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Series / Roswell, New Mexico

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Roswell, New Mexico is the second adaptation of the Roswell High YA novels and began airing on The CW in 2019.

Liz Ortecho, a daughter of undocumented immigrants, discovers that her crush is actually an alien who has been hiding his powers and tries to keep this discovery as much a secret from others as possible.

Tropes in this series include:

  • Abusive Parents: Sergeant Manes is outright called abusive by his son Alex, who considers losing his leg in Iraq to be less traumatic than living under his roof. At first it just seems to be general emotional abuse, as he's very controlling of his son and very disappointed when he figures out he's gay, but when he found out that Alex and Michael had sex in the toolshed, he brandishes a hammer and breaks Michael's hand with it when he gets in the way.
  • Action Survivor: Liz. No combat skills, no alien superpowers, just Nerves of Steel. When Wyatt tries to kill her, she starts Counting Bullets, then ambushes him while reloading. Later when he tries to burn her alive in a wooden box soaked with fuel, she waits for the fire to weaken the box and kicks her way out.
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  • Adaptational Sexuality: Both Michael and Alex were straight in the original book series and earlier TV show; here, Alex is gay and Michael is bisexual.
  • Alien Among Us: The aliens hide their identities from their friends, families, and romantic partners.
  • Aliens are Bastards: As far as Sergeant Manes is concerned, aliens are inherently evil, supported by the fact that they were attacking humans. Isobel comes to believe it about herself after she learns that she killed three girls under the influence of another personality, wondering if their species was actually evil and they're all destined to become killers. Both she and Max have had episodes where they become unstable and violent.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The fourth alien uses all three of the aliens' powers much more strongly than they do, due to having greater experience, and hints that they could as well if they practiced more.
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  • And I Must Scream: Noah's pod malfunctioned and he was completely conscious from 1947 until he got out. As morally repugnant as his possession of Isobel was, it's easy to see why he'd be desperate for ANY way out at the end of it.
  • Angst Nuke: After absorbing destructive energy from resurrecting Liz, Max becomes more and more strung out, which finally culminates in him releasing it all at once and knocking out the town's power.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Max to Liz in episode 3, to explain why he would never hurt Rosa or anyone close to her.
  • Arc Symbol: Three distinct circles connected to a triangle. The aliens often create it subconsciously, but they don't know what it means.
  • Artificial Limbs: Alex lost a leg while deployed to Iraq, and has a prosthetic replacement. Michael seems to take this in stride, and we see Alex without the prosthetic while they’re lying in bed together.
  • Being Good Sucks: Liz, Max, and Kyle are all under various codes to protect and help people even when those people don't deserve it or even when it's personal for them, and frequently have to be reminded by themselves or others that they can't make exceptions.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The aliens drink nail polish remover when hurt or otherwise in need of healing (e.g. after using their powers).
  • A Bloody Mess: Inverted. After Liz is shot and Max heals her, he uses ketchup to disguise the blood.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Alex pretty much any time he's around his father. Culminates in "Barely Breathing" when half the episode is just Alex calling out his dad for wasting the family money and defying orders to keep his secret alien hobby going, then forces him to permanently transfer out of Roswell under the threat of exposing this to the military.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: The initial apparent status of Max and Liz, at least as far as Max knows – she definitely has more feelings for him than she admits.
  • Children Forced to Kill: Max had to kill a drifter who was threatening Isobel when they were young, and Michael helped cover it up. All three of them are traumatized by it.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Grant Green, the local alien nut who traces everything, no matter how minor, to aliens. He's fully aware of the actual alien presence, but the government paid him to keep quiet, so he floods the airwaves with fake aliens to make actual events seem small in comparison.
  • Cultured Badass: Max loves classic literature like Tolstoy, Shakespeare, and Mary Shelley. He's also a cop with superpowers.
  • Curse Cut Short: A much younger Michael lets out a "What the f..." when Max kills the drifter.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: Liz ambushes Noah this way with a syringe.
  • Disposable Vagrant: The Serial Killer goes after homeless people, addicts, and undocumented people who won't be missed. For people who will, he mind controls others to do the killing for him.
  • Fake Faith Healer: Max and Michael chase down one in Texas when they see she's using their symbol. She's completely unapologetic about it, saying that if people already dehumanize her as a Magical Native American and Nubile Savage she might as well get money from it. She's not involved, but her mother is, as the tribe hid an alien on their reservation for decades until she died.
  • Fantastic Racism: The aliens rightly fear xenophobic retaliation. Sergeant Ames seems to firmly believe that aliens are Always Chaotic Evil and the government seems to agree with him, and it's not clear if the Roswell alien attack was actually an invasion or if they were fighting back against scientists trying to dissect them. Kyle calls him out on this, saying that they should be innocent until proven guilty.
  • For Your Own Good: Why Isobel and Michael agreed to force Liz to leave, fearing that Max would expose their secret to his high school crush. Max is understandably livid when he finds out.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse:
    • Sergeant Manes' fear of aliens is well-founded, having grown up on stories of how the Roswell aliens attacked and killed several men. What isn't well-founded is his homophobic abuse towards his own son.
    • Noah is a refugee from a war-torn planet who crash-landed on Earth just in time to see humans murder his family and retreated into a pod to try and stop the screaming only for the pod to malfunction, leaving him completely conscious for nearly sixty years. After all that, it's explicable why he would be desperate enough to possess Isobel just for a way out. It doesn't change the fact that he murdered 14 people and violated Isobel in a horrific manner for years, and no one in show is willing to let him off the hook for it.
  • Friends with Benefits: Max and Cameron have this sort of relationship initially. She even refers to him as her "scratching post".
  • Gay Cowboy: Michael (technically, Bi Cowboy).
    Alex: Does the macho cowboy swagger thing ever get old with you?
    Michael: Did it get old for you? [1]
  • Healing Hands: Max and a few of the original aliens at Roswell have this ability, and can reverse it to harm people rather than heal them.
  • Human Aliens: The three alien characters look just like humans (although they do each have distinct alien superpowers).
  • Human Popsicle: Or alien, in this case. The pods froze the aliens at 7 years old for 50 years and removed their past memories. Later, Isobel has to be put in one to save her life.
  • Indirect Kiss: One of the first moments of Ship Tease between Liz and Max is her sharing a shake with him. And then the moment is killed by gunshots.
  • Interspecies Romance: All of the alien characters have a human love interest, although only one of them knows their love interest is an alien.
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: After Wyatt makes a few vulgar comments towards her, Cameron challenges him to a shooting contest, handily beats him, and then shoots out his tire just for the hell of it.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Isobel. When under certain stressors, she starts having blackouts and another, murderous personality takes over. She killed the three girls while under this influence.
  • Karma Houdini: Wyatt Long keeps getting away with his crimes because he successfully pins it on someone else or attacks undocumented people who can't go to the police. Even when he does get caught killing Grant Green and nearly killing Liz, he manages to get off on a self-defense charge for Grant and no charge for Liz by threatening to deport Liz's father unless they cooperate. Max is so pissed off at this that he nearly goes full vigilante to punish him until Liz calls him on it.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: Even without the whole alien thing, everyone in town is hiding something to protect someone else's feelings, and it makes things exponentially worse when it's uncovered. Isobel in particular has a severe identity crisis about the fact that since she lies to everyone, no relationship she has is real.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: All three of the aliens are this to each other, since they don't know who's oldest. Michael and Isobel threaten to murder Liz to keep Max's secret safe and in the past forced her to leave Roswell, and Max and Michael covered up Isobel's murder of three girls and then lied to her claiming it was Michael who killed them. It severely strains their relationships with each other.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Between Liz, Kyle, and Max. Possibly, as Kyle seems to be content to be Friends with Benefits to Liz and his dislike of Max stems from the fact that he thinks he's a murderer, not romantic jealousy. Although he does name drop the trope to his mother, it's a cover-up to explain why he was looking through Max's files.
    • Between Michael, Alex, and Maria. Both of them love Michael, although Alex more deeply. Michael genuinely does love Alex, but Alex's family messes things up and as of the end of season 1, he chooses to be with Maria, as he's been through a lot and wants something less complicated. Unfortunately for him, Maria's starting to figure things out, and it's heavily implied her family has their own connections to the aliens, so it can't last.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Isobel does not like her telepathy powers for this reason. When she tries to make Liz leave Roswell, she's stopped by a vision of Rosa confronting her.
  • Misplaced Retribution: The entire town harasses and shuns Liz and Arturo because Rosa died in a car accident and took two people with her. Racism is a significant factor in it, though.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: Liz initially assumes the man who was writing to Rosa before she died was having an affair with her. Kyle investigates further, and realizes that he was actually Rosa's real father, and the love in question was parental.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Michael trying to free the remaining aliens at Caulfield sets off the self-destruct and ends up killing everyone inside. He's completely devastated afterwards.
  • Parental Substitute: Jim Valenti was this to pretty much every kid in town, acting as Rosa's and Alex's father figure when their own parents weren't enough. Of course with Rosa, it's revealed he was her actual father.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Wyatt Long, who lost his sister when Rosa died and turned that into a virulent hatred of all Mexicans, especially the Ortechos whom he tries to kill multiple times.
