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Series / Millennium (1996)

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who cares?
— opening titles, first season

Millennium was a FOX show created by Chris Carter, best known for The X-Files. Lasting three seasons, 1996-1999, it starred Lance Henriksen as ex-FBI agent Frank Black, a consultant to various police forces investigating violent crimes with the mysterious Millennium Group. The show had different executive producers and was retooled significantly for each season, leading to three seasons that felt like three slightly different shows. Throughout the series' run, however, the overall tone remained dark and disturbing, which did not appeal to mainstream television viewers, but earned the respect of a devoted group of fans.

The first season focused primarily on Frank's work as The Profiler, consulting with police forces in catching violent criminals, usually serial killers. The audience saw brief clips of Frank's perception of what the criminals saw, but it was left deliberately vague whether these were psychic visions, or just Frank's non-supernatural, but highly skilled, insights into the criminals' minds. Forays into the supernatural were few and ambiguous in the first season.

The second season delved much deeper into the nature of the Millennium Group and the apocalyptic themes which were behind it. A major theme was the schism in the Group between "Owls" and "Roosters," two factions with different views of the approaching millennium and how it should be handled. It also brought in clearly supernatural themes, angels and demons, and made Frank's visions explicitly psychic.

The third season saw Frank leave the Millennium Group due to their actions at the end of the second season, and return to the FBI. Its subject material was somewhere between the first and second seasons: it returned to some extent to the criminal-of-the-week format of the first season, but also explored mystical and religious themes, and the nature of the Millennium Group as in the second season.

After cancellation, the show received a Fully Absorbed Finale in The X-Files episode "Millennium." The episode was included with the DVD release of the final season of Millennium.

The Fully Absorbed Finale was not well-received by fans, however. Internet fans created an entire fourth season of Fan Fic scripts to give the show a proper ending.

....and now IDW Publishing (which also has the rights for X-Files comic books) is going to launch its own continuation series line, penned by the series creators.

This series is not to be confused with the various other works named Millennium.

For tropes used in specific episodes, see Millennium episode recaps

This show provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Evil: Steven Kiley in "Goodbye, Charlie". He lets sick and dying people kill themselves. Does he do it because he wants to end their suffering or because he enjoys it?
  • Arc Words: "This is who we are" and "The time is now."
  • Angels in Overcoats: Sammael was an angel with an overcoat.
  • Argentina Is Nazi-Land: In the second season episode "Roosters," it is revealed that the Nazis set up corporations in Argentina and Paraguay as part of Odessa, a long-term plan to end the Millennium Group.
  • Artistic License Medicine: In "Walkabout", Peter Watts says that thalidomide was administered to prevent miscarriages, which is false. It was administered to treat morning sickness.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: In "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me", a group of demons who appear as elderly men to regular humans discuss their work with each other in a late-night coffee shop. When one of them rudely asks for a cup, the clerk gives him his order after peeing in it. The demon apparently think this is hilarious and later commends the clerk for it.
  • Blessed with Suck: Frank's ability to see the world through the eyes of serial killers and murderers. Sure, it's useful but who would WANT that? The fact that Jordan seems to be developing powers similar to his own clearly terrifies him.
  • Breather Episode: "Jose Chung's Doomday Defense" and "Somehow Satan Got Behind Me". Given how dark the series was, these were necessary to keep the audience sane.
  • Buried Alive: In the pilot episode, the victims having their mouths and eyes sewn shut, and then being nailed into coffins. While still alive.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Implied to be the future of one of the kidnapped children in "19:19".
  • Crossover: With The X-Files character José Chung in "José Chung's Doomsday Defense". He's a writer who appeared in the very popular episode "José Chung's From Outer Space".
  • Darker and Edgier: Much of the humor that offset The X-Files' horror is absent here.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "The Well-Worn Lock" focuses on Frank Black's wife Catherine, usually a supporting character, in her job as a social worker. It's also reminiscent of a Very Special Episode, as instead of a deranged Serial Killer or an Ancient Conspiracy, it deals with domestic violence by a father who sexually abuses his daughters.
  • Deal with the Devil: Legion keeps offering it to Frank through various guises. Subverted in that Frank never accepts despite all the threats to his family. Some of Frank's targets play this straight.
  • The Devil: Legion, described as "the devil's liege, the base sum of all evil".
  • The Devil Is a Loser: "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me," which subverts much of the rest of the show's darkness.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The "blood plague" that breaks out in the season 2 finale. Thanks to Executive Meddling, the world got better in time for season 3.
  • Fan Disservice: In the pilot, The Frenchman (a disturbed serial killer) is watching a private performance by a stripper. Then he starts mumbling apocalyptic poetry, and hallucinates that the stripper is covered in blood and dancing in front of a wall of fire.
  • Finger in the Mail: The serial killer variation showed up where a sinister figure known as "the Judge" has criminals committing vigilante killings and mailing body parts to the victims' victims.
  • For the Evulz: Rick Van Horn in "Closure" kills people for fun. Yet he Ain't Too Proud to Beg for help when he got severely injured when Emma crashed her car.
  • Freak Out: Lara Means has an epic hallucination in "The Time is Now. Unfortunately, it's followed by a Heroic BSoD.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Jim Horn in "Dead Letters." He was a potential Millennium candidate; this character trait gives them cause to reject him. Also, this is a threat for Frank throughout the series.
  • Historical Rapsheet: In "Maranatha", the bad guy is introduced when he causes the Chernobyl disaster before the episode flashes to the present.
  • I Am Legion: Frank's true nemesis, of which Lucy Butler is only one face.
  • Initiation Ceremony: Which drove Lara Means insane in the second season finale
  • "The Mikado" featured an elusive killer who broadcast his latest murders over the internet, killing whom he tied up in front of a camera when the counter on the screen (signifying the number of visitors to the website) reached a specific number.
  • Music Video Syndrome: An entire act of the season 2 finale is essentially a music video for Patti Smith's "Land".
  • Next Sunday A.D.: In the first two seasons, the login message on Frank's computer tells him how many days are remaining until 1/1/00.
  • One-Word Title: Named after the organization the protagonist serves, the Millennium Group.
  • Ouroboros: Serves as the Millennium Group's logo.
  • Parental Incest: The episode "The Well-Worn Lock" features Catherine Black in her job as a social worker having to deal with a domestic abuse situation. The father had already sexually abused one of his daughters and impregnated her, but she carried the child to term and continued to live with her parents because she had nowhere else to go. When she starts seeing signs that he's going to repeat it with his younger daughter/granddaughter, she finally goes to the authorities. Even then it's a long and arduous process to prove his guilt and get him convicted.
  • Police Psychic: Lance Black is a former FBI agent turned freelance consultant, who has an uncanny ability to get into the mindspace of killers and other criminals a trait that he uses to help his old colleagues. Later seasons made it clear that this was a psychic ability.
  • The Profiler: Lance Henriksen stars as ex-FBI agent turned FBI consultant Frank Black, who would frequently share his thoughts on elusive killers with his old colleagues. The first season was ambiguous whether Frank's insights were just a keen sense of intuition or were actually supernatural in origin. Later seasons make these visions unambiguously psychic, however.
  • Serial Killer: Most of the bad guys Frank Black faces are either murderers or serial murderers.
  • Series Continuity Error/Retcon:
    • The plague released at the end of the second season, projected to kill a significant fraction of the population of the North American west coast, instead kills less than a hundred people, which is never adequately explained, despite the fact that the writers actually had real science on their side note .
    • We learn that J. Edgar Hoover founded the Millennium Group, after learning in the previous season that the Group's history dates back at least to The Middle Ages.
  • Shapeshifting: Lucy Butler. In addition to her "regular" female form, she has a male and a demonic one.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense", the hospital is named after The X-Files producer Frank Spotnitz, and David Duchovny appears on movie posters as actor Bobby Wingood.
    • In "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me", a devil appears as a red CGI dancing baby, referencing the dancing baby meme from Ally McBeal that became an early Internet meme.
  • Sigil Spam: Everything connected to the Group bears the ouroboros.
  • Special Guest: KISS, "... Thirteen Years Later."
  • Starter Villain: The first Serial Killer to be investigated by Frank in the pilot is only known as "The Frenchman" and is shot dead by the end of the episode. Although not the worst killer to be encountered by Frank, the Frenchman has the dubious distinction of being one of the craziest ones, clearly hallucinating at several points and convinced he was personally sending all his victims to Hell.
  • Sweater Girl: A female friend of Catherine Black mentions that she was the "favorite student" of (male lecturer at college). Catherine replies: "I wore tight sweaters."
  • Sympathy for the Devil: In "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me", a group of demons discuss how they go about their business to spread evil and their run-ins with Frank Black, who can see their true forms. When one of the demons begins a relationship with a human woman but finds himself compelled to drive her to suicide anyway, Frank sees the demon crying and remarks "You must be so lonely".
  • Villain Episode: "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me". The show's main character Frank Black only appears sporadically, with the episode proper centering on four demons discussing their different strategies about how to spread misery and death. All things considered, these demons are actually pretty lame.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Frank and Lara's unique perceptions of reality lead to mental breakdowns. Frank initially seems to have recovered from his; by the third season, however, he's again fraying at the edges.

Alternative Title(s): Millennium