Series / Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

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Mike and Sully

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is a western TV show starring Jane Seymour as Dr. Michaela "Mike" Quinn, who takes a post as a doctor in a frontier town. As a woman doctor in a post-Civil War time, she often faces prejudice against women being licensed M.D.s. This was part of the reason she moved away from her hometown of Boston in the first place.

Once in the town of Colorado Springs Dr. Quinn becomes one of its prominent citizens, although she still has to fight for her reputation as a doctor. She meets Sully (Joe Lando), a Mountain Man, and Charlotte, a midwife who in the pilot dies and asks Dr. Mike to raise her children. Michaela thus becomes a mother to three children, Matthew, Colleen, and Brian to provide further storyline fuel.

The series was a success for CBS, where it anchored a Saturday night line-up of family friendly shows like Touched by an Angel. However, behind the scenes, Joe Lando's disliked how the show had effectively typecasted him. There were even plans to have his character Killed Off for Real, but a huge protest from the fanbase made this impossible. So there was a compromnise that Sully was to survive, but the actor would be allowed to be absent from several episodes from the last season.

Tropes Featured:

  • Actor IS the Title Character: Jane Seymour IS Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
  • Adorkable: Horace. He's quite awkward, pays Hank just to be able to talk to Myra, and has jitters during his wedding night(not surprising since he's a virgin marrying a prostitute). He's also a pro at telegraphy, making him (more or less) the 19th century equivalent of an IT specialist. He's a nice man and Myra likes him, but other than that he's not seen as extra cute or attractive.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Repeatedly. The townspeople would learn a lesson in one episode (usually about bigotry or superstition), then would fall right back into their old ways in a subsequent episode.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Preston's a Grade-A jerk, but it's hard not to feel sorry for him when you see that his father is one as well, when the opening of his hotel is a disaster—and this happens in front of said father, who he's clearly trying to impress. Then, in the series finale, there's a stock market crash which forces him to abandon all his business ventures and leave town—and for all his flaws, he's never once portrayed as corrupt, so this was an honest mistake on his part.
  • The Alcoholic: Jake struggles with this. As does Grace.
  • All Gays Are Pedophiles: Even the uber-politically correct Mike falls prey to this when she becomes uneasy about Brian's friendship with Walt Whitman after learning that Whitman "prefers the company of men."
  • Ambition Is Evil: Repeatedly played straight with Preston Lodge.
  • Anyone Can Die: Being a medical drama, this is inevitable. Many characters end up dying suddenly and tragically over the course of the show, with one of the worst instances being "Washita".
  • As You Know: Colleen, trying to save Sully from Jake: "He saved your life! Those Indians wanted to kill you when you accidentally shot one of them, and he persuaded them not to. You owe him!"
  • Attractive Bent-Gender:
    • Jake disguises himself as a woman in one episode, and gets taken hostage by two bandits. Both bandits take a shine to "her."
    • In another episode, Dr. Mike disguises herself as a man (more like boy, since she looks so young) in order to participate in a males-only horse race. Despite Sully and Matthew's best efforts, she's still quite attractive. Myra starts flirting with "him" and upon realizing that it's Dr. Mike, helps cover for "him" and tells everyone "He's shy."
  • Babies Ever After: Among many other happy events in the series finale, Grace tells Robert E. that she's pregnant.
  • The Barber: Jake.
  • Bar Brawl: Frequently.
  • Baseball Episode: "Traveling All-Stars". The whole town becomes obsessed with the game, and women have to fight for their right to play as well.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Happens during an episode where staph infection is featured (of course nobody, including Dr. Mike, knew what that was at the time).
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Jake basically falls in Love at First Sight with Theresa, but is reluctant to court her as she's newly widowed and Mexican. Hank of all people basically tells him to stop being an idiot, "It doesn't matter if she's Mexican, it just matters how you feel", but there are still some clashes - her disapproving family nearly puts a halt to things.
  • Book Ends: The series begins with the death of Michaela's father. The second made-for-TV it ends on sees the death of her mother.
  • Boomerang Bigot: In the pilot, Robert E. is initially very insistent upon not wanting a woman doctor. He relents when Dr. Quinn states that out of all of the people in the town, she expected him to know what being treated unfairly was like.
