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Series / Jack Ryan

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Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan is a 2018 spy drama on Prime Video, based on the character of the same name by Tom Clancy. It is produced by Carlton Cuse (Lost), Michael Bay, and John Krasinski, the latter of whom stars in the title role.

Jack Ryan (Krasinski) is an ordinary CIA analyst who, after noticing some questionable financial transfers, is thrust into international espionage, taking him from his desk job and into serious life-or-death matters — such as a growing threat in the Middle East who's planning a large-scale act of terrorism on the United States.

Wendell Pierce, Abbie Cornish, and Peter Fonda also appear in supporting roles. Jack Ryan is notable for featuring the fifth live-action portrayal of the character (Krasinski), following turns by Alec Baldwin (The Hunt for Red October), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger), Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears), and Chris Pine (Shadow Recruit). It's also the first television series based on the Jack Ryan character.


Jack Ryan contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Suleiman. He was a business graduate who couldn't find a job due to the prejudices he had to deal with, fell in with extremists and travelled to Syria to join the fight against Syrian dictator Assad. His intelligence made him a very useful fighter which garnered the respect of the fighters around him, respect which went to his head and made him increasingly ambitious and ruthless in his terrorist activities in order to maintain and increase his prestige amongst his followers. For all his rhetoric and sympathetic backstory, he is really just trying to feed his ego by becoming an infamous terrorist.
  • Adaptational Badass: The literary Greer's battles were primarily fought from a desk. This series' version of Greer frequently goes into the field with a gun and tells Jack that he needs to be quicker pulling the trigger.
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  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Zigzagged. While this is the first time Cathy Ryan has been portrayed as the blonde that Tom Clancy wrote her as, Abbie Cornish has green eyes rather than the canonical blue eyes Tom wrote her as having.
  • Adaptational Distillation: Much like Shadow Recruit, this series isn't based on any particular book of the Jack Ryan franchise.
    • It takes elements of Executive Orders (Ebola), Sum of All Fears (smuggling of the weapons), and the Jack Jr books (financial analyst).
  • Adaptational Job Change:
    • Jack, in this series, left a lucrative Wall Street job to join the CIA because of a strong sense of duty. In the books, Jack pursued a career in academia (teaching history at the US Naval Academy) after becoming independently wealthy on Wall Street and had to be actively recruited by Greer to become a CIA analyst. This version of Jack also spent longer in the Marines, whereas his literary counterpart was injured and given a medical discharge almost as soon as he was commissioned.
    • In the books, James Greer is a career sailor who moved laterally into the CIA. In this series, Jim Greer is a career CIA officer.
    • Cathy was an ophthalmic surgeon in the books, but an infectious disease researcher in this series.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Cathy's last name goes from Muller in the books to Mueller in this series.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: A female terrorist who reluctantly dons a suicide vest has a last-minute change of heart and begs the French police to help her. They instinctively shoot her dead instead, which ironically makes her let go of the dead-man switch she is holding and sets it off anyway.
  • Angry White Man: One of the French cops turns out to be Islamophobic who thinks that Muslims are taking over the country and trying to force their ways on the French people. Finding out that the guy he is riding with (Greer) is a Muslim makes him shut his mouth.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Ibrahim apologises to a Muslim woman when he bumps into her while walking out of a restaurant he just left a bomb in. He comes across her still-alive, badly burnt body in the hospital later and can't bear to look at her.
  • The Atoner: Tombstone the drone operator. Episode 3 shows his general guilt over killing targets from afar, yet the very laws of probability seem to conspire to reward him more and more for it. Later, he has a breakdown upon finding out that one of his kills was a family man misidentified as a terrorist. This drives him to seek out the man's family so he can pay reparations to them.
  • Being Evil Sucks: Ali starts coming to this realisation in Paris when hiding with a foster parent who reminds him of all the old dreams he lost sight of in pursuit of his terrorist goals. He is mortified when he is ordered to murder the man and his children, but luckily can't go through with it. He dies bloody and alone in the dark French woods, visibly miserable with how things have turned out for him.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Greer finally puts Yazid down.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Jack goes behind Greer's back to freeze a bank account suspected to be Suleiman's, after Greer continues to stall on even believing Suleiman exists. Greer then reveals he did agree the account was worth investigating, but he would have preferred to let it keep going a while until they could get eyes on the whole terror network and mop them up in a single swoop. Jack retorts that Suleiman could well be able to launch his attack before they could do that, and it's clear that there's no easy answer to this kind of situation.
