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Series / Legion
aka: Legion

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"He believes he's mentally ill, but he may be the most powerful mutant we've ever encountered."

Legion is a Superhero-Psychological Horror 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:

  • 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 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 being one and then separate 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.
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  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Legion is black-haired in the comics, but his TV counterpart's hair is light brown. He's also missing the comic character's towering 'do.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Ambiguously Evil aside, this David is much calmer, more rational and more approachable than his comic counterpart.
  • 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 two, it's officially acknowledged that, whatever else is happening with his mind, David also genuinely has mulitple personalities.
  • 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.
  • Alternate Continuity: This series is in its own standalone continuity, set apart from the X-Men movie universe, the MCU and any current Marvel continuity; it differs in many ways.
  • 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, though 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 car is a vaguely 90's looking black limo - 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 guitar 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 adults during World War 2 and still fairly young at his birth, putting David's birth date somewhere in the 1950s, meaning the show would take place somewhere in the 1980s.
  • 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, trapped in the astral plane with Farouk.
  • And Starring: The end credits has "with Katie Aselton and Jean Smart."
  • Arc Symbol: Production designer Michael Wylie states in this featurette that the sets have a circle motif.
  • Arc Words: "What did the stars say?"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bag of Holding: The little yellow box which is somehow able to hold a fully assembled sniper-rifle.
  • Baleful Polymorph: 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.
  • Battle Rapping: Oliver does this against Wolf in the Astral Plane.
  • 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.
  • Big "NO!": Sydney shouts this many times after she unintentionally swaps bodies with David in the first episode.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • 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."
    • 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, 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?"
  • 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.
  • Brains and Brawn: Cary and Kerry. He's a brilliant scientist and she has superhuman fighting abilities.
  • Book-Ends :The series begins and ends with a scene of Baby david in his crib. The who song Happy jack is heard from the first scene of the series to the last
  • Broken Bird: David. Some think that because of this and how powerful he is he wants to destroy the world.
  • 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.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: David gets a chance to call out his father, Charles Xavier, for abandoning him. Ultimately the fact that David convinces his father to not leave the family is what will prevent David from becoming a supervillain.
  • 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.
  • C.A.T. Trap: 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.
    David: Oh, COME ON!
  • Central Theme: What makes someone truly insane?
  • 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.
  • 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 daugther.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: David mentally tortures a person he believes is Amal Farouk, believing that he's abducted Syd. In his mind, David drills into his kneecaps with a power drill and seems to enjoy it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Lenny's death by Telefrag 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 are anything to go by, it was excruciatingly painful.
  • Dance Off: David does this against Oliver and Lenny who are controlled by Farouk to represent a psychic battle.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Several in Season 2.
    • Chapter 12: Sydney.
    • Chapter 13: Lenny and Oliver.
    • Chapter 14: Amy.
    • Chapter 17: Melanie, Lenny, Cary and Kerry.
  • 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.
  • Distressed Dude: In the first episode, David is seized by government agents, and he has to be rescued by Sydney and her team.
  • 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 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 in 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. Syd meanwhile used her own powers to have sex with her mother's boyfriend under false pretenses, which is also rape. David's crime is used an indication of his descent into complete villainy, while Syd's is used to illustrate of how broken and difficult her life is. The show demonstrates that neither David or Syd believe they've done nothing wrong with Syd actually framing her incident with her as the victim when she meets her teenage self in season 3.
  • Driven to Madness: Subverted. It's suggested that David's mental problems resulted in not being properly equipped to handle his psychic powers. 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 simply has a family history of mental illness 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 a form he could recognized 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.
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • Oliver becomes inhabited by Amal 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 a anti-villain protagonist, still sympathetic, but in need of stopping.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Amy is well-adjusted and has a normal, suburban middle-class life with her husband Ben. 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.
  • 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.
  • "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 
  • 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: Amal 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hallucinations: David has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
  • Happy Dance: The Parasite, in its form as Lenny, does one of these near the beginning of chapter six. 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.
  • 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 Amal 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.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Most of the time when the yellow-eyed devil appears onscreen, his presence is accompanied with the sound of a loud, blaring trumpet.
  • Hive Mind: Admiral Fukuyama...sort of, he claims to have cybernetics in his brain and speaks through a trio of seemingly robotic mustachioed female attendants which Speak in Unison all in the same Computer Voice.
  • How's Your British Accent?: David is played by an English actor (you might recognize him for his previous role on Downton Abbey), but he has an American accent. Until episode 7, that is, where his superego 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 superego, and saying something he imagined his biological father saying, which is something of a call-forward to the reveal that his father is Charles Xavier, an Englishman.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Episode 7; the entire scene with David's rational voice builds into this.
  • 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.
  • Make Way for the New Villains: The show initially sets up Brubaker and his Division 3 as the main antagonists, with the Devil With Yellow Eyes as a bigger fish lurking in the background. But in Chapter Five, the Devil takes control of David's body and immediately curbstomps 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 curbstomps 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 behaviours, such as sleeping while his rocket ship lamp (which he had since he was a baby) is on, and its constellations-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.
  • 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.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste:
    • Amal 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 Amal Farouk, maintains his high-brow personality.
  • 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.
  • 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, AKA the Shadow King.
  • 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.
  • Mind over Matter:
    • David's psychic powers have mainly manifested as telekinesis so far. He 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 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 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 were already guessing. Earlier in the episode, Syd also rattles 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.
  • Mood Dissonance: 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 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.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Like David, Professor X (who in the comics is David's father) 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 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 poster for the series, 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.
  • 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 Leeds 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 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.
  • No Infantile Amnesia: Ptonomy can recall his birth and what it was like in his mother's womb.
  • 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-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.
  • Official Couple: David's and Sydney's romance is the most prominent of the show.
  • 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.
  • Omniglot: Amal Farouk peppers his speech with a wide variety of languages, though French seems to be his favorite. 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 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.
  • Photographic Memory: Ptonomy claims that he remembers everything.
  • 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.
  • 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 whoever she touches, however briefly.
  • 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.
  • Previously On…: Chapter 13 (Episode 5 of Season 2) starts with “Apparently, on Legion...”.
  • Product Placement: David and Lenny both like Twizzlers and eat them in a few scenes.
  • 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.
  • Psychic Powers: A number of characters have psychic abilities, most notably David.
  • Psychological Horror/Thriller: Basically Marvel Television's take on both genres.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • In "Chapter 11", Kerry finds out that if you eat a lot of food, you'll have to use the bathroom, something that she hasn't done before.
    • In "Chapter 12", the following episode, has the after effects of the Monk's virus by having Clark state that 300 or so people needed to use the bathroom after being under the virus' effects.
    • 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.
  • "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 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 season 2 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 has a love of 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.
  • 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 Davids mind.
  • 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.
  • 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 sweets. He loves cherry pie, gorges on waffles in various scenes, eats a chocolate cupcake for his birthday, eats Twizzlers and expresses interest in ice cream.
    • Lenny is seen snacking on strawberry Twizzlers, and she 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Two-Person Love Triangle: Syd is genuinely bothered by the idea of David kissing her future self.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The Astral Plane functions like this. While inside it, your mind can create anything you want.

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


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