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Series / FBI

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FBI (2018), from Emmy-award winning Dick Wolf, is a fast-paced CBS Police Procedural about the inner workings of the New York office of the FBI.

These first-class agents, including Special Agents Maggie Bell (Missy Peregrym), her partner Omar Adom "OA" Zidan (Zeeko Zaki), and Kristen Chazal (Ebonée Noel) bring all their talents, intellect, and technical expertise to tenaciously investigate cases of tremendous magnitude, including terrorism, organized crime, and counterintelligence, in order to keep New York and the country safe. The team is initially led by Special Agent-In-Charge Ellen Solberg (Connie Nielsen), with Jubal Valentine (Jeremy Sisto) as her second. Since Nielsen was unable to commit to the series after the pilot, her character was written out and replaced by Dana Mosier (Sela Ward). She would in turn be replaced by Isobel Castille (Alana de la Garza) after the first season. Stuart Scola (John Boyd) joins the team in the second season, followed by Tiffany Wallace (Katherine Renee Turner) in the third season.

The first spinoff, FBI: Most Wanted, debuted in January 2020, focusing on the Fugitive Task Force. The second spinoff, FBI: International, debuted in September 2021, focusing on the International Fly Team.

The show is currently airing the fifth season.

Not to be confused with the 1965 series The F.B.I.

FBI contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Peter DeLeon in "Unreasonable Doubt" who at first seems like a Nice Guy who volunteers at the children's hospital but is actually a murderous rapist who targets young married women he finds on an incel website. Once he's finished, he bounds his victims with wire and steals their wedding rings before sinking them underwater. The chilling part is that his first kill was eight years ago and is still killing. The reason why he hadn't been caught? He underwent a bone marrow transplant in his youth due to having acute lymphoblastic leukemia. His DNA merged with his donor's. In other words, his semen came back as his donor and not him, which lead to the said donor being wrongfully imprisoned. And even when he is being interrogated by Jubal and Scola, he still puts on a friendly face.
  • Artistic License – Law: Every time we see the central headquarters of our FBI team, the heroes are consistently getting information about major breakthroughs and important statistics on the fly, with Scola asking a question and almost immediately getting what he needs if it's available. It's to the point that characters have just learned about a suspect, and within the next 5-10 seconds they've already pulled up videos involving the suspect and every piece of info they can publicly get. Time spans within cases also tend to be understated or even outright never touched upon, making all of them seem localized within a short period. Law enforcement is not this fast; simply finding what you want, when you want, can take much longer periods of time between internet traffic and the actual relevancy of information, especially for suspects that don't have any prior tangles with the law, and actually mobilizing operations, stings and arrests requires a fair amount of time in its own right, potentially even several weeks or months of bureaucratic red tape. FBI, of course, consolidates all of this to keep up the fast-paced thriller mysteries as they unfold with little pause besides for the cast's personal scenes.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: In "What Lies Beneath", OA gets into a dispute with an Egyptian diplomat visiting New York for a heart transplant. Said diplomat is the head of the Egyptian secret police, who is notorious for imprisoning a huge number of political protesters without trial, including OA's cousin. When confronted about it, the diplomat admits to it...and reveals that said protesters had planned to steal munitions from the army and use them to blow up a school as part of a false flag operation to vilify the government, an act that repulsed even him. The Egyptian diplomat admits to OA he's done questionable things, but he refuses to apologize for saving the lives of over 100 children by arresting a few dozen people and throwing away the key.
    • In the same episode, the diplomat admits to hiring an assassin to kill the son of a political rival...because said son was a serial rapist whose family were sheltering him from the justice the diplomat felt his victims were due.
  • Bombproof Appliance: In "Scorched Earth", Maggie and OA find a bomb in an exclusive restaurant with two minutes left on the timer. While OA gets everyone out of the building, Maggie disposes of the bomb by placing it in he walk-in freezer in the kitchen, where it explodes without harming anyone.
  • Broken Bird: Elise Taylor in "Trigger Effect" after having a bomb planted on her neck in "Liar's Poker". Her trauma even causes her to make an error with an address that kills a woman.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • In "American Idol," Maggie gets this when she realizes a Senator running for President who she's long admired deliberately buried evidence that would have proven a suspect didn't commit a crime. Worse, the woman ruined the career of a co-worker who wanted to go public about this and still defends herself on how the man was "obviously" guilty.
      • In the same episode, OA reveals that when he was a kid, he met his favorite baseball player and told him that he wanted to be just like him when he grows up. But the player just looked at OA and told him that that was the stupidest thing he's ever heard.
    • In "Payback", Isobel is jarred to learn her former FBI mentor stole money from a bust to pay his bills which led to his son being kidnapped by the cartel he ripped off. Isobel tells him off (in his hospital bed) about how she had trusted him so much and he lied to her and has him arrested.
  • The Cameo: "Emotional Rescue" sees Hailey Upton from Chicago P.D. make an appearance; Looks like FBI has been added to the same 'Verse as the various Chicago series, as well as the Law & Order franchise.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The first episode of the show opens with the explosion of an apartment complex that kills a number of tenants, including a 7-year-old boy. When the main characters investigate the intended target's apartment who received the bomb, they find him decimated into nothing but a leg.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Antonio Vargas, a complete and utter bastard of a cartel leader, will do anything to get his way, including picking fights with the FBI and killing whoever crosses him whatsoever or just happened to impede his business. But the moment that Maggie manages to sneak inside his home and send a recording of his wife and son back to to the FBI, he folds on his bombing plan in New York City and gives them the disarm codes. Unfortunately, this isn't the end of it: a rival cartel murders his family while he's imprisoned, which gives him a personal blame for the FBI as the entirety of the team responsible for his arrest gets bounties on their heads over it.
  • Far East Asian Terrorists: "Legacy" has the FBI investigating the Negara Islamiyah Asia (Asian Islamic State), where OA was previously involved in an anti-terrorist operation during the War on Terror. Majority of its members are Bruneian Muslims. It's merely a fictional counterpart of Jemaah Islamiya.
  • Gratuitous Nazis: The series' premiere features a white nationalist named Robert Lawrence, plotting with violent black gang leaders to ignite hate and have New York City turn on itself.
  • It's Personal: Happens a lot; a victim or someone connected to a case is an old friend of one of the agents, or some aspect of the case relates to something in an agent's background.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The FBI will often clash with other agencies on cases.
    • "Crossroads" has them running into the DEA on a case as it turns out the DEA is more interested in capturing a drug lord than rescuing a missing driver and withhold information that nearly causes the man's death.
    • "Codename: Ferdinand" has the team must work with a CIA officer who clearly has a hard time sharing secrets on a case.
    • In "Salvation", the agents help a young girl trick her gang into confessing they were behind the death of a teacher trying to help her escape. The plan is for her to go into WITSEC only for ICE agents to arrest her which leads to a legal fight.
  • Loophole Abuse: "The Lives of Others" has Maggie and OA being unable to interrogate a suspect without an attorney present... but that doesn't mean they can't go into his interview room and say things to each other that indirectly threaten him into talking.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: "Invisible"'s Big Bad is Sam Musk, a seventeen-year-old boy with severe ADHD, who plans to shoot up a college fair just to win the attention of a girl he likes.
  • Man on Fire: The fate of a right-wing hatemonger in "A New Dawn", who is burned to death by a Molotov Cocktail.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Little Egypt" has the FBI investigate an anti-Muslim incident at a restaurant in Little Egypt, a neighborhood in Queens.
    • The episode "Hacktivist" has the FBI investigate a case of hacking in a hospital, which is done by a literal hacktivist to get the FBI investing other crimes that happened, which the agency overlooked.
  • Mob Debt: The episode "Heroes" has a married couple holding up a bank in order to get access to a safety deposit box registered in the husband's father's name, but won't divulge what's inside. The contents turn out to be a drive containing two hundred million dollars in Bitcoin said father stole from the Columbian drug cartel he used to launder money for, which led to him being tortured and killed and the cartel threatening to do the same to his granddaughter if her parents are unable to get the money back within a certain time period.
  • Oppressive Immigration Enforcement:
    • In "Salvation", following seventeen-year-old Jessica Sanchez risking her life to help the FBI put away the Gang members who murdered a teacher who tried to help free her, before they are able to get her safely into witness protection Jessica is arrested by ICE agents for being an undocumented immigrant and sentenced for deportation. Despite Isobel's best attempts she's sent back to Mexico, into the Gang's stronghold despite it being effectively a death sentence for the poor girl.
    • Played With in "Protective Details" the killer is revealed to be motivated by his parents' deaths due to them being deported back to El Salvador after peacefully living in the US for decades in spite of the clear evidence they would be killed by the same brutal gang they originally fled from, and overall presented sympathetically, especially as the judge (his second victim) had a reputation for harsh decisions on undocumented immigrants and ensured they were deported before he had a chance to appeal. However, the ICE agent who arrested them (his first victim) is presented as simply a member of law enforcement doing their job (and implied to think the law is too strict). Likewise whilst the loudly anti-immigrant Congressman Grange initially comes across as a repugnant bigot and a stereotypical hard-nosed conservative, he turns out to have a sympathetic motivation and as he reveals to OA his actual views on immigration are really more moderate and nuanced, admitting that whilst he would prefer to focus more on his actual views, the reality is he's lagging behind in an election year and firebrand anti-immigrant rhetoric is what appeals to his voting base and financial backers.
  • Phony Newscast: A captured terrorist says that a bomb is set to go off at the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange. Jubal is convinced he's bluffing but Isobel says they can't take the chance and are cutting him a deal. Taking advantage of the guy being locked up all night, Jubal gives him his watch (set a few hours early) and then invites him to watch a live feed of the Exchange opening. In reality, it's not due to open for another two hours and the video has been altered with today's date. Jubal figures if the bomb is real, the man will be confused at it not going off. When nothing happens, the guy just shrugs "had to try," confirming it was all a bluff. By the time he learns it was all faked, he's on his way to jail.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: "Most Wanted" has all the hallmarks of an incipient spinoff, which then launched as FBI: Most Wanted. A new FBI agent character has a touching scene with his daughter before Maggie and OA investigate the episode's case, and their suspect is placed on the FBI's Most Wanted list and handed off to the new character and his task force, which is devoted to hunting suspects on the list. All of the usual characters disappear from the story in favor of the new team, which has scenes establishing its dynamics and history. Maggie returns at the end to help take down the suspect by her own request.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The events of "Legacy" is seemingly open for anti-terrorist ops going after prominent terrorist leaders whose deaths aren't easily verified.
  • Smug Snake: The villain of "A New Dawn" is an authority figure who has a cult leader-like hold over his followers. He boasts that they practically worship him, but if they commit terrorist violence against people he hates it's not his fault. (He's lying about that last part.)
  • Story Arc: "Exposed" reveals Maggie's late husband's car crash was orchestrated. The hitman responsible dies before she can learn anything, beginning her quest for who hired him and why.
  • Witless Protection Program: "Compromised" sees Maggie and OA dealing with several people in the Witness Protection Program getting exposed and assassinated in rapid succession, even several who have already spent years within the program without a problem. It's acknowledged in the episode that this has never happened before and shouldn't be possible. It turns out the local head of the US Marshals running the program is corrupt and is selling the information for money.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Big Bad of "Trigger Effect" is a fired lawyer who was accused of having sex with underage girls via online deep fakes created by an envious coworker.


Video Example(s):


FBI briefing

The FBI intelligence analysts are briefed on the presence of a Belarusian military officer who came to the US via forged passports.

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Main / MissionBriefing

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