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"I drink too much, I smoke too much, I gamble too much. I am too much."
—Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald

This British Crime and Punishment Series was originally broadcast in the "Television Serial" format (also used for, e.g., Doctor Who before 1996). The main character, Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald, played by Robbie Coltrane, was a psychologist who did profiling for the Manchester police force. Of course, he usually ended up confronting the criminal and solving the crime pretty much solo (though a few times he makes the situation a whole lot worse). Fitz was an Anti-Hero back in the days when an Anti-Hero made a risky and unusual TV show lead: aside from his grouchy, misanthropic demeanour, he was massively overweight and addicted to alcohol, tobacco and gambling. In his spare time, he also enjoyed a bit of UST with his sidekick, Jane "Panhandle" Penhaligon.

The main point of the show probably wasn't the police investigations, but the often quite disturbing conversations between Fitz and the suspects. ("You're the one who needs the psychologist," says the suspect in episode 1.) The show was critically praised in the UK for its psychological complexity, especially in the title character, the superb performance of Robbie Coltrane in the lead role, and its tackling of difficult and controversial subject matter. On the other hand, the show's handling of the latter has occasionally been criticised as veering towards the Anvilicious.

To date, there have been 10 stories, originally transmitted as two or three episodes each. There is considerable continuity from one story to the next (unusual in Television Serial format shows) and watching them out of sequence would be inadvisable. An 11th, stand-alone episode was aired in 2006.

There was a U.S. remake in which the main character was fairly slender, drank moderate amounts of wine and lived in a spacious, airy apartment. Watch the British original.

Not to be confused with The Cracker, who is a computer criminal or the British Comic Cracker.


Provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Several of the criminals are victims of these
  • Anyone Can Die: DCI Bilborough and DS James Beck
  • Asshole Victim: Several including a loan shark, a homophobe and a ruthless journalist
  • Attempted Rape: Floyd Malcolm attempts to rape Judith
  • Burn, Baby, Burn: Jane Penhaligon burns her clothes after she's been raped, causing Fitz (who's unaware of the reason) to quip that burning a bra is "a bit too Sixties."
  • Byronic Hero: And how!
  • Captain Obvious. Penhaligon storms out of her superior's office after being turned down for a promotion, and when Fitz greets her as 'Panhandle' screams "IT'S PENHALIGON YOU FAT, STUPID BASTARD!" Expert psychologist that he is, Fitz concludes that she is upset.
  • Click Hello: When Panhandle breaks into Beck's house and waits for him.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Sean Kerrigan over his girlfriend Tina
  • Crime Reconstruction: In the episode Men Should Weep
  • Defective Detective: And how!. Fitz, an overweight chain-smoking alcoholic adulterer with a gambling addiction.

 Fitz: I drink too much, I smoke too much, I gamble too much. I am too much.

    • The actual detectives aren't necessarily that psychologically well-adjusted either.
  • Dirty Harriet: Penhaligon in Brotherly Love
  • Drives Like Crazy: Whenever Fitz pulls one of his Jerkass stunts on Panhandle, she likes to get back at him by driving extremely fast, while enjoying the expression on Fitz's face instead of looking at the road.
    • Also, Judith: "I like doing 60!"
  • False Confession: Cassidy in One Day A Lemming Will Fly
  • Forensic Drama
  • Freudian Excuse: Deconstructed. Most of the murderers are very damaged and shown some sympathy by Fitz but he also makes it clear to them that they are still responsible for their crimes.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Played straight, by the suspects, and then immediately subverted as Fitz does his thing and zones in on the why.
  • Honey Trap: Tina from To Say I Love You and Janice from True Romance both use this trope to ensnare their victims
  • Indirect Kiss: Fitz is briefing the detectives, one of whom makes an ignorant comment in his area of expertise. Fitz immediately jumps down the man's throat for this; but a few seconds before that same detective had passed a drink to Fitz's love interest DS Penhaligon, who drank from the bottle without wiping the mouth first -- just the kind of minor detail Fitz would notice.
  • Insufferable Genius: Fitz is considered to be a complete bastard by his workmates at the Manchester Police, and has zero respect among his academic peers. But he is also very, very, very good at profiling.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Averted. DCI Bilborough specifically tells a suspect that no-one is going to touch her and DS Beck is bawled out by DCI Wise when he beats a suspect.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Fitz
  • Jerkass Woobie: Most of the murderers, some of the Asshole Victims Jimmy Beck and, arguably, Fitz himself
  • Kavorka Man: Fitz.
  • Kick the Dog: Absolutely everyone at various points. Judith gets in an especially nasty one on Panhandle in True Romance.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: Fitz, not infrequently. Considering how hard he kicks, it's kind of an issue.
  • Left Hanging: In the episode "One Day A Lemming Will Fly", Fitz actually spends the entire episode pursuing the wrong man for the murder of a child. The episode's entire resolution hinges on the fact that the child's killer will never be known -- at least, unless he strikes again... Probably deliberate to show that, no matter how brilliant Fitz is, he can still be dead wrong.
  • Madness Mantra: "L-I-V, E-R-P, Double-O L, Liverpool FC.". For non-Brits, this is the traditional chant of supporters of the Liverpool soccer team.
    • "All flesh is grass. All flesh is grass."
  • Meaningful Echo: Bilborough and Beck both say: "This is evidence. This is a dying man's statement."
  • Motive Rant: Several of the killers get in one of these
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: DS Jimmy Beck. Becomes significantly less noble as the series continues. But he manages to go out with a bit of it back. Sort of. Though even in the early days he is shown bullying and victimizing suspects some of whom are later shown to be innocent.
  • Oop North
  • Open Mystery: To Say I Love You from the first series and every story from the next two, though Brotherly Love plays with it in three ways as it features three distinct criminals; the first murderer is played straight as we see him commiting the crime; the second is also seen, but only during her second killing midway through the second episode, and the third is the rapist who attacked Penhaligon in the previous serial, whom Fitz and everyone else is sure is Jimmy Beck but who has been strenously and convicingly denying it since the end of the last series, is never actually seen commiting it, and whom the audience can never be quite sure is guilty, especially since Fitz has got it horribly wrong before, even though he's the obvious suspect. Turns out it really was him.
  • Pet the Dog: Subverted in an episode when a serial killer reveals to Fitz that he was going to drown a litter of kittens but decided not to because 'they hadn't done him any harm'. Fitz points out that none of the killer's victims had done him any harm either and that rather than making him sympathetic, the villain was just showing a kind of 'sick sentimentality'.
  • Please, I Will Do Anything!: Claire Moody pleads like this to Albie Kinsella
  • Police Brutality: Jimmy Beck is guilty of this on multiple occasions.
  • The Profiler: Fitz is considered to be very, very good (albeit impossible to work with), but even then he is not always right.
  • Raised Catholic: Fitz and many others
  • Rape as Drama: In the episode Men Should Weep
  • Shown Their Work: The show had some of the most genuinelly realistic portrayals of murders and how they happen, at least in the first part of the story, such as why a man might kill a shopkeeper or a prostitute. The handling of the police characters and their relationships also earned high praise from real officers as being pretty much spot-on, though later stories started to mess the detectives up maybe a bit too much. In generaly though, believable characterisation was this series strongest point.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: Fitz loves to first play sympathetic to the criminals, and just when they start to relax explain in thorough detail why he loathes their guts. Especially notable in To Say "I Love You".
  • Shower of Angst: DS Penhaligon takes a bath after she's been raped, but makes sure to wrap her hand in plastic first to preserve evidence from when she scratched her attacker.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Janice
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Well, maybe not "To Death", but there's no better way to describe what it is Fitz does to the suspects. Almost done literally to DS Beck at one point.
  • Television Serial
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Fitz frequently makes these to the murderers
  • The Unsolved Mystery: One Day A Lemming Will Fly
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Hot girlfriend anyway. Panhandle does have certain 'father' issues which may explain it though. Even Fitz admits that he's probably a father substitute.
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