The show was picked up by the CBC as part of a group of story ideas pitched in 1997. Subsequently, the show ran for seven seasons, and was one of the highest-rated programs on the network. The show was based off the real-life career of Larry Campbell, a former coroner in British Columbia, who campaigned for safe-injection sites for drug users. He acted as a story consultant on the show, and eventually ran a successful mayoral campaign in the city of Vancouver using the show as the basis for his platform.
Inquest is notable for having deeply entrenched plots that spanned multiple seasons, as well as tackling hot-button issues that were affecting many residents in the Vancouver area. The show made note of the rash of prostitute kidnappings that occurred in the late 90's/early 00's, which were found to be caused by a Vancouver pig farmer named Robert Pickton. The series also featured realistic and sometimes boring sequences like characters walking along the street talking to people, or picking up lunch at a diner.
The series ended after seven seasons, with Da Vinci announcing his intention to run as Mayor of Vancouver. A spin-off series was then created called Da Vinci's City Hall, in which he struggled to enact his proposed policies. The show juggled plots involving his career and the events going on in the city's police department, but was cancelled at the end of 2006 (creator Chris Haddock stated in interviews that he believed CBC was forced by political members to axe the show).
A stand-alone movie, Quality of Life, aired in 2008.
This show provides examples of:
- Bottle Episode: "Gabriel" is one example; three unrelated stories all taking place at the same crime scene.
- The Coroner: Da Vinci, who is a straight version of this trope; also, Patricia, Sunny, and Maria.
- Disposable Sex Worker: Partially subverted; although there are prostitutes targeted by criminals and rapists during the series, their motives are often explained as being caused by financial or personal issues (in some cases, the audience learns about their backstories from family members). The later seasons focus on Da Vinci's creation of a red light district to protect them.
- Downer Ending:
- Several episodes end this way. Notably, of the few times in the series when Dominic does call an inquest, it fails to satisfactorily resolve the case.
- Quite a few cases go unsolved, and there is at least once instance of a double-case (the different sides of which were simultaneously worked by both homicide and the coroner's office) that went unsolved simply because the two investigating parties never got together.
- Five-Episode Pilot: Partially "Little Sister", the three-episode arc that opens the series
- Iconic Item: DaVinci's trademark messenger bag.
- Left Hanging: Inquest ends with several major plot arcs still dangling, which then continue in City Hall (so if you didn't know that there was a second series, you were screwed). Even then, when the show was cancelled, there were several character arcs that were never resolved.
- Missing White Woman Syndrome: This causes the Vancouver Police Force to track the man who is killing prostitutes in Vancouver, and finally inspires DaVinci to create a "red light district" to stop them from getting kidnapped and/or killed.
- The Movie: The Quality Of Life.
- Never Trust a Title: Even though the show is called DaVinci's Inquest, there are only a handful of times throughout the show's seven seasons where Dominic actually calls an inquest. Of those few times, the inquest often fails to resolve the case in a satisfactory manner.
- No Badge? No Problem!: As a coroner, DaVinci is often the first person allowed at a crime scene, and gains special civilian priviliges that allow him to access areas other policemen can't
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The series was inspired by the (then-unexplained) series of prostitute murders in Vancouver. When Robert Pickton was finally caught, the show acknowledged his capture.
- Revival Loophole: One episode has a mob boss who tries to claim he's done serving his life sentence in prison because his heart stopped.
- Ripped from the Headlines: The Pickton murders, drug use in Vancouver.
- Sequel Hook: The final episode of Inquest ends with Dominic revealing to a candidate in the mayoral race that he's officially running for Mayor of Vancouver.
- Strictly Formula: Subverted; some episodes end with the murderers never being caught, and cases reaching an unsatisfactory (or even frustrating) conclusion
- Writer on Board: Chris Haddock's choice to focus less on police work and more on the political machinations of Vancouver's City Hall alienated half of the show's core fanbase. DaVinci's City Hall went from around 850,000 viewers in its first episode to 400,000 at the end of its 13 episode run.