Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

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Mike and Sully

A TV Western about Dr. Michaela "Mike" Quinn, who takes a post as a doctor in a frontier town. As a woman doctor in a post-civil war time, she often faces prejudice against women being licensed M.D.s. This was part of the reason she moved away from her hometown of Boston in the first place.

Once in the town of Colorado Springs Dr. Quinn becomes one of its prominent citizens, although she still has to fight for her reputation as a doctor. She meets Sully, a Mountain Man, and Charlotte, a midwife who dies and asks Dr. Mike to raise her children. Michaela thus becomes a mother to three children, Matthew, Colleen, and Brian.

Dr. Quinn is played by Jane Seymour, and Joe Lando plays Sully.


Tropes used in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman include:
  • The Alcoholic: Jake struggles with this. As does Grace.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Repeatedly played straight with Preston Lodge.
  • As You Know: Colleen, trying to save Sully from Jake: "He saved your life! Those Indians wanted to kill you when you accidentally shot one of them, and he persuaded them not to. You owe him!"
  • Attractive Bent Gender: Jake disguises himself as a woman in one episode, and gets taken hostage by two bandits. Both bandits take a shine to "her."
  • The Barber: Jake.
  • Bar Brawl: Frequently.
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Averted. Miss Olive's will specifically states that her body actually be buried on the lone prairie rather than carted hither and yon.
  • California Doubling: The show was filmed at the Paramount Ranch in California, where the landscape isn't particularly like Colorado Springs at all.
  • Cheerful Child: Brian, much of the time. He tends to be this in contrast with Loren.
  • Culture Clash: A major part of the series, with civilized, forward-thinking Michaela constantly running up against the deeply-ingrained racism, misogyny, bigotry, etc. of a backwoods Western town.
  • Cut Short/Grand Finale: The series was swiftly cancelled after its sixth season, but they had enough lead time to put together a nice enough finale. It ends with Colleen and Andrew's wedding, right before she leaves for medical school. Grace tells Robert E. that she's pregnant with their child. Jake shows Teresa a sketch of a house he plans on building for them. Loren and Dorothy enter into a business arrangement. Preston sells the Chateau.
  • The Dandy: Preston.
  • December-December Romance: Loren's courtship of Dorothy and his flirtation with Mrs. Quinn.
  • Dramatic Irony: One episode had the town terrified of the world ending from a meteor. As you know, it didn't.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: One episode revolved around these. Horace sued Hank for punching him and breaking his nose, and Loren sued Preston for injuries sustained after slipping into a hot spring at Preston's resort (though in Loren's case, he was faking injury just to get back at Preston).
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Done pretty often, and probably necessary, given that this was a family show airing at 8PM.
    • After rescuing Mike from the gang of dog soldiers who kidnapped her, Sully gently asks if they "hurt" her. She tells him "no". His relief indicates that he was actually asking if they had raped her.
    • Horace complains about "losing the mood" when his and Myra's romantic evening is interrupted. The Reverend assures him that "all men lose their moods sometimes". Three guesses what they're really talking about...
    • In the first episode, Myra asks to see Dr. Mike about a "female problem". After treating her, Mike advises Hank that Myra needs to be "chaste" for several weeks. When Hank complains about the loss of revenue, Mike warns him that he'll lose a lot more if she has to end up treating his customers as well.
    • Hank points out Mike that her sister Marjorie is ill, citing her fevers and headaches. "I've seen it in my girls plenty of times. That husband left her with more than a broken heart." Mike suddenly realizes that her sister's unfaithful husband has given her an STD.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Sully whenever he ditches the buckskins for a nice suit, particularly when he's in Boston. Not that there's anything wrong with the buckskins, of course.
  • Historical Domain Character: Black Kettle, General Custer, Walt Whitman, and a few other historical figures show up in the series.
  • Hollywood Costuming: Though not as bad as some.
  • Hollywood History: The historical consultant stopped showing up when it was clear they weren't really listening to her.
    • Sully is a Mountain Man, though the fur trade, and the mountain men who made it possible, had disappeared decades before the setting of the show. There were still some former mountain men around (such as Kit Carson and Jim Bridger), and a few stragglers WAY out in the wilderness, but they were at least a generation older than Sully.
      • Sully dresses like a Mountain man but in actuality he lives and works with the local Native Tribe rather than trapping or trading. Once he and Mike get married he's actually a farmer mostly.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Myra, then later Emma. Most of the prostitutes fall into this category, actually.
  • How Many Fingers?:

Dr. Quinn: Horace, are you all right?
Jake: How many fingers?
Horace: Chocolate.
Dr. Quinn: I think he's finished for the day.

  • Humans Are White: Subverted; the blacksmith and local restauranteur are both black and have to deal with the expected racism. There is also a Mexican schoolteacher in the later seasons. Black cowboys come through town with the cattle drives, too, as well as Asian men with the building of the railroad.
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: Horace and Myra, once they get over their anxiety. Dr. Mike and Sully too.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Hank, arguably. He's the local purveyor of whores and booze, a racist, and a bigot, but he occasionally goes out of his way to help someone or show that he cares; i.e. when he comes to Myra and Horace's wedding. Or despite his racist tendencies, is one of the few people who doesn't shun the Jewish family who comes to town (he reveals that a group of Jews once saved his life).
    • Loren definitely fits into this category.
    • Jake starts as this but softens a bit with Character Development. Though he still shows his Jerkass side from time to time.
  • Last-Name Basis: Everyone calls Sully by his last name--even his love interest, (and later wife) and their children! His full name is Byron Sully, but he appears to have abandoned his given name around the time he deserted the army.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Besides Dr. Mike, Sully, and the Cooper children, the show featured well over 20 townsfolk, relatives, and recurring guest characters. Most of these characters had A Day in the Limelight at least once.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Averted. Horace is nervous on his wedding night as it is his first time. Especially so, since his wife is Myra, the Hooker with a Heart of Gold, who has had lots of experience. When she tries to reassure him, stating that she has "been with lots of guys who haven't..." her voice trails off as she realizes she's just pointed out the very reason for his anxiety.
    • When Matthew starts coming of age and goes into the Saloon for his first official drink of whiskey, the various patrons decide he needs to get laid to be a man. He's whisked off to Myra's room, but just so she can help him climb out the window.
    • Subverted with several of the other male characters. While not virgins, it's strongly implied that despite the presence of prostitutes who could have tended to their needs, they've been celibate for an extended time.
  • May-December Romance: Loren and Mike's sister Marjorie (the two actors are married in Real Life). Jake and Dorothy could count as well.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Sully. Oh, Sully.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Colleen gets hers and is frightened and confused as neither her real mother nor Dr.Quinn have explained it to her (her mother died before she could give her "the talk" and Dr. Quinn assumed she was too young to have started). In another episode, Dorothy's stops and she thinks she's pregnant when she's in fact beginning menopause.
  • Old Maid: Dr. Mike refers to herself as this, with her 35th birthday looming and no husband in sight.
  • Put on a Bus: Myra. The Bus Came Back in the final season, though.
  • Special Guest: In his only television performance as a fictional character, Fred Rogers, a fan of the show, guest starred as "Reverend Thomas".
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Loren's sister Olive abruptly disappears between seasons without any explanation (although several years later, we learn she moved even further out west). In her place, Loren's sister-in-law (whom he had a romance with before marrying her sister) comes to town, fleeing an abusive husband and assumes the same role as Olive had as Mike's friend and confidante--though she's much more friendly than Olive ever was.
  • The Talk: Sully awkwardly tries to give one to Matthew when he begins courting immigrant girl Ingrid, Dr. Mike attempts to give her son Brian the talk by reading him an anatomy textbook, and with her wedding night looming, the virginal Dr. Mike needs one herself from the more experienced Dorothy.
  • That Old Time Prescription: Michaela was always prescribing willow bark tea.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Dr. Quinn frequently needs to remind people to address her as "Dr." instead of "Miss", several of whom deliberately call her "Miss" in an effort to needle her and demonstrate their lack of respect.
  • Tomboyish Name: The writers felt it was necessary to explain why the townspeople accept the woman who is coming to be their doctor: they thought she was a man. Communication being what it was, her name was telegraphed to them, as telegraphs were, with no spaces, upper and lower cases, or punctuation. They're expecting "Michael A. Quinn." If her name had been Alice, or something, the viewer is meant to presume they would have cabled back saying "Forget it."
  • The Western
  • Western Characters
  • The Wild West
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: The show's first Christmas Episode found Dr. Mike dreading the holiday, but not in a Scrooge-like manner, but rather because she was depressed about being away from her family and about the death of a patient--named Mr. Marley. The ghost of a friend who died early in the series' run comes to serve as all three spirits. Unlike most adaptations, the vision of the future is happy, showing her married with children and grandchildren, though the identity of her husband is left unknown. She recovers in time to assist a young woman (who has run away with her fiance to escape their disapproving parents) in giving birth. In a stable, of course.
  • You Look Familiar: James Leland Adams played General Custer in several episodes before being cast as the pompous Preston A. Lodge III. And Brandon Douglas played a con artist before being cast as neophyte physician Andrew Cook.
    • Alley Mills can be glimpsed as one of Hank's prostitutes shortly before playing Mike's sister Marjorie.