Follow TV Tropes


Series / S.W.A.T. (2017)

Go To

"The incident commander shall request SWAT when at a barricaded or hostage incident when the suspect is probably armed; the suspect is believed to have been involved in a criminal act or is a significant threat to the lives and safety of the public and/or police; the suspect is in a position of advantage, affording cover and concealment or is contained in an open area and the presence or approach of police officers could precipitate an adverse reaction by the suspect and the suspect refuses to submit to arrest."
Statement seen in the show's opening sequence

S.W.A.T. is a 2017 Police Procedural drama series and an adaptation of the 1975 series of the name (the second of which, after the cinematic remake from 2003). This version was developed for CBS by Shawn Ryan and Aaron Rahsaan Thomas. It stars Shemar Moore in the lead with Stephanie Sigman, Alex Russell, Lina Esco, Kenny Johnson, Peter Onorati, David Lim, Jay Harrington and Patrick St. Esprit. It aired the first episode on November 2, 2017 in North America.

The show centers on Sergeant Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson, an African-American native Angelino and former Marine who is appointed to be the leader of a SWAT element after a shooting incident involving gunrunners seriously wounded an African-American teenager, which ignites racial tensions throughout the Greater Los Angeles Area. Hondo tries to walk the line between doing his duties as a LAPD SWAT officer while navigating department politics and maintaining ties to the community he grew up in. Not to mention that he's hiding a relationship with his superior, Captain Jessica Cortez.


The unit also picks up Jim Street, a new recruit assigned from the Long Beach Police Department. Tensions start to show since he's Hot-Blooded who goes into action without thinking about the serious consequences.

S.W.A.T. has aired four seasons, with the fourth season release being delayed until November 2020 due to production complications from COVID-19. A fifth season was announced in pre-production.

The show is in a shared universe with The Shield.


This show provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The opening shows information on when SWAT started in LA, what their role is and when they're needed in the field.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: In "Armory", an arrested suspect escapes from his cuffs thanks to a hidden stash in his arm he takes Cortez and the Commissioner as hostages in order to make his point of finding his younger sister.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Terradyne Gurkha which Metro uses to transport its elements.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The team is about to arrest a tough crook who is working a remote control. When a drone passes by, they think he's using it as a spy camera. In reality, the guy is playing a video game and the drone is being used to detonate a bomb on a nearby beach, forcing the team to call off the raid and help people.
  • Big Eater: Luca - eats friends out of house and home, runs up food app bills, and knows all the good food trucks in the city.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The only person in the main cast who's died thus far is Erika, a Black woman.
  • Blackmail: In "Imposters", the titular robbers who dressed as SWAT for robbing people forced teenage girls from every family they'd robbed to strip naked, then say on video sexual things they wanted to do, so that they wouldn't report things which could help catch them in fear of this being posted online where it would follow them around for the rest of their lives.
  • Bodyguard Crush: The Character of the Day for S1E16, "Ransom". At the end of the episode, it looks as though his charge might reciprocate his feelings.
  • The Cameo: Ryan Bergara and Shane Madej from Buzzfeed Unsolved appear as a pair of UFO hunters in one episode.
  • Character Tic: Played for laughs as the team makes a game out of it in the third season premiere, with each team member picking a "Hondo-ism" from his favorite sayings and mannerisms (Such as telling the team to “Stay liquid” or grabbing the straps of his tactical vest) with whichever team members left standing at the end of the shift (Or whoever was the last to have their trait used) buying all the food and drink for a party. Naturally, the person who came up with it - Deacon - winds up footing the bill.
  • "Die Hard" on an X:
    • "Armor" for when the LAPD SWAT's own HQ is taken over by an armed criminal.
    • "SOS" has SWAT being deployed on a cruise ship that was hijacked.
    • "Lockdown" is an entire LA courthouse being taken over by Los Mags assassins.
  • Dirty Bomb: The episode "The B-Team" has the LAPD and FBI working together to hunt down a radical faction of the Okinawan independence movement since they wanted to use a dirty bomb against USFJ bases for the crimes committed by USFJ military and civilian personnel against the local populace with assistance from a corrupt research assistant from a research center who was Only in It for the Money.
  • Do-Anything Soldier:
    • SWAT is shown conducting follow-up questioning and investigations after raids and operations. This is a bit of Artistic License as SWAT (especially in a department with a dedicated unit like the LAPD) exists purely to handle dangerous tactical situations with any follow-up being handled by detectives.
    • Justified in the third season premiere as the team is about to pull a raid on a hotel when a drone bomb explodes at the beach just a few yards away. As the team are the closest police in the area, they're the natural first responders. Also, as they had spotted the drone earlier, it makes sense they would be used for the following investigation.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In S1:E3 "Pamilya" Luca is kicked out by his girlfriend and says "... tell me whose car to throw my stuff in," indicating he does't have his own vehicle. In S2:E10 "1,000 Joules" Luca talks about driving his vehicle on an empty freeway because people are gone for the Christmas holidays. This implies he's done it more than once. A truck, presumably owned by Luca, is seen in S2:E23 "Kangaroo."
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Mumford retires with a going away party and a visit from a civilian who he saved back when he was an active SWAT operator in "Invisible".
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • In season 3 "Monster" Aden Syed, a former Somali warlord famed for his brutality escapes to LA and has a wife and child. His wife described him as being a kind man and a good father. Subverted, when he choses to let them die rather than read the confession the hostage-takers have given him.
    • "Memento Mori" has an arms dealer willing to give up the buyer who purchased an assault rifle with a M203 attached since his daughter and her kids were going to a memorial concert the buyer was going to target.
  • Fair Cop: Most of the team are quite good-looking. This is lampshaded in "Homecoming" when Chris, Street and Tan are getting photographed for a publicity piece, where a reporter (who's a very attractive blonde women too) notes all of them are quite photogenic.
  • Far East Asian Terrorists: SWAT and the HRT are deployed in "The B-Team" against a faction of the Okinawan independence movement that has gone radical and wants to make a dirty bomb against USFJ bases in Okinawa thanks to a corrupt research assistant in a research center who was Only in It for the Money.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: "Payback" has the LAPD facing off against a group of ex-Army soldiers who are upset about a private security company double crossing them after being recruited due to the fact that they're experienced in the field.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Used In 3x18, with the team finding a woman brutally murdered in her own kitchen trying to protect her infant daughter, who has a gunshot wound to the face herself. All the viewer sees is a pool of blood, with the horror of the scene being conveyed on the faces of the team.
  • Hiding Behind Religion: In "Hopeless Sinner" Chris and Deacon are both disgusted by Bishop Miller exploiting his church to get money (or, in the end, a bride) by taking advantage of desperate homeless youth.
  • Hollywood Law: In regards to the composition of LAPD SWAT.
    • SWAT Sergeants are shown to have a five man squad under their command; in reality, each Sergeant has two squads of five under their command.
    • SWAT Command is depicted as Captain Cortez and Commander Hicks overseeing the Sergeants. In reality, SWAT command consists of six Sergeants and one Lieutenant.
    • Deacon is a Sergeant, serving as 20-Squad’s second-in-command. In reality, Deacon would be leading his own squad with that rank.
    • Newly promoted Sergeants are depicted as inheriting the callsign of the departing Sergeant; In reality, the callsigns are designated by seniority. Additionally, the 30-David callsign would be reserved for a squad leader, rather than being assigned to Deacon as second in command.
