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"Money. That which separates the haves from the have-nots. Patience, frugality, sacrifice."
Marty Byrde
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Ozark is a Netflix crime drama series created by screenwriter Bill Dubuque. Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) is a Chicago financial adviser who, along with his business partner, launders money for a Mexican drug cartel. When his partner tries to cheat the cartel and ends up dead, Marty relocates his unfaithful wife Wendy (Laura Linney) and two kids to a modest resort at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, where he hopes to work off his debt to the cartel while avoiding the attention of the FBI. Unfortunately for them, the tranquil scenery does not offer respite from their troubles. Both the cartel and the Feds continue to breathe down Marty's neck, and he starts to attract unwelcome attention from the local criminal element.

The series has run for two 10-episode seasons and been renewed for a third.

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This series contains the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Cade to his daughter Ruth. Largely of the verbal and emotional variety but he's not above getting rough with her when angry.
  • Adult Fear: You and your family being chased across the country by ruthless gangsters.
  • Affably Evil: Both Del Rio and Jacob Snell are both relatively friendly when they aren't pissed off.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: It may seem like a bit of artistic license when the preacher holds his infant son under the water for a long time, then brings him back up into the air none the worse for wear, but infants instinctively hold their breath when underwater.
  • Amoral Attorney: Helen Pierce, who comes on behalf of The Cartel.
  • Anachronic Order: The events of "Kaleidoscope" are a Whole Episode Flashback that isn't told in linear order.
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  • Anti-Hero: Marty Byrde is a white-collar criminal who got into this predicament by laundering money for Mexican drug dealers. His wife Wendy is little better, since she was seeing another man before her family was uprooted to the Lake of the Ozarks.
  • Anyone Can Die: Side characters aren't even safe from the black mists of horrible consequences; poor Grace. Darlene unexpectedly blows Del Rio's head off.
    • In season one: Grace, Russ and Del Rio all die.
    • In season two: Buddy, Jacob Snell, Mason Young, Cade Langmore, and Agent Petty all die.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Russ Langmore ends up having sex with Petty, after kicking him out his truck for drunkenly kissing him, and repeatedly calling him a "fag". When Petty betrays him, Russ falls immediately back into the closet, accusing Petty of "turning" him.
  • Becoming the Mask: Ruth's original plan was to learn all there was to know about money laundering and then kill Marty and take the money. However, over the summer, she comes to bond with Marty and his family so much that she is willing to kill her own uncles to save him.
  • Behind the Black: When Del is shot by an off-camera assailant, the camera moves to his bodyguard, who was standing with a clear view of the shooter, but who apparently never reacted to the person picking up a shotgun and pointing it at his employer.
  • Berserk Button: The Snells are proud hillbillies, not rednecks. Calling them the latter is a guaranteed way to get your head blown off with a shotgun.
  • Big Damn Heroes: When Garcia threatens the Brydes, Buddy Dyker makes sure the cartel enforcer can't threaten them or anyone else ever again.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family:
    • The Byrdes: Marty's a money launderer; Wendy's cheating on Marty; Charlotte is uprooted and (understandably) lashing out at almost everybody except her brother (but, she will use him against her parents)... And, then there's whatever is up with Jonah, which can go several ways if they can't get him to channel that dead animal interest in other, less squicky, directions. Some of them just as pathological, if a bit less likely to mean a murder charge. Oh, and there's Wendy's brother, who seems to have been diagnosed with a personality disorder... or something.
    • The Langmores are the local area's clan of ne'er-do-wells who run afoul of the law almost as often as each other.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Charlotte to Jonah. Ruth to her cousins.
  • Black Widow: Darleen kills Jacob.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Charlotte can act like one. However it's completely justified due to it largely being a result of her family's criminal activities.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Over the course of the first season, Reverend Mason Young, one of the few unequivocally good and nice people on the show, has his life completely ruined, to the point of almost losing his faith. It gets even worse in season 2.
    • Ruth when she gets waterboarded by the cartel.
  • Broken Bird: Ruth has a tough exterior, but is easily reduced to a terrified teenager by her father's abusive demands. She's also devastated when she kills her uncles.
  • Bullying a Dragon: When Del Rio shows up for his money, he does a big speech threatening everyone. Marty just snorts that he knows they're way too valuable to Del Rio to just let go and openly states, "This Dale Carnegie meets Pablo Escobar ruse is beneath you." Del Rio smiles... then proceeds to pull out a gun and fire into the bathroom where innocent civilian Liz is, killing her. At which point, Marty and the others realize he's dead serious.
