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Take what's yours.

"Look, here's the thing about being rich — It's fucking great."
Tom Wambsgans
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A 2018 satirical drama from HBO and writer Jesse Armstrong of Peep Show fame. It focuses on media baron Logan Roy (Brian Cox), his four dysfunctional children — Connor (Alan Ruck), Roman (Kieran Culkin), Kendall (Jeremy Strong), and Siobhan, a.k.a. "Shiv" (Sarah Snook) — and their struggle to decide how to divide Logan's conglomerate, Waystar-Royco. But the Roy family's massive wealth has made them all self-absorbed and divorced from reality, which inevitably complicates their relationships with each other and the world around them.


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This show provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Logan's presence was scarce when his children were growing up, and he was not the most pleasant or supportive figure when he was around. It was this and them being spoiled by too much money that made the Roy children such narcissistic JerkAsses as adults. In the second season, he graduates to physical abuse when he backhands Roman in a fit of rage, though the family's stunned reaction (and Logan's awkward apology the next day) imply that this is unusual.
    • When we meet the younger siblings' mother in the final episodes of the first season, it becomes clear that they received no reprieve on that front either. Caroline Collingwood displays a deeply passive-aggressive and acerbic tone toward those around her, and reactions from her children show that this is something they've come to expect to turn toward them as well. In the first season, she slips in a few cutting digs at her daughter during her wedding reception toast. In the second season, she tactfully postpones a heart-to-heart conversation with Kendall and then slips out early the next day to avoid him.
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    • Logan himself was raised in part by what he claims to his children was an even more abusive and controlling uncle than they might think of him. Indeed, when we see shots of Logan half-dressed there are many scars across his back similar to those given by belt or cane beatings. The only time he actually seems ashamed of his abusive behavior toward his own children is after he backhands Roman. This provokes an unprecedented but still halfhearted apology the next day.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: It sounds pretty implausible if you've never heard of it, but ortolan really is eaten whole with a napkin over your head to shield yourself from God's judgment on your decadence (among other possible reasons).
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Greg seems to have some sort of developmental impairment that resembles autism. He's socially awkward and seems to lack the ability to pick up social cues. He's gullible and easily pushed around, but also not exactly stupid.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Tom sports a black eye and awkwardly claims that he got it during a night of passionate lovemaking with Shiv. This sounds unlikely given that Shiv and Tom aren't shown to have a particularly passionate relationship. The actual circumstances of how he got it, whether clumsiness, accident or abuse, are never revealed.
  • Amicable Exes: Kendall and Rava try to keep these cordial, and Rava does her best to be supportive after Logan's stroke. Things end up deteriorating, however, and in the end he dismisses her for trying to screw him over in their divorce.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In "This Is Not For Tears," Logan dismisses the idea that Kendall would have made a good CEO on the basis that he's not a "killer." Then Kendall eviscerates him on live television. And Logan's smirk at his words seems to suggest that he actually respects Kendall for it.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Greg, of all people, becomes one of the most pivotal players in the second season finale. After worrying about the damning files all season, and saving a few from Tom's destruction in a very un-Roy moment of wanting to do the right thing, he ends up siding with Kendall and releasing the records. (Being able to inherit hundreds of millions from his grandfather again doesn't hurt, either)
  • Big Fancy House: All of the Roys have very expensive homes, though they live in New York City, so they're not very big. Connor's hacienda in the desert counts, however, and the biggest example is Caroline Collingwood's slave-built castle where the wedding takes place. The first episode of the second season, titled "Summer Palace", is named after the Roys' massive Hamptons summer home featured in it.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Everyone who at first seems to be a decent person ultimately reveals an ugly side.
    • Roman is sarcastic and snarky, but at first seems to be the most down-to-earth Roy sibling in the first episode, until he offers $1 million to a lower-class Little League player (with his parents watching) if he hits a home run, then tears the check up in his face when he fails, likely traumatizing him in the process. And he does it because he's bored.
    • Shiv is a political consultant for a liberal populist presidential candidate and tries to come across as a Granola Girl, but she's just as near-sociopathic as the rest of her family, cheating on her fiance Tom and ultimately using him to further her career at his expense.
    • Tom himself seems like an awkward Nice Guy around the Roys, but he reveals a very nasty side whenever he has someone under him to push around. He starts creepily bullying Greg the moment they cross paths and continues once Greg becomes his subordinate. He's also extremely rude to his wedding planner.
    • Connor likes to assert himself as a relaxed intellectual who stands above all the family infighting, but he's not. He completely goes berserk at the slightest bit of difficulty when hosting a charity event.
    • Greg, the newest member of the Roys' inner circle, comes off as a regular person who is out of his depth, but is clearly trying to milk the Roys for money and isn't afraid to use blackmail and deceit to advance his position.
  • Bland-Name Product: With the Roys being a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of the Murdochs, their news channel ATN is obviously supposed to stand for Fox News, another news channel that is frequently accused of being a right-wing mouthpiece. Likewise, the liberal PGM news network, ATN's biggest rival, obviously stands for CNN, which is Fox News' biggest rival.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • After Greg is fired for being high at work, he claims that he got a contact high from a hitchhiker.
    • Logan claims that he doesn't think he even made contact with Roman after backhanding him so hard that Roman has to check the status of his teeth.
    • When Tom is being grilled by the Senate subcommittee, he claims, among other things, that he doesn't know who Greg is, his personal assistant. He quickly backtracks, claiming he didn't understand the question, which causes the subcommittee to further grill him on how that could be possible.
  • Bookends: The premiere and finale each feature scenes of the Roys paying off characters to keep quiet about certain indiscretions.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: The Pierce family is almost as rich as the Roys, but they maintain liberal principles and are disgusted by the conservative-slanted ATN. They have a Pretentious Latin Motto inscribed on their doorway and quote Shakespeare instead of saying grace.
  • Brick Joke: In his first scenes, Greg makes some Blatant Lies about smelling like pot because he picked up a pot-smoking hitchhiker. In the first season finale, Kendall stumbles upon him outside the wedding reception and Greg immediately starts claiming that he smells like pot because there's some other guy smoking pot nearby. In fact, there is another person smoking pot.
  • But I Read a Book About It: When Kendall makes a business decision, Logan scornfully asks if he'd learned that from one of his books, implying that Kendall has the theory of business but lacks the knowledge and experience of the Self-Made Man Logan.
  • Captain Obvious: When Connor is put in the difficult position of eulogizing a serial sexual offender, Willa helps him edit his speech so that he only states neutral and obvious facts, such as that he was a man, he is no longer alive, and his widow is sad.
  • Catchphrase: In the first season, Connor announces that he "doesn't take sides" so many times it's basically a catchphrase. He even says it immediately before telling Shiv that he's on her side.
  • Character Development: Lots in the second season:
    • Kendall regresses to becoming his father's whipping boy and hatchet man, until the season finale, in which he bites back.
    • Roman starts taking his job seriously and shows that he actually does have a lot of business knowledge and instincts. After a season of being asexual, he also starts to plumb his sexual fetishes.
    • After waffling for a season over whether to embrace her family or political life, Shiv finally chooses her family. She also is forced to pay more attention to her relationship with Tom.
    • Tom finally stands up for himself and calls Shiv out on her poor treatment of him throughout their marriage.
    • Greg becomes more accustomed to the wealthy lifestyle: hosting parties, requesting cocaine and developing a taste for champagne. He also starts flexing the leverage he built up in the first season to stand up to Tom.
    • Willa seems to be warming to Connor. While in the beginning of the second season she still reacts with instinctive disgust at his embrace, by the mid-point of the season she's remarking on how "cute" he looks in his campaign video.
  • The Chew Toy: Greg is constantly put in awkward and uncomfortable positions. In season 1, he's constantly ridiculed and embarrassed by Tom. His grandfather forces him to eat an entirely second dinner of unappetizing noodles against his protests. He attends a "hellish" bachelor party in which he ingests too much cocaine and fears he's going to die. In season 2, things are much the same. He's shown a apartment with ceilings so low that he bangs his head into them. He accidentally says too much in an interview and sweats about being outed as the "leak." He's one of several people forced to play "boar on the floor" even though Logan changes his selection criteria to make him do so. He's forced to testify in front of a Senate subcommittee in spite of being monumentally unqualified.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: You could count on one hand the characters who don't exhibit this.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: All of the Roy siblings are delusional to some degree or another. The worst offender ultimately proves to be Connor, who reveals that he seriously believes he could become president after a lifetime of doing nothing.
  • Compensated Dating: Connor's "girlfriend" is actually being paid to date him. His family calls her a prostitute, and Roman reveals that she is a well-known escort.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Tom's lesson to Greg on "how to be rich" runs on this. They eat expensive foreign cuisine and then drink gold-flecked liquor from bottle service at the empty VIP area of a club simply because it's expensive. In the second season, Logan orders an entire opulent feast be tossed out uneaten because it was sitting out while a stink was permeating the house.
  • Cringe Comedy: Lots, mainly when one of the Roys (particularly Connor or Roman) says something completely inappropriate to the situation apropos of nothing whatsoever.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Greg and Tom come across as morons, but they're actually pretty good at scheming when their back is against the wall.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Shiv will only ever say that Tom is "a good guy" in a defensive tone when pressed why she's with him, revealing that she's just settling. Even on their wedding day, she only says, "You're a great guy, and I like hanging out with you," in comparison to Tom, who is so overwhelmed by his love for her that he cuts his speech short.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: On his first day as COO, Roman stares out at the view from his high-rise office and masturbates onto the window. The metaphorical connotations are rather straightforward.
  • Dead Little Sister: The second season teases Logan's deceased younger sister, Rose. Ewan alludes to Logan blaming himself for her death and Logan is not happy when Rhea brings her up during a toast after being tricked into doing so.
  • Dirty Old Man: Karl is past middle age and is said to frequent brothels whenever he goes on business trips. He protests that his wife understands that he's a "libertine."
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Kendall's car incident is clearly based on the infamous Chappaquiddick incident.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • After Kendall spent the whole season being trampled on, controlled, and humiliated by Logan, and denied even the courtesy of his father telling him he'd make a good CEO, Kendall upends the press conference designed for him taking the fall and instead uses it to very publicly stab Logan in the back, revealing his complicity in the cruises scandal.
    • In the same episode, after a season of simmering tension, Tom finally lashes out at Shiv for all of her grievances in their relationship, from forcing an open marriage to treating him like a slave to the humiliation of agreeing that he should take the fall for the cruises scandal, and hints at the idea of a divorce. It shakes Shiv enough to plead with Logan to not sacrifice him.
  • Driven to Suicide: An employee kills himself at his desk (offscreen) in the second season, prompting an evacuation. In the same episode, Kendall appears to be flirting with the idea as he stands on the building's roof, but at the end of the episode is barred from the possibility when the company erects barriers to prevent another suicide.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Kendall falls off the wagon after his vote of no confidence fails.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Kendall arrives by limo to a very important business meeting and immediately starts using casual youth lingo, showing how unfit he is for the world of business. The businessman he's meeting balks at being called "dude."
    • Greg gets fired from his job as an amusement park character due to a bad reaction to pot, then tries to lamely blame it on a hitchhiker when calling his mom for help. He's a total loser.
    • Connor's first lines are explaining to a child how he's developing a parcel of land and wants to hoard the water on it for himself when the world starts to run out. This touches on Connor's lack of interaction in the family business (he's interested in land instead), his mild personality in most situations (talking to a child) and his underlying weird political views.
    • One of Shiv's earliest scenes establishes her political job and alludes to the fact that getting Democrats elected in New York isn't particularly difficult.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • While the Roys have no problem in-fighting and plotting against each other, they are joined in feeling embarrassment and shame that Connor continually brings his escort to important family events.
    • When the Roys are positioned to take over PGM and likely turn it into another one of their mouthpieces, Shiv has a guilt attack while wondering how the world will function without someone doing real journalism.
    • Rhea manipulates her way into Logan's good graces and positions herself as the perfect alternative for CEO. However, she then discovers just how corrupt the company is and realizes what kind of nasty things she would have to do in order to run it. She walks away and tells Logan to find someone else to succeed him.
  • Evil Is Petty: Logan's impetus for his extremely risky and potentially catastrophic (if not outright illegal) obsession with acquiring PGM? They spent a few inches of print mocking him, decades ago.
  • Excrement Statement: A bystander throws a jar of his own piss at Logan at the start of "Austerlitz."
  • Extreme Doormat:
    • Greg is very easily pushed around and overawed by everything, which is exacerbated by the fact that he's in way over his head.
