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Series / Wayward Pines

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Wayward Pines is a 2015 American television series based on the novel Pines by Blake Crouch. The series started airing in May 2015. It is executive produced (and the pilot was directed) by M. Night Shyamalan, and stars Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Toby Jones, Shannyn Sossamon, Reed Diamond, Tim Griffin, Charlie Tahan, Juliette Lewis, Melissa Leo and Terrence Howard.

U.S. Secret Service agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon), while on the way to investigate the disappearance of two federal agents in a small Idaho town, is caught in a car crash. Bloodied and dazed, Burke wanders down the road for help, and learns he's in the titular Wayward Pines before collapsing. On leaving the local hospital Burke finds residents behave strangely, roadblocks to his investigation everywhere, and, most bizarrely, he is unable to leave the town...


Probably best-described as Lost meets Twin Peaks. The trailer for season one can be watched here.

Tropes appearing in this series include:

  • After the End: Ethan discovers that outside of Wayward Pines, humanity has degenerated into a mutated, feral state.
  • Age Lift: Ben is 11 as of the third book but 16 at the start of the series.
  • Affably Evil: David Pilcher, to the point that how much he is "evil" is questionable. Pam also becomes a whole lot nicer to Ethan after The Reveal, and it's gotten to the point where how much she is evil nowadays is also questionable. And bluntly, less psychotic than in the books.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Inverted; Ethan and Ben received their sheriffs' and school uniforms respectively as a prelude to becoming WP "insiders" who knew the town's secret.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • The members of the La Résistance count, considering all they want is to escape the town and go back home. Now that wouldn't really be a villainous act if the outside world wasn't filled with murderous genetic monstrosities that could swarm in and kill the whole town as soon as they breached the gate. You could say they're more Obliviously Evil than anything else.
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    • David Pilcher. The man was genuinely trying to save humanity at one point, and is the only reason that mankind survived at all.
  • Anyone Can Die: As of this point, the following primary characters are dead: Ethan (blows himself up to keep Abbies from killing everyone), Ben (exiled by Jason and killed by Abbies), Kate (slits her own throat to avoid living in this future), Pilcher (shot by Pam), Pam (killed by Jason for trying to destroy the town), and Theresa (mortally wounded by an Abby and expires in the hospital). Near the end of season 2, Kerry kills Jason during a Gun Struggle. She then injects herself with several lethal viruses and goes outside the fence, and is presumably torn apart and possibly eaten by Abbies, probably infecting them with the viruses.
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: One of Pilcher's rules is that no First Generation shall harm another First Generation. Jason breaks that rule in season 2 by exiling Ben, knowing that he'll be killed by Abbies. Then again, Jason doesn't consider Ben to be a true First Generation, since Ben wasn't born in the town, though, technically, Jason wasn't either.
  • Apocalypse How: We're not given any hints as to how human civilization has come to an end between 2014 and 4014 until partway through season 2, when flashbacks provide some clues. There are news reports of massed North Korean refugees, an epidemic of a new strain of the flu (H1N3), massive explosions, contaminated water, etc. Mitchum also mentions bombs falling like rain and poison and he meets a survivor, who is clearly starting to mutate from the contamination.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Theresa finds a video recording of Ethan's boss Adam Hassler finding the ruins of San Francisco before being run down by Abbies. This convinces Kate of the truth. Slightly subverted in that Hassler is actually alive and, eventually, makes it back to Wayward Pines, the Sole Survivor of his party.
  • Asshole Victim: Sheriff Pope at the end of episode 3.
    • David Pilcher in the season finale.
  • Assimilation Academy: Wayward Pines Academy, where the curriculum for New Transfer Students includes the truth about the town along with a dire warning not to tell your parents.
  • Back for the Dead: This may as well be the subtitle for season 2. The entire season 1 main cast with the exception of Adam Hassler is dead by the sixth episode of the season.
    • Ruby and Kate are both established as members of the resistance and then killed off in the premiere (the former by execution, the latter by suicide). Ben is set up to be a major player this season as the leader of the resistance, and is killed off in his second episode not having accomplished much of anything. Nurse Pam appears solely in episode 3 and is dead by its end. Theresa technically appears in multiple episodes but doesn't really do much of anything before being anticlimactically killed off and forgotten about.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: David Pilcher explicitly says that it doesn't matter if he dies, as long as his ideals and legacy does. Which is exactly what happens, with his First Generation taking over and deifying him.
  • Bad Liar: Theresa Burke. It's lampshaded by her son, who informs her that she has an obvious 'tell'.
  • Battleaxe Nurse: Nurse Pam, in a major way. She's just missing the hat from being a clone of the Trope Maker, Nurse Ratched.
    • She moves away from this trope and softens considerably after The Reveal, becoming somewhat of an ally to the Burke family, and displaying genuine concern for Ben in particular when Amy's condition worsens
  • Bluff the Imposter: After trying to call his boss and ending up with "Marcie" a second time, Ethan asks if she's on the seventh floor of the office and she says yes, to which Ethan replies that there is no seventh floor.
  • Boom, Headshot!: This is how Jason starts to execute suspected La Résistance members in lieu of slitting their throats. After Theo manages to prove that the male Abbies obey the female, he shoots every captured male Abbie in the head and nearly does the same thing to the female but is stopped.
  • Car Fu: Ben employs this to knock down Sheriff Pope who is about to shoot Ethan. Ethan later employs the same tactic, with the same car no less, to take down an abby.
  • Cozy Catastrophe: Very deliberately invoked with the idyllic, close-knit nature of the town, to the point that the majority of the populace is made unaware of the true nature of the catastrophe. Averted in season 2, where the lack of food is a major concern, as well as the lack of able-bodied men to protect the town, since Jason refuses to thaw any adults.
  • Dead Star Walking: Several. Juliette Lewis' character is killed off at the end of the second episode. It seemed that Sheriff Pope was being set up to be the first Big Bad, played by Terrence Howard and all. Nope, dead by the end of episode 3.
  • Deconstruction: Of The Conspiracy and the Omniscient Council of Vagueness. They come across as total monsters, but only because the "heroes" aren't actually aware of their motives. The truth is far murkier, and La Résistance nearly causes the extinction of humanity.
  • Distant Finale: The final few minutes of the first season are one. In contrast to the seemingly optimistic ending and talk of building a new society, the new Wayward Pines is even more draconian.
  • The Dog Was The Master Mind: Remember the friendly old psychiatrist Doctor Jenkins? Turns out he's David Pitcher, mastermind of Wayward Pines.
  • Downer Ending: The first season ends with one. Ethan dies protecting the citizens from the Abbies, and his son is knocked unconscious and wakes three years later. Pam's talk of rebuilding humanity with kindness and warmth turns out to be for nought, as Jason and the rest of Class One storm in and take over, turning Wayward Pines back into the Stepford Smiler dystopia it was at the beginning of the season. Pilcher was killed, but Jason has erected a statue labeling him as a visionary, and since he had already stated that he would have won as long as his ideals lived on, he becomes a posthumous Karma Houdini.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Nurse Pam is the most blatant in this, but Sheriff Pope also has his moments.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The mutant Aberrations are called 'Abbies' for short.
  • Formerly Sapient Species: The majority of humans has devolved into predatory animals known as "abnormals" or "abbies".
  • Freudian Excuse: "Margaret" was present during Pilcher's slaughter of her tribe on the ground where Wayward Pines would eventually be built. While she appears to be having doubts that all humans are bad, her experiences with Megan and Jason merely reinforce her determination to wipe Wayward Pines off the face of the Earth. It helps that she has an army that outnumbers the waking denizens of the town by a large factor.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: It is vaguely implied that the Earth somehow caused humanity to turn into the Abbies because of environmental degradation.
  • Gayngst: One of the teens in season 2 is experiencing a lot of nervousness over copulating and ends up chickening out during the session. He goes to Theo to see if it's a medical condition. Theo asks if he might be gay. The boy misinterprets the meaning of the word (assuming it means "happy", i.e. the word's original meaning). When Theo explains what he means, the boy gets defensive and leaves, claiming that refusing to procreate threatens the whole human race.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: This nearly happens to Mitchum in the three subjective months he spends alone in the Ark, waking up every 20 years, maintaining the cryogenic machines, monitoring the fate of humanity, playing chess with himself, and then going back into the cryopod. He starts getting visions of his late wife and talks to her.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: One possible side effect of learning the truth about Wayward Pines. Apparently for those too stuck in the 'old ways', and find the truth to be depressing.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: As of episode 6 the show is now made of this, with two sides in a conflict, both of which have established extremely sympathetic motivations.
  • Gun Struggle: One happens near the end of season 2 between Jason and Kerry. Kerry wins.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Peter McCall electrocutes himself on the fence around the town so as not to force Ethan to execute him.
    • Ethan Burke blows up the stalled elevator to prevent the abbies from climbing the elevator shaft.
  • Heel–Face Turn: After Kate watches Adam Hassler's Apocalyptic Log, she realises that her actions were going to cause more harm than good, and stops her plans to breach the fence for good.
  • Hope Spot:
    • In the last season 1 episode, Pam and Kate decide they're going to try to resume the project more optimistically (i.e. less facistically) than Pilcher had. In the next scene, Ben wakes up after what we discover was three years. Jason's group had stormed the facility right after the previous scene, frozen all the adults, and re-established the police state community with Jason as the sheriff and bodies hung from lampposts with warnings not to try and leave.
    • In season 2, flamethrowers appear to work in scaring off the Abbies, who then flee the area, allowing humans to grow crops outside the wall. Then it's revealed that they were just luring the humans into a false sense of security, returning en masse with torches, setting fire to the crops and killing dozens of humans.
  • Human Popsicle:
    • Everyone in Wayward Pines was placed in suspended animation after an "accident" and woken up 2000 years later to repopulate the human race.
    • The fate of all the adults at the end of Season One once the brainwashed teens take over.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Season 2 has hints of this, with a flashback revealing that Abbies were perfectly fine to live peacefully until Pilcher showed up and gunned down a bunch of them from his helicopter.
  • Insecurity Camera: Cameras are getting smashed left and right and nobody cares. We're even treated to a shot of a guard getting distracted just as a camera gets whacked with a pipe, with the implication that once she looks up again she won't find the blank feed suspicious in the least.
  • It Can Think: The Aberrations show a surprising degree of intelligence in several scenes. One involved knocking out the emergency generator after Pilcher cuts the power and plunging the hospital into complete darkness. After the humans chase them off with flamethrowers, the Abbies pretend to leave, then attack the farmers and burn the crops, before gathering a horde outside the wall, likely content to wait out the few months that it will take for the humans to starve to death. Additionally, MRI scans of a female Abbie's brain reveals that she is actually quite intelligent. Later, "Margaret" is able to escape after watching Theo enter the combination to the cell in a reflection. She has also observed enough to know to cut Megan's legs, guessing that Megan's paralysis would prevent her from noticing the damage until she has already bled out. During the manhunt, she also effectively turns the panicky humans against one another and leads them on a false trail.
  • Kill It with Fire: Flamethrowers turn out to be surprisingly effective at scaring off Abbies, although they were just trying to lull humans into a sense of false security, before coming back with torches and burning the crops, having learned to use fire themselves.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Due to crashing in Wayward Pines with only his work clothes, Ethan remains stuck in them. It doesn't last long, though, as Beverly gets him a more casual outfit, and he gets more clothes as his position in the town solidifies.
  • Love Triangle: After Theo is awakened, he moves in with his wife Rebecca. Later, though, she reveals that she has been living with another man as her husband, having been paired up with him for procreation and unaware that Theo was also frozen. Theo takes off his wedding ring, drops it on the floor, punches the other guy, and leaves.
  • Made of Iron: Ethan, who doesn't let a couple of broken ribs slow him down.
  • Necessarily Evil: Seemingly the justification for the cult-like mentality of the town and the harsh punishment for seemingly minor infringements. After all, if you're going to keep the last group of humans on Earth safe, you need to be able to keep dissent at a minimum.
  • Neck Snap: Mitchum kills a mutating survivor of the global apocalypse in this manner in order to prevent him from following Mitchum to the Ark.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Though the Abbies lack lots of your typical zombie attributes (they're fast, their state isn't contagious, they don't eat brains, they aren't undead), the overall theme of the series (a global apocalypse that turned humanity into a race of flesh-eating monsters) still qualifies.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Everybody in the town once it's revealed that it's really the year 4028.
  • Open Secret: A variation: As of episode 7 the number of people who have heard the truth about Wayward Pines is increasing, and assuming Kate's shared it with the rest of the Resistance every main character knows...the number of them who believe it, however, is substantially lower...
    • After Season One, it's a secret no more.
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Ben fits the trope almost perfectly apart from his parents also being major characters.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: In season 2, Theresa finds Ben's body outside the wall, although she already knew that there was no way he could have survived there. She pretty much loses the will to live at that point, which is just as well, since she is among the victims when the Abbies return.
  • Papa Wolf: Sheriff Pope beats and threatens Ethan's wife and kid when they try to skip town. He gets a bullet in the head in repayment by Ethan.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Season 2 introduces Djimon Hounsou as C.J. Mitchum, a historian, who appears to have been a member of Pilcher's inner circle since day one, busy working on the crops. And yet he is completely absent in Season 1 without even a mention of him. In fact, he's been waking up every 20 years for 24 hours since 2014 in order to get a bead on the status of humanity and to ensure that the Ark was working. He is the one who witnesses humanity going to hell and starting to mutate into Abbies. He also warns Pilcher not to attack the Abbies and that Group A will not accept the new reality and is proven right both times.
  • Ruins of the Modern Age: Outside the wall, Ethan walks to where he expects to see Boise, Idaho, only to find overgrown forests covering what used to be skyscrapers. Theresa also finds a video recording of Adam Hassler finding the ruins of San Francisco.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Ethan sacrifices himself to keep everyone safe and Big Bad Pilcher is killed. In the end, Pilcher's ideas win out via his well-prepared First Generation and almost everyone he tried to keep safe, even those who were willing to "play their part" in Wayward Pines, get put back in suspended animation.
  • Shout-Out: Big Bill greets Theresa as "my new Number Two", a near-quotation from the Opening Narration dialogue of the series' major influence The Prisoner (1967).
  • Smug Snake: Nurse Pam to start off with and Sheriff Pope. Jason even moreso, whose smugness gets him a bullet to the gut.
  • Sole Survivor: Adam Hassler turns out to be the only one of his party to survive the scouting trip to San Francisco, the rest being hunted down and killed by Abbies. He eventually makes his way back to Wayward Pines but is haunted by his experiences. Later, he helps "Margaret" get outside the wall to the other Abbies, and she keeps the males from killing him.
  • Spiritual Successor:
  • Stepford Smiler: The deeply unsettling and creepy Nurse Pam.
  • Superdickery: The Teaser for the ninth episode of the first season has Ethan apparently about to publicly execute Kate. He promised Dr. Pilcher he would do so, as a means to get all the townsfolk together so that he could reveal the truth about the situation to them.
  • Teen Pregnancy:Encouraged by the new leaders of Wayward Pines, since most of the adults have been frozen. In fact, kids are outright pressured into this with step-by-step instructions on how the baby-making process is supposed to work. Also, Kerry had a child at a very young age before she was frozen. Pilcher adopted the baby, as she couldn't take care of it. That baby was Jason, her boyfriend (she was thawed out later, and neither of them knew).
  • Transfer Student Uniforms; Inverted - Ben received a package containing Wayward Pines Academy's formal blazer-and-tie uniform as a summoning to the school. (The fact that the only school in a small town in Idaho would have such a thing is in itself a sign things are off)
  • Surprise Incest: Near the end of season 2, it's revealed that Kerry is Jason's mother (neither of them knew, and when they find out the horror basically drives both of them to suicide).
  • Teenage Wasteland: What the town becomes at the end of Season One, after the indoctrinated "First Generation" takes over and freezes the adults again.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: It's pretty much the premise: there's something creepy and weird going on in Wayward Pines, and the townsfolk appear to be in on it to varying degrees. Nurse Pam and Arnold Pope seem to know the most.
  • Tranquil Fury: Margaret doesn't emote outside of a Death Glare while she's cutting the arteries in Megan Fisher's legs and watching her bleed out in retribution for her Cold-Blooded Torture.
  • Typhoid Mary:
    • Pam returns in season 2 in order to inject herself with smallpox and then infect the rest of the town, having decided that the whole idea of Wayward Pines was a mistake. She's stopped before the virus incubates in her body. Jason then kills her, and her body is burned.
    • In the second season finale, Theo intends to inject himself with several lethal diseases and go outside the fence to be killed by the Abbies, who will then be infected and possibly wiped out. Kerry, overwhelmed with guilt about the things she's done, injects herself instead and carries out the plan (though its success is not yet known).
  • Unnaturally Looping Location: The road out of town leads you back to it. Mundanely achieved as the road actually is an endless loop, which curves repeatedly to confuse peoples' sense of direction.
  • The Uriah Gambit: Adam Hassler, Ethan's boss at the Secret Service, was secretly in love with Ethan's wife Theresa and wanted her for himself. Being involved in Pilcher's plan, he conspired with him to remove Ethan from the equation by sending him to Wayward Pines and having Pilcher freeze him. Unfortunately, Theresa wasn't content to just forget about Ethan and went to the town herself with her son Ben. Both also got frozen. It's not clear if Hassler ever intended to have himself frozen as well, but he ended up doing that after Theresa was. Initially assumed to be killed by Abbies, he ends up outliving all three Burkes.
  • Wall Around the World: Wayward Pines is surrounded by a high-voltage fence keeping the more curious folk inside. It also serves to keep the aberrations outside from eating the last of humanity.
  • Was Once a Man: The Aberrations are predatory things that are now the dominant creatures in the wild, but they were once human at some point in time.
  • Watching Troy Burn: Mitchum is left by Pilcher to wake up for a day every 20 years between 2014 and 4014 to monitor the state of the world and to keep everything running. Mitchum gets glimpses of everything going to hell through TV and radio reports until all he gets is static on every band. He eventually starts taking trips outside the Ark and ends up encountering a man, who is clearly starting to mutate into an Abby. He is forced to Neck Snap the man to keep him from following him into the Ark. It's no wonder Mitchum is the most pessimistic about Wayward Pines, as Group A is being awakened. He's proven right.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: David Pilcher. He exerts a tyrannical hold on the town only because he doesn't want the people knowing the real state of the world, as he told the last group before them and they didn't take it well, either killing themselves or trying to escape the fence into the Aberration infested wilderness. No prizes for guessing how that ended. On the other hand, Season 2 flashbacks reveal that it was Pilcher who started this whole mess with the Abbies in the first place. Upon waking up, he finds a promitive settlement and Abbies and refuses to accept that they're humanity's future. He slaughters the Abbies outside the Ark and has the town and fence built in their place. No wonder they've been hostile to humans ever since.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 5. We learn that the year is 4028 and that the inhabitants of Wayward Pines are the last remaining humans in existence, with the rest of the population having been wiped out by feral monsters called "aberrations".
    • Episode 10. Ben has been in a coma for over four years. In that time, all of the adults have been put back into cryogenic sleep by the children, who have taken over the town in the name of their saviour, David Pilcher.
  • Wham Line:
    • "The Truth", being a Wham Episode, naturally had one of these:
    Dr. Fisher: This is not the year 2014. It is the year 4028.
    • In the finale, Amy's line that "they're listening" is one as it proves that Pam's goal of creating a Wayward Pines with freedom and no surveillance has failed miserably.
  • Wham Shot: In "The Truth", Ben is handed an old coin and asked to examine it. When he does so, he discovers that it is a quarter from the year 2095.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain:
    • One of the resistance members finally manages to get past the fence, despite both attempts at bombing it foiled, and as he collapses exhausted with his dead friend, who he wants to bury, he is ambushed and devoured by a pack of Aberrations.
    • The ending of Season 1 also gives off this. After surviving a swarm of Abbies that wipe out the town and kill half the populace, as well as depose Pilcher, who's devolved into a madman, Jason and his group take over, put all the adults in stasis and take over as the new, just as draconian leaders of Wayward Pines, effectively reversing almost everything back to the twisted hellhole it was.
  • You Are Already Dead: Megan feels faint and notes a puddle of blood near her feet. She realizes that someone has slit the back of her legs, which she didn't feel because of her lower body paralysis. She has just enough strength to turn around and see the female Abbie standing with a scalpel and realize that she had freed herself by watching Theo enter the combination to another cell.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: After killing Sheriff Pope, Ethan Burke is promoted next episode to Sheriff.
  • Zombie Infectee: Mitchum encounters one after coming out of cryostasis, finding a man with discoloured skin and Wolverine Claws. The man, despite behaving in a fairly feral manner, is friendly and lucid towards Mitchum, although Mitchum is forced to kill him after his transformation progresses and he becomes dangerous.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: It has the markings of this, with civilisation having been destroyed and the top lifeforms on the planet being predatory, formerly human Humanoid Abominations. But the final episode, with the Abbies loose in the city truly goes the ZA route.