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"It's not just the cold that kills."

Sky Atlantic/Pivot (later Amazon Studios) co-production (2015-present), Fortitude is what you get when you take a Scandi noir drama, do it in English and take it even further north. Oh and chuck in Stanley Tucci as a British cop just for the co-prod money.

Fortitude, a Norwegian town in the Arctic, home to a diverse collection of nationalities, a research station and some mines that are now closing. A frozen land where it's mandatory to carry a hunting rifle outdoors and illegal to die. Everyone has a job, there is no violent crime... but things are not as they seem.

The governor is planning to open an ice hotel, but when a potentially mammoth scientific find turns up, she might not be able to make the killing she planned. But then, the scientist informed of the find becomes Fortitude's first ever murder victim...

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This show contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Henry reveals to DCI Morton that Dan's father, Nils, was an abusive alcoholic.
    • This is instantly subverted when Henry then reveals that he is Dan's biological father, but let Nils assume that he was instead.
  • Accidental Discovery: Carrie and Liam discover the thawing mammoth carcass containing the parasitic wasps whilst playing on the glacier.
  • The Ace: Dr. Sarinda Khatri, the WHO doctor sent to Fortitude by the Norwegian government after the events of the first season. She studied at Cambridge, got a doctorate at Oxford and published a postdoctoral thesis at MIT.
  • Agony of the Feet: When Liam Sutter is infected by the parasitic wasps he walks nearly a mile in the Arctic barefoot. Needless to say he gets very bad frostbite which requires oxygen therapy to treat.
    • The Fortitude resident who accidentally shoots himself in the foot during a community meeting also qualifies.
  • Always on Duty: This seems to be the case with Sheriff Anderssen.
    • Subverted by Ingrid and Petra, who are seen getting hammered and partying off the clock.
  • All There in the Manual: The three mercenaries who attempt to kidnap Dan in the season two finale are never named onscreen. However, the episode credits reveal their names to be Devlin, Spindoe and Hogg.
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  • Amicable Exes: Hildur Odegard and Michael Lennox. They remain close friends over a decade after splitting up, and even when Hildur is having marital problems they don't sleep together (although Eric assumes otherwise).
  • And I Must Scream: Elena reveals to Dan that although she was sedated, when Dr. Khatri mutilated her and removed her tissue to study the regenerative effects of the parasite, she could feel everything.
  • Anyone Can Die: Made brutally apparent halfway through season 2 when Hildur is killed.
  • Ankle Drag: Elena does this to Carrie after knocking her out in the season 1 finale.
  • Artistic License: In real life, the position of Governor covers the entirety of the Svalbard archipelago, not just one settlement on it, meaning Hildur's real life title would be Governor of Svalbard, not Governor of Fortitude.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Since everyone must carry rifles when out in public because of the polar bear threat, the citizen who accidentally shoots himself in the foot during the town meeting fits this trope.
  • Artistic License – Law: After witnessing Dan's overly aggressive arrest of Frank while he is naked and showering, Morton is then shown interviewing him about his use of force. Yes, he may be the only other cop in town with the skills to do an interview, but in real life he'd have no business doing so, as he's a material witness and should be the one being interviewed about the incident by someone who wasn't present.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Pettigrew, who is seen being eaten alive by a polar bear and then shot in the first episode. Difficult to feel too sorry for him when its later revealed he is an alcoholic, a misogynist and a rapist.
    • Dr Allerdyce. Although she may be a bitch to Jules, the Governor and even her own daughter, its hard not to feel sorry for her when she is hacked open with a fork and later eaten alive from the inside by prehistoric parasitic wasps.
    • Vladek Klimov. He is beaten to a bloody pulp and then strangled to death, but as retribution for murdering multiple people in a crazed attempt to carry out an ancient Sami ritual he believes will rid the town of a demon.
    • Dr. Khatri. Her self-sacrifice and willingness to tip off Vincent about the cure for the blindness disease does not redeem her for having experimented on living patients without their consent, whatever her justifications, lying to Michael about whether that research could save Freya and deliberately infecting Natalie with the blindness disease when Natalie began to realize what she was doing and told on her to Munk.
    • Elena invokes this trope to justify having killed her husband, who she said was abusive.
  • As You Know: In the second season, it is established that the Lennox's are long time residents in Fortitude, and that Michael and Hildur were even in a relationship at one point. Despite this, they are never mentioned or seen in the first season.
  • Ax-Crazy: Anyone who becomes becomes a primary host for the parasitic wasps, although they are unable to control it.
  • Bait-and-Switch: We think that truck we see but Hildur doesn't coming towards her car is someone trying to kill her, but then it stops and it's actually Eric bringing the drill back.
    • It really does seem as though Yeva is putting Rune up to killing his father during the trip to the old weather station, but then she drops the act and laughs.
    • It seems at first as if Petter will crack Munk's mobile phones and learn the truth about everything, but he is unable to.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Right as it looks like Devine is about to put Michael out of the misery he just put him in, Eric reappears after several episodes and shoots Devine in the head.
  • Bar Brawl: Eric and Billy Pettigrew in flashback, which they then take outside. Billy's apparent loss triggers him to rape Elena.
    • Eric again in Season 2, with Michael, whom he assumes has slept with Hildur on their trip to Vukobejina.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: Ronnie Morgan does this when Ciaran tries to stop him from stealing a snowmobile. It later bites him in the ass, weakening him whilst on the run with his daughter, Carrie.
  • Batman Gambit: Yuri tricks Eric into dropping his rifle by saying they should settle it like real men and drop their guns on the count of three. Yuri doesn't, and if his weapon hadn't misfired, Eric would have been killed.
  • Bear Trap: Used by Yuri to put Eric in hospital before the series starts. Its later revealed he did is as revenge for Eric beating up his close friend Billy Pettigrew.
  • Berserk Button: If you do anything harmful to Elena and Dan finds out, God help you.
  • Blackmail: When Eric continues to act hostile to DCI Morton and refuses to let him into the investigation, Morton resorts to blackmailing him thusly:
    DCI Morton: Does the governor (his wife) know that you are fucking Trish (the victim's widow)?
  • Big Fancy House:
    • Professor Stoddart has the nicest house in the town.
    • Hildur discovers that Munk owns a large second house in Oslo, under his uncle's name. It is her first indication he is corrupt, as there is no way he could afford it on a government salary.
  • Big Bad: Two in the second season.
    • Vladek Klimov, a crazed and deeply spiritual Sami Shamanic who goes around killing people to collect body parts, convinced that by using them in a ritual he will be able to banish a "demon" from Fortitude. Of course the evidence he has for this "demon" can actually be explained by the wasp parasite and its effects on people (violent temperament, cannibalistic tendencies and even regenerative healing factors).
    • Shentel Biotech, a pharmaceutical company who has become aware of the regenerative properties the wasp parasite can have on hosts, and is determined to further research it by any means. They have Dr. Khatri and Erling Munk on their payroll, and even resort to sending mercenaries to Fortitude to extract an infected Dan so they can further experiment on him.
  • Blame Game: The Fortitude residents start to blame the Russians from the neighbouring town for the violent attacks and murder that begins to take place. They go as far as mobbing and threatening a Russian man in the street, before being broken up by Elena and Carrie.
  • Black Guy Dies First: Subverted. Both Frank Sutter and Max Cordero survive the first season.
    • And in Season 2, Pomak is not the first of Klimek's victims.
  • Body Horror:
    • What happens to the secondary hosts of the virus.
    • The Soviet scientists in 1942 and Dr. Khatri in 2016 cut open and remove parts of patients whilst they are still alive in order to observe the regenerative properties the wasp parasite can have in the infected.
  • Break the Cutie: Applies to both Petra and Ingrid, who despite being cops are unaccustomed to the levels of violence and murder that sweeps the previously safe town. When the violence starts up again in the second season, Petra is considerably hard hit by it.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: When Dan discovers that Vladek is in custody, he asks Petra for her sidearm before locking her in the holding hell. However, he then ditches the pistol and utilises an old seal club to brutally beat Vladek to a pulp, presumably only asking for Petra's gun so she couldn't shoot her way out of the holding cell (with glass doors) and stop him.
  • Brick Joke:
    • When DCI Morton first comes to Fortitude he remarks to Trish that he has heard about a dish called lutefisk and wants to try it. In Episode 5, he finally gets the chance.
    Dan: The truth about the lutefisk is- (DCI Morton gags on his first mouthful, clearly disgusted) -that you should never order the lutefisk.
    • Later on in the second season, when Dan claims he feels like a changed man ( its not a good thing, its due to the parasite altering his behaviour, he orders the lutefisk and is able to eat the entire dish without reacting.
    • In Episode 1, Vincent asks Elena whether Dan Anderssen is a good sheriff or a bad sheriff. She tells him that since there's never any crime in Fortitude, he's never had to do anything, so nobody knows. In Episode 5, she angrily confronts him about his beating of Frank and tells him, "You're a bad sheriff". In the season two finale, Dan brings up the joke again when he is in the process of beating Vladek to death.
    Dan: You know, people always ask me, am I a good sheriff or a bad sheriff? Now I realise I am both. Hell, I am all the fucking sheriffs who have ever existed.
  • The Butler Did It: The junior electrician, actually.
  • Canada Does Not Exist: The show might be a rare non-North American version of this trope, and a weak one at that. Yes, you see the Norwegian flag flying, several major characters are Norwegian and have Norwegian names, there are references to "the mainland", the two fictional communities on the island strongly resemble their real-life counterparts, and lutefisk is mentioned and even eaten at one point. But ... the Norwegian characters almost always speak minimally accented (if that) English, even among themselves, no particular unit of currency is ever mentioned, the research station on the island seems to be run by the British government, and no one ever says "Norway" or any other placename in that country. In short, if you didn't actually know the archipelago of Svalbard or the island of Spitsbergen actually exist, you'd be forgiven for assuming the show's setting is completely fictional and not entirely part of Norway.
  • Cat Scare: When Sheriff Dan and Frank are investigating Ronnie Morgan's boat, Dan goes inside and shouts shortly after. Frank draws his revolver prepared for the worst, but it turns out Dan was only taken by surprise by Carrie's pet rabbit she left on the boat.
  • Cavalry Refusal: Governor Odegard travels to mainland Norway and asks the government to send reinforcements to aid Fortitude in dealing with the bouts of psychosis and murder taking place. Her concerns are not taken seriously and she returns empty handed.
  • Character Development: Ingrid gets this in the second season. We are introduced to her family (the Lennox's) and relationships, and it is revealed she may also be half American (as Michael Lennox is her father]].
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Yuri's handcuffs he finds in Sheriff Anderssen's desk. It is later revealed they were used by Pettigrew to restrain Elena whilst he raped her, then by Dan to cuff Pettigrew to the pylon where he was eaten. In the season 1 finale, Elena uses the same cuffs to try and restrain herself when she becomes infected with the parasite.
    • The EpiPen's Freya steals from Dr. Adebimpe. She later uses them to give her the energy to drive to the abandoned mine and confront Vladek for abandoning her.
    • The flare gun Dan leaves in Dr. Khatri's car after threatening her. When she realises the mercenaries sent by Shentel Biotech intend to kill her instead of extract her, she takes it from her car and later uses it to kill them and herself by firing it inside the helicopter.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Vladek's day job as an electrician comes in useful on multiple occasions. He is able to access the police cell and cut out Tavrani's tongue, as he was the one who helped upgrade the security system. Later, when he decides he wants to become a full Shaman and castrate himself, he has easy access to a soldering iron to cauterise the wound.
  • Corrupt Politician: Erling Munk. He is revealed to be on Shentel Biotech's payroll, along with Dr. Khatri. When Hildur discovers he is working with them to conduct illegal research regarding the regenerative properties of the wasp parasite, he kills her.
  • Crush Blush: Officer Ingrid Witry is often like this around Vincent.
  • Cliffhanger: The season two finale. Dan descends further into madness due to the adverse effects of the wasp parasite, the status of Natalie is left unresolved, what caused the crazed eyeless Russians from Vukobejina (and why the Russian military has a presence there) is left un-elaborated, and after the death of Erling Munk the town is now left without a Governor.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: The word "fuck" is said quite a lot.
  • Cowboy Cop: Sheriff Anderssen fits the bill quite nicely.
  • Country Matters:
    • Yuri Lubimov calls Eric this, multiple times.
    • Also used rather humorously by Hildur in the second season when talking about Erling Munk to the mayor of Vukobejina.
    Governor Hildur Odegard: (In Russian) Oh, just some cunt in a suit from Oslo.
    Erling Munk: I speak excellent Russian.
    Governor Hildur Odegard: I know.
  • Comical Translation: The Russian mining town is named 'Vukobejina', which roughly translates to 'shithole' in Serbian.
  • Creepy Child: Liam Sutter
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Dr.Allerdyce is slowly eaten alive from the inside by thousands of prehistoric wasps.
  • Dark Reprise: In Episode 6, "Tainted Love" can be heard playing at one point during the party scene. At the end of the episode, after Dr. Margaret is brutally attacked, a far more chilling cover of the song is played over the end credits.
  • Dark Secret: Elena Ledesma is actually a convicted murderer whose real name is Esmerelda.
  • Dead Star Walking: The promotional material for the show heavily featured Christopher Eccleston, since he's one of the better known actors in the show, after Stanley Tucci and Michael Gambon. Sadly he's the murder victim, and dies in the first episode.
    • Actually a Double Subversion. Eccleston's character, Charlie Stoddard, appears to be dead when he is first found after the attack, but is then discovered to still be alive. He's quickly rushed to hospital, and it looks like he might make it, but he ultimately succumbs to his injuries.
    • Michael Gambon is a rather more literal (if not exactly straight) example: his character, Henry Tyson, is dying of terminal cancer and has just weeks left to live when the show starts.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • DCI Morton. Especially evident when a startled Ciaran Donnelly draws a revolver on him when he knocks on the door of the hunting stores gun room.
    DCI Morton: "What, do you think murderers knock?".
    • Petra, especially in the second season.
    Munk: "Hildur committed suicide."
    Petra: "Yes. And then hid her car afterwards.
    Munk: "Well, she could have hidden it before."
    Petra: "Yes. That's a common feature of suicides."
  • Demonic Possession: Vladek, the Shamanistic killer in the second season, believes that Dan has been possessed by a demon, as prophesised in Sami folklore. It is not demonic possession however, but the adverse effects of the wasp parasite, which cause him to become increasingly violent (even cannibalistic) and give him the ability to regenerate tissue.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: DCI Morton tracks Henry to the glacier where he has decided to end his life, and threatens to take him back to London if he doesn't tell him the truth. Henry responds by shooting Morton in the stomach.
  • Downer Ending: By the end of season two even more people are dead, Dan has descended further into madness due to the wasp parasite, Freya is implied to have succumbed to her illness, Hildur (and her replacement) are dead leaving the town without leadership, all Dr. Khatri's (albeit illegal and immoral) research is destroyed and the eye-bleeding threat from Vukobejina remains un-elaborated and potentially dangerous.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jason Donnelly.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Dan to Elena in the season finale when she is on the verge of hacking an unconscious Carrie open.
  • Drinking on Duty:
    • Subverted by Dan in the first season. He gets hammered once he is off the clock, but is then forced to go back on duty minutes later after hearing of Stoddards murder. He realises the implication it could have, so promptly creates a vomit inducing concoction of salt water to puke away the evidence.
    • Petra, who has essentially become a functioning alcoholic due to the stress of the situation in the town by the second season, is routinely seen (subtly) drinking on duty.
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • Henry Tyson, due to his cancer and order to leave Fortitude
    • Sheriff Anderssen after his advances are rejected by Elena.
    • Hildur, after she is fired from the Governorship in the second season.
