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Series / Years and Years

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"I used to be bored by politics. Those were the days."

Years and Years is a 2019 BBC/HBO Mini Series created by Russell T Davies.

Starring Emma Thompson, Russell Tovey, Anne Reid, Jessica Hynes and Rory Kinnear, Years and Years follows three generations of a Manchester family, the Lyons, over the following 15 years against the backdrop of an increasingly uncertain and unstable world.

Daniel is evaluating his relationship with Ralph, Stephen is navigating teenage daughters with his wife Celeste, Rosie is balancing being a single mother and dating, and no one has seen Edith in years. Presiding over them all is Gran, the imperious Muriel.

And in the meanwhile, a little-known think tank director is making her move into mainstream politics.

It premiered on BBC One on the 14th of May 2019 and premiered on HBO in America on the 24th of June 2019.

Years and Years contain examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The series takes place from 2019 to 2034, and shows various social and technological advances and events taking place which still remain somewhat in the scope of reality:
    • Donald Trump wins re-election in 2020, and is replaced in 2024 by his former Vice President Mike Pence.
    • Queen Elizabeth II passes away and is succeeded by her son Charles as King Charles III.
    • China constructs an artificial island military base in disputed waters and causes severe tensions with the UN and international community, resulting in a minor nuclear conflict with the United States.
    • A Russian-backed military government takes over Ukraine, with a questionable plebiscite stating that 97% of Ukrainians want Russian citizenship. It also causes an influx of Ukrainian refugees to mainland Europe and the UK.
    • The UK is still negotiating with the European Union regarding the status of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in 2024.
    • A growing minority of people begin identifying as Transhuman, with early stages of digital consciousness replication and accompanying surgeries being pioneered.
    • Basic household assistant robots are available to purchase on the market.
    • Cocoa beans become increasingly rare, meaning commercial chocolate is expensive and harder to find.
    • Global warming causes the North Pole to completely melt, causing considerable flooding.
    • Another global recession takes place in 2026 after the collapse of an American banking conglomerate.
    • Disabilities such as spina bifida can now be altered and cured in the womb before birth, due to new leaps in artificially grown nerve tissue.
    • New UK banknotes have athlete Mo Farah on them.
    • Most cars have an auto-drive function, in addition to being able to be driven manually.
    • By 2028, bananas have become completely extinct.
    • In 2029, the BBC charter is not renewed and leaves with the final message, "Thank you, goodbye ... and good luck." It is reinstated in 2030 after Rook is arrested.
  • Arc Number: When Daniel first meets Viktor, who is living in emergency housing, his converted shipping container is labelled number 15. When we see Daniel's unidentified dead body lying on the beach, the number beside it? 15.
  • Arc Words: "What happens next?"
  • Accent Slip-Up: For the most part, Celeste speaks with a fairly upper class southern English accent. However in times of anger and stress she is seen to momentarily slip into a Jamaican accent (which makes sense, given her mother is said to be from Port Maria).
  • Alphabet News Network:
    • In addition to the real life BBC and ITV news channels appearing in the series, several fictional ones also appear, including: Point 5 News (and Point Euro News), Media 24, Network 85 and Channel India.
    • Viv Rook creates her own network, Four Star Live, decreeing all the others to be "fake news."
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: Lincoln Lyons, who begins wearing ribbons in his hair and wearing long shirts that resemble dresses, but is consistently referred to as a boy during his youth. However, the script describes a teenage Lincoln in the final scene as a beautiful Chinese girl, implying Lincoln may have eventually come out as a transgender girl.
  • And Starring: "and Emma Thompson" has it's own page of credits between two other cast lists.
  • Artificial Meat: At least in school dinners, meat can be grown in labs on what look like kebab-shop rotisseries. The product, known as 'bolts', is so far-removed from the original animal that it is apparently suitable for vegans. It's even flavored with 'saltless salt'.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Not a back alley per se, more a massive ship temporarily docked in Liverpool. It costs Beth's friend Lizzie her eye.
  • Bad Future: One gradually emerges over the course of the show, with society getting more and more unstable and oppressive.
    • In episode one, there's a limited nuclear exchange between the US and China.
    • By episode two, it is revealed there is a dramatic drop in the insect population, the Arctic being stated to have completely melted, and a banking crisis after the second largest bank in America declares bankruptcy. Russia also invades Ukraine, causing a massive influx of Ukrainian refugees in the UK and mainland Europe.
    • In episode three, the banking crisis has resulted in the 2026 recession (said to be considerably worse than the one in 2008.) The UK has also placed sanctions on the United States for their actions in nuking a Chinese island in episode one, causing mass layoffs and inflation given the close financial relationship between the two countries.
    • By episode four, the socialist government of Spain is deposed by an even further-left group known as Nueva Esperanza in what becomes known as the January Revolution, Greece undergoes "Grexit" and leaves the Eurozone, Italy is placed under martial law after its government resigns and Hungary is declared bankrupt. The US Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade and suspends equal marriage, and the US government's continued oppressive actions (such as banning Spanish being spoken in public) result in the United Nations threatening to remove their headquarters from American soil.
    • In episode five, cyber-attacks cause power outages across the UK, destroying much digitally stored information. The UK is hit with 80 days of continuous rain, which causes serious flooding nationwide. Dirty bombs go off in Leeds and Bristol, irradiating the cities. This forces thousands to relocate to other parts of the UK under Prime Minister Rook's "two bedroom law", which requires all UK households with spare rooms to house displaced British citizens. To make matters worse, it is revealed at the end of the episode that Vivienne Rook's government is planning on building concentration camps (or "Erstwhile Sites") for the influx of refugees, with plans to allow people to starve to death and let "nature take its course" similar to the British actions in the Boer War.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • In episode one, Celeste and Stephen check their daughter's internet history, and it's revealed she's been looking up articles about being trans. They assume she is transgender and sit down and talk with her, reassuring her that they will love her no matter what, even if they have a lovely son rather than a daughter. This line causes her to correct them-she's not transgender but transhuman. Cue a very shocked Stephen and Celeste.
    • After Daniel dies, Muriel says she's splitting the money from the house between the four of them. The confused Lyons siblings remind her Daniel is dead. Muriel then kisses Celeste's head.
  • Big Fancy House: A very downplayed version of the trope in the form of Muriel's house. It's also an example of Surprisingly Realistic Outcome as the house is falling apart but she can't afford the repairs the house needs.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: During ITV's report on the BBC shutting down, the ticker tape down below reveals not only is every political party in Britain celebrating the Beeb's closure, but ITV's stocks begin to soar in response and Netflix picks up the rights to BBC's library.
  • Bittersweet Ending: On the one hand, the world has slid hard and fast into a dystopia, the environment is in shambles, and millions have died including Daniel. On the other, Viktor is saved, Rosie and Jonjo get married, Edith might have a second chance by uploading her consciousness, and thanks to their efforts, Viv Rook has been removed from power and arrested, the concentration camp prisoners are freed and normality returns to the UK. This leaves hope that the dictatorships of America, China and Russia could crumble as well.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Wholly averted with Stephen (White British) and Celeste (British-Jamaican). The only even slight reference made to the fact they are an interracial couple is when Bethany gets angry upon discovering her dad cheated on her mum with a white woman.
  • Brain Uploading: Bethany wants this for herself, as she's a transhumanist. Edith later does get it.
  • Brand X:
    • The virtual assistant that the Lyons use in their smart speakers is called Signor, even back in 2019.
    • Partially averted in the case of existing political parties - the real names are used but the logos are different.note 
  • Breather Episode: By the standards of Years and Years, episode three is one. While big political and social events do occur in this episode, there aren't as many and the events aren't as heavy as usual. The dramatic moment at the end of the episode also isn't centered around a big disastrous event like it was in the first two episodes.
  • British Brevity: The series is only six episodes long.
  • Bury Your Gays: Daniel and Edith are the only two members of the family who die, and are both queer.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In episode 1 it is mentioned in passing that primary and secondary school age children are being taught about pornography as part of a mandatory form of sex education class. At the end of episode 2, Vivienne Rook uses examples of the type of videos being shown to children to rile up a political debate audience in her favor, promising to not only try and overturn the policy if she becomes an MP, but arrest and imprison those who implemented it. It results in her winning the Manchester Metlock By-Election.
    • In episode 5, it is said in a news report that due to rolling blackouts caused by cyber attacks, companies have reverted back to physically printing and archiving information instead of storing it digitally. This makes it easier for Edith Lyons to break into and access information which implicates Prime Minister Vivienne Rook in "disappearing" people.
