Alternative Character Interpretation: Nate has sociopathic tendencies in terms of the way he manipulates others. While Parker is seen as a Heroic Comedic Sociopath, Nate is a much darker version in that he genuinely doesn't care about the people he must manipulate to help others. While those people almost certainly deserve it, it is still interesting how little he cares about their fates. He also has a habit of risking himself and his team in ways that are almost unnecessary for the purpose of truly defeating his enemies. This is also seen in "The Boys Night Out Job" in which Nate is shown to literally have no friends outside of work; while his team is making fun of him over this fact, it is shown to in fact be true. Later in this episode, he's shown having difficulty making small talk with a former client. Even Parker is capable of this with her friend Peggy.
Interestingly, related to the above, in the Five-Man Band, Parker could be seen as The Lancer and Sophie as The Chick. Parker does seem to have some similarity to Nate in terms personality as compared with Sophie. Sophie is also more worried about the emotions of the rest of the team, while Parker is a mild sociopath. In addition, Parker is the one with the least leadership potential relative to the rest of the team, also fitting into that requirement.
Also, when Sophie and Nate leave, it's Parker who becomes the next Mastermind.
The team as a whole are essentially industrial saboteurs, and can either be seen as mainly type 3 or 4 AntiHeroes or as type 3 AntiVillains. Word of God sees them as the bad guys, and actually points out that the premise is a bunch of con artists taking the rich and powerful for a ride. Fans often ask how the Team finds clients to help, but this is actually spelled out in the second episode, "The Homecoming Job" - Hardison has back doors into every electronic banking system in the world and is constantly monitoring every online news site looking for scandals and whatnot. It's rather like an epidemiological study; they don't look for victims, they look for rich criminals, then work backwards to find people who can benefit from their comeuppance. Clients find the team mostly by word of mouth or outright accident - most of the time, they're just a team of con artists looking for marks to run cons on. They just limit themselves to Acceptable Targets and Asshole Victims - and pay back the victims Just Like Robin Hood. If the team ever got caught, Hardison would get absolutely nailed for insider trading, as the Team's "Alternative revenue stream" is shorting the stock of the companies they target!
Nate: See if a companys stock price falls 10, 15% in one day and you see it coming, you sell short, you make a lot of money. If its going to fall 30% you can make shattering amounts of money. We didnt need the FBI to show up and take you to jail, we just needed them to show up and take boxes out of your office... all day long... in front of TV cameras... scaring your investors. You going to jail is just a bonus.
Sophie actually gets Nate to keep his position as team leader by pointing this out;
Sophie: ...go find some bad guys. Bad guys have money.
This actually bites them in the ass pretty hard at the end of Season 4, as Dubenich has been leading the Team around by the nose and shorting those same stocks. In the finale, the Team has to deal with a target that they've been unknowingly aiding throughout the season, and knows them inside and out.
Word of God also casts Sterling as an unambiguous good guy, which is definitely questionable considering how in his first appearance he quite bluntly tells Nathan that he only cares about finding a way to keep IYS from having to write a check - and as someone even he admits is likely to be innocent looks like a good fit for the frame, he's fully in favor of screwing a nobody to help his clients.
Sterling: We're insurance men, Nate. We don't care who's guilty or who's innocent - just who pays.
The team (the whole show, for that matter) never seems to care or worry about the collateral damage caused by taking down the "evil" companies. Small-time investors, pension funds, employees, other companies who rely on the target... none of them are shown getting hurt. This is quite notable in "The Low, Low Prices Job", in which they state that the employees laid off when the WalmartExpy closes all found jobs at smaller shops instead though those smaller shops that pay better also have fewer total workers.
...some people went "boo hoo, what about the people who worked at that company?" But what they seem to be missing is that the company was overvalued based on Saul's original lie — he'd stolen another company's plans and had seized market dominance based on that lie. At that point, everyone else in the market was being cheated by this lie. His competitor's stocks were undervalued, the investors who held those stocks being cheated ... etc etc. All they did, really was create a perfectly legitimate market correction.
Anvilicious: "The Future Job" spends ten whole minutes (a quarter of an episode!) dedicated to explaining how a phony psychic's "cold read" con works — how he reads tiny facial indicators and makes good guesses to create an illusion of psychic knowledge. Word of God says that episode was written to disprove psychics because an EP's family member was about to give money to one.
Author Appeal: The tie-in novel The Con Job, by Matt Forbeck, makes it very obvious that the author is a fan of comic books. Not only is it set at San Diego Comic-Con, as well as making the usual alias shout-outs, but Eliot fights both with foam swords against Cha0s and (separately) wearing Stormtrooper armor (while Parker wears a Slave Leia outfit, no less). On top of that, there are considerable passages dedicated to The Hero Initiative, a real-life charity for retired comic-book creators, one of which features Stan freakin' Lee. We appreciate your devotion, Matt, but there's such a thing as too far...
For those who dont like Sterling, seeing Elliot deliver him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown at the beginning of "The Zanzibar Marketplace Job" before hearing his pitch when he tried to enlist the team's help. Since Sterling never loses, this is the closest we ever get to seeing the team dish out anything worse than mild embarrassment at him.
The show's premise is rich, corrupt people who use their wealth and power to prey on the poor and vulnerable. Seeing them get their comeuppance at the end of every episode will feel very satisfying.
"The Inside Job": Dr. Anne Hannity wanted to kill off the world's wheat market with a super-plague, willing to starve the whole planet, so that her own plague-resistant super-wheat would make her and, by extension, her company money. She also threatens Archie Leach's family to make him help her, and tries to kill the Leverage team when they find her out, asking them how they would like to be killed ("Mister Voorhees is flexible.") On a show where most villains are interested in stealing patents and building strip malls she, and her Dragon, cold-blooded Security Chief Voorhees, really stand out.
"The Double Blind Job": Darren Hoffman is the new CEO of a drug company. He plans on increasing profit by releasing a drug known as HT-1 under the new name Vioplex. HT-1 is known to cause things like liver failure and death in many of the drug trial participants, so Hoffman added some chemical delays to Vioplex, which will result in people dying in months maybe years after taking it rather than weeks. He kills one doctor whom he couldn't bribe to keep quiet about the drugs being the same and wiped the records of a group of people who also died from HT-1 from the internet. When confronted by Sophie, under the guise of an FDA agent, about the seriousness of the fines assessed for bad drugs, Hoffman laughs it off as those fines are typically around 15% of the drug's profit yield.
In "The Rundown Job," Hardison gives an SOS signal as "long-long-long short-short-short" - which in actual Morse code would read "OS." While an argument could be made that since the signal is looped and he was in a rush, Hardison entered two characters instead of three as a quick-and-dirty shortcut which while not technically correct would still get the job done, but there's no excuse for starting with the long signals ("O") instead of the short ones ("S").
In "The Top Hat Job", the contents of a food company's patent portfolio is treated as an immensely valuable secret, the revealing of which would cost the company billions. But one of the requirements of patent law is that, in order to obtain a patent, the process involved must be published and filed with the Patent Office as a public record.
Word of God states that they made a deliberate choice to use the wrong but commonly misused term "patents" instead of the correct but barely known "trade secrets", for reasons of time and clarity. No network is going to sacrifice 5 minutes of commercial time, so a show can run 5 minutes longer, in order to educate the viewers on the correct technical terminology that is not actually required to understand the plot.
In "The Tap-Out Job", the GPS map shown at the end is filled with roads and an entire town that don't exist in Nebraska, and from the landmarks that are accurate, the mark is pretty clearly headed for Kansas.
They also appear to believe Lincoln, Nebraska is a one-horse hick town, as opposed to a small city that is home to both the state government and flagship state university. Then there's the locals' southern accents, despite Nebraska's midwestern speech being the most neutral organically occuring American accent.
Creator's Pet: Sterling never loses, something the creators admitted to have always planned. While this adds to his popularity for some fans, it can be constantly infuriating to see him remorselessly use the team while willingly cooperating with or covering for Corrupt Corporate Executives on occasion before finding a way to profit doing otherwise.
Patrick Bonanno, a police detective the team tips off when they need someone to arrest the bad guy. He and Nate have a fascinating mutual respect even if they don't see eye to eye. The writers were really surprised at how happy viewers were to see him appear in "The Jailhouse Job."
Chaos is a more straight example in that he largely adopts this as his personal philosophy.
Evil Is Sexy: Parker possibly qualifies; although she isn't truly evil, she is one of the greatest thieves in the world. The pure pleasure she shows when pulling of a job or when surrounded by money also helps this.
Hardison/Parker is canon and very popular in fandom but there is a healthy shipping base for Eliot/Parker as some of their surrogate sibling moments, especially the ones when Eliot is the one who calms Parker down when she's upset and irrational, are profound and emotional enough that they could be read as romantic.
"The D. B. Cooper Job" threw the pairing a bone by having Parker and Eliot play past versions of characters who fell in love via Stockholm Syndrome.
"The Mile-High Job" (set largely on a plane) occurs the week after a plane made a (safe) water landing on the Hudson. Parker, as a stewardess, even makes a joke about a water landing being likely to kill everyone. Funny thing is, the episode was long finished by the time of the accident, and it's entirely within Parker's character to make such a joke. John Rogers, commenting on his blog, says: "We of course didn't write a water landing, because at that point, every water landing had fatalities. Didn't bank on a miracle."
In "The Tap Out Job", the scene where Parker (a white woman) keeps Hardison (a Black man) in a prolonged chokehold while everyone else (all white) ignores him asking her to stop doesn't seem so funny after the high-profile murders of Eric Garner and George Floyd (among others). His gasps of "I cant breathe" are downright chilling with such events in mind.
Throughout the first few seasons, Eliot makes several throwaway comments about himself that are played for laughs — for instance, remarking "I actually hurt people," when the others protest that their crimes never hurt anyone in "The Homecoming Job," or telling Hardison "I'm a bad guy," during their conversation about how every bad guy seems to know at least one stripper in "The 12-Step Job." Then came "The Big Bang Job" and the subsequent revelations about just how dark some of Eliot's past really is. Those offhand comments become rather less funny once you know that Eliot really means them.
In "The Three Days of the Hunter Job", Nate cons Monica Hunter says that a drug named "trimethylxanthine" is the cure to a toxin which has spread into the water. Trimethlyxanthine is actually the name for pure caffeine.
At the beginning of "The Queen's Gambit Job," Sterling mentions how Interpol used a virus to sabotage the Kazakhstan nuclear refinement process by disrupting their centrifuges. This is in fact exactly how the Stuxnet virus was used: to disrupt Iranian nuclear centrifuges.
It becomes harder to watch "The San Lorenzo Job" which is about a loose organization unofficially working for a foreign power tampering with a presidential election through fake news and overruling the actual vote after the 2016 election.
Even harder after Jan 6, 2021 to watch an angry mob, tricked by internet rumors and fake news, storming the capitol building preparing to take those who they deemed political opponents hostage and take control of the government by force. Even though it ended positively in the episode, Nate's strategy of "declaring victory from the outset and sticking to the story" feels like a Moral Event Horizon.
Seeing Detective Bonanno in surgery after nearly getting killed in "The Three Strikes Job" given that his actor Robert Blanche had a rare lung disease that required a double lung transplant in 2018 and died on Jan 3, 2020.
The plot of "The Rundown Job," in which the villain plans to release an even deadlier strain of the Spanish Influenza and kill millions of people, hits a lot closer to home after the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Hardison's comments about the "Butcher of Kiev," after the team goes to Kiev to rescue Maggie in "The Zanzibar Marketplace Job."
Hardison: Have you ever been to Kiev? The Cakemaker of Kiev could whup all our asses! This is the butcher.
Richard Kind plays a corrupt mayor in the season two finale. He would later play a similar recurring role in Gotham. Adding to it, another guest star in the episode is Paul Blackthorne, who at the same time as Kind getting the Gotham role was on another DC show, Arrow.
Sophie's performance in The Sound of Music gets critics rooting for the Nazis. Compare this to the reactions to Carrie Underwood's performance in the NBC live show.
In "The First David Job", Eliot poses as an art expert. In The Librarians 2014 (which was also created by Dean Devlin), Christian Kane plays an art expert.
In "The Future Job", Tara poses as a psychic who supposedly gained her powers after having a tumor removed from her brain. In The Librarians 2014, another Dean Devlin series, Cassandra Cillian gains psychic abilities after having a tumor removed from her brain. note This is somewhat inaccurate, as Cassandra's abilities come from actually having the tumour. It is a major plot point in the show that the cancer is inoperable and will eventually kill her.
In the final episode, Hardison floats the idea of creating a "Leverage International." Fast forward to 2019 and Korea's made its own Leverage TV show.
Hollywood Homely: Peggy is actually a rather attractive girl, particularly in her second appearance. She's treated like a dateless weirdo in that same appearance.
Iron Woobie: It's not evident most of the time, but episodes like "The Big Bang Job" and "The Experimental Job" make it clear that Eliot is carrying around a lot of guilt, hurt, and self-hatred regarding his past.
Parker seems to have a crush on Maggie. Being Parker, she expresses this by, at one point, sniffing her.
In "The Experiment Job", Eliot and Sophie are trying to get info about the mark from Detective Grayson, who is clearly frustrated that her investigation of a murder was quashed by political connections. Eliot tries to turn on the charm to get the info they need, and Grayson indicates to them that the tactic might prove more successful if Sophie were to make the advance instead. Eliot takes it in stride, and Sophie, for her part, seems flattered.
Several episodes attempt to make it look like a member of the crew has been killed, but considering that it's a fairly idealistic show about a team of con artists, most viewers can likely guess that Eliot being shot to death in "The Beantown Bailout Job," or Sophie being gunned down shielding Vittori in "The San Lorenzo Job," is all just part of the con.
There are two instances which did get people at the time. Sophie apparently being killed by Chaos's bomb in "The Two Live Crew Job" occurred at a time when it was openly acknowledged that Gina Bellman's pregnancy would force her to leave the show for at least a while, and they were very secretive about how that would be accomplished, leaving the character's ultimate fate in doubt. And all bets are off in "The Long Goodbye Job," given that it's the final episode of the series.
Love to Hate: Sterling was designed to channel this. Colin "Chaos" Mason may be another example. Unlike Sterling he has no redeeming features whatsoever, and is a treacherous slippery little weasel, yet he's such an over the top example of a Laughably EvilSmug Snake that it's hard not to find him very entertaining.
Narm: Eliot's "Matrix Moment" towards the end of "The Big Bang Job" is either this or a Moment of Awesome.
To elaborate - Eliot slides on his knees across a floor coated in industrial lubricant, dodging bullets despite the fact that he's moving relatively slowly and in a straight line through crossfire from like fifteen guys who are all trying to kill him. Well, maybe dodging isn't the word - he simply leans backward as if he were in a limbo contest and everyone shooting is polite enough to aim right above where his body is. And evidently Eliot can see bullets as they move through the air. There's literally no plausible explanation for this but Eliot being the One.
"The Morning After Job" has Eliot telling Hardison to turn out the lights. But he says it like "Hardison. Dark." Which is extremely funny because it sounds like caveman speak for calling Hardison black.
During the commentaries, the producers keep stopping the narrative to repeat their belief that "Nate Ford is not a nice man" with maddening frequency even if you agree with them. It can feel like they're trying to make a drinking game out of it for anyone binge-watching the commentaries
The unnervingly realistic portrayal of Hardison being Buried Alive in "The Grave Danger Job".
One-Scene Wonder: Clayne Crawford as Mr. Quinn in "The First David Job." Shows up out of nowhere looking like nothing in particular, turns out to be the first fighter in the series up to that point to actually give Eliot a serious challenge, and then disappears from the show. It's been noted that this is exactly how Eliot himself probably appears to your average Mook. He's eventually brought back for a second appearance in season 4's "The Last Dam Job."
Hardison: "It's cute how you still believe in privacy."
Also played with in-universe with the paranoia wall in "The Three Days Of The Hunter Job." Parker's not sure if all the conspiracy theories are fake or not, and Hardison and Eliot don't help.
Parker: Eliot, these conspiracies aren't real, right? Eliot: What do you mean? Parker: Like that one over there that says all the major wars of the past fifty years were ordered by members of the council. Eliot: (suddenly on edge) Parker, I'm not at liberty to discuss that with you. (Walks away, looking at her suspiciously) Parker: Wh- Well, you're not a member of the council, are you? Eliot. (To Nate) Is he? (Nate mumbles and leaves) Is he? Nate?
From "The Mile High Job," when Eliot has adopted the guise of an air marshal (to say nothing of how easily he did so in the first place simply by having a badge to flash around):
Sophie: What if there's already an air marshal on the plane? Eliot: There's only one air marshal per every 100 flights. Sophie: Ahhhh... I know that's good for us, but I so wish I didn't know that.
Poor Man's Substitute: Subverted. They wanted someone like Timothy Hutton to play Nate — and ended up with Timothy Hutton.
Real-Life Relative: Aldis (Hardison) Hodge's brother Edwin guest-starred as the client in "The Jailhouse Job". His character isn't related to Hardison, but the scam relies on Hardison being able to act as a Body Double for him.
Replacement Scrappy: Tara came under serious fire by the fanbase for potentially replacing Sophie.
This is a rare case where it's also true In-Universe, as nobody is happy about Sophie being replaced, and Sophie has to convince all of them individually to accept Tara.
Rewatch Bonus: Rewatching season five lets you see just how often Nate and Sophie leave the other three to their own devices, preparing them to run the whole operation after those two retire.
Seasonal Rot: The fifth and final season stretches the premise, and some episodes rely on chance more...though the show remains enjoyable.
This is really more of an issue with the over reliance on rather unrealistic cons involving high technology that approaches Holodeck levels. Starting with the season pilot "The Very Big Bird Job", in which they convince the Villain of the Week that he is really flying the Spruce Goose, and moving on to the Inception-inspired "White Rabbit Job", in which they basically build an actual Holodeck and mess with the mark's subconscious, it feels quite off for a series that otherwise, despite being based on Action Movie physics, sticks to realistic technology.
While not a special effects-heavy show to begin with, and while most effects seen in the show are perfectly acceptable, the car crash in "The Beantown Bailout Job" (where a Cadillac hits a curb, then leaps a dozen feet in the air while doing a 720' flip right over Nathan's head before landing on its hood) is pure 100% distilled Narm.
The plane landing on a bridge in "The Mile-High Job" was also a special effects failure. The bridge seems to be too small for a plane to land on, but the next scene shows that the bridge either got bigger, or the plane shrank to the size of only two lanes. And that's not even pointing out that the turbines of the plane would have blown off any cars traveling on said bridge. Or the fact that the passengers AND pilots would have passed out from such a rapid descend.
The explosion special effect used for the house bomb in The Runway Job is perfectly acceptable. The only problem is that the commercial break that follows holds off exactly one second too long: Just long enough for the flame and smoke to dissipate and reveal a perfectly intact house with perfectly intact windows.
Spiritual Successor: John Rogers has openly acknowledged two, saying Person of Interest is the show's serious younger brother and Revenge is its punky younger sister. He also praised both shows for coming up with a central premise that clearly explained how the heroes found their jobs, which Leverage fans always questioned.
Suspiciously Similar Song: In "The Toy Job," teen pop star Sandy Matteo's first scene is underscored by an instrumental tune akin "Call Me Maybe" (a recent hit at the time of the episode's initial broadcast).
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Mikel and Apollo make a good impression as cool rivals of the team who become more friendly with them, but neither reappears after "The Two Live Crew Job," not even during "The Last Dam Job," when the crew recruits people they can trust who aren't known associates of theirs.
The confessional bit fell into Nate's lap due to luck and a subtle bit of manipulation. In "The Miracle Job," Nate and the priest need a private place to talk and Nate goes in the left side of the confessional box (where the priest is supposed to sit.) After the priest leaves but before Nate does, the assistant enters the box on the right side, leaving Nate an opportunity to pull off the plan.
Hardison and Nate do, in fact, note just how awesome the concept of stealing a law is. Hardison even goes so far as the say that Parker would be a legend for successfully pulling it off.
And then there's the awesome fight we were gonna get between Eliot and his double in "The Two Live Crew Job", which apparently ran out of time via setting up the battle, and so left us with a couple punches and a handcuffing.
The Damien Moreau arc is essentially forgotten between the first few and last few episodes of the season. Season 4's arc is a little better, but still disappears for so long that it feels like their hearts weren't really in it.
The reveal that Jack Latimer is insincere in his overtures towards Nate and is really just a dupe for Dubenich feels a bit disappointing, although it does set up an epic season finale. The premise of Nate and his crew spending a few episodes actually working with Self-Made Man, Ambiguously Evil Latimer in the scenario he'd proposed could have been pretty interesting, and whether they still had him as Dubenich's partner or not, could have been done without sacrificing the epic caper from the "Last Dam Job", with a few minor changes.
Uncanny Valley: The fake-Hardison from the finale definitely falls into this.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The victims of Dalton Rand from "The Future Job". The central premise of the show was laid out in the pilot: "People like that, corporations like that, they have all the money, all the power, and they use it to make people like you go away." Dalton Rand didn't fit that description at all. He wasn't a Corrupt Corporate Executive, he wasn't using money and power to bend the system to his will, he was a loser who was dumping his ill-gotten money into a failing T.V. show. He may have been preying on the grief-stricken, but he didn't promise his victims big returns on their investments or exert any pressure on them. It doesn't help that his readings were so hokey it's hard to believe anyone would spend a dime on them. The Leverage crew's time would have been much better spent helping people who were actually "suffering under an enormous weight."
The Un-Twist: After watching for a while, it doesn't take much work to figure out when what appear to be major problems for the crew are actually part of the con themselves.
What an Idiot!: Anyone on the team who ever took out his or her ear bud for any reason, ever.
Parker. When this girl cries, the entire group rallies for revenge.
And so does the audience.
Arguably, Coswell, the hapless security chief from "The Rashomon Job," qualifies when we get to see what he's actually like.
Widmark, the mark's stepson from "The Fairy Godparents Job". He tells Sophie that no matter how hard he tries, he never gets anything he wants, and when Sophie asks him what he wants, he says that he just wants someone to like him. Did we mention that he's 10? And named Widmark?