"My name is Melinda Gordon. I just got married. I just moved to a small town. I just opened an antique shop. I might be just like you. Except from the time I was a little girl I knew I could talk to the dead. Earthbound spirits my grandmother called them. The ones who have not crossed over because they have unfinished business with the living and they come to me for help. To tell you my story, I have to tell you theirs."
— Melinda Gordon, Ghost Whisperer, First Season Opening Narration
Ghost Whisperer is an American TV show that ran from 2005 through 2010. It's also known as that show where Jennifer Love Hewitt traipses around in vintage clothing, often low-cut. The episodes follow a formula: Ghost makes its presence known, Melinda flutters about trying to help, Melinda helps the ghost with its business, everyone cries, ghost goes into The Light. The few instances where that doesn't happen involves the ancient spirits that inhabit Grandview, Melinda's town, and some prophecy involving Melinda and her abilities.Notable Characters are:
Melinda Gordon: Main character, co-owner of an antique shop and seer of ghosts. She inherited the ability from her grandmother, and it caused her many problems both inside her house (with her in-denial mother) and outside when her gift emerged. She's a firm believer in The Light, a.k.a. Heaven, and that her task in life is to help ghosts move into The Light. As of now, she's the centerpiece in some ancient prophecy... or something.
Jim Clancy: Melinda's husband and an EMT, Jim knows about his wife's abilities and supports her in her self-chosen task, often using his ties at the police station and the hospital to help her in her mission. In the fourth season, Jim is shot and dies, but his spirit inhabits the body of a man named Sam, albeit with amnesia. As of now, he's back and marrying Melinda again.
Eli James: Appearing in the fourth season, Eli had a near-death experience that allows him to hear, but not see, ghosts. Since then he's become involved with Melinda's ghost-helping operation, and she usually dictates research and other tasks to him when she's otherwise busy. A professor of Psychology at Grandview University, he fills the quirky academic role after the prior character, Rick Payne, left on a retreat. (Pain's actor left to star in his own show.)
Delia Banks: Melinda's co-owner of the antique shop and new best friend and confidant, following the Season One death of Andrea, the former Best Friend. Delia also works in real estate, and sometimes brings matters to Melinda's attention through the houses she deals with. Initially Delia didn't know about Melinda's gift and remains skeptical and a little fearful of the idea of ghosts. She is fiercely protective of her loved ones, and Melinda can count on Delia in situations both ordinary and supernatural.
Ned Banks: Delia's son, Ned initially appears as a stereotypical troubled adolescent, who has some ability to see ghosts. He's notable for the ability to get Melinda into cases through the other teenagers at school.
The show contains quirky side-characters you'll want to see more of, and a main character who you'll occasionally get sick of.Season One: We meet Melinda Gordon and her freakish ghost-seeing ability, as well as her supportive husband and her sassy African-American friend, who in the finale dies in a plane crash.Season Two: Delia and Rick are introduced, eventually becoming part of Melinda's ghost-hunting posse (the latter more easily than the former). Also introduced are Ned and a plot-arc involving Melinda's also-ghost-seeing brother we're just learning about now.Season Three: More ghost-hunting, a not-so-coherent explanation about Melinda's brother, and unraveling of Melinda's family secrets. Her relationship with her mother is repaired, and we find out the truth about her real father.Season Four: Payne leaves, Eli arrives, and Jim gets shot dead, but not for long. He returns with amnesia, goes on a quest to re-discover 'his' life, and winds up staying in Grandview with Melinda. This, of course, leads to love. Sam remembers who he really is, Melinda is pregnant with Jim's child, and they get married. Well, remarried, really.Season Five:Time Skip forward five years and we meet Melinda's son Aiden, who has a few more spiritual powers than Melinda, according to the sagely Watchers. Of note is the ability to see "The Shinies and the Shadows", mysterious beings that respectively help and prey on ghosts, particularly ghost children, and since Aiden can see them he's especially vulnerable. The Shadows have been manipulating things in Grandview to get their hands on the Book of Changes. Sadly, also the final season.
This show provides examples of:
Aborted Arc: What happened to that mysterious man in the hat who was gathering souls (including Andrea's) back in Season One?
There's also the "fragment" of the teen heart transplant patient; presumably The Shadows absorbed him/it.
And at least Romano (aka The Man in the Hat) did something before vanishing. Laughing Man, who seems to have been in league with him, was just kind of there for a few episodes. He made a very creepy first impression, and... well, that was it. It's not a large stretch to guess that the writers were making it up as they went along.
Bedlam House: One is being turned into a school, and a few lingering ghosts cause trouble the most troublesome being their doctor, who caused the insane patients to become suicidal in the first place by already being dead and influencing their thoughts while they underwent shock therapy.
Blessed with Suck: As it's later revealed, Melinda's mother also inherited the ability to see and hear ghosts, but she hated it.
Body Snatcher: Thrice: A ghost inhabits a recently dead teen's body, and the body's ghost isn't too pleased; Jim steals Sam's body after the latter dies. Sam had already gone into the light, so it's okay with him. Also, the Bedlam House ghost was deliberately driving "his" patients to suicide in order to study step-ins and become one himself, minus the whole going-crazy-due-to-losing-two-sets-of-memories thing, and points them to his latest "experiment".
Boring Invincible Hero: Of a sort. No matter how bad the main case seems to be - someone killed someone's husband, husband and wife hate each other after cheating and competition, someone's... really pissed that her parents got divorced - by the end everyone's happy and snuggly and A-OK. Even if someone has done something seriously wrong (burning down a building, faking vampiric possession). Especially in those cases. It gets... monotonous.
Brought Down to Normal: The main character after a car accident in Vanishing. Subverted at the end of the episode, when it's revealed that she has not lost her ability to see ghosts, but that something is "sucking" them.
In the series finale The Shadows trick Melinda into thinking that suppressing Aiden's gift will get The Shadows to leave him alone, and it appears to be working. Actually he's already figured out that losing his gift would be a bad idea and was just pretending to make his parents happy while The Shineys put in extra time; unfortunately it still had a bad effect on Melinda...
Bury Your Gays: Eli's deceased mother was having an affair with another woman and died while trying to cover it up. This was revealed when her husband also died and both (it seemed) began haunting the other couple: he mistakenly trying to expose the husband while she was warning the wife to keep quiet.
Averted earlier with the ghost of a guy whose sister had been having an online affair with the cheerleader girlfriend of a high school athlete. When the cheerleader figured out her online crush was a girl, they decided to meet in person; unfortunately both guys got there first and the jock accidentally beat the brother to death. The brother's ghost was angry at his sister and the cheerleader for both doing/being something he couldn't understand and getting him killed. In the end the brother accepts his sister and she and her girlfriend become official. Aww.
Chain Link Fence: Done with a corpse in one episode. He climbs the fence, drops over the other side, and lands with his leg in a squicky position. He then proceeds to re-set the leg and run off. Definitely breaking some fundamental laws of physics and biology there...
Dead All Along: Some of the ghosts have to be convinced that they are dead like Andrea after a plane fell on her. The one haunting the fugitive family didn't realize *when* he died, and had been haunting the family because he thought the father had left him to die.
Digital Avatar: When Melinda enters a ghost-infected MMORPG (similar to Second Life), her avatar has a blonde bob and Lady Gaga sunglasses.
Directed by Cast Member: Jennifer Love Hewitt made her directorial debut with "Body of Water" in season 4, and also called the shots on the final season's "Birthday Presence" (the fifth season premiere) and "Implosion."
Dueling Shows: With Medium, which later came on right afterGhost Whisperer on Fridays. Alas, we never got to have an hilarious/awesome crossover. (Amusingly, Paramount - which made Medium - also co-produced Ghost Whisperer with Touchstone).
Eye Scream: "Sally Stitch" causes Melinda to dream that her eyes and mouth are stitched up.
Fate Worse Than Death: Becoming a "step-in". You get a second chance at life but you also get double-Victory Guided Amnesia since your mind/soul is hinting at one thing while the friends and family of your body (if any) are saying another. According to the bedlam house ghost a majority of step-ins go insane and kill themselves, the exceptions being one he led Melinda to and Jim, who had Melinda's support and later regained his memory after a near-death experience.
Fanservice: Maybe the low cut blouses help Melinda channel her spiritual energy? The early seasons bent over backwards to slip fanservice into each episode, even to the point of Melinda wearing a spaghetti top whilst serving dinner to a traditionalist Hispanic family. More recently, they backed off on this.
Flash Forward: The 2009 fall season flashed forward about five years.
Foreshadowing: The many death omens before Jim's death. Possibly the mysterious light-people/spirits at Jim and Melinda's second wedding, who are implied to be "The Shineys".
Girl of the Week: Ned became rather promiscuous after entering college; the episode with the fugitive family had multiple characters lampshading the fact that many of his girlfriends/crushes turned out to be haunted.
Hollywood Heart Attack: Do Over. In a hospital, no less. The victim stumbled around a bit before keeling over, and the narration informed us that he "died in seconds."
I Just Want to Be Normal: Coupled with "I Just Want My Daughter To Be Normal" in Melinda's mother's case. Melinda was very relieved when the Watchers said that her unborn child would not have her powers, and then panicked a bit when they added "He'll be more powerful then you".
In "The Gravesitter", Melinda discovers people have been talking about her online and fears that she and her gift will be exposed. Because up until this point, she's been extremely subtle about the whole I See Dead People thing?
Identity Amnesia: The two step-ins (the earlier corpse-jacker doesn't count because the body's ghost was still around and the corpse was too decomposed for a resurrection). Contrary to the usual amnesia tropes they don't get better from a smack to the head: the "stalker" had to talk to Melinda (who had only learned about the concept the episode before) while Jim/Sam had to have a near-death experience.
The Insomniac: A man appears to have fatal familial insomnia. Actually it's his dead dad and sister who had it, and they're so paranoid that their son/brother could have it they're driving him to suicide before he kills someone like the dad did.
Jerkass Fašade / Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The president of the university that Eli works at had been purposefully stonewalling him so he would leave and not catch the eye of The Shadows, who had been advancing his (the president's) career so he could control the Book of Shadows, which wound up in the hands of Eli and Melinda and now The Shadows are pissed. He also has a comatose mother whom he often visits, and it's implied that the Shadows might have something to do with it.
Now that he and his mother are dead, he seems to have gone back to creepy, although he does appear to still want to help Melinda & Co.
Ms. Fanservice: For every genuine fan of the show, you'll find one even more ardent fan of Jennifer Love Hewitt's... *ahem*
Monster Clown: A creepy ghost in a clown costume shows up. He's actually a private investigator who fell in love with the woman he was trying to find for her ex-boyfriend, and disguised himself as a clown so he could be at her soon-to-be stepdaughter's party. Evil shadows, angry and psychotic ghosts, and conspiracies don't phase Melinda, but clowns creep her the hell out.
The creepiest manifestation of this is when Aiden feels he's being watched by something that's not a ghost and neither the Shinys nor the Shadows (it might be the late president of Rockland U., but why wouldn't he be "recognized" as a ghost?). Melinda is freaked out because she can't see it; Jim, oddly enough, is relieved (hey, at least it's not the Shadows).
Our Souls Are Different: Recently the idea of "broken" spirits has emerged: Apparently with some people, most of their spirit goes into The Light but a piece of them goes into "the shadows". The first example of this was A father who framed his daughter's boyfriend for stealing, indirectly leading to his death when he fled. The dead boyfriend began haunting the father who developed Alzheimer's disease, and when he died most of him went into The Light (which kind of annoyed the boyfriend's ghost) while the presumably guilty bit of his soul went into the shadows.
There's also the mysterious "shiny" friends of Aiden's who are revealed in the series finale to be crossed-over children, the first (and last) spirits shown to return after they've gone into The Light.
Melinda doesn't consider herself a psychic, which makes sense in that her powers are limited to earth-bound ghosts and their visions of the past/present while her empath powers only work if the ghost-of-the-week allows her.
Record Needle Scratch: During a romantic moment when Melinda and Jim realize that the ghost haunting the hospital morgue hadn't been accounted for because the person they thought was the ghost was still alive.
Rescue Romance: Jim and Melinda met when he rescued her from her burning apartment complex.
The Reveal: The Shinys are children who have gone into the light and are also the only beings that can combat The Shadows, hence why The Shadows are so interested in ghost children. They also vastly outnumber The Shadows, but apparently didn't realize it because The Shadows are effin' scary and they're still children despite being the Big Good.
Ripped from the Headlines: An episode where the ghosts were very embarrassed about their bodies being dumped in a pond is reminiscent to the Tri-State Crematory scandal, where bodies were dumped in the undergrowth instead of cremated.
Screw Destiny: When the person who told you your destiny is telling you to screw it, things must be getting pretty bad: The Watcher tells Melinda to lie to Aiden and tell him that seeing ghosts was just his imagination; when he starts believing that he'll stop seeing ghosts (and Shineys and Shadows) and The Shadows will leave him alone. Melinda is torn between her son's gift and his safety, Jim is less torn about keeping Aiden safe, and it turned out that The Shadows were manipulating The Watcher in the first place.
To Twilight: A family is extremely wary of outsiders. The son is tall, pale, with foofy hair and is shown being extremely hostile to his girlfriend in order to protect her; also, they're presumably vegetarians since they're fugitive environmentalists, but they settle down at the end.
Stalker with a Crush: Several lovelorn ghosts, but a living version is the matre-de who had a secret crush on Delia and wanted to make up for ruining her dinner for the umpteenth time (he gets Dr. Tofu syndrome around her).
There was an entire episode based on this trope. A lawyer was stalking a ghost when she was alive, to the point where she died trying to run away. He then goes after Melinda, but she manages to get him locked away. But he kills himself so he can always be with her. But then he gets sucked away into the shadows, presumably.
Stand-In Parents: The children pretended to be their own mother after she had died, for fear of social services splitting them up on finding out they had no parent or guardian.
Time Skip: The latest season jumps ahead 5 years in order to allow Aiden to grow up.
The Time Skip was probably a practical device to prevent having to deal with a baby on the set, or in the storyline. In short, the viewers wanted Melinda and Jim to have a baby, and the writers put it off, even with the ridiculous season of Jim-is-Sam, as long as they could. When they finally capitulated, they wrote in the five-year time leap, and cast an eight-year-old to play Melinda's five-year-old son. Thus, all the mess of dolls that don't look natural, hiring multiple babies to play the baby in 20 minutes stints (which is all a baby or toddler can work in a day in Hollywood), casting twins as an older Aiden, hiring coaches to teach them their lines, and soforth, was avoided. Jennifer Love Hewitt is on-camera in very nearly every scene on the show, so having the baby someplace would have been awkward, and having her cart a doll everywhere in a Baby Bjorn would have been worse. A child old enough to be on the set for eight hours a day (Connor Gibbs was 8 in 2009), and old enough to read and study his own lines was hired. Sometimes he came off as unnaturally precocious, but that fit his character.
Undeath Always Ends: Sometimes averted, as not every spirit chooses to cross over like one of the ghosts on the cruise ship (she died of terminal cancer while on a last vacation and is making the most of her "afterlife") while others are atoning for something and become Watchers.
Her whole first season wardrobe was actual antique pieces of clothing, they gave up that trend when it became too expensive to continue, as the series was successful. The suggested end thought is that her wardrobe should all be part of what she buys in these 'estate' sales and such. If this is true many of the items she wears would have been part of a lot purchase, and therefor not really cost her much in reality, though if you or I tried to do that it would be extremely expensive. (Her first season wardrobe was so unusual I went online to research who made her clothes.)
The Watcher: The, uh, Watchers, ghosts who stay despite having finished business in order to watch over the living and other spirits. The majority of these appear to be Atoners.