  • Chummy Commies: Danny has a very positive view of Spain's socialist government, as they allow Viktor to stay and claim asylum without deporting him back to Ukraine (which most of the now populist European governments would have). Unfortunately, the socialist government is overthrown by an even further left government in what becomes known as the January Revolution, and they are so far-left it horseshoes around and they begin deporting non-citizens like their right wing counterparts.
  • City on the Water: China constructs an artificial island in disputed waters and turns it into a military base named Hong Sha Dao (meaning "Island of the Red Sands"). It causes significant tensions with the US, resulting in it getting nuked by the Trump Administration at the end of episode one.
  • Coming-Out Story: Subverted. Bethany's parents learn she's "trans". They naturally assume it means transgender, assuring her immediately they'll accept her as their son if that's what she identifies as. While this is heartwarming, it turns out that she meant transhuman, wanting to get cybernetic implants. They're far less enthusiastic about that, but make their peace with the idea.
  • Computer Voice: The ubiquitous virtual assistant, Signor, speaks with a definitively male voice and a posh southern accent. Notable in that most real-life virtual assistants speak with a female voice.
  • Cool Old Lady: Muriel, the grandmother of the Lyons sibling cares deeply for her family and can be quite snarky.
  • Crapsack World:
    • By 2029, the world has become a very unpleasant place to live. It's almost as bad as the Bad Future from 11/22/63 by comparison. The world's climate has gone ballistic - the North Pole has completely melted, insects have been virtually wiped out, plenty of wildlife has been driven to extinction, fruits such as bananas have all died out, and plenty of ecosystems have become unrecognisable. Flooding and very long periods of rain (as in, one month of non-stop rain would be considered short) have both become common in places such as the UK.
    • The United States fired a nuclear weapon at a Chinese island, resulting in a resurgence of nuclear weapons being used in combat (not to mention terrorism), in turn causing the world to become much more radioactive in parts.
    • Not helping this matter is how exaggerated, sensationalist and divided journalism has become; in one example, news reports state that terrorists have detonated dirty bombs in Leeds and Bristol, alleging that both cities will be uninhabitable for years as a result.
    • To say that all kinds of fundamentalism have skyrocketed is an understatement; plenty of nations have installed fundamentalist far-right populist governments that would make the fascist dictatorships of the 20th century look generously democratic by comparison. It's implied in parts that they're secretly and slowly turning into puppet states of Russia.
    • Britain has effectively become anarcho-capitalist under the premiership of Vivienne Rook, with even the police being privatised. The security companies there have started fencing off areas that they believe to be high in crime as 'red zones' (which are basically makeshift prisons with curfews - people cannot enter them without identification, and the security companies can happily lock them down on a whim so that nobody can enter or leave) and 'Erstwhile' sites have also started to appear, which effectively serve as extermination camps for those undesirable to the state - 'The Disappeared' are said to be bought and sold like commodities. Many people now work under slave-like, sweatshop conditions.
    • Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Donald Trump have all become dictators for life of their respective countries, and are even said to be going down the Kim Il-Sung route of being 'Eternal President' after death.
    • LGBT rights, abortion rights and divorce laws have either been overturned in some countries (like the United States) or are in the process of being overturned, sending those places right back to the 1950s in terms of sexual liberalism. Some other countries such as Italy are being held under martial law.
    • As you'd likely have guessed before, Russia under Putin has now turned into The Empire, aggressively pushing for its former Soviet territory (Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic countries, etc.) and likely wanting to expand its control further into Europe in a much more extreme resurrection of their Cold War dream. China under Xi Jinping is pretty much the same, but in Asia.
    • The United Nations and the European Union have both started to really fall apart. Hate, violence, extremism, pollution, poverty, famine, disease, gang warfare and cyber attacks are all pretty common. The world's suicide rate has ballooned.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • In the 2025 montage of episode 2, an MP named Archie gets gorily decapitated by a stray drone whilst opening a drone park in Manchester. Played for Black Comedy.
    • Daniel drowning in the salty, freezing cold English channel while trying to cross with Viktor.
    • In episode six, Stephen notes that the death is more brutal than it initially sounds. Daniel was wearing a lifejacket - so he didn't just drown, he drowned slowly. Every time a wave came, a little more water would enter his lungs, until it became too much.
  • Cyberpunk: The series contains elements of the genre given the rise of transhumanism and the decay of society.
  • Cyborg: Bethany wants to become one, and eventually she gets her wish, getting implants placed in her hand that let her access the Internet remotely. It's only the start of her transhuman ambitions.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the Lyons family make snarky remarks, though Muriel has the most. Almost everything she says is sarcastic in fact.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • The Lyons siblings are estranged from their father, who left their mother and started a new family.
    • Rosie has two children with absent fathers - Lee's dad is married with children but sends money regularly, Lincoln's dad moved back to Beijing.
  • Disappointed in You: In episode four, when it's revealed that Stephen has been cheating on Celeste, Muriel states how disappointed she is in him and that he's just like his father who cheated on his family. She ultimately takes Celeste's side and makes him leave.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending:
    • In the finale, Viktor is freed and thanks to the actions of Edith, Celeste, Bethany, Fran and Stephen with the camps and Rosie and Lincoln with the estate security, along with many others, Viv Rook is arrested and there is a return to normality in the UK.
    • A few years later, after serving 3 years in prison, Stephen is teaching English in Barcelona, Rosie is married to Jonjo and has her third child and Edith, facing the end of her life, is uploading herself to the cloud with the whole family's support.
  • Electric Torture: What Viktor underwent in Ukraine because he is gay. Deliberately chosen because it doesn't leave a lasting mark, Viktor is left with no proof that this happened.
  • Emergency Broadcast: Occurs in episode one when President Trump is revealed to have launched a nuclear bomb at China causing a mass Oh, Crap!, on both televisions and mobile phones. The ability to broadcast on such a wide scale is said to be authorized by the Emergency Powers Act 2021.
  • The Everyman: This trope is the entire point of the series. The Lyons are an ordinary English family and the series is about how they cope with an increasingly chaotic and dangerous world and how their relationships and lives fare in that increasingly uncertain world.
  • Eye Scream: In episode three, Bethany and Lizzie go to get one eye each replaced with a camera. The surgery however is done on a dodgy ship docked in Liverpool. Lizzie loses her eye and she can't control her new robotic one. Averted with Bethany as Lizzie went first and after seeing what happened she got too scared to go through with it..
  • Fictional Political Party:
    • Vivienne Rook's Four Star Party, in reference to the word "fuck" that was censored to "***" during her outburst on Question Time in 2019 that launched her political career (it may be loosely inspired from the real Italian Five Star Movement).
    • The New Conservative Party and Classic Labour Party, whose leaders Madeline Barry and Trevor Lyle fall victim to deep fake videos circulated on the internet which make it appear they have said incendiary statements.
    • The People's Albion Alliance, who demand a recount after The Four Star Party win the 2027 general election and Viv Rook becomes Prime Minister.
  • For Want Of A Nail: In some overlap with It Began with a Twist of Fate, if Stephen and Celeste had only intended to sell their house the day before or if Stephen had transferred the money into more than one account, they wouldn't have lost almost all of it in the bank collapse, they wouldn't have had to move to Manchester with Muriel, Stephen could have stayed at his old job, the list goes on.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Various pieces of information about the status of the world can be seen in the background, often via news tickers during broadcasts. This includes:
    • The EU Army mobilizing on the German border in 2026.
    • Switzerland under attack from UN sanctions after the 2026 recession crisis.
    • A rogue candidate being arrested in South Wales during the 2026 General Election, as well as the Four Star Party engaging in voter fraud by fielding a candidate who has been deceased since 2011.
    • The Spanish royal family fleeing to Monaco during the January Revolution, when the far-left People's Party Nueva Esperanza declares itself the new government against the more moderate leftist incumbents. This also results in the Spanish Peseta being reintroduced as the national currency, and Catalonia once again declaring its independence.
    • The US banning the speaking of Spanish in public places, as well as Donald Trump's head being carved into Mount Rushmore.
    • Riots in Liverpool, Sheffield and Hull after Vivienne Rook is elected Prime Minister in 2027, as well as a recount demand.
    • Leeds being placed under an exclusion zone after it is hit by a dirty bomb. Likewise (though not mentioned), Bristol.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": The Lyons' father's, which is a sad and bitter, though very blackly comic, occasion.
  • Future Slang: After the US nukes the Chinese island of Hong Sha Do, people begin using the term "Hong Sha'd" as a synonym for destroyed or obliterated.
  • Gaia's Lament: The environment takes a serious beating over the years. Britain sees a 30% decline in its bird population due to an 80% decline in its insect population, the arctic is ice-free, Britain sees even more torrential rains and an increase in flooding, bananas have gone extinct and Leeds and Bristol are hit with dirty bombs, forcing both to be quarantined.
  • The Ghost: We don't even see pictures of Muriel's daughter, the Lyons' mother (who is dead before the story begins), or their father, who is still alive but from whom they are estranged who later dies.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery:
    • Bad: Stephen cheats on Celeste with Elaine after losing everything, and the Lyons' father, who cheated and left the family when they were children.
    • Good: At least neutral but leaning more towards "good", Daniel leaves his husband with his family during the Hong Sha disaster, and goes to have sex with Viktor, who he barely knows.
    • Lampshaded by Stephen who calls out his family for criticizing him but not Daniel. On the other hand, Daniel and his husband didn't have two children to be hurt by it...
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Viv Rook is implied to be a piece in a much bigger machine. When Stephen jokes that she could simply walk away and leave any time she wanted, Rook mutters that if she did, "they" would have her killed.
  • Hellhole Prison: The "Erstwhile Sites" that are set up by the Rook government for the massive influx of refugees and illegal migrants entering the country. It could even be said to go beyond this trope as they are literally modeled off the British concentration camps used during the Boer War.
  • Hell Is That Noise: When the sirens start blaring towards the end of episode one to signify that there has been a nuclear exchange.
  • Hereditary Homosexuality: Daniel is gay, and eventually we learn that his sister Edith's a lesbian.
  • Heroic BSoD: In episode four, when the other members of the Lyons family arrive at Daniel's house to be with Viktor after he tells them of Daniel's death, he simply sits there, staring into space as they pound on the door.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Ukraine's new government has unleashed them on the LGBT populace. Viktor's own parents had reported him to the police because of their anti-gay Christian views, and he says many police were just waiting for the opportunity. Muriel is disgusted at hearing this, and firmly tells him he shouldn't excuse his parents, as Christ would not have approved. Homosexuality is not actually illegal in the Ukraine yet, but gays are being persecuted illegally nonetheless. There's a push to outlaw same-sex relations or "expressing homosexuality", supported by the Communist Party of Ukraine, to Daniel's outrage (as he's a socialist himself).
  • History Repeats: The Rook government plans to set up concentration camps the same as those used in the Boer War over 100 years ago to curb the population of migrants and refugees in the UK. Rook herself even admits that one of the main reasons they will get away with doing so is that nobody in the UK is aware of the atrocities of the Boer War, are not taught it in school, or forgot it because "it worked".
  • Hope Spot: For Daniel, at the start of episode 4. He's newly engaged to Viktor and has decided to move to Spain, where Viktor has asylum. Then Spain has a communist revolution and starts a policy of repatriation...
  • The Horseshoe Effect: Discussed when a far-left party in Spain takes over due to a brief revolution. Daniel laments that they have a policy of repatriating refugees as well. Viktor says far-left meets with far-right in the middle.
  • If My Calculations Are Correct: How Bethany finds out Edith's real life expectancy. She's correct.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: Celeste loses her job as an accountant due to Britain's sanctions against her US-based employer. She finds it hard to get a new job as AI has made her "literally redundant."
  • Killed Off for Real: Daniel drowns crossing the channel in episode four.
  • Last Disrespects: In episode three, the body of the siblings' father essentially becomes water through a process called Alkaline Hydrolysis. Everyone is given a tiny tube with some of said water. Edith promptly drinks the remains of her father.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: By 2028, a private security company called L#5 Police has taken over at least part of uniformed policing in Manchester, and possibly other parts of the country. One of their subsidiaries, L#5 Security, is contracted to manage the deportation center Viktor is sent to when he manages to return to the UK.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Edith and Fran, who prior to being revealed as lesbians give no sign of it, with a style no different from most straight women.
  • Magical Antibiotics: Averted. Antibiotic resistance is a significant problem.
  • Meet the New Boss: Mike Pence wins the presidency in 2024. Daniel points out that he's just a puppet of Trump and that Trump is still in command. In other words, Donald Trump has by this point gained enough support and power to effectively be named dictator for life.
  • Missing Mom: Muriel's daughter, the mother of the Lyons siblings, died a few years back of cancer.
  • Mood Whiplash: In episode four, a devastated Viktor goes to Daniel's house. He starts a family call using Signor. He's silent and the Lyons family starts to chat and banter like they did in the family calls shown in previous episodes. Viktor speaks and Bethany realizes he's calling from Daniel's flat. When they ask for Daniel, he breaks the news and the happiness of the conversation evaporates as the family begin to process Daniel's death.
  • Monumental Damage: The final episode has a newscaster mention that the Leaning Tower of Pisa has finally fallen over.
  • Moving Angst: Justified. Celeste and Stephen sell their big house in London but aren't sure where they're going to move to next. Just before they sell, Bethany, Celeste, and Ruby all agree that they don't actually want to move or leave their house. However, after their bank goes bust, they only end up keeping £80,000 of their windfall, which is not enough to move anywhere. Celeste lives with Muriel, whom she (at least initially) dislikes, and Stephen moves to a tiny flat in Manchester where he works a series of humiliating jobs.
  • Multigenerational Household: Stephen, Celeste and their children move from London to Muriel's house outside Manchester because of their bank failing and losing them over a million pounds.
  • New Year's Kiss: Ralph proposes to Daniel at midnight on New Year's Eve, and many years later, Jonjo proposes to Ruth at midnight on New Year's Eve, meaning that they kiss.
  • Newscaster Cameo: Repeatedly features Mary Nightingale of ITV news and Reeta Chakrabarti and Simon McCoy of BBC news.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Vivienne Rook is clearly supposed to be a Donald Trump/Nigel Farage/Boris Johnson/Katie Hopkins/typical populist figure.
  • No Communities Were Harmed:
    • The American investment bank that goes bankrupt and triggers the 2026 recession is the fictional Foster Foster Drake. Other UK based banks that also go bankrupt shortly after, The Old Alliance Bank, Cliff & Shore and Hathersage Bank, are also fictitious.
    • There is no Manchester Metlock constituency. Likewise, the area postcodes for the candidate addresses on the general election ballot are entirely fictional.
  • Nuke 'em: In episode one, Trump nukes a Chinese island right before his second term in office ends.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Downplayed version with Muriel and Celeste. The two frequently snipe with each other and it only gets worse when Celeste and Stephen and their daughters have to move in with Muriel after they lose their money from the sale of their house in the banking crisis. This changes in episode four, when Muriel is disgusted with Stephen's cheating. She takes Celeste's side and it's very clear that their relationship has improved by the end of the episode. Their relationship has improved so much that, by episode six, Muriel informs the siblings that Celeste will receive an equal portion of her will.
  • Oh, Crap!: Occurs at least Once an Episode. Notable moments include:
    • In episode one Trump launches a nuclear missile towards China. The sirens start to go off and the Lyons family panic, uncertain as to what will happen and terrified at the prospect of dying. Edith gets a more understated one when she witnesses the missile itself go off in the distance.
    • In episode two, Celeste and Stephen have a prolonged one when there's a banking crisis, causing them to lose most of the money they had made from selling their house. They rush to various banks, only to find them all shut.
    • In episode four, Daniel and Viktor in the crowded boat, seeing more refugees on the beach.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted, the eldest Lyons sibling is called Stephen. They also have a half-brother called Steven. Though it is claimed their younger half-brother was named after their father's new wife's dad, none of them are impressed by this and their relationship with Steven is basically nonexistent.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: Although a Bittersweet Ending is more accurate. While eventually Viktor is released from the concentration camps, little mention is made of the potentially thousands of people who have been exposed to the Monkey Flu.
  • Oop North: The series is set in Manchester and the majority of the characters have a strong Northern accent. Viv Rook plays up to this trope in order to seem down-to-earth and one of the people, when in reality she is a very wealthy businesswoman.
  • Oppressive Immigration Enforcement: The increasingly anti-immigrant stance of the UK is presented as one of the signs of civil liberties being eroded.
    • As Daniel Lyons discovers to his horror following his boyfriend Viktor, a Ukrainian refugee arrested for working at a petrol station, whilst on paper he might possess options and rights to appeal in practice all deportations happen mere hours after arrest long before any of them can be explored.
    • Viktor is also an illegal immigrant only because he can't prove that he was tortured for being gay and his testimony isn't believed. He notes that this is deliberate; the regime uses electric torture to the feet because it leaves no visible marks and therefore can't be proven.
    • It's also noted that anti-immigrant sentiment has spread across most of the globe, with Spain being mentioned as particularly susceptible before the worst becomes clear in Britain.
    • Matters only continue to get even worse under Vivienne Rook regime who's solution to the rising immigrant and refugee crisis, is to simply imprison them all in secret concentration camps until they die, with the management subcontracted to private industries and at least one businessman boasting his intention to put no work into maintaining hygiene or any standards for the inmates to increase his own profits.
    • The detainment camps are also noted to be breeding grounds for the spread of the highly contagious and deadly strain of monkeypox, which is implied to be deliberate so it can infect and kill as many immigrants/refugees as possible. Even when the horrors of the camp have been revealed to the public, that hasn't been mitigated at all.
  • Plucky Girl: Rosie is arguably a realistic, adult version of this trope, for the most part being the most cheerful out of the four siblings.
  • Post-Soviet Reunion: The Russian Federation once again renames itself to the Soviet Union, and sends its military forces to annex Ukraine. This is what prompts the refugee crisis which causes Viktor to flee to the UK.
  • Pre-Climax Climax: In episode one, when the characters find out that a nuclear war has started, Daniel gets in his car and goes to the refugee camp where he and Viktor have sex, believing that the end of the world is inevitable.
  • Precision F-Strike: The event that sets the whole show off and launches the career of Viv Rook. All the Lyons family are sat watching TV and some unknown politician is part of the live panel on Question Time. An audience member asks her what she would say to Palestinians on the Gaza Strip who only get two hours of electricity a day. Her response?
    Viv Rook: I suppose when it comes to Israel and Palestine... I don't give a fuck.
  • President for Life: Mentioned that both Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are these, and Donald Trump is effectively this, having served two terms and been succeeded by Mike Pence who is basically his puppet.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: The dialogue in Ukrainian is never translated:
    • In episode two, when Viktor is recovering from a hangover, he says "Ви намагалися вбити мене. Ти страшний англійська." roughly meaning "You tried to kill me. You terrible English."
    • In episode three, when Viktor is freaking out at his situation to Daniel over Skype, he says "Що я повинен робити, вони беруть людей, а потім вони знікают?! Що робити, якщо я поруч?", meaning "What should I do, they take people and they disappear?! What should I do if I'm next?!"
    • In episode four, when Viktor is on the beach in England, all he says, over and over again, is "Не знаю" meaning "I don't know."
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • An unusual example in the first episode, where the date in-world matched the date of airing. News on the radio mentions the death of Doris Day hours after it was announced in real life. This was intentionally done.
    • In episode six, we see a news report that in 2030, Notre Dame has been rebuilt and reopened, having burnt down just a couple of months before the show started airing in 2019. This is undercut by the news that on the same day it reopened, the Leaning Tower of Pisa toppled over.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Muriel delivers an amazing and powerful speech in episode six about how the world we've created is all our own fault. It begins with her blaming the sale of a £1 t-shirt and goes from there.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Edith and Fran undergo one in episode five.
  • Sexbot: In episode one, Rosie goes on a date with a single father from her son's school. He shows her his cleaning robot called "Keith." She later finds implements that reveal he has other functions and she ends the date there.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Four Star Party sounds like one to the Five Star Movement in Italy.
    • Some of Viv Rook's antics with the media after she becomes Prime Minister (such as ejecting journalists from press conferences and accusing them of peddling fake news) seem reminiscent of Donald Trump.
    • Rook's appearance on Have I Got News for You in episode 1, while she builds her public profile, evokes Boris Johnson's own recurring appearances on the show before rising to Foreign Secretary under Theresa May and eventually Prime Minister.
    • Rook's refusal to attend the debates during the election campaign were likely a jab at Theresa May refusing to attend the television debates during the 2017 General Election and instead sending other politicians from the Conservative Party to the debates to represent the party.
    • An article briefly seen on a website is about the Guinevere Space Probe, an identical name to the probe featured in the first Christmas Special of the 2005 Davies reboot of Doctor Who.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: In her first attempt to gain a seat in the British Parliament, during the 2022 general election, Viv Rook loses to a "mainstream" candidate in her constituency. A couple of years down the road, said MP's death in a freak accident during the inauguration of a drone center paves the way for Rook to win the ensuing by-election, kickstarting her ascent to Prime Minister.
  • Start My Own: During the 2026 General Election, Vivienne Rook refuses to appear on any regular terrestrial channel or engage in any debates, having said they report "false facts". She instead starts up her own channel, Four Star Live, which she broadcasts from even on election day (despite campaigning on the day of an election being illegal).
  • Straight Gay: Daniel, Ralph, and Viktor qualify as this. All of them act and dress indistinguishably from the straight guys overall.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Both Daniel and Rosie comment on how her newborn baby, Lincoln, looks 100% Chinese and like the father.
  • "Take Your Child to Work Day" Plot: Exploited. During Take Your Daughter To Work Day, Edith dresses her nephew Lincoln up as a girl so he can help her sneak into corporate headquarters for an undercover investigation. Lincoln likes the outfit and keeps dressing like a girl for the rest of the series.
  • Time-Passes Montage: Used in every episode to show how society is getting increasingly unstable and what the Lyons family are doing and how they're affected.
  • Transhuman: Explored with Bethany's character, who basically wants to become data. Ironically, Edith beats her to it.
  • Truth in Television:
    • The UK Home Office has come under a lot of fire for deporting LGBT refugees to countries where their lives will be at risk.
    • If antibiotics don't work, a trivial injury can indeed kill you. Constable Albert Alexander was the first human to be treated with a pre-trial version of penicillin but he didn't survive. His initial injury? A scratch from a rose thorn.
    • And of course, refugees do regularly drown in over-crowded boats crossing narrow straits of water
    • In episode 5, Vivienne Rook rightfully points out that the British invented the concept of concentration camps (which she is bringing back). In particular, they were first used during the Boer war in South Africa from 1900 to 1902 as mentioned, but they were also used by the British during the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya in the 50's.
  • Undignified Death: The Lyons siblings originally interpret the death of their estranged father as this, as he was hit by a courier bike. Rosie in particular finds it hilarious. They quickly realize it was in fact a Cruel and Unusual Death-the only injury he sustained was a scratch on his hand, but then it got infected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria and he died of sepsis-induced major organ failure.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Arguably Ralph is one. He takes a photograph of Viktor working at the petrol station to show to the authorities and get him deported in order to get revenge on Daniel. If he hadn't, Viktor might have been granted asylum and Daniel and Viktor wouldn't have had to enter the UK illegally, which would have avoided Daniel's death.
  • Urban Segregation:
    • In 2024, it is said that entry into the London Borough of Kensington is means-tested, and other areas of the city are also in the process of being fenced off.
    • Ukrainian refugees in the North West are often relegated to shanty towns of "temporary housing" in repurposed shipping containers, due to the overall housing shortage.
    • By 2028, the government of Vivienne Rook begins fencing off and segregating neighborhoods around the country that have been deemed "high crime". To enter or leave these so called Red Zones, you need to have an ID card and be registered as a resident.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Rook and her party are far more active. While Edith does return to activism, her response isn't quantifiable until the final episode.
  • Wham Shot: In episode four, a beach is shown after a chaotic sequence of shots showing the overcrowded dinghy capsizing. Bodies are shown, and the camera shows a number being put beside a body. The body is revealed to be Daniel, who died by drowning. Viktor is revealed to be alive and grief-stricken.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: The rest of the Lyons family aren't overly impressed by Rosie choosing the name "Lincoln Lyons" for her newborn baby.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: In episode two, Edith finds out that she only has 10 years to live at most because she was exposed to a lethal amount of radiation when she and her crew of activists went close to Hong Sha Dao to use a drone to film the immediate aftermath of the nuclear bomb.

"This is the world we built. Congratulations! Cheers all!"


Video Example(s):


Where are we going?

One of many montages from 'Years and Years', a drama series that looks into the near future. (episode 2)

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / TimePassesMontage

Media sources: