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Series / Sense8

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I Am We.

Will: I'm losing my mind!
Jonas: No, it's just expanding.

Sense8 (pronounced as 'sense-eight' or 'sensate') is a 2015 Netflix original series jointly created by The Wachowskis with J. Michael Straczynski.

Following a traumatic event, eight strangers in eight different parts of the world find themselves telepathically and empathetically linked. While they struggle both with this new connection and with their own personal lives, forces beyond their control seek to manipulate or destroy them. Now the eight must work together, lending each other their different skill sets and experiences, as they try to get the bottom of who and why.

Sense8 was released on Netflix on June 5, 2015. Watch the first trailer here, the Reborn trailer here, and the Seven Other Selves trailer here.

Its second season was officially announced on August 8, 2015, itself the in-universe shared date of birth of the sensate protagonists. The first trailer for Season 2 was released on December 16, 2016 with a release date set for May 5, 2017. A two-hour Christmas Episode setting up plot threads for Season 2 was released on December 23, 2016.

On June 1st 2017, Netflix cancelled the show. However, intense fan pressure led to Netflix green-lighting a two-and-a-half hour special to conclude the story and most of the major plot points.

See also: In Your Eyes and Six Chances

Sense8 demonstrates the following tropes:

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  • Aborted Arc: As a necessity for the show getting an extra episode to wrap up the series, certain plot threads that were built up over the first two seasons had to be resolved quickly or ignored for the sake of wrapping up the main story.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: Sun, the only East Asian of the cluster, is the resident martial arts master. She fights like she's in a kung fu movie. But most of the other Asian characters don't know martial arts at all.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Kala is engaged to Rajan, a rich and handsome Nice Guy who couldn't possibly be more loving, attentive or sensitive to her needs, but she's not in love with him. Instead, she develops an almost instantaneous infatuation with Wolfgang, the brooding and troubled hoodlum.
  • All-Stereotype Cast: Due to having to introduce eight storylines all at once, the global cast comprises national stereotypes so the audience doesn't have to fill in the blanks as much. The protagonists are a serious, possibly sociopathic German; a queer San Franciscan intellectual; a quiet, stoic Korean who is a champion kickboxer; a macho Telenovela actor from Mexico; a cool Scandinavian DJ; a nice all-American cop; a woman from India nervous about her upcoming wedding (complete with a Bollywood dance number early in the first season); and a poor Kenyan man with a mother who is dying of AIDS. The characters are fleshed out and allowed to be more than these stereotypes, however, even playing with some of them (e.g., the macho Mexican actor is a closeted gay man, and the Indian woman is a religious scientist).
  • All Your Powers Combined: What the sensates' abilities amount to, each one of them has access to the knowledge and skills of the other 7, which is pretty much the only reason they're still alive.
  • Almost Kiss: Between Wolfgang and Kala in Episode 7, before Felix draws him out of it.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Whispers claims BPO is this; they have a step-by-step procedure for hunting sensates, right down to entire facilities dedicated to feeding a Visiting sensate false information. Other sources claim that baseline humans have been quietly and efficiently exterminating Human Subspecies such as sensates for as long as sports have been appearing in the gene pool; this implies the existence of a worldwide program of systematic genocide dating back to the invention of the written word.
    Mounting evidence however suggests that it was not an accident nor a failure of adaptation. Our cousins' untimely demise was the result of a rather extended and brutal genocide. And what's more, the children of these barbaric murderers are actually sitting right in this room. And standing at this podium. What happened to the Neanderthal? To the Denisovans? To Homo asiaticus and naledi? Homo sapiens happened. We came along and we wiped all of them out.
  • Arc Number: 8.
    • Eight members of a cluster in eight different cities, all born on the eighth day of the eighth month. Probably in 1988. note 
    • Riley has the number 8 (or an infinity symbol) tattooed on the back her neck, and Jela holds a card with an 8 on it while recruiting passengers for Capheus's bus.
    • Several of the main cluster get childhood flashbacks where they are specifically stated to be 8 years old at the time.
    • A clever one built into a callback in season 2; Lito returns to the bar where he asked for a double tequila followed by a second order of double the first order, "tequila squared" - upon seeing him, the bartender asks if we wants "tequila squared" again, and he says "cubed" - yes, that's 8 shots of tequila, one for each member of the cluster.
  • Arc Words:
    • Borders on catchphrase territory, but "X is easy, X is what I do" has been heard from a few of the group when they perform a task for each other that they couldn't otherwise perform alone. This underlines their value to each other and their understanding of their sense of self.
      Lito: Lying is easy. It's what I do.
      Wolfgang: Fighting is easy. Fighting is what I do.
      Nomi: It's easy. Hacking is what I do.
    • Also, Whispers has a habit of saying "I'm looking forward to meeting you."
    • The words "protect them" show up a few times as well... usually in the context of a Heroic Suicide...
  • Arranged Marriage: Subverted. Kala's decision to marry Rajan was her own, but at the same time it was heavily influenced by her desire to make her parents happy.
  • Arson, Murder, and Admiration: When Sun goes to prison, her cellmates greet her with seeming disapproval when they hear she's an embezzler who disgraced her father and brother, before smiling and saying "Well done".
  • Artistic License:
    • The first episode of the series takes place during San Fransisco Pride, which is always the last weekend of June, and episode 10 takes place on Independence Day which is always July 4th. Assuming the year is 2015, SF Pride began on June 27th, which means the entire span of time between episode one and episode 10 was exactly one week. But there were clearly more intervening days than seven.
    • Averted (for the most part) when it comes to timezones.
    • Subverted with representation of dates in other countries; the dates on the headstones of Wolfgang's father in Germany and Riley's husband and daughter in Iceland read DD/MM/YYYY, as opposed to the American standard of MM/DD/YYYY.
    • During the third episode, the date and day of the week are clearly visible on Kala's iPhone: Thursday, June 25th. Assuming the year is 2015, June 25th was indeed a Thursday. However, this is still theoretically before SF Pride, which was supposed to have happened in previous episodes.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Sorry, Jonas, one chromosomal mutation (which he alleges could be the difference between normal people and sensates) does not a different species make.
