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Stringer Bell becomes a bobby.
Idris Elba returns to his native United Kingdom to play the titular role in a six-part BBC drama, broadcast from 4 May 2010. He plays DCI John Luther, a police officer working for the fictional Serious Crime Unit. Like many a fictional bobby, he has marital problems. Well, you would if you were married to Suzie from Torchwood.
It has been confirmed that the show will be returning for a third series.
Not to be confused with Disney's Zeke and Luther, nor with the 2003 film Luther (about Martin Luther.)
This series contains examples of:
- Affably Evil: Alice Morgan to a tee. After episode one she thinks she and Luther are friends. Of course, in episode one she murdered her parents and dog and threatened to shove a hairpin in Zoe's ear, traumatizing her. But in episode two she gives Luther advice about his wife and goes for a coffee with him.
- Anyone Can Die: Luther unfortunately has only a fifty percent success rate in saving the victim. And that's on a good day. Women get bled dry or gutted. Men get shot and wrapped in plastic. Towards the end of the first series, it's shown not even main characters are safe, as Zoe Luther and Ian Reed get Killed Off for Real.
- Batman Gambit: Luther's favourite tactic. His greatest asset is probably his ability to quickly grasp the psychology of the criminal du jour that he's facing.
- Benevolent Boss: DSU Rose Teller seems to one of these. Willing to play politics to allow Luther to do his job. Subverted when Luther is accused of murdering his own wife - she's completely willing to let him die, since this means a bigger chance for her to keep her job.
- Berserk Button: Luther, anytime someone threatens Zoe. When Zoe is murdered by Reed, Alice warns Luther that his temper is a weakness and Reed will use this to provoke Luther into attacking him (so he can be shot by SO19 snipers). Luther says it won't happen, but it nearly does anyway.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Martin Schenk is perfectly polite and always speaks in a quiet, gentle voice, bordering on Warrior Poet with his carefully used figures of speech. But when he's interrogating someone, you don't want to be in the same room.
- Big No: Ian Reed gives one after he accidentally shoots Zoe during a Gun Struggle.
- Bi the Way: Alice casually mentions that she wouldn't mind female "companionship" since she's in a woman's mental hospital but all of her options are psychotic.
- Black and Gray Morality: One of the central focuses of the show. In series 2 Luther intimidates a witness and keeps him from testifying against Toby, to save Jenny even though he wasn't left with many choices.
- The Book Cipher: In the Season 2 finale, the numbers in a notebook are revealed to be this. The book they use to decipher is the Bible that Luther finds at the hotel room of the culprit.
- Brand X: One episode has a generic knockoff coffee shop that's pretty clearly supposed to be Starbuck's.
- British Brevity: As per usual only six episodes in season one. The second series has just four episodes consisting of two two-part stories, as will the forthcoming third.
- Broken Bird / Troubled but Cute: Jenny Jones.
- Bus Full of Innocents: Quite literally Cameron's final plan, as he thinks making a bus full of schoolchildren will give him the infamy he craves.
- Cliff Hanger:
- In the final moments of the final episode of season one. After Reed had taunted Mark into agreeing with Alice, breaking a tiebreaker preventing Alice from blowing Reed away. Leaving a woman suspected of patricide, a cop suspected of killing his ex-wife and the ex-wife's boyfriend standing around a newly murdered Reed. To make matters worse Teller and the rest of the CID are about to storm the platform the three of them are standing on.
Luther: Now What?
- In Series 2 Episode 1 Cameron pulls an Enemy Rising Behind by popping up in the backsteat of Ripley's car
- Co-Dragons: Baba from series two has two main lieutenants: her psychopathic grandson Toby and former Dirty Cop Frank Hodge.
- Consulting a Convicted Killer: Defied and Deconstructed in a Series 1 episode when John tries to pick Alice Morgan's brain for insight into the killer in one of his cases, she points out that she doesn't suddenly gain the ability to understand other people just because one is a killer like her (allegedly), explaining that, ultimately, this criminal's mindset is as alien to her as it is to Luther or, indeed, as any human's mindset would be to her.
- Continuity Nod:
- In episode five of series one, Ripley is shown to still have the mugshots of the villains from episodes three and four on the walls of his cubicle.
