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Video Game / Dead to Rights

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I'm Jack Slate, bitch!
The protagonist of the series

A series of third-person shooter games, published by Namco and developed by Namco HomeTek that combined (or tried to) gunplay and hand-to-hand combat.

The first game from 2002 follows the story of Jack Slate, a tough-as-nails Cowboy Cop with a canine companion, who delves deeply into Grant City's criminal underbelly after his father's murder and his subsequent arrest for killing the guy who did it (he was framed). What follows is a mad-cap adventure filled with snark as Jack fights his way through an entirely corrupt system full of strange, quirky bosses.

The next installment in the series came out in 2005, but despite bearing the name Dead To Rights II, it was actually a Prequel. Shortly thereafter Dead to Rights: Reckoning, a prequel to the prequel, was released for the PSP.

The franchise received an obligatory Darker and Edgier Continuity Reboot in the form of Dead To Rights: Retribution by Volatile Games in 2010, and, aside from a couple of Mythology Gags, it features a completely different story from the original.


This video game series provides examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Near the end of Retribution during the assault on the GAC base, Jack gets to operate an enormous GAC Tank suit. It's not completely invincible and it's abandoned before the true Final Boss, but to say it makes Jack stronger while it lasts would be an understatement.
  • All Bikers Are Hell's Angels: The Death Riders in the second game and the unnamed bikers in Reckoning. Both are criminals who try to beat up or shoot Jack on sight. The former are said to have tortured Judge MacGuffin and their leader Steve Houstown kills the judge in cold blood and the latter has confederate flags prominently displayed at their bar.
  • Anyone Can Die: The first game kills off nearly all of its cast. The only major characters to survive are Jack Slate, Shadow, Kip Waterman, and Preacher.
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  • Arab Oil Sheikh: Prince Fahook.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts/Informed Ability: In Retribution, Frank Slate is claimed to be a Police Boxing Champion and has sparring sessions with his son, Jack. However, during said sparring sessions, both are using elbow strikes, knee strikes, and even kicks, all of which are prohibited in boxing. In actual gameplay, Jack is using a fighting style similar to Krav Maga more than anything.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The Twins in the original game appear to just be talking backwards.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Fat Chow, aka the "JACK SURATE!" guy. Considering Jack's theory that he might not even be Asian, it might even be intentional.
  • Asshole Victim: Okay, so Sickle is probably the only guy behind Jack's killing spree who might not deserve it, being only an asshole prison guard and not a murderous criminal...but he's such a dick and threatens to gas Jack's dog, so nobody misses the guy.
  • Atrocious Alias: The Prison Episode is full of inmates with intimidating nicknames...and Timmy.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Hennessey and Pinnacle. Pinnacle deserves special mention for essentially being a cross between the Kingpin and an evil version of Mike Haggar.
  • Awesome McCoolname: One of the end-level bosses is named Longshoreman X.
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops: Hennessey and the GAC squad.
  • Bag of Spilling: Exaggerated in the first game, where not only does Jack lose all his weapons in-between chapters even if he's just going straight from one location to another one next-door, but the game will go out of its way to get him to drop everything during a chapter. There's even one Egregious scene during the Chinatown chapter where Jack is ambushed by police and drops his weapons right before a gang of Triads gun them down. This cutscene serves absolutely no purpose than to get Jack to lose all his weapons just in time for the next batch of armed mooks to attack.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The first game has Mayor Pinnacle, Prince Fahook, and Police Chief Hennessey as the head figures in the conspiracy behind the death of Jack's father and the demise of pretty much every single one of Jack's allies over the course of the game. All three are in cahoots, but have their own separate agendas.
  • Big Friendly Dog: In Retribution, Shadow is much larger than previous incarnations and is incredibly vicious in combat, but acts like this towards anybody who isn't an enemy. One of his idle animations is him happily rolling around on his back.
