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Left to right: Allan Pinkerton, Kate Warne and William Pinkerton.
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The Pinkertons is a Canadian Series that features a team of Pinkerton Detectives working in Kansas City just after The American Civil War. It ran during the 2014-15 season as the only Dramatic Hour Long series airing in First-Run Syndication in America.

When agency founder Allan Pinkerton (Angus Macfadyen) and his wayward son William (Jacob Blair) arrive in KC to do their detective work, William is surprised (and embarassed) to learn that his new partner is a woman—Kate Warne (Martha MacIsaac), a widow who's also America’s first female detective. William soon learns that Kate is not only intelligent and brave, but knows how to take care of herself. Soon, Kate and William are solving crimes in their little corner of The Wild West, aided by Allan whenever he's in town.

Recurring Characters include John Bell (Ray Strachan), Kate's African-American ranch hand, who occasionally helps the detectives; Sheriff Lawrence Logan (David Brown), who can be a competent lawman when he isn't letting the Pinkertons solve his more difficult cases; Annalee Webb (Jennifer Pudavick), owner of the Dubois Hotel, the local saloon/brothel; Kenji Harada (Dean Fujioka), a Japanese detective who eventually becomes a Pinkerton; and Miyo (Seira Kagami), a Japanese woman who goes from a Pinkerton client to Annalee's assistant at the saloon.

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As of November 2016, the series is available on Netflix in the US and Canada.

Pinkertropes:

  • Absentee Actor: Despite appearing in the Title Sequence, Allan isn't in most of the episodes, due to Angus Macfadyen shooting this series and Turn at the same time. The In-Universe explanation is that Allan is busy running the Pinkerton office in Chicago.
  • Action Girl: Kate prefers brains over brawn, but she can shoot or fight when she needs to.
  • Agent Mulder: Will emerges as one in "The Devil's Trade", as he's much more willing to believe in the supernatural than Agent Scully Kate is.
  • The Alcoholic: Musgrave, the broken-down old Reb turned would-be assassin in "The Hero of Liberty Gap", becomes one to cope with being a Shell-Shocked Veteran.
  • Alliterative Name:
    • Two characters in "The Devil's Trade", Beatrice Barclay and Miyo the Mystical.
    • Advertisement:
    • In "On Account of Huckleberries", we learn that Sheriff Logan's first name is Lawrence.
    • In "Think of the Children", Kate's undercover identity is Molly Meeks.
    • Jesse James appears in three episodes.
  • All Part of the Show: In "The Play's the Thing", the audience initially thinks so when an actor dies on stage.
  • The American Civil War: Its aftermath provides a backdrop for several stories. For example, the villains of the pilot episode are a group of former Confederate soldiers who have become outlaws (and Jesse James is among them). And that's not all: they plan to avenge their fallen comrades by re-starting the conflict.
  • Antagonist Title:
    • "To the Sunset", which is the Indian name of the episode's murderer.
    • "Old Pap", which is a nickname for that episode's villain.
    • "Mudd and Clay" is named after Jeremiah Mudd, who's suspected of setting a still fire that killed 13 people, and Cyril Clay, a former business partner who's testifying against him...and turns out to be the real villain.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap:
    • The killer receives one at the end of "Double Shot". Considering that the slapper is the murderer's mother, whose son tried to frame and kill her (and had already killed her husband) so he could get his hands on the family fortune, it's pretty justified.
    • Leila Greenhow and her adopted mother Florence Moore slap each other during an argument in "The Better Angels of Our Nature".
  • Arranged Marriage: In "Frontier Desperados", Belle is being forced into one, and her desperate attempt to escape it is her Start of Darkness.
  • As the Good Book Says...:
    • In "The Case of the Dead Dog", Jeremiah Caine quotes Deuteronomy 5:21 (which includes the famous injunction "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife") at his brother Reuben, who married Jeremiah's wife after he was falsely reported dead in the war.
    • In "To the Sunset", Rebecca Harper quotes The Bible frequently. Since she's a missionary, this is hardly surprising.
    • General Sterling Price from "Old Pap" is a Bible-quoting Churchgoing Villain who uses his faith to justify his brutal actions. He also confirms that Kate isn't the evangelist she's pretending to be by tricking her into citing Scripture incorrectly.
  • Badass Beard: Allan and William both start out with them, but Allan has temporarily shaven his off by the time he appears in "The Hero of Liberty Gap". The beard returns in Allan's last two appearances.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: William meets his criminal friends at the Dubois Hotel's saloon.
