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Series / Rake

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An Australian comedy series beginning in 2010 about the antics of an irascible, hedonistic, self-destructive lawyer operating in central Sydney - Mr. Cleaver Greene, portrayed by Richard Roxburgh.

Rake is a black comedy set within the justice system of New South Wales and its capital, Sydney. Each episode revolves around peculiar or well-publicized court cases that grab Cleaver's attention. In addition to his rebellion against the justice system, there are ongoing subplots about his relationship with ex-prostitute "Missy", his ongoing battle against the Australian Tax Office, his gambling debts to dubious underworld gangsters, and the dissolving relationship between Barney and Scarlet - his fellow lawyers and best friends from university.

The series is noted for its well-written episodes (they manage to avoid most of the legal jargon seen in other court shows), and strong acting (with plenty of guest stars every episode).

In January 2014, a US remake starring Greg Kinnear began airing on the Fox network, but only lasted one season.

This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: A few.
    • Missy becomes a world-famous author and socialite, but she then is abruptly driven back to Australia and cocaine addiction.
    • Missy passes law, but she never actually practices ever again.
    • Season 3 ends with the problem that Barney's cancer has come back and he's probably not going to make it a second time. In Season 4, Barney is fine and referred to as a "miracle"...that occurred offscreen.
  • Abuse Mistake: Cleaver accidentally injures Felicity three times in a row, making the police understandably suspicious, though she assures them he didn't do this on purpose.
  • Accidental Misnaming / Malicious Misnaming: The Running Gag that Cleaver can never remember anyone's name straddles these tropes. On the "malicious" side is probably Harry-Sorry-David, while the genuinely accidental (because he's never listening) is Nicole's one-time fiancee/husband Bevan.
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the US remake, Cleaver becomes "Keegan Deane," Missy becomes "Mikki" (short for "Michaela" as opposed to Melissa), Ben & Scarlet's last names become "Leon," and Nicole becomes "Leanne." Cleaver/Keegan's son is still named Finnegan, but is called "Finn" for short instead of Fuzz.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Cleaver seems to think so, making comments which invoke Freud to his ex-wife Wendy, who's a psychiatrist. It's averted with her actual techniques however.
  • Amicable Exes: Cleaver and Wendy, to the point of barely being exes at some points, especially in Season 2 when she briefly falls back in love with him.
  • Amoral Attorney: Cleaver Greene - being an extremely proficient lawyer, Cleaver will twist the rules, consult outside sources and even sleep with his clients if he thinks it'll help. It’s played with, though; while Cleave does some pretty amoral things, he's shown to have a genuine moral compass that makes him reluctant to defend people who don't deserve his help like Eddie Langhorn, Damien Trengrove or Mick Corella.
    • He's also shown to be legitimately furious when he finds out too late that Denny Lorton really was guilty of killing a teenager.
  • Amusing Injuries: Cleaver casually attempts to play backgammon with Barney, right after having his nose broken by Col.
    Barney: Oh, please, I can't see the board with you dripping blood...
    Cleaver: Well I apologise for my subdural haematoma inconveniencing you, mate!
    • Most of Cleaver's injuries via Col fall into this, such as when he politely asks Col to kick him elsewhere, and he obliges.
  • Author Avatar: Executive producer Charles Waterstreet is himself a practising barrister from Sydney with a reputation that precedes him.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Constantly. Notable examples include:
    • In Season 1, it seems like Cleaver has got himself off his gambling debt hook when meek abused wife Kirsty takes over the business from her murdered husband. Nope - turns out Kirsty has gone full From Nobody to Nightmare since taking over and while she is more grateful to Cleave, she tells him that business is business.
    • In Season 2, it seems like she might spare him once he engineers her getting together with Col. Nope, as she tells him, business is still business.
    • In Season 2, Cleaver seems to have extricated himself from the murder charge by accusing McGregor of corruption, but as the judge points out, none of this prevents himself from having conspired to commit the he goes to prison anyway.
