->''"Coded messages, murder -- [[NightmareFuelStationAttendant right up my street]]. It's not a bad way to start the day."''

'''''Inspector Morse''''' was a British DetectiveDrama based on a series of novels by Colin Dexter, which ran from 1987 to 2000. Set among the dreaming spires of {{Ox|bridge}}ford, it starred John Thaw as the grumpy, brilliant and beer-loving Chief Inspector "[[LastNameBasis Inspector]]" Morse, and Kevin Whately as his cheerful [[UsefulNotes/NorthEastEngland Geordie]] sidekick Sgt. Robbie Lewis. During the course of each episode, the pair would investigate a murder, which would often involve complex university politics, bright but emotional students and the opportunity for Morse to utilise his love of [[CulturedBadass classical music, literature and cryptic crossword puzzles]]. Baddies are usually rich, arrogant, and well-connected.

The show was immensely popular in Britain, and John Thaw's portrayal of Morse is generally considered one of British television's most iconic characters. Still repeated fairly frequently on [=ITV3=] in Britain and Creator/{{PBS}} in the United States.

Sergeant Lewis later received his own spin-off in ''Series/{{Lewis}}'', joined by Laura Hobson (Clare Holman) as the only other regular returnee from this series. A {{prequel}}, ''Series/{{Endeavour}}'', set in 1965 and starring Shaun Evans as the young Detective Constable Morse, aired in 2012; it was renewed for a series airing from April 2013.

!!This show provides examples of:
%% Zero Context Example entries are not allowed on the wiki. All such entries have been commented out. Add context before uncommenting.

* AdaptationalAlternateEnding: In the book of ''Last Seen Wearing'', Morse realises that Valerie (the missing schoolgirl) is alive and that he's even spoken to her without realising who she was. But by the time he's worked this out, she's disappeared again. In the TV episode with the same title, he succeeds in returning her to her family.
* AfraidOfBlood: Morse has quite a distaste for gore and won't look at fresh corpses unless he absolutely has to. Being a murder detective, he sometimes does have to.
* AlasPoorVillain: "Deadly Slumber" marks one of the few times Morse shows deep sympathy for the killer. [[spoiler:The killer's young daughter had been rendered brain dead during what should have been a minor surgery thanks to cost-cutting on the part of the clinic which treated her, and the man had taken revenge on the family which owned the clinic. When the AssholeVictim's son calls the killer a monster, Morse bluntly replies that he had been ''made'' monstrous.]]
* AlwaysMurder: Well, 98% Murder, with the remainder being divided between actual suicides and deaths from natural causes. The only true aversion comes in "The Wench Is Dead," in which nobody dies at all in the story's present-day setting, while in the historical segment [[spoiler:Joanna Franks faked her death, and the boat crew had the misfortune to be falsely convicted of her death and executed]]. "Dead on Time" is a borderline case, as there's only one death involved, [[spoiler:and it actually turns out to be an assisted suicide, which is technically still a crime, but only about comparable to manslaughter in terms of punishment]].
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: A pretty literal example occurs in "Masonic Mysteries" when the BigBad tries to murder Morse by setting his flat on fire while he sleeps. After surviving the attempt, Morse finds out that the device that started the fire was concealed in a tape of a notoriously bad version of ''Theatre/TheMagicFlute''. Amusingly, Morse seems more annoyed at the notion of having that recording in his collection than he does the attempt on his life or the near-destruction of his flat.
* AssholeVictim: Quite a few, but the ultimate has to be Ted Brooks in The Daughters of Cain. [[spoiler:His drug dealing led to the death of a student. And then he murdered a tutor who discovered this. And he also beats his wife and his daughter. Oh, and the tv series actually improves on his character from the tv show where his abuse of his step daughter is sexual]]
* AuthorAppeal:
** Colin Dexter's love of crosswords and opera are big parts of Morse's character and important to many of the plotlines. Later on, he got Dexter's type 2 diabetes as well.
** Lewis' love of cricket is definite Author Appeal as well, for both Dexter and Kevin Whately.
* TheBadGuyWins: The murderer in "The Last Enemy" ends up achieving everything he set out to do, with the only thing that went wrong being that Morse eventually caught him. Even then, as Lewis openly acknowledges, there's no way the murderer will ever be charged with anything since [[spoiler:he'll be dead in a few months anyway from cancer]], and any halfway competent lawyer would easily get him off on an insanity plea.
** The murderer in "Deadly Slumber" is implicitly another case, [[spoiler: despite ending up killed himself, as he achieves his revenge on the married doctors whose negligence and fraud resulted in his daughter's brain damage.]].
* BatmanGambit: In "The Day of the Devil", a serial rapist escapes from prison and murders several people [[spoiler:before being shot dead by police. Turns out his female psychiatrist arranged the whole thing -- she convinced him the other members of his gang had betrayed him, but was actually one of his victims who'd been raped by the gang.]]
* BetterManhandleTheMurderWeapon: Happens on quite a few occasions. Even Morse finds himself on the wrong end of this trope in "Masonic Mysteries."
* {{Bowdlerise}}: With the series often being broadcast during the day, this can happen quite heavily. In particular, the initial daytime edit of "Service of all the Dead" was severely chopped up to remove a subplot which involved a ten year old boy being murdered, rendering the end product barely coherent (fortunately, more recent versions of that episode just remove the reveal of the boy's corpse).
* BritishBrevity: While each season is between 3 and 5 episodes long, each episode is an hour and forty minutes!
* CartwrightCurse: Morse has a couple of romantic entanglements across the series, but with the exception of Adele Cecil, none of them lasts longer than a single episode.
* ChivalrousPervert: Morse is very much this in the early novels, but [[CharacterisationMarchesOn less so later on and in the TV version]].
* ChuckCunninghamSyndrome: Grayling Russell vanishes after the third season and, unlike Max, doesn't even get a token explanation as to where she went. The next regular pathologist, Laura Hobson doesn't show up until near the very end of the show's run.
* ClearMyName: In "Masonic Mysteries", the murderer arranges matters so that Morse is found standing over the victim's body with the murder weapon in his hand. Unsurprisingly, he's arrested and has to prove his own innocence.
* ClimbingClimax: In the episode "Service of all the Dead," Morse chases the murderer up a church tower. Note that Morse is not only AfraidOfBlood as noted above, he's also got a serious fear of heights.
* ConMan: In "The Death of the Self," Morse is quick to suspect Russell Clark, a convicted fraudster, of involvement in the murder.
* CoolCar: Morse's red Jaguar Mark II.
* TheCoroner: There were three regular ones -- Max in Series 1 and 2, Grayling Russell in Series 3, and Laura Hobson in the specials -- and a variety of one-off ones in Series 4-7.
* CreatorCameo: Series creator Colin Dexter would make a cameo in every episode.
* DaChief: Chief Superintendent Strange veers into this on occasion... in a very British way, of course.
%%* DangerTakesABackseat
* DarkerAndEdgier:
** Series 1 and 2 featured a lot more in the way of profanity and graphic violence. However, the show's creators greatly toned this down from Series 3 onwards, as it became obvious to ITV that the show performed very well in daytime repeats, and the edits required to broadcast the early episodes before the watershed could be quite severe. Starting with Series 3 (and continuing on into ''Lewis'' and ''Endeavour''), the episode generally didn't require any cuts to be shown in the daytime.
** "Service of All The Dead," even compared to most other episodes of the show. Not only does it have the highest bodycount of any ''Morse'' episode, it also features themes of pedophilia and infanticide -- the latter of which the killer gleefully admits doing ForTheEvulz -- and even has Morse knowingly committing perjury to get the murderer's accomplice off with a lighter prison sentence, simply because he's attracted to her.
* DeathByAdaptation: Mr. Greenaway, the man in the next hospital bed to Morse in "The Wench is Dead". In the book he recovers from his operation; not so in the series.
* DidTheyOrDidntThey: In "Fat Chance", it's hinted that Morse may have spent the night with Emma Pickford. He certainly arrives at the police station in a very good mood the next morning -- and his {{leitmotif}} is played in a major key, for the first time in five years.
* DiegeticSwitch[=/=]LeftTheBackgroundMusicOn: Both are employed throughout the series, usually by way of Morse's love of classical music.
%%* DisconnectedByDeath: In 'The Wolvercote Tongue'.
* DistaffCounterpart:
** Dr. Grayling Russell is loosely this to Morse. While she has a different job and is significantly younger than Morse, she has a similar personality, a love of classical music and opera, and an EmbarrassingFirstName.
** Laura Hobson, on the other hand, was initially more the Distaff Counterpart of Max, due to her much more irreverent attitude to her job and straight-talking nature, although as time went on (and especially in ''Lewis'') she became a much more distinct character.
* DownerEnding:
** ''Dead on Time'' ends with the woman who's apparently the nearest Morse has never had to a true love [[spoiler:turn out to have assisted her husband in killing himself, then tried to use the death to falsely pin a murder charge on her son-in-law, before committing suicide herself]]. The only thing preventing it from being even ''more'' of a downer ending is the fact that Lewis destroyed the tape that confirmed she was involved in the former two actions.
** ''The Remorseful Day''. After the collapse of the only true relationship he's actually had in the series, Morse's health declines throughout the episode, [[spoiler:eventually resulting in him dying of a heart attack. At least he was able to solve the case shortly before he dies.]]
* EmbarrassingFirstName: [[spoiler: Morse]]'s first name is Endeavour, leading Lewis to comment "You poor sod."
* EurekaMoment: Often supplied by a passing comment from Sergeant Lewis.
* EverythingIsOnline: In "Masonic Mysteries", a villain manages to hack the police database, alter Morse's file and frame him... after having taken a single computing course while in prison. However, Lewis does point out that the Internet is only one possible way he did it, and that as a notorious ConMan he may have been able to trick someone into giving him physical access to the system.
* ExtremelyColdCase: In "The Wench Is Dead", Morse is laid up in hospital and passes the time by reinvestigating a murder case from Oxford during the 1860s, which he suspects resulted in three wrongful convictions. (The murder case is fictional, but inspired by a real 1839 case.)
* FamousLastWords: [[spoiler:[[TearJerker "Thank Lewis for me..."]]]]
* FirstNameBasis: Max is never given a surname while on this show, though in ''Endeavour'' his full name is revealed to be Max [=DeBryn=].
* HerosClassicCar: Morse's red Jaguar Mark II, as an iconic element of the show.
* HistoricalInJoke: In "The Daughters of Cain", the Morseverse equivalent of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_Church%2c_Oxford#History Christ Church]] is called "Wolsey College".
* HospitalHottie: In "The Wench is Dead", Morse is quick to note how attractive his nurses are.
* InfantImmortality: Averted in "Dead on Time". We see the death of a baby in a flashback.
* InspectorLestrade: Sergeant Lewis to Morse most of the time. Although in later series he sometimes found the right answer before Morse and even once successfully hid the truth from Morse to spare Morse's feelings.
* IrregularSeries: Became this after the seventh series, running four one-off episodes over the next six years.
* LeadPoliceDetective: Inspector Morse. Offers a variation on the situation where a long-running show passes the torch: Lewis never became Lead Police Detective on ''Inspector Morse'', but he did [[Series/{{Lewis}} get his own show]].
%%* LiteraryAllusionTitle: "The Wench is Dead", "Greeks Bearing Gifts".
* LovelyAssistant: Joanna Franks, the victim in "The Wench is Dead", had previously assisted in her husband's conjuring act.
%%* TheMaster: The Master of Lonsdale College in "Death Is Now My Neighbour" is a very nasty piece of work.
* MentorOccupationalHazard: In extremely compressed form in "Masonic Mysteries": [=MacNutt=] is introduced as Morse's former mentor from when Morse was a sergeant, and promptly becomes the killer's next victim.
* MyBelovedSmother: One of the two murderers in "The Sins of the Fathers" lives with his very overbearing mother. Subverted in that despite her obnoxious behaviour, she isn't actually responsible at all for the murders, and that it was his embittered old grandmother who poisoned his mind at an early age.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: The murderer in "Happy Families" actually says this out loud after it turns out that her accomplice, [[spoiler:Lady Balcombe]], disregarded the warning not to tell her supposed (and emotionally disturbed) long-lost daughter of their relationship, resulting in her being stabbed to death.
* NaughtyBirdwatching: In "The Dead of Jericho", it's discovered that George Jackson spied on the woman whose death sets the plot in motion. She didn't have any curtains, and the window of her bedroom was opposite his house.
* NeverGiveTheCaptainAStraightAnswer: "In Service of all the Dead", after Lewis spots a corpse from the top of a belltower, he tells the exhausted Morse to 'come and see for himself'.
* NeverOneMurder: Generally there are around three or four murders an episode. Sometimes the series plays with this trope, however -- "The Wolvercote Tongue" for instance has one actual murder, one death from natural causes, and one person who [[spoiler:ends up breaking his ''own'' neck while fighting with an angry husband]].
* NeverSuicide: Subverted in that Morse often makes a point of investigating suicides.
* NoNameGiven: Until the third-last episode, Morse was only ever referred to by his rank and/or surname.
* TheNotLoveInterest:
** Morse is too ... ''Morse'' to be exactly paternal, but Lewis still manages to be his MostImportantPerson, to the point that he [[spoiler: leaves a third of his estate to Lewis]] and Lewis finds that one of the few pictures in Morse's house is of himself and Morse in front of Morse's [[CoolCar Jag]].
** The episode 'The Way Through The Woods' features Morse investigating a crime previously investigated by Lewis and Morse's rival DCI Johnson. A lot of the episode plays as if Lewis has returned to Morse after having an affair with Johnson.
* ObviouslyEvil: Played with; characters who ''behave'' in an Obviously Evil manner are generally innocent, but characters who are played by actors well-known for playing villains almost always turn out to be murderers, or at least accomplices.
* OldCopYoungCop: Inspector Morse and Sergeant Lewis.
* OurLawyersAdvisedThisTrope: One episode had to have a particularly embarrassing disclaimer added to the end credits. The story involved Morse investigating a murder in a screwed-up upper-class family, with an extreme AssholeVictim named Sir John Balcombe. Unfortunately, it was realised too late that the AssholeVictim had exactly the same first name, surname, and knightly title as a senior judge, forcing a disclaimer to be read out after the episode explaining that the character had [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial ABSOLUTELY NOTHING]] to do with the real person.
* OvertookTheSeries: Averted by mixing adaptions of the novels with original plots.
* {{Oxbridge}}
* PutOnABus:
** The series' original pathologist, Max is mentioned as having been forced to retire after suffering a stroke between the second and third seasons.
** Adele Cecil, who becomes Morse's girlfriend near the back end of the series, disappears in the final episode with only a brief comment that she had decided to move to Australia and break off their relationship. [[spoiler:It turns out later in the episode that Morse very likely cheated on her with a woman who eventually became the final murder victim he ever investigated]].
** DCI Bell appeared in the first episode as a rival with Morse for the post of Superintendent. He appeared in one other episode supervising Morse's investigation and was not heard from since.
* RaceLift: In the televised version of "The Wench Is Dead", Fiona the nurse is black.
* RoomFullOfCrazy: In 'Masonic Mysteries', the murderer takes pictures of Morse throughout the episode, and pins them up in such a room. In "Fat Chance", one character is obsessed with the idea that all women are harlots, and has dedicated a room to pictures demonstrating this.
* ScarpiaUltimatum: In 'Death Is Now My Neighbour', a female character agrees to sleep with an Oxford Don if he'll give her husband the position of master. Afterward he laughs at her and says [[ILied he never had any intention of making him master]], since the husband had already slept with the don's wife.
* SentencedToDownUnder: In "The Wench Is Dead", Morse is forced to go on sick leave and busies himself by re-investigating a murder case from Oxford during the 1860s, which he suspects resulted in three wrongful convictions. The men were sentenced to hang, but one found religion in prison and became a model inmate. For this his sentence was commuted at the last minute to transportation (presumably to Australia given the time period).
%%* SesquipedalianSmith: [[spoiler: Morse himself]]
* SeriesFauxnale: "The Wench is Dead" was written as being potentially the last episode of the series, as they had exhausted all of Colin Dexter's books. The following year Dexter published the final Morse novel, "The Remorseful Day," which would become the true finale for the TV series a year after that.
* SettingUpdate: The novel series began publication in 1975 with a book set in 1970. It was only to be expected that the TV adaptations from 1987 would update to the then-present day. The effect of the Setting Update only becomes pronounced with the prequel Series/{{Endeavour}}, initially set in 1965 - it follows the TV chronology, so its setting is 20+ years before the original series, not five.
* SignificantAnagram: Constantly. Colin Dexter is a major crossword fan and often included anagrams of important character's names.
* SmallReferencePools: Completely averted due to both Morse and the show's writers having an extensive knowledge of classical music, leading to some obscure references that [[GeniusBonus only a few fans will get]].
%%* SpanishPrisoner: Or in this case, a Russian Bride.
* SpinOff: ''Series/{{Lewis}}'' and ''Series/{{Endeavour}}''.
* TakeThat: Inter-university ribbing variety. Kershaw jokingly compares Nuffield College to a "double-glazing establishment" in "The Wench Is Dead".
* TelevisionGeography: Morse was seemingly able to walk between Oxford landmarks which are in reality several miles apart in a matter of seconds.
* TemporarySubstitute: Lewis isn't in 'The Wench is Dead'; his place is taken by a number of characters, chiefly Constable Kershaw.
* ThisIsWhatTheBuildingWillLookLike: The college that Baydon plans to endow in 'Twilight of the Gods'.
* TwistedEucharist: In the episode "The Day of the Devil", a group of Satanists are performing a Black Mass, only for one of them to be murdered by the VillainOfTheWeek, in costume as the Devil himself. In comparison to the grimness of the rest of the episode, it comes across almost as a comic interlude.
* WhamLine: The penultimate line of the series, delivered to the just-apprehended murderer by Lewis: "[[spoiler:Inspector Morse is DEAD!]]"
* WomenAreWiser: Played straight with Dr. Russell, who is consciously depicted as being much more focused, knowledgeable and sensible compared to her predecessor, Max, and even Morse himself to a certain degree. Defied by the much quirkier Dr. Hobson, who was a bit closer to BunnyEarsLawyer (but only a bit, mind you).
* WrongGenreSavvy: In the very first episode, Morse becomes convinced he is in a modern day retelling of a Greek tragedy. "Sophocles did it."