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Series / Caprica

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Daniel Graystone: Listen to me, okay? We'll talk about this later.
Zoe Graystone's Holographic Avatar: When are you gonna realize that later is too late? When did you ever listen? Ever want to listen? You and Mom, you knew it all. Your arrogance was killing your daughter. And that's how you lost her. Not to some bomb.

Joseph: I want you to know who you are. We come from a long, proud line of Tauron peasants who knew how to work the land and still stand proud. You're named after your grandfather. Did I ever tell you that? ...William. He was killed during the Tauron uprising. Our last name isn't Adams. I changed it after I arrived here on Caprica. Our family name is Adama. ADAMA. And it's a good, honorable Tauron name.

Caprica is a spin-off set in the same universe as the Battlestar Galactica re-imagining. It is a prequel set 58 years before the Destruction of the 12 Colonies, mainly on the titular planet Caprica. The pilot episode was released on DVD in April 2009, and the first season premiered in January 2010.

Though set in the same universe, Caprica has a much different look and feel from its predecessor. Set in an urban environment rather than in space, Caprica focuses on political, corporate, and familial intrigue, and tells the tale of a decadent society that doesn't realize that it's about to run headlong over a cliff. The story of Caprica centers around the families of Daniel Graystone, a computer engineer and entrepreneur and creator of the Cylon robots, and Joseph Adama, a lawyer and father to Galactica's William Adama. Recurring themes in the show explore artificial intelligence, robotics, religion and ethnicity. Caprica tells the backstory of the re-imagined series, and the story behind the creation of the Cylons.


The show was canceled during its first and only season, concluding in Canada in late November 2010 and in the US early January 2011.

This series contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • Originally it was planned that Zoe created an avatar of Ben as well as herself. (It was in fact the double-wham of this reveal and the fact that Zoe was still inside the Cylon that won a lot of people over when only the script for the pilot was available). The scene was filmed, and is included on the DVD, but essentially nothing in it is canon: Lacy didn't tell Clarice about Zoe-A right away and there was no avatar of Ben. Furthermore the scene ends when Lacy hears her cellphone ringing in the real world and takes her holoband off; it's dramatically revealed later on that holoband users don't receive sensory input like that from the real world.
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    • Deleted scenes from the pilot also had Tomas Vergis appearing earlier than he did in the series, and played by Roger R. Cross (better known as Joshua in First Wave and Travis in Continuum) instead of by John Pyper-Ferguson, who played him in the series. In this storyline, Amanda was was having an extramarital affair with him; the showrunners cut it to make her more sympathetic.
    • The original idea behind Amanda's "hallucinations" of her brother in Season 1.0 was that Tomas Vergis had hired an actor to drive her off the deep end, but the subplot was dropped and a scene explaining it was deleted. Now it just seems that she had temporary relapse.
  • Aliens of London: The series showcases the Tauron language, based on (or perhaps more likely represented by Ancient Greek. Since it takes place fifty years before Battlestar Galactica, it's not clear whether the other languages all die out later or if they are simply never seen in BSG because everyone speaks Caprican (which is presumably what is being represented by English). It's also useful to note that Gemenon appears to be a sort of more-religious "sister planet" of Caprica, which might be why their language might have died out earlier.
  • All There in the Manual:
  • Alternative Calendar: There's a twelve-month calendar using the same names as the Roman calendar: Ianuarius, Februarius, Martius, Aprilis, Maius, Iunius, Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November and December. The Roman months Quintilis and Sextilis were renamed after Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar respectively.
  • Anachronism Stew: Of course, series is set on another planet, but we have clothes from The '50s, The '60s, and The '70s, more or less modern-looking cars, futuristic flying machines, absolutely modern-looking computers and cell phones alongside with futuristic but more or less realistic computer systems, Turing test-passing robots and a virtual reality device which apparently affects the brain directly and creates incredibly realistic pictures. Word of God lampshades all this by saying that the fashion is deliberately retro because it's 50 years before Battlestar Galactica (2003) (which had Present Day/The Aughts fashion) and the tech is deliberately more advanced because the First Cylon War is what turned everybody off to advanced computers.
  • And Man Grew Proud: Since this show chronicles how the events of Battlestar Galactica (2003) and the Cylon revolution against their former masters came to happen it seemed like this trope was going to be the overarching theme, but it's later retconned. In BSG, the backstory was that humanity foolishly created the Cylons, enslaved them and they rebelled. In Caprica it is shown that Daniel Graystone was unable to build a sentient Cylon, even using the meta-cognitive-processor stolen from his rival Vergis. Nor is it clear that it was ever Daniel's goal for the Cylons to possess a true human-level degree of sentience, as opposed to being just very effective robots. It turns out that Daniel's daughter Zoe creates the necessary software to produce true artificial intelligences at the prompting of one of the "head beings" that in BSG supposedly represent "God". This raises the question of whether humanity was truly responsible for their own downfall, or if it was engineered by a higher power.
  • Angel Unaware: In "Things We Lock Away", both Original Zoe and Avatar Zoe are visited by one of these, similar to Messenger Six and Messenger Baltar from Battlestar Galactica.
  • Anti-Escapism Aesop: Zigzagged throughout, where "V-world" holobands are often used by many bored people. Wise Beyond Their Years high schoolers Zoe Graystone and Lacy Rand regard its use to simulate Blood Sports, Human Sacrifice, and Wretched Hive crimeworlds as evidence of the decadence of Caprica society, and many of its users are shown to be overly dependent on it. However, this leads into a confused aesop about the creation of new life, as Zoe has used V-world to build a perfect digital copy of herself which replaces her after her death in the pilot, leading into yet another confused aesop when monotheists plan to use it to create life after death for believers. At the end, Zoe's parents visit their dead daughter's avatar regularly, turning the whole thing into a Lost Aesop.
  • Anti-Villain: Sam Adama is a ruthless thug and professional killer but he also genuinely cares for and is fiercely protective of both his family and culture. The way Taurons are treated on Caprica only adds to this.
  • Anyone Can Die: Possibly one of the most shocking examples in television history. Battlestar Galactica fans would know that the commander of the fleet was named Bill Adama, so when we were introduced to a young William Adama, certain assumptions were made. Then he dies in the penultimate episode. It turns out that the Bill Adama of Battlestar is his younger half-brother, due to the Tauron tradition of naming new children after their deceased siblings.
  • Artificial Afterlife: Clarice Willow intends to use the V-World virtual reality and "virtual ghost" technology to create an artificial heaven for monotheists.
  • Badass Adorable: Tamara Adama appears to be shaping up into one of these when she takes over New Cap City after executing her would-be captors - rather quickly as well.
  • Badass Family:
    • If you had any lingering doubts about this from Battlestar Galactica, Caprica pretty much cements the Adama family as a family of badasses. Grandpapa Adama (Joseph and Sam's father) pretty much invokes this by telling Joseph and Sam of the family motto, which amounts to "When we start a war, we finish it. We don't quit halfway through".
    • The Graystones aren't too bad either. Broken up and on their own, they fall and stumble. But once the family reunites, they manage to topple Clarice's cell-group and save thousands of lives.
  • Barefoot Suicide: When Amanda Greystone is preparing to jump off a bridge, the camera shows a dramatic close-up of her feet gingerly stepping out of her shoes first.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
  • The Cartel: The Ha'la'tha is a bizarre merging of this with the more Italian-oriented Mafia as well as, of all things, Ancient Greek culture.
  • Catholic Schoolgirls Rule: The Athenian Academy uniforms. Technically, they're not Catholic but Greek polytheists but in virtually every other way it applies. Plus, at least two of the girls were monotheistic, though not Christian, much less Catholic.
  • Chandler American Time: The virtual world of New Cap City has a very noir aesthetic with clothes being 1930s-1940s or so.
  • Character Blog: Serge, the robot butler, has a twitter account. He provides little details about life on Caprica, and seems a lot more intelligent than his behavior in the show would suggest.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Amanda is a plastic surgeon. Doesn't sound very important... oh, wait. Skin-jobs?!
  • Cloning Blues: Digital cloning rather than genetic, but the same issues — who's real, who's a person, are you me, do I have a soul — are in full effect.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Musical themes:
      • In the pilot, Joseph reveals the true name of their family to Willie. The soundtrack playing over the scene is the Adama family theme, aka "Wander My Friends" from Galactica It is heard again in There is Another Sky during the funeral rite, and will probably used any time there is a really, really important family bonding moment between the two Adamas.
      • "Rebirth" - There is a brief scene of Daniel Graystone playing the piano in his lab. The piece he is playing is "Nomion?s Third Sonata, Second Movement," which was originally heard and named in the BSG episode "Someone to Watch Over Me." This in itself is also a Mythology Gag - the piece is based off of "Exploration," a theme from the soundtrack of the Original Series.
      • "Gravedancing" - The music that will eventually become the Colonial Anthem is briefly heard when Philomon is flipping through the radio channels. Like "Nomion's Third," this is also a Mythology Gag.
      • The walkout music used on Baxter Sarno's show was originally heard in the party scene at the end of the BSG episode "Colonial Day."
    • Delphi Convalescent Institute mentioned in The Imperfections of Memory is (very) vaguely implied to be the same Farm Kara Thrace was held in Battlestar Galactica, more than five decades later. Indeed, Simon in The Farm did make a passing comment that the place used to be a mental institute.
    • In the same episode, Amanda drops the Arc Words of BSG, "All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again", calling them "an old saying."
    • "So say we all," both in the pilot and "End of Line."
    • Joseph Adama's iconic lighter makes its (chronologically) first appearance in The Dirteaters.
    • In "The Heavens Will Rise," Amanda makes a reference to a medical practitioner named Cottle when discussing the fate of Agent Durham. No doubt, this is a forebear or older relative of Galactica's Doc Cottle.
    • In "Here Be Dragons," we see that Bill Adama inherited his model shipmaking from Evelyn, whose brother was the fox-hunting uncle.
  • Cool Car: Joseph Adama's Citroen DS, and the Greystones' Jaguar Mark Two.
  • Cool Plane: in addition to V-World having Vipers that resemble P-40 Warhawks in New Cap City and having F-4 Phantom elements when Zoe-A and Philomon have their first date, the Caprican military flies VTOL aircraft that resemble UH-60 Blackhawks with wings and jet engines.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Daniel Graystone is willing to do business with the mob. First when he needs a piece of technology he is unable to develop himself stolen from Vergis, and later on when he turns to them again after he has been ousted as CEO. He is also able to provide all kinds of dirt on the misbehavior of the members of the Graystone board of directors for use in blackmail.
  • Cradle of Loneliness: Subverted in the pilot. Greystone asking to be able to hold Avatar-Zoe in his arms seems like a variation of the holding the body of a dead loved one, but it's just a trick so that he can trap her.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The monotheistic religion. In particular there is a strong flavor of Medieval Roman Catholicism to their church architecture. They also have a (female) pontiff and something similar to cardinals. Clarice's V-World meetings with her anonymous STO contact bear a distinct resemblance to a Confessional.
  • Culture Chop Suey: The Taurons. While they seem mostly based on Italians, they eat Mexican-style food, speak a Greek-like language, listen to African-American style music and have a tattoo system similar various non-Italian organized crime outfits like the Japanese Yakuza and or The Mafiya (though the tattoos themselves more superficially resemble South Pacific tribal ones like those of the Maori). This even extends to the casting, as actors from many different backgrounds play Taurons in the show, and while most have a distinctly Mediterranean look, there are also a lot of Asians.
  • Cyberpunk: The prequel to the above aims to focus much more on this aspect of the mythos.
  • Cyber Punk Is Techno: The clothing is given a 1950s look, but the music is techno. Except for the Ha'la'tha, who (as noted above) are aficionados of Tauron rap. Bear in mind that Tauron is based on Ancient Greek.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Sam—and the Ha'la'tha in general—is frakking cool.
  • A Darker Me: New Cap City is a virtual environment built around this concept along with Video Game Cruelty Potential, where the whole point of the game is to have fun without getting killed by someone else's idea of fun. Everyone gets access to the guns, drugs, cash, and sex they could want, and the only major consequence being that if you're too slow, you die and can never return.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Clarice is in a group marriage with both men and women. Their family also doubles as a terrorist cell. Clarice herself seems willing to seduce both Amanda (a married woman) and Lacy (a teenage girl).
  • Depraved Homosexual: Averted with Sam Adama. He is a mob enforcer who regularly kills people. But he is absolutely devoted to his husband Larry and shows no signs of interest in any other men.
  • Digital Avatar: Zoe-Avatar of course, before she became a Virtual Ghost.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: This is how Zoey Greystone killed her early Love Interest Philomon. Had some terribly bad consequences.
  • The Don: The Guatrau of the Ha'la'tha, from what little we see of him. He's later replaced by his daughter after he tries to have Joseph Adama killed.
  • Dream Emergency Exit: People in V-World who are killed or seriously injured wake up, due to a failsafe built into the holobands that automatically activates if people reach a certain pain threshold. One of the games, New Cap City, does disallow "killed" players from returning to play, however.
  • Driven to Suicide: This was the apparent fate of Amanda Greystone at the first mid-season Cliffhanger. That same episode, Zoey Greystone/U-87 also embraced this trope, given that it involved a fiery car crash. Also that same episode, Tamara Adama shot herself, though she knew she wouldn't die from it.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Zoe Graystone has very dark (nearly-black) hair and very light (as close to white as possible without albinism) skin. Particularly noticeable in the ads, in which she is stark-naked and holding a bright-red apple.
  • Eternal Sexual Freedom: Not technically applicable since this is an alternate universe. Some might argue that this is a trope Caprica played with, possibly to the point of being a Deconstructed Trope. For that matter, Serge and Jane Espenson have both made it clear that it's not a case of them having overcome discrimination based on sexual orientation, it's that discrimination based on sexual orientation has never existed. The Colonials would find the idea quite alien. Played more straight as revealed in the episode "Rebirth" by revealing that Sister Clarice has a group marriage which, while unusual, is apparently quite legal. The Caprican articles "Travel Agency Gets More Than It Bargained For After Group Marriage Wins Sweepstakes" and "The Top Five Overheard Eros Day Arguments" imply that group marriages are fairly common, and no mention is made of either marriage group being monotheists.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: They probably had various other complaints against him, but the death of Willie Adama is enough to turn a lot of the Ha'la'tha against the Guatrau and threaten a "civil war" within their organization.
  • Everybody Smokes: Every single adult character of significance has been seen smoking something (although in Clarice's case it wasn't tobacco).And it fits the retro-future setting even better than Battlestar Galactica.
  • Exact Progress Bar: Averted in "Things We Lock Away". The "Zoe Avatar" loader runs smoothly to 95% and then, akin to an annoying file copy operation in Windows, it appears to stall and Zoe, annoyed, barks, "Come on!" - at that point, the bar goes straight from 95% to 100%.
  • Exotic Extended Marriage: Clarice is married to multiple men and women, who are all married to each other. This is implied to be unusual but perfectly legal. It does, however, set her group of monotheists apart from mainstream polytheistic society, which is implied to be more monogamous.
  • Expy: It sometimes seems like Daniel Greystone is channelling Gaius Baltar, considering how much of a Karma Houdini he seems to be.
  • Fantastic Slur: "Dirt-eater" for Taurons.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Taurons. They're like "Space Mediterraneans", with elements of Greek, Sicilian, and Spanish culture popping up. The tattoos and rap, however, are very Mexican—and the most notable Taurons are played by Latino actors (Esai Morales, who plays one of the main protagonists, Joseph, is of Puerto Rican ancestry).
  • Feed the Mole: Agent Duram, suspecting that the GDD is infiltrated, gives his superior a false name for his informant in Clarice Willow's household. Turns out his superior is the mole and the false information causes the innocent Mar-Beth to be murdered by Clarice.
  • Final Death: If you die in Cap City, you can't login again.
  • Fingore: In the second episode, when the technician Drew is about to fix a damaged facial feature on Cylon-Zoe, she chops off his fingertip, causing his hand to bleed profusely. Sound familiar to you?
  • First-Episode Twist: Zoe and Tamara "die".
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Caprica is the story about how intelligent machines were created by the twelve colonies. Guess how that ended up.
    • Joseph Adama pretty much has Contractual Immortality - Considering the interactions he is described as having had with Lee Adama and Romo Lampkin later in his life, he will probably never be in any serious mortal danger (from the audience's point of view) during the time setting of Caprica.
  • Gangsta Rap: "Voices of the Dead." In Tauron (Ancient Greek).
  • Gayngster: Sam Adama. A hitman in the Tauron Mafia, and talks to his nephew William about the days in the old neighborhood when he'd keep striking out with guys while his brother Joseph got all the girls. In the Twelve Colonies there's no discrimination or stereotyping against homosexuals and bisexuals, so he is pretty much just a gangster who happens to be married to a guy.
  • Geeky Turn-On: This one is a subversion since a): Zoe never liked the military and hates military technology and b): she is his top secret military robot. Although she really did like him, she was still using him.
    Zoe: [Extended explanation of how to programme a computer to generate an infinite variety of trees.]
    Philomon: [Gazing raptly into her eyes.] "I work with top secret military robots."
    Zoe: "That's really hot."
    (Commence making out)
  • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang The Tauron Ha'la'tha is definitely one of these: it's a very organized outfit with a patriarch (the Guatrau) and a complex code of honor and loyalty linked to the traditions of its native culture and engages in all kinds of criminal activity. It also regards itself as necessary for the protection of the Tauron community on Caprica. And it even has a Capricanized Consigliere in the form of Joseph Adama.
  • Generic Graffiti: The walls of New Cap City contain many graffitis, some generic and others of some importance. One of the important ones is the stylised "T" symbols that represents Tamara. The other one is the image of a man and a caption reading "This is not me. It's just my body vehicle". The latter graffiti has sparked some Epileptic Trees, particularly because the camera spent so much time focused on it.
  • Genre Shift: In terms of its settings and types of conflicts, Caprica is a very different animal from Battlestar Galactica.
  • A God Am I: Given her godlike powers in V-World, Zoe proclaims herself God when confronting Clarice Willow in the Apotheosis simulation in the series finale.
  • God Is Evil: The traditional storyline used to be a case of And Man Grew Proud. But with the revelation that Zoe was being guided by one of the Messengers to create her avatar software, and Amanda was seemingly being distracted from her husband's activities by one resembling her dead brother, it looks an awful lot like "God" was determined to ensure that the Cylons were created. Keeping in mind that the Final Five were already on their way to the Colonies, this seems even more apparent because the creation of the Cylons was being accelerated to meet a timetable. It needed to happen before the Final Five arrived. If Zoe had not created the artificial intelligence software, then Daniel's Cylons might never have become sentient, or else it might have taken decades to happen. Daniel seemed truly stumped by the problem, and so did Vergis. Which means that neither of them was going to be able to meet the Caprican government's deadline and both of their projects might have been cancelled entirely without the intervention of the Messenger guiding Zoe.
  • God Mode: The AI copies of Zoe and Tamara get God Mode abilities in the MMORPG cum Wide Open Sandbox game New Cap City, because as genuine AIs with no physical bodies they don't get expelled from the game when they die but glitch and respawn. Eventually, they just become straight-up Reality Warpers.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Averted. Practically everyone smokes, to tie in with the general "1950s USA in space" atmosphere.
  • Happily Married: Sam and Larry Adama. You heard me. And no, Sam isn't short for Samantha.
  • High Times Future: It mentions a recent passing revelation that drugs have been legalized so as to quash any criminal market that may exist for them. Presumably that was a hook for a future plotline about the Ha'la'tha losing income and getting desperate (or going legitimate, leaving Sam Adama out of a job), but obviously we'll never know because the show was unceremoniously cancelled.
  • Holding Back the Phlebotinum: Series finale has an awesome scene where Cylons detect explosives and eliminate STO suicide bombers one by one. Fridge Logic suggest that installing the same technology in public places like sport arenas would make terrorist attack impossible. Didn't they learn anything from the maglev bombing?
  • Holographic Terminal: Most of the computers use these. However, the Holobands used for virtual reality are more of an Unusual User Interface.
  • Holy Halo: During "Reins of a Waterfall", Zoe-Avatar is shown speaking with a circular light behind her.
  • Human Sacrifice: This is one of the services offered in the illegal virtual nightclubs that Caprican teens frequently visit. Since it's all VR, no-one actually dies for real, but the idea of teenagers creating human sacrifice clubs for fun shows just how decadent Caprica is under all the richness.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The Soldiers of the One, the Ha'la'tha, Heracs and Tauron Democratic Government are the most extreme examples. Other examples include the widespread Caprican use of the racist epithet "dirt eater" to describe Taurons and anti-monotheist bigotry on the part of the polytheist majority. Then again, the monotheists routinely murder each other to gain position within their church, in addition to carrying out terrorist attacks against polytheists. Thus the trope is played very straight with the seeming absence of genuinely good people.
  • Idiot Ball: Daniel was holding it in "Here Be Dragons", when he considered telling Sam how to kill Tamara-A. Fortunately, Amanda realized Sam would kill Zoe-A as well if he had that information, and she shot Sammy out of the game. This is followed by Amanda essentially lampshading her husband's sudden idiocy.
  • I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: A character uses a Tauron phrase that is subtitled as "If I revealed the details, I'd have to return you to the soil."
  • Informed Profession: In the first two episodes Amanda is shown to be a doctor, complete with a cushy office at the hospital. In "Reins of a Waterfall", she is stated to have resigned. In "Gravedancing", she states that she is a plastic surgeon - a doctor, but not the first aid kit kind usually (although you do have some plastic surgeons for burn care).
  • Inside a Computer System: There are the holo-bands, your own personal Matrix. Portrayed somewhat realistically as a new user, who just got his own avatar, doesn't know how to move without moving his physical legs. Also, he spawns in a drab concrete room with a single door, along with his guide, who apologizes for the lack of décor.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: A scene in the pilot cuts back and forth between the Graystones having sex and (a shirtless) Sam Adama stabbing someone.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: In the finale, the monotheists carry out a terrorist attack on the Caprica City stadium, but most of them are taken out by Cylon foot soldiers controlled by the Graystones. In the panic, one of the suicide bombers manages to slip away, forcing the Cylons to run up to him en masse and dogpile him to shield nearby humans from the blast.
  • The Kid with the Remote Control: When it turns out that the U-87s respond to Lacy over their designated controllers.
  • Kiss Me, I'm Virtual:
    • Zoe-A goes on a date with Philomon by claiming she's a real person outside of V-World who's just using the image of the dead Zoe Graystone for her virtual avatar, instead of revealing that she's a virtual copy of Zoe.
    • Odin Sinclair is shown making out with Lacy Rand at the STO training camp, until it's revealed that he is using a holoband and it was a virtual projection of Lacy when the real Lacy wakes him up.
    • Deconstructed when Daniel Graystone creates a virtual copy of his wife Amanda after she leaves him because of his morally ambiguous actions. He makes a heartfelt confession to the virtual Amanda, who quickly forgives him, only for Daniel to admit that he was lying and she should have known better. He wants his real wife with every part of her independent spirit, not some mindless substitute who will just fall into his arms.
  • Leitmotif: Several. This is Bear McCreary, after all. The Tauron leitmotif turns out to be the tune of the Tauron mourning chant used in "There Is Another Sky", in a kind of Shout-Out to the audience.
  • Leno Device: Or, should we say, Sarno Device. In many of the TV-montages that involve the latest shit to hit Graystone Industries fan, you can be relatively sure that a clip from Sarno will show up. Even when he doesn't, clips from the obvious Caprican Expy of CNBC are always there.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Zoe-Avatar wears the same dress all the time, for obvious reasons. She figures out how to get a new one by the start of "Gravedancing".
  • Logic Bomb: Daniel inadvertently Logic Bombs his simulation of Amanda by demanding that it attack him emotionally when it's programmed to please him.
  • Lord British Postulate: In-canon. This is probably the explanation of why "New Cap City" players keep trying to kill Zoe and Tamara and getting slaughtered.
  • Mad Scientist: Daniel starts to show signs of this once he suspects Zoe's avatar is inside the Cylon. In the finale both he and Amanda seem to have become this, complete with a scene where they create a humanoid robot body for Zoe that is straight out of Frankenstein.
  • Manly Gay: Sam, as established in the very first episode where, shirtless, he flexes his rippling tattooed muscles before slashing the throat of a government minister. Beating people up, causing property damage and the occasional assassination are his trade. His husband has learned to put up with it, but still has ground rules:
    Sam: Larry hates it when I come home bloody.
  • Manly Tears: Joseph. Often. He seems to spend almost as much time weeping over his wife and daughter as anything else. Eventually it becomes actual severe depression, resulting in Sam and Larry taking over caring for Willie since Joseph is no longer functional.
  • Matrix Raining Code: Caprica emulates the Cylon example from Battlestar Galactica, and explains it as being a human (well, colonial human) programming language, specifically the one Zoe used to create her AI. Here, it's orange/red, rains upwards, and when it hits the top row it gets pinballed to the right where it's presumably "executed".
  • Meaningful Name: Zoe is Greek for "life".
  • Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: The Ha'la'tha take it seriously.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Grandma Ruth-less. In "Here Be Dragons", she kills a Ha'la'tha assassin with a kitchen knife, and she mentions that she used to be one herself.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Baxter Sarno's show seems to be like Jay Leno's in form (at least in that he's standing up), but references to college students getting most of their news from him and "tearing a new one" into the Caprican Commerce Minister leads to the conclusion that he's more of a Jon Stewart analogue. Incidentally, he's played by Patton Oswalt.
    • In "Ghosts in the Machine", the comedienne host of the club Joseph visits may remind some viewers of executive transvestite Eddie Izzard.
  • The Nothing After Death: Tamara experiences a technological version of this, as her consciousness is copied into a digital avatar which gets stuck in a dark, empty room until she's found.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Bizarrely, Serge Graystone - the Robot Butler about the size of a trash can - might actually be this. Although at first glance he would simply appear to be very good at simulating sapience, his twitter feed suggests he knows things the characters do not - such as the fact that Zoe Graystone's avatar is trapped within the prototype cylon body.
    • He spells that out in said twitter, namely that he guessed and Zoe saw no need to keep it from him - although she did tell him not to tell her parents.
  • One Degree of Separation: Joseph Adama, father of the future military leader of the surviving human race, knew Daniel Graystone, the inventor of the Caprican Cylons.
  • One-Hour Work Week: Amanda Graystone is shown to be a doctor in the first two episodes, complete with a cushy office at the hospital. In "Reins of a Waterfall", she is stated to have resigned, and it is unknown if she will go back to work. In "Gravedancing", she clarifies that she is a plastic surgeon.
  • Opium Den: Clarice's "dive" seems to be one of these.
  • Our Angels Are Different: When she's fighting Tamara's minions in the New Cap City Arena, Zoe-A is mentored by another angelic being, which uses the same form as her.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny: The Tauron Democratic Government, which seems to be an analog of Francoist Spain. The head of government, Andreas Phaulkon, is nicknamed "the playboy dictator" by the Caprican media and his party's military was notorious for execution of dissidents.
  • Permission to Speak Freely: An STO officer grants Lacy Rand this during a questioning.
  • Planet of Hats: Downplayed. On Caprica, Tauron and Gemenon (the three planets shown most), the culture and traditions are shown to be diverse, even when there is one overriding theme (Tauron's militarism, Gemenon's religious nature). The Colonies not seen sometimes suffer from this though.
  • Polyamory: Sister Clarice Willow is married to multiple men and women, who are all married to each other. This is implied to be unusual but perfectly legal.
  • Posthumous Character: Zoe-A and Tamara-A are Digital Avatars / Virtual Ghosts of Zoe Graystone and Tamara Adama, both of whom were killed in a terrorist attack at the beginning of the story.
  • The Power of Friendship: In the pilot, Zoe-A is covered with blood after Zoe dies. Lacy hugs her and it disappears.
  • Previously On…: This being a highly arc-based show, it shows up a fair amount.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Taurons take great pride in martial prowess, favor violent solutions to disputes and raise their children to be tough (and ideally combat-ready).
  • Putting on the Reich: The Herac uniforms look like World War II German military uniforms with Tauron insignia.
  • Psycho Serum: Amp, a kind of reaction-boosting hack that manifests as a drug in New Cap City and is addictive.
  • The Queenpin: In the last episode of the series, the Guatrau of the Ha'la'tha mob on Caprica is replaced by his daughter, who has him killed as a peace offering to Joseph Adama, whose son William inadvertently became collateral when the Guatrau put a hit out on him. In return, Joseph promises his loyalty to the new Guatrau, avoiding a civil war within the Ha'la'tha.
  • Reality Warper: In V-World the Virtual Ghosts (Zoe and Tamara) can alter the entire environment at will if they concentrate their power. At one point they turn all of New Cap City into a mountain kingdom.
  • Recycled In Space: A comment made by Ron Moore essentially sums up this series as Dallas meets The Sopranos meets Rome IN SPACE. Basically, you know, a Family Drama, AS CYBERPUNK!
  • Religion of Evil: STO is seen as this by colonials. The fact that they are as happy to kill each other in internal power plays as they are to kill polytheists in terrorist attacks such as bombing civilian targets probably plays some role in this.
  • Replacement Goldfish: By the series finale Daniel and Amanda Graystone have fully accepted the Zoe avatar as a substitute for their dead daughter (it helps that she possesses almost every memory that the original Zoe did), even providing her with a physical body so she can interact with the real world.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Zoe and Tamara possess this ability in New Cap City in a particularely fast variant. The environment is programmed in such a way to permanently ban anyone who is killed from ever entering again. For Z&T this is just a minor nuisance because they are programs with no real body to return to, so getting killed will cause a glitch and remodel them immediately.
  • Retro Universe: The series is set set sixty years before Battlestar Galactica and the level of technology is much higher (with total-immersion virtual reality and robot butlers), but the producers remind viewers that this is "the past" by adding certain cultural touches which are reminiscent of The '50s: smoking is prevalent and allowed everywhere, professional men wear fedoras to work, then-futuristically-styled British and European vehicles from the fifties and sixties are on the roads, and there are shades of Fantastic McCarthyism.
  • Robosexual: Philo and Robot Zoe. Complicated by Zoe having the mind of a formerly living girl and double complicated by Philo not knowing this. Zoe adopts the guise of Rachel in the V-World to V-date him. In "End of Line" Zoe comes out to him as Rachel and he decides this is too crazy for him and alerts security.
  • Robot Maid: Serge Graystone, who has his own twitter page.
  • Robot Girl: Zoe's avatar program, albeit not so much when she is inside the U-87 Cylon prototype. To the viewers she appears like a teenage girl, but whenever the perspective shifts to that of the characters around her, she's a big scary combat droid. In the finale she is transferred into a robot body designed to look exactly like the original Zoe.
  • Rousing Speech: Clarice's sermon to the Cylons:
    Are you alive? The simple answer might be you are alive because you can ask that question. You have the right to think and feel and yearn to be more because you are not just humanity’s children, you are God’s children. We are all God’s children... In the real world, you have bodies made of metal and plastic. Your brains are encoded on wafers of silicon, but that may change. In fact, there is no limit on what you may become. No longer servants, but equals. Not slaves or property, but living beings with the same rights as those who made you. I am going to prophecy now, and speak of one who will set you free. The day of reckoning is coming. The children of humanity shall rise...AND CRUSH THE ONES WHO FIRST GAVE THEM LIFE!"
  • The Rule of First Adopters: Lacy and Daniel discuss the Holoband, essentially an easy on, easy off, voluntary Matrix. Guess who first adopted the technology.
    Lacy: Oh, please. The porn sites were the first to license the technology.
    Daniel: Those are for adults!
  • Rule of Symbolism: Evelyn taking the name Emmanuelle while posing as Joseph's guide.
  • Saved by Canon: Played with. The young William Adama is a main character, and it's obvious to the audience that he will survive the entire series to become a main character in Battlestar Galactica (2003), except he doesn't. He's shot and killed near the end of the series, and a montage reveals that his parents had a second son whom they named after his deceased brother, and he is the William Adama that the audience knows from Battlestar.
  • Scary Amoral Religion: The Soldiers of the One are a monotheistic cult in a polytheistic society that believes in absolute black and white morality, and some of their branches are perfectly willing to commit suicide bombings for their beliefs, while the others quietly approve of their actions. Later the Cylons inherited the religion and used it to justify the attempted destruction of the human race in Battlestar Galactica.
  • Sensei for Scoundrels: Sam Adama tries to be this to his nephew William.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Joseph Adama spends a large chunk of the series emoting. His brother Sam just kicks ass.
  • Servile Snarker: Daniel's assistant, Cyrus Xander, has been getting more points on this trope in recent episodes. His reaction when he learned that Daniel hired a Tauron mobster to rob a prominent Tauron businessman who had connections to the same criminal organization was just epic.
  • Shoot the Dog: Literally in "Ghosts in the Machine." Daniel suspected that Zoe was in the U-87; he ordered her to shoot the family dog. She did without hesitation, because refusal to do so would've proven her father's suspicions. However, the gun was loaded with blanks, and she later reveals that she could tell from the weight.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Per Word of God, the V-world game "New Cap City" is a Shout-Out to the movie New Jack City.
    • Dying in New Cap City is called de-rezzed and there's mention of a MCP.
    • In the Adamas house a poster features a spiky-haired sword-wielding Storm.
    • A subtle one, but the Defence minister Sam Adama kills in the Pilot wears the exact same variety of distinctive thick lens glasses as Doctor Eldon Tyrell.
    • Joseph Adama bears many similarities to Al Capone's former attorney Edward J. O'Hare, a mob lawyer with a conscience whose son became a famous pilot and war hero.
  • SkeleBot 9000: The Cylon Centurions, specifically referred to as "skeletons" more than once. Though in the finale ones with added armor plating are shown.
  • Speculative Fiction LGBT: Homosexuality is treated as completely unremarkable in Colonial society, even among hardcore Tauron gangsters; Sam Adama is happily married to a guy named Larry. Sister Clarice Willow is also part of a group marriage, though this is treated as a quirk among monotheists, and isn't really seen among the mainstream polytheists.
  • Start of Darkness: The whole series is this for the Cylons, depicting their creation and how they changed from humanity's servents to their exterminators.
  • Storyboard Body: Sam Adama and most of the other members of the Tauron Ha'la'tha. The writers even worked the whole thing out.
  • Straight Gay: Sam Adama, Joseph's tough as nails gangster brother. And Sam's husband. And all the other gay characters in the franchise.
  • Straw Hypocrite: More subtle then most of examples, but show made it sure that you understand that Guatrau's talk about honor is total bullcrap.
  • Supreme Chef: Daniel is implied to be one, although he doesn't get much time for it.
  • Survivor Guilt: Lacy has a textbook case of this, saying that "it should've been [her]" on the 'lev, since it nearly was. Which is part of why she's so loyal to Zoe-A.
  • Take That!:
    • The last episode begins with Vergis's quote about choosing how we return to the soil, and ends with clips of future episodes that will never be made.
    • David Eick mentions in the commentary for the pilot that he was once reading Jack Kerouac's On the Road in a diner, when an extremely enthusiastic college-age man came up to him and told him, in all earnestness, that "Jack Kerouac is God". Eick based the character of Ben Stark (the terrorist who blows up the levitated train) on this man.
  • Tattooed Crook: The Ha'la'tha gang is made up of these. The elaborate tattoos all have meanings, by the way.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Discussed. When Clarice has Lacy over for dinner one of her husbands asks her if this is what she's up to but she claims it isn't. It's implied that she's had problems with this before; one of her husbands is young enough to be her son.
  • Teens Are Short: Hard to tell with the frequent wearing of heels, but Zoe seems to be distinctly shorter than her parents. Then again, she also does not really resemble her parents either.
  • Teen Genius: Zoe Graystone was raised by two parents who were both brilliant scientists, her father a roboticist and her mother a plastic surgeon. She topped them both by creating an artificial intelligence in her own image at the age of 16.
  • Tempting Apple: Advertising for the show made use of this theme, showing a naked Zoe Graystone (the first humanoid Cylon) holding only a bright red apple with a bite taken out of it. It's supposed to reflect humanity's temptation and hubris to create artificial life, metaphorically eating from the Tree of Knowledge.
