Series: Vengeance Unlimited

In a post-O.J. world, when people really wanted their vengeance served to them on a silver platter, ABC delivered: a 1998 series that starred Michael Madsen as Mr. Chapel, a vigilante who makes sure those bad guys who thought they got away don't really get away. Someone killed your father and blamed your husband? Someone cashing in on a book deal after getting away with offing someone you hold dear? One quick call to Chapel, and he'll make all your problems go away. Even better, he doesn't use guns, nor does he kill anyone.

There is, as with all sweet deals, one slight hitch. His fee is $1 million. Oh, don't worry, you don't actually have to give him any money. However, in lieu of the fee, you are on the hook for a favor to be called in at any time in the future. And believe you, he will call you for it.

He does have help: K.C. Griffin (Kathleen York), a former client who has long since paid off her favor, but feels what Chapel feels: A desire to set wrongs right...with torture if necessary. (Hey, torture's not killing, is it?)

The series was quite critically panned for its subject matter, as Chapel did some mighty bad things, and the timing of its release—as noted, right after the O.J. trial. ABC thought it good enough to go up against the juggernauts on Thursday nights. Unfortunately, the gambit failed, and the series was canceled after 16 episodes, the last of which was named "Friends", in deference to the show that vanquished it.

Compare Stingray (1985) and Leverage.

Tropes:

  • Black and Gray Morality: Mr. Chapel's vigilantism is the Gray versus the perps' Black.
  • Catch Phrase: "This Makes Us Even. I'm out of your life forever."
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: A "heroic" example, as Chapel downs an accomplice with formaldehyde this way.
  • Dark and Troubled Past/Mysterious Past: Why has Chapel chosen this line of work? He refers to once having had "a really bad Monday", but never elaborates.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: But he will hand you over to people who do.
  • Engineered Public Confession: This is how Chapel gets one persistent fangirl off his back, by making the perp who she idolizes admit to the murder he's targeting him for, with her watching via hidden camera.
  • Gaslighting: Chapel does this to his mark in "Critical"...and apparently he had an entire restaurant full of former clients with favors to pay back.
  • Na´ve Newcomer: K.C. cashes in her favor in the pilot, then sticks around.
  • Open Heart Dentistry: When Mr. Chapel gets shot, he calls in a favor. Problem is, no doctors owe him a favor...but a veterinarian does.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: All of the targets are those who hurt people and got away with it.
  • Take That: "Critical", to...well...the critics.
    • As well as in "Friends":
    Victim of the week: You contaminated my clothes with flesh-eating bacteria!?!?
    Chapel: This isn't Touched by an Angel.
  • Technical Pacifist: Chapel doesn't use guns or kill. He lets other people take care of that.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: In "Clique," Chapel at one point walks out of a room while humming the Vengeance Unlimited theme song.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: But Chapel is open to anything else.
  • Vigilante Man: Chapel of course.
  • We Help the Helpless: Chapel and KC...and if you can't pay, just be ready for a favor.
  • You Owe Me: A million dollars or a favor. Most go for the favor. Turned around on Chapel by the computer genius in "Critical", who could've turned him in...but didn't. The same ep had the only client in the series who paid the million rather than the favor.