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A Canadian show made by CTV about a police tactical response team in a nondescript (but clearly Toronto) city. It is co-produced by and also airs on the American network CBS, one of several shows developed as a means of getting around the most recent writers' strike (Canada is outside WGA jurisdiction). The series started in 2008 and is still ongoing.

Flashpoint is a show about an elite group of officers within a Canadian metropolitan police force, call the Strategic Response Unit or SRU. They're called in when the situation escalates beyond the ability of ordinary officers to handle, particularly hostage situations, armed criminals and bomb threats. Unlike a show like SWAT, the show isn't about the glamor and gunplay of the unit, but rather the personalities and conflict-resolution skills involved in running a group that has to deal with the tense situations they confront. Team leader Sergeant Greg Parker, along with veteran officer Ed Lane, lead their team in an attempt to make sure that everyone gets home alive -- officers, victims, and perpetrators.

A show with a remarkable amount of emotional appeal, character development, and complex webs in each episode.


This show features examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Jules, due to Amy Jo Johnson's real-life pregnancy.
  • Action Girl: Jules, later joined by Leah Kerns.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Samtastic
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Invoked by SRU veteran Rangford in "Haunting the Barn," who shows up at the SRU to get an old case file, but ends up barricading himself in the base when his request is refused.
  • Ascended Extra: The role of Kira, SRU's dispatcher, moves slowly from just the Voice with an Internet Connection to a full-fledged character as the first season progresses. In later seasons, Winnie has replaced Kira as the primary dispatcher in similar fashion.
    • Has expanded to include a paramedic and a second dispatcher as minor/recurring characters in the early third season.
  • Asshole Victim:Often used.
    • In "Whatever It Takes", there was a basketball coach who ended up being taken hostage by one of his players. He had verbally abused his team and had them physically assault the weaker and/or less-competent players. He didn't help his case with the SRU team when he continually told them to shoot the player.
    • In "Asking For Flowers", the victim is an abusive husband who also had no problem attempting to kill his wife's sister who was trying to stop him from hurting her sister. He tried to get away with it (like how he could get away with abusing his wife). Unfortunately, for him, the SRU team recorded him audibly choking his wife's sister and commenting on how he was going to kill her.
  • Axes At School: "Perfect Storm".
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Deconstructed in "Backwards Day", where frustrations of not being able to have a baby damages a couples relationship, leading to the husband to cheat on his wife while on a trip when he meets an old flame. Once the woman he cheated with is found to be pregnant, It Got Worse.
    • Inverted in "Collateral Damage", where the death of a baby is the impetus behind the events of the episode.
  • Badass Bookworm: Spike

 Spike: CJV Electronics. CJV was busted a couple of years ago. They were selling pirated operating systems.

Sam: How do you know that?

Spike: I know because I'm a highly-trained officer on the cutting edge of twenty-first century investigation.

Sam: I thought it was because you're a geek.

Ed: He's not a geek, okay? He's a geek with combat skills, that's why the ladies love him.

  • Bald of Awesome: Ed Lane and Greg Parker.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Lewis Young was the first person of the team to die.
  • Break the Cutie: Attempted on Tasha Redford, in the first-season episode "Attention Shoppers", but Jules gets to Tasha before she can jump.
  • Canada, Eh? / City with No Name / No Communities Were Harmed: As The Other Wiki explains, the series' makers intentionally don't identify the show's setting even though it's pretty obvious it's Toronto. It slowly breaks down, with landmarks and uniforms being the most visible signs of relaxation in the premise (the CN Tower features prominently in establishing shots of the city), but the city name is still only rarely mentioned.
  • Catch Phrase: Parker's reminder to "keep the peace" whenever the SRU starts a mission.
    • Also "I have the solution," meaning a clear shot at the aggressor, not a way to solve a problem.
  • Channel Hop: In the United States, Flashpoint will be moving from CBS to ION Television. New episodes will begin airing on October 18, 2011.
  • The Chick: Jules, at least initially. Occasionally lampshaded by Deadpan Snarker Sam, as well as by a brief scene of changing the sign to the womens' washroom (from reading "Jules" to "Women's") after Leah's introduction to the series.
  • Clear My Name:
    • The young man in "Never Kissed A Girl" is wrongly accused of raping and killing his best friend and wants to be cleared on the crime he never committed. Unfortunately, after being denied to have an appeal, he decides that he had nothing else left to lose and stormed the courthouse with a gun, taking a security guard hostage, to find the lawyer who tarnished his name.
    • "Collateral Damage" revolves around a man accused of murdering his infant daughter taking his wife and two doctors hostage. One of the doctor's findings seemed to convince his wife he was responsible, so he wants to get a second opinion so that she'll believe in him again.
  • Cold Sniper: The concept of the series is built around the team trying to avoid falling into the trope.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: In episode "Perfect Storm", the bullied teen had no intention of killing his bullies. He only wanted to pretend that he did kill them, so they would be begging for mercy, so they would be humiliated just as he was earlier.
  • Cowboy Cop:
    • Sam Braddock, at least to start off. Donna as well, during her short run, seems to have retained some "whatever it takes" attitude from her undercover vice days, and frequently expresses frustration with the rules.
    • A cop who tried out for the SRU was brilliant up until his all his answers for how to engage a subject was "shoot the subject ...right?" He wasn't accepted and his life got worse from there.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Remember when the show had a forensic psychologist? For about three-four episodes?
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Alluded to with Sam and his experiences in Afghanistan. He doesn't worry about it too much unless he's forced to think about it, but it gives Ed reason to doubt him in "Element of Surprise":

 Sam: You wanna know what happened in Afghanistan, is that it? I was sniping an enemy compound from 1500 meters. The recce was done, and I was cleared to fire. When we went to do the ID, one of them was my buddy Mac. He shouldn't have been there. I was sniping with a .50 cal. All you had to do was ask.

  • Deadpan Snarker: Sam.
    • "Nice post-incident reflexes, guys."
  • Death Glare: Ed Lane once used this on a cop who was trying to stop him from warning Parker about the investigator interviewing them and appears to have a personal grudge against him.
  • Driven to Suicide: After being foiled by the SRU, a number of antagonists are driven to shoot themselves.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Spike doesn't mention his real first name until the fourth season. It's Michelangelo.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Genre Savvy: Sometimes used by the hostage-takers. In a recent episode, two men were trapped in a room, with the SRU right outside the door and the house surrounded by police. Knowing they would back down if there was a hostage, one of them took the other hostage and was able to escape.
    • This happened again in another episode. The cops know that both men are criminals so one of them shoots his partner in the leg to show that they are not faking and he really is willing to kill his accomplice if the cops don't let him get away.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: In "Backwards Day", the husband did cheat on his wife, after frustrations of not able to have a baby got to both of them. However, he realized his mistake and did genuinely loved his wife more afterwards. However, the woman he cheated with thought differently.
  • Gun Accessories: SRU units use a lot of modified guns, attaching flashlights, red dot sights and more to their weapons. Interestingly, though they attach foregrips to their submachine guns, they tend not to use them, instead using the mag well as a grip.
  • Guy in Real Life: The "Laughing Man" robber is so desperate for an emotional connection that he's fooled by a teenage boy with an altered voice using his sister's name into almost killing the kid's stepfather. The stepfather is likewise confused about why this guy is in love with his five-year old.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Justified. Special Response officers tend to remove their helmets before storming crammed spaces, as they can dangerously impair their vision and movement.
  • Heroic BSOD: Several, particularly:
    • Donna Sabine, Jules' temporary replacement, undergoes one after being forced to shoot and kill a customs official while safeguarding a serial killer. Overlaps with a Shower of Angst.
      • She gets one again when a crime family who she had helped take down years before starts hunting down the spouses/fiances/significant others of her and her old squad. Her new husband, to whom she was married at the start of the same episode, is shot and wounded in the rampage. Donna ultimately comes a hairsbreadth from gunning down her ex-colleague, who turned out to have been responsible via blackmail, before the SRU team talk her down.
    • Spike, when fellow team member and friend Lewis Young dies after stepping on a land mine.
      • By extension, everyone on the team breaks down at this point. Ed and Greg are very good at hiding it, but watch Ed's jaw, and watch how Greg comforts Spike. Spike is just the closest and most visible.
    • Sam also, in the second season finale, when a lone deranged ex-soldier inside the Godwin Coliseum (AKA Maple Leaf Gardens), with whom Sam had started to make a connection over their ex-military backgrounds, is shot and killed (likely by his own design) while holding Spike at gunpoint. Sam subsequently states his desire to leave the team, but Ed and Greg both recommend a support group instead, stating that it's ["Shell Shocked Veteran|probably overdue."]
    • Given that SRU is a life-saving organization, not a life-taking organization (just like real SWAT-like teams), any time a member of the team has to take a kill shot, it affects them badly. This includes Ed, the almost-gruff veteran, who, during the pilot episode, after killing the hostage-taker, has to be talked down and visibly has difficulty for the rest of the season.
  • Hostage Situation: And how! [1]
  • Human Shield: See above.
  • How We Got Here / In Medias Res: Most episodes, start like this, showing the "flashpoint" of whatever situation the SRU is called in to deal with, rewinding to show how they got there, and then resolving the conflict. Started being phased out in Season 3, before it got more common again in Season 4.
  • I Call It Vera: Spike (the team's demolition's expert) and "Babycakes," his anti-bomb robot.
  • I Never Got Any Letters: In a season four episode, the estranged mother and grandmother of a hostage discover that they have both been writing letters to each other for years, which were intercepted by the hostage's grandfather.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Happens quite often.
    • In "Attention Shoppers", Jules talks down Tasha before she could jump.
    • In "Whatever It Takes", Parker manages to convince the basketball player that life isn't all about sports and that the verbal and physical abuse his Jerkass coach did to him and his team was wrong before he tried to jump off the roof of his school.
    • In "Collateral Damage", a flash bomb is used to make Frank flinch, giving Ed time to tackle him and knock the gun away.
  • In the Blood: Jules' father was a cop.
  • It's Personal: The investigator in "Acceptable Risk" made the interrogation on the team so much more harder and demanding because she had a personal grudge on Parker. Her partner was killed in action while in Parker's team and she wanted to get Parker arrested for poor judgement.
    • It didn't start out that way for a security guard who set up a robbery in order to be let back into the police force, but then the team responds and it's revealed he was rejected from the SRU by Ed, causing his whole life to spiral out of control and he's been blaming Ed for every minute of it. And he's just as skilled and plenty trigger happy...
  • Jerk Jock: "Perfect Storm" deals with a group of these bullying a classmate and said classmate snapping and bringing a gun to school.
    • "Whatever It Takes" plays with this trope as well, ultimately being traced back to the team's coach.
  • Mission Control: The SRU's mobile command van.
    • Considering the characters, Spike most often has mission control. Oftentimes he is supported by Parker, or replaced by Jules if he is needed in the field.
  • Mood Whiplash: After Ed was able to reconcile with his estranged brother and the team was able to crack down on a third of the city's gun supply, all is happy, right? As the episode ends, Ed is walking in an empty house after his wife and son left to stay at her mother's house and Parker cautioning Ed that things might stay that way.
  • New Meat: Sam.
    • Later, Leah.
    • And now Raf has taken over this role in Season 4.
  • One of Our Own: In many real-life cases, hostage-takers won't hesitate to use police as the Human Shield.
    • In one case, Ed went out of his way to involve himself in a situation, even though he was off-duty at the time, in an attempt to get the hostage-taker to let the civilian hostage go.
  • Outlaw Couple: "Last Dance". Greg even refers to the fugitive couple as 'Bonnie and Clyde'.
  • Overprotective Dad: In "Jumping At Shadows", the father is shown to be Properly Paranoid when his daughter was a witness to a crime and was placed under witness protection, yet the people after her still managed to find her.
  • Papa Wolf: Once Ed Lane had enough suspicion that an investigator was specifically targeting Parker in her investigations about the team, he immediately went to warn Parker, breaking rules to get to him, even death-glaring a cop who tried to stop him.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite having a vendetta against Ed Lane and coldly shooting down a police officer who happened to be there, the Russian sniper in "Between Heartbeats" owns a cat and makes sure to feed it before he leaves. He also doesn't choose to go the route of Revenge by Proxy when he was easily able to find Lane's son.
    • In "The Good Citizen", when the Vigilante Man was going after drug dealers and holding one of the main drug lords hostage, the drug lord's brother (also a drug lord himself) is offering money and anything, just as long as the vigilante lets his brother go.
  • Police Are Useless: Subverted and averted by the SRU team. But also played straight in certain cases, like in "Jumping At Shadows" where the team finds out the guys after a little girl found her house (which was under Witness Protection) because they bribed a police officer.
    • In "Perfect Storm", one of the targets of the bullied kid is the son of a cop. When the cop thinks that the shooter killed his son, he hunts the kid and guns him down as the situation is winding down. Parker then delivers an epic verbal beatdown, describing exactly how the cop failed in his duty.
  • Pregnant Hostage
  • Precision F-Strike / This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: Parker, after a tense moment where it looked like the hostage-taker might shoot Ed. Fortunately, the team came in just in time and Ed got to safety. His exact words were "son of a bitch", with emphasis via smacking the table.
  • Put on a Bus: Leah at the beginning of Season 3, Wordy a couple of episodes into Season 4.
    • Subverted in Wordy's case, because although the character was written out of the squad due to early-stage Parkinson's Disease, he still shows up whenever the SRU team deals with his new department, or when they all get together for a social event in the fourth season finale.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Invoked for Amy Jo Johnson's pregnancy when her character, Jules, is caught in the line of fire.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Wordy has no problem watching girl movies like "Lady in Waiting", because his wife and his daughters watch it all the time and he wants to take every opportunity he can to get to understand them better.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Several cases:
    • Quite likely the fate of Irina, the Russian nanny in "The Fortress," who lets hey boyfriend and his gang into the house to rob her employers, then has a change of heart when the kids come early. After her boyfriend takes the kids hostage and threatens to kill them, she tries to fight him off, but he shoots her in the chest. We last see her being wheeled out of the house by paramedics.
    • A later episode has two men working together to kidnap a girl to get her wealthy, estranged, and dementia affected grandmother to pay a ransom, but the mother intervenes and is taken too. The leader orders the other to take the mother and kill her, but he fires into the ground and sets her free. Later, he frees the teenager rather than use her as a hostage, and is killed for his efforts.
  • Red Herring: Season 3 episode 2, "Severed Ties", opens with someone taking pictures of young children at a playground shortly before one of them is kidnapped, and the photographer is quickly identified as a recently paroled sex offender. It's just a coincidence, and one of those pictures helps identify the real kidnapper.
  • Revenge by Proxy: In "Acceptable Risk", the killer in question was targeting people who she felt betrayed her when she filed a lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company that made a drug that killed her husband, but accepted money from the company to hush up. The killer would then cross the Moral Event Horizon by shooting an innocent woman who was shielding her husband. The team shot her before she could.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The best friend of a boy who was killed by a cop hijacked an entire activist group of rioters in order to get revenge, delivering the killer to her friend's grieving father.
    • The wife of the head of a mob family attacks the family members of the under cover cops who betrayed them with the accidental help of team's leader, who drunkenly revealed their names to a guy with a friendly attitude and a "pawn-shop cop ring".
  • Sacrificial Lion / Land Mine Goes Click: Lewis Young at the start of the back half of the second season. After stepping on a landmine and keeping his foot held down firmly as the rest of the team evacuates a college campus around him and tries every angle possible to save him, he calls his family to say goodbye and sacrifices himself by deliberately lifting his foot off of the trigger. Cue team-wide Heroic BSOD.
  • Screwed by the Network: CBS broadcasted the show in the US but never kept seasons together, instead airing parts at a time and without pause between season. Basically, it was treated as summer filler. ION now has American rights to air the episodes after "Shockwaves," so perhaps they'll air it more evenly.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections: Councilman Malone's father is revealed to have done this in "Coming To You Live", though for reasons that are not unsympathetic.
  • Shout-Out: One of the robber's signs of perpetrating a robbery in the 4th season resembles the one used by the Laughing Man.
  • So Proud of You: Parker says to his team in "Acceptable Targets", after a particularly grueling and difficult mission.
  • Suicide by Cop: Multiple hostage-takers have or may have gone out by this method, with at least one doing so to secure his wife's financial future via the insurance payout after his death. If the team is able to identify that a subject is attempting Suicide by Cop and doesn't otherwise pose a danger, however, they will not shoot. Unfortunately, the circumstances rarely allow for that (though it has happened at least twice).
  • The Profiler: Doctor Luria, until she was removed from the series. Parker also fulfills this trope with regularity, although pretty much any SRU member can contribute something to a profile.
    • Jules seems to be shifting more towards this as the series progresses.
  • The Squad: But of course.
  • Taking You with Me: "The Farm": Guy starts a drug rehab facility and is quite normal until one of his patients goes back into the world, relapses, and dies; after that no one leaves (fortunately no one wants to). When he discovers he's dying of cancer he decides the best way to keep his patients safe from the scary world is to kill them (unusually, for a cult story, without their permission).
  • Title Drop: Never mentioned by the characters, but one of the show's producers, Anne Marie La Traverse, said that she hoped the show would take viewers to their "own personal flash point."
  • Traumatic Haircut: Tasha Redford. (See Break the Cutie above.)
  • True Companions: The whole SRU see each other like family.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In the pilot episode, Ed, in full police gear and carrying a sniper rifle, steps into a crowded elevator and casually asks someone to push the 10th floor button. The occupants look surprised, then amused.
  • UST: Between Sam and Jules so, so much. First they date. Then they break up. And despite remaining Just Friends, there is still plenty of UST between them.
    • As of the beginning of the fourth season they back are together. However, since the team is on probation, if they are caught, Sgt. Parker will lose his job along with them.
  • Vigilante Man: "The Good Citizen" deals with a man gunning down drug dealers because his brother had died because of a drug overdose from those people.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: This happens often.
    • In "First in Line", the father of a girl in need of a heart transplant who had been pushed further down the list when she should have been first grabbed an security guard's gun so his daughter could get the heart transplant.
    • A father who had just won custody rights for his children found out his children were missing from school. Hence him coming to his ex-wife's lawyer and threatening him with a gun.
    • A sister of an abused woman wanted to stop the husband from hurting her sister again.
    • A widow who lost her husband to a rare drug reaction and losing support of people who were bribed by the pharmaceutical company to keep it quiet promptly goes to a company's party and began shooting those people.
    • If you haven't figured it out yet, except in very rare cases, the people who SRU have to deal with are rarely clear-cut villains. Which is why the job is so hard on the members of the team.
    • A drug rehabilitation "expert" who honestly wanted to keep his patients safe from the outside world by killing them because he was dying of cancer and he was certain they couldn't survive without him. Ironically if he'd just told them what was up they'd probably have gone along with it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Rarely do we see the effects of the incident on the people involved, unless those people are the SRU.
    • The Russian nanny in "The Fortress" is taken off the scene by paramedics, but we never hear if she lives or dies.
    • The cop that shoots a suspect in "Perfect Storm" is verbally berated by Parker, and then we never hear anything else.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: On his first mission with the SRU, Sam lets a paramedic with a live heart go alone into a live and dangerous hostage situation.
    • Of course, one also wonders why some regular cops didn't go with the medic.
    • Parker also gets one from Lane after exposing himself to an unnecessary level of risk while negotiating with an armed hostage-taker.
    • Parker gets another one from Jules after being kidnapped in 'You Think You Know Someone'.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him: Justified. It is the team's job to ensure that each standoff ends with minimal-to-no casualties, which includes the life of the hostage taker. Lethal force is used only as a last resort. This is what differentiates SRU from SWAT teams: SWAT is the "takedown" team, leaving negotiation, profiling and other aspects to other groups, while SRU is fully integrated.
    • Deconstructed in "Acceptable Risk", when the investigator interrogating the team demanded to know why Parker didn't give the command to shoot the target when he had the chance. Parker, being the skilled crisis negotiator that he is, wanted to give the target a chance to surrender and prevent any further casualties.
    • In the episode "Haunting The Barn", Ed and Parker point out Daniel Rangford's contributions to SRU, pointing out that his efforts to educate on hostage negotiation and psychology changed the team from "straight SWAT" to SRU, meaning they don't just shoot 'em, but rather try to talk down suspects and save lives. This is reflected in their name: They are the Strategic Response Unit, taking total control of a situation, rather than just a strictly tactical approach.

Notes

  1. But not as many as you'd think: the show is just as much about talking violent offenders down as it is about saving people.
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