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"It’s a long story."
— Henry Morgan (Arc Words)
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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, and is currently available on CW Seed, with deleted scenes and creator interviews on YouTube.

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


Tropes:

  • 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.
  • Accident, Not Murder: In "Look Before You Leap" Henry is presented with a man with an axe embedded in his skull, who'd been heard fighting with a neighbor minutes before his death. He proceeds to explain point by point how the man's death was accidental.
  • 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, at least about the pistol.
  • Affair Letters: In "The Art of Murder" Gloria Carlisle attempts to burn these, but a large fragment with the signature of her artist lover at the bottom survived for Henry to find.
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  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: This is how Adam says he died the first time, having been stabbed in the belly with a pugio while trying to stop the assassination of Julius Caesar.
  • The Alcoholic: As pointed out by Henry in the pilot, Jo has taken to drinking after the death of her husband. This improves greatly during the course of the series, as she finally begins to open up and let herself feel again.
  • All There in the Script:
    • The technician who reviews surveillance tapes in several episodes is named Anita in the script and closed captions.
    • In the script for the pilot, after the subway crash, when Henry realizes he's about to die, he actively removes his pocketwatch and tosses it away, so that it won't vanish when he does. Abe asks him about the watch afterwards, and assures Henry that they'll get the watch back eventually.
    • In Henry's lab, there is a tank with several jellyfish visible. According to the script, they are Turritopsis nutricula, known at the Immortal Jellyfish.
    Henry:When the only other living organism that shares your plight has neither a heart nor a brain, it can get a bit lonely...
  • 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 an embolism that disrupts the blood supply to a part of the brain resulting in Locked-In Syndrome. Adam's conscious mind is fully functioning but he can't move, speak, or communicate in any meaningful manner.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: Abe sees the person who gives him lost records from Auschwitz as this, since they let him discover for the first time who his parents were. Unfortunately, he isn't anonymous to Henry, who realizes it was Adam.
  • Another Story for Another Time: When Jo first sees the scar on Henry's chest at the end of "The Ecstasy of Agony" she asks Henry what it is. Henry, who has just been rescued from almost being tortured to death, tells her it's "a story for another time." He starts to tell her something in the bar later, but gets no further than telling her he was shot before they're interrupted and whatever explanation he was going to give is Left Hanging.
  • Artistic License: In "Look Before You Leap" everyone is asked to don white cotton gloves before going anywhere near a valuable codex. In reality, such gloves reduce dexterity and make it more likely a book will be torn or otherwise damaged. Any book that has survived for centuries has been handled by bare hands for most of that time. Researchers just wash their hands before handling such texts. Justified because the killer had to be wearing gloves to hide scratches made by the victim, without it drawing suspicion.
  • Artistic License – Law Enforcement:
    • In "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" a mysterious package is found on Hanson's desk, with blood leaking from it. Henry unties the bow to open it; proper forensic technique would call for cutting the ribbon away from the bow so as to preserve it. The type of knot and exactly how it was tied, as well as any hairs, fibers, or particulates caught up in the knot, could be important evidence.
    • Also in "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths," Henry seems to think that the original Jack the Ripper would have been able to recreate Mary Kelley's murder more precisely than a copycat. In reality only a copycat would have bothered to recreate an old murder so precisely; the original killer wouldn't have noted the exact location, length, and shape of everymark on the victim, they'd see a new murder as a new murder, likely showing the style of other scenes but not the exact details.
  • 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.
    • When Henry finds a suspect unconscious and barely breathing, suspecting an overdose, he mixes sour milk and baking soda, then pours it into the man's mouth to induce vomiting. Trouble is, a person who is unconscious is generally unable to swallow, or even to protect their airway by coughing. Sitting an unconscious person up and pouring any liquid into their mouth is a good way to drown them, and even if they survive, foreign substances getting in their lungs is a recipe for severe aspiration pneumonia. This is why it's recommended to put an unconscious person in the "recovery position" lying on their side, so that if they vomit or regurgitate, the fluids can drain out of their mouth instead of pooling inside and being inhaled as they would propped upright or lying on their back.
    • A killer tells Henry that he's punctured his lungs and "vena cava artery"; the vena cava, as the name indicates, is a vein, not an artery. Arteries are under much higher pressure, so damaging the equivalent artery, the aorta, would have led to bleeding out much more quickly. The medicine is correct that a large vein would fulfill the killer's goal of making his victim suffer longer, but the terminology should have been used correctly.
    • Adam's blood is described as containing antibodies to diseases that haven't even existed for centuries. So why would a forensic lab be testing for them? How would they even have a test for a disease that hasn't existed since long before such testing was invented? Sure, it's possible some kind of anthropological researcher might develop a test for a disease found in ancient mummies or bog-men, but why would a forensic lab run such a test on a modern-day suspect's sample, even assuming they knew the test existed?
  • Attack the Injury: In "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths," while struggling, Henry and the killer tumble down a flight of stairs, landing with a sickening crunch. After a few moments, the killer gets up again, but Henry is unable to move. The killer comments that it looks like Henry's back is broken, then places his boot on Henry's back and grinds down with significant weight. Henry emits an agonized groan but is unable to do anything else but move his eyes.
  • Auto Erotica:
    • In "New York Kids" the woman driving the car is engaged in kissing one of the men when she hits the victim.
    • When Hanson is baffled by BDSM activities in "The Ecstasy of Agony" Henry asks if he's never broken the speed limit, drunk alcohol to excess, or engaged with a partner of dubious sexual history. Hanson, the staid father of two and devoted family man and cop, replies that he's done all three at once! (Presumably back in the days when he was singer in a band that was good enough to play at the Trash Bar, a venue in the same class as CBGB's.)
  • 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.
  • Barefoot Loon: Aside from the obvious when the rest of him is bare too after resurrecting, Henry searches for a cell phone buried under a new playground's rubber surface by taking off his shoes and socks and walking around on the rubber, feeling for the telltale vibrations of the phone when Jo calls it. It does work.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • "Skinny Dipper" is the culmination of one by Adam. Knowing Henry will not willingly kill, Adam goes to elaborate lengths to convince Henry that a mental patient is Adam, and convinces the other man that he's passed on his immortality to him, then sends him to confront Henry in his home. He times it so that Abe is out, leading Henry to near-panic at the thought of what "Adam" might have done to him, but arrives home in the middle of the confrontation, putting Henry in immediate fear for his son's safety. Adam knows that if Henry thinks the man he is fighting is immortal, he'll be willing to kill him to get him out of the house and away from his son; Adam's ultimate goal is for Henry to kill a mortal, and Henry plays right into the plan.
    • Henry uses Adam's homicidal nature and inherent need to gloat to his advantage in the Season 1 Finale. Henry arranges to meet Adam to hand over his dagger. He clearly knows Adam will likely kill him, possibly for good, since Abe is stationed by the river waiting for Henry to emerge, but is acutely anxious about whether he will. He also anticipates that Adam will make sure he doesn't die instantly, giving him a chance to lure him closer to gasp out what may be his last words. Sure enough, Adam leans closer to hear what Henry has to say, giving him a chance to use a syringe (presumably brought for the purpose) to inject an air embolism into the vessels feeding Adam's brainstem, causing in effect a stroke that results in locked-in syndrome. Henry didn't know for certain he would survive the gambit, but clearly felt it would be worth it to neutralize Adam.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: In the pilot episode, Henry is chatting up a beautiful cello player when the subway train crashes. Afterwards, the car is full of dead and dying people, some more mangled than others, but the cellist is still beautiful, marred only by a tiny trickle of Blood from the Mouth.
