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"Does it matter?"

"Every person who has plotted against me will feel the force of my wrath. No one will be left unscathed."
Mayor Tom Kane

Boss is an American drama series starring Kelsey Grammer that aired on Starz from 2011 to 2012.

The series begins when Chicago Mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) is diagnosed with Lewy Body dementia, a degenerative neurological disease that will eventually kill him. Unwilling to step down from his throne, Kane decides to hide his condition from everyone around him, including his own family. It won't take too long for others to notice that something is wrong: however his closest assistants, Kitty O'Neil (Kathleen Robertson) and Ezra Stone, are too afraid of him to ask, and his wife Meredith simply doesn't care. As if this wasn't enough, Kane also has trouble trying to reconcile with ex-addict daughter Emma, and to keep Chicago Sentinel reporter Sam Miller from digging too deep into the dirt...

Eventually the allegiances shift and the political game turns into a fight to the death when everyone else tries to remove Kane from control - and prevent him taking the city down with him.

On November 20, 2012, Starz announced the cancellation of the show. It ran for total of 2 Seasons (18 episodes). Against some very fierce competition, Kelsey Grammer took home the 2011 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama Series.

This series contains examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Kane develops an obsession with Mona Fredericks during Season 2, to the point where he arranges to have hidden cameras planted all over her house.
  • Abusive Parents: The Kanes threw Emma under the bus when she became a liability to their political careers, and keep manipulating her emotionally to further their own agendas. Meredith doesn't even pretend like she cares about her and seems stunned that Emma pushed her after she slapped her first.
  • Actor Allusion: The series premiere is titled "Listen", and in the fourth episode Kane says, "I'm listening."
  • Ambition Is Evil: One of the motifs of the series. Chicago and to a lesser extent Illinois are full of schemers and corrupt politicians only worried about their own agendas and whose ambitions lead to reprehensible acts time and again.
  • The Atoner: Subverted with Kane in Season 2. He briefly appears to have some regrets about previous misgivings and being set to correct them, but it's all bullshit, as the ones who know him well evaluate.
  • Badass Boast: Kane has grounds to brag about his political prowess and often does it in an overbearing and commanding way.
    Kane: Every person who has plotted against me will feel the force of my wrath. No one will be left unscathed.
    Kane: I'm not done yet. I will remove all obstructions. The thugs, criminal and financial, have no idea what is coming; change according to my will.
  • Badass Bureaucrat: Kane is a political beast and always delivers on his promises about destroying anyone who dares to cross him.
    Mona Fredricks: People forget a fundamental truth. Tom Kane always finds a way. The further you back him into a corner, the more painful the cuts when he fights his way out.
  • Bad Boss: Tom Kane. As well as everyone else in a leadership position in the show, more or less.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Tom comes out on top both seasons.
  • Being Good Sucks: Things don't turn out well for people with good intentions and goals or with a commitment to the truth in the universe of Boss.
  • Break the Cutie:
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Ian and Emma end up sleeping together. Ian is aware they are half-siblings. She is not, and she doesn't take it well when she finds out.
  • Bury Your Gays: Invoked by Kane, who sets up a classic "dead girl, live boy" bed scandal against Senator Walsh when one of his goons slips a mickey into Tina's drink.
  • Cassandra Truth: Invoked in the finale as Miller says he's about to break the story about Kane's health issues. His editor points out "even if that were true, which I doubt", after Miller's "expose" of Kane was "proven" false, "no one can ever believe another word you say."
  • Consummate Liar: A second nature for Kane, who is also a master of the Bastardly Speech.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Gerald "Babe" McGantry is a greedy property developer and political financier with a nastier demeanor than Kane's.
  • Cut Short: The run ends with season 2, with some of the plots Left Hanging. Not that you would expect everything to be wrapped up in a neat bow here.
  • Darkest Hour: Kane faces huge, career-ending crises at least once per season when he's put one step away from a shameful resignation or worse.
  • Domestic Abuse: Tom Kane gets violent with his wife Meredith whenever he feels she has stepped over a line or wronged him. His final scene in the series also has him keep oxygen from Meredith (her having recently lost half a lung in the assassination attempt) in order to bring her to heel.
  • The Dreaded: Kane instills fear in the hearts of his underlings and adversaries, and has a well-earned reputation for destroying—politically or literally—antagonists who act against his designs.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Kane's unwillingness to throw anyone a bone alienates or annoys most of the people around him.
  • Et Tu, Brute?/The Starscream: Kane prefers to rule through fear rather than through respect, but he's surprised when his underlings or peers become disloyal and betray him. Prominent examples include Meredith, Ezra and Kitty.
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • When Kane condescendingly chats with Alderman Mata while taking a crap, the mayor stands up, deliberately shakes Mata's hand and only then he washes his own.
    • Mona Fredricks calls Kane out and accuses him of doing things For the Evulz.
    • Making Ben get on his knees when he comes to beg him for forgiveness.
  • Evil Will Fail: Played with as one of the themes of the series. Mayor Kane is dying and his absolutist style plants the seeds of his own destruction, but his ways are effective and he rides the storms out because he is a master of troubled waters. Underscored in the credits with the song "Satan, your kingdom must come down."
  • Feed the Mole: When Kane realizes that Kitty is leaking info to his adversaries, he uses it to his own advantage by feigning that he's stepping down.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: the Grey-Haired Man, a mysterious acquintance and a personal hitman of Kane. Eventually subverted with Kitty.
  • Game Changer: The Mid-Season Twist in Episode 7 mentioned below shifts the focus from the gubernatorial election to Kane's struggle to stay in power.
  • Graceful Loser: Mac Cullen, when he loses the primary to Zajac. It's subverted in season 2 when the winner turns to the loser for advice and gets a simple answer: "Eat shit."
  • Grammar Nazi: Kane expresses his hate towards the Oxford comma and bans it from his speeches. Ian Todd has no idea what it is, but plays along perfectly.
  • Handsome Lech: Ben Zajac. He tries (and usually succeeds) to have sex with every female he sees. This comes back to bite him more than once.
  • Happy Marriage Charade: The rule rather than the exception. The wives of the politicians tend to be a cross of Lady Macbeth with a Stepford Smiler and are putting up a façade. Implied with the Walshes, the Fredricks are a notable aversion.
  • Hazy-Feel Turn:
  • Hiding the Handicap: Kane, even if it means taking medication with worse, but not outwardly visible, side effects.
  • Imagine Spot: Kane suffers from very realistic hallucinations.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Sam Miller, who is determined to uncover the shady facets of the mayor. By the end of the series, he's not only lost his job, his credibility is also ruined, effectively ending his career as a journalist.
  • It's All About Me: Tom Kane did good things for the city in the past, but in the present day he's all about self preservation and remaining in power for the sake of power.
  • Jerkass: Tom Kane is a sociopath who enjoys domineering over his subjects. When he does something that may indicate that he has a heart, it turns out he had a perfectly cold and selfish reason to do so.
  • Karma Houdini: Illness aside, no matter what his opponents throw at him, Kane trumps them all.
  • Kubrick Stare: Just look at that picture.
  • The Lancer: Stone to Kane, in that the mayor is the protagonist, in practice he's The Consigliere.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Ian Todd's slimy behavior makes perfect sense when it's revealed that he's Kane's son. They even share a small motto: "Does it matter?"
  • Manipulative Bastard: Tom Kane is a brilliant chessmaster who knows every trick in the book, and then some more of his own invention.
  • Mayor Pain: Kane is probably the poster boy for a non-supernatural version of the Wilkins.
  • Mid-Season Twist: At the end of Episode 5 it is revealed that absolutely everyone has joined forces to bring Kane down, and that Zajac has been chosen to run against him at the next election for Mayor. Also counts as a Wham Episode.
  • Morality Pet: Kane appoints Mona Fredricks, a principled politician, as his right-hand woman and supports her progressive social agenda. Subverted when Kane reveals that he's only seeking the respect of an upstanding official and he destroys her political and personal projects.
  • Necessarily Evil: Discussed by Kane, who also points out that the lesser of two evils is still evil.
  • New Era Speech: Inverted when Kane rallies his precinct captains before the primary. Instead of promising change, he espouses the necessity of everything remaining the same.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Averted. Tom is nasty to everyone, particularly when the cameras aren't rolling.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Tom is pretty obviously based on Richard Daley Sr. However Daley (probably) wasn't a sociopathic murderer. Kane's one noble trait is that he does genuinely seem to care about Chicago. While his quest for power is his main goal he's never shown deliberately doing anything to hurt the city and actively uses his vast influence to benefit it many times. For all of the criticisms of Daley, history shows that he did save the city from the same fate as other Rust Belt cities.
  • No Party Given: Grammer discusses that they made a conscious decision not to portray Kane as belonging to any particular party because both parties are capable of doing the same stuff. He appears to be the second mayor of the city after the mandate of Daley the Elder — it's not clear if the Younger exists in this continuity — real life Chicago votes heavily Democrat (Chicago hasn't had a Republican mayor since 1931), and Kane's party is mentioned to have progressive, Latino, and Black caucuses (none of the three being Republican constituencies). Senator Walsh, whose platform includes denying felons the right to vote, is implied to be a Republican.
  • Off the Wagon: Emma after Kane gets her arrested for drug dealing.
  • Only a Model: Literal example with the planned remodelation of Lennox Gardens. It never comes to pass and it's just for show. Meaningfully, two workers are briefly seen taking it away from the mayor's office and it's later replaced by a very feasible casino.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Kane is always second-guessed, and for good reasons, when he abandons his gruffy demeanor. Zajac's wife also sees through her husband's softer moments.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Hannah Ware's British accent leaks through Emma often.
  • Permanent Elected Official: Kane has been the mayor of Chicago for more than two decades and is not leaving power anytime soon because he dominates the political machine. The governor of Illinois is in his fourth term but is a weaker example as he rules under the shadow of Kane.
  • Posthumous Character: Ezra Stone keeps appearing in Kane's mind as an inconvenient voice of conscience.
  • Puppet King: Zajac specifically swears not to become this. Ironic since he's already just a decoy, and his wife is the one who actually does the decisions.
  • The Reveal: Ian Todd is Kane's illegitimate son, and the assassination attempt was staged by Kane himself for political gain.
  • Secretly Dying: Kane hides his illness from everyone except his doctor.
  • Series Fauxnale: The Season 1 finale works as one, suggesting that Kane dies of his illness, but the show got renewed for a new season despite the low ratings.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Mayor Kane's underlings are very fond of this tactic and use it to great effect to intimidate potential threats. It helps to establish Kane as a thuggish kingpin.
  • Shout-Out: Several obligatory ones to Citizen Kane, a film where the protagonist is an unpleasant, narcissistic big-shot who is Lonely at the Top, just like Mayor Kane. Some references fall flat on the characters.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Kane gets an idea after noticing one of the many CCTV public cameras and begins to monitor and spy on Mona Fredericks's private life in Season 2, sex and all.
  • Slave to PR: Public opinion and finding a way to spin things are the everyday bread and butter to Kane and other high profile figures.
  • Sleazy Politician/Corrupt Politician: The series is built on these. Officials who try to be honest don't tend to go far. Kane is a spectacularly sordid lynchpin, but Alderman Ross, Kane's main foil and leader of the opposition, falls quickly from his apparent high-horse.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Off the scale on cynicism's side. Chicago is a Wretched Hive ruled with an iron glove by a petty, untouchable, murderous tyrant and it only gets worse as the series progresses. The alternatives aren't much better.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Murderous variation with Tina.
  • Spiritual Successor: "Citizen Bob, the series". Grammer resumes his job as an unhindered, criminal mayor, hell-bent on building highways.
  • The Unfettered: Saying that Kane is ruthless would be an understatement.
  • Unholy Matrimony: The Kanes form a great, if nefarious, political team.
  • Villain Protagonist: Tom Kane, a power-hungry sociopath. Sleazy Politician doesn't begin to describe him.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: While not universally adored, Kane has charisma and knows how to use it.
  • Vote Early, Vote Often: Richard Daley would be proud of his successor. Kane does it with style by closing several electoral offices which may attract certain inconvenient voters.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Emma Kane, who uses illegal means to get prescription drugs to the church she works for. The drugs are given to those in need who can't afford them.
    • Subverted with her father. He certainly fancies himself to be this trope, but when you really get right down to it, the only thing he really cares about is his own personal power, not the greater good.
  • Worthy Opponent: Defied. Tom obliterates anyone stupid enough to challenge him.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Sam believes that the crusading journalist he is will prove and expose the corruption of Kane and the truth will out. He ends the series disgraced, fired and humiliated while Kane remains as powerful as ever.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Stone is shot by Kane's hitman in the Season 1 Finale. The hitman himself offs himself in the Season 2 finale when he becomes a liability.
  • You Monster!: Tom Kane is called a monster or Satan several times.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Kane is ill and there's no cure for his condition. Even though the series ends with him on top, it's only a matter of time until he either must step down of his own accord, or his condition becomes known and he is forced out.