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Series / The Missing

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The Missing is a British crime drama series written by Jack and Harry Williams, that first aired in 2014. It revolves around the search for missing British children who disappeared without a trace under suspicious circumstances.

The first series revolves around the search for a young boy named Oliver Hughes, who went missing eight years ago whilst vacationing with his parents in France, with the police deciding to reopen the case after new evidence is found. It stars James Nesbitt as Tony Hughes, Oliver’s father, Frances O’Conner as Oliver’s mother Emily and Tchéky Karyo as Julien Baptiste, the French detective heading the investigation.


The second series, which aired in 2016, revolves around Baptiste investigating the case of a missing teenage girl, Alice Webster, in Germany, which also stars David Morrissey as Sam Webster, Alice’s father, and Keeley Hawes as Gemma Webster, Alice's mother.

There's a spin-off series known as Baptiste, which takes place after Julien survives his surgery. It aired the first episode on February 17, 2019.

Not to be confused with the 2003 film The Missing or the young adult novel series The Missing.


Tropes found in this series include:

  • Anachronic Order: Both series cut back and forth between the present day events and to when the kids first went missing. In fact, Series 2 feature three timelines which are rotated between; when Alice went missing, when she came back and the present.
  • Asshole Victim: Ian Garrett. He was a paedophile who abused numerous children and may well have killed his own daughter to cover up his abuse of her too, also driving his wife to have a breakdown that leaves her near catatonic out of grief over her missing daughter. To really hammer it home, Baptiste eventually figures out that Tony killed him, but doesn’t bother pursuing it because of what a monster he was.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Two decidely non-comedic examples.
    • In the first series, Emily visits her young stepson-to-be in hospital and he seemingly calls her "mum"...only for it to turn out he's actually asking for his biological mother, who isn't present. The look on her face when she realises is heartbreaking.
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    • In the second series, Eve is heavily pregnant in 2014...but has no baby in 2016. There are other hints that strongly imply something bad happened especially after she accidentally falls on her stomach, starts bleeding and having stomach pains and is rushed to hospital for a C-section. After the operation, she is seen looking despondently at a couple with a newborn, implying the baby didn't make it...only for it to turn out the baby is fine - Eve didn't keep the baby because she was actually acting as a surrogate for her sister and brother-in-law. She's still clearly affected by it though, grieving the loss of the child she carried but couldn't keep, even though she knew from the start what the end result was going to be.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Series 2. Sam dies of his wounds, but at least he dies knowing Alice is alive and safe. Sophie is freed from her abuser, is able to stay with her daughter and, although she’s got a long way to go, she is reunited with her father and has a chance to live a normal life. Baptiste is also finally getting surgery for his brain tumour. Although we don’t know if he lives or not, he at least reconciled with his wife and was able to find Sophie and Alice and bring their abductor to justice.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Eve towards her father after she discovers he helped cover up the kidnapping of Sophie and Alice, the murder of Henry Reed and is generally an unscrupulous bastard. She doesn't really bother wasting energy calling him out on it though because he has Alzheimer's and can't even remember what he did half the time.
    • Henry Reed's son towards him after finding out about his Dark Secret.
  • Bunker Woman: Gettrick kept three girls: Lena, Alice, and Sophie kidnapped as sex slaves in his basement.
  • Cassandra Truth: In Series 2, no one believes Baptiste (and Gemma, too, eventually) about 'Alice' not really being Alice.
  • Cool Old Guy: Julien Baptiste is retirement age, but is still a brilliant detective who always tries to follow through on cases to the bitter end. In the second series, he actually goes into a war zone as part of his investigation into two missing girls everyone else had given up on, whilst suffering from a brain tumor.
  • Downer Ending: Series 1. Or at best, a Bittersweet Ending with heavy emphasis on the Bitter. Oliver is dead after all and they never find out where his body is buried. Nobody is really brought to justice for it; of the only two people definitely identified as being involved, one kills himself and the other is already dying a slow death from blood cancer, which is considered punishment enough (that, and living with the guilt of what he did). Although Emily is able to finally get closure over Oliver’s death and move on with her life, poor Tony goes completely off the deep end, convinced his son is still alive and obsessively searching for him across Europe with no hope of succeeding. At least Baptiste can go home to his wife and reconciles with his daughter, who is starting to kick her drug addiction.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • In the first series, Vincent Bourg hangs himself, unable to live with the fact he's a paedophile.
    • In the second series, Sophie Giroux's mother leaps off a building after her husband is accused of being involved in her daughter's disappearance and giving up hope she will ever be found.
    • Alice apparently committed suicide due to being unable to handle adjusting to her old life after escaping capture. However, it's revealed that 'Alice' actually faked her suicide to cover up the death of another girl and escaped to go back to her kidnapper.
    • Henry Reed's death is ruled a suicide after he's found with a gunshot to the head in his own home. However, his son doesn't believe he would've killed himself and it turns out, he's right.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Websters are this in 2016, having been utterly broken by their daughter's abduction and suicide. Sam is having an affair, not engaging in therapy and throws himself into his work. Gemma meanders through her life, finding little joy in any of it, whilst obsessing over her theory that the 'Alice' they got back wasn't really her daughter and that she's still alive somewhere. Matthew is a complete mess emotionally, due to his father blaming him partly for Alice's death, spending his days slacking off and drinking or doing drugs with delinquents, despises his father and knows he's cheating on his mother. None of them even speak to each other much anymore, despite living under the same roof. They start coming back together again towards the end, even though Gemma asks for a divorce, and work together to help Baptiste find Alice.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Alice, big time. It’s not surprising, seeing how she’s been kept inside/underground almost constantly for years and is very messed up psychologically from being kidnapped and abused.