  • The Power of Love: Max can't actually bring back dead people, no matter how hard he tries. And yet somehow, he brought back Liz.
  • Psychoactive Powers: Max healing a dying Liz messes with his powers and mental state, leaving him with a Hair-Trigger Temper around anything involving her.
  • Questionable Consent: Defied. Max refuses to have a relationship with Liz until their temporary psychic bond wears off so there's no chance of him influencing her.
  • Reality Ensues: Isobel repeatedly hiding things from her husband strains their relationship, and leads to him deciding to take a break until she's ready to be honest.
  • Reformed Bully: It's revealed that Kyle used to bully Alex in high school after he came out. Alex is surprisingly understanding of the whole thing, saying that Kyle did it out of fear and that between his abusive father and fighting in Iraq he's been through much worse. Michael isn't as forgiving and there's still some tension between them.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: The fourth alien sets fire to Liz's research wing to keep her from making the antidote that could help people remember them. However, the person they use as a proxy is an epileptic pacifist, which helps her connect the dots that he's mind controlling people into killing for him, and Isobel and Wyatt were victims of this.
  • Roswell That Ends Well: The whole premise of the show, that the alien landing in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 was real.
  • Serial Killer: There's a fourth alien in Roswell, and they've claimed at least 16 lives either through direct murder or by mind controlling others.
  • Sex with the Ex: Liz and Kyle dated in high school, and hook up again upon Liz’s return to Roswell. They both seem clear on the fact that it’s just sex and not getting back together. Alex and Michael also hook up after having been a thing in high school, but there are way more complicated feelings for them.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: After a blackout leaves a hospital without power and a young boy on life support, Max says "screw it" to the whole keeping secrets no matter what thing and heads to the basement to repower the transformer. Luckily, he manages to pass it off as just him messing with the transformer. Unluckily, his partner starts connecting the dots.
  • Silver Has Mystic Powers: The sci fi version of it. A silver solution is needed to manipulate the membrane of the pods that the aliens were in.
  • Take That!:
    • Since the series is near the border and stars undocumented immigrants, there's a number of jabs at current immigration policy. The characters themselves are split on the controversy, but pretty much all of them hate the current administration's way of dealing with it.
    • The gun store owner sells Kyle a gun without a background check, then when Kyle rants about family and code and killing in a way that makes it clear he's way too unstable to have one, he gives him a discount.
  • They Would Cut You Up: The aliens are very wary of the humans finding them for this reason, believing that they'd be locked up and dissected. Isobel and Michael are livid when they learn that Max let Liz experiment on him, even though it was just comparing skin cells.
  • The Unfavorite: Isobel and Max were adopted by the Evans while Michael was left behind in foster care until he eventually aged out, something that's soured his relationship with them.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Liz eventually realizes that Isobel, Wyatt, and the barista were all controlled, as they had no memory of trying to murder the people they did, blacked out just before, and acted out of character during these times. This leads her and Max to realize they must have all been mind controlled into murder.
  • Walking Techbane: Max has Shock and Awe powers and thus breaks nearby electronics when he's pissed or hurt. After his Anguished Declaration of Love to Liz, Max accidentally knocks out the entire town.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Don't Speak". Grant Green is killed, Wyatt is involved in the cover up somehow, Jim Valenti was Rosa's father, and it was Isobel who killed the three girls (although it's heavily implied she wasn't in control).
    • "Songs About Texas". Rosa was the first of 14 victims who died under similar circumstances and Jim Valenti might have been another victim, Isobel's husband discovers their secret, Max and Liz finally get together, and there might be a fourth alien in Roswell.
    • "Champagne Supernova". Noah is the fourth alien and the killer, and Liz manages to depower him.
  • Wham Line: From "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing", Isobel's last memory of Rosa reveals that she was being controlled by another person when she murdered Rosa.
    Isobel: I can be that man for you.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The US government takes this view about the aliens. The Caulfield facility has been torturing and experimenting on aliens for over 70 years since the crash, and the people inside consider it completely justified because of the aliens' powers, claiming that they're naturally evil and want to genocide humanity, thus justifying whatever they do to them. Flint is eager to show Alex the weapons they've made against aliens, and when Alex asks about the UN restrictions against bioweapons and genocide, Flint blithely says those only apply to Earth.
  • Window Love: Between Michael and his mother in the Caulfield facility, so they can psychically connect.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Played with. It's less that Max won't hit a girl as much as he won't hit his sister, so when she's possessed she easily beats him down and nearly kills him before being forced to flee when Cameron arrives.

Example of: