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Series / The Border

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The title, obviously.

A Canadian drama produced by the CBC, The Border premiered in January 2008 and aired for three seasons before being cancelled in the winter of 2010. So far as of 2011, there's no word on whether the third season will have a proper conclusion since it ended on a cliffhanger with no conclusion set.

The Border follows the agents of the fictional Canadian agency Immigration and Customs Security (ICS). According to the show ICS was created by the (real-life) federal Department of Public Safety after 9-11 to handle trans-border security matters, such as terrorism and smuggling. Its agents are recruited from customs, police, and military backgrounds to promote cross-service cooperation.

According to Peter Raymont, one of the producers of the Border, the show had been conceptualized back in 2001 prior to 9/11 before and after they pitched work for the CBC a three hour documentary mini series, commissioned by TVOntario and other broadcasters entitled "The Undefended Border".


The Border had been nominated for five awards at the 2009 Monte Carlo Television Festival after it had a previous nomination for Best TV Drama at the 2008 Monte Carlo Television Festival. In addition, it had 9 Gemini Awards and 1 Young Artist Award.

The show's broadcasting rights had been sold to several countries, including the United States on ION Television. In Quebec, the show had been shown in French via Séries+.

Not to be confused with the 1982 Jack Nicholson film with the same name.


This TV series features examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: To the other ICS agents in both the TV and DVD extras (The Psych tests) aside from Mike.
  • Action Duo: Gray and Layla, later with Liz and sometimes with Darnell. Al and Darnell. Mike and Maggie and sometimes with Bianca.
  • Action Girlfriend: Liz Carver (played by Grace Park) is this to Gray Jackson.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: An episode deals with a Canadian company selling facial recognition surveillance software to China.
  • Biker Babe: Khalida Massi, introduced in the third season, is one to some extent. This gets Slade's attention.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Somewhat literally, in that the series' third-season finale, and de facto series finale, ended this way in the midst of a shootout between trapped ICS agents and a besieging gang from a Mexican drug cartel. Word of God is still unknown.
  • Canada, Eh?: And how! Set rather blatantly in Toronto; most of the cast are Canadians as well.
  • Cowboy Cop: Gray Jackson, at least temporarily after the deaths of Layla and his father.
  • The Cutie: Zoe Kessler, daughter of ICS chief Mike Kessler.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Kessler commanding ICS with the rank of Major. Shouldn't it be all familiar?
  • Embarrassing First Name: Heironymous Slade.
  • Fictional Counterpart: While some agencies such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Security Intelligence Service are mentioned, some not very flatteringly, at other points in the series fictional agencies stand in for real ones. According to Denis McGrath, this was done due to legal concerns to get clearance in using the names of the real agencies.
    • Canada Customs instead of the Canada Border Services Agency
    • Département de Police du Québec instead of Sûreté du Québec.
  • Friend on the Force: Al with the Toronto Police Service as he's a liaison officer with ICS.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: ICS
  • Handsome Lech: Mike Kessler; lampshaded by his daughter Zoe in conversation with his ex-wife.
  • Heroic BSoD / What the Hell, Hero?: Occurs to Gray in spades after the deaths of Layla and his father, whereupon he goes temporarily rogue.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Mike near the end of the 1st season after he learns that the Canadian government is harboring an ex-Croatian warlord to help them hunt down more infamous warlords from the Bosnian War by giving him facial surgery. He goes on his own to help the survivors hide from him by asking an ex-JTF-2 subordinate of his to provide protection while he contemplates assassinating the ex-warlord before someone else took the shot for him.
  • Iron Lady: ICS second-in-command Maggie Norton.
  • Killed Off for Real / Anyone Can Die: Layla, in the second season finale.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Many of Kessler's superiors in the Canadian government are portrayed as this.
  • Playful Hacker: Slade, ICS' designated computer expert.
  • Private Military Contractors: The domain of ICS nemesis Andrew Mannering's company, Trucott Solutions Inc., by the 2nd/3rd seasons.
  • Professional Killer: A few episodes have this as the plot. Daisy, aside from being a M16 agent deployed to Toronto, is a black ops assassin originally sent in to kill a Nigerian drug dealer to prevent a crisis from erupting back in Britain.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mike Kessler.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The building used as the fictional ICS headquarters was formerly the terminal for the short-lived fast ferry that connected Toronto and Rochester, NY. It was considered ideal thanks to the full-featured customs facilities left over from its original purpose, which could stand in for customs areas at an airport.
  • Retired Badass: ICS chief Mike Kessler is a former Major in Joint Task Force 2, the Canadian military's elite special forces unit .
  • Shaky Cam: The damn camera does not stay still for longer than a nanosecond on this show. Shots are sweeping in every possible direction as well as snap zooming in and out. The cameraman was probably weaving like a drunk to achieve the effect.
  • Shout-Out: Resident computer-hacking expert Slade is fond of these, Khalida to a lesser extent.
  • The Atoner: See He Who Fights Monsters.
  • The Conscience: The point of the entire show. The creators said in an interview that they wanted the show to be compared like 24 "with a human conscience."
  • The War on Terror: Some of the episodes either have this or a mix of this with other subplots. One of the episodes is set in Afghanistan.
  • Token Minority: There are in ICS, given that Canada is a multinational country. You got Layla (South Asian), Darnell (African) and Khalida (Algerian). In DHS, you got Bianca (Cuban-American from Florida) and Liz (Asian-American from Idaho).
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Portrayed in some episodes concerning Afghanistan and Iraq.


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