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"Hey, Tubbs, you ever consider a career in Southern law enforcement?"
[chuckles] "Maybe. Maybe..."
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Miami Vice is a crime drama Buddy Cop Show which ran on NBC from 1984-1989. Created by former Hill Street Blues writer and producer Anthony Yerkovich, the series drew much of its premise from real-life laws allowing property seized from drug dealers to be used in drug enforcement. In other words, if a drug dealer has a Cool Car or Cool Boat, and that drug dealer is jailed, the police can use his stuff. These laws gave the producers a perfectly valid excuse for putting their public-servant characters in Ferraris and Armani suits.

The series stars Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as James "Sonny" Crockett and Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs, two pastel-colored officers of Miami-Dade PD's vice squad, as they chase down drug lords, pimps, renegade FBI agents, weapon smugglers, militia members, and other badly-dressed criminals whose downfall is to be ignorant of Miami's worst-kept secret: psst, these two are actually cops.

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Crockett's the muscle, a former wide receiver with a personality not unlike his namesake (he even owns an alligator). Tubbs is a New York transplant who arrives in Miami to avenge his brother's murder; he specializes in... well, posing as an out-of-towner and getting it on with a parade of beautiful ladies. Together, They Fight Crime!.

The series was notable for its use of contemporary popular music, and for being one of the first shows regularly broadcast in stereo. By design, the show often resembled a music video rather than a standard Police Procedural. Extended musical sequences were common, often featuring little or no dialogue and numerous images of cars, boats, guns, nightlife, and scenery. The show was filmed on location in Miami, and made use of a distinctive color palette, mostly white and pastels.

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Miami Vice was one of the most influential (perhaps the most influential) TV series of all times when it comes to style and fashion. Crockett's white-suit-over-t-shirt style, Perma-Stubble, and Ray-Ban sunglasses all became fashion trends. His lack of socks did not. Even in the 2010's many people's ideas of the 80's come straight from the series (which explains why many people tend to have a rather exaggerated idea of the period — not everybody dressed like the pimps and drug dealers of the series).

A film of the series was released in 2006 starring Colin Farrell as Crockett and Jamie Foxx as Tubbs.


Miami Vice features examples of:

  • The '80s: A major Trope Codifier. The show defined many tropes - music, fashion, attitudes - that people link to that decade to this day.
  • '80s Hair: Most of the women who appeared on the show, notably guest star Pam Grier as seen in this photo. The men would also have distinctive 80's hair styles, up to and including the Mullet.
  • AM/FM Characterization: In the pilot, Tubbs looks through Crockett's music collection and finds George Jones, Jimmy Buffett, Dickey Betts, and Waylon Jennings.
    Tubbs: Where does Crockett get his music? Sears and Roebuck catalog?
  • Abandoned Warehouse: The site of many meetings, murders, and shootouts. Of particular note is an abandoned hangar that appears as the site of a weapons demonstration in "Evan," a double execution in "Phil the Shill," a secret lab in "Missing Hours," and a drug deal in "To Have and to Hold" before finally getting blown up in Bad Boys in 1995.
  • Absentee Actor: Tubbs is absent from season one's "The Home Invaders", as Phillip Michael Thomas was injured doing a stunt in "The Maze".
  • Abusive Parents: It's suggested in some episodes that Crockett's father was an alcoholic, frequently absentee and may also have been abusive, giving Crockett a drive to protect other women as young Crockett could not protect his mother.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • Addled Addict: Quite a few, but the worst is probably Yvonne from "Too Much, Too Late," who lets her dealer rape her adolescent daughter in exchange for crack.
  • Affably Evil: Some of the bad guys are polite enough... until it comes time to pull the weapons out.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: In "Baby Blues", crooked adoption lawyer Famiglia crawls through a very spacious ventilation system, complete with ladders between floors, so he can shoot the mother of one of his victims through the grate.
  • Alien Episode: In "Missing Hours," the otherwise normal TV series sees a lot of weirdness, including a woman claiming her deceased husband has been abducted by aliens and Crockett and Tubbs later seeing a UFO.
  • Alliterative Name: Stan Switek.
  • Amicable Exes: Crockett is still on good terms with his ex-wife Caroline, visiting her and their son regularly until she moves away in the first season.
  • Amnesia Episode: The four-part Burnett Arc, in which Crockett gets amnesia while undercover as the drug dealer Burnett and thinks he really is the drug dealer. Before he gets his memory back, he takes over a cartel, kills a Dirty Cop and a number of drug dealers, and tries to kill Tubbs twice.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Crockett goes through this when he gets his memories back. When he walks into the police station, all his friends pull their guns on him.
  • And Starring: The opening credits end with "and Edward James Olmos as Castillo".
  • Anyone Can Die: Rodriguez and Zito.
  • Arms Dealer:
    • Tony Amato from "No Exit" plans to sell stinger missiles to a Jamaican gangster. He was the subject of investigations by both the Organized Crime Bureau and the FBI, but was rendered untouchable thanks to protection from another federal agency (very likely the CIA) in return for his international connections.
    • Guzman from "Evan" is an international arms dealer, specializing in Ingram MAC-10s with armor-piercing bullets. His customers include terrorist groups in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and other Caribbean countries, and ATF has been building a case against Guzman for several months, especially after getting one of their agents, Evan Freed, into his organization.
  • BFG: Tubbs carries various shortened shotguns as his standard sidearm. Commonly an Ithaca 37 Stakeout or a sawed-off double barrel.
  • Badass Beard:
    • Tubbs occasionally grows one of these as a disguise. Might possibly qualify as Beard of Evil since he does it to pose as a drug dealer.
    • Zito also grows a massive beard during the second season.
  • Badass Boast: From the episode "Glades". A drug dealer has a shotgun to the head of an innocent young girl, taunting Crockett that all he needs to do is twitch and the girl is dead. Crockett's response? "Maybe...you won't even...twitch..." Then he shoots the drug dealer in the head. He doesn't twitch. This scene was recreated note for note in The Movie.
  • Badass Crew: The whole Metro-Dade Vice Squad. Believe it or not, Crockett and Tubbs were not the only great cops working in Miami.
  • Bald of Evil: J. J. Johnston from "The Prodigal Son."
  • Bang, Bang, BANG: Shotgun noise is used for the firing of pistols.
  • Battle Couple: Tubbs and his on-and-off girlfriend Valerie, an NYPD homicide detective, are this during the few times they're paired together.
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • During the four-part Burnett Arc, Crockett develops amnesia while undercover as a drug dealer, leading him to think he is the drug dealer.
    • This is discussed at times as a real danger for undercover cops.
  • Being Good Sucks: Several instances in the later seasons (which contributes to Crockett and Tubbs eventually quitting the force) show that, for all their attempts to do the right thing, it often results in the villains getting off on technicalities and innocent people being caught in the crossfire.
  • Beleaguered Childhood Friend: On many occasions, the detectives are approached by an old friend who has gotten themselves in trouble. Often the trouble involves illegal activities on the part of the friend. It usually ends bad.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Tubbs hates machine guns, especially when they are being fired directly at him. Kind of ironic since he himself keeps an arsenal that would make the NRA squeal with delight.
    • Also Crockett and men who abuse women. This takes an ugly turn if he's drunk.
    • Don't ever touch Tubbs' Cadillac... just don't.
  • Big Bad: Frank Hackman, a recurring antagonist, manages to be one of the most dangerous criminals that Crockett has faced.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Raised in a family with a largely absentee and possibly alcoholic father, Crockett had an older brother, Jake, who protected him from bullies in their youth.
  • Big "NO!":
  • Bittersweet Ending: Many, many of them. This was one of the first cop shows where the good guys didn't always win, or if they did there was a high price to pay.
  • Bloodless Carnage: For all the shootouts that take place on the show, they rarely use squibs or showed blood. When they do, it would be driblets, not gaping wounds.
  • Bodybag Trick: In "Tale of the Goat," a voodoo chief fakes his death with tetrodotoxin so he can be smuggled into Miami inside a coffin.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Crockett meets his second wife, Caitlin Davies, because she's testifying against her former manager for payola and needs protection. At first she dislikes him, calling him the "fashion police" and asking him, "What are you going to protect me with? A blowdryer?" They don't resolve their differences until Crockett saves her from hitmen.
  • Book-Ends:
    • The pilot and series finale both end with Crockett asking Tubbs if he's ever considered a career in Southern law enforcement as they walk off.
    • The pilot and series finale also have Crockett and Tubbs chasing a drug dealer who's escaping via flying boat (hell, it's even the same dock!).
  • The Boxing Episode: The two-parter "Down for the Count," in which Zito goes undercover as a boxing manager in order to catch a crooked bookmaker, only to get murdered by the bookmaker and his accomplices.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • The repeated moments when one of the heroes finds out an old friend, love interest, or a colleague they used to trust has gone bad.
    • In the acclaimed episode "Out Where The Buses Don't Run," the detectives are approached by a retired Vice cop, Hank Weldon, who says he is on the tracks of a drug lord who disappeared five years ago. Weldon seems mentally unstable and fixated on said drug lord. At the end, it turns out that Weldon has murdered the drug lord and kept his body hidden for five years.
  • Bulletproof Fashion Plate: No matter what happens to them, Crockett and Tubbs' clothes never get dirty or damaged and their hair never gets mussed. Averted in the pilot, where Crockett's famous white linen suit and pastel teal T-shirt get blackened by a car bomb; his appearance at Maria's diner and his son's birthday party both attract attention for his filthiness until he explains what happened.
  • Busman's Holiday: In "The Afternoon Plane," Tubbs and his girlfriend Alicia win an all-expenses-paid trip to an island retreat. It turns out to be a trick by his enemy Orlando Calderone to lure him away from Miami.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: In Southeast Asia, Castillo's DEA team went up against a drug-trafficking general with CIA connections. The DEA tried to ambush an opium shipment, but the CIA had sold them out, and they got slaughtered.
  • Car Meets House: When Tubbs busts a televangelist's wife for buying drugs, she tries to drive away and smashes her Mercedes into a TV shop, where Tubbs sees her singing on TV.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Crockett played football in college, but had to stop after fracturing his knee.
  • Cartwright Curse: Crockett's second wife Caitlin.
  • Ceiling Cling: Castillo does this in "Bushido" to hide from KGB agents.
  • Chase-Scene Obstacle Course: In "Duty and Honor," the killer knocks over some boxes during a car chase, forcing Crockett to get out of his car and clear them away. By the time he catches up, the killer has torched his car and fled.
  • Chopper on Standby: In a season 2 episode, Crockett is pursuing a bad guy who manages to get into a waiting helicopter. Crockett does manage to shoot the helicopter down. This was facilitated by the fact that the pilot flew very slow and very low right over Crockett's head, allowing him to empty his gun into the helicopter at practically point-blank range.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Izzy claims it's a "tragic coincidence" that he and his ex-wife got divorced shortly after he got his green card.
  • Clip Show: "A Bullet for Crockett" has most of the characters reminiscing about past missions when Crockett is shot during a drug bust gone bad.
  • Coffin Contraband: During the Vietnam War, a colonel smuggled heroin out of Vietnam by hiding it inside corpses. Unfortunately, the wood alcohol used to preserve the corpses turned the heroin toxic, killing many people.
  • Color Motif:
    • Castillo's style of dress, with its severe blacks and whites, can be seen as a metaphor for the way in which he views the world, with no shades of gray.
    • The first two seasons featured a pastel colour scheme, which was ramped up in the second season with regards to wardrobe, backdrops, props and picture composition. In the third season, the pastel clothing is largely eschewed in favour of greens, yellows, blues and dark greys, a move severely criticised by fans at the time. Some of the new fashion even violates Michael Mann's famous "No Earth Tones!" rule that he implemented when developing the wardrobe for the show.
  • Compressed Hair: In "Definitely Miami," the villain Charlie (Ted Nugent) hides his back-length hair under his hat while he pretends to be Callie's abusive husband. After he beats up Crockett and kicks him out of the room, he removes his hat, letting his hair fall down.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Tubbs in Season 1 was especially prone to this kind of behavior; almost anything involving the Big Bad or his daughter would immediately launch the audience into a five minute long Big "NO!"-filled flashback montage.
  • Contemplative Boss: Peter Allen does this in his one scene when cast as (yes) the Big Bad and Crockett and Tubbs walk in on him.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Testarossa that is given to Crockett in "Stone's War" is hinted to be the same one owned by Irish mobster Bunny Berrigan in the preceding episode, "When Irish Eyes Are Crying" (as Crockett comments that it has "new paint" when he first sees it).
    • In "Stone's War", Crockett says that he can't play Stone's recording of the massacre in Nicaragua because he doesn't own a television. Ten episodes later, in "Forgive Us Our Debts", Crockett finally buys a small television for the bedroom on his boat.
    • "A Bullet for Crockett" begins with a scene reminiscent of the pilot, where (in both instances) Crockett and Tubbs drive to an undercover drug deal as Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight" plays in the background.
    • In "Deliver Us From Evil", Crockett's locker has a photograph with him and his college friend Robbie, who appeared in the second-season episode "Buddies".
  • Cool Boat: For the first two seasons, Sonny Crockett lives on an Endeavour 40 sailboat, which is replaced by a Endeavour 42 sailboat for the rest of the series run. He also pilots a Chris Craft Stinger 390 in the first season and a Wellcraft 38 Scarab KV afterwards.
  • Cool Car:
    • Crockett drives a Ferrari Daytona Spyder 365 GTS/4 during the first two seasons and a white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa later. The first Ferrari was a replica (for budget reasons) which was replaced by the real article at the insistence of the manufacturer.
    • Ricardo Tubbs drives a 1964 Cadillac Coupe de Ville Convertible.
  • Cool Guns: Given that Michael Mann was a producer, this is a given. Several weapons that would become common sights in later films and television shows, such as the Beretta 92F and Glock 17, had some of their first screen debuts here.
  • Cool Pet: Crockett has a pet alligator, Elvis.
  • Cool Shades: In the very early portion of the first season, Crockett wears brown Carrera 5512 Large sunglasses and Alpina TR 4 glasses; for most of the first season and all of the second season, Crockett wears tortoise shell Ray-Ban Wayfarers. In the third season, Crockett wears black Persol Ratti 69218 glasses. For the fourth and fifth seasons, Crockett wears black Ray Ban Wayfarers, however he wore blue mirrored Revo sunglasses while masquerading as Sonny Burnett.
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: See Dirty Cop.
  • Corrupt Church: "Amen... Send Money" focuses on a televangelist who preaches that materialism is holy and openly asks his followers to send him money for fancy suits and manicures.
  • Cowboy Cop: Both Crockett and Tubbs had no problem tossing the rule book. This pissed off a fair number of other law enforcement officials. Oddly enough, however, their own chief, Lt. Castillo didn't seem to really mind, as he focused more on results. But then again, he was a Four-Star Badass himself, so.
  • Creator Cameo: Jan Hammer (the show's composer) appears as a wedding musician in the episodes "One Way Ticket" and the fourth-season episode "Like a Hurricane".
  • Criminal Amnesiac: Crockett loses his memory while undercover as a drug dealer. As a result, he becomes the drug dealer and proceeds to take over much of the Miami market. But in the process he shoots Tubbs when his ex-partner tries to force his memories back. When Crockett does regain his memory and tries to return to the vice squad, he's arrested. It takes a convoluted plot of defeating an Ax-Crazy criminal and saving Tubbs' life to return Crockett to the force.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: "Forgive Us Our Debts" and its Sequel Episode "Deliver Us From Evil."
  • Cryptid Episode: "Missing Hours" has one of the characters being kidnapped while investigating a cult and the rest of the cast rushing to find her, only to find out that they have run into an honest-to-God Alien Abduction plot with honest-to-God aliens (the leader of which is played by James Brown). A good example of the "Bizarro Episode" variant.
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Done by both Crockett and Tubbs early in the series finale.
  • Cyanide Pill: In "Heroes of the Revolution," a drug dealer hides a cyanide capsule in his car keys and swallows it when he is arrested.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Caitlin's death is a major contributor to Crockett's burnout and depression in Season 5. As Tubbs puts it, "Ever since Caitlin died everything tastes sour."
  • Da Chief: Lieutenant Castillo.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Played straight and deconstructed. The show explores the glamorous side of the Miami underworld, and part of the reason Crockett and Tubbs are so cool is that they play along in this world. On the other hand, we often see the less glamorous consequences of a criminal lifestyle and how cruel and ruthless the underworld is.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to other cop shows of its time, such as Magnum, P.I.. In fact, it can still be surprising today just how thematically dark the show is underneath the pop hits and pastel suits, and how many episodes end in bittersweet or downer ways.
    • Season three saw the storylines, along with the general tones of the show, become grittier and nihilistic; more episodes end abruptly after a violent climax that leaves numerous people dead, both good as bad alike. In line with the general tonal changes, the music shifts away from the popular, upbeat synthpop and soft rock heard in the first two seasons towards darker material, including new wave, electronic and metal sounds.
    • Season five saw the stories become even more dark and violent, perhaps peaking with the Banned Episode "Too Much, Too Late", which was not originally broadcast because its child-molestation plot was considered too extreme for TV. The language also becomes more grittier, Switek becomes a far more serious character with his severe gambling addiction an underlying plot line and there's more focus on gunplay, with characters seen firing weapons whilst diving through the air, sliding across tables, and even Dual Wielding firearms.
  • Dating Service Disaster: In "Love At First Sight," a female serial killer is hooking up with men via a video dating service, then killing them and cutting off their genitals. Crockett signs up and, after dating a few red herrings, finally manages to find the right woman. She stabs him in the shoulder before he shoots her.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The first season episode "Made for Each Other" focused on Zito and Switek, and the second season episode "Bushido" on Castillo.
  • Dead Partner: Crockett's original partner falls afoul of a car bomb early in the pilot.
  • Dead Star Walking: Though he wasn't a big star at the time, it's amusing to see Jimmy Smits playing Crockett's partner only to get blown up within the first few minutes of the pilot episode.
  • Death by Origin Story: Tubbs' older brother Rafael is killed in the pilot episode, causing Tubbs to go to Miami to seek revenge.
  • Death Glare: Lieutenant Castillo. Edward James Olmos just pulls this off like nobody else.
  • A Death in the Limelight: Switek and Zito had always been the back-ups/comic relief to Crockett and Tubbs. So when "Down for the Count" featured them as the main characters in a case, it unsurprisingly ended with Zito being murdered.
  • Death Seeker: The title character of "Evan" is implied to be this.
  • Deep South: A few episodes whose plots require that the protagonists to travel outside of Miami involve them dealing with such crises as a turf war between redneck families in the Everglades. Crockett himself is a very stereotypical southerner at times.
  • Desk Sweep of Rage: Crockett does this twice: once in "Shadow in the Dark" because of the Shadow's influence on his mind, and once in "Child's Play" when he's distraught after accidentally shooting a child.
  • Did Not Do the Bloody Research: Exploited in "Phil the Shill." In the '80s, before the Internet had opened up the world, most Americans had no idea what a wanker was. Phil Collins, being English, most certainly did know, and knew the Americans didn't; thus, he was able to get away with turning to Crockett and Tubbs and saying "Do I look like some sort of wanker?" which would be a perfectly reasonable phrase for his (English) character to use.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Caitlin is shot as she's walking towards Crockett after a concert. She collapses in his arms.
  • Dirty Cop: One of the show's themes was how the "lure of easy money" surrounding the drug traffic could turn even your closest friends on the police force into backstabbing criminals.
  • Dirty Harriet: Practically the only thing Gina and Trudy ever seem to do is go undercover as prostitutes. At least, this tends to be the only time they get the spotlight; otherwise they are mostly support for Crockett and Tubbs.
  • Disappeared Dad: Crockett himself becomes one after his ex-wife and son are almost killed by a hitman in "Calderone's Revenge" and he decides that they will be safer without him. His son is pretty resentful about it when he finally gets back in touch three years later.
  • The Dog Bites Back: "No Exit" ends with the villain escape justice, only to be murdered by his abused wife.
  • Dolly Zoom: Done in "Miracle Man" to show the titular vigilante's mental breakdown.
  • Domestic Abuse: A pre-stardom Bruce Willis (in his first major acting role) guest starred in "No Exit" as Tony Amato, an Arms Dealer who verbally and emotionally abuses his wife. She kills him at the end of the episode.
  • Double Tap: In "Calderone's Return," Jim Zubiena demonstrates the Mozambique Drill: a double tap to the chest followed by an aimed shot at the head.
  • Downer Ending: Most episodes tend to end on this or a Bittersweet Ending. This was one of the first cop shows where the good guys didn't always win, or if they did there was a high price to pay.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: As Crockett is recovering from his bout of amnesia, he makes his way to the police station, walks into the squad room, and stops. His fellow officers, believing him to have turned rogue, draw and cock their weapons in succession. CLICK. CLICK. CLICK. CLICK.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Crockett does this for three weeks after Caitlin is shot.
  • Drugs Are Bad: A persistent theme of the series is that not only does the drug trade have a lot of death and destruction in its wake, but the individual drug users are led to a criminal lifestyle by their addiction.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The first few episodes form a conventional Five-Episode Pilot, and had a large number of elements (like the character of Lieutenant Lou Rodriguez, who was killed off after his actor expressed displeasure living in Miami and wanted out) that seem odd in comparison to later episodes. Especially the musical montages, which used to take up extended airtime and would occur for the duration of the song instead of a short clip in later episodes and seasons. These same episodes also feature a really dodgy, prototype remix of Miami Vice Theme in their opening credits, which is missing the main guitar line and just sounds like a lot of aimless drumming.
    • Zito and Switek's schemes used to take up entire segments during certain episodes in the first season, but this was eventually trimmed and removed altogether in later seasons.
    • Several of the early episodes had scenes where the team planned their operations together - later episodes skipped this setup and went directly to the execution of the plan.
  • Edgy Backwards Chair-Sitting: Tubbs sometimes sits like this while interrogating people.
  • Elvis Impersonator: Switek briefly goes undercover as a very bad one in "Everybody's in Showbiz." He sings a few off-key bars of "Heartbreak Hotel" before another character cuts him off.
  • End-of-Series Awareness: During Crockett and Tubbs' final goodbye at the end of "Freefall," Crockett says, "Well, we had one hell of a run, didn't we, partner?" referring to both their careers and the show.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The opening scenes of the pilot feature the lead characters "in their native environment," so to speak. In New York, Tubbs heads into a nightclub with the intent to assassinate a Colombian guy, but is nearly killed in the process. After the credits roll, we see Crockett and his partner making small talk about home life before they head off to meet a drug dealer. All this happens before the two meet and before the audience even knows that they are both police detectives. The good guys playing bad guys in order to catch the bad guys, along with Music Video techniques, is firmly established. Then Crockett's partner is unceremoniously blown up by a car bomb, establishing that 1) Anyone Can Die and pyrrhic victories will be common, and 2) drug dealers will be unrelentingly evil people, making the war on drugs more than a buzzword for the heroes.
  • Eunuchs Are Evil: Frank, aka "the Savage," is a former CIA agent who used to work in Vietnam. He was emasculated by a prostitute he mistreated and subsequently became a serial killer of prostitutes, stabbing almost 90 women to death and writing "VC Whore" on the wall in the victim's blood.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: This is both Crockett and Caitlin's first impression of each other.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change:
    • In the first season, Crockett's hairstyle is short and parted over on the side; in the second season it becomes slightly longer in the front and becomes a combed back bouffant-like style; in the third season, it becomes short and spikey, and gradually grows out in the back, making it mullet-like; in the fourth season it reverts to being bouffant-like in the front and remains mullet-like, and grows out as the season progresses; for the fifth season he's first portrayed with a stylish ponytail until he regains his memory, after which his hairstyle becomes long and parted over on one side and continues to grow to its longest length.
    • In the first two seasons, Tubbs sported a jehri curl. It was short for the reamaining seasons. In the fourth season, he had a beard, which was shaved off in the fifth.
    • Switek's hair becomes longer and shaggier in the fifthe season. He often wears it slicked back while working undercover.
  • External Combustion: Crockett's old partner is killed via car bomb.
  • Fair Cop: Crockett and Tubbs, Trudy and Gina. Especially Gina.
  • Fake Defector: In "Red Tape," Tubbs pretends to quit the force, then sell information about future busts to a drug dealer in order to discover the source of a leak in the department.
  • False Rape Accusation: In "Amen... Send Money," Tubbs is accused of rape by a parishioner after he arrests a televangelist's wife.
  • Fanservice: Quite a lot of it.
    • Given that many episodes take part in night clubs and among prostitutes there are lots of women in Stripperific outfits.
    • Miami's hot and humid climate also means that the women will be wearing rather skimpy clothing, or swimsuits.
    • Bras were optional in The '80s, so we see a lot of bouncy breasts and nipples showing through T-shirts.
  • Fashion Dissonance: A textbook example. But many of the fashions in the show were over the top even then; normal people didn't dress like the pimps or gangsters of the show even in the 80's.
  • A Father to His Men: Castillo is this kind of Da Chief (see above). In one episode he clearly states that he'd rather blow the investigation than lose somebody.
  • Faux Death: In "Tale of the Goat," a voodoo chief uses tetrodotoxin to fake his death so he can be smuggled into Miami. Later, his followers inject Tubbs with the poison, almost killing him.
  • Finale Credits: The credits of "Freefall" feature the song "Tell Me" by Terry Kath and use clips from previous episodes instead of the usual stock footage of Miami.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Crockett meets Caitlin about ten minutes into "Like a Hurricane." The last scene is their wedding. The episode takes place over the course of about a week.
  • Freeze-Frame Ending: About four-fifths of episodes end on one.
  • Friends with Benefits: Sonny and Gina, for a little while.
  • Functional Addict: In "Theresa," Crockett's titular girlfriend thinks of her opioid addiction as a relatively minor flaw that doesn't interfere with her work as a doctor. She still winds up selling police information to criminals in order to pay for her addiction.
  • Fun with Acronyms: In "Amen... Send Money," IGG stands for In God's Glory. It also stands for Ill-Gotten Gains.
  • The Gambling Addict: Switek develops a gambling problem after Zito is killed by Oswaldo Guzman in the third season. The problem compounds as the show goes on and never goes away. It actually manages to get worse when he sells Crockett and Tubbs out in the Series Finale.
  • Gayngst-Induced Suicide: It's implied that Mike Orgel, Crockett's friend from the academy, died this way. After Evan outed him and ruined his life, he carelessly got himself killed while off duty.
  • Genre Shift: Not only are the last two seasons' episodes known for becoming gradually more ridiculous and unbelievable than the first three, one episode is actually more or less Science Fiction.
  • Go-to Alias: "Burnett" and "Cooper".
  • Gray-and-Grey Morality: Crockett and Tubbs on occasion mingle with people who are doing what they can just to get by. Not everyone's a criminal, and not everyone's a saint.
  • Groin Attack: In "The Home Invaders", Crockett gets rough on a bodyguard. His "primitive but effective" groin grab was edited so as to not show the actual action (the implication is that Crockett grabbed the bouncer, Angel, in a sensitive area and threw him in a closet).
  • Halloween Episode: "Shadow in the Dark," which aired on Halloween in 1986, has Crockett turning into The Profiler in order to catch a cat burglar and almost going insane in the process.
  • Hand on Womb: Caitlin does this while calling Crockett before her final concert. She doesn't have time to tell him she's pregnant, so Crockett doesn't find out until her autopsy.
  • Healthcare Motivation: In "Knock, Knock... Who's There?" a DEA agent steals drugs and money during fake raids in order to pay for her son's kidney transplant.
  • Her Boyfriend's Jacket: Caitlin is wearing Crockett's jacket the morning after they first have sex.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • What happens to some of the good cops who don't go crooked: they go mad instead.
    • Partly explains what happens to Crockett when he gets hit with amnesia: his second wife had just been killed by a Serial Killer seeking revenge on Crockett, and the aftershock of what happened made it easy for him to forget when the time came.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Crockett and Tubbs.
  • Hidden Depths: Consciously and intentionally averted by Crockett, who in spite of being college-educated and having the occasional heartfelt opinion needs to come across as shallowly as possible for the sake of his job, sanity, and keeping up appearances. In "Definitely Miami", he immediately backtracks on realizing that he's referenced Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, to Tubbs' surprise.
  • High Concept: According to legend, the actual pitch was "MTV cops."
  • High Heel Hurt: In one episode, Gina wears high heels that cause her so much pain, she can barely stand. Trudy has to support her as she walks.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: If the crew isn't bringing down drug dealers, they're investigating sex crimes usually involving prostitutes. Some of their informants on the drug cases are call girls and streetwalkers.
  • Hostage Situation: Season one's "The Maze" sees criminals hold a group of homeless people — including an undercover Tubbs — hostage in a rundown hotel.
  • Houseboat Hero: Crockett lives on the St. Vitus Dance with his pet alligator.
  • How Unscientific!: In the infamous episode "Missing Hours," the otherwise normal TV series sees a lot of weirdness, including Trudy getting abducted by an alien (played by James Brown) and Crockett and Tubbs later seeing a UFO.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: "Golden Triangle Part II" ends with Castillo putting his former lover and her family on a plane. Crockett suggests they go for a drink. Castillo reminds him that in all the months they have known each other, he has never once implied he needs a drink, before asking them to take him to a bar.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: In "Everybody's in Showbiz," Crockett is questioning a suspect about a stolen briefcase, without mentioning that it was stolen from a limousine. The suspect says that he "ain't been in no limo," to which Crockett replies, "What limo?"
  • Identical Grandson: Saundra Santiago plays both Gina and her mother Elena in "Heroes of the Revolution."
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: In "Give a Little, Take a Little", Detective Gina Calabrese is attempting to infiltrate a crime lord's organization by going undercover as a prostitute. The crime lord insists she has sex with him. To protect her cover, Gina agrees.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Crockett's second wife Caitlin is six weeks pregnant at the time of her murder. Crockett doesn't find out about the pregnancy until her autopsy.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: Two of the most iconic long-sleeved blazers on television are worn by characters who run around in high-stress situations in South Florida's legendarily sweltering climate.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: What Crockett and Tubbs can do with pistols is simply amazing.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug: In "Heart of Darkness," the wire Tubbs is wearing is accidentally miswired so that it picks up FM radio. This nearly gets Tubbs killed when it starts playing loud rock music in the middle of a meeting with armed criminals.
  • The Informant: Crockett and Tubbs regularly called upon Izzy "The Snitch" Moreno and Neville "Noogie" Lamont to get information on whatever big plot was going down. The two cops treated the latter like some unpleasant form of fungus, while the former was treated like a favored pet. Izzy once even helped the two cops out while Izzy was in the middle of committing another crime (the crime was straight burglary... they're Vice cops... they cut him a break).
  • Instant Convertible: Happens in "Stone's War" to a car driven by the CIA which is chasing Crockett and Stone.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: "Crockett's Theme".
  • Interpol Special Agent: More or less averted by the Interpol agent in "French Twist." She flies to Miami, hot on the trail of an international criminal... and gives the detectives advice. At least until she turns out to be a French government assassin sent because He Knows Too Much.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted in "Theresa." After Crockett punches a dealer, his knuckles are bloody.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The series did this often with the standard local vs. Feds variety. Sometimes averted when the Feds specifically asked for Vice assistance. Notably, sometimes the Vice squad bumped heads with detectives in other Miami police divisions like homicide or theft.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Some villains (and some heroes) never answer for the crimes they commit.
    • William Maynard (played by G. Gordon Liddy) kills Ira Stone and flees Miami - despite Crockett pledging to stop him, he never appears again.
  • Kubrick Stare: Lieutenant Castillo does this so frequently and well that it's been nicknamed "the Castillo staredown".
  • Last-Minute Reprieve: In "Forgive Us Our Debts," Crockett finds evidence that the man on death row for murdering his partner is actually innocent. He manages to get him pardoned less than an hour before his execution is scheduled. Turns out he's actually guilty, but he goes free anyway.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: The final seasons also included an escalation in odd episodes, such as one of the characters being abducted by aliens (the leader of which was played by James Brown), a group of drug dealers doing a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax regarding ghosts to try to keep people away from their operation (and the ghost being probably Real After All), Sonny going through Easy Amnesia (and temporarily becoming a bad guy) in one episode, a couple of "comedy" episodes where the Vice detectives had to deal with borderline-murderous Gambit Pileups regarding the purchase of unusual items (a prize bull's semen in one, the Human Popsicle remains of a famous singer in another) from the same Butt-Monkey Con Man snitch...
  • Latino Is Brown: Averted with Gina, who is quite light-skinned despite being from Cuba. (Saundra Santiago is half Cuban and half Puerto Rican.)
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Detective Tim Duryea from "The Maze". He and his partner Dickey Hawkins notice the Escobar brothers causing trouble and charge down the street after them, "John Wayne" style, when Raul Escobar shoots, killing Hawkins and letting the brothers get away. Crockett blames Duyrea's tactics for Hawkins' death, and Castillo reluctantly allows Duryea to be part of the operation against the Escobars at the Maze hotel. But again, Duryea's impatience and thirst for revenge got the best of him, and he began another "John Wayne" charge at the Maze, which causes the operation to become a hostage situation. Castillo wants to send Duryea home after that, but due to manpower needs he allows Duryea to stay (but not to leave the command center until the final assault). When the final assault occurs, Duryea nearly guns down Jaime Escobar and Tubbs, but is stopped by Tubbs, who dresses Duryea down:
    You're trigger-happy, man! You don't deserve to be a cop!
  • Leitmotif: "Crockett's Theme" and "Rico's Blues."
  • Limited Wardrobe: Castillo almost always wore a slim black tie, white shirt, and an inexpensive black wash-and-wear suit, in stark contrast to Crockett's and Tubbs' fancy attire. He very rarely ware anything else; examples include "Indian Wars", where he goes undercover himself and dons a white blazer, or "Duty and Honor", where he is in shorts and a T-shirt at the end of the episode while recovering from a stab wound.
  • Lovely Angels: Gina and Trudy.
  • Magical Computer: The crazed ex-cop Hank in "Out Where The Buses Don't Run" works with a computer to track the "missing" drug lord that Hank is obsessed with catching. The computer "Lorraine" (named for Hank's ex-wife) operates with a mind and personality of its own, and does things that computers in 1985 really didn't do.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Natch. Tubbs and Crockett investigate murders, sex-crimes, bust drug-rings and provide airport-security.
  • Manly Tears: On several occasions, but prominently shown in 'Smuggler's Blues' when Crockett ponders over the Vietnam War with a hired veteran pilot.
  • Man on Fire: In one episode, a man is set on fire when his truck explodes. He runs around screaming until Crockett tackles him and smothers the fire with a blanket.
  • Married to the Job: Crockett's first marriage fails for this reason.
  • The Merch: In-universe example. Izzy capitalizes on the Miracle Man's success by selling items such as hats, guitars, and baseball bats with his logo on them.
  • Mind Screw: The fourth-season episode "Missing Hours", which has Trudy trying to figure out if she's hallucinating UFO's and aliens in the guise of humans.
  • Missing Backblast: Averted in one episode in which a criminal is seen visibly recoiling from a stinger missile. The backblast can be seen from it, and others present have already moved a safe distance away.
  • Model Planning: In "Glades", Crockett uses a model house to go through the plan to raid the villains' hideout.
  • Moment Killer: In a deleted scene from the pilot, Gina tells Crockett that he whispered "Caroline" (his soon-to-be-ex-wife's name) into her ear during their night together on the boat.
  • Multi-Part Episode: "Calderone's Return Part 1/2", "Golden Triangle Part 1/2" and "Down For The Count Part 1/2". 2 of the 3 two-parters ("Calderone's Return" and "Down For The Count") feature the death of the series' Big Bad (up to that point in the story) and a major supporting character, respectively.
  • Music Video Syndrome: The series was pitched as "MTV Cops", and turned this into an art form, with two similar sequences in the Pilot - one in the first half and one in the second half.
  • Necessary Fail: Crockett and Tubbs come together over the loss of their partner/brother.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Crockett's investigation of the circumstances behind the death of his former partner in "Forgive Us Our Debts" results in a convicted and scheduled-for-execution killer to be mistakenly freed from Death Row. This comes back to bite him a season later when the killer comes back and shoots Crockett's wife, Caitlin, leading to Crockett's breakdown and slide into his alter ego, Burnett.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The "Golden Triangle" episodes provide insight into Castillo's character, which up to that point had been very mysterious. Notably, Edward James Olmos does not speak in Castillo's normal mumbling voice, expresses anger when he tries to choke Menton, and even goes so far as to Suddenly SHOUTING! (albeit just a single word, "Wrong!") at Menton after the final confrontation.
  • Only in Florida: While the series was more straight-up cop drama, some of the more bizarre stories and quirky characters had true-life antecedents that were Ripped from the Headlines.
  • Only in Miami: Some episodes were loosely based on some of the crazier things that happened in South Florida.
  • Out of Focus: Tubbs' involvement in storylines is noticeably downscaled in season four, leading to complaints from fans and causing some people to christen it "The Don Johnson Show".
  • Parent with New Paramour: Caroline's second husband Bob Ballard is a type 2 or 3. Billy thinks he's boring and overly strict and treats him like a baby.
  • Parental Incest: "Junk Love" had a drug dealer killing men who were close to his daughter, because he was having an incestuous relationship with her. This made Rosella turn to doing anything to get away, even turning tricks. The episode implies that she kills him on his yacht.
  • Perma-Stubble: Crockett was probably the Trope Codifier. Electric shavers didn't even have a "stubble" setting before the show aired. That was introduced as a direct response to Sonny Crockett's popularity.
  • Pizza Boy Special Delivery: "Heart of Darkness" begins on the set of a porn film about a girl who can't afford to get her air conditioner fixed.
    Penny: Maybe you could take a personal check?
    Repairman: Well, that depends on how personal you want to make it.
  • The Place: Three guesses where the setting of the show is.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Switek and Zito.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: "Leap of Faith" led to a proposed spinoff featuring younger vice detectives, which never came to fruition.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Crockett has a few of these:
    • From "Glades": "Maybe...you won't even...twitch..." note 
    • From "Bushido": "Surf's up, pal!" note 
  • Previously On…:
    • "Down for the Count (Part II)" opens this way.
    • "Rock and a Hard Place" opens with a recap of "Like a Hurricane," three episodes ago.
    • "Deliver Us From Evil" opens with a recap of "Forgive Us Our Debts," from the previous season.
  • Product Placement:
    • The cool clothes and sunglasses throughout the series.
    • The Ferraris driven by Crocket and Tubbs. The first one was a replica; when the Ferrari company found this out, they offered to lend a real one if the fake was disposed of. It was, in a spectacular case of External Combustion.
    • Also applies to Crockett's handguns in the the television series, namely the Bren Ten for the first two seasons, and the Smith & Wesson 645 (later updated to a 4506) for the rest of the series.
    • Crockett's shoulder holster, the Miami Classic rig from Galco Gunleather, became an instant sales success among gun enthusiasts.
  • Professional Killer: Ludovici Armstrong, the Argentinian assassin from "Calderone's Return", sent to clean out a list of targets for mob boss Calderone. He looks like a holdover from the 70's, has a small afro, and has one of the quickest draws humanly possible (he was played by a real-life trained marksman). In fact, he kills Sonny Crockett's boss and most of the targets before being taken down, and that's only because more than five police officers (including Tubbs, Valerie and vice officers) shoot at him at the same time.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: Subverted in "The Glades". A little girl is taken hostage by a Mook as Sonny Crockett rounds a corner, pistol aimed.
    Mook: If I so much as twitch I'll kill her!
    Crockett: Maybe... you won't... even... Twitch. [BLAM]
  • Quick Draw: From "Calderone's Return". A hitman, posing as a limo driver, decides that There Is No Kill Like Overkill and empties a shotgun into the limo. One of the dead man's bodyguards appears out of nowhere and makes him drop the shotgun. Holding the hitman at gunpoint, the bodyguard makes the mistake of shifting his gaze to the destroyed limo...
    • Even more noteworthy because they got an actual pistol champion to play the hitman.
  • Raised Catholic: Gina Calabrese. According to "When Irish Eyes Are Crying," she thought all teachers were nuns until she was twelve years old.
  • Ramp Jump: A biker jumps his motorcycle over a police car in "Viking Bikers from Hell."
  • Rape as Drama: Several episodes dealt with associates of the Vice team being raped by the villain(s), prompting Crockett, Tubbs, Gina and/or Trudy to go after them in revenge.
  • Rare Guns: Crockett's 10mm Bren Ten pistol from the first two seasons, two of which were custom built (and rechambered in .45 ACP since there were no 10mm blanks in 1984) for the show. Despite the Bren Ten being an indisputable commercial failure, it still has a cult following largely due to its presence on the show, and the custom finish job used on the Bren Tens in the show (Mann had the slide of both guns given a hard chrome finish to make them more visible on camera during night-time scenes) has even come to be known as "Miami Vicing".
  • Real Is Brown: Averted. The producers explicitly called for "no earth tones", in order to maintain the MTV style of the show. In the words of one of the episode directors:
    There are certain colors you are not allowed to shoot, such as red and brown. If the script says 'A Mercedes pulls up here,' the car people will show you three or four different Mercedes. One will be white, one will be black, one will be silver. You will not get a red or brown one. Michael knows how things are going to look on camera.
  • Reality Ensues: In "Glades", The Dragon is holding a shotgun to a little girl's head as Crockett approaches with this pistol drawn and aimed. The Dragon begins threatening to shoot the girl if he's not let go, saying "If I so much as twitch, she's go—" BLAM Sonny shoots him right between the eyes, with the Post-Mortem One-Liner, "Maybe you won't twitch."
  • Recovered Addict: Zito used to be an alcoholic. As of "Down for the Count," he hadn't had a drink in five years and was implied to be attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Crockett is hot-headed and often aggravated by the day to day activities, while Tubbs is laid-back and easy-going.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Almost all of the pistols Castillo carried were large-calibre revolvers, including a Smith & Wesson Model 29 in .44 Magnum (as well as the stainless steel version, the 629), a Smith & Wesson Model 686 in .357 Magnum, a Colt Trooper MK V in .357 Magnum, a Smith & Wesson model 29 in .44 Magnum, and a Colt Python in .357 Magnum. He tended to prefer such weaponry over more modern semi-automatic pistols, although he did use the latter type of weapon in certain situations
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • Started being integrated into the plot more once Dick Wolf became executive producer. Considering the number of crazy things that happen in Florida, it was easy.
    • Season one's "The Home Invaders" was loosely based on an actual string of home invasions perpetrated by a gang of burglars in the Miami area in the early 1980s.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • How Tubbs ends up in Miami as Crockett's partner. It pops up as motivation for some of the more Ax-Crazy villains that would guest-star every other week.
    • "Rites of Passage" ends with Diane Morgan killing the pimp and dealer resposible for her sister's murder. Knowing full well she has broken the law, Valerie hands over head gun and asks Crockett to Mirandize her.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The department's original boss, Lieutenant Rodriguez.
  • Salt and Pepper: Crockett and Tubbs, although they are equally cool.
  • Samurai: Castillo. His martial arts training made him into a stealthy katana-wielding Badass, but his code of honor was pure Bushido. Highlighted in the second season episode aptly titled "Bushido".
  • Samus Is a Girl: At the beginning of "The Fix," Switek is surprised to discover that the drug dealer Ortega is a woman.
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: Ricardo Tubbs made significant use of short-barreled shotguns. In the first season, he used a standard sawed-down double-barrel model; in the second, he switched out for a custom Ithaca 37 Stakeout, an already short-barreled shotgun that was cut down even shorter, and for the third and fourth seasons he used a similarly-cut down S&W Model 3000.
  • Scenery Porn: Filming on location in South Florida helps.
  • Sequel Episode: Two examples, both of which open with a Previously On… segment summarizing the first part. In "Rock and a Hard Place," two scummy record executives who first appeared earlier in the season in "Like a Hurricane" come back to try to ruin Caitlin's career. Later in the season, in "Deliver Us From Evil," a murderer whom Crockett accidentally got off death row in the third-season episode "Forgive Us Our Debts" returns and kills Caitlin.
    • "Trust Fund Pirates" from the second season was to be a direct sequel to season one's "Smuggler's Blues", but Glenn Frey was unavailable to reprise his role as Jimmy. Consequently, the script was changed to feature a smuggler friend of his (Jackson Crane, played by Gary Cole) who had taken over his hangar (Jimmy retired after the events of that episode) and knew all about "Burnett and Cooper".
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • Due to the network switching up the order of certain episodes throughout the series, characters and/or props change their appearance radically from one episode to another.
    • Infamously, Crockett is driving around in his Ferrari Daytona (and using it for cover in a shootout) in the third-season episode "El Viejo", seven episodes after it was destroyed by an arms dealer and replaced with the Testarossa. This was due to the fact that "El Viejo" was originally planned to be the third-season premiere, but was pushed farther into the season and replaced with a more action-packed opener.
    • Zito's beard disappears and reappears at random throughout the second season, due to the running order of the episodes being changed.
  • Series Fauxnale: When the show first aired, it faced dismal ratings and was in danger of being cancelled. To that end, the producers Retooled the series with a two-parter that also served as a finale if the show was canned. "Calderone's Return" killed off Crockett and Tubbs' commanding officer, resolved Crockett's relationship with his ex-wife, and completed Tubbs' quest for vengeance against the man who killed his brother.
  • Sex for Solace: After Zito's death in "Down for the Count," Trudy has sex with a man she hasn't seen in five years because she doesn't want to be alone. It doesn't make her feel any better.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: In "Glades", Crockett finds a girl being held at gunpoint by a villain, who threatens to kill her if he so much as twitches — Crockett tells him he won't even twitch and shoots him down.
  • Shoot the Television: Switek does this at the end of "Phil the Shill" when he sees the titular con man (played by Phil Collins) posing as a faith healer on TV. He even shouts "This one's for you, Elvis!"
  • Shoot Your Mate: Tubbs was deep undercover and ordered to kill Sonny to prove his loyalty, so he walks up to Sonny and, without a word or hesitation, shoots him point-blank. Awesome scene. (Naturally, Sonny was wearing a Bulletproof Vest.)
  • Shoot Everything That Moves: In several episodes, perhaps most notably "Freefall," the series finale. When faced with the fact that General Borbon may walk without testifying about the cartel due to political corruption, Crockett and Tubbs confront the dictator in a running firefight, killing his guards to a man and blowing up Borbon's departing seaplane.
  • Shoot the Television: Switek does this at the end of "Phil the Shill" when he sees the titular con man posing as a faith healer on TV. He even shouts "This one's for you, Elvis!"
  • Shout-Out: In Season 2's "Out Where the Buses Don't Run", Weldon's computer is named after his ex-wife, Lorraine. It also happened to be the name of the Amiga prototype that appeared at the 1984 Consumer Electronics Show. The Amiga prototype took its name from the motherboard, which was named Lorraine, after the company president's wife.
  • Sliding Scale Of Silliness Vs Seriousness: The series started out in the first two seasons by being a fairly serious cop show but with 80's glamor and pastel colors. Then it got darker around the third season and had some pretty ridiculous plots during the fourth and fifth season but eventually tried to get back to how it was at the beginning in the fifth season.
  • Slimeball: Tubbs in the pilot basically drools and makes really perverted sounds when a pretty lady walks past him. Thankfully, this was dialed way back as the series progressed.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Crockett smokes like a chimney throughout the first season, although he quietly drops the habit early in the second.
  • Snuff Film: In "Death and the Lady" Crockett comes to believe that an acclaimed and award winning director has produced one of these, where the victim agreed because she was already terminally ill. As it turns out the director can't be charged and Crockett has to be satisfied with roughing him up a little.
  • Soft Glass: Generally played straight, but averted in "Missing Hours," in which a man smashes through a plate glass window, cuts his jugular on one of the shards, and dies.
  • Something Blues: "Rico's Blues," Tubbs' unofficial theme song.
  • Sorrowful Stutter: When Switek is giving Zito's eulogy in "Down for the Count," he begins with "Lar was my partner..." He pauses for almost twenty seconds before continuing, "...but to me, he was more like a brother." He then stops, overcome by emotion.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: While the show's soundtrack and Music Video Syndrome style are among its main draws, the series is rife with out-of-place examples that can actually be pretty jarring: such as cheery pop music playing as the theme to a violent murder, or an angsty ballad playing during a mellow driving scene.
  • Special Guest:
    • Many actors, actresses, musicians, comedians, athletes, celebrities, appeared throughout the show's five-season run. They played many different roles from drug dealers to undercover cops to madams.
    • Musicians include John Taylor, Andy Taylor, Willie Nelson, Gene Simmons, and Ted Nugent. Additionally Glenn Frey, Frank Zappa, Phil Collins, Miles Davis, Little Richard, James Brown, Leonard Cohen and Eartha Kitt.
    • Other personalities included auto executive Lee Iacocca and Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy. Athletes included Boston Celtics center Bill Russell, Bernard King, racecar driver Danny Sullivan and boxers Roberto Durán, and Randall "Tex" Cobb.
    • Pam Grier deserves a special mention as Valerie... Tubbs' on again, off again true love. One of the few guests to reappear in several episodes, including a feature length.
  • Spies in a Van: The Bug Van, complete with enormous model roach on top, for extra inconspicuousness.
  • Spiteful Spit: In "Sons and Lovers," as Angelina is tied up in an explosion-wired car and left to die by her brother, he tells her good riddance and spits in her face.
  • Sports Hero Backstory: In his youth, Crockett was a "golden boy," a University of Florida Gators football star, once catching a 92 yard touchdown pass with six seconds remaining in a game against Alabama, and catching the winning pass in the Gator Bowl, an act that found him being awarded the game ball. He later sustained a knee injury on the field which put an end to his sports career.
  • Status Quo Game Show: In "Phil the Shill," Switek calls in sick so he can appear on a game show, but the crooked host (Phil Collins, of all people) prevents him from winning.
  • The Stoic: Lieutenant Castillo.
    (at the end of "Bushido" when Castillo refuses to show any emotional compromise) Tubbs: Castillo doesn't give an inch.
    Crockett(beat): He can't.
  • Strange Cop in a Strange Land:
    • Tubbs was originally a New York detective. When his quest to avenge the death of his brother brough him into conflict, and grudging partnership, with Crockett, he was persuaded to stay permanently
    • A later episode reverses this when they have to travel to New York to stop some Colombian drug dealers. Now Tubbs is back on his home turf and Crockett is the fish out of water.
    • Several episodes feature Crockett and/or Tubbs having to leave Miami and go to some exotic, dangerous location to pursue criminals. The above-mentioned New York episode begins with a Cold Open in Bogota.
  • Strapped to a Bomb: The villain of "Smuggler's Blues" ties people to anti-motion tremblers, causing a bomb to go off if anyone tries to cut them loose.
  • Stuffed in the Fridge: Tubbs' love interest (and the mother of his child) Angelina. After disappearing for almost two seasons, she returns to rekindle her relationship with Tubbs — as well as introduce him to his son (which she gave birth to after he left Cuba in "Calderone's Return, Part II"). Soon after she returns, she's kidnapped by her brother (the new drug kingpin in Cuba), is tied to the steering wheel of a limousine that's rigged to blow if she escapes, and forced to watch as her child is taken from her and replaced with a fake one to fool Tubbs. Then, just as it looks like Crockett and Tubbs have defeated the Calderone's, Angelina accidentally(?) triggers the bomb in the limo, killing her and leaving Tubbs grief-stricken.
  • Suicide by Cop: Pulled by some of the bad guys when they lose someone/something precious and decide to go out in a blaze of glory.
    • In "Bushido" Castillo's old CIA friend Jack from his DEA days in Southeast Asia turns up on the run from the Soviets and his own government. When they meet up, Jack opens fire with an Uzi to force Castillo to shoot back. He does so both because Jack was dying from cancer and because he knew his best friend would protect his Russian wife and their son.
  • Sunshine Noir: Pastel colors combined with neon, 80's music, cool cars, and the perpetual sunny Miami weather is juxtaposed over episodes focused on drug dealers, murderers, and gangs.
  • Super Window Jump: In "Baby Blues," Crockett and Tubbs dive out of the windows of a building as it explodes behind them.
  • Take My Hand: In the Burnett arc, Sonny redeems himself to Tubbs by showing up in time to do this.
  • Taking the Bullet: Rodriguez dies taking a bullet for Crockett.
  • The Teaser: Every episode opens with one, ranging in length from about two to eight minutes.
  • Terrible Trio: Season one's "Nobody Lives Forever" sees three crazed punks go on a joy-riding and armed robbery spree.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: In the episode "Milk Run," some kids play the Miami Vice theme on a boombox.
  • Titled After the Song: In the middle of the show's first season, former Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey released "Smuggler's Blues", a song about cocaine trafficking. The producers of the show immediately jumped on it, and not only titled the resultant episode "Smuggler's Blues", but they based the storyline on the lyrics of the song and cast Glenn Frey as Jimmy the Bush Pilot.
  • Title In: "Forgive Us Our Debts" opens with a flashback, with a caption that says "Miami, 1980." Crockett spends the scene wearing a hat to hide his mid-'80s haircut. After the flashback ends, another caption says "Miami, 1986."
  • Tone Shift: The first two seasons had a predominantly light-hearted tone (even in episodes with otherwise bleak storylines). Later seasons would depart from this in favour of a darker feel in keeping with the often sinister plots.
  • Tracking Device: In "Tale of the Goat," Tubbs attaches one to the underside of a truck he's riding in. It falls off, and when Crockett tries to follow him, he finds the device lying in the road.
  • Tranquil Fury: Castillo never raised his voice, instead displaying anger in a cold, taciturn manner. Failing that, a simple Death Glare from him spoke a thousand words.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: In "Hard Knocks", Switek has to convince an aspiring football player to throw the Big Game to cover his massive debts.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Crockett loses his memory after an explosion. Probably compounded by Heroic BSoD (see above).
  • True Companions: One of the reasons why none of the Miami Vice crew turn corrupt except for when Crockett loses his identity. And even then, the bond of friendship is what brings him back into the fold.
    "He was my partner, you understand? You understand?"
    "...Yeah."
  • Turn in Your Badge: In "Freefall," federal agent Andrew Baker threatens to get Crockett and Tubbs kicked off the force for killing the deposed dictator of a Banana Republic who was in league with corrupt government officials. The two respond by throwing their badges on the ground, completely burned out from the job and disgusted by the corruption that they've seen, despite Castillo's pleas for them to reconsider.
  • Two-Part Episode: "Calderone's Revenge", "Golden Triangle" and "Down for the Count".
  • Undercover as Lovers: While Tubbs is undercover as a convict in "Walk-Alone," he and Trudy share a "conjugal visit." Tubbs leans in for a very awkward kiss but can't bring himself to do it, so he yells at her for cheating on him instead.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: Crockett and Tubbs are both undercover when they first meet. They don't realize they're both cops until Crockett tries to arrest Tubbs.
  • Unwilling Suspension: In "Bad Timing," robbers string Crockett up by his wrists and take potshots at him.
  • Vapor Wear:
    • Trudy usually wears thin tops without a bra.
    • Gina sometimes sports the same look, especially when doing a Dirty Harriet, though she usually seems to wear a bra.
    • In general, bras seem to have been in short supply in 1980's Miami.
  • Vice City: half-Trope Namer
  • Villainous Incest: In "Junk Love," the villain Silva is in a long-term, frequently nonconsensual relationship with his daughter Rosella.
  • Villains Out Shopping: In the early seasons, it's common to see the week's given drug dealer/pimp/gun-runner doing the most diabolical things, like...hanging out at the beach, dancing at the club, and trying on new clothes in some trendy Miami shop.
  • The Voiceless: Izzy's dimwitted assistant Manny never had any lines, although he could occasionally be seen talking in the background.
  • Water Torture: In "Forgive Us Our Debts," Crockett urgently needs information from a gangster, who tells him, "I'm just a pre-Miranda kind of guy. Back then there was a definite possibility that cops could get a guy to talk. Not now." Crockett responds by dragging the guy into his swimming pool and forcing his head underwater, which does the trick.
  • Weapon of Choice:
    • Crockett's signature weapon was the high-tech, stainless steel pistol he carried as his primary sidearm, and he carried three such weapons during the course of the series, mainly the then-state-of-the-art Dornaus & Dixon Bren Ten chambered in 10mm Auto.
    • Unlike Crockett, who utilized high-tech handguns as his primary weapons, Tubbs' choice of firearms more strongly reflected his "from the streets" origins and consisted of cheaper, more readily available weapons. His primary sidearm throughout all five seasons of the show was a Smith & Wesson Model 38 "Bodyguard" revolver with a 2 inch barrel and custom Pachmyr grips, chambered in .38 Special.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Golden Triangle, Part 1": What starts out as a typical episode involving a jewellery theft takes a sharp turn and becomes a showcase for Castillo's Hidden Depths, culminating in the most cinematic fight of the series (between Castillo and a suspect) up to that point.
    • "Sons And Lovers": Tubbs' former love interest, Angelina Calderone, returns - with a baby in tow, and one she says belongs to him. Angelica's brother, also of the Calderone family, comes to Miami looking for revenge...and ends up rigging Angelina to a car bomb that kills her and makes Tubbs think his child has died as well.
    • "Down For The Count, Part 1": An undercover operation involving a corrupt boxing manager turns horribly tragic when Zito is killed and made to look like he overdosed on drugs.
    • "Mirror Image", Sonny is caught in a massive explosion that leads to him developing amnesia and slipping into the role of his alter-ego, Sonny Burnett. He turns traitor on the Vice team and begins working for a drug cartel, finally culminating in him shooting Tubbs after the latter tries to reason with him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Elvis the alligator stops appearing by the fourth season, and is never referenced or seen again, with his fate left unanswered after Crockett quits the force at the end of the series.
    • Zito's goldfish disappears from the series after his death in "Down for the Count" and never reappears again, despite Crockett and others searching his apartment for clues in the episode after his death occurs.
  • Whole Plot Reference: Several episodes of the show "borrowed" plots from various movies, such as High Noon or The Trouble with Harry. Season 3's "Shadow in the Dark" was a Whole Plot Reference to Manhunter, which Michael Mann himself directed.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: Crockett has a strong need to protect women. This was particularly seen in "Death and the Lady," when Glantz's sadism towards women enraged him, first into saying, "You know what really turns me on? The idea of you in a room with all the fathers of all the girls you've turned out." By the end of the episode, he was so eaten up by knowing that Glantz had gotten away with murder that he crossed the line and beat Glantz, saying, "Is that sexy? Do you like that?" Similarly, in "Junk Love", he didn't even try to stop Rosella from shooting her abusive father and showed more sympathy for her than Tubbs even before he knew what her true situation was.
  • Workout Fanservice: "Heart of Darkness" opens on the set of a porno, with a sweaty girl working out to music while she waits for the air conditioner repairman to arrive.
  • Worthy Opponent: General Lao Li in "Golden Triangle" views Castillo as this:
    Lao Li: Old enemies come to know one another very well over the years, and there comes regard even for an adversary.
    Castillo: Really?
    Lao Li: Yes. Maybe our relationship will continue.
    Castillo: The adversarial part?
  • Wrench Wench: Crockett's mechanic, Tommy.
  • Written-In Absence: At the beginning of the first-season episode "The Home Invaders," Crockett mentions that Tubbs is visiting his girlfriend in New York. Philip Michael Thomas was actually injured during a stunt in the previous episode, "Made For Each Other."
  • You Have Failed Me: The second part of "Golden Triangle" has a particuarly nasty example. The gangster Lao Li's goons snatch his newly released grandsons and take them to a warehouse, where he is waiting to hear an explanation for their actions. When they instead show defiance and demand to know why they cannot start their own drug dealing dynasty, Li orders them killed. Thankfully, the cops intervene.
  • You Killed My Father: Gina is willing to help the German spy Herzog kill the drug dealer Pedrosa because Pedrosa killed her mother twenty-six years ago.
  • "You Used to Be Better" Speech: In "Buddies," Crockett finds out that his old friend Robbie Cann is the son of a mobster, that he borrowed money from his father to start his business, and that he's willing to let a woman get murdered to protect himself. Crockett gives him a speech about their time serving in Vietnam: "The man I knew always did what it took and it hurt sometimes, but he did it... We refused to throw those PO Ws out of the choppers. No matter what the rest of the world was saying, we did the right thing." It works, and Robbie ends up sacrificing himself to protect the woman.
  • Zipping Up the Bodybag: Happens in many episodes.

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