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Series / Forever

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"It’s a long story."
— Henry Morgan (Arc Words)

Forever is an Urban Fantasy Police Procedural starring Ioan Gruffudd and Alana de la Garza that aired on ABC for the 2014-15 Fall-Spring season.

Gruffudd stars as Dr. Henry Morgan, New York City's chief medical examiner, who is actually over two hundred years old—whenever he dies, he wakes up shortly afterward in a nearby body of water, for some reason. After two hundred years, though, he just wants to grow old and actually die. In 2014, he crosses paths with Detective Jo Martinez (de la Garza) as she investigates a subway crash that killed fifteen people—Henry included. When he helps solve the case, she requests him as the M.E. attached to her cases, and so They Fight Crime!.

The series wasn't renewed by ABC for a second season, and despite a loyal fan campaign to drum up interest in the show, it ultimately was not picked up by another network or a digital service. However, the complete series was released to DVD as a part of the Warner Archive Collection in 2016.


Not to be confused with the 2018 dramedy series of the same name.


  • Abhorrent Admirer:
    • The mysterious caller, Adam, is a killer who claims to be a "fan" of Henry's.
    • The Frenchman is a female antique dealer who apparently fancies Abe, but he's creeped out by her.
  • Achilles' Heel: Adam believes that only the weapons used to first kill the immortals (a Roman dagger for himself and a flintlock pistol for Henry) will make them Killed Off for Real Subverted: turns out he was mistaken.
  • Always Murder: Lampshaded in "6 A.M.", where Detective Hanson says the odds that Henry will declare a death as a murder is a sucker bet, because Henry always says that it's murder. Still, it's subverted in two episodes: one where it was a suicide that unintentionally looked like a murder, and one where the "victim" was not actually dead — and who was in fact the mastermind of the events. Zig-zagged in the opening of one episode where the case of a random victim with an ax in his forehead looks like a clear murder but Henry rules it an accidental death (the guy fell off his roof and the ax fell down after him, Henry's Sherlock Scan determines), and the next case is a supposed bridge jumper whose death looks like a suicide but Henry determines she was murdered.
  • An Aesop: In "Diamonds Are Forever," Abe and Jo both learn not to prejudge people.
    • Abe assumes that "the Asian kid" with a tattoo and baseball cap who was in the store stole a missing statue, and that he's come back to steal again. In actuality, the kid is an avid fan of antiques and was moving the vase he's holding to a place he believes better suits it; he similarly moved the statue inside a chest, because (as Henry kept insisting) it's fake and hideous.
    • Early in the episode the wife of an ex-con insists that he turned his life around after he got out. Henry believes it, but Jo tells Henry that "criminals don't change their stripes." At the end of the episode she learns that the reason the victim (an ex-con) knocked on her door the night he was killed is because he wanted to see Jo's husband, who believed him in the past when he said he wanted to turn his life around and helped lighten his sentence when he got convicted. He was being set up for a crime this time, and he thought Jo's husband would believe him.
  • And I Must Scream: The Season 1 finale: Henry realizes that killing Adam with the puggio might not actually result in Adam's permanent death so he injects air into Adam's brainstem, causing a pulmonary embolism resulting in Locked-In Syndrome. Adam's brain is fully functioning but he can't move, speak, or communicate in any meaningful manner.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Zigzagged. In the pilot, Henry mentions that if he were to have poisoned the subway conductor, he would have used polonium, as it would take weeks to work and allow for the creation a better alibi, which is much closer to real-life than how it is depicted in "The King of Columbus Circle," where a victim of polonium poisoning shows symptoms soon after being dosed and is treated by pumping her stomach. In reality, it takes some time before the adverse effects become noticeable and by the time they do, it's too late to do anything besides making sure the victim's comfortable.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • In "Skinny Dipper", Adam goes to some effort to frame Henry for murder. He also takes steps to ensure that the "real killer" is found by setting up a mentally ill man as his proxy, and sending this man to attack Henry, who's forced to defend himself and Abe. At the end of the episode, Henry sees Adam's real face, but now he's been forced to take a human life for the first time—which is what Adam intended.
    • In "Best Foot Forward" the intended murder victim, a dancer, actually survives being kidnapped and having her foot forcefully amputated, but the mastermind of the events that effectively ruined her dancing career in all likelihood will get away with the act. The mastermind was the dancer herself; she suffered from a degenerative bone disease that would have ended her career anyway, so she arranged for her brother — a trained medic — to stage her kidnapping and to cut off her foot so that she could enjoy the publicity that her "tragedy" would generate rather than fade out when her condition finally prevented her from working.
  • Batman Gambit: Henry uses Adam's homicidal nature and inherent need to gloat to his advantage in the Season 1 Finale.
  • Bedlam House: Henry was locked up in the actual Bedlam asylum back in the 1800s after telling his wife he was immortal.
  • Been There, Shaped History:
    • The Jack the Ripper case led to the creation of professional medical examiners. Henry just happens to be the doctor brought in to consult on the murders, thus he also happens to be the world's first medical examiner. Adam also implies he is Jack the Ripper.
    • Thanks to his longevity, and supernatural ability to get himself in trouble, Henry's saved three generations of a royal family over the span of 60 years.
    • The doctor who experimented on Adam in Auschwitz was Dr. Josef Mengele.
    • Adam claims that he was there at the stabbing of Julius Caesar and tried to save him.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Carlyle family from episode 4.
  • Big Secret: The main secret is Henry's immortality, and in the past he let a man die when he might've been able to save him to keep others from discovering it.
