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Series / Jekyll

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"Heard of good cop, bad cop? This is the movie!"
Tom Jackman, Jekyll

Jekyll is a bizarre six-episode British TV series from 2007, written by Steven Moffat as a deconstruction of the Jekyll & Hyde trope and a partial sequel to The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It tells the story of the scientist Dr. Tom Jackman (James Nesbitt), and his Mr. Hyde, who coexist in an uneasy relationship, the two communicating through a dictaphone and "changing" at designated times. Unfortunately, Jackman has a wife (Gina Bellman) and children, and he will go to any length to prevent his other side from finding out about them and hires a psychiatric nurse named Katherine Reimer (Michelle Ryan) to aid him. But even worse is the arrival of a shadowy agency intent on capturing Hyde for their own ends.

Not to be confused with the other British Jekyll and Hyde series, ITV's Jekyll and Hyde (2015).

Tropes featured in Jekyll include:

  • Abusive Offspring: Benjamin claims that he used to beat his father.
  • Actor Allusion: Colonel Hart, the leader of the mercenaries, decides to back off and let Hyde leave rather than avenge his dead boss, whom he couldn't stand. He's played by Malcolm Storry, who decided to give up the gate key rather than have his arms torn off.
  • Affably Evil: Most of the Klein & Utterson employers seem to be more or less Punch-Clock Villains for the most part, their CEO not so much, but Syme takes the prize as he's so harmless as a villain that when he tries to be badass, it ends up failing for him. And when Syme manages to actually do something useful, it ends up killing him.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Perhaps not all girls, but Mr. Hyde certainly seems to appeal to a few. Subverted by Claire, who finds him irritating and Katherine, who instead has the hots for the far more beige, but kind and decent, Tom Jackman.
    Claire: Let's be honest, just us girls together. All good taste and decency aside; he does spend half his time as a world-class hottie.
    Katherine: Yes, and he spends the other half as Mr. Hyde! ....oh, you meant the other... the other way around... see what I did there?
    Claire: ...You have good taste.
  • All Lesbians Want Kids: One of the lesbians who aids Jackman throughout the series is pregnant. (Real Life Writes the Plot: her actress was pregnant, so they just wrote it into the script. It doesn't come up in any really meaningful way.)
  • Alone with the Psycho:
    • Episode 2 has Katherine ending up locked in the apartment with Hyde while the cameras are off. She's appropriately terrified but actually gets out of it unharmed, though possibly traumatized.
    • Again invoked by Hyde who demands the Agency turn off their cameras so he can slaughter Jackman's wife and children. It's so he can save them.
  • Alternate Identity Amnesia: Neither Jackman nor Hyde share memories, and at first communicate only by dictaphone.
  • AM/FM Characterization: The show establishes Hyde's personality through his fondness for Disney songs.
  • Anachronic Order: One later episode focuses on Jackman's life before Hyde, and him realizing his condition. Several episodes also have a Cold Open that starts in the present before changing time.
  • Being Good Sucks: The methods Jackman takes to keep Hyde away from his family and not doing too much harm pretty much ruin his life.
  • Berserk Button: Don't you ever, EVER lie to Hyde.
  • Big Bad Friend: Peter Syme turns out to be working against Jackman. And makes the argument that after so long pretending to be a friend they really are friends, even after betraying him.
  • Big Blackout: Changing between Jackman/Hyde causes nearby lights to flicker. At one point, the entire city of London powers down when they merge into a single being for the first time.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The first actual death is Benjamin's.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: This is one of the warning signs that Hyde is about to show up, and they're one of the few cosmetic changes made to show the difference between the main character's two personalities.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Seeing the CEO do the Nightmare Face, from what we saw of Mr. Hyde doing it, sometimes means death for the victim. Unfortunately, that's the last shot of the series, with no indication of whether Jackman gets out alive.
  • Boring, but Practical: How they kill Hyde: a bunch of men with machine guns get Hyde at one end of a bare hallway and shoot him a lot.
  • British Brevity: Only a single mini-series of 6 episodes was ever created; given how Tom's character arc is pretty much wrapped up this was probably by design. Though there are sequel hooks at the end of the last episode, and Moffat has mentioned the possibility of a second series...
  • Bullying a Dragon: So many people try this on Hyde and quickly wish they hadn't.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Hyde does this to Christopher, the man who placed Eddie in the lion's den. Jackman allows it to happen.
    • Also with Hyde's first chronological outing-he absolutely goes to town on a street thug who earlier on had sexually harassed and intimidated Claire.
