Follow TV Tropes


Series / Motive

Go To
A Canadian crime/mystery drama which started running in 2013, set in Vancouver, British Columbia. It blends elements of Police Procedural and Criminal Procedural in a unique format: the audience already knows the murderer and the victim; what the audience learns, through a combination of the unfolding investigation, conducted by Detectives Angelika "Angie" Flynn and Oscar Vega, as well as flashback sequences, are the events leading up to the murder and the motive for that murder.

It premiered on CTV following the Super Bowl; its first season finished on May 16, 2013 and the show was renewed for a second season, airing starting March 6, 2014. A third season aired starting on March 8, 2015 and ending June 7, 2015. A fourth and final season aired from March 22, 2016 to August 30, 2016.

The series also got picked up by ABC for a summer run of its first season in 2013, but after poor season 2 ratings in the United States, ABC stopped airing the show. Since then, however, it was picked up by USA Network and they aired seasons 3 and 4 for American viewers. It has since been made available on DVD and through iTunes.

There is a parallel show of sorts, the TV series "The Dark Corner", which fits roughly sometime within the period of Season 1.

Be aware that possible episode plot twists or reveals may not be spoiler-tagged unless they occur in Season 4, or would spoil major arc-based reveals in Seasons 1 through 3.


The motives for these tropes are as follows:

  • Absence of Evidence: In "Creeping Tom", when the police arrive at the scene of the crime, they find the Body of the Week is guarded by an angry guard dog that barks at anyone who tries to approach the body. Later Angie realises that while the dog barked at all the police, it did not bark when the intruder was in the house, meaning it was someone the dog knew and trusted.
  • Accidental Murder: In "Foreign Relations", the killer attempts to slip a mickey to the Victim of the Week so she can interrogate him. However, she gets the dose wrong and he dies of an overdose.
  • All Women Love Shoes: In "The Score", a waitress shows Paula and Angie the shoes that the Victim of the Week bought her, and Paula immediately identifies them as a $3000 pair of shoes. This is totally lost on Angie, who can only wonder at a pair of shoes that cost as much as a vacation in Costa Rica.
  • Advertisement:
  • Angry Guard Dog: In "Creeping Tom", when the police arrive at the scene of the crime, they find the Body of the Week is guarded by an angry guard dog that barks at anyone who tries to approach the body. Later Angie realises that while the dog barked at all the police, it did not bark when the intruder was in the house, meaning it was someone the dog knew and trusted.
  • Artistic License – Law: Because the show has to appeal to an American audience as well as a Canadian one, "Crown counsel" is replaced by "prosecution", and Angie and Oscar speak of "felony offences" rather than "indictable offences". Other changes like this are in the show.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: British Columbia has a single-payer health insurance system, so "Frampton Comes Alive" is a bit of an inaccurate portrayal of the extent to which "extended medical" companies' insurance denial can affect people. Then again, considering that the episode centres on a manipulative, passive-agressive Asshole Victim, it's entirely possible he'd just been lying to blackmail his clients for kickbacks.
  • Asshole Victim: Depends on who the Victim of the Week is. Can also be applied to the killer, too.
    • A definite "asshole murderer", if ever there was one, is Stephanie Carson in "Calling the Shots".
    • "Glass Houses" features a definite asshole victim in the form of a controlling douchebag who is strongly implied to have abducted a child approximately a decade before the events of that episode.
    • "Pilot Error" features a stalker, Chelsea, who is killed in self-defence by Brad.
    • "Fallen" has Perry, who impersonates another artist to profit off him and uses this assumed identity to goad an eager fan into becoming his fall guy.
  • Attack Backfire: In "Purgatory", Vega tells a suspect to drop their lighter. Their response? "As you wish", upon which they drop the lit lighter right into the pool of gasoline surrounding the intended victim.
  • Autopsy Snack Time: Angie and Betty often share a glass of wine in the lab; although usually not while there is a body on the slab.
  • The Beard: The Victim of the Week in "Overboard" is married to a gay entrepreneur; allowing him to continue seeing his boyfriend while maintaining an acceptable facade for his Catholic family, with the wife to be richly rewarded after five years of marriage. Although the cops investigate this angle, it turns out to be a Red Herring that has nothing to do with the murder.
  • Benevolent Boss:
    • Angie to her son, Manny. She catches him with his rather well-endowed girlfriend, doesn't throw a fit, and casually wonders how much the boob job cost.
    • Both of Angie's supervisors, Boyd Bloom and Mark Cross, are fair-minded and are not abusive.
