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Series / Roswell, New Mexico

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Roswell, New Mexico is an adaptation of Roswell High YA novels by Melinda Metz that began airing on The CW in 2019. It is the series' second live-action adaptation, after Roswell, which aired on The CW's two predecessors, The WB and UPN, from 1999 to 2001.note 

Liz Ortecho (Jeanine Mason), brilliant biomedical researcher and daughter of undocumented immigrants, returns to her hometown after ten years away and reunites with her childhood friends, deputy sheriff Max Evans (Nathan Dean Parsons), bartender Maria DeLuca (Heather Hemmens), and doctor Kyle Valenti (Michael Trevino), whom she dated years ago.

When Liz undergoes a Near-Death Experience, she is unexpectedly healed by Max. She promptly discovers that Max is actually a Human Alien who has been hiding his powers in order to blend in. Although Liz promises to keep Max's secret, his siblings and fellow aliens Isobel (Lily Cowles), who was raised alongside him, and Michael Guerin (Michael Vlamis), who was adopted by a different family, are far less trusting... and even Max himself, though kindly inclined towards Liz and usually sympathetic, has poorly concealed anger issues and a definite dark side.


Now that she's home, Liz finds herself thinking more and more about her older sister Rosa (Amber Midthunder), who died just before Liz left—whose death, in fact, was the instigation for Liz to leave Roswell forever. Initially digging into Rosa's death in order to gain closure, Liz soon discovers that nothing about Rosa's death was as it seemed.

The cast also includes Alex Manes (Tyler Blackburn), an Air Force veteran and Michael's boyfriend, Jesse Manes (Trevor St John), Alex's homophobic father, and Noah Bracken (Karan Oberoi), Isobel's husband who has no idea that she is an alien.

In May 2022, it was announced that the series would end with season four.


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.
    • Liz and Rosa's mother was emotionally abusive, pushing Liz to be perfect by withholding affection if she wasn't, driving drunk with her daughters in the car, and enabling Rosa's addictions. She outright abandoned the family when Rosa threatened to out her affair with Jim Valenti and hasn't been in contact with the family since. She finally arrives in "Como la Flor" when Arturo asks her to transfer her half of the diner to Liz so she can sponsor his residency and acts regretful of her past actions....only to reveal she was only there to steal from the safe and refuses to admit she did anything wrong, signing the papers and then leaving once she has Arturo's mother's ring. Like many abusers, she does seem to genuinely love her children, but not enough to actually care for them.
    • Michael was abused by his foster father before the events of the series.
    • The Dictator introduces himself to Michael and then immediately tries to murder him. When that fails, he goes straight to torture and emotional manipulation.
  • 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.
  • Adaptational Diversity: In the original, all of the main cast were straight and White.
    • Here, the main character Liz is a Latinanote , while Kyle becomes Latino too.
    • Isobel and Michael become bisexuals.
    • Alex becomes both gay and half Native American (Navaho).
    • Maria is now Black.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: Isobel, Michael and Alex were straight in the original book series and earlier TV show; here, Alex is gay and Michael and Isobel are bisexual.
  • Adaptation Species Change: In the book series Maria is human, here a descendant of a crash survivor.
  • Age-Appropriate Angst: Rosa in season 2 has a hard time coping with her return to life, isolation, and her newfound powers, which is not helped by the fact that everyone she knew as a kid is now an adult.
  • Age Lift: The main characters have all been aged up about ten years from the high school students they were in the source books and predecessor series.
  • 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. She's not, but the alien who was controlling her is.
  • Alien Autopsy: One serves as the cold open late in season 1.
  • 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.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Jones was described as "pure evil" by Nora, and he certainly acts creepy and shows some anger issues, plus he attacked the military that responded to Roswell. On the other hand, it's heavily implied that Nora and Louise weren't the saintly victims they claimed to be, he's been cooperative thus far and he does love Max like a son. The ambiguity ends in "Goodbye Elizabeth", when it's revealed that he was the dictator of their homeworld and his "love" for Max is pure narcissism.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Wyatt Long after Rosa accidentally erases ten years of his life. He's shocked by how terrible he once was and the crimes he committed.
  • 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.
    • Related to that same pod after Max gave his life to bring back Rosa he was put there in hopes of preserving his body until they could heal him but as Rosa will come to find out through dreams he had been in pain while Michael and Liz tried every sort of methods and machines to strengthen his severely weakened body .
  • 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. It's eventually revealed that the three circles correspond to the three aliens.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: In "Good Mother", Liz is angry at Max for getting himself killed reviving Rosa, without even asking her. He had no right to do it.
    Jenna: Would you have let him save her? If he had asked, I mean, would you have stopped him?
    Liz: (takes a shot) There are some choices people should never have to make.
  • 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.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Liz is revived from death by gunshot with Max's healing ability.
    • Later, her sister Rosa is brought back too.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Jones spends the first half of season 3 trying to break into Maria's mind. She manages to keep him contained until he kills enough people to force himself through, and then she's able to barricade herself until Rosa and Isobel arrive to back her up. Isobel then drags him through Maria's memories and away from the memory he wants, buying them time for Maria to wake up.
  • 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.
  • Benevolent Conspiracy: Deep Sky, an organization dedicated to figuring out alien technology and creating a peaceful second contact after the government imprisoned and tortured the first aliens. Jim Valenti was a part of it, and Alex joins in season 3 to seek out an alien machine.
  • Bilingual Bonus: There is occasional untranslated Spanish spoken in the show, though non-speakers can probably figure it out from context clues.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Manes family, almost solely due to the efforts of Jesse Manes. Jesse abused his son Alex for being gay, terrifying his other son Flint into becoming a fanatical Army man and his wife and oldest son Greg into leaving, all while impressing his very specific and toxic idea of what it meant to be a man on all three of his sons. Jesse doesn't hesitate to kill Alex just for being a loose end and Flint kidnaps Alex and sets up a fake terrorist attack partially as his revenge against Jesse and lashes out at Alex when he points out that Flint was also abused by their father. It says a lot that Greg killing Jesse is the first sign of the family healing rather than being broken apart. In the past, Harlan and Tripp Manes continued this tradition, with Harlan killing Tripp and blaming it on the aliens, in order to radicalize a young Jesse.
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: Between Michael, Alex, and Maria. Michael and Alex have a long complicated history, while Michael and Maria have a standing flirtation that starts to become more. Michael genuinely does love Alex, and as of the end of season 1, he chooses to be with Maria, because he feels Alex and him aren't good for each other and because of his growing feelings for Maria. This is further complicated by Maria and Alex being best friends and not wanting to hurt each other and Maria not having known about Alex and Michael's history for most of the first season. In Season 2, Michael and Maria date on and off and, at one point, have an emotionally fraught threesome with Alex, who also gets his own Satellite Love Interest. By the end of the season, the triangle is largely resolved: Michael and Maria break up and he expresses hope for him and Alex in the future.
  • Bi-Wildered: Max is initially confused when he hears that Michael has feelings for Maria, having assumed that he was gay due to his years-long hangup over Alex. Michael rather bluntly sets the record straight:
    Max: Are you into her? Because here I was thinking you were gay.
    Michael: We are literally aliens, and you're going to hold me to some outdated binary of sexuality? I'm bisexual, Max. It's not that complicated.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The aliens drink nail polish remover when hurt or otherwise in need of healing (e.g. after using their powers). There is apparently some healing properties of the acetone and that is just the most readily available source.
  • A Bloody Mess: Inverted. After Liz is shot and Max heals her, he uses ketchup to disguise the blood.
  • Body Surf: The dictator of the alien's homeworld created clones and hopped through them to give the illusion that he was invincible and immortal. Nora, Louise, and Theo found out and destroyed all his clones except for one: Max, who they spared because he was just a child. As a downside, any body he jumps into suffers from rapid Clone Degeneration so he needs to keep switching. He succeeds in swapping bodies with Max after tricking them into letting him bond with him.
  • Bonding Through Shared Earbuds: As seen in Max's memories of his childhood friendship with Liz.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Sheriff Valenti, a child of struggling but documented immigrants, dislikes the Ortechos because of their undocumented status and because one of their daughters (supposedly) was killed while drunk driving, getting two white girls killed. Because racists group all Latinos together the Sheriff resents being associated with them.
    "I don't like [Liz's]'s family. My parents struggled for years in poverty so that they could enter this country legally because they believed in America. In freedom, in patriotism, in the law. And people who defy that law give us all a bad name."
