Follow TV Tropes


Series / Wellington Paranormal

Go To

Wellington Paranormal is a Comedy Horror Mockumentary series and Spin-Off of the film What We Do in the Shadows. The film's creators, Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, serve as executive producers on the series, and Clement has additionally directed some of the first season's episodes.

Shot in the style of police reality shows, the two Wellington police officers who followed up a noise complaint in the vampires' flat in the original film, Officers Kyle Minogue and O'Leary, tackle paranormal crime on their new assignment to Sergeant Ruawai Maaka's paranormal unit.

The show premiered in 2018 and ran for four seasons for a total of 25 episodes. In 2021, the series was picked up by The CW and HBO Max for a US release that summer, with episodes premiering first on The CW and arriving on HBO Max the following day.

Wellington Paratropal:

  • Aborted Arc: Satan in Who the Hell promises to meet O'Leary again. As this is the penultimate episode of the show, and the next episode didn't feature him at all, this obviously didn't pan out.
  • Agent Scully: While Minogue thinks O'Leary is this because of her analytical brain, she's consistently more skeptical of paranormal explanations for events before seeing evidence.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: In O'Leary's own words, Wellington is a very liveable city; that means it's also very liveable for the paranormal.
  • Aliens Steal Cattle: The officers investigate cows being placed on top of trees in the "Cop Circles" episode under the assumption that that aliens are behind it. At the end of the episode, a Flying Saucer makes off with cow behind them.
  • Almost Famous Name: Minogue and O'Leary get mocked by fellow officers as "Kylie Minogue and his little sister Dannii", which Minogue corrects:
    Minogue: My name is not Kylie. It's Kyle? And the E is silent.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: O'Leary's mother turns up in "Mobots" and pulls out just about every trick in the unintentionally embarrassing playbook: including using cringey childhood nicknames, bringing out old toys and possessions, asking why she doesn't want to spend time with her (it's because she's at work), and comparing her teenaged love life to her daughter's.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • In "Mobots", O'Leary's mother mentions that her daughter has never had a boyfriend, but that the girls from her softball team were always at the house when she was a teenager. She seems completely oblivious to the stereotypical associations, while O'Leary is just wincing with embarrassment throughout the entire scene.
    • Also applies to O'Leary's (unseen) brother, whose interests and appearance are seemingly quite effeminate. Their mother actually mixes up anecdotes from their childhood, giving O'Leary the more feminine interests and her brother the more masculine ones, which is apparently the wrong way around.
    • Her sexuality is strongly implied in "The Wicked Man" when O'Leary asks to clarify the island's definition of "virgin" and say she's eligible because she's never lain with a man, but later protests the idea that she's never had any sort of sex.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    Minogue: I was returning the car to its rightful owner, when all of a sudden it started driving itself, um, speaking to me in a ghostly manner, uh, and going 60 kilometres per hour in a 50 k zone."
  • Artifact of Doom: "The Coolening" features a possessed leather jacket that makes anyone wearing it cool. Bicycle kick flips and breakdancing ensue.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Only slightly averted. While stopped in the McDonald's drive-through O'Leary asks the girl at the window which way the zombie cops' car went.
    Drive-through girl: That way. -points towards the exit- This is a drive-through.
  • The Bait:
    • Sgt Maaka tries to attract a ghost cop's attention with a bit of malicious bell-ringing, in order to lead him back to the Mount Victoria tunnel (on foot no less). Once they catch up in the car, Minogue and O'Leary ask the ghost what else was illegal in the 30's and become the bait by very slightly 'speeding' at 16mph.
    • Parker and Maaka pretend to be an attacker and a victim, in order to lure the zombie cops to jail.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: The Maero in "Te Maero" with Maaka giving a brief history of the regional variants.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "The She Wolf of Kurimarama Street". "Kurimarama" translates as "Moondog" in Māori.
  • Body Surf: Bazu'aal of the Unholy Realm from the "Demon Girl" episode possesses a young teenage girl, both her parents, and the family dog, and the officers take a while to catch on when he's hopped.
  • Brick Joke: After multiple references to Officer Parker's very young-looking face in the "Zombie Cops" episode, he's later assigned to be bait to get the zombie cops into jail.
    Parker: So I'm jailbait?
  • Butt-Monkey: Starting in season 2, all the very worst things (as in disgusting, dangerous, and embarrassing) seem to happen to Parker.
  • Call-Back: After waiting several minutes for an elevator and working out that the stairs would have been faster, the officers reflect that the situation was a lot like that thing with the cable-car (which had also turned out to be slower than going on foot).
  • Captain Obvious: In 'Mt Vic Hooters', Minogue brings up the question of whether or not you're allowed to keep on being a cop if you're dead. Sgt Maaka brings the logic:
    Maaka: Once you're dead, you—you're not employed anymore, because you're dead.
  • Chalk Outline: In "Copy Cops" Minogue lies down in the outline traced around where his double's body was found. Complete with an outline of his hat.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In "A Normal Night", Minogue and O'Leary are called out to investigate something that sounds like a ghost but turns out to be a plastic bag. At the end of the episode, the plastic bag has a face and attacks Maaka in his office.
  • Chess with Death: In the episode "Who The Hell?", Officer O'Leary is forced to play a Bland-Name Product version of the board game Guess Who? against Satan.
  • Christmas Episode: Twas the Patrol Before Christmas in season two.
  • Clown Car: Minogue and O'Leary pull over a Fiat 500 containing sixteen clowns in the "A Normal Night" episode, partially because the clowns creeped them out, partially because the clowns were dancing in the road and jaywalking.
  • Cold Reading: A medium performs one, Minogue naturally believing she is genuinely communing with his grandfather (even when he later says his grandfather is still alive). O'Leary is consistently skeptical the whole session.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In "Skeleton Crew", Parker shows off all the confiscated evidence that he sells online to raise money for the department. Among other things, there's a briefcase with $45,000 in it- which he figures to sell for about 30 grand.
  • Continuity Nod: One of the opening newspaper gags in "Fear Factory" reads "INTERNET TROLL TURNS OUT TO BE ACTUAL TROLL". This exact scenario happened earlier in What We Do in the Shadows (2019) in the season 2 episode "The Return".
  • Couch Gag: The opening credits sequence includes images of newspaper headlines, such as "Vampire gains access via Zoom invite", which vary with each episode starting with season two.
  • Could Say It, But...: Nick's victim, a naked, clearly terrified man tied to a stake, tries to appeal to O'Leary and Minogue for help this way, because Nick has used his hypnosis to prevent him from calling directly for help. Unfortunately for him, Nick quickly cottons on to what he is trying to do.
    Victim: (to O'Leary) I was hoping that some would come and save me, or just help me. I would like to—
    Nick: Tom. (waves his hand in front of the victim's face) Everything is fine right now.
    Victim: (to O'Leary; strained) Everything is actually fine right now. I'm okay. I asked to be put on this stake. I'm not cold, I'm not afraid, I'm really looking forward to what's happening—
    Nick: (waves his hand once more) Don't improvise.
  • Crop Circles: The officer find a crops circle made by Plant Aliens in the "Cop Circles" episode.
    Minogue: So, uh, we appear to have come across a large circle within some crops. We're not quite sure what to call it.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Played with: O'Leary and Minogue are too busy admiring photos of large dogs on O'Leary's phone in the "The She Wolf of Kurimarama Street" episode to notice people running past their car.
  • Date Peepers: Inverted, when the Taniwhas begin mating in the middle of Wellington Harbour.
    Maaka: OK, let's give 'em some privacy, guys.
  • Death by Racism: Very narrowly averted when Māori Sergeant Maaka and white Officer Parker stage a civilian assault in the "Zombie Cops" episode with Parker 'attacking' Maaka, in the hopes of luring the zombie cops into a jail cell with Parker's fake escape. Maaka is appalled that the zombie cops - part of his own precinct, one of them Samoan - attack and try to arrest him instead.
    Maaka: Racist cops!
  • Demonic Possession: Bazu'aal of the Unholy Realm's MO.
  • Didn't Think This Through: In 'Mt Vic Hooters' Minogue and O'Leary are in hot pursuit of the ghost cop in the Wellington Botanical Gardens:
    O'Leary: Nono, the cable car, it'll be faster!
    (cut to the cable car cabin a moment later)
    Minogue: (to the camera) Pretty much any other way of coming down the hill would have been faster than this, but we made the call and now we gotta live with it.
    O'Leary: Yeah, in hindsight this might not have been the best choice of pursuit vehicle, but, ahh, we're going to stick with it.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Maaka threatens to dock everyone's pay in the "Zombie Cops" episode if his grandmother's donuts are not returned by the end of the day.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: After being released into the afterlife, one of the spirits in episode 3 is seen getting grabbed by a demon arm and pulled into a fiery pit, while the others are examples of Disappears into Light.
  • Everything Is Racist: In the "A Normal Night" episode, Nick accuses Minogue and O'Leary of discrimination against vampires, before concluding that it's because he's a brown vampire and they wouldn't have arrested a white vampire.
  • Evil Is Hammy: "Skeleton Crew" has the normally deadpan Sgt. Maaka get possessed by the world's WASPiest ghost, turning him into a jolly, pun-spouting maniac.
  • Exorcist Head: Happens to Gary after being possessed by Bazu'aal from the "Demon Girl" episode.
    Oh, no, look, your neck is gonna get really sore, and I'm not massaging it tonight.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Although the NZ Police is being depicted in the series, the uniforms worn are deliberately almost but not quite NZ Police uniforms. The most obvious difference is in the coat of arms appearing on the shoulder flash.
  • Funny Background Event: All over the place while O'Leary and Minogue talk to the camera and remain blissfully oblivious. Includes their alien doubles exiting the shed, a cow being dragged up by a tractor beam, and Raymond St John's ghost phasing through the cop car and sneaking away.
  • The Ghost: Minogue's brother and housemate Adam, who's mentioned regularly but never appears onscreen.
  • Ghost Amnesia: Most of the ghosts from the "Things That Do the Bump in the Night" episode don't remember that they are dead and it takes a light shining through them to convince them of their spectral nature.
    • In "The Sevens Ghosts", the group of Where's Wally cosplayers don't realise they're dead until Parker tells them. They aren't particularly bothered by the news.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Subverted: When asked by Minogue to "do your bad cop" to a demon in the "Demon Girl", O'Leary deadpans, "Stop that. It's a bit scary." Surprisingly, it works.
  • Haunted House: A suburban house from the "Things That Do The Bump In The Night" episode where the party's been going since the 70's, attracting decades of noise complaints.
  • Haunted Technology: A 1985 Nissan 300ZX Z31 3-litre V6 Turbo.
  • Hellgate: The Cuba Street Bucket Fountain, a beloved Wellington city landmark.
  • Hollywood Exorcism: The officers exorcise Bazu'aal in the "Demon Girl" episode using a online video tutorial and end up having to wait for the video to buffer.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Parker asking Maaka for a permanent spot on the paranormal team. It reads a lot closer to a proposition than to requesting a promotion.
    I'm really keen to be used however you see fit. Like, basically, I just wanna get used by you... (sigh) completely.
  • Human Sacrifice: Bazu'aal from the "Demon Girl" episode performed a human sacrifice at dawn during his previous possessions. When he grabs Minogue, the others speculate it could be because he is a virgin.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: O'Leary theorizes that blood missing from the blood bank in the "A Normal Night" episode has been stolen by athletes looking for a competitive edge, and bitterly says that if she'd done the same when she was in sports, she could have won the gold.
  • Idiot Hero: Minogue. To cite one example of countless: after discovering the car's battery is dead, he tries to call for help... on the car radio. O'Leary is visibly frustrated (for O'Leary) trying to explain to him step-by-step why he won't get an answer.
  • Impact Silhouette: Sheena from "The She Wolf of Kurimarama Street" episode left a werewolf-shaped hole in her back door when after she transformed and went out on a rampage.
  • Improv: Much of O'Leary and Minogue's in-car conversation while driving between plot points is ad libbed.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: While the cops make his handcuffs tighter in the "A Normal Night" episode, Nick points out that they're in Taita.
  • Indian Burial Ground: Parodied when it turn out that the police station was built on a Caucasian burial ground, containing the graves of people like Joan Richwhite, William Whiting, and John 'Whitey' Whiteman, who proceed to haunt the station
  • Innocent Inaccurate: In 'Taniwha'.
    Minogue: One of them's growing a second neck!
    Parker: I don't think that's a neck.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: The officers have a real penchant for making statements followed by the exact opposite thing happening.
  • "L" Is for "Dyslexia": A dyslexic manager attempts to hire a mall Santa and gets a mall Satan instead.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: In universe: The Unit has to look up a video tutorial to perform an exorcism in the "Demon Girl" episode, but has to wait for the video to buffer multiple times.
  • Locked into Strangeness: Maaka says that his hair turned white after seeing a ghost in the "Things That Do The Bump In The Night" episode. O'Leary points that hair is pitch-black but he still insists that some of his pubes turned white then unzips his pants to show them.
    • Also everyone subjected to the shape-shifter in Fear Factory gains a streak of white hair.
  • Long List: Kev's description of the missing barbecue food during the "Christmas Special", summed up by
    O'Leary: So you had meat.
  • Lost in a Crowd: In the "Copy Cop" episode, O'Leary is confronted by a dozen cloned Minogues, all of them claiming to be the original (except one, who freely admits to being a clone).
  • The Masquerade: Sergeant Maaka insists on only speaking of the paranormal in private in "The She Wolf of Kurimarama Street", shushing Minogue for saying "werewolf" in the briefing room and telling O'Leary not to say "zombies" in front of young Officer Parker in the "Zombie Cops" episode.
    • On the other hand, Sheena's perfectly aware that werewolves exist in Wellington, citing her ex's lycanthropy as the reason she broke up with him.
  • Monster of the Week: So far including:
    • Bazu'aal of the Unholy Realm
    • Aliens making Crop Circles
    • Ghosts of various kinds
    • Sasquatch/bigfoot/yeti apemen
    • Sea monsters
    • Sentient technology
    • Shapeshifters
    • Superheroes
    • Werewolves
    • Vampires
    • Zombies
    • Demons
    • Fatbergs
    • Kurangaituku
    • The Horned God
    • A time-travelling worm thing
  • Narrating the Obvious:
    (Minogue gets thrown behind some rubbish bins)
    O'Leary: We've got an officer down!
    Minogue: (getting up) Officer back up!
    O'Leary: (to camera) He's back up.
  • No Name Given: O'Leary's first name is never revealed; Minogue's (Kyle) is only used a couple of times; and Maaka's (Ruawai) was first revealed on the back of the DVD.
  • Not Quite Saved Enough: "Bird Woman" ends with O'Leary managing to resolve the situation peacefully, saving the bird expert Beverly from being eaten and relocating the Kurangaituku and her babies to a wildlife sanctuary. Then, Beverly is Eaten Alive by the Kurangaituku and vomited up to feed her babies anyway, which O'Leary and Minogue fail to notice.
  • Not So Above It All:
    • Sergeant Maaka doesn't joke around on the clock, but does dress up a small dog as a cop at work in "The She Wolf of Kurimarama Street" episode.
    • When the partners encounter a mindaltering phenomenon, Minogue is usually the one affected while O'Leary keeps a clear head. In "The Coolening" she is just as susceptible to the possessed leather jacket's spell.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Maaka tells O'Leary not to call the zombies "zombies" in front of Officer Parker. O'Leary resorts to "very unwell people".
  • Occult Detective: The Paranormal Unit.
  • Oddball Doppelgänger: "Cop Circles" is rife with them thanks to the plant aliens imitating everything.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Werewolves here need to be in view of the full moon to fully transform, so several live in Wellington for its heavy cloud cover.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Maaka's special PIN for the top secret Paranormal Unit HQ, which admittedly does improve, a little bit, as the series goes on.
    Maaka: (pushes single digit)
    Minogue: (questioningly) 5.
    Maaka: (glances nervously at camera) D-don't, uh...
  • Pixellation: Two taniwha are sighted splashing about in Wellington Harbour. Unfortunately we don't get to see much of them because of what they're doing out there.
  • Poke the Poodle: Upon discovering that the zombie cops from the "Zombie Cops" episode will follow orders given over radio, the Paranormal Unit and Officer Parker radio them orders to perform various dance moves.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Sheena talks about her ex-boyfriend Dion a lot even before learning that he's turned her into a werewolf. Then she tells two cops she's going to murder him and goes over to his house to yell at him.
  • Public Service Announcement: During the 2020 pandemic, the cast put together a series of shorts on the topic. The overall message tends to get dragged down by Minogue being his usual self, though.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: What We Do in the Shadows cameos include Dion the werewolf in "The She Wolf of Kurimarama Street" and Nick the vampire, now working as a phlebotomist to steal blood from the blood bank in the "A Normal Night" episode.
    • In "Te Maero", Anton is a park ranger helping investigate the disappearances of hikers. Minogue vaguely recognises him as being a werewolf from a documentary he saw once.
  • Running Gag: The unit often misses important occurrences because they're distracted showing each other cute animal pictures on their phones. The interrogation viewing room seems to be a bad place for this.
    • in "Taniwha", all of them miss Taniwha's ginormous eyeball peering into the cabin of the boat because they're busy looking at the fish finder image of Taniwha, and Maaka is taking a snapshot of it on his phone.
    • In any given episode, you can almost count on one of the partners (most often Minogue) getting hit by their Taser.
  • Santabomination: When hiring a store Santa for his mall, a slightly dyslexic shopping centre manager transposes a couple of letters and accidentally summons Satan.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Quinn the boat captain radios to Maaka that he's going home, once the second Taniwha appears in Wellington Harbour.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The X-Files, of course.
      • Minogue notes his and O'Leary's passing similarity to Scully and Mulder, saying that "She's like Scully, because she's analytical, she's got the brains, and I'm a man with brown hair."
      • Maaka's underwear says "The Truth Is In Here" on the waistband.
      • Also, the theme tune has elements of The X-Files theme.
    • The Paranormal Unit discusses the similarity of some Crop Circles from the "Cop Circles" episode to Led Zeppelin's Remasters album.
    • When Minogue cannot see O'Leary in the "Things That Do The Bump In The Night" episode despite both of them saying they are in the bathroom, he assumes one of them must be in the Upside Down from Stranger Things.
    • A gang leader's beloved dogs from the "The She Wolf of Kurimarama Street" episode are named Britney, Beyoncé, and Rihanna (or Riri).
    • Many of Nick's attempts to perform the Jedi Mind Trick in "A Normal Night" are accompanied by hand gestures. O'Leary calls him out on a failed attempt:
      You're not Obi-Wan Kenobi.
    • Maaka knows a lot about the walking dead "from watching The Walking Dead".
    • Taniwha seems to have cocooned all the fishermen and the beach bum in seaweed and plastered to the side of a cave a-la Aliens.
    • O'Leary remarks they're 'going to need a bigger chilly bin' after Taniwha chomps the beach bum's entire body off at the shins. Context: a chilly bin is a Kiwi term for a food cooler; the beach bum's right arm is already sitting in one.
    • After finding out that the zombies in the "Zombie Cops" episode follow any order given over the radio, the officers amuse themselves by making them do things like the zombie dance from Thriller Music Video and re-enacting the boat scene from Titanic.
    • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is invoked in "Taniwha" when the unit is holding an impromptu beach memorial for Parker, who wanders up wondering what's going on.
    • The ghost possessing Sgt. Maaka can't resist yelling "Heeeere's Whitey!" as he bashes a hole through a door.
  • Skewed Priorities: When an elderly woman and a load of barbeque meats disappear, her family seems much more concerned about the meat.
  • Special Guest: Clarke Gayford, the Prime Minister's fiancé, appears as "the Prime Minister's fiancé", one of several people reported missing around Wellington Harbour in close proximity to sea monster sightings.
  • Stop Copying Me: The aliens from the "Cop Circles" episode copy the officers' dialogue. Once the officers realize this, they weaponize it to have the aliens copy their fear so they can escape.
  • Stripper/Cop Confusion: Happens to Minogue when he follows what he thinks is a zombie only to discover she's just going to a zombie themed Hen Party. He frantically calls for backup when they try to get him to strip, and when we see him next it's clear they at least got his shirt off, which disturbs Maaka.
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: The officers find one around behind the greenhouse in Kev's backyard, which appears to have been collecting items such as Kev's barbecue meat, his aunt, and Sergeant Maaka's teddy bear.
  • Take That!: A McDonalds drivethrough worker from the "Zombie Cops" episode suggests Burger King when zombie cops try to order brains.
    • "I was just at a club, enjoying some dubstep." "That'll be it. That'll drain your will to live, mate."
  • Under Statement: In "Taniwha", when the unit happens across Parker's ruined tent and assume the Taniwha has eaten him, Maaka calmly tells the camera, 'It appears that something quite untoward has happened to Officer Parker.'
  • Unnamed Grandparent: When Minogue falls for a Phony Psychic's vague 'messages' from someone's family member whose name has a G, he thinks it's his grandfather, whose name is apparently Granddad. Even though he's still alive.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Invoked by Minogue in comparing him and O'Leary to Mulder and Scully, but going by his partner's expression, it exists only in Minogue's head.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Sgt Maaka tries to pull this off when chasing the ghostly policeman. Unfortunately he neglects to tell Minogue and O'Leary what they're meant to be doing, so the plan is a surprise to them as well as the audience.
  • Vigilante Militia: One episode has a trio of overzealous neighborhood watch members get superpowers from a meteorite. They immediately start chasing petty criminals.
  • Virgin Sacrifice: The cult in "The Wicked Man" targets Minogue for this. Turns out he misunderstood and meant he was a Virgo.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The young girl Bazu'aal first possesses in the "Demon Girl" episode vomits green fluid, leading the cops to believe she's simply drunk.
  • We Sell Everything: Once a year, according to "Skeleton Crew", Parker's assigned to go through the evidence room and sell off the confiscated items. This includes M4 carbines ($10 each), bags of cocaine ($5), and murder weapons.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: "The Wicked Man" is very obviously a parody of The Wicker Man (1973), with Minogue and O'Leary being sent out to a remote island to look for a lost girl and discovering a sacrifice cult. Of course, this being the WWDITS universe, the Hornvale cult turns out to be far less competent that Lord Summerisle and his followers, and thus the two officers, aided by Sergeant Maaka, eventually bust them.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: The end of "Demon Girl" has Sergeant Maaka convinced that the New Zealand Police needs a special unit to investigate supernatural crimes. This leads to the creation of the Wellington Police Paranormal Unit.
  • Women Are Wiser: Present but Downplayed. O'Leary tends to be a bit more level-headed than Minogue and even Sergeant Maaka at times, but not really by all that much.
  • Your Mom: Bazu'aal cannot help but making the Stock Shout Out when possessing the body of a dog:
    Bazu'aal in dog's body: Your mother sucks cocks in hell, Minogue!
    Minogue: You're a bad dog!