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Series / Secrets & Lies

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Secrets and Lies is a 2015 crime drama mini-series (based on a miniseries from Australia) which aired on ABC. Ben Crawford (Ryan Phillippe) is under heavy investigation and scrutiny from Detective Andrea Cornell (Juliette Lewis) for the murder of a young boy.

The second season in 2016 focused on Cornell's investigation of Eric Warner (Michael Ealy), who is accused of killing his wife.

It was not picked up for a third season.


Not to be confused with feature film Secrets & Lies.


Season One

  • All for Nothing: After days after days of trying to prove his innocence, Ben finally decides to confess for a crime he did not commit, in order to cover for his daughter.
  • All There in the Manual: The page for the show on featured a mini-sode for each episode called "Cornell Confidential" which dealt with the aftermaths of the reveals of that particular episode, including Abby finally getting arrested for Tom's murder.
  • Amoral Attorney: The lawyer Ben hires to stay out of prison is definitely this, but he still offers good advice and symphaty when needed. As stated by himself "you dont have to like me, you just have to do what i tell you and you will stay out of prison."
  • Axe-Crazy: Jess. But she is not the killer.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Several times, with many suspects. Of course you dont expect Ben to realize who is the killer in any of the first episodes, but he is still quick to point the finger.
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  • The Cutie: Abby, Ben´s younger daughter. She even describes herself like that.
  • Clear My Name: What Ben tries to do during the whole series, as he is being suspected of child murder.
  • Daddy's Girl: Abby is one for Ben, common for her age. Natalie not so much, as she is in her rebelious age.
  • Enfant Terrible: Ben's youngest daughter, Abby, is Tom's killer and a budding sociopath.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Andrea Cornell acts like an emotionless robot that keeps accusing Ben of a crime he did not commit. Despite that, its increasingly obvious she is in the side of justice and that the fact that she isnt kind with him doesnt mean that she doesnt take into account the things he says to her.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Abby towards Jess's relationship with Ben is an innocent version of this. Or not.
  • Inspector Javert: Detective Andrea Cornell, who investigates Ben thinking he is the culprit. Its revealed later in the story that she even put her own daughter in prison. In any case, she is firmly on the side of justice.
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  • Jerkass Has a Point: Many characters invoke this trope (since it's clear several characters have personal inner demons), but many are usually right. For instance, Det. Cornell is clearly enjoying harassing Ben, even after uncovering more and more tidbits of evidence pointing to his innocence, but seeing as he's the top suspect in a child murder case, of course her attention would be on him while in the latter case, she's making a point that said evidence isn't enough to definitively clear him in order to keep him from getting complacent.
  • Karma Houdini: Abby escapes the town with her mother, and her father is convicted in her place. It's implied she will grow up to be an even better killer in the future. Averted on the final "Cornell Confidential" webisode however, as Cornell convinces Natalie to testify against her sister, leading to Abby's arrest.
  • Knight Templar: Kevin is a misguided version, Andrea Cornell an heroic one.
  • Lack of Empathy: Abby shows little sadness that Tom is dead when she hears the news, and the same goes for Natalie, at least until they both learn its their brother. In Abby´s case, there is a reason.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Indiana Evans who plays Natalie, Ben's oldest daughter. Frequently walks around in shorts and bare feet.
  • Not Helping Your Case: The more Ben tries to prove his innocence, the more he makes himself look even more guilty.
  • Older Than He Looks: Ben is suppossedly around her thirties, we might guess, but he looks barely older than his oldest daughter. It doesnt help that the daughter herself supposedly is 16 but looks way more developed.
  • Only Friend: Ben is the only friend of Dave, who in turn helps him a lot with his own investigation.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Detective Cornell, to the point that it's actually funny.
  • The Resolution Will Not Be Televised: You had to see the final "Cornell Confidential" webisode on in order to see Tom's killer finally brought to justice.
  • Sanity Slippage: As each episode progresses, as more damning evidence piles onto him, or things don't go his way in his life, Ben pretty much breaks down more and more.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Season Two reveals that, after turning himself in to cover for Abby, Ben was murdered in prison. Shortly after that, his name was cleared of Tom's murder.*
  • The Sociopath: Abby. At first is believed she killed Tom on accident, but by the end of the story its pretty clear she did it on purpose to get Jess out of there. While her intentions were misguided, her inability to feel anything for others besides her dad is made pretty clear.
  • Torture Technician: Kevin reveals himself to have worked on this when interrogating Ben via waterbowarding.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: More like, town with a lot of secrets. Ben goes discovering them all while trying to prove his innocence, damanging many in the process.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ben receives many of these as he keeps accussing people of being the killer, which in turn brings them trouble. The best one probably comes from his best friend, whom he promptly apologizes to. Justified in that he is a man under a lot of pressure and bad fame, being the main suspect of a child murder.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Ben cheated his wife before the start of the story, with Jess. Its revealed on the first episode that Tom, the little kid murdered he found, its his bastard child. Later we also learn that Kevin wife also cheated on him in the past, which motivates several of his actions and his hate on Ben.

Season Two

  • Abusive Parents: A common trope. Eric´s mother was drunk and abusive. Kate´s mother exiled her out of the house once her boyfriend got an affair with her.
  • Amicable Exes: Andrea Cornell seems to have a really friendly and close relationship with her ex husband, a psychologist.
  • Amoral Attorney: Amanda is this if only because she is the killer.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: To summarize: Eric, the protagonist, killed his abusive mother and a school bully in a fit of rage/self defense, John, the father, leads a double life with another family, Amanda is a killer and Patrick commits fraud while his wife runs an illegal whorehous. With minors on it. To say the family falls appart after all these reveals is not putting it lightly.
  • The Charmer: Eric. Notable for being a protagonist that in more than one scene charms people in order to fullfill his current objective.
  • Cliffhanger: Most, if not every chapter ends like this. The series itself ends with someone entering Cornell´s house and shooting at her.
  • Driven by Envy:
    • R.B, John´s first son is the one blackmailing Eric. He is envious of the three children for how his father gave them more attention and money than him.
    • Amanda pushed Kate off the building in a rage attack due to being envious of her pregnancy too.
  • He Knows Too Much: What everyone assumes is the reason Kate got killed. It isnt.
  • Inverse Law of Fertility: Played with with Amanda. She cannot conceive - even when she wants it so much. But at the end is revealed she was unknowningly pregnant when she pushed Kate off the building, making her fit of rage absolutely pointless. Eric is livid when he learns this.
  • Living a Double Life: John is revealed to have another family, and he was even married with that woman before he had Eric, Amanda and Patrick.
  • Red Herring: A gigantic one in Patrick and Melanie´s fraud deal and whorehouse. While they play a huge deal on the story, neither of them is the killer.
  • The Reveal: Many to count. John leads a double life, Eric killed his own mother because she was abusive, Amanda is the killer...
  • Tranquil Fury: Eric, most of the time. Having killed a man in the past due to his rage makes him very concious of his own reactions, and it shows. That say, they give him plenty of reasons to be angry.
  • Vigilante Man: Danny, a retired cop who is trying to get his daughter back to him. He strikes an alliance with Eric and they help each other a lot.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Said to Eric a lot, like in the previous season. Things considered, however, he acts way more smart than Ben Crawford regarding pointing at suspects.
  • Your Cheating Heart: John leads a double life. There is also Melanie, who cheats on Patrick with their lawyer.


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