  • Inappropriately Close Comrades:
    • Hondo and Cortez date clandestinely due to fraternization rules preventing a relationship between them (she's his superior too). Once they get caught, it forces them to break up.
    • This is the main factor preventing Chris and Street from dating too. At first she flat out says she'll never date a fellow cop regardless to him.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Deacon and Hondo check in on Deacon's old partner, Hawkins, who had gotten in deep with a mountain gang. They chat it up with Hawkins talking of how glad he was to get out from the gang as they walk around the woods. He mentions how his gang, the Mercs, were always acting up and no shock they'd be targeting the Jackals. At which point, Hondo states they never said which gang the Mercs were targeting. It turns out Hawkins has fallen in with the Mercs for real and his men attack Hondo and Deacon.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Openly used in "Imposters" when a team of crooks pose as SWAT officers to pull off robberies. Naturally, the real team find themselves facing problems showing up after these guys have attacked.
  • Interpol Special Agent: One pops up in "Gasoline Drum" to help the team with a gang from Turkey.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Happens occasionally as the LAPD will clash with federal agencies and even Interpol. When a drone bomb explodes on a beach, a Hollywood cop is set up at point to ensure the various police and federal agencies don't make things harder for the investigation.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Sometimes, Hondo's element does detective work aside from typical SWAT work.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Cuchillo" in Spanish means knifenote . The suspect, who has the same name, has a knife that says "cuchillo" and uses a knife-like weapon to stab a civilian in the leg.
    • "Pamilya" means family in Tagalognote . The said episode involves OFWsnote  forced to serve as drug mules from Manila to LA since their relatives in Manila are targeted as leverage.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Erika mentions she has a Black father and White mother in "Crusade", saying the Imperial Dukes (a racist group) would hate that.
  • Modesty Bedsheet:
    • After having sex with Hondo, Nichelle has a sheet wrapped around her chest.
    • Chris has this later, covering herself after waking up alone in a motel room post sex with a guy.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: The Imperial Dukes, a group of Western Terrorists responsible for several attacks on L.A. as well as the death of Erika.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: After Erika's death, Chris has a one-night stand and departs without giving the guy either her number or even name, despite his request for them (he's interested in more, but she sure isn't).
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: A minor story angle in "Wild Ones" has Chris dealing with the Deputy Mayor in LA City Hall after she pulled over his son for drinking under the influence. He proceeds to make her family's life living hell.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • In the Emancipators' final episode, S2 ep23 "Kangaroo," the bad guys outsource the killing and don't live broadcast the second of three deaths. This is very unusual and is their undoing as the good guys rescue the victim and it is not discovered by the bad guys.
    • In S3 ep 12 "Bad Cop," Street quits SWAT after being AWOL for a few days as he tries to help his foster brother get out from under his drug dealer boss. This runs contrary to all of his Character Development from the prior season as he looks to be making the same mistakes that cost him his spot on the team in the first season - with The Reveal at the end of the episode that he’s undercover with Hondo & Hicks’ knowledge, Street’s actions are the biggest hint that everything is not as it seems.
  • Oh, Crap!: When the LAPD attempts to find a way to breach into the Fuentes residence in "Lion's Den" due to a standoff with the LASD, they heard the baby through audio, which forced to temporarily call off further recon ops.
  • Private Profit Prison: The team was called in to deal with a riot in a privately operated state prison. They soon discovered that the corporation has been Cutting Corners left and right. The prison is overcrowded and its infrastructure unmaintained. The prisoners are made to work in sweat shops. To make the situation worse, experienced guards have been replaced with cheaper new employees who have barely any training. Even the model prisoners are ready to rebel and the prison's vicious gangs are using the riot as a distraction for their own schemes.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The extraction of Afton in "Sins of the Father" is similar to how Carlos Ghosn was able to evade Japanese law enforcement after he was granted bail.
  • Rules Lawyer: The central concept of "SWAT Tag" where teammates cite each other for every minor mistake (such as wearing the wrong color socks or having a pouch unbuckled) to take possession of playing cards that will win them a prize at the end of shift.
  • School Shooting: The heart-stopping Season 2 episode "School" features a school shooting the team answered to in a flashback set six years before the series pilot.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Chris arrests a young man for drunk driving while off duty, but it turns out that his father is the deputy mayor and he makes the case disappear. He'd done so twice before too. She fights to bring him down, and eventually succeeds with Lynch's help, catching the guy on tape admitting his acts, which is used for making him resign (while they urge that his son get the help he needs).
  • Shout-Out:
    • Generation One M.L.P.s are named in S2:E2 "Gasoline Drum" - Ela lists Peppermint Crunch, Banana Surprise, and Peachy, then Deacon asks about Swirly Whirly and Cherries Jubilee.
    • Criminal Minds references:
      • S1:E4 "Radical", a suspect is Kevin Lynch; this is the name of Garcia's long-time FBI tech boyfriend.
      • S2:E9 "Day Off" might have a Shout-Out to Shemare Moore (Hondo)'s previous work on Criminal Minds: Hondo believes that Officer Reid pulled him over out of racism; SSA Spencer Reid was Morgan (Moore)'s best friend.
    • Luca says that Deacon isn't "back to full beast mode yet" in S2:E18 "Cash Flow."
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The series is rather attentive to detail in depicting police procedure, such as when Jim Street is berated for rushing ahead without his partner (the LAPD is one of the few departments that require all officers to operate in pairs).
    • "Inheritance" has the explanation on the history of the SLA, the reasons why SWAT was deployed and the significance of the first SWAT patch with the number "54" on it.
    • "The B-Team" has Hondo correctly explaining why parts of the Okinawan independence movement are against the USFJ and why the movement started.
  • Story Arc: In Season 2, one is formed over the LAPD and other LEOs hunting down the Emancipators.
  • SWAT Team:
    • Like the original show, it centers on the LAPD's SWAT team in a modern-day setting.
    • "Ekitai Rashku" (filmed in Tokyo) has the Tokyo Metropolitan Police's Special Police Unit.note 
  • These Hands Have Killed: Hondo struggles with this in "Never Again", when he fatally shoots a suspect who turns out to be a young woman, as he was raised to never hit women. Deacon talks him out of it by pointing out the woman he shot had already killed several people and probably would have done more.
    Deacon: Hondo, at the end of the day, you didn't shoot a woman. You shot a killer.
  • Title Drop:
    • "Pamilya", meaning family in Tagalog.note 
    • "Armory", referring to SWAT unit's own armory.
    • "School", referring to the educational institutions.
    • "Invisible", referring to undocumented migrants who are forced to work in low wage jobs.
    • "Rocket Fuel", referring to a variant of PCP that Hondo saw back when he was a uniformed officer.
  • Troubled Teen: "Homecoming" involves Hondo being contacted by his old friend Leroy, presently serving a life sentence for being a senior member of the 20 Street Hammers, who upon hearing his son witnessed a shooting, fears Darryl is being dragged into the same gang culture he was at his age. Darryl proves to be a decent kid but is the victim of lack of opportunities and the culture he's growing up amongst. Hondo manages to arrange for him to live with aunt hoping to keep him out of the lifestyle. But upon his return in season two Darryl reveals he accidentally got his girlfriend pregnant and needing quick money to support her was forced to turn back to his old contacts. His actions only succeed in getting him sent to Juvie, where he is stabbed by another teenager. Hondo resorts to effectively adopting Darryl in the hopes of ensuring his life isn't ruined.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Chris and Street are attracted to each other from early on. She's unwilling to get into a relationship with him though, as police fraternization rules prevent it. Street says he's willing to transfer if need be, though Chris isn't happy about that idea. Both have relationship with other people in the meantime too.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Erika is introduced and barely lasts half a season before being killed off.
  • Western Terrorists:
    • "Radical" has SWAT up against radical leftists who bomb business targets in LA (after the first was killed by his own device) and then another takes hostages after being cornered.
    • "Contamination" involves the LAPD facing off against sovereign citizen militiamen.
    • "Inheritance" has SWAT deployed to deal with armed kidnappers trying to be the Spiritual Successor of the disbanded Symbionese Liberation Army. "Encore" identifies them as The Emancipators.
    • "Pride" has a group of violently anti-LGBT+ right-wingers attack a Pride event using trucks.
    • "Animus" has an example of lone wolf sexist terrorism when a spree killer goes on a rampage against women whom men posted revenge fantasies online about in an extreme MRA group, which is pretty clearly based on Elliot Rodger or similar people. After the team stops him, a similar act's committed in Kansas City, having been inspired by the first, to their dismay.
    • "Crusade" has SWAT intervening against the Imperial Dukes, a pro-Neo Nazi terrorist group. They turn into recurring villains, with many cells.
  • We Would Have Told You, But...: In season 3, Street goes undercover after a public falling-out with the rest of the team. When they're brought in on the plan in the next episode, Hicks explains that he and Hondo kept them in the dark so that their reactions would be genuine and help to sell the deception.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Shaky Town" has the greater LA area hit by an earthquake.
    • "Inheritance" has the kidnappers getting away from a LAPD manhunt while posting a propaganda video that they'll be back.
    • "Encore" has the caller call in Hondo, telling him their show is not over.
    • "Bad Cop" implied that the troubles Street has in helping his foster brother Nate was no accident. It's part of a deep cover op.
    • "Crusade" ends with Erika dying from a gunshot wound sustained during a raid, hitting her near her collarbone.
    • "Whistlebower" has Hondo planning to reveal himself as the source that got some racist LAPD officers suspended. He's warned that the city government will want to have his head on the matter.
    • The end of "Veritas Vincint" that the LAPD may want to get rid of Hondo after he publicly outs himself as Deacon's source on the presence of racist officers in the force.
  • Wham Line: "Next of Kin".
    Hondo: "All units. 58-David is down. I repeat, 58-David is down. We've lost Erica Rogers. Over."
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: After drinking a lot and going to a motel with a guy whom she met, Chris wakes up unable to remember most of this... including where her car is. Street helps her look for it, but gently chides Chris for drinking too much and being rash as a result.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?:
    • S1:E5&7 "SOS" and "Inheritance": Devlin, a black man in the academy alongside Street trying out for the only open SWAT spot due to budget cuts; Devlin makes SWAT over Street, but doesn’t appear in any subsequent episodes of the series
    • S1:E18 "Patrol": Luca realizes a visiting elementary student has dyslexia and offers to her mother to help her and Deacon tells a wheelchair-bound student about a friend who plays in a special basketball league and Deacon can hook the boy up; she is mentioned in S2:E19 "Invisible" and even appears in S2:E22 "Trigger Creep" but there's no mention of Deacon's wheelchair-bound boy.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • One of the prison escapees in "Cuchillo" is taking care of illegal rare animals, and has a HUGE snake around his shoulders. Hondo does not mess with snakes.
    • If Tan's facial expression in the background directed to the escapee and Luca's displeased noises are anything to go by, neither of them like snakes either. Deacon, who only watches, just smirks.
  • Will They or Won't They?
  • Yakuza'': "Ekitai Rashku" sees the team extraditing a Yakuza clan gangster back to Japan then, once he's busted out of custody by his cohorts, aiding the Tokyo Metropolitan Police in getting him back.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: