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Series / Endeavour

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The name's Morse ... just 'Morse'.

Endeavour (2012-) is the second spinoff series of Inspector Morse. A prequel set in the 60s, it relates the early cases of the young Detective Constable Morse, starting with his arrival at Oxford CID.

The central characters are Morse (Shaun Evans), the brilliant—if at times intolerable— detective in training; DI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam), his salty, quick-fisted mentor; and Reginald Bright (Anton Lesser), the Superintendant. Younger versions of Morse's pathologist Max and Chief Superintendent Strange (who begins this series as a uniformed constable) also appear.

The title refers to Morse's first name. Despite this, it's as rarely used as it is in the original series.

All episodes are written by Russell Lewis, who had previously written some of the episodes for Lewis.

Broadcast on ITV in Britain, with frequent repeats on ITV3. Airs in the United States as part of PBS' Masterpiece Mystery.


This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: At the end of the first series, Thursday's daughter is dating Jakes. Thursday has got the wrong end of the stick and thinks she's dating Morse - which he isn't thrilled about, but is willing to let go because at least it's not Jakes. When the second series picks up four months later, the whole arc seems to have been resolved off-screen.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: There is one beneath Beaufort College in "Trove". (Strictly speaking, it's a covered river.)
  • Accidental Murder: In "Canticle", the Rev. Golightly dies when he consumes a box of chocolates intended for Mrs Pettybon, and a Laxative Prank triggers a fatal heart attack.
  • All Germans Are Nazis: In "Rocket", Thursday becomes confrontational with an engineer of German extraction and questions him about his past in Germany prior to coming to England. While Thursday is presented as showing a less pleasant, paranoid side of his character, he might not be off base, as this is a rocket engineer who lived and worked in Germany during the War, a possible reference to Wernher von Braun.
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  • Alone with the Psycho: Thursday ends up trapped on a rooftop with the killer in "Fugue". Luckily, Morse isn't far behind.
  • Always Murder:
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: In "Fugue", Morse sniffs a teapot he suspects has been poisoned and comments "If that's the stuff chimps drink, then I'm a Chinaman".
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Thursday's family is threatened by the mobsters in "Home."
  • Animal Assassin: In "Prey", the murderer uses a tiger as their weapon of choice.
  • Backronym: The computer in "Game" is called the Joint Computing Nexus, which is done so that its initials (JCN, read as "Jason") are "IBM" shifted forward by one letter. Famously, shifting the other way gets you "HAL".
  • Beard of Sorrow: Well, technically it's a moustache of sorrow. Morse sports one throughout Series Six, following his being reassigned to a uniform position and rejected by Joan Thursday. Nicknamed the 'Morsetache' by fans, it was gone by the following series.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In "Degüello", Morse is standing alone in a deserted quarry, facing off against a Dirty Cop and a gang of local thugs. As the cop tells Morse that he is going to die alone, a police car rolls into the quarry and out step Thursday, Bright and Strange and take their place behind Morse, saying they don't abandon their own. Even as the the Dirty Cop is saying he can kill all of them and get away with it, there is the wail of police sirens approaching. Bright calmly announces that while he might have some influence over uniform and CID, his reach does not extend into the Traffic division.
  • Blasphemous Boast: At the end of "Quartet", Morse accuses Thursday of playing God. Thursday, unmoved, replies that God's away and left him in charge.
  • Blatant Lies: At the end of "Passenger", Morse claims his first name is George, which is actually DC Fancy's first name.
  • Blood from the Mouth: In "Coda", Inspector Thursday starts coughing up blood just before he goes to make what might be his last stand against a gang of bank robbers. He then coughs up the bullet fragment that had been lodged in his lung.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: How Morse wins the day in "Rocket": when he tells the murderer they already have the evidence they need, he replies that he never thought anyone would look there.
  • Bombproof Appliance: Not exactly an appliance, but in "Harvest", Morse dumps an grenade inside a lead lined drum intended to hold nuclear waste. The heavy drum acts as a sump and funnels the blast upwards.
  • Bound and Gagged: In "Degüello", the crooks kidnap Max in order to lure Morse into an ambush. When Morse arrives at the quarry, Max is bound and gagged and lying in the back of a builder's truck.
  • Brand X: As usual in the Morseverse, all Oxbridge colleges are fictional and brand names generally fake. However there is one significant aversion: the Oxford Mail is real, as is its forerunner Jackson's Oxford Journal (referenced in "Trove"). It never had an editor called Dorothea Frazil, though.
  • Break the Cutie: The events of "Coda" break Joan Thursday to the extent that she leaves town; though she subsequently returns, she's definitely not the woman she was before.
  • Broken-Window Warning: In "Cartouche", racist thugs attempt to throw a brick through the window of a public advice centre helping migrant families, but it bounces off the toughened glass.
  • Buried Alive:
    • In "Fugue", the opera Theme Serial Killer buries one of his victims alive to match the heroine's death in Aida (Verdi).
    • In "Degüello", Max discovers concrete in a victim' sinuses, mouth and lungs, meaning he was still alive the killers dropped into the wet concrete of a building's foundation.
  • Call-Forward: To Inspector Morse, naturally. The series addresses the origins of elements of Morse's character such as his taste for real ale, his limp and his friendship with Strange.
    • In the pilot, Morse is asked to imagine where he'll be in twenty years, looks into a mirror and sees John Thaw looking back at him.
    • In the pilot, Morse doesn't drink. However, Thursday forces him to drink a pint of ale after he has a shock. Morse likes it and continues drinking ale throughout the series (and on into Inspector Morse).
    • Subverted with the rooftop scenes in "Fugue", which could have provided an origin story for Morse's fear of heights. However, Morse does show some fear of heights on the rooftop in "Trove," after the events of "Fugue."
    • In "Trove," one of the judges of the beauty contest is race car driver Danny Griffon (whose family is at the center of the plot of the pilot of Lewis), and Dr. Matthew Copley-Barnes returns as a key character in the Inspector Morse episode "The Infernal Serpent."
    • Strange gets a significant Call Forward in "Trove" as well: the episode deals with his first brush with Freemasonry. He goes along with it, thinking it could be good for career advancement. Given that he goes on to rise higher in the police than the more capable Morse, maybe it was.
    • In "Neverland", Thursday suggests that if he retires, DS MacNutt could take Morse under his wing. Morse recalls MacNutt as his mentor in the Inspector Morse episode "Masonic Mysteries".
    • Also in "Neverland", when Thursday suggests he'll probably die as a policeman rather than retire, Morse quotes the last verse of "How clear, how lovely bright" — the same verse he quoted in "The Remorseful Day" shortly before his own death in harness.
    • "Ride" includes Morse's classmate Antony Donn, who reappears in the Inspector Morse episode "Deceived by Flight." Both episodes also feature drug trafficking plots that are unrelated to the initial murders.
    • Also in "Ride," a minor character makes a reference to dating Julian Hanbury, who appears in the Inspector Morse episode "Ghost in the Machine."
    • In "Prey", Philip Hathaway and the Mortmaigne family (from the Lewis episode "The Dead of Winter") are central to the plot.
    • "Coda" depicts the bank robbery that eventually leads to the events of the Inspector Morse episode "Promised Land." The funeral scenes at the beginning of both episodes, in particular, are structured in a parallel manner, with Strange and a colleague (Thursday/Morse) watching the proceedings from a distance through binoculars and commentating on the participants.
    • The classics don Jerome Hogg (one of the hostages in "Coda") appears again in the Inspector Morse episode "Greeks Bearing Gifts."
    • In "Cartouche", Morse attends the autopsy of a former police officer who took to drink; Max comments that it was a toss-up whether his heart or his liver gave up first. At the end of the episode, Morse wonders if that's what will happen to him. Thursday tries to reassure him, but we know that, give or take a few details, it will.
    • One of the police officers in "Passenger" is DS Dawson, who as DCI Dawson will play a major part in the Morse episode "Second Time Around".
    • "Zenana" features a side plot in which a motion to make all-female college Lady Matilda's coeducational is defeated. Fast forward to the Lewis episode "Old, Unhappy, Far Off Things", and Lady Matilda's has become the last Oxford college to go coed.
  • The Cameo: The red Jaguar owned by Morse in Inspector Morse is seen on a garage forecourt in the pilot.
  • Car Cushion:
    • In "Trove", the Victim of the Week is coshed and tossed of a building to come to rest on top of a car in an attempt to make it look like a suicide. Naturally, several aspects of the 'suicide' don't add up to Morse.
    • Played for comedy in "Cartouche", when the manager of a cinema is poisoning the local pigeons, and then pushing the corpses off the roof. One of them lands on the bonnet of Thursday's police car, occasioning blank looks from both Thursday and Morse.
  • Catchphrase:
    • As he does in the original series, Strange has a fondness for addressing people as "matey". Given that Morse is hardly ever addressed by his (hated) first name, this is perhaps just as well.
    • In "Ride", it tips off Morse that Joss Bixby has been replaced by his twin, as the imposter does not copy the real Joss Bixby's verbal tic ("Old man").
  • Characterization Marches On: In Series 1 and 2, Bright is the Pointy-Haired Boss, Obstructive Bureaucrat, and worse. In Series 3 he undergoes an abrupt change to become the Benevolent Boss and A Father to His Men. His rhotacism disappears around the same time.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In "Neverland", it's Chekhov's Scarf. Monica's gift for Morse is stolen and used as a murder weapon in an attempt to frame him.
    • In "Game", it's Chekhov's Computer. The original purpose of the JCN computer was to run a postal address database. Later in the episode Morse and Thursday need to locate an address, and find that the computer can look it up in mere hours, as opposed to the days a manual search would take.
    • In "Colours", it's Chekhov's (literal) Minefield.
    • In "Pylon", it's Chekhov's Public Information Film. Yes, Bright's publicising of Pelican crossings has more to it than showing that he's been posted to the Traffic division. Turns out that the little girl whose body Morse finds in the field wasn't murdered, she was ran over while crossing the road. Later, Bright is being followed by villains who wish to do him harm, but he's saved by a crowd of his young fans who've seen the film and want his autograph. Since the villains can't hurt him in front of witnesses, they back off.
    • In "Confection, it is an actual gun. Of sorts. The bolt-gun used to put the horse down is later stolen and used to kill Murray Cresswell.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Subverted in "Home". Early on, Morse is established as an excellent shot, and this is brought up a couple more times in the episode. In the end, however, it's Inspector Thursday whose skill with a pistol saves Morse, not the other way around.
    • In "Prey", Chief Superintendent Bright's reminiscences of hunting a man-eating tiger in India prove crucial at the climax.
    • In "Game", WPC Trewlove's chess skills come in handy as she is able to recognise chess strategies.
  • Chemically-Induced Insanity: The episode "Canticle" has the murderer giving massive doses of LSD to their victims in order to make killing them easier, or even having them get themselves killed in a delirious state. One of the intended victims does survive, but is left in an insane state from which we are told they may never recover.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Chief Superintendent Bright in "Rocket", as the pressure of the murder investigation begins to tell on him.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Many characters from the pilot episode, in particular Superintendent Crisp and Sergeant Lott, disappear without any explanation in the first full series (although Thursday clearly wanted the corrupt Lott gone in the pilot, and it's plausible that others met a similar fate).
    • In Series Seven, no mention is made of whether or not Ronnie Box survived after he was shot at the end of Series Six.
  • Comforting Comforter: Thursday drapes his coat over Morse in "Fugue."
  • Comforting the Widow: The killer in "Home" kills her husband to invoke this. It doesn't work.
  • Composite Character: The Series 3 premiere was a Whole Plot Reference to The Great Gatsby. Harry Rose is a combination of Meyer Wolfstein and George Wilson (as the killer of the Gatsby Expy), or so we're led to believe; in reality, it's Dan Cody, the man who mentors a young Gatsby.
  • Condensation Clue: In "Game", Morse investigates a suspicious death at the public baths. When he turns on the hot water, the mirror steams up to reveal the word "DENIAL" written on it.
  • Constructive Body Disposal: In "Degüello", Councillor Berkit and his partner McGryffin dispose of the local borough surveyor who discovered they were embezzling funds meant to go into building a tower block, by burying him alive in the foundations. His body is found a year later after the tower collapses as a result of them using unsafe building materials.
  • Consulting Mister Puppet: In "Neverland", ventriloquist Benny Topling can only speak about his suppressed trauma through his dummy.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In "Trove", the Saxon buckle from the Inspector Morse episode "The Wolvercote Tongue" gets namechecked.
    • In "Harvest", the new reactor is controlled by a Joint Computing Nexus computer, harking back to the computer in "Game".
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Possibly invoked in "Harvest" — Morse is called to Joan Thursday in hospital, and the staff speak as if this is what has happened. But only she knows the truth.
  • Corrupt Cop: A recurring theme throughout the series.
    • Most of the police force in the pilot, to the point that Thursday takes Morse on partially because he actually trusts him.
    • In "Trove", a notebook was stolen from the crime scene, and it's strongly implied that the villains pulled this off using a mole inside the police force, which becomes the main plot in "Neverland".
    • Series 4 reveals that the Powers That Be aren't happy with Morse's constantly exposing corrupt coppers and are effectively blackballing him to make sure he stays a constable, going so far as to nick his Sergeant Exam so he'll automatically fail.
    • Ronnie Box in the fifth and six series, although it turns out that the Big Bad is actually his sergeant, Alan Jago.
    • Shockingly, Fred Thursday takes a bung from Ronnie Box, although he later gives him the money back.
    • Jim Strange is an interesting case. He's an honest copper .... who doesn't see anything wrong with using his Masonic connections to rise up the police career ladder. He also has no problem indulging in occasional brutality.
  • Counting Bullets: In "Coda", Morse tells a gangster who is holding Joan hostage that he has been counting the shots and that he has emptied his revolver. This causes the gangster to move his gun from Joan to Morse. As he is doing so, Inspector Thursday shoots him. Morse was bluffing. There was still one live round in the gun. He just wanted to get the gun moved away from Joan.
  • Covered in Gunge: In the opening of "Trove", a beauty queen is attacked with paint by a feminist protester.
  • Creator Cameo: Colin Dexter appears as one of the dons in "Home". He also appears in each episode of series 2, always within the first few minutes of the episode. His photograph can also been seen in "Muse" and "Passenger".
  • Crossword Puzzle: This is the Morse prequel, so it would be surprising if this wasn’t present.
  • Cunning Linguist: In consecutive episodes, it is revealed that Thursday speaks both Italian and German fluently as a result of his wartime experiences. Morse himself has a good grasp of Russian thanks to his having done his National Service in the Royal Corps of Signals.
  • Da Chief: Superintendent Bright, although his air of authority is slightly undermined by his rhotacism.
  • Da Editor: Dorothea Frazil is a more subdued example being more of a subdued Deadpan Snarker rather than the Large Ham normally associated with the trope. She's normally the one doing the reporting so there's nobody for her to yell at, and she's one of the only characters from the Pilot to carry over into the series proper.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Series 1-2 had antagonism between Morse and Jakes, Bright as a much more corrupt and unsympathetic character, before he Took a Level in Kindness and became Da Chief in series 3 onward, as well as heavy themes of police corruption which came to a head in the very dark series 2 finale, "Neverland".
    • Series 6 returns to this after the much lighter tone of series 3-5 following the the Downer Ending of the series 5 finale. This series shows the results of the closure of the Cowley station and merger into Thames Valley Police, with Bright Kicked Upstairs to the traffic division and feeling humiliated as a result, Morse initially demoted back to uniform work on the very edges of Oxford (at least until the ending of the first episode, "Pylon", where he is restored to his previous position), Thursday demoted to DI and answering to the sweeney-like DCI Ronnie Box and DS Alan Jago who abuse their authority and mistreat suspects and other officers, and being drawn into their more brutal and corrupt way of policing, as well as having his wife be frosty with and grow away from him due to the events of the series 5 finale, a growing rift between Thursday and Morse due to Morse's constant clashes with Box and Jago, Strange on a quest to find out and exact revenge on Fancy's killer and a frosty relationship between Morse and Joan due to Joan turning down his offer for coffee at the end of the previous series.
  • Day of the Week Name: DI Thursday.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • If we had such a trope as Crowning Moment Of Snark, Thursday's deadpan response to Bright's anecdote about meeting Princess Margaret would definitely qualify.
      Thursday: One for the memoirs, sir.
    • Or his response in "Fugue" when Bright emphasizes Morse is only being taken off general duties to assist with this one case:
      Bright: I don't want him getting ideas.
      Thursday: That's kind of what I'm counting on.
    • Max DeBryn also has his moments.
      Morse: You're the, you're the pathologist, I presume.
      DeBryn: Better hope so, hadn't you. Otherwise I'm making one hell of a mess of your crime scene.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: In "Trove", a successful local businessman turns out to be a case of this. As a soldier during the War, he was on long range patrol with his commanding officer when the latter was killed. Seeing a chance to escape his unhappy life at home, he stole the officer's rank and identity. It comes back to bite him when he has sex with a young lady who turns out to be his daughter.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Gerald Wintergreen rapes both boys and girls.
  • Domestic Abuse: The B-plot in "Quartet" involves Thursday seeing evidence of the increasing violence being inflicted by a newsagent on his wife, and attempting to get her to report him. His abuse eventually lands her in the hospital and when, after she returns home, he dies in a fatal Staircase Tumble, Thursday chooses to turn a blind eye.
  • The Don: Eddie Nero. That is, until he was finally killed by his rival, Cromwell Ames, in "Icarus" after a brief gang war, at which point his silent partners, Councillor Clive Burkitt and George Craven, started to take over both his protection rackets and the local drug trade with the help of some cops on their payroll.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Colours", referring to both the military, and race relations.
  • Downer Ending: Series 5 ends with the gang rivalry between Eddie Nero and Cromwell Ames resulting in a shootout in which both gang leaders and the majority of their gangs are killed, and in the process Fancy is killed trying to stop the shootout with the unknown person who shot him escaping. The other major arc of the series, the impending closure of the Cowley station, where all the main characters have been based up to this point, also comes to a downbeat close with all of them being sent to separate positions around Oxford and some being demoted. Trewlove, while grieving for Fancy, departs for Scotland Yard and leaves the series. To top it all off, Thursday's retirement plans are shattered when his brother Charlie loses the money that Thursday lent him to criminals using his shipping business as a front for fraud, leaving Thursday with a much longer career than he'd hoped, as well as leaving him looking over his shoulder for the rest of his life worried that his name on the cheque he'd given to Charlie could be traced back to him and lead to his arrest for involvement in fraudulent activities. The only bright spot seems to be Morse finally making a move and asking Joan out for coffee, only for the next series to reveal that even this ended badly and she refused, leaving the pair frosty with each other. Overall this sets the tone for the much Darker and Edgier series 6.
  • Driven to Suicide: In "Canticle", Joy Pettybon (a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of self-appointed Moral Guardian Mary Whitehouse) is a widow by the time the episode begins. We later learn that her husband committed suicide after he was arrested and charged with gross indecency (i.e., homosexual solicitation) and couldn't face the shame the trial and resulting publicity would bring on his family.note 
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Morse is very bright and talented but is stuck on General Duties, despite being a natural-born detective. Subverted as the show goes on and the others besides Thursday begin to appreciate his talents.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Bright has a noticeable case of rhotacism at the start of the series. Apparently he got speech therapy at some point between Series 2 and 3, as it's far less noticeable (and sometimes completely nonexistent) from Series 3 onward.
  • Fingore: In "Girl", the post office robbers cut off two of the postmaster's fingers to force him to open the safe. And then it turns out that he did it to himself to establish an alibi.
  • Floorboard Failure: While investigating an abandoned area of the school in "Nocturne", Morse falls through a rotten part of the floor.
  • Food Slap: In "Muse", High-Class Call Girl Eve Thorne throws a drink in Morse's face following a loaded conversation between the two of them.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Morse starts the series as a teetotaller, and is slowly introduced to alcohol through his time in the police force. If you've watched Inspector Morse, you know he eventually becomes very fond of beer
    • We know Detective Constable Morse will become Detective Inspector Morse ... eventually. But given that Morse's Sergeant Exam goes missing because he's made enemies with the wrong people for exposing corrupt coppers, it'll be a very long wait.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In "Ride", the first episode of series 3, a conjurer shows Thursday one of his tricks: he loads a revolver, fires at Thursday (who is uninjured), and then coughs up the bullet. This prefigures how Thursday resolves his own bullet-related issues in "Coda".
    • "Pylon" opens with Bright, now exiled to the traffic division, presenting a public information film on crossing the road safely. It turns out that the first victim wasn't murdered as everybody thought, but was knocked down by a car.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: In "Pylon", Thursday worries that in a past case, Lott framed the obvious suspect (who was subsequently hanged). Morse, looking into the case, discovers proof that the man was framed — but also that he was guilty.
  • Girl of the Week: In series 5, Strange is moved to comment on Morse's proclivities after he's had four girlfriends in the space of four episodes.
  • Going by the Matchbook: In "Home", Morse finds a matchbook with the phone number of the girl of the week written on it. He initially goes looking foe the girl and learns that she is a cigarette girl at a nightclub and brought the matchbooks home with her. When she goes missing, Morse uses the book to identify the club she works at at goes looking for her.
  • Grammar Nazi: In "Rocket", Morse is sent to keep an eye on a group of anarchist protesters and make sure they don't cause trouble. He can't resist pointing out a spelling mistake on one of their banners.
  • Hand of Death: One appears at the end of "Nocturne", opening a ring (one of the clues in the case) to reveal a Masonic emblem.
  • Happier Times Montage: At the end of "Coda": Realising that Joan Thursday has been traumatised by her experiences in the bank robbery, Morse gets a montage of her Ship Tease moments with him.
  • Happily Married: Fred and Win Thursday, who represent the happy family life that Morse himself never had.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Morse is a dedicated officer who naturally has a detective's intuition, proven to be a valuable asset. And finds himself blackballed for offending the wrong people, who arrange for his Sergeant Exam to be nicked. In contrast to Strange who failed his Sergeant Exam ... and then joins the local Masonic Lodge, which arranges for him to be promoted anyway.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: Strange tells Morse his colleagues think he's a "Queer fish, stand offish... rude".
  • Heel–Face Turn: In "Degüello", Thursday, horrified at what he has become by taking a share of departmental kickbacks from Box, returns the money he received in "Confection"; Box tries to persuade him to change his mind back with a visit to two occupants of higher rungs on the corruption ladder, Councillor Clive Burkitt and construction mogul and prominent Freemason George McGyffin, but this just enrages Thursday further. Box then confesses that he didn't start out corrupt himself, but one kickback led to another until he was in over his head. In the climax, he takes a step toward redemption by gunning down the even more corrupt DS Jago, who has Morse and Thursday at gunpoint - though he takes a bullet himself for his trouble.
  • High-Class Call Girl: In "Muse", Morse has to locate, and the protect, a high-class call girl (and artist's model) named Eve Thorne who seems to be the only connection in a series of murders. When Morse says she is nothing more than a common prostitute, Eve retorts that there is nothing common about her.
  • High-Voltage Death: The second Victim of the Week in "Rocket" is electrocuted when he walks through a puddle that the killer has run a live wire through. Intended to look like an accident, the killer's mistake was killing him as he was leaving the building, rather than arriving.
  • Historical Domain Character: Princess Margaret in "Rocket" and Lady Isobel Barnett in "Trove", both non-speaking parts.
  • Hostage Situation: In "Coda", Morse is in Joan's bank following a line of inquiry when the bank is robbed. The robbery goes pear-shaped when the getaway driver panics, shoots a copper and takes off. Soon Morse and Joan are caught up in a hostage situation.
  • Humble Hero: Morse, who was awarded the George Medal at the end of "Harvest" for preventing a terrorist attack on a nuclear power station, does not have the ribbon on his uniform in "Pylon".
  • I Don't Pay You to Think: The only person who doesn't say this to Morse and actually listens to him is Thursday.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: In a rare platonic example, Thursday's partner was killed by the mob earlier in his career, causing a lifelong hatred of the mobsters who killed him.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Through series 3. Thanks to his injuries in "Neverland", Thursday has a bullet in his lung, and suffers from coughing fits that get worse as the series progresses, much to everybody's concern. It's exacerbated by his refusal to seek medical attention. In the final episode it reaches the point that he's bent over a sink coughing up blood — and then subverted as he coughs out the bullet and after that everything's fine.
  • Intoxication Ensues: In "Canticle", Morse is given a glass of lemonade laced with a homemade concoction of black henbane and jimsonweed that causes him to hallucinate violently.
  • Jack the Ripoff: In "Passenger", a pair of killers use the M.O. of an uncaught killer from several years earlier to make it appear that he is active again. However, they miss several crucial details that were never released to the public, such as the original victim being strangled with her bra.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While Bright's attitude towards Morse seems unjustified, he points out that his role as Thursday's Number Two undermines the police rank system, it normally goes to a sergeant not a constable. He also believes that Morse is just too inexperienced to be a detective (reinforced by Morse making two big mistakes, a false arrest and overlooking a suspect in a murder investigation), something which Thursday reluctantly agrees is true.
  • Jurisdiction Friction:
    • There's one between the Oxford City Police, which Morse and co. work for, and the Oxfordshire Constabulary (a.k.a. "County"), which arises when a student at a local girl's boarding school is murdered.
    • In "Quartet", the investigation into the deaths of the Swiss and West German contestants in Jeux sans Frontières is initially carried out by the Oxford City Police, since the murders happened in Oxford. However, as Max is examining the bodies, two Special Branch agents show up to take over the investigation; they start by removing the bodies and the other pieces of evidence. However, Max says they couldn't confiscate his memory, and relays as much detail as he can remember, allowing Morse to conduct a parallel investigation.
  • Last-Name Basis: Already in full effect with Morse, who refuses to tell anyone his Embarrassing First Name. Thursday knows it and uses it to get his attention in the pilot, but otherwise he's just "Morse".
  • Laxative Prank: A laxative prank turns fatal in "Canticle". The Rev. Golightly eats a box of chocolates laced with laxatives, but his liver is shot and the laxatives trigger a fatal heart attack.
  • Letterbox Arson: In "Cartouche", a house occupied by Kenyan Asians is torched by racists pouring petrol through the letterbox and igniting it.
  • Lighter and Softer: Series 3-5 in comparison to the much Darker and Edgier series 1, 2 and 6.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: Series 4 reveals that Morse's constantly exposing corrupt coppers has made him unknown enemies within the powers that be, who arranged it so his Sergeant Exam paper went "missing" so he'd automatically failed. Bright advises Morse to actually leave Oxford and go somewhere else.
  • London Gangster: One of them, an old nemesis of Thursday, sets up a nightclub in Oxford during the events of "Home". Said gangster is an associate of the Fletcher Brothers, who are implied to be even worse, and he is rumored to have gone to Oxford to escape their wrath.
  • Men in Black: The two Special Branch agents in "Quartet" are tall, well-dressed, and never say a word on camera, which makes them all the more sinister. They show up late in the evening while Max is examining the murdered Swiss and West German Jeux sans Frontières team members, and the next morning, Max says they explained they were taking over the investigation and removed the bodies and the other pieces of evidence. They show up again as Mullion is taken into custody, and one final time along with Millie Bagshot after Morse confronts Elsie Dozier over being a Soviet mole.
  • Mugged for Disguise: "Quartet" opens with an episode of Jeux sans Frontières being filmed in Oxford; a KGB assassin kills a member of the Swiss team and steals his tracksuit to allow him to infiltrate the contest and kill a member of the West German team.
  • Mushroom Samba: The murderer in "Canticle" spikes Morse's drink with a mixture of herbal hallucinogens, causing him to go on one of these.
  • Mutual Kill: In "Icarus", The gang war between Eddie Nero and Cromwell Ames ends with both their deaths.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: "Prey" proves to be one for Bright. Before the war, he and a colleague had to hunt down a man-eating tiger; he killed the tiger, but couldn't save his colleague. This time, he kills the tiger and saves Morse.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the pilot, the question of whether Morse's girlfriend at university was called Wendy (as in the books) or Susan (as in the series).
    • There are also a number of episodes that use plot elements from Morse novels that were Adapted Out in their own televised episodes:
      • "Ride" involves two brothers called Charles and Conrad. These were the names of the Richards brothers in the book of "The Dead of Jericho"; the TV version renamed them to Anthony and Alan.
      • The murderer's motive for revenge in "Cartouche" is based on a subplot in "The Riddle of the Third Mile" which didn't make it into the TV adaptation "The Last Enemy".
      • In "Icarus", Morse is assigned to the case because the previous investigating officer was killed in a traffic accident. In the book version of "Last Seen Wearing", Morse is assigned the case after the death of Inspector Ainley in a traffic accident.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • "Canticle" has several.
      • Joy Pettybon is clearly intended to recall real-life moral crusader Mary Whitehouse, with particular reference to an occasion where she sued a magazine into bankruptcy and got its editor jailed for printing an article that depicted Jesus Christ as a homosexual.
      • Chat show presenter Julian Calendar looks, dresses, and acts like 1960s TV presenter Simon Dee. He shows up again in "Quartet" as the presenter of the UK heat of Jeux sans Frontières.
      • While the "Wildwood" are most clearly an analogue of the pre-British Invasion Beatles, the lead member, Nick Wilding is closely based on Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd. Like Barrett, Nick was a founding member of his group and drew inspiration from eclectic/highbrow literary sources. Also like Barrett, Nick becomes increasingly alienated from his band due to LSD usage and ends up as an Addled Addict following a "bad trip".
    • "Colours" references the real-life occasion when Malcolm X spoke at the Oxford Union; here, his place is taken by one Marcus X. His opponent, Charity Mudford, evokes Unity Mitford.
    • "Apollo" features Jeff and Hildegard Slayton, who make puppet shows in an identical manner to the real-world Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, creators of Thunderbirds and other shows.
  • Not My Driver: In "Coda", a group of hostages are loaded on to a coach by a bank robber. When coach runs into a roadblock, the robber orders the driver to open the doors. The driver turns around and points a pistol in his face. it's Trewlove.
  • Not So Different: In "Fugue", the murderer claims that he and Morse are the same and share the burden of being intelligent.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Morse asks his neighbour Monica out, then has to cancel (and lies about it) because he's previously promised to accompany Constable Strange to the cinema with Strange's girlfriend and her friend. The friend turns out to be Thursday's daughter... and, of course, Monica sees them together and draws the worst possible conclusion.
  • Number Two: Morse is briefly this to Thursday, but his inexperience and Bright's criticism of the arrangement mean he's sent back to General Duties so Sgt. Jakes and later Strange take this role.
  • Obfuscating Disability: In "Ride", a magician's assistant (actually his son) lives as a badly disfigured mute (supposedly crippled in the bombing of Coventry). This allows him to ditch and appear as someone else whenever the magician requires a stooge.
  • Old Flame Fizzle: Alice in "Rocket", when she realises Morse is still carrying a torch for Susan / Wendy.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • Thursday pretending not to know what sort of sandwiches Win's made for him, and Morse telling him (because she always makes the same sort on the same day of the week) quickly becomes a bonding ritual. In "Trove", it's a sign that Morse is deeply troubled when he stops playing along.
    • Max, the coroner, is typically shown maintaining the utmost sang-froid examining every dead body he sees and usually making a few droll comments, but he's shown as very shaken by the murder of a schoolgirl in "Nocturne" and begs Morse to catch the person responsible.
    • Also in "Nocturne", while Bright is usually an Obstructive Bureaucrat, but he's furious when an office from the County Police tries to raise Jurisdiction Friction, angrily commenting that they shouldn't be butting heads over this kind of issue when there's the murder of a child to be solved.
  • Pistol-Whipping: A bank robber smacks Morse in the face with a pistol for standing up to him in "Coda".
  • Plot-Based Photograph Obfuscation: In "Nocturne", Morse looks into an unsolved Victorian era murder of a wealthy family which was popularly blamed on the youngest daughter (who was the only person left alive who was in the household), and support seems to be lent to this by the fact that the daughter died in an institution and her father scratched her face out of all photographs and even painted over her portrait, leaving her The Blank. At the end of the episode, after having figured out she wasn't the killer, Morse comes across one photograph which was unscathed, and reveals the daughter had Downs Syndrome, indicating that far from being an Ax-Crazy monster, she was a disabled person who suffered horribly due to Victorian mores and her jerkass father.
  • Police Brutality: Being an Old-Fashioned Copper, Fred Thursday is not above this.
    • In the pilot episode, a suspect 'suddenly' gets a nosebleed when left in a room alone with him.
    • In "Trove", he goes full-on Papa Wolf and beats seven bells out of the two thugs who've been roughing Morse up.
    • He loses his temper and assaults a prisoner in "Prey". Bright, while bawling Thursday out, notes that the standard cover story for this trope will be given out: that the man fell down the stairs on his way to the cells.
    • He escalates this behavior in "Coda," leading to his suspension from the force due to public complaints.
    • In "Harvest", he tracks down Joan and beats up the (married) man she's living with, in addition to which he threatens to fit him up as a "nonce" (British criminal slang for a sex offender).
    • He's at it again in "Pylon", beating up a local pervert with Ronnie Box, and later laying one on the doctor who's been abducting pre-pubescent girls to indulge his fetish for photographing them.
    • In "Degüello", Ronnie Box is on the receiving end; it's thoroughly deserved.
  • Public Secret Message: In "Pilot", a university professor and cryptic crossword compiler uses his weekly crossword to supply his paramour with the time and location of their next assignation.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Jakes leaves both the police force and Oxford (on a literal bus) in order to start a family in "Arcadia." Also counts as Earn Your Happy Ending, considering what we found out about him in "Neverland."
    • Monica, after being a recurring character and potential love interest for Morse (even if any relationship would have been Doomed by Canon) throughout Series 2, is Demoted to Extra for the first two episodes of Series 3, and then dropped altogether after that. She comes back for a brief appearance in "Lazaretto," which mostly just serves to close the book on her character.
    • After the events of the bank robbery in "Coda," Joan Thursday suffers a Heroic BSoD and quietly leaves Oxford, asking Morse (and her parents via a letter) not to try tracking her down. Halfway through the following series it turns into Commuting on a Bus, and she starts appearing again.
      • Joan does not make any appearance in Season 7 with an explanation that she is working outside Oxford. This was due to her actress having a baby during the filming period.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Follows where Inspector Morse led - basically, any man who lives with his mother and has a model railway in the attic is Always Chaotic Evil. Lamp Shaded by Trewlove:
    Trewlove: What is it with men and trains?
  • Rank Up:
    • Strange becomes a Sergeant in Series 3 and Morse's immediate superior when Jakes leaves. Morse himself finally decides to take his Sergeant exams during the finale; Series 4 reveal that his exam paper went "missing" meaning he automatically failed.
    • At the end of Series 4, Morse is promoted to Detective Sergeant, and preventing a nuclear incident and being awarded the George Cross.
  • Real Award, Fictional Character: In "Harvest", Thursday and Morse are both awarded the George Medal for preventing an act of terrorism at a nuclear power station.
  • Real Men Cook: Subverted with Strange. In "Raga", he's cooking along to a TV cookery show - only to give up, pick up the phone and order a takeaway curry instead.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Thursday, as he has no problem listening to Morse.
  • Reassignment Backfire: At the start of Series 6, Bright has been Kicked Upstairs to the Traffic division and has been reduced to a figure of fun for CID by appearing in road safety commercials with a pelican to promote the then new Pelican Crossing traffic lights. This backfires twice in the finale, as when Bright is lured to an ambush with two thugs he's spotted by a group of schoolchildren who recognise him from the commercials and mob him to get his autograph (thus foiling the attempt to kill him by providing loads of witnesses), and then in the final showdown as he turns out to have been in command of a group of officers the corrupt coppers didn't subvert because they didn't think they were important enough.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: At the start of "Pylon", following the closure of the Cowley police station (and, implicitly, the fall-out from Fancy's murder), Morse is a uniformed sergeant in a quiet country police station, Thursday has been effectively demoted, with Strange implied to have only avoided the same fate via his freemasonry connections, and Bright has been Kicked Upstairs to the traffic division.
  • Running Gag:
    • Win always gives her husband Fred the same sandwiches on the same days of the week.
    • In the second series there's also a kind of running gag involving a billboard advertising Grimsby pilchards.
  • Resigned in Disgrace: The very first episode features Richard Lovell, a respected government minister with a taste for prostitutes (including several underage teenage girls). When one is murdered and throws a spotlight on the issue, he initially believes he'll get through it with his career intact thanks to MI-5 covering up his involvement. However, in the climax, Agent Dempsey reveals that the government has deemed him too big a liability and he's been instructed to take early retirement. When he tries to protest, Dempsey makes it clear his orders come from Howard Wilson himself and if he does not agree, he'll shoot him dead on the spot and frame it as a burglary gone wrong.
Saved by Canon: Morse, Strange and Max are all guaranteed to survive through this series, seeing how they're recurring characters in Inspector Morse.
  • Scary Scarecrows: In "Harvest", Morse discovers a very odd and creepy scarecrow in a maize field: one that turns out to be wearing the Victim of the Week's jacket. And a radiation badge.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Superindentent Bright delivers an excellent one in "Degüello" when a Sleazy Politician offers to get his terminally ill wife on test program for an experimental cancer drug in exchange for burying an investigation. When the politician remarks "What are friends for?", Bright coldly turns him down, saying:
    "You are not my friend, and you never will be."
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Strange admits that his Masonic connections may have helped him become a Sergeant and his transfer from being a general policeman to the Criminal Investigation Department; earlier in the show he failed his Sergeant exam.
  • Serial Killer Baiting: Convinced that the police are not doing enough to catch the "Towpath" serial killer in "Zenana," students and teachers at Lady Matilda's college set up a trap: one student acts as bait then the others swarm the attacker. During his ensuing escape the attacker is run over by a car and mortally wounded. Unfortunately the attacker turns out to be a copycat killer, leaving the real killer free to carry on.
  • Sequel Hook: "Trove" ends with the criminals vowing to use their Masonic connections to get revenge on Morse, and Morse positive that he's overlooked something. We're then shown a shot of what he forgot: a notebook that went missing from the crime scene, being passed from one unknown figure to another.
  • Setting Update: Reaps what the Inspector Morse series sowed in this regard. That series updated novels set from 1970 onwards to the then-present (1987 onwards). Endeavour, which is initially set in 1965, follows the TV chronology, so its setting is 20+ years before the original series, not five.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran:
    • Inspector Thursday was clearly traumatized by his experiences in World War II, which left a darkness in him that he does his best to suppress.
    • Colonel MacDuff in "Colours" even more so, since his flashbacks lead to outbursts of violence.
  • Ship Tease: Morse and Joan Thursday, so very much. Even though anyone even vaguely familiar with the original series must know that it'll never happen.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Shovel Strike: A flashback in "Harvest" reveals that the Victim of the Week woke up as the killer was attempting to bury him, as was finished off by a blow to the head from a shovel.
  • Significant Anagram: Repeatedly in "Fugue".
  • Sinister Whistling:
    • In "Coda" Peter Matthews (the younger of the Matthews brothers) whistles tunelessly to himself as he advances on Joan Thursday and the other hostages they've taken.
    • Whistling "Antonio" in a slow and stilted manner is the Calling Card of the Towpath Killer from Season 7. This is used to great effect, with several scenes involving the killer entirely offscreen and we just hear him whistling as he closes in on his victims. It's likewise used as a plot point twice: first to signify his copycat isn't the real killer as he instead whistles "Molly Malone", and second to cause Sergeant Strange to realise Carl Sturgis is the real killer when he starts whistling "Antonio" in his kitchen.
  • Sleazy Politician: Chief Inspector Bright has some definite shades of this (at least until season 3), as he's shown on more than one occasion attempting to quash investigations by Morse and Thursday into criminal behavior by people of importance, clearly motivated by a fear that they could hurt his opportunities for advancement if angered (or would help him if he remained on their good side).
  • The '60s: The temporal setting, albeit not the "Swinging Sixties" but a much more true-to-life drab setting full of grey cars, brown suits, beige sofas and olive green paint.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Morse and Claudine share a post-coital cigarette in "Colours".
  • Spy Fiction: "Quartet" is probably closest to Bathtub Gin flavour, with Morse drawn into the world of espionage while investigating the shooting of a foreign athlete. It also has elements of both Stale Beer (Millie Bagshot is strongly reminiscent of Connie Sachs) and Martini (the perfume factory boss is a pastiche Bond villain, complete with a tank of poisonous fish in his office, who suggests his secretary could make Morse a Martini).
  • Standard Snippet: The music heard as "Quartet" opens is Zadok the Priest, timed so that the singing begins as the 'Endeavour' caption appears onscreen.
  • Steam Never Dies: "Passenger" still has steam-hauled trains on the branch lines around Oxford in June 1968. It's theoretically possible (steam wasn't fully banned until August 1968) but unlikely since the Western Region had officially moved completely to diesels by 1966.
  • Story Arc:
    • Season 2 has a running theme of police corruption.
    • Season 5 has an undercurrent of conflict between a local racketeer, Eddie Nero, and a rival gang trying to take over his patch.
    • Season 7 notably has two, the Towpath Killer and a mysterious series of fatal accidents. The season also puts less emphasis on the Case of the Week in order to devote time to both arcs.
  • Stress Vomit: Morse throws up his socks after being saved just in the nick of time from a charging man-eating tiger in Prey. As he is shielding a woman and baby this came very close to being a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Combined with Mythology Gag in "Home". Morse's dad doesn't look much like the Endeavour Morse played by Shaun Evans... but he does look remarkably like John Thaw! In other words, there isn't a strong family resemblance yet, but there will be. (This isn't a Casting Gag, though - without the make-up, actor Alan Williams doesn't look like John Thaw at all.)
  • Surprise Incest: In "Trove", a man performing a Dead Person Impersonation discovers he has just slept with his daughter. The girl had been an infant when he faked his death and stole his commanding officer's identity. The girl had taken her stepfather's surname so he had no idea who she was. This causes him to vomit.
  • Survival Mantra: In "Muse", the victim of a gang-rape is shown reciting "Hail Mary, full of grace..." as she's assaulted.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Morse, he's extremely bright and talented, and he's clearly wasted on general duties, but Bright uses his rank as Constable and his relative inexperience to keep him there, until he passes his sergeant exams.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: In "Arcadia", an extortionist who is targeting a supermarket plants tainted products on their shelves: putting arsenic in the bloater paste, and crushed glass in the baby food.
  • Tarot Troubles: Morse is given a Tarot reading in "Harvest" that turns up the Fool, the Lovers (inverted; he's unlucky in love), Judgement, the Tower and Death.
  • Tempting Fate: It is, of course, at the very moment that Chief Superintendent Bright is congratulating himself how well the security operation in "Rocket" went, that the news comes in: somehow, he and his men missed a murder being committed under their very noses.
  • Theme Serial Killer:
    • In "Fugue", a Wicked Cultured opera-themed serial killer seems to be choosing the names of his victims in the order of the notes of the treble clef, EGBDF. While he is doing that, more specifically he's killing people who were involved with his original trial, or were related to those who were. He also murders them in ways that are based on death scenes in operas.
    • In "Muse", Morse investigates a series of murders where the victims are killed using methods inspired by Biblical murders as depicted in Renaissance art. Small wonder that Morse does not twig to the theme until he he sees several paintings reproduced in the same book.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Tessa Knight in "Game", who decides to go in search of the serial killer of the week, on her own, at night, without telling anyone what she's about to do. Unfortunately for her, she finds him.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Strange starts out as Morse's friend and appears to be a trustworthy ally. However, he betrays Morse in "Neverland" to advance his career, and when promoted to Jakes's position in "Prey", immediately starts ordering Morse around. And then proceeds to follow Thursday's example of knocking around informants. This shift makes sense, as in the original Morse series, Strange, who has risen to the position of Chief Superintendent, has a relationship of mutual respect with Morse, but is decidedly not a friend, let alone a close friend.
    • Thursday too, still reeling from being shot in "Neverland" begins to indulge more and more in Police Brutality in Series 3 much to Morse's shock and disgust.
  • Took a Level in Kindness:
    • Morse began the series as a bit of an arsehole. His personal growth is complete in "Arcadia": Rather than spoil DS Jakes's farewell party with his dour presence, he gift-wraps some savings bonds as a present to the soon-to-be Mrs. Jakes.
    • Jakes starts out appearing to be an all around Jerkass and stereotypical Old-Fashioned Copper. However, he starts to become somewhat more likable throughout series 2, culminating in the reveal of his horrendously abusive childhood. He then parts with Morse on friendly terms early in series 3.
    • Bright, of all people, goes from an Obstructive Bureaucrat with Sleazy Politician tendencies in the first two series to a much more sympathetic character in Series 3. As penance for railroading Morse in the 'Who Shot Thursday?' case, he exposes himself to serious danger while protecting his subordinates in "Prey" and "Coda." It is also revealed he personally watched over Thursday in hospital after the events of "Neverland", to protect him from the corrupt coppers trying to finish the job. This probably has something to do with the actor, Anton Lesser, striking gold with Game of Thrones and needing to be enticed back to his (rather thankless) old role.
  • Weak, but Skilled: As Thursday points out, Morse might be a good detective, but he is a horrible policeman, and that "no one can teach you the first, any fool can learn the second."
  • Weapons Understudies: The Standfast SAM in "Rocket" is played by a Bristol Bloodhound.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Cyril Morse (Alan Williams, incidentally a dead ringer for John Thaw). He's not exactly a people person, either. He never liked coppers — as he blithely admits to the newly-minted Constable Morse! Morse's stepmother, Gwen, has always treated him as an interloper and basically kicked him out of the house. By then Joyce had been born and Cyril probably didn’t want to divide his time between the two.

    We do learn in "Home" that he took his son out shooting, and while this is probably not how lil' Endeavour wanted to spend his afternoons, he is nevertheless an expert shot. So the gist of it is that Cyril's personality (cold and exacting) rubbed off on Morse.
  • Wham Episode: "Neverland". It ends on a cliffhanger: Thursday has been shot and seriously, possibly fatally injured. Morse has been framed for the murder of the Chief Constable.
    • The series 5 finale "Icarus" as well, ending with The gang war that has been building up over series 5 culminating in a shootout leaving the vast majority of both gangs, both their leaders and Fancy dead. On top of this, a grieving Trewlove leaves for Scotland Yard, Thursday's retirement money is lost to fraudsters, Cowley station is closed and the team is separated due to the creation of Thames Valley Police and Morse finally asks Joan Thursday out for coffee.
  • Wham Line: In "Confection", Bright confides in Max that his wife has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and asks if Max knows anyone who might be able to give a second opinion. Max offers to put Bright in touch with a doctor whom he describes as the finest cancer specialist in the whole of the UK... to which a clearly shellshocked Bright responds that said specialist was the person who made the initial diagnosis. Poor Max is left trying to Verbal Backspace and assure Bright that the specialist isn't infallible, after all.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
    • "Rocket" features Henry Broom and his children Richard, John, and Harry (deceased)- all Plantagenet kings, but more specifically it is one of many references in the episode to The Lion in Winter. There's also the Broom matriarch returning from "exile" (like Eleanor of Aquitaine); the death of Harry, the favored son and heir, causing a Succession Crisis for the family; a proposed merger with the French; and an I Know You Know I Know line that can be seen as a Shout-Out to Geoffrey's famous one in The Lion in Winter. Even the last name is a reference: "Plantagenet" comes from planta genista, the medieval word for the broom flower.
    • The plot of "Ride" is fairly transparently a reference to both The Great Gatsby and The Prestige.
  • Wicked Stepmother: In the episode "Home" Gwen is implied to be this. Morse's reaction to her is not one of friendliness.
  • You Make Me Sic: In "Rocket", Morse tells a protestor wielding a placard that he does not doubt his sincerity, but that he might get more respect if he spelled 'Levellers' correctly.

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