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Series / Blue Heelers

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"For the police of Mount Thomas, life is about more than the badge."

Thanks to Underbelly, you might think that the most dangerous place in Victoria, Australia between 1994 and 2006 is Melbourne. Right?

Try about 300km Northwest, in Mt Thomas.

The long running and much beloved Australian drama, Blue Heelers centers on the police and residents of a small country town. Set in the fictional Victorian town of Mount Thomas, located near Swan Hill and Benalla, it portrays the job and lives of the officers stationed there as they come to terms with everything from murders and drug runners to community events to how their careers affects their lives. Much like Heartbeat, stories would center around the mundane, such as a vandal who turns out to be a chook (though this would end in the show's final seasons) and is willing to ignore the premise of the show: crime, in favor of Character Development.

This show provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: A given since they are police, they each get a chance to play this.
  • Attempted Rape: Par for the course in a police drama, with most of the female officers falling victim to this.
  • Author Avatar: Certain characters would be used to express the writer's views, and when the series was revamped and they were able to get Geoff Morrel his character of Mark Jacobs was used to comment on issues such as enforcing road laws for revenue raising or politics (such as how one offender being allowed to vote explains the Liberals, and his amusement when a shooting has a picture of Prime Minister John Howard was shot.)
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: If your name happens to be Superintendant Adamson, as a dangerous gunman found out.
  • Back for the Finale: Adam Cooper, a regular for most of the first five seasons before being fired for corruption, returned in the final two-parter to frame Tom.
  • Back Story: Wayne and Maggie were lovers, Nick works in traffic because he lost his wife and daughter in a car crash, Dash was nearly raped in school and decided to join the police force...there's a lot of it.
  • Berserk Button: A mild one for Tom when someone speaks ill of the mentally handicapped Clancy Freeman. A much stronger, Truthin Television one for everyone...pedophiles. Nick gets one with references to being a Nazi, being German and his father being one (the fact that his surname is Schultz and that he gets promoted to Sergeant in the fourth season probably doesn't help), and drivers who have or could cause a crash, seeing as he lost his wife and daughter that way.
  • Biblical Bad Guy: One episode has a Baptist minister who goes off the deep end.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Several instances come to mind, but worthy of mention is in the episode when Joss is about to be executed. When Kelly aims her service revolver at the gunman's head the scene shifts back to show every Blue Heeler there backing her up.
  • Big Eater: William McInnes is often found eating in the scenes where he plays Nick. This and his weight is very much a Running Gag for Tom.
  • Boot Camp Episode: Three members of the Mount Thomas and St. Davids police take part in a team building adventure course, where the constables and Inspector are equal, much to Falcon-Price's dismay.
  • Brick Joke: Actor William Mc Innes revealed how he would always order catering and one time he had fourteen pork rolls, much to the displeasure of his co stars. Five years after he left the role there was an episode where Ben and his basketball team all fell sick after eating pork rolls, a nod to the amusing incident.
  • Catchphrase: Tom had one on country policing. 'Country policing is all about the people.'
  • Character Development: A rather large premise of the series, from city cops learning the country way to how the station bombing affects the town.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A lot, from a machete being sharpened that will later be used to try and kill PJ to firearms training being shown in two later scenes and become the crux of PJ's inquest into the shooting of Raylene Darcy.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In Jonesy's first episode there is drag racing and one of the drivers turns out to have a suspected stolen engine in his car. He claims to have been fitted up and Tess, knowing Jones has just about everything in his personal vehicle, asks is he happens to have a file that she thinks might have been used to remove the serial number. Not knowing what Tess is getting at he tells her no, but he does have an angle grinder.
  • Costumer: The end credits to one episode revolving around old films had the actors dress as 1930s style cops and robbers.
  • Cowboy Cop: Joss in shown in his first episode being caught out fantasizing he's Dirty Harry.
  • Crime Time Soap: Cop killers? Paedophiles? Losing a dedicated traffic portion of the station? Bah, most fans were more interested in something like Maggie and PJ's relationship and the writers responded, with the famous season seven opening episodes being some of the most watched in the series where Maggie has to leave to go into witness protection, is murdered, and PJ's hunt for her killers.
  • Darker and Edgier: The direction the show went in the eleventh season, with a number of shake ups to shock audiances into watching.
    • For those wondering, the gambit (which was, unsurprisingly, a reaction to declining ratings) briefly payed off, giving the series enough of a boost to keep it going for a twelfth and a thirteenth season (though the thirteenth season was only 11 episodes long, whereas the first twelve seasons were all 40 or so episodes long) before it was finally cancelled.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Senior Sergeant Nick Schultz fulfilled this role during his time in Mount Thomas, challenged by Dash McKinnily, and later her replacement Jo Parish would take over. PJ Hasham and others would have their moments.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: PJ, Adam, Jack and Jonesey all had failed love lives.
  • Disability Superpower: Clancy was instrumental to solving several cases despite his handicaps, as well as quite likely saving Tom's grandson from brain damage.
  • Downer Ending: Pigs Will Fly. A suspect in the station bombing commits suicide with his daughter after losing everything, PJ and Nick are called out on hounding him into his grave, Susie tries to comfort Ben but they fall for each other, despite her being with Evan, and the police are no closer to the bombers.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Neither a drill sergeant nor that nasty, but Tess was initially rather officious and very much rubbed people the wrong way. When Nick tried out as sergeant and running the station he was considerably worse than his normal prickly behaviour.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Ben went on a number of benders, and Jonesey risked doing the same thing.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Most of the cast, beginning with when Maggie arrives in town and is pulled up by a police breatho.
    PJ: I'll take this one.
    Nick: Make sure she's not married this time mate.
  • Eyepatch of Power: And a medical one at that, when Tom becomes a Inspector Javert type and aggressively pursues his wife's murderers.
  • Fair Cop: Half the cast might qualify, though this was hardly played up.
  • Fake Defector: Maggie and Tess pretend to be corrupt, the former doing so as a extended story arc.
  • Femme Fatale: Susie goes from Evan to Ben; who had shot her husband, to Evan again to Alex to a victim of a stolen car, in less than a year.
  • The Ghost: Tom's first wife Nell, killed in a car crash towards the end of the first season.
  • Glory Hound: Inspector Falcon-Price pulls this, and the high brass do get concerned about the police image.
  • Good is Not Nice: Nick in spades. In order to help Dash get over her fear of driving he makes her relive the car crash she was in. To help Tom's daughter in the sway of a cult he roars, yells and screams at her about how his wife was brainwashed into turning on her family.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: Yes, believe it or not one case had the Mount Thomas police wonder if a suspect might have been a ninja, given the Japanese links and eyewitness reports.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bomb: In "End of Innocence", Tom is threatened by an explosives expert from Vietnam. When Clancy brings a bag in he offhandedly tells him to give it to Jo, realizing too late that it was a bomb.
  • Inspector Javert: Falcon-Price was hell-bent with ending the careers of Ben, Tom, anyone who did not fit his mold and closing the station, to the point where he puts Tom up to active duty, knowing he just had cancer surgery and was not up to it. Monica Draper initially came across this way with PJ, but she was consistently more reasonable.
  • Internal Affairs: And boy, are the toecutters loathed. Mick Doyle even threw out his son when he joined the Ethical Standards Department.
  • It's the Principle of the Thing: The series generally takes this approach, with one episode using the trope name where a teenager has his hair pulled by a teacher because it's length is considered unacceptable, and the issue over it being Ain't No Rule and how the matter is still technically assault despite it not being taken seriously.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Nick tries this on a pedophile bragging about how evil he is, and again when he roars at a station bombing suspect.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Tom reaches this during his darker moments after the station bombing and his wife's murder, in particular when he tries to drown Tarni Baxter.
  • Killed Off for Real: Of the regular cast, Wayne (run over by a criminal), Maggie (shot by her brother) and Jo (killed in the station bombing). A few recurring guest characters as well, in particular Clancy (also caught in the bombing) and Grace (killed by the Baxters around the same time).
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • Tom wanted a review team to think Mount Thomas was the crime capital of Australia. Which it pretty much is.
    • Later he would tell a French film maker that a missing police member is not a subject for television. This was about the fourth time this plot was used that year.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: A common treatment of new, young officers.
  • Live Episode: "Reasonable Doubts" in season 11.
  • Locked in a Freezer: The resolution of Maggie and PJ's UST occurs when they are trapped in a mine collapse, and - thinking they might die - decide to act on their true feelings for one another.
  • The Missus and the Ex: Maggie arrived in Mt. Thomas to be reunited with her academy-mate and ex-boyfriend Wayne, now married to Roz.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: PJ goes through a period of self doubt after shooting Raylene Darcy.
  • Na´ve Newcomer: Maggie in the first season, most of the junior constables in subsequent seasons.
  • New Era Speech: "Welcome to the rest of your lives under my command."
  • Not in My Backyard!: The trope name and quote is a title of one early episode and Tom's comments in his novel respectively, revolving around plans to build a prison for the criminally insane. The issue would be addressed from different points of view at other times for logging and a abattoir, siding with those against it to the point the Heelers are portrayed as colluding against the prison and those for a project by showing workers still had rights and the opposition as feral.
  • Obvious Object Could Be Anything: Happens with a toy giraffe in one episode.
  • Pac Man Fever: Tess adopts Hailey from a broken home and is so determined to give her a good Christmas she thinks to get her a Nintendo. They are playing Super Mario 64 later and already up to one of the last levels, so either Tess got it second hand, they are the best video game players ever or someone goofed.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: In "Fair Crack of the Whip", Jeffrey Walker's character gives his name as "Rowdy Yates". Tom replies. "Sure it's not Dirty Harry Callahan?" before adding that Clint Eastwood played him too. Maggie doesn't get the reference, since it's "before my time", but she does recognise the Rawhide theme from The Blues Brothers when Nick starts singing it. Tom is not impressed, saying that he's "running a kindergarten here."
  • Professional Wrestling: Several of the Heelers are into this, with Jonesey even taking part in an event.
  • Psycho Lesbian: A series of episodes in 2005 had them, with special mention going to Child's Play where two teen girls get off on raping and butchering the girl one of their boyfriends was with.
  • Pun-Based Title:
    • A Blue Heeler is a breed of dog, typically used for rounding up livestock, with distinctive blue-grey fur.
    • Lampshaded by actor Ditch Davey, while hosting a real life police show he described the police chasing a suspect as 'nipping at his heels, like a couple of blue heelers.'
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Evan pulls this at times.
    "What have you done? What have you done?"
    • Tom has his moments as well. "You shot. Doherty's. Dog?!"
  • Rank Up: Various constables becoming senior constables, senior constables becoming sergeants, Tom himself becoming a senior sergeant, and Jonesy becoming a detective towards the end of the series.
  • Sergeant Rock: Tom and Mark Jacobs during his run. Tess Gallagher wanted to be this. When he is not running the station Nick loses much of his nastiness and becomes this.
  • Series Fauxnale: A strange example in the episode where Tom marries Grace, which would seem like a fitting end to the show, and instead of previews for next week John Wood announces that Blue Heelers will not be seen. What looks to be a final goodbye turns out to be regular programming being pushed aside because it was one year since September 11.
  • Shellshocked Veteran: There Last Night had a Vietnam vet who was there last night, he kept reliving his tour of duty. Other episodes would touch on Vietnam.
  • Shoot the Dog: One sergeant is basically crucified by Tom to show that he is no longer a good guy.
  • Sick Captive Scam: In one episode a criminal swallows a handful of thumbtacks when he is caught: guaranteeing that the police will take him straight to the hospital, where it will be easier for his gang to break him out than if he was in jail.
  • Sixth Ranger: Adam arrives about two thirds of the way through season 1.
  • Sixth Ranger Traitor: Wayne's first replacement Jack Woodley, a detective who was shortly afterwards caught planting evidence.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Nick and Dr Zoe Hamilton, eventually leading to their marriage and moving to Richmond. Tess and Jonesey do this a bit as well.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Maggie was the only regular female officer for most of the first three seasons: the only other female regulars at the time were Chris (owner of the local pub and the only character besides Tom to be a regular from start to finish, if not in every episode) and Roz (Wayne's wife, who did work at the station for the majority of her appearances in the first season, before being written out and replaced with another male cop.)
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: For the DVDs. When Jack Lawson was introduced he was treated as the hero of the series and featured all over the covers, menus and image galleries, even past the point when he had well and truly left the series. When it was clear Jack was gone and not coming back the DVDs suffered greatly in quality and release dates.
  • Stereo Fibbing: Inverted in the first episode when Tom introduces Maggie to Wayne. Wayne tells him that they met at the pub last night, at the same time as Maggie tells him they were at the police academy together, and Tom asks, "Well, which is it?" Both are true, but it's obvious to Tom that Wayne is holding something back.
  • The Stoic: Matthew Graham, having joined the police force after the tragedies he witnessed as a soldier in East Timor.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Tom prefers his subordinates to address him as "Boss" rather than "Sir" or "Sarge".
  • Title Drop: Blue Heelers in early episodes, as well as episode titles throughout the series.
  • True Companions: Played straight most of the time, unless some element threatens to split the team apart.

  • Truth in Television: Several storylines are Ripped from the Headlines including criticism of revenue raising and obsolete S&W .38 revolvers still being used, and when the series was retooled we would see the surge blue and leather jackets and boonie hats phased out for the current paramilitary dark blue jumpers and updated uniforms. When Ford or Holden general duties vehicles were unavailable Toyota or Mazda stand ins would be done up in standard Australian Police style: turns out now that Ford and Holden are no longer Australian police are looking at foreign vehicles with Victoria leaning towards Mercedes Benz and trial Mustangs and Porches, and other states looking at alternatives including the Toyota and Mazda stand ins.

  • Two Girls to a Team: This was the usual pattern following Dash's arrival in season 3, up until the station bombing in season 11. From then on, it was five or six men to three women, plus Chris.
  • The Vietnam Vet: Tom served in the war with the Australian Army. Most of the suspects/persons of interests encountered by the police are Vietnam War vets who had a hard time integrating back to civilian life.
  • The Vietnam War: Tom served in it and his experiences are part of what makes him the character he is, fiercely loyal to fellow soldiers and traditions such as ANZAC and Remembrance Day. Specific storylines focus on veterans unable to cope with the war, ex soldiers who became bikers rather than cops, Tom's friend shaking his head at the age of a prospective sergeant (father and grandfather fought in Vietnam), a veteran's son who hates him, and another ex soldier who's feral enough to be a suspect in the station bombing.
  • The Voice: One of the writers is the Victorian police radio operator.
  • Welcome Episode: Maggie's arrival in Mt. Thomas is the focus of the first episode.
  • Wham Episode: Especially in the last three seasons as part of the Darker and Edgier direction of the show, the biggest wham being the appropriately titled "End of Innocence", which ended with the station being blown up and the deaths of Clancy Freeman and Constable Jo Parrish.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tom's a big culprit of this where he makes some of the criminals look in the 11th\12th season, and in one episode revolving around the rape and butchering of a young girl his officers risk joining him.