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The TV Show

  • Actor-Inspired Element: Edward James Olmos made a few changes to his character when he was hired for the show. He said that his character's desk should always be free of paper work, and that the cops knock on the door before entering the office.
  • Actor-Shared Background: Sort of. According to Sonny Crockett's character history he volunteered for military service in Vietnam in the early seventies. This is based on the real actions of Don Johnson who attempted to join the United States Marine Corps around that time. However, unlike Crockett who served a combat tour in Vietnam, Johnson was rejected by the marines due to a criminal conviction for drug possession.
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  • Banned Episode: NBC did not air "Too Much, Too Late" with the other fifth season episodes because it felt the child molestation subject matter was inappropriate for television in 1989.
  • Cast the Expert: The Trigger Happy hitman in "The Hit List" was played by their technical advisor, marksman Jim Zubiena.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Gary Cole and Jimmy Smits were originally in the running to play Crockett and Tubbs. Both made appearances in the show (Smits made his acting debut in "Brother's Keeper" and Cole appeared in "Trust Fund Pirates").
  • The Character Died with Him: Julian Beck (who played the corrupt stock broker J.J. Johnston in "The Prodigal Son") passed away two weeks before the episode aired.
  • The Danza: Phil Collins as Phil Mayhew. This could be a nod to John Mayhew, Collins' predecessor as drummer for Genesis.
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  • Directed By Castmember: Don Johnson directed four episodes, while Edward James Olmos directed one.
  • Doing It for the Art: The show's commitment to film-like production quality made it one of the most expensive television series ever produced at the time, with a budget around one million USD per episode. This budget allowed the production to do things such as shoot on-location, repaint and refurnish buildings and vehicles that didn't fit its "no earth tones" color scheme, and license the pop hits used so frequently during the show. Somewhat humorously, the budget for individual episodes exceeded the entire annual budget of the real Miami-Dade Police Vice Unit.
  • Follow the Leader: Competing networks tried to start up their own flashy crime dramas. The only one to survive more than three episodes was 21 Jump Street.
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  • Hostility on the Set: Don Johnson and Edward James Olmos often argued during the first season due to their different acting styles. Olmos used his anger towards Johnson for his character in their scenes together. In some episodes, Lt. Castillo never looks at Crockett at all.
  • McLeaned:
    • Lt. Lou Rodriguez was killed off four episodes in when Gregory Sierra decided he didn't like being in Miami.
    • Happens to Larry Zito in "Down for the Count," since his actor was sick of living in Miami and wanted to expand into theater.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: When asked in an interview years later which were his favorite episodes that he produced during his involvement in the show, Dick Wolf named the reviled "Missing Hours" (aka "the one with the aliens"), saying that he generally liked the episodes that were a bit "out there".
  • Old Shame: Edward James Olmos all but pretends his time on the show didn't happen, despite winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his performance as Lieutenant Castillo.
  • The Other Darrin: Castillo's former wife, May Ying, was played by Joan Chen in "Golden Triangle" and by Rosalind Chao in the Season 5 episode "Heart of Night."
  • Out of Order:
    • Season two is perhaps the most widely affected by network reordering. As a result of their changes, the beard Zito grows for the start of the season continually appears and disappears between episodes for more than half of the season, indicating several episodes were broadcast earlier than intended.
    • Season three contains perhaps the most glaring example of a goof brought about by the network reordering episodes, when Crockett's Ferrari Daytona is magically resurrected in "El Viejo", six episodes after it was destroyed in the season opener. Another discrepancy surrounds the position of the show's on-screen titles and opening credits.
    • Season five contains another goof relating to a character's beard, when Tubbs appears clean shaven in "Borrasca", only for his facial hair to return in the next episode, before he then shaves it off during that episode. Another major continuity issue in the season concerns the placement of the "lost" episodes — these were not originally broadcast as part of thew show's network run, but were instead shown later. This is typically reflected in lists of the show's episodes, but having them appear after Crockett and Tubbs quit the force in the series finale "Freefall" clearly makes no sense.
  • Recast as a Regular: Martin Ferrero appeared in the pilot as a cross-dressing hitman and went on to play the recurring snitch Izzy Moreno.
  • Recycled Set: Several locations and buildings reappeared throughout the series' run. Notably, the house seen in "Nobody Lives Forever" (which is owned in the series by Brenda, the architect Crockett is dating) appears again as the location of the climactic cat-and-mouse scene between Crockett and The Shadow in the episode "Shadow in the Dark," two seasons later.
  • The Red Stapler:
    • Crockett and Tubbs popularized the pastel T-shirt and linen suit look to the point where today it is often considered to epitomize the clothing styles of the entire decade, despite the fact it actually only remained popular for a few years in the mid-1980s. Later trends established on the show, such as the harsh neon colors of Season 3, were also influential, although their popularity has not enjoyed the same lasting fame as the pastel look. Nevertheless, the styles portrayed in the latter seasons of the show remained popular into the early 1990s.
    • Crockett's "designer stubble" was copied by men across America, even leading to the marketing of a specialized razor (initially called the "Miami Device", before the name was changed for fear of a legal suit) that would leave a very short layer of stubble on a man's face. After Six created "Miami Vice" dinner jackets, Kenneth Cole created Crockett and Tubbs shoes, and Macy's opened a dedicated "Miami Vice" section for young men.
    • Consumer demand for the Bren Ten pistol Crockett used as his sidearm for the first two seasons became so great that Dornaus & Dixon was unable to meet its orders and went bankrupt in 1986. Sales for the Wellcraft SCARAB 38' KV went up 21% in a single year following the vessel's introduction to the series, and as a result Wellcraft produced a limited run of exact replicas. The 38' KV's "Miami Vice" color scheme was also made available on other boats in their range.
    • Tourism in Miami received a tangible boost as result of the series' popularity, and the renovation work carried out on dilapidated buildings by the production team as part of filming led to something of a renaissance in the South Beach area—other buildings and hotels were restored, contributing to the revitalization of the area in the 1990s and the influx of celebrities and luxury hotels and clubs in the 2000s. Today, the area is a mecca for the rich and famous.
  • Screwed by the Network: During the third season, the show was moved to air opposite Dallas. This proved to be a poor move, as Dallas swiftly overtook the show in ratings. And then Miami Vice was moved to Sundays and ratings were sent into a further downward spiral. Adding insult to injury, the network proceeded to "burn off" four Season 5 episodes just before the series finale, and these episodes would not be broadcast until a year later.
  • Technology Marches On: The "cutting-edge" technology seen is quite funny to look at in retrospect. Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs have to pose as undercover drug dealers for the purposes of their job, and subsequently have access to all the latest tools and technology. The series establishes this early on in the third episode, with a scene shot solely to emphasize the fact that Crockett has a car phone (and the receiver looks like a giant brick).
  • Throw It In!: Olmos has said in interviews that, in a deliberate effort to subvert the usual Da Chief cliches, his very first line as Castillo was an ad-lib.
  • Underage Casting: Helena Bonham-Carter was twenty when she played a doctor who was supposed to be about thirty. At the time, she looked like she was twelve.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The series exemplified some of the most prevalent trends of the era (and created several of them), including a heavy focus on synth-rock and popular songs of the time, the usage of pastel colors in their clothing and many instances of Technology Marches On. One could likely fill an entire page detailing all the dated examples found throughout the series.
    • The second season opener, "The Prodigal Son", is of particular note. Among other things, it has music from Billy Ocean and Huey Lewis and the News, a woman wearing a dress with massive shoulder pads and a climax that takes place at the World Trade Center.
    • However the tone of the show averts the trope. Most cop shows of the era had a light tone, villain of the week, flat characters, always get their guy, etc. Miami Vice had some very slow pacing for the time, story arcs which could last all or part of a season, lots of character development, and often bittersweet or downer endings. Its grim tone was much more in line with current shows like Breaking Bad, The Closer, etc.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The initial conception of the show started as a feature film titled "Gold Coast". When it was decided to make it a television series instead, the name still stuck for a bit before being titled "Miami Vice".
    • Richard Dean Anderson, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Nick Nolte and Mickey Rourke were considered for Sonny Crockett. Don Johnson was nearly turned down for the part due to being involved in four failed pilots in a row prior to this show. Also, he almost quit the show after the second season, with Mark Harmon lined up to replace him.
    • Denzel Washington was considered for Ricardo Tubbs.
    • During pre-production, Don Johnson wanted Sonny Crockett to be "more of a cowboy", and suggested "a lot of denim, V-neck sweaters and cowboy boots". He was really unsure how the heavy use of pastel and bright colors would fit his character's macho, no-nonsense persona. Michael Mann and costume designer Jodie Lynn Tillen saw Crockett as more of a beach bum. Johnson relented, and as a result became one of the biggest fashion symbols of the 1980s.
    • Glenn Frey was originally set to reprise his role as Jimmy the pilot (from "Smuggler's Blues") in the episode "Trust Fund Pirates," but scheduling issues resulted in his character being replaced by a fellow pilot who had taken over Jimmy's hangar.
    • The third-season opener ("When Irish Eyes Are Crying") was intended to be a two-hour special, similar to the second-season premiere "The Prodigal Son," and would have had Crockett and Tubbs travel to Ireland to deal with a religious terrorist.
    • Dennis Hopper was supposed to guest star in "Out Where the Buses Don't Run", but dropped out due to monetary issues.
    • Three versions of the climax of "Freefall" were filmed: one where Crockett and Tubbs both die, one where Tubbs dies but Crockett survives, and the broadcast one where they both survive.
    • Michael Mann had planned to have episodes of the fourth season set in Paris and Tokyo, but those plans ultimately fell through as ratings continued to deteriorate and brought with them reduced production budgets.
    • According to an interview with director Jan Eliasberg, the original story for "God's Work" was to be about the Catholic Church refusing aid for gay AIDS patients, but after a meeting between the Church and NBC, the story was altered to its broadcast form.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Miami Vice Wiki.
  • Working Title: The show was originally to be called Gold Coast (as shown in advance TV promos), but with the characters shouting "Miami Vice!" so much in the show, it seemed a better choice for the title.
  • You Look Familiar:
    • Bill Smitrovich plays the turncoat detective Scottie Wheeler in the pilot episode and DEA Commander Burr in "The Prodigal Son".
    • Martin Ferrero played the assassin Trini Desoto in the pilot and informant Izzy Moreno for the rest of the series.
    • Miguel Pinero played the druglord (and first Big Bad of the series) Esteban Calderone in the first season, and a member of the Revilla drug cartel in the second-season opener "The Prodigal Son".
    • Dan Hedaya played an Internal Affairs officer in the first season, and a villain in the second-season episode "Payback".
    • Maria McDonald played Tubbs' (murderous) love interest in the first-season episode "The Great McCarthy", then returned to play Tubbs' girlfriend, Alicia, in the third-season episode "The Afternoon Plane".

The Movie

  • Fake American: Colin Farrell is Irish and Naomie Harris is English.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • Ciarán Hinds, an actor whose referred to himself as "more Irish than Irish" plays an FBI agent named John Fujima, a Japanese last name.
    • Chinese actress Gong Li plays a second-generation Sino-Cuban.
  • Hostility on the Set: During the preproduction, Jamie Foxx won an Oscar, which he leveraged into a higher salary than his costar Colin Farrell, so high in fact that Farrell had to take a slight pay cut. Needless to say this was not conducive to them working together, much less getting along off camera.
  • Recycled Script: Much of the plot was based on the season one episode "Smuggler's Blues", and both feature several similar scenes. For instance, Crockett and Tubbs' meet with José Yero in the movie is remarkably similar to their second meeting with Grocero in Club Araña in "Smuggler's Blues"; the scene in the film even reuses lines of dialogue from its equivalent in the series almost word for word. The subplot concerning Trudy's capture by the villains and being placed in a booby-trapped trailer also takes place in the movie.
  • Old Shame: Colin Farrell admits that he doesn't like the film very much. He told Total Film:
    "I didn't like it so much - I thought it was style over substance and I accept a good bit of the responsibility. It was never going to be Lethal Weapon, but I think we missed an opportunity to have a friendship that also had some elements of fun".
  • Troubled Production:
    • Between when he was cast and the start of production, Jamie Foxx won an Oscar, greatly increasing his ego and his demands, among them top billing, a private jet, and a refusal to do scenes on boats or planes out of concern for his safety. He also complaining that his co-star, Colin Farrell, was being paid more than he was despite his Oscar win. Foxx got a raise while Farrell was forced to take a pay cut, causing a great deal of tension between the two (who were playing police partners). Tensions also ran high with Foxx and director Michael Mann, and they got into heated arguments throughout filming.
    • Mann, well known for his insistance on authenticity, insisted on shooting in unsafe weather and in dangerous, crime-ridden areas. At one location it was so bad the police wouldn't go there, so the production hired local gang members as security. As part of getting Colin Farrell immersed into his role, Mann had Farrell join a drug bust that ended with agents drawing their weapons on Farrell beliving he was a suspect at the scene. They later admitted to Farrell that the bust had been staged to see if he would react as an actual undercover officer would.
    • Mann's bullish, unapologetic attitude led to an uneasy atmosphere throughout shooting, with one crew member stating that "Everyone was pushed to the edge of whatever their emotional makeup is." Mann would often make major rewrites of the script without advance notice and frequently change his mind day-to-day on what he wanted out of the film, giving instructions that were sometimes unclear and contradictory. Cast and crew had to scramble to keep up and adapt. Shooting was also disrupted by both Hurricane Dennis and Hurricane Wilma, the latter of which damaged the production offices and nearly caused the film to be canned.
    • All these things came to a head late in filming when, while filming in the Dominican Republic, actual gunfire was exchanged on set, leading to a local man being shot and wounded by a set guard loaned from the Dominican military. Foxx immediately went to his plane and flew back to the U.S. He told the studio he was not going to any more overseas locations for the production, forcing Mann to rewrite the ending and set it in Miami. While one crew member commented that the new ending was less dramatic, Mann believed the new ending was an improvement as "It brought all the conflicting characters together in one arena.". All of the troubles experienced in production led to the film's budget balooning to $135 million.
    • Ultimately, the film was not the success it was hoped to be. While it more or less broke even at the box office (making $164 million), critics were largely lukewarm on the film, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 46%. While the film would later become a Cult Classic and make a tidy sum on home video, it also marked a downturn for Mann's career, and his output slowed considerably in the years following the film.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • After a shooting incident on the Dominican Republic set of the film, Jamie Foxx packed up and left, refusing to work outside the US. This forced a complete rewrite of the film's ending. While one crew member publicly stated that the revised ending was "much less dramatic," Mann, who had written endings for both Miami and Paraguay considered it to be better because it "brought all the conflicting characters together in one arena."
    • Edward James Olmos was offered the chance to reprise his role as Castillo, but was busy filming Battlestar Galactica (2003) at the time.
    • Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Matthew McConaughey were all considered for Sonny Crockett.
    • Will Smith, Denzel Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson were considered for the role of Ricardo Tubbs.

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