Inspector Spacetime

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The Lunatic With a Booth
"When you look out at the skies at night, what do you see? Starlight. From millions of stars. And that's just the light that's arrived here at one point in time. You can see every star, every planet, in one point of time, and never get the full picture. So really, the question isn't where... but when."
—The Eleventh Inspector

Inspector Spacetime is a British sci-fi series that has been on the air since 1962 and has gained a worldwide following. It's long since established its niche as a cult classic.

The Inspector is an alien from a faraway planet who has come to Earth to rescue us from dangers across space and time. He travels the universe in his snug X7 Dimensioniser time booth,[1] which takes the form of a red telephone box. (Fans nicknamed it, simply, the "Booth".) The X7 is famously "just a little too small on the inside," adjusting its interior dimensions to almost, but not quite, comfortably accommodate its occupants. Even when the Inspector is alone, the it retains its cosily cramped atmosphere. This is often alluded to as the reason that friendships formed in the Booth are the closest one ever makes. Even so, as the Inspector says, "There's always room for one more."

The Inspector often recruits Associates, most notably Constable Reginald Wigglesworth (Reggie). He has also amassed a Rogues Gallery of villains over the years that includes the Blorgons,[2] the Digifleet, and the Sergeant. Optic Pocketknife in hand, he will investigate the horrors of the universe.

The Inspector is the last of the Infinity Knights, the race of people who lived on his home planet of Kayaclasch. They once policed the universe with their advanced spacetime technological inventions, such as the time booths, but grew arrogant and corrupt in their twilight. They were destroyed by their war with the Blorgons, and the Inspector is the lone survivor... or is he?

Now, to ease his solitude and pass on his knowledge, the Inspector brings Associates along for adventures as he travels the universe, inspecting the roots of all its mysteries. He is a man who must often make tough decisions to meet his ends. Like all Infinity Knights, the Inspector was born without a heart, which explains his tendency to be cruel at times. His personal quest for a 'substitute' for this organ has so far been unsuccessful since duty and danger always come first. Still set on this goal, he often takes on Associates who are similarly searching for something or looking to improve themselves. Except Jeffrey. Everyone hates Jeffrey.

The Inspector's Associates provide something unique to the cast with each new addition, such as classic favourites the maths and English teachers Irma and Bart, the Gaelic swordsman Aiden, the late Jeffrey, the barbarian princess Reena, fellow Infinity Knight Lunda, the genius Yosif, the automatomcat FE-Line, and the long-runner Mary Sue. (There are a few forgettable ones, though, like the utterly nondescript Benjamin.) More recent Associates include Lily Taylor, Captain James Haggard, the Magnificent Bastard Yorke, Constable Wigglesworth, Angelica "Angie" Lake, and Rory Williams. The 2012 fiftieth-anniversary season has introduced the Eleventh Inspector's newest Associate: "temporary" constable Geneva Stilton.

The programme grew into a Long Runner despite Executive Meddling from producer British Television and distributor Boogatron Media, not to mention chronic underfunding, inconsistent script quality, archival carelessness amounting to sabotage, perversely wasted potential, and numerous other problems best left for another discussion. Eleven actors have taken on the iconic role of the Inspector so far, alongside literally dozens of Associates, in an ever-expanding cast. The sheer AMOUNT of canon there is to go through might cause some Archive Panic, but it's well worth the hours you'll spend with it.[3] is already an effort in motion to write actual episodes of this series found here

A Spin-Off series, Peacemist: Nicer Post, began airing in 2005. It stars Captain James Haggard and is significantly more family friendly than the current Inspector Spacetime.

A second spin-off series, The Mary Sue Predicaments--far edgier and more thoughtful than its precursors—was recently cut short by the death of the lead actress.

A children's FE-Line series named simply FE-Line, produced by an unrelated Japanese television company, has been running for the past three years, and yes, that is where those strange vids of Giant FE-Line came from.

Other facets of the vast Inspector Spacetime media empire include American, British, and Japanese comic books, two different animated adaptations (one Eastern, one Western), novels, radio dramas, and video games.

Not to be confused with a far less popular imitator.

The origin of this landmark television show requires detailed examination.[4]

Tropes used in Inspector Spacetime include:

In-Universe Tropes[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Abandoned Area: Favoured by the BTV's budget-conscious producers during the classic series in order to hold down the costs of casting extras and constructing elaborate sets, notably the lost city of Izzomun in "Funeral of the Blorgons", the dark matter world in "The Three Inspectors", and the Circuit-Chap–infested Paris Métro in "The Revolution".
  • Aborted Arc: Several in the Seventh Inspector era, first thanks to the dumbing down of the scripts, then the programme's cancellation in 1988. The Instructor plotline in particular was Left Hanging with many questions unanswered.
  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Following a drunken one-night stand astride the Interstellar Date Line, Angie is now several centuries younger than the resulting daughter, Brooke.
    • Until The Reveal that Brooke is actually Angie's grandmother, and the real baby was whisked off to be sold to a sweatshop orbiting Neptune. The trope still stands, though, because Brooke is still fifteen minutes and thirty-two seconds younger than her granddaughter.
  • The Ace: The Fourth Inspector in his appearance in the Sixth-era serial "The Only Inspector."
  • Achilles' Heel: In "The Crime Sports" we learn that the X7 isn't invulnerable after all. (At least when facing other Infinity Knights...)
    • The Circuit-Chaps are invincible except when exposed to lead dust, which clogs their condensers. When confronted by it, they exclaim, "Get the lead out!"
      • In later serials this weakness is exaggerated to the point where in 1976's "Blood and Servos", the Inspector is able to rout the Circuit-Chaps by reading the Encyclopaedia Cosmosica entry for "lead" to them.[5]
  • Action Girl:
    • Old-school Associate Theodora "Dynamo" McRae. She once beat up a Blorgon with a hockey stick. She blew up things with dynamite. A lot.
    • Jungle Princess Reena also qualifies.
    • Brooke most certainly counts as this.
  • Actor Allusion:
  • The Adventure Continues: Irma and Bert cheerfully go off to explore a far-future Earth when they part ways with the Inspector. They never appeared on the show again, but a couple of Expanded Universe novels were written about their escapades.
  • Affably Evil:
    • The Sergeant, although a classic "bent copper", remains perpetually cheerful despite the Inspector constantly foiling his schemes, which he passes off as friendly competition.
    • Ms Patch is a little old lady who drinks tea, knits and...plans to kill the Inspector with her minions, the Quiet Men.
    • The Orange Warden. Sometimes.
  • Alien Geometries: the incomprehensible geometries of Mathsville, where larger objects appear to fit within smaller ones; the Inspector and Angie's loss of their third dimension in "Squared".
  • Alien Invasion: Mainly Type Two, particularly during the Fourth Inspector's forced reassignment to 1970s Earth when any given serial's mysterious malefactor would turn out to be secretly conspiring with an extraterrestrial invasion, one the Sergeant's schemes, or both.
  • Aliens in Wylf-y-Fwddoch: The Trope Namer. The Welsh hamlet of Wylf-y-Fwyddoch, population 109, is the site of multiple rips in the fabric of spacetime, allowing anything that runs on chrono-spacial flux energy (like the time booths) to recharge its batteries there. (Also, it's a fair bit cheaper to film in the Welsh countryside than in London.) Peacemist is almost exclusively set in this location.
  • Almighty Janitor: Cabin, the X7's holographic in-flight waitress who turns out to be psychopathic and takes over the X7.
  • Exclusively Evil: Pretty much the whole point of the Time Deviants. While they look and act human, they're actually soulless psychopaths who feed off of chaos and destruction. The fact that Yorke was able to keep this behaviour in check from the time he started travelling with the Tenth Inspector to the time he saved a fleet of Blorgons from the Time Wave is impressive.
  • Always Save the Girl: Subverted in "The Doomsday Scenario", where the Inspector deliberately leaves Lunda at the mercy of the Horrible Horde. She survives... but plots revenge.
  • Americans Are Cowboys: Veneziana is a classic example of this trope... sort of. She is from Newer South Wales, a rather bizarre 24th century Earth colony which mashes together the best/worst of the cultures of the Australian outback and Texas. She is introduced lassoing Circuit-Chaps while wearing a bushranger hat and spurs. Subverted when it's revealed she's afraid of horses.
  • Anachronic Order: The episode "Morton's Fork" jumps around wildly in both time and space when revealing the long history of the Eleventh Inspector's bowler hat. (And thanks to the aforementioned Fork, there are some jumps sideways as well..)
  • And I Must Scream: The Big Bad of "Five Inspectors, One Time Booth" feature-length episode gets his just deserts for seeking out the secret of Sassafrass' immortality when he is turned into a stale loaf of bread.
  • Anyone Can Die: Jeffrey. The Inspector's reaction is a Tear Jerker.
  • Anyone Remember Pogs?: The Inspector and his Associates having to cram themselves inside the X7 was intended to capitalize on the fad of Telephone Box Stuffing, which had just arrived the UK in 1959. Now the ridiculousness is lampshaded with the characters' catch phrase "I thought it would be bigger on the inside!"
  • Arc Words:
    • GOOD LAMB GOOD LAMB GOOD LAMB
    • You've been a Naughty Monkey.
    • Season Two had the Peacemist Corporation.
    • Season Three had Elect Anglo!, signaling the return of the Sergeant.
    • "The wasps are reappearing!"
    • QUIET WILL RISE.
    • Ring Ring Goes the Bell, until the Inspector snuffs it.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Almost the whole of steadfast, manly military man Captain James Haggard's story arc is his inspiring journey as he tries to come to terms with his own pansexuality. It's heartbreaking to watch him struggle with his internalized homophobia, but the writers pull it off brilliantly.
  • Attractive Bent Gender: Both invoked and strongly averted in the infamous "Peter/Petula" serials. When Associate Peter was transformed into Petula, the plan was for the beautiful Pamela Highwater to take over the role straight away, with Peter's actor, Roy Higginbotham, released from his contract. Unfortunately, no one had noticed that Higginbotham's contract had a heretofore unprecedented "pay AND play" clause. This required BTV not only to pay him for the entire series, but also that he actually appear in all serials. The vivid contrast between the "sex kitten" Petula described in the script and Mr. Higginbotham in a miniskirt (seen here in a rare production still) led many to believe that these not merely went missing, but were intentionally destroyed for the good of all mankind.
  • Badass:
    • Brooke. She killed one of the Quiet People with a big hammer. And that destroyed part of the universe.
    • Without a doubt, Rory Williams, to the point that most villains surrender or explode upon seeing him.
  • Badass Longcoat: The Inspector's signature Mackintosh coat, a constant costume piece throughout his incarnations' otherwise varying tastes in clothes.
  • Beard of Evil: The Sergeant's fabulous moustache. It has to be seen to be believed. No, it's not fake.
  • Berserk Button: The Eleventh Inspector's bowler should not be messed with.
    • Also the Third Inspector in regards to wasting tea, especially spilling it.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Brooke disintegrated a Blorgon with her laser gun and broke a hole in the universe with her giant hammer.
  • Big Bad:
    • The Blorgons.
    • The Quiet Men, maybe Ms. Patch too.
    • The Orange Warden, during the "Bolt of Space" story arc in Season 16.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: The Second Inspector encountered Skunk Apes while investigating odd volcanic activity in "The Adorable Lavamen."
  • Big No: The Inspector at Jeffrey's death.
    • Used more humorously when the Fifth Inspector learns The Infinity Knights have made her High Chief Commissioner.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Notably averted. The writers are creative enough to write around their limitations and avoid such a ridiculous concept with the X7. Played with, of course, with the X7's famous "Always space for one more!" capacity. No one's sure how this works, but Infinity Knights know it's more sensible than the alternative.
  • Bizarrchitecture: A few examples over the decades, with The Great Big Cyclorama being a particular standout.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Despite looking near identical to humans, the Infinity Knights have many physiological differences, most notably the fact they have no hearts. (Hence the old Inspector Spacetime fan joke: "Why did the Infinity Knights newspaper fail? Poor circulation.")
  • The Blank: The identity theft victims in "The De-Faced Doppelgängers" and the Cyber-Optimized Police androids from "The Five Inspectors, One Time Booth". Also, as uncovered in the climax of "Mindscrew", Benjamin.
  • Blatant Lies: The Sixth-Inspector serial "The Only Inspector" features guest appearances by the Third, Fourth and Fifth Inspectors. Word of God states that this was a deliberate riff/TakeThat aimed at the Third Inspector serial "The Three Inspectors", which featured Bernard Fox in (technically) three different roles.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Trope Namer, after the inscrutable actions of the Blue ("good") and Orange ("evil") Wardens. In the so-called "Orange Warden Trilogy" comprising "Mawdrone Alive", "Genesis", and "The Dark Ages", it's impossible to say what the Warden's enigmatic plan for the Fifth Inspector is, only that it's probably malevolent (possibly).
  • Bowler Hats Are Neat
  • Break the Cutie: Angie, originally a source of slapstick humour, goes through this when the Sergeant succeeds in ripping her planet apart. It causes her to take a level in badass.
  • Brilliant but Lazy:
    • Yosif was the Inspector's most intelligent companion, sometimes even beating him at problem solving, but most of Yosif's ideas were not recognised due to his apathy. The Third Inspector tended towards this as well, leading to the fan-snark that their era on the show was one long tea-break punctuated with the occasional planet blowing up.
    • It could be argued that the Sixth Inspector also fit this trope. Especially towards the end of his run, when he spends a lot of time orchestrating/reacting to events from his Defendant's Cube during the "Internal Investigation of the Inspector".
  • Brown Note: The Inspector quickly learned that the Cacophony couldn't be drowned out with sound. It only made them stronger. "The Cacophony WILL find you."
  • BTV Quarry: The earlier serials take place on planets such as "Rockterrainia", but after the programme's budget got beefed up, this has mostly been averted.
  • Buddy Cop Show: Quite a few of the flashbacks of the Inspector's and the Sergeant's early days.
  • The Bus Came Back: The very first Associate, Susannah Overseer, was abruptly and mysteriously "reassigned" by her and the Inspector's then-unnamed civilization after only a few serials and replaced with the far more popular duo of Irma and Bart. (The real-life reason was that the character simply wasn't working as well as hoped; Irma and Bart served as much better Watsons.) She came back for a brief but significant cameo in "The Crime Sports" and was never seen again. Although there were subtle hints that she shares some sort of connection to The Instructor.
  • Busman's Holiday: The Third Inspector's quasi-retirement consisted chiefly of excursions across space and time in which he coincidentally arrived on distant worlds conveniently when plots against Earth were being hatched, despite the Infinity Knight high command's request he limit his involvement with his old planetary precinct after the events of "The Crime Sports".
  • Butt Monkey: Jeffrey.
  • Canon Foreigner: Many additional Associates created for the Great Ending Productions Inspector Spacetime audio plays.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • Inverted here. After his stint as Rory Williams on Inspector Spacetime, Arthur Darvill came back to play the same character in another show.
    • Funny thing is, that other show has yet to explain Rory's immortality. But we already know the reason since we watched him here in Inspector Spacetime!
  • Casting a Shadow: A scifi-ish version of this appears at one point in "The Gloom of Aquanus".
  • The Cast Showoff: The various actors who have played the Inspector often possess additional talents they're happy to show off.
    • While Christopher Lee's commando training with the Special Operations Executive added an element of authenticity to the Second Inspector's fight scenes, his proudest personal accomplishment on the programme was displaying his operatic baritone by singing Non più andrai to Aiden before the climactic battle in "The Sulphur Soldiers".
    • Graham Chapman, a prominent member of the Dangerous Sports Club, convinced the director of "Spacewhip" to include a chase sequence involving the Inspector "orbing"—downhill-racing in a 3m-diameter lightweight plastic sphere-within-a-sphere.
    • Steve Carrell's ability to burp the entire alphabet figures twice in his one broadcast performance as the Eighth Inspector. ("I never thought when I learned to do that at age 13 it would pay off with a Made for TV Movie," Carrell bragged.)
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Ten often cried out, "¡Arriba!" as he charged into action.
    • "I now don a bowler. Bowlers are neat."
    • "The question is not where, but when."
    • "ERADICATE! ERADICAAAAAAAATE!"
    • "You will be modified."
    • "THE RISE! OF! THE CYMBALS!"
    • "We must normalize the alignment of the electron stream!"
    • "Oi, wot's all this, then?" was the only catchphrase for the First Inspector. Fitting, as his character was more of an inspector than most of the others.
    • "Hi, honey!"
    • "Want a wine jelly?"
    • "By Jove, Inspector, that just might work!"
    • "Always room for one more!"
  • Changed My Hat: Trope Namer. The Eleventh Inspector often changes his bowler hat's colour, thinking it a cunning disguise.
  • Chase Scene: Often for the finale, following the obligatory summation scene, the Inspector has to pursue the story's unmasked malefactor(s)—typically down EndlessCorridors.
    • In the first, and greatest, of the the programme's many chase sequences, "The Marathon Pursuit" has the Inspector tracking Blorgons over time and space, including Virginia's Roanoke colony in 1590, London's Crystal Palace in 1936, and a Wild West railway heist,[6] until he finally apprehends them on the swamp planet Mucidus in the third millennium CE.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: The easily-flustered, sexually conservative Captain James Haggard.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: Count Morbus (played by Vladek Sheybal) from the Fourth Inspector serial "Terror at Tooth Point" and "Vampires From Space!". (It should be noted that in the latter serial he is not one of the eponymous entities but helps the Inspector fight them.)
  • Clueless Mystery: The notoriously bad scripts for the Seventh Inspector's "back to basics" time-travelling investigations drew much criticism for withheld clues, last-minute culprits, and massive explosions covering up plot holes. The worst example occurs in "Bronze Friends" where the Inspector doesn't so much figure out how the Circuit-Chaps could have blackmailed Isambard Kingdom Brunel into modifying the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship with self-awareness as how he can blow it up.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: From the first season finale of The Mary Sue Predicaments, while Mary Sue flies a nuclear bomb toward the Blorgon flagship:

