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Podcast / Black Jack Justice

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"Once again Decoder Ring Theatre presents another page from the casebook of that master of mystery, that sultan of sleuthing, Martin Bracknell's immortal detective Black Jack Justice."

One of several online Podcast series from Decoder Ring Theatre. This one homages the "mystery noir" programs of the 1940s and 50s.

Jonathan J. Justice, also known as "Black Jack," is a Private Detective who, along with his associate, Trixie Dixon, Girl Detective, solves cases for the modest fee of $39.95 a day, plus expenses. While they normally deal with mundane cases (most often watching spouses for signs of disloyalty), they will frequently get wrapped up in much larger, and more dangerous cases, much to the annoyance of their public detective friend, Lt. Victor Sabien.

The series takes place shortly after the end of World War II, in an unidentified city in the United States, presumably further north than Chicago or New York (as going to either is considered going "down").

This series contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Trixie knows how to use a gun and solves as many cases as Jack does; Trixie is often the rescuer when Jack gets himself into trouble.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: The episode "A Simple Case of Black and White" sees Jack and Trixie's client, Jim White, shot dead from a gunshot to the stomach. Jack and Sabien, both WWII veterans with experience with such wounds, comment on what kind of death that had to be. White hired the detectives to find the woman and child he ran out on. At first, it seems like White's murderer was his ex's current husband, Donald Black, as the gun used to shoot him was registered in Black's name. Later it comes out the gun went missing over a year ago. Jack and Trixie eventually determine that White stole the gun and shot himself with it, intending to frame Black for his death for taking his family from him. They further realize that White deliberately shot himself in the stomach precisely because it would be a long and painful death. He used the time he was dying to flush the evidence it was Suicide, Not Murder down the toilet.
  • Badass in Distress: One of Jack's many talents is to get into trouble, try to get out of it and get saved by Trixie. Sometimes the roles are reversed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Justice and The Deluge", you know things are going downhill when Jack starts the episode bright eyed and chipper on a rainy day. The detectives are approached by a man seeking his runaway sister, only to learn that her "brother" is a stalker that's pursued her across multiple states and cities. The sweet comes in that the detectives help this woman, one of the first people we see Jack be truly personable and compassionate with, get away from her stalker for good by sending him on a wild goose chase and sending her in the opposite direction. The "bitter", warranting even a Moment of Silence save the sound of a train leaving the station, is Jack lamenting having to let her go for her own safety.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Trixie keeps calling Jack an idiot, even though he's clearly about as intelligent and well-read as she is. She also says he's unattractive, even though female clients keep walking in and flirting with him. On the other hand, he's not her type. Ironically, she likes men who are dumb enough to manipulate, which he is clearly not.
    • In the novel, an Origins Episode, we learn how they met. He sneaks up on her, outguns her, outwits her, and doesn't hit on her. No wonder this is irritating.
    • Trixie also insists that she isn't vain... before lapsing into flattering descriptions of herself and assuring the audience that she is better-looking than the gorgeous clients.
  • Bottle Episode:
    • The tenth-season episode, The Road To Hell. The episode consists almost entirely of Jack and Trixie bickering with one another as they trail a client's husband by car. While it's not actually tied to one location (which would not be a problem for an audio drama anyway), no other character has any speaking lines in the entire episode, and Jack and Trixie spend most of their time in the car and getting on each other's nerves.
    • Another episode played with the concept; it took place entirely in a single car. If it were a TV show, it would probably be a Bottle episode...except for the part where every single member of the regular and recurring cast somehow end up in and out of that car over the course of the installment. Except Sabien and Braithwaite, and their actor Gregg Taylor gets a cameo as the police radio dispatch anyway.
  • Brain Bleach:
    Jack: I'm not the one that was making nice with Freddy's identical cousin.
    Trixie: Don't remind me. I'll have to wash my imagination twice.
    Herman: Freddy! Is Dolly your girl?
    Trixie: Ugh... three times.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Sometimes the narrative is cut short because someone is wondering why the narrator hasn't spoken or has a weird look on their face. In one case, a very hung-over Jack actually concludes his monologue out loud. ("See what I mean? Oh, was that out loud?") In episode 51, Jack actually refers directly to the fact that it is episode 51 in his opening monologue.
    • "Cops and Robbers" takes place in a car, and Trixie shoos everyone out so she can deliver her closing monologue.
  • Breather Episode:
    • "Much Ado About Norman" is a hilarious, easygoing misadventure sandwiched between "The Reunion" a twisted family piece, and "Dance, Justice, Dance", perhaps one of the most action packed episodes in the series.
    • "The Albatross" is one is the series most serious episodes, touching on pre-Civil Rights Movement racism in a way no other episode does and forcing Papa Wolf Lieutenant Sabien to decide What You Are in the Dark when holding the life of a man who killed a pregnant black teenager in his hands. It is buffeted on both sides by much more light-hearted episodes. Before it is the Lower-Deck Episode "Cops and Robbers", in which Freddie the Finger distracts a bumbling Sergeant Nelson, and followed by "Man's Best Friend", whose Private Eye Monologue is primarily delivered by King the dog.
  • The Cameo: Mary Jo Pehl appears in "A Midsummer Night's Noir" as Anna Castle, star of an extraordinarily cheesy detective movie. Appropriately enough, Jack and Freddy spend part of the episode heckling the movie as they watch it.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Jack and Trixie share two, both being responses to insults they can't disagree with: "That's tough, but fair" and "That's probably true, but you still shouldn't say it." Usually said in the middle of one of their usual Snark-to-Snark Combat sessions.
    • People call Trixie "Miss Dixon", which she responds to with "Trixie, please!" Apparently she's so used to this that she's not even aware she says it, which in one instance actually contributes to the solution of a case when Jack stops her from doing it while the woman they're speaking to, a woman they'd met previously doing a Twin Switch, calls her Trixie.
    • She's also prone to tell Jack that "I hate you" whenever he annoys her.
  • Characterization Marches On: In the first episode the coffee is "not very good, nor very fresh," but in the very next episode Jack is a coffee expert who can and will go out of his way for coffee, and frequent references are made to the quality of his Columbian blend.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In one episode, Trixie's narration mentions that Sabien has a 17-year old daughter. Several episodes later, in "The Albatross", he comes to the pair to hire them. A pregnant teenage black girl was found dead in an apartment, and everyone - possibly including the black community - writes it off as just another crime in that part of town. Everyone except Sabien, who takes it very seriously. Neither of our detectives say why, but it's clear they understand.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Jack and Trixie try their damnedest to remain mercenaries in the world of Law and Order, but will frequently go out of their way to help the people that hire them, and some that don't. "Justice in Love and War" features the pair helping a random man Jack found beaten up in the street rescue the girl he loves from a vengeful crime boss at high risk and no pay, and ends on Jack monologuing that the letter telling them the couple was doing well, had a baby on the way, and making promises that wouldn't come to pass about the baby's name was the finest reward they ever got.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Retroactively: the novel is an Origins Episode and introduces a number of interesting characters who never appeared in the audio drama.
  • City with No Name: We never find out just the name of the city the series is based in, though Jack's closing monologue in "Palookaville Express" jokes about how Trixie of the Northwest Mounted Police got her man, as usual.
  • Clear My Name:
    • Jack is often accused by Homicide detective Sabien for murdering whoever was murdered in the episode.
      Sabien always thinks I did it, and he always ends up with the right guy behind bars.
    • Forms the plot of the Dead Men Run novel, as Jack is set up as a Cop Killer to send him running and make sure the cops won't worry about taking him alive.
  • Companion Cube: The episode "Now Who's the Dummy" features what is effectively a custody battle between two ventriloquists, Tom Simon and Leo Jones, neither of whom seem able to grasp that their dummies aren't actually people. When the two are face to face, Jones pulls a gun on everyone twice and has to be talked down by Simple, the dummy they're fighting over and which is currently in Jones' possession. Once that's settled, Simon's puppet, Morty, pulls his own weapon. Jack and Trixie can only lampshade the absurdity of it all.
    Trixie: The puppet has a cap gun tied to his hand!
    Jack: The nervous guy with the real gun is taking this seriously.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: Freddy "the Finger" Hawthorne plays this to Jack on occasion. He's mostly the Knowledge Broker and informant, but does (rather reluctantly) join in on some cases in a sidekick role to Jack. If Trixie's also present she will frequently and savagely express her annoyance at this.
  • Cowboy Cop: Lieutenant Sabien ("As for our friend "Ricky..." Someone once told him cops played by the rules. Exceptions are a slippery slope, and he was about to find that out.")
  • Darker and Edgier: Oh it's less violent and action oriented than Red Panda Adventures, but it's pretty clear that there isn't going to be much victory champagne to be passed around either. The city is full of mentally and physically scarred World War II vets, some of whom have turned to organized crime for greed or survival; there's murder, theft, and blackmail from the ivory towers to the darkest alleys to the quaintest suburban homes; And some cases like in "Justice and The Deluge" and "The Beefsteak Botheration" reveal just how terrible and crummy people can be. There are moments of levity, but it's a world where our heroes, the police, and the city undertaker, will never be too short of work; a world not of crusades but of everyday survival.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • The episode "Cops and Robbers" has Sergeant Nelson, Freddy "The Finger" and "Button-down" Theo in the main roles, while Jack and Trixie play minor parts.
    • Likewise, the episode "Man's Best Friend" is narrated by King, Jr, the agency dog.
    • In "The Empty Desk", with Jack inexplicably absent, "Button Down" Theo steps into the role of male lead for the duration. His hopes of a permanent "Dixon & West" arrangement are foiled by Jack's reappearance.
  • A Deadly Affair:
    • "Justice is Blind" features Jack and Trixie doing multiple weeks of stakeout on a man's wife and her lover. The husband, after great reluctance, asks for photographs of the affair to have solid proof. When they do just that, Jack and Trixie see the lover depart but not the wife. After several hours Jack goes to check and discovers the wife murdered. It's not long before Jack realizes that the whole thing was a set-up by the husband, meant to use the photographs Jack and Trixie took of the lover leaving to frame him for the crime.
    • The episode "Hush Money" has "Button-Down" Theo enlist Jack's and Trixie's aid in a case that involves paying off a blackmailer. The man doing the paying, Douglas Rose, is hesitant to go into specifics, saying only that the money is to deal with his past indiscretions. When a baby starts crying during the hand-off, the detectives discover during the drop that they aren't paying off a blackmailer, they're paying contract killers who were indeed going deal with Rose's "past indiscretion", mother and child both.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jack, Trixie, Sabien, and a lot of the one shot characters. In fact, most of the characters, recurring and one-shot, have traces of this.
  • Demoted to Extra: Mighty King, the office dog, was never actually a major character, but following his introduction in the second-season episode How Much Is That Gumshoe In The Window? he was a constant presence and occasional plot-mover who even got his own A Day in the Limelight episode, Man's Best Friend, in the sixth season. In the later seasons, though, he vanishes almost completely, only getting the occasional mention — usually mention as lying asleep on the couch.
  • Detective Drama: The "Closed" variety. The audience are as much in the dark as the detectives, as it's through their own monologues and discussions on the case that the solution becomes known.
  • Detective Patsy:
    • "Justice For Some" has Jack and Trixie hired by a man as incognito security at a showing of his family's heirloom jewelry. In the course of the episode no less than three notorious thieves show up at the event and, when the jewels go missing, they're immediately suspected. The only problem is that one had gone straight, another was scoping out the artwork in another room, and Jack managed to nab the third when the lights went out, ensuring he couldn't have done anything. The whole thing turns out to have been a plot by their client to steal the gems himself for the money, while one of the real thieves was set up for the crime.
    • "The Reunion" features a woman, Edie, hiring the detectives to help facilitate a reunion with her estranged twin sister, Jane. The patsy comes in when it's revealed that Edie is Jane. Jane murdered Edie in the heat of the moment and tried to pretend to make up, with Jack and Trixie as witnesses, so that she wouldn't be suspected when Edie was missed. Small inconsistencies in the situation trigger Jack's radar, making him suspicious throughout until he's able to confirm the truth while confronting Jane.
    • "The Do-Nothing Detectives" features a man named Raymond Davis giving Jack and Trixie $1,000 to cease working for their client Angela Barnes... who neither of them had ever actually met. The odd behavior is explained by the idea that Jack and Trixie would be witnesses when Angela Barnes turned up dead by suicide after apparently murdering their client. The man who hired them killed Angela Barnes and the real Raymond Davis, making sure to mess up the man's face so he couldn't be readily identified as not the man Jack and Trixie met. The whole thing falls apart because the whole situation is so suspicious Jack just has to investigate it despite their job literally being to do no such thing.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • "Payback" opens with Jack preparing to get even with the person responsible for him spending 30 days in jail by cleaning all of his guns. Noticing this, Trixie subverts the trope by selling Jack on much more proportionate retribution. By the end of it, the episode's killers are in jail, the client who'd screwed them over by running when he was a suspect spent time in jail before being exonerated, and the judge who sent Jack to jail in the first place was made to look foolish. Jack's narration states that it all felt exactly like getting thirty days of his life back.
    • "The Dead Duck" features a price being put on Jack's head, much to Trixie's delight due to the bounty being hilariously small. The episode ends with the reveal that the price was never on Jack's head, but Trixie's. The job came from a would-be suitor Trixie had spurned. The comically small bounty was his life savings, which he dedicated to killing Trixie for turning him down.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Inverted. Fredrick Josiah Hawthorne does not like Trixie's nickname for him ("Freddy the Finger"). Of course, the fact that he's a coward and she's not prevents him from doing much beyond complaining.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Many of the series' most serious episodes feature a woman in some form of abusive relationship. For example, "Justice Delayed" reveals that the murderer the detectives are trying to find is the man's own wife, who killed him in self-defense, while "Stormy Weather" is about Jack and Trixie laying a beatdown on a cheating husband who won't let one of his mistresses, of which there are at least two, leave him with threats of blackmail and death should she try. On the other hand, Trixie's tendency to chase away lovers who get too close with thrown beer bottles, gunplay, and insults tends to get played for laughs, such as how her chat with hotel detective Alf McKinney in "Auld Lang Syne" is played for laughs as Alf agrees to a rendezvous with Trixie while she asks him for information. The double-standard is notably dropped in "The One That Got Away", in which Button-Down Theo, a longtime admirer of Trixie's who was chased away in much the same fashion, took it seriously and found himself another woman he was set to marry. He outlines exactly why he stopped pursuing Trixie and suggests his reasons for why she does what she does. Trixie ends the episode giving Theo a congratulations and good luck.
  • Emergency Impersonation: One of Jack's clients, to whom he bore a passing resemblance, hired him to act as stand-in for a family "reunion." Because of this, the family, who wanted to kill the client for his inheritance, sent a hitman to kill Jack, instead.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: In "No Justice", Jack's attempts to provoke a mobster's "dumb gorilla" flunky initially fail because the mob boss can keep him under control. Then Jack insults his mother and all hell breaks loose.
    Jack: Never fails with these big dumb types! If you can't get 'em with the manhood, get 'em with the mother!
  • Evil Twin: Invoked and then Subverted in one episode. Invoked by their client's husband to explain away any crime someone might see him commit in The Problem of the Perplexing Pastiche
  • Exasperated Perp: Jack will often use this method to both get his captors angry enough to make mistakes (such as blurting out the truth), and to delay them until Trixie can arrive.
  • Excellent Judge of Character: In "The More Things Change", Jack and Trixie's client wants them to prove her fiancee is a good and virtuous man. Her great aunt, the family matriarch, disapproves of the marriage and the client wants to assure her all is well. The client's great aunt proves correct, however, when the detectives learn the fiancee is a crook. When the client refuses to believe that, Jack tells her point blank that her aunt's instincts for people just saved her from herself.
  • Exposition: The monologues aren't the only way the audience is clued in as to what's going on... given, of course, that they can't really see anything. Papers will be read out loud, and the characters will explain what's going on, even if it might be obvious to someone already there. This is Lampshaded in some cases. ("Why do you say that?" "A strange compulsion for exposition?")
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • A recurring event, if not Running Gag, is prospective clients entering Jack's and Trixie's office and immediately asking if they're detectives, despite having to walk through a door that clearly says, depending on where you are in the series, either "Jack Justice Investigations" or "Justice & Dixon, Private Investigations". Jack and Trixie are often quick to rib the visitors for this and are so used to it that, in "As The Northern Star", when a prospective client walks in without asking if he's at Justice & Dixon, Jack and Trixie are slow to react because they don't know how to react when someone doesn't ask the question. When this is explained to their visitor, Rawley, he has a theory as to why this happens.
      Rawley: I suggest that visitors to your office ask their obvious question in part because you and your partner stop and look at them as if the next line is theirs, and they can't think of anything else to say.
      Trixie: So it isn't that they're stupid, it's that we're rude?
      Rawley: Possibly.
      Trixie: It's probably true, but you still shouldn't say it.
    • In episode 67, "The Dead Duck", the client opens the door and asks if he's at Jack Justice Investigations. Jack says "yes" and Trixie says "no". It takes a few back-and-forths before it's made clear that their firm has been Justice & Dixon for several years by this point. To Trixie's irritation, the client leaves, only to come back and confirm if the "Justice" in "Justice & Dixon" is Jack Justice, which it is.
  • Female Gaze: In "Requiem for an Elf", Trixie and Lieutenant Sabien are examining what appears to be the corpse of Freddy the Finger, which Trixie insists is not Freddy. The body is unrecognizable because a gunshot to the head took out the face, but the body itself is in Freddy's most well-known hideout and matches Freddy's short, tubby physique, so when Sabien demands to know why Trixie is so certain it is not Freddy, Trixie reveals she has a bad habit Sabien does not. She frequently watches men as they leave a room, even if she knows full well she won't like what she sees, and because of that knows the body in front of them doesn't have Freddy's posterior. Sabien, whose previous statement that he could recognize Jack's fingerprints at a glance was referred to by Trixie as somewhere between "creepy" and "impressive", calls Trixie's ability to recognize a man by the shape of his butt much more "creepy" than "impressive".
  • Femme Fatale: Jack keeps falling for these. Luckily Trixie can spot them a mile away. Of course, Trixie herself fits the protagonist version of this trope (when she's not playing the Action Girl), so it's no surprise that she can recognize them.
  • Food as Bribe: Jack and Trixie, in later episodes, begin regularly bringing Sabien food or offering to treat him to someplace nice as a means of getting him to help them out.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Owen Grant, the Big Bad of the Dead Men Run novel, was a nasty piece of work dealing with sex trafficking and all but enslaving young girls. However, he always managed to skirt the law enough that nobody could make anything stick. Cue Jack and a cop buddy getting him busted for drug possession. The man had never been involved in that particular trade, but that didn't bother anyone on the side of law and order as he was sent to jail. Unfortunately, precisely because that was the only charge that he was convicted for, he was eventually released on parole and immediately set out on a revenge plot.
  • Friend on the Force: Lieutenant Sabien is nominally this to Jack and Trixie, though the friendship is more Vitriolic Best Buds than True Companions.
  • Genre Throwback: The series is an homage to film noir stories of the World War II era..
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: You like Christmas, right? So do the characters. It's an excellent expletive to use when something isn't going right. ("Aw, christmas!")
  • Hardboiled Detective: Both of them.
  • The Hyena: Sabien, if the humor is black enough, and if Jack is suffering enough.
  • I Found You Like This: Dorothy Evans found Jack outside her home after he was shot. She brought him in and nursed him back to consciousness. Unfortunately, there was no time to bring him back to health, as her call for an ambulance tipped off the dirty cop that shot him in the first place.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: In "Death and Taxes", Jack brings Freddy the Finger along on a job that involves staying the night in a deserted and potentially haunted house. Freddy tells Trixie that he is a student of the occult by virtue of having seen every Abbott and Costello movie, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy three times. He even compares one of the odd noises to the sound heard in one movie before Boris Karloff jumped out at Bud & Lou.
  • The Illegible: Serves as a Running Gag in the episode "The More Things Change". Jack and Trixie are hired by a woman who wants them to convince her aunt that the man she wants to marry is a good person. She suggests copious notes and that her aunt likes good penmanship. Jack retorts that they can do the former but she'll probably have to eat the latter. Jack later refers to the notes they're taking as a lot of not-very-much with bad penmanship to boot. During a discussion on the case later, Jack snarks at Trixie's notes.
    Your penmanship is awful. Auntie Viv would be appalled.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Sergeant Nelson isn't the brightest cop on the force by a long shot, but when it comes to a long shot, he can nail it with a pistol. ("Handguns aren't much of a distance weapon, no matter what you might see in the cowboy pictures.")
  • Improvised Weapon: Dot whams a dirty cop with a coal scuttle.
  • In-Series Nickname: Jack used his nickname because it was good for business. Jack earned his nickname by being sapped on a regular basis before the War.
  • I Shall Taunt You: In "No Justice", Jack is being questioned by mobster Chick Mason and his flunkies Monk and Hak. Jack spends as much time as possible insulting Dumb Muscle Hak to provoke him. He's initially thwarted because Mason can keep him under control. Then Jack insults his mother, and sends him into a blind rage, during which he ignores his boss to attack Jack. It is at that point Jack reveals he slipped out of his handcuffs ten minutes ago and proceeds to beat down Hak, Mason, and Monk in quick succession.
  • It Amused Me: In "The Do-Nothing Detective", Sabien handcuffs Jack and Trixie together. He tells them it's due to regulations, since at that moment they need to keep up a pretense of the duo being material witnesses. In his narration, Sabien admits it's because he thought it was funny.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Trixie genuinely believes in the law, will seduce, fight, and sleuth her way to the truth... but is a tad unpleasant to be around. ...except for those poor men to whom she has an interest in at the moment.
  • Jumping-On Point: The beginning of each season.
  • Knowledge Broker: Freddy "the Finger" Hawthorne is generally liked by the criminal element, on account that he usually serves as a lookout and will hold or move items on their behalf. A personal friend of Jack, he serves as an informant for the duo from time to time.
  • Lady in Red: Trixie ("Hah, speechless. The day I couldn't do that anymore is the day I stop wearing the little red dress.")
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • As episode 47 "To the Manor Born" becomes more and more cliched, Trixie gleefully lampshades the living hell out of it.
    • One episode involves a movie detective with an improbable name, and the dozen or so women trying to imitate her antics. When Patricia "Trixie" Dixon shows up, they don't believe her name is real.
  • Leg Focus: Multiple characters make note of Trixie's "gumshoe gams", with "leggy blonde" being one of the phrases most commonly used to describe her. Trixie herself considers her legs a point of personal pride and even Jack, someone who has no romantic interest in Trixie whatsoever, recognizes Trixie primarily by her legs on one occasion when he sees her in silhouette.
  • Leitmotif: Jack's monologue is almost always supported by a simple bassline, while Trixie's usually features a more complex arrangement that includes a saxophone. The exception is sometimes at the beginning monologue for the episode (regardless of who tells it), which has its own arrangement.
  • Lovable Coward: Freddy "the Finger" Hawthorne, who is sometimes Jack's Cowardly Sidekick. ("Don't kid around about that stuff, Jackie! I'm a marshmallow, and you know it!")
  • The Mafia: Jack and Trixie seem to take on, and take down a family or organization at least once a season. The Sullivan Mob and Chick Mason's organization, early on. Marginally involved with the downfall of Rocco D'Angelo's organization and the Giannelli Family
  • Masquerading As the Unseen: In "The Trouble with Doubles", Jack and Trixie's current client, Simon Cale, is the son of the black sheep of a well-to-do Florida family who suddenly wanted to reconnect after Cale became the sole inheritor of the family fortune. Cale wanted nothing to do with them, and hired Jack to pose as him for a family reunion. Jack's resemblance to Cale begins and ends at a similar height and build, but the Cale family doesn't know that. In fact, they are so convinced Jack is Cale that, when they hire a hitman to take "Simon" out so the family fortune could come home, the assassin guns for Jack. Later, when he does shoot Cale, he doesn't finish the job because he thinks he got the wrong man.
  • Moment of Silence: In "Justice and the Happy Ending", Trixie's monologue music is completely absent as she describes Jack shooting his old partner to protect her and picks up again after she starts describing the aftermath that came in the following days.
  • Must Have Caffeine:
    • Jack loves his coffee. ("Put the safety back on the Beretta, Trix. I died five seconds ago from a tragic lack of coffee.")
    • One case is set partially in a museum, where Jack spends several hours guarding a mummy. He finishes four Thermoses overnight. It's all he had brewed. The solution to that one partially turns on Sabien inquiring how he managed to stay on the stakeout on only one large takeout coffee in the morning. Answer: he didn't.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Played straight with Rocco D'Angelo (aka "Rocky Angel", aka "The Angel of Death") and somewhat subverted with Marty "The Knife" Rand. Marty got the name from peeling potatoes back in the army, and kept it because it was good for business. He did run an illegal gambling establishment, but so far is on good terms with Jack, who was his commanding officer in the army.
  • Never My Fault: The lack of this trope is the key clue in "The Reunion". Jack and Trixie's client is a woman trying to reunite with her estranged twin sister after she basically stole the man her sister loved from her. What tips the detectives off is that their client took full responsibility for her actions with no attempt to justify them, something they see all too often. They eventually realize the sister killed her twin and was impersonating her so she could use Jack and Trixie to make it look like they'd reunited amicably so she wouldn't be suspected when the client was missed.
  • Nice Guy: "Button-Down" Theodore West is the epitome of this trope.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The agency price went up ("$39.95/day plus expenses"), Jack got married (and not to Trixie), "Button Down" Theo also got married (also not to Trixie), Freddy became an undercover agent for the federal government, Alice moved to Florida to wait for Freddy, and Sabien who was going to get promoted and retire, then ended up getting two promotions and not retiring yet. It seems the only person who isn't going to change is Trixie, even if she got a very on-point Deconstruction from a drunk "Button Down" Theo after his bachelor party and before his marriage to someone not her.
  • Once an Episode:
    "The name's Justice. Jack Justice."
    "The name's Dixon. Trixie Dixon, Girl Detective."
    "Thirty-five dollars a day, plus expenses." (In season five, this phrase changes to "Thirty-nine ninety-five a day." "Plus expenses." "... plus expenses." and remains thus for the rest of the series.)
  • Papa Wolf: Sabien has gained this reputation over his time as a cop. Bad guys on the street know that if you hurt young girls, Sabien will come for you. "The Albatross" highlights this most strongly, as he simply can not let go of a case concerning the murder of a young, pregnant black girl, goes to Jack and Trixie for help when he's taken off the case, and comes within a hair's breadth of killing the man responsible once he's identified. A few episodes earlier, the narration mentioned Sabien had a teenage daughter.
  • Pen Name: The opening identifies the author of the series as "Martin Bracknell," but the stories are actually written by Gregg Taylor.
  • Private Detective: Jack and Trixie, as well as the staff of Braithewaite's Detective Agency, including one "Button Down" Theo.
  • Private Eye Monologue: The narrative normally jumps back and forth between Trixie and Jack. Occasionally, if one of the other recurring characters has a Day in the Limelight (or Jack and/or Trixie are for some reason unavailable for narration), they will get in on the act as well. Even King, the office dog, has had his day.
  • Prodigal Family: In "The Reunion". Edie desperately tries to reach her twin sister Jane, who loathes the idea so much that Edie needs to hire a private detective to track her down. In reality, Jane killed Edie and has been pretending to be her all this time, invoking this trope to strengthen her alibi and ultimately subverting it.
  • Put on a Bus: Officially, "Freddy the Finger" Hawthorne in season 11 to infiltrate Communist groups on behalf of the Feds. Unofficially, "Button Down" Theo in season 10 after he marries someone who isn't Trixie; there's no mention that h's leaving town or anything, but he never appears again, even in his original role as a good source of information from inside rival (and much larger) agency Braithwaite's.
  • Really Gets Around: Trixie is sort of hinted to, and certainly advertises herself as this, though anything that may or may not happen between her and the numerous men she flirts with and gets the phone numbers of stays firmly off-screen.
  • Real Stitches for Fake Snitches: "No Justice" opens with Trixie and Lieutenant Sabien hassling a numbers man named Ricky for information on where to find Jack and Freddy the Finger, who have been missing for two days following their snooping into mobster Chick Mason's fight fixing racket. When the guy makes the mistake of saying he's more afraid of Mason than Sabien, Trixie suggest that the guy be commended as publicly as possible and hailed for his assisting police with apprehending the Mason Gang. Ricky folds almost immediately.
  • Rescue Romance:
    • Played in both directions in the relationship between Jack and Dorothy Evans. Dorothy is introduced in "Journey's End", where she finds Jack injured, treats him, and unknowingly endangers him all over again when the help she calls for him is a crooked police precinct whose watch commander is the one who wounded Jack in the first place. Jack tries to protect her from the danger he's brought to her door despite being so concussed he can't move under his own power, but by the end of the episode it's Dorothy who saves the day by taking out three dirty cops one-by-one when they go into the basement Jack had her hide in. Jack's Private Eye Monologue describes her coming out of said basement with fire in her eyes, still armed with the weapons she used, and kissing him.
      Jack's Monologue: I have failed you in the role of narrator to this chronicle, my friends, for there are no words that can describe my elation as Dorothy Evans née Maxwell née Evans emerged from the basement with fire in her eyes. And if I thought that was good, it was nothing to when she strode across the room, coal scuttle and pistol still in hand, and kissed me hard and with a desperate longing born of having feared one would never feel like this again. A night terror I know all too well.
      Jack (out loud): Thought I wasn't your type.
      Dorothy: I'm a dirty liar.
      Jack: Hello, nurse!
    • In "The Empty Desk", Jack has been nowhere to be seen in the two weeks since the previous episode, "The Late Mr. Justice". In that episode, Jack rescued Dorothy from an old enemy who had kidnapped her to force Jack to surrender himself to be killed. He's absent for much of "The Empty Desk" itself, appearing only at the end to reveal that, during those two weeks, he and Dorothy married and had been enjoying a honeymoon in the Poconos.
      Trixie: Her response to being kidnapped was to marry you?
      Jack: Her response to being rescued in cinematic fashion was to marry me.
      Trixie: Baffling. I am officially baffled.
  • Revealing Cover Up:
    • "Justice Incorporated" opens with a big-name lawyer wanting to buy the detectives' agency lock, stock, and barrel. However, the offer he makes is so good that it makes Jack and Trixie suspicious. Jack even lampshades that they would have been tempted by a lower offer, but an offer as great as the one they were given just put them on edge. They soon discover why the lawyer wanted to buy the agency: access to Trixie's old case files, which contained photos of his client, a corrupt judge running for public office, with a gangster's girl. Trixie had used the photos to force him to straighten up, or at least stay under the radar, but the photos coming out would sink his career, political, judicial, and crminal alike.
    • "The Do-Nothing Detectives" has Jack and Trixie hired to cease their investigations on behalf of a client they did not actually have. Trixie is initially content to let their new, incompetent client pay off the wrong detectives, but Jack finds himself investigating despite being contractually obliged to do no such thing. He goes so far as to get Lt. Sabien to arrest himself and Trixie as material witnesses in order to force them to act. It's revealed the man who hired them was being blackmailed by the woman they were paid to leave alone and her accomplice, whose name the man used when he hired Jack and Trixie. His plan was to kill his blackmailers in what as meant to look like a murder-suicide, and have Jack and Trixie be witnesses once they both turned up dead. Jack, Trixie, and Sabien all acknowledge that the whole plan is so screwball they couldn't not investigate it.
    • "The Mark Two Caper": Jack and Trixie are hired by a man who refers to himself only as "Simon" to find a briefcase whose contents he absolutely refuses to elaborate on, claiming he's a federal agent hiring the detectives to pursue local leads his men wouldn't be able to follow as easily and the case's contents are classified. Jack and Trixie make their dislike for this situation clear, but also take the case in order to get paid. In their investigation they discover there's a circular being distributed to local police precincts that, while still secretive, offers more detail than their client Simon did, such as the contents of the briefcase. The fact that official circulars are being more upfront than an actual agent makes the detectives realize that "Simon" is a spy, he's just not an American spy. He originally stole the briefcase, subsequently lost it and is desperate to retrieve it but, for obvious reasons, can't contact his superiors to ask for help.
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • "The Late Mr. Justice": An old foe of Jack's, gangster Rick Morales, is noted to have failed to be let out on parole twice because, in his hearings, he said the first thing he would do upon release was kill Jack Justice. Trixie has to confirm he did this twice, noting that doing it even once seemed like a bad idea. Indeed, when Morales does get out on parole, he kidnaps Jack's girlfriend and threatens to kill her unless Jack gives himself up to him. Unfortunately for Morales, he makes the mistake of giving Jack enough time to call in every favor he could which allows him to turn the tables. When cornered, Morales refuses to surrender, opting instead to go down fighting.
    • "Dead Men Run": The antagonist of the novel, Owen Grant, was a sex trafficker who managed to skirt the law well enough that Framing the Guilty Party was the best Jack and a cop friend of his could do to stop him. Because the only crime he was convicted of was relatively minor, he was eventually let out on parole. He immediately set out on a mission of revenge by killing the cop and framing Jack for the crime, aiming to get him killed by police who wouldn't care about a cop killer's innocence. What ultimately trips Grant up is that he also makes a point of going after the client Jack had been working for at the time, a man whose daughter was one of Grant's victims. Jack even points out that he expected Grant would want to get out of town in a hurry, especially since evading Jack's attempts to track him down caused Grant to violate his parole, but knew he wouldn't be able to resist going after the client. This lets Jack, Trixie, and Sabien lay a trap for Grant in which he is tricked into confessing his full crimes and winds up shot by the client by the end of it.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: While he's never actually gotten anywhere with her (yet), Button-Down Theo does maintain a romantic interest in Trixie. She doesn't mind that so much because he doesn't press the issue beyond the occasional flirt, and because he's a "useful contact" at Braithwaite's, a rival, and much larger, detective agency. And then he gets married. Even though Trixie broke up with him, violently, she's not sure what to feel about the news.
  • Rule of Drama: The city seems to have an awful lot of organized crime for our heroes to interfere with, and never the same family twice. One could argue that it's just the regular shuffle, except that they usually seem to be well-established.
  • Running Gag:
    • Jack bantering with the client over coffee. That is to say, about the coffee.
    • A client asking if Jack and Trixie are together, to which she invariably reacts with disgust.
    • Jack or Trixie describing the office as "the mighty World Headquarters of Justice and Dixon investigations" or some variation of, such as "palatial headquarters".
    • Some female client, played by Clarissa der Nederlanden Taylor, flirting with Jack.
    • Someone calling Trixie "Miss Dixon", to which she responds "Trixie, please!"
  • Sarcasm Failure: The third act of "Now Who's the Dummy" has Jack and Trixie in the middle of a four way argument between two ventriloquists and their dummies. The puppet named Simple is the most reasonable person in the room, one of the ventriloquists pulls two guns in the course of the confrontation and even the other puppet gets in on the action. The detectives can only lampshade the sheer absurdity of it all.
    Trixie: The puppet has a cap gun tied to his hand!
    Jack: The nervous guy with the real gun is taking this seriously.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: A few of their clients, a few of the people they face, even Trixie in one episode. How successful they are can vary from episode to episode.
  • Share Phrase: One of the Decoder Ring Theater share phrases that sees more mileage in Black Jack Justice than Red Panda Adventures is "It's probably true, but you still shouldn't say it." Most often used someone makes a comment about another character that is both very unflattering and difficult to argue with.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Jack was in Infantry during the war, as well as a number of the other men in the city; this helps the duo gather information from other veterans of the war, and it also helped toughen him up from his early days. However, Jack doesn't like to talk about the war to those who have never seen it. Even his monologues don't go into much detail on the topic.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The "35 dollars a day, plus expenses" line, is a direct reference to a similar line by Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep. Except it was 25 bucks back then, in the 30s. Must be post-war inflation.
    • Most episodes have a least one reference to Sherlock Holmes, particularly "The Problem of the Perplexing Pastiche" which was set in roughly the same time and location. Of course, it was a Dream Sequence brought on by exhaustion from lack of sleep due to the current case, and it kept getting interrupted by the telephone. Also "How Much is that Gumshoe in the Window?", in which Jack takes great pleasure in being able to quote Holmes, in context, for the first time in weeks.
  • Sibling Murder:
    • "The Reunion" features Jack and Trixie being hired by Edie, a woman hoping to reconcile with her estranged twin sister Jane after Edie had stolen the man Jane loved. Small inconsistencies add up for Jack until he's finally certain that Edie is dead, killed by Jane in the course of an argument when Edie did indeed come back seeking condolences when her husband, Jane's past love, had passed away. Jane tried to engineer a fake reconciliation so that she wouldn't be suspected when Edie was missed.
    • "Small Mercies". The episode opens with Jack and Trixie learning an acquaintance of theirs, Mick Parker, had been shot and was dying. Everyone's suspicion immediately falls on Mick's brother, Ted. The brothers had been at one another's throats longer than any but those who knew them all their lives could remember and Ted was there, but had been so drunk even he isn't sure what happened. During a conversation with Mick's wife Angie, the thing that had driven them apart so long ago, Jack lays out that he's long since realized Ted was innocent. Angie had tried to arrange a situation in which one brother would kill the other, the law would deal with the survivor, and Angie would be free without having to worry about inconveniences like divorce proceedings. When the situation didn't go as expected, Angie wound up having to do the deed herself. Despite that, it still might have worked because, as Mick lay dying, he named Ted as his killer instead of Angie. Between that and Ted's unreliability, the surviving brother would have been sunk if not for Jack and Trixie.
  • Spanner in the Works: In "Justice For Some", the plot is to invite known thieves to an event to be fall guys for the theft an heirloom necklace. It fails because one thief had legitimately reformed, another was on a whole other floor casing the joint's artwork, and Jack managed to grab the third when the lights went out to facilitate the robbery. This leaves the actual culprit the only one in a position to actually take the necklace.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: The majority of Jack and Trixie's conversations are either this, or back-and-forth banter where they're both snarking at a third party. Clients and police officers tend to react with confusion, annoyance, or, in Sabien's case, barely-concealed rage and usually an order to quit the circus act.
  • Spiteful Suicide:
    • In "Justice Be Done", Jack and Trixie attend the reading of the will of occasional client Mordecai Brasseau, which asks Jack and Trixie to determine who poisoned him to make sure his murderer gets none of the inheritance. The catch is that none of the suspects, Mordecai's son, daughter, lawyer, and most recent wife were around him enough to perform the very gradual poisoning that killed him, and for the most part loathed one another too much to work together. The detectives realize that the only one with enough access to Mordecai to poison him was Mordecai himself, that his death was a suicide designed to teach his ungrateful heirs a lesson about how they took him for granted.
    • "A Simple Case of Black and White" sees a man kill himself in an attempt to frame his ex-lover's current husband. The man goes so far as to give himself an agonizing stomach wound to make sure he had time to hide the evidence it was suicide, not murder before dying.
  • Stalker with a Crush: In "Justice and the Deluge", a man hires Jack and Trixie to find his runaway sister, Mary, and let her know she can come home. Details about the story leave Trixie suspicious, and when they track down Mary, they learn the man is obsessively in love with her. He ruined her reputation when she shot him down, causing her father to throw her out. He followed her from city to city when she ran away from him instead of to him, as he hoped.
  • Stock Phrase: At least once in every single episode, the agency rate is mentioned. ("thirty-five dollars a day, plus expenses") Later, this is increased to "thirty-nine dollars a day. Plus expenses.
  • Suicide, Not Murder:
    • "Justice Be Done" features Jack and Trixie going to the reading of the will for Mordecai Brasseau an occasional but not particularly well-liked client. The will, actually a recording of Mordecai reading it, requests the detectives find out who murdered him. He was poisoned gradually over a long period, a period so long that none of the suspects, his last wife, his son, his daughter, and his lawyer, were never around him long enough to pull it off alone and mostly hated one another too much to do it together. Because of this, Jack and Trixie realize that Mordecai's murderer was Mordecai himself, that his "murder" was an act geared towards getting his estranged family to realize how insensitively they had behaved towards him, since all they had seemd to want was his wealth. To honor Mordecai's wishes, they decide to put on a big deductive show making it clear why each person is a suspect, revealing why they couldn't have done it, then revealing the truth. They aren't particularly proud of themselves over the act, regarding this as the worst of the multiple bad cases Mordecai had brought them.
    • "A Simple Case of Black and White" features Jack and Trixie being hired by a pro bowler, Jim White, who wants to reunite with the woman and child he ran out on. However, when Jack and Trixie find the woman they return to their client to find him murdered, shot in the stomach by a gun registered to the woman's current husband, Donald Black. However, the gun was reported stolen a year ago and the detectives realize that White was in town for a tournament at that time. Their theory becomes that White was in town, found his ex with a new husband and son with a new father, and plotted revenge against the man he felt had taken what was his. To this end, they determine, the gutshot was deliberate, a slow and painful means of death in order to give himself time to get rid of the evidence of his suicide. The episode ends with police lieutenant Sabien telling everyone that confirmation of this theory was simply waiting on snaking the glove White had worn to keep powder burns off his hands from his toilet.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • It doesn't matter how big of a fish you are in the pond, bullets work just as well on you as they would anybody.
    • Trixie is the love 'em and leave 'em type, and constantly threatens to shoot people. In "The One That Got Away", we learn that she breaks up with her suitors by way of abuse. And bottles to the head. And gunfire. There's almost no humor about this revelation, and Theo points out she's clearly afraid of opening herself up to a man. Turns out the Femme Fatale routine ain't exactly good for long-term emotional satisfaction.
  • Suspiciously Clean Criminal Record: "The Big Time" features Jack and Trixie hired by an insurance investigator to find a lost set of heirloom pearls. One of the reasons the pearls have stayed missing is that there is no obvious suspect for theft; every member of the family who would have wanted them valued them more for their status as an heirloom than for any amount of money they could have gained from selling them. Background checks on the family further reveal that none of them have the kind of record that could make them suspicious. None of them were secretly poor or in debt, and the worst crimes otherwise were drunk driving into a tree, indecent exposure charges from a decade ago, and a fifty year old juvenile record. In the end it's revealed that none of the family are guilty and, in fact, the pearls were never truly stolen. The late owner gave them to his wife's hospice nurse as a gift after his wife's passing and, despite everything being legal, the nurse was happy to return them when asked.
  • Taken Off the Case: The episode "The Albatross" features police lieutenant Sabien hiring Jack and Trixie to pursue the murder of a pregnant black teenager. The reason he does this is that he was removed from the case after looking into the possibility the unborn baby's father was white. Jack and Trixie take the case, reluctantly as the case has clearly gotten to Sabien in a big way, and discover the baby's father and murderer is a city councilman who won the black vote to get elected.
  • Tap on the Head: Frequently being on the receiving end is how Jack earned his nickname, "Black Jack," before the War.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Sergeant Nelson can come across as this, though he does occasionally display Hidden Depths. His glaring idiocy is a source of frequent frustration to the more competent characters, but in an actual fight he's the best marksman of all of them.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Before the war, Jack would get sapped a lot, enough to earn him his nickname. After the war, it became much harder to get the drop on him.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: His passion for coffee nonwithstanding, Jack loves beef. He doesn't get to eat it very often, but he treasures the occasions when he does. He's also been known to wax poetic about meatloaf sandwiches, which are a cheaper, and therefore somewhat more common, treat.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Jack and Trixie are a mix of this and Platonic Life-Partners. They're constantly sniping at, insulting, and trying to get the better of one another, and yet they stay together as partners and, when the chips are down, have each other's backs. In "The Road to Hell", an episode consisting almost entirely of Jack and Trixie bickering, Jack unwittingly hits a raw nerve by commenting on the size of Trixie's hands. He backpedals immediately upon realizing he actually hurt her, then goes on to note that had he known about this particular weakness he'd have used it at least once years ago.
    • Both of them collectively have over the course of the series developed this kind of relationship with Sabien. At one point Jack Lampshades this, musing that some days Sabien wants to get him arrested, other days they go out fishing together.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: In The Road To Hell, Jack finally discovers Trixie's weakness! She's real insecure about her hands looking "mannish", and sounds genuinely hurt and worried for possibly the first time in the entire series.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The name of the city Jack and Trixie call home has never been mentioned.
    • Since the writers and performers are based in Toronto, Ontario, there is a possibility the city is in Canada, but the series has kept this vague enough to be based anywhere in the north-central part of the North American continent (within the temperate climate area, but not as far as the permafrost).
    • So far, "The City" does not refer to Chicago, New York (whether it refers to the city or state is unclear), Ann-Arbor, Albany, Detroit, Ohio, and Arizona, as these places were explicitly mentioned in dialogue and/or monologue, describing where people or groups of people, are, came from, or went to.
    • Episode 47 ("To the Manor Born") makes a direct reference to the protagonists being within the USA, but since the protagonists are well outside the city during this episode, it's not certain if "The City" is a US city, or if it is close to the US/Canadian border. No mention of border crossings strengthen the possibility of a US city.
    • Episode 69 very explicitly places "The City" in the United States.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: A few episodes are re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes stories.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Averted. Jack and Trixie both have very strong alpha personalities; this causes a a lot of friction that prevents any romantic connection from forming. So much so, that both they and others have commented that they'd be more likely to kill one another.
  • With Friends Like These...: You'd think that Jack and Trixie would have gone back to working solo, considering just how much they seem to dislike one another, but they still remain partners. Of course, they also seem to enjoy bantering with one another, so it can sometimes be difficult to separate actual spite from cynical humor. This is neatly Lampshaded in "My Heart Belongs to Mummy," with the client of the episode, Lord Simon Perceworthy, who is foreign to the city and completely unprepared for the Snark-to-Snark Combat interactions between the regular cast. Hence, he finds it extremely confusing when Jack and Trixie go strait from slinging insults and declaring their hatred for one another in one moment, to being completely in agreement the next.
    Lord Perceworthy: ...What just happened?
    Jack: I don't understand.
    Lord Perceworthy: Did the pair of you just make up?
    Trixie: We were fighting? Oh, honestly, I can't even tell anymore.
  • World of Snark: Basically, in this series you're either a Deadpan Snarker, a constant target for Deadpan Snarkers, or both.