Series: The Streets of San Francisco

A crime drama that ran on ABC from 1972-1977, produced by Quinn Martin Productions (with Warner Bros. Television in season one). It starred Karl Malden as Det. Lt. Mike Stone, a veteran cop, and Michael Douglas (in his Star-Making Role) as Inspector Steve Keller, Stone's younger partner. The series was shot on-location in San Francisco. Douglas left the show at the start of its fifth and final season, and was replaced by Richard Hatch as Inspector Dan Robbins; this change was not popular with viewers (since Battlestar Galactica hadn't been created yet), so the series was cancelled.

Unique among crime shows since, the show's actors and writers took great pains to ensure an authentic portrayal of the San Francisco Police Department.


  • And This Is for...: "Deadly Silence" and "Monkey Is Back."
  • Book Ends: "The Thrill Killers, Part 1" starts with Steve arriving at a trial from a hearing where it's been determined he didn't go out of bounds in shooting a suspect. It ends with Steve, having been shot himself by a suspect, en route to a hospital.
  • The Butler Did It: "Death and the Favored Few."
  • California Doubling: Usually averted, but the first scene in "Flags Of Terror" takes place in Tokyo, so...
  • Crime and Punishment Series
  • Driven to Suicide: Jean (Stone's daughter)'s friend Nancy in "Men Will Die" - she's raped by two men at the start of the episode, and the traumatized woman subsequently shoots and kills one of them - but because there isn't any conclusive evidence of her rape she's eventually held for trial for murder... driving her to jump off a stairwell in the courthouse. Thankfully, she does recover. (And yes, the other guy does get caught.)
  • Framed Face Opening: The Title Sequence has Detectives Stone and Keller over a blocky splotch design. Said design was also used for the guest cast montage.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: Seen in one episode. The tracking device is large and obvious (although not blinking or beeping), but it is planted on the back bumper of the car after the hero has gotten in, thus justifying them not noticing it.
  • In-Series Nickname: Stone regularly calls Keller "buddy boy."
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Probably the funkiest outside of Barney Miller.
  • Killed Off for Real: Steve in the Reunion Show.
  • Nice Hat: Stone's ever-present fedora.
  • Opening Narration: In keeping with series from QM Productions, each one was episode-specific (although "I Ain't Marchin' Anymore" also has one at the beginning of the first act to set up the episode). Here's a for instance from season five (which runs so long the theme music actually goes back to the beginning and starts again):
    "The Streets of San Francisco, a Quinn Martin Production. Starring Karl Malden. Special Guest Star Michael Douglas. Also Starring Richard Hatch. With Guest Stars In Alphabetical Order: Patty Duke Astin, Darleen Carr, Tina Chen, Jan Clayton, Susan Dey, Norman Fell, Gary Frank, Paula Kelly, Jim McMullan, Doris Roberts, James Shigeta, Barry Sullivan, Dick Van Patten, Joseph Wiseman. Tonight's Episode: 'The Thrill Killers - Part 1.'"note 
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Dead Or Alive," the wealthy father of a young woman who's beaten, raped and murdered offers a reward of a million dollars for the killer's capture. The greed the reward generates results in three people being in hospital, including the killer (who's shot by a shopkeeper with dollar signs in his eyes while trying to escape from Stone), and the episode ends without their fates known. It also results in a cop on the verge of retirement getting a friend of his involved in a scheme to catch the guy and split the reward, which winds up with the cop being kicked off the force and his friend being shot and killed. And the father may or may not be facing charges of complicity and involvement with murder himself, since it was basically his fault.
  • Papa Wolf: Comes out when Stone's daughter starts dating a motorcycle cop in "Hot Dog."
  • Pilot Movie: Based on the novel Poor, Poor Ophelia by Carolyn Weston.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: "Superstar," about a New York cop who comes to San Francisco to find his partner's killer and sticks around - in other words, McCloud in reverse - led into the short-lived Spinoff Bert D'Angelo Superstar (which actually began its network run two weeks before the episode aired).
  • Put on a Bus: At the start of season 5 Keller leaves the force to begin a teaching career.
  • Reunion Show: 1992's Back to the Streets of San Francisco, with Karl Malden and Darleen Carr (who played the recurring character of his daughter Jeannie on the original series). Michael Douglas doesn't appear, although he did play a San Francisco cop in another production that year. The hunt for his murderer is a major plot element.
  • Setting as a Character: Quinn Martin called the titular city "the third star of the series".
  • Shown Their Work: The authenticity of the portrayal of the SFPD.
  • Society Marches On: There is an early episode where a critically wounded cop is rushed to the hospital and nothing is done for him en route beyond Karl Malden's character holding his hand sympathetically. As a result, with the widespread adaptation of paramedics that the contemporary series, Emergency!, helped encourage, it looks criminally negligent to modern viewers to see an emergency patient being transported like that without being treated along the way.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Inspector Dan Robbins, Richard Hatch's character.
  • Time Marches On: "I Ain't Marchin' Anymore" concerns a Vietnam draft dodger back in San Francisco after running to Canada - in between filming of the episode and its first airing, then-President Ford stated that amnesty would be given to such dodgers. As a result, the episode has a rare second voiceover from Hank Simms specifying that the episode takes place before amnesty was declared.

Alternative Title(s):

The Streets Of San Fransisco