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Last Resort was a 2012 television series produced by Sony Entertainment and airing on ABC. The pilot aired September 27, 2012, and the series concluded with the airing of its 13th episode on January 24, 2013.

The story follows the crew of the U.S.S. Colorado, a nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarine. The crew is celebrating crossing the Equator when they receive orders to fire four nuclear-tipped ICBMs at Pakistan. When the captain questions this order, he is relieved of command. The Executive Officer also requests confirmation, after which the submarine comes under attack - by another American submarine. Suspecting that they are being set up in a False Flag Operation, the Captain and Executive Officer decide to surface near the fictional island of Sainte Marina to figure out what is really going on.


The show deals with loyalty towards superiors versus loyalty towards your country. Do you follow orders no matter what?

To readers familiar with US Navy submarines, the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment applies: With the sensitive nature of the locations, namely a United States Navy nuclear submarine, you can be assured that the accuracy of scenes isn't perfect. Access to nuclear-armed submarines is limited to those service members assigned to her after she is completed. As a result, it is likely that the producers relied on consultants and publicly available information. Anything they couldn't verify is more than likely speculation as far as the depictions of life on a nuclear submarine are concerned.

Sadly, on November 16, 2012, ABC canceled the series, but all of the episodes of the first season were aired. The showrunner indicated on Twitter that the series would have a conclusion, allowing the series to avoid the Cut Short scenario faced by so many other cancelled serials. The final episode aired on January 24, 2013, and did, indeed, resolve most of the show's outstanding plotlines.


See also The Silent Service, a similar story featuring the JMSDF rather than the US Navy.

This show provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Lt. Shepard.
  • A Father to His Men: Captain Marcus Chaplin is a seasoned naval officer, and is shown to be well-liked and deeply respected by the majority of his crew. The Navy SEALs that they pick up in the first episode show hostility, likely due to the fact that they lost one of their men on a mission and there was a slight delay picking them up.
    • Prosser is also seen as the mentor to the men directly under his command, but also has the occasional mentorship moments with the higher-ranked officers too.
  • Affably Evil: Booth, the CIA black-ops guy who gets captured by Sam
    • Also Zheng, the Chinese envoy
  • Aggressive Negotiations: Between Chaplin and the Pakistani Admiral. It does not go well for anyone except Chaplin (and even then, your mileage may vary). James King et al bump off the rest of the Pakistani hostage takers.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The drug "BZ" is actually a thing.
  • Anti-Villain: Prosser is basically just doing what he sees as his duty, and later agrees to work faithfully under Chaplin, if only to the end of eventually seeing him court-martialed. He eventually gets frustrated with Chaplin and mutinies against him, only to switch sides yet again when it turns out his fellow mutineers want to turn the sub over to the Chinese for money.
    • Zheng the Chinese envoy is not a bad guy at all, but he wants Chaplin and his sub to switch their allegiances to China. This eventually results in him conspiring with the mutineers and Serrat to take the sub by force.
    • Serrat occasionally touches on this, given his fondness for Sophie (to the point of protecting her in "Another Fine Navy Day", which also establishes that one of his primary motivations is apparently he just wants his island back.
    • Wes, who fakes Christine's death in order to ransom her. However, he claims he's doing it for his family, and seems genuinely regretful about it
  • A Nuclear Error: The Colorado's missiles can be self-destructed midflight in case of an erroneous launch. This does not happen when Chaplin fires at DC; however, he intentionally overshoots the target, with the explosion happening in international waters, but close enough to DC (and New York) to see the flash. Perhaps justified in the post-Cold War era, but not explained. Also, the flight path from the Indian Ocean to Washington is quite a bit outside the officially acknowledged range of the Trident II missile, but of course the actual range is probably classified anyway. Interestingly, the self-destruct function does not seem to be common knowledge; Sinclair assumes that once launched, there's no stopping it short of an orbital shootdown (i.e. Star Wars, which Sinclair's father was involved in).
    • The mushroom cloud from the Trident Chaplin launched is clearly visible from Washington DC despite the detonation being 200 miles off the coast, when in fact a bright flash should have been all that was noticed at that distance.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Possibly averted. The Colorado is carrying some kind of secret degaussing device (the Perseus project) to erase the sub's magnetic field from outside detection; this is an actual stealth-related problem in warship design, and there seems to be nothing particularly mysterious about the technology except the novelty of the design. (Although its capabilities may be a bit oversold; it's a little difficult to tell with the way it's being used early on.)
  • Artistic License – Geography: The admittedly fictional island of Sainte Marina is a curious pastiche of stereotypical Caribbean and Hawaiian cultural and other cliches, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It may be an expy for the islands of Diego Garcia note  or Mayotte note  but (much like the fictional version of Pianosa in Catch-22) the fictional island is much larger and more populous than the possible real world equivalents.
    • Unless they are pretty much in sight of land, there's no where near their reported location somewhere SW of Sri Lanka where even a tough modern Ohio-class nuclear submarine can hit bottom without being utterly crushed by water pressure first.
  • Artistic License – Military: Oh, where to begin?
    • Members of the Naval Service do not salute when uncovered except when under arms.
    • No ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) would be tasked with picking up a SEAL team. SSBNs are not suited to littoral operations, nor are they worth risking in SpecOps recovery operations. An Ohio Class SSGN (armed with cruise missiles and mines, not nukes), however, could be tasked with that mission.
    • No enlisted man would dream of questioning the orders of the Captain of a ship, to say nothing of telling him what to do. Admittedly, this happens in the context of an attempted mutiny under orders from Washington, to which the XO is not exactly cooperative...
    • The high-tech displays seen in the U.S.S. Colorado are nothing more than eye-candy. In several scenes, it's obvious that they are bolted on to panels, in some cases clearly covering up buttons and gauges.
    • The XO is seen chasing down two female crew members to ask them if anyone has harassed them or otherwise acted in a manner unbecoming. While the XO wouldn't be chasing down two enlisted crew members, the rote speech he gives asking them if anyone has sexually harassed them is straight out of the PC handbook. In all likelihood, a more senior enlisted person would be asking these questions, and only if there was a problem would an officer get involved.
    • In a newscast viewed in the Captain's cabin, the news announcer is talking about "four Generals resigning". However, the pictures shown of the the 'Generals' instead show one Vice Admiral, one Captain, and one Admiral.
    • ICBMs, once fired, cannot be remotely disabled or destroyed by the attacker. Missiles used in test flights do have remote-destruct systems as a safety measure, but for fairly obvious reasons, ones intended for use in actual war have no remote-destruct systems of any sort. (Although the fact that the Colorado's missiles do have a self-destruct device does not seem to be public knowledge.)
    • Tomahawk cruise missiles are not capable of targeting or attacking a submerged nuclear ballistic missile submarine at firing depth.
    • SSBNs can not retarget their Trident SLBMs independently. Flexibility of targeting is what the Strategic Command is for.
    • Lt. Shepard's ponytail is nonregulation.
    • Ohio Class SSBNs don't carry conventional cruise missiles. There is a very good reason for this: Boomers are intended to hide, not fight. They may carry conventional torpedoes, but for self-defense only. They have no business hunting enemy ships or subs, much less exposing themselves close to an enemy coast for cruise missile attack, when their ballistic missiles can hit pretty much anywhere in the same hemisphere as the sub. This is not due to fear of a cruise missile being mistaken for a nuclear missile: not only does a surface-skimming subsonic cruise missile look nothing like a suborbital, hypersonic ballistic missile, but until recently some of the cruise missiles carried by American attack subs were nuclear-armed land-attack weapons. Russian subs carry a mix of conventional and nuclear cruise missiles still today. The Ohio Class SSGN carries conventional cruise missiles, but does not carry nuclear missiles (they used to be Ohio Class SSBNs, but were converted into cruise missile subs as a result of disarmament treaties to reduce the US nuclear arsenal). The Colorado seen in the show seems to have been partially converted, with only 18 instead of 24 ballistic missile tubes, the other six tubes apparently converted into a mix of cruise missile tubes and swimmer delivery airlocks, probably to give them "greater flexibility" instead of restricting them purely to deterrence patrols. The real reason, of course, would be to give the show's writers greater flexibility instead of Captain Chaplin being restricted to "nuke the planet" or "hide".
    • And a very minor quibble for the naval tech trivia buffs: the Colorado's propellers are depicted with paddle-shaped blades. However, although the exact design of all US Navy sub propellors is classified, the actual propeller design has (or had) hook-shaped blades designed to cut down on cavitation noise while the boat is underway.
    • The crap that Lt. Grace Shepard has to put up with may be an example. The treatment the COB gives her certainly is unrealistic, because not even a Master Chief Petty Officer would be that insubordinate to an officer. But furthermore, Grace is not an Ensign Newbie. She is an O-3 Lieutenant, and to get there she must have served four years in the Navy already, two of those as a Lieutenant j.g. Lieutenants in the Navy are midranking officers, only one grade and six or so years of experience short of the XO's O-4 Lieutenant Commander rank.
    • The Colorado seems to be greatly understaffed: an Ohio-class SSBN normally has a crew of 15 officers and 140 enlisted; the Colorado appears to have a crew of 3 officers and at most 50 enlisted.
    • Chaplin's 200 nautical mile exclusion zone around the island is meaningless given some of the ordnance available to the US military: specifically, the AGM-129A, a low-observable cruise missile which can be fired from a B-52 at ten times that distance. The warhead can have a yield as low as 5 kilotons, meaning that damage to the island can be minimized (or avoided entirely if the Colorado is at sea). In any case, given that the US government in this scenario was willing to incinerate a good part of Pakistan, collateral damage likely isn't an issue to the conspiracy and could be justified within the context of their cover story about the Colorado.
