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The book series:

  • Harsher in Hindsight: The last book of the series ends with the Swedish Prime minister getting shot. Swedish prime minister Olof Palme was shot and killed by an unknown assassin on 28 February 1986. For obvious reasons the film adaptation with Gösta Ekman from 1992 changed the plot to the point of being an adaptation In Name Only.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Gunvald Larsson at one point lectures a witness about why it is morally wrong to go on holiday in Franco's fascist Spain. A few chapters later Lennart Kollberg goes on vacation to a more politically correct destination - Ceaușescu's Romania.note 
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The TV series:

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Gunvald is generally considered hilarious and the best recurring character in the series. However, some people believe that his acts against criminals are way to cruel, becoming a Hate Sink for some, despite being a clear hero.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Suddenly, out of nowhere, in a dark episode about rape, a character named "Mehmet", who's entire character is a dumb but relatively nice but arrogant guy, appears. Obviously, he gets more serious later on, as he is involved in the rapes, but he helps the police, and is definitely the nicest yet dumbest of the rapists.
    • It's hard to classify Beck's Neighbour's jokes as this, since they are so frequent that they have become a standard for the series. However, one that surely qualifies as this is in Buried Alive, where Gunvald is looking for Erik Stark, who supposedly kidnapped Beck, and suddenly the Neighbour comes and starts rambling about a Finnish cucumber-game.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Lennart Gavling, also known as The Money Man, is a Corrupt Corporate Executive, and the Arch-Enemy of Martin Beck and his colleague Gunvald Larsson. Gavling was evil even when starting his career as a mercenary, as a flashback scene shows him breaking into a drug dealer couple's home and demanding money, at first trying to kill them, only to later kill their newborn baby and blackmailing the mother, later resulting in the father being Driven to Suicide, something Gavling takes full credit for. Gavling first appears in the season one episode "White Nights", where he kills Martin's biological son Micke for not completing a drug deal, something that emotionally breaks Martin for the rest of the series, sad that he never got to talk the latter out of criminal activity. Later appearing in "Guesthouse Pearl", Gavling is now dealing with the equally monstrous, below-mentioned Gorzi, where they smuggle explosive cerium—which can explode at any time—using immigrants. In his final appearence, in "The Money Man", he kills his homosexual police source for knowing too much about his deals, paying the police officer's boyfriend Leonard to write a fake suicide text, only to later kill him when he starts talking to Martin, not even fully knowing if Leonard actually was talking about their deal. To scare Martin, Gavling orders his mercenary to confront Martin's daughter Inger, and then grabs her newborn baby and hides it from her. Near the end, Gavling learns that the mom whose baby he killed may be taking the case to court again, and confronts her in her home, where he uses a syringe to torture her. When the police come right in time, Gavling nearly succeeds in killing Beck himself.
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    • Gorzi, from season 1's "Guesthouse Pearl", is a greedy former human trafficker turned human smuggler who, while not initially heinous, stands out due to his cruel methods and overall disregard for the people he is smuggling. His ways of smuggling consists of him using vulnerable immigrants, taping a bottle of cerium on them, which can explode at anytime, and then placing them on cruisers, not caring if the cerium blows up. In his final scene, he abuses one of the people he was smuggling, and threatens to kill him for no reason.
    • Dag Sjöberg, from the season 2 premiere "The Price of Revenge", is introduced killing two cops after stealing bombs and weapons with his two main associates, the first cop Dag had previously tried to arrest due to "assault", the second one being completely innocent. Both of his associates are shocked by this, debating on whether or not they should really cooperate with him. Dag proceeds to taunt Gunvald Larsson, who was friends with the cop Dag killed. He then threatens to kill his own associate Santos, just because the latter thought Dag went too far. The trio's true goal is to bomb an entire building just so that they can see the explosion. The next time Dag is shown, he is disguised as a policeman and kills three policemen, not caring when the true police come and arrest his two associates Santos and Victor. He manages to run away in the woods, until he sees a farm, where he kills the farmer who lives there and then threatens his wife inside the house, terrorizing her and her child Elin. When the police finally come, he holds the child hostage, and even when the police offer to make him torture Gunvald instead of the child, he takes the offer, only to still keep her. He reminds Gunvald of his friend dying and how he wasn't able to help him, playing Russian roulette with him, terrorizing the little girl, all with childish glee. Once he realizes that he'll get arrested either way, he does the one thing Gunvald didn't want him to do: commit suicide.
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    • Klas Mellgren, from the season 2 finale "The Last Witness", is the security chief for a big company named Landexa, which is trying to find a cure for AIDS. Forcing one of the top scientists of the company, Lillemor "Limo" Franson, to charm Beck and manipulate Beck into giving them information about how the case is going, Klas is behind five murders which included him testing the cure on prostitutes, despite fully knowing that the cure wasn't ready, and then making them blind from the medicine, effectively ruining their lives, He then hires a man named Teddy to brutally disfigure the girls' faces in order to cover the fact that the medicine made them blind, and then kills them. When one of the girls tell the truth, one of Teddy's assassins, Juri, gets hired to kill her and do the same thing to her. When Limo tells Beck about everything, Klas nearly strangles her to death and tells her that it is all her fault. When he realizes he will never make it, he blows up the entire Landexa building using his lighter. While lacking the body count of other villains, Klas makes up for it by being responsible for some of the most gruesome and brutal murders in the entire series.
  • Crazy Awesome: Dag is the very definition of this trope.
    Dag: HERE I AM! SHOOT ME THEN! COME ON, KILL ME! EXECUTE ME!
    Gunvald: Sit down, Dag...
    Dag: Now they had their chance, but they didn't shot... why didn't they shoot?
    Gunvald: Because they want to get us out of here alive...
    Dag: ...no... (insane smile) THEY'RE NOT THE ONES WHO DECIDE!
  • Memetic Mutation: Beck's neighbour who is the comic relief of the episodes.
    • Gunvald's insults are also this.
  • The Woobie:
    • Beck, who never has any time to spend with his friends, family, anything. His entire life consists of him trying to solve cases.
    • Oskar Bergman. His wife is angry at him for not spending enough time with her, at the beginning of his career he was bullied by Gunvald due to how unprofessional he was, he's basically a mini-beck. He becomes tougher later on, though.
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