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Series / Ripper Street

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Jack's crimes will not be forgotten.

In April 1889 (six months since the last Jack the Ripper killing), H Division is responsible for policing one and a quarter square miles of East London, a district with a population of 67,000 poor and dispossessed. The men of H Division had hunted Jack the Ripper and failed to find him. When more women are murdered on the streets of Whitechapel, the police begin to wonder if the killer has returned.

Among the factories, rookeries, brothels and pubs, Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and Detective Sergeant Bennett Drake (Jerome Flynn) team with US Army surgeon and former Pinkerton detective Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) to investigate the killings.

They cross paths with Tenter Street brothel madam Long Susan (MyAnna Buring), who came to London with Jackson from America and lets him reside at the brothel. Their relationship becomes strained due to Jackson's close involvement with H Division and Reid.

Sensationalist newspaperman Fred Best (David Dawson) knows a dark secret about Reid's daughter's death. Although still being troubled by her daughter's death, Emily Reid (Amanda Hale) determines to make a new life by helping the fallen women of Whitechapel despite her husband's reservations.Each episode features stand-alone crimes that test Reid, Drake and Jackson, both in their working and private lives.

Axed in 2013 after two short seasons but Un-Canceled in 2014 after Amazon stepped in to co-fund it.

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This work features examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: Averted in the nick of time in "The Good of This City": a Corrupt Politician seeking to dispose of his mistress grants her the "mercy" of being lobotomized instead of killed, but Reid and Drake rescue her.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The last episode of series 1, "What Use Our Work", ends with one of the officers coming in and announcing that a man has locked himself up with four hostages and is threatening to kill them if he sees any cops. The scene ends on Reid getting up from his chair and turning to Drake and Jackson with a simple, "Shall we?"
  • Anyone Can Die: Hobbs.
    • Fred Best in season 3.
    • Bennet Drake in season 4.
    • Shine and Thatcher in series 5. The former is at least foreshadowed, but the latter is a Wham Shot.
    • And at the end of the show Susan and Jackson (the latter gets an heroic death offscreen after leaving Whitechapel). Probably Rose, too, considering she was severely depressed and suicidal when she was last seen, though it wasn't stated in the show what became of her after she left Whitechapel.
  • Artifact Title: In-Universe. Jack the Ripper's crimes and the investigation into them are relegated to Backstory. The show actually begins several months after the last of the Ripper killings when the crimes are still very much on everyone's minds but Whitechapel is slowly adjusting back to "normal".
  • Artistic Licence – History: Although it's well researched, a number of small liberties are taken with the biographies of the historical characters.
    • Most notably, Edmund and Emily Reid have one child, Matilda, apparently born c. 1880. In real life they had two, Elizabeth (b. 1873) and Harold (b. 1882).
    • Emily dies offscreen sometime before 1894; in reality she died in 1900.
    • Fred Best is murdered in 1894; the real Best was apparently still alive in 1931.
    • Reid and Abberline retire at the same time in 1894 - historically, Abberline did this in 1892 and Reid not until 1896.
  • As Long as There Is Evil: At the end of "The King Came Calling", Reid delivers An Aesop speech to his opposite number in the City of London Police:
    Word of advice, Ressler. This work we perform, it does not serve to look backward. This city, wickedness will ever leave its spores here. You and I, we are not magicians. We cannot see through walls or into men's minds... We fight. We fight with all the skills we may muster. Beyond that, we may do no more.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Jackson and Susan get a moment at the end of "A Man Of My Company".
  • Back for the Finale: Jedediah Shine and Mimi Morton both return for the final season. For the last two episodes, Abberline comes back, too.
  • Big Damn Heroes: H-Division, on a number of occasions.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Heavily implied to be the origins of Susan and Jacksons relationship
  • Body in a Breadbox: In "Heavy Boots", two naked bodies are found stuffed into two barrels, but though their joints were broken to make them fit there's not a scratch on them. Turns out the barrels were built around the bodies, which leads to the identity of the perpetrator.
  • Book Ends: The first season begins and ends with Rose in need of rescue.
  • Bottle Episode: "The Incontrovertible Truth" in season 3, which takes place over a single night at Leman Street Station.
  • Bury Your Gays:
    • Fred Best was the only regular character who wasn't straight, unlike the main 3 straight guys he never got a romance storylinenote , and he gets killed off to motivate the main characters at the end of season 3. note 
    • Also, almost all one-episode characters who are gay or genderqueer end up dead or arrested and soon-to-be-executed note , with the only one who got away committing vigilante murder instead of fleeing the city as planned (with no hint as to whether he got away with it or got caught and hanged). Only background bit players like the hostess of the gay / transgender club in "The King Came Calling" survive the episodes they show up in, never to be mentioned again.