  • Bald of Awesome: When Sheriff Logan finally removes his hat in "The Better Angels of Our Nature", it turns out he's balding underneath.
  • Bald of Jerkass: Judge John Shirley from "Frontier Desperados". He's broke, so he's determined to keep his daughter in a loveless marriage to a rich man, no matter what she wants.
  • Being Watched: In "The Better Angels of Our Nature", Kenji quietly sits at the bar and eavesdrops on a conversation between publisher Byron Thomas and controversial client Leila Greenhow. After they're done talking, Byron walks right up to Kenji and says, "Don't you have anything better to do?" This is the first indication that Byron, who's actually a government agent, is more than he seems.
  • Beleaguered Childhood Friend: Henry Fox from "The Sweet Science" plays this trope completely straight.
  • Berserk Button: In "On Account of Huckleberries", O'Shaugnessy says that Isabelle never really loved Sheriff Logan, then calls him a disgrace to his badge. Logan does not react well to either of these statements.
  • Betrayal by Offspring: The solution to the mystery in "Double Shot".
  • Big Damn Heroes: In "The Case of the Dead Dog", William and Kate arrive at Jeremiah Caine's farm just in time to save him from Malevolent Masked Men who are trying to hang him.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": A Running Gag in "Mudd and Clay". Jeremiah Mudd is a Jerkass who constantly insults everyone around him, causing several characters to tell him to shut up throughout the episode. Lampshaded when Mudd acknowledges this and says "[I] never get tired of hearing it."
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: In "Forever Free", this is the main reason that white officer Colonel Ferguson and black cook Selia Johnson kept their affair secret.
  • Blackmail:
    • The villain's MO in "Lines of Betrayal". The head of Missouri Copper is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who intercepts his competitors' telegraph messages so he can learn their secrets, which he uses to force them to sell out to him. He also blackmails a Classy Cat-Burglar into becoming his unwilling henchwoman.
    • The impetus for the plot of "Reunion". Four women who were nurses at a bloody Civil War battle allowed a General Ripper to die rather than let him send more soldiers to get slaughtered. The Victim of the Week learns this and threatens to expose the nurses' secret, leading one of them to kill him.
  • Black Widow: Bert Farley describes Audrey Bismark as one of these in "Think of the Children", but she sets the record straight; only one of her three husbands was wealthy, and she had nothing to do with their deaths.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: One of Kate and Will's favorite tactics.
    • In "The Devil's Trade", Kate participates in a phony seance because it's intended to scare a murder suspect into confessing. The suspect debunks the seance instead, causing a riot in the process.
    • In "Reunion", Will and Kate give false information to the nurses suspected of murder to gauge their reactions.
    • In "Frontier Desperados", they inform Belle that her husband Wade is dead although they don't know for sure, because they correctly suspect that she's involved in his kidnapping.
    • In "Murder on the Western Express", Will and Kate tell two of the murder suspects that each of them has informed on the other (which neither of them has) in hopes that one of them will confess.
  • Bounty Hunter: In "The Fourth Man", two characters turn out to have been bounty hunters posing as prospectors. One is the murder victim; the other is Kenji Harada, Kate and William's client.
  • The Boxing Episode: "The Sweet Science" is centered on "pugilism", as it was then called, complete with William getting in the ring for the climactic fight.
  • Brief Accent Imitation:
    • William does one of Allan in "Lines of Betrayal".
    • He tries it again in "Think of the Children". When he's preparing to go undercover, he goes through several accents (much to Kate's amusement) until he decides on Southern.
  • Broken Pedestal: In "Forever Free", Reginald Branscomb is a respected blacksmith who has become the leader of Kansas City's African-American community. However, he's really Moses Johnson, who did his sadistic slavemaster's dirty work—and eventually shot all but two of the slaves when Union troops arrived, because their master would have rather seen them dead than free. While he claims he himself would have been killed if he had disobeyed orders, he still tries to eliminate the two escapees before they can identify him.
  • Cain and Abel: Inverted in "The Case of the Dead Dog", where the younger brother is the villain.
  • Chekhov's Gag: In "To the Sunset", John Bell accidentally trips in front of Rain Sky, which ends up helping him win the boy's trust. Later, Will deliberately trips in front of Rain Sky to get the youth to trust him.
  • Chained to a Bed: The killer does this to Will and Kate in "The Better Angels of Our Nature".
  • Childhood Friend Romance: This is Kate's Back Story with Henry Fox in "The Sweet Science", but she decides they're Better as Friends. This turns out to be a good thing when she learns Henry is a criminal.
  • Clear Their Name: In "The Sweet Science", Kate is convinced that her old friend Henry Fox has been falsely accused of murder, and Henry is shamelessly taking advantage of their relationship. William decides Kate is too emotionally involved and only lets her stay on the case On One Condition: that he take over the investigation, albeit with Kate giving him a lot of help.
  • Cliffhanger: "To the Death", the season 1 finale, ends with Will Pinkerton and Jesse James in a gunfight. The screen goes black just before their guns go off. But considering who these characters are...
  • Clip Show: "Review", in which William's brother Robert does a performance review of the detectives as a framing device for excerpts from previous episodes...and a pretext for his Evil Plan to take over the Pinkerton agency and change its focus to protecting the rich from the poor for a hefty profit, while kicking out Kate and all the other female detectives because they're "a distraction".
  • Collector of the Strange: An important plot point in "Murder on the Western Express". Insurance executive Arthur Lintel collects weapons that were used in the assassinations of famous historical figures. His quest to buy the gun used to shoot Abraham Lincoln indirectly leads to four murders.
  • Compromising Memoirs: The subject of "The Better Angels of Our Nature". Lelia Greenhow, daughter of late Confederate spy Rose Greenhow, writes a biography of her mother that includes a lot of nasty allegations, some of them about Allan. When the book's publisher is murdered, Allan becomes the prime suspect.
  • Continuity Nod: In "The Devil's Trade", Kate refers to the events of "The Play's the Thing" and "To the Sunset".
  • Cool Old Guy: Allan Pinkerton is not only a experienced detective but a Badass Grandpa whenever he goes out in the field.
  • Cool Sword: Seen at the climax of "The Fourth Man". Kenji carries his murdered father's samurai sword. He also has a US Navy cutlass which he gives to the murderer so they can duel.
  • Corrupt Hick: Sheriff Logan is barely competent, especially in the early episodes, but he's willing to let Kate and William solve the more difficult crimes for him... as long as he gets all the credit.
  • Corrupt Politician: The mayoral election in "The Hero of Liberty Gap" provides two different varieties. Eli Buckner, the challenger, claims a to be a war hero but is actually a Dirty Coward who fakes his own kidnapping. The incumbent doesn't get his own hands dirty, but looks the other way while his sleazy campaign manager resorts to dirty tricks (including kidnapping and attempted murder) to throw the election.
  • Counterfeit Cash: In "Old Pap", General Sterling Price's newspaper is a front for his scheme to print counterfeit money that will destabilize Missouri's economy, allowing him to conquer the state so he can use it as the base for his new Confederacy.
  • Crowd Chant: Used when the undercover Will and Kate mischievously "volunteer" each other to perform in "Think of the Children". When Will gets Kate to sing, it's "Sing! Sing! Sing!"; when Kate gets Will (who's posing as a Southern rancher named Monty) to dance, it's "Monty! Monty! Monty!"
  • Damsel out of Distress: In the pilot, Kate is kidnapped by the bad guys and chained up, but picks the lock with her hatpin and escapes... only to run into William, who was on his way to save her.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: During "In Marm's Way", John Bell is revealed to have one. He grew up as an orphan in New York City, was recruited by Marm McGoldrick to join her gang of thieving children, ran away from it because he wanted to live an honest life, and wound up in Kansas City, where he's been Kate's landlord all along without anyone else realizing it.
  • Dark Secret: "Think of the Children" plays this for both laughs and drama. Will states that the Southern rancher he's posing as has one, to Kate's embarassment. Meanwhile, the murder victim had two: she was embezzling from the charity that employed her, and she beat her son so severely that he was forced to kill her.
  • Defiant to the End: During the train robbery that opens the pilot episode, the ex-Confederate outlaws discover that one of the passengers is a former Union sniper and take him off the train to shoot him. They ask him how many Confederates he killed: "Not enough", he calmly replies. These turn out to be his Last Words.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: Happens in "The Play's the Thing". The real murderer, using a small tree trunk with a knife stuck between the branches, stabs himself in the shoulder so he can pose as a victim and throw suspicion off himself. This works until Kate and William discover the tree/knife setup inside his tent.
