Hustle

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The Series 6 Cast.

The con is on...

A British drama show (2004-2012) centered around a group of con artists, who specialise in the Long Con and only con those who deserve it. Highly inspired by The Sting; it's mentioned more than once and almost every con that appeared in the film ends up being played in Hustle at some point.

This show got renewed for a second series only four episodes through its six-episode run due to its popularity.

The show itself is unafraid to con the audience, with the characters having back-up plans and only revealing part of the trick until the end; seemingly random and unrelated moments throughout the episode are revealed to be vitally important. The one thing you can count on is that if you think you know how the con works, you don't.

The fourth series saw a change in the cast; Mickey was busy in Australia "selling the Sydney Opera House", leaving Danny as the (far-more chaotic and improvisational) leader. The fifth man was Billy, a younger and naive short con artist who idolised Danny.

Mickey returns in the fifth series, but with Danny and Stacie in America, Albert in prison, and Billy... unmentioned, Mickey and Ash need to put together a new crew.

Seven series have aired to date; it has been announced that the forthcoming eighth series will be the last.

It has an across the pond counterpart in Leverage, though save for general concept and at least one prominent guest star appearing on both shows, the two shows are unrelated.

Not to be confused with the ESPN original miniseries about Pete "Charlie Hustle" Rose, or the Japanese comedy-oriented Professional Wrestling promotion.

