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    Jessica Beatrice Fletcher 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jessicafletcher1.jpg
There are three things you can never have enough of in life, Lieutenant: chocolate, friends and the theatre.
Jessica Beatrice "J.B." Fletcher (née McGill)
Played by: Angela Lansbury
Debut: "The Murder Of Sherlock Holmes"

"Hello! How do you do? I'm Jessica Fletcher."

The protagonist and emerging mystery writer from the fictional town of Cabot Cove, Maine. She's a very nice, sweet old lady with impeccable manners, polished vocabulary and a very gentle disposition. Initially just an ordinary, widowed teacher until her nephew Grady sent a manuscript (against her consent, of course), which she wrote in her spare time, to a publisher. To the surprise of no one, Jessica became an international phenomenon in the field of mystery fiction. In later seasons, she takes up a Criminology teaching position in college.

Jessica, or Mrs. Fletcher as she is affectionately called, has an extremely inquisitive mind, near-photographic memory, and a brilliant gift for noticing the tiny details that even the most talented criminals ignore, which ultimately lead these criminals to their doom. Even when it's obvious that Jessica is far more qualified for the job than, say, a bumbling sheriff, she is very respectful of authority figures - even if they are either absolutely incompetent or huge dicks. She is best known, however, for her mastery of strategies and plans to ultimately corner the culprits.

