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Series / Lupin (2021)

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Lupin is a French mystery/caper thriller series created by George Kay and François Uzan, and directed by Marcela Said, Ludovic Bernard and Louis Leterrier. It started streaming on Netflix on January 8, 2021. It is not related to Lupin III, though the inspiration is the same.

The series stars Omar Sy in the role of Assane Diop, a professional thief whose father, an immigrant from Senegal, committed suicide in his prison cell after being framed for the theft of an expensive diamond necklace that once belonged to Marie Antoinette by his employer, the wealthy and powerful Hubert Pellegrini.

Assane, inspired by his love for Arsène Lupin novels since his father offered him one on his 16th birthday, sets out to get revenge on the Pellegrini family and find proofs of his father's innocence, using his charisma and mastery of thievery, subterfuge and disguise to expose Hubert's crimes.


The series also stars Vincent Londez as Police Captain Romain Laugier, Ludivine Sagnier as Claire and Hervé Pierre as Hubert Pellegrini.

A second season will release in the summer of 2021.

Lupin provides examples of:

  • The '90s: The flashbacks in Assane's youth with his father, the Pellegrinis and Claire take place in 1995. The cars seen in the streets are era-appropriate.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break:
    • Apparently, Babakar died around the time of his son's birthday. After the funeral, Assane finds the present (a Arsène Lupin book) that his father had intended to give to him.
    • Poor Raoul gets kidnapped on his birthday.
  • Alleged Lookalikes: Lampshaded heavily with Assane and the man whose place he takes in prison; both are of west African origin but don't particularly look alike in any way, and both are aware of this. Even so, none of the prison officials seem to notice the switch, as the other inmate had been in solitary confinement up to the point at which he and Assane changed places.
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  • All That Glitters: The necklace that the three Loan Sharks attempt to make off with is a fake made for Assane by his friend Benjamin.
  • Amicable Exes: Assane and his ex-girlfriend Claire have remained on good terms.
  • Anachronic Order: The present timeline is regularly intercut with flashbacks which contextualize the events occurring currently.
  • The Annotated Edition: Assane gives Raoul his old copy of the Arsène Lupin book, which has his own notes scribbled all over it.
  • Apathetic Citizens: While Assane and Claire's backs are turned, Raoul gets abducted by Pellegrini's henchman. From a crowded beach, in broad daylight. And none of the many people standing near him seem to have noticed.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Played straight with Hubert Pellegrini, but downplayed for his wife and daughter, who respectively come across as being weak-willed and snobby but not outright malicious.
  • Artistic License: Raoul's fourteenth birthday is established to be on December 11th, 2020. However, this fell on a Friday, and December 11th is not typically part of the Christmas holiday as observed by French schools, which means that Raoul would have had to have skipped school in order to take a day trip to Étretat with his parents. No indication is given that he did so.
  • Artistic License – History: The Marie Antoinette necklace doesn't look like its historical counterpart (which has disappeared, but copies have survived).
  • Auction: The necklace heist takes place during the object's auction sale. The price starts at €17 million.
  • Asshole Victim: In one of the flashbacks of Assane's early con-man life, we see him clean out a old woman of all her valuables... while she brags about her family having been involved in colonialism, gushing right in front of him about how the diamonds he's swindling off of her were stolen from people in Africa. He even gains her trust by playing on her disdain of the poor.
  • Badass Longcoat: Assane's long black coat qualifies.
  • Batman Gambit: The Marie Antoinette necklace heist has Assane expecting the gang to betray him and get all the police attention on themselves like thugs of their kind usually do, thereby allowing him to steal the necklace under everyone's nose while throwing the fake one on the ground.
  • Bear Hug: Assane gives these to Raoul.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Assane and Claire spend a lot of time playfully bickering.
  • Betty and Veronica: Caring Girl Next Door Claire is the Betty to the colder, wealthier Juliette's Veronica. Due to their respective hair colors, they also qualify as Light Feminine and Dark Feminine. Fittingly, Juliette is drawn to Assane's more roguish side, as opposed to Claire who falls for Assane when he calls himself a gentleman.
  • The Big Board: Guédira makes one in order to formulate his theory about the connections between the crimes the police are dealing with and the Arsène Lupin stories.
  • Birthday Episode: The fifth episode takes place on December 11, the birthday of both Raoul and Maurice Leblanc (the creator of the Arsène Lupin character).
  • Black and Nerdy: Babakar, Assane and Raoul are all Lupin-loving nerds.
  • Black Is Bigger in Bed: A young Juliette invokes this when seducing 14 year old Assane when he comes at the house of the Pelligrinis... even though the thing she ends up saying is that she heard Black people "can't swim well".
  • Bodybag Trick: Employed by Assane to get out of prison after faking suicide.
  • Book Safe: When he was 14, Assane hollowed out the Bible he was given to hide Arsène Lupin novels in it.
  • Boring Insult: After Assane breaks off his and Juliette's affair in order to commit to his relationship with Claire, Juliette complains that, among other supposed sins, Claire's name is boring.
  • Brand X:
    • "Deli + Eats" stands in for Uber Eats.
    • Dumont's Siri/Alexa-like virtual assistant is called "Circe."
  • The Caper: The theft of the Marie Antoinette's necklace at the Louvre Museum at the start of the series, with Assane mounting his own Caper Crew for that purpose.
  • Caper Rationalization: Assane commits thefts as part of his revenge scheme against the Pellegrini family.
  • Catchphrase: Assane often asks his interlocutors: "Have you heard of X?", quickly demonstrates it, and concludes "Now you know." X can be a Pressure Point, a handcuff trick, or The Mysterious Traveler.
  • Chevalier vs. Rogue: The teenaged Claire invokes this trope near verbatim when she talks about the way she sees men (and claims not to like either category). Assane argues that he falls into a third type, the gentleman.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: Claire stops just short of doing this in 1995 when she tells Assane that she likes the idea that they'll always be there for one another.
  • Chilly Reception: Assane gets one in prison.
  • Clear My Name: Outside of getting revenge against the Pellegrini family, Assane's main drive is to prove that his deceased father was not guilty of stealing the diamond necklace and was framed for it instead.
  • Cliffhanger: The ending of the fifth episode has Raoul getting kidnapped, Claire and Assane desperately searching for him, and Assane finally getting confronted by Guedira.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Juliette struggles to decide whether to believe Assane or her father regarding Babakar's imprisonment. She eventually goes with her father.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: One of Assane's capers sees him hide Dumont in City Hall—the place he'd originally kidnapped him from. It's a completely ridiculous idea and it works exactly as Assane expected it to.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Assane can adapt to a great variety of situations, and if events don't seem to go his way, look again, he's always one step ahead. Well, at least until his family is endangered.
  • Crystal-Ball Scheduling: While it's not a direct adaptation of the Arsène Lupin stories, it essentially updates them for the twenty-first century, with Assane recreating many of Lupin's famous heists, and with many of the other characters being inspired by actual Lupin characters. Usually, in-story, this is referenced by someone in the episode reading the corresponding Lupin adventure, and at least in the early episodes the stories were in publishing order.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: The other police officers are alternately amused or dismayed by Guedira's attempts to link the crimes they are investigating with the Arsène Lupin stories; however, this makes him the only one who is able to deduce what Assane's plans really are.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The third episode focuses on Assane's checkered past with Dumont, the fourth on his friendship with Fabienne, and the fifth on his longstanding romantic relationship with Claire.
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: Averted, as no snow is seen during the the trip to Normandy, which takes place on December 11. Significant snowfall in this part of France is rare even in winter.
  • Easily Forgiven: It seems that Claire can rarely stay upset with Assane for very long.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: In episode 4, Assane appears suddenly at Dumont's table and announces his presence by biting into his piece of bread and jam. Assane then dips it into his coffee, to deepen the insult.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Fabienne's dog, J'accuse, is trained to bark whenever he hears the name "Pellegrini."
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Guedira has one when he figures out the that Assane's aliases are Significant Anagrams.
  • Expy: The crux of the series is that Assane is a modern day Arsène Lupin, as in Gentleman Thief and Phantom Thief who pulls off high profile heists, but with his own different background. He styles himself after the character In-Universe, having been a fan since his teenage years.
    • Not just Assane, either. Many of the other characters are at least inspired by people encountered by the actual Arsène Lupin.
      • Youssef Guedira has been confirmed by Omar Sy to be an updated version of Inspector Ganimard, a police officer who makes repeated attempts to catch Lupin.
      • Babakar is largely based on Lupin's mother Henriette d'Andrésy (who was also mistreated while working for a wealthy family); however, his death in prison appears to have been inspired by the fate of Lupin's father Theomnaste.
      • Claire has some similarities with Clarisse d'Etigues, Lupin's childhood sweetheart who was largely unaware of his criminal activity.
      • Josephine Balsamo, one of the major antagonists in the Lupin books, has her characterization split between Hubert and Juliette Pellegrini.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The third and fifth episodes each cover only a single day (October 27thnote  and December 11th 2020, respectively). The fourth, on the other hand, seems to cover the entire month of November.
  • Flashback: How most of the characters' backstories are revealed.
  • Frameup:
    • Assane's father was accused by Hubert Pellegrini of stealing the necklace in the 1990s. Anne Pellegrini then made him sign a fake confession for the theft, after which he gets sent to prison. The whole ordeal is set up to make it look as if it drove him to commit suicide, but the presence of Pelligrini's henchman Leonard right before Assane's father is found dead hints that he was murdered and it was made to look like a suicide.
    • Assane attempts to frame Pellegrini's Mook Leonard for being behind the robbery of the necklace by slipping one of the diamonds into his pocket and then calling the police; however, Reality Ensues when the cops find out that he bears little physical resemblance to descriptions of the actual thief (which is to say, Assane) and that he has a solid alibi for the time of the theft.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Although Assane claims that he's happy that Claire is trying to move on from him, he's pretty clearly jealous, to the point where Raoul calls him out on it.
  • Gay Paree: Somewhat subverted, in that you get glimpses of the banlieues and prisons of Paris in addition to shots of the Louvre, the Seine and the Sacré-Coeur.
  • Get into Jail Free: The second episode has Assane switch places in jail with an inmate in order to get closer to the inmate who shared his cell with his father, not needing to cause trouble to get in there.
  • Good Is Boring: Juliette seems to believe this.
    Assane: I'm a good guy, Juliette.
    Juliette: Oh, no, no. No, not at all. You're not a good guy at all. That's what I like.
  • Gut Feeling: Guedira doesn't really have any fact-based reason to believe that Assane will be in Étretat on December 11th. However, his intuition turns out to be correct.
  • Heist Episode: The first episode focuses on Assane's elaborate plot to steal Marie-Antoinette's necklace.
  • He Knows Too Much: Dumont kicks Guedira off of the necklace theft case because he is beginning to piece everything together.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Assane and Benjamin have this dynamic.
  • Hidden Depths: Dumont seems like a dirty cop, but it's also shown that he's not a racist and was in fact consumed with guilt over his role in Babakar's Frame-Up.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: This is Assane's modus operandi.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Assane has some debts towards a bunch of Loan Sharks, and the strongest of them holds him over the edge of their several stories tall building for failing to pay them.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Assane is a skilled hacker. He easily gets into the Ministry of the Interior's prison files to search for clues to clear his father's name.
  • Hospital Hottie: The nurse at the prison's infirmary is quite attractive (without any sort of fanservice). She wonders if Assane keeps coming back at the infirmary just because he has a crush on her (it's actually just to get closer to the dying inmate).
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Assane is a full foot taller than Claire. Averted in their teenage years, though, where the two appear to be around the same size. Apparently Assane had a massive growth spurt sometime after 1995.
  • Identical Stranger: Assane and the other Deli + Eats deliverymen are indistinguishable to the police due to their identical outfits.
  • Implausible Deniability: A lot of the claims Assane makes to Claire about what he's doing come across as being this. She's often suspicious that he's lying, but is unable to get him to admit to what's really going on.
  • Instant Sedation: Gets a good punch of Reality Ensues during the necklace heist — spraying chloroform on someone's face won't sedate the person instantly as Assane's crew finds out. Either Assane probably knew this all along and just messed with them, knowing they would betray him, or they were just too dumb to think about using it on a piece of cloth to concentrate as much sedative as possible in the guards' face.
  • Ironic Juxtaposition: In one of the flashbacks, Assane tells Claire that he will do everything he can to protect their then-unborn child. Minutes later, in the present timeline, Assane's actions indirectly lead to Raoul getting kidnapped by Leonard.
  • It Was a Gift: The Arsène Lupin book given to Assane by his father.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: Assane favors such disguises to go Beneath Notice.
    • He infiltrates the Louvre Museum as a cleaner for recon purposes. His Caper Crew then does the same in the first part of the necklace heist (they don security guard suits afterwards), while himself plays Mock Millionaire.
    • He disguises himself as a Uber Eats-knockoff deliveryman on bicycle for the rendezvous with Juliette.
  • Knew It All Along: Assane anticipated that Vincent, Kevin and Rudy would betray him during the Louvre heist, and made contingency plans accordingly.
  • Lampshade Hanging: At one point Claire tells Assane that the Arsène Lupin stories are unrealistic, because he never gets caught. This can be read as the show poking fun at the implausibility of some of Assane's capers.
  • Last Request: The dying inmate who knew Assane's father in prison asks Assane to "make his wife smile". To fulfill his request, Assane slips into her house and leaves her one of the diamonds from the necklace.
  • Locomotive Level: Assane fights Leonard on a train.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Raoul was an unplanned child, and Claire is shown to have been quite anxious about Assane's reaction when she told him she was pregnant.
  • Lost in Translation: In the English dub of one of the flashback scenes, Assane tells Claire that he's the man of her dreams. However, what he actually says in the original French is "Je suis l'homme de ta vie," or "I'm the man of your life." Understanding that helps make Claire's response (that he technically is, since he's her only male friend) make a lot more sense.
  • Love Hurts: Claire spends a lot of time begging Assane to tell her the truth about what he's doing and wishing he would devote far more of his attention to her and Raoul. Assane constantly promises to honor her wishes but never actually does.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: It appears that the more Assane's emotions come into play, the more mistakes he makes when carrying out his crimes.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Assane" sounds a lot like the French pronunciation of "Arsène," although it's not entirely clear whether or not this was intentional.
    • Fabienne's dog is named J'accuse ("I accuse"). This was the title of famous letter by Emile Zola that became part of the Dreyfus Affair involving a racially motivated Miscarriage of Justice in which a man was falsely imprisoned for theft, similar to what happened to Assane's father.
  • Missing Child: Raoul, as of the end of the first five episodes.
  • Missing Mom: Assane's mother is completely absent in the flashbacks; it's implied that she died when he was young.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Played with in that Assane uses his wealthy but socially conscious targets' fear of this to his advantage.
    Auctioneer: I must admit, Monsieur Sernine, that I wasn't expecting someone like you as a buyer.
    Assane: (frowns) Like me...what do you mean?
    Auctioneer: (laughs nervously) Well—so young.
  • Mock Millionaire: Assane attends the auction for the necklace disguised as a rich bidder named "Paul Sernine", complete with a fake Wikipedia page stating that he has a net worth of €576 million.
  • Mood Dissonance: Assane pauses his interrogation with Dumont to have an emotional phone conversation with Claire about the state of his relationship with their son, and her worries about him.
  • My Car Hates Me: The fact that you can drive a Ferrari in a video game doesn't mean you can drive one in Real Life. Rudy, one of the loan sharks in the first episode, learns this the hard way, leading to the arrests of him and his accomplices.
  • The Nameless:
    • Pellegrini's henchman is called Leonard, while the old woman who gets swindled by Assane is named Agatha Van Der Meulen. Neither name is ever actually spoken in the series; it is only through the credits that they can be identified as such.
    • In a milder example, Claire is the only major character whose last name is not given.
  • Nice Shoes: Assane's Air Jordans have generated a lot of attention in Real Life.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: The "chloroform in spray" part of the necklace heist doesn't work as intended so Assane's crew resorts to fighting and KOing the Louvre guards in the locker room and security camera monitoring room.
  • Not So Different: In order to get on Assane's good side, Dumont attempts to claim this about himself and Babakar (i.e. both did questionable things for the sake of their children).
  • Once More, with Clarity!:
    • Episode 1: Assane got his Louvre janitor job because the woman in charge originates from Senegal just like him so they easily bonded over it, he lied about his identity to the loan sharks and threw the necklace in a trash can in the struggle in order to retrieve it later as a janitor. And he expected them to betray him all along.
    • Episode 2: How Assane fakes suicide to get out of prison — he built himself a safety harness with a basketball basket's net so the hanging won't be fatal, and swallowed some meds to reduce his heartbeats.
  • Offscreen Crash: The loan sharks wind up crashing their getaway car through the glass roof of the subterranean section of the Louvre and getting stuck in a large glass sculpture; the actual crash happens offscreen. When we see them next, they are being unceremoniously arrested by the police.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The only time Assane really breaks down is when he sees that Fabienne has died.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: While interrogating Dumont about Babakar's imprisonment, Assane briefly loses his cool and yells about "my father," instantly revealing his identity.
  • Outgambitted: Happens all over the place. Generally Assane is the one doing it to his foes, but there are moments where Pellegrini manages to outsmart him.
  • Pac Man Fever: Assane is seen playing video games with his son. The footage onscreen is Horizon Zero Dawn, a real game, but the show acts like it's a multiplayer game (it's not), and at the end of the scene Assane's son claims he headshotted Assane's character, despite the footage on the screen not being split-screen.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Diop often uses the ingrained racism of his enemies, or even passerby, to fool them into overlooking him or dropping their guard - particularly when in wealthy spaces. Flashbacks of the senior Pellegrinis, in particular, indicate both of them as having racist habits, Mr. Pellegini especially.
  • "Reading Is Cool" Aesop: Assane's father encouraged his son to read when he offered him a Arsène Lupin novel, and Assane did the same with his son, who dropped playing video games as a result.
  • Rewatch Bonus: In the prison flashback scene in the first episode, there's a brief glance of Pellegrini's henchman Leonard through the visiting room window... right before Assane's father is found dead as an apparent suicide, hanging in his cell. A few episodes later, in the present, Fabienne is murdered by Leonard who makes it look like a suicide by hanging
  • Roofhopping: Assane uses this to get away from Leonard.
  • Running Gag: Fabienne has trained her dog to bark any time "Pellegrini" is said around him. It comes up multiple times after the initial scene.
  • Scholarship Student: An Anonymous Benefactor (later revealed to be Anne Pellegrini) paid a scholarship in a prestigious high school to Assane after his father's death.
  • Shower of Angst: Dumont takes a shower in the third episode, after his kidnapping.
  • The Shrink: In a flashback sequence, Claire visits one to unload about her and Assane's romantic woes.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The name of the College d'Andrésy (aka Assane's boarding school) is taken from the maiden name of Arsène Lupin's mother.
    • "Raoul" is canonically Lupin's middle name, and one of his aliases.
  • Significant Anagram: The aliases Assane takes, "Luis Perenna" and "Paul Sernine", are both anagrams of "Arsène Lupin".
  • Silly Reason for War: Assane's untrue claim about why he was held up on the train to Le Havre certainly falls under this:
    Claire: Where were you the whole time?
    Assane: I got in a fight.
    Claire: What?!
    Assane: Yeah, but listen. I met a guy who said that The Mysterious Traveller is the best Arsène Lupin story.
    Raoul: So? It's good.
    Assane: But it's not the best. So I explain it to the guy, nicely and politely. He got worked up, and took it all wrong.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: The younger versions of Assane, Claire, Juliette Pellegrini and Benjamin Férel in flashbacks are played by age-appropriate actors and actresses.
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: Assane takes Raoul on a walk and offers him the Arsène Lupin novel he got from his father at the end of the first episode. Later, he visits Raoul and plays video games with him.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Claire's therapist is understandably flummoxed by her loyalty to Assane, given that he lies to her constantly, frequently blows off their engagements, and generally fails to meet even the lowest possible standard of being a good boyfriend.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Claire rejects three of Assane's suggestions for the name of their child ("Maurice" [after Leblanc], "Assane Junior" and, of course, "Arsène") before accepting "Raoul."
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: When in prison, Assane goads another inmate to stab him with a shiv, so he can get to the infirmary and talk to the inmate who shared his father's cell.

Alternative Title(s): Lupin


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