A Buddy Cop Show / Odd Couple, where the Odd Couple is an American detective and a Canadian Mountie. The series lasted from April 1994 to March 1999; a total of 67 episodes in four seasons (Canada and the rest of the world) or three seasons (US), depending on location.The Mountie, Constable Benton Fraser, came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of his father; and, "for reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture", remained attached as liaison with the Canadian Consulate, working with local detective Ray Vecchio - who, for various reasons having to do with actor availability, is later replaced by Stanley (Raymond) Kowalski. Yes, that is his name (his dad was a fan of Marlon Brando). He even married a woman named Stella, though they had divorced by the time Ray K moved to Chicago.Cst. Benton Fraser (rhymes with "razor", though Ray V usually pronounces it "Frasier") is the living incarnation of almost every Mountie stereotype ever conceived. He's polite to a fault, can track a man for months across an Arctic waste, fights honorably, doesn't lie, is almost always impeccably clean, even after climbing out of a sewer. He almost always wears the formal red dress uniform, which in real life is only worn for special public occasions or for publicity.Ray Vecchio is, in his own way, also the quintessential cynical American cop: from his attitudes and his eating habits, to his clothes and his car. He's not above kicking a man in the crotch while he's distracted, and prefers to fight dirty against criminals.Ray Kowalski is similar in many ways, but more prone to wear his heart on his sleeve, has a unique manner of speaking ("I'm gonna jump Bogart all over you!") and is just as good a cop as Ray V. Both Rays are fiercely loyal to their families and friends, and especially to Fraser.Rounding out the cast is Diefenbaker, Fraser's half-wolf Canine Companion, who is deaf (but can read lips).Due South is both a buddy cop comedy and a drama and handles both genres quite well. Fraser and both Rays play well off of one another, and make each other's more exaggerated characteristics work.It also included some elements of magical realism, most notably Sgt. Bob Fraser (usually called "Fraser Sr.", "Dead Bob", or "OFDM" (for "Our Favourite Dead Mountie") by the fandom), the ghost of Fraser's father. Only Fraser could see and hear his father, unless Fraser Sr. wanted to show himself to someone else (this happened four times—he appeared to his killer, to his wife's killer, to his best friend from the force, and to Ray Kowalski), or they were also related to him (happened once). Ray V's dad's ghost also popped up once or twice,and interacted with Fraser Sr once, though he was never a regular character.Recap page is here.
Provides examples of:
All a Part of the Job: Fraser is baffled and uncomfortable when his heroics draw media attention. When reporters ask how he feels about having prevented a horrible disaster (in "Red, White, or Blue", referencing the events of "All the Queen's Horses"), all he can come up with is "Fine."
Artistic License - Law: On at least two occasions people with vendettas are satisfied when they get the person who killed their loved one to confess in front of a police officer. This ignores the fact that the admissibility of a confession extracted at gunpoint is highly dubious - any competent lawyer could argue that his client was willing to say just about anything if it got his tormentor to put the gun away. On one occasion the person doing this was a police officer and should have known this.
Axe Crazy: Randall Bolt, the crazy White Supremacist terrorist.
Bad Bad Acting: Fraser and Ray K., when they realize Ray's apartment has been bugged.
Brick Joke: In The Deal Fraser mentions a schoolyard bully from his childhood menacing kids with a dead otter. Five episodes later, in Letting Go, a physical therapist is scrutinizing his body for past injuries and discovers an odd scar which he says was caused when he was struck by an otter at age 10.
British Royal Guards: Constable Benton Fraser would mimic these guards' "statuesque" reputation whenever he stood on guard duty at the Canadian Consulate, as did his junior, Constable Renfield Turnbull in Season 3. Once in season two, when Fraser was stuck in a (metaphoric) well, he sent his half-wolf/half-dog Diefenbaker to get help; Dief patiently waited in front of one unnamed Mountie until his tour was up, at which point he finally barked the news about Fraser to him and said Mountie was able to respond.
Also, his fashion renders him bulletproof. While Fraser is injured several times in the show, he is never once injured while he is wearing his hat. This has caused the hat to be dubbed the 'Stetson of Invulnerability' by fans.
Although his hat is not bulletproof, and he has reacted to it being damaged as if he had been shot in an actual body part
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Fraser, and it's not always just an American point of view of Canadian ways thing, either, since he has baffled the Canadians as well. Examples include his habit of licking things and talking to his dead father. Granted, the other characters don't know he's doing the latter, so he just looks like he's talking to thin air.
California Doubling (Toronto for Chicago, amusingly inverted when a Toronto-set episode was filmed in... Chicago.)
The Chicago-for-Toronto doubling may very well have been an intentional joke - the producers were not above doing that kind of thing, such as when every shot of the Canadian consulate in Chicago was actually shot outside the American consulate in Toronto.
Canada, Eh?/Eagleland: The series is a commentary on, and gentle ribbing of, Canadian AND American approaches to policing and life.
Bush pilot: You sure they were Americans, eh?
Fraser: They were all wearing new boots, they were driving a Jeep Wrangler, and they carried big guns.
Catch Phrase: Quite a long one, too. Starting in season three, whenever someone asks Fraser what he's doing in America (see Once an Episode), he usually responds:
Fraser: I first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of my father; and, for reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, I have remained, attached as liaison officer with the Canadian Consulate.
Often as not, somebody else gives this or some variation as an explanation. "This is Fraser, he first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of his father, etc."
Also "Oh dear", whenever anything is about to go wrong, and "thank you kindly".
Subverted when, in one episode, Fraser complains about the supposed Mountie Motto "We always get our man" - it's actually "Maintiens le droit"note Defending The Law, although Fraser states it as Defend The Right, regardless of what everyone, including his dead father, seems to think.
Chained Heat: Fraser and Inspector Thatcher in All the Queen's Horses and Fraser and RayV in Red, White or Blue.
Character Tics: Fraser has a few, including cracking his neck and touching his ear when he's nervous, thinking, or repressing the urge to do or say something.
Chekhov's (Unloaded) Gun: In the "Pilot," Fraser pulls out his gun in a Chicago bar, then explains that it's empty because he doesn't have a local permit. Later, when his father's killer grabs the gun in a fight and tries to shoot him, it isn't loaded.
Chronic Hero Syndrome: Fraser's partners frequently bemoan his spontaneous interventions in dangerous situations that he encounters, reminding him that he has no jurisdiction or they are not on duty. In "Red, White or Blue," Fraser admits that he realizes his inability to stop helping people bothers Ray, but he can't help himself. Furthermore, a heartbreaking moment occurs in Victoria's Secret, when he refuses to help someone who appeals to him directly for aid.
Clingy Jealous Girl: Ray V's sister, Francesca ("Frannie") Vecchio, pursued Fraser aggressively—at one point even telling people that they had slept together. (In case simple common sense isn't enough to convince you that they hadn't, Word Of God has confirmed it.)
Inspector Thatcher, though less clingy and more jealous; Francesca never got upset with Fraser for bringing strange women home or working with exotic dancers.
Clip Show: "Flash Back." "Red, White Or Blue" is not exactly this trope, but it does contain a significant amount of footage from "All The Queen's Horses" and a few other episodes.
Played for laughs by Francesca in The Deal, where she attempts to pre-emptively confess for a sin she plans to commit (seducing Fraser). The priest, exhasperated, points out that she can't keep confessing for that when she never follows through.
Inverted in the same episode when Fraser asks the priest what he thought of Don Zuko. His answer, as vague as it is, implies that he has gone to confessional himself for wishing harm upon Zuko.
Counting Bullets: Frasier does this once when facing off agaisnt an armed opponent. Thatcher, Kowalski and Welsh where apparently counting too but each gives conflicting numbers adding to the confusion.
This has actually gotten him in trouble a few times as it makes his word less than trustworthy: in Witness he is suspected of intimidating a witness, while in Duel he is suspected of fabricating evidence. Not to mention, his actions in The Dealeventually lead to the deaths of Detective Louis Gardino and Irene Zuko.
Disappeared Dad: Fraser Sr. wasn't around much in Benton's childhood because of his job as a Mountie. Interestingly enough, Benton mostly views this with regret rather than bitterness, and his dad honestly seems more bothered by it than he does.
Enhance Button: Averted in "The Blue Line." Fraser asks a technician to enlarge a frame from a video tape so he can identify a face in a crowd. The technician says it would be pointless because the resolution is too low.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Although they did refer to him by name a few times in The Deal, more often than not, Joey Paducci is referred to as "The Shoemaker".
Many of the Chicago police officers and people from Fraser's neighborhood will also refer to Fraser in the third person as "The Mountie", though they also just often refer to him by name. Justified, as he really is one of only three or so mounties in Chicago at any given time.
Faux Affably Evil: from "All the Queen's Horses," Randall Bolt, the psychopathic White Supremacist terrorist who captures a whole train of Mounties in order to send it into another train full of radioactive fuel rods, who is willing to kill his men, including his girlfriend, all with a broad smile across his face
Fingertip Drug Analysis: Fraser would taste anything. He even licked the bottom of a boot once to figure out where the wearer had been. Ray K and Ray V were both disgusted and tried to stop him.
Fish out of Water: Fraser had trouble adjusting to life in a bustling city after being a backwoods policeman.
It is pointed out in the pilot that Fraser had trouble adjusting to life in a small city the one time they assigned him to work in one. If anything, he seems to adapt better to a big city for some reason.
Inversely, neither of the Rays seem to do so hot themselves when they end up in the Canadian wilderness, though RayV did much better than RayK.
It gets worse if you know more about mounties, all members of the RCMP are allowed to carry guns in the states
Why does Fraser only have Canadian currency on him, even if he only gets paid in Canadian money for some reason he could get it converted when he cashes his pay check at the bank. Also becomes funny when you realize mounties (and other Canadian law enforcement) are paid almost twice what American cops make but Fraser keeps borrowing money from Ray.
Well, yes. Fraser's paid in Canadian, and Chicago people generally don't accept Canadian money. Still leaves the problem of converting it to US dollars, though.
This may have to do with the fact that it is a lot easier to pay for stuff with American money in Canada than the reverse, but Canadians will still expect to be able to use their own currency in the US
Genius Ditz: Turnbull, while not an idiot, is not that great at his job. However, he is very good at art, cooking, trivia, and perhaps cleaning. Doesn't help that he's a Cloud Cuckoo Lander to boot.
Frannie as well. She may not get the jargon right or even understand some basics of policing, but she's good at finding information. Thankfully, that's her job, so she's a step ahead of Turnbull.
Gentle Giant: the large prisoner who helps out Fraser and Ray in "The Witness" is a variation on this: he's not exactly gentle (we see him throttling a lunchroom attendant when he tells him to move along because he doesn't have any food left), but he does keep the bad guy away because he was impressed with Fraser's courtesy
Get Into Jail Free: A key witness is behind bars and Fraser's partner is jailed for contempt. Fraser gets himself arrested to join them and be in position to protect them. He's such a straight arrow that he can't bring himself to shoplift a candy bar, and his police friends have to plant it on him.
If My Calculations Are Correct: In "Vault," Fraser begins with "Now, I donít have the specifications for the door, Ray. But Iíve been making calculations based on its thickness, the depth of the existing hole and the reflection of the tonal input as it percusses against my tuning fork." Several scenes later, after much bickering, he concludes with "That is, providing they maintain a constant rate of drilling."
Impersonating an Officer: Subverted—Fraser had no legal authority in the US and went out of his way to point this out and abide by it.
Impossibly Cool Clothes: In reality, Fraser's RCMP uniform is the Red Serge and it is nowadays only worn for special ceremonies or for publicity purposes and never for regular police duties.
Generally averted in earlier episodes, where he would wear a less showy brown uniform whenever he wasn't specifically dolled up for guard duty or some formal occassion. It has been joked that his capabilities directly correlate with how he dresses. Civilian clothes, he's a good samaratan who helps others. Brown uniform, he's a badass cop. Red Serge? He is a full on superhero.
Improbable Aiming Skills: In the episode Bird In The Hand Fraser is able to throw a knife so precisely it plugs the barrel of a gun.
Similarly, in Mountie On The Bounty, when a ship Fraser and Kowalski are on sails into Canadian waters, Fraser catches a tossed handgun and proceeds to prove himself an expert marksman.
Improbable Parking Skills: Ray puts his 1972 Buick Riviera into a controlled skid over a large field of ice to bring it sliding to a stop immediately next to Fraser and the guest star. Both of them give him a mild What the Hell, Hero?, which he casually shrugs off.
Insignia Rip Off Ritual: Thatcher cuts Fraser's lanyard when she's handing down punishment for Fraser disobeying orders and helping his sister Maggie when she breaks into the consulate.
Intangible Man: Fraser Sr., though this was to some degree under his control.
Interservice Rivalry: The 27th Precinct quickly came to appreciate the frequent presence of Canada's Deputy Liasion Officer but they never worked well with the FBI, and there were problems among the Secret Service, Chicago police and Mexican officials in The Edge.
Intimate Healing: Fraser tells a story (twice) about how he found Victoria freezing to death on a mountain, and shared body heat with her so that they could both survive.
Karma Houdini: Victoria is a borderline case. On the one hand she escaped scot-free after framing Ray and Fraser for murder and theft and putting Fraser's life in danger in order to launder some of the money to get diamonds, and Fraser still tried to go with her, on the other she's now a wanted criminal for the same murder and theft, she lost all of the money and got none of the diamonds, and Fraser didn't go with her (admittedly because Ray accidentally shot him).
Knight Templar: Frank Zucco pretends to be one, claiming that everything he does is in service to his neighborhood, as opposed to his extortion business
Knight Templar Big Brother: One episode revolves around Fraser and Ray K solving a murder that may very well have been committed by Ray V. The reason they think Ray V might have done it? The dead guy is implied to have tried to rape Frannie.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: In the episode "Flashback", Fraser loses his memory. He can't remember who he is, his personal history, or his manners. When Ray tells Fraser about himself, Fraser thinks he sounds like a moron.
Crowning Moment of Funny: Fraser confronted with the unfurnished apartment in which he and his half-wolf sleep on the floor: "Why do I live like this? Am I being punished?"
Stupid Good: Against all reason, usually averted by Fraser. He is evidently a spectacular judge of character with some highly noteworthy exceptions. In the pilot episode, he loans a large sum of money to a complete stranger with a likely story, only to have him approach him days or weeks later to pay him back. This is mostly guided by Rule of Funny, as it serves to annoy the unholy hell out of RayV for the sheer unlikeliness of it.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the episode "A Hawk and a Handsaw," when someone asks Fraser how a mountie came to live in Chicago, he replies that it's a long story which takes exactly two hours to tell (i.e., the length of the pilot). In the episode "Vault," Ray remarks, "In the last two years youíve risked our lives 24 times," (i.e., the number of episodes to that point in the series).
Love Martyr: Fraser let Victoria go, and almost went with her, even after all she put him through and proved herself to be a fairly terrible person.
Machiavelli Was Wrong: The Deal, After Don Zuko gives his Breaking Speech to Fraser about how people respect him, Fraser points out that there is a difference between being respected and being feared. That is to say, fear can be overcome. By the end of the episode, after Ray Vecchio beats Zuko senseless in his own gym, Zuko suddenly finds that he is no longer respected or feared. This has consequences in the next season of the show.
MacGuffin: In "Chicago Holiday", with copious lampshading. Another, less heavily lampshaded reference is provided in "An Invitation To Romance.
Malaproper: Francesca Vecchio is constantly misquoting typical police jargon (for instance, saying "broiling" rather than "grilling" a suspect). In "Mountie On the Bounty," this is weaponized, as a suspect finally cracks after listening to her do it constantly for minutes on end
Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Fraser once talks Ray V into ticketing a guy who had parked in the fire lane. A little later they find out that the trunk of the illegally parked vehicle is full of guns.
On at least two occasions Fraser brings in a guy on a charge that while technically true, is a mild description of the actual crime (a man who was dynamite fishing for 'fishing over the limit (by 2 tons)', and a man who was illegally dumping hazardous waste for 'littering').
One of Fraser Sr.'s greatest regrets about being dead is they cut off the back of his favorite hat in order to fit it on his head in his coffin, and now he's stuck with it like that for eternity.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the climax of The Deal, Ray beats the crap out of Don Zuko in his own gym, and promises not to tell everybody he sees about it in return for Zuko promising no harm will come to the Shoemaker. One of Zuko's lieutenants witnesses the beatdown, evidently loses all respect for him, and in the second season episode Juliet Is Bleeding, this causes a chain of events that result in the murder of Detective Gardino, the accidental killing of Irene Zuko, and the destruction of Ray'sfirst or secondprized 1972 Buick Riviera.
Noble Savage: Quinn subverts this trope in Easy Money, portraying himself in this manner and then commenting to Fraser "I've been getting into this native roots and it seems to work. Besides, I thought the Tonto act might impress that little jackass." But he also embodies the trope, as he was a very formative mentor to Fraser and he does the right thing in the end.
Not the Fall That Kills You: In Call of the Wild, Fraser and Ray jump and is pushed by Fraser, respectively, from an airplane without parachutes, but they are not injured because the snow is "bottomless."
Obfuscating Stupidity: Almost everyone believes Fraser's putting on an act by being such a stereotypical Mountie in order to con people, because no one is really that honest, polite and noble.
And sometimes, very rarely (see "Bird in the Hand," "Odds"), he actually does let the mask slip.
Once per Episode: Defenestration (someone/something going through a window), particularly in the first two seasons, and also Fraser's CatchPhrases, especially the longer one in latter seasons (see above).
Oneof Our Own: In Eclipse, Dead Guy Running, Victoria's Secret and Heaven and Earth.
The Other Darrin: Diefenbaker was played by three different animals, the first in the pilot really was half-wolf (and noticeably so) but was thought to look too fierce so was replaced by a pure-bred Siberian Husky, who was also replaced with a lookalike after the show's hiatus.
The Rashomon: "Seeing is Believing," where Ray K, Thatcher, and Walsh all witness an argument between two men and a woman which ends with one of the men stabbed to death. Ray K thinks the young guy did it, Thatcher thinks the young woman did it, and Walsh thinks the two conspired to kill the other man as part of a mob war. it was actually a fourth man who created a distraction and then threw the knife at the victim
Reassigned to Antarctica: how Fraser ended up in Chicago after pissing off his entire chain of command. Chicago seems to be a dumping ground: Constable Turnbull seems to be too stupid to serve anywhere else, and even Inspector Thatcher isn't too keen on being there, and wants to transfer back to Toronto as soon as she can.
Sarcastic Confession: In "Hawk and a Handsaw", Fraser manages to get himself committed in a psych ward (intentionally—he's going undercover) simply by showing up in full dress uniform and telling the precise truth about his past.
Snarky Non Human Side Kick: Diefenbaker, although a strictly non-verbal role the reactions of the rest of the cast (principally Fraser) and good direction by the animal handler somehow manage to make him fit this trope.
Smug Snake: Frank Zucco, who likes to appear to be a suave business man who only cares for his community (as opposed to his extortion business), but after seeing him blatantly cheat while playing basketball with Fraser, it is impossible to see him as anything but a Smug Snake
Take Five: When Vecchio wants to talk with Zucco in private after Zucco had Constable Fraser beaten to a pulp, Zucco tells his men to go get him and Ray some coffee. Ray proceeds to beat Zucco senseless.
That Was The Last Entry: Fraser reads his late father's journals occasionally throughout the series, and in "Easy Money" he tells a friend, "There's a short entry in one of my father's journals that reads 'My adversaries appear ready to listen. I'm nearing victory.' And that entry was written the day before he was shot."
Theme Naming: The writers were quite fond of this. Names often had some sort of reference or pun, but were generally not MeaningfulNames; once you "got" the joke, there was usually no further significance to the name.
Many of the Canadian characters are named after Canadian politicians or explorers: Fraser, Frobisher, Mackenzie King, Diefenbaker, etc.
Not just Canadian, either - Margaret Thatcher?
Ray's two rival detectives in his precinct are initially named Det. Huey and Det. Louis "Louie" Gardino. Ray dubs them the Duck Boys. After Louis is killed, he is replaced by Det. Dewey.
Notably, nobody claims to call Huey and Louis the Duck Boys because of their names. Supposedly, it's because they're so smooth, nothing sticks to them, not even water. Ray did have cause to be snarky when he made that claim though.
Other episodes would give the guest characters have all "artistic" names, all "Canadian hockey player" names, etc.
Two Scenes, One Dialogue: In Red, White or Blue, Fraser and Ray each spill out their frustrations aloud in their separate homes, and their words form one dialogue. In Seeing is Believing Fraser's interviews of Inspector Thatcher, RayK and Welch blend smoothly from one to the next in midstream.
Un-Cancelled: Twice, believe it or not. CBS canceled it after its first season, un-canceled it when CBS's next season lineup bombed, and then canceled it again after its second season. In both cases, the show's producers (Canadian company Alliance) saved it thanks to international funding, because of its success in Canada and elsewhere (hence financing from The BBC and Germany's Pro Sieben).
Un-Paused: In the notorious train episode. An entire train car full of Mounties is gassed and pass out while singing early in the episode. Right before the climax, every single one of them wakes up simultaneously, at which point they resume singing the chorus.
UST: Fraser and his boss, Inspector Margaret "Meg" Thatcher.
Verbal Tic: Frannie's messing up of police jargon, Ray K's trouble with remember words, Fraser's 'thank you, kindly', etc.
Welcome to the Big City: Fraser in the pilot movie, except that — as befits the general theme of the show — some of it ends up coming out right in the end (e.g., the panhandler he "loans" $100 to returns it at the end of the episode).
In "White Men Can't Jump To Conclusions," Fraser has to leave his boots behind in a bad part of the city in order to save a kid that's been shot—and his boots disappear. Fraser is certain that some Good Samaritan picked the boots up off the street in order to find him and at the end of the episode is proven entirely right
Western Terrorists: in "All the Queen's Horses," a train carrying a whole bunch of mounties is captured by a White Supremacist group. Randall Bolt, the leader, later returns to cause chaos at his trial
What Could Have Been: Originally, the real life wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was going to be used in 'Mountie on the Bounty', but after talking to the families, Paul Gross opted for a fictional ship. Also, if the show had ended after season one, it was indicated Fraser would have been said to have died after being shot.
What You Are in the Dark: "You see, no one knew that I had found her. The police didn't even know her name. I could just let her go and she could walk away that night."
Worst Aid: A man is hit by a car and Fraser carries him to the hospital, hoisted over his shoulders. Maybe they don't have ambulances in Canada?
Written By Cast Member: "All The Queen's Horses," "Red, White Or Blue," "Burning Down The House" and the two-parters "Mountie On The Bounty" and "Call Of The Wild" were written or co-written by Paul Gross.
You Can See Me?: In "Hunting Season", Constable Maggie MacKenzie can see the ghost of Fraser's father. "All The Queen's Horses" had a variation of sorts, with Fraser and Buck both surprised the other could see Bob.
Mama Lala appears aware of Bob's existence as well in "Mojo Rising"
Artistic License - Linguistics: in "A Hawk and a Handsaw," Fraser says that the Inuit have over 60 words for snow. (Linguist Geoffrey Pullum estimates that the actual number is around five, roughly the same as in English.) The trope is somewhat averted in that this is a very widespread myth, but Fraser's character is a stickler for detail who grew up in a part of Canada with a large Inuit population; you'd think he'd have noticed the 50-some-odd missing words for snow, at some point.
You Have Failed Me: In the episode Gift of the Wheelman, the leader of the bag guys pulls this one out of the villain's playbook.
You Killed My Father: Fraser's motivation for going to Chicago to begin with was to make sure the Chicago Police Department were making an effort to find his father's killer. He ended up getting involved in the investigation, and things spun off from there.
Fraser faces the man responsible for his father's death in "A Bird In The Hand". There's even a wonderful subversion in that, after Fraser takes off the guy's cuffs for Honor Before Reason reasons, Ray V promptly re-cuffs him, to Fraser's dismay.