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YMMV / Murder, She Wrote

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  • Archive Panic: Going for a solid 12 seasons and about 265 episodes puts the show in this category, to say nothing of the four spinoff movies and the novel series that (as of 2014) numbers somewhere in the 40s and is still going at a rate of two new books a year.
  • Award Snub: Angela Lansbury: 12 Years, 12 Emmy nominations, not a single win.
  • Crossover Ship: Nearly a canon example. The end of the Magnum, P.I. crossover, "Magnum on Ice", teased Jonathan Higgins and Jessica, although it never went past Higgins quite obviously crushing on Jessica, to her amusement. It was also added to at the end of the syndicated version of the first part, "Novel Connection".
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  • Ear Worm: The famous theme song.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • In "Simon Says, 'Color Me Dead'", Sheriff Tupper bonding with Tommy Rutledge and acting as a father figure is pretty sweet. He even contemplates adopting him if his mother gets convicted.
    • In "Benedict Arnold Slipped Here", Dr. Hazlitt finds an antique chess set among Mrs. Adams' effects and gushes over it, even implying to Jessica that they could "forget" to put it with the rest of the stuff Mr. Tibbles is inheriting. He attempts to buy it from the Tibbles, but gets turned down. At the end of the episode, he laments there being no treasure in Mrs. Adams' house. Jessica tells him treasure is relative and reveals she bought him the chess set. He even kisses her on the cheek.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Narm: The infamous drive-by swording sequence from "The Celtic Riddle".
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize:
    • Occasionally subverted. In fact, many guest stars turned out to be allies of Jessica's or a Red Herring, while a character played by a much less famous person was the actual killer. Also a guest star has just as good a chance at being the Victim of the Week.
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    • Played straight in "A Very Good Year for Murder", where the family patriarch played by Eli Wallach was the murderer.
    • Played with in "Simon Says, "Color Me Dead" guest starring Dick Sargent. The show actually deviates from its usual formula by having Jessica grill that guest star's character during the final six minutes of the episode — which in any other episode would mean that the character is the murderer and Jessica knows it — but stops in the middle of her questioning and realizes that while she thought that the character was the killer, she just realized that she was mistaken and that the character's spouse was the actual culprit (with the guest star's character being completely innocent).
    • United with Casting Gag in "Something Borrowed, Someone Blue", where the murderer is played by Betsy Palmer.
  • Older Than They Think: The 1959 film version of The Bat shares many elements with Murder, She Wrote, such as mystery writer going to a small town while writing her next novel and getting wrapped up in a real murder mystery.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Kathryn Morris was in one of the TV movies three years before Cold Case premiered.
    • George Clooney and Julianna Marguiles both appeared in episodes (separately) eons before ER made them famous.
    • A young Courteney Cox played Jessica's husband Frank's great-niece, whose wedding sparks the plot of the two-parter "Death Stalks the Big Top."
    • Joaquin Phoenix appeared in the Season 1 episode "We're Off to Kill The Wizard" when he was only 10 years old. At the time he was so unknown he didn't even appear in the "Special Guest Stars" credits at the start of the episode.
    • Bryan Cranston plays a tennis player named Brian East, who is the Victim of the Week in Season 2's "Menace Anyone". A decade later, he would return to the show as another one-off character for the Season 12 episode "Something Foul in Flappieville". By this point he was a far more established actor in television and film but this was still before his star-making role in Malcolm in the Middle.
  • She Really Can Act: Lois Chiles, considered by critics to be a rather flat presence in films like Moonraker and Death on the Nile, improves considerably in "The Return of Preston Giles" - so much so that when she fatally shoots Giles at the episode's end, she's almost chilling.
  • The Scrappy:
  • The Woobie:
    • Kimberly, the granddaughter of the wealthy Henry in "Test of Wills." She's the only one who is truly upset when her grandfather is murdered, because she's arguably the only member of the family who really loves him, and then her fiancé is also murdered. Her fiancé is exposed post-mortem as having been blackmailing her aunt, and meanwhile, her grandfather turns out to have faked his own murder just to see how the family would react. Not to mention the cruel words her grandfather had to share in his fake will alongside having to deal with a domineering bitch of a mother who doesn't give a shit about what she wants and is using her to get the grandfather's money. It's hard to blame her for the way she ends the episode. She essentially becomes a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds when it turns out she accidentally shot her fiancé when she was trying to kill herself and tried to pin the blame on her grandfather and later her aunt. When she comes forward to Jessica with the truth she breaks down in tears over what happened, and is prepared to face whatever consequences there might be when she goes with Jessica to the police. At the very least, she's officially turned her back on her family and might have a chance for real happiness now that she's out of such a toxic home life.
    • Donna in "Just Another Fish Story;" she's a very shy, easily hurt young lady who gets caught up in a murder investigation against her will. She's scared of disappointing everyone. She's the killer in the episode, only it had been in self-defense. Later episodes do give her a happy ending, with her being happily married to Grady.


Example of: