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Series / 1-800-Missing

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1 - 800 - Missing (2003-2006) is a crime drama centered on Jessica Mastriani (Caterina Scorsone), who acquires psychic abilities after being hit by lightning. She uses the clues from her psychic visions to help the FBI locate missing persons. At first, Jess is unable to control her psychic abilities, and the dreams she gets after seeing pictures of missing persons are full of symbolism and often difficult to interpret. She becomes better able to control and understand her visions as the series goes on.

After the first season, the show was retooled, which included replacing the supporting characters, making the dynamic more ensemble-based, replacing the theme tune with something more upbeat, and changing the title to just Missing.note 

The cast included Gloria Reuben as Jess' partner FBI Agent Brooke Haslett, Justina Machado as FBI Agent Sunny Estrada, and Dean McDermott as Assistant Director Alan Coyle in the first season, then Vivica A. Fox as Jess' partner FBI Agent Nicole Scott, Mark Consuelos as FBI Agent Antonio Cortez, and Justin Louis as Assistant Director John Pollock in the second and third seasons.

Altogether, the show lasted three seasons on Lifetime in the U.S. (airing on A and later WNetwork in Canada). So far, only the second season has been released on DVD.

1-800-Missing is based on the YA novel series 1-800-Where-R-U by Meg Cabot, but shares few similarities beyond the basic premise. This is lampshaded in the later books, where the TV show exists in-universe and many characters watch it, but talk about how it has no basis in Jess' real experiences.

Provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Brooke Haslet in Season 1. Jess becomes one in Season 2, and her partner Nicole Scott is one as well. Agent Scott is sufficiently badass that Assistant Director Pollock claimed that unless up against a battalion of Russian armor, his money was on Scott
  • Artifact Title: The title of the book series, 1-800-WHERE-R-YOU, refers to a missing persons hotline that plays an important role in the story. The "1-800" in the series title is an artifact to connect it to the book series, but does not describe anything in the TV show itself. (This was probably a contributing factor to the title change.)
    • Though the title was more or less an Artifact Title for the books too as they went along, which is why they are being re-issued as Vanished.
  • Bad Humor Truck: One turns up in "The Last Stop", as the basis for a fake armored car used in a bank robbery. Agent Cortez notes that the "armor" is 1/8 in sheet tin, which "wouldn't stop hard rain."
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Jess and Jack Burgess.
  • Berserk Button: Pollack is a sucker for families and targeting one in any way is a surefire way to piss him off.
  • Book Ends: In the first episode of Season 2, which was also the first episode of the retooled series, Agent Scott makes Jess check whether her weapon is loaded before entering the house of a potentially dangerous suspect. During the final episode of Season 3, which was the last episode of the retooled series, she does the same right before they go in a location where they think a missing person is being kept.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Standard-issue when storming buildings, usually worn underneath the FBI jackets. Notably, after a vision that showed that either her or Scott would get shot rescuing a hostage, Jess doubles up on body armour and forces the issue, since she knew she'd get shot in the chest. She later notes that she has massive bruising on her chest.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Jess, once she becomes an agent. This is mostly because, as a rookie, she's still learning the ropes and is nervous about getting things wrong, in contrast to Nicole's more experienced abilities in how to size up a situation and figure out when breaking or bending the rules is a more efficient or effective way of getting things done.
  • Could Say It, But...: An Amoral Attorney who's harrased the team the entire episode comments that "São Paulo, Brazil" is "nice this time of year" after stating that she could not compromise attorney-client privilege.
  • Da Chief: Assistant Director John Pollock in Seasons 2&3.
  • Deadpan Snarker: John Pollock in Seasons 2 & 3.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration Agent Scott hijacks a pizza delivery to get a bad guy to open the door. Interestingly, the bad guy actualy had ordered the pizza, the FBI just showed up in time to "borrow" the pizza. Earlier, in season 1, a pizza delivery guy was Mugged for Disguise to get out of a building.
  • Dirty Cop: One shows up in the first season as the Bad Guy of the Week. Season Two's "Cop Out" goes up to eleven with the Ridgeport Police Department, which is all dirty. They murder any officer who tries to come clean, even their own deputy police chief, and sends a hit squad after an investigating officer from another departmant.
  • Downer Ending: The last episode seems like it's ending on a happy note, then Antonio gets into his car and it blows up.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Gayle the Amoral Attorney is downright proud of what she's helped people get away with, but when Pollack details the crimes her client committed against a young boy, she indirectly tells Pollack where he's running.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Pollack is a generally selfish person, but he has a particular disdain for people who hurt their own spouses in any way. Both times it happens, he outright threatens to kill the perpetrator unless they follow his orders directly.
  • Exact Words: In "Mr. Nobody", Jess tells a woman who hired a hitman that if she gives up the target, she won't be charged as an accessory. When the woman gives up the target, Jess points out that the actual crime for hiring a hitman is solicitation and arrests her for that instead.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: Brooke does this in "Basic Training" to get the attention of someone about to shoot Jess.
  • Foster Kid: Nicole Scott. She had a rough time in the system, resulting in every case involving children becoming a case of It's Personal.
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: In the second and third seasons, at least for pistols:
    • The main characters-FBI agents and therefore good guys- use Glocks
    • Characters of indeterminate loyalty or minor bad guys carry Beretta 92s.
    • Bad guys carry SIG P226s, the episode Big Bad getting a shiny stainless-steel slide on his.
      • Shiny guns are generally evil, though Jess and Nicole both have shiny slides on their back-up guns.
  • Hidden Depths: At first glance, Pollack seems like nothing more than a transparently arrogant douchebag who cares for nothing but himself and can't back up his boasts. Over time, however, he gradually peels back his layers to reveal a surprisingly complicated person, even while never letting up on the arrogant posturing; he clearly cares for his agents, gives Jess a genuine hug after a traumatic experience, loves children (and they love him back), and despite not claiming any adherence to any personal faith, he's well-versed in religions and cultures across the world.
  • Hypocrite: "Basic Training" has a lot of it.
    • Private Faber says that eliminating cadets who are performing poorly is justified because soldiers need to be the best of the best, but spends so much time bragging and gloating that Jess knocks him out with a single punch. He also maintains that he's not a murderer because no one pushed Valerie to her death (she fell on her own), then immediately tries to push Jane to her death.
    • He and Brittney both maintain to the end that Jess and Juanita deserve to die for doing poorly, even though they passed the supposed "test" by surviving the entire night and the cadets can only stop them by surrounding them with assault rifles.
  • Insistent Terminology: Jess is not psychic, she just gets visions. Everyone else asks if there's any difference.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Pollack is a self-admitted jackass whose first concern, even when other people's lives are at risk, is almost always his own self-interest. On the other hand, his self-interest and justice tend to align, he's a Friend to All Children, and does his best to keep everyone alive whether or not they agree with his methods.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A smarmy kidnapper flees the country for Brazil, and is promptly kidnapped upon arrival. It's revealed that Assistant Director Pollock called a friend in the Brazilian millitary and arranged the kidnapping
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Jess Mastriani acquired Psychic Powers after being hit by lightning.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • In "Never Go Against The Family", the local police force the FBI off the organized crime case as part of their dangerous plan, but they keep Jess around for their own use. When they eventually lose track of Jess, the FBI gets around this by reporting her missing and assigning Brooke to that file instead.
    • In "Sisterhood", Nicole's nephew goes missing and she and Jess want to go investigate. Pollock reminds Nicole that it is against Bureau policy to take the lead on a case involving a relative. When she asks if he's ordering her to stand down, he tells her that he's merely suggesting that it might be an opportune time for her to take some vacation in the Midwest. (Since she's technically visiting family and not working as an active agent, she isn't in violation of policy.)
  • Mail-Order Bride: The plot of "Ties That Bind" deals with a mail order bride who leaves the man she was supposed to marry and to be with someone else, then goes missing.
  • Military Academy: "Basic Training" had Jess go undercover at the George Washington Academy to investigate a disappearance. Doubles as a Boarding School of Horrors, with little adult supervision (a Drill Sergeant Nasty) and a cadet corp who are total jerks. Turns out that Training Accidents are regular as some cadets try to weed out anyone who doesn't meet their own standards.
  • Odd Couple: Jess and Nicole.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Jess gets this regarding her mother's boyfriend in "Ties That Bind."
  • Police Psychic: Jess receives Psychic Powers from being struck by lightning, and is subsequently employed by an FBI Task Force since her visions often contain clues that can be used to find missing persons.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: In "Lost Sister," Jess and Jack are undercover trying to sell counterfeit designer bags. In order to make sure their product is high-quality, they use actual designer bags. The man they're trying to bust complains that the stitching is wrong and the straps are too narrow. (It's possible that he doesn't actually see anything wrong with them, however, and is just inventing flaws to bargain them down to a lower price.)
  • Replaced the Theme Tune
  • Retool: See the show description above.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Pollack pulls this maneuver on Stephen Dawson in "Off The Grid", telling him that he could freely murder the PI right in his office and he'd be able to pull strings to get away with it.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye; AD Pollock likes doing this to the team in the second and third seasons. According to Agent Cortez, he silicones his shoes just to sneak up on people.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: "Off The Grid" originally has a plainly happy ending - the perp, the victm's husband, has been caught, the victim is safe, and Jess is enjoying a date with another agent. Then Jess gets a vision that the husband is going to kill her, and he shoots her to death just seconds before the FBI can save her.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted, Sonny sees a therapist after getting kidnapped and strapped to a bomb, and AD Pollock orders Jess to a Bureau psychologist after her first kill.
  • Undercover as Lovers: In "Lost Sister," Jess and Jack go undercover as a pair of married swingers, much to Jess' chagrin.
  • Wait Here: In the first episode, Brooke tells Jess to wait in the car while she checks out the scene. Jess doesn't.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Jess gets called out on this in the first episode by a missing girl she finds, who it turns out ran away with her father because her mother died and she didn't think her father could legally get custody.
  • Wire Dilemma: In "White Whale", is it the red wire or the black one? Made interesting by the insane wiseguy who built it, as Moby-Dick provides the clue to disarms it.