  • A Taste of the Lash: In "Blue Water", after seeing a prison system for the crew is failing, Chaplin reinstates flogging as a punishment.
    Chaplin: There are no criminals. Only crimes.
  • Ate His Gun: Speaker Buell, on the House floor (!) in "The Pointy End of the Spear" after confessing that he and a number of former Joint Chiefs conspired to overthrow the corrupt President. He is said to be the "second high-profile death" that day.
  • The Atoner: Josh. After getting one of his fellow sailors killed and threatening the bridge with a grenade, he eventually betrays the mutiny and is shot defending Chaplin.
  • Badass Boast: James King, a Navy SEAL, does not respond well when Julian Serrat threatens him. James lists the exact order in which he will kill Julian and his mooks and the number of bullets he will use to do so. For bonus points, he even says where he'll shoot them.
  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: Captain Chaplin.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Three episodes after Grace gets the shit beaten out of her by a Spetznaz trooper, she's still sporting a shiner and a scabbed cheek. Her arm is also in a sling for a few episodes.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Sinclair family seems to be this. Kylie's dad even admits it, and that she's the best person of them.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Though Chaplin goes down with the Colorado explicitly to keep it from falling into Chinese hands and most likely Admiral Shepherd and Kylie Sinclair are dead, the President's treachery is exposed, the President himself is almost certainly dead, most of the crew makes it home alive, Sam reunites with his presumed-dead wife, and James finds peace with Tani.
  • Brainless Beauty: Thoroughly averted with Sinclair. Though extremely attractive and apparently a bit promiscuous, that has absolutely no bearing on the fact that she is NOT someone whose bad side you want to be on; she knows way too much and is frighteningly good at deductive reasoning.
    • Also averted with Christine who instantly realizes she's being played when Sam's "friend" makes the moves on her and quickly forums a fifth column-esque alliance with Sinclair.
    • To be fair, none of the women on the show are short in either department.
  • Bullying the Dragon: Julian Serrat, the local crime lord, decides that all those heavily armed US sailors and SEALs who have taken over his island are disrespecting his authority. He apparently thinks that the best way to show them who is the boss is to kidnap two of them and kill a third, and later torture the COB. To his credit, he eventually realizes he's in over his head with King, upon hearing his Badass Boast above.
    • The only reason Captain Chaplin hasn't responded is because he knows that he can't fight both the Navy off the island and the crime lord on the island, King on other hand hasn't killed Serrat yet because he apparently doesn't feel like it.
  • But Now I Must Go: Hopper tells Kylie that he needs to go as soon as he gets the money for fear that CIA agents will be sent to go after him since he gave the data that shows the attack on Pakistan was not justified in any way.
  • The Captain: Chaplin.
  • California Doubling: A L.A. neighborhood doubling as Manila, Philippines.
  • Cool Boat: The U.S.S. Colorado certainly applies. Toyed with in that the depiction shown is far more tech-heavy in the visual department than an actual Ohio-class SSBN.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Subverted with Kylie Sinclair who is a lobbyist for a weapons manufacturer whose advanced prototype system is being tested on the Colorado. When she finds out about the situation she does not hesitate to blackmail an Admiral in order to protect her company's interests. However, she is not one of the bad guys and she backs down when she realizes that something much more sinister is going on. She ends up a member of the conspiracy to overthrow the President, and when that fails, she is the one who assassinates the President
  • Cosmic Deadline: After the cancellation notice, the last few episode of the series and especially the finale move at double time to provide as workable a conclusion as possible.
  • Crapsack World: Seems to be heading in that direction, at least. Pakistan lies in nuclear ruins, the rest of the world is on edge and has turned on America, and America seems on the track to becoming a Police State.
    • But at the same time somewhat averted. Despite an obvious tense international situation and the nuking of Pakistan, life seems to be going on as normal in the US, and the Colorado's sanctuary isn't exactly hell on earth either.
    • One of the few times when a military coup or the assassination of the US President is presented as a good thing.
  • The Dead Have Names: Shepard gives King a list of the crew members who died on a mission, in an attempt to call him out for not helping. It backfires when he replies he has a list of dead team members/friends as well, and his is a lot bigger.
  • Deal with the Devil: When the Chinese offer to send much needed supplies to the island, they do not ask for anything in return. However, Chaplin knows that the deal is too good to be true and sooner or later he will be forced to pay dearly for this assistance. The move disturbs many of Chaplin's sailors, and ends up being a big reason for why Prosser leads a mutiny against him. Furthermore, the mutineers betray Prosser and work with Zheng and Serrat to turn the sub over to the Chinese
  • Defied Trope: The government tries to set Christine Kendal up in an affair with one of Sam's friends in order to break her bond with Sam, and also tries to convince her that Sam is hiding something from his experience as a prisoner of war that, again, they expect to weaken her desire to protect her husband. Christine defies the trope, however, by realizing almost instantly that she's being played, thereby also defying audience expectations of a potential "standard" subplot.