  • Call-Forward: Reid gives Hobbs an arduous task of inspecting a huge stack of files.
    Reid: One day, constable, there will be gleaming machines that will perhaps make light work of such process, but for now you will find in the custody of Sergeant Atherton some excellent Turkish coffee with which I suggest you make keen acquaintance.
    • In "The Good of This City", Stanley Bone talks about how the underground railway at will reach into the next century and the one after that. As well as alluding to the century the viewers happen to be watching the show, at the time of broadcast, construction was underway on Crossrail, which is set to include the original Whitechapel tube station being built in this episode.
    • In "Tournament of Shadows", Constantine uses the phrase "the defence of the realm", which was the name given to the bill passed into law at the start of the First World War that greatly expanded the Government powers at the expense of individual liberties.
  • The Cavalry: A pack of vigilantes plays this role at the end of the second episode.
  • The Chessmaster: Subverted in "Tournament of Shadows". Special Branch Superintendent Constantine believes he has come up with a foolproof scheme to end a contentious labor strike: plant a bomb in an empty warehouse, blame the explosion on "Jew radicals" and use it as an excuse to crack down on the protestors. Nobody will get hurt except the non-so-innocent American fugitive who will "confess" to the crime. The only problem arises when the radical agitator who sold him on the idea turns out to be a Russian agent who plans to detonate the bomb in a chemical supply warehouse and spread a cloud of poison gas over half of London.
  • Children Are Innocent: Deconstructed in "In My Protection", where we're introduced to a gang of child criminals who commit various crimes, including brutal murder. But they were led / brainwashed by an adult man. The trope is averted even harder in the third season episode "Your Father, My Friend", where we meet a maybe 13- or 14-years-old boy who apparently makes a pretty good livingnote  locking up young girls to sell them to groups of men. note  (And he was going to rape at least his current victim by himself, too.)
  • Cop Killer: In season 1, Goodnight kills an officer.
  • The Coroner: Jackson's official role, although he has also been seen gathering information and kicking ass.
  • Cult: "A Stronger Loving World" is about one.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Everyone, but especially Jackson and Long Susan.
    • Drake's is worse - so bad even he doubts his worthiness to live and be among other human beings.
  • Dark Reprise: The opening theme of the final season is a much more ominous version of the original theme.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "All The Glittering Blades" is almost entirely focused on Nathaniel Dove.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Chief Inspector Abberline. Most characters have moments of this but he's the king of it.'
    Jackson: A man is never too old to learn something new.
    Abberline: And a man is never too old to put his boot up an American's arsehole.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: When Reid, Jackson, and Drake trace the origins of The Plague in "The King Came Calling", they find that some of the initial victims were part of a secret club / brothel for gay men and transgender women (a "Molly house"). The people at the club panicked when the police showed up because they thought they were under arrest for being homosexual and/or cross-dressing. Jackson at least doesn't judge them for what raises their flag. Reid, to his credit, also treats the owner of the club respectfully (taking off his hat and even calling them "Madam") and promises them that he won't prosecute any "bawdy house" for the next few months, not even one catering to gay men.
    • In "Threads of Silk and Gold", Jackson continues to be an ally note  and Reid continues to be polite and as compassionate as he can. (Except to the himself still-teenage boy who was pimping the underage male sex workers, even though he was shown to be their friend and basically just acting as an organizer for the "bookings", not forcing anyone.) And even casually homophobic Drake is led to become unsure of the rightfulness of a law that requires them to arrest men just for whom they love. But in the beginning of the episode, they had just raided a private house party and arrested a bunch of (middle class, adult) gay men, which none of the officers seems to have any problem with. And the real villain gets away scot-free (Well, he would have, if not for one heartbroken boy committing a hanging offense to get vigilante justice.), because he blackmails Fred Best with photos proving his homosexuality - and in this time period, there's just nothing the reporter can do to defend himself against that, and no-one he can turn to, not even Reid (who gave him evidence to publish in order to at least destroy the villain's business reputation). note 
    • In "A Man of My Company" after the stockholders of the shipping company find out that a woman designed the new engine that could save the company they react exactly the way a bunch of late Victorian old men would react and throw a collective fit. It's implied that this allowed Mr. Swift to get the company.
