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Series / Early Edition

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"What would you do if you received tomorrow's newspaper today?"

That's the premise of Early Edition in a nutshell.

After his wife throws him out of his house, Gary Hobson (Kyle Chandler) starts receiving tomorrow's issue of the Chicago Sun-Times every morning, always accompanied by an orange cat. At first he tries to use this for personal gain, but after he sees an accident that was exactly described in the newspaper, he has a change of heart. By the end of the first episode, Gary and his friends Chuck Fishman (Fisher Stevens) and Marissa Clark (Shanesia Davis-Williams) start to use the newspaper to save people and prevent problems.

This fantasy-dramedy series ran for 90 episodes from 1996 to 2000 on CBS. It wasn't renewed for a fifth season, even with fan demand. The first season DVD came out in June 2008. Some auxiliary digital television channels have aired reruns, and the show is of course available on Paramount+.

The show provides examples of:

  • Achilles' Heel: For all its unusual properties, Gary's paper is the regular Chicago Sun-Times. If anything happens to disrupt its production (such as the terrorist plot in "Blowing Up is Hard to Do"), then Gary won't get his paper or know why.
  • All Just a Dream: Marissa Clark run over by car in "Run, Gary, Run". The first two times, anyway. The third was real.
  • Always Someone Better: "Saint Nick" runs on this. Nick Sterling is a beloved and famous philanthropist who goes out of his way to help everyone and makes it look easy, while Gary repeatedly struggles and often gets no regard. Gary's also pretty jealous of Nick dating Erica.
  • Amicable Exes: Very much averted in "Two to Tangle" with the Prestons. They avoid fighting in front of their daughter, but they otherwise go at it at every opportunity, have a bitter Divorce Assets Conflict, and try to undermine the other's business. As Gary has to keep cleaning up messes caused by their fighting, he gets very irritated with the both of them.
  • Being Good Sucks: Several episodes have Gary angst about the responsibility that comes with the paper. He spends so much time trying to help people that he barely has a social life or fun of any kind.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Gary spends "The Iceman Taketh" pretending to be an undercover Brigatti's husband. Constant arguing gives way to Ship Tease.
  • The Bet: According to Word of God, one of these between God and Mark Twain is what caused the papers to start being sent to people.
  • Big "NO!": After a former recipient of tomorrow's edition of a different paper loses his.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Gary's former wife, Marsha.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • "Crumb Again": Crumb is betrayed by a woman he fell for and having to send her to prison, but he moves back to town and resumes working on his book.
    • "Snow Angels": Gary saves 16 people in one day, but not Earl Camby because he went to save Cliff Mourning. Gary learns Cliff has a serious heart condition and is soon to die anyway, so he thinks Earl died for nothing. However, Earl was an organ donor, so Cliff gets a new heart and promises to be a better person.
  • Blessed with Suck: Gary views the newspaper as this.
  • Book Ends: "Crumb Again" begins and ends with Crumb working at a typewriter, just at different locations (an isolated cabin in the first scene and back in Chicago in the last).
  • Call-Back: Gary is certain he's seen the mystery man in "Fate" somewhere before, but he can't place it. The final scene reveals it was because of the photo of Lucius Snow he saw in a book he got in Season 1.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Gary once tried spending the night in a cabin in the woods to avoid getting the paper, and it still found him.
    • At other times, Gary was unavoidably detained and tried to get the paper sent to him, but that wasn't necessary, either.
    • "Fate" takes it even farther when Gary fails to save Jeremiah Mason from falling to his death and throws the paper out the window the next morning. After Gary attends Mason's funeral, a man appears to him and hands him back the paper. This man later leads Gary to the place the paper warned Gary'll die in order to save two people who definitely will die if he doesn't go there. After a building collapse, the man talks to Gary about the responsibility of the paper and how he needs to move past his grief for the sake of himself and others. It's revealed in the final scene that this man is Lucius Snow, Gary's predecessor.
  • The Cameo: Roger Ebert talks to a kid who runs crying out of a movie theater showing Bambi, assuring him that it's only a movie. It's later revealed that Chuck asked Roger to talk to the kid, thus preventing the kid from getting killed by running into heavy traffic.
