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Video Game / L.A. Noire

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"A city of undercurrents, where not everything is as it seems..."

"In the Marine Corps, you deal with the chain of command. Mistakes get made, but you deal with 'em. You know what you're fighting for, that you're on the same team. But dealing with corruption is like chasing shadows; you never know whether the guy you're talking to is on the pad, or whether it's your partner, or maybe even the Watch Commander. So who do you trust, Cole? I made up my mind a long time ago..."
Herschel Biggs

L.A. Noire is a video game by Rockstar Games and Team Bondi, released on May 17, 2011 in North America and May 20 in Europe. You play as Cole Phelps, a By-the-Book Cop in 1947 Los Angeles, before the freeways and the Dodgers came over. You start out as a beat cop, slowly working your way up the ranks of the LAPD and investigating crimes that range from the lurid to the disgusting to the truly bizarre.

One of L.A. Noire's chief selling points is its use of innovative motion capture technology to digitize the actors' faces and expressions and put them into the game. Rather than serving as a gimmick, this is heavily incorporated into the gameplay; when you talk to people and engage in Perp Sweating, you have to read their facial expressions in order to detect unspoken emotional cues and figure out whether or not they're being honest with you, or if they're lying or hiding something.


Not related to the TV Series L.A. Noir, which has since been renamed Mob City to avoid confusion to this game.

On November 14, 2017, the game was remastered and released for the Xbox ONE, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch, along with a separate version for Virtual Reality platforms, subtitled The VR Case Files, that comprise a subset of the original game's cases.

This game provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Misnaming: In "The Driver's Seat," the first Traffic case, when introduced to Stefan Bekowski the watch commander pronounces it Berkowski. Probably an actor oversight; the in-game subtitles provide the correct name.
  • Action-Based Mission: Missions with an emphasis on combat appear from time to time throughout the game, including the game's ending.
  • A.K.A.-47: Averted with most of the guns, since they are long out of production, so the developers could use their real names freely.
  • Advertisement:
  • Adventure Game: The game has been compared quite a lot to old-school adventure titles, especially Police Quest.
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: Cole quotes the line while holding a Shrunken Head prop.
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees: Many gamers when they first saw the "HOLLYWOODLAND" sign immediately believed it to be a case of Bland-Name Product. However, consistent with the work they've shown in making the world as historically correct as possible, the sign did read "HOLLYWOODLAND" up until 1949 when the sign was refurbished and the word "LAND" was removed.
    • Also, the reference to "the gas chamber" with Edgar Kalou. Given that Cole was purposely using antisemitism at other points in the interrogation to cause the Jewish Kalou to slip up and confess, you'd think he's referencing the Holocaust. The reality though is that gas chambers were a fairly common form of capital punishment at the time in some US states, including California where the game takes place.
  • Always Murder: Subverted. One of the most memorable Traffic cases has Cole and Bekowsky investigating a doping allegation and uncovering a pornography ring at a film prop store.
    • Subverted even earlier in the very first Traffic case, when it's discovered the "victim" used pig's blood to commit pseudocide.
    • Played straight on the arson desk when a normally very boring and generally dismissed assignment suddenly becomes very exciting when Cole gets demoted to it.
  • An Aesop: Honesty Is the Best Policy. Crime doesn't pay, and personal integrity will always be worth more than money or prestige. This cannot be more clear than when Cole sticks his gun in Roy's face for badmouthing Courtney Sheldon, a war hero with whom Phelps served in the Pacific.
  • Anachronism Stew: For a game that seems to get everything else so perfect, it's kind of odd that they have so many errors, though many are admitted to be intentional. In other words, the game designers have Shown Their Work, but the Rule of Cool made for a few cases of A Spot Of Weak Anachronism Broth On The Side. Specific instances are called out here.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Three of the Arson cases have you playing as Jack Kelso, an insurance investigator-turned-Special D.A. investigator and one of the members of Cole's old Marine Corps unit.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Two of the preorder bonus rewards are suits, and signing up with Rockstar's Social Network also nets Cole a flashy set of new clothes.
    • One of the other preorder bonuses is a small searchquest that gets you another suit.
    • Aside from Intuition Points and hidden vehicles, new suits are the main reward for gaining ranks.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Roy Earle gives the eulogy at Cole's funeral, but it's subverted since he's faking it.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Several.
    • As per most Rockstar Games, if you fail an action sequence three times, you have an option to skip it and advance the plot with no effect on your rating.
    • Don't want to drive to a location? Have your partner do it (hold down Y while by the door). Aside from a handful of missions, you can completely forgo driving for much of the game.
    • If you fail a Street Crimes mission, you will respawn a short distance away, to try it again. There is no penalty at all for repeating the mission until you get it right.
    • All police cars have shotguns and tommy guns in the trunk, at your disposal to use, even if the opponents only have handguns.
    • Cole will sometimes make an annoyed face when given a flimsy answer. This is a big hint to use Doubt or Lie as a response.
    • If you're having trouble finding clues at crime scenes, just stand still and watch your partner. He'll wander around and often crouch at the site of a clue.
    • If you can't figure out the locations you need to go to in "The Quarter Moon Murders", just drive around for a while. Assuming you've found many of the landmark locations, Cole will eventually start thinking out loud and give you the correct answer.
    • And the biggest one of all: no matter if you get EVERY interview question wrong, the story will still proceed as normal. Aside from a few exceptions, Cole will be praised no matter if he did a flawless job or didn't get a single thing right.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Cole doesn't always list a suspect's crimes in ascending order of seriousness, leading to a sometimes exact invocation of this trope.
    Cole: Jose Ramos, you are under arrest on suspicion of supplying narcotics, resisting arrest, and malicious destruction of LAPD property.
  • Artistic License – Cars: All cars have brake lights. Brake lights weren't commercially available until 1952.
    • While not technically a car, the game only shows PCC streetcars from the Los Angeles Railway, aka the Yellow Cars. Absent are the "Red Cars" from the Los Angeles Railway's streetcar rival, Pacific Electric. Those were distinct not just for their red paintjob, but also being arranged in a two-car setup, a rare sight for streetcars at that time.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • Marines don't call each other "soldier." Ever.
    • The 6th Marine Regiment never fought in Okinawa. It spent the campaign as a reserve unit. Also, several Marines from Kelso's unit refer to fighting in Peleliu, another battle the 6th Marines weren't in. In reality, both battles were fought by the 1st Marine Division.
      • That said, there was a 6th Marine Division, which did fight in Okinawa, including Sugar Loaf Hill. Phelps himself might have been a part of the 6th Division (Though not Kelso, who never mentions his unit but was in Peleliu). However, nobody in the Marines mentions their division, just their regiment.
      • Ironically, the Sixth Marines fought in Belleau Wood in World War I. Biggs refers to fighting for the "Second Marines" in Belleau Wood, but the 2nd Marine Regiment was in Haiti during World War I as part of the American occupation of that country.
    • Able Seaman is a rank in pretty much every navy in the world, including Australia, but not the U.S. Furthermore, said Able Seaman was assigned to the battleship USS Indiana and reported that she was being scrapped. The Indiana was decommissioned in 1947, but was kept in reserve and not actually scrapped until 1963
    • Courtney Sheldon is repeatedly called a medic, the Marines don't have medics. He would be called a corpsman and would actually have been a member of the US Navy. Though they're actually sailors, "Green Side" corpsmen attached to Marine units are generally considered honorary Marines.
      • Partially averted when Phelps stares down and rips into Earle when they discover Sheldon's body. There, he calls Sheldon a corpsman. (He did refer to Death Valley as "the Valley of Death," though, which is a weird phrase.)
    • Averted during a flashback to Okinawa, where Cole claims Japan attacked Pearl Harbor because the US stopped exporting oil to Japan. The U.S. never really exported oil to Japan, but they did impose an embargo preventing other countries from exporting oil to Japan.note  Cole's theory was a popular one at the time, when the US public did not understand the seemingly-unwarranted attack on Pearl Harbor, but ultimately (as we now know) Japan's reasons for the attack were more complex than simply oil. There was no way a Marine second lieutenant would have known the full reasoning in the '40s, and Cole's view accurately reflects this. However, he seems to suggest the embargo somehow justified the attack when a state of war did not exist between the two nations, which was not the sentiment of the time. Cole also seems to be unaware of the fact America was entirely aware of the war crimes being conducted in both China and Korea (among other places) by the Imperial Japanese, leading to high public support for the embargoes.
    • During the case "Manifest Destiny" Phelps discovers three Browning Automatic Rifles at a nightclub. He mentions tracing the serial numbers, but in his notebook, it's recorded as 'serial M1918A5', which is the model number, not the serial number. Further, there was never an A5 model of the M1918 BAR. US military variants ended at the M1918A2.
  • Artistic License – History: While Team Bondi did a good job conveying LA in the late 1940s, certain elements of history get misplaced:
    • During the case "The White Shoe Murder," the sailor mentions his ship, the USS Indiana, having plans for being scrapped. While the Indiana was decommissioned around the time of the story, it spent over a decade being mothballed while the Navy attempted multiple times to modernize it and other battleships in a post-battleship world. It was not sold for scrap until 1962.
    • The Brenda Allen scandal that brought down the Ad Vice desk of the LAPD, which provides the impetus for Earle's power move, including betraying Phelps, did not break open until 1948.
    • Some conversations bring up replacements for the "police commissioner," referencing William H. Parker by last name, with Earle pointing out he has a "puritannical streak." While Parker would become police chief, and his tenure was known for a conservative law-and-order mentality that became the basis for police forces across America to this day, he didn't become chief until 1950, partly as a consequence of the aforementioned scandal.
    • The Intolerance set, used as a setting in a couple of cases, was shown neglected but relatively intact. The actual set was torn down in 1922.
  • Asshole Victim: Everett Gage was a Mean Boss and an anti-Semite.
  • As You Know...: The guard at California Fire & Life helpfully tells Kelso where his own office is, for the benefit of the player.
  • The Atoner: Cole, who joined the LAPD to right his past wrongs committed in the Pacific Theater of WW2. In Okinawa, a misunderstanding led to him ordering a cave full of injured Japanese soldiers and civilians torched with flamethrowers, necessitating that they be put out of their misery with bullets.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The flamethrower you find and can use in the closing moments of the last mission, mainly because of its limited range.
    • Don't try walking through the water with it either, as the added weight won't help you escape the rising water level.
    • And of course getting shot in the back will mean instant death, for obvious reasons.
  • Back for the Finale: A minor version. After two cases spent playing as Jack Kelso, he and Cole share Player Character duties for the final mission, "A Different Kind of War."
  • Bad Liar: Several, though never as much as we'd all like.
    • Frank Morgan has to take the cake, however.
    • Oswald Jacobs, he looks like he ate a whole lemon.
    • Neither of them can top Jean Archer in the Downloadable Content Traffic Mission. Not only can she not hide any of her lies, but she even states to not knowing a James Belasco when all Cole asked if she knew a Belasco. Though after all, this mission is called A Slip of the Tongue and the achievement for getting through her interview is called "Femme Imbécile".
  • Badass Bystander: Several characters in the roadside missions. At least thrice, the victims (or some redshirt-clad cops, for that matter) turn on and sometimes even subdue the robbers before Phelps arrives. Once, a criminal's escape from Phelps is cut short when a random guy just punches him flat for running across his lawn. Also, debatably, Monroe's secretary.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The flashbacks initially appear to set up Jack Kelso as a villain. He isn't.
  • Bat Deduction: When Cole finds Okamoto's second earring in her apartment, how does he know to put them together and twist to reveal a hidden compartment?
    • Cole deduces that Jessica Hamilton was raped the day prior to getting involved in the car crash because ripped panties were found in the the handbag that was in the car. Although this isn't the most illogical leap in the world to make for a detective, mere minutes later when he's questioning the car's driver, June Ballard, Cole whips the underwear out as proof that June is hiding the passenger's rape because June didn't mention the fact that Jessica was raped when she was giving a basic description of Jessica to Cole. To be fair she does make an expression that makes it obvious she's hiding something about the passenger, but it's still an incredibly bizarre leap of logic.
  • Battle in the Rain: The final case.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: But of course! Sorting through people's nonsense or knowing when they're holding out details on you is an important part of the gameplay. Truth in Television.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Cole apparently has one that likely relates to, naturally, withholding evidence, or corruption. Although most of the time his tough stance during interrogations seems to be controlled, at one point he threatens to break a suspect's jaw in what sounds far from his typical controlled hard-nosed spiel. Said case involved an underage girl being drugged and taken advantage of. It was made fairly clear throughout the case that he was disgusted by the events.
    • Cole seems to have one for people bad-mouthing his war buddies, as demonstrated when Roy makes fun of Courtney's death and Cole goes on a rant and says he'll blow Roy's fucking head off if he says anything else about Courtney.
    • Biggs finally snaps with the second incinerated family. He dealt with similar issues in World War I. So did Phelps in World War II, and it was all his fault.
    • Captain Donnelly is the only one who can call Rusty by his real name without rebuke.
    • Earle really doesn't like Elsa speaking "German gibberish" in his presence.
    • Rusty would have shot Eli Rooney on the spot after the man openly admits to being a paedophile if not for Cole stopping him.
    • When a witness admits that he didn't call in a murder of a woman because he was kissing/fondling her corpse Rusty's immediate reaction was to punch him in the face.
  • BFG: There's a handful of sequences where you can use a BAR. This weapon is deadly and puts down the toughest foes virtually on the first hit.
    • On the other hand, if the enemies are using it against YOU, you are pretty much dead if you get hit more than once.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Dr. Harlan Fontaine and Leland Monroe.
  • Big "NO!": Cole starts shouting many of these when The "Jungle Drums"/"Intolerance" set starts to collapse while he's still on it during the Quarter-Moon Murders.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
  • Bittersweet Ending: Cole sacrifices himself to save Elsa and Kelso, and as part of a deal struck by the Assistant DA, the charges against Cole and Jack for their vigilante hijinks in the last mission are dropped, as are Cole's adultery charges. However, the trade-off is that many of the corrupt officials involved in the Suburban Redevelopment Fund get away scot-free, and all the blame is placed on the members who either died or are going to go to jail anyway.
    • The Homicide desk also ends on one of these. You find and kill the murderer of all the victims, but due to being the half-brother of a powerful federal official, he can never be brought to justice and the identity of the true killer never gets released to the public. Meanwhile, the five innocent men on death row are all acquitted due to the prosecution sabotaging their own cases. That said, it's unlikely any of the men will return to a normal life and some of them are potentially dangerous individuals being allowed back on the street.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: In keeping with the Film Noir mood, no one character is completely devoid of his or her flaws. Not even Cole.
    Fontaine: Many things in life are grey, Sheldon.
  • Bland-Name Product: Cola King (Though if you look at the machine you can clearly see a Coca Cola logo). Averted with the cars, all of which go by their real life make and model. You can also spy other real products (such as Kellogg's Corn Flakes, Brooks Brothers menswear, and Nunn-Bush shoes) in various places.
    • Also occurs on the radio. American Century Broadcasting uses a modified version of the NBC chimes (with a fourth chime) and Jack Benny's radio show is sponsored by "Bullseye" cigarettes, instead of the real life Lucky Strikes.
    • A box of pistol cartridges is recovered from a vehicle, with the distinctive Remington Arms typeface, but reads "Bennington".
  • Blatant Lies: Roy Earle often assures helpful suspects that he will suggest leniency to the prosecutor on their behalf. It's obvious bullshit.
  • Body in a Breadbox: In "Nicholson Electroplating" a man's body is found Stuffed in the Fridge.
    Biggs: Do you think I could fit in there? I couldn't fit in there.
    Phelps: I'd like to think you would have had something more to say about getting shoved in a fridge, Herschel.
  • Body Horror: The Homicide desk has this in varying amounts. It never descends into Gorn, however.
    • There is also one notable instance in the Arson desk.
  • Bond One-Liner: Phelps gets one in "A Different Kind of War", when holding a crystal ball in Dr. Fontaine's office.
    So much for your foresight, Doctor.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: The Incognito suit obtained from passing the entire Vice Desk without being detected in any of the Tail sequences. It makes you harder to be detected in Tail sequences but at that point you're in the Arson Desk, where there aren't any more Tail sequences for you to do, making the suit pretty much useless for anything other than replaying Vice Cases.
  • Book Dumb - Most of the partners are undereducated, especially when compared to the Shakespeare-quoting, Shelley-reading Phelps.
    • Even lampshaded by Garrett Mason, when he dryly points out that there's no way a drunk bumpkin like Galloway could have unravelled his cerebral clues.
    • When Cole and Biggs are investigating the Nicholson Electroplating explosion:
      Cole Phelps: What in God's name happened here?
      Ray Pinker: It wasn't nuclear. If it was, we'd all be dead from the radiation.
      Herschel Biggs: That's reassuring. Beat. What's radiation?
  • Bottomless Magazines: You never run out of ammo for your pistol, though you still have to reload. Straight-up averted for all other weapons, which have finite ammunition.
    • Played Straight with The Murphy suit, which allows you to fire your guns without the need for reloading.
  • Brick Joke: In "The Quarter Moon Murders" Phelps' searching for clues causes the chandelier in the Hall of Records to come crashing down to the floor. At the next visit in "A Polite Invitation", the chandelier is missing, and there are large cracks in the floor.
  • Broken Pedestal: Cole, after the affair. Everyone takes it really hard, probably because if a Golden Boy like Cole Phelps isn't above corruption, no one is.
  • Brutal Honesty: Several suspects are shockingly open and upfront about their deviant sexual preferences in children or corpses in front of already angered police detectives.
  • Buddy Cop Video Game: Double-subverted most of the time; Cole starts out on the wrong foot with practically all of his partners throughout the game, but eventually they warm up to each other. Except for Roy Earle, for reasons that should be obvious.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Kelso goads three goons in a fist fight when they have him at gun point. They oblige and kick his ass since it's three against one. Even if you are good with the fighting mechanics it will lead to a cutscene where the goons just gang up on you before playing the normal cutscene.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • Even if you screw up every interview, run over a bunch of civilians, and reduce every vehicle you touch to a pile of flaming wreckage, you'll still solve the case and eventually get promoted.
    • A specific, and particularly severe, example from the Murder desk, overlapping with Stupidity Is the Only Option: the first person of interest in the first Murder case is a bartender who admits to temping for several different bars around the city, and one of the first POI's in the third Murder case is a full-time bartender working in another bar, who casually mentions that one of their temps was working around the time of the murder and "would probably know more." To prevent the player from instantly making the game about four or five missions shorter, you are given no option to follow up on this rather obvious clue.
    • Subverted a few times when you're made to choose between charging one of two suspects. You can go against what the game tries to force on you, but it seriously affects your case rating and prevents you from getting even four stars.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Cole, but he is not afraid to bend the rules if the situation calls for it.
  • Call-Back: Remember California Fire and Life, Instaheat, Keystone Films, and Elysian Fields and its "Building a Better California" ads? Yeah, they're gonna be important later on.
    • Apparently, Frank Morgan wasn't finished being an idiot after his role in "The Driver's Seat"; he's busted by Phelps and Galloway for stealing a truckload of fish and crashes it into the Los Angeles River. Phelps even tells him to say hello to Adrian.
    • Dudley Lynch, a bartender interviewed in "A Marriage Made in Heaven" shows up in a Vice street crime, wrestling with a man and finally throwing him off a roof. Phelps even mentions "it's been a while".
  • The Caper: The main story is partially driven by the theft of a large cache of military surplus supplies from a Navy ship by a group of former Marines. Cole becomes directly involved in solving a few minor ones throughout the game.
  • Car Cushion: During a lover's quarrel in a Vice street crime, one man falls from a roof to land neatly in the bed of a pickup truck. Dr. Stoneman in "The Naked City doesn't quite get that same dignity.
    Roy Earle: Thank God I didn't park there.
  • Casting Couch: "The Fallen Idol" , where Detective Phelps investigates into the film industry. This trope is brought up more than once and one of its victims is a fifteen-year-old girl.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Roy Earle makes several vague references to Cole about how even outwardly upstanding men can have their dirty little secrets. This starts as banter that you would expect from a seasoned Vice Cop. But as the game goes on, it's obvious Roy is making insinuations about Cole himself. This is before the player is shown of Cole's infidelity with Elsa. Did he know all along?
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Cole can change suits instantly through the pause menu.
  • The Chanteuse: Elsa Lichtmann. Subverted in that far from being unattainable, or even The Veronica, she becomes The Hero's lover.
  • Chekhov's Gun: That city freeway project you hear about in the beginning of the game? The Suburban Redevelopment Fund sets up the story's underlying conspiracy in order to get in on the action.
    • Every single scene in the introduction is important in later cases.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Reading the newspapers littered around the game unlocks cutscenes which reveal the actions of characters who will take prominent roles in the later cases.
    • It's revealed that Ira Hogeboom, who appeared in one of the flashbacks, is the serial arsonist.
    • The very first guy you interview during your first Homicide case turns out to be the Serial Killer responsible for all the subsequent murders you investigate.
    • A minor yet literal example: Felix Navarro is the bus driver in "Manifest Destiny." In "A Polite Invitation", he is one of the Marines Kelso calls to raid Monroe's house.
