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"Coded messages, murder - right up my street. It's not a bad way to start the day."
Inspector Morse was a British Detective Drama based on a series of novels by Colin Dexter, which ran from 1987 to 2000. Set among the dreaming spires of Oxford, it starred John Thaw as the grumpy, intellectual and beer loving Chief Inspector Morse, and Kevin Whately as his cheerful Geordie sidekick Sergeant Lewis. During the course of each episode, the pair would investigate a murder, which would often involve complex university politics, bright but emotional students and the opportunity for Morse to utilise his love of classical music, literature and cryptic crossword puzzles.
The show was immensely popular in Britain, and John Thaw's portrayal of Morse is generally considered one of British television's most iconic characters. Still repeated fairly frequently on ITV3.
Sergeant Lewis later received his own spin-off in Lewis. A Prequel, Endeavour, set in 1965 and starring Shaun Evans as the young Detective Constable Morse, aired in 2012; it has been renewed for a series airing in June of that year.
- Afraid of Blood: Morse has quite a distaste for gore and won't look at fresh corpses unless he absolutely has to. Being a murder detective, he sometimes does have to.
- Always Murder
- Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon
- British Brevity: While each season is between 3 and 5 episodes long, each episode is an hour and forty minutes!
- Cartwright Curse
- Cool Car: Morse's red Jaguar Mark II.
- Creator Cameo: Series creator Colin Dexter would make a cameo in every episode.
- Da Chief: Chief Superintendent Strange veers into this on occasion... in a very British way, of course.
- Embarrassing First Name: Morse's first name is Endeavour
- "You poor sod."
- Eureka Moment: Often supplied by a passing comment from Sergeant Lewis.
- Famous Last Words: "Thank Lewis For Me"
- Hey, It's That Guy: Watching reruns of The Sweeney can come as a shock after you've become used to Thaw as Morse.
- Ho Yay: Inspector Morse and Sergeant Lewis. For example, the spoiler above.
- Inspector Lestrade: Sergeant Lewis (Although, in later series, he sometimes found the right answer before Morse and even once successfully hid the truth from Morse to spare Morse's feelings)
- Irregular Series
- Never One Murder
- Never Suicide: Subverted in that Morse often makes a point of investigating suicides.
- No Name Given
- The Not Love Interest: Morse is too ... Morse to be exactly paternal, but Lewis still manages to be his Most Important Person, to the point that he leaves a third of his estate to Lewis and Lewis finds that one of the few pictures in Morse's house is of himself and Morse in front of Morse's Jag.
- Old Cop, Young Cop: Inspector Morse and Sergeant Lewis. In Endeavour, Inspector Thursday and Constable Morse.
- Overtook the Series: Originally averted by mixing adaptions of the novels with original plots, but since the death of Morse, the spinoff series Lewis has obviously ended up doing this.
- Ret Canon: Dexter has admitted he prefers the TV series portrayal of the young, Geordie Sergeant Lewis to the elderly Welshman used he used in the novels.
- Sesquipedalian Smith: Morse himself
- Significant Anagram Constantly. Colin Dexter is a major crossword fan and often included anagrams of important character's names.
- Small Reference Pools: Completely averted due to both Morse and the show's writers having an extensive knowledge of classical music, leading to some obscure references that only a few fans will get.
- Spin-Off: Lewis.
- Television Geography: Morse was seemingly able to walk between Oxford landmarks which are in reality several miles apart in a matter of seconds.
- The Coroner: The show went through several, although Max from the first two series is the most well remembered.
- Theme Song Assonance: The theme tune is based on the Morse code for Morse's name. Occasionally the composer would throw in the name of a character from that episode, sometimes the murderer, but on other occasions an innocent character to throw knowledgeable viewers off track.
Episodes of this series provide examples of:
- Best Known for the Fanservice: Any interview with Frances Barber that mentions her appearance in "Death of the Self" will concentrate on the revealing blouse she wore while Morse was questioning her.
- Clear My Name
- Climbing Climax: In the episode 'In Service of all the Dead', Morse chases the murderer up a church tower.
- Con Man: 'Death of the Self.'
- Danger Takes a Backseat
- Did They or Didn't They?: Morse and Emma Pickford
- Disconnected by Death: In 'The Wolvercote Tongue'.
- Downer Ending: The Remorseful Day. Oh God, The Remorseful Day.
- Everything Is Online: In 'Masonic Mysteries', a villain manages to hack the police database, alter Morse's file and frame him. While said villain is a prisoner. Having taken a single computing course.
- Historical In-Joke: In 'The Daughters of Cain', the Morseverse equivalent of Christ Church is called "Wolsey College".
- Infant Immortality: Subverted - in 'Dead on Time', we see the death of a baby in a flashback.
- Literary Allusion Title: 'The Wench is Dead,' 'Greeks Bearing Gifts.'
- Mythology Gag: In Endeavour, the question of whether Morse's girlfriend at university was called Wendy (as in the books) or Susan (as in the series).
- Naughty Birdwatching: George Jackson in 'The Dead of Jericho'.
- Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: 'In Service of all the Dead', after Lewis spots a corpse from the top of a belltower, he tells the elderly and exhausted Morse to 'come and see for himself'.
- Playing Against Type: Richard Briers as the evil master of Lonsdale College.
- Room Full of Crazy: In 'Masonic Mysteries' and 'Fat Chance'.
- Scarpia Ultimatum: In 'Death Is Now My Neighbour', a female character agrees to sleep with an Oxford Don if he'll give her husband the position of master. Afterward he laughs at her and says he never had any intention of making him master, since the husband had already slept with the don's wife.
- Spanish Prisoner: Or in this case, a Russian Bride.
- The Master: The Master of Lonsdale College in 'Death Is Now My Neighbour'.
- This Is What the Building Will Look Like: The college that Baydon plans to endow in 'Twilight of the Gods'.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: In the very first episiode, Morse becomes convinced he is in a modern day retelling of a Greek tragedy. 'Sophocles did it'
- Younger Than They Look: It's amazing to realize that John Thaw was only 45 in the first series. It's the white hair.