  • Cassandra Did It: Police and others sometimes put Gary in this role when he tries to avert disasters.
  • Cats Are Magic: The cat is always with the paper wherever it arrives: Gary's hotel room, his apartment, a cabin, his parents' house. How magical the cat itself is is never explained, but Gary certainly treats it like an intelligent being that's more than a mere delivery mechanism. The cat also keeps hanging around the psychic girl in "Gifted."
  • Cats Are Snarkers: The cat can't actually talk, but Gary can't help but think it engages in this behavior at times.
  • The Cat Came Back: The pilot shows Gary tried to avoid the cat, to no avail.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In "The Choice" someone yells at Gary not to move an injured girl. "Don't you watch Chicago Hope?" It doesn't stop the doctors from the series appearing in a season 2 episode.
  • Chained Heat: In "Don't Walk Away, Renee", Gary saves a girl he met in elementary school, and then, when he tries to apologize for his stupid behavior at her office, some fake cops handcuff them together. They escape and return to his place, and Bernie says they "got off to a fast start."
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The pilot begins with a shot of a man sitting on a train station bench. He tries to rob a bank later that episode.
  • Chick Magnet: Gary, due to his heroics. Extreme examples of his in-universe fanbase include a cheerleading squad, a Russian princess, and a woman who turned down a marriage proposal from a world-famous, philanthropic doctor.
  • The Chosen Many: Gary is not the only one who gets the paper.
  • Christmas Episode: Gary and Crumb team up to find a bomber. Meanwhile, Chuck meets a man claiming to be Santa.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Gary. Friends and acquaintances often accuse him of this. Even he says in "A Regular Joe" that he'd try to help people even if he didn't get the paper.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Many episodes stress that the paper should be used to help people instead of for profit or other personal gain. "Fate" adds another layer in that Gary has to accept personal responsibility for choosing to use the paper to help others.
  • Comically Missing the Point: From the episode "Dad":
    Gary's Dad: Tomorrow's newspaper . . . today. Comes in the morning with the cat. So, you read a story in the newspaper and you run out into the city and save somebody's life and just like that, the story is gone?
    Gary: Something like that.
    Gary's Dad: Well, how do they do that? Some kind of special ink?
    Gary: II'm not sure.
    Gary's Dad: I bet it's the ink. Disappearing ink. The army was working on something like that when I was at Fort Briggs. Top secret stuff.
  • Crossover: With Martial Law. It's really only noticeable if you're familiar with the show, as beyond explaining that Sammo was a Chinese detective currently stationed in Los Angeles, there is not much of a connection otherwise. Although this still leads to a bit of a Celebrity Paradox, as Martial Law crossed over with Walker, Texas Ranger, and the latter's Nia Peeples played a nun on an episode of Early Edition.
  • Curse Cut Short: In "The Wrong Man", where Marsha, Gary's ex, is remarrying:
    Chuck: For all [Gary] knows, she could be marrying the most successful, best-looking guy in the city, with the biggest...
    Marissa: Chuck.
    Chuck: ...boat, the biggest boat— a-a yacht— on Lake Michigan.

  • A Day in the Limelight: "The Fourth Carpathian" puts Gary's parents at the forefront, while he's missing in action.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Marissa gets plenty of digs at Gary and Chuck.
  • Denser and Wackier: It's subtle, but the plots start to get more far-fetched in later seasons (Gary deals with a cursed mummy in one episode, gets kidnapped by witches in another), in comparison to season 1 which stays closer to Magical Realism.
  • The Determinator: Gary. No matter what life throws his way (be it plane crashes or rogue federal agents or Bat Masterson), he always prevails often through sheer force of will and some quick thinking.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In "Don't Walk Away, Renee," Gary's friends and parents get him to show up for his surprise party by faking a newspaper front page warning of a disaster. Gary is livid, saying the paper is not something to fool around with.
  • Due to the Dead: The final scene of "Deadline" is a two-fer at the local cemetery. Ricky Green and Allison Fletcher pay their respects to her brother, while Gary, Marissa, Molly Greene, Morris Sanford, and even the cat pay respect to Lucius Snow (the paper's previous recipient).
  • Dumb Blonde: Subverted in "The Iceman Taketh" with the Villain of the Week. Amber plays the part of a vapid socialite, but she's really a cunning thief, robs people under the radar, and has a patsy in place to take the blame.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Marvin Erickson (a side character in "Just One of Those Things") keeps suffering misfortune: his girlfriend broke up with him, he's getting kicked out of his apartment (by his own uncle, no less), he gets fired from his job, and his car dies on him. He's ready to throw himself in front of a truck that Gary happens to be chasing. The drivers stop to avoid hitting Marvin, which allows Gary to get into the truck and save a girl who was trapped inside an old refrigerator. Marvin gets the credit for the save (which Gary thinks is fair since he stopped the truck) and hits it off with a photographer on the scene (an old friend from high school).
  • Enhance Button: Used in an old photo taken at the JFK assassination in the two-parter "The Wall" to identify the real assassin. They're even able to enhance his age to make sure its him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Lindsey Romick (the little girl in "Time") attempting to stop a man who robbed a friend of hers. It's part of the reason why Gary picks her to be his successor.
  • Foil: Nikki (the psychic girl in "Gifted") to Gary. Both have means of knowing what's going to happen in the future, angst about the responsibilities that come with something they never even asked for, and take their failures hard. However, Nikki is a friendless teenager that blames herself for failing to prevent the car crash that killed her parents. She represents what Gary would be like if he had no one to turn to when he first got the paper.
  • For Want of a Nail: In episode 2, "Choices," Gary has to choose between saving the life of one little girl and saving 200+ people in a plane crash. He keeps trying to prevent the plane crash but, in the end, he's only able to save the little girl. As it turns out, the little girl's father was the pilot of the plane. Because she got the proper medical attention, he was pulled off of the runway at the last minute to go see her in the hospital, so the plane crash never happens.
  • Foreseeing My Death: Gary has dealt with this a couple times by way of the paper.
    • "In Gary We Trust": Gary becomes a witness in a federal case. The next morning, he notices just in time that one of the paper's stories is about a drive-by killing a witness in a bar, so he quickly tells everyone to duck and hits the floor.
    • "Fate": Gary gives up on the paper after failing to save a man, but then he sees his obituary. It says he dies in a building collapse. He tries to avert this but gets nowhere, so he becomes resigned to the possibility that this can't be changed and that he's being punished for his earlier failure.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: When Nikki explains what became of her parents three years ago, Gary realizes that he was there and saw her. The paper told him about multiple people being killed as a result of Nikki's father driving drunk. Gary was able to prevent other bystanders from being killed, but he couldn't stop Nikki's father from driving off and later crashing.
  • Freudian Trio: For the first couple seasons, Chuck is the Id, Marissa is the Superego, and Gary is the Ego.
  • Friend on the Force: Downplayed with the recurring cops that Gary encounters. Crumb, Brigatti, and Armstrong think Gary is a good person; at worst, they think he's just an eccentric with a secret. They usually give him the benefit of the doubt, and they do provide assistance that helps save lives. On the other hand, they don't like how Gary appears to randomly blunder into their cases, so they dread his sudden appearances. Worse, they hate how he leaves them with questions about how he knew intimate details of their cases (questions their superiors expect them to answer). Crumb only really warms up to Gary after he retires from the force and no longer has to deal with such hassles.
  • Gallows Humor: The Future-Flashback scene in "The Wrong Man" is chock full of this.
    • The entire episode is full of it really.
  • Got Volunteered: Gary spends most of the series thinking using the paper is playing this trope straight, but "Fate" suggests he's only half right. He's told by his own predecessor that while he didn't get a choice in getting the paper, he's always had the option to simply ignore it without fear of cosmic repercussions.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: "Run, Gary, Run".
  • Halloween Episode: "Halloween" (of course). The paper is accompanied by a black cat instead of the usual orange, Gary has to deal with a couple teenage witches who think he's a warlock, and an old woman unknowingly hands out poisoned treats to trick-or-treaters.
  • A Hero to His Hometown: With only a couple exceptions, Gary is positively adored by the people of Hickory. Some of it is because Gary's parents embellished his success in the big city, but the locals also remember Gary fondly as a friendly, popular, and accomplished person during his high school days. Quite the contrast to Chicago, where Gary is often ignored or chastised by apathetic citizens, while authorities consider him a well-meaning weirdo.
  • Heroic BSoD: In "Fate", when he accidentally let a homeless man he was trying to rescue fall to his death.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Again in "Fate", when Gary goes into an abandoned building that's about to collapse so he can save a young couple, even though he knew his obituary was in tomorrow's paper due to the collapse. He ends up surviving though.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • "Funny Valentine" has some fun with this when Patrick introduces a karaoke set-up. Patrick most definitely cannot sing, but Marissa demonstrates some real chops when she relieves him.
    • Crumb discovers this for himself in "The Play's the Thing." He took up stage acting to be close to a woman he liked, but he finds he actually enjoys it.
  • I Have to Go Iron My Dog: Everyone questions Gary on why he has to run off and his excuses are always flimsy.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Bernie admits to this in "The Fourth Carpathian." He's feeling his age and thinks Gary's heroic nature comes from his mother, so when the paper arrives at his house, he's desperate to prove that he can be a hero.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Gary was using the paper for profit until someone he knew got into an accident.
  • I Owe You My Life: At the end of "Blowing Up is Hard to Do," Detective Armstrong is ready to run Gary in for questioning. He only lets him go because Gary saved his wife's life (twice in the same episode, no less). He warns Gary won't get a pass the next time they see each other, though.
  • Impairment Shot: Gary takes a hit from a Capone-era T-Man and the shot goes out of focus from the camera's point of view rather than Gary's.
  • In Mysterious Ways: The group of people who gives various people (and Gary) the papers.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Meredith
  • It's All About Me: Many of the people of Chicago think like this. One basketball coach from episode 6 made it quite clear that he cared more about his own career ambitions than about the health of his team.
  • Jerkass: Gary's ex steadily evolved into this, though in all honesty, she was like that to begin with.
    • Gary's former boss Phil Pritchard fits this to a T.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Chuck, and sometimes Gary, when having a particularly bad day.
  • The Jinx:
    • Detective Armstrong doesn't really think Cassandra Did It, but he notes that Gary keeps turning up wherever there's trouble. He even likens Gary to Badluck Schleprock.
    • Miguel Diaz feels this way about Gary in "Camera Shy," as they keep crossing paths and the former inevitably suffers some kind of embarrassment or career setback as a result.
  • Karma: Mr. Phil Pritchard gets hit with this a lot in the episode "The Wrong Man". It's really quite satisfying to watch.
  • Karma Houdini: Mobster Frank Pirelli.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: As irritated as he usually is with it, Gary still feeds the cat and lets it hang around his apartment and bar. He even admits he misses the cat when it's not around.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In "Blowing Up Is Hard to Do", Marissa warns Gary how dangerous this is: it's not some movie he's in.
    • "Where or When" comes close; Gary gets injured during a save, and Chuck alludes to Hitchcock's Rear Window movie.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Morris Sanford appeared a few times in Season 1 to provide Gary some background about the paper's previous recipient. Morris makes a sudden reappearance in Season 3 and his first line is "It's about time."
  • Literal Cliff Hanger/ Take My Hand!: Happens quite a lot, actually.
  • Mean Boss: Gary's ex-boss. Gary even saved him from being killed by an angry employee.
  • Meaningful Name: Gary Hobson is presented with a daily Hobson's choice.
  • Mirror Character: Sam Cooper from "The Out-of-Towner" to Gary. Both get papers with tomorrow's headlines, but Sam appears as more of an aloof grandstander and jerk who uses his paper to make money. He also employs a crew to help him with various tasks. However, he reveals he used to be exactly like Gary; he'd run himself ragged trying to do it all himself and constantly worry about failing. And despite how he appears, he is committed to helping people; the money he makes off the paper mainly pays for the crew (who have families of their own to support).
  • Motor Mouth: Virtually every resident of the city of Chicago. They all seem to have a penchant for interrupting, and talking over Gary when he tries to get a word in edgewise.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • The backstory of "Deadline" for Lucius Snow (Gary's predecessor). He failed to prevent a murder reported in his paper, and Ricky Brown was framed for it. Lucius attempted to testify on Ricky's behalf, but since he couldn't account for how he knew the truth, he was destroyed on the witness stand. In the present, it falls to Gary find a way to save Ricky.
    • Sam Cooper when reflecting on his family. He cops to having had a bad marriage that should've ended, but he regrets not being part of his daughter's life. He avoided a custody fight to spare the kid emotional stress, but that meant he could only spend time with her on the ex's terms and couldn't do anything about it when the ex moved across country. As an adult, his daughter sees him as an embarrassment that she wants nothing to do with. Cooper remarks that a person thinks there is always time to fix past mistakes, only to realize too late that some things become unfixable over time.
  • Never Win the Lottery: One story involved people trying to fix the drawing. Other stories establish Gary wagers just enough with the future knowledge to pay his living expenses, much to Chuck's dismay.
  • The Needs of the Many: The lesson in "Fate" is that Gary shouldn't ignore his failures, but that he has to focus on those he can help rather than succumb to despair.
    Lucius: Count the living, Gary, not the dead.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Over time, Gary racks up a number of good deeds and improvised cover stories for those he encounters. Armstrong and Diaz both demonstrate how someone eventually notices the pattern, especially if a person is repeatedly spotted on the scenes of various police matters.
  • Noodle Incident: Gary has saved people off-screen. Like in episode 2, Chuck mentions the time Gary saved a trailer park from a tornado.
  • Oh, Crap!: Gary in "Time" when he learns he was originally going to die as a child and was saved by Lucius Snow.
  • Opening Narration:
    • The first season initially had a brief one:
      Chuck: What would you do if you got tomorrow's news today?
    • Soon, the opening would change to one with the characters waiting at a train stop mixed with various clips. This one didn't have any narration initially, but eventually got one. First it was said by Chuck, but Gary and Marissa would have turns in Season 3, as would an unknown narrator (the visuals also got changed up towards the end of this run):
      "What if you knew beyond a doubt what was going to happen tomorrow? What would you do? There's no easy answer for a guy who gets tomorrow's news today."
    • Midway into Season 3, it changed again, with the same unknown narrator doing it:
      "His name is Gary Hobson. He gets tomorrow's newspaper today. He doesn't know how. He doesn't know why. He only knows when the early edition hits his front door, he has 24 hours to set things right."
    • Season 4 would instead reuse a Season 3 clip of Gary explaining the premise:
      Gary: I get tomorrow's newspaper today. I'm out there saving people's lives. That's what I do, you see.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: "A Regular Joe" features a recurring dream of Gary talking to a psychiatrist about the paper and the effect it has on his life. He's tempted to just ignore the paper from now on, but he decides to save a football player from a nasty injury. At the end of the episode in the bar, Gary encounters a man who looks like the psychiatrist and is told he made the right choice.
  • Out of Focus: Patrick and Erica and Henry Paget during the second half of Season 3, where they have less involvement in plots. This may've been a deliberate reaction to the poor reception they received by fans.
  • Paranormal Gambling Advantage: Gary mostly uses the paper for altruistic purposes, but sometimes if he's short of cash he'll place a bet at the track. His friend Chuck Fishman urges him to exploit it more, but Gary sees it as an abuse.
  • Parting-Words Regret: Averted in "Fate" when Gary thinks he's soon to die. He tries to call his parents and leaves a message. He also writes a letter for Marissa and Erica.
  • Passing the Torch: Gary received the responsibility of getting the paper by a guy who gave him a Swiss army knife with his name on it. Gary later gives it to a little girl whose name is now on the knife, as she will receive the responsibility when he's done.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Everyone Gary runs into on the street is either a cynic, or a Jerkass, or both.
  • Police Are Useless: The pilot gives the best example. When Gary and Frank, the man who was going to rob the bank, are on the roof, the officer in charge tells a sniper, "The first shot you get, take 'em out." When the sniper asks, "Which one?", the officer replies, "How should I know, shoot the bad guy." Your tax dollars at work.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: "Gifted" has the markings of one. Lots of time is spent on a girl with psychic powers, though Gary at least gets some decent screentime.
  • The Power of Friendship: "Up Chuck" ends with Gary and Chuck reaffirming their friendship.
  • Power of Trust: The titular character in "Rose" appears to be an amnesic woman being targeted for murder. Gary is willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, while Crumb thinks it's just a con and that Gary is being naive. Gary suspects Crumb is just still smarting from the betrayal he suffered in "Crumb Again" until the woman runs off with a small fortune. Turns out they were both right. The person that Gary and Crumb first encountered was Lily, Rose's twin sister. Rose is a con woman that got on the bad side of a worse criminal; she intended to use Lily as the distraction to save herself. Lily was completely innocent in all of this and barely survived a murder attempt, getting amnesia in the process.
  • Properly Paranoid:
    • By the end of Season 2, Crumb is certain that some force out there is looking out for Gary and motivating his various good deeds.
    • In "The Play's the Thing," Gary notices the paper keeps involving him in the featured theater troupe. He suspects the paper wants him there ahead of a major incident.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Chuck at the end of Season 2, but he did some commuting once in Season 3 and twice in Season 4.
    • Erica and Henry at the end of Season 3.
    • Patrick leaves in "Wild Card" from Season 4.
  • "Rear Window" Witness: Gary gets caught up in a plot while stuck in his apartment with a broken leg in one episode.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Judge Romick in "Time" was usually an upstanding official, but while running for circuit judge, he took a bribe (which 11-year-old Gary walked in on) and occasionally looked the other way for the briber's clients ever since. 24 years later, Gary confronts him because Romick is letting William Baylor (a violent murderer) skate. Romick later performs a Heroic Sacrifice to save Baylor's next victim.
  • Refused the Call: Attempted by Gary several times. It never worked out well for him.
  • Ripple Effect Indicator: The newspaper itself.
  • Rogue Juror: Gary in the episode "The Jury".
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • "Deadline" deals with the fallout of such a choice. Lucius Snow (Gary's predecessor) had to choose between which item to prevent first: one man being murdered or a deadly train wreck. He chose to prevent the train wreck first and failed to get to the site of the murder in time, leading to innocent man (Ricky Brown) being framed and sentenced to die. As Gary tries to stop Ricky's looming execution, he dreads the idea of having to make the kind of decision Snow made.
    • In "The Iceman Taketh," an expensive diamond is missing, despite the thief supposedly being in custody. Since the department guaranteed its safety, Brigatti gets chewed out by her boss and faces punishment. Gary finds the real thief (Amber) and intends to bring her in, so she throws the diamond into a departing garbage truck. As Amber says, Gary can either go get the diamond to get Brigatti off the hook or bring in a thief, but not both. Gary chooses to go for the diamond, and Amber drives off.
    • "Occasionally Amber": Gary struggles with telling Chuck about Amber's past. Doing that might prevent a priceless jewel from being stolen, but he also dreads the idea of destroying his best friend's happiness.
  • Satellite Love Interest: A criticism of Erica was that she primarily existed to be Gary's Love Interest and not much else. She was a single mom with a rough past, but that actually doesn't come up particularly often. Every time she had a major appearance was instead in some way related to or referenced her relationship to Gary. It's arguably lampshaded in her last appearance, where she asks Gary if her absence would affect his life in a unique way, and he can't think of an answer.
  • Secret Chaser:
    • Defied with Crumb. He makes it repeatedly clear that he doesn't want to know how and why Gary keeps turning up in various situations, as he considers it all rather freaky.
    • Played straight with Detective Paul Armstrong, who debuts in Season 3. He immediately notices holes in Gary's various cover stories, and he wants answers.
    • Also played straight with Miguel Diaz, a photographer who appears in Season 4. He picks up on Gary's name repeatedly appearing in reports and is certain that's him in various story photos. He runs a search and finds three years' worth of sightings. His pursuit of the truth makes him look bad to his boss and hurts his career, though Gary does help him get back on his feet with a major scoop against a Villain of the Week.
    • Reporter Frank Scanlon in the "Fatal Edition, Part 1" suspects Gary is hiding something and begins looking into him. This ends up making Gary the prime suspect when Scanlon is murdered.
  • Secret-Keeper:
    • Gary's parents, Marissa, Chuck, Erica, and Henry.
    • "Up Chuck" reveals Gary has to be this to the paper and that the rule is strictly enforced by the powers that be. It's one thing for his friends and family to know, but if his actions were even at risk of becoming public knowledge, the paper would become a blank slate so that the masses couldn't exploit it for personal gain.
  • Selective Obliviousness: In one episode, Gary tries to approach the girlfriend of a mob boss in order to warn her of her impending assassination. Unfortunately when they find her she holds him and Chuck at gunpoint because she finds their behavior suspicious. What's downright appalling is the fact that she does this in the middle of a crowded hotel, and the people all around seem to outright refuse to comprehend the fact that there is someone literally waving a gun around right in front of them.
  • Self-Defeating Prophecy: The whole show.
  • Self-Deprecation: Chuck tried to sell a TV series based on Gary's adventures. He was told it wasn't believable.
  • Sequel Episode:
    • "Occasionally Amber" follows up on "The Iceman Taketh," as Gary sees that Chuck's new fiancée is the same jewel thief under a new name. Amber/Jade insists she's changed, and Gary is torn between his suspicions and Chuck's happiness. Complicating matters is Brigatti being assigned to track Amber down.
    • "Performance Anxiety" centers on a member Sam Cooper's crew who was briefly referenced in "The Out-of-Towner."
  • Series Fauxnale: "Time" (the second-to-last episode to air, but the last one in production and reruns). Gary continues on like he always does, but he finally learns why he got the paper and chooses his inevitable successor.
  • Shadow Archetype: Federal Marshal Toni Brigatti from "In Gary We Trust" represents what Gary could be if he didn't try to have a normal life outside the paper. She certainly helps people, but she has nothing else in her life outside the job, so she's a bitter cynic.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Crumb's play in "The Play's the Thing" is A Midsummer Night's Dream. Crumb is playing Nick Bottom, while Gary gets roped into playing Oberon after the original actor gets injured (during one of Gary's side missions, no less). Hilarity Ensues, until Gary learns an arsonist is targeting their theater.
  • Skepticism Failure: Gary spends "Just One of Those Things" trying to tell Erica about the paper, but she won't believe him or Marissa. It's only when she sees Gary save a girl trapped in a refrigerator and the changing articles that she realizes it's true.
  • Skewed Priorities: "The Fourth Carpathian" sees Lois (Gary's mom) learn about the paper and that Bernie (Gary's dad) already knew about it for a year. While Bernie muses over the impossible nature of their son's situation, Lois is just irritated that he didn't tell her about it until now.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The show was thoroughly on the idealistic side.
  • St. Patrick's Day Episode: In "Luck O' The Irish," Gary's luck mysteriously takes a turn for the worse when he meets an Irish man.
  • That Was Not a Dream: "Hot Time in the Old Town" sees Gary get knocked out while trying to stop a construction project about to go horribly wrong. He wakes up in 1871 Chicago days before the infamous fire and encounters versions of people he knows. During the course of this, he saves a young boy (Jesse) from being murdered, gets his family to safety, and gives him a pocket watch. When Gary wakes up in the present, Chuck arrives at the construction site with the company owner, Jesse Mayfield IV, whose great-grandfather was saved by a stranger during the Great Chicago Fire and given a pocket watch. Gary is summarily stunned.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: In one season 3 episode, Patrick said he just got kicked out of the college frat house he lived in because the fraternity dug up some old by-laws that ban members from staying for more than 10 years after they graduate from college.
  • Time Travel: The paper apparently comes from the future. (Occasionally people time travel, too.)
  • Time Travel for Fun and Profit: Gary supports himself by using the paper to bet on horse racing.
  • Threefer Token Minority: Marissa (black, female, and blind).
  • Unbelievable Source Plot: the premise of the show. Gary gets tomorrow's newspaper today. He frequently asks for help from a detective on the police force, who eventually learns to trust his "intuition." Frustrating, because Gary would be so much more effective if someone on the police force just knew his secret, so he wouldn't have to persuade them from scratch to help out. They could just consider him a golden tip but he never tells anyone, and each episode where he needs police help, he has to convince someone all over again. The detective, when he is around, usually reluctantly agrees to help based on years of experience with Gary.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Gary once saved an old lady from getting run over in the street by a fire truck. Her way of saying thanks? Hitting him over the head with her cane, then telling him to "get a life" as he walks away.
    • Gary stands out in the frigid cold for hours in the episode "Frostbite" waiting to save a man from getting hurt in a car accident. Once he does it turns out the old con-man was going to deliberately break his leg so he could sue the driver. The man even has enough gall to insult Gary for his selflessness.
      Con-Man: (hits Gary with a cane) I hope you're proud of yourself!
  • Unknown Rival: Joe, Gary's old friend from their hometown, Hickory. They were friends in high school, but Gary was the big man on campus (a straight A student, a sports star, a date every Saturday night), while Joe was constantly in his shadow and enjoyed much less success. He even lost a prized scholarship to Gary. So, while Gary is considered a big success by the locals, Joe is still there working a job he doesn't feel challenged by. 15 years later, Joe still has a very big chip on his shoulder, and Gary is stunned to find his old friend resents him so much.
  • Unlucky Everydude: Gary, full stop.
  • Unwanted Assistance:
    • When Crumb was on the force, he was frequently annoyed by Gary's sudden intrusions into police business. Armstrong behaves similarly.
    • Averted with Brigatti. She's needed Gary's help on a couple cases and won't leave him alone.
  • Valentine's Day Episodes: "Funny Valentine" from Season 3. Gary tries to juggle his new relationship with Erica and the paper, while Suzy Pietro (a doctor he encountered) has to choose between a colleague and Andy Miller (a baseball player that Gary saved). Marissa also hits it off with a cab driver that Gary got a ride from.
  • Very Special Episode: One early episode dealt with gun violence.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Amber repeatedly flirts with Gary and compliments his attractiveness, even when he's trying to bring her in.
  • Wacky Parent, Serious Child:
    • Gary's dad Bernie is much more relaxed and fun-loving than his son.
    • The Prestons from "Two to Tangle" are workaholics constantly at each other's throats and have a list of quirks (Francesca is loud and dramatic, Addison is neurotic and scheming), while their 11-year-old daughter Dominique is straight-laced and painfully aware of their faults. Deconstructed in that it puts enormous emotional strain on Dominique, to the point where she and Henry nearly get killed while trying to run away.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Second Sight": Chuck departs, which affects the course of the show (particularly Gary and Marissa's friendship).
    • "Just One of Those Things": Erica learns Gary's secret, and the two begin dating officially. This has less long-term importance, though, because...
    • "Blowing Up is Hard to Do": Erica breaks up with Gary and leaves town with Henry. Detective Armstrong is also more convinced than ever that Gary is hiding something and promises to follow up.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: "Up Chuck" actually has multiple examples:
    • Chuck makes a sudden return, but Gary is annoyed since they've barely spoken since he left. Gary really loses it when he learns Chuck paid a guy to follow him around and record his exploits in the hopes of selling a TV show. For his part, Chuck gets mad when he learns that Gary sold his half of the bar to Marissa without even telling him. It eventually descends into a shouting match (on The Jerry Springer Show, no less).
    • The cat even gets one. When it looks like Gary is about to blow the big secret to the world, the cat hisses at and tries to scratch him.
  • Who Shot JFK?: This was done in the episode The Wall.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Chuck tries to pitch a TV show about a guy who gets tomorrow's newspaper. It doesn't go over very well.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: In the episode where Chuck is marrying Amber/Jade, Gary confronts her in the hotel room and they fight. When Chuck walks in, Jade claims that Gary had hit on her.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Gary often falls into this, especially when time is running out to save lives.