Follow TV Tropes


Series / Strike Back

Go To
Diplomacy is overrated.

Strike Back is a British/American action series that's aired between 2010 to the present that centers on the members of "Section 20", an MI6/British military intelligence black-ops unit.

The first series, Chris Ryan's Strike Back, (which later aired on Cinemax under the subtitle Origins in late 2013), aired as a six-part miniseries on the UK's Sky Network in 2010. It's loosely based on the Chris Ryan novel and follows John Porter (Richard Armitage), a disgraced former-SAS soldier, who is drafted into service by former comrade Hugh Collinson (Andrew Lincoln), the head of Section 20. Initially recruited to rescue a hostage from terrorists in Iraq and later going on missions in Zimbabwe and Afghanistan, Porter soon learns there's a conspiracy of silence behind the failed mission that led to his dishonourable discharge.

The second series, Strike Back: Project Dawn, ran for ten episodes in 2011 and was co-produced by Cinemax with an entirely new cast and abandoning the storyline set up in the previous series. It follows Section 20's attempts to track down Pakistani terrorist Latif, who is attempting to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction; their efforts are led by Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), a straight-laced SBS trooper, and Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), a disgraced former-Delta operator. The pair are also trying to unravel the mystery of "Project Dawn", which is linked to Scott's unfair dismissal from Delta Force, the final fate of John Porter, and Latif's plan to acquire a WMD.

The third series, Strike Back: Vengeance, is another ten-episode Cinemax co-production and a direct sequel to the previous series, once again starring Winchester and Stapleton, with Rhona Mitra also starring as Rachel Dalton, the new commander of Section 20. In Vengeance, a simple exchange gone wrong puts Section 20 on the trail of nuclear triggers and competing against the forces of Conrad Knox (Charles Dance), a businessmen with an agenda. Stonebridge's semi-retirement as an SAS training officer is shattered when a vengeful former colleague murders his wife, and he returns to Section 20 to seek revenge; meanwhile, Scott is reunited with CIA officer Christy Bryant, who threatens to expose the secrets of his past.

The fourth series, Strike Back: Shadow Warfare, is also ten-episodes, with Cinemax continuing its partnership and Winchester, Stapleton and Mitra reprising their roles. Shadow Warfare begins with Scott and Stonebridge being recalled from vacation in the western U.S. after another member of Section 20 is killed in Lebanon while tracking the terrorist al-Zuhari. While Scott and Stonebridge are deployed in Colombia to recover Zuhari's top lieutenant, Dalton, who was trapped in Lebanon after Section 20's original mission was compromised, begins searching for a rogue MI-6 operative who may have sold the team out to al-Zuhari.

The fifth series, Strike Back: Legacy, premiered in 2015. It was originally planned for 2014 but production had to be delayed after Sullivan Stapleton was involved in a near-fatal accident as the passenger of a tuk-tuk after a night out in Thailand. In this series, Section 20 gets caught up in a North Korean conspiracy as both Scott and Stonebridge start giving serious thought about what they'd do once they're no longer able to go out into the field. This series also takes a back to basics approach, with Section 20 being stripped down until it's just the two of them and Locke trying to save the world on their own.

The Scott-Stonebridge iteration of the show delivered strong ratings through its run. So much so that the producers have begun work on a cinematic adaptation that will feature the two characters.

While the fifth installment was the final one, a sixth series, with a completely new cast and new characters, has been green-lit and started airing in November 2017, with the subtitle Retribution. A seventh season, subtitled Revolution (Silent War in the UK), started airing in January 2019. It ended with its eighth and final season, Vendetta, in spring 2020.


    open/close all folders 

    Whole run 
  • Anyone Can Die: Stonebridge and Scott aside, a lot of Section 20 regulars end up killed off, frequently with little warning. Midway through Shadow Warfare, only one person from Project Dawn is still alive. That sole survivor buys the farm in Legacy.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The main characters have no problem using every dirt trick they can think of.
  • Disappearing Bullets: Sometimes played straight, though they also frequently take pains to avert it. One of the better aversions is during the prisoner exchange in Kosovo, when Stonebridge takes out one of Hasani’s men with a rifle shot, with the bullet prominently kicking dirt up behind him.
  • Fanservice: Hoo boy... and girl. There's a lot of this (for both genders), especially after Cinemax got involved. Scott's life philosophy seems to be "see the world, meet interesting people and have gratuitous explicit sex with the attractive female ones".
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Scott and Stonebridge have ended up in fights while being completely naked.
  • Location Doubling: South Africa and Hungary for a lot of other places... and sometimes themselves too.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: This is averted in the first seasons when Section 20 has plenty of support personnel both in Britain and in the field. However, as the series progresses that seems to disappear and by Legacy it's just the five main characters doing everything with an occasional assist from a local asset.
  • New Season, New Name: Each season gets a subtitle.
  • Odd Couple: Scott and Stonebridge. Scott's a loudmouthed American who'll jump into bed with nearly every woman who offers (before character development set in) while Stonebridge is a stoic Brit whose emotional repression causes him all sorts of trouble and has apparently been celibate since at least Vengeance.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Section 20. Nominally an MI6 unit, the main team consists of a British SBS trooper, a disgraced ex-Delta Force operator, and a British Army intelligence sergeant. In Shadow Warfare, an American DEA agent joins the team, with an Israeli Mossad officer, a CIA deep cover asset, and a Russian FSB officer showing up as well.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Many of Scott and Stonebridge's operations are successful simply because they decide to go for broke and their opponents don't expect how much havoc the two of them can wreak.
  • Running Gag: Scott and Stonebridge can never agree on whether to go on "one" or "go".
    • Section 20's commanders have a very short life expectancy. Specifically, those who are in command at the start of the season will die by the end.
      • This has been averted with Colonel Alexander Coltrane, who lasted two seasons, all the way to the end of the series. Quite stunning considering not only the role, but that he was played by Jamie Bamber, a well known Chronically Killed Actor. Bamber himself lampshaded both of these tendencies in an interview after he took on the role, saying "It's not a question of "if", but of "when", "how", and "who"", then did so again after the finale, stating that he was both surprised and grateful that Coltrane survived.
  • Steel Eardrums: Massive explosions, huge gunfights—with machine guns, no less—yet our heroes are completely unaffected.

    Chris Ryan's Strike Back 
  • America Saves the Day: Inverted. The last story arc has the American government as the badguys: They used and abused a PTSD-addled computer expert and sent him off to Afghanistan, where he defected and joined a local warlord/politician who plans on taking over the whole of the Middle East. When he starts redirecting missiles at American troops, he's captured and planned to be executed in order to shift the blame onto the Brits, along with denying the existence of a second captive, who they know is a British SAS undercover, despite the fact his photo is already been seen by the Brits. It turns out they're also backing the warlord, and willing to supply him with weapons and information, as they believe he can control the Taliban for them, and they're willing to betray and demonize their own allies in order to do it, and do so while admitting it to their faces. Even Non-American viewers may find the depiction unneedingly demonizing towards America. Makes the second series' playing it straight with the focus on the American soldier a little ironic really.
  • Ass Shove: In the first two episodes, John Porter takes a moment (before walking into a terrorist trap) to wrap a Swiss army knife in cling-wrap and insert it into his ass. After being captured and verifying that the terrorists are holding the woman he's trying to rescue, he removes the knife and uses it to escape his cell.
  • Body Double: Robert Mugabe had a body double as plot for episode 3, season 1.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: This season is produced without Cinemax, has 6 episodes (instead of the 10 later seasons got), and completely different protagonists than later seasons. It's like an action genre version of the UK & US versions of [[The Office]].
  • Every Helicopter Is a Huey: Even British ones, apparently, though the British army have never used them.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Richard Armitage. Of course, he gets his shirt off.
  • Get into Jail Free
  • Ho Yay: Gerald Baxter and John Porter. Invoked by Baxter saying they've got a fine "bromance" going. Just before he gets shot in the head by a sniper.
  • I Lied: Al-Nazeri, when preparing to execute the journalist in episode two:
    Porter: Hakim, you bastard, you said you'd take me first.
    Al-Nazeri: I lied.
  • Intimate Psychotherapy
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Porter's plan for rescuing the journalist in episode two, hence the Ass Shove above. It did go a little rougher than planned - he probably didn't expect them to have a bug detector for the tracker in his tooth, which was promptly ripped out of his mouth, preventing Section 20 from tracking him after that point.
  • Location Doubling: Filmed in South Africa.
  • Zerg Rush: Near the end of episode 4, season 1, Zimbabwean special forces try to kill off Felix and Porter somewhere near the Zimbabwe/South Africa border.

