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File:Murdoch-mysteries season-four announced 2033.jpg


"Perhaps someday, everybody will be as fascinated with pathologists and police detectives."
—Detective William Murdoch

Murdoch Mysteries is a Canadian detective series set in late nineteenth-century Toronto, based on a series of novels by Maureen Jennings. The series centers around William Murdoch, a detective in the Toronto constabulary with an interest in using then-unorthodox/unknown forensic techniques for catching criminals. Murdoch is assisted by Constable George Crabtree and Doctor Julia Ogden, The Coroner. His boss Inspector Thomas Brackenreid is usually skeptical of Murdoch's methods but doesn't complain too much, just as long as they catch the criminal in the end.

Four seasons have been produced so far. A fifth series has been confirmed for broadcast in 2012 by Citytv; it was to be the final series, but rival broadcaster CBC has picked up the series and has already commissioned a sixth series for broadcast in late 2012.

The series was preceded by a trilogy of TV movies in 2004, which were more direct adaptations of the Murdoch Mysteries novels. With Peter Outerbridge as Murdoch, Keeley Hawes as Dr Ogden and Colm Meaney as Inspector Brackenreid. Overall much darker and gritty than the TV series.


Provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Murdoch's father is an abusive alcoholic (or so Murdoch thinks, he was never abusive); after his mother's death, Murdoch spent the rest of his childhood in an orphanage.
  • Amoral Attorney: The Crown Prosecutor in "The Hangman", who does everything to make sure the defendant gets hanged, even the obviously innocent ones.
  • Anachronism Stew: The story seems to be set in a "greatest-hits of Late Victorian/Edwardian Era" world.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Julia's younger sister, Intrepid Reporter Ruby, who irritates her older sister by flirting with Murdoch.
    • Averted with Murdoch's younger sister Susannah.
  • Area 51: After Murdoch and Company stumbled into a US/UK secret airship research facility in the middle of Ontario, the G-men noted that it's probably smarter to relocate the research station to the deserts of New Mexico.
  • Asshole Victim: A few, but especially the victim in Me, Myself, and Murdoch. The prime suspect for his murder is his daughter, who has multiple personalities that resulted from her seeing her father hack up her mother with an ax, when she was a child. The man got another woman to marry him and pose as his original wife, and throughout the years he's been abusing his daughter and locking her up in the basement where he dismembered her mom. The murderer is his stepson from his first wife, who ran away as a kid and came back years later disguised as a farmhand, who was suspicious of why another woman was posing as his mother, and axed his stepfather to death.
    • Inspector Brackenreid even said he would do his best to avert the death penalty for the stepson, saying about his stepfather, "Bastard bloody deserved it".
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Most notably in Belly Speaker, in which the puppet-wielding suspect deceives everyone (including Murdoch) and ultimately escapes justice. There is no indication that he was ever caught afterwards. However, given his reasons for doing so and the truth later coming out about his twin brother, it's hard to not feel even a bit sympathetic.
  • Beta Couple: Constable Crabtree and Dr. Grace seem to be heading in this direction in Season 5.
  • Big Bad: Sally Pendrick in Season 3.
  • California Doubling: Set in Toronto, filmed in Cambridge, Ontario as none of the streets of modern Toronto looks like 1890s Toronto.
  • Canadian Accents: In the original TV movies, only Murdoch speaks with a (slightly anachronistic) neutral Canadian accent, while everyone else talks with varying shades of Irish, Scottish, English, French, and other European accents--historically accurate considering Canada's history of immigration. The TV series tone this down, but not by much.
  • The Cameo: By Big Name Fan Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: It's pretty clear to anyone that Murdoch likes Dr. Ogden, but he cannot get himself to say it.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: A few times, since in at least two episodes there have been brief mentions of escaped convicts that usually don't have anything to do with the case, only for the criminals to show up near the end.
  • Conspicuous CGI: This has been introduced in more recent seasons for some reason.
  • The Coroner: Drs. Julia Ogden, Llewellyn Francis and Emily Grace.
  • Da Chief: Inspector Brackenreid.
  • The Danza: Thomas Craig as Inspector Thomas Brackenreid.
  • Dashingly Dapper Derby: Murdoch's got one, after Crabtree made detective, he gets the same hat too.
  • Daydream Surprise: Used frequently from Murdoch's perspective, mostly involving Doctor Ogden and kissing.
    • In one daydream Murdoch saw his older self camping with his wife and son. While Murdoch sees and seems to know the identity of the wife (he smiles when he sees her), the audience doesn't.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The episode "Murdoch.com" revolved around women being lured to their deaths by a sexual predator... on the telegraph lines.
  • Door Step Baby: George Crabtree, as revealed in a recent episode
  • Downer Ending: Series 3 concluded with Julia ending her relationship with William and leaving Toronto for Buffalo. To add insult to injury, William- having decided to propose to Julia- rushes to the train station just in time to see her train pulling away.
    • It's more Narm than anything else, since the train is still moving so slowly that he could have easily ran and climbed aboard, and even if it wasn't he could have just taken the next train.
    • Also applies to Series 4's conclusion, where it looks like William's future in the Toronto constabulary is under threat and Julia appears to go through with her wedding to Darcy despite still being in love with William.
  • Dr. Jerk: Murdoch regards Dr Francis this way.
  • Establishing Shot: In the form of tinted Stereoscopy photos (a type of 3D photography popular in the 1900s)
  • The Exile: Series 5 begins with Murdoch prospecting for gold in the Yukon, having left Toronto and the police force after his actions in the season 4 finale.
  • Fake Nationality: Canadian Dr. Ogden is played by Australian actress Helene Joy.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Sanguine: George
    • Choleric: Brackenreid
    • Melancholic: Murdoch
    • Plegmatic: Julia
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: (averted)
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Lots of this, particularly in any scene where the characters dress up formally. The basic style of dress and hair seems to be early 1890's, with excursions into the 1900's (see the Anachronism Stew entry above).
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Jack Bristow turns up in the series four premiere as Murdoch's retired predecessor.
    • Death believes adamantly in a Mummy's curse.
  • Historical Domain Character / In the Past Everyone Will Be Famous: Several well-known figures make appearances, including Jack London, Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, Harry Houdini, Arthur Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells, Nikola Tesla and Prince Albert Victor.
  • Historical In-Joke: Murdoch mentions the phrase "Call of the Wild" to Jack London.
  • Hot Scoop: Ruby Ogden. Her first appearance on the show involves her playing magician's assistant to Harry Houdini.
  • Hospital Hottie: Subverted with Doctor Ogden, who works in a morgue. Also played straight in the sense that the show is set well before doctors were wearing scrubs; she performs her duties in Gorgeous Period Dress.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The writers are quite fond of using anachronistically modern expressions for episode names
    • The episode about a serial killer who seduced women on line--telegraph lines, that is--is titled "Murdoch.com".
    • The one about a man who was murdered on an elevator is called aptly "This one goes up to eleven".
    • The episode where Murdoch wakes up to find himself in the wrong country, with no memory of how he got there and everyone trying to kill him is of course, named "The Murdoch Identity" (the episode even included a character called Treadstone).
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Often invoked by Inspector Brackenreid.
    • And in the final episode of series four, Murdoch.
  • In Vino Veritas / Kissing Under the Influence: After an evening of consuming absinthe, Murdoch and Julia end up making out on a blanket. Subverted in the case of the latter trope; neither regret their actions on the morning after and consequently pursue a relationship
  • Intrepid Reporter: Paddy Glynn frequently pops up at the Toronto Constabulary during the fourth season looking for a Big Scoop and usually irritating Inspector Brackenreid in the process. In the penultimate episode of the season, he's unmasked as the Kissing Bandit, a thief who has been robbing banks and giving the money to an orphanage and kissing women during the robberies. He tells Murdoch and Brackenreid that he did it to make the news instead of just reporting on it.
  • It's Personal: For Inspector Brackenreid, when his son is kidnapped and held for ransom.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Frequently, including several occasions where Murdoch or Crabtree invent entirely new policing methods or technologies (like the concept of pixels and digital transmission of images--with a telegraph), only for Inspector Brackenried to dismiss them.
    • In one episode Crabtree explains how he used tracing paper to follow a telephone line, and find out where the call came from. Nobody's interested.
    • Even Murdoch gets in on the game, when he scoffs at Crabtree's idea of a board game (basically, Clue).
    • The episode "Murdoch Night In Canada" is basically all about how paying people to play ice hockey will never catch on, and if it does, the game will be Ruined FOREVER. The chief constable also assures the Wellingtons' owner that one thing he doesn't have to worry about is Americans buying his players, because they'll never be interested in hockey.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Julia's reason for breaking off her relationship with William. Because she cannot have children, she leaves him in the hope that he'll find a woman who can give him a family.
  • Jack the Ripper: Believed to be murdering young women in Toronto in one episode. Murdoch is joined by a Scotland Yard detective who has been chasing the Ripper through Europe. He is later revealed to be the Ripper himself, and is killed by Doctor Ogden in self-defense.
  • Long-Lost Relative: In the series two finale, Murdoch discovers that the Mountie he is working on a case with is in fact his older half-brother, the product of an affair their father had before marrying Murdoch's mother.
    • In season two, George, who was a Door Step Baby meets his birth mother.
  • Lost Love Montage: Used very briefly in series one when Murdoch is thinking of Liza, his dead fiancee.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: The season two finale has a contract killer that specializes on this.
  • Moral Dissonance: While Murdoch and Dr. Ogden are quite ahead of their times, the setting is definitely not; racism and sexism are rampant, and Murdoch & Co. even run into eugenicists and anti-papists.
  • Myth Arc: For the first two seasons the episodes were mostly self-contained. Season 3 has one dealing with The Pendricks
  • Never Found the Body: In the season three finale after a chase and explosion the accomplice's body is found, but not Sally Pendrick. As of yet this has had no effect on the story, as season four went back to having self-contained episodes.
  • Officer O'Hara: The stationhouse is pretty evenly divided between the Irish and Scots.
  • Only So Many Canadian Actors: Every time a teenage character is presented, the actor is part of that same Degrassi/Family Channel Canada group.
  • Oop North: Inspector Brackenreid, like his actor, is from Yorkshire.
  • Opera Gloves: As a standard accessory to late Victorian and Edwardian women's formalwear, these are seen frequently in episodes where such dress is worn (e.g., Julia, who has just been called to a crime scene from an evening at the theater, wears black Opera Gloves - which she immediately takes off to examine a body - in the first season's "Elementary, My Dear Murdoch"; also in the first scene of the same season's "Child's Play").
  • The Other Darrin: Murdoch was originally played by Peter Outerbridge and Odgen by Keeley Hawes in the TV movie adaptation, Yannick Bisson and Helene Joy took over the roles for the series.
  • Parental Abandonment: Murdoch believed that his drunk father beat his mother, which would indirectly lead to her death. It wasn't true. He spent most of his childhood in an orphanage.
    • George's mother left him on a doorstep for a couple to look after.
  • Playing Against The Type: Mary Walsh and Gavin Crawford, playing a grieving mother of a murdered daughter and a possibly insane puppeteer, respectively. Both are best known as anchors on the comedy news show This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: "We don't call people "retarded" anymore, it's insensitive. The polite term is "moronic".
  • Promotion to Parent: Only hinted at in one episode, but a conversation between Murdoch and Brackenreid suggests that the latter lost his parents at a young age, and had to take care of his four younger siblings.
  • Quest for Identity: The series three opener finds Murdoch in England with no memory of who he is or how he got there. He spends the episode recovering his memory while on the run from criminals out to kill him.
  • Race For Your Love: At the end of series three, Murdoch rushes to the train station to propose to Julia before she leaves Toronto; he arrives in time to see her train pulling away.
  • Recurring Character: Canadian government spymaster Terrance Meyers seems to show up at least once per season.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Not to the extent of superheroic achievements but Murdoch is actually an author of several extremely useful inventions (e.g. sonar) he could have patented or manufactured.
  • Romancing the Widow: In series two Murdoch pursues a relationship with Enid Jones, a widowed single mother he meets while investigating a case.
  • Science Marches On: Intentionally invoked in the episode set at University of Toronto, where currently outdated scientific concepts (luminiferous aether) and laughably basic ideas (single/double molecular bonds) are presented as revolutionary and cutting-edge...because they were at the time.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: When William decides to unlock Ava Moon's cell and let her escape in the series four finale.
  • Shipper on Deck: Ruby Ogden, for William and Julia. When she returns in series four, she is clearly disappointed that Julia has chosen to marry Darcy over William.
  • Ship Tease: Ruby Ogden frequently flirts with George Crabtree and some scenes have alluded to their chemistry.
  • Short Run in Peru: Despite being a Canadian-produced series, new episodes air much earlier in the UK.
  • Slow-Loading Internet Image: Played with, for one case, Murdoch needed a photograph of a kidnapped woman, but the closest photo is in Paris, France. So Murdoch had the Paris police overlay a grid on the photo, assign a number to the colour in each grid square, then telegraph the number to Toronto (i.e. a jury-rigged fax). The final "paint-by-number" job took 2 days to do, slowing yielding more clues until the case was solved, when the entire painting was done.
  • Spin-Off: 'The Curse of the Lost Pharaohs', a 13 part web series based on the mystery novel Crabtree's written.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Murdoch and Dr Ogden, with a brace of Paolos each, and various other impediments. At the end of Season 3 Dr Ogden leaves Toronto because she can't give William children; as of Season 4 she's returned, but become engaged to another man while in Buffalo.
  • Steampunk: A couple of episodes toy with this, before the Season 3 finale goes full-tilt into it with Tesla's microwave death ray.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: A woman basketball team's worth. And back then, cross dressing was considered quite scandalous.
  • Temporary Love Interest: Anna Fulford. Murdoch first meets her in 'The Murdoch Identity' while suffering amnesia in Bristol, but remembers Julia before their relationship can go anywhere. She returns briefly in season four, but has to go into witness protection when her dead fiance's criminal gang target her. The Bus Came Back again briefly in series 5, but Murdoch was forced to fake Anna's death to help her escape this time.
  • The Gay Nineties
  • Those Two Guys: Crabtree and Higgins often fall into this when they're paired up
  • Written in Absence: Dr. Ogden leaves Toronto for a job at a children's hospital in Buffalo at the end of series three. She's still in Buffalo at the beginning of series four, but returns to Toronto and her old job halfway through the series.
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