    • Terrorist Suleiman is introduced sympathetically as he and his brother were victims of a bombing raid as children, which also saw the death of their mother and immediate family.
  • Clark Kenting: The world's most notorious terrorist, who has just managed to get at the friggin' President with a biological weapon and had earlier killed over 300 people in a French church, gets past a customs agent at a private airport (along with his son) wearing nothing more than a pair of glasses.
  • Continuity Reboot: Jack Ryan isn't connected to any other adaptations featuring the character.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Inverted. Suleiman graduated in the top 5% of his class with a business degree, but his insecurity along with the prejudices of his prospective employers prevented him from getting a job as a young man, despite being years ahead of his time in predicting the rise of digital banking. When he became an Islamic extremist, however, his skills were invaluable to making and laundering money, resulting in his particular network being vastly more financially sophisticated than most others, enabling them to be well-financed and much harder to track.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Jack and Greer are well aware of how each other clearly have one, with Jack's back injury that got him put at a desk and Greer's misdeed that left him with this dead-end assignment.
  • Dirty Business:
    • Jack quickly discovers that stopping Suleiman might require him to be morally "flexible" and make compromises.
    • During their mission in Turkey, Jack and Greer hire the services of a Turkish mobster who has the criminal connections to help them navigate the people smuggling network so they can locate Hanin and her daughters. As a result, they become accessories to two murders committed by their contact. However, the mobster's help is completely necessary, and if they did not hire him, Hanin would have been raped and killed. In addition, Greer is forced to kill a man in cold blood as the only way to keep Hanin and her daughters together.
    • Jack has to lie to his friends and his new girlfriend because he is not allowed to tell them that he works for the CIA.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Suleiman buys the loyalty of the men of his boss Al-Radwan, who hasn't paid them in months and is generally less charismatic and competent, becoming the leader of their local militia and terror cell.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Suleiman is admired by extremists of different Islamic sects, and his own group comprises of Sunni, Shia, and Salafi extremists.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Suleiman and his brother Ali were set on their path in their childhood when both were severely injured in an indiscriminate American carpet bombing, and have plenty of warm friendship moments. Suleiman also has a wife and three children, and relations in France. The series proves to be a Deconstruction — Suleiman's activities end up leading to his brother dying and his wife and daughters doing everything to get away from him, while he meanwhile attempts to turn his son into another terrorist. He also orders his brother to kill a foster family they once belonged to in order to leave no witnesses behind, though Ali can't bring himself to do it.
  • Expy: The covert operative who calls himself Garth (after country music singer Garth Brooks) appears to be a stand-in for the character of John Clark from the novels. The showrunners were unable to get the rights for John Clark due to the character rights being attached to a yet-unnamed film project, although they have said that it's possible John Clark may show up in later seasons.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: Parodied. Ali receives a bagful of white bricks and he jabs a knife into one of them to check its contents. Instead of drugs, however, the bricks turn out to be stacks of SIM cards.
  • First-Episode Spoiler: The "bodyguard" captured along with Suleiman's agent is in fact Suleiman himself.
  • Forensic Accounting: Jack's job as a CIA analyst has him looking through records of financial transactions and looking for anomalies. The plot of the series is kicked off when Jack discovers a number of suspicious money transfers from France to a bank in Yemen. A large part of the investigation involves tracking the money to its source and determining what the Big Bad is going to use it for.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Greer is reading through Jack's file, sharp-eyed viewers will notice that it's riddled with spelling errors like "God Conduct Medal", "Certificat of Appreciation", and "Riffle Qualification".
  • Genius Bruiser: Jack Ryan is a tall and extremely muscular military veteran who is also a brilliant financial analyst.
  • Grave Robbing: How Suleiman and his brother got their sample of vaccine-resistant Ebola, by stealing a corpse from a victim of the virus.
  • Hate Sink: Yazid is a creepy asshole who thinks nothing of trying to rape his boss' wife or young teenage daughter. Unlike other members of Suleiman's organization, he has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
  • I Have Your Wife: Invoked in the final episode, when Jack shouts "I have your son!" at Suleiman. This causes Suleiman to look back at Jack, giving his position away and allowing Jack to shoot him dead.
  • I Was Never Here: Most of the events of the first season did not officially happen. This is lampshaded in the second episode where the events in Yemen are covered up and it is stated that officially, no American soldiers were in Yemen and none were killed there.
  • Insistent Terminology: Jack wryly tells Cathy that he's a CIA officer, not an agent.
    Jack: The movies get that wrong all the time.
  • Ironic Name: It's noted that "Suleiman" means "man of peace."
  • It's All About Me: Suleiman’s motives are ultimately implied to be rather childish and self-serving. It’s true that he got a real raw deal in his life, but his reasons for becoming a terrorist mastermind are slowly revealed to be less ideological and more a desperate desire to feel important. It comes off that he’s just lashing out at all of western culture because he feels it has wronged him personally and so everyone associated with it is held responsible for his woes.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Ibrahim, the Evil Genius of the Suleiman cell, manages to get out of America after the rest of the terrorists are killed, but 4 months later, Mattice tracks him down and executes him anyway.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Suleiman is very charismatic and good at persuading terrorists from other cells to join him, and he is also able to trick the Americans into thinking he was just a bodyguard when they had him in custody. But the real coup he pulled was tricking his doctor hostages into poisoning themselves with Ebola disguised as vitamins and medicines, and bonus points for tricking the lead doctor into asking for them rather than just offering it himself. His attacks in general operate on killing a small number of people in order to exploit how larger numbers react to such attacks as well.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: One reading of the ending of "Black 22": Hanin insists that God will protect her and her daughters, as long as they keep moving. Later on, Victor, guilt-ridden from the numerous people he has killed as a drone operator, witnesses Yazid attempting to rape Hanin, and decides to kill him despite orders not to engage. Hanin dusts herself off, gathers her daughters, and reiterates her previous statement that God would protect them. Victor, on the verge of being arrested for his actions, is given a reprieve as his commander receives another phone call, implied to be the kill order for Yazid. Divine intervention, or just Victor's atypically good luck?
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • Ryan blames himself for the crash that killed his Marines. His squad was sent to evacuate a family targeted by the Taliban; he took on an extra passenger, an orphan boy from the village; the boy was a suicide bomber and took down the helo, killing everyone except Ryan.
    • Greer's last mission before being Reassigned to Antarctica was the recruitment of a high-ranking Pakistani official to work as a spy for the US. Greer misread the situation, acted too quickly, and the target threatened to turn Greer in to Pakistani security forces. Rather than risk being captured, imprisoned, and tortured by the Pakistanis, Greer stabbed the official to death. This tanked Greer's career and left him haunted by the guilt of murdering a man and orphaning his children simply because the guy did not want to betray his country.
  • Narcissist: Suleiman. He always appears well-dressed and groomed and at one point orders a new recruit to tidy himself up and dress better, telling him that doing so will improve his self-respect. He thinks that one reason he failed to get a job in the French banking sector is that he didn't dress well enough, and beyond his vanity, he displays an utter Lack of Empathy for any of his victims; moreover, he is implied to get his own sense of self-worth from how how successful a radical terrorist others see him as. He also sees his wife and children as extensions of himself, and at least some of his terrorist acts may have been driven by petty revenge against countries he feels have wronged him personally.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Played with. Jack takes Cathy out on a date to a restaurant. Her glass is slightly dirty, so Jack calls the restaurant's owner over to complain. Things quickly escalate and it looks like the two men are about to start throwing punches. Cathy is quite unimpressed by Jack's macho posturing over a few smudges on a wine glass. Then it is revealed that the restaurant owner is actually an old family friend of Jack's and the two men are actually just teasing each other. Jack introduces Cathy to his old friend and she is very amused by the entire situation.
  • Noble Demon: Tony, the pimp from Episode 6, is a vile and reprehensible businessman who regularly beats and even rapes women. And yet, when Greer dangles some cash in front of him, he works his ass off to earn it. At the end, even Jack (to say that he loathes Tony is an understatement) had to bite the bullet and begrudgingly acknowledge his help was invaluable, paying the man the rest of the promised money. Though no way in hell was he going to say "thank you."
  • Origin Story: The series has been described as one for Ryan, which follows him from his early days as a CIA desk jockey to the super-spy he's known to become. When the series begins, he's only been an analyst for four years.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Exaggerated, to the point they actually try to justify it, when Greer tells Ryan to try and crack Suleiman's phone, despite both of them knowing that the Agency's professional crackers and their computer algorithms have failed on the grounds that everyone, including terrorist masterminds, resorts to personal passwords for their important information. Sure enough, his password is his prison number.
    Greer: Every password is personal to the person that creates it.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Yazid had introduced himself as a creep and a scumbag from the get-go, but getting spotted trying to rape Hanin by a drone operator earns him a missile.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Greer was Chief of Karachi Station (a plum, career-advancing posting) before being reassigned to Chief of Terror Finance and Arms Division (a backroom office that does tedious data analysis), which is a significant step down. He even calls it a backwater posting. Jack wonders how badly Greer must have messed up to have had his career derailed so dramatically.
  • Red Right Hand: Yazid's rotten teeth mark him as a scumbag even among terrorists.
  • Reflexive Response: Jack pulls one of these in the final episode. Specifically, he's looking for Suleiman in a subway station crowded with Washington Nationals fans, and Suleiman has disguised himself in a Nationals cap and flag. But when Jack shouts "I have your son!" in Arabic, Suleiman can't help but turn his head. This lets Jack get a bead on Suleiman and shoot him dead.
  • Running Gag: Jack bulldozing his way into conversations way above his pay grade. He finally goes as far as doing it to the president, to which Greer simply moans, "Oh sweet Jesus!"
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Subverted. Joe Mueller is planning on making a large investment in a South Korean company and is worried that an escalation of tensions with North Korea will negatively affect that company. His old employee and friend Jack Ryan works for the State Department, so Joe asks him to give him heads up on any changes in US government policy on North Korea. He even offers to cut Jack in on the deal. Unfortunately for Joe, Jack does not actually work for the State Department, and if he did, he is too ethical to actually divulge such sensitive information.
  • Sole Survivor: Ryan ended up this in Afghanistan when the helicopter he was on went down, killing everyone else aboard. He is clearly traumatized and feels quite guilty about this. It is eventually revealed that the reason he feels so responsible is because the bomber who took the helicopter down was a child Ryan himself had allowed aboard.
  • Something Only They Would Say: When the CIA figures out that Suleiman and his people are communicating through video game chat programs, they try to set a trap by posing as his brother Ali. Toward the end of the exchange, Suleiman says "Peace be with you," and realizes that they're impostors when they don't respond with Ali's usual quip, "Not if she's been with you first."
  • Springtime for Hitler: A drone pilot named "Tombstone" spends much of his subplot in episode 3 trying to get rid of the 104 dollars he earned through dark bets as to who could score a kill in his group before their shift was up (in single increments per kill. Do the math). Trying to gamble it away doesn't work, as he inexplicably manages to win over 30,000 dollars at roulette. When it looks like he's about to be robbed by a high-roller couple who are into cuckoldry, they just leave him with his blood money after they're done fulfilling their fetish. Ultimately, he makes peace with his many impersonal murders when he uses the drone to hit Yazid, accepting his new dollar with grace.
  • Start of Darkness: Suleiman keeps getting flashbacks that seem like they were the tipping point, but are actually just another step on the path: He and his brother are caught in American carpet bombing and gruesomely injured, but he still aspires to be a French banker. Then he's he's unable to secure a job due to racist and dismissive attitudes of the French banks, but he's still content to live a lowly life in Paris. Then he's subjected to a random incident of police brutality and imprisoned. It's in prison where he finally becomes radicalized.


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