  • Batman Gambit: When Cleaver's not up to his usual tricks, he excels at this trope. Best exemplified in his bringing mouldy, catpiss-soaked tax documents into his audit, successfully delaying the case again with a dismissal and charge of contempt.
  • Becoming the Mask/Secret-Identity Identity: Missy goes through a variation of this.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Cleaver and Scarlet have a simmering, powerful attraction to each other dating back to their university days, but for various reasons, neither one is ever willing to commit to the other. When his and Scarlet's ship sinks, he and Wendy develop more of a relationship akin to this.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: In a Season 1 case Cleaver defends Dr Bruce Chandler - a respected physician - from a charge of bestial relations with the family dog and his wife. Cleaver humorously subverts this sentiment in his closing statements.
    Cleaver: Australians, as a nation... have always rooted for the underdog!
  • Betty and Veronica: In Season 1, Harry-Sorry-David (Betty) and Cleaver (Veronica) to Missy (Archie).
  • Big Damn Heroes: David, on several occasions.
    • He tackles a gun-toting neighbor in Season 1.
    • In Season 3, he jumps in front of a van (getting stuck under it) to save a baby in a pushchair that has been falling down a long flight of steps.
  • Bittersweet Ending: A season finale staple, particularly in Season 2; Cleaver has successfully brought down Cal McGregor, but is stuck with fourteen years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder.
  • Blackmail: Cleaver gets blackmailed into doing things more than once, as he's got no shortage of dirt which can be used against him. He in turns blackmails other people to get things at times.
  • Blind Without 'Em: David Potter is extremely nearsighted without his glasses, and eventually decides to get laser correction for his vision.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: The three women in Cleaver's life - Missy (blonde), Scarlet (red), and Wendy (brunette).
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The common ending for all of Rake's seasons is that Cleaver will face somehow insurmountable odds. Special mentions goes to Season 2, which ends with Cleaver going to prison for twenty years, and Season 3, which ends with Barney's cancer coming back and Cleaver dangling from a hot air balloon.
  • Broken Ace:
    • In Season 3, Misty goes from being a highly respected ex-prostitute / lawyer who returns from America addicted to drugs and even makes a drunken pass at Barney in an attempt to get drugs.
    • Cleaver to a much lesser extent as he is more able to bounce back, despite being a drunken, drug-addicted Jaded Washout.
    • Harry becomes a tragic version in Season 4. After Scarlet's sudden death, he goes to trial for murder, is accused of being a domestic abuser, and loses his reputation.
  • The Bus Came Back: After 19 years, Geoffrey Salter (from Frontline) reappears in a fourth season episode.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Played with in the case of Cleaver Greene; sometimes he deserves some of the things that happen and sometimes he doesn't.
    • Harry-Sorry-David gets hit with this trope repeatedly — he quits the bar to (unknowingly) become a back-bencher in the Opposition, he goes steady with Missy - who everyone but him knows is an ex-prostitute - and he gets shot twice on top of everything else.
    • Both Keegan and Ben in the US remake, with Keegan getting it from the mayor, the police, and all of his loan sharks, and Ben getting it from his coworkers.
  • Byronic Hero: Cleaver hits pretty much every trait; intelligent, passionate, cynical, selfish from time to time, and endlessly self-destructive.
  • The Cameo: Cate Blanchett plays a Large Ham lesbian Cleaver in the adaptation of Joshua Floyd's life. Elizabeth Debicki plays Missy.
  • The Casanova:
    • Cleave has no trouble whatsoever in hooking up with the opposite sex, and has a long string of affairs and sexual trysts with various married women. Not to mention his regular visits to the brothel.
    • Even his ex-wife Wendy briefly falls in love with Cleave all over again in series 2.
    • Subverted with Missy, who spurns nearly every advance he ever makes on her after she quits the brothel.
  • Camp Gay: In the US remake, Keegan's Straight Gay pimp poses as such in order to avoid being perceived as a Scary Black Man when expecting delinquent johns to pay him.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Cate Blanchett, who plays Cleaver in the film of Missy's book, starred opposite Richard Roxburgh in the film Thank God He Met Lizzie.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Trophy wife turned mob boss Kirsty Corella is this for Cleaver, and her position means Cleaver's in no position to reject her advances.
  • Coincidental Broadcast:
    • Cleaver gets up and watches TV in the early hours, and during some rolling credits, the channel announces that Alfred Hitchcock's movie 'Rope' is on next. This flicks a lightbulb in Cleaver's head, and it turns out that this exact movie was the inspiration for a stabbing by two sociopathic teenage girls (one of who Cleaver is defending).
    • This trope is sorely abused in almost every episode of series 3.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Cleaver weaponizes this trope in the defense of a bestiality charge. He shows the implicating footage to the jury several dozen times, frame by frame, second by second, until the shock horror of the clip has worn off on the jurors.
  • Corrupt Politician: Basically all politicians which have any focus at all, except for David Potter. They accept bribes, extort people or even order murders in some cases.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The lawsuit equivalent happens in the US remake's episode "Staple Holes," where Keegan wins the case on Day 1 of the trial by noticing some staple holes in a document entered into evidence, much to the dismay of his coworkers who wanted it to go on for a long time simply to rack up billable hours.
  • Curse of Babel: Wendy suffers from this in Season 3, when the breakdown of her engagement to Roger and the revelation of his criminal enterprises cause her to start speaking in Indonesia - much to everyone else's confusion.
  • Deceptive Legacy: In Season 5, Nicole learns from her mother and sister she was actually conceived from a tryst with George Plimpton, to her shock. They had kept this from her for many years.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Mick Corella becomes this in Season 3 following his imprisonment at the end of Season 1, getting killed off in prison by his brother George before the season starts. George Corella fares no better, achieving this trope when Col kills him off on Kirsty's orders.
  • Dirty Cop: Edgar Mitchell has a number of corrupt cops in his pocket, including one who's his girlfriend. She laments that she'd been honest before they met.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Cleaver has a profound ability to drag everyone around him into the shit with him. As Wendy puts it, in a particularly vitriolic speech:
    Wendy: You are the chaos. You're not the end result of some butterfly effect. You are the butterfly... You are the original fucking polka-dotted butterfly that causes every bit of chaos on this planet!
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Lawrence Fenton, a retired English teacher and associate of Cleaver, breaks into an ASIO-MI5 symposium to protest about the dilution of modern language, with the detection of his infiltration majorly humiliating Cal McGregor. The Attorney General's response to a simple non-malicious trespass? Seven years in maximum security on trumped up anti-terrorism charges.
  • The Dreaded: Edgar Allan Thompson has this effect when he makes a return to public life in Season 4. Cops and crooks alike are terrified of him - even the rather imposing Cal McGregor has a noticeable reaction when he sees Thompson's face on the front page of the newspaper.
  • Driven to Suicide:
  • Dynamic Entry: Cleaver enters Season 4 by smashing through the window of reclusive ex-lawyer Edgar Allen Thompson... bringing a lot of publicity and problems for them both.
  • Easily Forgiven: This is one of Cleaver's great strengths, due to his own...shortcomings. He forgives Nicole in a minute for embezzling hundreds of thousands from him, and lets her keep doing it. He also takes his rocky relationships with Scarlet and Barney in his stride.
  • Ephebophile: Fiona, Fuzz's English teacher/lover in Season 1.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex:
    • Cleaver, of course, with just about everybody from criminals, to one-night stands, to homicidal drug lords...
    • Including his best friend's wife Scarlet.
    • Fuzz has a revolving door of girlfriends.
    • Missy starts off the series as a prostitute but also has sex consistently throughout (with David, with Cleaver, with Joshua...)
    • Even Barney, who has been faithful to Scarlet, and Nicole, who has only had one boyfriend (Bevan), before have sex in Season 2.
  • Expy:
    • Missy starts dating Joshua Floyd in the second season; Floyd is wanted internationally for treason after leaking sensitive government information via his website in a situation not at all unlike that of Julian Assange in real life.
