L.A. Noire

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"In the Marine Corps, you deal with the chain of command. Mistakes get made, but you deal with 'em. You know what you're fighting for, that you're on the same team. But dealing with corruption is like chasing shadows; you never know whether the guy you're talking to is on the path, or whether it's your partner, or maybe even the Watch Commander. So who do you trust, Cole? I made up my mind a long time ago..."

L.A. Noire is a video game by Rockstar Games and Team Bondi, released on May 17, 2011 in North America and May 20 in Europe. You play as Cole Phelps, a By-The-Book Cop in 1947 Los Angeles, before the freeways and the Dodgers came over. You start out as a beat cop, slowly working your way up the ranks of the LAPD and investigating crimes that range from the lurid to the disgusting to the truly bizarre.

One of L.A. Noire's chief selling points is its use of innovative motion capture technology to digitize the actors' faces and expressions and put them into the game. Rather than serving as a gimmick, this is heavily incorporated into the gameplay; when you talk to people and engage in Perp Sweating, you have to read their facial expressions in order to detect unspoken emotional cues and figure out whether or not they're being honest with you, or if they're lying or hiding something.

Tropes used in L.A. Noire include:
  • Actor Allusion: In "The Consul's Car", Valdez angrily calls Cole a madman. (The actor playing Cole stars in Mad Men.)
  • AKA-47: Averted with most of the guns, since they are long out of production, so the developers could use their real names freely.
  • Adventure Game: The game have been compared quite a lot to old-school adventure titles, especially Police Quest.
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: Cole quotes the line while holding a shrunken head prop.
  • Always Murder: Subverted. One of the most memorable Traffic cases has Cole and Bekowsky investigating a doping allegation and uncovering a pornography ring at a film prop store.
    • Subverted even earlier in the very first Traffic case, when it's discovered the "victim" used pig's blood to commit pseudocide.
    • Played straight on the arson desk when a normally very boring and generally dismissed assignment suddenly becomes very exciting when Cole gets demoted to it.
  • Anachronism Stew: For a game that seems to get everything else so perfect, it's kind of odd that they would put the Intolerance set in the game, which was demolished in 1919. Although this was admittedly intentional, as the creators stated they put it in for a bit of cinematic fun during the conclusion of one of the cases.
    • Another minor example: LA's famous palm trees would have only been at about head height in 1947. The developers intentionally made them taller because they thought it looked cooler.
    • Many of the vehicles and songs in the game are from 1948 or 1949, the most notable being the 1949 Chevrolet Styleline.
    • All the cars in the game have brake lights, a feature that wasn't commercially available until 1952.
    • The jazz pieces from the game's original score are done in a style that wasn't created until the mid-50s, but they just set the mood so well.
    • Also, the term "motherfucker" is used a few times, even though the term was not notably used until the mid-late-1950s.
    • In one case, there is a letter with a ZIP Code on it. ZIP Codes were not introduced until 1963.
    • In one of the Vice cases, gangster Bugsy Siegel is mentioned as if he was still alive, although in reality he was murdered on June 20, 1947, months before the Vice cases take place.
    • In other words, the game designers Did Do the Research, but the Rule of Cool made for a few cases of A Spot Of Weak Anachronism Broth On The Side.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Three of the Arson cases have you playing as Jack Kelso, an insurance investigator-turned-Special D.A. investigator and one of the members of Cole's old Marine Corps unit.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Two of the preorder bonus rewards are suits, and signing up with Rockstars Social Network also nets Cole a flashy set of new clothes.
    • One of the other preorder bonuses is a small searchquest that gets you another suit.
    • Aside from Intuition Points and hidden vehicles, new suits are the main reward for gaining ranks.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Roy Earle gives the eulogy at Cole's funeral, but it's subverted since he's faking it.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Cole doesn't always list a suspect's crimes in ascending order of seriousness, leading to a sometimes exact invocation of this trope.

Cole: Jose Ramos, you are under arrest on suspicion of supply narcotics, resisting arrest, and malicious destruction of LAPD property.

  • Artistic License Military: Marines don't call each other "soldier."
  • Asshole Victim: Everett Gage was a Mean Boss and an anti-Semite.
  • As You Know: The guard at California Fire & Life helpfully tells Kelso where his own office is, for the benefit of the player.
  • The Atoner: Cole, who joined the LAPD to right his past wrongs committed in the Pacific Theater of WW 2. On Okinawa, he ordered a cave full of injured Japanese soldiers and civilians torched with flamethrowers, and had the survivors executed by gunshot. To be fair, Phelps didn't find out until afterwards that it was a hospital post rather than an enemy fortification, and had the survivors put down to end their suffering. Further, he was specifically ordered to blow the cave shut with dynamite, so those people were dead either way.
  • Author Existence Failure: On October 5, 2011, in the wake of an employee working conditions scandal and facing bankruptcy, Team Bondi closed its doors.
  • Bad Liar: Several, though never as much as we'd all like. Frank Morgan has to take the cake, however.
    • Not to mention Oswald Jacobs. He looks like he ate a whole lemon.
  • Badass Bystander: Jack Kelso.
    • Also several characters in the roadside missions. At least thrice, the victims (or some redshirt-clad cops, for that matter) turn on and sometimes even subdue the robbers before Phelps arrives. Once, a criminal's escape from Phelps is cut short when a random guy just punches him flat for running across his lawn. Also, debatably, Monroe's secretary.
  • Bait and Switch: The flashbacks initially appear to set up Jack Kelso as a villain. He isn't.
  • Battle in the Rain: The final case.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: But of course! Sorting through people's nonsense or knowing when they're holding out details on you is an important part of the gameplay. Truth in Television.
  • Berserk Button: Cole apparently has one that likely relates to, naturally, withholding evidence, or corruption. Although most of the time his tough stance during interrogations seems to be controlled, at one point he threatens to break a suspect's jaw in what sounds far from his typical controlled hard-nosed spiel.
    • Said case involved an underage girl being drugged and taken advantage of. It was made fairly clear throughout the case that he was disgusted by the events, which is true of most cops.
    • Cole seems to have one for people bad-mouthing his war buddies, as demonstrated when Roy makes fun of Courtney's death and Cole goes on a rant and says he'll blow Roy's head off if he says anything else about Courtney.
    • Biggs finally snaps with the second incinerated family. He dealt with similar issues in World War I. So did Phelps in World War II, and it was all his fault.
    • Captain Donnelly is the only one who can call Rusty by his real name without rebuke.
    • Earle really doesn't like Elsa speaking "German gibberish" in his presence.
    • When a witness admits that he didn't call in a murder of a woman because he was kissing/fondling her corpse Rusty's immediate reaction was to punch him in the face.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Dr. Harlan Fontaine and Leland Monroe.
  • Big No: Cole starts shouting many of these when The Intolerance set starts to collapse while he's still on it during the Quarter-Moon Murders.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Elsa calls Roy an Untersturmführer. Roy calls it "German gibberish", but in fact it is a hideous insult. Elsa is essentially calling him an "effing Nazi", specifically an officer of the SS.
    • A minor one with Hogeboom, as translated from Dutch it means 'High tree', a reference to Ira's large size.
    • "La" is both the common abbreviation for Los Angeles and the feminine French word for "the" while "noir" is the masculine French word for black. The developers added the extra E to Noire to make it grammatically correct by feminizing the noun.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Cole sacrifices himself to save Elsa and Kelso, but the adultery charges are posthumously dropped and made out to be fraudulent by the department, the Suburban Redevelopment Fund conspiracy is exposed and many of the surviving conspirators are implied to have been brought to justice. Unfortunately, the corrupt police officials who set Cole up in the first place never get theirs.
    • The Homicide desk also ends on one of these. You find and kill the murderer of all the victims, but due to being the half-brother of a powerful federal official, he can never be brought to justice and the identity of the true killer never gets released to the public. Meanwhile, the five innocent men on death row are all acquitted due to the prosecution sabotaging their own cases.
  • Black and Gray Morality: In keeping with the Film Noir mood, no one character is completely devoid of his or her flaws. Not even Cole.
  • Bland-Name Product: Cola King. Averted with the cars, all of which go by their real life make and model. You can also spy other real products (such as Kellogs Corn Flakes) in various places.
  • Book Dumb - Most of the partners are undereducated, especially when compared to the Shakespeare-quoting, Shelley-reading Phelps.
  • By-The-Book Cop: Cole, but he is not afraid to bend the rules if the situation calls for it.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Phelps, in both his role as a Marine Lieutenant and as a police officer he uses both insistent terminology and a by-the-book procedure, refusing to go outside the law. However, in the former example he is a terribly ineffective commander, and the Marines only put up with him because he is their CO. He is however, an excellent police officer and as a result his partners put up with him despite their constant disagreements.
  • But Thou Must!: Even if you screw up every interview, run over a bunch of civilians, and reduce every vehicle you touch to a pile of flaming wreckage, you'll still solve the case and eventually get promoted.
  • Call Back: Remember California Fire and Life, Instaheat, Keystone Films, and Elysian Fields and its "Building a Better California" ads? Yeah, they're gonna be important later on.
  • The Caper: The main story is partially driven by the theft of a large cache of military surplus supplies from a Navy ship by a group of former Marines. Cole becomes directly involved in solving a few minor ones throughout the game.
  • Casting Couch: "The Fallen Idol".
  • Chekhov's Gun: That city freeway project you hear about in the beginning of the game? The Suburban Redevelopment Fund sets up the story's underlining conspiracy in order to get in on the action.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Reading the newspapers littered around the game unlocks cutscenes which reveal the actions of characters who will take prominent roles in the later cases.
    • It's revealed that Ira Hogeboom, who appeared in one of the flashbacks, is the serial arsonist.
    • The very first guy you interview during your first Homicide case turns out to be the Serial Killer responsible for all the subsequent murders you investigate.
    • A minor yet literal example: Felix Navarro is the bus driver in "Manifest Destiny." In "A Polite Invitation", he is one of the Marines Kelso calls to raid Monroe's house.
  • The Conspiracy: Here's how the Suburban Redevelopment Fund scam works: the SRF buys up land that the city plans to repurchase through eminent domain for the new freeway project, burning down the house of anyone who refuses to sell. Then they put up cheap houses using substandard materials to boost the land's value, which will force the city to buy it back from them at a massively inflated price.
  • Cool Car: Duh, it's the '40s!
  • Cool Old Guy: In spades. Fire Chief Lynch, Dr. Carruthers, and Captain Donnelly to name a few.
  • Cowboy Cop: Technically not a cop, but Jack Kelso as a special investigator for the D.A. otherwise fits the role.
  • Da Chief: Possibly several throughout the game as Phelps moves from desk to desk, optionally to the consternation of his superiors depending on the player's interest in collateral damage management in each case.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: If the player wishes to, the entire game can be experienced in full black and white mode to simulate the movies of the 1940s.
  • Detective Patsy: Kelso, in the ultra-rare positive variety.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: When interrogating Ackermann you don't get the musical cues for when ask a question. Because the man is legitimately insane and choice you pick will result in him responding the same.
  • Dirty Communists / Red Scare: It's the late 1940's, which means the Red Scare is starting, and many of the suspects you meet are left-leaning or anarchists, and treated like scum for that very reason. Joseph McCarthy's speeches can be heard on the radio as well.
  • Dirty Cop: Seemingly the entire LAPD, aside from Cole.
  • Dirty Old Man: 52-year old Curtis Benson, for having an affair with a 12-year old girl. When confronted by Kelso, Benson has no qualms about it.
    • Also, Argentinian Consul General Juan Francisco Valdez, who had many sexual liaisons with underage boys and kept explicit records of them in his notebook.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: June Ballard allowed her 15 year old niece to be drugged and raped by Mark Bishop, and made sure all of this was caught on film with Bishop's face in clear view so she could blackmail him later. Why? Because Mark didn't pick June as an actress in one of his upcoming movies.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All of Cole's partners, if you're a reckless driver.
    • Cole also shows a snarky streak during interrogations, especially when he catches the perp smack in the middle of lying.
    • Roy Earle might take the prize for this. When Dr. Stoneman defenestrates himself, Earle's reply is a dry "Didn't see that coming".
      • Upon finding the factory-sealed soup cans full of marijuana at the stash house, Roy remarks, "I'd say that's pretty good value for twelve cents."
  • Defictionalization: Hey kids, you now can get your very own L.A. Noire notebook, now go get cracking on those cases!
  • Development Hell: Beyond the obvious fact that the game took over seven years to make, there's a literal example here. Team Bondi was by all accounts... a shitty place to work. Plus, studio head Brendan McNamara was charitably described as "a tyrant" by most of the workers.
  • Downloadable Content: A lot of it.
    • Note: If you have the complete edition you already have it all.
  • Fan Disservice: Some of the murder cases include naked women laying on the grass, but the rawness of the situation is less than appreciable.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The Player, potentially, and while pursuing fleeing suspects in vehicles, very probably.
  • Driven to Suicide: In one of the street cases, the crazy man who believes the government is attempting to mind-control him and wears a tin-foil hat to 'counteract' the mind control. Also, in The Naked City, Dr. Stoneman after he's found out to be Mr. Henderson under a different name, and right after he seems to be willingly turning himself in.