    • Played with in the pilot. Obviously, Henry doesn't want to call attention to the fact that he was in the subway crash, but Jo figures it out anyway, declaring him the prime suspect due to his presence and withholding of information. However, he is able to prove that the evidence against him isn't substantial enough, and finds evidence of another suspect, clearing himself surprisingly quickly, all while managing to avoid having his immortality discovered.
  • Black Boss Lady: Lieutenant Joanna Reece, Jo's boss.
  • Bondage Is Bad: A Zig-Zagged Trope; a morally decent woman who works as a dominatrix is framed for a murder, but she is ultimately proven innocent and was even using the practice as a therapy toward the person who would be the victim. However, it's played straight by the perpetrator, who used the practice to torture and kill the victim in question.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Henry semi-frequently breaks police procedure — interrupting interrogations to ask his own questions, taking home and occasionally lending evidence, etc. — and sometimes sniffs things in the course of a Sherlock Scan, which weirds out the others, but Jo usually covers for him with her boss when he does something illegal, and Lieutenant Reece tells Henry she puts up with his eccentricities because he gets results.
  • Burner Phones: Adam usually has these as a way to keep Henry guessing about his identity.
  • Call-Back: It's revealed that Adam spent time in Auschwitz as a test subject. In the season finale, an architect shows Henry a journal he found that belonged to Dr. Josef Mengele detailing the experiments performed and relating Adam's Resurrective Immortality, which is what led the architect to become interested in the plot-important Roman dagger.
  • Can Only Move the Eyes: Adam's fate after Henry induces Locked-In Syndrome by injecting air into his neck.
  • Can't Take Anything with You: A non-Time Travel version. Whenever Henry dies, his body vanishes and reappears naked in the nearest body of water. The first time we see him reappear, Henry is immediately arrested for indecent exposure, and it's implied that this happens a lot.
  • Caught on Tape: When a killer has taken Henry hostage with a knife at his throat, Henry obviously isn't worried about dying. He does, however, look nervously at the security camera which would record his death and then body disappearing.
  • Cliffhanger: "The Man in the Killer Suit" wraps up just like any other episode, but then in its last minute Henry gets in a cab, and the driver turns out to be Adam, who locks him in and speeds off.
  • Covering Up Your Gray: Inverted. Dr. Henry Morgan has not aged since he became essentially immortal 200 years ago. In order to cover up his agelessness, he frequently has to add grey patches to his hair.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Villain of the Week in "The Wolves of Deep Brooklyn" is a stock broker running his entire company as a Ponzi scheme, and is willing to resort to murder and bribery to keep it going.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Jo is not amused when Henry pours ethanol on her hand and lights it on fire to neutralize the poison thrown at it.
  • Curse Cut Short: From "Social Engineering":
    Abraham Morgan: No matter the decade, I know how young people think. See, they think with their hearts, and they think with their—
    Henry Morgan: Congratulations!
  • Deadly Gas: The pilot's antagonist plans to pump one into the air conditioning system of Grand Central Station.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • When Henry's testing a lethal poison on himself (bear in mind, he's in front of and talking with his son at the time):
      Henry Morgan: Wouldn't it be ironic if this time I actually die?
      Abraham Morgan: Hysterical.
    • When he's been shot and is bleeding out:
      Killer: You're going to a better place.
      Henry Morgan: I doubt that.
    • When Adam (a man who has lived for over 2000 years and hates it) expresses interest in Abe, Henry threatens that if Adam does anything to harm Abe, he "will live to regret it."
      Adam: As opposed to what?
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Played for mild laughs when other characters make various references to Henry's age and to living forever, not knowing that Henry is actually 200 years old and immortal as he and the audience do.
    • In the same way but more dramatically, at the end of "Dead Men Tell Long Tales" Isaac tells Henry the story of a slave ship that was taken over and made it to non-slaveholding land in America. He says only the map and the story survived, "our story." Isaac, as a descendant of one of the slaves, means "our" as in his and his family's. However, what the audience knows and Isaac doesn't is that "our story" also applies to him and Henry: Henry was the doctor on that ship 200 years ago and is the one who dropped the key that freed the slaves.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The pilot has Henry quite nonchalantly asking Abe to kill him so that he can solve the week's mystery. Later episodes, however, have him say that he still fears death and show that he fights to stay alive even if dying and coming back to life would be a simpler option.
  • Entitled to Have You: Of the what they do type. A man once helped a woman he was infatuated with hide her pregnancy by taking her to live in upstate New York, then cared for her throughout her term. He was upset that instead of falling for him, once she'd had the baby she went back to her boyfriend, the child's father.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In the first scene of the pilot we see Henry mistake someone for his late wife, check the time on a pocket watch, show off his Sherlock Scan talent, then die violently and reawaken in a river.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Henry has them so often Lucas can call it out.
    Lucas Wahl: And, cue the "ah hah" moment.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: How far it's just personal resentment of what happened to him may be debatable, but Adam has stated that his hatred of Nazis is so great that Henry can be sure he'd never harm Abe, as both Abe and Adam suffered in the concentration camps.
  • Evil Counterpart: Adam, who has lived two thousand years to Henry's "mere" two hundred, is what Henry could become if he lives long enough: a sociopathic killer who has lost his connection with humanity. Adam claims he was a good man once, before immortality drove him to become who he is.
  • Exact Words:
    • In "Punk is Dead" Lieutenant Reece tells Martinez and Hanson to stay away from a suspect and stresses to Henry that no member of the NYPD is allowed to pursue this particular line of inquiry. The Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York happens to be an entirely separate entity from the police department.
