Series: Quincy

A coroner-slash-crimefighter!

A popular late '70s-early '80s Forensic Drama about the eponymous Quincy, ME (Jack Klugman) and his work handling cases in an LA coroner's office. Arguably created the Forensic Drama genre that became so popular many years later.

The show began as an entry on The NBC Mystery Movie before being shifted into a full-fledged series in its own right, and enjoyed a lengthy run (1976-1983). The basic formula had Quincy working on a corpse whose death had been ruled an accident or suicide. In each episode he would find something strange in the autopsy which would lead him to suspect murder. Quincy would then start sleuthing, inevitably picking up on clues the police missed. He'd eventually find enough evidence to force the always-clueless cops to re-classify the death as a homicide, at which point Quincy would expose the identity of the killer.

During his time solving suspicious suicides and uncovering evildoers, Quincy was assisted by loyal Lab Rat Sam Fujiyama (Robert Ito) and was constantly at odds with both Lt. Monahan (Gary Walberg), who resented Quincy's meddling, and Dr. Asten (John S. Ragin), who resented all the overtime hours Quincy and Sam racked up.

The entire series is currently available on Netflix.

This series provides examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Jack Klugman himself in "Has Anybody Here Seen Quincy?" because he hated Michael Sloan and Glen A. Larson's script for the episode (in which a body brought into the morgue turns out to be alive, so you can see his point). Klugman eventually had Larson removed from the show, which is why the showrunner credits vary so much.
  • Always Murder: Usually true, but averted in "Semper Fidelis" about a young soldier who dies on night manoeuvres.
    Quincy: Your son didn't fall, and he wasn't thrown. He jumped.
    • Also averted in "Murder By S.O.P." with the town doctor who knows the true identity of this week's murderer. He's killed in a car accident which is a genuine car accident.
    • Averted again in "The Hope Of Elkwood," where a cross-country running coach was accused of working his star pupil to death. The judge threw out the involuntary manslaughter charge on grounds of the specifics of the crime not matching the definition of the charge, only to have the guy sued for wrongful death. It finally turned out that the Body of the Week had a small tumor on his adrenal gland, making his C.O.D. natural causes exacerbated by training for his next race.
  • Author Filibuster: Some episodes should obviously just be called "Jack Klugman's Soapbox".
    • "A Good Smack In The Mouth," about child abuse, gives co-teleplay and story credit to guess which cast member.
    • An episode where a college student dies in a hazing incident ends with a scene where, out of nowhere and with no prior setup, Quincy is suddenly giving a graduation speech at an unnamed college. His entire speech is about how terrible fraternity hazing is: which is all well and good, but would probably be more useful if he were giving it to a bunch of people who were NOT about to graduate.
    • Lampshaded in the late season episode that introduced his new love interest, later to become his wife. She recognized him as the hot dogging coroner who was always incensed about some issue, only to have forgotten about it a week later, when there was some new issue that he was incensed about.
  • The Bad Guys Win: "Scream To The Skies" - following a hearing convened in the wake of an air crash into the sea in which many people die due to the airline not having life rafts (because they weren't legally required to carry them), the airline in question brings a defamation suit against Quincy - "You've just been gagged" - which stops him from continuing his safety crusade.
    • "Passing" features Quincy investigating the remains of a former labor union boss who had been murdered by the union so that others could take over. Between political pressure and threats of violence, they force Quincy to drop the investigation and falsify the results... but a participant who knows the truth still comes forward, thus ultimately averting the trope.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Dr. Asten and Lt. Monahan.
  • Busman's Holiday: Quincy takes a few.
  • The Butler Did It: Used for a pun, when the Villains of the Week had the surname "Butler".
  • Character Filibuster: Quincy does a lot of this.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Quincy is friends with Rosie Grier, so this trope may apply.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Lee Porter, Quincy's love interest in the initial movie-length episodes, disappeared without a trace when the show switched to an hour-long format.
  • Cool Car: Well, unique at any rate. It's a hearse that says "CORONER" across the back. Danny hated it when Quincy parked it outside the bar.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: While Quincy runs into quite a few of these, one of the later seasons had a memorable aversion. When a executive learned that his company's poor waste disposal practices had caused a fatal accident, told Quincy that, while his lawyers had informed him he held no legal responsibility, he still felt a moral responsibility to assist in solving the crisis.
    • One of the worst cases was played by John Colicos(Kor of Star Trek). He murdered his boss, kept the man frozen for eight years while telling the world the man was living in seclusion, then planted the thawed body and tried to frame another man for the murder(a man who had recently been released from prison, no less, for falsely confessing to a murder to help these people cover up the real culprit in a crime), all in a plot to take control of a major corporation.
  • Corrupt Politician: A few show up, including a labor union boss who threatens to ruin another doctor's career if Quincy doesn't falsify the findings on a murder case.
    • Averted in "Murder By S.O.P." with the town mayor- he's merely been framed and has no problem giving Quincy full authority to find out who is really behind the murders.
  • The Coroner: Quincy. Duh.
  • Crossover: with Emergency! - Robert A. Cinader wrote the episode "Cover Up" which featured paramedics from Squad 44 calling Rampart Emergency to deal with a heart attack at a bowling alley. The patient is directed to a different hospital as it's closer. If they hadn't redirected the patient, he may have lived- an incompetent replacement doctor killing the patient set off the episode's key plot.
    • In season 7's "Smoke Screen" Engine 51 is called as part of the battalion to deal with an apartment building fire, although none of the usual Emergency! cast are present.
  • Depending on the Writer: Quincy's relationship with his superiors and their enthusiasm for his stubbornness varies between episodes.
  • Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest: Quincy's first wife died before the series started, and then in the final season he marries a woman played by the same actress.
  • Downer Ending: Several, but "Guns Don't Die" is the champion.(Quincy and pals are having a great time at Danny's; cut to a little boy finding a gun hidden at home while he and his sister are playing... and shooting her. Roll credits.)
    • "Into The Murdering Mind" may well share the honours, with a touch of The Bad Guys Win thrown in for good measure (it's implied that the guy who's murdered all but one member of his family will be going after his mother as well when - not IF - he gets out of the clinic he's sent to...).
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The beginning episodes make it clear that Lt. Monahan finds Quincy to be an incredibly annoying thorn in his side and even Sgt. Brill doesn't like him very much. Quincy is merely a single man living on a house boat with almost no backstory beyond his current girlfriend, Lee. Lee would later vanish without a word, the subplot of Quincy's deceased wife would be worked in and Lt. Monahan was retconned into having been friends with Quincy for years.
  • Eureka Moment
  • Everybody Lives: Yes, incredibly a series about a coroner managed to have the odd example of this trope (such as "Has Anybody Here Seen Quincy?" and "Never A Child").
  • Expy: The "R.J. Collins" episode was based on the real-life D.B. Cooper plane hijacking.
  • Extreme Doormat: How many times has Sam stayed late to run tests, to the detriment of his love and social life?
  • Good Guy Bar: Danny's.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Corpses generally aren't shown on-screen even during the autopsy scenes.
    • This is played for laughs during the opening. Quincy is performing an autopsy as some rookie police officers observe. They all pass out, but all we see are the tools used and the cops dropping.
  • Heroic BSOD: One episode dealt with child abuse as Quincy tried to determine which parent was beating the kid. When he found out it was the father, who had taken his son off to a fishing trip and intended to beat his son further, Quincy tracks them down and completely loses it, almost strangling the father as he ranted on about how horrid the act of child abuse was. Quincy only snapped back to sanity when the child begged Quincy not to hurt his father.
    • In the episode where Sam is poisoned as fallout of a plot by an animal handler to kill his lover with snake venom, Quincy breaks down and threatens the killer with a live snake to get the needed information out of him.
    • Something similar happens again in the final season when Quincy is mugged. He spends much of the episode terrified and traumatized, unwilling to even identify the muggers for the police, partly because of the others discussing the low conviction rate of muggers, how so many end up on the streets in short order and how so many witnesses who come forward end up suffering retaliation. Ultimately, Quincy sees a trauma therapist and admits that he isn't afraid of the muggers- he's afraid of himself. he fears that if he ever gets his hands on them he may kill them(as listed above, he's already displayed the possibility of violent assault against another human being, despite his generally high value of human life, if he's provoked)..
  • Houseboat Hero: Quincy is that much cooler because he lives on a boat.
  • Karma Houdini: Per the above example in Heroic BSOD concerning the snake incident- Quincy threatened to kill a man with a deadly snake yet receives no punishment for it. Then again, the only present witnesses to this were Monahan and Brill who probably didn't give a damn and let it slide, and if anything, they'd claim the killer's accusation was falsified.
  • Kavorka Man: Two words that leap to mind to describe Quincy physically are "craggy" and "wizened", also, he cuts up dead people for a living. He's never lacking for skimpily-dressed 20-something female company, though.
  • The Lab Rat: Sam and Mark.
  • MAD: Queasy M.E.
  • The Mafia/Yakuza: One Body of the Week, an LAPD organized crime detective, was the victim of a yakuza assassin. The oyabun was trying to work out a deal with The Mafia to buy black market guns for his operations in Japan.
  • The McCoy: This describes Quincy to a T. He's impulsive, emotional, very humanistic, and frequently argues with more logical characters.
  • Mood Whiplash: Used to excellent effect in "Guns Don't Die" (see Downer Ending above).
  • Mystery Magnet: Quincy and Danny can't even go on a simple fishing trip without getting dragged into a web of intrigue.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Dr. Hiro from "Has Anybody Here Seen Quincy?" is pretty clearly based on Dr. Thomas Noguchi, LA's "coroner to the stars."
    • And Quincy was based on Noguchi.
  • No Name Given: Played utterly straight. It's never mentioned — not even by his girlfriends — though a business card gives his first initial as "R".
  • Officer O'Hara: Lt. Monahan mentions his Irish grandmother from time to time.
  • Passed-Over Promotion: Over the course of eight seasons, the ONLY character to get any sort of promotion was Quincy, who was bumped up to deputy coroner sometime around season 7(which placed him as head of the coroners on his floor, but still under Asten). Everyone else stays in their respective jobs.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: "The Cutting Edge," the final episode of the series, barely features Quincy (the other regulars don't appear at all) and focuses instead on a surgeon who specializes in state of the art surgical techniques. No points for guessing it was meant as a spinoff.
  • The Quincy Punk: The episode "Next Stop Nowhere" is the Trope Namer.
  • Qurac: In one episode Quincy gets involved with a hijacking by some radicals that are implied to be from one of these sorts of countries.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Dr. Asten and Lt. Monahan veer between this and Beleaguered Bureaucrat.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: The Mystery Movie episodes had a more businesslike (though still optimistic) theme tune; the more familiar theme came along when the series debuted and was edited onto the shortened versions, but the original is still heard over their end credits (although the "guy on the landscape with the flashlight" background is replaced with the big Q, and the credits themselves are changed - they're white instead of yellow, and instead of "Mystery Movie Theme: Henry Mancini" there's "Theme: Glen A. Larson and Stu Phillips"). Later seasons got a new arrangement which sounded less quirky and more suitable to the series.
  • The '70s: Some of Quincy's clothes are typical of seventies fashion in all its horrifying glory.
  • Shared Universe: With BJ And The Bear, believe it or not - the Poorly Disguised Pilot "The Girls Of Hollywood High" has the PDPs' stars visiting his place of work. Asten and Sam appear but not the main man, understandably given the episode was scripted by both shows' co-creator Glen A. Larson (see Absentee Actor above).
  • Shown Their Work
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: For all the complaining about the series being preachy, this is exactly why such a change happened. Many of these social issues needed to be addressed.
  • Special Effect Failure: The apartment fire effect in season 7's "Smoke Screen" is a terribly done overlay that doesn't look close to real.
  • Status Quo Is God: Because they're beleaguered bureaucrats, Astin and Monahan tend to be leery at first about the case of the week, no matter how many previous times Quincy has been right. They also tend to throw in with Quincy pretty quickly when he gives them proof.
    • Subverted when one of Monahan's close friends, a priest, is found dead with a prostitute. Monahan dumps all the pretense and begs Quincy to prove something funny is going on. In this case, even Quincy doesn't see anything strange until Monahan forces him to poke his nose around.
  • Technicolor Science: Justified, since Quincy and his team work on lots of actual scientific tests, including chemical reaction tests that really do involve prettily colored liquids.
  • Temporary Substitute: Dr. Hiro from the Klugman-less episode "Has Anybody Here Seen Quincy?"
  • Three-Way Sex: The Double Standard attached to it is discussed in one episode as an analogy to alcoholism.
  • Tourettes Shitcock Syndrome: Though the portrayal was more tempered compared to most examples of this trope.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Girlfriend: It has to be said, Quincy's girlfriend Lee in the Mystery Movie episodes is smokin'.
  • Very Special Episode: Very common in later series (see "Whatever Happened To Morris Perlmutter?" for a particularly strong example).
  • Wheel Program: The first season.