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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 screenwriters Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams. The show started its run in July 2017. It was renewed for two additional seasons, which were released in August 2018 and March 2020 respectively. A fourth and final season, with an extended episode count, premiered on January 21, 2022.

Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) is a Chicago financial advisor 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, including the Langmore and Snell families, and later the Kansas City Mafia.

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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.
  • Actor Allusion: The story Marty tells about Ritchie Valens can't be a coincidence. Esai Morales played his older brother in La Bamba.
  • Adult Fear: You and your family being chased across the country by ruthless gangsters.
  • Affably Evil: Jacob Snell is quite warm and friendly when he's not pissed off, and even teaches Jonah how to hunt.
  • 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.
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  • Anachronic Order: The events of "Kaleidoscope" are a Whole Episode Flashback that isn't told in linear order.
  • Anti-Hero: Marty and Wendy Byrde launder money for a Mexican cartel and do whatever is necessary to survive. Their children become complicit early on in the series. In spite of this, they're the Gray in a Black-and-Gray Morality tale.
  • Anyone Can Die: Side characters aren't even safe from the black mists of horrible consequences:
    • In season one: Russ, Boyd, Grace, Garcia, and Del Rio all die.
    • In season two: Buddy, Jacob Snell, Mason Young, Cade Langmore, and Agent Petty all die.
    • In season three: Sue, Helen, and Ben die.
    • In season four: Sheriff Nix, Frank Sr, Wyatt and Darlene die.
  • Apathetic Clerk: Helen encounters a particularly uncooperative one when looking for security camera footage regarding Del's disappearance. He ends up shot after refusing a polite request and money.
  • 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.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Characters regularly drive between Lake Ozark and Chicago, then back again, as if it were an afternoon drive. In actuality, it’s a 7 hour journey by car one way and that’s if traffic is good
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Two words: Darlene Snell.
    • Omar's nephew Javier, who kills Sheriff Nix to undermine Darlene.
  • 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, and is later revealed to be bipolar and a danger to himself and others when off his meds.
    • 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.
    • The Snells have been running a heroin farm for several generations. The Snells we meet in the series never had kids and were too old to do so but that doesn’t stop Darlene from trying to adopt a child. When that doesn’t work, she turns to kidnapping, murder, and just about anything else she can think of to have a kid.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Charlotte to Jonah. Ruth to her cousins.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: There are very few good people in the Ozark world. On the very darkest edge of this spectrum there are mobsters and cartel members who think nothing of torturing and murdering those who get in their way, and the money launderers and lawyers who facilitate this violence. Then working our way down the list, we can find redneck sociopaths of all stripes, venally corrupt politicians, some extremely unethical members of law enforcement and light fingered drug addicts. The small handful of people who are truly decent have a habit of being chewed up and spat out by those who are not.
  • Black Widow: Darleen kills Jacob.
  • Boom, Headshot!: A number of deaths happen this way, the most plot-relevant ones are Del at the end of Season 1, and Helen at the end of Season 3.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Following Ben being killed for being a liability Wendy and Ruth are both furious with each other; Ruth is correct that Wendy sanctioned the murder and told Helen where to find him, and Wendy is correct that he was locked in a hospital (terrified and hurting but physically safe and with a chance of getting back on his meds and recovering,) until Ruth pulled strings to get him out because she trusted her judgement after knowing him a couple of months more than Wendy's who'd known him his whole life and had seen his meltdowns before.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Further in Season 3, where her love for Ben causes her to get him released from a mental institution, which he then screws up so badly that Wendy acquiesces to allowing Helen to have him killed.
  • Broken Pedestal: Rachel and Marty develop a camaraderie over the course of season 1, and she is very upset when she learns that Marty has been lying to her and laundering money through the Blue Cat.
  • 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.
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Charlotte goes through this phrase in the third episode, after learning that her parents are working for the Cartel, and in Season 2's penultimate episode with Wendy.
  • 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.
    • Throughout Season 2 and 3, the Byrdes are in a constant game of this, as they try different ways to make themselves too useful to Helen and Navarro to kill, despite the problems they cause.
  • Cast Full of Crazy: Darlene has a hair trigger temper and does whatever she pleases and isnt above shooting people in broad daylight, and her husband won't bat an eyelash to murder; the FBI agents assigned to Ozark case are completely emotionally compromised and make it personal; Ruth's father is completely unhinged; Ruth herself is not above murder; Wendy's brother has major anger issues including bipolar; Helen is completely stone cold and emotionally removed, and then of course there's the Navarro Cartel, but that comes with the territory. The Byrde's are one Big, Screwed-Up Family, pathologically constantly lying to everyone and even themselves and pretending that they are normal, when they aren't.
  • The Cartel: Marty's employer and the Greater-Scope Villain for the show is the second-largest drug cartel in Mexico.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The drone footage of the attack on the Cosgroves. Marty and Wendy it hand it over to the FBI so they could take down the Laguana Cartel.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Ruth, as the Sir Swears-a-Lot, hands out many of these in any given episode.
  • 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: To keep Sam from withdrawing his investments, Marty offers to pay for Sam's mother's funeral himself, reasoning that 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 due to some unspecified debt he owes them. In season three, he agrees to help push opium for Darlene, though he eventually manages to get himself out of it.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Camino Del Rio is abruptly killed at the end of season one.
  • 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. Then again, the Snells may have thought investing in an armoured car was not a bad idea at some point, what with being in a violent business and all.
  • Dr. Jerk: Downplayed example in the Byrd's new marriage counselor Sue, who is not above accepting bribes from Marty (which lets be honest has to be violating some code of ethics here). Despite this, Sue has shown genuine concern for Marty's well-being and marriage.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Ben has a notable one at the beginning of the third season. While trying to teach math as a substitute teacher, he stumbles upon a cyberbullying incident, throws all of his students' phones into a wood chipper, and then brawls with the owner of the wood chipper. All of Ben's virtues and flaws are revealed in one scene.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: Even after learning what kind of people their fathers were, Ruth and Wyatt still loved them regardless.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Jerkass Agent Petty is humanized by his genuine love for his mother
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Helen Pierce, the cartel's Amoral Attorney, loves her kids as much as any mother. It becomes a big part of her plot in season 3, when she brings her daughter to the Ozarks and continues to hide her criminal dealings from her.
    • Russ is close with his two sons and cares for the rest of his family. He also has genuine romantic feelings for Agent Petty.
    • Russ's brother Boyd is very loyal to him.
    • Darlene is horrified when Jacob kills Ash and is a loving mother to Zeke.
    • From what we see in Season 3, Navarro has a genuinely good relationship with his children.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • In Del Rio's words: "A father shouldn't have to see his child die" before having one of his henchmen to kill Hanson Sr. and then Del Rio himself kills Hanson Jr.
    • Omar Navarro has a strict policy against killing children, and at the end of season 4 tells Wendy he knew all along where her children are being hidden but chose not to use the information. He seems genuinely disappointed when she threatens his own family.
      • Similarly, a Laguana Cartel hitman shoots his own partner when he attempts to shoot Navarro's infant son.
    • 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 points 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 Darlene adopt a baby. When Marty gives Mason's son to Darleen to pacify her, Wendy makes it clear that they are going to find a way to get him back. She makes good on this promise in season 3, though she goes about it in underhanded fashion and ultimately must give it up.
    • In spite of already being a Dirty Cop, Sheriff Nix is scandalized to be forced to push opium. He negotiates a tit-for-tat at the earliest possibility to get out of the requirement.
  • 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.
    • In season three, Wyatt has sex with Darlene Snell, who's old enough to be his grandmother.
  • 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.
  • Friendly Enemy: Marty gets on pretty well with FBI Agent Maya Miller.
  • 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 disgusted 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. However, as things get more personal for him and he starts to target less guilty people to get to Marty, it becomes dubious whether he can be called "good", especially after a conversation in which he implies he does the job more for the rush of beating bad guys than anything else, and he seems genuinely surprised that other officers might have a different motivation.
  • 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.
  • Groin Attack: Darlene blows the balls off of Frank Jr. for attacking Ruth.
  • Guile Hero: Marty can talk his way out of almost any problem. One of Wendy's big problems is that she thinks she can do this as well as her husband.
  • Good Is Dumb: Mason is this before he becomes a villain which is largely why Marty and Wendy's attempts to protect him fail miserably.
  • 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.
    • Agents Trevor Evans and Maya Miller in Season 3.
  • Hidden Depths: In addition to inheriting his father's talent for finance, Jonah is a crack shot and a natural at caring for infants. Who'da thunk?
  • Hillbilly Horrors: The Snells are hillbillies and proud of it. They're also borderline psychopathic and extremely dangerous.
  • Historical In-Joke: Buddy claims to be the one who killed Jimmy Hoffa. He instantly chuckles and spins it into a joke, but the show spreads just enough crumbs to genuinely paint him as the in-universe killer.
