Night Stalker is a short-lived 2005 remake of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Due to rights issues, the series was technically not an adaptation of the series itself, but the two television films that preceded it, The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler, and was unable to use characters introduced in the series, forcing it to use original characters in place of simply adapting the series's original cast. The series was created by The X-Files alumni Frank Spotnitz, and had several X-Files writers as part of its writing team.
Carl Kolchak (Stuart Townsend) is here depicted as an investigative reporter whose reputation was shattered when his wife was killed by a supernatural entity, and he was blamed in spite of his protests, and committed to a mental asylum. After being released, he moved to Los Angeles and joined The LA Beacon, a local newspaper. Kolchak now investigates supernatural phenomena, hoping to piece it together and figure out who killed his wife. The rest of the main cast consists of his coworkers; his boss Tony Vincenzo (Cotter Smith); Perri Reed (Gabrielle Union), the skeptical head crime reporter who develops an Odd Friendship with Kolchak; and Jain McManus (Eric Junggman), an open-minded photographer.
The series was panned by fans and critics for failing to recapture the original series's charm, tension, or quality, and generally being a bland rip-off of The X-Files with no identity of its own. The series also received extensive meddling from executives who didn't want any monsters in the show, didn't promote it at all, and aired it at 9 PM on Thursday. All these factors resulted in the series being quietly cancelled after only six episodes aired; the remaining episodes were released on iTunes and on various streaming websites, including ABC's own website.
This series provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adaptational Attractiveness: The series was criticized for casting the young and handsome Stuart Townshend as Kolchak, as part of the original series's charm was that Kolchak was not particularly handsome, which helped make him feel more relatable and like an average joe, adding to the original series's charm.
- Ambiguously Evil: Word of God is that Kolchak's character arc was supposed to reveal that he may actually be one of the monsters he fights.
- Beard of Evil: Damon Caylor, the evil cult leader from "The Five People You Meet In Hell", sports a goatee.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: In "The Five People You Meet In Hell", imprisoned cult leader Damon Caylor somehow gains the ability to gradually brainwash people by making them see their dead loved ones, who eventually convince the target to murder their family.
- Cop Killer: The mysterious biker gang in "The Sea" took on LAPD SWAT elements sent to ensure the safety of Linda Caleca. Frank Spotnitz mentioned that they're suppose to represent the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse if the series was not canned from bad ratings.
- Dead All Along: Detective Mitchell in "The Five People You Meet In Hell" turns out to have died several months ago; the Mitchell we saw was one of Caylor's illusions, sent to brainwash Detective Granof into killing his wife.
- Deadpan Snarker: Vincenzo, Kolchak, and Reed, though Kolchak isn't as snarky as he was in the original series.
- Disability Superpower: It's implied Damon Caylor always had psychic powers, but being scarred and blinded during an attempt on his life by fellow prisoners somehow amplified these powers.
- Eye Scream: Damon Caylor was blinded and disfigured when some prisoners threw hot oil on his face in an attempt to kill him.
- Foreshadowing: Throughout "The Five People You Meet In Hell", Detective Granof is the only person to interact with Detective Mitchell. This is because Mitchell is dead, and the Mitchell we've been seeing is an illusion conjured up by Damon Caylor.
- He Who Fights Monsters: FBI Agent Doug Panero in "The Burning Man", who became a copycat of the serial killer he helped take down.
- Jack the Ripoff: "The Burning Man" is about a copycat of the titular serial killer going on the loose years after the original's death, and Kolchak suspects that the copycat is actually the real deal back from the dead. He turns out to be wrong; it's actually the FBI agent who hunted the killer, having suffered from a case of He Who Fights Monsters.
- Mind Rape: Damon Caylor's M.O. He uses his psychic powers to get inside people's heads and see what they love, and slowly condition them to do whatever he tells them.
- Myth Arc: Kolchak investigate what happened to his wife while working with Perri and Jain on their LA Beacon beat.
- Mythology Gag: Perri browsing the internet in "Pilot" shows various webpages that detail Carl's journalist experience in Las Vegas.
- Never My Fault: In "The Five People You Meet In Hell" imprisoned cult leader Damon Caylor blames the people who got him convicted for killing his wife for her death. The reason he killed her was because she had been convinced by them to testify against him while he was being tried for another crime, convincing his followers to decapitate a guy, and he claims it wasn't his fault because they "turned her against me."
- Noun Verber: Night stalker.
- Vigilante Execution: At the end of "The Five People You Meet In Hell", the authorities lock Damon Caylor in a room with several other prisoners, all of whom hate his guts, well aware they will likely kill him. They do.