    • 'Smoking Guy', Cleave's Mysterious Informant in season 2 is very similar to Deep Throat. Missy even lampshades this by calling Cleaver Agent Mulder.
    • Tikki Wendon - a powerful and rather bullish female tycoon and property developer - is really just Australia's own billionaire Gina Reinhardt with the numbers filed off.
    • Edgar Allan Thompson - Cleaver's intellectual equal, and a well-connected criminal mastermind hiding in plain sight as a lawyer - is very reminiscent of Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Moriarty.
  • Friendly Enemy: Mostly just about everybody, though slightly unusually, it doesn't ever interfere with their antagonism towards him: Kirsty and Col are two of the clearest examples, but Harry-Sorry-David and Polly both fall into it occasionally.
  • Graceful Loser: Cleaver really can roll with the punches.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: After she gets pregnant from Fuzz, Sally has an abortion. This upsets him, but no one else opposes it.
  • Groin Attack: One case deals with a man having his penis severed using garden shears. The neighbor he's been in a long-running feud with was charged with the crime, but later he gets his cut off too.
  • Hanging Judge: Cleaver runs into a few judges of this type.
    • Judge Beeson is an elderly, demented, iron-willed neo-fascist brought in to oversee Lawrence Fenton's trial. He's said to be in favour of the practice of having guilty thieves' hands cut off like in the days of yore, and a freshly-humiliated Cal McGregor selects him for the trial with the nigh-certainty of a guilty verdict and harsh sentence.
    • Judge Cowper is introduced openly talking to himself on the toilet about how he'd give a man life or a death sentence assuming this was possible for being drunk and disorderly. He later gives the guy four years in prison, although it's suspended by saner judges. He finds it offensive that the defendant pled guilty at all, with Cleaver ranting that this behavior from Cowper is typical.
  • The Hedonist: Cleaver himself, but he'll insist to anyone who'll listen, especially Fuzz and Wendy, that At Least I Admit It.
  • Heroic BSoD: Missy goes through one following her fiance's murder.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Cleaver and Barney, who even recover from Cleaver sleeping with Scarlet in Season 1, with a great deal of Homoerotic Subtext that gets called out in Season 3.
    Cleaver (going in for a hug): If it leads to sex, it leads to sex!
  • Hiding Behind Religion: Cal McGregor makes a show of having "got religion" while in prison, wearing a crucifix and carrying a Bible at all times, from which he quotes liberally. This was only to better his chances of parole however. The moment he gets out, he's back to his old ways, bedding two prostitutes and doing cocaine.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Cleaver is mentioned as being an atheist once, and definitely fits in the "hedonist" category too. However, he still goes to confession, being raised Catholic. In fact it's his former priest who brings up the odd fact of him still confessing to a God he doesn't believe exists. One episode also has Cleaver starting to invoke this regarding an atheist witness as a stalling tactic before Barney brings some evidence.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Melissa "Missy" Partridge used to be one of these and much of her plot in Season 1 is about covering this fact up.
  • Horrible Housing: Cleaver lives in a tiny little apartment above Kings Cross, which more often that not reflects the spectacular disarray and chaos of its tenant. A line of dialogue in Season 1 reveals that Cleaver bought it as a stopgap after being kicked out by Wendy... 12 years ago. Cleaver's oven is an impromptu library, and his hot food is prepared via a laundry iron.
    Scarlet: On my return, I went to turn on your oven, which of course, was a fool's errand because on opening it, I did discover it is in fact a library.
    Cleaver: Well, that may well be the case, Red, but I won't have a word said against this iron. This iron has heated up many a fine casserole for me over the years.
    Scarlet: How do you live like this?
    Cleaver: By setting it on cottons.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode for the first four seasons is R, or the Crown, vs whomever Cleaver happens to be defending in that episode.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Professor Graham Murray in the pilot. Unlike most examples of the trope, Murray is not villainous nor murderous, instead being rather curious and ultimately regretful of his culinary choices. His "dish" was also a suicidally depressed man who agreed to have his body eaten after killing himself.
