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Series / Lewis

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Hathaway: Has Oxford changed much since you've been away?
Lewis: No. It changed before I went.

Lewis (2006-2015) is a spinoff series of Inspector Morse and the second instalment of the Morseverse. The series centers around Robert "Robbie" Lewis (Kevin Whately), who, in a five year gap after the events of Inspector Morse, has lost his wife in a hit and run accident. Perhaps not coincidentally, this Lewis is a lot more argumentative than he used to be. Thanks to his promotion from Sergeant to Inspector, he once more finds himself pottering around Oxford, solving murders and the occasional government plot.

Lewis is joined by the young Sergeant James Hathaway (played by Laurence Fox) a former priest-in-training, who gave up his education and joined the police instead. He's tight-lipped and focused, much like Morse in his prime, but has a weak spot wherever the fairer sex is concerned. Lewis loves to wind him up, partly out of resentment toward his younger (and perhaps over-qualified) protégé, but mostly just to ignite some passion in the chilly detective.

The other regular cast members are Lewis's superintendent, Jean Innocent (played by Rebecca Front), and pathologist Laura Hobson (played by Clare Holman), the only other returning character from Inspector Morse.

The show originally ended after seven series because both lead actors wanted to move on. The final episodes showed Lewis deciding to retire and Hathaway leaving the force after becoming disillusioned with police work. It was Un-Cancelled a year later, however, and returned for an eighth series in 2014 with Hathaway returning to the force and receiving a promotion while Lewis comes out of retirement due to boredom.

The ninth and last series was broadcast in 2015.

This show provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: In "Falling Darkness", Hathaway and Lewis have to go find the employment records of a murder victim in the abandoned hospital where she worked as a nurse. Part of the Halloween Episode's horror vibe.
  • Alone with the Psycho: In "The Mind Has Mountains", Lewis does not realize that Bethan Vickery is the murderer (and a deranged Psychotic Lover stalker) until after he has given Bethan a ride home and come into her house for tea. She pulls a knife but he is able to disarm her.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Hathaway. His only love interests have been three women including a transgender woman, but he's shown to be conflicted over the relationship between religion and sexuality though that's partly because of his guilt for ruining a friend's life with religion-driven homophobic advice and doesn't answer when Lewis asks if he's gay.
  • And the Adventure Continues: While "What Lies Tangled" tries to hint that Lewis's position will soon be discontinued and Laura might also be strong-armed into taking early retirement, it ends with the two being reassured by Moody that their respective jobs will still be waiting for them when they return from their extended leave in New Zealand. Most likely it was intended as a way of letting them still make appearances in case a spin-off series focusing on Hathaway and/or Maddox was produced, but nothing of the sort materialized, with ITV instead focusing on Endeavour.
  • The Atoner: Caroline Hope in "Wild Justice". As a troubled ten-year-old, she and friend tried to rob an elderly couple and wound up setting fire to the house, killing everyone but her.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Deconstructed in "Whom the Gods Would Destroy". At first it appears as though the married couple have a dreadful marriage, only for the wife to save her husband's life after he chokes on his lunch, and for a tearful confession of love to commence in the hospital. Then we discover that she hated him, and was only keeping him alive because he was the only one who knew the location of her mother's body.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Regan Peverill, the series' first murder victim, turns out to have been this, for not only cheating on Danny Griffon with at least two other guys, but e-mailing their professor to brag about disproving the theory which made him famous, along with generally mocking him and calling him an idiot while bragging about her own intellect. It's implied that he could have just about lived with having the theory disproved, but the mockery pushed him over the edge.
    • Platt in "Whom the Gods Would Destroy". Was anyone not rooting for his death?
  • As You Know: In "What Lies Tangled" Hathaway is musing with Maddox about the calcium hydroxide used in a bomb. Then, after she's left and he's all by himself, he says "Calcium hydroxide is another name for lime."
  • The Atoner: The first victim in "Intelligent Design", a chemistry professor just released from prison after killing a young woman in a drunk driving accident. It turns out that he also regrets a scam he participated in with a fellow professor and a dean to have unqualified students admitted to the college for a hefty fee, which is the real reason he is killed.
  • Bald of Authority: In the last season, Lewis, Hathaway, and Maddox answer to DCS Moody, formerly of the Met, who is both bald and black.
  • Berserk Button: For Lewis, his wife's death and, by extension, dangerous drivers.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Elmo after he jumps off a building in "The Gift of Promise".
  • The Boxing Episode: "Music to Die For". One of the suspects sometimes fights in an illegal, underground bare-knuckle boxing ring.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Roger Temple, the porter in "Dark Matter", characterizes it as an "understanding" with which he and his wife use to supplement their meager income.
  • Bland-Name Product: In "Allegory of Love", the detectives print out an article from "Netipedia".
  • Book Ends: Lewis's first appearance in the pilot is when Hathaway picks him up from the airport. At the end of the last episode, Lewis and Laura leave for New Zealand by plane — and Hathaway is their driver again, with what looks like the very same sign from the pilot.
  • British Brevity: Each series has four two hour episodes, apart from the first, which had three.
  • Brotherhood of Funny Hats: The Sons of the Twice Born in "Whom the Gods Would Destroy", a secret society with a lot of nasty secrets.
  • Buddy Cop Show: The comparatively snark- and antic-filled Lewis-Hathaway partnership fits the bill much better than Morse-Lewis did.
  • The Butler Did It: In "The Dead of Winter" and "Wild Justice".
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: "But she was just a whore!" Platt makes the mistake of saying this to his murder victim's daughter in a tone that demonstrates he's totally gobsmacked that it's at all possible that she's taking revenge for her mother's death.
  • But Now I Must Go: Both Lewis and Hathaway at the end of series 7. Lewis is looking forward to retirement, while Hathaway, realizing he no longer has any appetite for detective work, quits.
  • Butterfly of Doom: One courtesy of Morse in "Music To Die For". Turns out that during the 1980's, Morse had sent a letter to an East German professor thanking him for a book, marked with a UK police stamp instead of a regular postage stamp. This ended up causing the professor to be imprisoned for being a spy and later shot, after an unscrupulous Stasi informant used this as "proof" of treason. The murders of several people during the episode were the result of either reprisals for the death of the professor or attempts by the informant to cover up what they'd done. As Lewis laments, in the end it all really boiled down to a borrowed book and the wrong stamp!
  • Call-Back:
    • There are many references to Lewis's days solving crimes with Morse. Often these nostalgic reminders end up tying into the case he's working on with Hathaway. (In one instance, a trifling thing Morse did decades ago proves to be key to understanding the case.)
    • Lewis and Hathaway find the murderer sipping a drink at the end of "Generation of Vipers" and quickly grab it away. The first murderer of the did away with themselves by drinking poisoned vodka in front of the detectives, which they didn't realize until it was too late. (In this case, the murder admits to considering it, but it's just plain liquor.)
  • Captain Obvious: DCS Moody tends to annoy Lewis, Hathaway and Maddox by suggesting they should do things they were going to do anyway.
  • Cartwright Curse: If Lewis or Hathaway get close to a guest character, it's a good bet that they'll turn out to be guilty of the crime, or end up dead, or both.
  • Casting Gag: Alan Davies as a quizmaster in "Your Sudden Death Question".
  • Character Title
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Hathaway's neck brace in "Down Among The Fearful" is about as obvious as they come. Especially as poor Laurence Fox has to wear it through almost the entire story for the sake of the one scene where it becomes relevant.
    • Two different scenes in "Counter Culture Blues" make a specific point of showing the macerating machine on the rock star's estate, the set of knives specifically dedicated to chopping human waste into goo. Guess what the killer tries to do with his last victim?
  • Classified Information: Lewis and Hathaway run headfirst into this in "Down Among the Fearful", when it comes to the secret project one of their suspects was collaborating with the Ministry of Defense on.
    • Also crops up in "The Gift of Promise" regarding MI5's dealings with the IRA during the troubles. Lewis does eventually get someone to spill the beans.
  • Confess in Confidence: In "Dark Matter", Father Francis feels constrained against revealing what Prof. Crompton confessed to no more than two hours before he was murdered.
  • Connect the Deaths: Usually. (See Never One Murder.)
  • The Coroner: Dr. Hobson.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Lewis points out explicitly in "Generation of Vipers" that Connelly could have saved himself and Miranda two decades of lonely bitterness if he'd actually opened her letters instead of believing the malicious gossip about her infidelity when they were students in love.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Written in the victim's blood, in "Allegory of Love".
  • Continuity Nod: In "The Lions of Nemea", Lewis remarks that they're near to the scene of one of his earliest cases — a woman found hanged in her kitchen. That case would be "The Dead of Jericho", the first episode of Inspector Morse.
  • Cure Your Gays: A Christian group in "Life Born of Fire" claims to be able to do this, though it doesn't work out well for anyone involved.
  • Da Chief: Chief Superintendent Innocent. She often warns Lewis and Hathaway to be careful of P.R., or of offending a rich and powerful suspect. Although they respect her this is of course frustrating, especially for Lewis, who doesn't give a damn how "important" a potential murderer is. She also threatens to put Hathaway back in uniform at one point.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All the recurring characters have a tendency towards this.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Many of the murderers cross it, especially the killer who had discovered that not only was he the long-lost brother of his adored wife, but that they both had a rare and incurable sleep disorder that would eventually kill them.
    • Hathaway teeters on it in "Intelligent Design", after realising what a toll police work has taken on his view of the world. He decides to dodge the horizon by quitting the force.
  • Decoy Protagonist: In the pilot episode, Danny Griffon is set up as an Expy of Hamlet, trying to uncover the truth about his father's death, the heir to a large car company, embroiled in a Love Triangle, and a suspect for the murder of his girlfriend. He's killed halfway through the episode for reasons that had nothing to do with any of this.
  • Disney Villain Death: In "Falling Darkness" a murderer jumps off a balcony.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Kicks off the plot of "Life Born of Fire".
    • Happens near the end of "Dark Matter" when the murderer attempts to kill herself with a rifle for her crimes. She points it at Lewis when he tries to intervene and sticks it back under her chin after she explains everything. Hathaway prevents it.
    • In "Entry Wounds", the father of a young man permanently disabled by a botched surgery hangs himself. His wife and her friend try to make it look like a murder for the insurance.
    • Since it also happens in Old, Unhappy, Far Off Things, it seems to be a bit of a Lewis thing.
  • Enhance Button: A uniform is showing Hathaway the CCTV footage of people going in and out of the lodge where Paul Yelland was murdered. Hathaway says "Can you zoom in?", and presto, the blurry pixelated face is transformed into the high-def face of Lilian the secretary.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Four of the key figures in "Generation of Vipers" were at school at the same time, including one of the victims.
  • Expy: Hathaway is cut from the same cloth as Kershaw, the Temporary Substitute for Lewis in the Inspector Morse episode "The Wench is Dead".
  • Faking the Dead:
    • In "The Gift of Promise", the girlfriend of an high ranking IRA member isn't quite as dead as her official records claim her to be.
    • In "Counter Culture Blues" Esme Ford, a rock star who committed suicide 35 years ago, pops up alive and reveals that she faked her death. Subverted when it's revealed that the woman in question is actually Esme Ford's sister.
  • Fate Worse than Death: One of the killers in "Falling Darkness" has a brain disease that prevents sleep and which will slowly bring about the onset of madness.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: In "Old, Unhappy, Far Off Things", this is how the girl that's been in a coma for ten years wakes up.
  • Foreshadowing: Hathaway makes a comment about Lewis's choice in women at the end of the first episode in the second season only to fall for Zoe, the serial killer from "Life Born of Fire", the third episode of that season.
  • From the Ashes: Several years after Inspector Morse ended, Sergeant Lewis's character was revived —now promoted to DI, and with a rookie partner of his own.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Constantly, such as cutting away to flying mirror shards instead of the woman getting her throat sliced with the remains of the frame in "Allegory of Love", fading quickly to one of the credit slides when a man shoots himself in "Life Born in Fire", and otherwise cutting to reactions, building exteriors, or other scenes and leaving the gore implied.
  • Goths: A house full of them in "Falling Darkness", the Halloween Episode.
  • Grammar Nazi: Hathaway's pet peeve, to the extent that he even gets Lewis noting apostrophe misuse around town.
  • Halloween Episode: "Falling Darkness" starts off on Halloween, with Lewis fielding trick-or-treaters. The episode as a whole uses several spooky horror tropes.
  • Hand of Death: Between each murder in "Magnum Opus", the killer's black-gloved hands are shown performing alchemical procedures.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Hathaway experiences one in "Intelligent Design," after it turns out that a student suspect was Driven to Suicide after Hathaway accused him of the murder, (unknowingly) as the student was failing and learned that he shouldn't even have been admitted to Oxford. He spends the rest of the episode wracked with guilt, resulting in Hathaway deciding to quit the force. In general, Hathaway is more prone to having these than Lewis; for all his snark he's not so used to horrible things.
    • Hathaway himself parodies it in "Counter Culture Blues" when he says he's going to need therapy after jumping in "a lake full of crap with knives in it" to rescue a would-be murder victim.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: In "Dark Matter" the murderer was the dormitory housekeeper, who hid the rifle on her cleaning cart and just threw a cloth over it. Lewis demonstrates how, nobody taking any notice of her or her cart to start with, they would automatically see the disguised rifle as a broom or suchlike.
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: Played with in "The Indelible Stain", when an American professor is proposing a new crime prediction model that many are concerned would discriminate against black people, even though he himself claims not to be racist. A law student confronts him on this, and he responds by saying that by her logic, the Wright Brothers and Albert Einstein were to blame for the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima respectively... to which the student says that they do deserve to be blamed for those events, because they should have foreseen the possibility that someone would use their creations for destructive means.
  • Hollywood Hacking: "Old School Ties" features a hacker who was recently released from prison who hacked into the CIA, FBI, and various other government agencies - and who is functionally illiterate (the illiteracy being a plot point - sort of). Anyone who knows anything about computer security knows why this wouldn't work.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Lewis and Hathaway trap the murderer this way in "What Lies Tangled."
  • Incompatible Orientation: Deconstructed in "Life Born of Fire" in which the woman who claims to have been in love with a gay man has actually gone through a sex-change in order to be with him in a way that doesn't violate his Christian beliefs. Needless to say, it doesn't turn out well.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Conor Hawes in "Soul of Genius", who was incredibly jealous of his genius brother (the episode's first murder victim). Hathaway describes him as having a "horror of talent" when it's revealed that Conor is the one behind the Wednesday Club, stringing students along until he invites them to a "meeting" of the "club". It's just him, alone in his office, to deliver them a Breaking Speech about how they're not so special.
  • Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy: A wife does this to her husband in the first series (she's a trained nurse). Luckily, Lewis has a pen.
  • Insufferable Genius: Oxford is full of them in this series. Variations include professors who ignore any students who aren't geniuses, tutors who kick students out of courses (or out of the University) rather than help them when they struggle with coursework, and arrogant students who despise anyone who isn't up to their intellectual standard.
  • Intro Dump: In "Your Sudden Death Question" all the characters in the episode are introduced at once. They're contestants in a quiz competition and they introduce themselves to each other at the start of the game.
  • In with the In Crowd: The undergraduates in "The Soul of Genius". Unfortunately for them, there isn't an in crowd — it's just a sadistic trick.
  • It's All My Fault: In "Generation of Vipers", Hathaway guilts Briony into snooping around her workplace files to find out who uploaded Miranda's dating profile video. When she's found dead the next morning, he clearly feels responsible for having bullied her into it.
  • Just Friends: Lewis protests this repeatedly about himself and Dr. Hobson.
  • The Killer Was Left-Handed: How our heroes are quickly able to figure out that Talika's heroin overdose was actually murder, in "One for Sorrow". The needle mark is in her left arm, but all her old heroin scars are in her right arm and she has an ink stain on her left hand, indicating she's a lefty.
  • Kimono Fanservice: In "The Mind Has Mountains", the attractive Bethan, who has been subtly flirting with Lewis the whole episode, asks him for a ride home, then invites him inside for tea. She steps out of the room and comes back wearing nothing but a kimono. Unfortunately in the meantime, Lewis, helped by a timely call from Hathaway, has figured out that she is both the murderer and completely insane.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: "Music To Die For" features Lewis snagging his clothing on a rose bush at a suspect's house. This is important later when a particular type of soil is found on a murder victim that has been moved from the place of death.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The murderer in "Music to Die For" strikes the last would-be victim on the back of the head to keep him quiet... while they're both standing at the edge of a canal lock they've just opened. The man's fall knocks the murderer into the rushing water to drown (while the victim is hurt, but lives).
  • Leitmotif: As well as the series' own themes, strains of the Inspector Morse theme can be heard when Lewis comes across something that reminds him of his boss.
  • Lead Police Detective: Having been the sidekick to the Lead Police Detective on Inspector Morse, Lewis now gets to be Lead Police Detective himself and have a sidekick of his own.
  • Let Off by the Detective: Lewis commits this in "Whom the Gods Would Destroy".
  • Literal Metaphor: The murder victim in "The Dead of Winter" was hunting for a "king's ransom"—an actual king's ransom, buried treasure that Charles I had tried to use to buy his freedom.
  • Literary Allusion Title: At least half the episode titles. "Whom the Gods Would Destroy", "And the Moonbeams Kiss the Sea", "Allegory of Love", "The Quality of Mercy", "Old, Unhappy, Far Off Things", "Wild Justice", "The Mind Has Mountains", "Generation of Vipers", and "Fearful Symmetry".
  • The Lost Lenore: Valerie Lewis is obviously still dearly missed, even years after her death. Lewis eventually finds a Second Love with Laura Hobson.
  • Market-Based Title: Sort of. The show is Inspector Lewis for PBS viewers in the United States. Probably calculated to ring the "Inspector Morse" bell because Inspector Morse is certainly known but not as immensely popular as in Britain, and hearing "Lewis" alone may not be enough to place the name.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: In "The Lions of Nemea" a couple's child is actually the product of the wife's affair. Her husband only finds out the truth after the child is diagnosed with a rare disease that needs a transplant to cure, and it turns out that he's not a compatible donor.
  • Meaningful Name: In "Life Born of Fire", Zoë claims she's an expert on the meanings of names. It takes Lewis an absolute age to work out the significance of hers. It's a Title Drop.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Simon Monkford's hotel con in "The Quality of Mercy" results in Hathaway accidentally discovering that it was Monkford who was driving the car that killed Lewis's wife.
  • Mistaken for Gay: In "Expiation", a school headmaster mistakes Lewis and Hathaway for parents looking for a school for their child.
  • Mood Whiplash: From Lewis and Hathaway trying to covertly (and illegally) dump Lewis's mattress in a public dumpster to Lewis talking about how every time he throws out something he had from when his wife was still alive, he catches himself wondering how long until he's thrown out the last bit of his marriage.
  • Murder by Mistake: In "Music to Die For", and again in "The Point of Vanishing" and "The Soul of Genius".
  • Murder-Suicide: The killer in "Life Born of Fire" plans to end the episode's Roaring Rampage of Revenge by dying alongside Hathaway, the last and most sympathetic of the people partly responsible for Will's suicide.
  • My Beloved Smother: In "One for Sorrow," Vivienne Tedman keeps very close tabs on her only child, Ollie. She's covering up for her mistaken decision to use him in her psychology experiment.
  • Mysterious Past: Hathaway's particularly tight-lipped about his past and refuses to tell anyone why he left the seminary.
  • Never One Murder: Once an Episode, as there was never just one murder on an episode of Lewis. Sometimes there were three murders. On a couple of occasions, there were four, like in "Counter Culture Blues" (although in that one the last murder wasn't a part of the mystery, but a revenge killing after the mystery had been solved).
  • Never Suicide: A variation in "The Soul of Genius", where a the mother of a chemistry prodigy is convinced that there's no way he could have been taking drugs (to say nothing of overdosing on them) and must have been murdered. Averted in the end; it turns out that he really did just die from an overdose.
  • New Media Are Evil: In "Generation of Vipers", two websites feature prominently in the plot; neither appears to advantage.
  • The New Rock & Roll: For some reason, the fantasy genre in "Allegory of Love".
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The killer in "Wild Justice" gets rid of two candidates in the leadership election for a religious college (killing one candidate outright, and killing the son of another so that they'll withdraw) so that people will think the favourite for the election killed her rivals, then committed suicide out of guilt after he kills her. Instead, however, this ends up removing two candidates who could potentially have split the vote, thus causing the favourite to win the election by a landslide over her bigoted, traditionalist rival.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Graham Lowrie and Luke Burgess in "Beyond Good and Evil."
  • Noodle Incident: Over the course of nine seasons, Hathaway being a former seminary student who left religion for police work is mentioned many times, but the series never says why he dropped out of the seminary.
  • Oh, Crap!: Played for pure hilarity in "Ramblin' Boy" when Laura Hobson walks into a pub and unceremoniously snogs the living daylights out of Lewis, only for her to be informed — once he's done snogging her right back — that Innocent and Hathaway are sitting right there. And are very interested in the proceedings.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Lewis and Hathaway, just as Lewis used to be the "young cop" to Morse's "old cop".
  • Old Flame: Two former lovers come back into each other's lives in "The Gift of Promise". Though the twist is one was a former IRA member who was given a new identity in exchange for him providing insider information, while the other was his girlfriend who MI5 essentially set up to be his honey trap. By the time the of the episode she has moved on, while he still carries a massive torch for her.
  • Ominous Fog: In "Falling Darkness" the entire opening sequence on Halloween night, which culminates in a murder,is wreathed in Ominous Fog.
  • Oop North: "Old School Ties" doesn't take place Oop North, but we get an earful from the author Lewis is guarding. Lewis himself is from Newcastle and takes a dislike to said author for being a "professional Geordie."
  • Papa Wolf: The father of Beatrice, the rape victim in "The Great and the Good". Both of them, actually—her biological father kills her rapist and a blackmailer to avenge and protect her, and the father who raised her nearly takes the blame out of guilt for failing to protect her that once and later attacks the other man when he thinks he's a threat.
  • Parental Incest: Dorian Crane and his foster mother Ginny in "Allegory of Love". Dorian's fiancée usurping Ginny as his muse (along with the fear of said fiancée learning about the relationship) was what drove Ginny to murder.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: "Whom the Gods Would Destroy" and "Life Born of Fire".
  • Phony Psychic: The first victim of "Down Among the Fearful" is a psychologist who was masquerading as a spirit medium to gather field data for his research project. The murderer turns out to be one of his clients who'd discovered he was a fraud and was furious about it.
  • Power Trio: As of "Entry Wounds," Lewis, Hathaway, and Maddox.
  • Prisoner Performance: In "Old School Ties," Diane stages Julius Caesar while working with prison inmates, with her future husband, convicted hacker Nicky Turnbull, playing Caesar. Lewis and Hathaway track down other prisoners involved in the performance while investigating Turnbull's murder, but it turns out to be a Red Herring.
  • Put on a Bus: Rebecca Front left the programme after Series 8. Consequently, DCS Innocent is mentioned as having transferred to another regional police service. Lewis and Maddox discuss how wild her going away party became.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: In-Universe in "Counter Culture Blues". Esme Ford of the 60s rock band "Midnight Addiction", who faked her death 35 years ago, reveals to her old band mates that she is still alive. They pretty much immediately put the band back together, much to the delight of Inspector Lewis, who was a big "Midnight Addiction" fan back in the day. Unfortunately some murders ruin everything.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Hathaway thumps his mirror in "Life Born Of Fire", though it isn't damaged. His friend, whose funeral he is getting dressed for, was gay, and Hathaway had given him homophobic advice that had led to his eventual suicide.
    • One of the hospital orderlies takes a punch at his own reflection in "Beyond Good and Evil."
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Though too PR-conscious for Lewis and Hathaway's liking, Jean Innocent is nevertheless well-respected by her subordinates and damned good at her job to boot.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Subverted in "Whom the Gods Would Destroy", where Lewis initially theorizes that the Sympathetic Murderers planned to spare one member of the Sons of the Twice Born specifically because he showed remorse for his part in murdering their friend/mother. However, it's later revealed that they fully intended for him to die as well, but that the Batman Gambit they attempted (whereby he'd kill one of the other Sons, and then be himself killed by the other remaining survivor) didn't work, forcing them to alter their plans. He still gets arrested at the end, but only on charges of helping to cover up a murder, which is still better than ending up dead or with a life sentence for murder.
  • Redemption Equals Death: The second victim in "The Point of Vanishing". The same episode also includes a non-villain example of Death Equals Redemption.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Lewis and Hobson, finally, in Series 7's "Ramblin' Boy". Lewis gives Hobson a veiled but not-at-all-subtle hint with his declaration that he's "turning the page on a new chapter", they spend the whole episode flirting, and the whole thing is capped off with Hobson snogging him in the middle of a pub.
  • Reluctant Retiree: Averted or subverted with Lewis, who of course gives retirement a lot of thought but makes the decision himself. But he finds that he misses his job and jumps when Innocent asks him to fill in their staffing shortage.
  • Retirony: A non-lethal example occurs in the pilot, as the DI who Hathaway is initially working under gets sacked for drink-driving on the job, just a couple of weeks before he would have retired anyway.
  • Rule of Seven: "One for Sorrow." The dead "prisoner" was number seven, there are sevens all over Talika's exhibit, and the seventh line of the nursery rhyme "One for Sorrow" is "Seven for a secret." It's the key to explaining why there's a corpse in the well.
  • Saying Too Much: In one scene in "Entry Wounds", Hathaway and Maddox are questioning animal rights activist Jessica Tallison, leading to this exchange:
    Hathaway: Tell me about Clayborne Farm.
    Hathaway: Were you aware that there was an arson attack there last night?
    Tallison: No.
    Tallison: (speaking to Maddox) Hasn't he got something better to do? Seriously, a non-violent protest and a fire at a hunting lodge? That's his priority?
    Hathaway: I didn't say the fire was at the hunting lodge.
    Tallison: (cue Oh, Crap! expression)
  • Series Fauxnale: "Intelligent Design" was originally written as the show's final episode, but it would continue for a further two seasons.
  • Sex for Solace: Hathaway's slightly inebriated decision to get into bed with Zoe in "Life Born of Fire" comes after the suicide of an old friend that he was partly, if innocently, responsible for and a bad falling-out with Lewis. Unfortunately, Zoe is a serial killer avenging the suicidal friend's death and tries to kill him.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: All the recurring characters get this to some degree, but special commendation goes to Innocent, about whom Hathaway says this almost word for word.
  • Shipper on Deck: As of "The Mind Has Mountains", Chief Superintendent Innocent appears to be shipping Lewis/Dr Hobson. Sometimes Hathaway too, albeit in a much more subtle, slightly more jealous way. She gets her way in Series 7.
    • Also with reference to the cast members' twitter; Rebecca Front has voiced her support for Lewis/Hobson, as well as Laurence Fox supporting Lewis/Hathaway and Hathaway/Innocent.
    • Innocent attempts to ship Lewis with a friend of hers in "Allegory of Love", but fortunately it comes to nothing.
  • Shout-Out: "The Dead of Winter" is full of these:
    • To Sherlock Holmes: A lost English Civil War treasure with coded clues to its location.
    • To Brideshead Revisited: Hathaway's return to the Mortmaignes' stately pile.
    • To Gormenghast: The young heir of the property is called Titus.
    • To Clue: The victim's name is Dr Black, and an attractive young female suspect is called Scarlett. Other characters' names are also references; all the Cluedo characters except Mrs Peacock get some kind of mention.
    • The murders in "Wild Justice" all deliberately imitate those in Jacobean revenge tragedies, but a minor supporting character is named Karen Middleton — Thomas Middleton was a Jacobean playwright known best for his work in that genre.
    • The title of "Allegory of Love" is a shout out to C. S. Lewis, whose day job was literature professor, and whose first big book in that capacity was entitled "The Allegory of Love", being about medieval love poetry. And of course Lewis and Tolkien (see below) were friends and influenced each other's fiction.
    • "Falling Darkness" is wall-to-wall Edgar Allan Poe references, as befits a Halloween Episode.
  • Sinister Minister: Conor Hawes, the chaplain in "Soul of Genius", is a mean-spirited man who hounded the late Stevie Marber for daring to turn down an invitation to the Wednesday Club which isn't even a real club, just a way for Hawes to get intelligent students into his office and humiliate them with a Breaking Speech about how they're not special—something we watch him do to Mia and Vincent.
  • Smart People Know Latin: Discussed in "Life Born of Fire", also giving a Title Drop:
    Lewis: "Life born of fire". I bet that means something in Latin.
    Hathaway: What makes you say that?
    Lewis: This is Oxford. Everything always means something in Latin.
  • Spinoff: Of Inspector Morse.
  • Staggered Zoom: Onto murder suspect Dax Kinneson in "Magnus Opus" after our heroes discover a bloodstain in his boat.
  • Stealing the Credit: The murderer in "Intelligent Design". She claims she had every right to steal ground-breaking research from her student and pass it off as her own, because as her supervising professor, she had a claim to both the responsibility and the credit for any work her student might do. While this is technically true, she takes the extra step of cornering the student when she protests, leading the student's death.
  • Stepford Smiler: Rachel from "Expiation" is a loving mother, happily married, and is constantly helping charities and taking on charity cases. She surrounds herself with goodness because she needs to constantly remind herself that people are not dolls that can be taken apart and sewn back together, like she tried to do to her little brother.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: The murderer in "Dead of Winter" is Paul the butler, who was sexually abused by Marquis Mortmaigneas a child and developed an obsessive devotion to him that drives him to murder all the people who might have exposed Mortmaigne's crimes.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: Lewis does not like "professional Geordies" who play up being bluff, thick-accented Northeners.
  • Straw Feminist: The lady professor at the Oxford women's college who has chosen celibacy and opposed making the college co-ed is nasty and unpleasant. She turns out to be a hypocrite about the celibacy business (she had a male lover years ago), and also happens to be the murderer.
  • Surprise Incest: In "Falling Darkness" the married couple found out at some point in the past that they are siblings who were put up for adoption.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Lewis expresses a fair bit of this toward the people ultimately behind the murders in "Whom the Gods Would Destroy," to the point where it's implied that he might destroy a piece of evidence that would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Anne Sadikov plotted to (indirectly) murder Theodore Platt, out of sympathy for Platt's murdering her mother.
  • Take That!: "Allegory of Love" delivers multiple smackdowns to the cult of J. R. R. Tolkien and swords-and-sorcery fantasy novels.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy: The victim in "One for Sorrow" was a taxidermist who stuffed animals and combined them with creepy videos to make weird, disturbing art exhibits.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Ultimately, Hathaway's, due to the series continuing unexpectedly—and Lewis's own, to a lesser extent; his retirement was the ordinary sort and he just misses his job. Coppering just isn't easy to leave behind, apparently.
  • Tempting Fate: In "Entry Wounds", Lewis tells a suspect "No-one's accusing you of anything." Hathaway, who's been away taking a telephone call, returns and immediately arrests him.
  • That Man Is Dead: Zoe always speaks of Feardocha as if he is dead in "Life Born of Fire".
  • Theme Serial Killer: The killer in "Life Born of Fire", who uses the phoenix symbol and various items related to fire, like killing someone with a statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. Lampshaded by Lewis:
    Hobson: The Phoenix Killer strikes again.
    Lewis: Phoenix I have to start calling him that?
  • Trans Tribulations: Played for tragedy in "Life Born of Fire". Zoe Kenneth was originally Feardocha Phelan, who was Will's boyfriend. After the Cure Your Gays group they were both attending causes Will to start to hate their relationship, Feardocha jets off to Brazil to become Zoe so that Will could finally love a girl. Sadly it didn't work out, and Will's suicide becomes her Despair Event Horizon which turns her into a Serial Killer.
  • Two First Names: Zoe Kenneth in "Life Born of Fire". Both of which were chosen very deliberately.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: This trope is mentioned by name in "Your Sudden Death Question", when two contestants in a weekend quiz competition interact with each other in a flirtatious manner while walking back to their lodgingsnote  after a night out on the town; specifically, they're playing a game of "I spy with my little eye..." using acronyms (rather than single letters) as the clues, where one of said clues is the acronym U.S.T. and the correct answer is, of course, "unresolved sexual tension". Mood Whiplash ensues when the very next thing that happens is one of them noticing a dead body in plain sight close to their walking route.
  • Visual Pun: In "The Dead of Winter" Lewis and Hathaway follow a centuries-old treasure trail to a Roman statue of Juno and her geese - at which point Hathaway points out that it's a "wild goose chase".
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: A rather gentle example. Lewis and Hathaway trade jabs with each other all the time, although Hathaway always maintained a respectful tone. The barbs become stronger, but remain friendly, when Hathaway is promoted and both detectives are of equal rank.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: A young woman runs away and vomits over a bridge after seeing the corpse in "One for Sorrow."
  • Walking Transplant: In "The Lions of Nemea", a couple who's daughter has a rare blood disease are undergoing fertility treatments to try to concieve another child who'll be able to act as a stem cell donor. This 'savior sibling' is the motivation for all three murders: the first victim was killed after she kept threatening the child's would be father, the child's father is killed are he threatens to sue for custody when the child is born, and the third victim was blackmailling the killer over the first two deaths.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The killer in "Intelligent Design" claims to be this, when they murder two people and cover up a fatal accident to protect her research into a possible cure for Alzheimer's Disease. However, she passed off her student's ground-breaking work as her own, then killed the student (supposedly accidentally) and hid the body when the student had the gall to protest. For the last few years, the student's work has been her meal ticket. She is also incredibly snide, dismissing the genius student as "average" and loftily informing Lewis that "this is Oxford" when he points out that the missing student was known to be brilliant, not a lab dogsbody as the professor was implying. This would suggest that she's not so much concerned with the fate of humanity as her own glory.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Morse's Jaguar Mark 2. He left it to Lewis in his will but it has never been seen or discussed on the show. Given the five-year gap between Inspector Morse and Lewis, at least part of which Lewis spent working overseas, it's possible the car was sold when he thought he wasn't coming back.
  • What Have I Become?: In the final episode of Series 7, Hathaway realizes that he's stopped seeing people as basically good and blames himself for the suicide of a young student, leading to his resignation from the force.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: During "Life Born of Fire" and "Dead of Winter", Lewis becomes very angry with Hathaway for failing to disclose his personal connection with individuals involved in the case and tells him to Get Out! (although in both instances it's clear that Lewis doesn't want to break their partnership, he's just mad at Hathaway's poor judgment).
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The pilot is essentially Hamlet; "Old, Unhappy, Far-Off Things" is Gaudy Night.
    • "Whom the Gods Would Destroy" bears a lot of similarity to The Secret History as both feature tight-knit groups of university Classics students who commit a murder during a drug-fueled Bacchanalia on and the cover-up of this event leads to more deaths and ruined lives. There are also counterpart characters, particularly in Harry Bundrik (who corresponds with TSH's Francis in that both are troubled and closeted homosexuals in love with another member of the group and haunted by their crime) and in Theodore Platt (who mirrors TSH's Henry as the cruel, wealthy and cultured chessmaster who shows little guilt over the crime. Both even have disabilities though Henry's predates the murder and Platt's comes years after the fact. And the crime in question occurred on both of their country estates.
  • With Due Respect: A variant, lampshaded:
    Lewis: I've noticed, Hathaway, that you always call me 'sir' when you say something mean.
  • With Friends Like These...: If any close-knit Oxford pals appear, you can safely bet that there's some shared disdain at best, murderous intent at worst, and probably a willingness to feast on schadenfreude if someone gets arrested or has a dirty secret exposed over the course of the investigation.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: In "Old School Ties", Charlie Read openly confesses to having hurt a lot of people – but never a woman. He recalls how even Inspector Morse gave him credit for that.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In "The Soul of Genius", Michelle Marber seems to be a victim of this at first, thinking that she's the heroine of a Little Old Lady Investigates mystery and that Lewis and Hathaway are examples of Police Are Useless. Her motivations are actually more complicated, though she still never gets the genre right.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Lewis calls Hathaway "James" when he finds him in the burning house, completely unconscious.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Said by the villain in "The Gift Of Promise".
  • You Killed My Mother: The motive in "Whom the Gods Would Destroy".