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Series / Jeremiah

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The Badass Longcoat Brigade

"What did any of us ever do to you? What did the whole fucking world do to you that we deserve all of this? I mean, come on, the locusts and the death of the first-born wasn't good enough for you anymore, so now it's the death of the eldest? The death of heroes? You know what? Fuck you. Because we're not just gonna lay down and die down here. You want to finish off the job? Come down here! Do it yourself. You send the Angel of Death, you better give him one hell of a big sword, because I tell you what, we are gonna kick his ass all the way back to the great white fucking throne. And then we're coming for you."
Jeremiah, to God

Jeremiah is a Post Apocalyptic television series that aired on Showtime from 2002 to 2004. It was (very loosely) adapted from the French-Belgian comic book series Jeremiah. It was directed by J. Michael Straczynski and starred Luke Perry and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. The series ended after two seasons when JMS quit, citing too much Executive Meddling on the part of MGM, and the network elected not to continue without him.

In the early 21st century, a supervirus known as "the Big Death" was unleashed across the planet: highly communicable, short incubation period and one-hundred percent fatal to anyone who had reached the age of puberty or higher. Within six months, the population had been decimated and the only survivors were the pre-pubescent children, who somehow had to rebuild a society they never fully knew. Fifteen years later, one such survivor is Jeremiah (Perry), who travels between the rural, low-tech communities that have cropped up in the intervening years and searches tirelessly for something called "Valhalla Sector", a place his father once spoke of as a possible refuge against the Big Death.


During his travels, Jeremiah befriends fellow wanderer Kurdy (Warner), colony leader Markus Alexander (Peter Stebbings) and possible prophet Mr. Smith (Sean Astin), and gets caught up in an attempt to rebuild the United States of America, a brewing conflict with those who'd attempt to seize power for themselves and a possible recurrence of a new and even more dangerous plague.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Jeremiah, the primary protagonist and the show's namesake.
  • After the End: All of the adults died 15 years ago, and the now-grown-up survivors are struggling to rebuild.
  • A God Am I: A very charismatic and intelligent man pulls this. It ends with a little over a hundred daisy cutters going off under him.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: At least twice - Lee Chen, previously not much more than a desk jockey, pulls this out of nowhere, as does a female underground leader in Season 2. Somewhat justified in Lee Chen's case given the mention that he wasn't from Thunder Mountain, and spent time surviving on his own outside before being recruited by them.
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  • The Alliance: Much of Season 2 is spent building one of these centered around Thunder Mountain and then defending it against various new threats.
  • An Aesop: The entire series has a few overarching ones, the principle one being 'blind faith in anything is bad'.
  • Armies Are Evil: The more militaristic a faction is, the more likely that it (or at least its leader) is antagonistic, even the major in charge of Thunder Mountain during the initial pandemic. Marcus's flashback shows him implementing quarantine measures with a Lack of Empathy and when they fail, he flees to the Valhalla Sector and remorselessly becomes their enforcer. Additionally, one of his soldiers spreads the virus into the bunker while looting dead bodies outside.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In the first part of the finale, Sims initially disbelieves Markus's claim that his leader, Daniel, is an Invented Individual until Markus says that if that's true, then how is it that he, a man who has never been within several states of Daniel's territory, knows that Sims has never met the man who gave him command of the army?
  • Badass Normal: Jeremiah and Kurdy both qualify: they're tough, smart, hard to beat, and have survived on their own for 15 years despite the dangers of the new world.
  • Big Bad: Daniel is set up as one, although it's eventually subverted in that there is no Daniel, he's a computer-generated figurehead propped up by a group of master manipulators. The real danger is the idea of Daniel, combined with Sims.
  • Book Burning: The plot of one episode is centered around preventing a cult from doing this to the entire collection of an old public library, which with the loss of knowledge after the Big Death has become a vital repository of knowledge.
  • Cargo Cult:
    • In an episode of season 2, one of these is shown. They worship an old, pre-calamity house, and kidnap people to force them to live a pre-calamity lifestyle while they watch on television. This is treated as a religious exercise by them, and they believe it will restore the previous world if they are dutiful enough.
    • Seen in passing in the 2nd episode, where Jeremiah and Kurdy drive past a bunch of cultists who are reverently holding vigil around a broken telegraph pole.
    Jeremiah: So, er, what are you doing?
  • Cartwright Curse Anyone Kurdy or Jeremiah dates dies or gets Put on a Bus.
  • Closest Thing We Got: Most people handling jobs with any specialized skills are fairly self-taught, given how they were kids when nearly all of the world's adults died. One such example is Reese Davenport from "The Bag", who sells his skills as a doctor. The limited skills he has come from being made to watch his emotionally distant doctor father at work before the Big Death and reading a medical book.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The remnants inhabiting Valhalla Sector are quite adept at both the physical and psychological versions of this.
  • Communications Officer: One episode features Thunder Mountain's radioman, Jacob. He uses his position to contact his sister, who lives elsewhere, but inadvertently feeds information about their operations to a Wasteland Warlord who has his sister prisoner.
  • Cult Defector:
    • In "And the Ground, Sown with Salt", most if not all of the workers who are forced to worship Godhood Seeker Michael are happy to flee his town with Jeremiah and Kurdy in the climax. Michael's own girlfriend helps them by blowing up herself, Michael, and his troops after accepting how dangerous he is.
    • The Army of Daniel, which is is devoted to conquest and the veneration of their mysterious leader, experiences a few defections over the second season.
      • Karl from "Voices in the Dark" and Dr. Monash from "The Face in the Mirror" are both former members of the Army's leadership who have defected and made ties with the resistance movement trying to bring down the regime. However, they also both zigzag the role since they aren't really followers of the cult-like Army's beliefs as they are people who helped start the adulation of Daniel rather than buying into it themselves. Monash even knows that there is no Daniel and it is implied Karl does to.
      • In the finale, a Mook Lieutenant overhears Sims admit that Daniel isn't real but that he doesn't care during a fight with Jeremiah, and leads his command post in a mass Mook–Face Turn.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Megan after killing almost everyone in Valhalla, followed with her being Driven to Suicide.
  • Deus ex Machina: In "The Question", Mr. Smith offers one guaranteed miracle from God if Marcus, Kurdy, and Jeremiah ask for it and wait at an appointed place in time. In the end, Mr. Smith is the only one to do so and the only one to receive his miracle. Then again, bringing someone Back from the Dead, eliminating all weaponry from the planet, and having Jeremiah personally chew out God face-to-face was... probably not something the show would want to do anyway. Note that, as with everything else Mr. Smith does, the question of whether this was actually divine intervention or not is deliberately left open.
  • Disaster Democracy: The main character and co. encounter a hidden remnant of the US government in season two. It seems they have kept this going in a bunker, with adults safe from the virus, duly voting on a President each election year. However, they turn out to be very dictatorial nonetheless, with the quality of the elections left unclear.
  • Disaster Scavengers: The entire world, since not many people are making new food and goods.
  • Divided States of America: The US government (or some people claiming to be the government, at any rate) have been undercover in Valhalla all this time.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Lauren impersonates her twin sister Erin to have sex with Jeremiah. It's Played for Laughs, and he doesn't mind aside from wanting to know which it was (Erin refuses to say), but just imagine if the genders were reversed.
  • The Elites Jump Ship: The U.S. government officials who caused the Big Death while trying to make biological weapons promptly fled to one of the only bunkers capable of surviving that as almost all other adults in the world died.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: When an adult survivor of the Big Death turns up working for the villainous Valhalla Sector, Jeremiah recognizes his military bearing. Erin tries to explain why this doesn't make sense, only to trail off at the end as she realizes the implications of what she's saying.
    Erin: You can't have military without a command structure, without resources, hardware, a base of operation and enough weapons to...
  • Fake Guest Star: Marcus is The Alliance leader and is in almost every episode of season 2, but isn't in the opening credits.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Mr. Smith seems to be aware of several characters' deaths before they happen.
    • In "Voices in the Dark", Karl, a defector from the Army of Daniel, describes himself as a former political advisor and says that he helped make Daniel into the leader he is, although he is reluctant to be more specific. A later episode reveals that Daniel is an Invented Individual who his supposed inner circle literally made up as as a perfect leader.
  • Gender Is No Object: The collapse of civilization means that women have to be just as badass as men to survive.
  • General Ripper:
    • In the season two premier, General Waverly is the highest ranking Valhalla Sector military officer and is the most passionate advocate behind recreating the Big Death to kill the grown-up children who survived the first pandemic and are challenging the Sector's power monopoly. He also tortures Jeremiah with electric shocks and spends his last moments before dying unrepentantly ranting about how he could have conquered the whole world if not for the intervention of Jeremiah and the others.
    • Sims is the Frontline General of the Army of Daniel, casually burns towns that are in negotiations with his enemies, and admits that he enjoys killing. While he does have an extremely Dark and Troubled Past and is Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life, when he learns that all of his atrocities are based on a lie, he shows no guilt or introspection and is even excited at the idea that he can use this knowledge to overthrow his superiors.
  • God is Dead:
    • "...And the Ground Sown with Salt" features a Cult/militia leader named Michael, who expresses belief that the billions of deaths in The Plague prove that God is dead. That belief, combined with the amount of power he holds, makes him become determined to replace God.
    • "Red Kiss" features a settlement where (partially due to an old arcade game they found) the children believe that God has died and his angels have descended to Earth to fight evil. They think Jeremiah and Kurdy are two of those angels and that a local kidnapper is a vampire (really, he's a Mad Scientist).
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: The black nationalist group Shadow of the Crescent dislike seeing Elizabeth when she comes with Kurdy to forge links with them for Thunder Mountain, because she's light-skinned, of mixed race descent and has a "white" name. Kurdy calls them out on this soundly, noting how many leaders in black empowerment (including the nationalists like Malcolm X) were themselves of mixed race descent, and certainly didn't reject those who were.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Daniel since he doesn't exist.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • At the end of her sole episode, Girl of the Week Claire sails to Europe to find out what kind of remaining society there. Her solo trip across the ocean and what she finds in Europe are left to the viewers imagination, but certainly aren’t boring.
    • Colin, the Thunder Mountain agent who sends Jeremiah and Purdy to the outpost before dying, has several informants who fit this role.
      • Jimmy from "The Bag" was experimented on by The Valhalla Sector and is slowly dying as a result.
      • Eddie from "To Sail Beyond the Stars" is a quirky Knowledge Broker who (aided by a man named William) has been trying to track down information about a mysterious group of people who are burning settlements.
      • The two-part season 1 finale features both a group of adults who survived the Big Death and have secluded themselves in a monastery and a Conspiracy Theorist named Wylie who has accurately pieced together the Valhalla Sector's entire origin and Evil Plan.
  • Hidden Elf Village:
    • Thunder Mountain, as it is the descendants of NORAD and who they've recruited.
    • As a dark contrast, Valhalla Sector, as it's the remains of the US government
  • Jerkass: Theo, who is a strong contender for the least likable person in the series. She's not evil, per se (amoral, sure, but not necessarily evil), just incredibly and often deliberately unpleasant.
  • Karmic Death: President Evil and most of the population of Valhalla want The Plague so they can kill off their enemies. Hah hah! Boy, do they get it (wiped out by Patient Zero).
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: Discussed with Jeremiah and a former lover of his whom he may have fathered a son with. She says that while she could try to calculate the date of conception, she's not going to make her son long for a father who can't be around for him, so we never find out if Jeremiah really was his father or not.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • The religious group from "Journeys End at Lovers Meeting". Did they actually Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence? Or... did they kill everyone out on a boat, to keep the miracle illusion?
    • See also: literally everything related to Mister Smith. Every miracle or instance of divine intervention he witnesses always has a convenient mundane explanation, even if it's a really unlikely one.
  • Men of Sherwood: The militia army that Alexander forms in the second season is made of well-trained people who provide a good deterrent against the villains and usually avoid dying in firefights.
  • Mission from God: Mr. Smith, possibly also a Cosmic Plaything. "I'm just God's sock puppet, okay? He shoves his hand up my ass and words come out the other end."
  • Mysterious Past: Mr. Smith, most likely a Dark and Troubled Past too. "I have some issues ... One of thousands. Would you like to hear them alphabetically or in order of psychic trauma?"
  • Nay-Theist: Jeremiah has come to believe God is cruel and uncaring after the hardships he's been through.
  • No Name Given: Mister Smith. Or rather, he claims that is his full name. "First name 'Mister,' last name 'Smith.'"
    "So if I was going to introduce you to somebody, I'd say, this is Mr. Mr. Smith?""
