Murder, She Wrote

This article is about the television series. For the reggae song, see Chaka Demus & Pliers.
Murder, She Wrote
Created by Peter S. Fischer
Richard Levinson[1]
William Link
Starring Angela Lansbury
William Windom
Tom Bosley
Ron Masak
Theme music composer John Addison
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 12
No. of episodes 264 (+ 4 TV movies)
(List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Angela Lansbury (1992–96)[2]
Peter S. Fischer
Richard Levinson
William Link
David Moessinger
Running time 48 minutes
(excluding commercials)
Production company(s) Universal Television
Corymore Productions
Distributor NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution (current)
Original network CBS[3]
Picture format 35 mm film
Original Broadcast:
4:3 480i (SDTV)
4:3 1080i (HDTV)
Original release September 30, 1984 – May 19, 1996
Related shows Magnum, P.I.
The Law & Harry McGraw

Murder, She Wrote is an American crime drama television series starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher.[4][5] The series aired for 12 seasons with 264 episodes from 1984 to 1996 on the CBS network. It was followed by four TV films and an unsuccessful spin-off series, which was produced in 1987, The Law & Harry McGraw.[6] It is one of the most successful and longest-running television shows in history, averaging close to 26 million viewers per week in its prime, and was a staple of the CBS Sunday night lineup for a decade.[7] In syndication, the series is still highly successful throughout the world.

Lansbury was nominated for a total of ten Golden Globes, and 12 Emmy Awards for her work on Murder, She Wrote. She holds the record for the most Golden Globe nominations and wins for Best Actress in a television drama series and the most Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Murder, She Wrote, with those nominations netting her four Golden Globe awards. The series received three nominations but no wins in the Outstanding Drama Series category at the Emmys. It was nominated for a Golden Globe in the same category six times and won twice.

With the series finished filming in 1995 for the 1996 season a series of four TV movies was then released between 1997 and 2003. In 2009, a point-and-click video game was released for the PC platform,[8] followed in 2012 by a sequel.[9] A spin-off book series, written by Donald Bain, continues publication at present.



Fischer, Levinson and Link thought Lansbury would be perfect for the part of Jessica Fletcher but had not dreamed that she would be interested in a television series. Earlier, she had acted in two film adaptations of Agatha Christie's mystery novels: as Salome Otterbourne in Death on the Nile and as the famous sleuth Miss Marple in The Mirror Crack'd (1980). When the latter film did poorly -- despite an all star cast including Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, and Tony Curtis -- the offer for Lansbury to reprise Miss Marple in three more films never materialized.[10]

When she made it known she would be available if the right project came along, the trio of creators sent her the script and almost immediately, Lansbury felt she could do something with the role of Jessica Fletcher. With Murder, She Wrote debuting on Sunday, September 30, 1984, the producers were able to parlay their "mystery writer/amateur detective" premise into a 12-year hit for CBS. It also made Lansbury, known previously for her motion picture and Broadway stage work, a household name for millions of television viewers. The title comes from Murder, She Said, which was the title of a 1961 film adaptation of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple novel 4:50 from Paddington.


The show revolves around the day-to-day life of Jessica Fletcher, a childless, widowed, retired English teacher who becomes a successful mystery writer. Despite fame and fortune, Jessica remains a resident of Cabot Cove, a small coastal community in Maine, and maintains her links with all of her old friends, never letting her success go to her head. Exterior shots of Cabot Cove were filmed in Mendocino, California. The fictional "Cabot Cove" name for the series' coastal town was derived from the name of an actual bay harbor inlet in Kennebunkport, Maine, located near the town's center, on the road where motels and lobster shack dives are located.

The show mostly starts with a preview of the episode's events, with Jessica stating: "Tonight On Murder, She Wrote..." Jessica invariably proves more perceptive than the official investigators, who are almost always willing to arrest the most likely suspect. By carefully piecing the clues together and asking astute questions, she always manages to trap the real murderer. Murder occurred with such regularity in her vicinity that the term "Cabot Cove syndrome" was coined to describe the constant appearance of dead bodies in remote locations. Indeed, if Cabot Cove existed in real life, it would top the FBI's national crime statistics in numerous categories, with some analysis suggesting that the homicide rate in Cabot Cove exceeds even that of the real-life murder capital of the world.[11] Fan theories have even arisen that Jessica herself is murdering these people since there is no better explanation for the sheer number of murders she encounters throughout the long run of the series besides her involvement in all of them.[12]