    • Tom's parents, at least when they're around the Roys. They note how "fun" it was to sit at the airport for hours waiting to be picked up. His mother then gets embarrassed when his father asks for a beverage on her behalf.
    • Tom himself meekly accepts and shoulders much of the criticism that the Roys place upon him, though most notably from Shiv as he is troubled, but cowed, by her indifference toward the wedding and the subject of fidelity. B ythe end of season 2, he's finally starting to push back a little.
  • Fall Guy: In the season 2 finale, Logan has to decide who will take the public fall for the cruises scandal. He is told by the company board that it cannot be just one of the senior executives but it needs to be a member of the Roy family, even Logan himself. He chooses Kendall.
  • Family Versus Career: Shiv must choose between loyalty to her family or dedication to her job, which puts her in opposition to her family. This ends in the second season, where she quits in order to pursue the position of Logan's successor.
  • Foreign-Language Tirade: When delivering a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Shiv, Marcia occasionally lapses into her native French.
  • Foreshadowing: After a misstep by a young waiter at Shiv's wedding, Logan goes on a tirade and complains that he never wants to see him again, ever. The waiter ends up dying. Wish granted!
  • French Cuisine Is Haughty: Tom goads Greg into eating Ortalon, a controversial French dish comprising mainly of a tiny whole songbird, with him. Tom describes the flavor as "gamy."
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Averted with Greg, the one Roy without silly amounts of money. When he tries to find an apartment in Manhattan, the only place he can afford is comically small. He instead moves in with Kendall who lives in a huge, mostly unfurnished apartment all by himself.
  • Hidden Depths: The first season establishes how messed up the Roy siblings are. Season two shows that they have positive qualities and can grow as humans. Kendall slowly grows a backbone and realizes that he cannot ignore the guilt he is feeling. Roman takes a more serious approach to his work, negotiates an important deal and then has enough business savvy to realize that the deal is too good to be true. Shiv shows how ruthless she can be but ultimately is not willing to give up Tom to please her father. Connor stays useless.
  • Hope Spot: The first season finale zig-zags and starts with Kendall having Logan backed into a corner despite a series of misfires, making it seem that, after being humiliatingly fired from the board after the failed takeover, he finally has one over his father... Then, in a search for more drugs, he gets behind the wheel of a car with an innocent young caterer and gets into an accident. After a failed rescue he leaves the kid to die, hides from a passing car rather than flagging it down for help, covers up his tracks and establishes an alibi. No one seems the wiser and the caterer dies, leaving his tracks covered... Until Logan reveals that he has damning evidence against them, and is willing to help Kendall with the potentially life-ending cover-up, so long as he comes under Logan's control again.
  • Impoverished Patrician: While maybe not entirely poor, British aristocrat Caroline Collingwood is implied to be on relatively hard times in the second season. She appears to live alone in a much smaller home than the other rich characters of the show, serves her children pigeon with buckshot still in it, and seems to have a boyfriend on the "common" side
  • Inadequate Inheritor:
    • The plot is kicked off by Logan planning to retire but then deciding that none of his children are suited to run his empire, so he decides to postpone his retirement. Kendall, who was supposed to become the new head of Waystar-Royco, takes it extremely badly. The second season hammers home how the desire to be Logan's successor negatively affects anyone pursuing the position, not just Kendall. Shiv, who was consistently coolly competent during the first season, begins to fall apart and embarrass herself in her pursuit to be the inheritor in the second season, ending in a humiliating outburst in "Tern Haven."
    • Special mention goes to Connor, Logan's eldest son, who takes no part in the family business and is never once considered to be useful by his father. Kendall is clearly seen to have supplanted his position, to the point that an employee refers to Kendall as Logan's "eldest son" before quickly correcting himself to say "second-eldest" when Connor scowls.
    • Evan Roy threatens to disinherit Greg if he continues to work for Logan.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All:
    • Connor thinks that he's an intellectual and cites his "readings" yet doesn't seem to understand how the world works. He treats his brief conversation with Gil as an epic debate that he won in crushing fashion, when in reality he just slung a few prosaic insults at Gil until Gil walked away.
    • All of the working Roy children have an inflated sense of competency in their fields, which often results in them getting outmaneuvered and embarrassed. Even Shiv, who seems to be the most competent of the bunch, is implied to only be as successful as she is because her job (getting Democrats elected in New York City) is hard to fail.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: A key reason Kendall is not ready to handle taking over the company is because Logan has been keeping so many things close to him. Such as the fact the company is about three billion dollars in debt.
  • Love Is a Weakness: Not wanting to lose Tom, Shiv begs Logan to not let him take the fall for the cruises scandal, which not only makes Logan quietly dismiss her as a potential successor due to her siding with her husband over family, it also inadvertently leads to Kendall's disastrous press conference in the final moments — and it doesn't even seem to have that much of an effect on Tom as it is.
  • May–December Romance: The other siblings jab at Connor for "dating" a call girl who appears to be no more than half his age. Connor labors on the delusion that their arrangement will surely become an actual romance even though she clearly dislikes him.
  • Meal Ticket:
    • Connor pays a woman to be his girlfriend. His family has to repeatedly remind him that she's a prostitute, but he's deluding himself to believing that she'll eventually fall in love with him. She clearly doesn't like him and is uncomfortable with how much he loves her, but can't leave him because she relies on his money to finance her theatrical writing.
    • Tom does seem to love Shiv a lot, but it's also obvious that part of the reason he's with her is because she's rich, and her family has given him a powerful job that he doesn't seem qualified for.
    • Logan's current wife had a hard life in Beirut before marrying him and clearly endures his defects of character because of his money.
  • Meaningful Name: The show is about a modern-day dynasty going by the name "Roy," meaning "king."
  • Minor Flaw, Major Breakup:
    • Though they had problems before, Roman ultimately breaks up with Grace when she admits she likes a children's movie he had tried to kill, for no other reason than he thinks it makes no logical sense.
    • Kendall breaks it off with a new girlfriend because she said "awesome" too much after meeting Logan.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Kendall was loyal to Logan and had just completed a major deal for Waystar-Royco. He fully expected his father to name him the new CEO. Instead, Logan decides to stay on and treats Kendall as a failure. Fed up, Kendall tries to take over the company.
  • My New Gift Is Lame: The Roy kids gripe about how it's impossible to give Logan anything he'll like. He already has everything he wants, and whenever something new comes out that he might like, he'll always get a dozen of them. Logan gives away the watch Tom gave him almost immediately. When Connor tries to go unconventional and give him some starter dough to make old-fashioned sourdough, Logan condescendingly thanks him for the "old bread."
  • Naïve Newcomer:
    • Greg is Logan's grandnephew, but he grew up in a middle-class setting and had little interaction with Logan's side of the family until his mother sends him to New York. He is now smack in the middle of all the Roy family drama but is not really a player in it yet. He is out of his depth and is quite bewildered by what is happening around him. He seems mostly incapable of any sort of cunning until the end of the first season, where he implies he'll blackmail Kendall with the cruise scandal unless he gets to keep his job, and even Kendall is kind of impressed with him.
    • Tom is effectively treated as this by everyone in the family, which initially leads to some rivalry and conflict with Greg.
  • Nepotism: Most of the Roy clan works in the family business, whether or not they're qualified. Kendall is his father's #2 man and seems to at least understand business theory. Roman starts the show having quit the company, but soon returns as COO, a position he seems wildly unqualified for, and is given responsibility for overseeing a satellite launch. Tom heads a division that runs the company's parks and cruise lines because he's Shiv's long-term boyfriend. Greg, who seems to have no marketable skills beyond general computer proficiency, is given an ambiguous job under Tom because he is Logan's grandnephew. Marcia's son by another marriage announces that he'll head the European animation division, though his qualifications are completely unknown.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: While the first season teased Roman as being asexual, this season reveals that Roman is actually only capable of becoming aroused if the situation is somehow "twisted." In his first attempt to have sex with his girlfriend, he insists that she pretend to be dead. Later, he discovers his fondness for masturbating while being verbally degraded.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • The Roy family are broadly based on Rupert Murdoch and his children. Like Roy, Murdoch is a foreign-born media magnate whose holdings push a conservative narrative, and most of his children have joined the family business.
    • Gil Eavis, who Shiv is supporting for president, is pretty clearly based on Bernie Sanders as a vaguely Jewish liberal senator who focuses on wealth inequality.