    • Eric, after Hildur's death.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: When Dr. Khatri realises the mercenaries sent by Shentel Biotech want to tie her up as a loose end and take her research, she fires a flare gun inside the helicopter causing it to explode. This kills herself, the mercenary about to push her out the chopper and the pilot, in addition to all the research.
  • Dying Town: How Hildur sees Fortitude once the mines close if the glacier hotel can't be built.
  • Everyone Is Armed: Including the children. It is the law in Fortitude due to the abundance of polar bears. Dan recognises this as a problem when the Governer wants to quarantine the town.
    Dan: "You want to try and quarantine an agitated town...with 700 armed civilians...and four police officers?".
    • Erling Munk mentions this as a concern when Shentel Biotech tell him they are sending in armed mercenaries to forcibly extract Dan Anderssen, so he can be used for further research.
    Erling Munk: "These fucking people will probably lock themselves in their shitty hovels, and shoot on sight!".
  • Empathic Healer: Vladek, a practitioner of Sami Shamanism, believes himself to be one. He is actually a mentally ill junior electrician of Sami descent, whose intense belief in superstition causes him to murder several people and give Freya Lennox false hope he can cure her illness.
  • Eye Scream: The substance Dr. Khatri poisons Natalie with causes her eyes to painfully swell and haemorrhage, in addition to intense auditory hallucinations. It is suggested to be the same substance that infected the Soviet scout in the 1942 flashback, in addition to the multiple people in Vukobejina, who end up ripping their eyes out from the pain. It is suggested to be another effect of/derived from the wasp parasite, as the polar bear that breaks into the school and the reindeer Natalie and Vincent shoot on the tundra also suffer from bleeding eyes.
    • Elena earned her Spanish prison term by killing her abusive husband, with her lover's help this way, by stabbing him through the eyes with a pair of scissors.
  • Fantastic Drug: Muskemaal AKA "Reindeer Juice" in the second season. It is a narcotic beverage brewed by the Sami people (and Lazlo Hindemith), which causes severe hallucinations and is apparently also the cure to whatever Dr. Khatri poisons Natalie with. They make it by feeding reindeer poisonous mushrooms, and then the reindeer's liver filters the narcotic from the toxins, which pass on into their urine which is then drank.
  • False Friend: Mr. Korski to Ronnie Morgan. He promises to take him, his daughter and the mammoth tusks to the mainland. However, once the tusks have been loaded on his boat, he forces both of them off at gunpoint and makes haste.
  • FBI Agent: DCI Morton's former occupation. He was part of the FBI team that was sent to Scotland in the 1980's to investigate the aftermath of the Lockerbie Bombing. Shortly after he fell in love with a British woman, then later moved to the UK and joined the Metropolitan Police.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Characters drink Blue Swan vodka instead of Grey Goose.
  • Five-Man Band
  • Fighting from the Inside:
    • Elena is able to tell when the wasp parasite is taking control of her brain, and attempts to handcuff herself to the bed so she can't harm anyone. Sadly for Carrie, she fails.
    • In the second season, it is revealed that Dan was also infected by the parasite. Knowing this, he chained himself up in Henry's house and fought it through. The results were...interesting.
  • Fighting Irish: Jason Donnelly is very aggressive when he is being arrested on suspicion of murdering Stoddart. Even when Frank resorts to pistol-whipping him in the back of the head to subdue him, it only succeeds in pissing him off further.
  • Force Feeding: The basis of Markus and Shirley's relationship.
  • Functional Addict:
    • Charlie Stoddart is a successful professor of Biology and lead research scientist at the Fortitude Arctic Research Centre. It is later revealed he is also a cocaine user.
    • By the second season, the stress and anxiety caused by the violence in the town has caused Petra to essentially become a functioning alcoholic. She even admits it to her colleagues when they are in the Blue Fox.
  • Foreshadowing: Markus describes a Viking Funeral in the restaurant early in the series; later that season he'll send off Shirley that way.
    • Yuri tells Max to get the lift working so he won't be stranded at the bottom of the hole in the glacier and slowly starve. Guess what has happened to him by the end of the episode?
  • Gentleman Detective: DCI Eugene Morton
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Jason Donnelly commits suicide after being infected.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Early in the series, a character asks whether Dan Anderssen is a good cop or a bad cop, and is told that nobody knows, since there's never been any crime in Fortitude before and he's never had to do anything. After Stoddard's murder, Anderssen becomes very much the bad cop (or at least, the Cowboy Cop) to Morton's good cop.
  • Government Conspiracy: Henry thinks the Governor had Sheriff Dan kill Pettigrew to further her aims of building the glacier hotel. He was half right.
    • Hildur thinks the government is trying to let Fortitude die in order to save money on subsidizing it.
  • Glassy Prison: The holding cell in the Fortitude police station.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Eric and Yuri both kick each other in the crotch during their fight on the glacier.
    • Vladek mentions to Dan that one of the requirements to become a Shaman is to be castrated, but he ran away from the group as a child before being subjected to it. Later, after Dan mocks him for "running away", he castrates himself and uses a soldering iron to cauterise the would.
  • Healing Factor: If you are able to fight the first stage of wasp infection (the virtual possession which compels you to kill and deposit the larvae into a secondary host), the parasite can then go on to alter the host's genetic code in a way that enables soft tissue and even certain organs to be regenerated. This does come with side effects, mainly the same violence seen in the first stage, but more subdued.
  • Heroic Suicide: Vincent chooses to blow up a hospital room full of prehistoric parasitic wasps to kill them, whilst he is also trapped in there.
    • Subverted when he miraculously survives the explosion.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Yuri. His overwhelming desire to discover what lies beneath the ice results in him impatiently using a sub-par winch to transcend a hole in the ice. It of course breaks and causes him to fall deep below the glacier. He is shown to survive, but it is unlikely to be for long.
  • Hot Scientist: Natalie, Max and Vincent (especially in the eyes of Ingrid).
  • Husky Russkie: Yuri.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Henry's accidental (ultimately fatal) shooting of Morton when the latter awakens him while he's camped out on the glacier waiting to die.
  • Ice Queen: Dr. Sarinda Khatri, big time.
  • Ironic Echo: In Episode 1, Hildur is seen rehearsing a speech ahead of a presentation of her glacier hotel project. By the time she actually delivers the speech, Stoddard has been found murdered unbeknownst to her, and her idyllic description of Fortitude no longer rings true.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: Natalie performs one on Vincent after he is stung by the wasps, which sends him into anaphylactic shock. Worth mentioning he has also just survived a gas explosion powerful enough to launch Dan several feet.
  • Informed Self-Diagnosis: DCI Morton after he is shot in the stomach. Makes sense considering he is a forensics expert.
    DCI Morton: "What is that, a nine-milimeter? I can survive that, that's survivable'.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Between the Norwegian cops stationed in Fortitude and DCI Morton from the London Metropolitan Police.
  • Kill It with Fire:
    • How Dan, Natalie and Vincent kill the swarm of prehistoric wasps that emerges from Dr. Allerdyce..
    • Also how the Fortitude cops destroy the infected mammoth carcass and Morgan household.
    • The FSB soldiers sent to Vukobejina in the second season are also seen using flamethrowers to destroy infected material, including human bodies.
  • Kubrick Stare: Jason, out his window, shortly after becoming infected, and then later, as Hildur asks him where the mammoth skeleton is.
  • Leave No Witnesses:
    • Yuri almost kills the driver of the ice drill so he can't identify him and Max when he regains consciousness. Thankfully, Max is able to stop him.
    • Shentel Biotech's plan in the second season is to extract Dan and all of the data from Dr. Khatri's research, then kill her, Erling Munk and anyone else with detailed knowledge of what they were working on to cover their tracks.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Both Henry and Dan are heavy drinkers.
  • Location Doubling: They wanted to film in Svalbard, where the series is set, but the logistics were against them, so Iceland was used instead.
  • Lock Down: Governor Odegard places the town on lockdown after Professor Stoddart is found dead, as it is initially suspected to be a polar bear attack. The lock is lifted when it is revealed he was murdered.
    • The Governor later puts the town under rabies quarantine after the scientists speculate the cause of the murder and psychosis is being caused by a virus/parasite. This also locks down the airport, much to Jules chagrin.
  • Lonely Together: Invoked by Elena after Dan confesses how he killed Billy quite cruelly after he found him after he had raped Elena.
  • Lovable Coward: Max. He flees as soon as Yuri and Officer Odegard draw their weapons in the season finale.
  • Love Confession: Dan to Elena. She rejects him.
  • Love Is a Weakness: Subverted. Despite his infatuation with Elena, Dan does not hesitate to shoot her square in the chest when she attacks little Carrie Morgan.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Played with. Henry Tyson reveals to DCI Morton that he is Dan's father moments before he blows his brains out. However, it is subverted as Henry commits suicide and Morton is shot and killed by Henry, Dan never finds out.
  • Macguffin: The mammoth tooth, and later, the mammoth itself. It may or may not have been what got Pettigrew or Stoddard killed.
    • The underground scan. We don't know what it shows, but we know that whatever it is, it's extremely valuable, and may hold the key to Pettigrew's death. It is later revealed to show a graveyard of preserved mammoth carcasses under the ice.
  • Mad Doctor: Dr. Sarinda Khatri has elements of this, especially when she creepily sings to an awakening Elena before sedating her again. She then proceeds to literally vivisect Elena, who is drugged and unable to move, in order to observe the regenerative properties of the parasite. Later, when Natalie seems to catch on to her actions, she poisons her. She does however attempt to justify her actions by claiming the research is for the greater good.
  • Mama Bear: Jules Sutter. She becomes so determined to leave for the mainland with her sick son that she assaults a police officer who gets in her way and later goads her to shoot her when confronted in the airport.
  • Mercy Killing:
    • Played with. At the very start of the show, Henry Tyson comes across Billy Pettigrew being eaten alive by a bear, and shoots him in the head in what appears to be a mercy killing. However, Henry was actually aiming for the bear, and thus holds himself responsible for Pettigrew's death, despite Anderssen trying to convince him that he did the right thing in putting Pettigrew out of his misery.
    • Dan tries to justify him killing Elena to both himself and Petra as this. However, it was actually in a fit of jealous rage (exacerbated by the wasp parasite) which lead him to killing her.
  • Multinational Team: Fortitude, despite being located on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, is home to an international community. This is somewhat realistic however, as in real life Svalbard is a designated "visa free zone", meaning anyone of any nationality can live and work there with little difficulty.