    • In "Live Free, Live True", a person we'd today consider transgender note  wasn't even out to their own adopted daughter. And when the character gets sent off to prison (for vigilante killing, not for cross-dressing), the "good guys", while being polite, still make them wear a white robe like a nightdress instead of letting them keep their male clothing, which the daughter points out is humiliating and cruel.
    • In the same episode, it's shown how society criminalized abortion, and even just education about contraception - and even ex- Hooker with a Heart of Gold Susan refuses to finance such services in her new hospital, when the female doctor there begs her to consider the suffering and damage from badly performed back alley abortions and toxic abortificants it could prevent. (Susan only agrees after she finds herself pregnant and unmarried, which in time would ruin her ambitions to gain respectability anyway.) However, it turns out that the feminist-ally male abortion doctor introduced in the episode really is evil, since he was using the poor women he was supposedly helping for medical experimentation on sterilization motivated by classist / eugenicist goals, making this somewhat of a zigzagged application of the trope.
    • Sympathetic Jewish characters suffered from anti-Semitism in the form of hateful slurs, political disempowerment, and physical violence. Economic based anti-Semitism was a major plot point in the seventh episode.
    • Police violence and even outright torture is normal. At one point Jackson even uses a (conveniently really horrible and confessed guilty) criminal for medical experimentation by letting him die of a poison he'd ingested, without any palliative care. Even Reid, who is shown to be very ethical and "ahead of his time", frequently uses Drake to beat up suspects - until Drake rebels against it and calls out Reid's hypocrisy in not wanting to get his own hands dirty. In later seasons, they get a bit better in this regard, only sometimes threatening to torture or poison suspects to make them talk, but not actually going through with it. Though Detective Inspector Shine's unchallenged physical abuse of a small-time criminal witness after taking over H Division shows that torture is still considered a perfectly acceptable method of getting information by most of the police force.
    • Isaac Bloom was hanged in "The Strangers' Home" despite the fact that he was severely mentally ill and innocent, as it turns out later.
    • In the last season, Reid and Jackson hold a former colleague of theirs and current underling of Detective Inspector Shine at gunpoint and strip him naked (which would nowadays be considered sexual assault) and then publically humiliate him by tying him onto a horse and making him ride through Whitechapel - all just to send Shine a message. In the show, everyone laughs about it and even the victim switches sides to help Reid and Jackson shortly later. Though it's unclear if this was meant to be deliberate values dissonance, or if it's just a case of double standards on part of the writers, who thought this was funny...
  • Determinator: Blush Pang's brother is dead set on getting her back home.
  • Diagnosis: Knowing Too Much: In "The Good of This City", a Corrupt Politician tries to prevent his mistress from reporting a murder she'd witnessed by having her lobotomized in the guise of an epilepsy treatment. He's found out and she's rescued in the nick of time.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Frequently deconstructed, since the series starts on the heels of the Jack the Ripper case. Sex workers are portrayed as well-meaning people in a less-than-ideal situations and the audience is meant to sympathize with them even though the society they live in doesn't.
    • The only reason the police give Susan's girls any protection and don't raid the brothel is because Jackson, who lives in the brothel, has friends on the force.
    • The victim in the first episode only did pornographic photos because she and husband were in debt. She tried to hide it from him so he wouldn't be ashamed of her.
    • Rose, an important minor character, has been attacked/kidnapped twice in the first season because her profession makes her vulnerable to very unsavory men. In the second case, Reid exploited this trope by using another prostitute as bait for the man who took her.
    • Mrs. Reid runs a shelter for abused and homeless prostitutes. When she tries to get a sponsorship for the shelter, she's turned down at first because the wealthy widow she went to considered prostitutes subhuman and unworthy of compassion.
    • One woman who stayed at the shelter was badly beaten but didn't name her attacker because she knew she wouldn't get justice.
    • In an oddly positive deconstruction, a wealth entrepreneur thought no-one would cared enough about his emotionally fragile Sex Slave to investigate his attempts to murder her in order to save face. It turns out, H Division care. He's exposed in a publicly humiliating fashion and receives a Karmic Death.
    • A somewhat thornier instance in "Threads Of Silk And Gold", which has several very sympathetic rentboy characters whose circumstances leave them doubly vulnerable, shown amongst themselves as both trusted friends and devoted lovers trying to look out for one another and hoping desperately to achieve better circumstances for themselves. In light of the episode's treatment of homosexuality, however, their ultimate fates come across a bit Bury Your Gays.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: "Tournament of Shadows" has a Russian secret policeman coming undercover to England, pretending to be a socialist instigator, getting turned to becoming a British double-agent who intended to have him discredit the socialist movement, then betraying them to bomb London for real. Yes, it's as twisted as it sounds.
