realizes that he's become unhealthily obsessed.
  • Bio-Augmentation: Genetically-enhanced children are referred to as "Chrome". Valerie Stahl is a chrome, though she tries to downplay it most of the time.
    Richard: Yeah, well, my parents didn't have the money to make me taller. Or pretty.
    Valerie: Even if you were genetically enhanced, Richard, you would only be a taller jerk.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Dr. Vaughn poses as a kindly old man haunted by his last creation, the XRN, going on a rampage... until it turns out that he programmed her to do that, and engineered her current rampage in order to steal his research back from under the police's noses.
  • Blessed with Suck: Stahl's comments here and there imply Chromes frequently suffer from psychological problems due to feeling alienated from rest of society and constant pressure to achieve results above and beyond everyone else.
  • Brick Joke: When Dorian and John first met, Dorian recommends olive oil for his (prosthetic) knee that bothers him. In a later episode, John tries it and it actually works.
  • Brutal Honesty: Dorian says to John's face that one of his reasons for being concerned about him is because without John, Dorian would be re-purposed for something else or, worse, deactivated, and Dorian wants to be a cop (and not dead). Ironically, this is one statement of many that slowly changes John's opinion of Dorian.
  • Buddy Cop Show: The main characters are two police officers, even if one of them is a Ridiculously Human Robot, who are slowly becoming friends.
  • Call-Back: The final episode, "Straw Man", contains quite a few direct call backs to the pilot episode. note 
  • Catchphrase: Dorian - especially when he's being snarky or subtly upset with humans - tends to use the phrase 'man' but disguising it as casual banter.
  • Cop Killer: In the pilot InSyndicate assassinates Detective Vogel of the LAPD using a biological WMD with another officer killed with the same weapon during their attack on their precinct. This becomes a sub-plot a few episodes later.
  • Cowboy Cop:
    • Kennex doesn't really care for proper procedure. Dorian's a bit better but still hardly conventional.
    • The victim in the fourth episode is suspected of being a Dirty Cop because he set up his own undercover sting on a drug lord and didn't tell anyone.
  • Credit Chip: Thumb drive like devices with Bitcoin, a Real Life "digital cash", has been shown to be a common form of currency in the future.
  • Crooks Are Better Armed: The series has this as its Central Theme. In the Cyberpunk Dystopian future, technology has grown so rapidly and so quickly that the criminal underworld has access to what amounts to supervillain technology. Not only does this create whole new kinds of crime but they are often able to overwhelm the police with strange weapons like Terminator-esque kill bots.
    The year is 2048. Evolving technologies can no longer be regulated. Dangerous advancements forever alter the criminal landscape. Police are not prepared. Law enforcement combats this corruption with a new line of defense... but not all are created equal.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The InSyndicate ambush wiped out John's police task force and left him as the only human survivor.
  • Cut Apart: In episode "Skin", Dorian, Kennex and team begin searching Yuri's nightclub which is where they believe the "skin lab" is located. Simultaneously we see Yuri, his henchman and the doctors in the "skin lab" packing up their gear in a panic. After kicking in the last door, the police realize they are in the wrong place.
  • Cut Short: Kennex's traitorous girlfriend, Dorian's dreams, Vaughn's master plan, what's beyond the wall....just a few of the plot points the show introduced and never got a chance to resolve, due to its cancellation.
  • Cyberpunk/Post Cyber Punk:
    • Robots and extremely sophisticated computers everywhere.
    • Not to mention that Los Angeles has a lots of criminals using technology and high-powered weapons and equipment to easily take on the LAPD.
  • Cyber Cyclops: Dr. Vaughn's service-bots.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: John's father was also a cop. In episode 3, John tells a story about him and his father going ice fishing. When John slipped through the ice his father, of course, saved him.
    • In the same episode John mentions that his middle name was due to his father being fond of Elton John.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Chromes are genetically engineered to be superior to humans in both physical and mental performance. Most people also view them as superior. As a result, they feel alienated from general society because most people view them as fundamentally different, and elite schools are often overwhelmingly populated by Chromes. They are also under constant pressure to excel in everything. All this leads to Chromes developing mental health problems at a far higher rate than the general population.
  • Designer Baby: Comes up from time-to-time with "Chromes," who are genetically engineered in-utero to be more advanced and lack flaws, and generally display attitudes of superiority over regular people. Detective Stahl is one, though she doesn't seem to be on board with the movement, and has decidedly mixed feelings about being a chrome at times.
    Maldonado: Last time you were around chromes, you went to the target range for three hours. Poor targets didn't know what hit 'em.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: The third episode's plot is nothing less than the fabled "Die Hard in an Office Building", complete with the terrorists actually pulling a heist and manipulating standard police tactics to disable security systems.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • Fear of this is a major reason why Captain Maldonado wants John back on the force; with regard to InSyndicate, he's pretty much the only person she knows isn't working for them, since they nearly killed him.
    • The future's police force seems to have a fairly serious corruption problem. In "The Bends," the victim is proved innocent, but "The Bishop" turns out to be Police Captain Barros.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Episode 6 has one featuring two cars, a fire hydrant, a police drone, an MX, and a third car, all triggered by a DRN.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: John and the murder victim in episode two.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • The pressures and tragedies of being police officers had great impact on the emotional DRNs and many couldn't cope.
    • At least one "natural" who took the Fantastic Drug Vero couldn't cope and killed herself.
    • A man desperate to impress the girl he has an internet relationship with had been using an experimental Nano Machine plastic surgery treatment that had the side effect of killing whoever he got DNA from. He ends up jumping from a building in front of John after finding out the woman is blind, making his efforts meaningless.
  • Do Androids Dream?: A big reason for the DRNs' decommissioning from police work was that DRNs were programmed to be as close to human as possible. A large part of the show Dorian's struggle is to be recognised as a person by the people around him. Dorian obviously displays all human-like tendencies, like fearing death, wanting to working as police and so on. It's revealed in "Unbound" that the reason the DRNs were decommissioned was because some of them couldn't cope with emotions and ended up taking their own lives.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?
    • One serial killer targets bankers and televises their blackmail & deaths via internet chatroom, complete with comments very similar to what you'd find in an actual chat room, particularly one populated by Occupy supporters ("He deserves it!" "All bankers deserve to die!" "Wait for a crowd for more collateral damage!").
    • Anonymous gets a lookalike in Disrupt, a protest group who performs the same Internet Counterattack protests that Anonymous performs. Subverted in that the real killer is a lone hacker out for revenge for personal reasons, not the actual Disrupt group. The situation that sets them off also bears some resemblance to the Trayvon Martin shooting (a paranoid security system fatally guns down a probably-harmless teenager, leading to "Justice for Aaron" protests). invoked
  • Easter Egg: There are tiny toy robots that appear in various locations throughout an episode. It takes a screen cap to spot them all.
  • Emotion Chip: The "Synthetic Soul" devices.
  • Epic Fail: In Episode 5, Det. Paul had one job. Keep an eye on the witness. He left her unsupervised and as a result nearly got her killed.
  • Evil Counterpart: Danica to Dorian. Dorian even worries that he may become like her.
  • Expy: Your mileage may vary, but to Asimov fans, this series has a few shades of Elijah Baley and Daneel Olivaw in the characters of John Kennex (dislikes robots on general principle) and Dorian (a robot with near-human abilities). Dorian even has the Asimovian tradition in his name, being an expansion of his model line's initials DRN.
  • Eye Spy: Dorian's eyes or eye are removable, have a communication range of "a few" hundred meters, have some telephoto capability, may or may not project holograms, and were upgraded for infrared.
  • Fake Crossover: With the NFL. More precisely, an MX runs into Cleatus the NFL robot mascot.
  • Fake Static: John's response to being told to evacuate a building with the civilians rather than keep after the perpetrators, who are still in the building?
    John: "There's....I can'"
  • Fanservice: The XRN after she acquires a female body. To wit; it's Gina Carano in a corset, panties and fishnets.
  • Fantastic Drug:
    • "The Bends". Overdosing is apparently just as painful as the real-world effects of "the bends" due to failure to observe precautions when ascending from deep waters.
    • "Membliss", a small red pill that helps the taker open memory clusters to help the user remember past events they may have forgotten subconsciously.
    • "Vero", a rare synthetic that can be tailored to the DNA of a particular recipient, and which can enable the user to see, almost in real time, complex chemical formulas, equations, and mathematical data about anything they look at. It apparently also enables the user to predict the maximum likelihood path of a conversation.
  • Fantastic Racism: Androids aren't considered people. In the case of the MX units, that's not an unfair assessment, but Dorian is more human than most of the actual humans on the show.
    • John physically and verbally makes it know that he is not fond of the MX Units.
      • The first episode has him pushing one out of a moving vehicle.
      • In Episode 8, he shoots an MX point blank. His reason that it 'wouldn't shut up', though Dorian teases that he shot it because it insulted him (Dorian).
    • Paul appears to have an issue with androids, however the temperament towards his own is questionable.
      • He has been shown yelling at his MX unit and even ordering it to do mundane tasks.
      • In Episode 7, Paul appointed himself as 'Energy Marshal' and rationed out much of the energy charging to the MXs units, leaving Dorian to function at only half capacity. Dorian's lack of energy resulted in him having mood swings.
      • He addresses Dorian as "bot" in Episode 8.
      • That said, in "You Are Here", he gets upset when John shoots his MX in the face. While he may not think of them as living, that he kind of gets attached to his MX in a Companion Cube sort of way is evident. Only he gets to abuse his MX.
    • Captain Maldonado on the other hand is suggested to think of androids as living beings but stuck in the position where she can't actively say so.
    • Note, too, that while the creator of Dorian and Danica uses gendered pronouns to refer to them, Kennex specifically uses "it" to refer to Danica. Not surprising, considering how many people it slaughtered. However, when he later goes to comfort Dorian, he switches to "she" for his sake.
    • IRCs are there to preform human-like tasks and intimacy expressions for their assigned clients, however, they are just property of whomever created or owns them. And John's approach to questioning one during an interrogation was less than stellar.
  • Fantastic Slurs:
    • Dorian does not appreciate John calling him a "synthetic". But on the flip side, Dorian will use and/or emphasize 'man' when he is taking a jab at humans, though he'll use it in such a way as to sound like he's speaking casually.
    • Bang Bots or Sex Machines as opposed to their more formal title of Intimate Robot Companions.
  • Flashback: Prominent in episode 1 and 10. John endures painful flashes when visiting a recollectionist.
  • Foil: Dorian and John for each other. John is a person who has been desensitized and dehumanized due to the extreme violence and evil he has witnessed. Dorian is an artificial being who has been humanized and sensitized by those same things.
  • Fembot: The single XRN. Also, the Sex Bots seen earlier.
  • Foreign Queasine: Dorian gets annoyed at John's excuse that they have to wait for him to finish eating because it would be rude to the Japanese chef to leave without finishing the meal, so he orders him what looks like a whistling, metallic slug.
  • Gag Penis: Dorian possesses one, apparently, judging by John's reaction (subverted in that he hasn't "used it"). Bonus points in that he's modeled on a black male human.
  • Generation Xerox: John's father, Edward, was also a police officer and a detective.
  • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang: So far, the Black Khmers is a Cambodian gang that specializes in biotech while the Albanian mob is involved in the illegal sexbot market.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • Dorian's line was designed to be as human as possible, including emotions. It worked perfectly. As it turns out, humans are prone to psychotic breaks if you treat them like machines.
      • Also like humans, only a handful have the temperament and emotional stability necessary for police work. Not a good thing for a line custom-built for police work.
    • The XRN robots were designed to be physically and tactically superior to the MXs, posses the intuitive intelligence of the DRNs and not be crippled by the DRNs emotional and "conscience" issues. All those features worked perfectly but the prototype also developed a psychopathic personality and at the first opportunity went on a One-Man Army killing rampage.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: John is brutal with their captured criminal, and Dorian is the one that's worried about the guy's civil rights.
  • Good Old Robot: Dorian.
  • Groin Attack: In "Disrupt," Detective Paul is said to have suffered an infected piercing in his penis which was bad enough to require surgery. Ouch. It's not actually true, just a story invented by Kennex.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Kennex and Dorian defeat the XRN by turning one of her own high power grenades on her.
  • Hollywood Psych: In the pilot episode Kennex's official psychological evaluation describes him as suffering from "depression, mental atrophy, trauma onset, OCD, PTSD and psychological rejection of his synthetic body parts". Some of those seem valid, others are nonsense. Granted, definitions and terminology have probably changed by 2048, but by modern psychology, out of those "mental atrophy" is not a scientific term, "trauma onset" is not something a person suffers from directly but refers to the period of time when a trauma takes place, and finally, absolutely nothing about Kennex's behavior indicates him as having Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
  • Honey Trap: John's ex-girlfriend.
  • Hyper-Awareness: All the androids.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Aversion discussed (but not in the way of a Discussed Trope) when John tells Dorian that many early DRNs took their own lives because they couldn't handle the stresses of being cops.
    • The XRN, Danica, states that her sacrifice was necessary.
  • I See Dead People: A witness in the fifth episode seems able to speak with the dead.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Inverted with Kennex' psych evaluation. He agrees with the last item on the list.
  • In-Series Nickname: John and Dorian have spouted a few during their car banters, particularly episode 7.
    • John (by Dorian): Sergeant Whiskers, Mr. Friendly; White Cheetah, during his youth.
    • Dorian (by John): Coffee Warmer, Disco Face, Benedict Android, Mr. Happy, Happy Toaster, "D"
    • Richard (by John / Dorian): Paulie, Little Man, Captain Energy
  • Irony: In "Beholder" the serial killer is targeting people based on their looks in order to upgrade his own. He's doing so to woo a woman he's been talking with online using a digital recreation of the face he's trying to give himself, only to discover that she's blind and loved him for his personality.
  • The Juggernaut: Danica the XRN is portrayed as this. She's borderline unstoppable in combat, can shrug off nearly everything hurled at her, and manages to effortlessly overpower both Kennex and Dorian in a fistfight despite being outnumber and outgunned. It takes a high power grenade that blows a twenty foot hole in a concrete wall to finally put her down.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: The bad guys' plan in the pilot relies on making the cops think that they got a major break in the case but it is all just a series of misdirections. The bad guys simply need to get one of their men inside the precinct to plant a device that will disable the MXs so they can then kill the humans using a biological weapon and then walk in and take the evidence from the evidence warehouse.
  • Killer Robot: Danica operates like this.
  • Leonine Contract: The extortion racket in "Arrhythmia" runs on these. They offer black-market bio-mechanical heart transplants to people who have been rejected for hospital aid, and modify the hearts to stop after thirty days if they're not reset, forcing the recipients to pay for each month of their life.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: An odd example of this is in "Blood Brothers," when the witness the team is protecting claims to be a psychic medium, thanks to an experimental surgery she had that theoretically develops untapped parts of the brain. Whether or not she's crazy or if her operation actually gave her psychic powers is not determined (and it doesn't really have any bearing on the plot), but she's able to use her ability to learn something she wouldn't otherwise know twice over the course of the episode, and she seems pretty convinced she has actual powers.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Averted extremely well. Men and woman alike are victims and killers. Men and woman alike may have sympathetic or unsympathetic motives.
  • Moment Killer: Just when you think John Kennex and Valerie Stahl are going to hit it off at Leo's, who should show up but the owner of the exclusive club for chromes only. Talk about chrome-blocked.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Sexbots in general. Specifically, it was of course absolutely necessary for Danica to commandeer a sexbot for her new body and show her checking herself out.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Dorian can tell when John feels sexual attraction. Either toward Det. Stahl or the Sexbots.
  • Neck Snap: Dorian is strong enough to snap a thug's neck with one hand on his jaw.
  • New Media Are Evil: In "Simon Says" the killer attaches Explosive Leashes to people and makes them do stuff while streaming video of them online. Comments are mostly stuff like "blow them up", and "bitch deserves it", or "fuck those pigs".
    • BitCoin is portrayed in multiple episodes as the preferred medium of exchange for black market deals (and depicted as Credit-card- or USB-drive-sized devices). While it has been used for that, most crooks prefer cash or pre-paid gift cards as most merchants won't take BTC and the exchange rate is constantly fluctuating. While it's plausible that cash has been eliminated in this future, it's hard to believe that no physical currency exists anymore.
  • Nighttime Bathroom Phobia: Discussed in the episode "Unbound". When John shows the kids footage of a criminal getting his arm blown off by his fellow gang members, they all leave in disgust. He calls them "bed wetters".
  • 90% of Your Brain: In the episode Brain Brothers, one trial witness mentions having undergone the "Cerebellix Procedure", and Dorian explains that it's an unproven method to increase the percentage of brain usage in human beings.
  • No New Fashions in the Future: It's 2048, but none of the character's everyday clothing would look at all out of place today.
  • No-Sell: Dorian is unaffected by the beacon wave that takes out all of the newer androids. Same thing for the cop-killing gas that the syndicate member tries to use on him. He also takes a few shots to the chest with no significant damage.
  • Odd Couple: This trope is something of a staple of Buddy Cop Shows, and Kennex and Dorian are no exception.
  • Older Is Better: Dorian as an older DRN. That said, it's not really his age that makes him better, it's the fact that unlike MXs which follow pure logic and rigid direction, DRNs can make intuitive leaps and think in flexible ways. In a profession like a police detective, this is extremely useful. To be fair, while Dorian is used for detective-like purposes, most of the MXs are simply regular street cops or used as part of an assault team.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: In "The Bends," the detectives need someone good enough at chemistry to cook up a street drug and do it better than actual professional drug cooks. They recruit Rudy, the guy who spends all his time tinkering with androids.
  • The Only One I Trust: Captain Maldonado confides to Kennex that she suspects InSyndicate has a mole within the police force, as she figures since he very nearly got killed in their ambush, it's a safe bet he's not in on it.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Karl Urban's Fake American accent is good, but his Kiwi accent still slips through on occasion.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • John is out of commission due to the criminal of the week so Dorian and Paul have to work together. It culminates with Paul commenting that Dorian's plan is 'pretty smart' and then making a wise crack to his MX about whether the MX could pull off Dorian's plan.
    • While undercover at a homeless shelter looking for a serial killer that preys on the homeless, Paul gives a street kid some bitcoin so he can get off the streets for a night.
  • Psychic Powers: The Cerebellux procedure apparently causes the recipient's brain to acquire, for all intents and purposes, extrasensory perception.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Albeit two misfits. A fellow detective labels John and the DRN as two cops from the scrapheap.
  • Red Herring: In the episode "Are You Receiving?", a group grabs a bunch of hostages so the police will jam all communications in the area, which prevents the alarm at the nearby palladium processing plant from sounding as well.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • John as Red Oni to Dorian's Blue.
    • Color-inverted by the completely rational and unemotional MX-43s, whose temples light up with red circuit patterns when scanning or receiving and whose perspective is shown with a red tinge, as compared to the more humanistic and emotional Dorian, whose similar effects are cast in blue.
      • The neutral Sam-bots from 1x11 had their light tracers in green.
  • Robo Cam: MX and DRN model POVs are shown like this.
  • Running Gag:
    • Every couple episodes a MX unit is destroyed or severely damaged in a humorous way.
    • Within the fourth episode, Rudy keeps trying to add a fedora to the clothing he wears when undercover, and the others keep shooting it down.
  • Science Is Bad: Not bad in and of itself, but the opening narration claims that technology advanced faster than society could compensate for, resulting in dangerous drugs and weapons ending up in the hands of criminals and children.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The episode "You Are Here" revolves around an inescapable magic bullet "with an accuracy of 25 centimeters". Or enough to turn a shot to the heart into a complete miss. note 
  • Send in the Clones: Ethan Avery, a narcissistic sociopath, has himself illegally cloned so there can be more of him. When he's put on trial for murder his clones try to get him out.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Dorian and John respectively.
  • Sexbot: A great deal of them feature in the second episode.
  • Sherlock Scan: All the androids can do it. The one that stops John as he is driving away from his Back-Alley Doctor can tell that John just had a nosebleed and that he is taking painkillers. But he assumes that it is a side effect of the painkillers. Then the MX assigned to John sees him take the painkiller without having a nosebleed and gets suspicious.
  • Shipper on Deck: Maya all but pushes Detectives Kennex and Stahl together.
    • So is Dorian.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • In the Pilot episode, Detective Stahl mentions Loeurng Sak, which is an important part of Cambodian New Year where Cambodians do good deeds and avoid violence.
    • Also, "First Order Predicate Logic" is not technobabble. It's actually used in current A.I.s.
    • Palladium really is extremely valuable, especially in a technologically advanced society.
    • Solar flares would be an issue for an extremely power hungry society, more so than they are today.
    • Bullets capable of altering their flight path have actually been designed. Unlike the show, however, the best they can do is adjust their path by a few degrees through twisting and pivoting their head (like curving a baseball).
  • Shout-Out: Several, most of them to Cyberpunk properties.
  • Smart People Build Robots: Doctor Nigel Vaughn, who created the synthetic soul program along with Dorian and apparently didn't stop there.
  • Soft Glass: In the fourth episode Kennex gets thrown out of a pub through a window. He just gets up and dusts himself off.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Fringe. And also to Total Recall 2070.
  • Strapped to a Bomb: Episode 7, "Simon Says", revolves around a Mad Bomber attaching Explosive Leashes to people he feels have slighted him, and making them do his bidding.
  • Surveillance Drone: A number of them are occasionally seen hovering around the city.
  • Survivor Guilt: John seems to have it in spades according to his psych evaluation. He even undergoes illegal and dangerous procedures to regain his memories of the ambush.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: To a certain extent. A couple of the killers come off as having been driven to commit horrible acts by the fundamental injustice of the system around them; one faced an almost completely indifferent reaction to the suicide of her daughter because her daughter was a normal in a school full of genetically engineered children, for example, while another went off the deep end after the one person tethering her to the real world was killed by faulty technology. On the other hand, definitely averted with some of the others.
  • Take That!: To hacktivists and internet trolls everywhere: "Real protesters stand up for what they believe in, they don't hide behind a computer screen."
  • Technology Porn: Ooh yeah.
  • Tell Me About My Father: Done in a reverse when John visits his deceased friend's child and talks to him.
  • The Nose Knows: Several androids are portrayed as having this ability.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Ethan Avery gives one to Captain Maldonado in "Blood Brothers" and it sticks while the case against him is unraveling. Once he's convicted, though, she turns it back around on him.
  • Three Laws-Compliant:
    • Averted with the police androids. They carry guns and have no problems shooting at humans. They can disobey an order from a human, even a policeman. They have no problems going into dangerous situations where they can be damaged or destroyed. That said, they nevertheless embody the spirit of the three laws (that of being ethically good) and, to an extent, follow the so-called Zeroth Law. Other androids we've seen can be more compliant but by proxy, the less free will an android has, the less sentient they tend to be. This then is one of the things that makes Dorian - and other DRNs - special - they are good people because they choose to be.
    • However, it is revealed that Dorians are programmed with a variant on the First Law which requires them to prevent a human being from killing themselves.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The series takes place in 2048 and they are already in the second generation of android cops.
  • Uncanny Valley:The MX-series androids are almost certainly meant to evoke this trope, with Barbie Doll Anatomy, stiff expressions and movements and plasticky skin.
  • Vancouver Doubling: A heavily CGIed Vancouver, BC stands in for futuristic Los Angeles.
  • Verbal Tic: Dorian uses "man" a lot.
  • Vigilante Execution: An injured Barros claims that he can escape justice and ruin John. John shoots him in the head.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: John and Dorian, heavily to the vitriolic side.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the fourth episode, Maxwell and another thug disappear from the lab, and are not seen again.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: One of the underlying themes of the show. When an autopsy is performed on an android, we're clearly supposed to feel vaguely discomforted rather than interested in the technology. And Dorian often reacts to the plight of his fellow machines, though few humans tend to notice. On the other hand, the MX units tend to get no sympathy from either John or Dorian.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: Kennex takes out Danica by triggering one of the grenades she's carrying around.
  • Wire Dilemma: After Dorian is hit in the head by a bullet in 1x03, John is forced to clip a tendon in Dorian's head to bypass the damaged area and keep him from shutting down. He has Dorian talking him through it and only needs to clip the magenta one...except they're all pretty close together in color, with a punny reference to Fifty Shades of Grey, presumably:
    Dorian: "I said magenta; that was lavender."
    John: "That was magenta—there's fifty shades of purple in there!"
  • World of Snark: Kennex and Dorian certainly seem to enjoy cutting each other down to size and their co-workers get in on the act as well. Justified in that it's cop humor.