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Series / Complications

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He's having a bad day...

"Dr. Ellison? I just want to say one thing before you go. In my practice, I counsel a lot of doctors on the risks they have to take to help people. I have to tell them to accept that some measure of playing God is necessary to do the job. But there's a reason we confine that to the practice of medicine. It protects them, and it protects you. You take that outside the hospital... and there will be complications."

Complications is a medical thriller series created by Matt Nix (of Burn Notice fame) airing on USA Network.

Dr. John Ellison is a dedicated but disillusioned doctor at a suburban hospital. Still grieving over the loss of his daughter one year ago, his life takes a turn for the strange when he intervenes to save the life of a little boy caught in a drive-by shooting, killing the boy's assailant in the process. The boy turns out to be the son of a crime boss, and Ellison finds out that said crime boss wants him to oversee the kid's care personally. Things only get crazier from there.

The series was cancelled after finishing only one season.

This series contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: John's dad was a heavy drinker for a long time, and it's put a serious strain on their relationship, especially after he showed up wasted for Rebecca's funeral.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • In the first two episodes, Gretchen tries to help a young woman who's obviously being abused by her boyfriend. The young woman responds by trying to blackmail Gretchen and Ellison after they resort to illegal measures to keep the boyfriend away.
    • In the third episode, the boyfriend becomes another clandestine patient after Gretchen bashes him over the head with a waffle iron.
  • Berserk Button: Gretchen really, really doesn't like abusers. And John simply will not stand for kids dying for no good reason.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: John's not exactly a nice guy, but when he finds out that Wes is taking the chemotherapy drugs that he and Gretchen procured, watering them down, and then selling them to poor and desperate patients, he does not take it well. Which is to say that he goes and burns down Wes' storage facility.
    • A flashback has him threatening to burn down a sushi restaurant because they wouldn't let his family sit near the grill, even though his daughter needs an oxygen tank, which constitutes a reasonable fire hazard.
  • California Doubling: Averted; the show takes place in Atlanta, and was, in fact, filmed there.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: One of the reasons everything seems to go to shit for John is his near-complete inability to stay out of things that are none of his business. This becomes especially clear in "Relapse", where he tries to warn Darius that the Norteños are planning to shoot up CJ's funeral service, only to learn that Darius plans to arm the attendants. Rather than let nature take its course, John then ventures into Norteño territory to warn them that they're walking into an ambush... and then he gets the shit beaten out of him.
  • Cool Big Sis: Gretchen to Ingrid.
  • Deconstruction: This series is somewhat of a cautionary tale regarding doctors and their God complexes. The best intentions never guarantee the best outcomes.
  • Dirty Cop: The first-season finale reveals that Holden and his partner started the war between the Vine City Crew and the Norteños to cover up the fact that they were robbing the safe houses of both gangs.
  • Doctor Jerk: Ellison sometimes comes off this way to his coworkers, although he makes an effort to be nice to his patients.
  • Does Not Like Men: Gretchen openly admits that she hates men.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In "Diagnosis", Gretchen gets caught trying to sneak a young boy out of Norteño territory to save him from a pedophile. Luckily for her, it turns out that the Norteños hate pedophiles, and they agree to protect the boy and take care of the creep, and Gretchen is allowed to leave with her life.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: John and Gretchen.
  • From Bad to Worse: The series starts with John Ellison barely holding it together. Every episode seems to find new ways to make his life even worse.
  • Genius Bruiser: Prior to becoming Easy's right-hand man, Darius had considered becoming a doctor.
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Subverted; Gretchen is one.
  • Left Hanging: The finale ends with a mysterious caller blackmailing John regarding the clinic he set on fire earlier in the season. The series was cancelled before this could be explored further.
  • The Littlest Cancer Patient: Ellison's daughter Rebecca was one of these. Her death hit him and his wife very hard.
  • The Load: Early in the series, Gretchen relies on a drug-addled clerk named Jed to falsify paperwork for her and John. Unfortunately, Jed turns out to be a severe addict, and his inability to control himself results in him getting arrested and nearly exposing her and John's illegal activities.
  • Missing Child: In the second episode, Antoine goes missing, and Ellison enlists the help of a male nurse to find him. The male nurse mentions that he has a kid of his own, and this situation is one of his nightmares.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In the first-season finale, John is horrified when he realizes that he's been played by Det. Holden.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In the first episode, Dr. O'Neill informs a distraught Henry Maxson that his foot is badly infected and is going to have to be amputated, then leaves him alone for a few minutes, during which time Maxson manages to steal some drugs and kill himself with an overdose.
    • In the first-season finale, John tries to go to the police to extricate himself from the gang war between the VC Crew and the Norteños, only to discover that Det. Holden started the gang war to begin with.
  • Papa Wolf: Antoine is everything to Easy, and he is fully prepared to kill anyone who threatens the boy's safety.
  • Police Brutality: Holden pulls a soft version of this, harassing John, dragging him into the station under duress, taking away the police detail that was supposed to keep his family safe, and then bringing a whole bunch of cop cars to the Ellisons' house to deliver a single subpoena, all to send a message to John about how badly he can disrupt his life.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In order to escape probable criminal conspiracy charges after Darius manages to slip out of the emergency room, Ellison manages to convince Detective Holden that he was high on morphine when Darius disappeared. Since his supervisor saw him dispose of a syringe and a vial of morphine, his story seems to be corroborated, wrecking Holden's attempts to squeeze him for information.
  • Scary Black Man: Easy Tyler has an entire crew of Scary Black Men at his disposal and has no problem with sending them after Ellison if he thinks the doctor's resolve is slipping.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Ellison and Gretchen are willing to break the rules if they feel those rules get in the way of doing what they think is right.
  • Shoot the Dog: In the third episode, Easy relates the story of how he shot his beloved dog in the head after finding out that his son was allergic to him.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted; the first episode opens with Ellison forced to see a therapist after apparently flipping out and beating the shit out of a bunch of gangbangers. While he admits that his judgment was poor, he manages to convince her that suspending him would result in far more people being harmed.
  • Title Drop: The therapist at the end of the pilot episode warns John about his overzealous tendencies being likely to backfire on him sooner or later. See the page quote above.