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Series / Golden Boy (2013)
aka: Golden Boy

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Golden Boy is a 2013 series airing in the US on CBS. It revolves around a young patrolman named Walter William Clark, Jr. (Theo James) who shoots a robber and saves his hostage in a highly publicized street incident. In the resulting publicity Walter is not only promoted to detective but gets his choice of assignment. Walter chooses homicide, becoming the least senior member of the squad by ten years. While he wants to be assigned to fellow hotshot Christian Arroyo (Kevin Alejandro) as a partner, his actual partner is the older and crustier Don Owen (Chi McBride). The series is in a way an extended flashback, as Walter reminisces seven years in the future from his position as New York's youngest ever police commissioner.

Golden Boy was cancelled after a single half-length season.

Not to be confused with manga of the same name, or with the Clifford Odets play and its adaptations.


  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: "Role Models" opens with Walter's sister Agnes blaming this on her being afraid to date nice guys because she's worried they'll disappear like their parents.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Due to the series' cancellation after the first season finale ended on a cliffhanger of the fugitive former deputy mayor shooting either Walter, or his ex-wife-slash-Walter's current girlfriend.
  • Book Ends: The show begins and ends with Walter talking to a reporter in his office.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Arroyo is devastated when he finds out that his old mentor is a Dirty Cop who murdered another police officer.
    • A flashforward reveals that Walter ended up arresting one of his role models, the current police commissioner.
  • Buddy Cop Show: Det. Owen is the older, by-the-book cop and Walter is more of a loose cannon.
  • Bulletproof Vest: During the shootout in the series pilot Walter is shot in the chest but his vest saves his life. He is knocked down but gets up and saves the hostage. Afterwards he is sent to the hospital and treated for any injuries the bullet impact caused. His partner is not as lucky and a bullet hits him in an unprotected shoulder.
  • Christianity is Catholic: It is for Walter, Owen, Mackenzie and Arroyo.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • In "Role Models" both the victim and the killer were dirty cops.
    • A flashforward reveals that the current police commissioner, a contemporary of the dirty cops in "Role Models" is dirty himself.
    • While Walter himself isn't corrupt, he's not above dirty tricks, like blackmailing a city councilman.
  • Due to the Dead: After becoming police commissioner, Walter still takes time to go to the funeral of one of his confidential informants. He also regularly visits the grave of Natasha, another informant who died. It is a habit he picked up from Owen.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: As per the epilogue of "Young Guns," Arroyo has a son who ends up joining the NYPD.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Arroyo may not be the cleanest cop around, and he's a backstabbing glory hound, but Holbrooke's actions disgust him, and he offers his help to Walter and Owen when Holbrooke frames Walter.
  • Flash Forward/Framing Device: In the teaser of the pilot, no less. More generally the series is framed as Walter looking back on his career prior to becoming police commissioner.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Walter will survive and will rise through the ranks till he becomes the police commissioner.
  • Foreshadowing: Comments in the flashforwards seem to indicate that the conflict between Arroyo and Owen will go From Bad to Worse, and that Owen will end up dead sometime in the future.
  • Framing the Guilty Party:
    • In the pilot Walter thinks about framing the murder suspect for drug possession so the police have probable cause to search his car and home. Owen is Genre Savvy enough to see where things are going, gives Walter a What the Hell, Hero? speech and tells him to solve the case properly.
    • Arroyo frames Walter for a leak to the press as a way of getting the new guy into trouble and teaching him what the pecking order in the squad is. Walter did leak the story to the press but it was to a different reporter who did not reveal her source. When a more serious leak occurs in a later episode, both men automatically assume that the other one was the source.
    • In "Young Guns" Walter allows Arroyo to frame a gang leader and all around slimeball for the murder of one of his subordinates and attempted murder of his friend. It was really the friend's mother, and clear self-defense in the first case and an accident in the second.
  • Just a Flesh Wound: Averted in the pilot during the shootout with the robbers. Walter's partner is shot in the shoulder and almost dies from the wound. The second robber is also shot in the shoulder and dies on the scene.
  • Knight Templar: Arroyo is perfectly willing to use the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique to get information out of a girl, and apparently somewhat prone to going off half-cocked.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: Invoked by Owen who tells Walter that a cop who chooses the lesser of two evils is setting himself up for a lifetime of sleepless nights. In the future Walter reiterates the statement to a room full of cops, many of them rookies.
  • Next Sunday A.D.:
    • The Flash Forward scenes, which show the Freedom Tower (aka the new One World Trade Center) completed. Assuming that the main body of the series takes place in the present day, that would put these scenes in 2020.
    • The banner at a high school graduation cites the class of 2019, which places the present day scenes in 2012 and the flashforwards in 2019.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • Walter tries to help Natasha, a homeless street thief, by giving her some of the money recovered from a pimp's stash. It comes back to bite him big time since it was a setup orchestrated by Arroyo to get blackmail material on Walter. It is also implied that this will get Natasha killed in the near future.
    • A mother allows her son's friend, a young gangbanger, to hang around in hopes that seeing a functioning family might turn him away from a life of crime. The friend gets shot and killed and her son wounded. One of the detectives even invokes the trope by name.
  • One-Hit Polykill: The Body of the Week in "Young Guns" had the bullet pass through him and hit the shooter's son. The latter survived.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Theo James' impression of a New York accent sounds much closer to Boston because of his natural English accent constantly making itself known.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The silver spoon racist who's the main murder suspect in the pilot.
  • The Power of Legacy: Walter is persuaded to whitewash the criminal activities of a deceased police officer. This way the widow would get the death benefits and the police commissioner is spared embarrassment.
  • Pride: Owen tells Walter that he will make a good detective if only he can get his pride under control.
  • Revisiting the Cold Case: Owen keeps re-investigating an old cold case which was actually his first case as a detective. The murder occurred on 9/11 and the investigation was interrupted when the planes hit the World Trade Center. When he was able to return to the case, the trail has gone cold and evidence was lost. It became That One Case for him. The case is finally solved when a witness discovers that he is dying and decides to come clean about what really happened.
  • Shout-Out: At one point in the pilot, Owen says, "Oh, hell no."
  • Strictly Professional Relationship: It looks to be the case as usual with partners. Subverted at the end of "Young Guns" when it turns out Arroyo and Deb McKenzie are in a Secret Relationship.
  • That One Case: Owen has been investigating a cold case for more than a decade. The victim died on the morning of September 11, 2001 and by the time the police recovered from the chaos of 9/11 the trail went cold. Owen hopes that he can solve the case before he retires and finally give the victim's widow some answers. Walter helps him crack it in the first season finale.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: This is a central theme of the series and specifically "Young Guns". Owen lampshades the fact that sometimes law and justice are not the same thing and a police officer has to make a tough choice. Walter has to choose whether he arrests a single mother for the shooting death of a gang member and the accidental shooting of her own son or allows the crime to be pinned on a vicious gang leader who has been terrorizing the neighborhood.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Owen delivers one of these speeches to Walter Once an Episode. He likes him but can't stand the choices Walter makes.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Owen is this to Walter, who cares deeply about getting his approval. After becoming police commissioner, Walter regularly mentions what he learned from Owen.

Alternative Title(s): Golden Boy