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Midnight Caller was an American drama television series that aired on NBC from 1988-1991.

Months after accidentally shooting his partner dead, former San Francisco cop Jack Killian (Gary Cole) is recruited by Devon King (Wendy Kilbourne), the manager of a local radio station, to host a midnight radio talk-back show to offer knowledge to listeners that wish to keep themselves safe from the city’s growing criminal world. Ever the humanitarian, Jack can’t help but get personally involved with the plight of those who call his show.


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Midnight Caller contains examples of:

  • 555: When a caller's number is shown, it's usually this. The show's number is 555-TALK.
  • '80s Hair: Jack's producer Billy Po's mullet, and his friend Deacon's flattop.
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: In "Promise to a Dead Man," a detective asks Devon if her boss, Mr. Killian, knows she's using his office.
  • Addiction Displacement: While trying to quit smoking, Jack tries chewing gum and playing with wooden balls.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Nicky calls Jack "Ace."
  • Amateur Sleuth: Jack often solves his callers' mysteries.
  • And Starring: "And Arthur Taxier as Lt. Carl Zymak."
  • As Himself: Jerry Vale makes an appearance in "That's Amore," causing a mob boss to practically squee with excitement.
  • Autopsy Snack Time: Officer Martin Slocum likes to spend his lunch breaks in the morgue.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bachelor Auction: Jack participates in one in "Class of 1980." Naturally, the woman who buys him is a murder suspect.
  • Badbutt: The villain of "Kid Salinas" calls another character a "worthless sack of poop."
  • Batman Cold Open: A number of episodes open with a short scene of Jack at work that have little or nothing to do with the episode's main plot.
  • Big, Friendly Dog: In one episode, Billy brings his St. Bernard to work. The dog drools all over the equipment, causing the On The Air light to go out.
  • Big "NO!": Jack does this twice after he kills Rusty.
  • Bleed 'em and Weep: Jack cries when he realizes Rusty is dead.
  • Calling Card: A hitman in "Protection" leaves little stick figures, apparently made out of white wire, at every crime scene.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: When Jack's brother Frankie meets their father J. J. for the first time since Frankie was a baby, the first thing he does is punch him in the face, knocking him to the floor.
    Frankie: I always promised myself that I'd do that if I ever met this son of a bitch.
  • Cardboard Boxes: While Jack is running away from a shooter in "With Malice Towards One," he knocks over a trash can to delay him.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Hank from "Twelve Gauge" used to work in construction. After becoming paralyzed from the waist down in an accident, he feels that he has nothing left to live for.
  • Career Versus Man: In "Nighthawk's Got the Blues," Devon's boyfriend buys a sailboat so he can fulfill his lifelong dream of sailing around the world. He wants Devon to abandon KJCM to come with him, while she wants him to abandon his dream and stay in San Francisco. In the end they break up, and he goes without her.
  • Car Fu: The villains of "With Malice Towards One" try to kill Jack by smashing their van into a phone booth he's using. After he dives out of the way, they chase him down the street until he escapes into a building.
  • Catapult Nightmare: In "Blame It On Midnight," Jack sits upright and gasps after dreaming that his Love Interest Marie is killed.
  • Cat Scare: In "Watching Me, Watching You," Devon is looking around her apartment for her stalker when a cat she's taking care of meows and knocks something off a shelf behind her.
  • Christmas Episode:
    • "Someone to Love" is an unusual example. The episode aired on November 14, 1989, but most of it is a flashback to the previous December.
    • "Do You Believe In Miracles?" from later in the season is a more traditional example. It aired on December 19, it's more lighthearted than most Midnight Caller episodes, and the plot revolves around a statue of Baby Jesus.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: In "Play Blotto... And Die," a snitch in witness protection wanders around in a trench coat, hat, sunglasses, and fake beard.
  • Contrasting Replacement Character: Jack's original boss Devon King pretty much gave him free rein and seemed more interested in well-researched, even-handed coverage of social issues than in ratings. Her replacement Nicky Molloy is much tougher and stricter and cares about building the business above all else.
