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Series / Ultimate Force

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Ultimate Force indeed, ladies and gentlemen...

Ultimate Force. Originally starring Ross Kemp, Jamie Draven, Tony Curran, Danny Sapani and Miles Anderson as members of the British Special Air Service Regiment, more specifically the fictional 'Red Troop'. Created by Rob Heyland and Chris Ryan, the show's first two series presented a stark and brutal demonstration of what the operators of the SAS go through, from hostage rescue to preventing an assassination, and the repercussions of their actions both with the world at large as well as with their families and friends. People die. But then it went pear-shaped with the beginning of the third series. The entire cast, excluding Ross Kemp, Miles Anderson, and Christopher Fox. were given the boot and replaced with a new cast.

The show has aired in over a few countries now, including recently the USA (via BBC's American channel) aside from most of Europe, Oceania and Japan (as SAS: British Special Forces in Japanese). It's also available only in DVD currently with a collector's edition that collects all of the DVDs from all four seasons.


This show features examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: The departure of half the cast led to several plot threads going unresolved, such as Jamie's family drama, the death of his stepfather (Word of God states that Ricky killed him), Pete's struggle with PTSD, his wife's affair, Henno's killing of Capt. Ian Macalwain and Jamie's relationship with Caroline.
  • Action Girl: Becca Gallagher and Caroline Walshe.
  • Affably Evil: Louis, who combines a bit of Sociopathic Hero and Deadpan Snarker to create one of the more interesting characters later in the show.
    • If only because he's one of only three original cast members by Season 3.
  • Anyone Can Die: Slightly jarring at times, particularly during the first series.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking/Colonel Badass: Colonel Aidan Dempsey reliably kicks a lot of arse when called upon, most notably in "Dead Is Forever", "Never Go Back" and - particularly - "Charlie Bravo". In the latter, he strides through a gunfight, casually taking one-handed potshots at rebels, while exhorting his local counterpart to "Pretend you're an officer and get your men in order!"
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  • Badass Crew: Well, they're the SAS...
  • Black Comedy: Most of the original cast frequently indulges in it.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted, Ricky Mann dies off-screen.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Col. Dempsey is the Captain Smooth, while Henno fits the Sgt Rough trope to a T.
  • Cartoon Bomb: In one episode, Henno, having jumped out a transit stuffed with tertiary explosives, is on the cliff face when the van detonates, the yield supposedly capable of shifting an entire city block sideways, and Henno climbs up with no apparent ill effects from an overpressure that would normally have collapsed his lungs, throat and sinuses.
  • Catchphrase: Ricky Mann's "They love it" and variations thereof.
  • Chickification: Mostly averted with the female cast members, but happens a little bit to Becca Gallagher, who goes from staunch tomboy at first to dressing in more noticeably feminine ways out of uniform by the end of the run.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: MI-5 Attache Pru Banks, who is a regular in series 2 and ends the series romantically involved with Henno, disappears without explanation before the beginning of series 3.
    • Also happens to Kathy Crampton after Series 3, although she featured less often, and Sean Smith, who was head of Blue Troop for two seasons and had been on enough missions for his absence to be noticeable.
  • Cool Guns: Plenty.
    • The squad's main sidearm is a Browning Hi-Power.
    • The MP5A3 is the main weapon used for domestic counter-terror operations
    • Various models of Colt M16 and M4s are used overseas.
  • Cop Killer: An ex-British soldier from the first Gulf War kills a couple of constables.
  • Coup de Grâce: In conjunction with No Kill Like Overkill, SAS troopers are shown taking down terrorists with controlled bursts and then raking the body with a few more to make sure their targets don't get back up.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The UK-based Al-Qaeda cell in "Class of 1980". They were so prepared that they expected to face SAS CRW commandos when they gunned down SO19 officers before the SAS went to engage them, armed with LAW rocket launchers and a FN MAG GPMG to stall the CRW units before Red Team was able to defeat them.
  • Creator Cameo: Chris Ryan shows up as the commander of Blue Troop.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": Henno reminds the newcomers in the 1st episode not to call an officer "Sir".
  • Double Agent: A PIRA officer was also working with the RUC in quelling the revolts in Northern Ireland.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Done with nearly the entire cast at the beginning of Series 3. Only Dempsey, Henno, and Louis made it through unscathed.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: The British SAS after all, even when they get on the action with little/no involvement from SO19. There's (possibly) the 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment, although they get into a firefight with SAS units in civilian clothing.
  • Fake Shemp: Draven, Curran and Sapani didn't return for the third series, so body doubles were used for their death scene.
  • A Father to His Men: Colonel Dempsey, very much so.
  • Far East Asian Terrorists: Red Troop was called during a hijacking to take out Tibetan ultranationalist terrorists, led by an ex-British Army officer who is tired of seeing the Chinese government mistreat Tibetans.
  • Five-Token Band: Between the working-class northerner (Jamie), the big black man (Ricky), the ginger Scot (Pete), the middle-class British-Asian (Alex) and the public-schoolboy Captain (Dotsy), the original cast ticked virtually every British socio-ethnic box going. Keeping it PC.
  • Instant Marksman: Just Squeeze Trigger!: Played With when Henno gives a pistol to an ambassador he is protecting with these instructions. However, he then reveals he was actually suggesting a suicide method.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Corporal Louis Hoffman embodies this.
  • Large Ham: Ross Kemp as Staff Sergeant Henno Garvey, also Miles Anderson as Colonel Aidan Dempsey.
    • "Boss" from the very first episode also comes to mind.
  • Middle Eastern Terrorists: One episode involves the squad taking out an Al-Qaeda cell that occupied the Italian Embassy.
  • Missing Backblast: Horrifically averted in Season 4's "Violent Solutions". One of the bad guys fires a LAW 80 from the top of a bus, roasting the face of one of his own men. Becca, undercover on the bus, manages to duck, thus secretly weaponizing it.
  • Model Planning: The SAS team under Henno practices with a semi-turned thief on how to break into a high-security vault.
  • The Neidermeyer: Captain Macalwain showed many tendencies toward this.
  • Not Enough to Bury: According to Henno, Pete had to have sandbags in his coffin, "because there wasn't enough to fill a mess tin".
  • Off with His Head!: In "Never Go Back", Henno decapitates a man who was holding him hostage with a machete.
  • Pervy Patdown: While posing as a mercenary, Henno uses the opportunity to 'demonstrate' the correct way to search a female journalist coming to interview the warlord he's working for. The journalist is actually a female member of Henno's unit, so while his pat-down is entirely professional there's a definite subtext.
  • Put on a Bus: Caroline Walshe gets this treatment at the beginning of Series 3, after being a major character in the first two series. She doesn't return.
  • Shoot the Television: Pete shoots a TV set during a CQB exercise. When asked why he used his weapon it, he insisted that the program airing constituted "a threat" that justified lethal force.
  • Shout-Out: Henno saying a familiar line by John McClane after he knifes a PIRA/RUC double agent to death.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Naturally, given Red Team's habit of explosive breaches.
    • In ""Violent Solutions", an anti-tank rocket fired at a police car misses and hits a flatbed truck...'loaded with fireworks. The driver immediately runs the hell away as the entire load goes up
  • The Squadette: Becca Gallagher, to some one of the contributing reasons to the vault over the shark.
  • Unfriendly Fire: In the series 2 finale, Henno clears a room with Captain Macalwain, picks up an enemy AK-47, and shoots half a clip into his back in retaliation for sleeping with the wife of one of his men. Afterwards he has a Coke.
  • Wham Episode: The first episode of series 3 killed off three of the five main characters in the first five minutes and put its mission control on a bus, as part of a retool to a longer format.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Alex guns down a Russian-British scientist named Sergei after he was holding a flask in a top-secret disease research center. Jamie uses this on Alex that the two slugged it out against each other. Granted that Sergei was not armed and was under heavy stress when one of his relatives was with a pro-Chechen extremist group that attacked the center that it initially raised a lot of suspicion, but he was cleared of not being a terrorist. Still you wonder if his relatives would press charges against the British military for wounding/killing Sergei?
    • Henno guns down Captain Macalwain at close range in Georgia during a rescue mission, covering it up by disguising it as a shootout between Georgian government-sponsored militants and Red Troop. The others didn't bother to figure it out (possibly since the captain's personality was disliked by most of them) and Colonel Dempsey treated him as a "hero", not bothering to ask any questions.


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