    • The police (Dan, Eric, Petra and Ingrid), as well as Erling Munk and Freya Lennox are Norwegian. In the second season it is implied Ingrid and her brother Rune may be part American, as their father is Michael Lennox.
    • The governor (Hildur) is Danish-Norwegian.
    • Most of the scientists at the research centre, as well as Henry, Pettigrew and the Sutter, Allerdyce and Morgan families, are British.
    • Jason and Ciaran Donnelly are Irish.
    • DCI Morton is British-American.
    • The majority of the residents of Vukobejina, including Yeka Podnikov, are Russian.
    • Elena is Spanish.
    • Michael Lennox is American.
  • Murder-Suicide:
    • Henry Tyson shoots DCI Morton in the stomach, leaving him to bleed out. He then blows his brains out.
    • When Dr. Khatri realises, in a helicopter, that her employers intend to kill her to keep her silent, she fires a flare gun into the cockpit. This kills her, and the mercenary and pilot riding with her.
  • Monstrous Cannibalism:
    • Polar bears on Svalbard have started to eat each other, something that the researchers at in Fortitude are trying to determine the cause of.
    • A side effect of the regenerative properties of the wasp parasite. It is seen in the 1942 flashback where an infected Soviet researcher lays waste to a Sami encampment and eats a baby, and later begins exhibiting itself in Dan (especially when he kills the mercenary by biting his jugular).
  • The Needs of the Many: Vladek tells Freya he can't use his powers to cure her ALS since he needs them to save the village from the demon.
  • No Badge? No Problem!: Frank Sutter is only a search and rescue pilot, but he still carries a gun and helps out the Fortitude cops with armed response and arrests.
  • Nom de Mom: In the second season it is established that Ingrid is the daughter of Michael Lennox, but in all promotional material, credits and even her name tag in the police station her surname is listed as the more Norwegian sounding "Witry". It can be assumed that she uses her mothers maiden name at work, given that Freya is Norwegian.
  • Not So Different: Pettigrew's speech to Dan while the sheriff has him in his car, telling him he knows Dan would rape Elena too, given the chance.
  • No Warrant? No Problem!: When informed he doesn't have enough evidence for a warrant on a suspects home, Sheriff Anderssen simply gets one of his officers to break in through the window. DCI Morton later comments on how they wouldn't be able to use said evidence in a future prosecution if it was gathered illegally.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Fortitude and Vukobejina are strongly based on the real-life towns of Longyearbyen and Barentsburg on the Svalbard archipelago.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Dan issues one to Frank when he arrests him.
    • An infected Jason delivers one to an already weakened Ronnie, leaving him in a comatose state and full of wasp larvae in a boiler room.
    • Upon discovering Vladek has come to the police station, Dan handcuffs and then brutally beats him with an old seal club and his fists. The beating is so severe it actually ends up killing him.
  • Nonviolent Initial Confrontation: Played with. When Morton goes to talk with Yuri, the latter initially tries to attack him with a telescopic baton. However, after Morton calmly draws a Glock he borrowed from the police station, the interaction goes rather smoothly.
  • Norse by Norsewest: There are Scandinavian people. They like heavy metal, sex and saunas in the buff.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Erling Munk and the Norwegian government in the second season. Although they have sent additional researchers to the island to deal with the fallout from the first season, they also implement multiple restrictive rules that disrupt the functioning of the town and Hildur's ability to lead it, including the reallocation of subsidies. When she defies only a basic one (providing fuel to fisherman without approval from Oslo), she is removed from her position.
  • Odd Friendship: Yuri, the violent drunken Russian security guard, and Max, the polite and soft spoken research scientist.
    • It is later revealed they only remain friends as both want a share of what treasure is hidden under the ice, and that Max is genuinely scared of Yuri.
  • One-Way Trip: Henry Tyson ensures his snowmobile has only enough gas to get him onto the glacier, much to DCI Morton's chagrin.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Natalie and Vincent, who are both Arctic research scientists, are also able to perform autopsy's on humans and carry out police level forensic analysis.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Yuri, the drunken, violent, beartrapping Russian who has no qualms in killing a man over an ice drill, is seen playfully throwing a snowball at a colleague whilst patrolling the Russian mining town.
    • DCI Morton angrily cussing out and spitting at Henry Tyson after the latter shoots him in the stomach on the glacier, far away from help.
    • When the normally stereotypically stoic Dan keeps his promise to the dying Morton to tell Elena how Billy Pettigrew really died, he cries and sobs.
  • Papa Bear: After Ronnie Morgan (who is on anti-psychotics) is suspected of Stoddard's murder, his overriding fear is not that he'll be arrested, but that his daughter Carrie will be taken away from him. He proceeds to flee the town with her, even grabbing a knife blade with his bare hands to acquire a snowmobile to do so.
  • Parasite Zombie: Those infected by the parasitic wasps have their central nervous system and brain hijacked, forcing them to coldly hack open others in order to deposit the larvae into a secondary host. It also makes them impervious to the elements and even frostbite.
  • Playful Hacker: Bianca, who is revealed to have hacked various local government websites simply to put up messages of peace and love. The only malicious thing she does is access the research centre database to find mapping of crab migrations to give to Micheal, so he can have a successful fishing season.
  • Police Brutality: When Dan Andersen goes to arrest Frank Sutter, he ends up losing his temper and beating him senseless. He regrets it afterwards, admitting to Henry that "I fucked up".
    • In Episode 6, Yuri Lubimov is convinced that the Fortitude police (and Eric in particular) are responsible for Pettigrew's death. DCI Morton isn't so sure, but agrees to investigate.
    • Eric beating up Pettigrew outside the bar.
    • Dan handcuffing Pettigrew to a pylon and letting a polar bear eat him alive probably also counts as brutality.
  • Put on a Bus: The entire Sutter family, who were main characters in the first season, do not appear in or are even mentioned in the second.
  • Put on a Bus to Hell: Yuri, alive but apparently stranded and, as as he had feared doomed to starve at the bottom of a deep hole in the glacier.
  • Private Military Contractors: Tomak, a barman in the Blue Fox, is a mercenary wanted by Interpol and currently employed by Shentel Biotech. However he is murdered by Vladek before the police can arrest him. In the season 2 finale, three other mercenaries employed by Shentel Biotech are sent to Fortitude to extract Dan, who is wanted for research.
  • Product Placement:
    • Most characters wear Canada Goose brand coats. Even the police coats sport the logo on one shoulder.
    • North Face is also pretty common.
    • The police ride Polaris snowmobiles.
    • There are a lot of closeups on Blackberry and Nokia phones in the second season.
  • Psychotic Love Triangle: Between Dan, Frank and Elena.
  • Rage Breaking Point: DCI Morton is incredibly calm and collected throughout the series, despite the hostility he faces. It is only when Henry shoots him in the stomach far away from rescue that he snaps; shouting, spitting and cursing in a fit of rage.
  • Rank Up: After Hildur is fired, Acting Governor Erling Munk promotes Eric to Sheriff.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Especially in Sheriff Anderssen's view. So much so that when he discovers Pettigrew has raped Elena, instead of arresting him he drives him to the coast, handcuffs him to a pylon and lets him get eaten alive by a polar bear.
  • These Hands Have Killed: While others see Henry Tyson's shooting of Billy Pettigrew as a Mercy Killing, Henry sees it as cold-blooded murder and is deeply troubled by it.
  • Redemption Demotion: When Hildur defies Oslo's orders and releases fuel to the fisherman, they remove her from her post and put Munk in her place.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: After Yuri tricks Eric into throwing his gun aside, his own gun misfires, allowing Eric to start hand-to-hand combat with him.
  • The Reveal: Episode 5 reveals Stoddard's killer was Liam Sutter. That's right, it was the freaking ten-year-old.
    • It's also where we learn about Elena's past: she had changed her name after having served a seven-year sentence in a Spanish prison for murdering her abusive husband.
    • Episode 11 reveals that the bouts of psychosis and murders in the town have been caused by prehistoric parasitic wasps that were released from the thawed mammoth carcass.
    • The first episode of the second season has Ingrid hesitating to shoot someone causing a disturbance in the drugstore even after he defies her commands and she has her gun drawn on him. This unbecoming lack of followthrough on her part is soon explained when he says "What will you tell Dad?"
  • Right Through His Pants: Frank and Elena in the first episode when he sneaks out of the house to meet her for a quicky in a garage nearby, leaving the sick Liam alone. Justified in that, well, it is a snowy winter night in the Arctic and they left the garage door open.
  • Sanity Slippage: Dan becomes progressively more unhinged throughout the second season. It is a side effect of surviving the wasp parasite.
  • Scary Black Man: Frank on occasion, especially so when he is brutally torturing Markus.
    • Subverted by Max Cordero, who is incredibly soft spoken and has a tendency to flee at the first sign of violence.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After Yuri pulls his gun on Eric, Max jumps on the cop's sled and takes off.
  • Shoot the Dog:
    • Dan shoots Professor Stoddart's dog before it can attack Vincent.
    • Vladek kills a husky and removes its spine for use in a Sami Shamanistic ritual.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Vincent has (unsurprisingly) some pretty severe PTSD from the events of the first season. The only reason he doesn't leave Fortitude is because of his relationship with Natalie.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: Or more accurately, shoot the hospital room full of pure oxygen. Thankfully, Vincent is able to set the explosion with a lighter before Dan pulls the trigger.
  • Soul Power: Sami Shamanism is a big focus in the second season.
    • The Sami belief in a demon who inhibits a person and comes to our world every few decades to kill people and show its power is seemingly replicated by the effects of the wasp parasites, which cause people to become violent, cannibalistic and even regenerate tissue. This causes some such as Vladek and Tavrani to seek desperate means to bring the apparent "demon" to an end, such as going around killing people and harvesting body parts to use in a cleansing ritual.
    • Freya Lennox, desperate to cure her terminal illness also reaches out to Vladek, who convinces her that with his spiritual help he can heal her. He later abandons her however, believing stopping the "demon" is a better use of his time and energy.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Dan verges on this a couple of times, staring aimlessly at photos of Elena on the police database. By the end of the first series and the start of the second it becomes apparent he is obsessed with her.
  • State Sec: When Hildur visits the Russian mining town of Vukobejina in the second season, she is greeted by several soldiers from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) on arrival. They are later revealed to be there to cover up and destroy infected material.
  • String Theory: To make sense of the second season's murders, Eric sets one up. Lampshaded when Munk calls it "diagrams and string" as he orders the police to focus on Hildur's disappearance.
  • Super Toughness: A side effect of the parasitic wasp infection. If you are able to survive the initial infection without dying/killing yourself/being killed by someone else, the parasite goes on to alter your genetic code to enable tissue to regenerate. The effects of this are impressive. In the 1942 flashback, an infected Soviet researcher is able to withstand 4 rifle shots and later regrow his appendix after it is removed. It enables Elena to survive being shot by Dan, and regenerate tissue removed from her body by Dr. Khatri. It allows Dan to recover from otherwise deadly alcohol poisoning in a matter of days, swim in freezing water without noticing the cold and close up the holes in his hands from when Vladek nails him to a pole in a matter of hours.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: DCI Morton.
  • Suicide by Cop: Jules comes close by angrily goading Ingrid to either shoot her or let her leave with Liam at the airport. Thankfully, Ingrid is sensible enough to calm her down.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: The police station within the government building. Both Yuri and Elena are able to enter without having to break in. Even the evidence room and gun cabinet are both unlocked, which allows DCI Morton to borrow a sidearm and examine various police issue rifles during the investigation.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: Henry gets the towns taxidermist to make Liam a creepy Suomi doll filled with human blood.
  • The Sheriff: Dan Anderssen. In Norwegian police structure his official rank is 'Chief Superintendent', but this is synonymous with the older term lensmann (Sheriff), and everyone addresses him as such.
    • Eric is promoted to Sheriff in the second season, due to Dan's month long absence. It is later revealed he was only promoted as Munk thinks he is an idiot and will be able to control him.
  • There Was a Door: Sheriff Anderssen convinces one of his officers to break into a suspects house via the window when the police don't have enough evidence for a warrant.
  • Trauma Button: Vincent's PTSD is set off whenever he hears buzzing, as it reminds him of the wasps.
  • Trigger Happy: One of the jumped up Fortitude residents ends up shooting himself in the foot during a meeting in the government building.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: Dan informs the townspeople that Hildur did not commit suicide, but was killed by Munk. They form a mob which follows him into the government building, breaks into Munks office and throw him out of a window.
  • Torture Is Ineffective: When Frank Sutter is convinced that Markus is responsible for Stoddards death and has framed his son, he proceeds to beat him with a baseball bat, remove a fingernail with pliers and threatens to drill into his shoulders and back. Just a shame that despite being a little creepy, Markus is innocent, and maintains this until Jules forced Frank to stop.
  • Time Skip: The second season begins roughly two months after the events of the first.
  • Unexplained Recovery: When Dan is found by Eric and Hildur at the start of the second season, he is suffering from such intense alcohol and chemical poisoning that the doctor is surprised he could even walk. Everyone is then more surprised when he seemingly recovers in a matter of days. It is revealed to be a result of being infected by the wasps. By fighting the parasite and not dying from it, it altered his genetic code which enabled his body to regenerate damaged tissue.
  • Vodka Drunkenski: Yuri Lubimov, the Russian head of security in the neighbouring town.
  • Viking Funeral:
    • Shirley is given one by Markus after she dies of a heart attack after being infected by the parasite.
    • Vladek gives one to Elena after he discovers her body in the second season.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 6, in which Shirley, apropos of absolutely nothing, gruesomely attacks Dr. Margaret in an almost identical manner to Stoddard's murder.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dr. Sarinda Khatri. She has no problems performing illegal research by literally vivisecting people, and poisoning her colleagues, as she argues that it is necessary in order to better understand the regenerative effects of the parasite, which if utilised in medicine could provide "hope" for and literally save millions.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • The second season opens with a flashback to Vukobejina in the 1940's, where an infected Soviet researcher is shown eating a baby alive.
    • Tomak kills and decapitates Bianca, making it look like the work of the serial killer, simply because she accessed the research centre database and may have seen information about the illegal research Dr. Khatri was conducting on behalf of Shentel Biotech.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Instead of looking after his ill son Liam, Frank Sutter chooses to go off with his mistress Elena and have sex. This comes back to bite him in the ass big time. While he's gone, Liam escapes from his room, somehow ends up at the scene of Charlie Stoddard's murder, and ends up with serious frostbite on his feet. When Frank returns and finds Liam covered in Stoddard's blood, he panics, and in the process of cleaning Liam up he ends up covering his own shirt in blood. When the frostbite is discovered, his wife Jules is furious at him, and when she realizes why he was gone, she kicks him out. Frank's discarded, bloody shirt is later found, implicating him in Stoddard's murder, and when Dan Andersen arrives at Elena's apartment to arrest him, he loses his temper and beats him senseless. With the bloody shirt, and his alibi hinging on the testimony of a convicted murderer, he's an inch away from being charged with Stoddard's murder before a repentant Anderssen realizes exactly how the blood got onto Frank's T-shirt and his Humiliation Conga finally comes to a halt... for now.
    • Eric, Hildur's husband and one of the cops investigating Stoddard's murder, has been sleeping with his widow, Trish. Hildur is oblivious until Trish, angry at Hildur for deleting a voicemail Stoddard sent her, tells her before leaving the town.
    • Jason Donnelly, who is shown to have a loving wife and young daughter, sleeping with Hot Scientist Natalie.
    • When Hildur and Michael end up spending the night in Vukobejina, Eric assumes they have slept with eachother (given their past and his and Hildurs current marital problems). It turns out they didn't though.
    • Erling Munk is cheating on his wife with his secretary back in Oslo. This proves useful to Hildur, who blackmails her into providing his laptop password, allowing her to discover his corruption.
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