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Series / Painkiller Jane

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"My name is Jane Vasco. I work for a secret government agency that hunts Neuros, people who can do dangerous things with their minds. On my first assignment, something a little weird happened. Okay, something really weird. Until I get some answers, I'm gettin' on with me life; doin' my job; stocking up on Aspirin. Because, I gotta tell ya, pain's a bitch."
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A television series based on the comic book Painkiller Jane, it revolves around Jane Vasco, a former DEA agent with the ability to heal from any injury being recruited by a secret government agency called NICO to hunt down people they term "Neuros" (short for "neurological aberrants") who possess mutations which give them extraordinary abilities. It only lasted one twenty-two episode season, which aired in 2007.

It is unrelated to the 2005 Painkiller Jane film, even though both it and the show premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel.


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Tropes:

  • Anti-Villain: A couple of instances of this, but a notable one was a Master of Illusion who found people in Witness Protection and used his powers to lure them to their deaths. He had lost a loved one to such an individual and now devoted his life to killing anyone who had escaped justice for their crimes by entering Witness Protection. Unfortunately, one would-be victim was actually innocent: he was a defense attorney who was placed in Witness Protection to keep him safe from a vindictive client whose case he had lost.
  • Arc Number: Jane 113.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Steve Ford is the first character (and member of the team) to die in "Pilot."
  • Bowdlerise: Reruns tended to excise the scene in "Pilot" where a young Jane imagines herself using a machine gun to massacre the Gang of Bullies.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Arguably what the Neuro in "Something Nasty in the Neighborhood" is doing—removing people's free will to create a "perfect" community straight out of the 1950s.
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  • Brought Down to Normal: The agency's goal is to do this to all Neuros.
  • Cassandra Truth: The Neuro in "Catch Me If You Can" sees the future, but like Cassandra no one ever believed him when he tried to warn people about coming disasters, not even when he tries to do it through Jane and Andre.
  • Clip Show: "Thanks for the Memories." Jane wakes up to a completely different world where she is being hunted down, so she decides that, as a fail safe, she should transfer all of her memories to a Neuro named Simon Connelly.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Neuros that are held at NICO are all assigned colored armbands; yellow for cooperative and low-risk Neuros, and red for dangerous and high-risk Neuros.
  • Courtroom Episode: Connor is put on trial under suspicious of being responsible for a bunch of house fires (one of which killed a woman) in "Trial by Fire."
  • Cut Short: The series ends with Vonotek gearing up to start selling a health bar that will produce a new generation of Neuros.
  • Dark Action Girl: Rachel from "Endgame" is the only female Neuro who gets fight scenes, which establish how much a threat that she is even when not Playing with Fire.
  • De-Power: The "chip" that the agency tags Neuros with prevents them from using their ability, letting them be taken in safely and interred at NICO.
  • Differently Powered Individual: "Neuros."
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: In "Something Nasty in the Neighborhood." Once the team learns that someone in a gated community is brainwashing its residents to become Stepford-esque good citizens, they immediately suspect the mayor, who has a nightly show on the local Public Access Channel. But the real culprit is the woman who comes on after him—the Martha Stewart-like host of The Betty Boone Show.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: The unnamed terrorist organization that Phil and his mother are working for in "Playback." The group's ideology and motives are never revealed, it is simply described as being made up of "political extremists" who for some reason want to try and spark World War III by assassinating a high-level diplomat from China.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: The Neuro in "Something Nasty in the Neighborhood" is a Martha Stewart-esque public access TV show host who is capable of Mind Manipulation. Anyone who watches her show becomes a bland, vapid, perpetually pleasant person obsessed with things like gardening and picnic committees. The Neuro can outright command people to do more violent things, but prefers the "perfect" community that she is creating.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Jane's healing ability saves her life at least Once per Episode.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Vonotek and NICO are both working towards the betterment of mankind, but their unscrupulous to downright inhumane methods make both organizations Well Intentioned Extremists.
  • Healing Factor: Jane's signature ability, which she shares with Doctor Roberts, Randall Hyde, and Jakob Baumgartner.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Jakob Baumgartner comes off as a sociopathic Psycho for Hire in his first appearance, but in his second one, all he wants to do is save his fellow prisoners from the horrors that are being conducted in secret at NICO. He outright tells the team that he does indeed have a conscious, as hard as they may find that to believe, especially Jane.
  • Improbably High I.Q.: Seth discovers that Jane's healing factor is also affecting her brain, and that her IQ has shot up at least 30 points since she was last tested back in high school; he surmises that it may just continue growing for as long as Jane lives.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: "Thanks for the Memories" initially appears to be completely inconsequential due to being All Just a Dream, but it does foreshadow things like Jane's boyfriend having a Dark Secret, and the return of Simon Connelly.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Connor can be a gruff, condescending, confrontational, and sexist asshole, but he does genuinely care about the team, to the point of having a tearful breakdown before going completely berserk when he is led to believe that the rest of the team was killed in "Higher Court."
