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Outer Banks is a 2020 Netflix adventure series created by Josh Pate, Jonas Pate, and Shannon Burke that centers around a group of teens from the Outer Banks of North Carolina who call themselves the Pogues. The Pogues spend their days working, surfing, partying, and getting into scrapes with the Kooks, the upper class that rules the other half of the Outer Banks.
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The main cast of Pogues, John B (Chase Stokes), the leader of the group and avoiding child services after his father went missing 9 months ago, JJ (Rudy Pankow), John B's best friend and regular problem creator, Pope (Jonathan Daviss), the "brains of the operation" and Merit Scholar candidate, and Kiara (Madison Bailey), who is technically a Kook but hangs with Pogues and cares deeply about conservation, uncover a lot more than they bargained for when they decide to loot a boat that sunk during a hurricane. In the process, they end up being tangled with the Camerons, a Kook family that John B works for, consisting of Ward (Charles Esten), his son, Rafe (Drew Starkey), and his daughters, Sarah (Madelyn Cline) and Wheezie (Julia Antonelli).


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Outer Banks contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The show's pilot episode establishes how one of the main things John B does is evading social services to live the rest of his teen years on his own. After Sheriff Peterkin's murder, the Kildare County Police Department seems to forget about this in favor of falsely convicting him for the murder. And they don't even remember it again following his exoneration.
  • Abusive Parents: JJ's dad, who beats him bloody several times throughout the show. Their interactions suggest that this has been happening for years.
    • Ward Cameron also abuses his 3 children throughout the show:
      • Ward enables and encourages Rafe's dangerous and deadly behavior, helping him cover murders and ignoring his obvious mental health concerns.
      • Sarah is repeatedly kidnapped, locked in rooms, and even strangled by Ward, who chooses to protect Rafe over her.
      • His youngest daughter Wheezie may have it the best, but she is still ignored and living in a dangerous situation.
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  • Action Girl: Cleo in Season 2, who plays a big part in trying to get John B and Sarah the Royal Merchant Gold. She later shows up as the boiler room worker on The Coastal Venture, putting up a fight against Pope when she thinks he's just a stowaway.
  • Bloody Handprint: Downplayed. John B leaves a couple smeared onto a car after he almost gets run over while trying to run away. The handprints themselves aren't particularly noteworthy, but the fact that the driver got a good look at John B's face when he left them, is.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: In the first episode it is handwaved that Hurricane Agatha knocked out cell service on the island (along with power for those not fortunate enough to have generators). For the following few weeks there is no mention of efforts to restore coverage, newfound limitations on communication ability, or indeed the very existence of cell phones.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Done on Sheriff Peterkin. Averted, it's bloody and doesn't work.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: JJ at the end of Season 1, who's implied to have been shot down by his crush, Kiara.
    • This may have started its way towards being averted after Season 2.
  • Disappeared Dad: John B explains early on that his dad has been missing at sea for nine months. We find out later that he was injured by Ward, thrown overboard, and later died on an uninhabited island. However, The Stinger for Season 2 reveals that he survived and is living in Barbados.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Season 1 ends with John B and Sarah presumed dead at sea, with the former still wanted for Peterkin's murder. This leaves the Camerons and the Pogues reeling from their daughter's and friend's supposed deaths.
    • Season 2 ends with the Pogues not only having failed to save the Cross of Santo Domingo (as well as the Royal Merchant gold) from the Camerons, but also ending up on a deserted island, leaving their families and Topper devastated.
  • Escalating War: Between the Pogues and the Kooks. JJ tries offering a drink to Sarah at the Boneyard. Topper steps in and tries to shut it down. JJ persists, a fight breaks out and JJ ends the conflict by pulling out a gun. Later on, Topper and Rafe retaliate against the Pogues by jumping Pope and beating him with golf clubs. Then Pope is convinced by JJ to sink Topper's boat.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Ward finds out that John B and the others found the gold by listening in on his conversation with Sarah, one where they both enthusiastically spell out exactly what they found, how much it's worth, and what they plan to do with it.
  • Fugitive Arc: Episodes 9 and 10 for John B as he tries to survive and escape the island with nearly everyone thinking that he murdered Sheriff Peterkin.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The Pogues become this after Cleo joins them on the deserted island where they end up after escaping The Coastal Venture with Sarah.
  • Getting Hot in Here: A downplayed version of this happens when Sarah and John B are stuck below deck and trying to cope with the heat on their way to Chapel Hill.
  • Groin Attack: Ward goes for one while fighting John B on his yacht.
    • Cleo does one to Pope when she thinks he's a stowaway on The Coastal Venture and was trying to call security on him.
  • Hollywood Kiss: When Sarah and John B kiss after a full day and a half of adventuring, flirting, sneaking, and sleuthing, it is of course while they are dressed to the nines and in the midst of it pouring rain. It is also preceded by a romantic speech.
  • Hope Spot: Peterkin appears ready to arrest Ward for the murder of John's father...then Rafe shoots her and Ward frames John for the crime.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Despite JJ's own stated crush on Kiara, he encourages John B to make his move on her so if she accepts, they could both be happy.
  • In-Series Nickname: A few.
    • John Booker Routledge is almost always called by his first name and initial of his middle name by those who know him, even casually or by those who don't particularly like him. Hearing anything different is usually a sign of trouble, unless it's Bird, which is his dad's Affectionate Nickname for him.
    • Kie for Kiara.
  • It Belongs in a Museum: John B says this about the Cross of Santo Domingo after the Pogues find it, and the rest of the season focuses on their attempts to get it back from the Limbreys and Camerons and return it to the Heywards.
  • Introdump: In the first episode, an extensive voiceover from John B explicitly lays out the physical and social geography of Kildare Island, and introduces the members of the Pogues, complete with freeze frames and handwritten text of their names.
  • Left Stuck After Attack: When the shipworker guarding the armory finds John B having broken into it, he attacks using the fire axe John B used to break the locks. The axe stays stuck in the wall long enough for John B to get away.
  • Line-of-Sight Alias: When Cleo meets Pope for the first time and she asks for his name, Pope, needing to find Sarah and get the cross off of the ship looks at a pipe and responds "Gray Pipe."
  • Locked in a Room: Invoked. To try to get them to settle their differences and make up, JJ, John B, and Pope decide to leave Sarah and Kiara on a non-functional boat for a night. It's effective.
  • Loving a Shadow: Sarah accuses Topper of loving the idea of her, rather than Sarah herself.
  • Minor Living Alone: His dad is missing at sea, presumed dead. His mom skipped out on the family years ago, and his legal guardian (his uncle) is in another state and hasn't visited in months. This causes John B issues with the law.
  • Outfit Decoy: At the church, John B gives his red hoodie to Topper who wears it as he gives himself up. The police focus on him, giving John B and Sarah just enough time to escape the other way.
  • Rich Boredom: Sarah Cameron decides to join in on the adventure because she is "16 and already knows what the rest of her life looks like." She also wants to "experience life outside of the bubble wrap."
  • The Rich Want to Be Richer: Ward Cameron, who is hell-bent on securing the gold despite living a fairly cushy life.
  • Self-Harm: Ward punctures his arm with an arrow in order to frame John B as an unstable, violent, untrustworthy person.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: On Kildare Island, the population is generally divided the working class inhabitants of The Cut ("Pogues") and the rich residents of Figure Eight ("Kooks"). These titles are used extensively by most characters (especially non-adult characters) to refer to themselves or the other group. While membership in either group is mostly dictated by circumstance, there are in-universe references to existing and potential crossover: Kiara, who lives in Figure Eight, is an established member of the Pogues, and when talking about what they'd do if they find the treasure, the Pogues toast to "going full Kook."
  • So Crazy, It Must Be True: How Sarah is able to convince Topper that John B is innocent of Sherrif Peterkin's murder. As she says, if she was going to lie to cover for him, why would she pick her own brother as the killer unless it was true?
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Averted; They do exist and are set on getting John B into foster care.
  • Sticky Fingers: JJ is described as a "klepto" by John B in the series' opening narration.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: When JJ gets fired from his country club job in the opening of "The Gold" he uses his bike to ruin part of the front hedge.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: After Shoupe and his FBI Agent realize the Pogues were right about Rafe murdering Peterkin, not only does he exonerate John B, but he also works to make sure John B's dad's van was there waiting for him, even overlooking some of it's safety concerns.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: The main cast (except Pope generally) done so in their actions in Season 2. Generally, there were cases where one makes something the others advise to not do. For example, JJ's rescue plan would have been really difficult to pull off (John B only goes with it out of desperation) or Kiara impulsively screaming "Murderer" to Sarah's dad while her, Pope and JJ were trying to get evidence to clear John B's name.
  • Trauma Conga Line: In the first two episodes, John B nearly gets caught by the cops, then actually gets chewed out by the sheriff, beaten up by who's essentially the Kook leader, almost drowns in the marsh, gets shot at by hired assassins, has his home invaded by said assassins, has to run away from a lighthouse owner, gets arrested after doing so, gets fired from his job, and is forced to give up the compass that he lost it for.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: JJ and John B say this to each other about their respective fathers when John B gets caught up in the treasure hunt that is getting more and more dangerous, and JJ when he starts stealing from drug dealers and getting in deep with the law.
  • True Companions: John B, JJ, Pope, and Kiara have all been best friends since kindergarten and are willing to risk their lives to protect one another. They would eventually add Sarah to their tight-knit group.
  • Uptown Girl: After an escalating series of adventures, flirting, and missed signals, Sarah, "Queen of the Kooks," and John B, ostensible leader of the Pogues, end up together, even to the point of driving a boat straight into a tropical storm.
  • Unwanted Harem: Downplayed. At the beginning, John B says that he, Pope, and JJ all have feelings for Kiara, yet she doesn't return any of them and would prefer to stay Just Friends.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Ward Cameron, and to a lesser extent, his son.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: These are distributed en masse across the island for the alleged murderer of Sheriff Peterkin - John B.
  • Wham Episode: The end of "My Druthers", where Ward committs suicide by setting off a bomb on his boat with him on it, and falsely confessing to Peterkin's murder in his Video Will, allowing Rafe to go free.
    • And again in "The Coastal Venture": Ward faked his death by escaping using the scuba gear, and his plan to get the Cross of Santo-Domingo onto the titular ship and sell it to pay off his debts and end up being hundreds of millions richer afterwards was all set up in advance.
  • When Elders Attack: After breaking into her house, the gang has to escape the owner - a blind old lady rumored to be an Ax-Crazy murderer - attacking them with a fire poker and then a shotgun.
  • "X" Marks the Spot: The map that John B's dad left behind for him to mark where he believes the shipwreck is.


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