    Strike Back: Project Dawn 
  • Aborted Arc: The first series ended with Porter wrongly labeled a terrorist and on the run. This series opens with Porter still a part of Section 20 with no explanation as to what happened in the interim. This aborted arc is also attributed to Real Life Writes the Plot when actor Richard Armitage had already signed on to portray Thorin Oakenshield for The Hobbit by the time Project Dawn was announced.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Latif's men follow a tracker he had to the Crib's location in Budapest, slaughtering Section 20's staff and abducting Grant. Only Richmond and Sinclair manage to avoid the initial surprise attack, taking cover before Scott and Stonebridge can get there to provide backup.
  • Artistic License – Military: US Army personnel in episodes 7 and 8 wear something that's definitely not ACUs, and wear the wrong US flag patch on their sleevesnote .
    • An MP would not be sent to conduct an undercover operation. That would fall under Army CID (Criminal Investigation Division). MPs guard base gates, corral drunk/unruly soldiers, and secure prisoners and POWs. CID investigates criminal activity.
    • The photo of pre-dishonorable discharge Scott in Grant's Trojan Horse file shows him wearing British desert camo with sewn-on rank devices on the collar lapels and a black beret with no flash. Since the photo was taken in 2003, he should be wearing either Woodland BDUs or 3-Color DCUs. His beret should have a Special Operations Forces flash and his collar devices should be pins, not patches.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Scott and the little girl he rescues in the hotel siege have this going on through the first two episodes.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Three moments in the space of about five minutes in episode 2:
    • First, Stonebridge ambushes the group of terrorists trying to smuggle Mahmood out through the backdoor of the hotel. In the process, he puts a bullet through The Bespectacled Man's eye, defeating his attempt to use Mahmood as a Human Shield.
    • Next up, Scott, after making sure to get the small child he's been safeguarding out of the line of fire, bum rushes the terrorists in the main lobby. He jumps the leader and knocks the detonator out of his hand, then completely disconnects the fuse for the bombs on the front door so the Indian Special Forces doesn't kill everyone when they storm the place. Unfortunately, the bomb hanging from the roof can still be detonated the old-fashioned way, and despite being shot by one of his own men, the terrorist leader still has enough presence of mind to cut the supporting wire before he dies.
    • That's when Stonebridge charges in from the side, directly in the crossfire of the Indian Army and the remaining terrorists, and leaps up to catch the bomb with about two feet to spare before it hits the ground and blows the hotel to kingdom come. This earns him a short round of applause from Scott.
  • Blackmail: In order to get the Georgians to send a chopper into Chechnya to extract Scott and Stonebridge, Sinclair threatens to tell the Russians that the Georgians inserted the two of them, plus a squad of their own soldiers, into Chechnyanote  in the first place.
  • Body Horror: Latif's master plan partly involves implanting explosive canisters of VX inside the bodies of Chechen dissidents willing to be blown up to send a message to the West.
  • Book Ends: The two instances of Due to the Dead. The first time, Scott is way down at the other end of the bar, and doesn't join the others in toasting Porter, even ordering a glass of beer instead of the shots drank by the others. The next time, Scott, having proven his worth and loyalty to Section 20 time and time again, joins the others in toasting Colonel Grant.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Many. And they're not pretty. One of the first being how Porter meets his end.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Stonebridge does not expect an African warlord to be wearing one. This almost gets him killed.
  • The Casanova: Scott seems to be extremely good at picking up women no matter what country he is in.
  • The Chessmaster: When the team tries to foil Latif's plan in India, it turns out he has multiple backup plans. When all of them fail, his final backup is to trick the good guys into simply handing over to him what he was after
  • Chivalrous Pervert:
    • Scott might be an unrepentant ladies' man, but he never mistreats a woman and will not have sex with a female hostage he rescued because that would be taking advantage of her vulnerable emotional state. He is also rather appalled to discover that Stonebridge is cheating on his wife with Marshall, though he doesn't consider it his business until it starts affecting their operational judgement.
    • A female variant as well. When Grant questions the woman she sent to analyze Scott on why she's sleeping with him a second time, the analyst simply says she enjoyed it, and is clearly irritated by Grant's views on sex.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Scott is dropping these after getting strapped to a bomb. His standard dialogue also skirts this territory, to the point of "Fuck me!" being a sort of Catchphrase.
  • Colonel Badass: Colonel Grant usually supervises the team from the command center but when things go to hell she will not hesitate to go into the field and rescue everyone herself.
  • The Conspiracy: Project Trojan Horse, now mostly defunct. Their aim: plant WMDs in Iraq to justify the war.
  • Cool Shades: Scott and Stonebridge make frequent use of them.
  • Dating Catwoman: Scott and the Girl of the Week, the Irish woman working for Connelly. True to the trope, Scott tries to convince her to reform and stop Connelly's assistance of Latif. She seems genuinely willing to, unfortunately she's hit by friendly fire (a point-blank shotgun blast blowing a softball-sized hole through her lower chest) when Scott's cover is blown.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Colonel Grant was one of the original architects of Project Trojan Horse, and concealed enough of the truth about it and Latif to help seal Porter's fate and lead Section 20 (and Europe) to the edge of disaster, not to mention her involvement in the framing of Scott. Hence why she puts Latif's gun to the bomb in her jacket to ensure they both get blown up.
  • Death Seeker: After Captain Kate Marshall is killed, Stonebridge seems to become this out of guilt. He takes dangerous risks and gets angry when Scott calls him out on it.
  • Demoted to Extra: John Porter's leading role was demoted to a tertiary character in Project Dawn.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Scott and Stonebridge keep trying to do this during the hotel siege, but keep getting captured.
  • The Dragon: Latif's bald bodyguard, who also seems to command a sizable militia in Chechnya. He also gives Scott a very close fight.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • As Section 20's activities are secret, a proper funeral for Porter simply isn't possible. His colleagues instead commemorate him by going to a quiet bar and buying a round of shots to toast his memory, with an extra shot being placed on a picture of Porter in dress uniform.
    • The team does this again at the end of the season, in memory of Colonel Grant.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: One of the few happy endings to be found in this show involves a Sudanese taxi driver named Yacoub, whose wife and children were murdered by Janjaweed, and a boy named Nayim, who was taken by Janjaweed to be a child soldier after they killed his mother. Nayim helps Dr. Claire Somersby escape, while Yacoub helps Stonebridge find her and fights bravely at his side. Yacoub adopts Nayim, while Stonebridge leaves them with a slightly-used truck and a briefcase full of money to give them a fresh start.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: In the ninth episode, Scott and Stonebridge find that Latif and his men have been using an interconnected group of Soviet-era underground bunkers in Chechnya as a base, complete with testing facilities for their VX distribution system and several corridors large enough to fit a tractor-trailer. Infrared satellite photos and a map found in a control room reveal that the bunker system is about 50 kilometers across and forms a gigantic five-point star.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Scott and Stonebridge both get one, which ends up subverted over the arc of the first two episodes.
    • Scott's introduced as a Jerkass womanizer who's Only in It for the Money. During the hotel siege he's revealed to be a Chivalrous Pervert who risks his own life to save civilians (including a little girl, who he's quite nice to). And he drops his attitude toward Stonebridge when things get serious.
    • Stonebridge is set-up as a consumate professional soldier who frowns on anything straying from that. In the siege he throws some snarky lines to Scott, and after is revealed to be cheating on his wife with Kate, and later meets with Scott in secret to express his distrust of Section 20.
