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Series / Swamp Thing (2019)

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Swamp Thing is a 2019 Sci-Fi Superhero Horror series on the DC Universe streaming service, the third show to be produced and premiered on the streaming service. As per the events of the Arrowverse Crisis Crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths, the series is set on the Arrowverse's Earth-19.

Based on the classic Swamp Thing comic series, the series is about CDC Doctor Abby Arcane, who returns to her home of Marais, Louisiana to investigate a deadly swamp-borne virus. Upon looking into the virus, she develops a bond with scientist Alec Holland. After Holland tragically dies, Arcane discovers the mysteries of the swamp and that Holland may not be dead after all when a mysterious creature claims to be him.

The show stars Crystal Reed as Abby Arcane, Andy Bean as Alec Holland, and Derek Mears as the titular Swamp Thing. The show also stars Maria Sten, Virginia Madsen, Will Patton, Henderson Wade, Jennifer Beals, Jeryl Prescott-Sales, Kevin Durand, and Ian Ziering. Additionally, the series is created by Mark Verheiden and Gary Dauberman and is produced by James Wan.

It premiered on May 31st, 2019, with episodes being released weekly like other DC Universe shows. After only one episode, the show was cancelled because of dissatisfaction from both WarnerMedia and AT&T executives. Luckily, it happened quickly enough that the crew were able to rework the finale into a proper ending. Despite its cancellation, however, it was subsequently licensed by The CW in 2020, where it made its linear television debut in October.

Swamp Thing contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • In the comics, Abby has white hair with a black streak, while the show version is portrayed with Crystal Reed's natural dark brown hair.
    • Alec Holland is usually depicted as blond in the comics, while Andy Bean is a brunette.
    • The comics version of The Phantom Stranger is a tall, slim, white-haired, sharply dressed pretty boy, while Macon Blair... isn't. He's not ugly per se, but he seems more like a guy you'd meet while out on a walk around the neighborhood than a fallen angel - which, ironically, would probably be what an angel would actually disguise themselves as.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Abby Arcane didn't appear in the Swamp Thing comic until the third issue, and never met Alec Holland before his death.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: The comic version of Jason Woodrue was a Mad Scientist with designs towards world conquest. This version, while still a villain, is motivated by the goal of curing his wife's early-onset Alzheimer's.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Whereas the comic version of Matthew Cable was a government agent attempting to protect Alec from the threats towards his life, his show counterpart is the one who kills Alec.
  • Adaptive Ability: Thanks to Alec, Abby discovers that the infection mutates at an alarming rate when treatment is attempted; the only way to prolong the victim's life until a cure is found is to not fight it.
  • And Starring: The opening credits has "With Jennifer Beals and Will Patton" plus "Special Appearance By Kevin Durand.
  • Asshole Victim: Avery's father, who we see onscreen merrily killing a turtle and chopping into what is clearly a sacred tree, gets attacked by the swamp and dragged into his campfire and held there until he burns to death.
  • Badass Bookworm: Alec is no mere scientist. When the first victim of the vine-plague attacks him and Abby, he keeps his nerve and manages to destroy it with nothing but a pair of scissors, two containers of medical alcohol and a cigarette lighter.
  • Badass Normal: While she's not exactly a warrior, Abby tries to keep a cool head when she can and strike back whenever possible. When she's attacked by a fly-oozing reanimated corpse, she actually goes on the offensive, holding it at bay with a lit magnesium flare and then attacking it with a fire axe when it turns its back. While it doesn't do much good, she definitely gets an A for effort. Liz also deserves a mention - when two masked thugs turn up to intimidate her out of investigating a story, she takes one of them out in under 2 seconds, causing the other one to immediately back off.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Avery's father and that poor turtle.
  • Beast and Beauty: Abby is afraid of Swamp Thing at first, but when she learns he's Alec transformed (or more accurately, possessing all of Alec's memories), all she sees is the man beneath the monster.
  • Berserk Button: Anything that can even be interpreted as disrespect will turn Avery Sunderland from a smooth-talking Southern gentleman to an Ax-Crazy thug.
  • Big Bad: Avery Sunderland. He inadvertently caused the plague when he commissioned Mad Scientist Jason Woodrue to make the swamp's vegetation grow faster and bigger with his mutagens. Now, he seeks to get his plans back on track and, more importantly, cover up his crime.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Again, Avery Sunderland. He works hard to maintain the facade of a generous and friendly philanthropist, but if you inconvenience or disrespect him in any way, he will turn very nasty, very quickly, as soon as he thinks nobody's watching.
  • Body Horror: The plague ultimately causes a horrific mass of living vines to erupt from a person's body, which then drag it around as it falls to pieces.
  • Botanical Abomination: In addition to the title character, there's also a possibly intelligent plague that takes over people's bodies and turns them into twisted vine zombies.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: While the other DC Universe shows are hardly bloodless, this one provides increasingly gruesome and creative Body Horror with practically every new episode.
  • Casting Gag: Dr. Palomar is played by Adrienne Barbeau, who appeared in the 1982 Swamp Thing film as Alice Cable (a combination of Abby Arcane and Matt Cable).
  • Cliffhanger: It shows Jason Woodrue mutating into the Floronic Man and attacking Matt.
  • Control Freak: In the mind of Avery Sunderland, you're either under his thumb, or you're in his way.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Almost everyone who dies. Alec himself is shot twice with a shotgun, set on fire, and then possibly drowns before the vines take him.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: "Winning fights" is not exactly something the titular eight-foot-tall, practically invincible plant creature with super strength and control of nature has to worry about much.
  • Dare to Be Badass: In "Anatomy Lesson", the Phantom Stranger tells Daniel he can finally fulfill their deal if he becomes the Blue Devil and aids Abby in rescuing Swamp Thing. Daniel insists he's not interested, but remembering how he was neither satisfied with being a stunt man nor an actor, he accepts the power.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Abby left town due to an incident in college wherein her best friend was killed, which everyone blames her for, including herself.
  • Darker and Edgier: There's an overt horror vibe far beyond DC Universe's other shows.
  • Deal with the Devil: Daniel made a vague bargain with the Phantom Stranger in order to make it big as an actor. Part of the contract is that he can't take one step out of Marais, on threat of mystical immolation, until his end is carried out.
  • Disney Death: Subverted when Swamp Thing and Abby learn that Swamp Thing is not Alec, but a plant who absorbed his memories, and Alec has been dead all along.
  • Drunk Driver: After an evening of Drowning His Sorrows, Matt ends up crashing into a bridge pillar.
  • Dying Town: Marais has little going for it, and only people who have put down roots live there. Avery has spent his entire life trying to put Marais on the map.
  • Evil Parents Want Good Kids: Lucilia is a Dirty Cop but she doesn't want her son to follow her in that path. She is heartbroken when she learns Matt killed Alec for Avery.
  • Fainting Seer: When Madame Xanadu tries to unburden Maria's grieving heart, the fortuneteller senses Shawna's restless spirit and falls to the floor, shaking.
  • Fair Cop: The local sheriff Lucilia Cable, played by Jennifer Beals. Her deputy Matthew Cable counts as the male equivalent.
    • Subverted later when it is revealed that Lucilia is corrupt and had committed and covered up a number of crimes for Avery whom she was sleeping with. Matt also is revealed to have killed Alec under Avery's orders though he only did it to keep Avery from revealing his mother's crimes.
  • Family Business: Lucilia and her son Matt are both cops.
  • For Science!: Woodrue all but swoons over the plague's symptoms. As he says himself:
    Nature is brutal. Life devours life, it's a fight to the death. To bring emotion to bear taints the scientific vision.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Daniel Cassidy's clothes get burned down every time he transforms to the Blue Devil.
  • Genius Bruiser: Once Swamp Thing comes to grips with the initial trauma of his transformation, the sharp mind of Alec Holland still shines through.
  • Harmful to Minors: The preteen daughter of the first plague victim is awakened from a hospital bed by the sight of her dad's reanimated corpse. In pieces. And then it attacks her. And then the poor little girl gets to see Swamp Thing rip a guy to pieces with his vine-tentacles.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Alec has a pet dog, whom Abby quickly becomes fond of as well.
  • Hypocrite: In the pilot episode, Abby says "Masks, goggles and gloves for anyone in direct contact with the patients - no care giver gets sick on my watch", then promptly walks into Susie's room without goggles. Later, she's often seen visiting patients without protective gear, to the point where another CDC doctor tells her off for it and outright demands she put it on. She also doesn't tie her hair back (apart from one scene very early on), something that all medical professionals do, visits the home of the suspected patient zero while only wearing gloves and no other personal protective equipment, and does the autopsy on said patient without wearing a mask.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Both Alec and Abby have a moment of this in the pilot.