  • Break the Cutie: Rosa in "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space", when she learns that the whole town hates her and harassed her family because Max made her death look like a cause of drunk driving. That, and combined with hearing Max's voice begging not to be revived, results in her Drowning Her Sorrows. At the end of the next episode, she realize she messed up and ruined everything, breaking into tears in Liz's arms.
  • Cain and Abel: The sympathetic Alex and his genocidal brother Flint, whose conflict often escalates to violence. It runs in the family, as their grandfather and great-uncle were also on opposite sides of how to deal with the aliens, which culminated in Harlan murdering Tripp and blaming it on the aliens.
  • 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.
  • Child by Rape: A version. While Isobel and Noah's child was probably conceived consensually, he nonetheless violated her mentally for years and likely groomed her into the relationship, and her horror at finding out that she's pregnant by him is in line with the trope. She winds up aborting via the alien serum, which nearly kills her.
  • 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.
  • Childish Older Sibling: Liz was a good bit more mature than her older sister Rosa. This dynamic magnifies when Rosa is resurrected in season 2, as she's still a teenager while Liz is an adult.
  • 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.
  • Connected All Along: Roswell is supposed to be a small town, so it's perhaps not surprising that most characters have previously crossed paths.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Grant Green, the local alien nut who traces everything, no matter how minor, to aliens. Ray Iburg is another one, but with a twist: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.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Downplayed. Because of Michael's self-esteem issues, the people around him eventually realize that insulting him is one of the best ways to make him internalize what they're saying to him. Case in point, when Michael says he's just as cruel as his father, Walt calls him stupid for believing something that ridiculous.
  • 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.
  • Death by Racism:
    • A recurring background character who's part of Wyatt's posse gets killed by Noah after making an anti-Hispanic crack about him. For the record, Noah is an alien who resembles an Indian man.
    • Jones kills Zeke Murphy after coming across him beating on a farmer, who is a minority. He says that he killed an evil racist so that he could have enough energy to save Max's life, and by extension, Liz's and Kyle's.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The 1947 flashbacks display period-accurate racism and sexism.
  • Destroy the Abusive Home: In the season 2 finale, Michael and Alex destroy the shed Jesse found them in together and where he broke Michael's hand. It takes a turn for the worse when they find the remnants of Tripp Manes.
  • Disabled Love Interest: Alex is very much his own character, not just a love interest, but one of the most intimate scenes between him and Michael features Michael running his broken hand over the stump of Alex’s leg when they’re lying in bed together.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?", Kate and Jasmine plan to make Liz's life miserable if she doesn't took them up.
  • 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.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • In the past, Roy Bronson (a black man) starts up a romance with Louise (an alien who resembles a white woman). When they're discovered by the government, Bronson is killed with her and is labeled a "traitor to his own kind" for it. Keep in mind that this takes place before interracial marriage was legalized in New Mexico.
    • While most of the parallels to Fantastic Racism refer to aliens as refugees and immigrants, Flint Manes (who is half-Navajo), believes that they're here to colonize Earth.
  • Down in the Dumps: Michael lives and works at the town's junkyard, stealing bits and pieces to try and rebuild his ship and dodging the abrasive alcoholic owner. Turns out Walt knows he's an alien and has been looking after him, to pay back his mother for caring for him when he was a boy.
  • Dramatic Irony: Max, baffled by Isobel's strange behavior during the events of "Smells Like Teen Spirit", asks her who she is, because she isn't Isobel. She's possessed by Noah at that moment.
  • Entitled Bastard: Noah loved Rosa, and killed her when she tried to runaway when he confessed that he killed Kate and Jasmine. While being questioned, he screamed that he's entitled to her.
  • Everyone Is Bi: 2 out of the 3 main aliens have come out as bisexual and Isobel outright states that this trope may apply to the aliens.
    Isobel: I mean, what does an alien care about human gender constructs?
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Roswell is portrayed as a Small Town, so it's not surprising that nearly all of the main characters went to school together.
  • Evil Doppelgänger: In the ending to season 2, it's revealed that Max has one, who was an adult at the time of the crash. He caused the crash and attacked the soldiers (who were standing down), chained up Max as a child, and pursued Nora and Louise before sealing himself in a cocoon to wait for their awakening. Season 3 makes him a bit more Ambiguously Evil.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Noah, at least in Isobel's head, in "Recovering the Satellites".
  • Face Framed in Shadow: In the final scene of the season 3 finale, a Mysterious Waif meets with a woman named Allie, who has her face covered by shadows for most of the scene, until the Mysterious Waif mentions Liz's name, prompting the woman the bend forward and revealing this new character is being played by Shiri Appleby, the Original Liz from Roswell.
  • 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.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Liz uses this when her and Kyle are almost caught stealing hospital equipment. Liz thinks nothing of it but it brings up some old feelings for Kyle, made all the more awkward by the fact that they were caught by the woman Kyle's been having a flirtation with.
  • Fantastic Racism: The aliens rightly fear xenophobic retaliation. Sergeant Manes 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:
    • Isobel. Gender Flipped and bisexual, but she's a queer woman with a cowboy aesthetic.
    • Michael (technically, Bi Cowboy).
    Alex: Does the macho cowboy swagger thing ever get old with you?
    Michael: Did it get old for you?
  • Gold Digger: What Liz's mom turned out to be in "Como la Flor".
  • Good All Along: Tripp Manes is initially set up to be the main villain in the past, seeking out and murdering the aliens and any humans that stand with them (or are just in the way). It's eventually revealed that he was actually helping them escape and hide, and it was his brother who did the killing.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted when Isolel learns she's pregnant from her dead husband Noah. She agonizes briefly before having an abortion by injecting herself with the serum which Liz made, not wanting to have his child. This is treated neutrally on the show.
  • Good Parents: Arturo, Liz and Rosa's father, is a supportive and loving parent who will do anything for his children. He supports Liz's decisions, crossed the border to give them a better life, and has been working towards citizenship for over 20 years for their sake. When Liz (accidentally) reveals that Rosa isn't his biological daughter, he replies that he already knows and doesn't care, since she's his daughter in every way that matters.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Whoever the original aliens were fleeing from, and why. Season 3 finally reveals that it was a dictator who took over their home planet and starting oppressing the people, leading the aliens to flee their homeworld when their rebellion against him failed.
  • Healing Hands: Max has this ability, and eventually realizes that he can reverse it to harm people rather than heal them. Jones, his original donor, has it too.
  • Heal It with Booze: Max gets shot in the shoulder and can't go to the hospital, so he opts for whiskey and Self-Surgery.
  • His Name Is...: Isobel and Max go to the Navajo reservation to talk to a dying old man who may have known their mother. They're able to forge a psychic link with him and he tells them as much as he knows, but the strain of the connection (worsened by Max freaking out) almost kills him and Isobel has to break the link before he can reveal more about whoever Louise was running from.
  • Hourglass Plot: Subtly between Michael and Isobel. At the beginning Michael felt disconnected from humanity and wanted to go home to his world, and Isobel wanted to blend in and just be a regular guy. By the season finale, thanks to all they've gone through, it's Michael who wants a normal, stable life, while Isobel is starting to explore her powers.
  • Human Aliens: The three alien characters look just like humans (although they do each have distinct alien superpowers).
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: When one of the aliens is cut open, their internal organs and blood are glowing green.
  • 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.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Jenna's sister Charlie is introduced while pretending she's an FBI Agent. She often uses the "Agent Powell" persona afterward.
  • 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.
  • Insult Friendly Fire: A rare self-directed version. After a particularly rough reveal about his parentage, Michael tells Alex that he's just doomed to be evil because of his DNA. Alex, whose own father was an abusive prick and the Big Bad of the second season, snarks that he probably has some torturing to do if that's the case.
  • Internal Reveal: In "Como la Flor", Arturo overheard Liz argument with her mom about her affair with Jim Valenti and that Jim is Rosa's biological father. However, Arturo later tells Liz that he's always known, but it didn't matter to him since he raised Rosa as his own daughter.
  • Interspecies Romance: All of the alien characters have a human love interest, although only one of them knows their love interest is an alien.
  • It's All My Fault: In "What If God Was One of Us?", Isobel learns that Arturo blamed himself for Rosa's death, because the last time they talked he told her he's given up trying to help her. Since her death, he's been going to church, begging for forgiveness.
  • 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.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: In "Walk On The Ocean", Isobel and Maria have to undergo one to clarify her vision, guided by a construct of Liz in a white rabbit hat. To get through, they have to face all the things they've been repressing.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: An atypical one. ICE tends to seize and deport undocumented victims and criminals even when they're in the middle of an investigation, making it harder for the local police department to do their job.
  • 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 Ray Iburg 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.
  • Kidnapped Scientist:
    • Both Michael and Jenna's sister Charlie get kidnapped by Flint Manes to make weapons for him, with their loved ones being threatened to force them to cooperate.
    • In season 3, Jones kidnaps Liz's lab partner to help him figure out his degenerative condition, and then eventually kidnaps Liz herself.
  • 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.
  • Language of Truth: Variation. People cannot lie in the mindscape. They can, however, misdirect, share limited information, or avoid the question, so the characters don't put as much stock in it as they would.
  • Last Disrespects: Michael swaggers into Noah's funeral drunk, in dirty clothes, and shoves people in the pews. He's likely acting out for Isobel's sake, since she has to pretend to be his grieving widow. Isobel and Liz also have a row about Max's death during the reception afterwards.
  • Love Triangle: It's The CW, what do you expect?
    • In the first couple of seasons, a relatively low-key one Liz, Kyle, and Max. Possibly, as Kyle seems to be content to be Friends with Benefits to Liz and his dislike of Max isn't romantic jealousy so much as his suspicion that Max is a killer. 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 through the first two seasons. Alex and Michael had a secret relationship in high school that they've picked back up a decade later, but their mutual trust issues stop it before it gets very far. Michael also has some Belligerent Sexual Tension with Maria that eventually leads to them dating. Resolved after Maria and Michael break up at the end of Season 2, and Michael and Alex get back together midway through Season 3.
    • Briefly, between Michael, Alex, and Forrest. After breaking up with Maria, Michael acknowledges that he's jealous of Forrest and Alex's growing relationship. In the third season, Forrest leaves town and Alex chooses not to go with him, leaving the door open to getting back with Michael.
    • Isobel starts dating Anatsa in Season 3, but it slowly becomes apparent that Kyle has feelings for Isobel too, although she doesn't seem to know it yet.
  • Magic Antidote: The antidote to Liz's serum works very quickly.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Season 2 sees Isobel, who's fairly feminine (with long hair, wearing makeup, jewelry, skirts etc often) date a more butch female bartender who has short hair and more masculine attire.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Isobel does not like her telepathy powers for this reason. In season 2 she comments that she inadvertently learned far more about her mother's long-ago ex-boyfriend than she ever wanted to know. When she tries to make Liz leave Roswell, she's stopped by a vision of Rosa confronting her.
  • Mildly Military: Anyone familiar with Air Force enlisted rank structure is going to cringe every time some addresses Chief Master Sergeant Manes as “Master Sergeant”—a two rank demotion.
  • Misplaced Retribution: The entire town harasses and shuns Liz and Arturo because Rosa died in a car accident while drunk, 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.
  • Muggle-and-Magical Love Triangle: Alien Michael is in a triangle between two humans, Alex and Maria. Maria later turns out to be part alien.
  • Muggles Do It Better: Due to the vast reservoir of power built up in his sword, Jones is able to No-Sell Michael and Isobel's attempts to telekinetically hurt him. Then Rosa rolls in with a shotgun and blasts him off his feet.
  • Naked on Arrival: In the season 3 finale, a young woman heavily implied to be an Oasian is seen arriving on Careyes while completely naked (with Shoulders-Up Nudity), and seemingly not noticing her nudity attracts attention. One of the women in town is quick to give her a blanket to cover up.
  • 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.
  • No Such Thing as Space Jesus: Discussed in season 3, as there's an alien who's a pastor. Michael, who was hurt by fundamentalists in the past who mistook his alien powers as demonic, is highly skeptical of religion. The pastor, on the other hand, sees no contradiction between his faith and his extraterrestrial origin.
  • Not Actually His Child: It turns out that Rosa isn't Arturo's biological child, as his wife had an affair with Jim Valenti, who's Rosa's biological father.
  • Oh, Crap!: All over Michael's face when he sees Maria and Rosa together and realizes that she's figured out everything.
  • Organic Technology: The alien tech is at least partially organic.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Arturo suffered this when Rosa died in a car accident (and worse, two girls were killed as well, for which she's loathed, thus adding to the pain). She turns out to not be his biological child, but he didn't know then.
  • 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.
  • Parting Words Regret: The last time Liz and Rosa talk, they had an argument over using the car, which was written "Go back to Mexico" by Kate and Jasmine. Upset, Liz accuses Rosa of being just like their mom, Rosa respond that she's still around, unlike mom.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: In "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?", Isobel was acting out because Max would be leaving town, leaving her.
  • Plot Hole: There are three different birth and death dates given for Rosa, along with an inconsistency in regards to her age versus the year after she's resurrected.
  • 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.
  • Properly Paranoid: In episode 4, Ray Iburg claims the blackout was caused by aliens. He's right, since it was caused by Max, whose abilities are on the fritz.
  • 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.
  • Queer Establishing Moment:
    • Alex is established as gay early on when he and Michael kiss, then have sex offscreen.
    • Michael meanwhile is then established as bisexual when he has sex with Maria later. He confirms this to Max later.
    • Isobel is established as bisexual when it turns out that she loved Rosa, while she's married to Noah.
  • 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.
  • Race Lift: Several of the characters are changed from White to ethnic/racial minorities.
    • Kyle is Latino.
    • Alex is half Navaho.
    • Maria is now Black.
  • 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.
  • Remake Cameo:
    • Jason Behr, who played Max in the original show, plays Tripp Manes here, an Army man who responded to the original Roswell crash.
    • Shiri Appleby, who played Liz in the original show, is introduced as Liz's former teacher Allie in season 3.
  • 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.
  • The Rez: The Navajo reservation near Roswell plays a key part in season 2. It's where Alex's mother is from and where his brother Gregory fled to, and more importantly, it's where Tripp Manes hid Louise from the government after they were discovered in Roswell.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Season 3 references the 2021 New Mexico wildfires frequently, and they even become a plot point when Maria realizes that the snow in her vision is actually ash.
  • Rip Van Winkle: Rosa is revived in the second season, nearly a decade after her death, and struggles with her relationship with Liz who is now older than her.
  • Roswell That Ends Well: The whole premise of the show, that the alien landing in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 was real.
  • Rule of Three: There are three nodes on the Arc Symbol, and there are three aliens. There's also confirmation that their parents were part of a triad that led La Résistance against the dictator of their homeworld and fled to Earth to escape him. As it turns out, however, Max isn't one of the three. The actual third one, Dallas, was hidden further away.
  • Satellite Love Interest: In season 2, Forrest, for Alex. We know very little about him other than his job and his general personality, and he only interacts briefly with anyone other than the character he’s a love interest for. Subverted when he turns out to be a Deep Sky agent.
  • Saying Too Much: Ray Iburg was shot for telling Liz that he really did see aliens and was paid to keep quiet about it. He ends up getting shot in the head.
    Wyatt: All you had to do was not talk!
  • Secret Chaser: Sheriff Valenti is looking in on Noah's death, and suspects Max's involvement since he disappeared shortly after.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Walt, the junkyard owner who employs Michael, has known about the aliens since he and his surrogate father Bronson took in Roswell survivors in the 1940s. He watched over their pods over the years and even tried to adopt Michael, but was passed over for being an unsuitable parent.
  • Secret Test of Character: Deep Sky agents are inducted this way. Alex is put in a waiting room with another would-be agent, then the door is locked and air starts getting sucked out of the room, leaving the two of them to try and survive. That's not the test. The test is to see if Alex can figure out that the other guy is a mole. Once Alex points out a single inconsistency on his Air Force jacket, he laughs and the test ends.
  • Self-Surgery: Max gets shot in the shoulder and can't go to the hospital, so he opts for whiskey and doing it himself.
  • 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 Have Connections!:
    • The entire reason the Roswell Regiment is still running free despite their history of hate crimes is that they have powerful friends in law enforcement and local politics who let them off or use bribery to silence the undocumented victims of their crimes.
    • Diego isn't afraid to use his own federal connections to help out the Ortechos, particularly to intimidate ICE into letting Arturo go free.
  • 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. Near the end of "Recovering the Satellites", he decided to heal Michael's hand, not caring if anyone will notice.
  • Serenade Your Lover: Of a sort. In the season 2 finale, Alex performs a song he wrote about his and Michael’s love story, clearly addressed to Michael. When Michael shows up unexpectedly, Alex sings it at him until he leaves. He tells Forrest the love in the song was a long time ago, but he doesn’t seem convinced.
  • 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.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Aliens who grew up on the homeworld are shown to refer fellow aliens by their title, such as The Empath, The Engineer, The Dictator, or The Savior, or else use their human names even when speaking to other aliens. Whether it's a social convention or actually their names is up in the air.
  • Stalker Shrine: Noah's shrine to Rosa, as shown in the season 1 finale. Bonus points for including the actual corpse of the person he was stalking.
  • Stalker with a Test Tube: Because certain aliens have certain powers, Nora and Louise sought to replicate them so they could be used for La Résistance. They cloned Max from an alien with a unique ability, and Michael is the result of an affair with the Dictator to gain his abilities the old-fashioned way.
  • 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.
    • When they head off to a Navajo reservation to talk with a man who may have known their mother, Isobel snarkily comments that she took a DNA test and discovered that she was "Elizabeth Warren" percent Navajo.
    • ICE is portrayed as thuggish, openly racist, and uncaring, bringing in Arturo (by all accounts a model citizen) simply to fulfill a quota, denying him medication, and manufacturing charges that they instantly dismiss when they find out Liz has government connections.
    • The new sheriff in season 3 talks a big game about her fairness, name dropping Black Lives Matter and promising to get to the bottom of a recent wave of hate crimes, but in practice she lets the local hate group run free because the leader is her friend's son. This is in comparison to Sheriff Valenti, who was honest about not liking illegal immigrants but still did her best to prevent hate crimes against them.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: In season 2, Rosa has repeated nightmares of Noah chasing and attacking her while spouting what seems like nonsense. They eventually realize that it must be bits of Max's memories slipping through their Psychic Link. Max himself manages to break through at the end of "Stay", warning Rosa not to revive him for some reason.
  • Their First Time: The series depicts a couple of first times:
    • In “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” we see a flashback to Michael and Alex’s first time when they were 17. What starts as a very sweet (if slightly nervous) experience turns dark when Jesse catches them afterward and crushes Michael’s hand when Michael pushes him away from Alex.
    • In the season 1 finale, Max and Liz finally have sex for the first time, in the present day.
  • There Is Another: With the ongoing reveal that Max was rescued by the original alien triad, the aliens eventually realize that there must be a fourth alien that was meant to be part of their three. In season 3 they find out that his pod went off course and into a lake, and eventually reunite with him.
  • 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.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: As Dallas is a pastor, he has great trouble with the idea that his father has asked him to kill Max, even though Max himself is okay with it.
  • Three-Way Sex: Alex, Michael and Maria have a threesome after a near death experience.
  • Time Skip: There's a one-year skip between season 2 and 3.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Rosa's extended time in an alien pod and connection to Max messed with her DNA, causing her to gain alien powers.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Two of the supporting characters are both queer women of color.
    • In Season 3, Isobel begins dating Anasta, a black lesbian.
    • Shivani Sen, a wealthy businesswoman, is married to Allie Meyers and played by Rekha Sharma. Her name indicates she's of Indian descent like Sharma is.
  • Uneven Hybrid : Maria and Mimi have alien heritage, descending from a '47 crash survivor.
  • 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.
  • Unwitting Test Subject: It's revealed in season 2 that the US army experimented on people, including Maria's grandmother, without their knowledge or consent to see if alien abilities could be weaponized. Maria cites the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and other real-life examples of this while they're discussing it, and wryly notes that it's far from the first time that black people were targeted for unethical experiments.
  • 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". Ray Iburg 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 the Hell, Hero?: In "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?", after Max revealed the truth behind Rosa's death, Liz tearfully screams at him for making her family the town pariahs and doesn't want to see him again.
  • 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. 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.
  • Wife Husbandry: Noah has been mind-controlling and possessing Isobel ever since she was fourteen.
  • Window Love: Between Michael and his mother in the Caulfield facility, so they can psychically connect.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Experiments in giving alien powers to humans tend to go this way. The De Lucas have a history of mental illness after being experimented on in secret, and after Rosa's time in an alien pod messes with her DNA she's shown to be more unstable and violent, although how much of that is the power and how much is being a traumatized teenager isn't clear.
  • With Us or Against Us: Sergeant Manes believes you are with him in fighting the alien threat, or against him for thinking the aliens aren't the threat.
  • 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.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: In Season 3, it's revealed that Max's body is rejecting Noah's heart.