Follow TV Tropes


Series / Vienna Blood

Go To
Inspector Oskar Reinhardt (Juergen Maurer) and Dr. Max Liebermann (Matthew Beard)

Vienna Blood is a BBC limited series that has run so far for three seasons, since 2019, lasting three 90-minute episodes each. (When it ran in the United States on PBS the episodes were shown in two parts, making a total of six per season.)

It is a series of detective dramas, based on the Liebermann Papers series of novels by Frank Tallis. The setting is Vienna, Austria in 1906 and the years immediately after. Franz Joseph is emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Adolf Hitler will soon come to town to study art,note  and World War I is just a few years away. Max Liebermann (Matthew Beard) is a British-born medical student whose family moved to Vienna when he was young, and serves as an intern in a mental asylum. After attending a lecture by Sigmund Freud Max becomes an instant convert and proponent of the new science of psychiatry.

Max is interested in the intersection of psychiatry and criminal investigation. He gets his father to pull some strings and has himself inserted into the Vienna police, where he is attached to Inspector Oskar Reinhardt (Juergen Maurer). Reinhardt is an intense, driven man, haunted by past tragedy, pushed by demanding superiors. He takes an early dislike to insufferable know-it-all Max, but sure enough, they eventually form an effective partnership.

The Liebermanns are Jewish, and the anti-Semitism of early 20th-century Vienna is a running theme. Conleth Hill plays Max's father Mendel, a wealthy clothing merchant who is trying to gain entry into upper-crust Viennese society. Jessica De Gouw appeared in the first season as Amelia, a chemist whom Max is attracted to. (The role was recast with Lucy Griffiths for Season 2.)

Season 1 (2019):

  • "The Last Seance": A fake psychic is found shot dead in her apartment, the room locked, the doors bolted, the gun and even the bullet missing.
  • "Queen of the Night": A serial killer brutally murders a prostitute; Max's preoccupation with his criminal justice work threatens his relationship with Clara.
  • "The Lost Child": Max's nephew, a cadet at a Viennese military academy, cuts himself with a knife. Max and Oskar then investigate the mysterious death of another academy cadet.

Season 2 ran in December 2021. This season is set in 1907, and finds Max having set up his own practice as a psychologist. This season's episodes were:

  • "The Melancholy Countess": An aristocratic patient of Max's is found dead in an apparent suicide, putting his career in jeopardy.
  • "The Devil's Kiss": A mutilated corpse in a derelict building drags Max and Oskar into the world of international espionage and terrorism.
  • "Darkness Rising": A notoriously antisemitic monk is gruesomely murdered, and a prominent member of Vienna's Jewish community is the prime suspect.

Season 3 (2022): Set in 1908. Max has made enough of a reputation in the field of psychology that he's published a book and is giving book signings. Meanwhile, he's still drawn to Clara, who is starting a career of her own as a reporter. Oskar gets a love interest in the person of Therese, a middle-aged single mom that he meets in the course of an investigation.

  • "Deadly Communion": A Serial Killer becomes fixated on Max as the one man who might understand him.
  • "The God of Shadows": What is the connection between the paranoid terrors of an old soldier whom Max is asked to treat, and the spate of burglaries of wealthy homes that Oskar has been ordered to solve?
  • "Death is Now a Welcome Guest": Oskar and Max investigate when Ida Rego, a film star, is poisoned at the premiere of her new movie.


  • Abandoned Hospital: In "The Melancholy Countess" Gruner admits that the countess's violent, deranged son Istvan was kept as a boy in the children's wing of the asylum. Max and Oskar go there to find an abandoned, dilapidated, crumbling, and very creepy empty building—except that it isn't quite abandoned because Istvan is living there.
  • Abnormal Ammo: The victim in "The Last Seance" was shot with a flintlock pistol loaded with bone fragments and wadding. Dense enough to kill at point-blank range (the victim was burned by the muzzle blast), but disintegrates enough to confuse the pathologist.
  • Acquitted Too Late: In "Queen of the Night" Max quickly realizes the mentally retarded man they initially arrest and charge for the brothel murders didn't do it, and Amelia is able to prove forensically that the blood found on his clothes is all from his job at a slaughterhouse. Unfortunately his name is already in the papers and a police sergeant intentionally sets him up for a Vigilante Execution by two vagrants he puts into the suspect's cell.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: In fact Freudian psychology is just being invented, and Max is a huge fan. His boss Professor Gruner is emphatically not.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Max, a psychoanalyst and disciple of Freud who finds himself investigating murders with the Vienna police.
  • Amicable Exes: Max and his ex-fiancée Clara, who broke up at the end of Season 1 but in Season 3 have renewed a friendship. Max is obviously feeling the old feelings again and in "The God of Shadows" invites her to dinner. Clara declines, saying that they've found a way to get along now and she doesn't want to spoil it.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The first season ends with Max asking Oskar "What's our next case?"
  • Answer Cut:
    • In need of a second for his duel in "Queen of the Night", Max says that he needs a policeman in order to arrest Hafner, but that Oskar can't do it because they already know he's a cop. Max then looks to his left and Oskar says "No, no!" Cut to von Bülow, Oskar's archrival in the department, who does in fact serve as Max's second.
    • "The God of Shadows": The villain is stealing fancy Chinese cabinets looking for a treasure hidden within. Max decides they have to make a fake cabinet to smoke the villain out—but they'll have to advertise it. Oskar asks "And how exactly are we going to do that?" Cue Max meeting his ex-fiancée Clara, now a newspaper reporter.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Justified due to the show's nature as a Period Drama.
    • Max is portrayed as thoughtful and enlightened for his belief in and use of Freudian psychology and the "talking cure". His supervising physician Gruner is portrayed as a brutal torturer for his use of shock therapy—and electroconvulsive therapy really is torture if it's done without anesthesia and muscle relaxants. In the show, it's ambiguous whether Max or Gruner was more effective at treating Amelia's dissociative disorder (though the framing supports Max since it's his story); however, modern medical science has shown ECT to be really useful for quite a few mental conditions, while Freudian psychology, though the forerunner of modern cognitive behavioral therapy, is now dismissed as mostly nonsense.
    • On the other hand, Max is completely right to have taken the eponymous "Melancholy Countess" off of Gruner's opium prescription. Besides the dangers of addiction, opiates generally make depression ("melancholy") worse once the immediate pleasurable effects of a high wear off.
  • Asshole Victim: The murder victim in "Darkness Rising" is Brother Stanislav, a virulently anti-Semitic monk. Suspicion falls on Clara's prospective brother-in-law, a Jew who confronted Brother Stanislav in public.
  • Audible Sharpness: There's quite the loud, dramatic zing on the soundtrack when Olbricht, the murderer, yanks his cavalry saber out of its scabbard in the climactic scene of "Queen of the Night".
  • Bad Habits: In "Darkness Rising", Max goes undercover in the monastery as "Brother Maxwell from Oxford", with the help of a monk who doesn't agree with the abbot's cover-up of the murder.
  • Betty and Veronica: Max's two love interests, Amelia and Clara. Amelia is introduced having a schizophrenic breakdown, but even after that, she's a frank and bold woman working a professional job in 1907. She has dark hair. His fiancée Clara is gorgeous and sweet and wants to get married and for Max to pay more attention to her. She's blonde.
  • Big Bad Friend: In the third season, Max gradually warms up to the new head of neurology at the hospital, Professor Neumann, and Neumann even starts dating Max's sister. Then he turns out to be the killer in the season's final episode, and kills himself when Oskar turns up to arrest him.
  • Bitter Almonds: Amelia eventually figures out that the boy who died in "The Lost Child" was poisoned; she can tell by the smell of cyanide on his coat.
  • Bittersweet Ending: For season one. Max loses his position at the hospital because Dr. Gruner is offended that Max brought in an outside expert (Amelia) to do forensics tests on Thomas Zelenka's body (which didn't turn up anything), but he's found working with the police as a forensic psychologist to be more fulfilling anyway. He and Clara break up, but he's found a new attraction to Amelia, who seems receptive. For Oskar it's mostly all "bitter": he's passed over for promotion because his superior and his rival are both alumni of the Military Academy whose reputation the Mystery of the Week just ruined, and his wife leaves him for good. But he's finally starting to get over the death of their daughter.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: It might not specifically be a wedding dress, but the medium who is killed in episode 1 is found laid out on a couch in a fancy all-white dress, a large bloodstain in the middle from where she was shot through the heart.
  • Blunt "Yes": Oscar is mildly irritated by Max tagging along in Episode 2.
    Oscar: Are you planning to follow me around every time I have a murder case?
    Max: Yes, that is my current plan.
  • The Book Cipher: Max discovers that his nephew Daniel was writing something in code. He figures out that it was a book cipher but can't decode it because he doesn't have the book. Eventually he figures out that the cipher isn't a book at all, it's the school prayer.
  • Bowdlerization: There's nude scenes in some episodes, which PBS blurs out.
  • Buddy Cop Show: By-the-Book Cop Oskar, paired with erratic aspiring forensic psychologist Max.
  • Bury Your Gays: The solution of "The Melancholy Countess" is that Countess Nadazdy was poisoned by mistake, the real target being the disgraced cavalry officer turned gigolo Oktav Hauke, whom she was dining with. The murderer is a member of the hotel staff, whose son committed suicide after being caught having gay sex with Hauke, leading to both of them being expelled from the army, and who believes Hauke to be a villain who seduced and ruined her son. Max and Otto realise this too late to prevent the woman from shooting first Hauke and then herself.
  • Butch Lesbian: In "Death is Now a Welcome Guest", the film studio producer is a short-haired androgynous-looking woman who wears mens' suits and talks with bitter knowingness about the dead actress's love of making people fall in love with her.
  • Casting Couch: A spiteful Arianne Amsel alleges that she was replaced by Ida Rego in "Dido, Queen of Carthage" because Ida put out for the film's producer.note 
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Herr Strobl in "Darkness Rising", seen buying the Korngold bank after Isaac Korngold is charged with murder and the bank's business is wrecked. He turns out to have murdered Brother David and framed Isaac.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Amelia is completely absent from the third season, with Max now once again involved in a vaguely flirtatious relationship with his ex-fiancee Clara, who is trying to make a career as a journalist.
    • For that matter Clara's fiance, shown in "Darkness Rising"—it's his brother who is arrested for the murder—has also disappeared. Presumably the renewed attraction between Clara and Max led to both of their relationships breaking up.
    • Mendel wonders "Could it be Amelia?" when the phone rings at Max's house in "Deadly Communion", indicating that even Max's family might not be fully aware of how the Max-Amelia relationship ended.
  • Confessional: With Max in a monastery, undercover as a monk in "Darkness Rising", he and Oskar meet in a confessional booth for a briefing.
  • Continuity Nod: In "Death Is Now a Welcome Guest", a stressed-out Von Bulow mentions "that business with the Russians last year", that being the terrorist attack on an Austro-Russian diplomatic conference in "The Devil's Kiss".
  • Contrast Montage: "The Last Seance" cuts repeatedly between the high-class opera singer at the performance that the Liebermanns attend, and the low-class dance hall singer at the dance hall where a cop tails Braun.
  • Cut-and-Paste Note: "Death Is Now a Welcome Guest"—Ida was receiving threatening notes of the cut-and-paste variety that said things like "du wirst vor schmerzen schreien bevor du stirbst", or "you will scream in pain before you die."
  • Death by Falling Over: This is how the first victim dies in "Darkness Rising": he is pushed in an argument, and falls down and hits his head. Matters are confused by the pusher making the death look deliberate to try to frame someone else, and a third party then moving the body, for reasons of his own.
  • Delayed Explosion: At the end of "The Devil's Kiss", Max has thrown the bomb into a stream. Nothing happens. The Austrian minister says "This is so embarrassing," then turns to his Russian counterpart and says "I do apologize—", and then the bomb explodes.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: In "Queen of the Night", Hafner the cavalryman nearly rapes Clara, and in fact would have if Max hadn't burst in and saved her. When Max demands that Hafner be arrested for assault, Oskar explains that it's his word against hers and she let him into the house and all they'd be doing is ruining Clara's reputation.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Lazar Kiss, a mysterious terrorist-for-hire working with the Serbian Black Hand, who manages to use Max and Oskar as pawns for almost the whole episode and gets away scot free.
  • Disney Villain Death: Priel is running from Max at the end of "Darkness Rising" when he careens through a warning chain and plunges off a high balcony in the museum, to his death.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Episode 1.2 revolves around the murder of four prostitutes, all at once, at a high-class Vienna brothel.
  • Distant Prologue: "The God of Shadows" starts with a brief clip of the violence of the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.
  • Dramatic Drop: Brother David, who is the monastery's medic, drops his jar of herbs when Max asks him about the brother that they just "lost". ("Darkness Rising")
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Done in "The Lost Child" when the boy who was going to be the victim of the Russian Roulette game points the gun at Wolf, chief of the torturers.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Capt. Steiner, the demented Army veteran in "The God of Shadows", picks a particularly gruesome way to do this. He ties himself up in the basement of the mental hospital next to some pipes, opens what turns out to be a steam valve, and boils himself to death.
    • The climax of "Death Is Now a Welcome Guest" has Professor Neumann kill himself via an injection rather than be arrested for murder.
  • Duel to the Death: An army officer challenges Max to a duel after Max punches him in the face after walking in on him attempting to rape Clara. Max accepts after finding he can't simply have the man arrested because the Austrian justice system considers it "her word against his", planning to instead provoke his opponent into confessing to the Murder of the Week before the shots are fired. The officer is innocent of that crime, and Max has a "Eureka!" Moment about the real killer and runs off the field, the duel forgotten.
  • Dunking the Bomb: At the end of "The Devil's Kiss", Max, faced with a bomb he has no idea how to defuse, races over to a stream outside the castle and throws the bomb in the stream, where it explodes.
  • Dutch Angle: Used heavily throughout the series, generally whenever something tense or spooky is happening.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy Is Torture: Amelia, the hospital worker who has a dissociative breakdown in "The Last Seance", is given electroshock therapy in episode 1, as Max observes. It is horrifying. Later it's revealed that she suffered a lot of memory loss as a result.
    Max: You can't use these instruments of torture!
  • Ethereal White Dress: The dying countess in "The Melancholy Countess", and the Russian lady hotel guest, both see a spooky lady in a white dress. The Russian woman says the mysterious lady in the dress had "the eyes of a devil."
  • Fan Disservice: "Queen of the Night" has full-frontal female nudity (blurred out in the PBS release), in the form of a corpse on an autopsy table.
  • Fanservice Extra: The topless hooker that Braun is cavorting with when Oscar and Max find him in "The Last Seance".
  • Finger in the Mail: In "The Devil's Kiss" a body is discovered, missing its tongue and right hand. A little while later, the missing hand is found right outside of police headquarters, with a letter addressed to Oskar.
  • Flashback: As Max and Oskar are studying the corpse of freshly murdered Ida Rego in "Death Is a Welcome Guest", Oskar, who picked up on a certain familiarity Max had with Ida, says "Tell me everything." Cut to a flashback from two months ago in which Max examined Ida, who had been hospitalized with a case of hysterical blindness.
  • Freudian Couch: In "The Melancholy Countess" Max has his own practice. Being the Freud disciple that he is, he naturally has patients lying on a couch. He has patients on his couch in other episodes that follow.
  • Friend in the Press: In season three, following two failed engagements, Clara decides to underline her past, and carve a new life and career for herself as a journalist. Unfulfilled by the dull, minor social events her paper sends her to report on, she uses her connections to Max and Oscar to get details of the cases they are working on allowing her to print the story first and thus get a chance to have a serious career. In return she attempts to become this for them, offering the full support of the press, although they are both initially reluctant to take her up on the offer they manage to work out a functioning relationship.
  • Grand Staircase Entrance: In "Death Is a Welcome Guest", Ida Rego, the star of the film that is about to play, makes a big entrance to the main foyer from a staircase, wearing a snazzy dress and hat. She even stops at the top of the stairs for reporters to take pictures.
  • Hey, You!: In "The God of Shadows" Oskar gets tired of his Pointy-Haired Boss Von Bulow pushing him around. He pushes Von Bulow down in his chair, jabs a finger in Von Bulow's chest, angrily says "I'll only take so much"...and makes a point of calling his boss simply "Bulow", omitting the honorific "Von." Von Bulow picks up on this, and while he is obviously terrified of Oskar he does gather the nerve to say "It's VON Bulow" as Oskar is stomping out the door.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • Max is a great admirer of Sigmund Freud and attends a lecture he gives in "The Last Seance" (played by Franz Josef Koepp).
    • Gustav Mahler himself shows up to play piano for a musical performance in "The Last Seance" (played by Roman Kariolou). The audience doesn't applaud because he's a Jew.
  • Historical Fiction: A detective series set in Vienna in the final days of the Hapsburg empire.
  • Historical In-Joke: A business associate tells Mendel Liebermann that "we decide who is Jewish and who is not." This is a quote attributed to the then-mayor Karl Lueger, and then later to Hermann Goering.
  • Hourglass Plot: "The Melancholy Countess" opens with Gruner gloating that the suicide of Countess Nadazdy will give him the opportunity to destroy Max's career at the consequential disciplinary hearing. It ends with Max exonerated and about to testify at Gruner's disciplinary hearing for arranging for an aristocratic family's dangerously unstable son to be secretly admitted to a mental hospital.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Clara in Season 3, having apparently broken up with her Season 2 fiancée and decided to make a new life and career. She pesters Max to hook her up with crime stories.
  • Is There a Doctor in the House?: The cry of "We need a doctor!" goes out when Ida collapses in the theater in "Death Is a Welcome Guest". Max is there but it's not use as Ida dies within seconds, having been poisoned.
  • I Was Young And I Needed The Money: In "Deadly Communion", the fashion designer Frau Vogel was being blackmailed by two of her employees with pornographic photos that she'd posed for as a poor young woman. Eventually she murdered one of them.
  • The Infiltration: In "Darkness Rising" Max impersonates a monk and enters a monastery, to investigate the case of a monk that was murdered there. He went to Catholic schools when he was younger and, despite being Jewish, has some familiarity with Catholic rituals.
  • Initiation Ceremony: In "The Lost Child" the boys at the military academy do the "Horrific" variant. Their initiation ceremonies are ghastly rituals that only start with clutching a red-hot coin which leaves a permanent scar on the palm; Russian Roulette is also involved.
  • Inkblot Test: Max invents the inkblot test (fourteen years before Hermann Rorschach!) to get his otherwise catatonic nephew to speak something about what happened at the military academy.
  • Inspector Lestrade: Oskar. He's the good, helpful variation, the one who lets the Amateur Sleuth do his thing. Still, it's Max who makes the deductions most of the time, although Oskar is shown to be quite competent.
    • Oskar has his moments in "The God of Shadows". He's the one who takes a look around and figures out that there is a hidden room next to Capt. Steiner's room in the asylum—it turns out to be a torture chamber. He's also the one who makes the connection between the Capt. Steiner mystery and the strange burglaries, although Max couldn't because he didn't know about the burglaries.
  • Jack the Ripoff: The third murder in "Deadly Communion" is a copycat killing committed for personal reasons.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • "The Devil's Kiss" ends with Diabolical Mastermind Lazar Kiss escaping along with his wife and daughter.
    • Xiuying, the Chinese woman in "The God of Shadows" who runs the Opium Den. She takes evil pleasure in getting imperialist Austrian soldiers hooked on opium. That may be understandable, but then she steals the bag of diamonds and skips town, getting away clean.
  • Locked Room Mystery: In "The Last Seance" the phony psychic is found dead in her room, shot through the heart. The windows are bolted and the door is locked. It might be a suicide...except for the fact that the gun isn't there.
  • Loony Fan: Arianne Amsel is eventually revealed to have a deranged fan who was stalking her and sending the Cut and Paste Notes to Ida Rego, but he turns out to be not involved in the murder.
  • A MacGuffin Full of Money: The bag of uncut diamonds in "The God of Shadows". By the end of the story, it has provoked five homicides by three different people, and Max and Oskar come to the conclusion that it didn't need a mystical curse to explain events, just sheer human greed.
  • Match Cut: In "Death Is Now a Welcome Guest", from Max doing a Dramatic Sit-Down in Oskar's office as he confronts the possibility that Clara went snooping through his files, to an angry Clara standing up in Max's office as he accuses her.
  • Maybe Ever After: Season 3 ends with Clara visiting Max's office. After he apologizes for suspecting her of looking through his files, she demands that he make it up to her by taking her to expensive dinners and opera dates. (She also demands access to all his murder cases, but settles for dinner when Max refuses that.)
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • Whether the Holy Lance in "Darkness Rising" has any powers is not addressed for certain (though leaning towards "probably not"). The victim Brother Stanislav and the infirmarian Brother David both attributed Stanislav's recovery from an illness to a miracle stemming from it, but the Abbot is skeptical of all religious relics, pointing out that the Church has collected an impossibly large number of them and arguing that the only real power any of them has is to make people greedy.
    • The bag of uncut diamonds in "The God of Shadows", around which rumors swirl about a curse. By the end of the story, it has provoked five homicides by three different people, and Max and Oskar come to the conclusion that they don't need a mystical curse to explain events, just sheer human greed.
  • Melting-Film Effect: In-Universe. The film that everyone is watching in "Death Is a Welcome Guest" melts, because the projectionist got distracted by Ida Rego collapsing and dying in the middle of the theater, and stopped turning the crank. But it's also symbolic as Ida was the star of the movie and it's her face melting on the screen as she dies on the theater floor below.
  • Military School: "The Lost Child" centers around a boy who drowned at a Vienna military academy. There are dark things going on there.
  • Murder by Mistake: The solution to "The Melancholy Countess". The killer wasn't trying to poison the countess. The actual target was the countess's foppish companion, Hauke, and the killer put the poisoned tea at the wrong place on the table.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Notably, instead of drinking coffee the way most TV cops do, Oskar prefers to munch coffee beans from a tin he keeps in his pocket whenever he needs a quick jolt.
  • Mythology Gag: A mother is offended by Max making a sexual allusion to staircases in "The God of Shadows". Afterwards Oskar says that not everybody is going to buy Max's ideas attributing meaning to everything, and Max wryly replies "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." That is a quote commonly attributed to Max's idol, Sigmund Freud.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name:
    • A curious example as the setting predates the actual NSDAP by almost twenty years, but German ultranationalism and antisemitism are recurring themes in season 1: the Liebermanns are looked down on by many upper-class Viennese for being Jewish, and the Serial Killer in "Queen of the Night" targets non-German immigrants (or so it seems) and leaves a Calling Card in the form of a symbol from one group's pamphlet—which even uses the term "Aryan race" (it predates the Nazis) and references the notion of Austria merging with Germany.
    • In the final episode of the third season, a major suspect is a leading member of a right-wing pan-Germanic nationalist society that doesn't like Jews (like Max) or Slavic-speakers (like Oskar, who is an ethnic Slovak). Basically, Nazis a good dozen years before the actual Nazi Party became a thing. It turns out that the Hapsburg secret service were deliberately trying to frame him as the murderer knowing that Oskar and Max would be prejudiced against him.
  • Never One Murder:
    • In "Darkness Rising", Brother David is killed before he can meet with Max to tell him what really happened when the other monk was murdered.
    • In the first part of "Deadly Communion" a seamstress in the Vogl fashion business is murdered; in the second part Selma, the Vogl maid, is murdered in the same way.
  • Never Suicide: The lack of any blood or sign of a struggle on Countess Sophia in "The Melancholy Countess" leads to an initial conclusion that she drowned herself in the tub. Turns out that she was poisoned.
  • Never the Obvious Suspect: Isaak Korngold in "Darkness Rising" publicly argued with the Asshole Victim over an anti-Semitic op-ed the latter wrote, even threw an ashtray at him saying he should be stoned to death. After the victim is found actually stoned to death, Isaak is arrested by Oskar but swears he didn't do it. After his brother Jonas is forced to sell their bank to Herr Strobl, the latter finds a curse on the dead monk in Hebrew in the Korngolds' safe. Isaak is, of course, innocent: Amelia's boss killed the monk by accident while fighting with him over a stolen relic, then his confidant Herr Strobl rigged the scene and planted the fake curse to cement the Frame-Up.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat:Commissioners Strasser and von Bulow.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: "The Devil's Kiss" ends with Lazar Kiss, his wife, and their daughter making their escape.
  • Opium Den: An Austrian officer is shown smoking in an opium den in "The God of Shadows". It turns out Capt. Steiner was involved in a theft of opium from China during the Boxer Rebellion.
  • Out with a Bang: The serial killer in "Deadly Communion" kills women while having sex with them to, as he sees it, preserve their moment of greatest beauty.
  • Phony Psychic: Charlotte, the medium in episode 1 was a con artist. Her partner Braun hung around graveyards, luring the bereaved into Charlotte's apartment, where she conducted seances that included parlor tricks such as trick candles that Charlotte could put out by pulling a lever.
  • The Profiler: Max may be the first one, as he uses his observational skills and his knowledge of human behavior to reach conclusions about unknown suspects. In episode 2 Oskar is uncomfortable when he has to tell a superior that a suspect doesn't match their "profile".
    Strasser: "Profile"? What the hell is he talking about?
  • Public Domain Artifact: The motive for the murder in "Darkness Rising" turns out to be the monks' possession of the Holy Lance.
  • Revenge Porn Blackmail: In "Deadly Communion", while Max and Oskar are tracking a Serial Killer, they realize that the third victim, the housekeeper for Frau Vogl, a fashion designer whose employee was the second victim, doesn't fit the pattern of having been killed during orgasm: she was beaten unconscious and then killed. Selena turns out to have been murdered by Vogl herself in a way meant to imitate the killer's M.O. because she was blackmailing Vogl with pornographic photographs she had posed for when she was younger.
  • Robbing the Dead: The serial killer in "Deadly Communion" is an embalmer who steals jewellery from corpses and sells it to a crooked stallholder at the market. He then targets women who buy the secondhand jewellery.
  • Roof Hopping: Max and Oskar chase a suspect across some rooftops in episode 1.
  • Russian Roulette: One of the rituals that the out-of-control school secret society does in episode 3. When the boy who's supposed to do it balks, another boy sticks the gun in his mouth.
  • School Clubs Are Serious Business: "The Lost Child" involves a military academy where a covert student fraternity has got badly out of control and into some seriously abusive behaviour.
  • Secret Underground Passage: In "Darkness Rising", there is a secret passage linking the sacristy in the monastery to the outside grounds, supposedly created by the monks in the Middle Ages so that they could covertly monitor the behaviour of pilgrims who had been give access to the holy relics.
  • Self-Harm: Max's nephew Daniel slices his arm with a knife at dinner. Later Max discovers that he was trying to carve into his arm the name of another boy who drowned at their military academy.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: In "Deadly Communion", Frau Vogl kills Selma the maid, who knows about her past as a nude model, and tries to make it look like the work of Serial Killer who murdered Adele the seamstress.
  • Sequel Hook: The last scene of the second season has Clara coming to Max's office to thank him for solving the case and getting her soon-to-be brother-in-law off the hook. Max accepts her thanks, they hug—and then they kiss. Naturally at that exact moment Amelia comes up in a carriage. She sees Max and Clara kissing and tells her driver to keep going, and on that note the season ends. (The sequel hook ends in Anticlimax, as both Amelia and Clara's fiance are nowhere to be seen in Season 3, both relationships apparently having ended offscreen.
  • Share Phrase: Max and Oskar often exchange the phrase "Welcome to the case" to each other, following a break in the investigation.
  • Shiksa Goddess: This starts to become a plot point in Season 2, when Max says he'd like to take Amelia to his parents' anniversary party, and his mother isn't happy, because Amelia isn't Jewish.
  • Shout-Out: Diabolical Mastermind Lazar Kiss may well be named after the notorious 1910s Hungarian Serial Killer Béla Kiss, who successfully disappeared forever after fleeing from a military hospital.
  • Smart People Play Chess: In third season premiere "Deadly Communion", Jaeger the coroner is shown fiddling with a chess set in the morgue.
  • Spooky Séance: The victim in "The Last Seance" was a medium. Max and Oscar arrange another spooky seance with a supposed French medium (she's a dance hall singer) in an effort to smoke out the murderer.
  • Street Urchin: The mystery in "The Devil's Kiss" starts with a young girl, a tween pickpocket, running from a cop and running into a room only to find a trussed-up corpse. Max's family takes her in. Subverted in the end when she turns out to be the daughter of assassin Lazar Kiss, and actively helping her father with a murder plot.
  • Students' Secret Society: In episode 1.3, Max Liebermann's nephew starts cutting himself at the same time that Max and Oskar Reinhardt open an investigation into the death of a cadet at the local Military School, also attended by the nephew. Both incidents turn out to be connected to hazing rituals conducted by a secret fraternity on the campus. In the end, Oskar is Passed Over for Promotion for embarrassing the school, because both his superior Herr Strasser and his rival for the promotion Inspector von Bulow were members of the fraternity.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: Max's romance with Therese in Season 3 comes to a screeching halt at the end of the last episode, when he drops by her apartment and discovers she actually isn't a single mom at all—there's a husband there with her. There's not a hint of foreshadowing of this except for a cryptic comment by Therese earlier in the season that "there's something you don't know about me."
  • Those Two Guys: Max and Oskar.
  • Title Drop:
    • "Death is Now a Welcome Guest" is a dialogue intertitle seen in the film involved in the episode, an adaptation of the legend of Aeneas and Dido from The Aeneid.
    • A mask is found in the room where Capt. Steiner was tortured. It is a mask of an ancient Buddhis deity, "The God of Shadows".
  • Titled After the Song: The series is titled after a literal translation of the title of the Strauss waltz "Wiener Blut", later given lyrics for an operetta of the same title. In the song and operetta, this has no sinister connotations, being in a context of "I love Vienna because I've got Viennese blood in my veins".
  • Toplessness from the Back:
    • Mixed with Fan Disservice as Max, who has accompanied a deranged Amelia to the asylum after her public breakdown, sees her none-too-gently stripped as she's admitted.
    • Seen from the attractive waitress who is having sex with Herr Sprenger in "Deadly Communion", right before Max and Oskar burst in, because Sprenger is about to murder her.
  • Translation Convention: Almost all the writing in the series is in German (although St. Florian's plot-relevant school prayer is inexplicably in English) and the characters are indicated to mostly be speaking German In-Universe, but the series is recorded in English.
    • It's a little bit ambiguous just what language people are supposed to be speaking in "Death Is a Welcome Guest", when Max and Oskar are interviewing United States Senator Paul Adler. Senator Adler is an ethnic Austrian who has ties to right-wing pan-German nationalist groups and has been meeting with them while he's in the country, so presumably he speaks German...but then again he is an American, so there's really no way to tell.
  • Wedding Ring Removal: Elena leaves Oskar for good at the end of episode 1.3, leaving her wedding ring on the dining room table.