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File:Primeval - intro.jpg

Lester: You're aware of the work we do here?

Becker: You detect anomalies and fight dinosaurs, when necessary.
Lester, bringing Becker up to speed.

Primeval (2007-) is ITV's answer to the revived Doctor Who[1], with less traveling through the cosmos, but more death (of recurring characters, anyway) and more underwear.

Primeval involves a group of crack scientists and experts (well... a paleontology professor, his TA, one of his students, an ex-zookeeper, an SAS guy, and a couple of Home Office boffins) protecting modern Britain from trans-temporal threats. These mostly consist of extinct, usually prehistoric, beasties trolling around the South of England after coming through time anomalies.

Actual dinosaurs didn't appear till series two (despite the show being often described as Who spinoff Torchwood with dinosaurs instead of sex); most of the creatures which appeared in series one are more ancient than dinosaurs. The exceptions were some parasite-infested dodos (assuming you don't count birds as dinosaurs) and a couple of futuristic predators.

A Canadian spinoff, Primeval New World, is in production.

Spoiler Warning: The vast majority of the spoiler tags on this page relate to the finale of Season 3. If you are watching the series and have not got to this point yet, you do not want to highlight these. You Have Been Warned.


Primeval has examples of:

  • Action Girl - Abby becomes one, YMMV on when. Emily from the Victorean era is also a notable example, when she returns to her era she becomes Spring Heel Jack to hunt down a Raptor, getting the blame for its wrong doings, but is still capable at killing it.
  • Actor Allusion - Abby is played by Hannah Spearritt, who before this was best known for being a member of the band S Club 7. In the Season 4 premier, when she turns on music in an arena to distract a dinosaur, what plays? "Don't Stop Moving" by S Club 7.
  • Adorkable - Connor is a textbook example. Jess Parker, who joined in between seasons 3 and 4. Conner's New Dawn Assistant plays this up but is really just pretending.
  • Aborted Arc - The Jenny/Claudia arc from series 1 and 2 has gone this way as of series 3. The whole thing with Sarah at the end of Series 3. The creators couldn't have filmed the scenes with Sarah dying BEFORE moving to Dublin, could they? No, it doesn't seem like they could... so, she dies offscreen (we see a little of her death in the first webisode; she's in a car, trapped, mauled by a Future Predator and cries "Becker! BECKER!") in what was, apparently, her plan.
  • Action Dress Rip - Abby and Sarah in episode 6 of S3. "Great for dancing, not so much for cross-country."
  • Affirmative Action Girl: Sarah in season 3. Jess and Emily in season 4.
  • All Love Is Unrequited - Connor --> Abby --> Stephen --> Helen --> Nick ---> Claudia. At first, anyway.
  • All Myths Are True - Or at least some of them. The animals that travel through the anomalies explain gaps in the fossil record, Lazarus taxa, the Loch Ness monster, mermaids, chupacabra, dragons, sea serpents and other monsters, thunder birds, Egyptian mythical beasts and even gremlins and haunted houses.
  • All There in the Manual - Miscellaneous character trivia. Some of it (like Helen's maiden name and Claudia being a Lethal Chef) never showed up in the series proper, some (like Lester having kids) showed up in very minor ways, and some (like Stephen being in a relationship that ended badly - with Helen - prior to the series proper) played a role.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us
  • Always a Bigger Fish
  • Always Save Rex: Abby repeatedly goes back into danger to save Rex.
  • Anyone Can Die - At least four major characters and many minor characters died.
    • Taken to the furthest extreme with the death of the main character in Series three.
  • Apocalyptic Log: In 3x06.
  • Apocalypse How - It appears the future might hold a Level 2 or even 3 (probably 3a)...
  • Asshole Victim - Geeky Tom, and the journalists from series 3.
    • Also, Christine Johnson, who was killed by a Future Predator after she was pushed into an anomaly leading into the future, by Helen Cutter. She had orchestrated a military takeover of the ARC, and was previously described by Lester as "like a Velociraptor, only better-dressed".
    • The guy on the beach in the penultimate episode of season 2, who refuses to turn down his loud music when asked, in fact turns it up, and draws a Silurian scorpion right to him.
    • the Alpha Bitch who gets eaten by a Therocephalian.
    • Henry Merchant definitely counts.
  • Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other: Lester has done this at least once with every single other protagonist.
  • Bad Future - According to Matt, humans live underground,because the surface is sterile and can't sustain life anymore
  • Badass Bookworm: Conner, after he gets a few levels of badass under his belt.
  • Bald of Evil - Captain Ross (one of Christine's soldiers) sports one.
  • Balls of Steel - Used in Series 3, Episode 7, where Danny tricks a knight with the old Look Up routine, only to discover out his groin is armour protected.
  • Benevolent Boss - Lester, albeit one hiding behind a Jerkass Facade
  • Berserk Button - The cast has a few:
    • Abby: Rex.
    • Connor: Abby.
    • Lester: His Jag.
    • Jenny: Crash her wedding, and you WILL pay, as the Hyaenodon found out.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies - more than a few
  • Big Damn Heroes - Stephen is pretty much a walking Big Damn Heroes moment. Even comic relief Connor gets one of these moments in Season 2, episode 4.
    • Connor gets another in Season 3 when he saves Abby from a Raptor
      • Matt and Becker get several of these in Series 3 (Becker) and Series 4 and 5 (Becker and Matt).
  • Big Damn Kiss - Connor and Abby in season 3.
  • Big Damn Movie - In an interview on Radio 2 the cast revealed a Big Damn Movie is in the planning stages.
  • Big Damn Villains - In the first season finale, the Gorgonopsid shows up at the exact right moment.
    • As does the Raptor in the third season finale.
  • Big No - Abby does this in S2, episode 4. Impressively enough, Hannah Spearritt actually makes it work.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: The episode where Cutter dies.
  • Body Horror - The fungus monster. "I'll never look at athlete's foot the same way again."
  • Bond One-Liner - "Good boy."
  • Boom! Headshot! - The first Future Predator is killed in this way.
  • Brief Accent Imitation - Well, Jenny did ask for Cutter's exact words...
  • Bring It Back Alive - What they do with animals they can't send back through their anomaly or are forced to kill.
  • British Brevity - Every series is six or seven episodes long, except series three which went for ten.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer - The whole ARC crew according to Lester (and probably Lester too, given his relations with Whitehall)

 "You will be dealing with a highly strung and temperamental team of rank amateurs who just happen to be brilliant at what they do."

  • The Bus Came Back - Jenny reappears when the team detects an anomaly at her wedding. She is really not happy about that... the Anomaly, I mean, not the team; she doesn't mind seeing them, invites them to the wedding and beats a Hyaenodon with a candlebra.
    • Danny reappears at the end of season 4.
  • Butt Monkey - Connor... sort of. Jack Maitland.
  • Cain and Abel - Danny and Ethan. Because Ethan is Patrick, Danny's long lost brother
  • Cannot Spit It Out - Helen seems to be trying to prevent the end of the world, but instead of explaining that to the ARC team she prefers to drop cryptic hints that serve only to antagonize them and hurt her cause. Probably because her idea of saving the world involves eradicating humanity.
  • Car Fu - Used by Stephen in the first episode against the Gorgonopsid. It saves Nick and Claudia from becoming monster food, but doesn't actually kill the creature. Liberal application of dakka is what kills it.
    • Used by Matt in Season 5 against a T. rex.
  • Casting Gag: Christine Johnson, Lester's bitter arch-rival... is played by Ben Miller's real-life wife.
  • Cat Fight - Abby vs Caroline toward the end of Season 2
  • Celebrity Paradox - the S Club 7 song "Don't Stop Movin" is heard in the first episode of Series 4, thus creating the possibility that Hannah Spearitt exists in this universe.
  • Character Development - Most notably Lester who goes from Smug Snake to to Benevolent Boss and walking Crowning Moment of Sarcasm as the series progresses.
  • Chekhov's Gun - The numbers on the artifact
  • Chekhov MIA - Helen Cutter at first
    • In season 4 Danny's long lost brother returns (as does Danny himself)
  • Cliff Hanger - Season 1 ends with the disappearance of Claudia, Season 2 ends with Helen creating an army of clones, Season 3 ends with Connor and Abby stuck up a tree in the Cretaceous, Danny in the Rift Valley at the Dawn of Humanity, and Sarah having a plan to save them, Season 4 ends with Matt leaving the anomaly to Victorian London (to which he had sent Emily back through) to plan his next move to save the future while Philip takes Connor into his automobile to discuss Connor's theory of convergence and Season 5 ends with Matt being warned by a battered future version of himself that he has to "go back".
  • Combat Pragmatist - Danny. However "Hey You!" Haymaker / Groin Attack fails against knight in plate armor.
  • Container Maze
  • Continuity Nod: In 5x05, after dealing with a T-Rex, Becker makes a comment about the EMDs actually being able to take one down. In the first episode of season four, while arguing with Matt over the effectiveness of EMDs, Matt said that they could take down a fully-grown tyrannosaur.
  • Cool Anomaly: It looks like shattered glass and is very bad luck.
  • Cool Car - In Season 3, the anomaly appeared at Racetrack full of Lotus Exiges.
  • Cowardly Lion - Connor, before beginning his installment course in Badass
  • Da Chief: Lester slips into it every so often.
  • Deadpan Snarker - Lester gets the all best lines in the show.
    • Cutter and Becker have had their moments as well, but Lester is still the king of this trope.
    • Connor develops a tendency to do this under stress.

 Connor: That's funny Matt, I thought we could all just stick our hands out the portholes and paddle back to the 21st century.

  • A Death in the Limelight - Poor Tom...
  • Did Not Do the Research - Averted. While the show does take dramatic license at points (Silurian scorpions weren't that big) they do it with full knowledge that they're deviating from hard science. Besides, you know you want to see Nick and Stephen being chased by GIANT scorpions!
  • Digging Herself Deeper - Jess discussing Becker's relationship status in episode 4x02.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons - The Dracorex was understandably mistaken for a dragon when it wandered through medieval England.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything? - a parasite that causes its host to become very aggressive, spreads itself through bites and alters the colour of their eyes?
  • Doubling for London: Season 4 was filmed mostly in Dublin but is set in London (in a particularly jarring instance for Irish viewers the second episode of series has numerous shots of the unmistakable Poolbeg Power Station chimneys in what is supposedly London Docks.)
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him - As befits an Anyone Can Die show, Primeval likes dropping bridges.
    • The most egregious example so far is probably Sarah, who was last seen saying she had "a plan" to get Connor and Abby back from the past. A year later, they get back on their own, to discover she died offscreen at some point, apparently in some undescribed attempt to save them. Yeah. As it turns out, her plan was to go to the future and find Abby, Connor and Danny... great idea! You die. In a car. Mauled by a predator, while crying out for Becker...
  • The Dulcinea Effect - Emily has one on Matt.
  • DVD Commentary - starting from Season 2, at a pretty fixed rate of one commentary per disc
  • Dying to Be Replaced - Nick Cutter bites it to make way for Danny Quinn early in Season 3.
  • Embarrassing First Name - when asked by a fan, ITV revealed that Captain Becker's first name is Hilary.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name - Word of God is that Lester's middle name is Peregrine.
  • Engineered Public Confession - Lester and Becker end Christine Johnson's takeover of the ARC by recording her less-than-complimentary comments about the Minister of Defence.
  • Estrogen Brigade Bait - Becker. Your Mileage May Vary in regards to the other boys on the show, but Stephen and Connor normally get this treatment too.
  • Eureka Moment - Sarah talking Egyptology lets Cutter figure how to plot anomalies appearances, or at least begin to.
  • Even Evil Has Standards - "All right, Leek. You've had your nasty little joke." This comes from Helen Cutter, of all people.
  • Evil Chancellor - In many ways, this is Leek's role in Season 2
  • Evilutionary Biologist - Helen
  • Evil Gloating - Done by Leek to Lester in Season 2 with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Of course, Lester comes out of it with a Crowning Moment of Awesome, taking out Leek's Future Predator Assassin with a mammoth, so that kinda backfired.
  • Exact Eavesdropping - Done enough times it is practically the preferred way of getting information.
  • Expanded Universe - Currently 4 novel adventures exist according to The Other Wiki. Their Canon status is uncertain.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change - Helen between Seasons 1 and 2, Nick between 2 and 3, and Abby between 3 and 4.
  • Extra-Strength Masquerade - at this point the series is veering into this.
    • It wandered into this much earlier with either the Mammoth on the (crowded) motorway, the Egyptian Prehistoric Crocodile on the rampage in central London, or at the very latest the prehistoric rhino stampede over a camp ground.
  • Extreme Graphical Representation - The anomaly detector in the ARC.
  • Face Heel Turn - During Christine's takeover of the ARC Becker switches sides and becomes her loyal soldier. Or at least she thinks he does, in reality he is a Reverse Mole for Lester.
  • Face Palm - Abby does this right after Connor throws dirt in the eyes of a raptor in the last episode of series three. "That was a stupid idea; I've just aggravated him!"
    • Admittedly Connor has just been knocked out and isn't thinking clearly so the face palm isn't entirely justified!
  • Facing the Bullets One-Liner - "Oh, and one last thing? You really are a tiresome little man." Of course, Lester doesn't actually die, but still.
    • ( Tear Jerker ) - Cutter's death. "You know what, Helen? You're not as smart as I thought you were..." (Beat, then Helen pulls the trigger; even SHE is crying.)
      • Note, these aren't actually his last lines, (which were, "Tell Claudia Brown ... oh, never mind ..."), as he had a conversation with Connor, but his last lines before being shot.
  • Fake Brit - English born Jess is played by Irish actress Ruth Kearney. Oddly fellow Irish actor Ciarán McMenamin gets to keep his own heavy Stroke Country accent while Kearney doesn't keep her southern Irish accent, perhaps because the showrunners didn't want to open up a can of worms by introducing a foreign character (and thus imply that knowledge of the The Masquerade had spread beyond the British government.)
    • Also in Season 4 we have another Irish actress (Ruth Bradley) playing a Londoner (Lady Emily Merchant.)
  • Famous Last Words: From Sarah... sort of "I have an idea." Yeah... apparently that idea is getting killed!
    • (Technically, according to The first webisode episode, she was trapped in a car, mauled by a future predator and her last words were actually "Becker! BECKER!")
  • Fan Service - Abby wanders around her apartment in her underwear because she needs to keep the temperature on high for her pet prehistoric lizard. Riiiiight. We stopped seeing this in Season 2.
    • Then Helen took over that role. Sans any underwear at all.
    • Most of Abby's regular outfits qualify though, and her kickboxing practice affords many more opportunities.
    • Jenny's outfits in series 2 and 3 as well as her very short dress in series 4.
    • For the ladies, Becker taking his shirt off towards the end of 4.04. And how.
    • Same goes for Connor, three episodes earlier. Yum.
  • Fantastic Romance: For a show making use of Time Travel and with a few Official Couples, its kinda strange that Matt and Emily in S4/5 is the first example. He's from the far future, she's from Victorian London, and they meet in the 21st century. It's all a bit "Time Traveller's Wife" isn't it?
  • Feathered Fiend - The phorusrachids, and to a lesser extent, the Hesperornis and the Deinonychus raptors, which did have some light feathers, which you will notice, if you look closely, enough.
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water - Sir William in S3, mistaking modern London for Hell. Easy mistake to make, though. Not that it breaks his spirit much as he promptly shows a few minutes later as he scares the shit out of some allegedly badass bikers in a bar, forcing them to cower under the table.
    • Emily, a lady from the Victorian era, in modern London in S4. Her and Ethan also reference groups of time-displaced humans who wander through anomalies and manage to be every variant of Fish Out of Temporal Water at once.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flanderization: James Lester originally was more serious while making a few sarcastic comments in Series 1. In Series 2 and 3, his sarcasm and comedy was a bit more obvious, but in Series 4 and 5, he is a complete goof.
    • In Series 5, Abby's tendancy to keep cool sticky situations... disappears.
    • Connor was always very intelligent, though his intelligence was exaggerated in the fourth and fifth series, to the point where he can even create machines that can open anomalies.
    • Helen has also grown more psychotic as the series progresses.
  • Flip-Flop of God: The decision of the genus for the Raptors seen in the series has gone back and forth between the show's creators right up until Series 5. Comments alternated between them being Velociraptors or Utahraptor (which was mentioned by Helen Cutter in the first series). After a while they eventually settled on saying they were based on Deinonychus, which is the closest approximate match the Primeval Raptors have for a real life equivalent in terms of appearance and size. And now it's decided that they're Dromaeosaurus instead... meaning they changed their minds to make for a less accurate depiction.
  • Flynning - Danny and a couple of iron bars + Knight with broadsword = Flynning in large quantities.


 Jenny: I have to get back to the ARC.

Sarah: The Ark?

Connor: Not that one.

 Jenny: There was an eyewitness - a young woman in the museum.

Lester: Well, you know, have her shot and dispose of her body discreetly. (As he's leaving) Just kidding.

 Lester: This isn't over, Christine.

Christine: When people say that James, it usually is.

  • Genre Savvy - Cutter correctly assumes Leek keeps his cells bugged and uses it to convince an eavesdropping Helen that he still loves her.

 Danny: We should split up.

Connor: Split up? I'm not splitting up! Have you not seen the horror movies?

  • Getting Hot in Here - The "reason" for Helen's outfits.
  • Giant Flyer - Giant Flying Praying Mantis' from the future in Season 3 and the Pteranodon in Season 1. Also subverted the predatory subtrope by not having the big Pteranodon as the human killer, but small, probably-insectivorous Anurognathus.
  • Good Looking Privates - Becker.
  • Gone Horribly Right Phillip's Security Lockdown program. It locks down very well... UN-locking, however...
  • Guarding the Portal
  • Hand Behind Head - Connor and, lately, Abby seem quite fond of this.
  • Happy Ending Override: Lester fought against Christine's plans in Series 3 to insist that the ARC team be replaced with military-trained soldiers. In Series 4, we learn that he put the same rule in place himself after Connor, Abby and Danny got stuck in the past. Needless to say, Connor and Abby were not pleased when they got back.
  • Happy Place - Abby encourages Connor to find his when they're both stuck in a Cretaceous tree.
    • She suggests a beach and Connor runs with the idea: He starts with the beach, adds Abby to the Happy Place, makes the water warm, and then puts Abby in a bikini. She's mildly amused, while we get pissed cause we know we're never going to see it.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: In the pilot and 3x01.
  • Heel Face Turn - Helen flirts with this trope throughout Season 3 and even briefly plays it straight to save some campers from stampeding prehistoric rhinos, but in the end it's all a fake as virtually all the other spoiler tags on this page confirm.
    • Played straight with Caroline.
  • Heroic BSOD - The time displaced Sir William has one during the episode with the Dracorex during which he briefly becomes a Death Seeker. He is redeemed by The Power of Love though (and a Stable Time Loop).
  • Heroic Sacrifice - Stephen in the finale of Season 2.
    • Season 3 finale: Connor is prepared to pull one of these to save Abby, but Indy Ploys his way out of it.
    • Becker a couple of episodes earlier, but he's Not Quite Dead.
  • Hero Stole My Bike - in the first episode of Season 2.


  • High Heel Face Turn - A particularly jarring example in Caroline who was clearly depicted as amoral and even outright sadistic (including stuffing Rex into a fridge) but then suddenly developed sympathetic qualities.


  • Hoist by His Own Petard - Oliver Leek, the villain of series 2, is killed by his own army of mind-controlled future predators after the mind-control device is broken.
  • Holy Backlight: When Emily goes back through the anomoloy in series four.
  • Honey Trap: Caroline for Connor in season two. (She's working for Leek.)
  • Honor Before Reason - Nick Cutter
  • Honorable Elephant: A Columbian mammoth once saves James Lester's life.
  • Horrible Judge of Character - Stephen. What else can you say about a man who trusts Helen Cutter?
    • Nick is a minor example of this, at first. He pretty quickly stops trusting her.
      • Connor in Series 4-5. Stops trusting him [Philip] in episode 4 of series 5
        • And Philip himself is yet another guy who trusted Helen.
  • Animal Hospital Hottie - Abby is a qualified vet.
  • Hot Scientist - Sarah Page, Connor, Cutter...
  • How Do You Like Them Apples? - Helen often eats an apple with the help of her oversized knife.
  • Humans Are Bastards - Which is why Helen wants to kill us all
  • I Call It Vera - Danny's stick is called "Molly". Are we sure he's still sane; he's been gone almost two years...
  • Identical Stranger - Jenny Lewis and Claudia Brown. Justified by In Spite of a Nail.
  • Idiot Ball - The defining plot point for almost any given episode.
    • Stephen is saddled with a particularly Egregious one in Season 2. (See Horrible Judge of Character.)
    • Connor in Series 5. He's working on creating Anomalies... despite knowing that they are in some way tied to both the Artefact and Future Arc he himself witnessed in Series 3. Well done Connor, you probably just took everyone one step further to whatever accident caused them to appear through history in the first place!
  • Improvised Weapon - Connor does this a lot.
    • He's not the only one to use this. Golf club, anyone?

 Claudia: Hole in one!

    • Once again, Lester and the mammoth count. Sort of.
  • Improbable Age: Jess is just 19 and holds an vital post in the super secret ARC. It's said that she's a superb team co-ordinator but while she certainly seems capable enough she hasn't displayed the sort of brillance that would justify someone so young holding a postion like hers.
    • In fairness she does seem excellent at keeping an eye on the ARC operatives and making important connections.
    • 5x05 shows us that she's really, really good at what she does. She sets up multiple tactical teams in minutes and coordinates all of them, only losing her cool briefly. She's quickly talked out of her panic by James Lester, and goes right back to work.
  • Indy Hat Roll - Connor does one (sans going back for anything) in S2, episode 1.
  • Indy Ploy - Several.
  • Infant Immortality: Children and cute animals don't die. Even if they wander into the Silurian or are directly in the path of a Columbian mammoth.
  • Inferred Holocaust - The show has been incredibly consistent in it's portrayal of Time Travel, and Stable Time Loops being the result of any action. This means that unless there is some major Asspulling, humanity is screwed and we are all going to get eaten by giant mutated bats and mantis in the next hundred years or so.
    • Well, they managed to change the present (by accident), so the future shouldn't be off-limits... a Meta-Stable Time Loop is more consistent with.
  • Innocuously Important Episode - Season 3 episode 7 re-introduces the concept of a Stable Time Loop with Sir William's grave, and the finale takes it to its logical conclusion with the fossil records in the rift valley.
    • Episode 2 of series 5 directly references what happened to Emily when she returned to the 1860s, but also indirectly references the murder spree of "Spring Heel Jack" at the same time. Both these things are hugely important in episode 3.
  • Inspector Javert - Danny is introduced as one of these. He gets better.
  • In Spite of a Nail - Leaving baby future predators in the past specifically switches Claudia Brown with Jenny Lewis, introduces Oliver, and gives the team a new home base? Okay.
    • Lampshaded repeatedly. Early on, Stephen points out how odd it is that so little changed, as do several other characters (including Cutter) later on. Toward the end of Season 2, it's suggested that the sheer implausibility of it all is significant to the understanding of the anomalies.
      • There were also other things that changed, or may have, that were never mentioned. Abby has a different apartment, no longer walks around in her underwear, and seemed to have no romantic feelings for Stephen. Connor seems a bit more shy - compared to him asking Abby for a kiss is Series 1 - and his friends are never mentioned, which could imply he never had them One of them (ie, the surviving one) pops up in 4.2. His taste in clothing also changes as instead of button downs and sweaters/sweater vests, he wears mostly tee shirts, hoodies, and button vests. Also, instead of being a dinosaur expert, he instead becomes a computer genius. Lester's suits are a lot less tacky, and he's no longer a knight (check the credits) or an asshole. There are other things as well (the gorgonopsid never died, the scutosarus never returned to its time, etc).
  • Irrelevant Sidequest - In the Season 3 finale, the second anomaly at Christine's former HQ is a Red Herring to justify the team splitting up and Becker and Sarah staying behind.
  • It's Quiet... Too Quiet - Where are all the predators?
    • In episode 1.5, Abby notes that they can't hear any birdsong... out in the country... on a clear day.
  • Jerkass - Leek, Christine, and Helen. Jack Maitland, a little, albietly unintentionally in 3.8 as he's not sad about Becker's apparent Death.
    • Absolutely everyone gets at least one moment of being a Jerkass, but the above-mentioned villains are standouts. There is no Affably Evil to be found here, but Good Is Not Nice either.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold - Both Cutter and Lester are examples of this trope.
    • Cutter seems a mild example of a Jerkass Woobie later on in the series.
  • Jumped At the Call - After learning about the existence of the anomalies, Danny went out of his way to pester aid the ARC crew until they let him join. Connor did this, too, in Season 1.
  • Karmic Death - Several. Mick Harper and his boss, Oliver Leek, Christine, and finally Helen herself.
    • Philip Burton pulls a vaguely-Heroic Sacrifice in the final episode of series 5, and is killed by the anomaly he created.
    • Henry Merchant. Should have paid more attention to the raptor instead of threatening Matt and Emily.
  • Kick the Dog: Caroline's treatment of Rex
    • A presumably unintentional one, but in Episode 2 of Season 4, a woman finds a small, borderline Ugly Cute reptile-like creature in her house at night. Being Too Dumb to Live, she tries to pick up the wild animal with visibly sharp teeth, and it bites at her. She responds to this how? Trap it under a box? Call the RSPCA? Of course not. She grabs the little thing and flushes it down the toilet. Bitch.
  • Kill All Humans - What Helen is really up to
  • Killed Off for Real - So far, Cutter, Stephen, Helen, Ryan, Sarah, and a whole host of minor characters.
  • Kill It with Fire - Subverted, as the fungus monster reproduces faster when exposed to high temperatures. "DO NOT USE THE FLAMETHROWERS!"
  • Kill It with Ice - Works on the fungus monster. Almost works on Connor. Sorta works on Jenny.
  • Knife Nut: Emily.
  • Knight Templar - A literal one in Sir William's case. A straighter example of this trope in the case of Helen Cutter, who eventually ends up as a Nietzsche Wannabe.
  • Land Mine Goes Click - used to blow up a phorusrachid, as well as Captain Ross.
  • Last-Name Basis - Nick Cutter, James Lester, Oliver Leek, and both Captains. Each of these have exceptions.
    • Understandable in the case of Becker, given that his first name is Hilary.
  • Last-Second Word Swap - "Smells likeshit... something rotten."
  • Loophole Abuse - How Lester keeps Connor and Abby in ARC employment after they return in season 4. Since they were employed before the military background rule was implemented, and technically never quit, it doesn't affect them.
  • Lost Him in a Card Game - Not a person, but Team Pet Rex, lost by Abby's brother in a poker game.
  • Loveable Rogue - Danny Quinn
  • MacGuffin - The Artifact
  • MacGyvering - Fixing Helen's Magical Database with torch batteries, amongst other things
  • Mama Bear - Mama Embolotherium in this case. Imagine how much worse it would be with prehistoric bears though. If only the series had an Arctodus before it got axed.
    • Abby's relationship with Rex sorta counts, too.
    • Papa Wolf - Subverted with the raptor in the Season 2 premiere: It eats the baby raptor after the little critter gets used as bait to try and draw it out.
      • Played straight with the future predators.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Oliver Leek.
  • Masquerade - the team uphold it the best they can, but you can't help but wonder when it's going to come apart at the seams. Mammoth escaped large circus elephant on the M25, anyone?
  • McLeaned - Sarah after the S3 finale; she's mauled to Death in a car (revealed in the first webisode) in the future while calling out for Becker. Nasty way to go.
  • Meanwhile in the Future - Mostly averted
  • Mega Neko - The Smilodon.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender - An Egregious user of this trope, especially early on. All deaths in the first series (whether special forces or civilian bystanders) are male and it takes until the third episode of the second series for a female one-shot character to die. And even though she's a villain responsible for several deaths her own death is apparently so much more tragic than the two men that die in the same episode that Cutter goes into Heroic BSOD. A few episodes later a giant scorpion attacks a beach. Despite the dozens of women around the only visible victims it eats are men.
    • The show's been getting better about this. One episode of series 4 had the heroes fail to save a girl while managing to save two boys, although the heroes are upset about their failure, they don't dwell on it too much.
  • Metamorphosis Monster - In season 3, the team encounters a nastily infectious fungus that converts its hosts into hideous mutants which of course are infectious as well.
  • Mission Control - In the revival the ARC employs Jess as the Voice with an Internet Connection variety.
  • Monster of the Week - Mostly prevalent in season one before the Helen arc found its feet, but at heart the show is an adventure series based on what is going to come through this week's anomaly.
  • Mood Whiplash - Episode 1.4 contains this - the tension is broken when the dodos come through. Then Tom gets infected, and the show goes darker than it's ever gone before when he dies.
  • Morality Pet - Jess acts like this for No-Nonsense Becker, as notable in the episode he's almost crying when she nearly dies from her allergy to bug bites.
  • More Expendable Than You - The reason behind Stephen's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution - Becker is a strong advocate of this approach.
  • Must Make Amends: Connor does this in episode 5 of series 5, though he shows the intention a little before hand.

 Connor: I helped build this. I need to make it right.

  • My Car Hates Me - Jenny tries to start up her car. There is a Giganotosaurus trying to eat her. Predictably, the car fails to start.
  • My Favorite Shirt - Connor, Danny and Abby lose Becker's favourite gun.
  • My Future Self and Me - Matt is warned to "go back" by what is apparently a battered future version of himself at the end of Season 5.
  • My God, What Have I Done? - Phillip when he realises Matt's predictions were right and his anomaly is going to destroy the world.
  • Never Say Goodbye - Between Danny and Sarah when they split up to tackle two separate anomalies.
  • Nice Hat - Connor's brown trilby.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero - season 5 episode 3, they accidentally send a raptor back to the Victorian era. Matt has to go in after it, which results in his being reunited with Emily.
    • Also, Connor throughout season 4 and up to episode 4 of season 5, by helping Philip who was tricked by Helen Cutter and almost destroyed the world.
  • Night Swim Equals Death: A couple is swimming in a public pool at night, when a mosasaur joins them...
  • No Peripheral Vision - Seriously. It's like Predators have the ability to turn off their target's peripherals or something.
    • Amusingly Lampshaded by Helen, who states that the Predator has "an almost supernatural ability to stalk its prey."
    • A human version pops up late in series 5: a Mook manages to catch Matt completely off-guard by running straight at him from the side. Emily's attacker grabs her from behind, saving her from being a victim of this trope.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: A few minor characters in seasons 4 and 5 don't bother attempting accents and we have a strange situation in one episode where a son has an English accent but his mother is Irish. Could be justified for episodes in the city since Britain does have a lot of Irish immigrants.
  • Not Important to This Episode Camp - The Season 3 finale sent Lester to this.
  • Not So Different: Connor says he's taking risks because he's like Cutter, who wanted to change the future.

  Abby: No he didn't. He really didn't, Connor. That was what Helen wanted

  • Now or Never Kiss- Between Matt and Emily in series five, right before Matt runs off to drive an anomaly into another one in order to blow them up.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity - Leek puts on a convincing show of incompetence during his employ at the ARC which disguises his true intentions.
  • Oblivious Janitor Cut: In the pilot.
  • Odd Couple - Implied, when Connor briefly moves in with Lester. We don't get to see much of the shenanigans, but we see plenty of exasperated Lester, which is just as good.
  • Oh Crap - The expression on Helen's face just before her Karmic Death by Raptor. Beautiful, just beautiful.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting - The music (name unknown) that accompanies the Alpha Mer-creature.
  • One Steve Limit - Averted. Season 1 has two characters name Tom. They both die.
  • Only Sane Employee - Becker is flat out told that will be his job description by Lester. This is fair description of Lester's role, too.
  • Outrun the Fireball - Helen, after she blows up the hotel in Episode 5. Nick does something similar in Season 3.
  • Pac-Man Fever - Averted hard. Connor plays The Elder Scrolls Oblivion on the Xbox 360 at one point with actual gameplay and sound effects.
  • Paparazzi - Journalist Mick Harper in Series 3. Fortunately, he only bothers the team for a few episodes, before he and his boss suffer a Karmic Death while Going for the Big Scoop.
  • Papa Wolf: It is repeatedly demonstrated that you do NOT want to mess with Lester's team. Do so at your own risk.
  • Perma Stubble: Cutter.
  • Pet Baby Wild Animal - Rex, Sid, and Nancy
  • Phlebotinum Rebel - Valerie mistakenly thinks the Smilodon is this.
  • Pieta Plagiarism - Connor, when Nick Cutter dies. His expression makes it so much worse.
  • The Plan: Most characters are pretty good at this.
  • Plausible Deniability - Jenny Lewis' job is to maintain this for Lester. Which she does mainly through Blatant Lies. People seem to buy it, though. Possibly because the reporters that didn't ended up getting eaten by a Giganotosaurus.
  • Plucky Comic Relief - Connor
  • Plucky Girl: Taylor in 2x05.
  • Portal Cut: Happened once, to a dinosaur.
  • Portal to the Past - Time on either side of an anomaly is synced until the anomaly evaporates (when you are dealing with multiple interlinked anomaly trips try not to think about it).
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia - Connor in Season 3, episode 8 after Abby kisses him. Finally.
  • Praetorian Guard: In the Season 2 finale, Oliver Leek refers to the small army of future predators he's gathered as his "very own Praetorian Guard". Of course, as soon as they're free of his control, they promptly eat him.
  • Precision F-Strike - "You know what I'd forgotten, Helen? Sometimes you can be a real bitch." Not exactly the grade of swear that's often used, but the profanity in this series generally doesn't rise above "Damn it!", so it probably qualifies.
  • Prehistoric Monster - Any prehistoric critter is portrayed as scary as possible, even those which in Real Life would appear cute and harmless. In a series from the 2000s. This trope seems all but abandoned...
    • Averted with the Diictodons, which are considered by quite a few people in the show to be Ugly Cute.
      • And even those caused quite a disaster when they caused a hospital to lose power.
      • Being a nuisance is not the same as being a monster.
    • Also, the show makes it clear that all the prehistoric creatures are animals, not monsters, and even the most dangerous ones are just predators, not evil, and the characters will only kill them if there is absolutely no other option.
  • Put on a Bus - Jenny puts herself on one, Connor's two geeky friends are either Put on a Bus or have a bridge full of prehistoric parasites dropped on them. Either way, they are gone. Until the second episode of the 4th season which features Duncan...as a homeless wreck tracking creature sightings. Yay?
  • Real Life Relative - Abby and Connor's actors are a couple in Real Life (and are slowly inching to it in the show).
    • Lester and Christine are also married in real life. Yep.
      • The best part about the Lester/Christine one is that it was completely unintentional. According to the actress, Belinda Stewart-Wilson: "I had been to a few meetings and at one, the director said, ‘Do you realize that you will be playing opposite Ben Miller? …Do you know Ben Miller at all?’ ‘Well, I AM married to him’." ... Uh, not anymore, apparently... sort of... they're seperated, but not divorced.
  • Redemption Equals Death - Stephen at the end of Season 2.
    • Philip as well at the end of Season 5, though, unlike Stephen's, his was all in vain.
  • Red Shirt - The ARC goes through a few of these.
  • Redshirt Army - Christine's security forces
  • Red Shirt Reporter - Not being smart enough to come in out of a storm is one thing, but not being smart enough to run away from a rampaging Giganotosaurus? Come on!
  • Ret-Gone - Claudia's fate and Helen's plan for humanity
  • Retool - At the end of Season 1 the creators to the opportunity to tweak the casting slightly, give the team a wider scope, and gift them a new base. More slight tweakage occurs in Season 3 where they quietly drop the Claudia/Jenny arc in the wake of Cutter's death.
  • Revenge - Danny's brother was killed by a gremlin. Danny kills the gremlin.
    • Except Danny's brother wasn't killed...
  • Reverse Polarity: How Connor's device works to freeze the anomalies.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Diictodon. Rex, too.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory - Cutter recalling Claudia
  • Roadside Wave - Done to Connor in Season 2, courtesy of a roller coaster.
  • Room Full of Crazy - in episode 4x02, Connor's friend Duncan has been keeping track of creature sightings on a Wall of Crazy in his flat.
  • Rule of Cool - While the show's website (at least the older version of it) and interviews makes it clear that the filmmakers do their homework, they occasionally enlarge the creatures for dramatic purposes (Pristichampsus, for instance, was about ten feet long in real life, but the creators acknowledge that they enlarged it for the show).
    • They had raptors chasing characters who were riding motorbikes through a mall. Rule of Cool indeed.
  • Sacrificial Lamb - Tom Ryan was originally supposed to die at the end of the first episode, in a classic example of this trope. However, the creators liked the actor's job so much that they kept him around until the Season Finale. Douglas Henshall (who plays Cutter) says that he was pushing for the character to be killed in every single episode, and then back again with no explanation.
  • Season Finale
  • Selective Magnetism - The Anomalies tendency to emit magnetic fields as and when the plot requires it.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong - Matt and his father Gideon came from the future to prevent destruction of mankind by stopping the one who is responsible for it
  • Shell Shocked Senior: Season two Cutter has definite elements of this. Comes of being the only one with Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory. It's fully there in season three, after Stephen's death.
  • Shout-Out - The future predators are quite similar to the nightstalker of After Man a Zoology of The Future, which are also blind, flightless futuristic bats. Incidentally. the author of the book, Dougal Dixon, was pretty much of an influence on speculative creature concepts (as Peter Jackson can tell), so its likely that the authors of Primeval got the idea from the book.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal - From the episode 3 of season 1:

 Helen: I offer you the Key to Time. The Key to Time, Nick. And you turn your back on it. Call yourself a scientist!

Cutter: I call myself a human being.

 Helen: You know, I can see why Nick likes you... you're his type, Claudia. Strong, independent, reasonably intelligent...

Claudia: Shall we stick to the point?

  • Stock Dinosaurs - This show actually manages to play this trope totally straight while averting it at the same time; While almost all of the prehistoric creatures to appear are more obscure than those seen in most media, the first actual dinosaurs to appear are the ever-popular raptors.
    • Averted in Season 3 with Giganotosaurus, used instead of T. rex because it's bigger, faster and meaner. Later in the season, a Dracorex shows up.
    • Connor runs down a list of popular dinosaurs they might bump into in S3's finale including T.Rex, Raptors, Spinosaurus and Giganotosaurus. Turns out to be raptors again
    • There are quite a few Stock Not-Dinosaurs used, however. Cases in point: Pteranodon, Smilodon, Mammoth (although not a Woolly Mammoth), and Mosasaurus.
    • Series 5 has been confirmed to feature a T.Rex at some point.
      • It does.
  • Stock Ness Monster - the mosasaur.
    • One of the novels has a Liopleurodon.
  • Stock Scream - Used liberally. Every episode of the first two seasons has a "Wilhelm".
  • String Theory - In Season 3, Nick creates the Matrix, a three-dimensional map that attempts to chart the anomalies across time and space. Later, the team discovers an artifact from the future - referred to, in fact, as the Artefact - which, among other functions, projects a holographic map of all the anomalies encountered by the future ARC.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute - Despite Primeval being an Anyone Can Die this is pretty much averted with the exception of Becker replacing Tom Ryan (this could be a Justified Trope as the role is (para)military minder so you wouldn't expect much variation).
  • Team Pet - Rex
  • Television Geography
  • Temporary Blindness - Claudia
  • Tempting Fate - Done repeatedly, although the stand out moment is Becker hoping that getting to Christine's anomaly is as easy as getting in the unguarded gate. It isn't.
    • Poor Connor seems the victim of this more often than anyone else. The monsters seem to wait on cue for him to say something reassuring.
  • Ten-Minute Retirement - Lester is forced into one of these during Season 3. His return was both a Crowning Moment Of Sarcasm and a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • Terse Talker - The clone of Cutter most likely due to Helen only bothering to teach him the bare minimum to communicate.
  • The Cameo - Nigel Marven, star of Chased By Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Park has a nice cameo... in which he's eaten by a dino.
  • The Charmer - Danny, again.
  • The Danza - Lucy Brown as Claudia Brown
  • The Lancer - Stephen. Abby occasionally slips into this trope, too.
  • The Mole - Connor's girlfriend in Season 2.
  • The Starscream - In Season 2, Helen spends her time playing the Starscream to Leek.
  • They Do: Connor and Abby, and Matt and Emily. UST is now being provided by Becker and Jess.
  • Those Two Guys - Geeky Tom and Duncan
  • Timey-Wimey Ball - Ran into this early on with the Jenny/Claudia thing, but this got lost in the Aborted Arc, so presently the show is remarkably consistent in it's portrayal of Time Travel. You Already Changed the Past, it's just the characters aren't quite aware of this yet.
    • When time travel is explained by such lines as "The creatures are proof that the past exists," you know that nobody knows what's going on.
  • Too Dumb to Live - The reporters from season 3 insisted on filming the Giganotosaurs that was trying to eat them, standing directly in its path and practically begging for it to eat them. Predictably, it does.
    • The girl running from the t-rex in series five should count, since she basically makes all of the wrong decisions when it comes to surviving, but Matt manages to save her.
  • Trapped in Containment - Season 3, episode 5. With The Virus.
  • Tsundere - Jenny Lewis (Type B) is clearly cut from this mould (making her relationship with Cutter the ever popular duo with Belligerent Sexual Tension, albeit cut short by the events in season 3). Abby occasionally acts like this towards Connor.
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex - Season 5, episode 5
  • Uncanceled - Hell, yes!
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee- Subverted, whatever Sarah's plan was to get Danny, Connor and Abby back, it doesn't work and gets her killed offscreen.
  • Villainous Rescue - Helen does this to Claudia once.
  • The Virus - The fungus in S3.


  • Weaksauce Weakness - The future Predators hunt by echolocation and can be confused by loud noises.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist - Helen in Season 3. Her motivation is to stop us from wiping ourselves out with Future Predators, apparently. Shame that when we say "Well-Intentioned Extremist", we really, really mean the "extremist" bit.
    • Philip Burton. He genuinely wants to help the world solve the energy crisis, however he's going to do with a machine that will draw power from Anomalies. Possible side-effects may include accidental creature incursions, temporal paradoxes and The End of the World as We Know It.
  • What Happened to the Mouse? - So, Rex is still hanging around the ARC, but we've not seen a peep out of Diictodons Sid and Nancy.
    • Answered in a later episode. Lester tells Abby they found an anomaly back to Sid and Nancy's time period. No, he didn't. It has been confirmed by the producers that Sid and Nancy are currently "keeping their heads low" in the menagerie along with the Dracorex and the Mammoth.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Quite a few of the extras from season 4 onwards where the show was filmed in Ireland so you get some pretty woeful attempts at English accents. April from season 5 is probably the most glaring example.
  • Where It All Began - The Season 1 finale
  • White-Haired Pretty Girl - Abby. It's actually a very pale blonde.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes? - Sarah really doesn't like insects. Abby isn't too fond of spiders either, and Connor has expressed fear of rats, museums, and a Zombie Apocalypse at different points. He apparently had a phobia of bathrooms for a while, too, but was forced to get over that.
    • Jess hates insects, but she has reason - she's allergic and almost dies in one episode.
  • Wild Card - Helen Cutter
  • Wire Dilemma - Connor says to cut the red one. Cut to a cluster of a dozen red wires. (The Incredibly Obvious Bomb is actually disarmed when Cutter rips out the car battery, depriving the bomb of its power source.)
    • Repeated in 4x06, with Jess trying to defuse Ethan's bomb.
  • The Worf Effect - in the finale, it looks like the Gorgonopsid is heading for this in its battle against the Future Predator. Ultimately averted: in a Crowning Moment of Awesome, the Gorgonopsid catches the Future Predator in its jaws and crushes it to death, last seen carrying it off to nom it.
    • The Gorgonopsid may have avoided it, but the Future Predators have well and truly fallen into it. They often get used simply to make something else scary or awesome.
    • If it is a human threat, then professional soldier Becker will be the one to get beaten up and/or shot to show how dangerous things are.
  • Worm Sign - The Silurian scorpions
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: A particular gift of Helen Cutter and Oliver Leek.
  • You Can Keep Her - Lester tells Helen she can shoot Christine, but since he is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold he was only joking and does tell his men to lower their weapons. It doesn't save Christine from getting chomped to death by a future predator, though.
  • You Can't Fight Fate - As Helen finds out the penalty for trying to is death by Raptor
  • You Already Changed the Past - Helen's grand plan to destroy humanity only contributes to its history
  • You Need to Get Laid - Danny's response to Becker having a "favourite" gun.
    • Also one of the many ways that Cutter tries to blow off Connor in Season 1 Episode 1.
  • Zombie Apocalypse - well, there's two instances that could have turned into full-scale variations: a parasite that spreads through its host biting people and a fungus that spreads incredibly rapidly, turning its host into some kind of...fungoid...thing.

Notes

  1. The Tomorrow People being their weapon against the classic Doctor Who series
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