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A small town in Kansas struggles to survive After the End once several major US cities are destroyed in terrorist attacks with nuclear bombs. Features a sprawling cast of townsfolk from the mayor on down, and centers on the Green family. This show is remarkable for being on the hard end of Mohs Scale of Sci Fi Hardness, featuring such things as radiation poisoning, the effects on an EMP and the value of such common things as salt. Not quite as fatalistic as that other nuclear-war-surviving Kansas town, from The Day After, which early episodes were compared with.
Anyone Can Die and they stay dead. Also notable is the Heroic Bystander approach to heroism, as a major theme is the common man having to choose to do the right thing or give in to baser urges or becoming Disaster Scavengers. Other major themes involve family and heredity, redemption, and the struggle to preserve American values like democracy. Similar to Battlestar Galactica drawing tension and avoiding the Inferred Holocaust by dealing with issues like shortages in food, electricity and the people who want to steal from those who have these.
The first season focuses on the mystery behind the bombing, represented by Robert Hawkins, a mysterious newcomer to the town who knows more than he should, and also on the personal relationships, issues and problems implicit in surviving. The second season focuses on the towns folk's attempt to rebuild Jericho while under the thumb of the corrupt new federal government and powerful corporate interests.
The show was canceled, but brought back by a fan campaign. A second season was shown in 2008, detailing the rise of an oppressive new government based in Cheyenne, Wyoming, but the show was again canceled due to low ratings. (Although the last episode tied up most of the immediately-dangling plot-threads.) There's been talk of a feature film, and plans for a 'Season 3' comic series.
- The Alcoholic: Dr. Kenchy.
- Anyone Can Die - And we mean anyone.
- Absentee Actor - Several townsfolk would be absent in some episodes, even from their own businesses or homes.
- After the End - The end is actually the end of the United States. The rest of the world is pretty much intact, except maybe for North Korea and Iran.
- The Alleged Car: Heather's pickup.
- Backstory - Most of the characters have a backstory which is never really expanded upon. For example, Johnston and Gail's relationship started as an affair, Jake 'got involved with the wrong people' and ended up shipping things in Iraq for J&R, and Stanley raised Bonny after their parents died. Hawkins' back story is the only one which directly affects the plot, all the others merely affect a few character's decisions and choices (as they should).
- Badass - Most notably Hawkins, but Jake too. Teenagers Allison, Dale and Bonnie each got one incident that was enough to earn them badass status for a long time.
- Badass Grandpa - Johnston Green.
- Big Brother Instinct: Stanley, all the way. Also an interesting inversion with Eric (older brother, not a bad guy but mostly selfish and has no protective instinct) and Jake (younger brother, fiercely protective of all his friends). Roger toward his fellow refugees.
- Big Damn Heroes - This show lives and breathes this trope, most notably the Texas Air National Guard saving Jake Green and Robert Hawkins from a pair of AS Air Force interceptors in the final episode.
- Bilingual Bonus - the Morse code at the start of each episode gives a hint/spoiler for the episode.
- Blindfolded Trip - Mrs. Green going to see Jake.
- Bottomless Magazines - Averted, somewhat rare for a post-apocalyptic setting, by giving at least some attention to the scarcity of ammunition.
- Break the Cutie: Poor Stanley.
- Bus Full of Innocents - The first episode had Jake rescue a school bus full of kids. The second has him using a different school bus to ferry hospital patients to a mine being used as an improvised fallout shelter.
- Calling the Old Man Out - Emily and her delinquent father.
- Chekhov's Gun - The tank. Heavily lampshaded.
Jake: So what are we going to do now?
Johnston: We'll keep this from the town. No need to get them worked up. Other than that I guess...just keep on living.
Jake: No, I mean what are we going to do about the tank?
Johnston: Oh, that. Stick it in our barn. You never know when a tank will come in handy.
- Chekhov's Skill - Robert spends time teaching Allison how to shoot for self defense. Not only does the effort help shore up years of Parental Abandonment, but it even saves his life.
- Cosy Catastrophe - The town more often than not pulls through together, but they still struggle to avoid become a Scavenger World.
- Could Say It, But...: Jake does a subtle one in season 2. "Dale, as sheriff it's my job to tell you that even though the vaccines are on a J&R transport out to be destroyed in Cheyenne, it'd be a big mistake to hijack that truck...the only way someone could do it would be to remove the contents of the boxes without being detected and leave the barcoded containers in the truck. You know what I'm saying?" The next time we see Dale, he's returning triumphantly with the vaccines.
- Defrosting Ice Queen - Mimi
- Depopulation Bomb - 20+ US cities are outright nuked off the map. New York is unexploded, not to say "intact".
- Developing Doomed Characters
- Disaster Democracy
- Disaster Scavengers - Everyone, by default, is at least a little of a scavenger. Some reaching truly depraved levels of opportunism.
- Divided States of America - In season 1, there are six federal governments. By season 2, there are only two contenders: the Allied States of America, of which Jericho is geographically a part, and what's left of the original United States government.
- Texas is still an independent nation, but the government in San Antonio doesn't claim to be a successor government of the old United States like the other two do.
- Due to the Dead: The soldiers allow Stanley time to give his sister a proper burial before they arrest him.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Bonnie going down shooting.
- The End of the Beginning: In the last episode...
Chavez: Now comes the main event.
Jake: The next American Civil War.
- Eternally Pearly-White Teeth - You would think that eventually the supplies of toothpaste and toothbrushes would reduce people's tooth care. You'd think.
- Evil Counterpart: New Bern to Jericho. Early on, Grey is something of this to Johnston, then Grey becomes mayor and Constantino becomes his Evil Counterpart.
- Fallen Princess - Skylar
- Fallen States of America: The US is no longer the superpower it once was after the bombs fell.
- Fake American - Robert Hawkins is Sol.
- Farm Boy - Stanley
- Fish Out of Water: Big city girl Mimi stuck in small town Jericho.
- Grey and Gray Morality: "Dad, is he a bad man or a good man?" "There's no such thing."
- Happily Married: Johnston and Gail Green
- Happy Flashback
- Hero Antagonist: Beck
- Heroic Bystander - A major focus of the series.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted in the last episode when Robert tries to pull one off, but Jake refuses to let him, and by that point he's to weak from being shot to resist being pulled to safety.
- Hidden Elf Village - Jericho's inhabitants very much want to make their town a Hidden Elf Village out of fear of outside threats like Ravenwood.
- Infant Immortality: Averted, if unborn children count.
- Insignia Rip Off Ritual
- Inspector Javert - Beck became this after the killing of Goetz.
- Ironic Echo: "I think this will go a lot smoother if you just sat there and listened to what I have to say".
- It's All About Me: Emily in spades. In early series one, she constantly complains that her fiance's dead. Thousands of Americans are slowly dying from radiation poisoning and society is crumbling due to the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse, yet everything clearly should be about her, right?
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique - Subverted
- Karma Houdini - The bandits in "Heart of Winter".
- La Résistance - Develops in New Bern and Jericho over the course of season 2.
- Law Enforcement, Inc. s- Ravenwood in season 2.
- A Lighter Shade of Gray: Jericho tends to be this in any conflict.
- Men Don't Cry: Averted. Hard. Sometimes Manly Tears and sometimes more realistic puffy-eyed gut-wrenching sobbing. Played straight with Robert, though, who probably had his tear ducts surgically removed along with most of his soul.
- Misplaced Vegetation -- the number of trees in background is improbable for western Kansas, which is a semi-arid steppe.
- Morality Pet - Heather to Major Beck in season 2.
- The Mountains of Illinois -- while the pilot was filmed in the Canadian prairie and thus looks flat and treeless enough to be Kansas, much of the show was filmed in southern California, and thus has mountains.
- Mr. Fixit - Heather and, to an extent, Jake.
- No Theme Tune - Only a morse code beeping.
- The morse code acts much like a Bilingual Bonus, as it offers clues beforehand about events in that episode
- Oh Crap: Twice in the pilot, the townspeople seeing a mushroom cloud and when Dale implied there might have been another explosion in Atlanta.
- One Nation Under Copyright - The Allied States of America is riddled with former employees of Jennings & Rall, from the new President on down. The company becomes integral and inseperable to the day-to-day operation of the government.
- Papa Wolf: Robert and Johnston.
- Product Placement: Sprint maintained service through 20 or more American cities being nuked and the resulting remnants dissolving into squabbling factions. (Sprint was a major sponsor of the show.)
- Surprising how ubiquitous Motorola communications devices are as well.
- Truth in Television - Motorola, while vastly outsold by larger cell phone providers, actually leads the industry in non-cell phone communication devices such as walkie-talkies.
- Surprising how ubiquitous Motorola communications devices are as well.
- Private Military Contractors - Ravenwood
- Put on a Bus (Subverted) - Heather goes to New Bern to help design the wind turbines to help power the town. Afterwards she's reported dead shot trying to sabotage the mortar machine but is later seen again rescued by the army.
- Reality Ensues- Happens in "Termination for Cause" when Jake and Russell were arguing what to do with Goetz, then Stanley drove up and shot Goetz in the head for killing Bonnie
- Reasonable Authority Figure - Mayor Johnston Green, later Major Beck.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni - Jake Green and Robert Hawkins.
- Returning War Vet - Jake, whose skills from the army make him an effective defender of the town, though it's stated he's not quite as capable as Robert Hawkins
- Jake wasn't actually in the army, he was working for a "private contractor" (Jennings and Rall), but did experience the war through that. Since Hawkins was thoroughly trained for what he does, he is much more able to navigate the situations they face than Jake, who reacts emotionally to what happens more often than not.
- Scary Black Man: Robert. Robert. Robert. He is actually the only black man in the show (though it is set in rural Kansas), and even by the time we know he's a good guy, he's still a scary-ass man.
- Shout-Out - The producers evidently read Alas, Babylon. At one point, Dale can't sell some metallic trinkets because there's a fear of irradiated metal (which is identical to a plot in Alas, Babylon). Hawkins also suggests that Jericho is located away from projected fallout clouds and has access to useful resources, much like Fort Repose.
- Slow Electricity - We get the city power sequential failure sequence at The End of the World as We Know It.
- Stealing From the Till - Goetz.
- Taking Over the Town - This is what the Ravenwood mercenaries do to a town they invade. They take all the supplies and shoot anyone who opposes them. Since the towns are isolated from the outside world, they do not have to worry anyone coming to help the townpeople. The people of Jericho try to preempt this by blowing the bridge into town themselves before Ravenwood crosses it.
- Those Two Guys -- Jimmy and Bill.
- Took a Level In Badass - Everyone. Johnston Green, a former US Army Ranger, trains most of the citizenry and organises them into an armed force to defend the town. The "Jericho Rangers" spend the next fifteen episodes kicking all kinds of ass.
- Torture Always Works - Subverted and lampshaded by Hawkins, who says that the fear of torture is more effective, and that real torture only works in the movies.
- Also averted at other points when it proves completely ineffective against Eric, Jake, and others.
- Two Lines, No Waiting - Robert Hawkins secret involvement in Project Red Bell seemed a completely separate story from the the whole survival of Jericho story arcs. The only link that brings the two stories together is Jake finding and keeping Hawkins' secret.
- Uncanceled, and then canceled again...but at least the writers were able to Wrap It Up.
- Again, now that it's comic series has started being published.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: After Stanley kills Goetz.
- Western Terrorists
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?? - The citizens were able to see the mushroom cloud from the bomb that hit Denver. It was suggested that Oakley, Kansas, was Jericho's stand in. However, Oakley is about 70 miles east of the Colorado state line. It's doubtful you could see the Denver mushroom cloud even if you were standing on the state line at the moment it detonated. You still have to drive well into Colorado before you see the mountains.
- The mountains can't be the Rockies, otherwise the mushroom cloud would be in front of them rather than behind. They must be a closer, fictional mountain range near Jericho. In the third episode, Stanley says that he saw a line tanks driving "over the ridge".
- In the episode Four Horsemen, one of the pilots on the flight recorder estimates that the mushroom clouds are 16 kilometers in height, which would be visible on the horizon from parts of western Kansas. Probably not with the fictional mountain range obscuring them, though.
- A map of Jericho that was posted on the CBS website showed I-70 and state routes 40 and 83 intersecting in Jericho. If this map is canon, then Oakley is Jericho's real-life counterpart. In real-life Oakley, I-70, U.S. 40 and U.S. 83 intersect, but in different ways than the map indicates. For example, the "official" map of Jericho shows I-70 going through town. At Oakley, I-70 skirts the town to the north and east, only coming within 3 1/2 miles at its closest point. In fact, Oakley is snug in the northeast corner of Logan County, within three miles of Gove County to the east and spilling over into Thomas County on the north. The way I-70 is routed, it never even enters Logan County, much less Oakley itself.
- Wrench Wench - Heather.