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Series / In the Dark

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"Why don't you look blind?"
"Same reason you probably don't look stupid."

In the Dark is a 2019 drama on The CW created by Corinne Kingsbury (Fam). The pilot was directed by Michael Showalter (The Big Sick).

Murphy Mason is a surly, alcoholic, blind woman who lives in Chicago and works for her parents' school for guide dogs. She lost her sight at fourteen and pretty much dislikes everyone except for her vet roommate, Jess, and Tyson, a teenage drug dealer who once saved Murphy from a mugger.

When Murphy goes to meet Tyson one night and finds his dead body, however, she becomes determined to discover who killed him and why. The police aren't much of a help, since the body disappears before they even find it and they only have the word of a drunk, blind woman to go with, but Murphy is determined to solve the case and find out what happened to one of her only friends. With her guide dog Pretzel and a stubborn attitude, she sets out to figure things out.


Not to be confused with Into the Dark (a series of horror films on Hulu), the podcast In the Dark, or a previous TV series from 2017 with the same name.

Tropes included in In the Dark:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: After being fired, Gene tweets out his chief's confession at covering up Dean's crimes. Within hours, the chief is forced to quit and not only is Gene hired back but promoted to fill his spot.
  • The Alcoholic: Murphy. "You'd think blacking out would be easier when you're blind."
  • Alliterative Name: Murphy Mason.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Jess looks like she could be mixed race and or possibly Latina. However, her ethnicity hasn't been commented on.
  • Blind Mistake: Obviously, Murphy will get some amusingly wrong ideas because she can't see things.
    • Played more dramatically as often, Murphy literally cannot see a sign she's in imminent danger when it's right in front of her.
    • It's also the biggest challenge of Murphy trying to solve these mysteries, as she can't observe clues and more than once, makes the mistake of trusting someone who lies to her about them.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Granted, Darnell knew Nia was a ruthless mobster but still thought she had a code. But when she offhand mentions she had Jules murdered as a fake suicide (unaware Jules and Darnell had been a couple), Darnell is obviously rocked hard and realizes what a monster she is. When she reveals she knew about their relationship the whole time, he immediately tries to sell her out to Josiah.
    • Gene gets this as, after spending all of season 2 looking up to Dean as a great cop and mentor, realizing he's a corrupt murderer is hard to take.
  • Brutal Honesty: Murphy does this a lot.
    • In the season 3 finale, Murphy is stunned that, after spending all season trying to find a presumed-dead Jess, she realizes her friend faked her death. When Murphy asks if Jess honestly was okay with Murphy spending her life thinking her dead, her friend replies "pretty much."
  • Butch Lesbian: Sterling, who gets involved with Jess, has boyish short hair and also dresses in a pretty masculine way. Sam, meanwhile, is also revealed as being with her and even more of an example: she's a shaven-headed stone-cold badass female gangster.
  • Canine Companion: For Murphy, it's Pretzel, her guide dog, especially after she loses her cane.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: Jess kills drug kingpin Nia to defend her friends from being murdered. However, she Murphy and Felix then have to flee as the Chicago Police don't know it was justifiable (this also couldn't be proven, since it's only their word and they had ample motive for murder to be rid of Nia).
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Murphy starts masturbating while Max is in the shower, which he comes out to find her doing. They have sex, and when it's over she claims to have been "masturbating with your body".
  • Deadpan Snarker: This is pretty much Murphy's default mode of speech. Murphy's frenemy/co-worker Felix is also pretty snarky and both engage in Snark-to-Snark Combat on a daily basis.
  • Dirty Cop: Dean turns out to be one, having accepted bribes from Nia in return for tips on police efforts against her, and killed Tyson so this wouldn't come out.
  • Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery: Murphy can get away with a lot given her blindness, and she knows it. Overall she's not a jerk, but at times she does take advantage of it.
  • Disability Superpower: Subverted. When the police are interviewing her, Murphy mentions that Tyson's dead body smelled different and one of the detectives says that her senses must be heightened due to being blind. Murphy tells her "I'm not Daredevil" and tells the detective that the reason she knew he smelled different was because she specifically smelled him. It's shown throughout the rest of the episode that her blindness really is a disability and without her cane or guide dog, she can't go anywhere.
  • Disabled Means Helpless: Murphy chides Detective Dean for thinking this about his daughter. She tells him that the best he can do is treat her exactly the same as before she was blinded.
  • Disabled Snarker: Murphy is a nutshell. She's blind and very, very sarcastic, implied to be a coping mechanism when faced with the issues in her life (not just about her disability, but also that).
  • Don't Celebrate Just Yet: The first season ends with Dean arrested and exposed, Murphy ready to move on...then Mia points out her friends have stolen $100,000 and now wants them to launder money for her or die.
  • Driven to Suicide: Dean kills himself rather than go to prison for his crimes.
  • Driving Question: Who killed Tyson and why? Why did they move his body and make people believe he's still alive?
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Murphy loves to drink, especially after she finds her best friend Tyson dead.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Murphy records Dean covertly with her phone when she gets him to confess that he'd murdered Tyson. He finds out and wipes the recording from her phone. It turns out to have already gotten saved on the cloud though.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Ruthless drug dealer Josiah has a wife and two kids he clearly loves, whom the cartel targets along with him for destroying their heroin (so the cops wouldn't find it).
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The only time Pretzel growls is when Murphy finds Tyson's dead body.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Gene and Josh are so busy arguing they don't even notice as Murphy is escaping from the interrogation room.
  • Faking the Dead: Jess did this by switching her identity with a dead woman.
  • Frame-Up: Darnell is framed for murdering Tyson using planted DNA evidence.
  • Gay Best Friend: Jess, who's a lesbian, is Murphy's, along with her housemate.
  • Gayngster: Sam, a fierce, no-nonsense gang enforcer, turns out to be a lesbian.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Murphy and Stirling, two female characters, both have names which are usually last names and thus can fit with someone of any gender.
  • Happily Adopted: It's clear that even though Murphy has trouble with her parents, they still love her very much and don't regret adopting her.
  • Happy Ending Override:
    • A variation. While the first season finale still had Murphy being threatened by Nia, Dean was arrested after Murphy got a confession for his murdering Tyson. The second season has Dean using Loophole Abuse to avoid being arrested and gets his murder covered up by the police while Murphy and her friends are forced to work for Nia or face death.
    • It also happens to Darnell who's freed from jail for Tyson's murder only to find Jules dead in a faked suicide.
  • Hollywood Law: A busted taillight isn't enough to warrant searching a vehicle. While the reason to stop them was faked, Gene already called in the excuse for dispatch, which would make it difficult assuming he'd actually found drugs by his search of the back.
  • Honey Trap: Sterling turns out to be one, as she's got a girlfriend already but gets into a relationship Jess (her girlfriend's actually ordered it) as a spy to insure she and her friends obey the gang's commands.
  • How We Got Here: The second season episodes open with a Flash Forward of Murphy and the gang being involved in another murder then show what led up to it.
  • Ignorance Is Bliss: In the second season premiere, Murphy is ready to tell Chloe how her father is a killer but after talking to the girl, she realizes she can't bring herself to ruin her life like this and keeps it quiet.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Murphy tells Jess and Max to just give the money they stole to the cops and accept protection as "not all cops are bad." She then learns how the cops are going to let Dean skate on killing Tyson as if nothing happens. Murphy races to stop her friends from trusting the cops again.
  • Just in Time: Jess arrived precisely at the right moment to stop Nia murdering Murphy, by shooting her.
  • Lipstick Lesbian:
    • Jess is something of a chapstick lesbian. Her ex-girlfriend Vanessa turned out to be a lipstick bisexual and they split over Jess's anxiety at not being able to please her like a man.
    • Felix's sister Leslie is also a lipstick bisexual, it's revealed.
  • Loophole Abuse: It looks as if Dean is finished after Murphy records a confession on her phone. But in Illinois, a recording without two party consent is not admissible in court. Dean is able to use this to convince his captain that he can stay undercover inside Nia's operation to atone for his actions, meaning, to Murphy's shock, Dean is never even arrested for Tyson's murder.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Jess, who's feminine, and her second girlfriend Sterling, who has very butch looks in comparison.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: After Murphy's threeway with Felix and another woman, all three have the bedsheet covering their chests.
  • Nepotism: Murphy's parents run a school for guide dogs and employ her, even though she doesn't really do anything. Eventually, once the receptionist quits (to be an actor in Hollywood), she's promoted to being the receptionist, even though she really hasn't shown the people skills required. Subverted in that she ends up being quite good at it.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: In the third season premiere, Gene is thrown to realize that the police are still ready to cover up Dean's murders even after his suicide so as not to hurt the department.
  • Never Suicide: Sam habitually makes her hits look like suicides, according to Stirling. Within the show, we see this when she murdered Detective Becker.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Jess goes out to get tampons on the road because she's starting her period.
  • Obfuscating Disability: A unique variation. Murphy truly is blind and often has a hard time getting around because of it. However, she enjoys playing up being far more helpless and unobservant than she really is as part of her schemes, knowing folks will assume her blindness also affects her mental process. A common trick is Murphy acting like she can't go more than five steps without bumping into something when she's far better trained to adjust to her surroundings.
  • Off on a Technicality: After the trouble which Murphy goes to getting Dean's confession recorded on her phone, it can't be used because in Illinois recordings required both parties' consent. On top of all that, the police captain agrees to have the evidence destroyed rather than reveal it so he'd at least be fired and publicly excoriated, as he's still useful plus he would make the guy look bad as his superior.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Max recovers very quickly from being stabbed multiple times in the abdomen (which could be fatal, realistically, or at least very debilitating).
  • Papa Wolf: Josiah kills the men threatening his two kids the first chance he gets.
  • Parents as People: It's clear that even though Murphy's parents are trying their best, they have their own flaws, too.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Felix is easily able to crack his sister's Leslie's phone password..
    Felix: Your own birthday, you narcissist...
  • Really Gets Around: Murphy, before her relationship with Max, appears to have men over for casual sex with a very high frequency.
  • The Reveal: Dean murdered Tyson to cover up the fact he was working for Nia.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Jess and Stirling decide to hit the road, leaving Chicago behind, rather than staying trapped in the drug game.
  • Secretly Wealthy: The gang are all amazed to discover Felix's family is rich and he works at the vet clinic because he likes it.
  • Sex for Solace: Murphy likes having sex, but not romance. Tyson tells her that it's because when she's having sex, she feels just like everyone else "because we all do it with our eyes closed." She doesn't disagree.
  • Shameful Strip: Josiah orders Murphy to strip as proof she's not wired. This means naked, rather than just to her underwear. Felix however just gets a pat down. Murphy does it unhappily.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles", "O Holy Night" plays as Josiah's arcade burns down presumably with Jess still inside.
  • Take Me Instead: Josiah offers himself instead of his wife and kids when they're threatened by cartel hitmen, to no effect.
  • Threeway Sex: In Season 3, Murphy has one with Felix and another woman they meet while on the run, to cover up who they are partly but also as Sex for Solace on Murphy's part.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The commercials aired on the CW before Season 1 only showed Murphy's blind snarkery and comedic beats with other characters, disguising it as a straight comedy and completely hiding the thriller and mystery elements of the show.
  • Twofer Token Minority:
    • Murphy is a blind woman and the protagonist.
    • Jess, her friend and housemate, is a lesbian who's Ambiguously Brown.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Gene is ordered to do this and fired when he lets Murphy escape from underneath his nose.
  • Wall Bang Her: Murphy has sex with Max up against a tree in the woods at one point.
  • Wham Shot: The season 3 finale has Murphy in jail when Sam sits next to her with a smug "hello."