Follow TV Tropes


Series / Third Watch

Go To

Third Watch was a series about the police officers, firefighters and paramedics of New York's Emergency Services, who worked the 3-11pm shift (the "third watch"). Focusing on the fictional 55th Precinct, the police station and fire house were just across the street from each other at "Camelot", on the corner of King and Arthur. The series dealt with both the personal and professional lives of the squads, and their relationships with each other.

As the series went on, storylines began concentrating more and more on the NYPD, and the FDNY characters were often forgotten. Most of the paramedics had left by the end of the 5th season, and the series itself ended after 6 years in 2005. Nevertheless Third Watch won critical acclaim for its realism and grit, and for the post-9/11 episodes which showed how the characters dealt with the tragedy.

The main cast included:

  • Michael Beach as senior paramedic Monte "Doc" Parker (1-5): A widower and "the best paramedic in the city", Doc always took things too seriously and often felt guilt and remorse at his actions. He was partnered with Carlos, then Kim, then Carlos again.
  • Bobby Cannavale as Paramedic Bobby Caffey (1-2): Always trying to help people, be it is his junkie brother or someone else. Was in love with partner Kim.
  • Eddie Cibrian as Firefighter Jimmy Doherty (1-5): Ex-husband of Kim and father of their son, Joey. Good looking and excellent at his job but incapable of remaining faithful.
  • Kim Raver as Paramedic Kim Zambrano (1-5, 6): Ex-wife of Jimmy Doherty, she finds herself going back to him time and time again. Was devasted when Bobby was murdered, but made friends with Alex before getting back together with Jimmy.
  • Anthony Ruivivar as Paramedic Carlos Nieto (1-6): Was the FDNY rookie at the start of the show, and the only paramedic to stay with the show through its entire run, Carlos was an arrogant, self opinionated man who originally wanted to go to medical school, but later decided to remain as a paramedic. Was partnered with Doc and then later Grace. Married Holly in the finale.
  • Amy Carlson as Firefighter/Paramedic Alex Taylor (2-4): A firefighter like her father, she was also trained as a paramedic and would work on both squads. Lost her father on 9/11.
  • Cara Buono as Paramedic Grace Foster (5-6): Recently transferred to the 55, previously worked at Bed-Stuy. Partnered with Carlos and dating Brendan Finney.
  • Yvonne Jung as Paramedic Holly Levine (5-6): The "kooky" one who wore her ex-husband's ashes in a necklace. Fell in love with and married Carlos.


  • Skipp Sudduth as Officer John "Sully" Sullivan (1-6): Sully's the veteran cop, he's seen and done it all. Partnered with his old partner's son, Ty Davis Jr. Was married to Tatiana before she was murdered, and became an alcoholic afterwards.
  • Coby Bell as Officer Tyrone Davis, Jr (1-6): Started off as the rookie, a cop like his dad who was accepted to law school. However Davis preferred life on the beat. He was partnered with his dad's old partner Sully.
  • Jason Wiles as Officer Maurice "Bosco" Boscorelli (1-6): The "gung-ho" one who hated boring calls. Originally partnered with Faith, who treated him as her third child at times. Was later involved with Cruz.
  • Molly Price as Officer/Detective Faith Yokas (1-6): Originally partnered with Bosco, she juggled her life as a wife and mother with that of a cop. Her job caused tensions with her husband and they later divorced.
  • Chris Bauer as Fred Yokas (1-6): Faith's (ex-)husband, who wasn't happy about her job. Did not like Bosco.
  • Bonnie Dennison as Emily Yokas (4-6): Faith and Fred's oldest child, brother to Charlie. Often resented her mother missing events due to work but lived with her after the divorce.
  • Tia Texada as Sergeant Maritza Cruz (4-6): Originally an anti-crime sergeant, she and Faith clashed at every opportunity. Was often corrupt and not exactly orthodox.
  • Nia Long as Officer/Detective Sasha Monroe (4-6): An undercover IAB detective trying to trap Sgt Cruz. She dated Ty Davis and after the series ran for the city council.
  • Josh Stewart as Officer Brendan Finney (6): Another son of a cop who became a cop. Was partnered with Ty Davis during the show's final season. Married Grace Foster.

This show provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Marcel Hollis may be ruthless in his pursuit of taking control of all of the local gangs, but he is nothing if not impeccably pleasant and polite, which, as Cruz notes, makes him exponentially more dangerous than simple brutes like his predecessor, Darren Maddox.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Used very disturbingly in the episode A Call for Help.
    How'd you cut your hand, Tommy?
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • "A Call for Help" is built on this; by the end of the episode, we are still left with a lot of questions as to exactly who Tommy is and the full extent of what he and Jeremy (if, indeed, he actually was Tommy's partner) may have done, and why he killed Jeremy.
    • Did Captain Finney commit suicide, or was he killed by other Dirty Cops?
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Sully could be a bit jaded, but he was in general kind and caring. When his wife Tatiana and her adult son were executed by the Russian mafia, he was asked to wear a wire and confront the local boss to try and get incriminating evidence. Doubting that the man would see any real jail time, Sully chose instead to attend the meeting, begin to loudly warn the man to drop his gun, and proceed to straight up murder him. Then before backup could enter, he planted a stolen gun in the man's hand to 'prove' self-defense. He got away with it, too.
  • Bottle Episode:
    • "Ohio" has all of the characters babysitting a Clinton vs. Giuliani debate at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The only sets are the street outside of the hotel, the kitchen, and the Parking Garage.
    • "Last Call" is set almost entirely in a secluded cabin and the surrounding woods and has only six characters, of which the only prominent ones are Sully, Bosco, Doc, and Ty.
    • "A Call for Help" combines this with The Oner. Aside from the protagonists, there is only one other character, not counting voices and a dead body, and the set consists of just alleyways and yards along an empty suburban street in Amherst.
  • Breather Episode: After Bobby's death the episode "The Self Importance of Being Carlos" is largely this with a fairly comedic take on his struggle to find compassion. Though being Third Watch it does still feature the deaths of two elderly victims of a car accident early on.
  • The Bus Came Back: All of the former characters that had sense left came back for the finale, though some were just cameos. This also averted Estranged Soap Family as Kim and Jimmy came back for Carlos and Holly's wedding.
  • Catchphrase: Bosco: "Jagoff", Sully: "Crap!" and "Solving problems"
  • Christmas Episode: While there were a few episodes that were set around Christmastime, the only one that directly involved the holiday was "The Spirit." The title card even has Snowy Sleigh Bells.
  • Convulsive Seizures: Doc has one after being injured and not getting immediate treatment in "A Rock and a Hard Place."
  • A Day in the Limelight: The show originally maintained a cast rotation so that each character got the spotlight at least three times a season. This gradually ended as the cast expanded and the storylines became more complex.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Monte "Doc" Parker accidentally killed his best friend over a dispute about a girl during his youth and his wife, Debra was killed in a boating accident.
  • Dirty Harriet: Cruz. We first meet her when she's dressed for prostitution sting duty, and we gather she doesn't like it: "I'm walking around here in six inch heels with a postage stamp of polyester stuck up my ass!"
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: although not actually set at Christmas - a heavy snowstorm disappears completely the next day.
  • Driven to Suicide: After Bobby's death, Kim became depressed and attempted suicide by overdosing on drugs, but she survived.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Cruz taking out a pack of drug dealers (and herself) with a ludicrous quantity of explosives strapped to her body and a pair of hand grenades
  • Economy Cast: no matter where in the city they were, it was always the same police officers meeting the same paramedics.
    • Slightly justified in that they were all on the same block and worked the same shift. There were also a lot of extras in each group, without due attention necessarily being given to them. (Though to be fair, except for Jimmy and Alex, the whole FDNY was treated as an "extra").
  • Flat "What": After a bad night, Doc does the math on how much they make on each run. Faith's response to the $13.85 is a Flat "What".
  • Gory Discretion Shot: An episode set on September 10, 2001 has the cast members going about their ordinary day, and in Sully's case, preparing for his wedding. It ends the next morning with them rushing off to the World Trade Center, having learned of the attack. However, we never see any footage of it—even when the firehouse or precinct is alerted, we only hear the phone ring, with no words ever being spoken. Not even when several characters are clearly watching the news—given their stunned and horrified expressions—do we ever see anything. The next episode after that takes place several weeks later, with the obviously exhausted first responders continually coming and going from the site.
  • Heroism Equals Job Qualification: This has tragic consequences. Doc is a highly competent and heroic paramedic who regularly declines promotions to supervisor because it is a desk job. He is finally guilted into taking the promotion after 9/11 but it soon becomes apparent that he cannot handle the job. When he is fired he has a nervous breakdown and ends up taking the fire station hostage.
  • Hey, You!: In the Pilot Episode, we have this exchange:
    Kim: What's the new kid's name?
    Doc: New Kid.
    Kim: Hey, New Kid, get a move on!
  • Hollywood Autism: Bart from "Man Enough" has Asperger's, which makes him huddle up and mutter to himself nonstop, listen to headphones constantly, obsess over Shaquille O'Neal, and beat the crap out of anyone who touches or upsets him (including his own mother).
  • Karma Houdini: Faith kills Donald Mann, the drug lord who had been responsible for ordering the deaths of Bosco, Cruz and herself and sent thugs to shoot up the hospital they were in, resulting in Bosco getting critically injured. She lies about his death, saying it was self-defense, and gets off scot free.
  • Kosher Nostra: One faction of the two rival ecstasy rings in Season 5 was made up of Hasidic Jews who operated out of a front called Finklestein Silver & Diamonds.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Doc mentions how his father looks like Ossie Davis, who had played him previously.
  • Last-Name Basis: Most of the cops in the series are referred to primarily by their last names, or variations of their last name (i.e. Sully, Bosco).
  • Loan Shark: Jimmy gets visited by several throughout the seasons. One notable example is when a Loan Shark takes Jimmy's car and makes him walk his kid home, in the cold and dark.
  • The Mafia: Near the end of Season 5, Bosco butts heads with Aloysius "Allie" Nardo, a mid-tier Mafioso played by Nicholas Turturro.
  • The Mafiya: Seasons 3 and 4 see Sully taking on a nasty Russian vor v zakone named Fyodor Chevchenko.
  • Mauve Shirt: Recurring characters Lieutenant Johnson and Officer Dade; both were killed in Season 5, the former by being mercy killed after being horribly burned in an explosion in "The Truth and Other Lies" and the latter by being shot with Teflon-tainted bullets in "Family Ties."
  • Mercy Kill: In one episode, Bobby is asked to help his retired cancer-stricken teacher to stop hurting. He gives her an overdose of morphine.
    • In another one, as Doc is transporting a badly burned colleague to a hospital with a special burn unit, the man begs him to do this (aside from the agony he's already in, he knows full well it's only a matter of time before he dies from infection and dehydration). Doc finally complies and does the same as Bobby did.
  • Moral Myopia: As Councilman Daniels is brutalizing his rapist, the rapist screeches, "I don't deserve this!"
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Maurice Boscorelli is always "Bosco" or "Bos" to anyone other than his family.
  • Parking Payback: In one episode the fire crew had to break through a car's windows to get to the hydrant. The car owner was none too pleased and came to the firehouse wielding a gun.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: One could lose count of the number of bigoted things Bosco says, but one also can't deny that he's a very good cop.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Doc was hospitalized in the 5th season following his mental breakdown and never returned to the FDNY.
    • Kim decides to leave the FDNY in the 6th season due to her second pregnancy.
  • Pyromaniac: "Firestarter" had the put-upon son of an arson investigator set three supermarkets on fire, nearly killing Bosco and his mother, Rose.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: 9-11. Between being set in New York City and focusing on paramedics, firefighters, and police officers, there was no way the writers couldn't weave the events of that day into Season 3.
  • Revenge Myopia: Donald Mann blames the NYPD for the death of his son, Joey, and wants to avenge him, ignoring that Joey was a murderous thug and his death in a car accident was his own fault for recklessly resisting arrest by starting a car chase while fleeing from the NYPD.
  • Sanity Slippage: All of the traumas Doc's experienced gradually take a toll on him until he suffers a mental breakdown after being fired and takes the firehouse hostage.
  • Serial Killer:
    • It is vaguely implied that the man who abducted Susie Lewis in "Brothers and Sisters" and "Unleashed" may have killed (possibly just by accident) other girls, like the one from "The Unforgiven."
    • Almost everything about Tommy from "A Call for Help" is left ambiguous, but Bosco finding a bunch of credits cards, all of them belonging to different women, in his jacket and his car hints that Tommy may have killed more people than just Jeremy.
    • Jeffrey Barton from Season 6 killed five women by slowly draining their blood, and after another man is mistakenly arrested for his crimes, he turns himself in, and challenges the police to find his latest abductee, who is having her blood slowly drained by a Death Trap.
  • Serial Rapist:
    • "Faith": A man rapes three women over the course of a few days and beats Faith with a pipe during a foot pursuit before being tracked down and arrested by the rest of the NYPD.
    • "Two Hundred and Thirty-Three Days": A man who raped and tortured three old women is acquitted and tries to pick up where he left off, only to be taken down by Faith and Bosco.
    • Thomas Warner from Season 5 raped at least three women who worked at a message parlor, including an undercover Cruz.
    • "Black and Blue": Two women (one of whom ends up dying) are raped by a duo who have been Impersonating an Officer. They nearly get Kim before she is saved by Bosco, Cruz, Sully, and Monroe.
    • "Broken": Councilman Daniels is raped by a man who might have also assaulted three other men before Daniels.
  • Sex with the Ex: Jimmy and Kim keep ending up in bed together despite their acrimonious divorce, eventually reconciling for good after finally hashing out the issues that split them up (his frequent infidelity, including with her sister).
  • Spree Killer:
    • "32 Bullets and a Broken Heart": A homophobe goes on a cross-city rampage, shooting up a wedding, a Valentine's Day mixer, and the outside of a nightclub before being found, swarmed, and beat to near-death by a gay activist group called "Fight Back."
    • "A Hero's Rest": An anti-government fanatic declares war on the NYPD and commits three drive-by shootings (with a bicycle) against officers, killing two people and injuring a third before being taken down and arrested after a shootout Down in the Dumps.
    • "... And Zeus Wept": A bullied boy sneaks a pistol out of his house and into his high school and shoots a bunch of security guards, cheerleaders, and jocks before going on the run, killing one of his bullies out in the streets in the middle of the night before being cornered and arrested by the NYPD.
    • "Firestarter": The son of an arson investigator sets three supermarkets on fire, killing an unspecified number people, with the second fire nearly killing Bosco and his mother, Rose.
    • "How Do You Spell Belief?" and "End of Tour": A man who was molested as a child by a cult called the New Saints of Freedom starts locating and gunning down members of the group, killing two at an intersection and two more at the church's headquarters before taking his father (and the cult's leader) hostage live on the air in an attempt to get him to broadcast a confession to everyone in Manhattan.
  • Television Geography: although both set and filmed in NYC, the show filmed in all 5 boroughs making the 55th Precinct cover the whole city.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: "History of the World."
  • Title Drop: In the series finale, Swearky stands among the rubble of the burned-down precinct and gives a closing speech to the Third Watch.
  • Tomboyish Name: Alex Taylor.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Doc gets shot in "A Rock and a Hard Place," and is in pretty rough shape. By the next episode, he's fine and the injury isn't mentioned.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Despite sleeping together once, Bobby and Kim never embark on a relationship, with her gently rebuffing him because she supposedly doesn't love him. But her reaction to his death—trying to kill herself—indicates that she did.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: "32 Bullets and a Broken Heart."
  • Very Special Episode: The Season 3 premiere paired this with Formula-Breaking Episode, being a documentary-type episode that focused on interviews with the numerous first responders who served as consultants on the show, recounting their experiences of the 9/11 attack.
  • Welcome Episode: the first episode is called "Welcome to Camelot", and sees Ty and Carlos join their respective departments.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The series ends with Sully narrating over a montage of where the cast ended up. Most continue their careers and have hopeful futures. Sully, meanwhile, retires and spends his free time fishing.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Bosco's fear of the dark comes to light when he's trapped under ground in the episode "A Rock and a Hard Place."

Aversions/Subversions of:

  • There Are No Therapists: many characters had councelling, or were offered it and refused.
    • Amusingly, Carlos ends up sleeping with his required therapist after the deaths of two elderly patients. Unfortunately for him, in order to do so he ended up showing the fact that he really didn't have any emotion about what happened and the therapist put it in his file.