  • It's All My Fault: Abby never challenges Maria Sunderland's belief that she is responsible for Shawna's death because she believes it herself. The truth is more complicated; Abby playfully pushed Shawna into the swamp, but it was something below that dragged her down to drown.
  • Karma Houdini: Due to the series' cliffhanger ending Avery escapes justice, although the vines he spits out in his last scene may be a sign of bad things to come for him.
  • Kill It with Fire: Alec destroys the first vine-zombie by emptying two bottles of medical alcohol onto the floor and lighting it with a cigarette lighter.
  • Local Hangout: Delroy's bar is the town's favorite past time.
  • Logo Joke: The WB logo is set in the swamp, and is covered in plant growth., seen here
  • Love Makes You Crazy:
    • Woodrue is only working for a backstabbing piece of crap like Avery because he hopes the coveted miracle drug will cure his wife Caroline's Alzheimer's.
    • Maria never even tried to overcome Shawna's death, so when her daughter comes back as a ghost, she is only concerned with how to keep her from leaving again. The mother tries to use Susie as a meat suit for Shawna, and later follows her to the swamp to attempt to join her in death.
  • Magical Negro: Madame Xanadu, as it seems the only time she's seen on-screen is when she's assisting one of the (white) main characters, and she has no storyline or characterization of her own.
  • Mama Bear: Threatening Matt is the quickest way to get on Sheriff Cable's bad side. Deconstructed in that Lucilia is not a very stable woman, so those she thinks are a danger to her son are at risk of getting riddled with bullets.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The Marais Hospital morgue doesn't appear to have any fire suppression system forcing Alec to use an extinguisher to put down the burning vine zombie after he put it alight.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Sheriff Cable doesn't buy that Avery works hard to bring life back to Marais because he loves his home, but that he just wants to reinstate his place as top dog around town.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They're reanimated by possibly intelligent root systems of living vines that drag the body around, usually one piece at a time. It's sort of a plant-based version of the infection from the 1982 film.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: The Sunderlands lost their daughter, Shawna, fourteen years prior to the story.
  • People in Rubber Suits: The title character is portrayed by professional monster actor Derek Mears under a couple hundred pounds of gloriously mossy prosthetic makeup. Kevin Durand does the same in the last scene, portraying the Floronic Man.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: The above poster, itself based on an iconic scene from the comics.
  • Race Lift:
    • In the comics, Madame Xanadu is a Caucasian woman whose origins are connected to the story of King Arthur. Here she is a black Blind Seer.
    • Likewise, Matt is Caucasian in the comics, but mixed race in the show.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Distracted by research, Woodrue leaves his mentally-impaired wife alone without any supervision. When he comes home, she's had an episode and ODing on her meds.
    • Abby (a doctor) and Liz (a reporter), two civilians with no stealth or combat experience, attempt to infiltrate a private medical facility with its own well-equipped, highly-trained security force. It goes about as well as you would expect until Blue Devil gets involved.
  • Remake Cameo: Adrienne Barbeau as Dr. Palomar. She played Alice Cable, an amalgamation of Abby and Matt, in the 1982 film.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Maria takes in Susie to once again have a little girl in the house. Shawna's ghost is not amused, and possesses Susie body.
  • Say My Name: All together now... "Alec!" Could almost be Abby's catchphrase by the end of the series. Lampshaded here by this wonderful fan comic.
  • Secondary Character Title: Abby is the show's protagonist.
  • Self-Made Man: Avery was raised in poverty by his gator-wrestling hick father. His ambition, underhanded deals, and marrying up with Maria turned him into the most powerful man in Marais.
  • Screaming Woman: Abby sure gets to exercise her vocal cords quite a bit. If you had to see what she has to see, you'd be screaming too.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Alec Holland is introduced trespassing in a restricted area of the hospital in order to peruse blood test data, and later is caught breaking and entering at the home of outbreak's patient zero, all in the pursuit of answers about what's causing the disease.
  • Shown Their Work: The series makes good use of little-known facts regarding plant biology.
    • When Swamp Thing is trying to help Abby overcome an infection from the Rot, one of the plants he uses is Chinese lantern. This plant does have a number of real beneficial medical uses.
    • Swamp Thing uses sphagnum moss to clean up Avery's shotgun wound. This type of moss is highly absorbent and has antiseptic properties. It was widely used for wound dressings in the first World War.
  • Spoiler Cover: The page image of Swamp Thing holding the skeletal body of Alec Holland.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Shawna likes to appear this way, except when she's trying to lure someone to their deaths by appearing in her human form.
  • Synchronization: People who are affected by the swamp mutagen and survive seem to develop an emotional and mental connection. When Alec tries to tear off his new plant-based flesh, Susie mimics his movements and panicked expression in her hospital bed.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: The little girl who is a high priority patient keeps easily escaping from her hospital bed and the isolation ward she's on despite having sensors and monitors go off loudly whenever she unplugs them. The show does deserve a bit of credit for having her break the window in her room instead of opening it — real hospitals do not have windows that can be opened without tools, for security reasons and suicide prevention.
    • Look at the glass in the scene where Harlan finds the broken window... it's on the inside, meaning something else broke the glass (strongly implied to be the trees/roots that were tapping on the window). Also, Susie is eight, there's no way she would be strong enough to break the glass herself.
  • Tarot Troubles: It's stated that every time Madame Xanadu performed a tarot reading for Daniel Cassidy in the past eight years, the cards have been the same: The Fool, The Hanged Man and The Wheel of Fortune. In "He Speaks" Xanadu reads them again for him, drawing the same three cards. Only this time, they're reversed, indicating that Abby's return to Marais has changed something for him.
  • Technicolor Fire: Light blue hellfire is keeping Daniel Cassidy in Marais. When Woodrue tests plant samples on him, he starts expelling the fire from his body. After accepting the identity of Blue Devil, Daniel learns how to control it.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: In "Anatomy Lesson", just like in the Alan Moore comic book story of the same name, Swamp Thing learns that he is not Alec Holland turned into a plant creature, but rather a plant creature that absorbed Alec Holland's memories. At the end of the episode, Swamp Thing confirms this by finding the corpse of Alec Holland at the bottom of the cove where he was created.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Shout-out to the guy who tries to stab the eight-foot-tall plant monster with a kitchen knife. The only surprising thing about his immediate violent demise was that it was over very quickly.
    • Just barely averted by Abby after she blithely disobeys Alec's telling her not to go into a dangerous area and promptly gets infected with an almost fatal bacteria for her troubles.
      • She also just barely averts it in the beginning of the series, where more than once she disobeys direct medical protocol (removing her mask in a zone that has been infected with hemorraghic fever, and walking into hospital rooms without wearing a mask, despite telling everyone else at the hospital that it is mandatory to wear them).
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The series' primary poster depicts Swamp Thing holding onto a human corpse. That's the corpse of Alec Holland, giving away the major reveal that Swamp Thing is not Alec.
  • Uncertain Doom: The Stinger of the finale shows Jason Woodrue mutating into the Floronic Man and attacking Matt before shifting offscreen while the latter is heard screaming in terror. As this is the last episode, his fate is up in the air.
  • Wham Line: From "Anatomy Lesson":
    Woodrue: You're a plant that thinks it's a man.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Towards the end of the series, there is something going on at the CDC. After Abby brings in a plant sample heavily afflicted by the Rot to be analyzed, she finds herself locked out of the case, her coworker is grabbed by masked thugs off the street, and she is questioned by men she's never seen before, one of whom we have previously seen show up as a major investor to Avery's science venture. Next we see Abby, she's back in Marais with barely any explanation what came of any of that. Likely this plot thread was one of the biggest things that were dropped when the number of episodes was cut.
    • Alec's dog seemingly disappears - he's seen once in Cassidy's video store, but after that there's no mention of him.
    • Susie also disappears from the show after her possession by Shawna and rescue.
    • What happened to all the infected patients? We see Harlan recovering after being dosed with immunosuppressants, so they're probably okay, but the show almost completely abandons the whole virus/disease plotline after Swamp Thing is introduced.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Abby gets called out by Doctor Palomar for essentially abandoning the CDC and her patients to spend all her time in the swamp. Her response is to defensively bluster and snap at Harlan, then stomp off in a huff.
  • The Virus: A swamp-borne virus is unleashed upon the town, leaving many people sick and ill.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: It's no secret that Maria feels this way about Abby. It comes to a head in "Drive All Night," when Maria snaps and tries to drown Abby.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Swamp Thing


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