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Series / Broadchurch

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A town wrapped in secrets...

Broadchurch is an ITV Detective Drama series, starring David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker and Arthur Darvill. The series premiered in 2013 and ran for three 8-episode series through 2017.

In the eponymous town, 11-year-old boy Danny Latimer is found dead. Recently arrived DI Alec Hardy (Tennant) leads the investigation, with the assistance of DS Ellie Miller (Colman) — despite her resentment that Hardy got the promotion that she felt was rightfully hers while she was on holiday. As they dig into the goings on at the apparently quiet seaside town, a lot of skeletons start falling out of closets.

The first series was a huge hit for ITV. The second series, which aired in 2015, deals with revelations and fallout from the first, along with a new mystery from Hardy's past. The third series, which aired in 2017, deals with a rape investigation, along with the continuing aftermath from the first.

Behind the scenes, the show appears to have been a bit of an unofficial Doctor Who reunion — in addition to Tennant (the Tenth Doctor), it also features Arthur Darvill (Rory), Eve Myles (Gwen from Torchwood) and several other actors (including Colman) who guest starred on Doctor Who. In addition, its writer Chris Chibnall (co-producer and head writer of Torchwood's first two series) was later confirmed as the showrunner for Doctor Who beginning with series 11 in 2018, and Jodie Whittaker was later cast as the Thirteenth Doctor, to start at the same date as Chibnall.

Fox aired an American adaptation of the series, titled Gracepoint, with David Tennant reprising the role of the lead detective (though oddly enough, he's also one of the few characters whose name was changed) alongside Anna Gunn as his partner, with Michael Pena, Nick Nolte, and Jacki Weaver among the supporting cast. A French remake set in Corsica titled Malaterra has also been made.

Tropes associated with Broadchurch:

  • Aborted Arc: Jocelyn getting Sharon's son's case reopened is never visited again in Series 3, likely because of how poorly received everything involving the lawyers was.
  • Accidental Murder:
    • The killer never intended to murder Danny at all.
    • Neither did Lisa's killer in series 2.
  • Acquitted Too Late: Jack Marshall, after initially being accused of killing Danny, is cleared as a suspect after he kills himself.
  • All There in the Manual: A novelisation and several short stories were released that explain details not covered on the screen, such as Miller's apparent demotion to a PC in the second season. "The End is Where it Begins" reveals that the move to uniform was her own choice, an attempt to find anonymity.
  • Amicable Exes: Even though their marriage ended on a sour note, Hardy and his ex-wife Tess try to at least be civil with each other and are on relatively friendly terms when they work together in season 2.
  • Amoral Attorney: Sharon Bishop in series 2 is a London barrister convinced to take on the case, and the first thing she does when in Broadchurch after meeting her client (who she tells to stop talking) and her former boss is dig up Danny's body for a new autopsy, opening Broadchurch's wounds. The other defence attorney Abby Thompson is told by her counterpart Ben Haywood in the penultimate episode that he thinks she's a horrible person.
  • Apple of Discord: Hardy tells Lee about Claire's abortion to break their united front.
  • Artistic License – Law: Taken up to eleven and crosses the line several times in series 2, to the point where stories abounded about British viewers having to explain to friends and relatives overseas who were watching the show that that's not how the British legal system actually works. There's a reason why the whole trial storyline was a big turn-off for viewers.
    • The prosecution barrister, who appears to have been chosen at the victim's family's request (something which would never happen in real life), has her hands on the Idiot Ball so much that her legal expertise becomes an Informed Ability.
    • No judge would have ruled the defendant's confession as inadmissible for the reasons given. Joe was beaten up by Ellie after he'd confessed to killing Danny, a fact that any half-decent prosecution team would have been able to verify just by looking at the times on the police station CCTV footage, thus proving that police brutality clearly wasn't a factor in getting him to confess.
    • Various characters who are called as witnesses are seen sitting in the court's public gallery before they give evidence, which is not allowed in real life.
    • Almost all of the case for the defence would have been inadmissible in a real court as Sharon Bishop's entire argument was based on hearsay, irrelevant information, misleading statements and a witness being encouraged to commit perjury. Joe wouldn't have been acquitted of the murder charge in real life because of this.
  • "Awkward Silence" Entrance: In the seventh episode of Season 1, when Hardy enters the office after leaving from the hospital much earlier than anyone expected.
  • Bait the Dog: Subverted. Nigel, who was more of a neutral character, suddenly aims at Susan Wright's dog with his crossbow but then the scene cuts away. We later learn he did not harm the dog after all.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Alec looks more shaven in the flashbacks (before he failed the Sandbrook case).
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible:
    • Half the people in Broadchurch harbor a Big Secret and need their alibis or other extenuating information dragged out of them, especially Susan. This very nearly drives Hardy to distraction, as every single time he points out that they are trying to catch a killer and don't care about anything else.
    • The same goes for the Sandbrook case, in which literally everyone involved is found to be lying about something.
  • Big Secret: EVERYONE, including Hardy. Danny has £500 in cash hidden in his bedroom, his sister has cocaine in hers and had a boyfriend who was dating a minor, his dad was having an affair, his mum is pregnant... A major theme of the show, in fact: everyone has secrets, even people who you wouldn't suspect, and every single secret is harmful to someone (which is why it's being kept secret).
  • Big "SHUT UP!": After Joe Miller is acquitted, and the citizens of Broadchurch, not happy about it, inform him that since he did not have the decency to take responsibility, he no longer has a place among them and therefore will leave without ever returning, he tries to object but Ellie shushes him by directly playing this trope.
    Beth Latimer: [To Joe Miller] We all get to live. But you... you've no life left. Not here.
    Joe Miller: I was found innocent...
    Ellie Miller: SHUT UP! Just shut up, you piece of shit!
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • To series 1. Danny's killer is caught, though the revelation of his identity causes even more harm. The community comes together to give a poignant tribute to Danny's memory. The Latimers have come through as a family and have a new child to look forward to.
    • Series 2 seems to be making this a trend. The Sandbrook murder is solved, but Hardy is almost crushed by his two year experience and seems lost after. Joe Miller walks a free man, but he is exiled from Broadchurch on threat of death. The Latimers appear to be mending fences with Ellie as they meet up at the beach to pay their respects to Danny.
    • Series 3 sticks to the trend. Alec and Ellie capture a serial rapist and his unwilling accomplice while maintaing their close professional relationship and resolving most of their respective personal issues. At the same time, Mark and Beth go their separate ways, possibly for good, though both of them manage to find a measure of peace after admitting they still love each other. Joe Miller, for his part, remains unpunished, albeit tormented by guilt.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: Mark and Jack bond over missing children.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Chloe seems to be this (although the death of her brother is at least a partial cause). Later in the series, when she and her parents are open with one another, she seems to be more willing to spend time with and be close to her family.
  • Brick Joke: In the first episode of season 3, Hardy finally learns that everyone in SOCO calls him "Shitface" behind his back, which Brian told Ellie in season 1.
  • Brutal Honesty: Hardy will choose honesty over tact every time. Ellie calls him out on this, asking why he can't ever just be reassuring.
  • Buddy Cop Show: Hardy and Ellie have shades of this, albeit not played for laughs — they initially hate each other (Hardy thinks she's basically incompetent, Ellie thinks he stole her promotion) but start to warm to each other as the investigation goes on. At the start of the second series they're close friends, but Miller has been demoted and Hardy is no longer on active duty and instead is teaching new recruits.
  • Bus Crash: Beth's mother (Chloe and Danny's grandmother) Elizabeth dies off-screen between seasons one and two. Beth is seen visiting her grave in the second episode of season two.
  • Butt-Monkey: Pete, the officer assigned to watch the Latimer family in Series 1 has quite a few scenes at his expense.
  • Canine Companion: Vince – Susan's Labrador, without whom she is never seen. She is so attached to Vince that she is even willing to allow herself to be suspected of murder rather than cooperate with the police while her dog is missing.
  • Casual Kink: Claire tells Ellie that Lee's never been rough with her, and then (much to Ellie's shock) adds, "Not unless I've asked."
  • Catapult Nightmare: Hardy has a bad dream at the start of 1x06 which culminates in him startling and screaming in his bed.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Early in the show, Hardy is called to investigate diesel theft from a tractor. We never hear of this again until episode 7 when we learn that it was Nigel who committed the crime.
    • The £500 and the mobile given to Danny by his killer.
  • Chess Motifs: Jocelyn Knight and Sharon Bishop, two barristers on opposite sides of the Joe Miller court case.
  • Close-Knit Community: Deconstructed. Reputation means everything in this place and the big secrets brought up during the investigation leaves a number of townfolks stigmatized or even dead.
  • Clueless Detective: The main reason Miller has to leave Broadchurch at the end, as no one is going to respect the "detective" whose husband was a pedophile and a child murderer right under her nose. In the beginning of the series, Hardy is also accused of being this by some characters, particularly Karen, due to what happened with the Sandbrook case.
  • Commonality Connection: Mark and Jack have one because they both lost young sons. Beth meets up with the mother of one of the murdered Sandbrook girls to try to get answers about what life is like after losing a child.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Trish, the rape victim whose case Alec and Ellie investigate in season three, is referred to a local service that helps rape victims and is assigned to an advisor. Said advisor just so happens to be Beth Latimer, who began working there sometime in between seasons.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Hardy certainly has his moments.
    Ellie: What about you? Are you religious?
    Hardy: Yeah. Every night I pray you'll stop asking me questions.
  • Death of a Child: The first series is about the death of an 11-year-old child. One of the victims of the Sandbrook case that took place prior to the show was a 12-year-old girl. Having a child die is also part of Jack's and Susan's backstories.
  • December–December Romance: Jocelyn and Maggie, two older women who become a couple in the penultimate episode of season two after a season's worth of build-up.
  • Destroy the Evidence: Many examples, as might be expected in a murder mystery of this complexity. Jack Marshall burns the photos he took of the boys in Sea Brigade – despite having not actually committed a crime; the killer wipes down the clifftop hut where the murder took place, and also burns Mark's boat that has Danny's DNA in it; Tom deletes his email conversations with Danny from his phone and tries to destroy his hard drive to cover up the fact that he and Danny fought before he died.
    • In series 2, Claire burns the photo of her wearing Pippa's pendant.
  • Dies Wide Open: As revealed in the season finale.
  • Dirty Coward: Joe Miller is a particularly distasteful example, easily cowed with threats and unwilling to face the ramifications of his actions.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Did anyone seriously think Ellie's husband, Joe, was the killer before the first season's finale? Although of course, that's the entire point.
  • Driven to Suicide: Two examples here. First is Jack Marshall, who commits suicide following a reveal about a past conviction. The other is in relation to Susan, who was unaware that her former husband was abusing both of their daughters. One of the daughters ran away and was murdered by the father when she tried to report the abuse, and her husband hanged himself in his cell ten months after he was caught.
  • Dysfunctional Family:
    • The Latimers, once you dig beneath the surface. Every member has a secret that they're keeping from everyone else.
    • To a wider extent, the entire town: while much is made at the beginning of the show of the closeness of the community, it's revealed and reinforced several times that no one really knows anyone else. Everyone has secrets.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Danny's favorite doll is placed at his memorial by his sister.
  • Empty Bedroom Grieving: The Latimers are reluctant to clear Danny's room for the new baby as they originally planned to keep it untouched.
  • Ending Memorial Service: After the funeral, the town lights a bonfire on the cliff overlooking the beach where Danny's body was found. To Beth's surprise, other bonfires are lit all along the coast and countryside in commemoration.
  • English Rose: Karen the journalist uses this exact term to describe Beth in a bid to make her boss more interested in the story. Her subsequent article portrays Beth as a young and beautiful grieving mother.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: An entire town full of them!
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first episode, Hardy asks Miller if the beach where Danny's body is found is a suicide spot, an idea which Miller adamantly rejects. Jack kills himself later in the same spot.
    • This snippet of conversation between DS Miller and Susan Wright:
      Miller: That man? Under your own house? How could you not know?
  • Fictional Counterpart: The "Wessex Police" polices the county of Dorset in the series, replacing the real life Dorset Police.
    • In Series Two, Hardy's ex-wife works for the fictional "South Mercia Police" which polices the unspecified county in which Sandbrook is located.
    • The Daily Herald stands in for the Daily Express.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Alec and Ellie are at odds when the show begins, though they slowly start to get along over the course of the case. In Series Two, they're not on good terms and go right back to arguing, though they do their jobs well and are shown to genuinely care about each other. By Season 3, while they still bicker a bit, they have a much tighter, less dysfunctional bond and a far more effective partnership.
  • First-Name Basis: Alec Hardy calling Ellie Miller by her first name in the first series finale.
  • Good All Along: Downplayed in Series Two. Lee Ashworth turns out to be innocent of the murder of Lisa Newbury, who was killed by Pippa's father. However, he did kill Pippa Gillespie to cover up her erroneous assumption that he had been the one to kill Lisa, albeit extremely reluctantly and under Claire's instructions. This turns their assumed relationship on its head, as he was being blackmailed by Claire and not the other way around.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Ellie and Hardy fall into this naturally, though without any real threat of harm.
    • Later subverted into Bad Cop/Worse Cop, when Ellie threatens Susan not only with charging her with obstruction of justice, but also with putting down her dog.
    • Inverted in the Series One finale, when questioning Joe Miller: Hardy is calm, collected, and relieved to have the case behind him, Ellie tries to beat her murderous husband to death and has to be literally dragged from the room, screaming.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion:
    • In Series One, Beth initially doesn't want to keep the baby, but later changes her mind.
    • Averted in Series Two with Claire who had an abortion while her husband Lee was in custody. When he finds out, he beats the crap out of her, then leaves her for good. Rev Paul surprisingly does not judge her. She's not exactly a "good girl" by any stretch of the imagination, but she's not really judged for having had an abortion either (except by Lee).
  • Good-Times Montage: Of the Latimer family spending a fun day at the arcade.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: People are keeping secrets, but sometimes their motives are understandable. Characters originally viewed as scumbags are suddenly portrayed in a very human light.
  • Grief-Induced Split:
    • Mark and Beth initially defy this, trying their best to keep their marriage together after the murder of their son Danny. However, by Series 3 their relationship has deteriorated and Mark often spends long hours away from home, doing little to help Beth with their new baby. Beth eventually tells him she wants a divorce and Mark decides to move out and get himself sorted so he can become a decent father. In their case, their marriage already had serious underlying problems prior to Danny's death, such as them having had their first child very young and Mark's infidelity; the murder merely brought these issues to the surface.
    • In Series 1, Beth meets up with Cate Gillespie, the mother and aunt of two girls, Pippa and Lisa respectively, who went missing; Pippa was found dead while Lisa remains missing but presumably deceased. Cate says she and her husband Ricky divorced over their daughter's murder and the fact the likely killer got away with it due to the botched investigation, with Cate stating that she's heard it's a common fate for couples who lose a child like this. Series 2 later reveals that Ricky murdered Lisa in a jealous rage after catching her having sex with Lee Ashworth, who then murdered Pippa to Leave No Witnesses and claimed to Ricky it was an accident; Ricky was forced to help cover it up to avoid going down for Lisa's murder, so it's likely that his guilt over this played a role in the divorce too.
  • Groin Attack: When a group of reporters are harassing the Latimers on their way into church, Ellie tells them she'll kick every one of them in the balls if they don't back off.
  • Happily Married: Ellie rejects the advances of a colleague because she's already happily married. This comes crashing down completely when her husband is exposed as a pedophile and child murderer.
  • Hate Sink:
    • The defense lawyers in Series Two, who bizarrely appear to be positively gleeful about the prospect of making a clearly guilty man a Karma Houdini, and even do things that aren't even necessary to their case (including having Danny's body exhumed even though this serves no benefit to them at all) just to make an already grieving family suffer more.. It also seriously doesn't help that the entire trial is absurdly slanted in their favour, with the judge allowing them to go off on all kinds of wild speculations without a shred of evidence at the same time the prosecution is constantly admonished to stick to the facts. And on top of all that, they're rude to townspeople who aren't even involved with the trial, as seen when they mock Becca behind her back as soon as she's out of earshot.
    • Leo Humphries is easily the most detestable character in the entire series. He is an arrogant bastard who raped three women in the past, forced his "best friend" to commit rape, and then tried to frame an innocent man for his crimes. He cruelly gloats about how empowered rape makes him feel without caring the slightest bit about all the lives he ruined to achieve this pleasure. Overall, he is horrible enough to make characters like Joe Miller tolerable in comparison.
  • Hollywood Law: The trial in series 2 has by the broadcast of the second episode been criticised for its great inaccuracy, mostly to increase the drama. Most glaringly multiple witnesses sit in the audience of the murder trial, but the defence bullies Mrs. Latimer and Ellie to an extent that would be severely reprimanded in real life, and the killer's confession is dismissed far too easily. Several British viewers even went out of their way to assure fans in other countries that this is not in any way how the British legal system works.
  • Idiot Ball: Mere weeks after her brother was murdered, with his killer still on the loose, Chloe doesn't realize that her parents will freak out when she goes missing in the middle of the school day?
  • Idyllic English Village: Broadchurch fits the description, being a rural, Close-Knit Community on the Dorset coast.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: One of the reasons why Joe Miller is spared at the end of series 2.
  • I'll Kill You!: In the series 2 finale, Ellie says this to Joe after he's been acquitted.
    Ellie: You are leaving and you are never coming back. And you will never see either of your children again. If you try and see them, if you follow them, if you go to their schools, if you contact them in any way, I will kill you.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Played with in Series 2. Although they are both police officers, Miller (Devon & Cornwall Police) and Hardy (Wessex Police) identify themselves to a suspect as being from a different constabulary (South Mercia Police) whilst investigating the Sandbrook case. Lee plays the trope straight or at least claims to, as an explanation for his false "evidence".
  • Interrogation Montage: Happens when Nigel and his mother Susan Wright are interrogated in parallel.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Ollie starts out looking like he's going to be one of these, but ultimately proves to care more about the people involved than about getting the scoop, after Jack Marshall commits suicide as a result of his and Karen's pieces on him. His boss Maggie has elements of this, too, putting herself into danger for the sake of her news stories.
  • Ironic Echo: A rather dark one in season 1 with Ellie's line "How could you not know?" been thrown back at her.
  • Irony:
    • Hardy is given the chance to back out of the case in the 1st episode for fear of his status being an outsider affect the investigation of the case. But as the 2nd season starts, it's Ellie, who's now considered to be a pariah of the town.
    • Season 1 goes on about how Hardy failed the family in the Sandbrook murder. Ultimately, the family was in on the murder.
  • I See Dead People: One of the last scenes of the first series has Beth seeing the ghost of Danny during the memorial on the beach.
  • I Wished You Were Dead: Tom Miller said pretty much these exact words during a fight with Danny and spent most of the series trying to cover up the evidence of the fight.
  • The Jailbait Wait: Jack makes a point to note that had he waited a few weeks for his 15-year-old lover's birthday, their romance would have been perfectly legal.
  • Karma Houdini: Zigzagged with Joe Miller. He avoids prison, but he is exiled from Broadchurch on pain of death, unable to see his two boys again.
  • Kick the Dog: In a bizarre moment that is never addressed again, Tom Miller tells Chloe that he's glad her brother is dead.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Miller questions the fact that Susan Wright apparently didn't know that her husband was a child rapist right under her nose; later, Beth Latimer questions the fact that Miller apparently didn't know that her own husband was attracted to Danny and killed him.
  • Last-Name Basis: Hardy prefers this form of address for himself and others (even going on a rant about how much he dislikes the practice of calling people by their first names when asked by Ellie if she can call him "Alec" when he is at their house for dinner). When the truth about Joe comes out, Ellie is understandably freaked out when a sympathetic Alec suddenly calls her Ellie.
  • Married to the Job: Hardy implies this about himself when Ellie asks about the reason for his divorce. The truth is more complicated (and more heartbreaking).
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The show makes it ambiguous as to whether Steve is a con artist or a genuine psychic. One the one hand, he does make eerily accurate statements, but on the other hand, some of his predictions could have been gleaned by simple research and basic assumptions. In the end, it's revealed that his statements about "the pendant" are based on false information, so he's implied to be fraud after all.
  • Meaningful Echo: "How could you not know?"
  • Meaningful Funeral: Two examples: first is the funeral for Jack Marshall, at which the vicar lambastes the community for essentially causing the man's death and shows that he really is serious about bringing the community together, without an agenda. Secondly is the funeral/memorial for Danny in the final episode, in which we see characters coming together that have been absent or estranged throughout the series.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: Focusing on the "woman" part of the syndrome rather than the "white". When the Latimer family wants to know why Danny's murder has received almost no media attention, Karen tells them that it's because Danny was a boy — if he had been a girl, there would be reporters swarming all over the town. Karen suggests getting around this by making Beth the "white woman victim" who would be the focus of media sympathy.
  • Mistaken Identity: Susan claims to have seen Nige on the beach on the night of Danny's murder, when in fact she saw Joe Miller. To be fair, from a distance, they do look similar. This causes huge problems for the prosecution in season 2.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Of the "woman lying on her stomach" variety, after Claire and Lee have sex at Ellie's house.
  • Mutually Assured Destruction: Lee and Claire with Ricky regarding the Sandbrook case. If they told the police what he did to Lisa, he would claim that Lee murdered her, and if he went to the police about it, they would claim that he murdered Pippa.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Hardy sees Danny's murder case as a way to make up for the botched Sandbrook case, even though it's later revealed that he wasn't actually the one who botched it.
  • Necro Cam: The final Dénouement Episode explains via flashbacks how the murder happened.
  • Off on a Technicality:
    • How the Sandbrook killer avoided prison, much to Hardy's shame.
    • In season 2, Joe gets off on a series of technicalities. Most importantly: his wife, a cop, beating him up soon after his arrest.
  • Once More, with Clarity:
    • Series 1 opens with a mysterious shot of Danny cliff-side — ready to jump off, with blood dropping from his hand. The scene comes up again in the last episode, but this time we learn how it all came about and how it continued.
    • In season 2, the shot of Lee burning down the evidence. Also, the pendant being stolen.
    • Season 2 also has a repeated flashback of Alec and Claire lying on a bed, looking at each other. Each time more of the flashback is shown, finally revealing that they didn't sleep together, as was initially implied; he went with her for support when she aborted her and Lee's baby.
  • One Phone Call: Nigel is seen in custody making a phone call to Mark while a police officer stands behind him taking notes and urging him to finish up.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted—Ellie's son and one of the uniformed police are both named Tom. Also averted with the Latimer family; Beth's mother is named Elizabeth, Beth is presumably short for Elizabeth as well, and they name the baby Elizabeth (nicknamed Lizzie) in honor of Grandma Elizabeth, who died shortly before the baby was born.
  • The Oner: The opening episode features a 90 second-long tracking shot following Mark as he walks through town; it does a great job of introducing characters and the small-town atmosphere.
  • Pædo Hunt: Jack Marshall is the subject of one, after his conviction for underage sex makes the press (minus some salient details)
  • Papa Wolf:
    • In the season 1 finale, a big factor in Joe's decision to turn himself in is that Hardy had collected evidence that was making Tom look like a likely suspect.
    • In the season 3 finale, Clive tries to take the heat for his son Michael, who is revealed as Trish's rapist.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Turns out Susan/Elaine is Nige's estranged mother.
    • She didn't actually abandon him, though — he was taken away from her by the authorities.
  • Parental Hypocrisy: Chloe isn't too impressed at her dad for complaining about her relationship with 17-year-old Dean, which is a mirror of Mark and Beth's at that age (minus the pregnancy, as she gleefully notes).
  • Parental Neglect: Joe accuses Mark of this and that Danny came to him after Mark hit him once.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: DI Alec Hardy checks himself out of hospital early and against strong advice. It comes back to bite him in the bum when he's ambulanced in a second time: the doctors inform his DCI of his previous, secret visit, and she takes him off the case.
  • Peaceful in Death: Discussed when Susan tells DS Miller about seeing Danny's body on the beach. She wonders aloud whether her own daughter looked as peaceful when she was killed by her husband, and says that she doubts it.
  • Pedophile Priest: Teased with Reverend Paul, especially when he's spotted touching a boy's knee, but he's ultimately not. At one point, Tom Miller threatens to falsely accuse Reverend Paul of this in an attempt to blackmail him.
  • Phony Psychic: Steve seems like this at first, because that's exactly what he is. To "prove" himself he mentions a detail from Hardy's past, but we later learn that Hardy fabricated this detail in order to protect his wife, meaning that Steve must have heard it somewhere.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • After Hardy asks for them to be kept under police surveillance, Susan manages to leave the village unnoticed, and Nige manages to lose them after running through an alley.
    • And, of course, as Hardy explains to Ollie about the Sandbrook killer case, after key evidence was secured by his wife/colleague, instead of returning to the station, they stopped off at a hotel for a drink, resulting in the evidence being stolen by local yobs. In series 2, it's revealed that Claire stole the pendant, as it was hers and she'd given it to Pippa.
  • Police Brutality: After finding out that Joe murdered Danny, Ellie savagely beats and kicks him to the floor in the police interview room, requiring two officers to drag her away. It later bites her in the ass, as her treatment of Joe is one of the main factors that gets his confession dismissed in court.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Miller to Hardy, after he collapses while they are both chasing a suspect ("Don't you fucking die on me!").
    • Also Miller, also to Hardy, after he tells her who killed Danny.
    • And one from Beth: "If you come near my husband again, I'll break your fucking face."
  • Prisoner's Dilemma: Lee and Claire Ashworth change their story so often (Claire once gave three different versions of what happened the night of the murder in the same conversation) that Hardy knows one or both of them is lying, but he doesn't know who is lying to protect whom. After Hardy tells Lee about Claire's abortion and he beats her up for it, Claire decides to return the evidence she stole and start talking. During the interrogation, Hardy realizes that she's using this trope to get Lee to stay indebted to her over fear of what she'll say.
  • Put on a Bus: Due to the trial storyline in season two being poorly-received, Jocelyn doesn't appear at all in the next season. Her absence is explained when her girlfriend Maggie mentions that she's away in London doing a big trial.
  • Quickly-Demoted Leader: Miller by Series 2. Previously a Detective Sergeant with Wessex Police investigating a murder case, she now works as a traffic officer for Devon & Cornwall Police (which she is implied to despise).
  • Rape as Drama: The main plot of Series 3 is solving the rape of Trish Winterman. And it turns out she's not the only victim either.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • The vicar gives one to Hardy towards the end of season 1.
    • Junior lawyer Ben Haywood visibly hurts his counterpart Abby Thompson when he tells her thinks she's a horrible person for aiding a clear murderer. She seems to take it particularly hard as she expected a statement of romantic interest.
    • In the final episode of Series 2, Beth and Ellie give a devastating and totally deserved one when the Latimers, Ellie, Paul, and Nige confront Joe in the clifftop hut after he is found not guilty of Danny's murder.
      Beth: When you die, no one will mourn for you. We could kill you in here, dump your body on a beach, and no one would care. No one would notice. But we're more than you. I will not be broken by this! We all get to live, but you... you've no life left. Not here.
      Ellie: You are not sorry, if you were sorry you'd have pleaded guilty! You heard what she said, you are leaving and you are never coming back. And you will never see either of your children again.
    • In the third series, Ellie utterly eviscerates DC Harford when she reveals she's been hiding the fact she's the daughter of one of the suspects in their investigation.
      Hardy: I might put you in charge of bollockings from now on, Miller.
  • Red Herring:
    • Most of the suspects and their whereabouts are accounted for, but a couple of things are deliberately meant to be misleading and are never explained: the argument Jack witnessed between Danny and the postman, and the power outage the night of the murder.
    • Jack's Pædo Hunt subplot was to throw a misdirection into the investigation. There's also a mention of a murder similar to Danny's that happened in Yorkshire when Jack lived there, but nothing comes of it.
    • In season 2, two with regards to what had happened to Lisa. One is her phone registering in Plymouth, from where she could have escaped to France. Another one is the scene of Lee by the incinerator. Turns out, her body was hidden in another grave.
  • Scout-Out: The 'Sea Brigade' in series one, whose members include Danny Latimer and Tom Miller, is a Sea Scout troop in all but name. It's run by Jack Marshall - despite the fact that he's a convicted paedophile who was jailed for having sex with an underage girl (in real life, such a man would not be able to have anything to do with the Scout Association due to the criminal records checks carried out on all adult volunteers).
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: In season 3 premiere, Ellie secretly gives her number to a rape victim named Trish. When Hardy finds out and berates her for this, she stands that she did the right thing.
  • Seeking Sanctuary: Claire does this at Reverend Paul's church after Lee finds out that she was pregnant and aborted their baby while he was in custody, and beats her up. So does Joe after he's been acquitted.
  • Sexy Priest: The Reverend Paul.
  • Shaming the Mob:
    • When the mob arrives at his house, Jack Marshall delivers a speech in which he explains the circumstances of his case, putting Mark and the others to shame. This stops the Pædo Hunt for a while.
    • Also applies to the vicar at Jack's funeral, where he displays disgust for those who had the nerve to attend the funeral of a man who they bullied to suicide.
  • Shell-Shock Silence: The sound drowns out when Beth sees the body of Danny at the beach.
  • Short Teens, Tall Adults: The teenage Chloe is a full head shorter than her (not particularly tall) mother.
  • Shout-Out: Set in Wessex as a shout out to Thomas Hardy, and the lead detective also gets his surname. Jack's alibi for the night of Danny's murder is that he was reading the Hardy novel Jude the Obscure.
  • Skewed Priorities: Becca is more concerned about the hit her hotel will take if Danny's murder drives off tourists than she is about the murder itself.
  • Silent Scapegoat: Hardy takes the blame for allowing the Sandbrook killer to walk, even though it was actually a DS working under him who had screwed up. The reason he took the blame was because the DS in question was his wife; evidence was stolen from her car because she had been meeting with her lover, and Hardy didn't want his daughter to know about her mother's infidelity.
  • Take That!: To the Daily Mail, it's the last newspaper Ollie applies for.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Jack and his music pupil — he was jailed for sleeping with her one month below the age of consent and later married her after he got out of prison.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Beth and Mark had Chloe when Beth was 15 and Mark was 17.
  • Tempting Fate: When everyone is warned that all their secrets will come out into the open during the trial, Beth says that none of them have anything left to hide. During Mark's testimony, she finds out that Mark had been considering divorcing her, and that he has been secretly meeting with Tom Miller.
  • Theme Naming: In season 2, the lead attorneys (both Queen's Counsel) are named Knight and Bishop.
  • There Is Only One Bed: In season 2, Alec and Ellie must share a bed in a hotel, which is awkward because of recent allegations that they have an affair.
  • Tired of Running: The reason for Joe's decision to turn himself in.
  • Time Skip: A Freeze-Frame Bonus in season two shows that it takes place around May 2014, about a year after the first season, which took place in July 2013. Season three takes place two years later in May 2016.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: The vicar tries to comfort Beth by telling her that sometimes God takes those he loves the most first.
  • Tracking Device: Hardy is able to track Danny's mobile, which leads him to his murderer.
  • Trespassing to Talk: To her surprise, Nigel waits in the dark of Susan's trailer to have a talk.
  • The Vicar: A subversion — Rev. Paul Coates is actually trendy (rather than just thinking he is), and teaches computer skills at the local school.
  • Vomiting Cop: Ellie almost becomes this after The Reveal.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: Hardy wakes up at the hospital after the second time he collapses.
  • Wham Line: In season 2 premiere, Joe Miller pleading not guilty.
  • With All Due Respect: Miller to Hardy in 1x03.
    With respect, sir, move away from me now or I will piss in a cup and throw it at you.
  • Woman Scorned:
    • Beth is trashing Becca's bar after she learns about her affair with Mark.
    • Ellie giving her husband a good beating after The Reveal at the police station.
    • Claire returns the evidence she stole to Hardy after Lee beats her up for having an abortion and then cheerfully "jokes" that she's lucky he didn't kill her.
  • Working with the Ex: Hardy and his ex-wife Tess work together on the Sandbrook case in season 2.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: DS Miller is appropriately freaked out when Hardy calls her "Ellie", the name she goes by with everyone else.
  • You Do Not Have to Say Anything:
    • The standard British caution is used when Mark is arrested for obstructing the inquiry.
    • It's heard again when Claire and Lee are arrested in season 2.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: In series 2, it's revealed that Hardy took the blame when his wife had a crucial piece of evidence stolen from her car while she was at a hotel with her lover, letting his career take a hit so their daughter wouldn't find out about her mother's affair.