    • If you aren't regularly engaging in fighting or hand-to-hand combat, your body just isn't going to have the strength and dexterity to pull off epic kick-boxing or Waif-Fu moves on the fly, even if a more experienced person should happen to be put in the driving seat. While there's not really any way to confirm this, at the very least doing such moves unprepared should result in severe sprains and serious downtime - more than half of martial arts training is simply going through said sprains and downtime to increase flexibility. note  Additionally, whoever happens to be controlling the body would likely be used to moving with a very different centre of gravity due to a different height or weight, and thus less able to effectively manage their temporary body; and several of the skills that the Sensates loan to each other rely on muscle memories that another person's body isn't likely to have. To put it another way; even if an Olympic gymnast took over your body for a stretch, it's not going to make you any more physically capable of taking part in a tournament.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: While alcohol can combust, the concentration generally needs to be at least 50-60% before it will have a room-temperature flashpoint. And if the bottle has been sitting in ice for some time, then there's no chance of ignition even then. Wine generally has a concentration or 14-16% alcohol, which is not enough to catch fire at any temperature. So unless the bottle at Wolfgang and Lila's table was filled with kerosene or napalm, that fire would not have happened.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: Sun's Waif-Fu runs on Rule of Cool. If her underground fight is supposed to be MMA, it would also be an example, given the inaccuracies made in the pursuit of coolness.
  • Ate His Gun:
    • This is how Angelica kills herself in the opening of the first episode.
    • Lito tries to do this later on in the first season but the gun ends up actually being a novelty lighter.
      Lito: It's a fake... Like everything in my life!
    • Riley almost does as well in order to protect everyone else, but Will talks her down.
    • Niles, Metzger's lobotomy patient, after Whispers takes control of him to assassinate Metzger.
    • Will dreams about doing it in the Christmas Special.
  • Author Appeal: The amount of passion poured into Nomi's storyline evidently comes from Lana Wachowski's own experiences as a trans woman, and Lilly Wachowski came out as trans as well in March 2016. Two of the eight cluster members are LGBT, and a Pride Parade is a prominent event in the first two episodes.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: While several members of the cluster are physically fit and trained to some degree in combat, most of the really crazy kung-fu is a result of putting a trained character in the driver's seat and having a few others look over their shoulder and provide observations and tips that one set of eyes and knowledge couldn't.
  • Beach Kiss: Lito and Hernando have one in series 2, with the waves crashing over them. True to the trope, they are knowingly imitating From Here to Eternity, which is one of Lito's favorite films.
  • Beast and Beauty: The romantic relationship between Wolfgang and Kala is played like this. Wolfgang is handsome but troubled and the most morally grey sensate, while Kala is beautiful, religious and a lot more idealistic than some of the others.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Usually, but not always, the result of one or more Sensates stepping in to help another at just the right moment. Will, Sun and Capheus all coming to Nomi's aid in order to help her escape the feds is particularly satisfying.
    • Detective Mun gets a moment of this in the series finale when Sun is cornered by BPO goons. He illegally traced her burner phone in order to find her.
  • The Big Damn Kiss:
    • Will and Riley get theirs in Episode 8, followed by Diego walking in on what looks like Will making out with thin air.
      Diego: The fuck you doin', Gorski?
    • Wolfgang and Kala in Episode 11, which is more heartbreaking as it comes in a conversation where she's begging him not to try to kill all his remaining family.
  • Bilingual Dialogue:
    • While most of the conversations follow Translation Convention, there are a few occasions where non-English speaking characters have conversations in whole or in part using the native language, such as Kala and Wolfgang talking about the other being in each others respective bathrooms when they're not supposed to be there.
    • The same thing occurs when Sun and Lito have a short interaction for the first time on a rooftop garden.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition:
    • Angelica "births" a new cluster right before killing herself.
    • Riley's husband died in a car crash moments before her daughter's birth.
    • Sun was born in a cemetery.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first season's ending is extremely bittersweet. The sensates came together as a united group and pulled off a truly impressive win against overwhelming odds, but none of them made it out unscathed for the sake of the Sequel Hook.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents:
    • In the shootout at Nyx's place, Riley is unharmed and uninvolved, but is splashed with a little blood that contrasts sharply with her white hair.
    • As Rajan's father is stabbed in the temple by the religious fanatics, Kala gets some blood on her.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: It turns out Capheus's bodyguard has been hired to kill him, and he barely escapes with his life.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents:
    • Sun and Riley open up to each other about their deceased mothers.
    • Capheus meets Riley at the grave of her husband and daughter, and they mourn his Disappeared Dad (and the sister he hasn't seen in years) and her dead mom, husband, and daughter.
  • Book Ends: The premiere and finale of the first season both end with songs by Sigur Rós.
  • Broken Aesop: The show deals with themes of empathy and how all people are connected by their shared experiences. However, even though callous acts of cruelty on the part of characters the show sees as villains are depicted as the wrong way to live, when those in the cluster brutally beat up or murder people. Treating violence as empowering seems out of place with the show's themes, especially since the people they hurt aren't always acting out of a place of cruelty to begin with. For example, when Sun is trying to save Nomi from the research facility in Iceland, she encounters a middle aged security guard on a walkway trying to apprehend her; she promptly pushes him off the side of the walkway, causing him to fall six stories. Aside from working with BPO to abduct and lobotomise an innocent woman, there's no other indication that this security guard had any knowledge of what was going on at the facility, or that he was a bad person, but he ends up badly injured or dead and the show treats this as a cool action moment despite its theme of compassion. In another example, in the third episode of Season 2, Sun is taken to a secluded location of the prison and hanged by three guards with Tazers, only surviving thanks to a fellow prisoner sneaking out and driving a broken broom handle through the chest of one of the guards, giving Sun, Wolfgang and Will a chance to team up and snap the necks of the other two - followed by a high-intensity jailbreak where they gleefully knock a guard unconscious who is not involved in the murder attempt (this may have been necessary, however, as the guard would probably not have let Sun just walk out of prison uncontested).