  • No New Fashions in the Future: Justified - the plague didn't exactly leave many fashion designers alive and kicking.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Although Jeremiah, the character the show is named after, is a main character, he is by no means the only one-Kurdy gets as much screen time and dialogue as he does, and there's a whole ensemble of other recurring characters who get nearly as much face time.
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on Theo's face after angrily proclaiming to the rioting mob that they have no electricity, only for her team of kept geeks to choose that exact moment to test the electrical generator they built.
    Theo: Well, sheeit.
  • One-Woman Wail: Used to a regular extent on every episode, to the point that any action in the second season was cause for it.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Played straight (Jeremiah's freaking point-blank gut wound) and subverted (Mr. Smith's arm wound making him permanently crippled there). Of course, given that this is Mr. Smith we're talking about, it's not subverted for long.
  • Orphanage of Love: The series finale features a school/orphanage for children who were born out of Teen Pregnancy in the aftermath of the apocalyptic Big Death and are well-educated and cared for physically and emotionally.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Every child on Earth had to deal with this after the adults died.
  • Parental Abandonment: Again, the entire planet, but made worse since their parents didn't just leave, they died horribly. Often right in front of their children.
  • The Plague, which is Only Fatal to Adults. Only fatal to most adults-a very small percentage of the adult population was immune. Only one group of immune adults is encountered over the course of the series, and they're all very old men living in secret disguised as a monastic order.
  • The Pornomancer: Jeremiah himself, who manages to sleep with virtually every woman he encounters over the course of the series.
  • Put on a Bus: Prior to the halfway point of season 2, Devon leaves to continue his scientific work elsewhere and Theo stops taking part in strategic meetings of The Alliance after she gets pregnant.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: One of the best ones ever, after a particularly heroic and innocent person dies. This rant is directed at Michaelangelo's Genesis:
    Jeremiah Are you happy? Are you satisfied? That's how it works, isn't it? You set us up, you take someone like him, and you give him hope, so you can take it away again? What did he do to you? What did any of us ever do to you? What did the whole fucking world do to you, that we deserve all of this? What, the locusts and the death of the firstborn wasn't good enough for you anymore so now it's the death of the eldest? Death of heroes? You know what? Fuck you. Because we're not just going to lay down and die here anymore. You want to finish off the job? Come down here! Do it yourself! You send the angel of death, you better give him one hell of a big sword, 'cause I tell you what; we are going to kick his ass right back to the great white fucking throne! And then we're coming for you. We're coming for you.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Marcus, the leader of Thunder Mountain. He tries to form alliances with the other non-hostile communities, works to keep the Big Death from returning, is reluctant to issue harsh punishments and gradually insists on sharing power with other trustworthy individuals so he won't be a dictator.
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist:
    • Jeremiah's father and his lab partner Dr. Weil were manipulated into creating the Big Death virus by the U.S. government and are appalled by everything it did. They immediately devoted themselves to trying to undermine the Valhalla Sector from within afterward, although Dr. Weil didn't live long after that.
    • "The Face in the Mirror" has a flashback which shows several other Valhalla Sector scientists being miserable in the work they do for a budding dictatorship and talking about how they want to stop it. Several of them (a team of psychological warfare experts) escape Raven Rock to set up an opposition government of their own. Most of them end up becoming their own antithesises (assuming they were ever genuinely noble in the first place), but Dr. Monash is as appalled by them as he was by the Valhalla Sector and ends up defecting.
  • The Remnant: The militaristic Valhalla Sector is made up of government members who avoided dying with the rest of the world's adults by withdrawing to a bunker until the initial plague died out.
  • Refusal of the Call: Mr. Smith says this didn't go well for him. It's implied to be an extreme understatement.
  • Scenery Porn: There are some pretty impressive shots of mountains and forests in several episodes.
  • Shadow Dictator: Daniel, who has authorized the creation of forced labor camps an is never seen by his people, except for the very top officials. It turns out they invented him, to be the ideal leader.
  • Sole Surviving Scientist:
    • Devon and Libby look for a cure to The Plague that killed everyone over the age of thirteen from within the Ravenrock Mountain bunker, although their boss plans to misuse their work.
    • Theo sheltered and groomed a bunch of nerds from her school to be this on a small-scale, such as by making a working generator.
    • Season 2 One-Shot Character Frederick, who lives in one of the only areas where adults survived the Big Death, is a psychological warfafe expert who played a large role in creating an fake perfect leader for their faction to act as a charismatic leader against the aggression of the Valhalla Sector.
  • Spare a Messenger:
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Typhoid Mary Megan and scientist's Markus, one of the worst cases when you think about it.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Apparently Mr. Smith's daughter also hears the voice of God.
  • Take Up My Rover: In the pilot episode, one of Thunder Mountain's scouting teams are killed; the leader, on his final breaths, encourages Jeremiah and Kurdy to take the rover back to Thunder Mountain in their place.
  • Tap on the Head: Played heavily, repeatedly, and enforced throughout the series. Including one case where the lead character gets a blow to the head and wakes up more than a day later, with no lingering effects.
  • Teenage Wasteland: The world was this in the immediate aftermath of the plague, but the fact that it's subsided and allowed the children to grow up means that it no longer qualifies.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Specifically, neo-Nazis; several different groups of them are encountered over the course of the series, and it's mentioned in a throwaway line of background dialogue that one particularly powerful neo-Nazi group controls almost all of Montana.
  • Twin Switch: Played with by Erin (Ingrid Kavelaars) and Lauren (Monique Kavelaars) during the episode Moon in Gemini, where one of them sleeps with Jeremiah. He thinks it's Erin at the time, but then becomes uncertain, though neither will say which it was (in the scene we see it's Lauren, who pulls down her hair (it was in ponytails) to appear like Erin, but he doesn't). Interestingly, this was the only time Monique Kavelaars ever acted, while Ingrid does so full-time.
  • Typhoid Mary: Megan; she even explicitly refers to herself as such at one point.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Where the heck does Libby get all of those Fanservice outfits? Heck, where does all of Jeremiah's unlimited paper come from?
  • Vancouver Doubling: For Colorado, Washington, Virginia, and most of the western United States.
  • Walking the Earth: As much of it as can be reached from their home base on a single tank of gasoline, anyway.
  • Wasteland Elder: Given how The Virus targeted all the adults fifteen years previously, no one left could quite be called an "elder". but there are occasional benevolent settlements led by Wise Beyond Their Years people in their late twenties or early thirties, like Cord Geary in "Red Kiss", Michelle from "The Mother of a Invention", and Shiela from "Crossing Jordan".
  • Wasteland Warlord:
    • Jeremiah takes place in a Teenage Wasteland where the kids who survived The Plague have grown up. In the pilot, a woman named Theo runs a small town by using the nerds from her old high school to work on technological innovations and imprisoning and ruthlessly interrogating anyone who crosses her. She ends up run out of town and reluctantly falls in with the main characters.
    • Several Villain of the Week regional tyrants, such as a book burning redneck, a puritanical zealot who bans people from touching each other, and a Godhood Seeker with weapons from a military base.
  • Wham Shot: The pilot has some hooded monks showing Thunder Mountain scout Simon something that was covered by a tarp. He's horrified, and refuses to tell his companion Colin what it was. A flashback from "Things Left Unsaid Part 1" shows why he got so upset. The monks showed him the corpses of two victims of the new form of the Big Death. One of the victims was a baby, meaning that the virus —which once spared children—will now kill anyone who is exposed to it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The statuses of various One Shot Characters, allies and enemies alike, are sometimes unclear after their sole episodes.
    • In "To Sail Beyond the Stars", William is never seen again after he and Kurdy split up while running from the Burners.
    • In "The Touch", the fate of the murderous Wasteland Warlord isn't shown after his people learn of his crimes and stop listening to his orders.
    • The nomads who briefly shelter Dr. Monash in The Face in the Mirror are last seen being questioned by Sims, and it is unclear if he lets them go after one of them reluctantly tells him where to find Monash.
  • Wicked Cultured: Sims. He shows appreciation of fine wine, blank verse poetry, and kindness to a small girl, but is utterly ruthless otherwise.
  • World Half Full: The setting is an After the End from an outbreak that left behind children below the age of thirteen while killing the rest. But nonetheless, the survivors managed to create a functional society and began to thrive once their problems were solved by Jeremiah and his group in their travels. By Season 2, the settlements had managed to restore trade networks and are even on a path to creating The Alliance.