  • Non-Idle Rich: Zig-zagged. Most of the Roys are pretty industrious in spite of their wealth. Kendall and Roman occupy high positions at the company (though Roman rejoins the company after a period of unemployment at the beginning of the series). Shiv is a political strategist for the Democratic Party. Connor is the only Roy child who "does nothing," though he denies this description. In the second season, he starts a political campaign to run for president and produces a play.
  • Nouveau Riche: Tom thinks that Conspicuous Consumption is how you "be rich" and is marrying into his money.
  • Odd Couple: Tom and Greg are both outsiders to the Roys and often find themselves dealing with each other as a result. Tom quickly latches onto Greg, at first offering mocking camaraderie and bullying. Although this lessens up as the season goes on, which shows them exchanging moments of bonding in the finale.
  • Oh, Crap!: All the Roy siblings in the second season finale as they watch Kendall betray Logan on live television.
  • Overly Preprepared Gag: Roman spends an episode trying to find out whether his exploding satellite caused any deaths that he'll be liable for, possibly incurring prison time. He eventually learns that the injuries were limited mostly to the loss of two thumbs. Later still, a relieved Roman celebrates with a Has Two Thumbs and... gag.
  • Parental Incest: Shiv visits Logan when he's doped up on morphine and confused, and when he takes her hand he tries to pull it towards his crotch. She's appropriately squicked out and leaves.
  • Plausible Deniability:
    • Tom discovers that the cruise line division is covering up a wide range of crimes that occur on their ships, from systematic sexual harassment to murder. He is legally required to report this to the authorities, but if he does then it will cost Waystar-Royco millions in lawsuits and lost revenue. He lampshades the fact that by being so diligent he cost himself plausible deniability. If he stopped looking when he realized that something fishy was going on, he could truthfully say that he had no knowledge of any specific wrongdoing. Now, if he is ever forced to testify on the matter, he will be committing perjury if he denies knowledge. Similarly, if Tom tells anyone about what he found, that person will lose plausible deniability and will become part of the conspiracy.
    • Early in the series, Kendall thinks that some negative press about the situation at Waystar would help his case to be appointed acting CEO, but he can't be the source for such a story. He gets around this by calling Lawrence Yee to demand that Lawrence run no stories about Waystar and gratuitously insulting Lawrence in the process. This, of course, gets Kendall both the story he wants and an excuse if he's asked about it later.
  • Really Gets Around:
    • Party-boy Roman talks a lot about how often he has sex and how women find him irresistible, but it's implied that he's something of a Casanova Wannabe.
    • Shiv cheats on Tom and springs her desire to maintain an open relationship on him on their wedding night. Tom is not interested in sleeping around, and her promiscuity weighs on him.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Marcia gives one to Shiv in the penultimate episode of the first season, calling her out for being spoiled and entitled as she actively works against the one man who gave her the privilege to do so.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: The curse of the Roy children, who have grown up pampered and unloved, so that they feel inadequate compared to the success of their father and seek his approval, but have been given none of the tools to actually achieve anything and earn that respect.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Shiv tries to sink a negative story about her candidate by reminding the station pushing it that her family owns them.
  • Self-Made Man: Logan talks pridefully about how he started his career working hard in an auto garage and earned everything he made. This stands in direct contrast to his kids, who were handed everything.
  • Serious Business: Connor flips out because the butter is too hard at his charity event, "firing" his event manager and all of the staff during a tantrum. He then personally apologizes to various tables for the butter. In fact, when Logan asks why he's apologizing, Marcia replies with disdain that "the butter is frozen," showing that Connor's concern is probably well-founded. His guests really are that particular.
  • Ship Tease: Between Gerri and Roman. In the second season the former helps the latter masturbate twice and Roman "proposes marriage" for the two of them to work together to take over Waystar-Royco.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Shiv eventually reveals that this is the primary reason she began going out with Tom.
  • Stealth Insult: As a sharp-tongued British aristocrat, Caroline Collingwood is an expert at these. She notes how "clever" it is that Tom's middle-class parents are letting everyone at the wedding know that they bought the wine. Tom acknowledges that he's just been "stabbed."
  • Succession Crisis: It's even alluded to by the title. Logan postpones his retirement because he considers none of his four children as suitable heirs to his vast media empire, and the children repeatedly demonstrate this with their squabbling over who gets what and their dickish behavior in general.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Comes up when the guys all attend a bachelor party. Roman yells at Kendall over how, as a kid, Kendall would lock Roman in a cage and feed him food in a bowl which pushed Logan to send Roman to military school. Kendall claims to have no memory of it at all. When Roman snaps about it to Connor, Connor says that he remembers Roman was the one who wanted to go to military school himself.
  • Take That!: ATN, a Bland-Name Product stand-in for Fox News, is repeatedly described as a right-wing propaganda platform rather than a genuine source for journalism. Of course, Logan and the head of ATN both strongly deny this charge.
  • Thicker Than Water:
    • Ewan Roy seems to despise his brother Logan, but he would never betray him. He is outraged when he finds out that Kendall and his siblings are conspiring against their father.
    • Greg is pretty much a stranger to Logan and his family, but he is Ewan's grandson, so he is given a job where he has access to Waystar-Royco's top executives and is used for sensitive tasks. Tom regards him as trustworthy because he's family, but also expendable, because he's only distant family.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: Subverted. Shiv tries to arrange a threesome for Tom on the yacht in the second season. He acts excited by the idea, but given the context — it's implied she's trying to assuage her guilt of sleeping with other men by getting him sexually involved with another woman, and there's uncomfortable subtext in her coercing an employee into sex given that the family is dealing with the fallout of a sex scandal involving cruise ship employees — it comes off as more than a little creepy. In the end, however, it's revealed that he actually isn't interested in it and would rather have her "watch them from the bathroom."
  • Trapped in Villainy: Once learning about the company's dark secrets, one of Tom's first instincts is to come clean about the situation as a way of producing reform while saving the company's reputation. He is stopped, however, once it becomes clear to him that elements within the Roys' inner circle aim to shut down the possibility, and the second season has him frantically scrubbing any trace of evidence about it while actively helping the cover-up.
  • Trauma Conga Line
    • Kendall in the second season, due to being completely under Logan's control. He's made to give an embarrassingly inadequate explanation for backing out of his plot on live TV, forced to completely destroy his pet project, repeatedly falls off the wagon and generally has to act as nothing more than a defeated puppet and spy for his father. When confronted about one of his actions, he can only summon a miserable, pathetic, "My Dad told me to."
    • Roman, over the course of the third and fourth episodes of the second season. His attempts at impressing Logan by going behind his back to try to work out a deal with the Pierce family backfires horribly and nearly ruins his father's plans, and Kendall spies on him for Logan to find out that he was considering talking to the biographer. This leaves him a pathetic, sniveling mess begging for his father's approval, who dismissively calls him an out-of-touch moron. Following Gerri's advice, Roman enters a management training program, which turns out to be a hokey ground-floor operation that puts him in one of the Waystar-Royco theme parks as a mascot — ironically, the same character he had raged against in the first season.
  • Unwanted Assistance: In Season 2, when Tom finagles high-end promotions for himself and Greg to the company's Fox News-styled network. While it's obvious that Tom brought Greg along mainly to continue to have him as his "gofer," he also believes he is doing the best for both of them. Greg, for his own part, states he would have been happier back in the Parks division, as the politics of the network conflicts with his morals.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Greg is prepared to stay loyal to Logan, losing hundreds of millions in inheritance from his grandfather in the process, but Tom and Connor mock the idea of his consolation $5 million being any kind of decent money. This is partly what makes Greg decide to turn around and help Kendall to expose Logan.
  • Villain Has a Point: Logan makes it clear to Kendall that he finds him incompetent as well as untrustworthy due to his history as an addict. Kendall falls off the wagon (albeit due to his plot to oust Logan failing and Logan firing him) and makes some of his worst mistakes while using again, including accidentally getting someone killed.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Logan has one in the second season after his acquisition of PGM falls through, leaving him uncharacteristically flustered as he chases after and screams at a limo.
  • Villain Protagonist: Logan Roy is essentially the villain of the series, with all of his awful family as the antiheroes who have been ruined by a life in his influence.
  • Villain Respect: After Kendall betrays his father on live television, Logan reacts with a faint smile, as his son has finally proven himself a "killer."
  • Visual Metaphor: Lawrence Yee tells Kendall that he'd never do business with the Roys, then steps into the elevator and rubs sanitizer on his hands, literally washing his hands of the family.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Kendall and Stewy go way back, and hang out together as friends even though Kendall openly sees Stewy as an untrustworthy parasite.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: All the Roy children. Roman openly is desperate for any kind of attention or approval from Logan, Kendall desires respect from him even when he's working against him, and even Connor in his own way doesn't like to go against Logan. Shiv becomes more of this in the second season, when she becomes desperate to be Logan's successor.
  • We Used to Be Friends: After Logan forces Kendall to screw over Stewy in the second season, their old friendship falls apart and Stewy spends the season trying to ruin Waystar-Royco wherever possible.
  • Wealthy Yacht Owner: The second season finale mostly took place at the Roys' superyacht.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Which Side Are You On?" Kendall's motion for a vote of no confidence finally happens and it fails when traffic forces him to arrive late and Logan refuses to leave the room, pressuring Roman into abstaining and then refusing his attempt to vote. Logan stays on as chairman and fires half the board that voted to remove him, including Kendall, who's left shell-shocked on a busy street in New York.
    • The first season finale, where an innocent minor character dies as a result of one of the leads, and Logan regains power and control in the end.
  • Wham Line
    • Logan telling Kendall that his keycard was found near the scene of the accident where the young caterer was killed, and one of his assistants spotted Kendall with a compromising appearance. Not only does it mean Logan knew about the accident, which Kendall had thought he had gotten away with, but Logan is also fully prepared to weaponize it as blackmail. Kendall's winning strategy with Sandy has to fall through and he's left completely at the mercy of Logan, knowing that if the truth got out it would ruin him forever.
    • In the second season premiere Kendall learns from security that the waiter he was involved with in the accident was alive and conscious at the time of the crash and had tried to free himself, so when Kendall hid from a passing car and built an alibi instead of getting help, he really did kill him.
    • In the second season finale, Kendall seems to be preparing to take the fall for the cruises scandal, until he adds a "But..." and then dives into exposing Logan's involvement in the cover-up on live TV.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A non-scifi example. During the cruises scandal, crimes involving dead migrant and sex workers were callously filed under "NRPI" — "no real person involved." Logan also refers to the dead waiter from the first season as "NRPI" which also motivates the still-guilty Kendall to take his very public stand against him.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Zigzagged by Kendall's accident. When trapped in a sinking car, Kendall manages to escape and surface, but immediately dives down again and makes several efforts to save the car's driver before relenting due to exhaustion. There was no one to witness what happened, so he could have worried only about himself. However, once on land, Kendall immediately begins to cover his tracks to avoid responsibility for the accident.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Tom to Shiv's lover at his wedding. After a season of the latter mocking him both behind his back and in front of it, Tom takes no little pleasure in utterly humiliating him at the reception before having him escorted out.
  • Wicked Step Mother: The Roy kids all distrust Marcia, their father's current wife. They suspect that she's manipulating him to get more power and wealth for herself. One of the precipitating incidents of the show is Logan trying to install her as an additional trustee. When Logan falls ill, the Roys are suspicious when she doesn't let anyone see him, and they discuss how they know almost nothing about her.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: When Logan browbeats Roman into abstaining from casting the deciding vote of no-confidence, he calls him "Romulus," which seems to be a childhood nickname; Logan uses it more in the second season, usually when twisting Roman's arm.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: In the second season, Greg manages to successfully blackmail Tom, who remarks with admiration that Greg has become a slime ball. Greg is not happy to hear this.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Shiv cheats on Tom with a colleague and old flame repeatedly before their wedding. On their wedding night, she insists that they have open relationship, something Tom doesn't want at all, so she can continue to have affairs.
    • Roman's ex Grace implies, in her sarcastic Thanksgiving speech, that Roman has cheated on her repeatedly. Given the sexual hang-ups that Roman is later revealed to have and hide, this is probably something he would like everyone to believe.
    • Played for laughs with Tom agonizing over how to conduct himself at the hedonistic bachelor party Roman set up.
    • Logan is noted to have had affairs with other women when married to his second wife and starts an affair with Rhea in the second season. Marcia coolly accepts this, but not without intimidating Rhea first.

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