  • Evil Is Sexy: In-Universe example. Connelly's female assistant. Scott certainly thinks so.
  • Face Deathwith Dignity: Daniel Connelly before being shot in the head by Grant.
  • The Faceless: Latif qualifies as this at the time of the premiere. Anyone who had seen him up close was dead (John Porter having been the last such individual), and the only known photo of Latif was ten years old, black and white and featured a man with dark shades, a beret and a massive beard, all of which together obscured anything that could truly identify him. They finally get a shot of his current face at the end of episode 2, but by that point he'd already tricked Section 20 into giving him Mahmood.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Scott and Stonebridge become this by the time the series ends.
  • Girly Scream: Scott lets loose one of these while strapped to a bomb. It's not nearly as funny as the trope usually implies, though...
  • Hidden Badass: Yes, their trained military and a part of Section 20, but Sinclair and Richmond are Mission Control for the majority of the season. Then Latif's men attack the Crib, and they arm up and proceed to take down a number of mooks. Richmond becomes more much active in the field after this.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The series is co-produced by Cinemax (often referred to as Skinemax) and has a lot more sex and nudity than the British original.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Latif's fate. Bonus points for resembling the petard's effect.
  • Idiot Ball: Apparently, Latif and his men think it's a good idea to just tie up Grant without looking to see if she had any weapons on her - say, a volatile plastic explosive that can be set off by a direct gunshot. And this in spite of Grant practically throwing said explosive device in Latif's face mere minutes earlier.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: Kennedy is ordered to execute Mrs. Heath in Kosovo because "It's time you did something to earn your cut." Instead, he shoots two of Hasani's goons sent with him, hides the old woman safely in the woods, and smuggles a pistol to Stonebridge and Scott. He's actually been sent to infiltrate and investigate Donoghue's unit.
  • Kick the Dog: In episode eight, the same man who earlier killed an old woman on the orders of his boss casually tosses a rotting head into the transport holding Scott, Stonebridge, and the EU hostages seemingly just to make them all physically ill, even quipping about it being a "souvenir of their visit". Turns out the actual souvenir is a loaded gun hidden inside, along with a note explaining that the old woman is alive (the gunshots heard back at camp was the man killing the other thugs at the mass grave).
  • Mission Control: Colonel Grant, Major Sinclair and Sgt. Richmond function as this. A few extras are frequently seen in the Crib as well.
  • The Mole: One of Donoghue's men turns out to be an American MP investigating Donoghue's involvement in Hasani's drug operation.
  • Mood Whiplash: Scott and Grant's rather humorous exchange about his possible employment with Section 20 was followed by The Reveal that The Bespectacled Man, believed to be Latif, was really just another underling, followed by Mahmood coming face to face with the real Latif, and the subsequent discovery of both her body and the real Major Ashkani's.
  • Number Two: Starting with this season, Section 20 always has an XO to the commander. Sinclair takes the spot a majority of the time, with Richmond filling in on occasion.
  • Odd Couple: Stonebridge is a Consummate Professional while Scott is a Military Maverick. Still, by the end of the series, they're Fire-Forged Friends.
  • Oh, Crap!: Section 20, when they realize the man they let into the Crib and informed of their operations was actually Latif.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Sergeant Kennedy, who's secretly investigating Donoghue for the US Army, is pissed when he finds that Scott already killed him, because after three months of seeing the Major's antics up close and playing along, he really wanted to do it himself.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Sullivan Stapleton's "American" accent falls under one of these.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: A conversation with Marshall causes Scott to realize that Porter's unscripted outbursts during his death speech went against his motto, "Never Give Up". This realization caused him to run said outbursts through a special code the two of them had devised years earlier in Afghanistan, leading them to the next piece of Latif's plan.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Latif's actual motivation. He's not a religious fundamentalist or revolutionary, denying he wants to be the next Bin Laden and abducting the reforming presidential candidate. Instead he's a Pakistani ultranationalist, seeking to mold Pakistan into a strongly militaristic, anti-Western nation that will use its nuclear weapons against the West.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: John Porter's demise was written into the story due to actor Richard Armitage having signed on for The Hobbit before Project Dawn was announced.
  • Real Men Get Shot: Either Stonebridge or Scott on almost every mission.
  • Redemption Equals Death:
    • The killing of an adolescent hostage greatly affects one of the terrorists in the Indian hotel takeover. He later aids Scott in getting a little girl out of the line of fire and kills his commander when he tries to blow them all up. However, since he's still a terrorist firing a weapon and they don't know what he's done, the Indian special forces storming the place shoot him.
    • Crawford is an associate of Latif, weapons dealer, and a general bad guy but he risks everything to rescue his estranged daughter and dies in the process.
  • Red Herring: Despite some reasonable theories from Scott, Sinclair isn't The Mole in Section 20. Grant is, but not quite in the traditional evil sense.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Given that he probably knew he was considered unemployable, and that the whole point of bringing him into the mission (ID'ing Latif) was rendered moot since he had never actually seen Latif's face, this is probably the best way to describe Scott's demands for employment with Section 20.
    I want a salary that's competitive with top tier PMCs, a living allowance and private health insurance, of course; unlimited expenses and business-class travel twice a year back to the States. Oh, and there's a couple debt collectors I'd like paid off, too.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: One of the EU hostages, hoping to somehow work out a deal with Hasani, reveals the true target of Scott and Stonebridge to him. Hasani invokes this just after blowing his brains out.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: Episode 3 has a close-up shot of Neve emerging topless from a swimming pool.
  • Soft Reboot: All characters and plotlines from the previous series are ignored.
  • Spy Satellites: Albeit ones that drift out of position, thereby cutting the feed.
  • Strange Salute: Scott frequently gives somebody a US military salute that immediately transitions to Flipping the Bird. Also doubles as an ironic salute, depending on who it's directed at.
  • Suicide Attack:
  • The hostage takers in the first two episodes use a variant on this to help conceal the true goals of the attack.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Scott and Stonebridge are at each others throats, but are partnered. By episode seven, however, they've turned into Fire-Forged Friends and Vitriolic Best Buds.
  • Turncoat: Donoghue and his force of US peacekeepers in Kosovo. It turns out they're actively helping Hasani's drug ring, and personally hand him Scott, Stonebridge and several European Union envoys who had escaped Hasani's custody. It turns out the US Army suspects Donoghue is up to no good, and has sent a man to infiltrate his operation. He saves Scott and Stonebridge.
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction: Specifically VX, a nerve agent roughly ten times more lethal than Sarin. This particular batch was originally meant to be planted in Iraq, as part of a cover-up to justify the invasion.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The terrorist commander of the hotel attack who kills a Japanese teenager without hesitation when trying to draw out the real target of their attack.
  • You Have Failed Me: Hasani uses a joint operation with Latif as cover to get a relative out of jail. Since this attracts the attention of both the CIA and British army intelligence, Latif is not happy with him.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • After successfully implanting the bombs inside the bodies of the suicide bombers, Latif personally blows the brains out of his medical advisor. He also does the same to Hassani.
    • Mahmood also gets this, after being forced to spill the location of the WMDs Latif is after.

    Strike Back: Vengeance 
  • All Men Are Perverts: How Scott and Stonebridge track the corrupt politician working for Knox, by finding him in a strip joint.
  • Anyone Can Die: It wouldn't be Strike Back if they couldn't.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: An Arab attempts this on the Tuareg chieftess, Markunda, asking why she helps Westerners, who "take what they want and move on." Markunda shoots it down by citing the history between Arabs and Tuaregs: "At least they move on, Arab! It’s been a thousand years, and we are still waiting for you to leave!"
  • Black Dude Dies First: Among the members of Section 20 (thereby excluding Stonebridge's wife), Sinclair is the first major casualty of the season.
  • The Cavalry: A detachment of African Union forces rescues Scott, Stonebridge, Dalton and Richmond from Somali rebels by blitzing their location with tanks and armored personnel carriers.
  • Cold Sniper: Jessica Kohl. Karl Matlock, who often acts as her spotter, seems like this, but later episodes reveal that he doesn't always sleep well at night.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted, for once in the show (which generally has wood doors and cars able to stop high-velocity rounds from assault rifles). When chasing a gunman through a township in Zimbabwe, Stonebridge hides behind a shanty hut that does nothing to stop bullets. He barely avoids a headshot.
  • Corrupt Politician: Conrad Knox has one of these in his back pocket. He uses this connection to arrange for the detainment of Section 20 (minus Stonebridge and Scott, who were in the field at the time), which leads to Sinclair's death.
  • Death Is Dramatic: Played straight with Sinclair, but averted with Kohl. She's shot dead by Stonebridge in a sudden chaotic gunfight before many viewers might even be able to recognize her.
  • The Dragon: Matlock to Knox.
  • Due to the Dead: The group drink a toast to Major Sinclair, before continuing the hunt for Knox.
  • Empty Quiver: The driving plot point of the season is a set of nuclear triggers which were smuggled out of Libya by a former member of the Gaddafi regime - who killed his original escort and tried to turn them over to the Brits. Unfortunately, interference by a number of parties, particularly Conrad Knox, results in the triggers passing through the hands of several different individuals, before winding up in Knox's hands, at which point he builds his own warheads.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Conrad Knox does love his daughter, and has genuine affection and friendship with Walter Lutulu, going as far as to get Matlock to free him from prison. Doesn't mean he won't kill Lutulu if he won't play ball.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Karl Matlock, upon learning that Knox's plans have devolved from uniting Africa to working with street thugs to blow up a city For the Evulz, decides that he didn't sign on for that kind of meaningless slaughter. Sadly for him, Craig Hanson has no such reservations, and shoots Matlock to remove him from the equation.
  • Every Helicopter Is a Huey: Including one notable scene, the rescue of Walter Latulu from prison, where the helicopter changes from a US Navy Seahawk in one scene to a Huey in the next.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Stonebridge fails to spot a trip wire and the team barely escapes getting blown up by a grenade.
  • Foil: This season, with its focus on Private Military Contractors, offers a look at different paths for soldiers, contrasting Scott and Stonebridge. There's Scott's Delta buddy who goes private to pay the bills, something Scott planned to do if not for his record. Hansen is an SAS fried of Stonebridge who goes private and gets so consumed in revenge that he becomes an amoral self-destructive figure. And then there's Matlock, a Noble Demon willing to do evil in the name of good, but in a different way than the heroes do.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: To explain Knox's crimes to his daughter, and to get her help, Stonebridge crashes her anti-war fundraiser and introduces himself as...Michael Stonebridge, British military, who is greatly bothered by the spread of weapons across Africa. Which is all true. He just left out the part about being with Section 20.
  • Former Regime Personnel: The racist soldiers working for the corrupt South African politician aligned with Knox are heavily implied to be former enforcers of the Apartheid-era government.
  • French Foreign Legion: Matlock's a former decorated Legionnaire.
  • Freudian Excuse: Conrad Knox was the heir to one of South Africa's biggest banking families, who in his view helped prolong the Apartheid era. He plans to make up for it by uniting Zimbabwe and South Africa along with the entire African continent into one nation with a nuclear arsenal.
  • Gallows Humor: Having been captured by Somali gangsters, Scott is hung by his wrists from the ceiling for interrogation and some Cold-Blooded Torture. When asked what he’s doing in Mogadishu, Scott replies, "I dunno, but I am gonna kick my travel agent’s ass!"
  • Grenade Spam: When the team first tries to capture Othmani, he has a bag of grenades with him and he keeps tossing them behind him as he is making his escape. The team members have to constantly dodge behind cover to escape the blasts. Scott finds this particularly annoying.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Stonebridge. Again.
  • Heroic BSoD: Stonebridge has a few, as a side-effect of PTSD from Kerry's death.
    • Baxter and Richmond appear to suffer early stages of this, after Sinclair is murdered.
  • Hope Spot: See Villainous Rescue.
  • In the Back: Karl Matlock ends up dying this way, c/o Craig Hanson.
  • It's Personal: What the hunt for Knox becomes, after Major Sinclair is murdered.
  • The Lancer: Sinclair is much more by-the-book than Dalton, and regularly calls her out on her actions, but he's still her right-hand man.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The corrupt politician working for Knox ends up getting gunned down by Richmond while trying to flee from the prison where Sinclair was murdered.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Episodes 5 and 6 pit Section 20 against Knox's men against Mossad.
  • Mission Control: Richmond still does this, but along with Baxter, who takes over when Richmond's in the field.
  • Noble Demon: Matlock. He's a mercenary willing to kill if he must, but he's working for Knox partially out of idealism, doesn't care for vendettas, tries to avoid any unnecessary violence, and when taking a young child and his mother hostage, tries to shield them from violence, even letting the kid play soccer on a World Cup field.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Stonebridge gives Jake Hanson another chance to qualify for the SAS. It is against his better judgement but Hanson's brother once saved Stonebridge's life and Hanson seems really dedicated to the service. Things go horribly wrong when Hanson has a psychotic break and Stonebridge has to kill him. Craig Hanson takes this really bad and murders Stonebridge's wife.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: How Scott sees Mossad operative Rebekah Levy; they're both doing the same things for the same reasons, but Scott has managed to move on from and come to terms with being a CIA hitman, while Rebekah is still actively working for Mossad.
  • Oh, Crap!: Everyone gets these on a regular basis, even Conrad Knox.
  • Only Sane Man: By the last few episodes, Matlock becomes this to Knox's outfit.
  • Pet the Dog: Matlock downs a South African police commander. But instead of finishing the latter off, Matlock takes his pistol and tells him to go home, then escapes.
  • Private Military Contractors: Play a major role this season, with Matlock and Hansen being private contractors. Matlock leads the recruitment drive for Knox's mission, managing to recruit 800 special forces-level operators.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Knox's men are mercenaries who only follow his orders because he pays them a lot of money. They are still highly trained and very dangerous.
  • Puppet King: Knox's plans for Zimbabwe amount to this. He jail breaks popular opposition leader and close friend Walter Kutulu with the intent to covertly install him as President (via Democratic election, no less). Unfortunately, when he discovers that Knox plans to arm Zimbabwe with nukes, he becomes angry, and Knox assassinates him to keep him quiet. A subsequent attempt using Kutulu's daughter Lilian fails even more spectacularly thanks to Section 20, and she succeeds in revealing Knox's dirty dealings to the world.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Matlock gives one to Hansen in a later episode, contrasting Matlock's Noble Demon motivation with Hansen's blind violence.
  • Red Shirt: subverted. Sgt. Liam Baxter, who is actually pretty handy.
  • Retirony: Carl Matlock's job for Knox was supposed to be his last, whereupon he would retire to Switzerland. Doesn't pan out, thanks to Hanson.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Walter Kutulu believes that he can become President of Zimbabwe through democratic means and only needs Knox's mercenaries as protection. Knox feels that their chances will be much better if they first assassinate key members of the current government.
  • Scope Snipe: Realistically subverted. With Scott and Stonebridge pinned down by El Soldat's men in Southern Algeria, Kohl and Matlock are sent to either ensure El Soldat gets the triggers, or take them if the opportunity presents itself. With Kohl's rifle fire preventing their escape, Sinclair, Richmond, and Baxter use satellite imagery to give Scott a rough idea of where they are. He then fires twice at their spiderhole, with his second bullet punching through the objective lens of Kohl's rifle optic. We don't see exactly where it ends up, but it doesn't hit anybody in the face. It does solve their sniper problem, though.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: At the very end, Matlock decides to desert Knox, because Knox has grown too radical for his tastes and his decisions have become too questionable. Hanson kills him before he can really get away though.
  • Sympathetic Villain: Knox's motivations in a twisted sense. He wants to unite the African continent into one country, give it a nuclear arsenal so it can stand up for itself on the world stage and make up for his family's complicity in prolonging the South African Apartheid period. However, this deteriorates over time, and as Scott and Stonebridge keep on foiling his plans, he suffers a huge Sanity Slippage and falls off the Despair Event Horizon. Eventually, he settles for giving a nuke to Nigerian thugs to detonate indiscriminately, a decision that shocks even Matlock.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran:
    • Jake Hanson is one of these, and ends up having a psychotic break from a combination of this and drug use - during a live-fire exercise being overseen by Stonebridge. He kills several members of the squad during the break, and Stonebridge is forced to blow his brains out to save another man.
    • Stonebridge also starts suffering from this after his wife is murdered in front of him. This puts his teammates in danger when fails to notice a booby trap and then starts having flashbacks in the middle of a firefight.
    • Carl Matlock turns out to be one of these, which is why he initially joined up with Conrad Knox.
  • Shoot the Dog
  • Suspiciously Small Organization: Section 20 drifts into this season, with many of the extras in the Crib disappearing when Dalton decides to "go dark," leaving the six main characters as the only ones left. And before that, those six are the only ones to go into the field.
  • Taking You with Me: Othmani, upon realizing that El Soldat is likely going to pull a You Have Outlived Your Usefulness (despite the fact that they're brothers), decides to reconnect the circuit to the bomb strapped to his chest, blowing them both up in the process.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: After fighting off the first wave of El Sodat’s men, Stonebridge wonders what’s next. Scott replies, "Ever heard of the Alamo?"
  • Took a Level in Badass: Sgt. Julia Richmond, compared to Project Dawn. Whereas she spent most of that season in the Crib doing analysis, this season sees her in the field quite frequently, and she often demonstrates a level of skill and savvy on par with that of Scott, Stonebridge and Dalton.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Conrad Knox, from funding the escape of a Zimbabwe dissident leader, planning the unification of the African continent and assembling a nuclear arsenal which he initially planned to bestow to the new country, he runs on this troupe but slowly the "Well intentioned" part deteriorates as he becomes increasingly deluded, crosses the Despair Event Horizon and is Driven to Suicide .
  • Would Hit a Girl: Stonebridge has no problems with shooting Jessica Kohl (who, to be fair, has no problems shooting him).
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Dalton, being a former spy, approaches things from an espionage viewpoint, endangering the military focus of Section 20.
  • Villainous Friendship: Between Carl Matlock and Jessica Kohl. Their exact relationship is never actually articulated, but they're at least a close Intergenerational Friendship, to the point where Kohl is comfortable being topless around Matlock, and Matlock is visibly upset when Stonebridge kills Kohl.
  • Villainous Rescue: In episode 2, Matlocknote  and Kohl pull one of these via Gunship Rescue, raining down a hail of fire on the mob of Somali rebels so they'll back off and let them get to Scott, Stonebridge and co. They offer to turn over rebel leader Huseyin Waabri, a valuable bargaining chip for 20 - but demand the nuclear triggers they're carrying as payment. Scott hands them over while Stonebridge holds Dalton at gunpoint to insure her noninterference. While walking back to their cover, though, Waabri taunts Matlock about a switch he made earlier, and Matlock fills him with lead just as Scott throws him aside. The gunship pulls out and the rebel mob descends upon them once more.
  • We Used to Be Friends: See the below entry. Stonebridge and Craig Hanson were SAS buddies before the former joined 20 and the latter went into the private circuit. After Michael kills Hanson's brother and Craig kills Stonebridge's wife they are constantly out to kill each other.
  • Worthy Opponent: Matlock dislikes Section 20, but less in a hateful way, more out of annoyance that they keep showing up to interfere with his ops.
  • You Owe Me: Craig Hanson once saves Stonebridge's life and he calls in that debt so that Stonebridge gives Hanson's brother another chance to qualify for the SAS.

     Strike Back: Shadow Warfare 
  • A Father to His Men: Dalton tried to be this, but wasn't very successful. Locke does a better job of pulling it off, albeit as a more stern father.
  • Anyone Can Die: Sgt. Liam Baxter, introduced at the beginning of Vengeance, meets his end before the title sequence rolls on the premiere.
    • Mossad agent Rebekah Levy, who was in Vengeance and the first episode of Shadow Warfare, dies midway through the 2nd episode.
    • Major Dalton dies at the end of Episode 4.
    • Scott and Stonebridge aside, (after all, they have the most obvious Plot Armor) the only person from the second seriesnote  who is still alive at this point is Sergeant Julia Richmond.
    • Leo Kamali, who'd been hinted to be a possible Dragon Ascendant, is killed at the end of Episode 8 by Al-Zuhari. The next episodes subverts this with a Faking the Dead reveal.
  • Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: Colonel Phillip Locke first appears to be the usual Obstructive Bureaucrat... But then quickly shows himself to be on top of the ball, pragmatic - "Bring in Kumali alive, but if not possible, terminate," - and a Reasonable Authority Figure. And that's before his Big Damn Heroes moment. Yes, he does relieve Dalton of command of Section 20, but he had damn good reason to do so, given how unhinged Dalton was becoming. And that was before he learned she was drinking on the job and becoming addicted to morphine.
    • It's inverted for Dalton, who becomes rapidly more unhinged and demanding as the series goes on.
  • Big Bad Friend: Scott and Stonebridge consider Kamali to have become this, because they genuinely thought the three of them had become friends... and then they learn he's the real Big Bad of the season.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Major Dalton is facing down a hitman, and her pistol misfires... and then Colonel Phillip Locke drives into the hitman. "Always was a little heavy on the gas."
    • Locke then ups himself in episode 9 by using a grenade launcher to provide covering fire for a hot extract.
  • Book Ends: Kamali's first appearance onscreen is executing a tortured Liam Baxter with a bullet to the head. His last appearance has a tortured Kamali being executed by a bullet to the head. Like several other tropes, subverted in episode nine.
    • The series starts and ends with Stonebridge and Scott on the road together.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Baxter and Rebekah Levy die, courtesy of Kumali and The Jaguar respectively. Unlike most cases of this trope, Rebekah takes a while to die, enough time to say the Shema Yisrael and goodbye to Scott.
    • The Jaguar later gets this from Scott.
    • And then Dalton gets it also.
    • And then Kamali.
      • Subverted later - al-Zuhari was dead before the start of the series, and Kumali had taken his place. His execution by al-Zuhari's enforcer was staged.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: McKenna first seduces and then kills a member of the British Embassy staff in Budapest, then uses her fingerprints to gain access to the NATO hard drive.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Used on occasion by the lads, notably in Episode 9 and Episode 10.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: While extracting Kumali from the Jaguar's villa, Stonebridge and Scott kill a Russian who tried to stop them. When the Jaguar asks why they killed the son of a powerful Russian mobster, both Stonebridge and Scott are genuinely confused and ignorant about who they killed.
  • Cassandra Truth: Dalton believes that Sofia, the woman passenger picked up during Section 20's raid on what was supposed to be Al-Zuhari's transport into Lebanon, is not innocent and is involved with al-Zuhari. Locke strongly disagrees. Turns out Dalton was partially right - Sofia is al-Zuhari's wife, and she's carrying an SD card intended for him, though she's genuinely ignorant of Al-Zuhari's plans - but it's not much comfort.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: A fine example in Episode 10, as Scott and Stonebridge fight their way out of a van, starting with arguing about whether to act on "three" or "go" (in Morse code!), to Stonebridge talking to a terrorist who he's knifing - "Right, I need this car a lot more than you do!" to Scott being chided over his language by Stonebridge. See the Funny tab.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • In Episode 2, Stonebridge and Scott are tortured with cattle prods by The Jaguar.
    • In Episode 4, Dalton waterboards Sofia Aboud.
    • In Episode 6, Locke is on the receiving end of this.
    • In Episode 10, Scott and Stonebridge electric torture a Mook.
  • Colonel Badass: Colonel Phillip Locke is a 30 year veteran of the British Army and served in every conflict Britain was involved in during that time. Stonebridge is clearly impressed that Locke is involved in their mission. Locke then proves his reputation correct when he singlehandly saves Major Dalton from a hitman.
    • When the team are ambushed at an airport, Locke's response is to go on the offensive and kill everything (until getting attacked from behind). Later, when forced to dig his own grave, he instead kills the men guarding him, and nearly escaped on his own. And even while wounded and being tortured, and offered the name of the man who killed his son, he still won't give up NATO secrets.
  • Combat Pragmatist: For the most part, Section 20 are this. Par for the course, really. A good example is in Episode 9, when Stonebridge and Scott infiltrate a terrorist camp and used suppressed weapons to kill sleeping jihadis.
  • Continuity Nod: Locke refers to Stonebridge's pursuit of Hanson in Vengeance on occasion.
  • Could Say It, But...: Locke uses this to gently hint to the boys that he knows they're still holding the diamonds from Beirut, and suggests they might want to recheck the paperwork, and leaves them be. The boys reluctantly fill in the paperwork and leave the diamonds for Locke; Scott is mixed annoyed, frustrated and impressed that Locke figured it out.
  • Dead All Along: al-Zuhari was killed in a bombing run by the Israelis a few months before the start of the season. Kamali's been running his operation in his stead, and sending out false intel to conceal this.
  • Deep Cover Agent: Leo Kamali, the terrorist financier who killed Baxter, is actually a CIA deniable asset.
    • Turns out he's also running the operation due to al-Zuhari's death, and was his own Double Agent inside the western forces.
  • Dented Iron: Stonebridge spends several episodes in deteriorating physical condition, are a result of exposure to a chemical agent. Fortunately, it's eventually treated successfully.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Leatherby is a real piece of work. Psychotic, sadistic, tortures his Hezbollah boyfriend on a mere suspicion of infidelity and murders the guy he suspects him of cheating with, all within a few minutes after not-at-all-subtly hitting on Stonebridge right in front of him. Afterwards, Leatherby is irritated that a simple "sorry" doesn't make it up to him. Between the violent abuse from a guy who will clearly kill him if he tries to leave, and the blackmail from Dalton threatening to out him as a homosexual to his Islamic family, it's hard not to feel at least a little sorry for the boyfriend.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Richmond and Martinez pretty much become this to Stonebridge and Scott, supporting them in the field (and on several occasions, doing operator shit when the dynamic duo are unavailable). Also, the girls are left-handed, in contrast to the right-handed boys.
  • Double Agent: Locke was running McKenna's brother as a double agent inside the Real IRA. The Real IRA set a car bomb for Locke in retaliation for this.
    • Kamali was his own Double Agent inside the western forces: the CIA trusted him because he's their Deep Cover Agent, but in truth he's always been ready to backstab them.[[/spoiler
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Inverted. The terrorists for Al-Zuhari's terror attack infiltrate Rammstein Airbase dressed as USAF personnel.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Section 20 goes through a great deal of hardship and loss, but in the end Al-Zuhari's network is shattered and the plan is foiled, and a lot of bad guys are now out of the picture.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Al-Zuhari arranged for his wife Sofia Aboud to meet him. Except it turns out that Kamali actually arranged that as part of a plan to ensure Dalton would end up dead.
    • Kamali does genuinely love his daughter, and this whole jihad was kicked off when his wife was killed by an American pilot who fired on the ambulance carrying her.
    • Russian mob boss Arkady Ulyanov pursues Section 20 in order to avenge his son Viktor, who was collateral damage in the first attempt to snatch Kamali.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Zamani, al-Zuhari's enforcer and most loyal fanatic, protests the plan to spread smallpox virus over Berlin, because it will kill many innocent people, including Muslim women and children. note 
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Scott sends Ulyanov's men's car over the side of a ravine, and it explodes spectacularly a few moments after it crashes. Hilariously enough, they'd had to ditch the car because it was out of gas.
  • Evil Brit: James Leatherby, former SAS Major, now smuggler operating in Beirut. Well technically he's Scottish, but it's close enough.
    • Leo Kamali, who's a Briton of Arab descent.
  • Face–Heel Turn: James Leatherby was a former Major in the SAS and was operating in Lebanon, then went rogue and became a smuggler and criminal.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Stonebridge and Martinez have one at the beginning of episode five, to allay suspicion by their target.
  • Faking the Dead: Kamali, from his apparent Boom, Headshot! until he reveals himself in episode nine.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Defied. The Big Bad appears to be ready to give this in the finale, but choses to forgo it in favor of action.
    "I won't justify myself to you. You might understand. And then where would you be?"
  • Hope Spot: Dalton has been shot and cornered by Moraig McKenna. Locke, Stonebridge and Scott are minutes away. They don't make it in time.
  • Improvised Weapon: In one episode, Scott kills a man with a spoon. Well, the spoon was the first step anyhow: he stabs it into his opponent's eye, then beats him to death with a chair.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Locke worries that Dalton is very close to this, which is why he relieves her of command of Section 20.
  • Knight Templar: Dalton is well on her way to becoming this. The morphine addiction and budding alcoholism don't help either.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Leo Kumali, who deftly manages the Colombian cartels, the Russian Bratva, James Leatherby, and Al-Zuhari's interests. He also seems to be manipulating both the CIA and Section 20 for his own purposes. The final episode reveals that he was the true Big Bad and mastermind of events, and that he's been in charge of Al-Zuhari's network for the last six months. In fact, he actually actively manipulated Section 20, the CIA, Real IRA and Ulyanov to get everything he needed to launch his attack.
  • More Dakka: During Episode 1, the team managed to steal a boat packing two machineguns. Unfortunately, both guns soon ran out of ammo.
    • As a general rule, for the most part, the level of dakka is inversely proportional to the level of training.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Locke relieves Dalton of command of Section 20, worrying that she's Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. She decides she's got nothing left to lose and kidnaps Sofia Aboud, setting into motion a chain of events that lead to both their deaths, and al-Zuhari's orders being received by the Real IRA. In all fairness, Locke had very good reason for his actions.
  • No Man Left Behind: Despite being vastly outnumbered by Hezbollah, Locke heads out to extract Bravo Team, mentioning the trope by name.
  • No One Sees the Boss: Al-Zuhari, who seems to be running his shadow network of terrorists entirely through his agents— because he's been dead all along.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Leatherby tries to pull this on Stonebridge, who disagrees firmly.
  • Parenthetical Swearing: Locke can make "Sir" and "Ma'am" sound like swear words.
  • Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Death: Weather in Lebanon is cloudy for much of Episode 4, then the rain kicks in to complement Dalton's death.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: Stonebridge carrying Dalton's body.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: For Rebekah Levy and Major Dalton.
  • Properly Paranoid: It turns out that yes, Dalton was actually right, despite being such a paranoid bitch. Unfortunately, vindication is posthumous.
  • Red Shirt: The team backing DEA Agent Kim Martinez.
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: When Section 20 and the DEA go after Kumali they discover that Mossad already has an agent near the target. Even worse, after they manage to capture Kamali, they discover that Kumali is actually a CIA Deep Cover Agent.
  • Running Gag: A bit of Gallows Humor; every single time the boys try to bring someone in alive, he ends up getting killed, to Locke's exasperation. Episode 9 takes this to almost farcial levels:
    Locke: Where's Maroun Salleh?
    Stonebridge: Hassan killed him.
    Locke: Where's Hassan?
    Scott: Zamani killed him!
    Locke: Next time just bring me a body! Preferably warm.
    • Carrying on from Project Dawn and Vengeance, Stonebridge and Scott still keep arguing about whether to act on "three" or "go". Even using Morse code!
  • Sadistic Choice: Richmond and Martinez set out to rescue some hostages, but can't prevent one of them from being executed on a live camera feed. Richmond points out that if they act while the camera's on, they'll blow the covers of Scott and Stonebridge.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Leo Kumali, James Leatherby and Arkady Ulyanov are rarely seen without being dressed in nice suits.
  • Ship Tease: Between Martinez and Stonebridge.
  • Straight Gay: Leatherby. He's gay and is shown on-screen indulging himself, but he doesn't act stereotypically camp or feminine. Best way of explaining it is that Leatherby treats any man who's caught his fancy the same way a straight man would treat a woman...assuming that straight man is an unhinged psychopath, that is.
  • Television Geography: 20 get from Ramstein Air Base to central Berlin in half an hour... they're on opposite sides of Germany!
  • * Tricked into Escaping: When Dalton can't get any useful information out of Sophia, Kamali pretends to help her escape so that they can try to learn something by following her.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Continuing from Vengeance, Sgt. Julia Richmond is now one of the field operators, augmenting the team of Stonebridge and Scott.
  • Torture Always Works: Played with throughout the series. Generally, torture doesn't work on main characters:
    • Stonebridge and Scott don't break while being tortured by the Jaguar (even despite Scott getting electrocuted in the balls.
    • Locke is tortured by Al-Zuhari's men, but doesn't break, even when McKenna taunts him with the identity of the man who killed his son.
    • Scott and Stonebridge's torture of a Mook in Episode 10 gets enough intel to know when and where the Evil Plan will happen, but not the specifics of the attack, nor the attackers, because the mook doesn't know those details.
    • In a Zig-Zagged example, Dalton's waterboarding of Sofia doesn't render much result. Sofia breaks quickly enough, but she genuinely doesn't know anything about any message being carried, which is why Kamali convinces Dalton to let her escape, and then follow her to al-Zuhari.
  • Warrior Poet: While pursuing Section 20, Leatherby recites lines from Rudyard Kipling's poem Gentlemen-Rankers note , punctuating each line with a shot from a grenade launcher.
    "We have done with hope and honour, we are lost to love an' truth! God ha' mercy mercy on such as we!"
  • Western Terrorists: A member of the Real IRA shows up in Episode 4, and they're seen in Episodes 5 and 6 as allies of convenience to Al-Zuhari.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The last survivor of the Real IRA in Budapest is killed after he delivers the NATO hard drive to Al-Zuhari's men.
    • Kamali believes that Al-Zuhari was trying to enact this on him with a car bomb that killed the CIA's Deputy Director. Turns out the bomb was set by Kamali, and meant for Locke and Van Bruggen.

    Strike Back: Legacy 

  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The International Nuclear Research Organisation transports its nuclear material in a large armoured van, which is later hijacked by Li-Na and Kwon's men with the help of a sleeper agent.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Scott and Stonebridge manage to drive from the outskirts of Pyongyang to the very northern Russia - North Korea border in a matter of hours, despite the fact the two are over 720km apart and would be riddled with road blocks and checkpoints.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Kwon kills himself quickly with a knife to the jugular so he can't be slowly tortured to death by Stonebridge to break Li-Na into disarming the nuke.
  • Bad Boss: Charles Ridley, Locke's superior in Whitehall. He personally kills Locke in episode 9.
  • Blackmail:
    • McQueen threatens to kill Ambassador Robin Foster's daughter unless Foster bombs his own embassy.
    • Li-Na and Kwon force the manager of Solar Privatbank to open the vault by kidnapping and threatening his pregnant wife.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: After acting the loving wife in the first two episodes, Mei Foster reveals she's been a North Korean spy the whole time as she kills her husband in his hospital bed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Locke is dead and Section 20 is labelled a rogue agency by the British government. Scott and Stonebridge survive their last stand, with Scott faking his death and deciding to spend as much time with his son as possible. Stonebridge makes himself a target (with an explicit vendetta against Charles Ridley) so that the heat will stay off Scott. The two friends, though, are able to enjoy one last bike trip together.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Lampshaded and discussed in the finale when on multiple occassions Scott and Stonebridge consider simply charging the bad guys with guns blazing. We even see an Imagine Spot of them doing it and dying riddled with bullets. Ultimately subverted as they instead let the bad guys come to them and both men survive the ensuing firefights.
  • Book Ends: Similar to the first series, Legacy ends with Scott and Stonebridge as fugitives from their own government. However, unlike the first series, it ends on a happier note.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: In the finale, Stonebridge is given an antique Luger P08 and Model 24 Stielhandgranate by Oskar, a farmer they befriend in the Swiss countryside. He also lets them take his restored WW2 era motorbike and sidecar.
  • But Now I Must Go: Midway through the series, Kim Martinez is recalled by the DEA and leaves Section 20.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The photos taken of Scott and Stonebridge by the Austrian police. They later trigger facial recognition at the UN Geneva Headquarters and result in the two getting detained.
  • Continuity Cameo:
    • The man who called Locke and told him "for your sins, Philip" before detonating the car bomb that killed his son (seen in a flashback in Shadow Warfare) is revealed to be Oppenheimer.
    • The Swiss special forces commander in episode nine recognises Section 20 as the people who "took out Leo Kamali", the antagonist from the previous season.
  • Cool Old Guy: Oskar, the farmer that Scott and Stonebridge meet in the Swiss countryside.
  • The Cavalry: Several examples from different countries are seen throughout the season.
    • The Royal Thai Police's Arintharat 26 unit in Thailand. They also double as Elite Mooks, as they are corrupt and work against Section 20.
    • Several different branches of the Korean People's Army in North Korea.
    • The Swiss Army Reconnaissance Detachment 10 special ops group in Switzerland.
  • Deep Cover Agent:
    • Mei Foster is revealed to be a North Korean sleeper agent in episode two.
    • Nadia Dansky, an FSB agent and friend of Pirogova, is deeply embedded within the Russian mafia in Vienna. She breaks her cover to inform Pirogova and S20 that Li-Na and Kwon are hiring Russian muscle to help fulfil their plans to detonate a nuke at the UN in Vienna.
    • North Korea is revealed to have several in Europe, including a high ranking nuclear engineer with INRO, a security guard at the UN Geneva Headquarters and a UN tour guide.
  • Dirty Cop: Some of the corrupt Royal Thai Police officers Section 20 encounter are on the take and are seen as minor antagonists.
  • The Dragon: Ray McQueen's cousin, Aaron. He is a massive former MMA fighter who once "killed a man in the octagon", and even gives Scott and Stonebridge a run for their money in physical combat.
  • Elite Mook: A rogue section of Arintharat 26 (The RTP's main anti-crime/terrorist unit acting in a SWAT role) is brought in by Changrok to hunt down S20. They gave them a good fight that Ray McQueen stays behind to hold them off.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • McQueen doesn't like the idea that his wife is held hostage by corrupt RTP officers acting on orders from Office 39 that he decides to help S20 after they secure his Thai wife.
    • Carole, a North Korean sleeper agent in Geneva, ended up having a child whilst undercover. When she discovers Li-Na and Kwon plan to detonate a nuke at the UN Headquarters and destroy the city, she decides the life of her baby is more important than her dedication to her country and begins to help Section 20 instead.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In the season finale, Faber can't comprehend that after all their years in the military, Scott and Stonebridge never "skimmed a little off the top" and don't have the £4 million to pay Stillwater to back down. Stonebridge simply states that, unlike Faber, he and Scott are "soldiers, not fucking thieves" and promptly shoots him in the head.
  • Far East Asian Terrorists: Office 39, a North Korean criminal gang (that is backed by Pyongyang) operates in Bangkok using bomb attacks to target British nationals.
    • Li-Na and Kwon later go rogue from the State Security Department and become lone wolf North Korean terrorists after Scott and Stonebridge escape from North Korea.
  • False Flag Operation: The reason why Office 39 is doing the attacks. They want to get Pyongyang to fight the West in a future Korean War.
    • Mei arranges for S20 to be blamed for assassinating Shiro's father, who was the Kumicho.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Agreeing to meet and have dinner with Damien's son signals the impending demise of Julia Richmond.
  • Fictional Counterpart:
    • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is replaced by the fictitious International Nuclear Research Orgaisation (INRO), where a North Korean sleeper agent is working in a high ranking position.
    • Stillwater, the PMC that Faber and Mason work for is an obvious Expy of Blackwater.
  • Fighting Irish: Averted to an extent with Oppenheimer. Although he is a renowned bomb-maker whose creations have killed hundreds, he never engages in gunfights or hand-to-hand combat.
  • Hidden Disdain Reveal: Mei Foster reveals how she never cared for her husband as she reveals she's a North Korean spy as she kills him.
  • Hired Guns:
    • Mason and Faber, Stillwater mercenaries, are hired by the CIA to take down Shiro.
    • Li-Na and Kwon hire a large number of henchmen from the Russian mafia to do their dirty work once they flee to Europe after abandoning the North Korean regime.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Several North Korean and Russian operatives working for Li-Na infiltrate the UN Geneva Headquarters by disguising themselves as security personnel.
  • In Love with the Mark: Subverted. When Mei Foster reveals to her husband she's a North Korean spy and kills him in his hospital bed, she admits a bit of surprise to realize she never had any actual feelings for him after all.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When Locke prepares to kill Oppenheimer to avenge his dead son, Oppenheimer retorts that Locke is just as bad as he is, as the countless henchmen Locke killed to reach him were also people's sons.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk
    • The Stillwater mercenaries start out a bit antagonistic but that is mainly because Section 20 blew their cover and they end up helping the main characters. However, in the final episodes it is revealed that they are really just a bunch of Psycho for Hire and they try to kill Scott and Stonebridge because they were paid to do so.
    • Christy Bryant returns and seems to be trying to help Scott and Stonebridge but she actually sold them out to Stillwater and is simply stalling for time.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Ridley gets away with disbanding Section 20 and killing Locke. However, he must forever live with the fear that Stonebridge will return to kill him in revenge.
  • Multinational Team:
    • Section 20 is comprised mainly of Brits, but also has Scott and Martinez (American) and occasionally Maj. Nina Pirogova (Russian).
    • Li-Na and Kwon's group is made up of North Korean sleeper agents, hired Russian muscle and an Irish bombmaker.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Even when Stonebridge is out of uniform, Oppenheimer immediately clocks him as British military due to his boots and stature.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • Austrian cops in Vienna completely miss Li-Na and Kwon as they escape from the bank, and attempt to arrest Scott and Stonebridge instead (thinking they are bank robbers).
    • UN security officers detain Scott and Stonebridge in episode nine, and do not listen when they say they are military officers trying to prevent a nuclear attack at the headquarters.
  • Plausible Deniability: After Scott and Stonebridge are captured in North Korea and forced to make televised statements, Whitehall begins to fabricate information implying the two went rogue, so the British government can't be blamed by the North Koreans.
    • Charles Ridley claims that Whitehall has hired Stillwater to help them, as anything done by PM Cs can be denied by the government. It later turns out Stillwater has been hired to kill Section 20 so the British government can deny any link at all to the incursion and avoid an international incident with North Korea.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Stonebridge delivers one to Faber before killing him, after the latter remarks about Scott and he being "the good guys".
    Stonebridge: Hey Faber. We were never really that good.
  • Private Military Contractors: Stillwater, who Mason and Faber work for. They are employed by the CIA to take out Shiro and are later employed by the British government to kill Li-Na and seemingly make Section 20 disappear.
  • Properly Paranoid: The MI-6 informant Scott and Stonebridge meet in Pyongyang. It's Truth in Television since North Korea is one of the few remaining countries that has heavy surveillance on its nationals.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • The Kumicho of a Yakuza group in Bangkok refuses to honor the agreement with Mei due to his incompetent son.
    • Commander Leitner of the Swiss ARD 10 unit that responds to the siege of the UN Geneva Headquarters.
  • Retired Badass: Oskar Steiner, the farmer who helps Scott and Stonebridge when they are on the run in the Swiss countryside. He is a former soldier in the Austrian Army, and gives the boys an old pistol and grenade to take on their travels.
  • Revisiting the Roots: The show was originally about one man going out to do impossible missions with very little chance of survival. Subsequent series changed the concept to focusing on two soldiers with an effective support network backing them up. Legacy takes this network away from Scott and Stonebridge bit by bit until it's just the two of them fighting to survive, like John Porter did back in Series 1.
  • Shown Their Work: The second episode clearly explains North Korea's presence in the criminal underworld to get money for their economy.
    • The fourth episode clearly explains typical propaganda the North Koreans hear, such as the West being responsible for the division of Korea and the wargames being held to "remind" North Korea of their place.
    • The fifth episode has Stonebridge explain the concept of Songun and why the KPA gets priority by Pyongyang.
  • Suicide Pact: Between Li-Na and Kwon, who agree that if they can't escape the UN Geneva Headquarters before the nuke goes off, they will die together.
  • The Dreaded:
    • The North Korean State Security Department. They are ruthless in both domestic and foreign intelligence operations, having been created to act as similar to the Soviet KGB.
    • Oppenheimer, an Irish bombmaker who killed countless numbers on both sides during the Troubles, one of whom was Locke's son.
  • Wham Episode: This being the final series, each episode features a major bombshell that ups the stakes.
    • In the 1st episode, the KPA officer gets taken out by the British ambassador in a bomb attack in what's suppose to be high-level peace talks.
    • Mei Foster kills the ambassador in the 2nd episode, revealing herself to be a North Korean agent.
    • The 3rd episode reveals that the ambassador's secretary is a Office 39 mole and was suppose to assassinate him.
    • The 4th episode has Richmond, the only other character to survive alongside Stonebridge and Scott, be killed off.
    • The 8th episode has Oppenheimer reveal that he's a double agent working on behalf of MI:5.
    • The 9th episode has both Li-Na killed by mercenaries working for Whitehall, and Locke is killed by his own superior, Charles Ridley.
  • Villain with Good Publicity:
    • Changrok, a prominent Royal Thai Police officer.
    • Mei Foster, the current wife of the British ambassador to Thailand, who happens to be a deep cover North Korean agent.
    • Heo Gil-Rae, a respected engineer with the International Nuclear Research Organisation.
    • Charles Ridley, Section 20's superior in Whitehall.
  • Yakuza: Shiro's faction is acting together with Office 39 to sell drugs to Japan.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness
    • Once Li-Na's mission fails (primarily due to the incompetence of her superiors) she becomes and easy scapegoat and is ordered executed.
    • The British government decides that Section 20 have become a liability and sends in mercenaries to kill them.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: When Locke announces he is going into the besieged UN Headquarters to help his men, the Swiss army commander says he can't and reaches for his sidearm. Locke calls his bluff and continues walking away, and Leitner and his second in command do not have the heart to stop him.
    Locke: You'll have to shoot me in the back. But don't worry, you'll just be following orders.

    Strike Back: Retribution 

    Strike Back: Revolution 
  • Ambiguously Bi: Zarkova is involved with Pavel and has considerable Belligerent Sexual Tension with Coltrane, but she has it with Novin also and isn't the least fazed when yet another woman comes on to her.
    • Novin herself, despite having had flings with women, flirts with the guys easily and appears jealous of both Coltrane and Zarkova regarding their fling.
  • And This Is for...: Samira Shah tries to invoke this on Anjali Vartek to avenge her father. It's quickly followed with her bodyguards instantly jumping in front of Vartek and shooting Shah.
  • Attack of the Town Festival: The team runs into a street festival while trying to extract two hostages. This briefly provides them with Safety in Muggles, but one of the hostages is killed.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Zarkova and Coltrane. She's a Double Agent trying to undermine the team, he's the team leader who put a gun to her head and inflicted Water Torture on her and they distrust each other. Yet they're incredibly attracted to each other and have had a handful of offscreen trysts.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Zarkova prepares to kill herself when she's trapped in the nuclear facility, not wanting to die in the impending explosion or of the injury she's already suffered.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The team is "pretty sure that we're screwed" at the end of the season premiere, trapped in the roof of a high rise and out of ammunition. Then the sound of helicopter fades in—it's Coltrane coming to the rescue—and promptly earning their respect.
    McAllister: "Now that's how you make an entrance, boss!"
  • Bookends: Episode 1 begins with the team being brought in by helicopter to meet Colonel Alexander Coltrane, their new commander. It ends with Coltrane arriving via helicopter to rescue them.
  • The Can Kicked Him: Novin and Davis' killer have a brutal Bathroom Brawl, culminating in her killing him.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Throughout Coltrane's interrogation, the camera keeps focusing on the pole that he's been handcuffed to. It's no wonder when he pulls it loose and uses it to wallop his captor.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: In Episode 8, we learn that Coltrane once lead a team into an ambush in which nearly all of them were killed. The guilt turned him into an alcoholic and a Shell-Shocked Veteran, and explains why he was initially reluctant to take on leadership of S20.
  • Destination Defenestration: How Lance Corporal Davis is disposed of in the opening of the season premiere. Even worse, the impact doesn't kill her and she struggles to get to her feet and escape, but her killer comes down the stairs and shoots her, finishing her off.
  • Dirty Bomb: There's a nuclear missile missing from a Russian Tu-160 thanks to a rogue airman, which is sent from Malaysia to India, where the payload is disassembled to portable nukes for a dirty bomb attack against India's Muslim populace and it laters gets sent to Alssayaf Alddima in Indonesia. Pavel later takes it and plans to use it in order to start World War III.
  • Double Agent: Zarkova. Luckily, as none of the team trust her in the first place, Coltrane instantly realizes that she's stolen files and puts a gun to her head to get them back.
    • Then it turns out "Pavel" is even worse.
  • Everybody Lives: All of the good guys are alive at the end of the season finale, even Zarkova, who when last seen was badly injured and presumably unable to escape the explosion (it's never explained how she managed to get out or how the team was able to rescue her), and even Coltrane, even though (a) the leader of S20 is usually killed at the end of the season, (b) he's being played by Jamie Bamber, notorious for being a Chronically Killed Actor, and (c) He wanted to retire, something well known to guarantee death).
  • Fake American: In-Universe. The team has to pretend to be this for a Black-Tie Infiltration scenario. Coltrane asks if pulling off the accent will be a problem, likely lampshading the numerous times that Jamie Bamber (his actor) has done this.
  • The Gambling Addict: High Commissioner McKitterick, who is in such deep debt to Chinese gangsters that he's been forced to betray his country, lest they kill him or his family. He puts a gun in his mouth when he realizes he has no way out.
  • Gangsta Style: Several of the mooks do this. Coltrane even wields his gun like this at one point, despite being a trained and experienced military man who would know full well what a bad idea this is.
  • Girls Behind Bars: Novin and Zarkova in Episode 6. Complete with leering and taunting fellow inmates and a warden offering to arrange an "accident" for them on behalf of the drug lord they've been battling, leading to a Designated Girl Fight that isn't titillating in the least.
  • Gunship Rescue: Section 20 are trapped at the top of a Malaysian skyscraper, with Triads blocking their only way down, and none of the team packed BASE jump parachutes. Then Coltrane shows up in a helo to provide cover and extract them.
    • He does it again in Episode 9, appearing on a balcony to join in the shootout, allowing the team to evacuate—and unfortunately getting himself captured.
  • How We Got Here; Episode 8 starts out with Coltrane being interrogated over his actions. The next scene is "48 hours earlier". It's also paired with Framing Device as the action goes back and forth between the past and present. Oddly enough, we never get an answer to this trope—Coltrane describes having been drugged and abducted, but this is never depicted.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Coltrane to a prisoner the team is extracting:
    Prisoner: "How do I know you're not here to kill me?"
    Coltrane: "Because you're still alive."
  • It Doesn't Mean Anything: "Pavel" asks Coltrane "Did you fuck her?", referring to Zarkova, tauntingly telling him that if so, she only did it as part of the op.
  • It Has Been an Honor: At the end of Episode 10, after the team has successfully completed the mission and everyone has survived:
    Coltrane: "Could have been worse. Let's go."
  • Just Toying with Them: Coltrane gets knocked down by an opponent and actually gets the guy to back off on attacking him by raising his hand in a "Wait a second" gesture, then getting up and raising his fists into a boxer's stance declaring, "Queensberry rules, eh?", (basically, "let's fight fair"). He then looks off to the side to distract the guy and wallops him.
  • Kill It with Fire: Realizing that they can't get the disarm codes for the missile after Zarkova kills "Pavel", the team decides to blow up the entire facility to destroy the missile completely.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: Said verbatim by Alexander when he realizes "The Russians want our help?"
  • Moment Killer:: Coltrane and Zarkova have at least two instances where they appear ready to cash in on their sexual tension—one in which they're actively removing their clothes—only to be interrupted by Chetri alerting them to pertinent information.
    Coltrane: "I swear, she does that on purpose."
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Coltrane, after the team is captured on what they didn't know was an unauthorized mission, realizing that even if they aren't killed, they could go to prison.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Chetri, who in her first episode makes a mistake that inadvertently results in a hostage getting killed and is later visibly shaken up when there's an attack on the safehouse. It's not even until Episode 6 that she fires a gun—for the first time ever.
  • Oh, Crap!: In one episode, as they're evacuating a prisoner, he asks for the cigarettes he was promised "when you called me". Cue this reaction from the team as they realize that they're about to be ambushed, since they didn't call him.
    • Everyone in the last minutes of Episode 10 when the emergency doors to the nuclear facility slam shut, trapping Novin, Coltrane, and Zarkova inside. Chetri manages to override the system and get the doors open Just in Time.
  • The Oner: Wyatt, Novin, and McAllister's efforts to escape from a Filipino slum are depicted in one long shot, only unbroken when a huge gun battle erupts.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Novin and Coltrane at the end of Episode 10. The force of the explosion is still enough to lift them in the air and throw them several feet.
    Novin: "Are we dead?"
    Coltrane: "Death wouldn't be this painful."
    • Zarkova inexplicably survives even though she was so badly injured she couldn't even walk.
  • Sex for Solace: Between Wyatt and Samira Shah (the hostage the team rescues), seeking to comfort her over her father's death.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Novin defies orders to track down Davis' killer, despite Coltrane warning her of the ramifications of this.
    • Coltrane himself does this a few episodes later.
  • South Asian Terrorists: One of the bad guys Section 20 pursues to stop a Dirty Bomb from being used is Shuddh Raashtr, an ultranationalist Hindu group that seeks to rid India of all Muslims by using all means, including acts of terrorism.
  • Spotting the Thread: Interrogated by what appears to be a British operative, Alexander figures something is up as the man's "word structure" is off (first when he says "you have an arrogance", then again when he says he "sounds like someone who has a crush") as if English was his second language.
  • Time Skip: Episode 9 starts "4 Months Later" after the events of Episode 8.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Wyatt wears the very expensive watch his estranged wife gave him because It Was a Gift that indicated that she wanted to try to work things out.
  • Vignette Episode: Episode 6 is divided into three distinct thirds—"Mac & Wyatt", "Novin & Zarkova", and "Coltrane & Chetri", only overlapping at the end.
  • The Villain Knows Where You Live: "Pavel" recites Wyatt's South Carolina address when he's arrested, threatening to go after his wife. Indeed, a hitman tries to take her out, but he manages to talk her through finding/loading/firing a gun and defending herself.
  • Water Torture: McAllister invokes this on Zarkova at Coltrane's order when they're interrogating her about stealing files.
  • We Need a Distraction: Novin starts a Bar Brawl—with every one ganging up on Coltrane—so as to abduct a security officer with no one noticing.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Who is Pavel?" Said by Kuragin, just before he murders Colonel Beshnov.
    • "When this call ends, you will salute me, and address me as 'Sir.'" Kuragin to Zarkova. She does.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The first episode reveals that someone with the Tupolev Tu-160 went rogue and was responsible for the bomber being downed in the South China Sea.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Coltrane, just before getting into a Bar Brawl provoked by Novin—"Oh, for God's sake.", then verbatim after the guy whose ass he just kicked gets up, ready to fight some more.

