A mass disappearance of people totaling two percent of the world's population has wreaked havoc among the disappeared people's family and friends. After three years, the world's religious and scientific communities have no concrete answers as to what happened.
The story revolves around residents of a town called Mapleton (which itself lost 100 people), and amid the ordinary residents trying to live out their lives in the aftermath of the mass disappearances, others have not dealt so well with what has happened.
The first season of the show loosely follows the plot of the book; it was picked up for a second and then a third season; at the same time the third season was announced, it was also said it would be the show's last.
Provides examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: The first season covers the entirety of the book, so anything going forward (including the second season and beyond) is unique to the TV series.
- Apocalypse Cult: Several are known to have formed.
- The Guilty Remnant, people who wear all white, chain-smoke and never speak aloud. They dedicate their lives to reminding people of the Great Departure, specifically targeting those that were personally affected by it.
- Wayne's cult, led by Holy Wayne. He can supposedly take away the pain of others by hugging them. These guys are so fanatically loyal that they'll fire on the cops to protect him.
- The Barefoot People, people who paint targets on their heads and never wear shoes. Apparently it's to help God target them for the next Great Departure.
- Arc Words:
- "Are you a good man?" or variants, directed at Kevin Garvey.
- "I don't understand" and the reply "You understand".
- The first season starts and ends on days to remember people, starting on the day to remember those taken, and ending on Memorial Day.
- One of the first and last things that Garvey does in the first season is approach a dog in the street.
- The first two seasons end with a once peaceful town (Mapleton in Season 1, Jarden in Season 2) falling into anarchy and flames. And in both cases, the Guilty Remnant are the cause.
- Quite literally in the season 3 titles: episode 1 is "The Book of Kevin", episode 8 is "The Book of Nora".
- Brick Joke: One of the Series 1 gags was that the entire cast of Perfect Strangers vanished in the Departure. In the Season 2 opener, "Axis Mundi," it's revealed that Mark Linn-Baker faked his disappearance, and has been found alive in South America. In Season 3, he makes an appearance as a messenger for the group purporting to send people to the destination of the Departures.
- Caught Up in the Rapture: The exact nature of the disappearance is unclear, but many people straight away jump to the conclusion that it is indeed the Biblical Rapture. Not everyone is sold on the idea, however, and there are constant televised debates. Matt Jamison runs a newsletter that is dedicated to proving that many of those taken certainly would not have qualified under Rapture logic.
- Chekhov's Gun: The "Departure dolls" are advertised and shown in a few Season 1 episodes, before having a major role in the season finale.
- Daydream Surprise: Predominantly in the first season. Kevin's dreams start out like real scenes but then a surreal element comes in at which point we know it's another of his Bad Dreams.
- A Day in the Limelight:
- "Two Boats and a Helicopter", "No Room at the Inn", and "It's a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World" focus on Matt Jamison.
- "Guest", "Don't Be Ridiculous", and "The Book of Nora" focus on Nora Durst.
- "International Assassin" and "The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)" are focused on Kevin Garvey.
- "Axis Mundi" introduces and focuses on the Murphys, with the Garveys appearing in more of a background role.
- "Ten Thirteen" is focused on Meg Abbott.
- "Crazy Whitefella Thinking" follows Kevin Garvey Sr's travels in Australia.
- "Certified" centers on Laurie.
- Dream Sequence: Lots of them, adding to the surreality of the show.
- Fanservice: The series hardly runs on this, but there is both male and female nudity - Kevin in particular shows several times that Aimee (Jill's best friend) is correct about him being ripped.
- Feedback Rule: Whenever a character grabs a microphone of megaphone, it will produce a feedback. Could have made for a Drinking Game, if those situations would have arisen more frequently.
- Government Agency of Fiction: The ATF has become ATFEC; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives and Cults. Post-Departure, their primary focus is on wiping out cults with extreme prejudice.
- There's also the Department of Sudden Departures, which Nora works for. Their main focus seems to be paying out benefits to the family of people who departed and investigating Departure related fraud.
- How We Got Here: S3E1 ends with Nora looking many years older, living in Australia under the name "Sarah," and denying ever having known a man named "Kevin." The rest of the season jumps back in time to show how we got here.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Instances of the Guilty Remnant being abused are often interspersed with them being creepy or vicious.
- When one of the members is murdered, the scene immediately follows a sequence of her and her partner being assholes, such as ignoring an old man who has fallen down right in front of them.
- The ATF implies that it wipes out chapters of the GR for towns that are tired of dealing with their crap. Their authority has been expanded to include cults, apparently with the purpose of harshly cracking down.
- Lonely Piano Piece: Many, but The Departure and Departure (Home) are the most notorious.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The show often teases people or circumstances to be supernatural. Sometimes it's later revealed that they are not while other circumstances are never resolved completely.
- No one knows why people were disappeared, so no one knows whether it has a scientific or supernatural/religious explanation. It's telling that the song over the season two opening titles is Iris DeMent's "Let The Mystery Be."
- Garvey's clinically-insane father hears voices that seem to be prophetic. It's not clear whether they have a supernatural origin or if he just has hallucinations (he's in a mental institution when first seen).
- Holy Wayne's ability to hug a person's pain away. Is it a real supernatural gift or just a hug? On the brink of death, he admits that even he doesn't know whether he's a fraud. Tellingly, Tom copies Wayne's techniques and seems to get the same results while knowing that he's just pulling a con.
- The Dog Killer was initially teased as being a figment of Kevin's imagination. Although he's later established to be a real person (known to the people of Mapleton as "Dean"), no one has managed to find any identifying information on him. He says that he thinks of himself as a "guardian angel." Season 3 reveals that he's a mundane, paranoid psychopath, and he gets gunned down while trying to murder Kevin for laughing at his delusions.
- "The Garveys at Their Best" shows several strange events happening in the days prior to the Great Departure. A random woman drives up to Garvey on the day of the Departure and asks if he's ready, only to say she had the wrong person. Patti is shown to have had premonitions of "something terrible" happening, and sensed that "something wrong inside" Laurie. Kevin spots a deer with a shining light on it's head; this is later revealed to be the reflective side of a party balloon that says "It's a Girl!" It's revealed that Laurie is pregnant, but the child disappears in the departure in utero.
- In the second season, the town of Jarden, Texas, had no Departures. Something divine, or just a statistical anomaly? For what it's worth, the town has wasted no time earning sweet tourism bucks off it, even being declared a national park.
- Is the hotel that Kevin finds himself in really some sort of afterlife, or is it just a near-death hallucination? While a hallucination would be the simpler answer, there are a number of hints that it might be real, such as the fact that Kevin finds Virgil in the hotel despite being unconscious when Virgil shoots himself (doing it explicitly so he could guide Kevin there as well).
- Kevin's repeated instances of coming back from the dead. Is he special or just lucky?
- Matt meets an Australian man on a ferry who claims to be God. In spite of watching the man murder someone and apprehending him, Matt starts to believe the man's claims... until he stops believing him, and the man is killed by a lion at the end of the episode.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers often play up certain shots which have a supernatural air to them, only for the actual scenes to end up far more mundane.
- Numerological Motif: Season three focuses on 7 and multiples thereof, mainly a prediction that the seventh anniversary of the Departure will see something like it happen again.
- Out of Focus: Tom and Jill are barely present in Season 3.
- Quirky Town: The town of Jarden, Texas, is the only place where there were no departures. As such, the people there tolerate a bunch of weird behavior (such as the guy who regularly slaughters goats in front of people) because they believe this weirdness protected them.
- Replaced the Theme Tune:
- Season two has completely different opening sequence and song from season one.
- Episodes 2 through 7 of season three have a piece of music relevant to the episode playing over season two's intro sequence, including, in a twist on this trope, the original theme music.
- Riddle for the Ages: Why did the Departures happen? Where did the people go? The series finale has Nora claim that she visited an alternate dimension of the Earth where only the Departed people are still there. Whether this is true or just a story she tells herself is left ambiguous.
- Sequel Goes Foreign: The second season has the Garveys move from Mapelton (NY) to Jarden (Texas). The third season moves the conflict to Australia.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: The Frost twins, often used to provide some comic relief, are absent from the last few episodes of the first season. Aimee, too, after a fight with Jill.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Just about everybody is potty-mouthed (Patti to Kevin Garvey in "Cairo": "Am I still a 'fat, heartless cunt'?"), but the mayor in particular seems unable to utter a sentence without an f-bomb.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Meg, who kills herself in the novel.
- She dies in the first episode of Season 3 though, subverting this trope.
- Stepford Smiler:
- "The Garveys at Their Best" reveals that Mapleton was full of them before the Departure.
- Kevin seems to have a perfect life, but he's dissatisfied and his marriage has no communication. He takes jogs to smoke cigarettes and brood. Laurie, meanwhile, is hiding her pregnancy from her husband and considering an abortion.
- Matt is a charismatic and casual figure in public, but he's plagued by health concerns that he cannot share with his wife. Laurie comments that they are very good at covering up their worries.
- In season two, the Murphys are introduced as a wholesome and loving family. It soon becomes clear that they have serious and unacknowledged dysfunction.
- "The Garveys at Their Best" reveals that Mapleton was full of them before the Departure.
- Survivor Guilt: Naturally, slews of people who lost loved ones are wracked with this. It's also what drives the Guilty Remnant.
- There Are No Therapists: Seriously, you'd think the profession would be experiencing a major boom in the wake of the Departure. Instead, the only instance of this trope being averted is Garvey being forced to visit the police therapist after he shot all those dogs in the pilot, and the mayor actively encourages him to just tell the therapist what he wants to hear. For an added bit of irony, "The Garveys at Their Best" shows that Laurie was a therapist before joining the Guilty Remnant, and Patti was one of her clients. "Heal thyself," indeed.
- Time Skip: The series frequently skips ahead in time, from months to years.
- "B.J. and the A.C." has Christine barely a month along in her pregnancy, only for her to give birth in "Solace for Tired Feet", three episodes later. The season finale is set on Memorial Day, about seven months after the pilot.
- Season 3 picks up almost in the same week as the last episode of season 2... then after the drone strike on the visitor's center jumps ahead three years.
- The series has a Distant Finale.
- Title Drop: Several season two episodes have the episode title mentioned in them, like "A Most Powerful Adversary" and "I Live Here Now."
- Theme Music Withholding: Every episode of Season 3 has a different song playing over the credits, until the finale uses the show's de facto theme song, Iris DeMent's "Let The Mystery Be".
- Town with a Dark Secret: Jarden, Texas, is a town that had zero departures. It presents itself as a holy community to become a pilgrimage destination and get fat on tourism money. In reality, it's just as dysfunctional as any other town. Perhaps more so.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: Unless it's a A Day in the Limelight episode, the story will usually involve two or more plotlines competing with another.
- Vagueness Is Coming:
- The elder Garvey is not exactly descriptive when explaining what is going on to Kevin. Neither is Patti in the next episode. "The Garveys at Their Best" shows that Patti had this trait prior to the Great Departure as well.
- Season Three kicks off 2 weeks before the 7th anniversary of the Great Departure. Matt Jamison, his congregation, and many others believe something monumental is going to happen this time around, but no one knows or says what it will be. As it turns out, nothing happens whatsoever, aside from a brief storm.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: An ongoing problem for Kevin. In "Solace for Tired Feet", Garvey waits in his living room by the radio listening for news of his father, who has escaped from the psych ward. He nods off, has a strange dream with Dean and a dog in a mailbox, then wakes up in bed to find he managed to catch and leash a wild dog in his back yard, apparently with the intent to domesticate it. He also got bit for his trouble, which Aimee helped him bandage. Though he tries to deny it, Aimee figures out pretty quickly that he doesn't remember any of it. What's more concerning is the fact that he was sober at the time, so he ends up blaming it on the pills he was taking. It happens again in "Cairo", with the implication that it's happened several times before, only this time he kidnapped Patti and took her to another city.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Mapleton, New York is fictional, but we learn it's within a few hours drive of Cairo, New York, which does exist.
Episode 1 — Pilot
- Adult Fear: The opening scene in which a woman loses her baby to the Great Departure.
- Blindfolded Trip: Tom aks the congressman to wear blindfolds when taking him Wayne's hideout.
- Country Matters: Jill refers to that team mate she punched out on the field as a cunt.
- Downer Beginning: It doesn't get any more depressing than the sudden disappearance of 2% of the world's population, as highlighted by a mother losing her child.
- Hysterical Woman: The mother how freaks out after her baby vanished.
- Meaningful Background Event: In the first scene, our attention is focused on the woman losing her child and the boy calling out for his father. This is the great Departure. In the background, a car screeches to a halt and a moment later a second one plows into it. It isn't until two episodes later we learn that Matt Jamison and his wife, Mary, are in the first car. Further, Mary is injured so badly that three years later she is catatonic.
- Mood Dissonance: Called out over the term "Heroes Day" for memorializing the departed.Councillor: I still don't think they were heroes. My brother-in-law disappeared, and he was a dipshit.
Matt Jamison: It wasn't the Rapture! They were no better than us! I have proof! Free of charge! (waves papers) She beat her children! She beat her children! Does that sound like a good person to you?
- Wild Teen Party: Jill attends a wild teen party featuring pounding club music, flashing colored lights, drinking, drugs, casual sex and even self-mutilation.
Episode 2 — Penguin One, Us Zero
- Apologetic Attacker: Tom apologizes to the police man he shot in the neck.
- Blatant Lies: "Not a cult," Laurie says of the Guilty Remnant. This while using textbook brainwashing methods on Meg to recruit her.
- This Is the Part Where...: Kevin brings this up in conversation with one of his officers.Kevin: Dennis, do you think I made this guy up?'(Silence)Kevin: This is the part where you say, "No, Chief, that's fucking ridiculous."
- Creator Cameo: Peter Berg, an executive producer on the show and director of the first two episodes, appears in a small role as one of Wayne's guards.
Episode 3 — Two Boats and a Helicopter
- Asleep for Days: Matt after getting hit with a rock. Rule of Drama applies to him rushing to the bank assuming it's still the day he got hit with the rock. After three days in bed without food he probably would have been tired out by the time he got out of the hospital and a half a block down the road, if not sooner, and the hospital staff would have absolutely stopped him from leaving.
- As You Know: Nora mentions stuff to her brother about their parents which only serves to inform the audience.Nora: They died in a fire when I was seven...
- Beware the Nice Ones: When a mugger tries to steal Matt's casino winnings, which he needs to save his church, Matt flips out and smashes the guy's head into the ground until he stops moving.
- Everybody Knew Already: Kevin Garvey Sr. assumed Matt would eventually be going after the stash of money in his yard, hence when Matt sneaks in and digs it up, there's already a note inside saying Matt probably really needed it and is welcome to it.
- A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: Subverted. It looks like Matt is gonna lose his new won money to a thug outside the casino but he manages to hold on to the bag.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Because Matt stopped to help a member of the GR who is hit with a rock, he ended up losing his church to the very GR.
- The Patient Has Left the Building: Matt leaves the hospital on his own terms after being Asleep for Days.
- Poor Communication Kills: The nurse doesn't out-and-out tell Matt he's been Asleep for Days, and is instead being vague because the plot demands it for Rule of Drama.
- Shout-Out: The title of this episode is based on a joke about religious faith.
- Trauma Swing: When Matt Jamison goes to unbury the money meant for him in the Garveys' garden, he finds Laurie sitting on the swing set.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Facing the possibility that his church will be sold, Jamison is apparently given signs from God that allow him to win enough money gambling to keep it. As he's on his way to pay the bank, he sees a member of the Guilty Remnant get hit with a very large rock. He tries to call 911, but the guys that threw the first rock come back and hit him with another. He wakes up in the hospital and seems to still have enough time to reach the bank before closing. Only when he reaches the bank does he realize that he's actually three days overdue, and, just to rub salt in the wound, it's the Guilty Remnant that bought his church. He gets to keep his huge surplus of cash though, so his money troubles are over for the time being.
Episode 4 — B.J. and the A.C.
- Give Me a Sign: Tom nearly gives up on Wayne's cult, insisting that Wayne call the phone he was given with some kind of explanation. The phone rings... but it's just a telephone ad. He sticks around anyway.
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Tom is able to walk back into a hospital he ran out of while pursued by cops by disguising himself as a member of the Barefoot People. People pay more attention to the target on his forehead and lack of shoes than his face.
- Reverse Psychology: A library fundraiser is held. Garvey asks Patti nicely to leave the event alone, believing that this would make the GR more likely to show up and give him an excuse to jail them all during the Christmas season. Unfortunately for him, they see through the gambit and plan accordingly.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: A subplot has Garvey trying to find a stolen baby Jesus from a nativity scene. He is initially told to just buy a replacement and scruff it up a bit, but since his daughter called that cheating (and is responsible for stealing it), he instead intimidates her friends into returning it. When he tries to put it back, Matt Jamison has beat him to the punch, replacing the cheap toy store doll with a superior version he had lying around. Garvey just chucks the doll out his window on the way home.
- Shout-Out: Laurie dropping the lighter into the grid and later recovering it is a reference to Strangers on a Train.
- Viking Funeral: Jill's friends try to egg her into giving the stolen baby Jesus doll one of these. She ultimately can't go through with it, and her friends end up giving the doll to Garvey so he won't arrest them.
Episode 5 — Gladys
- Deadly Euphemism: While speaking with Chief Garvey on the phone, ATFEC Agent Calaney offers to make the Guilty Remnant 'disappear' from Mapleton, permanently. Kevin refuses the offer, which he later regrets.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Gladys, a member of the Guilty Remnant, is brutally stoned to death.
- Swiss Cheese Security: At the conference Nora goes to, her name badge is taken by someone else, apparently without having to offer so much as an ID to get it. The thief is then able to break a bar mirror, somehow avoid getting immediately caught so the real Nora is blamed, and then join the conference posing as Nora without security ever noticing. Hotel security is also thoroughly unhelpful, kicking Nora out immediately even though she clearly outlines how someone stole her badge and could easily impersonate her. They do eventually check her story and realize their mistake, and make up for it by comping all her hotel expenses.
Episode 6 — Guest
- Burying a Substitute: After about 2% of the world's population just suddenly vanishes, with no apparent cause and No Body Left Behind, a company comes around that will build expensive, lifelike dolls that look like the deceased for a mock burial.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Nora to the partying convention-goers. They refer to her by her temporary name badge "Guest" and she never sets them straight.
- Platonic Prostitution: Nora hires prostitutes to shoot her while she's wearing a bullet-proof vest.
- Reckless Gun Usage: Nora's method of dealing with the grief and guilt over losing her entire family to the Sudden Departure is to hire prostitutes to shoot her in the chest. Granted, she's wearing a bulletproof vest and lands on a mattress, but it's implied that most, if not all, of the hookers refuse to come back for a second go-round.
- Shrine to the Fallen: Nora keeps the room of her children as they left it and even renews the cornflakes boxes in the kitchen ever so often.
Episode 7 — Solace for Tired Feet
- The Call Knows Where You Live: Literally for Chief Garvey, as the Call comes in the form of his father who knows his home address.
- It May Help You on Your Quest: When Chief Garvey's father decides it's time for his son to learn about his destiny, he breaks out of the psych ward and goes on a search to pick up... a 1970 National Geographic magazine, apparently because there's something important about that specific issue.
- Mobstacle Course: When Kevin's father flees from the police car, Kevin runs after him but a group of Guilty Remnant is in his way. Naturally he has to bump into every single one of them and losing track of his father in the process.
- Three-Month-Old Newborn: Christine's newborn looks three month old.
- Woman Scorned: When the other Asian girl learns that she is not the only one Wayne "planted his seed in", she grabs a gun and shoots at Tom.
Episode 8 — Cairo
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Patti died in Kevin's arms.
- Driven to Suicide: Patti.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Patti Levin stabs herself in the neck with a shard of glass.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Kevin has one when seeing his white shirts hung up on the woods.
- Ironic Juxtaposition: The episode opens with Patti carefully laying out sets of clothing intercut with scenes of Garvey preparing for dinner with Nora.
- Motive Rant: Patti gives one to Kevin.
- Precision F-Strike: Even by the show's standards, Meg's outburst to Matt is notable. As is Jill replying to Michael asking her not to swear in the church they're in at the time ("A Most Powerful Adversary") by cursing even louder ("Fuck! FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!")... and then commenting on the lack of lightning bolts.
- Stacy's Mom: Aimee seems to have a bit of a crush on Mr. Garvey. During an argument, Jill openly accuses her of sleeping with him.
Episode 9 — The Garveys at Their Best
- Adult Fear: Laurie, who was receiving a pregnancy ultrasound at the time of the departure, saw her baby disappear in utero.
- Brick Joke: In "Gladys", Patti reminds Laurie of a conversation they had before the Great Departure, illustrated by a white bag with a name on it which she leaves at the doorstop of a house. This episode shows this was Laurie's idea: the bag represents all of her repressed feelings, and the house belongs to her husband.
- Cassandra Truth: Patti mentions in a therapy session with Laurie that she feels the world is gonna end. Laurie doesn't believe her.
- Fanservice: The woman who Kevin is cheating on Laurie with is also very attractive and naked when she vanishes.
- Happy Birthday to You!: This episode was shot a year before the lyrics to "Happy Birthday to You" moved into public domain so it's no surprise that we hear "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" sung instead of "Happy Birthday" at Kevin Sr.'s birthday party.
- Mercy Kill: Garvey shoots a deer that was still alive after being run down by a car.
- Parting Words Regret: We discover that Nora's last interaction with her family was yelling at her daughter for spilling her juice over the cellphone. She's never gotten over that fact.
- Silent Credits: The final shot is Laurie's stunned reaction to seeing that her unborn child, which she'd just seen via ultrasound, has vanished. To maintain the mood, even the Warner Bros. Television logo is silent, with the only sound accompanying the "TV switching off" Home Box Office logo at the very end.
- Wham Episode: A Whole Episode Flashback taking place in the last days before the Departure. After 8 episodes spent with these characters, we suddenly see what their lives were like just before the Departure, and it changes or explains a lot about who they are now and why.
- Whole Episode Flashback: This episode is set in the days before the Great Departure, ending at the moment it happened.
Episode 10 — The Prodigal Son Returns
- In the pilot, Garvey says that people are ready to explode when Lucy says Memorial Day is meant to help them move on. In the season finale, set a year later on the same holiday, a riot breaks out in response to the GR's latest stunt and Lucy admits that he was right.
- The corpse dolls mentioned in episode 6 make an appearance.
- Carpet-Rolled Corpse: Patti is rolled up in a carpet and then carried into the forest for burial.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: The Mayor, who began to question Kevin's obsession with the Guilty Remnant, sees him on the street in the finale and tells him he was right.
- Also the attitude of the government cult agent towards the Guilty Remnant. The Guilty Remnant is far more destructive and sinister than they initially appear.
- Doorstop Baby: Tom places Christine's baby daughter on the porch for Kevin to find. But it's Nora who finds her first which makes her change her mind about leaving Mapleton.
- Epilogue Letter: Nora's farewell letter to Kevin is read out in her voice in the second-to-last scene of this season.
- Fanservice: Jill has a brief underwear scene but she's changing to put on a Guilty Remnant uniform at the time.
- Foreshadowing: As Matt drives Kevin back to Mapleton there's a news story about a manhunt on the radio. It's Holy Wayne, who is dying in the restroom where Matt and Kevin stop for lunch.
- Police Are Useless: The Guilty Remnant causes a riot throughout Mapleton by placing mannequins of the Departed in their loved ones' homes and the entire town is laid to waste, as no law enforcement comes to its aid because they're all sick of dealing with Departure cults.
- Rage Breaking Point: In a Call-Back all the way to the pilot, Garvey mentioned that people are ready to explode. The Guilty Remnant pull a stunt in the finale that finally pushes them over the edge, resulting in a full-blown riot against the GR.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Christine abandons Tommy and her newborn daughter when she learns that she is not Wayne's only 'Special' girl.
- Stay with Me Until I Die: Wayne asks this of Garvey, even getting him to humor a last request where he grants a wish. Though Wayne suspects that he's a fraud rather than a Messiah, if Garvey's wish comes true, at least that will be real.
- Viewers Are Goldfish: As the GR sets out to execute their latest stunt, there are several quick Flashback Cuts showing the various set-up phases (picture theft, corpse dolls, clothes), the latter two being only two episodes ago.
Episode 1 — Axis Mundi
- As You Know: John mentions to Isaac that they both have known each other since third grade.
- Destination Defenestration: During John's nightly raid, Isaac is thrown out of the window of his house.
- Fanservice: Evie and her friend Taylor streaking in the forest outside Jarden.
- Foreshadowing: Evie and her friends drive home from a swimming excursion in stony silence. This foreshadows that they've secretly joined the Guilty Remnant.
- Full-Name Ultimatum: John usually calls his daughter Evie but when they can't find her in her room after the earthquake, John leave an enraged message on her phone in which he calls her by her full name Evangeline.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Uplifting classic music plays over the muted Screaming Birth scene early on.
- Three-Month-Old Newborn: The child born to the prehistoric woman looks more like four month old.
Episode 2 — A Matter of Geography
- The Alleged House: The house Nora purchased for three million dollars turns out to be rundown.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Nora suggests that she and Kevin open up to each other if they're going to be a family unit. Kevin recounts his sleepwalking episodes - which leads into him kidnapping Patti, watching her commit suicide, and recruiting Matt to help bury her. He finishes his story with "And I smoke."
- Bungled Suicide: Kevin tries to drown himself via Cement Shoes but the earthquake puts a spanner in the works.
- For Want of a Nail: An MIT research group buys Nora's house because they're been studying anomalous Departures (specifically, large groups like her family). Through their research, they've come to the conclusion that the event was geographic in nature, and the act of walking over to use the sink because her kids spilled something on her phone spared Nora from being Departed as they were.
- Police Are Useless: Kevin confesses his role in Patti's death. The police tell him they simply don't care whether or not it happened.
Episode 3 — Off Ramp
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Disturbingly averted with Meg and Tom.
- Driven to Suicide: A horrifyingly literal example by Susan, a rescued former Guilty Remnant member, due to the trauma of her experience among them and knowing they'll go after her. She shuts her eyes and swerves her car into oncoming traffic, taking her family along with her.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Susan, the cult member who Tom and Laurie rescue at the beginning is still haunted by the Guilty Remnant - but she's reunited with her husband and son, who are happy to have her back. Then, realizing that they'll still be coming for her, she drives their car into oncoming traffic and kills herself and her family.
- Reusable Lighter Toss: Subverted. Meg has Tom soaked in fuel and threatens to drop Laurie's zippo onto him but it's only Fake Kill Scare message to Tom and Laurie for them to stop their business of "freeing" members of the Guilty Remnant.
- Taking You with Me: When Susan deliberately drives into oncoming traffic, she has her husband and son with her at the time.
Episode 4 — Orange Sticker
- Driven to Suicide: Kevin admits to Patti that, like her, he really wants to kill himself. As first seen in "A Matter of Geography", he survives thanks to the lake having vanished after he somnambulantly tied a brick to himself and jumped in.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: When Nora is awoken and Kevin is gone, she fears that another Departure has occurred and taken yet another person she loves. She breaks down and ultimately passes out.
- Impairment Shot: Early on, when Nora suspects that Kevin has departed, she drops to the ground and the camera goes with her.
Episode 5 — No Room at the Inn
- Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Discussed when Mary becomes pregnant, with people suspecting Matt had sex with her in her comatose state. Saying she woke up briefly and they had sex isn't believable to many. She wakes up again in "I Live Here Now," and confirms what happened.
- Fan Disservice: Ends with Matt stripping naked before being put in the stocks. Let's just say it isn't only the Ninth Doctor's ears that are big...
- Flashback Cut: When Matt finds the dead man in the car wreck, there's a short flashback to the scene where the man stole his wristband earlier in the episode, because Viewers Are Goldfish and couldn't make the connection themselves.
- Give Me a Sign: Matt demands this of god.
- Laser-Guided Karma: A man mugs Matt for his Jarden wristband, breaking his wrist and giving him a concussion. He's later hit by a truck and killed instantly.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Matt mentions that he and his wife tried to have children for ten years but then this one night they had when she awoke after three years was the time it actually worked.
- Male Frontal Nudity: When Matt takes his clothes off for his turn at the pillory.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Kevin got John to let Matt and Marie back into the town but then Matt makes John angry at the last moment so that the latter would change his mind and have Matt and his wife deported back to the camp.
- Only the Knowledgable May Pass: When Matt beseeches a fellow devout Christian for money in the camp outside Miracle (to bribe a coyote to smuggle him back in), she quizzes him on his scripture:Woman: What's your favorite book? Of the Bible.
Woman: What's his wife's name?
Matt: She isn't named. And she speaks only once. "Does thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God and die."
Episode 6 — Lens
- Armor-Piercing Question: Erika gets reprimanded by Nora for associating her actions with the disappearance of her daughter. In turn, Erika asks about Nora's kids, and whether they died or departed. Her follow-up is enough to cause Nora to break down in tears.Erika: What were the last words they said to you, to the best of your recollection?
- Window Pain: Serves as a Book-Ends. The episode begins with Nora angrily throwing a rock through the Murphys' window. At episode's end - after Nora has confronted Erika with the new DSD questionnaire, and as Kevin admits to Nora that he's being haunted by the ghost of Patti Levin, Erika returns the favor.
Episode 7 — A Most Powerful Adversary
- Ate His Gun: Virgil.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When Kevin and Laurie come clean with another about their relationship, Kevin says he still feels remorse over having being a dick when Laurie wanted a puppy. But Laurie had already forgotten about that incident.
- Death Is the Only Option: Virgil notes that Jill may be better off if Kevin let go and died.
- Was Just Leaving: When Kevin comes to Virgil's house, he bumps into a tense situation between Virgil and his grandson Michael. Virgil resolves the situation by announcing that Michael was just leaving which the latter grudgingly does.
- Wham Shot: The last scene. As Kevin lies dying on the floor, Virgil empties the syringe of adrenaline he promised to resuscitate Kevin with and then blows his own brains out.
Episode 8 — International Assassin
- Alternate Universe: When Kevin dies, he goes to an alternate reality where he's an assassin.
- Back from the Dead: Kevin is given a fatal amount of poison and buried, only to come back to life of his own volition after a spiritual journey. Michael, who witnesses this, gives an entirely understandable "Holy shit!" in response.
- Book-Ends: The episode begins with Kevin breaking the surface of water and ends with Kevin breaking the surface of soil.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: Patti died in Kevin's arms as a Call-Back to the ral death scene in.
- Heroic Suicide: It's revealed that Virgil shot himself to enter the afterlife and be Kevin's guide there.
- Lie Detector: Kevin is hooked up to one.
- Naked on Arrival: Kevin wakes up naked in a bathtub.
- Neck Snap: How Kevin offs the fat guy in the hotel corridor.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: A Spy Fiction episode in a mystery drama series.
- Politicians Kiss Babies: Discussed by Patti who is running for president.Patti: I was working my way through the crowd shaking hands and I see this fellow and he's waiting for me and he has a baby in his arms. And I'm thinking to myself, "Shit, now I'm gonna have to kiss that thing. Because that's what one must endure if you want to get elected."
- Professional Killer: Kevin plays the part.
- Raised Hand of Survival: Kevin's hand is the first thing we see when he rises from his grave at the end.
- Room Disservice: The guy delivering flowers to Kevin's room was out to kill him.
- Silent Whisper: Towards the end, the man on the bridge whispers something in Kevin's ear but we never learn what exactly it was.
- Thrown Down a Well: Kevin does this to little Patti.
- Trailers Always Lie: So as to not spoil the cliffhanger of "A Most Powerful Adversary", or give away the episode's Mind Screw events, trailers for "International Assassin" used clips that mostly consisted of footage from the episodes after it.
Episode 9 — Ten Thirteen
- Fake Kill Scare: Meg pulling the pin of a (fake) grenade on a bus of school kids.
- He Knows Too Much: The cyclist who got too close to the camp of the Guilty Remnant gets stoned on Meg's order.
- Spiteful Spit: Meg spits out in disrespect before entering the bus that would take her out from Jarden.
- Unflinching Walk: Meg walking away from the school bus, less the explosion.
- Wham Line: At the end, the answer to the question posed:Tom: Who are you?Evie: (doesn't speak but writes "It doesn't matter" on a notepad, conveying to him (and the viewers) that she and the other (not-so-)"departed" girls are members of The Guilty Remnant)
Episode 10 — I Live Here Now
- Back from the Dead: Kevin once again finds himself back at the hotel after being shot by John Murphy. This time he gets out of it by doing a karaoke performance of Simon & Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound" in the hotel bar.
- Fade to White: The transition from the rampage on the bridge to Kevin waking up in the hotel bathroom.
- Fan Disservice: The Guilty Remnant members who've been hiding in plain sight in the park disrobe to change into their white uniforms. Suffice to say not all of them are as attractive as Liv Tyler or Margaret Qualley.
- Ironic Echo: When Kevin confronts Meg in Jarden, Meg will only respond by singing the gospel theme song of Miracle, which she has utterly destroyed.
- Just a Flesh Wound: John Murphy shoots Kevin in the torso, sending Kevin back to the afterlife-or-is-it hotel. When Kevin comes back, the gunshot is not life-threatening and he's able to wander around the town with apparently only moderate pain. There might be some magic going on.
- Police Are Useless: The shit hits the fan in similar fashion as in the season 1 finale, when the Guilty Remnant lead a raid into the fortified town of Jarden. The non-members rampage through the city into the night, while the GR establish a base in the town's museum. Jarden police are simply hopelessly ill-equipped to deal with the calamity. That is until the season 3 premiere...
Episode 1 — The Book of Kevin
- Back for the Dead: The third season premiere has Dean the dog-hunter return only to die trying to murder Kevin and Tommy.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Goodbye, Guilty Remnant.
- Gas Leak Cover-Up: The drone strike on the Guilty Remnant members in Miracle is officially spun as a gas leak ignited by a cigarette, even though it happened in broad daylight and is well-known enough that pretty much anyone can look up the truth.
- Reality Ensues: The MASSIVE invasion of the town of Jarden, Texas by the Guilty Remnant led to serious civil unrest as droves of unsanctioned civilians came in with them and proceeded to loot and commit general anarchy. In response to this blatant act of domestic terrorism, ATFEC launches a drone strike on the visitor's center where the GR is holed up, wiping them all out in an instant.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: After the Guilty Remnant's stunt in season 2, the government apparently decides they're done with this nonsense and straight up orders a drone strike on the visitor's center they are holed up in.
- Voice with an Internet Connection: John gets instructions from Laurie via earpiece.
- Zip Me Up: Justified. Nora asks Kevin to help her zip down her dress because of the cast she's wearing.
Episode 2 — Don't Be Ridiculous
- Adam Westing: Mark Linn-Baker appears as a post-departure version of himself.
- As Himself: Mark Linn-Baker, revealed on the news to have faked his Departure, shows up as himself, delivering a message to Nora. In the process, he references his actual degrees from Yale.
- Asshole Victim: The Australian chief of police named Kevin kicks some dogs which makes it easier for the audience to accept his death by the hand of the old lady.
- Authentication by Newspaper: In the clips Nora is watching, the volunteers hold up newspapers to prove the day of recording.
- God Test: Imposed by Grace onto the police chief via water boarding. He fails the test.
- Home-Early Surprise: Nora returns home early from her journey only to bump into Kevin as he is about to suffocate himself via suicide bag. He then confesses to her that he only wanted to see how it felt.
- Instant Sedation: The Australian Kevin goes out from the Tranquillizer Dart in no time.
- Mercy Kill: The kangaroo hit by the car.
Episode 3 — Crazy Whitefella Thinking
- Unfamiliar Ceiling: When Garvey Sr. wakes up after being rescued from the desert, he finds himself in a room and his POV shot lingers on a globe hanging from the ceiling.
- When It Rains, It Pours: When Garvey Sr. is stranded in the desert at night it starts raining cats and dogs.
Episode 4 — G'Day Melbourne
- Coincidental Broadcast: Kevin spots Evie on his hotel room TV when a news report about a dead police chief named Kevin attracts his attention. Later Garvey Sr. spots Kevin on TV as well which prompts him to call all hotels in the city to find out where he is staying.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the opening scene, when the customs official checks Nora and Kevin's passports, a freeze frame reveals that both passports have expired (Nora's in 2013 and Kevin's in 2009), but they are still allowed to enter Australia.
- I See Them, Too: At first Kevin thinks that Evie is a projection like Patti but then he gets surprised when another man acknowledges her existence too.
- Use Your Head: Kevin gets headbutted in the streets by a man for harassing Evie.
Episode 5 — It's a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World
- Answer Cut: When the airplane is diverted to Tasmania, Matt's question "How the hell do we get to Melbourne?" is answered by a cut to a ferry.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The man who claims to be god can be seen earlier when boarding the ferry.
- Shaming the Mob: Subverted. When Matt mentiones the name "Frasier" he gets tied to a chair in order to "milk him". But he manages to free himself, picks up a megaphone and starts shaming the mob, but his words have no effect on the crowd and they start booing him.
- Shout-Out: The episode title is named after It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
- Two-Keyed Lock: The soldier on the submarine manages to turn both keys with his hand and foot.
- Wretched Hive: The love boat where Everybody Has Lots of Sex.
Episode 6 — Certified
- How We Got Here: The episode explains how Laurie showed up to the Ranch alone, in a stolen van with a black eye.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Laurie knows enough about Judas to compare herself to him, but didn't know he killed himself.
- Shout-Out: Laurie makes references to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:Laurie: Well, so everybody wants something. A brain, a heart, courage. Kevin's in the Emerald City. He's the one that's gonna give it to you.Garvey Sr.: All right, Dorothy. Let's have it.
- A Storm Is Coming: Garvey Sr. mentions it, fearing that it will be another biblical flood.
Episode 7 — The Most Powerful Man in the World
- Alternate Universe: In which Kevin is the President of the United States in a world where the GR has become a global power.
- Call-Back: Season 3 opens with a sequence set in the 1800s, which ends with a man sitting on a roof, confused as to why the world hasn't ended. In this episode, Kevin Sr. does the same thing.
- Dead Man's Trigger Finger: When Kevin is caught out by two security guards on the stairway, his accomplice snipes them down. While being hit the first guard turns around and shoots his fellow.
- Excuse Plot: Kevin is tossed in a cliche spy story where he is the only man alive to stop the president from starting a nuclear war.
- Naked on Arrival: Again, Kevin is naked when being washed up on the shore.
- Sitting on the Roof: The last scene. In anticipation of the great flood Garvey Sr. climbed on the roof. Kevin joins him for a chat after his return from the dead.
Episode 8 — The Book of Nora
- Alternate Universe: Nora claims that the Departure split the human population between two otherwise identical dimensions, one with 98% of the population and the other with 2% of the population.
- Chekhov's Gun: The goat and the beads.
- Convenient Slow Dance: Kevin and Nora dance to one at the wedding.
- Distant Finale: The majority of this episode takes place at least two decades into the future, with Nora now living in Australia under the alias of "Sarah".
- "Open!" Says Me: When the bathroom door jams up, Nora rams it in with her shoulder.
- Red Herring: Nora goes into the device that is supposed to send her to where the Departed went. She's next seen many years later in Australia, where Kevin locates her and claims that they've spoken to each other once. All of this teases the idea that Nora has been sent to an alternate dimension where her relationship with Kevin is different. Later, it's revealed that no, they're in the same dimension and Kevin is just trying to "start over." Nora does, however,' claim to have returned from an alternate dimension.