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Hunter is a drama series about two Los Angeles homicide detectives, sergeants Rick Hunter and Dee Dee McCall. It was created by Frank Lupo and produced by Stephen J. Cannell Productions, and ran on NBC for seven seasons starting in 1984.

Rick Hunter (played by ex-football player Fred Dryer) has a reputation for being a Cowboy Cop, which makes him less than popular among his superiors. While he tends to bend the rules and disregard orders, he only does so to get evidence against the bad guys, and his intuition never fails in picking out who is a bad guy or who isn't. He would never stoop to manufacturing evidence or framing an innocent.

Dee Dee McCall (Stepfanie Kramer) is Hunter's partner. As tough as she is good-looking, she is sometimes called the "brass cupcake". She is just as pro-active as Hunter when fighting crime and doesn't hesitate to get into physical fights with the criminals, but she is less hot-headed and often acts as a calming influence on her partner. In the last season, McCall leaves the series after getting married to an old flame and is replaced by two other female detectives.

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Not to be confused with the book of the same name by white-supremacist author William Luther Pierce.


This show provides examples of:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Hunter is actually this to his colleagues in the squadroom, despite his Cowboy Cop tendencies, because they feel that his maverick ways actually get results.
  • 0% Approval Rating: Captain Lester Cain, Hunter's captain in the first season is this to everyone else in the squadroom, except for By-the-Book Cop Professional Butt-Kisser Sgt. Bernie Terwilliger, as they feel he is too out of touch to really know how dangerous the crime filled streets of Los Angeles can really be.
  • Accent Slip Up: In "Lullaby," the Serial Killer (played by a pre-Forrest Gump Gary Sinise) has a refined British accent. When this trait is leaked to the media, he begins affecting a strong Texas drawl...until his car door is almost taken off by another vehicle, at which point he starts yelling in his native accent. His next intended victim hears him and runs away.
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  • Action Girl: McCall. Despite being much smaller than Hunter, she is just as active in fights and or chasing down criminals on foot — often in high heels. Sergeant Kitty O'Hearn is another example.
  • The Alleged Car: Any car driven by Hunter in the first season either is this, or becomes this during the episode. Sometimes it is literally falling to pieces. Because of his reputation for wrecking cars, the police department will always give him the worst vehicle available. On the occasions where he, through luck or trickery, can obtain a new car, he will invariably get in a car chase and wreck it. This is downplayed in later seasons, where several episodes can go by without even a scratched fender.
  • Always Murder: Subverted in "Allegra" and "Murder, He Wrote" where the "murders" turned out to be suicides.
  • Amoral Attorney:
    • Some lawyers depicted do fit the mold of "amoral person who almost seems to want their client to commit more crimes", which is not atypical for a Cowboy Cop show.
    • On the other hand, some (usually female) lawyers do genuinely believe in the legal process and are willing to work with Hunter when they feel something obviously suspicious is going on.
    • Hunter even uses a lawyer he's butted heads with in the past to defend himself when Hunter becomes a suspect in a murder, despite acknowledging that the lawyer would find this hilarious.
    • The same lawyer is also hired by a man who murdered an Asshole Victim who killed his wife — the lawyer openly wonders if Hunter recommended him, which would be illegal for a police officer to do.
  • Anyone Can Die: Ambrose Finn and Joanne Molenski. The latter is replaced by Chris Novak.
  • Asian Babymama: Rick Hunter, who is a Vietnam vet, finds out that he has a teenage son from a one-time Vietnamese girlfriend.
  • Asshole Victim: Drug pusher Jimmy Duggan in "Brotherly Love", who succumbs to Death by Falling Over, thanks to one of his clients.
  • Avenging the Villain: A foreign man comes to LA to challenge Hunter to a duel. Turns out he is the brother of the rapist Hunter killer earlier. Notably, Hunter does not give the man what he wants by shooting the gun out of his hands and has him deported.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: You probably couldn't pick a better name for a Cowboy Cop than Rick Hunter.
  • Back for the Dead: The season 4 episode "The Jade Woman" had Hunter helping one of his old Vietnam buddies Randall Fane (played by Dirk Blocker) rescue his kidnapped Asian wife. A season later, in "Dead on Target pt. 1" Fane returns, only to kill himself since his wife left him due to him being obsessed with learning the truth about something that happened in Vietnam.
  • Banana Republic:
    • The fictional country of Caraguay, where military strongmen hold political power, and a diplomat got off a rape charge due to being a general's son. After Hunter traveled to Caraguay and killed the diplomat, it was covered up as a hunting accident, with the diplomat's brother looking for revenge.
    • El Santiago is another one, which underwent a recent revolution which led to the execution of the former dictator, but the Torture Technician escaped to the US under another identity.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Rick Hunter shoots an underage crook and is asked by a reporter why he didn't shoot the weapon out of his hands. Hunter ridicules the idea, yet a later episode shows Hunter doing this to a man who challenged him to a duel.
  • Boxing Episode: "Ring of Honor", guest starring Sammy Davis Jr. in his final on-screen appearance.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Happens at the end of a few episodes, such as "The Beautiful and the Dead", when Hunter looks at the camera and lampshades a case of What Happened to the Mouse?.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • After leaving the show at the end of season 6, McCall returned in the 2002 Reunion Show "Return to Justice".
    • Captain Cain was Kicked Upstairs after season 1, and came back to the division in season 4, only to resign in disgrace after he pressured the department to drop a soliciting charge on behalf of a powerful judge.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Sgt. Bernie Terwilliger thinks Hunter is a disgrace for the department and never fails to point out any time he breaks a rule. Unfortunately, Terwilliger is not that good a detective himself, and usually fails where Hunter's "cowboy" methods succeed. In the second season, he gets transferred to Internal Affairs, a job which brings him into frequent confrontation with Hunter, before succumbing to the Chuck Cunningham Syndrome in the third season as his actor, James Whitmore, Jr., had begun working behind the scenes as a director.
    Hunter: Bernie Terwilliger couldn't catch the measles if you broke a bottle of the virus over his head!
  • Camera Sniper: Shown at the start of an episode where the Villain of the Week is a vigilante who has become obsessed with Rick Hunter and is stalking him and his partner, in a montage with the song "I'll Be Watching You".
  • Catchphrase: Hunter's "Works for me".
  • Chase Scene: Most episodes have several, both by car and by foot.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Brad Wilkes, the CIA agent featured in several episodes, is depicted as amoral at best and not unwilling cross Hunter and McCall to protect suspects if they are deemed to be vital for US national interests. Meanwhile FBI agents are depicted as more moral but willing to follow rules to the letter.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: McCall comes across as this both professionally and personally regarding a female detective who has a good rapport with Hunter.
  • Continuity Snarl: In the pilot Hunter has never met McCall's late husband, Steve, but in a later episode which had a flashback, they worked in the same squad and were on a friendly basis, and Rick actually meets DeeDee through him (and he later informs her about his death). In addition, in the pilot, they were both rookies and newly married and McCall says he was shot by some joyriding hoodlums, but in said later episode, Steve was now a full-fledged homicide detective while Dee Dee was still a rookie and he was working on a major homicide case which got him killed.
  • Cool Car: McCall's red Dodge Daytona.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: Judge Warren Unger is a corrupt Satanist legal worker who uses his connections to get away with major crimes.
  • Corrupt Hick: While Hunter and McCall are escorting a prisoner through a small Midwestern town, a local girl is raped and beaten and the incident is blamed on the prisoner. In fact, the culprit is the Sheriff, who has been abusing his power and his position as the stepson of the richest man in town.
  • Cousin Oliver: Hunter's final partner in the series, Chris Novak (Lauren Lane), is a single mom with a young daughter, Allison (Courtney Barilla).
  • Cowboy Cop: Hunter has this reputation among his colleagues, and some journalists. While he does tend to play loose with the rules, he does not show the disregard for life and property that tends to be a sign of a true cowboy cop. In addition, many of Hunter's colleagues actually support him for his actions, while completely disdaining Captain Cain for being too much of a stick in the mud regarding police protocol.
  • Da Chief:
    • Hunter's captains in the first season, Captain Lester Cain and Captain Dolan have a very adversarial relationship with him. Cain especially views him as a dangerous loose cannon and a Cowboy Cop, and frequently threatens to take his badge away. While Dolan is also often frustrated with Hunter and would rather him not be on the streets, he's also a lot more reasonable than Cain was and will work with Hunter.
    • His captains in later seasons, Captain Wyler in season 2 and Captain Charlie Devane in season 3 on, tend to have a more sympathetic attitude to Hunter, with Devane having a very trusting, friendly relationship with Hunter and McCall. Despite frequent irritation over Hunter's insubordination and liberal attitude to the regulations, they tolerate this (up to a limit) because of his good results. They will do their best to keep Hunter in line — with varied success.
  • Deadline News: A non-lethal version happens when Hunter and McCall chase a criminal into a news studio during a live broadcast. Captain Devane is at home watching all this on television. He just shakes his head at the sight of his two detectives looking embarrassed at the camera.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: The episode "Fire Man" features a pyromaniac former Vietnam War soldier who, in order to hide his arsonous activities from the cops, poses as one of his deceased buddies because they looked so similar.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: At the conclusion of "Unfinished Business", DeeDee invites Hunter in for coffee. As viewers now know that this is how a previous romantic liaison started, we're left wondering if it happened again.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Witnesses who try to blackmail the perpetrators in exchange for silence generally doesn't end up well, often with either themselves or their loved ones dead.
    • Sporty James witnesses a group of Colombians killing a pusher, and tries to blackmail them in exchange for silence. The Colombians instead tracks down and kills Sporty's girlfriend, leading to a Heroic BSoD as he tries to hunt down the killers.
    • Hunter's high school classmate recognizes a killer from a newspaper photo, but her greedy husband pressures her not to identify him at a police lineup. The husband then blackmails the killer for a large sum of money, which he pretends to deliver, but kills the husband instead and gets the address of the wife from his corpse.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: The episode "Rape & Revenge" has DeeDee McCall being raped by a South American diplomat who claims immunity when Hunter tries to arrest him — and shoots Hunter just to twist the knife further. Said ambassador assaulted McCall for simply turning down a date, and strangled another woman in an earlier assault. In the following episode, Hunter tracks him down in his native country and kills him in self defense.
  • Dirty Cop: Show up as villains from time to time, in such episodes as "The Snow Queen pts. 1 & 2",note  "The Big Fall" and "Think Blue".
  • Dirty Coward: Both Raul Mariano and Bigfoot, McCall's rapists, when faced with a gun pointing at them, Ain't Too Proud to Beg.
  • Dirty Harriet: In the first season McCall often goes undercover as a streetwalker or callgirl. Downplayed in later seasons, where she goes undercover more seldom, and then usually with more conventional covers, such as a singer (twice).
  • Disconnected by Death: Happens to several associates of the villains who wanted to snitch to hunter.
  • Disney Villain Death: Happens to several villains of week. The villainous psychologist in the pilot episode accidentally jumps off a building when he charges Rick Hunter during a final Rooftop Confrontation. The villain of The Return of Hunter (played by Miguel Ferrer) deliberately jumps to his death after getting what he wanted from Hunter.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In "City of Passion, pt. 3" McCall entraps a Serial Rapist, nicknamed "Bigfoot" to her home for the purpose of killing him, but can't bring herself to do it. The next day, the guy is going to be let out when his wife, whom he frequently abused, arrived at the police station, and realizing people were right about him being a sadistic rapist, takes an officer's gun and shoots him dead.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Used in at least two episodes:
    • In one, a border patrol officer is murdered, and much of the investigation focuses on his cop wife, who he abused, or her partner, who knew about the abuse and was in love with her, as the possible suspects. Turned out to be the owner of a garment warehouse who was using illegal immigrants for labor, who had been interviewed for maybe, two minutes and didn't appear again until the end.
    • A woman who owned a museum is murdered and four Indian tribal masks in her possession are stolen. The investigation reveals they were stolen by a Native American guy who was her lover, and he also has a wife who aware of the affair. It was actually an archaeologist friend of the victim, who only appeared for a few minutes at the beginning of the episode, prior to the The Reveal.
  • Don't Answer That: It's Rick Hunter who does this despite being a Cowboy Cop, in an episode involving a Vigilante Man who killed a gangster who raped his wife. The man is just about to confess when Hunter says "Stop!", and then advises him of his right to contact a lawyer — who just happens to be a skilled Amoral Attorney who's frustrated Hunter in the past. Of course, a police officer advising a suspect to contact a particular lawyer would be illegal, as said lawyer points out.
  • Downer Ending:
    • "Rich Girl", with its Alas, Poor Villain ending.
    • "Crime of Passion" has a woman killed and her estranged husband (played by Ray Wise) being the prime suspect. Turns out the real killer is a Hollywood director's wife whose young child actress daughter confided in the victim to being sexually abused by her husband, and the wife wanted to cover it up (and demanded that her own daughter allow it) to maintain their affluent lifestyle. Even Hunter's eyes wells up while the poor girl sobbingly tells McCall her story.
    • "Last Run" has a Cowboy Cop searching for his missing female partner who was undercover. By the time he finds her she is already tortured to death. Against Hunter's advise, the cop kills the handcuffed drug lord in retaliation before turning the gun on himself, resulting in Hunter throwing his gun at a window in disgust.
  • Dress Hits Floor: There is an episode where a rich woman is robbed by some criminal finds him and bargains for return of some jewelry piece. When the robber suggests she is "wired", she drops her clothes to the floor to prove she is not. This leads to Karmic Death of said robber, at the hands of the woman's jealous husband who wrongly assumes she's having an affair — she is, but not with the burglar.
  • Driven by Envy: In season 1 there's an episode where a guy on a bike goes around killing cops in Quick Draw-style shootouts. There is a Wild West arcade game in his favorite bar where he's routinely the best, and he goes after people who beat his high score. Rick Hunter deliberately scores higher on the machine precisely because he knows it will draw out the cop killer.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Season 1 episodes tend to be more gritty and mostly set in the less savory parts of Los Angeles, plays up Hunter and McCall's conflicts with their superiors (one of whom is Captain Dolan played by John Amos before he was Put on a Bus), and contains an ongoing subplot about Hunter's familial connections with the mob. It also uses more licensed music every episode.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Car chases often end with one car catching fire and/or exploding.
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • Raul Mariano, cultural attache of a Banana Republic, rapes McCall for daring to turn down a date with him.
    • Iris Smith, the Serial Killer antagonist of the "City Under Siege" three-parter, murders a school teacher because she gave her detention when she was young.
  • External Combustion:
    • In the third-season episode "Overnight Sensation", this happens to a journalist who is investigating Hunter, convinced that Hunter is a dirty Cowboy Cop dealing out vigilante justice. The real culprit uses this to frame Hunter for the murder.
    • A journalist writing a story on the mob is apparently blown up in his car. Later his wife is shocked to find him turn up at their home in the middle of the night; when she asks who was in the car he replies: "The unluckiest car thief who never lived."
    • Another episode has the bomber using "someone else starts the car" to his advantage. He wants to kill his wife, so he leaves his car in the driveway so that she will have to move his car to get hers out, activating the car bomb that was supposedly left for him.
  • The Fagin: The antagonist of the episode appropriately named "Fagin 1986".
  • Fair Cop: McCall. Her good looks not only make her a suitable Dirty Harriet, but also attract romantic attention from both desirable and undesirable quarters.
  • Faked Kidnapping: In one episode, a rich man's wife is kidnapped by a masked robber. Turns out it's organized by the butler (played by Brent Spiner) who is cheating with the wife.
  • Fanservice: Very mild by today's standard (this show is, after all, a decade older than NYPD Blue): there is no nudity and even sex scenes tend to be of the fully clothed variety, but there are still some instances.
    • McCall's good looks are always prominently featured, and though she dresses professionally at work, she frequently wears tight tops and short skirts.
    • There are some scenes with McCall in sleepwear or taking a bath.
    • Hunter has many ShirtlessScenes, has plenty of attractive female contacts and girlfriends, and is not above sleeping with female suspects and witnesses to solve the case.
    • Many scenes involve streetwalkers or showgirls in more or less stripperiffic clothing. The trope is usually averted, however, when McCall goes undercover as a streetwalker: with the exception of a few early episodes she tends to cover up a lot more than her supposed "colleagues" (which makes sense for the plot, as she's there to collect information, not to seduce anyone).
    • Two of the most daring examples from the first season are shown in the opening credits: DeeDee fighting in a backless top and tight pants, and her aiming her gun out of a foam bath, with bubbles acting as convenient Scenery Censors.
    • As the series faced increasing competition from Miami Vice, there was a noticeable increase in Fanservice Extras.
  • Fire-Breathing Weapon: There's an episode where a Pyromaniac villain uses a flamethrower to commit arson as well as burning the occasional Innocent Bystander. Naturally the song played during the teaser is "Burning Down the House".
  • First-Name Basis: Hunter and McCall have this dynamic with Captain Devane due to all three having a very trusting, friendly relationship with each other.
  • 555: Pretty much all phone numbers in the series start with 555.
  • Follow That Car: Detective DeeDee McCall does this in an episode, with the grizzled cab driver replying "I've been waiting twenty years for someone to say that!"
  • Freudian Excuse: While most of the villains on the show are motivated by either Greed or For the Evulz, there are a few culprits that have sad backstories or mental problems that caused their actions, such as one of the killers in "Fatal Obsession" and "Kill Zone."
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Detective DeeDee McCall has several stuffed animals in her bedroom, as noted by her new partner Rick Hunter. She counters that despite being an Action Girl, she's still a woman inside.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Before interrogating someone, DeeDee McCall (a short Fair Cop) insists that she be allowed to play "bad cop" despite Hunter's (tall, middle-aged) claims that he's usually the "bad cop" in these situations for a reason. The perp immediately sees through the act and tells them to get lost, so she upgrades to breaking in his door and threatening him with a baseball bat.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Hunter does this to the Dirty Cop in "The Big Fall" to make him confess to the killing, although the dirty cop only ended up there because he clumsily tried to escape.
  • I Made Copies: A blackmail victim pays a man for photographs of a homosexual affair, then asks if the blackmailer made copies. The blackmailer just smirks and says that if his friends call with another demand, he'll know they made copies. Unsurprisingly the victim decides to take the chance of shooting him on the spot, in the belief the blackmailer is working alone.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: In the season 3 episode "Down and Under", Hunter stops an aircraft from taking off by firing a rifle through the window of a car going down a bumpy dirt road parallel to the runway, and taking out the plane's engine without hurting the pilot or passengers.
  • The Informant: Arnold "Sporty" James (played by Garrett Morris). In a subversion of this trope, however, Hunter and McCall see him as a valued friend.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: Hunter finds himself being audited by a visiting IRS accountant (played by James Cromwell) who is quite annoyed by Hunter's habit of paying police informants out of his own pocket and falsely declaring it as business expenses. Captain Dolan is initially amused by this, but quickly becomes a target of the accountant himself. Hunter even calls the accountant "a bloodsucking vampire" and keeps to the streets to avoid the guy.
  • Intrepid Reporter: In "Saturday Night Special", a journalist is being stalked by a Serial Killer after investigating the murders of several homeless people. Subverted when it was later reveal that the said journalist herself committed the murders.
  • I Work Alone: This is why Hunter and DeeDee team up in the first place. Captain Cain demands that Hunter work with a partner to keep his Cowboy Cop tendencies under control, so Hunter makes a deal with DeeDee (whom he already knows, but apparently hasn't been partnered with before) to pretend to be his partner while they work their separate cases. However Cain quickly gets wise to this trick and threatens to call them on the radio and if they both can't answer to show they're working together ("In the car, or in the can"), Hunter will be in trouble. However our heroes quickly find they like working together anyway.
  • Land Down Under: Downplayed in the season 3 episode "Down and Under" where Hunter goes to Sydney, Australia, in search of a murderer. Apart from a few establishing city shots, most of the episode takes place indoors or in generic back streets. Only in the last ten minutes of the episode, where Hunter goes outdoors in the Outback together with the local constable, does the trope come into play.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In one episode, a journalist survives an assassination attempt and began blackmailing his attempted killers, using his wife as bait while he flees with the money. His wife, after realizing how little he care about her safety and well-being, switches the bags at the last minute and flees to Mexico, leaving the journalist with nothing but a bunch of phone books in his bag.
  • Locked Room Mystery:
    • "Night on Bald Mountain", where Hunter and McCall are trapped in a mansion with murder suspects during a heavy snowstorm.
    • "Murder He Wrote", where Hunter and McCall are invited to a dinner party by an eccentric millionaire and a Jessica Fletcher expy, which escalates into a murder investigation after the said millionaire is found dead.
  • Long-Lost Relative: In a later episode, Hunter discovers a teenage murder suspect is his son, from a woman he was in a relationship with during the Vietnam War.
  • Mad Bomber: A season 2 villain uses mail bombs to target those who helped lock him away previously, including Hunter.
  • Master of Unlocking: DeeDee McCall is adept at picking locks. She and Hunter often gain entry to the homes of suspects or missing persons this way, which is especially convenient when they can't call a locksmith because they don't have a search warrant.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Happens in several episodes, especially the three-part "City of Passion" where a judge arrested for soliciting prostitutes led to the discovery that he was involved in a satanic cult practicing human sacrifice.
  • Name of Cain: Captain Cain, Rick Hunter's exasperated superior early in season 1. While not an overt antagonist as he's just doing his job trying to rein in Hunter's maverick tendencies, he's a pretty venal example of the "obstructive chief" since he's far more concerned with maintaining the appearance of an orderly department than protecting his officers. Cain returns to the department in season 4, only to resign in disgrace after trying to get his officers to drop a solicitation charge on a prominent judge as a political favor.
  • Never the Obvious Suspect:
    • The show usually plays this straight. In the episode "True Confessions", though, there is a Bait-and-Switch. A girl dies during a drug-fuelled party, with the culprits let off on a technicality due to one of them confessing without being read their Miranda Rights. When they are shot one by one, the victim's sister is the obvious suspect. Then it looks like a Corrupt Corporate Executive has a motive, and she's being framed as a patsy. Nope, it was the sister all along.
    • Turns out the apparent villains of the episode "Heir of Neglect" did not shoot the parents of a young boy, even though the father was blackmailing them, and the crime was actually committed by the said boy in retaliation for parental abuse.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • Also overlaps with Trailers Always Spoil, as the "tonight, on Hunter" segments that aired before every episode (expect for the last season) would either spoil things that happened in the show, or deceive you to think something was happening that didn't.
    • Perhaps one of the most blatant of the examples is from "Change Partners and Dance", where Hunter is seen telling McCall "this partnership is over." He does say that in the episode, and McCall initially believes him, but it is a ruse; Captain Devane has temporarily partnered Hunter with another cop who is under investigation for doing assassination work for the mob.
  • No Warrant? No Problem!: Hunter and McCall often bypass requests for warrants by either employing lockpicking skills or suggesting to the associates that they'd look into their own police records, in addition to the suspect's.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: McCall is fond of doing this in her undercover work, as is the Columbo expy Sergeant Kitty O'Hearn.
  • Off on a Technicality: A group of teens spontaneously confess to accidentally killing a girl at a party, before the cops even had a chance to read them their Miranda Rights, so the confession supposedly becomes inadmissible. This sparks a vigilante-kills-the-killers plot. In Real Life, the technicality wouldn't have applied in the case of a spontaneous confession, and even if it did, the police could investigate to find other evidence that would support the case.
  • One Thing Led to Another: An ex-girlfriend describes to Dee Dee McCall how she once got involved with Hunter by saying, "This lead to this, that lead to that..."
  • Overt Rendezvous: Played for Laughs in an episode where a small-time crook steals a package of drugs from a crime boss, and says he'll sell it back to him. To avoid his inevitable death, the exchange takes place in the foyer of a police station.
  • Police Psychic: In the episode "Second Sight", a psychic man with the apparently ability to predict the killings by a serial killer goes to the police with his predictions. Unsurprisingly he is investigated as a possible suspect.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Hunter and McCall are extremely close, spend a lot of time together outside of work, and though they sometimes date other people, even then they seem to prioritize each other above their current boy/girlfriends. Despite this, their relationship stays non-sexual, apart from a single occasion (which is referenced in the episode "Unfinished Business").
  • Playing Drunk: When DeeDee McCall investigates the trailer of a suspected cop killer parked next to a bar, he comes back earlier than expected so she acts like a drunken patron who just stumbled into the wrong place.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: In the fourth season, Charles Hallahan as Captain Charlie Devane
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: While Hunter does get called on his actions from time to time, it's quite amazing he suffers no punishment for traveling to a foreign nation and killing one of its high-ranking diplomats, albeit in self defense. Yes, the guy was a Jerkass rapist/murderer who hid behind his Diplomatic Impunity, but still.
  • Pyromaniac: A season 1 episode features a villain who uses a flame thrower to set various buildings on fire, with a backstory of burning civilians in the Vietnam War.
  • Psycho for Hire: In the episode "Death Machine", the titular character (played by footballer John Matuszak) is a punk rocker hired by a wealthy man to track down his stolen jewellery. His investigative method is simply tracking down known fencers of stolen jewellery, and torture them to death.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Dr. Bolin from the pilot episode, who is hired by Captain Cain to make psychological assessments of all his officers, in particular Hunter himself so Cain has grounds to fire him for being "unstable". It later turns out that Dr. Bolin is a Serial Killer who is being treated by another therapist for sociopathy. In fact, he specifically picks out women because they resemble his therapist.
  • Put on a Bus: Several of Hunter's police superiors throughout the series, including Captains Cain, Dolan, and Wyler. Captain Devane remained for the rest of the series.
  • Quick Draw: The brother of a man who Hunter has killed turns up for revenge. He's a fan of Westerns so he kidnaps Hunter and says he will duel him for his life. Hunter shoots the gun out of his hand, then repeatedly shoots the pistol as the man keeps grabbing for it. This is despite Hunter having ridiculed the idea of Blasting It Out of Their Hands in a previous episode.
  • Qurac: The fictional country of Baraq, which is under threat by a group called the Students Revolutionary League. The group claimed responsibility for a car bombing but Hunter suspects something else.
  • Racing the Train: An episode has Rick Hunter jump onto a train traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco in order to tail a suspect, with his partner DeeDee McCall having to chase after him by car to provide backup.
  • Rape and Revenge: When McCall is raped by a foreign diplomat, who uses his Diplomatic Impunity to flee the country, Hunter tracks him down in his homeland and ends up killing him.
  • The Rashomon: When they visit a therapist to hash out their differences, they both give very different accounts of an incident that happened several years earlier—McCall recalls Hunter as being completely indifferent when she returned from a trip, virtually ignoring her while chatting happily with his replacement partner, while he remembers her being rather rude to him and the woman in question.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In "On Air", Hunter gives one to the woman he was protecting and dating, a romantic advice dispensing radio host who was being stalked by a crazed fan. Hunter finds out that she blew his cover to get more publicity for herself, and let someone else take the blame. Coupled with Is This Thing On? when instead of listening to Hunter's criticisms she tries to do the same thing to him and ends up deriding her listeners. Not until she finishes does she realize that he's flipped the "On Air" switch.
  • Recycled Premise: The show sure liked doing episodes that were basically "Hunter's old partner/friend/girlfriend gets in trouble/is killed and he takes the case."
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: The DVD and streaming episodes removed several licensed songs and replaced them with more generic ones. The German DVD sets retained the original music.
  • Retcon: In the third season, the murder of Dee Dee's husband Steve is revealed to be the result of a case he was working on, contradicting the first season where he is said to have been killed by some punk kids during a routine traffic stop. Steve is also changed from a rookie cop into a seasoned homicide detective.
  • Retool:
    • The first was during the second season, when Roy Huggins became the executive producer. Among other things, Huggins toned down the violence, softened up Hunter and McCall's fractious relationships with their superiors, dropped a backstory concerning Hunter's family ties to the mob, played up the chemistry between the two leads, and moved the setting out of the backstreets and into the more desirable areas of Los Angeles. In a case of Tropes Are Tools, these changes helped the show fare better ratings-wise and with critics. Cannell himself also praised Huggins's work on the show.
    • Following the departure of Roy Huggins as executive producer in season four, seasons five and six saw more complex stories for episodes, with Hunter and McCall working on separate cases and come together at the end. The theme tune was also jazzed up.
    • After McCall was written off the show due to Stepfanie Kramer's departure, season seven saw Hunter and Devane moving from LAPD Homicide to Metro. As a result, the stories became more gritty while the show's action budget was reduced, together with a new intro and moodier lighting.
  • Revival: The original series ran from 1984 to 1991, plus a couple of Made-for-TV movies in the 1990s. There was also a very shortlived revival in 2003 starring an older Hunter and McCall that was Cut Short after only five episodes.
  • Right-Wing Militia Fanatic: In one episode, Hunter and McCall are captured by a White supremacist militia and has to figure out a way of escape, along with the leader's daughter who defected.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: In one episode, Theresa Saldana plays a character who is being stalked by a crazed fan. Saldana herself was the victim in an infamous stalking case.
  • Robbing the Mob Bank:
    • A not very smart crook steals cocaine from a courier, and then tries to sell it to the courier's employer, who finds it very interesting that he's being sold the exact amount of coke that's just been stolen from him...
    • In another episode, a couple steals money from a sleazy businessman who employs a Psycho for Hire to get it back. The latter kills so many people while looking for them, the terrified thieves mail the valuables back with a note attached saying We're sorry.
    • A drug addicted teen accidentally kills a dealer and steals his drug money, earning the wrath of the drug lord who sends a hitman after him. The teen eventually realizes that he went way over his head, and calls the drug lord to return the money, only to be murdered anyway...by the hitman who wants to keep the money for himself.
  • Running Gag:
    • The CB Radio handset getting disconnected in Hunter's Alleged Car.
    • McCall being unable to open the side door of the Alleged Car and having to crawl out the window.
    • The mortician Carlos who practices his tuba hobby at work, often when Hunter and McCall are trying to visit.
  • Serial-Killer Killer:
    • A parole officer in season 1 (played Ed O'Neill) hunts down and kills parolees who committed serious crimes such as murder, as well as one of his colleagues trying to expose him.
    • In his last appearance, Lieutenant Ambrose Finn becomes this in grief after his wife lay dying of a terminal illness, killing criminals he felt escaped the justice system.
  • Serial Rapist: "Bigfoot", who targets single women with new houses, due to the fact that he works for a real estate company with spare keys to their houses.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: When Stepfanie Kramer left the show in 1990 after six years as Sgt. Hunter's partner/sidekick Dee Dee McCall, her character was replaced by Officer Joanne Molenski, who quickly became Hunter's new beat partner. However, actress Darlanne Fluegel was unable to get along with series star Fred Dryer or others on the show's staff, and she soon resigned less than three months into the 1990-1991 season. It was decided the new girl — Molenski — would be murdered by a Serial Killer.
  • Shooting Gallery: An episode where Hunter and McCall are investigating a mad sniper shooting women has them going to an army range, where they naturally encounter both the standard Red Herring suspect, who shoots all targets innocent or guilty with great enthusiasm, and his older sergeant who is the real killer. At the end Hunter chases the killer onto the range and activates the targets. The killer reacts to the first couple of targets, so when Hunter appears his reactions are lax enough that he gets shot.
  • Show Within a Show: Street Heat. Hunter and McCall are sent to be technical advisers on the show, only to be dragged into a homicide case when the main star of the show is unexpectedly murdered.
  • Stock Unsolved Mysteries: The episode "The Black Dahlia" has Hunter and McCall investigate new leads in the famous unsolved 1947 murder known by that name.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: An Intrepid Reporter called Raul Marcado continues to butt heads with Hunter in the episode "Overnight Sensation", and even accuses Hunter of trying to stalk him. After Hunter catches the culprits who tried to kill Marcado, the reporter appears to reconcile with Hunter, only to be blown up in a car bomb. Turns out the culprit is the station manager seeking revenge on Marcado for cheating with his wife.
  • Sweater Girl: McCall often wears tight sweaters that show off her figure, though in winter she often wears a jacket on top.
  • That One Case: Sgt. Doyle, Hunter's former mentor, joins him and McCall in the episode "The Black Dahlia" when it appears that a recent murder may be the work of the infamous Black Dahlia killer. That case was the only one Doyle never solved.
  • Theme Serial Killer: Another recurring threat, appearing in episodes such as the three part "City Under Siege", "Lullaby" and the two part "Fatal Obsession" (a.k.a. the one where Molenski gets killed).
  • They Do: Or rather, they did, once. "Unfinished Business" reveals that Hunter and Dee Dee have once slept together while working as partners.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Rick Hunter is often seen snacking on chili dogs or buying other people one. His partner McCall often protests Rick's cheap tastes.
    • Hunter goes on a health food kick in later seasons and McCall isn't too thrilled about that either.
  • Trashcan Bonfire: A drug dealer is murdered by a Professional Killer, and at the end of the episode Hunter finds the man's fellow dealers commemorating his memory around a burning trashcan. They explain that this was the corner where the deceased made his first drug buy.
  • Undercover Model: In the third-season episode "Double Exposure", McCall goes undercover as a photo model to infiltrate a model agency suspected of foul play. She doesn't even have to Clean Up Nicely: using her natural good looks, she has no problems producing a portfolio that impresses the agency into hiring her on the spot.
  • Unfriendly Fire: Detective Bernie Terwilliger is played up to be so incompetent that during a shoot-out in a hotel hallway, he opens fire on his fellow officers until McCall restrains him.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Hunter and McCall are obviously attracted to each other, and even admit that themselves, but manage to keep their relationship on a professional, Just Friends level, while dating other people. At least, they manage most of the time — one episode reveals that they actually did sleep with each other once.
  • Vapor Wear: In "Overnight Sensation", an investigative TV reporter is depicting Hunter as a dirty cop. When McCall visits the reporter to try to persuade him that he's on the wrong track, she wears a thin, white sweater with her nipples and areolae clearly showing through. Unfortunately, it doesn't help persuade the journalist.
  • Villain of the Week: With the exception of a few double episodes, Rick Hunter and DeeDee McCall will always investigate one case a week involving a criminal who will be either locked up or shot dead by the end of the episode.
  • Villainous Crush: The crazy surveillance expert in season 1 who wants to be together with Hunter, and to that end he tries to kidnap and kill McCall and replace her as his partner.
  • War Hero: Hunter is a veteran of The Vietnam War, and regularly meet up with his former comrades.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Sometimes Hunter manages (by audacity, oversight or sheer luck) to requisition a new car from the department, rather than the Alleged Car he will usually be given. The people in charge of the car pool will invariably be very upset about serial wrecker Hunter getting his hands on a pristine vehicle, and there is a lot of angst over in which shape he'll return it. Of course, the car is totaled or at least severely damaged during the episode. This leads to another show of angst and anger when the car is returned.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • After leaving the show at the end of season 6 to be married, McCall returns in the 2002 special Hunter: Return to Justice, where she is married to a new husband, with zero mentions of the previous one.
    • Hunter's de facto relationship with Chris Novak is not mentioned in the 1995 special The Return of Hunter, as he started a relationship with another woman. Hunter's half-Vietnamese son is not mentioned again after his sole appearance.
  • White Sheep: Hunter comes from a Mob family but has chosen to join the police. He sometimes uses his connections to get information from his relatives, who also try to use him to get inside police information (which he doesn't allow). This only happens in the first season, and Hunter's mob background is never mentioned in later seasons.
  • Witless Protection Program: In "The Big Fall", the other team of detectives guarding a murder witness is comprised of a corrupt cop and an alcoholic. Hunter suspects that something bad is going to happen, and it does. [spoiler=The witness winds up taking a fatal fall from the hotel balcony].
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: In the episode "Sniper", an army Sergeant goes on a shooting spree with a Sniper Rifle to kill random women in public parks who remind him of his ex-wife. When a young boy runs into him in the process of chasing after a football while he's scoping out his next target, he tells the kid to take a hike. This backfires when the boy alerts a police officer and the sniper has to flee the scene.
  • You're Not My Type:
    • A Bounty Hunter shows an interest in Hunter's partner Dee Dee McCall. Hunter tells him curtly, "She's not your type." The bounty hunter smirks and says they're all his type.
    • Pretty much repeated a few episodes later by Dirty Cop Jackie Molinas.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me:
    • A pimp says this to DeeDee McCall in the premiere episode. It's no surprise he turns out to be wrong.
    • In the second episode McCall's old partner, who has become a hitman after getting fired from the force, says this to her when she tries to arrest him. He's right in this instance, and almost kills McCall before Hunter intervenes.

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