  • Insistent Terminology: However much Cleaver insists, he wasn't acquitted on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, he was 'exonerated'.note 
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: A common theme, with Missy's fiance Joshua being killed off shortly after he returns to Australia, but the clearest example is Cleaver's "relationship" with Kirsty: forceful, aggressive, and only continuing because of Kirsty's constant threat of violence. It actually gets more like this when Cleaver persuades Kirsty to hook up with her lackey Col, although they are Make-Out Kids and frequently shown doing it before brutally beating or threatening Cleave.
  • Karma Houdini: Immoral con-artist Lane Hole is set up as this in series 2. He is dragged to court by Cleaver, harassed in person and even has a hit from Cleave's gang mates placed on his head, but he miraculously escapes every single encounter through sheer luck and fate. This is finally averted right at the end of the series, when Lane faceplants after Fuzz knocks him off his bike. It's a tiny consolation though, as Cleaver is imprisoned for 14 years for conspiring to murder Lane.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Right after being acquitted of all charges against him, Edgar is shot to death by his girlfriend, who walks in on him having sex with another woman.
  • Kavorka Man:
    • Barney is a fat, balding, soppy old romantic, with barely a tenth of the roguish nihilism and hedonism that Cleave possesses. Not only is he married to the rather foxy Scarlet, he has an affair with secretary Nicole, and ends up with both women living with him together in the same house.
    • Harry-Sorry-David is also kind of this, but it might cross over with Informed Attribute. He describes himself as a bore who nevertheless manages to propose to Missy and hook up with Scarlet, but he's really not that bad.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Nicole openly admits to embezzling $90,000 from Cleaver over the course of her employment, and minutes later is knocked straight into hospital by a falling gargoyle head.
    • Eddie Langhorn - a firebrand political commentator and radio host - is caught bribing testimonies and using said results to incite a race riot. Her punsihment? Relegation to her station's midnight skeleton shift.
  • Left Hanging: Every season ends on an inconclusive note, but special mention goes to Season 3, which features Cleaver literally hanging, floating off into the sky tethered to an errant hot air balloon.
  • Like Father, Like Son:
    • Fuzz — over the course of four seasons — becomes more and more like his philandering father, culminating in his seducing a princess whilst doing charity work in Africa.
      • It's worth noting that Cleave isn't happy with this development, and does everything in his power to stop his son from becoming like him. It doesn't work.
  • Mad Artist: Denny Lorton in Season 1 was an award-winning artist before he lost his mind and became the homeless painter Pica, and in the episode proper he kills a rent boy in the pursuit of his art.
  • May–December Romance: This becomes a Running Gag with Cleaver's teenage son Fuzz, who almost exclusively dates much older women, ranging from his teachers, his mum's friends and even the wives of foreign diplomats.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: Due to some cases of not what it looks like Cleaver gets taken as a paedophile. He's blackmailed over it by Cal.
  • Mood Whiplash: In the second episode, one scene shows David and Melissa having a humorous discussion about Melissa's fictitious relative Angus. The next scene has David getting shot twice in an attempted murder.
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Cleaver, who has sex with prostitutes, is a functional alcoholic, and a somewhat unorthodox lawyer.
    • Cal McGregor is also this, hiding a corrupt and vice-ridden personality behind a veneer of upstanding. It becomes especially pronounced in Season 3, where he pretends to embrace piety and wholesomeness in prison... only to enthusiastically jettison both as soon as he's a released private citizen.
  • Mysterious Informant: The Smoking Guy.
  • New Old Flame: Jack, Hilary's ex-girlfriend, appears in Season 4, to Cleaver's surprise (he had no idea she was into women). They get back together again after this.
  • The Nicknamer: Cleaver Greene, especially where Harry-Sorry-David Potter, the Shadow Minister for Toasters, Lobotomies and Nasal Hair is concerned. Ironically, he is hurt when he learns that Wendy and Fuzz call him "El Fucko" occasionally behind their back.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Political activist Joshua Floyd in Season 2 is a thinly-disguised Julian Assange.
  • Nominated as a Prank: This is how Cleaver ends up as a politician at the end of Season 4. Unlike most examples of this trope, he nominates himself as a prank, to mess with his much-disliked sister Jane, who is running for office. He intentionally runs without policies and the prank gains him so many fans that he wins the election.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Parodied in a season 2 episode. While talking to the Smoking Guy, Cleaver is distracted by the sound of a car and turns around. When he turns around, he's actually surprised that the guy hasn't disappeared while he wasn't looking.
  • OutGambitted: Cleaver publicly trolls, trashes and coaxes Cal and the DPP into upgrading his charges, from 'manslaughter of Albert Platt' to 'murder of Albert Platt', on the premise that murder would be impossible to prove and therefore leading to automatic acquittal. It seems like a great piece of Xanatos Speed Chess, until Cleave finds out he's been out-gamed; the charges are unexpectedly upgraded to 'conspiracy to murder Lane Hole' instead. This mistake proves extremely costly for Cleave, who is found guilty of conspiracy to murder, and sentenced to fourteen years in prison. The original manslaughter charge would have only gotten him two years.
  • Pair the Spares:
    • After his and Scarlet's marriage breaks down, Barney cheats on Scarlet with Nicole. They eventually get together after his divorce.
    • After this, Scarlet gets together with Harry, Cleaver and Barney's onetime legal, and now political, rival.
  • Polyamory:
  • Questionable Consent: Cleaver is basically coerced into getting involved with Kirsty by Col. While he isn't specifically forced to be with her, Col unsubtly makes it clear he'll get hurt if she isn't kept happy. This includes sleeping with her, as Cleaver clearly thinks she won't be happy if he refuses. It only ends when he gets Col to confess his feelings for Kirsty, so they get together instead.
  • Race Lift: In the US remake Ben becomes Latino and Scarlet becomes Persian.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Cleaver delivers one to a rich socialite wife at a dinner party in S01 E02, which ends with him receiving a glass of wine to the face.
    Cleaver: When somebody says something that you agree with, you don't say 'yes' or 'uh-huh', or even, 'you go, girl!', you say 'correct'.
    Leanne: ...I'm sorry, you've lost me Cleaver.
    Cleaver: Oh, well it's sort of like a school teacher talking to a ten year old, you know? You're not actually agreeing, you're approving. It's as if the statement is invalid until you deem it so.
    Leanne: Your point being?
    Cleaver: Well, it's like you're an arbiter of the truth. It's a way of being smug and superior, Leanne, which is why so many fuckwits in the city use it. And now it's spread into the mouths of the spouses like some sort of contagion. Your kids'll be saying it soon from the backseat of the four wheel drive Porsche, feeling safe and smug and superior! Buying a Porsche SUV, for the sake of the kids' safety, I don't think I've heard such transparently banal bullshit in my entire life! You go girl!
    [Leanne's friend slings her glass of red wine into Cleaver's face]
    • Fuzz also does this to Cleave several times, crossing over with Calling the Old Man Out.
    • Cleaver later gives one to Hanging Judge Cowper, the judiciary and New South Wales' entire justice system, which gets him disbarred when it turns out this was all caught on tape.
  • Red Herring: In Season 1, Cleaver defends a street artist against the charge of the murder of a rentboy, for whom the only witness is Stanley "Shrimpo" Shrimpton - a skeevy-looking pimp with a criminal background. But whilst Shrimpo is involved in the affair as a purveyor of lost boys, he is not the murderer.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • Throughout Season 1, Cleaver avoids a ruling on his fraudulent taxes by prolonging their retrieval, citing rain damage and improper storage. The climax of this ongoing saga? Cleaver bringing a pile of taxes drenched in catpiss and foul yoghurt into the courtroom, an act so audaciously repulsive and scandalising that the judge has no option but to put Cleaver in holding for several days and have the records thrown out... which is exactly what Cleaver wants.
    • Cleaver's campaign for Senate also runs entirely on this, for instance proposing that people be fined if they use air quotes or "correct", plus cutting the healthcare budget so people die earlier as it's less of a burden on the taxpayer. It's eaten up by enough people that he's elected.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Cleaver successfully defends the widow of a Muslim terrorist in Season 2 for involvement in a botched terror bomb plot, against implicitly racist reactions from his peers and colleagues. [[spoiler: As it turns out, the widow is indeed guilty, but only of plotting to murder her rather moronic husband. She harbours ill will, murderous desires or terroristic thoughts at all beyond that. Cleave even expresses a mote of astoundment for her success in hiding a very real big crime inside an even bigger but much less pursuable crime.
  • Running Gag: After his release from prison, Cleave insists to everyone around him that he was 'exonerated' of all charges, but practically the entire city knows he was actually 'acquitted'. He doesn't succeed in fooling anybody.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: A lot of people get away with their crimes due to having friends in high places, like Edgar Mitchell with his dirty cops.
  • Setting Update: The US remake transplants it to Los Angeles.
  • Shadow Archetype: Edgar Allan Thompson - Cleaver's mentor, and one of the most feared criminals in New South Wales - is a charming, roguish, literate, moderated and utterly blackhearted villain; essentially Cleaver if he had neither his weaknesses or redeeming qualities.
  • Show Within the Show: The film Judgemental, starring several of the main cast's actors, produced by many of the actual crew, and a hit of the Raindance Film Festival, seen on posters in the fifth season.
  • The Sociopath: Cleaver defends two teenage girls in Season 2 who are implicated in the death of one of their classmates. The situation complicates when Cleaver eventually realizes both have this disorder, and the accidental manslaughter is actually premeditated cold-blooded murder. The girl explicitly compared to Leopold and Loeb, two similar (though male) "thrill killers" in Chicago during the 1920s.
  • Spotting the Thread: Barney discovers Cleave and Scarlet's tryst in Season 1 through their separate but successive references to the uncommonly named 'John Bartrop' - a name Cleave specifically admits to using as an alias.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Comically subverted in Season 2, when Cleaver meets a mysterious informant in an underground garage. After the conversation, Cleaver turns away at the sound of squealing tires, and is startled when he turns back and the informant is still there.
  • Tactful Translation: During talks with Chinese officials, their translators render insults, including numerous expletives, as very bland replies by comparison.
  • Those Two Guys: During their political careers, David Potter and Cal McGregor both have their own pairs of sycophantic special advisers who follow them everywhere.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Finn, Cleaver's son, has a relationship with his English teacher, which lasts until she leaves him... for a younger boy.
  • Teens Are Monsters: In Season 2 Cleaver ends up defending (and sleeping with) Michelle, who is charged with killing one of the actors in her student film. When Cleave determines the murder was deliberate, Michelle attempts to blackmail him into continued service by revealing she's not even 16 yet.
  • Tomboyish Name: Wendy's girlfriend goes by Jack (presumably it's a nickname for Jacqueline). Oddly enough, aside from this she's not at all tomboyish expert for her aggressive personality (if one considers that masculine).
  • Too Good to be True: Cleaver suffers from this when Kirsty and Col resolve his outstanding debt by also buying the albatross of a restaurant he's stuck with. [[Spoiler: Too bad the restaurant is worth a lot to an American chain franchise who are willing to buy it for a hell of a lot more than Cleaver sold it for, meaning Kirsty cheated him out of millions.
  • Two First Names: Cleaver gives this as a reason for disliking Joshua Floyd.
  • Undying Loyalty: Missy has a platonic version for Cleaver, and vice versa (although less platonic on his side).
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story:
    • A lot of season one's legal proceedings are based on interesting aspects from cases in the casebook of one of the Executive Producers (who is a practicing barrister).
    • Missy's book is this in-universe, as many of the characters in it are based on her former clients.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Lots of examples of this, mainly concerning Cleave and his use/abuse of the mainstream media. However, his best example is managing to get out of prison, 11 months into his term, simply by uttering a controversial, career-damaging-yet-innocuous word in front of a corrupt judge at his appeal.