Follow TV Tropes


Series / Happy Valley

Go To
"Stuck in speedbump city, where the only thing that's pretty is the thought of getting out"

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 (2014-2023).

The series focuses on Sergeant Catherine Cawood, a no-nonsense police officer and grandmother in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire (nicknamed "Happy Valley" by real life cops due to its high levels of drug related crime). In the first series, she has just learnt that Tommy Lee Royce is being released from prison after doing time for drugs offences; 9 years prior, he brutally raped her daughter, and after she had his son, she committed suicide. 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.

The third and final series picks up six years later. Ryan is now a troubled teenager, who has a new curiosity about Tommy. Meanwhile, Catherine is about to retire from the police force. However, the discovery of human remains leads her straight back to Tommy for one final case.

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:

    open/close all folders 

    General Tropes 
  • Action Girl: Catherine, though she herself lampshades that she's a bit old for it. She can often be found chasing after perps through council estates, taking beatings, and ignoring orders to stay away from dangerous situations. In the Series 2 finale, when John Wadsworth realises the jig's up, he gets in his car and speeds off; Catherine gives chase, and when he gets out, follows him on-foot to a train station. He gets onto the tracks, which prompts Shepherd to radio in to tell her not to follow. She follows anyway.
  • 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.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Catherine takes a lot of punishment throughout each series, and her body shows it. Early in Series 1, she goes to arrest someone distributing drugs from an ice cream van, and gets kicked in the face for her trouble; for the next two episodes, the white of her right eye is full of blood, and that side of her face is badly bruised. Later that series, she's brutally assaulted by Tommy after he discovers her in his house, so badly that she needs surgery to remove her spleen. She ends up being carried out of the house with the entire right side of her body drenched in blood. Frequently in subsequent series, too, she's assaulted and sports noticeable bruising for a while.
  • Berserk Button: Do not ever refer to Tommy Lee Royce as Ryan's dad around Catherine. She will absolutely flip.
  • Big Bad: Tommy Lee Royce. He and Catherine are inextricably linked due to his history with her daughter, and every series revolves around their back-and-forth. When in Series 1 he finds out he had a son with Becky, he becomes psychotically hateful of Catherine for, as he sees it, taking his child from him. Thus he dedicates his every action to getting revenge on her, until at the very last, he sees Ryan's childhood photos in an album and realises what a nice life he's had. She, meanwhile, is dreadfully terrified of Ryan becoming like him, and treats him like a boogeyman around her family. Series 2 has Royce grooming a woman into trying to turn Ryan against Catherine, and Series 3 has him mounting an escape attempt an a last-ditch effort to get away with Ryan.
  • 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 Becky, after she was raped by Tommy Lee Royce and gave birth to his child.
  • 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.
  • Friend in the Press: Catherine] ex-husband Richard is a local newspaper journalist who transitions to writing online articles when his paper shifts away from print. Whilst their marriage is long over, the two maintain a friendly relationship, with Richard always happy to tip Catherine off to anything his sources uncover that he thinks might be useful to her.
  • 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. By the end of the third series, she is still drug-free.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Even though the main protagonists ultimately get happy endings, they will never be free of their traumas and addictions.
    • It's best illustrated by Catherine Cawood and Ann Gallager, both of whom have to live with the trauma of what Tommy Lee Royce's crimes have done to them and their families for the rest of their lives. Throughout the series, that spans over six years, they still have to deal with the occasional resurfacing of those horrible memories. But it also shows that their family and friends fully support them. Even Becky shows up to give Catherine some much-needed comfort.
    Nevison Gallager: I love you.
    Ann Gallager: (nods) I know.
    Nevison Gallager: And he can't touch you. He will die in there.
    • Losing a child to suicide shatters a family and it takes years to heal from it, if ever.
  • Television Geography: Minor. While filmed in Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden, the distances between locations are suspect.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Tommy Lee Royce has one at the end of each series.

    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.
  • Anonymous Public Phone Call:
    • Towards the end of the first episode, after getting cold feet about the kidnapping plot, Kevin Weatherhill tries to contact Ashley Cowgill to talk him out of it, but Ashley refuses to take any calls from him, knowing that if anything goes wrong the police will go through their phone records and could find the connection. Kevin eventually finds a phone box to talk to him, unfortunately by this point his fears and timidness have whittled him to the point that all he can accomplish is trying to ensure that Ashley's men won't hurt Ann, which Ashley just brushes off, stating as long as things go to plan they won't.
    • In the same episode, after contacting Nevison on Ann’s mobile to tell him they've taken his daughter, Ashley directs him to a public phone box by the service station to properly relate the terms of the ransom.
  • 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".
  • Book Ends: 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 
  • Affectionate Nickname: Catherine eventually learns her squad has a few nicknames for her, one of which is "Mrs. Trunchbull". She presses several of them about what they are, though they all prove reticent to tell her, saying she won't like them.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Villain: Frances Drummond. When Catherine finds out Ryan's new tutor is someone who's been visiting Tommy Lee Royce in prison, she surprisingly doesn't flip out. Instead, she notifies the police of her fraud (she'd been impersonating her dead sister), and goes to her house while she's under house arrest just to ask her why she did it. Later, she finds evidence that she was just one of many woman Royce had been grooming, and empathetically breaks the news to her. Overall, the series goes to pains at the end to stress that she was as much a victim of Tommy's grooming as any of his other victims.
  • 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.
  • Berserk Button: Catherine's is pressed when Frances anonymously leaves Ryan a Scalextric for his birthday, along with a card from "Dad". The moment she sees it, she has a full-on breakdown, and furiously breaks apart the Scalextric and packs it up, talking about throwing it in a bin, while Ryan looks on, confused.
  • 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. Neil later confesses that the same woman did the same thing to him; it got to a point where he couldn't afford her ransom anymore, at which point she made good on the threat, causing the breakdown of his marriage and the loss of his job.
  • Big Fancy House: The Gallagher residence.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Frances Drummond is apprehended, and her manipulation of Ryan ended. Tommy's still in prison, no closer to getting out. John Wadsworth, who killed a bunny-boiler that was blackmailing him, has met a kind of justice. However, Ryan's sending letters to his "dad" without Catherine's knowledge, and her worst fear is the two of them having any contact. The final scene has her looking at him with equal parts love and fear, fear that he was born like Tommy and will grow up to be like him.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Darrell meets his end. After he confesses to the murders of the prostitutes, his mother tearfully takes up a hunting rifle and shoots him point-blank in the back of the head while he eats breakfast, blissfully unaware.
  • 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.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • After killing her son, Alison Garrs downs a bunch of pills and alcohol. Catherine discovers her and saves her life.
    • DS Wadsworth. Watching the dominoes fall in his final few minutes is brutal.
  • 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.
  • Mercy Kill: Alison Garrs kills her son Darrell to spare him from going to prison as she knows he would suffer.
  • 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.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Frances Drummond seemingly has one when she's confronted with the fact that Tommy has multiple fiances.
  • 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. Regardless, she is competent, knows her job, and—alongside her boss—correctly deduces the motive for Vicky Fleming's murder.
  • 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 Alison 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 Helen's funeral wake, much to Catherine's disappointment.
    • Neal, Clare's boyfriend. Vicky Fleming blackmailed him, ruined his life, and drove him to alcoholism. He falls off the wagon when he hears about Vicky's death and the trauma of what she did to him resurfaces.
  • 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. Catherine encourages her not to and says she'll be pissed off at her if she does.
  • "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.
    Catherine: (entering the break room at the police station to find Bryony and Steph eating pizza and playing pool) Oh, you're back. You've been out for a pizza and now you're playing pool.
    Steph: Hiya, Sarge.
    Bryony: Do you want some?
    Catherine: Shall I tell you what I've been doing? I've just briefed the night crew on an arrest strategy for a fella that's raped and assaulted a 19-year-old; they've just gone to pick him up just now. She's gone off to the OPAL unit in Bradford so we can get her properly examined, and now, I'm going to wake Mr. Shepherd up and tell him I think he might want to look at this bloke because he might - just might - be the twisted little bastard that's been killing prostitutes.
    Bryony: Really?
    Catherine: So what I want to know from you is - (pointing at Bryony) yes, really. What I really want to know from you is, is when you were called out to assist her, why you did the absolute minimum required, and why her friend's ringin' me at home, at four o'clock in the morning to come out and do your job for ya.
    Bryony: We-we were just...
    Catherine: You dropped her at the 'ospital doors, you didn't even see her inside. She didn't go in after you'd left - she was too upset, she was too frightened. She stood, in the cold, for an hour-and-a-half, frozen rigid, waiting for a bus to get home!
    Bryony: We were always told to take everything they said with a pinch of salt, and it's been a busy night. We're only just on our meal break and we're knocking off in an hour-
    Catherine: "They"? Prostitutes? We're talking about a vulnerable 19-year-old! 'Er face was bruised, 'er neck was bruised - that in't someone cryin' wolf!
    Bryony: It were dark!
    Catherine: You didn't even take a statement! I'm just ignoring that. No, I'm not - YOU'VE GOT A TORCH, HAVEN'T YA?! I've had a go at the night sergeant for sending a couple of 'obby-bobbies out on a job that needed somebody with the PROPER skill set and a bit more wool on their backs. And I know it's been a busy night, but for God's sakes, there is somebody out there targeting prostitutes - did you not think?! You know, you lot, you come in 'ere and give us four hours a week if we're lucky, IF you can be bothered. The least you can do when you get here is engage!
    Steph: I'm sorry, Sergeant.
    Catherine: Right, I'm going home for 40 minutes to say 'appy birthday to my grandson, get changed and then straight back in 'ere in time for the eight o'clock shift. I'm not reporting you to Professional Standards, although God knows why - I should be doing. But please, just learn something from it. You'll need to make statements, both of ya.
  • 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.
  • Villain Ball: DS Wadsworth might have gotten away with murdering Vicky Fleming—or at least made himself less obvious as a suspect—had he not made it look like the work of a serial killer that he's involved in investigating. By dumping her body and a using a detail known only by the investigators and the real killer, it leads the police right to him.
  • 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.

     Series Three 

  • Amicable Exes: Richard and Catherine.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Part of Tommy's escape involves pretending to be a plainclothes police officer to get out of the court house fast. His clean-cut appearance and suit along with being in a hurry is enough to either confuse or get people to comply.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The series ends more sweet than bitter. On the bitter side, the main characters still have to live with their addictions and trauma. Joanna's parents and her own girls have to deal with the loss of their daughter and mother along with their father Rob going to prison for his crimes. Another family has to deal with the devastation when Faisal Bhatti is exposed as Joanna's murderer, and life in "Happy Valley" still has its ongoing problems with drugs and organized crime. But, on the sweet side, all the main characters do get relatively happy endings. The head of the Halifax Mafia gets taken down. Tommy Lee Royce is finally gone and with him his rein of terror. Catherine herself retires, finds peace, and is ready to move on and go on an adventure.
  • Call-Back:
    • The gun used to kill a man that was found at a reservoir was also used to kill Ashley Cowgill back in Series 1.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Josip Matic, who was part of the money laundering operation and imprisoned his girlfriend in her own flat, literally gets caught with this pants down trying to escape from the police by Catherine. To elaborate, she tackles him to the ground, gripping his lose-fitting pants and pulling them down during the struggle.
  • Cool Car: What's particularly noteworthy is that the ones owned by the bad guys play a role in their downfall.
    • Catherine's well-used British green Land Rover Defender 110 that she bought to fix up and drive to the Himalayas when she retires. It starts out as The Alleged Car with a faulty alternator and a crusty appearance. By the end of the series, it's in much better condition and ready for her adventure.
    • Rob Hepworth's late-model bright red Audi RS4 Avant wagon.
    • Josip Matic's Toyota MR2.
    • Ivan and Matija's silver Honda Civic 2.0 hatchback.
  • Domestic Abuse: Rob Hepworth is a textbook example of an abusive husband. He regularly abuses his wife Joanna. He subjects her to psychological, emotional and physical abuse. To wit, he isolates her from her friends and family, flushes the medication to treat her mental illness down the toilet, controls the finances and even puts a padlock on their refrigerator.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Danelle, a legally blind person, who died either while trying to escape from her flat or killed herself by going out the window. Her boyfriend, Josip Matic, who turns out to be working for the Halifax Mafia, was using her flat to store the mob's cash and locked her up against her will when she found out.
    • Tommy Lee Royce, who douses himself with petrol, downs alcohol and pills and sets himself on fire. Catherine puts him out but he later dies in the hospital.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • Catherine Cawood retires from the police with a bang. On her last day, she takes down Tommy Lee Royce, Darius Knezevic and identifies Joanna's killer. She also finds peace with the loss of her daughter and moves on.
    • Alison Garrs, the mother of Darrell Garrs introduced in Series 2. After murdering her son, attempting suicide, losing the farm and serving several years in prison, she ends up rebuilding her life. She finds work as a fork lift driver, becomes friends with Catherine—who helps her find better-paying work—and even helps Catherine fix her Land Rover.
    • Ann Gallagher and Daniel Cawood. After Daniel's divorce in Series 2 and Ann's trauma in Series 1, they end up Happily Married during the time skip. Ann joins CID and becomes a detective.
    • Nevison Gallagher, Ann's father. After losing his wife Helen to cancer and enduring the kidnapping, assault and rape of his daughter Ann, he ends the Series happy, having gained the Cawoods as family and looking forward to becoming a grandfather.
    • Clare Cawood and Neil. The former, who falls off the wagon in Series 2, remains sober and fully reconciles with Catherine. The latter, having had his life destroyed by Vicky and became an alcoholic, is also sober and rebuilt his life with Clare.
  • Evil Teacher: Rob Hepworth, a physical education teacher and football coach. He tries to chase down two students who badmouthed him in his car, locks their bicycles with one of his own locks in retaliation and tries to blame Ryan for vandalizing his car; which is implied to have been his own doing in order have control over him. The "vandalism" turns out to be nothing that can't be fixed with a cloth and an air compressor. Catherine is quick to point out that Rob has no evidence that it was Ryan and even if he did, no criminal case since there wasn't any damage. During one of his conversations with Ryan, it seems as if he's trying to groom him and even eyes him as he's walking away creepily. In the finale, it's revealed that he was exhorting indecent pictures from one of his male students.
    • He was also working as a teacher when he and Joanna met during her A-Levels and encouraged her to drop out so they can marry.
  • Good All Along: Ryan. The end of Series 2 and throughout Series 3 initially sets it up to look like he had fallen under the sway of Tommy. It then turns out that Ryan visited Tommy to find out on his own who he is. When he's questioned about his communications with Tommy, he cooperates fully and helps track him down. Notably, at no point in the entire series does Ryan display any propensity for violence that Tommy does.
  • Great Escape: Darius Knezevic helps Tommy Lee Royce escape from custody during a sentencing hearing by organizing a distraction and providing clothing, a bicycle, and housing. It later falls apart when the latter thinks he's being setup to be killed.
  • Happily Married: During the time skip, Ann and Daniel ended up in a relationship, got married and bought a house. Clare and Neil also married and Ryan now calls the latter "Uncle Neil".
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Catherine and Richard are talking about Knezevic running for the Bradford city council, Richard doubts it'll happen. Catherine retorts that it has already happened.
    (about the leader of an organized crime family getting elected to the local city council)
    Richard Cawood: That can't happen. Surely.
    Catherine Cawood: Why, are you serious? You do know they elected one of the biggest liars and tax dodgers in history to be the so-called leader of the free world across the pond not so long since.
  • Ms. Fixit: Alison Garrs, who worked on a farm, is seen replacing the alternator on Catherine's Land Rover. She also points out the various safety problems in her flat, from the window that opens too far to the lack of a sprinkler system.
  • Never My Fault: With the exception of Joanna's murder, Rob Hepworth tries to downplay all his other misdeeds when things come crashing down on him.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Darius and Tommy both deserve credit. By sending his brother, Zeljko, and his Lieutenant, Victor, to move Tommy, he ends up not only wiping out most of the Halifax Mafia's leadership when Tommy ends up killing them, but also leaves himself vulnerable to arrest when Tommy gives a dying declaration implicating him in a murder. This effectively decimates his organization.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Rob Hepworth accuses Ryan of vandalism, he has one when his grandmother turns out to be Catherine; the same person who arrested his wife for drug possession and suspects him of spousal abuse.
    • The school superintendent, Mr. Baines, has a slight one after Catherine picks apart Hepworth's accusation and realizes that he wasn't being completely honest with him.
    • Ivan and Matija when they go to pick up Josip to kill him and watch him get arrested instead.
  • Pet the Dog: Tommy Lee Royce of all people gives Catherine the evidence she needs to take down Knezevic by giving her a dying declaration. He also recognizes her as the mother that Ryan needed.
  • Properly Paranoid: Possibly as the police do raid the place not long after he leaves. When Darius Knezevic's brother Zeljko, Victor, and one of their associates suddenly show up to move Tommy, he immediately suspects they're actually going to kill him and takes a kitchen knife with him. This is further reinforced when they try to put him in trunk of their Alleged Car, then in the front seat where he points out that he'd be highly visible before getting in the back seat.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Ivan Sertic and Matija Jankovic decide to cut their loses and leave town. But they don't move fast enough and are arrested.
  • The Reveal: Ryan confides to Daniel that the reason he visits Tommy in prison is that he wanted to find out for himself who Tommy is. While he feels sad for him, he ultimately does not see him as a father and helps investigators track him down.
  • Those Two Guys: Ivan Sertic and Matija Jankovic are almost always together.
  • Time Skip: Series 3 picks up six years after the end of Series 2.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Ann Gallagher ends up becoming a detective halfway through Series 3.
  • Villain Ball: Ivan Sertic and Matija Jankovic, low level enforcers for Darius Knezevic, are the dumbest and laziest criminals ever conceived. Tasked with storing and laundering cash for their boss' operations, they bring in another low-level criminal named Josip Matic that leads to their end of the operation being exposed, a loss of cash and ultimately Darius Knezevic's downfall. Besides that:
    • They are slow to realize how much of a liability Josip is and fail to take him out until they are are ordered to; even then, they don't treat the matter with urgency.
    • When they go to the area to pick Josip Matic up, they circle the street when they see a large police presence instead of quietly leaving. Catherine spots their shifty behavior and notes the their car's license plate when they finally do leave. After Tommy's escape, which they played a part in, Catherine hands over their details to the investigators. It enables them to track down the car and arrest the pair.
    • Ivan is more focused on his upcoming marriage than the danger that he and his partner are in.
    • Despite the very real danger of getting killed by their boss, Ivan still thinks it's a good idea to steal from him and abscond with a mere thirty-thousand Pounds in cash; which they just carelessly leave on the floor in their flat. This is after bringing in Josip Matic to work with them, failing in their assigned task to kill him and facing their pissed-off boss, Darius Knezevic, who brutally beats and pisses on Ivan.
    • When they're arrested, Ivan is still more concerned about being late for his wedding than the very serious legal jeopardy that they're in.
    • And their housekeeping is abysmal.
  • Villain Decay: Darius Knezevic starts out as a person who did his own dirty work and untouchable. By the end of the series, he is under constant surveillance, is suspected of multiple murders, ends up losing his brother and one of his lieutenants, and gets arrested after Tommy implicates him in a murder.
    • The people who work for Darius have also gotten lazy and complacent, leading to them hiring people who expose their operations and fail to move fast enough to either take out any potential liabilities quickly or leave town.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Darius Knezevic is making an effort to clean up his public image so he can be elected to the local council which, in turn, would allow him to expand his criminal activities even further.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Ryan. After Tommy's escape, he contacts Ryan via his video game console and asks him to go with him to Europe to start over. When interviewed by the police the following day, he tells them about the contact and hands over his gaming console so they can track him down.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • Josip Matic. After his stupidity calls attention to the local mafia's money laundering operation and the loss of a large sum of cash, Darius orders his death. Thanks to the man's stupidity and CCTV footage of him and his distinctive sports car, the police track him down and arrest him.
    • A less lethal example with Ivan and Matija.
  • Zen Survivor: Alison Garrs.