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"Evidence doesn't win the day. Jurors go with the narrative that makes sense. We're here to tell a story. Our job is to tell that story better than the other side tells theirs."
Johnnie Cochran
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The People v. O.J. Simpson is the first season of the Ryan Murphy-produced true crime anthology series American Crime Story, aired by FX in 2016.

Adapted from the non-fiction book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin, it covers the infamous O.J. Simpson murder trial that spanned eleven months between 1994 and 1995.

Cuba Gooding Jr.. stars as Simpson himself, while the cast is rounded out by Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran, Sterling K. Brown as Christopher Darden, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Selma Blair as Kris Jenner (née Kardashian), Nathan Lane as F. Lee Bailey, and Billy Magnussen as Kato Kaelin.


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The People v. O.J. Simpson contains examples of the following tropes:

  • 24-Hour Party People: Heavily implied in the resolution. OJ has a "not guilty" party thrown at his house and he gradually noticed that, other than a select few like his immediate family, he didn't actually know anyone there.
  • Absence of Evidence: In Episode 7, Robert Kardashian reveals to AC Cowlings that he's run over the case again and again in his head, reminiscing about Nicole and finding what he could about Goldman. With all the information and media coverage about the case, it's deeply troubling to him that NO other credible suspect or theory has popped up in regard to who killed Ron and Nicole.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Johnnie Cochran is fond of this. In "Manna from Heaven", when he requests the Fuhrman tapes from a North Carolina judge, he says: "It is important, it is imperative, it is indispensable that we return them to California." The judge rebukes him for his "gratuitous alliteration".
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  • All Periods Are PMS: When Marcia buys tampons in a shop, the cashier jokes: “Guess the defense is in for one hell of a week, huh?” Marcia isn't amused.
  • Amoral Attorney and Rules Lawyer: The Dream Team consists of these, with two exceptions. The first is Robert Kardashian, who genuinely believes that O.J. is innocent and wants to help him because they are friends. Johnny Cochran is also this to some extent, in that he is also truly convinced O.J. is a falsely accused black man, but is totally willing to use every trick at his disposal in what he sees as the just cause of proving O.J. innocent.
  • Anachronism Stew: Almost every shot of B-roll and outdoor scenes in Downtown Los Angeles depict landmarks that were built after the trialnote .
  • Artistic License – History:
    • While mostly praising Sarah Paulson's performance, Marcia Clark has said that, contrary to what the series shows, at no point did she ever suggest the death penalty for Simpson.
    • While the show has many other minor departures and alterations from its source material, "The Run of His Life" by Jeffrey Toobin, one of the more major ones may very well be the portrayal of Robert Kardashian. The show depicts him as a well-meaning, slightly naive and morally conflicted loyal friend of Simpson's, while Toobin in his book views Kardashian as a frantic, obsessive sycophant clinging to media attention out of envy for his ex-wife Kris Jenner's success in the media. Of course, others have also taken issue with Toobin's book and argued that many of the details in his book are flat out wrong (including members of the prosecution team). The basics of Kardashian's character arc, coming to doubt Simpson's innocence during the trial and their friendship dissolving afterwards, are undoubtedly true. So this is one instance where the TV adaptation may actually be more true to real life than the source material was.
    • Similarly, the portrayals of Clark and Christopher Darden are more sympathetic than in Toobin's book, as he paints the prosecutors as arrogant (Clark) and incompetent (Darden), whereas the show opts for a much more nuanced characterization of both.
    • Cochran's comment about Faye Resnick's tell-all book being trash was made by Lou Brown, Nicole's father, who dismissed the book as "T-R-A-S-H".
    • In "The Race Card", when the jury visits Simpson's house, some members are shown in his trophy room awing at his accomplishments out loud. In reality the jury was specifically instructed not to speak at all and the trophy room was off limits for the tour.
    • In the same episode, William Hodgman collapses in court of an apparent heart attack. In reality, Hodgman had complained of chest pains in a strategy session before the court appearance and was sent to the hospital as a precaution, where it was discovered it was actually a panic attack.
    • At the end of "The Race Card", Mark Fuhrman is seen polishing Nazi medals and paraphernalia, backed to the Richard Wagner composition "Die Meistersinger" (which was frequently played in Nazi propaganda during World War II). In real life, although there were allegations made about Fuhrman owning Nazi medals, it was never proven in court and was dismissed as hearsay.
    • Tracey Hampton is portrayed as faking a nervous breakdown in order to get out of jury duty. In reality, her repeated requests to be sent home were eventually granted by Judge Ito. However, she did have a nervous breakdown shortly after being released due to the media's harassment.
    • Ito is shown facepalming when he sees a TV parody of him. In real life Ito actually found the parodies of him very flattering. This may be shorthand for Ito's post-trial reluctance to engage with the media; to this day, he regularly refuses interviews and is one of the few major figures in the Simpson case not to write a book or memoir about it.
    • The scene where Clark and Darden snap at Ito and the defense for turning the trial into a media circus actually did happen, but it occurred much earlier during testimony from a different detective. Also, Darden's outburst occurred during a sidebar discussion with Ito and Cochran rather than while he was actually questioning the witness.
    • That said, the show exaggerates the behind-the-scenes tensions between the two legal teams for Rule of Drama. There was real heat between Cochran and Darden (who, naturally, didn't appreciate the former's race-baiting), but Clark says that she mostly got along well with Cochran and the other defense attorneys even though she deplored their heavy-handed courtroom tactics. By Clark's account, she and Darden were far angrier with Ito for not reining in the defense, blaming him in large part for the trial's outcome.
    • Cochran's famous line "If the glove don't fit, you must acquit" was actually written by Gerald Uelmen, another Simpson attorney who is not depicted in the miniseries.
    • Although "The Verdict" makes it seem as if the jury's four-hour deliberation happened in just one day (forcing the legal teams to cancel plans that they were en route to), it wasn't as fast in real life. The jury was dismissed after closing arguments on September 29, and were allowed to spend the weekend in their hotel. The jury started deliberations at 9 AM on October 2, and reached a verdict at 3 PM (four hours not counting re-listening to some testimony); Ito then announced that the verdict would be read the following morning. So while the decision was, in fact, abnormally fast, it wasn't quite the dramatic turn-around fiasco that happened in the series.
    • While Clark was raped, in real life it happened while she was in Israel rather than in Italy like in the show.
    • The Bill Clinton speech on race relations watched by Cochran and his law firm was actually given a year after the trial had finished and had nothing to do with the verdict.
    • O.J.'s speech about him searching for the real killers was written by him, but read by his son as part of a press conference. O.J never said the speech himself.
    • Contrary to what Darden in the show says, Clark had to put Fuhrman on the stand. While Fuhrman may not have been the one who entered the glove into evidence, he was the one who found it at the crime scene. If the prosecution didn't call him to testify, the defense would have.
    • In one scene Cochran gives an inspiring speech to O.J., mentioning a great game he had against the Atlanta Falcons in 1978, where O.J. was so good it inspired Johnnie to continue practicing law. O.J. remarks, "Yeah, I even scored a touchdown in that game." Juice's real life stats for that game: five carries for 15 yards, and no touchdowns.
  • As You Know: Conversations during the preparation of the case involve retreading of terms and explicit explanations that a seasoned lawman would not require, for the expository benefit of the audience.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: During the (in)famous White Bronco chase scene.
    911 dispatcher: (over the phone) Is everything okay?
    A.C. Cowlings: What kinda stupid-ass question is that?! NO, everything is not okay! Everything is terrible!
  • Badass Boast: When Shapiro attempts to convince F. Lee Bailey that he should take the case pro bono in order to "reintroduce [him]self to the public," Bailey gives a beautiful response:
    "I don't need reintroducing. I'm F. Lee Bailey."
  • Bad Liar:
    • O.J. seems one for sure, at least before Cochran builds his confidence up after visiting him in prison. Of particular note is O.J.'s initial recorded interview with the police in the immediate aftermath of the murders (lines taken from the actual real-life recording). O.J. doesn't just pick one answer and stick with it, but fumbles around desperately between different statements without making any coherent explanation.
    • Even after Cochran's coaching, the defense later decides they can't possibly put O.J. on the stand in his own defense, because in a mock cross-examination when he is directly asked about the confirmed incidents in which he beat his wife to a pulp, he very poorly tries to wave them aside as harmless bickering.
    • Shapiro can't hide that he believes O.J. to be guilty, no matter how many times he says otherwise.
  • Batman Gambit: Bailey and Cochran play Christopher Darden like a fiddle, baiting him into demanding that O.J. try on the gloves.
  • Beauty Inversion: Sarah Paulson's Marcia Clark is styled very frumpily, despite the former's obvious good looks. (Not that the real Marcia Clark was particularly hideous; it's only by Hollywood Beauty Standards that she would be considered ugly.)
  • Better Than Sex: Marcia references this trope by name in "The Dream Team", when her co-workers jokingly accuse her of being a "trial junkie".
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • In "Jury in Jail", the supremely agreeable juror Armanda Cooley ends up leading a revolt among the jurors after the deputies are suddenly swapped out.
    • Mark Fuhrman seems outwardly nice and polite, to both white and black co-workers. However, something seems slightly...off in how his responses are delivered, especially when speaking with Darden. It's enough to fool Clark and the other white members of the prosecution team, who don't believe Darden when he emphatically tries to convince them that as a black man, he can sense that Fuhrman is lying. Unfortunately, they don't believe Darden... and they learn too late that Fuhrman isn't just racist, he's what even Clark describes as one of the most vehement racists on the planet.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones:
    • In "100 Percent Not Guilty", Robert Shapiro tries to convince F. Lee Bailey to defend O.J. pro bono. Bailey responds by conspiring with Johnnie Cochran to let Cochran take over.
    • In "Jury in Jail", the Dream Team is shown to be mortally terrified of one of the alternate jurors - a little old white lady who has spent the whole trial quietly sitting and taking very thorough notes. They've even nicknamed her "The Demon". At the end of the trial, she indeed turns out to be one of only two jurors to initially vote "guilty" - though it's not because she is white or a woman (at least officially). She tells the other jurors that she voted "guilty" specifically because she took thorough notes - and thus focused on the facts instead of the defense's appeals to emotion, which she feels couldn't easily explain away the mountain of evidence against Simpson.
  • Big "NO!": In "A Jury in Jail", Cochran unleashes one when another one of the jurors (a black woman, therefore someone who was likely on the side of voting O.J. "not guilty") is about to be dismissed due to omitting that she had accused her spouse of physical abuse in the past.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Judge Ito gives one to Clark and Cochran during an argument they begin having, having grown exhausted with their various attempts to get members of the jury dismissed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: For all parties involved:
    • Although he is acquitted of the murders, O.J. ends up being shunned by the Brentwood neighborhood and his golfing buddies, and in the latter case, he is no longer welcome at the Riviera Country Club. His party was attended by people he's never seen before, who just came for the novelty that the televised trial created around him. He also loses his friendship with Robert Kardashian. The final shot of the episode has him sadly looking at the statue of himself, reminiscing about his Glory Days as a football player, and realizing that he's all alone. And, of course, there's the knowledge that O.J. later did ultimately wind up sentenced to 33 years in prison for a different crime.
    • Marcia Clark and Chris Darden are both crucified by the press and public for losing the case and became disillusioned with working as prosecutors, each resigning soon after. However, they also signed lucrative book deals and found well-paying, low-stress jobs.
    • The families of Nicole and Ron thoroughly believe O.J. was guilty and received no justice for the murder of their loved ones (though in the latter case, the Goldmans are seen thinking about pursuing additional criminal action, a nod to the eventual civil trial that would take place later in which O.J. got the pants sued off of him by the Goldmans).
    • Johnnie Cochran goes all in on the O.J. case in an attempt to demonstrate his societal worldview to a public audience. In this, he succeeds, not just in getting O.J. to be found not guilty, but (as the ending suggests) starting a fundamentally important conversation about America's failures on race. This is pretty sweet, but the bitter part comes beforehand, when Chris criticizes Johnnie after the verdict for attaching undue importance to the verdict while less fortunate black Americans will continue to suffer. Chris basically ends up being proven right in retrospect.
  • Bookends:
    • The series begins with Chris Darden planning to resign due to underlying racism and double standards within the justice system, and only stays on because Cochran and Clark convince him to stay. At the end of the season, he confides in Clark that he's finally had it and is planning to resign from the department.
    • The series begins and ends with a shot of O.J.'s statue in his house.
    • As for the chase, O.J. flees in a white Ford Bronco and is cheered on by the Brentwood neighborhood. After his acquittal, O.J. is escorted back to his Rockingham mansion in a white Ford Aerostar, and is shunned by the Brentwood neighborhood, who now see him as a murderer.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: The Kardashian Kids (with the elder girls fulfilling some Bratty Teenage Daughter) serve this role, being noisy and obnoxious, glorying in the perks coming with their father being a member of OJ's legal team; all in contrast to OJ's and Nicole's kids.
  • Broken Ace: Great NFL career and successful Hollywood acting gigs made O.J. a respectable celebrity, until he wasn't.
  • Caption Humor: A brilliant fakeout by the production team, after the grueling, miserably long trial reaches its endgames and the jury deliberations begin. As the jury sits down to discuss the piles of evidence they've been presented, a caption comes on the screen reading "Day 1." Contrary to what that caption implies, the jury reaches a verdict within barely four hours, to the shock of both the prosecutors and the defense.
  • Cassandra Truth: Darden senses instinctively that Fuhrman is going to damage their case irreparably, but he's not able to convince his colleagues to not put him on the stand.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated:
    • Discussed in-universe. Kato Kaelin tells his friend about his newfound fame and fortune while they're out jogging, and in the span of a few moments, he gets flashed by a group of wild teens and spat on by a pair of angry joggers. Kato then tells his friend that he still isn't sure what to make of it.
    • In another scene, Robert Kardashian tells his children to try and be good, virtuous people rather than seeking fame wherever they can find it. It clearly doesn't get through to them.
    • Unlike her publicity-seeking opponents, Marcia Clark is absolutely not prepared to deal with the many indignities of fame.
    • Johnnie Cochran, meanwhile, serves as a showman in court and relishes the spotlight... until it comes out that, during his first marriage, he had a mistress and was accused of domestic abuse towards his wife. It's exacerbated when both the mistress and ex-wife do a joint interview with Geraldo Rivera as the trial is going on. His current wife calls him out on reveling in his fame without thinking about the consequences.
      Sylvia: All your stuff with Barbara, all of it is in court records, Johnnie! You made the world your stage. You wanted the attention... Now you got it.
    • Judge Ito enjoyed all the attention he was receiving, even being sent an autograph picture of Arsenio Hall. But he starts showing annoyance when the news media starts criticizing him and Jay Leno starts making fun of him in The Tonight Show skits.
  • The Chessmaster: F. Lee Bailey is a master of manipulating everyone around him to get his intended results. The camera even hovers over a glass chess set in the scene where F. Lee Bailey makes his first move of convincing Johnnie Cochran to become Lead Attorney over Robert Shapiro.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Marcia, nervous over the case and her impending divorce, is seen smoking frequently.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • As they watch their father read O.J.'s suicide note on the air, the Kardashian kids are more fixated on the fact that the reporters can't spell their last name than on the fact that a man they've known as their honorary uncle might be planning to kill himself.
    • Followed up when the kids fail to realize the implications of their father being recognized as the "O.J. guy" in E3.
    • When Cochran asks O.J. if he has black friends or has ever done anything for the black community, O.J. can only mention his friendship with Al Cowlings ("and he is darker than me!") and the house he bought for his mother.
  • Comical Overreacting/Faux Horrific: Played for Drama in "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia", when both the media and other characters treat Marcia getting a slightly unflattering hair cut as a borderline crime against humanity.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Robert Kardashian is close friends with both O.J. and Nicole, and is initially O.J.'s staunchest supporter, but as the trial progresses, he increasingly doubts O.J.'s innocence, especially after DNA evidence is introduced. By the end of the series, Rob has ended his friendship with O.J., and according to the epilogue, they didn't speak with each other again before Rob's death in 2003.
  • Courtroom Antic: Cochran pulls a number of them, including numerous petty insults to Christopher Darden, and forcing the court to hear a defense witness early to derail the prosecution's momentum. (The alleged reason is that the witness is about to leave the country imminently, but during questioning it becomes apparent that that's just an excuse engineered by Cochran.)
  • Cynicism Catalyst: The verdict becomes this for both Clark and Darden, who both intend on resigning by the season's end. Made especially clear in Clark's case, as she specifically took the case because she was fighting for victims' rights, due to a traumatic rape when she was younger and a resulting trial that ended with the assailant walking free. The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue makes it clear that both resigned from the L.A. District Attorney's Office soon after the end of the case.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Bill Hodgman, one example is during a press conference (that is viewed on TV by him and Marcia) where Rob reads a letter written by OJ claiming that he is a "battered husband" to Marcia's open consternation with him replying:
    Well he did cut his hand when he was killing her.
  • Death Glare: After the tapes of Mark Fuhrman's absurdly racist statements are played, he arrives back in the courtroom to find every single person glaring daggers at him.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • The jurors were desperate to get put on the case, some even lying to on their questionnaire to do so, believing they'll get fame and a free vacation. The reality of being a sequestered jury in a high profile case hits them hard - having very limited and monitored entertainment and social interaction, forced to stay months longer than originally told and being dismissed if they're believed to be planning to write a book or go to the media.
    • Clark and Cochran dig deep into the jurors histories and activities, finding things to get those they don't like dismissed and replaced with ones more likely to vote in their favor. Eventually they lose so many jurors that a mistrial (an unattractive outcome for both sides) starts becoming a real possibility.
  • Domestic Abuse:
    • O.J. did this to Nicole.
    • Cochran's first wife accused him of this.
    • One of the jurors was a victim of this and was dismissed for lying about it.
  • Double Standard: All over the place.
    • All the free passes O.J. gets just because he is rich and famous, even with the notriously racist LAPD.
    • Clark getting flack for her attitude, looks and clothing choice that no man in her position would get, just because she is a woman.
    • Cochran being pulled over and handcuffed by police just because he was a black man driving a nice car in a nice neighborhood. Imagine what could have happened if he wasn't carrying his ADA ID in that moment.
    • Darden has worked very hard to get where he is, but he's given much less credit and attention than Simpson and Cochran. Darden also explains how difficult it was to rise to the position he has: many people looked down on him because they assumed his rise was due to affirmative action, even though he really worked his ass off to graduate from the top of his class in law school and would have earned everything he has regardless of his race.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Clark starts the case seeing it as domestic abuse gone wrong, determined to pin OJ for his actions. It isn't until the media circus starts going that she finally realizes how famous OJ is and how the case is viewed in a racial lens.
  • Driven to Suicide: O.J. holds a gun to his own head after he learns he will be denied bail. Then he gets in his Bronco.
  • Epic Fail: Rosa Lopez's trainwreck of a testimony is one of the few bright spots for the prosecution; she's questioned on one point (whether she saw O.J.'s white Bronco at 10:15 PM after the murders), and yet can't stick with it, badly dodging the question and all but flat-out stating Cochran is feeding her lines.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Marcia Clark has very curly hair for the first half of the series, but media scrutiny started to get to her as various people considered her look to be cold, and as issues in her personal life started stressing her out she got a perm. This had a side effect of everyone mocking her for it in the courtroom the next day. After another episode she had it straightened out.
  • Everything Is Racist: One of the major themes of the series. The first episode opens with footage of the Rodney King beating and the ensuing riots, which sets the tone for the rest of the series. Whether or not you believe O.J. was guilty, the trial clearly never would have become as huge as it was if it weren't for the systemic racism in the culture in general and within the LAPD in particular, or the feelings of injustice and frustration shared by the black community.
    • Robert Shapiro intends to use Simpson's identity as a black man as part of his defense:
      Jeffrey Toobin: You're gonna say this case is all about race.
      Robert Shapiro: Yes, because it is.
    • Defied by the Juice himself.
      O.J. Simpson: You want to make this a black thing. That's why you want Cochran. Well, I'm not black; I'm O.J.!
    • "The Race Card" puts it front and center as it shows the different ways Cochran invokes this trope to use as the primary defense for OJ. Culminates with Darden and Cochran going head to head about the ethics and manner of doing this.
    • In "Jury in Jail", Tracy Hampton accuses Deputy Adam of being racist because he supposedly gives the black jurors less shopping time than their white counterparts.
    • Cochran and Bailey travel to North Carolina to get a judge to hand over tapes of Furhman but the judge refuses Cochran's request and says he has no patience for Cochran's grandstanding talk. When Cochran angrily rants about it, Bailey points out how they're in the South, there's a statue of a Confederate soldier outside the courthouse and "I don't know if you play as well in Dixie." He then proceeds to give an incredibly lavish speech praising the great state of North Carolina to start his oral argument in the appeals court, which the panel of three judges hearing the appeal apparently accepts since he wins the motion.
  • Face Palm:
  • Fake-Out Opening: The first episode opens with a video of the infamous Rodney King beating by four LAPD officers, and the protests and eventually, the riots in Los Angeles that resulted from the officers' acquittal in their trial.
  • Fatal Flaw: Marcia Clarke's inability to understand how pervasive racism still was in the early '90s and its potency in a case regarding a famous and beloved black athlete allegedly murdering his wife makes her unable to see Cochran's attempt to turn the trial into an indictment on systemic racism until it is far too late. Darden tries to explain it to her several times throughout the series, but she dismisses him and consequently loses the case.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Marcia and Darden become this over the course of the trial.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Anybody watching this show is probably aware of how the trial ended in real life — Simpson was found not guilty.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Fred Goldman, Ronald Goldman's father, tearfully tells Clark that the media is completely focused on O.J. and Nicole, while his son "is a footnote to his own murder."
  • Freakier Than Fiction:
    • In "The Dream Team", Cochran received a prank call from someone claiming to be O.J.; this was based on an event that took place during the chase, in which a Howard Stern fan prank called Peter Jennings.
    • The scene where Cochran is pulled over by a police bike and handcuffed when he was driving his daughters to dinner is inspired by a real incident when Cochran was pulled over by three police cars, held at gunpoint, and had his car aggressively searched, when he was driving his son and one daughter to buy toys.
    • Dominick Dunne sums it all up when Ito says he has to let another judge determine if he'll stay on the trial after his wife is mentioned in Furhman's tapes.
      Dunne: This is insane! You couldn't get away with this plot twist in an airport paperback.
  • Future Shadowing: In "The Verdict", Darden coldly tells Cochran how the Dream Team did little to instill any social change. It can be read that he's predicting the start of the #BlackLivesMatter movement 20 years later.
    Darden: This isn't some civil rights milestone. Police in this country will keep arresting us, keep beating us, keep killing us. You haven't changed anything for black people here. Unless, of course, you're a famous, rich one in Brentwood.
  • Gilligan Cut: After Johnnie Cochran dismisses Faye Resnick's trashy tell-all book and says it'll be forgotten in a week, it immediately cuts to Larry King proclaiming that the book has become a number one seller.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Discussed. Cochran predicts Faye Resnick's book about Nicole will be forgotten in a week. Shapiro simply rebuts him by saying "Lesbian sex, [page] 197."
  • Gone Horribly Right: The defense succeeds in getting hold of tapes where Furhman launches into a list of racial slurs and talk of faking evidence. However, the tapes also have Furhman bad-mouthing Ito's wife (the highest-ranking woman in the LAPD at the time) who had claimed to have no contact with him when, in fact, she reprimended him for his behavior two years earlier. Thus, this could set up a mistrial which would give the prosecution the chance to overcome their earlier mistakes and convict Simpson.
  • Heroic BSoD: In "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia", Marcia finally breaks down after finding out that her asshole first husband has sold nude photos of her to the tabloids.
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • The journalists at Shapiro's press conference all have trouble spelling Robert Kardashian's last name.
    • The diner staff can't spell Kardashian's surname, either - but they give his family a table with no waiting time because they recognized him from TV. Bob then tries to warn his kids that fame is fleeting, but they don't pay attention to him. You can bet they got the wrong lesson that day.
    • Gil Garcetti says he was going to run for Mayor of Los Angeles (with the implication that this won't happen because of the Simpson case being mishandled). Gil Garcetti's son, Eric Garcetti, was elected Mayor in 2013.
    • Cochran commits O.J. to fight for his innocence, to remember what his name means to people. Suffices to say, what "O.J. Simpson" meant to people in 1994 is a lot different to what it does in 2016.
    • In Episode 2, F. Lee Bailey says to Bob Shapiro something to the tone of "this is going to make us [the lawyers] huge". Not only was he, along with Johnnie Cochran, the only well known personality in OJ Simpson's defense teamnote , he would be the one to decline the hardest after the Simpson trial. He was disbarred in 2001 in Florida and in 2003 in Massachusetts after embezzeling stocks from a pharmaceutical company that were supposed to be handed over to the IRS into paying for personal expenses in the criminal trial of drug dealer Claude DuBoc where he was the defense attorney, got bankrupt, and went to Maine where he now owns a business consulting firm, operating above his girlfriend's nail salon. He has uncessfully tried to enter the Maine Bar several times. He's also the last of The Juice's defenders, having written a lengthy essay defending his innocence.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The real-life Mark Fuhrman was much more complex than depicted. He indeed had a history of racism, which he himself even admitted to when he checked himself in for rehabilitation, and past acquaintances had complained that he had made racist remarks in the past. However, independent investigations discovered that, after said rehabilitation, he had a dearth of civilian complaints against him; he had successfully partnered with nonwhite cops (including a black female officer intentionally partnered with him to test to see if his racism continued) who considered him a friend and never felt uncomfortable with him; he had been called to Simpson's residence to answer a domestic disturbance call from Nicole and nevertheless did nothing to Simpson, and he had personally taken it upon himself to protect a black female witness who felt endangered (and befriended her as well; she would go on to defend his post-trial character). Even the infamous tapes were a product of him being paid to exaggerate a "police" style of speech. In the series, he's depicted as little more than a remorseless, two-faced racist who outright lied on the stand and owned Nazi memorabilia.note 
  • Honorary Uncle: O.J. was this to the Kardashian kids. Robert refers to him as "Uncle Juice". Robert Kardashian himself was one to O.J.'s children, and gets asked in the second episode, "Uncle Bobby, is my dad going to die?"
  • How We Got Here: Episode 8 starts with the jury's deputies being rotated out, then shows us how 8 months of chaos and jurors constantly getting thrown out thanks to aggressive Rules Lawyering from both the prosecution and defense led up to that.
  • Hot Pursuit: The infamous car chase that preceded the trial itself is dramatized in the second episode. This also counts as an arguable inversion, given that O.J. is a fugitive from an arrest order for double murder, yet the LAPD is afraid of doing anything beyond driving at a prudential distance, from a car that isn't even going that fast - understandably, because Simpson has a gun to his head and is threatening suicide if they get too close.
  • Hyper-Awareness: It's practically Christopher Darden's superpower.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Shapiro standing in Ito's chambers in front of Clark and claiming he has no part in turning the trial into a media circus and has never considered "playing the race card..." After an episode and a half of him planning it all.
    • Cochran dropping the N word on Darden after two scenes discussing the evil of using it.
  • I Have This Friend...: Robert Kardashian does a version of this in "A Jury in Jail". After the presentation of the DNA evidence, he seriously starts doubting O.J.'s innocence. When O.J. complains that his friends don't visit him anymore, Kardashian says that it might be because of the DNA:
    Kardashian I think... I mean, well... one thing they were wondering is about Nicole's blood. How it got in your Bronco.
    O.J. How the hell do I know? How the hell do I know, Bobby? The police. Faye's Colombian friends. I don't know.
    Kardashian Yeah, but it's everywhere. Nicole's house, the Bronco, your driveway, your socks. It...
    O.J. And this is them asking?
    Kardashian Yeah. This is them asking.
  • Innocent Bigot: Both Shapiro and Kardashian have a few missteps while discussing how O.J.'s innocence is perceived by Downtown black people (who will make up most of the jury). Cochran takes it graciously, but they are the straw that breaks the camel's back and makes him take over as lead attorney.
    Cochran On this case, you need to choose your vernacular very, very carefully.
  • Irony: O.J. was infamous for moving to a wealthy neighborhood and surrounding himself with a predominantly white entourage and was often accused of abandoning the black community. After he was accused of murder, however, it was the black community who rallied around his innocence while most of the white community believed him to be guilty. After he was exonerated, O.J. came home to find himself friendless and hated by his neighbors.
  • Incriminating Indifference: OJ is repeatedly making choices and saying things that are inappropriate to the severity of the situation. He made a number of apology letters that were interpreted as a suicide note, one of which he signed and included a smiley face inside the "O." In various deliberation meetings with his attorneys he would get Sidetracked by the Analogy and Metaphorgotten, especially with football terms.
  • It's All About Me:
    • When O.J. escapes, Shapiro's main concern is how it will reflect on him.
      Johnnie Cochran: (watching Shapiro's press conference): What a prick. Robert Shapiro is focused on his number one priority: Robert Shapiro.
    • Watching O.J.'s Bronco chase carried on national television, Gil Garcetti groans "I was going to run for mayor."
    • When O.J. argues to be put on the stand, Cochran eventually believes that he might have a point while Shapiro notes that it is a terrible idea and subsequently wonders if Johnnie is just doing it to spite him.
      Cochran: Amazingly, this is not about you, Bob.
    • Even Shapiro's concerns about the trial sparking riots are pretty self-centered. He's afraid that he'll be blamed for them, which would ruin his reputation and career.
    • Subverted with Cochran in general, who is presented as genuinely believing in O.J.'s innocence, and from his years defending black people in police brutality cases, genuinely holds the ideal that what they're doing in court will be a vehicle for social change. Darden, however, bitterly points out to Cochran that while he is fighting for an ideal it is terribly naïve: he didn't bring social justice to black people everywhere, just one rich and famous one.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Inverted; the Dream Team is smart enough to realize that DNA evidence is going to be a major part of future prosecutions. One of the reasons Dershowitz takes on the case is to establish a template for defending clients when the DNA evidence is against them.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • The prosecution basically acknowledges the defense is right about Mark Fuhrman being a racist and representative of racial problems within the LAPD, while still trying to inform the jury that Fuhrman being a racist does not mean he planted evidence to frame O.J. or that O.J. isn't guilty.
    • While Shapiro seems mostly concerned with his image and political connections in Los Angeles, his concerns that the trial (and Cochran's focus on race in particular) might spark riots or other violence are very well-founded just a few years after Rodney King and the LA Riots.
  • Knight Templar: Johnnie Cochran cares less about proving O.J.'s innocence and more about proving the LAPD's racism and corruption, no matter the consequences. He even calls a press conference to essentially try to instigate rioting unless the Fuhrman tapes were released.
  • Layman's Terms: The DNA expert on Dershowitz's team has difficulty explaining the DNA analysis like this, so instead the defense focuses on the probabilities of the test being correct.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...:
    • Shapiro gets one near the start of the series, just as he's becoming aware of the details of the case.
      Robert Shapiro: Okay, let me get this straight. You're saying...that the homicide detective who discovered all the evidence on O.J. Simpson hates black people?
    • Later, in "A Jury in Jail", it becomes apparent that one of the jurors omitted to tell the court that she had previously made an accusation against her husband after being physically abused. Clark and Cochran get into an argument, with Clark saying that she should be dismissed for lying during the trial, and Cochran stating she should be kept because of it being a misunderstanding. This prompts Judge Ito's response:
      Ito: All right, so let me get this straight. The defense is arguing to keep a victim of domestic abuse, and the People are arguing to dismiss her? Somehow, I get the idea, if this juror were white, we'd be having a different conversation right now.
  • Lonely at the Top: After the verdict, O.J. is a free man again, but his neighbors hate him, it's implied that his family are probably going to go back to their own lives soon, and Bobby, one of his few real friends, wants nothing more to do with him. As the finale wears on, he looks increasingly less jubilant.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: "A Jury In Jail" looks at the trial from the perspective of the jury and how they're affected by the trial dragging on for months, unable to watch TV or read newspapers, see their families only once a week and the pressure of putting up with this circus.
  • Make the Dog Testify: Parodied by Kardashian when he jokes that the Akita that found the blood is the prosecution's main witness.
  • Manly Tears: Cochran begins to cry at the post-verdict victory party, when he sees a live broadcast of Bill Clinton talking about the case and discussing how black and white citizens need to understand each other better.
  • Marital Rape License: One of the black female jurors is excused after it comes to light that she failed to mention that she had previously accused her husband of rape. In a desperate bid to prevent her dismissal, Bailey argues that at the time her accusation was filed, a man could not be charged with rape if he was married to his accuser. Ito and Marcia don't take this well-at all (even if, strictly speaking, Bailey's point about why she didn't formally press charges against her husband at the time was entirely accurate).
    Marcia Clark: You just said that. Out loud.
  • Meaningful Name: Mark Fuhrman, secret racist and collector of "World War II memorabilia". It was invoked at one point by Darden, who points out that Fuhrman's initials are "MF".
  • The Millstone: Shapiro's only useful contributions to The Dream Team are turning the case into a media circus and suggesting the LAPD only targeted Simpson out of racism (and then later saying the case will never be about race). He commits blunders that compromise the defense, suggests throwing the case at one point, and gets in childish fights with Cochran and Bailey. His only comebacknote  is after four straight episodes of mistakes and completely losing O.J.'s confidence.
  • Mistaken for Racist:
    • The photographers of TIME Magazine decide to portray O.J. in shadow to depict him as a figure of tragedy, trying to evoke Film Noir. Unfortunately, most people interpret this as them deliberately darkening his skin out of the belief that a darker-skinned person is more likely to be guilty, feeding into the defense's plan to claim that the police framed O.J. because he was black.
    • The prosecution team invites Christopher Darden in because they fear this happening to them.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Christopher Darden gives a devastating "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Johnnie Cochran, telling him that his victory does absolutely nothing to combat racism in the police force and only proves Cochran's ability to twist the system. Smash cut to: Johnnie walking into a wild victory party at his office.
    • The episode that starts with a scene of O.J. and Kardashian partying it up in a thumping nightclub, dancing, drinking, and dining on oysters—that cuts right to O.J. sitting alone in his dingy jail cell, staring down a tray of prison cafeteria slop.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • In "Jury in Jail", Robert Kardashian finally starts doubting O.J.'s claims of innocence. Unfortunately for him, by that point, they're several months into the trial, and there's no way for him to duck out without completely destroying his career and making (or so he feels) it certain that O.J. will be convicted.
    • He finally loses it in the finale, "The Verdict", and vomits in an empty washroom at the courthouse after the verdict is read. Soon afterwards, he dissolves his friendship with O.J. before leaving.
    • Robert Shapiro, in some ways. He is the one that specifically comes up with the idea to play the "race card", that Simpson was framed just for being a successful black celebrity, and also directly injected the story into the mass media. Later, Shapiro is bluntly criticized that because of this, if they lose the trial, there's going to be another large-scale race riot which might dwarf the Rodney King riots, many people will die, and it will all be on his head. Shapiro becomes genuinely horrified, then desperately pulls a 180 turn, denying he ever suggested the trial was about race, wearing a police solidarity pin, etc. Of course, he's not so much horrified that people might die as he's frightened that people will accurately think it's his fault, and his career will be ruined.
  • Newscaster Cameo: Larry King plays himself in the "Larry King Live" scenes.
  • Nice Guy: Robert Kardashian joins the Dream Team because he sincerely wants to help his friend.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Darden pushes over and over for Simpson to try on the gloves over Clark's constant objections, demands in court that Simpson do so... and they don't fit.
    • Clark has her own moment of this not long after, when it hits home for her just how disastrous it was to have insisted that Fuhrman testify. Darden calls her on it afterward, and they both apologize to each other for their respective failures.
  • Nothing but Hits: The many hits from 1994/1995 heard during the series include Above the Law's "Black Superman," Michael Bolton's "Said I Loved You... But I Lied," The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage," Ice Cube's "Bop Gun (One Nation)," Folk Implosion's "Natural One," Seal's "Kiss from a Rose," Portishead's "Sour Times" and Coolio's "Fantastic Voyage." A flashback to O.J. during happier times a couple years earlier is set to "Everybody Dance Now."
  • N-Word Privileges:
    • Johnnie Cochran has them. And he uses them in the most hilariously derisive way possible.
    • Bailey invokes the trope during "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" while having drinks with Cochran and his associates. While discussing how to handle Fuhrman, he deliberately drops the word, evoking an uncomfortable reaction from the others (with Carl E. Douglas looking particularly angered by it). He then immediately reassures them of his reasoning for it, pointing out how it's the most powerful word in the English language, and how it's the perfect way to make Fuhrman look prejudiced against black people.
  • Oh, Crap!: Occurs at numerous points.
    • When Clark and her aide watching a focus group watching the arraignment, every black person thinks Simpson is innocent.
    • Both prosecution and defense are joined in disbelief and anger when Faye Resnick's book is released, as each side knows it can affect jury selection in bad ways and bring up a poor view of the victims.
    • Clark and Darden's expressions when the gloves (which Clark thought would be the slam-dunk) don't fit Simpson in court.
    • In "Jury in Jail", the entire jury wear black to protest their treatment and the deputies being swapped. Both the prosecution and the defense panic at this, as this show of solidarity and empathy for law enforcement throws out whatever idea they had about who would vote guilty or not guilty.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted - Robert Shapiro and Robert Kardashian (both of whom went by the nickname "Bob" in real life) were both significant figures in the proceedings, so changing their names for the series would be out of the question. More often, Shapiro is referred to as "Bob" and Kardashian as "Bobby," with a little "Rob" thrown in for the latter as he's being introduced in the first episode. There was actually a third Robert on the defense team in real life (Robert Blasier) but he didn't get depicted in the series. There's also the young Robert Kardashian Jr., who goes by "Rob" in real life. One episode has his father referring to him as "Bobby."
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Marcia sees herself as the only person on the case who cares about the integrity of the trial and is upset by it becoming a media circus.
    • Shapiro ends up becoming one for the defense. He's the only one who openly objects to bringing race into the case, and realizes they are fighting an uphill battle proving O.J.'s innocence and keeps insisting a plea bargain is their best option.
  • Out of Focus: Robert Kardashian is a prominent character in the first three episodes but barely appears in the next three. He regains focus near the end of the series as it starts to dawn on him that O.J. might actually have killed Nicole.
  • Pass the Popcorn:
    • Episode 2 has many people reacting like this to the Bronco chase. There's even a scene showing Pizza Hut running out of cheese from their increased orders.
    • Lampshaded in episode 6, when NBC preempted their entire daytime schedule for the trial, after ABC did the same thing. An NBC executive even called the trial a better daytime soap opera than the ones they got.
      Mechanic: They should bring Kato back on the show. He was so great.
  • Period Piece: Of The '90s, complete with approximate recreations of fashion and technology of the time.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • In "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia." Ito, who previously disparaged Marcia after seeing her new haircut, sees her breaking down the next morning as a result of the nude photo leak and the personal problems she's facing, and decides to dismiss everyone for the rest of the afternoon.
    • When somebody from the prosecution team collapses due to heart problems, Cochrane is the first one to yell for a doctor.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: What Marcia Clark and Chris Darden eventually evolve into. They come close to tipping past "platonic" once or twice, but only close.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Marcia Clark has never heard of O.J. Simpson.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • Courtesy of Marcia Clark at the end of the third episode, upon learning that Johnnie Cochran has joined the Dream Team.
      "Johnnie Cochran. Motherfucker."
    • In the fourth episode, when Shapiro gets angry at Bailey for repeating insults about him on TV (ostensibly to debunk them):
      Bailey: All that sniping in the media that says Bob Shapiro is in over his head, Bob Shapiro is an empty suit, Bob Shapiro can't handle a case of this magnitude. Well, that twaddle is truly unfortunate.
      Shapiro: (at the TV): Well, then don't say it, asshole. Fuck!
    • In episode five, after thoroughly shutting down Darden's attempt to have "the n-word" banned from use during the trial, Cochran has a condescending, off-mic remark for Darden himself:
      "Nigga, please."
    • In the seventh episode, Cochran finds out that somebody managed to locate his first wife and his mistress, and they've put the two of them on a show together, which causes him to scream out, "FUCK!"
  • Product Placement: Averted. The cheese scene happened in reality, but to Domino's Pizza. Domino's refused to be featured, and Pizza Hut took its place without paying or being paid a dime.
  • Promoted to Scapegoat: In "The Race Card", Cochran orders Douglas to claim a procedural mistake of Shapiro as his own, just to throw a curve ball at the prosecution team. It causes Hodgman to have a heart attack.
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • While O.J. is acquitted, the finale makes it clear that he has become a pariah in the eyes of many, with Robert Kardashian, arguably his biggest supporter at the start of the case, breaking off all ties with him following the verdict.
    • Johnnie Cochran achieves his goal of exposing the racism that is rampant in the LAPD and bringing the topic of race relations to the public view, but, as Chris Darden points out, he did so by getting a man who most likely committed murder acquitted and that the court decision will do absolutely nothing to actually stop the Police Brutality or help African-Americans who don't have the benefit of being rich celebrities.
    • Even though OJ is acquitted, let's not forget he was held "liable" for hefty (punitive and compensatory) damages in a civil lawsuit brought by Nicole Brown's and Ron Goldman's families. Hefty damages which led him to bankruptcynote  and of which the victims' families saw very little so far (and almost certainly that's all they'll see). Goldman's family, however, have launched lawsuits to charge that debt every time a new thing that can be used to pay for the debt,note  so OJ never forgets about their son he murdered.
  • Race Traitor:
    • O.J. and Darden get accused of it; the former for moving to a largely-white neighborhood, the latter for serving under a white woman and helping prosecute a black man.
    • In "Jury in Jail", juror Armanda Cooley is accused by her fellow black jurors of being too friendly with the white deputies.
  • Rage Breaking Point: When the question on whether or not to release the Fuhrman tapes to the public comes up Darden finally snaps, calling out the defense for turning the trial into a media circus, even almost assaulting them, and Ito for allowing them to do it. Clark backs him up and they both dare Ito to charge them with contempt. Luckily, Darden calms down enough to offer an apology to avoid being arrested.
  • Real-Person Epilogue: Ends with a montage of photos of the real-life players in the O.J. Simpson case and their fates after the trial.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: In "Jury in Jail", Deputy Adam is portrayed as going way out of his way to accommodate the jurors, even as they squabble with each other. Armanda also says that he let her use the phone after curfew to talk to her family. When he's rotated out in favor of some less friendly deputies, even the jurors who've been shown to dislike him protest it.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • In "Manna from Heaven", Darden delivers a furious speech to Cochran after the latter gleefully uses the threat of more riots to pressure Ito into releasing the Fuhrman tapes.
      • Darden gives a blistering one to Marcia Clark, who ignored his pleas to not put Fuhrman on the stand.
    • Cochran gives an equally intense one in "The Race Card" where he calls Darden out for insulting the jury by claiming they cannot handle hearing racial epithets uttered in court.
    • After Ito rules the vast majority of the tapes inadmissible as evidence, Cochran holds a press conference and calls him out on suppressing vitally important evidence to the case.
    • After Simpson is found not guilty, Cochran talks of it being a great thing for black people. Darden rips into him that he has done nothing to help their race but in fact hurt it as he's simply helped a rich man get away with murder. History indeed proved Cochran was wrong.
  • Recognition Failure: In a defining moment from the pilot, Clark is the only character that does not immediately recognize O.J. Simpson's name.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • "Conspiracy Theories" focuses on this as the defense try to bring up theories on the killers like Colombian drug dealers. When Clark scoffs at how outrageous they are, Darden tells her the jury will listen as it sounds far more exciting than a simple domestic dispute gone wrong.
      Darden: People like stories. It helps them make sense of things.
    • When a black man at a bar says he thinks O.J. was framed, Clark points out the ridiculously complicated lengths the cops would have gone to to frame him, risking their careers on framing when they didn't even know who the victims were yet or if OJ had an alibi, and asks the man if that's really plausible. The man's reply: "Maybe." They laugh about it.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: When O.J. runs away after threatening to kill himself, Kardashian, for some reason, breaks to his family that he probably did. After much crying, they learn this wasn't the case. The TV stations also prepared specials during the chase that look like they are mourning his death (one even ending with the legend O.J. Simpson: 1947-1994).
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Darden doesn't want the n-word to be uttered during the trial, as he knew Fuhrman had allegedly said it in the past. He says that it will taint the jury away from rational thought and make the trial about race and a potential frame up conspiracy. He is shamed by Johnny Cochran for alleging blacks can't hear the word and be rational. However, later on, Fuhrman perjures himself about having used the word in the past. When that lie is revealed, he goes on the stand again and takes the 5th on every question asked. This spreads a lot of doubt to the jurors about O.J's guilt, and makes the trial about race. Darden's fears come true, but it was more because of Fuhrman lying than the n-word itself.
  • Running Gag: Nobody knows how to spell/pronounce "Kardashian". Yet.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: O.J. bails out once he learns that he's going to be charged with Nicole's murder, and threatens to shoot himself just before doing so.
  • Sequel Hook: After the verdict is read and O.J. is acquitted, Fred Goldman and his family walk back to their car and listen to the radio for a few moments. After Kim shuts off the radio in anger, they sit silently for a few moments and she then asks her father (who is silently angry) "What are we going to do now?", hinting at the civil trial that would eventually take place a few months later in Santa Monica.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Subverted with Marcia Clark. After she's constantly criticized in the media for her "dowdy" appearance, she goes to a stylist and gets a new haircut. But it doesn't look any better, and the mockery continues.
  • Ship Tease: With Marcia and Chris Darden in "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia". This continues in "Conspiracy Theories", where Marcia and Chris go away on a trip and very nearly sleep together while drunk.
  • Shout-Out: In "A Jury in Jail", the sequestered jury can't watch outside TV, so they're limited to renting movies and television that came out before the trial started. Moreover, they can only choose one thing at a time which they watch as a group, so they have to vote on what to rent. This leads to a heated argument, as all of the black jurors want to watch Martin, but all of the white jurors want to watch Seinfeld. The black jurors can't stand Seinfeld, however, causing the tall one to shout, "Seinfeld ain't about nothing!" Seinfeld is commonly described nowadays as "a show about nothing."
  • The Slacker: Kato Kaelin.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Johnnie Cochran is not above feigning outrage, but his anger over the LAPD's systemic racism is completely genuine. He is so busy proselytizing over police brutality and racial profiling that it arguably distracts him from the actual case, and he has to be reminded more than once that his job is not to prosecute the LAPD, it's to defend O.J. Simpson.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • In "100 Percent Not Guilty", Faye Resnick, one of Nicole Brown Simpson's ditzier friends, decides to cash in on her friend's murder by publishing a racy "tell-all", much to the horror of both the defense and the prosecution teams.
    • In "The Race Card", Shapiro forgets to tell the prosecution about 12 of the defense's witnesses. It is an easily solvable mistake, but Cochran decides to let it stand as a way to put pressure on the prosecution, and this infuriates Hodgman so much that it ends causing him a heart attack in the courtroom.
    • O.J. himself. From threatening suicide when he faces prison without bail to jumping on the Bronco and getting enraged in public when Darden sits on a bench in O.J.'s garden, just as his lawyers are trying to convince the jurors that he is a model citizen, are just some of the instances where he nearly destroys his case by himself.
    • In "A Jury in Jail", one of the jurors, Tracy Hampton, accuses the deputies of racism in hopes of being excused for jury duty. With the jury pool already dwindling, Judge Ito promises to swap out the deputies if Tracy agrees to stay on... which ends up pissing off the other jurors, because the replacement deputies turn out to be less accommodating, and suddenly the court has a minor revolt on its hands. Realizing that everyone will hate her when they find out the role she played, Tracy fakes a complete nervous breakdown so that she'll be excused.
      Armanda Cooley: That's one way to do it.
    • Both Cochran and Clark try to stack the deck by disqualifying jurors who they believe are more, or less, likely to convict. The sequester is so long and brutal, however, that the jurors start showing up wearing all black in protest. Each side realizes that their jury strategy is now completely blown, as this show of solidarity upends all of their assumptions about how individual jurors will vote.
    • In "Manna from Heaven", a failed screenwriter in North Carolina reveals that she has tapes that prove that not only did Mark Fuhrman conceal his history of racism from the court, but he also has a grudge against his captain... who, it turns out, is Judge Ito's wife, creating the prospect of a mistrial.
  • Start of Darkness: Minor and Played for Laughs, but it’s implied that the Kardashian children’s obsession with fame came about after their family was let into a diner free of charge because the staff recognized their father from coverage of the case on television.
  • Stress Vomit: Robert Kardashian, already massively weighed down by a guilty conscience as he becomes more and more convinced O.J. really is guilty, completely loses it and pukes in a sink after the not-guilty verdict is read.
  • Technology Marches On: Invoked, as it is a Period Piece. The trial was still within relatively recent memory, occurring a little over 20 years before the TV series - two decades which saw incredibly fast advances in everyday technology, so the contrast can be jarring. Cast and crew have frequently remarked on how different the O.J. Simpson trial would have been in the present day:
    • As in real life, a motorist happened to notice the white Bronco next to him on the highway during the Bronco chase, and had to pull over to use an emergency phone box to report it in - widespread cellphone ownership was still half a decade off. The White Bronco does have an early car-phone, but that's because O.J. and A.C. are well-to-do - it was still unusual for regular cars to have them (the actual police officer who called O.J. on the car phone has often remarked on how weird it was when he realized he could simply make a phone call to the Bronco in the middle of the chase - this had never happened before).
    • A major plot point is that DNA evidence was still a very new technology for criminal cases at the time, and both the prosecution and defense see this trial as a template for how such cases will be handled in the future, in which they know DNA evidence will play a major role. Indeed, the televised O.J. trial is widely cited as the first time that DNA evidence entered the public consciousness - during the trial itself, several jurors and attorneys have a hard time even understanding what DNA is. In fact, many jurors confused it for blood-type because blood matching OJ's type was found at the crime scene, which they reasoned "Well lots of people have the same blood-type..."
    • Dershowitz is watching the trial live on TV while he's teaching a class at Harvard (making observations about it to his lawyers-in-training). When he suddenly gets an idea that Cochran should use, you can practically see the lightbulb go off over his head when he realizes that their room has a fax machine - he makes a simple three word note ("Columbian neck tie") and seconds later, he sees Cochran pulling it out of the fax machine and using his suggestion to supreme effect. When the trial occurred, faxing him a live note like this was a nifty new idea. When the TV series aired in 2016, he'd have just sent Cochran a text message on his iPhone.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Having prepared extensively, Clark eagerly states that there's nothing Cochran can throw at her that will surprise her. Cochran immediately proves her wrong by petitioning the court to allow him to introduce a defense witness early, thus killing the prosecution's momentum.
    • When Clark hears of Simpson buying the pair of gloves with blood on them, Clark declares "those gloves are our conviction."
  • This Is Going to Be Huge: Marcia's "the gloves will give us our conviction." Not quite.
  • Throwing the Fight: Shapiro is infamous for getting more settlements than winning cases and it is obvious (despite his claim to the contrary) that he doesn't believe O.J. is innocent. His proposal to have O.J. plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter earns him a demotion in favor of Cochran.
  • Tiger by the Tail: Robert Kardashian finally realizes that O.J. is most likely guilty several months into the trial. He can't leave the defense without destroying his career and guaranteeing a guilty verdict (which would violate due process.)
  • Timmy in a Well: Nichole's barking and bloodied Akita attracts a passing neighbor, leading him to the bodies of Nichole and Ron. The prosecution later uses a witness who overheard the dog barking around 10:15 PM to establish their timeline, believing the dog started barking because it was witnessing the murder of its owner.
  • Token Good Teammate: Robert Kardashian ends up being the only Dream Team lawyer who is focused exclusively on both the well-being of OJ and trying to find the truth, not just find a way to get OJ acquitted. Shapiro, Cochren and Bailey spend most of the trial infighting, challenging each other and otherwise try to put themselves into a more notable and prestigious position due to the high profile nature of the case. It was reported in real life that Robert was personally overwhelmed by the DNA evidence.
  • Token Minority:
    • In-universe, the fear of appearing to be a white prosecution team out to convict a black man results in the DA's office inviting Christopher Darden to join them. The episode ends with O.J. wondering aloud "When did they get a black guy?". Then it's deconstructed when Darden confides in Marcia that being accused of this implies that he has no ability as an attorney himself, and that he "stole" the spot from a worthier person, just like how he was treated 20 years before when his classmates assumed he only got into college thanks to affirmative action. Later, after a (thoroughly avoidable) disaster for the prosecution, Darden explodes at Marcia for treating him like a token and not listening to him.
    • Invoked, and then defied, when Bill Hodgman points that they don't have a single white guy in the jury (the most likely demographic to find O.J. guilty):
      Hodgman: Wouldn't it be nice to have a white guy? I'm a white guy. We live in Los Angeles, too.
      Clark: We cannot be so hung up on skin color.
  • Tragic Hero: Robert Kardashian, full stop. He lets a singular flaw (his love of O.J.) define his actions and cloud his judgement, despite the protests of those close to him, all while doing what he believes is the right thing. He realizes the truth too late for the outcome to change, and has to spend the rest of his life knowing he essentially let a likely murderer walk free, dies an early death, and his family name turns into a global laughingstock as his wife and children profit off of fame he never wanted.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Marcia herself gets this in the sixth episode, aptly titled "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia." The brief moment of happiness the prosecution has questioning and later disproving Rosa Lopes' testimony is squandered by the fact that Marcia is fighting a battle with her ex-husband over control of their children, and when she attempts to liven up her appearance (by going to a hairdresser and getting a perm), she's disparaged by Ito, learns that everyone is insulting her appearance, and then discovers that her first ex-husband has leaked nude photographs of her to the tabloids. It gets so bad that she ends up crying on the floor of her office.
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue: "The Race Card" juxtaposes the prosecution and defense teams as they discuss their strategy for the upcoming trial.
  • Underestimating Badassery:
    • Clark dismisses the Dream Team as a bunch of egotists who will implode, not understanding they know how to play the media game a lot better than her.
    • Shapiro assumes he's lead attorney all the way through and unprepared for how Cochran is able to sway O.J. into making him lead instead while Shapiro was on vacation.
  • Versus Title: The People v. O.J. Simpson.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Robert Kardashian vomited in the men's room after the verdict was read.
  • We Used to Be Friends: All over the place. Robert Kardashian becomes convinced of O.J.'s guilt throughout the course of the trial and can no longer stand to be in the same room as him by the last episode. Bob Shapiro and F. Lee Bailey go from long-time friends and colleagues to sniping at each other in the press and bickering face-to-face. And Johnnie Cochran and Chris Darden's friendliness and mutual respect disappears as the trial devolves into a referendum on race relations.
  • Wham Shot:
    • In "The Race Card", Fuhrman says he collects World War II memorabilia, mostly medals. The final shots of the episode show him standing before his display cabinet which contains a Nazi medal.
    • The famous scene of O.J. trying on the gloves, and holding up his hands to show they don't fit. Downplayed as anyone familiar with the real case knows it's coming, but it still fits in-universe as drastically shifting the tone of the trial.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In "The Dream Team", Kris calls Robert out on supporting O.J., and tells him that the latter is obviously guilty.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The closing of the final episode showed the fates of the key players during the trial, noting that O.J. was sent to prison in 2008 on an unrelated charge, and ends with a tribute to Nicole and Ron.
  • The Whitest Black Guy:
    • O.J. was often accused of cutting himself off from the black community and had very little interest in African American culture. This is best exemplified in "A Jury In Jail" where the juror vote between watching Seinfeld and Martin with all the black jurors voting for Martin. The scene then cuts to O.J. telling his friends about his favorite episode of Seinfeld and how he thinks Kramer should have his own spinoff.
      Black Neighbor: O.J. is local! He went to Galileo High!
      Darden: So what? O.J. never gave back. Well, you see any parks around here named for him? Any children's centers? See, now Jim Brown cared about black people. He was an activist. He spoke up. Once O.J. made his money, he split and never came back. He became white.
      Black Neighbor: Well, you got the cops chasing him. He's black now!
    • Cochran deliberately works to avert this trope by 'blacking up' O.J.'s home with Afro-American photos and art, giving Norman Rockwell's painting of Ruby Bridges a place of honor in O.J.'s den.
  • Worthy Opponent: By the end of "Jury in Jail," Marcia and Cochran seem to recognize each other as this.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Bailey sets up one when he tells Darden he has "all the balls of a stud field mouse" if he won't make O.J. try on the gloves. If Darden takes the bait, wonderful, the gloves are too small and the prosecution has just destroyed one of their biggest pieces of evidence. If he doesn't, the defense can make O.J. try on the gloves and get the same result.
  • You Are Number 6: The jurors are only referred to by their numbers, which Tracy Hampton (AKA Juror 452) does not like.
  • Young Future Famous People: Several scenes in the early episodes emphasize Robert Kardashian's family, including his ex-wife Kris and their four children, to the point that it seems like an Author Tract on the pitfalls of fame and fortune. Early on, the kids can be seen cheering for the father when he reads O.J.'s suicide note during the first press conference, clearly unaware of the gravity of the situation. In "The Dream Team", when Robert takes the kids to a local restaurant for brunch, they marvel at how the family is getting preferential treatment and approving looks from the diners despite Rob's attempt to dissuade them with a speech on how fame can be fleeting.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: After the "not guilty" verdict, OJ and his team are celebrating and as the jury leaves the box one black juror, Lionel Cryernote , looks at OJ and raises his hand in a "Black Power" salute. OJ is unsettled; this is the first sign that he was acquitted for being a black celebrity and that his problems are just starting.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Cochran's first marriage fell apart because he cheated on his wife and had a son out of wedlock. Much to his horror, the press manages to find both his first wife and his mistress.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Happens multiple times, as the case was infamously Stranger Than Fiction:
    • When Kardashian shows Shapiro the suicide letters that O.J. gave him right before the ongoing Bronco chase, Shapiro is, shall we say, baffled, at the wildly discordant tone of its contents:
      Shapiro: Jesus Christ...Who the hell signs a suicide note with a smiley face?!Explanation 
    • When a female juror is discovered to have once been the victim of domestic abuse years before, Clark wants her dismissed. Bailey tries to argue that in 1988, when the crime took place, a husband legally couldn't be found to have raped his wife. Even Ito just stares at him in utter disbelief and disgust.
      Clark: You just said that. Out loud.
    • Ito, Darden, Cochran and Shapiro are all shown completely shocked when the jury reaches a verdict in only four hours.
      Shapiro: They've discussed this case less than any person in America.
    • In the post-trial press conference, the prosecution team expressed their disappointment in losing the case and apologize to the families of Nicole and Ron. As they are dismissed, a reporter asked DA Garcetti when they will move on to find the real killer. Garcetti could only give a dumbfounded look of "Are you an idiot?"

Alternative Title(s): American Crime Story The People VOJ Simpson

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