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Join me. Perhaps you may be able to help solve a mystery.—Robert Stack's intro for the first few seasons.
This TV show ran from 1987-2002 and was hosted for most of its run (which Channel Hopped from NBC to CBS and then Lifetime) by Robert Stack. It was revived in 2008 on Spike TV and is now hosted by Dennis Farina.
As the show's name implies, this series delves into a variety of mysteries, showing dramatic re-enactments of each. They can range from typical missing persons cases and stories of lost loved ones to the paranormal: ghost stories, UFO's, the Loch Ness Monster, and all that good stuff.
Although it's presented like a piece of fiction, most every mystery is real. In fact, roughly 400 of this show's mysteries have been solved. It is believed to have originally directly competed with America's Most Wanted. Both versions of the show have a telephone hotline set up that you can call if you have any information, while the current version only has a website. And some of the mysteries presented back then are still being solved to this day.
These are true tropes, from the files of TV Tropes.org:
- Catch Phrase: "This is a true story, from the files of Unsolved Mysteries."
- "What you are about to see is not a news broadcast."
- "Join me. Perhaps maybe you can help solve a mystery!"
- Cool Old Guy: Robert Stack, and how.
- Downer Ending: Some mysteries.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Believe it or not, Robert Stack had a TON of acting credits to his credit LONG before this show began. One of his more notable roles was in Airplane!
- Never Suicide: Probably the most common type of case during Stack's era involved someone being found dead, with Stack always introducing the segment by saying "the police ruled it a suicide, but the family says...MURDER." In many cases it WAS pretty obviously a suicide and the family was clearly just in denial, but the show would always side with the family.
- And to be fair, some were so obviously not a suicide, complete with multiple types of blood being found at the crime scene, or victims that were bound with packing wire before being dumped into incinerators, that it made you wonder just who the police thought they were fooling.
- New Kids on the Block: One of the cases featured a missing teenage girl who was supposedly seen in one of their concerts and caught on tape. It also included a brief interview with the Jon and Jordan Knight, in which they asked for any info about her.
- The Men in Black: An episode dealing with UFO sightings also talked about them
- Un Cancelled: After a whopping six years!!!
- The Un-Reveal: Everyone realized that the truly unexplained paranormal mysteries were never going to be solved. It didn't make their episodes on them any less awesome.
- Some of the more infamous crime based cases the show covered, such as the harassment of Bill and Dorothy Wacker or the Circleville Letter Writer, will likely never be solved since in the former case both of the victims are now dead, and in the latter case the only remotely plausible suspect has already served a prison sentence and still actively denies he had anything to do with it.