  • Big Guy Rodeo: The first game features this as the way to defeat Mayor Pinnacle, a giant of a man whose fists are the size and strength of bowling balls, making fighting him directly a bad idea. The only way to put him down is to bait out enough of his punches that he gets winded, then to jump on his back and gradually strangle him. Conveniently, he chomps on a cigar during the battle and never thinks to let go of it as he's getting choked to death.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Retribution, oh so very much. The original was mostly Bloodless Carnage and Jack's takedowns while still violent are more designed to imitate the graceful gunplay of John Woo movies. Retribution's takedowns on the other hand are downright sadistic, from Jack shooting a guy's kneecaps and then executing him after he begs for his life to Shadow mauling an enemy violently and ripping off his scrotum. Blood and gore is anywhere. Case in point: a still of Jack vaporizing a thug's face with a gunshot is the brightness adjustment screen.
  • Bond One-Liner: Jack tries to use these in the original games, usually with less then stellar results. In Retribution, he gets a few lighthearted quips, but mostly trades these in for angry profanity.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Fahook carries around a bottle of "magic potion" that he can use to restore his health, and also breath fire.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield:
    • In the first game, Jack can grab an enemy to use as a shield. Morally questionable, but within the boundaries of 1980s action movie logic. Unfortunately, there's no "knock out the bad guy" or "handcuff the bad guy" option. Instead of releasing them when he's done with them, Jack just casually shoots them in the back of the head.
    • Retribution lets him cuff perps and use them as mobile shields, then kick them away. Oddly enough, if they don't die, the cuffs disappear and they try to beat Jack up hand-to-hand.
  • Bull Fight Boss: In the original, Hennessey's first phase has him repeatedly charge you with an electrified riot shield. In the middle of the arena is an active water fountain. Do what you must.
  • Camera Screw: The camera in the original game tends to point at the least useful position after a cutscene, especially bad when said cutscene is immediately followed by a shooting segment.
  • Camp: The first game in the series fits the category. While the intent (based on the creators themselves) was to make a game in the vein of works by Frank Miller and John Woo with utmost sincerity and seriousness, the game's got a lot more color and theatricality for it: the story and dialogue slides wildly in tone (at times being completely straightforward, other times containing utterly bonkers setpieces and quippy one-liners), several of the villains are so full of ham that they’re practically walking delis, and many instances of the Gun Fu and Heroic Bloodshed action are over-the-top and physics-defying even for the genre. Top it off with an attack dog sidekick and raw manliness all around, and you have a game of true camp appeal.
  • Canine Companion: Shadow is one to Jack in all games. In the original game, he wasn't a "partner" so much as a special move you could activate to instantly kill a bad guy and retrieve his gun. In Dead To Rights: Retribution, Shadow follows you around during fights, and serves as the playable character for stealth sections.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Jack more or less says this when attempting to arrest Temple in Retribution after he's informed that Redwater is trying to kill him for attempting to betray him.
    Jack: Red's still alive? I'd help him if I didn't need you in one piece.
  • Cardboard Prison: Exaggerated to some pretty strange extents in the first game. Jack still has to orchestrate a breakout, but in the meantime every prisoner is allowed to just wander the halls without supervision (even death row inmates like Jack,) hold onto keycards to other cell blocks, and get in massive brawls without security breaking up the fight. Hell, one of the security guards even comes to Jack to get him to beat up a particularly tough prisoner to get his girlfriend's photo back.
  • The Cartel: The Scorpions in the second game, who are said to be cop killers and hide out in an abandoned ice rink where they touch up stolen cars. They are the ones who initially kidnapped Judge MacGuffin.
  • The Chew Toy: Julian Temple in Retribution. While he helped form GAC and as such is partially responsible for much of the conflict, he's also a total pushover and a complete wuss. He's (very justifiably) afraid for his life around Jack, and once you find him and spend a few missions escorting him, the player gets the joy of slamming him into elevator buttons and using him as a pack mule for infinite ammo.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Inverted in the first game, where Jack's allies are betraying him left and right.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: F-bombs are all over the place in Retribution.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: In the first game, this is initially averted when a building that Jack is in is set on fire at one point, and he has to leave before the air gets too hot to breathe. Played straight in the same level - once Jack reaches the top floor of the building, the temperature gauge inexplicably goes away - despite fighting a boss with a flamethrower on the roof.
  • Cool Plane: Fahook has a bar, a discotheque, a pool and a harem room full of attack prostitutes on his cargo plane. Does this guy even own a house or does he just live in the plane?
  • Cowboy Cop: Jack Slate don't play by the rules, bitch. Oddly enough, in all of the GCPD, he's probably the most honest and incorruptible cop of them all. In the reboot, however, he's transcended to the dubious rank of Rabid Cop.
  • Creepy Twins: A pair of them in the original game as part of a timed boss fight.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Jack was a US Marine before he became a detective. For this reason, his armed and unarmed combat skills are unmatched against regular mooks.
  • Cutscene Incompetence:
    • Subtly done, as there are certain cutscenes (most blatantly abused in the Chinatown mission) that provide no purpose other than to get Jack to move to an inconvenient location, throw away his guns just in time for the next wave of armed Mooks to arrive, or to get Jack to provide a lame Bond One-Liner to alert every enemy in the area to his presence.
    • Jack manages to get Fahook at gunpoint from behind, who brushes it off before casually elbowing Jack in the face and backhanding his nuts, incapacitating our "bleedin' hero" within seconds for the only time a stunt like this occurs in the entire game.
    • When Jack finally engages Tseng in Retribution, a cutscene plays where Tseng quickly curbstomps Jack with swift blows while dodging every one of Jack's attacks. Justified, as it's the game's way of hinting to counter Tseng's attacks rather than bullrush him.
  • Da Chief: Capt. Inness in Retribution. He's a bit of a doormat, but by the third act of the game, he ends up imperative to combating the Big Bad's plans.
  • Darker and Edgier: The original games were effectively all ham and cheese, the darker moments generally more over-the-top rather than heinous or bleak. Then comes Retribution, where instead of arranged crime in a seedy city, the whole district's on the brink of anarchy and street warfare, everyone's far more foul-mouthed than ever, drama is more apparent than ever as the story takes itself mostly seriously, Jack has gone from semi-graceful bullet dives and akimbo guns into brutality and absolutely messy gunfights, and Shadow? He's practically a wolf at this point that will tear off faces and rip out throats liberally.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jack quips a lot throughout the series. Even in the Darker and Edgier Retribution, he still has a few moments of snark.
  • Disney Villain Death:
    • Redwater in Retribution.
    • Earlier, in the PSP game Reckoning, the final boss ( the so-called female hostage), tries to escape from Slate by diving into the ocean from a lethal height, not to mention the jagged rocks below the cliff.
  • Depending on the Artist: Jack Slate's appearance changes significantly among games. His first appearance is him at his most "normal", of average size but being pretty realistically built. In 2 and Reckoning, despite being prequels, Jack's significantly larger and more gruff, sporting a much deeper voice in 2 courtesy of Steve Blum. His appearance in Retribution is somewhere in between, not quite as exaggerated but still looking like Chris Redfield at times.
  • Disposable Woman:
    • Every female character in the first game. One character, an Action Girl hitwoman, gets unceremoniously back-stabbed exactly one chapter after she was introduced, and at the end of your Escort Mission for her, too. Two others betray Jack out of desperation only to be killed soon after in rather-too-conveinent examples of Karmic Death. The game took fridging to a whole new level.
    • There's also Ruby in the second game, and the unnamed kidnapped girl in Reckoning.
    • Subverted with Faith in Retribution, who gets shot by a GAC sniper halfway through the game, yet manages to survive to the end.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The purpose of the Stripper minigame of the first game is for Jack's stripper friend to distract guards so that he can sneak into the building without anyone noticing.
  • Distressed Dude: Happens to Jack twice in the first game. In the first instance, he's strapped in the electric chair, and in the second he's dunked repeatedly in a tank of water while his hands are bound behind him.
  • The Dreaded: Jack in Retribution. His feat of eliminating every single mook in Temple Tower earned him quite a reputation, catching the attention of one other mook in the Milton scrapyards who was not eager to see him in person.