Stoneman: What have I done? *jumps out of window*

  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Cole Phelps.
  • Drop-Dead Gorgeous: Averted with the naked female victims in the Homicide cases. Most of them have massive blunt force trauma on the head. Played straight by this promotional art, however (however no actual scene occurs in the game, although there is a street crime side mission where a female burglar crashes her car, though hardly as well-dressed).
  • Drugs Are Bad: Most Vice cases tout this. And not only are they bad, they're worse when they're stolen; also averted to a degree during one conversation between Cole and Roy Earle in which Earle states that some amount of illegal drugs on the street is not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Averted. As Cole begins solving more crimes and getting promoted, he starts taking on more high profile cases, until his affair is exposed and he is reassigned to Arson. He gets significantly crappier jobs afterwards.
  • Dummied Out: Reportedly, the game was originally so large that they had to cut out much of the content just to fit the core story cases onto three disks for the Xbox 360. This cut content is supposedly being released as the first batch of DLC. Just to give an idea, as of this writing, 4 Gigs worth of DLC have been released.
    • This is noticeable at several points, such as a throwaway line near the beginning of "A Marriage Made in Heaven" concerning a girl named Anna Rodriguez, which makes no sense unless you play the Play Station 3 version, where the case "The Consul's Car" is included. Also, "The Naked City" explains Bekowsky's sudden promotion to Homicide, as seen at the start of "Manifest Destiny".
      • Further, looking at the case numbers in the official strategy guide, large gaps in the number sequence are noticeable. For instance, the Traffic cases skip from 1 to 3 to 5. Since "The Consul's Car" takes place between "The Driver's Seat" and "A Marriage Made in Heaven", its safe to assume that it's supposed to be Traffic Case #2. The Homicide desk is the only desk with a full case number sequence at the start.
    • The DLC only covers cases cut from the desks that actually made it into the game. The Burglary and "Bunko" (fraud) desks were cut entirely, and although the developers had hinted that the might complete them and release them as DLC, given Team Bondi's liquidation, this possibility now looks highly unlikely. The game hints towards this when you first switch from Traffic to Homicide, subtly by noting a 6 month gap between the two and explicitly when the chief informs the staff that Phelps was promoted from Burglary.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Every single partner you will have as a Detective, which also makes up a good chunk of the supporting cast, appear in the cutscene that preludes Cole's first case on the Traffic desk. His future Homicide partner, Rusty Galloway, is present in the first mission with his current partner at the time, Floyd Rose (who retires later, with Cole taking his place).
    • Cole meets a lush outside a bar while investigating a traffic case who claims to recognize him. He reappears during Cole's funeral.
  • Embarrassing First Name: "Rusty" Galloway has one. It's Finbarr.

Rusty: I don't care if you were clocked in the head, Cole. You don't call me Finbarr.

  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Semi-averted. Engines may catch fire after taking so much damage, but the only thing worse that you can do to a car is pop the wheels off or, during a chase, you can flip them. The part where you'll have to shoot the gasoline barrels in The Fallen Idol and a few other missions played it straight, though.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Guess where it takes place and what genre it is!
  • Exposition Break: Averted, since the game hinges on detective work. Any valuable information you need, you have to find it yourself. The game really only takes control during the intro and closing cutscenes of each case.
  • Expy: Several from L.A. Confidential. Cole Phelps is Edmund Exley. Both are examples of the ambitious, Glory Hound and By-The-Book Cop who have frosty relationships with other detectives. Both rely on their war records (Phelps has a Silver Star and Exley a Distinguished Service Cross from World War II) but both only got medals because they were the Sole Survivor of their respective units because of cowardice and played it up. Captain James Donnelly is Captain Dudley Smith: both of them are Irish Homicide Dicks who belief in administering "rough justice" to perps, although Donnelly doesn't turn out to be the Big Bad, unlike his film companion. Jack Vincennes and Roy Earle are both examples of a Corrupt Cop whom deal with the Hollywood scene, although Earle is a plain Jerkass and Vincennes is a rare sympathetic dirty Cop.
  • Fallen Hero / Turncoat: Everyone sees Cole as one or the other after his affair is made public and he is demoted to the Arson squad.
  • Femme Fatale: Fading middle-aged actress June Ballard qualifies. Julia Randall, the victim from "The Naked City", as well. Elsa is a subversion as her initial appearances set her up as a femme fatale, and she even undergoes interrogation by Phelps, but she ends up being a loyal ally to Phelps, and even stays true to him after flirting with Jack Kelso.
  • Film Noir: One of the main influences on the game. It's called L.A. Noire for a reason.
  • Five-Bad Band: Suburban Redevelopment Fund.
  • Five-Man Band: Formed in the last three Arson cases.
  • Flashed Badge Hijack: A common game mechanic. Made hilarious when Kelso, an insurance investigator can pull this move on cops in a squad car.
  • Forgiveness: A subversion of sorts on Forgiveness Requires Death, as well. Phelps is looking for forgiveness from his unit, who never forgave him for his blunder in Okinawa. When Phelps finally asks his war buddy Kelso if he forgives him, Kelso replies that he'd forgiven him all along. This is followed by Phelps saving Kelso's life in a Heroic Sacrifice, but after he was forgiven.
  • Foreshadowing: When Kelso finds a flamethrower, pictures of his old unit, and maps of the Los Angeles tunnel system when tracking down the serial arsonist.
    • At the beginning of the hobo's interrogation in the fourth homicide case, Cole states that the hobo got his scars from a flamethrower during the war. He also mentioned that the big guys were given flamethrower duty during the war. Throughout the newspaper cutscenes we see the story of a rather large veteran that turns out to be the serial arsonist. Guess what he did during the war.
    • Cole asks the watch commander about the marked map in the Traffic office, and learns about the freeway project that's still in the planning stages. The freeway construction is how Monroe and the other members of The Conspiracy plan to get rich.
    • During "A Slip of the Tongue", Cole mentions he likes blondes. Mrs. Phelps is a brunette...
      • Oddly enough, so is Elsa.
    • Inverted by the cutscene that plays after the closing credits, which sets up the fates of all of Phelps' former soldiers.
  • George Lucas Throwback: To classic film noir.
  • Glory Hound: Phelps gets accused of this, usually from sour cops thinking he has ulterior motives.
    • He was when he joined the Marines.
  • Going by the Matchbook: Used a number of times to find new locations. Inverted when the crime scene is a nightclub and irrelevant matchbooks are scattered throughout the location.
  • Golden Age of Hollywood: Near the tail end of it.
  • Guide Dang It: If you haven't been tracking down LA landmarks, solving the Black Dahlia killer's clues fall under this. You're supposed to use the map to solve them, but the only landmarks that show up are the ones that you've already found. Spend enough time randomly driving around LA during the mission and Phelps will eventually solve the clues himself.
    • Also, in lots of missions, going to some location or interrogating someone at the wrong time will mess up the mission structure, sometimes ending the mission before you got all the clues. This comes without warning and leaves you with lower scores for not guessing what order the developers had in mind.
    • The golden film reels are even worse, because they are often located in obscure locations like in the middle of train tunnels or random playgrounds. Without a guide you almost literally need to cover every street, back alley, and overland area of the game map to find everything.
    • Averted with regards to the "Complete Edition" version of the game, which includes the bonus levels previously released for download which, as a result, are not covered in the officially published game guide.
  • Hat Damage: Hats can still be shot in gunfights as in Red Dead Redemption, but they can now also be knocked off during fistfights.
    • There's even an achievement for managing to keep your hat on during a fistfight.
  • Headbutting Heroes: Cole and Kelso.
  • He Knows Too Much: This is the reason Roy sells out Cole as he knows that if he keeps on moving the ranks, the Suburban Redevelopment Fund and its conspiracy are screwed.
    • It also served to distract the press from the prostitution scandal the Vice Squad brass were mired in at the time.
  • The Hero Dies: This is based on the noir genre, and those stories rarely had a happy ending.
  • Heroic BSOD: Cole breaks down late in the game and suffers several of these.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Cole gives his own life to get Kelso out of the drainage tunnel before it floods.
  • Hide Your Children: Played straight during general gameplay, insofar as children do not appear as regular pedestrians. Averted, though, with child characters appearing in cases. For example:
    • 15-year-old Jessica Hamilton, the rape and attempted murder victim in "The Fallen Idol".
    • You also see Teresa Taraldsen's daughters in "The White Shoe Slaying".
    • In "A Polite Invitation" a naked 12-year-old girl is found in Benson's apartment.
    • And during the Arson cases a couple of families were burned inside their houses. This includes their children, with graphically detailed charred bodies.
    • During the second-to-last war flashback. There were kids in that cave...
    • Cole has two daughters, and you can see them sitting in the front row with Mrs. Phelps at his funeral.
      • In a variation, dog houses are seen throughout the neighborhoods but there are no dogs in the game.
  • Historical Domain Character: Mickey Cohen and Johnny Stompanato. In a Shown Their Work moment, Phelps and Stompanato (a real-life veteran) talk about fighting on Okinawa.
  • Historical In-Joke: "Next you'll be telling me Richard Nixon's a crook!"
    • There's also a joke about 3-D movies never catching on.
  • Homage: A conspiracy involving a burgeoning Los Angeles' infrastructure, with a beat up private investigator solving the case? The game pays heavy homage to Chinatown and The Two Jakes, and even uses a a Suspiciously Similar Song version of Chinatown's score during the incidental music. L.A. Confidential is also referenced.
    • Upon playing as Kelso, the offices of California Fire and Life bear some resemblance to the offices of Pacific All Risk.
    • Some parallels can also be drawn with Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
    • An apologetic serial killer with an origami fascination? Sounds a lot like Heavy Rain.
    • A whole mess of homages to James Ellroy.
    • One of the apartment buildings lists an N Wolfe as one of its tenants.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Kelso fistfighting with 3 mooks.
  • I Am One of Those, Too: During "The Naked City", Henry Arnett lies about having been in the 6th Marines at Okinawa to actual 6th Marine, Cole Phelps. Phelps is understandably unimpressed.
  • I Can't Reach It: Sometimes, combinations of evidence could prove someone to be lying, but the game only allows you to use one to make the accusation.
  • I Love the Dead: Implied with Ferdinand Jamison, who is found kissing a murder victim.
  • Ink Suit Actor: Everyone, due to the face-rendering technology used in the game.
  • Insufferable Genius: Grosvenor McCaffrey is a big one. To a point where he flies into a violent rage towards anyone who outsmarts him.
  • Insult Backfire: Couple of these.

Roy: You and your doofus partner, you have been warned.
Cole: Thanks for your cooperation, Officer.

Cole: Your vast corrupt future is draining away as we speak.
Roy: (laughs) I got better things to do than argue the rub with you.

  • Interface Spoiler: The second you open up your notebook on your first Traffic case, you'll see all the desk to which you'll eventually be assigned, in order. The descriptions for many of the achievements spoil the fact that you play as an Investigator at some point.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: A visibly disturbed Cole says this word for word after shooting Leroy Sabo at the end of "A Marriage Made in Heaven".
  • It Will Never Catch On: During the case "The Consul's Car", Phelps talks to Bekowsky about the U.S. Navy developing 3-D movies.

Bekowsky: That's ridiculous. You'd scare people out of the theater. Who in God's name would want that?

    • Although the game is set prior to the advent of the first 3-D movie craze, which died out quickly, this is also likely a reference to the modern rise of next-generation 3-D movies.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Phelps is a graduate of Stanford.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Surprisingly enough, there's only one usage of it during the game. However, this one usage is Jack Kelso shooting Leland Monroe in the leg, and then stomping on the wound a minute later.
  • Jerkass: Vice Detective Roy Earle. SO much. In fact, Earle as a character is so hated that YouTube has loads of videos featuring people abusing the hell out of him via the righteous application of Car Fu. Of course, because he enjoys the special protection of Story-Driven Invulnerability/Gameplay Ally Immortality, actually managing to kill him results in a Nonstandard Game Over.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rusty Galloway comes across as brash and kind of a dick, constantly spouting misogynistic put-downs about many of the women he encounters. He also appears in some of the incidental dialogue to be a genuinely caring father, and he's remarkably tender with Michelle Moller when he and Cole have to tell her that her mother is dead.
  • Karma Houdini: Roy Earle, Cole's crooked Vice partner who outs Cole's affair to their superiors and the press when his idealism threatens the Vice department's crooked dealings, and works as a bagman for the Suburban Redevelopment Fund cabal, not only gets off scot-free from the whole mess, but even passes himself off as Cole's friend at his funeral, much to Elsa's outrage.
    • Also, it's implied that the Chief of Police manages to escape justice after making a deal with the Assistant D.A. Mickey Cohen also gets off scot free for assassinating most of the Marines involved in the morphine theft. The Mayor is implied to have escape justice with the Chief.
    • There can potentially be a good number of them if you manage to let a few perpetrators go free.
    • The game deals with a Real Life Karma Houdini, the Black Dahlia murderer. Didn't get away with it in the game. He was killed by Cole, but his identity wasn't released because his half-brother was an influential politician.
  • Kill It with Fire: Hogeboom's weapon of choice is a flamethrower.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Hostage situations generally end like this, provided you don't miss. If the timing's right, it may also result in a Curse Cut Short.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Biggs and Kelso.
  • Knight Templar: Just before Cole does his first interrogation at the station, he's advised by the Homicide department's Captain James Donnelly that if he's struggling to get a confession just by questioning the suspect, it's OK to use a little violence. He is also far too happy to send criminals to the gas chamber.
  • Large Ham: Captain James Donnelly and Jermaine Jones, oh so much.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Many of the Marines who steal military-grade morphine from a supply ship and begin selling it on the black market end up getting killed off by rival drug dealers.
  • Law of Conservation of Detail: Deliberately averted. Each crime scene has a number of props lying around that Cole can interact with, but do nothing to advance the case.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: During Captain Donnelly's end-of-case congrats (or indeed his verbal beatdowns, depending on the outcome) he will occasionally glance to the camera, as though he were talking to the player.
  • Left Hanging: Two plot elements seem major but are never connected to the main storyline. One of the first suspects you bust as a patrolman (in the fistfighting tutorial) has a notebook with numbers and Dirty Cop Floyd Rose's name on it. You later take Rose's place in Homicide, but the actual notebook is never explained. Second, the Black Dahlia killer signs one of his bodies "Tex," which you later learn is the nickname of the arsonist, Ira Hogeboom. But that connection (if any) is never explained or commented upon either.
    • It's possible this is down to Rockstar's savage cutting down on the storyline to squeeze the game onto three discs.
  • Lifelines: A non-game show example. When talking to/interrogating people, you can use "intuition points" to eliminate one of the three questioning options (truth, doubt, or lie), or see what other players selected for that option, similar to the trope namer's "50/50" and "ask the audience" options.
  • Los Angeles
  • Made of Iron: Cole Phelps and later Jack Kelso have this through their Regenerating Health due to Gameplay Story Segregation.
    • Also applies to the vehicles, which unlike their GTA counterparts can't actually be blown up (though they can still lose their engines and, in a change, entire tires), and are generally tougher to disable. Justified because to make a car safe at the time, you'd need to build it like a tank.
  • Madness Mantra: "You said the houses would be empty!"
  • Magical Database: R&I is almost never without the ability to find answers for any questions about names, addresses, or histories that Cole asks, no matter how obscure. Even better, they can almost always produce an answer within seconds. This was Lampshaded when GameSpot had a retired LAPD Detective play the game to see if it was accurate - the real R&I obviously had business hours and couldn't be rung up at 2:30 AM, and often took hours or days to get back to you. And this was in the 1980's.
  • Meaningful Name: Looks like Mr Leitvol in fact was the Leitwolf of the whole racket.
  • Mercy Kill: Kelso kills an irretrievably insane Hogeboom.
    • Cole orders his men to do this to the burning Japanese civilians during the final flashback. Courtney Sheldon is also seen scrambling over a ridge to put a wounded marine out of his misery in an earlier one.
  • Moment Killer: Cole Phelps is one in one of the street crime cases.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: The Interrogations, in some instances.
  • Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: Fontaine.
  • More Hero Than Thou: Cole and Jack Kelso briefly have this moment in the sewer over who will boost the other up and out.
  • Name's the Same: Amusingly, this is the second major story-driven action game set in the 1940's/1950's era with a Big Bad named Fontaine.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: During WWII, Phelps' men nicknamed him the "Shadow of Death", due to his penchant for getting his men killed.
  • Narrator All Along: Herschel Biggs. After the opening monologue, you don't even meet him or hear him speak until after you get busted down to Arson, where he and Phelps fight against the corruption Biggs talks about in the opening monologue.
  • The Neidermeyer: Phelps is commonly seen as one by the Marines under his command.
    • And, in one of the flashbacks he gets shot by one of his own men, though he lives.
  • Newsreel: Used to showcase an important story element regarding the Suburban Redevlopment Fund.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers do an excellent job of not talking about the real villain, the Suburban Redevelopment Fund. The trailers also make it seem like the Black Dahlia Killer/Stuart Ackerman is the main antagonist, and the cases are not shown to be split up into desks.
  • Never Found the Body: Cole Phelps...that we can see.
  • Never My Fault: Averted for the most part, but played dead straight for all the wreckage the Player might cause while driving.

Partner: "Jesus, Cole!"
Cole: "I know what I'm doing!"

  • Nice Hat: Considering it's a piece of Noir fiction set in the 40's, just about everyone of importance sports one.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: By having an affair with Elsa, Cole's career heads into a downward spiral...
    • Even more dramatically Cole's leadership during the war is so poor that it winds up two of the main story arcs. Corpsman Courtney Sheldon becomes totally disgusted by Cole's rapid rise through the LAPD that he arranges the US Army ship heist. Cpl. Hogeboom gets PTSD from Cole's order to burn out a cave which turned out to be a hospital, and becomes the firebug that he chases in the Arson desk. And, as noted above, Hogeboom may have also had an unrevealed connection to the Black Dahlia murders, too.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: ...however, Cole's reassignment to arson due to said affair puts him on the trail of the serial arsonist linked to the conspiracy that is the focus of the main plot. Note that his reassignment had been partially carried out by members of the same conspiracy in order to deflect publicity from their corrupt dealings (the police officials involved were trying to distract the press from a prostitution scandal). Thank you, Roy Earle.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Detective Galloway's attitude towards women isn't exactly enlightened.
  • No Dead Body Poops: The coroner will refer to the "usual evacuation smell" while investigating one of the homicide victims' bodies.
  • No Export for You: A free Play Station 3-exclusive DLC Case isn't available outside North America, for the Xbox 360 or the Play Station 3.
  • Notice This: The piano key that plays whenever you approach a piece of evidence.
  • Not Me This Time: Herbert Chapman, a firebug, insists this when you meet up with him during the Arson desk. In true L.A. Noire fashion, the evidence points to him and he violently resists arrest, but later turns out not to be the guy.
  • Officer O'Hara: There are plenty of police officers with Irish surnames, but Capt. Donnelly of the Homicide Desk is Officer O'Hara gone retro. He has a thick (and catchy) Irish accent, calls Phelps "ludd" or "boyo", refers to criminals and the Japanese that Phelps fought against as "heathens", and calls the work at the homicide desk something along the lines of "God's work". Furthermore, he is fond of shouting and drinking on duty. Well, not that no one else is...
  • Off on a Technicality: Donnelly assures Cole this will happen to then innocent men arrested for the Werewolf killings during the Homicide arc.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Jack Kelso gets one in the last two cases, as his shot up left arm never seems to bother him that much.
    • Can also be said of Phelps as well when he takes obvious bullet damage during gunfights but appears to shrug it off.
  • Optional Traffic Laws: You will never get pulled over during the normal course of events, even though you're in a non-marked police car. This is justified if use a car with a siren though (plus, you are playing a cop, after all).
    • Particularly evident during the Jack Kelso cases, since the same applies and Kelso isn't even a cop!
  • Pedo Hunt: One of the Homicide cases has a paroled child sex offender as one of the prime suspects. Despite all of the evidence pointing to the victim's husband as the killer, your captain chews you out if you don't charge the pedophile, and it's impossible to get a perfect rating if you charge the husband. Rusty even lampshades it, saying that while the husband is no threat to anyone else, the pedophile is a constant threat to a local high school and they need to get him off the streets.
    • But it doesn't matter either way, since it turns out neither of them were the real killer.
  • Perp Sweating: A key gameplay feature.
  • Police Procedural: Much of the game is focused on investigating crimes, and will require the player to collect evidence, interrogate suspects, and perform other police work.
  • Politically-Correct History: Mostly averted. Racism and double standards are prevalent, with special hatred directed towards the Japanese and Germans given the war still fresh in everyone's mind. However, Phelps seems to be a man out of his time - he treats women and black people far better then his compatriots, and reflects the attitude of the 21st Century. He also expresses deeper understanding of the Japanese in the war flashbacks.
    • Not to say that there weren't others who supported race/gender equality back then, but if they'd been too vocal about such progressive ideas at the time, they'd most likely have been labeled Communists by everyone else. Berkowski even calls Cole's belief in equality communistic, during some of the incidental conversations.
  • Post Climax Confrontation: The Suburban Redevelopment Fund is deftly derailed by Jack Kelso in the penultimate story. The finale is a matter of hunting down Dr. Fontaine's clueless patsy, rescuing the kidnapped Damsel in Distress in the process.
  • Precision F-Strike: Plenty of these later on in the game.
    • Even early on, Cole gets one during a profile of Hopgood during "The Fallen Idol" case, bringing up the evidence of chloral hydrate:

Cole: A fifteen year old girl told me how she was drugged and molested at a casting house, I found the chloral hydrate in your drinks cabinet. You give me something or I will break your fucking jaw, Hopgood!

    • Cole has one when telling off Roy for speaking ill of the late Courtney.

Cole: "He was a better man than you'll ever know. You say one more thing about him and I WILL BLOW YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF!"

    • Kelso pulls one when Cole has bought him to the police station for interrogation.

Kelso: You pick me up in front of my apartment like a common criminal and expect small talk? Fuck you.

  • Preorder Bonuses: Ranging from suits that affect gameplay to additional cases, depending on who you bought the game from. Rockstar have said they'll eventually put these items up for sale on XBL and PSN, so players won't have to miss anything.
    • A "Complete Edition" of the game was released for Play Station 3 and other platforms in 2011, containing the bonus missions.
  • Private Eye Monologue: During the opening, Biggs.
  • Psycho for Hire: Hogeboom, and as usual for the Trope, he turns on his master.
  • Pun-Based Title: "La noire" is literally "The black" in French.
    • Specifically, how "noire" is the feminine spelling of the word. I see what you did there. Bondi...
  • R-Rated Opening: The first Homicide case immediately opens at the scene of a brutal murder, with the victim, a young, naked girl, sprawled on the street.
  • Real Estate Scam: The Suburban Redevelopment Fund.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: After being accused of adultery, Phelps is banished to the Arson desk. However...
  • Reassignment Backfire: ...this merely puts him on the trail of a serial arsonist and a deeper conspiracy behind it. Note: Made worse/better by the fact that this was done by the same conspiracy in order to distract the media from an impending scandal that would reveal their dealings.
  • Regenerating Health: As you take damage, the sound of a beating heart and a change from color to black and white on the screen will tell you to hide for a few seconds so Cole can shrug off his bullet wounds.
    • This also applies to Kelso though, oddly, not the bullet wound to his arm he suffers near the end of the game.
  • Red Herring: Some of the clues you collect are never used to disprove a lie and there's also the bits of sometimes significant looking detritus you'll find at crime scenes.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Most of Cole's partners are red, and Cole himself is blue.
  • Redshirt Army: The LAPD Patrol Division.
  • Retirony: Averted with Biggs. He's close to retirement but he survives while Phelps dies.
  • Returning War Vet: Phelps and Kelso. Phelps does it of his own accord, Kelso is dragged into it.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Averted with Cole's 1911 and Jack's Browning Hi-Power. Played straight with all the partners.
    • Played straight in order to get the Roscoe and Friends achievement, during the patrol assignment "Armed and Dangerous," Cole has to drop the shotgun he automatically picks up and instead use his service revolver. It's the only time in the game he ever has the opportunity to use it.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The assault on Leland Monroe's mansion.
  • Room Full of Crazy: The arsonist's origami crane room.
  • Rousing Speech: Kelso gives one in the post-credits cutscene, declaring his ethics, an interesting contrast to Phelps who wanted to prove his ethics, but still fell for a Femme Fatale and left his family.
  • Rule of Cool: Aside from all the previously mentioned examples of Anachronism Stew, it rains more often in the game than it does in actual LA, usually for dramatic purposes.
  • Saved From Development Hell: Trailers were running for this game for at least four years before its release, and judging from the increase in "Rockstarisms" in the later trailers, it underwent many design changes.
  • Scare Chord: The sound that plays upon getting an interrogation question wrong.
  • Scenery Porn/Real Place Background: Team Bondi has been able to create a very accurate representation of late 1940s Los Angeles, and it seems that the research and attention to detail has paid off.
    • Here's a fun Game Within a Game: Walk Phelps down some of the real-life streets in the game, and simultaneously have the Google Street View of the same locations up on your phone or laptop. Especially in some of the largely unchanged sections of town (e.g., Hollywood), it's actually rather alarming how much of the architecture is still standing, and how accurate the in-game models of those buildings are.
      • Although, strangely, the reproduction of the Chinese Theatre omits the famous celebrity cement imprints.
  • Semper Fi: Cole was a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps before joining LAPD. Flashbacks are periodically shown involving his service. Many other important characters in the story are also Marine veterans.
  • Serial Killer: Garrett Mason and Ira Hogeboom.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Every character in the game; it's the 1940's. Some of the suits are particularly notable, such as Roy's pink and gray two-tone getup, and Mark Bishop's blood-red affair.
    • A number of different suits for Cole are unlocked as the game progresses, with several of them providing additional abilities.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Cole and Biggs, to a degree. Ira Hogeboom more severely.
  • Shout-Out: In one of the DLC missions, you run into a used car salesman who is a dead ringer for Foghorn Leghorn, talking like him and even directly quoting him at several points.
  • Shown Their Work: Team Bondi used hundreds of photographs and maps of 1947 Los Angeles in order to perfectly re-create the city as it existed then. The first order of business? Getting rid of LA's freeway system.
    • According to this news article, Team Bondi used 180,000 photos to create the map for L.A. Noire.
  • Smug Snake: Too many to list. Roy Earle tops the list, since he never gets any sort of comeuppance.
  • The Stinger: A final flashback after the credits reveals that the theft from the SS Coleridge was motivated in large part by their outrage at their hated lieutenant Cole waltzing into a plum job as a poster boy for the LAPD.
  • Stuffed Into the Fridge: While investigating Tomoko Okamoto's apartment during "Nicholson Electroplating", Phelps and Biggs find a dead body inside the refrigerator.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: The newspapers, and Cole's World War II Flashbacks.
  • Story Overwrite: No matter what car you're currently driving, it gets replaced by your current default police car during important scenes like chases.
  • Thousand Origami Cranes: The opening of a case shows a man in a dark room folding origami cranes amongst many others. Later on, Phelps makes reference to this particular legend when he sees the room.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: In addition to revealing the culprits of several cases, at least one trailer spoils Cole and Elsa's affair.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Some of the commercials and trailers make the game out to be more GTA in the 40s, rather than a slower narrative game in the vein of Heavy Rain.
  • True Crime: All of the criminal cases you investigate are based on real crimes that occurred in 1940s Los Angeles. Additionally, a few cases pit Phelps against notorious real-life L.A. mobster Mickey Cohen.
    • The game provides a fictional solution to the real-life unsolved Black Dahlia case: The murderer is Garrett Mason, a bartender you meet in your first Homicide case who works as a temp at all the bars the murder victims attended. Unfortunately, he also happens to be the half-brother of a powerful federal official, so all the previous suspects are quietly released through a series of department tricks, the truth is covered up, and the original case is left open. Still a Bittersweet Ending though, since you know you've put a stop to his murder spree for good by killing him.
  • True Companions: The Sixth Marines (at least for Kelso).
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Cole has a Type II relationship with most of his partners. But not so much with Earle after he sells Cole out.
  • Waistcoat of Style: The last unlock-able outfit is exactly this, even allowing Cole to take more damage.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the very first tutorial mission, it is heavily implied that Detective Floyd Rose had something to do with the murder, and may have in fact framed the man who ultimately gets arrested for it. Aside from being told that he retires when Cole gets promoted to Homicide, this is never brought up again.
    • Unlike Cole's other partners, Ralph Dunn never shows up again after Cole's initial promotion.
    • In The Naked City, after Henry Arnett is arrested for conspiring in burglary, it's never shown what happens to his girlfriend, Heather, nor is there any mention of her. And that poor assistant to Stoneman...
    • The only SRF members not attending Cole's funeral are the D.A. and the editor of Los Angeles Times. Either they're going to jail like Monroe and Benson or they walk away free from the scandal. Your pick.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Arresting Varley instead of Ryan during The Gas Man results in you being chewed out pretty badly: "How is it you can bring no less than three suspects in to the station and still manage to charge the wrong fucking guy?!"
    • How everyone reacts after Cole's affair with Elsa is revealed to the press.
    • Elsa to Cole about not asking Kelso's help but instead con him into helping them without giving him the opportunity to back out, relying on Kelso's nature to do the right thing.
    • Captain Donnelly will also voice his displeasure should you charge Moller instead of Rooney at the end of The Golden Butterfly.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Your partners will know when you're screwing around with them - like driving off without them or being a bad driver.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Admittedly, the sandbox is not quite as wide open as Rockstar's other games.
  • World War I: Biggs fought in it, and had a particularly disturbing encounter with German flamethrowers during the Battle of Belleau Wood.
  • World War II: Cole is a veteran of it (Okinawa), like most men his age.
  • Wham! Episode: "Manifest Destiny".
    • The newspapers would also count.
  • Wham! Line: Your wife's attorney has pictures of you and the German.
  • World of Buxom: applies to virtually every adult female character due to the way their bodies are animated. In-game this is only acknowledged in the downloaded level "Reefer Madness" (also available in the Complete Edition version) with the appearance of a buxom secretary who flirts with Phelps at the soup factory office (and who is portrayed by a Playboy model).
  • Would Hit a Girl: Roy Earle, misogynist and all around scumbag, smacks Elsa Lichtmann for talking back to him (while she's grieving, no less). Jack Kelso, in a more justified moment, punches out Miss Cansino after she shoots him in the arm.
    • Harlan Fontaine strikes Elsa with a glass ball in an attempt to kill her.
    • Generally averted with regards to the suspects Cole encounters. Although he shoots dead many male suspects, he never lays a hand on any female suspects. A potential exception is in one of the optional street crime missions in which the option exists for Cole to shoot and kill a fleeing female burglar, but the case is failed if this happens.
  • X Meets Y: L.A. Confidential meets Chinatown meets Grand Theft Auto.
  • You are Number 1247: Cole Phelp's badge number, you'll hear it whenever he makes a phone call, which is a lot
  • Younger Than They Look: The 12 year old girl who shows up during one of the final cases has the same body model as two other teenage girls Phelps encountered before that, both of whom were other 15.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Which gave Cole a nasty demotion from Vice to Arson, and put him on the waiting list for a board hearing, since adultery was a crime in 1947.