  • Cradling Your Kill: Jack does this to Rusty after accidentally shooting him dead.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: When Jack has a black eye from being punched in the face by someone he was trying to help, he tells Zymak that a book fell on him after he dozed off.
  • Daddy Didn't Show: Lieutenant Zymak's job causes him to miss things like his son's school play.
  • Dead Animal Warning: In "Take Back the Streets," drug dealers kill an anti-drug protestor's cat and leave the body in her bed.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Lola Atkins from "A Cry in the Night" names her daughter Rayna, after her murdered husband Ray.
  • Dead Partner: Implied with Officer Slocum in "Uninvited Guests." Zymak says that a dead INS agent was very close to his partner. Slocum replies, "That's why I don't like working with a partner."
  • Delivery Guy: Jack tries to be this when Devon gives birth, but he faints as soon as he sees her in labor.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Jack's ex-girlfriend Tina Cassidy dies of AIDS in his arms.
  • Dirty Cop: Sawyer from "Blame It On Midnight," the best cop money can buy. He's happy to help commit insurance fraud, even when that means murdering his former accomplice.
  • Disability Superpower: Downplayed in "Wait Until Midnight." Annie Driscoll is blind, but has learned to make good use of her hearing. She gets the same information from voices that most people get from faces and can even tell Jack has quit smoking because the timbre of his voice has changed and she can no longer hear his lighter. This makes her a very useful witness when a murder occurs in the next apartment.
  • Disappeared Dad: Jack's father walked out on him and his siblings when he was seven, leaving them $486 and an overdue rent bill.
  • Does Not Drive: Jack doesn't like to drive, preferring to rely on public transportation and rides from friends.
  • Domestic Abuse: One of the first calls Jack gets is from a woman beaten by her husband. Jack tells her to leave as soon as possible. Later in the season, she calls back to thank him.
  • Dramatic Drop: Annie from "Wait Until Midnight" drops her wineglass when she hears a man being murdered.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After Rusty's death, Jack "climbed into a bottle" for six months.
  • Drugs Are Bad:
    • In "The Fall," a failed basketball player copes by becoming a cocaine addict, ruining his job prospects.
    • In "Take Back the Streets," the inhabitants of a neighborhood that has been ruined by the drug trade start protesting the drug dealers. The dealers respond by threatening the protestors and even killing one of them.
    Jack: Cocaine is a killer, whether you're shooting it, smoking it, snorting it, or fighting to keep it out of your neighborhood.
    • In "A Cry in the Night," a crack addict gives birth to a baby girl with a low birth weight and Apgar score and probable brain damage. She's so horrified by what she's done that she agrees to go into rehab.
  • Da Editor: Deacon's boss, Chesleigh Brant.
  • Elder Abuse: A minor character from "Old Friends" is an old woman whose finger was cut off to steal her wedding ring. Also, an orderly is euthanizing very elderly patients, and smothers one man who witnesses one of the murders.
  • Empty Chair Memorial: Months after his death, Rusty's chair still sits empty at the Collins family dining room table.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Clemente's motivation in "Do You Believe In Miracles?" His mother sees the missing Jesus statue as a symbol of her dead husband's salvation and would be devastated if she found out it was missing.
  • Every Episode Ending: Every episode ended with Jack signing off on his radio show. And every episode of that ended with "Goodnight, America, wherever you are."
  • Face Death with Dignity: In "The Execution of John Saringo," the titular murderer resolves to die calmly.
  • The Fagin: Sly, an abandoned teenager, is taken in by a man named Harry who lives in a mansion with his gang of teenaged thieves. He has his "family" do all his work for him, including selling the merchandise, so nothing can be traced back to him. Sly ends up turning him in to the police after he is beaten for messing up a car theft.
  • Fainting:
    • Jack faints upon entering the OR and seeing Devon in labor.
    • When he was a cop, Jack once fainted in the coroner's office. He insists it was just the smell of the formaldehyde.
  • Famed In-Story: Jack is well-known enough, at least in the Bay Area, that most of the people he meets have heard of him. When he's chosen to select the winning numbers in the lottery, the host refers to him as a "celebrity number-puller."
  • Family Man: Rusty was a loving father and husband who helped his kids with their homework and built model planes with them.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: J. J. Killian tells Jack "The Scorpion and the Frog," with himself as the scorpion and Jack as the frog, to explain that it's in his nature to gamble even when it hurts himself and everyone around him.
  • Fingore: The mobster Ricky Roses has hated Nick Clemente ever since Clemente cut his thumb off.
  • Flashback Effects: In "Payback," a cop remembers her partner's murder in black and white, with echoey, discordant background music. Once she is able to picture the killer's face, she starts remembering in color.
  • Flatline: Devon's father in "Fathers and Sins."
  • Follow That Car: Jack tries this with two police officers in "City of Lost Souls." Unfortunately, he's dressed as a homeless man at the time, so he only succeeds in getting himself arrested.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling:
    • Devon inherited the near-bankrupt station when she was twenty-one and was turning a profit in three years. Her brother Jimmy was an incompetent businessman and an alcoholic who died in a drunk driving accident.
    • Jack is a responsible, law-abiding citizen with no criminal record who has been working since he got out of high school. His brother Frankie is a small-time thief who spent time in prison. His sister Katie clearly has borderline personality disorder; she has a long history of short-lived relationships that failed because she rushed into them too quickly, then freaked out when her boyfriend wanted to slow down.
  • Foot-Dragging Divorcee: Eddie from "Blame It On Midnight" is divorced, but his ex-wife is still the sole beneficiary of his life insurance policy.
  • For Want of a Nail: In "Blues for Mr. Charlie," the shards from a broken bottle give a man and his girlfriend a flat tire. This sets off a chain of events that ends in two deaths and several ruined lives.
  • Freudian Excuse: John Saringo was molested by his father, and his mother was an alcoholic prostitute. He didn't even learn to read until after he was first arrested.
  • Friendly Fire: Believing that the suspect was about to pull a gun on him, Jack shot him to death. It turns out that the guy he saw in the distance was his partner, who was pulling his gun out to save Jack because the suspect was right behind him.
  • Friend on the Force: Jack's adventures frequently bring him into contact with his former coworkers, especially Lieutenant Carl Zymak.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Tex, one of the bank robbers from "Bank Job," served as a marine in Vietnam. He spent months as a POW, locked in a tiger cage, and developed severe claustrophobia as a result. He and his brother plan to flee to Mexico and get a boat, since the sea is the only place where he feels comfortable.
  • The Gambling Addict: Deacon's girlfriend in "Blood Red" can't stop gambling even when she's hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt because it's the only thing that makes her feel alive.
  • Gangland Drive-By: One of the protestors from "Take Back the Streets" dies this way.
  • Gas Chamber: One episode had Jack interviewing a condemned man before his execution via gas chamber.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Devon King. Devon was actually a fairly popular girls' name in the late 1980s, but it's rather anachronistic for someone her age.
  • Gilligan Cut: After Tina Cassidy becomes too ill to teach, Jack suggests she still attend her students' Christmas pageant. Tina refuses, but the next shot is of the pageant, with Tina in the audience.
  • Give the Baby a Father: Part of Jack's reason for proposing to Devon. He remembers what it was like to grow up fatherless and doesn't want Devon's baby to go through the same thing.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted by Tina, who reluctantly decides to have an abortion to avoid giving AIDS to her daughter. Later played straight by Devon, who decides to keep her baby even though the father is gone and having a child could seriously mess up her career.
  • Good-Guy Bar: Carmen's, where Jack hangs out with Billy after work and meets up with Deacon and Zymak to share information.
  • Grave Clouds: When Rusty's son Ethan visits his grave, the sky is bleak and overcast.