  • Drunken Master: Fahook gets completely sauced when it comes time to fight him, wildly firing off an automatic rifle and using his bottle of "magic potion" to breathe fire. Also Tseng in Retribution is pretty blitzed on cocaine when Jack fights him.
  • Enemy Mime: Among the first bosses of Retribution is Tseng, a Triad boss who's inexplicably seen wearing mime makeup.
  • Evil Brit: Rafshoon Diggs. Also a Scary Black Man. Also, Patch.
  • Elite Mooks: GAC unit members in Retribution, who are all heavily armored and armed.
  • Escort Mission: One in the original game, way too many in Retribution.
  • Excuse Plot: In contrast to the first game, which had an actual plot with various twists and developments, the second game has essentially an Arcade Game plot which is essentially "Go kill Boss A, who tells you about Boss B. Go kill Boss B, who tells you about Boss C. Etc, until you get to the final boss." The game even lampshades this, with the Judge whose death kicks off the plot being named Judge MacGuffin.
  • Faceless Goons: GAC. Retribution takes it even further with their futuristic weapons to make them basically look like evil space marines in the present day.
  • Faking the Dead: With Kip Waterman's help, Jack fakes his own death and leaves Grant City forever at the end of the first game.
  • Fanservice: The Stripper minigame in the first game.
  • Fauxreigner: Jack theorizes that Fat Chow isn't even actually Asian — though the fact that he can't tell just by looking at the guy casts a little doubt on the assertion.
  • Frame-Up: Jack becomes a victim of this when he finds Starter Villain Augie Blatz Bound and Gagged in his own home—which turns out to be a trap set by Patch so can kill Augie and frame Jack for his murder, putting Jack in prison to try to keep him from uncovering the conspiracy.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Played with. Fahook is clearly drunk off his ass when you fight him on the plane, but he refers to the bottle he's carrying around and drinking from to recover his health and breathe fire as his "magic potion".
  • Giant Mook: The GAC Tanks and Heavy Support from Retribution.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Several bosses in the original game, like Antorcha and Longshoreman X.
  • Gold Fever: The entire plot of the first game is driven by an underground gold deposit kept hidden from the public, with the Big Bad Ensemble trying to mine and extract the gold in secret. Frank found out about the gold, which is why Hennessey had him killed.
  • Groin Attack: Shadow in Retribution is way too fond of biting people's crotches. There's even an achievement for killing a man by ripping off their balls called "Scrotality".
    • In the first game, Rafshoon Diggs knocks Jack out by hitting him real hard in the crotch.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Mostly played straight in Retribution. Bullets cause as much damage to human flesh, if not less, than unarmed strikes. This is made very apparent when even unarmored enemies can run towards Jack who could be opening fire on them. Even in close range, enemies can swiftly disarm him, forcing Jack to smack them with the weapon, holster it, and resort to slugging it out. The only time firearms are useful is when enemies are distant enough or behind cover and can be killed with shots to the head.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Jack has feelings for Hildy, the stripper-turned-waitress whom he "admired from afar." However, Hildy rather bluntly tells him that she has no romantic feelings for him towards the end of the game.
  • High-Voltage Death: Jack avoids this in the first game when he escapes the electric chair just as the switch is thrown. The evil CO Sickle isn't so lucky as Jack throws him in the chair instead. That what he gets for threatening Jack's dog.
  • Heroic BSoD: In Retribution, Jack loses it when he finds Frank's near-dead body. Even as intense and Hot-Blooded as he is, he gets reduced to a panicked, sobbing wreck as he desperately tries to save him, and when he fails, has to be stopped by Faith from beating the crap out of his (supposed) murderer.
  • Heroic Build: Jack is pretty ripped in Retribution.
  • Honor Before Reason: Zigzagged when Diggs has Jack at gunpoint in the prison's gas chamber. He can easily just shoot him and be done with it, but Jack making a few jabs at his failed boxing career (due to cheating on his part) convinces Diggs to beat him up in a boxing match instead. But then when Jack gets the upper-hand, he resorts to cheating by grabbing a gas mask and turning on the gas.
  • Hot-Blooded: Jack in Retribution is a lot more loud and violent once the action starts.
  • I Lied: Jack pulls this on Julian Temple in Retribution, after promising to let him walk if he revealed where Redwater was hiding.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • In the first game, the entire Chinatown level is about finding Marvin Silt, the guy who tried to run Jack over when he escaped from prison, but failed and then crashed his car into a tree and knocked himself unconscious. The guy who Jack had completely at his mercy right then and there, but decided to just leave him behind and then go shoot up some gangsters to find him again later. Jack also ends up with a firm grip on the ball during this stage, such as when he walks into Fat Chow's gambling den and loudly announces his presence to get the whole building to start shooting at him before control is given back to the player.
    • This also extends to the second game, twice Jack could've shot Blanchov on the spot and saved himself a lot of trouble. Blanchov himself even lampshades it.
  • Illegal Gambling Den: While chasing down Fat Chow, Jack walks into one such place, and invokes the trope word for word to get everybody's attention.
  • Informed Attribute:
    • Multiple characters in Retribution refer to Jack as "a good cop." One assumes they've never actually seen Jack on the job.
    • A minor one from the same game: Jack introduces Tseng and his showmanship through monologue by claiming he cuts out his enemies' tongues to feast on their souls. Tseng is seen casually executing goons while blitzed off coke, but this specific detail isn't ever shown.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: In the first game, the dance club in level two has no way for Jack to get through the single velvet rope between the entrance hallway and the dance floor. Not even bullet-time jumping over it works, as Jack hits an Invisible Wall. (When Jack gets access to the dance floor by pulling the fire alarm, the velvet ropes disappear.)
  • Intellectual Animal: Lampshaded in Retribution. Shadow is extremely smart for a wolf-malamute mix as he is able to outwit armed henchmen, correctly identify key cards for security gates, and deactivate electric generators (by urinating on them). Since he is controlled by a human player, it is assumed that he has human intelligence.
    Jack: I swear that dog understands English. It's damn spooky.
  • Irony: At one point in Retribution, Jack addresses Temple, who is fully equipped with body armor and ammo reserves, as a "mobile reload mule." The former's first name, however, actually means "male donkey." For even more irony for Jack's namesake, Shadow's size, strength, agility, loyalty, and protective nature could qualify him as a livestock guardian.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: In Retribution Jack says this about GAC, as an example of why they clearly are evil. Jack himself, however, also qualifies in all games to a degree.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Many characters feature a thick foreign accent for no reason and not a single one is believable. Fat Chow's "Jack Suraate!" and Diggs' Cockney accent aside, the prison gym seems to be an ethnic melting pot. At least the game itself lampshades the first one by having Jack comment that he's fairly certain Chow isn't even Asian.
  • Kaizo Trap: The final boss fight seemingly ends with Jack hurling the Final Boss into a furnace to burn alive. This is followed by a cutscene of said boss walking out of said furnace right towards Jack, making the player think he's trying to make one last act of defiance before dying...until suddenly the fight resumes and Jack has to take him out one more time. Seeing how hard the rest of the fight is, it's pretty easy to get to this part while on your last sliver of health and then get killed when the boss cheap-shots you.
  • Kill 'Em All: Jack Slate, Kip Waterman, Preacherman, and a handful of minor NPCs from the prison level are the only confirmed survivors at the end of the first game.
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: The Den of Iniquity from the first game.
  • Lighthouse Point: The Final Boss fight of Retribution takes place on the top of a lighthouse during a storm, notable in that the light is active and can blind both Jack and Redwater if they're facing it, turning it into a bit of a Puzzle Boss. It also makes a nice spot for a Disney Villain Death.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • The designers of Retribution sports Jack with a powerful upper body and an agile lower body, and as such, Jack is pretty fast for a 6-foot 200-pound man and can punch enemies away with ease.
    • The same goes for Shadow. Standing at Jack's height when on his hind legs, he is still as fast as any other dog his size while able to body slam enemies and tear through their body armor.
  • Limp and Livid: Fahook in the first game when you fight him, partially due to him being seriously drunk off his ass.
  • MacGuffin: Dead to Rights 2 starts with Jack trying to rescue Judge Macguffin. Later on he tries to find Macguffin's "files" which contain evidence that would implicate certain city officials. Yes, you're actually trying to find Macguffin's Macguffin.
  • Meaningful Name: One of the major characters in Retribution is SWAT Chief Redwater. It shouldn't be surprising that he's involved in a lot of bloodshed.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • The first of the big three in the original game is Mayor Pinnacle, an absurdly huge man in a nice suit with bowling ball-sized fists that can pound you into the dust.
    • The GAC Tank in Retribution is huge, wields a minigun, can take a lot of hits before going down, and is slow as molasses.
  • Monster Clown:
    • In the original game, Jack is attacked by soldiers wearing clown masks, in a graveyard. Why, yes, it was a strange game.
    • In Retribution, the Triads have an inexplicable clown motif as well - possibly because they take the place of the Clowns from the original thematically.
  • Mood Whiplash: The original game was very odd. Betrayal and death follow Jack around, and he even tries to angst a few times, but he's right back to the irreverent quips like nothing happened moments later. Most notable instance is the scene where Hildi dies right afterwards you pick up some explosives and Jack is noticeably excited about it.
  • Mooks: Nearly all enemies in the games come in huge hordes.
  • Morality Chain: Retribution features one to Jack in the form of Faith Sands, an EMT and acquaintance of his who does her best to keep him from going off the deep end once his father is murdered. Part of Jack's decision to start operating "the old-fashioned way" like his father is done as a promise to her, and even when she reveals that the entire meetup the first half the game is built around was semi-willingly arranged to bait out his location to GAC, he remains protective of her well-being.
  • Murder by Cremation: You defeat the Final Boss of the first game by pushing him into a furnace.
  • Murder, Inc.: Mayhem Inc. in the original game, which is bewilderingly identified as "that assassin’s guild out of Broadway."
  • Mythology Gag: As well as GAC returning as antagonists, Pinnacle is briefly mentioned in Retribution, though is apparently not the mayor. The ending also features a cameo by Preacherman, and mentions that the mayor is now Gloria Exner, Pinnacle's opposing candidate from the original.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Double subverted. The Final Boss in Retribution has Redwater swinging a knife at the unarmed detective. He and Jack can disarm and use the knife against the other.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: If Eve in the first game hadn't been so eager to shoot Marvin in the face, he could've told Jack about Fahook and a large chunk of the plot wouldn't have had to happen.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Augie Blatz from the first game apparently really likes his Christopher Walken impressions.
  • No Fair Cheating: Of a questionably intentional sort. In the first game, there are some cases where you cannot proceed until you pick up a gun, such as after beating the stuffing out of (or shooting, as the case may be) Boris Volkov in Chapter 2. The problem arises if you've used cheats to fill yourself up with as many guns as you can carry and infinite ammo, as it'll be impossible to take the gun off the floor and therefore impossible to proceed. Whoops.
  • No Indoor Voice: In Retribution, Jack often screams his taunts as loud as possible, most notably a very emphasized FUCK YOU!
  • Not Quite Saved Enough: The first game's Escort Mission ends with a villain showing up and murdering the NPC without Jack able to do anything about it. He at least does kill the villain in the subsequent boss fight.
  • Obvious Beta: Fahook's plane. The inexplicable scene of the prisoners Jack just rescued trying to kill him, Fahook running around shirtless with incredibly glitchy animation, your clearly being meant to end the fight with him with some kind of special move that doesn't seem to exist (luckily, shooting him works too), and having a 50/50 chance of Jack getting stuck running into the cockpit doorframe after the cutscene there.
  • One-Man Army: Jack Slate, though it's more like One-Man-and-a-dog Army.
  • Operation Game of Doom: Bomb-defusing sequences required the player to pull bombs out of cylinders in this way. Each bomb had a small pin which ran inside a channel on the inside of the cylinder. Touching the pin to the side of the channel had a predictable effect.
  • Our Weapons Will Be Boxy in the Future: The weapons used by the GAC in Retribution are all boxy, which helps with the image that they're all basically space marines in the present day.
  • Playing with Fire: Three of the bosses of the first game (Fahook, Hennessey, and a Mook called Antorcha) all use fire during their boss fights.
  • Phallic Weapon: after killing Augie Blatz, Patch places his gold Luger in the dead man's lap and at a suggestive angle, saying "Why, I'm amazed that Mr. Blatz was able to squeeze off a round in self-defense".
  • Posthumous Character: Frank in the original game, though he at least gets some screentime in Retribution first.
  • Professional Killer: Patch and Eve Adams.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Retribution is pretty glaring with this: Jack is frequently shilled as a "good cop" in spite of his sheer brutality while on the job, something that the gameplay presents as the only effective option (the closest thing to proper procedure is handcuffing enemies whenever he needs a disposable Human Shield). Even more glaring is that Jack is disgusted by the GAC for acting as Judge, Jury, and Executioner despite all their militant brutality being just as applicable to himself. Even as the narrative pushes him into Character Development and seeking to do policework "the old-fashioned way" (i.e. actually taking suspects in alive), this only extends to major named suspects (namely Temple and Redwater); he still has no qualms mowing down countless mooks without any hesitation nor remorse.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: From Retribution:
  • Putting on the Reich:
    • Warden Sickle in the first game, who looks like he's one red armband away from wearing an SS uniform.
    • The GAC squad from Retribution, an elite (and corrupt) anti-crime unit wear body armor and gas masks that make them look like the freakin' Death Korps of Krieg.
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • Dead to Rights: Jack has avenged his father's murder, but his crush Hildy, his fellow assassin friend Eve, and both candidates running for mayor are dead, and the struggle for power will only continue in the city.
    • Dead to Rights II: Congratulations, Jack! You killed Blanchov! But your girlfriend is dead, the judge you were trying to save all along is dead, and you have no idea where his files are.
  • Rated M for Manly: To a ridiculous extent. Jack Slate himself circa Retribution crosses straight into Testosterone Poisoning, complete with Chris Redfield-like physique.
  • Rabid Cop: Jack Slate in Retribution — in part due to the game overall toning down the campy spectacle in favor of more gritty and realistic violence — is far more volatile than previous iterations. Sure, he fights on the side of the righteous, but the path in which he takes it can get really brutal and borderline sadistic.
  • Recycled In Space: This series has often been called "Max Payne with a dog".
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: At the end of the first game (which is chronologically the last), Jack, after killing pretty much everyone that screwed him over, decides that he can't deal with Grant City anymore, and leaves the city to rot.
  • See You in Hell: The end credits sequence for the original Dead to Rights has every villain in the game (all of whom he killed) shouting, "See you in hell, Jack Slate!"
  • Sequel Hook:
    • Jack ends the first game with a big speech about how he's still going to do his part to fight injustice. Oddly enough, there has never been an actual sequel, just a prequel and an alternate continuity.
    • Retribution ends in a equally vague way, Jack has seemingly planned to take a much more honest path as a cop, much like his father, but there are no plans for a sequel.
  • Shoehorned First Letter: Inverted with the GAC unit in Retribution, standing for the "Grant City Anti-Crime" Unit. Jack himself lampshades how "it should've been GCAC, but that wouldn't roll off the tongue quite as well."
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sidetracked by the Analogy: From the original game:
    Jack: He walked in like he owned the place... which suggested he probably did.
  • Taking the Bullet: Downplayed in Retribution. Shadow tackles Redwater and prevents him from mowing down Jack with a gun turret, but not without getting beaten into submission for it. This only pisses off Jack even more.
  • Targeted to Hurt the Hero: Eve and Hildy in the first game, Ruby in the second, and Faith in Retribution (though she survives).
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Mayhem Inc's plan to assassinate a single woman? Blow up the entire stadium where her mayoral debate is being held while swarming the building with a horde of several hundred hitmen at the very same time.
    • Later, Fahook kills the pilot of the plane he's on so that it'll crash with Jack on-board, and on top of that, booby-traps the autopilot with two different bombs. Even Jack wonders if he just keeps the autopilot on his plane booby-trapped at all times.
    • Several of the game's disarms are like this as well. Was it really necessary to shoot that guy in the face after you broke his arm and then turned his spine to paste, Jack? They get even more unnecessarily brutal in Retribution.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: What was his name, again?
  • Theme Naming: References to rocks and mining are reflected in the names of half the characters in the first game including Jack Slate (slate rock), Rafshoon Diggs, Gofer (an animal that burrows underground), Marvin Silt (which can contain gold nuggets), Gloria Exner (The Exner equation in relation to river sediment), and Mayor Pinnacle (the top of a high rock or mountain).
  • Throwaway Guns: Jack doesn't have time to reload a gun more than twice. He just tosses his pistols aside and draws new ones he finds and picks up.
  • Tie-In Novel: The first game had a tie-in graphic novel published by Dark Horse Comics. It expands on the backgrounds of some characters in the game(I.E. Wireboy, Gofer) and goes into detail about some things not fully explained in the game, such as how Wireboy was able to put together the prison escape.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: The triad appear in all four games. In the second game, Ruby corrects Jack when he refers to the Black Dragon Triad as the Mafia.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Special note goes to Riggs in Retribution, who recorded a conversation he had with Temple on a tape recorder regarding the assault on Temple Tower and killing Redwater as insurance in case Temple ever went back on a deal involving large sums of money. However, he didn't find it important enough to take the recorder with him and instead left it on a desk where anyone could find it. Jack later takes it as evidence and has Redwater listen to it while standing right next to him. It didn't end well for Riggs.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Jack's personality while on duty in Retribution.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Despite being overqualified for being euthanized after tasting so much blood, Shadow is easy to get attached to during missions as Jack, and it is possible to feel lonely when you have to proceed without him. Players may even engage enemies in gunfights alone while having Shadow stay as far away from the action as possible to not risk him getting hurt.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • In the first game, Dick Hennessey is all too confident in the final confrontation that Slate's marched to his death and he'll get off scot-free. Then Slate reveals he got out key evidence under his nose as a news report drops the names of the conspirators.
    Hennessy: What did you do? [...] WHAT did you DO?!
    • In Retribution, Redwater does not take well the fact that all of his plans have been ruined by a single man and his dog, and lets his henchmen know this when he finally addresses them.
    Redwater: Gentlemen, we are FUCKING FAILING! Finally, after months of planning, the city signs us off and we're fucking it up!
  • We Hardly Knew Ye:
    • In the first we have the very eccentric Patch, an assassin that frames Jack for the murder of Augie Blatz, he only gets the introduction, next time he is fought while you are riding a news chopper and is vaporized from the resulting car chase.
    • Many characters get introduced and then quickly killed off before a whole lot can be done with them. Gopher's probably the crowning champion of this, getting about two lines of dialogue before running away from Jack. By the time you catch up with him, he's already been killed by Longshoreman X.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Patch, Rafshoon Diggs, Fahook Abdul, and Mayor Pinnacle in the first game.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Redwater, the Big Bad of Retribution, seeks to rid Grant City of its crime, but his plan is to do so by replacing its existing police with the more extreme and unethical GAC (supposedly relative to Jack, anyway) and turn the city into a Police State. He also gets Frank killed simply because he knew he would oppose it.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Lampshaded in the second game. Twice. You know you're doing something wrong if the Big Bad tells you to just shoot him the first chance you get.
  • Wretched Hive: Slate describes Grant City as such, and given the amount of crime and violence that occurs throughout the series in it, he's right.
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: Averted in the first game in the sense that while Jack does publicize the conspiracy, he never actually clears his name and instead skips town. He also straight up murdered the head prison guard in cold blood during his escape for no reason other than the guy was kind of an asshole, to say nothing of the mass mayhem he causes trying to track down his father's killers.
  • Zerg Rush: The usual strategy of every single Mook faction in the game which is especially jarring for the assassins of Mayhem Inc and the elite SWAT-like unit GAC. By the end of the game, you've probably killed a small town's worth of both.