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Creator / Stephen J. Cannell

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The man, his typewriter, and (some of) his awards.

"(Stephen J. Cannell) still gets branded Johnny One-Note (yet has anyone ever noticed any similarity between The Greatest American Hero and Baa Baa Black Sheep except that both involve flying?)."
The Los Angeles Times

Stephen Joseph Cannell (February 5, 1941 September 30, 2010) was an American television producer, known for creating or co-creating such highly successful series as The Rockford Files, The A-Team, The Greatest American Hero, Hardcastle and McCormick, 21 Jump Street, and The Commish. Suffered from dyslexia. Famously appeared in his Vanity Plates working at a typewriter and also as the on camera host of Scene of the Crime and U.S. Customs Classified; he also acted on occasion, most notably as the Big Bad on Renegade (another series from his company), and wrote a number of novels, most notably a crime-thriller series featuring LAPD detective Shane Scully.

Also played poker with a fictional crime writer. He died in 2010; his seat, chips, and whiskey remain at his spot to this day. (Cannell has a posthumous executive producer credit on 21 Jump Street and its sequel; he also helped produce some movies when he was actually with us, such as the movie version of The A-Team and The Poker House. His company produced at least one regular non-pilot Made-for-TV Movie, 1981's Midnight Offerings written by frequent collaborator Juanita Bartlett.

Series from Cannell (created or co-created by, except where noted with an asterisk):


  • The Cameo: Regularly on Castle as himself, and in episodes of his own Tenspeed And Brown Shoe and Silk Stalkings.
  • Compilation Movie: The three-part series opener of City of Angels, "The November Plan," was later edited into a feature film and released to cinemas internationally under that title.
  • Descended Creator: Cannell himself played the evil Lt. Donald Dixon on Renegade.
  • Follow the Leader: The Last Precinct, Cannell's only Sitcom (created with regular collaborator Frank Lupo), was clearly patterned after Police Academy (in the pilot a character even says "How [the cops] got out of the police academy I'll never know").
  • Nice Guy: Despite the fact that his popular self-titled production logo scared some fans (particularly children), he was known as a really decent and likable guy. For most children of The '80s, his face and logo was as beloved as another certain cult classic logo, a reassurance that they just watched (or will be watching) a very cool action adventure show. Also, when The Simpsons paid homage to his closing logo in the episode. "The Front", he loved it so much, upon meeting showrunner at the time, Mike Reiss, he gave him a hug.
  • What Could Have Been: 1980's Nightside was a pilot for a never-made series which was created by Cannell and Glen A. Larson. Stephen J. Cannell and Glen A. Larson - it would have been a 1980s TV dream come true.
    • In 1997 CBS asked him to oversee a revival of Hawaii Five-O, but it didn't turn out too well (among other things, he brought back Chin Ho — who had been Killed Off for Real). Said pilot has never been made available to the public in any form to this day, and with the successful new version almost certainly will never be screened in the future.