  • Kill Us Both: How Jane (who will heal) suggests dealing with the shape shifter who is impersonating her in "What Lies Beneath." It fails to work, since it turns out that the shape shifter also has a Healing Factor.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: "Piece of Mind" focuses on a Neuro who can remove specific memories from people, simply by touching them. Other people can gain the memories the same way—a homeless man gets a surgeon's memories simply by brushing against the Neuro's arm.
  • Mauve Shirt:
    • Steve Ford, the team member who dies partway through "Pilot."
    • Captain Alex Rawlings, the head of security at NICO. He was a minor supporting character for several episodes before being killed off in "Endgame."
  • Monster of the Week: The show followed this formula, with the agency facing a different Neuro every week, though there were subplots involving things like Connor's past and Vonotek.
  • Ms Fan Service: Kristanna Loken herself (a former model) counts, especially while she's dancing around in her underwear to music and brushing her teeth at the same time.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Despite the title being "Painkiller" Jane, she feels pain from every wound, even after healing.
  • Power at a Price: Harold Borgman from "The League" can give other people powers, an unforeseen side-effect of which is a brain tumor that, over the course of a few years, causes mental degradation before finally killing the Pseudo-Neuros.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide:
    • The villain of "Pilot" was a mind-controller whose preferred method of dealing with anyone who opposed her was by making them kill themselves through means like walking into traffic or Destination Defenestration.
    • One of the villains from "The League" forces a man to shoot himself in the head using her Compelling Voice. She later uses it to commit a kind of Suicide by Cop.
  • Real Is Brown: The series had a really dull, gritty, and washed out look to it whenever wasn't employing Unnaturally Blue Lighting.
  • The Reveal:
    • Threefold in "Jane 113." Jane's boyfriend, Brian, is researching Vonotek and Neuros, and only hooked up with Jane to get close to them, though he does admit that he has fallen in love with Jane. We also learn that the Neuros are people who, at one point or another, participated in medical trials that were being held by Vonotek, unaware that the trials were illegal and that the drugs and medicines that they were exposed to were experimental immortality serums concocted by Doctor Roberts. Jane, Roberts, his second-in-command Randall Hyde, and Jakob Baumgartner are all members of a new generation of Neuros who were given a nearly-perfected version of the immortality serum that imbues people with Healing Factors.
    • "What Lies Beneath": NICO has a secret laboratory where Neuros are subjected to barbaric surgeries and experiments—which tend to disfigure, cripple, or kill them—all in the name of expediting research into the source of their powers, how to cure them, and how to use them for the betterment of everyone on Earth. Jane and the rest of the team were totally unaware of the scientific atrocities that were being committed, and are completely disgusted by them, to the point that the head doctor is nearly murdered by an enraged Jane.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Jane is revealed to have a weak, deja vu-based one (presumably due to her Healing Factor) in "Playback."
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: A (mostly) non-lethal version of this occurs in "Trial by Fire." The only person that the Neuro was interested in killing was his own wife, so he set a bunch of victimless house fires before killing her by setting their own home on fire; fortunately for him, the blame for the fires ended up being placed on Connor.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crime: The ethics of the team chipping and incarcerating every Neuro that they find, regardless of whether or not they are even doing anything wrong, starts being addressed midway through the series, beginning with "The Amazing Howie."
    Howie: You know, I don't understand you, or your team, Riley. Why would you want to chip somebody like me? I'm not dangerous.
    Riley: It's not what we want, it's just over time we've realized that every Neuro is potentially dangerous.
    Howie: Why? Because I'm different? Because I can do things that most people can't? The same could be said about Einstein or Hawking. What about Mozart? He was composing when he was four. You going to chip him too?
    Riley: Somehow, I doubt that Mozart was a Neuro.
    Howie: But what if he was?
  • Vigilante Man:
    • Ruben Hennesy from "Higher Court." His daughter was murdered by a criminal who ended up being placed in the Witness Protection Program, which the distraught Ruben saw as little more than a glorified "Get Out of Jail Free" Card. He started using his Master of Illusion powers to locate and murder killers who were placed in the WPP.
    • Harold Borgman from "The League." He gave his childhood friends superpowers, but when they started abusing them, he reluctantly starting killing them, sniping two of them before being taken in by Jane and Co.
  • Weak-Willed: A variation: "Neuro 2.0s" like Jane and Jakob Baumgartner have growths in their brains that make them highly susceptible to Hypno Trinkets.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Doctor Roberts wants to "improve" humanity and create his vision of a perfect world by turning everyone into nigh-immortals with Healing Factors. The lengths that he is willing to go to, including brainwashing and mass murder, to achieve his dream makes this a case of Utopia Justifies the Means.
  • Wham Episode: "Something Nasty in the Neighborhood" is just another Monster of the Week story up until Maureen's Surprising Sudden Dead.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The first episode had the characters posit that the Neuro mutation blurs a person's sense of right and wrong, but this theory is later dismissed by a doctor who notes that he has yet to uncover any kind of correlation between antisocial behavior and being a Neuro.


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