  • Destroy the Evidence: In "On Account of Huckleberries", Will and Kate find Sheriff Logan trying to burn a photograph of himself and Isabelle together.
  • Dramatic Drop: "Forever Free" starts with Selia Johnson opening the door to her kitchen, seeing something or someone frightening, and dropping a plate of biscuits. Cut to Title Sequence.
  • Drawing Straws: How the blackmail victims in "Reunion" decide which one will meet with the blackmailer.
  • Drinking on Duty/Drowning My Sorrows: In "On Account of Huckleberries", this is how Sheriff Logan responds when the corpse of a woman he once loved is discovered and he's accused of her murder. It only makes things worse for him.
  • Drowning Pit: In "The Sweet Science", it turns out to be a washtub in Zeke Slayton's hotel room.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Kate briefly undergoes this in "Think of the Children". After she saves Audrey Bismark from an attacker, Will arrives—and Audrey (who's sweet on Will) thanks him for rescuing her.
  • External Combustion: The pilot gives this trope a 19th century twist. The villains try to sabotage a passenger train by disguising explosives as lumps of coal.
  • Eye Scream: In "Old Pap", General Sterling Price threatens to pour sulfuric acid in John Bell's eyes just because he refused to let Price order him around. Price settles for burning John's neck and shoulder instead. He's a nasty piece of work.
  • The Fagin:
    • Marm McGoldrick from "In Marm's Way".
    • "Think of the Children" has a variation in Silas Barth, who uses child labor.
  • Faking the Dead: At the climax of "On Account of Huckleberries", we learn that Isabelle O'Shaugnessy did this years ago to protect both herself and her lover, then-Deputy Logan, from her murderous husband. Unfortunately for Logan, by the time Isabelle returns to Kansas City to prove she's still alive, she's married another man and had a son with him.
  • Flashback: "On Account of Huckleberries" has several that show the relationship between Sheriff Logan and Isabelle.
  • For Want of a Nail: A Discussed Trope, and the source of the episode title, in "On Account of Huckleberries". Kenji goes searching for huckleberries in the woods, which leads him to discover a young woman's skeletal remains, which in turn leads to a murder investigation and major upheavals in Sheriff Logan's life.
  • Frame-Up:
    • The villain in "Double Shot" does this twice. He kills his own father, then frames the prostitute his father was seeing. When the Pinkertons realize she's innocent, he kills her to keep her quiet, then frames his own mother.
    • Also part of the plot in "Lines of Betrayal". See the spoiler text under "Get out of Jail Free" Card for more details.
    • Allan himself falls victim to this trope in "The Better Angels of Our Nature".
  • Fun with Foreign Languages: In "The Devil's Trade", Miyo the Mystic constantly insults the audience and her co-workers in her native Japanese. Kenji is the only one who understands her, so she gets away with it.
  • "Get out of Jail Free" Card:
    • In "Lines of Betrayal", Kate befriends Charlotte, a murder witness who turns out to be a Classy Cat-Burglar. The thief steals and sells Kate's jewelry because she's trying to get money to flee Kansas City before the Corrupt Corporate Executive she's unwillingly working for can force her to frame an innocent man for murder. After the case is settled, Kate decides Charlotte is a basically decent woman who deserves a second chance and so lets her leave town without pressing charges.
    • In "Reunion", when Sheriff Logan learns that the four ex-Civil War nurses let a General Ripper die to spare his men, he decides they've suffered enough and lets them go—except for the one who killed their blackmailer, and he asks for her to get a prison sentence instead of being hanged.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: In "The Sweet Science", Carey O'Brian is constantly threatening his fellow pugilists...which explains why he's eventually murdered.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: William does, as revealed in "The Case of the Dead Dog". As for Kate, she's a Kindhearted Cat Lover.
  • Hope Spot: At the end of "On Account of Huckleberries", when Isabelle shows up after Faking the Dead for several years, Sheriff Lawrence Logan says that they can "pick up where [they] left off". Then Isabelle reveals that she's married another man, and they have a son—which she named Lawrence.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: In "Murder on the Western Express", the Pinkertons suspect Christopher Kovac and Diana Duquesne (the spouses of the murdered stagecoach passengers) of an adulterous affair. They deny ever having met, but when Diana is about to leave, Christopher wishes her "a nice trip back to St. Louis". Since Diana never mentioned her destination, Christopher's slip-up proves that they know each other.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: "On Account of Huckleberries" ends with Sheriff Logan wishing his former lover and her family well, although his tears reveal what he's really feeling.
  • Identical-Looking Asians: Invoked in "The Fourth Man", when one of the murder suspects refers to the Japanese Kenji Harada as "some Chinese fellow".
  • Info Dump: In "Old Pap", Will tells Kate everything he knows about General Price, unaware that Kate is already familiar with him.
  • Intrepid Reporter: T. R. Tilden from "The Hero of Liberty Gap" wants to be one in the worst way. So much so that he's willing to create a story by participating in a fake kidnapping.
  • Irish Mob: Marm McGoldrick from "In Marm's Way" is a 19th century example.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sheriff Logan is pretty rough around the edges, and starts out quite antagonistic toward the Pinkertons, but as the series progresses he becomes more of this. In "Reunion", he convinces the judge to let a Sympathetic Murderer serve time instead of hanging, and in "Review" he refuses to play into Robert Pinkerton's scheming.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In "The Hero of Liberty Gap", mayoral candidate Eli Buckner claims he was a Civil War hero. Musgrave, his would-be assassin, says that he was there at the Battle of Liberty Gap, and Buckner was actually a Dirty Coward who let his men do his fighting for him. Kate eventually confirms that Musgrave was telling the truth all along.
  • Kangaroo Court: In "Double Shot", a murder suspect is "tried" in a saloon, surrounded by drunks calling for him to be hanged.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • This trope explains Kate's motivation in "Murder on the Western Express". She strongly suspects Marshall Joe Purvis of being a Dirty Cop who killed a witness against a corrupt railroad years ago, but could never prove it. When she learns that Purvis is involved in their current case, she resolves to bring him in for all the murders. However, Purvis wasn't the killer this time, and Kate still can't implicate him in the original case, so he goes free.
    • Played With in "The Better Angels of Our Nature". Byron Thomas, a Federal agent posing as a book publisher, kills a "rival" who plans to publish Rose Greenhow's scandal-ridden biography. The detectives have to let him go, but Allan points out that since the book didn't contain the information Thomas was afraid would be revealed, he's murdered an innocent man and so he'll be in trouble with his superiors.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: At the end of "Old Pap", it seems that General Sterling Price, the series' nastiest villain yet, is going to walk free since Will and Kate can't prove anything against him. But then, we learn that Price has gotten cholera from drinking contaminated water, although he had his own supply. It's implied he was poisoned by John Bell, whom he'd maimed earlier in the episode. While the end of "Old Pap" leaves his fate ambiguous, in "Review" we learn that Price did indeed die of cholera, just as his Real Life equivalent did.
  • Killing in Self-Defense:
    • Played for Drama in "Think of the Children". Freddie Sikes, who's about 12 years old, is the killer, and his abusive mother is the victim.
    • In "Murder on the Western Express", Arthur Lintel is forced to kill Sam Duckworth, who attacks him after he realizes that the Lincoln assassination gun that Duckworth is trying to sell him is a fake.
  • The Klan: The Invisible Knights of the Confederacy, mentioned (but appropriately not shown) in "The Hero of Liberty Gap".
  • Knife Nut: In "Frontier Desperados", Jesse James proves himself to be as adept with blades as with guns; he viciously slashes Kate's wrist, preventing her from following him.
  • Last-Name Basis: We don't learn Sheriff Logan's first name (Lawrence) until "On Account of Huckleberries", the series' 15th episode.
  • Lawman Gone Bad: In "Lines of Betrayal", the main villain's dragon is a Pinkerton agent who becomes The Mole—and kills his partner—because he feels mistreated and underappreciated by Allan.
  • Leave No Witnesses: The villain of "Forever Free" tries to kill the only surviving witness to his crimes at the climax of the episode. Will shoots him first.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: Sheriff Logan says this word for word in "Reunion".
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Will and Kate sometimes act like this, especially in "Frontier Desperados".
    Will: It wouldn't kill you to be pleasant, you know.
    Kate: Oh, I am—just not when you're around.
  • Literal-Minded: When Miyo is in a bad mood in "Frontier Desperados", Will asks her if she got up on the wrong side of the bed. She tells him that it's impossible for her because "I sleep by the wall".
  • Little People Are Surreal: In "The Devil's Trade", one of them appears at Dr. Sprague's medicine show.
  • The Lost Lenore: In "On Account of Huckleberries", we learn that Isabelle has been this for Sheriff Logan all along.
  • Lovable Rogue: William, who likes to hang out with the same criminals he's supposed to be arresting. He's doing it as part of The Infiltration, but his father thinks he's getting too close to his prey.
  • Love at First Sight: Happens to Will when he meets Rebecca Harper in "To the Sunset".
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: When Kenji is shot in "Mudd and Clay", Kate removes the bullet with a lock pick and sterilizes the wound with drinking alcohol.
  • Medicine Show: In "The Devil's Trade", the presentation by Dr. Sprague's traveling mystics resembles one.
  • Miss Kitty: Annalee Webb is an atypically young example, mostly because she's also a Hooker with a Heart of Gold.
  • Mix and Match: It's a Western Series and a Detective Drama.
  • The Mole:
    • In "The Fourth Man", the murder suspects are Working on the Chain Gang together. The detectives send John Bell to infiltrate them by having him pretend to be another suspect, and then trick the killer into saying something incriminating around him.
    • John does this again in "Forever Free", when he becomes the cook for a regiment of Buffalo Soldiers who are reluctant to talk to white authority figures like Will and Kate.
  • Moment Killer: In "Forever Free", Kate is happy to interrupt Will's attempt to seduce a woman at the saloon.
  • Murder by Mistake: In "The Play's the Thing", Kate correctly deduces that the poison wasn't meant for the man who drank it.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • Kate reveals hers in "Old Pap". During the war, she seduced a Confederate soldier into giving her information, falling in love with him in the process. Then General Sterling Price found out; she escaped to safety, but Price killed the soldier, leaving her to blame herself.
    • Sheriff Logan reveals his in "On Account of Huckleberries". He feels guilty that he could neither protect Isabelle from being killed nor solve her murder.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • In "The Play's the Thing", the villain turns out to be John Parker, Lincoln's former bodyguard, who failed to prevent Lincoln's assassination because he was getting drunk at a bar across the street from the Ford Theater. He then goes on to stalk Edwin Booth, the assassin's brother, and kills an innocent victim in the process.
    • In "The Hero of Liberty Gap", William prevents the assassination of mayoral candidate Eli Buckner, then becomes the man's bodyguard. The candidate disappears a few hours later. However, William is exonerated when it turns out that Buckner had faked the whole thing.
    • In "Frontier Desperados", it seems that the Pinkertons lose both a kidnap victim and the ransom money that was supposed to free him. However, they eventually solve the case and save the victim, whose father admits they did a good job.
    • "Murder on the Western Express" ends with Kate and Will discussing how they mishandled the case, which they only solved through a lucky break.
    • See the spoiler for "The Devil's Trade" under Bluffing the Murderer above for another example.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: At the climax of "The Sweet Science", William delivers one to Henry Fox, partially as part of his plan to expose the murderer, partially out of anger for Henry's manipulation of Kate.
  • Not Me This Time: In "Mudd and Clay", Jeremiah Mudd is accused of a still fire that killed 13 people, with the only question being whether the fire was deliberate or an accident caused by gross negligence. Mudd insists that he's innocent; he builds his stills to last, and he found evidence that the fire was caused by sabotage. He's telling the truth.
  • Not So Different: Occurs at the climax of "The Play's the Thing". Lincoln's old bodyguard John Parker is about to kill Edwin Booth, who talks him down by pointing out that Edwin's brother John has ruined both their lives.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In the pilot, the main villain poses as a slow-witted member of his own gang.
  • Obsessive Love Letter: In "On Account of Huckleberries", we learn that Sheriff Logan sent one to Isabelle O'Shaughnessy. It later becomes evidence against him when he's charged with her murder.
  • One-Word Title: "Reunion" and "Review".
  • Phony Psychic: Dr. Sprague, his sons, and Miyo the Mystic in "The Devil's Trade".
  • Pinkerton Detective: Yes.
  • Poker: In "The Fourth Man", the Victim of the Week and the three men eventually suspected of killing him are introduced playing the game.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: In "Old Pap", General Sterling Price wants to create a new Confederacy where "the property rights of white men", and only white men, are respected. He feels he has the right to order any stray black person around—and punish them horrifically if they disobey.
  • The Promise: Allan tolerates being arrested for murder in "The Better Angels of Our Nature" because "I made a promise to a man that cannot be broken", and the only way to prove his innocence is to break that promise. The man was President Lincoln, and the promise Allan made was not to reveal that Lincoln's secretary of war was one of the men seduced by Confederate spy Rose Greenhow, and Lincoln made a deal to keep the information secret.
  • ''Psycho'' Strings: Briefly heard when a murder is discovered in "Think of the Children".
  • Public Execution: "The Fourth Man" ends with Sheriff Logan planning to hang that episode's murderer as the town watches—and take advantage of it in his re-election campaign.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • In "Reunion", when Will asks Daphne Holtzmann an incriminating question, she tensely answers "I. Don't. Know."
    • Allan (allegedly) does this in one of the flashbacks from "The Better Angels of Our Nature". He tells Rose Greenhow that he can't prove she's a Confederate spy, but she'd better confess anyway or she'll be hanged for treason.
      Rose: Then I'll die a hero.
      Allan: Like. A. Traitor!
  • Ransom Drop: This is where it all goes wrong for Will and Kate in "Frontier Desperados".
  • "Rashomon"-Style: "The Better Angels of Our Nature" plays with this trope. The episode has three different flashbacks of Allan's meeting with Confederate spy Rose Greenhow, each of which plays out differently because it's from the perspective of a different character.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Played With in "Review". When Robert Pinkerton comes to Kansas City, all the characters act as if they've met him before. This is his first appearance in the series, although Will mentioned their contentious relationship in "The Case of the Dead Dog" as Foreshadowing.
  • Revenge Before Reason: In "Murder on the Western Express", Kate is so determined to bring in Joe Purvis that she becomes obsessive about it, until Will gives her a What the Hell, Hero? speech that brings her around.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Firemaker from "To the Sunset". He knows that both Rain Sky and the man who kidnapped him are nearby before Will even realizes that there's anyone else in their part of the forest.
  • The Scientific Method: Kate uses this as part of her detective work.
  • Secret Test of Character: Played With in "The Hero of Liberty Gap". Kate pretends to be a Dry Crusader to talk to The Alcoholic Musgrave in jail after he tries to kill a mayoral candidate. He clams up and tells her not to come back unless she brings some booze with her. When Kate does so and Musgrave points out how strange this is, she claims that she's really an agent of the Invisible Knights of the Confederacy who was testing his loyalty—and he passed. Between this and the alcohol, Kate gets Musgrave to answer all her questions.
  • Self-Made Orphan:
    • The villain of "Double Shot" attempts this in order to get the family inheritance a little early.
    • In "Think of the Children", young Freddie Sikes is forced to kill his abusive mother in self-defense. His father is never mentioned.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Sergeant August Healy, one of the Buffalo Soldiers in "Forever Free", is taken aback when an admiring John asks him about his battlefield heroics, explaining that "there's nothing noble about war".
  • Sherlock Scan: Kate does this in a show whose setting predates the Sherlock Holmes stories.
  • Ship Tease: The way William and Kate banter, you'd think they were a couple already.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • In "The Sweet Science", the pugilists fight bare-chested.
    • In "Forever Free", John has to come up with a way to search the Buffalo Soldiers' bodies for a certain Slave Brand. He gets them to strip by telling them they're being inspected for lice.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: "The Play's the Thing" features a troupe of actors who are producing Hamlet. This is referenced in "The Devil's Trade".
  • A Sinister Clue: The killer in "To the Sunset" is left-handed, which allows Kate to rule out the right-handed Firemaker as a suspect.
  • Sixth Ranger: Kenji becomes one at the end of "The Devil's Trade".
  • Slave Brand: The ex-slaves in "Forever Free" have them. Some of them are deliberately obscured.
  • Snowed-In: In "Mudd and Clay", a snowstorm traps Will and Kate at the Dubois with the criminal they're bringing to trial... and a saloon full of his vengeful victims.
  • Spooky Séance: Dr. Sprague holds one in "The Devil's Trade".
  • The Starscream: In "Review", Robert Pinkerton wants to take over the Pinkerton agency and throw out his father Allan, whom he's always resented. He tries to tempt his brother Will with We Can Rule Together, but Will opposes him.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Kate runs into men of this view on a regular basis, starting with William, who gets over it soon enough.
  • Stylistic Suck: All over the place in "The Play's the Thing", since the guest stars are a theatrical troupe with only one talented actor. And that's before William goes undercover with them...
  • Southern Belle: Kate poses as one in the pilot.
  • Stock Femur Bone: "On Account of Huckleberries" begins with Kenji discovering a young woman's femur in the woods. He finds her skull a moment later.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver:
    • During "In Marm's Way", Kate briefly disguises herself as a man to help Will spy on the bad guys.
    • Played for Drama in "Forever Free". Buffalo Soldier "William Cathay" is actually Cathy Williams. Kate and Will decide not to tell anyone, although John Bell reveals her secret to Robert Pinkerton (without providing her name) in "Review".
  • Team Title: More or less.
  • There Are No Rules: The referee uses this phrase verbatim before a pugilistic match in "The Sweet Science".
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: In "Mudd and Clay" Annalee, who wants Jeremiah Mudd dead because he took several of her girls (which wound up badly for them), nearly slashes his throat with a razor, but stops herself because she doesn't want to cross the Moral Event Horizon: "There are lines a good person should not cross, even if they have every reason to".
  • Throwing the Fight: In "The Sweet Science", all of the matches refereed by Zeke Slayton are fixed. And not only that, the pugilists often bet on their own fights.
  • Title Drop: At the end of "The Better Angels of Our Nature", Allan quotes the Lincoln speech that provides the episode's title.
  • Title, Please!: As with many series of the era, the episode titles are never shown onscreen.
  • To Know Him, I Must Become Him: Allan and William both believe that "to catch a criminal, you have to think like a criminal."
  • Train Job: The pilot episode starts with the very first one.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: In "Think of the Children", Kate sings an excerpt from "Jeff in Petticoats", an authentic 1865 song which celebrates Jefferson Davis' humiliating defeat.
  • The Watson: Will becomes one in "The Sweet Science" when Kate explains to him how this weird new device called a "microscope" works.
  • Wealthy Philanthropist: Phineas Hufnagle from "Think of the Children". The scion of a rich family, he's Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life, so he raises money to open an orphanage. He's "naive and pompous", but he means well.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Allan takes a dim view of William's palling around with criminals, even though it gets results, because William enjoys it a little too much (indeed, one reason Allan hired Kate is so she could keep an eye on William). William realizes this and is trying to earn his father's approval.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: "In Marm's Way" has a variation. Two male outlaws are learning to dance, and one of them wears a skirt over his regular outfit.
  • World of Snark: The three leads all have their moments of Deadpan Snarker-dom. Sometimes combined with Casual Danger Dialog.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • In "The Sweet Science", burly pugilist Carey O'Brian pulls a gun on Kate. When she takes it from him, he gives her a One-Hit Knockout.
    • In "Frontier Desperados", Jesse James doesn't bother hitting Kate; he just slashes her wrist.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Occurs at the climax of "To the Sunset". When Jonah West realizes that 12-year-old Indian Rain Sky witnessed the murders he committed, West pulls a gun on the boy without hesitation. Good thing Will and Kate removed all the bullets...
    • Part of the Back Story in "Think of the Children". Freddie Sikes' mother is so horrifically abusive that he's forced to kill her in self-defense.
  • You Have Failed Me: Jesse James does this to his bumbling henchman in "Frontier Desperados". At least he's nice enough to listen to the henchman's excuses first.
  • You Killed My Father: In "The Fourth Man", Kenji Harada wants to kill Hezekiah Platt, the American diplomat who planned his father's murder. Kate and William stop Kenji just in time by pointing out that his father (who was assassinated because he favored cooperation between Japan and America) wouldn't have wanted this... and since Platt directly murdered Kenji's partner, he's going to hang anyway.
  • Young Future Famous People: In the pilot, a minor member of the outlaw gang is revealed to be the young Jesse James. He returns in "Frontier Desperados" and "To the Death"."Frontier Desperados" also provides an Origin Story for Belle Starr.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • In "The Devil's Trade", Beatrice Barclay was cheating on her husband with Malone, which clears him of the murder.
    • In "Frontier Desperados", the future Belle Starr is cheating with none other than Jesse James.
    • In "Old Pap", while Kate is disguised as an evangelist, a woman comes to her with a dilemma: she cheated on her husband, who's now dying of cholera. Should she confess to him? Not sure what to do, Kate tells the woman to follow her heart. The woman confesses, her husband confesses his sins to her, they reconcile, and the husband recovers.
    • Played for Drama in "On Account of Huckleberries", where the long-ago affair between Isabelle O'Shaugnessy and then-Deputy Logan has devastating consequences in the present day.
    • In "Murder on the Western Express", two of the murder suspects are having an adulterous affair.
    • Allan is accused of an adulterous affair with Confederate spy Rose Greenhow in "The Better Angels of Our Nature". He's innocent.

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