Series: Starsky & Hutch

Starsky & Hutch is a 1970s television series that ran for 92 episodes (plus a pilot movie) between 1975 and 1979. It centered around two Southern California plainclothes police officers, streetwise Brooklyn native David Starsky, and the quiet, intellectual Minnesotan Kenneth "Hutch" Hutchinson. Under the radio callsign "Zebra Three'', they patrolled the Bay City in Starsky's iconic red Ford Gran Torino with that awesome white vector stripe. Their main contact in the criminal underworld is Jive Turkey Huggy Bear, a police snitch who often dressed extravagantly and ran his own bar.

Starsky & Hutch was one of the first prime-time dramas to portray black characters in a positive light, with both Captain Dobey and — despite his walking on the edge of the law — the honest and trustworthy Huggy seen to be positive black role models. In fact, Huggy Bear was so popular with fans that the producers considered spinning off a Huggy Bear series, but this ultimately fell through.

A Starsky & Hutch video game was released in 2003 by Mind's Eye. Made into a motion picture starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in 2004.

Starsky & Hutch provides examples of:

  • Adorkable: Both have their moments, but it is Hutch who takes the cake in this one.
  • The Alleged Car: Pretty much every vehicle Hutch drove, in deliberate contrast to his partner's Cool Car.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Starsky. In at least one episode he has a Star of David on his dashboard and a menorah in his apartment. (Paul Michael Glaser is Jewish in real life.)
  • Avenging the Villain: George Prudholm holds Starsky responsible for the death of his son in jail after Starsky arrests him; he kills two cops and Starsky's lover in an effort to make him pay.
  • Badass: Being a 70's cop show...
  • Beleaguered Childhood Friend: Subverted in "The Las Vegas Strangler"; Hutch's high school friend Jack Mitchell really isn't the serial killer the guys are chasing. Not that it helps, since he's dying of a brain tumor and doesn't make it out of the episode alive.
  • Binocular Shot
  • Bloodless Carnage: Unsurprisingly for a show made in the '70s, people tend not to bleed no matter how many times they're shot.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Hutch gets into one of these with a visiting Russian ballerina who's received death threats.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: In "Playboy Island", Hollywood Voodoo causes Starsky to try to kill Hutch. Weirdly, once he's shocked back to normal it's ignored for the rest of the episode.
  • Broken Pedestal: Hutch's mentor Luke Huntley in "Birds of a Feather".
  • Buddy Cop Show: Possibly the Trope Codifier.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: In the final episode, Hutch is ambushed by two hitmen, one with a gun and one with a knife. He manages to take advantage of this by maneuvering the knifewielder between himself and the gunman, just in time to take the shot.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Makes a rare appearance in "The Psychic"; naturally Hutch is shot in the chest shortly thereafter.
  • Busman's Holiday: "Satan's Witches", where a quiet fishing trip in the woods is interrupted by virgin-sacrificing Satanists. No, really.
  • Car Chase: Well, yeah.
  • The Cast Showoff: David Soul is a professional musician; Hutch therefore is given opportunity to sing and play guitar in a number of episodes.
  • Christmas Episode: "Little Girl Lost"
  • Clear My Name: "Hutchinson for Murder One"
  • Clip Show: "Partners"
  • Cool Car: The Gran Torino, though Hutch compares it to a striped tomato. Unlike most cool cars, there's nothing particularly special in its features or general performance, but the bright red paint job with that white vector stripe was special in and of itself.
  • Cop Show
  • Cowboy Cop: Both main characters. They almost seem to be private detectives rather than cogs in a larger machine. Also, their methods include bribery, blackmail, and Mafia-style intimidation.
    • Starsky fits the scheme more, while Hutch tends more to be more bookish.
  • Cult: In "Bloodbath", Starsky is abducted by the followers of the memorably creepy Simon Marcus.
  • Da Chief: Captain Dobey
  • A Day in the Limelight: Huggy Bear gets these in the cringeworthy "Huggy Bear and the Turkey" (a failed Poorly Disguised Pilot) and the considerably better "Huggy Can't Go Home".
  • Dirty Harriet: Starsky's ex-girlfriend turns out to have been undercover as this in "Lady Blue".
  • Easy Amnesia: Subverted in "Partners". Hutch apparently has amnesia after a car accident (and a Clip Show ensues as Starsky tries to remind him who he is), but he was faking it as revenge for Starsky's reckless driving.
  • Easy Impersonation: "Starsky and Hutch Are Guilty"
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: It was the seventies.
  • Fake Defector: Starsky pretends to join a group of vigilante cops in "The Committee".
  • Fangirl: the original largely teenage and almost exclusively female fanbase, who have grown up into an Estrogen Brigade for David Soul, a man still working the nostalgia circuit as a singer.
  • Fashion Dissonance
  • Fatal Attractor: Hutch sometimes seems to be one of these.
  • Find the Cure: The episode "A Coffin for Starsky". The two-parter "The Plague" also qualifies, especially the second part.
  • Flatline: After being critically injured in the series finale, Starsky has one of these. Resuscitation attempts fail and the doctor is about to call it... until Hutch races in and Starsky's heart starts beating again.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Starsky: Sanguine/Choleric
    • Hutch: Melancholic/Phlegmatic
    • Dobey: Choleric/Melancholic
    • Huggy: Phlegmatic/Sanguine
  • Fur and Loathing: Hutch's thieving ex-wife shows up in a white fur coat.
  • Generic Cop Badges
  • Girl of the Week: They are both quite the ladykiller. Not literally, of course, although enough at times they verge on Cartwright Cursed.
  • Going Cold Turkey: Hutch has to do this after being shot up with heroin in "The Fix".
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: The boys play this with great enthusiasm at the beginning of "The Shootout".
    • Played with and then lampshaded in the pilot, when Hutch tells Fat Rolly that he and Starsky don't do this formula, with both being "bad" cops. Cue Starsky looking at them in disbelief.
  • Hand Cannon: Hutch's weapon of choice is a .357 Magnum.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners
    • Playfully and frequently dances the line, as the duo is famously known to be very...affectionate towards each other. The duo were called "Prime-time Homos" frequently during the show's run.
    • There's a reason why the actors are always asked if Starsky and Hutch were supposed to be a romantic duo. Those were never answered, and they would frequently drop conflicting hints towards each side.
      • It's no accident that the show has had a huge amount of slash fiction written about it, rivaling the Kirk/Spock fics of the 70's to present.
      • It didn't help matters that during outtakes Paul and/or Dave would kiss each other if one (or both of them) forgot lines.
  • Hollywood Satanism: "Satan's Witches"
  • Hollywood Voodoo: "Starsky and Hutch on Playboy Island", complete with voodoo dolls of the guys.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: The title character of "Gillian"; minor character Sweet Alice also seems to be one of these.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: In the pilot, two killers are after the heroes — but several people who should know, including an Affably Evil mob boss, assure them that these hit men can't be the ones trying to kill them, or they'd be dead by now. This turns out to be key. The hit men already killed their actual target, and are making it seem they're after Starsky and Hutch instead in order to conceal their client's motive for the real killing.
  • Insignia Ripoff Ritual: Throwing their badges into the ocean at the end of "The Snitch".
  • Internal Affairs: Unsurprisingly played as jerks.
  • Jive Turkey: Huggy Bear
  • Key Under the Doormat: For reasons best known to himself, Hutch insists on keeping one on top of the door.
  • Knowledge Broker: Huggy Bear
  • Last Name Basis: Or abbreviations thereof ("Hutch", "Starsk").
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Abby in "Vendetta".
  • Love Triangle: A brief but painful example in "Starsky vs. Hutch", which is eventually resolved when the guys tell the woman in question that if she wants either of them, she'll have to take both.
  • Manly Tears: On occasion.
  • Meat Versus Veggies: Hutch isn't strictly a vegetarian, but his preferences for soybean and health shakes frequently clash with Starsky's for burritos and junk food.
    Hutch: You know something, Starsk? When they do your autopsy they're gonna find a petrified beef burrito.
    Starsky: *grinning* With onions.
  • Mind-Control Conspiracy: A deranged serial killer in "Lady Blue".
  • Mommy Issues: Seems to be the motivation of the killer in "The Las Vegas Strangler".
  • Name and Name
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: "Tap Dancing Her Way Right Back Into Your Hearts" focuses on a dance studio run by "Ginger Evans", a retired movie star who is fairly obviously a stand-in for Ginger Rogers. (At one point in the episode, Hutch mentions "Frank Astaire"; it's unclear whether he's playing dumb or whether it's a continuation of the joke.)
  • No Communities Were Harmed: The show's fictional setting of "Bay City" is a fairly obvious stand-in for Los Angeles, where the show was filmed.
  • Odd Couple: Not so odd as all that, but their tastes in cars, food, and vacation spots do fall at opposite ends of the spectrum.
  • Oh, Cisco!: Most of the tags fall into this category, occasionally lapsing into End of Episode Silliness — sometimes to jarring effect in the darker episodes.
  • Parental Abandonment: Starsky's father was murdered when he was a kid. His mother is still alive, but various comments seem to imply that he was sent to California without her while still fairly young.
  • Performance Anxiety: Hutch can pull off the most embarrassing undercover roles without a hitch or a stammer, but put him in front of an audience in his own identity and he freezes up.
  • Pie in the Face: Hutch's ex-girlfriend aims one at Hutch at the end of "Deckwatch", but he ducks and poor Starsky gets hit instead.
  • Pimp Duds: Huggy Bear (although he wasn't a pimp).
  • The Plague: In, uh, "The Plague". Hutch is one of the victims, and Starsky tears the city apart looking for a potential cure.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: "Huggy Bear and the Turkey."
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: Played straight in "Death in a Different Place", for one.
  • Real Time: Most of "The Shootout" and "Deckwatch".
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: Three times: Lalo Schifrin's was replaced by Tom Scott's, which got replaced by Mark Snow's, which in turn got replaced by a rearranged version of Tom Scott's. Got that? (You can hear each one - plus the very different theme song used in France - here.)
  • Revealing Coverup: The pilot.
  • Rockstar Parking: There always seems to be a spot for the Torino directly in front of the police station.
  • Running Gag: People constantly mix up which one of the duo is which. Even the commercials got into the act:
    Narrator: *over a shot of Hutch* Starsky!
    Narrator: *over a shot of Starsky* Hutch!
    Starsky: *exasperated* I'm Starsky, he's Hutch!
  • The Seventies: Made and set in them.
  • Shower Scene: Hutch has one in his first five minutes on screen (followed soon thereafter by two separate scenes in which both stars wear only towels; let no one say this show didn't deliver on the fanservice).
  • Suicide by Cop: It is implied that this is what George Prudholm ultimately wants; Starsky refuses to participate.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Not actually invoked, but contemplated; Paul Michael Glaser was increasingly unhappy doing the show, and the characters of Officer Linda Baylor and Nick Starsky (Starsky's younger brother) were created as potential replacements for him.
  • Temporary Love Interest: Terry, Gillian, we hardly knew ye.
  • Tranquil Fury: Generally speaking, the calmer Starsky looks, the more worried you should be.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Check out the disco, for starters.
  • Very Special Episode: Various episodes featured issues like rape, drugs, racism, and homophobia, but "The Crying Child", which dealt with child abuse, was particularly Anvilicious.
  • Viva Las Vegas: "The Las Vegas Strangler"
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer: What's the point of having a Cool Car if you don't have a car chase every single episode?
  • Woman Scorned / Yandere: Hutch's girlfriend in "Fatal Charm" turns out to be violently possessive, culminating in a murder attempt.
  • You Look Familiar: All over the place.