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Series / Happy Valley

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From the woman who brought you a female Buddy Cop Show in Manchester and two old people falling in love again, comes one very dark cop show (2014-present).

The first series focuses on Sergeant Catherine Cawood, a no-nonsense police officer in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire (nicknamed "Happy Valley" by real life cops due to its high levels of drug related crime), who has just learnt that Tommy Lee Royce, the man responsible for her daughter's suicide (he raped her and she ended up having a child) is being released from prison after doing time for drugs offences. While she is dealing with that, an accountant hires a group of local crooks, including Tommy, to kidnap his millionaire boss' daughter, Ann Gallagher, so he can get the money to send his daughter to a public school. Unfortunately for all concerned, including Cawood, things spiral rapidly out of control.


The second series sees Catherine deal with a new threat, when a serial killer who mutilates and strangles vulnerable women starts killing in the area. Meanwhile, despite being behind bars hundreds of miles away in London, Tommy Lee Royce forms a sinister new relationship that could further threaten Catherine and her family. Additional focus is placed on new characters such as Detective Sergeant John Wadsworth, whose fractured personal life spirals out of control and embroils him in the very investigation he and his new superiors from the Halifax Major Incident Team, are conducting.

Hard to watch, but critically acclaimed, this not only picked up a Bafta for its first series but also several other prestigious awards.


This series contains examples of:

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    General Tropes 
  • Bastard Bastard: Richard, Catherine's ex-husband, and Daniel, her son, see Ryan as this. Not surprising considering he is the product of the rape of Catherine's deceased daughter. Richard does begin to warm to Ryan as the series progresses.
  • Brits Love Tea: Whether a Psycho for Hire or a Doting Grandparent, everybody on this show is offered a cup of tea at some point.
  • The Cavalry:
    • Catherine eventually gets the National Crime Agency (essentially the British FBI) involved with the kidnapping case. Their superior resources prove useful to the investigation.
    • The Halifax Major Incident Team (HMIT) teams up with the local police at Hebden Bridge to investigate the serial killings.
  • Child by Rape: Ryan Cawood, Catherine's grandson, and Darrell is a product of his grandfather raping his mother.
  • Council Estate: Many are seen throughout the series, including where Tommy hides out after his run in with Catherine.
  • Darker and Edgier: In comparison to series creator Sally Wainwright's previous work.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Catherine's daughter, after she was raped by Tommy Lee Royce and gave birth to his child.
    • At the end of Series 2, DS Wadsworth. Watching the dominoes fall in his final few minutes is brutal.
  • Fictional Counterpart: The fictional Yorkshire Police stands in for West Yorkshire Police, which is responsible for policing the areas of Halifax and Calderdale in real life.
  • Meaningful Name: A combination of this and Sarcastic Title. The area of Yorkshire Sgt. Cawood polices is known as 'Happy Valley' due to the abundance of drug dealing and use that takes place there.
  • Oop North: Set in the Calderdale region of West Yorkshire. Even the children say "It be reet".
  • Rape as Backstory:
    • Catherine's daughter was raped by Tommy, which led to her suicide.
    • Darrell's mother was raped by her father.
  • Rape as Drama: Tommy is a serial rapist, raped Becky (Catherine's daughter), and raped Ann too; Kevin was raped in prison, and Darrell's mother was raped by her father, while the serial killer vaginally mutilates women.
  • Recovered Addict:
    • Clare Cartwright, Catherine's sister, is one.
    • Ann also aspires to be one by the end of the series, as during her time in captivity she was forcefully injected with heroin, but refuses to succumb to the addiction.
  • Television Geography: Minor. While filmed in Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden, the distances between locations are suspect.

    Series One 

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: In series one there is a minor plot point about a councillor drunk driving and refusing to be breathalysed. In the show it’s dragged out slightly whereas as in reality he’d have been arrested as soon as he refused. Later a senior officer hints that the case against him should be dropped as he’s influential. In reality a local councillor would have very little influence and the officer would not be risking their job with allegations of corruption. Acceptable because it’s a drama show and for the most part it’s one of the most realistic British police shows around.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Most of the villains are rather pathetic men who pay dearly for their actions, and when Tommy starts raping Ann and killing cops the others are genuinely horrified. Even Ashley, who spends the first three episodes being a Smug Snake, starts to be portrayed somewhat sympathetically shortly before his superiors in the drug smuggling operation have him whacked.
  • Bad Humor Truck: The two men selling drugs from their Ice Cream Van.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Kevin, a mild-mannered accountant, masterminds the plan to kidnap his boss's daughter, so he can use the ransom money to provide a better education for his children.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: In the end, no character is really falls under the Big Bad title, despite what their goals are. Ashley initially appears to be the main threat, only to for Tommy to take more and more control of the kidnapping scheme. However, Tommy loses all his power almost immediately and is forced to spend the final episodes on the run rather than on masterminding crimes. Best illustrated with Tommy's whining that "he could've been somebody".
  • Bookends: The first nutjob Catherine deals with is a man threatening to set himself on fire. She uses a fire extinguisher on him. The same happens with the Big Bad.
  • Bound and Gagged: Ann for much of the series, as she has been kidnapped.
  • Cop Killer: Tommy kills PC Kirsten McAskill by ramming her with a car and then running her over twice.
  • Corrupt Politician: Marcus Gascoigne, a local councillor who uses his relationship with the police higher ups to avoid arrest for drug possession.
  • Dirty Cop: Catherine's superiors to an extent, who have no problem damaging evidence to prevent the conviction of a local councillor who is supportive of them.
  • Dramatic Irony: Nevison Gallagher was persuaded by his wife and Ann to pay for the schooling of Kevin's daughters, not knowing that Kevin has arranged for Ann to be kidnapped.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: After finding out Tommy raped Ann, the other criminal, Lewis, is horrified.
    • By contrast, Ashley is clearly uncomfortable with the concept but would rather pretend its a natural development than admit he might have hired a monstrous liability.
  • Feeling Their Age: Catherine, after she runs down multiple flights of stairs and sprints several hundred metres across a council estate to chase down a drug dealers van.
    Sgt. Catherine Cawood: "You're getting too old for this Catherine, love."
  • Going Cold Turkey: Ann informs Catherine she will not allow herself to become dependent on the heroin administered to her during her time in captivity.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: After Ann helps a badly injured Catherine escape from Tommy Lee Royce, Catherine locks Ann in her police car while Ann begs her to get in the car with her. When Catherine slumps over, Ann screams at her not to die.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Ann makes her father and Catherine promise not to tell Mrs. Gallagher that Ann was raped in captivity, knowing that she will die of cancer before the trial begins.
  • Mouthy Kid: Ryan Cawood.
  • Never My Fault: By the end, Kevin is determined to sling blame for what's happened at everyone except himself.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Lewis Whippey receives one when he tries to stop Tommy from raping Ann again whilst she is bound and gagged to a chair.
    • Tommy later issues one to Catherine after she discovers where he is hiding Ann. Although she is able to mace him and escape, the damage is so bad she requires surgery to remove her spleen.
  • Not What It Looks Like: After rescuing her, a seriously injured Sgt. Cawood is able to lock Ann in her police car before passing out on the road. However, when backup arrives, they initially assume Ann was being arrested and assaulted the Sergeant in the process.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Nevison Gallagher offers to personally pay for the schooling of Kevin Weatherill's daughters and to leave Kevin in charge of the firm while he spends time with his dying wife, while Kevin knows Ann's kidnapping has already been set in motion.
  • Police Are Useless: Sgt. Cawood thinks this of her superiors when they show little interest in continuing the hunt for Royce, and have little idea of various locations he could have escaped to.
    Sgt. Catherine Cawood: "Do you even know what goes on on your patch?!"
    • Despite likely knowing his superiors will come after him, only two officers are assigned to protect Ashley after he agrees to testify. They also fail to notice an ominous looking motorbike approaching his car until it is too late.
  • Police Brutality: Catherine is guilty of this when she assaults a teenager in the back of her police car after he taunts her over the death of her colleague by singing "Another One Bites The Dust" .
  • Rape Discretion Shot: The scene cuts away after a masked Tommy asks a bound and gagged Ann if she is a virgin.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Lewis is on-board for kidnapping a girl and holding her hostage for money, but horrified on realizing that Tommy has raped her. Ashley keeps it together, but is also clearly perturbed by the development.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Phil Crabtree, a Detective Superintendent with the National Crime Agency.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Catherine's justification for always arresting the rich drug addicts: they'll use this trope to avoid punishment, so why not humiliate them while she can?
  • Silent Credits: At the end of Episode 4, Catherine is seriously injured by Tommy Lee Royce rescuing Ann. After getting Ann into the police car, she hits the panic button on her radio and collapses in the road. All we hear over the credits is her radio alarm beeping.
  • Sinister Surveillance: It is the UK after all. The NCA and police are able to use this to their advantage, as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) is used to prove Kevin did not travel to the service stations he said he did, exposing his complicity in the kidnapping.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: Catherine does this to great effect when she gets into an argument with her inspector about how little interest he has in catching Tommy Lee Royce after she returns to active duty.
    Insp. Mike Taylor: "Look, I'll have your stripes if you don't button it! Go into my office!"
    Sgt. Catherine Cawood: "Here, you can have them (rips off epaulettes and throws them to the ground) and you can shove them up your arse."
  • The Sociopath: Tommy.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Kevin would have gotten everything he'd wanted if he had just bided his time instead of hatching the kidnapping plot.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: After ramming Kirsten between a car and a van, then running her over again to finish her off, Tommy does a U-turn that deliberately runs over her dead body at least twice more before driving off.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Catherine sits to talk with her ex-husband at a restaurant after ordering a meal, but gets up and leaves just as it has been delivered to her table.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Kevin goes from recognizing his mistakes in the beginning to accusing everyone around him for causing them by the end.
    • Tommy transforms into a whimpering mess, the opposite of the calculating thug he was at the start.
  • Wham Scene: The murder of PC Kirsten McAskill. After pulling over the kidnappers' van for a busted tail light, she hears their victim banging from the inside. One of the kidnappers in another vehicle then drives into her, crushing her between the two vehicles. He then proceeds to drive over her twice.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Tommy Lee Royce knocks out Ann when kidnapping her, runs over PC Kirsten McAskill and brutally beats Sgt. Cawood throughout the series.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Having discovered Ryan is his son, Tommy eventually tries to murder him.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: Daniel recollects Catherine saying this to him after Becky's death.

    Series Two 
  • Amusing Injuries: Catherine and her colleagues are shown laughing hysterically after recounting an incident where she shot a human trafficker in the balls with a Taser.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Vicky, DS Wadsworth's abusive and manipulative mistress. Especially when we learn later that she's done everything she threatened to do before, ruining Neil's life in the process.
    • One of the chavs who harasses Darrell, who later gets his collarbone broken with a hammer after the latter has had enough. Also counts as Mugging the Monster.
  • Blackmail: When DS Wadsworth tells his mistress he wants to break it off with her, she drugs him, takes embarrassing sexually explicit photos of him whilst he is out cold and then threatens to send them to everyone he knows unless he pays her £1000 every month.
  • Big Fancy House: The Gallagher residence.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Darrell meets his end.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker: Why Ann winds up needing Plan B.
  • Captain Obvious: A paramedic who greets Catherine and Ann at a crime scene, which they were explicitly told was a suicide.
    Paramedic: "He's dead."
    Sgt. Catherine Cawood: "Thanks, love."
  • Car Cushion: An unexpected vehicle turns DS Wadsworth's probably-otherwise-survivable fall into a successful suicide.
  • Churchgoing Villain: It is strongly implied Royce has converted to Christianity during his time in prison, if the prayer beads and cross tattoos on his head and wrist are anything to go by. However it appears to be purely cosmetic, as he is still as deranged as he was in the previous series.
  • Clear My Name: For the first three episodes, Catherine is technically a suspect in a murder case until she can provide an alibi for herself, as she knew the victim ( Tommy Lee Royce's mother), and sent threatening messages to her before her death. It is made worse by the fact she can't remember where she was on the date in question and doesn't have anyone to account for her presence. However, it is later revealed she was at a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with Joyce, and had simply forgotten.
  • Cool Old Lady: Winnie, Catherine's Yugoslavian neighbour. She takes in Ilinka, a victim of human trafficking.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: Frances, in Tommy's eyes. She is more than willing to try and alter Ryan's views on both his dad and grandmother via her position as a teaching assistant, but is adamant about not doing anything illegal to further Tommy's desires (such as killing Catherine). However, after an in depth talk with him at the end of episode 4, it is hinted she may have changed her mind.
  • Detective Mole: DS Wadsworth, who ends up being on the team investigating the death of the woman he killed.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: PC Tekeli makes a less than tasteful joke about Catherine and a glass bottle to Ann Gallagher, especially when Catherine is technically a suspect in a murder where the victim was mutilated vaginally with a such an item. She is less than pleased, and after collecting herself forces him to skip lunch and check the oil levels on all the patrol cars.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: DS Wadsworth's last words, which appear from all evidence to be completely heartfelt.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Tommy's long blonde locks have been replaced with a short buzzcut since his incarceration.
  • Flashback Cut: Ann Gallagher has one while on the street where she was held captive by Tommy Lee Royce.
  • Groin Attack:
    • An unintentional one when Catherine fires a taser at a criminal attacking her during a raid, aiming for his 'chesticles' and hitting his testicles.
    • The serial killer the police are tracking strangles women to death, and then mutilates them vaginally with a broken glass bottle. DS Wadsworth later does this to Vicky, to make it look like the work of the killer and not him.
  • Heroic BSoD: Catherine, after DS Wadsworth's suicide.
  • In-Series Nickname: We learn that Catherine has two around the station. Ann claims they are affectionate, but the viewer may find that stretching it.
  • Killer Cop:
    • Tommy Lee Royce becomes convinced Catherine is the one who murdered his mother. It is made worse by the fact she left threatening messages on the victim's phone, which forces her colleagues to suspect her as a matter of procedure until she can be alibied and removed from the investigation.
    • DS John Wadsworth murders his abusive and manipulative mistress in a fit of rage, and then mutilates her to make it look like the work of a serial killer CID is pursuing.
  • Let Me At Her: Tommy, when he sees Catherine turn up at his mother's funeral. It takes four armed police officers to restrain him.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: Catherine mentions in passing to Ann that Tommy Lee Royce's full prison sentence was 500 years.
  • The Mafia: The Knezovich family, also known as the "Halifax Mafia", are suspected to be running the human trafficking ring Ilinka escaped from. Catherine even refers to them as the Yorkshire version of the Soprano family.
  • Mama Bear: Averted. You might well expect Catherine to completely go nuts when she finds out what "Miss Wealand" has been up to, but she is surprisingly gentle with her when she confronts her, because she knows who the real villain is: Tommy.
  • The Mole: Frances acts as this to an extent for Tommy, taking a job as a teaching assistant at Ryan's school and subtly trying to alter his views of both his father and Catherine.
  • Monster Fangirl: Frances Drummond. To make it worse she is working as a teaching assistant at Ryan's school, and appears to be part of a plan with Tommy to "liberate" him from Catherine.
  • Mrs. Robinson: Frances is old enough to be Tommy's mother, a fact that Catherine tries to use to convince her that the relationship is unhealthy.
  • Nepotism: DI Jodie Shackleford is the daughter of a high ranking member of the Yorkshire Police, which is how Catherine thinks she was able to ascend to the rank of DI at such a young age.
  • Never My Fault: DS Wadsworth has a short but intense bout of this in the Tesco parking lot. To be fair, even he seems to recognize the irony.
  • Offing the Offspring: Darrell's mom kills him with a shotgun after he confesses to being the Serial Killer.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: At some point before the second series starts it is revealed that Catherine was awarded the Queen's Police Medal for her actions in the first series. At Buckingham Palace. By Queen Elizabeth II herself.
  • Off the Wagon: Clare, an alcoholic, breaks her sober streak by getting drunk at a funeral wake, much to Catherine's disappointment.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted subtly. One of the serial killer's victims last name is Hughes, but despite being shown last series that this is the town where Sylvia Plath Hughes is buried, nothing is ever made of the connection.
  • Parental Incest: Darrell was fathered by his grandfather.
  • Police Are Useless: Two special constables seem determined to do the least amount of work possible even when dealing with a prostitute who was attacked in a similar manner to the murder victims. Catherine later reveals that one of them, Bryony, despite being a volunteer for over five years, is just as useless as when she first started.
    • However, Steph, the newer special is quick to apologise to Catherine for her negligence, and even emotionally offers to resign due to her mishandling of the situation.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: A furious Catherine delivers one to two special constables, who refused to aid and report a 19 year old prostitute who had been raped and instead just dumped her at a hospital entrance, despite the details of her attack matching the serial killer's MO to a tee.
  • Red Herring: Neil comes into the story like looking like a prime candidate for the serial killer title. Nope, turns out he's connected to the B-plot of Vicky's blackmail shenanigans instead.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Tommy, who is convinced Catherine murdered his mother, thinks she mutilated her vaginally after death to dispel any ideas the serial killer is female, as he believes the police will not contemplate that a woman could do such a thing to another woman.
  • Secret Police: When Clare falls off the wagon and gets drunk, she compares to Catherine's attempts to stop her to authoritarian policing.
    Catherine: "Where are you going?"
    Clare: (drunkenly) "Just going out for fag, as long as that's alright with the Gestapo."
  • Shipped in Shackles: Tommy is allowed to attend his mother's funeral up in Yorkshire, but is handcuffed for the entire duration and accompanied by four large, armed police officers.
  • Shout-Out: The Sopranos is straight-up name-checked when Sgt. Cawood is explaining who the Halifax Mafia family are.
  • Smug Snake: DS Wadsworth in spades when he thinks he's successfully added Vicky to the serial killer's list of victims.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Vicky acknowledges she is "playing with fire" by blackmailing a cop, but seems to believe she can handle it. She turns out to be dead wrong, as John later strangles her in a fit of drunken rage.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Averted. Ironic Echo of the first scene of Series 1, which ended (offscreen) much better for all involved.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Ann Gallagher, a former rich girl who was kidnapped, raped, and forcibly given heroin dependency in the first series, has now taken up a job as a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) and is planning on becoming a detective later in life.
    • Catherine, who was pretty badass anyway, is now qualified to carry a Taser with her on duty. She is later shown demonstrating it on a human trafficker stupid enough to approach her with a baseball bat.
  • The Unfought: Darrell dies before the police know what he did, while the man who held Ilinka prisoner, who seems to be foreshadowed as a potential threat, dies off screen before being able to do anything else of importance.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Several characters get their rounds with this trope in Series 2: DS Wadsworth, Clare, Ann, and Neil. Wadsworth's is the most severe case, as he wasn't technically drunk, but had been drugged.