  • Downer Ending: By the end of the show, every last major character from the early seasons (except Reid note ) is dead, and the later-introduced significant characters have left Whitechapel and Reid for good. Reid himself is last seen all alone, burying himself in his work, and is implied to self-imprison himself in the district of Whitechapel for the rest of his life to atone for crimes he should have gone to prison for.
  • Driven to Suicide: The photographer who betrays Reid
    • Colonel Faulkner
    • Bella, because she thought Drake loved Rose more than her.
    • A young woman in "The Stranger's Home", because her racist father murdered the Indian Muslim father of her child.
    • Rose is suicidal after Drake's death, though she leaves Whitechapel for a singing engagement, not caring what comes after.
    Rose: You think I give two hoots to be made dead? I do not. It's twice a day only weariness stops me doing it myself.
    • Detective Inspector Shine takes an overdose eventually, just after arresting Reid and thus getting his revenge, due to a painful terminal illness. (And possibly because he knew Commissioner Augustus Dove was coming to kill him to tie up lose ends.)
    Shine: I am my own master. And no man brings down Jedediah Shine, except Jedediah Shine.
  • Double Standard: In-universe. When the stockholders of a shipping company throw a collective fit when they discovered that a woman designed the new engine that could save their company.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: If you consider the ages of her brother and her son, Prudence in the episode "All the Glittering Blades" must have had sex with her much younger brother when he had barely reached puberty, whereas she would have been an adult already (or at least almost). And yet, she's presented as the victim, because several years later, her still teenage brother has become a physically abusive drunk and according to her, he already was abusive when he was younger (burning her hand on the stove when she became pregnant). It's a complicated situation, but from her creepy "beautiful boy" talk and the age difference between the siblings that's so big she's acting like a mother towards her brother, it's hard to believe that he forced himself on her when she would have been bigger and stronger than him. It's much more likely that she sexually abused her kid brother, and probably more than once, considering that he reacts like a jealous lover when Nathaniel starts getting close to Prudence. She may well have been lying about how her hand got burned – after all, back then their father was still living with them, and the brother must have learned that it was okay to beat women from someone.
  • Duel to the Death: Jackson offers a pursuing Pinkerton one in "A Man Of My Company". Naturally, he's planned ahead for such a meeting.
  • Everyone Can See It: Reid and Jane Cobden. To the point where Jackson, of all people, becomes the Shipper on Deck on the basis that if it's so obvious that even he can see it, then it's meant to be.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Abel Croker is a thief, smuggler, murderer and all-around rogue, who also knowingly shelters a dangerous, mentally disabled serial killer, but he does not take kindly to people who murder for xenophobic reasons.
  • Evil Old Folks: Mrs. Manby in "In My Protection", who spends most of the episode in a veil mourning for her murdered husband, only to be exposed for having contracted with Carmichael to have him killed.
  • The Fagin: Carmichael in "In My Protection". Deconstructed in that he is not a caring man – he just brainwashes vulnerable boys into doing his dirty work - including rape and murder - essentially turning them into child soldiers which he uses to carve out his criminal empire.
  • Fame Through Infamy: Claxton in "The King Came Calling" is a Master Poisoner who creates a poison combining antimony and ergot and uses it to contaminate the flour supply in an attempt to become more famous than Jack the Ripper.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: With some considerable finality at the show's conclusion.
  • Finish Him!: Reid to Drake, about Shine, at the climax of season 2. From Drake's response, it's clear he isn't going to do it, but it's a sign that Reid has gone dangerously down the Well-Intentioned Extremist route. The season ends at that point.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: In Season 3 Drake threatens to remove a suspect's big toe, and has the screaming man's foot on his lap and the bone knife ready when Reid rushes into the cell and throws him out. Reid promises protection, and the man gives him everything he knows.
  • Good-Guy Bar: The Brown Bear (a real-life pub, still open today), which is conveniently located immediately adjacent to "H" Division's headquarters.
  • Heroic BSoD: Drake after Bella's suicide.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Reid, who was once the shortest man on the force at 5'6", is played by 6'2" tall Matthew Macfadyen.
  • Historical Domain Character: Yes, there was an Inspector Edmund Reid. Wikipedia has more
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Rose, absolutely. Drake's wife Bella was also formerly a prostitute. Finally, to an extent, there is Long Susan, brothel owner and manager if not a prostitute herself.
  • Hope Spot: In "What Use Our Work". The whole episode hints that the Silvers have Reid's daughter, and that they can be reunited-but the girl they have isn't her.
  • Honey Trap: A rare male example. Victor Silver used the "Lonely Hearts" column to find women. When they met him in person, he drugged and imprisoned them.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode's title appears in the episode itself, either written down or as a line of dialogue. Also makes this an example of Title Drop.
  • I Have Many Names: It's implied that Homer Jackson is just the latest in a string of aliases.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: The climax of "Our Betrayal, Part 2". The "you" here being Reid, who is screaming for Drake to kill Shine. Nobody else speaks, but but Drake and Jane Cobden clearly think this.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: In "Your Father, My Friend", Susan confides to her consigliere, Mr. Capshaw, that in her opinion, nearly all men suffer from this conceit, but she kept him on after "inheriting" him from her rival, Duggan, because she judged that he was one of the very few who did not.
    It seemed to me that you were happy as you were, you had no need to make the world stand up and applaud your very existence.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Linklater in "Pure as the Driven..."
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: In "Heavy Boots", the team (sans Reid) is investigating a series of murders of publicans, possibly in competition over who supplies their beer.
    Jackson: Never understood the fuss myself, beer. Might as well drink from the river. Warm, flat...
    Drake: Useful qualities, however, when one wishes to drink of it in great volume.
  • In the Back: Blush Pang stabbed her brother to save her lover, saying that she didn't want to return home and follow tradition. Not two minutes later, her lover stands by and allows her to be arrested.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Reid, Drake and Jackson do this to the poisoner Claxton - squeezing his broken arm - in "The King Came Calling" to find out where he sent the consignment of poisoned flour. They frequently beat up suspects, too, at least in the early seasons, or sometimes even threaten to maim or poison them.
    • Special Branch Inspector Constantine has an Indian Muslim man tortured to help him find some supposed terrorists (read: Indian independence activists) in "The Strangers' Home". For once, the show goes with a realistic outcome of torture though, with Drake very much disapproving (presumably because the guy wasn't a criminal) and Constantine himself later stating that the information he gathered is useless because the victim was "too eager to please" and confirmed everything he asked just to make the pain stop.
    • Detective Inspector Shine lets a small-time crook hang from his wrists for a few hours to get information and his cooperation in capturing Reid, Jackson and Susan, in season 5.
  • Jack the Ripoff: In "I Need Light" Sir Arthur Donaldson, the killer, hoped to pass off his victim as one of Jack's.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In "I Need Light", Reid angrily confronts Fred Best for tampering with the crime scene, and threatens that he'd better not publish the planned story painting the female corpse as a possible Ripper victim. Best reminds Reid that his paper did a great deal to reassure the public that Reid and the rest of "H" Division was working overtime to find Jack the Ripper, who would be caught soon... "only... oh, he wasn't, was he?" He goes on to say that unless Reid can come up with a better explanation, the story will be published in a few days.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The rivalry between the Metropolitan Police and the City Police causes problems in "The King Came Calling".
  • Killed Offscreen: Jackson in the final episode. Could even be considered a Bus Crash, given the circumstances of his departure.
  • Knew It All Along: In "Tournament of Shadows", Commissioner Munro tells Reid in the strongest terms that what Special Branch Superintendent Constantine does is none of his damned business, and Munro wonders aloud why Reid would think he has the right to criticize another policeman's methods after failing to catch the Ripper. Later, after Constantine is hoodwinked by a Russian spy into planting a bomb that almost disperses poison gas over half of London, before Reid defuses it, Munro smoothly assures Reid that, "needless to say, the Yard is wholly appreciative of your efforts" and Constantine, "a disgrace", is finished as a Special Branch officer.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Rose's first introduction to Drake, her future husband, is when he charges across a courtyard with a yell, and runs through the man trying to strangle her with a sword. Despite his awkward manner around women, his chivalric instincts win him many admirers among Long Susan's girls.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Blush Pang's brother.
  • Mad Artist: In "I Need Light", Detective Inspector Reid and his team enter into the world of Sir Arthur Donaldson (Mark Dexter), a pioneer in early photographic pornography and producer/star of one of the first 'snuff films', after discovering motion film of Thwaites being strangled. The mad Donaldson is attempting to capture vision of the soul leaving the body at the moment of death.
  • Master Poisoner: Claxton in "The King Came Calling", who creates a poison combining antimony and ergot and uses it to contaminate the flour supply in an attempt to become more famous than Jack the Ripper.
  • Meaningful Name: The Hooker (well, Pimp really) With a Heart of Gold is called Susan Hart. As it's an alias, she may have chosen it as a meaningful name in-story as well.
  • Mushroom Samba: Jackson undergoes this when he injects himself with the drug Blush Pang has been giving her clients.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Susan after the bond robbery goes tragically wrong. It drives a lot of the plot of season 3 and 4. And even though she first escapes prison and her execution, ultimately she feels she deserves to be punished and so hands herself over to the law in "A Last Good Act".
    Susan: All who kill must be punished.
  • My Greatest Failure: Reid actually has two: Failing to catch the Ripper and losing his daughter in the Thames. The fact that the latter occurred because he brought her on a stakeout for the former makes the whole thing worse.
  • Never Found the Body: Victor Silver and Matilda Reid. Rather cleverly zigzagged, with the former dropping heavy hints at the survival of the latter. It turns out to be a lie, and Matilda is still missing.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "In My Protection", they let a murderer go because he was just a boy and acting on somebody else's orders, and Drake "volunteers" him for the army to get him out of the country. Years later, they come across the character again – and he's turned into an alcoholic Shell-Shocked Veteran.
    Thomas: I'd sooner have took the rope than seen what I'd seen. Done what I've done. You think you've saved me? You sent me somewhere worse than death.
    • Also, Reid could have saved himself a whole lot of trouble (and possibly Drake's life) if he'd just killed Susan's father outright instead of locking him up and letting him slowly die of dehydration – thereby giving him time to scratch a message identifying Reid as his murderer into the wall.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: A dark example, Goodnight kills Hobbs in exactly the same manner as he earlier killed the engineer, tying the two murders together and providing a vital clue. Further, by dumping Hobbs in the water still alive, his hand went into a rigor mortis-like state, allowing him to hold the vital clue in his hand even after his death.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Long Susan and her ladies.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Occurs to Big Bad slumlord Silas who spends the second season menacing Susan and Jackson for their debts which they eventually pay off with a diamond - what he isn't prepared for is the pissed off De Graal Diamond Company thugs coming to get their diamond back. Cue Impaled with Extreme Prejudice
  • The Ophelia: Lucy, the murder witness from "The Good of the City".
    • Reid's wife in season 2, though off-screen. She cracked after the Hope Spot, and his affair with Deborah Goren probably didn't help either.
    • And Leda Starling from season 4's "Some Conscience Lost", a grieving mother and ex-prostitute suffering from tertiary syphilis, complete with Madness Mantra. She reminds Reid so much of his wife that that her offer to forgive him in her stead actually seems to work to help him move on.
    • Mathilda Reid, though in her case it seems to be more a combination of brainwashing and stunted mental development due to years-long imprisonment, rather than actual insanity. She gets over it and catches up amazingly quickly, attending a normal school grade for her age just a couple of years later and even having plans to go to college.
  • The Pen Is Mightier: In "Tournament of Shadows", a corrupt Scotland Yard officer tortures Jackson into signing a False Confession; finally Jackson agrees, and the officer is dumb enough to hand him - a qualified surgeon - a pen with a metal nib. The predictable ensues.
  • Pinkerton Detective: Jackson used to be one. He didn't leave on good terms.
  • Platonic Prostitution: In "What Use Our Work?", Sgt. Drake visits Long Susan’s brothel and, knowing that his Unrequited Love interest Rose is no longer with the house, surprises Susan by paying for a room with another girl, Bella. Once inside the room, he confides that all he wants to do is hold her in silence for a little while, and maybe fall asleep in her arms. Mindful of his masculine reputation (a common obsession in Victorian times), he asks her not to gossip to the other girls - though he hastens to add that he would never ask her to lie, just to keep silent if asked. Bella has already confided that several of the girls (including herself) think he is a fine man, but this is likely the moment when she falls for him completely.
  • The Power of Hate: Jedediah Shine's doctor tells him he has an inoperable tumor in his brain; when Shine asks if anything can be done, the doctor says not only is Shine terminal, but the doctor considers it a miracle that he's lasted this long. Shine laughs to himself, and says that as long as Edmund Reid is still alive and free, Shine has a reason to keep living. However, this is inverted at the conclusion of the episode, when Shine "wins" by beating Reid in a brutal fistfight before turning him over for arrest. Shine bitterly reflects on the irony that hate has kept him going, but consumed him so thoroughly that he's incapable of taking any joy in his victory, and he might as well be already dead.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The child criminals in Charmicheal's gang get specific playing card tattoos as "trophies" for crimes they have committed. Thomas, the boy who brutally beat an old man to death at the beginning of the episode, shows that he already has almost the complete set, including tattoos for mugging and house-breaking – but he does not have a Queen, because that's for rape. The scene is clearly meant to make him more sympathetic for the audience.