  • Delegation Relay: Standard operating procedure, played with in a deadly serious fashion. What tips Chaplin and Kendal off that there's something not right about the launch order is the fact that it comes through a backchannel that should only be used if Washington has been destroyed, but it's business as usual on the satellite TV channels.
  • Disney Death: Christine looks to be fitting this trope.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The captain's decision to question the launch order leads to the sub being hit by friendly fire. So he parks the sub off a small out-of-the-way island and fires a nuclear warning shot in America's general direction, to demonstrate just how willing they are to defend themselves. So basically, the whole show is built on a two-way street of this trope.
    • In between of all that happening, it should be noted that America nuked Pakistan. The captain questioned that exact same order to launch nuclear missiles at an ally country. If he had not later given his ultimatum (the almost nuking Washington may have been a wee too much), he would certainly have been framed for the nuked job.
    • Serrat also abuses this trope with almost gleeful abandon. It really doesn't take very much to set him off.
  • Drowning His Sorrows: Upon arriving on the island James King, one of the Navy SEALs, stashes his dead friend's body in a freezer and then opens a tab in the local bar with the intention of consuming any and all alcohol they have. It takes several episodes before we actually see King leave the bar.
    • The XO goes this direction for a while too.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Cortez. Who apparently a CIA mole on the boat, working for a sub-conspiracy within the CIA against the President. After being ordered to kill Chaplin, she reveals herself to him, says she never wanted to be a spy anyways, and becomes Chaplin's most loyal underling
    • Sam's "friend." Who is initially a double agent trying to turn Christine. But when she kisses him to distract him, he falls for her and begins lying to his superiors so he can White Knight her later.
    • Wes, who turns out to have been interested in the money after all and not friendship. Although he's a serious Anti-Villain, legitimately regretful at what he has to do for his family's comfort.
  • Dying as Yourself: Booth, the black ops guy, asks Kendal to call him by his real name before starting a scuffle where Kendal winds up killing him.
  • Eagleland: Flavor 2, but apparently much worse. While Chaplin favors a Flavor 1 America. (It does not help that the current President is facing impeachment and the upper levels of government seem to be teetering on the edge of full-on collapse.) It doesn't take very long for the Eagle's wings to get clipped after the Pakistan attack though.
  • Empty Quiver: An entire nuclear sub with 18 operational Trident II missiles and an apparent worldwide range (or at least far enough to reach from the Indian Ocean to 200 miles east of Washington DC). 17 left, given that Chaplin fired one at the US to prove he's willing to go the distance to protect his crew from whatever conspiracy they've stumbled into.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Cortez, though she does a brief Heel–Face Turn back when she returns the nuclear launch key she stole. She ends up doing a more permanent one when she reveals herself to Chaplin, becoming from then on his most loyal underling
  • The Faceless: The President. He doesn't show up until the last few minutes of the last episode and he is facing away from the camera when it focuses on him.
  • False Flag Operation: Textbook — whoever it is who tries to sink the Colorado pins the blame on Pakistan in order to justify a war.
    • This consists of SEALs infiltrating Pakistan with friendly SSGN commandos to meet with a nuclear inspector. However, this changes with evidence planting and assassinations to frame the Pakistani government.
  • False Rape Accusation: Averted. At first it appears like this might be the case, but later Anders admits that the girl he was going with said "no" when he tried to have sex with her.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Averted. Kendall shows off his wife's photo in the first episode. The photo is lost (and later recovered) when the Colorado is attacked, but so far Kendall is none the worse for wear. May end up inverted, in that the government is putting the heat on Christine.
    • Inverted with Chaplin; most of his immediate family was already dead when the series started, with a remaining son 'off saving the whales' and presumably not on speaking terms with him.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Anders revealed to Grace that he did rape one of the locals, even though the jury found him not guilty. Chaplin found out that Serrat fixed up the trial to make it look like Anders didn't rape the girl. Chaplin decided to play along and allowed him to hide as the locals were preparing to hunt him down and torture him according to island laws.
  • Flipping the Bird: While being interrogated, Kendal's wife holds up three fingers and says, "Read between the lines."
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The COB and Shepherd, in the final episode.
  • First-Name Basis: In a negative way. The COB tends to address Lieutenant Grace Shepard, who is third in command, by her first name instead of her rank or last name as a sign of disrespect.
  • Gaslighting: The only way to describe the way the conspiracy operatives are treating Christine Kendal.
    • However thoroughly averted by the fact she realizes this immediately and decides to play along..
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: After surviving being left without air for five minutes while repairing a buoy, James returns to the island, finds Tani, and passionately kisses her. The next episode has him waking up in her bed.
    • After a bit of flirting in "Skeleton Crew" and defusing a bomb in "Nuke it Out", King and Shepard have sex on the beach. She makes it clear that it's just a one-time thing.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The experimental stealth system Kylie Sinclair's company installed on the Colorado has proven to work exactly as advertised and was able to fool even American systems under combat conditions. Of course that just means that the US government will classify all of the information and seize the system for itself without Sinclair being able to do anything about it.
    • Subverted in that the system's potency isn't the reason they seize it. They're actually after the Tracking Device it's bundled with, which would have proven that the Colorado retrieved a SEAL team from Pakistan less than a day before the US decided to nuke the country.
    • Further subverted in that the system creates problems with the rest of the Colorado's electronics, meaning that it can't be used for long periods of time without other systems having critical malfunctions.
    • Sophie finally gets to kiss Kendal in episode 6, but Kendal is suffering from the effects of a military-grade psychotropic that Serrat had been paid by a group of US operatives to put in the water, and thinks Sophie is his wife. The mixture of satisfaction and guilt (from taking advantage of a drugged man) on Sophie's face as she watches the video of the incident is chilling.
  • Government Conspiracy: One that stretches at least as far as the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and possibly even further. At the very least, some of the SEALs picked up by the Colorado at the beginning of the pilot are implied to be in on it (and given the political situation and what's known about US nuclear tactics, almost certainly involves the President as well).
    • Just the fact that the NATO early warning station's power being cut off already suggests this, especially after Kendall overhears a sailor talking on a mobile phone about the power being disabled to another caller.
    • The CIA had planted some of their agents on the Colorado as US Navy sailors.
  • Gut Feeling: Christine already knew that Sam's lawyer friend was actually a spy sent by the government to make her turn against her husband.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Paul comes clean with Christine about his real identity as he tries to save her from the hijackers, and ultimately sacrifices his life to save hers. Even before this, he is shown trying to protect Christine from his masters.
    • Cortez confesses her political-officer role as CIA spy to Chaplin.
  • He Knows Too Much: The Air Force general is shot before he leaves the hotel room by a high-ranking Secret Service officer because of this after he decides that he doesn't want any part of the coup. Plus the general was willing to shoot the coup plotters to escape alive.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The officers of the Colorado are good, loyal people who held off on following a suspect "fire" order because they wanted confirmation before nuking millions of people, and all they want is to go home without anyone getting hurt. But due to a Government Conspiracy and, to a lesser extent, Chaplin's Obfuscating Insanity, most of the world thinks they're traitors.
  • Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: In two episodes, while the Colorado sneaks up on the USS Illinois and fires a dummy torpedo at her, and then when Colorado's efforts to repair the undersea sonar net attract the attention of several attack subs. Though the second time, the Colorado just gets to a depth where they can launch their nukes to force the subs to back off.
  • It Gets Easier: Implied in the finale episode when Kylie tearfully is forced to shoot her lover to prove her loyalty to the president, but this opens the door for her to assassinate the president later.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Chaplin says this to his crew when he believes they're all about to be killed by bombers. Fortunately, the government buys his bluff and backs off.
    • Kendal also says this to Chaplin as he leaves the sub for the last time.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: A lot of the problems on the island would disappear if they would just kill Serrat.
  • Just Following Orders: Spectacularly defied by Chaplin and then Kendell. They are not going to launch nuclear weapons and kill millions of people simply because they received an order that appears to be legitimate. COB Prosser has a problem with this, leading to an attempted counter-mutiny.
  • Kangaroo Court: When Chief Engineer Anders is accused of rape by the islanders in "Big Chicken Dinner", Chaplin rescues him from one. Chaplin sets up a proper court martial, with islanders and crew on the jury, Shepard as the defense attorney... and Serrat as the prosecutor. Anders is acquitted.
  • Karma Houdini: Anders in "Big Chicken Dinner...Except not. Sophie (who was placed on the jury as a neutral vote) reveals that Serrat sandbagged the case by convincing the islanders on the jury to acquit in order to start a riot against the sub crew, and that two of three fellow crew members voted to convict along with Sophie. Chaplin tricks Anders into admitting his guilt, proceeds to give Anders the titular "Big Chicken Dinner" (i.e. a bad conduct discharge), and sends Anders off to fend for himself among the islanders.
    • Julian Serrat. After all the things he pulled, he appears to get away completely clean at the end, and still (for the moment) controls the massive Rare Earth Elements supply on the island.
  • Kidnapped by an Ally: One of the SEALs named Fisher kidnaps Christine and bugs out with a team of fellow SEALs after rescuing her and the other families held hostage by rogue Special Service Group Navy commandos.
    • Another SEAL (this one retired) kidnaps her again at the end of the subsequent episode.
    • Yet a third one shows up in Manila as a bagman to transport [[Christine]] to whoever paid for her. Luckily this turns out to be Kylie, making this a different interpretation of the same trope.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Sam and Sophie end up making out while under the influence of military drugs. Sam is outright hallucinating and thinks he's with his wife, while Sophie is only suffering from the effects on her inhibitions and judgement. Afterwards, Sam remembers none of it.
  • The Last Title: The title of the series.
  • Loaded Words: "Patriot" has been used several times by the series in a context where it means 'unquestioning loyalist' rather than 'proud of one's country and what it stands for.' The distinction between these two definitions is the heart of the central conflict.
  • Logo Joke: The MiddKid Productions (Shawn Ryan's company) logo has a submarine at sea in the background (which is usually grassy hills).
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: A friend of Kylie Sinclair working for the Defense Department gives her information about the Colorado situation. Subsequently he 'accidentally' eats something he is allergic to and by the time he gets medical help he is brain dead.
    • In the finale, one of the co-conspirators gets this treatment.
  • Meaningful Name: The Black Ops commando that the crew captures in "Just Another Navy Day" is secretly trying to undermine a President he thinks is behaving like a tyrant. His name (at least the one he offers)? Booth.
  • Military Alphabet: The lieutenant uses the NATO phonetic alphabet to validate the launch codes received. A good thing too, as launch authorization codes aren't the sort of thing you'd want to have any confusion over.
  • Military Coup: Top officials and generals from the Army, Navy to Marines and the Secret Service are willing to pull off a coup in America. Well, except for that Air Force officer who refused to do so. He's been shot so that the details of the coup aren't revealed.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Reporters snap a picture of Sam's wife embracing a male friend of his in their kitchen, giving it a suggestive headline about her "late-night consultation" with a lawyer, and Sam sees the article and, under the influence of military drugs, actually does wonder about it. In reality, it was a platonic hug that both of them were faking; Sam's "friend" is a government spy, and Christine knows it.
  • Moment Killer: Kylie Sinclair is about to have sex when she gets a text message giving her advanced warning of the Colorado situation. She rushes off leaving her dumbfounded paramour behind.
  • Mushroom Samba: "Another Fine Navy Day" is a fairly dark version of this, with the entire island being dosed with a military-grade hallucinogen, causing everyone to have paranoid freak-outs, constant hallucinations, and eventually collapse into unconsciousness.
  • The Mutiny / With Us or Against Us: The basic question of "Who has the authority?" versus "Who is actually in control?", both within the Colorado and between the officers and the US government.
    • Technically, the conspirators who keep sabotaging Chaplin's efforts (which they themselves believe is suicidal, albeit part of their duty) are the mutineers. To quote The Hunt for Red October; Mutiny is when the crew rises against their officers. When the officers try to steal the ship it's referred to as barratry.
    • In "Damn the Torpedoes", some of the sailors from the Colorado are seriously considering launching a mutiny to get back to American territory. Kendal, unfortunately, stepped in to overhear some of their talk and is hunted down because of it.
  • Mutually Assured Destruction: Captain Chaplin is not bluffing, and launches an armed Trident at DC to prove it. Though he intentionally overshoots.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: The COB's attitude.
    • Kendall even uses these exact words to describe it.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In the end of the first episode, James King starts crying after seeing the news, realizing the entire situation is all his fault.
    • In "Eight Bells", when Serrat threatens to kill the soldiers he helped captive, Josh told him to kill Red. In the next episode, Josh realized what he had done.
  • Nerf: In a non-gaming example, King and Grace modify a torpedo to remove most of its explosive payload to lessen the damage on an American Navy destroyer since the latter doesn't like the idea of killing fellow sailors.
    • In an earlier episode, the Colorado fires an unarmed training torpedo at the Illinois, which had earlier fired (live) missiles at it. The training torpedo bounces off the hull of the Illinois and her captain takes the hint to back off.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Seems to be this. There are two actual submarines named Illinois and Colorado under construction so this probably takes place somewhere in the range of 2013-15.
  • No Ending: Firmly averted. Unlike many other arc-based series cancelled before they are able to complete their storyline, the writers of Last Resort were given enough notice of cancellation - and, more importantly, the network agreed to broadcast all completed episodes rather than pulling it off the air immediately - to retool the show's final broadcast episode to include a resolution of most of the outstanding plot threads.
  • No Name Given: Averted with the President. Admiral Shepherd uses his last name once, but it's very easy to miss. It's Bolton.
  • Noodle Incident: Though Kendal was at one point captured and tortured by North Korea, it is never explained what he was doing there.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: The SEALs in the pilot are picked up with their wounded teammate. Later, one of them is seen carrying the body, looking for a hospital with a morgue to ensure he gets home.
    • Later leads to strife as two of the remaining SEALs want to take their dead teammate home, but King refuses as he and the dead man were Bash Brothers. After a fistfight, the other sailors let it go, and King buries the man on the island.
  • Not What I Signed on For: What some of the USS Colorado personnel are feeling in the start of "Voluntold".
    Brannan: "I just wanted it to be like it was in the damn commercials!"
    • And in "Another Fine Navy Day", King finds out from one of his fellow SEALs that in Pakistan, what had apparently been a botched rescue operation had been changed mid-mission to an assassination, and no one else had been told. King is not happy about this.
  • Number Two: Kendall
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Chaplin's televised speech at the end of the pilot is intended to make the world think that he might just be crazy enough to engage in Mutually Assured Destruction.
    Kendall: Just crazy enough sir.
    • Possibly subverted. From the look he gives Chaplin at the end of the pilot when Chaplin is talking about making the island their permanent home Kendall is obviously wondering if he really might be crazy.
  • Oh, Crap!: "They're not Delta Force. They're Russian Spetsnaz."
    • When the Air Force general in charge of EADS is shot by a high-ranking Secret Service officer for trying to leave the planning session to start a potential coup with Kylie witnessing it all. Although the shooting is justified. You don't want him to potentially reveal the plot to the president or to the FBI.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The fact that the fire order comes through the Antarctic network is an instant red flag for Chaplin and Kendall. The only reason this would happen is if the normal command channels were destroyed. Since everything back in America seems to be fine, such a breach of protocol signals to them that something fishy is going on. The COB's only concern is following orders without questioning them.
    • The fact that a ballistic missile submarine was used to pick up a group of Navy SEALs in the beginning of the story proves to be a major bargaining chip when Washington bureaucrats come to the island, making quite a bit clearer that the Secretary of Defense and unspecified others were definitely up to no good.
    • The underlying problem, and the trigger to the whole storyline: authorization to launch nukes from an SSBN must come from the President directly (which, under the circumstances, could include anyone in the line of succession, which a Deputy Secretary of Defense would not be—the Secretary of Defense is sixth in line to the Presidency, which would imply a pretty deep hit to the leadership, but even if he were taken down the next most senior surviving Cabinet official would be next, not the Deputy Secretary of Defense). Chaplin was absolutely correct in questioning the order to fire absent evidence that the United States had actually been attacked and without confirmation from the President or his successor.
  • Papa Wolf: Admiral Shepard did this after stealing a US Marine's sidearm to gun down a White House adviser who was going to give the go-ahead to destroy the Colorado. This means that he will be stripped off his rank permanently. But since the affair is a secret one, the conspirators will probably try to put him somewhere where he can't interfere in the future.
  • Police State: Admiral Shepard fears that the US is becoming one.
  • President Evil: The President, arguably.
  • Private Military Contractors: Some of the mercenaries who came after King and Sam in "Blue Water".
  • Rape as Backstory: The cuts to a rape victim's story during "Big Chicken Dinner" are eventually revealed to be Grace's flashback to her rape at the Naval Academy, in retaliation for punishing another cadet's honor infraction.
  • Rebellious Rebel: When Prosser's mutiny succeeds in the final episode, Anders and some of his supporters wage a successful counter-mutiny with the goal of selling the Colorado to the Chinese. Prosser's group then joins forces once again with Chaplin to keep the sub out of China's hands.
  • Redemption Quest: A few like Petty Officer Barry Hopper (Who actually planted evidence in Karachi) and Robert Mitchell (Who stole some documents from Kylie's residence), who had decided on turning against the president over the attack on Pakistan.
  • Ridiculous Future Inflation: Reference is made to $8/gallon gasoline as a result of the events of the series. Justified though — under the circumstances, not a lot of countries would be selling the US oil, so $8/gal would probably be quite a bit on the low side.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: While the Ohio-class subs in original configuration are unlikely to be used to pick up a covert insertion team off an unfriendly coast, the first three boats in the class have been modified to replace 22 of the 24 ballistic missile tubes with cruise missile tubes, and the other two with airlocks for releasing or recovering covert insertion teams while submerged, or canisters of gear for resupply of such teams. The Colorado is a fictional member of this class, but the recitation of its vital statistics in the pilot episode lists 18 rather than 24 Trident missiles, and many more tomahawk cruise missiles than are likely to be carried for launching from torpedo tubes. It seems likely that this particular sub has had 6 of its 24 ballistic missile tubes removed, and at least some replaced with a mix of vertical launch tubes for Tomahawks and others with swimmer delivery systems.
  • Retirony: Kendall is about to be transferred to a desk job so he can spend more time with his wife.
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: When local thug Serrat is threatening to murder one of his prisoners, Cortez offers herself to him to calm him down. It doesn't take, the next day Serrat kills the man anyway; but only because the other sailor tells him too. Cortez later claims she didn't sleep with him, only offering to keep him informed of the captain's activities.
  • Scary Black Man: Subverted. Julian Serrat clearly thinks he's one, but since he plays this role on a Navy SEAL and the Captain of nuclear submarine they're unimpressed. But that doesn't stop him from trying.
  • Scenery Porn: Sainte Marina. The island scenes are shot in Hawaii, which explains the obvious similarities between this island and another famous fictional one.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The whole basis of the pilot.
  • Shout-Out: nearly every submarine movie ever made, but specifically the following:
    • The government is fabricating evidence that Chaplin and Kendall intended to sell the Colorado to the Chinese and defect in a scenario not unlike The Hunt for Red October
    • The divisions amongst the crew in light of a dubious order to fire nuclear missiles is reminiscent of Crimson Tide.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Pretty far down on the cynical end — the administration is corrupt (thus the impending Presidential impeachment) and trying to cover up its actions in attacking the Colorado by blaming it on Pakistan and taking people close to the crew into law enforcement custody and have operatives pose as the detained person's lawyer in order to cut into her faith in her husband.
  • Start My Own: At the end of the pilot, after setting Sainte Marina up as their base, Chaplin suggests that they just make it their home and start over. In the finale, Kendal calls him out over this. Word of God says that this idea would have been more thoroughly investigated in the second season if the series was renewed.
  • Stealth Pun: The name of the captain of the sub, who takes over an island and basically becomes its military dictator? Chaplin.
  • Stock Episode Titles: Averted. The first episode is called ''Captain''
  • Suicide by Cop: Hinted at, but not outright invoked when Booth picks a fight with Kendal and winds up dead when Kendal strangles him. It of course remains to be seen if this was actually the case.
    • Kendal was burning something that looked like a body, so likely Killed Off for Real.
    • Chaplin and Kendal order US fighter aircraft to sink the Colorado to keep it out of Chinese hands. Chaplin stays aboard as the missiles reach their target.
  • The Mole: Cortez, shown to be such when hiding the launch key.
  • The Resolution Will Not Be Televised: Averted, much to fans' relief, although some outstanding plot threads (such as why the government went rogue in the first place and why Kendall's wife was kidnapped and later located and easily freed) are left hanging.
  • Tropical Island Adventure: The series takes place on a fictional tropical island located in the Indian Ocean.
  • Two-Keyed Lock: Naturally, as it is a nuclear submarine. The Captain has one, and the XO has the other.
    • When an undercover CIA agent steals the Captain's key, he points out this pretty much means they're screwed.
  • Unfriendly Fire: Prosser tries to arrange some on Shepherd. She's aware of it, and asks that the men at least wait until the mission is over.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Serrat has feelings for Sophie, who doesn't return his feelings. But after the Colorado came, he start to suspect that Sophie's in love with Sam even though he has a wife. In "Voluntold", Serrat is becoming more threatening to get Sophie to search hard for "rare earths" on the island. By the end of the episode, Sophie tells Sam "should anything happen to her", but then says to forget what she just said.
    • By the time of "Another Fine Navy Day," Sophie's attraction to the married Sam Kendall is not longer ambiguous, at least to the audience, after she views security footage of Sam, under the influence of a drug making him hallucinate images of his wife, making out with her.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: The missiles on the sub are UGM-133 Trident-II SLBMs. They can be armed with four W88 warheads with a yield of 475 kilotons each. For comparison, the nuclear weapon that destroyed Hiroshima was only 15 kilotons. Also of note is the fact that these weapons have a range of 7,000 miles and can be targeted within 300 feet. When asking for confirmation of the fire order Chaplin states that it will result in the deaths of 4.3 million people.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Two Russian Spetznaz soldiers are captured by Kendal's team and imprisoned in the island's tiny jail cell...and have not been seen since.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Invoked often, primarily by crew members uncertain about Chaplin's motives, and also by the XO after Chaplin orders the execution of one of Serrat's men after he was identified as rigging a female crewmember into a human bomb.
    • In a way by the Speaker of the House to Admiral Shepard after the Air Force general decides to go and leave the coup plot, telling him that he needed to get their act together.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Kendell figures that a group of US Delta Force soldiers will Take a Third Option rather than fire on US Navy sailors so he he tries to talk them out of a firefight. He does not realize that he is actually facing Russian Spetznaz soldiers and they are merely stalling for time while they try to flank the Americans.
  • You Do Not Want To Know: A comedic example. In Skeleton Crew Shepard is forced to leave King behind on an underwater buoy. When she gets back, after he's run out of air, he reveals that he is still alive by tapping the buoy with Morse Code. He also apparently includes a vulgar message to her, and Pitts merely says that she doesn't want to know what it means.

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