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Series: Endeavour

Endeavour (2012-) is the second spinoff series of Inspector Morse. A prequel set in The Sixties, it relates the early cases of the young Detective Constable Morse, starting with his arrival at Oxford CID.

The central characters are Morse (Shaun Evans) and his mentor, DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam). Younger versions of Morse's pathologist Max and Chief Superintendent Strange (still just a uniformed constable) also appear.


This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: At the end of the first series, Thursday's daughter is dating Jakes. Thursday has got the wrong end of the stick and thinks she's dating Morse - which he isn't thrilled about, but is willing to let go because at least it's not Jakes. When the second series picks up four months later, the whole arc seems to have been resolved off-screen.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: There is one beneath Beaufort College in "Trove". (Strictly speaking, it's a covered river.)
  • A Father to His Men: Thursday. It helps that he has two kids of his own.
  • All Germans Are Nazis: In "Rocket", Thursday becomes confrontational with an engineer of German extraction and questions him about his past in Germany prior to coming to England. While Thursday is presented as showing a less pleasant, paranoid side of his character, he might not be off base, as this is a rocket engineer who lived and worked in Germany during the War, a possible reference to Wernher von Braun.
  • Always Murder: "One day, Morse, I will send you out for a routine inquiry and that's all it will be."
  • And Your Little Dog Too: Thursday's family is threatened by the mobsters in "Home."
  • Bluffing the Murderer: How Morse wins the day in "Rocket": when he tells the murderer they already have the evidence they need, he replies that he never thought anyone would look there.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: Blenheim Vale in "Neverland".
  • Brand X: As usual in the Morse franchise, all Oxbridge colleges are fictional and brand names generally fake. However there is one significant aversion: the Oxford Mail is real, as is its forerunner Jackson's Oxford Journal (referenced in "Trove"). It never had an editor called Dorothea Frazil, though.
  • Call Forward: To Inspector Morse, naturally. The series addresses the origins of elements of Morse's character such as his taste for real ale, his limp and his friendship with Strange.
    • Subverted with the rooftop scenes in "Fugue", which could have provided an origin story for Morse's fear of heights. However, Morse does show some fear of heights on the rooftop in "Trove," after the events of "Fugue."
    • In "Trove," one of the judges of the beauty contest is race car driver Danny Griffon (whose family is at the center of the plot of the pilot of Lewis), and Dr. Matthew Copley-Barnes returns as a key character in the Inspector Morse episode "The Infernal Serpent."
    • Strange gets a significant Call Forward in "Trove" as well: the episode deals with his first brush with Freemasonry. He goes along with it, thinking it could be good for career advancement. Given that he goes on to rise higher in the police than the more capable Morse, maybe it was.
    • In "Neverland", Thursday suggests that if he retires, DS MacNutt could take Morse under his wing. Morse recalls MacNutt as his mentor in the Inspector Morse episode "Masonic Mysteries".
    • Also in "Neverland", when Thursday suggests he'll probably die as a policeman rather than retire, Morse quotes the last verse of "How clear, how lovely bright" — the same verse he quoted in "The Remorseful Day" shortly before his own death in harness.
  • The Cameo: The red Jaguar owned by Morse in Inspector Morse is seen on a garage forecourt in the pilot.
  • Chekhov's Gun: or in "Neverland" Chekhov's Scarf
  • Chekhov's Skill: Subverted in "Home". Early on, Morse is established as an excellent shot, and this is brought up a couple more times in the episode. In the end, however, it's Inspector Thursday whose skill with a pistol saves Morse, not the other way around.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Chief Superintendent Bright in "Rocket", as the pressure of the murder investigation begins to tell on him.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Many characters from the pilot episode, in particular Superintendent Crisp and Sergeant Lott, disappear without any explanation in the first full series.
  • Comforting Comforter: Thursday drapes his coat over Morse in "Fugue."
  • Comforting the Widow: The killer in "Home" kills her husband to invoke this. It doesn't work.
  • Consulting Mister Puppet: In "Neverland", ventriloquist Benny Topling can only speak about his suppressed trauma through his dummy.
  • Continuity Nod: In "Trove", the Saxon buckle from the Inspector Morse episode "The Wolvercote Tongue" gets namechecked.
  • Corrupt Cop:
    • Most of the police force in the pilot, to the point that Thursday hires Morse partially because he actually trusts him.
    • In "Trove", a notebook was stolen from the crime scene, and it's strongly implied that the villains pulled this off using a mole inside the police force.
    • Becomes the main plot in "Neverland".
  • Covered in Gunge: In the opening of "Trove", a beauty queen is attacked with paint by a feminist protester.
  • Creator Cameo: Colin Dexter appears as one of the dons in "Home". He also appears in each episode of series 2, always within the first few minutes of the episode.
  • Cunning Linguist: In consecutive episodes, it is revealed that Thursday speaks both Italian and German fluently.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: The killer in "Fugue" is this to a tee.
  • Da Chief: Superintendent Bright, although his air of authority is slightly undermined by his rhotacism.
  • Day of the Week Name: DI Thursday.
  • Deadpan Snarker: If we had such a trope as Crowning Moment Of Snark, Thursday's deadpan response to Bright's anecdote about meeting Princess Margaret would definitely qualify.
  • Dying Clue: The Reverend in 'Girl' leaves one.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The daughter of one of the victims in 'Fugue'.
  • Embarrassing First Name: It's right there in the title: Endeavour.
  • Floorboard Failure: While investigating an abandoned area of the school in "Nocturne", Morse falls through a rotten part of the floor.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Morse starts the series as a teetotaller, and is slowly introduced to alcohol through his time in the police force. If you've watched Inspector Morse, you know he eventually becomes The Alcoholic.
  • Genre Savvy: Morse in "Fugue," in contrast to the killer's Dangerously Genre Savvy.
  • Grammar Nazi: In "Rocket", Morse is sent to keep an eye on a group of anarchist protesters and make sure they don't cause trouble. He can't resist pointing out a spelling mistake on one of their banners.
  • Hand of Death: One appears at the end of "Nocturne", opening a ring (one of the clues in the case) to reveal a Masonic emblem.
  • Happily Married: Fred and Win Thursday, who represent the happy family life that Morse himself never had.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Strange tells Morse his colleagues think he's a "Queer fish, stand offish... rude".
  • Historical-Domain Character: Princess Margaret in "Rocket" and Lady Isobel Barnett in "Trove", both non-speaking parts.
  • Hospital Hottie: Monica, Morse's new neighbour in "Trove." He asks her out in "Nocturne".
  • Hyper Competent Sidekick: Effectively, Morse himself is this to Thursday, at least when he's on form.
  • I Don't Pay You to Think: The only person who doesn't say this to Morse and actually listens to him is Thursday.
  • I Ain't Got Time to Bleed: Morse chases after a suspect and doesn't collapse until after he's lost him entirely.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: In a rare platonic example, Thursday's partner was killed by the mob earlier in his career, causing a lifelong hatred of the mobsters who killed him.
  • Jerkass: DS Jakes starts off as one, especially (though not only) toward Morse, but seems to have wised up by the second series.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While Bright's attitude towards Morse seems unjustified, he points out that his role as Thursday's Number Two undermines the police rank system, it normally goes to a sergeant not a constable. He also believes that Morse is just too inexperienced to be a detective (reinforced by Morse making two big mistakes, a false arrest and overlooking a suspect in a murder investigation), something which Thursday reluctantly agrees is true.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: There's one between the Oxford City Police, which Morse and co. work for and the Oxford County Police, which arises when a student at a local girl's boarding school is murdered.
  • Just One Little Mistake: Happens very frequently, and mentioned by name in "Rocket."
  • Kansas City Shuffle: The killer's Evil Plan in "Fugue" involves pulling this on Morse and Thursday ... twice.
  • Last Name Basis: Already in full effect with Morse, who refuses to tell anyone his Embarrassing First Name. Thursday knows it and uses it to get his attention in the pilot, but otherwise he's just "Morse".
  • London Gangster: One of them, an old nemesis of Thursday, sets up a nightclub in Oxford during the events of "Home". Said gangster is an associate of the Fletcher Brothers, who are implied to be even worse, and he is rumored to have gone to Oxford to escape their wrath.
  • Mythology Gag: In the pilot, the question of whether Morse's girlfriend at university was called Wendy (as in the books) or Susan (as in the series).
  • New Old Flame: Thursday acquires one in "Sway".
  • No Smoking: Very much averted.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Morse asks his neighbour Monica out, then has to cancel (and lies about it) because he's previously promised to accompany Constable Strange to the cinema with Strange's girlfriend and her friend. The friend turns out to be Thursday's daughter... and, of course, Monica sees them together and draws the worst possible conclusion.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Inspector Thursday and Constable Morse.
  • Old-Fashioned Copper: Constable Strange, at the Dixon Of Dock Green end of the spectrum.
  • Old Flame Fizzle: Alice in "Rocket", when she realises Morse is still carrying a torch for Susan / Wendy.
  • One-Word Title: Each episode has one, as does the series.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • Thursday pretending not to know what sort of sandwiches Win's made for him, and Morse telling him (because she always makes the same sort on the same day of the week) quickly becomes a bonding ritual. In "Trove", it's a sign that Morse is deeply troubled when he stops playing along.
    • Max, the coroner, is typically shown maintaining the utmost sang-froid examining every dead body he sees and usually making a few droll comments, but he's shown as very shaken by the murder of a schoolgirl in "Nocturne" and begs Morse to catch the person responsible.
    • Also in "Nocturne", while Bright is usually an Obstructive Bureaucrat, but he's furious when an office from the County Police tries to raise Jurisdiction Friction, angrily commenting that they shouldn't be butting heads over this kind of issue when there's the murder of a child to be solved.
  • Papa Wolf: Do not go after Thursday's family. You will regret it.
  • Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation: In "Nocturne", Morse looks into an unsolved Victorian era murder of a wealthy family which was popularly blamed on the youngest daughter (who was the only person left alive who was in the household), and support seems to be lent to this by the fact that the daughter died in an institution and her father scratched her face out of all photographs and even painted over her portrait, leaving her The Blank. At the end of the episode, after having figured out she wasn't the killer, Morse comes across one photograph which was unscathed, and reveals the daughter had Downs Syndrome, indicating that far from being an Ax-Crazy monster, she was a disabled person who suffered horribly due to Victorian mores and her jerkass father.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Thursday, he has no problem listening to Morse.
  • Right Behind Me: In "Neverland", while Strange is passing on station gossip about Thursday to Morse.
  • Running Gag: Win Thursday always gives Fred the same sandwiches on the same days of the week.
    • In the second series there's also a kind of running gag involving a billboard advertising Grimsby pilchards.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • "Trove" ends with the criminals vowing to use their Masonic connections to get revenge on Morse, and Morse positive that he's overlooked something. We're then shown a shot of what he forgot: a notebook that went missing from the crime scene, being passed from one unknown figure to another.
    • Reiterated in "Nocturne" — see Hand of Death above.
    • Both of these pay off in "Neverland".
  • Setting Update: Reaps what the Inspector Morse series sowed in this regard. That series updated novels set from 1970 onwards to the then-present (1987 onwards). Endeavour, which is initially set in 1965, follows the TV chronology, so its setting is 20+ years before the original series, not five.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Inspector Thursday was clearly traumatized by his experiences in World War II, which left a darkness in him that he does his best to suppress.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In "Home", a London Gangster transplanted in Oxford fears his higher ups, who are identified as the "Fletcher Brothers", which is the name given to the London Gangster employers of Get Carter's Villain Protagonist.
    • In "Trove", when Morse is following up a clue, he sees a sign for "R Duck, Theatrical Agent, Fourth Floor." Withnail names his first agent as "Raymond Duck. Four floors up on the Charing Cross Road."
    • Also in "Trove", the prominent advertising for Grimsby Pilchards calls to mind Tony Hancock's unsuccessful attempts to advertise pilchards in "The Bowmans".
    • Yet again in Trove, talent agent Val Todd has a phone call from Mr. White from Play-Tone and another from "Lane from SCDP."
    • In "Nocturne", part of the investigation involves an unsolved murder in 1866. One of the police at that time was Detective Constable Cuff. note 
    • In the same episode, the head of the College of Arms is mentioned as being "Sir Hilary."
    • In "Neverland", the law firm Morse visits has a Mr Vholes as one of its partners.
  • Significant Anagram: Repeatedly in "Fugue".
  • Sleazy Politician: Chief Inspector Bright has some definite shades of this, as he's shown on more than one occasion attempting to quash investigations by Morse and Thursday into criminal behavior by people of importance, clearly motivated by a fear that they could hurt his opportunities for advancement if angered (or would help him if he remained on their good side).
  • The Sixties: The temporal setting, albeit not the "Swinging Sixties" but a much more true-to-life drab setting full of grey cars, brown suits, beige sofas and olive green paint.
  • Something We Forgot: At the end of "Trove" — see Sequel Hook.
  • Story Arc: Season 2 has a running theme of police corruption.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Combined with Mythology Gag in "Home". Morse's dad doesn't look much like the Endeavour Morse played by Shaun Evans... but he does look remarkably like John Thaw! In other words, there isn't a strong family resemblance yet, but there will be. (This isn't a Casting Gag, though - without the make-up, actor Alan Williams doesn't look like John Thaw at all.)
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Morse, he's extremely bright and talented, and he's clearly wasted on general duties, but Bright uses his rank as Constable and his relative inexpereince to keep him there, until he passes his sergeant exams.
  • Tempting Fate: It is, of course, at the very moment that Chief Superintendent Bright is congratulating himself how well the security operation in "Rocket" went, that the news comes in: somehow, he and his men missed a murder being committed under their very noses.
  • Turn in Your Badge: In both the pilot and in "Girl".
  • Weak, but Skilled: As Thursday points out, Morse might be a good detective, but he is a poor policeman, and that "no one can teach you the first, any fool can learn the second."
  • Weapons Understudies: The Standfast SAM in "Rocket" is played by a Bristol Bloodhound.
  • Wham Episode: "Neverland". It ends on a cliffhanger: Thursday has been shot and seriously, possibly fatally injured. Morse has been framed for the murder of the Chief Constable.
  • Whole Plot Reference: "Rocket" features Henry Broom and his children Richard, John, and Harry (deceased)- all Plantagenet kings, but more specifically it is one of many references in the episode to The Lion in Winter. There's also the Broom matriarch returning from "exile" (like Eleanor of Aquitane); the death of Harry, the favored son and heir, causing a Succession Crisis for the family; a proposed merger with the French; and an I Know You Know I Know line that can be seen as a Shout-Out to Geoffrey's famous one in The Lion in Winter. Even the last name is a reference: "Plantagenet" comes from planta genista, the medieval word for the broom flower.
  • Wicked Cultured: The entire plot of "Fugue".
  • You Look Familiar: The series has so far taken the same attitude toward casting as Lewis, meaning that while guest actors aren't re-used as different characters in this series, actors who've previously appeared in Inspector Morse or Lewis can be brought back in different parts to what they originally played.
    • Notably, "Rocket" has guest appearances by Martin Jarvis (who appeared in Morse) and Jenny Seagrove (who appeared in Lewis).
    • For that matter, Roger Allam had previously played Denis Cornford in the Morse episode "Death Is Now My Neighbour".
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