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YMMV / In the Heat of the Night

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  • Adaptation Displacement: More well known than the novel it was based on.
  • Award Snub:
    • Modern viewers will probably be shocked to find out that Sidney Poitier wasn't even nominated for an Oscar for portraying Mr. Tibbs. The fact that co-lead Rod Steiger won the Oscar only makes this more noticeable.
    • Neither Quincy Jones' score, nor Ray Charles' theme song were nominated.
  • Fight Scene Failure: The fight between Virgil and the first racist mob is choreographed fairly awkwardly, with four men doing nothing but harmlessly whapping on Virgil's pole.
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  • Ho Yay: "You ever get lonely, Virgil?"
  • Jerkass Woobie: Gillespie.
    "Now, look. I got no wife. I got no kids. Boy, I got a town that don't want me. And I got an air conditioner that I have to oil myself, and a desk with a busted leg. And on top of that, I got this, Now, don't you think that'd drive a man to takin' a few drinks? I'll tell you a secret. Nobody comes here. Never."
  • Signature Line: "They call me Mister Tibbs!".
  • Signature Scene: Virgil Tibbs' retort towards police chief Bill Gillespie.
    Bill: "What do they call you in Philadelphia?"
    Virgil: "They call me Mister Tibbs!"
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
    • Norman Jewison wanted the song on the diner jukebox to be "Li'l Red Riding Hood" by Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs, but they couldn't get the rights (licensing pop songs for movies being almost unheard of in 1967), so composer Quincy Jones and lyricists Alan & Marilyn Bergman wrote the new but very similar "Foul Owl on the Prowl" for the diner scene.
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    • Similarly, "Bow-Legged Polly and Knock-Kneed Paul" (which Officer Wood listens to while patrolling the neighborhood in his car) is a thinly-disguised rewrite of Roger Miller's "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd".
  • Values Resonance: Tibbs is an intelligent, well-spoken, brave African-American police detective who called out racism (or, in some cases, slapped racists). He lacks offensive stereotypes and is a well-written, complex character.


  • Acceptable Professional Targets: Reporters, apparently, considering every employee of The Sparta Herald was portrayed as an obnoxious, immoral Jerkass.
  • Anvilicious/Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The show had a lot of Very Special Episodes that covered "racism, police brutality, interracial relationships, hate crimes, drug trafficking, drug addiction, alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, rape, AIDS, misogyny, incest, child abuse, sexual harassment, euthanasia, anti-Semitism, political corruption, prostitution, domestic violence, mental disorders, dysfunctional families, suicide, capital punishment, poverty, and drunk driving."
  • Complete Monster:
    • "Obsession": Ashe Crowe is a twisted puritan who was discharged from the army after he was outed as a Peeping Tom. Becoming obsessed with a Sparta schoolteacher named Jeanette, Crowe begins stalking her, with his harassment of her alternating between affectionate gestures like sending her gifts to manic Slut-Shaming. After he murders one of her lovers, Crowe meets with Jeanette, and makes it clear to her that he has no actual affection for her, he merely wants total dominion over a woman who he is sexually attracted to due to being a misogynist Control Freak. Eventually deciding that Jeanette is a lost cause, Crowe tries to kill her by planting a military-grade bomb in her classroom, without any care at all for all of the people that it will maim and kill alongside Jeanette.
    • "Give Me Your Life": Marcantony Appfel is the narcissistic leader of the Church of the Celestial Influence. Appfel has his followers sign all of their possessions over to him, and keeps his congregation compliant with drugs, which he also uses to rape his devotees' children, with his latest sexual abuse victim being a girl named Clarice. After Clarice is saved from him and outs him as a predator, Appfel barricades himself and his disciples in his church, and has two of his subordinates kidnap Clarice. Appfel then has his men execute a captured reporter and engage in a gun battle with the Sparta PD. It is soon revealed that Appfel intends to martyr himself by blowing himself and all of his mostly oblivious followers up with a bomb; while the police are able to defuse the bomb and save most of the church members, several are still killed when a hidden second bomb is detonated by Appfel.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Gillespie's reaction to Tibbs hanging a big picture of Martin Luther King Jr. up on one of the walls of their shared office at the end of "Pilot."
  • Narm:
    • The scene in "Fifteen Forever" where a boy, upon being informed by a doctor that his sister is in a coma, responds by yelling, "YOU STINKING LIAR! DON'T YOU TELL US THAT! DAMN YOU!"
    • The fake Simon Ware's voice in "The Pig Woman of Sparta."
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • A young Mariska Hargitay played the female half of the Outlaw Couple in "... And Then You Die."
    • Jennifer Hale's second ever role (and one of her few live-action ones) was as Missy in "The Pig Woman of Sparta."
    • One of Wayne Brady's first acting gigs was as a mentally handicapped youth in "Hatton's Turn."
  • Squick: Even a few of his fellow officers are grossed out when Tibbs shoves a pencil into a corpse's bullet wound (to calculate things like the height of the killer) in "Don't Look Back." The same episode also has a cut out heart being mailed to Gillespie.


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