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Cannon is a CBS detective television series produced by Quinn Martin Productions which aired from March 26, 1971 to March 3, 1976. The title character, private detective Frank Cannon, is played by William Conrad.

Cannon is a retired cop turned P.I., drives a nice Lincoln car, and likes to eat. He left the force after his wife and child were killed, but unlike Monk, another similarly bereaved ex-cop, it's not the driving force of the series.



  • Always Murder: Even if the case didn't start out as murder, someone would be dead by Act II. Thoroughly averted in "The Nowhere Man" Which ends up as an Everybody Lives episode.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Laurie Strickland in "Point After Death"; she's the girlfriend of a football player. He insists he didn't kill her. He didn't; her Psycho Lesbian lover did when Laurie didn't want to break it off with him.

  • Amnesia Episode: "Duel In the Desert". Cannon suffers a blow to the head and loses his memory, which hinders his mission of delivering the ransom for a kidnap victim.
  • And Starring: "And Signe Hasso as Madame Alexandra" in "The Girl In The Electric Coffin."
  • And This Is for...: "Blood Money," "The Stalker" and, of course, "Revenge."
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  • Artistic Title: The pilot movie had a maze motif, while the series went for circles crisscrossing and filling the screen.
  • Big Eater: Cannon.
  • *Bleep*-dammit!: A gag reel pokes fun at the idea. The gag reel was produced for a cast and crew party and begins with star William Conrad telling the viewers that out of respect to folks in the audience the gag reel bleeps any offensive language. The first outtake proceeds to have every word except the swear words bleeped, causing a flustered Conrad to come on screen again and apologize before heading off-screen telling the editors to bleep the dirty words "and leave the clean ones in!"
  • Boxing Episode: Season three’s “Arena of Fear”, guest-starring a young Nick Nolte as a boxer framed for murder.
  • Bullet Holes and Revelations:
    • In "Call Unicorn", Cannon and the villain of the week (played by Wayne Rogers) are in a Gun Struggle after a truck wreck. The gun goes off, and after a moment, Cannon — who was on top — sits up to reveal Rogers with a non-fatal bullet wound in his chest.
    • "A Killing In The Family." Dave Nordhoff is struggling with his gangster dad, who he suspected killed Dave's wife (he didn't - dad's Number 2 did it as part of a plan to move himself up in the mob). The gun goes off... but Dave is only winged by the bullet. The mobster buys it, but not by being shot - his heart problems, foreshadowed throughout the episode, finally do him in.
  • Buzzing the Deck: In "A Flight of Hawks", Woodman, the leader of a band of Private Military Contractors, repeatedly buzzes Belmont's jeep as as he is trying to escape the compound; eventually forcing him of the road.
  • Car Fu: In "Death Chain", the first Victim of the Week is run down in an attempt to make it look like a hit-and-run.
  • Cement Shoes: In the Pilot Movie, a killer is disposing of a body by tying cinder blocks to its feet prior to dropping it off the side of a boat when he is shot and killed by a cop.
  • Chute Sabotage: When Cannon finds an unused sabotaged parachute in a wrecked plane in "Country Blues", it starts him down the track to the solution: that someone was trying to kill the pilot, not the passenger.
  • Clear My Name: Being a detective show, this was the premise for several episodes; for instance, the two-hour season three premiere "He Who Digs A Grave" has Cannon called in by a friend called Ian who's accused of murdering his wife and a man she was with; Ian (David Janssen, not the first time he's faced this charge in a Quinn Martin series) insists that his wife committed suicide and left a note beforehand, which mysteriously vanished. The town's sheriff, a seriously uptight type, took the note because he hated Ian. But the trope proves to be subverted because Ian did kill them both, and used her penchant for writing suicide notes to his advantage.
    • Cannon himself faces it in "Revenge," in which the son of a recently deceased soldier who served under Cannon during The Korean War frames him for murder.
    • Cannon faces it again in "Perfect Fit A Frame". See Unwitting Pawn below.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: In Britain as part of the TV Action comic.
  • Contrived Coincidence: "The Stalker" runs on this - Cannon goes on a fishing trip in the country... in the same area where an escaped murderer has gone to ground. And guess which fat ex-cop sent him to prison.... and the psycho has of course been wanting to get his revenge on Cannon...
  • Cool Car: Cannon's Lincoln Continental. That is a NICE car.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: "The Cure That Kills" Cannon is tussling with a carny who's the Dumb Muscle of the Big Bad - but Cannon's "rescued" when Reverend Will (this episode's villain) shoots the carny to ensure he doesn't talk.
  • Crossover: With Barnaby Jones (the two-parter "The Deadly Conspiracy," which began on Cannon and finished on Barnaby Jones).
  • Cult: In "A Deadly Quiet Town", Cannon is hired to recue a girl from a Charles Manson-style cult preying on the children of promient families in a quiet university town.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: In "Scream of Silence", a doctor remarks on the deep wound on a thug's chest. The thug's boss replies "He cut himself shaving" as he hands over enough cash to buy the doctor's silence.
  • Cut Phone Lines: The cult members cut the phone lines before they break into Jennifer's home to murder her parents in "A Deadly Quiet Town".
  • Dead Animal Warning: In "To Kill a Guinea Pig", mobsters attempting to strong arm a medical researcher into including a particular prisoner in her trails (so he can be killed) kill her pet monkey and hang it from a tree outside her house.
    • In "A Well Remembered Terror", a skyjacker/parolee trying to intimidate a family into moving so the mother - a former flight attendant who he held hostage during the skyjacking - will move away before she can recognise him. He kills the daughter's pet cat as part of it.
  • Deadly Bath: In "Dead Pigeon", an elderly Con Man is drowned in his bathtub - fully clothed - after he speaks to Cannon.
  • Deadly Gas: In "The Nowhere Man", Cannon has to find a stolen canister of nerve gas that has been hidden somewhere in Los Angeles and that is set to be released at 7 pm.
  • Dead Man Honking: Happens in "Flight Plan", when Cannon is knocked unconscious and placed in car with the engine running in an attempt to asphyxiate him. He slumps on the steering wheel causing the horn to blare and making the bad guy come back and shove him off the horn.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: A plot point in "The Girl In The Electric Coffin" and "Where's Jennifer?"
  • Detective Drama
  • Dig Your Own Grave: In "A Deadly Quiet Town", Cult members terrorize an old wino by forcing him to dig his own grave in potter's field. Exactly a week later, they murder him.
  • Dirty Cop: Lt. Bill Blaine in "Target In the Mirror", another old police colleague of Cannon's who's in the pocket of a mobster. He kills the mobster's girlfriend when she threatens to expose his corruption.
    • A whole group of them on a small city's police force in "The Investigator" Cannon believes Da Chief is one of them; he isn't.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Befitting his status as one the more mature TV detectives of the time, Cannon smokes a pipe, which makes him seem quite avuncular.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: "Death Is A Double-Cross" (based on Thomas B. Dewey's novel Every Bet's A Sure Thing) and "He Who Digs A Grave" (from the David Delman novel of the same name).
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • What the killer of Sir Arnold in "Triangle Of Terror" tries to disguise the murder as. And what happens to the killer himself.
    • Also the soldier's son in "Revenge," who blows himself up when Cannon tells him the truth about his dad.
    • And the senator who was accidentally responsible for the demise of Cannon's family in "Nightmare."
    • Cornell in "The Star" when Cannon and the police coming for him now his plot to have a Justice Department man on his payroll (and cover up a actress' murder the official was involved with) has been foiled.
  • Easy Amnesia: Cannon had the full where-am-I-who-am-I version after a Tap on the Head in “Duel in the Desert”. Surprisingly, they depicted some semi-realistic effects of a concussion along with the (unrealistic) amnesia, including slurred speech and disorientation that lasted most of the episode. Then he got better.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: In "Dead Pigeon", two thugs are dragging Cannon out of the Big Bad's office to take him somewhere quiet to dispose of him. As the elevator doors open, Cannon punches one of the thugs in the face to drive him arway from the doors. He jumps in the elevator as the second thug grapples him and gets dragged in, as the doors shut in the first thug's face. The scene then cuts to the doors opening in the ground floor and a bruised and battered Cannon steps out over the body of the unconscious thug.
  • Elevator Failure: In "Hear No Evil," Cannon's client (played by William Daniels) is trapped in an elevator by a villain who wants the tapes he recorded.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The whole premise of "The Rip-Off" - where a professional thief has Cannon's apartment robbed as part of a plan to get sole custody of his son.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The man responsible for blowing up Cannon's family was a professional killer, but his only target was Cannon's wife (and that was an error - he'd been hired by a Congressman to kill the prostitute who'd been with him when he'd killed a woman in a hit-and-run) - and he regretted having gotten Cannon's son David as well.
  • Faked Kidnapping: In "Prisoners", Tim Jardine, along with two accomplices, fakes his being held in a Middle Eastern prison to shake up his rich parents. One of his accomplices kills the other and turns it into a real kidnapping with a real ransom demand.
    • In "Cry Wolf", Benjamin 'Benjy' Holbrook III needs fast cash to get away from the crooked business partner he attempted to kill, so he and his girlfriend concoct a phony kidnapping scheme to get money from his rich grandfather (Ralph Bellamy). He doesn't count on his former partner and his accomplice, the brother of the girl who was critically injured when he tried to back over his partner with a car, catching up with him, and turning the phony kidnapping into a real one with a real ransom demand.
      • In one of the most egregious examples of You Look Familiar, the same actor, John David Carson, played the kidnap victim in both episodes.
  • Faking Engine Trouble: In "Stone, Cold Dead", the killer does this: killing the engine on the boat and telling the girl he was giving a ride that 'the fuel pump died'. When the girl resists his romantic advances, she suffers Death by Falling Over and becomes the Victim of the Week.
  • Faking the Dead: In "Devil's Playground", a wanted felon plants his ID on a hitchhiker, murders him, then stages an accident and torches the car to convince the police he is dead.
  • False Rape Accusation: In Cannon (The Pilot Movie), a woman frames Cannon for rape as part of a Wounded Gazelle Gambit.
  • Fat Idiot: Averted. Cannon is urbane, sophisticated, and of course a Great Detective. One villain calls him a genius.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: In "Devil's Playground", a petty crook is so excited when he gets his hands on a sub-machine gun that he immediately fires several bursts into the air.
  • Forklift Fu: In "Death Chain", Cannon is trapped in a burning workshop, and uses a forklift to rip the bars of the window so he can escape.
  • Framed Face Opening: Framed in circles.
  • Friend on the Force: Several, actually, that alternated...Lt. Herb Tarcher (played by Charles Bateman), Lt. Marty Driscoll (played by William Sargent and for one episode by Vince Howard) and Lt. Paul Milo (played by H.M. Wynant). These three gentlemen appeared in the second and third seasons of the show. The last two seasons featured a succession of cops, most of them not as friendly to our hero. It makes sense that Cannon would have so many cop friends... after all, he was an ex-cop.
  • Healthcare Motivation: The Victim of the Week in "A Flight of Hawks" needs money to pay for his son's kidney treatment, so he takes a shady job working for a group of Private Military Contractors. However, when he learns they are planning a War for Fun and Profit, he bails and attempts to sell the information to the target government. This gets him killed.
  • High-Speed Hijack: In "A Lonely Place to Die", Cannon attempts to escape from an ambush by commandeering an old pickup truck. One of the thugs jumps into the back of the truck, then clambers on to the step, throws out Cannon's passenger, climbs into the cab, and tries to kill Cannon: all while the truck is in motion.
  • Hood Hornament: In "Country Blues", the Victim of the Week is a Country Music singer who drives a white convertible with massive horns on the grille.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Cannon, of all people, jokes about a ballet student's avoirdupois in "Dead Lady's Tears" (although in fairness it contains a poke at himself):
    Keep your chins up, honey! Even we shall overcome!
  • It's Personal: It's really personal for our hero in the final season premiere "Nightmare" - in prison a mortally wounded hitman tells Cannon before he kicks it that he killed Cannon's wife and son 14 years before, and that the late Laura Cannon was a prostitute. Our hero doesn't take this well. The button remains pressed when he nearly kills the Senator responsible with his bare hands.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: This happens in "A Lonely Place to Die", when the town drunk tries to convince the sheriff that a triple-murder occurred at the abandoned beach house next to his home.
  • Lab Pet: In "To Kill a Guinea Pig", a medical researcher has adopted a former lab research monkey as a pet. However, mobsters kill it as a Dead Animal Warning to her.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    • In "Blood on the Vine", a vineyard owner suffers multiple 'accidents' (a falling wine rack, tainted wine, brake failure) in a short space of time, which causes his secretary to hire Cannon to investigate.
    • In "A Deadly Quiet Town", a university chemistry professor dies in a lab explosion that is written off an accident. However, Cannon is suspicious because a near identical explosion had occurred a week earlier. This turns out to be the murderer undertaking a 'rehearsal' for the eventual murder.
  • Monster Clown: In "The Salinas Jackpot", two thieves disguised as rodeo clowns rob the cashier's office at a rodeo. When one of them is recognised, they murder everybody in the office.
  • Mugged for Disguise: In "Dead Pigeon", a pair of hitmen hijack an ambulance and steal the paramedics uniforms to allow them to infiltrate a hospital. The paramedics are later seen unconscious and tied up.
  • Murder by Mistake: In "Country Blues", a country and western singer is killed when Vehicular Sabotage causes his plane to crash. However, the sabotage was actually aimed the pilot (who survives the crash), who was supposed to flying the plane solo. An argument with his wife caused the singer to order the pilot to fly him to Mexico, instead of flying the band's instruments to Texarkana.
  • Mystery of the Week
  • Obvious Stunt Double: That is so not William Conrad during the underwater scenes in "Stone, Cold Dead."
  • One-Word Title: "Vengeance", "Nightmare" and "Revenge".
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Pamela Franklin's American accent wavers throughout "The Predators."
    • It also slips a tiny bit in her other episode "Where's Jennifer?" as well.
  • Opening Narration: Each one was episode-specific, as it listed the guest stars, and as with most Quinn Martin productions, named the episode. Done by Hank Simms, who did the Opening Narration for almost all the series from QM Productions (he didn't do The Fugitive, for instance, and three of their later series didn't have one at all). For instance:
    "Cannon. Starring William Conrad. Guest stars William Daniels, Linden Chiles, Louise Troy, Alex Rocco. Tonight's Episode: Hear No Evil."
  • Outside Ride: In "Stone, Cold Dead", the killer attempts to escape in a speedboat. Cannon jumps on to the front of the boat, and winds up fighting the killer over the windscreen.
  • Pop the Tires: A hitman shoots the tyre on Cannon's car to stop from escaping in "Girl in the Electric Coffin".
  • Private Investigator: After retiring as a police officer, Frank Cannon becomes a private investigator.
  • Private Military Contractors: In "A Flight of Hawks", Cannon's investigation leads him to a band of mercenaries who are planning to kick off a brushwar in Africa.
  • Race Lift: One of Cannon's main police contacts is Lt. Marty Driscoll, played mainly by Caucasian actor William Sargent. However, in Driscoll's final appearance, in the fourth-season episode "The Sounds of Silence", he's played by the very much black actor Vince Howard.
  • Recorded Spliced Conversation: In "No Pockets in a Shroud", the Villain of the Week is running a scam that involves maintaining the illusion that a hermit millionaire who died a year ago is still alive. When Cannon arrives in town, wanting to speak to the millionaire and not going away until he does so - the villain splices together taped phone conversations he had; creating a tape where the millionaire seemingly insists he won't see anyone and plays it to Cannon over the phone.
  • Reunion Show: 1980's The Return Of Frank Cannon (although since William Conrad was the show's only regular perhaps "reunion" is the wrong word).
  • Self-Deprecation: Cannon was not above making jokes about his weight, from the pilot onwards.
  • Shame If Something Happened: In "A Flight of Hawks", a thug threatens the widow of the Victim of the Week by implying what a tragedy it would be if something happened to her son's dialysis machine.
  • Shared Universe: With Barnaby Jones, as established in that show's very first episode (Cannon worked with Mr. Jones to find the killer of the latter's son).
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: Cannon does this to his own car in "Girl in the Electric Coffin"; causing it to blow up and drive out the hitman who was taking cover behind it.
  • Standard Hollywood Strafing Procedure: In "A Flight of Hawks", Cannon attempts to stop a fighter plane from taking off. The pilot attempts to strafe Cannon while both of them are still on the ground. The twin streams of bullets pass either side of Cannon.
  • Stout Strength: The overweight Frank Cannon was often shown overpowering younger and fitter opponents through sheer brute strength.
  • Tae Kwon Door: In "A Flight of Hawks", Jerry slams the door of the storeroom he had been locked up in into the face of one the mercenaries.
  • Tap on the Head: Cannon is frequently waylaid by a sharp blow to the back of the head. Sometimes with the butt end of a pistol.
  • Take Me Out at the Ball Game: In "Scream of Silence", a gang of kidnappers attempt to abduct a boy who has temporarily been struck mute at a ball game, so they can eliminate him before he regains his voice and can identify them.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: In "Fool's Gold", Cannon tracks a pair of armored car robbers to a small town in New Mexico. Cannon is greeted with suspicion and harassment from the moment he arrives. It turns out the robbers have used the loot from the heist to effectively buy the town to give them a place to hole up while they recuperate.
  • Unique Pilot Title Sequence: The pilot movie had a maze motif, while the series went for circles crisscrossing and filling the screen.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Cannon becomes one as part of the villains' scheme in "Prefect Fit For A Frame". He's hired by a San Diego industrialist to keep his daughter Gail safe from an escaped Stalker with a Crush. The "industrialist" is a business partner of the real industrialist. The "daughter" is actually the real industrialist's younger wife who's cheating on her husband with the partner. The Stalker is the real industrialist who survives the first attempt on his life and wants revenge... The cheaters lure him to the cabin where they make Cannon believe Gail is being attacked by her Stalker, and shooting at him... Cannon fires back...
  • Vacation Episode: Cannon would go on a fishing trip in the same area an escaped psychopath's gone to ground in ("The Stalker").
  • Vehicular Sabotage:
    • A light plane crashes due to sabotage, resulting in the death of a country and western star, in "Country Blues".
    • When the cult members break in Jennifer's home to murder her parents in "A Deadly Quiet Town", they cut the phone lines and sabotage the cars in the garage to prevent communication or escape.
  • War for Fun and Profit: In "A Flight of Hawks", a band of Private Military Contractors are planning to take over a newly formed African nation to sieze control of its mineral wealth.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In Cannon, a woman fakes being attacked and raped by Cannon to drive her jealous husband - who is a police lieutenant - into a murderous rage so he will kill Cannon.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: "A Flight Of Hawks" has a particularly bad example - Cannon has infiltrated a group of mercenaries headquartered in a place that's hard to get to, whose leader plans to take over a politically unstable African country. Act III ends with said bad guy holding Cannon, his colleague and a representative of the country at gunpoint with the other mercenaries backing him up... and shortly after Act IV begins we find they're being locked up while the bad guys prepare to fly out, instead of being shot and killed on the spot and splitting the scene to do their evil business well before the cops can arrive. Say what now?
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In "Flight Plan", the villain of the week leaves a trail of bodies behind him in his escpae route across Mexico: killing each of his accomplices after they have fulfilled their part in his escape.