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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.
  • 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.
  • Actor Allusion: Sonny Crockett's pet alligator on the show is named Elvis. Don Johnson played Elvis Presley a few years earlier in the made-for-TV movie Elvis and the Beauty Queen.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • Amicable Exes: Crockett and his ex-wife Caroline.
  • 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.
  • 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: Of the few times they're paired together, Tubbs and Valerie are this.
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • Crockett, while amnesiac (see Criminal Amnesiac below).
    • 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.
  • BFG: Tubbs carries various shortened shotguns as his standard sidearm. Commonly an Ithaca 37 Stakeout or a sawed-off double barrel.
  • Big Bad: Frank Hackman, a recurring antagonist, manages to be one of the most dangerous criminals that Crockett has faced.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Crockett's older brother Jake used to defend him from bullies.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cardboard Boxes: 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.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Crockett played football in college, but had to stop after fracturing his knee.
  • 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.
  • Cartwright Curse: Crockett's second wife Caitlin.
  • Ceiling Cling: Castillo does this in "Bushido" to hide from KGB agents.
  • Da Chief: Castillo, played by Edward James Olmos.
  • CIA Evil, DEA 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.
  • 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.
  • Compressed Hair: In the episode "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.
  • 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: Worn by Crockett and many other characters - justified because of the intense Florida sun, of course.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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."
  • 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. After Dick Wolf replaced Michael Mann as show runner, the show also became literally darker by trading in the bright colors and pastels for darker clothing.
  • 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: Switek and Zito in "Made For Each Other".
  • Dead Partner: Crockett's original partner falls afoul of a car bomb early in the pilot.
  • 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.
  • 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: Gina and Trudy often impersonate prostitutes.
  • Disappeared Dad: Crockett himself becomes one after his ex-wife and son are almost killed by a hitman early in the first season 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.
  • Dolly Zoom: Done in "Miracle Man" to show the titular vigilante's mental breakdown.
  • 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: More the rule than the exception. This show was one of the first where the good guys didn't always win.
  • 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.
  • External Combustion: How Crockett's old partner dies.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Houseboat Hero: Crockett lives on the St. Vitus Dance with his pet alligator.
  • Identical Grandson: Saundra Santiago plays both Gina and her mother Elena in "Heroes of the Revolution."
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Caitlin was six weeks pregnant at the time of her death.
  • 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.
  • 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?"
  • 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: Miami Vice 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.)
  • Leitmotif: "Crockett's Theme" and "Rico's Blues."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Music Video Syndrome: Especially in the pilot.
  • 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.
  • Only in Miami: Some episodes were loosely based on some of the crazier things that happened in South Florida.
  • 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.
  • Perma-Stubble: Crockett popularized this trope.
  • 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: 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.
  • 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 Men Wear Pink: Crockett.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The department's original boss, Lieutenant Rodriguez.
  • Salt and Pepper: Crockett and Tubbs, though the trope is downplayed a bit in that they have rather similar personalities.
  • 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 episode "The Fix," Switek is surprised to discover that the drug dealer Ortega is a woman.
  • 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.
  • 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 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:
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Soul Brotha: Tubbs.
  • 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:
  • 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: Crockett is a former star player for the University of Florida Gators football team.
  • 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 the episode "Bushido" when Castillo refuses to show any emotional compromise) Tubbs: Castillo doesn't give an inch.
    Crockett(beat): He can't.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Viewer Stock Phrases: Folks who watched this show might say.....
    • If you were born before 1982 - "Oh man! I remember that song!"
    • "Where can I get that suit/car/boat/gun?"
    • "Do the good guys ever win??"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Zipping Up the Bodybag: Happens in many episodes.

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