- The coffee mug Luther was given in the first episode reappears at the end of the second episode of the second series, when Jenny Jones volunteers to make tea.
- Both seasons end with the same line - "so now what?".
- Cowboy Cop: Luther
- Crazy Prepared: In episode six Alice helps Luther retrieve the Gun that Reed is going to use to set him up. We cut to a montage of her getting the necessary tools from her closet, as well as disguises. Also for a physics genius she knows more then Luther on how to properly clean a gun of evidence.
- Creepy Twins: Series two has Robert and Nicholas Milberry, the very eerie twin killers in the third and fourth episodes.
- Deadly Delivery: A gang of home invaders looking to steal diamonds from a pair of white collar criminal who are about to leave the country turn up in an identical removalist van to the one that's just left. Thinking there's been a mistake the man answers the door only to be struck in the face.
- Deadpan Snarker: DSU Rose Teller
- Death Seeker: A possible interpretation of Luther's behavior. Becomes much more apparent in season 2, when he starts his day with a round of Russian Roulette, loses Alice and already lost Zoe.
- Defective Detective: Luther himself, who has anger problems and a seriously messed up personal life. Especially in series 2, where we see just how bad things have got when we see him sitting alone in his flat playing Russian Roulette early on.
- Dirty Cop:
- DCI Ian Reed is revealed as one in the fifth episode of the first series.
- Frank Hodge from the second series used to be The Mole for a human trafficking ring, but by the time we meet him he's left the police and gone to work for them full time.
- Distressed Dude: In the second series, Justin Ripley gets kidnapped and tortured by Cameron Pell.
- The Dog Bites Back: Graham Shand ends up getting killed by the wife he abused for years after the full extent of his depravity is revealed.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Mark, so much so that one suspects he's putting on an act to manipulate Zoe into chosing him over Luther.
- Driven to Suicide:
- Averted in episode two. Owen Lynch goes for this but a well-timed intervention from Luther stops him in time.
- Ian Reed also considers this when he risks being exposed, but decides to go for Suicide by Cop instead. Luther sees through it, but Alice is more than willing to give him his wish.
- Engineered Public Confession: In episode 6, Reed finally admits to killing Zoe when he believes Luther is about to kill him. Turns out Luther had a tape recorder in his pocket. Subverted on an earlier occasion when Luther uses an edited recording to make a kidnapper's girlfriend think her lover has refused to exchange her for a hostage.
- Evil Redhead: Alice. May overlap with Heroes Want Redheads
- Femme Fatale: Every good detective needs one. Luther has one in Alice Morgan, who seems a nice flirty sort. Unless she doesn't like you, or you're a threat to Luther. Then she ends up being not so nice.
- Face Heel Turn: Even if you have to pity him and the mess he got himself into. As of episode five Reed has set in motion events that ended with multiple people dead and a woman gutted for diamonds. And his attempt to cover it up led to the death of Luther's wife and Luther himself on the run as the prime suspect.
- Finger in the Mail: Done with an added layer of Squick where the kidnappers cut out their hostage's tongue just to prove they're serious. Later, it gets worse.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Luther and Mark in series two.
- First-Name Basis: John and Alice start calling each other by those names a lot earlier than they should. All other villains use Luther's last name.
- Foe Yay: Alice Morgan and Luther. The interrogation in which they first meet -- mixing in scientific theory and relativity -- sounds like good-natured flirting of two people on a first date.
- Gets pushed to eleven in one of the final scenes of episode one. A confrontation on a bridge leads to Luther deflecting a knife from Alice and nearly choking her on the spot.
Luther: Stay away from Zoe!
Alice: Kiss me, Kill me... do something.
- The fact that they keep calling each other to taunt/flirt only adds to this.
- In episode three Alice and Luther admit they are scared of each other.
- Alice's reaction to Luther walking away when he declares he can't see her again in episode four sounds a bit like a lover scorned.
- In episode Six Alice finds Luther has broken into her flat. She thought he was an intruder and, armed with another sharp implement and wearing a nightie, says casually...
Alice: If you wanted a key, all you had to do was ask.
- In the same scene Alice tells Luther that if he killed Zoe, he must have had a good reason. Luther then states that he didn't do it. Alice face-faults as if she was hoping he'd say the reason was her.
- In Series 2 Episode 2 Alice askes Luther to run away with her He says no
- Lampshaded also in the title sequence song.
Look at her, with her eyes like a flame
She will love you like a fly will never love you...
- Foreshadowing: In episode three Reed makes a call to murdering Satanist Lucias offering to help him get away with murder, doing an excellent impression of a corrupt cop. It was all part of a sting. Turns out that Reed really is a corrupt cop...
- Friendly Enemy: Alice and Luther again. Although Luther insists that one coffee does not make them friends.
- In episode five, he calls her and she comes running to meet him in a church. Where she renews his faith in humanity.
- As of episode six, she's the only one he can turn to. Luther, on the run for the murder of his wife, enlists her aid in exacting revenge against Reed.
- Freudian Excuse: The sniper in episode two believes he's got one. So does Alice.
- Genius Bruiser: Luther is large, can take a beating and throw a good punch. He can also exchange ideas on logic and philosophy with a genius sociopath.
- Good Is Not Nice: Luther has a temper. But is a good cop. But he will allow a serial killer to drop to his death. And choke a defenseless woman -- albeit one who is a Complete Monster.
- Go Mad From the Revelation:
- Not that he was that sane in the first place, but when Owen Lynch finds out the truth about his father he doesn't take it well.
- Linda Shand in episode four, once she learns how truly monstrous her husband Graham is.
- Have You Told Anyone Else?: Ian Reed goes to tell the fence he's in cahoots with that his nephew has been tortured and murdered. He then asks the fence if he told anyone else about working with a Corrupt Cop. The fence is too distraught to suspect his motives, but it's no surprise when Reed strangles him with his tie.
- Heroic BSOD: Happens to Luther after letting Madsen fall to his death.
- Horrible Judge of Character: The normally perceptive Luther assumes that his long-time friend Ian Reed is turning Vigilante Man. He's actually a Corrupt Cop trying desperately to cover his tracks.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Luther tends to tower over most of the women he's seen with. Hilariously, in the pilot, Teller barely passed shoulder height. Same goes with him and Alice to a lesser extent.
- I Know You Know I Know: In episode one, after Alice realizes this, she drops the facade of the distraught daughter and exchanges word games with Luther. Creepily, she likes that he knows and can't prove it. She knows he knows she murdered her parents and her dog. He knows she knows. But they both know he's got no proof. Also marks the beginning of their Foe Yay.
- I Let Gwen Stacy Die: The death of his wife, Zoe, is responsible for much of Luther's angst in the second series.
- Internal Affairs: Schenk tags along with SCU to keep an eye on Luther. He's a subverted case, since while he'll sack Luther without batting an eye, he also acknowledges him as a good man and brilliant cop. After Zoe gets killed, he's more willing to accept that there are holes in Luther's guilt than Teller.
- Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted -- beating up Owen Lynch leaves Luther with one hand in a cast.
- John Munch: In Shout-Out form only -- "Send the details to Detective Munch in Special Victims Unit, New York."
- Which, following the Munch Continuity Property, means that due to his appearance in one episode of The Wire, Luther and Stringer Bell are identical strangers.
- Kick the Dog: We know that Alice is not a very nice person when she puts a round in both her parents heads. Shooting her dog in the head four times seems like overkill. Turns out she knows that normal procedure is to cremate the remains. And she hid the gun in the dog so she could collect the ashes and take it home as some sort of trophy of the crime.
- Knife Nut: Alice leans towards this. She uses sharp objects to threaten Zoe, and has a favorite knife in her kitchen she uses for activities such as threatening to gut someone or when she needs to kidnap someone. Somewhat averted in that of the people she has killed so far none have been killed with a knife.
- Love Makes You Evil: Knowing that Alice can't stand someone else getting credit for 'her' murder, Luther threatens to frame someone else for the crime Alice commited unless she leaves Zoe alone. As he'd earlier accused her of not ever being able to understand love, Alice asks what's the use of love if it causes him to degrade the law he stands for.
Alice: "And you think I'm a monster. Love is supposed to dignify us, exalt us. How can it be love, John, if all it does is make you lonely and corrupt?"
- Lampshaded in the Massive Attack song played over the title sequence.
Love is like a sin my love
For the ones that feel it the most
- Malevolent Masked Man: Cameron Pell, the killer in the first two episodes of season 2, commits all his crimes while wearing a Punch mask.
- Merciful Minion: Ian Reed pretends to be a dirty cop to get to a ritual killer for the protagonist. Painfully subverted later, though.
- Mismatched Eyes: Alice puts in a single contact lens when carrying out her Sickbed Slaying, presumably so the police officer she speaks face-to-face with will remember this unusual detail rather than her actual features.
- Odd Friendship: He's a hot tempered cop who solves murders. She's a genius physicist who got away with murder. She gives him supportive encouragement regarding his wife. He took her out for coffee. In episode three he goes to her as a sounding board regarding the case of the week and in episode Six she gives Luther shelter and aid while he is on the run for the (framed) murder of Zoe.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Into the back of a car, no less. Just after someone else got out of the same back seat.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Luther has to disguise himself to steal the gun Reed planted on the crime scene. Alice points out that as a huge Scary Black Man he's difficult to disguise. Luther replies that it's all about plausible deniability in court. Seen earlier when Luther dresses up in shades and an earwarmer beanie to assault Lucian Burgess. The idea is that Burgess should know exactly who assaulted him, so he'll panic and think Luther is setting him up when the latter carefully wipes blood off Burgess' nose.
- The Plan: Two in a row by Lynch, to enable him to kill more police officers.
- The above-mentioned beating of Luther's love rival? Alice gets the girls doing the beating to claim Luther sent them. Luther denies this, naturally enough. Only Zoe, his wife, believes him -- and she has doubts. Then, when Alice tells Mark the truth and scares him into retracting his accusation, Zoe's faith in Luther is reaffirmed and she walks back into his arms. Which is almost certainly exactly what Alice had planned all along.
- Luther seems to have done this in episode four, when he finds himself under investigation for the aforesaid attempted murder of serial child killer Henry Madsen. When Madsen wakes up from his coma his accusations place Luther's career in jeopardy. Luther visits Alice Morgan and informs her point blank he can never speak to her again due to this investigation. Her cries of 'No' at this news don't seem to surprise him. He's pretty much unleashing one killer on another -- she murders Madsen to save Luther. A case of Luther pretty much pushing Alice's Berserk Button for his own benefit.
- Poisonous Friend: Alice, leading to lots of Stop Helping Me! from Luther.
- Post-Rape Taunt: Part of Reed's taunting speech to Luther and Mark in episode six, in which he claims that not only was Zoe a slut but she enjoyed fucking him the most because he was her revenge on Luther.
- Promoted Fanboy: DS Ripley has shades of this. He read all of Luther's files and his loyalty helps Luther in episode six.
- Put on a Bus: Rose Teller. Even though it had some shades of foreshadowing, still a bit surprising when she's just not there in series 2.
- Reverse Whodunnit
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- Inspector Schenk is investigating Luther for corruption. He knows that Luther is a good cop who gets results, but he will bring him down for the unethical way he conducts investigations, and will live with the consequences of putting an effective and basically good cop behind bars. An attitude that Luther respects. He's also more willing to accept that there are holes in the theory that Luther killed Zoe than Teller.
- Rose Teller, too. She's behind Luther's back, but if necessary, she will put him in his place if there is need. Though when there is possibility of her getting sacked if Luther's a killer, she immediately switches to thinking what won't make her responsible.
- Romantic False Lead: Mark North is originally set up as this, but it's ultimately a subversion as the Love Triangle is rendered irrelevant after Zoe's death. By the start of series two, he and Luther end up as firm friends.
- Russian Roulette:
- Luther forces a Villainous Breakdown from Owen Lynch, but then has an Oh Crap moment when Owen empties all but one bullet from his snubnose revolver and starts putting it to their heads and pulling the trigger. Eventually Owen is down to the last chamber and it's his turn -- Luther decks him when he puts the gun to his head to commit suicide.
- Luther is also seen doing this in the first episode of series two, to show exactly how bad his life's got now that Zoe is dead.
- Sawed-Off Shotgun: Used to murder Ian Reed.
- Scotland Yard
- Scary Black Man: Luther came across this in the opening minutes of episode one while chasing the serial killer with a penchant for killing children. And, well, a lot of the rest of the time.
- Self-Made Orphan: Alice.
- Serial Killer: Pretty much once an episode, starting with the one who Luther allows to fall off a building in the first five minutes.
- Shout-Out: A sociopathic killer with the last name Morgan? Where have I heard that before?
- It's a bit of a stretch; but even before that one...
- Sickbed Slaying: Alice disguises herself as a doctor, hits the fire alarm and then tells the police officer guarding Madsen that there's some violent patients on the floor below who are hindering the evacuation. She then walks into the room and smothers Madsen with her bare hands.
- Suicide by sociopathic redhead: Reed at the Climax of episode six. Of course this may have been a result of Alice cheerfully informing him of his other options with a bright cheery smile on her face.
- Smug Snake: Lucian Burgess. That and the fact that he's a Complete Monster makes you actually cheer when Luther sets him up.
- They Fight Crime: He's a Cowboy Cop with rage issues. She's a psychopathic killer.
- To the Pain: Alice when threatening Zoe.
Alice (holding an icepick to Zoe's ear): Your husband assaulted me. He touched me. Intimately. He made me do things. He hurt me because of you. And as he touched me he talked about you. He said you were dead. And you'd been very badly burned, your face was cut and your skin was gone. You'd been abducted off the street by a man. A very sick man. He kept you alive for days. He used knives. A blowtorch. He kept pieces of you for seven years. I'm worried...that someone might want to hurt you like that.
- Also Alice vs. Ian Reed.
- Token Evil Teammate: Alice is this to Luther from the final episode of the first series onwards.
- Undying Loyalty: Alice and Justin to Luther.
- The Unfettered: Luther has a whatever-it-takes attitude to beating the criminals. He threatens serial killer Henry Madsen with the prospect of death unless he reveals where his latest victim is, and still lets him drop a couple stories to the ground after Madsen tells him. To keep Alice away from his wife he threatens to frame someone for the murder of her parents, denying her the narcissistic pleasure of being the centre of their murder mystery. He also casually mentions that he will kill her if she persists in stalking his wife. The fact that he means it may be one of the reasons Alice likes him so much.
- In episode three Luther finds himself up against a Smug Snake and Complete Monster of a man named Lucian Burgess, who enjoys psychological torture and bleeding his victims dry. What does Luther do? He goes and visits another Complete Monster he knows, and over a friendly conversation Alice gives him the idea to change the playing field. So he beats Lucian bloody and uses the blood from the assault to trick Lucian into running to the crime scene.
- Look up Unfettered in the dictionary and you will find Alice Morgan smiling right back at you.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: They may live on opposite sides of the law and at opposite ends of the moral spectrum, but Luther and Alice spend an uncomfortable amount of time taunting\confiding\flirting with each other. Joking with each other and going into fits of rage over the others actions and comments.This troper is waiting for inevitable hate sex to follow.
- Villainous Breakdown: Happens once an episode. Notably subverted when Reed pretends to be suffering this to lure Luther into a trap (fortunately Luther knows what he's up to). Probably the best example is when (on the advice of Alice) Luther deliberately engineers this in Lucian Burgess.
Burgess: Well, DCI Luther. First you umm...you assault me. YOU PUBLICLY-ASSAULT-ME! WHY CAN'T YOU SHOW ME SOME RESPECT?!
- With Friends Like These...: In episode three, Alice, who considers herself Luther's new friend. She sends a gang of teenage girls to beat the stuffing out of Luther's love rival, Mark, to help Luther with his marriage woes. When this of course backfires and Mark points the finger at Luther, she fixes it by scaring the crap out of Mark, leading him to drop his accusations against Luther over the attack.
- In episode four Alice pays Henry Madsen a visit after he wakes up. Madsen, who Luther let fall in episode one, is a threat to Luther because he keeps repeating his name, possibly accusing him of attempted murder. While Luther is not happy about what Alice does, he still covers up for her. Making one think it may have been his plan to set her off on Madsen all along.
- In episode five, Reed of all people.
- Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: After Luther refuses to let him commit Suicide by Cop, Reed pulls a knife and stabs Luther then kicks him along the ground screaming, "NOW LOOK WHAT YOU'RE MAKING ME DO!"
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The third episode of series two seems to resolve its main plot entirely, with Luther having captured the murderer before he can strike again. but in the episode's final moments, it's revealed that the killings were the work of a pair of Creepy Twins -- and the other one's still out there.