Got a heart full of gold
On a lonely road
She said, "I don't even think that God can save me."
Am I gaining ground?
Am I losing face?
Have I lost and found my saving grace?
Thankful for the gift my angels gave me."
Cop Show with a Godly twist.
Grace Hanadarko (Holly Hunter) is an Oklahoma City detective. She's pretty good at her job, but she smokes, she drinks, she's a Drunk Driver, she boinks anyone she can get her hands on, she flashes her neighbor every time she takes a shower (deliberately and with full enjoyment by both parties)...
Then one night when drunk driving, she hits a guy and kills him. As one is wont to do in that situation, she begs God for help. An angel named Earl (Leon Rippy) answers, telling her she's going to hell and he's her "last chance angel." And he's going to be popping in and out of her life from now on...
As it turns out, Grace didn't even kill the guy she hit with her car—in fact, the guy's alive and well and on death row. Leon Cooley (Bokeem Woodbine) is another one of Earl's clients, and to him it was some kind of dream. And yet, there's forensic evidence proving that Earl exists, Leon was there on some level, and something happened.
Grace continues to get up to bad behavior and solving crimes... with Earl along for the ride.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Paige, which she is aware of.
- Big Friendly Dog: Grace's dog Gus. Also, the "dog with the big tongue", which Earl has a tattoo of, and may be, uh... God?
- Broken Aesop: "Turn your life over to God, and Satan will blow you up with a truck bomb."
- Bulletproof Vest
- Chained to a Bed: Naked, with the name of the culprit who locked her up written on her butt, just in time for her partner/lover to walk in and see it.
- Christianity is Catholic: Most of the characters seem to be Catholic, so Catholicism gets emphasized. Leon, on the other hand, converts to Islam. Earl still sticks around because all the religions go to the same place anyway.
- The Church: One of Grace's brothers is a priest, and she has issues with the Church (see above).
- Cool Aunt: Grace is definitely this to Clay.
- Cowboy Cop: Grace tortures a confession out of one suspect and kidnaps another, but it's okay because they were bad guys. Also, her boss has absolutely no problem with her obvious corruption.
- Confessional: In more ways than one.
- Da Chief: Kate Perry. The previous chief, Yukon, got killed in the second episode.
- Doomed Protagonist: Given that Earl is a "Last Chance Angel" and what happened to his other charges (Leon, Murphy, and Neely) it could be argued that people given a Last Chance Angel are not long for this earth. This could mean that Grace was one of these from the start.
- Downer Ending: Grace dies and poor Ham never gets to propose to her.
- Drinking Contest: The squad loves a good one, such as a game of quarters.
- Epunymous Title
- Fair Cop: most of the OCPD.
- Fanservice: Grace is naked and riding the baloney pony in almost all episodes. Naturally, for the guys she boinks we have a Right Through His Pants situation. Ham/Kenny Johnson gets several shirtless scenes too, as well as fully naked when seen from the back.
- Friendly Rivalry: Plenty of ribbing between the Oklahoma Sooner fans Grace, Ham, and Perry, Texas Longhorn fan Butch, and Oklahoma State Cowboy fan Bobby.
- Goodbye, Cruel World!: The suicide note of the girl Leon killed when she threw herself in front of his car.
- Good Is Not Nice: Grace's heart is undoubtedly in the right place, but it doesn't stop her from sleeping with married men, driving drunk, deceiving suspects, punching suspects or sometimes even outright (albeit very well deserved) torture.
- Good Is Not Soft: The guys and gals of the MCU can and will kick your ass if necessary.
- Heaven and Hell: Where are Leon and Grace going to end up?
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Grace and Rhetta, Butch and Bobby.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Grace and Ham.
- Hypocrite: Grace is horrified when she finds out Rhetta's spouse is a cheater, but seems to have no problem sleeping with multiple men simultaneously (at least one of whom was married at the time).
- In Mysterious Ways: Of course.
- Internal Affairs: Brad Gholston, Abby Charles.
- Interrupted Suicide: Leon.
- Invisible to Normals: Sorta? Earl can supposedly only be seen by Grace and Leon—and at times, nobody else sees them, like when Earl is hanging out in Leon's cell. And yet, Earl pops up all the time to talk to Grace's various friends and relatives in bars and whatnot—they just don't know who he is. (Which would really kill Rhetta if she knew she'd met Earl.) Also, Grace and Leon can't recall what Earl looks like when he's not there- all they can recall is that he's white and wears different shirts.
- Rhetta does meet Earl again AND finds out who he was later. Grace can't resist making a "touched by an angel" joke.
- Jerkass Has a Point: When an internal affairs cop (Abby) is found to have been investigating Grace this is clearly supposed to be seen as a betrayal. Grace constantly plays fast and loose with the rules and breaks procedure numerous times, so an investigation into her conduct would be justified.
- Kavorka Woman: A mild example to be sure but neither Grace’s looks (probably best described as “fairly handsome in a good light”) or her personality (an impulsive, cynical, borderline-alcoholic) really justify the sheer amount of lustful attention directed her way.
- The Lad-ette: Grace Hanadarko, our man-bedding, hard-drinking, chain-smoking, perp-punching, Sooner-loving hero.
- Limited Wardrobe: Earl dresses about the same, EXCEPT for his different shirts that he gets while globe-trotting. Leon is in Institutional Apparel, which accounts for Grace catching him in a lie that he told to Rhetta.
- Masquerade: Subverted, Grace has definitely blabbed to folks about knowing an angel.
- Missing Mom and Disappeared Dad: Grace's sister and father died in the Oklahoma City bombing.
- Mission from God: Earl's job.
- Modesty Bedsheet: Never happens. Heck, Grace hardly ever has sex in bed.
- Mood Whiplash: Happens frequently. Examples include:
- The end of "Bring It On, Earl". One minute Lt. Yukon is sharing a joke with Grace, the next he's gunned down by his psychopathic and drug-addicted asshole of a brother.
- In "Popcorn", Grace, Ham, Rhetta, Henry, Leo, Grace's cousin and a friend of Ham's pull off what might be the best prank in the entire show, and in the middle of their hysteria after pulling it off, Leo pulls Grace away to reveal that he found the skull of his next door neighbor's mother, re-opening a 20-year-old homicide.
- My Girl Is a Slut: And HOW. Grace loves to boink and has waxed poetic about it to Earl. She prefers to boink Ham, but she was never at all exclusive about it.
- Near-Death Experience: Grace and Leon.
- No One Should Survive That!: Grace and Neely's fall off the building in season 3. Obviously attributed to God.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Despite the wings, Earl gets around like this. And somtimes he takes Grace or Leon along.
- One Degree of Separation: Leon starts to suspect something when Rhetta and Father Hanadarko come to visit him in prison. Earl says that he and Grace were entangled before Earl showed up.
- Not to mention that Leon's son Benjamin turns up as one of the Police Explorers and a friend of Clay's.
- Or Was It a Dream?: Leon has a lot of these (especially the one where Grace kills him), thanks to Earl.
- Our Angels Are Different: Naturally. Earl is touchable, eats food, shops, gets tattoos, and chews. (And leaves chew bottles around for Grace to find.) His wings appear to have some kind of orgasmic effect. He has no DNA in his spit and he's a different kind of life form.
- Peer Pressure Makes You Evil: The explanation for why Clay threw a pie in a girl's face.
- Police Brutality: More like prison guard brutality, which is why Leon got a death sentence.
- The Prankster: A whole squad of them! Grace, Ham, Rhetta, Butch, Bobby and even Perry love a good prank.
- Psychic Powers: Grace's aunt has them—precognition. She can't pick up that she's talking to an angel, mind you, but she does get that some guy named "Earl" is going to be with Grace for the rest of her life.
- Rape as Backstory: Grace and her deceased sister were both molested by the same priest.
- Really Gets Around: Grace.
- Scare 'Em Straight: Grace's niece gets dragged down to the morgue and forced to look at her best friend's corpse after the best friend OD's on a random pill. Not to mention Grace's hitting Leon with a car.
- Sinister Minister: Why Grace isn't so fond of the Church = Father Patrick "Satan" Murphy the Pedophile Priest.
- A Storm Is Coming: A slew of tornadoes hits the city in "It's Better When I Can See You".
- Title Drop: The theme song. Additionally, all episodes are named for a quote in the episode.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: The whole squad could qualify, but the most prominent example would have to be Ham and Butch.
- We Need to Get Proof: Rhetta collects forensic evidence of Earl's existence that Grace brings her (feathers, chew bottle, whittled duck, etc.) She also proves that the blood left on Grace's button belonged to Leon Cooley.
- Wham Line: At the end of season 1:Father Patrick "Satan" Murphy: I'm just... FedEx delivering the message.
- Wicked Stepmother: Not exactly... Leon's ex-wife is remarrying, and her future husband wants to adopt Leon's son. The man in question isn't wicked, but Leon is massively offended and is all "Over my dead body" about it when he says no.
- Your Days Are Numbered: Leon was executed in the second season finale, Grace's aunt had two more months to live in season 1.