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Averted. Miss Olive's will specifically states that her body actually be buried on the lone prairie rather than carted hither and yon.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Inverted. When Dorothy begins to feel ill, she's certain that she's pregnant. It's Dr. Mike who's bewildered as to how this happened, as Dorothy's husband has been dead for several months. Dorothy shyly admits that when her husband came to town to reconcile with her (she'd left him after he hit her for the umpteenth time), that they did more than just "talk" all night. The inversion is that despite missing her period for several months, she isn't pregnant, she's starting menopause.
  • Character Development: Dorothy is a relatively nice person, but in earlier seasons, she still displays some of the bigotry quite common to the time and place - abhors the idea of Michaela using Native American medicine to treat her son, and disapproving of Grace and Robert E.'s plans to buy a house in town (she does NOT, however, condone the Klan's terrorizing of them, though she does downplay it). By the series' end, Grace is one of her best friends and she's begun a friendship with a hint of romance with Cloud Dancing.
  • Cheerful Child: Brian, much of the time. He tends to be this in contrast with Loren.
  • Circus Episode: An traveling circus comes to town and entices the townspeople to participate.
  • City Mouse: Dr. Mike, who grew up in a posh Boston neighborhood, has some serious adjusting to do when she moves to Colorado Springs.
  • Clip Show: The episodes "Ready Or Not" and "To Have And To Hold", reviewed Sully and Mike's relationship, while "Colleen's Paper", reviewed Dr. Mike's interesting cases.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Or train, rather. When Colleen went off to college, as did her portrayer, Jessica Bowman, her screen time was reduced and she only showed up during holiday breaks from school.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: After Myra shames the entire town for their callous attitude towards the ill Hank, we get a steady stream of people visiting him, urging him to wake up.
  • Culture Clash: A major part of the series, with civilized, forward-thinking Michaela constantly running up against the deeply-ingrained racism, misogyny, bigotry, etc. of a backwoods Western town.
  • Cut Short/Grand Finale: The series was swiftly cancelled after its sixth season, but they had enough lead time to put together a nice enough finale. It ends with Colleen and Andrew's wedding, right before she leaves for medical school. Grace tells Robert E. that she's pregnant with their child. Jake shows Teresa a sketch of a house he plans on building for them. Loren and Dorothy enter into a business arrangement. Preston sells the Chateau.
    • Post Script Made-for-TV Movie: There were two TV movies made after the cancellation. The first movie, unfortunately, was rife with Executive Meddling and such a spectacular blunder that the creator of the show itself pulled her support. CBS realized their mistake and didn't lay a finger on the second movie beyond budget and cast constraints. Chad Allen declined to come back for either of these movies because the first was too removed from the spirit of the original show and the second didn't entice him much after the bitter taste of the first.
  • D-Cup Distress: In the episode 3x12, "Ladies Night, Part 2", Colleen tries to bind her breasts and tells Dr. Quinn, "I don't want them" after receiving inappropriate attention from the boys in town.
  • Daddy's Girl: Michaela was this to her father, becoming a doctor like he was and working with him in his office. All her dialogue makes it obvious that she adored and idolized him. She is not even able to connect with her mother until after her father had died.
  • Dance Party Ending: The Series finale featured Colleen and Andrew's wedding, with the final scene being of all the couple's waltzing at the reception.
  • The Dandy: Preston.
  • Darker and Edgier: The last 1.5 seasons certainly took on a darker tone than the previous seasons, which admittedly had some dark moments of their own.
    • The reverend goes blind and shakes Brian's faith in God in the meantime during the fifth season's Christmas episode.
    • Johnny Cash's character Kid Cole takes a turn for the worst with his consumption and plans to divorce his Real-Life Relative wife. They reconcile at the end, however.
    • Horace attempts suicide after receiving the finalized divorce papers.
    • In the final season, an epidemic hits, killing Colleen's best friend and Dr. Mike's sister, who Loren was romancing at the time. A man who hates all doctors shoots her in her office and the rest of the episode deals with her post-traumatic stress. Sully is almost killed, Dr. Quinn miscarries their second child and Ill Child Anthony dies as a result of kidney failure brought on from being exposed to the aforementioned epidemic, leading his parents to nearly split up. Finally, Preston goes bankrupt and is forced to leverage his inn as collateral.
    • Seasons 3 and 4 had two particular moments as well. In season 3, Custer launches a massacre at Washita, killing the entire Cheyenne tribe save for Cloud Dancing and a baby shielded by a youngling named No Harm. This includes Snow Bird, Cloud Dancing's wife, and left him totally alone, as his son Walks on Cloud died to One Eye in season 2, and his unseen brother also died under unknown circumstances during that same season (which nearly led to him taking on a second wife per their custom). Season 4 sees a rabid racoon infect Brian's beloved puppy, forcing it to be put down. As if that wasn't bad enough, the puppy bites Ingrid and she contracts the rabies, which slowly drives her insane and finally kills her, robbing Matthew of his future wife and causing him to go on a suicidal tear.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The Reverend, of all people. He's revealed to have once been a thief and a gambler when a former cohort shows up in town and threatens to reveal this to the townspeople.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Abigail's ill-fated romance with Sully was utterly despised by Loren, and he even blames his daughter going behind his back and getting married to him as the reason why she died, as a consequence of her disobedience. He took it as far as to shun Sully from his store with a cover-all "No Injuns" decree and try to get even with him, before a life-threatening injury changed his views of the man.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Mike's presumed-dead fiance comes to town using the name of a fellow soldier who died in the prison camp where they were both held.
  • Death of a Child: A baby dies in Mike's care and she notes that this isn't the first time it's happened (others presumably took place offscreen), but she's especially rattled this time, as it's the first infant death since the birth of her own child. Later, Anthony (Grace and Robert E.'s adopted son) dies.
  • December–December Romance:
    • Kid Cole and Sister Ruth
    • Loren's courtship of Dorothy.
    • Loren's flirtation with Mrs. Quinn.
    • Cloud Dancing and Dorothy get paired in the last season.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The attitude of most of the townspeople towards non-whites, women, etc. is pretty much what you would expect for the time period. Even the black Robert E. initially refuses to let Mike tend to his injuries, and Mike herself is at first apprehensive about the Native Americans, having never even seen them before moving to Colorado Springs, as well as uncomfortable about Brian's friendship with Walt Whitman after hearing rumors about Whitman's sexuality. And when she and Andrew discuss it, they mention treatment (obviously unheard of today), which is placement in an asylum (also unheard of today). The issue of corporal punishment is also addressed when Mike complains that the new teacher is abusing the children. But given that this was an accepted practice at the time, the issue is more about if her methods are excessive rather than forbidden.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Dr. Quinn herself. Hank taunts her about being "dead inside". While visiting him while he's comatose, she sadly admits that that's true. Presumably, this was born out of losing her fiance and father. Sully actually has to do a lot of work to get her to let her guard down.
  • Disappeared Dad: Ethan Cooper, Charlotte's husband, heard about a Gold Rush! and got the wild idea to sell the family farm and drag them all to Pikes Peak to strike it rich. When that didn't pan out, he basically ran out on his whole family and found himself a new girlfriend. When he finally comes back after Charlotte's death, Brian and Colleen, who were so young that they didn't remember the rotten thing he did, only good things- and the fact that Charlotte coddled them from that knowledge kept them from learning his true nature until a lot later. But Matthew, who is old enough to see the bigger picture, clearly remembers how he walked on everybody and is seething with anger at his dad. Matthew also tried to hide the truth about Ethan so as not to upset his younger siblings.
    • Jake's father Lucius was a raging alcoholic responsible for neglecting Jake's younger brother and sister to the point he forgot to get a doctor when they were desperately ill, resulting in their deaths. He became so guilty over what he did that he tried to escape the cold reality by finding gold. He also developed Gold Fever like Ethan and left the rest of his family behind, causing his wife Eleanor to become an alcoholic herself who regularly beat Jake with a belt hanging on a ten-penny nail. When Lucius finally wanders back into Jake's life, senile and weakening, Jake takes it as some kind of sick joke that his pop is avoiding the of taking responsibility for what he did. Turns out Lucius really does love Jake and finally found the gold he was looking for.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When the Klan is terrorizing Grace and Robert E., a group of them surround Grace and hold her down while they cut her hair as she sobs hysterically. The scene is very reminiscent of a rape, especially when you remember that black women frequently suffered this ordeal at the hands of white men during this period in time—and the way it's filmed and the way she acts afterwards raises the possibility that this did happen.
  • Dramatic Irony: One episode had the town terrified of the world ending from a meteor. As you know, it didn't.
    • Maude Bray, Loren's wife, died because Dr. Mike ran out heart medication for her. Loren almost died because he refused medical help from Mike, possibly holding it against her.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Michaela is always at odds with many because she's a female doctor. When she first got to Colorado Springs, the townspeople denied her in favor of Jake, who proclaimed himself their equivalent of a doctor, and whose idea of medical treatment borders on torture and ripping out perfectly good teeth.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The entire town calls Timothy Johnson "Reverend." His real name is used very little in the series.
  • Everyone Can See It: The hint dropping for Michaela and Sully begins early in season one. From season one's "Bad Water":
    Olive: You know what I think... I think he's scared to be out there alone with ya.
    Michaela: Oh, why would he be scared of that?
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Brian changes his hairstyle to a slicked back gentlemanly look (he had a similar look once during season 3's Halloween Episode while in costume) as opposed to a boyish bowl cut for the sake of making himself look older and more refined in season 4's Christmas Episode when he tries to impress a girl, even when his family thinks he doesn't need to. He keeps the hairstyle afterwards. The results of his new hairdo are actually quite great.
    • Colleen wears her hair up more and more often as she gets older, as was customary for women of the time.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Zig-zagged with various characters during the series. Dr. Quinn herself, along with other attributes considered to be unfeminine at the time (like obtaining a medical degree), cannot cook to save her life. Colleen, who is considered more feminine but wants to become a doctor, can cook and does most of the household cooking. Grace, who started out as one of Olive's cattle hands, cooks well and eventually opens up her own cafe.
    • Justified with Dr. Quinn - she grew up wealthy and like most wealthy women of that time, she had servants who did everything for her and probably never learned how to cook - notice she is quite inept at other household chores as well.
  • Fish out of Water: Mike's first few months in Colorado Springs see her all dressed up in dapper city clothes like she's still in Boston and wondering why everyone is practically thumbing their nose at her. Charlotte helps her to acclimated and she tones down her outfits to more conservative and plain dress, after it becomes clear that Mike's Sunday clothes are a tad ritzy for church compared to everyone else's. That, and those dresses keep getting soiled in the mud because the roads are unpaved they're too low to the ground. Mike ends up tripping and face-planting a few times, which causes her to stop wearing them as her everyday clothes and only bust them out for special occasions and trips.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: One episode revolved around these. Horace sued Hank for punching him and breaking his nose, and Loren sued Preston for injuries sustained after slipping into a hot spring at Preston's resort (though in Loren's case, he was faking injury just to get back at Preston). It initiated a tidal wave of lawsuit fever in Colorado Springs.
  • Foreshadowing: In season 3, Cloud Dancing and Snow Bird have decided to have another child after the loss of their son, Walks on Cloud. However, Snow Bird miscarries due to malnutrition brought because the Army won't send the Cheyenne proper supplies. The fact that her child dies leaves no prominent role for Snow Bird to play in the story beyond being a wife... opening the plot up to kill her off in the tragic two-parter "Washita".
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Done pretty often, and probably necessary, given that this was a family show airing at 8PM.
    • After rescuing Mike from the gang of dog soldiers who kidnapped her, Sully gently asks if they "hurt" her. Just as gently, and much to his relief, she tells him "no". Their tones and his reaction indicate that he was actually asking if they'd raped her, especially since "hurt" was often used as a euphemism for "rape" back in those days.
    • Horace complains about "losing the mood" when his and Myra's romantic evening is interrupted. The Reverend assures him that "all men lose the mood sometimes". Three guesses what they're really talking about . . .
    • In the first episode, Myra asks to see Dr. Mike about a "female problem". After treating her, Mike advises Hank that Myra needs to be "chaste" for several weeks. When Hank complains about the loss of revenue, Mike warns him that he'll lose a lot more if she has to end up treating his customers as well, thus heavily implying that Myra has contracted an STD.
    • Another STD plot, when Hank points out to Mike that her sister Marjorie is ill, citing her fevers and headaches. "I've seen it in my girls plenty of times. That husband left her with more than a broken heart". The symptoms coupled with the knowledge that her sister's husband was frequently unfaithful to her leads Mike to realize what the problem is.
    • Marjorie again, when she and Loren become lovers without being married—a major taboo in those days. Nothing is ever shown or explicitly described, but certain people's disapproval—her mother—make it obvious. Dr. Mike herself warns Colleen against being "in love without being married."
    • Probably the most famous case, Colleen gets involved in juvenile delinquency because Mike is too busy thinking about all of the hot sex she and Sully have been having since they got married, now that she's legally and socially able to have sex.
      • From that same episode, a scene with the women sitting around in their quilting circle, all admitting that they find marriage very "agreeable". The translation being that they enjoy sex, quite a shocking attitude for women of that time.
  • Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: Dorothy is an older woman but she's still very much admired. Much younger Jake Slicker likes her a lot and initiates a May-December Romance with her. note  Loren tried to court her and start a relationship with her as well, though he could remember her as a young woman from their youth. At the end of the series, she's romantically pursued by Cloud Dancing.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Sully whenever he ditches the buckskins for a nice suit, particularly when he's in Boston. Not that there's anything wrong with the buckskins, of course.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Black Kettle, General Custer, Walt Whitman, and a few other historical figures show up in the series.
  • Hollywood Costuming: Though not as bad as some.
  • Hollywood History: The historical consultant stopped showing up when it was clear they weren't really listening to her.
    • Sully is a Mountain Man, though the fur trade, and the mountain men who made it possible, had disappeared decades before the setting of the show. There were still some former mountain men around (such as Kit Carson and Jim Bridger), and a few stragglers WAY out in the wilderness, but they were at least a generation older than Sully. Sully dresses like a Mountain man but in actuality he lives and works with the local Native Tribe rather than trapping or trading. Once he and Mike get married he's actually a farmer mostly.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Most of the prostitutes fall into this category, most prominently Myra and later Emma.
  • Hot Springs Episode: They had one when Preston decided to open a spa in his hotel resort. He thought he found a gold mine and an attraction for tourists, but it was most enjoyed by local ladies who went and enjoyed a bath, mostly just to mess with him a bit.
  • How Many Fingers?:
    Dr. Quinn: Horace, are you all right?
    Jake: How many fingers?
    Horace: Chocolate.
    Dr. Quinn: I think he's finished for the day.
  • Humans Are White: Subverted; the blacksmith and local restaurateur are both black and have to deal with the expected racism. There is also a Mexican schoolteacher in the later seasons. Black cowboys come through town with the cattle drives, too, as well as Asian men with the building of the railroad. There is an Indian reservation and black ghetto-like colony not far away from the town.
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: Horace and Myra, once they get over their anxiety. Dr. Mike and Sully too.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Hank is the local purveyor of whores and booze, a racist, and a bigot, but he occasionally goes out of his way to help someone or show that he cares; i.e. when he comes to Myra and Horace's wedding. He's also one of the few people who doesn't shun the Jewish family who comes to town (he reveals that a group of Jews once saved his life). And despite his frequent clashes with Mike, he completely freaks out when she's shot—but handles like a pro, immediately rushing to get her help and putting pressure on the wound so that she doesn't bleed out.
    • To add to Hank's redeemable moments, we find out at the end of Season 1 that he has an autistic son, the progeny of one of his "girls." Unfortunately, that woman died, and it left Hank with terrible heartbreak because he actually loved her. Any time someone mocks his son's intelligence, it gets him angry enough to threaten them with bodily harm, even including Loren. He helps send the gifted boy to art school.
    • To add another, Hank physically assaults Preston after hearing him speak about Mike in a less than polite fashion.
    • Loren definitely fits into this category.
    • Jake starts as this but softens a bit with Character Development. Though he still shows his Jerk Ass side from time to time.
  • Last-Name Basis: Everyone calls Sully by his last name - even his love interest, (and later wife) and their children! His full name is Byron Sully, but he appears to have abandoned his given name around the time he deserted the army.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Dr. Mike fears she's too old for she and Sully to have a baby, realizing that she hasn't conceived after months of she and Sully being Insatiable Newlyweds. She visits another doctor for an evaluation - who determines that she's pregnant.
    • In the series finale, Grace tells Robert E. that she's pregnant, despite years of her not conceiving along with failed attempts at adoption.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Besides Dr. Mike, Sully, and the Cooper children, the show featured well over 20 townsfolk, relatives, and recurring guest characters. Most of these characters had A Day in the Limelight at least once.
  • The Lost Lenore: Sully's wife Abigail, who died, along with their daughter, in childbirth. And Dr. Mike's fiance David, who she thought was killed in the Civil War, only to have him resurface years later.
  • May–December Romance:
    • Loren and Mike's sister Marjorie (the two actors are married in Real Life).
    • Jake and Dorothy could count as well.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Sully. Oh, Sully. Shirtless and bathing scenes... More please.
  • Never Learned to Read: Like the "dissonance" entry, a handful of townspeople are revealed to be illiterate - Jake, Hank, Myra (though she learns at some point, presumably, Horace taught her), and the children's father (Matthew knows that a "Dear John" letter that he supposedly wrote to the children is fake because he knows his father can't read or write).
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Colleen gets hers and is frightened and confused as neither her real mother nor Dr.Quinn have explained it to her, since her mother died before she could give Colleen "the talk" and Dr. Quinn assumed she was too young to have started; when she brings this point up, Dr. Quinn's mother(who is visiting) has to gently remind Dr. Quinn that Dr. Quinn herself was Colleen's age when she got her first period. In another episode, Dorothy's stops and she thinks she's pregnant when she's in fact beginning menopause. And toward the end of the series, Colleen suffers more menstrual trauma when she skips a period and worries that Dr. Quinn would think she was pregnant; turns out her cycle was being affected by stress as she studied for her medical school entrance exams.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: Loren often finds himself cleaning up his language whenever Brian is around. One episode had Loren telling some friends about a burlesque house where the girls lift up their...voices! To sing so beautifully!
  • Not So Different: The townspeople disapprove when Dorothy begins a friendship with Cloud Dancing when she decides to write a book about him. When she visits him on the reservation to apologize for standing him up (intimidated by the heckling), he admits that his tribesmen don't like it either. Dorothy turns and sees the men glaring at them with virtually the same scornful, nasty looks that the townspeople have.
    Dorothy: Then you understand.
    Cloud Dancing: That we both live among people who are foolish?
    • Cloud Dancing himself had moments where he displayed a lot of the "they're all the same" attitude towards whites that whites treated the Native Americans with.
  • Old Maid: Dr. Mike refers to herself as this, with her 35th birthday looming and no husband in sight.
  • Perspective Reversal: It might look like this show had this at first glance. Sully is generally much more progressive than most of the other men in town about almost every issue: ethnical minorities, women's rights, controversial books in the new town library, the theory of evolution, homosexuality... But when it comes to the railway and other building projects, Sully is the one fighting "progress" and the other men are supporting it. It becomes a subverted case though: Sully has good reasons to dislike that kind of "progress", because he knows how this would affect the local Cheyennes, all the animals in the nearby forest and the nature scenes. Which would have been a radical viewpoint in the 1860s/1870s. The other men on the other hand will only want to make a quick profit, and will not care too much about if other values could be lost. So it means that Sully still is the progressive one and the other men the more conservative ones.
  • Picnic Episode: The characters often enjoyed their meals outdoors, for example after the Sunday masses in the meadow near the church.
  • Posthumous Character: Abigail and Anthony Quinn. The ghost of Abigail, however, shows up in season 2's Halloween Episode.
  • Promotion to Parent: Charlotte Cooper dies shortly after Michaela's arrival in Colorado and asks her to be a mother to her three children.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Dr. Quinn is always right and the narrative is ALWAYS on her side, portraying any nay-sayers as total idiots even if they're partially or totally right.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Put on a Bus: Myra. The Bus Came Back in the final season.
  • Race for Your Love: When Mike returns to Boston to visit her ailing mother, Sully becomes concerned about how long she's been gone and ventures to Boston himself to find her. When he decides to leave, feeling that he can't compete with he renewed love for her hometown and her burgeoning feelings for a handsome physician, this time it's she who races to the train station to stop him from leaving. It's then flipped around in that it's he, the one who's leaving who declares his love - and then leaves anyway when she can't return the sentiment (not yet)
  • Radish Cure: Loren does this when a boy keeps stealing his cigars. He finally tells the boy he can have them- as long as he smokes them all in the store, in one sitting.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Hank goads Mike into giving him one—by giving her one.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: An episode that had Dr. Mike campaigning for a girl to be taken away from her abusive father and finding a loophole to have her declared as an animal and him charged with animal cruelty is based on the case of Mary Ellen Wilson.
  • The Savage Indian: Deconstructed with the Native American population living in the same area as the townsfolk. Most of the Cheyenne are peaceful people mistreated and exploited by the townsfolk and the army, but are portrayed by those exploiting them as savages. However, the view held by the settlers is not entirely unfounded; the Dog Soldiers, a fringe group of renegade youth within the Cheyenne, do act in aggressive, hostile, violent ways - including kidnapping Dr. Mike. However, the show breaks down the Dog Soldier's motivations - mostly anger towards the atrocities suffered by the Cheyenne as the result of the army and frustration with the elder Cheyenne for taking a more passive stance towards them, and on the whole, agrees with the motives, if not the actions taken by this group. On the flip side, the army is portrayed in possibly the worst light ever; if they are on screen, it's never for positive reasons.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Dr. Quinn runs into one such senior (a nudist) in season one's "Cowboy Lullaby."
    Dr. Quinn: May I ask you a question? Why don't you have clothes on?
    Old man: I'm 73 years old. And I figure I'd do as I damn well please.
  • Second Love: Both Sully and Michaela are this for each other; Sully had been married before and lost his wife and baby in childbirth. Michaela was engaged to a Civil War soldier believed to have died in battle.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: The bickering Loren and Marjorie kiss. Cut to the next morning, with a jubilant Loren coming out onto the porch, with Marjorie coming out soon after, fixing her hair, in the same dress she was wearing the day before, making it clear what happened.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Dorothy's son, though he doesn't appear to be this until his addiction to morphine gradually comes to light. Also, Mike's presumed-dead fiance, who reveals that he was held prisoner in Andersonville, a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp with such dreadful conditions that nearly one third of its inmates died. She's horrified when he tells her this, but he refuses to go into any details - "I don't want to talk about that now", thus hinting to the viewer that his time there was particularly traumatic.
  • Special Guest: In his only television performance as a fictional character, Fred Rogers, a fan of the show, guest starred as "Reverend Thomas."
  • Stern Teacher: Louise Chambers from "Just One Lullaby," season two. She's a competent teacher but regularly uses corporal punishment on her students, so much that they require medical treatment. She almost crosses the line into full Sadist Teacher, but leaves town before that can happen.
  • Super Doc: Dr. Michaela Quinn. She was a general practiotioner, diagnostician, , surgeon, gynaecologist, obstetrician, paediatrician, epidemiologist, ophthalmologist,... Justified as she is a Frontier Doctor and the only physician in the area. Among the most amazing things she did was sucessfully performing a brain surgery on a child (to be fair, she tried to get a specialist) and a complicated reconstructive plastic surgery. She was often shown studying books and preparing thoroughly for more complicated procedures.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • Loren's sister Olive abruptly disappears between seasons without any explanation (although several years later, we learn she moved even further out west). In her place, Loren's sister-in-law (whom he had a romance with before marrying her sister) comes to town, fleeing an abusive husband and assumes the same role as Olive had as Mike's friend and confidante.
    • Emma for Myra, as they're both cut from the same Hooker with a Heart of Gold mold.
    • Cloud Dancing was not the first character Larry Sellers played. In the pilot, he played Black Hawk, named in the credits only. Because of the way the show got remodeled after the pilot and the fact he was not named onscreen, his character was essentially retconned into Cloud Dancing.
  • The Talk:
    • Sully awkwardly tries to give one to Matthew when he begins courting immigrant girl Ingrid.
    • Dr. Mike attempts to give one to Brian by reading him an anatomy textbook
    • And with her wedding night looming, the virginal Dr. Mike needs one herself from the more experienced Dorothy.
  • That Old-Time Prescription: Michaela was always prescribing willow bark tea.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Dr. Quinn frequently needs to remind people to address her as "Dr." instead of "Miss", several of whom deliberately call her "Miss" in an effort to needle her and demonstrate their lack of respect.
  • Token Minority Couple: Robert E. was the town's sole black resident, until Grace came to town and they fell in Love at First Sight.
  • Tomboyish Name: The writers felt it was necessary to explain why the townspeople accept the woman who is coming to be their doctor: they thought she was a man. Communication being what it was, her name was telegraphed to them, as telegraphs were, with no spaces, upper and lower cases, or punctuation. They're expecting "Michael A. Quinn." If her name had been Alice, or something, the viewer is meant to presume they would have cabled back saying "Forget it."
    • In fact, this is one of the very first things we learn at the start of the show. Her father was expecting a boy after four girls, and he intended to name her Michael. When he was given a fifth and final girl, he instead modified Michael into the feminine Michaela and raised her like the son to take over his practice at her own insistence. Sadly, when he died, the customers went with him, because women doctors get no love from fundamental society.
  • Tonto Talk: Averted a little too well with the Native Americans on the show, most of whom speak perfect English without an accent.
  • The Unfavorite: By the way she's treated when she returns to Boston for a visit and when her family ventures to Colorado to see her, it's heavily implied Mike was this in her family, with her focus being on her studies and her desire to be a doctor, rather than on comportment lessons and finding a husband.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Related to the "Radar" post, many other terms are used to refer to certain things, probably keeping in line with the language of the times—"hurt" is used for "raped", etc.
  • Very Special Episode: Many. This is probably the only Western to ever have an episode about the dangers of gun violence (the people end up voting that no one can carry firearms inside their city limits). There's also a two-for-one that covers both Child Abuse and Evolution vs Creationism (it turns out that there're no child abuse laws in their territory, but there are animal cruelty laws, so the town votes that evolution is true, thus making the girl legally an animal, so animal cruelty laws apply).
  • Visit by Divorced Dad: Though he's not divorced from Michaela, the Cooper kids' father shows up a couple times in the series; he abandoned Charlotte years ago and took her half of their nest egg, something Matthew was old enough to remember and hold against him. It ends in a messy custody battle between Ethan Cooper and Michaela in season 3's "Cooper vs. Quinn."
  • Waterfall Shower: Dr. Quinn and Sully have a Shower of Love under a waterfall shower.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Maude Bray was only around for the pilot episode, and never really got much characterization beyond having heart troubles that eventually spelled her end. Her husband Loren wasn't even played by Orson Bean at that point, so we never saw the two onscreen together having any interactions. As for the Loren in the pilot, we got to see much interaction between him and Maude, either- and what little we did see was all-too indicative that Loren was being a Jerkass to his wife up until her final heart attack, at which point we saw him begging her not to die.
    Loren: "Maude... don't go..."
  • The Western
  • Western Characters
  • When You Coming Home, Mom? Dr. Mike displayed some workaholic tendencies throughout the series. Justified in that she's a doctor (and the only one for miles for most of the series). In various episodes, she also had jobs as a teacher and a councilwoman.
  • Where Da White Women At?: The townspeople are convinced that the Native American men have this attitude. When a white woman is rescued from one of their camps, it's naturally assumed that she was raped by them (they're then disgusted to learn that she willingly married one of them - "any decent white woman would have killed herself before she lay down with a redman"). When Dr. Mike is herself abducted by dog soldiers, there's the identical speculation (and it nearly does happen several times before Sully rescues her). In the show's later seasons, Cloud Dancing and Dorothy strike up a friendship when she decides to write a book about him, much to the disapproval of both the townspeople and his fellow tribesmen. The mildest example of this trope is the slight flirtation between Colleen and one of the Chinese railroad workers.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mike gets these a few times. In one instance when she automatically assumes that the Native Americans were the victims in a clash between them and the military, Dorothy truthfully points out that she wasn't there and doesn't know what really happened. In another, Hank blasts her for not only failing to find out what's wrong with his ailing grandmother, but not having the humility to admit that she doesn't know what's wrong and allowing someone else to take over the case.
    • Myra gives this to the entire town, blasting them, particularly the Reverend, for their hypocrisy and uncaring attitude towards the comatose Hank.
  • White Man Gone Native: Sully, especially in the beginning of the series. Lessens somewhat in later seasons, but not by a whole lot.
    • Kathleen, the titular "Another Woman", though not by choice - she was kidnapped by the tribe as a young girl and brought up as one of them.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Sully's backstory, as mentioned above, bears much similarity to the plot of Dances with Wolves, as does Kathleen's, which is virtually identical to that of Stands With A Fist (kidnapped by the tribe at such a young age that she has virtually no memory of her past life and can barely speak English)
    • Sully's cry of "I'll find you!" as the dog soldiers kidnap Mike sounds awfully familiar.
  • The Wild West
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: The show's first Christmas Episode found Dr. Mike dreading the holiday, but not in a Scrooge-like manner, but rather because she was depressed about being away from her family and about the death of a patient - named Mr. Marley. The ghost of a friend who died early in the series' run comes to serve as all three spirits. Unlike most adaptations, the vision of the future is happy, showing her married with children and grandchildren, though the identity of her husband is left unknown. She recovers in time to assist a young woman (who has run away with her fiance to escape their disapproving parents) in giving birth. In a stable, of course.
  • You Need to Get Laid: After Hank insults Mike, she angrily snaps, "Well, I never!" Hank snidely follows up with, "Maybe that's the problem." Later, as Sully and Mike's wedding day approaches, Hank notices Sully's bad mood and snarks, "What's the matter with Sully? You think he'd be happy that he's finally going to get to—", before being cut off by the Reverend.
    • When Hank shows up drunk at Horace and Myra's engagement party, Loren angrily tells him, "We've had enough of you." Hanks snaps right back, "You ain't had any, old man! That's your problem!"

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/DrQuinnMedicineWoman