  • Colonel Badass: Colonel Hart, who stands his ground when the rest of his team of younger and better-armed mercenaries have fled, and fires the final shot that incapacitates Hyde.
  • Combo Platter Powers: Hyde has super strength, super speed, enhanced senses, genius intellect, super-human aim, genetic and hallucinatory memory, enhanced durability, a limited ability to manipulate electricity, a ridiculously high pain threshold, and he can control lions. He can also stop injuries he suffers affecting Tom. He might also have some degree of mind control power, or at least the power to influence minds — in the last episode he's able to cause a number of people to hallucinate, causing them to see the words "RUN IF YOU WANT TO LIVE" all over the place.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Blood, sand, dust, window-fog...
  • Cradling Your Kill: Hyde does this mockingly with his first victim.
  • Creepy Twins: Claire and Tom's twin kids are mostly normal throughout the series, but at the end, it's strongly implied that they've inherited the Hyde personality from Tom... and may in fact represent the divide rather than keep it lurking within themselves. Such as when they get bored and "switch" while confined in cells the size of beer kegs.
  • Direct Line to the Author: The show claims that Robert Louis Stevenson acted as a ghostwriter for the original Jekyll.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Tom and Claire are intimidated by a thug and his gang while on holiday, who sexually harass Claire and humiliate Tom for failing to come to her defense. When Hyde emerges for the first time, he savages the thug and bites off his ear, not even knowing why he wants to (because when Claire is threatened, Tom only subconsciously wishes to harm her tormentor).
  • Double Entendre: When Jackman first meets Claire, he asks what she's into. She cheekily replies "Rich men". Later someone else asks Jackman how things are going at his work. He looks directly at Claire and (in Hyde's voice) says around 250,000 pounds a year. Claire drops her glass in shock.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In the series 1 finale, the show introduces Carver, a merc who is tasked in taking down Hyde. The two finally become face to face with each other and... Hyde just tosses Carver off the roof they were on in a truly hilarious manner.
  • Eagleland: Definite flavor 2, exemplified by Benjamin and presumably every other American at K+U. Also, (end of series spoiler) Tom's mother and Ms. Utterson are respectively British and American, somehow.
  • Enemy Within: Hyde, though he eventually stops being an enemy.
  • Establishing Character Moment: After spending most of the first episode not appearing on screen, the audience's first encounter with Hyde comes when an unfortunate teenager makes the Mugging the Monster mistake. Jackman and Katherine's fear of him is swiftly proven to be entirely justified.
  • Evil Brit: Inverted in that most of the boss-level bad guys in the series are American (albeit with poorly done accents). And those boss level bad guys? Hyde kills them all effortlessly.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Though when coupled with Hyde's Slasher Smile, that isn't exactly reassuring. The scenery isn't the only thing he threatens to eat...
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Hyde adores creating havoc. He will not, however, get in the way of Jackman's family by the end of it all.
  • External Retcon: Of the original The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: Hyde emerges for the first time to inflict grievous bodily harm upon a thug who humiliated Tom and Claire.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Following Katherine's traumatic experience where Hyde seemed quite willing to kill her, Jackman's mother gently berates her for assuming Hyde liked her enough for her to be safe, and says people who deal with wild animals must never forget what they're dealing with.
  • Flash Step: Hyde does it to scare Katherine. And the audience.
  • Genetic Memory: Hyde can not only rewind Tom's memories but he can also access those of their ancestor, Dr. Jekyll. With bonus Lampshade Hanging from the bystanders about how scientifically implausible it is.
  • Helpless Good Side: Averted and deconstructed. For the first half of the series Jackman ruins his life trying to minimize the damage Hyde could cause, particularly to his own family. Although Hyde is meant to be the most intelligent creature on the planet, his immature mind and Jackman's own substantial intelligence and careful planning allow Jackman to keep a quite tight hold on Hyde's actions.
  • Hyde Plays Jekyll: At the start of episode 5, that's Hyde using Tom's memories.
  • Identical Grandson: A plot point in Jekyll is that Dr. Jackman looks identical to the real Dr. Jekyll (allegedly a real historical figure) and must, therefore, be related. Though he's suspected to be a clone, it's ultimately explained by the fact that Jackman is a 'perfect throwback'.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...
    • Hyde does this with gusto.
      Hyde: (dramatic flourish) Gentlemen! If any harm should come to Mrs. Jackman I will kill all of you one by one! And I shall take my tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime!
    • Jackman also informs Hyde that if he ever goes near Jackman's family again it will be a declaration of war.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Hyde often makes threats to this effect, but he's never actually seen following through, despite occasionally using his teeth as a weapon. He may actually do this and it's just offscreen, or he may simply be messing with the people around him. It's not quite clear.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Much like the Hulk, Jackman's changes can be triggered by anger, fear, and arousal. But Hyde can also come through if he's asleep. The third episode plays with the last beautifully.
  • Ironic Echo: Two examples in the fourth episode: "It'll be over in a minute. Finishing touches," and "I apologize for the coffee."
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: "Boys and Girls, Come Out to Play". Not only very appropriate to Hyde, but we later find out it's the jingle of the ice cream van that was playing when Jackman was first truly provoked to unleash Hyde's fury.
  • I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Hyde knows ordinary humans aren't as strong or as fast as he is. However, he's still surprised to learn that they can't do things like detect drugs in their bloodstreams, pull up photo-quality images from their memories, or mentally control lions.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Jackman and Hyde are the modern Jekyll and Hyde.
  • Kavorka Man: Peter Syme, apparently.
  • Kill the Lights: The eponymous Superpowered Evil Side draws from nearby electrical sources to power his transformation. As such, when Dr. Jackman's in a room and the lights flicker and go dark, it's a sign that the psychopath is about to show himself.
  • Large Ham
    • Hyde.
    • Benjamin and Ms. Utterson seem to enjoy going over the top as well.
  • LEGO Genetics: The Men in Black are rushing desperately to find Jackman, because each time he transforms into his Hyde persona (which he can do in less than a minute) his entire genetic structure is apparently changed. This is doing untold amounts of damage, and giving him only a few months to live.
  • Literary Work of Magic: It's revealed that The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a trap to kill anyone seeking Jekyll's abilities, as the potion described is poison. The real source of the abilities turns out to be Jekyll's maid.
  • Living Lie Detector: Hyde claims to be able to detect lies by picking up on physiological indicators with his Super-Senses. He's probably at least a living polygraph.
  • Locked Room Mystery: The villains are dumbfounded when an old lady somehow gets out of a high-tech cell. Which provides a clue to the eventual twist ending.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Peter Syme according to him.
    Peter Syme: Oh for God sake Tom you know me! I don't like anyone. Except my daughters. I mean I-I don't talk to anyone except you. You're the only friend I ever had.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: "Hyde is love — and love is a psychopath."
  • Love Makes You Evil: Both subverted and played straight. It's revealed that the psychopathic Hyde is not a manifestation of all the dark impulses of human nature as commonly believed, but represents the ruthlessness of pure love, prepared to sacrifice anything and anyone for the object of his affection. This is proven by both Henry Jekyll and Tom Jackman's circumstances in which they found love.
  • Mama Bear: Despite knowing full well what Hyde (the most lethal force in the world) can do, Claire says she'll kill him if he goes near her children. (It does help that said most lethal force in the world is in love with her, would never dream of harming her and would literally do anything for her, including sacrifice himself.) The trope itself is discussed when explaining the true nature of Hyde.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Hyde shows these off when he roars.
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: In the final episode, this is how Hyde buys it: getting machine-gunned until he is not able to move anymore and dies of his wounds. He could have transferred some of the damage to Tom and save himself, but decided not to.
  • Mugging the Monster: The audience's first encounter with Hyde comes when a teenage punk is threatening Jackman, only for him to change in the middle of it.
  • Neck Snap: Mister Hyde's definition of "Minimum Necessary Force", notable for the fact it's not an Instant Kill and the victim on the receiving end is left alive but incapacitated.
  • Nerves of Steel: Claire. Despite coming face-to-face with Hyde, she stands her ground against him until she gets the answers she wants.
  • Nightmare Face: Mr. Hyde really likes to do this. There's fangs and black eyes. Seeing as how every time he does it the screen begins to blur, it's left unclear if Hyde's face is actually changing or if he's just using his intimidation and ferocity to make his victims imagine he's doing it.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Hyde to just about any person he attacks. He doesn't seem really capable of anything less.
  • Nominal Hero: Jackman is one. Hyde, invoked not so much.
  • The Nose Knows: Hyde has a superhuman sense of smell as part of his overall Super-Senses package. He can immediately tell that Katherine isn't wearing her normal perfume because another one is underneath.
  • No Social Skills: The Whole Episode Flashback shows that before Tom met Claire he seemed totally incapable of maintaining any kind of conversation, but rather than finding it endearing, it led to tense silences that were uncomfortable for everyone.
  • Oh, Crap!: A few people have them when they realize that Jackman has changed without them realizing, and that they are in fact trapped in a confined space with Hyde.
  • Open the Iris: A non-cute example. Hyde's irises are jagged and black.
  • Papa Wolf
    • You do not threaten Tom's/Hyde's children.
    • Tom is also an interesting example. Klein and Utterson deliberately put Jackman into a situation where Papa Wolf tendencies emerge, by placing his child Eddie in a lion den. This causes the timid and physically weak Jackman to transition into Hyde, willingly doing so at least at a subconscious level, so that he can defend his son. Hyde also mentions afterwards that he can hear Jackman trying to direct Hyde's murderous rage towards the man who placed Eddie in the den.
  • Phoning the Phantom: In episode 2, Hyde figures out how to telepathically talk to Jackman even while Jackman is in control. He first does this by manipulating Jackman's senses to think that Katherine is calling him before revealing it's all in his head, but when Jackman tries to put the phone down, Hyde yells at him to keep it to his ear because the entire point of that ruse was so they could talk without anyone thinking Jackman was crazy.
  • The Power of Love: Apparently where Hyde gets his superpowers from.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Hyde. Several times in the series people refer to Hyde as a child (he even calls Tom "Daddy"). But he also likes to screw anything he fancies and kill/maim anyone who seriously pisses him off. He's even described as a child with all the drives and desires of a grown man. He's a violent sociopath who loves Disney songs. It's a given.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The employees of the corporation.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: As evidenced in the picture at the top.
  • Reflective Eyes: In Episode 2, Christopher Browning is reflected in Hyde's eyes.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Mrs. Calender.
  • Self-Destructive Charge: In the final episode, Hyde is in a trap with him in the middle of a long corridor with a lot of guards with assault rifles at the end. Hyde charges, the men fire. Even if he managed to scare the everliving crap out of some of them, the men with the guns win.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Are you my daddy?"
  • Separated at Birth: Having twins was rather surprising, considering Claire had actually had scans and there was only one heartbeat.
  • Sexier Alter Ego: Hyde attracts a lot of female attention and frequently indulges in recreational sex. Since STD Immunity isn't one of Hyde's "superpowers", Jackman had to explicitly make one of his conditions for their body-share that Hyde must wear condoms.
    • Inverted, with Claire and Catherine considering Jackman to be the more attractive of the two.
  • Shame If Something Happened: The two women from the Calender detective agency were bribed by the shadowy organization Klein and Utterson to not show Mrs. Jackman any of the photos they took of Hyde. They immediately accepted the bribe money because they suspected this trope would come next, and they needed it anyway.
  • Shapeshifting Squick: In the last episode, Hyde teases Jackman's (his Jekyll-side's) wife about how he might want to come out when the two were having sex. She responds, 'I might let you'.
  • Shout-Out: The twins are called Eddie and Harry, presumably making their full names Edward (Hyde) and Henry (Jekyll).
  • A Sinister Clue: One of the differences between Hyde and Dr. Jackman is that Hyde is left-handed while Jackman is not.
  • Sinister Whistling: In keeping with his characterization as a Psychopathic Manchild, Mr. Hyde has a habit of whistling "Boys And Girls, Come Out To Play" — most notably after breaking a young man's neck and expressing a desire to "play lions" with his girlfriend.
  • Slasher Smile: Hyde. Made extra-creepy by his pointed teeth.
  • Smug Snake: Benjamin really is incredibly over-confident considering he actually witnesses what Hyde's capable of. Not only does it end messily for him, but his own subordinates find him so annoying that they let Hyde leave and openly say they couldn't stand him.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Hyde definitely fits this later in the series, killing and torturing multiple people in the name of protecting his/Jackman's family (or in self-defense, or to annoy Tom). But at least some of the things he does, like assaulting Billy, he seems to do more for fun than anything else.
  • Split at Birth: One possible explanation for what Harry and Eddie are, given some of the behavior they exhibit near the end. It's in the genes...
  • Split-Personality Makeover
    • As well as the vastly different ways James Nesbitt portrays them, Hyde looks quite different to Jackman. Hyde is taller, thinner, and younger, he has darker eyes, a receded hairline and a different jawline. This was achieved through camera angles, directing, tailoring, wigs, platform shoes and make-up. In addition, James Nesbitt's Northern Irish accent thickens noticeably when he's Hyde.
    • A more literal example from the last scene of the series: when Jackman's mother changes into Ms. Utterson, she somehow acquires makeup and a completely different hairstyle, not to mention an American accent.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Deliberately orchestrated by Klein and Utterson so that Hyde will win. In the very end Hyde sacrifices himself, knowing Claire will be happier with Jackman. But when Hyde wins...
    "The Doctor is... OUT. He's out of my head! HALLEUJAH! HOME ALONE!"
  • Stealth Pun: Episode 6's "kiss of death".
  • Super-Senses: "Ooh, nice...but it's not your usual perfume, there's another one underneath." Hyde later senses what gender a pregnant woman's baby is, how long ago an ex-smoker gave up, and how long said ex-smoker has to live before his tumor kills him.
  • Super-Strength: Hyde can hurl the corpse of a fully grown male lion over a high wall, and throw a man across a room one handed with ease.
  • Super-Speed: Hyde has been shown to be able to get up from a chair and to the door of a room in the time it takes the woman who had been facing him to turn to the door, among other examples.
  • Swallow the Key: Claire, to prevent Hyde escaping. He threatens to rip her open to retrieve it. That turns out not to be necessary; she was only bluffing and hadn't actually swallowed it.
  • Take That!: Several not so subtle ones directed towards America are scattered throughout the series.
  • Talking to Themself
    • Normally they can only talk to each other via recorded messages, but Hyde can communicate with Jackman through audio hallucinations when Jackman has a certain drug in his system.
    "How could you be phoning me?"
    "Jesus! I'm not phoning you. I'm in your head."
    • They also briefly talk when Hyde brings Jackman's personality back to life in a memory hallucination.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Hyde pre-records his side of a conversation with Jackman, and is able to accurately predict what number Jackman will think of when prompted, what his rebuttal will be and even that he will eventually break the TV set he's talking to.
    Hyde: *Sing-song* I'm in your head! I know what you think, I am what you think!
    Jackman: I'm not scared of you!
    Hyde: Yes, you are!
    • Although because Hyde makes Jackman think he's just reached out at him through the television several seconds later, it's left ambiguous whether Hyde really did record his answers in advance and Jackman is that predictable, or if Hyde wasn't simply causing Jackman to hallucinate their entire conversation?
  • They Were Holding You Back: Hyde gains access to the Genetic Memory of his ancestor, the original Mr. Hyde, who tells him to kill Jackman's wife and children because they burden him and make him weak.
  • Totally Radical: Benjamin's whole rant, over the phone, about "havin' respec'!", several times in a few minutes... sounds pretty silly. We get it already, he's black. One critic said it seems Paterson Joseph learned how black Americans talk from watching Rush Hour movies, and no-one told him that's not generally representative.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Jackman (not Hyde,) confronts the man who nearly fed his son to the lions, he maintains his composure very well, hardly raising his voice at all.
  • Trust Me, I'm an X: "Trust me, I'm a psychopath!" Claire is... not wholly reassured.
  • Tuneless Song of Madness: Hyde has a thing for children's music; quit apart from whistling "Boys And Girls Come Out To Play," after emerging at the zoo and killing a lion he can be heard belting out "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
  • Van in Black: The conspiracy use a black van full of surveillance equipment to keep track of the protagonist — who makes a point of mentioning how inconspicuous it isn't. (Which may be the point, since — although the van isn't just a decoy — he turns out to also be under surveillance by several more genuinely inconspicuous methods.)
  • Wedding Ring Removal: Jackman always slips his wedding ring off just before turning into Hyde, as he doesn't want Hyde to know that he's married. When Jackman turns into Hyde in front of his wife Claire for the first time, the wedding ring falls off to mark the moment of transformation. Basically, if Jackman's ring comes off then he's either about to become Hyde or has already done so.
  • Wham Line: "I don't own a black van, Dr. Jackman..."
    • Also Claire saying "I turn his eyes black."
    • The revelation of the formula that turned Jekyll into Hyde: "There was no formula. It was the girl."
    • And then right at the end: "You didn't get the curse of the Jekylls from your father. You got it from me."
  • What You Are in the Dark: The only reason Hyde is kept under any kind of control is because Jackman keeps him under constant surveillance, and promises he'll turn himself in if Hyde does anything too terrible. Jackman himself says that Hyde will do anything if he thinks he can get away with it, and Katherine's Alone with the Psycho moment suggests that he's right.
  • The Worf Effect: A villainous example. At the beginning of one episode, a character is established as the world's most highly trained mercenary, then promptly gets dispatched by Hyde in one blow. Cue Oh, Crap! from the bystanders.