Follow TV Tropes


Series / Legion (2017)

Go To
"A delusion starts like any other idea, as an egg. Identical on the outside, perfectly formed. From the shell, you'd never know anything was wrong. It's what's inside that matters."
"He believes he's mentally ill, but he may be the most powerful mutant we've ever encountered."

Legion is a Superhero Horror-Psychological Thriller television series based on the X-Men character of the same name, created and executive produced by Noah Hawley (Fargo). The show was designed with a three-season run in mind, running from 2017 to 2019 on FX.

David Haller (Dan Stevens) is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who has struggled with mental illness since his late childhood. When he meets a similarly-troubled woman (and fellow patient) named Sydney Barrett (Rachel Keller), he's confronted with the disturbing possibility that there's more to his schizophrenia than he believes: that the voices he hears and visions he sees are actually real. Aubrey Plaza and Jean Smart also co-star.

Despite being a co-production between 20th Century Fox (the X-Men Film Series) and Marvel (the Marvel Cinematic Universe), Legion is said to be set in neither of those continuities, but rather, its own parallel universe. Despite references to outside continuity, the series is designed to stand on its own.

Previews: Trailer 1, Trailer 2. Season 2 Trailer

Legion contains examples of:

    open/close all folders 

  • The '50s: The scenes which feature Charles (a World War II veteran) and Gabrielle (a Romani Holocaust survivor) are set in the 1950s, which is corroborated by the fashion, hairstyles, décor and level of technology. As is the social norm for young married couples who want to start a family in that decade, they reside in Suburbia. Gabrielle is seen holding the 1955 children's book Harold and the Purple Crayon, which suggests that their infant son David was born in the same year.
  • Abled in the Adaptation: Harry Lloyd's version of Charles Xavier (who's a paraplegic in the comics) lacks any disability and is always seen walking, except for a brief glimpse of the character's signature wheelchair in "Chapter 7".
  • Abnormal Ammo: Charles loads his revolver with a glowing mental bullet he manifested out of his ear.
  • Accidental Aiming Skills: Syd attempts to shoot David after he has been Brought Down to Normal in "Chapter 19", but Lenny manages to shoot the bullet out of the air with a sniper rifle. That wasn't Lenny's intention though - she was just trying to kill Syd.
  • Accidental Murder: Lenny is a victim of this when Syd is stuck is David's body, being overwhelmed by David's mutation.
  • Acid-Trip Dimension: The Astral Plane, Justified since the ones with the most control over it are all either Ax-Crazy or Cloudcuckoolanders.
  • Action Girl: Kerry is the brawn in her Brains and Brawn duo with Cary. She seems to have superhuman fighting abilities and can fight off several mooks at the same time, but her power level is still pretty low.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: In the comics, David Haller was born in Israel as the illegitimate son of Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller. He was an only child who was raised by his single mother. In the show, David Xavier was born in America as the legitimate son of Charles Xavier and his wife Gabrielle. He was given up for adoption when he was still a baby and was taken in by the Haller family, where he grew up with two adoptive parents and an adoptive sister.
  • Adaptational Badass: All the mutants in the series exhibit their special abilities from birth (i.e. Ptonomy remembers when he was inside his mother's womb, Syd couldn't be touched by her mom because she could change bodies with her, David could hear voices when he was a child, the Loudermilk siblings were one and then separated themselves when they were just kids, and so on). This is in contrast with how usually mutants have to go through a Traumatic Superpower Awakening or a Puberty Superpower age lift.
  • Adaptational Hairstyle Change: David Haller's Messy Hair is more normal and realistic than the towering Anime Hair he has in the source material.
  • Adaptational Location Change:
    • In the comics, the psychiatric hospital where Charles first meets Gabrielle is in Israel, but in the show, it's located in England.
    • The Battle in the Center of the Mind between Charles and Farouk originally took place in Cairo, Egypt, whereas in the series, the psychic duel happened at Farouk's Moroccan palace.
  • Adaptational Nationality:
    • Charles Xavier is an American in the comics, but his TV counterpart is an Englishman who speaks with a refined English accent, and he was a British army officer during World War II. When discussing tomatoes with his Love Interest and hearing her pronounce it as "to-may-to," his response is, "Well, we say 'to-mah-to'." (The "we" refers to the British.)
    • The comic book version of Gabrielle is an Israeli Jew, but her TV iteration is Romani with no fixed abode.
    • By extension, their son David is an American of English and Romani descent on the show instead of being a British-Israeli of American and Jewish descent.
    • The original Amahl Farouk is Egyptian, whereas the live-action character is Moroccan.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
  • Adaptational Superpower Change: While by no means an Adaptational Wimp, David hasn't shown quite as large an arsenal of superpowers as his comic counterpart.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • David Haller is black-haired in the comics, but his TV counterpart's hair is light brown.
    • The comic book version of Charles Xavier is blue-eyed and was blond before he went bald, but the TV iteration has green irises and dark brown hair. The latter is a deliberate nod to the X-Men Film Series, where the younger Professor X is a brunet as well.
    • The original Gabrielle Haller is raven-haired with brown eyes, whereas the show's Gabrielle Xavier is brown-haired with green eyes.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Gabrielle's maiden name is never mentioned onscreen, but it's unlikely to be Haller because she's Romani in the show instead of Jewish like in the comics, and David's surname Haller has been changed to be from his adoptive family. After Gabrielle marries Charles Xavier, her name becomes Gabrielle Xavier (and Switch addresses her as such in the series finale).
    • Because Charles and Gabrielle are married, their son was born as David Xavier, although he's adopted by the Haller family when he's still a baby, so he's known as David Haller throughout the series. However, after the Alternate Timeline takes hold in the series finale, the infant that's shown in the last scene will be known as David Xavier permanently because his parents won't give him up this time.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Zig-zagged with David. The comic book version of David Haller is genuinely mentally ill, with facets of his powers controlled by his multiple personalities. The show, while initially characterizing him as schizophrenic, quickly asserts that his "madness" is actually the manipulations of a foreign invading intelligence living in his mind. However, by the end of Season 2, it's officially acknowledged that, whatever else is happening with his mind, David also genuinely has multiple personalities.
  • Alternate Continuity: This series is in its own standalone continuity, set apart from the X-Men movie universe, the MCU and any other current Marvel continuity; it differs in many ways.
  • Alternate Self:
    • Because this series is set in its own universe which is distinct from the X-Men Film Series, the Charles Xavier portrayed by Harry Lloyd has a different life from the Patrick Stewart-James McAvoy version. He's a full-blooded Englishman instead of being half-British, half-American, he was a young adult instead of a child during World War II and fought as a British army officer, plus he got married and had a son instead of remaining a bachelor and childless. The most glaring deviation is that he never establishes the X-Men.
    • Once the Alternate Timeline kicks in near the end of "Chapter 27", Charles is committed to being a Family Man and take care of David. This is a big change from the previous timeline where he gave up his son for adoption. It's also hinted that he'll be the founder of the X-Men in this new future.
      Gabrielle: I can't do this without you. [David] needs us both.
      Charles: No more travel. No more bloodshed. You know, I've always wanted to become a teacher.
  • Alternate Timeline: "Chapter 14" focuses on this, showing all the ways David might have developed if he'd never gone to the Clockworks and Farouk hadn't killed his sister Amy. Some are good (for him at least), others not so much. Ultimately the point is, even though David has the power to choose his reality, for good or ill, he chooses to live in the one and remember the Amy that made him the person he is today.
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: Lenny is played by a woman, but the character's gender is complicated. Lenny is often very androgynous and only expresses sexual interest in women. It's revealed that David's real druggy buddy whom he and Sydney remember as the female Lenny might have actually been "Benny," a man. When in the guise of the Demon With the Yellow Eyes, Lenny appears to have a male face and frame, but with slender, feminine arms. Another one of her personas, "The World's Angriest Boy in the World," is also male. Lenny was originally written as a man, but after Noah Hawley gave the role to Aubrey Plaza, she convinced him that Lenny should be gender-neutral, being inspired by David Bowie. Season 2 confirms that while Lenny was alive she was, in fact, a woman. Any ambiguity on that point was entirely Farouk's doing.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The time period is kept ambiguous, with occasional glimpses of technology that appear current or futuristic contrasting with styles or references to events that suggest a much earlier setting. This keeps the world feeling strangely unbalanced and unreal, much like a person who doubts his sanity might find it.
    • Some of the hairstyles and clothing are from the '60s. The Eye wears a 1960s perm and retro green suit. Amy Haller's outfits and hairstyle are straight from the 1960s. Oliver's style is even more overtly from the 1960s, but it's implied that this is because he's been in the Astral Plane for decades.
    • Many set designs are influenced by the '70s, although this makes more rational sense for Summerland, which was built decades ago.
    • Clark has a futuristic-looking tablet computer when interviewing David in the first episode.
    • In "Chapter 1," Lenny mentions CNN, which wasn't a network until 1980.
    • Ptonomy has a noticeably retro taste in suits, often wearing flat caps and waistcoats. He couples that with a preference for the Thompson submachine gun, which was used by the US military until 1971, with production ending in 1945.
    • Most vehicles are at least fairly modern-looking. Melanie's black limo has a vaguely '90s-era aesthetic — weirdly, it's also right-hand drive, very unusual for most cars in the United States.
    • In "Chapter 4," Oliver Bird, who has been trapped in the Astral Plane for 20 years, asks David if the 'Summer of Love' was still going on, which occurred in 1967.
    • Oliver Bird is said to have inherited Summerland in the 1940s. Even considering that he hasn't aged for 20 years, if the current year were 2017, he would have had to have inherited it in infancy in 1949 for him to look anywhere near the age of his actor, 43-year-old Jemaine Clement.
    • The Clockworks facility has very large flatscreens on the walls, but they play old-timey black and white films.
    • Philly has a iMac G4 on her desk in "Chapter 4", which were only made in the early 2000s.
    • Ptonomy remembers that Nena's "99 Luftballons" (released in 1983) was playing when his mother died, when he was five years old.
    • David plays "The Rainbow Connection" on his banjo at one point, a song which wasn't released until 1979.
    • The psychiatric drugs Kerry/Cary are playing a game about in chapter 6 are from a few time periods: Chlorpromazine (1954), Flupentixol (1956), Clozapine (1972), Effexor (1993), Geodon (2001), Abilify and Escitalopram (2002), Duloxetine (2004), and finally Brintellix (2013).
    • Clark has a husband and a black adopted son, neither of which he tries to hide from society, suggesting a fairly late time period or an alternative time line with more tolerance.
    • One of the flashbacks has a bunch of security guards blazing away with the Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle, which started production in 1996.
    • Amahl Farouk mentions John Lennon's "Bigger Than Jesus" quote, which came from an interview in August 1966.
    • It's mentioned that Farouk's inert form has been hidden away for several decades. The hearse we see moving it to the temple of the Mi-go monks has tailfins, a style of automobile accessory that peaked between the years 1955 and 1961.
    • David's parents were young adults during World War II and still fairly young at his birth, putting David's birth year somewhere in the 1950s (the fashion, hairstyles, décor and level of technology in the scenes that feature Charles and Gabrielle fit this decade), meaning that the show would take place somewhere in the 1980s. Gabrielle reads Harold and the Purple Crayon (which was published in 1955) as a bedtime story to her infant son, so David was likely born around 1955, and since he's 33 years old in Season 3, the final season would be set in 1988. However, the 1984 song "True Love Will Find You in the End" by Daniel Johnston and 1967's "She's a Rainbow" by The Rolling Stones are used as Love Themes for Charles and Gabrielle, and neither tune would've existed in the 1950s.
    • In the Season 3 premiere, David's cult performs "Something For Your M.I.N.D." by Superorganism, which wasn't released until 2017, the year the show debuted.
  • Anachronism Stew: In season 3, when Syd lives a second childhood with Melanie and Oliver, the setting seems to be a mixture of fairy tale, Victorian era, and late 20th century.
  • Anachronic Order: There can be numerous jumps between the past and the present in a single episode.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Lenny, the real Lenny, is trapped in the astral plane with Farouk.
    • In "Chapter 26", Charles is horrified to discover through his telepathy that the consciousness of the king that Farouk had deposed is trapped inside the mind of Farouk's caged pet monkey! That means at least some of the monkey's shrieks are the former monarch's anguished cries to be freed from the animal's head.
      Ex-king: Please. Please, you have to help me. I was a king. A king, you hear. I was a kiiiiiing!
    • The next day, Charles is approached by Habiba, who is constantly tormented by the yelling of the people who are imprisoned within her own psyche.
      Habiba: Can you make them stop screaming? They're all inside of me. I can't sleep.
      Charles: Who?
      Habiba: Every tyrant has his supporters.
      (Charles reads her mind)
      Ex-king's subjects: Help us! Release us! He was our king!
  • And Starring:
    • Season 1's end credits has "with Katie Aselton and Jean Smart."
    • Season 3 has "with Lauren Tsai and Hamish Linklater."
  • Arc Symbol: Production designer Michael Wylie states in this featurette that the sets have a circle motif.
  • Arc Words:
    • "What did the stars say?"
    • "I'm a good person. I deserve love."
  • Art Shift:
    • The body movements of Lenny's horrifying murder of The Eye is done in a jumpy, jarringly-edited Stop Motion style, which makes it even more disturbing.
    • The Time Before Time is presented as a montage of static images, much like the Time Eaters.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Happens to Switch in the final episode, which allows her to resolve the situation with the Time Eaters.
  • Asshole Victim: Nobody is shedding any tears for the group of men who got vaporized after attacking the homeless variant of David in The Multiverse episode.
  • Bad Future: The orb that kidnapped David in the season 1 finale was apparently sent from the future to send David a message. In Chapter 11, David is able to use Mental Time Travel to see future Syd, who says that they must team up with the Shadow King to fight a bigger threat. In season 3, the characters time travel back to the 1950s, and from that perspective, the current timeline is the "bad future" that they're trying to prevent.
  • Badass Boast: Clark gets a pretty awesome one while refusing desk duty in episode eight.
    Clark: Here's the deal. I have burns over 40 per cent of my body and I spent six weeks with a tube jammed into the head of my dick while my husband cried himself to sleep every night. We were ambushed at the pool. Men died. And I am going to finish what I started. So if you want me behind a desk, you better find a portable one. Because the second I walk out of this room, I'm going to war.
  • Badass Bookworm: Charles is a scientist and a World War II veteran who beats Farouk in a psychic battle by literally severing the latter's mind-body connection.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: In "Chapter 26", Farouk is presented in a more negative light when he allows the children to torment his caged pet monkey for fun. After hearing it screech in protest, the compassionate Charles expresses pity at the monkey's mistreatment ("Poor creature"). Farouk then dismisses his guest's concerns about the animal's welfare ("Let [the kids] enjoy their games").
  • Bag of Holding: The little yellow box which is somehow able to hold a fully assembled sniper-rifle.
  • Bait-and-Switch: "Chapter 13" leads audiences to believe that Farouk has found his body, only to reveal that he was actually digging up Lenny.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: Syd attempts to kill David in "Chapter 19" during her window of opportunity when he has been Brought Down to Normal. The audience is led to believe she has succeeded until a few scenes later, when we learn that her bullet collided with a bullet from Lenny's sniper rifle that was intended for her.
  • Bare-Handed Blade Block: David regains control of his body from Syd and stops his execution at Kerry's hands in this manner.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Farouk battles Legion inside David's mind in the Grand Finale.
  • Battle Rapping: Oliver does this against Wolf in the Astral Plane.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Charles is sweet and gullible, so he's easily Lured into a Trap set up by Farouk. However, the latter makes the mistake of underestimating the former's telepathic skills when they get embroiled in a Battle in the Center of the Mind because Charles vanquishes Farouk by ripping out his foe's consciousness from his body.
  • Big "NO!": Sydney shouts this many times after she unintentionally swaps bodies with David in the first episode.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • In "Chapter 22", when Charles is connected to Cerebro, what Farouk says in Farsi is: "Can anyone hear me? My holy message? My message in a bottle, floating across space? If you hear me, if you are like me, I am here."
    • In "Chapter 26", the Romanian word spoken by Gabrielle is vrăjitoare, which means "witch."
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In "Chapter 26", Farouk appears to be a genial host to his guest Charles, but this is merely a façade. The Shadow King is a predator who's carefully studying his prey before he moves in for the kill, and he's attempting to lull Charles into a false sense of security.
  • Bittersweet Ending: David goes back in time to prevent Charles from leaving him as a child, creating a new timeline where he'll have support from his parents to face his mental illness. In the past, Farouk is visited by his future self and convinced to stop being so evil in the new timeline. Meanwhile, Switch ascends to a higher plane of existence. Everyone who has died over the course of the series will be alive in the new timeline. However, all of the characters we've been following through the series are wiped out of existence when their timeline is prevented from happening.
  • Blank Stare: In "Chapter 26", when David is no longer in control of his own mind, he just stares blankly into the distance, much to Charles' dismay. Charles shakes his son and yells "Wake up!", but David remains unresponsive.
  • Blank White Void: In "Chapter 27", the astral plane is white and featureless when Charles initially confronts Present Farouk, then negotiates a truce with him, and later convinces David to accept the peace agreement.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • The Government Conspiracy interrogating David over what happened at Clockworks in the pilot initially dismiss Sydney as part of his delusion. They're very much aware that she's real, and are attempting to use David to find her.
    • After David accidentally smashes a lamp in his sister's basement in "Chapter 1", Amy takes away the sharp gardening tools to remove the risk of him potentially hurting himself, but the fake reason she gives for doing this is, "Ben, he's gotta get to the garden tomorrow morning, you know?"
    • In the series premiere, when David searches for Syd, he tells the person on the other end of the phone, "I'm her father, Max."
    • In "Chapter 26", when Farouk inquires about the stranger that Charles has brought to the palace, Charles introduces his time-travelling son David as an old army buddy from World War II. (This is impossible because David was born in the 1950s.)
      Charles: This is David. An old friend. He was stationed here in Morocco during the war and well, he decided to stick around.
      Farouk: So, David, where were you stationed?
      David: Mohammedia. Just outside Rabat. Came in with Operation Torch, like the rest of the meddling Americans.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • David's incredible mutant powers are accompanied by mental instability.
    • Sydney steers clear of any physical contact because it triggers her body switch ability, which is a traumatic experience for her.
  • Body Snatcher: After losing his physical body following a duel in the astral plane, Farouk has been reduced to this.
  • Body Surf: Done by Farouk to escape Summerland in "Chapter 8" - hopping from David, to Syd, to Kerry, to Oliver in the span of a few minutes.
  • Bookends: The show begins and ends with a scene of baby David in his crib. The Who song "Happy Jack" is heard in the first scene of the series and in the last.
  • Brain Uploading: Willingly done by Fukyama to prevent mind-reading and later done to save Ptonomy's mind when his body is killed.
  • Brains and Brawn: Cary and Kerry. He's a brilliant scientist and she has superhuman fighting abilities.
  • Brainy Brunet: Just like in the X-Men Film Series, Harry Lloyd's Charles Xavier is a brown-haired scientist.
  • Break Them by Talking: In "Chapter 27", Past Farouk taunts David about his biggest insecurity — that his biological parents don't love him — when they're in the astral plane.
    Past Farouk: Do you know why you have failed? Because under all your anger, there is a baby. Scared, small. Given away by his mother and father. A baby who is unloved, and knows that he's unloved.
    David: I'm a good person. I deserve love.
    Past Farouk: No, you don't.
  • Broken Bird: Because Gabrielle is a Romani Holocaust survivor who had witnessed her entire family being slaughtered by Nazis and she was also a prisoner in a concentration camp, she is extremely pessimistic. Although she's not suicidal, her conversation with Syd in "Chapter 26" strongly hints that she feels that she's merely existing (rather than truly living) because of a basic survival instinct, but otherwise she's not keen about life. Gabrielle loves her husband Charles and their infant son David, and Charles has provided them with a lovely mansion in a safe, idyllic suburb, yet her new comfortable environment cannot erase the horrors that she has endured, nor heal the psychological wounds that they've inflicted.
    Gabrielle: It bothers you because you think you matter. That people matter.
    Syd: What's the point of living if not?
    Gabrielle: Have you ever seen a mass grave? All people, with names, with families... now just a pile. What's the meaning of that?
    Syd: But you're here. You have a child.
    Gabrielle: All animals fight to live. Whether they want to or not.
    • In "Chapter 27", Gabrielle once again brings up her bleak outlook.
      Gabrielle: What is happening?
      Syd: The world's ending.
      Gabrielle: My world ended a long time ago.
  • Broken Record:
    • In "Chapter 26", while Charles is visiting the mind of his son David, the latter's multiple personalities exclaim "Daddy!" non-stop. Charles is so disturbed by the growing number of Davids calling out for their father that he has to use his telepathy to escape from David's deranged psyche.
    • In "Chapter 27", Legion shouts "Monster!" so many times at Farouk that it sounds like a distorted chorus of overlapping voices.
  • Broken Tears: In "Chapter 22", Gabrielle bursts into tears after she receives a long-awaited phone call from her husband (and Living Emotional Crutch) Charles, but the long-distance connection is poor, so they can't hear each other very well. Her weeping worsens after he hangs up because she didn't catch his message at the end that he's coming home soon, so she assumes that she'll remain alone in their "haunted house" (or at least lost within her own haunted mind) for a while longer. Her crying signifies that she's psychologically unstable and losing her grip on reality.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Division 3 owns a weapon called "The Choke", a tuning fork that can temporarily De-power any mutant in range. David uses it to De-power both himself and Farouk so he can overpower Farouk in a fistfight in "Chapter 19".
  • Brown Note: The desert monks in "Chapter 18" emit one that only Kerry is able to withstand.
  • Bullet Catch: One of the many things David can do as a winner of the Superpower Lottery. He saves himself and Syd from a spray of submachine gun bullets in "Chapter 7" with the ability.
  • Call-Back: In Season 1, Syd tells David that she loves him, and he's so stupefied that she has to prompt him to say it back. In Season 2, David tells Syd that he loves her and has to prompt her to say it back. She playfully makes him wait before doing so.
  • Call-Forward: In the series finale, Charles tells Gabrielle that he "always wanted to become a teacher," which hints that he'll open the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters and form the X-Men.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: In "Chapter 26", David (more accurately two of his multiple personalities) calls out his biological father Charles for abandoning him. Ultimately, the fact that David convinces his father to not give him up for adoption is what will prevent David from becoming a supervillain.
    Legion: We're here for justice. Because you couldn't protect us.
    Charles: Me?
    Legion: Daddy. The leaver. The great abandoner. Who put a monster in our head and then threw us away. Adoption. Betrayal.
  • Canon Foreigner: Most of the cast. While the show is a loose adaptation of comics in the X-Men orbit, initially only David Haller and the Shadow King are familiar Marvel Comics characters. David's parents appear in the third season, Charles Xavier included. Some interesting canon immigrants could be drawn from it, if Marvel wants to go there.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: Because Sydney wants to avoid causing a "Freaky Friday" Flip with her mutant power, she can never know physical intimacy. Even the simple act of kissing leads to numerous complications, as demonstrated by the premiere episode. After David creates a mental projection in which they can have sex without body-swapping, he asks if it's her first time and she replies that when she was 16 she swapped places with her passed-out mother to have sex with her mother's boyfriend. We see this in the second season.
  • Captain Obvious: In the astral plane in "Chapter 27", Charles forcibly moves David to a Blank White Void in order to prevent his son from killing Past Farouk, who was close to being asphyxiated with David's hands squeezing his throat. David then furiously states what his father had just seen.
    David: I had him!
    Charles: (deadpan) Yes, I saw the blood.
  • Cardiovascular Love: In "Chapter 22", Charles sketches a heart-shaped tomato as a small gift for Gabrielle to illustrate his romantic feelings for her.
  • C.A.T. Trap: Double subverted. David gets shoved into one of these, which is extremely uncomfortable for him because he's not only claustrophobic but highly schizophrenic. He fidgets... and twitches... and promptly bangs his head on the ceiling of the machine. ("Oh, COME ON!") Then he has a hallucination of the Devil with Yellow Eyes trying to pull him out, which frightens him enough that he unintentionally teleports himself and the machine outside the Summerland building.
  • Central Theme:
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Rudy, Summerland's telekinetic, spends most of episodes 6 and 7 catatonic and drooling. In episode 7 it's revealed to likely be because he was fatally stabbed by the Eye. However even this isn't enough to stop him from pulling a Big Damn Heroes late in episode 7 to rescue Syd and Kerry from the Shadow King).
    • At the very end of chapter 7, David's interrogator (Clark), whom we are left to assume died in the explosion at the end of the first episode, returns at the head of a Division 3 tactical team, badly burned all along one side of his body, just in time to throw a wrench into the team's impending happy ending as well as giving Farouk one last opportunity to escape his prison in David's mind.
  • Chest Burster: Ptonomy is killed when the delusion monster that has been growing inside of him bursts out of his back. However, a part of him lives on via Brain Uploading.
  • Cheerful Child: Before David began Hearing Voices, his memories show that his boyhood was a happy one.
  • Chocolate Baby: Ray and Irma Whitecloud were expecting a Native American girl, so when Irma gave birth to a white boy, Ray thought his wife had been unfaithful and left the family. In fact, Cary Loudermilk is a mutant and shares a body with Kerry Loudermilk, who was the expected daughter.
  • Clock Roaches: David's attempt to go back in time and prevent his own possession by the Shadow King draws the attention of time-dwelling monsters that Switch calls "demons" and "blue cats." Among other things, they force Lenny to see her unborn daughter age and die.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: David mentally tortures a person he believes is Amahl Farouk, believing that he's abducted Syd. In his mind, David drills into his kneecaps with a power drill and seems to enjoy it.
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • Syd's outfits are usually orange and/or black.
    • Gabrielle's wardrobe consists mostly of green clothing and accessories (e.g. high heels).
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames:
    • David Haller is referred to as Legion on several occasions, but most of the time, everyone calls him David.
    • Professor X is never addressed by his codename or even his surname Xavier; it's always Charles.
  • Commonality Connection: In "Chapter 22", when Charles and Gabrielle socialize for the first time, they bond over their love for cherry pie and their struggles with their mental health issues.
    Gabrielle: I'm not well, you know.
    Charles: Neither am I.
  • Composite Character: Division 3 appears to be a combination of the Mutant Response Division and Department H from the comics in terms of their goals for mutantkind.
  • Connected All Along: The documentary-like scenes that have been scattered throughout season 2, though very different from one another, all relate back to each other. The whole series of shorts is about how a single insane thought born in one person's head can build into a society spanning catastrophe.
  • Cool Airship: Division 3 moves their operation to a spaceworthy one in Season 3.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: How David could have potentially wound up, as seen in The Multiverse episode.
  • Create Your Own Villain: In trying to prevent David from going down the path to evil, his friends and allies seem to push David down the path to begin with.
  • Creator Cameo: Showrunner Noah Hawley is one of the voices singing "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" at the conclusion of "Chapter 24".
  • Creator Thumbprint: Many of Noah Hawley's signature style elements from Fargo appear in Legion, including extended cold opens that seem tangential to the plot on a first viewing, sadistic villains that achieve their ends by psychologically manipulating emotionally fragile protagonists, Art Shifting, the sudden introduction of a narrator, atypical Previously on… introductions, and a fixation on thought experiments. Legion also incorporates several 1970s classic rock songs in the soundtrack, similar to the second season of Fargo which was set in The '70s.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes:
    • The Eye's piercing gaze is extremely unsettling, and his cloudy eye adds to his sinister demeanor.
    • Aubrey Plaza's large brown eyes are a very distinguishing feature, so when Lenny acquires blue eyes in Season 2, they look strangely wrong. They serve to indicate that her body is not her own.
  • Creepy Doll: In "Chapter 22", when Charles opens Gabrielle's box, he finds a scary-looking doll which is the miniature version of the Shadow King's guise as the World's Angriest Boy in the World from Season 1. Charles is a bit creeped out by the toy's appearance (the eerie, discordant soundtrack reflects his discomfort), and he quickly closes the lid.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Lenny's death by Tele-Frag in the first episode. Made even worse in season 2 when she reveals that she was completely aware of what was happening.
    • Once he tires of David's friends, the Shadow King causes the Eye to spindle and fold in upon himself in a highly gruesome, gory manner. It translates from the Clockworks mindscape to the real world, in something of an inversion of Your Mind Makes It Real— since the real world is currently frozen in time, it takes even longer in reality, finally catching up all at once when normal time snaps back. It's not clear if the Eye remains alive or conscious throughout the experience, and if anything, his unnerving behavior in David's mind makes him even less sympathetic, but it's horrific nonetheless.
    • Amy. Farouk used a device to destroy her and replace her soul with Lenny. If her reaction to the process is anything to go by, it was excruciatingly painful.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: When David is first captured by Division 3, he's entirely at their mercy because he doesn't understand the extent of his powers or how to use them. By the time Division 3 attack Summerland in the first season finale, David now knows what he can do and how to do it. It's not even a question of who'll win, it's how quickly David will take them down.
  • Curse Cut Short: Lenny cuts her own curse short with her own gunshot when she attempts to shoot Syd with a sniper rifle.
    Lenny: Take that motherf-
  • Cyberspace: In addition to the astral plane, the mainframe of Fukyama's mind is presented as another sort of dimension after Ptonomy has his brain uploaded to it.

  • Damsel in Distress: David's sister Amy throughout the first season.
  • Dance-Off: David does this against Oliver and Lenny who are controlled by Farouk to represent a psychic battle.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Chapter 12: Sydney.
    • Chapter 13: Lenny and Oliver.
    • Chapter 14: Amy.
    • Chapter 17: Melanie, Lenny, Cary and Kerry.
    • Chapter 22: Charles and Gabrielle.
  • Deal with the Devil: Syd, and later the entire Summerland staff, agree to ally with Farouk against David to prevent him from becoming an even worse villain.
  • Decomposite Character: In "Chapter 5", the voices in David's head reveal themselves as a parasite, rather than other personalities, which would separate "Legion" into two different characters. However, the second season reveals that, while the parasite is real, David also has multiple personalities.
  • Delinquents: David was once arrested for underage drinking.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The series features a children's book called The World's Angriest Boy in the World.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: David and Syd have a major falling out at the conclusion of Season 2. Despite hitting the Reset Button at the end of the series, the two acknowledge that the events they have changed in the past will lead to an Alternate Timeline where they will never meet.
  • Distressed Dude: In the first episode, David is seized by government agents, and he has to be rescued by Sydney and her team.
  • DIY Dentistry: Whenever Switch is bothered by a loose tooth, she simply yanks it out of her mouth with her fingers.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Literally. David's childhood dog, King, is revealed to have only existed as an illusory form of the parasite, aka The Shadow King.
  • Double Meaning: In "Chapter 22", the first thing Gabrielle says to Charles is that it's a nice day, and he replies, "Beautiful." What he's also conveying is that he thinks she's beautiful.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi: Overlaps with Double Standard Rape: Female on Male. Sydney Barrett reveals that she once took over the body of her mother to have sex with her mother's boyfriend. Sydney isn't treated as a rapist even when the event is shown in season 2.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: David uses his powers to wipe Syd's memory after Farouk manipulated her into believing he was the real villain, then subsequently has sex with her, which is rape. As a teenager, Syd used her own powers to have sex with her mother's boyfriend under false pretenses, which is also rape - and got him unjustly arrested for having sex with a minor after she reverted to her own form during the act. David's crime is used an indication of his descent into complete villainy, while Syd's is used to illustrate how broken and difficult her life is. The show demonstrates that neither David or Syd believe they've done something wrong, with Syd actually framing her incident with her as the victim when she meets her teenage self in season 3 because her mother's boyfriend turned her around during sex ('cause of course that inherently has to be some kind of dominance thing and not just his and her mother's preferred position).
  • Dramatic Drop: By David (in Sydney's body) with an ice pack when he realizes he and Syd swapped bodies in "Chapter 1".
  • Dramatic Wind: In "Chapter 9", during the David vs. Oliver and Lenny psychic battle Dance-Off, a very strong wind blows through in the middle and at the end of their confrontation even though they're inside a nightclub.
  • Dream Intro: "Chapter 26" begins with Charles experiencing a nightmare where he watches himself (dressed in a bull costume) being killed onstage by a matador, and then the Devil with the Yellow Eyes snarls at him, "You should never have come."
  • Driven to Madness: Subverted. It's suggested that David's mental problems resulted from not being properly equipped to handle his powers, with Melanie believing he was misdiagnosed as mentally ill because he was psychic. Then it's revealed that he has a psychic parasite living in his mind, which is suggested to be the source of his problems. Then it's revealed that he is psychic and mentally ill; he simply has a family history of mental illness on his mother's side and didn't get proper treatment as a child.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Shortly after David is expelled from college, he hangs himself, but the suicide attempt isn't successful.
    • The Mi-Go monks were slowly driven to suicide by the evil presence emanating from Farouk's body beneath their monastery.
    • Lenny stabs herself in the throat due to a combination of Mind Rape and What the Hell, Hero?
  • Dumb Struck: Gabrielle is so traumatized from her experience during World War II that she becomes catatonic and has to be institutionalized at a psychiatric hospital.
  • Easily Forgiven: For all that she knew something more than madness was going on with him and still said nothing when everyone treated him like he was insane, David bares his sister no ill will.
    • Farouk spends the first two seasons mind-raping David for 33 years, massacring Division 3 commandos (and their leader), trapping the Summerland mutants in the astral plane to manipulate them, kidnapping Oliver and using him as a host body, killing even more commandos, and murdering David's sister... and is released from captivity when he easily persuades Division 3 that David is an irredeemable monster who must be stopped. Not only is he given a judgement seat at David's surprise trial, but by Season 3 he's a full-fledged team member, working with zero restraint.
  • Emergency Transformation: The Loudermilks can merge and pass their injuries on to each other, effectively healing one another.
  • Emotional Powers: David's telekinesis becomes active when he's extremely agitated.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • In Season 2, the Divisions and the Summerlanders join forces to combat Farouk.
    • Unbeknownst to the former, David has agreed to help the Shadow King because a future incarnation of Syd warned him that they need his help to fight something even worse.
    • And the season 2 finale sets up Farouk working with Division 3 and the Summerlanders to fight David, as he takes his first steps towards becoming Legion.
  • Epic Flail: David manifests one to battle Farouk in the Grand Finale.
  • Episode Tagline: In "Chapter 26", it's "You should never have come."
  • Evil All Along: King, Lenny, and every single one of the people David saw in his head were actually all just the parasite presenting itself to David in forms he could recognize while trying to take control of its hapless host.
  • Evil Feels Good: The thing that most convinces Syd that David will become evil without some intervention is seeing how much he enjoys inflicting pain on Oliver and Farouk.
  • Evil Sounds Deep:
    • David's illusions of Lenny take on a deep, demonic voice when her "true" form as the Devil With the Yellow Eyes starts to manifest.
    • In the middle of the shadow play in "Chapter 26", Farouk's tone unexpectedly becomes lower than his normal speaking voice when he says, "You should never have come" with a sinister facial expression. It's the only moment during the performance where Farouk talks in English, and he's staring directly at Charles (an Englishman); it's a subtle threat to his guest. While Charles is slightly perturbed by the line's delivery, he's unsure if it's just part of the dramatic narration or if his life is genuinely in danger.
  • Extreme Close-Up: In "Chapter 22", the final shot of Charles using Cerebro is a close-up of his eyes, which are shut tightly at first before opening wide due to his sheer terror of experiencing Farouk's mind.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Given the events unfold in the astral plane, with time in the real world slowed to a crawl, "Chapter 6" and most of "Chapter 7" occur over the course of a few milliseconds - more precisely, the time it takes for a bullet to travel across a room.
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • Oliver becomes inhabited by Amahl Farouk at the end of Season 1, and thus becomes one of the primary villains in Season 2. Some part of him is rebelling, however.
    • David starts out as a sympathetic protagonist fighting to regain control of his sanity and free himself from a psychic parasite. Later, he begins a descent into villainy and becomes an anti-villain protagonist, still sympathetic, but in need of stopping.
  • Faint in Shock: In "Chapter 22", Gabrielle is so terrified by a "phantom" that abruptly materializes next to her son's crib that she faints.
  • Fake Shemp: In Season 3, many scenes in David's mind show him as a mob of Davids. Some of these crowds are portrayed by groups of extras dressed like David with their faces obscured.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: In "Chapter 22", a sequence of clips set to "True Love Will Find You in the End" by Daniel Johnston is used to summarize how the romance between Charles and Gabrielle gradually blossoms. They walk around the mental hospital while Holding Hands, he sends her his cute drawings that he knows will make her laugh, they play chess, eat cherry pie together (and they playfully fight over the last piece), he teaches her how to slow dance, and they stargaze at night, which then culminates into their First Kiss.
  • Fighting from the Inside: While conversing on morality in episode 13, Oliver warns Farouk that he is going to kill him, and that his plan is already in motion. An amused Farouk asks for a hint, but whether he's unable to probe Oliver's mind for what he intends, or simply declines to so as not to spoil the game, is unclear.
  • First Kiss:
    • David and Sydney have a disastrous one, since David is unaware of her "Freaky Friday" Flip powers. Unable to control David's abilities, Sydney commits an Accidental Murder while in his body, in the process putting both of them on Division 3's radar.
    • While stargazing on the balcony of the psychiatric hospital, Charles and Gabrielle then gaze at each other for a moment before sharing their first kiss. It's the last clip of their Falling-in-Love Montage, so the kiss signals that they've moved past the courtship stage and are now a couple.
  • Flashback Nightmare: In "Chapter 22", when Charles is asleep, his subconscious replays his harrowing memory from World War II where he had a scuffle with a Nazi soldier that nearly cost him his life.
  • Fog of Doom: In "Chapter 22", a bodiless Shadow King appears as a thick fog of black smoke, and his consciousness travels halfway across world in order to invade and contaminate the mind of David, the infant son of his adversary Charles.
  • Food Porn:
    • As a Shout-Out to Twin Peaks, David has a great love of cherry pie, which we see at the Clockworks cafeteria in loving close-ups.
    • Division 3 has an absolutely spectacular mess hall, complete with huge bowls of ice cream, waffles, and Chinese food all floating past on little rafts in running water.
    • At Farouk's palace, the numerous bowls of Moroccan food that are served at dinner look very appetizing. He's a king, after all, so of course his meals would be sumptuous.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Amy is well-adjusted and has a normal, suburban middle-class life with her husband Ben. Her adoptive brother David is mentally ill and has to be institutionalized at a psychiatric hospital.
  • Forced Sleep: Ptonomy can induce sleep in others, and David is subjected to this after he panics during their first memory work session.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • While storming Division 3 base in Season 2, Shadow King in Oliver's body vaporises all soldiers except two, who he turns into a pig and a fish simply For the Evulz.
    • Farouk turned the king he overthrew into a monkey, and keeps him in a cage in his former palace to further torment him.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Oliver tells Farouk that he's going to kill him, giving him the clue, "What is one plus one?" Farouk answers "Two," but is told that this is wrong. Oliver is referring to Lenny being merged with Amy, becoming a single person. During David and Farouk's battle, she fires a sniper rifle at a tuning fork and tips the battle against Farouk.
    • In "Chapter 22", most of the clips that are shown when Charles detects Farouk with Cerebro are from "Chapter 26", so somehow Charles is able to see glimpses of his future meeting with Farouk.
  • Formerly Fat: Clark remarks that he was a fat kid growing up because he and his mother had a "drinking game, but with ice cream" they would play while watching soap operas.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: This is Sydney's mutant ability, and it's triggered by skin-to-skin contact. The effect is only temporary, and they eventually switch back automatically. Oddly enough, rather than their consciousnesses going back to their own bodies, their bodies somehow go to their consciousness.note 
  • Freaky Is Cool: In "Chapter 22", Charles asks Gabrielle if she thinks his telepathy is weird.
    Gabrielle: Are there others like you?
    Charles: Maybe. I don't know. Do you think it's odd?
    Gabrielle: A little. But I like odd.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Lenny is forcing Amy to remember the day her parents brought David home, Charles Xavier's wheelchair briefly flashes up on the screen.
  • French Jerk: Amahl Farouk speaks English with a French accent and peppers his speech with French, among other languages.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • During the Bollywood-style dance sequence, the patient who is dressed like the shrubbery also sways his head and hands to the music.
    • The PA system at Summerland has a couple of unusual announcements:
      "Reminder: the dining hall is a levitation-free zone."
      "Dr. Vacon's Advanced Time Travel class has been cancelled."
  • Gasp!: In "Chapter 26", Charles audibly gasps and covers his mouth when he's inundated by David's memories.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Charles is an upper-class English gentleman with impeccable manners who's always well-dressed, and he's a scientist who also dabbles in the arts. Although his academic field of study isn't specified onscreen, the fact that he can invent and construct the Cerebro machine on his own indicates that he has an engineering background.
  • Girls with Moustaches: Admiral Fukiyama's Hive Mind is manifested in a group of identical women wearing skintight catsuits, pageboy haircuts and mustaches for no explicable reason.
  • Glass Cannon: David is the most powerful mutant that the government has ever observed, but he's not immune to sedative gas or 100,000 volts of electricity, and he's unable to escape from his captors on his own.
  • Glassy Prison: Farouk's holding cell in Division 3 after his capture.
  • A God Am I:
    • Farouk tells David that the two of them are gods in "Chapter 10".
    • While facing off against a pair of time demons in "Chapter 23", David declares that he is God.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Something apocalyptic happens in the future that is so dire Syd sends an Ominous Message from the Future instructing David to team up with Farouk, because they're going to need his help to prevent it. It turns out David destroys the world, and Future Syd is hoping Farouk will kill him.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In the tragic tale of Albert A., who cuts his own leg off with a saw because he believes it isn't his.
  • Gotta Get Your Head Together: David often does this whenever he feels overwhelmed, whether it's from his inner turmoil or external stress.
  • Groin Attack: Non-painful version. In episode 6, "Lenny" softly and playfully places her foot on David's groin to mess with him, much to his discomfort.
  • Guyliner: Past Farouk wears eyeliner, presumably to reduce the glare of the Moroccan sun.
  • Hallucinations: David has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
  • Happier Home Movie: Clark watches home movies of his husband Daniel after David wipes Daniel's memories during an interrogation.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: In the series premiere, Amy sings "Happy Birthday to You" to David while she visits him at Clockworks.
  • Happy Dance: The Parasite, in its form as Lenny, does one of these near the beginning of "Chapter 6." Why shouldn't it after all? Everyone who even knows it exists is locked in a nightmare made from David's powers and it can spend eternity with them as its playthings.
  • Happy Flashback: Some of David's memories from his early childhood (before the onset of his psychiatric problems) are pleasant and idyllic.
  • Hates Being Touched: Sydney detests her body swap ability, and because it's activated by touch, she has developed a strong aversion to physical contact. The flashbacks to her birth and childhood in Episode 12 reveal that she's always had this aversion, even before her mutant powers manifested.
  • Have You Come to Gloat?: Farouk to David after the former is captured by Division 3.
  • Hearing Voices: David periodically hears voices in his head since he was a child (as shown in a flashback).
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Clark is originally introduced as an opponent of David's who is subjecting him to rather cruel interrogation. Clark eventually reveals that he's a good guy, and his Division 3 joins with the Summerlanders to help David.
    • Discussed by Amahl Farouk, who muses that "the villain" might be "the hero" all along. In the final episode, Farouk reveals that he has become bored with villainy and instead embraces the affection he has built up for David by living inside him for over 30 years. He convinces his younger self to do the same.
  • Held Gaze: In "Chapter 22", Charles and Gabrielle were initially admiring the beauty of the night sky before being distracted by the beauty that's standing right in front of them. They stare deeply into each other's eyes before leaning in for their First Kiss.
  • Hell Is That Noise:
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Clark interrogates Squirrel by threatening to drop him out of a trapdoor on Divison 3's airship while at altitude.
  • High-Class Gloves: In "Chapter 22", after Gabrielle becomes Charles' fiancée, she wears pretty green gloves as she's leaving the hospital and when she's slow-dancing in their new home to add flair to her splendid attire. As the future wife of an affluent Englishman, the gloves reflect her new social status.
  • Hive Mind: Admiral Fukuyama... sort of. He claims to have cybernetics in his brain and speaks through a group of seemingly robotic mustachioed female attendants which Speak in Unison all in the same Computer Voice.
  • Holding Hands: In "Chapter 22", Charles and Gabrielle stroll around the psychiatric hospital hand-in-hand during one of their dates (as patients, their dating options are limited).
  • Homosexual Reproduction: The last season features a pregnant virgin, Salmon, although it's clarified that she's only a virgin with respect to having sex with men. Her pregnancy is said to be the result of a lesbian relationship with Lenny, but an explanation is not offered other than the show's general Mind Screw nature and the implication that David used his Reality Warper powers to help his friends out.
    Salmon: When two women have a baby, it's always a girl.
  • How Dad Met Mom: "Chapter 22" focuses on how David's biological parents met, fell in love, got married and brought him into the world. Thanks to Switch's Time Travel ability, she and David are able to observe Charles and his girlfriend/wife Gabrielle over three decades ago in the past, before David was born and also when he was a baby.
  • How's Your British Accent?: David is played by English actor Dan Stevens (you might recognize him for his previous role on Downton Abbey), but he uses an American accent on the show. Until "Chapter 7", that is, where his rational mind manifests to him as... him, but with a classy English accent! Bonus points for David putting on an exaggerated version of the accent while talking to his rational mind, and saying a line that he imagined his biological father would say, which is something of a call-forward to the reveal that his father is Charles Xavier, an Englishman.
  • Huge Holographic Head: How Cary contacts the team in "Chapter 5" to inform them of David's mental parasite.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: The Eye possesses mutant abilities of his own and uses them to help Division 3 hunt down other mutants.
  • I Can't Hear You: Because "Chapter 22" takes place in the 1950s, the long-distance phone call from Morocco has a weak connection, so Gabrielle and Charles have a lot of trouble understanding what the other is saying through all the loud static and distortion. She's unable to hear her husband's warning about Farouk (the latter is literally haunting her house as a Fog of Doom, so she's unaware that her infant son David is in danger), and she also misses Charles' reassurance that he's on on his way home. Because Gabrielle's psyche is falling apart at the seams, it's essential for her to know that Charles (who's her Living Emotional Crutch) will return soon, so without that info, her despair grows ever closer to the breaking point.
    Gabrielle: Hello?
    Charles: Love? It's me. Are you there?
    Gabrielle: I'm here.
    Charles: I-I found him. His name is Amahl Farouk. He's a telepath. He's-he's nothing like me. I should never have come.
    Gabrielle: Where are you?
    Charles: He has no morals. He's a monster.
    Gabrielle: Who?
    Charles: Some sort of devil. He's a—
    Gabrielle: I can't hear you.
    Charles: Hello? Gabrielle?
    Gabrielle: Can you hear me?
    Charles: Can you...? I don't know if you can hear me, but I'm-I'm coming home now.
    Gabrielle: Charles, come home. You hear me? Come home.
    (Gabrielle erupts into Broken Tears after Charles hangs up the receiver)
  • Icy Blue Eyes: When David's in an especially bad mood, his blue irises take on a very cold sheen, and it's usually a sign that he'll either lash out with his powers, or he's self-destructive (like when he had tried to hang himself).
  • Idle Rich: Charles is sufficiently wealthy that he doesn't need a job, so he has the luxury to pursue his own personal interests. He spends his time building Cerebro in the hope that he can telepathically locate other mutants around the world. When he discovers one living in Morocco, he travels there at a moment's notice and stays there for an extended period of time because there are no constraints on his schedule, plus money isn't an issue.
  • I Hate Past Me: In "Chapter 27", when Farouk talks to his past self, he's disappointed with what he sees.
    Past Farouk: You have become soft in your old age.
    Present Farouk: Was I really this bitter and filled with hate? How petty you seem.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Charles is so desperate to befriend other mutants that when he finds one in Morocco with Cerebro (which he designed and assembled with his own hands in order to search for mutants globally), he travels halfway across the world just to meet a fellow telepath. He even ignores how afraid he was when he first sensed Farouk's mind, which should've been a warning to Charles that Farouk is extremely dangerous. Harry Lloyd clarifies on the loneliness that his character feels:
    Lloyd: He always imagined himself as a freak. This guy has this telepathic ability. And it's raw and I use it for good as much as possible, but I keep a lid on it and it's local. To then find someone else who has exactly the same thing to feel that you're part of a breed. There is some horror or something dark connected to it. But he goes out looking for a friend or a brother. He actually, only then, is honest about quite how alone he's been his whole life. Even now married and with a child. And as soon as he finds a connection on that level, which I think he resigned himself to never having, he has to explore it.
  • Implied Death Threat: In "Chapter 26", Charles is menaced twice with the message "You should never have come" by two of the Shadow King's personas. The first is uttered ominously by the Devil with the Yellow Eyes during a nightmare that Charles has shortly before his plane lands in Morocco. (This is quite insidious because Charles could potentially brush it off as just an awful dream, unaware that the Shadow King can haunt his subconscious.) The second is stated by Farouk while he recites a play, and that line is oddly the only one in English while the rest of the story is in Farsi, so the threat is aimed at the sole Englishman in the room (namely Charles, who can't decide if he's actually in grave peril or if it's merely part of the theatrics).
  • Ingesting Knowledge: David imparts knowledge of the future to his father, Charles, in the form of a slice of cake.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: When David's in an especially good mood, his baby blues reflect his endearing boyishness, and they mainly appear when he's around Sydney or Amy. They're also prominent during his pre-schizophrenic youth.
  • Interface Screw: During the Time Crash in "Chapter 23", it appears as if the viewer's television has switched over to a rerun of The Shield.
  • Internal Homage:
    • Charles and Gabrielle's romance in "Chapter 22" parallels David and Sydney's from "Chapter 1." They're both patients at a mental institution, one sketches the portrait of the other, the first meal they share includes pie, they stroll around the hospital together, they both kiss note , plus the girlfriend stealthily enters the bedroom of the boyfriend at night and they discuss leaving the asylum in his bed.
    • In "Chapter 26", while inside David's psyche, Charles is surrounded by his son's multiple personalities who are all bombarding him with a chorus of "Daddy," which mirrors how David is addressed as "Daddy" by his many cult followers who crowd around him.
  • In the Blood:
    • David inherited a lot of traits from his biological father Charles: they're both incredibly powerful telepaths, they share a Sweet Tooth (which includes a mutual fondness for cherry pie, and in "Chapter 26", David serves his father knowledge in the form of a cake slice knowing that Charles would be tempted to eat it), they both enjoy stargazing, and they're both brown-haired Pretty Boys who are of the exact same height (their actors, Dan Stevens and Harry Lloyd, are 183 cm / 6'0"). Like David, Charles also fell in love with a troubled woman while they were institutionalized at a psychiatric facility. David lampshades this in "Chapter 22."
      David: Wow. This is how they met? My parents. In a mental hospital. I guess it just runs in the family.
    • In "Chapter 26", Gabrielle discloses to Syd that insanity runs in her family, and Syd concludes that Gabrielle's son David got his madness from his mother.
      Gabrielle: My grandmother had the sickness. She was, uh... vrăjitoare. note  Spells, moods, she spoke in tongues. I remember her eyes. Miserable and giddy, like a happy death. My mother was 16 when the sickness hit her. In the witching hour, she woke up laughing. Didn't stop for 14 days.
      Syd: You're talking about mental illness.
      Gabrielle: Such a clinical name for something so raw. Like an animal with its heart on the outside.
      Syd: It's so odd, I never thought of that. It's hereditary, what's wrong with [David]. Why he's like this.
  • Interrogating the Dead: Played With. The last surviving Mi-Go monk who knows the location of Farouk's body dies, but Ptonomy is able to learn the location of Farouk's body from the monk's lingering memory within the Fukyama Hive Mind.
  • Ironic Echo: In "Chapter 26", during the after-dinner entertainment, Farouk had said "You should never have come" as an Implied Death Threat to Charles, so David telepathically repeats the warning to Farouk at breakfast the next morning. In David's case, what he's specifically conveying is that Farouk should never have invaded his mind when he was a baby because adult David intends to kill Farouk for ruining his life.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: David embarks on one into Ptonomy's mind and one into Melanie's mind to free them from the Catalyst when they get infected.
  • Just Here for the Free Snacks: Jokingly invoked by David in "Chapter 26" while pretending to be a old friend of Charles, with David's false persona being more interested in a free breakfast than socializing.
    Charles: And when he heard I was visiting—
    David: What can I say? I love a free meal.
  • Karma Houdini: EVERY SEASON ends with the Shadow King evading justice for his many, many crimes, including the finale.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Kerry's signature weapon.
  • Killed Off for Real: Many characters have their physical bodies killed, but have their consciousnesses salvaged in the astral plane or Cyberspace. However, a handful are genuinely killed off, though they presumably all come back to life after the timeline is rewritten in the Grand Finale.
    • Season 1: Brubaker, Rudy and The Eye.
    • Season 2: Amy.
    • Season 3: Lenny and Clark.
  • Killing in Self-Defense: In "Chapter 22", while being strangled to death by a Nazi soldier, Charles can only save himself by telepathically ordering his assailant to commit suicide. Charles is able breathe again after the Nazi shoots himself in the head with the former's service revolver.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Oliver suggests a trio of Division 3 soldiers run away after he and Lenny (both of them possessed by Farouk) vaporized a hallway of their fellow soldiers in a Curb-Stomp Battle. The soldiers immediately agree it's best not to stand their ground.
  • Lack of Empathy: David ruthlessly exploits Switch's Time Travel ability (which is extremely taxing for her body) to the point where her teeth are falling out, her face is swollen, and by "Chapter 26", she's dying. He has zero regard for her well-being, and he continues to insist that she uses her power to help him even though she desperately needs to rest. Charles disapproves of David treating Switch like a tool instead of a person.
    Charles: Who is she?
    David: She's... no one. She's a means of getting here. Of reaching you.
    Charles: Everyone is someone, David.
  • Laugh of Love: In "Chapter 22", Gabrielle giggles a few times when she and Charles spend time together during their Falling-in-Love Montage.
  • Lecherous Stepparent: Played with: Syd once used her body-switching abilities to impersonate her mother, then tried to have sex with her mother's boyfriend. Unfortunately, she reverted back to her normal form partway through the act, and in order to get out of trouble, she claimed that the boyfriend had raped her.
  • Leitmotif: In "Chapter 22" and "Chapter 26", David is associated with the song "Wot!" by Captain Sensible.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Episode 7; the entire scene with David's rational voice builds into this.
  • Levitating Lotus Position: Both David and Farouk adopt this pose while they're meditating, as their telekinesis allows them to float above the floor.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Following his Face–Heel Turn at the conclusion of Season 2, David wears the same cult outfit for the entirety of Season 3, with the exception of changing into period-accurate clothes after successfully time traveling.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Gabrielle is emotionally fragile, and she's only stable when her husband Charles is present. When he goes on a trip to Morocco on his own, she's left at home with their newborn son. Her mental health starts to deteriorate, and she eventually relapses into a catatonic state.
    Gabrielle: (to Charles) This world makes no sense when you're not in it.
  • Living Lie Detector: In "Chapter 27", Charles reminds David that telepaths can always tell if someone is stating a falsehood.
    David: And what are we supposed to do, take him at his word?
    Charles: We're telepaths, we never have to take anyone at their word.
  • Long Last Look: In "Chapter 22", in lieu of a farewell, Charles quietly glances back at his wife and son with affection and sadness, knowing that he'll miss them during his lengthy trip to Morocco, before he heads towards the taxi that will take him to the airport.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The virus that makes its victims' teeth chatter is revealed to do this. Ptonomy, the psychic with a Photographic Memory, goes to a paradise where he has amnesia, for example.
  • Love Confession: At the end of the series premiere, Syd admits to David that she loves him. He stares at her with a goofy smile for several seconds before she prompts him to return the sentiment.
  • Love Theme:
  • Lured into a Trap: In "Chapter 26", David explains to his father Charles that he has been caught in Farouk's web (the latter likes to compare himself to a spider).
    David: He wanted you to come. You thought you were looking for him, but he was looking for you. [...] Listen to me. Tomorrow he attacks, and you fight Farouk in the astral plane, your power against his, and you think you win. But all that happens is you kick him out of his body and into mine.
    Charles: S-So we leave. Now, we go home. Your mother, she's waiting—
    David: No, he won't let you. It's a trap. You're in a trap.

  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Cary gets a new one every season.
  • Magical Homeless Person: How David could have potentially wound up, as seen in The Multiverse episode.
  • Make Way for the New Villains: The show initially sets up Brubaker and his Division 3 as the main antagonists, with the Devil with the Yellow Eyes as a bigger fish lurking in the background. But in Chapter Five, the Devil takes control of David's body and immediately curb-stomps Brubaker and his goons off-screen, reducing them — save the Eye — to the status of Disc-One Final Boss. When Division 3 returns in the final episode, David non-lethally curb-stomps them in a heartbeat and begins sowing the seeds for peace between human and mutant.
  • Manchild: David's schizophrenia is debilitating, so he's dysfunctional as an adult. He exhibits certain childlike behaviors, such as sleeping while his rocket ship lamp (which he had since he was a baby) is on, and its constellation-shaped lights seem to comfort him. In the scene where he's eagerly devouring waffles at his sister's house, Amy and Ben watch him warily as if they were parents who are concerned about how they should treat their emotionally volatile kid. In the series finale, Past Farouk ridicules David for his immaturity.
    Past Farouk: David. The victim. A boy pretending to be a man. Always blaming others. Boo-hoo.
  • Man Hug: In "Chapter 27", Charles gives a heartfelt hug to his son David as a gesture of love and comfort. The latter is so overwhelmed emotionally by the embrace that he cries on his father's shoulder.
  • Man, I Feel Like a Woman: David and Syd swap bodies when her power activates after he kisses her. When the initial disorientation wears off, David takes a moment to feel himself up in front of a mirror while he's trying to figure out what the hell just happened. Lenny's personality mocks him for it later after their bodies switch back. To be fair, Syd also implies that she took advantage of his body in much the same way.
  • Manly Tears:
    • In "Chapter 22", Charles sobs when he's unable to awaken Gabrielle from her catatonic state with his Psychic Powers.
    • In "Chapter 27", tears stream down David's face after Charles tells him, "So, please, my darling boy, let me be your father."
  • Man of Wealth and Taste:
    • Amahl Farouk manifests as a man of Middle Eastern ancestry with a French accent who speaks multiple languages, wears stylish old suits from the '60s, perpetually wears sunglasses and daintily sips on coffee or cocktails.
    • Oliver, when inhabited by Amahl Farouk, maintains his high-brow personality.
  • Martial Pacifist: Charles is trained in combat because he was an officer in the British army during World War II, but he's first and foremost a man of peace, so if possible, he'll seek a diplomatic solution. For him, violence should only be used as a last resort.
  • Match Cut: A music box lid closing to an extreme Dutch Angle of elevator doors opening in "Chapter 10".
  • Meaningful Look: In "Chapter 27", before finalizing the truce with Past Farouk, David glances at Charles for reassurance that he's doing the right thing by making peace with their mutual enemy, and his father nods in approval.
  • Meaningful Name: David's childhood dog is named King. We later find out that he never had a dog, and "King" was actually Amahl Farouk, a.k.a. the Shadow King.
  • Me's a Crowd: In David's mind, his various personalities are portrayed walking around as separate versions of himself. He even mobs Farouk with his many selves during a psychic battle.
  • Messy Hair:
    • David as seen in this production still. It's a visual cue that he has mental health issues.
    • Lenny's hair is also unkempt for the same reason.
  • Military Salute: In "Chapter 22", although they're no longer active servicemen, the patients at the mental institution who are ex-soldiers perform the British military salute when Charles (a former British army officer) departs from the sanatorium.
  • Mind Control: In "Chapter 22", Charles employs his Psychic Powers to "convince" everyone at the psychiatric hospital that he and Gabrielle are cured of their mental disorders, so naturally the couple's departure from the facility is hassle-free.
  • Mind over Manners: In "Chapter 22", Charles explains to Gabrielle that he doesn't dig too deeply when he reads other people's minds because he wishes to respect their privacy. However, he does skim their surface thoughts without permission.
    Charles: I can hear thoughts. Memories. But it occurred to me that there should be rules. People deserve their privacy. So I don't pry when I'm in there.
  • Mind over Matter:
    • David's psychic powers mainly manifest as telekinesis. He is so powerful that while Sydney is in his body, she accidentally removes all of the doors in a building as if they never existed.
    • Rudy, the telekinetic who helps David escape in the pilot, has this as his mutation and is quite powerful, being able to casually fling cars, rocks, and humans around without straining himself.
  • Mind Rape: Done by David to Oliver (who he believes is possessed by Farouk) in "Chapter 18". We actually see the form it is taking: on the astral plane, he's doing Cold-Blooded Torture with a power drill.
  • Mind Screw: The show is told from David's point of view, and as such has a surreal approach to story.
  • Mind Screwdriver: "Chapter 7" clarifies several vital questions before the Season 1 finale, with David's rational mind spelling out the nature of the Parasite for him, along with its role in ruining his life. This is done in an actual university lecture hall in animated drawings of stick figures drawn by David himself, while his rational brain — David again, but with Dan Stevens' natural British accent — leads him by the hand, catching up the non-comic book readers in the audience with a brief explanation of what fans of the comics had already guessed. Earlier in the episode, Syd also rattles out a bullet-points synopsis of the story thus far, cutting off Cary just as he's about to do the same for her.
    Syd: [smirking] I've been paying attention.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The series starts with a montage of David's childhood.
  • Misery Poker: In "Chapter 27", Gabrielle is still recovering emotionally after numerous Time Eaters attempted to murder her infant son David, and she even questions her sanity, but her husband Charles asserts that he had witnessed and endured far more craziness than she did. After hearing his recollection of events, Gabrielle doesn't argue.
    Gabrielle: I saw demons.
    Charles: Yes, you did. I saw a monkey with a king in his head. I saw our son as an adult, but so angry. And together we fought a mad tyrant. So... demons, hmm. Sounds like you got off rather lightly.
  • Monochrome Past: When Charles experiences a PTSD episode where he relives his memory of nearly being killed by a Nazi soldier while he was in the British army during World War II, the whole scene is in black-and-white.
  • Mood Dissonance: The show does this all the time to bizarre and often disturbing effect, like a psychic duel between powerful telepathic mutants depicted through a dance battle —- that's still somehow extremely tense and ominous in context. Or the scene where the protagonist sings and plays "The Rainbow Connection" for his girlfriend on the banjo while they're in a beautiful, softly lit pure-white bedroom. What should be romantic and sweet instead becomes incredibly chilling to watch, because David is visibly terrified — so badly that he can barely sing — and is trying desperately to warn his girl about the horrifying demonic entity that's trapped in there with them, but can't.
  • Mr. Exposition: Oliver and David's rational mind both serve this function in "Chapter 7".
  • Mr. Fanservice: David exposes a lot of skin during his sex scenes with Syd on the astral plane, including brief shots of male back nudity. He's required to be totally naked when he's floating inside Cary's amplification chamber, so later when David teleports away to a Division 3 hallway, Syd finds him au naturel and dripping wet.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Like David, Professor X in the movie-verse also thought he was going crazy when his mutant ability first manifested because of the voices in his head, as revealed in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Charles' 1973 self also had Messy Hair to denote that he was psychologically unstable, and they've both engaged in substance abuse. Their live-action adaptations are given sister figures (Amy for David and Mystique for Xavier) even though they didn't grow up with a sister in the original source. In an early scene from the pilot episode, David is pushed in a wheelchair.
    • Lenny is fused into a wall, much like a Cairo vendor in X-Men: Apocalypse.
    • The most dazzling display of a mutant power in the series premiere takes place in a kitchen with various utensils, food items and water droplets floating in the air, similar to X-Men: Days of Future Past.
    • David's inability to be physically close to Sydney mirrors Iceman's struggles with his girlfriend Rogue in X2: X-Men United.
    • The scene where David as a boy is stargazing with his adoptive father serves as an allusion to Cerebro, with the night sky resembling a dome shape, and the stars that talk to David bringing to mind the lights which represent other minds.
    • David's (in)famous towering hairdo from the comics is referenced a number of times:
      • The official Season 1 poster, with rainbow energy streaming straight up from David's head, references the common image from the comics of psychic energy emanating from David's tower of hair.
      • During a hallucination, Lenny runs her hands through David's hair, spiking it upwards.
      • A vision of a possible future in Episode 2.10 shows David in full villain mode, with his hair sticking straight up.
    • When Carey and Kerry speculate on the origin of the orb that captured David at the end of season 1, Carey muses about it not being Shi'ar technology.
    • Instead of going for a more comic book-accurate Charles Xavier (who's unsympathetic, bald, paraplegic, and American as apple pie — the latter would be the natural choice considering that his son David is an American on the show), the showrunners decided to repeat the convention established by the X-Men Film Series that the character is a Nice Guy who has British ancestry and talks with a British accent, plus his younger self is a brown-haired Pretty Boy who isn't wheelchair-bound.
    • During their Falling-in-Love Montage, Charles and Gabrielle are briefly shown playing chess, which is a nod to the chess games that Professor X and Magneto shared in the X-Men Film Series.
  • Mythpunk: Chapters 16-19 revive the myth of the The Labyrinth from Greek Mythology, even featuring a Minotaur with a skull for a head and on crutches and in a wheelchair.
  • Neurodiversity Is Supernatural: Played with. David has believed for his entire life that he was schizophrenic. He was finally admitted to a psych hospital after he trashed his girlfriend's kitchen. A few years later, there was another incident at the hospital, where several people died. This brought him to the attention of the Division, who realized that he is a powerful psychic and try to control him. A group of mutants rescue him and begin helping him untangle the damage the well-meaning doctors did. While doing so, they discover that while he is even more powerful than they thought, he's also schizophrenic, with disturbing visions, extremely distorted memories, and serious emotional issues, all of which make controlling his powers a challenging prospect at best. And then it turns out that the "visions" are of a very real psychic parasite which has edited his memories to remove any sign of itself. And then it manages to take control of his body and his powers...
    Ptonomy: He's schizophrenic.
    Melanie: I'm afraid it's much worse than that.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The promo for the season one finale shows David smugly asking "Isn't that the history of the world?" after Clark says that one day mutants will realize they don't have to listen to humans anymore and rise up. It comes across like an implied threat in the promo, but in the actual episode, David follows it up by specifying that the "history of the world" is really about different people learning to live together.
  • Nice Guy: Charles is kind-hearted, polite and soft-spoken. It's his compassion which coaxes Gabrielle out of her catatonic state, and it's his tenderness which leads her to fall in love with him.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: All of Syd and Summerland's attempts to prevent David from turning into a villain (threatening to kill him, imprisoning him for forced treatment, etc.) just anger and alienate him from them, possibly pushing him on the path to evil in the first place.
  • Nightmare of Normality: During the apparent final confrontation with the Devil With The Yellow Eyes in "Chapter 5", David and his allies are plunged into a mental recreation of the asylum from the beginning of the series and convinced that they are mundane, powerless human beings. Completely assimilated by the illusion, they remember nothing of their real-life experiences and regard any idea of their powers as facets of mental illness; amusingly enough, David actually seems quite content with his new life, believing himself to be well on the way to recovery.
  • Nightmare Sequence: In "Chapter 26", while asleep on the plane ride to Morocco, Charles has a nightmare where he's watching a play where a matador kills a bull. When the matador removes the mask of the dead actor in the bull costume, it's revealed to be Charles who's lying in pools of his own blood onstage. The grotesque Devil with the Yellow Eyes suddenly appears next to him and growls, "You should never have come." Charles then abruptly wakes up out of fright.
  • No Infantile Amnesia: Ptonomy can recall his birth and what it was like in his mother's womb.
  • Non-Standard Kiss: In the Grand Finale, as The Fellowship Has Ended, Syd gives Kerry a kiss goodbye by kissing her own gloved hand and then pressing it into Kerry's hand.
  • Not Me This Time: Farouk is a monster and that's not in question, but he's not responsible for the teeth-chattering plague.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Devil With Yellow Eyes never does anything except for hiding in the background and slowly walking towards the protagonists. This does not stop it from being completely horrifying.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: The Shadow King tries again and again to make David see that they are in fact very similar: both are extremely powerful telepaths with a god complex who enjoy hurting and killing others and manipulate the people they love. When Farouk calls David out on how David manipulated Syd into loving him, just as Farouk manipulated David, David expresses disgust, only for Farouk to respond that Syd will soon feel the same about David.
  • Not-So-Small Role: Aubrey Plaza as Lenny, who dies in the first episode, but keeps showing up as a form taken by the Big Bad of the series, The Shadow King.
  • Not Wearing Tights: Most of the Summerland mutants wear nondescript street clothes, although Ptonomy is quite dapper. Oliver Anthony Bird favors bright leisure suits. Main antagonist Amahl Farouk wears slightly anachronistic rich guy suits.
  • Nurture over Nature: The Central Theme of Season 3. Syd is raised by the affectionate Oliver and Melanie during her second childhood on the astral plane, which makes her a more compassionate person willing to spare the baby David rather than killing him in his infancy when they had the chance. David is considered "too far gone" by some characters, but everyone believes he can become a better person in an Alternate Timeline where he is raised by his biological parents and avoids the Shadow King inhabiting his mind. Even Farouk is able to talk his younger self off of the villainous path by showing him the lessons he has learned after a lifetime of living in David's head.
  • Official Couple: David and Sydney's romance is the most prominent of the show. However, their relationship falls apart by the end of Season 2.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In "Chapter 11", Charles and Farouk's psychic battle is shown in a Flashback... but not on the astral plane. All the audience sees is Farouk sitting in a chair with the whiteboard exposition scene from "Chapter 7" reflected in his glasses, before he collapses onto the table, defeated.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • This is Dr. Kissinger's and David's (who's stuck in Syd's body) reaction whey they notice the doors are missing from the patients' rooms. They are especially horrified when they realize that Lenny has been merged into a wall.
    • David and Syd share one in Chapter 3, when they realize The Eye can see them even when spying on the Division from the Astral Plane.
    • Melanie and Ptonomy have their turn when they realize The Eye is leading the hunt for David.
    • Farouk has this reaction when he tries and fails to read David's mind multiple times in "Chapter 26", realizing that Charles has turned the tables on him and he is now the one who has been Lured into a Trap.
  • Ominous Clouds: As David finally confronts Amahl Farouk for a psychic battle in the desert, the self-proclaimed Shadow King is followed by a spreading mass of inky black clouds that eventually block out the sun.
  • Ominous Message from the Future: David receives one from Syd in "Chapter 9" instructing him to pull an Enemy Mine with Farouk.
  • Omniglot: Amahl Farouk peppers his speech with a wide variety of languages, although French seems to be his favorite (he's Moroccan, after all, and Morocco was once a French colony). It's implied that, over his long life, he's learned quite a lot of languages. The actor Navid Negahban is himself fluent in four languages, though ironically he only began learning French for the role.
  • The Oner: Although not a true example, the escape sequence that ends the first episode is edited to look like one of these.
  • Only Friend: Before Sydney's arrival at Clockworks, Lenny is this to David.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Eye, so named for his cloudy eye, is billed by this name, though he's also once referred to as Walter.
  • One-Man Army: Several characters.
    • Division 3 fears that David's powers will make him one of these, and they're right, as shown in Episode 5 when he wipes them out off-screen. Although this may be only when the Shadow King is in the driver's seat.
    • Kerry beats the shit out of squads of Division 3 soldiers on multiple occasions with little to no effort on her part.
    • Summerland's telekinetic, Rudy, is shown smashing entire squadrons of Division 3 guys to bits with little more than a flick of his wrist (and creative application of giant boulders.) This is most likely why the Eye disposes of him first before attempting to kill the others.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: Not only does the series take advantage of Ambiguous Time Period, but it's left ambiguous whether or not the events are even happening at all. Hawley himself has hinted the entire series could very well be taking place inside David's head.
  • Our Minotaurs Are Different: Melanie's subconscious maze is haunted by a skull-headed minotaur that relies on a rickety wheelchair to get around. In "Chapter 18", Farouk manifests the creature in the real world (maybe) and restores its withered body to that of a more traditional minotaur.
  • Out of Focus: In Season 3, Oliver and Melanie only appear in a single A Day in the Limelight episode and Ptonomy barely appears at all. All three fail to appear in the Grand Finale.
  • Pacifism Is Cowardice: In "Chapter 27", Past Farouk is appalled that his future self wants peace instead of war, and accuses the latter of being weak.
    Past Farouk: Wahnsinn. note  You have become soft in your old age.
  • Past Experience Nightmare: Charles seems to be calm and collected on the surface (which befits his high-class English background), but as a World War II veteran, he's haunted in his sleep by a traumatic memory where he almost died at the hands of a Nazi soldier.
  • Pensieve Flashback: Part of Ptonomy's mutant power allows him to help others see their past from a different POV. Needless to say when he helps David do this things get weird.
  • Photographic Memory: Ptonomy claims that he remembers everything.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: Near the end of "Chapter 22", Charles cradles his wife Gabrielle across his lap after she falls unconscious.
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: In the series finale, Charles reassures his son David that he does love him even though David in this timeline was given up for adoption. Now that an Alternate Timeline is being created, Charles vows that he'll raise David and be the father that he should've been.
    Charles: David. I wasn't there for you. You needed me, your mother, and we gave you away. I can't imagine doing it, but I adore you, David, and that will never change. I could only have done it to protect you.
    David: I was a baby.
    Charles: I'll never know what that's like, the pain of it, to be abandoned. But I am here now, and I want to make it right. So, please, my darling boy, let me be your father.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Lenny starts out like this, but gets killed in the first episode. Her appearances thereafter are often humorous, but also quite darker.
  • P.O.V. Cam: In "Chapter 22", there are a few shots of baby David seeing his parents from his point-of-view while lying in his crib.
  • Power Incontinence:
    • David has a lot of trouble controlling his mutant ability. For instance, in the pilot episode, when he experiences a nightmare, he unconsciously causes the entire bed to levitate before it crashes back down and breaks into pieces.
    • Sydney is incapable of controlling her power, which causes her to switch bodies with whomever she touches, however briefly.
  • The Power of Love:
    • In the series finale, Present Farouk pulls a Heel–Face Turn because of his affection for David, and he tells Charles that he's now a changed man.
      Farouk: I've lived in your son's mind for 32 years. I saw what he saw, I felt what he felt, I thought what he thought. And over time, what was once a prison became a person.
      Charles: It's hard to hate someone you understand.
      Farouk: I love the boy, Charles. I consider him, uh, my...
      Charles: Son?
      Farouk: Would that I could be as strong a father as you are. But alas, it's not in my nature. May I be honest with you?
      Charles: Please.
      Farouk: The man you met, the man I was, he brought you here with base intentions. To dominate, to punish. Not because he was strong, because he was weak. I was weak. Now I'm older and weary of this churn. We call it Zwietracht. note  I did not come here to defeat David, but to aid him in his quest. What I'm trying to say is I have changed.
      Charles: Well, then I have a proposition for you.
    • David is dead set on carrying out his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Farouk, so the only person who can persuade him to stop is his father Charles. David's bloodlust fades after Charles delivers an earnest Platonic Declaration of Love and pledges that he'll take care of his son in the Alternate Timeline. After sharing a tender father-son hug and a good cry, David is now willing to accept the truce that Charles has arranged with Present Farouk.
  • Power Perversion Potential:
    • David admits to Syd that he felt her up while inhabiting her body (mainly out of shock and confusion). She says it's not a big deal, and suggests that she masturbated while in his body. He's shocked, but then she admits she was joking.
    • Sydney used her power to switch places with her mother and have sex with her mother's boyfriend.
  • Precious Photo: In "Chapter 26", Charles keeps a photograph of his wife and son in his suit jacket during his sojourn in Morocco. He glances at the picture and lightly rubs his thumb on it, which imparts to viewers that he misses his family while he's far away from home.
  • Precision F-Strike: Reserved for Oliver Battle Rapping with Wolf.
  • Precrime Arrest: Division 3 attempts to institutionalize David in the Season 2 finale when they learn of Future Syd's warnings that he will destroy the world.
  • Pretty Boy:
    • David's physical attractiveness is imbued with a boyish quality which includes Innocent Blue Eyes, which serves as a visual shorthand that he's an immature Manchild. Syd thinks he's cute, and Lenny describes him as "Such a pretty boy." When speaking to the rational side of his mind, David tells him, "I am pretty." Although he becomes a supervillain in the Season 2 finale, a residual cuteness in his visage in Season 3 reminds the audience that on an emotional level, he's a lost, little boy with severe abandonment issues who just wants to be loved and Desperately Craves Affection, especially from his biological parents.
    • Charles has elegant facial features, gentle green eyes, a gracefully long neck and a slim build. His good looks, along with his empathy and kindness, accentuate his image as a romantic figure when he courts Gabrielle, his Love Interest who later becomes his wife. Because they do get married on the show (unlike in the comics), the showrunners wanted to avoid the Ugly Guy, Hot Wife trope by applying Adaptational Attractiveness to Charles in order to present him as one half of a very beautiful couple. note  For viewers who don't read comic books, Charles' prettiness helps them to identify the character as David's biological father when he first appears in Season 3, and it further reinforces the Like Father, Like Son connection.
  • Previously on…:
  • Product Placement: David and Lenny both like strawberry Twizzlers and eat them in a few scenes.
  • Progressively Prettier: Although this show takes place in an Alternate Universe which is separate from the X-Men Film Series, the showrunners nonetheless continue the trend that began with X-Men: First Class of prettying up the young Charles Xavier in comparison to the original comic book depiction, who's bald and average-looking at best. The TV character has a head full of hair and is played by Pretty Boy actor Harry Lloyd.
  • Prolonged Prologue: Chapter 12 (Episode 4 of Season 2) takes it to the extreme. The opening titles are delayed until about 30 seconds before the episode ends.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Season 2 is this for David. What's worse, it's because of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
  • Protagonist Title: The series is named after the codename of its protagonist, Legion.
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Charles doesn't need to perform this gesture when he activates his telepathy (as shown in the scenes at the mental hospital), but it helps him to concentrate when he has to probe another mind more deeply than just scanning their surface thoughts. Harry Lloyd confirms this.
    Lloyd: There's been a little bit of rubbing at the temples, which I feel he just does when he's turning it up to like 11. If I close my eyes, it's at level two, but if I touch my temples, it's an 11. That's when he's really focused.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: When Charles is being choked to death by a Nazi soldier, he implants the telepathic command "Kill yourself" into his attacker's mind as a form of self-defense. The Nazi then lets go of Charles' neck, picks up the latter's service pistol and blows his brains out.
  • Psychic Powers: A number of characters have psychic abilities, most notably David.
  • Psychic Radar: In "Chapter 22", Charles constructs Cerebro in his basement, which vastly enhances his telepathic range so that he can detect any mutant on the planet. After he turns on the device, the first mutant he psychically perceives is Farouk, who resides in Morocco.
  • Psychic Static: In "Chapter 26", Farouk tries to read David's mind several times, but the latter can shield his thoughts, so the only thing that Farouk can telepathically hear is the song "Wot!" by Captain Sensible, which David plays inside his own head in order to rattle Farouk.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Lenny, in the hospital fantasy.
  • Psychological Horror/Thriller: Basically Marvel Television's take on both genres.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: Farouk's Evil Plan in Season 1 is to puppeteer David in perpetuity, and failing that he puppeteers Oliver on a quest to reunite his consciousness with his physical body in Season 2.
  • Quaking with Fear: In "Chapter 22", while operating Cerebro, Charles trembles with fright after he makes contact with Farouk's mind.
  • Quizzical Tilt: In "Chapter 26", a baffled Charles tips his head to the side because he can sense that there's something very wrong with the caged monkey, but Farouk greets him before he can investigate further.

  • Rapid Aging: Happens to Kerry in the Grand Finale as a consequence of battling time demons.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": In "Chapter 22", after Switch collapses from exhaustion and drifts into a deep slumber, David desperately utters "No" a total of 21 times (plus one "Wait") within five seconds as he tries (and fails) to wake her up.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Episode 3; the head of Division 3 forces Amy to admit she knew there was more to David than schizophrenia and did nothing when they treated him like he was insane.
    "He's a god, and you let them turn him into a fool!"
  • Red Is Violent:
    • The arrival of The Devil with the Yellow Eyes is usually heralded by the room flooding with red light.
    • In "Chapter 27", when David is choking Past Farouk to death, the former is illuminated by red light.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • In "Chapter 26", David is short-tempered and is determined to kill Farouk, whereas Charles is even-tempered and wants to try diplomacy first.
      David: We need to focus. Killing Farouk. A plan.
      Charles: David, why are you here?
      David: I showed you. He ruins me.
      Charles: Well, maybe we can talk to him. Explain.
    • In "Chapter 27", Charles once again is about to suggest a non-violent course of action, but he's barely able to start his sentence ("David, perhaps—") before David teleports behind Past Farouk and hits the latter's head with a telepathic mace.
  • Red Shirts: The halls of Summerland always seem to feature a few security personnel standing around in SWAT uniforms and never contributing anything.
  • Reset Button: The series ends with one. The cast goes back in time to prevent David from being abandoned by his parents, creating a new, better timeline.
  • Reunion Kiss: In the series finale, after Charles returns home from Morocco, he makes amends to his wife Gabrielle (who suffered a lot during his absence because he's her Living Emotional Crutch) by promising her that he will no longer go on long trips and that he will take on a more active role in raising their son David. It's only after she's satisfied that her husband won't neglect her and their child again that Gabrielle invites Charles to kiss her, which he happily does, and it's obvious from their embrace that they miss each other dearly.
  • The Reveal:
    • In Season One: David's insanity is the result of a psychic parasite that has been with him his whole life.
    • In Season Two: David's insanity wasn't just the result of the parasite. He has actual mental disorders.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: David attacks Divison 3's airship to retrieve Switch, in the process erasing Daniel and Syd's memories, killing Clark by throwing him out of the airlock, and trapping Farouk in the Place Beyond Time.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • David's attack on Division 3, after everything they'd done to him and Amy. It's part of the reason he gave control over to The Devil with the Yellow Eyes.
    • David swears to do this to Farouk after he realizes Farouk killed Amy. His No-Holds-Barred Beatdown gets interrupted by Syd before he can finish the job, however.
  • Rule of Sexy: After Harry Lloyd was given the part of Charles Xavier without having to go through the audition process, the actor was informed by Noah Hawley that he would get to keep his hair instead of aiming for the iconic bald look of the comic book character. Just like with James McAvoy in the X-Men Film Series (who was also instructed to not shave his head), the bigwigs at the network wanted the younger Professor X to be attractive, and Lloyd's casting was obviously inspired by how McAvoy's role was originally depicted.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • The character Harold in the children's book Harold and the Purple Crayon that Gabrielle reads to her infant son David is emblematic of the type of person that David becomes when he's older. At its core, the story is about a boy who loses touch with reality because he's preoccupied with the imaginary world that he creates with his purple crayon. Harold is totally lost within his own mind, just like the mentally ill David is.
    • Harold symbolizes Charles as well, whose actor is Harry Lloyd (Harry is the diminutive of Harold). Gabrielle's narration "Harold was over his head" is heard when Charles puts on the Cerebro helmet for the first time, and it foreshadows that Charles is in over his head when he finds Farouk. In the book, Harold "made a very small forest, with just one tree in it," and Charles creates the exact same thing in the astral plane when Farouk introduces him to it.
  • Say My Name: In the first episode, Sydney is trapped inside of David's body and trapped inside of his room at the Clockworks hospital, so she repeatedly yells out "DAVID!!!", hoping that he can somehow help her.
  • Scenery Porn: The forest and the body of water surrounding Summerland are beautiful, and David himself lampshades this in the second episode.
  • Schrödinger's Canon: Whether or not this takes place in either the X-Men film continuity or the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or neither. Or both), or even whether it's taking place at all remains to be seen, and is purposely kept ambiguous.
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: In "Chapter 26", David tells Charles to use his telepathy in order to determine his identity. While probing a memory in the stranger's mind, Charles then sees himself and his wife Gabrielle standing over David's crib from David's perspective, who was a baby at the time. Charles immediately realizes that the man before him is his son.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: David's entire goal during Season 3. He ultimately succeeds.
  • Setting Update: Zigzagged. The Legion was created in the late '80s and reached his peak popularity in the mid-90s, yet the series takes place in an Ambiguous Time Period, at times feeling more like a Silver Age story.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man:
    • Farouk is a Man of Wealth and Taste, so he's frequently garbed in classy, old-fashioned suits to display his sophistication.
    • Charles is Mr. Fancy-Pants because he follows the fashion trends of upper-class Englishmen in the 1950s, so he's often dressed in chic suits from the era that highlight his elegant frame, and he appears quite dashing in them. To elevate his aura of refinement, he has a different-coloured trilby (a hat that was popular among rich British men) for every suit that he owns. He dons a black trilby when he exits the mental hospital, a grey one when he travels to Morocco, and a beige one when he reconciles with Gabrielle.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Both Syd and David are this, proud survivors of every trial and trauma life could possibly throw at them. Syd's fantasy confirms this, as this is what makes them strong enough to do what needs doing to protect the world and each other.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The psychiatric hospital is called Clockworks, which is a nod to A Clockwork Orange.
    • A scene in "Chapter 14" is an almost shot-for-shot remake of the scene in A Clockwork Orange where Alex and his droogs abuse a homeless man, only this time with David as the homeless man.
    • The blond woman David meets at Clockworks is named Sydney Barrett, a reference to Syd Barrett, a founding member of Pink Floyd who is widely believed to have been schizophrenic.
    • David, Charles and Gabrielle love cherry pie, referencing Agent Dale Cooper from fellow surreal drama Twin Peaks.
    • Kerry mentions having a dream that reminded her of "that old movie, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."
    • In "Chapter 11", the Monk lays David out on a large black "6" on a white circle background, the exact font and shape of Number Six's badge from The Prisoner.
    • In "Chapter 27", David pulls out a fish from his ear, which is an allusion to the Babel Fish in the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • Single-Power Superheroes: Charles has Telepathy and nothing more, unlike the Superpower Lottery winners Farouk and David. However, in the astral plane, Charles is stronger than either them because he triumphs over the Shadow King in a psychic duel, and David is unable to stop Charles from "pulling" him into a Blank White Void, away from Past Farouk (whom David was on the verge of murdering) despite activating his power (as demonstrated by David's glowing fingers). Even though Charles is a novice to the astral plane, neither Farouk nor David can gain the upper-hand on him in a Mental World irrespective of their Combo Platter Powers, which is a testament to how supremely talented Charles is as a telepath.
  • Single Tear: In "Chapter 24", a single tear falls from David's eye after Lenny commits suicide.
  • Sins of Our Fathers: In the series finale, Charles acknowledges to his son David that his war with Farouk is what ruined David's life since he was a baby. Farouk wanted revenge on Charles after the latter defeated him in a psychic battle, so Farouk possessed and corrupted the mind of his enemy's infant son.
    Charles: (to David) You're trapped in a war that you didn't start. This is my fault. I did this. You never had a chance because of me.
  • Skilled, but Naive: Charles is much younger and inexperienced compared to Farouk, and the former is even a newbie to the astral plane when the latter introduces him to it. Charles is a Wide-Eyed Idealist who's far too trusting, so Farouk is able to manipulate him at first. Yet Charles is such a gifted telepath that when they brawl in a psychic battlefield, Charles trounces Farouk quite handily, tearing the Shadow King's consciousness away from his body.
  • Skull for a Head: The minotaur of the maze.
  • Smart People Speak the Queen's English:
    • David's rational mind speaks with a posh English accent, which confuses David because he's an American. His rational mind's reply is essentially, "Of course I'm British, I'm the brains of this operation."
      David's Rational Mind: I'm you, your rational mind.
      David: And you're British?
      David's Rational Mind: Like I said, I'm your rational mind.
    • Charles has an upper-class English accent; Farouk recognizes him as a scientist, and there's a scene where Charles is building Cerebro from scratch in his basement.
  • Sole Survivor: Gabrielle is the sole surviving member of her family; all of her relatives were exterminated by the Nazis.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: In "Chapter 27", when Gabrielle asks her husband, "Are you gonna kiss me?", Charles (an upper-crust Englishman) enthusiastically answers, "Abso-bloody-lutely." "Bloody" is a British expletive, and it's the only time in the entire series where Charles — who's otherwise a courteous gentleman — swears, so it fits the "Slang delivered innocuously in a formal speech, especially from someone upper-class" example.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "WOT!" by Captain Sensible plays during an otherwise tense Haunted House segment as two ethereal entities invade David's mother's home in "Chapter 22".
  • Space Is Cold: Clark freezes instantly when he's ejected from the Division 3 airship into the vacuum of space.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Played With. When Syd uses her power to do a "Freaky Friday" Flip with David, the Legion personalities in his mind are able to wrestle control of his body back from her before the flip has reverted.
  • Spontaneous Generation: According to Farouk's chauffeur, the Shadow King emerged from the mud of Morocco instead of being born by human parents.
    Chauffeur: He is a remarkable being. It's said he had no parents, that the country itself birthed him from the mud.
  • Stalker with a Crush: How the Shadow King acts in the guise of Lenny, presumably to confuse and freak David out.
  • Stalker Without A Crush:
    • The Shadow King to David, helped by the fact that he lives in David's mind.
    • In "Chapter 26", when Charles arrives in Morocco, he's rather apprehensive about how much Farouk knows about him even though they're total strangers. Farouk's chauffeur greets Charles (who "wasn't expecting a welcome") at the Moroccan landing strip with a hand-painted portrait of the latter in his military uniform, so that means Farouk is aware that Charles is a former World War II British army officer. The chauffeur then adds "And my king is most excited to meet you," to which a puzzled Charles asks "He knew I was coming?", and the driver replies "It's all he's been talking about." Farouk obviously found out that Charles was heading to Morocco despite the fact that he wasn't notified of it, and he then checked which flight Charles was on. The Shadow King's obsession with his guest becomes even more evident when they meet face-to-face because the former identifies the latter as an artist ("The ease of your lines betrays an intense discipline," so Farouk is familiar with Charles' artistic style), scientist, soldier and father. The last comment makes Charles especially uneasy and he inquires "You know my family?", and Farouk answers "Little David? Beautiful Gabrielle? How could I not? Your every particle practically sings about them." Before Charles can say anything further, Farouk distracts him with an invitation to dinner. As David would later point out, Farouk has lured Charles into a trap.
  • Stargazing Scene: In "Chapter 22", the final clip of Charles and Gabrielle's Falling-in-Love Montage is of them looking up at the night sky, which is a very romantic setting for the couple's First Kiss.
  • The Stinger: After the credits in the season 1 finale is a scene wherein David is abducted by a small metal sphere and carried off.
  • Strong Girl, Smart Guy: Kerry (the girl) has superhuman fighting abilities, while Cary (the guy) is a genius inventor.
  • Suddenly Speaking: Habiba is silent throughout "Chapter 26" until near the end where she asks Charles a question. He's shocked that she can speak because he was informed by Farouk that all the children at the palace are mute.
    Habiba: Can you make them stop screaming?
    Charles: (astonished) Wait, w-wait, y-you can talk?
  • Super-Cute Superpowers: With Syd growing to accept her powers, she's begun practicing with them by swapping bodies with a cat. While in cat shape, she retains her sentience but takes on some of the cat's instincts, such as playing with dangling strings and enjoying being petted. It's as cute as it sounds.
  • Superhero Horror: The series uses Mind Screw to tell a story of psychological horror, most of it due to David's struggle with mental illness (including paranoid schizophrenia) since his late childhood.
  • Surreal Horror: Naturally runs off of this, given that it's the story of a man with both deadly mutant abilities and severe mental illness. It's the kind of show where the Big Bad can give the protagonist a chilling Breaking Speech comparing love to a disease spread by ants and then bust out into a spectacular James Bond-style dance solo set to a raucous cover of Nina Simone's "Feelin' Good". And it actually gets even weirder as the series progresses. Bonus points for most of the scenes with the Devil With the Yellow Eyes successfully conveying the "slow-moving, inescapable, irrational horror" feel of an actual nightmare.
  • Sweet Tooth:
    • David is often seen eating or craving sweets. He adores cherry pie (he claims that he basically lives on it and it's everything he needs), gorges on waffles in various scenes, munches on strawberry Twizzlers, wants to eat a chocolate cupcake for his birthday (but a Clockworks security guard forbids him from doing so), and expresses interest in ice cream.
    • Lenny frequently snacks on strawberry Twizzlers, and she later requests that Sydney mail her a new candy bar that has nougat, chocolate and a crispy wafer. In Season 2, when David visits the "new" Lenny, he smuggles in some Twizzlers for her.
    • Charles loves cherry pie, and after Gabrielle (who's a faster eater than he is) "steals" what remains of his portion, he playfully fights her for the last piece. While he's conversing with David within the latter's own mind, David feeds Charles a slice of a three-layered red velvet cake that contains knowledge, and Charles enjoys its taste before he's overwhelmed by the information.
    • Gabrielle has a voracious appetite for cherry pie and eats it so quickly that she would take the half-eaten slice that Charles (who's fond of it, too, but he's a slower eater) has without asking. When he tries to grab another bite, she's unwilling to share.
  • Talking Animal: In The Multiverse episode, the version of David that winds up trapped in a dreary desk job entertains himself by using his powers to make a mouse sing "Slave to Love" by Bryan Ferry.
  • Talking in Bed: In "Chapter 22", at the psychiatric hospital, Gabrielle sneaks into her boyfriend's bed at night, and while lying next to Charles under the covers, she recounts to him about a marvelous dream that she had where they were free from the asylum, living together as husband and wife. He tells her that if this is truly her wish, then he'll make her dream come true, to which she replies that she wants to begin the next chapter of their relationship right away.
    Gabrielle: I had the most wonderful dream.
    Charles: Tell me.
    Gabrielle: We lived far away from here. You and me, together. And the stars... they belonged to us.
    Charles: Sounds nice.
    Gabrielle: Just a dream.
    Charles: Doesn't have to be.
    Gabrielle: We're in the madhouse.
    Charles: Until we're not. Say the word. There's something I can do.
    Gabrielle: A trick? Well, in that case what are we waiting for?
  • Tank Goodness: During a Battle in the Center of the Mind, David manifests a tank to counter Farouk's katana.
  • Tears of Fear: In "Chapter 22", Charles is so overwhelmed with fear when he's telepathically linked to Farouk through Cerebro that a tear spills from his right eye.
  • Tele-Frag:
    • A really gruesome version occurs when Syd enters David's body for the first time and loses control of his power. The mental hospital they were in gets completely reality warped, and poor Lenny gets phased into a concrete wall. David later discovers the Lenny-Wall hybrid and the image is disturbing to say the least.
    • When David actually the Shadow King in control of David's body, infiltrates Division 3 by himself, he terrifyingly uses this as a method to kill a large number of guards.
  • Telepathy:
    • David's telepathy begins to emerge in the second episode.
    • Ptonomy is a psychic whose specialty is accessing a person's memory; he styles himself as a "memory artist."
    • Oliver is also a telepath.
    • Charles is an immensely powerful psychic who is capable of separating the Shadow King's consciousness from its human body during their Battle in the Center of the Mind.
  • Temporal Sickness: Extensive use of her time travel power takes a physical toll on Switch.
  • Time Crash: "Chapter 23" explores time falling apart as a result of David's jump to the past, complete with Clock Roaches, Temporal Sickness, Time Loop Traps, a Place Beyond Time and even an Interface Screw for the audience when their television switches over to an episode of The Shield.
  • Time Loop Trap: David is placed in one by the Time Demons in "Chapter 23".
  • That Liar Lies: After dethroning the king, Farouk claims to have ushered in an "age of prosperity, praised by all." David then appears briefly next to Charles and tells him not to believe anything Farouk says.
    David: Lies. Behold, the king of lies.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Season 2 ultimately revolves around a version of Syd from the future plotting to engineer David's death because, in her timeline, he causes the apocalypse. David's blind trust in her leads to him pulling an Enemy Mine with Farouk, who quickly runs amok and kills David's sister in the process. Horrified by David's Roaring Rampage of Revenge (and goaded on by Farouk), present-day Syd accuses David of being Evil All Along and attempts to kill him. David is put on trial by Division 3 for future crimes, at which point David finally decides to break out of the facility and work against Divison 3 to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. However, this isn't before he took one last chance to Jump Off The Slippery Slope and use his powers to brainwash Syd into sleeping with him again after she lost her trust in him.
  • This Is a Drill: David mentally tortures Oliver with a power drill, believing he is still possessed by Farouk.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: It's intentionally difficult to determine what's real and what isn't. Time is shuffled so as to make it somewhat confusing if a given scene is a memory or not.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: How David and his cult kill Clark.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Farouk in Season 3, although he's more of a Retired Monster by that point in the series.
  • Transformation Ray: Division 3 had one. Farouk-in-Oliver steals it in season 2 and then makes him use it on Amy, transmogrifying her into a new body for Lenny, whose consciousness is then placed inside it.
  • Trying Not to Cry:
    • In the second episode, David can barely contain his tears when he recounts to Melanie and Ptonomy that his father had died last year, and he wasn't permitted to visit his dad because he was still confined at Clockworks.
    • In "Chapter 22", Gabrielle is visibly struggling not to cry after she's unable to persuade her husband Charles to cancel his trip to Morocco. He's her Living Emotional Crutch, so she knows her sanity will crumble without him around, especially with the added stress of having to take care of their newborn son on her own.
  • Tuneless Song of Madness: During a visit to David's mind in "Chapter 5", Syd stumbles upon David's image, singing "The Rainbow Connection" and accompanying himself on the banjo. From his tone of voice, it's clear that he's terrified beyond description of something Syd can't see, but it's not until later that we realize why: the Devil with the Yellow Eyes is taking over, once again driving David to madness.
  • Two-Person Love Triangle: Syd is genuinely bothered by the idea of David kissing her future self.
  • Unnaturally Blue Lighting: The scenes of Charles and Gabrielle at the psychiatric hospital are saturated in blue light to denote that it's an utterly drab and dreary environment for all the patients there.
  • Unreliable Narrator:
    • David's perception of reality can't be trusted because he's prone to delusions and hallucinations.
      David: I'm insane, you idiot. This is my delusion. It's not real.
    • In "Chapter 11", Farouk describes Charles as a meddling foreigner who came to Morocco so he could overthrow Farouk and play Mighty Whitey because he thought he knew what was best for the people of another country. As we see in "Chapter 26", Charles came to Morocco with the sole intention of befriending Farouk, and Farouk attacked him either so he could be a Power Parasite or simply For the Evulz.
    • In "Chapter 26", Charles is in a state of bewilderment once he arrives at Farouk's Moroccan palace, being uncertain if he can believe his eyes. For instance, the chauffeur (who was behind Charles and standing next to the car) seems to magically appear from behind a curtain at the front entrance, yet Charles never saw the chauffeur run past him to enter the palace while Charles was walking from the car to the doorway. These odd moments continue throughout the episode and enhance his sense of disorientation (e.g. Charles is eating dinner across the table from Farouk in the dining room, and then suddenly Charles is seated next to Habiba at the palace's theater while still chewing his food). As Harry Lloyd elaborates in this interview:
      Lloyd: Charles, suddenly, is now in the realm of someone else with seemingly even greater powers than he. He's constantly waking up in a different place, and he feels like he's in a dream. You realize, watching Dan Stevens' performance, from the first two seasons, there are so many times when he seems to be reacting to something that's not there, and it's very staccato and confused, and it's almost like he's in a dream. I found this Charles, who was quite composed in [Season 3] Episode 3, suddenly becoming more like his son, in terms of how he's reacting to baffling situations.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Everyone except David treats Admiral Fukuyama having a wicker basket on his head and speaking only through a Hive Mind of androgynous fembots as totally normal.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Charles inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events which would gradually lead to his son David's descent into supervillainy. Charles travels to Morocco to meet Farouk, who turns out to be a malevolent entity, so they engage in a Battle in the Center of the Mind. Charles defeats Farouk by pushing the latter's consciousness out of his body, but Charles fails to kill his opponent. A formless Farouk then finds his way into baby David's mind, latching on to it like a parasite. Charles is unaware that Farouk had already infected David's psyche, and fearful of what a vengeful Farouk might do to his infant son, Charles gives David up for adoption, believing that Farouk will not be able to find him (and thus keep David safe). Farouk then poisons David's mind for decades, and the latter becomes increasingly unstable as he gets older, with little to no control over his vast array of mutant powers. To make a long story short, insanity and winning the Superpower Lottery are a terribly destructive combination, and David will bring about the end of the world. All of this could've been avoided if Charles had simply remained at home, caring for his wife and son.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Farouk, in Oliver's body, in the Season 1 finale, after his Evil Plan to take over David's body is foiled.
  • Violence Is Not an Option: It turns out that the only way to prevent David from becoming a supervillain is for Charles and Farouk to have never gone to war in the first place. Charles and Present Farouk (who undergoes a Heel–Face Turn) settle on a peace agreement.
    Charles: I'm saying that war is not the answer, it's the problem. David, we don't need this barbarism. I've made a deal with Farouk.
  • The Voiceless: With the exception of Habiba, the children at Farouk's palace are mute. It's never explained why they're silent, but the fact that Habiba can talk to Charles may indicate that the other kids are under Farouk's Mind Control rather than because they physically can't speak.
  • Voiceover Letter: In "Chapter 22", while Gabrielle writes a letter to her husband Charles, we hear her narrate its contents.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting:
    • The Eye can shapeshift into other people, and gets the drop on the Summerland team multiple times with this ability.
    • Farouk appears as other people throughout the series, even when he isn't currently possessing that person's body. Whether he's physically shapeshifting into them or merely creating them as an illusion is ambiguous, though.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot:
    • Ptonomy vomits a stream of black sludge when the delusion creature in his body starts to emerge.
    • In "Chapter 18", a group of monks emit a Brown Note that incapacitates a team of Division 3 soldiers, one of whom vomits through his helmet from the distress.
  • Waistcoat of Style: When Charles travels to Morocco, he sports a grey waistcoat that matches with his suit. Being a high-class British gentleman in the 1950s, he wants to look his best even though his sojourn is an informal one, and the Moroccan heat would make wearing an extra layer of clothing uncomfortable. Once Charles is at Farouk's palace, he pats the sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief, so he's overdressed for the weather.
  • Warrior Monk: Division 3 clashes with warrior monks in Le Désolé who guard Farouk's body.
  • We Can Rule Together: In "Chapter 27", Past Farouk invites David to meet him in the Alternate Timeline once David becomes an adult, and suggests that they take over world, but David isn't interested.
    Past Farouk: Well, when you're grown, come and see me. Together, we will rule the world.
    David: No. I don't think I will.
  • Weaponized Teleportation: David besieges the Division 3 airship by teleporting the soldiers onboard into the vacuum of space.
  • Weirdness Search and Rescue: Oliver serves this role to the rest of the cast when they wind up trapped in the astral plane, since he's been there for decades and knows his way around.
  • Wham Line:
    • In Episode 4:
      Philly: [David] had this friend, Benny.
      Syd: You mean Lenny?
      Philly: No, Benny.
    • And:
      Amy: We didn't have a dog.
  • What If the Baby Is Like Me: In "Chapter 22", Charles expresses his concern that his telepathic ability might be passed down to his infant son David, knowing full well how isolating and dangerous it can be. Gabrielle hopes that their child won't be like her because she has a history of severe mental illness.
    Charles: What if I pass it on to him? And he ends up like me?
    Gabrielle: Would you rather he be like me?
    Charles: Yes.
    Gabrielle: (chuckles) I wouldn't.
  • What Is Going On?:
    • In "Chapter 26", because Charles isn't aware that Time Eaters are gradually consuming history (which creates pockets of lost time), he doesn't understand how he, David and Switch end up in the guest bedroom when he has no memory of them leaving the dining room.
      Charles: How did we get here? But we were just in the dining room.
    • Soon after, Charles is inside David's mind, and he hears pounding from behind the various closed doors. He has no idea that his son suffers from dissociative identity disorder, so Charles is naturally confused by the noise.
      Charles: What, what is happening? What are you not telling me?
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Played With in "Chapter 22". It is a whole episode flashback depicting Charles and Gabrielle falling in love and giving birth to David, but present-day David shows up via Time Travel and it's implied that he is unwittingly creating/perpetuating a Stable Time Loop.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist:
    • "Chapter 22" affirms that Charles is idealistic compared to the more cynical Gabrielle.
      Charles: We can change.
      Gabrielle: People don't change.
      Charles: I don't believe that.
      Gabrielle: That's sweet.
    • In "Chapter 26", Charles admits to David that wanting to see the best in people made him vulnerable to Farouk's deception.
      Charles: You're right, it's my fault. I've been naïve. [...] See, I came here for friendship. Because I've been to war, David. I've seen what people do. But this Farouk, he... He's a monster.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: A Central Theme of the series. Being superhuman means existing in a world utterly different from ordinary people, and in ways that the creators often use to parallel real world psychological conditions. The psychics really can hear voices that for normal people aren't there. Mutants like Syd and the Loudermilks spend every day experiencing types of dissociation "well adjusted" people don't. And when you reach the power level of superhumans like David and Farouk, things like mortality and even reality itself are far more up to their own subjective opinion than the normal "sane" human's conception of them.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: David is inside the orb that kidnapped him at the end of Season 1 for a year, but he only perceives it as a day.
  • Yellow Eyes of Sneakiness: The Devil with the Yellow Eyes haunts David in his visions.
  • You Already Changed the Past: In "Chapter 22", David's plan when he travels back in time is to protect his baby self from being possessed by the disembodied Farouk, but David's presence ends up facilitating the infection. David's attempt at communicating with his mother Gabrielle causes her to faint, and then his father Charles arrives home from Morocco to find his wife unconscious on the floor. Charles assumes that the ghostly apparition (who is the adult David, but Charles doesn't know that) in his infant son's bedroom is the culprit, so Charles hurls the intruder away with his Psychic Powers. While Charles is distracted trying to revive Gabrielle, he doesn't notice that behind him, Farouk's consciousness is entering baby David's mind. The adult David's interference in the past sealed his own fate.
  • You Can See Me?: An Oh, Crap! moment ensues when David and Syd, spying on the Division interrogating Amy from the Astral Plane, realize The Eye can see them.
  • You Monster!:
    • In "Chapter 22", Charles considers Farouk to be an immoral monster and a "some sort of devil."
    • In "Chapter 27", Legion repeatedly calls the Shadow King a monster before their psychic battle.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The Astral Plane functions like this. While inside it, your mind can create anything you want.
  • You Say Tomato: In "Chapter 22", when Gabrielle (a Romani) pronounces tomato as "to-may-to," Charles (an Englishman) remarks that the correct pronunciation among Brits is "to-mah-to."
    Gabrielle: Have you heard of a to-may-to?
    Charles: Well, we say to-mah-to, but, uh, yes.

"I have to know. Is this... is this real?"

Alternative Title(s): Legion