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Series / Inspector Rex

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What's that, Rex? Timmy fell down the well?

Kommissar Rex, known as Inspector Rex in English-speaking countries, is an Austrian live-action police detective series. The title character, Rex, is a highly-trained German Shepherd dog who works with a team of homicide detectives in the Austrian Kriminalpolizei, initially led by detective Richard Moser (Tobias Moretti).

The series originally ran from 1994 to 2004. In 2008 it was revived as an Italian co-production, with Rex being adopted by a visiting Italian policeman and going to live in Rome. Those Italian seasons lasted until 2015. It also produced a short-lived spinoff, Stockinger, in which Richard Moser's first sidekick is transferred to Salzburg.

Tropes pertaining to Hudson and Rex, a Canadian adaptation, may be found on its own page.


Inspector Rex provides examples of:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: Kurt Hauff in "Moser's Death". Even if he killed Moser you can see he feels some kind of genuine remorse for what he has just done. There's also the way he looks Rex in the eyes before being Driven to Suicide.
  • Angry Chef: Mick Konrad is established as one early on in "Murder à la carte"
  • All Part of the Show: In one episode, the villain plans to invoke this trope by replacing a prop knife in a play with the real thing.
  • Amicable Exes: "La Casa degli Spiriti" shows an ex girlfriend of Davide who gets along very well with him.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Rex is a brilliant detective and a cunning dog.
  • Back for the Finale: Filippo Gori returns in the last chapter.
  • Badass Adorable: Rex is repeatedly seen as a cute dog in and out-of-universe, but is a cunning dog who has outsmarted many antagonists.
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  • Badass Beard: Marco Terzani eventually grows a short beard, although he has always had facial hair. Some police officers in both Vienna and Rome sport beards.
  • Bookends: Lorenzo Fabbri's seasons begin with his right hand being transferred and Morini starting to fill that hole. At one of Fabbri's last chapters, Morini goes to Milan and gets replaced by Monterosso.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: The series has three bragging songs about the titular Heroic Dog. "A Good Friend" from the Austrian series comments that Rex is a very reliable dog. "My Friend Rex" (Italian series) also calls Rex a reliable friend who helps the police. "My Name is Rex" has Rex "sing" how he is a great detective.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Kunz reappears alongside Dr. Graf in "L'ultima partita" after Rex's departure to Rome. When Rex alongside Terzani and Monterosso go to a new base, Filippo Gori returns to be a temporary Da Chief to replace Fiori.
    • Giorgio Gaiba was not seen for a long time since Fabbri and Morini were written out. He is last seen telling Davide Rivera and Filippo Gori the results of an autopsy and is never seen again since.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Chief Filippo Gori admires Lorenzo Fabbri and his successor Davide Rivera for being skillful policemen but hates their willingness to bypass the law.
  • Canine Companion: Rex; the tale of a crime-solving police dog and its owner.
  • Cigar Chomper: Dr. Graf, the main forensic doctor of the Kriminalpolizei has even been bribed with a cigar by Moser to work harder.
  • Converted Fanboy: Gori becomes more accepting of dogs as the series passes, and even adopts one.
  • Chekhov's Skill: If Rex demonstrates a new trick at the beginning of an episode, you can bet it will come in handy later on.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In a few occasions, Rex has switched masters without explanation because the former occupant of that role disappears without justification. This happens to Brandtner, Hoffmann and Rivera. There is no explanation to why Rex became a dog without owner when the series becomes Italian. This also happened to some sidekicks. Christian Böck is written out to give the slot to Niki Herzog, who herself disappears in the last chapters despite her actress Elke Winkens being on the opening credits. Tomasso Bizzarri and Maddalena de Luca also disappeared.
  • Connect the Deaths: One episode features a satanic cult that murders women and leaves their bodies so that they form a giant pentagram.
  • Continuity Nod: Some elements from Moser's time were reminded while Fabbri was Rex's master, namely, that Moser called Rex "champion" and that Rex didn't allow Moser to get in a relationship.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: In "Il Lato Oscuro" Gori punishes Monterosso and Bizzarri by forcing them to eat bananas with the peel because they had delayed Gori's squad by putting bananas in the motor.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character:
    • Unlike Moser and Brandtner, who had multiple love interests that don't stick, Hoffmann is only interested in Niki. Hoffmann is less experienced than them and has a lawyer phase.
    • Lorenzo Fabbri is blonde in contrast to the brunettes that predate and subsitute him. He is of mixed descent (Austrian and Italian) unlike the three full-Austrian ones, and the first Italian owner of Rex. Like with Moser, Rex is his Shipping Torpedo, but Moser was never involved with close colleagues. Marc was teased with Niki (a police detective) while Lorenzo was teased with Katia (a forensic scientist).
    • Davide Rivera isn't seen dating any woman unlike the other Rex's owners. He had a romance with a woman, but they now are Amicable Exes. Talking about that, it contrasts with Moser who had come from a far from amicable separation. Another difference is that he is much more poetic and more irascible than the other inspectors. His predecessors lack his Oral Fixation to liquorice.
  • The Coroner:
    • In Vienna, Leo Graf is the elderly forensic doctor who helps the Criminal Police.
    • In the Italian seasons (at least the six earlier ones) Katia Martelli does both chemical studies and forensic medicine. After Fabbri's death, she appears less frequently and other women also take her role. Giorgio Gaiba, who has a similar role to that of Leo Graf, also works in that aspect.
    • In the latest seasons, Giorgio Vettori and Sonia Randalli are the ones who analyze the bodies.
  • Cowboy Cop: The Austrian commissars had shades of this, but the Italian ones are very prone to do things like sneaking illegally on houses, much to Gori's dismay.
  • Da Chief: Averted in the Austrian seasons, but in the Italian seasons there is Filippo Gori, who often scolds his team, especially the main inspectors, and wants the cases to be deemed as closed as soon as possible even if the real murderer has not been discovered. Il the latest seasons, Annamaria Fiori is the police chief of Terzani and Monterosso.
  • Demoted to Extra: After Fabbri's death, Katia appears with less frequency and another women sometimes replace her as The Coroner.
  • Detective Animal: Rex is a skillful dog who has been helpful to solve many crimes.
  • The Doll Episode: Der Puppenmörder/ The Doll Murderer from Season 3.
  • Dying to Be Replaced: This happened to two of Rex's owners, namely Richard Moser and Lorenzo Fabbri. For the other owners, they just disappear as though they have never existed.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • The first time we see Alex, his colleagues are expressing mild annoyance at the fact that more junior officers are letting a piece of evidence drift away in a river. Before even introducing himself, Alex takes off his jacket and jumps into the river to retrieve the evidence, whereas Moser would probably have screamed at the agents until somebody took care of the issue. As you might have guessed, Alex is very dedicated, corageous, sporty and, most notably, lacks Moser's temper.
    • At the beginning of the Italian series, Rex is shown tricking the guard and orchestrating an escape so the newcomers learn that Rex is a smart dog.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: Happens quite often in early installments
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Alfred Nordeck aborts stage 2 of his plan *and* goes out of his way to prevent harm to a little girl in "Mörderisches Spielzeug".
  • Evil Brit: Many a Villain of the Week has a Northern German accent.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Morini starts with a well combed hair, but since he gets a more active role, his hair becomes messy.
  • Fade to White: First, it was used after the ending of "Moser's Death". The Italian seasons used the effect for flashbacks and some scene changes.
  • Fat and Skinny: The sidekicks. First, Stockinger is the skinny and Hollerer is the fat. The former is replaced with Böch when he goes and some time after, the latter is replaced with Kunz. When Nikki comes, it is averted. When Monterosso comes to replace Morini in Rome, he is the fat while the three commisars he knows do the skinny role.
  • Foreshadowing: Stockinger becomes clumsier, which forces him to reveal that he will move to Salzberg.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Excluding Richard Moser, the dead inspectors die to be replaced and are not mentioned ever since. And even Moser is not mentioned that much after his death.
  • Friend to All Children: Whenever a child or children are in a story, Rex earns their heart and gets along with them. In some cases, Rex plays with them at the ending of the episodes.
  • The Ghost: Stockinger's wife was not seen in the series proper; just mentioned by Stockinger. She physically appears on the spinoff Stockinger.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: In "L'ultima partita" Kunz calls Lorenzo and Rex to Vienna because he needs a dog for his case.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: played straight with Koch's pipe and with many small time criminals and their cigarettes. Averted with Frau Krammer's endless stream of fags in Der Neue.
    • Brandtner goes undercover in "Gefährlicher Auftrag". Of course, he smokes a lot of cigarettes.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Moser is quickly established as having a short temper; he sort of mellows out later on, but not entirely: as late as "Moser's Death" Bock half-jokingly suggests to Hollerer that a shrink see Moser instead of the suspect.
    • His Berserk Button early on is his divorce, as Stockinger learned after being chased down a flight of stairs upon mentioning it.
  • Handy Helper: in his first appearance, Brandtner tells Rex he's deaf on his left ear, and that he will depend on Rex covering his left side thereafter.
  • Heroic Dog: Rex is a police dog who often does as much hard policing as the rest of his team put together.
  • Heroic Dolphin: In "Morte tra i delfini", one of the dolphins takes the gun from the murderer.
  • Heroic Pet Story: This series about a cop-canine partnership combines the the Heroic Pet Story and Buddy Cop Show genres, as the titular canine cop fights crime with his human handler.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: The police detectives are intelligent on their own, but Rex figures things quicker and is the most able to arrest individuals.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: In the episode "Snapshot", a young boy interested in becoming a photographer comes with his girlfriend to a damaged building. The case is that they bring a pistol to the scene, which they wrongly believe to be unusable. When the young boy is indicating her how to shoot, he accidentally shoots a tramp. The tramp was a former boxer who wasted his money and the pistol was from a criminal band. The girl's father turns out to be a member of that criminal band.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: in "Gefährlicher Auftrag", complete with blinkenlights.
  • Introduction by Hookup: Marc Hoffman and Nikki Herzog have a one-night stand the morning before they start their new jobs. The next morning, they not only discover that they are both police officers, but they are now partners.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: Rex often brings a lighthearted and fun trait to the series.
  • Kidnapped Scientist: In one case, a scientist is held captive by the villain so he builds a device.
  • Lampshade Hanging: in "Mörderisches Spielzeug" Herr Horn points out that the methods used by the killer in Nordek's are absurd and unbelievable. Of course Nordek uses them in real life.
  • Last-Name Basis: Policemen often refer to each other by their surnames, and sometimes use nicknames that shorten them. It's more apparent with sidekicks.
  • Leitmotif: Davide Rivera has the song "Angel on your shoulder", which was sung while he was befriending Rex.
  • Long-Runner Cast Turnover: There have been a lot of changes on all the police teams on the series. The first one has been since Stockinger left to do his own series and was replaced by Christian Böck, who had Chuck Cunningham Syndrome to leave the slot to Niki Herzog. Peter Höllerer retires to care after his ailing mother and gets replaced by Fritz Kunz. Moser dies, Brandtner disappears and it is unknown what happened to Hoffmann note . Barring Rex, Leo Graf was the only Regular Character who was constant in the Austrian series. Then the series moves to Italy; Hoffmann's role in Vienna is taken by Erika Hedl and in Italy, the commissar is Lorenzo Fabbri. The latter dies and is replaced by Davide Rivera, who disappeared without reason and is replaced again by Marco Terzani. Morini moved to Milan in secret from Lorenzo and is replaced by Monterosso; Tommaso Bizzarri is almost exclusive to Davide Rivera's tenure. Rex goes to Merano to solve a cast with its own team and then he, Terzani and Monterosso work at a new base and characters other than Gori are written off entirely.
  • Long Bus Trip: Most characters that have departed from the teams haven't returned ever since, not even once.
  • Luck-Based Search Technique: In "Il Grigio", Bizarri finds a spying device when he falls over with the chair. That spying device was used to be ahead of the detectives.
  • Mad Artist: An episode has a photographer who wants to take a perfect picture of death. He murders women to take photos of their corpses.
  • Mood Dissonance: It's got cheesy theme music, a cute dog acting human, chocolate-box Vienna locations: everything points to a fun family show. And then you realise you're watching a plot about kids being kidnapped from the fair and forced to make child porn... This changes in the Italian seasons, which begin with shots making the shape of a dog footprint and while the series still is a dramedy for a long time, the two later seasons of Terzani's tenure are serious.
  • Mood Whiplash: For a show that on one level is tonally very much akin to a cute, kid-friendly "heroic animal" show like Skippy or Lassie, complete with delightfully corny humour and sometimes implausibly anthropomorphised behaviour by Rex, on the other hand the crimes they investigate are generally murders, and can be quite horrific in nature, not to mention occasionally featuring full frontal nudity.
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • One episode has Brandtner stripping down to his underwear so show he has no concealed weapons. When asked how he feels about being so exposed, he replies "...Sexy".
    • Moser goes skinny dipping in "Ein mörderischer Sommer".
    • Lorenzo Fabbri, who could perform an arrest in a Modesty Towel and changed his shirt in a scene.
    • Marco Terzani has a few shirtless appearances and is somewhat muscular. His shape of beard/stubble style may help. Francesco Arca, his actor, used to be a model.
  • Murder-Suicide: The killer of Moser's death shoots himself after fatally shooting Moser.
  • Nobody Touches the Hair: Played for Drama; molested children in an orphanage freak out when their hair is being touched.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Rex is a canine sidekick for the police while solving crimes, although much of the time it's more like Rex has human sidekicks.
  • Once an Episode: At least one joke involving ham rolls.
  • Old Hero, New Pals: After Rex moves to Rome, he works under a different team. He and Lorenzo do a travel to Vienna and meet Kunz and Dr. Graf. It happens again when Rex and his master Marco Terzani are transferred; Monterosso goes with them and Gori does two visits to the new base, but Rex and Terzani have a new cast of colleages.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Moser has a very High German (theatre) accent when alone, but when speaking to other humans or swearing he slips into Viennese. He is supposed to be Viennese so this is more a case of his accent slipping when he is alone.
  • Oral Fixation: Davide Rivera has the habit of chewing liquorice sticks. More often than not he is with one of those in his mouth.
  • Protagonist Title: The series is named after Rex, its protagonist.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: It is a very common situation at the climaxes. The captor threatens the inspectors to kill the victim if they do not put down their pistols in the floor and move said weapons away from them. More often than not Rex catches the captors from behind.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Stockinger departed to Salzberg, to go to his own spinoff.
    • Peter Höllerer departs to care for his ailing mother, although the team promises to keep in contact with him. Not that it ever happens onscreen.
    • After Rex is taken to Italy, Kunz and other Austrian characters stop appearing for obvious reasons. Kunz and Graf reappear for a special episode.
    • Morini was secretly planning to transfer to Milan to send her mother to a delicate medical procedure that could only be done there. His pet fish oviously goes with him.
    • Katia no longer appears after Terzani is sent to another district. Gori becomes less prominent as well.
  • Racial Face Blindness: The "Asians look alike" stereotype is present in the chapter "Ombre cinesi" (Chinese shadows). A bus driver who helped Shu Lin to escape from the villain tells Morini that all Chinese are similar, but the girl [Shu Lin] is beautiful. Fabbri is not content with that notion.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Erika Hedl was not visible in the Austrian series, but she can talk about cases she solved alongside Richard Moser, the first commisar in the series.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: When the series becomes Italian, "A Good Friend" is replaced by "My Friend Rex" and "My Name is Rex".
  • Rescue Romance: In "Gelosia", Terzani saves Josephina from shootings. They fall in love and have sex in the night of that day. She exploits that relationship to help his brother to escape.
  • Revisiting the Roots: In one episode, Fabbri and Rex are summoned to Italy back to Austria to solve a case.
  • Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: "Mörderisches Spielzeug" features a literal Rube Goldberg Device.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: In a brochure for Rex: Special Unit, there is a shoulders-up image of a shirtless Marco Terzani pointing with his pistol.
  • Seppuku: The victim of the chapter "Affari di famiglia", Count Alfonso Borromini, seemingly used this to commit suicide, but Morini discovers that the method was incorrectly done. Fabbri concludes it was a murder.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: Inspector Rex was an Austrian series, but when it was revived in 2008, the setting of the majority of cases was Rome.
  • Shipping Torpedo: Rex has often vetoed romances of his owners, especially Moser and Lorenzo. Rex has been willing to do anything to avoid the relationship. If this does not happen, Rex gets angry and destructive. In "Gelosia", Rex gets angry that Terzani had sex with Josephina and it is thought that it is just his protective attitude. It turns out Josephina was helping his brother to escape, since he is the murderer.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns:
    • Giandomenico Morini, a funny, childlike character, transfers to Milan and is replaced by Alberto Monterosso, a more serious character, before Fabbri is killed. However, Monterosso would later become more comical and emotional.
    • Tomasso Bizzarri was also a comedic character, but disappears without reason when Marco Terzani appears. Terzani's seasons were mostly devoid of comedy aside from some earlier episodes and Andreas Mitterer's special.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: A murdered businessman was revealed to be a pedophile and was killed by his teenage daughter who he had been abusing for years and had started to move on to her younger brother instead, which caused her to snap. The episode is even called "Finally The Monster Is Dead".
  • Spin-Off: Sidekick Stockinger got his own series after he transfers to Salzburg. It lasted two seasons.
  • Spiritual Successor: To other Heroic Dog tv series, such as Rin Tin Tin and Lassie.
  • Spoiler Title:
    • The last chapter with Stockinger is called "Stockinger's Last Case".
    • Guess who dies in "Moser's Death."
  • Super Window Jump: In the Austrian openings, Rex begins jumping on a window and breaking it.
  • Tarot Motifs: An episode featured a Serial Killer who would "use" a Tarot deck to choose how to kill his victims. "Use" since he would not use any of the cards' actual meaning and instead just interpret them in the most literal way possible: Three of Swords? Stab victim three times. The Tower? Toss the victim off a tall building. The Chariot? Run the victim over. And so on.
  • Taking the Bullet: To save Lorenzo from Barbara Loria, Rex jumps over him and receives the bullet. He gets better.
  • Theme Serial Killer: "Mörderisches Spielzeug"
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ham rolls, for both Moser and Rex, although Rex eats them more rarely as of his move to Italy due to them not being produced there. Later, Davide Rivera is mostly seen chewing a liquorice stick.
  • Team Dad: Filippo Gori is a father figure for the team. He is fond of his team and will compliment his fellow policemen, but will call them out on their Cowboy Cop or annoying tendencies.
  • Temporarily a Villain: In the chapter The Dark Side Rex is drugged with the same elements of a fighting dog so his captors could exploit him for stealing. It turns out that he pretended his madness to avoid being killed.
  • Title Theme Drop: The incidental music during the climax of most of the earlier episodes incorporates the piano motif from the theme song (this is separate from the end credits, which also use the title theme).
  • The Chew Toy:
    • Stockinger has been a laughingstock due to his clumsiness and fear of dogs.
    • Morini's misfortunes in the series are often played for laughs.
    • After Davide Rivera's arrival, Monterosso's incidents and status as a laughingstock become more apparent.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: the Austrian series has a moderate case, evident for example in in "Der maskierte Tod".
  • We Could Have Avoided All This: The killer in one episode was a former high powered executive who was fired and had his career ruined when a female employee framed him for Attempted Rape by going into his office, ripping off her own clothes and screaming. The guy then went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the woman and her co-conspirators. When he's caught, they point out that since he at no point touched the woman, her clothes had no forensic evidence linking it to him and thus if he had simply gone to the police, he could have them all arrested and gone back to his job.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Morini named his goldfish Filippo after his boss Filippo Gori. He tries to hide it, but he is discovered calling his fish Filippo.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • Stockinger is best known for his fear of dogs.
    • In "Der Verlierer", Christian is very, very afraid of heights.
  • Wicked Toymaker: One episode featured an author whose story about a criminal toymaker was rejected by a publishing company, so he used toys to hunt down and destroy the editors who rejected his work, one by one. Much use was made of radio-guided vehicles/aircraft, with simple plunger-triggered bombs on board.
  • Wire Dilemma: Subverted in an episode where the character facing the dilemma takes too long to decide and runs out of time — but his colleague had pulled the detonator out of the explosives. Later played straight with Fabbri, who sucessfully cuts the right wire to deactivate the bomb.


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