  • The Con: Officially, the Suburban Redevelopment Fund was a private organization building houses for GIs. Unbeknownst to the public, the directors intentionally chose land intended for a new freeway, knowing that when the government inevitably claimed it under eminent domain, it would have to pay the SRF fair market price for the land; by building the houses, the land's value would increase, resulting in a bigger payout from the government. The SRF proceeded to cut every possible corner during construction, such as using lumber from film sets, to minimize expenditures, while the insurance company fudged the assessment to make it appear as if everything were up to code. The only problems were the accidents during construction and the families in the area that refused to sell their homes. The former was handled with generous life insurance payouts, but the latter was a little more complicated. The SRF ended up running bogus promotions that would send the troublesome property owners away on vacation, during which time an arsonist would burn the house down. Oh, and did we mention that this was being partially funded by stolen army-surplus morphine?
    The additional trick to it is that when the freeway land buy is delayed, so that the GIs start getting ready to move into their (death trap) "homes", the SRF burns down the entire development in question, Rancho Condito. They then get to claim insurance on the burnt down houses, based on the inflated values that California Fire & Life "determined", and if they can't rebuild the houses before the land is bought through eminent domain, they still get to claim the fair value of the partially developed land. Oh, and the G Is that don't have houses? They get an insurance payout and get told to hit the road.
  • The Conspiracy: Here's how the Suburban Redevelopment Fund scam works: the SRF buys up land that the city plans to repurchase through eminent domain for the new freeway project, burning down the house of anyone who refuses to sell. Then they put up cheap houses using substandard materials to boost the land's value, which will force the city to buy it back from them at a massively inflated price.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: Cole accuses someone of hiding the fact that their friend was raped because when Cole asked her to describe her friend she didn't mention the fact that they were raped. This is made worse by the fact that the player needs to think to do this themselves—something which is highly non-intuitive for more reasons then just the insane nature of the accusation.
  • Complexity Addiction: Adrian Black, oh boy. Instead of asking for a divorce from his wife so that he could move to Seattle with his mistress, Adrian tried to fake his own death with the help of his work friend and run away. Unfortunately, his friend left the receipt for the blood substitute in the boot of Adrian's car...
  • Cool Car: Duh, it's the '40s! Especially the special vehicles.
  • Cool Old Guy: In spades. Fire Chief Lynch, Dr. Carruthers, and Captain Donnelly to name a few.
  • Cop Killer: Featured in various side missions.
  • Corporate Conspiracy: Officially, the Suburban Redevelopment Fund was a private organization, a cabal of several prominent local officials and citizens, building houses for GIs. Unbeknownst to the public, the directors intentionally bought up land along the proposed route of the new freeway, burned down the houses of those who refused to sell, then built cheap houses on them to drive up the value when the government offers to buy them out under eminent domain. Oh, and all of this was being partially funded by stolen army-surplus morphine.
  • Cowboy Cop: Technically not a cop, but Jack Kelso as a special investigator for the D.A. otherwise fits the role.
    • Usually averted by Cole until the Nicholson Electroplating case, when Cole and his partner inexplicably decide that the best way to gain access to a military base where their prime suspect is hiding is to shoot their way through a platoon of military police. How this doesn't result in charges for Cole or his partner, and goes without so much as ever being mentioned again, is probably the greatest mystery in the entire game.
  • Creator Provincialism: Team Bondi was based in Australia, and while they do a very good job of recreating 1947 Los Angeles, there are a few clues. For instance, the rank of Able Seaman shows up at least once, a rank that has never been used in the United States military. Also, an invoice for concrete at a construction site measures it in tonnes, and the directory of an office building in "The Naked City" mentions 'barristers', a term for attorneys that is used in Commonwealth countries, but never in the United States. Then there's the fact that characters generically refer to the LA City Fire Department as "the fire brigade," as is common in Australia and the UK, when "the fire department" is what Americans (and Canadians, incidentally) would actually call it. In addition, a couple characters use common Australian English terms in place of American English ones, such as "lift."
  • Criminal Mind Games: In the Homicide chapter, The Black Dahlia killer leaves a series of clues as a taunt to the police, which Phelps uses to track him down.
  • Da Chief: Possibly several throughout the game as Phelps moves from desk to desk, optionally to the consternation of his superiors depending on the player's interest in collateral damage management in each case.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Cole is a noir hero, so naturally he has one of these (clearly foreshadowed when he repeatedly refuses to talk about his military service). However, he's far from the only character with such a history.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All of Cole's partners, if you're a reckless driver.
    • Cole also shows a snarky streak during interrogations, especially when he catches the perp smack in the middle of lying.
    • Roy Earle might take the prize for this. When Dr. Stoneman defenestrates himself, Earle's reply is a dry "Didn't see that coming".
      • Or later, in the elevator: "That old boy really fell for that broad."
      • Upon finding the factory-sealed soup cans full of marijuana at the stash house, Roy remarks, "I'd say that's pretty good value for twelve cents."
      • After finding two members of a four-piece band dead on one case, and the other two dead on another case: "Now they're a no-piece."
    • In the "Slip of the Tongue" DLC:
    Bekowsky: *rant*
    Cole: You finished?
    Bekowsky: Yes. *continues rant*
    Cole: See, I knew you weren't finished.
    • Even Herschel Biggs gets in on it.
    Phelps: Microfilm. A document shrunk to the size of your thumbnail.
    Biggs: Broad must have amazing eyesight.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: If the player wishes to, the entire game can be experienced in full black and white mode to simulate the movies of the 1940s.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The racism and sexism of the post-war era are highlighted.
    • Political oppression is seen throughout, namely of communists and anarchists. Both "The Studio Secretary Murder" and "The Gas Man" have two suspects with such stances (Grosvenor McCaffrey and Matthew Ryan, respectively), who must be charged to get the highest ranking in their cases as they have the most evidence against them. If they aren't charged, the captain will chew out Phelps for allowing "reds" to walk free.
    • When Cole finds Valdez's notebook with a list of, ostensibly, men's names with notes about their attractive features, he refers to him as a "degenerate" for appearing to be a homosexual. Cole ends up being right though when it turns out that these were not the names of men...but underage boys, making Valdez a child predator instead of a gay person.
    • While Cole's affair with Elsa would still be a minor scandal in today's society, it wouldn't get him anywhere near the backlash or notoriety among his fellow officers and the odd bystander that it does in the game. The fact that Elsa is German plays a part in the scandal, as Captain Donnelly accuses Phelps of "sleeping with the enemy".
    • Cole Phelps' perceived incompetence as an officer is in large part because of the attitudes of the time. Phelps's understanding of Japanese war aims is understandable to us, but incomprehensible to his soldiers. Further, Phelps is considered a Bad Luck Charm; there is really nothing an officer can do about such a label. Finally, on Sugar Loaf, most officers would be shell-shocked by seeing their company destroyed before their very eyes; while not medal-worthy, Phelps' going into shock is completely understandable. Jack Kelso's reaction, and Phelps' own guilt over his "cowardice," is more a product of the times they lived in, when combat fatigue and PTSD were not well understood.
  • Detective Patsy: Kelso, in the ultra-rare positive variety.
  • Developers' Foresight: When you hit things while driving, your partners call you out. The car you receive during the Vice Bureau arc isn't a standard police car but Roy Earle's own car, and some of the lines he says if you hit things reflect it. If you drive another car with him as a passenger and bump into things, some of his lines will express relief that you aren't wrecking his car.
  • Did You Just Piss Off Mickey Cohen?
    "This Sheldon guy...I think I want him dead."
  • Disc-One Final Dungeon: "The Quarter-Moon Murders" case could be mistaken for a finale. It's a very literal and traditional example of this trope in the Xbox 360 version because this case is only towards the end of the second disc out of three.
  • Dirty Communists: It's the late 1940s, which means the Red Scare is starting, and many of the suspects you meet are left-leaning or anarchists, and treated like scum for that very reason. Of course, in the case of Grosvenor McCaffrey, he is a pretty slimy individual, who seems to have picked communism as a contrarian cause so that he can act smarter than everyone else. Joseph McCarthy's speeches can be heard on the radio as well.
  • Dirty Cop: Seemingly the entire LAPD, aside from Cole who sometimes play ball. One of the Vice criminal says that his illegal gambling is fine since he pays his cut to the LAPD.
  • Dirty Old Man: 52-year old Curtis Benson, for having an affair with a 12-year old girl. When confronted by Kelso, Benson has no qualms about it.
    • Also, Argentine Consul General Juan Francisco Valdez, who had many sexual liaisons with underage boys and kept explicit records of them in his notebook.
    • Marlon Hopgood, the owner of the movie prop shop, has two-way mirrors in a room in back. One lets him look in on and film Casting Couch antics, and the other looks in at the toilet. He even admits selling some of his films to collectors and porn theaters. He's later encountered trying to take pictures up women's skirts.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: June Ballard allowed her 15 year old niece to be drugged and raped by Mark Bishop, and made sure all of this was caught on film with Bishop's face in clear view so she could blackmail him later. Why? Because Mark didn't pick June as an actress in one of his upcoming movies.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun: Literally, as the "run" button becomes the "fire" button whenever you draw your weapon. This can get you in trouble.
  • Downloadable Content: A lot of it.
  • Dramatic Irony: The newspapers that can be found in-game provide information to the player that Phelps himself has no knowledge of.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The Player, potentially, and while pursuing fleeing suspects in vehicles, very probably.
  • Driven to Suicide: In one of the street cases, the crazy man who believes the government is attempting to mind-control him and wears a tin-foil hat to 'counteract' the mind control. Also, in The Naked City, Dr. Stoneman after he's found out to be Mr. Henderson under a different name, and right after he seems to be willingly turning himself in.
    Stoneman: What have I done? *jumps out of window*
    • It's also speculated that the reason Cole didn't jump at the end was because of his guilt over what happened in Japan boiled over.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Cole Phelps.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: There's a string of naked female victims in the Homicide cases. Most of them have massive blunt force trauma on the head. There's also this promotional art, featuring the body of a glamorous woman who has apparently been killed in a car crash.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Most Vice cases tout this. And not only are they bad, they're worse when they're stolen; also averted to a degree during one conversation between Cole and Roy Earle in which Earle states that some amount of illegal drugs on the street is not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Averted. As Cole begins solving more crimes and getting promoted, he starts taking on more high profile cases, until his affair is exposed and he is reassigned to Arson. He gets significantly crappier jobs afterwards.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Every single partner you will have as a Detective, which also makes up a good chunk of the supporting cast, appear in the cutscene that preludes Cole's first case on the Traffic desk. His future Homicide partner, Rusty Galloway, is present in the first mission with his current partner at the time, Floyd Rose (who retires later, with Cole taking his place).
    • Cole meets a lush outside a bar while investigating a traffic case who claims to recognize him. He reappears during Cole's funeral.
  • Embarrassing First Name: "Rusty" Galloway has one. It's Finbarr.
    Rusty: I don't care if you were clocked in the head, Cole. You don't call me Finbarr.
  • Empty Cop Threat: What the doubt prompt lets you do basically.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Semi-averted. Engines may catch fire after taking so much damage, but the only thing worse that you can do to a car is pop the wheels off or, during a chase, you can flip them. The part where you'll have to shoot the gasoline barrels in The Fallen Idol and a few other missions played it straight, though.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Guess where it takes place and what genre it is!
  • Exposition Break: Averted, since the game hinges on detective work. Any valuable information you need, you have to find it yourself. The game really only takes control during the intro and closing cutscenes of each case.
  • Expy: Several from L.A. Confidential. Cole Phelps is Edmund Exley. Both are examples of the ambitious, Glory Hound and By-the-Book Cop who have frosty relationships with other detectives. Both rely on their war records (Phelps has a Silver Star and Exley a Distinguished Service Cross from World War II) but both only got medals because they were the Sole Survivor of their respective units because of cowardice and played it up. Captain James Donnelly is Captain Dudley Smith: both of them are Irish Homicide Dicks who believe in administering "rough justice" to perps, although Donnelly doesn't turn out to be the Big Bad, unlike his film companion. Jack Vincennes and Roy Earle are both examples of a Corrupt Cop who deals with the Hollywood scene, although Earle is a plain Jerkass and Vincennes is a rare sympathetic dirty Cop.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: One of the Street Crime cases requires you to subdue a deranged man running through the streets, and if you fail to catch him, he leaps from a rooftop to his death. Although the Dev Team managed to add an alternate solution, finding it requires you to take action that seems counter intuitive in the momentnote ; the Golden Path (as detailed by the official strategy guide) is to watch the man plummet. Might be a nod to the fact that not even a Golden Boy superstar cop can fix everything; Cole's bitterly disappointed face as he watches the body being hauled away really sells it.
  • Fair Cop:
    • Cole.
    • And Roy Earle. Even if he's a racist and a snake, he's not exactly ugly and he does have some nice suits!
  • Fallen Hero: Everyone sees Cole as one or the other after his affair is made public and he is demoted to the Arson squad.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Inverted in the Hall of Records, as the victim is on top of the chandelier, rather than beneath it.
  • Fan Disservice: Some of the murder cases include naked women laying on the grass, but the rawness of the situation is less than appreciable.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Dr. Fontaine always speaks with a calm, reassuring voice and remains just as polite even as he kills his own "apprentice" by forcefully injecting him an overdose of morphine and caves a woman's skull in with a blunt object.
    • Roy Earle can be another example. He's amicable (albeit snarky) whenever you interact with him, but the game makes a point of giving him plenty of "kick the dog" moments to make sure you're always aware of just how scummy he is.
  • Femme Fatale: Fading middle-aged actress June Ballard qualifies. Julia Randall, the victim from "The Naked City", as well. Elsa is a subversion as her initial appearances set her up as a femme fatale, and she even undergoes interrogation by Phelps, but she ends up being a loyal ally to Phelps, and even stays true to him after flirting with Jack Kelso. Jean Archer's Epic Fail at trying to seduce Phelps earns her an Achievement/Trophy "Femme Imbecile."
  • Film Noir: One of the main influences on the game. It's called L.A. Noire for a reason.
  • Five-Man Band: Formed in the last three Arson cases.
  • Flashed-Badge Hijack: A common game mechanic. Made hilarious when Kelso, an insurance investigator can pull this move on cops in a squad car.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The newspapers, most prominently. Each newspaper scene provides some manner of supplementary scene to a part of the plot and are all over the place chronologically, with many of them taking place in the future, explaining and detailing events that Phelps won't get background information on for some time. As a result, if the player has collected enough newspapers - and it doesn't take many - they can piece together the Suburban Redevelopment Fund conspiracy long before Phelps even suspects there is foul play going on, as well as figure out easily that they are going after red herrings at several points.
    • When Kelso finds a flamethrower, pictures of his old unit, and maps of the Los Angeles tunnel system when tracking down the serial arsonist.
    • At the beginning of Ackerman's interrogation in the fourth homicide case, Cole states that Ackerman got his scars from a flamethrower during the war. He also mentioned that the big guys were given flamethrower duty during the war. Throughout the newspaper cutscenes we see the story of a rather large veteran that turns out to be the serial arsonist. Guess what he did during the war.
    • Cole asks the watch commander about the marked map in the Traffic office, and learns about the freeway project that's still in the planning stages. The freeway construction is how Monroe and the other members of The Conspiracy plan to get rich.
    • After Jean Archer fails at being a Femme Fatale (heck, the Achievement/Trophy is "Femme Imbecile"), Bekowsky remarks that Phelps is blind for not falling for her, and asks him if he has a type. After telling him that he married his type, he does like blondes. He ends up wrecking his marriage falling for a Blonde Bombshell.
    • During the second Arson case, Biggs says that they're not going to arrest the suspect, but "kill this miserable fuck." The suspect is Hogeboom, he is miserable, and Kelso puts a bullet in his head.
    • Inverted by the cutscene that plays after the closing credits, which sets up the fates of all of Phelps' Marine comrades.
  • Forgiveness: A subversion of sorts on Forgiveness Requires Death, as well. Phelps is looking for forgiveness from his unit, who never forgave him for his blunder in Okinawa. When Phelps finally asks his war buddy Kelso if he forgives him, Kelso replies that he'd forgiven him all along. This is followed by Phelps saving Kelso's life in a Heroic Sacrifice, but after he was forgiven.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Embittered soldiers stealing military weapons and supplies plays a major role in the game.
    • Johnny Stompanato (Mickey Cohen's lieutenant) was a real-life version of this trope: As Cohen indicates in the game, he was a Marine who served at Peleliu and Okinawa before becoming a mob enforcer.
  • Genre Throwback: To classic film noir.
  • Glory Hound: Phelps gets accused of this, usually from sour cops thinking he has ulterior motives.
    • He was when he joined the Marines.
  • Going by the Matchbook: Used a number of times to find new locations. Justified in most cases by the fact that the matchbooks are relatively new, and the person of interest must have gone to the location to get it, so there's a connection, however tenuous. Inverted when the crime scene is a nightclub and irrelevant matchbooks are scattered throughout the location.
  • Going Through the Motions: Played straight with a lot of the smaller motions Cole does, like picking objects and rotating them or putting them down. Some of these (like looking at dead bodies) use the basic motion with some slight variations (looking at male arms and female arms has you rotate their wrist in different ways).
    • Also used with a lot of character movements, even between different characters. Follow an older character like Biggs or a heavier character like Galloway up the stairs, and you'll see they move the exact same as Cole.
    • Mostly averted when it comes to facial expressions. Though some of them do get recycled (like when Cole tells someone to "Put the gun down, now!").
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • If you've been tracking down L.A. landmarks, solving the Black Dahlia killer's clues falls under this. You're supposed to use the map to solve them, and the handful of landmarks you need do show up as question marks... if they haven't been found yet. Unfortunately, there's nothing that distinguishes the landmarks if they've already been found before the case begins. Spend enough time randomly driving around LA during the mission and Phelps will eventually solve the clues himself.
      • Fortunately the game is kind enough to use key words and phrases in the descriptions of the relevant locations so you can link them to the poem excerpts describing them. However the game does not give you any indication that some of the question marks on the map are possible landmarks rather than undiscovered hidden vehicles said question marks usually represent, so good luck figuring that out if you haven't discovered all the relevant landmarks prior to the case.
    • Also, in lots of missions, going to some location or interrogating someone at the wrong time will mess up the mission structure, sometimes ending the mission before you got all the clues. This comes without warning and leaves you with lower scores for not guessing what order the developers had in mind.
    • The golden film reels are even worse, because they are often located in obscure locations like in the middle of train tunnels or random playgrounds. Without a guide you almost literally need to cover every street, back alley, and overland area of the game map to find everything.
    • And lets not forget finding all 95 vehicles in the game. A good amount are not even unlocked until certain missions. The vehicle showroom feature does show you which cars you've found, as well as the general shape of the ones you're missing, but so many of them are variations of similar models that it doesn't really help much. In order to find out whether or not you've found a car you need, you have to enter every single vehicle you come across unless you can recognize the slight detailed differences.
    • Averted with regards to the "Complete Edition" version of the game, which includes the bonus levels previously released for download which, as a result, are not covered in the officially published game guide. At least, before the 2017 remaster, which got a new, updated game guide published alongside its release.
    • In fact, this game is so infamous for being easy to mess up without using the game guide that some players have actually taken to calling it "Guide Dang It!: The Game".
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: The M1 Rifle holds 16 rounds before reloading in-game while in reality it holds just eight.
  • Handshake Refusal: During the first investigation with the Arson desk, a patrolman shows a reluctance to shake Cole's hand since Cole was recently involved in a scandal after having an affair with a nightclub singer.
  • Hat Damage: Hats can still be shot in gunfights as in Red Dead Redemption, but they can now also be knocked off during fistfights.
    • There's even an achievement for managing to keep your hat on during a fistfight.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Roy Earle, Cole's partner in the Vice Desk, embodies the worst traits of the LAPD; he is a Dirty Cop who abuses his position as Vice Detective to further benefit him, such as stealing money meant to be evidence and taking bribes from criminals. He's also a racist and a misogynist, as well as an unpleasant Jerkass towards people in general. Even his superiors in the LAPD can't stand him, and frequently chew him out whenever he acts like his usual douchey self. Players are definitely bound to hate him even more when he outs Cole's affair with Elsa to the public which leads to Cole's disgrace and demotion, and even more so when he suffers no repurcussions. And to drive the final nail into the coffin, he is the one to deliver the eulogy at Cole's funeral under the pretense of being Cole's trusted friend despite selling him out.
    • Grosvenor McCaffrey is a person of interest in Cole Phelp's investigation of the murder of Evelyn Summers. Dishonorably discharged from the army for beating a woman to near-death, MacCaffrey became a writer and social activist championing for "the little guy". However, his supposed altruism merely serves to inflate his own ego, openly expressing disdain for the people who he supposedly fought for. When the Evelyn's boyfriend Tiernan came to him in a drunken stupor, MacCaffrey tricks him into thinking he murdered her. Promising to help Tiernan cover it up, MacCaffrey instead rats him out to the police to save his own skin. When goaded by Phelps into an angry tirade when questioned about his dishonorable discharge, MacCaffrey blames the woman he assaulted for ruining his chance at becoming a war hero, as well as ranting that Evelyn deserved to die for taking his book. Though it's later revealed that MacCaffrey was among the many people framed by the Werewolf Killer, his smugness and a general disdain for everyone around him hardly makes him sympathetic.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: One of the movies that Mark Bishop produced was titled Gay Cowboys. No, not that one.
  • Headbutting Heroes: Cole and Kelso.
  • He Knows Too Much: After Roy sells Cole out to advance his own career and distract the public from the Vice Squad's own PR scandals, the chief of police interrupts Cole's interrogation of a suspect right as the suspect is about to confess to stealing and distributing morphine. It turns out the culprit had ties to the Suburban Redevelopment Fund, and further investigations into the morphine heist would have revealed the SRF's plans.
  • The Hero Dies: This is based on the noir genre, and those stories rarely had a happy ending. Cole sadly can't climb out of the sewer in time and gets swept away drowning. He says a final good bye before the water washes him away.
  • Heroic BSoD: Cole breaks down late in the game and suffers several of these.
  • Hero Insurance: In the vehicle driving sections of the game, Cole can cause massive damage to innocent motorist cars and even hit pedestrians without severe in-game consequences. This will lower your final score, but will not prevent you from completing the mission, much less get you fired or put on trial for vehicular homicide.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Cole gives his own life to get Kelso out of the drainage tunnel before it floods.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: You can steal almost any vehicle in the game any time you want.
  • Hide Your Children: Played straight during general gameplay, insofar as children do not appear as regular pedestrians. Averted, though, with child characters appearing in cases. For example:
    • 15-year-old Jessica Hamilton, the rape and attempted murder victim in "The Fallen Idol".
    • You also see Theresa and Lars Taraldsen's daughters, Lena and Hannah, in "The White Shoe Slaying".
    • In "A Polite Invitation" a naked 12-year-old girl is found in Benson's apartment.
    • And during the Arson cases a couple of families were burned inside their houses. This includes their children, with graphically detailed charred bodies.
    • During the second-to-last war flashback. There were kids in that cave...
    • Cole has two daughters, and you can see them sitting in the front row with Mrs. Phelps at his funeral.
      • In a variation, dog houses are seen throughout the neighborhoods but there are no dogs in the game.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Seen here.
  • Historical Domain Character: Mickey Cohen and Johnny Stompanato. In a Shown Their Work moment, Phelps and Stompanato (a real-life veteran) talk about fighting on Okinawa.
  • Historical In-Joke: "Next you'll be telling me Richard Nixon's a crook!" This is sometimes flagged as an anachronism, however in 1947 - the year this game is set - Nixon was in the midst of a high-profile campaign for election to Congress in California.
    • There's also a joke about 3-D movies never catching on.
  • Hollywood Law: During the Arson Desk, Biggs tries to get Cole to drop his Always Murder suspicions by explaining that the overwhelming majority of arson cases are just insurance scams. Suffice to say, in reality, the motivations for arson are more varied, from murder to revenge to hate crimes.
  • Homage: A conspiracy involving a burgeoning Los Angeles' infrastructure, with a beat up private investigator solving the case filled with plenty of Deliberate Values Dissonance? The game pays heavy homage to Chinatown and The Two Jakes, and even uses a Suspiciously Similar Song version of Chinatown's score during the incidental music. L.A. Confidential is also referenced. Heck, it goes BEYOND homage, and basically turns into Chinatown: The Video Game.
    • Upon playing as Kelso, the offices of California Fire and Life bear some resemblance to the offices of Pacific All Risk.
    • Some parallels can also be drawn with Who Framed Roger Rabbit, specifically a real-estate scam related to freeway construction.
    • An apologetic serial killer with an origami fascination? Sounds a lot like Heavy Rain.
    • A whole mess of homages to James Ellroy.
    • One of the apartment buildings lists an N. Wolfe as one of its tenants.
  • Hollywood Spelling: In "The Gas Man" Phelps runs a number of names through R&I to check if any of them was convicted. Some of the names are fairly difficult, including (but not limited to): Zurick, Kellegrew, Ramon Nieves, Acevedo and Kuttner, but the operator never asks for the spelling.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Kelso fistfighting with 3 mooks.
  • Hypocrite: Los Angeles, a city known for its vices, drags Cole Phelps, a mere adulterer, through the mud and dismantles all of his accomplishments in the police force because of this simple transgression. It gets annoying when his superiors chastise him for it even though most of them deal in murder, drugs, and much shadier affairs. Even his own comrades in the war have the balls to call him out for his mistake with the cave hospital despite going on to cause much of the conspiracies that Cole has to solve later in the game.
    • It gets especially egregious when you look at the charming Roy Earle, who, despite being a philanderer, drug abuser, racist, misogynist, and just a royal prick, still gets to be the star detective of the vice squad. Granted, he is a part of the conspiracy, but it's still very jarring.
  • I Am One of Those, Too: During "The Naked City", Henry Arnett lies about having been in the 6th Marines at Okinawa to an actual 6th Marine, Cole Phelps. Phelps is understandably unimpressed.
  • I Can't Reach It: Sometimes, combinations of evidence could prove someone to be lying, but the game only allows you to use one to make the accusation.
  • I Love the Dead: Implied with Ferdinand Jamison, who is found kissing a murder victim.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: In the "Slip of the Tongue" DLC, When you ask Jean Archer if she knows someone named Belasco, she replies she doesn't know James Belasco. Yeah, smart move. Incidentally, she's called dumb by every character before and after, and there's an Xbox achievement for correctly interviewing her called "Femme Imbécile".
  • Ink-Suit Actor: The Game. This is due to the face-rendering technology used for the game's animations.
  • Insufferable Genius: Grosvenor McCaffrey is a big one. To a point where he flies into a violent rage towards anyone who outsmarts him, which is often, because he's not as smart as he thinks he is.
  • Insult Backfire: Couple of these.
    Mickey Cohen: Those Japs. They're little guys, right?
    Kelso: Yes, Mr. Cohen. (Beat) ...about your height.

    Roy: You and your doofus partner, you have been warned.
    Cole: Your vast corrupt future is draining away as we speak.
    Roy: (laughs) I got better things to do than argue the rub with you.
  • Interface Spoiler: The second you open up your notebook on your first Traffic case, you'll see all the desk to which you'll eventually be assigned, in order. The descriptions for many of the achievements spoil the fact that you play as an Investigator at some point.
  • Irony: Of the "Situational" variety; Phelps excelled in the Marine Corps' Officer Candidate School while Kelso flunked out, but Kelso developed into a natural and effective leader whereas Phelps became The Neidermeyer.
  • ISO-Standard Urban Groceries: In Jack Kelso's kitchen, among other places.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: A visibly disturbed Cole says this word for word after shooting Leroy Sabo at the end of "A Marriage Made in Heaven".
  • Its Pronounced Tropay: The Black Dahlia/Werewolf Killer gives a witness a fake address in Tulare County, California. The cast pronounces it "Tool-air," while almost any Californian could tell you the proper pronunciation is "Too-larry."
    • One that sounds like an example of this but actually isn't, is when a radio announcer pronounces the name of the city as "Los Angle-leez" (hard G) instead of the more common (today), "Los An-je-luss" (soft G). However, this is actually accurate to the period, and another example of the developers having Shown Their Work. The common pronunciation used today didn't take root until the 1950s; prior to that time there were several pronunciations of the city's name in use.
    • Phelps names a Lady Eglin wristwatch with a hard G. The city of Elgin in Scotland has the hard G, but the city in Illinois (location of the National Watch Company, makers of that brand) has a soft G.
  • It Will Never Catch On: During the case "The Consul's Car", Phelps talks to Bekowsky about the U.S. Navy developing 3-D movies.
    Bekowsky: That's ridiculous. You'd scare people out of the theater. Who in God's name would want that?
    • When Cole's investigation into Elysium Fields and Leland Monroe is first starting, the exasperated head of Arson says, "You'll be calling Richard Nixon a criminal next!"
    • In one of the Arson cases, Biggs makes a dismissive comment about television never getting all that popular with "who could afford one of those?" In 1947, you could buy a new car for what some televisions cost.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Phelps is a graduate of Stanford.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Surprisingly enough, there's only one usage of it during the game. However, this one usage is Jack Kelso shooting Leland Monroe in the leg, and then stomping on the wound a minute later.
  • Jerkass: Vice Detective Roy Earle. SO much. In fact, Earle as a character is so hated that YouTube has loads of videos featuring people abusing the hell out of him via the righteous application of Car Fu. Of course, because he enjoys the special protection of Story-Driven Invulnerability / Gameplay Ally Immortality, actually managing to kill him results in a Non Standard Game Over.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rusty Galloway comes across as brash and kind of a dick, constantly spouting misogynistic put-downs about many of the women he encounters. He also appears in some of the incidental dialogue to be a genuinely caring father, and he's remarkably tender with Michelle Moller when he and Cole have to tell her that her mother is dead. Cole also has to keep him from instinctively slugging a pedophile and a necrophiliac more than once each.
  • Just Train Wrong: The first flashback scene shows Phelps and Kelso at a train station on their way to Marine training, and features several passengers exiting the side door of a locomotive.
  • Karma Houdini: Roy Earle, Cole's crooked Vice partner who outs Cole's affair to their superiors and the press when his idealism threatens the Vice department's crooked dealings, and works as a bagman for the Suburban Redevelopment Fund cabal, not only gets off scot-free from the whole mess, but even passes himself off as Cole's friend at his funeral, much to Elsa's outrage.
    • Also, it's implied that the Chief of Police manages to escape justice after making a deal with the Assistant D.A. Mickey Cohen also gets off scot free for assassinating most of the Marines involved in the morphine theft, but he's got real-life history on his side. The Mayor is implied to have escaped justice with the Chief.
    • There can potentially be a good number of them if you manage to let a few perpetrators go free.
    • The game deals with a Real Life Karma Houdini, the Black Dahlia murderer. Didn't get away with it in the game. He was killed by Cole, but his identity wasn't released because his half-brother was an influential politician.
    • June Ballard never seems to get hers for her role in getting her 15-year-old niece raped.
    • Semi-Averted with Juan Francisco Valdez. You find out about his crimes in the process of investigating his stolen car, but due to diplomatic immunity you can't bring him to justice for them. If you play your cards right however, his Pedophilic/Ephebophilic habits will become public, likely torpedoing his public image and ruining him.
  • Kill It with Fire: Hogeboom's weapon of choice is a flamethrower.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Hostage situations generally end like this, provided you don't miss. If the timing's right, it may also result in a Curse Cut Short.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Biggs and Kelso.
  • Knight Templar: Just before Cole does his first interrogation at the station, he's advised by the Homicide department's Captain James Donnelly that if he's struggling to get a confession just by questioning the suspect, it's OK to use a little violence. He is also far too happy to send criminals to the gas chamber.
  • Kosher Nostra: Mickey Cohen shows up as part of a drug dealing operation.
  • Large Ham: Captain James Donnelly and Jermaine Jones, oh so much.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Many of the Marines who steal military-grade morphine from a supply ship and begin selling it on the black market end up getting killed off by rival drug dealers.
  • Lawful Pushover: Cole lets his subordinates get away with bigotry and defense of substance abuse, having crossed a Despair Event Horizon since reproving his men during the war got him betrayed and shot.
  • Law of Conservation of Detail: Deliberately averted. Each crime scene has a number of props lying around that Cole can interact with, but do nothing to advance the case.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: During Captain Donnelly's end-of-case congrats (or indeed his verbal beatdowns, depending on the outcome) he will occasionally glance to the camera, as though he were talking to the player.
  • Left Hanging: Two plot elements seem major but are never connected to the main storyline. One of the first suspects you bust as a patrolman (in the fistfighting tutorial) has a notebook with numbers and Dirty Cop Floyd Rose's name on it. You later take Rose's place in Homicide, but the actual notebook is never explained. Second, the Black Dahlia killer signs one of his bodies "Tex," which you later learn is the nickname of the arsonist, Ira Hogeboom. But that connection (if any) is never explained or commented upon either.
  • Lifelines: A non-game show example. When talking to/interrogating people, you can use "intuition points" to eliminate one of the three questioning options (truth, doubt, or lie), or see what other players selected for that option, similar to the trope namer's "50/50" and "ask the audience" options.
  • Little Useless Gun: Discussed. One of the cops at the precinct will constantly harp on about how he's thinking about moving up to a .45 so he can stop perps with one shot.
  • Los Angeles
  • Made of Iron: Cole Phelps and later Jack Kelso have this through their Regenerating Health due to Gameplay Story Segregation.
    • Also applies to the vehicles, which unlike their GTA counterparts can't actually be blown up (though they can still lose their engines and, in a change, entire tires), and are generally tougher to disable. Justified because to make a car safe at the time, you'd need to build it like a tank.
    • The pedestrians of L.A. are near invulnerable. You can hit them dead center with a Super Nash going 120mph, sending them flying into the air over the car and onto the asphalt, and they will still get right back up. You actually have to *park* the car on top of a downed pedestrian to kill him/her.
  • Madness Mantra: "You said the houses would be empty!"
  • Male Gaze: Roy Earle, being the classy guy he is, openly leers at the asses of several women as they walk by.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Roy Earle. When first we meet him, the other characters comment on his fashion sense: "He dresses like a movie star!" He'll also complain if you should try, whilst partnered with him, to drive a vehicle that he feels is beneath his status.
  • Meaningful Name: Looks like Mr. Leitvol in fact was the Leitwolf of the whole racket.
    • Most of the various outfits fall into this:
      • "Golden Boy": Cole's default outfit as depicted in the cover artwork (see above). This is Cole's in-game nickname and refers to his shining example of what a cop, and the LAPD as a whole, should be.
      • "Sword of Justice", Cole's suit for the Homicide desk. Represents his status as a weapon of the LAPD, particularly Knight Templar Captain Donnelly.
      • "Sunset Strip": Cole changes into this suit when he joins the Vice squad in Hollywood.
      • "Outsider": Cole's suit for the Arson desk. Represents his fall from grace, specifically how all his old colleagues shun him.
      • "Sharpshooter": Exactly What It Says on the Tin; increases accuracy with certain weapons.
      • "Chicago Lightning": increaces accuracy with certain weapons including the Thompson (Tommy gun), which is stereotypically associated with the Chicago mobs.
      • Also toyed with in regards to the "Button Man" (which gives increased ammo). The name is ostensibly a reference to mob hitmen, although you never play as a hitman.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: You can kill any bad guy (when you are able to) with no problems, however shooting a woman (who is just as guilty as the men) will cause the mission to fail or in a cut scene you will just knock her out.
  • Mercy Kill: Kelso kills an irretrievably insane Hogeboom.
    • Cole orders his men to do this to the burning Japanese civilians during the final flashback. Courtney Sheldon is also seen scrambling over a ridge to put a wounded marine out of his misery in an earlier one.
  • Mercy Mode: The game includes an "Action Skip" mechanic which, if you fail an action-oriented objective (like a car/foot chase or a shootout) multiple times, will skip it entirely and continue with the story. Your rating at the end of the case will not reflect this, but you obviously lose out on XP you'd have earned.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: The case "The Fallen Idol" starts out as an apparent drunk driving crash and ends with statutory rape, blackmail, two attempted murders and a mob hit, and culminates in a shootout with about dozen gangsters. Then there is the entire Arson desk, in which a series of suspicious fires leads to a massive real-estate scam connected with the freeway construction project.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: The game is full to the brim with this during it's interrogations. Typically it's an issue with the game expecting players to understand that they need to purposefully ignore logical fallacies, side-step away incomplete deductive process, and purposefully aim for tropes such as Conviction by Contradiction. All of which can be incredibly non-intuitive, particularly during the early cases. There is also an issue with the game often expecting players to treat circumstantial conjecture as evidence, and even a couple of moments where Cole will use Insane Troll Logic to make a correct answer work within the context of the questioning.
  • More Hero Than Thou: Cole and Jack Kelso briefly have this moment in the sewer over who will boost the other up and out.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: During WWII, Phelps' men nicknamed him the "Shadow of Death", due to his penchant for getting his men killed.
  • Narrator All Along: Herschel Biggs. After the opening monologue, you don't even meet him or hear him speak until after you get busted down to Arson, where he and Phelps fight against the corruption Biggs talks about in the opening monologue.
  • The Neidermeyer: Phelps is commonly seen as one by the Marines under his command, although he's not a deliberate Jerkass, just inflexible and by-the-book.
    • And, in one of the flashbacks he gets shot by one of his own men, though he lives.
  • Neon City: The game makes a certain amount of use of neon to help establish its time period — of particular note being its logo, which resembles a big, rooftop neon sign in traditional golden-orange.
  • Newsreel: Used to showcase an important story element regarding the Suburban Redevlopment Fund.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers do an excellent job of not talking about the real villain, the Suburban Redevelopment Fund. The trailers also make it seem like the Black Dahlia Killer/Stuart Ackerman is the main antagonist, and the cases are not shown to be split up into desks.
  • Never Found the Body: Cole Phelps... that we can see.
  • Nice Hat: Considering it's a piece of Noir fiction set in the '40s, just about everyone of importance sports one. If for some reason (say, a fight) your hat should fall, you can pick it back up if it's not back on after a cutscene. There's even an achievement for winning a brawl without losing your hat.
    • There's even a hilarious nod to this: If Cole should lose his hat in a fight, he'll pause to lament "That was a twelve-dollar hat!"
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: By having an affair with Elsa, Cole's career heads into a downward spiral.
    • Even more dramatically, Cole's leadership during the war is so poor that it winds up influencing two of the main story arcs. Corpsman Courtney Sheldon becomes totally disgusted by Cole's rapid rise through the LAPD that he arranges the U.S. Army ship heist. Cpl. Hogeboom gets PTSD from Cole's order to burn out a cave which turned out to be a hospital, and becomes the firebug that he chases in the Arson desk. And, as noted above, Hogeboom may have also had an unrevealed connection to the Black Dahlia murders, too.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Cole is demoted to Arson, which is a firm case of Villain Ball grabbing because part of their scheme is burning down houses.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Detective Galloway's attitude towards women isn't exactly enlightened.
  • No Dead Body Poops: The coroner will refer to the "usual evacuation smell" while investigating one of the homicide victims' bodies.
  • No Flow in CGI: It's particularly obvious that the motion capture technology used to create facial animations can't pick up hair animations properly, so everyone has short hair that's almost entirely restricted to the top of their head. This gets particularly funny-looking with women, given that they all have similar rolled up hair styles (which are based on real hairstyles, but looser styles were also popular).
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: Some of the murder victims in the Homicide cases are thinly-veiled fictional versions of real-life murder victims in 1947 Los Angeles.
    • Celine Henry, the victim of the Red Lipstick Murder, is based off Jeanne French (as admitted by Rockstar). They were in their 40s when they were killed, and beforehand they were aviators with rocky relationship histories, which lead them to alcoholism. They were both brutally beaten to death and had "Tex" and a rude message scrawled over their nude corpses with lipstick. Even their maiden surnames, Axford, are identical.
    • Antonia Maldonado, the victim of the Silk Stocking Murder, is based off of the real-life murder victim Rosenda Mondragon. Both were 21-year-old alcoholic Hispanic women who were murdered in 1947 while divorcing their combative husbands in the Los Angeles area. Their corpses were also dumped nude with a stocking prominently connected to their murders.
    • Theresa Taraldsen, the victim of the White Shoe Slaying, is based off of Laura Trelstad. Both were 37-year-old wives and mothers in families of Nordic origin who were murdered in 1947, and their corpses were found with only one white shoe left on them.
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*: Jack Kelso ends up doing this when he bursts into Elsa's apartment, all bloodied and injured from a mob beatdown and runs into Cole, who draws a Colt 1911A1 on him.
    Kelso: So you're still carrying that Army .45, Cole...
    (Kelso collapses onto the floor)
  • Noob Cave: The entire street cop section at the beginning of the game is this, which serves as nothing more than to introduce you to the game's mechanics (interrogation, crime scene investigation, and fighting). If you screw up the interrogations, you're allowed to redo them, though this is the only time you are allowed to do so since all future interrogations are one shot only (in a much as the frequent checkpoints make them one shot).
  • Notice This: The piano key and controller shake that plays whenever you approach a piece of evidence.
  • Not Me This Time: Herbert Chapman, a firebug, insists this when you meet up with him during the Arson desk. In true L.A. Noire fashion, the evidence points to him and he violently resists arrest, but later turns out not to be the guy.
  • Odd Couple: Many of Cole's partners. Cole Phelps is a Wide-Eyed Idealist and Consummate Professional, paired with...
    • ...Stefan Bekowsky, an unambitious jokester of a cop that while often complains about their work, carries a strong sense of justice and arguably gets along with Cole the fastest.
    • ...Finbarr "Rusty" Galloway, an alcoholic, crass, misogynistic and extremely lazy bully cop.
    • ...Roy Earle, a thoroughly corrupt Smug Snake who is as dirty as the villains he deals with.
    • ...Herschel Biggs, a burned-out and cynical cop, whose career is effectively dead, but he's just running down the clock until retirement.
  • Office Golf: Curtis Benson, Jack Kelso's boss, is first seen putting golf balls across his office floor into his hat.
  • Officer O'Hara: There are plenty of police officers with Irish surnames, but Capt. Donnelly of the Homicide Desk is Officer O'Hara gone retro. He has a thick (and catchy) Irish accent, calls Phelps "ludd" or "boyo", refers to criminals and the Japanese that Phelps fought against as "heathens", and calls the work at the homicide desk something along the lines of "God's work". Furthermore, he is fond of shouting and drinking on duty. Well, not that no one else is...
  • Off on a Technicality: Donnelly assures Cole this will happen to the innocent men arrested for the Werewolf killings during the Homicide arc, but also done quietly to avoid further embarrassments.
  • Oh, Crap!: If you didn't squeeze all info out of Frank Morgan, you tail him to his apartment and he responds with a defeated "Aw shit" when you catch up with him and see he was hiding Adrian Black.
  • Older Sidekick: Galloway and Biggs are this to Phelps on cases.
  • Omniscient Database: R&I is almost never without the ability to find answers for any questions about names, addresses, or histories that Cole asks, no matter how obscure. Even better, they can almost always produce an answer within seconds. This was brought up when GameSpot had a retired LAPD Detective play the game to see if it was accurate - the real R&I obviously had business hours and couldn't be rung up at 2:30 AM, and often took hours or days to get back to you. And this was in the 1980s.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. A number of minor characters are named Dudley.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Jack Kelso gets one in the last two cases, as his shot up left arm never seems to bother him that much.
    • Can also be said of Phelps as well when he takes obvious bullet damage during gunfights, but appears to shrug it off.
  • Optional Traffic Laws: Okay, using an obvious police car would avert just getting pulled over, but this doesn't happen even in the unmarked cars with the sirens off.
    • Particularly evident during the Jack Kelso cases, since Kelso isn't even a cop.
  • Pædo Hunt: One of the Homicide cases has a paroled child sex offender as one of the prime suspects. Despite all of the evidence pointing to the victim's husband as the killer, your captain chews you out if you don't charge the pedophile, and it's impossible to get a perfect rating if you charge the husband. Rusty even lampshades it, saying that while the husband is no threat to anyone else, the pedophile is a constant threat to a local high school and they need to get him off the streets.
    • But it doesn't matter either way, since it turns out neither of them were the real killer.
    • Phelps threatens to toss James Belasco in jail and tell everybody he's a child molester if he doesn't tell everything he knows. It's an empty threat to get him to talk, but a remarkably cruel one on Cole's part.
  • Patched Together from the Headlines: Every single case is based on or loosely inspired by a real-life Los Angeles case in the 1940s.
  • Permanently Missable Content: There are several Achievements that can only be attained if you get it right the very first time on the first playthrough: restarting the mission will not give you another chance.
  • Perp Sweating: A key gameplay feature.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Kelso forces his way into Benson's apartment at gunpoint, then tries to get information out of him. Benson refuses to cooperate, so Kelso escalates things.
  • Police Procedural: Much of the game is focused on investigating crimes, and will require the player to collect evidence, interrogate suspects, and perform other police work.
  • Politically Correct History:
    • Averted. Racism and double standards are prevalent, with special hatred directed towards the Japanese and Germans given the war still fresh in everyone's mind.
    • Phelps holds progressive attitudes (he treats black people and women far better than his compatriots, and expresses deeper understanding of the Japanese in the war flashbacks), but like others who supported race/gender equality back then, Cole gets accused of being a communist by several people.
  • Pop the Tires: In the car chase sequences, your partner can do this if you drive into position and give him a clear shot. At the climax of one arson case, you end up chasing a streetcar where this isn't an option.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: The Suburban Redevelopment Fund is deftly derailed by Jack Kelso in the penultimate story. The finale is a matter of hunting down Dr. Fontaine's clueless patsy, rescuing the kidnapped Distressed Damsel in the process.
  • Precision F-Strike: Plenty of these later on in the game.
    • Even early on, Cole gets one during a profile of Hopgood during "The Fallen Idol" case, bringing up the evidence of chloral hydrate:
      Cole: A fifteen year old girl told me how she was drugged and molested at a casting house, I found the chloral hydrate in your drinks cabinet. You give me something or I will break your fucking jaw, Hopgood!
    • Cole has one when telling off Roy for speaking ill of the late Courtney.
      Cole: He was a better man than you'll ever know. You say one more word about him and I WILL BLOW YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF!
    • Kelso pulls one when Cole has brought him to the police station for interrogation.
      Kelso: You pick me up in front of my apartment like a common criminal and expect small talk? Fuck you.
  • Preorder Bonuses: Ranging from suits that affect gameplay to additional cases, depending on who you bought the game from. Rockstar have said they'll eventually put these items up for sale on XBL and PSN, so players won't have to miss anything. A "Complete Edition" of the game was released for PS3 and other platforms in 2011, containing the bonus missions.
  • Pretty in Mink: In the upscale parts of the town, some of the NPC ladies are wearing fur-trimmed coats.
    • Some of the novels based on the game have covers with women wearing evening dresses and white fur wraps.
  • Prison Rape: Captain Leary implies this will happen to Mark Bishop after he's arrested for attempted murder and having sex with a drugged 15-year-old.
  • Private Eye Monologue: During the opening, Biggs.
  • Promotion, Not Punishment: Discussed at the beginning after the protagonist grabs the shotgun from his patrol car, when he and his partner note that using the shotgun generally means they're either going to be fired or promoted.
  • Psycho for Hire: Hogeboom, and as usual for the Trope, he turns on his master.
  • Pun-Based Title: "La noire" is literally "The black" in French. And since "la" is a feminine article, the game uses the feminine spelling of "noire".
  • Pyromaniac: While investigating fires at the Arson Desk, Phelps comes across firebug Herbert Chapman, who has a history of starting fires for entertainment.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The final case for the Homicide desk ends with Phelps and Galloway killing the Black Dahlia murderer, AKA Garret Mason. However, due to Mason being the half brother of a highly ranked official in the country, Donnelly tells Phelps and Galloway that the case being solved will not go public due to the implications it could bring on the other brother and the police department for locking up the wrong people. As far as the public is aware, the Black Dahlia killer is still at large.
  • Quoting Myself: Before Roy Earle begins his eulogy at Cole's funeral, there is some hard-to-understand audio that reverberates through the church. Listen closely: it's actually voice clips that Earle said earlier when he told Phelps to stop his investigation. This is funnier in hindsight when you hear Earle say to Phelps "your investigation is finished" to Cole from beyond the grave.
  • R-Rated Opening: The first Homicide case immediately opens at the scene of a brutal murder, with the victim, a young, naked girl, sprawled on the street.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The molestation of Jessica Hamilton in "The Fallen Idol".
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Cole Phelps, to a T.
    • Malcolm Carruthers, the coroner. Smart and competent, and one of the few people in the LAPD who doesn't treat Phelps like crap after his fall from grace. When Phelps displays a little self-pity after the story breaks, Carruthers firmly shuts him down, but acknowledges that Phelps is a damn good detective and says he's more than happy to work with the disgraced cop on cases. Phelps calls that "firm, but fair."
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: After being accused of adultery, Phelps is banished to the Arson desk. However...
  • Reassignment Backfire: ...this merely puts him on the trail of a serial arsonist and a deeper conspiracy behind it. Note: Made worse/better by the fact that this was done by the same conspiracy in order to distract the media from an impending scandal that would reveal their dealings.
  • Regenerating Health: As you take damage, the sound of a beating heart and a change from color to black and white on the screen will tell you to hide for a few seconds so Cole can shrug off his bullet wounds. This also applies to Kelso though, not the bullet wound to his arm he suffers near the end of the game.
  • Red Herring: Some of the clues you collect are never used to disprove a lie and there's also the bits of sometimes significant looking detritus you'll find at crime scenes.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Most of Cole's partners are red, and Cole himself is blue.
  • Redshirt Army: The LAPD Patrol Division. To a ridiculous degree: if a gunbattle lasts more than a handful of seconds, they will all be lying on the ground dead.
  • The Resenter: Herschel Biggs. During their first mission, he reveals that he hates Phelps because of this. Phelps was the shiny new superhero everyone loved, while Biggs was just trying to wind down his career, which has been unremarkable and pretty much dead.
  • Retirony: Averted with Biggs. He's close to retirement but he survives while Phelps dies.
  • Returning War Vet: Phelps and Kelso. Phelps does it of his own accord, Kelso is dragged into it.
  • Ring Around the Collar: Used as part of the motion-capture technology. The heads of the actors were filmed with thirty high-resolution cameras to produce the detailed animated models used in the game, but these had to be matched to the computer-rendered character bodies (which were themselves often animated using motion-capture suits). Note how the women with low-cut blouses and bare-shoulder dresses all wear necklaces, and particularly how an otherwise naked girl in Benson's apartment is wearing a necktie.
  • Revolvers Are for Amateurs: Cole's only opportunity to use a revolver ingame occurs during the patrol desk tutorial's shootout at the bank. When he's promoted to Detective, he switches his revolver out for a 1911.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better:
    • Averted with Cole's 1911 and Jack's Browning Hi-Power. Played straight with all the partners, except Roy Earle.
    • Played straight in order to get the Roscoe and Friends achievement, during the patrol assignment "Armed and Dangerous," Cole has to drop the shotgun he automatically picks up and instead use his service revolver. It's the only time in the game he ever has the opportunity to use it.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The assault on Leland Monroe's mansion.
  • Room Full of Crazy: The arsonist's origami crane room.
  • Rousing Speech: Kelso gives one in the post-credits cutscene, declaring his ethics, an interesting contrast to Phelps who wanted to prove his ethics, but still fell for a Femme Fatale and left his family.
  • Rule of Cool: Aside from all the previously mentioned examples of Anachronism Stew, it rains more often in the game than it does in actual LA, usually for dramatic purposes.
  • Scare Chord: The sound that plays upon getting an interrogation question wrong.
  • Scenery Porn: Team Bondi has been able to create a very accurate representation of late 1940s Los Angeles, and it seems that the research and attention to detail has paid off.
    • Here's a fun Game Within a Game: Walk Phelps down some of the real-life streets in the game, and simultaneously have the Google Street View of the same locations up on your phone or laptop. Especially in some of the largely unchanged sections of town (e.g., Hollywood), it's actually rather alarming how much of the architecture is still standing, and how accurate the in-game models of those buildings are. Although the reproduction of the Chinese Theatre omits the famous celebrity cement imprints (could be rights issues or some other reason).
  • Semper Fi: Cole was a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps before joining LAPD. Flashbacks are periodically shown involving his service. Many other important characters in the story are also Marine veterans.
  • Serial Killer: Garrett Mason and Ira Hogeboom.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Every character in the game; it's the 1940s. Some of the suits are particularly notable, such as Roy's pink and gray two-tone getup (which gets lampshaded), and Mark Bishop's blood-red affair.
    • A number of different suits for Cole are unlocked as the game progresses, with several of them providing additional abilities.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Cole and Biggs, to a degree. Ira Hogeboom more severely.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: This is the usual way for Cole Phelps to resolve a hostage situation. Don't take too long to line up a shot or you'll lose.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Team Bondi used hundreds of photographs and maps of 1947 Los Angeles in order to perfectly re-create the city as it existed then. The first order of business? Getting rid of LA's freeway system.
    • According to this news article, Team Bondi used 180,000 photos to create the map for L.A. Noire.
    • In "Buyer Beware", an FN Browning is found as evidence, with a gunshop owner noting that it's an unusual find because it's extremely rare outside Europe. This is pretty much true, as a version of the FN Browning for the American market didn't come about until 1955.
  • Show Within a Show: The game continues Rockstar's tradition of including in-game radio programming. Though not as extensive as what you'd find in any of the Grand Theft Auto games, the broadcasts include original vintage scripted radio shows, such as an episode of The Bickersons.
  • Shrunken Head: A case features a shrunken head as a prominent clue. However, being a movie prop, it isn't actually real.
  • Smug Snake: Too many to list. Roy Earle and Mickey Cohen are tied for the blue ribbon.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: A few instances, but Cole Phelps and Roy Earle are the most notable.
    Earle: Fifty bucks? Do they think I'm made of money?
    Phelps: No, you just look like you're made of money.
    Earle: Oh, very good. The kid's on form. I'd say on a scale of dull to scintillating, you're a solid tedious today, which you can be pleased with.
    Phelps: Do you ever listen to yourself?
    Earle: I don't have the same voices in my head as you do, Cole.
  • Something Completely Different: The last Homicide desk mission features neither crime scene inspections nor witness or suspect interrogation, but mostly consists of looking for clues hidden in the city's landmarks, with a cryptic poem as a guide. Once all clues are found, the last part of the mission is an action sequence.
  • The Stinger: A final flashback after the credits reveals that the theft from the SS Coleridge was motivated in large part by their outrage at their hated lieutenant Cole waltzing into a plum job as a poster boy for the LAPD.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: The newspapers, and Cole's World War II Flashbacks.
  • Story Difficulty Setting: If the player fails an action sequence three times in a row, they'll be presented with an option to skip it altogether if they want to get back to the story.
  • Story Overwrite: No matter what car you're currently driving, it gets replaced by your current default police car during important scenes like chases.
  • The Tease: Doris West, Parnell's secretary. She comes in shaking her ass, leans down to emphasize her generous cleavage, and smiles coquettishly to Cole. Bonus points for her being played by Playboy Model Angela Little.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: A disclaimer of the back of the game's box reads as follows:
    This is a fictional story set in 1940s Los Angeles depicting invented and fictionalized historical characters, groups, locations, scenes and events in a manner that is not historically accurate and should not be interpreted to be factual.
  • 1000 Origami Cranes: The opening of a case shows a man in a dark room folding origami cranes among many others. Later on, Phelps makes reference to this particular legend when Biggs finds a crane near a crime scene.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Doctor Fontaine seems to be able to induce this in his patients. Courtney accepting his (transparently shady) deal is possibly justified by his desperation and trust for his therapist, but what the hell did Elsa think she was doing!? She knows the man's involved in the conspiracy, and goes to confront him, alone, on his home territory, without telling anyone where she's gone, without a weapon, and she turns her back on him after telling him that she knows he's involved in getting people killed.
  • Tragic Hero: Cole Phelps. Survived a WW2 battle due to cowardice, and became a decorated war hero because of it since the rest of his squad were dead. Later committed (unwittingly, it's implied) a grotesque war crime and, in his panicked attempt to correct it, only made it worse. He's also abrasive and distant with his co-workers, who see him as a selfish Glory Hound (and they're not entirely wrong). What keeps Cole relatable and sympathetic is that he himself recognizes his flaws and past mistakes, is deeply haunted by them and determined to atone; sadly, he only continues the pattern of making bad choices which end up hurting innocent people.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: In addition to revealing the culprits of several cases, at least one trailer spoils Cole and Elsa's affair.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Some of the commercials and trailers make the game out to be more GTA in the 40s, rather than a slower narrative game in the vein of Heavy Rain.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: While the game makes it so you can complete cases no matter how many questions you respond to correctly, getting a 5-star rating can feel like this due to the subjective nature of evaluating people's statements.
  • True Crime:
    • All of the criminal cases you investigate are based on real crimes that occurred in 1940s Los Angeles. For example "Nicholson Electroplating" is based off a real explosion at a plant electropolishing aluminum in Los Angeles in 1947, killing 13 people. Additionally, a few cases pit Phelps against notorious real-life L.A. mobster Mickey Cohen.
    • The game provides a fictional solution to the real-life unsolved Black Dahlia case: The murderer is Garrett Mason, a bartender you meet in your first Homicide case who works as a temp at all the bars the murder victims attended. Unfortunately, he also happens to be the half-brother of a powerful federal official, so all the previous suspects are quietly released through a series of department tricks, the truth is covered up, and the original case is left open. Still a Bittersweet Ending though, since you know you've put a stop to his murder spree for good by killing him.
  • True Companions: The Sixth Marines (at least for Kelso). Galloway, Bekowski, Biggs, and Kelso to a lesser extent, as they all support Cole in one way or another after his fall from grace.
  • Unfriendly Fire: Cole was shot by Courtney Sheldon on Okinawa.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The Homicide desk cases pretty much fall squarely here, as it centers around the real-life unsolved Black Dahlia murders. Loosely Based On because you actually do find and stop the killer, but you can't out him to public light, due to his brother being an influential politician.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses:
    • Good luck solving "The Quarter Moon Murders" if you're not either a citizen of Los Angeles, exceedingly well-versed in both the geography and history of the city, or using a walkthrough.
    • Almost all the cases in the game are based on actual crimes that occurred in L.A. in the 1940s.
  • Villainous Rescue: More like Anti-villainous rescue, but near the end of the game Ira Hogeboom saves Elsa from Fontaine.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Cole has a Type II relationship with most of his partners. But not so much with Earle after he sells Cole out.
  • Waistcoat of Style: The last unlock-able outfit is exactly this, even allowing Cole to take more damage.
  • Wham Line: Your wife's attorney has pictures of you and the German.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the very first tutorial mission, it is heavily implied that Detective Floyd Rose had something to do with the murder, and may have in fact framed the man who ultimately gets arrested for it. Aside from being told that he retires when Cole gets promoted to Homicide, this is never brought up again. The corruption that plagues the LAPD will only get further emphasized as you progress from there.
    • In "The Naked City", after Henry Arnett is arrested for conspiring in burglary, it's never shown what happens to his girlfriend, Heather, nor is there any mention of her. And that poor assistant to Stoneman...
    • The only SRF members not attending Cole's funeral are the D.A. and the editor of Los Angeles Times. Either they're going to jail like Monroe and Benson or they walk away free from the scandal. Your pick.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Arresting Varley instead of Ryan during The Gas Man results in you being chewed out pretty badly: "How is it you can bring no less than three suspects in to the station and still manage to charge the wrong fucking guy?!"
    • Cole calls out Roy for pocketing a thick roll of cash at a crime scene, but ultimately lets it slide when no other cops seem to give a rat's ass.
      • Roy then justifies this is recompensing him for his $20 out of pocket. Cole estimated there was about a grand in the roll. In 2017 money, that's about $9,800 for his trouble.
    • How everyone reacts after Cole's affair with Elsa is revealed to the press.
    • Elsa to Cole about not asking for Kelso's help but instead conning him into helping them without giving him the opportunity to back out, relying on Kelso's nature to do the right thing.
    • Captain Donnelly will also voice his displeasure should you charge Moller instead of Rooney at the end of The Golden Butterfly.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Your partners will know when you're screwing around with them - like driving off without them or being a bad driver.
  • When It All Began: World War II in the 6th Marines: the OCS, the Okinawa campaign, and the boat home.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: The sandbox is not quite as wide open as Rockstar's other games. Although there is a hell of a lot of Los Angeles that can be explored, even beyond the storyline and on-the-street crime missions, there just isn't that much to do other than drive around and enjoy the scenery.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Cole revels in the trope, playing as huge contrast to the jaded veterans that he is partnered with. He believes that every case can be solved and playing by the rules is the best way to handle things. Cole's idealism is a mask to hide the fact that he was such a bad leader in World War II. A fact that resulted in many of his men being killed, prompting them to shoot him in the back for his troubles, and that he accidentally fried a cave full of women and children. After Cole's fall from grace when he is caught having an affair with a singer, he starts tackling cases that need to be solved rather than solving cases just to make himself look good and starts to understand that not everything can be resolved from playing by the rules.
  • World War I: Biggs fought in it, and had a particularly disturbing encounter with German flamethrowers during the Battle of Belleau Wood.
  • World War II: Cole is a veteran of it (Okinawa), like most men his age.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Ira Hogeboom. After his experience on Okinawa left him seriously damaged, it was easy for Fontaine to manipulate him into torching the homes of those who refused to sell to Suburban Redevelopment. When he realized he had killed again, he completely loses it and withdraws into a fantasy of another 'war'. You can't help but feel sorry for him, and even agree with Kelso's decision to put him out of his misery.
  • World of Buxom:
    • Applies to virtually every adult female character due to the way their bodies are animated. In-game this is only acknowledged in the downloaded level "Reefer Madness" (also available in the Complete Edition version) with the appearance of a buxom secretary who flirts with Phelps at the soup factory office (and who is portrayed by a Playboy model).
    • Even by the game's standards, Mrs. Phelps is rather well-endowed.
  • Worst News Judgement Ever: The first newspaper you find has a big front page story that basically amounts to "therapist gives guest lecture at medical school."
    • This ends up becoming a plot point, when the Manipulative Bastards behind the game's over-arching conspiracy manage to drive the Brenda Allen scandal and ongoing account of the LAPD's corruption out of the public eye by leaking a story about... Cole having an affair with a lounge singer. The explanation is that the editor of the LA Times is in on the conspiracy.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • Roy Earle, misogynist and all around scumbag, smacks Elsa Lichtmann for talking back to him (while she's grieving, no less). Jack Kelso, in a more justified moment, punches out Miss Cansino after she shoots him in the arm.
    • Harlan Fontaine strikes Elsa with a glass ball in an attempt to kill her.
    • Generally averted with regards to the suspects Cole encounters. Although he shoots dead many male suspects, he never lays a hand on any female suspects. A potential exception is in one of the optional street crime missions in which the option exists for Cole to shoot and kill a fleeing female burglar, but the case is failed if this happens.
  • Writing Indentation Clue: Cole uses this trick to gather evidence for a few cases.
  • You are Number 1247: Cole Phelps' badge number, you'll hear it whenever he makes a phone call, which is a lot.
  • Younger Than They Look: The 12 year old girl who shows up during one of the final cases has the same body model as two other teenage girls Phelps encountered before that, both of whom were over 15. Kelso was able to catch on to it though when she lies about her age, and he asks her to restate it in which she tells the truth.
  • Young Future Famous People: Among other banners strung across the streets advertising movies and requesting citizens to drive safely, you also see campaign ads for a rookie congressman named Richard Nixon.
  • You Can Always Tell a Liar: Cole Phelps will need to correctly determine body language and whether someone's being truthful or full of shit, and the people he questions will occasionally tell lies or half-truths. Their signs of dishonesty will be obvious in the beginning, but get increasingly subtler later on. Players who have problems with reading people and nonverbal communication will have their work cut out for them.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: As Kelso, you find a police report (written by Roy Earle) in Leland Monroe's safe that concludes that Harlan Fontaine was responsible for the heroin theft. It's pretty obvious what Monroe had in mind for the good doctor, in the immediate future. Or possibly it was Betrayal Insurance in case Fontaine turned on him. Knowing the doctor's nature, that's a pretty wise move.
  • Zip Mode: If you delegate driving chores to your partner, a trip all the way across town can be accomplished instantaneously (after any relevant conversations have run their course). The downside to this is that you cannot locate any landmarks or street crimes unless you are driving, and there is one case where you will miss an entire line of investigation and, subsequently, a lot of clues. Oddly enough, Jack Kelso can do this as well, even though he doesn't have a partner to delegate to.


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