  • And Now You Must Marry Me: People on occasion hit on her and even try to get her to marry them. Of course, she turns them all down.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: That position of respect that she has? She earned it.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Why she is so well liked by people - and why things usually seem to work out for her.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Plenty of people have learned the hard way that if Jessica Fletcher is involved with a murder investigation (and especially if the victim or main suspect is someone she cares about) and you're the guilty party, that sweet old lady is going to make sure you are going to jail. The best example of this trope appears in "Death Stalks The Big Top, Part 2," where Jessica helps coerce the killer into revealing the evidence incriminating him for his murders and sabotage by pretending he's gonna be fed to the lions in order to make sure he pays for what he's done. Jessica's acting is so cold and flawless, it helps illustrate this simple point: do not fuck with J.B. Fletcher.
  • Big "NO!": In "South by Southwest" while exposing the Big Bad.
    Jessica: [...] But it matches the handwriting on your dining car check!
    Sarah: Yes, I wrote that... for Peter as a memento!
    Jessica: NOOOOO. You wrote this and planted it in Peter's house! Hoping that I'd remember the discussion we had on the train about the cabin and go up there!
  • Bluffing the Murderer: One of her various tactics, and very effective.
  • Breakout Character: The character became a defining element of Angela Lansbury's career - and that of the producers. She remains popular today and has inspired thousands of new writers.
  • Catchphrase:
    "Oh, hello!"
    "How do you do? I'm Jessica Fletcher."
    "Oh, my goodness!"
    "Yes, of course."
  • Celibate Hero: Usually doesn't go out with men, nor does she have any romantic interests aside from a brief fling in part 2 of the pilot that never got anywhere. When she does go on dates or dinner nights, her refusals are polite, but firm.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Far more obvious in the movies than the series.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: God help you if you are somehow distressed. Jessica will help you, and no amount of refusals will change her mind.
  • Cool Aunt: Her assorted nieces and nephews see her this way - especially Grady, whom she raised.
  • Cool Old Lady: A famous example of the crime fighter old lady variety.
  • Coupled Couples: Jessica and her husband Frank were this with Seth and his wife when all four were alive. There are a number of remarks dropped by Jessica and Seth which indicate that the four were very close; now that they're both widowed, the writer and the doctor remain firm friends.
  • Damsel in Distress: Subverted. This is usually an act to corner the villain. Her background in theatre helps. Then the fangs come out.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She always seems to have an especially prepared comeback or insult, politely written, ready to be delivered at any time. She is basically the patron saint of Downton Abbey.
    Lt. Spoletti: Why is it I always figure gorgeous blondes are lying to me?
  • Disappointed by the Motive: Jessica hates certain kinds of motivations. She always makes sure the culprit hears it.
  • Dude Magnet: Her charming personality makes desirable to certain characters, primarily the ones she's known the longest.
  • Dull Surprise: Played for laughs, usually.
  • Eureka Moment: Her face lights up and her whole demeanor changes when she figures something out.
  • Exact Words: One of the keys to her success - and the final nail in the coffin for culprits from time to time. Occasionally played for Rule of Funny.
  • Expy: Inspired by Miss Marple.
  • Friend to All Living Things: She loves animals, even if said animal is a dog trained to attack strangers on sight (Hannibal in "South by Southwest"). She is seen with a canary in season two.
  • Friend to All Children: Jessica is very close to children, especially since she never had any children with her husband Frank. In "South by Southwest," she even lets Joe borrow a Game Boy. Everyone forgets about it until said Game Boy turns out to be the ultimate clue that shuts the case closed. To make it up to Joe (and in exchange for a promise to not play so much), Jessica orders a new Game Boy for him!
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: She never swears in the show. At all.
  • Happily Married: Her relationship with her husband was like this. Even after his death, Jessica still thinks fondly of him.
  • Hidden Wire: Part of her strategies.
  • Idiot Ball: On occasion.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Crosses over with Exact Words.
  • Insistent Terminology: Refers to a Game Boy as an "electronic game."
  • Large Ham: Subtle, but occasionally slips into this when exposing a culprit.
    Jessica: You're looking for the murderer of Peter Hayward. *hand gestures to the culprit* THERE she is.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: We never learn the specifics, but she and Frank were unable to have children of their own, and apparently wanted them.
  • Little Old Lady Investigates: If Miss Marple is the saint, Jessica might as well be the apostle of the trope!
  • Married to the Job: Several people call her out on this - especially Seth in "Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall". Jessica is not amused.
    Seth: Yes. You have been working on your book. You're always working on a book, Jessica. I wonder sometimes how you can tell them apart.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya
  • Mystery Magnet: People drop dead around Jessica everywhere she goes. Everywhere. It's creepy.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast
  • Nerves of Steel: Jessica is very resilient. She's not easy to scare, startle, or otherwise frighten, especially when she's staring death in the face. If she is scared or startled, you have a serious problem. If you cause said distress...
  • Never Mess with Granny: At first, law enforcement doesn't take her seriously, flat out mocks her, takes sexist potshots at her and pays her zero attention whatsoever. By the time of "South by Southwest," even the United States government thinks twice before making such assertions. In that particular movie, she actually manages to infiltrate the NSA.
  • Nice Girl: Even gives away houses.
  • Nice to the Waiter
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever problems she may have had with Eamon Byrne before the events of "The Celtic Riddle" are never revealed, but it's heavily implied that both were greatly hurt by it. It's implied Eamon was going to kill himself before Jessica managed to talk him down.
  • Not So Above It All: She can get downright silly, or even petty. It's usually Played for Laughs, however.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Oh boy. Jessica doesn't hesitate to play up her "little old lady" image to get information out of people. In a few instances she even plays a drunken floozy with surprising skill, which may be justified since Jessica has a history of theater in her background.
  • Oh, Crap!: Very rarely.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Not very often, but most notable in the first few seasons.
  • The Power of Friendship: Whenever she's not busy hunting down culprits or researching stuff for her books, this is her main modus operandi.
  • Proper Lady
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Heavily implied in the season one finale. When she learns that a character was conceived from a vicious rape, she promises the people who tell her of said secret to never tell her, if only because the girl has suffered so much in the episode that learning this fact would break her. In addition, whenever the subject of rape comes up (such as the prison riot), she immediately shows sympathy to the victims and barely asks questions.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: She doesn't just point fingers at people. She gathers all possible clues, talks to all people, and waits until she either figures out the culprit's identity, or realizes a critical fact with unrelated information. Until then, she treats everyone fairly and is more than willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, even if that person is an asshole. If someone is suspected of being a culprit and they vehemently deny their involvement, she is willing to hear them out.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Specializes in this.
  • Refusal of the Call: New York forces her to reserve a train back home due to rookie mistakes related to her newly found fame as a mystery writer. These mistakes, unfortunately, were blown out of proportion so badly that she was ready to give up and go home.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: As expected, she has an excellent vocabulary.
  • Sherlock Scan: Her talent for remembering people and things stems from this.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Oh, yes.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The whole show is basically Jessica's beliefs being tested by corrupt executives, gangsters, murderers, white collar crime, rapists, familial arguments and a legal system in serious need of some cleanup. She consistently remains on the idealistic side, refusing to compromise her strong moral compass, even in the face of danger. She makes it very clear in "A Story to Die For" that, no matter what happens, she will never compromise her beliefs.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: She has a lot of friends.
  • Took a Level in Badass: About, oh, once or twice per season. Totally normal. Taken to the ultimate, logical extreme in "South by Southwest" when she not only bluffs a soldier into giving her access to a hidden, classified NSA facility, but even calmly talks to the facility's head honcho, calls him out on his inefficiency, and makes no secret of trying to get access to confidential US Government files - all with a perfectly calm demeanor. She wasn't even interested in the files in the first place:
    Wilder: ...Mrs. Fletcher. I am not going to apologize for the way that you were just treated! This facility is classified, top—
    Wilder: What.
  • Take That!: Not afraid of these.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Depending on the viewer, she's got one with Dr. Hazlitt. While they are mostly Platonic Life-Partners, and neither of them acts on it overtly, there are a suspicious number of times Seth drives Jessica home, and she then invites him in for coffee, upping the ante with pie if he shows any reluctance.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Grady is the one responsible for Jessica's fame. He sent her manuscript to a publisher under the pretense of helping her. She's not very happy with this... at first.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: To most of the family in "The Celtic Riddle", especially Rita and her boyfriend. Sometimes says this to a culprit as well.
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    Sheriff Amos Tupper 
Played by: Tom Bosley
Debut: "Deadly Lady"

The sheriff of Cabot Cove, Maine. He's the resident bumbling cop as well as one of Jessica's many friends.


  • Police are Useless: Played with. He goes to Jessica whenever he has a murder case. Sometimes he correctly guesses the murderer, but other times he just points the finger at the wrong person.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Has some issues about hiring a woman to be one of his deputies in "Who Threw the Barbitals in Mrs. Fletcher's Chowder?" but eventually caves in despite his misgivings about her abilities (to be fair, her prior police experience was being a meter maid in Atlanta). Ironically, said female ends up being one of the more competent (if extremely gung-ho and rarely seen) Cabot Cove deputies on the show.
  • Put On The Bus: He retires as sheriff in season 4 and goes to live with his sister.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He lets Jessica in on his investigations, and for the most part a pretty amiable person and will occasionally bend the law if needed. He also makes a point of telling his successor, Sheriff Metzger, to go to Jessica whenever he has trouble with a case.
  • Smarter Than You Look: He sometimes proves himself to be pretty smart even without Jessica's help. In "Murder Takes the Bus", he figures out who the killer is based on some facts he knew from a previous job as a bus driver, combined with the names of the suspects and previous knowledge of a case to which the murder victim had been connected, although Amos is a little incorrect about how the murder actually happened. When Jessica finally finds out how the murder happened exactly, she realizes she was over-thinking things and apologizes to Amos, saying he had been right all along.
  • Third Wheel: He seems to act like this when Seth tries to spend time with Jessica.

    Sheriff Mort Metzger 
Played by: Ron Masak
Debut: "Mr. Penroy's Vacation"

Sheriff of Cabot Cove after Amos's retirement. He used to be a cop in New York, coming to Cabot Cove for a more quiet life.


  • Alliterative Name: Mort Metzger.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Despite his strained relationship with his younger brother, he still cares about him and his well-being.
  • By-the-Book Cop: He follows the rules (for the most part) according to the police's guidelines. In "Moving Violation," he arrests the murder victim for a great deal of charges (driving through a stop sign, having an open bottle of alcohol in his front seat, attempting to bribe an officer, attacking said police officer, etc.).
  • Clear My Name: "Moving Violation" centers around this.
  • Happily Married: To his wife Norma, who never appears in the show.
  • Naïve Newcomer: He moves to Cabot Cove, thinking it would be a nice quiet town. He quickly discovers it's the opposite.
  • Police are Useless: Just like his predecessor, he occasionally flirts with this trope.
  • Police Brutality: Subverted with "Moving Violation." Half the episode makes it look like he killed the victim, especially since he had a reasonable motive.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Sometimes, like in "Weave A Tangled Web" where he and Seth think that a working woman that supports her House Husband (who runs his own business but stays home while she goes on business trips) is also less likely to be faithful to him, even citing this as the motive of the first suspect of the episode for killing her supposed lover. It's almost no spoiler that he's wrong about both the main suspects, the career woman and the also working House Husband, especially the latter because it's pointed out by Jessica as an obvious Frame-Up..

    Dr. Seth Hazlitt  
Played by: William Windom
A resident doctor of Cabot Cove and a close friend of Jessica's.
  • Brutal Honesty: Not afraid of it, that's for sure. Though he doesn't enjoy it when he takes Jessica to task for getting too absorbed in her novel writing to the point of escapism and it's clear he's just as upset as she is.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In contrast to Jessica's polite, pleasant personality, Seth does not hold back on insults.
  • December–December Romance: Maybe. Jessica and Seth spend considerable time together. Opinions differ on whether they are a Chastity Couple or Friends with Benefits, although there are a suspicious number of times Seth offers to drive Jessica home, and Jessica then invites him in for coffee, pie, fresh-baked bread, or other temptations. When Seth is poisoned and almost dies, Jessica's distress is marked, and her relief at his survival brings a tear to the eye. In "Unfinished Business," the sheriff can't reach Dr. Hazlitt, and despite it being quite late he calls up Jessica and asks if he's with her. They're either this trope or else Platonic Life-Partners.
  • Grumpy Old Man: The endearing variety of the trope. It's implied that he plays up the persona and is not nearly as grumpy as he seems.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: It's never specified what exactly Seth specializes in, or if he's a small-town general practitioner. He's the closest Cabot Cove has to a forensics expert, though.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Very much a good man and excellent doctor that's saved lives, but he agrees with Metzger's sentiments about women bread-winners and acted like a Jerkass to a young doctor just because he favored modern technology over Seth's Good Old Ways of medicine, though in the latter he and young doctor realize they can learn from and respect each other.
  • The One That Got Away: One episode reveals that as a young man, he and his brother had been in love with the same woman. Rather than let the Love Triangle completely ruin his relationship with his brother, Seth left town. His brother married the woman; Seth himself was Happily Married to someone else in Cabot Cove. The whole matter still strained things between the brothers, but they finally make peace just in time for the brother to be murdered.
  • Smart People Play Chess: He's seen playing chess with Jessica in at least one episode.
  • Southern-Fried Genius

     Grady Fletcher 
Played by: Michael Horton
Jessica Fletcher's recurring nephew. Both his love life and profession have a tendency to go downhill very quickly.

  • Adorkable: He's unlucky with almost everything, gaining and losing jobs and girlfriends once every episode or so. He's also a nice, enthusiastic guy and very devoted and helpful to his aunt.
  • Born Unlucky: Inevitably, Grady will always get accused of murder and likely spend at least a little time in jail. He also goes through quite a few girlfriends in earlier seasons.
  • Happily Adopted: Grady was orphaned young and raised by his loving childless aunt and uncle. Grady is absolutely devoted to Jessica.
  • Happily Ever After: In later seasons, he marries his longtime girlfriend Donna, and they have a baby.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: In the show's pilot episode, we learn early on that Grady showed one of Jessica's manuscripts to a friend of his, without Jessica's knowledge or consent. Said friend passed it along to a publisher, and within a matter of days Jessica's career as a mystery writer is well on its way. This also makes him accidentally responsible for Jessica becoming a part-time detective, given that many of her cases come to her attention because of her traveling to meet demands as a writer.
  • Unluckily Lucky: On the one hand, he has unfortunate luck with jobs and girlfriends (up until he meets Donna, his eventual wife) and has been accused of murder more than his share. On the other hand, he has Jessica Fletcher, the best detective in the world, as his aunt, meaning he'll always get cleared.

     Michael Hagarty 
Played by: Len Cariou

A friend of Jessica's that works for MI-6. As he is a spy, Hagarty's cases tend to be international incidents.

  • The Charmer: Often invokes this as part of his undercover operations or other crime-fighting activities. Jessica is more often seen to be exasperated by it than anything, since he frequently uses it on her to hide his true motives for doing something.
  • Fighting Irish: When it's demanded of him, he's willing to get physical. However, he generally does not go into situations without a plan.
  • Indy Ploy: If it's demanded of him. In one of his appearances, he holds Jessica and another character at gunpoint so they have a solid case that they were captives, not accomplices.

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     Harry McGraw 
Played by Jerry Orbach

A private detective Jessica meets and befriends in New York.

     Dennis Stanton 
Played by Keith Michell

A former thief who's now gone straight... er.

  • Cane Fu: Stanton's walking stick is a Swiss Army Weapon, but he is also very adept at using the stick as a weapon in its own right.
  • Cool Car
  • Gentleman Thief: Before his reformation. During the series proper, he's switched to investigating insurance fraud cases.
  • Nice Guy: Even when he was a Justified Criminal seeking revenge for his late wife and is still a polite man all around. But he's no pushover.
  • Reformed, but Not Tamed: No longer a criminal and very dedicated to his job as an insurance investigator after his first appearance, but if someone is in trouble he'll go out of his way to use his job as an excuse to help them. It drives his superior crazy, but Dennis always accomplishes his official objectives (it just takes a little more time) and probably makes his employers look better in the process by going the extra mile to help their clients.
  • Scoundrel Code: During his burgling years, he maintained his own strict code of conduct: never steal anything his victims couldn't afford to lose, never steal anything of sentimental value to the victim, and only steal items insured by a specific insurance company. The last one is for personal revenge, as the company in question refused to pay for a treatment that could have saved his wife's life.
  • Swiss Army Weapon: His umbrella, which he always carries with him. It has, among other things, a dart launcher in the tip, and the handle seems to have both a blade attachment and a lock pick. That's not including Stanton's own expertise with it as a weapon on its own.


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