Jessica's relationship with law enforcement officials varies from place to place. Both sheriffs of Cabot Cove resign themselves to having her meddle in their cases. However, most detectives and police officers do not want her anywhere near their crime scenes, until her accurate deductions convince them to listen to her. Some are happy to have her assistance from the start, often because they are fans of her books. With time, she makes friends in many police departments across the U.S., as well as with a British police officer attached to Scotland Yard. At the start of season eight, more of the stories were set in New York City with Jessica moving into an apartment there part-time in order to teach criminology.


Angela Lansbury in September 1989

By August 1988, when Lansbury expressed weariness of her commitment, the series was expected to end in May 1989. Nevertheless, she continued in the role, with a few changes made. For the next two seasons, Lansbury reduced her appearances, several episodes in which she only appeared at the beginning and the end, to introduce stories starring several friends of Jessica, like PI Harry McGraw, reformed thief Dennis Stanton or MI5 agent Michael Hagarty. The "experiment" ended in 1991.[13]

By the end of the 1994–95 season, Murder, She Wrote's 11th season, CBS moved the network's then-longest-running weekly series to Thursday nights at 8 p.m. This put the series in direct competition with the first hour of NBC's Must See TV lineup, which had been drawing the highest ratings of the week for any network for years. Despite protests of many of the show's fans (who believed CBS was intentionally setting the show up to fail in its new timeslot), CBS refused to budge on the new timeslot. Murder, She Wrote plummeted from eighth to 58th in the yearly ratings; the series lost nearly 6 million viewers as the audience was not willing to follow it to Thursday, which left CBS with little choice but to end Murder, She Wrote after 12 seasons in August 1996.

To soften the blow, the network agreed to air the final four episodes in its original Sunday night timeslot, as well as commission four Murder, She Wrote movies over the next few years: the first was South by Southwest (1997), with three more following as A Story to Die For (2000), The Last Free Man (2001), and The Celtic Riddle (2003).[14]

Lansbury stated in May 2011 that she would like to make a comeback appearance as Jessica Fletcher.[15]

However, in a 2015 interview, Lansbury squashed the idea of reprising the much beloved character stating, "I think it would be a downer. In some way, we’d have to show her as a much older woman, and I think it’s better to maintain that picture we have in our mind’s eye of her as a vigorous person. I’m still pretty vigorous, especially in the garden … but if I wanted to transform myself back into the woman I looked like then, it would be ridiculous. And I can't do that."[16]


Regular cast

Recurring cast

Guest stars


Crossover with Magnum, P.I.

The episode of Magnum, P.I. entitled "Magnum on Ice" concludes a crossover that begins on the earlier Magnum, P.I. episode "Novel Connection". In the episode's plot, Jessica comes to Hawaii to investigate an attempt to murder Robin Masters' guests, then tries to clear Magnum when he's accused of killing the hitman.

Awards and nominations

Over its twelve-year run Murder, She Wrote received numerous award nominations. Angela Lansbury herself holds the record for the most Emmy nominations for outstanding lead actress in a drama series with twelve, one for each season. She never won, which is also a record. Mary Dodson, the art director for 102 of the series' 264 episodes, received three Emmy nominations for her work on Murder, She Wrote.[17]

Group Award Year(s) Result
Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Angela Lansbury) 1985–96 Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (John Addison) 1985[18] Won
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Bruce Babcock) 1993, 1995 Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design for a Series (Alfred E. Lehman) 1986[18] Won
Golden Globe Awards Best TV Series – Drama 1985, 1986 Won
Best TV Series – Drama 1987–90 Nominated
Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series – Drama (Angela Lansbury) 1985, 1987, 1990 & 1992 Won
Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series – Drama (Angela Lansbury) 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993 & 1995 Nominated
Edgar Awards Best Episode of a TV Series ("Deadly Lady") 1985 Won
Best Episode of a TV Series ("The Dead File") 1993 Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series – Drama (Angela Lansbury) 1995 Nominated

