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An episode that parodies
or homages Film Noir
, in a series that otherwise doesn't. Will almost always be Deliberately Monochrome
and feature a Private Eye Monologue
, and may contrive a way to get characters into period costume; other noir tropes might or might not appear. In long-running series, often used in the manner of a sorbet, to cleanse the audience's palate after numerous high-octane episodes.
of Something Completely Different
, and arguably a form of Out-of-Genre Experience
Examples of single episodes:
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Anime and Manga
- The Doctor Who story "The Happiness Patrol" was originally going to be a black-and-white noir pastiche called "The Crooked Smile". The comic strip The Deep Hereafter counts though, with the Doctor taking on the persona of a detective investigating the death of a fish person detective in an alien City Noir.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog #52, Sonic stumbles into a noir-themed Zone and has an adventure, complete with muted coloring and casting Sonic and Sally as detective and client respectively.
- In the Bill Nye the Science Guy episode "Archaeology" there's a segment featuring Luna Van Dyke and her detective agency.
- The season 7 Charmed episode "Charmed Noir".
- "Competitive Ecology" in Community is a very, very mundane Film Noir with Chang in the role of a detective.
- The Monk episode "Mr. Monk And The Leper" seemed to have borrowed from Film Noir and even broadcast the episode in black and white.
- The show Radio Active had a noir episode with Morgan as the detective, giving her own Private Eye Monologue. It included a direct riff on To Have and Have Not's famous 'whistle' line.
- The Lois and Clark episode "Fly Hard". Half noir black and white episode paralleling the Superman characters in present day.
- The Smallville episode "Noir". They went full-on noir here — black and white, period costumes, references to noir-era "Superman", and a noir-ish storyline.
- The Moonlighting episode "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice".
- There is a scene in a Sabrina the Teenage Witch episode where she goes to find a detective in the Other Realm. The parody of Film Noir then starts with her entering the detective's office and the detective narrating...who is then revealed to be Roland (a recurring dwarf character whom she dislikes).
- Father Dowling Mysteries had an episode where the case of the week involved a really bad detective story loosely based on Father Dowling and Sister Stephanie, and every now and then, the narrative changed to a black and white film showing the events in the book, which mirrored the actual investigation.
- A subversion in the How I Met Your Mother episode "Of Course": The Teaser plays like this, with Barney on the Private Eye Monologue — but the rest of the episode is in the show's usual style.
- Fringe episode 20 of season 2 ("Brown Betty") combined this with a Musical Episode — that's right, a film noir musical. Justified in that it was a story within a story told by a drugged Walter to Olivia's niece.
- The first season finale of Quantum Leap (1989) called "Play it Again, Seymour" both uses and spoofs noir tropes. Sam is cast as a P.I., in the typical old fashioned office, takes the case of a beautiful bombshell in distress, dances to a 1940s-style band, and leaps into a body that even resembles and dresses like Humphrey Bogart.
- The seventh season Boy Meets World episode As Time Goes By contains a parallel noir universe in Corey and Topanga's closet.
- The Small Wonder episode "Big 'J', Private Eye" had this as Jamie's book report.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Necessary Evil" had Constable Odo using the Private Eye Monologue to parody the Captain's Log, and flashbacks to a murder he investigated while working for the Cardassian occupiers. Interestingly Major Kira turns out to be the Femme Fatale murder.
- Another, far less impressive attempt at Noir by Star Trek is Voyager's "Ex Post Facto".
- The Castle episode "The Blue Butterfly", jumps back and forth between regular Castle, and Castle reading a diary of a 1940s-era P.I., done noir, of course.
- The Bonanza episode "Joe Cartwright, Detective" dealt with Little Joe being reprimanded by Ben and Hoss for his obsession with reading detective novels, but he ultimately finds himself in the middle of a real mystery when he hears a pair of businessmen who are plotting to rob the bank at night when no one is around. When Little Joe tries to tell Hoss about this, Hoss just blows him off, but when he does listen, he just thinks that the businessmen are just doing their typical job. Of course, it's when Hoss and Joe listen in on the businessmen talking about their bank robbery plans that Hoss starts to believe Joe.
- The Warehouse 13 episode "The Big Snag" has Myka and Pete getting trapped in a hard-boiled detective novel that is also an artifact. The episode even has a Special Edition Title with a saxophone version of the theme tune and a sputtering neon sign logo.
- Playhouse Disney's The Book of Pooh did this in "The Case of the Disappeared Donkey," with Tigger as detective "Stripey McSnarl" and doing the monologue bits, at times annoying or confusing the other characters.
Tigger: So you wanna play games, do ya'?
Pooh: Well, I suppose I could play some games. Pooh sticks is very nice. Oh, and so is croquet.
Tigger: He was playing dumb and he was good at it. But not as good as I was.
- The Married... with Children episode "Al Bundy, Shoe Dick", where Al pretends to be a noirish private eye after getting a measly job working as the real detective's janitor and cleaning up his office. He is invited to a private party by a sultry dame who mistakes him for the real deal and where he has to solve an unexpected murder, and the Private Eye Monologueing is roundly spoofed. After solving the mystery it turns out it was All Just a Dream.
- The Sledgehammer episode "Play It Again, Sledge", which specifically spoofs the Humphrey Bogart Sam Spade noir films. After getting suspended Sledge decides to become a private detective, and the Femme Fatale who comes to him for help frames him for the murder of her husband, all the while he's assisted by a Spirit Advisor of Bogart himself.
- "The Big Nap" an episode of Mama's Family where after watching detective movies on TV for a week, Mama dreams she is a private detective hired to find a client's missing mother.
- Doctor Who:
- The serial "The Deadly Assassin" was written as one due to the challenge the script posed - Tom Baker had been begging for a story without a companion he could explain the plot to, and the producer decided to give him just one (in order to prove to him it wouldn't work). The writer was then forced to come up with a new way of having the Doctor tell the story, which naturally led to the idea of him narrating, which he associated with the Private Eye Monologue, and so a one-shot noir story was the obvious genre choice. It's an interesting Pastiche in that the serial uses lots of the tone, storytelling and aesthetic noir tropes, but it avoids the big giveaway garnishes everyone associates with noir, to the point where it's possible to watch the episode without realising what it's doing.
- "The Angels Take Manhattan", both being a mystery episode set in New York with all the accompanying cinematographic effects, and with the central conceit that the Doctor can find out what to do next from a detective novel of the events.
- The Expanded Universe gives us "The Maltese Penguin", an Affectionate Parody where Frobisher's Private Eye Monologue often humorously contradicts what he's actually doing, and the book "The Angel's Kiss by Melody Malone", a really funny detective story written by River Song about her impossibly hot Author Avatar with no small amount of Stylistic Suck.
- Australian rock band The Church managed to have a noir song - "Loveblind" on their album Sometime Anywhere. Starts off with "Have I told you 'bout the case/Of the man who had no face...".
- Gemini Man's song GeminEye from The Megas History Repeating: Red album is a essentially a noir episode, with themes and vocabulary drawn from noir detective stories.
- Dire Straits' spoken-word song "Private Investigations" has noir themes, in addition to being a Private Eye Monologue.
- In-Universe: Sally's science project in Me and My Dick. What we hear about it.
: Well, I was thinking we do a Film Noir
about silver nitrate. You know, AgNO3....(later)
... and it's not until the silver
and the nitrogen
find all three
of the oxygens do they finally solve the case!!!
- Discworld Noir deserves an honorable mention, though it was a video game that was a spinoff from the books.
- Metal Gear Solid 4 had a Noir Level, though it was more a homage to classic Cloak & Dagger spy stories than detective noir.
- The first third of Sam & Max: Freelance Police Episode 303, where Sam doesn't take kindly to Max's brain being stolen.
- That part of the game is entirely about Sam, hard-eyed and heartbroken, drifting around town and interrogating suspects with a variety different methods. One of these methods is 'Noir', which lets loose several overly-dramatic parodies of noir monologues.
Sam: Sure. Hide behind your crates. But one of these days the gutters will overflow, and stain your pretty white socks with the blood of the innocent.
Frankie the Rat: ...Socks? I don't wear socks. I'm a rat!
Sam: And don't you forget it.
- The Spider-Man Noir segments of "Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions".
- The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series has some City Noir elements in its own right, including the trench coat and fedora disguise the turtles wear while in public, but goes full blown private eye tribute in the episode "The Maltese Hamster," with Donatello giving the monologue.
- Phineas and Ferb had an episode in which the two boys were inspired by a Film Noir movie to become private eyes and even applied black and white makeup to themselves. As it progresses, they end up parodying more modern detective shows as well:
"Aren't you a little young to know about all these old detective shows?"
"Yes, yes we... (puts on Sunglasses) are."
- Duckman had one, in which Cornfed took on the role of the hard-boiled detective. (Which he kind of is, anyway.) There were femmes fatales, atmosphere music, fog, black and white, the whole deal.
- The Simpsons episode "Dial N for Nerder", while not done in black and white, uses noir music cues and has scenes which mirror famous noir films, most notably the supermarket scene from Double Indemnity. The A and B plots reflect that, with the former concerning Lisa and Bart's attempts to cover up their involvement with the accidental death of a classmate, while Marge suspects Homer of cheating (on his diet). Homer even wears a fedora and trench coat, and the end credits are in the style of Columbo.
- "The Dad Who Knew Too Little" focuses on Homer hiring a stereotypical noir Private Detective so that he can learn about Lisa. The episode ends with a house-of-mirrors shootout a la The Lady from Shanghai.
- There is an episode of Gargoyles in which Broadway did this, called "The Silver Falcon".
- There's one episode of The Fairly OddParents set in a Film Noir style, which Timmy specifically wished for. It even poked fun at the usual black-and-white visuals, with a corner of Timmy's room still being grayscale after he wished away the Film Noir effect. The end has a Shout-Out to Casablanca.
- The Rugrats episode "Radio Daze" alternated between its normal style and a Film Noir style while parodying the classic film The Maltese Falcon.
- The Pinky and the Brain episode "Brain Noir".
- The show also parodied the famous British Noir The Third Man in "The Third Mouse", a black-and-white episode that trades heavily on Brain's Orson Welles-like voice.
- An episode of, of all things, Captain Planet and the Planeteers. (It's just a story one of the characters is telling.)
- An episode of Samurai Jack about the assassin robot who found a dog and became a trumpet player before being forced back into his old role by Aku.
- The second season Superman: The Animated Series episode "The Late Mr. Kent", which features Superman narrating (in full Private Eye Monologue) the story of how Clark Kent was "murdered" while investigating a death row inmate's wrongful conviction.
- The Venture Bros. had one in season 4, with Hank fancying himself a noir detective. The picture switches to monochrome whenever he puts on his fedora. (it came with a whip! A detective's whip!)
- Recess: "The Girl was Trouble"
- The ''Cars Toon'' "Mater: Private Eye."
- Dan Vs.: "The Catburglar"
- Hey Arnold!: Grandpa's Packard
- Mr. Bogus: "Bogus Private Eye"
- Adventure Time: "B-MO Noire"
- Garfield's Babes and Bullets.
- New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: "Eeyore's Tail Tale"
Examples of recurring "bits":
- The Dixon Hill episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, despite lacking the usually-obligatory black and white.
- The producers originally planned for the holodeck scenes of "The Big Goodbye" to be in black and white but were concerned about how could they justify the holodeck making the real people black and white. However, they seemed to have abandoned this concern by the time that Captain Proton made his debut in Star Trek: Voyager.
- Whose Line Is It Anyway? has a game called Film Noir, in which the players (typically Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie) would narrate for one another.
- The children's show Between the Lions had Sam Spud, Par-Boiled Potato Detective. The bits were frequently a Hurricane of Puns as everything Sam narrated was literally true. The absurdity of it was always lampshaded by a child watching the show, only to be assured by their mother that the show was educational and, thus, should be good for them... somehow.
- In Pibgorn, this is Nat Bustard's signature style, and he often transforms the strip.