  • Rescue Romance: Played with. Drake has rescued Rose twice. Sometime after the first, she rejected him. The second time, she regretted not accepting his initial advances.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Played with in "Our Betrayal, Part 1", where sounds of lovemaking can be heard as Reid and Jane Cobden, who is definitely not his wife get it on... and Fred Best listening in.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Deconstructed in "The Weight of One Man's Heart". Faulkner and his fellow veterans, haunted by the horrors of war, lash out violently at a society they felt hasn't given them their dues and a bloodbath ensues.
    • Reconstructed in "Men of Iron, Men of Smoke" – Thomas isn't exactly a great guy and he's an alcoholic, but it turns out he's innocent regarding the violent crime in that episode.
  • Shipper on Deck: Jackson may not be conventionally romantic, but he is sufficiently attentive to Reid's emotional wellbeing to ship him with Jane Cobden.
  • Showdown at High Noon: "A Man of My Company". Two Americans have a score to settle, so what else can be done?
  • Snuff Film: In "I Need Light", a photographer has succeeded in inventing a working motion picture camera. Reid, Drake and Jackson, who have been touring the underground world of smut photography, immediately see the lucrative possibilities for making pornographic photos "come alive"; then Reid realizes that their villain has taken the concept one step further and is attempting to create the world's first snuff film.
  • Straw Feminist: Raine Thornell
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: First Flight and then Grace look like being this to Hobbs - though in the former case it's ultimately averted.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Long Susan killed a man as he tried to kill her favorite girl.
    • The jury is out on whether she's still sympathetic after her train robbery goes wrong and gets several dozen innocent people killed. And after she tries to shoot Reid to cover things up.
    • Reid himself murders a couple of people over the course of the show, and not always people who would have been executed anyway if they weren't too powerful to arrest for their crimes. (E.g. the clearly mentally disabled guy who kept Reid's daughter prisoner for years, but didn't otherwise harm her.)
    • The bereaved lover of one victim in "Threads of Silk and Gold" takes bloody revenge on the murderer in the end, after the police couldn't arrest him.
    • Quite a few of the murders-of-the-week turn out to have been committed by people who had very good reasons to hate the victim, but for reasons of historical values dissonance and social inequality couldn't seek justice the legal way.
  • Tattooed Crook: In "In My Protection", The Fagin Carmichael is covered with a multitude of tattoos; each one of which represents a specific crime he has committed. His gang of kids have similar tattoos.
  • Team Power Walk: Reid and Drake step out of the station house to rescue Reid's daughter, people scattering away from them in slo-mo. (It was probably the shotguns that did it.)
  • The Reason You Suck:
    • Lucy, a former Sex Slave rescued from a Fate Worse than Death, confronts her former "keeper", a prominent politician and exposes his bestial acts in front of the man's wife, the press, and a very large crowd:
      You proclaim to these good people about the future's gleaming hope, but the tongue you speak with is forked. And the future you speak of, it is built on evil and corruption. You had me as your slave, denied our children, had my mother murdered, and you would have sent me to a living hell had it not been for this inspector here. You are no man but you are a beast that has risen deep from the earth in which you dig into.
    • Flight also delivers a stinging one to the crowd harassing Joseph Merrick (aka the Elephant Man) in Season 2's "Am I Not Monstrous?":
    Flight: What is wrong with you?! This man is your fellow! You would stone him?! You call him monster?! Look on your own sins.
    • Epic one delivered by Best in "The Peace of Edmund Reid" as his death speech.
    • Abel Croker delivers one to the racist murderer in "The Strangers' Home", giving special attention to the futility of his attempt of stopping immigration and globalized trade to try to protect English jobs for English men, given that London's economy largely depends on that trade. note 
      Croker: You need to take a look about. There is a city out there queuing to cheer its Queen as she parades through it. But what is that Queen? She is an Empress. But her empire is not solely England, boy. It is the world. And therefore, the world comes to London and London becomes the world. This is not because Englishmen are good, or pretty, but because we understood quicker than all that good trade makes for greater power. Power, which you will always lack for, boy, until you understand that there is but one boat that floats in this world, and it is this: You roll with the future times, or the future times will roll over you. (stabs him) It was a Burmese silk captain showed me that. Slip a knife between a man's ribs without him even feeling it. See what a man might learn, if he opens his heart to the world, boy? But you, as we know, are an ignorant fellow.
