Bystanders at shooting locations thought that Ben McKenzie had changed careers from acting to law enforcement.
After the first season, NBC renewed the show for a second season but then canceled the show before any episodes were aired, because they thought it was too dark for its time slot.
After NBC suddenly canceled the show after season 1, TNT decided to air the show and immediately decided to renew it for a second season.
Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) carries a standard frame Glock as his service pistol. It is most likely a model 22 chambered in .40 S&W.
The song that is played over the show's opening credits during Seasons 1 and 2 is a brief selection from "Canção do Mar" (Song of the Sea), by the Portuguese singer and songwriter Dulce José Silva Pontes. The piece was also used in the 1996 movie Primal Fear, which was co-written by Southland creator Ann Biderman. A version recorded by British singer Sarah Brightman under the title "Harem" was a crossover hit for Brightman in 2003.
The character of Officer John Cooper (played by Michael Cudlitz) was established as gay in the very first episode, but in such a subtle way that some viewers did not catch it or maintained that he was straight until season 2, when Cooper told Ben that he frequented gay bars.
The LAPD badges worn by the characters have "LOS ANGELES" on the upper banner (above the image of LA City Hall) and the wearer's rank on the lower banner. This is the opposite of the design of actual LAPD badges, to avoid having a prop badge used to impersonate a real police officer.
Southland premiered on NBC as the Thursday night, mid-season replacement for ER which had ended its long run in the spring of 2009. A critical success, Southland was picked up by NBC for the 2009-2010 season. Also in 2009, NBC's agreement with Tonight Show host Jay Leno ended and his 11:35PM time slot was given to Conan O'Brien, a clause that was a part of O'Brien's contract with the network. In a move to keep O'Brien and Leno, NBC created a new, nightly variety show at 10PM for Leno thus Southland lost its Thursday slot. Although Southland was tentatively moved to Saturday night at 10PM and was to premiere in October of 2009, NBC canceled the show before the show aired. TNT promptly picked-up the show and made it a part of its lineup of original programming.
The character played by Victor Alfieri, Victor Cifuentes, shares a name with Jimmy Smits's character from "LA Law" (although Smits's character's last name was spelled slightly differently, they are pronounced the same way).
The book that the shooting victim's sister is reading in the hospital waiting room is Beloved by Toni Morrison (Ben says that he likes the book and read it for a Black Studies class). Beloved was published in 1987 and won the Pulitzer Prize. In 2006, a panel of writers and critics named Beloved the best work of American fiction of the past 25 years. It is one of the most frequently assigned novels in the American secondary and higher education system.
"Southland" executive producer John Wells told interviewer Michael Jensen at afterelton.com that the scene in which the bar that Officer John Cooper visits is revealed to be a gay bar was originally much longer and less subtle, but the first cut of the pilot went seven minutes over, so they had to cut some of that content. Nonetheless, the scene was supposed to establish Cooper as a gay character, a fact that was hotly denied by some viewers until Cooper outed himself to Ben during the show's second season.
In this episode, Lydia and Russell are told that they will not be able to get a rape kit analyzed (and possibly find out who the rapist is) because there is such a large backlog of forensic materials in the lab waiting to be analyzed that some of the waiting cases are over ten years old. This is taken straight from a true scandal of Los Angeles law enforcement: in March 2009, the organization Human Rights Watch released a report revealing that at that time, there was a backlog of over 12,600 untested rape kits in storage facilities; over 450 of those were over 10 years old; and many of those were evidence in cases for which the statute of limitations had expired.
Marla Gibbs, who played Ms. "Grandma" Miller in the episode entitled "Underwater" (24 Jan. 2012), starred in 80s TV sitcom "227," also starring Regina King, who plays Detective Lydia Adams. When Ms. Miller first sees Detective Adams at her door, Miller calls her "Brenda," which was the name of King's character on "227."