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Wolfgang used a guy this way during a gunfight. Sun later does the same with one of her brother's goons.
  • Call-Back:
    • In season 1, Dani starts touching herself while watching Lito and Hernando make out. In the Christmas special, she watches them dancing and...starts touching herself.
    • In season 2, at a show meant to make connections with other sensates, Riley plays a dance mix of 4 Non-Blondes' What's Up. In season 1, a group sing-a-long to this song was the first time the entire cluster connected simultaneously.
  • Car Fu: Capheus drop kicks a gang boss with a freakin' bus.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Besides Nomi and Lito being introduced as a lesbian trans woman and a gay man (both in committed relationships), the creators have stated that they view the entire cluster as pansexual due to the nature of the psychic bond.
  • Cast Herd: The very nature of the beast means that these eight different people will have eight separate social circles.
  • Central Theme: The importance of empathy across difference. The August 8 cluster, their powers and mental abilities, and even the whole Homo sensorium species exist as vehicles for the show to explore the power of reaching across the aisle and seeing the world as bigger than just yourself. The cluster’s heroism is rooted in their experiences dealing with each other and seeing the vastly different kinds of struggles that affect other people.
    • By contrast, BPO’s villainy derives from its belief that differences are a flaw rather than a strength, and that empathy is something to be snuffed out. The Chairman’s boast in the season finale highlights this:
      The Chairman: For millennia, my kind have subjugated yours. Do you know why? Certainty. There is only one voice telling me what to do. Your kind suffer from too many conflicting thoughts, too many clamoring voices inside your skulls.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The gun that we see in Wolfgang's fridge shows up in the diamond exchange later in the episode and Wolfgang uses it to take down a few gangsters.
    • Riley's heavy drug use is crucial when she isn't responsive to sedatives and BPO has to fully sedate her, meaning she's completely unconscious when Whispers gets to her and he can't make eye contact, protecting the rest of the cluster.
    • The taser Rajan mistakes for a gun in the finale which he uses to restart Kala's heart after she is shot by Lila.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The cluster survives with all their powers combined, so everyone's abilities come in useful to someone else:
    • Will's cop skills, including fighting, shooting and general tactics, are used as well as his childhood ability to undo handcuffs.
    • Wolfgang's general thuggery and borderline insane fearlessness comes in useful. Surprisingly, his thieving skills aren't used in the first season by anyone else. In the Christmas special, he helps Lito break into his apartment building after he's evicted for being gay, and in season 2 he cracks Whispers' safe.
    • Sun's martial arts are used whenever Will and Wolfgang's fighting skills aren't enough.
    • Capheus's vehicular skills, which include driving and eventually hotwiring.
    • Nomi's hacking, which gets them the information they need and the ability to access restricted places.
    • Kala's biological and pharmaceutical knowledge; particularly when it comes to antidotes or bomb-building. In season 2, she figures out how to make blocker pills for the cluster.
    • Lito's acting and skill with seduction come in very handy when charming, distracting, lying or otherwise getting information from people.
    • As of season 2, Riley's musical contacts in Europe helped keep parts of the cluster off grid, accessing underground abandoned locations for housing, drug laboratories for research, not to mention food and supplies while she and Will were on the run. She also used her music to connect to other clusters and is basically functioning as the 08/08 cluster's ambassador to people like Puck and the Old Man of Hoy.
  • Christmas Episode / Christmas Special: A two-hour long one in December 2016, featuring the characters' "darkest secrets."
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Used by Whispers to make Jonas cooperate.
  • Cool Car:
    • Capheus's van, the Van Damn. First time in history an automobile fly-kicked someone.
    • More conventionally, the red sports car that Will drives in Iceland. In fact, its coolness becomes something of a plot point, as Will is forced to destroy it so as to distract the workers at the facility where Riley is. The whole plan hinges on the idea that a bunch of hetero-normative men will be unable to stand such a beautiful car going up in a cloud of smoke, and their misery will allow Will to slip past them.
      Guard 1: Now that's a real shame.
      Guard 2: It's a Fourteen!
      Guard 3: Not even a year old!
  • Creator Cameo: During the Christmas special Lana Wachowski appears as a passerby in Berlin during the New Year's celebrations. Thanks to Lana's vibrant pink dreadlocks, this might be the most conspicuous creator cameo out there, without even showing her face. She appears again during "Amor Vincit Omnia" dancing in the background during Nomi and Amanita's wedding reception.
  • Creator Provincialism: Muted. The United States is the only country with two local cluster members, and they are also the only two capable of visiting Jonas. North America has three total, the most of any continent, and two other cluster members are white Europeans.
  • Daddy's Girl:
    • Among the protagonists, Kala and Riley are very close to their fathers and clearly adore and respect them (in contrast to Sun and Nomi, who had tense relationships at best with their dads).
    • Outside the cluster, Kabaka's daughter is a sweet kid who obviously loves her dad a lot.
  • Damsel in Distress: After trying to kill Wolfgang, Lila invokes this by acting like she's the victim after the police arrive, using the bloody nose he gave her, plus all her men's bodies around.
  • Dance Party Ending: At the Eiffel Tower, no less.
  • Dark Reprise: The first time Riley's father Gunnar sings "Baba O'Riley" to her, its at their airport reunion. The second time, it's while she's comatose in the hospital while BPO closes in on her (although he's not aware of the latter) and is fittingly slower and sadder.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Pretty much every major character skirts the line, before being pulled back from the brink by another sensate.
    • Notably, Jonas crosses it after Will meets Whispers face to face, even suggesting that Will give up and Whispers has already won.
    • Riley's entire arc is her recovering from crossing it years ago after her traumatic experience on the mountain.
    • Capheus has his brush with it, ready to throw in the towel after the Superpower gang robs his bus and takes his mother's medicine. Luckily for him at that moment, Will was getting ready to unload some ammo at a gun range (getting into the "zone" as it were) and Sun was walking into a boxing ring. Channeling their emotions puts him in the mindset to go and get back the stuff.
  • Differently Powered Individuals: The titular "Sensates."
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Nomi's mother insists on calling her by her birth name, Michael, which Nomi hates. Nomi's hacker buddy Bug keeps calling her Mike out of habit, but it's accidental and he apologizes.
  • Downer Ending: Episode 9, which is probably the most depressing episode in the first season, ends with Lito attempting suicide over his breakup with Hernando, only to discover at the last moment that the gun is a fake, causing him to bemoan that everything in his life is fake.
  • Driven to Suicide: Riley, probably over the loss of her husband and newborn baby. Obviously she failed, however. Lito also attempts this after his lover has left him, but the gun he uses is a fake. Sun's brother also says their father killed himself, but she instead thinks he did it.
  • Drugs Are Bad: After the events of the season 1 finale, Will has resorted to using heroin to keep Whispers out of his head. While it does work, it's clearly taking a toll on him.
  • Drugs Are Good: Riley's storyline has a lot of positive images of drug use. The scene where she offers ecstasy to her father and his bandmates (who were already enjoying a pre-concert joint!) is even shown as something heartwarming!
  • Dysfunction Junction: Kala is the only protagonist who averts it entirely.
    • Nomi's family is dismissive of her gender, she tells Lito about a traumatic incident regarding her father in the past, and her mother's reaction to her needing surgery is that she'll have to fall back on the family's insurance.
    • Wolfgang's father was physically and emotionally abusive all the way until his death and there's no mention of his mother. At least, not until the Finale Movie, where his mother is revealed to also be his sister in a squick-stravaganza flashback while he's under sedation at the Zombie Assassin facility.
    • Riley blames herself for her mother's, husband's, and child's deaths but has a good relationship with her father.
    • Sun's father heavily favored her irresponsible brother, to the point of asking her to take the fall for him.
    • Capheus's mother has AIDS, and had to give up his baby sister when Capheus was young so she wouldn't die of starvation.
    • Subverted with Lito's family. Once he comes out to the world, he was afraid that his mother would disown him but she knew all along and was proud to finally see him accept his homosexuality. However, there's no mention of his father or other family members.
    • Downplayed with Will; he has to deal with his father's alcoholism and criticism but they seem to have an otherwise good relationship.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Will gets an auditory version of this in-universe: The first clustermate he connects with is Riley, hearing the music she plays at a show.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: It takes the business end of a rocket launcher to finally let the sensates live out happy lives with each other.
  • Enforced Method Acting: In-universe variation where Lito is acting in a shoot-'em-up scene while tuned in to Will, who is pursuing an important witness. This really dials up the intensity for Lito and the director is thrilled with the result.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Silas Kabaka is a brutal crime lord in Nairobi, but he absolutely loves his daughter and does everything he can to protect her.
    • Githu's Cynicism Catalyst turned out to be Kabaka brutally murdering his beloved sister after he and Githu had a falling-out.
    • Wolfgang's uncle clearly has soft spot for his son, Steiner, and has stated that he would love nothing more than getting vengeance for his brother.
    • Wolfgang himself is the more pragmatic and cold of the sensates, but he cares deeply about both Felix and Kala.
    • Whispers has a granddaughter he enjoys spending time with.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Because sensates share each others' feelings, they share their sexualities as well. This is displayed in the orgy scenes featuring all of the Sensates (including a gay man, a gay trans woman, and two straight men) despite their clashing sexualities. The creators have stated that all the sensates are pansexual. In season 2, Capheus's girlfriend Zakia admits to past relationships with women, and in the series finale Rajan doesn't seem to mind kissing Wolfgang.
  • Evil Counterpart: Jonas and Mr. Whispers are both sensates seeking out the group: one to guide them, one to kill them.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: Wolfgang killing his uncle left a hole in Berlin's criminal underground. There still are other crime lords, but his uncle's death has drastically shaken up the dynamic.
  • Evil, Inc.: The Biologic Preservation Organization or BPO is the outfit that provides Mr. Whispers with funding and resources. They're the front for The Conspiracy to eliminate the sensates.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Whispers arrogantly assumes that Riley and Will in Iceland are stuck in a Closed Circle, even when Will suggests that they could have left on a boat. For someone from Western Europe, particularly the UK, Whispers must either descend to Clueless Detective or be really blinded by the assumption that the cluster is stupid if he doesn't consider the fact that Iceland is right next to the UK and Scandinavia in a subcontinent without border controls - there is absolutely nothing stopping them from hitching a boat to Scotland/Norway and then driving to anywhere in Western Europe, then potentially getting a boat across any central European body of water to get even further, completely undocumented (so the BPO wouldn't have any travel flags on them). They only bother going as far as Amsterdam, but they do actually do this. Riley's DJ connections across Europe keep them stocked with new squats and drugs, something Whispers should have been able to predict, too.
  • Fan Disservice: In one sequence, the sensates all view their mothers giving birth to them, which in a couple cases includes closeup shots of themselves crowning as babies. This is likely not what most people want to see.
  • Fight Clubbing: Sun's fight is apparently an unregulated, underground bloodsport rather than a real MMA event, given that the fighters don't wear gloves, don't have weight classes, aren't told whom they're going to fight beforehand, and are allowed to fight the opposite gender.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: Joaquin makes good on his threats to publish the pictures of Lito and Hernando having sex after Daniela leaves him.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: The series takes its time establishing its eight lead characters, resulting in a story that unfolds glacially slowly, but once each storyline starts rolling it keeps going.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang:
    • Justified, of course — with eight main characters, that's 28 possible ways two clustermates can share the screen, and some combinations are given more spotlight than others. For example, Will and Lito don't meet until the first season finale note , and Will lampshades it.
      Will: Do I know you?
      Lito: Yes. We had sex.
    • The Sensates are scattered across the globe. The finale is the first time any of them has ever physically met another of their cluster. Most of them don't even live on the same (sub)continent.
  • The Fundamentalist: Some of the Hindus in Mumbai, understandably upset at Rajan's father trying to outlaw their rituals, brutally attempt to assassinate him. They argue that, although God usually doesn't like violence, in this case it's justified. Kala, although a devout Hindu herself, doesn't buy this for a minute.

  • Game of Chicken: The first season finale has one that pits Whispers in a helicopter against Will and Riley in an ambulance.
    Whispers: Enough. I know you. You are a police officer. You are sworn to protect people. It's in your blood. It's in your heart. I know you won't kill us all. You can't do it.
    Will: Maybe I can't... but I know who can.
    [Wolfgang takes Will's place and drives straight for the helicopter without hesitation]
  • Gaslighting: Metzger tells Nomi, and presumably other "patients diagnosed with UFLS" that they will begin to experience hallucinations caused by the disease, causing them to doubt everything from another sensate appearing to them to something as innocuous as a phone call.
  • Gayngst: The series has an unusually sophisticated portrayal of this.
    • Lito at first doesn't seem to be conflicted about his sexuality at all, sharing a happy, if secret, relationship with his boyfriend and only being in the closet to be able to have an action movie lead career in conservative, Catholic Mexico. But when plot reasons force him to either let a friend suffer or let a blackmailer publicly out him, it turns out that he does have some internalized homophobia, claiming "I'm not a fag!" when a man ever so gently tries hitting on him in semi-public. He needs a serious talk from a trans woman about "the violence we do to ourselves" to finally accept himself fully (and go kiss the guy who'd come on to him to prove it). Also, one gets the impression that his boyfriend broke up with him not so much because he was going to let their friend marry an abusive man rather than risk getting outed, but because said boyfriend had been quietly suffering being hidden from the public like a dirty secret for years, and the incident finally made him realize that he couldn't bear that any longer. In the second season, after getting outed, the couple suffers public disapproval and negative consequences to their professional careers.
    • Nomi, the lesbian trans woman mentioned above, is in a very happy relationship and surrounds herself with the accepting San Francisco LGBT community, and she doesn't have any internalized trans- or homophobia (anymore - she explains to Lito that she did try very hard to be "normal" as a child / young teenager, until an incident of brutally violent bullying from the boys at her swim club made her give up trying to be like them). But her estranged mother completely refuses to accept her as a woman, she has a very scary run-in with the medical establishment not treating her like a sane adult able to make her own decisions, and the trans-excluding radical feminist "friends" of her girlfriend got pretty nasty towards her during a flashback scene.
  • Genre Mashup: Well, the central theme is that of a psychic community/conspiracy as the Sensates' struggle to understand themselves and their flight from BPO, but each individual Sensate's life flows according to its own genre. Let's see:
  • Genre Roulette: Each member of the cluster's individual stories take inspiration from different genres. Kala is in a Bollywood romantic drama, Lito is in a telenovela, Sun is in a K-drama, Will is in a Cop Show, Wolfgang is in a crime noir, Riley is in a Nordic Noir, Capheus is in an action movie, while Nomi is in an indie movie/techno thriller. Each episode will liberally switch between these stories and thus, different genres.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In-Universe:
    • Capheus's storyline banks on Jean-Claude Van Damme's popularity in Nairobi.
    • Wolfgang and his friend were obsessed with Conan the Barbarian.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Wolfgang's crime boss uncle smokes cigars. Protagonists Sun and Wolfgang, on the other hand, smoke cigarettes. Riley vapes.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Inverted. When violence happens, it is almost always shown directly on the screen. Several times people are shown getting their limbs cut off, gunshots to the head show uncut sprays of blood, and when Wolfgang kills his uncle, there is an up close shot of his head as it is riddled with bullets.
  • Grand Finale: And how. The normally 45 minute per episode series end with what amounts to a feature length movie of over 2 and a half hours.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • Mostly subverted. Episode 4 reveals everyone is speaking their native language when in contact with each other and strangers (English, German, Hindi, Korean, Spanish, and Swahili), but to the viewer, everyone is speaking English. To point this out, the visit between Capheus and Riley has them actually speaking English, but surprised that the other knows it.
    • Sometimes justified: being from Kenya and India means that Capheus and Kala can also speak good English when they do meet others. Riley is fluent in English, as Iceland is right next to the UK and she's lived in London for a while.
  • Groin Attack: Rajan suffers an accidental one when he's about to have sex with Kala (her first time), and she changes her mind at the last second. As she pulls away he's tipped off the bed, landing straight onto his erection. Ouch.
  • Hacker Collective: Nomi belonged to such a group in the past back when she was known as "Mike", and later reconnects with her friend Bug who knew her back then and provides her with equipment.
  • Happily Ever After: Every one of the main characters and their significant others. Except Jonas that is.
  • Happily Married: Both of Kala's parents seem blissfully happy with one another. Also may be a Perfectly Arranged Marriage, as they both consider Kala's upcoming wedding to Rajan to be a marriage done out of love rather than an arrangement (arranged marriages are common in India).
  • Heroic Suicide: Angelica shot herself to prevent Whispers from getting other sensates through her. Later Riley almost does this as well. Jonas and Angelica try to convince Will to do this as well, after he makes eye contact with Whispers.
  • Hidden Depths: Wolfgang's passion for singing and televised music competitions. Bear in mind that this is the guy who brutally murdered his entire family.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The series goes hard with this in regards to homo sapiens. Whenever the topic of the regular humans vs sensates comes up, the show would have you think that compassion was invented by sensates and grudgingly adopted by humans. One anthropologist even hypothesizes that the advantage homo sapiens has is the ability to lie, and they probably wiped most sensates out in the past (like the Neanderthals). A less-evil — and 100% human — member of BPO states that he believes the entire concept of empathy is the result of humans subconsciously mimicking sensates just before Whispers has a remote-controlled lobotomized sensate stab him in the neck with the handle of a paintbrush.
  • Human Subspecies: Sensates are classified as a new species, Homo sensorium, with the ability to sense each others' thoughts and emotions.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: Mr. Whispers is a sensate hunting and exploiting other sensates. Yrsa accuses Jonas and Angelica of collaborating with him, and there's some evidence she's not wrong.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode gets its name from a line of dialog spoken to or by a one of the main cluster during the episode.
  • I'm Having Soul Pains: The migraine characters experience due to the "expansion" of their minds.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: Hilariously implied when Kala's Auntie offers to give her The Talk.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Most of the sensates' individual antagonists are dealt with by the end of the first season... except Sun's brother. Justified as she's still in prison and can't deal with him.
    • Kabaka is still alive at the end of season one, despite all the horrific things he'd done. Probably for the best though, at least for his daughter's sake.
  • Lampshade Hanging: A couple of times in the Christmas Episode:
    • In a scene between Kala and Sun, they briefly touch on how their powers work. Kala admits they work "very inconsistently" for her, referencing the admittedly ill-defined nature of the sensates' abilities.
    • Capheus and Jela's first scene has Capheus's face in shadow while the two of them discuss how Jean-Claude Van Damme and Barack Obama now both look very different than the most famous images of them, and while faces change, hearts stay the same. Jela also notes that Capheus is looking different these days, which Capheus just shrugs off. The whole scene is, of course, heavily lampshading the fact that Capheus is being played by a new actor who looks nothing like his old one.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the Christmas episode, Felix finally recovers from his gunshot wound, so when Volker Bohm shows up outside his shop to talk to Wolfgang, Felix comments that he can't get shot again because he just got out of the hospital and that would be "terrible plotting". Felix later almost is shot again, when he and Wolfgang are attacked by a rival gang on New Year's.
    • Earlier in the same episode Capheus and Jela have a conversation about how people's faces may change but they're still the same person underneath which ends with a cheeky nod to the fact that Capheus has been recast since we last saw him.
  • Left Hanging: Averted. While the show was cancelled in its second season, a two-hour finale to explicitly avoid this issue was commissioned by Netflix following fan outrage.
  • Lighter and Softer: Lito's story arc in the first season is noticeably less serious than the others. No one is in lethal danger at any point, even the most angst-filled moments have elements of humor to them (such as Lito's complete failure to operate his own bathtub after Hernando leaves him), and his final badass scene is undercut by both the kidnapper and the victim clearly being genuinely confused as to how he thinks he's going to rescue her. He ends up throwing flower pots at the bad guy. And missing. From five feet away.
  • The Load: Riley. She's the only member of the cluster in season one without a useful skill to contribute, and she serves as the season's overall Damsel in Distress. Averted, however, come the finale, as she manages to get Will to safety away from Whispers, saving the whole cluster in the process, and will presumably protect him now that he's become The Load. In season two, she is the person with the most contacts to help survive on the run with Will finding housing, drugs, and laboratories in Europe. She also functions as the 08/08 ambassador to other clusters.
  • Lobotomy: A standard part of the procedure BPO performs on sensates. As a result, Whispers can use them as people puppets.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Kala is engaged to marry Rajan, who clearly loves her a lot, but she has Unresolved Sexual Tension with Wolfgang.
    • Whispers's comments suggest that either Angelica was carrying on an affair with him behind Jonas's back or he was at least romantically obsessed with her.

  • Man Versus Career: Lito must choose between allowing Daniela to return to Joaquin, saving his career from being destroyed by the photos Joaquin possesses, but losing Hernando's love and rescuing Daniela and reuniting with Hernando, running the risk of his career being ruined. He chooses Hernando.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Wolfgang gives the name "Conan" for his friend. When asked if this is a first name or a last name, he replies "Yes."
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: A few theories as to the origin of the sensates' powers come up, with a strong case to be made for either possibility. It's hypothesized sensates are another evolved form of humans separate from Homo Sapiens, there is the fact that they all have to be born at the same time (as evidenced by how Ruth El-Sadaawi wasn't a sensate, but her twin sister was) and they have to be "activated" by a "mother".
  • Meaningful Echo: While the group is rallying around Sun and her mission to take the fight to her treacherous brother, Kala repeats the words Sun once spoke to her, about pushing all that matters into their fists and fighting for it.
  • Meaningful Name: Amanita is also the name of a psychedelic mushroom used to alter consciousness.
    • "Metzger" is German for "butcher". Appropriate, considering what Dr. Metzger intends to do to Nomi's brain.
  • Meaningful Rename: Nomi changed her name from Michael when she went through her transition. May also connect to The Odyssey, in which Odysseus used the name Noman to protect himself from the cyclops Polyphemus. May also be a Punny Name ("know me").
  • Mental Affair: The cluster has sex together due to their psychic link. Kala also has mental sex with Wolfgang, while physically she was actually with her husband.
  • Mid-Season Twist: The seventh episode raises a lot of stakes in the various plotlines, but most importantly it reintroduces Whispers in a big way, and shows his ability to possess lobotomized Sensates.
  • Mindlink Mates: A possibility within a cluster, as all of them are telepathically linked. The protagonist cluster itself has Riley/Will and Wolfgang/Kala. Discussed as well: Yrsa dismisses this notion and calls it "pathological" and "the worst kind of narcissism" whereas Jonas says Angelica said it's "love in its purest form."
    • As of season 2, Will and Riley are officially this.
  • The Mole: Invoked in-universe. According to Jonas, there is at least one member of the BPO who is helping the sensates behind the scenes.
  • Momma's Boy: Within the cluster, Capheus and Lito are very close to their mothers and look to them for advice.
  • Mood Whiplash: An occasional result of the many plotlines. An early example is Lito forming his triad relationship, which is awkward and funny immediately followed by Riley returning home after witnessing a multiple murder and having to wash the blood off.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate:
    • BPO employs a whole medical staff with the purpose of identifying and lobotomizing sensates.
    • After Will guilts a nurse into accepting a dying gang-banger for treatment, the nurse later tries to lay a guilt trip on Will for saving the kid's life. Hippocratic what?
  • Moral Myopia: Kala is horrified to learn that Rajan's family's company sells expired drugs, and she tries to appeal to his conscience by asking if Rajan would accept her being treated with expired drugs. Rajan "reassures" her that it's only going to non-Indians. This makes her feel even worse because effectively seven-eighths of her isn't in India, so she asks exactly where they go. He says maybe China or Africa, terrifying her; Capheus lives in Africa, he's working himself half-dead, even getting involved in organized crime to buy HIV medication for his mother, and it's not working as well as it should. So Rajan actually is hurting her, personally, with selling the expired drugs.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Will, Wolfgang, Lito, and Hernando all have a decent amount of shirtless, workout, sex, and nude scenes.
  • Ms. Fanservice: The ladies get in on it as well, especially in the Christmas special.
  • Multinational Team: The characters all come from different major regions of the world: North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, South Asia and East Asia. Only Will and Nomi are both from the same country (United States). There is an equal number of men and women, and there are two LGBT members.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Lito, Daniela and Hernando are having a sweet breakfast moment when Joaquin texts pictures of Lito and Hernando having sex, which Daniela took without their knowledge, and which Joaquin now has because he stole Daniela's phone. The guilt has an immediate, powerful effect, which causes her to go back to Joaquin to protect Lito.
    • Capheus has his own moment when Mr. Kabaka personally hacks off the hands of an employee who stole from him. He was willing to do courier work and act as Amondi's chauffeur until that moment.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mr. Whispers (who's also known in sensate circles as "The Cannibal"). Also Nyx.
  • Necessary Drawback: The nature of the Sensate's power allow them to experience joy and love with each other and utilize each other's skills and knowledge, but at the same time grief, loneliness, confusion, and pain will also affect them.
  • Nice Guy: Rajan couldn't possibly be a nicer guy, in addition to being charismatic and handsome. This is why it's so hard for Kala to choose not to marry him.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Crops up in a couple of the plotlines. In Nomi's, if Dr. Metzger had treated her like a human being and allowed Amanita into the decision making process, he could have persuaded Nomi to submit voluntarily. In Capheus's, if Kabaka had kept showcasing the loving father and Benevolent Boss aspects of his nature, Capheus would have never wanted to quit.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted - Riley has to ask for a laxative because of Will's heroin-induced constipation.
  • No Infantile Amnesia: Each of the main characters relives the occasion of their births while Riley listens to her father's orchestra play. One of Jonas' statements to Will implies that sensates can tap into a kind of collective memory that transcends any one person or cluster.
  • No Periods, Period:
    • Averted; Sun gets her period and Lito is hit with the effect of her hormones and cramps. He doesn't take it very well.
    • Also played with; Amanita doesn't get her period, but uses cough syrup and a tampon to pretend she has, thereby thoroughly squicking out and distracting an agent after Nomi.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • When Will passes out, we don't get to see how Riley evades Mr. Whispers and gets them to the boat.
    • The cluster's first meeting during the Season 2 finale is passed over in favor of the twist that they're all in London, ready to kick Whispers's ass.
  • Oh, Crap!: Numerous, but most notably Will making eye contact with Mr. Whispers in the finale, complete with some dramatic music. Later Whispers get a moment of his own like this, after Will discovers his real name and says they're coming for him.
  • One Degree of Separation:
    • Other than the psychic connection between all of the sensates and BPO being after them, at least three of the sensates' individual situations have bearing on one another. The pharmaceutical company that Kala works for has reported that several of their drugs have been counterfeited, which becomes a problem for Capheus when he discovers his mother's drugs are counterfeit. Sun also discovers her brother's embezzlement scheme involved moving funds away from the selling and distribution of these drugs.
    • The diamonds that Wolfgang stole were black market goods smuggled into Germany from Mumbai. And Daniela's father is implied to be involved in shady import-export dealings, which could relate to smuggling and/or drug trafficking. Nyx, the villain who is still looking for Riley in the UK, is a drug dealer, specifically dealing in the trade of a special drug that simulates some of the effects of being a sensate. Which might connect back to the pharmaceutical company, or possibly even BPO.
  • Open-Minded Parent:
    • Amanita's mother, who's a liberal academic who has no qualms with her daughter's hacker girlfriend setting up shop in her living room. She even talks down federal agents who are looking for Nomi. This is, of course, in stark contrast to Nomi's own transphobic Rich Bitch mother.
    • Riley's father is a bohemian musician who takes ecstasy with her.
    • After being Forced Out of the Closet, Lito's mother is the only person who fully accepts his sexuality.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: What happened to Riley's baby Luna is terrifying. Born in a snow storm in a car wreck, and then froze to death in her mother's arms as she desperately tried to walk to safety.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building:
    • Nomi has to escape the hospital where she's scheduled for brain surgery with some timely assistance from Will and Amanita. While in Real Life far fewer people working in a hospital would care about a patient's comings and goings, almost every employee in the hospital seems to take a personal investment in their whereabouts.
    • The finale involves the other members of the cluster busting Riley out of the same lobotomy.
  • Patricide:
    • As revealed in the last episode of season 1,Wolfgang killed his own father.
    • Sun's brother kills their father and makes it look like a suicide in order to keep him from telling the truth about his embezzlement.
  • Percussive Therapy: After learning that her brother has murdered their father and sabotaged her legal recourse for getting out of prison, Sun becomes decidedly pissed off. Luckily for her, at that moment, Capheus is being threatened by a gang of machete-welding thugs for her to vent her frustrations on... by hitting them... with a machete.
  • The Perfectionist: Lito is this way about his acting. He always asks the director for one more take, even when he's told he already nailed it.
  • Plot Armor:
    • Wolfgang and Capheus in particular develop a habit of taking down small armies of gun-toting thugs towards the end of the season. Handwaved by the show as being thanks to Sun's martial-arts expertise, the odds of either character surviving without serious injury seem pretty remote.
    • The most egregious instance comes when Wolfgang retreats from his uncle's henchmen in the season one finale. None seem able to score a hit at point-blank range with automatic weapons, despite cover which is flimsy at best.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: All of the sensates use their unique skills to help Will save Riley, and each one is indispensable.
  • Police Are Useless
    • Not only does Nomi not have too much trouble escaping the hospital, but once she's free, the police are apparently unable to apprehend her at her hideout after failing to surround it. They later don't bother to look for her in her own apartment, an oversight lampshaded by her using her hacking skills to lay a false electronic trail.
    • Wolfgang, in the middle of Berlin, blowing up a car with an RPG? Far from a major terrorist incident, yet the authorities barely bat an eyelid (and for that matter, not a single witness called the cops either as far as we can tell).
    • Will, an actual cop, generally has to resort to illegal means to obtain crucial information because the system won't let him.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: A lot of the antagonists within each Sensate's private circle fall into this.
    • Nomi's mother is a homo/transphobic Bible-thumper who refuses to acknowledge her daughter's gender. Nomi's father shared many of the same views until the episode "What Family Means".
    • Sun's father and brother both show a critical lack of respect for her because she's a woman.
    • Daniela's ex-boyfriend Joaquin regularly beat her when they were dating, and dismisses this abuse as a normal part of his Mexican machismo. He also throws homophobic slurs at Lito.
    • BPO itself appears to be a global version of the above; beyond the whole "hunt and exterminate sensates" thing, the single most notable assassination target of their lobotomized Sensates is a politician giving the following speech in a mosque:
      "This is not out of some woolly desire to sit in a circle and sing Lennon's "Imagine". This is to remind people that free societies are stronger societies. Since the invention of cities, open, multicultural societies are the places that the world's best and brightest have wanted to go to, while mono-cultural, repressive societies are the places they've wanted to escape from."
    • And at this point, someone opens fire with an automatic weapon, killing dozens of listeners along with the targeted politician, clearly establishing that whoever runs BPO, they want to create a mono-cultural, repressive society.
  • Polyamory:
    • The nature of the Sensates' power leads to this due to their emotional bond with each other, and by extension with their respective partners.
    • A variation of sorts in Lito's storyline: he, Hernando, and Daniela begin living together and are relatively open with each other sexually - Lito and Hernando have sex while Daniela watches and masturbates to it. This is taken even further in Season 2 when the three of them officially move in together and imply that they'll be sharing the bath together.
    • After all the stress over Kala's Love Triangle, she eventually chooses both Rajan and Wolfgang, and both men agree to it and are implied to be a little into each other themselves.
    • Amanita parents: she has a mother and three dads.
  • Power Perversion Potential: The series acknowledges the likelihood of kinkiness coming up when eight attractive non-asexual adults become emotionally linked. Summed up wonderfully in one scene which has Wolfgang, Will, Lito, and Nomi having a psychic four-way in a Jacuzzi, later on in the Christmas Special, all eight of them are in psychic orgy, and finally in the finale when the eight sensates, Amanita, Hernando, Daniela, Rajan, Detective Mun, and Zakia have another psychic orgy.
  • Practical Effects: As shown in the behind the scenes featurette "Creating the World" most of the actor switching when the sensates were taking over another's body was actually done by the actors simply getting out of and into shot quickly while the camera was pointed aside or an object in front of them hid the switch.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide:
    • Whispers has Niles kill himself after he kills Dr. Metzger. Later he takes control of a woman to kill the Chairman and assault Will, then has her kill herself.
    • Multiple members of a cluster Angelica birthed suffer this. Angelica herself burns Raoul to death, and Whispers is implied to hang Todd after using him to commit mass murder.
  • Psychic Link: The series centers around these eight individuals developing the ability to feel each other's emotions, use each other senses, utilize their other selves's skills, and communicate with each other to seek advice, guidance, and support.
  • Riding into the Sunset: More literally sailing, but the last episode of the first season shows all 8 sensates on a boat sailing off into the Icelandic sunset.

