Series: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

Mike and Sully

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 and to make the doctor more appealing to Sully, who seeks a family to replace the one he never had.

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 dislike of how the show had effectively typecasted him, led to the series being retooled with John Schiender of Dukes of Hazard being brought in as Seymour's new love interest after Sully was presumed dead, to write him out of the series. The loss of Lando killed the show, but several TV-movies were put together to provide closure on the series.

Tropes Featured:

  • Adorkable: Horace. He's quite awkward, pays Hank just to be able to talk to Myra, and has jitters during his wedding night. 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.
  • Actor IS the Title Character: Jane Seymour IS Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 flirts with "him" and has to be told that, "He's shy."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • California Doubling: The show was filmed at the Paramount Ranch in California, where the landscape isn't particularly like Colorado Springs at all.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Ironically, after returning home to visit her ailing mother, she realizes that it's her who she takes after the most, personality-wise.
  • 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. 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, leading his parents to nearly split up.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dramatic Irony: One episode had the town terrified of the world ending from a meteor. As you know, it didn't.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
    • 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. Or despite his racist tendencies, is 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.
    • 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." 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.
  • 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.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin:
    • Averted. Horace is nervous on his wedding night as it is his first time. Especially so, since his wife is Myra, the Hooker with a Heart of Gold, who has had lots of experience. When she tries to reassure him, stating that "I've had plenty of fellas who haven't. . ." her voice trails off as she realizes she's just pointed out the very reason for his anxiety.
    • When Matthew starts coming of age and goes into the Saloon for his first official drink of whiskey, the various patrons decide he needs to get laid to be a man. He's whisked off to Myra's room, but just so she can help him climb out the window.
    • Subverted with several of the other male characters. While not virgins, it's strongly implied that they've been celibate for a long time, despite the presence of prostitutes who could have tended to their needs.
  • 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.
  • 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 she 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!
  • Old Maid: Dr. Mike refers to herself as this, with her 35th birthday looming and no husband in sight.
  • Picnic Episode: The characters often enjoyed their meals outdoors, for example after the Sunday masses in the meadow near the church.
  • 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 subverted 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 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 Im 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • The Talk: Sully awkwardly tries to give one to Matthew when he begins courting immigrant girl Ingrid, Dr. Mike attempts to give her son Brian the talk 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 quite 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 Indians 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.
  • 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 dogs 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 Look Familiar: John Schneider had a guest role in the first season as a fugitive bank robber before being cast years later as Sully's best friend/new sheriff Daniel. James Leland Adams played General Custer in several episodes before being cast as the pompous Preston A. Lodge III. And Brandon Douglas played a con artist before being cast as neophyte physician Andrew Cook.
    • Alley Mills can be glimpsed as one of Hank's prostitutes shortly before playing Mike's sister Marjorie.

Alternative Title(s):

Dr Quinn Medicine Woman