    Strike Back: Vendetta 
  • And This Is for...: Coltrane's execution of Arianna to avenge Mac and Chetri.
  • Anyone Can Die: In stark contrast to the previous season, where none of the main characters died (besides the antagonists). Novin, Coltrane, and Wyatt are the only major characters who survive to the end, while Zarkova's fate remains unknown. Nearly everyone else is killed off.
  • Big "NO!": Novin as Demachi shoots Chetri. It's unheard, but obvious from reading her lips.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Episode 4. Zarkova survives, but has to start a new life elsewhere, can never return to her native country, and she and Coltrane can probably never see each other again.
    • This actually foreshadows the finale, where what's left of the team has avenged those who were killed and their identities have been restored. But the money they thought they were stealing turns out to be counterfeit and they're going their separate ways into an unknown future—among other things, they will probably always be looking over their shoulders.
  • Black-Tie Infiltration: Technically not "black tie", but the team does gain access to a wealthy crime lord's mansion by attending a fancy party.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Coltrane disposes of Arianna. Along with Hollywood Silencer, Headphones Equal Isolation (her poolboy was completely unaware of him arriving or leaving because he was wearing these), Stealth Hi/Bye (she herself was unaware of his presence until turning around and seeing him in her kitchen) and Killed Mid-Sentence (she yells "Wait!—" as he pulls the trigger).
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Episode 8 has a conversation between Colonel Coltrane and Arianna where both claim one event in the other's life was this for them—the team killing her husband, and her hitman killing Mac.
  • Buy Them Off: Arianna offers Coltrane money when he shows up, warning him that "disappearing is expensive". He isn't swayed in the least.
  • Call-Back: In Episode 4, Zarkova once again inexplicably survives an explosion.
  • Chekhov's Gift: The expensive watch Wyatt's wife gave him in the hopes of reconciling ends up saving Novin's life when he gives it to a shop owner to pay for her medical treatment. Him giving it up also symbolizes him finally giving up on them reconciling.
  • Closest Thing We Got: The team bursts into a restaurant and demand that the owner get them a doctor for Novin. He tells them he has a brother who's a veterinarian and they shrug, figuring that's good enough.
  • Cock Fight: Wyatt and Coltrane in Episode 9, though it's not over a girl, just two fed up hotheads coming to blows.
  • Creator Cameo: Chris Ryan show up as an officer in episode 6.
  • Cyanide Pill: A technical version when Chetri is kidnapped. The file containing vital information self-destructs as soon as Arianna tries to download it.
  • A Death in the Limelight: Episode 6 is this for McAllister.
  • Deep Cover Agent: Essentially played twice with Arianna Demachi, who is initially presented as a mafia wife to an Albanian crime lord. However, not only is she not the typical oblivious wife—she is fully aware of and involved in her husband's nefarious activities—it turns out that she's actually a Russian agent whose goal is to undermine him.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Coltrane walks into Arianna's house with a cheerful, matter-of-fact demeanor as if he's someone visiting a friend rather someone planning to kill her.
  • Double Agent: Arianna Demachi is a Russian agent married to an Albanian crime lord and trying to screw both organizations over.
  • Due to the Dead: At Mac's prompting, the team toasts the late Constable Spiegel at the conclusion of Episode 4.
  • Environmental Symbolism: The final scenes of the finale are in beautiful, sunny Mexico, representing the team heading off into a better life.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Subverted. Arianna seems resigned to her fate when Coltrane appears, stating that she always knew that he'd come eventually and doesn't beg him for her life, but she still tries to talk him out of killing her by offering him money and yells "Wait!—" just as he pulls the trigger.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Coltrane and Zarkova do this so effectively that the security guard who almost caught them snooping is actually embarrassed at having supposedly interrupted them.
    Coltrane: (to the guard, irritably) "Do you mind?"
  • Fake Russian: Inverted in-universe as Arianna Demachi is a Russian agent married to an Albanian mafiya chief, but played straight as Ivana Miličević, her actress, is Serbian.
  • Faking the Dead: Coltrane reports Zarkova as killed on a mission in Episode 4 so that she can defect and start a new life elsewhere.
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker: Coltrane pulls this on a guard, affably greeting him and pretending to ask for directions before knocking him out.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Done twice in Episode 6. It starts off with Mac having left the army and gone back home to live with his wife and daughter after almost dying from his gunshot wound. It's later revealed that this was nothing but a Dying Dream, and Mac is still bleeding out in the hallway. Nevertheless, Section 20 finds Mac still alive and start giving him medical attention. He dies from blood loss anyway.
    • In Episode 9, Novin, Wyatt, and Coltrane find Chetri locked in a fortified room with bulletproof glass. Despite putting charges on the door, they fail to penetrate it, and can only watch as Arianna shoots Chetri in the head.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: When Whitehall mentions an incident involving Mac and a terrorist at a field, Coltrane knows something is wrong as that detail was never in the official reports.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: The team appears to be drinking a toast to the deceased Zarkova, with Wyatt referring her as a "dirty Russian bastard", only for Zarkova herself to snap at him.
  • Irony: In his first scene from the previous season, Coltrane makes it clear that he's not pleased to be called in to be the new team leader, wanting to retire. In the final scenes, he's the only one to suggest that they keep going.
  • It Has Been an Honor: The words are never spoken, but the gist is there, and it's far more sentimental than its corresponding moment in the previous season.
  • It's Personal: A running theme throughout the season, particularly with the team wanting to avenge McAllister and then Chetri. Coltrane even outright says it to his supervisor.
  • Kill the Cutie: Despite her Character Development from Naïve Newcomer to just as competent as the rest of the team, Chetri is still Everyone's Baby Sister, making it extra wrenching when she's captured and eventually killed by Arianna.
  • Last Stand: In the finale, as Wyatt, Novin, and Coltrane find themselves surrounded and outnumbered by the bad guys, Coltrane outright says "One last go", determined to go out fighting. It's then subverted in that they manage to escape.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: With realistic consequences. In Episode 4, Constable Spiegel charges out into the middle of a gunfight just to prove that he's not a pathetic cop his coworkers see him as. He's shot in the head mere seconds after doing this.
  • The Mafiya: Albanian rather than Russian, but the gist is the same. Then it turns out that Arianna is a Russian agent, playing this straight after all.
  • Mirthless Laughter: The remaining members of S20 do this upon realizing that the $15 million that they risked their lives to steal is fake, meaning that they've (a) failed to avenge the two who were killed note , and (b) They have no means to disappear and start a new life.
  • Man Hug: Coltrane and Wyatt share an intense one of these, complete with a heartfelt "Thank you" from Coltrane after Wyatt breaks him out of the Siberian work camp he's been imprisoned in.
  • Mauve Shirt: Constable Yoni Spiegel. He's introduced in Episode 3 as a friendly, but naive By-the-Book Cop who assists Section 20. He gets a good amount of lines and forms a short bond with Mac, but is later shot and killed in Episode 4 during an attack on the Israel Police station.
  • Multitasked Conversation: When the team is taken hostage, Zarkova manages to hide her earpiece and communicate to Coltrane where they are, enabling him to take out their captors before they can execute them, all the while acting as if she's mouthing off to the bad guys.
  • Murder by Inaction: Coltrane does this to a henchman in Episode 1, allowing him to bleed out and refusing to get him help, having (a) gotten the information that he wants from him, and (b) recognized him as a war criminal he clashed with years ago.
  • Neck Snap: Frequently employed by Coltrane.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Chetri reporting the group for going rogue nearly gets them all killed by the squad sent to capture them. She then flees with vital information, and promptly gets herself captured and eventually killed by Arianna.
    • Coltrane knocks out a prison guard who turns out to have been someone Wyatt bribed to get him out, leaving him to figure out on his own how to escape.
  • Now What?: The remaining members of S20 have been at this so long that they aren't sure what to do now, even as they all agree that they want to attempt to live a normal life. Coltrane even suggests continuing on a private basis but the other two make it clear that they're done either way.
  • Offing the Offspring: Arianna cements her evil status when she murders her son Loric when he insists on taking over their family's criminal organization. It's especially bad as she was nearly always portrayed as a loving mother to him—even as she fatally stabs him, she holds him in her arms and tells him, "Sorry, my beautiful boy."
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The final shot of the series finale is of the three remaining members of S20 walking off in different directions to embark on their new lives.
  • Oh, Crap!: The team in Episode 8 when Chetri reveals that she's reported them to their superiors and that they're about to be ambushed and both groups when they realize that they're all about to be ambushed.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: In Episode 1, Coltrane coldly sits by as a henchman bleeds to death, refusing to help him, having recognized him as a war criminal who slaughtered a village full of innocent people.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Coltrane to Arianna regarding her wondering when S20 would track her down:
    "And now you know." (Boom, Headshot!)
  • Promotion, Not Punishment: After Coltrane and Mac clash over the latter's defying of orders, Coltrane tells him that he's recommending him for advancement, since "you obviously have your own ideas about how this team should be run." However, he makes it clear that this is not a Chew-Out Fake-Out—he warns him that he's finished if he ever disobeys him again.
  • The Queenpin: Arianna Demachi promotes herself to this once her husband is killed, even killing her own son when tries to take over.
  • Shout-Out: Episode 4 has Novin beating the crap out of several burly goons in a stairwell by herself, similar to what happened in Atomic Blonde. The scene's even choreographed to look like it was shot in one take.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When confronted by Coltrane, Arianna goes on and on about how she always wondered when he would come for her. He cuts her off by sharply declaring "And now you know." and shooting her in the head as she tries to protest.
    • He does the same to Mac's killer when he won't stop taunting him about what he did.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Cheerful mariachi music plays as Coltrane shoots Arianna.
  • Teetering on the Edge: Wyatt nearly takes himself, Novin, and Coltrane over a cliff during a high speed chase. After their efforts to both reverse the truck and carefully shift to the back fail, they manage to jump out just as it goes over completely and explodes on impact.
  • Time Skip: The final scene of Episode 9 tells us that it's been four months since the last sequence and the final scenes of the series finale tell us that it's "some time later" in the same way.
  • Tranquil Fury: Coltrane casually walks into Arianna's house and smiles like he's greeting an old friend, looking downright bored at the monologue she launches into. None of this hides the fact that he's there to avenge the two team members that she killed, given that he's pulling out a gun even as he calmly declares, "I'm not." (here for the money). His affable tone doesn't change even as he pulls the trigger.
    • He is shaking from his efforts to control his rage when Mac's killer taunts him about his actions.
  • Tropical Epilogue: The final scenes of the finale are in beautiful and sunny Mexico, with the remaining team members enjoying drinks in a cantina before going their separate ways.
  • Villain Respect: Arianna, when confronted by Coltrane.
    Arianna: "Russia's looking for me, the Albanians. None of them have managed, but I knew you'd come."
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 5. Zayef and Mahir plan to attack the United Nations Security Conference in Munich, only for Zayef to betray his brother and strap him to a bomb vest. Section 20 finds Mahir, but fail to stop the bomb from exploding and killing dozens of innocents. Mac goes off to confront Zayef alone in an apartment complex, and after gunning down several of his men, he finds out Zayef is working with Arianna Demachi. Not a moment later, Zayef shoots Mac in the neck, and he slowly bleeds out in an empty corridor as Zayef and Arianna escape.
    • Episode 6 starts off as a Breather Episode showing how Mac has adjusted after the events of Episode 5. The last ten minutes reveal that the whole episode is nothing but a Dying Dream. Section 20 arrives too late to save Mac, and he succumbs to his gunshot wound.
    • Episode 9. Section 20 and the CIA track down Chetri, only for Russian agents to kidnap her and kill the CIA agents working with Section 20. Arianna tries to have Chetri give up Zayef's incriminating evidence, only for her to destroy it all. Novin, Coltrane, and Wyatt try to save Chetri from the facility she was transported to, but fail, and she's executed by Arianna. Four months later, we see that Coltrane has been arrested and is inside of a Siberian work camp.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Much of episode 6 flashes back to McAllister's time in Afghanistan.
  • Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: Mac's killer taunts the team about this, telling them that he deliberately chose not to kill him quickly so that he could enjoy watching him slowly bleed to death. This enrages Coltrane so much that he shoots him in the head, not two minutes after talking Novin out of killing him.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Chris Ryans Strike Back


Strike Back OP

The song "Short Change" basically sums up what people would expect of anyone involved in anti-terrorist operations.

There is hardship in said work. And for when an operation is underway, there is literally no place for a hero if and when things don't go the way it's suppose to be.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ThematicThemeTune

Media sources: