Series / Hunter

Hunter is a drama series about two Los Angeles homicide detectives, sergeants Rick Hunter and Dee Dee McCall. It was created by Frank Lupo and produced by Stephen J. Cannell Productions, and ran on NBC for seven seasons starting in 1984.

Rick Hunter (played by ex-football player Fred Dryer) has a reputation for being a Cowboy Cop, which makes him less than popular among his superiors. While he does tend to bend the rules and disregard orders, he only does so to get evidence against the bad guys, and his intuition never fails in picking out who is a bad guy or who isn't. He would never stoop to manufacturing evidence or framing an innocent.

Dee Dee McCall (Stepfanie Kramer) is Hunter's partner. As tough as she is good-looking, she is sometimes called the "brass cupcake". She is just as pro-active as Hunter when fighting crime and doesn't hesitate to get into physical fights with the criminals, but she is less hot-headed and often acts as a calming influence on her partner. In the last season, McCall leaves the series after getting married to an old flame and is replaced by two other female detectives.

This show provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: McCall. Despite being much smaller than Hunter, she is just as active in fights and or chasing down criminals on foot — often in high heels.
  • The Alleged Car: Any car driven by Hunter either is this, or becomes this during the episode. Sometimes it is literally falling to pieces. Because of his reputation for wrecking cars, the police department will always give him the worst vehicle available. On the occasions where he, through luck or trickery, can obtain a new car, he will invariably get in a car chase and wreck it.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Sgt. Bernie Terwilliger thinks Hunter is a disgrace for the department and never fails to point out any time he breaks a rule. Unfortunately, Terwilliger is not that good a detective himself, and usually fails where Hunter's "cowboy" methods succeed. In the second season, he gets transferred to Internal Affairs, a job which brings him into frequent confrontation with Hunter, before being Brother Chucked in the third season as his actor, James Whitmore, Jr., had begun working behind the scenes as a director.
    Hunter: Bernie Terwilliger couldn't catch the measles if you broke a bottle of the virus over his head!
  • Catch Phrase: Hunter's "Works for me".
  • Chase Scene: Most episodes have several, both by car and by foot.
  • Cowboy Cop: Hunter has this reputation among his colleagues, and some journalists.
  • Cousin Oliver: Hunter's final partner in the series, Chris Novak (Lauren Lane), is a single mom with a young daughter, Allison (Courtney Barilla).
  • Da Chief:
    • Hunter's captains in the first season, Captain Lester Cain and Captain Dolan have a very adversarial relationship with him. Cain especially views him as a dangerous loose cannon and a Cowboy Cop, and frequently threaten to take his badge away. While Dolan is also often frustrated with Hunter and would rather him not be on the streets, he's also a lot more reasonable than Cain was and will work with Hunter.
    • His captains in later seasons, Captain Wyler in season 2 and Captain Charlie Devane in season 3 on, tend to have a more sympathetic attitude to Hunter. Despite frequent irritation over Hunter's insubordination and liberal attitude to the regulations, they tolerate this (up to a limit) because of his good results. They will do their best to keep Hunter in line — with varied success.
  • Dirty Harriet: McCall often goes undercover as a streetwalker or callgirl, especially during the first season.
  • Downer Ending: "Rich Girl", with it's Alas, Poor Villain ending.
  • Dress Hits Floor: There is an episode where a rich woman robbed by some criminal finds him and bargains for return of some jewelry piece. When the robber suggests she is "wired", she drops her clothes to the floor to prove she is not. This leads to Karmic Death of said robber, at the hands of the woman's jealous husband who wrongly assumes she's having an affair she is, but not with the burglar.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Car chases often end with one car catching fire and/or exploding.
  • External Combustion: Happens to a journalist who is investigating Hunter, convinced that Hunter is a dirty Cowboy Cop dealing out vigilante justice. The real culprit uses this to frame Hunter for the murder.
  • Fair Cop: McCall. Her good looks not only make her a suitable Dirty Harriet, but also attract romantic attention from both desirable and undesirable quarters.
  • Fanservice: Very mild by today's standard (this show is, after all, a decade older than NYPD Blue): there is no nudity and even sex scenes tend to be of the fully clothed variety, but there are still some instances.
    • McCall's good looks are always prominently featured, and though she dresses professionaly at work she frequently wears tight tops and short skirts.
    • There are some scenes with McCall in sleepwear or taking a bath.
    • Many scenes involve streetwalkers or showgirls in more or less stripperiffic clothing. The trope is averted, however, when McCall goes undercover as a streetwalker: she tends to cover up a lot more than her supposed "colleagues" (which makes sense for the plot, as she's there to collect information, not to seduce anyone).
    • Two of the most daring examples from the first season are shown in the opening credits: DeeDee fighting in a backless top and tight pants, and her aiming her gun out of a foam bath, with bubbles acting as convenient Scenery Censors.
  • Follow That Car: Detective DeeDee McCall does this in an episode, with the grizzled cab driver replying "I've been waiting twenty years for someone to say that!"
  • The Informant: Arnold "Sporty" James. In a subversion of this trope, however, Hunter and McCall see him as a valued friend.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Hunter and McCall are extremely close, spend a lot of time together outside of work, and though they sometimes date other people, even then they seem to prioritize each other above their current boy/girlfriends. Despite this their relationship stays non-sexual, apart from a single occasion (which is referenced in the episode "Unfinished Business").
  • Rape and Revenge: When McCall is raped by a foreign diplomat, who uses his Diplomatic Impunity to flee the country, Hunter tracks him down in his homeland and ends up killing him.
  • Re Tool: During the second season, when Roy Huggins became the executive producer. Among other things, Huggins toned down the violence, softened up Hunter and McCall's fractious relationships with their superiors, dropped a backstory concerning Hunter's family ties to the mob, played up the chemistry between the two leads, and moved the setting out of the backstreets and into the more desirable areas of Los Angeles. In a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, these changes helped the show fare better ratings-wise and with critics. Cannell himself also praised Huggins's work on the show.
  • Robbing the Mob Bank: A not very smart crook steals cocaine from a courier, and then tries to sell it to the courier's employer, who finds it very interesting that he's being sold the exact amount of coke that's just been stolen from him...
  • Running Gag: The CB Radio handset getting disconnected in Hunter's Alleged Car.
  • Stock Unsolved Mysteries: The episode "The Black Dahlia" has Hunter and McCall investigate new leads in the famous unsolved 1947 murder known by that name.
  • They Do: Or rather, they did, once. "Unfinished Business" reveals that Hunter and Dee Dee have once slept together while working as partners.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Sometimes Hunter manages (by audacity, oversight or sheer luck) to requisition a new car from the department, rather than the Alleged Car he will usually be given. The people in charge of the car pool will invariably be very upset about serial wrecker Hunter getting his hands on a pristine vehicle, and there is a lot of angst over in which shape he'll return it. Of course, the car is totalled or at least severely damaged during the episode. This leads to another show of angst and anger when the car is returned.
  • White Sheep: Hunter comes from a Mob family but has chosen to join the police. He sometimes uses his connections to get information from his relatives, who also try to use him to get inside police information (which he doesn't allow). This only happens in the first season, and Hunter's mob background is never mentioned in later seasons.