Follow TV Tropes


Series / Homeland

Go To
Who's the hero? Who's the threat?

"The nation sees a hero. She sees a threat."

Homeland (2011-2020) is a psychological Spy Drama loosely based off the Israeli series Hatufim (literally "Abductees", English title Prisoners of War) sharing an executive producer, co-developed by Gideon Raff, Alex Gansa and Alex Bererson, produced by Showtime and set during The War on Terror.

A raid on a terrorist safehouse in the Middle East leads to the rescue of USMC Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), who has been missing in action for eight years. Brody receives a hero's welcome from his wife Jessica (Morena Baccarin), CIA Deputy Director David Estes (David Harewood), the Vice President and the entire country — but not from Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a former CIA Operations Officer. Based on intelligence from her last (and completely unauthorised) mission, Carrie believes that Brody is a sleeper agent waiting to be activated. With the help of her mentor, CIA Middle East section chief Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), Carrie sets out to prove that Brody, seen by the world as an American hero, is really a traitor.


The show premiered in October 2011 and has won Golden Globes and Emmys for best series and best main actors (both Danes and Lewis) in the drama category. In April 2018, Claire Danes confirmed that the eighth season is the final season which was released on February 9, 2020.

This series provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • The Mole in the CIA arc has never been fully followed.
    • Many, many subplots were completely dropped in the wake of the Langley bombing and then several more when Brody is captured by the Quds.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In the Season 3 episode "The Yoga Play", the agent who has been listening in on Dana and Leo's conversations tells Carrie that it's just "Romeo and Juliet". Carrie replies "you do know how Romeo and Juliet ends, do you?" Of course, Claire Danes does know how it ends.
    • In "State of Independence," Saul is questioned by authorities in Beirut; when one of them examines his passport, he asks whether "Berenson" is a Jewish name, and Saul replies it's an American name. In the Criminal Minds episode "Lessons Learned," a Guantanamo Bay inmate asks the same question of Mandy Patinkin's character, Jason Gideon, and Gideon gives the same answer.
  • Advertisement:
  • Adaptation Distillation: The original series had three kidnapped soldiers: one whose wife was faithful to him, and he has two children he doesn’t know; one whose wife left him for his brother several years after he was kidnapped; and a third one who was returned dead. At the first season finale we found out he’s alive and well, but he converted to Islam and joined the terrorists; at the end of the second, he turns out to have been on Israel’s side all along. The American adaptation has just one. Or rather two. However, both of the kidnapped soldiers account for all three of those in the original series (although Walker's religion is unknown).
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: When she gets manic flights, Carrie can speak in word salad (a.k.a. schizophasia). As occurs with schizophasia, the words she uses are connected on a semantic level. Carrie's ravings have a morphological connection too: she's very fond of alliterations. It goes even further, when it turns out that Carrie's Colour Coding is connected through pseudorhyme to different phases in Abu Nazir's life: in yellow, he lay fallow, purple indicates his purpose. When arranged as a colour spectrum, this forms a time line, so in a case of fridge brilliance, Carrie made a connection between the chronology and the chromatology, again words with a very similar morphology.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • CIA's HQ in Langley gets blown up in the Season 2 finale.
    • In Season 4, the US embassy in Islamabad is stormed by Haqqanni.
  • Ambition Is Evil: The Waldens engage in several cover-ups and reprehensible deeds because the goal of the Presidency justifies anything to them, David Estes follows suit as his job is on the line. This is counterpointed by Carrie and Saul, who try to do the right thing, career be damned, and are given a hard time for it. Zigzagged with Brody.
    Walden: Fuck your family. The highest office in this land. You don't walk away from that.
  • Anti-Villain: Brody, the Villain Protagonist of the first few seasons, is a misguided but sympathetic would-be terrorist.
  • Anyone Can Die: Main Characters — David Estes, Abu Nazir, Vice President Walden, Nicholas Brody, Allison Carr, Peter Quinn, Dante Allen, Haissam Haqqani, Max Piotrowski. Recurring Characters — Cynthia Walden, Finn Walden, Tom Walker, Aileen Morgan, Raqim Faisel, Elizabeth Gaines, Lynn Reed, Aayan Ibrahim, Fara Sherazi, Astrid, President Ralph Warner. And a host of lesser characters that get killed off in droves.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • Used in a tense scene between Brody and Dana in "Marine One".
    • Dana does this again to an extent in "I'll Fly Away", when she asks Mike about his sudden disappearance from the family's lives upon Nicholas's return.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Two examples:
    • No, you do not have to bury a Quran because someone threw it on the floor.
    • In "The Choice", Saul recites the Kaddish incorrectly, without a proper prayer quorum and including a nonsensical line in Aramaic.
  • Artistic Title: The show's opening credits in the early seasons feature some memorable imagery. Set over light jazz, they imply an origin story for Carrie Mathison, watching news broadcasts of terrorist attacks against the United States when she was younger, along with images of young Carrie wearing a lion costume, and shots of a topiary maze with of her and Brody, implying the complex nature of their "relationship".
  • As You Know...: Used very frequently.
    • Used in the first episode debriefing by Carrie to convey the importance of the fresh intel a prisoner can give away during the first 72 hours under captivity.
    • Berenson to CIA agent in season two opener: "Two days ago Israel bombed five nuclear sites deep inside Iran!"
    • An egregious example in season three involves two lawyers openly talking on the phone in public, discussing their criminal activities.
  • The Atoner: Carrie wants to atone for missing seeing 9/11 coming.
  • Auto Erotica: Carrie and Brody have sex on the back seat of Brody's car.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Subverted. Carrie purposely chooses warzone postings to get away from her baby.
  • Badass Decay: Invoked with Brody. In three seasons he changes from a hardened terrorist who can hold his secrets and poise to a decrepit fugitive addicted to heroin. A Training Montage shows that he gets back in shape to accomplish one last mission.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil:
    • Brody was tortured and broken while in custody, but Abu Nazir gains his loyalty by being kind to him after years of abuse.
    • Walker also turns evil, apparently without being shown kindness, and he shows much more ruthlessness than Brody. They did make Brody beat Walker to the point of what he thought was death, which is bodily and psychological torture for Walker, and at least psychological for Brody. So trauma from that may have helped Walker turn.
  • The Big Board: Saul draws the undesirable task of trying to file Carrie's color-coded Room Full of Crazy into some kind of order, and this is the result. There's a more straightforward example in the CIA office.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Combined with Sinister Surveillance-Carrie does this to the Brody family based on gut instinct and initially without a warrant.
  • Bilingual Bonus: One that was entirely unintended by the show's creators, as it turns out. The Arabic-speaking set designers hired to work the second episode of the fifth season had a low opinion of the show, so they decorated the walls of the set with messages like "'Homeland' is racist."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Carrie becomes Saul's new spy in Russia, but for that to happen, she must live in exile in Russia, the lover of a Russian spy she's working. It's not certain whether her family will ever learn the truth about her.
  • Bookends: Season 2 premiere ends with a smile. Season 2 finale ends with a smile, too.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Dana showed signs of this at the beginning of Season 1. As time passes, she becomes Brody's emotionally closest family member, but she keeps the attitude.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: After a drone strike, Carrie says that the Taliban would've said that the strike hit a mosque, an orphanage, or a mosque for orphans.
  • Broken Bird: Carrie, especially by the end of season one, as her life just goes to pieces.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Brody's standing among his family, friends and the whole nation gets smashed when his immolation recording is revealed to the public.
    • Ambassador Martha Boyd in Season 4. She is undermined in front of the Pakistanis by both Lockhart and the President, her embassy is attacked by terrorists who leave over 30 people dead, and her husband commits treason, which threatens to ruin her reputation in the State Department by association.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Carrie is bipolar, but still an extremely talented spy. She works to conceal her illness during the early episodes, but is able to more openly work with it in later seasons.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • Dana goes off on her mother because Jessica is hiding the fact that she had been sleeping with her father's best friend while he was MIA.
    • Dana does this again in season 2, this time to Brody, for being such a poor father and husband. She goes as far as saying that Mike was a far better parent than Brody.
  • The Cassandra:
    • Nobody wants to believe Mathison that Brody is an Al-Qaeda agent. ...until "State of Independence".
    • As unlikely as it may seem in-universe, Lauder in "New Car Smell".
  • Catapult Nightmare: Brody at the start of Ep.2.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: In "A Gettysburg Address," Quinn and the team investigating the tailor's shop are expecting FBI backup. The masked, body-armoured team that shows up proceeds to slaughter the lot of them.
  • The Chessmaster: Nazir, his game goes on even after his death.
  • Character Blog:
  • Censored Title: Inverted, then Averted. "The Motherfucker With The Turban" was listed as the prospective title for Season 2 Episode 11, then when it aired, the title was changed to "In Memoriam". The Powers That Be were hiding the fact that it was Abu Nazir's death episode.
  • The Chains of Commanding: The war on terror is is a very Dirty Business full of hard decisions, which takes a toll on the ones who have to face difficult choices and live by them.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Brody's immolation tape steps in and out of the story and is finally released to the public in the Season 2 finale.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In season 2 premiere, viewers learn that Israel just bombed Iranian nuclear facility. In season 2 finale, Iran hits back by bombing CIA's headquarters.
  • Children Are Innocent: Abu Nazir's son is quite adorable and his death is a legitimate Tear Jerker.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Inverted. The FBI is portrayed as gung-ho, incompetent, and racist.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: One episode alone can put the likes of Cliffhanger to shame with Mathison especially being particularly salty.
  • Cold Sniper: Walker. He's one of the best shots in the Corps so the unlikelihood of Walker missing several consecutive shots is an important detail brought up often by other characters.
  • Consummate Liar:
    • Brody, who is able to beat a lie detector. It comes close to a deconstruction in that the constant deception takes a serious toll on him and several times he just wants everything to be over, even if it means jail.
    • The various CIA operatives all have to be excellent liars.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: Most of the high-ranking members of the Pakistani ISI in season 4, with the exception of Col. Khan, are sympathetic towards the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. This leads to them being less than helpful toward their supposed American "allies", especially when Saul and Carrie's convoy is bombed and the US Embassy is attacked.
  • Cowboy Cop: Carrie breaks CIA regulations on a customary basis. Slightly deconstructed, in that she's widely seen as a liability and has, at least officially, been sacked.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: At the end of "A Gettysburg Address": SWAT armor and assault rifles vs. shirts and handguns. It isn't pretty.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The death of his pupil Issa in an American drone attack is what pushes Brody over the edge and sets him in the path of revenge against the Vice President.
  • Dark Secret: Carrie's Bipolar Disorder/Psychosis as well as her affair with Brody. In "The Vest," her psychosis causes her to cross the line with Brody, who tells Estes about the affair and gets her fired.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: the only way Brody can have some sort of intimacy with his wife, because of his time as a POW. Carrie has a very awkward moment when she sees that.
  • Dating Catwoman: Carrie and Brody.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Virgil.
  • Death Is Dramatic:
    • Typically whenever a main character bites it, their death tends to be drawn out and accompanied with somber music as others mourn the victim. Most notable is in Season 8 with Haissam Haqqani, who is dragged from his prison cell, ties to a wall, and shot by a firing squad while Saul visibly flinches as he dies. And then it's revealed he survived the shots, so the executioners shoot him again.
    • Season 8 also has a notable inversion juxtaposing the above example in the same episode. Max Piotrowski has absolutely no buildup or foreshadowing before his death. At first it looks like his captors are going to move him to a different location. And then one of them nonchalantly shoots Max three times so quickly that you'll miss it if you blink.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Brody slowly loses his prominence as his arc peters out. Then he dies at the conclusion of Season 3.
  • Deep Cover Agent: Carrie fears Brody has been allowed to go home to become one. The couple introduced buying a house with the laundered necklace money are revealed to be ones too.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Carrie almost crosses this in "State of Independence", but at the last moment bails.
  • Determinator:
    • Carrie, bordering on The Unfettered.
    • Peter Quinn works even while he's recovering from his injuries.
    • Abu Nazir's strategy as a whole, he remarks Al-Qaeda will keep going at it even if takes 300 years to succeed.
  • Deuteragonist: After Brody's arc fades out and Carrie becomes the sole protagonist, Saul gets a larger proportionate presence in the show and becomes the Deuteragonist.
  • Dirty Coward: For all of his big talk about standing up to the government, O'Keefe runs and hides whenever there is violence, even when he's the one who caused it.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Brody's true allegiance is a mystery from the very start. This doesn't stop even after the CIA turn him into a mole.
    • However, Nazir now knows for sure that the CIA has Brody in its clutches. Even so, his hold over Brody is still enough to get a chance to assassinate the Vice-President.
    • The end of Season 2 implies that Brody himself was being played. Nazir used Brody's attachment to Carrie to take out VP Walden, then Brody's car was used in the attack during Walden's funeral, then al-Qaeda implicates Brody in the attack.
  • Driven to Suicide: Aileen, whose lover was killed by her own side, by the prospect of spending the rest of her life in an underground prison cell, receiving only one hour out each day, to walk around a little bit and visit the prison library, never to see the sun again, with no hope of even having her conditions improve, much less ever regaining her freedom, and with no friends or family who care to visit her. Saul fails to see it coming until it's too late.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first two seasons are just as much focused on Brody as Carrie. In season 3, Brody's plot line is petering out, and focus is shifting toward Carrie. From seasons 4 through 8, the show is all about the continuing adventures of Carrie.
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: The CIA uses sleep deprivation (via sporadic bursts of Grind Core and bright lights) to supplement their interrogation of Brody's former guard.
  • Et Tu, Brute?:
    • Walden has a very Shakespearean end; he's betrayed and (at least/last) metaphorically killed by Brody, who as far as Walden knows, is only his political son and protege.
      Brody: You still don't get it, do you? I'm killing you.
    • Abu Nazir can hardly believe Brody has betrayed him.
    • Brody, while in Iran, manages to get the drop on Danesh Akbari and apparently cements his decision after finding out Nazir set up Brody's reinsertion plan in the General's office. All this after Brody has gained the man's confidence.
  • "Eureka!" Moment:
    • In the first episode, while Carrie was in a bar and about to go home with a guy, she has one while she watches the musicians. She fixates on the bassist's fingers moving and remembered that Brody's fingers moved in a pattern whenever he was on air.
    • Carrie's final act in the first season is to have one realizing that Brody called out Abu Nazir's son's name in his sleep. She makes an effort to ingrain the revelation in her memory before passing out for shock treatment. Unfortunately, it causes short-term memory loss in some cases...
  • Everything Is Online: In the second season, the terrorists remotely access Vice President Walden's pacemaker and set it to a defibrillate test mode in order to give him a heart attack.
  • False Flag Operation: An angry young Muslim man who'd been charged with (and cleared of) supporting terrorism is set up to look like a suicide bomber after he was released by some government officials who wanted to stop the President-elect's reform.
  • Field Promotion: Saul, a Section Chief, is promoted to Director of the CIA at the start of Season 3 due to the rest of the chain of command being killed in the Langley bombing.
  • Flashback: Used heavily to explore what happened to Brody during his time in captivity. The prime plot device of "Crossfire," where the motivation behind Abu Nazir's plot is revealed.
  • Flashback Cut: Sometimes. The scene can then be expanded on with the further flashback later in the episode.
  • Flashback Echo: Sometimes to show/contrast with what is happening in Brody's present and the link to his torture.
  • Foreign Remake: Transatlantic Equivalent for an Israeli series, Hatufim, about recently released prisoners of Lebanon.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Carrie's Notepad Full of Crazy contains the line "you killed my son. Prepare to die.", a Shout-Out to co-star Mandy Patinkin's role in The Princess Bride as well as Abu Nazir's motivation.
  • From a Certain Point of View: A staple of the show, it's the realm of intelligence after all.
    • Depicted in "Crossfire". Compare Abu Nazir's version of a drone strike in Iraq to the version given by the fictional U.S. Vice-President.
    • Played with in "The Vest". Saul finds out that Carrie is bipolar and tries to cover for her in front of an inquisitive Estes. Saul says Carrie may not return to work right away after the bombing; Estes asks "What's wrong?". Saul says "doctors' orders," but does not say that the doctor is Carrie's sister.
    • In the Season 1 finale, Brody tells Abu Nazir the plan failed due to a faulty vest, which is true, but he doesn't mention he couldn't bring himself to push the button again later, after he had repaired the device.
    • In "State of Independence", Jessica doesn't believe that Brody gets flat-tired in a middle of nowhere. In fact, he does.
    • "In "Q&A", Brody working with the CIA on matters of national security is true, the fact they are working "on him" and he's there in his quality of terrorist is omitted.
  • From Bad to Worse: Throughout season six, a conspiracy against the President elect is revealed, with Carrie, Quinn and Saul struggling to combat it. Then when it's foiled, the President elect has suspects detained without trial in a military jail, refused to release them when ordered by the courts, expands the Patriot Act, and later even more are rounded up (including Saul).
  • Genre Shift: The series started off as a psychological thriller, with gunfights and killings happening very far and few between. Gradually it eschews its psychological edge in favor of straight-up action.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Carrie and Quinn, respectively, act these parts during the initial interrogation of Brody, and it works so well that they keep it up as his handlers once he turns double agent. Deconstructed, as neither is sure how much the other is really acting; Carrie thinks Quinn is overly suspicious and with an unstable temper, while he thinks she's fallen in love with Brody and is blind to the possibility that he's still working for Nazir.
    • Carrie tries to pull the Good Cop persona on Roya, Brody's terrorist supervisor.
    Roya: Have you ever had someone who somehow takes over your life, pulls you in. Makes you do things ... that you know are wrong, but you can't help yourself? Do you have anyone like that?
    Carrie: Yes.
    Roya: Well, I’ve never been that stupid, you idiot whore! You think you understand me? You think this is some fucking game?
  • Good Is Not Nice: International espionage is a brutal business, and we see how spies have to develop very hard hearts. When trust and friendship can endanger national security, it becomes quite rare.
  • Government Conspiracy: A group of government officials conspires to discredit and then assassinate the President elect in season six.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The whole show is full of it. International espionage is a dirty and messy business, with many innocents squashed flat between the conflicts of global powers.
  • The Handler: Saul was Carrie's when she was a field agent. Roya is Brody's for Nazir, and Carrie for the CIA.
  • Hauled Before a Senate Subcommittee: The CIA is under congressional investigation after its failure at the end of Season 2. Hero with Bad Publicity ensues.
  • He Knows Too Much: Walker kills a hunter who witnesses his target practice in the woods. He's eventually killed himself for Knowing Too Much about Brody and Nazir.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • In "A False Glimmer" Qasim tries to stop Bibi from triggering the gas, gets shot for his trouble, but still manages to pull him away from it long enough, letting Carrie shoot him and therefore saving thousands of lives. He dies in Carrie's arms as she recites an Islamic prayer for him.
    • In "America First" Quinn is killed getting Carrie and the President elect to safety.
  • High-Class Call Girl: The prince has a harem of them, whom he hires for two-year stints and pays outrageous sums of money.
  • History Repeats: The show begins with Carrie investigating a recently-freed captive whom she suspects has been compromised by his captors. The final season has another recently-freed captive coming under the same suspicion — only this time, it's Carrie herself.
  • Hollywood Hacking: The first episode of season five has been mocked for this.
  • Hollywood Law: When Saul asks Carrie if she's going to appeal the judge's order removing her daughter to foster care, she says it can't be appealed, and they both act surprised. This isn't true-all orders of the New York City family courts can be appealed, provided proper notice is given, procedures obeyed, etc.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Reed. A hooker she might be, her willingness to work with the CIA and use her position to spy on suspected terrorist financier is absolutely commendable.
  • How We Got Here: The whole of Brody's plot up to Episode 9.
  • Honey Trap:
    • Claire Danes described Carrie as such in an interview with Conan O'Brien. For most of Season 1, Carrie does not play this trope straight until the Season 2 episode "I'll Fly Away." When Brody is about to give up his mission with the CIA, Carrie fucks some sense into him.
    • Lynne Reed, Carrie's call girl contact, plays the trope straight.
    • Carrie uses this again to disturbing effect with Aayan Ibrahim, who is related to the Big Bad Haqqani.
  • Idiot Plot: Roya tasks Brody, a high-value public face with top access to American government secrets, to pick up a sleeper terrorist in the middle of nowhere — one whom they already know has blown his cover and may be under surveillance — and move him to a new location. The stupidity of this plot is recognized in universe as Brody calls out Roya for it the next time they meet.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die:
    • Carrie's callgirl contact, Reed. Carrie doesn't handle the death well and considers herself at least partially responsible for it especially since she promised Reed (non-existent) protection beforehand. She also seems to treat 9/11 as a whole this way.
    • Happens also when Sandy Bachmann is beaten to death in the streets of Islamabad, which is the catalyst for most of the events of season 4.
    • Carrie is extremely guilt-stricken by the death of Max in season 8.
  • Impaled Palm: Done by Quinn to Brody during his interrogation.
  • Implausible Hair Color: Not the exact trope, but in "Beirut Is Back". Carrie dyed her hair brown to venture out in Beirut in disguise. When she comes back to the safe house with Saul, and meets with Estes via Skype, her hair is back to natural blonde. Carrie wearing a wig wasn't established.
  • Important Haircut: Jessica cuts her hair to match the short cut she had when Brody left for Iraq in an attempt to turn back the clock and rekindle their former romance.
  • Informed Attribute: Brody is a Marine Scout Sniper, apparently. We never see him do anything particularly Marine-like, other than walk around in uniform, he almost always gets his own rank wrong, and he never so much as picks up a sniper rifle, even when the CIA sends him on an assassination mission.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Peter tries to drown himself when the pain from his wound overwhelms him, but is stopped by a man nearby.
  • Invisible President: Very few details about the president at the beginning of the series are ever given, other than he's about to leave office and his VP is lined up as the heir apparent. Various real presidents, from Reagan to Obama, are shown or heard in the credits. The trope is ultimately averted starting in season 6, when a new, fictional president-elect becomes a major character.
  • Ironic Echo: In "Crossfire," Jessica remarks to Brody that "it's a violent country" after Brody tells her he was mugged. The audience has recently learned that Brody turned because of the bombing of a school by the American military.
  • It's All About Me: Finn, in "A Gettysburg Address" when he berates Dana over wanting to somehow help the daughter of the woman he hit when he was recklessly barreling down an alley. It does not help that Finn is desperately protective of his dad's political chances.
  • It's Personal: Deconstructed. Anytime CIA officers treat their mission as personal business, they either fail to accomplish that mission, or find themselves forcibly removed from it.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique:
    • Done to Brody by Peter Quinn as a part of a Good Cop/Bad Cop routine. Subverted in that it's only meant as a setup for a gentler personal interrogation done by Carrie and not for immediate results; Carrie and Saul are shocked when it happens and quite genuinely drag him bodily from the room, and afterwards wonder whether his flip-out was really 100% theatre or not. The usage of the trope has an added meta-interest as Howard Gordon and other writers of the show also worked on 24, where Jack Bauer mastered it.
    • In Season 6, Dar Adal has a US Senator handcuffed to a pipe in a cold storage room while clad only in his underpants... and a goon then throws a bucket of water over him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Senator (and later CIA Director) Lockhart. Despite being portrayed as a fairly crass jerk throughout season 3 and 4, in "13 Hours in Islamabad" he is the first and only person to want to prevent Fara getting decapitated by Haqqani by handing over the intel he wants.
  • Jumped at the Call: Presumably with Carrie when she became the CIA's point person on investigating Abu Nazir. She followed her intuition to the point where she was seen by other characters as a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Karma Houdini: Jalal Haqqani remains at large and in control of the Taliban at the end of the series.
  • Kirk Summation: In Q&A Carrie delivers a successful one to Brody, pointing out Brody himself was aware of the wrongness of his plan when he spared Walden, as the immolation would have devastated Brody's family and not brought Issa back.
  • Last-Name Basis: Brody. Even his wife calls him "Brody".
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: The CIA has doubts about Carrie's reliability in the Beirut mission, but she kicks some Hezbollah agent's ass.
  • Lima Syndrome: Carrie falls in love with Brody over the course of her surveillance, despite the fact that she believes he's a terrorist.
  • Living Prop: Lampshaded with Max the surveillance guy in Quinn and Carrie's operation, who Quinn refers to as "the mute".
    • Chris Brody becomes this by Season 3. He says little and mostly hangs around in the background, allowing the writers to focus on writing material for Dana. By the end of Season 3, it seems from dialogue even his father has forgotten he exists.
  • Logic Bomb: Carrie throws the FBI agent's solution of TV ads back in his face, when the FBI agent says it worked for catching Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger. Carrie points out that it took almost 20 years.
  • Long Game:
    • Invoked a few times by Carrie Mathison to explain Brody's actions. She believes that Abu Nazir planted intelligence on his own safe house in order to have US forces rescue Brody, whom she believes to be a Turn Coat or Manchurian Agent. She says he has turned down opportunities to kill high-profile targets in order to get an opportunity for a really big score.
    • Invoked again in "New Car Smell". Soon as Brody's suicide video tape is found, the CIA restarts surveillance on him, planning to quietly tail him to his terrorist handlers. At the end of the epsiode, Carrie blows this plan by telling him she knows, forcing the CIA to arrest Brody at spot.
    • Season 3 chronicles the efforts and hardships that Saul undergoes in order to play this card with Javadi. Arresting Javadi, a proven terrorist, is by itself a great but short-sighted victory, but turning and then planting him inside the Iranian government would be the greatest achievement in the history of the CIA.
  • Long-Runner Cast Turnover: Due to the changing scope and long run of the series, only three characters from the first season are still around in Season 7: Carrie, Saul and Max.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Carrie/Brody/Jessica/Mike. It's a constant source of friction and awkwardness.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything:
    • Brody, despite being a prominent, unique public face and asset, is tasked with an ill-conceived petty errand by Abu Nazir's organization: the relocation of a bomb-maker. It goes awry. Deconstructed, as he gets increasingly frustrated at being palmed off with jobs that would be better left to other people.
    • By Season 3, the CIA appears to have about 6 employees who are used for every assignment, even ones where their involvement seems wildly inappropriate.
  • Married to the Job: Carrie and Saul. Double Subversion in the Season 2 finale for Carrie, as she chooses her personal life before her career, but the circumstances and events undo this choice.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Issa is the Arabic name for Jesus. His death inspires Brody to take up his father's religious cause.
    • Abu Nazir means, roughly, "father of foreboding" in Arabic. It also doubles as a name to run away from really fast.
    • Additionally, Dar Adal means "house of justice."
  • Meta Guy: Virgil. He watches the surveillance footage as if it were a TV show.
  • The Mole:
    • It's yet to be revealed. 24 shows this trope is Author Appeal for the writers but Homeland is averting or only implying it, as the existence of leaks is consistently mentioned.
    • Dennis Boyd in Season 4, who is blackmailed by the ISI into stealing classified documents from his wife, the US Ambassador to Pakistan.
    • Col. Aasar Khan, one of the few good men in the ISI, passes on details of their corruption and decisions to Carrie in Season 4.
  • Moving the Goalposts: In the Season 2 opener, a journalist working for Nazir relays new instructions to now-Congressman Brody. Brody counter-argues that his agreement was to influence lawmakers. The journalist essentially tells Brody that Nazir is altering the deal.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Quinn calls off Carrie's order to drone-bomb Haqqani due to Saul's presence in the immediate vicinity. Subsequent episodes, however, show that not only Saul himself would rather get killed than become a pawn in Haqqani's games, Haqqani later proves to have a much more dangerous ambition than simply controlling an insurgent network in the Af-Pak border—namely, leading a commando-style attack on the U.S. embassy in Pakistan. All the deaths that occur during his attack can therefore be attributed to Quinn's canceling Carrie's order.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Right-wing conspiracy theorist and radio host Brett O'Keefe is obviously modeled on Alex Jones, but he also shares a name with another right-wing provocateur, James O'Keefe, who notably has been accused of falsifying videos and evidence to smear his opponents, in much the same way Brett does on the show.
  • No Medication for Me: Carrie, after being blown up.
  • Not Quite Dead: Brody, of course, as well as Tom Walker.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Saul successfully uses this angle with a WASPy terrorist who defied her family by falling in love with an Arabic man; Saul remarks he's also in a mixed marriage.
    • Abu Nazir uses this kind of personal approach with Carrie as a taunt, comparing their bond with Brody and Carrie sees a chance to do it with Roya Hammad, to no avail both times.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Played with David Estes, who starts as a hardass Da Chief and has a personal agenda that leads to broken deals and trumped up charges against Saul, but he is also shown as a Reasonable Authority Figure when he is not hampered by political orders and concerns.
  • Offstage Villainy: Before the last episodes of Season 2, most of Abu Nazir's heinous terrorist attacks, including Kenya 1998, Madrid 2004 and his pattern of targeting innocent civilians, are part of his back story and not shown onscreen. The show refrains from using an explicit Obviously Evil approach. The first two incidents happened in Real Life, executed or inspired by Al-Qaeda.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Carrie, after offering Brody a cup of his favorite tea-and so giving away her surveillance of him, since he never mentioned it to her.
    • Saul, upon learning that Aileen's rooftop had a direct line-of-sight to the President's helipad.
    • In the Season 2 opener, Dana has this after she blurts out during class that her dad is a Muslim in an attempt to settle a debate.
    • In the Season 2 finale, Carrie has this reaction when Brody notes in passing that his car has apparently been moved, right next to the memorial service they're both attending.
    Oh fuck.
  • Only Sane Man: Carrie thinks she is this, and as of Season 1 she turns out to be right about Brody all along, but the twist of it is that she's not psychologically a sane person either.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: When Carrie is trying to convince a friend to lend her his van (she has lost access to her money and other things), she does not know that he is being listened on by the CIA. He tells her to give his regards to her mother. Carrie's mother is dead, so she realizes it is a trap.
  • Out of Focus: The Brodys have a son but Chris' screen time is minimal, given the family dynamic centers on Nicholas-Jessica-Dana.
    • This happens to Nicholas Brody himself during the first half of season 3. Even though Damian Lewis is still the second-billed actor in the opening credits, Brody appears in only one of the first seven episodes.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Delivered by Carrie in, of all places, the opening credits! Even by premium-cable standards, this may be a first.
    • Brody to Carrie, when he realizes she's been spying on him the whole time.
  • Pull the I.V.: Peter, after being shot.
  • Pun: "Representative Brody" has a really bad one. When referring to the Vice President's offer, Brody asked Jessica if she had "thought about the politics of it all."
  • Pyrrhic Victory: At the end of Season 1. Carrie has unknowingly managed to prevent Brody's suicide bombing at the expense of her career and brain cells. However, this still leaves Brody as a future member of Congress, where who knows what damage he'll wreak.
    • Season 6. Carrie and Quinn save President-elect Keane from an assassination attempt, but Quinn is killed in the process. Shortly after, now President Keane starts mass arrests of people suspected of involvement in the conspiracy with little regard for due process, including Saul Berenson and Carrie is left wondering if Keane is indeed a danger to American democracy as Dar Adal claimed.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • In the season 2, Lauder says it's "unbecoming" for Brody to not want the truth about what happened to Walker. Brody comes back with that "Walker broke."
    • Carrie has a very compelling one at the end of "New Car Smell". She delivers it to Brody after laying out what she knows about him. This prompts Saul and designated new guy Peter Quinn to have their team apprehend Brody.
      Carrie: I want to be friends with a demented ex-soldier who hates America? Who decided strapping on a bomb was the answer to what ailed him? Despite his daughter, his son, people who loved him in real life, not in the mind-fuck world of Abu Nazir? Who, in the end, didn't have the stones to go through with it, but had no problem sending me to the nuthouse? Yeah. No, thanks. [...]
      You're a disgrace to your nation, Seargent Nicholas Brody. You're a traitor and a terrorist, and now it's time you pay for that.
  • Red Herring:
    • Brody's finger tapping. Turns out it's only a substitute for not having his prayer beads. By the time Carrie learns this, she's already figured out that he's a Muslim.
    • The womanizing Saudi prince. Turns out it's his aide who is a terrorist supporter.
  • Reveal Shot: At the end of Ep.1, the camera reverses to give a new perspective on the death of Thomas Walker.
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • Dick Johnson, the Democratic congressman who sent racy images of himself to female aides, is an obvious reference to Anthony Weiner, who is also a Democratic congressman who sent racy pictures of himself to women. "Dick" "johnson" and "weiner" are also all words that can describe a penis.
    • Used at the end of "Clean Skin". A young couple, a Middle Eastern man and a white woman, are seen buying a house near an airport. In a previous scene, a diamond necklace that a Saudi prince gave to his mistress for the end purpose of clearing customs without drawing suspicion, was sold to a jeweler for $400,000. One of the prince's handlers retrieved the necklace from the mistress by arranging her murder. It's heavily implied that the couple was able to buy the house with funds from the necklace sale. This plot is taken from the case of Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to set off a car bomb at Times Square in 2010 and had bought a large house in Connecticut several years prior to the attempt. In the next episodes the man's name is revealed to be named Raqim Faisel and the CIA starts investigating Faisel's WASP partner, who was the terrorist-minded all along.
    • When listing Abu Nazir's past terrorist acts in "Q and A" Carrie mentions a bombing of an embassy in Kenya in 1998, a commuter train in Madrid in 2004, and a bombing of a grocey store in Amsterdam. The first two are real terrorist attacks carried out or inspired by Al-Qaeda, and the third appears to be fictional.
    • Abu Nazir's Burial at Sea reenacts the same ceremony that was reportedly given to Osama bin Laden.
    • In "The Drone Queen", a U.S. drone kills a terrorist at a wedding in Pakistan and ends up killing several civilians. In real life a U.S. drone strike did in fact kill civilians at a wedding in Yemen.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Carrie's place after she's been off her meds. Painstakingly transformed into The Big Board once Saul stays up all night organising it. Turns out Carrie wasn't so crazy.
  • R-Rated Opening: The British Censorship Bureau Ofcom felt that the use of (very quiet and muffled) F-bombs in the Opening Narration was at the very borderline of acceptability for broadcast at the point of the nine pm Watershed.
  • Scary Black Man: Tom Walker
  • Semper Fi: Sgt. Brody and his pals are veterans of the USMC. For one reason or another, only one of the four Marines with characterization would be considered a successfull straight example by their superiors, the rest of them all have their issues.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Pretty much Season 4 as a whole. The CIA's efforts against Haqani and his ISI allies end in total failure.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran:
    • Brody among other things: he sleeps on the floor to avoid assaulting his wife in his sleep, cowers in a corner of his bedroom all day after slipping into an Angst Coma and has intimacy issues due to his time as a POW.
    • The war turned Lauder Wakefield into The Alcoholic, a Disabled Snarker and a Jerkass/Jerkass Has a Point.
    • When Saul discovers that Carrie is mentally ill, he initially attributes it to her experiences in Iraq; she has to explain to him, in a truly heartbreaking scene, that her bipolar disorder is actually congenital, that she "came this way."
  • Shout-Out:
    • Saul Berenson is named after Alex Berenson, John Wells series novelist and a friend of Homeland co-creator Howard Gordon's.
    • Dar Adul's line "Christ, I miss the Cold War" echoes fellow spymaster M in Casino Royale (2006).
    • After an inquisitorial process, Estes is called "Javert" by Saul.
    • When the JerkAss FBI agent dismisses Dana and Leo's disappearance as "playing Romeo and Juliet," Carrie retorts "Yeah, remember how that turned out?"
    • Season five goes for the obvious and names the fifth episode, Better Call Saul.
  • Sitting on the Roof: Brody and Dana in "Marine One".
  • Sleep Deprivation Punishment: The series has an interrogation scene where a prisoner has been deprived of sleep with sporadic Death Metal blasts.
  • Snowball Lie: Brody's primary arc in season 2.
  • Society Marches On and Technology Marches On: Brody is unfamiliar with Vitamin Water while grocery shopping. He refers to a "video called YouTube".
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A lively jazz number plays over the Tear Jerker chaotic ending of "The Vest".
  • Spiritual Successor: To 24. They share a lot of writers and production crew, and Homeland could be reliably summed up as what you'd get if the characters from 24 went home at night, got eight hours of sleep, showered, shaved, came into work the next morning and actually had to deal with the regulations and bureaucracy of intelligence work.
  • Spotting the Thread:
    • Brody realizes there is something fishy with Carrie when she shows undue knowledge of his favorite tea.
    • In Season 4, whilst watching multiple YouTube videos of Section Chief Sandy Bachmann being beaten to death, Quinn notices a member of the crowd wearing an earpiece, suggesting the murder was orchestrated by the Pakistani government.
  • Spy Fiction: Gritty and dramatic post 9/11 variety centered on the CIA's anti-terrorism efforts.
  • Strawman Political: Right-wing extremist Brett O'Keefe has a talk show where he peddles venom toward the president-elect, various conspiracy theories included. It turns out he works with a faction of the CIA to take her down.
  • Squick: In-Universe. Saul is forced to listen in on Carrie and Brody having very loud sex in a bugged motel room. From the expression on his face, it's clear he'd rather be doing anything else at that moment.
  • Stockholm Syndrome:
    • The reason Carrie believes Brody is a Turn Coat or Manchurian Agent.
    • There are serious shades of this in season 8 between Carrie and Gromov after Carrie's imprisonment. He works her for information, though she ultimately turns the tables on him.
  • String Theory: Carrie is prone to doing this during manic phases. In the first season's 11th episode (The Vest), Saul can only make sense of Carrie's various notes, documents and pieces of information after he applies them in an orderly way to a wall that connects all of the bits in a spatial fashion. There are no strings, though, so this might belong to a (existing?) higher-ranking trope of "external thinking", expressed through spatial arrangements of information.
  • Suicide Attack: Brody's revenge plan involves blowing himself up, taking the VP and several high-ranking government officials with him. It's thwarted by a faulty vest at first and later by a change of heart in the season one finale.
  • Television Geography: After Carrie escapes being held hostage by Abu Nazir in an abandoned Factory she ends up on a rural, 2-lane road and flags down a trucker. The trucker informs her she is on "Route 50 east of Chantilly (Virginia)". The real stretch of Route 50 east of Chantilly however is a congested, 6-9 lane highway running through dense upscale malls and suburban houses, and there are no abandoned factories.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Carrie, at the end of "Blind Spot"/start of "The Good Soldier."
  • Token Enemy Minority: Most of the villains are Muslims from the Middle East. The good guy counter to these characters is CIA analyst Danny Galvez is a Muslim-American of Lebanese and Guatemalan descent.
  • Torture Cellar: Most of Brody's torture seems to have taken place in small, dark rooms, most likely underground.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Carrie is sacked when the secret of her bipolar disorder is revealed. Doesn't stop her continuing to investigate on her own time, flouting both Doctor's Orders and CIA access privileges.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Brody-Jessica-Mike triangle.
  • Unfortunate Names: Richard Johnson (Dick Johnson), a member of the House of Representatives who is involved in a sex scandal. Jessica and Brody find it hilarious.
  • Villain Protagonist: During Brody's run, he is an Anti-Villain Villain Protagonist. Later villains often get a lot of screen time, but are never protagonists.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • Abu Nazir is the mastermind behind the deaths of untold civilians in terrorist bombings, and he's hypocritical in saying so, but in the aftermath of a botched drone strike that kills 83 children, including his young son, at a nearby school, he's got a point that the Americans have innocent blood on their hands too, and especially as they refuse to admit they did anything wrong.
    • Dar Adal in Season 6, whose belief that Keane is a danger to American democracy looks like being correct.
  • Villain with Good Publicity:
    • Played with a lot. Ambiguous for the most part in the first season, fully embraced by Congressman Brody in Season 2, then ambiguous again and with shades of Reformed, but Rejected in the Season 2 finale as Brody's intel brings down Abu Nazir, but he's still a terrorist and the video about his aborted immolation is made public.
    • Straighter example in Walden, who is a Vice-President Evil.
  • Warhawk: Season 8 is all about the Americans and the Taliban trying to talk the warhawks down within their own hierarchy. John Zabel is the American warhawk, pushing the weak new president to invade Pakistan, while Jalal Haqqani pushes the Taliban to discard his father's peace efforts and reignite war with America.
  • We Are Not Going Through That Again: Maggie makes a declaration to Carrie in "Clarity" that mixes this trope with Genre Savvy.
    Carrie: I have to give it up. All of it. I swear. I'm seeing this very clearly now.
    Maggie: Carrie, you're my sister, and I love you, I really do, but I don't believe you. In six weeks, the ECT will wear off, and Saul will come knocking with some new crisis, and the whole crazy orchestra will start playing again.
  • Wedding Ring Defense: Carrie wears one of these.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
  • Wham Episode:
    • "New Car Smell". Brody is confronted by Carrie and taken in for being a terrorist. The event notably happens just in the middle of season two.
    • "I'll Fly Away". Abu Nazir (clean-shaven) is in the United States.
    • "The Choice". Abu Nazir manages to pull off a Xanatos Gambit, blows up the CIA building, kills David Estes and the deceased Vice President's family and hundreds of others, and (if Brody's claim to not be involved is true) frames Brody for all of it. Brody's secret is revealed to the world and Carrie helps him escape. Wham.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • In the 2nd and 3rd episodes of Season 1, Prince Farid bin Abbud is being investigated by Carrie over a video of him meeting Abu Nazi. It's later revealed that the Prince himself is innocent and his advisor is the one working with Nazir to fund his attacks. Despite the CIA knowing full well he's involved he is forgotten about every time they mention Nazir's associates.note 
    • The cover-up of the hit-and-run involving Finn and Dana. With the Walden family dead as of Season 2, the "incentive" given to the victim's surviving family may no longer exist, thus removing the pressure to keep quiet.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • In the first episode Saul not only objects to Carrie's illegal surveillance over Brody, his first intention is to write it up and terminate her career.
    • Wakefield rebukes Brody for becoming the recruitment poster boy for a war they both grew to despise.
    • Carrie gets another one from Peter in "About a Boy" over the lengths she is willing to go:
    Peter: Why don't you tell me just what it is you're doing in there?
    Carrie: I'm recruiting someone.
    Peter: Really? 'Cause to me, it looks like you're fucking a child.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell: Dar Adal misses the "rules" of the time of the Cold War. In his words, "the Soviets didn't shoot us, and we didn't shoot them".
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Both Abu Nazir (head of Al-Qaeda) and the Vice-President avert this. Interestingly the American VP is shown explictly giving the order about disregarding heavy collateral damage, while most of the information about Abu Nazir's crimes is given via exposition.
  • Working with the Ex: Carrie and Estes
  • Worthy Opponent: Saul compliments Ivan Krupin with admiration for a major penetration inside American intelligence masterminded by his Russian counterpart.
    Saul: You came this close to painting a masterpiece, this close ... Not many people can say that.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • In the aftermath of the botched attempt in "Marine One", Nazir orders Brody to kill Walker to keep Brody's contingency plan secured.
    • Estes and Quinn are planning to do this to Brody once he's helped them bring in Nazir.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Carrie can't really fault people for not believing her when she does things like scream at the top of her lungs, "None of you understand! The world is ending!" (Of course, she was in the grip of a manic episode at the time.)


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: