YMMV / Northern Exposure

  • Absentee Actor:
    • Starts to happen a lot more from the third season onward, especially when an episode breaks the usual Two Lines, No Waiting structure and focuses on a single story, perhaps even taking the action out of Cicely in the process.
    • Season 3's "Three Amigos" is the first episode in which neither Joel nor Maggie appear. The focus is entirely on Holling and Maurice's friendship, with some of the other main characters only appearing at the beginning and end of the episode.
    • On the flipside, Joel and Maggie are the only main characters to appear in Season 4's "Grosse Point, 48230".
    • This almost happened with Maggie in "Tranquility Base", which was not planned to be the finale when it was written. When the writers found out the series had been cancelled, she was hastily written into the end of the episode so that all the characters could be present in the final act.
  • Deader Than Disco: Went from being an acclaimed cult hit and winner of multiple awards to being voted one of the 12 worst series of all time by Rolling Stone.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: (Values Dissonance ?) In one episode, Shelly is trying to impress Holling, by learning about the time of his youth, and trying to hold an intelligent conversation. Holling is bewildered by this turn of events, and eventually tells her she doesn't have to do this, since he only likes her for her body. This is played as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
    • It's not meant to be taken at face value. It's obvious through Holling's actions that he cares deeply for Shelly; he'd just rather have sex with her than have long conversations.
    • It could also be a Spoof Aesop. Remember that this show has a habit of turning stereotypes and cliches inside out, and that this is often Played for Laughs.
    • Sensible character interpretation is that Holling just wants to take the pressure off her. This leaves us with Shelly still being The Ditz, but it's not put through in a mean way.
  • Retroactive Recognition: James Marsters appears in two episodes of the series (playing a different character in each) in seasons three and four respectively.
  • The Woobie: Poor, poor Ed. Few things ever seem to go right for him, and when they do, they don't seem to last long. Yet he takes almost all of it in stride, even when characters like Maurice are insulting him to his face.