* ActorAllusion: The episode "Murder In A Minor Key" has [[HardyBoysNancyDrewMysteries Shaun Cassidy]] playing a young college student who turns AmateurSleuth to solve a murder, a callback to Shaun's biggest role of Joe Hardy in the HardyBoysNancyDrewMysteries.
* {{Defictionalization}}: An official series of ''Murder, She Wrote'' novels claiming to be written by Jessica Fletcher "with Donald Bain" started in 1989 and continues to this day.
* HeyItsThatGuy: Recurring guest Harry [=McGraw=] is a lot more recognizable as ''Series/LawAndOrder''[='=]s Lennie Briscoe, and four-year series regular Sheriff Amos Tupper is equally more recognizable as ''Series/HappyDays''[='=] Howard Cunningham. Other well-known guest stars who had later roles:
** Kate Mulgrew of ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' as a RichBitch who killed her husband/lover. [[YouLookFamiliar Twice]].
** Rene Auberjonois of ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' played a murderer. [[YouLookFamiliar And a professor character in one of Jessica's novels]]. [[YouLookFamiliar And also a Southern doctor]].
** Creator/GeorgeTakei of ''Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' played a janitor whose collection of celebrity trash helps Jessica.
** [[StarTrekVoyager Jeri Ryan]] appeared in a later season episode.
** LeslieNielsen appeared twice in two consecutive seasons, first as a captain of a cruise ship on which Jessica was a passenger, and then as a treasure-hunting old friend of Jessica.
** John Astin from '' Series/TheAddamsFamily'' appeared four times. Three times as Harry Pierce, a Cabot Cove resident.
** Kevin Sorbo from ''HerculesTheLegendaryJourneys'' as a VR game designer.
** NeilPatrickHarris from ''WebVideo/DoctorHorriblesSingAlongBlog'' as a young fantasy writer who delivers Jessica's groceries.
** Creator/GeorgeClooney and Julianna Marguiles each appeared on the show, separately, years before their success on ''{{ER}}''.
** Courteney Cox of ''Series/{{Friends}}'' as Jessica's great-niece by marriage, the granddaughter of her late husband Frank's brother.
** William Christopher from ''Series/{{Mash}}'' was a birdwatching enthusiast who turned out to be a cold-blooded murderer.
*** Speaking of ''Series/{{Mash}}'', Larry Linville appeared in two different episodes, the latter as a cop who thought Jessica was a government agent.
*** Wayne Rogers played the recurring role of beleaguered P.I. Charlie Garrett after Jerry Orbach left to join ''Series/LawAndOrder''.3
*** David Ogden Stiers appeared as a Russian cop in one episode, and a radio host in the series finale. He also appeared in a post-finale movie "The Last Free Man" as a southern professor.
** Vicki Lawrence appeared twice, the first being notable as her character was named Phoebe ''[[Series/TheCarolBurnettShow Carroll]]''.
** Claude Akins, best known as Sheriff Lobo ([[NamesTheSame no, not]] [[{{Lobo}} that Lobo]]), played recurring character Ethan Cragg in the first season.
** Eileen Brennan guest stars in "Old Habits Die Hard". [[Film/{{Clue}} As a politician's wife]]. [[spoiler: [[DarkSecret With a secret]]. [[HeKnowsTooMuch And who's willing to kill to protect it]].]]
** "The Murder of Sherlock Holmes": One of the thugs who tries to mug Jessica in the alley is none other than a young [[Film/{{OceansEleven}} Andy Garcia]]!
** Bryan Cranston plays a tennis player who gets blown up in a car in "Menace, Anyone?"
** [[RealTimeWithBillMaher Bill Maher]] shows up twice (as two different characters). Both times with a very impressive [[EightiesHair mullet]].
** Creator/JohnGlover -- twice. Once as an East German musician, and once as a falsely-accused convict looking to find the real murderer.
** JackieEarleHaley (with hair!) plays Billy Willetts in the Season 2 episode "Powder Keg".
** Famed actress Jean Simmons, who some younger viewers might recognize as Norah Satie from ''StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', played a jealous mystery writer in the two parter ''Mirror Mirror on the Wall''.
* IWantYouToMeetAnOldFriendOfMine: Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach were old friends from their days on Broadway. They also worked together in ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast'' as the voices of Mrs. Potts and Lumiere, respectively
* NamesTheSame: "Old Habits Die Hard" has a seemingly-JerkAss boyfriend character named Michael Phelps.
** In "Murder at a Discount", George Segal's character is named [[JanesAddiction Dave Navarro]].
* TechnologyMarchesOn: During the run of the show, Jessica goes from typing manuscripts on a typewriter to using a computer, as reflected in updated opening credits. The final movie shows that Jessica has even begun using a laptop.
** The pilot episode, "The Murder of Sherlock Holmes," becomes an UnintentionalPeriodPiece thanks to this trope. When Jessica encounters the two young thugs in the alley, she threatens to call the police, but one of the thugs points out that it would be impossible for her to do so because ''[[HilariousInHindsight she couldn't possibly have a phone in her purse]]''.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: Jean Stapleton, [[IAmNotSpock better known as]] [[AllInTheFamily Edith Bunker]], was first offered the role of Jessica Fletcher. Stapleton passed - ironically, given that she's on record as being unhappy with her TypeCasting as Edith, and this show likely would have rescued her from that fate. In any event, the producers then offered the role to their second choice, Angela Lansbury, who gratefully accepted.
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