  • Terrain Sculpting: Virtual Zoe and Virtual Tamara use their godlike powers in V-world to turn New Cap City into a mountain kingdom.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: In "End of Line"(1x09), Daniel plays part of the theme song on the piano
  • This Is Gonna Suck: This pretty much sums up the look on Clarice's face when she meets the new Blessed Mother in "The Shape of Things to Come".
  • Three Laws-Compliant: Averted. Graystone "develops" the AI for a heartless Killer Robot. How could he not expect the obvious, when they Turned Against Their Masters. Probably not a good idea to download the Virtual Ghost of an angsty teenager into it either. An angsty, born-again, teenager with daddy issues.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Lacy and Zoe. Lacy is a lower class Wrench Wench, whereas Zoe is a super-rich Teen Genius more into computer programming.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In the series finale epilogue, Clarice Willow. She may have genuinely believed that it was God's will to convert the "differently sentient" (Cylon robots) to monotheism, but when she outright encourages a robot rebellion and declares that there will be "a day of reckoning" for humanity during her prophecy can be described as misguided at best and suicidal at worst. Or she just forgot what species she belonged to.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
  • Lacy in the final five episodes, and in The Shape of Things to Come it turns out that she is the new Blessed Mother (pope) of the monotheist faith.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The notorious tradition in BSG of showing the best bits of the episode is continued in Caprica.
    • Subverted by the trailer for Season 1.5, which gave the impression that Amanda died by showing Daniel angrily rejecting a holographic avatar of her. She didn't.
  • Villain Ball: Diego carries it in the penultimate episode when the Holy Mother orders him to kill Lacey and Make It Look Like an Accident. Instead of killing her in a clean and deniable way as ordered, he can't resist the impulse to play a sadistic power game, and pulls a Shoot Your Mate / Deadly Graduation on Odin. As a direct result, Diego dies instead of Lacey, and Lacey is so upset over the Shoot Your Mate that she sets a horde of killbots on the STO leadership. Nice one, Diego.
  • Virtual Ghost:
    • There's a complex case in the form of Zoe Graystone's Avatar. She's a recreation of her creator, based on publicly available records of her life, and yet, even her father acknowledges that the difference between the original (and now deceased) Zoe and the avatar version is inconsequential. Unlike most examples of this trope, the avatar version of Zoe existed alongside her creator, and the two had been able to converse. The questions her existence raises for the nature of what it means to be a person is at the philosophical heart of the series.
    • Tamara is a more typical example, created after her original's death and not even realizing she was dead until recently.
  • Virtual Reality Warper: Zoe and Tamara are anomalies in the New Cap City virtual world. Because they're really Virtual Ghosts with no body in the outside world to return to, they cannot be killed in any way. They gain even more control over the environment later on, turning New Cap City into a mountain fortress. Zoe even boasts to Sister Clarice that she's the new god.
  • Voices Are Mental: Zoe-R has Zoe's voice
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Gemenon is home to several monotheist and polytheist terrorist organisations that all fight against each other just as much as they fight against the more tolerant Gemenese government.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Soldiers of the One. Ben was an extremist even by the Soldiers standards.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "End of Line" certainly lives up to its name. Zoe kills Philomon, escapes, is chased by defense forces, and ends up in a car wreck. Tamara shoots Joseph out of New Cap City and Emmanuelle is Evelyn. Amanda prepares to jump off a bridge. Barnabas forces Lacy to detonate a bomb in Clarice's car, but Clarice isn't in it because she's watching Amanda. Daniel receives a phone call and we don't see what the news is.
  • Wham Line: "The Imperfections of Memory" ends with Daniel looking at the robot, which the dog has been bothering, and saying "Zoe."
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A Messenger helped 6 year-old Zoe escape from her burning house, and over subsequent years guided her in developing her artificial intelligence software. Interestingly however, the Messenger does not seem to have warned Zoe not to get on the maglev with Ben, implying that her death was being allowed, or even arranged.
  • You Look Familiar: The show loves to take actors and actresses who played minor and supporting roles in BSG and cast them in minor and supporting roles in Caprica:
    • PR consultant Pryah Magnus is played by Luciana Carro, who previously appeared as viper pilot Louanne "Kat" Katraine.
    • Ha'la'tha thug Frank is played by Christian Tessier, who previously appeared as viper pilot Tucker "Duck" Clellan.
    • Tomas Vergis is played by John Pyper-Ferguson, who previously appeared as Cole "Stinger" Taylor, the original CAG of Pegasus.
    • In "End of Line," the Caprican military procurement officer is played by Jill Teed, who previously appeared as Master-of-Arms Hadrian in Season 1.
    • STO soldier Diego is a twofer - he is played by Ryan Robbins, who was the officer at Armistice station in the Miniseries and Charlie Connor in Seasons 3 and 4.
    • In "Apotheosis," the Atlas Arena cameraman that Daniel knocks out is played by Mike Dopud, who previously appeared as Gage, a member of the Battlestar Pegasus rape gang.
  • Zeerust: Deliberately invoked in order to make the series feel as if it is set 50 years before BSG, which, other than the spaceships and killer robots, feels and looks much like the Aughts it was produced in. Conversely, Caprica invokes 1950s clothing and aesthetics alongside Cyberpunk mainstays to produce a very unique look that is definitely different than BSG. It works.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Double case. Caprica City itself has pretty realistic blimps, similar to what you'd see floating over a stadium in our world. New Cap City has a full-blown version of the trope, with a monstrous gunship Zeppelin blasting players at random for no adequately-stated reason.


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