  • Bedlam House: Henry was locked up in the fictional Charring Cross Asylum in 1815 after telling his wife he was immortal. One character refers to him going to "Bedlam" but both the wagon he's taken away in and later on-screen title cards establish the facility's name, so they were likely using the name as a generic for all asylums.
  • 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 mentions he was in London at the time, leading Henry to fear he might be Jack the Ripper, but Henry's estimate that Jack had a larger than average hand, combined with the later reveal of Adam's relatively slight stature, makes it unlikely.
    • 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 in "The Art of Murder."
  • Big Secret: The main secret is Henry's immortality.
    • In the 1950s, Henry let a man die when he might've been able to save him to keep others from discovering it.
    • Abe's biggest secret is that, shortly after being drafted into the Vietnam war, his squad was ambushed, and Abe panicked and just played possum until it was over. Three men on his squad died, and he's wondered ever since if they might have lived if he'd joined the fight.
    • 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. (There is a different black woman as Lieutenant in the pilot.)
  • Blackmail: In "Social Engineering" hacktivist Liz discovers Henry's records are fake, and demands he issue her a death certificate as part of leaving her current identity and creating a new one, or she'll reveal the forgeries to his colleagues. Henry ultimately refuses, but Liz is nearly killed before she gets the chance to reveal his secret. Later, another computer expert follows the same trail and threatens to not only expose him as a fraud, but make sure his face is all over the internet, making it extremely difficult to ever start a new life, unless he lets Liz die. Henry again chooses to do what's right. Liz sets him up with much better-faked records so his secret is safe.
  • Blood from the Mouth: In the pilot episode, after the subway crash the young cello player Henry had been chatting up is lying nearby, still in one beautiful piece but with a little trickle of blood from the corner of her mouth and her eyes open and lifeless.
  • Body of the Week: Dr. Morgan is a Medical Examiner, and Detective Martinez works Homicide, so there's usually at least one dead body, sometimes several.
  • Bondage Is Bad: A Zig-Zagged Trope; a morally decent woman who works as a domination therapist is framed for a murder, but she is ultimately proven innocent, having been using the practice as successful therapy for the victim when all other therapies had failed. However, it's played straight by the perpetrator, who used a distorted, twisted version of BDSM practices to torture and kill the victim in question and later to torture Henry.
  • Bookends: In the pilot, Henry's anonymous caller tells Henry, "We're soul mates, Henry. We have eternity together. Might as well have some fun with it." At the end of the season, after Henry has induced locked-in syndrome in Adam, he quietly tells him, "Don't worry, we'll find a way out of this. We've got eternity together."
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: When Abe asks Lucas for help finding records of his mother, and tells him that she'd had several names, his response to Lucas's questions is his dad's usual, "It's a long story."
  • Brains and Bondage: Henry, a highly educated and sophisticated doctor, and Molly, with a PhD from Yale, are the two most prominently kinky characters in the series.
  • Bullet Holes and Revelations: When the bad guy of the week in the pilot is holding Henry at gunpoint, Henry hits him with a wrench and they struggle over the gun. There's a loud bang as the gun goes off, and close-ups of equally surprised looks on both men's faces, before Henry slowly sinks to the ground.
  • 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.
  • Burial at Sea: Henry's fate after he's shot by the captain of the Empress of Africa because he refused to step aside and let an African man be murdered.
  • Burner Phones: Adam uses one to call Henry in "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths", then leaves it at the scene before Henry can find him. Abe identifies it as a burner, thus untraceable. Henry carries it with him and Adam calls him on it several times, but at the end of the episode Henry doesn't want to talk to Adam any more and throws it into the river. Averted most of the time, as Adam's favorite place to call Henry from seems to be a pay phone just outside the antique store, where he can watch Henry's reactions inside through the windows.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker: Implied in the pilot when Jo is introduced leaving a one night stand in the morning and Henry diagnoses her as hung over shortly after.
  • Call-Back: It's revealed in "Hitler On the Half-Shell" 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.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: When Henry learns that the Morgan shipping empire has been engaged in the slave trade, he confronts his father, who had always taught Henry that slavery was evil and shameful. He breaks ties with his father, refusing to take anything that came from the profits made on the deaths and suffering of so many human beings, and makes plans to move himself and his wife to the colonies to get away from his family completely, calling him out by his actions as well as his words.
  • Can Only Move the Eyes:
    • At the end of "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths," Henry has been stabbed and is bleeding out internally, fallen down the stairs and broken his back/neck, and is going into shock. He can't move; even when the killer grinds his foot into Henry's broken back, only an involuntary grunting moan results. When Adam appears, Henry's eyes try to find him, but he can't move his head at all.
    • Adam's fate in "The Last Death of Henry Morgan" after Henry induces Locked-In Syndrome by injecting air into his brainstem. It's not even clear if he has any control over his eyes; victims of Complete Locked-In Syndrome don't.
  • 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.
  • Car Cushion: In the pilot, Henry, wounded and lacking options, hurtles himself and the villain off the roof of Grand Central Station. Henry lands directly on a car, the villain on the pavement next to it.
  • Car Hood Sliding: After his briefcase is stolen and he gives chase, the victim of the week in "Fountain Of Youth" gets soot on his hand and pants leg doing this over a taxi that almost hit them. Henry figures out exactly where the soot was from.
  • Carpe Diem: All too aware his own life is short compared to his immortal father, Abe actively tries to live his life this way, from twice marrying a woman whose passions are sometimes violent (including towards him) to trying half-pipe skateboarding for the first time at age 69. He frequently urges Henry to do the same.
  • Casual Kink: After Henry's home is searched in the pilot and Jo describes several items as torture devices, Henry matter-of-factly states that "all those are for sex."
  • 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 his body disappearing.
  • Chalk Outline: In "The Art of Murder" Henry refuses to visit the museum when the body of Gloria Carlyle is first investigated. When Jo pushes him into going there later, there is a taped outline on the floor of the gallery where she was found.
  • Christianity is Catholic: When Henry is transferred from the asylum to Southwark prison, his cellmate is a priest (in prison for sleeping with the magistrate's wife). When Henry tell him he'd never believe his story, the priest replies that he's Catholic, and "we believe even when we know we're wrong!"
  • Circling Vultures: In "Best Foot Forward," after a dancer is kidnapped and they track down the hotel room where her foot was amputated, Henry spotting seagulls circling a spot on the shore is how they find where she was dumped, in this case before she becomes a corpse.
  • 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.
    • At the end of "Best Foot Forward" one cliffhanger interrupts another. Jo has just told Henry she called off her trip to Paris with Isaac because she realized she didn't want to go with Isaac, but before she can really answer his question about why, Abraham interrupts, leaving the relationship hanging — in order to tell Henry "I found Mom."
  • Constructive Body Disposal: Played with. A victim's cell phone is buried under a newly constructed playground, but his actual body isn't.
  • Cool Teacher: Molly Dawes is a Dominatrix with a PhD from Yale who teaches college classes on kink and alternate sexuality. She was happy to chat with a student who said she was considering changing majors.
  • 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.
  • Cowboy Cop: Henry, while not a cop per se, definitely fulfills this role. Occasionally others join in, such as Jo asking Henry if he smells something burning outside a building they want to enter, or Lieutenant Reese saying no one with a badge is allowed to interrogate a suspect, then pointedly telling Henry she realizes she has no authority over O. C. M. E. personnel.
