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Miami Vice.jpg

Miami Vice is a crime drama Buddy Cop Show which ran on NBC from 1984-1989.

Conceived by Brandon Tartikoff as "MTV Cops," the series drew much of its premise from real-life laws allowing property seized from drug dealers to be used in drug enforcement. In other words, if a drug dealer has a Cool Car or Cool Boat, and that drug dealer is jailed, the police can use his stuff. These laws gave the producers a perfectly valid excuse for putting their public-servant characters in Ferraris and Armani suits.

The series starred Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as James "Sonny" Crockett and Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs, undercover Vice detectives posing as drug dealers. Crockett was the Cowboy Cop; Tubbs was a New York cop who came to Miami to avenge his brother's murder.

The series was notable for its use of contemporary popular music, and for being one of the first shows regularly broadcast in stereo. By design, the show often resembled a music video rather than a standard Police Procedural. Extended musical sequences were common, often featuring little or no dialogue and numerous images of cars, boats, guns, nightlife, and scenery. The show was filmed on location in Miami, and made use of a distinctive color palette, mostly white and pastels.

Crockett's white-suit-over-t-shirt style, Perma Stubble, and Ray-Ban sunglasses all became fashion trends. His lack of socks did not.

A film of the series was released in 2006 starring Colin Farrell as Crockett and Jamie Foxx as Tubbs, on which Your Mileage May Vary.

Miami Vice features examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Some of the bad guys are polite enough... until it comes time to pull the weapons out...
  • Anyone Can Die: Rodriguez and Zito.
  • Badass Beard: Tubbs occasionally grows one of these as a disguise. Might possibly qualify as Beard of Evil since he does it to pose as a drug dealer.
  • Badass Boast: From the episode "Glades". A drug dealer has a shotgun to the head of an innocent young girl, taunting Crockett that all he needs to do is twitch and the girl is dead. Crockett's response? "Maybe you won't... even... twitch..." Then he shoots the drug dealer in the head. He didn't twitch.
  • Badass Spaniard: Tubbs technically qualifies for this trope, but his Puerto Rican heritage is rarely brought up. He's fluent in Spanish but never has an accent while speaking English.
  • Battle Couple: Of the few times they're paired together, Tubbs and Valerie are this.
  • Beleaguered Childhood Friend/Broken Pedestal: The repeated moments when one of the heroes would find out an old friend, love interest, or a colleague they trusted had gone bad.
    • The ending of the acclaimed episode "Out Where The Buses Don't Run."
  • Berserk Button: Tubbs hates machine guns... especially when they are being fired directly at him. Kind of ironic since he himself keeps an arsenal that would make the NRA squeal with delight.
    • Also Crockett and men who abuse women. Taking an ugly turn if he's drunk.
    • Don't ever touch Tubbs' Cadillac... just don't.
  • BFG: Tubbs carries various shortened shotguns as his standard sidearm. Commonly an Ithaca 37 Stakeout or a sawed-off double barrel.
  • Bittersweet Ending/Downer Ending: Many, many of both.
    • One of the first cop shows where the good guys didn't always win, or if they did there was a high price to pay.
  • Bloodless Carnage: For all the shootouts that took place on the show, they rarely used squibs or showed blood.
    • The blood would show after a nice edit cut. And would be driblets, not gaping wounds.
  • Career Killers
  • Cartwright Curse: Crockett's second wife Caitlin.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Tubbs.
  • Cool Boat
  • Cool Car
  • Cool Pet: Crockett has a pet alligator, Elvis.
  • Cool Shades
  • Corrupt Bureaucrat: see Dirty Cop
  • Cowboy Cop: Willie Nelson shows up as a Texas Ranger.
  • Criminal Amnesiac: Crockett loses his memory while undercover as a drug dealer. As a result, he becomes the drug dealer and proceeds to take over much of the Miami market. But in the process he shoots Tubbs when his ex-partner tries to force his memories back. When Crockett does regain his memory and tries to return to the vice squad, he's arrested. It takes a convoluted plot of defeating an Ax Crazy criminal and saving Tubbs' life to return Crockett to the force.
  • Cuffs Off, Rub Wrists: Done by both Crockett and Tubbs early in the episode Freefall
  • Da Chief: Castillo, played by Edward James Olmos.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!
  • Darker and Edgier: Later seasons traded in the bright colors and pastels for darker clothing (and darker stories).
  • Death Glare: Lieutenant Castillo. Edward James Olmos just pulls this off like nobody else.
  • Death Seeker: The title character of "Evan" is implied to be this.
  • Dirty Cop: One of the show's themes was how the "lure of easy money" surrounding the drug traffic could turn even your closest friends on the police force into backstabbing criminals.
  • Dirty Harriet: Gina and Trudy.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock
  • Drugs Are Bad
  • The Eighties: Arguably the most influential TV of said decade. Many people's ideas of the '80s come straight from Miami Vice
  • Fake Defector
  • Fashion Dissonance: Textbook example.
  • Friends with Benefits: Sonny and Gina, for a little while.
  • Gray and Grey Morality: Crockett and Tubbs on occasion mingle with people who are doing what they can just to get by. Not everyone's a criminal, and not everyone's a saint.
  • Heroic BSOD: What happens to some of the good cops who don't go crooked: they go mad instead.
    • Partly explains what happens to Crockett when he gets hit with amnesia: his second wife had just been killed by a Serial Killer seeking revenge on Crockett, and the aftershock of what happened made it easy for him to forget when the time came.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: If the crew isn't bringing down drug dealers, they're investigating sex crimes usually involving prostitutes. Some of their informants on the drug cases are call girls and streetwalkers.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: "Crockett's Theme".
  • Karma Houdini: Some villains (and some heroes) never answer for the crimes they commit.
  • Magical Computer: The crazed ex-cop Hank in "Out Where The Buses Don't Run" works with a computer to track the "missing" drug lord that Hank is obsessed with catching. The computer "Lorraine" (named for Hank's ex-wife) operates with a mind and personality of its own, and does things that computers in 1985 really didn't do.
  • Mind Screw: The UFO episode
  • Montage
  • Music Video Syndrome: Especially in the pilot.
  • Only in Miami: Some episodes were loosely based on some of the crazier things that happened in South Florida.
  • Parallel Porn Titles: Miami Spice and Miami Spice II.
  • Perma Stubble
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Switek and Zito.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: A proposed spinoff featuring younger vice detectives, which never came to fruition.
  • Product Placement: The Cool Car and cool clothes throughout the series.
    • Also applies to Crockett's handguns in the the television series, namely the Bren Ten for the first two seasons, and the Smith & Wesson 645 for the rest of the series.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Crockett
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Started being integrated into the plot more once Dick Wolf became executive producer. Considering the number of crazy things that happen in Florida, it was easy.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: How Tubbs ends up in Miami as Crockett's partner. It pops up as motivation for some of the more Ax Crazy villains that would guest-star every other week.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The department's original boss, Lieutenant Rodriguez.
  • Samurai: Castillo. His martial arts training made him into a stealthy katana-wielding Badass, but his code of honor was pure Bushido. Highlighted in the second season episode aptly titled "Bushido".
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Scenery Porn: filming on location in South Florida helps.
  • Shoot Your Mate
  • Special Guest: Many now-famous actors (Ed O'Neill, Bruce Willis, Julia Roberts), musicians (James Brown, Phil Collins, Sheena Easton) and other notable people (G. Gordon Liddy) appeared in bit parts throughout the series, regardless if they fit the role or not.
    • Pam Grier deserves a special mention as Valerie... Tubbs' on again, off again true love. One of the few guests to reappear in several episodes, including a feature length.
  • The Stoic: Lieutenant Castillo.
  • True Companions: One of the reasons why none of the Miami Vice crew turn corrupt except for when Crockett loses his identity. And even then, the bond of friendship is what brings him back into the fold.
  • Unintentional Period Piece
  • Vietnam War: Crockett was a veteran. Castillo was working overseas CIA/DEA cases in Southeast Asia during the same period. Old friends (and enemies) from their pasts would show up for a few episodes.
  • Viewer Stock Phrases: Folks who watched this show might say.....
    • If you were born before 1982 — "Oh man! I remember that song!"
    • "Where can I get that suit/car/boat/gun?"
    • "Do the good guys ever win??"
    • If you were born after 1989 and you see a rerun for the first time — "Where's Colin Farrell/Jamie Foxx?"
  • X Meets Y: The "MTV Cops" conception.