Tropes used in Hustle include:
  • Actor Allusion: In a season eight episode, Jodie Prenger plays a friend of the gang who winds up in hospital after using a dodgy diet product sold by that episode's marks. Before her acting career took off, Prenger won the UK version of The Biggest Loser and subsequently worked as a writer on diet issues.
    • In the final episode it's proposed that the now seven-person team should be called The Magnificent Seven. Albert, played by Robert Vaughn, seems very taken with the idea.
  • The Alleged Steed: The fake racehorse in "Signing Up to Wealth".
  • All Women Love Shoes: Emma
  • And Starring: Robert Vaughn gets credited as "And Robert Vaughn as Albert Stroller" in later series.
  • An Aesop: The ending of series two has all the main characters delivering an aesop to camera; the last ever episode has an extended reprise of this sequence.
  • Animated Credits Opening: Full of Stealth Puns for grifting terminology.
  • Art Shift: Used for exposition scenes. A description of a very old con trick is done via a B&W silent movie, and an explanation of fugu fish preperation is done with anime.
  • Aside Glance: Every main character, on a fairly regular basis, except for Billy (in fact, it happens very rarely in Series 4 at all).
  • Asshole Victim: Who the hustlers generally target, partly to justify their crimes to themselves since otherwise they are in it just for the thrill and the money. Notably they are reluctant to go after the really evil Asshole Victims, like gangsters and killers, purely because they know their normal marks won't chop them to pieces if they get caught out, and not because they think their normal targets deserve it more.
    • Played with when Emma and Sean go after their Disappeared Dad, who vanished when they were kids shortly before their mother died and never showed up again. Sean expects him to be this and had been waiting for years to get back at him; part of his con rests on the idea that his dad (who doesn't recognise them, since they were only kids) will screw him out of a deal. He doesn't, and it never even occurred to him to do so, which leaves Sean shaken. It turned out that he didn't know his wife died and when he found out, he actually did try and find them, to no avail. They are still mad at him, especially since he started another family and didn't tell them what he had done, but they decide not to ruin his new life and only take from him the money they think they are owed in allowance, passing up a chance to rob him of more. He admits to them that he loves and is proud of them before they leave.
  • At the Opera Tonight: Partly invoked at the end of episode 4 of the first series when the team taunt the mark by hiring a larger female opera singer to sing outside the mark's place of business after they con him.
  • Back for the Finale: Stacie. And Danny.
  • Batman Gambit
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: A very common tactic used by the crew, also ( How Mickey gets back to the UK - by pretending to be a naval captain.)
  • Berserk Button: The team only ever take on bad people anyway, but if you do anything to hurt Albert, Eddie, or anyone they care about, they will destroy your life.
  • Big Store: Once an episode.
  • Black and Gray Morality: The marks are sleazebags, but usually on just the right side of the law; the hustlers are criminals whose cons involve making money off the marks, but rarely actually bringing the marks to justice or preventing them from going straight back to whatever they were doing before.
  • Book Ends: The first and last episodes both feature a an extended Breaking the Fourth Wall sequence that goes far beyond an Aside Glance and a Staged Shooting as part of a con Mickey is claiming will be his last before retirement.
  • Boxed Crook: Occasionally tried on the team; usually a very, very bad idea, especially if the cop that tries it does anything illegal or unethical in the process.
  • Break the Haughty: Any Police officer, Customs Official or MI 6 agent who believes they can catch or manipulate Mickey and the gang.
    • Also, Victor Maher is Series 1.
    • Carlton Wood in the last episode of Series 5.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Monologues to camera or, sometimes, two of the characters having a conversation while everyone else is frozen.
    • Also, some Characters wink into the camera (seemingly at the audience) with some ironic smile at certain moments. AKA Aside Glance
    • In the final episode of Series eight, they didn't just break the wall, they took ruddy great sledgehammers to it and reduced it to rubble!
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Ash, Man of a Thousand Voices
  • Brought Down to Normal: Mickey gets scammed when trying to buy a new phone over the Internet, and loses his mojo.
  • Butt Monkey: Eddie, especially in Season 6. They occasionally reward him well for putting up with them, but they constantly con him out of drinks and wreck his business. One wonders why he puts up with them.
    • Justified after the return of Mickey in series 5, as he and Ash are then the owners of Eddie's Bar.
  • The Caper: The season 2 finale, "Eye of the Beholder" has the gang stealing the Crown Jewels though there is a con twist in that they're selling the fake jewels to several buyers.
  • Caper Crew: (original crew) Mickey is the Mastermind, Stacey is the Distraction, Ash is the Hacker, the Gadget Guy, and the Safe Cracker, and the Driver. Danny is the New Kid. Albert and Stacey take turns acting as the Partner in Crime; everyone except Ash takes turns as the Conman.
  • The Casino: "Big Daddy Calling"
  • Celebrity Paradox: One guy mentions the TV show Dr Kildare. Another episode has Richard Chamberlain as a Special Guest.
  • Chained to a Bed
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Billy vanishes without explanation between seasons 4 and 5.
  • Cold Cash: 'Liability' Finch keeps his stash hidden in the freezer.
  • Cold Reading
  • Cool Old Guy: Albert
  • Companion Show: The Real Hustle, which is somewhat stylistically inspired by Hustle: a show that tells viewers about real cons and how to avoid them. Making it a show easy to watch in its own right without watching Hustle.
  • The Con
  • Continuity Nod: Season 8 episode 2 is full of them, including Ash's speech about what great grifters they are, which is mostly a list of previous plotlines; also former recurring character Cyclops puts in his first appearance since season five, and at the end Mickey (jokingly) moots a con involving a fake Mondrian painting, which the original crew already did in season one (he even suggests they use the same forger again).
  • Crime-Time TV
  • Delayed Wire: Final episode of the first series and again in the first episode of the fifth.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Adrian Lester directed an episode of the final series (which resulted in Mickey spending much of the episode locked in a car boot).
  • End of Series Awareness: Seemingly at the end of Series 2, and very much so at the end of the final series.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Occasionally, an in-character version as the team mislead one of their own to get a better reaction; for example in the first episode, a realistic reaction to Mickey being fake-shot in the head can only be guaranteed by Danny not being in the know.
  • Evil Gloating: DCI Lucy Britford. It's not a good idea to gloat about how you're going to catch Mickey Bricks.
  • Expy: One member of a pair of criminals was the spitting image of Moss, right down to the nasal voice and Genius Ditz personality.
  • Fan Service: Every young or middle-aged woman on the show is always dressed up and wearing high heels, with very few exceptions.
  • Fake American: One episode had what may be a triple subversion: they think JW3 is American. He's played by American actor Richard Chamberlain. Then it turns out the character is British, and was a Fake American all along. Then it turns out that he really is American, and was a Fake Brit for a bit.
  • Fake Brit: Parodied - one episode has Albert convinced he can do accents, much to the others' horror.
  • Five-Man Band, but in terms of specific con roles:
    • Danny: Con Man (slick). The youngest member of the group, with a crush on Stacie.
    • Mickey: Con Man (Hustler). The leader of the bunch. Arguably a (Chessmaster)
    • Albert (played by Robert Vaughn): The Roper, and resident Cool Old Guy
    • Stacie: The banker (played by Jaime Murray, who is also in Dexter), occasionally required to Show Some Leg
    • Ash: The Fixer, occasionally providing Mission Control as well. He has a metal plate in his skull and frequently allows himself (off-screen) to get hit by cars so he can get the insurance money.
      • Reworked somewhat in seasons 4, 5 and 6. In 4, Mickey is away in Australia, selling the Sydney Opera House, and Danny takes over his position for the crew's time in the USA, with a young (and forgettable) con artist called Billy replacing him. In 5 and 6, Stacie and Danny (and the single-season Danny-clone from season 4) have been Put on a Bus, and replaced with the Brother-Sister Team of Sean and Emma. The roles remain basically the same, however, with Sean replacing Danny as the young, talented but inexperienced learner, and Emma as the sex appeal/love interest for Mickey. Actually, when Emma and Sean first join the gang she is actually stated to be the "young, talented but inexperienced learner" ("A natural," Albert describes her as, much as he had previously done for Danny) while her kid brother wasn't sure if he even wanted to be a grifter and was more or less the Tagalong Kid. It was later that they slid into their Chick and Team Protege roles, respectively.
  • Flag Bikini: Seen in "And This Little Piggy Had Money" as part of a fantasy the mark has about what his life will be like when he accepts the high-paying job in California that Mickey's crew is offering him.
  • Gag Penis: Ash "Three Socks" Morgan
  • Hanging Judge: Mr Justice Kent, the mark in "Lest Ye Be Judged".
  • Honor Among Thieves
  • Impersonating an Officer: Very common. Can get you free passage from Australia to the UK.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: In "Eye of the Beholder", Ash gets a job on the cleaning crew at the museum so he can scope the place out as part of the team's plan to steal the Crown Jewels.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Occasionally, usually as a Pet the Dog to balance out the protagonists' criminal activities.
  • Karmic Thief: They only con those who deserve it.
  • Kick the Dog: Most marks get at least one moment.
    • Subverted (possibly doubly) in one episode: they're conning a woman who had her husband's dog put to sleep. Then she reveals that it had been hit by a car and was in a lot of pain. However, as most things she "reveals" are in fact lies, this could be one as well.
  • Landmark Sale: The London Eye, the Hollywood Sign and the often mentioned Sydney Opera House con.
  • Laxative Prank: Often used to temporarily incapacitate someone for the purpose of a con.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The first episode of the fifth series sees Mickey and Ash attempting to con a mark who, unknown to them, is actually a fellow conwoman (and her brother) attempting to con them. This is due to Albert's machinations; he claims that he wanted them to team up, and this way they know what the others are capable of.
  • Loveable Rogue: All of the main characters. Pretty much the whole point of the show.
  • The Mark: Of course.
  • Meaningful Name: Mickey Stone is a meticulous planner, while Danny Blue prefers to fly by the sit of his pants.
    • Arguably Albert Stroller being the old guy (though he's not that old).
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison At All: Any time Albert gets incarcerated.
  • Mile-High Club: Danny Blue is a member according to the episode "Gold Mine".
  • Mind Screw: The final minutes of the show's Grand Finale. May border on Gainax Ending.
  • Mock Millionaire: The con often involves one or more members of the crew pretending to be wealthy. Occasionally the mark turns out to be this as well.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Stacie and her successor, Emma.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Throughout season six, Emma keeps referring to Lucy Britford as 'Lucy Bitchface'.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: 'Liability' Finch.

Mickey: Because we're professionals, because we don't like prison and because we don't work with anyone who has 'Liability' in their name!

  • Nice to the Waiter: The marks never are.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: In the first episode of Series 6 the mark is a former banker whose bank was bailed out by the government and he is now retired on a huge pension (part of which the team try to relieve him of) which has outraged the tabloids and public at large. Just like former RBS boss Sir Fred Goodwin.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: A woman described as "posh fit with a hint of mucky" invites Mickey to dinner. It's a Police officer who's intent on sending Mickey down.
  • Not Named in Opening Credits: Guest actors aren't listed in the opening credits anyway, but there was no advance publicity for Marc Warren's appearance in the final episode.
  • Obfuscating Disability: The forger in "Picture Perfect".
  • Office Golf: The mark in "Gold Mine".
  • Parental Abandonment: Sean and Emma - their father walked out when they were little, then their mother died and they went into care.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: In a series 7 episode, where the password to the mark's computer is the name of his dog. It then turns out that this was part of the mark's plan.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Mickey and Emma have a long debate over whether Mickey's term 'stickability' is a real word.
  • Phoney Call: In "Father of the Jewels", Sean is with the mark when he calls Mickey and starts acting like he is talking to nursing home. Mickey is initially confused but quickly figures out that Sean is letting him know that they urgently need to set a nursing home for the next stage of the con.
  • The Plan: Many, many episodes, but Mickey's playing of "Liability" Finch and a Customs officer is a very good example.

DS Terri Hodges: Mickey Stone is unique. He doesn't think like we do. You can't second-guess him. He gives the impression that he's making it all up as he goes along. But everything is planned, precise. He puts together complicated and seemingly unrelated events, impossible to unravel, but all leading to the big con. The higher the stakes, the more he likes it. Just when you think you've got him, you haven't.

  • Positive Discrimination: Almost everyone they con is white. They con an Indian guy, but then realize that he's not that bad and that they've put his entire factory out of work, so they give him money from another con. In another episode, they're conning an African dictator (and obvious Robert Mugabe parallel) but then it turns out that he was Mickey in disguise, and they're actually conning somebody else. Another episode has them conning an Indian sweatshop owner, but he completely reforms himself, so they can't finish the con.
    • They do con a Japanese businessman at the start of one episode, but it's not exactly made clear whether he's particularly bad or not. He certainly doesn't seem it, but then they get conned themselves by his son and his girlfriend. Is that karma or not?
      • His son and his girlfriend? They get conned by their previous mark's employee and his much younger, genius sister. It was actually her master plot to do so, so that they would have enough money to leave the previous mark's harsh employ. To be fair, though, part of the con was the man pretending to be an avenging son. .
    • At the beginning of series 6 they con a rich Arab.
    • So far in series 7 they've conned a woman of mixed race, an Iranian man although it turns out the crew themselves were the marks in this scheme, and a black man.
    • And in season 8 they con a black man again.
  • Power Walk
  • Put on a Bus: Mickey in Season 4, Danny and Stacy in Season 5.
  • Rash Equilibrium: The end of "Picture Perfect".
  • Reverse Mole: While not directly done, the same concept is used in that a random character often turns out to be working with Mickey and the team.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The mark in the first series 6 episode was a banker who had been bailed out and retired on a massive pension.
    • Benny, Ash's old friend in series 7, lost substantial amounts of money betting on England to win the 2010 World Cup.
  • Running Gag: Eddie, the barman, is always falling for short cons from the crew and has never fully been paid for the drinks he's provided.
    • There's also a bit of one regarding Sean not being allowed alcohol, after he gets very drunk during their first score together, and calls Emma, "Sis" in front of the marks.
  • Squib
  • Scary Black Man: Mickey, normally more of a Gentleman Thief, resorts to this to frighten a bank manager in the first episode of series six.
    • There was also the time Mickey beat a man to a bloody pulp with a baseball bat for sleeping with his wife. That was probably quite scary for the other guy.
  • Scoundrel Code: Often referred to as the 'Grifter's Code'.
  • Shaped Like Itself: After a forged wine bottle gets smashed, the grifters simply carry on the con with a second forged bottle, leading to the exchange:

Danny: Why did you make a back-up?
- Beat -
Ash: As a back-up.

  • Sherlock Scan: Part of the art of the cold read. Albert gives a detailed explanation of the process to Danny in "Gold Mine", and Ash explains it to Sean in "Lest Ye Be Judged".
  • Shout-Out: to a number of movies in the Hollywood episode.
  • Show Some Leg: Stacie does this often.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Stacie and then her replacement, Emma.
  • Spanish Prisoner: Oddly, they've yet to do this one, though Danny mentions it in one episode.
    • Now done in the first episode of season seven with four marks at the same time.
  • Spit Take: Albert washes the coffee table with vodka when it's suggested sex is the way to get to the mark in Series 1 Episode 5 and having already met the woman involved he immediately assumes the team expects him to do the deed. Thankfully for him, they don't.
  • Spoiler Opening: subverted in the final episode.
  • Staged Shooting: Used to scare the mark into taking off and not coming back for his money (it's an old con trick, but something of a Fridge Logic moment now days, as even if the mark left the country they would undoubtedly look up on the internet to find out what the police were saying about the non-existent shooting). Subverted on one occasion when the mark got caught up in the emotions of the moment, drew his own firearm and fired a couple of real bullets into the 'victim' as well! Fortunately, he survives.
    • The final episode.
  • Star-Making Role: For Louise Mardenborough in season 7, with her faux-American accent (claiming to be from Minnesota)
  • The Stinger: After the credits on the last episode, Eddie switches off the lights and exits the Bar through the back door which the previous scene implies leads out of the Hustle world back into reality.
  • Stupid Crooks: 'Liability' Finch
  • Stylistic Suck: The eighties gameshow Ding Dong, That's My Song as hosted by Mark Williams' character in series 8 episode 5.
  • That Came Out Wrong: This exchange between Emma and Mickey:

Emma: How would you like it if I drooled over you?
(significant look from Mickey)
Emma: Forget I asked that.

  • Time Stands Still
  • Undercover As Lovers: Mickey and Emma have to pretend to be lovers as part of a con. Sean doesn't realise they are just pretending.
    • Of course, they don't tell him that the whole lovers scheme was Mickey's idea in the first place...
    • Sean and Emma give this vibe in their first episode. It's even commented on by some of the other characters. Eventually they get revealed as brother and sister.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: At least Once an Episode. Generally the only thing about the plan you can guarantee is that it isn't what it looks like.
  • Unsuspectingly Soused: In "New Recruits", Sean gets smashed when the mark spikes his orange juice with vodka.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Carlton Wood and Harry Fielding. £1.5million and counting...

"Arse!!!"

Albert: Nobody does it better.
Ash: Makes me feel sad for the rest.

Eddie: Why don't you just pay your hotel bill like normal people? ... I can't believe I asked that.

  • You Fail Biology Forever: In one episode the gang has to prove Albert is the son of Queen Mother. To do that they switch a sample of her DNA for his. Not only does no one notice that the DNA is identical, they fail to notice it's the wrong sex.
  • You Make Me Sic: Played straight and semi-subverted by Ash and Danny in one episode.

Danny: ... I'll be using three of my favourite words. "Unsubstantiated", "Libelous" and "Court Case".
Ash: "Court Case" is two words.
Danny: Oh yeah? Well I used a bloody hyphen!