    • In "The Night In Question", Jo has arrested a small-town sheriff for murder. Reece makes a point of mentioning that "no one with a badge" is to go anywhere near him until Internal Affairs arrives. Henry has to be hit over the head with the message, but they send him in to question the man.
    • In "The Night in Question", Jo asks Henry who "Abe's mother" is to him that her case is causing him to act so irrationally. In a deleted scene, Henry later describes their relationship. Everything he says is technically true, but someone who doesn't know he's immortal and talking about his wife would assume he's describing a time when he was a child and Abe's mother was a parental or grandparental figure to him.
  • The Faceless: The few times Adam is onscreen, it's either from the back or with the camera focusing on his lower body. It's finally averted when he reveals his face at the end of "Skinny Dipper".
  • Fair Cop: Alana de la Garza is drop-dead gorgeous, so of course Detective Martinez is an excellent example. The other regular police characters, however, are much homelier. Lampshaded in episode 3 when Henry spells out how beautiful Martinez is by using scientific statistics (i.e., the ideality of the proportions of her facial features).
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Quoted word for word by Henry about the victim of the week, a ballerina:
      Henry Morgan: For her, not being able to dance would be a fate worse than death.
    • Adam's eventual fate in the finale, courtesy of Henry inducing Locked-in Syndrome by injecting air into his brain stem and causing an embolism.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences:
    • Henry and Abe finish each other's sentences when making up an on-the-spot cover story of how they know each other.
    • Henry finishes Lucas's sentences at one point at the end of "Best Foot Forward," and it's implied this isn't the first time.
      Lucas Wahl: Yeah, you're doing that thing where you—
      Henry Morgan: —finish your sentences? Yes.
  • Flash Back: There are lots of them.
    • Every time Henry dies his whole life literally flashes before his eyes. Stock Footage is used for this since he can die repeatedly and the resurrection is always the same.
    • He also has flashbacks nearly every episode triggered by present-day dialogue or the events of his current case.
  • Fountain of Youth: In episode 3, the drug "Aeterna" is introduced, advertised as making people younger... except people taking it are dying of horrific brain damage, like they have Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and Huntington's all at once. The pure form of the drug actually works as advertised without any apparent side effects; it's just that using stem cells was too expensive. They started harvesting pituitary glands from human corpses, which was far cheaper but gave the patients a prion disease that basically ate holes in their brains.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first episode Jo says the person who bought Henry a 300-year-old pocket watch as a gift must haved cared a lot about him. Henry supposes she did, "but then she came to her senses and left me." Near the end of the first season, we learn that Abigail seemingly ran out on Henry because she had aged and felt too old for him.
    • In "Diamonds Are Forever", during a shootout Detective Dunn is heard telling the suspect to freeze and the suspect is heard saying, "What the hell, man!" We learn at the end that the two were working together. The suspect is bemused because his partner in crime is turning on him.
  • Frame-Up:
    • Adam frames Henry for murder in "Skinny Dipper" and frames a mental patient as the fall guy when the police back up Henry's innocence.
    • In "Diamonds Are Forever," an ex-con is framed for a jewelery store robbery before being killed. However, Henry's knowledge from the autopsy combined with a Sherlock Scan of the robbery scene suggests his innocence early into the episode.
  • Gene Hunting: Played With. Abe starts researching his family tree after he discovers his biological parents' names. He's quick to point out to Henry, however, that it doesn't change the fact that he sees Henry as his real father. He has known Henry and Abigail adopted him for at least 50 years by this point; it's not a wangsty "Who am I?" search but rather simple curiosity. Further played with when Abe's search reveals that he and Henry actually are related: Henry's uncle from 200 years ago is one of Abe's ancestors, making them first cousins many times removed.
  • Godwin's Law: Henry accuses the sociopathic Adam of being the type of person who would be chummy with the Nazi regime. Adam corrects him by revealing he went through torture at Auschwitz, and especially hates Nazis because of it.
  • Good Stepmother: The episode "The King of Columbus Circle" concludes with Lydia, the illegitimate daughter of the deposed King of Urkesh, meeting her father's wife after his death. Based on available information, the king and his wife couldn't have children, and his wife was unaware of her husband's illegitimate offspring until recently, but when Lydia meets her 'step-mother' in the hospital, the woman expresses joy at the chance to meet her husband's grandchild despite the circumstances, as it allows the Urkesh bloodline to continue.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: After two hundred years Henry is rather blasé about his personal safety. Then there's the stuff like injecting himself with a poison as the quickest way to find out which poison it is.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Averted in a flashback when the camera shows Abigail slitting her own throat and blood starting to pour out of the cut, and again in the next episode when Adam does the same to himself.
  • Guile Hero:
    • In "The King of Columbus Circle", the head of the Urkesh consulate can't safely help Jo and Henry in their investigation while in his office, but he makes do. When they first show up, he stonewalls them in his office but then meets them out front under the pretense of getting food from a truck. Later, they suspect an employee of the consulate of poisoning the late king and his wife and go there to ask for his employee record. The head of the consulate says they cannot release personal information of employees. Henry gets confrontational about it.
      Secretary Consulate General: I wish that I could help you... As I wish that I could help the young woman who visited earlier and claimed kinship to the king.note 
      Henry Morgan: Lydia...
      [Henry rushes out. Jo turns to go as well.]
      Secretary Consulate General: Detective.
      [Jo turns back around.]
      Secretary Consulate General: You forgot your newspaper.
      [He indicates a newspaper on his desk, inside of which is the suspect's employee record.]
    • Henry asks Lucas to fetch a dagger from evidence for him. Lucas says he can't: Jo already told him Henry would ask and that if Lucas obliged, he would be fired and maybe even prosecuted. He suggests with unusual assertiveness that Henry do some paperwork that's on his desk. Henry goes to his office and finds the dagger hidden in the pile of paperwork.
  • Hacker Collective: The episode "Social Engineering" features a hacktivist group called "the Faceless", another counterpart to Anonymous. When one of their members is murdered, the NYPD's investigation puts Henry's secret immortality at risk, as the main suspect (another member) threatens to expose his false records if he doesn't help them escape.
  • He Knows Too Much: Henry decides this of the mysterious caller. His plan of silencing the caller, in an interesting subversion of the trope, is simply to move far away and outlive the person. Of course, as he finds out at the end of the episode, the other person is also immortal, so outliving him isn't an option.
  • Held Gaze:
    • Jo and Henry share one on occasion, usually when they're talking about their pasts. In particular, there's a heavily charged one when Jo shows up at Henry's door after ditching her boyfriend Isaac and says she realized she didn't want to go on their trip to Paris.
      Jo Martinez: I realized that I... I didn't want to go.
      Henry Morgan: What? To Paris?
      Jo Martinez: ...With Isaac. I didn't want to go with Isaac.
      [Henry swallows heavily.]
      Henry Morgan: Why?
      [Shot of long Held Gaze]
    There's another, sort-of long one at the end of the season finale when Jo comes to Henry and asks him to tell his story after finding a picture of Henry, Abigail, and Abe from the 1940s along with Henry's pocket watch lying on the ground, seemingly left behind.
    • Henry shares one with Iona/Molly when they run into each other again at NYU.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A priest who was imprisoned with Henry convinces Henry to hang himself (and thus resurrect outside the facility) because he believes Henry's ability is a gift from God and he has much good to do in the world, and the priest will explain his absence by claiming to have helped him escape. When Henry protests that this will lead to the priest being punished, he shrugs it off as something worth going through in order to do the right thing.
  • Hidden Depths: Adam would never harm a hair on Abe's head, because Abe was a prisoner in Auschwitz and Adam has experienced the evils of the Nazi regime firsthand.
  • Historical Domain Character: A flashback to a party in 1929 Paris shows that Henry was part of the in-crowd among the artists of the time. His friends (or at least acquaintances) knew he wouldn't knowingly show up to a party, so Pablo Picasso suggested tricking him into coming by having the hostess tell him she was sick. Ernest Hemingway thinks Henry needs to get out more, seeing as they're in Paris, and stole his girllfriend the week before and has already moved on from her.
    Valerie: I won't have you spoiling my celebration by fighting with Hemingway again.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In episode 8, the villain tries to electrocute Henry in order to kill him when the police arrive to arrest him. However, the villain is positioned in such a way that Henry - who is bound at his wrists - can touch him, electrocuting him, too.
  • I am a Humanitarian: Several people unknowingly (and one knowingly) in the third episode. The chemist who was making the de-aging drug wanted to use stem cells, but her partner forced her to cut corners, so she started using human pituitary glands harvested from pilfered corpses.
  • I Can Explain: Jo comes in to arrest a dominatrix only to find Henry "tied up" in the office. Henry executes this trope only for Jo to tell him he doesn't have to.
  • Immortal Apathy: Adam turns out to be a case of this, he admits to Doctor Henry Morgan that he was originally as compassionate and empathetic as he is now. To the point that the event that caused his first death was attempting to protect Julius Caesar from the assassins. However, after two thousand years he has become distanced from humanity and overall bitter with existence in general, to the point he no longer cares about random innocents deaths as they are insignificant to him and only targets Henry simply cause interacting with another immortal is the first new concept he's faced in millennia. Henry is tormented by the possibility that if he doesn't find a cure for his own immortality, that he too might one day become as callous.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison:
    • In one episode, the Victim of the Week was pretending to be a British noble to con a wealthy family. When Jo and Henry interview the victim's fiancée's father, he mentions Dwight (the victim) having been a con man, which they never told him. He claims his daughter told him, but the police didn't tell her, either (they only told her Dwight's real identity). The father then admits that Dwight came to him and confessed.
    • In "Diamonds are Forever", Detective Dunn gives himself away as an accomplice in the crime Jo is investigating when he mentions that her house is in Washington Heights. As her husband was a prosecutor and therefore suffered the occupational hazard of having a lot of people want him dead, their address was kept secret even from the police. She never told him where she lives, so the only way he could know is if he'd been there before. He was the one who murdered the Victim of the Week, who was trying to knock on Jo's door at the time.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: David Krumholtz, who plays a younger Abe in a flashback in "Punk Is Dead," played Judd Hirsch's son in NUMB3RS.
  • Immortality: The only truly fantastical element in the show, although Henry and Adam's immortality follows certain rules:
    • Resurrective Immortality: If either of them die, their body disappears (clothes and all), and they wake up naked in the closest large body of water completely uninjured. This ability helps Henry escape prison in the 1810's.
    • The Ageless: However, if they do not die, they continue living without aging. This is the reason why Abigail left Henry in the 1980s, as she was naturally growing older whereas he was stuck at a biological age 35. That said, any injuries will heal normally unless a death "resets" them.
    • Combined, however, the above two situations could lead to either immortal getting stuck with a lifelong injury until they have another death. This happens to Adam by the end of the finale, who is stuck agelessly with Locked-In Syndrome, meaning that he could potentially spend decades or even centuries with the condition if his next death is prevented.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • The pilot starts with Henry in a subway accident, getting impaled on a torn pole. He then records in his journal the nature and location of his injuries and the level of pain on the scale of 1-to-10. Presumably, he does this with each new type of death he experiences.
    • Adam runs a taxi driver through with a katana in "Skinny Dipper" as part of his plan to frame Henry.
  • Inconvenient Hippocratic Oath: Subverted in the episode "New York Kids". A flashback to the 1950s sees Henry attempt to save a man who was shot in a botched robbery, despite the fact that he was injured himself, but when he hears other people coming, Henry crawls away to hide and basically leaves his would-be patient to die in order to preserve his secret.
  • Informed Ability: The song "6 A.M." is hailed by many characters as a seminal jazz piece, so revolutionary and so evocative that it changed the genre. The audience never actually hears the entire song.
  • It's a Long Story: The show's Catchphrase. Henry says it both in the pilot and in the final episode.
  • It's Personal:
    • In "6 A.M.", Lieutenant Reece has a bit of a grudge against the head of a jazz recording studio, since he screwed her nephew out of his songs.
      Lt. Reece: We can detain him for 72 hours. And, I am going to enjoy every one of those hours.
    • There's a subtext of this in "Skinny Dipper", when the precinct find out that someone is trying to frame Henry.
    • In "Punk is Dead", Reece, as a beat cop, felt that Eddie Warsaw's murder conviction had been based on a sloppy investigation because the department and prosecutors had simply decided it was one druggie killing another. Now that she has authority, she leaps at the chance to have it investigated properly.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Henry gives the suspect a drink heavily laced with antacid in order to induce a heart attack. When everyone else leaves to get help, Henry gets the information he's looking for with the threat that the man is currently dying and Henry's the only one who can save him.
  • Jack the Ripper: Henry was an investigator on the final murder, and Adam states he was also in London at the time, and it's implied he was the Ripper (though this is never confirmed either way).
  • Jack the Ripoff: The killer in episode 6 performs heavily researched recreations (though in truth he just used a well-researched comic as a "How-To" guide) of murders by famous serial killers, successfully pulling off Jack the Ripper and Black Dahlia kills, and being stopped in the middle of attempting a Boston Strangler kill.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: A strange version, as the person killed is killed to uphold his own masquerade. A serial killer not only stabs Henry so he's bleeding out internally from a guaranteed fatal wound, he then stomps on Henry's broken spine. There is absolutely no way Henry could explain surviving this to Jo, who's upstairs. So, of course, he's killed within 30 seconds by Adam. Henry deduces by the cut to the throat that "Adam" has killed people in this manner before.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Various characters compare Henry to Sherlock Holmes.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Henry's first wife Nora had him committed to a mental asylum because she thought his claims of immortality proved that he was insane. Fifty years later, after Henry escapes the asylum, Nora finds him again and tries to convince him to share his secret, but after she tries to reveal the truth by shooting him, she accidentally kills a nurse who took the bullet for Henry, and Nora is subsequently taken to an asylum herself.
  • Left Hanging: Although the show does resolve what happened to Abigail, the identities of Abe's birth parents, and the fate of the ship Henry was sailing on during his first death, it ends with no answers about the source of the immortality curse or how Henry can break it. Along the same line, Adam is still alive and could be a threat later on if he dies again, but we won't know. As to whether or not Henry ever will tell Jo his secret, the show ends right when he's confronted with evidence, and though the dialogue implies he will tell her, we ultimately don't know for sure.
    • Word of God attempted to clear some of this up on Twitter after the cancellation (e.g., Adam would return with the help of a third immortal, and Henry telling Jo would be interrupted but she would eventually become a Secret-Keeper), but not much else — in fact, some tidbits raised even more questions.
  • Limited Wardrobe: In the present day, Henry only wears variations on the same outfit: a suit, a vest, a button-up shirt, and a scarf. It appears to be a personal affectation. One episode introduces us to his tailor, the last tailor in New York to use a certain type of stitch. Given the fact that his clothes vanish whenever he dies, it can be assumed that he has a lot of near-identical outfits in his closet to keep people from wondering why his wardrobe keeps changing so quickly.
  • Logo Joke: At the end of "The Ecstasy Of Agony", which deals with the murder of a patient of a dominatrix therapist, the Good Session logo has the voice of the invisible therapist ("Good session.") be immediately followed by the sound of a whip cracking.
  • Look Both Ways:
    • In the episode dealing with a bridge jumper, Henry nearly falls off the bridge, himself. Though he would have resurrected, he points out that it's one of the least pleasant ways to die. He manages to climb back onto the bridge... only to be almost immediately hit by a truck. By the time the driver comes out to check what happened, Henry's body has already vanished to reappear in the river.
    • In "The Pugilist Break" a suspect who's being chased stops and turns to shoot at Henry. Before he can shoot, he's hit by a truck.
    • In "Social Engineering" a woman is tricked by a hacked walk signal into crossing the street, at which point she's hit by a car.
  • Love Hurts: Henry avoids meaningful romantic relationships because in the past they've all ended in tragedy or betrayal. He develops real feelings for Molly Dawes, then is reminded of the pain that comes with them when she's near-fatally injured. He breaks it off with her to avoid further, future heartbreak.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Henry's basement lab resembles one, and Jo even refers to it as such after searching it.
  • Master Poisoner: The villain of the pilot, a former chemist.
  • May–December Romance: The 22-year-old victim of "Look Before you Leap" was dating her 57-year-old colleague. He tried to break it off because he knew it wouldn't work.
  • Mayfly–December Friendship: Henry and Abe, the former discovering the latter as a healthy infant survivor of a concentration camp. Abe points this trope out when Henry prepares to move away to Europe to avoid and outlive the person who knows his secret. Henry could outlive the person, but Abe couldn't.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Henry is still torn up over his wife whom he met in the 1940s and shared a life with until she grew too old.
  • Mercy Kill: Adam efficiently slits Henry's throat to kill him quickly as he's bleeding out from a fatal stab wound and unable to move due to his back being broken, and would likely be found by Detective Martinez before he died and vanished. The same efficient throat cut also lets Henry know that Adam has killed people in this manner before.
  • Moment Killer: Jo appears to be finally ready to tell Henry how she feels about him (after breaking up with her rich, handsome boyfriend)... then Abe bursts into the shop to tell Henry something important. Jo excuses herself and leaves.
  • My Greatest Failure: "Dead Men Tell Long Tales" reveals Henry was secretly attempting to free the slaves aboard a shipping vessel, but being shot (his first death) and thrown overboard aborted his plan. He blamed himself for the deaths of those three hundred slaves when the ship was lost at sea, and he believed it to be the reason for his "curse." He later learns that, upon being shot, he dropped the key to the slave pen within direct reach of one of the slaves, enabling them to free themselves and take control of the ship. Though the ship did eventually sink, the survivors of the uprising were able to steer it North enough to land in non-slaveholding territory, according to a story told to Henry by one of their descendants.
  • Naked on Revival: Henry, every time he dies and revives.
  • Near-Villain Victory: The pilot ends with this, though Henry manages to tackle the antagonist off of the roof of the train station at the last moment.
  • The New Rock & Roll: An extremely detailed graphic novel about a demon that makes people kill (including a number of famous serial killers throughout history) is assumed by some of the characters to be the cause of a series of murders. The actual killer was using it as a how-to guide for mimicking famous killers, but it's made pretty clear that he would have been perfectly happy killing any other way, and the graphic novel was just something he chose for a theme. For good measure, the far-from-psychopathic Lucas is seen still reading Soul Slasher during the closing voiceover.
  • Non-Indicative Name: An antiques dealer known as "The Frenchman" is actually a Japanese woman.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Henry and Abe are discussing Abe's ex-wife:
      Henry Morgan: That woman has done nothing but hurt you, time after time.
      Abraham Morgan: Are you talking about the incident with the gun? She didn't know it was loaded.
    • In a flashback to 1929 Paris, a friend of Henry's who is hosting a party says she won't have him spoiling it by fighting with Hemingway "again."
  • Not My Driver: Henry's cab driver at the end of one episode turns out to be his stalker.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Adam believes Henry will eventually become a sociopath, like him.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Abe still hasn't gotten over Henry being tied up at work in 1956, missing Don Larson pitch the only perfect game in World Series history.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Thanks to his sheer breadth of experience, Henry is a talented forensic scientist on top of being a medical doctor and pathologist.
  • Opening Narration: Henry explains his immortality at the beginning of each of the first few episodes.
  • Plot-Driving Secret: Why can't Henry die? Who is the mysterious caller?
  • Psycho Psychologist: Henry's therapist in "Skinny Dipper" turns out to be one.
  • Reaction Shot: At the end of "The Fountain of Youth," Abe enlists Henry's help in trying out skateboarding down a half-pipe. As Abe goes down, the camera closes in on Henry's face as he's terrified of his son getting seriously injured, then relieved as Abe apparently is okay.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Henry is over 200 years old, but looks to be in his thirties. Adam is allegedly around 2000 years old, but he appears no worse for wear, either. In one episode, Henry finds proof that Adam really is that old: a blood sample of Adam's collected at a crime scene has antibodies to diseases that haven't been around for centuries.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: The episode "The King of Columbus Circle" sees waitress Lydia learn that the man she only recently learned was her long-lost biological father really was the deposed king of the distant country Urkesh, with the result that Lydia is technically the princess of Urkesh even if the royal family doesn't have any status these days.
  • Red Herring: The investigation of the Soul Slasher fan page leads to a teenager who is clearly sociopathic, and they spend most of the rest of the episode looking at him. However, it's not him: it's his father.
  • Rejected Apology: After Lucas screws up, causing a wealthy man to threaten the police department with a lawsuit, Henry takes the blame and offers a heartfelt gentlemanly apology, figuring that a gentleman would accept it and end the matter. Naturally, the businessman ignores his outstretched hand and states that he will still sue. Henry is extremely confused.
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat:
    • In the pilot, Martinez makes her Techno Wizard do this with footage of the train station in hopes of finding a killer. Instead, she finds Henry.
    • In "Diamonds Are Forever," she does this herself with footage of her late husband talking to her on the phone.
  • Right Behind Me: A slight twist—Detective Martinez describes Henry as weird and creepy while he's right behind her, slightly out of focus. Her colleagues try to warn her — silently, and Martinez does not speak the expected line. Henry clearly doesn't mind and informs her he's been called worse.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Henry put one together over the course of 1985 while trying to track down Abigail. Abe threw it all out to snap Henry out of his Heroic BSoD. Except, Abe didn't throw it out: he moved all the material to a storage locker to try to track down Abigail himself while keeping Henry from wallowing in self-pity.
  • Rule of Three: Henry leaves his pocket watch behind at the place of his "death" on three occasions by the end of the first season finale: in the pilot when he is killed in a subway crash, in the middle of the season when he drowns in Adam's hijacked taxi, and in the finale when he is shot beneath a subway terminal. Jo finds the watch and returns it to him with suspicion on all three occasions.
  • Runaway Train: The focus of the first episode. The story is kicked off with Henry dying in a subway crash, waking up again, and getting caught up in the police investigation.
  • Running Gag: Henry will figure out a lot about the person by examining the body and explain it to Jo, and Detective Hanson will often walk into the scene just after Henry has finished up his profiling and state the same thing, found through conventional police channels.
    Mike Hanson: ...Henry already figured this out, didn't he?
  • Samus Is a Girl: "The Frenchman" is a Japanese woman.
  • Secret-Keeper:
    • Abe is meant to be the one person who knows Henry's secret, though Abigail was another before and after she left Henry (to the point that she took the secret to her grave in 1985 to protect Henry from Adam).
    • Adam obviously knows the secret and acts to protect it, slitting the throat of an incapacitated and bleeding-out Henry so he disappears before Martinez finds him.
    • In "Social Engineering", Jill, a hacker and one-time murder suspect, traces Henry's credentials and finds that his work history and medical degree are faked, so she knows only that Henry has a secret, not what that secret is. At the end of the episode, when another hacker leaks Henry's fake credentials to Jo, Jill (whose life Henry saves even at the potential cost of his own career) falsifies a different background for Henry behind the original fake one.
    • Inverted with Henry's first wife, Nora. She originally had Henry put in an asylum for telling her he's immortal and trying to prove it to her. Late in her life, (as depicted in flashbacks in "Social Engineering"), she found Henry's picture in the newspaper and came to visit him, demanding that he share his secret with the world. When Henry refused, she tried to shoot him to prove her claims, only for his new Love Interest to jump in front of him. Nora was then taken to the asylum, where no one would believe her ramblings.
    • Abraham wants Henry to tell Jo, because he's getting old and he believes Henry needs to have at least one person he can share his secret with and trust fully or he'll become detached from humanity.
    • When Abe comes to Lucas for help, Lucas keeps the secret of Abe asking for employee records from a hospital in the search for his mother.
  • Secretly Wealthy: Jo believes Henry is doing the academic version of this after "Social Engineering." When a hacker nearly exposes Henry's faked credentials, another member of the group whose life Henry has saved creates a new, more detailed background for him as thanks, with the result that Jo believes that Henry, far from studying in the University of Guam, was actually first in his class at Oxford. Henry claims that Guam was a refresher course and he uses that degree on his paperwork to avoid appearing pretentious.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Abigail killed herself to stop Adam from finding Henry, but all she did was give Adam knowledge that there was another immortal and it only took him a mere 30 years to find Henry on his own, all while leaving Henry near catatonic from her disappearance.
  • Serial Killer: Adam is of the "thrill" Hedonistic variety: he has lived for so long that killing people is the only thing that offers any pleasure anymore. He tells Henry it gives him a rush like nothing else. Even his angst over his immortality is colored this way: he claims the worst part is feeling like time is no longer moving for him and not being able to feel like every minute could be his last.
  • Shadow Archetype: Adam is immortal like Henry, but has been around so long he's become a sociopath who believes he's Above Good and Evil.
  • Sherlock Scan: Henry's modus operandi. His assistant notes to Jo that Henry can sometimes tell what happened to a body before even cutting it open. But, as Henry notes in his voiceover, he's had plenty of time to practice. With his experience, it's fully possible Henry could rival Sherlock himself.
    • He usually does it more than Once per Episode, and several characters compare him to Sherlock Holmes, his assigned therapist remarking that he'd "heard about [Henry's] Sherlockian talents." Abe, in particular, lampshades it frequently.
    • When Henry is holed up in his basement after killing a man, the trope is Played for Laughs when he explains to Abe that his (non-invasive, thankfully) autopsy leads him to believe that no, the trap didn't kill the rat, the mouse fell from the bookcase and broke several bones, after which it crawled in agonizing pain—and stepped on the trap, but the fall is what killed it. Abe tells him to get back to work and stop "Sherlocking rats."
  • Ship Tease: It gradually builds up for Henry and Jo.
    • When Henry and Jo visit Iona Pain at her practice, she assumes they're a couple who are there for therapy. Jo corrects her.
    • When Henry finds Jo at the scene where she crashed a car, he's immensely relieved. The camera briefly cuts to a close-up of him taking her hand.
    • Henry and Jo are lying in bed together in a small apartmentnote  and turn to lie facing each other while talking softly.
    • When Henry and Jo are waiting in a hospital hallway and Jo is holding a baby, a passing nurse mistakes them as the baby's parents, to their embarrassment.
    • During the voice-over at the end of one episode, Henry looks over and his smile disappears when he sees Jo kissing her boyfriend. The voice-over ends with, "If we root ourselves too deeply in the past, we'll miss what's right in front of us," while on the screen Henry looks at Jo pensively.
    • Jo enters the antique store after calling off her trip to Paris and her relationship with her boyfriend, Isaac, and tells Henry that she realized she "didn't want to go to Paris... with Isaac." She's implying and clearly trying to work up the courage to say out loud that she does want to go with Henry, but Abe bursts in with important news for Henry and she leaves. In the next episode, she learns Henry took time off and expresses worry that it's because of her, and Lucas brings up the idea of them being a couple.
    • In the first season finale, Henry mentions in a conversation with Abe, "whatever feelings I may have for Jo." Later, when he thinks he's dying his final death, his last thoughts are equally split between Abigail and Jo.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Lieutenant Reece would like to see Henry and Molly get together.
    • Lucas is one for Henry/Jo.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of Henry's flashbacks in "Hitler on the Half-Shell" takes place in The Diogenes Club.
    • In "Skinny Dipper", when Henry deduces that the taxi driver was killed with a sword, Lucas makes a crack about Highlander. Henry, of course, has no idea what he's talking about.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Henry, annoyed with Adam taunting him about eventually becoming a sociopath, throws the cell phone they're communicating with into the river.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: A Villain of the Week is so dedicated to wiping out the entire formal royal bloodline of his country that he's willing to shoot an infant.
  • Sleeping Their Way to the Top: Melanie said that Jason accused her of this after she rejected his advances. She didn't, and that conversation never actually took place: Oliver paid her to take the fall for his death.
  • Small Steps Hero: Henry breaking this is what caused him to stop being a medical doctor. In the past he once chose to hide before he died rather than try to save a man who had been shot. After that, he truly believed he did not have the right to be a doctor.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Henry was around to see said phonies in their heyday. In the fifth episode, a flashback shows one of his friends trying (some fairly painful) electroshock therapy after being diagnosed with tuberculosis.
  • So Proud of You: To cap an emotional conversation, Lucas quotes John Milton to Henry. He then admits he looked it up in anticipation of their conversation because he wanted to sound smart.
    Henry Morgan: You are smart, Lucas. I'm proud of you.
  • Stalker Without a Crush: Adam the mysterious caller is excited to have finally found someone else with his "condition," and monitors Henry's activities. He also sends him gifts from Henry's past; e.g., writing a note on stationery from the hotel where Henry and a past lover from the 1940s once stayed, or directing him to and gifting him with the pistol that killed him.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Jo and Hanson are discussing a burned out car with their heads stuck in when suddenly Henry, who wasn't there 30 seconds ago, interjects.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Henry's Love Interest, a nurse, jumps in front of Henry to prevent him from being shot by his now old wife Nora, who was only trying to show Henry's "gift" to the world. Nora is taken away to the asylum (Laser-Guided Karma for doing the same to Henry years before), and Henry is left holding the dying body of his new love. Justified since the nurse didn't know about Henry's secret. Even if she did, she might have done the same thing anyway to help Henry do the good work.
  • Supernaturally Young Parent: Henry raised Abe, who is now physically twice as old as him. An old flame of Abe's even misinterprets his concern for Henry as that of a father for his son.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Henry gives a heartfelt, "I'm sorry," after Adam describes being torturously experimented on by Nazi scientists. As Abe points out when he hears about it, it shows that "he was a victim, too."
  • Tag Along Kid: Though not a kid, Henry's son Abraham sometimes sticks his nose where it doesn't belong.
  • Taking You with Me: The pilot's Villain of the Week has incapacitated Jo and fatally shot Henry. Before he can put the poison into the train station's air conditioning system, though, Henry uses the last of his strength to tackle him off of the roof. Naturally, both of them die, but ultimately it sticks a little less for one of them.
  • Technicolor Toxin: The poison featured in the pilot is a purple-blue color. Justified as it's aconite, which is derived from monkshood, a similarly colored flower.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Henry gets killed a lot at first.
  • They Would Cut You Up: One of Henry's fears when it comes to his immortality being discovered. In the pilot he says it has happened to him before. Adam had exactly this happen to him in Auschwitz when the Nazis discovered his condition.
  • Title In: To identify the time (and sometimes place) of Henry's flashbacks.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: Henry in "Skinny Dipper," courtesy of Adam.
  • Understanding Boyfriend: Abigail was an Understanding Wife. In a flashback, after Henry gets stabbed and she believes him dead, he sneaks into their apartment later that night to say goodbye to Abraham but gets caught by Abigail. He starts trying to explain the situation in some manner that won't simply lead to his return to the asylum—until Abigail embraces him, realizing and accepting his immortality and understanding how cursed he is and how isolated he must have been to hide his secret.
    Abigail: You poor man.
  • Villain of the Week: Although Adam is the recurring villain of the series, it's still a cop procedural, with weekly cases and criminals.
  • Visual Pun: Henry is an immortal man roughly 200 years of age who comes back from the dead through a body of water.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot:
    • In the episode "New York Kids," a man is given sour milk to induce vomiting. The camera does not shy away from the results.
    • In "King of Columbus Circle," Henry manually pumps a woman's stomach to rid her of radiation poisoning.
  • Waking Up Elsewhere: Whenever Henry dies, he wakes up in a nearby body of water.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Skinny Dipper" has Henry confirm Adam's immortality and finally encounter him face-to-face.
    • "The Night in Question" reveals why Abigail left: She'd found a lovely cottage upstate, and intended to have Henry move in with her there when she met Adam; she ultimately ended up committing suicide in the hopes of protecting Henry from him.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Jo spends the entire season finale with this view of Henry due to the fact he's keeping things from her and acting irresponsibly, and keeps putting himself and others in mortal danger.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: After two hundred years, Henry feels like he's ready to grow older and die naturally. Adam has lived for two thousand years and is supremely bored with life. He tells Henry that the worst part is no longer feeling like time is moving for him.
  • Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things: In-universe. In Episode 6, the writer of a cult graphic novel series admits he is mortally terrified of his fans, some of whom write disturbing things on his website—and one is a serial killer. This is very similar to Ioan Gruffudd's experience with fandom, particularly when a fan threatened his girlfriend's life on his website.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Villain of the Week in "The King of Columbus Circle" tries to kill Lydia's infant child.
  • You Are Not Alone:
    • Played far more darkly than usual in that the mysterious caller claims to be the same as Henry, unable to die, but he also implies that he's going to torment him about their curse. The caller also reveals that he is much, much older than Henry—he's roughly 2000 years old. The caller even calls himself Adam because the time has felt like an eternity.
    • Inverted in a flashback when Abigail tries to convince Adam that she doesn't know of any other immortals and he is, in fact, alone.
  • You're Insane!: Henry to his stalker multiple times. Also Nora to Henry when he tells her about his immortality.