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Series / L.A.'s Finest

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L.A.'s Finest is a Spin-Off series from the Bad Boys films, with Gabrielle Union reprising the role of Syd Burnett from Bad Boys II, with Syd having been transferred to the LAPD. Jessica Alba plays Syd's partner Nancy McKenna.

The show started in 2019, and was cancelled in 2020. It was the first series created for Spectrum Originals, a streaming service available to Spectrum Cable subscribers; months after its premiere there, it had a brief run on Fox to fill a COVID-created hole in their schedule.

Tropes associated with this series:

  • Abusive Parents: Nancy and Nico's mom physically abused them both, including hitting or burning them using cigarettes.
  • Action Girl: Syd and Nancy, being police detectives, are well-trained in using guns or unarmed combat. Nancy also served in the Navy prior to joining the LAPD.
  • Actor Allusion: While pretending he's an exterminator once, Joseph (Ernie Hudson) quips "Who you gonna call?" referencing his famous role in Ghostbusters.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Isabel is usually called Izzy by her dad and stepmom.
  • Always Identical Twins: Syd meets twin brothers while in a bar (whom she hits on for sex later), while both are completely identical, even with the same dress and hair style.
  • The Atoner: The woman who'd fatally hit Izzy's mom while drunk driving regrets what she did, trying to apologize for it. Izzy doesn't accept this though.
  • Badges and Dog Tags: Nancy served in the U.S. Navy before becoming a cop. It's discussed as being common for military veterans to become law enforcement officers, since they still want the "rush" of danger.
  • Big Bad: Gabriel Knox is the main threat of Season 1. For a while, both Carlene and Warren used this alias, only for the former to prove herself the bigger threat.
  • Blackmail:
    • Patrick is blackmailed over Nancy being involved with covering her mom's death up. Carlene, the blackmailer, has dirt on prosecutors, judges and politicians to aid her drug trafficking operations.
    • Another case also involves blackmail over a compromising video.
    • Patrick is later blackmailed again after he's drugged, making him act like a wild party animal, and it's recorded.
  • Bookends: Near the start of the pilot episode Syd is in her kitchen one morning with a man, who she thanks for the previous night, but says she does not want a relationship and sends him away with some coffee in one of her "to-go cups". Towards the end of the episode it is another morning and Syd has almost the same conversation again, but this time with a woman.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: During the premiere episode's cold open in the store, Syd and Nancey have a casual conversation about Syd blowing off 'Family Book Club' to go on a date while in the middle of a gunfight after walking in on an armed robbery.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: Nico shot his and Nancy's mom to stop her beating Nancy. While this was probably legal (defense of others) they were both scared that it wouldn't be taken that way, secretly burying their mom's body with help from a friend to cover it up. The same goes for them in present day.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Nancy goes undercover to catch a veteran and therapist who is recruiting other veterans for hit jobs. After he finds out and tries to kill her, Nancy takes him down (although not without her getting beat up), since she's a trained Navy veteran herself.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Both Syd and Nancy.
    • In addition to the events with her brother and partner in Miami, Syd was compromised on another undercover assignment which saw her attempt to infiltrate the organization of a major drug trafficker known as Gabriel Knox. After being found out, she was beaten, shot, left to die, and then miscarried her child with Warren. As such, the trauma from it all becomes a driving force for her during Season 1.
    • Nancy came from an abusive household where she lived with her alcoholic mother Rosa and her brother Nico. Alongside her first boyfriend Dante Sherman, Nancy resorted to theft in order to get enough money to start a new life with him. Dante eventually and willingly takes the fall for all their crimes after he gets caught. In addition, Nico fatally shot Rosa while she was beating Nancy with a belt, leading to Dante and his brother Ray hiding her corpse. In Season 2, she starts having PTSD from her time in Iraq.
  • Death of a Child: Nancy's trauma from serving in Iraq was a result of her seeing a little boy she bonded with killed due to a suicide bomber (his own mother).
  • Demolitions Expert: Nancy was an EOD (Explosives Ordinance Disposal) expert in the Navy. This comes in handy when she and Syd are forced to deal with a bomb.
  • Diagonal Billing: Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba in the end credits. See also this page's pic.
  • Dirty Cop: More than one corrupt law enforcement officer's featured, including some in bed with drug traffickers (such as Warren). Syd and Nancy break the rules or commit crimes at times too, although never for personal gain.
  • Disappeared Dad: Joseph Vaughn, Sydney and Marcus’s father, was absent for most of the two's childhood after their mom had left him. It turns out he tried to be involved, with their mom making him stay away (even calling the cops). He was also estranged from their half-sister as well, who he had with another woman, until her twenties.
  • Disowned Parent: Ben Walker has disowned his criminal mom, who's in prison, even telling his partner she died because she's now dead to him.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Carlene proves to be this to Gabriel. In truth, both she and Warren used the alias. Carlene then proves herself to be the real Big Bad of Season 1.
  • Fair Cop: The two protagonists Syd and Nancy are quite beautiful female detectives.
  • Fingerprinting Air: A textbook example takes place when Nancy mocked a murder suspect for how he was so smart to wipe the gun clean... except "the bullets inside are riddled with fingerprints."
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Duke Ingram is a military veteran who's now a therapist and supposedly helping other veterans with PTSD. However, he really recruits them to be assassins, carrying out hits in LA's Koreatown.
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: From S2E9 Syd thinks Nancy is being childish.
Syd: Wow. You just hit me with, like, the angsty teenage girl, "Nothing". Like. "Hey, what are you two doing up in your room with the door closed?" - "Nothing." What's up?
Nancy: What WERE you doing upstairs with the door closed, Sydney Gayle Burnett?
Syd: Don't use my middle name and don't change the subject.
Nancy: You're not the boss of me.
  • Get Out!: Syd angrily orders Warren to do this after he tells her that he's Gabriel Knox.
  • Homophobic Hate Crime: One case investigated, the murder of a trans woman, looks like it's possibly motivated by transphobia. This turns out to not be the case. Other trans people who the victim had known also speak of how common such hate crimes are, and some have suffered these before.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All the post-pilot episode titles reference movies executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer worked on, hence the episodes "Farewell..." and "...My Lovely". The Season 1 finale is titled "Bad Girls."
  • I Have Your Wife: Carlene kidnaps Izzy in order to get leverage over Nancy.
  • Important Haircut: Fifteen year old Isabel shaves her head and wears a dog collar as a means of rebelling to cope after her mom's death.
  • In the Blood: Turns out Sydney and her brother’s father is ex-LAPD.
  • Last-Name Basis: Syd usually calls Nancy by her last name, McKenna.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Marcus from the Bad Boys movies is Happily Married and is close with his children and grandchild while his father Joseph is just reconciling with Sydney. Subverted in that he is on good terms with his other daughter and his grandchildren by said daughter.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Syd learns she has an adult half-sister as a result of her dad cheating with another woman on her mom. Further, she has a niece and nephew, her half-sister's kids.
  • Matricide: Nico shot his and Nancy's mom dead to protect Nancy when she was beating her.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Finding her daughter working for a website that also involves what appears to be sex toys, Nancy and Syd charge to the company ready to arrest the boss for underage pornography. Then Izzie reveals she's just doing ASMR videos to help folks (like her) handle anxiety and the "sex toys" are for sound effects.
  • Offing the Offspring:
    • After learning Warren is who shot her after she'd been captured and tortured, Syd realizes this made her miscarry their baby. She throws this in his face later, saying he'd killed their son (even if it wasn't knowing or intentional).
    • A female suicide bomber Nancy shot in Iraq forced her little son to go with her when she did it, and he was killed by her bomb.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted - Syd and Nancy's rivals are a pair of detectives called "The Bens".
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • The birth mother of Isabel McKenna was killed in a car crash by a Drunk Driver. It was only three years before the series starts, and Izzy is still very affected (she was in the car at the time). She's angry about it and acts out as a result. Later on her father is murdered too.
    • Nancy says she never knew her dad. Her brother Nico is younger, so presumably they're half-siblings, though there's no sign his was around. She says as a kid she'd often wonder about him, hoping he'd appear. Their mother meanwhile was killed by Nico while protecting Nancy from her abuse.
  • Parental Substitute: Nancy is a good surrogate mom to her stepdaughter Izzy, who lost her birth mother to a drunk driver years ago. They have the expected spats of a teenage daughter and mom, though Nancy is sometimes more supportive of her than Izzy's dad is. It's likely she's so determined to be a good parent as a result of also having an abusive mother growing up herself. Even after her marriage with Izzy's father Patrick breaks down, Nancy's reluctant to end it as she doesn't want to leave Izzy.
  • Plea Bargain: Nico takes one over his mom's death, so it can't get used against Nancy or Patrick.
  • Professional Killer: Several veterans are recruited to be assassins by a corrupt fellow veteran turned therapist.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Duke Ingram is a military veteran and therapist who has a therapy retreat to help fellow veterans with PTSD. He's actually using it to recruit many as assassins.
  • Queer Establishing Moment: Syd is shown after having had casual sex with a man in the pilot episode early on. Toward the end of the pilot, she's shown to be bisexual when the same thing happens with a woman.
  • Real Award, Fictional Character: Nancy served in the Navy, earning several actual awards including the Bronze Star.
  • Really Gets Around: Though it isn't focused on, Syd seems to have casual sex pretty often. She's shown having had women over for sex twice while not being in a relationship with either of them, the same going for Warren (her ex-boyfriend) and Jason, who she hooks up with. Later Syd hits on two twin guys she meets in a bar, giving her card to the pair so they'll call her and they can have sex sometime. When talking with Ben Bailey, she casually talks about having gotten oral sex from a man the night before too.
  • Rejected Apology: Izzy doesn't accept the apology of her mom's remorseful killer, because she's still haunted by her death.
  • Sadist: Wayland, the man who kidnapped and held Jen along with other women, tortured them for pleasure.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: In one episode, an Army soldier with PTSD (who's gone AWOL from his unit and is now a homeless drug addict) is a murder witness. Nancy, who's served in the Navy, uses her military past and difficulty adjusting to help him open up by empathizing with him. It later turns out she has lingering PTSD from her service in Iraq, which is triggered during Season 2. She goes to a therapeutic retreat for veterans later whose head (also a veteran) is a therapist treating PTSD. Unfortunately it turns out that he's grooming veterans to be assassins.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Patrick's drink is drugged so he acts inappropriately and gets filmed as blackmail.
  • Spear Counterpart: Sydney is essentially Mike Lowry's female counterpart.
  • Suicide Attack: Nancy is traumatized by having survived a suicide bombing while in Iraq.
  • Taking the Heat: Syd takes the blame when Emma kills Mallory in a fit of rage, not wanting to see her prosecuted for murder after all she's been through. Afterward, she tries to make it seem like a justified shooting she'd done.
  • Tomboyish Name: Sydney, a tomboyish bisexual woman, usually goes by "Syd".
  • Too Much Information: Ben Baines tells Syd that she can talk to him about anything she'd have done with Nancy when the latter is away. Syd promptly tells him about how much she enjoyed being eaten out the night prior by a guy, to his discomfort.
  • Tragic Stillbirth: Sydney was kidnapped by drug dealers she'd been investigating with the DEA. They tortured her, resulting in her having a miscarriage (she wasn't even aware of being pregnant yet, since it was early on). She nurses a desire for revenge on them for this and is distraught when telling her ex-boyfriend Warren, the father, about what happened.
  • Trans Tribulations: One case involves the murder of a trans woman, which detectives investigating feel may have been motivated by transphobia. It turns out to be different though. Trans people who the victim knew in a support group mention just how common this is, and some have suffered lesser hate crimes.
  • Trauma Button: Nancy dealing with a bomb while in the LAPD provokes traumatic flashbacks of her Navy service, when she faced an Iraqi suicide bomber, especially since a little boy she bonded with died during the attack.
  • Wham Line:
    • Sydney is baffled as to why a woman named Kat, who she's never met before, seems to know her and why a gangster is gloating "you thought I'd never find her" before he has Kat shot. The reason becomes clear when Joseph bursts into the hospital and, with a stunned Sydney watching, yells "Where is my daughter?"
    • Sydney is thrown for a loop by Warren being upset at her for getting close to nailing Gabriel Knox... until he tells her "I am Gabriel Knox."
  • Working with the Ex: To investigate Gabriel Knox, Sydney’s division works with the DEA, which includes Sydney’s ex-boyfriend Warren Hendrix. If that wasn't awkward enough, Warren turns out to be one of two people using the Gabriel alias.
  • Workout Fanservice: Syd and Nancy are shown working out wearing tight-fitting spandex workout clothes, showing off their athletic, beautiful bodies in the first season.