  • Creepy Stalker Van: After Molly kisses Henry in front of the police station, her stalker pulls up next to Henry in a brown van with no plates and subdues him with a cattle prod before stuffing him in the back of the van and driving away.
  • Criminal Mind Games: A human heart is left on Hanson's desk in "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" and the killer leaves a clue as to his next crime at each crime scene (A black dahlia is left at his Jack the Ripper homage, and a piece of stocking left at the Black Dahlia scene hints he's going for a Boston Strangler next.)
  • 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 on it.
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Invoked in "Look Before You Leap" — the suspect has a reaction to the cuffs due to a skin condition, hence rubbing his wrists more than he would otherwise.
  • 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: Often literal with the "dead" part.
    • 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?
  • Death-Activated Superpower: Henry seems to have been a normal man, aging normally, until his first death trying to save the life of an African man taken by the slave traders on The Empress of Africa. After being shot and thrown overboard, Henry no longer ages and every time he dies, his body disappears and he reappears in perfect health in the nearest large body of water.
  • Death by Ambulance: In "Social Engineering," after her misdeeds are discovered, a computer expert commits suicide by stepping into the path of an arriving ambulance outside the hospital her victim was just saved in.
  • Detective Mole: Detective Dunn in "Diamonds Are Forever."
  • Deus ex Machina: In "The Pugilist Break" Henry is chasing a suspect who suddenly stops, turns around, and aims his gun directly at Henry, who is emerging from a building at high speed and has no chance to slow down enough to duck or dodge to avoid getting shot, in a very public place with fellow cops coming quickly behind him. Just as the suspect is about to open fire and kill Henry, a truck hits him.
  • Deuteragonist: Henry is clearly the protagonist, but Jo Martinez is his equal in the policing that makes up the majority of the series.
  • Dies Wide Open: Many times, the first in the pilot after the subway crash when the pretty cello player's body is lying nearby, and most of the times Henry himself dies follow this trope. A plot point in "Hitler On the Half Shell" when the killer's fingerprints are found on the victim's eyelids because he closed them after death.
  • Disability Alibi: Henry determines that the victim couldn't have committed a jewelry store robbery because he had a shoulder injury which would have made it impossible for him to smash an overhead security camera.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: In "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" the killer imitates Jack the Ripper by killing a prostitute named Mary Kelly. Discussed when Henry points out that prostitutes have always been easy targets for killers.
  • Distressed Dude:
    • Henry is taken hostage by the killer in "Look Before You Leap" with a blade held to his throat, with the extra stress of security cameras that will record him vanishing if he dies. Jo ends up shooting the killer.
    • In "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" Henry is stabbed fatally, then when he tries to fight off the killer anyway he's thrown against a wall, moving the knife still embedded in his back, then tumbles down a flight of stairs, breaking his neck and leaving him unable to move. This time, it's Adam who comes to his rescue, sort of.
    • Henry gets shot in "New York Kids," leaving Jo to chase after the suspect.
    • Henry is kidnapped and tortured in "The Ecstasy of Agony," shackled to a Saint Andrew's Cross, choked repeatedly, then electrocuted. Jo, Hanson, and several other cops come to the rescue, distracting the killer enough for Henry to grab ahold of him with a free hand, thus sending the electric current through him as well, causing him to collapse and drop the cable he was trying to kill Henry with.
    • Adam traps Henry in the back of an out-of-control taxi which then sinks into the Hudson with Henry still inside in "Skinny Dipper." Henry leaves some horrific scratch marks on the inside of the taxi in his desperate attempts to escape.
  • Does Not Drive: Henry hasn't driven in decades, relying on a bicycle, taxis, or rides from Abraham or colleagues. A reason is never given on-screen.
  • Dramatic Curtain Toss: In "Hitler On the Half-Shell" a sheet is pulled off to reveal an original Monet "Water Lilies" painting, returned to its rightful owner by the son of a Nazi art thief.
  • 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.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Invoked by Adam when he kills a taxi driver, steals his cab, and picks up Henry in it. He's rigged the doors to lock and seals the barrier between himself and the back seat, trapping Henry there, and then proceeds to drive like a maniac to freak Henry out, before finally shooting himself in the head, vanishing and thus proving he's immortal, and leaving Henry trapped in a cab that's hurtling down a pier and over the side at high speed.
    Henry: Just slow down! Someone's going to get killed!
    Adam: That's the idea.
  • 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.
    • In the pilot, Henry's basement lab is reached through a trap door in the floor of the shop. In later episodes, characters enter the lab by coming down what appears to be an ordinary staircase with light coming from a doorway at the top and no sign of anyone closing a trap door as they enter, and the hidden entrance is never seen or referred to again.
  • Electric Torture: Inflicted on Henry by Iona Payne's stalker in "The Ecstasy of Agony."
  • End-of-Episode Silliness: In a deleted scene at the end of the pilot, as Henry and Jo get into her car to head for the next crime scene, Henry asks if they can have the sirens on. Jo gives him an exasperated/amused look and asks Henry how old he is, but she does indeed turn on the sirens as they pull away, Henry grinning like a boy.
  • Entitled to Have You: Of the what they do type. In "Punk Is Dead" a man 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.
    • In "Punk Is Dead" Lucas declares "It's my turn for the 'ah-hah!' moment!" when he realizes a large nail may have caused the wound in Lucy's skull.
  • 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.
  • Evidence Scavenger Hunt: Jo and Henry hunt for Iona Payne's client list/appointment book in "The Ecstasy of Agony." As they have a general warrant, Jo takes the opportunity to snoop through the BDSM gear.
  • 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.
  • Exposition of Immortality: Henry does a voice-over that first introduces the fact that he's immortal. His stalker sends him a picture of he and his wife taken in 1955, as well as a letter on paper from a hotel in Italy they stayed at in 1945; he comes to the shop with a tea tray that belonged to Henry's father and bears the family crest, so that he can meet Abraham; and he shows Henry that the gun that killed him is among the artifacts recovered from a sunken ship, later arranging for it to be sent to him. Henry cleans up the gun well enough for it to be fired again and puts it on display. The whole antique store is started as a way to clear out Henry's accumulated possessions, as Abe feels his father is becoming a hoarder. Henry also frequently refers to New York or world history in much greater detail than most people could share, and he has flashbacks to a B-plot every episode.
  • Exposition Victim: Henry has a bad habit of confronting killers as soon as he's figured out their crime, instead of waiting for backup or even telling anyone else what he's realized. It sometimes gets him killed.
  • 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 not quite as amazingly stunning. 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, with different images of Henry breaking the water's surface (clutching his throat after it was slit, or with a background of a historical Manhattan skyline instead of a modern one when he resurrects during a flashback).
    • He also has flashbacks nearly every episode triggered by present-day dialogue or the events of his current case.
  • Flashback B-Plot: The usual pattern for each episode.
  • Forensic Accounting: Jo points out to a woman preparing to take the fall for her boss that if she's getting paid to do it, forensic accountants will be able to prove it, so she'll spend a decade or more in jail and have nothing to show for it.
  • Fountain of Youth: In episode 3, "Fountain of Youth," 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.
    • Adam knows about the Jack the Ripoff murder in "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" before word has gotten out to the press. But someone working closely with the police, who has clearance to hear about cases in progress, would have a chance to hear about a case that a lot of cops were talking about.
    • 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 shocked 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.
  • Fresh Clue: In "The Last Death of Henry Morgan," Henry finds that a body is still warm and the blood still wet, meaning the victim was killed very recently and the killer likely still close. While the cops spread out to look for the killer, Henry discovers the victim isn't actually dead yet, although Adam is certain it's too late to save him.
  • Gasp of Life: Given that Henry revives in a large body of water, gasping for air as he breaks the surface is the usual.
  • 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.
  • Gentleman Detective: While working with Jo, Henry often fills this role. Especially appropriate since Henry was a gentleman, in the days when that still meant something.
  • Get It Over With: When Henry is kidnapped in "The Ecstasy of Agony" and wakes up chained to a Saint Andrew's Cross, he politely asks his captor to kill him quickly. The request is denied, as he's looking forward to torturing Henry and wants to enjoy it.
  • 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 Old Fisticuffs: Henry engages in a rare bout of this in the flashback of "The Last Death of Henry Morgan" when he finds out Abigail had been physically abused by another soldier. Despite the other man being over a head taller, Henry seems to be holding his own until the other man pulls a switchblade and stabs Henry, leading to him dying in Abigail's arms.
  • Good Samaritan: In the flashbacks for "New York Kids," Henry tries to help a man who's been shot, only to be shot himself since he's now a witness.
  • 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.
  • Gratuitous Greek: The professor in "Look Before You Leap" tosses around ancient greek repeatedly, and Henry proves he's equally fluent, spotting an ungrammatical error in a Greek quote in a supposed suicide note which was written by one of the professor's grad students who presumably had been studying Ancient Greek. Justified in that, in the era Henry was first educated, learning Greek and Latin was considered a basic skill for the wealthy who could afford a real education.
  • Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks:
    • The killer in the pilot has a home lab in his garage with numerous flasks and beakers with bright purple residue from the aconite plants.
    • Henry's own home lab is mostly an aversion, as his flasks and beakers are visible tucked away in a cabinet. He does have lots of other common laboratory cliches, such as anatomy posters and various once-living things in jars.
  • 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.
  • Gun Struggle: In the pilot, when Henry confronts the bad guy on the roof of Grand Central, Henry hits him with a wrench, and a struggle for the gun ensues. There's a shot, and each man is shown with a look of surprise consistent with being hit, before Henry slowly collapses to the ground.
  • 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.
  • Heal It With Fire: In the pilot, a suspect throws poison on Jo's hand. Henry neutralizes it by squirting ethanol over the area, then setting it on fire and not letting her put it out for several seconds.
  • He Had a Name: Hanson dismisses the victim in "The Pugilist Break" as "ADJ" (Another Dead Junkie), but Henry insists that the man had a name, that he mattered to someone. When they learn the man's name, Henry lampshades it.
  • 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:
    • When Henry and Abigail meet, they can barely keep their eyes off each other, especially Henry. They share many other held gazes through their many years together.
    • 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 BSoD: After being tricked into killing a man because he thought he was his immortal stalker and thus wouldn't really die, Henry is practically catatonic, until the phone rings...
  • 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.
  • Hideous Hangover Cure: In "Diamonds Are Forever" Jo goes on a drinking binge after having to work on a case relating to her late husband. She wakes up on the couch at Henry and Abe's place, with Abe standing by with his patented hangover cure, which is described as "awful" but apparently works.
  • High-Voltage Death: In "The Ecstasy of Agony" the victim was killed by electrocution, in this case a steady current that prevented the muscles of his diaphragm from working so that he suffocated. The killer attempts to electrocute Henry in the finale, but Henry manages to grab ahold of the killer's arm so that the current passes through him, too, disabling him long enough for the cops to move in.
  • 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.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The episode "Skinny Dipper" relentlessly reminds us it's the Christmas episode, from caroles playing while a cabbie is skewered with a sword to a car passing by with a Christmas tree tied on top as Henry suffers a Heroic BSoD from all the trauma he's gone through in the episode.
  • Human Resources: "Fountain of Youth" sees a dozen bodies stolen so their pituitary glands could be used in an anti-aging treatment.
  • Human Shield: At the end of "Look Before You Leap" the killer takes Henry hostage with a scalpel blade over his carotid artery. Jo and Hanson pin him down and it's Henry who suggests they Shoot the Hostage (in the shoulder, at a range where the bullet would likely pass through into the hostage-taker as well).
  • Hurting Hero: Henry has lost almost everyone he's ever loved, and knows that anyone left, he'll lose eventually. He's still badly scarred by both Nora's betrayal and Abigail's disappearance. Various tortures that have resulted from his secret being discovered leave him almost pathologically unable to confide in anyone. At the start of the series, Henry is trying hard not to be the hero, but he's too good a person to stand by and let evil go unchallenged. After the extra-traumatic episode "Skinny Dipper" he's hurting even worse, at times seeming to no longer care if he dies in front of someone, exposing his secret. By the end of the season, Adam's manipulations have Henry so afraid of others getting hurt, yet so unable to confide in them, that his trying to act the hero in his own nearly destroys his relationship with Jo.
  • I am a Humanitarian: Several people unknowingly (and one knowingly) in "Fountain of Youth". 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.
  • Identifying the Body: Henry works as a Medical Examiner, so this happens several times. As in real life, it's normally done by photographs rather than seeing the actual body.
    • In "Look Before You Leap" the victim's parents barge into an area they aren't supposed to enter and wind up seeing their daughter's body directly.
    • In the flashback for "Punk Is Dead" Henry and Abe go to identify a body believed to be Abigail's. It isn't.
  • 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 Henry is now. Like Henry, the event that caused his first death was attempting to protect someone, in Adam's case trying to save 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. Adam targets Henry simply because 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.
  • Immortal Breaker: Adam reasons that the weapons that caused an immortal's first death can serve as this if they are used to kill the immortal again. Subverted: Henry revives despite being shot with the gun that killed him the first time; Word Of God says that Adam was just mistaken.
  • Immortal Genius: Henry has vast stores of knowledge about history, medicine, forensics, and much more.
  • Immortality: The only truly fantastical element in the show, although Henry and Adam's immortality follows certain rules:
    • Resurrective Immortality/Resurrection Teleportation: 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.
    • When Mark Bentley stabs Henry in the back as he's leaving the Frenchman's in "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths," you can see the tip of the blade emerge from the front of Henry's abdomen; his hand is over it when Bentley twists the blade to speed Henry's death.
    • Adam runs a taxi driver through with a katana in "Skinny Dipper" as part of his plan to frame Henry.
  • Inconspicuous Immortal: Henry tends to live a quiet life, working as a doctor until recently, and shies away from publicity (such as the newspaper article that led to Nora finding him again). If someone from his past recognizes him, he is quick to flee, be it to another part of New York or to another continent. While they are together as a family, Abigail and Abraham willingly move with him.
  • 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 is dying 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.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison:
    • In "The Man In the Killer Suit", 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 from Oklahoma, 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 name and job). 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 Jo's 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.
  • 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 more than a few bars.
  • In It for Life: Henry's commitment to both Abigail and Abraham. Henry was ready to stay with Abigail no matter how much older than him she grew to look, and Abigail eventually realized she felt the same, finding an out-of-the-way cottage where they could have spent her last days together. Henry is still just as devoted to Abraham as when he was a child, and clearly will be to his death.
    Abigail: What could be simpler than making an impulsive commitment for the rest of your life?
  • Instant Death Stab: When Adam kills cabbie Raj Patel in "Skinny Dipper" by thrusting a sword straight through the back of his seat, through his heart and out his sternum, Raj barely has time to look a little surprised before he's dead.
  • Internal Affairs: This is who Lieutenant Reese calls in to handle things when Jo has to arrest a small-town sheriff for murder in "The Night In Question."
  • In the Back:
    • In the pilot, the killer shoots Jo in the back, possibly having watched and waited for her to turn.
    • In "Skinny Dipper" Adam stabs cabbie Raj Patel in the back, through the seat between them.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Henry gives a suspect with kidney disease a drink heavily laced with magnesium antacid in order to simulate 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, with the implication he could be the Ripper. (On second viewing, Henry's own observation that Jack left the impression of a large hand on his victim's throat should rule out the relatively slight Adam, but Henry had not yet met him in person at this point.)
  • Jack the Ripoff: The killer in "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" performs heavily researched recreations (though in truth he just used a well-researched graphic novel 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.
  • Karaoke Bonding Scene: The gang go out to a karaoke bar together at the end of "Punk Is Dead." Hanson, who has been telling them all episode that he used to be in a band that played at the landmark punk bar of the story, kills it, to everyone's delight.
  • 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. Adam appears, and tells Henry he's doing him a favor before slitting his throat, killing him near-instantly before Jo gets that far in her search. Henry deduces by the cut to the throat that "Adam" has killed people in this manner before.
  • Killer Cop: Detective Dunn in "Diamonds Are Forever" murders his partner in crime, and almost murders Jo.
  • The Killer Was Left-Handed:
    • One of several clues about the supposed suicide of the professor in "Look Before You Leap" is that the person who wrote his suicide note was a lefty.
    • Inverted in "Diamonds Are Forever" — the person framed for a jewelry store robbery is left-handed, so the person who committed the crime broke the display case glass with his left hand, but he had obvious difficulty breaking the glass because it wasn't his dominant hand.
  • Killing in Self-Defense:
    • When Jo is confronted by a serial killer in "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" and he tries to draw a gun on her, she shoots him in the chest four times, taking him down.
    • Played with in Henry's case in "Skinny Dipper". Henry has been stalked by another immortal, Adam, since the start of the series. Adam has killed himself in front of Henry, proving he is also immortal, and has just killed two people and tried to frame Henry for their murders. The evidence shows that the stalker's real identity is Clark Walker, a psych patient who just escaped them at Bellevue. Henry arrives home to find his son nowhere to be found and Clark Walker waiting for him. Henry refuses to fight him, until he hears his son coming home upstairs, at which point a desperate struggle ensues. Henry ends up stabbing Walker with a letter opener, killing him, but when Walker fails to vanish upon death Henry realizes, to his horror, that the other man isn't Adam, isn't immortal, and is actually dead. Henry would never have killed, even in self defense, if Adam hadn't manipulated him so thoroughly.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Various characters compare Henry to Sherlock Holmes.
  • The Lancer:
    • Abe is this to Henry for most of his life. He brings a mortal perspective and a love of getting involved with other people, versus Henry's immortal POV and reluctance to risk getting hurt emotionally.
    • Within OCME Lucas plays this role to Henry. His youth, enthusiasm, and pop-culture-laden modernity contrast Henry's vast experience and general cluelessness about TV, movies, and graphic novels.
    • Hanson serves as Jo's lancer, her actual official partner who always has her back and puts up with Henry's antics for her sake.
  • 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 sees his picture in the paper, realizes he was telling her the truth, and tries to convince him to share his secret, but he refuses. When 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.
  • Lawman Gone Bad: A former cop who now works as a P. I. illegally bugs Iona Payne's therapy office in "The Ecstasy of Agony," using a bug he stole from the police department in the first place.
  • 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. "The Man In the Killer Suit" 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 domination 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 "Look Before You Leap," while investigating the death of an apparent 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.
  • Made of Iron: Henry is injured just as easily as anyone else, and only heals naturally or when he dies and vanishes, but he occasionally pushes through injuries that should have been incapacitating.
    • In the pilot, after getting shot, Jo is left barely conscious. Henry gets shot, and is able to not only get up, but charge the killer and send them both over the edge of the building hard enough to break a railing doing so.
    • In "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" Henry is stabbed from behind by the killer, puncturing his lung and vena cava, and he's left on the front steps with the blade still going all the way through him, bleeding to death internally. Henry can't reach the hilt enough to remove the blade, but he struggles to his feet and staggers inside and down a hallway to attack the killer, who is in the middle of strangling the Frenchman. In the ensuing struggle, Henry is thrown back against a cabinet, then flung sideways across a door such that the doorframe slams into the hilt sideways, presumably swinging the blade through his abdomen even further, but even that doesn't stop Henry. Only when they both tumble down a flight of stairs is Henry taken out of the action, by a broken neck.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Henry's basement lab resembles one, and Jo even refers to it as such after searching it.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Probably no more guilty of this than any other cop show.
  • 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 felt she deserved someone her own age and wanted her to be happy.
  • Mayfly–December Friendship: Henry and Abe, the former adopting 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 Abigail, whom he met in the 1940s and shared a life with for forty years, until she worried she had grown too old for him.
  • Men Are Childish: At the end of the pilot, in a deleted scene, Henry asks Jo as they get into her police car if they can turn on the sirens. She gives him an amused/indulgent/exasperated look and asks Henry how old he is.
  • 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.
  • Mess of Woe: After Abigail leaves Henry, Abe finds him in an apartment filled with old newspapers and other debris, simple necessities like cleaning and picking up after himself clearly having gone by the wayside while Henry has been trying to track down Abigail.
  • Moment Killer: At tthe end of "Best Foot Forward," 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 enslaved people 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 African men inside, 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.
  • My Life Flashed Before My Eyes: Happens to Henry every time he dies. An especially long one when Adam shoots him with the flintlock that originally killed him, which Adam had theorized might kill him permanently.
  • Mysterious Stranger: Adam, Henry's anonymous caller, is treated this way for half the series. He's only shown from behind, or just his feet and the bottom of his coat, or a gloved hand. The audience sees who he is for the first time at the same time Henry does.
  • Mystery of the Week: This being a cop show, there's generally a homicide to solve every week.
  • 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.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: From "Diamonds Are Forever" — Part of what's made losing her husband hard for Jo is that they'd had a fight the night before he left for the trip he died on, so she left early that morning to avoid having to apologize. She never said goodbye, and the last words she said to him were in anger. Henry reassures her that they were in love, and her husband would have known she didn't mean it.
  • Never Suicide: Twice over in "Look Before You Leap," first with a girl who climbed over the railing of a bridge and then fell to her death, then with her mentor and lover accused of killing her.
  • 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 the mother of a teenaged suspect to be the cause of his interest in, and suspected committing 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. Hanson zig-zags the trope; he doesn't think the comic causes violent behavior, he just thinks a person would have to already be sick and twisted to want to read it. For good measure, the far-from-psychopathic Lucas is seen still reading Soul Slasher during the closing voiceover.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Skinny Dipper," when they learn their suspect has just signed out, Jo tells the desk to lock the facility down, even hitting the button to do so herself. The suspect reaches the doors just as they're closing, and manages to squeeze out, leaving Henry and Jo trapped inside and unable to pursue him.
  • No Badge? No Problem!: Henry isn't a cop, has no badge, and has little authority outside the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, but he nevertheless accompanies Jo to interview (potentially dangerous) witnesses and when doing things like searching Grand Central for a potential mass murderer.
  • No Body Left Behind: This is how Henry's deaths work. His body, including everything he's wearing or carrying on him, disappears. We never see this happen directly on-screen, the closest being when a priest helps Henry commit suicide in jail; we see the shadow on the wall of Henry's body swinging in the noose, then there's a bright light, and then the shadow of the noose, now swinging empty. We also see Abigail holding Henry as he dies, then immediately after his rebirth in the river we see her still kneeling in the street, her hands empty with no sign of any blood on them or her clothes, looking around in confusion.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: At the start of "Fountain of Youth" a kid tries to steal the briefcase of a man in his sixties. To his surprise, the man chases him down and starts delivering one of these.
  • 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."
    • A couple of dark examples. In the pilot, Henry says in the past when someone found out about his secret, "I've had every ounce of my blood drained, my organs dissected in the name of science, I've been hanged for heresy!" And in "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" Henry says, about telling anyone about Adam, "I've had my share of padded white rooms," a descriotion which does not match the stone walls and chains of the only stay in an asylum we've seen so far.
  • No "Police" Option: Despite working closely with the police every day, when Henry is faced with an immortal stalker he feels he can't go to the police without putting his own secret at risk, or being thought insane if he were to tell them.
  • Not Afraid to Die: When Adam threatens Henry with the gun that originally killed him, which Adam believes is the only thing that could kill him for good, Henry angrily tells him he's not afraid to die. Adam tells Henry the thing Henry fears isn't death, but exposure.
  • 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.
  • Official Couple: Henry and Abigail in the past. Henry and Jo are clearly headed that way for most of the series, but Henry's secrets keep getting in the way.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Abe still hasn't gotten over Henry being tied up at work in 1956, causing him to miss Don Larson pitching the only perfect game in World Series history.
  • The Older Immortal: Henry is 235 years old, while Adam has been around for over 2,000 years, having died for the first time March 15, 44 BCE, trying to prevent the assassination of Julius Caesar.
  • Old People Are Nonsexual: Gleefully averted in "The Ecstasy of Agony" with Abraham and his twice-over ex Maureen Delacroix. They agree they're just getting better together with age.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Thanks to his sheer breadth of experience, Henry is a talented forensic scientist on top of being a medical doctor and pathologist.
  • Ominously Open Door: In "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" Henry has been stabbed outside the Frenchman's home, but painfully makes his way inside to try to save her from the killer of the week. When Jo arrives, she sees the front door hanging open, which she finds ominous enough to draw her gun before entering.
  • On a Scale from One to Ten: Henry has a book in the pilot where he records his deaths, including rating pain levels on a scale from one to ten. Getting impaled through the chest by a broken handrail in a subway crash was rated a seven.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: A repeat offender.
    • In the pilot, Jo is hit in the shoulder. She's out of commission and wakes up in the hospital, but when we next see her she's got a little gauze visible taped to her chest and is otherwise fine, using that arm pretty normally and apparently back to full duty investigating another murder.
    • In "New York Kids" Henry is shot in the upper arm, likely through the bicep, and within minutes he's caught up to Jo in her confrontation with the shooter, and aside from holding the spot with his other hand, he's quite coherent and active. He's seen later with his arm in a sling but otherwise seems fine, and he's using his hand pretty normally by the end of the episode. A bit more justified since he's had a lot of experience with painful injuries.
    • Less egregious in "Diamonds Are Forever" when Hanson is shot in the upper arm. (Henry complains about it being described by the inexact term "flesh wound.") Hanson is in a lot of pain, not just at the time but later in the episode too, and his arm is in a sling for a good while and he's shown having difficulty with simple everyday tasks like putting on his coat (although still only for that episode).
  • Opening Narration: Henry explains his immortality at the beginning of each of the first few episodes.
  • Papa Wolf: Henry is not at all interested in fighting his stalker when he appears in the basement lab with a sword, but when he hears his son Abraham coming home upstairs, Henry fights tooth and nail (and letter opener) to keep the killer away from him.
  • Parents Walk In at the Worst Time: Deliberately averted in-universe by Henry when he starts to enter the living quarters he shares with Abraham above the antique store, but discovers his son Abe and Abe's ex Maureen dancing romantically. Grinning, he turns around and quietly leaves them to it.
  • Parting-Words Regret: The night before Jo's husband Sean left for the trip he died on, he and Jo had a huge fight, and Jo left early the next day so she wouldn't have to apologize.
    Jo: The last words I said to my husband were in anger.
  • Perfect Health: Played with. When Henry reappears after dying, he's in perfect health, but not only can he still catch communicable diseases, he's apparently already caught most of them; Adam's blood contained antibodies to diseases that don't even exist anymore. We never see communicable illness happen onscreen, though, for immortals or mortals, so the trope is so far played straight.
  • Personal Effects Reveal: Played with. When Henry and Abe finally learn where Abigail went after she left them, her landlady had kept a box of stuff "Sylvia" left behind when she disappeared. They take the box hone, but there's nothing but everyday junk inside. Then, Henry finds a letter tucked into a ratty old poetry book, which Abigail never got the chance to send, asking Henry to come join her, so they can spend the rest of Abigail's life together.
  • Playing with Syringes: Henry has had some bad experiences in the past when people found out about his immortality. Adam had even worse, being experimented on by the Nazis.
    Henry: I've had every ounce of my blood drained, my organs dissected in the name of science!
  • Plot-Driving Secret: Why can't Henry die? Who is the mysterious caller?
  • Power Dynamics Kink: Henry is clearly into it when Iona takes command, stripping off clothing and ordering him to give her his hands to be put into cuffs.
    Henry: Suppose I'm afraid to relinquish control?
    Iona: I think you're afraid of a great many things, Doctor. That's not one of them.
  • Powerful People Are Subs: Invoked in-universe with the victim in "The Ecstasy of Agony." The victim was a high-powered executive in a job where any weakness will be exploited. In his private life, he went to a domination therapist where he could let go and let someone else be in charge.
  • Primal Fear: In "Skinny Dipper", when Henry is trapped in a sinking car, he fights just as desperately to get out as anyone who isn't immortal would. Henry still fears death, and still fights to survive.
  • Prison Rape: Jo basically threatens a suspect with this in "The Wolves of Deep Brooklyn" to get him to cooperate.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Henry's therapist in "Skinny Dipper" turns out to be one.
  • Punk in the Trunk: In "Best Foot Forward" a ballerina's foot is taken off and she's transported in the trunk of a car, making an improvised tourniquet from the elastic along the edge of the trunk's liner, before being dumped on a beach. Turns out she was in on the whole thing, but she really was transported in the trunk, with a significant amount of blood left behind to prove it.
  • Rapid-Fire Typing: Inverted and Discussed For Laughs in "Social Engineering." When a hacker contacts Henry on the morgue's computer, she starts out typing, but Henry's reply is so slow she opens a video window instead just to complain about it.
  • 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, then proud of his son's success.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Henry's excuse to his boss for being found naked in public is that he's a sleepwalker. There really are cases of people who sleepwalk ending up naked in public, such as this case where police loaned a man their jackets to preserve "what remained of his dignity" to get him back to his hotel room.
    Officers were satisfied that it was a case of somnambulism, and not a dare. The person involved was grateful to the officers for their help, saw a funny side to what had happened, and even asked for a selfie with the officers (when they were fully clothed) as a memento of their unusual encounter with GMP.
  • 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 evidence 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.
  • Resurrection Teleportation: Whenever Henry dies, his body vanishes (including clothing and anything he's directly carrying that he doesn't drop in time) and he immediately reappears in the nearest large body of water (on Manhattan, usually the Hudson or East River). Adam makes use of this factor to escape from the police in "The Last Death of Henry Morgan" by casually slitting his own throat.
  • Revealing Injury: The killer in "Look Before You Leap" is typing with his right hand even though he's left-handed because the first victim bit his left hand badly, which he'd kept hidden because everyone has to wear gloves when working with or around the codex.
  • 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 visibly react to his presence but don't gesture or otherwise actively try to warn her. Martinez does not speak the expected line. Henry clearly doesn't mind and assures her he's been called worse.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: "Hitler on the Half-Shell" bears a strong resemblance to the 2013 reports of a vast trove of art stolen by the Nazis being confiscated from the son of Nazi art thief Hildebrand Gurlitt, who had inherited the works. The son, Cornelius Gurlitt, left all of the art in his will to a museum in Switzerland.
  • 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 varying degrees of suspicion on all three occasions.
    • Adam kills Henry three times: Once by slitting his throat to keep Jo from seeing him die; once by trapping him in the back of a taxi which goes off the pier and sinks, drowning Henry; and once in the abandoned subway station, shooting Henry with the flintlock that originally killed him to test the theory that it would kill him permanently.
  • 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?
  • Running Over the Plot: How "Diamonds Are Forever" kicks off the week's murder case. In this case, not just run over, but reversed over after, to make sure he's dead.
  • Samus Is a Girl: "The Frenchman" is a Japanese woman.
  • Scars are Forever: Henry has a large, irregular scar on his chest where the shot from the captain's flintlock killed him the first time. Otherwise averted as, while other injuries heal normally, when Henry dies he reemerges from the water in perfect health and any wounds or scars he's acquired since his last death vanish.
  • Scenery Porn:
    • Per a Q&A Henry reappears in the East River instead of the Hudson River because the director thought the views of Brooklyn in the background would be much prettier than views of New Jersey would have been.
    • The shots of historical New York in the background of resurrections during flashbacks are extremely well-done.
  • Sculpted Physique: The mugging victim at the start of "Fountain of Youth" is in his sixties, but has the body of a man in his thirties, one who does crossfit.
  • 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", Liz, 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, Liz (whose life Henry saves even at the potential cost of his own career) falsifies a different background for Henry behind the original fake one, one which is good enough to allow him to keep his current job and identity without a hitch.
    • 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.
  • Selective Squeamishness Suppression: Henry is a very neat and tidy man, and Jo and Hanson scoff at the very idea of him joining in on a search of debris washed from a crime scene into the sewers by a storm. However, he does cut up bodies for a living with great enthusiasm, casually holding out a brain in his hand for Jo's inspection, and he frequently uses a hand to waft scents towards his nose to sniff everything from stomach contents to a stain on a dirty sidewalk.
  • 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.
  • Sex at Work: Implied to have taken place in the morgue between Henry and Molly when their date gets side-tracked by the murder investigation.
  • 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.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Henry always wears tailored suits, usually with a waistcoat and a classy scarf instead of a tie (likely a call-back to the cravats he grew up with, although not tied so fancy). Even when he's relaxing at home, the most casual we ever see him is neatly pressed slacks and a clean long-sleeved button-down dress shirt.
  • Sherlock Can Read: Jo and Hanson are amazed Henry tells them the sunken ship was "the Empress of Africa, a slave ship," and ask how he could possibly know that. We've just seen Henry looking at the ship's wheel, which has the words "Empress of Africa" prominently carved on it, and Jo and Hanson had just found shackles among the recovered items. (Henry also knows because he was killed on the ship, but for once there's an easy, mundane explanation handy.)
  • Sherlock Homage: Henry often does Sherlock's trick of speaking or acting based on information not obvious to those around him. He can often tell what killed someone even before the autopsy. In the pilot, he greets a young woman on the subway in Russian and wishes her luck with her performance that night, all based on his observations sitting a couple of seats away. Word Of God confirms if there had been a second season, there would have been an indication Henry helped inspire the literary character himself.
  • Sherlock Scan: Henry's modus operandi. His assistant notes to Jo that Henry can sometimes tell what happened to a body even before 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."
    • Matt Miller has confirmed that if there had been a season two, there would have been a more explicit tie between Henry and the creation of Sherlock Holmes.
  • Ship Tease: It gradually builds up for Henry and Jo.
    • When Henry and Jo visit Iona Payne 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, Henry is clearly reminded of the first time he saw Abigail, holding an infant Abraham. After Jo passes the baby to Henry, a passing nurse mistakes them as the baby's parents, which Jo awkwardly tries to correct.
    • 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 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.
    • Reece also pointedly gives Jo full credit for saving Isaac's life and then asks Hanson to speak with her outside, leaving Jo and Isaac alone together, all in a tone of voice that makes it clear she approves of the match.
    • Lucas is one for Henry/Jo, saying if they get together they will automatically be his favorite couple ever.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One of Henry's flashbacks in "Hitler on the Half-Shell" takes place in The Diogenes Club. (It bears little resemblance to the anti-social haven from the Sherlock canon, though.)
    • 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.
  • Shown Their Work: Like any good chemist, when checking the odor of unknown substances, Henry will use his hand to waft the smell up towards his face, rather than sticking his nose right next to it (which risks chemical burns or poisoning). Henry does this so often it's practically a character tic.
  • 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.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": When Henry and the killer tumble down a flight of stairs together in "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" we can hear a loud crunch when Henry's back is broken.
  • 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.
  • Skinny Dipping: Whenever Henry dies, he reappears naked in the closest large body of water, so swimming naked is the natural consequence. Referenced in-universe by name when Henry is arrested for it.
  • Slashed Throat:
    • Threatened by the killer in "Look Before You Leap" when holding Henry hostage with a scalpel right over his carotid artery.
    • How Adam kills Henry quickly in "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" when Henry is paralyzed and close to dying, in danger of being discovered by Det. Martinez and potentially having her see him die and vanish.
    • Self-inflicted in "The Night In Question" by Abigail, when Adam tries to kidnap her to force her to tell him how to find Henry. She kills herself to protect Henry, telling Adam he's alone, meaning there is no other immortal.
    • Used by Adam as a quick way to disappear when about to be discovered by Jo in "The Last Death of Henry Morgan."
  • Sleeping Their Way to the Top: In "The Wolves of Deep Brooklyn" 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.
  • Sleeps in the Nude: Henry's excuse for turning up naked in the East River is that he's a sonambulist (sleepwalker) and he sleeps naked.
  • Small Steps Hero:
    • After Henry has stolen the key to the shackles and cell door in the slave ship in "Dead Men Tell Long Tales," he's ordered to check a man for signs of cholera, and despite his insistence the man is not contagious, the Captain orders him thrown over the side of the ship. Henry refuses to step aside and let them kill him, even though by standing up for this one man's life, he puts in jeopardy his plan to save all three hundred African prisoners destined for slavery.
    • 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.
  • Smells of Death:
    • This is what Adam says he remembers most about Auschwitz concentration camp in "Hitler On the Half-Shell".
    • In "The Pugilist Break" a couple being shown an apartment by a realtor notice the odor and thus discover a dead body in it.
  • Smells Sexy: Invoked by Maureen Delacroix, who says she loves Abe's musk, in "The Ecstasy of Agony."
  • 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.
  • Snow Means Love:
    • When Henry and Abigail meet, there's snow blowing through the air around them.
    • At the end of "Diamonds Are Forever" Henry and Jo sit on her front steps, talking about her late husband. After Henry states confidently that the two of them were in love, and her husband knew their last fight hadn't changed that, snow begins to swirl around them. There's an obvious double meaning as Henry and Jo sit close together, talking intimately, Jo leaning her head on Henry's shoulder.
  • 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., sending him a picture of Henry and Abigail after their wedding, writing a note on stationery from the hotel where Henry and Abigail once stayed, giving Abraham the Nazi documents that can identify his parents, or directing him to and gifting him with the pistol that killed him.
  • Staircase Tumble:
    • In "The Art of Murder" Gloria Carlyle falls down a marble staircase, inflicting fatal damage. She still manages to crawl thirty feet so that she can die in front of a painting by her lover.
    • In "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" Henry and the killer are struggling, Henry still having a long Liston knife impaling him through the chest, and they end up tumbling together down a flight of stairs, landing with a Sickening "Crunch!". The killer gets up a few moments later, but Henry's neck is broken and he can't move (as well as still having the knife stuck through his thorax). The killer grinds his boot into Henry's back for good measure before staggering away.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Jo and Hanson are discussing a burned out car with their heads stuck in it when suddenly Henry, who wasn't there 30 seconds ago, interjects.
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Henry's Love Interest Anne, 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 Anne didn't know about Henry's secret. Even if she did, she might have done the same thing anyway to help Henry keep his secret and continue to do good as a doctor.
  • Suddenly Shouting: When Henry is arrested for undressing to swim in the river for the second time, and has to explain himself to Lieutenant Reece, he starts out calm, but raises his voice out of stress, a fact he realizes and apologizes for immediately.
  • 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.
  • Taken Off the Case: After information about an autopsy leaks to the press, Henry is taken off the case in "The Art of Murder." He says he's never been taken off a case before.
  • Taking the Bullet: In the flashbacks for "Social Engineering" Henry's first wife, Nora, wants to prove to the world that he's immortal, so she brings a gun to the hospital and tries to shoot him in public. Anne, a nurse he was becoming romantically involved with, moved in front of him to shield him and was killed instead.
  • 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.
  • Tan Lines: Henry recognizes a widow/widower or divorcé(e) by their ring finger having an indentation; if it's recent there's a tan line but if it's been a little longer the tan line has faded.
  • Tasty Gold: The dead treasure hunter in "Dead Men Tell Long Tales" is found to have traces of gold on his back molars, presumably from biting a gold coin to test its purity.
  • 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.
  • Thanatos Gambit: In the finale, Henry knows that Adam may be right about his gun being able to kill him permanently, but clearly thinks the sacrifice is worth it to neutralize Adam.
  • Theme Serial Killer: "The Frustrating Thing About Psychopaths" features a serial killer who painstakingly recreates a different famous murder for each kill. Turns out he's actually basing his kills on a graphic novel that gave details of each murder, rather than the murders themselves.
  • 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.
  • Twisted Christmas: The Christmas motif fills "Skinny Dipper" with caroles, decorations, cars bringing home a bundled up Christmas tree on the roof, ice skaters, and more caroles. It also includes Henry trapped in the back of a taxi as it sinks into the river, desperately fighting to escape until he drowns; getting arrested; being framed for murder by his stalker; and a seriously Downer Ending where The Bad Guy Wins by tricking Henry into killing someone after avoiding doing so for 243 years, leading to a Heroic BSoD as the stalker reveals himself to be someone Henry had liked and started to confide in.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Lieutenant Reece is the only black main character and a woman.
  • 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.
  • Unexpectedly Dark Episode: "Skinny Dipper" puts Henry through more hell than all the previous episodes put together, including a Downer Ending where The Bad Guy Wins.
  • Useless Security Camera: The cameras at the 11th precinct and the OCME never catch anything useful, with bad guys doing things like leaving a human heart on Hanson's desk or stealing Henry's autopsy tools, using them in a murder, and then putting them back yet never being caught on camera.
  • Vehicular Kidnapping:
    • In "The Ecstasy of Agony" Molly's stalker uses a cattle prod to knock Henry out and throws him into the back of a van, right outside of the precinct house in broad daylight.
    • Adam uses a stolen taxi to kidnap Henry in "Skinny Dipper." He doesn't keep him long, his purpose is to prove to Henry that he is a fellow immortal — by trapping Henry in the back, then shooting himself and vanishing while the car is hurtling along a pier at high speed, leaving it to go over the edge and into the water.
  • Verbal Salt in the Wound: Adam frequently asks Henry about his most recent death, phrasing it as a concerned enquiry about how Henry is doing afterward. Since he's well aware that they both come back to life completely healed, the only purpose is to needle Henry about his immortality. In "The Last Death of Henry Morgan" Adam also comments on Abigail's final moments to try to get Henry to engage.
  • The Vietnam Vet: Abraham. As a teen, he was eager to serve his country, as his parents had in World War II. After returning from the war Abe became involved in anti-war protests. In "The Wolves of Deep Brooklyn" Abe gets back together with men he'd served with to help solve the murder of the son of one of them.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: "The Art of Murder" is a serious offender, showing clips from earlier scenes every time something from the flashback is relevant to the case, often the same clip multiple times.
  • 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 large body of water.
    • In "The Ecstasy of Agony" Henry is knocked out by a cattle prod, and first wakes up briefly in his van, then fully revives in the killer's lair, chained to a Saint Andrew's Cross.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Henry grew up idolizing his father, a man who taught him to live by his principles. He is horrified to learn that his father's shipping company has been transporting slaves, and calls him out on throwing aside his morals when the company was in debt and needed income fast. Henry swears never to take anything from his father again since his wealth was based on slavery. Nevertheless, when Henry's father is dying, and gives Henry his pocketwatch, telling him how proud he is that he raised a son who is a better man than he was, Henry is moved to tears. He accepts the heirloom after his father explains it's been passed down in the family for generations and thus was not from blood money. He may have lost respect for his father, but he still craves his approval.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Skinny Dipper" has Henry see absolute confirmation of Adam's immortality and finally knowingly 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, but then she encountered Adam; she ultimately ended up committing suicide in the hopes of protecting Henry from him.
  • Wham Line:
    • In the pilot, when the anonymous caller tells Henry it seems death isn't an option for either of them.
    • At the end of "Best Foot Forward" we get two. First, Jo tells Henry she realized she didn't want to go to Paris with Isaac, then Abe interrupts with important news for Henry.
    Abraham: I found mom.
    • More of a Wham Sound Effect in "The Last Death of Henry Morgan" when Adam pulls out the gun that killed Henry the first time and fires it to get Henry to stop.
    Adam: I can make you play, Henry! *bang*
    Henry: You have my gun?!?
    • When Adam reveals his true aim, what he thinks Henry fears above all else — exposure. He intends for Jo to either find Henry dead, or for her to see him disappear before her eyes.
    Adam: What you fear more than anything in this world is someone finding out your secret. I assume she heard that last shot. If not, she's sure to hear this one.
  • 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 real-life 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 he feels like he's "been here since the beginning."
    • 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 Can't Fight Fate: Quoted almost word for word in the pilot.
Henry: Abe is the only one who knows my secret. Fate brought us together years ago, and if I've learned nothing else from my time here, it's 'Don't mess with fate!'
  • You Said You Couldn't Dance: Henry and Jo visit a murder suspect when he's about to deliver a speech. He says he hates public speaking and then goes and delivers a well-received speech, afterwards telling the surprised duo "I said I hate public speaking; I never said I wasn't any good at it."
  • You're Insane!: Henry to his stalker multiple times. Also Nora to Henry when he tells her about his immortality.
  • You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You: Henry's usual reason for not explaining his immortality.

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