Blorgon Prince: We have infiltrated all of Earth's governments, poisoned your air, and captured your friends. Even now our fleet surrounds your pathetic world, ready to destroy it at my signal. What do you say to that?
Mary Sue: Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you! FUUUCK YOUUU! (explosion)

  • Cobweb of Disuse: The desolate ruins on Antebelis Gamma in "The Sphere of Strands"; by the time the Inspector comes back for "Return to the Sphere of Strands", the whole planet has become a Cobweb Jungle, which contrasts nicely with the sterile and polished Infinity Knight Tribunal Chamber.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: Mysterious figures in high-collared trench coats started popping up in the background during the Third Inspector's last series. They were finally revealed to be the Infinity Knights' Internal Affairs Watchdogs, sent by the high command to monitor the Inspector's unorthodox approach to his mysterious mission.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Some would argue that the Sergeant dabbles in this during the 1992 TV movie Inspector Spacetime.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Many of the Associates. For this reason the Associates are nicknamed "Soccers" by the fans. It's partly a shortening of "associate" and partly because they tend to get kicked about a fair bit.
  • Cute Kitten: "The Kittens" attempts to subvert this trope, with the titular creatures as the supposedly terrifying Monsters of the Week.
  • Dance Party Ending: In an ironic conclusion to the tragic outbreak of Choreokinesis—a disease that makes its victims dance compulsively—that killed fan-favourite Gerte, the Inspector felt it best to celebrate the discovery of the disease's antidote with a dance party.
  • Dance Sensation: Pamela Highwater (the second Petula) was a professional go-go dancer by trade. She performed "Do the Inspector" on Top of the Pops, and her single got as high as #27 on the UK Top Singles chart.
  • Days of Future Past: Sometimes it was easier for BTV's overextended production department to refit existing costumes and sets from their historical dramas to create futures that looked extra-retro.
    • The 23rd-century interstellar frontier in "Gunfight at the Proxima Centauri Corral" is a textbook Space Western, down to the villainous Tabulator's maser-derringer.
    • After the collapse of the Terran Empire in the third millennium, the linked serials "The Dark Ages" and "The Queen's Angels" take place in a Feudal Future.
  • Dead All Along: Maura, who the Inspector offered to let travel with him simply so she could realise this fact. When she finally does it is truly heartbreaking.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Textbook case with Mary Sue although it is taken to extremes in her spin-off The Mary Sue Predicaments that fans often complain about.
  • Discontinuity Nod: In the 2011 Red Nose Day Special "Spacetime", one of the "Alterninspectors" from parallel realities is seen using his Optic Pocketknife as a grappling hook, climbing up the side of a tall building, then pausing to chat with Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson through an open window. It's a reference to the infamously unauthorised Batarang-wielding Inspector from the 1973 film 5 Kudretli Adamlar ("Turkish Blacula").
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Associate Petula was a frequent cause of this, sometimes deliberately when her go-go dance routines were used to distract guards, sometimes by simply walking past.
  • The Ditz: One popular fan-name for the Fifth Inspector and her associates Thorough Visor and Veneziana was "The Three Ditzes", though the Inspector was much cleverer than she acted, and the two associates were cleverer than they themselves realised.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Averted until season 23, when BTV banned protagonists from using firearms. The Sixth Inspector (and all inspectors previous) occasionally carried his trademark Webley revolver in a shoulder holster. The Sixth Inspector liked his pistol so much he would often use it to open Orangina bottles.
  • Domestic Abuse: Implied with The Sergeant and Lucio, the (suspiciously competent) shoe-shine boy he married in Vegas while posing as Henry Anglo. Lucio has the last laugh, however, when he cleans out "Anglo's" ill-gotten re-election fund and is last seen literally sailing off into the sunset on a yacht.
  • The Dreaded: Averted, gradually, in the classic series. As the programme continued and the Inspector became less intimidating over his incarnations, his enigmatic reputation soon lost its ambiguous aura of menace. By the 80s, especially with the misadventure-prone Sixth Inspector and the often-clueless Seventh, any villain recognizing who this strange individual calling himself "the Inspector" actually was immediately had to chuckle.
    • After the events of the Time Wave, however, the Inspector's reputation as a dangerous foe received a significant boost. In the new series, he's prone to re-emphasizing this in case anyone's forgotten.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first few serials with Susannah Overseer. As indicated by her name, she was evidently the Inspector's assigned auditor, or even boss, holding some sort of vaguely-defined "decommission" threat over him as he solves "History Crimes" (see immediately below.) Both of them being (as-yet-unnamed) Infinity Knights also resulted in a lot of painfully clunky As You Know dialogue. The show didn't really find its groove until Susannah was abruptly "recalled" and Irma Rong and Bart Gilbert enthusiastically burst onto the scene.
    • And, of course, the X7 being called a "DARSIT" a few times in the first serial. The Fourth Inspector later explains that "darsit" is an Infinity Knight swear word.
    • In the first episode of Peacemist, the titular organization is variously referred to as the Peacemist Institute, the Peacemist Ministry, the Peacemist Agency, the Peacemist Corporation, and, on one memorable occasion, the Meatspice Institute. This was mostly sorted out by the second episode, although throughout the rest of the first season a sign above Captain James' desk read "Peacemist Institupe."
  • Edutainment Show: Hard as it is to believe in retrospect, this programme was conceived as serious family edutainment. Stories set in the past were supposed to teach children history, with The Inspector solving historical crimes, such as in the serial "The Two Princes' Murder". The ones set in the future or on other planets were intended to teach science, but the Blorgons' unanticipated massive popularity quickly changed the emphasis of the show to science fiction.
  • Enemy Civil War: Following the events of Sixth Inspector serial "The Corporation of the Blorgons", the Blorgon Commonwealth of Sentients got broken into three competing factions, all of which figured in the next season's mammoth "Internal Investigation of the Inspector". Sadly, the Seventh Inspector's "Forgetting of the Blorgons" was a hideously apt title, as the Commonwealth was depicted as being (re)unified with absolutely no explanation as to what happened.
  • Everyone Calls Him Inspector: To this day, the Inspector's true name is unknown. However, rumours say his nickname was Pi Lambda.
  • Everybody Lives: The Fifth Inspector's final serial "The Hills of Androgyny", where the Inspector saves the eponymous paradise from environmental destruction without a single death. Except her own. And of course, she recovered.
  • Evil Counterpart: This happens frequently when a character's positrons are negatized, resulting in an anti-version of the being affected. Constable Reggie once described the Anti-Inspector as having a "funny moustache" and being "kinda rape-y".
  • Evil Former Friend:
    • The Inspector and the Sergeant
    • Yorke. Although how much of a friend he was is up for debate.
  • Evil Twin: Was there ever a character in this show that didn't have at least one of these? One even turned up for FE-Line. The zenith (or nadir) was probably the serial "The Triplicate Catastrophe", with "The Three Inspectors" running a close second.
  • The Exotic Detective: Detectives don't come any more exotic than a literally heartless time-travelling alien solving mysteries across the universe.
  • Expanded Universe:
  • Fair Play Whodunnit: A staple of the Second Inspector's investigations, particularly the innumerable locked room mystery settings (which were favoured for budgetary reasons). For example, the Inspector deduced the murders of the chrono-scientists in "The Cube in Time" were perpetrated by the base's high-tech kitchen appliances, which the Circuit-Chaps had modified into lethal conscripts of the Digifleet, after assorted evidence excluded all the human and alien suspects.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "It's all right, Inspector. No one will miss me." Jeffrey
    • "Oi, wot's all this, th—" The First Inspector.
    • "So be it." The Second Inspector.
    • "Time for one last cup of—no? Ah well..." The Third Inspector.
    • "Ah. Now I understand. If I could have just prepared..." The Fourth Inspector.
    • "I think maybe things will be back to normal now." The Fifth Inspector.
    • "I intend to stage a formal complaint!" The Sixth Inspector
    • "Right on schedule." The Seventh Inspector
    • "This has been a simply terrible day." The Ninth Inspector
    • "I'm ready to go. ¡ARRIBA!" The Tenth Inspector
  • Fan Disservice: The outfits sported by King Sonacry and The Indictor are the most legendary examples.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style:
  • Fictional Document: The Inspector occasionally would read from/quote/consult the Encyclopedia Cosmosica. There was evidently a plan to do a serial centred on this rather mysterious work, but like so much else, it got scrapped during the Seventh Inspector's run.
    • It's widely believed that the EC inspired Douglas Adams to do a little radio play titled The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy even as he worked on scripts for Inspector Spacetime's ripoff.
    • While the Inspector no doubt wishes that it was the EC, the phonebook that comes as part of the X7's current form is, in fact, a (very) battered and out-of-date copy of the phonebook for the Sprint Street neighbourhood where the X7 picked up its current form.
  • The Film of the Series:
    • The 1964 Inspector Spacetime vs. the Blorgons and its 1965 sequel Blorgons--Extortion Earth 2150, starring Christopher Lee as "Inspector Spacetime" (instead of simply "The Inspector"). Unusually, these Films of the Series were made while the original was still in production. They adapted the first and second Blorgon stories but also changed the overall premise of the series, most notably by making the Inspector half human and introducing the first quasi-official spelling of Blorgon without the "r". They most definitely take place in an Alternate Continuity, as opposed to the broader canon fans refer to as the Inspectrum.
    • Later there was the 1992 TV movie Inspector Spacetime, which didn't adhere to the same continuity as the first two films, although it references them in a few throw away lines.
    • Many Inspector Spacetime movies have wound up languishing in Development Hell, such as one where he was to face THE DEVIL HIMSELF.
  • Flying Car: The Fourth Inspector temporarily used one after the Infinity Knights grounded him on Earth. Spacetime fans called it "The S.E.T." (Spacetime Express Tram) or just "The Tram".
  • Follow the Leader: In 1963, BBC tried to duplicate the success of Inspector Spacetime with another, less-inspired show.
  • Four Is Death: Literally. The Fourth Inspector has left behind a higher body count than any of the other Inspectors, even modern ones.
  • Friendly Enemy: The Sergeant. Especially since that he and the Inspector were once friends as cadets at the Kayaclaschian Police-Time Academy.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The acronyms of the Infinity Knights' various organizations all mirror ones from the UK police: CID—Chronospatial Inquiry Division; HMIC—The Horological Ministry's Investigative Command; SCD—Supratemporal Constabulary Department.
  • Futile Hand Reach: Fiona Finch does this shortly before becoming a Snarling Lion in the Downer Ending of "Stare". Snarling Lions reproduce by biting and transferring their DNA through a bite. The bite reacts like a virus, and the person bitten becomes a Lion. It's very rare (usually they just destroy and consume) but if someone manages to evade them for long enough, the Lions will attempt to convert them.
  • Future Me Scares Me: The Inspector is horrified by the prospect of incarnating as the Indictor, said by himself and the Infinity Knights to be a future incarnation of the Inspector.
    • Subverted in the charity special "Space Crunch": It turns out that the Fifth Inspector isn't scared of the Tenth Inspector, but rather of the Tenth Inspector's elbow, which hovers dangerously close to her face in their exceptionally cramped, intersected X7s' interiors.
  • Gambit Pileup: The whole glorious elephantine spectacle that was "Internal Investigation of the Inspector" season/plot-arc. The Infinity Knight high command, three factions of Blorgons, the Circuit-Chaps, the Sergeant, the Indictor, the Instructor, the Blue and Orange Wardens... Maddeningly, it all got swept under the carpet when the Seventh Inspector era started.
  • Gender Bender: Many hardcore Inspector Spacetime fans don't even know this trope applies to the Inspector's popular 1960s Associate Petula (played by the luscious Pamela Highwater). During the Second Inspector's first series, a script was written at the instance of ratings-conscious BTV executives that featured a visit to the planet Femulon-VII where the Inspector's current Associate Peter (Roy Higginbotham) was transformed into Petula. Miss Highwater was signed to play Petula, and scripts heavily emphasized Petula's sex appeal... an awkward development given Higginbotham's unprecedented "pay AND play" contract. The serial detailing Petula's transformation is now missing, and Petula's masculine origin was only obliquely hinted at a few times afterwards.
  • Giggling Villain: Yorke. Brrrrr.
  • Go-To Alias: "Joe Bloggs" [7] for the classic series Inspectors; "John Doe" for the Eighth; "Fred Bloggs" for the new series.
  • Gravity Master: The one of the powers of the summoner of the "The Great Big Cyclorama".
  • The Gump: Popping up on the periphery of major events in Earth's history is practically the Inspector's avocation, as well as a source of amusement for the programme's writers.
    • In 1390, the Tenth Inspector investigated the highway robbery and assault of Geoffrey Chaucer ("The Chaucer Puzzle").
    • In 1483, the First Inspector examined and unofficially acquitted Richard III ("The Two Princes' Murder").
    • In 1851, the Ninth Inspector teamed up with Metropolitan Police Inspector Charles Frederick Field to rescue their author friend Charles Dickens from the underworld den "Rats' Castle" ("The Riotous Living").
    • In 1882, the First Inspector negotiated the surrender and arrest of Alexander Franklin "Frank" James ("The Desperadoes").
    • In 1911, the Fourth Inspector exonerated Pablo Picasso in the theft of Louvre's most famous painting ("The Mona Lisa Caper").
    • In 1913, the Seventh Inspector discovered that... well... see directly below ("The Mark of the Maharani").
  • Gustav Holst Was An Alien Spy: The Trope Namer. Also, of course, a Credits Gag: "I liked that tune!" "Yes, I expect we'll be hearing it again."
  • Heel Face Turn: Count Morbus. Sort of.
  • Heroic BSOD: The Inspector after Jeffrey dies.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Jeffrey
    • Also King Sonacry of Barbartron IV.
    • And Infinity Knight Lunda, who not only "died" twice but ended up carrying the Bolt in Space on a one-way trip to another dimension.
    • Subverted with Captain Jack/The Good Lamb.
    • And of course, happens more than once with The Inspector himself, the most spectacularly in "The Worst Ally".
  • Historical Person Punchline: The writers enjoy occasionally introducing surreptitious historical cameos to keep viewers on their toes.
    • In "The Legend Locators", when Nikola Tesla's time-travel experiment goes awry, the Inspector and his Associates must rescue his friend and lab partner, Samuel—who is stranded in fifth-century Britain, where a warlord called Rigotamos has forcibly enlisted him as court magician. Once freed, Sam tells them that their adventure has provided him with the inspiration for his next novel.
    • In "Space-Break", the Inspector reveals that "the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one" to a young German stowaway on the X7 he calls "Bertie".
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Brilliantly subverted in "Let's Kill Hitler." When Aidan strangles der Führer with his bare hands, the Inspector is alternately furious with him and terrified of the awful world they'll find when they return to the early 21st century. In fact, they find millions of lives were saved because there was no Holocaust; World War II and the Cold War never happened, ushering in an unprecedented era of peace on Earth; and an undivided Germany became a beacon of tolerance and diversity, a shining example for all nations.

Aidan: Everybody Lives, Inspector, just this once, everybody lives!
Angie: Except Hitler.
Aidan: Well, yeah. Not Hitler.

  • Hollywood Science: The science behind The Entanglement timeline is often criticized for its improbability, but writers dismissed these attacks in the third edition of the Inspector Spacetime companion book. Two words: Quantum Superpositioning.
  • Hope Bringer:
    • Oftentimes the Inspector's role, especially in the new series.
    • Subverted in the episode "Twilight", where instead of banding together under the Inspector's kindness and wit, the humans on the broken down train try to sacrifice him to the "singing crystal" in the hopes that they would be spared.
  • Human Aliens:
    • Preferred by the budget-conscious BTV producers and lampshaded by the frustrated writers ("But you look Kayaclaschian." "Well, you look human.").
    • While the Infinity Knights look human throughout their appearances in the series, the implication by the First Inspector and Susannah Overseer in "A Timeless Man" is that their outward manifestations have been selected for undercover work on Earth.
  • Humiliation Conga: At the end of "Anger of the Inspector" the Inspector forces the Hemo Clan to undergo horrendous punishments. For instance Hemo Daddy spends the rest of time in the form of a Mexican luchador's underpants. The punishments of the rest of the Haemo Clan are too horrible to mention.
  • I'm Mr. Future Pop Culture Reference: Averted in the new series after the writers realised that this occasional habit of classic Inspectors now makes them seem that much more dated in reruns. For example, the First Inspector addresses Richard III as "you silly twisted boy", and the Third Inspector sings a few of his own verses to the #1 chart-topper "In the Year 2525" by One-Hit Wonder duo Zager and Evans at the climax of "Abaddon".
  • The Inspector Is Coming: In a few stories for the new series, the Inspector will have sent advance notice of his impending arrival from the future to save time. An unintended consequence is consternation and confusion when word leaks out of the mysterious authority figure, e.g. the fussing tour guides of the Module Alpha artificial satellite in "The Creation of Earth".
  • Insusceptible to Handcuffs: Trope Namer. The Monster of the Week cannot be apprehended with conventional police gear—at least not until the Inspector modifies them. "Just once, I'd like to encounter an extraterrestrial miscreant that wasn't insusceptible to handcuffs!" the Superintendent would typically complain during his adventures with the Fourth Inspector.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune:

"Ring ring, goes the bell/
One day we all must quit/
Ring ring, goes the bell/
Till the Inspector snuffs it"

  • Joker Immunity: No matter how often the Blorgons are completely annihilated, they always manage to come back somehow. Once, the Inspector emphatically declared that the Blorgons were "entirely destroyed, every single last one of them, including all the secret ones that were hiding. They were all erased from time itself, they've never existed, and they will never exist ever again. Never, never, never, never, never." Until next season.
  • Jumped At the Call: First Inspector Associates Irma and Bart are classic examples, eagerly going off with the Inspector when offered the chance.
  • Jungle Princess: Reena is a literal example.
  • Karma Houdini: The Sergeant. Although the Inspector repeatedly foiled his schemes with the Blorgons, Eocenes, Orcons, and Venusian Sulphur Soldiers (to name only a few), he could never amass conclusive evidence of the Sergeant's involvement in their conspiracies or disprove his nemesis's elaborate alibis. Until their climactic final confrontation on Kayaclasch in the serial "The Lethal Murderer".
  • Knight Templar: The Inspector, in his darker moments at least.
  • Large Ham:
    • Brian Blessed made three appearances on the show, as Reena's father, Sonacry, King of Barbartron IV, Ruler of the Twelve Moons, Defender of the Outer Belts (and so on and so on). And naturally in his last appearance he makes his Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Neg!Rory in the Terror of the Negaverse novel. Every word he speaks after his first line is in all caps. "I AM NOT A MERE COPY! I! AM! ME! AND NONE OF YOU WILL TAKE THAT!"
  • Leitmotif: The Inspector is of course linked with Holst's Jupiter, while if the same composer's Mars starts to play.. here come the Blorgons.
  • Lighter and Softer: BTV hired a fledgling author named Terry Pratchett to lighten the tone of the Fourth Inspector's later adventures. He has since criticized the new series for its overuse of "that wonderful element 'makeitupasyougalongeum'" but confesses he finds it compulsively watchable.
    • Also applies to the Fifth Inspector's run, which further cranked back the body-count.
  • Lightning Gun: One of the Circuit-Chaps' trademark weapons; on one memorable occasion it is laboriously powered by a hand-crank.
  • Long Runner: Easily beating out that other show as longest-running sci-fi series of all time.
  • Made for TV Movie: The Anglo-American collabouration Inspector Spacetime (1992) starring Steve Carrell as The Eighth Inspector and Anne Hathaway as his Associate, Charity Galloway [dead link] during the British programme's extended hiatus. Although its canonicity is established, its awkward plot, over-the-top acting, and loose characterization make it something fans prefer to forget. Except maybe, ironically, Stephen Fry's brief farewell-performance as the Seventh Inspector.
  • Made of Explodium: The Trope Namer, with the reoccurring "villain" The Exploding Rock made of this substance.
  • Magic Tool: Averted with the Optic Pocketknife. As the iconic weapon of the Time Police, the Inspector considers it bad form to use it as anything other than a weapon, despite its many functions. He also uses it only in the direst circumstances, so it's always significant when an episode features it at all—and he at least makes the effort to maim rather than kill.
  • May–December Romance: The Inspector and his beloved, Brooke Rhapsody, meet at the middle of their romance and then go backwards. However, Brooke takes meticulous notes and documents everything so the Inspector knows exactly what's going on at whatever point in life he meets her.
  • Meaningful Name: An extremely common trope throughout the series:
    • Doctor Yahe stands for "You Always Have Enemies", signaling the return of the Sergeant.
    • FE-Line, besides the obvious cat pun, has another meaning. 'Fe' is he symbol for iron, from which the robot is primarily made of.
    • In the serial "The Talons of Asox", Serge A Tenth is an anagrammed alias used by the Sergeant.
    • In the serial "The Space Creature", Agent Sether is another anagrammed alias used by the Sergeant.
    • In the serial "Space-Break", the Tang Seer is yet another anagrammed alias used by the Sergeant.
  • Meganekko: Maura Dewitt
  • Mega Neko: Giant FE-Line, from the spin-off series.
  • Memetic Outfit: The Infinity Knights' official uniform was a distinctive high-collared trench coat-like garment, but the Inspector always livens up his emblematic Mac in each incarnation with special touches, especially his taste in hats.
    • The First Inspector's beret.
    • The Second Inspector wore Wellingtons and played the ocarina.
    • The Third Inspector's top hat.
    • The Fourth Inspector was known for wearing ostentatiously coloured knee socks.
    • The Fifth Inspector had a penchant for ampersands and a truly terrible hat.
    • The Fifth Inspector's carrot hatpin counts as well.
    • The Sixth Inspector was known for his unexpectedly sombre and dark attire.
    • The Seventh Inspector had an outfit adorned with exclamation points.
    • The Ninth Inspector who always dressed quite dashingly and extravagantly. He loathed all things casual, especially leather.
    • The Tenth Inspector was never without his prized coke-bottle glasses, tight jeans, and various nerdy T-shirts.
    • So far, the Eleventh Inspector and his bowler hats.
  • Mid-Battle Tea Break: Literally. The Third Inspector would employ his legendary love of tea—"It's always teatime somewhere in the universe."—as an excuse to extract himself and his Associates from sticky situations.
  • Mind Rape: What some would consider Mona's ultimate fate.
  • Mirror Universe: In "The Worst Ally", the finale of the "Internal Investigation of the Inspector" plot-arc and Graham Chapman's final appearance on the show, the Inspector was banished by the Infinity Knight leadership[8] to another universe where the Blorgons desperately oppose the evil Terran Empire. He ended up killing himself so that the explosive renewal process would overload the Terran High Citadel's main reactor, ripping a "dimensional gap" large enough to send him hurtling back home. (With the bonus that his new incarnation could not be tried again for the same "crimes".) One last time, the Sixth Inspector succeeded by failing.
  • Missed Him by That Much: The teaser for the Sixth-Inspector serial "The Only Inspector" featured the current Inspector and Jeffery in the foreground trying (with their usual lack of success) to keep The Exploding Rock from exploding again, while in the far background the Third Inspector and Mary-Sue re-create one of the tea-spilling scenes from "Incursion of the Mastodons." Neither pair ever notices the other.
  • Mistaken for Granite: The Snarling Lions from the critically acclaimed episode "Stare". These creatures are taken as statues at first by the episode's protagonist, Fiona Finch, but the Inspector soon warns her that they are intergalactic monsters that feed on continuum particles and that if she looks at any of them directly, they will suddenly become aware of her and wipe her from existence so they can eat on the energy the universe uses when repairing a minor gap in spacetime. The Inspector once described them as time mosquitoes.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: The Inspector's air of authority often results in this confusion when he and his Associates appear unexpectedly.

London Bobby: Stop! Are you authorized for that?
Second Inspector: Me? I'm authorized for everything!

  • Mockbuster: The Inspector appeared in the completely unauthorized 1973 Turkish film 5 Kudretli Adamlar (lit. 5 Mighty Guys, aka "Turkish Blacula"). The film featured the Inspector teaming up with Blacula, El Santo, and advertising Mascot Mister Clean to defeat, of all people, an extremely violent and sadistic version of Tintin. The Inspector, wildly out of character throughout, wields a leftover Batarang prop from the 1966 Batman instead of his famous Optic Pocketknife.
  • Moral Guardians: Christine Blackhall's Civic Eyes and Ears Council launched a public campaign against the programme during the Fourth Inspector's reassignment to Exo-Pol in the mid-70s, complaining about its sci-fi treatment of violent crime in contemporary London and its generally darker shift in tone. The cliffhanger scene of the Sergeant stamping on the Inspector's fingers as he dangled from the edge of the Infinity Knights' Omnium Watchtower in "The Lethal Murderer" was singled out by Blackhall as, notoriously, "teatime terrorism for tykes".
  • Ms. Fanservice: Many of the Inspector's Associates might qualify.
    • This is go-go dancing Associate Petula's entire reason for being.
    • Reena of the famous day-glo fur bikini.
    • Averted in Angie's first appearance, where she arrives dressed as a Catholic priest. Led to some viewer complaints that she was letting the side down somewhat, but they were mostly pacified by the official explanation that Angie was just on her way to a Tarts and Vicars party.
  • Muppet Cameo: For the serial "Mindscrew", the Jim Henson Company was specially commissioned to produce an Inspector Muppet for the scene in which the Sixth Inspector is transformed into a blue-furred monster. Despite the serial's classic status, some fans still complain that they both got the colour of the X7 wrong and used an American-style phone booth.
  • Musical Episode: "A Spacetime Musical".
  • My Future Self and Me: The various incarnations of the Inspector have had their interactions over the decades. "The Three Inspectors" has the Third Inspector meeting a not-too-distant future version of himself (along with their duplicate from an antimatter universe).
  • Naive Everygirl: Lily
  • Naming Your Colony World: Newer South Wales and Androgyny are two of the more memorable examples. The fact that the latter name proved to be spectacularly inappropriate was immediately lampshaded by the Fifth Inspector and her Associates upon their arrival there.
  • Nice Hat: A trademark of the series, although brutally averted by the... thing... the Fifth Inspector sported on her head. The Fifth Inspector was the only female Inspector in the series and also one of the most fashion-challenged ones to date.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: And the award goes to Captain Haggard in his introductory episode "The Cambiare Machine". He unseals the Void Seed container Inspector and Lily were chasing. The results are... not pretty.
  • Nice Shoes: Associate Petula's white go-go boots.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: In the classic series' early adventures, the First Inspector could be utterly ruthless in his defence of established causality against time-travelling interference and heartlessly indifferent to contemporary criminality. In "The Incas", he declares that he "wants nothing to be different, not in the future, not in the past, not in all eternity"—even if Francisco Pizarro absconds with every bit of Peru's gold while he stands by. Gradually averted as the Inspector grew more explicitly and conventionally heroic.
  • Nobody Poops: There have been literally decades of fan jokes about the X7's complete lack of facilities. Conversely, some fans have speculated that real reason the Inspector brings humans along on his travels is that the Booth is in fact powered by various forms of human waste. Also jokes about the installed (but useless) phonebook's true purpose being a source of toilet paper.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The Seventh Inspector, more than once.
  • No Sense of Direction: Infamously, Angie Lake. In "See No Evil", she not only gets lost in the woods in an attempt to avoid the Lions, she also manages to fall into a cavern.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Robot cat named FE-Line. FE-Line travelled with the First, Second, Fourth, and Tenth Inspectors, as well as starring in the Associate spin-off, The Mary Sue Adventures. Hilarity often ensues when Associates misread his collar as "fee-line", and the Inspector can't figure out who they're referring to. The proper pronunciation is Iron Line.
  • Non-Indicative Name: A fair number of the episode titles appear to have been beamed in from some bizarre alternate dimension.
  • Novelty Decay: In the early years, the audience knew almost nothing about the Inspector's origins. It would be six years into the series before the "Infinity Knights" were introduced in the serial "The Crime Sports". The Inspector did not return to his home planet of Kayaclasch until the 1975 serial "The Lethal Murderer", but in the following decade, such serails as "The Theft of Space" (1977) and the multi-part "Internal Investigation of the Inspector" (1985) revealed more and more about the autocratic, devious, and occasionally corrupt Kayaclaschians. Many fans complained that so much information about the Infinity Knights had diluted their sense of mystery. One of the objectives of the new series under David Russell was to erase them from the continuity after the events of the so-called "Time Wave".
  • The Nth Inspector: Trope Namer. The Inspector has had many actors over the years, due to his ability to undergo metamorphosis. This new blood every few seasons allows the show to stay quite fresh. Notable fan favourites are Bernard Fox and his endlessly elaborate tea-breaks, Marius Goring with his silly ascot and taste for gummi bears, and the more recent Ninth and Tenth Inspectors, Mark Williams and Daniel Landlord. The least popular are Steve Carrell and Stephen Fry.
  • Observation Screen: Trope Namer; however the new showrunner, Stefan Toffat, is not a fan of the earlier episodes and has vowed to reduce or eliminate its use, criticizing it as a Hand Wave.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: the Blorgons. Their Catch Phrase, "ERADICATE!", pretty much gives it away.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Infinity Knights, as well as their (possible) minion the Instructor.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted; the Inspector has had two otherwise-unrelated Associates named Aiden.
    • Not to mention the fact that two consecutive actors playing the Inspector were named "Steve."
  • Planet of Hats: A literal example in "Morton's Fork", which in part focused on the backstory of the Eleventh Inspector's bowler hat.
  • Poor Man's Substitute:
    • The character of the Inspector was, arguably, inspired by the mysterious Inspector Goole from J. B. Priestley's 1945 play An Inspector Calls, which was adapted for the BBC in 1954 by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale, but veteran actor Leslie French quickly established the role as his own with his portrayal of the patronising, cantankerous, but deeply moral First Inspector.
    • In a trippy Second Inspector serial, Hamish Wilson's character Aiden is temporarily replaced by some bit actor from Emergency – Ward 10 named Frazer Hines.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: "Communality Above the Atmosphere", which eventually led to the moderately successful series of the same name. Ironically, the resulting programme took so long to actually air, is so different in tone and focus, and makes such few and fleeting references to its originator, it's not generally included in the list of spin-offs above.
  • Prisoner of Zenda Exit: The Sergeant, regularly, but Count Morbus pulls off a particularly spectacular one at the end of "Terror At Tooth Point".
  • Product Placement: The serial "Space-Break", which featured the character the Tang Seer, also featured a lot of people quaffing and extolling the virtues of a brightly-coloured "astronaut" beverage (that failed to penetrate the UK market).
  • The Quest: "The Bolt of Space" arc, in which over the course of half a dozen serials the Inspector searched for pieces of the titular MacGuffin, which was a part of either the Cosmic Portal Lock or the Fourth Dimensional Coupling, depending on whether one believed the Blue Warden or the Orange Warden.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Mimmek, one of the Fifth Inspector's Associates, was originally going to be a shape-shifting robot alien. However, the mechanical prop kept breaking down, so he was hastily rewritten as "Mimmek the Invisible". Oddly enough, this has caused him to be (supposedly) one of the longest-running Associates, as Word of God says he's still travelling with the Inspector, but he's "just been very shy lately".
    • A sadder example is Graham Chapman's early departure from the series due to his growing health problems.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Originally the programme used Gustav Holst's "Jupiter", then quite controversially switched to a version of "Kashmir", by Led Zeppelin.
  • The Reptilians: The Eocenes, Ocean Demons, Serpentians, and Sulphur Soldiers. Also, Queen Elizabeth II in the episode "The Humans of Westminster" (HMQ is not a fan).
  • Riddle for the Ages: Often at the end of a serial, after the Inspector has revealed how he had solved the plot's central mystery, his Associates ask, "But why/how/what {{[[[Plot Hole]] whatever}}]?" The Inspector always answers "I'll explain later," implying a Cliff Hanger, but in the subsequent story, the anticipated explanation is preempted by the next adventure.
  • Rogues Gallery: BTV has dubbed the Inspector's "The Circus of Creatures", a nickname derived from the title of a Third Inspector serial that featured cameos from all the major antagonists up to that point, from the Blorgons and Circuit-Chaps to the Sulphur Soldiers and the Crütonnes.
  • Romantic False Lead: Spike Milligan is this for Joanna, until she decides she doesn't like The Goon Show, and promptly dumps him for Minnie.
  • Running Gag: Every time a new Inspector takes over, the X7 starts making some strange new sound upon its arrival anywhere, which the new Inspector invariably considers to be the Most Wonderful. Associate and fan reactions have tended to be more mixed.
    • Having the Third Inspector make a cameo appearance, invariably involving tea-drinking, at some point during the run of each of his successors.
  • Samus Is a Girl: In the later serials of the Third Inspector's run, we learn that Yosif is actually a girl.
  • Say My Name: At the end of "The Previous Inspector", once the Detective and the Chief Inspector have been compelled to return the Tenth Inspector's powers when his innocence is established, he takes particular delight in this. When the Eleventh Inspector recruits Constable Wigglesworth as a regular Associate, the Inspector reminds him about this to prove his identity—and afterwards at every opportunity.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Inspector Spacetime is simply stuffed with them.
  • Screaming Woman: Most of the female Associates and some of the male ones.
  • Sequel Hook: The serial "Sphere of the Strands" ended with one, which was finally followed up on ten years and two Inspectors later, with the Third Inspector's final serial "Return to the Sphere of Strands". Might also qualify as a Brick Joke, although the Inspector had nothing to laugh about.
  • Sherlock Scan: Mostly averted. When commencing a new investigation, The Inspector prefers to seek out a well-informed local to explain what's going on rather than overplay his uncanny powers of deduction.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Irma and Bert are arguably an example; the arrival of the rather dour Second Inspector saw them replaced as Associates by the sword-wielding Aiden.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Inspector's use of the Optic Pocketknife (in the Red Nose Day special "Spacetime") to make a "Bat-Climb" is a shout out to both Batman and 5 Kudretli Adamlar ("Turkish Blacula").
    • Abed and Troy dress up as the Inspector and Constable Wigglesworth for Halloween in the "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps" episode of Community.
  • Shrinking Violet: Mona Virtue.
  • Space Whale: In the serial, "Brouhaha on Beeb" the Inspector and Jeffrey are trapped on a spacefaring, living vessel, on the scale of a blue whale. The serial also serves as a Thriller on the Express, as they solve a mystery on a moving, closed vehicle. And of course, it's a jab at That Other Show, since "Beeb" turns out to be the name of the creature.
  • Spin-Off:
    • Peacemist: Nicer Post and The Mary Sue Predicaments.
    • FE-Line, though its canonicity is debated.
  • Invisible to Gaydar: Gwaednerth Smith, Captain James' love interest and eventual husband/partner/companion.
  • The Superintendent: Trope Namer Head of Exo-Pol's London Branch, the old-fashioned Irvine Leith initially appeared as a Reasonable Authority Figure, but after a few stories, he began to embody this trope, as repeated exposure to extraterrestrial miscreants, as well the Fourth Inspector's mercurial personality, frustrated him considerably.
  • Starfish Language: The Theremen speak in high-pitched electronic squeals and squeaks.
  • Strange Syntax Speaker: The Circuit-Chaps' sentences are unrhymed iambic pentameter.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: The Seventh Inspector in the made-for-TV movie.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien:
    • The Blue and Orange Wardens are the programme's most prominent example. At one point the Inspector comments these two just might be "The universe arguing with itself."
    • The Oddities from "Oddly Out of Place" qualify as well.
  • Super Senses: Averted. Although other characters credit him with everything from mind-reading powers and psychic abilities to x-ray vision and ultra-frequency hearing, the Inspector's apparently superhuman perspicacity is really due to his brilliant ratiocination.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Early on BTV tried to replicate the Blorgon fad several times, never successfully. Most notable were the Leptons in the Second Inspector's adventure "The Servitors", as well as the massive Crütonnes in the Second Inspector's serial of the same name and the cuter Chavvies in the First Inspector's "Solar System 16".
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: The Centripetus storyline involved nefariously controlled ceiling fans that emitted a still unknown, but harmful type of energy.
  • Take That: The show occasionally takes playful jabs at its rival, although when that show first premiered, many viewers criticized the Inspector's sudden and numerous diatribes about the "thieves and lowlifes at Westminster" (where the BBC's Broadcasting House is coincidentally located) as being as a case of Writer on Board.
    • The "cool" leather coat and black t-shirt outfit of The Detective (played by Neil Gaiman) and the dandified velvet smoking jacket and lace cuffs ensemble of the Chief Inspector (played by Alan Moore) were obviously intended as take-offs on the fashion statements by the Ninth and Third incarnations of the Inspector's opposite number.
  • Taking You with Me: The Inspector blows up the Alternate Universe Terran Empire's High Citadel in "The Worst Ally".
  • The Teaser: A hallmark of the show from the very beginning. During the Sixth Inspector's run, like everything else, these got really weird.
    • For example, "The Mark of the Maharani" begins with a minute and forty seconds of a close-up of the Inspector staring into the camera and whispering a plot summary of the story. In Latin. Backwards.
  • The Team Wannabe: In the Neil Gaiman-scripted special episode "The Previous Inspector", it is revealed that the Detective and the Chief Inspector are not actually Infinity Knights but are really time-travelling admirers of the now-vanished Kayaclaschians and are attempting to assume their role, down to adopting their dress sense. Their appearance foreshadows the brief return of the Inspector-obsessed Infinity Knights to erase his chronological contradictions in "The Last Minutes".
  • Technical Pacifist: The Inspector often claims to be one.

The Fourth Inspector: Technically, Constable, it was the blood loss that killed him, not my Optic Pocketknife, although I see how you could be confused.

  • Time Day: As the Eleventh Inspector explains in 2011's Christmas Episode, "The 1981 Inspector Spacetime Holiday Special", it's a universal tradition for life forms to give each other "a gift at the end of each orbital cycle." So really, Time Day isn't a question of when but where.
  • Time Police: Literally, this was the function of the Infinity Knights before their society continued to expand and they slacked on their duties. Their arrogance eventually led to the Time Wave that destroyed the Inspector's civilization and most of the Blorgons.
  • Title Drop: This has always been favourite rhetorical device of the programme's writers, e.g. Constable Wigglesworth: "So you see, Detective and Chief Inspector, this evidence proves conclusively that the person before you was framed by The Previous Inspector!"
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The Constable and the poison pineapples. Doubles as a huge Tear Jerker.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: As seen in Peacemist, Wylf-y-Fwyddoch is home to at least eight different dimensional rips, five buried alien spaceships, a meteor capable of reanimating the dead, and a very suspicious flock of telepathic sheep. Although it's not too dark; owing to the family-friendly nature of the show, Haggard generally resolves problems by inviting the demons/aliens/undead/sheep/whatever over for a pint of ale, shepherd’s pie, and a folk song.
  • Trademark Favourite Food:
    • The Eleventh Inspector loves custard creams and coffee.
    • The Fourth Inspector carried a bag of wine jellies in his coat, which he'd offer to others.
  • Tsundere: Brooke isn't sure she loves the Inspector or wants to throttle him.
  • Unexplained Recovery: The Sergeant, beginning with his apparent death in "The Lethal Murderer", has successfully, if inexplicably, come back after: dissolving due to an algebraic proof he did not exist in "Mathsville", vanishing in his sabotaged Dimensioniser in "Space-Break", drowning in a liquid planetoid in "Moon of Water", and undergoing public execution by the Infinity Knights in the backstory to the 1992 TV movie.
  • The Usual Adversaries: The Blorgons. In the new Inspector Spacetime, they now show up at least once in every series.
    • Lampshaded in the 50th-anniversary series première, "Nothing But Blorgons".
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Beloved candidate for Prime Minister, Henry Anglo, until the end of season three when he reveals to everyone that he is actually The Sergeant.
  • The Voice: The Operator has never actually appeared in any Inspector Spacetime media.
  • The Watson: the Inspector's many Associates, most recently the Constable. His recent Associates in the new seasons also include:
    • Angelica "Angie" Lake
    • Rory Williams
    • Mona Virtue
    • Yorke
    • Joanna Martin
    • Captain James Haggard
    • Minnie Smythe
    • Lily Taylor
    • Mary Sue Brown made a cameo return on the new seasons, bringing with her the lovable FE-Line
  • Wayback Trip: The Eleventh Inspector's Christmas Episode, in which he and Constable Reggie travel back to 1981 in order to save Time Day from the Blorgons. Conceived as the new series's hat tip to the classic serials, it wound up featuring such badly misplaced nostalgia, inappropriate reused footage, awful musical numbers, and terrible "futuristic" special effects that it drew record hate mail from both fan camps.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Blorgons' infamous inability to swim. Their problem gets solved when the Orange Warden pops up and bestows on them an upgrade jocularly referred to as "a powerboating licence."
  • We Need a Distraction: Associate Petula's go-go dancing was often a triple threat, used to distract guards, fill air time, and provide Parent Service (though not so much the latter when she was played by Roy Higginbotham.)
  • Wham! Episode: "The Corporation of the Blorgons". The Orange Warden returns and gives the Blorgons their "powerboating licence", removing one of the race's major weaknesses. The Blorgon Commonwealth of Sentients collapses into three hostile factions. And then Jeffery dies.
  • Wham! Line: There has been plenty over the years:
    • Yorke: Human? Is that what you think I am, Inspector?
    • For the Anglo arc: "Remember your roots, Inspector, remember those ages past when you had so many adventures. They seem gone now, forgotten. So many things have been forgotten. Old enemies, old planets, even an old friend...."
    • "It's time you finally woke up."
    • The final lines of Series 6: "You've done so much: you've shattered the Time Cube, defeated the Blorgons countless times; you are the Scourge of Space, the Warrior of the Ten System, the Mythic Man. The daft Inspector travelling in space and time in his little red phone box... and you thought it was all real? No, no, no, my boy. You haven't been seeing the whole picture in so long. I'm contacting the mainframe and telling them to jolt you out of the hypersleep. Your reinvitigouration will be triggered artificially. You've been asleep too long, muttering in your sleep. It's time you finally woke up. It's time for quiet, time to rise."
    • "Maura, I didn't save you."
    • We want you to kill the Inspector, Brooke.
  • What Year Is This?: Averted. The Seventh Inspector typically announces he and Jeffery have arrived in a particular year only to be quickly corrected by a local.
  • Who Inspects the Inspector: The Infinity Knights' high command has on occasion taken exception to the Inspector's methods of performing his mission and conducted their own inquiries into them. Their interventions suggest that their impartiality may be suspect, however.
    • At the end of "Return to the Sphere of Strands", the Inspector successfully defended himself against their most serious criticisms, but he was nevertheless transferred to 1970s Earth as a Time Police Liaison with Exo-Pol, effectively exiling him, and required to metamorphose into the Fourth Inspector.
    • "The Internal Investigation of the Inspector" arc, obviously. By the end, the proceedings had gotten a bit silly, but that might have been the Inspector's plan all along.
  • Who Wears Short Shorts?:
    • Thorough Visor wears short shorts! This also led to some questionable moments between Visor and the Inspector when crammed in the X7 together. Of course back in that era it was all just joking, unlike the famous kiss the Inspector gave Capt. James when the latter volunteered for a suicide mission on the Inspector's behalf.
    • What, no mention of Robbie McMillan? His kilt was at least a handspan too short!
    • Kenny, the robot-obsessed youngster in the FE-Line spin-off series, is never seen without them.
    • The Indictor (...*shudder*), according to the few seconds of deleted footage that showed him from the waist down with his cloak open.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Yosif's sex wasn't revealed until a season after her introduction (though she states that the only reason she crossdresses is because it's easier to be a man).
  • Wibble Wobble Time Thing: Trope Namer.
  • World of Silence: Tacitropolis. "A punishment worse than death." To be banished there is crueller than the Inspector thinks any sentient deserves.
  • The X of Y: The traditional method of creating titles for Inspector Spacetime adventures. Just mix and match from Column A and Column B with "of" or "of the".
    • Column A: Age, Case, Claws, Circus, Creation, Colony, Day, Deserts, End, First, Foot, Funeral, Gloom, Humans, Identity, Incursion, Intersection, Investigation, Journey, Mark, Megaliths, Mind, Moon, Party, Persistence, Planet, Power, Rage, Reappearance, Reign, Return, Robots, Saviour, Sphere, Sins, Son, Spell, Theft, Tip, Tusks, Underground, Visage, World, Ziggurats
    • Column B: Aquanos, Asox, Blorgons, Circuit-Chaps, Circuits, Cobra, Creatures, Death, Deep, Doom, Earth, Forever, Good, Infinity Knights, Inspector, Life, Line, Living, Maharani, Mastodons, Midgar, Memory, Nede, Nightmare, Parallels, Pigator, Plasma, Quiet, Ruin, Shennong, Space, Strands, Sun, Terror, Time, Venice, Venus, Villainy, Water, Westminster, World, Zorl
  • Zeerust: As a 50-year-old programme often taking place in the decades and centuries to come, Inspector Spacetime inevitably has to deal with dated futuristic designs and failed historical and technological predictions. This also causes continuity issues, such as the Circuit-Chaps having access to more advanced machinery during the Paris techno-riots of "The Revolution" (1967) than in "The Lost Asteroid" (1965), despite the former story taking place over a decade before the latter.
    • Lampshaded with the Circuit-Chaps' original quasi-Victorian design, which subsequently was remodelled several times to emphasize its "retro-futurism".

Fandom-Related Tropes[edit | hide]

  1. mistakenly called a DARSIT in the very first episode, a famous case of Early Installment Weirdness
  2. a.k.a. the Blogons
  3. In all seriousness, though, there
  4. In reality, Inspector Spacetime is a recurring gag/homage to Doctor Who made by Community, which first appeared in its season 3 premiere, Community, and has been regularly referred to in later episodes. But that doesn't mean we can't have our own fun with it!
  5. Although the Fictional Document in question was strongly hinted to have powers beyond being a mere reference work.
  6. actually the film set of the 1903 Western The Great Train Robbery
  7. Or "Joan", for the Fifth Insector.
  8. Yes, yes, this is a massive simplification. The Sergent was involved. And the Indictor. And the Instructor. And almost certainly the Blue and Orange Wardens. More of the era's trademarked weirdness...