The Crow is a television adaptation of The Crow, itself the film adaptation of the original comic. Produced by Bryce Zabel and starring Mark Dacascos, the series ran for a single 22-episode season in 1998-99.
The series follows Eric Draven, a murdered man who has risen from the grave to get vengeance on the murderers of both him and his fiance Shelly. When Eric is enraged or under stress, his super-powered Crow personality comes out, giving him the ability to fight evil.
Unlike the source material, Eric's Crow personality is confined to an alter-ego, and he's otherwise able to function more or less normally. The series also prolongs the timeline, with Eric engaging in multiple plot lines while under the gun to "put right what was wrong" before Shelly is forced to move on in the afterlife, preventing him from ever reuniting with her. Of course, the series is also Lighter and Softer to make it acceptable for broadcast television at the time, with most of the shocking violence and drug references removed.
This series contains examples of the following tropes:
- Action Girl: Hannah Foster, the first female avenger to be reborn through the crow in the franchise.
- A Day in the Limelight: "Disclosure" for Eric's friend Shea, and "Dead To Rights" for Albrecht's boss Lieutenant Vincennes.
- Alcoholic Parent: Darla to Sarah. In the comic and film she was a drug addict, but this was softened for television.
- Back from the Dead: Eric, of course, at the start of the first episode. There are a few other examples throughout the series, including Talon in "Birds of a Feather" and possibly Shelly at the end of the final episode.
- Big Bad: Top Dollar. Even after being killed by Eric.
- Blood Knight: Hannah Foster, aka Talon (the second Crow in the series).
- Bouncer: Funnily enough, Eric starts working as one at the Black Out club where his band used to play (and still plays).
- By-the-Book Cop: Lt. David Vincennes.
- Commissioner Gordon: Albrecht, even more so than in the movie due to being a detective rather than a beat cop.
- Cool Bike: Eric owns one.
- Da Chief: Lt. Vincennes.
- Deadpan Snarker: The Skull Cowboy. And Eric's Crow half.
- Don't Make Me Destroy You: Eric.
- Ethereal White Dress: Shelly's primary costume for the series is the commitment ceremony dress she was wearing when she and Eric were killed.
- Evil Counterpart: If a Crow murders the person(s) who killed him/her, that person will return as a supernatural being called a "Snake".
- A Crow can become a Snake if they kill an innocent.
- Genre Savvy: Albrecht. He immediately realizes that Sarah is hiding something when she immediately agrees to go to school.
- Heel–Face Turn: Funboy, eventually becoming The Atoner.
- Immortality Immorality: What the Lazarus group is involved with.
- It's a Wonderful Plot: The episode "It's a Wonderful Death".
- Lighter and Softer: In comparison to the Brandon Lee movie, which was in turn lighter and softer than the original comic (yes, really).
- Magic Music: In one episode.
- Mind Rape: Eric does this to Top Dollar in lieu of killing him in the first episode.
- Mythology Gag: The way Eric and Shelly die at the end of Eric's third chance in "It's a Wonderful Death" is similar to how they died in the original comic, with the pair being forced out of their vehicle by the gang, who shoot Eric in the head before gang raping and killing Shelly.
- Reincarnation: In one episode, Eric undergoes hypnotic regression, which reveals that he and Shelly were Starcrossed Lovers in a past life in the 1800s. In this lifetime, Eric was a Native American brave named Black Feather, while Shelly was a preacher's daughter. Interestingly, Black Festher also sufferered an untimely death and was resurrected by The Crow.
- Superpowered Alter Ego: The Crow persona is this for Eric.
- Superpowered Evil Side: In the series finale, the Crow becomes this for Eric.
- Trickster Mentor: The Skull Cowboy is this to Eric.
- Vigilante Man: Eric.
- You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!: Eric.