    • In the fourth season, Angie's supervisor is Oscar Vega, who continues to be the same thoughtful and fair-minded man he was as her partner.
  • Bikini Bar: "Undertow" opens in one (referred to as a 'strip club') that a drug dealer is using as his base of operations. Angie and Oscar later visit during the course of their investigation.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: A common bit as often the killer (and sometimes the victim) is revealed to be less innocent than they seem.
    • In "Bad Blonde", Heather turns out to be controlling and manipulative. She's the killer, and she ropes in another person who is too nice to turn her down even when she's making impossible demands. In a twist, it turns out her friend, Gordon, also qualifies because he goaded her into attacking the victim by making it appear as though the victim was cheating on her.
    • A key one is "The Frog and the Scorpion" as when a murder occurs similar to a past one, it seems the woman in jail for the crime is innocent. It's revealed that it was the woman's therapist who committed the recent murder and framed an unstable patient for it as he'd fallen in love with the convict and believed in her innocence. After he pulls it off and she's freed, they unite only for her to stab him and as he lays dying, he realizes too late she was guilty after all and using him to get free.
    • While not as murderous, Rick Wyatt from "Frampton Comes Alive" is an incredibly nasty piece of work. Among other things, he all but poisons a celiac co-worker, blackmails a client with a cancer-stricken son, harasses his neighbour incessantly and ultimately kills the neighbour's dying wife by cutting off the power to her medical equipment. And why? The neighbour would occasionally have friendly conversations with his wife. Fittingly, his neighbour, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, murders him in retaliation.
  • Body of the Week: As this is a homicide Police Procedural show, there is usually a dead body involved.
  • Bound and Gagged: In "The Scorpion and the Frog", the murderer, who is a psychiatrist, leaves himself bound and gagged as part of a scheme to frame one his patients for murder.
  • The Boxing Episode: In "Brute Force", Angie and Oscar investigate the murder of boxer Mark "The Machine" Mason, who is found stabbed to death on the floor of his gym. Oscar is shown to be a boxing fan (or, at least, a fan of Mason's).
  • Broken Pedestal: Angie is rocked when a judge she considered her mentor and good friend is murdered. She's more stunned when, in the course of the investigation, she discovers the judge had been taking kickbacks for sending juvenile offenders to a certain "boot camp" jail.
  • Bunker Woman: The Victim of the Week in "Frampton Comes Alive" turns out to be keeping his wife prisoner in a bunker beneath their garage.
  • Butt-Monkey: Detective Brian Lucas, but starting to be averted in season two as he's ahead of all of Angie Flynn's and Oscar Vega's requests and even manages to answer the Superintendent when put on the spot about a case. In a bit of a Brick Joke, Angie nicks his coffee and then a couple episodes later, is the one bringing three coffees: one for her, one for Vega, and one for Lucas. In Season 3, Angie is so happy to be back in the saddle she starts butting in on Lucas's work again.
  • Buddy Cop Show: The main characters are Detectives Angie Flynn and Oscar Vega, often shown solving cases together.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Detective Brian Lucas is a fussy Camp Straight junior detective who is constantly teased by the others, but he's also extremely competent and is fiercely dedicated to his job.
  • Cain and Abel: 'Brute Force' and 'The Vanishing Policeman' both involve a man killing his brother - and it's not necessarily the Cain of the family doing the killing.
  • Car Cushion: The Victim of the Week in "A Problem Like Maria" is thrown through a 7th storey window, coming to rest on/in a car that is parked in the street below.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: In "The Score", a bar owner being strong-armed by a couple of mob types has a stool broken over his head.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Flynn is a race car nut (as is her son) and her knowledge of cars comes in handy in "Crimes of Passion", and then again in "Raw Deal".
  • Chute Sabotage: In "Pitfall", the Victim of the Week is murdered when the killer swaps out his parachute for one that has the lines on both the main and reserve canopies cut.
  • Coffin Contraband: In "Fallen Angel", a cache of stolen diamonds is buried in an old grave in a no longer active cemetery. However, the thief was arrested and sent to prison so the diamonds stayed there for 20 years.
  • The Coroner: Betty Rogers. Some of her traits are similar to Alexx from CSI: Miami, although she doesn't do much of a "Speaker for the Dead" theme for the victims, unlike Alexx.
  • Cover Identity Anomaly: In "The Vanishing Policeman", the murderer is posing as a police officer in order to stage a fake suicide. However, in watching video of the 'suicide', Angie notices that he was wearing his baton on his right side. Angie knew that the officer in question had been wounded the week before and, as the baton rubbed against his stitches, he had moved it from the right hand side of his belt to the left.
  • Cramming the Coffin: In "Fallen Angel", a thief used a grave in an old cemetery to hide a cache of stolen diamonds. He also uses the grave to dispose of the body of his partner, whom he has just murdered.
  • Crowbar Combatant: In "Purgatory", the killer smashes a lawyer over the head with a crowbar before tying him to a chair and planning to turn him into a Man on Fire.
  • invokedThe CSI Effect: Lampshaded in "Crimes of Passion", when Detective Vega is texted by forensics, and Flynn looks at her watch and remarks that it was pretty fast.
    Vega: I have friends in forensics.
    • Weaponized by Angie in "Against All Odds". She manages to bluff the murderer into disposing her crowbar and implicating herself by claiming that technology can trace scratches to a specific crowbar.
  • Cutting the Knot: In "Foreign Relations", a computer genius working for a white supremacist Western Terrorist group hacks into air traffic control towers and sets planes on a collision course. When the police bust into her hideout they find that the program is encrypted and they can’t get in to stop it. So they just unplug the computer and stop it that way.
  • Cut the Juice: In "Foreign Relations", a computer genius working for a white supremacist Western Terrorist group hacks into air traffic control towers and sets planes on a collision course. When the police bust into her hideout they find that the program is encrypted and they can’t get in to stop it. So they just unplug the computer and stop it that way.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: In "Purgatory", a strip club owner returns to his car to find it has been broken into. He climbs inside, and is surprised by the killer in his back seat who proceeds to interrogate him. He then goes for the gun he has hidden in the car, only to learn the killer has already found it and taken it. Things then get worse for him.
  • Dark Secret: Angie Flynn and Mark Cross have one. They reveal during the second season that they falsified a report about who shot first in a standoff with an abusive husband.
  • Deadly Bath: In "Index Case", the Victim of the Week is killed when his murderer releases toxic gas in his flotation tank.
  • Dead Man's Switch: In "The Dead Hand", a woman wearing an explosive vest takes over the squadroom and hold Angie hostage. The bomb is linked to dead man's switch consisting of a heart rate monitor: if her heart stops, the bomb goes off.
  • Death by Falling Over:
    • In "Abandoned", the killer shoves the Victim of the Week during a heated argument and the victim falls and strikes her head on a kitchen bench. Thinking the victim is dead, the killer panics. However, the victim is still alive. Or, she was, until the killer decided to stage a Fiery Cover Up.
    • In "The Score", the Victim of the Week and his killer get into a fight in a barroom that ends when the victim slams his head into a beer tap.
  • Destination Defenestration: The Victim of the Week in "A Problem Like Maria" is killed by being thrown face first through a 7th storey window.
  • Disappointed by the Motive: In "The Dead Hand", Angie is rather underwhelmed to learn that what set off a series of Disaster Dominoes resulting in a double homicide, a Miscarriage of Justice and a hostage situation (where she was the hostage) was a guy wanting to be with his new girlfriend without the hassle of a divorce.
  • Disposing of a Body: A large chunk of "Bad Blonde" consists of the killer and her best friend attempting to work out the best way to dispose of the corpse of the Victim of the Week. They still have the body when they are arrested.
  • Domestic Abuse: The Victim of the Week in "The Vanishing Policeman" is a cop who is physically abusing his wife and emotionally abusing his son. He is murdered by his estranged brother who sees him turning into a clone of their abusive father.
  • Dumbass Teenage Son: Manny is introduced like this in Season One but quickly subverts it, eventually maturing, travelling to Europe and becoming a chef.
  • Dull Surprise: Averted during "Fallen Angel", when Betty mimes the killer's actions, causing Angie Flynn to rear back suddenly, as she wasn't expecting it.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: A common motif, as the final flashback revealing the true reason behind the murder shows the situation to be far different than what the other flashbacks seem to indicate. Quite often, it's a different motive behind the murder, and at times, the "victim" turns out to be not so innocent after all.
    • A key example is "Pilot Error," as the flashbacks indicate that a pilot named Brad Calgrove was cheating on his fiancee with a pastry chef named Chelsea Richmond, who boasts an engagement ring and photos of them together as she prepares for their wedding. When Brad is arrested, the final flashback reveals that Chelsea was just someone who sat next to Brad on a flight and began stalking him, photoshopping them together, planning their wedding and creating their "relationship" out of nothing. When Brad confronted her about it, she attacked him and he killed her in self-defense.
