Follow TV Tropes


Series / Snowfall

Go To
I bet the FX logo´s on crack.
Snowfall is a series airing on FX, created by John Singleton, Eric Amadio, and Dave Andron, and starring Damson Idris, Carter Hudson, and Emily Rios.

When a cocaine dealer suffers an overdose in 1980's Los Angeles, a local CIA operative sees an opportunity to gain a foothold in the business. Elsewhere, an ambitious young black man stumbles upon a similar opportunity when his white friend wants to score some party drugs, and an aging Mexican wrestler seeks a change of career.

This series contains examples of:

  • The '80s
  • Adopted to the House: Franklin spent some time living with his white friend Rob. Rob's father tries to invoke this kindness in hopes of being forgiven for stealing some of Franklin's cocaine, but Franklin isn't having it.
  • The Alcoholic: Franklin's dad Alton used to be a Black Panther, but his drinking put an end to that. In season 2, he finally decides to get sober.
  • Alternate Universe: The first half of "Other Lives" explores a world where Franklin Saint never got involved in the drug trade, but was instead recruited to the CIA by Teddy McDonald.
  • Advertisement:
  • Badass Israeli: Avi is a deconstruction; while he is hugely successful, his paranoid and erratic behavior make him a pain in the ass to deal with, and it's glaringly obvious that his organization is held together mainly by the force of his personality. Sure enough, in the second-season premiere, he gets arrested, and his operation falls apart.
  • Bi the Way: Claudia and Louie used to be an item, back in the day. In season 2, Louie briefly leaves Jerome to shack up with Claudia, only to go back to Jerome after Claudia falls back into her bad habits.
  • The Bus Came Back: Franklin runs into Ray Ray in prison. Ray Ray has him beaten to a pulp for what he did to Lenny back in the first season.
  • Category Traitor: Franklin's mom Cissy used to be a rent collector at an apartment complex owned by a white man but populated by black people, which means that her job often required her to kick black people out of their apartments when they were unable to make rent. This has not endeared her to other black people in her neighborhood, and the resulting harassment that his mother received has made Franklin cynical enough about black culture that he's willing to work with Avi.
  • Advertisement:
  • Depraved Bisexual: Claudia is not afraid of using her bisexuality as a means of asserting dominance over the younger women who work for her. In "Story of a Scar", she demands that Louie sleep with her in exchange for setting up the meeting between Franklin and Lenny.
  • Disappeared Dad: Franklin's dad left his mother years ago and spent years living on the streets. In season 2, circumstances force him to move back in with Cissy, though he still has yet to reconcile with Franklin.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Leon has been stuck with the nickname "Lil' Leon" ever since his stint in juvie. He hates it.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: As part of his psychological warfare against Ray-Ray, Karvel helps himself to Ray Ray's cereal.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Franklin tries to keep his mother from finding out about his extracurricular activities. She eventually does find out, and kicks him out of her house, but reconciles with him after he promises to eventually become a legitimate businessman.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Franklin and Jerome go to confront Jim Volpe for stealing some of their cocaine, Jim whines about how he needed to sell the cocaine to cover the expenses of raising his son, which he has meticulously tallied up. Jerome may be an unrepentant drug dealer, but he is so appalled at the notion of keeping a running tab on your own offspring that he summons Jim's son and goads the boy into beating up his dad for being such a stingy asshole.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: In the third-season finale, Franklin's recovery from his near death coincides with the LAPD being over-exerted as a result of the Summer Olympics. The result is a massive power vacuum that leads to a very ugly gang war.
  • Handicapped Badass: By the end of the third season, Franklin has become this. Mel's attempt to kill him may have left him dependent upon a cane, but he still manages to command respect.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Alton looks much better once he shaves off his beard.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the first episode, Logan dies after overdosing on his own cocaine supply.
  • Inspector Javert:
    • In season 2, DEA Agent Lorena is determined to bring down the Villanueva cartel, and doesn't care how much carnage she has to inflict in order to do it.
    • In season 3, Andre Wright becomes determined to rid his neighborhood of Franklin Saint and his rocks.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: In seasons 2 and 3, Teddy and his CIA operation butt heads with Lorena and her DEA operation. They make a truce at the end of the season, with Teddy promising to turn over all his cartel contacts in exchange for Lorena letting the operation play out, but then Lorena gets killed, and her handler decides to go after Teddy.
  • Masked Luchador: El Oso is a masked wrestler in Los Angeles' Mexican immigrant community. He's smart enough to realize that he can't keep wrestling forever, which is why he decides to get involved in the cocaine business.
  • Mercy Kill: One of the things that drove Alton out of the Panthers and into the bottle was his guilt over killing his cousin Jack. Jack had been a police informant who had been compromised, and the Panthers intended to torture him to death, so Alton shot him dead in order to spare him the pain and suffering that he would have gotten if the Panthers had found him alive.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Kev gives up the manufacturing process to Lucia in exchange for the identity of his cousin's killer, harming Franklin's business in the process. Although he's tired of Franklin's management, Kev's real motivation for this is to avenge his cousin's death.
  • The Mole: Pedro and Soledad are both working for the DEA, and they've infiltrated the Villanueva cartel in order to bring it down.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Franklin is devastated when he finds out that he killed Kevin.
  • Naughty Narcs: DEA Agent Lorena is so obsessed with bringing down the Villanueva cartel that she tries to sabotage a CIA operation and nearly starts an ugly gang war. While she hasn't outright broken the law yet, it seems like only a matter of time. In season 3, she joins Teddy's operation in order to make sure that he keeps his promise to help her bring down the Villanueva cartel.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • In "Slow Hand", Teddy insists that a shipment of weapons bound for the Contras have the serial numbers filed off to prevent anyone from connecting the weapons to the United States, but then he blows off doing the actual filing in order to visit his girlfriend and son, and thus the weapons are sent on to the Contras unaltered.
    • In "The Rubicon", Jerome tries to negotiate with Avi for a lower price on the cocaine, despite Franklin being perfectly fine with the current price. Avi does not take kindly to this and ends up raising the price instead.
  • Noodle Incident: Teddy begins the series removed from active service in the CIA for unrevealed reasons. We later find out it's because he freaked out over one of his agents being caught up in the Iranian Revolution and tried to attack his superior with a Civil War-era saber.
  • Oh, Crap!: Franklin and Leon are horrified when they realize that Karvel's method of getting Ray-Ray to talk consists of brutally sodomizing him.
  • Pet the Dog: In "The Rubicon", Franklin buys ice cream for the kids in his neighborhood.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • In "Prometheus Rising", Kev hears a rumor that two of his guys got castrated by the Mexicans. Franklin has to spend the episode searching for answers about whether or not the rumor is true before his crew starts a race war in retaliation.
    • Teddy neglects to inform Oso that Lorena left the DEA and joined his team. When Oso shows up at the stash house and finds Lorena waiting for him, he shoots her dead.
  • Properly Paranoid: Teddy, Oso, Avi, and Franklin all conduct their business with a certain level of paranoia. Given that they work in the cocaine business during the 80's, this is understandable.
    Franklin: I am a black man in America! Hell yeah I'm paranoid!
  • Reality Ensues:
    • In the hopes of stopping Kev from shooting a Mexican gangster and starting a war, Franklin shoots him in the leg. He figures that because it's only a leg wound, Kev will merely be incapacitated. The next episode reveals that Franklin's shot hit an artery; Kev bled out and died, and Franklin is arrested for murder.
    • Andre Wright's Inspector Javert tendencies end up biting him in the ass when he gets drugged and loses his sidearm. When he correctly deduces that Franklin was behind the theft, his superiors assume that he's become obsessed with Franklin and put him on suspension.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Teddy was banished to a desk job in Los Angeles for flipping out on his superior. He sees Logan's operation as an opportunity to get back into the field.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In order to prove his toughness to Avi, Franklin straps on a bulletproof vest and offers to let the crazy bastard shoot him at short range.
  • Scary Black Man: Karvel is a very intimidating black man.
  • Shoot the Dog:
    • After discovering Alejandro in the act of killing Victoria to prevent her from learning his identity, Teddy kills Alejandro.
    • In order to secure a peace between them, Franklin pays Ray Ray to murder Lenny.
  • Start of Darkness: In the second-season finale, Franklin is left deeply embittered by his time in prison, and upon being released, he resolves to take a much less forgiving approach to running his business.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: In "Slow Hand", Franklin is desperate to recover his money, and thus enlists the aid of hardened criminal Karvel to help him rough up the guys who stole it.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After Alejandro murders Victoria in order to prevent her from finding out his identity, Teddy decides that he can't work with someone like Alejandro anymore and thus shoots him dead.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: