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Cannon is a CBS detective television series produced by Quinn Martin 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 another similar bereaved ex-cop it's not the driving force of the series.


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  • And This Is for...: "Blood Money," "The Stalker" and, of course, "Revenge."
  • Artistic Title: The pilot movie had a maze motif, while the series went for circles crisscrossing and filling the screen.
  • Big Eater: Cannon.
  • 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.
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  • 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 "Pilot", 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 thsolution: 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.
  • Cool Car: Cannon's Lincoln Continental. That is a NICE car.
  • Crossover: With Barnaby Jones (the two-parter "The Deadly Conspiracy," which began on Cannon and finished on Barnaby Jones).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Detective Drama
  • 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."
  • 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 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.
  • 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 "Pilot", 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.
  • 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 and western 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!
  • Idiot Ball: "Where's Jennifer?" sees a rare instance of Cannon holding onto it tightly for a lot of the episode; wealthy Virginia McKeller hires him to prove that her sister, presumed drowned five years ago, is alive; in the course of the investigation he encounters a young woman called Cyndi Matthews. Somehow he doesn't notice that she looks exactly like Virginia... and in fact is the missing Jennifer, as part of a plot to get hold of the family money.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: English actress Pamela Franklin's American accent wavers throughout "The Predators."
  • 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.
  • 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 dies 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.
  • 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.
  • Stout Strength: The overweight Frank Cannon was often shown overpowering younger and fitter opponents through sheer brute strength.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In "Pilot", 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.

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