    • A darker example is shown in "Interference," as the flashbacks and the events in the episode suggest that music teacher Cindy Vernon killed online blogger Tracy Blaine to abduct her stepson. During Cindy's arrest, the final flashback revealed that Tracy was a Munchausen by Proxy poisoner who killed one boy and made her stepson ill, and Cindy killed Tracy during a confrontation to save the stepson.
    • The events and the flashbacks of "In Plain Sight" suggest that Chloe Wilson, who was killed by her older sister Jessica, escaped the clutches of Jeremy Sheridan—her father and the ex-husband of her mother Ava Wilson. Making her way back to Nanaimo, she went by the alias Ruby and worked as a stripper, performing sexual favors for her clients at times. However, by the episode's end, it's revealed the real Chloe died alongside Jeremy in a car accident outside of Mexico City seven years prior. The episode's victim was Misha Vanni, who was conspiring to split her half of Ava's estate with Private Detective Ian Mitchell and fatally asphyxiate Ava with helium. As if that wasn't enough, the final flashback divulged Ava was paying Misha to kill her since she didn't want Jessica to keep watching her suffer or be held back from living a full life. Not knowing about any of it until Angie informed her, Jessica killed Misha.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Done for the victim and the killer in the beginning of each episode. Often, the introduction foreshadows developments that aren't immediately apparent that come into play during the episode. For example, the victim in "Pilot Error" is shown as a romantic perfectionist... who's quite ready to let her romantic ideals override what other people actually want.
  • Everybody Did It: In "A Bullet for Joey", three brothers shoot the victim at the same time. However, two of the three guns are loaded with blanks; the idea being that they will never know which of them fired the fatal shot. But one of the brothers confesses to knowing which gun was loaded with the real bullet, and choosing that gun to ensure the murder happened. He is charged with murder, and his brothers are charged with conspiracy.
  • Expy: London Montgomery resembles Kim Kardashian, and is a composite of various celebrities with drug addiction issues.
  • Eye Twitch: Angie apparently has one, though she vehemently denies this.
  • Faking the Dead: The murderer in "Oblivion", who meticulously fakes her own murder before going on to commit actual murder: being 'dead' being the perfect alibi for a crime.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Discussed in "The Scorpion and the Frog" (as might be guessed from the title). Paula wonders what could have happened to make the murderer the way she was. Angie replies that she doesn't think anything happened, it was just her nature just like the fable of the scorpion and the frog. Some people are just born bad.
  • Feet of Clay: Stan Matthews, the medical examiner murdered in "Deception", turns out to have been purposely slanting his testimony in child-death cases to make the parents look guilty (or guiltier, anyway). This hits Betty hard, since she looked up to him.
  • Fell Off the Back of a Truck: In "The Score", the Victim of the Week steals a truck fill of stolen merchandise from a underworld middleman. Trying to on sell the stolen goods, his contact asks where the merchandise came from. The victim replies with a knowing "It fell off the back off a truck".
  • Fiery Cover Up: Done by the killer in "Abandoned". After the Victim of the Week suffers Death by Falling Over in the kitchen of a diner, the killer turns on all the gas and then uses a Reusable Lighter Toss to ignite it. What she does not realize is that her victim is still alive as the fireball goes off.
  • Flipping the Bird: Flynn to Vega in "Crimes of Passion", covering her hand with a file folder. She then does it later, under her coat, as the prosecutor walks away from her.
    Flynn: Guess how many fingers I'm holding up.
  • The Gambling Addict: One Victim of the Week in "The Amateurs" is a compulsive gambler. He has been reduced to gambling in underground mahjong dens run by the Triads, because he has been banned from every other joint in town. As a result, he is deeply in debt to the Triads when he is murdered.
  • Grail in the Garbage: The motive for the murder in "Framed". A woman purchased a painting from a thrift shop, not realising it was a lost masterpiece. The used the painting as a canvas and painted a cat painting over the top of it. A gallery worker saw the painting and identified what it really was, and bought the painting; planning to strip off the cat painting. When the woman discovered the truth, she attempted to reclaim the painting and ended up killing the gallery worker.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: The Victim of the Week in "Pilot Error" is cracked over the head with a bottle, which — unusually for this trope — does not shatter on impact. The blow does not kill her but knocks her out. She dies when the killer, thinking she is dead, hides her in the deep freeze.
  • Groin Attack: In "Best Enemies", the sister of the Victim of the Week shoots the sleazy photographer she thinks murdered her sister in the groin. As Brian notes, an inch the other way and she would have severed an artery, and she is charged with attempted murder.
  • Happier Home Movie: In "Undertow", the killer is shown sitting at home alone watching a video of his dead son on a rocking horse. The death of his son provided the motive for the murder, and earlier he had been shown disposing of the rocking horse because he couldn't stand to look at it any longer.
  • Hate at First Sight: Flynn embodies this for the new supervisor, Mark Cross. It turns out they had an affair some time before, and she took it quite hard. He doesn't help matters by obviously showing favoritism to Brian Lucas, as well as butting in on areas Angie feels are her turf, such as the details of ongoing investigations before they're wrapped up. It turns out the affair may have been precipitated over being rookies involved in a cover-up regarding a shootout during a standoff.
  • Hidden Depths: Vega abandoned seminary to be a cop and is shown to be surprisingly knowledgeable in certain areas, including world religions and graffiti art.
  • High-Class Call Girl: A high-class call girl was the last person to see the Victim of the Week alive in "A Bullet for Joey"; conducting 'business' with him in his office. Initially a suspect, Angie and Oscar dismiss her from their inquiries once her alibi checks out.
  • I Just Want to Be You!: Rather disturbingly done in Episode 2.05, "Dead End", with a girl trying to become her older brother's girlfriend. This leads to a witness to the latter's murder misidentifying the killer—the former—as the victim. Turns out that the now ex-girlfriend was pregnant—but by the killer's father rather than by her older brother. The mother found out about the affair, though not the pregnancy, and attempted suicide, providing the motive.
  • Illegal Gambling Den: In "The Amateurs", the Victim of the Week is Ken Leung, the deputy leader of the ruthless Golden Tiger Triad, the largest criminal organization in the city. The triad makes money in part through their illegal mahjong gambling den.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The Victim of the Week in "Interference" is shoved on to a jagged branch that stabs her in the back. In a fit of anger, the killer continues to push the victim till the branch comes all the way out her chest.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: In "The Dead Hand", Det. Mazur (who has just learned that she is pregnant) is one of the detectives in the squad room when a woman with a bomb walks in and threatens to blow the place up. Angie arranges, knowing that Mazur is pregnant, arranges for her and Lucas to be released to investigate the woman's case. Mazur is later ashamed that she accepted so readily and left Angie to face the danger alone.
  • In Love with the Mark:
    • In "Raw Deal", one of the men involved in a hit-and-run runs across the victim's then-girlfriend. He falls in love with her and by the time of the episode, she's his fiancée.
    • Played with in "Six Months Later". London Montgomery admits to having manipulated Derek, in order to get drugs. She, in turn, was manipulated by Dale, the lawyer.
  • Insurance Fraud: A collision between insurance fraud and Blackmail turns out to be the motive for murder in "The Dead Name".
  • It's Personal: Averted in "Pitfall". It turns out that the victim wasn't even involved in the car accident that caused the killer's PTSD. Invoked in other episodes, however.
  • Jack the Ripoff: In "The Scorpion and the Frog", the murderer deliberately uses the highly unusual M.O. of a previous murder, including inserting a string of pearls into the victim's throat. He is doing this because he has fallen in love with original killer, and by copying her crime he can get her released by putting her guilt in question.
  • The Killer Was Left-Handed: In "Natural History", Betty determines that the fatal blow came from the front and struck the left side of the Body of the Week's head, meaning the killer was almost certainly right-handed. This clears the prime suspect, who is left-handed.
  • Loophole Abuse: In "Fallen", Vega eats popcorn that a suspect was in the process of making during a raid. Lucas tells him to stop since, it could be evidence.
Vega: No, the packaging is evidence. The popcorn is delicious.
  • Man on Fire: In "Purgatory", the killer ties her final victim to a chair and soaks him in gasoline; planning to set him on fire. She manages to do so despite Vega's interference, and Vega is forced grab a fire extinguisher and put him out.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: In "The Dead Name", a blackmailer thinks that the wife of a famous footballer is having an affair and threatens to expose her secret if not paid off. However, the wife's secret is actually that she is really a trans-woman, and she has been meeting up with her ex-wife. However, because the blackmailer never specifies what the secret is, she believes he knows something that would be far more scandalous. This confusion results in the murder of both the wife and the blackmailer.
  • Molotov Cocktail: One is used to torch Angie's precious car in "Frampton Comes Alive".
  • Motive Misidentification: Quite common, as the flashbacks will make it appear to the audience that the reasons behind the murder were one thing but the final flashback reveals the truth to be different. For example, a woman appears to have murdered a call girl because of an affair with the woman's husband. It turns out that the call girl had discovered the woman was running a ponzi scheme and killed to keep it quiet.
