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Series / Finding Carter

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Finding Carter is a 2014 MTV drama series, featuring Kathryn Prescott, of Skins fame, in the title role.

Carter Stevens enjoyed her life with her carefree single mother Lori, until one night after she's arrested for trespassing while on a nightly jaunt to an amusement park. This arrest reveals a shocking secret: Lori Stevens isn't her real mother, but instead a woman who kidnapped her from her real parents, Elizabeth and David Wilson, when she was three. Additionally, Lori has apparently vanished into thin air, and Elizabeth is a police officer who has made it her mission to capture her. Carter also discovers that she has a fraternal twin sister, Taylor, who's grown up into a goody-two shoes thanks to her parents' paranoia over what happened, and a younger brother named Grant, who feels unappreciated and ignored.

Despite bonding with David, Grant, and, after a little while, Taylor, Carter soon grows to resent Elizabeth, especially as she still views Lori as her "real" mother. With the FBI trying to track down Lori, Carter hopes her mother can find her first so they can be reunited and escape together.


Finding Carter contains examples of:

  • All-Loving Hero: Carter can, at least eventually, see the good in everyone. This turns out to be a bad thing, as it makes it hard for her to see the bad things about Crash and Lori.
  • Always Identical Twins: Averted. Carter and Taylor are fraternal twin sisters.
  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Although Carter did not actually die, Taylor did live in mortal fear of something happening to her like what happened to Carter
  • Batman Gambit: Carter pulls one by assuming that Elizabeth would follow her if she left to find Crash, which she does. This gives Carter enough time to talk to Crash and allows him to be in a calm enough mood that he can be arrested without incident.
  • Better as Friends: Carter and Max. Once Max meets Taylor and Carter meets Crash, they are firmly in the friend-zone.
    • Taylor and Gabe try going on a date, but ultimately decide that they are this.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Wilsons fit this, but Crash's family (the few members we know of, anyway) also apply.
  • Break the Cutie: Season 2 does this to Taylor in a pretty alarming way. After Carter is abducted for a second time, we're treated to flashbacks of three year old Taylor watching Lori pick Carter up and drive away with her. It's this that causes her to decide she wants to go with Elizabeth to meet with Lori and Carter, which ends in Lori trying to first hold them all hostage at gunpoint, she then tries to get away with both girls, something Taylor's lived in fear of her whole life.
    • It also does not help that Taylor and Carter have to then watch Lori and Elizabeth have a drag-out fight in the parking lot, and Lori almost gets away.
    • Also Crash, who admits he was responsible for his little brother's accidental death.
    • Max, after he's shot by Crash.
    • Gabe after his dad dies
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: in a Blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment,the hashtag at the bottom right corner of the screen in season 2 episode 2 changes from "#Finding Carter" to Elizabeth Knows in the last two minutes. Bonus points that this happens during The Reveal.
  • Camp Gay: David's literary agent.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Ofe and Max.
  • Coordinated Clothes: Carter and Taylor had worn matching dresses to their birthday party and on the day Carter was abducted.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Kyle, after getting shot by Crash's uncle, Shay.
  • Dramatic Irony: David is a nonfiction writer who lies to his family.
  • Exact Words: Max comes to Carter to encourage her not to go off with Lori, saying he knows some things that might change her mind about her "mother." Carter, who's decided to go no matter what, tells him not to tell her. So instead Max tells Taylor instead as soon as she comes into the room with them, telling Carter he's not actually talking to her.
  • Hollywood Law: Elizabeth gets Crash a deal to avoid prison by talking with the DA and his lawyer. She tells him about this after he arrives in the courthouse. However, he would have to agree on this beforehand. Not that he wouldn't, of course, but it isn't the first time he'd be hearing about it in reality.
  • Insistent Terminology: To show her attachment to Lori Stevens, Carter insists on being referred to as such rather than her birth name of Lyndon, and refers to her birth mother as Elizabeth and rebukes anyone who refers to her as Carter's mother. As of episode 11, Carter drops this and refers to Elizabeth as her mother.
  • Inspector Javert: Elizabeth is driven to catch Lori Stevens.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In "Stay With Me", it's why Crash breaks Carter's heart once again by leaving town.
  • Jerkass: Carter is sometimes needlessly cruel to Elizabeth, and Elizabeth is overly controlling of Carter. Both occasionally get opportunities to Pet the Dog, however. By contrast, there's David's agent, who says it's his job to be insensitive, and David himself, who's writing a book about Carter after she explicitly told him not to.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Taylor and Gabe, at least in Gabe's mind, much to Taylor's despair.
  • Mama Bear: Elizabeth, much to Carter's aggravation. By comparison, Lori comes off as obsessive and slightly unhinged. By episode 11, Carter comes to accept and rely upon Elizabeth's protectiveness. Season 2 episode 6 shows her protecting Crash from his evil uncle.
  • Manipulative Bastard: David has shades of this. So does Crash. Also Jared, in spades.
  • Meddling Parents: Elizabeth's mom seems to have a grudge against David, and even goes so far as to encourage Elizabeth to cheat on him!
  • Mid-Season Twist: Carter and Taylor are thrown a surprise 17th birthday celebration, their first since they were three years old. Carter didn't even know it was her birthday, and discovers that she's been celebrating the anniversary of her abduction. This leads her to more closely examine numerous disconcerting aspects of her relationship with Lori. Realizing that she now has a family to lose, Carter decides to stay with the Wilsons rather than run away with Lori. David confronts Lori on Carter's behalf over the phone, and we get a hint that they have a prior relationship.
  • Missing Child: Carter's parents lost their toddler daughter and didn't see her again for over a decade — and while it turns out that she was relatively well-cared for and happy, they had no way of knowing that; for all they knew, she was suffering or dead. And then, after they've finally gotten her back (mentally as well as physically), Lori takes her away again.
  • Missing Mom: Gabe. Until we find out that his mom died of cancer six years ago.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Bird (eventually revealed to be named Beatrix) and Crash (real name Cameron). Also Ofe, which stands for "One Freakin' Eyebrow".
  • Only Sane Man: When Elizabeth and Taylor want to meet with Lori and Carter after Carter's second kidnapping, Grant is the only one who suggests letting the police handle it.
  • Parental Neglect: Bird's parents leave her alone in a big, empty house for months at a time to fend for herself. She only knows how long they're planning to be gone by how much money they leave her to buy food. Her place becomes the go-to spot for when the kids want to engage in sex, drugs and other forms of delinquency.
  • A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: Carter has an affinity for going to these, including one where she takes ecstasy and has a seizure, sending her into a coma.
  • Rape as Backstory: Heavily implied with Bird. She kept drawing a masked, hooded figure over and over again, and drew Carter instead of herself with the half skull portrait to distance herself from the pain.
  • Retcon: In the first season a conversation between David and Elizabeth states they got married because Elizabeth became unexpectedly pregnant. In the second season we're told that Elizabeth couldn't become pregnant so they needed an egg donor.
  • The Reveal: David and Elizabeth used an egg donor to conceive Carter and Taylor: Lori. Lori feels this entitles her to have a role in Carter and Taylor's lives and has fueled her obsession.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Taylor is a blonde who almost always follows the rules, while Carter is a redhead who casually breaks them. Played with, however, in that Taylor is clearly resentful of how much people seem to prefer Carter and let her get away with things, and that the reason for her behavior is thanks to growing up in a household paranoid about something happening to her like it did to Lyndon/Carter.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Carter considers Lori to be her mother and brushes off anything that contradicts this for most of the first season. She starts realizing how messed up her situation really was mid-season, electing to stay with the Wilsons. She finally realizes that Elizabeth, while imperfect, is acting out of love for her and accepts her as her mother in the penultimate episode of season 1.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Crash, the local handsome drug dealer and car thief.
    • Don't forget robber and unintentional attempted murderer.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: A lot of the history between Carter and Lori is told through these.
  • The Un-Favorite: Grant clearly feels this is his role in the family, and resents it.
  • Twin Desynch: Carter and Taylor were raised very differently. Lori had more of a "parents should be friends" and very affectionate parenting style, while Taylor was raised on the constant shadow of Carter's disappearance, causing her to be a studious good girl to please her parents and stay out of trouble.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Gabe is briefly attracted to Taylor after she kisses him during a game of Spin the Bottle/Seven Minutes in Heaven. By that point, however, Taylor has moved on to Max.