    • In the same episode, there's a darker version of this trope given by Special Service Inspector Constantine to an Indian nobleman who's a proud officer in the British army (and who throughout the episode had been rebuking younger Indian men who were protesting against the British occupation of India). In-universe it's meant as a nasty The Reason You Suck speech, but towards the modern audience it works more as a Take That! truth bomb about the history of their country:
    Major Al-Qadir: If I learn that this man has been injured or harmed in any way, your Secretary Chamberlain shall hear from me, Sir.
    Constantine: And you imagine he shall give two tosses, do you? He's the Colonial Secretary and you're the colonial. You are to him no more than a trained circus pony. Best you understand that. Here is the lesson, Major: They dress you in this... costume, and puff you full of a confected self-importance, the purpose of which is only this: That we here in this country may slowly bleed your country dry - whilst your back is turned parading in our honour.
  • This Bed of Rose's
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Reid is prone to this when thinking of his daughter.
  • Time Skip: Of five years between seasons 2 and 3, and three years between seasons 3 and 4.
  • Trivial Title: The final episode is full of drama, but is deliberately given the unusually mundane title "Occurrence Reports" from the folder of ordinary day-to-day paperwork that Reid picks up at the end.
  • Victorian London: The setting of the show.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The main trio enjoy snarking at each other, but there seems to a growing level of trust between them.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: In the last season, Jedediah Shine finally gets his long-awaited revenge against Reid, beating him to a pulp and turning him over to the law - and realizes that he feels not a shred of joy or elation, because for a man "whose heart is filled with nought but hate", there is no room for any other feeling, and he might as well be dead already.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Some of the murders have a political angle that is more often than not sympathetic.
    • Reid and Susan with regards to locking up Susan's father in a soon-to-be-built-over cellar and letting him die slowly, because they can't arrest him for his crimes. This comes back to haunt Reid with a vengeance at the end of season 4, along with the murder described below under Wham Episode, and several other incidents when he wasn't exactly policing "by the book", which had been covered up by Chief Inspector Abberline.
  • Wham Episode: "The Beating of her Wings", episode two of the third season, packs one hell of a wallop. Reid's daughter is alive and brainwashed. The Inspector, unaware of this, finds the man he thinks killed her, beats him to death against a stone wall and, blood-spattered and staring, walks off into the streets of Whitechapel. This is made worse by the fact that, while the man had been imprisoning her, he hadn't actually raped or starved her as Reid was made to believe but instead cared for her like a daughter. And the man was clearly mentally disabled and didn't understand what he was doing was wrong.
    • Also, the last episode of season 4 "Edmund Reid Did This", which sends the heroes on the run from the law ( and kills off Drake), which then changes the whole structure of the show for the last season from a social-justice-themed police procedural with mystery-of-the-week plots to an even darker character drama with a more serialized plot about unmasking the Police Commissioner as the villain he is, while they're being hunted by the new boss of H Division, Detective Inspector Shine.
  • Wham Line: "Sir, when we find the people who did this... may we kill them?"
  • Would Hurt a Child: Reid would, if the child is a pubescent sociopath who captured his daughter and was just about to sell her to be gang-raped. In fact, he will half drown that boy to find her, not even bothering to try threatening him first, which probably would have been sufficient. Drake, on the other hand, has more scruples. (At least at that point in his Character Development.)
    Reid: Fear not, Inspector, I will not kill him. Not yet.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Jackson calls Susan by her real name, Caitlin, when trying to defend his actions in investing in a doomed mining scheme. Susan is having none of it, though. She uses his real name, Matthew, as she calls him out. In later episodes it's seen that they have a tendency to do this when circumstances are bad (which is more and more as the series continues), making them walking illustrations of this trope.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: In "I Need Light", after Drake rescues Rose and kills the man who was attacking her, Reid turns to Creighton, the photographer hired to film the murder with his revolutionary new motion picture camera. Creighton is prepared for Reid to descend like the wrath of God, but he is not expecting Reid to say that, whatever punishment he receives for his actions, his camera is a truly extraordinary invention. Instead of feeling warmed, Creigton bursts into tears, thinking only of the horrific uses he has been paid to put his camera to, and is Driven to Suicide.