  • Call-Back: When Helen mutters about the Snells being "rednecks," Marty warns her not to make that observation in their earshot, referring back to the last cartel member who made that mistake.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Subverted at the start, as Marty and his firm mistakenly believe they're too valuable for Del Rio to threaten. They find out the hard way that he's perfectly fine with killing them all and just hiring someone else.
  • The Cartel: Marty's employer and the Greater-Scope Villain for the show is the second-largest drug cartel in Mexico.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Good grief.
  • Cool Old Guy: James 'Buddy' Small.
  • Corrupt Hick: The Snell family controls the heroin business in the Lake of the Ozarks region, and the local law enforcement will not move a finger against them.
  • Couch Gag: The four symbols in the "O" in each title sequence reference something from the episode. The shapes of the symbols spell out the remaining four letters in "Ozark."
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Marty tells the Feds that he suspected his partner of illegal dealings. In one fell swoop, this works as an explanation for why he dissolved his company and fled Chicago, for his partner's disappearance, and any illegal activity they might suspect him of (and since the partner was murdered by the cartel, there's no need to protect him). It would seem a plausible alibi, except for the Feds being already well-aware of Marty's involvement.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Given the actor playing Marty, it's no surprise that he gets his share of digs in.
  • Description Cut: Sam wants to withdraw all his investments to pay for his mother's funeral. Since the Byrds can't have that, they agree to spot him the money personally; Marty reasons they can just pay for it on bank credit since it can't be that expensive. Cut to the funeral director upselling Sam on the world's most elaborate funeral arrangements, including having the mother's ashes compressed into diamonds.
  • Dirty Cop: Sheriff Nix is in the Snells' pocket.
  • Deus ex Machina: Despite having hundreds of rounds fired at them with automatic rifles at short range from two angles into an unprotected car, the Snells manage to survive a hit on them with only Jacob taking a hit to the shoulder. Their car manages to keep running just fine, too, and apparently, the assailants decided not to follow them.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: Even after learning what kind of people their fathers were, Ruth and Wyatt still loved them regardless.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Helen Pierce, the cartel's Amoral Attorney, mentions missing her kids several times. She also hides the fact that she smokes from them, apparently trying to be a better role model.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Marty uses this to recover the money after the Langmores initially steal it. He points out that while he can't make them give it back, he's going to tell Del they stole it, and Del will torture and murder all of them to get it back, which means that unless they're willing to kill Marty right then and there, they should give him back every cent. When Ruth argues that his partnering with a drug dealer makes him worthy of death anyway, Marty turns his argument Up to Eleven, pointing out she will likely run out of her share of the money faster than the others and then probably blackmail them, and asking if they're prepared to either endure that or kill a family member. It works.
    • In spite of the ever mounting immoral actions Wendy has facilitated, she absolutely refuses to even think about helping Darleen adopt a baby. When Marty gives Mason's son to Darleen to pacify her, Wendy makes in clear that they are going to find a way to get him back.
  • Exact Words:
    • In the first episode, Camino tells the owner of the construction company that a father should never watch his son die. They then shoot him in the head a second before shooting his son.
    • Season two has Darlene very disturbingly point out that she delivered the Youngs' baby. Given Darlene's twisted view of the world, she likely did not see the irony.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Most of the original strippers in the Lickety Splitz were quite homely and out of shape until the change in management. Interestingly, this is by design.
    • Buddy's habit of walking out to the lake almost naked. Wendy even asks him to please Think of the Children! and put some shorts on, to no avail.
  • Fatal Flaw: There are many on display.
    • Marty is too good at compartmentalized thinking or single-track survival, which often blinds him to the obvious.
    • Wendy, for all her problems with Marty, still tries to stay with him "for the children", in part. But, mainly because she can't think of anything else to do.
    • The Langmores are riddled with complacency and bad habits.
    • As stated at the beginning by Agent Petty with quite a lot of self-awareness, constantly following the path of least resistance is the biggest flaw available.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: While she's being held captive by Mason Young, Wendy reveals that as a teenager she engaged in a lot of self-destructive behavior and saw many of her friends overdose. The last straw, the one that caused her to run away from home, was when she confessed her sins - especially her abortions - to a preacher in an attempt to turn to Christianity. Though the preacher she confessed to claimed that God forgave her, Wendy saw in his eyes that he was disguested by what she had done. Mason claims Wendy wanted to be rejected to justify running away, and that she knew a southern preacher would react that way.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Agent Petty will do anything, no matter how morally dubious, to bring down the cartel.
  • Good Shepherd: Mason Young starts this way, but slowly loses his mind and faith after finding out the Snells are moving their heroin during his sermons, he tries to stop it from happening, and his wife Grace is killed.
  • Guile Hero: Marty can talk his way out of almost any problem.
  • Handicapped Badass: Buddy Dyker may be terminally ill, but he is still a dangerous man. just ask Garcia.
  • Hero Antagonist: Agent Roy Petty in the first two seasons, the primary agent gunning for Marty. The show helps keep our sympathy with Marty by making Petty a bit of a creep.
  • Hidden Depths: Jonah is a natural at caring for infants. Who'da thunk?
  • Hillbilly Horrors: The Snells are hillbillies and proud of it. They're also very, very psychotic and dangerous.
  • Honey Trap: Agent Petty uses himself as a honey trap, getting into a relationship with Russ Langmore to gain his trust and gain leverage that can be used to trap Marty.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: When Darlene Snell threatens the completion of the casino project unless Marty and Wendy hand over Mason's orphaned boy Zeke, Marty initially resists. However, when the Snells abduct Jonah and give him a hillbilly haircut (before releasing him unharmed) as a warning, Marty realizes that handing over Zeke is literally the only way to pacify the Snells and protect his family.
  • Indy Ploy: Basically, Marty's entire scheme comes up when he (quite literally) has a gun to his head by his cartel boss. Remembering his partner's talk of the Ozarks, he spins that he was "scouting" the place out and can use the area to launder the cartel's millions with ease. Thus, the whole series is pushed by his desperate attempt to save his life and prove his word.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Marty always makes a point of specifying that Del's employer is the second-largest cartel in Mexico. Del even lampshades it in "The Toll".
    • The Snells draw a very specific and emotional distinction between the terms "hillbilly" and "redneck." They are hillbillies, a proud and and wise lineage with a long history in the region who were unfairly pushed out of their homes. "Rednecks" are the corrupt and greedy interlopers who did the pushing. Calling a Snells "rednecks" will push on their Berserk Button.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Buddy and the Byrd family. Young Jonah goes as far to call him his best friend.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: A flashback reveals that the Snells where quite attractive in their youth.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    • The cartel kills Wendy's lover Gary by making it look like a suicide... by throwing him out an 80th-story window.
    • Ruth rigs the pier by Marty's house to electrocute him and make it look like an accidental death. Agent Petty finds out in time and undoes the rigging.
    • Ruth later uses the same method to successfully kill her uncles Russ and Boyd to stop them from killing Marty.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Del's full name is Camino Del Rio, which in Spanish translates as "River Road". This foreshadows the fact that the stream in the Snells' land is a road leading to the Missouri River, making them eligible to build a floating casino on it.
    • Agent Petty seldom misses a chance to be ... petty.
  • More Deadly Than the Male:
    • Downplayed with Ruth Langmore, who is more cunning than all her male relatives, though she is not as dangerous as her father.
    • Darlene Snell is a strong believer that Murder Is the Best Solution and proves ready to implement it at the slightest provocation.
    • By the end of Season 2, Marty has been deeply unnerved by the things he's done and seen and just wants to flee, but Wendy has completely dived into her new life as a criminal. She engineers Cade's murder when Marty is just trying to flee.
  • My Beloved Smother: Eugenia Dermody is an overbearing harridan who even manages to bully her son from beyond the grave, demanding an exorbitant funeral in her will.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Marty goes through a huge change in character after killing Mason, later suggested by Wendy to be acting emotionally out of guilt.
  • Nice Guy: Wyatt is one of the very few boda-fide good guys in the whole series.
  • Noodle Incident: Sheriff Nix owes the Snells some kind of debt, but it's not clear in what way. All we know is, it's enough that he grants the Snells a lot of leeway, but not to the point where he's an outright co-conspirator or aware of their dealings, and his kindness to them seems to be wearing thin by the end of Season 2.
  • Oh, Crap!: Marty assumed Del Rio was just fishing around for info on someone stealing from him and was putting on an act to intimidate them. It's when Del Rio nonchalantly murders secretary Liz that Marty, and the others, realize this man is willing to kill them all to get the truth.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: One second-season episode begins with Marty acting distant and noncommunicative during an interview, seemingly refusing to back up anything Wendy says. A flashback reveals that he'd recently murdered Mason to protect Wendy, so he's not punishing Wendy by refusing to speak, he's shell-shocked and guilty.
  • Only Sane Man: Of the Byrds, Charlotte is the only person willing to acknowledge the criminals her "family" really are.
    Charlotte (talking to Jonah) How do you think this ends!? Happily ever after?!?
  • Police are Useless: Sheriff Nix might as well be painted on the wall, for all the good he does. Some of it is plain laziness, but a lot of it has to do with his unwillingness to go up against the Snells. However, it is never made clear if he is just afraid of them or if he is corrupt. All we have to go on is a single exchange between him and the Snells, wherein he asks how big Marty's debt is and they reply: “Bigger than yours.”
  • Promotion to Parent: Ruth to her two younger cousins.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Jacob Snell is very upset with Darlene for blowing Camino's head off... because he was a guest.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Buddy. Sometimes it's hard to tell how much is absolutely serious and how much is just to get a rise out of people, but he always says whatever's on his mind without holding back.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: At the end of the first season, Rachel decides she's had enough, takes $300,000 from the Byrdes' new stash, and drives away. She's forced to return in season 2.
    • This is the endgame goal for Marty in regards to Ozark. Over the course of season 2 he comes closer to initiating the masterstroke. Too bad his wife flips the script at last minute.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Wyatt is a huge Ray Bradbury fan and talks about him in several instances.
    • Bruce says he knows all about cartels because he's seen Traffic.
  • Straight Gay: None of the gay men in the series have any stereotypical gay mannerisms.
  • Snowball Lie: Marty was so investigating the cash-rich Ozarks for opportunities... Plot (and death) ensues.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Breaking Bad. Comedic actor in a dramatic role. Family man enters life of crime believing there will be no unintended risks or consequences. Protagonist becomes increasingly more ruthless as situation gets worse. Lots of innocent victims caught up in scheme. Young adult brought into the fray who starts out seemingly awful, only to be shown to have hidden depths and become much more sympathetic.
  • Start of Darkness: "Kaleidescope" reveals this for the Byrdes and Agent Petty:
    • The Byrdes were in a car accident, causing Wendy to miscarry. This drives Wendy into depression and makes Marty more susceptible to the idea of laundering money for the income to keep his family together.
    • Agent Petty convinces his mother to take pain medication, which develops into an opioid addiction that destroys his family life and makes him Married to the Job.
  • Stealing from the Till: The events of the series are kicked off by Del finding out that Marty's partner, Bruce, has been skimming from the money they're laundering for the cartel. Del even references an actual case from his childhood when his father caught a cashier literally stealing about five American dollars' worth of pesos from the till.
  • Steel Eardrums: While the soundtrack occasionally includes tinnitus ringing after gunshots, no one actually acts like their hearing was affected. Marty and the Snells are chatting in normal voices just seconds after a shotgun blast in a living room.
  • Stupid Crooks: All the Langmores (minus Ruth) are pretty incompetent criminals.
  • Tempting Fate: In episode S 1 E 7, the major problem of the episode is that Marty needs $800K to supplement what he lost in the previous episode. He says that he can get an investor to loan him the money (without their knowledge) and that they'd never notice, unless they die. Well, through Wendy's business partner Sam Dermody, he gets this loan. Guess what happens to the investor before the end of the episode?
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Bruce decides that stealing money from The Cartel is a good idea, even though he was in the same room and witnessed how the last person who did that got his throat slit. Worse, he did this while simultaneously being The Mole for the FBI, which was just adding lighter fluid to the fire of dumbness.
    • Wendy's lover Gary, upon being told about the cartel situation, tells Wendy to empty the joint bank accounts and flee to his apartment, like the cartel is not going to mind a few tens of thousands of dollars being missing from what Marty owes them.
    • Camino off-handedly insulting the Snells, and then defiantly repeating the insult in their own home. He should have at least considered that the kingpins of a local opium empire might be every bit as ruthless as he and his cartel.
    • Agent Petty is alone and unarmed with known violent felon Cade Langmore out in the middle of nowhere. This is probably not a good time to start mocking him and his family.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Jonah Byrde has an unhealthy fixation with death and violence, and is becoming obsessed with killing and guns. This continues into the second season, when he volunteers to go hunting with Buddy and the Snells. He gets over it after shooting a deer and getting creeped out by it.
  • Villain Protagonist: Wendy definitely becomes this at the end of season 2.
  • Villain Respect: Helen Pierce gains this for the Byrds, especially for Wendy.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Kaleidoscope" is set entirely in 2007 and shows both the Byrdes' and Agent Petty's Start of Darkness.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Del Rio's head practically disintegrates when Darlene Snell shoots him point blank in the face for calling them rednecks.
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