  • 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.
    • Wendy hires a stripper to approach a senator's husband and get video of them having sex. She uses it as leverage to get the senator to change her vote.
  • Hope Spot: Season four gives us a two-fer. First, the flashfoward prologue shows us the Byrdes in their minivan, apparently making their final move back to Chicago, only for the minivan to roll over and crash. Then the end of the season proper has each of the characters getting most of what they wanted, which the includes the Byrdes preparing to leave the Ozarks, only to get pulled back in again when Ruth goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge after Javi kills Wyatt and Darlene.
  • Hypocrite: Charlotte and her parents are both this in regards to each other in Season 2; Marty and Wendy are shocked when Charlotte cheerfully tells them she stole a book from a shop and call her out on it in exactly the way you'd expect law-abiding parents to, while Charlotte points out this is a far lesser crime than what they do on a daily basis. However, Charlotte reacting to her parents' criminal activities by becoming a (very low-level version of) The Unfettered by stealing cartel money for her own use, stealing the aforementioned book from a completely innocent shopkeeper (in a way that is likely to implicate Wyatt, with far more serious consequences than she would face if caught) and then trying to emancipate herself from her parents in a way that vastly increases the risk of the cartel killing more people for knowing too much makes her condemnation of her parents ring hollow.
  • 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.
    • When Ben and his bipolar issues threaten to leave the Byrdes at the mercy of Helen Pierce, Wendy reluctantly facilitates his murder.
  • 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 the Snells "rednecks" will push on their Berserk Button.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Buddy and the Byrde family. Young Jonah goes as far to call him his best friend.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: A flashback reveals that Darlene Snell was quite attractive in her youth.
  • Karma Houdini: Darlene Snell in season 3. By the end of the season, she has been rewarded for her history of violence, murder and all-around psychopathy with the baby son she's always wanted, a new boyfriend who knows her crimes and doesn't care, and the good opinion of the Langmores, who have grown to hate the Byrde family just like she does. She even escapes the wrath of the KC Mob for shooting Frank Jnr.'s dick off, although even his dad seems to acknowledge that he had some punishment coming for beating up Ruth.
  • Lethally Stupid:
    • Darlene is stubborn, reckless, and dead-set on her own form of Honor Before Reason. People keep dying because of her and she refuses to take responsibility for it. Including Darlene herself and Wyatt in the end.
    • Sure, his bipolar disorder influenced a lot of his erratic behavior, but Ben's demise was inevitable the more he knowingly disrupted the Byrdes' dealings, especially after he confronted Helen and her daughter.
  • Loophole Abuse: Jacob thinks he has the upper hand on Marty, having flooded his own land to ensure Marty can't use it. But Marty points out that due to some old rights issues, the land under the lake is part of the Missouri river, which is a federal waterway. Thus, Jacob just ceded all his land to the federal government, who can use it however they want while Jacob doesn't get a dime.
  • 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.
  • May–December Romance: Wyatt, in his late teens, gets into a relationship with Darlene, apparently in her 60s. Several people, including Darlene herself, state that she's old enough to be his grandmother.
  • 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 violently 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 dove into her new life as a criminal. She engineers Cade's murder when Marty is just trying to flee. By Season 4, Wendy has become the mastermind behind the Byrde operation while Marty has taken a supporting, almost passive role.
  • 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 and explicitly stating that she wants her remains crushed into a diamond that he can propose with to his future wife, who in the event is somewhat unnerved by his proposal.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Ruth breaks down into tears after confessing that she killed her uncles to Marty.
    • Marty goes through a huge change in character after killing Mason, later suggested by Wendy to be acting emotionally out of guilt.
    • Wendy completely breaks down like this after leaving her brother to be killed by Helen's hitman.
  • Never Found the Body: Although Darlene had threatened to cut the baby out of Mason's wife, and admitted to delivering the child, and Marty says the bones the FBI found were hers, it may be a case of Unreliable Narrator. No-one should be too surprised if she resurfaces.
    • Somewhat averted with Bruce, his girlfriend, and the trucking company owners. The bodies were dissolved with acid, but a still-intact jawbone was enough to assume that the rest of them had the same fate.
  • Nice Guy: Sam Dermody is one of the very few boda-fide good guys in the whole series. Unfortunately, his kind trusting nature often gets him taken advantage of.
  • No Social Skills: Marty is great with numbers and somewhat good at finding business opportunities, but his people skills are quite lackluster. His entire partnership with Ben was built on the fact Ben could play The Face. The whole thing is brought up few times throughout the series.
  • Noodle Incident: Jacob Snell makes a cryptic comment about Sheriff Nix owing the Snells some kind of debt, which has made him a Dirty Cop. As of the end of Season Three, we viewers still don't know exactly what this entailed, but even after Jacob's death, Darlene is still able to use it as leverage over Nix.
  • Not So Above It All: In "Gold Coast" Helen's all-businesses demeanor briefly softens as she plays with baby Zeke.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Jacob considers both he and Mason to be "men of principles" in their own right.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Mason blames the Byrdes for all of his problems when he ignored their good advice and threw their efforts to protect him back in their faces.
    • Darlene is pathologically incapable of admitting her own mistakes, always blaming others for her own recklessness and making up excuses.
  • 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.
    • A profoundly satisfying one in Season 3 comes from Helen after she has Ben killed and opens her door to find an enraged Jonah pointing a shotgun at her. It's the only time we see Helen genuinely caught totally off-guard and terrified.
    • When Marty and Ruth learn Ben not only confronted Helen, but also told Erin her mom is a cartel operative, they instantly stop arguing with him, put him in a truck and Ruth grabs a shotgun, fully aware what Helen is going to do now.
  • 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: Despite the fact that by the end of Season 3 he is in a sexual relationship with a woman who, in addition to being an all-out psychopath, is old enough to be his grandmother (and raising a baby with her to boot), Wyatt Langmore is probably the most sane person in the whole show. Of the Byrdes, Charlotte is the only person willing to acknowledge the criminals her "family" really are. That is played with, however, in that while she is absolutely right, her decisions make an already-dangerous situation even worse, and increase the likelihood of them all getting killed.
    Charlotte (talking to Jonah) How do you think this ends!? Happily ever after?!?
  • Parental Substitute: Marty becomes a father figure to Ruth over time.
  • Plot Armor: When the cartel hits on the Snells, they open fire from automatic weapons from three different directions. Dozens of rounds later, their only effect is Jacob being shot. Once. Non-fatally. By all logic, everyone inside the car should be turned into mince and the vehicle itself disabled.
  • Police Are Useless: Sheriff Nix is a Dirty Cop who can only be counted on to do whatever is in his self-interest or what the Snells demand of him.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Various characters refers to the "Mexicans" derisively, and Darlene refers to the Vietnamese as "gooks".
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Darlene makes this appeal to Frank Cosgrove Sr. after blowing the balls off of his son. He can either go to war with her or profit millions by a partnership.
  • Promotion to Parent: Ruth to her two younger cousins. Also Darlene and Wyatt when they start raising Zeke.
  • Psychopathic Manchild:
    • Darlene has the self-control and emotional maturity of a five-year old, who is unable or unwilling to think about the consequences of serious actions, like complaining how the Cartel doesn't trust them after killing Del on little provocation, and later when the Cartel refuses to distribute her heroin after she laced it with poison, resulting in the deaths of at least 50 people who bought and used it.. Later, she goes ahead and kills Jacob, for "his own good".
    • Ruth's father Cade, similar to Darlene, thinks he can do whatever he wants and doesn't even care about the consequences. He's prone to quick outbursts of violence at a moment's notice even to his own family. He tried to undermine Marty's operation, even when knowing that Marty worked for the Mexican mafia.
    • Though Wendy could argue its "mental illness", Ben could pop off at any time when off his medication, and showed little sanity at all, even going so far as to call Helen when explicitly told the situation he was in.
  • Quick Draw: When Darlene unexpectedly blows Del's head off, Jacob doesn't waste a second in drawing his own pistol and shooting Del's henchman dead before he can react.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Season four ends with Ruth pursuing Javi with a shotgun after he kills Wyatt and Darlene.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Jacob Snell is very upset with Darlene for blowing Camino's head off, because he was a guest.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: Ben is not well. This causes all sorts of problems for him and eventually leads to being first committed and then, ultimately, killed, simply because he doesn't possess a clear - or any, really - judgement of the situation. And it's openly discussed as something that has got him into deep trouble all his life, rather than just this specific situation.
  • Sanity Slippage: The pressures of working for or with one of the most powerful and ruthless organised crime syndicates in the world takes its toll on many characters as they weave in an out through Blackand Gray Morality.
  • Secret Test of Character: In Season 3, Navarro has Marty kidnapped, brought to Mexico and thrown in a dungeon after he discovered Marty had his wife phone tapped by his men. However, Wendy and Helen are unaware of this a thinks Navarro is giving them a loyalty test, to see if they can handle the business without Marty present. Marty comes to believe that Navarro is trying to break him into submission. Its when Marty refuses, becomes defiant and helps Navarro deal with a problem just to rub it in his face that he is let go. He then tells Wendy that she was correct about a test, but the real test was to see what kind of man Marty was when all the pretension was gone. He passed because Navarro saw that Marty was just like him, a determined person who wants to win no matter what it takes.
  • 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 the Ozarks. Over the course of season 2, he comes closer to initiating the masterstroke. Too bad his wife flips the script at the last minute.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns:
    • The series starts on a thin line between being comedic and serious. As the plot unfolds, whatever comedy still left is slowly, but surely pushed out.
    • Sue, the primary source of Season 3's darkly comedic Bathos, is absent for the final two episodes due to being dead.
  • 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.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: When Ruth is mad, practically every other word out of her mouth is a curse, and that's pretty often.
  • Straight Gay: None of the gay men in the series have any stereotypical gay mannerisms.
  • Stupid Evil: Agent Petty is a borderline case, since he's a Hero Antagonist. When he thinks he has Marty in his hand, he starts to rub it all over him and his family, which actively undermines any desire they might ever have to agree to testify against the cartel.
  • 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.
  • Suspicious Spending: Sue uses her blackmail money to buy a ridiculously flashy new automobile. Helen, without even speaking to her, sees the car and knows that Sue is a problem.
    Marty: This is a Transformer and I spoke to you about conspicuous spending.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Marty only killed Mason to save his wife and is plagued with guilt afterwards.
  • 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.
      • Applies to Cade as well in the same incident, as he impulsively strikes Petty in anger, then realises he's now committed to finishing the job.
    • Ben wasn't in a good headspace, and being committed is no fun, but he made so many bad decisions that the person who loved him most in the world had to end him.
    • Sue decides to blackmail the Byrds after hearing them discuss their criminal activities, including murder. After receiving payment, she flaunts her ill-gotten cash while the Byrdes are under FBI surveillance and then tries to chisel them for a larger payday. No points for guessing how all this turns out for her.
    • Frank Senior becomes this when he goes to the Snells' place alone and unarmed to threaten Darlene, which ends rather predictably.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Marty and Wendy become a lot more curt and amoral in Season 2.
  • 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. After seemingly getting over it, the third season sees him continue to have an unhealthy relationship with firearms: he insists on accepting a challenge to shoot bottles during a party (showing a degree of accuracy with a powerful handgun that suggests he's been practising) and later threatens someone with a shotgun. Later still, he vents frustration by shooting out a window.
  • Tragic Villain: Mason Young was a genuinely good man before he was Driven to Villainy by his wife's death. Even in the scene he's killed he seems to genuinely want to protect Wendy from Marty.
  • Villain Protagonist: Marty is active money launderer who worked for the Cartel for over 10 years before even moving to Ozark. Although his goal is to ensure his family well-being, Marty still lies, cheats, and ruins quite a few lives doing so.
    • Wendy fully embraces her role in criminal enterprise by the end of Season 2 after years of being a silent bystander, with intiative that even startles Marty.
  • Villain Respect: Helen Pierce gains this for the Byrdes, especially for Wendy, during Season 2. Starts to fade a bit during Season 3 as the Byrdes' failing relationship makes them both noticeably less competent, and is flushed down the tubes completely when Ben gets involved.
    • Helen also appears to gain this for Ruth after she endured her waterboarding without cracking and shows her own competence.
    • Jacob Snell couldn't help but respect Mason for refusing to contintue his part in their herion distrbution network. Not enough to spare Mason from the "consequences", but respected it regardless.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: Wendy is this in terms of her political career. She was somewhat of a big shot in Chicago in the early 2000s, but whatever glory days she had are long, long gone. Halfway through Season 2, she starts seeing the whole situation she's in as a way to get back into the game and becomes progressively more obsessed with it, much to Marty's dismay.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Kaleidoscope" is set entirely in 2007 and shows both the Byrdes' and Agent Petty's Start of Darkness.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Wendy, which is why she is horrified when Marty gives Zeke to Darlene and rightly calls him out over it.
    Wendy: She touched our child, and you give her a baby?
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Both Marty and Wendy are, by necessity, extremely good at it. Things rarely occur as planned, so they have to find a way to make them work on the fly.
  • Your Head A-Splode: Del Rio's head practically disintegrates when Darlene Snell shoots him point blank in the face with a shotgun for calling them rednecks.

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