[[quoteright:296:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/silent_witness_sm2.jpg]]

->''"Dear Points of View, I watched Silent Witness with the sound off and it didn't make any sense."''
-->--'''Frankie Boyle''', ''Series/MockTheWeek''

British crime/forensic series, running from 1996 onwards, now in its nineteenth series, making it the fourth oldest currently airing crime drama in the world and the longest that isn't German (''{{Tatort}}'' is the winner, the German show having run since 1970).

Starred Amanda Burton for the first eight series, until her character was written out in a plot involving a reunion with her long-lost son and a trip to Northern Ireland.

The series now revolves around the activities of three Home Office pathologists (Nikki Alexander, Jack Hodgson and Thomas Chamberlain as of the 2014 series) as they investigate murders in London, though they sometimes help outside the city and at least one story per season will usually feature them going abroad.

Could be considered a UK version of the ''Series/{{CSI}}'' franchise, but lacks its flashiness (although it has elements of the wider investigating role); it also predates it. Like ''WakingTheDead'' (which predates ''Series/{{CSI}}'' as well), it is done in two-parters, with each story shown over two days in the same week.

Has a [[Characters/SilentWitness character page]].
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!!This show contains examples of:

* AttemptedRape: [[spoiler: Happens to Sam in Series 7.]]
* {{Badass}}: Jack Hodgson moonlights as a cage-fighter, which tends to come in very handy against criminals (even fully armed and/or much physically stronger ones.)
* BatmanGambit: In "After the Fall" [[spoiler: Lydia's plan to frame Nikki for murder heavily revolves around this. It fails, though only just]].
* BerserkButton: A murder suspect in "In a Lonely Place" finds out the hard way that openly admitting to hitting and then insulting a recently murdered woman around Jack is a bad idea.
* BetterManhandleTheMurderWeapon: Justified. In "Bloodlines", Harry wakes up in Budapest to notice his girlfriend has been stabbed to death in bed next to him. As he finds the murder weapon , a knife, the murderer comes walking in, causing Harry to take the knife to fend him off. The murderer, in a fit of [[GenreSavvy genre-savviness]], simply disarms Harry and leaves him behind to be found by the Hungarian cops.
* BritishBrevity: Averted with the show being renewed for a 20th season to air in 2017; however, with only 10 episodes per season, each season is much shorter than an equivalent show in the US.
* {{BrotherSisterIncest}}: [[spoiler:the Doshi siblings in "Squaring the Circle" and teenage siblings in "Domestic" (though in defence of the latter, they didn't realise they were blood related).]]
* BuffySpeak: With regards to their chosen profession, Harry, Nikki and Leo are usually very eloquent and specific. However, explaining things to the detectives they work with (and, by extension, the viewer) sometimes necessitates simpler language. That, and they don't know everything.
--> '''Harry:''' It's a data thing.
--> '''DC Salch:''' Yeah. It's a micro SD card; from a phone.
* CartwrightCurse: At least two of Harry's love interests were murdered by the end of the story.
* ChuckCunninghamSyndrome: There is no explanation ever given for Fred Dale's departure after the third season.
* CrammingTheCoffin: In "Hippocratic Oath", a hearse crashes and two bodies are discovered in the coffin. The team is charged with discovering the identity of the John Doe corpse.
* DeadpanSnarker: Clarissa Mullery. Harry Cunningham also had his moments, although he also had a tendency to be a PungeonMaster.
* DerailingLoveInterests: Many of Nikki's and Harry's (and later Jack's) temporary love interests go through this in order to [[StatusQuoIsGod restore the status quo]] of the unresolved {{UST}} between Nikki and the guy.
* DiggingYourselfDeeper: Thomas Chamberlain frequently does this.
* DisappearedDad: Sam's nephew Ricky's dad and Nikki's dad.
* DisposableSexWorker: Several of these show up in different episodes. A prominent example is "In a Lonely Place" where a stripper testifies to Jack that the police told her to stop wasting their time when she reported a co-worker missing.
* DisproportionateRetribution: In "After the Fall", the villain [[spoiler: tried to frame Nikki for murder and have her killed because she blamed Nikki for getting her husband convicted of a crime he didn't commit. Nikki herself points out that she was just doing her job by offering expert testimony, that she can't control what the judge and jury decide and that it certainly didn't warrant the murders of three innocent people.]]
* DontSplitUsUp: A major plot thread of the episode "Protection" is a teenage boy trying to reunite his siblings who were separated by social services, and prevent the youngest from being adopted.
* DownerEnding: [[spoiler: "Greater Love" ends with Leo sacrificing himself to save everyone from a terrorist bomb explosion in Afghanistan that was set off by a brainwashed British soldier believed to be dead (the discovery of what was believed to be his body was the whole reason the team were in Afghanistan in the first place). No one is brought to justice for any of it, either.]]
* DrivenToSuicide: Harry's dad suffered from severe, chronic depression and killed himself when Harry was 11. [[spoiler: In "Run", a family friend (who had an affair with Harry's mum) also committed suicide in the same way, although in his case it was because he had been diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer.]] Also one of the many possible reasons for the body-of-the-week.
* DropDeadGorgeous: Averted -- naked bodies in the autopsy scenes look like dead murder victims.
* DysfunctionalFamily : The family in "Domestic", very much so.
* EverybodyIsSingle: [[AvertedTrope Leo]] was married with a daughter until they were both tragically killed, and he eventually entered a long term relationship with [[TheProfiler a profiler]]; Harry and Nikki, though, will usually end up dating either the victim, the killer, or someone who just ends up getting in the way.
* FakingTheDead: The apparent death of [[spoiler:Harry]] in the Budapest story - to the point where the actor's name was taken off the credits. In reality, [[spoiler: Harry killed the attacker and set fire to his body, leaving his own ID with him]]
** In "True Love Waits", a woman has faked her death for over a decade (with the help of her friend, a detective) in order to frame her violent husband for her murder. The detective managed to have him jailed [[NeverFoundTheBody despite there being no body]]. It turns out to be just as well, since the guy is a serial killer, and immediately starts up again once he gets out of jail.
* FanServicePack: Harry grows his hair and Nikki dyes it between seasons 11 and 12.
* {{Fingore}}: "True Love Waits" involved a serial killer who would murder women and cut off their ring fingers as trophies.
* FragileFlower: Nikki
* FreudianTrio: The most common permutation has Harry as the logical [[TheSpock Spock]], Nikki as the emotional [[TheMcCoy McCoy]] and Leo as the balancing [[TheKirk Kirk]], although this can change depending on who gets the most emotionally involved in a particular case.
* HappilyMarried: Leo [[spoiler: until his wife and child were killed in a car accident.]]
* HeadbuttOfLove: Nikki and Harry had a few.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler: Leo in "Greater Love", by dragging a suicide bomber away from the crowds to prevent any casualties and getting blown up in the process.]]
* HollywoodAtheist: Averted with Harry who, although explicitly an atheist, is not portrayed in a negative light for it.
** Also averted by Jack, as Harry's SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute.
* HonorRelatedAbuse: One plot strand of "Sins of the Fathers" involved the team investigating a body found inside the wreckage of a Vietnamese restaurant, which was burned down after the man that the owner's daughter was betrothed to found out she wasn't a virgin.
* HotScientist: Nikki Alexander, played by Creator/EmiliaFox.
* IdiotBall: Frequently taken by the scientists, doing things like confronting suspects on their own... and just as frequently taken by the cops of the week.
* KarmaHoudini: Although most of his accomplices are arrested, [[spoiler: Strader in ''River's Edge'' gets off scot-free for drugging, raping and ordering the murders of at least three women and being complicit in the murder of a family and the attempted murder of at least three other people.]]
* KilledOffForReal: [[spoiler: Kerry and Leo]]
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: "Fear", in which a Catholic family believes their children have been possessed by demons. There's a rational explanation given for most of it, but certain elements leave the viewer to wonder.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero:
** Nikki in "Coup de Grace". Her testimony at a trial gets a convicted murderer acquitted...only for more people to turn up murdered in the same way. Played with as it turns out that [[spoiler: the man's lawyer was the real killer and he manipulated Nikki into helping him get his client acquitted so he could start killing again. The man Nikki helped acquit really was innocent; it wasn't her fault his lawyer was using him to get away with murder. She also helps identify and catch the real killer.]]
** Jack in "Fraternity".
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: TheUKArmedForces, their superiors at the Home Office, other coppers.
* PoliceAreUseless: The forensics team ends up straying from their brief into other law enforcement roles. Typically the police get it wrong and impede the team until the last minute. When either the crim or the pathologist is cornered: here comes TheCavalry! Unlike ''Series/{{CSI}}'', these guys are really not cops period, but that doesn't stop anything.
** They actually do get called out on it sometimes, but again, this doesn't stop them from playing detective.
* ReasonYouSuckSpeech: One of Nikki's ex boyfriends gives her a particularly harsh one in "After the Fall". He later apologizes, only for Nikki to agree with some of what he said, but points out that it's probably too late for her change now.
* {{Retirony}}: In "River's Edge", DCI Malcolm Guillam is murdered a week before he was due to retire.
* SceneryCensor: Averted. While forensic drama, particularly US drama often has strategic bits of lab equipment censoring an autopsy scene, here corpses are completely naked during autopsy scenes, even underage kids.
* ShipTease: Harry and Nikki. Dear God, Harry and Nikki.
** After Harry leaves, Nikki and Jack, though to a lesser extent.
* ShutUpKiss: While waiting for service in a pub, Dr Nikki Alexander explains at great length to Dr Harry Cunningham how she will end up old and alone. That is until Harry leans over and kisses her, then smiles and says, "Finally she shuts up."
* SiblingYinYang: Sam Ryan and her sister Wyn, who lived together in early seasons.
* SlidingScaleOfRealisticVersusFantastic: The show has many realistic details, but remains more glamorous and implausibly coincidental than strict realism would allow. Oddly, this has prompted some [[http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/jan/09/stuart-hamilton-silent-witness criticism]].
* StrangersOnATrainPlotMurder: The premise of "Supernova".
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute: Jack Hodgson for Harry.
* StrawNihilist: The villains of "Lost"
* TallDarkAndHandsome (and [[TallDarkAndSnarky Snarky]]): Harry.
* TheBadGuysWin: Several times. Examples include:
** "Safe": [[spoiler: The team fails to get a gang leader convicted for murder, or even for breaking dangerous dogs laws (since he illegally owned a dog that savaged one of his victims to death). The evidence finally gets him jailed for raping an underage girl, but he'll still be out sooner than he would have been with a murder conviction - and his gang is still active and grooming young boys to join them.]]
** "Commodity": [[spoiler:Terrorists got away with over two million pounds' worth of blackmail money, ended an innocent man's career by shooting him in the leg (he was a professional footballer), and will probably continue to attack Jewish/Israeli targets.]]
* TraumaCongaLine: Nikki. First her father abandoned her as a kid and never acknowledges the emotional pain he caused her. Then her mother died when she was a teenager. She finally gets a surrogate family in the form of her co-workers, only for [[spoiler: her best friend (and possible love interest) to run off to the US for a better job]] and her father figure [[spoiler:is blown up in front of her trying to save her life. And then she gets framed for murder.]]
* TrueCompanions: Leo, Nikki and Harry in the later series. Leo implies to Nikki and Harry that they are as important to him as his (dead) wife and child.
** Jack and Clarissa, to the point where Jack's condition for coming to work at the Lyell Centre was that they hire her too.
* UnnaturallyBlueLighting is used regularly, particularly in pathology scenes. Partially this is an exercise in fashion and style: many contemporary British dramas were also using the technique. In the pathology scenes, the lighting increases the cold, clinical and confronting atmosphere.
* UnresolvedSexualTension: Again between Harry and Nikki. Also between Harry and any female, and Nikki and anyone.
* WellDoneSonGuy: In "True Love Waits", Kate Warren is under intense pressure from her father (a very respected retired senior officer) to secure a murder conviction in order to save her own career and uphold the family name. This becomes her motivation for tampering with evidence.
* YouDidntAsk: In "Coup de Grace", a murder suspect who is living in his father's old house finds his father's gun stashed there, and agrees to give it to his lawyer to hand over to the police; but ends up taking Nikki and the lawyer hostage when Nikki finds the gun first and panics. Later, when the investigating DI asks the lawyer why he didn't tell the police about the gun ''first'', he just says that no one ever asked.
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