U.S. television ratings

Murder, She Wrote maintained extremely high ratings finishing in the top 15 of shows for eleven of its 12 seasons (eight of which it was in the top 10), even well into its late seasons. By its 11th season, Murder, She Wrote was still averaging 25 million viewers per week. However, at the beginning of its 12th season in 1995, CBS moved the show from its extremely popular Sunday night time slot to Thursday night forcing it to compete with NBC's Must See TV line up, and as a result the ratings plummeted. The show rated as the following:

Television ratings
Season Episodes Season premiere Season finale TV season Rank Rating
1 22 September 30, 1984 April 21, 1985 1984–85 #8[19] 20.1
2 22 September 29, 1985 May 18, 1986 1985–86 #3[20] 25.3
3 22 September 28, 1986 May 10, 1987 1986–87 #4[21] 25.4
4 22 September 20, 1987 May 8, 1988 1987–88 #4[22] 20.2
5 22 October 23, 1988 May 21, 1989 1988–89 #8[23] 19.9
6 22 September 24, 1989 May 20, 1990 1989–90 #13[24] 17.7
7 22 September 16, 1990 May 12, 1991 1990–91 #12[25] 16.4
8 22 September 15, 1991 May 17, 1992 1991–92 #8[26] 16.9
9 22 September 20, 1992 May 16, 1993 1992–93 #5[27] 17.7
10 21 September 12, 1993 May 22, 1994 1993–94 #11[28] 16.0
11 21 September 25, 1994 May 14, 1995 1994–95 #8[29] 15.6
12 24 September 21, 1995 May 19, 1996 1995–96 #58[30] 9.50

Broadcast history

Abandoned reboot

Deadline Hollywood reported in October 2013 that NBC was planning a reboot of the series, starring Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer as a "hospital administrator and amateur sleuth who self-publishes her first mystery novel."[31] Angela Lansbury has commented that she is not a fan of using the title, saying "I think it's a mistake to call it 'Murder, She Wrote,' because 'Murder, She Wrote' will always be about Cabot Cove and this wonderful little group of people who told those lovely stories and enjoyed a piece of that place, and also enjoyed Jessica Fletcher, who is a rare and very individual kind of person." Early on it was decided by producers that Spencer's character would not be named Jessica Fletcher, for only Lansbury could play Jessica Fletcher.[32] It was announced on January 21, 2014, that the reboot would not be going forward.[33]

International syndication

Since its original run on CBS, Murder, She Wrote has been syndicated in many countries around the world.

Country Channel(s) Title Literal translation Language
Argentina Argentina - Reportera del crimen Crime Reporter Spanish dubbed
Australia Australia Nine Network,
Network Ten,
Seven Network,
111 Greats,
FOX Classics,
Murder, She Wrote English
Austria Austria ORF,
Puls 4
Mord ist ihr Hobby Murder Is Her Hobby German dubbed
Belgium Belgium: Flanders VTM,
Murder, She Wrote English,
Dutch subtitles
Belgium Belgium: Wallonia La Une Arabesque French dubbed
Brazil Brazil Universal Channel Assassinato por Escrito Written Murder Portuguese dubbed
Bulgaria Bulgaria Fox Crime,
AXN White
Убийство по сценарий Murder by Script Bulgarian dubbed, Bulgarian subtitles
Canada Canada Vision TV Murder, She Wrote English
Quebec Canada: Quebec TQS Elle écrit au meurtre She Writes "Murder!" French dubbed
Chile Chile Canal 13 Reportera del crimen Crime Reporter Spanish dubbed
Croatia Croatia HRT Ubojstvo, napisala je Murder, She Wrote English,
Croatian subtitles
Czech Republic Czech Republic Nova,
To je vražda, napsala That Is Murder, She Wrote Czech dubbed
Denmark Denmark DR 1,
DR 2,
TV 3
Hun så et mord She Saw a Murder English,
Danish subtitles
Estonia Estonia TV3 Mõrv sai teoks Murder Became True English,
Estonian subtitles
Fiji Fiji FBC TV Murder She Wrote English
Finland Finland YLE TV1,
MTV3 Sarja, Kolmoskanava,
Murhasta tuli totta Murder Became True English,
Finnish subtitles
France France La Cinq,
TV Breizh, TMC
Arabesque Arabesque French dubbed
Germany Germany ARD,
Super RTL,
Sat.1 Gold,
TNT Serie,
kabel eins,
Immer, wenn sie Krimis schrieb;
Mord ist ihr Hobby
Whenever She Wrote Crime Novels;
Murder is Her Hobby
German dubbed, original English version
Greece Greece Star Channel Η συγγραφέας ντετέκτιβ The Detective Writer English,
Greek subtitles
Hungary Hungary Viasat 3 Gyilkos sorok Murderous Lines Hungarian dubbed
Republic of Ireland Ireland RTÉ One Murder, She Wrote English
Israel Israel HOT
Israel 10
רצח במשיכת קולמוס Murder With a Stroke of Pen English,
Hebrew subtitles
Italy Italy Rai Uno,
Fox Crime,
Rai Due
Rete 4
La signora in giallo The Lady in Yellow[34] Italian dubbed
Japan Japan NHK,
Mystery Channel,
LaLa TV,
Chiba TV,
Gunma TV
Jessica obasan no jikenbo
Auntie Jessica's Case Files Japanese dubbed
Kuwait Kuwait KTV 2 Murder, She Wrote English,
Arabic subtitles
Latvia Latvia LTV
Fox Crime
Noziegumam pa pēdām On the Trail of the Crime Latvian dubbed
Lithuania Lithuania TV3 Džesika Flečer Jessica Fletcher Lithuanian dubbed
Republic of Macedonia Macedonia Fox Crime Убиство, таа напиша Murder, She Wrote English,
Macedonian subtitles
Mexico Mexico 4TV (former),
Universal Channel (former),
FX Latin America (current)
La reportera del crimen The Crime Reporter Spanish dubbed
Netherlands Netherlands RTL 8,
13th Street Universal
Murder, She Wrote English,
Dutch subtitles
New Zealand New Zealand TV One,
Murder, She Wrote English
Norway Norway TV3,
Jessica Fletcher Jessica Fletcher English,
Norwegian subtitles
Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Television,
Murder, She Wrote English
Philippines Philippines GMA Network,
Murder, She Wrote English
Poland Poland 13th Street,
AXN Crime
Napisała: Morderstwo Murder, She Wrote English,
Polish voice-over translation
Portugal Portugal RTP 1,
Crime, Disse Ela Crime, She Said English,
Portuguese subtitles
Romania Romania Pro Cinema,
TVR 2,
AXN Crime,
AXN White,
AXN Spin
Verdict: Crimă Verdict: Murder English,
Romanian subtitles
Russia Russia NTV,
Она написала убийство Murder, She Wrote Russian dubbed
Serbia Serbia FOX Crime Pisac i detektiv A Writer and a Detective English,
Serbian subtitles
Slovakia Slovakia Markíza To je vražda, napísala Murder, She Wrote Slovak dubbed
Slovenia Slovenia RTVSLO
Kanal A
FOX Crime
TV3 Slovenia
Umor, je napisala Murder, She Wrote English,
Slovene subtitles
South Africa South Africa TV1 Murder, She Wrote English
South Korea South Korea MBC 제시카의 추리 극장
Jessica-eui Churi Geukjang
Jessica's Detective Theatre Korean dubbed
Spain Spain TVE,
Calle 13,
Se ha escrito un crimen A Crime Has Been Written Spanish dubbed
Catalonia Spain: Catalonia TV3 S'ha escrit un crim A Crime Has Been Written Catalan dubbed
Galicia (Spain) Spain: Galicia TVG Escribiuse un crime A Crime Has Been Written Galician dubbed
Sweden Sweden TV3,
TV4 Guld
Mord och inga visor Murder and No Melodies[35] English,
Swedish subtitles
Turkey Turkey TRT 1,
Star TV,
Kanal D
TNT Türkiye
Cinayet Dosyası Murder File Turkish dubbed
Ukraine Ukraine СТБ Вона написала вбивство Murder, She Wrote Ukrainian dubbed
United Kingdom United Kingdom ITV,
Murder, She Wrote English
United States United States Hallmark Movie Channel,
TV Land,
Cozi TV
Murder, She Wrote English
Uruguay Uruguay Monte Carlo Televisión Reportera del crimen Crime Reporter Spanish dubbed
Venezuela Venezuela Televen Reportera del crimen Crime Reporter Spanish dubbed


In 1985, Warren Company released a Murder, She Wrote board game. In the game, one player takes the hidden role of a killer and the other players try to determine which player is the killer through deduction. The killer is successful if he or she can kill five of the characters on the game-board and escape, while the detective players win by correctly deducing the identity of the killer.

In December 2009, casual game developer and publisher Legacy Interactive, under license with Universal Pictures Digital Platforms Group (UPDPG), announced the release a PC and Macintosh video game based on the television series. In the game, players help Jessica Fletcher to solve five unusual murders.[36][37] A sequel, Murder She Wrote 2, was launched by Legacy Interactive in November 2012.[38]



  1. Silden, Isobel (August 17, 1989). "It's No Crime When Yesterday's Stars Get Into 'Murder'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  2. Weinstein, Steve (May 21, 1994). "Television: After 10 years and more than 200 corpses, no one has been able to knock off 'Murder, She Wrote,' powered by you-know-who.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  3. Haithman, Diane (October 20, 1990). "TV: The grind of a weekly hour series is too much, but a half-hour show is something else.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  4. Harmetz, Aljean (October 27, 1985). "Angela Lansbury's unlikely sleuth has staying power". The New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
  5. Weinraub, Bernard (December 1, 1991). "TELEVISION; Angela Lansbury Has a Hit. She Wants Respect". The New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
  6. "The Law And Harry McGraw and Murder, She Wrote". Poobala. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  7. "TV Ratings Archive – 1988/1989". USA Today Weekly. September 25, 1988. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
  8. E3 2009: Murder, She Wrote game coming to the PC,, June 8, 2009; retrieved January 14, 2010.
  9. "First screenshots of Murder, She Wrote". November 17, 2011. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  10. Brunsdale, Mitzi M., Icons of Mystery and Crime Detection: From Sleuths to Superheroes. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, LLC (2010), p. 307
  11. "Murder She Wrote" location named as Murder Capital of World
  12. "TV Conspiracy Theory: Was Angela Lansbury Actually a Serial Killer on ‘Murder She Wrote’?",; accessed August 10, 2016.
  13. "A break, she needed, from Murder She Wrote". The Hamilton Spectator. May 24, 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  14. "Movies Keep `Murder, She Wrote' Alive". Chicago Tribune. August 5, 1997. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  15. "'Murder, She Wrote' Angela Lansbury Return". Entertainment Weekly. May 13, 2011. Retrieved February 22, 2012.
  16. Bobbin, Jay (2015-07-17). "Angela Lansbury thinks reviving Jessica Fletcher 'would be a downer'". Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  17. Barnes, Mike (2016-02-21). "Mary Weaver Dodson, Art Director on 'Murder, She Wrote', Dies at 83". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  18. 1 2 Du Brow, Rick (September 13, 1991). "Television: Angela Lansbury is miffed that her top-rated series, a CBS bulwark, is routinely ignored at Emmy time: 'The industry is barely aware the show exists.'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  19. "TV Ratings: 1984–85". Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  20. "TV Ratings: 1985–86". Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  21. "TV Ratings: 1986–87". Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  22. "TV Ratings: 1987–88". July 26, 2002. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  23. "TV Ratings: 1988–89". Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  24. "TV Ratings: 1989–90". Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  25. "TV Ratings: 1990–91". Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  26. "TV Ratings: 1991–92". Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  27. "TV Ratings: 1992–93". Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  28. "TV Ratings: 1989–90". Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  29. "TV Ratings: 1994–95". Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  30. "TV Ratings: 1995–96". Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  31. Andreeva, Nellie (Oct 24, 2013). "NBC To Reboot 'Murder, She Wrote' With Octavia Spencer Starring, Alex Cunningham Writing And David Janollari Producing". Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  32. "Angela Lansbury is not happy with 'Murder, She Wrote' remake". Los Angeles Times. November 11, 2013.
  33. Andreeva, Nellie (January 21, 2014). "NBC's 'Murder She Wrote' Reboot Not Going Forward, Could Be Revisited In The Future". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
  34. In Italian, the "yellow genre" expression is equivalent to crime fiction from the 1930s when an Italian publisher, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, published a series of crime fiction books using a yellow cover.
  35. While "Murder and No Melodies" is the literal translation, the translation is a word play, alluding to the Swedish idiom "Ord och inga visor" ("Words and no melodies"), with the idiomatic meaning "plain speaking" or "hard, honest words".
  36. "" (Press release). Legacy Interactive. December 18, 2009. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  37. Murder, She Wrote for PC
  38. Murder, She Wrote 2 for PC
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Murder, She Wrote
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/23/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.