Der Tatortreiniger, or "The Crime Scene Cleaner" in English, is a German Black Comedy series, focusing on the work and 'adventures' of the slacky, but vain crime scene cleaning professional Heiko 'Schotty' Schotte (played by Bjarne Mädel), and how he cleans out the scenes of usually very violent deaths (after the police and forensics have packed up and left), and always happens to stumble across the strangest of people there, including the victim's relatives, employers, acquaintances, hookers, the murderers, and occasionally even the victims themselves.
Much of the plot derives from the usually causal, mundane or non-topical dialogue between Schotty and any of the other characters, which may more often than not not even relate to the death at hand or his work as a cleaner. And it's hilarious.
The episode format is usually always give or take 25 minutes, and the cast is usually limited to one or two other characters, not counting one or two extras, much in the spirit of a short chamber play.
Der Tatortreiniger features the following tropes:
- Alone with the Psycho: In Über den Wolken, the man who messily chopped up his wife with an axe returns to the scene of the crime just as Schotty happens to clean it up. Fortunately, he turns out to be a rather repressed and prissy psychopath who Apologizes a Lot. Schotty quickly becomes amiable with him. The episode ends with the murderer expressing his wish to go on holiday, and offers to invite Schotty along as a 'hostage'. But then the police and SEK storm the compound.
- In Nicht über mein Sofa, the old lady who owns the crime scene turns out to be the killer, and tries to both bribe and threaten Schotty into not reporting her, citing phony rape and blackmail allegations while boasting about her excellent connections within the police.
- British Brevity: While not a British programme, each season has a maximum of four rather short episodes.
- Book Dumb: Schotty may be a bright fellow, but all his attempts to defeat another person utilising hard fact (outside sanitary chemnistry, that is) usually ends in embarrassment.
- Catch Phrase:
- Schotty's "My work begins where others would puke." Lampshaded when someone says that he sounds like he is used to saying that a lot.
- His "Ja... Nö."
- Chunky Salsa Rule: In Ganz normale Jobs, Schotty finds an ear of the murder victim that the forensics have overlooked. When two cops arrive in the end to relieve him of the ear, they express their dismay that he has unintentionally cleaned it off.
- Cool Car: The Maserati Quattroporte IV is apparently the subject of Schotty's wildest wetdreams.
- Cool Old Lady: The rich old lady from Nicht über mein Sofa, who stood up to a burglar with a knife. And then clubbed him to death in cold blood.
- Fictional Political Party: In Schottys Kampf, there is Die Eiche ("The Oak")note a privately funded 'society concerned with enthusing people in politics' that happens to be the scene of a fatal accident. It very quickly turns out to be a Neo Nazi club, complete with a private collection of Nazi memorabilia, including a tin containing Hitler's excrements.
- German Humour: It's like Loriot... with blood on the walls.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: In Ganz normale Jobs, Schotty is surprised by a hooker looking for her client while he is scraping said client's remains from the bathroom floor. The two end up discussing the possibility of her giving him a quick blowjob on the scene,... but instead they decide to have a friendly, casual talk about how the jobs of cleaners, prostitutes and general every-day professions are very much alike.
- Incest Is Relative: The writer from Spuren turns out to be a sexual deviant with a thing for elderly women, including his late aunt.
- Laser-Guided Karma: In Nicht über mein Sofa, a robber supposedly tripped and fell down the stairs in a rich old lady's house. Schotty soon finds out that the old lady smashed his head in with a golf club. At the end of the episode, the lady herself trips and falls down the stairs completely by accident.
- Loophole Abuse: The Neonazis from Schottys Kampf keep a lot of plain illegal things in their Nazi colection, including swastikas, runes, a bust of Hitler, SS weaponry, and so on. But since the collection is technically privately-owned (as proudly explained by the proprietor) it's all covered by the privacy laws.
- Manipulative Editing: In-Universe; In Die Challenge, a couple of sensationalist reporters decide to make a short documentary about Schotty's work - by splicing together dialogue together so that his work sounds less horrible and he himself sounds more embarrassing and quirky.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Was the psychiatrist's ghost in Geschmacksache real or merely a figment of Schotty's imagination?
- Our Ghosts Are Different: In Geschmacksache, Schotty inexplicably encounters the restless, but really smug spirit of a psychiatrist who was murdered in his practice by one of his patients with over forty stabs. The spirit expresses delight that his patient could finally vent all her anger on something after having stored it for all those years.
- Shout-Out: Schotty's mobile ring tone is the theme of Tatort.
- In Schottys Kampf, he makes the Nazi politician speak like Hynkel from The Great Dictator in his mind.
- Show Within a Show: Germany's Next Super Patriot, a reality show not unlike Big Brother, which involves the contestants trying to survive in a bunker and 'defend the fatherland'. It's basically The War on Terror - The Show. It even includes a challenge called 'Waterboarding' (head-under-water challenge).
- Stockholm Syndrome: Come on, who couldn't sympathise with the cold-blooded axe-murderer from Über den Wolken? Schotty certainly could.
- Take That!: Die Challenge was one big middle finger against most of Germany's private, reality-show-spawning television, and all the 'celebs' it produced. It helps that the show was produced by the state broadcaster NDR.
- Unreliable Narrator: All takes place from the viewpoint of Schotty. His personal fantasies and hallucinations particularly surface in Schottys Kampf, in which he is forced to listen to the rambling of a Nazi apologist, and punches him, gags him and hangs him upside down... in his mind. Among other things.
- Valley Girl: The girlfriend from Die Challenge is essentially a German version of this. She is blond and rather thick, and has gained fame entirely through participating in various reality TV shows, such as in Germany's Next Super Patriot. Truth in Television, by the way.
- Verbal Tic: The Neo-Nazi thug from Schottys Kampf keeps muttering "Deutschland" under his breath.
- Writer's Block: In Spuren, Schotty has a lot of fun with a man whose aunt died in his house and who is suffering from this. Apparently, he spent two weeks looking for a fitting way to describe his protagonist ascending the stairs. Schotty unintentionally manages to snap him out of it for good.