  • Münchausen Syndrome: The murder victim in "Interference" is revealed as a woman who poisoned her stepson for attention, and had previously poisoned (and killed) another boy four years prior. She is killed by the deceased boy's music teacher, who had suspected her in the death.
  • The Murder After: In "Best Enemies", a sleazy photographer wakes up following a drunken party next to the Body of the Week. She's his assistant whom he had been pressuring to have have sex with him.
  • Murder by Mistake: In "Ruthless", the killer poisons the room service breakfast being delivered to hotel room of her victim. However, the victim was not eating breakfast and the meal was for her lover whom the killer did not know was spending the night.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Given a dark twist in "Abandoned", where an emotionally Abusive Parent learns they have a grandchild. Rather than making amends with their estranged son, they'd rather 'start over' with the new baby, and harass the mother until she murders them to protect her son and his adoptive family.
  • Mystery of the Week: The format of the show. Each episode introduces a new killer and victim (sometimes multiple). After its first season, the show introduces season-long arcs that play out at the same time, but there's always a murder mystery to follow.
  • Nail 'Em: A nail gun is the weapon used to murder the Victim of the Week in "In Plain Sight". A realistic take on the trope, the nail gun was a weapon of opportunity; still connected to the compressor; and used by pressing it against the victim's body before firing the nails.
  • Never Suicide: In "The Vanishing Policeman", the team investigates what appears to be the extremely public suicide of a police officer. The officer was actually murdered hours earlier and the 'suicide' was an elaborate piece of misdirection.
  • Office Golf: In "In Plain Sight", a sleazy Private Investigator the murderer of the week visits is practicing putting when she arrives in his office.
  • Off with His Head!: In "Remains to be Seen", the Victim of the Week is decapitated with a katana.
  • Offing the Offspring: In "Interference", a man returns home from a trip to learn that his wife was dead and his sickly son abducted. Bad enough, but then he finds out that his wife had been poisoning his son for months and had already killed another child the same way.
  • ...Or So I Heard: Happens twice while the team an investigating what appears to be a bondage session gone wrong in "Angels with Dirty Faces". Angie remarks that it is odd that the victim wasn't using quick-release handcuffs as bondage fetishists usually want an easy escape route, which earns a glance from Oscar and is followed by "Or so I've head". Later Betty is discussing the autopsy findings and says that the lack of drugs isn't unusual as downers would take the edge of the adrenaline rush you get from being tied up. This gets a glance from Angie and is followed by "Or so I've heard".
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": In "Crimes of Passion", a mayoral candidate has his laptop password as "I've got your back": which was his campaign slogan and prominently displayed on a poster in his study.
  • The Plague: In "Index Case", the Victim of the Week is suffering from a rare tropical virus. Betty is infected while conducting the autopsy. The murder case takes on a new urgency as it is discovered that the killer is also infected, and is spreading the disease as he moves around the city.
  • Polyamory: The murderer in "Natural History" is a fundamentalist Christian who believes that polygamy is God's law, and a character the viewer had been led to assume was his daughter is actually his second, much younger, wife.
  • Ponzi Scheme: The murderer in "Calling the Shots" is running one. The Victim of the Week is killed when she threatens to expose it.
  • Pregnant Hostage: Det. Mazur is briefly held hostage when a woman brings a bomb into the squad room in "The Dead Hand". Angie—who is the only one to know Mazur is pregnant—comes up with a plausible reason for her to be one of the first hostages released without divulging her pregnancy.
  • Private Profit Prison: Respected judge Natalie Rodman is murdered in "Chronology of Pain". The team discovers that when she was a juvenile court judge, she accepted kickbacks to give out harsher sentences and send juvenile delinquents to a privately owned "rehabilitation camp". The man running the camp was a sadist who tortured the kids he did not like.
  • Punk in the Trunk: In "Remains to be Seen", the killer wraps the headless corpse of the Victim of the Week in a tarp and dumps it in the boot of his car.
  • Put on a Bus: Officer Wendy Sung, a regular character in Season 2 who disappears starting with the Season 3 premiere "6 Months Later".
  • A Rare Sentence: This exchange from "Oblivion":
    Betty: The toothbrush proved interesting.
    Angie: First time anyone's said that.
  • Really Gets Around: This is the defining personality trait of Liz Kerr, the Victim of the Week in "Natural History". Growing up in foster care, she lives as a free spirit and is dating several men and women. Despite the initial suspicions of the cops, her promiscuous lifestyle turns out to be only peripherally connected to the motive for her murder.
  • The Real Remington Steele: In "Fallen", the Victim of the Week is a graffiti artist who claims to be a famous anonymous street artist known as 'Contagion', so he can sell out and make money out of Contagion's name and fame. For much of the investigation, the detectives are working on the assumption that the victim was Contagion, until one of the suspects turns out to be the real Contagion.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Played with as the third season opens. Angie actually requested reassignment to the training academy, claiming she's felt "burnt out". Meanwhile, Vega is still in his old job. Angie comes back as of the end of "Six Months Later".
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: In "Abandoned", the killer uses a Zippo to ignite her Fiery Cover Up: turning on all the gas in the diner kitchen and dropping the lit Zippo on the floor. Justified as a) she hadn't planned the crime and needed a source of flame in a hurry, b) she knew exactly where the lighter was kept in the kitchen, and c) it wasn't her lighter.
  • Revealing Cover Up: The killer in "Oblivion" had a pitch-perfect murder scheme that honestly might've been dismissed as an accident, but she decided that the best alibi for herself was to fake her own death. Investigating her apparent death leads the cops to her victim's murder and her eventual capture.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Often, the Motive Misidentification twist will make viewers watch the episode again in a new light.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: The Christian Way in "Foreign Relations" is a right-wing white supremacist group. The Victim of the Week is initially thought to have been murdered by them, but he later later turns out to have been a member.
  • School Newspaper News Hound: The Victim of the Week in "The Dead Hand" is one. She is first seen exposing one of her teachers for selling good grades. One of her later pieces of investigative journalism gets her killed.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: In "Pushover", a waitress seduces a customs officer as part of a scheme she's orchestrating. The morning after, she is wearing his uniform shirt and nothing else as she delivers him breakfast in bed.
  • Shear Menace: In "The One Who Got Away", the Victim of the Week is stabbed to death with a pair of garden shears.
  • Shipper on Deck: The detectives and M.E. for Lucas and Sung during the first two seasons.
  • Shout-Out:
    Betty Rogers: You two [indicating Flynn and Vega] are the Butch and Sundance of this place.
  • Shovel Strike: In "Fallen Angel", the Victim of the Week is killed with a shovel: first a blow to the head that does not drop him, followed by a slash with the blade that cuts his throat.
  • Sickbed Slaying: In "Angels with Dirty Faces", the Victim of the Week is killed when the murderer injects a lethal dose of morphine into their saline drip. This leads to Angie and Oscar wondering why you would kill someone who was already brain dead.
  • Side Bet: In "The Dead Hand", Lucas and Mazur have a side bet about whether Angie is actually going to take her vacation.
  • Slipping a Mickey: In "Foreign Relations", the killer slips the Victim of the Week a mickey so she can abduct and interrogate him. However, she miscalculates the dose needed and he dies of an overdose.
  • Staircase Tumble: The Victim of the Week in "The Dead Hand" breaks her neck when she is shoved down a flight of stairs in the killer's basement.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Season 3's "Pilot Error" reveals Chelsea is this. After hinting throughout the episode that she's the "other woman" involved with pilot Brad, it turns out that she was just someone he sat with on a single plane ride and invented the relationship from there. She stole the ring he gave to his real fiancee, photoshopped a photo of them together and is convinced Brad is only marrying his fiancee for the money to support her. When he confronts her on this, she attacks him and he kills her in self-defense.
  • Stalker Shrine: In "The Scorpion and the Frog", the detectives discover a very creepy shrine (the photos all have the subject's eyes scratched out) in the apartment of the paranoid schizophrenic that is being framed for the murder of the Victim of the Week.
  • Stepford Smiler: Stephanie Carson, the killer in "Calling the Shots", a tightly-wound woman with a constant strained smile on her face, is maintaining her suburban paradise by running a Ponzi Scheme and bilking her friends and neighbours. When the Victim of the Week threatens to bring her perfect life tumbling down about her ears, Stephanie kills her.
  • "Strangers on a Train"-Plot Murder: The murder in "Undertow" turns out to be a case of this. However, the second man gets cold feet and cannot go through with his part of the bargain.
  • Strictly Formula: For the most part, Flynn and Vega manage to catch their culprit. There are some exceptions:
    • "The One Who Got Away" has a killer who manages to escape being captured by committing suicide. His accomplice dies in a police shooting.
    • While technically they did arrest a murderer in "Six Months Later" per the episode formula, he's bumped off in prison shortly after and Flynn and Vega are very sure that it was so he couldn't spill his boss's (Neville's) secrets.
  • String Theory: The Victim of the Week in "Remains to be Seen" has a pegboard where he has mapped up various articles connected to the disappearance of his journalist father, and how he believes things are connected.
  • Suicide by Cop: In "For You I Die", Dirty Cop Slater pulls his gun on Angie, saying that he won't go to prison. Angie realises that he wants her to shoot him (especially as he has just let a hostage go), and calls his bluff: saying this case has already taken too many lives and lowering her gun. Slater continues to advance, however, only to be shot by Vega.
    • The murderer attempts this in "The Vanishing Policeman"; firing shots into the air and claiming that he intends to kill another cop. Angie is able to talk him down and reveals that he was actually wielding a starting pistol.
  • Surprise Incest:
    • In "A Problem Like Maria" it's revealed that Maria Snow is actually Neville's daughter. Since she knew of this, it explains why she broke off her engagement with Robert; she would have been marrying her half-brother.
    • Averted in "Natural Selection". It is (apparently) revealed that the murderer, who is the father of a friend of the victim's, has a rather inappropriate interest in a woman who appears to be his daughter. It is, however, revealed that in fact he is a bigamist and his "daughter" is actually his wife.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: In a few cases in the series, most notably "Pitfall".
  • Television Geography: Mostly averted, but residents of Vancouver and environs will spot the occasional fudging of geography for dramatic or narrative purposes. Some examples:
    • Homer and Pacific is not that close to West 7th; it is about a 40 minute walk.
    • A rather egregious case is when a pawnshop near Metrotown in Burnaby is claimed to be a pawnshop in Richmond.
    • It takes about an hour to get from Vancouver to Abbotsford - more than enough time for the killer to wipe out another victim. However establishing shots clearly show a mechanic shop somewhere in Vancouver proper.
  • That One Case: A few of the detectives have them, as is expected for a cop show. One that hangs over the series is the investigation in 'The Suicide Tree'. While the murder itself is solved at the end of the episode, during the investigation a burglar breaks into the morgue and attacks Betty. The effects of the attack drive most of the subplots in the final season.
  • Time-Delayed Death: In "Chronology of Pain", a makeshift explosive rigged to a judge's barbecue goes off but does not seem to do any major harm to the judge. However, the shockwave had damaged her lungs, causing a slow build-up of fluid, and she painfully asphyxiates several hours later.
  • Too Clever by Half: The killer in "Oblivion" had a pitch-perfect murder scheme that honestly might've been dismissed as an accident, but she decided that the best alibi for herself was to fake her own death. Investigating her apparent death leads the cops to her victim's murder and her eventual capture.
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: A variant. In "Purgatory", the killer is holding a lit lighter while standing over a man who is tied to a chair and soaked in petrol. Vega tells her to "put the lighter down". She complies by dropping the lighter into the pool of fuel at the victim's feet.
  • Vancouver Doubling: Sort of a meta-doubling. The city is recognizably Vancouver, but the police force has been replaced by a generic "Metro Police"; as another example, the BC government lottery signs are replaced by generic lottery signs. Presumably this avoids legal liability issues.
  • Vehicle-Roof Body Disposal: In "Fallen", the Victim of the Week is shoved off an overpass where he is struck by the top of a container truck passing underneath. He would have wound up on top of the truck had he not been tied to the bridge.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Generally averted, as the killers are too emotionally drained from the events of the episode to make much of a fuss on being caught. One notable exception is the killer in "Natural Selection", who starts screaming to absolutely no-one when all his crimes are exposed.
  • Watch the Paint Job: In "Frampton Comes Alive", Angie's beloved car is torched with a Molotov Cocktail.
  • Wham Episode:
    • At the end of "Oblivion", Angie is informed by Maria Snow of a recording that purports to prove Neville Montgomery ordered a hit on Derek Caster, his fixer.
    • "A Problem Like Maria" reveals that Maria Snow is Neville Montgomery's daughter, and in fact is not even the real Maria Snow.
    • "Natural Selection" ends with the surprise retirement of Oscar Vega.
    • "We'll Always Have Homicide" for the first time ever has Angie in near mortal danger at the hands of a suspect.
  • What Have We Ear?: In "The Vanishing Policeman", a comedian and magician pulls a condom out of his sister-in-law's ear, leading to some playful banter between the two. This is apparently a trick he has been performing since age 13 in the hope of getting laid.
  • Window Pain: In "Bad Blonde", the killer throws a half-brick through the windscreen of the Victim of the Week's classic car not long before the murder.
  • Working the Same Case: In "The Amateurs", Flynn, Vega and Lucas begin investigating three separate homicides. However, forensic evidence soon shows that the three cases are linked. The question then becomes: how?