Hunter (U.S. TV series)

This article is about the 1984-1991 police drama series. For the 1977 espionage series, see Hunter (U.S. 1977 TV series).

Title card for first three seasons of the show.
Genre Crime / Action
Created by Frank Lupo
Starring Fred Dryer
Stepfanie Kramer
Charles Hallahan
John Amos
Bruce Davison
Darlanne Fluegel
Lauren Lane
Arthur Rosenburg
John Shearin
Garrett Morris
James Whitmore, Jr.
Ruby Ramos
Perry Cook
Richard Beauchamp
Courtney Barilla
Eve McVeagh
Composer(s) Mike Post (1984–90)
Pete Carpenter (1984–90)
Walter Murphy (1990–91)
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 153 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Stephen J. Cannell (1984–85)
Roy Huggins (1985–88)
George Geiger (1988–89)
Fred Dryer (1989–91)
Running time 48 minutes (without commercials)
Production company(s) Stephen J. Cannell Productions
Distributor TeleVentures (1988-90)
Columbia Pictures Television (1990-1994)
Columbia/TriStar Television (1994-2002)
Sony Pictures Television (2002-)
Original network NBC
Original release September 18, 1984 – April 26, 1991

Hunter is an American police television drama created by Frank Lupo, which ran on NBC from 1984 to 1991. It starred Fred Dryer as Sgt. Rick Hunter and Stepfanie Kramer as Sgt. Dee Dee McCall. The title character Sgt. Rick Hunter was a wily, physically imposing, often rule-breaking homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. The show's main characters, Hunter and McCall, resolved many of their cases by lethal force, but no more so than many other related television dramas.

The show's executive producer during the first season was Stephen J. Cannell, whose company produced the series. Stepfanie Kramer left after the sixth season (1990) to pursue other acting and musical opportunities. In the seventh season, Hunter partnered with two different women officers.


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 19 September 18, 1984 May 18, 1985
2 23 September 21, 1985 May 20, 1986
3 22 September 27, 1986 July 18, 1987
4 22 September 24, 1987 May 7, 1988
5 22 October 29, 1988 May 21, 1989
6 22 October 14, 1989 May 7, 1990
7 22 September 19, 1990 April 26, 1991
TV films 3 March 6, 1995 April 12, 2003
Revival series 5 (2 unaired) April 19, 2003 May 3, 2003

Season one (1984–85)

The show was initially broadcast in a time slot on Friday night, competing for ratings against the popular Dallas. The show struggled to attract an audience and drew criticism for its often graphic depiction of violence. In the first season, the producers sought to create a hook by giving the main character a catchphrase, "Works for me", which was sometimes used two or three times in an episode and was even added to the end of Mike Post and Pete Carpenter's opening theme music. Several early episodes featured montages set to popular songs from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, in a style similar to Miami Vice.

Fred Dryer and Stepfanie Kramer in a 1988 promotional photo

Mid-way through the first season, with low ratings still, Cannell gave network chief Brandon Tartikoff a private screening of a two-part episode ("The Snow Queen") that had not yet aired, and asked him to give the show more time to attract viewers. Tartikoff agreed and put the show on hiatus until a better time slot could be found. Two months later, Hunter resumed, this time on Saturday nights, and viewership slowly started to rise. The first season finished in 65th place.

Season two (1985–86)

For its second season, Cannell brought in his mentor, Roy Huggins, best known for his work on Maverick and The Rockford Files, to refine the show. As the new executive producer, Huggins toned down the violence, softened the main character's fractious relationship with his superiors, dropped a backstory concerning Hunter's family ties to the mob, and emphasized the chemistry between Hunter and McCall. Huggins also moved the show's setting out of the back streets and into the more desirable areas of Los Angeles. Emboldened, Dryer and Kramer frequently improvised the scripts, and the Hunter character broke the fourth wall for the first time with an aside to viewers at the end of the episode "The Beautiful and the Dead".

Probably the most memorable aspect to the second season was the two-part episode "Rape and Revenge", which may have drawn from some diplomatic-immunity scandals that were prominent in the news. A psychopathic foreign diplomat meets McCall and wants to have a relationship with her, and after she declines, he brutally rapes her in her home. Hunter is badly shot in the shoulder and must recover quickly, then go to the diplomat's home country to dispense justice, Hunter-style. This episode was considered very controversial for its realistic and shocking depiction of a violent rape, which was not common in TV shows at the time. Because of the controversial plot and acting, "Rape and Revenge" is one of the most remembered and popular episodes of the series.

Another important aspect to the second season was towards its end (in the episode "The Return of Typhoon Thompson"), when viewers were first introduced to Hunter and McCall's favorite street informant—the eccentric but humorous Arnold "Sporty" James, played by Garrett Morris.

Viewers also responded to Huggins' changes, and the show's second season ended in 38th place in the Nielsen ratings. Hunter continued this progress to become a mainstay of NBC's Saturday-night schedule.

In syndication, the season-two introduction was replaced by the season-one introduction. The former showed Hunter entering a women's locker room in one scene, and and McCall and him pointing their guns at each other with the bathroom light on in another scene.

Season three (1986–87)

Just before work on the third season began, Dryer threatened to quit unless his salary, reportedly US$21,000 per episode, was raised and creative changes were made. Cannell responded with a US$20 million breach-of-contract lawsuit. A compromise was reached, a new deal with Dryer reportedly earning US$50,000 per episode. The third season, again led by Huggins, added Charles Hallahan as Captain Charlie Devane, who remained Hunter and McCall's captain for the rest of the show, eventually included in the opening credits of the show and becoming one of the show's main stars (none of the previous captains in the series had achieved this). This was the show's first season in the top 30, coming in at 25th.

In the episode "Shades" (which was the season finale, but aired later in the summer, in July 1987) when Hunter went missing, McCall teamed with a somewhat ditzy Columbo-like Detective Kitty O'Hearn (Shelley Taylor Morgan). O'Hearn reappeared during the season-four three-part episode "City of Passion". Another remembered episode from season three was "Requiem For Sergeant McCall", which was a contradiction to a storyline from the beginning of the show. When the show first started, McCall's husband (Steven McCall) was supposedly killed five years before, in 1979, by a "punk" kid during a routine stop. At that time, Steven and Dee Dee were newly married and starting out as rookie uniform cops. However, in 1987, in "Requiem", just five years before (which would be around 1982 instead of 1979), Steven was a homicide detective (while Dee Dee was still just a rookie) and he was working on a big murder case that resulted in him being killed. In "Requiem", Steven's killer is getting paroled, and Dee Dee McCall is doing everything she can to get him back in prison—plus trying to solve the original murder case that her husband died trying to solve five years earlier.

Season four (1987–88)

Huggins retired at the end of the fourth season, which placed 18th in the Nielsen ratings. A three-part storyline, "City of Passion", teamed Hunter and Dee Dee with detective O'Hearn (Morgan) and her new partner, Sgt. Brad Navarro (Erik Estrada). Together, they captured the serial rapist called Big Foot. Originally, the plot of "City of Passion" involved McCall getting raped again—this time by Big Foot, and she had to deal with the pain and emotions as she did in the second season's "Rape and Revenge". However, Stepfanie Kramer immediately balked at this and argued the rape idea had already been done, and to repeat it, as well as having her character put in a situation to get raped again, was ridiculous. Kramer threatened to quit unless the script was changed. Producers and writers agreed, and a compromise was made: Big Foot attacked and attempted to rape McCall, but she fought him and prevented the rape.

Also known as one of the more memorable episodes for fourth season was "The Black Dahlia". The real-life infamous unsolved Black Dahlia LA murder case from 1947 is thrust back into headlines as bones with identical cuts to the historical case are discovered under an old building being demolished. In the episode, Hunter and McCall solve the famous murder case 41 years to the day (1947–88) as the episode aired on the anniversary date of the real-life murder. As a special message at the end states, the real-life case is still open, and the real killer has never officially been caught (although in the years since 1988, several new theories and evidence supporting them have emerged, but none has been proven).

Season five (1988–89)

For the fifth season, George Geiger took on the role of executive producer, having worked in the same capacity on Scarecrow and Mrs. King, as well as a brief stint as co-executive producer on Miami Vice. In the first four seasons, Hunter and McCall typically worked on cases together, allowing the producers to showcase the chemistry between the actors, but the fifth season increasingly had them working apart, ostensibly to lessen the workload of Dryer and Kramer and to allow richer, more complex stories. So instead of jeans and an old sports jacket, Hunter often was seen in a full suit and tie.

One of the most memorable episodes of the fifth season was the special three-part episode "City Under Siege", which had a special introduction for each of the three parts. It dealt with a psychotic woman and her crazy boyfriend who go around terrorizing people in Los Angeles whom the woman felt had "wronged" her in some way, with Hunter being one of the intended victims. It also focused on the huge crime spree throughout the city and the pressure the police department was under to get it under control. In part two, Laurelle Brooks guest-starred as Allison, a naive high-school cheerleader who becomes a victim of the crime spree. At the end of the episode, statistics were presented showing a reduction of crime in Los Angeles that year. The fifth season placed 17th in the Nielsen ratings.

Season six (1989–90)

By the sixth season, Dryer's growing influence had won him the role of executive producer. Probably the most remembered episode of the sixth season was "Unfinished Business". During this episode, the audience learns that Hunter and McCall had actually once slept together, causing a rift in their working relationship. Fred Dryer stated that this episode was filmed to try to appease fans and the network, who were constantly wanting Hunter and McCall to get together. However, Fred Dryer and Stepfanie Kramer stated they did not want that to happen, because once it did, Hunter would become Hart To Hart.

Another memorable episode this season was "Yesterday's Child". In this episode, a Vietnamese man visits Hunter and pleads with him to take on the case of a robbery and murder at an upscale car dealership, of which his son was the main suspect. Over the course of the conversation, Hunter discovers that the 17-year-old suspect was actually his own son. The boy is revealed to be the product of a relationship Hunter had with a woman while he was in Vietnam.

Also for this season, homicide was moved to the more updated Parker Center, instead of the old downtown division building. However, at the end of the sixth season, which placed 26th in the Nielsen ratings, Stepfanie Kramer decided to leave the series to pursue a career in music. Kramer's character was written out in the season's two-part finale showing the McCall character marrying an old flame and moving out of Los Angeles.

Season seven (1990–91)

For the seventh and final season, the producers moved Hunter and Capt. Devane from divisional homicide to the elite "Metro" unit based at the Parker Center, and NBC shifted the show to 10 pm on Wednesdays. A new female co-star, Darlanne Fluegel as Officer Joanne Molenski, was brought in. However, she reportedly had creative differences with Fred Dryer, and halfway through the season, she decided she wanted out. Her character was murdered by a female serial killer in the two-part episode "Fatal Obsession". Her replacement for the second half of the season was Lauren Lane as Sgt. Chris Novak, supposedly a former girlfriend of Hunter's. Hunter's signature unmarked vehicle, a moss green 1977 Dodge Monaco, was also finally replaced (after an accident with Molenski's cruiser in the season's first episode) by an updated new silver 1990 Ford LTD Crown Victoria. Hunter was now also back to wearing jeans and a shirt. Also for the first time (barring the sixth season finale), Hunter made sporadic appearances in uniform.

However, the new partners and changes did little to boost ratings (47th in the Nielsen standings). A salary dispute involving Dryer led to the show's cancellation at the end of the season.[1]

Reunions and revivals

Four years after the original series ended, a reunion NBC TV movie, The Return of Hunter: Everyone Walks in L.A., had Dryer and Charles Hallahan reprise their roles as Rick Hunter and Charlie Devane. Hunter had now also been promoted to lieutenant. Airing on March 6, 1995, the movie ironically seemed to take the Dirty Harry idea as the plot—a psycho wants fame and/or to be noticed and begins terrorizing the city to gain media attention. Along the way, he becomes infatuated with attention from Hunter, eventually wanting to kill him. Stepfanie Kramer, pregnant at the time, did not reprise her role as Dee Dee McCall. The TV-movie co-starred Barry Bostwick, Miguel Ferrer, and John C. McGinley.

Seven years later in November 2002, 11 years after the original series ended, the reunion TV movie Hunter: Return to Justice made its premiere to strong ratings. This time, Stepfanie Kramer returned to her role as McCall, and the show's setting switched from Los Angeles to San Diego—as Hunter's current L.A. partner is killed in the line of duty.

Given the success of the TV movie, Cannell, Dryer, and NBC attempted to bring back Hunter as a regular series. In the weeks following the April 2003 airing of another TV movie, Hunter: Back in Force, served as the pilot for the new series. The network decided to broadcast three new one-hour episodes of Hunter ("Vaya Sin Dios", "Untouchable", and "Dead Heat"). Another two episodes were filmed (as originally five episodes were to be aired), but never shown in the U.S, as NBC decided to cancel the new series. Fred Dryer later cited "creative difficulties" and budget constraints as the reasons for the revival's unexpected end.

Cast and crew

Original series

Revival series



In the first and for several subsequent seasons, the pistol that Hunter carries is a Heckler and Koch P9S 9mm, with a muzzle compensator attached, as his primary weapon. It is also the pistol in the title introduction. McCall used a stainless .380 Beretta 90 in the first season. The Walther PPK that McCall uses is most likely a Walther PPK/S.

Hunter carries a Detonics Pocket 9 semi-automatic 9mm pistol and/or a Smith & Wesson Model 36 .38 Special snub-nosed revolver as his back-up weapons.

During the first two seasons, Hunter used a Desert Eagle in .44 Magnum and McCall used a Walther PPK in .32 ACP.

In several episodes, a Franchi SPAS 12 12-gauge shotgun was kept in the trunk of Hunter's car.

During the second season for a few episodes, Rick Hunter used a Ruger Speed Six in .357 magnum (2½" barrel).

During one episode of the second season, Rick Hunter used a Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver in .38 Special.

During seasons three and four, Hunter carries an Astra Terminator revolver in .44 Magnum as his primary weapon.

During one episode of the fifth season, McCall used a .38 Special S&W Model 60, this time in stainless steel.

During seasons five and six, 6, Hunter carries a 9mm Beretta 92F/FS semi-automatic pistol as his primary weapon. This pistol was the standard-issue sidearm of the LAPD at that time.

During seasons five and six, McCall also used a .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson 629.

During season sevev, Hunter carries a Smith & Wesson Model 5906, 9mm semi-automatic pistol as his primary weapon. This pistol was one of the LAPD's authorized duty weapons at that time.


In the pilot TV movie, Hunter drove a junker blue 1977 Dodge Monaco and a junker 1970 Ford LTD. Because Hunter constantly was getting into wrecks chasing bad guys and regularly "busted" up any cop car he was given, supposedly the department would only let him drive the complete junkers that would barely run. Once the series started (fall 1984), during the first season, Hunter drove a junker 1972 Chevrolet Impala, a junker 1971 Chevrolet Nova, an old 1974 Plymouth Satellite, and a junker 1979 Chevrolet Caprice Classic. A 1971 Impala was actually shown exploding to end the episodes using Chevrolets. Monacos seemed to be the cop car of choice, as the second season had Hunter occasionally driving a junker multiple-colored side panel 1977 Monaco (jokingly referred to as the "Partridge Family" Monaco), as well as other '77 models in yellow, brown, and black. After the show was more "established" and starting with the third season and through the first episode of seventh season, Hunter drove a moss green 1977 Monaco. This car was in better condition than the previous Monacos and became Hunter's trademark vehicle — to the point that when it was destroyed in the third season, it was replaced with an identical one. During the seventh and last season, Detective Hunter drove a new silver 1990 Ford LTD Crown Victoria.

During the first two seasons, McCall drove a garnet red and silver 1984 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z. Then starting with season three and on through season five, McCall drove a bright red 1987 Daytona Shelby Z (Sometimes though, a "Turbo Z" badge on this Daytona is also clearly visible). During the sixth season - her final season, she drove a gold-colored 1990 Dodge Dynasty. (An episode during the fourth or fifth season howed the outside of what was supposedly McCall's house and a yellow 1987 Ford Mustang was out front. However, McCall is only shown driving it once and then it was never shown again.)

Both Officer Joanne Molenski and Sgt. Chris Novak, during last season, drove a tan/beige 1990 LTD Crown Victoria.

In the first reunion movie, The Return of Hunter: Everyone Walks in L.A., Hunter drove a black 1995 Ford Crown Victoria. In Hunter: Return to Justice, McCall drove a silver 2002 Mercedes Benz CLK320 convertible. In Hunter: Back in Force and the subsequent new series, Hunter drove a black 2003 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor and McCall occasionally drove a black 2003 Ford Expedition.


In 2009, a movie adaptation was announced to be in development with a screenplay by Frank Lupo and Fred Dryer, to be directed by Lupo for Columbia Pictures, Anchor Bay Films, and Warner Bros. Pictures.

DVD releases

Anchor Bay Entertainment released the first three seasons of Hunter on Region 1 DVD between January 2005 and January 2006.[2][3][4] Due to poor sales, no further seasons were released.

On October 14, 2009, Mill Creek Entertainment was announced to have acquired the rights to several Stephen J. Cannell series, including Hunter.[5] They subsequently re-released the first two seasons on DVD.[6][7]

On July 27, 2010, Mill Creek released Hunter - The Complete Series, a 28-disc collection featuring all 152 episodes of the series.[8]

On November 10, 2011, Mill Creek Entertainment released The Return of Hunter TV special on DVD in a four- pack.[9]

DVD Name Ep# Release Date
The Complete First Season 19 January 11, 2005
January 19, 2010 (re-release)
The Complete Second Season 23 July 12, 2005
May 18, 2010 (re-release)
The Complete Third Season 22 January 3, 2006
The Complete Series 152 July 27, 2010
The Return of Hunter 1 November 10, 2011

International airings

See also


  1. and Stacy Jenel Smith, Marilyn Beck. "Silverman Thrown by 'MATLOCK' Shelving" Daily News of Los Angeles (CA) 22 May 1991, Valley, L.A. LIFE: L17. NewsBank. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 14, 2011. Retrieved June 18, 2011. Mill Creek Gets DVD Rights to 14 More Classic Stephen J. Cannell TV Programs!
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