  • Guilt by Coincidence: In "A Snitch in Time," a man who matches Jack's description commits a hit-and-run while driving a car that looks like Devon's.
  • Happier Home Movie: In "Mercy Me," a man watches videos of his now-comatose son learning to walk and playing baseball.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Before Rusty was killed, he and Jack were best friends who could finish each other's sentences.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Boxing promoter Ralston J. Cashdollar from "Kid Salinas" has a long history of scams, including a used car dealership where he would turn back the odometers.
  • Hostage Situation:
    • In "Bank Job," Jack and several bystanders are taken hostage by bank robbers.
    • In "Life Without Possibility," prisoners riot and take a number of guards hostage, demanding better conditions. Jack persuades them to let the guards go and take him as a hostage instead.
  • How Unscientific!: The crying Jesus statue from "Do You Believe In Miracles?" is apparently a genuine miracle, even though nothing remotely supernatural happens in any other episode.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Skip Fillmore from "The Fall" went to college on a basketball scholarship. Five years and a failed tryout for the pros later, he returned to San Francisco a failure.
  • The Illegal:
    • Kid Salinas, aka Carlos Mendez, came to America illegally before falling under the control of a corrupt boxing promoter.
    • Alicia Flores from "Uninvited Guests" fled to America after her brother was murdered by military police. When she witnesses a murder, she doesn't want to go to the police for fear of being deported.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune
  • Insurance Fraud: In "Blame It On Midnight," Jack's Love Interest arranges for her ex-husband to be murdered and pins it on Jack so she can get the $2 million payout from his life insurance policy.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Katie Killian tries to swallow a handful of pills after her relationship with Deacon fails, since she thinks she'll never be able to have a relationship without immediately screwing it up. Jack and Deacon find her at the last minute and knock the pills out of her hand.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Deacon Bridges, a reporter played by Mykelti Williamson, sometimes helps Jack investigate.
  • It Gets Easier: After she committed her first murder, Angel couldn't sleep for two days. After that, she grew to enjoy killing.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: In "City of Lost Souls," Jack and Laurie look at some pictures of Jack during his high school years in the early 1970s.
    Laurie: You're a lot better looking without the sideburns.
    Jack: Ooh, look at that. That's the last time I'll be a slave to fashion.
    Laurie: I can see why.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: In "Payback," a hitman disguises himself as an orderly in order to kill a cop who is recovering from a previous murder attempt.
  • Justified Title: "City of Lost Souls" sounds like it refers to San Francisco, but it's actually the name of a homeless camp.
  • Kill the Poor: G. Gordon Liddy's character in "City of Lost Souls" arranges for homeless people to be murdered because he sees them as leeches.
  • Lamaze Class: Devon and Jack attend one in the third season, after Devon gets pregnant. She tells the teacher Jack is her husband to avoid having to explain the truth.
  • Large Ham: "Do You Believe in Miracles?" involves a feud between two extremely hammy mob bosses, Nick "The Chef" Clemente and Ricky Roses. Especially Nick.
  • Literary Allusion Title: "Wait Until Midnight" is a reference to Wait Until Dark, which is also about a blind woman who uses her disability to her advantage.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Emily from "Do You Believe in Miracles?" Her father even steals a statue of Jesus in the hopes that it will heal her, inadvertently kicking off the episode's plot.
  • Live but Delayed: Jack's show works like this.
    Billy: It's on a seven-second delay, so if the caller becomes abusive or obscene, you have enough time to cut him off before the call gets on the air.
    Jack: What if I become abusive or obscene?
    Billy: Then I cut you off.
  • Look Both Ways: In "Play Blotto... And Die," a hitman runs right into the path of a bus while fleeing the scene of a failed hit.
  • Loony Fan: Angel from the first episode, who is convinced that she and Jack were meant to be because they both experienced their first kill of an innocent (well, relatively speaking for Angel) on the same date.
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: J. J. won his second "wife" by gambling, and lost her the same way.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: 27 years after abandoning his family, Jack's father hears his son's radio show. He calls in to tell him, "I think I may be your father."
  • Luke, You Are My Father: In "City of Lost Souls," a seventeen-year-old girl named Laurie Windrow tells Jack he's her father. Turns out she's not actually his - she's the daughter of his high school best friend, Sonny Rote.
  • Man on Fire: The villains of "City of Lost Souls" murder homeless people by setting them on fire.
  • Maternity Crisis: Devon goes into labor in the middle of her wedding.
  • Meaningful Name: Ricky Roses from "Do You Believe In Miracles?" runs a 24-hour flower shop.
  • Monochrome Past: "Promise to a Dead Man" revolves around a murder that took place 40 years ago, with flashbacks in black and white.
  • Music Video Syndrome: Many episodes contain a scene set to popular music.
  • Named Like My Name:
    • Jack's priest is named Joe DeMaggio.
    • The father of Devon's child is named Richard Clark. He insists on being called Richard and not Dick.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The crime lord Nathan Dread in "Play Blotto... And Die."
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Jack's boss, Devon King, inherited KJCM from her father Mel, the "Laundromat King."
  • Never One Murder: In "The Added Starter," a prostitute vanishes. Since there's no evidence, the police don't believe the witness who says she was murdered, until her madam is murdered too.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: The cops think Annie imagined the murder she heard. No one believes her except Jack. Meanwhile, the cops don't pay attention to Jack, either, since they have so much other work to do.
  • Not So Different: John Saringo accuses the people gathered outside the prison of being as bad as he is, since they're celebrating another human being's death.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: In "Wait Until Midnight," a murderer puts his victim in a wheelchair, covers him with a blanket, and wheels him out to be disposed of.
  • Off the Wagon: Nearly happens in "Based on a True Story." Jack puts a cigarette in his mouth and raises the lighter, pauses for a moment, then mutters "Nah," and spits the cigarette out.
  • One Head Taller: Jack and Tina, since Gary Cole is 6 feet tall and Kay Lenz is only 5'1".
  • One Steve Limit: "Do You Believe in Miracles?" has two characters named Bob Johnson. They go by Big Bob and Little Bob.
  • Orphaned Punchline: A caller tells a joke that ends with "Pitbulls don't wear lip balm!" Irritated, Jack hangs up. . .
  • Orphaned Setup: . . .only for the next caller to start with "Two ducks and a nun get on a bus. . ."
  • Parent Never Came Back From The Store: Jack's father went out to buy a pack of cigarettes and never returned.
  • Phone-Trace Race: In "Twelve Gauge," a man calls the station to talk about his plan to kill his ex-girlfriend and himself. He hangs up when he realizes he's being traced, but Jack is able to talk him into calling again.
  • Police Brutality: Zymak is accused of beating up a black teenager in "The Reverend Soundbite." He was actually beaten during a gang initiation, and made up the lie to avoid getting in trouble with his parents.
  • Porn Stache: Zymak grows one in the third season. Deacon approves, since he has a mustache himself, but Jack thinks it looks like a caterpillar. He shaves it off two episodes later.
  • Power Hair: Devon does her hair like this in the first season, although she grows it out in the second.
  • Preppy Name: While investigating a stolen statue, J. J. Killian participates in an art auction under the name Roland Smythe Hide. His performance is so over-the-top, and his British accent so unconvincing, that his cover is blown almost immediately.
  • Previously On:
    • "A Snitch in Time (Part 2)" opens this way.
    • "Sale Away" opens with a recap of the previous episode, "Ain't Too Proud to Beg."
  • Prison Riot: In "Life Without Possibility," prisoners hear that a convict who had gained their respect has died of cancer because he was denied healthcare. They respond by rioting and taking over the cell block.
  • Promoted to Opening Titles: Deacon Bridges was only in a few episodes in the first season, but by the second season he was in the opening credits.
  • Put on a Bus: Wendy Kilbourne temporarily quit acting in 1990 to raise her family. As a result, Devon spends most of Season 3 in Tahiti. She's replaced by Nicky Molloy (Lisa Eilbacher).
  • Quitting to Get Married: Devon sells KJCM early in the third season so she can move to Tahiti with her husband and baby.
  • Race Against the Clock: In "Baby Chase," a woman kidnaps a diabetic baby who has only a few days to live without insulin. The kidnapper makes the time limit even shorter by feeding her sugary formula. By the time she's finally rescued, she's on the verge of a coma.
  • Raised Catholic: Jack is a lifelong Catholic, although he isn't very devout.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Devon and Zymak.
  • Recognizable by Sound: As Jack says in the first episode, "I may forget a face, but I never forget a voice." His ability comes in handy when criminals call the station or when he meets callers in person.
  • Recovered Addict: Jack's struggles to quite smoking are a minor subplot in the second half of the first season.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: "End of Innocence," about a woman who allows herself to be imprisoned and sends her daughter into hiding to protect her from her abusive father, is based on the Elizabeth Morgan case.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Jack's partner Rusty, who is killed off within minutes of his introduction.
  • Salt and Pepper: Jack and Deacon, when they work together. Deacon is more relaxed and outgoing than Jack, but he takes his job very seriously, which can lead to conflict when his priorities conflict with Jack's.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You:
    • The villain of "Blood Red" fires his gun into the camera.
    • During the Cold Open of "Kid Salinas," a boxer punches the camera in the face. The screen goes black, followed by the Title Sequence.
  • Self Offense: How Rusty is killed.
  • Self-Proclaimed Love Interest: Hank from "Twelve Gauge" is convinced that his ex Arden was the love of his life, but cruelly dumped him. Turns out Arden was only his physical therapist, and the two were never in a relationship at all.
  • Series Continuity Error: Most of the second-season episode "Someone to Love" is a flashback to the previous year, but Jack and Devon both have their second-season haircuts.
  • Shirtless Scene: Jack gets a couple.
  • Shock Jock: Kingston Rivers, who gets into a feud with Jack in "Trash Radio."
    Kingston: Well, frankly, Tijuana, I don't really care if I offend geeks, or gimps, or other sorry folk. And if I believed in God, I certainly wouldn't believe he created everyone equal.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: The villain of "Evil Is Live Spelled Backward" named his poodles Crockett and Tubbs. They even live on a boat, like Sonny Crockett.
  • Signing Off Catchphrase: "Goodnight, America, wherever you are."
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Jack and Marie smoke after they have sex in "Blame It On Midnight."
  • Special Guest: Roger Daltrey guest stars in "Can't Say N-N-No" as a drug-addicted rock singer who used to be in a relationship with Nicky Molloy.
  • Stalker with a Crush: In "Watching Me, Watching You," a man sees Devon while stuck next to her in a traffic jam and becomes so infatuated that he tracks her down and bugs her apartment.
  • Sting: A seven-note sting taken from the theme song's bass line plays every time Jack's show goes to commercial.
  • Struggling Single Mother: Teri Scanlon from "Blood Ties" holds jobs as a secretary and a waitress to support herself and her eleven-year-old son Brian.
  • Supreme Chef: Aldo Marino from "That's Amore" is such a great chef that an American mobster hired him after eating only one meal at the Sicilian restaurant where he worked.
  • Survivor Guilt: Jack suffers from this, and even dedicates an episode of his show to the subject.
  • Tattooed Crook: Carlos "Cha Cha" Valenzuela, an inmate from "Life Without Possibility," has the name Rosa tattooed on his fingers, a marijuana leaf on his neck, and some other tattoos on his arms that are harder to see.
  • Tears from a Stone: In "Do You Believe in Miracles?" a statue of Baby Jesus starts crying, attracting throngs of tourists.
  • The Teaser: Every episode starts with one.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Laurie Windrow is the daughter of Jack's high school prom date.
  • Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: One old man from "Old Friends" is convinced that it's 1945, and Jack is his friend Duncan Ingleheart who was wounded in Normandy.
  • Throwing the Distraction: In "Wait Until Midnight," Annie manages to knock the villain unconscious and steal his gun. When he regains consciousness, he throws his shoes across the room to make her fire in the wrong direction.
  • Titled After the Song:
    • "Midnight Caller" was originally a Badfinger song.
    • The episode "Blame It On Midnight" gets its title from a line in the Bob Seger song "Blame It On The Moon," which was used several times in "The Fall."
  • Title Theme Drop: A snippet of the Midnight Caller theme plays during "Based on a True Story."
  • To Absent Friends: In "Ethan's Call," Ethan and Jack talk about their memories of Rusty while looking through photographs of him.
  • Tomboyish Name: Devon's third-season replacement Nicky Molloy.
  • Tragic AIDS Story: Tina, who gets AIDS from a one-night stand in "After it Happened," sells most of her belongings to pay for healthcare, and finally dies in a hospice in "Someone to Love." Also, a number of side characters from "Someone to Love," including a woman who got it from a blood transfusion, another woman who tells her family she has cancer because of the stigma, and a man who was abandoned by his lover after he got sick.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: In one episode, an artist played by Pam Grier starts creating counterfeit paintings to pay off her gambling debts.
  • Trespassing to Talk: In "Play Blotto... And Die," an acquaintance of Jack's picks his lock while he's at work. Jack comes home to find him asleep on the couch.
  • Typhoid Mary: Mike Barnes from "After It Happened" has tested positive for HIV, but he continues to have promiscuous, unprotected sex, thinking that if he doesn't acknowledge his disease, he won't die from it.
  • Under New Management: After Devon moves to Tahiti, KJCM is bought by a young businesswoman named Nicky Molloy. She's a lot more business-minded and ruthless than Devon, and less willing to give Jack free rein.
  • Unwilling Suspension: The villains of "With Malice Towards One" handcuff Jack to a pipe on the ceiling while they beat and taser him.
  • Vehicle Vanish: In "The Added Starter," a hitman prepares to shoot a woman who is checking the mail when a truck drives between them. By the time it's gone, she's already vanished into an apartment.
  • Vehicular Kidnapping: The villains of "With Malice Towards One" drive a windowless blue van. They use it to kidnap Billy and beat him almost to death, and later to try to run Jack down.
  • Wedding Day: Devon marries Richard Clark in "Sale Away." She goes into labor in the middle of the ceremony, causing the priest to rush through the rest of it as quickly as possible. By the time he says, "You may kiss the bride," everyone has run out of the room.
  • While You Were in Diapers: Television mogul Kenneth Miller tells Devon, "I was interviewing presidents when you were in diapers!"
  • Whole Episode Flashback: In "Someone to Love," Jack hears that Tina is about to die of AIDS. He spends most of the episode flashing back to the previous December, when he briefly cared for her while her condition worsened.
  • Window Watcher: Devon's stalker spies on her and takes pictures from the next apartment building.
  • Wingding Eyes: Referenced by Jack: "I've heard so much about money lately, I could puke. You know, multi-million dollar ball players, multi-million dollar business deals... What the hell is wrong with this country? It's like everybody's wearing contact lenses shaped like dollar bills or something."
  • Woobie of the Week: Every episode has at least one. Even the villains are usually somewhat sympathetic.
  • Would Hurt a Child: A drug dealer in "A Cry in the Night" dangles his client's toddler in the air and threatens to drop him if he isn't paid.
  • You Killed My Father: Said word-for-word by Ethan after Jack is accused of deliberately murdering Rusty.
  • Your Cheating Heart: In "The Reverend Soundbite," Zymak admits that he is having an affair with the city supervisor. He eventually breaks it off, but by then the damage to his marriage is done.
  • Zipping Up the Bodybag: In "The Language Barrier," a Chinese man is killed in a hate crime. A cop pulls a sheet over his head before his body is carried away.

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