  • Sad Bollywood Wedding: Everyone is delighted that Kala's marrying Rajan except for Kala herself, because Rajan is by all accounts the perfect husband but she doesn't love him. At her wedding in episode 5, she's clearly reluctant when going through the proceedings. And just before it's time to take the binding vow, Wolfgang appears to her naked, causing her to faint and the wedding to be postponed.
  • Scenery Porn: The eight characters are spread around the world and the show is entirely shot on location by double-oscar-winning director of photography John Toll, which leads to some beautiful shots of San Francisco, Seoul, Mexico City, London, Mumbai, Nairobi, Chicago, Berlin, and Iceland.
  • Self-Deprecation: Lito's film is a horrific In-Universe Cliché Storm full of melodramatic Narm, feeling very much like the Wachowskis taking a poke at their own tendencies.
  • Seeing Through Another's Eyes: A direct manifestation of sensate powers. Clustermates can see through each other's eyes and take over each other's bodies.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • The ending of the first season hints at the plotlines to come. Will has to be kept in an induced coma and Riley has to protect him; Sun is still in prison while her murderous brother is free; Kala is going to marry a good man whom she does not love; and Wolfgang broke up with her for her own good (as he sees it) and has to deal with the fallout of murdering his remaining family; Capheus will need to find another source of money for his mother's medicine; Lito's career is in jeopardy; and Nomi is a fugitive. However, it turns out Riley, now that she has revealed her deepest pain to the cluster, is no longer the Distressed Damsel but the first sensate capable of visiting every member at once. In addition to that, Jonas's motives are still unclear and we aren't given an explanation as to who Sara Patrell is.
    • In the second season, most of the cluster are now physically together, having kidnapped both Jonas and Whispers. However: Wolfgang is still held captive by the BPO; Will, Riley (and Nomi) remain fugitives; Kala's husband is involved in some shady business while her identity was exposed to Whispers; Sun's brother remains at large and is now clearly protected by a politician (in addition to her notorious reputation at home); and Capheus still has a bounty on his head placed by his political rival. As for Lito, he has to worry about whether he will succeed in Hollywood.
  • Shown Their Work: Hospitals turning away victims of gunshot violence really happens in some areas of Chicago due to not having enough trauma resources.
  • Shout-Out: In "Obligate Mutualisms", Rembrandt van Rijn's The Night Watch can be seen in the painter's atelier.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": A quick one signals the damage to Rajan's erect penis.
  • Significant Birth Date: A cluster forms among sensates who are born all at the same time. All the protagonists were born on August 8th and took their first breath together.
  • Spirit Advisor: Jonas to Nomi and Will. Since they're the only ones in the cluster who've seen him directly, they're the only ones who can interact with him.
  • Starts with a Suicide: Angelica's suicide occurs at the beginning of the first episode, which sets off the plot.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: When Sun meets with one of her brother's clients in his place, the client says he has no interest working with a woman. In the most vile and revolting way possible.
  • Stock Footage: Averted; the opening credits is comprised of scenes from the various cities the Sensates live in, but it was all actually filmed just for the show.
  • Stock Scream: Sun-in-Will's-body fights a group of guards, knocking one off of a ledge. We hear the Wilhelm Scream.
  • Suicide Attack: In the series finale Jonas launches one against BPO, blowing up the building with him inside.
  • Suicide for Others' Happiness: After Angelica births a new cluster, Jonas convinces her to do this to protect the new cluster and tries to convince Will and Riley to do the same to protect theirs. Yrsa also tries to convince Riley to do this when she's in custody.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Discussed; Yrsa refused to ever have children because of the possibility that they would be sensates as well and be hunted by Whispers.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: At least a few of Sun's cellmates. One murdered her explicitly abusive husband, and another's husband was implied to be the same.
  • Take That!:
    • In Metzger's apartment, Amanita finds a picture of him and Dick Cheney: "He's friends with Cheney. He must be evil."
    • Amanita quips that 4 Non Blondes' song "What's Up?" is "the perfect soundtrack for a lobotomy."
    • During the Christmas special, Lito is looking through hateful tweets after being forced out of the closet. In an amusing juxtaposition, however, the Twitter handles are names like "Repressed", "Full of HATE", and "I Read Tabloids" - making it clear that the show has nothing but disdain for this type of behaviour.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: The subtext of the final confrontation between Wolfgang and Steiner is all about this. These are two characters vying for the position of alpha male, and Wolfgang is the clear victor, having performed the impossible feat of cracking an uncrackable safe. Steiner cannot accept this as fact, because it would mean that Wolfgang is more of a "man" than him, so he demands Wolfgang admit that it is a lie. Likewise, Wolfgang's fatal flaw is that he is unwilling to compromise his well-earned "manhood" even in the face of death. He cannot give Steiner the satisfaction of feeling superior. Only Lito, who has made a career out of pretending to be someone he's not, has the ability to give Steiner what he wants.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: Wolfgang isn't content to simply shoot his cousin Steiner. He blows up his car with a rocket-propelled grenade as Steiner is driving away. Lito is impressed.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Kala saying "Bring it, bitch" to Lila in season 2.
  • Threesome Subtext: Lito and Hernando are in a committed relationship, but they live and share a bed with Daniela, who's acting as Lito's beard for the public and gets herself off watching the two of them go at it.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Child actors play the sensates during flashbacks to their childhoods.
  • Title Drop:
    • Every episode title is taken from a line of dialogue.
    • The word Sense8—but as Sensate—shows up multiple times as that is what the main characters are.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Rajan's father going to talk to Kala at the temple, walking past all the posters denouncing him and calling for his destruction in order to see her. Why the heck did he think going there was a good idea? Past episodes shows he knew very little about the local religion and customs. Meaning that he had both underestimated the devotees anger, and just how far they would go to stop him.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The first trailer says "from the creators of The Matrix" while a man skids through a gigantic Gun Fu fight on his knees, Guns Akimbo, shooting in opposite directions. It's actually Lito shooting an exploitation flick. You can even see the wires!
  • Translation Convention: Most of the time the audience hears English, regardless of what language the characters are speaking. Spanish sounds like English spoke with a Spanish accent, Hindi sounds like English spoken with a Hindi accent, etc. (Of course, Riley also sounds like she's speaking English with an Icelandic accent when she actually is speaking English with an Icelandic accent.) The cluster can all understand each other no matter the language they are speaking, and thus so can we. It is implied that they hear each other in the language that they understand the most. The only time it's not used is when a member of the cluster starts speaking another's language.
  • Triumphant Reprise: Throughout the first season, Riley sings an Icelandic lullaby to herself, usually in times of distress. At one point, she even says what the song is about: a mother having to drown her child. Add that to being in a minor key, and you have the makings of a very creepy, very morbid song that Riley finds comfort in, but only ever sings when things are going very badly for her... Except for the final scene, where she sings it to an incapacitated Will after finally having overcome her bad experience on the mountain, and found the will to get herself and her rescuer to safety. She even sings it with a faint smile, whereas before she only sang it with a look of dread or despair.
  • Twisted Echo Cut: When scenes cut from one location to the next, oftentimes ideas are carried over into the new scene, like when Kala's father says "Tears can be happy... and sad", the scene cut to the funeral of Wolfgang's father in Berlin.
  • Underestimating Badassery: People tend to underestimate Sun; her opponent in Episode 3 brushes her off as a "skinny bitch" and the bullies in prison think they can take her with no problem. They are very wrong.
  • Universal Driver's License: Subverted in season 2 during Sun's escape from prison. Min-Jung asks if Sun is sure she can drive a bus. She easily can, since she has help from Capheus.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Kala refers to Wolfgang's large "trunk" while she prays to the elephant-headed Ganesha.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: None of the other sensates seems to have an issue with Nomi being a trans woman, though a few of them might not have even noticed by the end of the first season since it never explicitly comes up. Because none of them express any bigoted beliefs about any topic, this is apparently because they're all open-minded people regardless of their background. It also presumably helps that they're telepathically linked to each other.
  • Visual Pun: In one scene, Nomi is having sex with Amanita at the same time that Lito and Hernando are going at it. Their minds link up, and they end up drawing Wolfgang and Will into the escapade. Because of how sharing minds is portrayed visually, the fact that four people sharing mindspace at a time turns the scene into a visual clusterfuck.
  • Waif-Fu: Sun is a slender woman with Rule of Cool-fueled martial arts skills that work on everyone, no matter how much larger or stronger they are then her. This is emphasized when she goes Fight Clubbing against a man who is reluctant to fight with a woman half his size, but still gets beaten up.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 7, "W.W.N.Double D", sees Felix shot in a drive by shooting, Lito's career put in jeopardy when Joaquin gets a hold of Daniela's phone, and the return of Mr. Whispers in a huge way when he possesses Niles and kills Dr. Metzger.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Wolfgang's mother is only seen in flashbacks to his childhood and never in the present day. She doesn't attend the funeral for Wolfgang's grandfather in the first episode and there's no mention of her current whereabouts.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Jonas answers with a variation of this to Will after the latter asks him if the Sensate are human.
  • Workout Fanservice:
    • The Christmas special has numerous scenes of Sun training in her underwear, or at least partially stripped.
    • "Isolated Above, Connected Below" features a scene of Kala watching Wolfgang play soccer while shirtless.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: A running theme throughout the series is the sensates reacting with awe to seeing where their new friends live as many of them have never seen these places before. When Riley is flying home to Iceland, Capheus joyfully says that he's never seen clouds from above before as he's never been on a plane. The opening credits are a stunning montage of clips from each of the locations featured in the show.
  • You Are Not Alone: The major theme of the series, emphasizing connection that transcends national lines.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sense Eight


Attempted Prison Murder

When Sun's enemies try to hang her, the rest of her cluster immediately start getting throttled as well.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / Synchronization

Media sources: