Follow TV Tropes


Series / Inspector Lynley

Go To
He's a Lord. She's not a lady. Think you can fool them? Think again.
You two really are a double act, aren't you!
DI Fiona Knight, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, "Natural Causes"

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries was a BBC series that ran from 2001—2007, starring Nathaniel Parker as aristocratic Detective Inspector Thomas "Tommy" Lynley, 8th Earl of Asherton, and Sharon Small as his working-class partner, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, both of Scotland Yard. The first eleven episodes were based on novels by the American author Elizabeth George, though the author's plots and characters were often significantly altered, and the show went its own way from that point on. Most, if not all, fans consider the television show to take place in an Alternate Continuity from the books.

George is one of only two American writers whose novels have been adapted for PBS' MYSTERY!

The intrigue of the show came almost entirely from watching the lead characters navigate the inevitable clashes of personality, gender, class, and opinion that arose from their radically differing backgrounds. Over time, Lynley and Havers discovered that their differences complemented each other more thoroughly than either of them could have expected. Moreover, they found numerous unexpected similarities, including a mutual devotion to justice, distrust of the higher-ups, and tendency to screw the rules in favour of doing what's right. While they remained two very different people, the bond that developed between them changed them both for the better and created a partnership more enduring and effective than anyone could have ever predicted.

If you're looking for tropes specific to the lead characters, please see the character sheet. And for tropes specific to individual episodes, check out the episode recaps here, but beware spoilers!

This show provided examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • In the novel series, Barbara Havers is described as short, ugly, overweight and poorly dressed. Sharon Small, who plays Havers, is short.
    • Reverse direction for Lynley: The books regularly refer to him as a 'Greek god' type, which usually means Apollon/Adonis, when Nathaniel Parker probably only could get away as Hephaistos (if he fakes a limp). Ruggedly handsome, yes, but an Adonis he is not.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Lynley went from blond in the novels to being played by brunet Nathaniel Parker.
  • Aloof Older Brother: Lynley has been one towards his brother Peter for a long time. He tries hard to make up for it in "A Suitable Vengeance", when the said brother falls in trouble.
  • Alternate Continuity: Adapting Elizabeth George's novels to television resulted in such massive changes to both characters and storyline, particularly after the original source material ended, that the two are generally seen as entirely separate entities. See the trope page for details.
  • Always Murder: Even if it starts looking out like something else, it usually winds up as murder in the end. Not a surprise given that this is a British Detective Drama.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The unintentional effect of cancelling the final series halfway through production, resulting in only the first two episodes being filmed.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: Appear in "Playing for the Ashes", as suspects for the murder.
  • Artistic License: When Barbara is busted down a rank in the series 3 premiere, she is issued a uniform but is consistently referred to as DC Havers. This is incorrect, as DC means Detective Constable. Detectives - attached to CID or Special Branch - wear plainclothes. If she was issued a uniform, it would mean she was kicked out of CID, yet the prefix "Detective" indicates that she was not - especially since she went back to plainclothes when she was reinstated in the third episode of that series. The likely explanation for this is that being busted back into a uniform packs more of an emotional punch.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: In a meta instance of this trope, "In The Guise Of Death" gives viewers a lovely shot of the normally-frumpy Barbara sleeping peacefully, her hair a halo of reddish-gold around her face. Then she's woken up by her irritatingly cheerful partner knocking on her door asking her to go traipsing about Cornwall with him... and he doesn't even let her drink her coffee first. Played for Laughs.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Invoked by Lynley in "If Wishes Were Horses" when Helen miscarries. He feels responsible because earlier, when he had first heard that Helen was pregnant, he had been less than thrilled. Barbara, very sensibly, tells him that it isn't his fault.
  • Berserk Button: The one surefire way to make sure Thomas Lynley will hate you forever is to injure or threaten Barbara Havers. (His wife is also a pretty reasonable bet.) Barbara, meanwhile, tends to lose her shit if anyone goes after Lynley - or kids.
  • Big Fancy House: Howenstowe, the seat of the Earls of Asherton. It's located in Cornwall. Shameless advantage is taken of this.
  • Blue Blood: Lynley's. Not only is he an aristocrat, but he is the eighth earl to bear the title, and given how ennobling worked historically, his family was almost certainly aristocracy even before they got the earldom. His partner Barbara could not be less impressed.
  • Break the Cutie: Barbara Havers starts out as a Broken Bird, so she's not exactly sweet and adorable any more in the pilot. And yet somehow, the show proceeds to break her even further. note  Ouch, show. Ouch. (This looks light compared to what her partner goes through, until you remember that in her case, a lot of the breaking was done before she even met Thomas Lynley.)
  • Break the Haughty: Although he's not without his own angst, Barbara has quite a bit more angst in her past than Lynley does. The storyline proceeds to make up for this rather thoroughly. note  ...ouch.
  • British Brevity: A two-episode pilot, five series of four episodes each, and one aborted series of two episodes.
  • Busman's Holiday: Both times Lynley (and Barbara) go to visit his family in Cornwall, they get caught up in a local mystery, largely because Lynley cannot keep his nose out of anything and Barbara will follow him wherever he goes (albeit with plenty of snarking along the way).
  • Character Development: Through his partnership with Barbara, Lynley becomes less snobbish and elitist, not to mention less likely to fly off the handle. Through her partnership with Lynley, Barbara begins to let her softer side show more often and learns that the world isn't out to get her and that it's okay to trust people and let them in.note  In the end, they are not only more effective detectives due to their partnership, they are, quite simply, better people.
  • Clear My Name: "Limbo".
  • Continuity Nod: Billy, the young Adorkable DC from "In Pursuit Of The Proper Sinner", appears again in "A Cry For Justice".
  • Cool Car: Lynley drives a Bristol 410, which oozes not only class but exclusivity in that fewer than a hundred of them were ever built. (You will never see a dealer for these cars; you go straight to the builder, or you go without.) In the pilot, he drives a Peugeot 407, however.
  • Cooldown Hug: How Lynley calms Barbara down (for a given value of "calmed down"; she progresses from hysterical punching and screaming to hysterical sobbing, which at least has the benefit of no one winding up with a bloody nose) after she's held hostage in "In Divine Proportion".
  • Cute and Psycho: Carly in "One Guilty Deed" went a little unhinged after she killed Martin.
  • Cry into Chest: Played textbook straight when Barbara falls apart after being held hostage at gunpoint and suffers a Flashback Echo. See also Security Cling and Inelegant Blubbering.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: For Barbara, her little brother's death from cancer, which gave her much of her renowned cynicism; she's really quite a romantic at heart.
  • Deadpan Snarker / The Snark Knight: Havers. Oh, Havers. That poor, dear girl.
  • Defective Detective: Lynley and Havers, both of them.
    • One is a workaholic with a personal life worthy of a soap opera;
    • The other is a Broken Bird who has raised antisociality and self-protection via jerkassery to an art form.
  • Deuteragonist: Havers, in a rare example of an Inspector's partner being this. Unlike most non-protagonist Detective Sergeants in British mystery fiction, Havers' storyline gets almost as much focus as the eponymous protagonist's right from the get-go. In addition, though she frequently acts as The Watson to her partner, it isn't uncommon for him to act as The Watson to her (for instance, the majority of "Natural Causes", or the caravan site in "One Guilty Deed"). This very trope has been cited as one of the things that sets this series apart from other Detective Dramas of its kind, and as one of the best aspects of the show.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Say it with me now... oh, Barbara.
  • Driven to Suicide: Lynley very nearly killed himself when he was at school, after learning that his father had died and he'd inherited the title. Luckily, his roomate & best friend talked him down.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: This is how Lynley "copes" with Helen's death until Barbara, after six months of trying, finally snaps him out of it in "Limbo".
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Lynley introduces himself to Roberta as "Thomas" in "[1]", but in "Limbo", he tells Julia "It's Tommy. No-one calls me Thomas!"
  • Elephant in the Room: In "Well Schooled In Murder" a young boy is found dead, covered in yellow paint. Though it's explained by the end of the episode, the really strange thing is that throughout the investigation, no one ever mentions it.
  • Epiphany Therapy: Lynley goes through this in "Natural Causes", realizing he wants to make it work with Helen. He does it while "undercover" at a center that's a cross between a rehab clinic and a Church of Happyology. It turns out the head of the center is behind an unrelated scam, not the murders.
  • Fair Cop: Lynley certainly has the "ruggedly handsome" thing going on, and Barbara Havers is adorableness incarnate.
  • Fanservice Pack/Progressively Prettier: During the pilot and the first four series, Barbara has short hair and goes around in baggy sweaters and coats. In series five and six, her hair has lengthened dramatically and she's wearing clothes that are much more form-fitting. The end result is this.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: In "Natural Causes", Lynley and Havers go back and forth like this when they solve the Mystery of the Week, upon which DI Fiona Knight, temporarily partnered with Havers, remarks, "You really are a double act, aren't you!"
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Barbara and Lynley Do Not Like Each Other when they're originally assigned together. Their superior officers were counting on this, hoping they would do something outrageous enough to get themselves fired when forced to work together. By the end of "A Great Deliverance", their plan has backfired quite spectacularly... and Barbara and Lynley only get closer from there.
  • Flashback Echo / Trauma Button: In "In Divine Proportion" when Barbara is held hostage at gunpoint. Her flashback is to the previous series' finale, in which she was shot in the abdomen; she shows obvious signs of PTSD throughout the episode and goes a little nuts at the end. It takes — who else? — Lynley literally pulling her off the guy and administering a Cooldown Hug to bring her back to normal. (No actual flashback occurs; because the triggering event happens in the previous episode, however, the audience is quite clearly supposed to draw the parallel.)
  • Forbidden Friendship: Part of the reason Barbara is so hostile to Lynley in early episodes is because she is absolutely convinced this trope is in play. It is made fairly clear, however, that she is a great deal more concerned by the class differences between them than he is. She gets better eventually.
  • Friend to All Children: Barbara Havers may be difficult to work with, but she has a real gift for getting children to talk to her.
  • Friendship Moment: Many between Lynley and Havers, right from the middle of the pilot.
  • From Bad to Worse: Poor Lynley. In the final episode of series 3, his wife is involved in a car accident that results in her miscarriage, a hospital stay, and their separation. As if that's not bad enough, days later his partner is shot in the line of duty, resulting in yet another hospital stay, months of recovery time and PTSD. Wow.
  • Gentleman Detective: Lynley, naturally. Though he did work his way there.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Lynley, oh so very much, which makes him an excellent match for the equally snarky Barbara.
  • The Great British Copper Capture: Played tragically when Barbara Havers gets shot in the line of duty at the end of series 3. Since there are 2.5 subsequent series, she quite obviously gets better. This does not stop Lynley from flipping his shit over it.
  • Grief-Induced Split: A car accident in "If Wishes Were Horses" causes Helen to miscarry. Following her stay in the hospital, they separate.
  • Gut Feeling: If Barbara Havers feels uneasy around someone, that person is either shady or an outright villain (or aristocratic, which in Barbara's mind is pretty much the same thing). The only times this fails, the characters involved are working-class, like Barbara, and being kicked down by society, also like Barbara, which blinds her to their true natures.
  • Held Gaze: Lynley and Havers give Mulder and Scully a run for their money in terms of just how charged these moments could get. These looks between them spoke volumes about the depths of their relationship. In fact, during many of the most critical moments of their relationship, the words coming out of their mouths were completely incidental to the conversation they were having with their eyes.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Anytime a dog shows up onscreen, expect Lynley to get chummy with it. It is, quite frankly, adorable.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Pairing Havers and Lynley was originally done in order to keep Barbara's mouth shut about not getting any good cases (and, if they were lucky, get her tossed out of the force for disrespect and/or violence). Yeah, that worked out well...
    • Especially since Lynley realised this was the plan, and was doing his best not to give in, because while he didn't like her (yet), Havers was a good copper.
  • Hollywood Law: In the Season 2 Finale Havers acknowledges that her career is at an end because she shot a flare gun at another officer. However, considering that it was the only way to stop said officer from leaving Lynley and a young girl to drown, literally no one in their right mind would try and prosecute her for that - you're allowed to hurt a person if that's what's necessary to save lives. If nothing else, it would be a PR disaster, considering that the girl she saved is the daughter of an influential member of the local community, and cops generally don't look too kindly on people who leave other cops to die.
  • Honest Advisor: Barbara to Lynley again; she can get away with saying things no one else could, because she has earned his trust a thousand times over. He might bark at her for whatever she says, but he always listens to what she has to say, even if he ignores her advice five minutes later.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: In the pilot episode, Barbara goes on a long diatribe about everything she thinks is wrong with Thomas Lynley as a man and as a detective. When Lynley's old partner shows up and levels a number of those very same accusations at him just hours later, she immediately jumps to his defense, completely ignoring her earlier complaints. This sets up the entire precedent of their relationship: Barbara can call Lynley out just as much as she pleases, but if anyone else tries the same thing, the 'anyone else' in question is going to get a dressing-down the likes of which s/he will never forget. Although it's not seen as much, this works in reverse as well — Lynley has no problems calling Barbara out, but will immediately and fiercely defend her from anyone else who dares to try the same thing. Essentially, Lynley and Havers have What the Hell, Hero? privileges with each other, which no one else is allowed.
  • I Am Very British: Having gone to Eton and Oxford — aka the poshest of the posh schools in the UK — Lynley naturally speaks with a flawless RP accent. Barbara Havers decidedly does not (hers appears to be Estuary English with a hint of East London), and never hesitates to mock him for it whenever the opportunity presents itself.
  • I Have Your Partner: A couple of perps try and pull this on Lynley with Havers. This is a universally bad move.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Or rather, "D'you fancy a drink?" — frequently said by one partner to the other after a particularly hard case.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: What happens once Lynley manages to administer the above-mentioned Cooldown Hug, although we don't see the evidence as her face is buried against his shirt. Barbara in general is not a pretty crier, but then, neither is Lynley.
  • In Love with Love: Lynley believes his feelings for Helen were this.
  • Instant Death Stab: Averted in "Payment In Blood", where a single stab through the throat is enough to kill the victim, but only because it impales her to a mattress, allowing a bleed-out.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Barbara. She is and always will be a blunt, outspoken, cranky, Deadpan Snarker Sarcastic Devotee, but by and large, her harsh personality is a defense mechanism against a lifetime of torment and ridicule. One of the most critical moments of her first case with Lynley is him catching on to the fact that it is an act and telling her she doesn't have to do it any more; he knows she's a good person, and in fact he genuinely cares about her. This freaks Barbara the hell out, but she gets used to it. Eventually.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Seems to be the killer's motive in the episode "In Divine Proportion". The killer is a police officer. Years ago, he murdered a rapist after the rapist's victim committed suicide. In the episode, he kills the victim's sister, and at the end of the episode is ready to kill everyone who helped him kill the rapist.
  • Last-Name Basis: Lynley and Havers are this, with a couple of exceptions. The first one, noted lower down, is You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious; the other is when Havers is staying with him at the family estate in Cornwall. This is lampshaded in "In The Guise Of Death" when Lynley wants her help on a local murder investigation; he wakes her up at an ungodly hour of the morning, briskly saying, "Come on, Havers! Follow me!" Havers snarks:
    Barbara: Oh, see? Now you want my help, it's bye-bye 'Barbara' and hello 'Havers'!
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Once they get on even footing with each other, their bickering takes on a hefty shading of this. It really becomes apparent after the events of "In Divine Proportion"; the next episode in particular ("In The Guise Of Death") is especially notable for this vibe.
  • Limited Social Circle: Our Heroes do spend time with people other than each other, but none of them seem to last more than a few episodesnote , or at most a single seriesnote . The only characters to not fall victim to this, aside from their police superiors, are Helennote , their coworker DC Winston Nkatanote , and the Medical Examiner Stuart Laffertynote . And even they aren't seen hanging out with the main duo outside of work to any great extent. And finally, they can't be apart for any great length of time. Lynley goes to Cornwall for vacation? Havers goes along. Havers gets demoted? Lynley calls her in on every case he can. Etc, etc, etc. Let's face it; at the end of the day, they just keep coming back to each other.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: As spikewriter on LJ put it, Lynley and Havers are "...two screwed-up individuals who are surviving as well as they are because they found someone they could cling to." Fortunately, unlike most uses of this trope, it actually makes them a bit more emotionally stable. Once they find and lock on to each other, the worst of their flaws are slowly but surely mitigated.
  • Love Hurts: Something that Lynley experiences again and again and again in his life.
  • Love Martyr: Goes along with Living Emotional Crutch, although it's not openly romantic. Barbara sticks with Lynley even though he is, at first, a frankly high-handed and often arrogant berk to pretty much everyone, even when he later takes all his pain out on her because she's the only safe outlet he has. Meanwhile, Lynley sticks with Barbara despite her being, initially, a Jerkass Woobie who deliberately pushes everyone — especially him — away with harsh words because she's too scared to believe anyone could possibly like and/or respect her for herself. In addition, both have a Dark and Troubled Past with a cartload of baggage and family issues galore. Any sane person would have gone running, and in fact all of their previous partners did just that. Fortunately for them both, they find exactly what they need — although not always exactly what they want — in each other.
  • Maybe Ever After: No romantic interest is ever overtly expressed on either side between Lynley and Havers, but the series ends with both of them unattached, reunited as partners, and the most important person in each others' lives. Now keep in mind that these same two characters had explicitly acknowledged each other as their reason to get up in the morning. Cue post-series headcanon galore.
  • Must Have Caffeine: British or not, they're still cops. It's not uncommon to see one or the other of them with two paper coffee cups in hand — one for their partner, and one for them. Whether the substance inside is coffee or tea, however, is anybody's guess. (When not on the job, they tend to drink alcohol. And they need it, poor things.)
  • Never One Murder: Again, British detective drama. It's never just one murder.
  • New Meat: Billy, a young rookie DC who shows up twice in Series 3. He's well meaning, but still very young and boyish. Barbara takes a shine to him.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Lynley works at Scotland Yard though he's both rich and the eighth Earl of Asherton. Barbara is deeply uncomfortable with his wealth, being a Working-Class Hero, but is noticeably less uptight when she visits Howenstow in the fourth series than she was in the second and generally less likely to flee when any hint of it comes up as the show goes on.
    • As the series goes on, it's revealed that despite being Oxford-educated, Lynley worked his way up the ranks from Constable to Detective Inspector.
  • Not a Morning Person: Most obvious in "In The Guise Of Death", when Lynley finds out the hard way that a Havers awakened too early and denied caffeine is not exactly the most pleasant creature to be around. The results are amusing.
  • The Not-Love Interest: As has been demonstrated time and time again, no one will ever be as important to Thomas Lynley or Barbara Havers as they are to each other.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Havers has a knack for pulling the "I'm just an uneducated working-class bumpkin" or the "I'm just a silly little girl" front when she needs to trick suspects into confiding in her. Behind this façade is a sharp-as-a-tack police officer with street smarts and common sense that can make Lynley look stupid.
  • Odd Couple: Whose bright idea was it to pair an Eton-and-Oxford-schooled hereditary Lord with a cranky, sarcastic working-class sergeant? A genius, of course. They were, and remained, very different people, but this only seemed to strengthen the bond between them. Of course, the person doing the pairing didn't exactly have that outcome in mind...
  • Oh, Crap!: Multiple times, considering the nature of their work. One of the most notable comes when Lynley realises that Barbara is trapped inside a pub at gunpoint and that this is going to trigger her like nothing else. The only thing that stops him from going in on the spot is an armed assault team holding him back.
    • Havers, during the same scene, takes this trope to even higher levels, going chalk white with absolute fear. Considering she's on the wrong end of the exact same kind of gun that put her in hospital at the end of the last episode, she has every reason to be terrified, but the kicker is that she doesn't make a production of it. She stops viewers' hearts in pure terror with nothing more than a facial expression and the words, "He's here."
  • One Head Taller: Lynley and Havers.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: One of a very few British detective series not to follow this trope, in yet another example of this show breaking the mold. Although their ages are never given in-series, Nathaniel Parker is only five years older than Sharon Small.
  • One of Our Own: "Limbo". Barbara Havers has no intention of letting her partner get convicted of murder.
  • Opposites Attract: Cranky, has-class-issues working-class Sergeant paired with an Oxford-educated Inspector who happens to be a hereditary Lord? Violence waiting to happen, right? Not so much.
  • Parental Issues: Both Lynley and Havers are hounded by these:
    • Havers has spent much of her life reminding her parents that they failed to care properly for her brother - their younger son - while he was dying of cancer. Now that both parents are mentally unwell, Havers has a raging Guilt Complex.
    • Lynley is tormented by the fact that his mother cheated on his father with the family doctor while his father lay dying. This becomes the main source of angst in "A Suitable Vengeance", when Lynley and his fiancée spend a few days with his mother at Howenstowe.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Lynley. This makes for some interesting confrontations with Barbara, as their fights often consisted of her yelling and him using sarcasm to lethal effect.
  • The Power of Trust: The hard-earned building of this is entire foundation of the show, and what makes watching it worthwhile.
  • Protectorate: There is nothing Barbara Havers will not do to protect children — probably because of her dead little brother. She'll also stop at nothing to rescue her partner. Meanwhile, Lynley is protective of quite a few things — mostly children and his wife. But there is no single faster way to make Thomas Lynley lose his cool than putting Barbara Havers in danger - any semblance of reason usually goes out the window when she's threatened. As in, it takes an armed assault team to keep him from bursting into the pub where Barbara is being held hostage at gunpoint in "In Divine Proportion".
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Barbara's large, expressive green eyes are more than capable of this, and clue the audience in to her vulnerability when she's covering it up with a scathing remark. It is, in fact, largely because of her eyes that Barbara is such a sympathetic character; if her eyes didn't provide a window into just what a good reason she has to be defensive and prickly, she would come off as a complete bitch in early episodes.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Havers is red, Lynley is blue. However, as is this show's habit, the reality is slightly more complex: Havers is certainly more fiery and hotheaded in daily life, but she is generally the cool, collected one in a crisis, whereas Lynley is usually the more rational and pragmatic one, but tends to panic when the shit hits the fan. Also, Lynley is more likely to fly off the handle at suspects, whereas Havers is more likely to react with Tranquil Fury. In fact, by the end of the show, the two might be said to have swapped their "red" and "blue" alignments altogether.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Lynley and Helen start as friends. Matters progress over the course of the show.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Barbara Havers snarks up, down, and all around at Lynley and is the first to tell him when she thinks he's about to do something stupid. There is also no force in the universe strong enough to break her loyalty to him or to keep her from moving heaven and earth to get back to him. And God forbid anyone else say anything remotely unpleasant about him!
  • Satellite Love Interest: Helen, who has very little purpose other than to be Lynley's love interest.
  • Scenery Porn: Whenever the main characters solve cases outside of London.
  • Security Cling: The aforementioned Cry into Chest doubles as this — they're both absolutely terrified after what had just happened.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: ...yet.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Lynley, at the start, which doesn't help Havers' perception of him. Interestingly, as the series goes by, Lynley starts to lose some of the sharpness for more casual attire (compare his suit and tie in the pilot, with his shirt and jeans in the "Know Thine Enemy"), while Havers sharpens up her appearance.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Barbara appears to be this for Lynley and Helen. Whether she a) genuinely wants them to get together, b) genuinely wants them to get together and doesn't realize she's in love with Lynley, c) genuinely wants them to get together but is in unrequited love with Lynley anyway, or d) is in unrequited love with Lynley and is encouraging him in order to hide her own feelings is a matter for endless debate.
    • Meta example: Nathaniel Parker says he considers Sharon Small his little sister. He also ships Lynley/Havers like it's going out of style, and said that had he been in charge of the series, the last episode would have them walking off into the sunset holding hands.
  • Ship Sinking: Meta example. In the PBS airing of "Missing Joseph", host Diana Rigg notes that "it might appear that Sergeant Havers has a thing for her partner" but hastily goes on to mention that "she gives him nothing but grief" (while apparently missing and/or ignoring the fact that the subtext in the first season alone could crush your average linebacker). She then goes on to note that Lynley is already in love with Helen Clyde - who dies at the end of series 5. Considering that shippers have looked past blood relationships, death, little-to-no interaction, and not even being from the same universe, this is hardly proof positive that nothing will ever happen, and in fact they are given an open ending with all romantic competition out of the way and seven years of added depth to their relationship. In light of all this, the denial is not particularly convincing.
  • Shirtless Scene: Lynley gets a couple. Thankfully, Nat Parker is... quite a good-looking bloke.
  • Sideways Smile: Yumna gets an unconcealed look of glee on her face when she realises that Shala is pregnant out of wedlock. This is part of the big Bitch Alert that her introduction is during the episode "Deception on His Mind".
  • Slumming It: Tangled up in all the many reasons Barbara Havers initially loathes Thomas Lynley is her perception that he is doing this. He's not, is rather offended she'd think so, and proceeds to disabuse her of the notion in short order. After she eats humble pie, she gains a tremendous amount of respect for him.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Lynley and Havers. Lots of it.
  • Strictly Professional Relationship: Allegedly.
  • Subordinate Excuse: When Barbara is demoted at the beginning of series 3, Lynley plays this trope to the hilt to keep her with him, and calls her in on every case he possibly can even though she's not technically under his supervision any more. When forced to justify this to his supervisor, he tells said supervisor that he's calling her in because she's proven that she can work with him effectively and that paper-shuffling will be good for her. This is absolutely true, and has absolutely nothing to do with why he wants her around.
  • Survivor Guilt: Implied to be the main cause of Lynley's Heroic BSoD following Helen's death, as she was shot right in front of him because of a case he was working.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Our two heroes start out as this. It evolves rather quickly into Fire-Forged Friends.
  • True Companions: It doesn't seem to matter how badly they're fighting this week — any outside attempt to turn them against each other will fail, and probably end whatever fight they're having to boot.
  • Turn in Your Badge: In "Limbo", Lynley is on indefinite compassionate leave after Helen's death when he is hauled in for questioning on suspicion of murder. Naturally, he ropes Barbara in to help him as they fight to clear his name.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Averted. Both of the main characters are at serious risk of being fired at least once during the series' run.
  • Undying Loyalty: It must be seen to be believed. There's nothing these two would not do for each other.
    Lynley: No, see, that's the thing I think you've got wrong. I think he's counting on my loyalty to you.
    • "A Traitor To Memory" also shows this between Chief Superintendent Webberley and Detective Sergeant Leach, who were partners years before, who're another upper-class/working-class pair.
  • Unequal Pairing: Lynley/Havers has this in spades, in both class disparity and in rank. This is somewhat mitigated in that by the end of the series their interactions are much, much more those of police partners as opposed to superior/subordinate, but there are still massive, massive issues to overcome. The entire fandom ships them anyway.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Many episodes can be seen as this.
    • "One Guilty Deed" and "If Wishes Were Horses", which both involve Lynley running to Havers' aid after she gets hit with a rock and shot, respectively. Very special mention to the latter, where Lynley calls her "Barbara" and not "Havers."
    • The last two scenes of "In Divine Proportion", in which Barbara is held hostage at gunpoint on her first case back from getting shot. The way he holds her close and soothes her is... a bit more than friendly. Especially that kiss he presses to the top of her head...
    • The "Shower Scene" in "One Guilty Deed", when they dance around each other in tight quarters while she's in pyjamas and he's in - a towel.
    • "Word Of God" where he breaks off a date, shows up at Barbara's flat in the middle of the night and questions whether or not he ever truly loved Helen. Immediately after this, they admit that they are each others' reason to get up in the morning — sorry, was this supposed to be subtext??
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Lynley and Havers, of course.
  • The Watson: Havers, usually, although as noted above it isn't uncommon for Lynley to be this to her as well.
  • Wham Episode: Most of the series finales. Series 2 had the events in the North Sea that led to Barbara's demotion, Series 3 had Helen's miscarriage and Barbara being shot, Series 4 had Lynley's suspension, and Series 5 had Helen's death. Series 6 didn't follow this pattern, but that was because the show was cancelled before the third and fourth episodes of the series could be completed.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Hadiyyah and Azhar vanish without explanation after the events of "Deception On His Mind", incidentally removing the only viable romantic interest not named Thomas Lynley Barbara ever has on the show.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Part of the reason Lynley and Havers are such an effective team is not simply because they're willing to call each other out, both personally and professionally, but because they listen to each other when their partner is directing one of these at them.
  • With Due Respect: Any variant of this phrase out of Barbara's mouth is code for, "I'm about to tell you I think you're an idiot." She's usually right. Its sister phrase, "Yes, sir," is code for, "I think you're an idiot, but I'm following your orders because I have to."
  • Workaholic: Both Lynley and Havers, who can't pass up so much as a sniff of a mystery, to the point where they will quite literally drop anything and everything else to solve one. Even when they're on holiday.
  • Working-Class Hero: Barbara fits this far more than she doesn't, as she's much better than Lynley when it comes to street smarts and, frequently, reading people's interactions, particularly those of the working class — Lynley tends to get a bit clueless about these things when he's not among the powerful or well-educated. This is, of course, why they are perfect partners for each other. Incidentally, Slate Magazine called her "one of the great working-class characters of British television."
  • Worth Living For: Lynley and Havers, for each other:
    Lynley: How do you do it? Living alone.
    Havers: Oh... you get used to it. I've never been married, never had anything you could call a relationship. So you get to a point where you just have to accept what you are, what you have. And then you find something else, and that gives you the reason to get up in the morning. And I have that, don't I.
    Lynley: We both do.
  • Wunza Plot: He's a Lord with a title and a complicated personal life. She's a cranky, foul-mouthed working-class junk food addict with massive class resentment issues.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: When Lynley calls Havers "Barbara", like when Havers gets shot, at which point Lynley loses it quite spectacularly and can only say, "Barbara? Barbara??"

Alternative Title(s): The Inspector Lynley Mysteries