Follow TV Tropes


Series / The Dresden Files

Go To

A TV adaption of The Dresden Files.

Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden (Paul Blackthorne) is Chicago's only practicing professional wizard, solving supernatural mysteries to pay the bills, and occasionally helping out the Special Investigations unit of the Chicago PD, led by Constanza "Connie" Murphy (Valerie Cruz). He's assisted by Hrothbert of Bainbridge (Terrence Mann), or Bob, the ghost of a medieval wizard who was condemned to his own skull as punishment for breaking the Laws of Magic.

Other characters include Bianca (Joanne Kelly), the sexy vampiress in charge of one of Chicago's more illicit establishments; Kirmani (Raoul Bhaneja), a skeptical cop working under Murphy; and Morgan (Conrad Coates), the High Council's chief enforcer, who hounds Harry, believing him to be a warlock waiting to happen.

It was aired on the Sci Fi Channel in 2007 and lasted twelve episodes before being canceled.

This TV series provides examples of:

  • Accent Slip-Up: In the episode "Bad Blood", in a flashback, English actor Paul Blackthorne as American Harry Dresden is pure Shropshire for a sentence when speaking of how he travelled around with his late father 'uh lawwt'.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: A couple of cases.
    • In the books Bianca is a high-ranking villainous vampire. In the show, she's much more sympathetic and she and Harry end up on the same side more often than not. They even had a sexual relationship in the past, something that the book versions of both characters would strongly object to.
    • Morgan in the books, while technically a good guy, was a Lawful Stupid Inspector Javert who watched Harry like a hawk waiting for the slightest excuse to chop off his head, and was more than willing to the Merlin's bidding in provoking Harry into giving him an excuse. The TV version doesn't trust Harry but wants to help the innocent too, which leaves them begrudgingly on the same side more often than not, while having a problem with how visible he makes himself, and the amount of kablooey his larger battles cause. Also, the not trusting him bit isn't purely because he killed Justin in self defense like in the books, but also because he was taught by Justin in the first place. This Morgan is far from Harry's biggest fan, but we go from demanding Harry's head on a platter to being concerned about him.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • The skinwalker in the first episode is still a credible threat, but it's toned down considerably from the Eldritch Abomination whose mere existence is a Brown Note to Harry's magical senses that we see in the books. Notably, the episode aired two years before the book featuring them was released.
    • The one Black Court Vampire to appear in the series gets his neck snapped effortlessly by Bianca, in the books they're the most physically powerful variety of vampire.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Murphy goes from blonde in the books to brunette in the show, while Susan goes from brunette to blonde (see also Race Lift).
  • Adaptation Name Change: Murphy's first name goes from Karrin to Connie because there was a real Chicago cop named Karen Murphy.
  • Affably Evil: Bianca, who seems to have genuine affection for Harry (they're ex-lovers) and who disapproves of supernatural drugs like Third Eye. She is still a vampire running what is almost certainly a brothel, and she makes it clear that she may have to kill Dresden one day, and indeed she does attack Harry in "Storm Front" when he accuses her of being responsible for the deaths of the three girls.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Harry calls Hrothbert of Bainbridge 'Bob'.
  • Agent Scully: Murphy has trouble believing in the supernatural, even when Harry tells her about stuff.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "When I cast a tracking spell, I never know where it's going to take me. So I always brace myself for the worst: death, depravity, horror, the suburbs..."
  • Behind the Black: Literally. In the DVD commentary the creators explicitly state that, with regards to how Morgan appears and disappears without being noticed, "the editor likes him" and cuts away from him whenever he needs to not be seen. Morgan himself explains that he uses magic to make Harry not see him, as opposed to actually turning invisible.
  • Blatant Lies: Harry insisting that magic and the supernatural don't exist to Murphy, apparently as a way of getting around the prohibition on talking about magic with Muggles.
  • Broken Hero: Harry is feared and hated by his own kind and distrusted by normals.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Harry. Lampshaded in "Rules of Engagement": Bob grills Harry on why he is still involved in the case, even though he's not being paid, the murder victim has turned out to be a demon, and the girl he's trying to save gave him a Tap on the Head rather than be rescued.
  • The Commandments: The Seven Laws of Magic.
  • Composite Character:
    • Creator Robert Wolfe said that Morgan was intended to be a blend of his book self and Michael as 'the badass with a sword'.
    • Bob is an mix of his book self, Ebenezar McCoy and Thomas Raith by being Harry's teacher and only remaining 'family'.

    • Sid Kirmani is a composite of every cop who thinks Harry is a fraud conning the dept. and/or reluctantly works with him because he gets results, despite their misgivings. In personality he's closest to Det. Carmichael, but is young and dapper like Det. Rudolph.
    • Ancient Mai is a composite of the entire White (High) Council, plus the lion's share of Morgan's anti-Dresden zealotry.
    • Bianca fulfills Lara's role of sexy head vamp and Susan's as doomed vampire love interest.
    • Justin Morningway combines both adopted father/teacher Justin DuMorne and the Leanansidhe as "evil yet caring, in an evil way, family member".
    • Heather has composite traits of the various werewolves in Fool Moon and Susan's plotline from the books (bitten by a supernatural critter, having to leave because her growing connection with Harry puts him at risk, and Harry vowing to research a cure even though it's likely impossible).
  • Cute Monster Girl: Heather becomes one over the course of "Hair of the Dog."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone at points, but most especially Bob. As Jim Butcher put it, being locked up in the skull for a couple hundred years with no way to affect the world has left Bob with "a nuclear arsenal of snide."
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The pilot episode was actually broadcast as the 8th, and follows the book it was based on a lot more than it follows the series. Bob is strangely non-present (his scenes being cut because in the pilot, he was just a talking skull and not the ghost we see in the rest of the series), his office and lab look differently and his lab is even in a different place. He has a cat like in the book, and his interaction with Murphy is noticeably missing some of the character development done earlier in the series.
  • Everybody Lives: Aside from the initial murder that kicks off the plot no one dies in "Rules of Engagement."
  • Evil Uncle: Justin, who was just an Evil Mentor in the books, is Harry's uncle in the TV show.
  • Exposition of Immortality:
    • In one episode, Bianca refers to a building as an enemy's "hideout." Harry jokes that she sounds like a 30s gangster moll when she says that, and she retorts she was a 30s gangster moll.
    • One of Bianca's girls calls Harry "Mr. Wizard," and Harry says she can't possibly be old enough to remember that show—to which she points out she is 57.
  • Eye Scream: in the episode Walls, Harry links his sight and hearing to a trio of wasps by having them sting him in the ear and eye. Ouchie.
  • Girl of the Week: Harry has these, a stark contrast to his book counterpart.
  • Haunted Fetter: Bob is bound to his skull.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Harry in spades. Normals think he is either crazy or a con-man and other wizards are convinced he is a dangerous Black Magic user like his mentor Justin (whom Harry accidentally killed with Hollywood Voodoo after learning Justin murdered his father).
  • I'm Standing Right Here: In fact Bianca is lying right there on Harry's couch as Bob rants about how stupid it is to help a vampire.
  • Jerkass: Morgan and Ancient Mai, who are supposed to be the good guys.
  • The Kindnapper: The first broadcast episode has a Skinwalker posing as a teacher to kidnap a young boy from his single mother, who understandably doesn't take it well when the kid is kidnapped by a clan of Ravens who are actually trying to protect him.
  • Lighter and Softer: Than the books, which had scarier villains, darker themes and more death and pain. In its defense, it was still on its first season.
  • Magic Tool: Harry uses a drumstick as a wand and a hockey stick as a staff.
  • Man, I Feel Like a Woman: Subverted in "The Boone Identity." When Boone bodyswaps with Murphy, he looks down and reaches towards her breasts, but only to (rather uncomfortably) adjust her bra. He sourly notes, "This will be interesting," with no prurient undertones.
  • Masquerade: As Harry puts it, the High Council's policy is that if you don't already know about the supernatural, you don't get to know. In one episode, Morgan starts to say, about Murphy, that something will have to be done because she found out about the High Council, but Harry cuts him off and says if anything happens to her, he'll make them sorry.
  • Older Sidekick: Bob, to Harry. Several centuries older, actually.
  • Older Than They Look: Ancient Mai appears to be a woman in her 20s, except occasionally when her composure slips. Harry speculates that she might be a dragon at one point, and she neither confirms nor denies it.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Harry used the Black all of one time, in self defense at that, but Morgan and Mai treat him like he's a mass murderer and any time black magic is used in the city they immediately accuse Harry. Only the lack of proof (which obviously doesn't exist) prevents them from killing him on the spot. (In Morgan's case, this actually softens him from the books - he's ready to kill Harry at a moment's notice without evidence. This Morgan, while distrustful of the relative and former student of a Big Bad who has at least once used black magic and has no regard for The Masquerade or property damage, will work with him for the greater good.)
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Immortal, shapeshifting creatures who breathe green fire.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Bob, bound to his own skull as punishment for using black magic in life. Although he can walk through walls and vanish into thin air, he looks rather more solid than most depictions of ghosts.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Red and Black Court are mentioned as distinct, but the show doesn't go into detail as to how except that they "don't get along."
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Called "lycanthropes," they're uncontrollable shapeshifters who want to kill and eat anything they can catch. You become one by being bitten by a lycanthrope, and you can stop being a lycanthrope by killing 9 others from the same bloodline (the show doesn't make it clear as to whether it has to be your own lycanthropic bloodline). Alternatively, there's an elixir which apparently cuts down on the effects.
  • Portal Cut: Happens in the episode Walls, when an item enchanted to let people walk through walls fails at a bad time.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • In the original pilot Bob was, as in the books, merely a talking skull. When it was determined that this simply would not work for a TV audience they cast an actual actor and re-wrote his backstory (Now a ghost instead of spirit of intellect) so that he and Harry could have face-to-face conversations.
    • Harry's staff was re-imagined as a hockey stick he re-purposed to serve the same role because he's trying to keep a low profile (which also led to his costuming being simplified). Not only is it not odd for a guy in Chicago to carry one around (maybe he's a Blackhawks fan), should it be damaged or destroyed it's easier to replace.
    • His "Blasting Rod" was replaced with a drumstick, used as a wand.
    • The Blue Beetle was replaced with a run-down old Army Jeep, because it's actually really difficult for a man as tall as Harry to keep getting in and out of one of the smaller cars on the planet. Jim Butcher also remarked that the larger size of a Jeep makes the camerawork a lot easier.
  • Race Lift:
    • Short, blonde Irish Karrin Murphy became Constanza "Connie" Murphy in favour of a Cuban-American actress. It works. Susan Rodriguez goes the opposite direction, switching from a tall, Hispanic woman to a short (Well, shorter than Dresden), blonde woman. The reason for this, and the Adaptation Dye-Job mentioned above, is that the producers had originally recruited each actress for the opposite part before switching them.
    • Morgan, who is described as an older man, and is depicted as white in the comic book adaptations, is a young-ish looking black man.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Bob is apparently a real sucker for sappy foreign romance films.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Oddly averted in "Storm Front," when Detective Kirmani picks up Harry's holy water pistol and jokingly asks if he has a permit for it. Despite the fact that the gun is yellow, plastic, and obviously a toy, Kirmani's finger stays outside of the trigger guard, presumably out of sheer habit.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Ancient Mai when she gets angry (Or angrier than usual.)
  • Scary Black Man: Morgan.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Every other villain - and the hero's sidekick. Bob is a damned and cursed soul, damned and cursed for trying to resurrect his dead love. When released from his eternal prison he saves Harry instead of killing him and gets sealed back in the can for his troubles.
  • Secretly Wealthy: This iteration of Harry. Harry was the sole heir to Justin Morningway's estate, but refused to claim any part of it, due to certain... issues between them.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Susan, since she does not have her own storyline like she did in the books (possibly an artifact of the series' short run).
  • Shout-Out: "Let me guess, a few years ago you were a Jedi knight, now you're a wizard named Harry. Must be good publicity, but couldn't you have thought of something a bit more original?"
    • There's an in-universe pop culture reference in Things That Go Bump:
    Amber: I may be expendable, but you're the usual suspect.
    • Kirmani also scoffs, when Harry goes missing, that he's "probably on a weekend pass to Middle Earth".
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Part of Bob's backstory.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Morgan loves doing this, and Harry assumes that he is teleporting. When Harry finally asks how it is done, Morgan explains that he is not teleporting, and it is not technically invisibility, but that he makes Harry not see him.
  • Tamer and Chaster:
    • In the books, especially the early ones, Harry constantly obsesses about about women's bodies, in particular their breasts, and he tends to undress them with his eyes. This is mostly absent from the series. Of course, the series' external point-of-view means we are not as privy to his thoughts as in the books, but there are few hints that he might be thinking that way.
    • At least the mundane women tend to dress more modestly (and realistically) than their book counterparts. In particular, women in the series generally seem to wear bras and don't have the "tips of their breasts" on display as in the books.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: In the series, Harry is a former lover of Bianca, the local head of the Red Court. In the novels the Red Court have a more violent and predatory relationship with humans.
  • We Help the Helpless: Harry does what he does 'Because I can.'
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?:
    • In one episode, Harry is reading a book about magical artifacts and tries to say "Le Main De Gloire"note  and butchers the French horribly. (Even pronouncing the word for hand like the English word "main".) Bob lampshades it immediately.
    • Heather from "Hair of the Dog" also has a strange accent, sounding vaguely Irish at times.
    • Harry himself is not immune, as actor Paul Blackthorne occasionally suffers from a bit of garbled pronunciation in his fake American accent.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Harry, occasionally. When Bianca kills a Black Court Vampire, Harry steps back from the body. After she gives him a look, he says he always expects them to burst into flames or something, and blames Hollywood for that. Bianca just rolls her eyes.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Harry says this a lot to both wizards and mundanes. Mostly they don't.