  • Evil All Along: Adam Gettrick is this to the Websters. He pretends to be very sympathetic to Gemma and Sam in his role as base press officer, but it is utterly untrue. note 
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Done in both series 1 and 2, partly to help make it easier to keep track of what year it is. Emily has short blonde hair in 2006, whilst in 2014, her hair is long and dark (possibly to indicate how she's trying to move on with her life, especially as her missing son has blonde hair). Gemma has long hair in 2003 and 2014, whilst in 2016, she has short hair (possibly because short hair is lower maintenance and she's stopped taking care of herself to an extent). Baptiste get's a Time-Passage Beard (in the first series, to mark the difference between 2006 and 2014; in the second series, to mark the difference between 2014 and 2016, where he's completely bald in the latter year due to chemotherapy).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first series, Baptiste walks with a noticeable limp in 2014, but doesn't have one in 2006, carrying the implication he got the injury that resulted in the limp whilst working on the Hughes case.
    • In a similar fashion, in Series 2 Sam has burn scars on one side of his face and body in 2016, but not before, hinting that he got them in an incident that occurred when Alice returned in 2014.
  • Freudian Excuse: It is heavily implied Adam kidnapping Sophie, Alice and Lena stems from being abused by his uncle as a child.
  • Genre Savvy: Baptiste in Series 2. He figures out almost right away that ‘Alice’ is actually Sophie.
  • Grief-Induced Split:
    • In Series 1, Tony and Emily divorce due to their grief over the disappearance of their young son, Oliver, while they're on holiday in France. While they still care about each other and even share a kiss, it's indicated that one of the main reasons they divorced was because Tony could never give up looking for Oliver (to the point where it consumed his life), while Emily had to accept her son was probably dead for the sake of her sanity. This makes things difficult when Tony finds new evidence that could explain what happened to Oliver.
    • In Series 2, Sam and Gemma stayed together after their daughter Alice was abducted. After she returned home but committed suicide from trauma (for which Sam blames himself), they still remained married, but by the present, their relationship is non-existent and they barely even talk to each other despite living under the same roof. Sam has also begun having an affair with a co-worker. Their relationship improves after they discover Alice may still be alive after all, but Gemma still tells Sam she wants a divorce. They don't hate each other, but by this point, their marriage has run its course.
  • Happily Married: Baptiste and his wife Celia. Emily and Tony were Happily Married, until their son vanished. In the end, she ends up becoming Happily Married to Mark.
  • Hate Sink: Series 2 features Adam Gettrick, the man responsible for abducting Sophie and Alice, as well as a third girl. They do a pretty good job making us passionately hate this guy. Not only is a sadistic rapist who holds two later revealed to be three teenagers captive in either his basement or an underground bunker, he tries to brainwash them into believing he loves them drags his friends into it by trying to get them to help him cover it up, killing one of his friend’s when he calls him out, frames an innocent man for his crimes, killed one of the girls he kidnapped for refusing to obey him, re-traumatises the Websters to keep his secret, feigns sympathy for them and lies to their freaking faces whilst they’re going to pieces over their missing daughter and kills a cop and Sam. And to top it all off when he finally gets caught, he has the nerve to claim everything he did was out of love for the girls he abused and tortured.
  • Hope Spot: Series 2 has an especially nasty one that forms a main plot point. Alice returns to her family, having seemingly escaped her kidnapper and they are overjoyed to have her back. However, she then commits suicide, unable to cope with the trauma and adjusting to normal life again. That being said, it actually turns out that the ‘Alice’ that came back wasn’t Alice at all and she faked her death; the real Alice is still very much alive and is reunited with her family in the end.
  • Missing Child: It's right there in the title.
  • Never Found the Body: If Oliver is dead, his body was never found, although his parents are holding out hope he’s still alive. It’s strongly implied that he is indeed dead by the end, but they still don’t find his body, as the only person who knows where it is offs himself.
  • Red Herring: In the first series, Ian Garrett turns out to be a paedophile who is strongly hinted to be involved in Oliver’s disappearance…only for it to turn out he actually had nothing to with it.
  • The Reveal: Many, given the nature of the show.
  • Revisiting the Cold Case: The plots of both series involve this, especially the first, where the case into Oliver's disappearance is reopened after eight years with no new leads in all that time.
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
  • Scars are Forever: Sam's burn scars in 2016. Played with in that he could actually get surgery to treat them, but refuses (he tells his wife the treatment is too expensive even though he could it on insurance). It's implied this is out of guilt and self-loathing, as he got them trying and failing to save Alice when she deliberately set fire to the shed whilst she was still in it.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Gemma. In 2016, she dresses very plainly and simply, in particular constantly wearing a bulky cardigan, to imply she's stopped making an effort with her appearance. The cardigan in particular seems to act as a security blanket of sorts for her, as she's often seen wrapping it around herself.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Alice is implied to have a bit of this after returning home, stating that there were times when she was happy with her kidnapper and that he sometimes let her go outside, though never seemed to consider trying to run away. As it turns out, she’s actually Sophie and a severe case of this, to the point where she willingly took part in an elaborate scheme to pass herself off as Alice, fake her death and then return to her kidnapper so they could ‘be a family’ together.
  • That One Case: The abductions of Sophie Giroux and Alice Webster for Baptiste, to the point where he foregoes potentially life-saving surgery to remove a brain tumor to try and solve the case, in the event that he dies.
  • Wham Shot: In the finale of Series 2, the characters are seen gathered around a coffin at a funeral. The next shot reveals Sam's picture on top of the coffin, revealing he died of his injuries, although the last time we saw him he was being rushed to hospital, leaving at least a suggestion he would've pulled through and thus making the reveal all the more impactful.